This is my first attempt at fan-fiction in general, I hope you enjoy!
The city was alive. Not in a traditional sense though. The buildings were crumbling into broken heaps and no traffic filled the streets. But vegetation flourished, animals roamed freely and the Liberty Dome far overhead created a self-contained ecosystem that vibrated and hummed with energy.
Michael Seismeyer loved it. He used to hate the city, loathe the way things used to be before the Ceph attack. But since the nasty out-of-towners had been defeated, and CELL had taken over managing the new energy resources, life seemed to be progressing in a much nicer order.
He reclined on a lawn chair on the roof of the dam located in what used to be the Financial District of New York City. The sun shined down through the porous glass ceiling hundreds of feet up from the base of the dome. Birds were calling to each other from further down Nassau Street, and he could barely see small deer and wildlife crawling through the underbrush far beneath the man-made structure.
He sipped from his soda, and listened to the gentle water go rumbling through the energy generating portcullis beneath him. A soldier was pacing below; his rifle held casually in his arms as he swept his gaze from left to right. Michael could hear the faint buzz of radio chatter from elsewhere in the dome.
Ever since the rebels had freed the man codenamed 'Prophet' the entire Liberty Dome had been on high alert. Two days ago gunshots could be heard echoing through the narrow canals and bouncing off of the crumbling skyscrapers surrounding the dam, and the proprietary CELL energy source further in the distance had been placed into a very strict state of lockdown.
"How is everything going?" Seismeyer shouted to the patrolling soldier down below.
"Alright, it's been quiet. They blew a tunnel over by the main entrance and our guys are just now working their way through." The trooper held his hand to shade his eyes as he looked up to speak at Michael.
"Thanks, keep me posted if you hear anything amiss."
"You got it Doc."
Michael leaned back on his chair. He had been contracted by CELL right after the Ceph incursion 24 years ago. He had a PhD in hydrology from Stanford, making him one of the foremost remaining experts in water tables and water-oriented construction projects in the world. It also meant that this hydroelectric dam was his baby.
His communicator rang at his waist and he reached down to flick it on.
"This is Michael."
"Hello sir." His chief technician began. "We have some brass from CELL military here to ask you some questions about location security and safety protocol in the event we have an infiltration; they want to talk to you."
Michael gave his quick assent and headed down the nearby stairway, grabbing his drink and leaving his plastic chair to heat in the sun. He waved casually to the nearby guard and walked briskly to an elevator at the front of the dam. Misting water obscured and stuck to the Plexiglas covers, making him feel like he was in a fish tank as he descended into the bowels of the structure. The mix of humidity and heat made the internal temperature climb by 30 degrees from the external temp, but they had yet to find a way to allow more air flow while still maintaining security.
He quickly jogged down some stairs to the lower control room. Despite being 46 and somewhat showing his age, he was in good shape. Having to survive and live in the new landscape of New York also provided for plenty of exercise. He pressed his thumb against a biometric reader next to the control room door and waited for the automated processes to wrap-up. The door slid back quickly with a gentle hiss, and Michael noticed two individuals in full combat gear. Their visors were up so he could make eye contact with them.
"Gentlemen. I heard you need me to run some things by you both." Michael outstretched his hand. The men simply stared down at it and then looked back into his face.
"Yes sir, we have been tasked with evaluating the integrity of this structure in the event Prophet visits."
Michael stared from man to man, feeling ornery since his handshake was snubbed, "What, you guys couldn't catch him?"
A tepid silence descended upon the room, the faint beeps and whirrs of the nearby computers providing the only noise. "No sir, we were not able to do so, nor was a body recovered. We would appreciate it if you approach this matter with seriousness." The two men looked at Michael piercingly.
Since CELL task force groups ran most of the interior elements of the dome, having a civilian run such an integral part of the infrastructure was always looked down upon by the military arm of the organization. Michael could see the distaste and lack of trust in their eyes. "Fine, I'm sorry." He looked away at a nearby computer. "Come over here and I'll show you what we have."
The two soldiers followed him to a nearby console as he logged in and used his high-priority clearance to access the security schematics for the area.
"As you can see we have a contingent of troops, automated turrets and a full complement of airborne utilities in the event of an infiltration. This place is, pardon the pun, fairly watertight." He turned to look at his visitors, hoping to see some look of relief on their faces.
"Well sir, that may very well be the case but the fact of the matter is that Prophet is not a normal soldier, as I'm sure you know." A faint smile crossed his tanned face. "In fact, he could be in this room right now and we would likely not even know it." The statement sunk in.
Michael darted his eyes around and looked at the men closer to try and detect a sign that he was being joked with. "You guys are serious aren't you?" They both nodded.
"Sir, we hate to cause any undue panic but we have very solid Intel that Preacher is going to be approaching this facility soon. He means to target it to short circuit and cause errors within our alternate power facility downriver."
