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01-26-23 10:50 PM
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Xeogaming Forums - Muses' Sanctuary - A Sequel To Private Number | |
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Roy Koopa
Holy crap, it is the RoboCoonie!

Since: 08-20-04
From: California

Since last post: 269 days
Last activity: 268 days
Posted on 08-01-10 03:30 AM Link | Quote
I don't have a title for it, it's still very rough, but I write while I'm sick because I'm too sick to draw.

Japanese minivans, in the true sense of the word "mini", are not suited for big American bodies curled into tight spaces with an ammonia-soaked toothbrush scrubbing away at what should have not been introduced into the trunk space in the first place. Actually, in retrospect, I should have used more plastic wrap than previously anticipated. The biological juices weren't retained as easily in transport as I had expected. But, I have to return to San Diego in two hours, and I'm sure my Comic Con carpool mates would notice the massive blood stain in the trunk space. Or not.

"Private Number" had called while we were headed down to San Diego Comic Con, somewhere between San Diego and Camp Pendleton, and I wasn't able to answer the phone.

"I'll get it," offered up Mike from directly behind me.

"No, let it go to voicemail." I was extremely clear to my handlers that I wouldn't be doing anything "job" related for this weekend. It was my weekend to geek out and I wasn't planning on engaging in anything that required non-geeky sides of me.

"No, really, I got it," Mike pulled the phone from my hands, just as it stopped ringing. Saved by voicemail. I don't exactly know how I would have explained the voice on the other side. Considering I had disposed of my primary contact sometime last month, I didn't really know who was going to be on the calling end of that phone call. "Guess it went to voicemail. 'Private Number'?"

"Everyone gets 'Private Number' calls, dude. Probably a collector."

Ha. Collector, of sorts. There were millions of Private Number calls going out daily, and several of those were harmless. But the few that could answer the code were already part of the secret society. Some handled the requests, some handled the fiduciary exchanges, some handled the dirty work. I handled the dirty work. Not by choice, but it happens when you start asking questions.

Shortly after checking into the hotel, I stepped out of the room to take the call I had ignored hours before. The voicemails piled on, but each repeated the same information. "This is the Howard Foundation. Return our phone call to Group 7." A search online would reveal that the Howard Foundation is a bill collector's firm, and a call would just transfer to their internal Group 7, which handled high stakes credit cards. I had none of these. But, to keep the ruse, I had these. It came with a price of bad credit, but I suffered through the inability to obtain student loans in exchange for a physical outlet very few could exercise.

I'm not claiming my actions to be legal. They're not, by any sense, but that doesn't stop them from occurring. I could have remained lost in the ether of delusions, but I delve too deeply into the histories of my credit report. There were entries that didn't make sense. I could have filed for corrections and moved on, but I decided to investigate the origins of inquiries I never remembered initiating. It brought me attention I hadn't anticipated. Attention that left me four voicemails since the initial call this morning. And had initiated another call while I was busy searching for the number to call back.

"This is my vacation. I had told...but...fine. I need new brakes. Take care of that."

"Lee!" Arthur yelled out from the hotel room. The nerd team was ready to return to the convention center, and needed their driver to get them there. "Let's go!"

We piled into the minivan, the same van that was vigorously being cleaned just 150 miles outside of San Diego from the perils of the duties of the "Private Number" organizations, and I dropped them off at the Convention Center. What should have been several hours of geeking out and cosplay ended up being spent otherwise. They spent their days indulging in the wonders of the human imagination, the mystery attached to the cosplaying of super heroes, and the loss of reality into a fictionalized existence that were the wet dreams of sweaty fanboys stuffed into an exhibit hall.

The Private Number organization had called once more while I sat at the gates to Camp Pendleton. The instructions and target were easy to find, but regretfully required the assistance of the US Marine Corps to expedite my motions between San Diego and the target's destination. In between the extensive search of the minivan by the Marines and calls from "Private Number" there was the fielding of the phone call from one of the Comic Con carpoolers.

"You sound like you're near the army or something," Mike yelled into his Palm, standing outside of the Convention Center somewhere, "we're headed to lunch and wanted to see if you wanted to come with?"

I moved about as far away as I could without being shot down by uppity Marines, watching as they searched through all of the compartments the minivan had, finding the Glock 19s stashed inside the spare wheel, "I'm kind of in an outdoor panel at the moment over at the Marriott, so I can't go to lunch right now. But, I'll catch you guys for dinner. Maybe. Gotta go." I walked back to the Marines, who had by now found all the weapons stashed in various places of the minivan. They had arranged all the weapons on a table before me, then proceeded to check my person finding only the cell phone and my car keys.

