The rippled water gave an imperfect reflection of what Kelsa could see. The first time she'd been here - 5 months to the day - the view had been different although the reflection had been the same - imperfect. The only thing that hadn't changed was the leaden sky.
Her mind drifted back to that day 5 months earlier. They were on their honeymoon, married only 4 days earlier, and deliriously happy with each other and the world. The gray sky and intermittent rain couldn't dampen their spirits. In fact, it brought them closer what with having to share the umbrella as they walked on the tidal sand.
They were in Washington state visiting her maiden aunt - their immediate family had insisted they try to visit all their west-coast family that hadn't made it to the wedding. While Kelsa appreciated the thought - family is important, after all - the visits didn't fit with her idea of what a honeymoon was supposed to be about. Vander, on the other hand, was happy just to be with her where ever she happened to be. His easy-going nature didn't allow things like visiting family to get in the way of having an amazing time with his new wife. So, they visited and, when Kelsa had had enough of family, they went for walks in which ever neighbourhood they found themselves. Those walks had yielded several amazing finds like that family-owned ice cream shop in Vancouver and the lovely view across the almost-still waters of the inlet.
Now, though, Kelsa was alone with her memories of her all-too-brief marriage. Those days seemed so far removed from reality. There were times she could hardly believe she was the same person who had enjoyed life so much, lived every moment as fully as she could. Now, there was just the grimy, gritty, bloody reality of the war.
The view that had been so peaceful, so beautiful was nothing of the sort now. She could just make out where the houses had stood, could see the mast of the sunken sailboat poking above the water. Beyond that there was only the military precision of the Chinese war camp. As she sighted in on what had to be an officer, she thought back to how the war had started.
The opening salvo - although it hadn't been recognized as such at the time - was massive interference in the world economy by the Chinese government. At the time it had been thought that the Chinese were just a little clueless about how the world's markets work in reality and had blundered while trying to devalue their currency. The reality was much darker. Having quietly hired some of the best minds through shell companies, the economists had no idea they were working for the Chinese. Although some of them questioned some of the requests they got, none of them questioned the source of the requests. They were all too happy to have some seriously geeky number crunching to do. And, given that they all worked from home or small 'executive office' parks, none of them knew that the others existed let alone were working on other parts of the same master plan. It was only after the authorities started arresting them for financial terrorism that they all started connecting the dots and realized how thoroughly they - and the world's financial powers - had been duped.
The next phase of the war was confined to Asia as the Chinese consolidated their hold on Mongolia and North Korea, invaded the eastern reaches of Russia, and started working their way down through Myanmar and Laos towards Australia. There were no obvious military incursions at first. Just some military advisors sent to help the local militaries prepare for an incursion by the western powers. The 'help' had been nothing of the sort, of course. The advisors were assassins and, after a few months of working within the target countries, they were well positioned to take out the entire leadership, both military and civilian. It was only after the power structures had been decapitated that the Chinese military had moved in and taken over with hardly a shot being fired.
Several African counties were similarly taken over although, in those cases, the Chinese had been there in force for some years providing investment capital to develop the economies and infrastructures. Suborning the military leadership in those countries had been accomplished over time through bribery, blackmail, and out-right threats leaving no one to oppose the Chinese when they offered to step in and govern in the absence of a home-grown government.
Military movements on the scale required to take over several counties were impossible to hide. Alarm spread throughout the western world like wildfire but if was already too late to help the afflicted countries. The UN was in an uproar as everyone tried for a non-military solution. Discussion raged over embargoes and sanctions. Measures passed with no effect. China continued to protest that they were simply moving in to assist in stabilizing the countries and that they held no imperialist ambitions. Meanwhile, under the cover of all the political posturing and bickering, there were massive armies on the move towards every western nation. These movements were, of course, military 'exercises' and nothing to be alarmed about.
Kelsa slowly and ever-so-gently caressed the trigger on her 50mm sniper rifle and watched across the inlet with satisfaction as the head of the camp commandant exploded. That the two other officers standing behind the commandant also went down was a bonus. The rest of the meeting attendees scattered and found places to hide. But the remains of the houses that used to stand along the shore weren't going to be enough cover to prevent Kelsa from exacting revenge for the destruction of everything and everyone she held dear.