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Eyes shot open as the sound of the phone awoke him from his sleep, disoriented and confused for a moment. He slowly sitting up and looking at the top of his small dresser by his bed that had an empty cup next to his bottle of apple whiskey. He rubbed his head, a small migraine hitting him as his mouth was as dry as a bone.
His default ring tone stopped when he looked at it, then shook his head and got up to go to the bathroom. He moved in front of the toilet and adjusted himself to pee, him sighing in a bit of relief still tired and out of it.
He didn’t recall what he dreamt of, if he even dreamt at all.
Once he finished, he shook it off and adjusted himself once more and zipped his pants, flushing to toilet and went to wash his hands when his phone rang again.
He ignored it on purpose this time, washing his hands and shaking the water off his hands and checked the time by looking at his watch that was on his left hand. It was two in the morning and someone was calling him this early? How annoying that is.
He picked up the phone and pressed a button to silence it and walked to the window, pulling the string to look out the window while the blinds slide upwards. Was night but the city was as busy as it always was, be it night or day a lot of someone’s were awake and doing things.
He went back to the bathroom, examining himself, noticing the stubble around his chin. One could say he is handsome, a Caucasian man with a strong jaw, silver eyes and short dark brown hair that could be mistaken for black at times; not to mention that he is what some would call "ripped" but being in the military did help with that.
He sighed some, grabbing the shaving cream and covering his chin and around his jaw and upper lip with it before grabbing his razor to begin shaving it off. He shaved almost carelessly but not careless enough to cut himself. Once he was done, as if on cue, his phone rang once again.
He looked out his bathroom down for only a moment, then washed his face of what was left of the shaving cream and dried his face and hands before going to his phone.
It was one thing for someone to call and leave a message, but it was another for someone to keep on calling. Why was it so important that they have to call incessantly?
Once that was done, he grabbed his phone feeling rather annoyed and answered it. “What?” he yelled in irritation.
“Corporal Josh Hoe?” a somewhat familiar voice asked on the other end but he couldn’t place it.
“Yeah, what is it?” he was still yelling but not as loud and clearly still annoyed.
“This is Major Colt Conner. We need you for a mission, whatever you have going on can wait.”
The next thing Josh hears is the phone making a sound, he looked at the screen seeing he received a text message and around the same moment, Major Conner hung up.
He would look at the text, noting it was from a number he didn’t have saved.
‘I’m sorry, please text me back.’
He contemplated on responding but decided against, looking around the temporary apartment he has been renting monthly just for reasons like this.
A couple of days later Josh stood in the briefing room with his squad, catching up on what's been going on in their lives at home.
Nicole was called back during her honeymoon so she wasn't really happy about that and hoped this mission was extremely important. She was quiet in comparison to everyone else chatting away, undoubtedly still fuming about it.
She sat leaning back against the chair, arms crossed and just glaring at the door as if daring someone to walk in late. Her dark hair tied in a bun added to how serious she looked.
“Nicole stop being so mad, should be happy we are going on a mission instead of just training.”
Nicole glared at Eve with her dark eyes in annoyance but didn't say anything.
Eve rolled her green eyes as if she gave up, her blonde hair in a ponytail. She was cute, both the girls were, pretty even but the uniforms didn't add to it very much since they all wore the same things. Military camouflage pants and a gray undershirt just like the guys in the room at the moment.
“Honestly, I don't know why you are so mad Nicole, planning a wedding and honeymoon when you know we could be called back at any time. Sounds like poor choices to me.” Josh teased, taking advantage of the fact she was pissed.
“He's got a point, but to be fair it's not like we expected to be called for one considering the nature of our missions.” Chris pointed out. “How often do you expect something weird to happen in relating to our training? I honestly thought it was a joke.”
“Thank you, someone understands.” Nicole said, finding solace in the fact she didn't have to explain it herself.
“Yeah but it should be expected to happen. If it isn't, then why would we be training for missions like we have been? Makes no sense to train us when nothing is ever expected to happen, would be a waste,” Joe stated.
