Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
“This is bull...”
Yet again, Apollo was annoyed at his assignment. Not only was he sent to do something away from the other members of Olympus, he was being forced to babysit two crew members. The short guy looked like he could survive a scrap, but the slender woman with pointed ears? Probably best to keep her away from the battle.
This was if there was a battle. Apollo had spent the last 15 minutes following the Elf, her assurances that they were getting closer starting to aggravate him.
“Don’t have to like you mission to do it, sir,” Kurt said, peering into a nearby room. He was still taking this dead end job seriously.
“I’d prefer shooting something over this tedious crap any day. Are we there yet?”
“For the 50th time, no,” Minnie said irritably. “We have two more wings ahead of us, and we need to go slowly in case there are traps, or ambushes, or survivors.”
“Who died and made you captain?” Apollo groaned.
“How old are you?!” Minnie said incredulously.
Tartarus and Dionysus were making good headway into the facility, taking care and respect not to step on any of the bodies lying on the ground, until Alice beeped in Tartarus’s comm unit. The man stopped, then snapped his fingers to catch his partner’s attention.
Dionysus nodded, and took a position on one side of the door as Tartarus took the other. Carefully, he pushed the door open, then retracted his hand when a screwdriver shot out and impaled the wall.
“Christ, is that a screwdriver!?”
Inside, just in their view, was a man behind creatively made cover of desks and lab tables, holding a handmade crossbow, quickly loading another screwdriver into it.
“Just keep on moving, you Black Feather creeps! I’m armed, and if you even think of-”
“Dr. Wilson?” Dionysus said calmly from her position on the wall. “My name is Agent Dionysus, I’m with the Alliance.”
Silence. But the man didn’t move, as if he didn’t actually believe her.
“Agent... That’s not an Alliance rank I know.”
“I’m telling you the truth. I’m going to put my weapon on the ground, Doctor, and come inside with my hands up. You’ll be able to see I’m not a Black Feather.”
Dionysus did what she promised, placing her rifle on the ground in the doorway to show him she was telling the truth, then she rose her hands and stepped inside slowly.
Riley Wilson was not having a good time of it. His blonde hair was matted and unruly, beard grown out ragged and full of crumbs, his eyes wild with sleep deprivation and paranoia. But they scanned Dionysus’s armor, and he nodded. She was far too well armed to be one of those terrorists.
“About time you lot showed up. I sent that distress call weeks ago”
“As far as I know, Doctor, we were sent A.S.A.P,” Dionysus said as Tartarus walked in with her rifle outstretched to her.
“Ain’t an issue, either. We’re here, now, and you’re one of our objectives.” Tartarus said bluntly.
Riley rolled his eyes. “Of course I am. Can’t work half of the stuff here without me. But special operations teams are larger than two people. I’d hazard a guess that the other ‘agents’ are elsewhere?”
“Mhmm,” Tartarus said unhelpfully, then moved to check the hallway.
“Our other two objectives are to download everything with the mainframe, and destroy the facility. But our radios haven’t been working, so I’m unsure if-”
“It’s them,” Riley said angrily, “Black Feather. They came here weeks ago, claiming we were destroying the planet here and then they started to kill unarmed scientists and technicians. This is a research planet. There’s no mining here, no resource gathering. It’s a tundra, what are we going to find?”
Riley sat down in his office chair and sighed, then grabbed his thermos and sipped from it.
“Been keeping myself awake with a mixture of stimulants and coffee. But every human needs sleep, and I’m making more and more mistakes. With you two here... we can finally kill her.”
Tartarus perked up at the mention of murder, and turned to look at Riley.
Thanatos sliced his sword through the device Enyo had pointed out to him, and their comms crackled back to life. Immediately, Enyo sent a pulse to the other members of Olympus Squad. Tartarus and Dionysus responded in seconds, with Epione not too far behind. Apollo finally did so after a minute, and Enyo counted the pings.
“Not including us, only Zeus did not respond, but if Epione did, we can assume he is safe.” Enyo concluded, then activated her comms. “This is Enyo. Thanatos and I have re-established communications by destroying a jammer. We may be close to Dr. Wilson. Over.”
“This is Dionysus,” came the response, “Get out of there. Black Feather have taken the facility, and you just destroyed their jammer.”
Thanatos turned at this with his sword raised, and felt the slug smash into his chest, through his armor, knocking him into the wall. Enyo quickly knelt down beside Thanatos, and attempted to remove his armor to check the wound.
The attackers came into the room, all weapons aimed at Enyo, and another woman walked in after them. She was dressed in a similar suit to the agents, though black instead of blue, and her armor appeared to be made of some kind of wood. The pointed ears gave her away as one of Minnie’s race, and Enyo stared at her in case Alice could see it.
Upon the re-connection, Alice was treated to a barrage of sights all at once, but what stuck out for her was Enyo’s sight. Surrounded by people clad in green and black, with a symbol of a blackened feather on their shoulder, led by a woman that sent alarm bells in her files.
