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RPG Black Horizon IV: End of Days [M-VSL]


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[size=1][b]Black Horizon IV: End of Days[/b]
[list]Corey Roos ([i]Corey- Command[/i])
John MacLaoidhigh ([i]Gavin- Extra Sensory Perception[/i])
Michael Sumerkalis ([i]The Boss- Infiltration[/i])
Cutler Hawkins ([i]Dragon Warrior- Demolitions[/i])
Sunny Park ([i]Cyriel- Medic[/i])
Phil Alexander ([i]Blayze- Reconnaissance[/i])
Tyler Jacobs ([i]Revelation- Hardware Hacking[/i])
Latrice Williamson ([i]Hinata- Bioware Hacking[/i])[/list]

[b]Chapter One: (0730 Hours)[/b] A Grand Entrance
[size=1][i]Objectives:[/i] Recount entering the compound, and continue from there.

The sky almost seemed to darken as the group walked toward the perimeter. Bolts of electricity jumped from rod to rod as excess energy was purged from the Phase Cannons. The air had the coppery taste of ionization. A chill crept its way up Corey's spine, but it never showed on his face. He looked as calm and composed as ever, though underneath he was churning. Five miles to the center. It would take them ten hours, minimum.

Fifty feet in front of him was a rather tall man with a swatch of greasy grey hair. He was carrying a black briefcase and wore a suit of black silk. The cufflinks he wore were white gold, as was the cross he wore on his neck. His spectacles flashed in the unusually diminished light. He held out a hand to Corey as he got close.

[b]Latigo-[/b] "It's good to meet you face to face, Mr. Roos. I trust you've been given everything you and your team have asked for?" Corey looked him up and down. Here was a man that had never done an honest days work in his life, and in doing so may have brought about the end of the world.

[b]Corey-[/b] "They aren't my team. They are fellow mercenaries under your pay, as I am. We will work as a team only because it's going to be the simplest way to survive. If we fight each other, we die. Simple as that." Latigo continued to smile, but he saw a ghost of anger spark behind his eyes. "Your people were very accommodating. We have everything we wanted."

[b]Latigo-[/b] "Good." He fell silent.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Yes, 'good'. Now, if you have nothing more to say than that, please allow us to begin our job." Again his eyes flashed anger. He cleared his throat.

[b]Latigo-[/b] "I actually wanted a word with you privately, Mr. Roos." Corey spread his arms wide.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Whatever you need to say, you can say it in front of..." He paused and smiled sadistically. "...of my team." A few mercenaries chuckled at this. Color crept up Latigos neck. He straightened his tie and smoothed out invisible wrinkles in his suit coat.

[b]Latigo-[/b] "Fine. Do your job." He walked around them and into a makeshift bunker. Corey registered an increase in the hum that the Phase Cannons put off.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Visors down! Switch to Nav Com HUD!" He flipped his visor down and pressed the button on the side of it. Immediately there were numbers flashing in front of his eyes. Air temperature. The distance to whatever he focused on. Radiation readings. Thermal imaging. Everything you could possibly need. The humming rose another notch. He pulled his Automatic Rifle from his side and thumbed off the safety. "Be ready for anything!" There was a blinding flash of deep blue light, and suddenly the air in front of them looked as though it were on fire. Save for an opening five feet across.

Corey bolted toward it, barely registering the drop in air temperature. The next minute, they were all inside. The opening sealed itself seconds after they got in. He held up his hand in a closed fist. Everyone stopped. He flipped open his visor and looked around. The air seemed to be filled with a kind of thin, black fog. He waved his hand in front of him and watched it swirl around. High above he could see the sun, but it seemed dim, and looking straight at it did not hurt his eyes. Already he had the feeling of being watched.

[b]Corey-[/b] "John." The man was at his side in a heartbeat. "What do you get?" The group stood in silence.

[b]John-[/b] "Malice." Corey nodded. It looked like a city. There were towering apartment complexes in this area. Cars littered the streets, almost as if they had been abandoned. Down a little ways he could see a restaurant and a coffee shop. It was eerie seeing a place that would normally house so many people reduced to something as desolate as a graveyard.

[b]Corey-[/b] "But even graveyards get visitors," he whispered.

[b]John-[/b] "Sir?" Corey shook his head, trying to focus it for the ordeal ahead.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Don't call me that. Phil, get me long range intel on this street and all surrounding buildings double pace. We will meet up at that diner," he marked it with a nav-point in his HUD and transmitted it to everyone else, "in ten minutes. Move."[/size]
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[COLOR=Purple]Sitting back as she heard Corey and that other guy speak. She only decided to keep her mouth shut. She had to be ready for whatever they found and was pissed that this is the reason she had come along. She could have been at home with her child. That boundless ball of energy that had somehow slowly become reattached to Latrice.

She sighed a deep breath as she remembered the face of her child and also the disapproving face of her mother. Now Sylvia was a different story. She stormed after Latrice learning that she would once again be pulled away from the, and most of all be left with the burden of bearing with Tay, her granddaughter. Latrice knew inside that Sylvia didn't mind but she had to complain about it. The only thing she could do to get away from the screams of her mother were grab Tay and take a drive to the beach.

