The world is known for its' complications and broader aspects. Hardships and struggles teem throughout the world, stagnantly engulfing innocent humans, overwhelming them with sadness and sorrow, sometimes in immeasurable potency.
Friends made die, as everyone does sometime or another.
Torn from a home only vaguely known.
Harshly forced into the fields of war.
These qualities can only fit Jesse, one who, against all odds, attempts to cope with the hardships life has so cruelly placed upon him.
~Chapter One: Graduation~
Jesse is average.
At least, how most would describe him.
At seventeen years, he and his brother were ready to graduate from high-school.
That's when a monkey wrench is thrown into the ordeal. But, thank god, not now.
Jesse was tapping his finger against the arm of the chair impatiently. He couldn't wait to be awarded his diploma, after thirteen long years of wretched education. He wanted to be done with High-school, so he could actually do something with his life.
His brother, Jonas, was gleaming up on the stage, taking his diploma from the principal hand. "Speech! Speech! Speech!" The crowd cheered. Jonas was the most passionate person in the grade. Of course they wanted to hear from him.
"Alright, alright, calm down." He took a deep breath, and began his speech. "All through school, all we thought about was getting through the day to get home and play video games. Up to now, it was steadily becoming more than that. We finally aspired to do something interesting in our lives. Even so, we've already had our interesting moments right here in high-school."
He paused, and glanced over the crowd. "Most of you couples out there now are going to be with each other for the rest of your lives. If not that, the friends you've made are going to be with you. You at least have to carry something from your years here in your heart. Just remembering your time will do us all a favor."
He smiled, his white teeth shining in the light. Everybody clapped.
Not the best speech, Jesse thought, but what the hell. They bought it, didn't they?
Jonas turned and strolled off the stage and down the aisle, and sat next to his brother, who already had a sarcastic comment ready.
"Nice speech, Shakespeare." Jesse said with a laugh.
"Shut up." Jonas retorted. "It was the best I could do."
"Ah, well, nothing I can do about it, I guess."
"And next for the diploma, Jesse Hardy!"
Jesse grinned, walking up the aisle to retrieve his diploma, which was adorned with a red ribbon and a signature.
The crowd cheered, and Jesse held it up.
Nothing can go wrong now, Jesse thought.
At that moment, he didn't realize how wrong he was.
~Chapter Two:That One Car~
Jesse gazed down to the diploma is his lap.
He had finally done it. He graduated. He rubbed his eyes.
He hadn't expected it come so easy.
"Do you ever plan on getting up? We have somewhere to go, you know." Jonas said.
Jesse heaved a sigh, getting up off the bench. He didn't really see the point of Hannah's party.
Seriously, a high-school party after high-school is over?
He rolled up the diploma and put it in his jacket pocket.
Jonas walked into the street, and looked up at the street light.
It shone radiantly down on to his face.
Jesse started walking, Jonas following suit.
Just another block, Jesse thought.
He heard a screech of tires ahead, as Death reared its' ugly head.
It was then Jonas realized that they were jaywalking.
The car was charging at Jesse.
To Jesse's eternal disgrace, Jonas made the right choice.
Jesse stood, paralyzed. Jonas felt a surge of energy in his legs.
He closed the gap between him and Jesse in what seemed like a flash.
He shoved Jesse away, and the headlights did not slow their advance.
Jesse squeezed his eyes shut.
When he opened them, he didn't see anything left of Jonas.
He took a sharp, painful breath.
The car was jammed into a tree, the engine faintly running.
The purr of the engine was the only sound that arrived to Jesse's ears.
The car had swerved, making the headlights flood over Jonas.
Jesse averted his eyes, not daring to look at his brother.
He had a vague feeling that it wasn't a sick dream.
He heard a siren in the distance, coming slowly closer.
Jesse closed his eyes again, hoping when he opened them once more, they wouldn't be staring at the same environment.
~Chapter Three: The Dream~
Jesse opened his eyes. He saw a broken light fixture swaying above him.
He sat up and looked around. He was in a hospital, no doubt, but there was something off.
The walls had blood splattered over them. He got off the gurney he'd been laying on.
Throughout the hall, there were more gurneys. With more bodies, only dead.
"This is probably just a well planned prank," Jesse said out loud, "Too unrealistic."
Slowly, but surely, he walked down the hall, avoiding the bloody gurneys.
He heard a shuffle in the next hallway, and placed his back against the wall, tilting his head over to see.
There he saw a man in a bloody hospital gown, who had somebody pinned on the ground.
Jesse couldn't see the one pinned, until he heard the voice.
It was too memorable to not recognize.
"G-gah-- Get the hell off me!" Jonas shouted.
"Jonas!" Jesse yelled.
"J-Jesse!" He called back. "Help!"
Then, the figure brandished a butcher knife, and instantaneously slit Jonas's throat.
Jonas stopped struggling, his arms falling limp.
The man laughed as he was getting up and turning to Jesse.
His butcher knife was wet with fresh blood.
He started walking to Jesse.
Without second thoughts, Jesse turned around and ran, navigating the ruined hallways.
He tried every door he could see, but none worked.
After a while of running, he turned around.
No man, no mouse, no indication that anything around was alive.
It seemed that he'd been running for months. He took a breath, and turned back around.
The man was suddenly there, holding his knife up.
Jesse finally got a good look at his face.
In fact, it wasn't a face.
A bloody lump of skin ridden with deformities.
He saw the knife flying at him from the left.
He closed his eyes, and opened them once more, many seconds later.
He was again looking at the ceiling, which held a light fixture. This one lit.
"He's awake!" A voice called.
He sat up, but stinging pains in his arms kept him down.
"Wh-what-- where am I?" He asked.
"You're in a hospital." A voice told him matter-of-factly.
He saw a man in a green suit in the room.
He looked like a general. An Army general.
"Wh-who are you?"
"Ah. That's right. I know you, but you don't know me. Just call me Sir. Got it?"
"You're required to serve in the army."
"Hold on here. What? Why?"
"Your bother. Jonas. He applied, but he died. We need a close relative."
For a second, the man from his dream's face flash over the generals', and his head started aching.
"Are you okay, Private?" The General asked.
"Y-yeah...Why am I here now?"
"Coma. Disease. I don't know, you had something."
