Rico comes towards a dissonant Samuel ,"We need to rendezvous with Cairo team before the rebel squads gets here!"
"C'mon Sam, get here goddammit!" Adam follows as he shakes back to earth Gibson.
A loud, explosion sounds is heard nearby, shaking the young sergeant to his senses. Clearing his head, Samuel looks around himself as he sees the desperation on Adam's eyes. He grabs his riffle laying next to his knee in a haste and stands up in a quick moment as the explosions close in to their position. As they prepare to escape the building, a door is automatically opened opposite to the loud banging. Taking guarding positions, they wait until the door is cleared while directing their guns at what might come from outside, only to meet two black clad figures.
A soft, slightly smaller than Rico, figure reveals itself as he proceeds forward when unanimously all the unarmed survivors look at him with big, open eyes. The figure turns to look at the comrade standing in guard behind asking for permission. Just as the man nods with a slight sight of discomfort, the figure takes off its helmet and a soft female with a notion of friendliness directs herself at the young vanguard.
"Sargent Vratski? Aziza Mubarak, Cairo team. We are here for the extraction. How many survivors are left with you?"
He stops to look directly at her hazel, bright eyes as if seeing a protecting goddess modeled on the image very image of young Athena. Small, delicate pink cheeks and a yet smaller unscathed lips ridden her tender face. Her hair fell long in locks of radiant black hair which extended up to her neck. Finally, stopping himself and taking a deep breath, he announced the sit-rep,
"Thirteen, unfortunately, we didn't find more." Rico responds as he signals the rest of the survivors to move hastily. "Thank you. Without you, these people wouldn't have made it."
"Let's just hope we don't end up dead because of them." The man, whose name is Ausar, interrupts as he observes the desperate, chaotic atmosphere. Soon, the survivors begin to evacuate in a slow fashion as they turn their heads in all directions and see the sky black, coughing as they continue the seemingly eternal walk to the vehicles. Looking towards the new group of soldiers, he notices Vratski and Aziza greeting each other rather personally, leering towards them and their unprofessionalism but rather that interrupting their conversation, he focuses on the aid.
Keeping count of the persons entering the truck, Ausar continues constant guard as the young squad and Aziza keep helping the passengers in anyway they can. However, soon he notices her helping a young girl, holding a teddy bear in the other arm as she enters the transport due to not reaching the stairs. Yet she is without her helmet on. If the superiors knew of her action, she could be berated harshly for that "mistake" as it both jeopardizes the safety of her privacy, but also the consistency of her cranium.
"Don't worry, you'll all be safe. We will protect you." Aziza tells in a caring fashion while handing the dear teddy to the child.
"Promise?" The young kid looks straight at her with teary, crystal eyes as she holds the bear tightly across her heart.
"Promise." The young soldier smiles towards the child and receives in return a smile of her own.
"What the hell do you think you are doing without you helmet on?" Ausar finally seeing her uncaring about her safety for far too long in the outside, walks towards her and raises his voice into a scary tone while he directs himself towards the young, inexperienced soldier, making a nearby old woman look at him in slight disgust as he scares the scurrying little girl into the truck. She stops herself at his imposing sight shadowing her figure and taking a big gulp, turns around to meet an unavoidable reprimanding she knows by recital.
"Sir, the helmet impedes any kind of facial expressions and prevents any kind of personal connection with the survivors." She opens, trying to justify herself in a attempt to connect with his human side deep rooted in the interior core of his external over-professionalism.
"Personal connection? May I remind you that what matters is evacuating the civilians and protecting the silos safeguarded on this installation, and in order to do that you must survive. Therefore it is a requirement you maintain helmet on at all times in accordance to protocol-1176. Is that understood, Mubarak? "
She lowers her head and replies- "Understood"- as she proceeds to put on her defensive head gear. They continue to guide the remaining exiting survivors who are too afraid or weakened to walk towards the safeguard.
"You have continued to look straightly at her, Rico." Sam says as the other shakes his head clearing his eyesight's focus to better see him.
"Uh, I have?"
"Yes, you been looking at her a while since we met these guys. It seems like you like her."
Rico, turning his head back towards her direction replies rather dissonantly- "Now, what are you talking about?" as the ambient turns suddenly fresh and airy around him.
"Well, you've been distracted ever since you opened the door to let them in. That is very unusual to yourself."
"Uh, normally you are very uptight except when you are praying. Even on your sleep you look like a monster. All rigid and contracted, like waiting to explode or cry."
"You know why I am like that."
"You forget you were not the only one who has suffered since Greece. I still have nightmares everyday about when I was forced to leave Amanda behind."