[I]The warm sun beat down on their faces and Tay ran in the water, running away from the waves and running back to pounce Latrice in the sands. Latrice smiled as she remembered that day and also the question that escaped Tay's mouth as she lay on top of her mom.

"Are you going away again to protect me and Grandma?" Tay's innocence also spoke of experience. Knowing full well that the jobs that Latrice ran often involved some shady people.

"This time Tay," she was honest with the girl. "I'm not 100% sure what is happening will effect you, but I know it will help a bunch of other people who need it. That's something I try hard at doing everyday."

"Will it be dangerous?" The little girl's big brown eyes stared directly into her mom's face.

Latrice smiled at her baby but could not lie to the child, Tay was far to smart to accept it. "That it may be, and so I am going with people who will also help to protect me too. But remember I was a soldier of this country."

"Yeah I remember Grandma telling me about you going off to other places and she said that you had a gun too."

Latrice laughed as her kid said the last of the her face brightening. The kid always bragged about her mom having fired guns and she even had her old military pictures to show off to her friends.

"Yes I had a gun. And I will have a gun again as well as other people to help me if things should get really dangerous."

The child was left content with that last line and the two of them continued to enjoy their afternoon. Latrice could only smile and hold back tears as she tried not to picture what her kid was doing.[/I]

Her thoughts were cleared though as Roos, the command in this operation called out an order to the rest of them. Her thoughts rushing back to the present and focusing on what was at hand. She put her Nav Com visor down and saw the numbers flash in her eye.

[B]"Be ready for anything."[/B] He again called out and she got her weapon in hand. Her heart beat thumping wildly in her chest.

He jumped out first and she, along with the rest of the group, followed quickly. She focused on getting through the make shift entrance that burned at the edge,s her gun in both hands and her equipment jostling about her body. Roos had stopped immediately and held a closed fist up. She stopped and looked briefly behind her seeing that the entrance had closed behind them.

[I] DAMMMMMNNNN![/I] Was all she could think before turning back to him and awaiting the next command. Her gun was still in both hands but held to her side. Her heart slowing down as she inspected the surroundings. But the fog in her face clouding her vision some. She only wondered what had caused all this.

At first she thought of the radiation that had been said to be coming from a certain area but when scanning the surrounding area it seemed to be diminished with the exception at the core of the city. She also began to wonder if it may have also affect the bioware. The key units that she was assigned to work on. She felt right away that this wasn't going to be as easy as she hoped.

In her ear she heard Roos' voice once again call out as he and another guy spoke quickly. She remembered his last command clearly as she moved with a few other members of the team, toward the diner. [/COLOR]
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[font=Verdana][size=1]The journey into the compound was long and somewhat uneventful. Phil shoved a stick of chewing gum between his teeth as Commander Roos had an exchange of words with Latigo. He didn't need ESP like John to tell that the entire team was nervous, more so than they had really ever been. He chewed, trying to focus on the task at hand. He didn't need any distractions if he was supposed to do his job properly.

Soon enough the team moved forward, fully submerging themselves into the compound. Phil took a deep breath of the air, and tasted a strange mixture of chemicals. He knew oxygen was there, as well as the requisite amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and the rest of the chemicals that should have been there. But he could have sworn that he also tasted...sulfur...

[/size][/font][size=1][b]"Phil, get me long range intel on this street and all surrounding buildings double pace. We will meet up at that diner in ten minutes. Move,"[/b] said the commander. The team split.[/size]
Phil slid his visor into place, registering the readings it was throwing off. He made sure that the safety was off both on his automatic rifle and his handgun, and ran halfway down the street. His footsteps echoed as they shouldn't within a normally-populated area, and his feet crunched on some strange kind of gravel underfoot.

He looked around, and opened comm with Roos.

[b]"Commander," [/b]he said, [b]"I'm counting twenty-five buildings, thirteen on the left, twelve on the right. About two-thirds of them are over 20 storeys. Most likely housing, accomodation. Heat sensors and infra-red are giving no signs that anyone is around. It looks like we're all alone in here. There's this strange kind of aura about the place, though. You see this black fog we're surrounded by? I'm not getting any readings on any of my chemical sensors. Apparently whatever it is...doesn't exist."

"It's not that it doesn't exist, Phil," [/b]replied the commander, [b]"It's that our sensors have never come into contact with it before. This is an entirely new chemical compound."

"Well, whatever it is, I'm not getting any readings that it could be harmful. I guess it's a good thing, otherwise we'd all be dead!" [/b]he said with a nervous laugh, the speed of his chewing increasing.

[b]"Calm down, Phil. We're barely five minutes into this mission. Don't lose it just yet."

"Sorry, commander. I've just...never had to save the world before. It's a new experience for me," [/b]he said, shaking his head.

[i]Get back into the zone, Phil, [/i]he told himself, [i]Come on, just keep cool.

[/i][b]"Uh, the buildings that are under twenty storeys are most likely basic facilities, hospital, convenience stores, a gymnasium, the kind of thing every human being needs to survive."

"Good work, Phil. Meet us at the diner ASAP. Roos out."

