This article, K21 - Judgement In Duty, is still being written by its owner Dog of War. They apologise for the inconvenience.
|Cast (In Order of Appearance)|
CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, SCENES OF TORTURE AND SEXUAL REFERENCES
May 3rd 2111, Madrid
André López cursed under his breath as the sun scorched the back of his thin neck. He was crouching against a wall covered in grime, clasping a heavy rifle in his clammy hands. André turned to see his three comrades, one male, two female, crouching beside him, awaiting their orders. Their youthful faces stared into his in dull apprehension. He let out a heavy sigh, before whispering “Okay, time to move out.”
He looked distastefully at his charges. These weren't soldiers, they were barely out of school. With their round faces, so innocent and naive in their narrow view of life, they should be in some sort of summercamp, not fighting the front lines. In his forty years of service to the state he had known many that had given up their lives, but to send out those so young… so supple...
We must be desperate, if that’s our new policy. André shook his head, as he heaved himself into a standing position, hefting his rifle over his shoulder. His comrades did the same, grumbling as they did so. "Quiet!" André said, keeping his voice as soft as possible, before advancing forward.
They stood in a narrow alleyway, perfect for cover, surrounded by old concrete buildings, with peeling paint under a layer of dirt and soot. The buildings had been abandoned, with most civilians having been evacuated or fleeing months before. Or killed, of course. Those that remained were probably laying low at this time. Easy to be caught in the open in the sunlight.
André heard a faint scuffilng noise behind him followed by an indigent curse. Whirling around, he saw the youngest of his comrades, a boy named Juan, trip rather embarrassingly over himself, much to the amusement of his peers.
"Quiet you shits!" André said, barely able to keep his voice below a whisper. "We’re in enemy territory now, do you want to get a bullet up your arses?"
The three soldiers shook their heads, their smiles gone. André turned, before motioning forward. "Juan, scout ahead, to check if the area is clear or not."
Juan grimaced, before trudging ahead of the rest, his face sullen. He remembered as a child in where he would dream of the days where he would be able to join the Patriotic Young Communist Worker’s League, and eventually defend his homeland from the oppressive states in the Peoples Army of South America. War looked like the ultimate pursuit of glory and honour, where serving your nation ensuring that their enemies-your enemies-would fall quickly resulting in victory and laurels.
Of course it wasn't like that. Juan had spent the past few months living in fear of being shot. The enthusiasm he once possessed had been steadily eroded, in the face of a relentless enemy while the mandatory communal bathing with an overly familiar commanding officer had done nothing to restore unit morale. He screwed his face up in disgust as he peered round the street, looking for any signs of life.
Nothing. It was deserted.
Juan turned around, his voice a hoarse whisper. "Clear, si-"
Before he could finish the last sentence a gunshot broke the air. Juan lurched almost comically sideways, the left side of his face exploding, dousing the wall in blood.
"Retreat!" André did not bother with hushed voices now, as he and his charges spirited back the way they came, desperately trying to outrun their pursuing foes. As they turned a corner they skidded to a halt. Five men blocked their path, dressed in grey uniforms, their faces obscured by pointed hoods. They carried heavy assault rifles, which were pointed at the three Colombians.
André cursed. They had he and his companions trapped. He thought of tales of loyal comrades making a heroic last stand, sacrificing their lives for the principles of democracy and freedom. "Morons." André muttered, before he threw down his rifle and raised his shaking hands. His comrades did the same.
"We surrender." André’s English was hopelessly broken, and was further hampered by his thick accent, but he hoped his captors would get the hint. "We surrender!" he said more loudly.
The foremost hooded man stepped forward. He was small, with pale skin being visible under the eye holes. His brown eyes, one higher than the other, darted from face to face. He lowered his rifle, before looking up to face André.
"Do you surrender to the Church of Enlightenment?" he said slowly, with a prominent American accent.
André looked at him blankly, before nodding. "Yes."
"And in doing so give yourself up to the Lord’s mercy?"
André paused. "Yes." he nodded.
The hooded man relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief. He then raised his rifle and fired.
September 21st 2110, Columbia
"And who are we, to stand in the way of our almighty lord? For it is as book of Chronicles tell us, “O Lord, the greatness and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty..."
Gerard Taylor barely stifled a yawn, as he leaned back into his chair. He always found these sermons exceptionally dull. He liked to think it was because of the repetitive messages emphasising God’s power, but reluctantly acknowledged that it was the fact that he helped write the sermons.
He was sitting in a balcony above a large auditorium, which currently housed over 10,000 people. The seating was arranged in the shape of a crescent, and faced a central stage which currently held a single podium adorned with a stylised Christian cross. Stage lights from above illuminated the man, but were positioned so the audience was shrouded in darkness. Film cameras whirred in the background as they filmed the sermon, broadcasting it live across several states. The seating was occupied by hundreds of people, but they sat in silence, facing the podium on the stage.
Standing behind the podium was the man giving the sermon. At a glance he seemed rather unimpressive. He was bordering on overweight, with thick round glasses not quite obscuring mismatched grey eyes. His receding hairline ended in wavy grey curls streaked brown, and had been aggressively combed backwards. His eyebrows were abnormally thick, and a small beard rested on the lower half of his face. Large hands gestured almost comically as he spoke in a booming voice aided by a microphone.
Yet, despite his boredom, Gerard still was enraptured by this man. He was passionate-every word he said, while being the same generic drivel Gerard had heard a hundred times, was spoken with great conviction, as if they came from the heart. They hardly seemed rehearsed, with the man seeming natural and sincere in his delivery. The mans voice was steadily rising until it was practically a roar.
"And as servants of God, we will see that the unworthy shall be brought justice, and the pure are justly rewarded!"
Polite applause filled the room as the man finished his speech, his face plastered with a sardonic grin. Gerard half heartedly brought his hands together, clapping an almost moronic beat.
Gerard scowled at his assigned nickname, as he turned to face a short, pale skinned man standing behind him. The man was grinning dumbly, with his tinted rectangular glasses almost slipping off his nose.
"What is it Chris?"
Christopher Powell Jr had first met Gerard Taylor over a decade ago in New York. Chris had been a student, the first time away from his parents, and was young and impressionable. Gerard had been posing as a religious activist at this point, secretly recruiting people who could be tricked into working against, as he called them, the oppressive capitalist piglets who ran North America. He had hoped someone as hopelessly inept as Chris would be easily manipulated, seeing as he was at that point the epitome of the hypocritical moral crusader. Rather amusingly, to Gerard at least, he had had Chris perform acts that the latter thought were imperative to upholding the tenets of democracy he thought his country stood for, when most of the time they directly undermined the democratic process.
Unfortunately ever since Gerard had been told by his faceless employers to become involved in the Church of Enlightenment, Chris had proved nigh useless to him, becoming enraptured by the newly appointed minister Frank Eisner. Gerard smirked as he remembered their first meeting, where Chris had ended up with a bloody nose courtesy of Eisner.
Chris drew himself up, puffing out his chest in a pompous manner. He always smug when he knows something I don’t, reflected Gerard. "The senior members are meeting now, in the boardroom. Best get yourself up there."
Gerard cursed. "Another bright idea from Eisner?"
Chris nodded slowly. Gerard rolled his eyes, before rising to his feet. “I’ll get up there then.” Gerard opened his mouth to swear, but then realised that that would only earn him a berating from Chris. Gerard turned, barging his way through the crowd that had started to accumulate, reaching a door marked “Private”. Gerard pushed his way through.
He now stood at the end of a small flight of stairs. Pristine white walls shone as brightly as the lights built into the ceiling. It was the direct opposite of the auditorium-the new lights almost stung Gerard's eyes. It was small and cramped, yes, but to Gerard the absence of people made it feel so much bigger. Gerard decided to savour this tranquillity, breaking into a jaunty gait as he made his way up the stairs. Undoubtedly Eisner would be discussing his new “idea”, which would also undoubtedly rustle the feathers of Gary Walton. Gerard had now reached the the top of the stairs, facing another door, only this one was painted white. With extreme caution, Gerard grasped the cold handle and opened the door.
He was greeted with a windowless room, with a long polished table and black leather chairs. The only adornment to the room was a large wooden cross that faced him now from the opposite wall.
Five of the chairs were currently occupied. Two of the occupants were a pair of men well into their fifties, old and senile. Gerard briefly recalled their names being Joseph Baxter and Alexander Roy. Next to them was Sandra Bradley, the only women in the room, a no-nonsense type with a penetrating stare. Opposite him was a man named Bruce Masterson, who was around ten years younger, looking almost neurotic, scanning the room with a jittery fervour. Finally at the head of the table there was the impossibly old Gary Walton. Gerard took his seat, next to Bruce, the anxious man. He nodded in greeting, which the nervous man ignored.
"Where is Eisner? He was the one who dragged us up here." grumbled Walton.
Almost on cue, a man entered the room. He was dressed in a bone white tuxedo, complemented by a clerical collar. He walked slowly to the table, sitting down in front of the cross, opposite Walton.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, I had a sermon to finish." Frank L R Eisner stroked his beard, readjusting the glasses on the bridge of his nose. The same grandiose presence he carried in the auditorium was increased by tenfold in this small boxy room. "I assume you want to get straight down to business then?"
There was a murmuring of agreement around the table, causing Frank to shape his face into a grin.
"Right then, you've all obviously heard of my plans to form-"
"Eisner." the sharp voice of Gary Walton cut Frank to stop mid sentence. "It seems to me that you are throwing our money - my money - out of the window for some little pet project you have been fostering."
Frank stiffened. "Gary, I propose that we set up this force to bring God’s word to other countries."
"By making them your own private army? Your little band of enforcers?"
Frank banged his fist on the table. "I'm talking about supporting the teachings we stand for! If you haven’t noticed the Central Americans have moved troops into Colombia already. They’re intent on fighting a long war with the Godless communists, meaning we can move in, in time, to aid those who have been denied God’s word."
Walton narrowed his eyes. "Is that all your doing this for?"
Frank ignored him. "We would only recruit volunteers, and undoubtedly we can gain funds. It would improve our public standing as well, aiding the less fortunate. I believe Bruce has some rather high profile connections?"
The nervous man turned his head swiftly at the mention of his name. "O-of c-cu-course."
Franks stared down at Walton, his lips curling into a wolfish grin. "All in favour?"
The two older men nodded, as did Bruce. Sandra paused, before she did as well. Gerard also paused, but as he nodded he stole a glance at Walton. His face was screwed up into an expression of anger, with the veins in his temples throbbing.
"So be it." he growled, slumping back in his chair, admitting defeat.
Frank bowed his head, barely able to hide his triumphant smile
January 16th 2111, Columbia
Gerard Taylor looked morosely at the brown sludge that constituted as coffee. He was sitting in a cramped kitchen, within a similarly cramped flat. Gerard preferred to be confined to smaller spaces - it made him feel secure. He looked up the whitewashed walls, the tacky furniture, the tinny radio playing the usual droll music, and then back at his coffee. How he had reduced himself to living in such a state he would never know.
Gerard took a sip of coffee before picking up a remote control and flicking a small television on. He usually kept it in the background - not for its constant tripe daytime television or repeated garbage about celebrities, but more for the propaganda masquerading as news.
Gerard grimaced as he noticed the logo of FOX news appear in the corner, with a greasy looking newscaster appearing on the screen. The venerable company had over the years become more biased then ever, but it at least reported regularly on political affairs. Gerard eyes widened as he read the text flickering across the screen.
President declares war with South America - calls for troops to mobilise
Gerard started to adjust the volume as the newscaster babbled.
...weeks of deliberation, president Sebastian Hobbes has publicly announced in a press conference last night at the White House that American forces will indeed be deployed in South America in order to end hostilities between the Union of Central American Republics, the People’s South American Republic, and the Federal Democratic Republic of South America. In a speech last night broadcasted across the country, President Hobbes has declared that America has been forced to deploy troops into South America after air strikes into the territories fighting failed to break the line in the sand. The President has indicated that he wishes American troops to liberate South American countries of the totalitarianism communist regimes that control it’s citizens.
Recently in what has been dubbed as the “Great American War”, tensions between the Communist North and Democratic South have always been high ever since the latter’s foundation in 2059, but in recent months incursions between the sectors have become more frequent, with President of Central America Admint Toll recently declaring war against the Communists in a show of solidarity with the FDRSA. However, all forces currently fighting have said to be reaching a point of stalemate. President Hobbes has promised that the arrival of North American troops will end hostilities in the sectors by establishing new governments that will better uphold the principles of democracy and freedom.
Next we will be discussing the recent educational reforms and how they are indoctrinating American students with potential European ideas...
