Spiraling floral patterns covered a man's dying dreams.

The flowers spun and grew, withered and died. There was deathly silence, even when around him the air was lively and awake, with amazement and dread.

He suddenly felt pain. Deep, hellish pain, ripping his dream apart into the darkness. His conciousness spread, screaming upon buried infinity, all across his body. Then his eyes opened, meeting with the piercing, painful glare of a LED lamp.

- LEDs. We don't use LEDs anymore. Is this… Is this…?

He jumped up, spun one-eighty, and grabbed the neck of a labcoat, pulling the body inside it a few centimeters from the ground. A symbol he knew stared back at him, just below the medic's scared face. A triangle, pointing down, with a nest spread out inside. His grip weakened, and grew sad. That symbol was from way back, from times afar when…

- "I- Ahm. I'm glad you woke up, mister… How should I call you?" - Spoke the medic, still startled. He dropped the poor man, and tensed down. His dried, burnt lips moved, modulating air from inside his saggy mouth.

- "Juan Mondragón. That's my name."

- "Good. Are you feeling alright, mister Mondragón?" - Spoke a second voice, noticeably more quiet. Before responding, Juan looked around him. He lied in a medical bed, sorrounded by medical equipment, and was being illuminated by a medical light in a medical room. That definitely wasn't home. It wasn't Malthus, either.

Juan then exhalated, and responded. - "Fine, sir. Guess I'm stranded somewhere." - The doctor laughed in response. - "Quite so! You've just stepped through a wormhole and collapsed… Right in front of our site. Welcome to the Authority, Juan. My name is Daniel."

- "The… The Authority." - His eyes teared. - "I come from the Authority, too. One shattered like a fallen crystal jar. A jar that used to hold the nightmares at bay… No, I don't come from the Authority. I come from its remnants."

- "Tell me, what was, or well, still is, your rank, Juan?" - Said the second voice, a military informant called William. They were now walking through the halls of Site-057, the first and greatest Dimensional Studies facility to date. Someone wanted to interrogate him. Someone important.

- "Captain, as of my last two days. I'm still a regular operative of the now-wiped MST Mu-7, Firestorm." - He responded, treating it like distant, objective facts. But God knew words could not wipe the stench of rot stuck in his mouth, in his brain, his memory. The stench of a close friendship, once bound by the chains of survival and combat and hell, now ripped apart forever by death.

William did not respond. Instead, he kept walking, and directed him to a door, unmarked save for a triangle, housing a netted sphere in its center. - "The moment you enter this room, you only speak when asked. Do not stand until you're dismissed, and most of all… Don't try anything stupid." - Without dismissal, he just walked away.

Juan opened the door. It was well-oiled, and did not make noise. The room inside was dark, very dark. A single spotlight hung over the close end of a table, illuminating a chair. He closed the door, and squinted to see through the dark. His eyes, used to hiding in the deep of the Earth, saw through the veil and saw the slightly less dark outline of a woman. - "Please sit, mister Mondragón. We've got a few questions to ask you."

He obeyed, as sharp as always. The place was almost nostalgic for him, even in the dark. He now knew what it was, and who the woman sitting across the room was. She was old, he knew. Older than time itself, perhaps.

- "First, answer me this question as thoroughly as you can." - She paused for a second. - "When did your Authority begin to break down?" - His curiosity deepened, and was about to ask the obvious, when she spoke again. - "Don't ask me how do we know. We do."

Guess he wasn't the first.

Those were the great old days. Duty in Argentina, chasing a nameless nazi paracultist group.

Every week brought action, chase, news. The rush of aiming a rifle mid-run. The awe of finding abnormalities, patches in reality that defied reason. Work in Containment was amazing, and best of all, it was for good. Every shot that landed on target, every unreal abnormality was an averted apocalypse. Mu-7 "Firestorm" grew to legendary status every month, as more and more sites filled up with stuff caged by them.

However, those great old days were not to last. Soon, grim news came from up north to Site-223. Something was wrong in Europe, and it had spread to America. To the Galápagos. A dreadful, once unknown name spread through the mouths of South American personnel; The Church of Malthus.

