Blood, pain, and violence are the essence of war. Modernisation is imbecility.
It is always the worst scenario for an officer to lose his men in action.
Welcome to the final round. I wonder who will win... oh, wait. No I don't.
* * *
The FIA was right as usual. At least one agency working for the GDI which never failed to forward the newest and most accurate info. The field command centre was up and operational already. This time it was a smaller city, yet fairly distant from the last location where they engaged the subject. In fact, the subject managed to use his powers to cross the border and was now hiding in city Annecy, south of Geneva in France. More accurately his location had been pinpointed to be a closed factory in the outer part of the city, luckily surrounded mostly by unused and abandoned infrastructure. The large clearing in the nearby forest gave a perfect place for a temporary command centre.
“Any news yet?” Barton asked impatiently. It was already noon and the GODD didn’t arrive yet.
“Nothing yet sir.” Flint replied quickly as he tapped something on his console.
General Barton left the tent, wanting to get some fresh air. Both Colonels were waiting outside. Apparently Mc Dean was already readying his group. As for a Colonel he was given command over a poor bunch, consisting only of two assassins and the temporary 3rd platoon, borrowed here together with young Lieutenant Hinde to lead them. Both Mc Dean and Hinde weren’t experienced, but the troops were here only to give cover to the assassins and the commanders. Colonel Stiles on the other hand was slowly briefing the temporary 4th platoon, brought together with their Lieutenant, Feret. Lieutenant Feret was a tough woman with a nice and promising military career. All those new temporarily commissioned soldiers seemed to be making Barton’s group finally something. He was now with 4 platoons, so generally a whole company of about 200 soldiers. Yet all this firepower was worthless with what they were up against. The 4th platoon was still missing the GODD, who were late. Barton looked around, the 1st platoon was scattered all around the area, securing it. This time Mc Stern was grounded in the command tent to defend the high ranks, while Sinclair with her 2nd platoon left for reconnaissance. Yet, because of letting Sinclair take the command over the 2nd platoon Stork was left in the command tent with no soldiers to command. Luckily Lieutenant Stork didn’t need soldiers, and Hudson was at least happy to have the silent helper at his side. Sergeants Troy and Paco were stuck with defence this time under commands of Mc Stern. While Faraday, given command over SOU Cyclops for better info gathering, accompanied Sinclair on the recon. Barton was worried. The orders were merciless and if all outs fail, which meant the assassins and the GODD, the orders were to fight until the last man. And since the 3rd and 4th platoons were the assault team they would be forced to fight the pointless battle. This was after all their only sure way to capture the subject. That was to tire him, or so did Yasnov say. When forced to fight for too long he would finally have to return to his human form and then he could be apprehended. But to tire him it would take many casualties among those two platoons, or even more. Barton shivered thinking that he might be forced to send the 2nd platoon with Sinclair to the fight. All of them used as cannon fodder. And although he barely knew the two Colonels and their platoons, he did feel terribly when sending men on certain death. He gave out a sigh and tried to relax a bit, but he was interrupted again. This time, however, he was quite happy to see the modified Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion with large golden letters GODD on its side landing nearby. “Ah, finally!” He said to himself as he approached the landing carrier. It was a specially modified version of the chopper, apparently adjusted to carrying the devices. Out of the heavy chopper four large android-like machines came. Each of them having the omniscient eye in a trident on their chests, the sign of GODD. Barton was a little surprised to see those high-tech assault robots, each over 2 meters tall and one meter in width. Their thick arms and legs were connected firmly to the large main corpus. Each of the robots had its left arm equipped with a chain gun instead of fingers, namely a modified GAU-8 Avenger, while their right hands ended with a modified rocket launcher M25 three shot bazooka, also known as Trident due to its three rocket holes. “So you are the devices sent to assist us, huh?” Barton asked trying to hide his partial state of awe.
“Correct.” One of the robots drawled with a muffled mechanical voice. “We are the hands of GODD. You are General Barton. We are awaiting commands.” The robot announced the obvious.
