Posted 26 Jan 2016 - 1709
"Look alive, Ladies... we hit the DZ in two minutes." The pilot states over the comms system. Mareth takes his headset off and heads to the door, Tsarg following suit. All of a sudden, Mareth feels a vibration in his suit, then the plane begins to shake a bit.
"Hey, no cell phones on this flight!" the pilot yells to the back. Mareth quickly reached through his suit and disabled the call, then waved up to the front of the plane. The plane started to ease up and steady out. The pilot looked back and yelled. "One minute to jump!"
Mareth looked back at Tsarg and winked like, "Aww yeah, I live for this shit." then looked to the door and opened it. A yellow light turned on signifying there was thirty seconds to jump. Mareth knew who the phone call was from. He knew Julie knew something was up. She normally didn't call this much while he was on assignment. Mareth took a deep breath to clear his thoughts and to focus on the mission.
Mareth flung himself out of the door and into the sunrise over the New York City skyline, Tsarg following in behind him. The air was cold, freezing to be exact. Mareth continued his freefall until his altometer alarm went off and he pulled his primary rip cord.
Mareth continued in freefall "That hasn't ever happened before." he thought, as he pulled his secondary
A pencil runs across a piece of paper in a flowing fashion. Drawing lines on paper as Sarah MacLachlan plays in the background. Julie needed to take her mind off of being alone for Christmas, so she began to pour herself into her work. Her cell phone rings as she draws, and she places her pencil down to answer it.
"Merry Christmas!" she responds, pretending to be cheery.
"No, Mother. Mareth hasn't called yet," she replies, then pauses and sighs. "I don't know when he's gonna be home."
Julie picks her pencil back up and begins to draw again, "I know Mom, but he makes really good money and this is one of his big..."
Julie fall silent for a moment as her mother speaks. "No, I don't think there's someone else. I just... I want to be able to plan my life and I don't feel I can do that with him just up and leaving in the middle of the night. "
She begins to listen to her mother. "Yes, I know he loves me. I'm just so tired of him leaving without notice and sometimes not coming home for months on end, and having these injuries he won't talk about. Some of them look like gunshots, Mom." Her mother begins to speak again.
"I just... I don't know what to think anymore. He's hiding something, I know it."
"No, I'm going to call him now. I need some answers."
She hangs up with her Mother and begins to dial Mareth.
A man sits in the corner of a barren, semi-lit room. His hands shaking while trying to light a cigarette. Light reflected off of his glasses and balding forehead.
"I knew it, man. I fuckin' knew it. First they poison us all, then they subjugate the living. Next thing you know, we're all slaves and bending to the 'Master's' will. You know what I mean, man?"
He looks over at a doll with a cartoonish smile painted on his face, eyes fixated on a point on the ceiling. The man snerks and takes another drag from his cigarette.
"Not like you give a shit."
He looks away and takes a long drag from the cigarette, holding it in for a moment. As he does, he takes a look around the apartment. He exhales as his eyes gazed upon the barren cupboards in the kitchenette giving no sign of food or supplies. "I've survived longer than all of them, man. Everyone thought I was crazy for stocking up on food, saving here and there, and keeping a gun in the house, man. They all thought I was nuts. I sure showed them! I showed them all! They were all like, 'Look Marcus...you need to lay off of all those barbs and the LSD, man... shit's making you more paranoid than you already are'. Them drugs didn't do anything to me, man. I knew this shit was coming. Saw that shit a MILE. AWAY."
Marcus took a deep breath, then took another drag from his cigarette. "No one thought Marcus LePage would beat them out, man. I did, though. I beat EVERYONE." Marcus began to cackle maniacally, then suddenly stopped.
"But there's others out there, man. Still other people trying to take what WE got." He looks back over to the doll. He begins to point down at the floor. "This is MY domain, man. No one's taking what I've got. Nobody."
Marcus takes one last drag from his cigarette and puts it out in an ashtray. He looks back over to the doll as he exhales.
"Not like you give a shit."
Marcus turns his head and looks out the window as he lights another cigarette.
The biting cold brushed against Mareth's cheek as he took another pull from his cigar. He looked up and saw a small single-engine plane in the distance.
"Looks like our ride is here." Mareth said looking over to Tsarg, pointing to the plane as it was beginning to touch down. Mareth grabbed his rifle from the tree stump it was leaning against and began to walk in the aircraft's direction. He opened the door to the plane where two gruff looking men sat in the pilot and co-pilot's seats.
"Mareth, you ugly bastard! How the hell are ya?" The pilot greeted the two. "We need to make this quick. I have to be home for dinner or else the wife is gonna skin my ass!"
"Hey, fuck you!" Mareth replied. "I'm prettier than your ugly ass! Besides, we needed to hit that LZ thirty mikes ago."
"Well, strap in! This plane doesn't run on your yappin' and we're burning fuel."