“Tartarus?” Alice said, causing the assassin to drift away from the conversation he and the others were having.
“Target sighted, designation: Evanthe Starflower. Leader of the Black Feather Eco-terrorist group. Wanted for mass murder, arson, grand larceny and vandalism. Currently holding Agents Enyo and Thanatos hostage.”
“Alright. Forward this to Apollo in case his group finds them first. Contact with Zeus?”
“Zeus is still offline, but I can contact Epione or Faransai if you want.”
Tartarus nodded, and his line singled-out Epione’s communications.
“We have Riley, but Enyo and Thanatos have been captured. With Zeus out of commission, I’m informing you that we plan to go get him”
“No,” Epione responded, “our mission was to get Riley, you can’t put him at risk like that. Besides, I still can’t get through to Apollo. Remember the bomb!?”
“Then Dionysus will go back with Riley, and I’ll stay. She needs a mission where she doesn’t get mortally wounded.”
Dionysus rolled her eyes, but nodded. Riley seemed annoyed by this turn of events, but he had paled at the mention of a bomb. So The Alliance really had written off the facility...
“Just make sure everyone comes back, then, Tartarus. Please.”
Tartarus grunted in the affirmative, then hung up. “Dionysus, go. The focus is on Thanatos and Enyo right now. I’m going to go greet our new friends.”
“With guns?” Dionysus said quietly.
“Just try to stop me”
Enyo walked ahead of her captors with her hands tied behind her back. Based on the signs, they were taking her and Thanatos to the computer core, likely to extract everything they could with Enyo’s help. If that was the case, Enyo steeled herself. Her allies were going to open fire on them, she guessed. That meant she had a split second to react when he did. Enyo only hoped that Thanatos had come to this conclusion as well.
Thanatos had indeed, but his concerns were on being armed after the fact. His captor had his weapon, so he would go straight for it. Were he to get his righteous blade, these Eco-terrorists would not stand a chance against him.
“Good luck,” Thanatos whispered to his captor behind him. The flash in his eyes when he looked back was enough to make anyone panic.
The Black Feather arrived at the computer core, fifteen men and women in green armour, including their Elven leader. Enyo and Thanatos were pushed into the room first, alerting Kurt and Apollo at the mainframe. Minnie was busy arming the bomb, so she didn’t notice right away.
“Step away, you Alliance lapdogs!” Evanthe commanded. Apollo rose his gun and aimed at Evanthe. Kurt followed his lead and aimed at the one holding Enyo hostage.
“Gotta wonder if you know anything about us,” Apollo said, and Evanthe rose her eyebrow. “We don’t deal with terrorists.”
Apollo fired and caught Evanthe in the chest. She fell back. As soon as Apollo said his line, Kurt executed the one holding Enyo, who ran forward and dived under one of the desks. The Black Feather, now realizing they were under attack, opened fire at Apollo and Kurt. Kurt spun around and pressed his back against a pillar. Apollo did the same, but took a bullet in his leg.
“Dammit,” Apollo muttered. “Minnie, get down”
A bullet hit the console to emphasize the point, and Minnie crawled under another desk.
Thanatos rose his fist behind him and punched his captor hard in the face, breaking his nose. Before the guard fell, the agent grabbed the hilt of his sword, then drew it from his enemy’s belt.
“I missed you, too,” he cooed, then his eyes flashed that manic light as he charged at another Black Feather. Down a few men now, the Black Feather turned to a target they could actually hit. Thanatos found multiple bullets hitting him, his torso, arms and legs now sporting new holes. Thanatos knelt down, using his sword for support. He felt a barrel to his temple. Then he heard a bang.
But Thanatos was not dead. Apollo had rounded his cover and blown his supposed executioner’s head off. Apollo dropped his now empty gun, drew his knife, and went to help his squadmate. Kurt provided covering fire from his position. Apollo leapt and dug his knife into the face of a surprised terrorist.
They were all down. No deaths. Thanatos and Apollo would need Epione to help them, but with the Black Feather down, Riley would surely have a reason to join them.
Minnie came out from her cover, and checked the console.
“Uh oh,” she said.
“What is it?” Apollo said, checking his leg. The bullet had gone through.
“That shot has destroyed the console. I can’t do a remote detonation. It has to be done manually.”
Apollo swore. Just their luck.
“Well, I for one, vote for-”
A shot rang out, and Apollo felt cold. The bullet had hit him in the back and sheared through his stomach. It was a lethal hit. Evanthe was still alive, and they had dropped their guard. She aimed her gun at Kurt. Minnie made a decision that would change her life forever. She ran and pushed Kurt out of the way. The shot hit Minnie, going through her throat and making her fall, choking on her own lifeblood. Kurt fired and hit Evanthe in the face, killing her.
Apollo stared at his blood and grinned.
“Guess I’m staying behind” he commented. “Take the elf and go.”
