"There are complications we did not foresee." Zane used the radio equipment inside of the Hind-D helicopter to communicate back to a Sons of Arms headquarters. The voice inquired back what complications.
"The weapon has multiple fail safes we were unaware of, my soldiers also report multiple intruders. I know we shot down two helicopters, but I believe there's a special visitor here."
The voice on the other end informed him he would not see any support for several more hours due. He would be on his own. Zane looked out the open side of the helicopter. Several of his snipers, had been killed, and the Jackal was recently found dead. But those deaths did not match with the reports from the third floor and fourth floor sabotage in the research wing.
He scratched at his thick beard in frustration. These infiltrators were sent here by them and they are traitors. There of course was the possibility that he could recruit something even greater against them though. Until then he had an old friend he needed to greet.
Leaving the helicopter behind, he and his four man escort moved through the new snow flurry that moved in on them. They went around the South end of the research wing. A massive loading lift gave access to the lower levels. It was how large materials was brought in and transported to the lower levels of the facility. To one side several heavy machines sat parked collecting more snow on their tarps.
The large lift doors sat open from their previous use. Stepping inside there was enough room for two tanks to side side by side. For the five of them, the barren steel room that was the lift was vast and silent.
Zane's ID card activated the lift. With heavy grinding, the shutters closed off the entrance, and the elevator started its decent down. The lift moved at a crawl, but it gave Zane the opportunity to think.
If the United States did not think they could gain access to the nuclear capabilities, there would have been a concentrated effort to retake the facility with a major force. What was the only barrier to that being true, was how complex the electronic security was. It was a network which they did not even know existed. There was a signal coming and going that prevent them from manually operating the device.
Next, the other priority of his mission was to get as much of the research and information and equipment loaded and out to the SoA. So far they had been very successful. They had moved most of the genetic material and research already. There was the body still up on the third floor, but the major component he was missing was Dr. Gregory Joseph. He was the key to continuing the work and giving SoA an edge. He couldn't imagine how he slipped through his soldiers. A lucky break would have him turn up, otherwise, these intruders were proving to be even more complex than he needed. Regardless, without the doctor, they could still make due, that mission was accomplished. The next submarine would come into the rail-gun's bay within three hours, and then his men will begin to load up experimental machines. The only thing left will be to get the rail-gun itself to respond, then the U.S. would never dear to strike out at them.
The lift stopped at the bottom of B2. The gate opened to the lift, and unlike the facilities above, here the walls were still exposed, stone walls with part steel part stone ceiling. His boots clicked along the painted cement flooring that lined the large room. Pallets, mostly of the magnetic shells and supporting industrial equipment lined the room.
At the end of the room his old friend was waiting for him. Juan Gaitanis was the peek of experimentation, but more so, an astounding fighter. He was an imposing man, six feet and seven inches, and shoulders wider than the best whisky barrels, arms the like cider-blocks, his teeth only added to the equation. But a combination of his war injuries and experimentation had left him looking nothing like that man he was born to be. In fact, that tightened the bond between Juan and Zane. Juan was the antithesis of what was wrong with the traitorous system. Juan had been through genetic torture, given his mind, body, and soul to ideals and the founding, only to be betrayed and labeled volatile. When things got dirty, a real fight, the reality of the fight, they tossed him aside, and literally locked him in a chamber, unsure if he should be killed or simply forgotten.
It was his opinion society didn't like men like Zane and Juan, and they didn't like them because they looked too much like what they feared. The violent controlling predators of society, but unlike others similar to Zane and Juan, they were made this way.
Juan wore cargo pants and a H-harness which held his pistol. He was shirtless, showing off the rough lime colored scales. A humanoid dragon, his face was wide and split with a sickly pop when his mouth opened revealing the haphazard line of human and crocodile like teeth. His eyes bulged, the human still there, but the innate reptile coloring had become sharper and more consuming from the time Juan had spent in isolation. His long webbed feet did not smack the ground as he walked, but thudded from the heavy weight. The short stubby tail that formed his lower back out waved with controlled sways.