"But...I was unharmed..."
"Says you. Check the calendar."
Jesse turned his head, and saw a calendar.
September, 13th, 2011.
"Holy shit!" He exclaimed, shocked.
"Yeah, Private, been asleep for months."
Jesse's headache tensed.
"So...itinerary on the war?"
"I'm starting to like you. Straight to the briefing, you." He smiled.
"Ah, well, I take things in fast. Continue."
"You know the Iraq war has been going on for ages now, no?"
"We're short on troops. That's where you come in."
Jesse sighed, but let him continue.
"We've gained intelligence that the Iraqi are using...rather different technology and weaponry than us. You are needed to investigate. Perfect stealth mission for a rookie."
"Alright, I guess I have no choice."
"Aright then. Come on. The birdie is leaving soon."
The nurse intervened their exit.
"Je-Jesse," She said, fumbling over her speech, "We spotted s-somethin-ing ab-abno-ore-rmal on your bra-ai-in r-readings."
Failing to comprehend her sentence, Jesse smiled. "Thanks for the encouragement!"
"N-no..that's--..." She couldn't finish. Private and General left.
She cursed herself for not taking the speech class when she was younger.
~Chapter Four: First Day in the Field~
After leaving the hospital, Jesse and 'Sir' took a helicopter to their Iraq camp.
"That sure was fast." Jesse observed upon arrival.
"No shit, Private, we're Military."
There was a tent that stood out in the somewhat dark camp.
"There is the Private's Quarters."
"We're all lumped together?"
"Well, Corporals too. And there's only one General in this camp, so I get a smaller tent."
He began to walk away, but turned around.
"Nobody is ever to know of this camp. We have Secret Ops going from here, defying government orders."
Jesse nodded. He didn't dare think of the consequences.
He walked into the Private's tent.
"Finally!! We get another!" somebody cheered.
"Um...hi..." Jesse said. He didn't know what to say to guys with guns. And he didn't mean those guns. The ones you kill people with.
After a while of getting to know everybody, which was about 6 people, he found a cot to sleep in.
"FIRST ASSIGNMENT!" Barked 'Sir'.
Jesse awoke groggily, rubbing his eyes.
"Every Private, in the buggy!" He ordered.
Everybody snapped and jumped into the buggy, and Jesse reluctantly followed.
"Uh, yeah, I'm a rookie, don't I get a little, like, training?" Jesse asked.
The General looked him over. "There is no time, Private!" He barked.
"If you can lift a rifle, you don't need training."
The General tossed a gun in his direction.
Jesse caught it.
".303 Hail Rifle. Rapid-fire weapon. Red dot sight installed." 'Sir' recited.
Jesse rubbed the barrel in awe. The first gun he'd ever held.
The buggy started and catapulted forward with no warning.
Jesse put the strap over his shoulder, the constant bumping of the buggy making it difficult.
He sighed. This meant he'd have to take human life. He was against it, if anything.
He closed his eyes. He remembered Jonas, and how full of life he was.
He must've fell asleep and started dreaming.
The buggy swerved, awaking Jesse in the rudest fashion possible.
He rubbed his head, and the General started shouting orders.
"Jones! Flank their right! Hardy! Go straight in the middle and pray you don't get hurt, when I order you. Gonzales! Flank their right!
Jesse looked over at the field. Bullets sprayed over the field, twanging off the metal wide stands that provided cover for the two soldiers already there. One tried shooting, but was quickly killed.
Jesse sighed, and held the gun tightly.
He jumped off the buggy, his boots scattering up sand. Sand? He thought. I thought Iraq was a non-desert place. I must be wrong.
He slid behind the cover adjacent to his General's before he got shot.
He waited for the General's order. Jones and Gonzales approached from the sides, and started unloading on the Iraqis.
The General made a swift hand motion, gesturing him forward.
Jesse emerged and ran straight while they were distracted. He aimed, but his sight shook. He couldn't do it. Instead, he knocked them out by banging his gun butt on their helmets.
"Private! Why didn't you shoot?"
"Sorry...I'm still a little mixed on taking human life."
"Well then, get over it fast!" He said, stomping on an Iraqi he knocked out. Jesse averted his eyes as the head was squished by his General's boot.
"So, the assignment?" Jesse asked.
"Glad you asked, Private. The Iraqis have a secret bunker where they produce their technology. We've been trying to attack it for months now. Maybe you'll change something."
The General handed Jesse an earpiece. Jesse slid it into his ear, and adjusted it slightly.
The General spoke into his sleeve, and his voice seemed to be right in his ear.
"Gonzales will be the scout, and Jones will follow when needed. Then you go, Private, and enter together with them. As the General, I'll stay outside and give orders."
Gonzales nodded. Jones nodded. They had earpieces too. Jesse assumed they were all on the same frequency for ease of contact.
Jesse sighed. This was going to be a hell of a day.
~Chapter 5: The Cavern~
When Gonzales called safe, Jesse followed, cover to cover, to avoid detection.
The bunker was a big stone formation, with an underground chasm of high-tech machinery.
At least it was how the General told him.
Gonzales whistled, and waved his hand.
Jesse proceeded once more.
Gonzales looked around for Iraqis, and placed a charge.
Jesse and Gonzales hid behind a close metal cover, and the charge detonated with a slight boom.
Jesse took the time to do a weapons check. On his leg, a machine pistol, and his belt, a few grenades and C4 charges, with an ammo cache.
He then caught up with Gonzales, who had crouched through the hole and was behind a door jamb.
He motioned for Jesse to open the door. A door inside a rock formation? Jesse thought, twisting the knob and pushing it free.
Inside was a cavern-like area, with a few tunnels opening up in front of them.
Gonzales pushed a button on his gun, and it illuminated the area ahead.
Ah. thought Jesse. Flashlight.
Almost immediately, there was a crack throughout the cavern.
Out of holes in the cavern's wall, insectlike creatures flooded the room.
Gonzales stood, dumbfounded. "Hardy! Fall back!" He called.
"They're bugs. What the hell can they do?" As if on cue, a creature jumped on his back and used bit down hard.
Jesse stepped back as Gonzales screamed in pain. Blood seeped from his wound as Gonzales fell.