[/b]Phil disconnected his comm and sighed. This wasn't as stressful as he had though, so far at least. He had done much harder things back in the world of general mercenary work.

But he had a feeling that things were going to become much, much harder...
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[SIZE=1]Sigma wasn't comfortable, that was to put it mildly. This city just didn't feel right, malice was common in places on Earth, but not this strong nor on it's own, there was nothing here he could sense that was generating the emotion, this was a dead space. He'd heard other psychers theorise dead space, a biological void that retained it?s last great emotional surge, locations of genocide were supposed to generate these phenomena but John had never actually experienced it before.

?[b]Just my luck to be the only esper in this whole fucking group.[/b]? He sighed out in frustration. ?[b]Sometimes, just sometimes I wish I didn?t let my greed get the better of my intelligence.[/b]?

This place was a graveyard, there was no doubt about it and despite all his training, Sigma couldn?t help but feel intimidated. This place just didn?t feel right, it wasn?t just the essence of malice in the air, plenty of cities generated their own auras, one of the major reasons espers never stayed in the same place for too long was that it could have a negative effect. If that happened, then the only option was psychokinetic purification and that was something no esper ever wanted to have to go through.

The buildings around him were mostly residential, skyscrapers measuring above thirty or so storeys, hundreds of people packed together like cattle in a crush. John hated being confined, another typical psycher tendency; in many way it had been argued that psychers were a complete subspecies to humans, but for many the idea of being separated from humans brought back unpleasant memories of childhood. The manifestation of psychic powers among children was enough to drive some into depression and suicide, some radical elements of society continued to fight against what they called the ?psycher threat?.

God damn it, why did they have to go and split up to search this God forsaken place, sure it was empty, sure there wasn?t a soul for kilometres, but this place still didn?t feel right. He respect the commander, but this wasn?t a sound tactical move from the point of view of moral, scaring the shit out of the troops beneath you was a very good way to cause descent in the ranks. He wasn?t far from the rendezvous point, and the his search was almost complete, another minute and he?d meet back up with the rest of the team, and that couldn?t come soon enough.


Sorry for the lateness, I?ve just not been able to write anything lately.[/SIZE]
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[size=1]Cutler Hawkins wasn't as worried or stressed as most, mainly because the whole atmosphere played out like one of his old Hollywood flicks. He recalled a film where he fought aliens in an abandoned space station. He felt right back at home. He was yet to feel this whole situation grow real. It was all like he'd wind right back up in his trailer after the day's reel and he'd be dining with the director and a couple of fine ladies later that evening. Still, he'd been in enough movies and real-life situations as a mercenary to understand the parallels of reality and fictional writing.

To Cutler, the ground felt mushy, almost as if his whole boot would be sucked into it like a giant leech's gaping hole of a mouth. He saw one of the other crew members look his way, so he shot back one his movie star smirks. The response wasn't what he expected. The aura of everything was an uncanny and depressing atmosphere and everyone seemed to be catching it like a bad cold. Cutler gripped a large gun in his right hand, growing bored with nothing occurring. He too was glancing about for something to happen, but nothing ever did.

He chuckled into his helmet and turned to a fellow mercenary. "Waitin' for the ole Boogie Man to come runnin' out screaming, eh?" No response again, so he just carried on his way. He always liked to play the hero, so he had made his way to the front of the group along near Corey. Unlike the rest, he often wasn't paying attention much to his surroundings, like the mission wasn't that big of a deal. He still kept a watchful eye out for anything suspicious, but mainly he just let the others do the work. Naturally he didn't allow this to show. Still, he'd occassionally be caught fiddling with his gun.

Cutler resorted to being by a man's side named Michael Sumerkalis. Michael was the infiltration specialist and the two had spoken when they first arrived for the job a short time ago. Out of all the people there, Cutler felt the most close to Michael in the means of things in common. Not to mention, Michael also felt at ease in the ominous and eerie semblance. The two stuck by each other, both holding their guns at ready. "I've never seen anything like this," Michael said to Cutler as they traversed onward toward the selected destination.

"Yes, pretty remarkable, I'd say," replied Cutler. "But it'd be even better if something would happen."

"You want to be ambushed?"

"What're you so worried about?" Cutler said. "You can just use some of your chop suey on them." He made a chopping motion with his arm to illustrate his statement. Mike shook his head.

"You don't know a lot of martial arts, do you?"

"Sorry, man. I just like it when things go boom."

Mike shook his head yet again and smiled. "I'm glad you're on our side," he said sarcastically.[/size]
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[COLOR=DarkSlateGray][SIZE=1][b]Absence[/b] was the first word that entered her mind. Upon entrance of the compound, she wasn?t taken by surprise at her surroundings. She had seen enough of emptiness and solitude to feel comfortable in such a barren environment. She only wished that she didn?t feel as at ease here as she did, as if she could actually belong. Or perhaps ?belong? was the wrong word?perhaps ?owned? would be more fitting. The only things that seemed out of place were themselves, this team of eight living beings that had presumed to enter with the confidence that they would be allowed to leave just as easily.