The two grabbed hold of each others arms by the forearm in a brotherly embrace.
"Juan, good to see you adopting to freedom so well."
"Fresh air is nice." His heavy accent had gone away, his voice was horse, but the voice alone was no less human.
"I'm sorry it wasn't under better circumstances, but we are finally taking the first steps to crafting our own world."
"Our own world? Sounds nice after a year of isolation."
"It'll be more than nice, but we have some issues that I need your assistance with first." Juan blew a heavy breath out of his nostrils that had been relocated to the back top of this skull.
Clark had entered the weapon's development portion of the facility. The main bay he entered was vast and lined with large manufacturing machines.
He moved slower than he usually would have, forcing himself to do things right. The paranoia, the enlightenment from Doctor Joseph, with the ever growing distance between him and his command spider-webbed through him, like mortar between the bricks of despair.
A grunt pulled him fully into the moment again. It came from around a corner to Clark's right. He moved forward. He could hear rustling. Pieing around the corner, step, by short step, Clark revealed more of the scene.
Two figures stood with their backs to Clark, locked in a death embrace. A tall, thin, wiry muscular humanoid figure held one of the genetic soldiers. The soldier still twitched in the humanoid's hands for a moment before going limp.
Clark could only see a part of the profile of the humanoid. The white face was flat and smooth, like a mannequin's, a single 'Y' shape engraving glowing a lit blue. The body was almost bare, the arms exposed, but an olive drab coloring looking more like the thin armor seen on vehicles. The torso looked like it was welded together with some form of body army which was plated to allow movement but gave the boxy look of being reactive armor. The pants the figure wore were smooth, straight and green, blending in with the exposed portions. The boots were large, black rimmed boots with armor like plating along the sole. An unusual futuristic looking weapon was clasped to the right leg of the figure.
The body the figure held slumped down to the ground, and before Clark's eyes, the figure disappeared. Clark sighted his rifle to where the figure had just been standing. He heard heavy steps that hurried away. He scanned with his eyes above this sights. There was nothing there but the body the figure had been holding. Had the body not been there, he would have thought it was all a hallucination. Hell, it still might be an hallucination. Clark edged around more. The gap between the two pieces of industrial equipment was barren with the exception of the lone dead body.
"Dog 6, this is Hound 6." His radio clicked. He stayed frozen, not wanting to move in the event the figure came back, but relented and responded.
"I saw it via camera too, we do not know who this lone operator is."
"Hound 6, he just disappeared before my eyes."
"Affirmative, he appears to be using some form of quantum camouflage."
"General, you're going to have to speak grunt to me, quantum camouflage?"
"Quantum camouflage has been a secret project recently in the field testing stage, especially in and around the Pate Facility. Quantum camouflage focuses on bending light waves instead of using a pattern to distort the wearer's body."
"It's optical camouflage?"
"No, optical camouflage implies an optical reflection is being produced, what you saw was a bending of shadows and light waves to distort the figure. Regardless, Captain, assume the individual is hostile. Hound 6 out."
Clark moved forward and took a knee next to the dead body with the mass of pooling blood. The throat had been completely cut out, the tongue exposed through the massive slit. Clark looked back over his shoulder, nothing was there, at least nothing he could see.
"Fuck it." Clark switched his radio over to speak to Doc.
"Doc, it's me."
"I need you to shed some light on something." He paused. "I just saw a disappearing soldier."
There was a long pause. Doc didn't respond.
"I heard, c-c-can you ex-explain more?"
"He looked almost like he was wearing a suit, but it was too tight around the arms, like it was his very skin. Armored. His face was blank, with some, lights."
"A b-blank w-white face?"
"Yeah." He nodded, he didn't think he was too crazy with Doc's confirmation.
"Umm, hmmm, i-it sounds like..." Doc let go of the transmit button.
"Doc? Doc it sounds like what?"