Gerard turned off the television, knowing it would only lead into a tangent he had heard a thousand times before. So they were actually sending in troops, he thought. The government had probably decided the potential resources in South America were worth fighting over. Typical.
He yawned, before taking another sip of coffee. Suddenly he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Sighing Gerard took it out, only to groan when he saw the name across the LCD screen. Gloomily, he put the phone to his ear, almost predicting what he was going to hear.
"What is it now?"
"Eisner requests you come over here now." A flat, female voice came from the speaker. "He says it’s important." Gerard assumed the dull monotone belonged to one of many secretaries recently employed by the church. There seemed to have been a large influx lately.
"Tell him I’ll be there in…." Gerard looked at the clock. 7:30 AM. "20 minutes. I’ll be there in 20 minutes. I have duties to attend to." Gerard yawned, as he took another sip of coffee.
"What about him?" Gerard sneered, before putting down the phone. He sighed, before picking up the paper and continued to sip his coffee.
Gerard sat in the bus, garbed in a thick coat, despite the weather being moderately warm. He tried his best to ignore the repugnant smells left behind by previous passengers as well as the layer of grime that covered the whole thing. He was just glad the bus was empty save for a few pensioners who were at death's door stop anyway.
A small ping came from the front of the bus. Gerard looked up to see the next stop flashing on a screen above the drivers compartment, before an automated voice announced
Arriving at Hampton Street
Gerard stood up, bowing his head as he navigated through the rows of seating. The other passengers grumbled as he almost tripped over their outstretched legs, leading him to curse loudly. The dirty looks they shot at him amused Gerard greatly as he waited for the bus to pull up at it’s stop.
Gerard gave a small wave as he walked out, causing the driver to shut the doors quickly behind him, while giving him a sour look. Gerard smirked, before he starting to observe his surroundings.
He was standing in the middle of a sprawling metropolis, with an abundance of grey skyscrapers adorned with LCD screens showing a string of advertisements. A sea of cars could be seen on the roads, with their putrid fumes replacing fresh air. People hurried down the streets, either on phones or rifling through well worn suitcases. Gerard however was focused purely on a large white building that stood a few blocks away from him.
Compared to the thin, tall skyscrapers that dominated the skyline, it stood out like a sore thumb. It was square, with a large dome in the middle and made of what looked like white marble. A series of pillars overlooked the entrance. The building resembled some sort of Greek temple, or, more likely, the Neo-Classical buildings that hearkened back to the founding days of the United States. Gerard sighed as he made his way towards the building, walking at a brisk pace. As he reached the entrance of the building he took in the familiar words above the large doorway that were accompanied by a cross with a star drawn across it. The name above the door read
The Columbian Church of Neo-Luminous Enlightenment
Gerard had always found the name amusingly pretentious. The original church back in Salem had simply been called “The Church of Enlightenment”, leading just about everyone to refer to the whole organisation as such. Gerard had assumed the name change had been for reasons surrounding the increasing commercialisation of the church. He tutted as he pushed open the mahogany doors.
He had entered the frontal lobby, which, compared to almost archaic appearance of the exterior, was much more conventional and modern, with the only adornments being the familiar white wooden crosses. A young, bored secretary sat behind a mahogany desk painted a pale grey, head buried in a laptop. She looked up as Gerard entered the room, giving him an expression of apathy.
"They've already started." She spoke in the same monotone Gerard had heard over the phone .
Gerard struggled to contain the grin spreading across his face. "Why would they do that? I'm only late by-" Gerard checked his pristine watch, "half an hour?"
"Mr Eisner wants you up there now."
"Fine." Gerard said. "I thought we could talk more Ms-" he peered more closely at the woman's name tag. "-Bell. You see, I thought as we have the time Yasmin, we can get to know each other and all."
She gave him a look of disgust. "Just get up there Taylor."
Gerard barely bothered to hide his smirk as he walked past the desk to a door marked Private, similar to the one in the auditorium. He opened it only to meet the familiar sight of the pristine stairwell. As he climbed the stairs he started to hear the faint sound of raised voices. His slow walk turned into a light run as he jogged up the stairs, before reaching the familiar white door. Throwing caution to the winds Gerard barged open the door.
Half a dozen pairs of eyes were instantly pointed in his direction as Gerard took in the scene in front of him. The usual officials-Joseph, Alexander, Bruce, Sandra, Gary and Frank were all there. Frank was standing, his finger pointing aimlessly at Gary, who sat red faced at the head of the table, in a scene of what Gerard assumed had been a heated debate. The rest were all seated and undoubtedly had been observing the argument rather than participate in it.
"Well." Gerard said, trying to lighten the dour mood that eclipsed the room. "What have I missed?"
Gary opened his mouth to speak, but Frank had beaten him to it. "We were discussing the recent situation in South America and what we should be doing about it."
"There’s nothing to be done about it!" Gary shouted, the veins in his temple practically popping. "What do we gain from moving your enforcers into the region? Your bully boys have already caused enough trouble with the press, we don’t want to be branded as-"
"Moving men into South America will provide us with financial benefits Gary." Frank proclaimed proudly.
"How?" Gary howled.
A smile was etched onto Franks face as he turned to a terrified Bruce. "Because several companies have offered us financial support if we hand over land to them for their resources."
"And these companies are?" Gary sneered.
Frank gave a curt nod at Bruce, who began rifling through a wad of papers.
"W-well b-both FoodsCorp USA and t-the Southern Logging company have p-promised support, and a f-few others have expressed interest su-such as-"
"Fine, I get it. But seriously Frank, whatever money we get will not be worth us sending men to murder some hapless South Americans. I mean, what you’re talking about isn't even legal!"
"You don’t get it do you?" Frank said softly. "All of you! We need to send men in there to spread the word of God!"
Gerard let out the smallest of groans. Now Gary had provoked Frank into breaking out into one of his enlightening rambles.
"The godless commies have denied the people God’s word. If we don’t take down these infidels then are we not the same in the Lords eyes, turning the other way? If the tale of the Good Samaritan has told us anything, we must help those in need. If our president is calling for thousands of true blooded Americans to take up arms, shouldn't we do so as well, not only for the sake of democracy and freedom, but to carry out the word of our Lord."
Gary gave Frank a sour look, but the other round the table had been completely enraptured by the speech. Frank drew himself up, his face sombre.
"Gary, we've already promised our backers that we will be reserving land for them down there. I recommend we send our forces down into Colombia immediately, travelling through Central America. We should be able to get there in a few months, and by then the war will be practically over."
"And you’ll stay here? Seeing as how you have appointed Gerard as the deputy concerning your militia." Gary asked, his voice full of venom.
“No.” Frank said. “I need to be there. For morale purposes. They will need a strong leader down there. Besides, I have combat experience.” He shot a sly smile in Gary’s direction.
Gary stood, his face strained. “Then I’ll be sure to accompany you down there. To keep an eye on things. I'm confidant that Alex and Joe can manage things back here while we’re gone.” He gestured to the two old men who sat impassive and silent down the table.
Gerard gave a slight cough. “I assume I’ll be down there as well.”
Frank gave him a grave look. “I guess. I suppose I need people-” he gave Gary another sardonic smile “-that I can trust completely.” Gary bristled, but he remained silent.
Gerard’s bowed his head in agreement. “Thank you, Frank. Shall we begin preparations?”
May 3rd 2111, Madrid
Christopher Powell Jr looked down at the three bodies in front of him. Underneath his mask his mouth was curled into a sneer. A foolish old man, to think surrender was applicable to people like him. Shame about his young companions. Chris turned to look at his charges. They were dressed in light grey military fatigues, with pointed hoods that obscured their faces. Insignia showing the symbol of the Church of Enlightenment was sewn on the right shoulder, while a miniature flag of the American Confederation was sewn onto the left. All the men carried pristine assault rifles, with combat knives and grenades clipped onto their belts. Chris was visually identical, save for wearing white rather than grey. He turned to the foremost man behind him, who quickly stepped up next to Chris.
"You sure there were no more of them?" Chris said, gesturing at the ruined houses beside them.
"Just those four, Mr Powell."
"Excellent." Chris said, his voice full of cruel relish. “I recommend we get back to base, Eisner will want our report.”
The men nodded, before the group started to walk cautiously through the derelict streets. Chris remembered the pictures of Madrid they had been shown back in Columbia. They were aerial photographs, sure, but the place had seemed to be a small, reasonably developed city. He wasn't prepared when he first arrived to see it almost in ruin, with the majority of the civilians evacuated leaving what had been left behind to the mercy of American airstrikes, save for a few administrative centres and military institutions that littered the area. As a result, the Church had quickly overrun the northern part of the city, setting up base there, before being halted by enemy forces. Ever since they had been fighting a bloody campaign, each trying to outthink the other.
That had been when Frank Eisner had turned to the natives for help. So far a healthy portion of the remaining Colombians in the city had defected to the Church. Frank of course was quick to say that it was because the natives wanted to worship the Lord. Chris didn't trust them though. They were the enemy, the reason why they were fighting here - they weren't to be trusted at all.
They had by now reached the building where the Church had set up base. It had once been the local centre for law enforcement within the town, and had proven perfect for the church's needs after they had cleared out its previous inhabitants. Its fortified concrete walls provided ample protection, the few remaining supplies had proven useful, and of course its prison facilities granted the church to ample room to detain and interrogate prisoners. Quite what they were interrogated over was a mystery to Chris, but it wasn't his place to ask.
As Chris approached the building ten men appeared blocking his path, assault rifles in hand. Chris knew that hiding in the buildings around him more guards had guns trained on him.
"Name!" the man at the front of the column shouted.
"Christopher Powell Jr." Chris said, emphasising his New York accent.
"Drop your weapons!"
As Chris and his men laid their guns on the floor the man who had shouted walked slowly towards them, his own weapon aimed at Chris. As he reached Chris he jerked his hand out, catching hold of Chris’s mask and ripping it off, revealing Chris’s disgruntled face.
"Clear." he shouted, before throwing the mask into Chris’s hands. Chris motioned for his men to retrieve their weapons before starting to follow the men striding towards the base. After a pat down Chris was finally cleared to enter.
The room that Chris stood in had once been the lobby, although now it was a husk, with all previous evidence of its former occupants stripped down. A few supply crates brimming with ammo were piled up against a grimy wall. Chris looked up the dilapidated staircase to see a familiar figure jauntily stroll towards his direction.
"Taylor." Chris grinned as he saluted.
"At ease, Powell." Gerard sneered in response. "What’s your report?"
Chris drew himself up triumphantly. "We dealt with several patrols. Three were regular patrols, the other a PYCWL squad."
Gerard shook his head in disgust. "You know Eisners orders now-the PYCWL are allowed to offered a surrender, in which case they are treated as allies. Did you offer them surrender?"
Chris paused, before slowing nodding.
Gerard cursed. "And did they? Surrender I mean?"
Another pause. Another slow nod.
"For fucks sake Chris." Gerard muttered under his breath. Chris flinched as Gerard swore. "We are meant to liaison with the natives, not shoot them. Don’t you realise our forces are spread thin enough as it is?"
"But they were the prime examples of Godless Latinos, as Eis-"
"You just broke one of Eisner's orders." Gerard spat at Chris. "You're on guard duty until I see fit to reinstate your previous duties."
"I have an interrogation to attend to." Gerard said stiffly. He barged past the still spluttering Chris, heading now for another flight of stairs that led downwards. Gerard shook his head as he approached a heavy cell door. A guard stood outside, with a watering can and bucket beside him. Gerard nodded at the guard who picked up the bucket and watering can, before following him into the cell.
The cell was cramped and dirty. Chains that had once held up a bed lay limp and bare on the floor. A light blinked on and off, its harsh light flickering on the grey walls. The only furniture in the room was a metal stool and table, both of which were bolted to the ground. On the stool sat a thin man, dressed in a torn uniform, his face gaunt. Thin red lines crisscrossed around his body, with his hands a bloody mess as they slipped across the cuffs that bound his wrists behind his back. Black hair hung in clumps around his head, with his red rimmed brown eyes staring sightlessly in Gerard’s direction. Gerard dumped the toolbox onto the table, before turning to face the man on the stool.
The man whimpered at his name, and started to rock slightly. Gerard smiled as he opened the toolbox, peering at the contents before clasping his fingers around a delicate surgical knife. "Alejandro."
Alejandro stopped rocking, his face screwed in fear. Gerard grabbed his right hand. The finger nails had been torn off, where dried blood had seeped into the recesses. Gerard tutted.
"You're right handed yes?"
Alejandro started to babble in Spanish, shrinking in fear as Gerard started to raise the surgical knife. Gerard ignored him as he positioned the knife so it rested on the end of Alejandro's thumb.
