It was a lot harder than I remembered getting up at four thirty in the morning. Maybe it was just because I’d only slept two hours. After I turned off my alarm, I stared at the ceiling debating whether or not I should get up, and then decided that I would never live it down if I slept in on my first full day back. So I got up, showered and started drying my hair.
As I dried my bright red hair, I studied my self in the mirror of my large bathroom. Dmitri was right, I had gotten older, but it wasn’t in a bad way. My face just looked more mature than before, and I had a few more freckles than normal. My eyes had changed colors again. They were currently an electric blue. They tended to rotate through blue, grey and green. It was great for undercover operations, because no one could ever pin point my eye color.
I finished with my hair and threw it up in a tight bun. I headed to my closet and grabbed the nearest pair of cargo pants, black sleeveless shirt and best pair of lace-up boots. After getting dressed, I grabbed my black jacket from the edge of my bed and headed out of my room.
I immediately walked over to the coffee maker, but then realized there wasn’t any coffee in the can. I open my fridge, only to find an empty white space. I had no food. I glanced over at the clock on the stove, 5:05. I need to leave in twenty minutes if I wanted to make it to training on time, so there was no way I could go get food and get back in time. Then there was a knock on the door.
“Yeah?” I yelled still debating on what I should do.
The door opened revealing both of the Belovik boys, who were dressed eerily similar to me, except they had their gear already on. Dmitri was carrying a plate of cooked eggs and ham while his brother was holding a thermos of coffee.
“Are you still not locking your door?” Daniil asked.
“Of course not,” I shrugged grabbing the plate from Dmitri, “At least not while I’m home. Anyways how did you know I was in need of coffee and food?”
“We helped you clean out your kitchen before you left, remember?” Dmitri said sitting across from me on one of the barstool. Daniil placed my coffee in front of my and then joined his brother at the bar.
I leaned over and grabbed a fork from the drawer to start eating. After a few bites, I looked up and realized they were both watching me.
“What?” I asked.
“You still love your food huh?” Dmitri laughed as I rolled my eyes and continued eating, “We should do something tonight.”
“Can’t,” I stated.
“You just got back, what plans could you possibly have already made?” Daniil asked raising an eyebrow.
“A Black Ops,” I replied taking another bite to eat.
“A Black Ops!” The both shouted.
“Oi, its too early to be shouting,” I chided them.
“Sorry, but a Black Ops? Seriously?” Dmitri asked, “You just got back yesterday.”
“Yes, seriously,” I nodded placing my fork on the empty plate, “It was suppose to be last night but Mason didn’t back until yesterday too, so Riley was able to push it back to tonight.”
“The General can be such an asshole,” Daniil said shaking his head causing both Dmitri and I to stare at him, “What?”
“You just called the General an asshole,” I said.
“You don’t swear at all, let alone bad mouth your superior,” Dmitri explained.
“Well, he deserved it,” Daniil shrugged, “You don’t make a two Colonels go head-to-head right after they both get back.”
“I agree, but its an order,” I said placing the plate in the sink and grabbing the coffee mug, taking a sip, “That’s some good coffee.”
“I know,” Daniil nodded making me wonder if he was referring to the order or the coffee.
I glanced back at the clock on the stove, “We need to start heading to training.”
“Why so early?” Dmitri asked cocking an eyebrow like his brother had earlier.
“I’ve got a meeting with the General at seven, so I need to be done by six thirty,” I explained walking over to the small table by the front door.
Neither one of them said a word as I grabbed my tactical utility belt and buckled it around my waist. Turning to the large cabinet next to it, I placed my hand on the sensor allowing it to unlock and open. I glanced around the cabinet and deciding on my twin silver pistols. Pointing the weapon down, I pressed the button on the side sliding the magazine out and noticed it was already fully loaded. I did the same with the other pistol as well, and found the same thing. I placed both pistols in my belt, one on each side and went to check my other weapons. All were cleaned, fully loaded and ready to go, even my famous pair of custom, sawed-off 12-gauge double barrel shotguns in a sleek silver design.
