August 5th 2134, A hydroelectric power plant ten kilometers northwest of Mozhaysk.
Dale stood with his arms crossed gazing in to the large wide rectangular pit about fifteen feet deep that was the primary drain reservoir. He and Arden were standing on the catwalks in the middle of the hydroelectric power plant. Arden had his hands on his hips and was confused at the sight that they were witnessing. Connor had rushed outside after hearing Arden shout and was sprinting along the catwalks to their position. Arden turned around and saw Connor running swiftly towards them.
“What’s wrong? Are there any hostiles?” Connor asked Arden when he finally reached them.
“No, no communists, but see for yourself what is wrong,” Arden replied as he motioned Connor to look over the railing and into the reservoir. Connor put one hand on the railing and leaned over to take a look. He saw a sight similar to the one inside the main building. The reservoir was full of paper trash and a couple of small crates, as well as a wooden pallet. The water level was terribly low as well, only approximately three inches deep, and the rate of water flow was much slower than it typically should have been.
“This doesn’t make much sense,” Conner remarked. “First off, this should obviously be clear of as much gunk and junk as possible, and the water level should be higher.” Connor stepped back from the railing and looked at Arden and Dale. “There is a similar scene inside the main building. Everything is trashed and or broken. There is no sign of conflict though. Also, it’s obvious that no one is here either. It’s all wrong, especially since the parking lot in front of the plant has a lot of cars in it.”
Dale uncrossed his arms and started walking across the catwalks and towards the various sub-structures that were scattered around the plant. “I’ll be back,” he said.
“Hey, while your gone let John know what’s going on,” Arden said to Dale.
“K,” Dale replied bluntly.
“Where do you think he’s going?” Connor asked Arden in a soft voice.
“I dunno, probably going to find some answers. But it is Dale, he could just being going to the bathroom,” Arden replied. Connor gave a small laugh at his answer. Connor looked in to the main reservoir again. He noticed something new this time however. He activated his zoom optics and saw an assault rifle near the edge of the water level.
“Down there!” Connor shouted and pointed at the assault rifle. He quickly vaulted over the railing and landed in the shallow water, splashing it against the concrete walls. The bones in any other soldier’s legs would have snapped on contact with the ground after such a fall, but Vapor Team had genetic bio-enhancements. Such augmentations included a reinforced skeletal structure by mixing Inconel 625 with artificial bone marrow and fusing it on to the exterior portions of the skeleton. This made the soldiers of Vapor Team’s bone structures virtually unbreakable. Connor walked over to the assault rifle and picked it up. He grasped the grip of the rifle and slid his forefinger through the trigger hole. Connor addressed his helmet AI, “Computer, command. Synch HUD with current weapon.” The AI’s acknowledgement beep sounded and a tiny image of the assault rifle popped up at the top of the HUD with a magazine ammo counter directly below it. There were only six rounds left in the rifle. “Good news Fog,” Connor remarked as he looked up at Arden. “We now know that there was indeed a conflict. Only six rounds are left in this rifle.”
“Well then whoever won the conflict did a very good job at cleaning up the mess then. We aren’t dealing with sloppy terrorists or even standard military for that matter. This must have been something else,” Arden proclaimed.
“Do you think this is why FK Command wanted us to come here?”
“I wouldn’t doubt it.”
“Here, you take it,” Connor said as he threw the assault rifle to Arden. “Go find the armory that Nellon said would have all the weapons and ammunition we need.”
“What about you?” Arden asked Connor as he caught the assault rifle with one hand and leaning on the railing with the other.
“That rifle had to have gotten down here somehow. I’m going to take a look inside these drainage reservoirs and see what I can find. Once you get the weapons let me know so I can come back here and have you drop me one.”
