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This article is a part of the K21 Squared timeline.

This article belongs to Solomus-BlackWing. Please do not edit this article without their permission.

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Cast
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Prologue

A young man ran through oblivion, as an abandoned warehouse once used by India’s security cartel was now engulfed in flames. The man, no more than twenty years of age, wore a black and blue trimmed flight jacket, brown slacks, and finally a pair of grey mountaineering boots strapped to his feet. His messy blonde hair hadn’t been combed in weeks, and was kept out of his eyes with a pair of skiing goggles strapped around his forehead.

The concrete floors were practically bathed in gasoline, causing the entire warehouse to blacken with soot, making it next to impossible to see. In his hands, the security contractor fumbled with a bright orange flare gun, trying to load his first – and only – round. Unfortunately, the tears in his eyes caused by the smoke and the fact that he constantly had to look up to make sure he wasn’t running straight into a wall of fire made it difficult to do so.

Behind him, the young mercenary could hear his hunter swearing and yelling at him, as if he thought that doing so would cause the contractor to slow down and wait for him. Instead, he kept running, silently hoping that he wouldn’t botch up his plan of escape.

Sprinting under a pallet rack, the young security contractor soon came across a dead end, where a steel door refused to give way. After several short curses and a couple of kicks, the man turned around to find his chaser less than ten steps behind him. The other man, a heavily built Serbian killer wore a light grey uniform with a red rank slide stitch upon the left side and both shoulder guards, and a similar pair of grey slacks, topped off with a set of coal black boots. His right hand – which was covered by a black leather glove – firmly gripped a Springfield XD subcompact handgun. His left hand – which was bare of any glove – burned brightly as it had been cloaked in flames. His eyes were to reflect the fire that consumed the building as he stared frenziedly at his prey.

No words were needed, for they had already been spoken. For weeks, the cornered security contractor had been hunted by the Serbian killer and his team of deadly assassins. The chase had started just north of the American Confederation while the mercenary was on assignment in the deep Arctic Cordillera mountain range – specifically near the Peak of Arrowhead Mountain. That pleasant experience was followed up with a quick tour through the city of Reykjavík in Sector IV’s Iceland, which had attracted some unwanted attention. After borrowing an experimental jet interceptor that may or may not have crash-landed along the border of Tajikistan, the rest of the hunt had taken place on foot, and had finally come to a close in the burning building they were currently standing in.

With that in mind, the security cartel gun-for-hire slotted his flare into the makeshift weapon he held in his hands, all the while keeping his eyes locked on those of the fire elemental standing in front of him. An entertained smile crossed over the Serbian’s pale face as he viewed his prey’s final stand, and he responded to this act of defiance by creating a ball of fire in the palm of his hand, and pointing his handgun straight at the cornered man.

The next few moments flew by in what seemed to be slow motion. Hoping for the best, the American pointed the flare gun to the ceilingand pulled the trigger, sending the round howling into the air. This caught the Serbian off-guard, causing him to lower his weapon ever so slightly as he looked up at the flare for a brief second. A brief second was all the time the mercenary needed, and he quickly pulled out a military remote detonator from his black jacket before squeezing it in his hands. Almost immediately, C-4 explosives hidden in front of the Serbian elemental exploded, sending him flying back.

The young man smiled wickedly at his handiwork before pulling out a small key he had tied around his neck and slotted it into the door that had previously blocked his path. Just as he lurched the metal door open, the mercenary heard a powerful percussion go off behind him.

Before he had the chance to turn around, a powerful force knocked him off his feet and sent him sprawling out the door. The contractor screamed as roaring flames licked away at his back, completely burning through his flight jacket. The warehouse he lay in front of continued to belch flames, sending pieces of glass and metal spewing in all directions as it did so. One three-inch shard of glass somehow found its way into the mercenary’s lower chest, causing him to cough up blood as he clenched his gullet.

Just as the security contractor began to drift out of consciousness, three figures stepped out of the darkness that had been overshadowed by the roaring warehouse. As they continued to walk towards the shaking American, the silhouettes came into clear view. They wore grey uniforms with a winged shield stitched upon their right sleeve. Their skin seemed to reflect the fire round them like mirrors, and they held incredibly compact carbines in their arms. The figure in the middle looked down at the security contractor with emotionless eyes, before falling down to one knee.

