(January 8th, 2034)
The door opened, and Steve Harris looked up, trying not to look hopeful, and just barely succeeding. It was indeed the two heavily armed Jinsei guards whom had brought him into the barracks, but rather then bringing him news of his release, as they had done for a few others, they instead brought in a new prisoner and shoved him roughly forward towards one of the spare cots.
He sighed and lay back down on his own cot as the new arrival sat down on his own. It had been the same thing for some time now; as the occupying Jinsei forces sifted out the various corporate employees from the ranks of the Zero Zone dwellers, they brought them to their base and placed them in holding. Then they would be released for a sizeable 'finder's fee' to their home corporation. All nice and simple, and no doubt a great way for Jinsei to turn some extra money on the side from this insane endeavor they were on.
Steve stretched out and stared up at the ceiling, then looked out over his fellow prisoners. Already he could spot employees of various corporations whom he had meet or heard of during his time with the DFP corporation. There were people from Global Agritech, Mitsumi, quite a few from Herichem and Shiriko-Tsuhi, and even one or two from Syntech Medsystems. Depending on their position within their respective companies, Steve knew that they would cough up the finder's fee and get back their employees. He sighed, and rolled over. The finder's fee could be quite expensive, and the small company he currently worked for, Poseidon Interactive, would be hard pressed to afford it, even if he was their top programmer.
"Never should have left DFP," he muttered.
From across the river, Korey Winters watched the Jinsei encampment, and gave a soft sound in appreciation of the camp's defenses. The main compound was centered in a large area near the bridge where the Edge of Night had once been, with a number of buildings within it. They consisted of a number of barracks, the command bunker, and numerous hastily constructed miniature towers and gun emplacements. The command bunker was in the center with a single large entrance, and the numerous barracks were placed about it. And to top it all off, there were a number of five man patrols moving about the area, all members of the Jinsei Wolf Brigade, as indicated by the heavy combat armour they wore.
Zooming out, Korey flicked a switch on the high tech binoculars and changed it to infrared mode. She zoomed back in on the barracks, and then frowned. "We've got one, two, possibly three barracks set aside for prisoners, with the rest for soldiers on leave. They're interspaced with the troop barracks, and have at least two heavy Armour units on each of them."
Behind her, Ray, dressed up all in black, nodded and quickly tapped the information into his PDA. Beside him sat a radio scanner, which was busily chirping out the transmissions of the Jinsei forces as they continued to fight with various Zero Zone forces. "The fighting has died down to mainly guerilla warfare," he commented, typing that note in as well. "Although there was a battle earlier, a head on assault which failed utterly."
"You sound a tad disappointed," Korey observed.
"I did spend some time in the Zero Zone," Ray reminded her. "And not all were the insane criminals they are portrayed to be." He then sighed. "Nor is it a paradise of freedom and liberty for all."
Korey glanced up at him. "Something else is bothering you, isn't it?"
"You can tell?"
She smiled warmly. "You're an open book, Ray, but you make for a good read. Now, what is it?"
Putting down the PDA, Ray looked out towards the Zero Zone. "Sandra Blackmore may be in there, and I am worried that she may have been in on the assault, and may not have possibly survived."
"That is allot of maybes," said Korey, sitting up and patting his shoulder. "And Sandra is a very experienced Street Samurai, she will not go down so easily, I am sure of it." She gave her friend and partner a reassuring smile. "And she has our contact information, so once she gets the time, she shall contact us."
Ray seemed hesitant for a moment before he returned the smile. "Yes, of course, you are right, Korey."
Turning back to her work, Korey quickly snapped off a series of pictures, storing them in the binoculars hard drive. "At any rate, any kind of assault we can muster will be of no avail, even if I were to snipe and you were to attack directly. They simply have too strong a force guarding the base, and the Wolf Brigade, if my sources are correct, are deadly in their own right."
"Perhaps a diversion?" suggested Ray.
"A good idea, but with our low funds, we would not be able to buy the resources needed to create a strong enough diversion," replied Korey. She looked over the encampment, at the various men and vehicles gathered there. "Of course, such a place would need an almost daily supply of weapons, armaments, fresh soldiers to relieve tired ones..."
Ray was quick to pick up on the train of thought. "An infiltration then."