Her visor had even more readings showing than the other members of the team ? vital signs of each person focused on were constantly changing in a bewildering array of numbers and meters, but Sunny?s eyes ran them over with methodical ease and familiarity. At the same time she took in the vast expanse of ground that lay inside the compound, as well as the buildings that they were nearing, all completely devoid of seemingly even the memory of any past inhabitance. It reminded her of watching [i]Batman[/i] on Saturday mornings with her younger brothers, waiting for the Dark Knight to save Gotham City yet again from the evil plots of assorted villains. Yet even Batman had a past, and his initial motive had been?revenge, hadn?t it?

[i]I can?t believe that I?m comparing us all to Batman?flawed, shadowed, pained heroes, if we really are here to save the world[/i], she thought, listening to the pop of Phil Alexander?s gum as he spoke.

She listened silently to the short flow of words passing between members of the team, trying to assign voices to names and faces. They were all strangers to her, although that wasn?t much of a change. It had been a while, though, since she had worked as part of a unit, and already she felt herself caught between her conflicting emotions. Mercenaries, despite usually being solo artists, also shared a certain kind of camaraderie that Sunny couldn?t help but crave ? humans were social creatures, after all. On the other hand, she knew from her years of experience that should one of them be injured, she would have to be able to detach herself in order to work efficiently. It had always been a balancing act: to have enough compassion to want to heal, and yet to keep that feeling as minimal as possible to maximize her patients? survival rate?and to minimize her own pain.

Sunny took that moment to turn her attention to her surroundings again. Thinking too much never led to anything useful; it was much easier to take action instead, to let practice, reflex, and instinct take control. So she looked around again as she kept a steady pace, hands feeling the secure weight of her weapon, and being aware of the movements of the others. Wisps and tendrils of the black fog curled around her helmet and visor. For a moment she held her breath, but then breathed, and found that it had no detectable substance at all. But she knew what it was, although it had taken her long enough to recognize it. These familiar black vapors had embraced her once before, on a night when she thought that death had finally come to claim her. She had even welcomed it, the black fog that had hugged her into itself when she had finally fallen away from consciousness and life, from the pounding hands and feet and knives? And then it had receded, and she had found herself still breathing. But there was no doubt that death had staked its claim on her; and walking now, through the similar black vapors, Sunny came to the steady realization that she was marked. Unconsciously, she brushed the small silver cross hanging from her left ear.

The short exchange between Hawkins and Sumerkalis brought Sunny back from her thoughts, and she adjusted her visor, noting her distance from the diner. [i]No more now ? pay attention[/i], she told herself. [i]But if I?m marked?[/i] Assuming that the people who had been here were dead, shouldn?t there be some sort of sign?or blood? But she hadn?t seen signs of struggle yet, and no telling trail of crimson. There had been no sign of anything, really, except for the fog, and the completely hollow feeling of the place. Where had everyone gone? What kind of thing had the ability to bring about this kind of situation?

"[b]Riddle me this, Batman?[/b]" she whispered to herself.[/SIZE][/COLOR]
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The environment surrounding Michael and his team seemed eerie and moody. The buildings and facilities around them in a strange modern version of the old ghost towns from way back. While Mike was ready to admit the place was unsettling, he had a difficult time understanding the fear of his more ?cautious? team mates. He found a closer companion in Cutler, who had a more relaxed, or at least bouncy, attitude about the situation. While Mike was by no means afraid, he was still on guard, as he always was. Even when it seemed as if he was relaxed, he was prepared to strike out and defend himself and his team at any moment. So one is taught in becoming a martial artist and espionage agent. His right hand rested on his pistol holster, while his left sat atop his long field knife, a weapon which he always preferred to guns.

Mike and Cutler continued walking side by side, and continued their conversation.

Mike leaned over slightly and spoke. [b] ?So... what is it exactly we?re being so scared of??[/b]

Cutler laughed in a sincere way and replied. [b] ?Your guess is as good as mine, grasshopper. I?m not completely sure why everyone?s so jumpy myself... suppose we should ask??[/b]

[b] ?I like to be surprised.?[/b] Mike said sarcastically, gesturing with his hands the same way Cutler had earlier. [b] ?Because I?m a totally Honk Kong Fooey.?[/b] He and Cutler shared a good laugh. Suddenly, Commander Roos raised his hand backwards signifying a halt. The two stood back and watched as he and his recon specialist, Phil, scanned the area cautiously, their rifle?s following their line of site slowly.

[b] ?Ya think we found something to kill??[/b] Cutler whispered to Mike with a mock excitement.

[b] ?That would be better than shitting our pants about what?s not there.?[/b] Mike spoke with a slight disdain. He had learned long ago not to be afraid of what?s not seen, because there was always something in front of your eyes that should matter more. He had wished his squad would share this mentality, but he couldn?t blame them for being cautious.

Roos lowered his fist and signaled to follow along. Cutler gave out a deep sigh and Mike chuckled at him. It would seem he had found a temporary companion for the time being....


