In the near future, the fates of seemingly unrelated people are all intertwined, and it's up to a group of unexpected heroes to figure out how.
The dreams were back. Taunting, abusive dreams. Shapeless faces. Laughing. Finding amusement in his misery.
A figure. Bathed in shadow. Standing outlined against a white frame. It was turning away from him. Moving to vanish into the light.
The voices continued as the figure's outline was consumed by the pale whiteness.
He tried to chase after it. Reaching out with his hand, he attempted to catch it. The action was futile. He was slow. He couldn't run. He fell. The laughter persisted. If anything, it got worse.
Why couldn't he catch it? It was trying to leave and he couldn't do anything. It was all his fault. He wasn't good enough.
Still the taunts and laughs continued.
"General. Are you sure that you are able to continue? You know, with everything going on as it is?"
Looking up from the heaping piles of paperwork that littered the top of his chrome desk, General Miles broke into a weak smile. The corners of his eyes creased, melding with the wrinkles of his temples.
"I'm fine, Colonel," he muttered, somewhat weakly. As the pale light, streaming from the numerous panels that lined the ceiling, fell on his head, his tin-coloured hair almost appeared to glow. "Stress is all a part of the job. If I can't deal with this, then I was never fit to hold my position in the first place."
"I was merely concerned as to your wellbeing, sir," Colonel Davidson stated, immediately standing up straight. As he did so, his pale grey uniform pulled itself taut across his wide chest and his medals gleamed from the left side of his breast. "What with the recent attack. Not to mention the incident with your so-"
"That's enough of that," Miles interrupted, his gaze sharpening. "I'll have no talk of my son here. And I know what you were doing." His slightly aged face broke into a weakly amused smile. "You were going to suggest that I step down. That I give up command of the Batallón."
Davidson's face tensed. His standing position shifted, his leather shoes squeaking against the floor as he awkwardly moved his feet.
"I'll thank you not to involve yourself with affairs that don't concern you...James. You already have control of the private sector. And I daren't ask what your little private army get up to while my back is turned."
"With all do respect, sir, the Letzten Angriff is only concerned with public safety. My men guard private homes and-"
"I didn't know that the weapons development institute was a private home." Miles broke into another smile. "I've tried to be lenient with you. I've let you get on with what you want, for the simple reason that there's no way you'd ever succeed in a coup. To be honest the men just hate you too much." The Colonel's eye twitched slightly. "And it's for that reason that, even if I did step down, you would be the last to know." He raised his hand and indicated towards the door. "Now if you'd be so kind as to leave my office."
As his slightly square jaw stiffened, Colonel Davidson span on the spot and made a beeline for the door. His uniform bunching around the underside of his right arm, he reached for the gleaming chrome of the handle and flung the door open.
"Oh, and shut the door on your way out," Miles added.
There was a loud metallic 'bang' as the door swung closed and slammed into it's frame.
'What an unpleasant man...' General Miles sighed to himself as he rose to his feet.
Glancing around his office, he admired his choice of decoration. The entire office had been plated in glaring steel sheets. All, save for, the window. Occupying the entire of the south facing wall, the glass revealed the outside world to Miles.
The only piece of decoration, save for his desk, was a small calendar. It was something that a child would have been likely to pick out. It featured a cartoon design of some sort of space ship, flying above the month. April. Despite the fact that it was, indeed, a Wednesday the current day ( the 9th) was written to be a Friday. From this, it was safe to assume that it was several years old. Nevertheless, the year was displayed in large block capitals.
The actual year was 2172.
The city that was overlooked by the General's window was called Capital. Well. Perhaps city wasn't the best term.
A futuristic 'country' of sorts and centre of the scientific world. First founded in the year 2107 with the construction of the Particle Physics institute of central USA. Built around the institute, the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming were converted into the concrete rainforest known as Capital.
The entire area of occupation is nothing more than massive laboratory. A seething mass of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction. Making, breaking and repairing.
But it isn't all about particle physics. Far from it. Nor is it focussed on construction.