"Yes, and it will need to be a very clean one. Should anything go wrong, and we will be hard pressed to make an escape." Korey began scanning the base, following a road out from it and across the bridge. Sure enough, there soon came a number of trucks from Neo York, rumbling across the bridge, burdened down with supplies and, as Korey flicked the binoculars over to infrared, troops as well.
"We have an idea now," said Korey as she packed away her binoculars. "Now we need to build on it."
Some time later, Korey and Ray appeared in the alley between two warehouses, the small amount of trash on the ground shuffling and swirling about from their sudden appearance. "This should be close enough," said Korey. She looked around for a fire escape and, when she found none, turned to Ray.
"Of course." And with that, the two of them began to levitate upwards, towards the roof of the warehouse to their right. Korey could feel his unworldly grip on her, strong yet gentle, and, not for the first time, wondered simply how his powers work in the first place. How did the human brain put out and direct such power with relative ease? She was no biology expert, but the question still intrigued her. Perhaps she would read up on what new reports there were after this current mission was done.
Ray set them down on the roof of the warehouse, behind a ventilation shaft, and Korey took out a miniature laptop and binoculars, giving the laptop to Ray. He turned it on as Korey turned on the binoculars and spied around the shaft.
A large parking space and double lane roads separated the warehouse she and Ray occupied from another row of warehouses. However, because of their proximity to the water, the warehouses were interspaced with long docks stretched out into the water, many of which contained large container ships. Large towers stretched up and over from the concrete docks, providing a way of removing the large metal containers that many of the ships had. But it was three warehouses and their respective unloading towers that drew Korey's attention.
"I see them," she said, spotting three warehouses of rather pristine condition decorated with Jinsei's colours and their corporate logo. Two of the docks were filled with large ships, of which the cranes were busily hauling supplies out of and placing them down on the docks. From there, men busied themselves in unloading them via forklifts, which the crane operators would then move aside once they were empty.
"They appear to be in a rush," Ray observed, diverting his gaze from the information on the screen before him to the docks.
"No doubt in an effort to replace supplies after that latest attack," Korey mused aloud. "Which will work in our favour." She zoomed in on the warehouse furthest to the right, and flicked on the infrared. Instantly the image of the building was outlined in shades of blues and black, with bright orange and red dots representing the images of equipment and people at work. "Numbers?"
Ray glanced down at the miniature laptop's screen. "Twenty workers to a building, with an extra thirty as guards, and four men per truck," he started. "Two in the front, two in the back, with the two in the back acting as guards. No cyberdroids, tanks, or any other heavy armoured units."
Korey made a mental check for each number that came up, counting them off rapidly under her breath while she scanned the length and width of the warehouse. "Correct. Trucks?"
"Four, two being unloading, two being loaded."
"Impressive," Korey whispered. "Spycorp certainly has good leads on information."
The large garage doors opened up, revealing the four armoured transport trucks as well as the four men inside. The transports themselves were large hunks of steel and iron on six wheels, with armour plating over the windows and the tires themselves. The furthest one on the right rumbled out, followed shortly thereafter by a second one, and they both rumbled down the road.
"What should we do?" Ray asked.
Korey trailed the two trucks down the road, where another two passed them along the way to the warehouse. "Simple, we have to cut them off, get them out of sight, but in such a way so as to not arouse suspicion."
Without another word, Ray brought up the map of the surrounding area on his laptop, and quickly pointed out an area near the end of the docks, a path outlined in red, one of three, stretching from the harbour to the Jinsei encampment. "Here?"
"Hmmm... yes, lets move."
Some time later, with the afternoon sun moving past the apex of the sky, Jim adjusted his hands on the steering wheel and rubbed his eyes, brushing his sandy blonde locks out of his eyes.
"How you doing there?" asked his driving partner.
Jim glanced over at Gene, who was dressed in the same Jinsei driver's uniform as he, with the colours and logo and a belt with the standard issue 45. Revolver and clips on it. "How do you think I feel? Tired."
"Comes from these... what... what hour is this?" asked Gene, glancing at his watch. "13 hour shifts?"
"Uh-huh... didn't you hear? A huge group of Zone gangers attacked the main encampment, they need fresh supplies pronto, regardless of how we feel," Jim added.
"Uh-huh, and then the- HOLY-" shouted Gene as a beat up old car came careening from out of an alleyway in front of them, smashing into the front end and separating the two trucks. The first slowed down and then stopped, the driver demanding to know what happened. Gene picked up the radio mike. "Yeah, we're fine, thanks for the concern..." A young woman kicked the door open, a bottle of whiskey in hand, and stumbled out. "No, just some damned broad slammed into us. Go on ahead, we'll be with you in a few."
