THREE

July 4th, 2026

As Cole's message played across the basin and chaos began to reign, a dozen armed and outfitted men and women tried to stay inconspicuous inside a crowd of civilians as they moved through the main road in the settlement of Tularosa, north of Alamogordo, and turned into the Lowe's parking lot. In front of the former super market, two KPA Humvees and about a platoon of infantry stood sentry. When the crowd approached, a lot of them began to fidget nervously. A few looked towards an officer for advice on what to do as the crowd came to a stop about twenty yards from the KPA line. They were mad, but they weren't blinded with rage. Instead, they stood shaking fists and cursing at the Korean occupiers.

Some of the Koreans began to laugh and share jokes. They gathered together, pointed out one of the protestors, and giggled with each other like school girls. With a startling whoosh a Rocket-Propelled Grenade flew from behind the crowd and slammed into one of the Humvees, blowing it to oblivion. Shrapnel went flying causing some of the KPA and protestors to fall to the ground screaming in agony while a couple KPA fell to the ground unmoving. The rest of the protestors ran off screaming while the second Humvee's gunner was dotted with bleeding wounds.

Three of the fighters dashed to the Humvee and while two provided cover, the third one pulled open the back door and reached in. Grabbing onto the corpse's leg, she pulled him out from the turret and onto the pavement. A sickening crunch made her look towards the vehicle's hood to see her comrade missing the top half of his head and slowly slide off the hood and onto the pavement with a wet smack. By now, the rest of the assault team had taken up positions all over the parking lot and were laying down fire on the KPA platoon, slowly biting away at their numbers.

Shaking off her comrade's death, the fighter climbed into the Humvee and manned the mounted machine-gun on the top. Pulling back the charging handle, she leveled the gun at the enemy platoon and fired. As the gun barked, deafening her and violently shaking her arms, she registered the sparks and sharp pinging of rounds hitting the metal shield on either side of the gun. As the bullets found their mark, she saw the KPA soldiers explode into red fountains before falling to the ground.

The clicking and silence of the big gun rang louder in her ears than the noise of it shooting. She could still see the fresh belt of ammo that was threaded into the chamber. Realizing it was jammed, she had to lean to the side to pull back the charging handle that would hopefully-

The snap and pinging of a bullet as it raced by her head and hit the vehicle's roof behind her made her jump as she looked to the store's roof. On the roof was a lone KPA soldier with a scoped rifle in his hands. The two made eye-contact and time seemed to freeze, a look of surprise on his face and a look of shock on hers. A pinging of a bullet against the metallic shield snapped time back into motion as the two warriors fumbled to win this duel. The female resistance fighter struggled to bring up her rifle through the small hole for the turret gunner while the sniper struggled to get another round loaded in his bolt-action rifle.

Lifting her weapon up at the same time as the sniper, the resistance fighter fired. The round slammed into the sniper's chest, making him fall backwards with his legs dangling, little more than a corpse now. An explosive sensation of pain erupted in the woman's forehead. Touching her hand to her forehead, she felt something sticky and when she pulled her hand away, she saw why. Her hand was covered in blood and she felt the hole drilled into her head. The strength in her legs disappeared. As she fell into the Humvee, the blackness succeeded in swallowing her into the everlasting oblivion of death.

Even with her death, though, the fight went on. It quickly ended with the surviving Resistance fighters leaving the dead where they fall. Entering the store, they made it to the center of the supply depot with no more confrontations.

"Alright Wildcats!" announced one of the men, "Begin gathering supplies and take them to the back. We got some trucks from Central Command coming down to pick it up. Whatever we can't fit on the trucks, we'll destroy."

"Why the hell does CentCom use us as the errand boys?" asked a young fighter, looking at his teammates questionably.

"It's not our job to question Cole and his boys," replied another team member.

"Lock it up. We do what we're told, when we're told, because we're told. Now, let's get it on Wildcats!" shouted the team leader.

As the team began to move the supplies, they heard the distant booms. It sounded like when a plane broke the sound barrier but it was deeper and... darker.

The young fighter answered their unspoken questions when he came rushing to the team shouting, "They're bombing the city!"

"What?"

"Come on!"

After sharing a common look, the team followed the fighter as they avoided barrels of fuel, boxes of food and ammo, and crates of gun as they made their way to the back. When they got to the back and got outside, they saw what the kid meant.

Swarming above the city were jets. Jets swooped down over the city before pulling up sharply and going off to turn around for another go, leaving a fiery ball of destruction behind them each time.

"It's a full squadron..."

"This is why we need to go after Holloman, not be robbing supply depots."

"Why would they do this?"

"Because to them, we're not people. We're occupied, they don't need to treat us as citizens or equals."

The team stood in collective silence as they watched the swarm of planes and the sporadic red balls of flame. They watched as the small columns of smoke quickly intensified and multiplied across the skyline. They watched as civilians joined them behind the store. Some were crying, some were angry, and some simply stood in silence.

Finally, the team leader broke the silence,

"Come on Wildcats, we got a job to do."