III. The Mission
In all honesty, I believed that Grey's quarters had more weapon variety than the armoury. It was filled with weapons, but very few types; three variations of each type of weapon apparently, according to Elliot. I know very little about guns...
Lieutenant Ellis was there, preparing for the mission. She was issued an M16 rifle with many attachments; a forward grip, a torch, a red dot torch, a suppressor and some sort of scope. She was wearing snow camouflaged military clothes, with a union flag on the shoulder, and a pistol that was strapped to her right leg. When compared to the rest of the squad, she looked the most geared up. Her hair was tied into a tight bun, underneath a black beret which gave her a very sinister look. She ignored us completely.
As I looked around I saw Matt, who smiled at Elliot as he prepped his equipment, he wore a similar uniform to the lieutenant, but carried a smaller gun.
"It's an MP5" called Elliot, reading my mind. Matt nodded, and continued fiddling with his zip.
The third man, whom I recognised as the African man from the meeting room earlier, was also getting ready for the mission. Grey referred to him as Miles. I believed him to be of a higher rank than Lieutenant Ellis, based on the size of his gun. The gun was large and had a cylindrical magazine casing compared to the lieutenant's straight one, and had a chain of bullets clearly visible. Miles must have been very strong, as he carried it with little visible effort.
I looked at Elliot and saw him in his army outfit, I was surprised they had a uniform that would fit him, it was the same design as everyone else's except he had a navy blue band where the flag badge should have been. He was holding Grey's crossbow, and the leather belt with the bolts stood out slightly from the white uniform. He looked very grown up. I saw that grey had not changed his outfit, but was wearing a knee-length white hooded coat which had not been buttoned up, his tie was still not fastened, and his metal bracelet was clearly visible. His hood covered his hair, and partially covered his eyes I noted that Grey had his wooden rifle, his Mosin-Nagant, slung across his shoulder, the brown strap comfortably across his torso. He may not have looked like a soldier, but he did look like he knew what he was doing.
I expected Miles to address Elliot as we left, instead Lieutenant Ellis did. She had an angry look in her eye. She approached Elliot and whispered in his ear.
"This is my team, and you are not part of it. You are here because the cyborg freelancer wants you to. You are his responsibility, and are not my problem. Understand?" she hissed cruelly. With that, she ordered the team to move out, she even received a "yes, ma'am" from Miles, confusing my understanding of authority aboard the ship.
We made our way to the top deck of the ship, where we had never been before; there I could see three helicopters, ready to lift off. I looked around to see around the ship, all I could see was ocean in every direction. The ship didn't seem to have a top at all, only flat, like a landing pad. The team split up into two, The Lieutenant, Matt and two other soldiers headed to the first chopper. Miles, Grey, Elliot and I, all headed to the second. The choppers were small, but were quite comfortable. As a crewman shut the doors, I could barely hear the rotors spinning above us. Grey and Miles were quiet, which mad e me wonder if they got on at all. It wasn't until we were in the air that Elliot finally spoke.
"Grey, while we were in the armoury earlier...leftenant Ellis, she called you a Cyborg." He said, he asked cautiously, and very politely. I admit that I was curious as well.
"Did she now?" Replied Grey thoughtfully. "How interesting..." Grey no longer appeared focussed on Elliot, and did in-fact look directly at me. Unlike the way Ms. Atkinson looked at me, Grey looked right into my eyes making me feel very uncomfortable indeed. Miles looked at Grey casually, and cleared his throat.
"I think you will find that that information is classified. Even Captain Atkinson isn't allowed access to Grey's personal files." He warned. His voice was aged, like his face. He must only be in his forties, but he appeared to be quite battle hardened. The way he held himself, the scars on his arms and face showed a well seasoned soldier.
Now fully aware again, Grey shook his head slightly, to reset his senses.
"Don't worry Mr. warrant officer, he can handle it." Grey said condescendingly. "Elliot deserves to know more about the man who is protecting him from harm."
"He is only a kid, a fourteen year old." Argued Miles, I was surprised with how he spoke to Grey; Grey had such high authority, and was now being questioned by a petty warrant officer.
"I was twelve when I killed my first man." Grey announced confidently. "All Elliot needs is a little explanation.
"Your call Grey, I'm only saying that you should be careful with classified information." frowned Miles.
"Elliot, you should know that I am not entirely human." Grey said, apologetically. "I am in fact, partly artificial."
"Robotic, to use a better term" interrupted Miles.
"I had an unfortunate accident whilst on an important mission, I survived, barely. The Doctors and scientists had to give me a second heart, replace some of my brain, one of my lungs, a kidney and an eyeball with artificial technology. Normally that would be ridiculously expensive costing millions. However, they believed I was worth it. I am however the only one to survive the cybernetic surgery, all other subjects died, painfully."
