Radioactive Armageddon Chapter 1
DescriptionPost Apocalyptic story in future setting, after a full scale nuclear war. Chapter 1 takes place in a bunker, generations after the war.
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Chapter 1: Calm Before the Storm 17 YEARS LATER... “Harry… Harry… Wake up, you lazy laggard, class is over.” Said Amber to an oblivious Harry who was currently out cold. Harry slowly stirred from his slumber and looked around his environment only to see Amber’s glistening blue eyes staring back at him, in a mostly empty room. She had short messy red hair which complemented her relaxed style of fashion which consisted of a tucked in white t-shirt, skinny jeans, and a set of red sneakers. The room lined with empty desks and even the teacher’s desk laid vacant in the front of the room. Harry ran a hand through his curly black hair, before standing up and retrieving his ST-800 tablet computerized system from under his seat. Half of his body was still asleep from his nap in English class, so his initial movements were very sluggish. He stuck the twelve by six inch oval like piece of technology into his back bag. “What did I miss?” He said, as he followed Amber toward the door. “Nothing much just the same old lecture about how classics are going to bring mankind back from the stone age, now come on and pick up your feet or we’re going to be late for history class.” Amber said teasingly as she took his hand and led the way into the crowded hallway of students. The worn blue lockers in contrast with the amarillo yellow walls reminiscent of the structure of a pre war school, almost made you think you weren't in a bunker. That said the seemingly normal daily ritual was tiring to say the least and Harry and Amber still had three out of 7 more classes to go, until they could finally get some much deserved free time. “So did you hear about the rumor going around about how there are talks going on about returning to the surface.” Amber said in a hushed conspiratorial tone, like she was somehow speaking treason. Harry sighed. “Yes I have, but still don't believe everything you hear, the surface is probably still a radioactive death trap. And you and I both know that Director Fallon ran for office on that repetitive motto of ``it's better underground than in the ground.” “Yeah but you know Director Fallon is the closest thing we got to those pre war politicians, you know, the ones that say pretty much anything and change their tune to the public opinion at the time.” “And?” “Well jeez Harry, I took you for someone who can hear. People are talking about going back to the surface as a tangible solution to a food shortage.” “Okay maybe if there was a food shortage which by the way I don’t see happening, I could see it being a possible solution. Other than that though, I see it as a death trap that is possibly teeming with radioactive mutants.” “Oh you watch way too many sci fi movies, radiation has never and will never mutate animals into monsters as all radiation does is give a slow painful death or give birth defects to the animal or person who has been exposed to it.” “Well we have never analyzed mutation from a hydrogen bomb.” “Harry, drop it. Radiation works the same way no matter what the deliverance system.” “Hey if we go up to the surface and get munched by mutants because Reds spiked their bombs with bio weapons, I’ll tell you I told you so .” “Okay whatever you say comic book scholar. Say, what would you do if the Director actually announced that we would be returning to the surface?” “You kidding? I’m not leaving, regardless if there are mutants or not, this place is hundred times better than the surface.” “ Maybe but aren't you tired of this bunker? The same halls, rooms, routines day in and day out.” “This bunker is what keeps us safe and safety is more valuable than thrill seeking.” “So you want to live down here for your entire life when there is an opportunity to live in a new world that is ours for the taking.” “Opportunity? Sounds more like a hazard when you think about it.” “Hazardous? Yes, but we wouldn’t even be on this continent if someone didn’t decide to brave the unknown.” The conversation between the two was cut off when they entered Mr. Davens room and he told the class to take their seats and greeted them with. “Good afternoon class today we are going to pick up on the exciting subject of the Resource Wars.” The class unanimously groaned at the idea of another lecture about the Resource Wars. “So class, who can tell me what started the resource wars?” Mr. Davens asked as he paced the room waiting for a response. “Wasn't it Britain?” Piped up Dainia. “Yes Dainia and why did they start it?” Mr. Davens said, inquiring further and like clockwork Diania responded. “They didn't want France to claim all the oil in North Africa.” She said with a level of enthusiasm that wasn’t matched in the room “Correct again now what was the result of that war Harry.” Mr. Davens said, trying to shift the questions to someone who wasn’t quite as alert. The question caught Harry off guard and since history wasn’t his strong suit, he frantically skimmed the text on his tablet. “Ummm wasn't it the total destruction of Britain and France and a power struggle between the rest of the European nations for the last amounts of oil in North Africa.” Said Harry practically reading word for word from the e book. “Couldn't have said it better myself, and that brings us to the cause of why we are where we are today. Today we will talk about the