“Mitch Ochoa?” Were the only words he muttered, as if he had other, more important things to attend to. The very mention of his name sent chills down the mercenary’s spine and caused him to reel back, groaning in pain as he did so. The figure gave a quick nod as if an unasked question had been answered before nodding to his associates.

“Get him immediate medical attention. We need him alive.”

The other two figures nodded before grabbing hold of Mitch’s arms and proceeded to drag him away from the warehouse. Pain sent shockwaves through Ochoa’s body, and he soon found himself drifting out of consciousness.

Chapter 1

The morning sun rising blanketed the city of New Delhi in a sheet of orange sunlight, obscuring the stars that shone brightly in what had been the night sky moments earlier. Standing on the rubble of what had once been a storehouse were several figures dressed in grey uniforms. Most of them had red rank slides stitched upon the left side of their chest, while one amongst the group had a yellow-green slide. His steel-grey eyes were hiding behind a pair of glasses that reflected the morning sunlight, and his sandy blonde hair fell under his earlobes. He wore grey slacks that were the same colour as his uniform, and held a data-slate in his hands. His eyes were fixated upon the device for a few moments, before he shut it off and turned to his fellow comrades-in-arms.

“Keep searching. He’s somewhere underneath all of this.” The blonde man commanded. The majority of those gathered simply nodded and returned to digging through the rubble. However, one of them didn’t do as ordered. Instead, she stepped forwards, her deep hazel eyes glaring menacingly at the Deputy Commander.

“You expect us to find him in all of this? We’ve been searching for hours Kenneth, hours!” The young woman snarled.

The blonde-haired man spared the woman a brief glance before returning his attention to the device held in his hands. Olia Silveira, GHOST Lieutenant and Guardian of Water was an incredibly difficult presence to have on the field. Her extremely volatile personality could only ever be soothed by the company of Damien Anderson. Unfortunately for the Commander’s deputy and all others involved in the mission, Anderson had much more important matters to attend to, and could not be waste any time on a recovery mission.

“Get back to searching, Lieutenant Olia.” Was the only thing the Deputy Commander said in reply before turning to depart.

“Oh no,” The black-haired Guardian snapped, grabbing hold of the man’s arm. “I’ve already done my part in this assignment. You wanted me here in case the building was still on fire, and I already put out all the flames! I don’t know why you need-”

Her phrase was cut off as she yelped in pain as her hand began to freeze. Letting go of the other Guardian’s arm, the young woman noticed the man’s sleeve was covered in frost.

“I’m very conservative of my personal space, Miss Silveira.” The man offered as a smirk washed over his face.

Porra!” The Guardian of Water swore in Portuguese. “I could have frostbite!”

“Fret not Lieutenant,” The Deputy Commander replied. “So long as you get back to searching, I promise I won’t pull a stunt like that again.”

Va' se foder, Kenneth.” Olia grumbled before walking off.

As she did so, the man named Kenneth’s attention was drawn towards one of the agents that had been assigned to the recovery team as he began to call for the Deputy Commander’s attention.

“Sir!” The man shouted across the warehouse’s wreckage. “I’ve found him!” The Guardian of Ice shut off his data-slate before beginning to jog over to the man that had been calling for his attention. Sure enough, underneath a pile of concrete and metal poles was Zalmon Dejanović, whose upper body was clear of the wreck. Kneeling down, the Guardian narrowed his eyes before removing his rectangular-rimmed glasses.

“This isn’t the time to be resting your head, Captain.” Kenneth told the pinned Guardian of Fire with a straight face.

In turn, Zalmon gave a bitter laugh. “This certainly reminds me of our time spent in Russia, Lysander.”

“No, this is different. We had guns pointed at us in Russia.” The Deputy Commander smiled back before standing up. “Sergeant Amadi, you know what to do!” He called to one of the soldiers standing around him.

“Yessir!” The designated soldier replied, before pressing his hands to the floor. For a moment, the only noise made was that of the vehicles off in the far distance and the ocean waves beating against the stone docks. Afterwards, the ground began to shake as the piles of rubble that had previously been crushing Zalmon began to levitate, before they were tossed aside.

Kenneth turned and gave Amadi a brief nod, before returning his attention to his fellow Guardian, who was trying to sit up straight, rolling his shoulders counter-clockwise in the process. A few soldiers helped him stand, throwing the Guardian of Fire’s arms around their necks in the process. Olia gave a brief, unlady-like, grunt of acknowledgement before turning to the Guardian of Ice.

