August 29th 2134, Moscow, Russia
The storm grew fiercer as Vapor Team formed up on the roof of the tall building. The building they were on was the third tallest building in that section of the city. Vapor Team walked to the edge of the building and looked down at the streets below. Red Legion soldiers and civilians alike were scattered across the blocks of the city.
“Must be nice to bypass about one hundred soldiers just on your walk to work,” Arden joked. Connor and Dale chuckled a little. John stepped away from the edge and Connor, Arden, and Dale followed.
“Alright Smoke, you know where the hospital is right?” John asked.
“Well, not exactly,” Connor replied. “It’s been a while since I was in Moscow you know. I know what it looks like at least.”
“Okay, well let’s get on it,” Dale said. “What does it look like?”
“It’s about half the size of this building that we are on here, and it has big neon red letters that spell out ‘Krietchner’ on each side of the building. It’s shaped like a big box and it has a large shining ‘H’ spinning on a pole on top of the roof,” Connor replied.
“Sounds like it’s not that hard to spot,” Arden remarked as he looked around for the hospital.
“I don’t see it from here,” John said. The lighting thundered and cracked over their heads and the flashing red lights on the roof top made their vision more disoriented. “We should get on a higher building. We can spot the hospital from there I bet.”
“Agreed,” Arden said. One of the taller buildings that was just a few stories taller, was right next to theirs and created only a five foot wide alley below. Dale pulled a climbing hook out of his urban climbing kit. He spun it around by the cable and launched it high above them, angled towards the taller building. The hook sailed through the air until it disappeared over the roof. Dale pulled the cable until it tensed up and straightened in front of him. He pulled as hard as he could and the cable held strong. Connor, Arden, and John all threw their hooks over the roof too and checked them for stability.
“Up we go,” John said. They all four jumped and swung the short distance between the two buildings. Their boots clanged on the glass panes in front of them.
“Be sure to avoid the lights shining out of the windows,” Connor said. They all started to scale the outer wall of the skyscraper. Whenever they reached a room that had light shining through the window, they scaled around it. They were almost to the top, when Dale was crossing over a window with no light leaving it. Suddenly light shone brightly in his eyes and for a split second Dale noticed a man in business apparel who had just turned on the light inside. Dale loosened his grip on his cable instantly and slid out of sight from the man inside. When Dale grabbed the cable firmly again, the hook at the top slid from side to side once across the wet steel of the roof. Dale almost lost his grip and fell, but ended up dangling lazily by one hand on the cable instead.
“Smooth,” Arden said to Dale over his helmet com as he continued to climb up his cable.
“When I get up there Fog, I’m tossing you off the roof,” Dale joked, readjusting his grip and continuing to climb. They all finally reached the roof.
“Heads up,” John announced, motioning to two security cameras aimed at different corners of the roof. “We’re just out of sight of them.”
“Just shoot them out,” Arden suggested.
“Nah, too risky,” Connor said. “We don’t want anybody in the entire city to know that anything is up. This op is already a longshot as it is.”
“Let’s just sneak around,” John said. They gathered up their climbing hooks and proceeded along the edge of the rooftop, just out of sight of the cameras. When they reached a corner that wasn’t under surveillance, they leaned out and tried to spot the hospital. With no avail, they slid along the edge of the roof, heading to the far side. One of the cameras’ field of view was right in their way however.
“Well, I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it,” Connor addressed them. “How about we shimmy along the outer edge of the roof and stay out of sight of the cameras?” He suggested.
“Uh…” John muttered uncomfortably.
“We’ll be fine,” Connor reassured them. “And if we do fall, we can just use our jetpacks as a last resort.” They all vaulted over the edge of the roof and held on to the edge from the outer side. Arden was in the front of the group as they shimmied along the edge to the other corner. Once Arden reached the corner, he held on to the edge with one hand and leaned out to get a look across the open city. In front of him was a large clearing in the air. The buildings in front of him were far lower than the one they were hanging on, and stretched out for half of a block. Various streets winded through the buildings below as well and the streets were well lit by bright streetlights and neon signs. It was about an eight hundred foot drop to the streets below. There was a construction crane that leaned far out over the open area in front of him. The crane was actually about two hundred feet lower than Vapor Team at their current position however. On the other side of the clearing was a building half as tall as the one they were hanging from. Then, Arden spotted the hospital.
The glowing red neon letters that spelled out ‘Krietchner’ were lined along each side of the hospital and the large rotating ‘H’ was posted on the roof as well.