Russian-Chinese Coalition and how this communist and totalitarian regime managed to send man back to the stone age. Now this coalition was founded on disparity as both nations were starved of resources and only linked up to be able to capture and hold the oil in Africa against the rest of Europe. This though, ran out so the next nation they decided to plunder was the good ol’ United States, Alaska to be specific. Now the initial invasion was rough but eventually the U.S army was able to push the Coalition back into Russia where they were locked into a stalemate. That was until General Toby started his famous Siberian Offensive which utilized some of the very first genetically designed creatures which totally overwhelmed the coalition until in a final act of desperation they launched their nuclear weapons and we did in return. The good news is if you think we got it bad the coalition didn't even have any ARKs and instead they are reduced to nothing but ashes and will not ever rise again, but we on the other hand have prepared and shall rise up and build an even better world on the carcass of the old.” He carried on for another twenty minutes with a speech similar to many he had given before. At this point Harry actually wondered if this was just a show, or if he actually believed in this. He and everyone else in the ARK had heard of the same story about the end of the world, but that’s all it was. A story that they have all heard before, but really couldn’t relate to because they had spent their entire lives in the ARK. “Mr. Davens, when will we return to the surface?” Asked Steve, snapping Mr. Davens from his long winded lecture. He paused and looked Steve up and down in a look of suspicion. “To be honest kid, I don’t know the answer.” Mr. Davens said with nearly all his previous enthusiasm drained from the response. “That is the type of thing that only the Director and the Council can decide on.” Steve quickly followed up with. “Do you think they will?” Mr. Davens looked at Steve with a cold hard expression on his face. “No, I highly doubt it.” He said with a sigh before turning back to his desk. “You all may take this time to study quietly, just keep it down.” This basically meant that he was taking a break and the class was free to talk so long as it wasn’t loud. Harry turned around in his desk to already see the students moving into their various clicks and friend groups. Someone tapped his shoulder and when he looked to his side he saw Dainia. “Hey could you send me the notes for chemistry?” “Yeah sure. What’s your designation number?” Said Harry pulling up his chemistry notes. “65432.” She said as Harry punched in the code, then hit submit. “I got it, thanks.” She said as she retreated back to her friend group. Harry then stood up from his desk and looked around the room for a conversation to join. He saw three main groups and a few smaller ones, the first one, was largely made up of the red team football players and a few of their cheerleaders talking about the upcoming game on Friday. Harry particularly hated that group as they always seemed to be stuck up and too good for the non popular kids. To add to that the ringleader of the group is an annoying bitch named Zinnia, who seems to have a life goal of gossiping and pot stirring. The next group was made up of girls just talking about the latest 100 year old romance novel they just read but there was one thing that caught Harry’s eye and that was Grace. Grace was in Harry’s eyes the most attractive girl of them all. Her long blond hair complemented by her naturally curvy figure, made her the focus of many admirers and jealous onlookers in ARK. She was also the captain of the cheerleading team and seemed to be on par with a rocket scientist in academics. In Harry’s eyes she was the perfect one but, unfortunately for Harry she was way out of his league, though that has not stopped Harry from hoping. Then finally was the outcast group made up of the unpopular kids of the class. This is the group Harry hangs out with the most because it was the group that Harry best matched with. With other groups Harry felt like he had to put on a fake personality to fit in but with the outcasts Harry could just be his normal self without any worry of impressing anyone. The group usually consisted of Amber, Aponi, Freddy, Jimmy, and Harry of course. Harry walked over to greet the group and as he walked up saw a desperate attempt of Freddy trying to explain Schrodinger's cat to Jimmy. “Okay so explain that one more time please, how is it dead and alive at the same time and what does this have to do with tablets? ” Jimmy said, letting out a yawn . “It’s because they have not opened the box yet to tell whether it’s dead or not. It's basically an example of the fact we don’t know where subatomic particles are. This is just the basics of quantum mechanics, which ties into quantum computing that we use in our tablets.” Said Freddy with a hint of frustration. “Sorry, you still lost me.” Feddy sighed in defeat as Harry walked up and took a seat. “Hey guys,” And almost on cue Amber blurted out right as he sat down. “Okay so Mr. Sci fi himself thinks the rumors about going on the surface are false, because what for… There could be terrible mutant creatures! What’s your guy's thoughts.” Amber said while nugging Harry. Harry knew what she was doing and shot her a glare in response, to which she responded with a sarcastic grin. “Hey there’s nothing wrong with sci fi movies!” Said Jimmy defensively. “Well actually I agree with