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Ryan Garan (pt.2b)
We followed the air duct straight into a huge gym. There weren’t any hoops or stands or anything but there were big crates all over the place and a large pillar in the middle. I saw Steve messing with something over near a crate, so I went and asked him what it was. I thought it was like a remote for the room or something but…
“Holy &#^@ why do you have a gun?!”
“Didn’t you hear Sarah? You need to learn how to use one of these things, especially if you want to fight tonight.”
“Yeah but aren’t we gonna use like paintballs or something?”
“Psh, as if! You’ll wish they were when we’re out there.” –John
“We use paintballs when we want a new color in our rooms. This is as real as can be. Why do you think everyone’s not so psyched about war?” –Steve
“I dunno! I just got here remember?”
“Ryan we use guns out in war, just like we would in the field.” –Steve
“Oh come on! There’s gotta be something different about it! We can’t just kill each other!”
“Well the guns are all exact but the bullets….” –Steve
“Let’s just say that if you get hit you die.” –John
“WHAT THE %&$# IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!”
“Hold on! I’m not done. You get shot, you die… for a few seconds.” –John
“Ya get zapped, dumb@$$.” –John
“When the bullets hit you they split and the electric charge that’s on the inside of each bullet shocks you. As if you’ve been shot. Same amount of pain, but you’re reanimated in a couple seconds. Get it?” –Steve
“So pretty much to get you able to resist it as much as you can, we have to shoot you at point blank over and over. Sound like fun? ‘Cause it is for us!” –John
“Fine, yeah, let’s do it I wanna get started right away.”
“Didn’t see that coming; are you sure?” -John
“Yeah, hit me up, how hard can it be?”
“Pretty hard, man. Even I think you might wanna slow down a little. Take some steps to get there.” –John
“Well what did you guys bring me up here for?”
“To train, but Ryan this is a whole new level, you don’t even have the basics.” -Steve
“I don’t need the basics. John a few hours ago…”
“Days, you were out for days.” Steve piped up from his tinkering.
“Alright then a few days before… days?!” I stared blankly at Steve, he looked up and nodded. “Um, wow, well a few days ago I watched myself kill a guy I didn’t even know. And I mean watched myself. I did it from instinct. I’m past the basics.”
“Alright let’s get started then. Go stand against that wall there. We’re going to shoot you until each body part is resistant to the shock.” –Steve
“Ok… bring it.”
In a German accent: “Thees is going to steeng a leetle.” – John
For 1 and a half hours they repetitively shot me in the legs, arms, head, and chest to make me more durable to pain. Then they ran me through drills on covering and switching cover. I learned this by hiding behind one crate and John shooting a turret at me. The object was for me to switch crates enough times to get to him and disable the turret without being shot. He was yelling the whole time.
“YEAH!!! Eat it!!!” Ha, nutcase.
Later the guys brought out the “Big Kahuna” of drills, they called it Pursuit. A giant 3D maze was raised from beneath the floor and with it rose a rock climbing cylinder in the center. They handed me a pistol, pulled a switch, and John kicked me in the leg… hard.
“WHAT THE *$%#?!”
“This is the drill, Ryan! You have to make it to the top of the tower to disable the drill! Meanwhile these walls and the tower are equipped with motion sensors that are designed to kill you.” –Steve
“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDIN ME!”
“They will kill you, Ryan, if you don’t use every instinct you have.” –Steve
“Instinct 1: get your @$$ in gear.” –John
I was shoved into the maze and the wall slid to cover the entrance. I wanted to take my time and assess what to do, but spikes immediately sprouted from the entrance wall and moved pretty fast at me. I just barely dodged it, rolling to the side. As soon as my feet hit the ground I was up and sprinting as best I could on an injured leg (it just so happened that the same leg just kicked by John was the same from the car wreck). Practically crying through the pain I made my way through the deathtrap maze. Around every corner something would shoot at me and at the top of each ladder something with a blade would swing way too close to my hands and head. Thankfully I didn’t meet any other spikes until the climbing wall but I was able to use them to my advantage. Making it to the top, I hit the stop button appropriately marked as: “STOP THIS CRAZY $#!& HOUSE!!!”.
Back on the ground I was clapped on the back.
“Wow, that was the best time a newbie has ever had!” –Steve
“Dude that was hilarious.” –John. We both stared blankly at him.
“Yeah man you should’ve seen yourself you were like getting zapped and everything! It was like watching a rat in a maze!”