“Can we go now?” She demanded.

The Deputy Commander ignored her, instead looking at Zalmon square in the eye. “Captain,” He began. “Is he dead?”

The life seemed to drain out of Dejanović’s face before he looked down at his feet.

“I…can’t confirm that Kenneth. The building collapsed before I had a chance to put a bullet through that bastard’s head.” Zalmon sighed. “If he is dead, his body’s under here somewhere.”

Lysander brought his hand up to his chin for a moment, before nodding in response. “Then we’ll let the authorities find his body. Right now, we need to get you medical attention. Can you put any pressure on your right leg?”

The Guardian of Fire laughed in response. “I can’t even feel my right leg, sir.”

“Perfect,” Kenneth Lysander, Guardian of Ice and Deputy Commander of the Global Honorary Organization of Specialized Tasks, sighed. “That’s one Guardian out of commission.”


*


Mitch Ochoa had been in some pretty dangerous situations ever since his days as an adolescent. From being left for dead in Quebec to having been thrown in a prison cell owned by a dangerous organization of globally honored elemental soldiers, nothing compared to the fear he felt in the room he currently sat in. After all, nothing was more frightening than being in a room with a man that could have you killed with a friendly wave. The five security guards standing behind him didn’t help ease his nerves either.

The room itself, finely furnished with leather loveseats and violet carpet, had all of the crystal chandeliers turned off as well as having the red curtains shut. It gave the otherwise glamorous-looking chamber a dreary and frightening look. Again, having five armed guards pointing their weapons at your head didn’t make it any more comfortable.

The man who had ordered Ochoa here went by the name of Russel Morn, and had all of India in the palm of his hand, or so Mitch had been told. The shadows seemed to work in his favor, since his face was concealed by a veil of darkness; the only thing visible was his finely dressed pair of legs, and one hand which rested upon the arm of his fashionable chair. For a brief moment they said nothing to one another, as if they both waited for the other to start the conversation. Finally, Morn spoke.

“Daniel.” He said in a heartwarmingly kind voice, which made Ochoa cringe. He still wasn’t used to hearing his employer use his original name.

“Sir,” Mitch mumbled in response. “I’m very humbled you demanded my presence after my previous…blunder.”

“Yes, well,” Morn sighed as he waved his hand around apathetically, and for a moment Mitch thought he was ordering his guards to take aim. “I had my own men take care of your mission afterwards. Furthermore, what you shifted your attention to was actually very beneficial to me, so you helped further my plans anyway,”

As he continued to speak the CEO of Event Horizon grabbed hold of a bottle of ruby-red wine and poured himself a glass, before taking a sip. “I should thank you.”

“You’re too kind sir,” Mitch replied as he reclined in his seat. “But I doubt you called me just to thank me.”

“Mm,” Russel mumbled as he took another imbibe from his glass. “Straight to business as usual is it?”

“I simply do not want to waste your time, sir.” The mercenary retorted.

“I have all the time in the world, Daniel.” The CEO chuckled before he poured a second glass and placed it on the coffee table in front of him. “Care for a drink?”

For a brief moment the security contractor didn’t reply. Before long however, he leaned forwards and snatched the glass off the coffee table. He knew better than to turn down an offer from his employer, no matter how small it was. The American mercenary looked over to the CEO and raised his glass, to which he returned the gesture.

“Cheers.” They said to one another simultaneously before downing their drinks. A brief taste of bittersweet grape filled Ochoa’s senses before he placed the glass on the coffee table in front of him.

“Onto business then,” Morn smiled, before letting out an uninterested sigh. “I need you to recover a set of files for me, Ramone.”

“And by ‘recover’, you mean steal, that it?” Mitch deduced.

Russel’s smile grew slightly at that. “Yes, I’m worried that one of my…ah, competitors possesses something that could further my endeavors far more than his own.”

“Understood,” The mercenary nodded. “Who exactly is my target?”

“Dhana Technologies,” Morn replied. “One of their stations located in Tanzania.”

“I’ve heard of Dhana,” Mitch grunted. “They’ve practically made New Zanzibar into a fortress.”

“It shouldn’t be too difficult for someone with your set of skills.”