him, but not on the mutant thing. There is really little to no benefit to going back to the surface. We can survive down here easily for another hundred years.” Said Freddy. “Amber took the mutant thing out of context, I really…” Harry was cut off. “How can you even say that? We have no idea what the surface is like now. We could be rebuilding our civilization from the ground up, but instead we hide in this hole.” Aponi said. “Actually, you see we can calculate what the surface is like and according to the latest projections…” Freddy went on, but Harry just ignored it. He agreed with most of Freddy’s conclusions as they were usually backed by science and mathematics that sounded like an entirely foreign language to him. That said right now he didn’t care about the argument because it was pointless. No matter what Amber or Aponi thought about it, there was this no way they would be going to the surface. Harry was broken from his state of indifference when he started to hear the argument die down. “Hey, hey, hey guys, this is not something to argue about. Especially when we got a game tonight.” Said Jimmy playing the peacemaker of the group. This wasn’t something he was new to as he was probably the most level headed person in the group and Harry couldn’t recall a time he had actually seen the jolly fool in a bad mood. “I hope we can catch the Red Team off their game because our primary quarterback was injured last game and who knows what new plays they have.” Said Harry. “And here I thought I was the one who over analyzed things. Just give it your all and roll with the punches as they come.” Said Amber. The bell in the classroom rang and the whole class shuffled out into the hallway as did several other classes. “Alright see you guys next class.” Said Harry before he entered the crowded hall of high school students. Harry only made several steps before he heard an all to familiar and irritating voice. “Hey dickweed, you ready to get fucking curb stomped tonight.” Shouted Tom wildly. Tom was the quarterback for the Red team and also served as their lead antagonizer because this was high school and drama and rivalries spread like wildfire but, it generally always revolved around football. “Man it would be a shame if someone like you got injured, the coach is already trying to replace you and all he needs is an excuse.” Chuckled Harry in a snarky tone. “You don’t know shit, we are going fucking storm right over you and your shit.” Tom said as he gave one profane gesture before disappearing into the crowd. Harry shrugged it off and continued to his locker and when he finally made it to his locker only to see a large crowd of people gathered chanting. “Fight!, Fight!, Fight!” Harry walked over to where the crowd was gathered only to see Sammy get one more punch in on Bruce before he slammed him onto the ground with a resounding. THUD! Bruce was now on top of Sammy and beating the life out of him. Harry grinned as he watched Tom try to play hero and wrestle Bruce off of Sammy, but Bruce replied to this gesture by spinning around and cocking his arm all the way back before delivering a blow to Tom’s face that caused him to go tripping backwards and slamming his head against one of the lockers while simultaneously clutching his nose. Harry saw this and couldn’t help but laugh a little, as Bruce is the ARK 17’s hot head and Tom should have known that Bruce is going to go anything that stands in his way. The other kid was named Sammy and he was known best for his thieving and pickpocketing which probably led to him getting the daylight knocked out of him. Harry watched the fight go on for a little longer. Right as Bruce was putting the final blows in on his defeated avisary ARK 17 security finally showed. “Break it up you knuckleheads!” Said Officer Mclanky, as he pulled Bruce off of Sammy who was bloody, cut up, and knocked out cold after that fight. “Everyone move along, Now!” Shouted Officer Mclanky, as two more officers came to his aid. They were all dressed in the standard security green and black uniform which consisted of heavy duty green jumpsuit designed to protect against blunt force trauma, along with additional armor over the chest and parts of the limbs that was designed against ballistic threats, even though it wasn’t necessary. No one had guns except security and most of the security officers were only allowed to carry non-lethal weapons, with the exceptions being like Officer Mclanky who carried a sidearm with him. With the help of the other two security officers they finally restrain and put Bruce in cuffs then hauled him to lockup. Then after that two medical workers came to haul Sammy off on a stretcher to the infirmary while Officer Mclanky followed behind. Harry saw Sammy go by on the stretcher and thought to himself. “Fuck, if Bruce had not got kicked of the Blue football team, we wouldn’t have such a sucky defensive line.” Harry then turned away from the dispersing crowd and toward the cafeteria where he was hoping to pick up an energy bar before class. He barely made it before the loud bell sounded behind him. He got into the class and immediately took a seat down in his desk which was positioned at the back and in the corner of the room next to where Amber, Freddy, Jimmy, and Aponi sat. Daina appeared to be a bit late, and quickly scrambled into the room and took her seat. Freddy watched as she walked past him and when she looked back he immediately dove his head back into his book. Aponi was watching all this go down and said with a