"You know what I want."
Alejandro started to shake his head, his garbled Spanish growing more panic stricken.
"I want you to tell me the manoeuvres your commanders plan to enact." Gerard was now pressing the knife down onto Alejandro's finger, drawing a thin red line. Alejandro suddenly started to scream in broken English.
"I know nothing! I know nothing! Please!"
Gerard’s face became grim, as he started to saw through Alejandros thumb. Alejandro started to kick out at Gerard, struggling to escape his grasp. Gerard cursed, as he stood up. Alejandro's thumb was now hanging on only by a scrap of skin, that dangled horribly in front of Gerard.
The guard drew his baton, before hitting Alejandro in his temple. Alejandro moaned as he fell to the floor, still struggling from his bonds.
"Yes." Gerard said stiffly, "Hold him down."
Kermode nodded from under his hood, as he brought his knee down onto Alejandro's stomach. Gerard tore off his hood, before laying it over Alejandro's face. Alejandro had burst into a fresh bout of screams before Gerard picked up the watering can.
"How about a drink, Alejandro?" Gerard laughed as he poured the water over Alejandro's face. Alejandro tried to struggle, but Kermodes iron grip kept him down. Gerard paused, and lifted the can.
"Well? Are you going to cooperate now?"
Alejandro gasped, before gargling something incomprehensible to Gerard.
"You want another drink?" Gerard smirked as he emptied the rest of the watering can onto Alejandro's face.
"What the hell are you doing Gerard?"
Gerard turned at the sound of the southern drawl, to see a figure standing in the cell door. He was dressed in a white jacket, with gold adornments and the familiar hood pulled over his head. However it was grey eyes and bulky frame that indicated the identity of the figure to Gerard.
"Eisner, sir." Gerard saluted.
"At ease." Frank grunted, as he approached Alejandro. He ripped off the soaked hood, to reveal Alejandro's terrified face.
"You think you’re tough boy?" Frank barked, showering spit into Alejandro's face.
"N-no." Alejandro shook his head frantically, shielding his bloodshot eyes so they did not meet Franks.
"You think you're being brave by keeping silent?" Frank towered over the form of Alejandro, impassive and triumphant.
"No." Alejandro spoke louder now, terrified.
Frank looked down at Alejandro, broken, lying in a pool of his own blood.
"Gun." Franks said simply, holding his hand out.
"Sir!" Gerard said, as he moved towards Frank.
"Give me your gun Gerard." Frank snarled. "I can see you've had your fun. But this interrogation is over" He looked distastefully down at Alejandro. "Gun Gerard, now!"
Gerard reluctantly passed over his handgun into Franks outstretched hand. Frank wasted no time, as he calmly shot Alejandro through the head. Blood splattered across the floor, spraying onto Kermode, who leapt backwards with a small yelp.
Frank turned to Gerard. "With me Gerard. Now."
Gerard gave a disparaging look at Alejandro’s body, before motioning to step out of the cell.
Gerard turned to see Kermode still standing in the cell. Gerard wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"Clean this up." Gerard waved his hand vaguely over the cell, before almost running to follow Frank’s brisk strides.
"Eisner." Gerard panted as he reached Frank. "Wha-"
"You’ll see Gerard." Frank grunted. He had started up the flight of stairs leading to the top of the station. Gerard, mystified, pursued Franks hefty form. It was then Gerard noticed that Franks black gloves were smeared with blood.
"Eisner." Gerard said, grabbing his shoulder to stop him momentarily. "Why are your-"
"You've noticed?" Franks voice was cold. "Its the reason why I pulled you from your interrogation."
By then the pair had reached the top of the staircase, where Frank threw open a heavy metal door.
Venomous eyes shot in Frank’s direction. Gerard saw around 30 men assembled, who were a mixture of Frank’s top officers and the bureaucratic pen pushers of Gary Walton. Gerard narrowed his eyes. None of his own lieutenants had been summoned. He frowned.
"Come to regale us with your divine presence Eisner?" Gary fixed his piercing eyes on Frank, who ignored him as if he was a fly.
"We all here?" Frank glanced around at the assembly of people, his left eye darting from face to face. Gerard took in the room. It was large, with a table taking up most of the floor space, which had maps and paperwork strewn across it. Two guards stood at the door, assault rifles in hand. Gerard suddenly remembered that he was still holding his wet hood, before noticing that with the exception of Frank all had similarly removed their hoods.
A murmuring ran through the room in answer to Frank’s question.
"Good." he said, his booming voice muffled slightly by the mask that still obscured his face. "To business then." He stood straight, his eyes narrowed.
"As you know, we have reached a stalemate regarding our occupation of Madrid. Neither us nor the communists," Frank spat the word "Can currently press an advantage."
"He’s stating the bloody obvious." muttered a man beside Gerard, who he recognised as the brutish Alexander Brandon.
Frank had deliberately paused for effect, before continuing. "As such I suggest we dispense of trying to break this stalemate through conventional means. Instead we should shift our focus to seizing the Major Justino Mariño Cuesto Air Base."
Indignant cries filled the room at this announcement. A red faced man with watery eyes banged his fist on the table.
"Eisner, the airfield is their centre of operations here. You can't just waltz in there. It’d be suicide!"
Frank raised his bloodstained arms. "As you can see I have had my hands full interrogating one of the infidels. It was a messy job, but I managed to extract some rather interesting information." He snatched a folder from the table in front of him, before pulling out a grainy picture showing a Latino man dressed in a military uniform.
"I trust we all know of our good friend Colonel Magalhães?"
May 5th 2111, Madrid
The sun had just started to dip from the horizon, bathing the ruined husks that had once been large factories in orange light. The air was still, giving off a feeling of blissful tranquillity. A lone private stalked the crumbling streets, a sub machine gun grasped in her shaking hands. She was plump, with dark skin and pouty lips. Her walk was casual, with confident strides. Her glazed eyes lazily scanned the streets, half closed from insomnia.
Her squeal was stifled as a sweaty hand was clamped around her face, with her eyes, suddenly alive, darting from left to right, trying to locate her assailant.
"Stop it." The voice was a harsh whisper and in perfect Spanish. She guessed that the owner of the voice was Mexican, but the accent had been exaggerated. "Stop making noise or I'll slit your throat."
Her body started to go limp, as she was dragged into shadow. She realised her weapon lay across the road, now several metres away from her. Her body was pressed against the wall.
"What's your name?" Her captor was dressed in grey, with a balaclava pulled over his head. "M-María." she gasped. "María Rodríguez."
"How many men are here?"
A hand slapped her across the face, leaving a red welt. "I said." the masked man said through gritted teeth. "How many men are here?"
"Around t-twelve." Tears had started to well in María's eyes. The masked man moved closer, his eyes boring into María's. "Don't worry." His voice was quiet, but a silky, suave tone now shone through. "I'm a friend. I just needed to know if you were loyal."
He pushed her further to the wall, his hand clasping around her breast.
"I need you utter loyalty." He laughed.
Gerard wiped the blood from his knife on his trousers, a smirk plastered on his face. He stopped as he started to speak into his hand radio.
"Is anyone there? Over."
"Receiving you loud and clear, over." Gerard recognised the sneering voice of Edward Lester. One of Frank's henchmen.
"I managed to extract the information." Gerard said coldly. "There's twelve guards patrolling, around a dozen more inside. Magalhães is with them, in disguise of course."
"We have thirty men." Gerard heard Edward almost stutter excitedly. "We could run them."
"And be gunned down?" Gerard smirked. "Gas them. Tear gas. Should do the trick. I'll get down there now."
"We need to move in now Taylor." Gerard heard the radio go quiet.
"Fuck’s sake Lester."
Edward looked down the sight of his pistol. He could see the Colombian soldier standing stiff, peering down at his own gun. Edward smiled. He was a big man, bordering between muscular and fat. He could easily take out the weedy specimen. If he needed to. His watery blue eyes blinked slowly, before he fixed a silencer onto the pistol nestled in his hand. He fired two shots into the man’s chest, causing him to shriek in pain. Edward pounced upon him, his heavy body flattening him as he elbowed the man in the ribs, causing blood to spurt from his mouth. The man tried to pull himself to his feet, before Edward smacked his head into the pavement, causing his skull to split open. Blood spattered across the sidewalk as Edward repeatedly pummelled the man's face in, until it was a bloody mess. Gasping with delight, Edward drew his pistol so it pressed against the man’s head, before firing.
The sidewalk was painted red, with blood seeping into the cracked tar. Edward looked up, checking to see if he had been noticed. Nothing.
"Move in men." he snarled into his ear piece, before reaching down to his belt, pulling out a chrome canister, with a pin attached to the top. His bulky frame moved awkwardly as he stepped cautiously towards the thin metal door. Faint voices muttered in Spanish. Edward ripped off the hood on his head, before pulling on a heavy gas mask, fitting it tightly over his skull, grunting as he did so.
"We in position?" his voice was muffled as he spoke softly into his earpiece.
"Yes sir." came the reply.
"On my command then." Edward paused dramatically.
Edward moved his back against the door, his elbow resting on the handle.
He started to fumble with the cannister, his right hand still clasping his pistol.
Edwards thumb made its way into the ring that sat at the top of the cannister, connected to the pin. If he pulled now…
Edward barrelled his full weight into the door, barging through. His thumb hooked upwards as he threw the cannister into the room. It started to emit a grey gas, that filled what Edward now saw as a rather large room.
He looked around. More grey suited figures were stepping through the small fog that had been produced, wearing the same heavy gas masks. Edward could hear the sound of retching as shadowy figure lurched through the mist.
"Fire!" Edward shouted, but the sound of machine gun fire could already be heard. He started to leap through the mist, his finger emptying his pistol into the air, with cries of pain accompanying every shot. He ducked behind a metal wall, his eyes squinting as the mist cleared. He made out the twitching bodies of the dead, some covered in vomit, others blood. He could see now that around eight South Americans stood terrified in the middle of the room, they weapons lying at their feet, hands erect in the air. Edward glanced at their faces, before looking down at a crumpled photograph in his hand. None of them resembled the grainy picture of Magalhães.
Edward strode from his hiding place, his pistol clasped in his hand.
"On the ground. All of you!" he screamed, lodging a bullet into the chest of the foremost man. He spun his head quickly. Twenty four of his men surrounded the warehouse, their guns trained on the small huddle. Six had died, and Magalhães wasn't even with them.
"Shit." Edward whispered, before turning back.
"Franklin, stay with Bryce, Mitchell, Barnes and Clark, keep an eye over these bastards. The rest of you with me."
“Why, Lester, sir?” Franklin asked, perplexed.
"Do you see Magalhães?" Edward fumed, "We need to find that son-of-a-bitch or this was all for nothing!"
Gerard felt for his pistol. He hadn't wanted to be sneaking around like some common thief, but Gerard just couldn't rely on a lout such as Lester to handle the operation without screwing things up.
He peered into the room in front of him. Gerard had sent Lester and his men to storm the adjourning warehouse, where the bulk of Magalhães’ bodyguards were located. Magalhães had been careful - he had taken refuge in the foul smelling lavatory where no one would bother to look (or indeed, face the stench, Gerard grimaced). He carefully opened the door, his pistol leading the way. The room was large, with a stained mirror, cracked urinals and several toilet doors hanging precariously from their hinges. The floor was covered in a layer of filth so thick that Gerard almost gagged at the sight of it.
"I know you're in here Magalhães. Surrender, and I won’t shoot you."
Gerard heard the faint swoosh almost too late, before diving for cover as the bullet skimmed past his head. He shot twice at Magalhães, who screamed as blood spurted from his leg. Gerard pulled himself to his feet, lunging at Magalhães, burying his knife deep into flesh. Magalhães moaned as his gun skidded across the floor, his leg a bloody mess. Gerard spat at Magalhães.
"I gave you the option to surrender." Gerard snarled as he examined the filth that covered his uniform. He had forgotten to check if anyone was behind him - such a basic, stupid mistake. It was almost laughable. He grabbed Magalhães by the arm, and started to drag him across the floor. Magalhães quickly became covered in shit and blood as he struggled to escape Gerards iron grip.
The sky was now blanketed by a layer of darkness, with the dim light of the moon shining weakly on the rubble that littered the ground. The faint sound of footsteps could be heard as shadowy figures traversed through the night, guns clasped in their gloved hands. Narrow eyes squinted in all directions, each trying to peer closer into the darkness.
Edward raised the muzzle his gun, alert. "You, move to the right." he grumbled.
"Sir! I see someone!"
Edward whirled around.
"Where?" he screeched.