I turned and looked at the men sitting behind me, “Did you take care of my weapons while I was gone?”
“Of course,” Daniil smiled.
“Thank you,” I replied gently, “You didn’t have to do that. I took measures to make sure they would be fine.”
“We know that, but a weapons-meister is nothing without her weapons, right?” Dmitri laughed.
“I guess,” I chuckled lightly turning back to my cabinet, thinking that I would have to come back and decide what I wanted to take with me tonight. I shut it and locked it.
“Are you ready?” Daniil asked hopping off the chair carefully as to not catch any of his gear on it.
Dmitri did the same and I nodded making sure I had everything I need. I grabbed my keys and jacket off the Island and we headed down the hall to the elevator, after Daniil made sure I locked my door. We took the railway over the training center.
Around six forty-five, I found my self back in the railway heading to the main building in the center of the compound that house Sector One, including the General’s office. I stepped of the car and headed down one floor.
When the elevator dinged up, I was a little surprised. I had been in this office, multiple times, but it looks like it had been upgraded in the past couple of years. Everything was modernized, from the sleek white and silver desks to the brand new computers, and the clean glass walls. It made my office look outdated, even though it was built only a few years ago.
“Can I help you?” a voiced called and I was pulled out of my trance.
An older blonde woman sat at one of those fancy new desks with a silver computer in front of her face. She looked at me expecting an answer.
“Colonel Romanov,” I told her, “I’ve got a meeting with the General at seven.”
“Ah, yes,” the woman nodded, “we were expecting you, although you are early. Let me see if the General is ready for you.”
She picked up a skinny sliver phone that sat next to the computer and pressed a few buttons, which I assume connected her to the General’s personal secretary, said a few words then hung up.
“They are ready for you,” she said standing and motioning me down the long lane between desks, “The General’s office is just down there.”
“Thanks,” I muttered and headed down the hall where another older woman met me in front of the office and held the large door open for me.
“Ah, Colonel Romanov,” the General called as I walked in, “I see you came back safely.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied stepping down the little steps into the large rustic office.
This office was a strange comparison to the offices just outside the door. It was more country than you would expect. There was hardwood everywhere with bookshelves lining the walls and a small fireplace to the left. A huge bay window was behind the exceptionally oversized desk where the General was currently sitting in his brown leather office chair.
The General himself stood out in the décor like a sore thumb. His full white beard and hair, with his dark eyes and fair skin coupled with his pitch-black suit and tie, makes him look like a high-powered CEO instead of the General of the most powerful army in the world.
“I assume everything regarding that matter has been taken care of?” he asked in a sly voice knowing that he was referring to my double life as Jennifer.
“Yes, sir,” I replied in a slightly annoyed voice.
“Good, now with all that non-sense behind us, lets get down to business. Shall we?” he said with a triumphant tone.
I gritted my teeth, “Yes, sir. What is it that you have called me for?”
He leaned over and pulled a file from a drawer in his desk. He tossed the file on the desk and motioned for me to grab it. Looking over the contents I made the connection almost immediately.
“This is for this evening?” I asked without looking up from the folder and without an answer I continued, “Mason isn’t using all snipers like the last time?”
“No,” the General shook his head, “Due to the amount of damaged he caused last time with Sector Ten with all his snipers, I’ve asked him to only use a select few.”
“I see,” I nodded while closing the folder, “Is that it?”
“No,” he replied and tossed another folder at me.
Upon opening it, I was a little shocked. How did he get this information when Riley or I didn’t even have it?
“Where did you get this?” I asked looking up from the papers.
“I have my recourses, just like you do,” he said standing up from his chair walking around his desk, “I know you have been searching for him for what is it now, 15 years?”
“Yes,” I nodded.
“However,” he said pointing to folder, “that report is about a week old, so we don’t have his current whereabouts.”
“It looks like he is heading towards the States,” I thought out loud.
“Seems like it,” the General nodded.
“So, I assume you are still not letting me go after him?” I asked.
“Not yet,” he shook his head, “We’ve got bigger matters at hand that I will explain to you later. Besides we haven’t quite gotten the go ahead from the Council to peruse him.”