"Sir, can you explain why you are carrying so many weapons?"

"No, and I'd rather not. The fact being, I'm here on business above anything of which you hold a clearance, and I've been delayed sufficiently. I'd prefer that you repackage all of those weapons where they were found, and that I be released to my meeting point. Somewhere over there," I pointed to a hill beyond the main housing compound, where a helicopter had begun its descent.

My phone started ringing again. "I've hit a minor snag that's about to become four Marines in a hole if they don't repack my car."

"We'll take care of it," came the gruff voice from the other end. I couldn't really speculate on what comprised the Private Number organization, and I didn't really think about it much after I had become their dirty work person. It was a way out of the bad credit I had created on my own by supplementing it with monies gotten of ill intentions. The subjects of my novels and comics so vibrant in their emotions and situations that it evoked a sense of experience first-hand by the author. Furtunately, my life was so dull that I never had to justify the lucidity of my imagination. Or, lack thereof.

I found myself in my repacked minivan, sandwiched between an escort of Humvees, roaring down the dusty path to the waiting helicopter. Whatever "Private Number" had done, it shot a fuse under the asses of those Marines faster than I could ever accomplish on my own, failing that I had essentially wandered into Camp Pendleton dressed in a "My Fandom Powers the TARDIS" shirt with Comic Con swag bags in the second row. Never mind why I happened to be carrying two Glock 19s. That was secondary to the happenings.

I tossed my keys to one of the Marines, "I know we're going to traverse the dust on the way back, but can you wash the minivan?"

I received a surly yes sir. "I'm not kidding, boys. You do anything to that van outside of washing it, and I'll have your heads on a platter. I'll even take of the job personally. No charge." I turned to face the helicopter, which had started winding up again, "Better yet, park it back in the visitor's lot after you wash it. I'll take a Humvee escort when I return."

Another phone call came through before I turned off my phone. Arthur. "Hey, we're going drinking after con, join us?"

"I'll see if I can. I may be at a previous engagement somewhere in downtown."

There was a pause on his end, he was listening to the ambiant sounds on my end, "Is that a helicopter?"

"No, why would you think that was a helicopter? How would you even know that?" I attempted to muffle the sounds, walking away from the helicopter but found myself being urged back towards it.

"So it is a helicopter. Where are you being absconded to? What rich party boy did you find?"

"Gotta go," I figured I'd handle damage control later, and ran towards the helicopter. The 'copter pilot turned back to deliver a sinister smile I had seen before. Years before when I got roped into the whole Private Number gig, there was a helicopter pilot whom felt it his duty to scare me on my first ever helicopter flight. Each helicopter flight after that happened to feature the same pilot cycled in every four pilots. But, it was that sinister smile and Texas accent that shoot my being every time that head peered back from the cockpit.

"Well, hello Agent Carver. I hope you're ready for a bumpy ride." Carver. There was a reasoning behind why my UNIT officer cosplay was named Carver. In a way, it allowed me to develop the alias given, and it also allowed those part of the Private Number organization to identify me. I never worried about enemies recognizing me, because enemies never lasted beyond my assignments. New enemies I never knew, and despite my forward demeanor of being too trusting, I never really was. Everything and everyone was a suspicion, except for the few twenty or so that I deeply trusted with my life.

"Helicopter rides are not supposed to be bumpy, and after a decade of flying, I'm sure I can just shove you out the cabin and fly this whirly-bird myself."

"I'd like to see you try, Agent." It had been close to a decade since I embarked on the side job that initially offered an exhilerating thrill and stressful outlet, but had slowly grown into yet another job that I detested but performed because the powers-that-be were greater than anything I could neglect on my own. But, the pilot had been doing it longer than I've been on the planet, so my threats were always empty. All I could do was sit back into the five-point restraint and hold on for the ride.

I received another phone call just as the helicopter pushed off the platform and disappeared over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. "I had not intended on my vacation to Comic Con to become a five-day alibi to whatever little missions you decided I needed to take over in exchange for those that are obviously lesser to my abilities."

The gruff voice on the other end seemed less than amused, "We gave you your abilities. As such, we can take them away. You find yourself in a helicopter over the Pacific Ocean with the first pilot you ever encountered. No one else is with you. We have your minivan, and can stage the same accidents you've been trained to stage. We control your destiny. You can either perform as requested, or deny to do so, but your decision to continue living is ultimately yours."

"These actions of which you speak do not scare me. I only ask that I at least be allowed to enjoy Comic Con. My fate over my life is my own, and when I want out of the organization, I shall take it. Now is not the time." The helicopter dropped close to the ocean's surface and glided faster. A sinister giggling erupted from the cockpit.