At first Barton wanted to scold them for being late, but he didn’t know how to. Probably they wouldn’t even understand, or get angry. So he just dropped the idea and briefed the machines. “This is Colonel Stiles, he is your direct deputy commander, and he will forward any orders from me to your group. You will also be accompanied by a platoon of soldiers, but they will move in only in case of your failure.” Barton replied as he pointed at the Colonel who was now standing next to him and staring at the robots. Then he left to the command tent without a word. Finally they were ready to begin the operation.
“They’re here?” Hudson asked as the General entered the tent.
“Yes, we are ready to begin the operation Lightning.” Barton replied quickly. “Get me Sinclair over.” Sending Lieutenant Sinclair to command the 2nd platoon was the only option left, at first Barton wanted to send the more experienced and higher ranked Captain Saline with them as the commander, but he gave up on that since Saline had already encountered the subject directly. Instead Saline was given the command over the Sinclair’s platoon as a leading commander from the temporary command centre, to grant that group some more independence.
“Here you go sir.” Flint replied quickly while handing the intercom to Barton.
“Sinclair! This is the General speaking. Do you have a visual on the target?”
“Negative sir, the subject is only detectable thanks to SOU Cyclops, this factory doesn’t grant us a good visual.” Came a clear reply.
“But you can confirm that he is still there?”
“That’s affirmative sir!” The intercom sounded with the confident female voice.
Barton thought for a moment. “Stay in your positions, your platoon will be reporting as the second hand. Do NOT engage the subject unless ordered to do so or attacked by him directly.” He ordered with a serious tone.
“Roger that sir.”
The General turned off the intercom and gave it back to Flint. “Saline, keep a constant contact with the 2nd platoon. Flint, make sure to keep the 3rd and 4th platoons coordinated. But first let me to talk to both of those two groups.”
“Yes sir. Right away, sir.” Lieutenant Colonel Flint replied obediently as he began tapping the buttons again. “There you go, sir. You’re in, sir.”
“To platoons 3 and 4, this is General Barton speaking.” Barton started with a serious and commanding tone. “The operation Lightning is due to begin. Remember the plan, First we allow the assassins to take out the target. If they fail they are to retreat and allow the GODD to engage the target in a direct fight. The platoons are to wait until the fight ends and take on the target should the GODD fail to bring him down. In case both the 3rd and the 4th platoon are eradicated or suffer high casualties the 2nd platoon is to enter the scene and finish the subject off. Good luck soldiers!” Barton could hear yells outside the tent as he finished, obviously the Colonels taking matters into their hands and readying to depart. The time of final encounter was closing in. Everyone started to do their work immediately. Saline contacting Sinclair, Flint linking the communication between all the platoons swiftly with the help of Stork, and Hudson standing beside him and giving out minor commands on behalf of the General. Only Troy seemed to be bored, leaning against the tent as he observed the commotion. He didn’t like to be assigned for defence. His basic approach to fighting was that attack was the best defence, and now he was stuck with all the high ranks in the command tent, accompanied by his squad of soldiers all just being the main bodyguards for the tent. In his eyes even Sergeant Paco was luckier, allowed to circle the vicinity with his squad.
“Platoon 3 here. In position!” Came a confirming voice over the comm.
“This is Colonel Stiles of the 4th platoon, we are at the designated position.” Came another confirmation.
“All operatives are in place. Awaiting the command to execute operation Lightning, sir.” Hudson said officially.
Barton sat on his chair and lowered his gaze. This would be a bloody massacre, he could feel it. “Execute.” He finally replied lacking any other option.
The inside of the factory was already silently invaded by both the 3rd and 4th platoons. Soldiers staying on the ground floor with their Lieutenants, while the assassins and the GODD left for the upper floor, both Colonels with them. With the help of SOU Cyclops they managed to plan a perfect setting of all teams and troops, the GODD were left in the east part of the building together with Colonel Stiles, while Colonel Mc Dean left to supervise the two assassins personally. He didn’t see anything special in those two men. Both being quite young, around 30 years of age, they looked like normal people. He settled in a spot on the higher balcony-like ramp, from which he could see the entire large production hall as well as the dark-haired boy sitting on the floor. Both assassins left to prepare their surprise attack, which hopefully would kill the subject before he managed to react.