“Exactly, see Nicole, the Mexican understands why can't you?” He grinned.
“Oh shut up white boy.” she did her best not to grin but she was clearly amused.
“Hey, it's white MAN, it's your husband that's a boy, and he’s so skinny.”
“At least he has a cute butt.” Nicole mumbled.
“What was that? Your Armenian accent isn't showing.” Josh teased, leaning forward and placing his hand behind his ears as if saying he can't hear her.
“Oh well excuse me.” She cleared her throat.
“At least he has a cute butt!” she yelled with a grin on her face.
“There we go, but I'll have you know, my butt is nice. Should see it sometime.” he winked.
“Wow.” Joe stated, shaking his head as if wondering what he was doing here.
“Speaking of butts, how is your sweet ass at home?” Eve inquired, looking at Josh.
“Oh, you know... being a hoe.” he shrugged.
“Ouch. That sucks.”
“That it does, but it's fine. Mission came at a perfect time.” he informed. “And hopefully it will be something interesting and nothing bull.”
“Oh yeah, that would suck if it was all bull...not to mention our lovely Nicole would be pissed.” Eve grinned and looked at Nicole.
“You have no idea.” Nicole stated with a groan.
The door opened and in came someone in the same uniform as the others, he was just tall, a bit skinny but muscular with short dirty blonde hair that was borderline too long and a mess. “Hello.” He waved to the others when he entered.
“Eyyy, it's the other white boy.” Josh stated when he entered.
“Almost late Max.” Joshed stated as he took a seat by Joe.
“Almost but I am on time so nothing to worry about.”
“Except your hair, should fix that.” Eve suggested.
Max started to finger comb his course hair then, as he had clearly forgotten to deal with it.
“Here, use my brush.” Eve tossed a brush towards max that was in her pocket.
“Thanks.” He started brushing it, mostly just the surface however so it appeared nice but if you looked close, it still wasn't the best. Once he was done he tossed it back.
“Got you.” Eve placed the brush back in her pocket right when the door opened and Major Colt Conner came in. He was a much older man than this group, brown hair, dark eyes and clearly spent enough time outside and was in full uniform.
Everyone stood when he entered, but he told them to ease without really looking at them and went to the empty table at the center of the small room and placed a map that took the entire table top.
“I'll make this quick.” he said, looking at the map, only waiting a moment for the squad to move over to the table and at the map which was the layout of a town that none of them recognized.
“This is where your mission will take place.” Conner began. “A town called Arkala according to the fire team we sent to scout the place out before we lost contact. Except for a few strange things the town was pretty normal. However, the last report we received was that people were going missing randomly in succession. One person a day for the past three weeks, and two of ours went missing in that same time frame. I told the last one to pull out but he never reported back or showed up here. This was a week ago.”
He stared at the map of the town as if it was a difficult puzzle to solve. “I don't know what's going on here, and the fact that so many are missing in such a short amount of time bothers me. Your primary mission is to go to this town and figure out what's going on. Find the Fire team if you can but it's not your main goal.”
He looked up to the squad, looking at each of their faces until he looked at Josh's. “There is a perimeter 20 clicks outside Arkala. Should something go wrong you can fallback there and someone will be waiting for you no matter which direction you go. Questions?”
“Yeah, where is this town and why are we so interested in it?” Max questioned, looking at the map curiously.
“Arkala is in California, and we are interested in it because this town formed overnight a few months ago in our country.” Conner informed, standing straight up from leaning over the map and rested his hands behind his back.
Max looked at him curiously as if he was joking but didn't ask, looking to the map again, rotating it to face him and looked closer, adjusting his glasses. “So you are saying a school, clinic, a market and all these things formed over night?” He looked back up to the Major once again for confirmation.
“Including the civilians.” he informed.
“The civilians? How?” Josh asked, looking at the major from the map.