"Well, ugh, b-before I worked here, my work was d-done at Langley, Virginia. The work w-wasn't terribly d-different but a focus on r-robotics took precedence." Doc put a break in the traffic. "I-it was the predecessor to the 2040 Program. W-we took a-an old V-vietnam veteran, a former CIA a-agent who had lost his a-arms and legs to d-do our work. We rebuilt him with very advanced technology, t-things that a-aren't stable. L-last I knew though, h-he wasn't anywhere near field t-test ready."
"Yeah, well I just saw him. Why didn't you continue the work?"
"W-well technically I did, j-just here. T-the project on agent Coppola was consumed by the CIA, a-and I c-came to the Wolf Unit. C-Coppola w-wasn't even able to walk without s-support last I saw him! A-and the light b-bending tech was decades a-away."
"He's also carrying a weapon I've never seen before. Boxy looking, short, but not like the weapon the soldiers here carry."
"Hmmm, was there anything e-else?"
"Well, not much, I think he's the one who shot up those soldiers in the stairwell. I picked up a shell casing. It was marked FN."
"Ugh, it-it sounds like t-the XP90. I-I can't be sure without seeing it, b-but it's only an experimental weapon c-created to satisfy NATO for a p-personal defense weapon. Great armor piercing capabilities f-for such a s-small weapon. I-it is s-suppose to be in p-production by 1990."
"When did you last see him, the agent I mean?"
"T-this was a-all four years ago."
"Alright, I'll talk to you if I see anything else."
Clark let the information sink in. He thought it was odd how the general could spew off information like a machine. But there was sobering honesty with what Doc told him. He considered telling the General that the man was CIA, but he wasn't really sure of that. Doc hadn't seen the man in four years, there was no saying it was the same man, let alone sent here by the CIA. He would need more accurate information before trying to send a report back, if he really wanted to send one at all.
Clark moved on, but there was a tingling along Clark's neck. A similar feeling he had in an operation in South America. They had been sent in to eliminate communist cells that were operating in border regions of Ecuador. Which, was a half truth, unbeknownst to them at the time, they were also eliminating political threats to one of the local generals. The CIA had been pulling their strings along, getting what they wanted without ever having to do any dirty work themselves. The entire operation stunk from the beginning. But they were good soldiers, God, Country, and Duty. They did the mission, and they didn't complain when they were finally let in on the loop.
Yeah that tingling feeling.
Clark found himself in another bay. The floor was made up of individual grated panels. Some places he could see through to the bottom, others he could see were solid, made to support extreme weight. There were several unusual looking vehicles, unusual, hell, nothing looked like this. Rows of them existed. The ones he was closest to looked like what would happen if a kid had taken a dune-buggy and strapped legs to it. It was a single seat, like a motorcycle with similar looking controls, and two dog legged stubby legs instead of wheels. None of them looked operational, the last few were covered in tarps. The row on the right were much bigger, tank like vehicles, but they were all draped in tarps, which he was appreciative of. Their masked outlines made them look like they would be giant spiders. He didn't want to know what a giant machine spider looked like.
Down along the row of shorter vehicles on his left there were more soldiers with a rolling loader. They were taking one of the short vehicles and loading it onto the gurney. Two others walked along the rows, patrolling along the large spider like tanks. Even here, inside they are paranoid and on alert.
"Hound 6, this is Dog 6."
"Send your traffic." Instant response, what is he doing, just waiting right next to the radio?
"I'm in a vehicle hanger in B1. It looks like our friends are moving the vehicles out, likely stealing them."
"This is troubling. Captain, your mission remains the same; however, if you are able, we must stop the transportation of those vehicles into enemy hands."
"Understood." Clark couldn't get into a firefight. He was greatly out gunned, five to one, and he wasn't sure if there were others. He couldn't do anything about it in the immediate time. An opportunity would come, but he didn't know how or when.
Until then, he would need to figure out a way to move, he couldn't with them loading up vehicles and a roving patrol on foot. He looked down at the grated panel floor. There had to be a way.