"You are unique?" Elliot asked.
"I like the term prototype, but yes, I am indeed unique. I'm not just alive; I also have a few abilities that make me very special indeed." Grey smiled. "I can use my own brain as a hardware interface with other computers, allowing me full control of the systems through touch alone."
"I don't understand. How is that possible?" Frowned Elliot, confused, understandably.
"How it works is ridiculously complicated, all you need to know, is that I am able to mentally control electrical signals to manipulate technology through physical contact. A very useful skill now technology is advancing." Grey admitted.
We were interrupted by Lieutenant Ellis over the radio.
"Everyone, remember the mission objective; clear the base of hostiles, and recover any data on the Predators you can." she informed. "Estimated arrival time is twenty-thirty-four local time. Ellis out."
The radio call seemed to humour Grey, as he smiled and chuckled under his breath.
"The Predators?" enquired Elliot. "Why are we hunting animals?"
It was a valid question; I assumed that it was military code for something, enemy most-likely.
"The Predators are a pirate gang, mercenaries that are responsible for Ms. Atkinson's disappearance. We don't yet know why they want her." Grey replied, looking down at his watch. "We have arrived."
The chopper landed quickly and smoothly, we exited into a clearing in a dense forest, the trees and ground were covered in snow and the air was filled with the scent of pine. The sky was dark, but I could still see clearly. Lieutenant Ellis was wearing a set of green goggles, which resembled binoculars – night vision. The teams mind set seemed to have completely changed the moment we landed, everyone – even Grey was silent and focussed.
As a team we made our way through the forest, it was silent and eerie. Sounds of life could be heard everywhere, but none of it human, the occasional hooting of an owl filled the air with suspense. Grey placed his hand on Elliot's back, and whispered in his ear. "we are not alone" At first I thought he said it just to scare us, but the closer to the compound we got, the more convinced I was that he was right.
We began to climb upwards, up a steep incline on the hill, the ground was stony and I could spot large boulders around, we were on a mountain. As we reached the top of the incline, we came to a road; we had three directions; use the road, and go up or down the mountain, or continue up a second incline. Ellis gestured us to get down, she seemed deep in thought.
"Grey, do you know where that incline will lead?" she asked quietly, quietly was unlike her.
"It leads upwards, Ellis" Replied Grey sarcastically, he meant it harshly, but I was humoured by it.
"Grey, this is no time for petty rivalry." She hissed. This seemed to anger Grey.
"Show some respect leftenant." snapped Grey bitterly. Grey really emphasised Ellis's rank, it made me question Grey's history with the military.
"Yes, sir." She confessed. She stepped back, allowing Grey to stand in her place. He took a quick look around, and made up his mind quickly.
"Ellis, Miles and Adams, head up the road here." He said authoritatively, indicating one of the soldiers, and pointed to the road path heading upwards. "Errol and Moor, you remain here on lookout. I will take Brown and head up the incline and cover you from the ridge."
The team broke up accordingly; Grey showed exceptional leadership despite his age. I was impressed. Ellis's team made their way up the hill, leaving Matt and the second soldier at the edge of the woods, barely visible in the darkness of the trees.
Elliot and I followed Grey up the slope, keeping a metre or so behind. Grey reached the top, and scoped around using his Mosin-Nagant. Grey beckoned us to come up; he lay there, partially submerged in snow, staring down the barrel of his rifle. Elliot crawled to his side, from this position we could see the compound, the guard post, and the courtyard between them. The compound was built into the mountainside; it had a large visible exterior, like a concrete wall where the side of the mountain should be, with four floors visible. I could see many guards, on all levels including the entrance. The courtyard was empty, but had many places that could be used for cover. The guard tower was the main threat; it contained three men, a searchlight, a siren, and a large machine gun.
From the ridge, I could see Lieutenant Ellis's team to our left, taking cover a short distance from the guard tower. They were safe, as long as they didn't try to pass through the gate. The gate was between the Guard tower and the mountain, and a very high wall on the other side. The gate was the only way into the courtyard. They were stuck for options.
"This could be...problematic." Whispered Grey, he then sighed quietly. He reached for his radio. "Ellis, we are not equipped for an assault on a fortress."
"We have to proceed with the mission, how many men you can see?" she replied, her voice was broken up by interference.
"Twelve. Three in the tower, two outside the entrance, one above it, three guards on the second floor at three, two and twelve 'o'clock, on the third floor there is a heavily armed guard on his radio, and there are two snipers on the top floor, one at one 'o' clock and the other on the far side, in the window."
Grey was right. I was impressed by his excellent eyesight, it was dark and the snowy weather was very hard to see through. He saw them purely on his own, without heat or night vision goggles. I wondered if his artificial eye gave him an edge at all, or if he was that good naturally.
