|Whitfield Blvd., Dalabaia; Emergence Day|
Shirley Davis smiled as she waved to the nearby group of pedestrians, although they couldn't see it behind her combat helmet. It had been six weeks since the war ended, but it seemed like the parades and parties were still going strong, and everyone kept treating her and the other Gears like rock stars, which she guessed they were in a way. These people had never known what a world without war was like, they had all been born into a world dominated by a brutal, almost century long conflict. Sure, it had never touched these people before, the closest it came to affecting them was if a friend or relative was drafted or joined the military. They hadn't been forced from their homes in order to avoid an oncoming armored regiment or been caught in a shelling, they had lived comfortably far behind Coalition lines.
She shook her head slightly, Don't think like that, these are the people you're meant to protect. It's not right to think less of them for not experiencing the war. She looked back ahead to notice the rest of her squad moving away from her quickly, apparently she had slowed her pace without even noticing. She jogged to catch back up just in time to hear Arthur Hendrickson complaining.
"Sarge, we've been out here for two hours, when do we get to head back to the fort?"
Sergeant Simone Kiser didn't even bother turning his head to respond, "Just another hour and then we're good, now don't ask again. You're getting dangerously close to nerves I don't have."
After the armistice was signed, ending the war, the Coalition's armed forces, including those of the former UIR nations, were given a few weeks of leave to celebrate the COG's victory. They had just come back to service, but instead of deployments into warzones, the Army's job now seemed to consist of patrolling cities for almost no reason. Sure, there were the Gorasni, but they were a continent away and posed little or no threat to a city like Dalabaia.
As they rounded the corner onto Kitmer Street, she felt something in her boots, little vibrations that seemed to grow rapidly until the whole street was shaking, nearly knocking her off balance. She managed to correct herself before she fell, and now she was alert just as the first screams of "earthquake" reached her ears. Only something seemed different about this, and while she hadn't been in any earthquakes before, it didn't feel like she thought it would. Instead of big and happening everywhere at once, this felt much more localized, almost like the epicenter was right beneath her.
Before any of them had a chance to try to warn people to take cover, a piece of the road collapsed and fell into a sinkhole which was emitting a strange green gas. As far as she was aware, this wasn't supposed to happen. Even stranger, the rumbling near them stopped and she swore she could've heard what sounded like a growl, but she put it down as being the sound of an aftershock of something similar. That was until she spotted the first pale, clawed hand reaching out of the hole. What followed was one of the most terrifying things she had ever seen in her life: the hand was connected with a massive humanoid figure, almost reptilian looking in nature with pale scales covering its body. In its incredibly muscular arms, it carried a large, crude looking rifle, almost as if it had been cobbled together from early Pendulum Wars designs.
It stood there and looked at the Gears as more of its kind crawled out of the hole, just as disgusting and horrifying as the first. After half a dozen had emerged from the opening, the first one turned its attention towards a group of civilians, either frozen by curiosity or fear, and it grinned, bearing an array of sharp and jagged teeth. It and its comrades raised their rifles and began firing into the crowd, the burst-firing weapons tearing into the civilians, who died screaming as they were torn to shreds by the high caliber ammunition.
Sergeant Kiser hadn't even finished his order before the squad raised their Lancers and opened fire on the monsters, and to her amazement and terror, they didn't seem to be all that affected by it. They weren't wearing what appeared to be very protective body armor, it was if their skin was thick enough to just absorb the impact without slowing them down. The squad began backing up towards a parked car, all the while firing at the creatures. They quickly turned to face the Gears and began firing at them, a burst hitting her chest plate just as she dove behind the car. While they bounced off, they knocked the air out of her lungs, causing her to gasp for air and she could already feel the blood pooling beneath her skin. Whatever those guns were firing, they were bigger than the Lancer's bullets, something that didn't equate to being a good thing.
Kiser put a finger to his helmet, opening a communications line with the Combat Information Center at the nearby Fort James E. Sarris, "Control, this is Yankee-Three Sixty Five. We're under attack by unknown hostiles on the corner of Whitfield and Kitmer! I repeat, we're under attack!"
The reply came through a moment later, "Roger that, we have received multiple reports of hostile contacts throughout the city. Can you confirm their origin?"
"If you mean "Are they Gorasni," then no! They came out of the fucking ground!"
The person on the other end hesitated to respond, although they left the channel open and Davis could hear jumbled reports and calls for help on the other side. It's a full-scale assault on the city, she thought as gunfire continued to pound away on the other side of the car, the angry howls of the creatures filling the air almost as loudly as their weapons.