Mareth and Tsarg loaded in and closed the door on their way in. They sat down and strapped in, and Mareth put a headset on. "ETA is in thirty." The pilot chirped in. "We have to take a roundabout flight pattern to hit the LZ. There's been a heavy presence in the area. I don't know if it's for support, or for containment... but we really want to avoid them all together."
"Roger that." Mareth responded. "Do you two have any intel on what's going on? We're going in on VERY little information other than someone released a nasty bug and it's killing a lot of people."
"From what I gather, it's exactly that. We've flown in a number of people from all of your Alphabet organizations... FBI, DHS, and the like... and some other people they called "Division Agents". Now I don't know what that means exactly, but I imagine they're a lot like you guys. If I were you, I'd find them, and make some fast friends. Most of everything going on down there is rioting and civilians just trying to survive and the government's doing it's best just to hold their head above water."
The co-pilot looked back at the two and asked, "So, you're gonna LZ in Central Park? That's pretty ballsy, considering everything going on down there."
Tsarg piped up, "I'm not too worried about it. We've been in heavier shit than this."
The co-pilot chuckled a bit. "You should worry, son. This ain't like fighting an army with uniforms and a command structure. These are people, stripped down to their most primal needs. They have families that are sick, hungry, and desperate. Don't think they won't turn on you for a piece of bread, son. I've seen this before. If you think you can go in there with a bleeding heart trying to be a fix-all, I promise it'll be gushing from someone's knife by sundown. I'm gonna say it again that you should worry. You really should."
Tsarg looked over to Mareth, then looked back to the co-pilot. "We've got this." Tsarg held up his fist and Mareth bumped it.
"I hope you do, son... I really hope you do." The co-pilot muttered to himself.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania.... Christmas day, T minus four hours to insert.
"Alright, you all... have a seat. There's a lot to cover, so let's get to it," Cavadus barked out as he entered a GP-Large Tent that had been set up in the middle of a field. Chairs were sitting among some wood stoves and tables. Cavadus made his way up to the front of the tent, passing the body-filled chairs and and tables.
"Got word from the Legate, and needless to say... he's got something for us to do. I apologize for calling you all in on Christmas, but there's work to be done."
Lightfoot sat there holding a lighter up to a cigar, but thought better than to light it just before the briefing. He sat his lighter down and put his cigar away.
"Intel is scarce, so I'll give you what I have. Appears the Goobermint has screwed the pooch on this little project, and so someone has to go in and clean it up. There was a NBC attack in the Metro area of New York City on Black Friday, of all days... imagine that. Most of the affected have either have bought the farm or went batshit insane. Either way, we're going in to secure some key points, normalize basic services, and essentially REBOOT civilization in the city that, up until recently, never slept.
Lightfoot raised his hand. "So, you're telling me that we're going in to normalize an already fucked up city, for some fucked up people, who probably won't fuckin' appreciate what we're doing anyway... am I right?"
"We're going in to make the fucked up city, less fucked up... if that's possible. We're going to reestablish communications, provide first-aid to those we find and set up a med station so people can be treated. If we're going to normalize an entire city, we're going to need more than nine people."
"Roger that, sir." Lightfoot
"We're going to have to set up comms and get a network going out of NYC." Cavadus continued. "Lightfoot, I want you to take a team and get a net set up. If you can, see if you can get some cell towers going. I'm sure that whoever is still here will want to call out."
"Check." Lightfoot responded. "I'll take Tsarg and we'll make it happen. If anyone else wants to tag along, I won't say no."
"I'm in" Jungels piped up. Lightfoot looked up and nodded his head. "Rog, sir. Anyone else? "
"Ehh, what the hell. I'm in." Payton spoke up."
Lightfoot nodded. "Gotcha, Sir. I'm gonna babysit two bosses and a minion. Out-fucking-standing, sir."
"Don't worry about all that, Lightfoot. Jungels and I can find something to get into. You and Tsarg get us a communications grid up and going, and we'll work on something equally important."
"Roger that." Lightfoot quipped, still half writing and typing on his cell phone to do some research on cell phone towers in the area.
"I'll be taking a team on the ground, getting some reconnaissance of the area finding a suitable base of operations." Cavadus continued. "We'll have to wait until dark before we start making our way into the city. Feds are crawling everywhere, and they have the entrance ways locked down. Striker, Bealin, Cable, and Destroy will be with me."
"I can make a few phone calls and get my team in a little sooner." Lightfoot interjected."I know some people in the area with planes. Tsarg and I can parachute in and start work. We should be able to get something small-scale going before you get in. We'll be able to communicate among each other, at least."
"Alright then." Cavadus responded. "We've got a few hours, so let's get our kits up and get ready to move."
People start to get up and leave the tent. Lightfoot and Tsarg head out, Lightfoot pulls out his cigar, and lights it up.