Darkling tried to sleep. His right arm had already healed for most of the part, since the last attempt on his life. He wouldn’t be that forgiving next time. Yet he didn’t expect the next time to come so soon. The assassins sent after him were a tall blonde, alias Gunner, and a short and chubby dark-haired man, alias Graviton. Both of them were already in position as Darkling was about to fall asleep after a long time of striving in this world, which seemed so different from the sterile laboratory he used to live in up until now. The boy found it hard to adapt, stealing food and anything necessary for his survival, yet trying hard not to interact with people. Interactions were something he didn’t handle well. When he was younger he’d never be allowed to leave the Institute to go and socialise with other kids, instead he was taught how to give a fatal wound with a single stab. While normal kids would watch TV in their pyjamas, he was forced to go through intensive battle simulations. While other kids were attending kindergarten or primary school, he would be taught how to kill quickly and efficiently with the use of his powers. And finally, while other kids would play together or talk with each other, he would spend time alone in the white room, left with nothing but the constant invigilation from multiple surrounding cameras. Humans were not normal for him. They lived so differently, and acted so freely, as if they’d never known true nature of isolation. But the boy didn’t envy them. Neither was he angry for his upbringing. He just accepted the fact that his youngest life was taken away from him and twisted, and all his chances of joining the normal society ruined by the one and only ‘truth’ he was forced to learn. He just wished to be alone, forever. So that nobody would ever mess with him, and force him to do things he didn’t want to do. To kill for motives that weren’t his. Darkling’s eyes went shut as he began to feel heavier and heavier. Way too heavy to be supported by his body, so he slowly lied on the floor. The dark-eyed boy couldn’t help but to wonder what made him feel so tired and heavy today. He quickly tried to chase away the memory of this painful nightmare he’d been having every now and then. The image of his human body being ripped apart and mauled, bones broken, organs crushed. All done by the darkened shapeless form of his own shadowed side. This executioner was him, but had a mind of its own. While Darkling would always shape his shadow’s body replicating his human form, and shape his eyes as similar to rectangles, this being was pure. This shadow was just a bunch of loosely connected tentacles, shifting and reshaping constantly, all covered with dozens of those tiny red spots for eyes. He remembered the dark and deep voice of his inner self, calling him out. The words that accompanied his physical torture were clear. ‘How much suffering mortal does it take, before you follow your destiny?’ He knew what that meant. But even after a nightmare of physical tortures he wasn’t willing to change his mind. And he hoped he never would. A silent, barely hearable sound was caught in his ears. A hushed click, like a mute gun cocking. Darkling’s eyes went wide all of a sudden. Something was wrong, he was way too heavy.
BANG! Sounded the 16mm calibre gun that was now growing straight out of Gunner’s right arm. Or to put it better, his arm turned into a gun, with a visible barrel and many metal parts growing straight from his flesh. Mc Dean watched in silence from the high scaffold, he now understood why the alias. But the boy was no longer where he had just been. Gunner turned around to see the shadowed figure grow from the ground behind him. He was forced to look straight into the glowing red eyes, and then he blocked Darkling’s right arm, which now turned into a dark blade that sliced downwards vertically. The metal took the hit quite well, but the force made it bulge and the barrel got deformed.
“Niiiice…” Gunner said smiling. “Surprise attack failed. You would have been a good assassin after all.”
“Jump back Gun!” Graviton called out, now revealing himself from behind Gunner as he came into view.
Gunner did as he was told, and just in time to avoid the forced slice of Darkling’s blade which now ditched in the floor, crushing the tiles for most of the part. The boy couldn’t tell what was going on, but his materialised blade suddenly felt as if it was weighing a tone. He only heard several clinking sounds again, and soon Gunner turned himself into a standing replica of a M242 chain gun, and began to fire. The heavy bullets pierced through Darkling’s immaterial body forcing it to disperse and not allowing him to reform, only to mercilessly beat the opposite wall. Debris and wall fragments began to fall off as Gunner kept shooting. Darkling finally flattened his shaded form to the ground forming the usual shadow circle. But he wasn’t left there for any longer, since Graviton forced the floor element, on which the shadow stayed, to float into the air and rapidly crush against the ceiling. In the meantime Gunner returned to his normal form.