smile. “Looks like a nerd can look for love.” She said with a giggle. “ No, ummm…. I was just….” Freddy stumbled on words. “ Hey don’t be so tense, everyone has a crush, Freddy.” Said Aponi. “Don’t breathe a word about it you guys” said Freddy. “ Don’t worry dude your secret is safe with us.” Said Harry. “Okay.” replied Freddy. The class then went silent as the teacher entered the room and began her lecture. It seemed like forever but, finally the bell rang dismissing the class from their last class. After this it was preparation for the football game. Harry and Jimmy were both hyped up as were the others about the football game. “Tonight is the night we kick Red team’s ass.” Said Jimmy enthusiastically before exiting the room with Harry on their way to the break room. “ Go get em big guy.” Amber said to Harry before he left the room. Harry and Jimmy made it to the break room where the rest of the blue team players were gearing up for the game. Coach Walker entered the room and everyone stopped what they were doing to face him. “Gentlemen this is the last game of the season and we cannot have it going to Gunter over there and his little nazis.” Walker said with a tone of affronted anger he has been saving up for the entire season. “ We are going to have to show that damn German that no amount of discipline or precision can crush the American spirit to win against all odds!” Walker shouted to his players. “Now Coach Gunter has some new plays but, whatever he and his little krauts cooked up is no match for American improvisation, now can I get a horah!” “Horah!” shouted the team. Coach Walker then exited the room after his little speech. The reason Coach Walker was not fired for his questionable choice of words is because there is no one capable of matching his coaching. Whether the Director liked it or not Coach Walker and Coach Gunter were key to keeping morale up in the ARK as the two were perfectly matched and their rivalry just added to the hype everyone got from watching a football game. Harry was now all geared up and just waiting on a few of the other player’s to get ready. Once the rest of the team was ready Coach Walker reentered the room and gave a briefing on what plays we were running. They were going to be on the offensive so Harry was going to be starting as the left guard. This is something Harry liked as there was not much complexity in his job. Once Coach Walker finished his briefing the team lined up ready to emerge out the break room door and onto the field. The door opened and the Blue team came pouring out onto the field. As they ran to take up their positions they could hear the announcer's voice booming on the speakers. “And here ladies and gentlemen comes Blue Team!” The crowd in the bleachers went wild with excitement. Harry took up his position on the sidelines waiting for them to call out the Red Team. While he waited, he noticed the added detail to the gym, there were now hand drawn posters plastered on every wall in the gym. To top that, the cheerleaders had also painted a giant blue, number 17 in the middle of the football field that looked like it had been freshly cut by the agricultural workers. It almost seemed kinda funny that the makers of the ARK had to put in an exact replica of a football field, but then again if the history book is right, the people before the war loved football just as much as we do. Finally the speakers announced the Red team’s entry onto the football field. “ And folks if you look to your right the men of the Red Team have come to challenge the Blue Team!” The crowd went wild again. Next to Harry was Coach Walker watching the Red Team’s entrance with a face of disgust. Behind the Red Team players followed Coach Gunter, who had a boastful smile on his face. The two coaches met in the middle of the field and shaked hands before the game started. It was very clear that this was Coach Walker's least favorite part. “Ready to lose like last time.” Prodded Gunter while they shook hands. “We will see about that.” Said Coach Walker before ending the handshake and returning to his team. “Okay offensive line, make me proud and show them kauts how real men play football!” Said Coach Walker. Harry and Jimmy then ran onto the field and took their positions. Jimmy positioned himself behind the quarterback while Harry took up his place next to the Center. “Ready, set, hut!” said the Center as he sent the football flying into the Quarterback’s arms. Harry exploded towards the defensive tackle who failed to react before… Crack! The sound of Harry’s helmet clashing with the tackle’s helmet. The tackle tried to regain his footing but, in half a second he was on the ground. With the gap in the line Jimmy was able to run through with the ball in hand. Harry then locked onto the linebacker running toward Jimmy. With great speed Harry ran head onto the approaching linebacker. He tried to evade Harry but his efforts failed when the two made contact. Blam! The collision knocked both participants on the ground but Harry had fulfilled his mission. He saw Jimmy dart past him running for the end zone. Jimmy was now 30 yards from a touchdown but a safety was coming in fast on his left. Harry watched as the safety drew closer. Clack! The safety made contact but was only able to wrap one arm around Jimmy. Jimmy now 10 yards from a touchdown fought with all he had to push forward. “Come on kid 10 yards from victory! 