Chapter 16: A Maternal Sight

The Assassin led us through the Seeker base. It was smaller than HQ, with only ten levels and no underground compartments. The security was also lax as there were only a few dozen active agents at any given time.

As our group walked by, we were given many curious glances by the agents and civilian workers alike.

I felt a bit uncomfortable with the attention, but I held my head high and ignored them.

Agent Fear led us to an unoccupied conference room in the south end of the building, and gestured all of us to take a seat. We did so slowly as we all dreaded the topic at hand.

There was coffee already prepared in the center of the table. Eagerly, my team and I poured ourselves the wakening drink. It offered some comfort from the sober air we inhaled.

The Assassin stood at the front. "Shortly after your mission briefing with the Head Warrior, he contacted Predator and I to be put on standby should any situation that could compromise your mission arise. However, I prefer to be fully part of the mission rather than used as back up."

Predator snorted. "Yeah, that's because he practically lives off of the adrenaline rush."

A light echo of chuckles ruptured the uneasy silence of the room.

The Assassin ignored the comment, and continued. "I've be hearing rumors surrounding that place for months. It has a bad reputation. I gathered any information I could off of my contacts, and I've discovered something truly remarkable."

I think the other agents and I literally leaned forward on our seats as we prepared to hear whatever news the Assassin could have possibly had. I then understood why he was added to the team: his knowledge of the lab would certain help out

Fear looked at each and every one of us intensely. "As far as we can tell, the base is indeed abandoned. We have had reports throughout the years of several captured civilians and Seeker agents being taken, we assume to bases like this one, and coming out changed." Fear reached a gloved hand into his back pocket and drew out a data pad. "According to my sources, it is undoubtedly a cloning facility."

My eyes widened in disbelief. "The Phantoms were performing cloning experiments? No military power has fully mastered it yet. If the Phantoms have, then this completely changes everything we thought we knew of them."

The Assassin nodded. "Indeed. This is one of several reasons why it's vital to complete our mission."

I then looked at the group of agents, and took my time to carefully read their expressions. All of them had sober-like expressions on their faces, yet hidden underneath was an unbounded determination.

I caught Predator's eye which was unusually blank. He tried to smile, but ended up looking away.

I mentally questioned his behavior before turning to look at the Assassin. "The Head Warrior said that we would be the only agents assigned to this operation. I take it that you've already scouted out the objective point?"

Agent Fear nodded. "It's clear, though that could be a completely different story once we're inside," he answered.

I bit my cheek in displeasure.

"If it is still occupied, we'll be ready," Agent Olsen stated.

Agent Predator grunted in agreement, while I nodded.

I then downed the rest of my coffee, and stood up. "Let's start this operation." I said.

The Assassin studied me thoroughly as he looked for any signs of incertitude or reluctance.

When he found none, Fear nodded his head, and gestured towards the door we came from. "I'll drive."

With that, my team and I made our way back to the van, each of us deep in our own train of thought.

Once we got inside the vehicle, the Assassin immediately set out to the main road.

For the first time since we've arrived, I finally took the time to take in the magnificent view of Rome. It was indeed a very beautiful city that held centuries' worth of human accomplishments and traditions.

I found myself smiling for a moment as I allowed myself to daydream.

All too soon, we arrived at the location of the Phantom lab. Fear parked the van in an abandoned alleyway a block away, and stopped the car.

With the hum of the engine gone, we all got out and studied our surroundings.

"Alright." I said which brought everyone's attention on me. "We know our mission parameters, so we will execute them with no delays and no hesitation. If you encounter any hostiles, do notface them alone. It's better to be safe than sorry. Gizmo will stay on the surface to maintain communications, so use his skill to your advantage. We're not alone in this."

The nodding of my teammates brought me a sense of confidence.

I rolled my shoulders subconsciously. "As we saw on the map, there was a large area several levels down. If the rumors are true, then we can now safely assume that that is the cloning facility. We will split up into small groups to investigate. If you find anything worthwhile, contact me. Any questions?"

When no one spoke up, I took that as an initiative and led the way to the abandoned building.

Once we arrived, the Assassin led us to a side door. He expertly undid the lock, and opened it wide. "Ladies first," he said in a joking manner.

I gave him a dry look before I stepped into the compact darkness within.

Inside there was no light. From the looks of it, it seemed that Fear was right about the place being abandoned, yet something didn't sit right with me.

Fear was next to come in and he made his way towards the access elevators.

One by one, we all filed in and eventually joined the Assassin.

Said person took out one sharp blade and sliced at a piece of the far side from the elevator. Not long afterwards, a decent portion of material fell to the ground and revealed a tight passageway.

A feeling of unease filled me. "It's tighter than I'd like." I commented.

The Assassin nodded as he secured his blade around his leather belt. "The power is down, so we can't use the elevator. Even if it wasn't, we don't want to go through the front door. We'll be using the ventilation ducks. As you said, it's better to be safe than sorry."

I nearly groaned at the fact.

I then looked up at the Assassin. "You owe me a drink." I remarked sarcastically.

He chuckled as I got down to my knees and began crawling through the tight hole.