“That’s enough! You failed to take him out, retreat now!” Colonel Mc Dean yelled out from the scaffold.
An empty PUFF sound came, and a moment later a violent explosion of a grenade consumed Colonel’s body, ripping him apart. Metal fragments of the scaffold fell all around, mostly drizzled in blood; Graviton gently bent the trajectory of all the falling elements aside while Gunner just stood there with his left hand extended towards where the Colonel used to stand. His left arm was shaped into a replica of a Milkor MGL, with smoke still coming from the barrel.
“Oups…” The armed assassin muttered with a grin. “Accidental discharge.” He added comfortingly.
Back in the command tent Barton was holding the intercom tightly, almost crushing it in the process. “Mc Dean!? Mc Dean!? Are you there? Over!” But no response came. The General had to assume the worst, but then the intercom did reply. Although it wasn’t the voice that he was waiting for.
“General! This is Sinclair of the reconnaissance team. We have confirmed that Colonel Mc Dean died. Both assassins disobeyed the order to retreat and are still engaging the target.” Lieutenant replied informingly.
“Roger! Keep me informed.”
Barton looked at Hudson, the tall man had a perplexed look on his face, as if unsure what to say. “Are we sending the GODD in?” Hudson finally asked.
“They were to withdraw…” General Barton muttered to himself. But in fact, it was a good idea to let them fight to the death. And they also had some chances of winning this fight. And even if they failed they should still have the subject tired at least a bit. Barton couldn’t help but to think that losing two disobedient assassins would be better than forcefully taking them out of the fight and sacrificing a whole platoon to do the same task. “Wait with the GODD. We will send them after they fail.”
“I see sir.” Major General Hudson replied with understanding tone. In fact, he also considered this be the best option in current situation.
Stork, sitting at his control panel, looked a bit worried though. Lieutenant Colonel Flint gazed at Stork at an angle.
“Lieutenant Hinde! Colonel Mc Dean is KIA; you’re taking over the command of the 3rd platoon.” Barton’s voice sounded through the earphone straight into Lieutenant’s ear.
The news were shocking, but Hinde kept his cool. “Understood!” He replied quickly.
The whole factory was now shaking due to the tremors in the production hall on the second floor. Gunner kept shooting with his grenades everywhere where he saw Darkling’s shadow. Graviton helped by controlling the falling debris and elements, forcing them to cause even more chaos. Darkling cursed in his mind. They noticed him too easily, and responded too quickly. He couldn’t approach them since whenever he tried he was either thrown away along with the floor by Graviton, or the path was destroyed by Gunner. But this couldn’t last forever. The floor of the hall was now full of pits and large holes, threatening to collapse any moment. But the boy just came up with an idea. His shadow crawled into one of the holes in the floor, and travelled through the ceiling of the ground floor to the hole that was nearest to the two assassins.
“Where are you princess…” Gunner asked aloud melodically with a wide smile.
“Right here my prince…” Came the boy’s voice from under the assassin’s feet.
Neither of the assassins noticed before that they were now both standing on the shadow. “Oh, shi-“ Gunner yelled out but got cut off as numerous pure black spikes grew out of the shadowed floor. Luckily, Gunner managed to solidify his body into metal, so he was barely scratched. But Graviton didn’t have as much luck. His full of holes body limply fell on the floor as he failed to react in time. Gunner was pretty much a metal statue at this point, his body not penetrated by the spikes, yet unable to move as well. The spikes began to deform and slowly encased the assassin in a cloud of blackness. After a short moment and some creaking noises the shadow dispersed to take up the form of boy’s frame again, while the metal Gunner was now lying on the floor in many pieces. He was still alive, while in metal form he couldn’t be killed that easily, unless melted. But he couldn’t return to his real form either, since he would die then. He also was no longer able to transform into any other weapon since that required him to return back to normal first.
