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Deconstruction by Ryan Enage
Deconstruction - Part I
Date: 21 March 2018, 11:09 pm
The birds woke Nathan up before the light did. White lines snuck in through the blinds. He tried to blink them away as he coughed.
The woman's voice was slightly modulated to reflect a mixture of regional variants. "Good morning, Mr. Seguin. Pollen levels are higher than normal today. Would you like to select from medication?"
He moved the dry brown hair away from his eyes, "No, thank you, computer." He insisted on the non-artificial intelligence, not to avoid change, but reliance. He turned off everything automatic except the medical queries. Charlotte insisted.
That reminded him to reach for the wall terminal and call for her. His wife was at a conference in London. The line went on for a few seconds, and then he ended it before the messenger option could pop up. She would call back later.
He yawned and pulled up a food menu. He liked to get the food delivery when she was away. He grumbled at remembering the Chinese place wasn't open until noon.
There were some clouds, but the blue and yellow came out more as he gazed from the porch. There was a noise behind him, and he thought it was the delivery ping, but it wasn't.
The vidscreen was on. "I thought I turned off the alerts," he muttered. White uniforms blurred in his peripheral vision as he looked down at the kitchen table for the control screen, "I know, I know, it's the award ceremony."
Everyone knew the Master Chief had returned, having defeated substantial enemy forces and bringing back a treasure trove of intelligence. Everyone did not know there was still a major enemy fleet, which would attack in weeks, if that.
Nathan wasn't in intelligence, but all message traffic with Reach Fleet Command had stopped over a month ago. The Space Command Security Council stated that a blackout was necessary for a massive redeployment, but no one said where. The solar system was getting very crowded.
They had talked it over. It was no sense getting near the mountains like some of the others did. An attack would end everything. They would be home, together.
But that was still weeks away, and suddenly he was a little apprehensive. But Charlotte had her career too, and the conference was going to help disseminate medical innovations among practitioners. It was also London, which was lovely.
He blinked and saw from the menu that the vidscreen had not been turned on by a news prompt. He slowly looked up at the urgent message on the screen, with the newsfeed frozen on a blur of white naval uniforms: "Immediate Evacuation."
The damn lines were all jammed. Everything electronic, even the old phones. Nathan hadn't trained Charlotte for anything else, didn't think they were there yet. He grabbed frantically at their family documents to shove in the black suitcase and tried to be calm.
The earpiece chimed. Usually he hated using a heads-up display, but he tried to take everything with him. He answered quickly, "Hello?"
"Is this Nathan Seguin?" He sighed, because the voice was terse, but he was used to it. "Yes."
"This is Lieutenant Fei, UNSC Marine Corps. I have orders to retrieve and convey you to the Kennedy Space Center."
Nathan frowned. "Lieutenant, I advise the Military Staff Committee at UN Headquarters. May I speak with Colonel Petrovich?"
"I'm sorry, sir. The Colonel was ordered space-side. An enemy attack is imminent."
He clenched his teeth. "My wife's in London. I need to know she's safe."
"Sir, everything's jammed outside the immediate area. Please cooperate with us, I've got orders to get you to the coast."
He sighed again. "Alright. How are you getting here?"
"This Pelican is going to be in your backyard in two minutes, sir."
The lieutenant was a man of his word. There was a gray box with wings that shut out the sun, with the word "MARINES" emblazoned with white letters on the sides. The dropship hovered just above the grass. Nathan's black dress shoes were gray compared to the sleek battle dress uniforms around him.
A black-clad Marine to the right helped him up. He saw the Marine's eyes through the visor. "Lieutenant Fei, sir. We'll get you to Kennedy soon as we can, sir. Please have a seat."
As he buckled in, the lieutenant looked back at the open cockpit and nodded. "Punch it."
The vehicle physically shook as the thrusters kicked in. A garbled voice over the intercom, "ETA fifteen." Nathan nodded to feel his vision move, and as the speed stayed constant, his vision began to settle.
He'd been in aircraft before, but not at combat speed. The four Marines in black armor were quiet, looking at different parts of the interior bay. The bay door remained opened, so he dared to look to the right.
They were flying dangerously close to the ground. He knew the buildings downtown were lower than usual to make space for a very busy area, but then there were cars honking below too, and he felt the pilot move the craft slightly to avoid more populated areas.
"UN Headquarters was evacuated," Lieutenant Fei leaned forward towards Nathan. "They detected an inbound vector during the ceremony. They kept it running on the newsfeeds to buy time for deployments before civilian evacuations got in the way."
Nathan shook his head, "What will the civilians do?" The lieutenant opened his hands, "Head for the evacuation points and bunkers. We had to get the forward deployed ready first."
"The whole damn Defense Coordination Zone's been on alert for months. Everything's supposed to be up there already." The junior officer frowned sympathetically. "That's all way above my pay-grade, sir."
Nathan chided himself. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I just really want to check on my wife."
"Hopefully Kennedy still has communications, sir."
There was a flock of birds that flew by below. Nathan and the Marines turned to watch them. He was never good at telling what kinds of birds they were.