"There!" Edward saw a gunshot coming from his right. An orb of light quickly appeared in Edwards hands, as he saw the outline of two men, one dragging the other. Edward shrieked in delight as the orb transformed into a beam of light that hurtled towards the two men.
Gerard ducked as he felt his uniform singe under the heat of Edwards light. He cursed loudly, shoving Magalhães into the dirt.
"Stay there." he hissed, before shouting over the gunfire. "Its me, Taylor! I surrender!"
He gasped as he dodged another of Edwards beams.
"I SURRENDER!" Gerard tore off his hood, hoping Edward would recognise him.
Gerard heard a barked command, before seeing the beefy form of Edward striding towards him. He even walks like Eisner. Quite the protégé.
"Taylor! I thought..."
“I have Magalhães.” Gerard replied gruffly.
Edward frowned from beneath his hood. When he spoke his voice was noticeably quieter. “I thought-you said-”
Gerard grimaced in an attempt to hide a smirk. “Turns out my original source wasn't completely reliable."
Edward turned to the man beside him. "Nathenson, restrain Magalhães." He straightened himself to Gerard, with some of his usual pomp returning. "We have round about eight prisoners. Do you think-"
"Oh yes." Gerard cut him off. "Eisner will want them." He laughed. "He’ll want them all."
The soldier spat out a goblet of blood, doubling over. Her bleary eyes blinked out a mixture tears and blood as the knuckle duster hit her once again in her cheek, tearing open a thin red line.
"Good work Averling." Gerard leaned against the wall, observing the torture. Averling brought his fist around into his face again, causing the wound to split open completely, with blood spilling down his face. He stepped back, before unleashing a fresh bout of punches.
"Keep it up. Eisner wants them looking beat when he starts his demonstration." Gerard walked out of the threadbare room. Frank had chosen a derelict hotel as a temporary safehouse. Apparently the hotel had simply been used to house the occasional visiting government official, meaning it had been stripped down to the basics even before Frank came here. Its empty rooms provided ample space for torture. Gerard climbed the stairs before facing a heavy oaken door, labelled Manuel Suite. The suite was a relic of the Republic of South America, but had like the rest of the hotel been stripped of its previous splendour. With the exception of the ornate oak doors. Of all the things to keep, Gerard thought before he entered the room.
He was greeted by a large room. The walls that had once been the divides between different rooms had been crudely demolished, with patches of carpet hanging aimlessly from the floor. A metal bedframe stood bolted in the middle of the room, with straps applied to the sides. Next to the bed sat two prisoners, both women, bruised and bloodied. A table was parked in the corner, with crude electrodes and a power box sitting upon it.
Edward stood near the doorway, his padded uniform painted red. He was unbuckling his belt when Gerard strolled in.
"Gerard!" Edwards voice was haughty and warm. He slapped Gerard hard on the back as he came in, his strained smile lit up by his blue eyes. "Didn't know you were-"
"Eisner needs this room in-" Gerard checked his watch "-five minutes."
Edward rubbed his bloody hands together. "I'm still conducting an interrogation."
"I'm not Eisner's messenger boy. If you want to moan, do it to him."
"Five minutes." Gerard cocked his head, daring Edward to retaliate. To his great disappointment, Edward merely turned, wiping his hands on his trousers. Gerard half expected him to start picking his nose as he made his way back through the door.
Gerard strode through the hotel, his footsteps reverberating against the concrete walls underneath the peeling wallpaper. He was tired. Gerard had hoped Frank would do the torture on his own, but he had rather insisted on Gerard’s presence. He sighed as he walked into what had once been the hotel restaurant. Tables were overturned, with a clearing in the middle housing a huddle of prisoners. Around seven men stood over the prisoners, each carrying a barbed baton. One was now holding down an aged man as Frank tore him open with the baton, arms flailing as he did do. Blood rose in sharp arcs, decorating the walls in thin strokes. The others looked on, no doubt waiting until they were called for their rounds.
Frank had removed his hood. Gerard could see a beads of sweat flowing from the red patch clumsily covered by strands of dripping grey hair. His narrowed eyes were almost closed, his yellow teeth clenched, his wrinkles carved in concentration. He brought the baton around again, his movement exaggerated yet controlled. He stepped back, before continuing his attack.
The man was screaming, but Frank ignored him, keeping up a disturbing silence. The victim’s face had been tenderised into a pulp, his features obscured by blood. Frank stepped back, before launching a heavy kick into the man's chest. He collapsed almost instantly, slipping out of the man hands, crashing to the floor. Frank tutted, before he pointed at a muscular women.
"She’s next." he grunted. He walked towards Gerard, his face grim.
Gerard titled his head, standing stiff. "Yes, sir."
Frank turned suddenly. "Reed!"
Gerard noticed one of the soldiers supporting the man who Frank had just beaten. He jumped as Frank called his name. "Y-yes sir!"
Frank stepped over. His face was fatherly, but a cold disgust was evident in his eyes. "Your name is Ethan, yes?"
Gerard could see the man was young. He nodded fervently, his expression one of fear.
Frank spoke again, his voice soft. "These people are our enemies Ethan. If we let them they would kill our men, rape our women, slaughter our children. To any other people, I would give them my charity, but these dogs..." he shook his head mournfully, before holding out his pistol.
"I want you to shoot this man Ethan."
Ethan stepped back, uneasy. "Eisner, sir, I couldn't-"
Frank’s voice was still soft, still friendly. "Ethan, if you can’t do this, then you are one of them. And if you are...do you want to be damned Ethan?"
"No, sir, I-"
"Its us or them." Frank forced the gun into Ethan's hands. Tears had appeared in Ethan’s eyes. Frank placed his hand on his shoulder as he raised the gun.
Ethan’s hand shook violently, as he tried to steady it.
The gun fired, its sound filling the small room. The man’s head exploded in a spectacular fashion, blood splattering over the torn carpet. Ethan was still shaking, swaying on his feet, his face stone.
"Good boy." Frank said quietly. "Good boy." He whispered to Gerard "Make sure he never interrogates anyone ever again. Understood?"
"Good. Now, its time." Frank walked briskly out of the door, Gerard following in his stead. Franks large paces brought him quickly into the suite, where Edward stood, accompanied by two soldiers. One was at a tripod with a cheap video camera affixed on top of it. Magalhães was also in the room, cuffed with a bag over his head. One of the women Edward had been torturing earlier was strapped to the bed, with an electrode shoved into her vagina.
“We all ready?” Frank said, his voice dripping with cruel relish. There were a mixture of mummers and nods as hoods were pulled over faces. Frank kept his off.
"Start filming in three...two...one."
Frank straightened himself, before his hand hovered over the power box, twisting his hand suddenly on a dial. The women strapped on the bed jolted suddenly as she was electrocuted. Frank moved his hand across the dial again, before motioning for the women to speak. She gasped the words between sobs.
"My name is Catalina Diaz. I stand under the eyes of God for the judgement of the sins I have committed. I beg of you to repent, or you shall to be judged."
She breathed heavily as Frank stepped forward. He was tall, imposing, almost godlike figure of authority. His ringing voice was a sharp contrast to the weak croak of Catalina.
"You all stand before the judgement of our Lord. You forsake his name, slaughter his people, and all in the name of freedom. You are all infidels, heathens! You tarnish the word democracy with your deceit! You insult Him with your “facts”, disregarding the words of he who died to cleanse you of your sins! You spit upon His sacrifice, only to spread your wicked lies!"
May 6th, 2111, Major Justino Mariño Cuesto Air Base
Victoria Ramírez quickly swallowed two caffeine pills, struggling to keep her eyes open. She was tired, so very tired, but had to keep awake. She was a tough woman, around thirty-eight, with black hair scraped into a bun, and heavy frown lines. The concrete walls seemed to surround her, confining her like a prison. She swept the thought away. The drugs are making me paranoid, she thought wearily.
A buzzer whined loudly.
"Come in." Victoria said irritably.
A soldier stepped in, his expression harsh, his uniform crumpled. Victoria recognised him by the name of Manuel.
"Yes comrade Manuel? Any recent reports?"
"We are now certain that comrades Ramos, Santos, and Márquez have been apprehended by the insurgents, and we have recovered the body of comrade López." Manuels face was grave. "However, the comms channels are now back up and running."
Victoria stood up quickly. "You mean they've stopped jamming us?"
Manuel stood impassive, his face iron. "Well they managed to send us a message. So we’re not sure if it’s back up on our end-"
Victoria’s eyebrows knitted together almost instantly as she interrupted him. "I don’t give a damn about it being up on our end. What message did the gringos send us?"
A bead of sweat began to form at the furrow of the Manuels brow as he started to rub his shoulder.
"They asked for our unconditional surrender."
Victoria paused briefly, considering what to ask next. "What were their terms?"
Manuel stuttered slightly before managing to eke out a sentence, "That they’ll start torturing and executing prisoners if we don’t."
Victoria stood open mouthed.
"We've been given twenty four hours to reply. One for each prisoner they’re willing to execute for every hour we fail to respond."
Victoria started to speak, but words were becoming stuck in her throat. She couldn't facilitate a response no matter how hard she tried. This practice went completely against what she had been taught as a soldier. Prisoners of war were to be treated fairly and without risk of harm in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
"Show me the message."
Manuel bowed out of the room, with Victoria following him. The corridors despite their over bright, fluorescent ceiling lights still had a gloomy atmosphere. If anything the illumination highlighted the drab, grey walls, as well as the crippling silence.
The communications room was over double the size of Victoria’s office, and yet it still felt cramped. Bloodshot eyes looked at the small screens, overgrown hair peeking out of peaked caps, the constant spinning hard drives creating a steady drone. Manuel led her to a bulky women wedged between a desk and metal chair. Sweat patches could be seen through her green shirt.
"Second lieutenant." the women gave a half hearted salute.
"At ease." Victoria said, her voice trailing at the last words. "The message?"
"Of course." The women turned to the computer. Victoria sighed, her eyes almost starting to glaze.
It took Victoria a second to adjust to want exactly she was seeing. The image was fuzzy, but she could slowly make out two figures on the screen. The first was fat, with thinning grey hair, oversized glasses and blotchy skin, dressed in a gaudy white uniform. The second was a latino girl, strapped to a metal bed, wires snaking out of her-
She watched as the man started fiddling with something offscreen, before the girl on the bed started to convulse violently. Grainy screams could be heard over the tinny sound system.
Victoria kept firm, her face impassive. Suddenly, the picture stilled again, and the women strapped to the bed started to talk.
"My name is Catalina Diaz. I stand under the eyes of God for the judgement..."
"Stupid girl." Victoria muttered. She watched, her face slowly draining itself of emotion.
The man had stepped up, a steady stream of rhetoric spewing from him. Victoria caught the stray word - "infidels", "deceit", "lies".
The man reached over to the power box again, with the screams soon restarting. She saw the man had pulled out a pair of pliers, and had applied them to the woman's breast, twisting it slowly. Whilst he did this he continued to drone.
"This pain is but a tenth to the one you infidels inflict upon Him in your relenting -"
"Can we get to the point?" Victoria yawned. "If this entire message is just him showing off his preachings and torture fetish then I don’t have time for this."
Victoria raised an eyebrow.
"Ma'am." The woman turned back to her computer, disgruntled. The already grainy screen became a blur before it stopped. Victoria could see a mangled cadaver lay on the bed, with the man leaning over it with a scalpel.
"You have twenty four hours to surrender. For each hour you fail to reply, we shall pass judgement on one of our detainees. If you do not surrender then we shall bring God’s righteous fury upon you." A heavenly glow started to surround the man, one Victoria was sure would blind those who could see it in the flesh. "You will repent, or your filth will be cleansed from God’s Earth."
The screen started to dim, as a faint rendition of the Star Spangled Banner could be heard in the background.
Victoria breathed heavily. "Tell Major García to meet me in my office. Now." Manuel nodded, leaving the cramped room. Victoria followed him through the door, her brow furrowed.
So we either let these gringos execute their prisoners, she thought, or surrender. Victoria shook her head. Magalhães thought they were merely gringos playing dress up. They have to be. Even the Americans wouldn't be as arrogant to send men this untrained out into combat.
They had received no word from Magalhães however. Had he been captured? Victoria had slivers of doubt. Magalhães would probably be lying low.
And yet, assuming Magalhães wasn't captured, this could still be a serious blow to morale. The gringos had refrained from ordering a surrender before. What had led them to take this sudden rather drastic change of plan? Victoria bit her nails in frustration as she planted herself behind her desk.
Manuel did not bother with the buzzer as he led Sergeant Major García into the room. García as Sergeant Major was of a lower rank than Victoria, but the degree of respect that he held was far greater. Uncompromising, he was the most experienced man left on the base. And Victoria - as much as it disgusted her to admit it - needed his advice.
