Fires of Gehenna

“Anderson, look at the angle you took, exposing both your rear, and slowing your speed. You made it easy.” What follows each critique is three-dimension battle recordings displayed in a holographic sphere that revolves by the swipe of a finger. “Parker, where to begin? You went down in five seconds. You never even finished your entry maneuver. Simulation 4 is a poor choice for an unknown enemy.” The mistakes pile up, one by one, to where we broke down as a team, essentially turning into a bunch of decapitated chickens, random nerve impulses leading our ridiculously expensive aircraft into certain destruction. I’m last. “Riber, your idea to turn off the night vision was risky, but it paid off, as it revealed the enemy’s position to your surveillance systems. If not for you, your entire team would’ve been picked up without firing a shot.” By mistake, I let the shy indication of a smile crack the edges of my lips. It is addressed. “Too bad you didn’t survive to collect any commendations, Lieutenant Riber. I’ll make sure to issue them to your tombstone.”

The holographic vanishes. The lights rise.

“I got news for you corpses. What you just encountered in there—it’s real. We don’t know whom they are, we don’t know what they want, but we do know they’re tearing apart everything we throw at them! And so help me God, if I hear any of you speak a word of that classified information outside of this room, you’ll be shipped off to battle in pieces cause I’ll tear you apart first.”

The meeting over, it’s time for Bruce, Bob and Dana to start drinking, Frankie and Janice to start (covertly) fucking, and for Julie, Roger and myself to start studying.

It’s not going to happen, not tonight.

A man stands next to our instructor. This man needs no introduction.

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