"The Nexus will open in a few hours! We could strike then!"

"Harry it wouldn't work…"

"Yes it will. I have three guys and five pistols! You're the only one I can trust!"

"Harry I'm not going. And you're not either. The odds…"

"I don't give a crap about the odds!"

"I'm sure you won't when the combine fill you full of holes either!"

"Listen Jared…there's five civil security in there….if you come we'll be on equal levels." Harry held the revolver out to him. "What do you say?" Jared considered it.

"Do you have a plan?"

"Ye-"

"A plan that is more advanced than, run in and shoot the crap out of everything?"

"Yes…two of our guys will stand in line and distract them. I found an entrance from the sewers that comes up right inside the nexus."

"Really?"

"Well….more or less…we may have to climb through some air ducts." Jared frowned.

"I want your absolute certainty that this will work."

"You have it." Jared grudgingly took the gun

"For some reason I don't feel any better." Jared muttered. Harry nodded.

"I'll be back to get you in a few hours." Harry said as he turned around. Jared grunted and turned back to his desk. "Be ready." He said finally and walked out the door with a sigh. Jared sat there and thought. He knew why Harry had asked him. Jared was one of the few surviving veterans of the 7 hour war. The thing that most people forgot was that the war was only seven hours. He didn't have time to even fight; he had never shot anyone before! Jared groaned and scratched his beard. Sitting here wasn't doing anything productive. He decided to go for a walk.

He stepped out onto the cold, concrete street. The stale air hung around him like a giant lake of festering, stagnant water. But it was better than a giant lake of festering, stagnant water compressed into a tiny room. As he walked his footsteps echoed off the tall, silent buildings. He passed one or two fellow civilians, keeping their heads down, away from the gaze of the ever-watching combine. His trek lead him past the nexus, its cameras panning the streets. He turned the corner...glad to be out of the sight of them.

"Citizen, Halt!" said a metallic voice behind him. Jared stopped dead. So did another civilian in front of him. The man looked at Jared, scared.

"why-"

"Citizen, Wall." Jared turned and faced the wall. The other man was slower.

"But I-"

"Wall. NOW." Said the civil guard, shoving the man face first into the concrete wall. He tied Jared's hands together behind his back, the zip-tie biting into his wrist. Then he tied the other man, the sharp sound of it tightening echoing off the buildings. The other man was beginning to panic.

"Suspect one apprehended. Requesting backup." He radioed in.

"Suspect one?" said the other man. "But I didn't do anythi- "The civil security officer slammer his fist into the man's head breaking his nose with a sharp crack on the stone wall.

"Civilian, quiet." The man only whimpered after that. Before long another civil security showed up, toting a submachine gun. He pointed at Jared.

"Search." The first civil guard walked up and checked his pockets and began to pat him down. Jared began to panic. Had he left his revolver at home? If he was carrying it with him he could be executed on the spot! What if-

"Clean." Jared let out a sigh of relief. The guard moved to the next man.

"Search" The man began to panic. The guard ruffled around in his pockets and pulled out a can of tuna.

"Contraband."The guard said darkly.

"No...No I-I was bringing it to you! I-I swear I found it and-"The guard pulled another object out of the man's pocket.

"357 magnum." The guard said, holding up the weapon. "3 remaining bullets. 3 shots were fired." The guard looked to the submachine gun toting one. "Advisable course of action?"

"Amputate." Replied the second guard. The man's eyes grew wide.

"I-I was bringing it to the Nexus! I-I swear! I found it like that!" He stuttered. "N-no! I-I'll tell you were a resistance base is! I will! Just…don't…..hurt…m-" Jared ignored tried to ignore the man's screams. Staring at the wall and blotting everything out of his mind.

"Citizen." The guard's monotonous voice said behind him as he undid the zip-tie. Jared slowly turned around, avoiding glancing at the man's body or the blood smeared wall.

"Move along citizen" said the guard and walked off. Jared turned toward home. His walk was over.

"Jared! Jared wake up!"

"..Mph…"

"Jared come on, the nexus is about to open!" Harry shook him vigorously.

"All right, all right I'm coming." Jared sat up groggily and grabbed the gun from the bedside table.

"Come on Jared! Daniels waiting outside, Garret and Josh are waiting near the nexus!"

Jared looked at the window. Outside was a man casually leaning against the wall. Leaning so he had a perfect view of the street. Jared got up and followed Harry to the door.

"All citizens, the nexus is now open. Line up to receive rations."The monotonous voice echoed through the buildings and into the subway were the three men were crouched, hiding.

