“Shortly before Christmas, 2019. While out shopping for gifts for their parents, two sharp youngsters stumbled on a bunch of folks who just don’t smell right. They weren’t right. They were Cen agents, human animal hybrids utterly loyal to their creators.
These kids being on scene saved the west coast of North America a lot of heartache. When the word went out what they’d been caught with, the mages up and down the west coast, from Los Angeles to Denver, stood ready. And, in a flurry, a hundred nukes we thrown through dimensional portals to land on our doorstep. But our mages were ready. They kicked them back and slammed the portals shut. Made for a lot of unhappy hybrids, wherever they went off.” He grinned wryly, scratching his bald head.
“Things didn’t go so well back east. Magic still hadn’t gotten the acceptance it had in the west. The infections had spread from this coast, so the easterners hadn’t as long to learn to deal with monsters and freaks in their midst. And magic scared the crap out of them. The bible belt nearly had a collective coronary. Heh, heh.”
The old man chuckles, pats his jacket absently, then sighs. “Ain’t never gonna get used to the cigarette ban. Can’t believe you can smoke dope but not cigarettes. Then again, dope doesn’t cause cancer.” He shakes his head. “True story.
“So… the east coast had been utterly destroyed. Low radiation bombs, from what we were told, but I wouldn’t want to take my grandchildren sightseeing through those parts, if you know what I’m saying. Not if I want great-grandchildren.
The Cen took Omaha, then swept north and south from there, moving forward until they reached the base of the Rockies. That’s when they settled in for the winter. Nothing lived behind them that didn’t glow already, and if they had their way they’d consume everything in their path until they reached our sea.
We only communicated sporadically with posts overseas. Thankfully there were supers and magi everywhere, more or less. Everybody had a fighting chance. And everybody knew–you fuck a super or a mage, you might come up with the power too. Fucking for humanity. It might kill you, but if it didn’t…
Truth be told, by the time the war came along most people had quit dying from the plagues. Most of the ones dying of disease those days were the kind that come back. Everybody else just hung on for dear life.
The plagues killed a lot of people, but there were a lot of people cheering them anyway. They made us stronger, they said. Sounded like Nazi shit to me. As it turned out, I wasn’t alone. Anyone who tried pushing around ordinary folk usually ate some recoil. As I was one of those ordinary folk at the time, I appreciated the backup. I ain’t a coward. I’ll stand up to a superhuman type. But those trolls? Or a vamp? Or how ’bout a ‘thrope? Uh-uh. I’ll leave the monsters to fight each other.
Anyway… We’d all heard how the Cen hated magic. True story. Apparently they like things that fly even less than they like magic. Their anti-aircraft weapons are scary as fuck. They targeted our satellites in orbit. That’s why our communication grid went to hell so fast. They hit them as they came through the gates. Along with any aircraft that came within fifty miles of airspace they claimed.
We had no way to flank them. Oh, a few of our flying heroes could get over there, but so what? Then we skirmish them on both their borders? They had enough people for that, believe me. Of course, I was just a lousy Sergeant. No one listened to me.”
He snorts. “People. Never thought I’d call ’em that. Anyhooch, I gotta mosey on home to my Jamie. Going to be a cold night and we like to bundle close. Happy holidays to you all.”
From Memories of the Cen War
by Tagai Hava
(Interview with 1st Sergeant Matthew O’Bannon, Earth Defense Forces).