The team sat in silence for almost 30 minutes as their emotions stabilized. Jayce stood up slowly as his feet's rustling caught the attention of others. Ornelas followed suit and one by one, the rest of the team. They stared at each other blankly, with tear marks still visible on Artemus' and Rissa's faces. The stillness was deafening before being broken by Jayce's soft words.
"Come on. Kanith didn't sacrifice for us to sit around. What we can do for him is to survive and escape so he didn't die in vain." Jayce spoke gingerly. Ornelas agreed and started pumping some spirit into Viper. Their morale was low from pure shock and despair of what had happened. Ling seemed more frustrated than before and let out a burst of insults.
"We haven't got all day for you guys to sulk around and be so wimpy! I wanna escape and live, although that doesn't seem like the case for you weaklings!" she hollered.
"Why don't you sod off?! We don't need your stinkin' attitude or your useless words here!" Artemus roared back at her. The argument was getting more heated by the second and before Ornelas could break them up, something else did.
The familiar yet dreadful cry of a Banshee echoed from deep into the secret base. Viper froze and looked at each other, eyes filled with fright.
"More Beasts in here. Seems like many managed to enter here before they locked down in the entire place. Which means people escaped through here, leaving the door open. That means there's an escape door here." Jayce theorized. Ornelas agreed and added on.
"Seems like the door locks here are programmed to self-destruct and thus lock itself forever should anyone open it after lock-down was initiated. So whichever door we go through, we go through it only once and we can't turn back." this had made their chances of escaping much more grim.
They paced through the secret base and despite seemingly silent and empty, the sense of beasts were in the air. Viper entered a small room and laid down their equipment. They had to travel even lighter now and thus can only carry what they had really needed. They unloaded some of their supplies and removed redundant weapons.
Artemus carried grenades and bombs, Jayce equipped a mechanical crossbow, Ornelas wielded a mechanical sword, Rissa brought her twin mechanical daggers, and Ling chose her mechanical whip. The mechanical whip was a marvel weapon that not only unleashed great force on impact but also coiled and bonded its target. They split up tools needed to break locks amongst each other and were ready to move on.
They tread under one's breath and the sound of Beasts were getting more audible the deeper they went.
Fortunately, the secret base had signs leading around, and they followed the path led by it. The team made their way around the base and Jayce's eyes spotted something. He pointed to the signboard, "Hey, look at that."
The signboard was filled with Japanese characters, but one of the arrows didn't. It did not contain any words or letters, but just a logo. A logo of a lion, snake and eagle bearing a shield with the Japanese Flag on it. He had almost recognize that as the England Military logo, but remembered it to be much different. He could not shake off how he felt he had seen that logo before.
Jayce tried to persuade the team to follow that sign instead of heading for the exit immediately. Ling refused and claimed she was going for the exit with or without them. Artemus chose to follow Jayce while Ornelas and Rissa were caught in the middle.
"It's okay, Sir. You should follow Ling. We'll catch up. She probably can't survive alone." Jayce assured Ornelas. Artemus chuckled at his insult while Ling was close to losing her temper. Ornelas, Rissa and Ling headed off looking for the exit while Jayce and Artemus followed the crest sign.
"Hey Jayce, I just remembered. Neither of us know Japanese, how are we gonna find the exit later?"
"Memorized it. Process of elimination led me to derive which were the characters that meant 'Exit'. In other words that bitch isn't really needed anymore." Jayce said while smirking to Artemus. They shared a laugh before arriving the room with the crest logo on the door.
They entered the room which was revealed to be a huge data room much like the one near the entrance of the military base. However instead of having Japanese characters above the screen, it had the word "ELF".
"What do you suppose that means?" Artemus questioned. Jayce shook his shoulders and stepped over to the keyboard. Despite the old technology in the secret base, the computer was still very much modern. He navigated around quickly but was soon blocked.
"This computer's security is a notch higher than the one I broke into just now. What could be even more secret than military plans?" Jayce asked rhetorically. However Artemus had an answer.
"Government plans." he suggested. It had made sense but yet made things even more confusing. Most government efforts are now spent on military affairs while country management plans had no reason to be in a military base, furthermore in secret. There was only one theory on Jayce's mind that seemingly was the only explanation and would potentially baffle matters up more.
Foreign Affairs. These words seem to fit the puzzle but yet had no reason to. All diplomacy between countries had been suspended for years. While deep in thought, a ringing siren brought him back.
He had triggered the computer's security alarm while hacking and had been detected. The siren was deafening and had been made worse by the emptiness and silence of the secret base. He quickly turned it off but it was too late. Cries of Beasts started sounding and time started running even shorter. Artemus was made nervous by movements in the hallway and the flapping of wings.
Jayce quickened his fingers and suddenly the computer flashed:
- ACCESS GRANTED -
All sorts of documents, treaties and images popped up all over the screen but they were distracted by the sounds of approaching Beasts once again before they could read them. Jayce promptly downloaded all the files into a portable drive and readied his crossbow. The first they saw was a swarm of Reapers which Artemus swiftly disposed of with his grenade.
However what came next was a four-legged savage that resembled a tiger, only twice the size. Jayce shot it thrice in a row but it kept charging. It was upon them and it pounced. The pair quickly rolled out of the way and sprinted off out of the room. The beast gave chase and it was soon clear that they had no chance of outrunning it.
Jayce spun around and shot it this time in both of its eyes. The Beast yelled in pain but kept charging, but now led by its other senses without its sight. Jayce pulled out a few arrows from its quiver and charged towards the beast.
He ran and as the beast heard him coming towards him, it pounced while Jayce slid underneath it with his own momentum from running. As he slid under the beast, he slashed through the beast's body with his arrows and it cut the its body wide open. The beast, in pain, fell and smashed into the wall and stopped moving shortly after.
Artemus walked slowly towards Jayce, smiling as he said, "Honestly if you don't make it out of here alive, none of us can."
Jayce smirked as a flying dagger zoomed right past him and it stabbed the beast behind him. It had gotten up and was attempting to take Jayce down with it. Jayce looked back at the source of the dagger and there it stood Ornelas, Ling, and Rissa, who the dagger came from.
"Looks like your sharp senses went blunt this time, smirk face." Rissa said sarcastically while grinning. They all hugged each other while Ling stood aside waiting.
"Sabres. Nasty business, they are. Surprised you're able to take it down single-handedly." Ornelas was genuinely impressed.
They started making their way along the path towards the exit as they brought each other up to speed of their own discoveries. The trio had found themselves led up to a door that had a modern virtual lock on it, and so went back for them to prevent locking anybody in or out. While returning to the pair, they had heard the siren sound and knew trouble had begun.
Jayce told them of his discoveries in the secret data room along with "ELF" and the theories they had. Viper could not make sense of what was happening as they reached the locked door.
"This is it. If we go through this door and it's the wrong way, we're trapped." Ornelas reminded.
"We already are, Sir." Jayce said. Ornelas nodded and gestured for him to start unlocking. The door was soon opened and they made their way through it hesitantly. As expected, once they passed, the lock self-destructed and locked them from going back out.
However things started to look ominous as soon as they realized they were in an enclosed room. It had a door out but it had no lock, button or device of any sort to open it. They were surrounded by tables, crates, bags of sand and a dim light.
They had found themselves unexpectedly more trapped than before, unsure of their chances of escape.
END OF CHAPTER 5