“Alright,” Arden acknowledged. Connor disappeared in to the darkness of the drainage reservoir. Arden synched the assault rifle to his HUD and started walking the same way Dale left. He looked around himself to get familiar with the area, and since he was in the middle of the plant, now that he could see all of the terrain around him. To the south was the main building and the parking lot, and after that the forest with the winding dirt road. He looked to the west and saw two small single room buildings across the way from more drainage reservoirs, and just behind those buildings was the large cliff that John had climbed. He looked to the north and saw a building about half the size of the main one at the front of the plant. He also noticed that behind that building was a small mass of water. That must be where all the water drains to after running off of that cliff up there, Arden thought to himself. In front of the building to the south was a dark green tent. No doubt the weapons and ammo is stored in there, but will they still be there after the incident of whatever happened here? Arden finally looked to the east and saw a wide creek that was flowing from the outflow of the power plant reservoirs and feeding in to the small water mass to the north. A little further out were more large and tall pine trees. Arden picked up his pace after surveying the power plant layout, and was started to jog a little, heading towards the big green tent. Just as he reached the tent, Dale emerged from the entrance and had his arms full of guns.
“HAHA! Now that is what I’m talkin’ about,” Arden said with a grin. Dale dropped all of the weapons on the ground.
“Quite the opposite actually,” Dale remarked. “This is all that was in there, along with some scattered bullets. Whatever assholes attacked this place stole almost every piece of FK equipment that they could. We are going to have to make due with just this.” Then Dale noticed the assault rifle in Arden’s hands. “Where did you get that?”
“Oh, Smoke found it in the main reservoir, but it only has six rounds in it. At least we know now that there was a conflict, and whoever or whatever caused it knows very well how to cover it up,” Arden replied. Dale was silent. “So what do we have here?” Arden asked rhetorically as he inspected the weapons Dale had dropped. “Four pistols, and two assault rifles.”
“Yep,” Dale responded.
“No shotgun!” Arden shouted in disgust. “Well, it’s better than nothing. How much ammo is in there?”
“I dunno, lemme check.”
“Alright,” Arden replied. Dale turned and disappeared inside the tent. Arden picked up one of the pistols off of the ground and holstered it to the side of his leg. “Computer, command. Synch HUD with sidearm.” The acknowledgement beep sounded and Arden’s HUD displayed a tiny image of the pistol in the top right corner of his visor with the ammo count just below it. The pistol had a full magazine of ten bullets, but no bullet in the chamber. He checked all of the other guns and found out that they all had full magazines as well. Arden picked up a pistol and an assault rifle and ran to the main reservoir pit again to drop them to Connor.
John reached the top of the cliff and pulled himself up. He turned around and looked at the power plant down below. The small water mass was down to his left behind the power plant and thick forest was in front of him to the east. He noticed Dale, Arden, and Connor standing on the winding catwalks that stretched across the power plant. They were staring into the large main reservoir. John just chuckled at how silly they looked, but John then wondered why there were no workers in the power plant. He saw no one but Dale, Arden and Connor. He then saw Dale begin to walk towards the southern end of the plant but Arden and Connor remained staring into the reservoir.
Dale’s voice suddenly crackled in John’s ear, “Hey Mist, you read me?”
“Loud and clear Shadow, what’s up?”
“Well things are looking like shit down here. We are the only ones at the power plant, and everything is trashed or broken.”
“What do you mean everything is trashed or broken?”
“I mean everything is trashed or broken retard.”
John shook his head at Dale’s smart reply. “Okay well keep me posted on what else you find. Get to the armory first though; we need weapons if there is already an issue.”
“Already going there,” Dale replied.
“Understood,” John acknowledged. He then noticed Connor vault over the railing surrounding the reservoir and fall out of sight. Arden, who now had an assault rifle, started walking towards where Dale left to. It seems like they’ve got things under control down there, John thought to himself. He turned around and began to walk to the west, away from the power plant. To the southwest to John’s left was more thick and towering forest. To the northwest to John’s right however was the large lake that they saw from the chopper. A thin sandy shoal ran around the perimeter of the lake with a few scattered boulders scattered across the shoal as well.
John started to walk northward instead of westward. The thin strip of land between the edge of the cliff and the lake formed sort of a miniature peninsula, and at the end of the peninsula was a large dam that stretched from south to north. The dam was built to stop the flow of water in to the smaller water mass down below, and instead artificially redirect it through the power plant. John walked to the edge of a small overhang of land that stretched over the large lake a few meters. He got down on his belly and leaned out over the overhang just enough so he could see the lake’s end underneath. He noticed two very large concrete pipes that the lake water filled. That’s where the water is redirected into the power plant, John thought. John figured he’s seen enough up above the cliff to understand the land layout, and he started walking back to the power plant.
