Out Of The Frying Pan
“This is a terrible mission!”
Epione growled at the briefing in her hands. Tartarus also seemed annoyed by the briefing. A three-way war with the Alliance one of the sides. The second side was an executive kill squad from a high-end corporation, Selene. Finally, the last faction appeared to be some sort of local gang, yet were incredibly well-armed, fighting from the tunnels.
“It might be terrible,” Zeus said quietly, “but it’s our mission. So we’ll do it to the best of our ability.”
“Why us?” Epione said.
“With the loss of Apollo, and our collective injuries from the last mission, we need to prove that we’re still the asset we say we are. That we’re worth keeping. Olympus Squad is nothing but an investment to Nevada, so, until he sees us as worth his time and money, we get the crappy jobs. And we’ll do the crappy jobs like they’re gold. Understood?”
Zeus rounded on Epione, his eyes boring into hers. Her words died in her mouth.
Zeus nodded, and brought up the map of the war zone. The landing zone was just outside Alliance territory, where they would be briefed by one Desmond Wilkes, the man in charge of the Alliance forces below. Then, they’d either have to get across No Man’s Land to the Selene base of operations, or enter the tunnels to flush out the gang. Whatever they chose to do, it would be a bloody and risky fight.
“So, without Apollo, we need a new gunner. Dionysus, I need you to step up.” Zeus glanced at Dionysus, who nodded, re-planning her load-out.
None of the agents answered. What else could they say? Zeus had just confirmed what they all feared. Apollo was not coming back, despite the cloning technology. Nevada really had lost faith in them.
“Good. Phil, load out a shuttle. We’re going planet-side. All of you, be ready in ten.”
The agents nodded and left, leaving Zeus alone to plan his load-out.
But the door opened after a minute of silence, and Kurt walked in, clearing his throat.
Zeus gestured with his hand for Kurt to continue, not looking up from his PDA.
“Permission to accompany the ground team?” Kurt said, straightening up.
“At ease, Kurt. Permission granted, but it will be extremely dangerous. And if you go, Minnie will have to go as well. Are you ok with that?”
Kurt seemed to wrestle with this in his mind. His duty her was to ensure Minnie did her job and didn’t rebel, but at the same time, with Apollo K.I.A, the team needed a new member to take over. Kurt nodded, and Zeus made the changes to the party.
“Alright, then. Get your load-out ready and prep Minnie for high-stress combat situations. You have 8 minutes.”
Kurt turned on his foot and left the room. Zeus sighed, and read his P.D.A again. In the tunnels, Tartarus would be next to useless, but in No Man’s Land, Thanatos would be in the same boat. Was it possible to divide and conquer?
The shuttle was full of people, but was as quiet as a church mouse. Even the normally talkative Enyo said nothing. Kurt’s presence made them all feel a little better, as did Minnie with her toolkit, but Apollo’s death had reminded them all of Cerberus, and the other agents that didn’t even get as far as they did. That, and that they’re lives were still finite, despite what was promised to them.
Finite so long as they angered Nevada.
“We’re approaching the L.Z. It’s hot, sir!” Phil said through the intercom, breaking the silence.
“Roger,” Zeus replied. “Do your best and open the hatch. Tartarus, Kurt, Dionysus, with me.”
Zeus stood with his chosen agents, and readied his rifle. Once the hatch opened, the sound of gunfire filled everyone’s ears. Zeus and Dionysus fired their assault rifles, and Tartarus picked off several of the Selene agents. Kurt was ready, for once the shuttle landed, he barreled out at a brave Selene agent, and knocked him over.
“Olympus! Move out!”
Zeus and Dionysus left together, keeping a line of suppressing fire to allow Enyo and Epione to leave the shuttle and take cover. Thanatos sprinted out, leapt over Kurt, and stabbed another corporate agent with a cackle.
“You are my war club, my weapon for battle – with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms!”
Tartarus joined Enyo and Epione, but kept the enemy back by continuously taking out the hard-cover targets. Brass fell from his gun, which Enyo collected for later.
Once Minnie left the shuttle, Phil took off at high speed, back to the Cerberus in orbit. Minnie ran for cover, and started programming her little surprise for the agents.
“Anytime, Minnie!” Zeus called out.
Minnie smiled, then pressed the button on her generator. A blast of red energy left the generator, which threw back all non-Alliance signatures, buying Olympus the time to get behind the line.
Olympus ran spread out, towards the Alliance line. Kurt picked up Minnie and ran with the elf over his shoulder. Epione and Tartarus were dragging an Alliance soldier behind the line, which made them take longer. Once Zeus and Dionysus reached the line, they turned and laid down suppressing fire again.
“I said move, Olympus!”
