Major Alexis Briggs – Unofficial Report
On 28 September 2233 at approximately 18:00 hours, Trans-Hub Command fell prey to a systematic attack from a highly organized foreign collective. Coordinating in a two-tiered assault, an Incursion-sized Chosen squadron hit the outskirts of the Bay of Bones in an offensive blitz, followed by a covert cyber-strike within the heart of Accord HQ.
Typically restrained to the combative bravado of sheer militant aggression, on this occasion, the Chosen conducted their efforts with a deft hand; infiltrating the Accord’s center of operation through the smokescreen of a frontline-assault. Although I was able to stifle the Chosen advance on our doorstep, knowing that the military mainframe could potentially be hacked was a haunting prospect.
Official reports describe the incident as an engineering malfunction, but this instance was clearly a deliberate act of aggression against Accord HQ. For a brief period, nearly all primary Accord systems were disabled, including an attempt on the Hub’s Melding Repulsor matrix. Without its protection, who knows if the Arclight’s STIZ bubble alone is still powerful enough to repel the deadly advance of the Melding? No extent of combative might can save us from such an enigmatic tempest; the threat of the Melding’s encroachment is a ubiquitous concern, now more than ever.
Day by day the Chosen grow in numbers. They are getting stronger, smarter. I fear that this is only the beginning…
It has been one week since the Accord rallied to repair a small scale engineering failure or so the official story goes. Portrayed under the veneer of normalcy, what was pushed off to the masses as a minor glitch in an arbitrary system nearly brought the entire Accord to its knees. Say what you will about journalists, no silver tongued reporter could bend the truth quite as masterfully as the military. I should know, as a combat and tactical specialist for the Accord Special Ops unit I’ve traversed the murky terrain of moral ambiguity first hand. Honesty is a noble prospect, but widespread panic is the last thing we need at a time like this.
Fear has the unique ability to cling to the spirits of the disheartened, and fester in times of desperation. Though erect in domineering supremacy on the surface, the Accord is not immune to the most primal of emotions. Waves of uncertainty have undoubtedly permeated the hardy shell of humanity’s saviors. The appearance of the Melding merely chipped the exterior, the Chosen’s declaration of war only cracked the facade, but this last blow shook the Accord to its core. If the headquarters of humanity’s survival efforts could be so easily penetrated, survival as we know it drifts further into a realm of uncertainty.
I exhale in potent dejection, and withdraw from the inner workings of my mind. Solemn times call for ample reflection, or at least such thoughts relieve the itch of boredom. Although I’ve made a career consolidating the whims of military officials into concrete battle strategies, for the past 72 hours I’ve been uncharacteristically appointed to a veritable ivory tower.
Handsomely adorned, the powder white office perched in the executive wing of Accord HQ has served as my makeshift workplace, although it feels much more like a jail cell. With high ranking officials locked away in secret meetings I’ve been reduced to a glorified desk jockey; assigned to a disheveled tabletop towering with military reports and financial ledgers.
Outstretching my legs, I depart from the warm embrace of the office chair and drift over to the rear-facing window. A faint hum of collective voices resonates from the courtyard below. I watch as a new batch of recruits jog around a cyclical track followed by barking, red-faced drill sergeants. Near-tragedy certainly has a way of igniting patriotism.
Glimpsing at the tailored lawn, I catch my own reflection in the shatterproof glass. Scanning the reflective echo, my eyes dart from scar to scar, each boasting its own tale, its own battle. The essence of midmorning tedium quickly fades into fully-fledged reminiscence.
In all my years serving with the Accord, fighting to forge a stable existence for the remnants of humanity in the midst of utter hardship and perpetual bereavement, I’ve never faltered from my purpose. It is my directive as a member of mankind’s last bastion, to strive for greatness, to embolden the hope that flourished prior to the Arclight disaster, prior to the Firefall. Despite my personal charge, the Chosen’s unyielding grip on New Eden’s throat is beginning to test my resolve.