[b]OOC:[/b] I apologize for my slow ass respond time. I?ve been pretty busy as of late. I?m sorry.[/color][/size]
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[size=1][color=#1874CD]The sounds, the buildings, and the still thickness in the air were all but a bit too much for the likings of Tyler; however, as much as he depreciated the intense atmosphere he always had an urge to venture out. Something felt terribly comfortable for Tyler, something so abnormal that it couldn?t be helped but to think it was normal. He looked around for vital signs, movement around the buildings, anything that would suggest something. Everyone had gone their separate ways and was to meet back at the diner in ten minutes.

It never occurred to Tyler whether to infer about being on the mission; somehow, he had begun to wonder the questions: What was he called for? Why is he here? What?s the reason? And will they return safe and sound? The thoughts began to grow in size and in anxiety, making Tyler become consumed by these never-ending questions until a hand came upon his shoulder and a voice came into his com.

[B]?Hey,?[/B] Tyler turned his head to find Phil Alexander. [B]?How are you holding up??[/B] Tyler hesitated, trying to find the right words but he could only shrug. Phil chuckled a bit and patted him on the shoulder before introducing himself. [B]?Haven?t properly introduced myself, the name?s Phil, Phil Alexander. I?m the??

?Reconnaissance. I?ve always wanted to be one of those??[/B] Tyler looked forward as he said this before turning back to Phil saying, [B]?but that was a long time ago. I?m Tyler Jacobs, by the way.?[/B]

The two shook hands before conversing with each other and getting to know what each others? jobs were specifically. Tyler hadn?t realized he would?ve been able to socialize with people on the mission but his encounter with Phil suggested otherwise. Soon enough, the two had gotten to laugh with each other and forgotten the worries and chilling aura that had caused them to tense up. It had been the first time Tyler had actually felt like he belonged since a long time and it felt good; Tyler was able to tell Phil stories of how he had gotten into the school system and rearranged the school?s times, making everything screwy and about the time he had created a virus and sent it to random areas.

There was never a time he had laughed and exchanged life stories more than that moment. He had slowly forgotten the questions, slowly put away his anxiety, and only stayed in the now, trying to keep up with another person who was determined to do what he came here to do.

[B]OOC:[/B] Sorry about the late post, Corey. Hope it's up to par.[/size][/color]
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[b]Chapter Two: (0745 Hours)[/b] Comparable Offers

[size=1]Sulfur... The diner smelled of sulfur. He'd gotten there first. John second, and the rest to follow. Corey had pulled a computer out of his pack. He sat at a booth scanning the sensor reading more in depth. The rest of the team had taken up residence at the bar or watching nervously out of the windows. Phil walked in. Corey held open his hand. Phil slid a memory card out of his helmet and handed it to him.

The team had already been provided with a map, but sometimes things were different. Terrain changed. A new building was constructed and left out of the update. It would be a bad thing if they were ambushed, had to fall back, then discovered their escape route was blocked by a fast food joint. He fed Phil's readings into the computer and watched as the current map was altered to fit his data.

[b]Tyler-[/b] "Commander?" He looked over at the hacker.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Yeah, Tyler?"

[b]Tyler-[/b] "The map... It's not accurate." He smiled. At least someone else caught on fast.

[b]Corey-[/b] "No. It's not. I don't know why. But so far, I've spotted three irregularities." He pointed across the street to a building with large glass windows. "That building is supposed to be a residential complex. I've never seen people live in a place with so many cubicles and florescent lights." He looked back down at the new map. "Also, there's two buildings that are about twice as tall as they are on the map. One is a block up, the other is right at the entrance." He broadcasted the new map to the others, and shut down his computer. "Now let me ask you all this." He slipped it back into his pack. "Does Latigo seem to be the kind of guy to make simple mistakes like that?" Most of them lapsed into a thoughtful look.

[b]Cutler-[/b] "No, he's not. Not at all. He's a perfectionist to the core. It's how this company survived for so long. No mistakes means no problems." Corey made the gesture of a gun shooting directly at Cutler.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Exactly. So why is the map different?"

[b]John-[/b] "He's hiding something."

[b]Corey-[/b] "That's right. Probably a great deal." He hoisted his pack back onto his shoulders. "I don't believe in secrets among a team. Secrets get people killed." He looked at each team member. "All the rumors a few years ago about this corporation being involved with a lot of shifty shit is true. Latigo wants us to destroy any information we might run across that links his company to trans-dimensional travel, biological weaponry, genetic engineering, and anything else deemed illegal by the World Security Association." The underground has a way of getting things around. Most of the team probably already knew, and the ones that didn't had a good idea. "Since he lied to us, we're going to help ourselves out a little bit and fuck him over." He looked at each of them. "The government wanted me to collect a bit of information for them. I know we're all distrustful of the government, but we rub their backs they rub ours. They've offered to double Latigos payment if we can collect incriminating evidence."

[b]Latrice-[/b] "Really." Corey nodded.

[b]Corey-[/b] "Total, it's enough to settle down with. Never having to worry about bills or anything again." He glanced back at Latrice. "Or maybe rebuild bridges. In any case, I'm prepared to break into some of these buildings and find out what's up. None this close to the border, all we'd find is maybe some encrypted files. But once we get near the center, there will be labs. I won't do this unless everyone is in." Everyone slowly nodded. It was a lot of money for not much more work. "Good. Now before we head back outside, does anyone have anything to say?"[/size]
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[size=1]Everyone sat around in silence while contemplating what they had just agreed on. It seemed like pretty serious business and not something you can just take lightly. Sure, it was only a little more work, especially for a larger payment, but it still had its risks. Cutler, thinking of his future career as always, was the first to speak. "Hey, Cap'n," he said. Corey turned toward him. "Think this'll get me back in movies?"