“This is the 2nd platoon commander Lieutenant Sinclair! Both assassins have been confirmed dead. I repeat. Both assassins as well as Colonel Mc Dean are KIA!” The intercom sounded with a worried tone of the woman’s voice.
“4th platoon, this is the General speaking. The GODD are now to engage the subject, his location will be forwarded to you by the reconnaissance team.” Barton spoke to the intercom quickly. This operation was already a failure.
“Alright! You heard the man! We’re moving out!” Colonel Stiles ordered to the GODD as he started walking. The machines followed him silently. “Feret, stay with Hinde and ready the platoons, we might need them soon.” He added as he looked over his shoulder.
Stiles wasn’t stupid, he knew this was a high-mortality operation and many were expected to be lost. They encountered the subject in a smaller storage hall, one right east to the production hall where the previous fight took place. Stiles slowly moved to the side, staying at a distance, unsure of what those GODD were capable of. Noticing the shadowed figure staring at them blankly with his glowing red eyes all the four robots standing in a line raised their left arms and aimed their chain guns at the boy.
“Target lock.” The middle left robot drawled with his robotic voice.
“And you are?” Darkling asked surprised. He’d never seen such battle machines before.
“We are the hands of GODD…” Another machine replied firmly, standing on the right of the previous one.
“Hands of God?” Darkling asked aloud, not familiar with the abbreviation.
“We are the hands of those in control.” The same robot explained.
“And those in control demand your extinction.” The robot on the left end added flatly.
“Since the previous attempt was unsuccessful.” This time the robot on the right spoke.
“You’ve got a collective mind or what?” The boy asked curiously, obviously not in a hurry to start fighting.
But the GODD were no longer keen on talking. All the four chain guns opened fire as their 30mm calibre bullets began piercing the wall behind the shadow, practically tearing it apart by the brutal force. The guns stopped spinning as the robots noticed that the shadow was no longer there. Soon a black spike came out of the blackened floor and stabbed the robot on the right. But the spike couldn’t pierce the heavy armour. Darkling withdrew and his shadow quickly travelled away to stop on the wall to the production hall, nearby the hole newly torn by GODD guns. Then the two bots in the middle raised their right hands and both released three missiles from their Trident-type Bazookas. The three rockets span around their centre as they flew straight to the targeted shadow. Both sets of three rockets had hit the same spot, almost entirely destroying the wall separating the battered production hall and the storage hall. Darkling was slowly moving around in multiple shadows. They finally gathered into one and he rose from the ground in his blackened human shape. All the robots noticed him, however, and opened fire once again from their chain guns. The boy was annoyed, he was wasting time. They couldn’t kill him, and he couldn’t damage them. At this rate he would soon run out of energy and be forced to return to his human form. Darkling cursed at himself, but a thought finally flashed in his mind. His shadow blades and formations might have been too weak to penetrate the solid enforced armour. But he was quite certain those chain guns and rocket launchers would do the trick. His shadow quickly gathered under the feet of the robot on the left end of the line. Now the shadow rose from the ground but climbing up on the surface of the shining polished metal armour of one of the GODD. Darkling quickly found the unsealed holes in the robot’s armour. Perhaps those were enough to prevent water or air from getting into or out of the robot, but a shadow could squeeze in just fine. The attacked robot was standing still, struggling with the sudden invasion into his metal corpus. The three other GODD moved aside and aimed their chain guns at the blackening robot. Soon the machine on the left was fully black, with the familiar red glowing eyes appearing on the surface of the blackened armour on the robot’s chest. Using his materialised shadow parts inside the robot Darkling took over the control of all mechanic and hydraulic devices. A struggle between sheer force of the shadow and the electric motors still faithful to the robot’s CPU was shortly finished. The shadow prevailed and the blackened robot lifted both its arms, aiming at the three other GODD. For a moment Colonel Stiles was too surprised to react, but then once realisation of the danger creped into his mind, he instinctively jumped behind one of the large steel barrels that were probably meant for storing some chemicals. Soon a volley of gunfire and explosions shook the entire abandoned factory. Tremors caused some of the soldiers of the 3rd and 4th platoons to lose their balance and fall to the ground. The whole building was increasingly more dangerous for anyone under its roof. That’s why Lieutenant Feret grabbed her earphone.