Arden turned to the other three behind him and said, “I see it. It’s about two blocks that way, diagonal to this building,” Arden said sort of motioning around the corner.
“Nice!” John said happily. “But how are we going to get across this clearing in front of us?”
“How about the crane?” Dale suggested.
“What about it?” Connor asked.
“Arden, ask your AI to figure out if we can make it that building on the far side of the block by latching our cable hooks to the crane and swinging to the other side. That way we can bypass this half of a block entirely,” Dale explained.
“Got it,” Arden acknowledged. “Computer, command.” The AI sounded the short acknowledgement beep. “Calculate. Pendulum swing and release.” The AI sounded another short acknowledgement beep and a schematic grid stretched across Arden’s visor. “Use, sonar readings, for, start point, comma, pivot point, comma, release point.” After a few seconds the schematic filled up with a two dimensional image of the building they were on, as well as the pivot point, being the crane, and the release point which was by default at a forty five degree angle to the pivot point. “Run, simulation, for, all release points.” The schematic on Arden’s visor flared to life as every single release angle was calculated. Then the AI sounded the acknowledgement beep again. Dotted lines showed Arden where he would land at every different release angle. “Show, average velocity value, at, point of impact, for, release angles between forty, and fifty degrees.” The average velocity upon impact blinked to life near the point of impact on the schematic. “Save, simulation as, Crane_Pendulum_Swing, for, simulation. Computer. Escape.”
“So is it possible?” John asked Arden.
“It is, and thanks to our bio-genetic enhancements, we can survive the velocity on impact,” Arden replied. He pulled out his climbing hook and swung it very quickly. He then launched it as hard as he could towards the crane stretched out below him. The hook latched on to the metal beams securely. “Make sure your release point is somewhere between forty and fifty degrees though, or you won’t make it to the building.” Arden wrapped the cable around his fists once. Then he readied himself to swing. “Computer. Command. Run, simulation Crane_Pendulum_Swing in real time. Set, notification, for, release at release point forty-two degrees.” The AI’s acknowledgement beep sounded.
Arden gave a thumbs up to Connor, John, and Dale behind him, then let go of the edge of the roof and swung swiftly through the air. The rain pattered heavily against his armor and the wind rushed by him as he sailed through the air. Once he was directly under the crane, his AI beeped three times rapidly to alert him that he was at the ninety degree mark, and rapidly approaching the forty-two degree mark. Arden brought his legs in front of him as he gained altitude after passing under the crane. Finally his AI beeped repeatedly when he reached the forty-two degree mark. Arden released his grip from the cable and was suspended in the air for a split second before falling about one hundred feet and landing a few feet from the edge of the roof. A terribly loud clanking sound boomed on impact with the roof. Arden stood to his feet after landing and turned around to see the other three swinging across one by one. After they were all together again, they turned and started running to the hospital.
“It’s been ten minutes now since infiltration,” Connor stated.
“Double time it then,” John said. “We need as much time in that hospital as possible.” They all started sprinting across the roof, jumping from roof to roof and over the narrow alleys below. Five minutes later they were on top of the roof of a building that was only three stories tall in front of the main entrance to the hospital. A wide four lane street stretched out between them and the hospital. The parking for the hospital was in the rear area, behind the hospital. Vapor Team took up positions behind AC vents on the rooftop. There were a dozen soldiers patrolling the rooftop of the hospital, as well as four soldiers guarding the front entrance and several other soldiers posted on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the hospital.
“So how do you suggest we get in there?” Arden asked.
“Wanna try the front door?” Dale suggested.
“Sure. Then we can check in at the front desk as Vapor Team and be given a VIP tour of the place,” Connor joked.
“I don’t think the roof is going to work very well either,” John said. “There’s too many guards to slip past unseen or to eliminate without others noticing. Not to mention there’s probably cameras up there too.”
“How about the back door then?” Arden asked.
“Nah, that’s too risky too,” Connor replied.
Dale looked around the sides of the hospital and noticed a building really close to the hospital itself. He estimated that the alley between the two buildings was only about eight yards wide.
“I have an idea,” Dale proclaimed. “See that building next to the left side of the hospital?” Dale asked pointing to the building that was half as tall as the hospital. The building was a small office building, nothing more.
“Yeah, what about it?” Arden asked in reply.
“We can jump from a window in there through a window to the hospital,” Dale explained.
“We could, but how do you suggest getting in there and getting to an upper floor level without alerting the whole city to our presence?” Connor asked Dale.