“You flatter me sir,” Mitch responded kindly. “But I wonder why you don’t decide to send some more…capable men to Tanzania.” As he finished his sentence, Ochoa directed his thumb towards the guards behind him.

“I cannot risk sending my own men to this facility, and have decided to use someone more…oh, what’s the word?”

“Expendable?” The security contractor offered.

“Quite so!” The CEO laughed. “Regardless, I assure you that you will be paid handsomely for your service.”

Suddenly, the doors to the left flew open. At first the guards behind the security contractor raised their weapons, but quickly lowered them as they came to realize that the figure who had opened the doors was one of their own.

The figure dressed in the same uniform as his comrades, but his face was much less expressionless. The guard hurryingly jogged over to the side of Russel before he whispered something into his ear. As he did so, the CEO’s smile contorted into a sick snarl, before he waved the man aside.

“My apologies Daniel, but it seems as though I don’t have all the time in the world. I wish you the best of luck with your mission.”

Before he had a chance to respond, the mercenary felt a chill run up and down his spine before his vision began to blur. At the same time, his throat went numb, and he suddenly felt as though he had the weight of the entire world pressing down against him. Unable to speak, Ochoa fell onto the carpeted floor and began to gag uncontrollably. The last thing the mercenary saw before the poison that had been spiked in his wine took over was Russel Morn and his cadre of Event Horizon guards exiting the chamber, leaving Mitch Ochoa to slowly slip out of reality and into a sleep like death.

Chapter 2

The Guardian of Ice leaned back in his chair, five screens mounted on the wall in front of him. His keyboard sat on his lap as he scrolled down pages and kept eyes on camera feeds. Since the recovery teams return to Guardian Tower the Deputy Commander had remained in his office, reviewing the latest news reports and security feeds about the destroyed warehouse they had probed days earlier in hopes that the authorities and had found a body. No luck. Construction workers had cleared the site, but no body had been found under the wreckage.

A sigh left Lysander’s lips before he slammed his hands upon the table. Ochoa had escaped, and Zalmon had been brought back in need of surgery. After further examination of the damage, the medical team had come to the conclusion that his right leg would need to be amputated, as the femur had shattered in sixteen different places, and the tibia had split open. Additionally, they would need to surgically remove several pieces of glass wedged into his left arm, and stitch together a large cut that spread up from his chin all the way to his right brow. His front teeth had broken off and punched a hole through his upper lip, which would need to be removed and stitched together. The Guardian of Fire was a mess, and he didn’t have anything to show for it; His target still lived.

Kenneth ran his hand through his head of blonde hair before an idea crept into being. The Chief Information Officer’s eyes fell upon one of his several monitors before he opened a document and scrolled through a list of names and numbers. Thankfully, the names were sorted alphabetically, and in no time at all the Guardian came upon the name he was looking for. He read the number out loud before turning to an STE office set, and punched in the phone number after making the necessary security preparations. After a brief wait, his contact picked up.

“It’s Lysander,” The Deputy Commander told his contact before he had a chance to speak. “I have a job for you, two-hundred thousand royal euros. Take it or leave it.”

There was another brief pause, before the recipient responded.

“What do you need?” The mercenary asked.

“I’m putting a hit out on a liability to my organization,” Kenneth told him, leaning back in his chair. “And need you to take him out for me.”

“Sounds easy enough,” The mercenary grunted. “Who’s the target?”

“A man by the name of Mitchell Ochoa,” Lysander remarked. “I’ll send you the details by nine-o-hundred.”

“I’ll be waiting.” Lysander’s contact replied before hanging up.

A broad smile crossed over the Deputy Commander’s face before he scrolled through the list of names once more. Ochoa was a dangerous man, and Lysander doubted a single operative would be enough to take him down, especially since he was able to take down Zalmon on his own. Pickign and choosing his way through the most dangerous and effective bounty hunters GHOST had on standby, Kenneth also kept his eye of Indian airport security footage, just in case his target decided to try and fly his way out of the Sector. And if he did decide to try, Lysander would be ready.


*


This wasn’t the first time Ochoa had woken up in an alleyway groggy and confused, and he severely doubted it would be the last. As his eyes focused and he sat up straight, he took a brief look at his surroundings. He sat behind a large green dumpster around a pile of glass beer bottles. No doubt Event Horizon had tried to make it seem as though he was a passed out drunk, and it seemed to have worked. He still wore is usual getup; a black and blue flight jacket, brown slacks, and mountaineering boots, along with a pair of white earmuffs wrapped around his neck.