With a crackled reply, the first truck started up and drove off, the woman, dressed in a rather revealing outfit, with long blonde hair that went past her shoulders, cursed after it before turning her attention to them.
"You no good," she started off, slurring her words in her drunkenness. She slammed back another mouthful of the hard liquor, only to cough half of it up onto the truck.
Jim sighed and clicked on the radio mike. "Hey guys, mind escorting that woman out of here and getting rid of the car? We're going to be behind schedule."
"Roger that. I'll go out," replied a voice. From out of the back of the truck exited a Wolf Brigade soldier, one of two assigned to each truck, who came around the front of the truck and took the drunk woman by the arm. As he dragged her into the alley and out of the way, she kicked and screamed, even managing to smash the bottle onto his head. It smashed on impact, and prompted a curse from the man, as well as a slap to the head.
Jim sighed and shook his head. "Looks like we're not the only ones to be on edge."
"You didn't hear?" asked Gene. "He was one of the two survivors from the front lines when they hit. Had their entire squad wiped out before they could set up a proper counter attack."
"No shit, really?" Jim looked at the alley where the two had gone into and whistled. "No wonder they don't feel like taking any flack."
With a struggle, the Wolf Brigade Soldier dragged the drunken woman kicking and screaming into the alley, where he disappeared from view. A few minutes later, his voice came over the radio, sounding about as dead tired as the driver felt. "I need some help with her, she's being a pest."
With a simple reply, the other soldier hopped out of the back of the armoured transport and walked into the alley, prompting a whistle from Gene. "Hey, they've gotta be wasted. Rules were that at least one guy stay with us always."
Jim waved it off. "Don't sweat it. It's just one woman, nothing much to worry about."
The moment the second guard came around the corner, his weapons were jerked from his gasp and a crushing grip was laid on his throat. He tried to signal the truck, to warn them of the danger, but could get nothing out. His vision blurred and then began to darken, his last images that of the drunk woman and an unknown man with his hand outstretched to him...
"See? Here they come now," said Jim, clicking open the channel. "Everything okay?" he asked.
The first guard nodded while the other padded back into the rear of the armoured transport. "Everything is fine." He then got into the wrecked car and backed it up into the alley.
"Okay... get on in and lets catch up. If we make good time, we shouldn't even need to report this," replied Jim.
"Roger. Over and Out."
Inside the back of the armoured transport truck, Korey winced as she pulled the facemask off, revealing the red mark where the soldier had hit her. Ray pulled his off, and came over to inspect it, concern on his face. It was tender to the touch, and very red, but otherwise okay.
"Cripes, do they always have to slap?" Korey whispered, wincing as Ray pulled the medical kit out of his newly acquired uniform and cracked an instant ice pack to life on his knee. He pressed it to her face and she held it there, giving a sigh of relief at the cool feeling.
"At least he did not use the butt of his gun," Ray pointed out. "Then our plans would not have gone off as well as we hoped." He cocked his head. "But was it really necessary to shot them both with the tranquilizer gun three times?"
Korey smirked. "Had to make sure. Map."
Ray got the laptop out and turned on, the map of the Jinsei encampment now glowing on the screen. "Here is where we found the prisoners." He pointed to two of the long barracks on the screen, bringing up pictures that they had taken earlier.
"Good. We'll do as they expect, unload these supplies," Korey said, patting a box of ammunition. "Then we'll make our way here, to this one, search them one by one until we find our Mr. Harris, then hop a transport back to Neo York."
"And should something go wrong?"
"Let us hope nothing does, but in that case, you shall have to teleport all three of us out."
"I have never teleported more then one person along with myself," said Ray, being careful to keep his voice down to a whisper. "And even then, the effects are disorienting. It could very well be damaging with you, I, and Mr. Harris."
Korey was silent for a moment as she thought on this. "Then we had best be careful," she finally said, brushing back her long white and blue hair. "Else we'll have a gun fight on our hands to boot."
As the armoured transport truck rolled into the Jinsei encampment, Korey carefully peeked out the back, taking in as much as she could. The armoured transport truck pulled up alongside its partner, and Korey and Ray were quick to get out and prepare it for unloading while the two drivers remained inside. As she had observed before, Wolf Brigade Troops walked about in groups of five, guns up and at the ready while Cyberdroids stood silent and tall beside the main command center and the small bunker set aside for the prisoners.