"Time to do work again, ol' buddy." Lightfoot said, holding a fist up.
"Booyah, bro." Tsarg responded, giving a fist bump.
A cell phone rings on a coffee table, amid a large holiday gathering. The vibration isn't loud enough to be heard over the numbers of of people taking. The voice mail picks up.
"Hey, this is Julie. I'm not available right now, so leave a message. Bye!"
A tone beeps
"Jules, it's Mareth."
Lightfoot sat outside the tent, still smoking his cigar. A light snow began to fall with the eastward wind blowing into the back of his ball-capped head. "Listen, I'm sorry for leaving you alone on Christmas morning. I got a page about 3:30, and I didn't have the heart to wake you up. Tell your parents I said hello at the party. I'll make it up to you when I get back."
He pulled a draw from him cigar, and let it go, then followed up with, "I love you.", then disconnected the line.
"You know, you're gonna have to tell her at some point, man." Tsarg piped up, drinking a cup of coffee to keep warm. "Either you tell her, or she's gonna find out when they're sending you home in a pine box."
Lightfoot shook his head. "Yeah, I know. I've just been waiting for the right time to tell her. She kind of knows something's up. Erratic work schedules, getting up in the middle of the night to jet-set to exotic locale and NOT taking her, coming home with weird injuries I can't readily explain without telling her... yeah. Something's gonna give, soon."
"Look, man. I told my girl... and she's fine with it. As long as I get paid, she doesn't care. She knows I'm going to come home regardless. She also knows she's taken care of if I don't come home of my own two feet."
Lightfoot snickered. "Nah. Fuck that, bro... I'm not letting you getting carted off in a pine box. Who else is gonna cover my six and put up with my bullshit?"
Tsarg smiled. "Not many will, bro. Not many are willing to jump out the side of a perfectly good airplane."
"Pussies." Lightfoot quipped.
"Still, man. You gotta tell her." Tsarg continued. "Sooner rather than later."
"Yeah. I'm going to after this Op." Lightfoot replied. "I'm just gonna lay it all out and hope she buys into the idea that I'm not exactly a telecommunications contractor."
Mareth's phone rings, Julie's face pops up on the phone.
"Yeah, I gotta take this." Lightfoot said, answering the phone. "Hello?"
"You mister, have a LOT of explaining to do." A female voice came over the phone. "I had fully planned to make breakfast, and coffee, and we were going to have an awesome morning before going to my parents, and I got you something REALLY nice."
"Would it happen to be you in something very scantily clad?" Lightfoot retorted, smirking.
"Maybe..." Julie replied. "But you'll never know until you come home. I did get your message. Couldn't you have told your client that you would get to it tomorrow? It is Christmas, after all."
"Yeah, I wish... but not with this client. He's one of my bigger money-makers and I had to jump through so many hoops to get this contract. If I didn't show up to fix it, someone else would have... and gotten my contract."
"I guess." Julie answered.
"It's because of this contract, we have that nice apartment and you are able to have that nice, full closet of designer clothes that you love so much." Lightfoot replied.
"I would rather have no clothes at all and have you here." Julie retorted.
"Yeah, I would rather that, too." Lightfoot agreed. "But, I promise that I'm gonna make it up to you when I get back. We actually have quite a bit of stuff to discuss. I just wanted to wait after the holiday to do it."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Us, our future, long term plans. That kind of stuff." Lightfoot said.
"Like, getting married?"
"Fuck. She said the "M" word..." Lightfoot thought.
Lightfoot balked a bit. "Well, there's some stuff we need to talk about before we get into all of that. There's some stuff you need to know, but I don't want to discuss it over the phone."
"Oh..." Julie said.
"Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere." Lightfoot reassured.
"Okay... good. So, where are you?" Julie asked.
"Jules, you know I can't tell you..." Lightfoot responded.
"Are you in some exotic location that I couldn't go to... again?"
"And this is why I can't tell you. You get all upset because you couldn't pack a minimum of five bags and tag along. Listen, darlin'... we've been through all of this before. I'm working the ENTIRE time. Sometimes it's VERY dangerous work. I get these contracts because I'm willing to go places that most others won't... Not to mention, you would be very bored."
"Fine." Julie huffed. "So, I was watching the news this morning. Evidently, there's some form of pandemic in New York. Lots of people have died. You're not in New York, are you?"
"Shit. I can't lie to her. Well, I'm technically not IN New York, yet... That's not a lie, right?"
"No, babe. I'm not in New York."
"Okay, then. Just be careful, okay?" Julie responded.
"You bet, Jules." Lightfoot responded. "I should be home in a few days. A week, tops."
"You better be." Julie snipped. "I can't wait on you forever, you know."
"I know. I love you, Jules."
"And I love you." Jules answered. "Bye."
"Bye." Lightfoot said, ending the call.
"Fuck, what have I gotten myself into?"
To be Continued...