Almost immediately he wondered if his employer had messaged him more information about the Tanzania job, and began rummaging through his jacket pockets in hopes of finding his cellular phone. Instead, he wrapped his hands around an envelope that had been stamped down with a wax seal; a winged shield etched into the red wax. That sly bastard had planted a letter on him while he was out cold.

Carefully opening the wrapper, the security contractor pulled out a folded scrap of paper. The letter read:

Dear Daniel,

I do apologize for being cut off before we could finish our discussion; something of greater importance came up.

Regardless, I would like to remind you that you are infiltrating a facility run by Dhana Technologies, a leading producer of weapons, vehicles, and other electronics. You are to print out and deliver to me a set of files that will be marked under Maauji_Project.doc. Do this, and you shall be paid a handsome price 500,000 Royal Euros for your service.

Should you fail to complete this task within the month, or choose to inform Dhana of this assignment, I will have my men drag you to my feet so I can bash your skull in myself.

Stay safe, and God bless!

Yours truly, RM

Ochoa’s eyes widened - not at the fact that his employer had threatened to bash his skull in; he did that all the time. What caught the mercenary’s eye was how much the CEO was willing to pay for delivering the documents. Five-hundred thousand royal euros was a fortune in American currency, and he had already blown the one million Thomas McKenzie had given him two years beforehand. The security contractor frowned at that. He had been thrown onto GHOST’s hit list for absolutely no reason.

The nature of his own frivolities did not sit well with Ochoa and in hindsight he wished that he had invested it more wisely. Of course, this had never occurred to him at the time when he’d been living life to the full. Mitch pushed the thought out of his mind and reasoned that there was no point dwelling upon the past. Mistakes had been made and GHOST had been after his hide ever since. But Ochoa had never regretted his decision to seize the bull by the horns instead of continuing to seek out a meager existence.

Carefully placing the letter back into his jacket pocket, the mercenary strode out of the alleyway and was met with blinding sunlight. After his eyes adjusted, he examined the streets in hopes of finding a name while he pulled out his phone. After a few moments, he found his answer: Sinamangal Road, Kathmandu. The security contractor typed the name of the street into his device before a map of the immediate area popped up on the screen. Ochoa smiled as he found out that the nearest airport less than an hour away. Stuffing his phone into his slacks’ front pocket – a bright grin plastered upon his face – Mitch Ochoa made his way to book a flight to New Zanzibar.

Chapter 3

It had been two days since the Chief Information Officer had contacted his associate over the matter of finding Mitch, and he hadn’t left his desk since. No, instead the Guardian of Ice practically had his now bloodshot eyes glued to the several computer screens mounted on the wall in front of him; reviewing security camera feeds from airports all across the Fifth Sector, from Nepal to India. He had spent the better part of six hours reviewing footage from Sri Lanka, but had given up and decided to look elsewhere. He had ordered a team of operatives to station themselves in airports within Bangladesh, and had sent a team under the command of Olia to Bhutan for good measure – and as a small punishment for her insubordination during Zalmon’s retrieval.

A brief click of the keys had one of Lysander’s screens white out briefly before shimmering back to life, this time showcasing footage from an airport in Kathmandu, the largest agglomerate in Nepal. The Guardian scrolled through footage from the terminal, to the apron, before he finally settled upon the restaurant. After a few moments, Kenneth’s hand fell upon his mouse as he prepared to change the feed, but stopped just in time to see a young man in a black flight jacket wander into the restaurant; before he took a seat at the bar. Lysander’s eyes lit up before he opened up the document containing his acquaintance’s contact number. After finding it, the Chief Information Officer grabbed hold of his STE phone and dialed. Those few moments of waiting felt like an eternity as Kenneth wondered when he would pick up. Finally, he answered.

“Kathmandu,” Lysander hissed into the phone. “He’s in the airport off of Sinamangal Road in Kathmandu.”

“Understood.” The bounty hunter replied.

“He just got out of the security screening and is sitting in the restaurant to the far right, dressed in a black and blue flight jacket with brown slacks.” The Guardian explained as he reviewed more security footage from his computer screen. “I don’t care how you eliminate him; just make sure he’s dead.”

