The Value Of Trust
Tartarus opened his eyes and sat up with a groan. This was not the rooftop he had lost consciousness on. It was a makeshift cell jury-rigged from an old office and a portable plasma field generator. His hand shot to his head, and he breathed in relief. Alice was still in his brain, she was just offline for unknown reasons.
Sitting across from his, backwards on a chair, was the woman he had fought on the rooftop. Abigail was smiling, though her bandaged chest told Tartarus she too had not escaped the fight unscathed. Good. She would remember him.
“Why is the Agency here?” she asked simply, tapping the chair. Tartarus shrugged.
“They don’t tell me anything. I’m here because I can use a rifle.”
“The A.I in your head says different, Tartarus,” she said with a smirk.
She knew his code name and that he had an A.I implantation. What else did she know? The plan? He needed to warn the squad in the sewers.
“Someone did their homework,” Tartarus said, trying to be aloof. “But knowing me is only a fraction of the problem.”
Abigail stood and kicked the chair into the plasma field. It disintegrated before them both, and Tartarus now knew not to touch the field.
“We have your leader, Zeus, and the medic woman. They sung like lyre birds, Tartarus. We’re just verifying.”
“Now I know you’re lying. Zeus would rather shoot himself in the face than tell anyone what he’s planning, and Epione is Welsh. Getting her to talk in a way you can understand is impossible.”
Abigail knew that she’d been caught in a lie, but Serenity had tasked her to verify what Zeus had told her. People responded under pressure.
“Right now, Alice is deactivated,” she started, and Tartarus leaned forward. “But an E.M.P would kill her out entirely. Kaput. Dead... Unless you answer a question.”
“So far, all you’ve done is threaten me,” Tartarus quipped.
“Why did the Alliance attack us?”
Tartarus cocked his brow. “As far as I know, we didn’t. Our dossier said Selene attacked first.”
Abigail had confirmed what Serenity had said. Either this squad was grossly misinformed, or they were set up. Or they were lying. But he wasn’t lying, she could see it in his eyes, and his vitals hadn’t shifted one iota as he talked. He was only scared when she threatened Alice.
Abigail turned the field off, and Tartarus cautiously stood up. She jerked her head for him to follow, and the two assassins joined Serenity, Zeus and Epione in the next room.
Epione smiled and hugged Tartarus, an action he wasn’t sure how to respond to, so he awkwardly patted her on the back.
“They said you were wounded. Are you alright?”
Tartarus nodded, and felt a click in his brain as Alice, and his H.U.D, came online.
“-never going to! -... Oh, what happened?”
“I’ll explain later. Link with Zeus and Epione, and the others if you can.”
Alice complied, and Tartarus noticed the lights on his H.U.D turn on one at a time. Zeus. Epione. Enyo. Kurt. Minnie. He waited, then the lights turned orange for Dionysus and Marcella. Thanatos’ light flashed red.
“Zeus. Dionysus and Marcella have dropped out of contact, and Thanatos’ vitals are registered as dead. Should we break radio silence?”
“No,” Zeus said, then turned to Serenity. “Our squad’s in the sewers trying to root out the gang. If my squad members are in trouble, we must go and help them. We could use some help, though.”
Serenity nodded, then gestured to Abigail.
“Abby, you’re up.”
Abby nodded and walked to the armory to change her load-out and don some armor. Tartarus followed, since his rifle was pretty much useless now.
“Thank you. Once my squad is safe, we’ll determine how this conflict started, if you are willing to sit with us in peace.” Zeus said with his hand out.
Serenity took the hand and shook it. “Of course, Agent Zeus. The Selene Corporation stands ready to assist further should you need it.”
Thanatos was not dead, despite what his light suggested. The enemy had run out of orcs and had resorted to detonating the gas main with him next to it. The resulting explosion had knocked out Thanatos’ implants, and he was digging through rubble to escape the precarious position he now found himself in.
“In darkness, He will be my light,” Thanatos whispered to himself, his hands bloody from the explosion and the digging through metal and concrete.
As he moved a chunk of concrete, the entire pile groaned, and he stopped. Carefully, he kept digging, and it continued to groan, telling him that he was digging through rubble the supported his lifeline. He sat back and opened his destroyed backpack. The radio was busted, but he didn’t need it to send his voice. He set it to send, then sent out a signal of whines. Not knowing Morse code, he had to hope someone, maybe Enyo or Alice, knew what he was sending.
“My faith is tested but shall remain strong. None shall break my resolve, for I am armoured by His love.”
