It had been a few years, twenty maybe? It didn’t really matter. All that mattered now was what Flemming’s orders were. The Major gave a powerful speech earlier saying this very day was the anniversary of the Ethan Project, where some college kid died tried to jump the gap between the world as we knew it and Internet 9. What this kid did was nothing compared to the advances of now’s expansions. Today, Flemming would be one of the many soldiers jumping into Internet 9 to continue what many thought was a pointless war between Internet 9’s other inhabitants. It seemed that when Ethan made his way into the world of Internet 9, he found something that humans accidentally created. Apparently, data that was deleted or destroyed ended up going to Internet 9 where they took on characteristics of humans. They were still researching these things, but that didn’t matter to Flemming. He had a gun and his orders were to shoot.
The first marines that took the leap into Internet 9 never returned. It seemed conventional methods weren’t exactly useful on virtual technology. It was already hard enough to bring physical things into Internet 9, including clothes and glasses. Eventually, humans got smarter and tweaked a few things.
Flemming was armed with his standard anti-tech armour and submachine gun. The armour was actually a brilliant design weaving regular clothes with antivirus software. All that mattered to Flemming was that it worked.
Flemming could still hear The Major over the intercom as he and the rest of his company marched in the little area humanity fought hard to win in the virtual world.
“Now, right now, is OUR finest hour men. We will not let Ethan’s sacrifice fall in vain! We will show the world why we are the greatest company yet!” The Major barked. Men at the front hollered a rally cry, which erupted throughout the lines. Flemming returned it. He was ready.
The company marched closer to the area where they were meant to patrol. The last company’s numbers were dwindling and needed fresh men to hold back the dangerous data.
In the skyline, flashing green and red lights shone so bright that it was almost hard to see. The flashing grew quicker and quicker. Flemming knew this sign. There was going to be an attack now. The rest of the company braced for action. Flemming joined up with a few men next to him back to back. The flashing grew even faster. Most of the men were shouting basic commands and still lining up for whatever might happen.
The flashing continued. This wasn’t a good sign. Usually when the flashing grew faster, the blitz came. With each passing second, there was no blitz. The Major’s voice over the intercom grew quiet now. Flemming thought he was the only one noticing that things weren’t going as normal, but a few men had already broke ranks. Flemming felt one of the spots in his circle leave.
“I’m out of here! This isn’t right!” one of the soldiers said. Flemming felt the quick breeze of the man’s running close to him. Flemming stuck out his arm and grabbed the man’s backpack.
“Hold ranks, McCall!” Flemming said pushing McCall back to the circle. Since there was no natural cover and the blitz could come from anywhere, the best tactic found so far was standing in a circle back to back. If McCall left, the circle would have a missing link and therefore a blind spot. A circle could be decimated in a second if there was a weak link, even faster with a missing link.
The skyline stopped flashing, and returned to a steady green light as it normally did. Flemming could feel the man to his right breathe a sigh of relief. Flemming heard field captains shouting orders still and that all men should still hold ranks. Then the light went out.
Horrified screams from the back of the line echoed to the front. The field captains were yelling to their circles to hold ranks and fire on sight of data, but it was of no use. Ranks broke quickly, even Flemming’s circle seem to have broke. Flemming felt a tremendous force knock him to the ground. Stunned, he dropped his gun. Flemming scrambled for it, but felt the weight of heavy boots step on his outreached hand.
“We’re doomed!” McCall shouted from the left. Flemming, still throbbing from the pain of being stepped on, managed to grab his submachine gun and began firing it to his right where he was hit.
The intercom was sparking sounds. No real voice could have been made out from the clatter. It sounded like beeps and reverb effects heard in music.
Flemming was on his feet. He was firing in all sorts of directions. Training did not prepare him for this. Men were screaming in horror behind him, which made him believe he had run past the front lines, or heck, even so far to the right. It didn’t matter. He was alive. For now.
After what seemed like forever, the skyline was amber. Flemming kept running. Where? He didn’t know. Away it might have seemed, but there was no going back. Everything humanity fought for these twenty odd years just collapsed in a matter of seconds.
Flemming gazed over his shoulder. There wasn’t much behind him. It seemed like his fallen comrade’s bodies were already disintegrated. Even if he was to go back to the portal to go back to reality, the area was probably plagued by hidden data.
What would he do? He breathed heavier, slowing his run. He felt safe for the moment. What is safe really? How long can I survive with no way back to the portal? Is there even a portal still? Did the data make it to our world?
“It doesn’t really matter,” Flemming finally said out loud.
In the distance, in the skyline, something that resembled buildings appeared to him. With no other options, he headed to it. If it meant survival, he would try anything.