Michael shook his head. "This dam is very tough. He would need an army, to get through here. He has two generators to shut off, not to mention the automated air defenses and sheer number of troops. Plus, even if he shuts off the power the dam will still hold the water back."
The two men looked at each other. "Sir," the shorter of the two men began, "will you please follow us up to the top of the structure."
Michael followed the two men back through the staircase and into the lift that carried them back into the fresh air of the Liberty Dome. "Sir, look out beyond us."
Michael leaned against the railing, feeling the slight vibration of millions of gallons of water funneling beneath his feet. The buildings stretched out before him. Carved into islands of former commerce where the previously free-moving river had hewn through the sewer systems and subway tracks. A large flood plain extended into the maze, large trees and vines swinging in the breeze generated by the downdraft from the dam.
The man next to him spoke once more after a few moments, "He is out there right now. He may be watching us; he may be killing our men. We need to make sure that this facility cannot be destroyed or altered in any way."
Michael looked at him. Feeling helpless and out of his depth. "Alright, what do we need to do?"
The second man began to speak when a loud popping noise erupted on the floor of the basin below. The radios of the two men exploded into noise, troops requesting backup and directing others to support positions. The higher ranking soldier's visor descended over his eyes and Michael could see the gentle glow of various readouts and dials appear.
"Right now sir," the other man began, "you need to hide."
The sirens echoed throughout the concrete bunker. Michael scrambled down the stairway, his hands gently rolling along the rails to keep him from falling forward. The echoing of the water made all other sound cease to exist. He had taken an emergency executive stairwell to the generator rooms and was trying to force a lockdown of the facility.
"Warning to all site personnel, this is a security alert. Please report to your superior for further direction." The pleasant voice urged Michael and the other workers to seek safety.
This is not good, not good at all.
Michael scrambled to place a dedicated encryption on the motor, making it lock into production mode and continue generating unless manually stopped. It was a last ditch effort. He scanned the nearby rank of computer monitors, trying to spot anything going awry on the roof of the dam, but he only saw soldiers hunkered into defensive positions.
He scanned the other monitors, his anti-air and turret capabilities were up and running. And he could see that his airborne forces were approaching over the lake.
This should be enough, right?
He wiped a spot of sweat from his brow, turned off his console, and ran back up the stairs. He reached the doorway to the underwater bridge that connected both power supplies and gently cracked it open. It was abandoned.
The distended water filtered sunlight filled the small walkway. The dull thump of chopper blades could be heard in the distance, as was the distinct sound of gunfire, now louder and more often piercing the air. He quickly crossed the bridge and ducked into the opposite stairwell.
OK, this should be much easier…one down, one more to go.
He exhaled, rolled his shoulders and ran down the staircase once more. He once again turned on the console and once again began automatic locking procedures. Another bank of cameras was arrayed on the far wall. The loud grinding of the hydroelectric generator blocked out all noise, but the images were enough.
His brief trip through the tunnel was enough time for Prophet to arrive. Sprawled bodies were strewn across the top deck. Pools of blood were caking on the hot concrete, and the center turret was sparking and sending up puffs of acrid, black smoke. Another camera further down the line showed troops still bracing for combat and readying themselves for a fight. Yet another showed the top of the structure he was in, bristling with security and anti-air batteries.
He went back to check on the shutdown sequence, saw it was complete, and shut down his programs. Once again running up the stairs, bypassing the crossover deck, and reaching the surface; where silence was the dominant factor.
Michael breathed heavily; spotted the same soldier he had spoken to earlier and hustled over behind a low stack of supply crates marked with the CELL logo.
The soldier stopped and looked at him; he was showing signs of panic. "Well, we lost half of the guys in about 4 minutes. Nobody saw anything but tracers. He hacked the turret and we had to take that out ourselves." He leaned his shoulder against the crate and crept closer, "He apparently threw a soldier over the falls. It's crazy man."
Michael nodded and stared past the soldier into the water of the lake, watching the sunlight play off of the small waves. "Alright, thanks for the update. Where are the two commanders who I went to go meet earlier?"
The soldier shrugged and Michael patted him on the shoulder before moving around the crates and silently listened for any movement. He could hear the distant buzz of radio chatter, quickly turned down to be unheard by prying ears, and then the soft tread of footsteps on the main walkway. He peered over the edge of the supplies he had moved to, and squinted at the moving soldier.
The shotgun he carried was steady, his holographic sight casting a faint glow on the oiled stock. He stopped in the center of the path, crouched to one knee, and laid the shotgun across his thigh.
"Air support, this is Hydro Tango, do you read?" The soldier spoke in a Southern US drawl. Michael could hear a reply of some kind as two copters approached from the basin, quickly swooping over the dam. The crouching soldier's next words were muffled. He tensed and brought his weapon to his shoulder. An arrow screamed through the air and punctured his throat, the force throwing him backwards and the suddenness of the attack causing the remaining soldiers to open fire in the general direction of the shot.