10 yards!” shouted Coach Walker from the sidelines. In one last desperate attempt to break the safety's hold Jimmy spun around while pushing the safety off. The safety saw this and tried desperately to wrap his 2nd hand around but it was too late, Jimmy broke free and darted into the end zone. The crowd went wild with cheer and a wave of enthusiasm spread through the Blue Team at first touchdown. Coach Gunter looked disappointed and Harry could see him scolding his players for their lack of results on the field. Coach Walker also saw this and smiled. “Jimmy you did one heck of a job out there keep it up!” Coach Walker said with a bit of pride in his voice. “Yes Sir!” Replied Jimmy. After that touchdown, both sides were going to go at it with 110% the whole game. Play after play both sides improvised to their fullest to beat the other’s strategy. Coach Walker even had one of his assistant trainers looking up new plays from the pre war play books at the very last minute. Some of these plays these had never been used by either of ARK 17's football teams before now. Indeed, this was one of the most intense games of football that the ARK had ever seen. Harry was running new blocks that he had never even heard of before Coach Walker gave him a two minute explanation of them. This type of unpracticed strategy, would usually fall straight on its face against an adaptable opponent, but thankfully for them, they were going up against the opposite. You see, Coach Gunter had a rigid set of plays he would use that were tailored to counter Blue Team’s plays. He would drill his player’s until they mastered the plays he instituted, but with these new plays that Coach Walker just pulled out of what seemed thin air. Coach Gunter worried, because even though some of these new plays went horrible as they had never been practiced before and were implemented terribly. The few plays that did work, totally bulldozed his players and that was enough for their morale to pulmet as his players felt defenseless not knowing exactly how to counter a play. The Blue Team on the other hand were as enthusiastic as can be because for once they had the element of surprise. The game still carried on and after a string of bad plays, the Red team had finally regained their footing and looked set to take the victory with only a one point lead and 1 minute left in the game. The Blue Team looked bleak as they had gotten so far but not far enough the score was 67 to 68. So, Coach Walker gathered his players for one last speech before the end of the game. “Look I know that defeat may look to be imminent, but what matters is the fact that we took the Red Team far outside their comfort zone and fought tooth and nail against them. And let me remind you that this game will go down in the history books as the most hard fought game of football ever. Now are we going to let this game end with a whimper or are we going to show the Red Team what it means to be a red blooded American!” They responded to Coach Walker’s call to arms with a renewed sense of pride, and they chanted. “Hoorah!” “Damn right, now go teach those kauts a lesson!” Shouted Coach Walker as his player’s ran onto the field to take up their defensive positions. Harry was a middle linebacker and had his eyes set on Tom who had a smug expression on his face which Harry had the intention of wiping from his face once he sacked him. Harry waited for the center to pass the ball. What seemed like hours were mere seconds as Harry waited. “ Ready, set, hut!” said the center as he passed the ball to Tom and that’s all the signal Harry needed. Harry launched himself forward as incredible speed toward Tom. The Center was trying to aid one of the guards when he saw Harry barreling toward him. With no time to react Harry slammed into the Center knocking him onto the ground with a thud. Harry then saw his primary target before him. He started to charge but Tom locked onto a running back to throw the ball to. He threw the ball and Harry watched as it gracefully flew in the air over his head. In a last ditch effort Harry jumped to catch the ball in mid air. When he fell back down to earth he looked in his arms and saw the ball. Harry didn’t believe it and neither did Tom as he stood there for a second trying to process what happened. That's all the time Harry needed to bulldoze straight through Tom, knocking him on the ground. Harry was now the primary target of the Red team as they all broke ranks to chase him. The cheer from the crowd was immense and could be heard anywhere in the ARK. Harry pushed himself to the max and could feel the pain in his legs starting to mount. Harry ignored the pain and continued to run like his life depended on it. Harry just passed the 20 yard line and his heart felt like it was going to explode. One of the Red team players was gaining on him quickly, and if he didn’t somehow speed up he was sacked. Everything slowed down it seemed Harry was running still and looked to his left to see the crowd. They were all chanting and cheering him on, with Amber in the front yelling loudest he had ever seen her yell. Coach Walker and the team were all cheering him on with the a level of enthusiasm that he had never been witness to. Harry then and there, made the decision that he would not let them down. Every last drop of adrenaline poured into his system he ran with a speed that no one had even seen out of him. The Red Team player seemed to be falling out behind him. Harry pushed himself to make the last 5 yards, then… “TOUCHDOWN!” shouted the announcer over the intercom. At the sign hearing this Harry collapsed in the end zone not even having the