Then the creature looked up and saw Jesse. It lunged at him, teeth bared. Jesse swung his gun and hit the creature with the butt of his rifle.
It crumbled as if made of stone. His mind drifted off Gonzales and looked to the crowd of creatures scurrying towards him.
He leveled the red dot sight on them, and pulled the trigger. Bright flashes of light shot out of his gun, hitting the creatures one by one. After about 3 dozen were dispatched, the gun clicked.
The last bullet clinked unceremoniously on the floor. The bugs were coming out more and more by the second. Jesse sighed, and thought rationally for once in the past 2 minutes.
I'm assuming Gonzales is dead, but there's no time for tears. The bugs keep storming out of their hidey holes by the second. How will I get through if they keep coming if I have no ammo?
Instinctively, his hand dropped to his belt. There was a grenade fastened to the side. He grabbed it off and examined it. It was an Impact grenade. He sighed in relief. He tossed it into the crowd, and it exploded. He ran through the smoke, avoiding sepping on any of the bugs, which were disoriented by the grenade smoke.
He then felt his body being yanked down, further into the earth.
~Chapter Six: Separation~
Jesse's vision faded in from black.
He looked around. He was in a prison cell.
The rust was peeling off the metal bars, drenched in fresh blood.
Dead bodies lay in the hall beyond.
I fell... He thought. How did I end up here?
He looked up. No hole.
His gun and his gear had gone, and he realized he was sitting on the cot.
He rose, tendons cracking. He walked towards the bars, and dragged his hand along the rust.
It crumbled immediately.
Jesse grasped the bar and pulled with all the strength.
The bar came free, showering him with rust and dried as well as fresh blood.
He stepped out of the cell into the hall.
The light flickered, making the hall only more haunting.
He walked through the hall, avoiding the bodies.
He reached the end, where there was a door.
He grabbed the knob, and placed his ear against the door, listening for the slightest sound.
Nothing. He pushed his weight against the door.
He scoped out the new room. It was a surveillance room. The room was a circle, and spread off into two separate hallways.
There were holes carved in to the wall, allowing prison personnel to view their captives.
In the middle was a ladder, leading both up and down.
He climbed the ladder to the top floor, which was another surveillance room. He heard a loud yell from a room.
He dismounted the ladder and strolled cautiously to the peephole to the room in which the sound came from.
He placed his eye against the door and looked in.
There was the man from the hospital, rather his nightmare, pulling out a man's innards and laughing contentedly.
Jesse looked at the late victim, and held back a gasp.
The light flickered.
When the light went out, Jesse lost the sight of the man.
When the light came on, the man was in front of the peephole.
Jesse fell back, and the environment burned away, changing into something different.
He heard a voice in his ear.
"Hardy! You there? Hardy!?" The General's voice intoned.
The environment finished changing, Jesse found himself underground.
He looked up. A hole, which was plugged by a large rock.
"Y-yeah. I'm here." Jesse said.
"About damn time. I was getting nervous that we'd lost a private or two."
"In one piece, I assure you."
"Killed in action."
"Can you make it back out?"
"Negative. The entrance is sealed."
"Try to find a way out."
The line started cackling.
"firetruck!" The General swore. "The Iraqi are on to us."
The line drowned out.
Jesse sighed and picked up his rifle.
He pushed a button on his gun, and it produced a light that illuminated the environment.
He was in a hall made of ceramic tile.
There was a keycard door ahead.
Shit. Jesse thought. I have to wait until an Iraqi comes through, so I can kill him and take his keycard.
Jesse dropped his head into his palm, ashamed for thinking about taking a life in such a manner.
But, that Iraqi wouldn't think twice about killing me. He thought in his defense.
He shrank against the wall aside the door.
For what seemed like hours, nothing came, but in reality it was only 3 minutes.
An Iraqi ran through the door. Jesse shot him in the back of the head.
Qualms ran through his head, such as God bless him. and such.
He took the soldiers' rifle ammo, and then the Keycard he carried.
Jesse then looked to the end of the hall, wondering why an Iraqi would come this way anyway.
Probably to kill me. Jesse thought. Nice to know people care.
He ran the keycard through the reader, and stepped in to the next room. Or, hallway.
For what seemed as ages, Jesse traversed the chasm to no avail.
No Iraqis had come to kill him yet. Strange.
He then found a door labeled "Science Chamber 01103", and ran his keycard.
"Access denied. Keycard barcode disabled upon request of General Brown. Initializing alarm..." A voice droned.
He then heard a door open behind him.
"Hands up, US Soldier." A voice ordered.
~Chapter 7: Inhospitable Hospital ~
Jesse sighed, turning around.
He saw Jonas. Jonas was standing at the end of the hall. Grinning as if to mock Jesse.
His eyes widened. Then a car flashed over his vision, and Jonas was replaced by a man with a cigar.
His head exploded with pain. He knelt over, his head in his hands.
"I said hands up." The General said, his voice thick with Iraqi accent, aiming a pistol at him.
"Gaaah." Was all Jesse could muster.
The General advanced slowly.
A voice speaking Arabic droned through his earpiece.
"Noma. Noma. Noma." The General said.
"Talatiko banna walitacoub?" He asked in Arabic.
"Telasha ara senia? Barama, arunasai kodolahugan nahol."
Naturally, Jesse didn't understand a word. He couldn't if he wanted to, with the headache that seared his brain.
"You're coming with me." He said to Jesse, punching him in the face.
Everything went black.
Jesse came to in a hospital bed, being pushed down the hall.
Several Iraqi men were shouting over Jesse.
"The General punched him that hard? Out for two days? I expected no less."
Jesse tried moving his hands, but they were bound by leather straps, as were his ankles.
"Ah, he's up! Yum cuna delasha ara senia aren!"
Jesse was brought into a well-lit room, under a large light machine.
"Hardy? Hardy. Can you hear me? Did we lose you again?" A voice droned in his ear.
"Don't talk, you'll alert the men around you. I'm glad they forgot the earpiece. Groan if you hear."
Jesse faked a pained groan.
"Ah. Good. I heard them talking. Thank god I took Arabic. They said "We can do the X-Rays now." I wonder what for.
The light above him flashed. "I know where you are. I'll guide your escape."
The line shuddered, and a new voice came on.