“I’ll have to get it on DVD or something.” –Me
“I like this kid!” –John
Steve pulled John aside and started asking him something so I took a closer look at the guns. They looked exactly real in fact I think they were except for the bullets. They had everything, M4’s, FAL’s, AK-47’s, the works…
“Ryan we think you should learn a little trick we White Ops. all know.” –John
“We all have our individual abilities but there’s one thing that we all can do somehow.” –Steve
“Yeah, okay, what is it?”
“We can send each other messages with our thoughts.” –John
“You’re so hilarious I can’t stand it.” I said very dryly.
“Well I don’t agree with his choice of words but John’s right, Ryan.” –Steve
“Like telepathetic people!” –John
“You mean telepathic people that don’t exist.” –Me
“Ryan we don’t know how we can do it but we just can. There’s something about special that people that links us together.” –Steve
“So suppose I believed you. What happens next? You send me a message in my mind? How do I read it, should I put in my password? Ha-ha, ‘You got mail!’” –Me
“This is starting to get annoying, kid.” –John
“Not to mention disrespectful.” -Steve
“Well what am I supposed to say? You’re telling me you’re all a bunch of psychics. I got past the ‘super powers’ part but this is ridiculous!” –Me
“Did he just call them super powers?” –John
“I think he did.” –Steve
John starred at me, I thought he was just really angry at first but then something happened. I blinked as I normally would but this time I noticed that there was something in the black. I squeezed my eyes shut and saw there was white writing on the inside of my eyes.
“WHOA! What is this?!” –Me
“We call it Oculus Stilus, or OS for short.” –Steve
“That’s insane!” –Me
“Well get used to it, it’ll be flying at you from every direction on the battlefield tonight.” –John
“Speaking of which we gotta’ suit up.” –Steve
“God I love that phrase!” –John
By this time it was only about a half hour until we shuttled off. At least that’s what Steve said, that we suit up and jump in a helicopter where we are taken to a location and the other team’s taken a half mile from us. Now we were in a room adjacent to where the helicopters were, filled to the brim with guns, armor, and ammo. Our team consisted of John, Rick, Sam, and I. The other was Sarah, Chuck, Katie, and Steve. The other team went into a different room to fill up on ammo and such. John grabbed a sniper and a rocket launcher, Rick two shotguns and an automatic pistol, Sam a handgun and a dagger (so she’s the sneaky type eh?), and me an assault rifle and a sub machine gun.
"So do we have a plan of attack?" -Rick
John stepped up and got everyone's attention, "Here's how it's gonna go down: the name of the game is stealth. We don't know our map but we can still make a flank I think. To start let's keep it straight and tight, you three go down the middle and watch every time on the d@$& clock, I want 360 view for you guys. As soon as you see someone I want one of you to tail them down and follow them, we don't want a $#&@ fight breaking out. That'll leave one left, unless Sarah and Chuck stick together, in which case we'll work with it. Sam I want you taking out your man and reading them for the other team's plan, Rick you can get in your's gun, make it shock them enough to put them out a little longer, get into their com too. Ryan," he paused, thinking, "just trail your guy and report to me. I'm gonna camp out and snipe, I can give make sure they don't see you, Ryan, just don't step on anything, you may be invisible but you're still there." he pulled out some equipment, "Sam?"
"Sonar goggles." -Sam
"Emp grenades por favor!" -Rick
"Extra mags for myself, and Ryan... I have something special for you. Come with me." He led me over to the closet where we had picked out our armor. When he opened it up he reached for something on the hanger, but it was covered so I couldn't see what it was. Unzipping it, I took a look.
"What is it?" it looked just like some jackets I'd seen in clothing catalogs before, a long sleeve pull over with a turtle neck and a zipper to a quarter ways down the chest. It was gray and black and the material felt really nice. I put it on as John answered my question.
"That is a cloth jacket from Banana Republic." -John
"Then what is it?"
"That jacket is especially designed for the field. The outside cloth is just an appearance, it's much stronger than it looks. Each fiber in it is reinforced with a pure titanium alloy. Under that is a wiring of steel forming a chain mail-like layer. Finally it's padded on the bottom with more actual cloth. It is impossible to break or rip, bullet proof, acid proof, fire proof, and maintains a moderate temperature."
"How does this NOT way a ton?!"