“If I could tell you that then it wouldn't be as much of a mystery now would it. All I know for sure, is that none of this was there months ago and then one day it just was according to satellite images.” He placed a folder on the table that none of them had noticed and Josh opened, looking at the images with dates on the corner. March eighth there was nothing, just a dessert area, then March ninth there was the city exactly as it is shown on the map, just with less buildings.
“The town is getting bigger?” Eve questioned, looking at the pictures over Josh's shoulder. “But the population is getting smaller, how is that possible?”
“That is your job to find out.” Conner informed. “Fire team had that goal in mind but they are gone and were not trained for this like you are.”
“Do we know anything about the ones going missing? Any traces or clues? Is there panic for that matter and how the civilians are?” Josh asked, placing the folder on the table looking at Conner.
“Walking into a cult would be awkward.” Chris stated.
“According to the reports they don't seem to notice that buildings are appearing out of nowhere and act as if they have been there the entire time. When it comes to people going missing, they get varying results. They either realize someone is gone and try searching for them as what would normally happen. However, sometimes they have no memory of who has gone missing even though they are someone’s daughter for example. Meaning, the parents have no memory of them even existing. In another report, someone has been missing for a long time, and it had been 'years' since they saw them when they were there only a day ago. Which is odd considering that town only showed up a few months ago but believe they have lived there since they were born. That town seems to even have a history. You aren't going to find much information from the civilians themselves.”
“That is all the information I have for you. I am sure that this is important enough mission to interrupt your honeymoon.” He looked to Nicole who ignored his gaze and continued to look at the map.
“You will head out at 2400 tomorrow morning.” Conner informed looking at Josh.
“Good luck. Should further questions arise you know where to find me.” He turned and left the room.
The room remained quiet for some time, everyone looking through the folder or the map until everyone had the chance to look over them.
“Well this is interesting.” Joe commented after a moment and set down the folder.
“Very, and here I thought it was a joke they were training us for impossible things and we were just the worst in the military.” Chris stated, looking over the pictures again as if looking for something.
“I don't think the military keeps useless people.” Nicole said. “So what's the plan?” She looked from the map to Josh.
“Bring what we were trained to use, as well as the extra stuff to be safe.” Josh answered. “The plan is to go in quietly and check the place out. Start packing, I'll get more details from the Major, I still have more questions anyways.”
“Dismissed?” Eve asked.
“Yeah whatever, just go.” Josh answered.
They left the room while Josh rolled up the large map and grabbed the folder, thinking to himself about the mission. It's the first mission they have had in general. Training to deal with both the natural and the impossible the best way they can but the impossible part was rather difficult to train for since no one really know what thing they would be facing. Was always different and difficult and sometimes life threatening.
There were experiments as well, in hopes of giving them abilities to stand a better chance in general and they worked to an extent. They had different skills and were able to do different things but they weren't the easiest to control at first but the fact they could do that much was wild. The fact that they have a mission that was dealing with a possibly naturally occurring thing was rather disturbing but exciting.
Josh headed towards the door, and headed to the Majors office that was in a different building but was nearby. Thinking of the different things his team could do in a strange situation like this. By the time he got to the office he had come up with at least 20 scenarios.
He knocked on the already open door.
“What is it?” Conner asked while reading over some papers.
“Have a few more questions.” Josh stated.
“What are they?” he asked, looking up at Josh now, noting him close the door.
“I'm aware that the squad isn't allowed certain information, but is there anything else you didn't say while they were around?” Josh asked, moving his hands behind his back with the folder and map in hand. “Such as the 'strange' things that had happened beyond the disappearances.”
Conner sat up, looking at Josh as if contemplating something before standing up and grabbing a somewhat thick black folder that was underneath a tan one and held it towards him. “This is everything that was reported back. You have permission to share it with your squad.” he informed, leaning back once Josh took the folder from him.
“Thank you Major.” He turned to leave.
“Godspeed.” The major said, watching him leave before looking back to the paper he was reading beforehand as if tired all of a sudden. “God help us all.”