“Colonel, do you read me?” She asked with a nervous tone. “Colonel, I’m asking for permission to evacuate the 4th platoon out of the building due to the risk of collapsing!”
Hinde gave her a surprised gaze. They were not allowed to move out, yet the Lieutenant wanted to do so.
“I hear you Lieutenant Feret! Permission granted!” Came the Colonel Stile’s voice over the earphone, muffled by noises of gunfire and explosions.
“Alright 4th platoon! Initiate evacuation procedures! Retreat and regroup outside the building!” Feret yelled out to her group. Then she looked at Hinde, still stuck in position. “Your direct commander is dead, if you want to leave just issue the order yourself.” She instructed the confused young man.
“Y-Yeah! 3rd platoon! We’re retreating as well!” Hinde finally spoke out loud.
“General! Both Lieutenants have withdrawn their platoons outside the factory. The building is likely to collapse.” Hudson informed quickly.
“Tell them to stay in the vicinity… No matter what we cannot let the subject leave the perimeter, leave the 2nd platoon on standby and in positions around the building.” Barton instructed, as Hudson immediately issued instructions to the retreating soldiers.
The tremors stopped as Stiles finally reopened his eyes. All in all the building was still standing, even after all the beating it received. But the storage hall had almost no floor left. Most of what was left of the hall was now on the ground floor, including the huge shining barrels behind which the Colonel took cover. He looked down from the edge of the ripped floor to see what was left of the GODD and the subject. To his surprise two of the robots were entirely scrapped, scattered around in a chaotic manner. Except for the blackened robot which was also extensively damaged there was only one GODD left. The last remaining robot had its right arm with rocket launcher dislodged and bent severely. Obviously, he could no longer fire any missiles, but the dark figure of the robot with glowing red eyes on its chest seemed to be out of ammo. Both robots were damaged quite badly, even though their interior was still in a moderately good condition.
“Servicing required.” The last GODD noted as if there were people around who could service it. “Enemy is out of ammo.” He then added analytically. The only ammo left were several Trident rockets stuck in the damaged right arm of the GODD. There was a moment of silence, as if the robot was revaluating priorities and assessing damage. He then jumped up to the machine controlled by Darkling and slammed it with the right damaged arm, forcing the blackened robot to the ground. Then the GODD punched the heavily damaged arm into the shadow-driven robot’s chest. The darkness deteriorated for a moment around the place where the main armour plate was broken. Then the GODD pushed its right arm deeper into the other robot and commanded the right arm to open fire. There was another thunder and explosion. The GODD then stepped back looking at its now missing right arm. The rockets were fired and exploded within the damaged arm, but the effect of the explosion was mostly visible on the blackened robot. Its chest had a hole that barely left ant metal on the sides, so that it didn’t fall into two parts. The shadow on the robot’s surface now retreated and reformed back into the shape of the boy, while the puppet GODD fell on the floor with a thud.
“You will be exterminated!” The last remaining robot said as it swung its left arm with the chain gun down at the darkened figure. Darkling reshaped again and now pierced the GODD with a spike, using a creek on the robot’s armour as the weak point. “You will… You…” The armoured behemoth tried to repeat the last sentence but the power had finally been cut off due to the extent of damage done by the shadow invading its interior. Now only Darkling was left standing in his shadow form. Stiles looked at the subject carefully. He seemed instable. His form losing and regaining shape while flowing constantly as if fighting with some invisible force that kept deforming it.
“This is Colonel Stiles. The subject is weakened. I repeat the subject seems to be weakened!” Stiles announced to the earphone while taking out his AMT AutoMag V pistol.
“Roger that Colonel.” Came Flint’s voice over the earphone.