“We just break a window on the ground floor and very carefully make our way up to say, the third level,” Dale suggested as he noticed the windows on the third level of the office building lined up with perfectly with the windows on the hospital.
“Won’t someone hear the window get broken? And how do we know the building doesn’t have an alarm system?” John asked.
“I don’t think it has an alarm system,” Connor said as he zoomed in his optics on the front door of the office building. “Alarm systems these days always have a sign proclaiming that the building is protected by that brand of alarm system. It’s kind of convenient they do that for us,” Connor finished with a smirk.
“And don’t worry about them hearing a broken window,” Dale reassured them. “We can use the sound of the thunder from the storm to mask any unwanted sounds we need to make.”
“Nice,” Arden said bluntly. “How do we get down from here though?”
“That’s easy,” Connor replied. “We just jump.” Connor grinned behind his visor and then motioned the rest of them to move along the roof behind the AC vent shafts. Vapor Team shifted just out of sight of the soldiers around the hospital to the edge of the building. Connor, who was closest to the edge, lay down prone and crawled to the edge of the roof. He pulled himself up with one hand on the edge of the waist high brick wall. A few dumpsters and scattered trash was below, as well as a homeless man sitting with his legs crossed and his back against the wall of the building opposite to Vapor Team. Connor turned to look at Arden, Dale, and John huddled behind the AC vents still. He motioned with his head to vault over the side of the roof. Connor slung his PMR over his back and with both hands quickly pulled himself up and over the edge of the roof. He fell three stories and landed in one of the dumpsters below.
The homeless man shook in surprise at the loud clang he heard come from the dumpster in front of him. He sat wide-eyed and mouth agape as Connor vaulted himself out of the dumpster and right in front of him. The rest of Vapor Team did the same as Connor, one by one. The drenched homeless man rubbed his eyes and still had his mouth wide open.
“You think he’ll be a problem?” Arden asked.
“We can always make sure he won’t,” Dale replied bluntly as he popped his knuckles as if to threaten the man.
“No civilian casualties Shadow,” John said to Dale with a glare.
“Yeah yeah whatever,” Dale said.
“We weren’t here,” Connor said bluntly to the homeless man. Then he and the rest of Vapor Team moved to the opening of the alley to the street in front of the hospital. The homeless man shook his head and muttered to himself, “Crazy soldiers.”
Vapor Team peeked around the corners of the alley to find the street completely empty. No cars or pedestrians were to be seen. At the end of the block however, there were barricades set up by the RLA with four guards at each barricade to keep civilians out of the hospital premises.
“Yeah, something fishy is definitely going on around here,” Arden remarked.
“You got that right,” Connor agreed. The street in front of them was fairly well lit from the neatly spaced out street lights.
“So how do we cross the street without being seen?” Connor asked. Fortunately for them, the streetlight directly in front of their position was violently flickering and flashing.
“We shoot out that light,” John said motioning to the flickering light. “They’ll just think the light finally broke. Hit it Smoke.” Connor aimed his PMR at the streetlight and fired off a single bullet that penetrated the glass cover and destroyed the bulb inside. The glass cover cracked from the bullet’s impact, but didn’t shatter. There was now a thin strip of darkness in front of them to the other side of the street.
“Now,” John said quickly. Vapor Team quickly rushed across the street at a slightly crouched position and in to the alley by the building they were going to breach and enter. They found a window without a light on in the room on the other side, and then they waited. It wasn’t long before another flash of lightning shot across the sky. As soon as they heard the thunder, Dale took the butt of his carbine and shattered the window. They all four crawled through and in to the building. It was nearly pitch black inside. Vapor Team turned on their night vision optics. The room they were in was just a simple small office room. The door on the other side of the room was shut and there was a desk and some file cabinets, along with any other things usually found in an office.
“Alright, let’s find a stairwell and get to the third floor,” John said. They stacked up beside the closed door with Arden in front, then John and Connor behind him. Dale stood at the opposite side of the door so that a crossfire was set up. Arden gripped the door handle gently and turned it, slowly opening the door. As he opened it, he aimed his shotgun through the doorway, along with Connor aiming over him. On the other side was a much larger room full of cubicles, but all of the lights were off in that room as well. Arden motioned to the other three that the room was clear and to advance inside. Arden aimed his shotgun left, John entered the room and aimed is rifle across the room, then Connor entered and aimed his rifle to the right, while Dale turned around and covered the window they breached. To their right was a hallway that had double doors on the other end, more than likely leading to a lobby. Across from them, on the other side of the room were large glass windows that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, revealing the alley between their building and the hospital.