"Nobody said being a Marine would be easy."
"But still, I joined to serve my country, not to watch my friends die while I live shamelessly. What happened that day was nothing short of a catastrophe, they literally sent us rookies to die and stop a damn bomb; still, we failed and barely got out with our lives us three; if it weren't for you rescuing me, I would have been killed by those goddamned rebels in that house."
"I was too late to save the kid."
"Well, after all, it was for our "admirable combat prowess" that they chose us to join the "Siegfrieds"."- He leaves Rico's side to care to the rest oft he people present, however a curious thought comes to his mind that prevents him from continuing with his duties- "Hey, after all we've been through, I never got to know, why did you join the Marines?"
"I don't know really. I guess it's kind of pathetic but, ever since the first attacks happened and I was back in my colony, I wanted to be strong enough to protect everyone and help the people back on Earth. My grandfather has a saying that only with God's will we are safe but I knew that besides His will, we need to do something; to put down these terrorists and restore peace.
That however, enraged my sister. I know, the UHA ain't no saints, especially the UNCC with us colonists, but I know that at least they can keep things in peace and humanity united. Sarah does not comprehend that, she thinks the government is evil and corrupt. After that, we became estranged, and now I'm here.
Well, I can't blame her for thinking like that. I never had a pretty of the UHA myself, but at least they are doing something useful in keeping the us without war although by the looks of it, seems this is going to be the major one on Earth on a long time. I can't say there weren't problems back in Lux, but at least they were secluded between the criminals and innocents weren't normally involved. I never saw anything like this."
"Things are looking pretty bleak, if I say so myself. However, no matter the sacrifice we must do, I know-as you said- we are doing something useful. Well, at least I want to think that."
"You know, sometimes, I ask myself: Can't we all just get along? What is the necessity of war? Killing each other for ideas or beliefs, it's stupid. In the end, it doesn't matter if we think X government is better than Y government, or if is either Thor or Zeus, or if Green is better than Purple, we are all just talking meat in the middle of space."
"I wonder the same thing, Angel." As he finishes thinking about the conversation, Samuel notices Adam sitting alone next to Ausar as he talks to some survivors. "Hey Adam, why did you join the military?"
"I guess, I just want to be far away as possible from my father." He responds.
"You and the old man don't get along?" Samuel inquiries to make jargon about something new and unusual.
"You could say that. All I care about is that I don't see his goddamn face ever again. If there is half a galaxy of distance between us, the better."
"I never had a father in my life, my grandfather took care of me and my sister while we were little." Rico adds as his companions look at him rather disoriented.
Just after Adam finishes relapsing, a larger RPG explosion is heard as the ground shakes below their feet in tremor. They turn around as they see their mobile transport in ruins. Counting the toll, they see a total of 7 dead and a elderly woman plus her daughter who are fatally wounded, crushed by the vehicle. By the time they realize the situation, a young teenager has rushed towards the youngest woman, trying to lift the heavy load to save his mother and grandmother.
"We can't wait anymore here anymore, otherwise we are going to be cannon fodder. Leave them and the rest of us can get out of this bloody hell. Even if they get out, they will be unable to walk and will just slow us down." Ausar explains as some of the still standing survivors agree.
"We can't leave them! We might be able to carry them, Ausar! You simply can't suppose taking a kid away from its mother." Aziza yells at the cold Ausar as she joins alongside Rico in trying to lift the truck.
"I won't leave you mom! I'll get you both you and grandma out of there and lift you personally to safety. I promise."
"I won't stay as some hothead teenager tries to save the f...ing day and his mother or we two will die along him and these people. Let's get the hell out of here!" Ausar repeats his statement in a desperate hurry of not being caught in another unexpected explosion.
"and leave my mother and grandmother alone! No Way! Who the f... do you think you are?!" The rash kid yells at the soldier while leering at him with darkness covering his eyes.
"Please, take my son with you." The mother starts to slip as her eyes slowly close out of her injuries and the intense, sheer, utter pain.
"Mom! What the hell are you saying?! I'm getting you out of there, I swear!"
"Go! Both your mother and I have lived long enough. You are just 14 and got your whole life ahead. Leave. Just go." She signals Aziza, who continues pushing in a vain attempt to rescue the women and save everyone. "Even if you could get us out of this crash, we would be unable to walk and will be an incumbrance. Do not let us be a dead weight on your shoulders, Edward. Go!"
"No! What are you speaking about? I'll get you out of here, I swear!"