"I respectfully decline, General."
"Corporal Sisk! What the hell are you doing?"
"Relieving you of your guide duty. I'll take over."
The General sighed, which sounded like somebody was showering his mike with nails.
"Hardy, I've been to that hospital before. You're still in the underground chasm, just in a lower section."
Jesse coughed to let him know that he understood.
"First, you know the switchblade in your pocket? Check if it's there."
Jesse felt his pocket with the palm of his hand.
"I assume it is. Now take it out and cut the leather."
Jesse strained his hand into his pocket, and secured the switchblade between his index finger and his middle finger.
He dragged it out, flipped it to avoid it being seen, and started with a cutting motion.
After a minute and another flash, the leather gave way.
Jesse cleared his throat to let Sisk know that he cut the strap.
"Now, make it look like the wrist is still bonded. Transfer it to your other hand."
Jesse lifted his legs half an inch and flicked it under them. He put his index finger over the open blade and dragged it under his hand.
He grasped it and cut through the leather. Which, again, took another minute and another flash.
"Now, wait. When an Iraqi comes in to disable the machinery and take you out, dispatch him and cut through your ankle bondage."
He waited for another minute, and an Iraqi came in to turn off the device.
Jesse sat up and grabbed his lower arm. He twisted his wrist, and broke his arm. It took a lot of strength, and may soon cause an ache in his arm, but it worked.
The Iraqi was surprised, and his arm became his priority.
Jesse quickly cut through his ankle bondage and jumped off the gurney. The door opened, and shots fired at him. He ducked, grabbed the Iraqi with the broken arm, and held him in front of him as a shield. He put the switchblade to his throat and threatened.
"If anybody moves, he dies."
They all froze. Jesse reached into the Iraqi's holster and grabbed a pistol. He pointed it to the group of Iraqis at the door. He advanced slowly. When he was close enough, he pushed the Iraqi on them, and they fell like dominoes. Jesse jumped over them and ran down the hall.
"Good! I heard the commotion. Now find a way out!" Jesse didn't need an order to do that.
He stopped and shot the keycard reader to the door in front of him, and it opened. Jesse dashed through, and shot the keycard reader on the other side. The door began to malfunction, and began opening and closing like a motor powered horizontal guillotine.
Jesse took a look at the room he was in.
Rifles were being carried throughout on mobile racks.
Jesse took one, and looked it over.
It wasn't a normal weapon, that was sure enough.
Experimentally, Jesse shot the space in front of him.
A bullet didn't emerge like he had expected.
Instead is was a red, concentrated sphere of energy.
After about 70 feet, it dissolved.
"Corporal Sisk, come in. I think I've found some of the technology we're searching for."
~Chapter 8: Destroy the Facility~
Iraqis flooded the room from the other side, so Jesse ducked behind a panel.
One in the crowd spoke. "Jesse James Hardy." Jesse was shocked. How did he know his name?
Jesse peered over his cover to see him. He was a General. A tag on his chest read "Brown".
He tossed a folder toward Jesse. It landed behind Jesse.
"We have information on everybody in your army." Brown said.
"Jesse, ehm, Hardy you found it? Good. I assume you're surrounded now. Thank god they don't hear me."
Brown aimed his rifle at Jesse's cover.
"Mana Rifle, .989 Millimeters distance. Can drill through solid matter, and generate a temporary shield."
Brown smirked. "What you have is a lowly Burst Rifle, same as your Hail Rifle."
Brown pulled the trigger, and Jesse sprung from behind the panel to the next.
"Ah, don't be afraid." He said.
"Hardy. Kill him and take his Auger." Jesse recognized the word Auger. Code for "Rifle".
Jesse stood from behind his cover and shot the General's lackeys. He dipped back behind it as the General laughed.
"Mere Privates. Come on, shoot me. I Implore you."
Jesse heaved a breath.
When he stood back up to shoot Brown, he saw the man with the Butcher Knife from his nightmares standing there.
"What? Too afraid, Private?" He asked, taking steps towards Jesse. It seemed to him that the man was coming closer in flashes and not steps.
Jesse's headache came back, this time more potent.
He knelt down, and what looked like blood flooded his vision. He closed his eyes and opened them.
The blood that flooded his vision was gone, and a gun barrel was touching his forehead.
"That was too easy." He cackled.
Jesse batted down his headache and grabbed the gun barrel and pushed it away, at which point Brown had fired, and the bullet, or to be apt, sphere of yellow concentrated energy, strayed from target.
Jesse stood and kneed him in the stomach, and the General doubled over.
Jesse then kneed him the head, which sent him staggering back.
Jesse ripped the Mana Rifle from his hands and shot the General in the head.
The General fell slowly, as if the air turned to syrup.
"Heh. Good job." He managed to mutter, which surprised Jesse, since the General had a hole in his head.
The syrup lifted, and the General hit the ground instantaneously.
Jesse sighed, and took his rifle, discarding the one he had.
He took the General's keycard and exited the room, and he was out of the hospital, as it seemed, and in to a Science Chamber. On the wall read "Science Chamber 01103". The one he'd tried to enter.
There were bodies. Floating in tubes with green liquid.
"Sisk. I've found something."
"What is it?"
"I don't know...there are bodies floating in tubes."
"Are the tubes labeled?"
"Affirmative. Keep searching."
Jesse then found a memo pad. It was in Arabic script.
كما أمرت، قررت لمحاولة عملية التحويل. بطبيعة الحال، إلا أنها لا تعمل بشكل جيد جدا. لقد كسرت الهيئات لقد اختبرتمن أنابيب وهاجمني. وكان التحويل فقط لنجاح حريش قبو بمدني. سمعت انها تريد قتل بعض المشاة الامريكية وخاصةملف. ولا بد لي من مواصلة أبحاثي إذا أنا لمساعدة العراق في كسب هذه الحرب. أحاول الإنسان إلى شاحن الآن، وآملمن أعماق قلبي أنهم لا يذهبون المسعورة ومهاجمتنا. بعد كل شيء، يمكن أن يكون لدينا ورقة رابحة، فضلا عن سقوطدينا.
دكتور إبراهيم، أخصائي التحويل
"Sisk, I've found a memo pad." Jesse said.