"The organization is bigger than you, Agent. Perform your duties. We'll have you returned to your precious convention with entertainment time to spare." The phone clicked silent, and a devious pilot turned back to face me.

"I'm sorry, Agent. Orders are orders." He flicked a switch on the dashboard, unlocking my seat from its cabin restraints and dropping the whole assembly into the Pacific Ocean. "We kind of forgot you can't swim!"

Forgot, my ass. Luckily, I had learned to swim late last year when they conveniently forgot during another mission. Meanwhile, several miles back under the air conditioned ballrooms and halls of the San Diego Convention Center, one of the carpoolers was receiving a stream of nagging calls from a certain Private Number.

The man, not necessarily in any form of debt that would merit a call from a Private Number organization member, relinquished each call directly to his voicemail. The organization, used to being rejected, chose to move onto other members of the carpool. One by one, Arthur, Mike, AJ and Buncha got phone calls, each of which rejected the call to voicemail. The organization, tabled for the moment, broke off communications and returned to their agent in transit, floating on a jump seat in a five-point restraint in the cold of the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The call warbled in the surrounding water.

It was short and coded, much yelling came from my end, and the call went silent before I could express my distaste in being dropped into the ocean. But, just as I clicked out of the five-point restraint and pushed away from the slowly sinking jump seat, a speedboat closed in on my location. And I was suddenly hit with the realization that I was unarmed.

I was ensured a remote safety by diving beneath the surf, dissipating any bullets piercing the surface from reaching my body, but rather than drop below the surf I chose to continue floating upon the waves. Why would a speedboat even be out this far if not to meet me?

Glancing at my watch, I noticed that considerable hours had passed and the carpoolers would be calling upon me again to return them to our hotel. Safely upon the speedboat, but still drenched, I had received subsequent orders but remained diligent that I should return to San Diego. The speedboat pilots refused to turn back, and having no direct contact to my handlers, all I could do was await the phone call from one of the four possibly drunk nerds about transport back from the Convention Center.

I don't speak Russian. I would love to speak Russian, but I do not speak Russian. I speak French. I speak Spanish. I speak Klingon, but that doesn't help in this line of work. Well, sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't right now. Our path is swiftly moving across the Pacific Ocean towards waters of Russian tainting, to a land of which I'm not clearly dressed to walk about. Moving swiftly away from the sunny lands of Southern California, where a slightly sober Arthur is punching up his contacts list to bring about a phone call to me half a world away.

"Are you on the beach now?" How I longed for a noise-canceling Jawbone or other sort of headset, or why I was even taking phone calls during a job. There were many reasons as to why I never turned off my phone, and several of those reasons stood underneath the Hall C sign wondering where their carpool driver had gone.

"Yes, kind of. What's up?" I slid forward, somewhere between the motors and the Russian pilots and toed a bag of clothing marked for Agent Carver. The temperature rapidly dropped, and freezing wet clothing wasn't helping to stave off the onset of hypothermia.

"We're hitting up the local bars, can we depend on you for a ride back later tonight?" I wanted to join them, but why not just bring back a bottle of the best Russian vodka to make up for it? Despite the fact that I'm broke for this trip and wouldn't have the ability to acquire such delicacies. I'll figure out a story for that later.

"Sure, just call me up when you're ready. I'll be out, too, but available still." The reply was positive from the group of ex-frat boys and geeky nerds. I would rather be out with them, but after swapping out the wet clothing for the bundle of warmth and comfort of the Glock 19s, I felt closer to the duties that had forced their ways upon me a decade before. Why it required the entirety of my five-day vacation was beyond me.

There was a fact of training that I hated those many years ago. Fight training. I mean, I loved it to an extent, but it caused me to view other fighters in a different scrutinizing light where only lust had occupied before. I could read these men--and sometimes women--well before their intended blow was even delivered. It sucked the fun out of commercial fights. It kept me alive when I was away from home. Everyone had a tell and it was a side-effect of thousands of years of fight training. The chaining of muscle groups to throw punches, deliver kick and other attacks. Strike patterns emerged as dips of the hips, slight shifts of weight, and raises of the shoulders, pops from the arms and flicks of the wrists. Even the cage matches I loved, the ones linked to my boyfriend and several other friends, lost their magic once initial training was completed.

I had to maintain the ruse of a clumsy geeky nerd. I told no one. Not even the love of my life. No one could know about the double life led, and worst of all, I could never divulge to my boyfriend why it was that I could prevent him from pinning me down during our sparring sessions. I maintained that degree of subtle ineptitude around him, but I couldn't prevent muscle memory from stopping what had been so engrained into my being.