Biochemistry and medicine. Thousands of different labs, medical facilities and hospitals. The doctors that serve as Capital's primary occupants have cured practically every disease known to man, creating a perfectly healthy society.
However, every Eden has it's snake.
While being considered the most powerful country in the world, Capital has gained a large level of negative press.
Due to it's split from the American government, and gaining independent laws, the remainder of the continent views it with mixed feelings. A kind of midway between awe and suspicion. Somewhat like the Vatican City and it's independence from the rest of Italy. Just on a much larger scale.
Another downside to Capital. The protests. Too many to count. According to the numerous activist groups, the tests performed to gauge the effect of new drugs are unethical. For all the public know, they could be. They just don't care. When you grow accustomed to living in near perfect health, you don't seem to care whether the animal your drug was tested on had a good life or not. In it's most basic form, it could be likened to battery hens in the early 2000's. People don't care what the living conditions of the animals are. They just want food for themselves. Nothing more and nothing less. The ends justify the means.
And while we're on the subject of food, the question may have arisen to you: "In a country entirely constructed of concrete and steel, where do they obtain their food?" Simple. They import it from abroad.
Very much like the British or French empires of the 1800's and early 1900's, Capital has grown so substantially in power that it has come to own numerous foreign masses of land. And for those it does not own, it trades technology for food.
But, of course, something as advanced as this requires some kind of protection. Well that is where General Miles comes in.
The Batallón Última. A large scale army, used for the defence of Capital. Numbering at close to one and a half million soldiers, at their lowest, they are the reasoning behind the Capital Government's "land ownership".
Then there is Colonel Davidson and his so called "private army". Dubbed as Letzten Angriff by Davidson, they serve as a private section of the Batallón, that are used to guard private estates. Their name (though not officially recognised as a title) was created by Davidson as an allusion to his native country of Germany and displays his ambition to eventually take over command of the Batallón. Last Attack. Quite apt.
"Really? You mean it? .... So I passed all of the tests? I can really get The Drug?"
He could hear her voice from the other room. He was glad that she was happy. He wished that he could get up and go in to her. To say that he was glad that she would get better soon.
The only problem was that he couldn't.
He simply sat on his sofa and sighed. In front of him, the television set broke through the dim afternoon light, casting shadows across his wide face.
Bursting into the room, his mother runs towards him and hugs him, struggling to fit her arms around his wide frame. Her tears gleam from the sides of her cheeks as she presses her face against her son's.
"They said yes," she cries. Still the tears of relief flow down her face.
"That's great, mom," he mutters, grunting slightly as he lifts his arms to return the hug.
"I don't care about the protests," General Miles grunted down the phone that was currently pressed against the side of his face. "You know as well as I do that our forces can handle them. Our priority is to find the professor." He paused for a few seconds as the person on the other end of the line talked. "It may very well be that he's dead, but that's not up to you to decide. Until we hear anything otherwise, he's missing." Again, he paused. "Well how far have the crew gone into the site?" Another pause. "You mean to tell me that not even construction robots can dig through the rubble?" He sighed to himself, rubbing his free hand along the base of his jaw. "I know they're only used for construction, but use a bit of common sense. If they can lift I-Beams, then they should be able to dig through into the lab!" A muffled shout came from the phone. The sound was lined with static. "What do you mean, the robotics department won't let us use them?! Professor Badjio was the man who created the robots! Why would his own department not allow us to use them to find him?!" The reply came. "Don't trust us?" He listened to the reply. "They're worried that if they lend us one, we're going to steal it?! Tell them that it would be nothing of the sort!" He slammed the phone down on the table and let out a brief groan.
Splayed out across his desk, numerous pieces of paper all bore the same name, scribbled at the top. Professor Jazinder Badjio.
"Ever since that terrorist attack, things have gotten so much worse...." he muttered, talking to himself.
Three months prior, a small terrorist organisation had launched an attack on the main branch of the MRF (Medical Research Facility). The ensuing chaos resulted in the collapse of one of the neighbouring buildings. Professor Badjio's private lab.
It became known after the fact, that the attack was a form of protest.
A protest against a new drug.