"Really? You did? What does it say?"
"It's in Arabic. I can't read i--" He was cut off by a loud crash.
The tubes had broken, and large monkey creatures were dashing towards Jesse.
In desperation, Jesse hit a button on his gun and closed his eyes, preparing himself for the worst.
But he didn't feel any pain. He opened his eyes, and there was a yellow pattern in front of him like a turtle shell.
The monkeys were banging against it, infuriated of being separated from their prey.
Jesse took aim and tried shooting. The energy shot through the shield, killing the monkey.
He dispatched the other monkey, and the shield disintegrated.
He sighed in relief. They were dead.
Sisk sighed. "Hardy. Destroy the facility. Place Charges around it. Apparently we can't take any more chances.
"D-destroy it?" Jesse asked.
"Yes. It would raise our chances of winning this war. But first, you need to disguise yourself as in Iraqi."
Jesse sighed. "Fine. I'll do it. I'll destroy the facility."
~Chapter 9: Charges~
Then a thought struck Jesse.
"Where will I get these charges?"
"firetruck. I thought you picked some up in the weapons production room."
"No, I haven't."
"For firetruck's sake, think rationally. Pick up things you may need."
"Corporal, there weren't any charges in there anyway."
'Sir' cackled into the line.
"HARDY!" He barked through the mike, which sounded as if the microphone were going through a garbage disposal.
"THE CHARGES YOU NEED ARE IN THE ROOM LABELED CORPORAL WASTE!"
"Why the hell are you shouting at me?"
"Oh. Sorry. Force of habit." 'Sir' said.
Jesse was aghast. A war General apologizing?
"Room labeled Corporal waste, eh? First dress as an Iraqi, make sure he looks like you."
Jesse swiped his card through the reader, and it beeped.
The door slid open, and Jesse stepped through.
"Alright, let's blow off some heads." Jesse said.
He saw that Iraqis had already formed a block for him, some had rocket launchers.
"Oh, can't you guys play nice?" He asked, tapping the button on the gun to form a shield.
It deflected the rockets, which exploded on the side of the hallway.
Jesse emerged from the smoke, picking them off one by one.
He took a moment to lament deliberately taking human life in such a fashion.
He ran the card through the reader, which unveiled an empty hallway.
There were hallways branching from the one he was occupying.
"Dammit. Sisk. Which direction do I go?"
"Right, then a straight, then a left, and you should be at Corporal Waste."
"Alright. Gotcha." Jesse said, taking a right.
The Iraqi security was becoming lax, Jesse observed.
What, did they give up? Not likely, but possible. He thought, running through the hall..
He took the left, and as if on cue, more Iraqis.
Jesse smirked. He ducked to avoid their bullets and fired some of his own.
They fell to the ground slowly.
Jesse advanced to the corporal waste door.
He ran the card through the reader, and the door opened.
There was a goldmine of weaponry.
Jesse could not resist muttering "Damn,".
"Hardy, what do you see?"
"Tons of weaponry."
"Take the Charges."
Jesse didn't need to be told twice. He clipped them to his belt.
He planted one in the center of the room, set it for a half hour, and exited the room.
A voice blared on the loudspeaker.
"Aldrehnz ilakhmad, barijil, tol halsoul di Ameradrica!"
'Sir' was listening to the announcement.
"Hardy, he said, "Code Red, Men, Get the American!""
"Then, I'm screwed, aren't I?"
"If you weren't already." Sisk cut in.
"Now, dress as an Iraqi. Take somebody's army suit."
"Yeah, right after I accessorize myself." Jesse said, looking at his belt, which held 5 timed-charges.
Jesse looked at the dead bodies.
He took one into the Corporal Waste room and swapped suits, which was not enjoyable.
Thankfully, their suits came with helmets, so it would not be easy to tell it wasn't him.
"Hardy, plant one in the Science Chamber. Then in the Cell Hall. Then when you come up, in the cavern, cave them in."
"Alright, alright. But when I get out of here, I want to see some hallways made of materials other than stainless steel."
~Chapter Ten: The Third Party~
"Where do I place these charges?" The line replied with nothing but static.
"Dammit!" Jesse shouted. But no Iraqi had come. He heard gunshots come through the earpiece.
"Sisk! Are you okay?" No response.
"Listen to me, and listen good." A voice came from the other side.
"Um, okay." Jesse replied, even though he had many sarcastic comments ready, like My mommy told me not to talk to strangers.
"The first charge goes into the--" More gunshots. "Science Chamber X85."
"But Sisk said--"
"firetruck him. Do what I say. I know this facility like the back of my hand."
"Okay. And who are you?"
"No time. Go! I'll tell you what time to program it to when you get there."
Jesse was surprised that there were no Iraqis barring his path.
After a while of roaming, Jesse found it. The Science Chamber.
He sighed. Too easy. No challenge. He proceeded to place the charge.
Minerva stuck behind cover, bullets flying from Iraqi gun barrels to the door jamb she was taking cover behind.
She grinned, looking at her tube. A little present to the American army. A sample of their creatures.
This sample could topple the Iraqis chances of winning the war, and plummet them into the negatives.
She knew more of the Iraqis then they would care to let on,which made her priority number one.
She cooked a grenade and tossed it through the propped open door.
A muffled boom and smoke traveled through the door.
She had personal reasons for doing this to the Iraqis-- mostly because General Brown ruthlessly killed her family.
Being inside a war zone meant being forced to cooperate with one of the opposing sides.
She ran in after the smoke cleared.
She ran her keycard through the reader to the door on the left side of the hall, where more Iraqis stood guard.
She left the card in there and took cover in the door jamb again.
She loaded her pistol and inclined her head to see them.
She dispatched them one by one, and they fell to the ground. She took out her keycard, and advanced through the door.
She took one of their rifles and slung the strap around her.
"Okay. What time, and next charge?" Jesse's voice came through on the other end.
"26:23, Hospital. West wing." She told him.
"Got it." Jesse replied.
She examined her new rifle.
No bullet chamber. Does this gun reload? She thought.
She ran her keycard through the next door, and it beeped.
"Access denied. Barcode disabled upon request of General Maquis.
"firetruck," she swore under hear breath. She knelt over and picked up a keycard off an Iraqis dead body, and swiped it.
