It's been a quiet shift tonight. Then again, it always is. When you first started this assignment as an operator of the Primary Obstacle Missile Platform (or POMP—those R&D guys love their acronyms), you spent your shifts with your eyes glued to your display screen, expecting any minute to see dozens of red blips appear. The POMP Defense System protects major cities across the whole region, and with politics the way they've been recently...

You blink. That was just melodrama on your part. You soon learned that nothing ever happens. You liked the idea of this job—you were never a very good soldier, but you wanted to protect people. When the opening came up, you submitted a transfer request immediately. Now, shoved in a back room and staring at a cramped screen, you realize that being a POMP operator is the type of position typically assigned as punishment. That explains why the transfer was so quickly accepted. Even still, you try to keep your spirits up. After all, at least you're still (in theory) protecting people.

An alarm buzzes. You almost don't hear it. It's supposed to indicate incoming hostile munitions have been detected, but the disfunctional scrap of junk metal goes off several times a night. You've learned to ignore it. It's strange—the POMP itself is an incredible feat of engineering, and a tribute to modern balistics and sensors. On your desk is some new device the guys in R&D have been working on. They call it the "Z Button", and while you haven't been to the training yet, you've heard it can mess with time itself, of all the crazy things. Yet your alarm can't seem to tell the difference between incoming explosives and a cumulous cloud.

The alarm buzzes again. You blink again. That's unusual; it rarely goes off twice in a row. It buzzes again. And again. And then begins a continuous drone. You glance down at your controls, then at the Z Button, and then at your screen.

The sky is on fire.

POMP Operating Instructions:

Cities are indicated by grey rectangles, and POMP silos by red semicircles. The green number above each silo indicates how many remaining missiles are in the silo. POMP missiles will detonate upon reaching their targeted position. The explosion should destroy any nearby incoming enemy munitions. If an enemy munition reaches its target, it will detonate, effectively destroying the target.

Due to the potential paradoxical implications of its use, the Z Button is only to be used by properly trained operators, and only then in extreme circumstances. Unauthorized use of the Z Button will result in a demerit and an incident report being filed along with the nightly log.