His Magnificence

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 Tons worth of concrete plummeted from the jagged ceiling to the floor of The Cave. As dusty clouds obstructed the air, the subsequent tremors from laser blasts and EMP charges forced Jesse and Fetisov to take cover.

Laserfire disintegrated the double-paneled wooden main door of The Cave moments after, and a contingent of Divine Army soldiers. As they searched for Fetisov, the desperate screams and cries of a select few drowned out the blasts and pounds.

 “JESSE!” cried Sarah, Matt, and Mary.

 “SARAH!” Jesse bellowed as he crawled away from a pile of rubble and emerged from the dust cloud, searching for his girlfriend and cousins.

 Seconds later, Jesse and Sarah found each other and embraced. Matt and Mary joined them at their side.

 “Where’s Fetisov?!” Jesse asked.

 “I don’t see him!” Matt replied.

 “He’s gone!” Mary yelled. “Are you alright?!”

 “I’m fine,” Jesse huffed. “What about Isiah, Zachary, and Peter? Are they safe?”

 “We have reinforcements in the Ellipse!” Sarah responded. “They’ve taken them to safety, and they’ve contained the New Alaskan resurgence! We need to get out of here! Fast!”

 “Are any of you hurt?!” Jesse pled.

 “Nothing we can’t handle!” Mary replied.

 Then, an enormous pile of rubble fell from the ceiling. Seconds later, both Matt and Mary, affected by the fall, collapsed to the ground.

 “NO!” Jesse and Sarah shrieked and rushed to their side. Mary writhed in pain, her legs submerged beneath two cracked slabs of concrete. Matt, meanwhile, disappeared under a slab to Mary’s left.

 Jesse and Sarah both lifted the rubble off Mary’s legs. Jesse then removed her facemask, revealing her red-and-blue face, attempting to foster air in and out of her lungs as she cried through her pain.

 “I can’t feel my legs,” Mary labored. “What’s ha-happening?”

 “NEED A MEDIC! NOW!” Sarah squealed into her wristwatch.

 Jesse, meanwhile, knelt in front of the pile that fell in front of Matt. No human flesh was visible.

 “MATT?!” Jesse screamed as he feverishly attempted to yank the pile away, one slab after another. “MATT!”

 No response.

 “ANYONE ELSE HERE?! I NEED HELP!” Jesse pled as he continued to clear the pile in front of him, but most of the slabs were too heavy.

 Two more platoon members joined Jesse and helped him with the lifting. Minutes later, as the dust settled, no sign of human flesh showed. Jesse paused, slumped further, and stared at the rubble, specifically at what appeared to be the glove of a Divine Army soldier, devoid of movement.

Time stood still for him as his insides quivered and his heart collapsed. He believed Matt was dead. Eerily, explosions and laserfire slowed from a deafening crescendo to an echo slowly drowning out an almost funereal tone.

 Then, as the echoes died, Jesse dropped his head. He ripped off his helmet and visor, and wept. Sarah joined him at his side and wrapped her arms around his chest to comfort him, and wept together.

 “I’m sorry, Matt. I’m sorry.” Jesse cried into Sarah’s shoulder.

 Suddenly, a new booming sound echoed through The Cave.


 Jesse and Sarah snapped their heads backward breathlessly to see Matt, able-bodied and well, towering over them.

 Immediately, they rolled their eyes and fell backwards, panting for air.

 “What?!” Matt innocently inquired. “What did I do?!”

 He then looked at Mary, who rolled hers despite her pain.

 Additional Divine Army reinforcements then entered The Cave to begin rescue operations and convey orders to vacate the premises.

 After they composed themselves, Jesse and Sarah remained laid down on the rubble, face-to-face, as additional reinforcements surrounded them.

 With a combination of relief and confidence, Jesse looked into Sarah’s eyes, and did not stutter with his next statement. “You remember what we talked about back at Weehawken?”

Sarah smiled.

“What do you think?” Jesse asked.

Sarah took a breath, then nodded.

As they leaned toward each other for a kiss, a uniformed Divine Army soldier interrupted them.

“Sir, we’ve found Fetisov,” he said. “He’s dead.”

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