"Cutler," Corey replied, "with the money you'll get, you can buy the movies." There was somewhat of a light snicker.

"I don't want the movies," Cutler smirked back. "I want to just star in them."

"Suit yourself," Corey said, pacing from one table to another, flicking dust particles into the air. "But still," he continued without looking back, "with this money you can buy your way back into the movies. You can make your own film and put yourself as the star. Hell, any of you can. With this money, you can buy yourself whatever you'd like. If money's the object, then you have nothing to worry about."

Cutler sat with his back against the large window of the diner. His left foot was on the seat while the other rested itself on the table. He played with a fork that had been left. After Corey finished his short speech, Cutler commented lightly. "Guess that makes sense. I just want my old life back."

"You have not to worry," Corey repeated himself. "With this money, you can buy your life back." Cutler seemed content after that and the room became silent once more.[/size]
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[COLOR=DarkSlateGray][SIZE=1]"Since he lied to us, we're going to help ourselves out a little bit and fuck him over."

Inside she winced. Sunny had never been big on crude language, being raised to be a perfectly proper Christian girl; but living as a mercenary (which wasn?t exactly the embodiment of Christian goodness) had forced her to internalize her discomfort with such wording. But already she was beginning to feel uncomfortable at the turn of events? From the two years that she had survived so far in their world, she was aware that mercenaries played by their own rules. Employers, if they chose not to divulge certain pieces of information, did so at their own risk; because if there were two things mercenaries were good at, it was [b]getting paid[/b], and [b]getting even[/b]. Still, Sunny had yet to go back on her word to any of her employers, and she had intended to extend the same courtesy to Latigo, despite his despicable character. What she hadn?t expected was that everyone else would agree to the new objective so willingly?but then again, they had all been in the business longer than she had.

As the other members of the team accepted the proposed modification to their mission, Sunny found herself feeling very out of place, small and isolated. To her, the other individuals seemed quite sure of themselves, and with the job they had come to do. Finally, she was the last to agree ? she didn?t really feel like she had a choice ? her mouth drawn into a thin line as she gave a barely visible nod.

[i]Who knows ? maybe the labs will have something useful[/i], she thought to herself, but she knew she was only trying to convince herself that this was justifiable. After Cutler?s remarks, and Corey?s assurance that they could ?buy their lives back,? the silence stretched a little longer. Sunny was reluctant to speak, but felt that the team shouldn?t move on before the issue had been addressed.
She found herself hesitantly raising her hand, ?Umm?sir??

?Don?t call me that,? was the automatic response. Coreys eyed her half-raised hand curiously, and she quickly put it down at her side again, feeling very foolish. ?Yes, Doc?? he prompted now.

?Sorry Commander,? she fingered the cross hanging from her ear again, feeling nervous and irritated at the same time. She [i]hated[/i] being called ?Doc,? but it was the easiest thing for others to remember, she supposed.
?I was just wondering? Well, you [i]did[/i] mention that Latigo really isn?t the kind of man to make simple mistakes. Wouldn?t it be appropriate to assume that he?s already considered the possibility that the government might have approached us with an offer? I?m just concerned about how exactly we?re going to get evidence out of the compound without Latigo catching on, especially with the chance that he already suspects us.?

Someone nodded, and she found herself looking at Michael Sumerkalis, who only met her eyes briefly before saying, ?No doubt, the guy?s probably already gotten some sort of insurance policy out on us, just in case we don?t work out the way he wants.?

The response was not quite the ?don?t-worry-we?ve-got-an-expert-plan? type of deal that Sunny was looking for. She swallowed again. ??You mean?other mercs??

Michael shrugged, ?I?m just saying that the possibility exists, like you said.?

Roos nodded, ?It?s a valid concern that we?re going to have to address. But at the moment, as we haven?t seen anything, shot anything, or found anything, much less any evidence to either destroy or sell to the government, I?d have to say that this is something we can effectively deal with later. We have to take this mission piece by piece ? otherwise we?ll burn out trying to keep all this shit straight and together. Does anyone have anything they?d like to add??
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Michael looked around the silent room, each mercenary staring down at Roos without a word to say at the moment. The eerie emptiness of the city caused the group to feel completely alone, but with a feeling of paranoia, the fear of a surprise attack from a mysterious enemy lying in the back of their minds. Mike didn?t allow those things to get to him, but wanted to understand the situation a bit more before they moved out.

[b] ?Commander Roos...?[/b] Mike spoke out, breaking the short silence the room had just experienced.

[b] ?What is it, Sumerkalis??[/b] he replied with an authority. Michael felt the natural leader exude from him as he stood strongly and held Michael?s gaze with strong eyes. Few people were able to stare into Mike?s eyes for very long before looking away or evading them. Roos? ability to hold the eye-contact caused Michael to respect him naturally.