No matter how strong we stand, how poised we are for battle, the Chosen keep coming. What if they had succeeded in disabling the Melding Repulsor? In an instant, the enigmatic tempest could have engulfed the entirety of Trans-Hub, transforming it into something different, something alien. New Eden may be a refuge amid the Melding’s blemishes, an oasis amongst the caustic pockets that have settled in swathes across the planet, but how long will the Accord truly be able to defend this land from the mounting Chosen threat?
Shattering the quintessence of concentration, a dizzyingly loud mechanical screech blares through the ceiling intercom followed by monotony incarnate.
“ATTENTION MAJOR BRIGGS,” the words drone through the speaker, “REPORT TO CENTRAL COMMAND EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.”
“I guess that’s my cue,” I whisper, while taking one final glance at my blurry countenance, securing wild strands of hair with a carefully placed bobby pin. Walking briskly down the tiled walkway, I traverse the maze-like progression to the epicenter of Accord strategy and war planning. A tower of a man stands in statuesque precision beside the reinforced double doors.
“Major Alexis Briggs, reporting for –,” His intensity stops me in my tracks. “This way Ma’am,” he motions for me to enter with solemn rigidity. He trails my every move until we arrive at the command center. The room is dark, unusually so. A single source of light sways back and forth above my position, transforming the room into a collection of amorphous shadows.
“Sit,” A voice emerges from the obscurity. I examine the scantly lit chamber to no avail, and sit in a lone chair wedged between two armed guards.
“Major Briggs, thank you for joining us.” The distinctly raspy voice pervades the shadows. “We’ve sent for you today to discuss the events of September 28, last week’s incident.”
“Yessir,” I shift to reclaim an ounce of dignified posture. With an audible gulp I begin, “At 17:00 hours, I was informed by Accord Command that a large Chosen signature was detected west of Trans-Hub Command. Reports predicted a dozen Chosen dropships in the area, and in typical fashion, Command rallied all units to battle stations.”
With foresight on my side, the account did read as somewhat odd. Why launch a surprise attack in such large numbers so far west of Trans-Hub? Why not target Accord HQ itself, and catch us with our pants down?
“Where were you during these proceedings Major?” A secondary cadence emerges from the opposite corner of the hall, this one boasting a much smoother tenor. “Please describe your involvement in the secondary Chosen assault, the encounter with the covert attacker.” Shifting to the new accuser my mind drifts back to the origins of the engagement, the moment when my Accord career entered the tumultuous terrain characterized by mysterious court cases and ominous lighting.
“With the main contingency moving westward to meet the Chosen, I was assigned to stay behind and coordinate frontline battle efforts at Accord HQ along with a small defensive team. The base was sparsely populated at the time, with the vast majority of ARES Operators positioned at the frontlines in preparation for overwhelming opposition. We were not anticipating a synchronized attack on Trans-Hub Command.”
The secondary challenger closes the distance between us with long strides, one boot making a distinctive creaking sound possibly due to a damaged sole. At this range, enough light cascades off his face to paint a fairly predictive picture of his severe expression. He remains silent.
“The infiltrator arrived in absolute silence. No alarms were rung, no defensive measures tripped. The only hint that security had been compromised was a brief electrical disturbance that resonated for no more than ten seconds within the SIN Network. Originating from the Repulsor, I ordered two men to take a look, to ensure that the disturbance was just a glitch.”
A myriad of murmurs settle uncomfortably atop an ambiance of apprehension. “Continue,” a faint tentative essence clings to each syllable.
“I found the bodies of Corporal Adams and Corporal Richards just minutes after losing communication to their SIN relays. Both men were all but untouched except for a series of spherical puncture wounds showered across their chests,” I struggle to maintain a stable tone. “Neither of them had enough time to even draw their weapon.”
Without regard to the sentries positioned on both sides, I ascend to a standing position. “I made a judgment call. Maybe driven by panic, bolstered by revenge or emboldened by duty, I grabbed the untarnished pistol holstered in eerie calm on one of the butchered men, and advanced.”