While other Jinsei employees approached to unload the transport truck, Korey waved Ray over. "There it is," she said over the suit's radio, attuned directly to Ray's. "We simply have to get there and get our guy out."
"Which will be difficult," Ray pointed out, keeping his voice low. "These men will soon be done, and we will have to go else blow our cover."
Korey's mind raced as she sought to think up of a plan, then her eyes alighted on one of the crates being carted out by two your Japanese men. <Oi! Is that the food for the prisoners?>
They stopped, and one looked down at the box to confirm its contents. <It is food packs, yes, but...>
<But nothing! Set that crate down, and we'll take it to the prisoners,> shouted Korey in a commanding voice that led no room for argument. The two men put the crate down and backed up, leaving it for Ray and Korey to pick up. <Now best finish unloading the truck, else you'd rather I comment on your laxness.>
That single comment, coming from the suit's speaker of a Wolf Brigade Soldier, sent the two men scurrying back to work amidst a number of acknowledgements. Through the goggles of the outfit, Ray arched an eyebrow at Korey, and knew he was being rewarded with a simple grin beneath the facemask she wore. Between the both of them, they carried the crate over to the bunker, stopping to salute their fellow Wolf Brigade members.
"I had no idea you even spoke Japanese," whispered Ray through the radio.
"A long time ago, yes. But I recently brushed up on it," Korey replied as they came around to the entrance of the prisoner's bunker.
The two Wolf Brigade members looked at them, rather suspiciously. <What's this?> one asked.
<Food, for the prisoners,> Korey replied, and instantly regretted it.
<A woman? Who the hell are- acckckk!> His voice choked off as Ray instantly applied his telekinetic grip to his throat and to that of his partner's, cutting off any cry for help they could have uttered.
Korey worked quickly, opening up the door and letting Ray walk them in as she quickly dragged in the cart after them. She slammed the door shut, and Ray slammed the two guards together violently, knocking them out as the shocked prisoners watched it all, some with a rather gleeful look on their faces.
"We'll only have a few minutes," Korey said. "They'll notice them not being at their posts. Blast, should have remembered: no women in the Wolf Brigade."
One prisoner, an older corporate executive if his expensive suit, dirty and rumpled, was any indication, stood up slowly. "Are you here to rescue me?" he asked.
Korey shook her head. "Sorry, not you." She quickly ripped the helmets off the two guards and tossed them away before pulling off all of their weaponry and throwing it to the doorway. Ray stood silent, his borrowed assault rifle keeping the Jinsei guests from getting any strange ideas. "Mr. Steve Harris! Please stand up!"
Steve, who had been sleeping up until the two guards had been knocked out, stood up. "Yes?"
There was a moment of silence while Korey quickly looked him over. "Looks as though they didn't hurt you too much. Care to go home?"
A huge grin spread over his face. "Yes! And about damned time! What took you so long?!"
"Had some problems catching a ride." Korey frowned at the helmets as loud Japanese squawked over the radios, most of it sounding angry and impatient. Already she could picture the running of the troops as they gathered en mass at the front of the bunker. They wouldn't dare try shooting through the door, else they might kill the prisoners inside. A sudden banging on the door proved her right, as even more angry Japanese filtered in over the radio and through the door.
"We have to move, now," whispered Ray in a calm voice.
"And move we shall... Ray, take the guard's weapons, give it to the prisoners," she instructed him.
Without hesitation, Ray floated up the pile of weaponry, which consisted of two large assault rifles and a few small handguns, and tossed it down the floor in-between the rows of beds. A couple of corporate executives approached them hesitantly, and picked them up as though they would explode. Others still remained huddled on their bed, as the banging and the shouting on the door grew louder, to the point that the door began to shake as the troops outside started to force their way in.
Working quickly, Korey waved Steve forward, and she opened the crate of food, and then emptied it. "You, in," she commanded. Wanting no more of the Jinsei accommodations, Steve all but jumped into the crate, and Korey slammed the lid down. All the while, Ray kept his rifle trained on the now armed prisoners, and erected an invisible barrier should anyone try anything.