“What about my payment?” The mercenary demanded.

“We’ll discuss your payment after the deed is done, but I assure you that you’ll be paid handsomely for your service.” The Information Officer reassured.

“I’ll see you then.” The man replied, before hanging up the phone.

Kenneth slammed his STE phone down before turning back to his computer console. The Chief Information Officer would call the other bounty hunters he had contacted two days prior. Even though they had all assured him that Mitch Ochoa would die, Kenneth Lysander was not foolish enough to trust men who’s loyalty could be bought, and had already packed the supplies he needed in case things went south before he had even contacted the first mercenary. If they failed to get the job done, then he was not afraid to do it himself.


*


Sitting down in an airport bar sent a bundle of memories, both pleasant and unpleasant, back into Ochoa’s head. He remembered having his weapon stolen from right under his shirt, before the man who had done so used the firearm as a means to hassle him for information. Suffice to say, Mitch hadn’t expected to be disarmed and interrogated for information at two-forty in the morning, so he hadn’t put up much of a fight. On the plus side, he had later been offered a hefty sum of cash if he agreed to deliver the man to his employers at the time. The ale he suggested tasted great, too.

As the mercenary continued to reminisce about past events, the African-American barman waddled over to where he was sitting, taking out a small notepad as he did so. “You gonna order something, bud?” He asked is a gruff accent.

“Yeah,” Mitch confirmed. “The finest bottle of Vallariale you’ve got.”

“An entire bottle?” The bartender asked, dumbfounded. “You trying to drown your sorrows in alcohol or something?”

“Nah mate,” The security contractor beamed. “My flight doesn’t leave for another hour, so I’ve got plenty of time to kick back and relax.”

“Fair enough.” He shrugged, before turning towards the next customer.

With that out of the way, Mitch turned his attention to a much more important objective; finding a good looking girl to flirt with. Pulling out a cheap pair of sunglasses he had bought at one of the various convenience stores, the coquettish mercenary threw them over his eyes, before turning to look around the bar for any woman worth his time.

A quick look to the left showed no promise, as the only woman he could see was a pudgy hag guzzling down a seventh shot glass. Turning to the right only made the mercenary feel worse, as there were several voluptuous women within eyesight, but every single one of them was speaking to another man or had a golden band wrapped around their ring finger.

The mercenary breathed a sigh of disappointment, and began to turn away to wait for his drink quietly; before something else caught his eye. A ways away sat a young, yet all too odd looking, man, dressed in black from head to toe. A black beanie, unzipped black jacket, a sword that he had somehow managed to slip past security, and extremely unsettling black eyes; which were staring right at him. His incredibly scarred face scowled, as if Mitch was public enemy number one. Ochoa didn’t know what the guy’s problem was, but he wasn’t about to wander over there and ask him.

In the nick of time, the bartender slammed down the bottle of Vallariale Mitch had ordered, causing him to smile devilishly as he thought of the perfect way to approach his onlooker. Forking over a wad of Royal Euro Bills, Ochoa grabbed hold his bottle and turned towards the mystery man – who’s eyes were now fixated upon the posterior of a woman Mitch had his eyes on earlier.

With a spring in his step, the security contractor quickly walked up behind the man; wrapping his gloved hand around the neck of his ale bottle as he did so, ready to swing at any moment.

“Howdy!” Mitch exclaimed, catching the poor man off guard.

“Wuh!?” The black-eyed man flinched, turning his face towards Mitch instinctively. Seconds later, the mysterious onlooker found his face covered in glass and alcohol. Screaming in pain, the man fell to the floor, and Ochoa briefly caught a glimpse of a handgun holstered to his chest. Afraid that he might reach for it, Mitch fell upon the screaming man, grabbing hold of the firearm concealed by his black jacket. The security contractor’s target was too focused on his injuries to put up much resistance.

Mitch gave a brief glance upwards to look at the other customers, and saw the terror in their faces. A number of consumers that had been sitting near his target had jumped back and kept their distance. A few people were screaming, and the bartender had grabbed hold of a phone behind the counter.

With the sleek firearm held tightly in his hand, Ochoa stood up, keeping the barrel of his newfound weapon fixated upon his target. With his free hand, the security contractor dug out a fake ID he had made to get past airport security. He threw the ID card open; and flashed it at the observing crowd for a brief moment, before snapping it shut.