Clearing his throat with a raspy cough, “What exactly did you find Major?”
“It was unlike any Chosen that I had ever seen before. “ I take a hesitant step forward. “Stunted and distorted, its body emanated some sort of translucent haze. Peeking around the corner, through the creature’s partial camouflage, I could only distinguish the rough profile of a thin, spear-like protrusion jutting from the posterior of its left hand. The other arm was less intimidating, outfitted instead with what looked like a large watch or some sort of electronic device.”
“Though standing right in front of me, operating with meticulousness near the Repulsor, I could detect only slight movements in the form of unnatural ripples in the air. In an instant its gleaming sapphire eyes locked onto mine, piercing the realm of concealment. At one moment I was observing the monster with inquisitive horror, at the next, it was upon me.”
“How on Earth did you survive?” “What happened next?” “Major Briggs!” The queries radiate with increasing volume.
Working under the convenience of ambiguity, I finalize my claim, “I eliminated the target,” subtly motioning to the combat knife strapped to my upper thigh.
No one would understand what I truly saw; the manner in which it moved, the way it effortlessly trounced my offensive. The confrontation was far more severe than I could have possibly portrayed which is why I aired on the side of vagueness. If lady luck had not granted me her favor on that day, propelling my blade with the unforeseen forces of good fortune, I would have been killed.
“After the deed was done, the Chosen’s deadened figure slumped to the concrete floor. Within minutes, the body began to seep a strange vicious fluid from the knife wound extending upward from its abdomen. By the time we returned with the remaining onsite operatives, all that was left of the body was a pool of opaque jelly that seemingly dissolved right in front of our eyes.”
The secondary complainant raises his voice, “Hmmm…that is quite a tale Major Briggs,” his gaze intensifies. “We have one final question for you; do you stand by your decisions – abandonment of your post and engaging an unknown target on some sort of impulse-driven suicide mission?”
“Not impulse sir, instinct.”
The room is quiet, hinging on absolute stillness. The single overhead lamp shutters then fades. With the click of an industrial switch, the darkness is illuminated in a glorious flash. I wince at the abrupt display, eyes beginning to water in response. The cryptic essence melts away under the harsh rays of the fluorescent bulbs above. As my vision returns, many of the shapeless figures transform into familiar faces. Admirals, Commanders, Generals; all top ranking members of the Accord.
Well-respected Accord official, Commander Clarke steps forward, “It is the opinion of this court that you be relieved of your duties as a tactical operator,” A pregnant pause sets the precedent for anxiety to settle in an uncomfortable knot in my gut. “…And promoted to investigate all unknown threats facing the Accord near the Melding Pockets and walls effective immediately. It’s about time we take the fight to the Chosen.”
Contrasting the gruff articulation, his countenance remains unsuitably relaxed. “This is not a court-martial. In any other scenario you would be charged with crimes in violation to Accord Law, but due to your efforts…you have saved us all.”
The jolt of anxiety begins to dissipate, “I’m honored to…”
“Take heed Lieutenant Colonel Briggs, we are at war. The Chosen are becoming more aggressive, more confident.” Commander Clarke expresses in utter seriousness.
“There have been strange reports near the Melding Walls, rumors of bizarre creatures, mysterious disappearances, and bands of refugees living in close proximity to the energy storm. It is your duty to explore these sightings while advancing our global war efforts against the bastards that prey on our very existence.”
I nod absorbing each and every word.
With the dramatics at a close, I earned a brief moment to decompress from the pseudo trial turned preferment ceremony. Attacking the Chosen on their home turf is a long overdue prospect. If the Accord has any hope of winning this war, we must expand war efforts to the Melding Pockets and move on the offensive. It might be a nice change of pace to take leave from New Eden, but the molten landscape of Diamond Head and the frigid wasteland of Antarctica aren’t exactly the most welcoming locales. Not to mention Sargasso Sea.
Onward to ending this war.
- Lieutenant Colonel Briggs