“Why not?” I asked a little angrily.
So it wasn’t just the General holding me back from the only mission I desired to go on. It was the Council as well. The Council is the group of leaders that give the General our missions from various countries, which then he hands outs to each Sector. The Council is made up of the leaders from every country that supports the organization. They above all have command over us. They always make the final decision.
“Because he’s not a wanted man in most of the countries that form the Council,” The General explained walking back behind his desk, “Actually I think he is only wanted in the States and one or two European countries.”
I let out a deep breath, “I see.”
“Anyways, I believe that is all I have to speak with you about,” he said sitting back in his chair, “I am looking forward to seeing how it goes tonight. We will all be watching.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said out of obedience as I bowed slightly and then he waved dismissing me.
It was nearing sun down and starting to get cold out, so I knew it was almost time to begin. We were standing outside the gates of Fatality Field preparing for tonight’s Black Ops. I glanced around noticing all my operatives were already on their guard. We were all dressed similarly in our combat gear, which was my typical daily choice anyways. Sector XIII only had 13 active operatives a side from me, so that would total 14 of us all together. Mason could have all the snipers he wanted but I’ve got the best of the best from every sector, I even have one of his snipers from a few years ago.
Earlier I had made sure I had extra rounds for all the weapons I was currently carrying. We were only allowed to use baton rounds in or weapons, because we wouldn’t want to kill a fellow operative. I had decides to leave my bow and arrow, sword and most of my knifes at home. I wouldn’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight now. Instead I brought my twin pistols that I had been carrying all day, my famous pair of custom, sawed-off 12-gauge double barrel shotguns that were in their holsters on my back, and lastly was my HK G36 Semi-Automatic.
I looked up at the two-story chain-link gate and got an eerie feeling about what was in there. It was just creepy to look at- a dark scary forest surrounded by two-story chain-link fencing. I have a bad feeling about this, but I wouldn’t let it show.
“We are ready whenever you are, Colonel,” Riley informed me stepping away from the rest of the group.
It was odd seeing her dressed in anything but the pencil skirt, but tonight she was dressed like me. Riley was originally from Sector II, but her fast draw with the pistol, her remarkable hand-to-hand combat skills and her tremendous assassination ability made her a top choice for Sector XIII.
“Thanks, Riley,” I nodded
I checked my earpiece underneath my black beanie to make sure I had contact with all my men and then I called them over to speak with them one last time before we headed in.
Once they were all gathered I spoke, “I know I haven’t been around much the past few years but I am relying on all of you tonight. I haven’t lost a Black Ops yet and I want to keep that streak. Mason lost to me last time and I bet he is out for blood tonight. Lets make it quick and get out clean!”
“You got it!” Tyler (a young man I recently acquired from Sector XI) yelled out.
I nodded to him and had everyone check their equipment one last time before we lined up to head in. They would be ringing the bell to start any minute. I still had a bad feeling about this, but I decided to ignore it and remind my self about the strategy my team had come up with to bring down Sector Eight. Stepping in front of the gate with my men behind me, I pulled up my mask that obscured the lower part of my face.
“Second squad down!” some yelled through my earpiece informing me that another team from Sector Eight had been taken down. That only made two more to go. We were almost two hours in, and at this rate we might just set a Black Ops record.
I leaned back against a tree and reloaded my shotguns, which I had switched out with my semi-automatic a few moments ago. Mason and I were currently playing a game of tag which was the original intent of our strategy from the get go. Mason’s team was a disaster if they didn’t have a leader, so I went off the assumption that he would be out for my blood and planned to keep him busy while my team took his out.
And it seemed to be working for now. However, I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be able to distract him before he realized his team was halfway wiped out. I realized that it was too quiet around me. Then something I wasn’t expecting happened. Mason stepped out in front of me with his hands up. I aimed my shotgun expecting one of his dirty tricks, but he shook his head.
“You need to see something,” he said.
“What did you say?” I ask a little dumb founded.