"We have two options; I could either eliminate the armed guard, raising the alarms and emptying the soldiers into the courtyard. This will clear the building of hostiles, but would put you at serious risk." Grey admitted. "The second option is to take out the guards systematically and clear the exterior of guards. That leaves you to deal with the soldiers inside, in close quarters."
"Are you giving me a choice, sir?" buzzed the radio; Lieutenant Ellis's voice was barely recognisable.
"Grey, how can I understand her, but not recognise her?" I asked.
"Because, I designed the system to register words spoken, over the voice they were spoken by." He replied, he turned his head to face me, and looked right into my eyes. This aroused Elliot.
"You can see Ben? How is that possible?" He exclaimed, possibly too loud for the situation.
"Shhh! Keep it quiet." He hushed. "I have been aware of your condition since the moment we met."
"Condition?" quizzed Elliot
"Elliot isn't sick" I argued, quietly - of course.
"No, on the contrary, he is very special." Said Grey, He promptly shook off the conversation. "But we must re-focus on the task at hand. I will answer all your questions later."
With the absence of a working radio, Grey had to make a quick decision, and he did. He cocked the bolt on his rifle, lifting it, drawing it forward, and returning it. He took aim, and fired. The shot created a deafening bang, causing a ringing in my ears, it travelled at an incredible speed, smashing the window glass on the third floor, impaling the heavy-duty guard. The alarm sounded.
Like clockwork, the Predator guards emptied out of the base, lining up in the courtyard. Grey, with lightning reflexes shifted the bolt to reload, firing off a second, then a third bullet to deal with the snipers on the fourth floor. Accurate and effective, Grey was able to eliminate two out of three of the guards in the tower. The third locked onto our position, and using the machine gun, started to fire in our direction.
"Go! Back down the hill now!" Grey yelled. I didn't have time to react, Grey rugby tackled Elliot to protect him from any bullets, and we were now rolling down the hill. Tree stumps, and boulders hit us as we tumbled down the slope, it was higher than I realised. We finally hit the concrete road at the bottom. Elliot was virtually unharmed, a few scrapes, and he held his arm loosely, but he seemed to look comfortable. Grey was less lucky, I could see by the bullet holes in his coat that he had taken a few hits, the blood stains only confirmed it. His face was dirty, and had a large crescent shaped wound in his left cheek, bleeding heavily. His leg looked injured, but looked straight, so it may not be broken.
Elliot fell to Grey's side, and rolled him onto his back. Coughing, Grey moaned, he was in severe pain.
"I'll get that bastard!" He spluttered, spitting a mouthful of blood onto the white snow. "I'll do it!"
Grey reached for his Mosin-Nagant, growling, and clutching his chest with his spare hand. He picked himself up, using his rifle as a crutch. Cursing under his breath, he limped to the roadside, and entered the darkness of the wood, where we had left Matt and the soldier – they were not there.
"Grey, you are really hurt." I said sympathetically. "You should rest."
"No kidding, I will heal and repair myself quickly. Give me a few seconds to calculate repairs..." He protested. He closed his eyes, and the lights on his metal cuff illuminated slightly. His eyes started to look in many different directions under his eyelids, as of looking for something in his mind, occasionally he would frown and relax again. "Three bullets to the torso, back to front, one in left scapular, one impacted third rib, breaking it. Fourth and fifth bullets impacted left calf muscle, through and through. Three ribs broken, two cracked. Right radius broken, right clavicle chipped. Left wrist has grade two sprains."
At the last listed injury, Grey frowned again and rotated his neck, clicking it. He then opened his eyes.
"I should be ready to fight again in a few minutes." He growled. He reached for his radio. "Ellis, I want a status report."
"Grey! You did brilliantly, but Adams is KIA. We are holding, but will not be able to hold ground for long; I'm running low on ammunition." She cried. She sounded desperate.
Grey stood readily, reloading his rifle. He looked at me, then at Elliot.
"They need us back there; they may die without our intervention." He insisted. "We must go back there. But before we do, I need to make sure you are aware Elliot – you may need to kill someone."
Grey lowered his head in shame, even with his knowledge and experience; he had no idea of how to be subtle. Elliot walked up to him, and stood opposite, and slowly loaded his crossbow. At the sound of the infamous click, He looked up at Grey. As their eyes met, Grey smiled.
"Let's go and save those useless marines!" He laughed. With that, he turned and marched off – Elliot close behind. I was then I felt disconnected from Elliot, for the first time in my life, I felt that he didn't need me anymore.
