I.

During Nightwatch 
South Tower of Liberty Compound
Main Security Headquarters
Sector 4
“How’s it been?”
Braden Hunter walked into the room where four men sat watching live feed from security cameras surveying the outside of the compound. Ever since he had walked into the compound, he had become the main go-to guy. It wasn’t long before the Protection Patrol Team recruited him into a position of authority. He hadn’t minded. As long as it meant that him, his best friend, and his best sister’s little sister were safe from what lived outside these walls. He would play whatever role they wanted him to play.
“Pretty quiet,” one of the guys answered him. “Too quiet.There hasn’t been one incident. All towers confirmed no sign or sight of the infected or any radical parties.”
Braden eyed the man who spoke, pausing a moment before he took a sip of his coffee. He let the hot liquid distract him from the wave of uneasiness that settled in his gutt. He then glanced about at the men looking at him waiting for his response. He sighed before he walked up closer to view the large screens.
“They’ll try for the weaker entry points,” he told them. “Tell the North Tower to keep an eye out for anything. They’ll come from above–“
Just as he said that, Braden stepped back away from the screens in surprise as an explosion eclipsed half of the screen. He growled as the smoke cleared away from the screen and he watched as a band of radicals stormed down from the entrance from above just as he expected. He muttered a curse underneath his breath.
“Put out the alarm! Alert the men to rally at the North Tower!” Without another word, Braden turned on his heel and headed out already making his way towards the North Tower.
He heard the intercom system click on and heard the announcement in correlation with the alarms going off alerting that Sector 4 was under attack. He hurried down the steel staircase leading to the main floor. He watched as men scrambled about to the evacuation points to hop on the subway system to head to Sector 4. He noticed his second in command and best friend, Dale O’Hara, waving his arm attempting to get his attention. He hurried over to get to him.
“C’mon, we’ll take my craft,” Dale said. “It’ll get us there faster. Just powered it up with crystals.”
“Good. And ammunition?”
Dale nodded. Both of the men hurried off to the Sector 1’s flight team headquarters ready to get into the fight. Braden sighed, praying that Dale’s little sister, Maxine, was safe in their quarters not out and about.
As if Dale read his thoughts, he turned to him. “Call her? Make sure she’s home.”
Braden clicked his earpiece and voiced his instructions to call home. All he heard was endless ringing. He scowled as the answering machine picked up. He shook his head and then quickly decided to try her mobile.
* * *
The moment the alarms went off, Max O’Hara was glad she had entered Sector 4 military wing. She had slipped inside the area that housed suite-style living quarters for military personnel. Since both Dale and Braden were a part of the military protection agency here, she was granted permission to live in the military sector. She figured it probably had more to do with Braden’s position as head director of operations.
When she made it to their quarters, she quickly put the code in. She then finished up the rest of the safety measures by scanning her eyes and her hand to verify it was her. When she was granted entrance, she walked in and finally let out the breath she was holding. She was safe for right now. The door slid closed behind her and she heard the reassuring click of the locking mechanism.
She walked into the interior of the living quarters dropping her shopping bags as went. She quickly grabbed the remote and turned on the screen. She flipped through the channels until she found the Live Broadcast feed of the security cameras and military personnel’s personal cameras filming through their special cameras pinned on their uniforms. When Braden was home, he would often check the feeds regularly to make certain everything was running smoothly. Braden had also told her that under any emergency that she should keep her eye on the Live Broadcast feed so she would know what to do.
She bit her lip as she watched the military go up against the radicals attempting to break into the compound. From what she saw, they had actually effectively bombed the compound wall and now inside. She wasn’t afraid of any contamination from the outside world. There were so many check points before anyone could breach the main compound area. The doctors had made some progress with the disease. They had managed to successfully catch the virus before it took root and attacked one’s immune system through early detection scans and high-tech lasers that could target the virus when it was airborne. When it attached to an organ, there was a low chance survival rate.
She heard a specific ringtone going off and realized that Braden was calling. Tearing herself away from the screen, she darted back to where she dropped off her shopping bags. She located her purse and rooted through the contents until she found her mobile. She quickly turned it on.
“Braden? Are you alright?” she asked frantically. “Is Dale with you?”
“Finally!” Braden grumbled. “Yes, we’re fine. We’re on our way right now to the attack site. Where are you?”
“I just got back. I’m safe.”
She heard Braden sigh in relief. She heard Dale say something to him, but she couldn’t make out the words. Their voices began to garble until all she heard was humming then a loud bang. She gasped, not knowing how to react until she found her voice again.
“Braden! Braden! Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m still here,” Braden muttered. He sounded winded. “The craft took a hit, but we’re fine and so is the craft. Just stay inside and keep safe, okay?”
“Okay, just… please be safe,” she said. She paused for a moment before she added on, “No grand heroics, okay?”
“Ah, Maxy, where is the fun in that?” Braden chuckled. “Okay, I have to go! We’ll see you soon, okay? Take care of yourself!”
“You too.”
Max heard a click and she knew he was gone. She sighed, squeezing the mobile tightly in her hand. She muttered a prayer for their safety as she walked back into the living room area. She sat down on the sofa with her eyes glued to screen. Tonight was going to be a long one, she realized as she watched the military engage the threat. She bit her lip, watching and just waiting.
* * *
It was almost noon when Max woke up alone. She glanced around the living quarters she shared, but there was only silence. She sighed, forcing herself to sit up on the sofa. She glanced up at the Broadcast feed still on the screen. She was relieved to see that there wasn’t any fighting taking place. The military was in the process of cleaning up the chaos post-threat.
When her stomach growled, she decided it was time to eat. She hadn’t eaten at all since the attack. She had been too nervous she supposed. She was in the midst of making herself some scrambled eggs when she heard movement outside the front door. She heard the door slide open and familiar voices echoed through the living quarters.
It wasn’t until they were standing in the kitchen in front of her that Max relaxed. As she threw herself into their embrace, all thoughts of her scrambled eggs were long forgotten.