Juan took four of the soldiers with him along B2's main corridor. He and Zane agreed, there was either multiple insiders working against them, or a team had infiltrated the facility. Personally, Juan believed it was a combination. The damage discovered by the patrols outside indicated someone had come through the fence, but the internal sabotage was something someone inside had done. I will find them and feed on their decaying flesh.
A long tongue, warped with boils slithered up between his reptilian lips and licked where his human nose had been.
That left him with the objective to secure the water bay next to the rail-gun. There were two main routes. The equipment tunnel, and the maintenance bay. The offices and vents provided other means to access the area, which were easier to contend with. There weren't many of Zane's men, and they were being used for ever task as only a handful of SoA forces had arrived. Given his options, he would do as he had experienced before, in another life, he'd blow the equipment tunnel. That would limit what vehicles Zane could capture from B1, but he was told that was secondary as they had achieved their primary objective. The offices and the vents, he would put the soldiers dedicated to defending the area along routes where the vents could accessed by a man, and the offices secured and patrolled. That left only the maintenance bay. The bay, was a long tunnel, there was a sport path that was large enough for men and medium sized equipment to be moved along. All the steam pipes, air-shafts, and gauges that had nothing to do with the actual working converged here for easy access. It was also left open to treated heated water used to create heavy water for other operations here. That's where he'd place his ambush. Channelize their guest into heading one way.
Then there was the final problem Zane brought to him. The scientists and researchers who absolutely refused to cooperate with Zane. Zane Lumbard had extensive experience, so even to the predatory urges of Juan himself, it was surprising that some still held out, even when Zane had to be more, persuasive, than he was to others. Only a dozen remained. The others, either out of fear or persuasion submitted and had already departed the Pate Facility. Juan would have to deal with the more reluctant ones. He could just feast on them, it's been far, far too long. But that would take long, and be time consuming. And even being glutenous he couldn't do it it to all of them.
The captives would be coming along any moment, he knew how he'd handle them. Save what little resources they had. He watched as the soldiers finished the last of the explosives along the tunnel. As they backed out the captive scientists and researchers came down with their armed escorts. Many of them were soiled, beaten, bloodied, bruised. Some limped, their clothes hanging on them in tatters. Good, Zane showed no mercy. He had feared Zane had gone soft, or kept some silly ideals of right and wrong. You couldn't change if you held onto anything of your old self. There was no place for such ideals in their new world. The men recoiled at the sight of him. Others gritted their teeth, recognizing him and remembering. He remembered too, he remembered them!
"Line them along the wall." The soldiers had the captives kneel along the wall, still restrained, looking at the wall. They shook, expecting the inevitable firing to begin. But instead, Juan and the soldiers left them there, on their knees.
The was a long pause. The researchers and scientists began to fidget. Looking left and right. No sign of guards. Their swollen and bruise eyes looked to one another. An opportunity to run. That was the last fleeting thought before they became like tissue paper, the explosion came.
Clark had picked up one of the grated panels and crawled underneath it. It wouldn't help him if he was seen through in the areas where the panel was grated and could bee easily seen through, but it would allow him to cross the way faster and without having to be seen upright. The depth was greater than he had thought, there was almost enough room for him to crouch and move, but doing so with his rifle and kit in a duck walk made it too slow. He moved quickly in a high crawl.
Like a sledge hammer beating concrete it came. He felt the ground tremble. Jesus Christ, what the fuck was that? He stopped his movement. He didn't hear panic or confusion from the soldiers above.
His radio clicked.
"Dog 6, report."
"I don't know what that was."
"Satellite image images show a piece of the field above just caved in. Looks like they blew something with charges."
"Could you see anything with the camera system?"
"Most of the surveillance systems on B2 are down, several prisoners were seen being moved into B2, but we do not know what caused the explosion."
"Understood, I will report any findings."
"Roger, be careful. Hound 6 out." Clark twisted the knob on his radio and switched channels.
"Doc, you hear me?"