A medic quickly ran up to the struck man, pulled him into the shade of a concrete barrier and checked his pulse. Michael could see the curt shake of the head notifying the nearby platoon leader that he was dead.
"Shit." It was all he could think to say. The cacophonous gunfire went quiet and the sounds of the surrounding jungle crept back into the fray. Birds calling and insects humming.
He saw a brief shimmer off to his left, turned quickly and was blinded by the reflecting sunlight. Nothing was there. The lapping of waves on the concrete was the only other nearby noise he could hear. He crept to the edge of the water and looked down into the depths. He cast his glance over to a nearby ventilation shaft. It should have been closed…it was not.
He ran to the opening and peered inside hoping to see who or what may have descended into the generators. Nothing. He leapt up and ran to the doorway down into the centrifuge, "Everyone near me, generator room, NOW!"
A few nearby troopers prepped their weapons and hurried after. The steps were descended quickly, Michael's soft shoes and the boots of the following soldiers rapidly descending. They entered the main room, the sound deafening. He once again saw a brief shimmer and could have sworn that the outline of a visor could be seen. A loud spark and tremor shook the room, as the generator slowed.
"What is happening?" A soldier further up the stair case asked. Michael stepped aside and gestured for the soldiers to move into the main room as he stayed out of the line of fire. The generator stopped, making the thrum of water on this side of the dam slows down considerably. "He is in here with us." Michael whispered, fearful.
The attack took only twenty seconds. Of the five soldiers in the room, three were dead in the first five. A grenade rolled to their feet, exploding and sending shrapnel into their bodies. Michael ducked behind a nearby beam, barely dodging the pieces and stumbling backwards up the stairs.
The two remaining men opened fire, bullets deflecting off of nearby metal compartments and smashing into the protective armor of Prophet who appeared as a dark figure in the red warning lights of the room. He pulled his bow string taut and fired an arrow into the eye socket of the rightmost man, then rapidly accelerated to the other soldier, grabbing him by the neck and choking the life from him.
Michael stared. His mouth agape.
"Time is running out, you're lucky." The voice emanated from the suit, menacing. The figure quickly disappeared in an instant, active camouflage hiding Preacher from sight. Michael could feel a slight puff of air near his face, and heard the sound of soft footsteps running behind him, despite there being nothing readily visible.
I need to move, right now.
He jumped up and ran through the staircase, making heads turn from soldiers still stationed at the top, oblivious to the slaughter of their fellow soldiers a few floors below them. He looked around, gently making eye contact with the remaining individuals above him and in front. "He is already here." He stated bluntly. "He is probably moving into the other generator."
The soldiers stared and him briefly then broke into a fast run to the opposite generator tower. Almost on cue, gunfire erupted from across the dam, the shouts of soldiers being muffled by the explosions of ordnance and the shouts of commands.
Michael turned away and ran to the far side of the dam where there was an evacuation post. It was abandoned. The soldiers guarding it must have joined the fight. He thought to himself. A large zip line stretched from the upper reaches of the dam, and pointed down towards the basin. Disappearing amidst the various over-growths that were covering the line.
Crap. He stopped, wondering how fast he would be going, and thinking about how damaged he would end up after hitting the vines far below. An explosion ripped through the complex, a large smoking heap of concrete leapt into the sky at the distant generator facility as the whine of the motors died down.
Prophet had managed to shut off everything he needed to. Michael grabbed a harness, hooked himself to the line, and propelled himself down to the ground. He swept through the vines and plants quickly, cutting his arms and face. He landed in a pool of water, splashing murky brown gunk and scattering nearby birds.
He quickly unclicked his harness, wiped some of the blood from his brow and ran further into the jungle-ridden district. He heard a loud boom, and turned towards the dam. The jungle went silent; he heard a large pop and a piece of concrete flew through the air to land on the ground about 200 feet away. Water flooded through the hole that had opened. Shooting out with violent force and causing the ground to rumble.
How did he blow the dam? Michael wondered, stuck in position as he watched the dam far ahead of him collapse under the weight of the held water.
It seemed to happen in slow motion. Cracks tore through the wall and began to seep water. Large explosions rocked the valley where Michael watched his life's work crumble before his eyes. A torrent of water began to funnel down the valley towards him. He couldn't run from water going that fast.
He simply sat on a nearby log and waited. He could spot Preacher off to the side, watching the crumbling dam like he was. The dam finally gave way, a flood of concrete, metal and water screaming towards him at 80 miles per hour. It slammed into his body.
For a moment, Michael was aware of his body, aware of his being. But he quickly realized that this was it. Prophet had won, and who knows what else he would do now. The world around Michael went back.
The water carried him downstream as Prophet moved through the upper canopy of trees and decimated buildings.