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Global War of Terror (GWoT) - In The Breach

"I stopped with my hand about to touch his shoulder, and shuddered at the enormity of what I had been about to do. However horrid his dreams, a far worse thing to do would be to wake him up and return him to this reality, the reality of the camp." -- Viktor Frankl, _Man's Search For Meaning_


In my dream I am an old man. My legs do not work. I am in a power chair.

I am at the base of a large pedestal, erected on Treasure Island.

On the pedestal is a tall statue of a burly man. He towers over us all, easily thirty meters tall. He wears a torn jacket on which there is a star badge - SFPD - and two shoulder patches. I cannot see the motto but I know it by heart. "Oro en paz, fierro en guerra."

At his belt is a baton and a pair of handcuffs, but in his hand is a long-handled sledge hammer, the head of which rests on the ground.

He is gripping the shaft and looking west at the hills where San Francisco once stood, and only now is beginning to rise from the crater glass and broken ruins.

HIs face is tear stricken and covered with dust, but determined. He is here to rescue, to defend, to rebuild.

He is the Statue of Responsibility, erected on the West Coast as the Statue of Liberty is on the East Coast.

At his feet are written the names of every person who perished on that first day of the Firecracker War, in and around San Francisco. There is not enough room on the pedestal, so many are engraved in stone on the cobblestones which bear our weight.

I know several of these names. We are next to one.

Martha Reid. Most stones have a birth date. None need a death date.

Her daughter Amy, who was at home in San Mateo just after school when the city was bombed, is now a strikingly beautiful middle-aged woman.

Amy sought me out as I had been the man with the presence of mind to write a child's name on her forehead before she was removed from her home and evacuated. Otherwise she would not have know her own last name - or her mother's.

I am thinking of all the other names which are not engraved here. The innocent and the guility, in the wild days after the Firecracker War and the Tyranny that followed.

Only after we conquered China did we turn to the problems of our own nation. The "State of Emergency" had continued long past when there should have been elections. We had to fight a longer and dirtier war, and the only consolation was that we had not lost any more cities to nuclear fire.

I could still smell the stench of the false sun to the north that first grim night.

# # #

I woke up with my heart pounding, on a narrow hammock stretched between two empty server racks.

"Echo 18, respond. The reaction team will assemble..."

I leapt out, pulled on my trousers, laced up my boots and holstered my handgun, doing a press check to verify that it was loaded.

Perhaps I had glimpsed the future.

More likely I would not live to see it.

As I locked the cage door behind me, I tried to put the statue out of my mind.

But as I ran he smiled slightly, as one does to comrades.

"Echo 18 responding," I replied as my boots clicked on the tile.

"We have a breach..."

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