It beeped. "Access denied. Required rank is General."
A door opened at the end of the hallway.
"Heheh. Minerva. What a pleasant surprise." He said with a chuckle.
Jesse made his way through the abandoned hallways, wondering where the Iraqis went.
He planted the charge in the center of the west ring.
"Hey, what time?" Jesse asked.
"24:46." Came a breathy voice.
Minerva was in a firefight with General Maquis, so she couldn't give much of a response.
"Mess hall 6X3."
Jesse stood up and turned around, running out of the hospital wing into the third area.
Gunshots sounded on his earpiece. But not normal gunshots. Ones from a rifle similar to his.
After a bit of running and keycard swiping, he found the Mess Hall 6X3.
He planted a charge in the center of the room.
"Time, next charge?" Jesse asked.
"20:39, General's briefing." Came the woman's voice.
Jesse rose automatically and began to leave when the doors burst open.
"Hands up! You are to be detained!" Somebody from the crowd shouted.
"Like hell I will." Jesse muttered, throwing a grenade at them and taking cover behind a beam that kept the room from caving in.
They dispersed, and the grenade exploded harmlessly.
He was then locked into a firefight with them, which took more time then necessary.
"Dammit. It'll take more time this way, but it can't be helped."
He turned around and ran towards the other exit.
"Make chase!" One shouted, but the lackeys didn't have time to execute it, because on the way out, Jesse shot the beams, caving the room in.
Jesse hoped it didn't effect the charge.
After more of running and card swiping, he advanced to the General's briefing.
"Time, next charge." Jesse said into the earpiece.
"13:23, Hallway B6J2."
Jesse sighed. He wasn't good with specifics.
After a while longer, he found the hallway.
"Time." He said into the mike.
"2:53." She said.
"Are you kidding me? firetruck!" He said, planting it and immediately running.
But it was already too late.
Six simultaneous explosions sounded, and the facility caved in.
~Chapter 11: Minerva Mari~
Jesse awoke coughing, and static flooding into his ear.
"Hey! Girl! You okay?"
"What? A girl?" Came the other end.
"Oh, Sisk, thank god you're okay. There was a woman helping me. Don't know what happened to her when the bombs exploded."
Jesse walked through the ruined door and analyzed the room.
There was a person standing there, head and limbs twitching manically.
He advanced, and the person immediately ran.
He started running, and almost tripped over a metal pipe sticking up from the floor.
"Hardy, leave that place now! The survivors besides you have been affected by radiation. I'm guessing this 'girl' too."
"But I can't just leave her."
"Hardy, do you have feelings for a girl you don't know?"
"Then report back."
"That was an order."
"I'll act upon it when I find the girl."
A sigh came through the line.
"Fine. Don't keep me waiting."
Corporal Sisk drowned out of the line in a rush of static. Jesse advanced when his brother's face flashed across his vision.
His head exploded in pain, and he doubled over.
He heard a murmuring voice telling him not to run.
He looked up and saw the man from his dreams.
He gasped and tried scrambling away, but remembered that he had a weapon.
He took hold of his rifle which was dangling to his side and shot the man until he realized the man wasn't feeling any pain.
He put his eye against the sight and shot him in the head.
A hole blew through the man's nose, and he continued walking, but soon fell over.
"Hey! Girl!" He yelled over the line.
"Hey! Girl!" Awoke Minerva. "Yes?"
"Oh thank god...you're alive! What hall are you in?"
"F43M7." She recited to Jesse.
"firetruck...that sounds far."
"Wait, why do you ask, American?"
"Chain of effect. You help me, I help you. What goes around comes around."
"No...no...I didn't even do that much." She replied modestly.
"What you did caused a large facility to turn to ashes. Don't be modest."
She sighed. "Fine. I'll try to meet you in the Weapon Production room."
"Minerva, be careful. Some Iraqis have mutated."
She didn't need to respond. After all, she had planned it.
She cracked her knuckles and picked up her rifle.
She advanced through the halls and kept an eye out for Iraqis.
Strange...there wasn't any around her...perhaps Jesse lied?
"Minerva. What's your last name?"
"Mari." She replied nonchalantly.
Jesse then turned off the frequency that connected him and Minerva.
He turned to the frequency that connected him and Sisk.
"Sisk. Pull the file on one 'Minerva Mari'."
"Is 'Please' out of fashion?" He sighed.
"College student, 19 years old, perky, wears red clothing most of the time. Fluent in Arabic, French, and English."
"Damn," Jesse muttered. Three languages? I only have one and a half.
"Why do you ask?"
"She's the one who's been helping me."
"Really? Says here that she hates Iraqis and..."
"She's a very skilled manipulator. Jesse, did she tell you where to put the charges?"
"firetruck! Jesse! She planned this!"
Sisk sighed. "She manipulates American to place charges in Iraq territory. The charges destroy the facility, yet leave crucial places intact."
"Isn't that what we wanted?"
"We wanted complete decimation."
"What are the rooms intact?"
"The technology productions room, Neuroprocessing chamber, and Conversion Lab."
"Why does she want those rooms?"
"She's not here just to help you, I can decipher that much."
Jesse sighed. "I'm still helping her out."
"We still got the facility destroyed. So what, there's a few rooms rest? What if the army can use those rooms?"
"Possible, but it's Iraqi technology! Who's good on stuff like that?"
"The subject's topic. Minerva Mari."
~Chapter 12: Not Everything Died in the Explosion~
"Now, Jesse, I see why you can assume that. If she wanted the rooms, she must be knowledgeable on them. But what if her guess is as good as ours?"
"You know what's strange? You're in the army, yet you call me by my first name. Care to explain?"
"J-- Hardy. Now isn't the time for that."
Jesse heaved a sigh. "Fine."
He reached a dead end in his hallway. He looked at the side and turned the gun's light on. It illuminated the hallway's number.
"Hallway E99H65." He muttered under his breath.
He turned the light and saw that wreckage lead up into the facility's ventilation system.
"firetruck me." He muttered, climbing up into the ventilation system.
He heaved himself in, the edge scraping his stomach viciously.
He heard skittering around in the vents, and thought it was just the surviving roaches. As much as it grossed him out, he didn't waver.
