Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The oval office had been compromised. I knew because I was the one who compromised it.

I was standing over the body of the atheist president. The dark hues of her face were being framed by the blood from her slit throat as she lay on her back looking up at me. Her feet kicked slower, more of a rub that a kick, and then lay still.

Her throat stopped bubbling.

The hammering on the door was what snapped me back to reality. I could hear footsteps outside and I knew that soon the room would be filled with fireworks.

I made the sign of the cross, activating the transmitters embedded in my forehead, shoulders and torso. They lit up blue, wiped the room with bright light, and I vanished.

Soldiers burst through the blood-spattered doors into an oval office containing the corpse of a now ex-president, the smell of lilacs, and nothing else.

I arrived in the transportation bay with a double-flash of light and a release of pent-up breath. I was never comfortable on missions that required an instant transport. I’d been reassured by the people that built it, people smarter than me, that it was safe. Whatever. As far as I was concerned, it just hadn’t malfunctioned yet.

I stepped off of the platform into the receiving bay and was greeted by my fellow Holy Marines returning from their separate missions. Almost all of them had returned by now.

The top businessmen and politicians in the world were being killed by us and blame was being thrown around by our operatives. Operation Rapture was well on its way to being a complete success.

I knew something had gone wrong even before I got the news.

Agent Petersen hadn’t returned from his mission yet.

An alarm turned us to the bank of monitors embedded in the ship’s walls. CNN was playing a clip live from the office of wealthy Slovakian industrialist Nick Milovets. He was holding up Agent Petersen’s head and yelling at the cameras.

The subtitles told us that he was asking us if this was the best we could do. Bodyguard mercenaries lay behind him, destroyed by the battle to bring Agent Petersen down.

“There goes our cover story.” said Jefferson to my right. I shot him a disapproving look and called up Cooper from Response and Containment.

A hologram of Cooper appeared in front me, flickering, with a questioning look on her face. I nodded at her. She frowned and shot me a stiff salute before disappearing.

“Clear” came from the loudspeakers on all decks.

I sent an overload command to Agent Petersen’s subdermal transmitters. On the television, Petersen’s head smoldered, burned bright, and Nick Milovets yelped as his hand started to burn. The yelp turned into a scream as his office shuddered.

The screen went white and CNN lost the feed. The newscasters returned to spouting panicked theories.

I was the oldest and highest-ranking officer on the deck. Everyone on the command deck held their breath and looked at me.

I smiled at them.

“Open the channels”, I said “Let them know that the end of the world is coming.”

The deck erupted in cheers.

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