And In The End, story and graphic by rac

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I. For Want of Buttered Luck

Some folk want their luck buttered.
           --Thomas Hardy--

Old Calendar:  June 5, 2011
New Calendar:  Day 349, Year 2 A.E.

There was one major fact we didnít know.  One fucking thing, and it just about killed us all.

Everything was moving forward with successful momentum; the Consortium had nearly been decimated and then further pushed into a corner by the rebels, so they were no longer working their own agenda. The rebels, once they realized the rest of us were not in league with their enemies, stopped acting without first alerting us to their more, shall we say, explosive situations. All the governments of the world had joined together for the first time with unprecedented cooperation to fight our common enemy.

We had them. We had them licked, those gray bastards. Despite all their technology, good, old-fashioned, human passion and ingenuity had them licked.

Until they started sabotaging the nuclear reactors.

In those early days, the atrocities and the destruction numbed us all. The sum total made Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Tokaimura combined seem like a joke. It took three major disasters before we began to realize what was happening. Even then, it took us longer to understand why.

The rebel faction finally explained it to us: We couldnít survive in the radiation released from the nuclear plants. But those bastards could. If they couldnít take over the Earth with plan A, it appeared they were resorting to plan B.

Like the cockroach, alive in virtually the same biologic form for approximately 320 million years and seemingly impervious to any disaster, these bastards were about the same. Just our luck they had to go and develop a reasoning mind, unlike our local, surviving insect life form.

Our resources were stretched beyond thin in those days. Life was disrupted for everyone; no one wanted to stay near the nuclear plants and the military facilities where nuclear weapons were stored. No one knew where or what might be next on their list. The destruction in some countries, the ones more fully dependent upon nuclear energy, was devastating. For the first time since our modern technology had visited and mapped just about everything there was to see and explore on the face of our Earth, significant pieces of it were off-limits, wastelands of radiation and destruction.

It took us a long time before we managed to get that situation under control again. Only due to the rebelsí help were we able to place adequate guards at each of the thousands of potential disaster sites around the world. Not because of lack of manpowerÖbut because the rebels were the only ones who could spot another alien. It takes one to know one, it seemed, so the only way to save our planet involved very close alliance with the rebels. It worked, barely.

And now, I am forced to wonder if weíve only bought ourselves a longer death, rather than go out in a flash of nuclear glory. Our weather patterns are now severely effected, with nuclear winter a threatening reality, and nature has begun complaining vociferously at the abuse we have heaped upon the planet.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, violent tornadoes and hurricanes, even horrible, violent thunderstorms and torrential rains are raging world-wide. The weather has become so unpredictable that our food supply, once so overabundant and plentiful, is now a vague memory. Whole crops get wiped out by flash floods or sudden freezes in areas that have no history of such thing. Life has become a precious commodity as we work desperately to live in what has essentially become a hostile environment.

If that werenít enough to have to deal with, there are now the petty and not-so-petty dictators and terrorists that see Earthís travail as a perfect time to assert their power over the masses. The combined forces of the remaining United Nations members are working diligently, with scarce resources, to quell terrorist attempts to take over remaining viable and arable land, along with the more deadly attempts to get their hands on weapons, or even to suborn the remaining local populations.

I think back to my twisted childhood, and think of the adult I became, somehow feeling always out of sync in some fundamental way with the rest of society. More at home crawling in the minds of twisted and perverted serial killers and other enraged or mentally ill criminals. A normal life seemedÖextravagant to me, in some way. I never seemed to be able to live one, no matter how much a part of me longed for it.

Now, in the ravaged remains of life as it once used to be, it is the disenfranchised who are thriving. Maybe because we are used to adversity: We expect it from life and therefore arenít rocked to our core and made helpless when it arrives. In any event, I find myself at the top of the heap in this brave, new world; ironic, to say the least. At odd moments, I have quenched the hysterical laughter that threatens to burst forth, along with the desire to shove my new position down the throats of my old detractors.

But, of course, they are not here, and I cannot shove reality down the throat of those who no longer live among us.

Here I am, Spooky Mulder, Director of the United National Police, built upon the remnants of what used to be the FBI. The UNP is much more inclusive: we oversee all local police departments; we can use what National Guard resources still exist as need arises; and we have strong ties with the military. Scary, isnít it, especially given my own history with the old DOD. Sounds downright like a military dictatorship when I state it like that.

But, so far, it isnít, and if enough of the good guys keep asserting their power, it never will be. Unfortunately, such centralization of power was the only thing we could do to fight such an organized, technologically advanced enemy in our weakened and disarrayed state. And now that we have won, as we have been informed by the illusive but helpful rebel forces, marshalling our resources and efforts in a uniform way will be necessary to rebuild our country, all our countries, amid the wreckage that our battle with the alien forces have left for us.

Life, so fragile, so precious, continues on. Certainly the quality of life we enjoyed ten years ago has changed; the everyday threats that we deal with are many and varied, but we still live. We still live, and love, and new life is still being born. In the midst of all the destruction, this past year we actually had an incremental rise in the (admittedly sketchily gathered) population figures due to a rise in birth rate. For some reason, I cried when I heard thatófor all those lost, all those never to be seen again, and yet, life goes on.

This period of semi-quiet Iím experiencing must not be good for me; Iím growing maudlin and morose in my idleness. I hate feeling gloomy and emotional; itís something Iíve always tried to avoid. (Scully just threw her apple core at me, hard, and hit me on my head. Iím going to have to stop reading bits of this out loud if sheís going to act like that.)(That shut her up.)

After years of an adrenaline-pumping pace, life is beginning to shift into a modern version of normality, and Iím having a hard time adjusting to the lack of a hundred crises a day. Ten or twenty seems so strange, so easy to handle. Scully said I should take a vacation. I canít imagine it. Thereís still such need all around. Instead, I'm doing that other thing she suggested, writing down my memoirs--I balked for months; it sounded disgustingly pretentious to me--but Scully convinced me it was in the best interests of historical accuracy for those of us involved at the deepest levels to set down on paper our many memories and experiences.

Thinking back on the past is not easy. Maybe I should take that vacation, before I fall down. Iím not that young, eager, green agent anymore. When I stop working and sit still, I feel old. And lonely. It is lonely at the top. I didnít want it this way, didnít want it all to happen like this.

But we rarely get what we want, do we.

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