"I assume Manuel has briefed you?" she asked brusquely, waving him to sit down.
"Yes." he replied, stroking the overgrown goatee that curled from his thin chin. "You know you can’t bow into their demands?"
"Of course." Victoria said, "But they will-"
"How does a few dead on our side change the status quo? My advice would be-"
"Its not that they are killing our men." Victoria interrupted, "But that they asked for surrender. They obviously must have some sort of tactical advantage that would prompt them to ask-"
"Which is why I am suggesting we wait to see what happens." García said pointedly. "We can’t surrender, and, if its a bluff, they may try and lead us into a trap if we attack."
"What about Magalhães? What if they have captured him?" Victoria threw the words out.
"Its a slim possibility. But if so, then we must keep up the belief that he died in a heroic last charge. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up a martyr."
"I think we should at least check this out." Victoria said stubbornly. "We've been cooped up in here too long. Even if this is just a bluff, we will look weak if we do nothing."
García leaned over. "Tell them we refuse to surrender. Wait to see what they will do, and plan from there."
Victoria bristled. She would rather not have García dictate her actions - and yet she would be a fool to ignore them. "Send them the message." she barked. "Say we will not bow down to their commands."
"Fetch me Magalhães!"
Frank wiped his red forehead as he stepped towards the camera. Two assistants rushed in immediately to clear up the corpse still strapped to the bed. Gerard brought a handkerchief to his nose as the pungent aroma of disturbed excrement filled the air. He had never been fond of electrocution for this very reason. It left such an awful mess.
Frank had been predictably gleeful when hearing the news that the Colombians would not be surrendering, much to Gerard’s immense irritation. Whenever Frank tried to play chessmaster it would always endanger everyone’s position. In recent years, Gerard had found it particularly detrimental to his own while Frank seemed to rise to even greater prominence. After all, Frank rarely - if ever - did any of the dirty work himself and there was always some poor hapless sod lined up to take the fall. The fact Eisner had recently taken such a proactive role on the frontlines only served to disquiet Gerard further.
Gerard turned as Edward strutted into the room dragging Magalhães behind him. Like a dog running to his master, Gerard thought as Edward obediently strapped Magalhães to the bed.
"No, you damn fool! Keep him out of shot!"
Edward let slip an uncharacteristic apology before hastily freeing Magalhães from the bed and shuffling off camera. Frank tutted before nodding at the camera man.
"Start rolling in three..two..one."
Frank straightened himself as the camera beeped into action. His voice was low as he started to talk, with some of its usual pomp absent.
"I see you infidels are denied our hand for peace. I did not expect much from animals such as yourselves, but the fact that you have left you own filth - including your whores and litters of children - to die shows that you lack even the most basic of God’s gifts. However I am willing to offer you a final chance - gentlemen!"
Edward kicked Magalhães in Franks direction. Frank motioned for the camera to point towards Magalhães before crouching down, a scalpel clutched in his hand. He grabbed Magalhães head, pointing it towards camera, resting the scalpel below his left eye.
"I'm sure we all recognise Jose Magalhães?" Frank smiled as he started to use the knife to almost crowbar Magalhães eye out of its socket. "Your great commander? He is ours now." The eye made a sickening plop before running down Magalhães already bloodstained face. He started to work on the other eye, still talking, his voice reaching a steady crescendo.
"Surrender now, and we will let these prisoners free. If you refuse, we will execute them at dawn. Starting with Senor Magalhães here. You have until the sun rises." The second eye was now a mess of blood and jelly. Frank screwed his nose as he flicked the remains onto the floor, causing Magalhães to finally scream.
Victoria leaned forward, surveying her cramped war room. The remaining officers stationed at the airbase stood around the large maps. Sergeant Major García leaned back sagely on a spindly chair, a thick finger stroking his wispy goatee. Sergeant First Class Natália Vargas was smoothing back her greasy hair with gloved hands, seemingly oblivious to the matter. Finally Victoria's fellow Second Lieutenant Ricardo da Costa sipped from a foul smelling cup of tea. Victoria was unhappy with this council - she would’ve preferred the company of lieutenant Ramos, although the absence of the leering André López was a relief at least.
Manuel stood by Victoria, ever present as usual. "They all know of the first message?"
Victoria sighed. "And do any know of the second?" "Only those you wanted to know."
"Good. I'd rather we keep this under wraps. Morale will weaken if news of his capture spreads."
He’s loyal, at least. Victoria thought. I need loyal comrades. Magalhães had always enjoyed the notion of a cult of personality - and that was now biting Victoria in the arse. She rolled her eyes before shouting for attention.
“Would everyone but comrades García, Vargas and da Costa leave the room now.” Victoria ignored the muttered curses and groans as the soldiers sauntered out of the room. Victoria drew up a chair, indicating for the remaining officers to do so.
"Straight to the point, we all know that Magalhães has been captured by the gringos. Our technicians have been able to triangulate their approximate position, which we can assume is where they are keeping our comrades hostage. We also believe that their primary commanders are located within the nearby vicinity."
"All three of them? Walton, Taylor, Eisner?" Natália leaned forward, her eyes glinting.
"We know Eisner's there for sure, and we have reason to believe Taylor is as well. Walton is currently unaccounted for but has been deemed of no strategic value."
Ricardo knitted his eyebrows together. "So we attack now?"
Victoria nodded quickly. "The gringos expect us to be arguing and deliberating, as they would be doing if the shoe was on the other foot. We will rip their heart out right from under their noses. I want Vargas and García to lead the offensive. Good luck, and may the people’s strength be with you."
Chris leaned against his rifle, squinting under his large glasses. The air even at night was hot and sticky, with sweat clinging to his armpits. He was glad to be on guard duty at least at hotel - although if it wasn't for Gerard he would be interrogating Magalhães. Chris sighed, as he swigged down a bottle of warm water. Disgusting - but better than nothing.
He was standing on a balcony overlooking the street. The street lamps had been blackened out, meaning that the patrollers had been issued night vision goggles. Oddly enough, they were eerily similar to the state of the art military grade equipment used by the United American Strike Force, not off of the cheap black market as Chris would've expected.
"Lieutenant Powell." Powell saw a soldier on an adjacent balcony gesturing in his direction.
"What is it private?"
"I thought I heard something."
Chris sighed again, pulling his hood over his face. "Are you being scared at the sound of your own-"
An explosion wrecked the air, tearing down the balcony just next to Chris. A shard of shrapnel buried itself into Chris’s leg, causing him to cry out as he slid down next to the balcony railings.
"Help!" he croaked. "Someone please. Help me!"
Frank was midway through humming Vilvaldi’s Spring as he tore off another of Magalhães’s teeth when the young man ran in.
"The Bolsheviks are attacking. Captain Walton is fuming, saying our plea for surrender has failed because-"
"Of course it did." Frank admired his work. Magalhães had been reduced to a bloody, odious mess, but his steady breathing indicated he was still alive. Frank moved around, giving him another blast of electricity. "Allerman, move the camera over a bit."
"If I may ask, Mr Eisner, sir." Gerard saw it was Duane Smith, one of his own, who was speaking. "What is the point of continuing torture?" Gerard noticed with distaste his voice broke slightly at the end. Gerard grimaced. He may be too weak to keep.
"Because we need to show we keep by our word." Frank had now started to work at slowly pulling out Magalhães’s touge, tugging at the muscle. Magalhães let out a pathetic groan as Frank dramatically ripped it out in an arch of blood. Gerard stepped back as the red lump spattered onto the floor.
"Allerman, close up on his face." Frank cheerfully started to send more volts into Magalhães causing him to start making gargling noises as he spat out blood. "You see, even if the Bolshevik bastards had surrendered they had already turned their backs on God. It would still be my duty to cleanse them of their sins." Another gargling scream. "I knew that in all likelihood they would've tried and come out to face us. Maybe kill some of their own. They are famous for it"” His next words were drowned out as yet another wail came from Magalhães. "And besides." Frank shouted. "When else would I be able to show the Bolsheviks what they shall face in the depths of Hell?" Frank stepped behind Magalhães, placing his hands on the side of his head.
"Do you see the Lord’s light now?" He asked, a grandfatherly like warmth seeping into his voice.
Magalhães nodded, a bloodstained smile stretching across his ruined face.
"Good." Frank said. His hands, still wrapped around Magalhães’s head, suddenly filled themselves with a brilliant light. Gerard shielded his eyes as it almost blinded him. When he looked back he saw a smoking pile of ash laying where Magalhães’s head had been almost seconds before.
"Report!" Natália shouted into her radio as the column of trucks drove through another crumbling street. She could see the bright bursts of flame in the distance where grenades and missiles detonated in unison.
"We are experiencing returning fire at the hotel and hospital. Our forces are being spread thin. We are concentrated at the hotel." Natália heard the voice of García over static.
"Any sight of Magalhães or Eisner?"
García’s reply was covered up almost entirely by crippling static.
"Repeat García. Has Magalhães or Eisner been seen?"
"Not as yet."
Natália paused. The truck felt confining as the driver pressed against her body. If she was to torture someone then the hospital had the ideal facilities. But the hotel...it was a more defensible position.
"García, I want your forces to hold up the gringos in the hotel. I’ll lead my forces to storm the hospital. That’s where Eisner is." Natália declared promptly.
"Vargas." García said. "This is to rash. We don’t know where Eisner is. We need to think this through."
Natália shook her head. "We need to act quickly before they can gain the upper hand. Keep at the hotel for now, I’ll try and flank the gringos."
She strained her ear, but García’s reply was covered completely by static. She shook her head.
"Continue driving. Tell the others we are heading for the hospital." Natália sat back in her chair, and started to load her pistol.
Edward leapt onto the balcony, an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, an orb of light clutched in his hand. Blood was spread liberally over his uniform as he knelt down.
"L...Lester." Edward turned in the direction of the weak moan at his side. Chris sat propped up against the balcony. His white uniform was stained a dark red, with thick liquid trickling down the cracked stone. His mask had been torn to tatters - the right side of his face had been savagely burnt. Clumps of hair dangled aimlessly off his scorched scalp. A chunk of shrapnel had sliced his leg apart, with a river of blood slowly forming a pool around it. A hand reached out, its fingers scraped raw from clawing at the concrete.
"Powell." Edward sniffed. He had no time for the wretch - he was too deep into Gerard’s pocket. And Edward had no reason to trust a foreigner like Gerard.
"G-get me Eisner." Powell’s voice started to raise. "P-please."
"You’ll be dead in half a minute." Edward said. "You have any last prayers?"
Chris made a retching sound. "Get me Eisner, please." Chris said, his eyes welling with tears.
Edward calmly discharged his light onto the balcony. Chris screamed as his side disintegrated, sending him hurtling to the ground. Edward jumped back as he was almost taken down with it.
A bullet wedged itself into the wall beside Edward, whistling as it did so. Edward shouted a garbled curse, a beam of light erupting again from his hand. A smile stretched across his face as he heard a panicked scream from below. He then slung his assault rifle from his shoulder, spraying the ground with bullets as his finger repeatedly pressed the trigger. Spurts of blood, terrified expressions, shrieks of pain...Edward breathed in ecstasy.
A fountain of blood started to sprout from his sleeve, coating his uniform in another lick of red. He dived for cover, his face turning a beet red as he scrambled to reload his rifle.
Natália buckled as she fired a high calibre round into the gringo’s head. It exploded in spectacular fashion as the man stumbled to his feet, arms flailing as his headless body flopped to the ground.
The hospital’s once pristine walls had been blasted by scorch marks. The high quality equipment had either been looted or thoughtlessly smashed, shattered or shot to pieces. Corpses were strewn across the corridors - a mix of nurses, gringos, and soldiers. Natália effortlessly leapt over the bodies as her own men filed down the corridor, shooting at any gringo they saw.
Breaching through the hospital had been surprisingly easy. To easy. From what Natália had heard García’s men had encountered more resistance at the hotel. They want us to think its the hotel. So we throw all our forces there, she thought. Otherwise…
Natália rounded the corner, peering into a large ward. She was instantly greeted by the sight of several gringos garbed in their ridiculous hoods. pointing their guns at her.
"Fire!" she screamed as her comrades discharged their assault rifles, peppering the ward with gunfire. Natália grabbed a grenade from her belt, ripping the metal pin with her cracked teeth before flinging it into the centre of the room.
The hospital seemed to shake as the grenade exploded. Gringos burning alive screamed as they were gunned down by the Colombians. Natália's eyes lit up in horror as one stumbled towards her. Her face was melting under his hood, with dripping eyeballs rolling down his cheeks. A hand clawed in her direction, causing Natália to jump back in terror, her rifle discharging a bullet into the woman's skull.
