It started small, with an unprepared band of Marine reservists encountering deadly extraterrestrial visitors in the backwoods of Missouri. But this fatal First Contact rapidly escalates into a global crisis as mankind discovers that two warring species of aliens have invaded our world through a network of hidden interdimensional portals. The apocalyptic conflict between the hastily labeled "Blues" and "Grays" has already devastated their home planet. Now Earth has become the final battleground in a cataclysmic war whose origins are barely understood.
Forced into a hasty alliance with the alien Blues, humanity has no choice but to brave the awesome Gray onslaught in every corner of the Earth. From the mean streets of Atlanta to the mountains of Afghanistan, from Washington, D.C., to the alien's war-torn homeworld, all of humanity must unite to survive.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Last World War by Dayton Ward
Why the hell did I volunteer for this
The unspoken question screamed in Lance Corporal Bradley Gardner's mind at the very same instant the mosquito whined in his ear for the third time inside of a minute. Automatically he swatted at the side of his head, once again trying to drive the incessant bug away.
"Gardner," a voice hissed from a few meters to his left. "Keep quiet. You'll give our position away." The voice belonged to Sergeant Ronald Thurman, his squad leader.
What, and talking won't Gardner had never met Thurman before the beginning of this past week, but it had taken him less than five minutes to decide that the Marine sergeant was a complete asshole.
Shaking his head, he reached up to wipe perspiration from his face. The sweatband he wore underneath his Kevlar helmet was soaked through, thanks in no small part to the oppressive August humidity. Summer heat, working in tandem with heavy rainfall in recent weeks had also given full bloom to armadas of mosquitoes that were out in force tonight. Even though Gardner had doused himself with insect repellent before leaving their unit's base camp, sweating had diluted its effectiveness.
Nothing could be done about it now, though. His thirteen-man rifle squad had established an ambush position and silence at this point was crucial to the success of their mission. If the information Thurman had briefed them with was correct, they would be encountering an enemy patrol while it was conducting its own security sweep of the area.
Looking to his left, Gardner regarded his companions, nestled as he was among the underbrush that conspired with the darkness to render his squad nearly invisible in the forest. They had taken up positions along one of the numerous trails that crisscrossed this part of the forest, arranging themselves in a line that followed the bend of the trail perhaps ten meters inside the trees. Thurman had informed them during their briefing that this trail led to an enemy camp.
The squad had fast-marched to this point along the trail, which Thurman had chosen as the ideal site for an ambush. They had established sectors of fire that allowed each Marine to interlock with the men to either side, creating a kill zone from which no member of an enemy patrol would be able to escape.
Like him, his fellow Marines had taken care to conceal themselves behind fallen logs, thick bushes, anything that could break up their outline and hide them from even the most attentive pair of eyes. A nearly full moon hovered in the cloudless sky, bathing everything in its soft, ghostly illumination. No one moved, spoke, used their flashlight, or even smoked a cigarette, as the telltale glow from even a cigarette butt could be enough to reveal their location. So long as they did not make any stupid mistakes, their enemy would never know the squad was here until it was too late.
His mind screamed the warning at him before his eyes even fully registered the nearly imperceptible motion up the trail. Perhaps fifty meters away, the movement was so slow, so methodical, that at first Gardner thought he had imagined it. Darkness could play tricks on the human eye, after all. At first his eyes registered nothing but a patch of forest, looking very much to Gardner like just another tree.
Then it moved again.