energy to stand. His team rushed to his aid, Jimmy being the first to help him up. “Damn Harry! Adrenaline must be a hell of a drug, never seen you or really anyone run that fast.” “Nah I just got lucky.” Said Harry in between grasping breathes for air. “Must be one hell of a lucky streak, I was surprised you even managed to intercept that ball, but right when Micheal was on your tail, you know Red team’s fastest player. You somehow double down and outrun him. You really should have seen Coach Gunter’s face, it was redder than a stove top.” Harry gave a weak chuckle at that. “Hopefully we caught that on replay, I know Walker is going to savor that one. By the way, where’s the water, I need it badly.” “Oh hold on, let me get the water boy over here. David! Double time it we need water!” David nearly stumbled with the water case, but finally got over to Jimmy and Harry, where Harry without hesitation snatched up one of the bottles. As Harry was chugging down all the water he could get, Coach Walker began to approach with the biggest smile Harry had ever seen him with. “Kid never in my entire career of playing and coaching football, have I ever seen something like what you pulled off.” He said, putting his hand on Harry’s shoulder, like a proud father figure. “Thanks coach…” said Harry, not used to the high praise. He normally found himself in support roles that were unsung with praise, but now it seemed he was in the position of the star player which was something very foriegn to him. As Harry and his fellow teammates walked off the field and back to the break room the crowd was still cheering with excitement until they finally made it into the break room. Harry heard the crowd’s excitement subside outside the room right as the coach was preparing his speech. “ Every single one of you displayed such a level of skill on that field, that Gunter and his kauts will be reeling from this loss for years to come. I am proud to call you my own and each one of you are like sons to me. In all my years of coaching I have never had a team quite like you bunch and I couldn’t ask for a better team. Now go on, there is a party waiting for you, and you damn well earned it.” With this there was resounding cheer among the players as Coach exited the room with the same smile plastered on his face as he disappeared into his office. The team was all hyped up and enthusiastic about their win and were getting ready for the party that was being held for the high school students. “So Harry, what are you doing after this, are you heading to the party?” Asked Jimmy as he dug in his bag for his shirt. “ Hell yeah I am, do you have a date?” “ Nah I’m gonna ask someone when I get there. What about you?” “Same, haven’t decided who i’m gonna ask though.” “Well, you really don’t have any limits on that. You could probably ask any girl and they couldn’t say no to the star player of the game.” “That’s a bit ambitious, I think that I might just ask Amber if she wants to dance.” “Suit yourself, I’m just saying that this is the opportunity to branch out, instead of just going with friends.” “Okay noted, by the way who are you going to ask?” “I’m thinking of asking Aponi.” “And you're giving me shit about going with friends? ” “Hey, that’s because you always dance with Amber as friends and shit and to be honest I don’t know how you two haven’t taken things past just friends. Aponi on the other hand, I see potential for a serious relationship there.” “Okay Amber and I have been thick as thieves since before we could walk, and she really hasn’t given off any signs she really wants to take it to another level.” “Man, I swear you see any telltale signs unless it was a finely written declaration.” “Wait, you think she has been giving signs?” “I don’t know man, I think it’s a bit odd that she hasn’t ever really shown interest in anyone, well besides you, but hey leave that for you to figure out. I gotta go take a shower and get ready for the party. I’ll see you later.” “Alright, see you.” And with that Jimmy slung his bag over his shoulder and left the room. After a few more minutes Harry got changed and stood up from the bench and proceeded to the door which opened up the hallway. When he entered the hallway, Jimmy was long gone and there were several clusters of people gathered gossiping about the latest rumors. Harry passed by them on his way to the residential sector of the ARK, not noticing the small group of the Red Team players staring him down until Michael spoke up from the head of the group. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the little cheating bitch who hyped himself up on steroids before the final game. I bet you, Walker himself gave them drugs because that old bastard couldn’t develop an effective play if his life depended on it.” Harry turned around to face him. “What you’re pissed you lost and now have to claim we cheated because your fragile can’t handle the truth.” “No, you can sell all the bullshit you want, but ain’t no one buying it here.” Said Michael who now was just a few feet away from Harry with his two friends behind him. “Look if you assholes if you wanna bitch, take it up with security and I’d be more than willing to take a drug test if it would get you to shut up.” “Yeah, but that doesn’t set the same example as this will.” Said Michael right before he cocked his arm back for a haymaker and swinged at Harry. The blow caught Harry off guard and connected with his left cheek sickening impact that threw Harry off balance, but luckily didn’t knock