Natália stepped back, her mind whirling. The gringo’s had never employed women before. Unless...unless...
She ducked behind cover, hearing the wails of agony. They were not the howls of the crude English the gringos spoke, but instead screams in her native Spanish.
They must be traitors. They must be. Working with the gringos, She thought. She knew some had.
"Keep firing!" Natália screeched. "They are traitors!" She racked her brains for another term. "Enemies of the revolution! Shoot them! Shoot them all!" She emptied her magazine, her eyes glinting as the sounds of gunfire and screams filled her ears.
Frank paced the basement of the hotel, his face grave. An entourage of advisers followed his every step, their faces clammy with excitement. The basement had been converted into a small stronghold - the door had been replaced with a slab of reinforced metal on hinges, and guards lined up outside, carrying assault rifles. Sandbags formed a narrow corridor that led into the centre of the room when more sandbags created barricades in which now Frank stood behind. Frank stopped as his radio starting to blare out jumbled words.
"Who is it?"
"This is Lieutenant Taylor sir. Lorenzetti and Harold are requesting entrance into the bunker."
Frank looked at the guards. "Ready your rifles boys. If you see a bolshevik give 'im some lead." Frank leered.
A guard started to punch in an access code, prompting the door to hiss open. Two men stepped through the door, marching towards Frank. One was a Colombian man in grey fatigues wearing a large crucifix around his neck. Hooded brown eyes peered through curling eyebrows. A pathetic moustache that sat across his upper lip, which was thin and cruel. A layer of black fuzz on the top of his head contrasted horribly with the shaved skin on the sides. The other was dressed in a bloodstained uniform, with small eyes darting from face to face. His skin was marked with acne scars, and his lips puffy. A small pistol was nestled in long, thick fingers. Frank looked up, a vein throbbing in his temple and his left eye bulging.
"Report Lorenzetti!" Frank barked at the Colombian, showering spit in all directions.
António José Lorenzetti, leader of the resistencia, gave an enthusiastic salute to Frank, his thin lips creasing slightly to form a small smile. "The communists have taken the bait. The hospital is in flames. Their fellow bolsheviks are being massacred in droves."
"Excellent." said Frank, his right eye drilling into António. "Do we know who attacked the hospital?"
"A women, named Vargas." said Lorenzetti. "No real political value, and morally is unconcerned with her actions. Not popular either."
"Good." Frank grunted. "I want her alive. Then I want the rest of the hospital gone." He pushed a large hand through his greasy hair before turning to the second man. "And outside Harold?"
"Lester is doing a top notch job sir. The bolsheviks are being pushed back quickly after their initial attack. They seemed to be banking on reinforcements, and have since started to retreat."
Frank clapped his hands together in glee. "I want you to kill any that you apprehend, strip them and then burn the bodies. That way it looks as if they have killed more of your men Lorenzetti." Frank swelled with pride. "With any luck, by the end of the night it will be the beginning of the end for these commies, and the people a step closer to salvation."
The pathetic body of the small Colombian smacked against the wall. Natália scrunched her face in disgust as blood splattered over her uniform.
"Keep firing!" She screeched, her voice remaining firm. "Don’t let the gringos gain the upper hand."
She was losing, she knew it. The gringos had led an effective west flank attack onto the hospital. That left out any possibility to cut straight back to the airbase. The front would leave them exposed. The back would mean they would walk into the line of fire at the hotel - and she hadn't heard anything from García. The east was still an option, although she would have to regroup first.
Natália was hunched behind a dentists chair. Judging by the ripped posters showing a selection of thick framed round glasses she guessed this had been where eye examinations had taken place. A young man stood next to the door, his drooping moustache dripping with sweat. The door had been ripped from its hinges revealing the large waiting area, where with overturned desks and benches formed crude barriers. Soldiers in green fatigues lay in pools of blood, their faces one of naivety. Those remaining clutched their rifles tightly.
"I said keep firing!" Natália bellowed, sending a high calibre round into a gringos head as it popped up behind a barrier. But she could see now - their movements were sluggish. A look of surrender was in their eyes.
The man next to the door had a face plastered with terror as he turned to Natália.
"Its too late." he croaked. "They think if they surrender, they live. If not, they die."
"Bollocks to that." Natália snarled, making her way to her feet. "I'm not bowing down to some American cunt dressed in a halloween costume, and neither will they."
The man smiled thinly, before he smashed his pistol onto Natália’s head. Natália hit the floor as her legs gave way, blood quickly running through her short spikes. The man smacked her again, a murderous fervour in his eyes.
A gunshot ricocheted from the room, almost deafening Natália. She saw through streams of blood one her men turned, his gun smoking, before a bullet quickly dug a tunnel through his fat neck….she could see the white hooded figure sprinting in her direction...the sound of American voices, loud and crude...before darkness.
The foul smell of rotting flesh was filling the woman's nostrils as she opened her eyes. Peering through dried blood she saw she was lying in a pile of ash, next to the decomposing corpse of Jose Magalhães.
Natália yelped as she tried to pull herself away, before realising she had been chained to a metal bed. She composed herself, embarrassment already setting in over her moment of weakness. Peering around she could see she was in the hotel suite featured on the video the gringos had sent to Ramirez. She could see carcasses strewn around the floor, some burnt, others filled with crusted blood. A video camera sat on a table, with wires leading oak doors. The windows had been blacked.
So they had kept her alive. Probably to execute her. She sighed. Tied up like this, she was unable to reach the cyanide pill in her boot. Or a sharp piece of glass.
A large figure sauntered into the room. He wasn't wearing a hood, but was clad in the tight fitting rather ridiculous white uniform that the militants so proudly wore. A hooked nose peered from a long face, with two watery blue eyes bearing into her face. Two hooded figures stood behind him.
"So this is the little revolutionary." The foremost man said, slapping her face lightly as if to wake her up.
"Nothing more I’d expect to hear from an ignorant gringo." Natália retorted in Spanish.
"Bitch can't even speak English." the man laughed. "Bag her, then take her outside."
Frank looked out from the balcony. It was one of the few that had not been destroyed that night. He ran his hand along the chipped surface. It was so unlike the communists to let such a magnificent structure remain standing. Normally they would knock it down and create a brutalist monstrosity in its place. “Brutal being the apt word” he smirked.
A crowd had gathered around a hastily constructed platform below Frank. Hooded figures clasping assault rifles guard prisoners with bags covering their faces. In front of the platform was a line of freshly dug graves, with wooden crosses planted in the middle of them. Frank could see the crowd mainly consisted of latinos. Some looked worn, as if they had been through death. Others had a wild expression in their eyes. Like animals, Frank thought, before raising his hand as if to silence the crowd.
"My children," he said, his voice breaking the tranquillity. "We are gathered here today to protest against the violence that occurred here just a few hours ago. The actions of godless communists"- he spat the word out - "has left the rest of us praying for them and their families. Just a night ago the communists sought to attack the remaining defenders of justice in South America. They torched the hospital! They butchered women and children! They brutalised the sick and the dying! Without shame nor mercy they sought out to deny our God given right to live free of oppression!” Frank screamed, pointing to the dead bodies. “These brave martyrs gave their lives in the defence of liberty!"
A cheer went up from the crowd. "Death to bolsheviks!" one man shouted.
"Shall we stand by whilst our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and our sisters are murdered by the communist for trying to reclaim the freedoms they so rightfully deserve?"
The crowd shouted louder.
"Or shall we fight those who seek to oppress us, fight to bring democracy and freedom, fight for our lord father!"
The crowd almost stamped their feet, with some surging forward to assault the prisoners, before being held back by Frank’s guards. Frank breathed in deeply, before continuing.
"I have here the leader of the godless communists." He clicked his fingers dramatically. Edward appeared behind him, theatrically ripping off the bag from Natália’s face. She squinted as the sun hit her eyes, before turning to Frank.
"You’re going to hell, gringo." she spat.
"Gag her." Frank growled softly, being careful to mask his lips.
As Edward forced a rubber gag into Natália’s face, Frank continued to speak, his voice becoming a shrill squawk.
"Shall we allow this heretic to continue to terrorise all godfearing men?"
A further cheer rose among the crowd.
"Shall we allow any of these infidels to still draw breath as they stain His name?"
Guards had to shoot their rifles in the air to calm the crowd who were fighting to reach the prisoners on the platform.
Frank drew his fat lips back into a smile, performing in a deliberate movement clenched his hand on Natália's chest. A white light erupted from Frank’s hand, burning through the flesh and bone of Natália as she struggled violently against Edward’s vice like hands. Muffled screams came from a face, fearful for the first time in its existence, as the light ate away at her beating heart. Frank removed his hand in a dramatic fashion, watching as the smouldering body of Natália slumped to the floor, dead. The crowd screamed frantically, with the chant “death to bolsheviks!” reaching a full crescendo.
"Shall we join together as brothers and sisters, to put an end to this oppression? To all those who love liberty, freedom, democracy and His Lord saviour, I say we fight this enemy on his own ground! It is better that we should die on our feet rather than live on our knees!"
"He’s done what?"
Victoria's red rimmed eyes bore into Manuel, whose face was a mask of sweat.
"Eisner has managed to whip up popular support from members of the resistencia and other collaborators. They will probably try and storm the base soon."
"Jesus Christ." Victoria mopped her hand on her own forehead. "And you are sure that Natália's dead and García's missing?"
"Positive." "Dammit.”" Victoria cursed. Natália she could do without, but she needed the consul of García. Especially now. Stupid Victoria, she thought. Sending out your best man into the lions den.
"What do we do now, second lieutenant?"
Victoria heaved a sigh as Manuel tapped his foot impatiently. She had never had the experience of García, the assertiveness of Natália, or the confidence of Magalhães - just the devotion to the socialist dream. So much good that would do for her now.
"We defend ourselves. If the gringos press a clear advantage, then retreat. I doubt high command would want to see us slaughtered."
"You place too much hope in high command." Manuel smiled grimly. "They don’t give a rats arse about us."
"I know Manuel. I know." She turned to him, her face grave. "Only a miracle could save us now."
Manuel shifted his feet. "Shall I inform our comrades of the situation?"
"No." Victoria said. Her voice had turned hard and cold. "No, I'll speak to them."
Gerard sat back in a high back leather chair, enjoying a spacious office he had been assigned. He guessed it had been the private quarters of a party official - a bronze bust of Karl Marx sat proudly in one corner, while a portrait of several steel workers holding a large red flag was erected behind the desk. Large knife marks had torn through the painting while half of Marx’s face was riddled with scorch marks and bullet holes. At least the chair is comfortable, Gerard mused as he swigged down a bottle of mineral water. He could stay cooped up in here for a while. Away from Frank at least.
A young soldier ran into the room, his face dripping with sweat. "General Eisner requests your-"
"Tell him I am preoccupied with paperwork." Gerard leaned forward, reaching for a thick wad of papers. "This whole operation would fall apart without bureaucracy." He gave an innocent smile at the irritated soldier.
"But General Eisner-"
"Has some godless commies to go out and kill. Now fetch me sergeant Clerk." Gerard waved his hand vaguely, motioning for the soldier to leave. The soldier, disgruntled, slouched out of the room. Gerard smiled as dumped the paper on the desk, before reaching into his breast pocket. After a couple of seconds searching around he took out a bullet casing. Gerard paused as he glanced furtively around the office. It was bugged most likely. Probably no cameras though. Satisfying himself that he was alone, he unscrewed the top of the bullet case, before carefully pulling out a small crumpled note. He read it several times, his face creasing in concern.
"You sent for me Taylor?"
Gerard looked up. A hard face with steel eyes stared into Gerard, a thin lip failing to disguise the rotten teeth.
"Clerk." Gerard nodded. "Make sure you stick to Eisner's orders." He smiled grimly as he handed Clerk the note. "It's all there. You’ll know what to do when they get the station commander...what was her name again?"
"Second lieutenant Victoria Ramírez, sir," Clerk said, his eyes remaining fixated on Gerard.
"Ah yes, miss Ramírez." Gerard grinned. "Just remember to follow your orders. Dismissed."
Clerk stomped out. A necessary brute for the task at hand, Gerard thought as he examined the bullet filled side of Marx’s face.
"Comrades of South America. We have been hit hard by the imperialists who have sought to re-shackle the workers in their chains. Yet, history tells us that we shall rise against such efforts. The people will rise their voices as one to unite against the fascists! Against the imperialists! Against the bourgeoisie! We, the people, shall be triumphant!"