“There are civilians just to the south about a hundred feet from here,” he explained, “I saw them while I was chasing you.”
“Then why didn’t you radio it in?” I questioned.
“Because when you shot me with your pistol an hour ago, you hit my radio,” he said pulling the radio and showing me the damage.
“Oh,” I said, “How do I know you aren’t luring me into a trap?”
He opened his mouth to say something but he honestly didn’t have an answer for me, which oddly enough made me want to believe him. I sighed and knew how I could find out.
I tapped my earpiece turning it on while continuing to point my shotgun at Mason, “Is there a visual on all Sector Eight operatives?”
It was Riley, who replied first, “All Sector Eight Operatives are accounted for, except for Colonel Mason.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled and turned off my earpiece, “You’re not lying.”
“No, but I think the civilians need help,” Mason said stating the obvious, “lets go.”
I nodded to him and we took off in the direction he indicated earlier and true to his word there were four civilians sitting around a cut down tree in the middle of a small clearing.
However, those weren’t just any civilians, those were my civilians, my friends.
“Mason,” I called walking over to them and kneeling before one of them, “Call off the Black Ops and get a helicopter over here now.”
“I hate taking orders from you,” he grumbled but then did what I asked.
The siren went off that normally signaled a winner, and then he used my radio to call for chopper. While Mason was taking care of things, I put away my weapons but I had to hold on my semi-automatic as there was nowhere to put it. I looked over them and tried to assess the damage. They were wearing raggedy clothing and were extremely filthy like they had been here all night. They must be freezing. It was getting to be the end of fall where nights normally fell far below freezing. Other than that, there were no visible signs of trauma.
I placed a hand gently on one of girl’s shoulders shaking her to get her to wake up and thankfully she did. When her eyes met mine I lifted a finger to my cloth covered mouth indicating that she needed to be quiet, and then I pointed to the three others trying to get her to understand that she needed to wake them quietly. It was another miracle that she understood that and did what I asked, even if she was completely petrified while doing it.
Not a minute after they had all woken up, the chopper showed up lowering a basket for them to climb into. Once all four of them where in the basket, I placed a foot in the basket and held on.
While we were being lifted up I yelled over the noise of the blades, “Mason! Tell Riley to have my team go back to the office and I will meet them there!”
“You got it!” He yelled back then took off in the direction of the closest gate.
Even though Mason could be an ass, he was extremely reliable and at the end of the day we were playing for the same team. I looked back at the four people in the basket. They were terrified. I would be too if I woke up in a random forest with two people who held a bunch of weapons. It probably wasn’t the most welcoming we had ever been. The basket finally reached the chopper and the pilots helped them climb in as I swung my self over. Immediately as they were seated and buckled I threw them each a pair of headphones and putting on one my self.
A minute later, the one of the civilians named Thomas asked, “Where are we going?”
I looked up at him. I didn’t really like Thomas. I thought he was way too cunning and sly, but he was married to the girl I had woken up named Lizzie. She was at one point was my best friend, or Jennifer’s best friend I should say. I also wasn’t sure how to answer his question so I asked one of the pilots and repeated back what he said.
“To see the General,” I said, “He’s the man in charge around here.”
“What is here?” the other guy named Ian asked.
Ian was a guy that I as Jennifer dated on and off over the course of two years.
“Area 84,” I replied knowing full well they would have no idea what that was.
After that we sat in silence at the chopper flew. I had forgotten how far training field 42 was away from the rest of the compound, but I noticed we weren’t heading to the Sector One. So I turned around and asked one of the pilots what was going on. They informed me that the General was waiting for us at the hanger for the choppers. I nodded to the pilot and was content with that.
I looked back at the four civilians sitting a cross from me. The last girl all the way to the right, Zoe, who was Ian’s cousin and a very good friend wouldn’t take her eyes off of me, but I told my self there was no way she would have been able to recognize me. My hair and eyes were a completely different color and the mask was obscuring the lower part of my face, not to mention I had protective glasses on as well.
I let out a deep sigh as the chopper started to descend. I hopped up from my seat and placed the headphones back where I got them. As soon as we got close to the ground, I slid the side door open so I could get out as soon as the chopper hit the ground.