him. Taking advantage of this moment of weakness, Michael tried to get a few more swift jabs to the face , but Harry already had his arms blocking most of the jabs. Harry was in a daze and had no time for strategy or tactics. He took the initiative and charged Michael, knocking him down in just the way Coach Walker had taught during football practice. The rest was like a blur for Harry as he continued to lay into Michael who was on the ground. A swift kick to his stomach, reminded him that he had to deal three of them. The kick was followed by several more which stole the breath from his lungs and forced him onto his back where he was repeatedly kicked. Harry only got a break when the two friends finally turned their attention to their downed friend and away from him. While the two of them helped Michael up who was now bleeding profusely from the nose. Harry managed to catch his breath and slowly help himself up. Unfortunately, this didn’t go unnoticed and when he finally got to his feet, he was greeted with a gut punch that caused him to stumble back and use the wall of the hallway for support. By this time they had all three regroup and were ready to lunge at him again. Michael put his hand up to his nose and then retracted it, as he inspected the blood was dripping from it. “You little shit! Now your gonna fuckin pay!” He said as he lunged. Harry tried to get some punches in on them, but it was hard as they all swarmed him and hit him from every side. Harry fell to the ground with blood dripping onto the ground from his nose and busted lip. How he had not been knocked out by now was a mystery, but his entire body screamed in pain as he had barely enough energy to move. He couldn’t know, but it felt like he had a few cracked ribs. “Rico, Billy, hold this son of bitch up, I’m not done with him.” He vaguely heard Michael say before he felt two people picking up by his arms. Harry's head swam and his body felt limp after the beating. He could barely see Michael standing in front of him through his swollen eyelids. “I hope you learned your lesson, because I’m not sure if you could survive another.” To which all Harry to reply with was a clump of blood and flum to the face of disgusted Michael. “Ahh, you just don’t know when to stop. Here let me remind you!” Boots pounded down the hall. “Stop right there!” Without saying a word Michael, Billy, and Rico dropped Harry and broke off running. Harry fell to the cold floor and heard the pounding of the Security Officer’s boots hurry over to him. The Officer helped Harry to his feet allowing Harry to put most of his weight on him as he got his bearings. “Hey, can you walk, or do I need to call down for a stretcher?” “Yeah, I can walk, I just… need to catch my breath.” “Okay take as long as you need, then we are gonna get you to get you to the infirmary.” “That’s not necessary, I’m fine.” “No you're going to get checked over in the doc, and then they will probably have you go throw that little old world miracle worker machine they got.” “I’m fine. I just need a little rest before the party.” “ You kids and your parties. Look, that machine they got, was able to patch up a gunshot wound from a training accident in two hours. It will probably take like thirty minutes to patch you up. That gives you enough time to party. Now c'mon let’s get you patched up.” After some hesitation Harry complied and followed the Officer down to the infirmary. When he got in there he saw there was only the nurse on duty who immediately gasped when she saw Harry in his current state. “Mcgregory, your job is to keep this kinda stuff from happening. This is the second person today we will have to send to the trauma center.” “Kids will be kids.” Said the Officer in response. The Nurse shook her head before retreating to the back, probably in search of the doctor. After a minute or two, she returned with the Doctor who looked like he had just been woken up for this. “Dang, another one. Alright follow me.” He said grougly as he led the way to a room that was unfamiliar to Harry. As crazy as it sounds, Harry had been in the bunker for his entire life and yet there were still entire sections that remain a mystery to him. That said calling the ARK a bunker didn’t do it service in expressing how vast it was with its countless rooms and sections that formed an underground city state that had nearly every amenity you could think of. When Harry entered the room, he was surprised at how empty it was. The entire trauma center made up one small room that had a large silver vertical pod in the center with a few monitors and computer interfaces off to the side of it. The doctor hit one key on one of the screens and Harry jumped with the pod sprang open and inside there was looked to be some kind of metallic harness for a person. “Step in please. “ Said the Doctor waving Harry toward the machine. With some hesitation, Harry stepped inside and with that the metallic harness locked him in and the pod closed. “Uhhh…” Harry said out of slight fear. A sound similar to the release of compressed air filled the pod and then Harry was out. When Harry finally awoke he found the pod door open and was surprised when the metallic harness released him almost causing him to fall. Harry’s entire body felt numb as he slowly exited the pod. “Ahh yes, another resounding success. I swear these old world machines make my job too easy.” Said the Doctor with a chuckle. “How long was I out?” Said Harry grougly. That is when he noticed in a reflection of the surface of the machine