The thick accented English pierced through my ears, "Agent, this is as far as we go."

I turned expecting to find myself falling into the ice-cold water again, but found my pilots dropping off the edge of the boat and swimming away. I was left to pilot the boat into the nearby harbor on my own. While very capable to do so, I greatly distrusted my Russian pilots. But, I also hated being wet. And then, in the darkness and still of the waters, a small beeping caught my ear. Immediately followed by the familiar default ringing of my cell phone.

"Is there a reason you're on a speedboat when we schedule you to be on a helicopter?" I dove into the icy waters and paddled away before replying.

"Is there a reason our lovely psychotic pilot decided to deposit me into the ocean?"

"We're sure that was accidental. We do have your subsequent instructions, but we also fear that you've been discovered. We're terminating further communication, Agent. You've been a great service to the organization."

The speedboat exploded behind me while I continued my paddle towards the near harbor, "No, no, no. I am not being ditched in the Russian seas because your psycho of a helicopter pilot has decided to switch teams. And I have to be back in San Diego in one hour."

"Well, therein lies your problem, Agent." The anger would have chucked that phone into the cold waters, but being my only lifeline to any world instead retreated it to the belt loop of my saturated pants. Fortunately, the waterproof bag attached to my leg served up yet another change of clothing and my Glocks didn't succumb to the salt water I found myself within again. I should have shot those bastard speedboat pilots when I had the chance.

There was still the nagging thought of returning to San Diego, several thousand miles away, in less than an hour. Unless I was suddenly unreachable when that hour reached. And then another thought registered as I pulled my soaked and cold body onto the creaking wood of the pier: I had no further instructions on how I was expected to engage my target. And in the looming presence of the icy banks of nearby Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, I still sat several thousand miles from the intended destination of St. Petersburg. Had psycho pilot not dumped me in the ocean, I could have arrived outside of St. Petersburg and been done with it.

This was the fourteenth time I had been "left alone" on suspicion of discovery. The first four were my fault, but the subsequent ten weren't. I'll admit that the constantly scrambling Verizon world phone I had been given wasn't exactly the safest method of communication, but it was water-, shock-, freeze- and sand-proof--not resistant--so I didn't complain about it too much. Except that I couldn't get the Doctor Who ringtone for it. I'm a nerd, yes. Assassin of sorts, but still a nerd. How I wished the target was in England.

The target was in St. Petersburg, several thousand miles from my current location and I still had no method of transport. I also didn't speak Russian, and found myself in a village several thousand miles from the nearest American embassy or tourist destination. Not that I could explain to consul officials why I found myself in Russia when I had just checked into Comic Con some twelve hours earlier.

Deciding best not to wander into town, I brought up the compass application on my phone and headed due east hoping to find some sort of car. I would have preferred an airport, but I don't think that was possible. And for once since I set out for Comic Con, I placed my phone on silent.

Which meant that I missed the call from Mike and Arthur asking if I could take them back to their hotel. And the subsequent call from Buncha and AJ asking if I knew the name and address of the hotel. I was technically in their future. The time required to return was too great. Of the call backs, I managed only to get Buncha on the phone, "Hey, so I can't pick you guys up. I'm not in San Diego at the moment."

"Where are you?" He sounded sober. He probably was. I had backups in place for things like this. I couldn't leave them wherever they were, but I couldn't make it back in any sensible amount of time to play nerdy knight in shining minivan armor. But, my minivan was within 35 miles of them. Whereas I was already in the middle of the next day.

"With The Doctor. He absconded me in his little blue box and I'm now somewhere on the Eastern side of Russia working my way to St. Petersburg. Where're you guys?" I stumbled on the outskirts of their township, finding horse-drawn carts and other man- and animal-powered vehicles. There were townspeople about, but no one seemed to notice the English-speaking man padded up in the ballooned coat walking amongst them. At least, I hoped no one really noticed. The sun was in odd placement in the sky, but I guess this far up on the hemisphere did that.

"Ha, funny, Lee. Can you pick us up or should we get a cab? We're walking towards Petco Park." Good, I can do that. Well, not physically. I noticed I was walking further into town than I wanted, and deviated into a path that took me back south towards the ocean. I felt safer near the water for some reason.

"Excellent, keep heading there. I'll have an associate of mine pick you up in my car. He'll take care of you. Don't worry about it, he's a Marine. I'll see you guys tomorrow."