The road opened out slightly, the guard tower directly in front of us. He took cover behind the gate pillars. I could see Ellis's team at short distance across the courtyard, in a thick fire-fight; they were bunkered down behind a broken wall defence. Grey bolted his rifle, and with superhuman speed and accuracy, leant out of cover, aimed, fired and returned to cover. The shot echoed with distinct sound, ringing through the air, perforating a Predator guard from flanking Miles.
Catching Ellis's attention, she ducked behind the wall segment and looked in our direction. Even from that distance, I could see her smile.
Grey bolted his rifle again, and stepping out of cover, he sprinted to Ellis's wall segment, taking cover behind it. Looking up, he fired off another shot, killing a Predator by Miles and Matt.
Elliot seized this opportunity to sprint over to Grey and Ellis. He ran over, firing off his crossbow as he ran. The bolt missed his target, but jammed another's gun, preventing it from firing – saving Matt from harm.
"Nicely done, Elliot." Grey Applauded. "No death necessary, very good indeed."
He raised his head to look around, switching to his pistol, throwing his rifle back on its strap. He cocked the hammer back and stood up, exposing himself to the enemy – he fired.
The last Predator was down, but not dead, his leg had a gaping wound which already looked unclean. Grey approached him and clasped him tightly round the neck, causing him to gag slightly.
"Where is Ms. Atkinson?" Grey demanded maliciously, his voice was dark and determined.
"B-but-t..." He spluttered violently.
"Grey!" I screamed. I was scared of the pain he was inflicting on the unarmed Predator. He looked at me swiftly, and promptly released him, realising his mistake. He stood, and turned away. Instead, Elliot knelt down beside the Predator.
"What is your name, soldier?" He asked compassionately. He did not reply, he only coughed, and spat some blood on the ground. "Was Ms. Atkinson ever here?"
The Predator looked up at Elliot, his eyes like a hyenas' staring down its prey. Elliot appeared unnerved, keeping a straight face.
"Answer me please" Elliot advised, His voice sounded similar to Grey's. I looked around at Ellis, who appeared to want to intervene. Grey had his hand blocking her, stopping her, he was happy to observe Elliot's method.
"Last chance, soldier." Elliot warned. The soldier appeared amused at this, giggling to himself. As he was distracted, Elliot took a bolt off of his belt, and as swift as Grey ever could, stabbed it into the soldier's leg wound. The soldier yelped like a sick dog, cursing aggressively. I was impressed by the way Elliot dealt with him, it may not have been the kindest of methods, but he did so fairly. He had grown up a lot during this trip.
"You lil' shit; I'd kill you for that!" The soldier spat. "You've spent too long with these animals. They've turned you into one of 'em".
"I gave you chance!" Argued Elliot, I was impressed with his authority. "Now, where is Ms. Atkinson?" He said calmly.
"Go to hell!" The soldier yelled, turning his head away from Elliot.
"Have it your way." Elliot replied harshly. He grabbed the bolt and wrenched it from the soldier's leg, causing him to writhe in pain. "He is all yours, Grey." He stated, disappointed.
"He is wasting our time. Miles, Errol, Keep him company and see what you can learn – keep watch." He replied, stepping over the soldier to reach Elliot. Signalling Ellis to lead the way into the base, He placed his arm around Elliot.
"I think you did a very good job with that guard. I would have killed him outright." Grey admitted, he sounded genuinely concerned for his actions. "You were very adult, and showed great potential as a leader – you were fair, but were harsh when necessary. I am very impressed."
"Thank you, Grey. That means a lot." Replied Elliot, pleased at his accomplishment. Grey broke off, and raised his pistol. Together, we walked into the compound.
December 18th 1628
it appears Craon's experiment was a success. I can finally hold a pen in my hand and write, he has been fantastic, and I can never repay him for his effort. The watch looks beautiful; I shall carry it always to commemorate my birthday.
I can't help but feel saddened by Adela's death. I spent seventeen years with her, to see her life cut so tragically short. But Craon was able to save me, and I cannot blame him for feeling responsible.
Craon said he will hold a service for her tomorrow; it is a shame that no one will be there to send her off. Well, other than me.
I am struggling to compartmentalise... I still feel the same, but everything is different. I can smell the air, I can feel the cold wintery weather, and I can finally speak to the people who have been part of my life, yet have had no idea I was ever there. It is tricky, trying to be the new member of the village and know everyone perfectly well, and making out I don't. It is not the way I want to be.
Learning to fight is harder than I expected it to be. I learned all of the techniques when Adela was learning, but only now am I able to physically practice. I have found however, that I am a natural talented marksman. I finished my crossbow today, a solid oak miniature crossbow. Craon is very impressed by my skill, seeing that it has only been one month since I was brought fourth.
I don't quite understand yet how Craon was able to do it. Using the pocket watch's ticking sound to channel my essence into normal reality? Is that how he explained it? I cannot remember...