"Please, take him." Aziza looks at the elderly woman in deep, solemn respect as she complies to the her request. She separates the young lad from his family trying to spare his life and rescue him just as the boy pushes her aside. The kid continues to push the truck in vain when he is taken aback by a male survivor by the arms, barely restricting him, slowly losing his grip.
"Leave him, he is not worth the trouble and we are standing up in the open waiting for a bullet. Let's go!" Ausar yells at the group while trying to force the man to let go. "Sam, don't just stand there. You understand me, right?"
"I... I don't know..." says a distant Samuel as the sounds are muffled by his loud, inner thoughts.
"Please! Don't leave me! Sam!"
"Why am I remembering this now?" He mutters to himself.
Back in reality, the youngling still struggles to free himself from the man's grip as he attempts to free his trapped relatives,"I won't leave you! I swear, I'll get you out of here!"
"Sorry pal but we have to go, now! You heard your grandmother, let's go!"
"No! We can't leave them!"
"Stop being stubborn."
"Face it, both of them have no chance of survival. Both your grandmother and mother are crushed by a 4 ton truck. Nobody can survive such injuries." Ausar adds as he continues to scan the perimeter, knowing the enemy must be getting close to their position. "If you want to die alongside them be my guest but, stop retarding us with your pettiness."
With those words, the young soon starts to stop resisting both his restraint and tears. Looking upon his family as he slips down from the clutches of the man he is interrupted by a single word coming from Adam,
As soon as that shaking word comes through the air, a bright flash of light strikes both the kid and the man in the chest, killing the first instantly and the other grasping final breaths in doses of blood coughs.
"God!" Rico says as he keeps looking straight at the now empty eyes of the now deceased teen, only seeing his reflection upon them.
"Rico, keep cover!" Ausar yells at him while he tries to pin-point what seems t be multiple shooters. "We need to get out of here ASAP. Aziza, locations."
"Multiple Zealots coming from the far left corner. Two snipers at the building in front."
"Go to the building up ahead; stick to low cover everyone!" Ausar commands the three men, Aziza and one other survivor carrying a set of googles and arming himself with a Magnum. "You know how to shoot."
"I was a sheriff back in the days."
"Good, stick with Aziza on the middle-ground. Rico, you and I will go ahead. Adam, you carry a Railgun, right?"
"Yes. Trained battle-sniper, sir."
"Stick to the rearguard. Sam, provide cover fire at discretion. Let's move!"
They stick their heads down using rubble and deteriorated cars as more and more rebels come searching for them. Moving hurriedly, they elude the shots of both assault riffles, shotguns and sniper riffles while approaching the ruined building a few meters ahead.
"Vratski, open the door ahead!" Ausar yells to Rico while pointing ahead. Moving at a speed which makes him impossible to corner him, he rushes towards the small gate, finally unlocking it with his knife. He holds it with one hand signaling the others to follow suit as they come running to the inside.
"Adam, hurry!" He yells as Adam takes a shot at a incoming rocketeer aiming at their direction, downing him with a well placed shot that splatters his cranial structure in a flash as blood covers the visor of his companion, enabling him to enter the ruined storage as more snipers locked in their position.
"That was close." Aziza remarks while tending towards the civilian as the trio take heavy objects to block the path of the door.
"Everyone all right?" Ausar calls while they check themselves, signaling their well being. He turns towards the guy with the googles and asks with his precedent gruff voice, "And you?"
"I'm good." The guy responds while Aziza tends his minor bruises while she adds that he took down two rebels himself with his handgun.
Ausar soon tries to contact through a beacon his squad for rescue, only receiving dead static. "Damn, no signal. They probably jammed all communications as they started to attack."
"Anyway, we need to get out of here fast. That door won't hold on too much." Adds Adam as he points back towards explosion resistant door they just came through. As soon as he remark the obvious, more tremors are felt in the vicinity, "Actually, I don't think this building will last too much either."
After a few seconds of intense silence, the guy clears his throat as he gets the attention of everyone in the room, "Well, this may sound stupid or old fashioned but, perhaps we can set up a flare at the outskirts of the camp in the capitol building, the military might come for us. After all, that was the direction most soldiers were heading for."
"Good idea. Aziza, you still have the emergency flares with you right?" Ausar inquires as she nods, "Perfect. Still, the outskirts of the camp are five blocks deep into the battlefield.
"And the underground tunnels? This city was build over the ruins of an old one, perhaps we can use them to reach the capitol more easily."
"Then it's settled. After all, that is our last chance. Let's just hope the building doesn't fall over us."