"All right guys…lets move." Whispered Harry, indicating an open air duct. He crawled in, followed by Daniel and finally Jared. It was cold in the duct, Jared could feel the air rushing from wherever the vent started. Harry looked over his shoulder at them and whispered.

"All right guys, were inside the nexus now, be very quiet." Then he kept crawling. Jared glanced at the line of people waiting for their rations through the air duct vent. He couldn't see them but he could hear the metro police below him giving the rehearsed lines of, "apply", "go in" and "move along". Jared thought he saw the two rebels in the line as he got a quick look but he couldn't be sure. A few minutes later Harry stopped near a vent and motioned for them to gather around. He put a finger to his lips and motioned for them to wait. The moments seemed to take forever for Jared though he knew it was probably only a few minutes. He heard the nearly endless repeat of the gas masked officer asking the citizen to apply, the citizen giving the correct string of numbers and name, then continuing in, until…

"Citizen, apply."

"1337, your mom." Replied the Josh.

"Citize-"Jared heard a gunshot echo through the nexus, reverberating in his skull. Time seemed to freeze then…

"GO GO GO GO!" Yelled Harry as he kicked open the grate. Jared jumped down after him and raised his gun…nearly simultaneously with one of the civil security officers and his submachine gun. Daniel, who already had his pistol at the ready, fired first. The officer's head snapped to the side and he fell to the ground, submachine gun spraying bullets erratically into the ceiling. Jared turned on his heel and aimed at the third officer who was toting an automatic pistol. Jared felt a bullet whizz past his ear, striking the wall behind him with a metallic clang. He fired two shots into the officer's chest and spun again, not bothering to watch him fall. He saw the officer Josh had shot lying on the ground in a puddle of red as well as a second officer, Stunstick still in hand, sitting against the wall which was also covered with red. He watched while Garret blew the crap out of the rations dispenser. Then he realized something.

"Harry." He said in a low voice, grabbing the man's shoulder as he passed. "You said there were five security guards…I count four." Harry shrugged and smiled.

"He probably just didn't come to work today. Holiday break?" Jared squeezed Harry's shoulder.

"Harry. Combine soldiers don't just "not come to work". He has to be here somewhere."

Harry laughed.

"Jared your being to paranoid! If they sounded the alarm we would know by now and anyway I asked the guys out front! They only say four-" Harry stopped as a ball of light blasted through the door, passed through him, bounced around the room and exploded against the far wall, knocking Josh to the floor. Harry looked at the ever widening hole in his chest, up at Jared and fell to dust at Jared's feet. A combine elite strode through the door, rifle raised, scanning the room with its one red eye. Surprisingly Josh, who was knocked down was the first to react, jumping to his feet and pointing his revolver at the combine. As a result the combine hosed him down with his pulse rifle. He let out a scream, fell against the wall, and slid down it, leaving a trail of blood. Three combine soldiers entered behind the Elite, pointing there submachine guns at the remaining rebels.

"Run!" shouted Daniel as he fired of a random shot. He hit a soldier in the face. The Combine stumbled back into his comrades and fell. By then the rebels were nearly out the door. With determination the elite fired a volley at the retreating rebels, hitting Garret in the back. He let out a yell and fell against a supply cart, knocking it to the ground and generally creating a lot of noise. This Jared decided, was the only reason he and Daniel survived to make it out onto the street.

"Run! For goodness sake run!" Yelled Daniel, taking the steps from the Nexus three at a time. Jared followed, panting. He turned flew around the corner and was surprised to not see Daniel, in tell he was jerked into a small room barely visible from the outside. He looked at Daniel and opened his mouth to say something, Daniel quickly slapped his hand over it and put a finger to his lips and then cupped a hand around his ear, motioning for him to listen. He heard only silence at first, then…

"Protection team alert, confirmed anticivil activity in this community. Code: assemble, contain, amputate." Droned the Overwatch voice, echoing through the buildings. Daniel cursed.

"Aw crap what now?" Groaned Jared. Daniel shushed him,

"Shut up! Do you want them to hear u-….shh….what was that?" Jared listened He could hear a faint groaning sound. "Oh no..." whispered Daniel, "It's a Strider…" They stayed completely still as the striders footsteps grew closer. It seemed nearly on top of them when the sound stopped.

"Where is it?" whispered Daniel. A few seconds passed.

"I don't…" The striders foot slammed down not ten feet from where they were standing. The strider gave a groan and lowered itself on its stilt-like legs down to street level. It scanned the street with a spotlight and was about to pass over them when a citizen dashed out of one of the nearby homes to the strider.

"H-Hey!" she yelled "I-I can tell you were they are!" Jared gave a groan which was echoed by the strider as its massive head swung around to look at the citizen

"T-Their right over-"she was cut off by the overwatch voice.

