Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 17-


Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16

Minutemen: The Crucible

Chapter Seventeen: “The Life and Death of Tim McManus.”

McGoohan Hall
Harvard University
Boston, United North American Protectorate
September 1, 2552
Two months before the invasion of Earth

McGoohan Hall’s largest classroom was a hundred-seat cathedral designed to worship academia. Beige and baked red bricks towered over the students from every side, reaching up the impressive, ancient-looking domed ceilings. The progressive sunlight of each day sparkled through installed filters that in turn projected soothing, soft, inspiring rays of multi-colored light during the day and real-time constellations relative to the sky at night. To counteract the possibly distracting natural light display above, the ten tiers of evenly spaced workstations were all designed to focus the pupils’ attention down toward the stage-like lectern and the rail-thin professor behind its distinctly alter-like holograph projector.

The teacher’s knee-length formal jacket and bizarre white pants coupled with his hands and arms moving like some manic composer gave the class a more cultish feel, but Tim McManus was too busy thinking about beer.

The hazel-eyed Harvard Junior leaned back in his small leather chair, feeling the responsive nanomachines in the leather shimmy and move to make his new position as comfortable as possible. Tim tapped the stylus of his study tablet against a denim-sheathed knee to the beat of an unheard song and he sighed as he ruffled his long brown hair in anticipation of his emancipation.

The Interstellar Politics professor’s voice echoed against the bricks like a tropical bird’s mating call. “Everyone in the faculty urges you to attend the relief concert Saturday night and to welcome the class of ’56. All proceeds benefit the war refugees of Tribute colony.”

On cue, the study tablet of all ninety-five students winked crimson and white, showing details for Saturday night’s concert along with three buttons forcing the children to choose between if they were attending, might attend, or had no intention to attend. McManus sighed and stabbed his stylus at the “maybe” box, waiting for his teacher’s reaction. The long jacketed-cult leader Professor frowned.

“Ninety ‘maybes’,” He grumbled, “You cowards might as well just say ‘no.’”

McManus rolled his eyes from one of the back tiers, whipping around in his chair as a flash drive knocked into the back of his skull. Tim pushed the high collar of his new crisp fall jacket to playfully glare at his roommate, Dylan Winters, no doubt the perpetrator of the classroom crime. Indeed, Winter’s bright blue eyes shone with mischief, both from his last act and the fact that he was sandwiched between two very well dressed girls that Tim thought he recognized from Harvard’s dance team.

Winter’s dark brown skin contrasted sharply but stylishly against the sky-blue chalk stripes of his tailored suit, the home and away uniform of Harvard’s population of old money students. A slick, form hugging pink shirt lay beneath the suit, accompanied by a dark holopin attached to the lapel of his suit that read in stark black letters, “Remember Reach.” Despite the enormous wealth of Dylan’s family, Tim did not hesitate for a moment to flick the flash drive back at his friend when the Professor restarted his lecture.

“What’re we doin’ tonight?” Winters hissed at McManus and not-so-subtly nodded toward his companions on either side.

Tim McManus stopped tapping his stylus and looked over his shoulder with a look of betrayal. The secretly brilliant student, who knew the Professor’s lecture backwards, pointed the sleek writing utensil at his rich friend. “Um, I’m sorry, is it not the first weekend of the first school year we can legally drink? Because I’m reasonably certain tradition demands we defile ourselves at The Foxhole.”

“It’s like you live in my head.”

Tim laughed to himself. “It’s spacious enough.”

Dylan’s bright eyes narrowed conspiratorially. “Hey,” he breathed, leaning forward cautiously to avoid the Professor’s attention, “Remember last weekend of Relative Physics?”

Tim wagged his head as if jostling the memory out of his brain, “Kinda.”

Dylan leveled a knowing look at his buddy. “Class dismissed.”

McManus’ eyebrows shot up in recollection. “Oh.” He replied, finally putting all the pieces together. “Oh!”