Victoria’s voice rose as she addressed the small crowd of people, and yet she could see that her words meant nothing to them. Glazed eyes had started to roll over as she continued, her voice starting to gain a manic fervour.
"The gringo's are pressing forward. They will try and strike us here. We must show the folly of their actions! Defend to the last breath if need be. The revolution must be protected."
There was noticeable discomfort now. Victoria realised the revolutionary language she was so used to hearing was meaningless to them. They had no commitment to the cause. No loyalty to the party.
"Only the revolution can protect the future. Protect your children. Our children. The children of South America."
The congress looked at her disparagingly for a second, before they realised the speech was over. Grumbles started to spread across the room as Victoria bowed out, her head lowered. She knew that her speech had been pointless. They knew too, that such empty fluff had meant one thing. They were screwed.
"What is it Manuel?" Victoria asked, her voice wrought with undisguised irritation.
"One of our ciphers has received a message he thinks you should see."
"It better be important." Victoria sighed as she followed Manuel into the communications room. A hunched man with an unsightly layer of peach fuzz on his upper lip was motioning for Victoria’s attention. His face was one of terror.
"I received this around five minutes ago. Morse code on an open channel. Here’s the transcript. Its-"
"Thank you comrade." Victoria said snatching the paper before glancing down to read it.
Distress call received. Reinforcements will arrive by 0600 hours. Do not abandon current position. Worker 112 will meet you at a designated location that will be sent to you at 0555 hours. Destroy this document.
"G-give me a lighter."
"Now." Victoria trembled as she stared at the document again. Manuel, mystified, reached into his own pocket, handing Victoria a cheap plastic lighter. Victoria flicked it on, before setting the paper ablaze. “We are expecting reinforcements.” She turned to Manuel, her eyes boring into his. "The IWU."
Manuel’s eyes widened. "What shall we do ma’am?"
"Wait" she whispered. "We wait."
Outskirts of Madrid
The airfield was by the midnight hours at its most intense. Every movement could be some American militant trying to snoop in. It wouldn't be the first time, thought Mariano as he marched dutifully across the deserted runway. The airbase itself was behind him, a great slab of reinforced concrete bristling with large search lights, satellite dishes and armed guards. An electric fence surrounded the whole airfield, topped with coils of barbed wire and sinister guard towers. Low slung barracks dotted the grasslands surrounding the runway. Decrepit planes sat waiting for the vital fuel that had been used up long ago. Anti-aircraft ballistic missiles sat in rounded turrets manned by conscripts.
Mariano sighed as he produced a fat cigar from his pocket, lighting it quickly with a match. Unfortunately André López had been found dead long ago, and with his death Mariano had been unable to get the sweet, Cuban cigars that he had always seemed to have in abundance. Instead he had to put up with the dry tasteless variety issued by the army. At least its better then their excuses of cigarettes, Mariano thought as he blew a cloud of smoke into the air. Suddenly, Mariano noticed that a slight breeze that had caused the hairs on the back of his head to stand up. Whirling around, he noticed the outline of five figures marching towards him. Each was dressed in black military fatigues, with goggles and oxygen masks covering their faces. Each also carried a backpack slung over their back, with pistols holstered at their belts. Squinting his eyes, Mariano could see faintly black parachutes fluttering in the wind.
"Bastards have managed to air drop in." Mariano snarled as he reached for his rifle.
"Don’t shoot. We will be able to dispatch of you in half the time you will with one of us." The foremost one shook off his- no her - helmet as she tore off an oxygen mask. Mariano saw now in the light that she was a muscular woman with eyes the colour of steel. She wore no make up, with her lip being little more than a sneer, and her blond hair having being tied into two short plaits. The ones behind her followed suit, showing an array of similarly harsh faces.
"Worker 112. I assume this is the Major Justino Mariño Cuesto Air Base?"
The desired effect worked perfectly. Mariano's cigar fell out of his mouth as he hastily went to salute the new arrivals. "Yes ma'am. I assume you are here to see the second lieutenant?"
Mariano straightened himself, his initial shock seemingly starting to dissipate. "I'll lead the way." he said, before breaking into a half run, half walk over to the concrete block.
The constant ticking of the dusty clock was starting to irritate Eliisabet Kaisa. The station commander was taking her time, she thought as she sipped on a cup of tea. If this was how long she took on making orders, then no wonder these Colombians were losing the war. At least the complimentary ginger biscuits were nice.
She was sitting comfortably in a dingy room. A large table was in the middle, with various maps strewn across it. Broken pencils, leaking pens and split coffee was layered over the maps. Red banners hung from the walls whilst a large holographic screen displaying a map of Madrid was propped up on the wall opposite her. Armed guards stood at the bolted doors. It amused Eliisabet to see them uncomfortable around the black suited members of the IWU, who were relaxed as she was.
Still, it hardly mystified Eliisabet that such people were terrified of her. These "soldiers" lacked the mental conditions that prepared one for war - they were young, foolish. Weak. If they could not even kill a few nutters in costume what would they think of the people who slit the throat of babies when told to? Then again, mused Eliisabet, there must be some with that ambition.
"Second Lieutenant Victoria Ramírez, ma'am" Eliisabet turned to see a Colombian soldier standing in the doorway. Her uniform was crumpled, her hair dishevelled, her face grave. Another one who has given up, thought Eliisabet. If this is the quality of their leadership...
"Worker 112, Worker Group Leader." Eliisabet smiled sickeningly as she held out a gloved hand. Victoria was trying hard not to shake as she reluctantly took it, avoiding the pale blue eyes of the tall European. "For the sake of me and my fellow comrades, can you please explain the situation."
Victoria frowned. She knew as did Eliisabet that the latter had been informed of every detail of the situation by her superiors. Was this a test? Victoria brushed aside that assertion. She had served the party all her life. Why would they betray her now? She had done nothing that could be considered reactionary. Besides, wouldn't it be easier to pin all the blame on Magalhães who could nothing to disprove any accusation thrown at him? Then again, they almost never picked the easy option.
"The gri- bourgeoise arrived a couple of months ago. At first we dismissed merely as an offshoot of the US army. It was only after we first came into serious contact with them did we notice something different. Aside from the uniform, they were relatively poorly trained. But, they were fanatics, and seemed to be directed by somewhat competent strategists. The station commander, Captain Manuel, miscalculated spectacularly, thinking that a bunch of Americans playing dress up and calling themselves the “Church of Enlightenment Militia” would be swiftly vanquished. He was proven wrong after he took a high calibre round to the head. After that the First Lieutenant, Jose Magalhães, had us retreat into the airbase, while engaging the Americans in hit and run attacks."
"And the recent debacle at the hospital?" Eliisabet cocked her head, grinning. Victoria narrowed her eyes, before continuing slowly, picking her words carefully.
"In one of his attacks, Magalhães was captured and tortured. We tried to launch an operation against the Americans, targeting a hotel and a hospital, both of which were under the control of the Americans. One of the officers I had sent down there thought Magalhães was in the hospital. She was wrong. Magalhães was killed along with her. The leader of the Americans, a priest named Frank Eisner, has assembled a force of reactionaries to march against us."
Eliisabet sat back, still grinning. When being briefed she had been informed of the naivety of Victoria, who had only been transferred here after the American airstrikes had begun. Her official report had been dripping with praise, with Victoria being praised as a "model worker" - hard working, determined and a true believer in the revolution. A dull affair. It had been her file "donated" by the Friedrich Engels Accountants, Bureaucrats and Economists that had proved more enlightening. Her charges reportedly referred to her as the "little girl of Bogotá". A demeaning nickname. At least "bitch" implied power. No wonder her troops had little faith in victory. When being led by men who arrogantly believed themselves to be invulnerable, or a women with so little presence or military experience she was surprised they hadn’t all defected.
"And you want us to assist you?" Eliisabet leaned forward, her smile gone.
Victoria's eyes narrowed. It had been the IWU who had contacted her. But, if she contradicted them...
"Yes." Victoria straightened as she said the word, giving Eliisabet a defiant glare. She received a smirk in return.
"Excellent". Eliisabet motioned to her aides, who stood to attention. "Show our new friend the equipment. I'm sure she will find it fascinating..."
The convoy of trucks and jeeps rolled through the formerly tranquil streets of Madrid, surrounded by gangs of Colombians dressed in green fatigues. A large tank painted the colour of sand led the procession, flanked by a pair of armoured cars. The deafening shout of “Death of the Bolsheviks” could be heard over the voices singing Oh gloria inmarcesible! as a hundred feet stamped in unison. A variety of flags could be seen waving through the air - the American star and stripes, the former Colombian tricolour, some displaying golden crosses, others ornate fasces.
Gerard watched the ludicrous display with a thin smile on his lips. He could see the large shape of Frank bellowing orders from the top of the tank hatch, dressed complete in his ridiculous uniform with its medals glinting in the sunlight. Beforehand Gerard would have dismissed this march as nothing more than propaganda. But the sheer ineptitude of the communists attack last night seemed to have given Frank the delusion that they could be easily defeated. A foolish thought.
And yet...every prediction Frank had made thus far had been correct. Could it be that he, Gerard, was the one who was living in the illusion? He brushed that assumption aside. Of course not. Frank would be nothing more than a drunken wretch if it hadn't been for Gerard. It had been he who had set up this whole damn operation. Frank had just had a few lucky breaks, and treated each as godly intervention.
Gerard sneered. Frank was walking into a trap. And once he had poked his head in... then Gerard would make his move.
"Lieutenant Taylor, sir"
"Do you want me to..."
"Only if he returns." Gerard smirked. "By then, everything will be in place."
Frank looked out from the tank hatch, the early morning breeze almost blowing his hood off. He smiled as he heard the chant of the resistencia reverberate through the streets -
"Death to the Bolsheviks! Libertard y Orden! Freedom and death!"
Loyal to fault. Following the Lord. Frank narrowed his eyes. Would the infidels be able to ward off their attack? Impossible. The ambush last night had been a joke - almost all the bolsheviks had been either killed or captured afterwards. If that was the best they could send, then they would be no match for Frank’s forces.
Then again, he doubted if the infidels would have been as readily defeated if they had no fallen into the trap Frank had so brilliantly set up. It might have been possible if had they not fell for it that he would be lying in a pool of blood by now. Could it be that despite holding all the cards Frank could still fall foul of the opponent's ace? Frank chewed his tongue. He mustn't take any chances.
"Lorenzetti, report." Frank spat into an earpiece.
"Airbase is a few thousand yards away. We will be in shooting distance soon."
"I want your men to lead the assault. Their weapons are short ranged after all." Frank cracked a yellow toothed grin. If his men died he would have to send hefty condolence to their families. But who cared if a few wetbacks were shot, Frank thought as he closed the tank hatch. The interior of the tank was cramped, with the air conditioning doing little to do away with the pungent smell of sweat from the small army of engineers, drivers and gunners.
"Move forward!" Frank hissed. "We are almost in firing distance!" His eyes lit up, almost delusional. He would see that this scum would be wiped from the planet. He would repay them.
The sound of machine gun fire suddenly filled the tank, as the sentries around the airbase opened fire. Frank smacked his eyes into a pair of binoculars, peering out onto the battlefield. The airbase loomed ahead, blocked from view by a complex of barbed wire and metal watchtowers. He smiled.
"Blast through the fence. The end of the "revolution" begins now" Frank gloated.
Manuel rushed through the poorly lit corridor, paperwork flapping about as he stuffed stray sheets into a brown folder. He could almost feel the vibrations from the marching footsteps of the approaching army from outside, along with the cry -
"Death to the Bolsheviks! Libertard y Orden! Freedom and death!"
Manuel shuddered. He prayed that the IWU would get him and Victoria out in time. Then they would - well, the gringos would regret storming the place at any rate. But if they failed - Manuel knew what would happen. The gringos and their cult weren't the kind who mess around - he would be tortured before being gutted and thrown into a ditch.
Manuel turned before entering the war room, shoving the last of the papers into the folder. An IWU member stood casually next to the opposite wall, an assault rifle in his hand.
"Where's Ramírez?" Manuel choked to the IWU worker. "I have the papers Worker Group Leader 112 requested for her, sir."
"She said she was heading towards her office." The IWU grunt shrugged.
"Hmm." Manuel frowned. He was sure Victoria was escaping in one of the trucks. Why then, would she return to her?
Too late, he realised his mistake. Swivelling round, he saw the black butt of a gun smack down on his head. Eliisabet holstered her gun as she stepped out of the shadows, before turning to the IWU officer.
"Strip him, put on the spare uniform. With any luck they will assume the station commander had shot himself when he realised the going was getting tough." She kicked his body, smiling. Hopefully the fools would realise their mistake too late - and by then they would have walked into a trap more spectacular than one they could ever have devised. She didn't expect much from amateurs, especially the kind who dressed as in those ridiculous costumes.