The walk seems eternal. With the rumble of the battlefield over their heads, the shadow of the darkness only seems more somber, each step resonating between the tight corridors which make the underground city. With each step they take, dirt falls over their helmets as their head flashlights shaken in unison to the ground.
In the tense moment, a strong, crumbling sound thunders as the group looks at each other. Even behind their visors it is evident each and everyone is in deep fear, no matter how controlled in aspect they might be. Finally, the crumbling sound repeats itself even stronger as the ceiling falls over them. As soon as the dust begins to clear, Ausar checks his surroundings and helps Rico stand up; noticing ruble has divided the group, he calls,
"Everyone all right?"
"Humph..., I think so. Is Rico with you?" Aziza asks, confirming her survival.
"Yes. Gibson and Adam?" He continues, checking into Rico a second time.
"They're with me."
"And the cop?"
"I'm fine, I guess." The cop confirms his well being as he turns back on his night googles.
"Well, I guess Rico and I will look for another route. You continue with the set path. Clear?"
"Understood". They report in unison as they set forward the checkpoint.
As they continue the walk and reunite with their comrades, Ausar notices a spaced out Rico and gets his attention with his gruffly mannerisms, "Vratski, focus. I need you back here with me."
Getting a strange silence from Rico, he continues with his talk, "Listen, I could not care less about your relationship with Aziza, but right now I need you focused on staying alive. Is that clear?"
Gesturing with his left hand in slight disgust to the unnecessary formalities, he adds "And stop it with the sir."
"Uh, ok." He unconsciously retracts to himself as he continues to think, Relationship? Does that mean she also got interested on my persona? Is that why he called her back while we were on the truck? It wasn't my intention getting her into trouble with her superior.
He hears a cracking sound under his feet, putting a stop to his train of though as he checks for the cause. As soon as he notices the blood covering his boot, he lets out a simple- "God"- before Ausar whispers to Rico, "Stay quiet. Marauders up ahead.", as they ready their guns, taking position for countering an ambush behind two tables set in their front.
"C'mon. C'mon. Damn lights. Frank, check the breaker." One of the marauders carrying a SMG tells another with a bolt-action sniper riffle.
"Forget about the lights and grab the cargo so we can go already, we are missing the fight." Adds a third, closing in with a flashlight towards the two soldiers' position.
"Oh yes, and spill the merchandise. You forget we are not getting paid to fight of those Allied assholes but to safeguard..." Continues the first one before a loud, booming shot is heard, coming from the second marauder's location. Before they hurdle their weapons, a flurry of more shots come haling towards them as they fall to the ground, dead.
Coming out of the shadows, five individuals step into Ausar and Rico's view as the latter accidentally makes a rock roll into a wall. Hearing the rather loud sound, a female voice instructs one of the men involved,
"Search the area."
"It's us." Rico stands before Ausar's order with his hands in the air.
"What a relief. It's Rico!" Samuel responds as he lowers his riffle and signals the others to follow example.
Coming towards him, Aziza notices Ausar revealing standing up with weapon in hand, "Thank goodness, Rico. Glad you are both safe. We've been encountering lots of corpses laying on the ground, we weren't sure if you had any trouble meanwhile."
"Besides the three fellows, our walk has mostly been marked by silence." Ausar complains as he checks towards Vratski conspicuously. "How far are we from the building?"
"Not that far"-adds Samuel while-"We should be only a block away and the tunnel connects directly to our goal so it should be safe."
"Great. Let's move." Ausar finishes as he checks his riffle again.
After a long and undisturbed walk through out the tunnels they finally see the outskirts of the building. Coming to the roof, Ausar agains checks for signal with success. Contacting his superior, Abasi, he is instructed to set up the flare for localization as Aziza follows suit.
"I see you from here. We will send a extraction ASAP. Hold on 'till then, Ausar." Abasi adds as he sets up to board the extraction shuttle.
"Everyone, get ready. They sent a team to get us out of this hell hole." Ausar reaffirms to the companions as they prepare for a final onslaught of rebels coming at their direction, resulting in one more firefight.
Noticing a stand-alone rebel, Rico sprint-knees him on the face, knocking him down and then proceeds to reposition himself behind cover. Not noticing, the knocked rebel stands up, grabs a kukri and goes behind him, raising his weapon above-head in the preemptive strike with both hands. Ausar, taking note of this, rushes to grab the man's hands to prevent his strike. As they struggle, the rebel knees him in the gut, making Ausar lose his riffle and then proceeds to punch him in the face. As he recovers from the stun, the rebel lunges forward, lancing towards Ausar, whom dodges the strike by deflecting the blow and body of his attacker.