To their left however was another hallway with a door on the side. Arden activated his zoom optics and noticed a sign next to the door that read “Stairs”. Arden motioned to move down the room and to the stairwell. As the moved they passed several other office rooms to their left. Then Arden heard one of the doorknobs turn right next to him and he slung his carbine on his back and readied himself for a close encounter. The door swung open to reveal a man in a business suit. He was rubbing his eyes as he turned off the light inside the office. He finally looked up in front him to see Vapor Team.
“Sup,” Arden said, then punched him right in the nose, hard enough to knock him out. The man fell to the ground with a bloody nose, and Dale pulled him behind the desk in the office. They continued down the room and entered the stairwell. Cautiously, they proceeded up to the third floor. They exited the stairwell in to a room just like the one two floors below. The lights were off on this floor as well. They slowly shifted to the center of the room between all the cubicles, covering every which way.
“Clear,” Arden said quietly. Connor turned and looked at the large windows facing the hospital.
“Right there,” Connor said, pointing to a window on the hospital that had blinds. They could tell the room on the other side was still dark though. “We can jump from here in to there.”
“Wait for the thunder, just like last time,” John reminded them. Dale readied the butt of his carbine again. A couple of seconds passed and another bolt of lightning struck one of the buildings just across the street and the thunder cracked so loudly it shook the glass and the desks inside the cubicles. Dale brought the butt of his gun down as hard as he could, but the glass only cracked. He quickly bashed the glass over and over again while the thunder still echoed off of the walls of the buildings. Finally the glass gave way and shattered, most of it falling to the ground three stories below. Dale leaned out over the alley and noticed two Red Legion soldiers patrolling below. They looked up at him and one aimed his gun at Dale while the other started to try and contact backup.
“Shit,” Dale muttered. With near lighting fast reflexes, he brought his carbine up to eye level and dispatched both of them with two clean headshots before they could call for backup or return fire. Connor and John rushed to the window to help.
“Clear, clear,” Dale assured them. They scanned the rest of the alley, but there were no soldiers in sight.
“That was too close,” John said.
“Get out of the way,” Arden demanded. Dale, Connor and John turned around to see Arden reared back, holding the heaviest paperweight he could find. Just then another flash of lighting shot across the sky and Arden threw it at the window of the hospital across the alley. All three of them leaned out of the way of the paperweight’s path as it collided with the window and cracked the glass immensely. Arden took a few steps back and got lower to the ground. He waited until the next lightning bolt shot off. When it did he made a dead sprint towards the alley. Arden jumped when he reached the opening of the shattered glass. As he flew through the air towards the hospital window, he brought his feet in front of him and crossed his arms in front of his face. He broke through the glass on contact and the blinds were torn off the wall and landed on the floor in front of him. He was in a patient’s room that was rather small. There were the usual medical instruments, but also some interesting extra equipment as well. There was a counter and cabinets to his left, with a small waste can and medical bed to his right. The door to the room in front of him was shut.
On the bed was a female patient with tubes and other various devices inserted in her. Before Arden could investigate though however, he heard a young sounding male voice come from the other side of the door.
“I think I heard something,” the voice said. A knock came at the door three consecutive times. “Maybe the process is finally complete for this test subject, and she’s awoken,” the voice continued, but quieter this time. Then the doorknob was turned and Arden rolled behind the patient’s bed and pulled his pistol off of his hip. The door opened and Arden’s heart felt like it stopped.
“Mist,” Arden whispered over his helmet com.
“On it,” John replied, already knowing what Arden wanted to happen. The man who opened the door rushed to the window and in to Arden’s view once he saw it was shattered. The man turned out to be an RL soldier with a carbine held firmly in his hands.
“Now,” Arden said to John calmly. Arden ignored the soldier in front of him completely, and instead stood back up and rushed around the corner of the bed towards the door. Before the soldier could react, he was shot right through the head by John’s sniper rifle. In the doorway was a short man wearing a white overcoat. He had on glasses and panicked at the sight of Arden in front of him. Arden would have engaged the man if he was a soldier, but instead decided to capture him. He grabbed his arm and pulled him close, then turned him around and covered his mouth with his other hand before he could cry for help. Arden kicked the door shut in front of him so no one could see what was going on.
“Shout or retaliate in any way, and you’re a dead man you hear me?” Arden muttered in the man’s ear. “Cooperate, and you won’t be harmed, understand?” The man slowly nodded his head. Arden took his pistol and held in front of the man’s face to show him he’s not joking. Then he pushed the man in front of him and turned him around so he faced Arden. Arden had the gun aimed directly at the man’s head, and the man’s eyes were wide and frightened.