“Send in the two platoons. 3rd platoon is to engage the target, 4th platoon is to support them and evacuate the Colonel.” The General ordered to all the soldiers in the command tent.
Stiles looked down on the subject again. To his surprise the red glowing eyes were now staring straight at him. “You’re not getting away… there’s a whole platoon of soldiers who will trace you down if you try to get away…” The Colonel explained panting. “Moreover, there are two platoons on their way here… you’ve lost.”
“It’s not like I can just give up.” The boy replied.
“Why do you keep on fighting?”
“Why do you keep on trying to kill me?”
Stiles was taken aback by the question. Whichever way to look at it, they were the aggressors here. “Soldiers follow orders…” He replied with lack of anything better to say. Soon enough the lower floor got filled with soldiers who all took their positions surrounding the black figure of a boy.
“You alright, Colonel?” Feret asked as she placed her hand on Stiles’ shoulder.
“Yeah, he didn’t come after me.” Stiles confirmed. “I’m fine.”
“General! We have an incoming transmission from the central!” Flint yelled out with both anger and fear.
“What’s wrong, Lieutenant Colonel? What does the central want at a time like this?” Barton asked calmly.
“They have informed us that they are about to use the IC! Their target is the building containing the subject!” Flint’s words now made everyone within the command tent freeze in place. Shock and disbelief was visible on all faces around.
“What the fuck are they talking about!? My subordinates are still in there!” Barton boomed with anger.
“They won’t be backing down sir!” Flint added, certainly the central could do whatever they wanted to… even if it was shooting their own soldiers.
“DAMN! Patch me up to the 3rd and 4th platoons, NOW!” Barton boomed as he grabbed the intercom. “This is the General speaking, you have a SYA soldiers! I repeat. Code SYA!”
Saline was also hurriedly talking to Sinclair. “It’s SYA! Get the hell out of there; they’re going to fire the orbital Ion Cannon!” The Captain yelled out.
“What is it, Captain? Please repeat! I’m having some interference.” Lieutenant Sinclair replied with a tingle of fear.
“SYA. I Repeat. SYA!” The desperate female voice cackled through the intercom. Sinclair couldn’t hear it well enough to confirm.
“Captain, I don’t understand! Please repeat!”
“What the fuck do you not understand!?” Came a finally clear voice. “SYA! Save Your Ass! Get away from the building, now!”
Sinclair’s eyes widened. She threw the intercom and faced Faraday who was talking to SOU Cyclops. “Attention 2nd platoon! We’ve received a SYA signal! We’re moving out immediately!” She announced with a loud voice, strongly enough to make all people freeze for a moment. Then everyone suddenly started rushing all around like busy bees.
The command tent was no better. “Do we know when the IC fires?” Barton asked quickly. As usual, he was placed between the hammer and the anvil.
“T minus 4!” Stork replied quickly as he added some isolation tape on his control panel. Most people in the tent were preparing the equipment for the blast. Ion Cannon, besides firing a very powerful beam down from the orbit, also caused an EMP shockwave, so all equipment had to be secured and prepared.
“Damn, we won’t make it in time. Let’s hope THEY make it.” The General mumbled to himself. At this spot the blast wouldn’t reach them, but his men were still out in the field. Four more minutes… It’s undoable. Barton thought. Suddenly and without a warning a wide beam of light thundered as it clashed down from the sky straight into the old demolished factory. Barton saw the beam through one of the windows in the tent. The attack was at least 2 minutes early. Were they misinformed? The white dimming blast slowly consumed the entire factory. Air got sucked into the beam of ions as it finally gave out the final shockwave, which left no stone unturned within the radius of half a mile around the factory. The EMP wave soon reached the command tent taking out at least half of all the electronic devices stationed there. Interestingly all the panels used by Lieutenant Stork have remained intact thanks to quick but efficient isolation. Screens flashed as they gave out to the EMP, soon the blast silenced and the time came to account the losses. “Stork, inform me how much equipment is still functional! Saline, Try to get in touch with your platoon! Hudson, try to contact the 3rd and 4th…” Barton paused for a moment. It was unlikely that they survived. The 2nd platoon had some chances since it was further away, but the two others… His mind whirled for a moment, but he was interrupted by yells and voices from outside the tent. Apparently the 1st platoon soldiers were discussing how terrifying the blast was. “Troy, go there and tell them not to let their guards down. Flint, try to contact the central, I want to know who issues the order to use IC and why it was early.” Everyone quickly got to work.