He changed the frequency on his earpiece, in case Minerva had an update.
He then chanced upon a scent that would stay in his nostrils for a few years.
It was probably sulfur that sunk into the facility after explosion.
Jesse ventured around the vents corner and found himself coming in through the ceiling into a strange stream of liquid, and the scent grew stronger. He grasped a pipe, hanging over the rank liquid.
"Minerva. What's this? Shit liquid? Rankest thing I ever smelled."
"That, Boy, is the facility's sewage. If you take that you should end up a few hallways near the Weapon Production hall, in the Sewage Filtration room. Have fun swimming!" Jesse could tell she was enjoying this. "For future reference, my name is Jesse."
He sighed, plugged his nose and let go. The green water felt strange, so he bat his hands downward to accelerate his ascent.
When he surfaced, he shook his head, the liquid flying in all directions. Even while he held his breath, the scent traveled its' way into his nostrils.
He coughed erratically, and started a front crawl maneuver, while awkwardly trying to keep his mouth, eyes, and nose away from the water.
After what seemed like ages, his hand hit something, and he grasped it. He saw metal bears, gallantly intervening in his path. Behind them, a narrow stream of green water being processed into clean water.
He placed his hand on his shoulder and his hand slid down the strap, expecting his auger, but found nothing but a broken strap.
"firetruck!" He swore. "Minerva! My auger is gone and I can't use it to cut through the metal bars."
"And is that really a problem? You must have some sort of explosive device.
Jesse sighed. "No, I used them, remember? Rather powerful charges, now that I think of it...."
"Never mind that, let me think..."
Jesse held onto the bars patiently.
"You have a knife, don't you?"
"Minerva, please, these aren't plastic."
"No, seriously. The Iraqi's knives have some strange cords, like...Bungie cords, on them. Jesse, how rusted are the bars?"
Jesse slid his hand down a bar. "Mild."
"Okay, tie the cord around a bar. Swim up the stream, and stick it in the rock formation."
Jesse did so, and plunged his knife in the rock formation, which took a few tries, until he decided just to carve through it.
"Now how do I get it to stay?"
For the life of him, Jesse cannot figure out how exactly this worked.
He let the knife go, and it sprang from its' hold, crashing through the bar.
"Is the space wide enough to enter?"
"Was it really necessary to stick it in the rock?" He asked.
"No, I just enjoyed making you do extra work."
He pushed himself through the bars, and found himself surrounded by Chargers, who beat their chests in sight of prey.
"Minerva. I have a slight problem."
"Chargers. Lots of them. No rifle."
"Their weak spot is their stomach, when hit by a blunt, hard force."
"You're not implying what I think you are, are you?" Jesse grimaced, observing that the Chargers were done beating their chests.
"Don't you ever watch UFC?"
"I don't either."
Jesse evaded an attack from a Charger, and climbed out of the narrow stream.
Chargers, apt to their name, began rushing towards Jesse.
Jesse cleared his mind.
Okay, fistfight with about ten monkeys...
He looked them over, the malice streaming out of their eyes.
Yeah, you 'll live.
Jesse took the offensive, and kicked a Charger in its' stomach. It howled, and slumped over.
Wow, Minerva was right.
He then uppercutted another in the stomach, and it flew back three feet.
"Home run!" Jesse announced.
A Charger leaped into the air, high over Jesse, coming down with tremendous force. Jesse caught it and hurled it into the wall.
It fell, and didn't get up.
Chargers weren't really monkeys per se, they were about as tall as humans and had the strength of 3 bricks in a single punch.
Which is why Jesse stumbled back when a Charger punched him across the face.
Jesse's brain rattled within its' skull, causing a migraine. He saw stars, making him susceptible to a few more blows, which were delivered with gusto.
Jesse's attackers were then interrupted by sudden gunshots.
Jesse's vision faded into black.
I got beat up by monkeys. Wouldn't Jonas have a laugh?
~Chapter 13: Jonas~
Jesse found himself running down a forest path.
He was chasing after somebody in a black coat, who only drew farther and farther
away. Involuntarily, Jesse's hand went up and started shouting, "Come back!"
The man in the coat turned around. It was Jonas.
His eyes glowed red, staring at Jesse.
Jesse caught up, panting. "Jonas. Who was that man? With the knife."
When Jonas replied, the tone surprised Jesse. It was like a whole opera harmonizing together.
"The man is what can be considered you. You left me to die and saved yourself. That man represents your newfound creed, to take
life and preserve yours in the name of the American Army, the Iraqi war. You've converted into the man
from your nightmares."
Jesse fell back, and his flesh burned. His skin festered and morphed, and he was
suddenly the man, in a cell, pulling out the man's innards, then slitting
Jonas's throat on a dishieveled hospital floor.
Rain patted his hair down as he looked up at Jonas, who was no longer there. It was
himself. His dreamself was shooting many Iraqi soldiers, grinning as he did so.
He felt a pang of guilt, and shot up, holding his dreamself's gun down. "Stop.
Please." He said to his dreamself, and his vision faded into black, and he found
himself against a wall, with a girl holding ice packs against his stomach and head.
"Who are you?" He asked immediately, pulling away and aiming his rifle at her.
"Who have you been talking to for the past hour?"
"I-i talk in my sleep?" Jesse asked.
"Sort of. You kept mothing the words 'I'm not a murderer, brother'.
Jesse sighed, dropping the rifle to his side. "I'm guessing you're Minerva."
"In the flesh."
"Then we need to leave."
"I need to do something first."
"I need to take a sample of my blood and enhance it using the rooms remaining from
"What exactly are you planning to accomplish that way, Minerva?"
"I'll be the first human to meld with manmade creature cells, and possibly end all Iraqi life, with given enhancements."
"Talk about sadistic."
"It will take only an hour. Will you assist me?"
Jesse heaved another sigh. "Fine. As long as it can end this war and my rabid killing."
"I assure you."
"Fine." Jesse said, beginning his advance down the hall.
"Um, the Neuroprocessing chamber is that way."
"I knew that," Jesse said immediately, turning around and emerging in the other burnt hallway.
There were more of the stone-bug-things in the wall. Jesse aimed at the walls, picking them off one by one.
"Sisk, the retrieval of Minerva will need to wait a bit longer." Jesse said, changing the frequency.