“Ladies and gentlemen, remain calm! I am Officer Ramone, an Airport Security Marshal, and the man lying before me is a dangerous criminal who is wanted for theft, sexual assault, and murder. I must ask that you return to your drinks, and allow me to do my job.”

Those who looked on in fear appeared calmer, and Mitch saw the bartender put the phone down. The general clamor within the bar subsided, and people returned to their seats, albeit with their eyes now focused upon the supposed Airport Marshal and wanted criminal. Ochoa’s target gave him a hateful glare, but said not a word; his face still drenched in ale and covered in tiny shards of glass.

With a gun in one hand and his fake ID in the other, the security contractor and his target left the lounge and made their way towards airport security. Those who looked on quickly moved out of the way as Ochoa showed them his ID card. Eventually, he found two security guards to pawn his target off to.

“Airport Security Marshal,” Mitch introduced himself; flashing the guards his ID card. “I caught this man trying to assault a poor woman with the sword he has tied around his back.” He gestured to the blade with a jerk of his head.

“Thank you Marshal,” The first officer nodded. “We’ll take it from here.”

“Good, because I've got to catch a flight to New Zanzibar.” Mitch smiled, handing his target over to the guards before he turned and left.

With that out of the way, the security contractor found a seat near a number of food stands, and looked down upon a watch he had bought earlier. His face cracked into a frown as he realized that he still had nearly an hour to kill before his flight left, and began to wonder how he was going to be able to top what just happened in terms of excitement.

Looking up from his watch, the security contractor’s frown twisted into a puerile grin as he caught a glance at a young, prepossessing woman sitting not too far away from him, eating alone. This day just seemed to get better and better.

Chapter 4

When his contact told him that he had failed to capture Ochoa and had instead managed to get himself arrested, Kenneth nearly hung up the phone. The temptation to do so was swiftly replaced with interest when the bounty hunter went on to tell him one very important piece of information.

“New Zanzibar?” Lysander asked. “You’re certain?”

“Positive.” The bounty hunter grunted over the line. “I don’t know why he’s headed there or when he leaves, but that’s where he’s going.”

The Guardian of Ice quickly opened a new tab on one of the various monitors, and searched for the earliest flight to New Zanzibar before he spoke to his contact once more.

“Mister McNeil, the information you’ve given me is invaluable. For this, you have my thanks.”

“Does that mean you’ll help me get out of this shithole?” He demanded.

After briefly considering how much he would have to commit in order to break his contact out of his current predicament, Lysander answered.

“No.”

He didn’t wait for the mercenary’s response, and hung up the phone before returning to his computer monitors. Why Mitchell was travelling to New Zanzibar was unimportant to the Guardian. In the end, the security contractor was responsible for allowing what could have been the organization’s only chance at finding Claude slip away. Nearly killing Zalmon didn’t help his case either. Now the Guardian of Ice knew where the bastard was headed, and could finally put a stop to him.

Lysander closed the tabs he had opened prior to receiving the call from his surrogate and proceeded to log himself out of the computer system. New Zanzibar, alongside the rest of Tanzania, had in recent years fallen under the influence of Dhana Technologies; a corporation that specialized in the production and national distribution of high quality military tech to several armies within the People’s Union of Africa. New Zanzibar was, by all means, Dhana’s personal stronghold. Entering that city was a risk in itself, since the Corporation had eyes and ears everywhere. Indeed, the Guardian would have to arrive prepared if he had any chance of tracking down his quarry.

With this in mind, Kenneth proceeded to straighten his tie and turned to make his way towards the armory; making a psychological list of everything he needed as he did so. If everything went according to plan, he would complete his mission within the week. Of course, this assignment involved Mitchell Ochoa; and nothing ever went according to plan when he was involved.


*


This day just seemed to get worse and worse. For starters, the young beauty Ochoa had tried to flirt with turned out to be married; and her husband hadn’t been all that happy to find a complete stranger resting his hand upon the leg of his wife. That bastard had been awfully eager to show off those pumpkin sized muscles of his moments afterwards. Following that lovely confrontation, the security contractor’s flight felt more like some kind of off-the-record roller coaster ride, what with all of the damn turbulence. To make matters worse, the old hag he had been forced to sit next to had gone and spilt her water all over his trousers. To add insult to injury, the bastards in charge of airport security didn’t accept the forged ID card he had given them; something about the lack of a biometric encryption.

