In the Eye of the Swarm
Chicago stands in ruin. The skyline burns red in the distance, an image of horror in the rear view mirror. Your exodus is a blur. Through bleary eyes, the city recedes into a fiery smudge while your adrenaline quickly gives way to exhaustion.
Sleep offers no respite. Even in your dreams, the maelstrom awaits; the reflective silver towers of the metroplex paying homage to the city’s unearthly malefic sky.
There is no escaping the news coverage of the wreckage. With every passing moment, the city is put farther behind you, but shots of the government’s response are plastered across every vid. Satellite news feeds nag at your comlink, tenaciously updating every agonizing change. It’s a sensationalist wreck of supposition and conjecture. Not a single camera shot comes within a mile of the city limits. Not a single report comes anywhere near the truth.
They are calling it a quarantine; a biological event. Even the simsense anchors manning the news feeds aren’t fooled. Leave it to the Military to try and hide a giant astral disruption in a blood red sky.
It’s the military presence that gets most of the screen time. They are saying that FEMA was first on the scene, but it’s impossible to tell. Now it’s just panzers and boys in black as far as the eye can see.
Those slags showed up suspiciously fast; got locked down and fully entrenched before the panicked mass of fleeing citizens reached the border. The first to arrive got lucky. They were letting people through for a while in a nice orderly fashion, but something changed. One minute they’re acting like captain fucking america, and the next they’re dropping barricades down on all of the the rivers and roads and backing off traffic at gunpoint. Created a god damn DMZ right there in the fucking outskirts of Chicago. There were some protests, but all that drek ended when one of those sorry slags tried to run the border. They didn’t have any issue keeping the DMZ clean after that.
The real action shows up in the background of an interview here and there, but doesn’t get much press. While all of the heavy hardware is on the front line, the spooks turned the Chicago suburbs into a staging ground. With what little footage you’ve been able to see, it’s exactly what you’d expect of the boys in black; a complete clusterfuck; a sea of self importance with too many agencies to count.
The sound of gunships in the background however is unmistakable. Unsurprisingly, they somehow never make the public feeds. A few Shadownet sites claim that they are flying sorties into the city almost every hour, but it’s hard to separate the truth from the drek at this point.
You don’t have to imagine what they might find there. You’ve seen more than most, even if it was in a haze of ambiguity until the very end. The pieces still haven’t come all together in your head, but you know enough. That is, you knew enough early enough to get your ass outside of the city limits before the barricades went up. Guess that means you did something right.
It was a long ride to Seattle, but you barely remember the trip. The hum from the first crack in the sky is still buzzing in your head, and your first glimpse of real civilization in days seems surreal. It’s clearly not Chicago, but the sky isn’t on fire here, so that’s something.