I hung up and quickly scrolled through the many numbers in my recent calls, not finding anything I could remotely use. I couldn't just call up Camp Pendleton and ask that they dispatch their sexiest Marine to my minivan to pick up my friends from Petco Park. I had to use the proper channels of bribery and deceit. But I never had a direct line to any of my handlers. And they had disconnected communications two hours prior due to ill reasons of paranoia. I kind of learned to forget about being stranded in other countries after a while.

It was a frequent occurrence.

At the end of my contacts list I found something that was remotely helpful. "Zamberg & Associates, extension please?"

"Zero-zero-three-six, please."

"I'm sorry sir, but our extensions don't start with double zeros."

"Yes, they do, hun. Hit the transfer button, key in the extension, and voila." I hate being an ass, but these are floating extensions. They serve limited purposes and don't actually transfer to anyone within the company. They always hit someone in the organization, and the extension follows a complex algorithm that requires me using an application on my phone before I establish a call to somewhere. Zamberg merely happened to have offices in San Diego.

"Agent, how good of you to make contact."

"MAKE CONTACT!? You broke it off with me!" I realized I was actually yelling and had drawn attention from local authorities. It was best to start walking a bit faster and lose these authorities. "I need a very quick favor involving the Marines and my minivan, and then maybe some help off this icy mountain?"

"I'll give you a direct line to Camp Pendleton to dispatch, and we'll get you a helicopter, but you'll have to get yourself to Elizovo in the Province of Kamchatka. Just to the southeast is an airfield. You'll have to steal a helicopter, but that's closest we can get you."

I sigh and disappear down an alley, almost in a power walk, but looking for a faster mode of transit, "That wasn't really providing anything. I could have easily picked up some on Google maps."

"Why didn't you, then?"

"The stupid phone you gave me doesn't support internet, that's why. Text me the phone number and I'll call when I reach Elizovo." It was far easier to jog and found that several of the broken down cars around me were unlocked. Behind another turn of an alley rested something I never thought I would lay eyes upon, and didn't think it would even start: a Lada Niva. However, it seemed rugged enough to traverse the twenty-five miles of rugged terrain between Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Elizovo.

The Niva I chose already had a screwdriver in the ignition, and after a little coaxing started up just as the uniformed officers rounded the corner. I dialed up the number texted to me earlier and pointed the Niva in the general direction of the airfield. After a bit of arguing, I managed to dispatch their sexiest Marine--of which I had no visual definition for confirmation--to take my minivan and pick up my wayward crew at Petco Park and return them to the hotel.

"How will my Private identify them, Sir?"

"Facebook them. I gotta go." It occurred to me en route to the airfield that perhaps acquiring entrance to the field wasn't going to be as easy as just walking up to the gate and asking to be let in, and they probably didn't get too many tourists either. I didn't really feel like scaling a fence, but I certainly wasn't above killing a guard or two.

The Niva slid violently off the road, almost overturning under its girth, and came to rest in a small clearing a few feet from the road. It wasn't surprising, experiencing a blown out tire, but the circumstances behind the blow out didn't come as new territory. It had only been tens of minutes, but the local authorities had managed to catch up to me, and a simple "Pull over" wasn't in their abilities.

The target wasn't even that big. I didn't need to experience all this trouble when I could be huddled up in my hotel room with the guys talking about who did what during the day and who got the drunkest. I could have been collecting random free swag, schmoozing with industry professionals, getting free lemonade at the industry lounge and cosplaying a soldier rather than facing down two of them from behind the frail safety of a fallen Niva. But, I had to ask questions ten years ago. I couldn't leave well enough alone.

Damn inquisitive nature.

I pulled the Glocks from their holsters and lined up my shots, not wanting to kill the soldiers, but they had every intention to shoot first and ask questions later. Their shots rained upon the Niva, denting the doors and puncturing the gas tank. The errant bullets sailed past my legs, released the air trapped within the tires and destroyed any semblance of glass left around the vehicle. They gave me little choice, and my aim wasn't the best under fire--particularly with the smaller Glock 19s in my possession. I'd like to say that I closed my eyes and fired, but that wasn't the way I was trained.

I hate boot camp. I just want to make that extremely clear and certain. I detest everything associated to boot camp. I hold major discontent for my trainers and drill sargeants, and I was never a morning person let alone a 4:30 AM morning person. The drills were painful, the sleep was little, and one was required to push through the pain. And it was worse since I wasn't enduring this in a US military setting. They might have shown a shred of mercy. I would have been ridiculed by my company, hazed even, but they would have pulled me through it.

Not so with Private Number. You completed on your own or you washed out. And washing out was equivalent to disappearing. I'd become a statistic. I had no real option. But the intensity was preparation for moments like these, and those few times where mortal anxiety would hit any other geek in the crowds of the exhibit hall, I was trained until my palms and feet and elbows and knees bled rivers of crimson to remain stoic, or weird or happy as the situation dictated. In this situation, however, I only required the cold steel intensity to take down two soldiers.