[b] ?I don?t know if I?m speaking for anyone else, but I?m slightly in the dark. What the hell are we looking for exactly? And why are we packing so much heat? What kind of baddies do you plan on running into here??[/b] Michael asked concerned. He hated being the concerned one of the group, but someone had to ask the question, so that the group could stop fearing the unknown.

Roos continued looking into Mike?s eyes, seemingly searching his mind for an answer. Michael kept the eye-contact, demanding an answer with his expression. Roos exhaled through his nose and answered. [b] ?Listen. I?ll know it when I see it. If I?m not around to identify our target when you all come upon it, then I suggest you abort the mission and retreat. The matter is too complex to explain here. This is why we are a team, and why we are to remain one.?[/b] The group nodded. Even though the reply didn?t answer Mike?s question the way he would have wanted, he was willing to accept the Commander?s answer.

[b] ?And... the bad guys??[/b] Cutler came in. Asking the second question again with a certain personality, which he seemed to enjoy using in all conversation. Michael smirked at Cutler?s boldness and looked to Roos once again for an answer.

The question seemed to have thrown him off slightly, but he replied smartly and without a hitch. [b] ?I?m sorry to inform you all, but I have as much an idea as you all. Hopefully we won?t find out. But if we do, then there is nothing we will be able to do about it other than fight back. That?s why we were hired for the job. For our daring. And that?s also why we?re getting paid so much... so let?s not complain. We?re professionals... not some chicken-shit kids... So I expect the lot of you to act that way. Got it??[/b]

Commander Roos? harsh reply only kindled Michael?s respect for the man as him and Cutler both let out a grunt of a laugh at his gruff reply. Roos continued eyeing the room, looking in the eyes of each mercenary.

[b] ?Now... is that all??[/b][/color][/size]
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[size=1][color=#1874CD]Looking once around the room, Tyler chuckled at the sight of grown men and women wondering what in the world they were supposed to do. He was, at heart, merely reminded of the past but he shook his head and put it aside. As Michael questioned Corey about the reasons of the mission, Tyler wondered about the database, the information, and that sort. It would be encrypted and quite difficult to find, on top of that such information was difficult to find even if it seemed it was right under their nose. Tyler pondered and pondered but, like always, put his thoughts aside and focused on the mission.

He sighed and began cracking his knuckles while mumbling, [B]?I hate secrets.?[/B]

If there was anything in the world he despised most when it came to work, it was being in the dark. He hated secrets for one reason and one reason alone: they get people killed. Corey was right to say that secrets get people killed. It didn?t matter who was involved, if there was a secret- big or small- people were bound to die. The employers would?ve probably gotten off with only an injury or two but those who were hired held the greatest damage, regardless of anything. Albeit it couldn?t be helped, it was part of the world they lived in.

There was nothing he could do except, like Corey had said, fuck Latigo over. Finally in agreement with himself, and with the others, Tyler asked the question that everyone was probably asking themselves, [B]?So what?s the plan, Big Man??[/B][/size][/color]
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[COLOR=Purple][SIZE=1] Latrice held her head down as the others began to speak with Roos. Her ears atuned to the conversation but her face and consciousness seemingly out of the loop. Her only thought was to get as close to the center of the city as possible but avoid the radiation that was surrounding many of the core buildings that vital infomation may be held.

She opened her eyes and pulled out her mini laptop glanced at the city schematic looking at the center of labs and even various building groups that may have at one point of another accessed the central labs.

Although she waa known for her hacking skills of bioware one small but of infor always seemed to stick with her. Location, location, location.

[B]"Roos?"[/B] She called out shooting her eyes up to his and then glancing at Tyler for a moment.

[B]"What is it now?"[/B] She could see that she broke his concentration but only rolled her eyes at the guy before going on with her explaination.

[B]"Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the labs are centralized in this city. Correct?" [/B]Her nerves as well as attitude began to boil together in her throat making. Clearing it as she waited for a reply.

[B] "That's what the schematic says."[/B]

[B]"If that's the case there's no reason for us to even head there. The radiation levels are dangerously high. We can't get within 5 miles of that place without some adverse reactions. [/B]

Both Tyler and Corey scanned at the schematic and the projected radiation levels in the area and its surroundings. [B]" We got the equipment Latrice to get in far enough, so what is it you're trying to suggest."[/B]

[B]"I don't think all the labs were centralized. Well with the exception of some. But if Latigo is the anal fucker you say he is, he has a back up lab somewhere. Maybe even one that connects to the central labs." [/B]

Tyler seemed to concur as he continued to look at the schematic as well. A suggestion popping in his head as well[B]"It may be one of the buildings left out of the 'supposed' updated schematic."[/B]

[B]I was thinking that too Tyler, but do we have any sewer or underground schematics of this city. It may help us figure things out better.[/B]

Tyler pulled up the schematics and matched them over the city schematics seeing slight variations, that made him wonder. [B]"Latrice look at grid 18.3."[/B]

It was the innermost of the three buildings. One that was a lot taller than Latigo had said. she glanced at a series of pipways. Many closed off supposed;y for constuction.