Zeus, Epione, Tartarus and Abby traveled into the underground, following the signal that Alice had received. According to the location, it was the last known place Thanatos was alive, so either he was alive, or someone was ripping his equipment off his corpse.
“Just have to say, Alliance,” Abby mused as they walked, “You guys are not what I expected.“.
“And what did you expect, Selene?” Tartarus said.
Abby laughed, but the sound was dripping with hatred.
“I expected gung-ho marines that take whatever they want because they can. You know, like you always do.“.
This statement alarmed Zeus. If the Alliance was not the good guy out here, as he was finding more and more evidence of, what did that make them? Were they a corporate entity, only concerned with profit? A paramilitary organization that expanded too much? The villain of the story?
“He’s nearby,” Alice said, interrupting Zeus’s thoughts on the matter.
The area had been destroyed by a massive explosion, a fact Tartarus confirmed by looking over the gas main. Rubble and bits of gore were scattered everywhere, and bloody footprints led to a metal door to the right of them.
“Thanatos?” Epione called out, only to be shushed by all three soldiers around her.
The door opened, and Thanatos walked out with a satisfied smile on his face. His plan had worked.
“God is good,” he said under his breath.
“All the time,” Zeus agreed this once, and patted Thanatos on the back. “Are you, soldier?”
Thanatos nodded, though it was clear the explosion and the fighting had taken a lot out of him. He needed to be removed from the field, but they still had not located Enyo or Dionysus. Splitting up was not something Zeus liked the idea of, especially in a warzone like the one they occupied. He needed to make a choice.
Dionysus leaned against the wall, breathing hard. Both she and Marcella had been walking for ages, led only by a dying flashlight and the smell of sewage. Dionysus sighed audibly as her feet splashed in the water.
“Do we even know where we’re going, Marcella?”
Marcella shook her head. “We need to get out of the sewer, though. The battery on this thing isn’t going to last forever.”
Dionysus nodded. Despite being in the future, they were still beholden to batteries. She thought being in the future that the problems of yesteryear were but a mere memory.
The flashlight flickered, and Marcella groaned, then stopped, making Dionysus bump into her.
“What is it?” Dionysus asked before feeling a pinch on her neck. Her legs felt lighter, and her eyes unfocused. She fell into the shallow water, hearing Marcella call out to her. Her voice was too faded to make out. But the final voice she heard was all too clear, before darkness took her. It was American, a New York woman.
“Looks like he does care.”
“What’s the plan, Zeus?” Epione asked quietly.
“We need to get Thanatos to the ship. He needs medical attention. But I don’t want to split up in a warzone again.”
Tartarus cleared his throat. “Zeus, I’m not going to be much use down here with this rifle. I can go back with Thanatos, and Sorel can cover you.”
Zeus didn’t like the plan, but he didn’t have many options. It was true that a sniper in close quarters was a terrible idea, and Thanatos needed to leave. Abby wouldn’t leave the his side, and Epione was not ready to protect Thanatos on this level.
“Alright,” he relented. “You two go up, we’ll find the others.”
Thanatos grunted from the Medifoam Epione pushed into his wounds, to protect him from infection and blood loss until he could be seen by a medical professional in a sterile environment.
“I will last, sir,” he said simply, but Zeus waved him off.
“I’ll decide that, Thanatos. You and Tartarus are going up, and that’s final.”
Thanatos didn’t argue, and Epione transferred him to Tartarus’s arm. The sniper hefted him up with all his strength, and held his rifle with his remaining hand.
“Good luck, sir,” Tartarus said, leading Thanatos out of the tunnel. Zeus sighed as he watched them leave.
“We need to find the others. They’re down here, I know it.”
“I’ll be honest, Zeus,” Epione said as she packed up her medical kit. “With just you two, I hope we run into Kurt first.
“So do I,” Zeus admitted.
Kurt ducked behind the corner, holding Minnie back from the firing line. Enyo, on the opposite side of the corridor, had her handgun ready.
“Who are these bitches?!” Enyo called over.
Kurt tried to peer around the corner, and he was forced to move back when a bullet punched into the pipe.
“Whoever they are, they’re good shots.”
Minnie dug into her toolset, and pulled out her compact mirror. She leant over with the mirror and held it slightly so Kurt could peer around the corner.
Before the mirror exploded and Minnie shrunk in terror, Kurt saw an emblem. A cobra. He didn’t recognise it, but an emblem suggested organisation.
“Alright,” he said to himself. “This is going to get messy.”