that he didn’t look like he had a scratch on him. “Oh about fifteen minutes or so. I believe you are well and free to go. Enjoy that party, and try not to get into any more fights.” And with that, the Doctor left the room. Harry signed out of the infirmary shortly after and eventually felt the numbness fade as continued down the hallway. At this point Harry was questioning whether he even wanted to attend the party still. He was perfectly fine in the physical sense of being, but not even that machine could fix his mentally exhaustion and just the sense he had been knocked down a peg or two. In a span of less than an hour, he went from a position of power and confidence to a state of defeat and almost utter helplessness that seemed to linger in the air and sap away his energy. Harry finally conceded that it would probably be best that he just retire to his quarters for tonight and sleep off his troubles. He was about to round a corner when he saw Grace at the end of the hallway standing alone with her eyes glued on her smart tablet. She was wearing a red and black cut off flannel which was complemented by a pair of cut off jeans. “Hey… Is the party over already?” Harry said skeptically. “Oh, no the party is still going on.” “Okay, so...” Harry trailed off. Grace looked up and sighed. “You're wondering why I’m not at the party right?” “Umm… well yeah, I guess so.” “Well, I didn’t wanna go in the first place. What, you surprised? I know what people think I am. I’m supposed to be the popular girl throwing down on the dance floor right?” “I guess… I try not to judge a book by it’s cover so I don’t know.” Harry said with a shrug. Grace gave a small chuckle at that. Which kinda threw Harry off. “What’s so funny?” “Nothing, it’s just the way you answered. You sound like you can’t make up your mind.” Harry could feel his nervousness coming to surface, but tried to hide the best he could. “Well… How can you make up your mind, if you have nothing, but image to go off of?” Grace smiled at this. “ So are you going to the party?” She asked inquisitively as she went back to focusing on the tablet. “Nah, I was just gonna hit the bunk.” Grace raised her head again at this with curiosity at the statement. “Why? Didn’t you make that last touchdown at the game? I thought you would be going there to cash in on some of that VIP status.” “Nah… I'm, I’m just tired. That’s all.” Grace cocked up an eyebrow at this. “That’s a little out of character. You okay?” “I’m fine, I’m just… tired.” “Hmmm… You wanna help me finish bottle vodka? I managed to snag some booze from one of the storage rooms and tonight I feel like I need a drink and you sound like you need one too.” This Harry threw off balance, and didn’t know how to respond to that. And from Grace’s chuckle, he knew she could sense his bewilderment at the offer. “Oh c'mon I promise I don’t bite.” She said starting towards her quarters and signaling for Harry to follow. Harry didn’t object and followed behind. Meanwhile at the party, Jimmy, Aponi, Freddy, Diania, and Amber are all sitting at a table together waiting for Harry to show up. “ What is taking Harry so long?” Amber asked. “I have no idea he should be here by now.” Jimmy said. “ Maybe he felt sick and went back to his quarters.” Aponi said. “No he would have shown signs of it beforehand if he was.” Amber said. “He could be exhausted after the game maybe.” Freddy chimped in. “Jimmy did he look tired when you last saw him.” Amber asked. “No not really, he seemed fine last time I saw him.” Jimmy replied. “Hey whatever the reason is i'm pretty sure it was a good one because it’s not like Harry to get cold feet.” Diania said reassuringly. “Your right.” Amber said with a sigh. “Hey guys, let's remember we’re at a party! So let’s party.” Jimmy said, extending his hand out to Aponi. “May I have the pleasure of a dance my lady?” Jimmy said. “Why yes of course.” Aponi said with a blush. Aponi took Jimmy’s hand and they proceeded to the dance floor. Freddy seeing his chance took the chance to ask Diania to a dance. Reluctantly Diania accepted the offer and the two headed toward the dance floor leaving Amber alone at the table by herself. Amber sat there contemplating on why didn’t Harry show up and why can’t she have something like what Aponi and Jimmy have but, with Harry. Tired of thinking about it she decided to take action. Amber stood up from the table and marched out of the room and toward the residential section of the ARK. As she was walking she was thinking of how she would drag his ass to the party and why he made the mistake of missing it in the first place. She reached the door of Harry’s room and reached for the door knob. It was locked. She knocked on the door, no response. “Oh Harry you're going to have to do better than that to keep me out.” She muttered as she pulled out a paper clip she had in her back pocket. She took the paper clip and bent it to the shape of a makeshift lock pick and inserted it into the lock. With a little trial and error the lock clicked and she was in. “Harry I don’t know what has gotten into you but…” Amber stopped mid rant as Harry wasn’t here. Amber looked puzzled, if he’s not here then where did he go? Amber left the room and locked the door behind her, trying not to leave any signs she had been there. As she sauntered down the hallway she tried to reason why her friend would ditch her like that. Surely he would have a good reason? In any event, Amber retired to her quarters for the night with the question still fresh on her mind.