"Hey C-Captain. What was that?"
"I was going to ask you the same."
"It wasn't you?"
"No, I was hoping you could see something on your monitors."
"I s-saw them take a f-few of the researchers to B2, b-but couldn't s-see what happened."
"How many went down?"
"About a t-t-twelve. They looked like they were in b-bad shape."
"Hmm, alright, I'll call back if there's anything else."
Clark had crawled along the tight corridors to the point where all that faced him was a solid wall of concrete. He couldn't go any further and was being forced to take his chances back up top. Though he knew this was the length of the bay, he also knew the soldiers were still around, working, and patrolling. He squatted, he couldn't see much, but he didn't hear anyone near by. He put his hands up and began lifting the panel above him.
"Contact!" He heard a masked voice call out. His heart sank. His blood ran cold. This was it, this is how I die, pushing a fucking panel off my head.
A burst came out, like an electric saw in the air. Nothing cut through his skin. He pushed up and the panel came off. The air was alive with rounds whizzing back and forth. Clark scoot on his butt against one of the massive legs to the spider tanks. They weren't shooting at him. The loud chemical pops of a firearm bounced off the walls. Clark looked around the corner. At the far end he could see the mannequin man, using a steel crate as cover as he fired long bursts from his weapon at multiple targets advancing in on him.
Clark took the opportunity, he edged around the corner. Breath out, squeeze, squeeze. A controlled pair. One of he soldiers dropped, his partner mechanically turned and fired. Clark retreated to cover. The burst tore into the machine's leg. A white gel oozed out. He was up, moving to another vantage point.
Two soldiers down, he'd seen one go down as a result of the fire being laid down from the mannequin man.
Clark rounded another corner searching for targets, he saw a blur at the far end of the room. The mannequin man moved at such a blinding speed. The soldiers tried to gain a sight on him. Clark tried his hardest to track the man as well. He went straight for a corner, his feet moving so fast, he didn't even realize where the man had gone until he was up in the air. He had kicked off the corner and launched himself at such a speed, it was his gun fire that gave away his new location. The soldiers had sprayed the air with bullets trying to hit the flying target. The man was now on Clark's side of the bay.
Another soldier down. Clark fired another pair. Missing. A burst came in respond. He saw the man rotate his sights on him. Shit, shit, shit! Clark couldn't shift his sights fast enough, but the man didn't fire. He breathed. A burst came, the man fluttered back, rounds had caught him the chest but he recovered and fired back.
Clark moved sideways, heel to heel, moving parallel on the targets. The first soldier came into his sight picture. He fired another controlled pair. The soldier flinched, and turned on him. Clark fired another pair without hesitation. The soldier sank to his knees, and struggled to stand again. Jesus. Clark fired twice more, and the soldier finally fell back. The man crouched, and like a grasshopper, leaped, finishing several meters from where he had jumped. The tracking lone soldier continued to fight, undaunted by the situation. His rifle buzzing in the air. Another burst, the man stuttered back but fired a long steady stream back at the soldier. There was silence as the last soldier fell.
Clark swept the area with his rifle as he advanced forward. The man was moving already, stumbling, but Clark had to clear the area of possible threats. He still wasn't sure what the man would do if confronted. He noticed the man moved with his back to Clark, not rigid and confident, slumped, and wildly, not stumbling, but twitching. He moved to where the bay turned. Clark didn't call out, he followed with distance between them, losing him on the corner but not wanting to move quickly and make a mistake. Clark turned the corner. The man was heading through a door. He was pulling himself away from the wall that he had collided with. Clark moved, cautious, his rifle at the low ready.
The man fell and slumped on the ground. Clark didn't hurry his steps, still too unsure of the man's intent. The wall that the man had ran into a moment ago dripped with what looked like old milk, the liquid strung along the wall the entire length where the man had smeared it.