Latrice nodded escpially eying a pipeline that led to the main labs.

[B]"That building may be our best bet for the time being."[/B] Noticing Roos view the schematics over Tylers shoulders. [B]"Don't you agree?"[/B]

With that she gave him a little grin and then folded up her comp and placed it back in her bag.

P.S. Hope I didn't go to overboard or anything, if so let me know and i can make the appropriate changes.
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  • 3 weeks later...
[b]Chapter Three: (0750 Hours)[/b] Lab Work

[size=1][b]"That building may be our best bet for the time being."[/b] He looked over Tylers shoulder with extreme interest. [b]"Don't you agree?"[/b] He glanced over at her and grinned.

[b]"Phil, come here a second. Look at this."[/b] He stepped out of the way but continued to stare at Latrice. She was better than he'd expected. Especially for a hacker. [b]"What do you think?"[/b] She'd finished putting her computer back in it's bag and met his gaze cooly.

[b]"I think she's right. This line is definitely a drain. And the one running parallel to it is heavy duty electrical. We're talking a lot of power."[/b] He nodded and stood up. Corey put a hand on his shoulder, still looking at Latrice.

[b]"I want you and Cutler to head over that way. Keep in radio contact the entire time, any funky shit, give us a ring and we'll be after you in a heartbeat. Scout the entrance for any kind of security. Automated weapons. Password blocked doors. Anything. We'll give you a two minute headstart, then follow. Head out."[/b] The two switched on their comlinks and exited the diner at a brisk jog. [b]"Let me ask you something, dear."[/b] He was still looking at Latrice. [b]"What made you think of a backup lab?"[/b] She shrugged.

[b]"Latigo's the kind of guy who wants to cover his ass in every aspect. This building is probably running off a separate power hardline than the labs, and therefore not susceptible to failure if they go out."[/b] He nodded.

[b]"And what about backup generators?"[/b] She blinked suddenly. [b]"A man as anal as Latigo may run his backup labs on separate lines, but he sure as hell would have a backup for that too. Just in case a system-wide failure occurred."[/b] He smiled slightly and adjusted his pack. [b]"Still, it's our best bet for now. Let's not keep our boys waiting, aye?"[/b] He un-holstered his automatic rifle and headed towards the door. The others followed suit. He thumbed off the safety and exited the diner. The smell of sulfur intensified a bit.[/size]
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[size=1]Phil and Cutler departed the diner at a run, their weapons drawn and ready, the safeties off.

[b]"Where are we?" [/b]asked Cutler, stopping and looking around.

[b]"We're close to grid 18.3," [/b]replied Phil, [b]"Come on, almost there." [/b]They ran a few hundred more metres and finally arrived at the backup lab.

[b]"Shit," [/b]said Phil, eyeing the lock, [b]"We've got a password-sensitive lock. This Latigo sure loves to cover his ass."

"How are we gonna get through there?" [/b]asked Cutler.

[b]"Well, Roos told us to call it in if there was any security whatsoever. I'm guessing this lock counts as security. We call it in," [/b]said Phil, reaching for his radio.

[b]"Wait a minute," [/b]said Cutler, blocking off his hand, [b]"Do you really trust Roos? I mean, a man who's willing to completely fuck over the guy who hired him can only be bad news, right?"

"How long have you been in this business?" [/b]asked Phil, slapping Cutler's hand away, [b]"We're mercenaries. Fucking people over for money is what we do. Bollocks to any code of conduct or any of that bullshit. We look out for number one, and number one only."

"Fair enough," [/b]replied Cutler, retracting his hand. Phil flicked his radio on.

[b]"Roos," [/b]he said, [b]"We've got a password lock. We need Latrice over here right now."

"Right now? We're two minutes behind you," [/b]replied Roos.

[b]"Yes, right now," [/b]snapped Phil, [b]"If we're going to get in this place we need Latrice here right now!"

"Alright, I'll see what I can do," [/b]replied Roos, disconnecting the comms. Phil sighed and leant back on the wall.

[b]"I trust him about as far as I can throw him, and he's a complete egomaniacal prick, but he's a good leader, I guess," [/b]he said, laughing along with Cutler, pushing another stick of gum into his mouth and chewing. He offered Cutler one, but the man refused.

[b]"So what's the deal with you and these movies, then?" [/b]asked Phil, trying to pass the time until Latrice arrived, [b]"Wouldn't expect an actor to go into our line of work."

"I did action movies, so I figured I was about as well trained for this as any other job," [/b]replied Cutler, [b]"I just needed some real-life experience."

"No offence, but you're not the first person I would have picked for the Demolitions on this crew," [/b]said Phil.

[b]"Oh yeah? Who would you have chosen?"

"You know...Iron-Eye Daniels? Fantastic bloke, awesome at blowing stuff up."

"Iron-Eye died about three months ago. Extreme case of food poisoning."

"Shit, not Iron-Eye? Well, fair enough. I guess you were the only man for the job, then!"

"If you're quite done," [/b]said a new voice. The two men turned to see Latrice standing in front of them, her computer-bag in one hand, [b]"I heard you boys needed a hand."[/b]
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