Like I was expecting the General was standing there waiting for us, with his suit and all. I hopped out of the chopper and slung my gun over my shoulder and started to walk past him, but my hopes were crushed as he called out to me.
“Colonel,” he said turning around so he was facing me then pointed to the four standing behind him, “I believe you have forgotten something.”
“What would you like me to do with them, General?” I asked in a slightly more sarcastic voice than I had intended.
“Lets start by heading to my office, so we can talk about the situation in private, shall we?” he said pointing to a couple of black SUVs.
Unlike the rest of the compound, the hangers were the only place that wasn’t connected by the railway; so to get there you need to take a car and drive. I headed towards the cars and noticed that my acquaintances were being shuffled into a different car than the General. So I made a split second decision that I would rather be with them, than the General.
They were all sitting in the back two rows of the cars, so I hopped in the front seat and immediately made a phone call from the car’s phone. The driver flicked on the headlights and put the car in drive following the other SUV.
“Hello?” Daniil’s voice rang through the phone after a couple rings.
“Daniil, its me,” I said.
“Why are you in one of the SUV’s?” he asked.
“I will explain that later,” I brushed him off trying to get to my point, “but can you please bring me two sets of male clothing and two female? Please? Oh and a few blankets.”
“Why?” Daniil asked with a hesitant voice.
“I will explain later,” I repeated, “If I wanted to be questioned about it I would have called Dmitri.”
“Alright, alright,” he said defending himself, “You don’t have to pissy about it.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled, “Thanks Daniil.”
“Hey, where am I bringing this stuff too?”
“The General’s office,” I replied.
“You really have a lot of explaining to do,” he sighed and even though I couldn’t see him, I knew he was frustrated with me. I could hear it in his voice, “but because you’re my little sis, I will do as you asked.”
“Thank you, Daniil,” I said, “I owe you one. I’ll se you soon.”
“Alright,” he said before he hung up the phone.
By the time we pulled into the garage below the main building, Daniil had already beaten us there. Walking up to him, I grabbed the small duffle bag that he handed from me. I then passed him my semi-automatic that I had been carrying. He gave me a questioning look then glanced up eyeing the four behind me.
“The hell?” he mumbled then looked down at me again with a wide-eyed look relaying to me that he knew exactly who they were, “They…”
“No,” I stated cutting him off.
I gave him a harsh look as I walked away following the rest of the envoy to the elevator, but before the elevator closed I softened and gave him an apologetic look. He smiled and shook his head.
For the second time that day, I found myself standing in the General’s office. It must have been a record. I looked at the clock that was above the fireplace. It was around eleven. I sighed knowing I wasn’t going to get any extra sleep tonight like I’d hope.
I looked over at the group of people I use to know. They still looked a little petrified, but at least they had clamed down. They looked better in the clothes Daniil had brought, even if they were ill fitting for them. The two girls had the blankets wrapped around them and I noticed they were slightly shivering. It made me wonder just how long they had been out there in the clearing.
The General and I were the only other people in the office. I was leaning up against one of the bookshelves on the side of the room with my arms and legs crossed, and my head down. I kept glancing between the two trying to figure out what each side was thinking. The General was leaning over his desk with his chin resting on his hands that was clasped together while his elbows supported him. It was quiet in the room as he eyed them for what seemed like an eternity, which probably didn’t help their nerves.
“What are your names?” he finally asked, but there was an awkward silence until he figured they were too scared to speak, “Look, we aren’t going to hurt you, but I need to figure out what’s going on. Its not everyday civilians like your self show up like this.”
Taking a deep breath, Thomas spoke, “My name is Thomas Walker, and this is my wife, Lizzie. That’s Zoë Collins and her cousin Ian Hartford.”
“I see,” the General nodded, “and you are United States citizens I assume?”
“Yes,” Thomas nodded. He was the eldest and as arrogant as he is, it didn’t surprise that he spoke for the rest of them, “May I ask you where we are?”