Finally, Epione and Tartarus crossed the line, and the Selene personnel withdrew, resulting in a hearty cheer from the Alliance soldiers. Zeus breathed out, happy with the result. No one on his team was dead. They had done the first objective. Zeus started walking to the camp.
“We need to be briefed by Wilkes, Olympus! With me!”
As they walked, the soldiers were murmuring about their black armor. The murmuring couldn’t really be made out, but it was clear rumors abound about the black armor. Special forces who only showed up when the shit had really hit the proverbial fan. And they had sent an entire squad...
“We have a lot to live up to, it seems.” Enyo chuckled to herself.
“Epione, tend to the wounded. Tartarus, go set up a perch. Enyo, Warsaw, see if you can help with the defenses. Traverstine, Thanatos, Dionysus, do what you can to help the foot soldiers. Move out”.
The squad moved off to carry out Zeus’s orders, leaving him to enter the command tent alone. Inside was an aged man with graying hair and unshaven face, peering at the maps and intel he had received.
“You make a hell of a lot of noise for black ops,” the man said, not looking up. “But damn glad to see you here”
“Glad to be here. I was told I’d be briefed by Desmond Wilkes?”
The man said nothing, closing a folder, then turning to face Zeus.
“Desmond Wilkes is dead. Selene shot his bird down when he decided to go and get help personally. It landed in No Man’s Land, and it was swarming with those gangers. So you’ll have to deal with me. Luke Everett, Alliance Lieutenant.”
Zeus did not hide the apprehension on his face. If a lieutenant was calling the shots on a major Alliance world like this, the situation was indeed dire. Luke nodded, understanding the wordless statement.
“But, with you here, I think we have a chance. There are two sides, sir, if you’ll join me.”
Zeus went over to the map table, and examined it. Unlike his version, which was likely outdated, Luke’s map showed the Alliance losing ground to Selene and the sewers entirely overrun with gang members. Three areas were circled, one being Desmond’s ‘landing zone’. The second was a sniper’s alley that gave a straight shot to Selene’s base, and the third was a known entrance into the sewers.
“You’ve been busy,” Zeus mused.
“That’s what I’m paid for. Now, the sewers connect both Selene and Alliance sides, but with the gangs in there, we can’t use them. I want you and your squad to go through and mop up the gangbangers, then smash Selene while they’re unaware. You’ll enter through the sewer here, while I send some men to make it look like we’re running to save Desmond.”
“Won’t those men die?”
Luke sighed. “Probably. Definitely. Selene’s got some spitfire named Sorel on sniper duty. She doesn’t miss... not that we’ve seen anyway. But those men will buy you the time to get into the sewer.”
“Or, how about this,” Zeus grabbed a pen and began making modifications to the plan. Luke watched with a little uneasiness, then nodded as he realized the plan.
“You, sir, are brilliant. But is dividing your squad a good idea?”
“Olympus is ready for anything, even being divided.”
“Alright, so you will lead a team of marines to Desmond’s crash site with one of your agents?”
“Right. Tartarus will provide a counter-sniper to Sorel, buying more time, while Enyo, Dionysus, Traverstine, Warsaw and Thanatos go into the sewers and clean house.”
“I’ll signal my pilot to give us covering fire when team three is in position. Can you spare anyone to go with them?”
Luke thought about it. He went through his personnel reports, then pulled a name. “Marcella Winters. She’s been here longer than I have. Best to have a guide who knows the land, yeah?”
Zeus nodded, and held his hand out to Luke. The two shook hands, then left the tent to tell the others the plan.
“Does Luke know that part of the plan?” Enyo said with a grin.
“No,” Zeus said. “Once Selene captures Epione and myself, we’ll work on a ceasefire option, but your squad still needs to get through the gangs. If there’s a peaceful option, fine, if not, lethal force is authorized.”
Enyo nodded as Zeus turned to Tartarus, who was waiting for his assignment.
“Tartarus, you need to keep me and Epione alive. Take an elevated position that can see the entire route, and stay there. Once we’re captured, keep an eye on us, and if it looks like it’s going downhill, open fire. Also, Alice?”
Alice appeared in Tartarus’s hand.
“Alice, is there a way you and I could remain in complete constant contact so Tartarus can hear what I hear?”
“Good. That will help.”
“Why do I have to get captured with you?” Epione said, raising her hand.
“If I bring anyone else, we could be seen as a threat.”
Epione mumbled about being seen as the least dangerous of the squad but said nothing in response.
“Alright, we’ll head out in ten. Kurt, you’re in charge of the team fighting the gangs.”
Kurt nodded, and checked his weapons.
“You all know your duties. Now, get ready. Kurt, you also need to find a Marcella Winters. She’ll be helping you navigate.”
Everyone moved out except Epione.
“I’m ready when you are, Zeus...” Epione groaned.
Zeus grinned, and left as well.