Connor was quite uncomfortable. The drainage reservoirs were cylindrical drains that had diameters of no more than five feet. Connor was six feet and four inches tall, and had to significantly crouch down to fit inside. He had his visor’s infrared night vision activated so he could see straight in the near pitch black dark reservoirs. The only lights in the reservoirs were tiny ‘glow in the dark’ rectangular prisms spaced four feet apart and lined the sides of the drains. Connor wandered through the tunnels heading southwest as his HUD compass was telling him, hoping to find some clue about what happened. He eventually reached the plant’s generator and turbine. Both of them were shut down. Odd. This place is just one big ghost town mystery, Connor thought. He turned around and headed back through the drain. He finally reached the wide outside portion of the reservoir again. “Computer, command. Vision default,” Connor addressed his AI before exiting the tunnel.
Arden reached the main reservoir just as Connor emerged from the dark drainage tunnel. Connor rolled his neck and stretched his arms and back. “Perfect timing Smoke,” Arden called down to him. “We found the armory, but there’s only a pistol for each of us and three assault rifles. I guess whoever attacked this place, or so we assume it was an attack, stole most of the military equipment as well.”
“Really!?” Connor replied in near disbelief. “This sucks.”
“Yup, but here,” Arden said as he dropped the assault rifle and pistol that he brought from the armory. Connor caught the pistol in his left hand and the rifle in his right hand.
“Thanks,” Connor said.
“They only have one full magazine each, so if you run into any bad guys be careful to conserve ammo.”
“Got it,” Connor acknowledged. “Are there no extra magazines or ammo in the armory?”
“Dale is checking right now, so I’m going to get back to him.”
“Alright, I’m going to check out the rest of this reservoir and head to the outflow section.”
Arden nodded and gave Connor thumbs up. Connor nodded back and disappeared into the drain tunnel on the opposite side of the reservoir pit this time. Arden turned around and jogged back to the armory tent. Again, as soon as he got there Dale emerged from the armory entrance, this time with eleven pistol magazines and five assault rifle magazines cradled in his arms. He dropped all of them on the small pile of weapons already on the ground
“So, I figured it out. We each get four pistol magazines, except for one of us who gets only three instead. Then one of us gets skimped out of a second weapon and doesn’t get a rifle, but for those who do have a rifle get three magazines each, except for one who again is unlucky and only has two. There is enough bullets in there to fill each of these magazines back up at least once, but after that we don’t have enough to last much longer. Oh yeah, and there’s also two grenades in there.”
“And I assume you volunteer me to be the one who gets just a pistol with three magazines?” Arden asked in a joking manner.
Dale chuckled a little and replied, “Maybe.”
“Okay, but only if I get the grenades,” Arden said.
Dale gave out another small chuckle and said, “Deal.”
Connor synched the weapons that Arden had dropped him to his HUD. He had reactivated his night vision and was slowly shifting his way through the drainage tunnels again. His assault rifle was aimed in front of him as he proceeded down in to the darkness. He reached the halfway point between the center of the plant and the outflow exit. Connor suddenly tensed up when he saw two pairs of beady little eyes staring at him. Rats, Connor thought to himself. The two rats dashed down the tunnel away from him. Where are they going? Connor had a bad feeling all of a sudden. He cautiously inched his way down the drain until he reached a point where it steeply sloped down at a thirty-five degree angle. He shifted his grip on his rifle to holding it with just one hand and aiming it down the tunnel, while he steadied himself with his other hand against the sloping tunnel behind him as he shifted down the tunnel. He noticed where it began to level out and saw this time not two, but five pairs of little rat eyes staring at him. What’s down here? He reached level ground once again and put his other hand on his assault rifle grip once more. Connor saw light at the end of the tunnel where the drainage ended and poured in to the small creek that fed in to the mass of water behind the power plant. But Connor’s heart sank when he noticed what was between him and the exit. He cringed at what he saw. So this is why the rats were coming down here.