“Rest assured, you are still in the states, but I can’t disclose the current location,” the General stated and as if he noticed me for the first time since arriving he turned to me, “Romanov, you know the rules. Please remove your concealment articles.”
I straightened up and pushed off the bookshelves. When I don’t respond or move for a moment, the General prompted me by calling out my title. I gave in figuring they were going to figure it out sometime or another. I pulled off my black beanie, letting my hair down in the process and then I pulled off my protective glasses placing them inside the beanie. I put off pulling down the fabric off my face for last, but when I did, I got the exact reaction I was expecting.
They stared at me with wide eyes. I avoided their eye contact as much as possible, but I was never one to evade a problem. I always jumped in head first, so I looked up and caught Ian’s eye.
“Jen?” he whispered.
I shook my head, “Colonel Romanov.”
“Oh,” he replied but I could tell he still knew it was me and so did everyone else in that room.
“Romanov, would you care to explain what’s going on?” the General asked.
I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding, “I know them or rather, my alias Jennifer Jones knew them,” I started to explain, “I don’t know how they got into the Area 84, let alone into the Black Ops. I told you earlier that this whole matter was suppose to have been taken care of, but obviously there are some loose strings that need to be tied up.”
“Obviously,” the General shook his head, “I will contact Sector II in the morning and see what they can do. However for now, we need to decide what do with them.”
“Stick them in the suites we use for the Ambassadors,” I shrugged.
“Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be appropriate for them unattended,” the General said with a cunning sneer.
“Hold on,” I said I held up a hand in protest knowing exactly where he was going with this, “You aren’t seriously suggesting they…”
“Will be staying with you,” the General finished for me cutting me off in the process, “Lets be welcoming and make our guests comfortable by staying with someone they know. Report back here at eight. There are packs of essentials for tonight waiting for them in the lobby. You are dismissed.”
I gritted my teeth, “Lets go,” I commanded and plowed out the door with my previous acquaintances trailing closely behind me.
True to his word there were four small black bags sitting on the desk of the secretary I spoken to earlier that day. It was almost like the General knew this would happen, but I pushed that thought to the back of my mind. I had bigger problems right now. I grabbed the handles of the each bag, two in each hand and then tossed one to each of them.
“Keep up,” I ordered and pressed the button for the elevator, which we rode up in silence.
We went from the main building of Sector I to the dormitories via the railway. I marched down the hallway to my apartment with the small group right on my heels. I guess they really did fear that I would leave them behind. I unlocked my apartment and swung the door open. Daniil and Dmitri were there of course.
“Gin!” Dmitri stood up from the couch the instant I walked in.
He didn’t flinch at the group behind me, and neither did Daniil. News travels fast around here. If they already knew, then so did every other agent and operative. I slammed the door shut once they had all gotten inside, and locked it. It suddenly felt way to constricted in here with seven of us.
I pointed to the door on the left side of the piano, “There are two bedrooms and one bath. That’s where you will be staying. Everything you need is in those bags. I will be gone by five thirty tomorrow morning, however you will be staying here as I will find some to watch you.”
They only nodded in reply, still too shocked to speak. Dmitri and Daniil looked at each other and the elder shook his head.
“Go,” I ordered both directing it to Dmitri and Daniil as well as the other four.
The group of four hustled to the bedroom and shut the door quickly. Once the door was closed I let out a heavy sigh.
“Don’t be so hard on them, Gin,” Daniil said putting a hand on my shoulder momentarily then headed to his place.
“Be strong,” was the only thing Dmitri said knowing exactly what I needed. He kissed the top of my head and followed his brother out.
Then I was alone. I walked over my front door and locked it. A moment later I found myself sliding to the floor with my back against the door. One leg propped up and the other stretched out. I ran my hand through my hair screwing my eyes shut while I let my other arm rest on my propped up knee. It was silent so I leaned my head back on the cool wood of the door, and sat there trying to wrap my mind around the screwed up situation I was in.
In that instant I wasn’t aware that Ian had cracked the bedroom door open and had seen my momentary state of weakness. It had been one hell of a day.
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