Winters’ eyes twinkled as he glanced down at the droning teacher and the pupil’s sagging postures of boredom. Tim shook his head vehemently.

“We cased that for, like, two weeks.” McManus explained, now actively monitoring the Professor’s position and tone, “The firewalls here are way more sophisticated—”

Winters leaned back and shook his head sadly at the two attractive girls on either side. “Sorry girls,” he apologized, “I guess he’s grown complacent in his old age.”

The two old friends exchanged a series of looks that were a conversation in their own right. Finally Tim rolled his eyes. “Gimme your tab,” he sighed. “If anyone’s gonna get busted for this, it should be the guy whose folks bought the gym.”

“It was a library,” Winters corrected, but Tim was already hunched over Dylan’s study tablet, hands twitching over the glow of its display. The trust fund playboy draped an arm over one of the co-eds as he watched his friend with pride. After two minutes of frenzied but masked movement McManus finally slipped the tablet back under his arm and toward the waiting manicured hand of his colleague.

Dylan glanced at the smooth, thin black data pad, chuckled as he showed it off to the ladies, then tapped it with his pinky finger. Instantly, every student’s data pad faded out the lesson and replaced it with a jovial green and orange glow, accompanied by a bright white invitation in Gaelic font:

First weekend of the school year, the text message glowed in the same manner as the relief concert before. The legend is back and legal for the first time. Foxhole happy hour. Right now. Class dismissed.”

Tim shrugged innocently and lightly tapped the “Attending” box as he stood up, followed moments later by the entirety of the large auditorium. Dylan Winters laughed out loud. “Ninety-five attendings,” he crowed, slapping his friend on the back. “A new record!”

“Ninety-six,” McManus corrected, tossing his backpack onto a shoulder and nodding down at the exit. “I think the Professor beat us out the door.”

“You,” Dylan Winters said with not a little pride, “are a legend, man. They’ll sing your song forever.”

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 4-


Chapter 3 Chapter 2 Chapter 1

MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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CHAPTER FOUR – “GO ON WITHOUT ME.”

Harvard University
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 10, 2552
Afternoon

As Tim scrunched his eyes shut and prepared for the pain, he felt the air rush out of his lungs and his eyes popped wide open in shock. He felt a slight breeze through his hair and he realized his was speeding backwards from the cave in; Tim’s eyes flicked down to catch the Boston Police uniform that had him in a perfect form tackle.

In that instant, time normalized and he hit the ground hard,  ears ringing from the crash of the collapse, then adjusting to the scream of pain from Officer Walt Merriweather. McManus scrambled back with his hands, terrified of the scene in front of him. The selfless Marine vet was pinned from the knee down under the heavy weight of the collapsed hallway, and despite his efforts to wriggle free, the ox of a man was trapped. Ron ran into the intact portion of the hallway and rushed to Merriweather’s side.

“Can you move?” Parsons asked, trying to lift the obstruction.

“Ah’m fuckin’ pinned,” Walt moaned, eyes shut tight in pain. “Gawd damn it.”

Only then did Tim become aware of the staticy voice shouting his name. He lifted the radio to his mouth and called back, “Yeah, I’m here.”

“Are you ok?” Rachel asked, worry evident in her voice. “What was that sound?”

“Rach,” McManus said, joining Ron, “We’ve got a big problem. The cop’s pinned and we’ve got a girl in critical that we’ve gotta move out of here. Grab the packs and get up here right the hell now.”

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 3-


Chapter One Chapter Two

MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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CHAPTER THREE – “WORST CAMPUS TOUR EVER”

Harvard University
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 10, 2552
Afternoon

For Christ’s sake, your school, your city, and your planet is being bombarded and invaded by hostile alien forces, and you’re really thinking about sex right now?

Tim McManus had tried everything he could to keep that revelation buried in back of his consciousness. Despite being covered in soot and breathing in the rich stench of burning paper, wood, and smoldering brick, it had made its way into the front of his mind. McManus shook his head vigorously as if he could physically jettison the thoughts from his head, but once again, he failed.