Soon, it was demanded that Mu-7 ceased operations, and garrison Site-223. Something about supply crisis was spread by mouth, but the higher-ups kept silent. Their faces grew paler by the day, but they refused to speak. One day, a sealed case came right to Captain Juárez. Delta-4 and -5 soon disappeared, sent up north. The other day, other, even more dreadful news came in;

Central America was lost.

Plain and simple. It was lost.

No trace of the continent was left, except an army-sized AEDFS fleet, all guns pointing to the ocean. It was broadcasted everywhere, spread like gunpowder, the veil between the normal and the abnormal finally torn to shreds. Then the broadcast cut, and panic set in. Months passed by, and panic kept rising, drowning, killing. The Argentinian government sent an army to the Falklands, despite the protests of an impotent Argentinian Authority. Juan could hear the slaughter of his friends from Sierra-14 from radio, even from the other side of Captain Juárez's locked door. They kept asking for help, begging for reinforcements, prayed for an airstrike. Juárez kept saying no, and when the last scream cut off by gunfire, he cried.

Someone called "Agustín García Manzanedo" had took over the Army. Then he took over the country. His white, blank face stared at Authority sites menacingly, without eyes to be seen, said threats without a mouth to speak. He said that he was sympathetic to Argentinian personnel, but that the organization was English by nature, and as such, a threat to Argentina. A threat to him, a man so loved, who had been lied for so long, kept somewhere deep in the Falklands.

He allowed Authority operations, but enlisted military representatives to oversee every move, every hair of the Authority's long hand. Kept an axe over every finger, ready to cut it if need be.

But GD-17, Uruguayan by birth, Argentinian by heart, would not take that. He ordered Protection to "fuck over the robotic bastard." Buenos Aires flamed for three days, every man from Protection biting furiously into the impervious metal box that was the Pink House, the Argentinian government's headquarters. For the first two days, it seemed like Manzanedo would have to resign. It seemed like he would have to step back into the box, to be buried again, deeper into the cursed islands. UNAAC stepped in, and demanded the Authority to shut down operations on Argentina, and South America as a whole. The long friendship between the United Nations and the Board ended with a whimper.

He remembered Secretary Brown and his famous speech, broadcasted everywhere.

- "The United Nations' alliance with the RPC Authority has come to an end. The Global Directors have failed to research, to warn us of the impending madness. They have failed to protect, to stop Malthus in their tracks, to prevent the destruction of Africa. They have failed to contain, to enclose the threats back into their cages. They've caged noble men and women during endless ages, never again to see the light of day, only because of their capabilities. President Manzanedo is the prime example that anomalous men are still men, that the authoritarian method is horrendous, and that you, their prisoners, do not deserve to live in the endless dark, in the long, stretching hole that is their prison!

The speech cut to applause, to laughter and cries of happiness. The Board was defeated. They seemed to become smaller, no longer immune to the tides of time and change.

- As such, the UNAAC will transfer all of the now free assets to the two following organizations…

Brown looked to a sheet, and the air grew tense. Everyone stared at the Secretary in suspense, like a TV commenter, about to announce the name of a million-dollar winner. Everyone, except the Authority personnel. They began leaving, some crying, some staring down. Some cursed and insulted the Secretary, the UNAAC, and everyone else in the room. Only the Board stayed, drawing air slowly, hoping to God that…

- The Acquire, Enclose, Protect Association and the Global Enterprise for Anomalous Research.

GD-10 stood up and cursed, slammed his desk in rage. Around him, AEP and GEAR representatives stood up, cheering. Hug and congratulated. The spectating crowd applauded, except for a few old men and women, all staying down, staring in spite.

- We will discuss the terms and agreements later, as of now…

The words of Secretary Brown seemed to fade away, back into the static. The mess hall in Site-223 turned into a wake, broken only by the sound of tears dropping to the ground. Brown kept talking, but the mourning did not listen.

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