“Sir, the central is hailing us.” Flint suddenly reported.
“Put those bastards on…”
One of the screens flashed and revealed no one else but Officer Darane.
“That makes sense…” Barton muttered with anger.
“General, did the IC hit the target? Confirm.” The iron lady asked flatly, obviously not bothered by the fact that at least 100 soldiers have just been killed.
“Oh, you did hit the mark… You’ve hit the target right on… taking two platoons along, but what the hell, eh?” Barton derided with a grave and disgusted tone.
“Sir! I have a contact with Sinclair! The 2nd platoon has been decimated, SOU Cyclops is KIA. Same goes for Sergeant Faraday. But there are at least 7 people left alive, including the Lieutenant!” Saline interrupted with a bit of joy in her voice. To have your subordinates come back from certain doom was an uplifting feeling to any commander. “They will be returning here shortly!”
“They will not.” Darane replied with a deadly tone. “Order them to go to the ruins of the factory and check if the subject is still there.” She instructed with a heartless voice.
“General!?” The Captain protested, trying to get support from her commander.
“We cannot disobey…” Barton replied after a moment. “Do as she says.”
“…yes sir…” Saline replied with almost a whisper as she turned back to the console. She didn’t even want to imagine what kind of images those soldiers will see on the spot. IC was known for not leaving any bodies after it hits, but the blood and charred bones are sometimes left marking all the spots where people used to be during the main blast.
“What!?” Sinclair asked perplexed. “Yes… okay.” She replied obediently. “Alright team… We’re going back to the scene to see if the subject is still there.” She announced silently with resignation. No response came. Perhaps those soldiers were too happy to find themselves alive after the explosion to boycott the ridiculous order. Or maybe they just went through too much of a shock. “Leave the wounded here; we’ll pick them up on the way back.”
The group of 5 people including Lieutenant Sinclair surrounded the 12 year old boy. He was unconscious and naked, lying in the main crater with profusion of dried blood around him. Luckily for him that wasn’t his blood. She quickly assumed that he must have struggled to stay in his shadow form for as long as possible during the actual blast, and then the EMP forced him back to his real form and left unconscious due to the exhaustion.
Sinclair was staring at the boy for a while. All those deaths, just for this. “Cuff him and give him the drug.” This subject would no longer be an issue, or so she hoped. “General, we have detained the target… We are bringing him back to the command field now to prepare him for transportation.” She spoke to the earphone.
“Splendid!” Officer Darane grinned with satisfaction. “Good job General! You’ve finally proven yourself competent.” She derided with a half smile. “And that Sinclair may expect a promotion for valour in combat. Deliver the subject to the forwarded location ASAP.” She instructed and then the screen flashed again and turned off.
“Good job…” Barton muttered to himself. Calling this mission a success was a disgrace to all those soldiers who have died in it. Sacrificing so many to capture just one… Human lives that could have been lost should they fail to accomplish the objective might have reached billions, and yet, comparing those numbers had no sense whatsoever. “Bastards…” The General added with a hushed voice as his fist slammed the table. He only now figured out why the central called this operation Lightning. This was planned all along. Knowing that your life and the lives of those around you had little to no value for those whom you worked for was as wry as seeing your soldiers die.
* * *
I wouldn't be me if I didn't kill off at least half of them, now would I?
Oh, and I'll ask just because I know nobody will bother to go through the effort. If you have problems seeing the military squad, the characters, the abbreviations and military codes, the references, information that might be untrue, and you want to know more. Well, you can try asking. I might even make a list of organisations or characters, or fill in the information on any character/scene, but only provided that somebody wants to know.