Rachel Lynch, the object of Tim’s untoward thoughts, tapped him on the shoulder a step behind him. “What’s the matter with you?” She asked, concerned. Two hours ago Tim would have done handstands to command her attention like this. Despite her beautiful face and sparkling green eyes showing genuine concern and eager to hear his thoughts, Tim knew these particular thoughts would be a distraction that could get both of them killed.

“Nothing.” Tim lied, tightening the straps of his backpack and checking his Battle Rifle for what had to be the hundredth time.

“You sure?” Ron Parsons chimed in, falling in step with the pair and shooting a glance Tim’s way. “Ever since that library burned down, you’ve been fidgeting like a retard sitting on an ant hill.”

Rachel laughed out loud at the off-color joke and Tim did his best impression of an appreciative chuckle. Tim wanted nothing less than to talk about his reasons for distraction, so he changed the subject without thinking. “No,” he deflected, “it’s the noise.”

“What do you mean?” Ron asked, picking a large piece of ash out of his hair.

“It just happened a few minutes ago. Listen.” McManus said, nodding toward the smoking city of Boston. “Like, ten minutes ago there were sirens. Cops, ambulances, fire. Now,” The Harvard Junior paused, letting the silence hang over them like a cartoon anvil, “nothin’.”

“See, I was thinking you were worried about our little fan club.” Ron responded, poking a thumb over his shoulder. Lynch and McManus turned around and finally addressed the problem that none of them wanted to talk about.

At least two-dozen people; students, faculty, staff, and bystanders, were walking about ten feet behind them as if the three dirt-caked, exhausted kids had any idea where they were going. Ron spoke low, as if sharing a personal secret about the people in front of them. “Ever since we ran in to grab Rachel, they’ve been looking at us like we planned that or something.”

Tim bit his lip in quick thought, and while he did not believe what he was saying to his new friends, said anyway, “I’ll take care of it.” To McManus’ relief, the other two fell in behind him.

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Minutemen: The Crucible -Chapter 2-


MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE

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CHAPTER 2 – “FIRE SALE”

Harvard University
City of Boston
United North American Protectorate
October 20, 2552

Tim McManus could have stared at the giant hovering CCS-Class Battlecruiser for hours, mouth hanging open, standing stock still with the rest of Harvard University. It was an incredible moment for the human home world, and a city-wide silence descended on Bostonians for an unheard of amount of time. The incredible moment was broken, however, by a car colliding violently into another stopped car, the resulting crunching crash sending everyone in the immediate vicinity to cover.

Tim put his hands over his head, got into a desperate crouch, and scurried as fast as he could to a digital newspaper download stand. As he put his back to it, he realized he had left both his book bag and rifle bag in front of the stairs and sprinted to retrieve it. He took stock of the area again and noted just how quickly everything had changed in just a few seconds.

Hundreds of people were now fleeing in every direction in streams of bodies; no one knew where they were going, all they wanted to do was follow the most basic instinct of fight or flight. That flight, Tim knew, would not last long. Now he found himself in an inner conflict. What the hell do I do now?

In that moment he looked inside his bag, where the half-eaten sandwich was still waiting to be consumed. He thought back to the conversation on target shooting he had just had with the sandwich guy and made a snap decision, maybe his last. McManus began sprinting toward Annenberg Hall.

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The campus was utter chaos. Tim tried to wrap his mind around all that was occurring, but between the civil alert announcements, the cacophony of running people going every which way, and the wailing of people mourning the imminent loss of the human home world, McManus’ vision was limited to about five feet around him and no further.

More than once he had to dip a shoulder and shove his way through the crowd, keeping a vice grip on the handle of his gun bag before he finally slung it across his chest and used both arms to move obstacles out of his way. Annenberg Hall loomed large over the press of humanity, and not surprisingly, Tim found it locked. As he started to search for a back door in, he heard the eerie whistling roar of Covenant Phantom dropships being disgorged from the Battlecruiser.

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