Chapter 3 Part 1

Their gazes met for a moment, Jett searching Ari’s expression for some kind of explanation of what happened to startle him. He gave none though and proceeded to stand once the restraints lifted. A large door opened to his right, signaling the first leg of their mission to start. Jett stepped forward and lowered himself into the cockpit of his cycle. Ari picked his weapons and sat down on the back seat which faced the rear of the vehicle.

A few moments later, a hatch dropped open in front of the cycle. Adrien’ voice came clear in both of their ears. “Alright you two, time to head out.” Ari fastened the lap belt and game Jett a thumbs up. “Starting up now, departure momentarily.” Jett calmly replied and revved up the cycle. He brought his index finger up to the glass windshield, preparing to receive a directional map. “Systems online. Rolling now.” Ari took the cue and kicked off a grounding mechanism before pushing his feet firmly against the carrier wall to get them a rolling start down the ramp. 

“The terrain ahead is rough. Engage the core and prepare for mountainous conditions.” Adrien instructed from his aircraft. “Engaging now.” Jett pressed a few button simultaneously, causing the cycle to raise up a few inches and glide across the transition from metal to earth. “I’m sending you the directions now.” A map flashed up in front of the runner and he studied it for a few seconds before adjusting their course to accommodate for the environmental hazards. "There's a thick forest up ahead, you'll need to take another route." Adrien's vessel was not visible from their current position, causing Ari to raise an eyebrow. 

The cycle banked to the left as Jett guided it close to the edge of the forest, eyes flicking and scanning the thick clusters of trees. "There doesn't seem to be a break in the trees, and the map doesn't show the topographical data for this area or the depth of the forest. How should I proceed?" Jett reported into the microphone, slowing his speed in order to react to instruction, but he didn't hear anything. "I repeat, Adrien. How to proceed." Again there was no answer. Ari frowned and looked back at Jett's figure. There was no static, but it seemed the line was dead suddenly. "I see a path through the trees, I'm taking this route." He reported instinctively. "Adrien, respond." Ari commanded, waiting for some smart response from the other man, none came. 

"Looks like we're going solo after all." He said and pivoted his seat to see something other than the path that they came. Jett frowned. "Aren't we supposed to keep going in this situation? Or was it protocol to stop until communication is reestablished?" He fretted as he handled the vehicle carefully over the inclined terrain littered with trees. "Maybe taking this path wasn't the best idea..." Ari sighed. "Quit second guessing yourself and just get us out of this forest." The Runner slightly nodded, trying to comply with the statement. The path straightened out, allowing Jett to study the area ahead a bit better.

His confidence began to rise again, allowing him to relax his shoulders and sit up as straight as he could. This soon shattered as a fork in the path appeared. Jett's breathing quickened and alerted Ari of what was going on. "Go right." he simply said after glancing around. "But that would take us in the wrong direction! We're definitely going left." Ari felt the vessel start to minutely turn to the left. "The trees are thicker that way. We need to go right, Jett." The direction didn't change, however. "Right is the way towards the cliffs. Besides I know what I'm doing." He replied. "Doesn't really seem like it." Ari muttered just before the sharp bank left caught his attention. "I am the navigator. This is my job, butt out." Jett calmly yet forcefully said. 

An ebony eyebrow raised at the comment. "Got it, Jett." He murmured and sat with his back parallel to Jett's once again. The trees were thick for at least a few hundred feet in either direction. “You still so sure this is the right way?” Ari asked in a bored tone. “Ari. Shut up.” The cycled slowed down and pulled to a stop in front of a wooden fence. “…Maybe you were right…” Jett murmured and powered down the cycle. Ari unclasped the restraint and jumped down. “I guess we’re on foot for now then. 

Dark eyes studied the fence. The timbers were slightly charred, yet preserved un “This looks for decoration, not to keep anyone out.” Ari said and stepped over the waist high fence. Jett secured the cycle and followed after the Gunner. Ari strode about two or three feet ahead of Jett. The trees had thinned out as it became clear that they were in a large yard now. Jett stiffened and hurried up to Ari’s side.

Candles were scatter here and here in a some kind of memorial to whatever had happened there. Some were tucked inside the empty cavity of where a brick once was, while others sat rain filled on the top of the stone mantle. They stepped through the open rooms, carefully studying the scene."What do you think this is?" Ari posed to Jett, Turing to look at the scholar of the two. "Well... It looks like a memorial of some sorts judging by the candles and that placard." He gestured towards the wall opposite of them. Ari stepped over, studying it. 

"This can't be right..." He murmured and reread the small description out loud. "Here stands the remnants of the first attack of World War IV. The house was caught in the attempt to scorch the surrounding forests in those in it. There were no survivors of the noble Barnsley family that lived here." He heard a rustling behind him and turned to see Jett reading the front page of a newspaper. Jett's eyes were wide and his expression was one of shock. "T-this says that today is the anniversary of the attack..." Ari blinked and tried to comprehend the situation. "Are you sure that's even recent..? I thought those things went extinct years ago." Jett looked up at him seriously. "The date is today's, Ari. Today is the fifteenth anniversary of World War IV." 

Ari was by his side in a few quick strides and took the paper out of his hand. "If this is real, there must be a town near by. We can get some answers there probably." Ari said, already staring to fold the paper up. "But if this is true, how do you think they would react to us in full combat armor asking questions that we should already know the answer to..? Especially considering that you are armed." Ari faltered slightly but shoved the newspaper between the layers of his armor. "Besides, considering that we have been out of contact for over twenty minutes is suspicious enough. We need to head back to the carrier."

Jett said and took one last look around the mansion. "This is incredible though... If only we could stay here longer, it's so peaceful." Ari nodded before walking out without a second glance. Jett softly sighed and followed him. They retraced their steps back through the hedges. Jett slightly slowed down, dragging his fingers across the rough edge of the fountain. Ari kept walking, noticing but just wanting to get back to base now. 

Why had they been lied to? Why hadn't they been told about this war before? He couldn't ever remember being informed about World War IV. He remembered about World War III and how the Russians had been responsible for bombing countries left and right, resulting in a mass genocide of Africa when a second wave of Ebola hit in 2025. This didn't make any sense though. The American military had been yelling at him for the past four years that they were on the brink of World War IV. So, now how is it possible that they found this? 

The End

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