"Ray?" Korey said over the direct radio link. "I want you to start screaming and yelling what I saw in Japanese, okay? And fire off a few shots from your gun before I open the door." She tugged the crate to one side, out of the doorway and just managed to suppress a grunt of strain. "If they hear my voice again, we're through."
"Understood," came his reply.
"Now!" shouted Korey as she kicked against the door. <They took out the guards! I need back up NOW!>
Ray fired off a round of bullets, screaming the Japanese into his mike set while Korey opened the door, letting in a horde of Wolf Brigade soldiers, all brandishing guns. The tension of it all, combined with the chance for freedom being taken from them, finally took it's toll on the few whom had taken up arms, and they let loose on their oppressors. The rounds from the captured weapons, having recently been upgraded to an armour piercing variety to handle the rather strong guerilla attacks of the past few days, punched through the first few troops, dropping them in their path.
Korey dropped down beside the crate while Ray skirted over, protected by his barrier, and continued to shout out the Japanese that she directed to him. The other soldiers, now wise to the fact that the prisoners were armed, took up cover just outside the door, on either side of it. Shouting at Ray, one motioned him forward while two others opened up with returned fire, driving the armed prisoners diving for cover under the beds with those whom had already taken refuge there.
He scrambled forward, and between him and Korey, quickly got themselves and the crate out of the way. Once outside, she stood up off the crate and held her side, as though injured while she acted as interpreter for her partner. More gunshots rang out, some bouncing off of the cyberdroids sitting guard alongside the bunker, and the Wolf Brigade replied with a volley of tear gas grenades. As the screams and shouts rang out, a commander came up to them.
<And what was that all about?! You delayed our getting inside!> he shouted.
Ray never faltered in his response. <I thought it best not to squander any supplies on those inside.>
The commander frowned, and was about to press the point when the prisoners, choking and coughing and crying on the tear gas, pushed out in a wild, clumsy fashion. Some tackled a few Wolf Brigade troops, taking them to the ground and generally causing even more of a mess.
Taking this moment, Korey and Ray started to walk away, Ray easily dragging the crate behind them, with Korey taking up the other side as they made their way back to the transport truck. By now, the entire encampment was in an uproar as troops rushed to put down the revolt. Everyone knew what the consequences would be if another attack on the encampment came while they were busy with the prisoners, and it wasn't too long before the commanders had almost the entirety of the Wolf Brigade troops rushing towards the bunker.
And while this was all going on, Ray and Korey nonchalantly approached the transport truck. The people on hand to unload the truck starred in amazement at the chaos that had seemingly sprung up from nowhere while Ray and Korey loaded up the crate into the back of the truck and got in.
"What the HELL is going on there!?" came Jim's voice.
"The prisoners took out the guards when we were bringing in the food," replied Ray. "The Wolf Brigade is currently putting them down."
"Ugh..." pretty much summed up what Jim thought of the situation.
"Come on, might as well head on back," said Gene. "If we get back soon enough, we might even catch a bit of a break."
"Sounds good to me."
The transport truck started up with a rumble and pulled out, taking the lead this time. After a short pause at the gate, the two armoured transport trucks rolled on along the bridge, and it was only then, with the Jinsei encampment well behind them, did Korey let loose a short sigh of relief.
Korey sat back, smiling at the information on the computer screen before her, and taped the ear mike. "Very good, the last half of the deposit has been made. A pleasure doing business with you."
Standing behind her, Ray fingered a hole along the knee section of the Wolf Brigade outfit and armour that Korey had borrowed, and arched an eyebrow. "That was a very close call," he commented before floating the outfit onto a reinforced steel rack. "Another inch to the left, and you would have suffered an injury to your knee."
Slipping the ear mike off, Korey agreed with a nod of her head. "Indeed, but it didn't. And on the plus side, not only were we well paid for a job well done, but we now have two completely intact Wolf Brigade uniforms, for use as either trophies or as a disguise."
Floating them up into the air, Ray began to take them downstairs. "Perhaps one for disguise and one as a trophy?" he suggested.
"Even better," said Korey, smiling.
As he proceeded downstairs, the phone rang, and Korey tapped her ear mike on. "Good evening, Korey Winters speaking." There were a few moments of silence as she spoke. "Intriguing... yes, I shall meet you... at the Neo York museum? But of course. See you then."
"Who was that?" asked Ray as he came back upstairs.
"Believe it or not, Spycorp. They say they have a job for me."
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