They were cogs in the military. Devoid of families, souls, likes or dislikes. Machines. They didn't care if I had a family or what my purpose in their country was. Their intent was to kill me for stealing a vehicle and for speaking American English in their small township. They'd report it back and receive a commendation, perhaps. A small medal upon their uniforms to flaunt to others in their outfit. The Niva would have been a sacrificial alter for the capturing of an American spy. An informant. It was easier to kill machines.

The world fell quiet, but not immediately. The unconscious bodies continued to clutch the triggers, firing into the skies as their bodies fell over. The four shells from my guns clanged around me, their muzzles smoking slightly and still warm to the touch in the frigid wind. I was disappointed that it took four shots, but I didn't realized they were armored. I underestimated the drive of the local authorities.

Miraculously, the Niva still turned over, but the rest of the gas tank held its contents as well as a sieve and the remaining single inflated tire wouldn't hold to carry the weight of the vehicle the remaining ten miles. There weren't any supplies in the Niva to salvage that weren't shot up, and being daylight, I set forth on the remaining distance. I moved the bodies off of the road and took one of their rifles and two sets of their ammunition magazines. My sensitive side felt horrible just leaving their bodies there, but the soldier forced upon me wanted to shoot them each again to make sure they weren't playing dead.

The soldier side won.

I'll post more as I create it. This one probably won't become anything, since I don't know if I'll create anything with the Private Number storyline outside of the already existing work.

All content © 2010 Lee Almodovar | Recycled Sushi

(Last edited by Stitch on 08-01-10 03:31 AM)

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable

Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 114 days
Last activity: 114 days
Posted on 08-05-10 07:16 PM Link | Quote
I must say that I rather like this incarnation and really hope that you don't let it fall to the wayside. It is very compelling and I want to know what happens next.

Roy Koopa
Holy crap, it is the RoboCoonie!

Since: 08-20-04
From: California

Since last post: 269 days
Last activity: 268 days
Posted on 08-06-10 05:53 AM Link | Quote
It's been in an open window for the past week. Next installment:

In the dead of the forest surrounding the only direct road to the military compound lining the airfield outside of Elizovo sat uneasy and restless legions of soldiers, trained by the motherland to fight a nonexistent war against a failing super power. For the first time since pulling myself out of the icy waters, I placed a final check-in call to the Orion Collection Company, extension 77254, and informed them of my approximate position before shutting down my lifeline.

I still love hearing it, though. "Our extensions don't have five numbers." Yes, they do. Do the transfer.

I don't know why it took me ten years to realize that Private Number handled the automatic switching of the X.25 telephone network, and all the other world exchanges. How else could they handle the arbitrary changing and updating of the algorithm-based extension numbers, let alone securing calling me from a different private number each time a call came through to my phone. A number, that when deciphered in a phone bill, turned out to be unregistered. Or even more strangely, never registered.

On a whim, and mostly because I hated being alone, I turned on my cell phone. In a few moments, it picked up the roaming satellites and flashed me voicemail from the San Diego nerdmobile. The afternoon was progressing moving into nightfall, where the dead of night had progressed into early morning. Arthur had called to find out where I had found a Don't Ask, Don't Tell Marine to serve as evening and morning escort. The decision to return the voicemail fell on completion of securing a helicopter. I couldn't face anyone possibly hearing me within the five-mile radius of the complex.

I was more expectant of a phone call from Private Number, but they were insistent on me securing a helicopter from a remote military facility. From what could be observed in treetops, I found the nearest helicopter to be reached one of two ways: over a fence, past the guards bunker, past weapons bunkers, four hundred feet in open terrain to the helicopter; or, around the fence, over the fence, past two fighter jets and three hundred feet in open terrain to another helicopter. I chose the less "open" route.

This whole situation was my fault for not taking out that psychotic pilot the other times I encountered him. It was distrust, but more of a definite loathing fueled by the machinations of instilled hatred. And I'm very annoyed that he's allowed to fly. Who dumps their fellow agent in the ocean to be scooped up by the enemy?

I'll tell you who, the same psycho that's hovering over me while I'm trying to jump a fence silently. "Need a lift, Agent?"

He's raised their attention already, there's a scramble for weapons and aircraft and a rope ladder near my head. I'd hate to hitch a ride with this man, but he's already raised enough of a ruckus that I can't handle anything without help. I wouldn't be able to spin up the pilfered helicopter in time to take off before being turned into swiss cheese, both myself and the helicopter. Or worse, just obliterated. Relunctantly, I reached off the fence and clutched the ladder.

