September 2nd, 2041, Oakland California, 7 am
"She was here,” Jerry stated grimly. With Angie and Ian in tow, the Resistance fighter cautiously stepped further into the abandoned office building. The three of them were responding to internet chatter of a bizarre incident the night before.
Strange, flashing lights had been reported along with disturbing, otherworldly sounds. The most peculiar report of all was of the building shifting in and out of existence. While many would dismiss these rumors out of hand, the retellings struck a cord for the Resistance.
The building on the corner of Myrtle Street and 3rd Avenue was like so many others in the area. Once vibrant and bustling, it had long ago turned into a haven for the homeless and those desiring to remain unseen. Paint peeled off the walls, inside and out, in long, ragged strips. Many of the windows were destroyed by rocks and other objects, while graffiti of various quality was everywhere.
As the light of dawn crept in through the compromised windows, the surrounding scene became more apparent. The lobby where Jerry, Angie, and Ian stood was utterly trashed. Debris of all kinds was strewn everywhere, and vast chunks of the faded, cracked tile flooring were gone, leaving jagged holes throughout the space. Lighting fixtures hung in disrepair from the ceiling, which also had mysterious absent sections.
The receptionist’s desk was twisted into an impossible shape. It seemed as if a child had endeavored to assemble a complex lego creation. The top was in the middle and the middle on the bottom. It was hardly recognizable as a counter. The most disturbing part was a man’s head, his face frozen in sheer terror and agony, erupting from the perverted mass.
“Are you sure?” came Natalia’s voice through the implant just behind Jerry’s right ear.
“Oh yeah,” he replied, strolling up to the tortured, disembodied head sticking out of a solid surface, “Mag-Ex definitely paid a visit last night. Her signature is all over the fucking place.”
Jerry stood in front of the grisly mass and let out a deep sigh. The Resistance had been hunting the Order’s armored servant for three years now, but they always seemed a step behind her. Too often had Natalia scrambled everyone to a reported sighting, only to be a dollar short and a day late. The young man didn’t know who the victim in front of him was or what the man had done in life. But he did know that no one deserved to die like that.
“I’m so tired of finding people like this,” Angie lamented, brushing a stray hair out of her eyes and manually adjusting the settings of her liquid metal armored vest. “There has to be a way for us to anticipate her moves!”
“Yeah, me too,” Jerry agreed heavily, gazing down at the gruesome sight with his hands on his hips.
“It smells really bad in here, Jerry,” Ian interjected with a screwed up, disapproving expression on his face.
“I know, buddy. You can go outside if it’s too much,” Jerry responded.
“No. My job is to stay with you, Jerry. I just don’t like the smell in here,” Ian stated.
“Me either,” Jerry agreed before continuing, “Ok, folks. We all know the drill. Let’s spread out and take the building floor by floor. Look for any evidence of Mag-Ex or the Order as well as any survivors.”
“There’s never any survivors, Jerry,” Ian reminded his idol earnestly.