Alpha Event happened the same year the first major crops failed. Only the latter was publicized; the former was successfully covered-up by UN DataOps. If any footage did surface, it would have been designated a hoax. There was probably a small coterie of conspiracy theorists who correctly identified the significance of the phone videos or leaked CCTV stream. I didn’t know who they were. That wasn’t my job.
The wealth of every civilization has always been its grain.
A critical breadbasket in the Middle East ceased producing. Conservation experts predicted the same would happen in Eastern Europe four years after. Only to continue to spread West. Not a blight: merely soil exhaustion. Mere soil exhaustion. But enough.
The entire town where Alpha Event took place was obliterated. In a forested area 20km outside a major metropolitan area in Bosnia, an object penetrated the atmosphere and began slaughtering civilians. It would later prove difficult to determine what had been caused by the object and what had been precipitated by the 12 kiloton yield. An estimated 15,000 people were killed. There are models that estimate the likelihood the object would have killed more and more innocents would have perished in the blast had action not been taken when it did. This sort of calculation is the balm of statesmen. Though it is completely meaningless in real-time.
The traditional name of the object is “Limbed Belligerent.”
I was born in Louisiana and completed my postgraduate work in Monterey. My older brother is a Mechanic in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is one of the American cities still holding-up.
I studied sociology and world history with a special emphasis on military history. The dissertation I’m most proud of, but cannot publish, is an analysis of causes of failure in significant post-WWII conflicts, with a detailed section on “Ratfuck,” the horror show that happened on US soil in 2021.
My plan was to go into policy evaluation and work my way up into critical command, especially concerning the growing complications on the China-Russia border. My passion is strategy. But The Boss wanted me to be a pilot.
My name was mentioned in a closed doors meeting, they gave me the test, and promptly shuttled me to Belgium for training. By this point of human history, the UN is largely owned by America and the remnants of the EU. A fellow trainee is from France. Her name is Bec.
It has been ten years since Alpha Event. I have seen all the footage that The Boss tells me there is. Because I am American and because I have slightly more school than the other trainees, my access clearance has permitted me to carefully peruse “Apocalypse Right Now: A Report on Major Crises Confronting the Human Community, Especially Beta Event.”
Beta Event is the name for when the next Limbed Belligerent enters Earth’s atmosphere. It has been expected to happen any day for the past ten years. A great deal of money has been taken away from soil erosion studies because of Beta Event. Something that hasn’t happened. The report does not mince words about this: “We have taken bread out of the mouths of our children so that we may protect them from massacre. There is no certainty that the decision has been the correct one.” The author of the report is not given. I have tried to uncover the writer’s name.
We have no friends aside from our instructors and our fellow trainees. I have not spoken to my brother for a year. I don’t know what The Boss has told him. I didn’t exactly accept the mission. It was issued to me. I had no time to tie up loose ends. Bec is akin to a confidant, but she is more stoic than me and when I say anything that approaches a sensitive observation, she rebuffs me for cowardice.
Phyllis is hilarious and is perhaps the only source of joy for any of us. I’m pretty sure her and Hans are dating.
There are ten of us. I am the Field Mission Leader. The technical term for our vehicles are “Aeroamphibious Tactical Units.” What they are are goddamn mechs. I almost laughed out loud when I saw the first one. In a hangar half the height of the Louisiana State Capital stood ten giant robots. To the credit of the designers, they do not look like tractors from the 80s shoved together into the shape of an adult male. They are elegant. They are slick. They are menacing. Mine has diadem-like component to designate it as the leader. It is called GKW: Good King Wenceslas.