“Wh-Who are you?” the man asked.
“I’ll ask the questions okay?” Arden replied. The rest of Vapor Team jumped from window to window one by one until they were all in the small hospital room. The man looked like he was about to faint from fear of the four special soldiers standing in front of him. Dale moved to the door to cover it, while John pulled out his pistol and aimed it at the man as well. Connor looked around the room and noticed the woman on the hospital bed. He moved over to her and examined the various machines around her. He noticed the screens were showing very disturbing information.
“Guys, I don’t think these are regular hospital patients,” Connor remarked. He noticed the some of the screens showed the life signs of the woman on the bed. Others were status monitors proclaiming whether or not different “processes” were complete. The woman was obviously conscious, for she was slowly turning her head side to side with a frown on her face. She was wearing only her undergarments, and no hospital robe. She was a young woman, no more than twenty-five years old. She was in pain from what they could tell. The woman was moaning and groaning repeatedly and had her eyes closed. Her hands were lightly clenching and unclenching. Connor read one of the monitors on one of the machines next to her with wires and tubes entering the woman’s arms, nose, and legs. The machine didn’t look like any standard medical life support machine. The monitor read “Conversion Process… 83% complete”. Connor frowned at reading this and wondered what it could mean. At closer inspection of the woman’s body, he noticed she had severe lacerations all across different areas of her body. He looked closely at the deep gashes and noticed what looked like tiny mechanical components wedged inside her tissue and little circuit boards as well. Connor decided not to guess why she had these inside her, and ask the man in the white overcoat instead. He slowly turned to look at him.
“What are you doing to her?” Connor asked. The man’s lips quivered as he started to speak.
“Th-That. I can’t tell you that,” the man replied.
“Let’s just start with who you are then,” John said. “What do you do here? Are you a doctor, a scientist?”
“I’m both. I look after and operate on the test sub… I mean, patients.”
“Test subjects?” Dale said in an interrogative tone.
“N-No, patients,” the man tried to correct himself.
“What do you mean test subjects?” John asked angrily.
The man sighed and replied, “We are taking the severely injured and near death patients to special wards like this one to be, converted.” Connor tensed up and emotions flared inside his very soul.
“Converting them to what?” Arden asked.
“C-Converting them to be m-mindless assassins for the Red Legion Army,” the man said very quickly and nervously. “The ones who are dying that come in here, we take and give them artificial technology to keep them alive, but the RLA had different plans with such technology.”
“Keep talking,” Connor muttered in a near whispered voice that sounded full of hatred.
“Th-The RLA modified the mechanical parts and artificial organs and other tech to control the subject instead of just saving them and that’s it. The subjects are programmed to only follow orders given by Red Legion soldiers, and I was curious, so I did a little research on what exactly they are told to do. The subjects are given these artificial enhancements, and then assigned a random high value target from the Freedom Knights Army to assassinate. If they fail, no one misses them, but if they succeed, they just return to this hospital for a new target. The loved ones of the subjects,” the man continued to say with an increasingly shaky voice. “The loved ones are just told that the subject didn’t make it. That the subject has died.” The man began to even sob a little. Every muscle in Connor’s body tensed up in rage and frustration. Connor’s nostrils flared and he slung his PMR on his back and clenched his hands so tight it almost hurt him. He briskly walked from the bed towards the man. He brushed past Dale between him and the man and pulled one of Dale’s blades off of his shoulder as he went by. Connor reached the man and grasped his neck so tightly the man moaned and coughed. Connor lifted him off and the ground with one hand and held Dale’s blade to his neck with the other. The man grasped Connor’s arm as he gritted his teeth in pain.
“One last question,” Connor snarled. “How long have you been doing this to these people?”
“Grah!” the man sputtered in pain.
Connor brought the man down right in front of his face. “Speak,” Connor growled from behind his visor.
“T-Two years,” the man squeezed out. “I’ve cooperated. Now you p-promised n-not to hurt me!” Connor groaned in sudden rage and shook his head slowly at the man.
“I made no such promise,” Connor muttered. The man’s eyes grew wide as Connor smashed him against the wall and sunk Dale’s blade through the man’s chin and in to his brain. Blood spewed out of the man’s chin and down Connor’s forearm. Dale, Arden, and John stood in shock. Connor was almost never the one to kill in cold blood.
Penelope… I’m so sorry, Connor thought to himself.