Ausar readies his Cutter blade as the rebel again lunges an overhead strike, blocking it in the process. Continuing being deflected, the rebel again spears him to again be grabbed and deflected aside. The kukri wielding rebel then proceeds to reverse-elbow him on the head and attempt a one handed overhead strike directed towards the soldier's face whom defends himself by intercepting the blow by once again grabbing the attacker's hand. Counterattacking, he side-swipes with his cutter only to receive the same countermeasure. Struggling, Ausar pushes with his whole body the opponent, crating some space between the two.
Taking the new golden opportunity, Ausar launches a sweeping attack coming from right to left as the rebel ducks and switches position with him. Again launching the same pattern of attack, he is intercepted by the rebel's free hand, grabbing him by the arm and then proceeding to stab him on the torso. As the rebel retreats his knife from Ausar's dying body, he is shot thrice in the head by Samuel, whom rushes to provide auxiliary support to alongside an horrified Rico to their fallen rescuer just as the extraction squad arrives, letting them escape while the rest provides cover fire as they carry Ausar by their shoulders as they leave the battleground.
Once at the nearby camp, Ausar is grasping onto his final moments in the company of the trio and the guy with the googles as a distraught Aziza discusses with Abasi about the direness of the situation now that the rebels successfully hijacked the bomb in their unknown plans while taking down one of their comrades named Roi.
"I understand that he was like a big brother towards you, Aziza. I'm sorry." Abasi adds as he consulates her. "It's ok, I understand if you can't see him now." With those words, he leaves to check on the dying Ausar as the local priest finishes with the holy rites.
"Abasi, you look tired." Ausar remarks about Abasi's decrepit look on his fallen face.
Responding with condolence, Abasi says,"It's been one hell of a day.", astonished that the man dying in front of him is feeling compassion for him, a seasoned veteran of special operations and father figure to his men.
"It sure has been. Sorry for not being able to fight any longer." Ausar stops to grab a bit of air as he continues with his final words. "It looks like good battles to be fought will be seen in the future."
"It's ok.", is all he can respond back before having his voice cut with gasps of tears.
"It's been pretty much a honor fighting alongside you, Abasi."
"The feeling is mutual, ol' friend." Abasi says as he holds onto his friend's hand when the other turns to direct himself at Rico.
"Angel, take good care of Aziza. She'll need you now more than anytime. Protect her at any costs. I know you will be capable of that and many more." He stops again as he coughs harder than before, getting the attention of the doctor attending him. "You are the most skilled fighter I've seen in years. Would been a honor to fight alongside you for more time."
"I'm sorry..." Rico responds while he lowers his head as the words resonate inside him.
"Don't be. There is nothing to be sorry about. I lived fully, nothing to regret now. The things I've seen are for what I am grateful: beautiful lights of all the colors you may think of riddling the night as thundering cannons shake the earth, camps where dogs are the humane ones and humans are the animals, seas so vast above the power of the mind of men, life being spilled like water among plants in the course of pettiness, imposing and immutable mountains defiled with the flowing of blood as flowers bloom while the cold of the snow melts to the heat of our essence, lumbering giants walking atop environments men should not dare to, and planets where the most bizarre thoughts of life are brought to reality only to be lamp-shaded by us.
I've seen the potential of mankind, for both war and hope. Bring about the most meaningful conclusions of reality to forgone it in what seems part of our mundane nature. I fought for that, knowing that even in the middle of despair, there is always something beautiful to contemplate. All of those memories, will now go with me to join the great conscience that is the universe which we return to at our material end and become whole again. I welcome it." Ausar again stops to cough, now with blood involved. His time coming and with a face of final peace present, he utters slowly while looking at the ceiling for one last time, "Time to die." He closes his eyes as the present lower their helmets in respect.
Coming in is a slender but muscular figure of outstanding presence alongside Aziza, "I'm sorry gentlemen for your loss but there is a important matter I need to discuss of dire necessity." Says the tall cybernetic William Ralec, more commonly known as Prototype-01.
"What is it, sir?" Questions Rico as he gazes upon Ralec's crystal bluish purple eyes that somehow set him off with their unnatural hue.
"You have displayed prodigious capabilities against the rebels on more than one occasion, doing ruthlessly efficient in the combat scenario. I need you three on the Counter Insurgency Special Squadron for our conclusive strike in London as part of the team to set for the political hostages, among them the Prime Minister's daughter Amanda Walker." He explains as the trio look at each other contemplating the offer in tacit form.
"Where do we sign up?" Samuel reports as the others approve for the mission.