Apollo walked over slowly to the console, and started pulling wires out from the console.
“I might not know much, but I know how to blow shit up. Go!”
Enyo helped Thanatos up, and Kurt scooped Minnie into his arms, and the four took off. As they approached the door, Tartarus came in.
“No time, run!” Enyo yelled at him. Tartarus looked over to Apollo, and nodded.
“You know he won’t bring you back if you willingly die, right?” Tartarus said softly.
“Nevada can shove it. I was happy being dead. Heaven’s full of beautiful dames.” Apollo joked, then coughed up a puddle of blood.
“Alice, leave a subroutine with Apollo. He doesn’t deserve to die alone.”
Alice complied, and Tartarus ran off after the others. Apollo glanced at the subroutine of Alice, who didn’t have her mind, but she had a calming face. Friendly. Trustworthy.
“Alright... Can you help me arm the bomb?”
Alice nodded, then made a few wires flash. Apollo pushed them together and tied them down, and the screen came back online. It was asking for a password.
The screen started having letters appear. G. U. E. S. T.
“You’ve gotta be fu-”
The explosion leveled the complex, and Tartarus rolled out of the door into the snow outside. Superheated metal melted the snow around the fireball. The bodies of Black Feather, Riley’s co-workers, and Agent Apollo, went up in an inferno. Olympus watched the explosion from their ship, and did not leave until the fire was embers.
“Rest in peace, Agent Apollo”
The shuttle that had been through hell landed in the bay with a sickening crunch, and it’s strut snapped, making the hull hit the ground. Phil groaned, and she forced open the emergency exit.
“Ok, it’ll take some time to fix this one, so we might have to use something else next time.” Phil said as she left ahead of Olympus. The shuttle ride back was quieter than usual. This was the second time they had lost a close squadmate. These Black Feathers were serious threats, so they needed more information on them.
Epione and Kurt lifted Minnie and Zeus up and took them to the medical bay, and were followed by Thanatos and Riley, who also needed medical attention. Riley only went, however, because Tartarus had threatened him at gunpoint.
This left Tartarus, Enyo and Dionysus to report to Nevada. The lack of their commander would surely be noticed, and Tartarus wasn’t exactly great at talking to people. They needed a game plan.
“I say Dionysus talks to him,” Tartarus said as they walked towards the briefing room.
“Why do I have to do it? You’re the commander right now.”
“True, but Tartarus will probably insult him by accident,” Enyo offered, agreeing with Dionysus taking the lead.
Two against one, Dionysus resigned to the fact she’d be speaking to their superior. Not having Zeus with them was far scarier than she thought it would be.
The three agents walked into the briefing room, and sat down, waiting for the console to beep. Nevada always called on time when they reported the mission was finished, and Belle had sent the ping when they landed. So all they had to do was wait.
“Apollo...” Tartarus murmured, and Enyo sighed. Though they all made fun of him at times, his loss was felt in the group.
“Like Cerberus, we’ll remember him,” Enyo said quietly. Though they didn’t have a ship to name after Apollo, they’d find something.
The console beeped, signalling a waiting call. Tartarus cracked his neck, Dionysus breathed out, and Enyo crossed her leg over the other. Then Dionysus pressed the button.
No hologram this time, which suited the three agents fine, though the dark, silky voice of Captain Nevada was still enough to make the hairs on their arms stick up.
“Report.” he said simply. So Dionysus began.
“We arrived on Bjarni to find the complex seemingly abandoned. We split up to complete three objectives. Upon entrance, however, our shuttle crashed and Zeus was wounded. Epione and Zeus remained behind, and we took two non-agents into the complex.”
“Unorthodox, but proceed.”
“Tartarus and myself went to secure Dr. Wilson, and were successful. He is currently in the medical bay as he has gone days without sleep, perhaps a week or longer. Thanatos and Enyo were on data-pulling duty, but were captured by Black Feather.”
Nevada let out a thoughtful hum. It was clear mention of Black Feather annoyed him.
“While Apollo, Traverstine and Warsaw went to start the self-destruct of the facility. I returned to the shuttle with Dr. Wilson, while Tartarus moved to assist Thanatos and Enyo. However, Black Feather had moved to stop the third team. A firefight ensued with mass casualties on Black Feather’s side, and three on ours. Thanatos and Warsaw are in medical currently, but Apollo remained behind to ensure the explosion. I must report he has been killed in action.”
“KIA... very well. I will give Olympus a day to recover from this ordeal, but then I expect you to continue on to your next mission. I am sending you to the planet Logan Prime, where a squad of agents has been requested by Alliance personnel. I will send the dossier to Belle, who can go over it at length later.”
“Yes sir, and thank you” Dionysus said with a relieved smile.
“Do not thank me, Agent. This time is for Zeus and Thanatos to recover, not to grieve. Understand?”
The Agents were quiet. That made more sense than him being nice to them.
“Yes, sir... We understand.”