"Overwatch acknowledges critical exogen breach. Airwatch augmentation force dispatched and inbound. Hold for reinforcement." The Strider wailed as it rose back to its full height.

"H-Hey! I know where they are! Don't you want me to tell you? I'm trying to be a good citizen! H-Hey!" The Strider Swung back around and lifted its leg.

"What? Wait... No. no please I just-"the stalker drove its pointed leg threw her chest, spraying blood into the street. It swung its leg, throwing her skewered body at the building the two rebels were hiding in. It slammed into the wall with a sickening crunch, and slid to the ground. Jared tried not to throw up as the strider stomped off. After a moment Daniel asked,

"W-what does that mean? An "exogen breach"? Are there more rebels?" Jared shook his head.

"Sounds like something else." He whispered. But whatever it is, it's distracting the Combine, so let's move." They were able to sneak down the street and around the corner before encountering more Combine, a group of four soldiers who also appeared to be responding to the overwatch voices summons. They hadn't seen the rebels yet but were moving their way and would soon. Daniel looked at Jared.

"What do we do?" He asked, the sound of fear flickering at the edge of his voice. Jared reloaded his magnum and readied it. Daniel stared at it for a second. "Oh."

Jared Darted from around the corner and fired two shots at the group of combine, hitting a gas-masked soldier in the face spraying blood into the air. He also hit another soldier in the chest, who gave a muffled cry as he fell backwards, his final burst from his submachine gun echoing unnaturally loud against the concrete walls of the city. Jared watched as Daniel shot another Combine in the head, his head jerking to the side as he fell. The third soldier deduced the odds were against him and ran, attempting to radio for help. Jared shot him in the back. His final transmission ended in an eerie flat-line that reverberated loudly against the surrounding buildings. Daniel lowered his gun, breathing hard. He pointed down the street.

"That's where they were going." He stated.

"Yes." Agreed Jared, reloading. "What of it?" Daniel shrugged.

"That transmission we heard earlier, well….if it more rebels….I just assumed that would be our best bet." Jared sighed.

"I really hate the idea of going where the combine are going….but I suppose your right."

"Look." Exclaimed Daniel, pointing. "Another one." The combine soldier was propped up against the wall, blood painting both of them. As they walked the two rebels kept encountering multiple dead combine troops. Yet, as of so far they hadn't found any bullet holes on the corpses. Only what looked like scratches, like an animal. And every once in a while Jared swore he could see shadows flitting around in alleys or around corners. He was becoming more and more uneasy.

"Any bullet holes?" He asked nervously.

"No." Replied Daniel, the fear evident in his voice. Suddenly off in the distance they heard gunfire and screams.

"What the heck was that?" Exclaimed Daniel, looking around nervously. Jared set his jaw.

"I don't know. But I can find out." He started off towards the noise.

"Jared wait! Jared!" Daniel ran after him. He caught up to him a few blocks away. The fighting was very loud now.

"Jesus Jared this could be dangerous!" Daniel panted. Jared shushed him and gestured around the corner. Daniel looked and gasped. It was a group of combine being attacked by…oversized spiders? The creatures had for legs, were light brownish in color and liked jumping it seemed. Especially at heads. The two rebels watched as one succeeded in latching on to a combines head. The combine screamed and tried to wrench it off to no avail. A few seconds later the combine stopped screaming and fell to the ground. The creature moved on.

"W-what are they?" Daniel asked shakily.

"I don't know." Responded Jared rather flatly. The creatures, it seemed, were still vulnerable to gunfire as an elite blew one to pieces with a burst from its pulse rifle. A few seconds later the engagement was over. The creature's body's littered the streets like trash. The remaining soldiers moved on, down the street away from the rebels' position.

"Those combine were in a pretty bad situation. Do you think they called backup?" asked Jared.

"I don't think so. I didn't hear a radio transmission did yo-" Daniel was cut off by something heavy landing on his back and driving him to the ground. The Hunter towered over both rebels, its cool blue eyes staring them down. It made some droning noises then crouched lower over Daniel.

"Run Jared! RU-gghdgg…..hhhh…" Daniels last words ended in a gurgle as the hunter drove a

Fle'chette through his throat. Jared ran until he couldn't anymore, that is, when an Elite tackled him to a wall and zip-tied his hands.

"Citizen, do not resist." Jared gave up and closed his eyes to wait. As he did, he thought he caught a glimpse of a blood stained finger coming out of an alley but he couldn't be sure.

"Amputate." As the combine raised the gun to his head he heard panicked combine yelling and gunfire. The Gun was taken away. He was about to open his eyes when something slammed into the side of his head and everything went black.