The team takes several steps back from the control panel as the giant machine comes to life. I step to my right and see a waterfall of florescent lights cascade down from the top, expanding to the width of the machine, and making its way down to the tarmac below. The light pulsates to the machine’s humming rhythm, like water reacting to stones thrown into a pond.
I expect to see a dark portal open up in the center of the device, but instead large vehicle bursts through the wall of lights. The engine screams at dangerously high RPMs before the engine blows, forcing the vehicle to stop violently halfway through wherever it came from. Waves of light cascade toward the outer rim.
Another siren blasts from the control panel. I look over at the screen:
OBSTRUCTION IN PORTAL
This time it offers no solutions.
As the siren continues to blare, I look back toward the limousine. One of the doors opens and a man in a suit falls out, gasping for air. I take off in a run to help him, Cleaner right behind me. As we each grab an arm to pull him up off the ground I recognize his face.
“Open the RV gate!” I yell into the comm. Cleaner and I drag the man as we run toward the RV, with Darwin and KJ headed over to meet us. The ramp begins to lower, but not fast enough. “Hurry! He’s going to die!” I scream.
We reach the RV but the ramp hasn’t opened far enough for us to get in. I look back at the limousine and see two more men on the ground gasping for breath. I point, “Go help those men!”
Darwin and KJ turn to look where I’m pointing.
The wall of watery lights throbs, making bigger and bigger waves. Suddenly, the wall implodes with such force that the limousine and the two men are sucked back into the vortex it creates. I grab onto the gate as I feel the pull reach all the way to the RV. I can see Darwin and KJ near the front of the vehicle lose their footing. They grab onto the side of the RV to keep themselves from being sucked into the machine as well.
The ramp finally lowers enough for Cleaner and I push the man on the ramp, and pull ourselves onto it as well, desperately fighting against the pull of the implosion.
“Close the ramp,” I yell at Brooklyn.
“What about the others?” She panics.
“Just do it. Now!”
As she reverses the ramp, I can see the top frame of the device break apart and get pulled into the vortex. Out the window I see KJ lose her grip on the RV. Darwin lets go of the RV with one of his hands in an attempt to grab KJ, but in doing so loses his grip with the other. He too is pulled through the air toward certain death.
Suddenly the vortex itself collapses and the machine explodes, sending out a massive shockwave. Darwin is slammed hard against the RV and KJ is blown through the air before skidding to a stop on the tarmac.
I frantically perform CPR on the man as the RV ramp seals closed. Brooklyn re-pressurizes the airlock, pumping oxygen into the room.
As soon as the air is equalized, Brooklyn opens the airlock door into the RV. I grab the man and pull him through the door into the main area.
“Go get KJ!” I tell Cleaner as I shut and seal the airlock door behind me.
Brooklyn opens the ramp for him and he quickly returns with KJ, helping her back into the RV. Darwin follows close behind.
Cleaner yells at me through the airlock door, “That’s enough, Camden. He’s gone.”
I fumble with my helmet, trying to unlatch it through my gloves. I manage to get it off and proceed to perform mouth to mouth on the man. A few breaths, then chest compressions, then more breaths.
I feel a hand on my shoulder. “He’s gone,” Cleaner says now standing next to me.
I sit up, out of breath. “I tried,” I say, as tears fall down my face. “I tried to save him.”
“I know. But there is nothing more you can do. He’s dead.”
I roll off him and lay on my back next to the body. Brooklyn tilts her head, trying to get a good look at the man’s face for the first time.
“Is that…” She stops short.
“The President of the United States?” Cleaner says, finishing the question. “Yeah. It is.”