Suddenly, the entire room started to shake as an earth shattering boom was heard. Several loud gunshots instantly followed followed with the screams of agony and pain that accompanied them "They seemed to have fired a shell from the tank." the IWU officer said, "And are beginning the assault."
"Fuck." said Eliisabet. "Fuck it, slit his throat and throw his body in her office with a grenade in for good measure. Weave wasted enough time."
The barbed wire looked as if it had speared half of the resistencia by the time that Frank’s tank had flattened it. The foremost watchtower had been hit with a tank shell, and crumbled onto more men. Frank didn't care. Anything to kill the infidels was justified.
"Death to the Bolsheviks! Libertard y Orden! Freedom and death!"
The battle cry still rang shrill as resistencia and American forces alike ran riot throughout the airfield, killing those Colombians careless enough to be torn apart by their hailstorms of bullets. The ground was piling high with mangled bodies, each peppered with bullet holes. Blood ran freely in small lakes as the resistencia started to behead the Colombians with bayonets, cleavers and any other blade they carried. Colombians still caught alive were similarly executed.
Frank breathed in satisfaction. They hadn't even entered the airbase yet, and already the communists were retreating. Well, they wouldn't find any sanctuary in the concrete walls of the airbase.
"Fire at the east wall." Frank laughed grimly. "I want them to know that God’s righteous fury will strike them even when they think themselves invulnerable."
The shell tore through the reinforced concrete, sending shockwaves throughout the rest of the field. Frank grabbed a megaphone, before appearing out the tank hatch.
"Brothers! The infidels are left exposed! Let us rain the fury of God upon them, so we may cleanse this place of their decadent filth! Lets us tear down their banners of blood so we may fly the flag of freedom! Let us restore dignity to this fair country! Death to the Bolsheviks! Liberty and Order! Freedom or death!"
Frank clenched his fist, which was starting to emit a blinding white light. Screwing his eyes the light transformed into a beam hurtling through the ruined wall of the air base, disintegrating a fleeing Colombian. Frank climbed out of the tank, standing on its turret, a submachine gun in hand.
“Stop the tank.” He snarled. “Let me give them God’s wrath.” The driver obliged as the tank screeched to a halt. Frank breathed a sigh of satisfaction as he climbed from the tank. The Colombians were fleeing, deeper into the airbase, or were still fighting on the airfield. Ants to be crushed, Frank thought as he disembarked from the tank, his boots scraping against the bullet ridden tarmac of the airfield. Frank fired a burst from his submachine gun, which resulted in several Colombians to fall to the floor, covered in blood. Frank stepped into the airbase through the ruined wall, his submachine gun mowing down those unlucky enough to remain in the path of its barrel.
Victoria heard the loud blast, and what sounded like rubble tumbling down. So they had fired at the airbase. She wasn't surprised - and yet the attack was so unsophisticated, merely a show of brute force. There was no planning behind it, no strategy - just a murderous rampage. Victoria shivered. She just hoped - prayed even - that the gringos would be incompetent enough to give her enough time to escape.
She was sitting in a cramped, armoured truck. She was sitting between two IWU workers, clad in their black uniforms, rifles in hands. Her own bodyguards had been driven to the safe house earlier. Except Manuel. He had been sent to accompany Worker 112.
Victoria shivered. She was not spooked easily, but the steely eyed Worker Group Coordinator made Victoria uneasy. Not just on what she planned to do, but her whole demeanor. Victoria had heard stories that the IWU would have traitors pushed into animal grinders and sold the remains to an Indian meat company. She also heard that they had burnt down tribal villages in the Amazon and raped every single one of their inhabitants before throwing them into the fires. Or that they forced prisoners to march through the Siberian wastes in Russia until they dropped dead before escaping into China. Or that they had sent mutinous South American divisions into the Central American heartland simply to set an example. Whether these stories were true or not, Victoria didn't know - but she didn't trust the secretive worker nonetheless.
"Turn the engine on!"
Victoria turned to see Worker 112 accompanied by a stocky comrade rushing towards the truck. Both had bloodstains over them, with the second figure nursing a gunshot wound in his left shoulder.
"Where’s Manuel?" Victoria asked.
"He was caught in the blast from the tank. Wasn't looking the right way. Worker 2983 was shot by the enemy." Eliisabet said.
Looking wearily at Eliisabet, Victoria nodded an acknowledgement, "Start the truck. We need to get out of here."
The Colombian screamed as he went down on knees, his flesh slowly melting off his face. A beam of white light tore through his chest causing his body to almost completely disintegrate. His companion looked over her shoulder only to be peppered with a burst of machine gun fire that rended her body apart, with blood splattering across the walls.
Frank stepped over to examine his handiwork as militia started to pursue the remaining Colombians. His face was red, with sweat pouring down into his shirt collar. His right eye was smashed, with wires hanging loosely around his eye socket. He whipped round to face an aide who stood on guard behind him.
"They are evacuating the fucking place," Frank snarled. "If we aren't careful, we’ll miss the bitch Ramírez." He narrowed his left eye. If the godless wetbacks were able to escape, then this assault would have been for nothing, and the bolsheviks would win. An unacceptable outcome, Frank thought as he clenched his fist.
He turned to his aide. "I want our best men to guard the exits. Take no prisoners. If you see a bolshevik, shoot to kill." The aide nodded, talking into his radio as Frank started to make his way down the corridor as he reloaded his assault rifle, flanked by two Church thugs. As he turned a corner, he kicked open a door, gunning down all those inside. The Colombians had barely pulled the triggers on their own weapons before they were riddled with bullets with blood rising in sharp arcs. Frank didn't break a sweat, marching swiftly down the corridor, his rifle still smoking.
An explosion wrought the building apart. Colombians screamed as they ran towards Frank, their bodies on fire, their faces reduced to a peeling, melting skulls. Frank snarled as he gun them down, coughing as smoke started to fill his lungs.
"Who the fuck ordered the tanks to fire?" Frank screamed, turning to his aides.
"Th-that wasn't a tank, s-sir." his aide replied in a terrified voice. "It was i-internal."
Frank cursed. "Proceed then. If you come across any reds, kill them." He marched past his aides, ignoring the screams of the burning Colombians as fire licked the ruins of the reinforced concrete. He turned a corner, before facing a small smoking room, A charred, twisted body surrounded by flaming red banners sat in the middle. Medals were starting to melt on the corpses chest, as portrait frames sat empty as charred paper bowed to the flames. A wooden desk had been reduced to black charcoal as the ceiling started to crumble. Frank’s thin lips formed a small smile. So the bolshevik had committed suicide. In a rather dramatic fashion, he thought, but at least she was dead.
"We've found the source of the explosion and Ramírez." His yellow smile widened. "Mission accomplished."
Ramírez paced the dingy safe house, her face creased. It had once been one of the communal apartments, but now it was a husk that, if were not for the reinforced concrete holding it together, would have been bombed to rubble long ago. Nevertheless, it served as an acceptable safe house. The gringos hardly if ever frequented the district, which had been cleansed long ago of the "unclean". She sighed. The IWU had left hours ago to complete their mission. She was still unsure on what exactly the details of such a mission was - the European woman had been vague.
"Damn it." she muttered. The enemy had routed her forces long along. The entire town was against the government. Most of the country’s - no, continents - former bourgeoisie elite stood in staunch opposition to the government. Even if they won here, it would not be long before Mexican fascists and reactionaries took Bogotá and herald the end of the revolution. What was the point of fighting now?
Victoria shook her head. If she started to doubt the IWU, she was doubting the party - and thus the revolution. To do so would mark her on the side of the gringos - on the side of the fascists, the reactionaries, the bourgeoise. Whatever this European women had planned would surely result in the end of the gringos. Her own comrades had been weak, lured in by the promises of charlatans. The IWU were true revolutionaries who would not stand for these foreign imperialists and their fantasies to triumph in the people’s republic. Today the imperialists would fall - and the people will rally around the red banner of freedom. Victoria smiled.
Eliisabet scanned the dark expanse of the city. The moon shone weakly through the clouds, being obscured by the permanent layer of smoke that was a result of the vast industrial complexes in Bogota that covered the entire region. For most military commanders - especially the Americans educated at West Point and still seeing themselves as the guardians of some sort of democracy - this was a nuisance. But, in the context of this operation, Eliisabet could only see it as a blessing. She didn't want some thugs sighting her and her squad. Of course, she could easily dispatch them at a moment's notice, but it would be a waste of time and bullets.
She gestured to her compatriots, who started to follow her into a large public square. A large stone slab sat in the centre where once a mausoleum to a revolutionary hero stood. The Americans had tried to systematically destroy all the town's cultural centres on account of them being "Bolshevik brutalism" (even, Eliisabet noted wryly, if they were Catholic churches) leaving rubble and a thick layer of dust to permeate the air that hung down heavily on the Workers’, as if it was trying to suffocate them.
Eliisabet stifled a cough as she moved into one of the large abandoned communal apartments for cover. If they were too exposed the Americans might try and take pot shots. She started moving cautiously through the building, her suppressed assault rifle held high, ready to shoot any witness on sight. Her night vision goggles showed no movement. Good, she thought as she went further through the building. Burnt furniture littered the place accompanied by charred bodies. Eliisabet calmly walked over what was once a five year old child who had likely been bombed by American coalition airstrikes. Or government barrel bombs. Or crude explosives laid down by one of the many rebel groups who tore each other's throats out. It really didn't matter. It was only meat. The main concern now was to carry out the mission.
She checked her watch. Quarter past midnight. She was making good time. Eliisabet rounded a corner, before spying a lone figure. One of their guards. Dammit, she thought as she raised her assault rifle firing a couple of shots into his back. He fell over quickly as Eliisabet motioned for her men to advance. She had hoped for there to be no guards. Pity - it would just mean they would have to hurry their mission. Any contact with the Americans risked the chance of detection.
The IWU advanced through the streets, pacing their movements as deliberately and as quickly as possible. She could almost see the airbase up ahead with its fluorescent spotlights scanning the area lazily. She turned to one of her comrades -
"You know what to do, Ștefan."
The man nodded as he shoved on a capirote, shouldering his rifle as he started to approach the glare of the spotlights. Eliisabet turned quickly, breaking into a small sprint as the Workers' started to approach the dark underbelly that was the perimeter of the airbase.
Frank puffed on a cigarette before adjusting the eyepatch that rested over his ruined cybernetic eye. He felt somewhat uneasy in the ruined airbase - the noise of the creaking pipes, the fires still crackling, the screams of those being tortured irritated him. Back in his bunker in central Madrid he was surrounded by thick walls that kept out such noises - even when he met his colleagues they stood silent. In awe or fear? It didn't matter. The sight of grown men silent at his approach - well, it didn't give him pleasure exactly but certainly gave him a sense of satisfaction.
He shrugged. It needn't have bothered anyway. They had succeeded. God’s work was complete. At least in this miserable city the bolsheviks had been crushed by the God-fearing common man who fought for liberty. If Frank’s small force of dedicated holymen had been able to liberate this town, who was to say such a model could be replicated across the country? Of course, they had to send a clear message, Frank hoped the sight of bolsheviks crucified upside down and with their heretic symbols carved on their chests would do the trick. Next time, maybe doing it to their families as well would be an even greater failsafe. Who would think of defying God's word if their own spawn was facing His punishment?
"What is it?" Frank croaked, barely glancing to meet the soldiers eyes.
"Gary Walton called from the high command. He wishes to take command of this base while you go back to Madrid."
Frank sighed. He knew the pen-pusher would dip his interfering hands into this mess. Nevertheless, his work here was done. Back in central Madrid he would be able to coordinate the militia’s next move in their crusade.
"Tell him I’ll set off immediately." Frank sighed, pulling himself up from his chair. "Also - I want some of the bolsheviks to be sent over to Madrid as well. The interrogation chambers back there are better suited to, uh, extract confessions."
"And the ones back here? Do you want them all crucified?"
Frank paused. "Give the rest of them a bit of rectal rehydration. I'm sure there are some feeding tubes around here."
|K21 - Dusty Blinds · K21 - I'm With You · K21 - Prayer · K21 - Kindred · K21 - Degenerate · ...|
|Prequels & Stand Alone Stories|
|Vallarian Trilogy · Ortus Continuity · Antecedence Double Trilogy · Artificial Elemental Trilogy · K21 - Broken Faith · K21 - Substantial Illusions · K21 - Judgement In Duty · K21 - Aces High · K21 - Limitless Sun · K21 - Distorted Closure · K21 - Loose Ends · K21 - Attache Case|