Once I was securely on the other side, I was able to stand in the low ceiling, and saw a service ladder leading downwards. I shook away all remaining thoughts of doubt, and positioned myself correctly. I then expertly slid all the way down.

After what seemed like several minutes, I finally reached the bottom.

I was met with an incredibly thick darkness that I wasn't sure if even my flashlight could penetrate through it. I cautiously walked through the abyss, and felt my hand connect to a wall.

I took out my flashlight and it illuminated a small corridor. On the right side was a pair of doors with round windows in their center.

Curiously, I walked over to them and looked through. On the other side was an operating room. What caught my attention were the various body parts floating aimlessly in a clear liquid.

Violent shivers assaulted my body, and I quickly suppressed the urge to vomit.

Delta was the next person down.

He appeared to be a bit disoriented at first, but seemed to have adjusted his vision to the dominating darkness despite our combined flashlights.

Eventually, the other agents came down, followed by Fear who brought out a data pad and began looking through it. "I've got a map of the facility. We're in the south end of it. If we continue down this hallway, we will be in the main area."

We made our way towards the door and went into a large area that had posters of humanity's purification.

I snarled quietly as I thought of the stupidity and arrogance of the very implication.

I shook my head, and I focused my flashlight on my group which illuminated their pale faces. They all blinked as they adapted to the sudden light.

"All right, this is the part where we split up. I want to run a full sweep of this place. Our goal is to find any valuable data, and then blow this place out of existence. Remember to stay in constant communication. Move out!"

We all split up as we took different paths through the narrow lined up hallways.

I ventured into the farther one where there was a dim light that illuminated the otherwise dark area.

Where I was, there were two rows of wide containers that were filed along the walls. When I walked through, a tight knot formed in my gut. Whatever happened here, it was not pretty at all.

I placed my finger over my earpiece and activated it. "Testing out the comm. channel; can anyone read me?"

"Loud and clear boss." Gizmo replied.

"Seconded." Elvira stated.

"I hear you alright." Predator answered. "I'm with Fear in one section, can't tell which one. There's a lot of containers here."

"I'm seeing them here too. What about you Elvira; do you see any containers?" I asked.

"Affirmative." She replied. "What do you want us to do?"

"Don't touch them." I ordered. "We have no idea what is in there."

"Roger that." She confirmed.

I continued with my inspection of the area when I heard particularly loud breathing coming from Predator's mic. "Are you alright Pred?" I asked with slight concern.

"Yeah, sorry boss." He answered. He continued to breathe heavily.

A feeling of concern filled me. "Are you sure? Do you need to go back to the surface?"

"No, no, I'm good. I'm not gonna let some bad nightmares get the best of me." He replied forcefully.

Confusion took a hold of me as I wondered what he meant by his statement. "Alright then." I simply said.

With that, I shut off my mic and resumed my inspection. I got shivers from a combination of the cold air, and the thought of what happened in here. This was a place of suffering.

I came across a table full of various papers. I picked one up, and glanced through it.

The contents were about possible changes to human anatomy that could increase a person's natural strength and resistance.

I carefully folded it and placed it inside of my jacket. I was certain that our scientists would be more than fascinated in studying it.

I then read another paper, although its content caused me to pay closer attention to it. It read: Subject 32A died early this morning. The cause was a fatal brain hemorrhage that was provoked immediately after mental manipulation attempt. The subject's death was the fourth this week. Internal workings are too strict for outside influence.

I blinked in amazement of what the paper stated. I placed it in my jacket as well.

Wanting to learn more about the Phantoms' experiments, I gathered as much as I could and placed them within the safety of my jacket.

One sheet accidently fell to the floor.

As I picked it up, I glanced through it. It read: Procedure with Subject 18G was successful. Not much mental stimulation was needed to convert ideologies. It was a first success after several attempts. Subject 18G will be placed in the Seeker ranks, and will be used to monitor their inside work.

My eyes widened at the implication. This was actual proof that Phantom spies were among the Seekers. No wonder the Head Scout and the Director's wife were assassinated so easily.

"Agent Moore, do you read me?" Elvira asked.

Her interruption caused me to jump.

I snapped myself into attention, and quickly placed the last document within my jacket. "Go ahead Elvira."

"I found some particularly interesting documents regarding the tests that were done here. I believe that our scientists will find them worthwhile to study."

I momentarily contemplated on the information. "Excellent work. Take them."

"Will do." She replied.

I once again shut off my mic, and continued to walk down the row of containers.

A certain container caught my attention as there was a red note posted on it. Curious, I lifted it to my view, but only saw numbers that held no comprehension for me.

I looked up and began to study the structure. Through the thick frost that coated the glass, I could faintly pick out the details of what appeared to be a woman with dark hair flowing through the vital water.

I heard a slight gasp from behind me which was then overpowered by a deep growl.

I turned around and saw Delta looking at the same container as me with an air of confusion.

I cautiously spoke. "Delta, what's wrong?"

The Guardian continued to stare unblinkingly at the wide container for several more minutes. "That's…that's my mother." He finally replied in complete disbelief.