"Dammit Je--Hardy, what now?"
"She has vital leads on ending the war with the rooms she saved."
"Make it quick, or the window is closing.
Jesse knew exactly what those words meant.
The words meant that they were closing all entrances and exits of the specified area, nothing gets out, nothing gets in
"Affirmative. Hour and a half tops."
"You're on thin ice with that proclamation, but I'll see what I can do to prolong the closing."
The frequency burst into static. "Sisk? Sisk! Come in, Sisk!" Nothing but static responded.
"firetruck," Minerva swore. "The Crypt Dwellers are eating into the wireless feed connection. If we move in range of another, we might regain connection."
"But we don't have time for that, do we?"
"Figured as much."
Soon, they chanced upon the Neuroprocessing Chamber. Tubes were spread around the room like an intricate blood vessel network.
Immediately, Minerva picked up a syringe, and stabbed it into her arm, a bit of blood spraying a few feet in front of her.
"Emo much?" An observing Jesse commented.
She stuck it in and fastened it, and used her other hand to pull blood out.
"G-guh-gah.." She moaned as 1 and a half ounces was extracted from her arm.
She pulled it out, leaving a small hole in her elbow crevice.
She walked over to the machinery and inserted the syringe, and the machine sucked the blood up. It ran through the tubes and a voice said, "Sample ready for extraction. Insert holding chamber."
Minerva took a strange vial from the shelf, and placed it into a different part of the machine. Blood filled it immediately. Minerva pulled it out an placed a cap on it.
"To the next room now." She chided, and exited to room.
Jesse followed. "Mind telling me what you did?"
"Merged the neuro-cells of the creatures with my blood."
"Ah. But wouldn't that make you a creature yourself?"
"No. But it will make me near-invincible."
After a bit of walking and killing a few creatures, they found the Technology Productions room. Minerva entered without a word and placed the blood into a cube-like machine. She typed a few phrases into the computer, and the machine rumbled to life.
"What is this doing?"
"Removing toxins that can kill me whence the blood is placed back into me."
"Freaky enough, but how the hell does this room, and the others, have power?"
"Each room is fitted with its' own electricity generator."
Jesse nodded approvingly.
The machine beeped, and the blood surged back into the vial. Minerva removed it.
"Now to the conversion lab."
"Why did you say 1 hour? This was only ten minutes."
"Because in the conversion lab there is a stasis module there, where my body is disabled and the blood cells," She held up her vial, "Will reproduce and my immune system will fail defending it, but will be strengthened by the invader."
"It sounds like this invader doesn't want to do damage."
"Under normal circumstances, it would. But not whence I've removed the toxins."
Soon, they arrived at the Conversion Lab, where Minerva want to the side of the room, where a row of Stasis machines were lined up. She pressed a button and the glass cover lifted, air hissing at Jesse and Minerva.
"This will take some time." She grabbed a syringe and twisted the plunger off. She poured the vial's contents into the hole, and replaced the plunger, and inserted the blood into her system. The veins bear the area of effect bulged with surprise at an unexpected addition to their ranks. She slipped into the stasis module and pressed the button. The glass cover slid over her, compressing air in the chamber.
Instantly, Minerva shut her eyes and her body went blue.
The hand of the clock above her chamber twisted to 45 minutes, and started ticking.[/color][color=#282828] [/color]
~Chapter 14: Music~
Jesse sat in wait, when he heard a strange tune emanate from the loudspeakers.
At first it just sounded like wind, but it beat up into a rational tune.
Then, a female voice started singing:
Maybe I...didn't love you...quite as often as I should have...
Maybe I didn't hold you....quite as long as I should have...
And maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have...
I'm so sorry....I was blind....
You were always on my mind...
You were always on my mind....*
Jesse had the feeling he'd heard the song somewhere before, but he didn't remember where.
He heard a voice through the constant static on his earphone.
"Je-- we-- und-- attac-- report... ba-- as soon a-- poss--"
"Sisk! Sisk! Sisk? Come in, Sisk!"
No response, except for gunshots and screams of pain, muffled by static.
"Sisk! Status report!"
Still no response.
Then the static died down into legible voices.
"لا تترك أي رجل على قيد الحياة! يجب أن يعرف هذا اليوم ان الجيش العراقي قد ضرب ضربة كبيرة على أمريكا!" A voice yelled in Arabic.
"ما من رجل في قاعدتنا خراب؟ أيضا ، تلك المرأة؟" A voice responded.
تركها لتموت. The first voice responded, then dashed by a rush of static.
The song on the loudspeaker got even louder.
Jesse's head exploded in pain once again, and he passed out.
Jesse found himself in a strange room, where the walls were red and looked like organs, beating solemnly.
He looked up and saw a web of metal bars that intervened his escape.
"...is this real...?" He muttered to himself.
He was wearing different clothes, casual would be the word to describe his attire.
]He patted against the wall, and jumped up, attempting to grab the bars.
He finally succeeded, and it came free as soon as he grabbed it. He jumped up again and went through the hole.
He found himself inside a long narrow hallway, and Jonas was far ahead of him.
Jesse started running, but found it unhelpful.
The hallway stretched, and Jonas went farther and farther, until Jesse collapsed, his lungs burning.
Jonas was now in front of him, crouching down, as a man would to be level with a child.
Jesse looked up and saw Jonas.
But it wasn't the Jonas he remembered.
His face was bloody and had lesions all over it.
Through the mess of lumps, Jesse spotted a grin.
His head suddenly bursted in pain again, and he closed his eyes.
Jesse opened his eyes to see Minerva's stasis module folding back its' glass cover.
At first, Jesse saw Jonas in the chamber, his face thawing, which caused Jesse the usual headache. He closed his eyes and shook his head, opening them again. Minerva was attempting to exit the module, but her body was too busy running a systems check.
After her mad twitching, the body had reaccustomed itself to Minerva's nervous system and the patterns it sent.
Jesse reached inside the module and fished her out by her hand.
He helped her out, and Minerva collapsed on the floor.
Jesse held out his hand, but she batted it away.
"I'm fine. This stuff is normal for stasis module users."
Jesse nodded, but that didn't dash his concerns
"Now, where's an exit? You must know of one, Minerva."