CHAPTER 35 - From Our Mistakes (2)
‘You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?’ ALICE sounded pissed.
‘What?! You think I should have just let them continue?’ Alex, not so much.
‘Your orders were to observe, and only observe.’
‘Of all people, for you to talk about orders?’
‘I never said I agreed with them, did I? Creek bed up ahead, twenty meters.’
‘I see it. How far to the LZ?’ (Landing Zone)
‘Four klicks. And up one.’
‘Shit. It’s gonna be close. Get CAS on station.’ (Close-Air Support)
‘Already done. Minotaur is on standby.’
Alex smiled and lengthened his strides. He leaped clear over the two-meter-wide creek bed, not breaking his gait in the slightest. Angry shouting in a foreign language drifted through the trees behind him, accompanied by the scattered sound of gunfire. A loud cracking noise happened right by his head as a tree’s bark splintered from a ricochet.
He continued to weave through the dense forest, even reaching out to hook his hand around some thinner trees as anchors for rapid turns. He didn’t bother looking behind him; he already knew what he’d see.
Roughly two dozen uniformed and armed Gerssian soldiers were chasing after him with all their might. And behind them by half a kilometer was the bioweapons testing facility he had been tasked with keeping an eye on.
‘There were children, ALICE...’
‘I know, Alex. You did the right thing.’
‘Not yet, I haven’t.’
‘Alex, if you miss pickup, we are walking to the FOB.’ (Forward Operating Base)
“I don’t give a shit. These monsters are getting taken out, here and now.”
He adjusted ALICE in her sling and drew two .45 pistols before turning around. Three shots rang out, and three pursuers, only a few seconds behind him, fell to the ground. More came into view, and the cries went up.
“Der Raud Vargr. Der Raud Vargr! NAPAD!”
“Oh, look. Isn’t that cute? They’re calling your name!”
Alex slowly stood up, holding ALICE at the low ready as he walked towards the lookalikes and their pets. The two he had been targeting moved back to take a defensive stance in front of the woman, while the combatant from before began walking towards him. The woman shouted something that Alex couldn’t hear over the distance, but the other man just ignored her and drew his sword.
The man’s face was contorted into an absolutely menacing smile. Alex recognized that gaze. It was the same as the soldiers from back then. A look that showed that this man would have no issues slaughtering children and didn’t even necessarily need a reason to do so.
They continued to walk towards each other as Alex made it past Quinn and ALICE addressed him.
‘This isn’t your place, Fenrir. Calm down and think.’
‘I am calm.’
‘Bullshit! I haven’t seen your mind this chaotic since the war! STAND DOWN!’
It was then that another voice popped into his head. A man with a gruff tone, oozing with power, spoke clearly within the thoughts that he had shared with ALICE for so long.
[Go, boy. Vent your anger. Let me see just what you are capable of.]
Alex didn’t stop, but he replied mentally as he kept moving. He could make out the features on the other man’s face, now.
‘A show, is it? I don’t know who you are, but if you interfere-’
[No, I wouldn’t dream of it. Do not fear, boy. I am merely an observer, for now.]
‘ALEX! Stop, please! I’m begging you. I have seriously bad vibes from this guy. So please, please stop what you’re doing!’
She sounded desperate, and he couldn’t think of a time when she had a tone that… afraid. What made it worse was that he wasn’t sure which ‘guy’ she was referring to. Just as Alex was about to falter, his rage dissipating, the man’s voice emerged once more.
[Prove to me that your anger is justified. Show me you have the strength to carry it out, and I shall become a treasured ally.]
Alex finally reached Encis, and the two stared at each other for long, silent moments, sizing their opponent up.
‘My Fenrir… Please don’t.’
‘Who are you?’
[You may address me as Wrath. And you’ve caught my eye, boy.]