Prologue

Whatever you do – you can’t let your fears or hesitations hinder you. You can’t let it slow you down. It’s you… or them. The words echoed in my mind as I patrolled the perimeter of the compound. It was a high-security facility for the ‘condemned’. Ever since the world had given into the pure darkness of humanity, the world has gone to the pit of hell. Prisoners of their own greed, they have chained and forced the innocent to live through the havoc of their own making.
The world isn’t how it used to be. So much has happened. Once thriving, once on the verge of scientific discovery… the world had been simpler then. Perhaps it’s not their fault fully, but they are the cause. They are the catalyst to the events that had led us to where we are now. Civilization has collapsed. There is no true government. There are only divisions that are in constant rebellion of each other’s beliefs.
The wars began a decade ago. Those multitudes of scientific experiments – they were trying to find the universal cure to end all illness. We would live longer, be invincible. Be immortal in a way. And though the reasons were selfish in the beginning, the greatness derived from this cure far outweighed the reasons behind why they were desperate to find a cure. They were first going to use it for military purposes. In the end, even if you believed in God or not, you realized that some things should have been left alone.
Life was meant to be lived with an expiration date. But since humanity felt they could play God, they risked everything without realizing they were going against nature. And with that comes certain consequences. Dire consequences.
The world has altered beyond recognition. The experiments did not lead to the holy grail as humanity intended, instead a contagious mutation has taken over the human race. They didn’t take into account what would happen if it should backfire. Instead of life, they promised a gradual and gruesome death. These experiments caused a genetic mutation that festered into a virus that the body couldn’t fight. It broke the human body’s immune system and soon wreaked havoc on the brain in a form of dementia until the virus, like some parasite, ate the brain.
In the beginning, they tried to reverse the effects of their experiment. Every day people would sit by their TVs waiting for the news to come on only to be disappointed by the continuous failure. The infection spread like wildfire and there was nothing they could do stop it. Humanity had doomed itself.
Civilization has been lost since half a decade ago. What are left are divisions, branches of communities – everything is unorganized – and no one knows where the enemy lies. The world and humanity will perish, that is unfortunately inevitable. And now, it’s more of how will you die.
The sickness has consumed more than half of the human population. The other half just sits and waits until they are too infected. War and violence has broken out. The radicals have declared that the unfortunate ones that have contracted this disease must be exterminated. Since there is no cure, they believe that natural selection has dubbed them with the right to decide the fate of infected in order to save what was left with humanity. There is no room for debate either – you are either with them or against them. Too dangerous to go it alone, you must conform to their belief system if you wish to survive.
There is no turning back. You must show them no mercy. For if you do show a shred of mercy, you would pay for it with your life. You will be marked as one of them and will become hunted. There is no room to be a martyr here. They cannot be saved.