Safely in the helicopter, I confronted the pilot. "What the fuck was that back there? Did you think dropping me into the ocean was funny? What's to stop me from just dropping you right now?"

"You were going soft, kid. Becoming too dependent on us to help you out. You made it 30 miles from the drop zone, with enemy encounters and all the way to a military facility," he reached over and punched my shoulder. It stung. I wasn't going to be able to take him down even if I wanted, "You've got drive, kid. And we've seen your work. It's very good, but your training isn't complete. You're stubborn and emotional, even though you don't think you are. Lucky you learned to swim, eh?"

Pfft. Lucky I learned to swim, right. We climbed straight up and shot over the steep curvature of the Earth, cutting that distance between Elizovo and St. Petersburg.

Divine Mamkute
Dark Elf Goddess
Chaos Imp
Penguins Fan

Ms. Invisable

Since: 08-15-04
From: Ferelden

Since last post: 114 days
Last activity: 114 days
Posted on 08-07-10 08:32 AM Link | Quote
The chopper pilot is a dick... but does this mean he isn't a traitor?

Roy Koopa
Holy crap, it is the RoboCoonie!

Since: 08-20-04
From: California

Since last post: 269 days
Last activity: 268 days
Posted on 08-08-10 06:17 AM Link | Quote
Pretty much, he's just a dick. Anyway, still working on it since I'm still technically sick even though I am working...

We were quiet on the ride, sounds of the rotors humming overhead. At some point he turned to me and extended a hand towards the dashboard. His hand was met with the cold steel of the Glock, "I know this seat doesn't disconnect, and I know that switch kills the rotors. Whatever training you think I need, now is not the time."

"Shoot me, then." He flicked the switch and killed the rotors. The helicopter began a fast descent and restarting the rotors wouldn't have done anything to cushion the fall. The last glimpse I had of him was his throwing a parachute at me and dropping away from sight out of the cockpit. I scrambled the chute on, and pushed out into the rushing air, violently wrenched upward as the canopy extended beyond the future wreck of the helicopter. In the distance above me, the pilot floated in a direction away from me, but his gun pointed down at my chute. "Best not land near the wreckage," he yelled very muffled in the windy descent, "and don't follow me, or I'll puncture that chute of yours."

We were still quite a ways up. I watched the helicopter drop to the earth, exploding in a small ball of fire and dust as it clambered through a forest below. The helicopter touched down in a forest just north of Chalna, in the Repulic of Karelia of Russia. I lost sight of the pilot in the clouds, and found myself descending upon the northern outskirts of Petrozavodsk. Nothing compared to the first town where I had pulled myself out of the waters, this was a bustling city in the eastern portion of Russia, stretching along Lake Onega and just under 200 miles from my intended destination.

I contemplated catching an up-draft and riding that chute as far as I could get it to go, but nature failed in providing me sufficient up-drafts and actually accelerated my descent towards Petrozavodsk. I'd only been in Russia once before about half a decade prior, and it was on legitimate business. I found out then what I knew now, it was impossible for an American to blend in, particularly if that American wasn't of a white ethnic background. Although, my legitimate business only placed me in the Moscow offices at the time, but it was enough of a culture shock to instill a sense of knowing in future ventures.

But, in a way often seen in commercialized cities, I missed Moscow. There was beauty in St. Petersburg as well, but all of these little towns and cities scattered through the Russian countryside defiled the notion of imagined nostalgia I had for the country. Imagined because I knew it wasn't a manifestation of my own memories, but of that drilled into my memories by the training a decade ago.

Publicly, the Cold War had stopped over three decades before, and the semblance of an American super power had managed to keep its citizens believing their country was still number one. But, the war raged and intensified in silence and deceit. What had been prior handled by soldiers and satellites and informants had relegated to the larger private industries. Private Number provided the network of dirty work handlers for thousands of contacts the world over, and Russia wasn't one of those worthy clients.

They refused to acknowledge Private Number as a threat, merely seeing it as an annoying wasp hovering around the under hang of a roof, seeking to make a nest before being washed away by the garden hose of espionage. But, the foot soldiers of Private Number were a different breed of assassins. They hailed from all walks of life, and trained until they lost the adoration of humanity, hardened into tools of the trade. Devoid of emotion. Most of them.