The man had rotated to a sitting position, his back to the wall for support, facing Clark. Clark steadied himself on the man as the man's arm raised his weapon. Clark sighted on the man, his finger nearly engaging the trigger. But the man didn't aim directly at Clark. The man's arm twitched in the air, not in a human fashion, but as if a machine was trying to engage a movement and a gear kept slipping. The arm hovering, clicking back and forth.
The glowing 'Y' shape looked up at Clark on the otherwise featureless face. Clark suddenly realized he didn't know what to do now. How to engage with conversation, if he even could engage with conversation with... that.
"I thought you all had died." A heavy voice came as if it were speaking through a plastic cup. Clark didn't know how to respond. The Y shape split open, like flaps of a wrapper coming undone, the stone cut face made him think of Robocop. "I saw your helicopters go down." Clark realized the white liquid was pooling on the floor. The man's arms poured the white substance out, but two round had pierced the breast area, the black armor seeped out red, like a normal person.
"Who are you? Who sent you?"
"My name is Lee Coppola. I was sent here by the Agency."
"Why wasn't the Agency working with us?" Lee smiled, a devilish smile, a smile like he knew someone was onto his game.
"You're behind on a lot of information. Who are you?" Clark didn't see any harm sharing the information. He looked around the corners, he didn't see any cameras spying on him.
"Captain Clark Duncan." The man tried to nod, but his neck was stiffening unnaturally.
"Well Clark, our government is going through some very radical changes."
"What do you mean?" The man ignored him.
"The terrorist group here isn't your average run of the mil radicals. I was sent here specifically to ensure the assassination of a key member with a team." He tried to readjusted but it was as if the man only had control of his core, and his limbs were suddenly just useless "We watched your team get attacked as we were observing on the other side of the facility." The milky substance had stopped flowing, the limbs became stiff, only the core of the man moved now. "There is a man here, you need to know about Clark, if you're going to do anything, you need to know about him."
"You're not making any sense." Clark assumed the man was going into shock. He knelt down next to him. The man looked at him from the the corner of his eyes, seemingly unable to turn his head.
"You need to do it, the man goes by the title, The Regret, his real name is Hector Kojima. He's a traitor Clark, to the agency."
"Why didn't the military know about this? Why..." Lee cut him off.
"He's not just any agent Clark, he will mess with your mind, change the way you see things. Don't fall for it Clark, you need to kill him."
"I'm not going to listen to anything he says, now...." Lee's face became still, not as a dead man would, but as a machine that just stopped working, like the battery died in the middle of the usage. Clark backed up, the chest wounds poured out blood like an oil leak.
Clark stood up and looked down at the body. The limbs stiff and rigid, the right arm still up in the air holding the rifle. Do cyborgs dream?
He switched his radio over, and keyed up to Joseph.
"Doc, you read me?"
"Agent Coppola is dead. He's pouring out blood and some, milky substance everywhere."
"Oh..." Joseph kept the radio keyed down while he regathered himself. "His enhancements can't repair his human core, that's why his body was plated with armor. His limbs were c-cybernetic, somewhat s-s-self healing, basically a powered exoskeleton in place of where his limbs use to be." Clark let Joseph ramble, he couldn't interrupt anyways over the radio. "I-I c-can't believe h-he's d-d-dead." Joseph let off on the radio.
"Listen Doc, he told me some stuff before he went. I don't know how much was real, he could have been going into shock. He said something about a traitor to the agency working with SoA, a man named Hector Kojima." There was an unnaturally long pause over the radio.
"Captain, I think I need to start being more honest with you." There it was again, Doc's stutter disappearing.
"I think so too." He didn't know what he was getting into with the comment.
- Writer, soldier, thinker, and science fiction lover. I just can't seem to find a way to divide my adventurous self of constant outdoor activity and exercise from my nerdy self playing games and going to conventions. So why not just be both?
I am a young professional living out of Tallahassee, Florida for the past five years. I have been on a deployment with the United States Army and continue to work outside of my other occupations to better myself mentally and physically. My passion for writing is driven by my passion for everything I find entertaining in life, and of course by my friends and family.