Now, here he was. Hunched over the counter of some kind of fast food joint in the middle of the airport’s food court, handgun in hand, taking suppressive fire, looking like he just soiled himself because some bitch who should’ve been dead already went and spilled her drink all over his slacks.

What a great day this was turning out to be.

The sons-of-bitches who were shooting at him weren’t even using bullets. No, bullets stung and caused you to bleed. When you were hit by these guys, it burned. Mitch had the unlucky occurrence of getting shot in the back of his calf, and could smell his own skin cooking. That, he concluded, was bad; very bad.

The security contractor turned to find a door leading into the back room of the dive, and decided that fighting the airport security super soldiers shooting him in an enclosed space would be better than having them take pot shots at him as he sat behind a counter top with one too many holes in it.

Mitch waited several moments, desperately trying to focus his elemental abilities and stringing his soundproof headphones over his head, before he shot out from behind the table and fired a single round. Even with his earphones, the noise caused from his focused shot pounded against his head and made his ears ring. Airport security on the other hand, didn’t seem to get off so easily. Several of the guards that had been firing at him were forced onto their knees as they brought up their hands to cover their ears; which were probably bleeding by this point.

With the guards incapacitated, the security contractor bolted for the door and quickly swung it open. A curse left the security contractor’s lips as he soon came to realize that the room was more of a kitchenette, and could literally be traversed in seven steps. There was a single fryer machine to the left, a hamburger maker laid out next to it, and several cabinets mounted to the right to storage supplies, with a small freezer underneath them for storing frozen goods. Thankfully, there was a single door in the right corner of the room, with the words “EXIT” illuminated in red by a sign that sat above the door.

Before rushing towards his ticket to freedom and safety from deadly laser weapons, Ochoa turned to the freezer and noticed that it had a pair of wheels. With haste, the mercenary unplugged the freezer and rolled it over to the entrance, hoping to buy time. When that was done, he turned towards the exit. Mitch quickly noticed the number lock attached to the doorknob, and responded to this nuisance with a handful of bullets.

Emptying an entire clip into the damn thing, the security contractor grinned as he proceeded to open the exit without any more trouble. Behind him, he heard airport security as they pounded against the door that led into the kitchenette, shouting in a language Mitch hadn’t bothered to learn.

The exit door opened up to outside, where Ochoa now stood upon metal flooring, with a spiral staircase to his immediate left; with the airport parking lot a fair distance away. Practically jumping down the stairs, the security contractor made his way to the ground in no time, and began to sprint towards the parking lot; waving his gun in the general direction of anyone who looked his way.

By the time he had reached the parking lot, Mitch had sent half a dozen bystanders screaming and running away from him, and couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of sending them rebounding away from him. The middle aged man Ochoa and coerced into giving a vehicle had been particularly funny, as the poor man went on to trip over the curb and plant his face in the dirt, pissing himself a moment earlier when Mitch had waved a handgun at him.

When he was sitting in the driver’s seat and backing his new car out of the airport parking spot, the security contractor noticed several armed guards running at him off in the distance, firing wide with their carbines.

Needless to say, the temptation to roll down the window and give them the finger as he gunned the vehicle out of the airport had been exceptionally taxing to avoid.

Chapter 5

Five days. It had taken five days for flights to reopen for travel in and out of New Zanzibar’s central airport, Abeid Amani Karume. Unsurprisingly, after reading through various news articles to discern why receiving flights had been cancelled, the Guardian of Ice found various sources all linked to the same chain. It seemed as though Ochoa had made quite a name for himself in the short time he had spent in Sector VIII, as his most recent antics had painted him as a dangerous, heavily armed elemental terrorist. Leave it to Mitchell, Kenneth had thought, to inadvertently slow down his pursuers by painting another several dozen targets on his back. A small part of the Guardian had been tempted to pack it in and allow the collective authorities of Dhana Technologies deal with his target. That thought was quickly suppressed as he was reminded of just how much trouble Ochoa had given Zalmon and the rest of GHOST, alongside the Guardian’s wanting to deal with the security contractor personally.

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Epilogue

K21LOGOpunk
Chronology
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

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