But, I lacked the ability to be devoid of emotion. I found myself complaining through several assignments. I could be cold, uncaring and deceitful, but I always felt bothered by having to do anything outside of my normal lifestyle. But, I was an assassin for hire, and the targets were increasingly difficult to corner into dark allies. This one, in particular, was no different. A diplomat, steeped too deeply in the corrupt scandals he created, started cheating his own employers. Skimming a bit of the luxuries for himself, thinking he was being slick, attending those parties.

I specialized in making things seem like accidents. But, this job required me to perform my duties out in the open of a luxurious gala event. I hadn't begun to decide how the task was to be completed, or how I expected to walk out of that heavily guarded event without being shot myself. Somewhere in the next 200 miles, I had to acquire body armor and a tuxedo. Somewhere in the next 200 miles, I wanted to acquire a sniper rifle, but I wouldn't be paid if I didn't carry out the task to the specifications given.

I touched down in a thick forest just outside of Petrozavodsk, suspended a couple of feet over the forest floor. The Comic Con carpoolers decided to call, "Mike! What's up, other than me?"

"What? Where are you?"

"Russia. In a forest right now, a few miles north of Petrozavodsk. I've been hired by a private organization to kill a diplomat in St. Petersburg, but it's still 200 miles away and I don't know how I'm gonna get there." I was once told that when the perfect cover of ineptitude is created, the best way to conceal one's practices was to do it in truth.

"Okay, we're just checking in to see if you were gonna be available to pick us up, or should we wait on the Marine again?"

I swung out and grasped onto a tree limb, cutting the parachute lines and attempting my descent to the forest floor, "Yes, expect the Marine. I know he's got my minivan, but I'm really not anywhere near San Diego at the moment."

"Are you in trouble?"

"No. But, I will be back in time for the cosplay meet-up tomorrow. 1PM in the Sails Pavilion, right?" I hated climbing trees, but it was a required task favored over the simple drop to the forest floor. I couldn't afford to have a sprained or broken ankle. The Glocks clinked in my pockets, like ice in a drinking glass, as the rustling continued while I made my way down the giant trees. I should have grabbed a bit of the parachute line before I started the descent. "I should have..." always seemed to be sitting in the back of my mind. I wasn't cut out for this work, but I couldn't escape from it either.

"Yeah, dude. You're out drinking, aren't you?" The clinking, it sounded like ice, right.

"Yeah. See you tomorrow?" The reply was positive with a hint of concern. But, in the 200,000 attendees of Comic Con, it's easy to be lost in the filter of the crowd. It was possible to go the entire five days without seeing your friends. I had only managed to do this for the first two days, and relinquishing my minivan to a US Marine for transit between the convention center and my buddies' hotel.

The helicopter crash had served as a big enough distraction to allow movement into the city. Once beyond city limits, I blended quickly into the crowd. Evening had fallen, and it had been hours since I last slept. Devoid of cash but full of plastic, I found my options being anywhere on the street, somewhere in the forest, or taking my chances in a hostel.

I was taken aback by the beauty of the city, quaint and reminiscent of the early Stalin era, but still possessing a very Soviet feel. The tree-lined streets almost hearkened back to the America I knew, and even possessed the cold-shouldered citizens likened to that of Los Angeles or New York. But, I could smell the lake. Sweet smelling as it was, but I couldn't be distracted. I wasn't on vacation, I had an objective that still needed to be met. The gala event was occurring within the next few hours, and I still had to find a tuxedo, body armor, a car and a shower.

On a block near the center of town, I found a hostel. After a bit of broken Russian, I managed to secure a few minutes in the shared bathroom so I could at least wash away the stench of the last several hours. Once cleaned off, I dropped some American dollars I found wadded up in one of my pockets on the hostel management and disappeared back into town. In a quiet alley, I found a fine specimen of a driving machine, a mid-90s BMW 325 colored in sleek midnight black. Oh, to find it with keys in the ignition, no such luck. But, after a bit of work from the lock-pick kit I always carried on my person, I found myself inside the car. A bit of wire work underneath the dash brought the vehicle to life, and I found myself quickly zipping down alleyways and streets headed for St. Petersburg. My phone's GPS gave me an estimated arrival time of three hours, so I made haste to the nearest shopping center in hopes of finding a ready-made tuxedo I could just buy. After dropping into a currency exchange outlet and swapping out several hundred dollars for several thousand rubles, I took the suggestion of the exchange clerk and dropped in on a local tailor.

With a tuxedo pressed and folded in the backseat, I merely lacked the body armor. I wanted to draw no further attention to myself, and fearing that any more time spent in the city would increase my chances of being caught in a stolen vehicle, I set out for St. Petersburg, ensuring to take any and all bypasses of document checkpoints along the way.

(Last edited by Stitch on 08-08-10 06:31 AM)
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