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Chapter 96: Falcon: War Awaits

Updated: Jun 7

The atmosphere in the rec room transformed in an instant as the chilling declaration, "We're going to war," echoed through the air.

Time seemed to freeze as a wave of shock and disbelief rippled from person to person. In the eerie silence, the small team realized the gravity of the situation. Then pandemonium ensued.

"What do you mean?!"

"War! There's only 13 of us!"

"Are you suicidal?!"

The air was thick with questions and accusations, catching Falcon off guard. In years now long gone, when troops received orders they were going to war, it was all "Yes, Sir!" with a mix of hoots and hollers. There were always a few dissenting voices, but never had they been this outspoken and filled with disdain. And never with such contempt. Long gone were the ranks of enlisted troops in formation waiting for inspection before deploying to some third-world Hell Hole where they'd spread "freedom" to a population of locals that resented the presence of the US military.

The world had drastically changed. The United States had transformed into a nightmarish third-world wasteland. In this terrifying new reality, the "locals" were a combination of survivors in Cobra's New Springfield and the shambling flesh-eating undead. The people of New Springfield showed fierce opposition to the new Joe Team interfering in their lives. Cobra's propaganda had successfully turned former citizens of the United States into their enemies, much like it happened overseas. Adding to the chaos, the President of the United States had declared this new Joe Team as The Enemy. The hordes of undead were just ferocious.

Now, the people Falcon had served alongside were going to be hunting them. Amidst the intrusive thoughts, hostile atmosphere, and internal turmoil, Falcon questioned his decisions and leadership. Was he doing the right thing? Was he on the wrong side? Was he qualified to make these decisions? His self-doubt was abruptly interrupted by a punch to the jaw, plunging him into a chaotic brawl. Despite his spinning vision and the commotion around him, Falcon managed to stay on his feet, narrowly evading and countering incoming blows.

"ENOUGH!!!" His voice boomed through the space like a thunderclap. The shock stopped his team in their tracks, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU?!" Blood poured from noses, eyes were beginning to swell shut, and knuckles were bloodstained. Thankfully, no one had grabbed a readily available and easily accessible weapon. He looked at the team, his team, and their fear was palpable. "Did you think this was going to be easy?" He looked at each person in turn. "Did you think this was a game?" He watched Throttle wiping blood from her lip. Greaser was pressing a rag to her injured knuckles. GP offered a hand to Mother, who was flat on the floor. All around, the team began standing and dusting themselves off like children caught in a playground scuffle. "You think you're the first to be afraid? When the dead started praying on the living, we were all terrified. Chaos took over. The baser instincts of man became the law of the land. Against all odds, we managed to barely survive those dark times. But we did. And we started new communities with their own sets of rules and values. However, our efforts to rebuild civilization are now threatened by Cobra, a goddamn ruthless terrorist organization! The people of New Springfield are the victims of all of this. They only want to feel secure. They think Cobra is keeping them safe. They are blind to the atrocities we've seen; the slave pits, the horrifying use of zombies as weapons, the existence of mass graves." He notices no one is looking at him. But he knows they are listening. "Did you think I meant we were going to grab our rifles and head out right now without a damn plan? Without recon? Without the ability to win? You're all out of your damn minds!" The room is in disarray, as is the team. "Clean this place up! Then, see Bulleit to dress your wounds. I'll deal with all of you later!"

He sharply turns and walks out, leaving whispers of apology in his wake as he makes his way down the long hallway to his office. Falcon turns the knob and steps inside. He makes a beeline for his desk and sinks heavily into his chair. Opening the bottom drawer, and retrieves a spherical bottle upon whose cork is a man on a horse. "Blantons, my friend," he murmurs as he pours a generous amount into his coffee-stained mug. His jaw throbs as he takes a long, lingering sip. He gazes around the empty office and asks, "Now, what do I do?"

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