"The layers are all there but the metal was reduced to thin amounts so you wouldn't end up wearing a winter coat." there was a pause while I admired it on myself, "It used to belong to one of our team, who was caught and killed trying to find you. His name was Harry."
"I'm sorry..... Thank you for the jacket, though." I started to walk away and then, "What was Harry's ability?"
"He could set up an electronic live feed from any of his body parts, with some sort of machine, a gun, or a camera."
"Cool. Thanks for the jacket again."
"Dont mention it. Oh and one more thing, Ryan."
"That jacket is unique to its wearer; it will cope with whatever your ability is, instead of rejecting it. It amplified Harry's feed, it will help you too."
"Sweet." Huh, I never thought John could be the responsible type. I might actually enjoy having him as a mentor.
After picking out our load we boarded the helicopter and Rick went up front. I watched him cut a wire beneath the controls and when he touched it the helicopter sort of sucked him up into it. John went and sat in the cockpit but Sam and I stayed in the back. I looked at her and we met eyes for a second before she looked away. Her face was red.
"Hey there." -Me
"Oh hey. You sure you're ready for this, newbie?" -Sam
"Ok that is NOT a nickname I want to get used to."
"Ha-ha." there was some silence while I tried to figure out what to say, but I didn't need to, "Oh my god what happened to your leg?!?"
I counted up the answers to that before answering, "It got crushed in a car, shot by John and Steve, kicked by John," I gave an evil glare to John in the cockpit; he gave a cheesy smile in reply, "and I've been walking on it this whole time. I think it's still bleeding some."
She looked up and around the helicopter, "Rick where's the first aid?"
A voice resounded from everywhere, "To your right."
Sam looked over and saw it, grabbing it off the wall, "Let's wrap that, pull up your pant leg."
I did as I was told, don't want to disrespect the pretty lady. She patched up my leg and it felt good as new. Sadly, she was wearing gloves so our skin never made contact. Looks like I'd just have to wait a little longer. Never the less I was feeling good about myself. I also took a nap.
When we jumped off, we landed in a snowy forest and started running immediately. We stuck to the plan, John sniped from way in back and the rest of us moved up in a circle, watching everything at once. When he saw something, Rick came up to me with a cell phone. He was going to go inside it and have me chuck it, crazy nut. He landed right behind his target which happened to be Katie. Sam and I saw him get out of the phone, give us a thumbs up and followed Katie. Later John said over the com that Steve was coming up. Without more than a thank you to John and a wink to me she slipped away behind him. I was worried his ability would help him find her but figured she could handle herself. Then I was all alone, lonely and paranoid at everything I heard. So on and so forth for at least half an hour. Finally I heard from John,
"On your left on your left!" He said in a very urgent whisper.
I ducked and moved behind some cover. Peeking over the log I was behind my heart sank.
"$@&#%*+! It's Sarah AND Charlie. Don't suppose you can keep them from seeing me?"
"My ability doesn't work like that, sorry. I can only hide you from one at a time."
"Should I still follow them?"
"Go ahead but be warned, those are the best two Ops we have."
I peeked up again to check on them and couldn't see where they had gone, "Yeah I can tell, I just lost them."
"Chuck's ability is easy to avoid if you don't get caught, but Sarah's more crafty. Remember she can turn back time a few seconds so be ready to make any choice twice. Don't forget about using OS to message the team, we have to keep the channel clear, over and out."
And that was that. I was on my own again, but now I was following two VERY experienced super soldiers. I kept a good distance behind them and hid every time they stopped. They were talking the whole time and I couldn't hear them but every now and then there were some "get a room" moments. I had forgotten they were dating.
Blah-blah-blah and la-di-da for what seemed like forever. Just crouching, hiding, and following. Wash, rinse, repeat. Finally I saw Katie walking towards Sarah and Charlie, but no Rick. To avoid being seen I jumped up in a tree real quick.
"Have you guys seen anything?" -Katie
"Nothing. Not even Steve, why aren't YOU with him?" -Charlie
"Because you two went off together and we need to cover more ground." -Katie
"Probably. I'll OS Steve, we can meet right here. So what do you think of the new guy?" Sarah said and closed her eyes to message Steve.
"Ryan? He's got potential to be a really good White Op I think." Charlie said and Katie and Sarah nodded in agreement.
Awww I was getting all warm and fuzzy inside.
"No I mean like how much trouble Harry had to go through to find him. We’re not even sure he has an ability, and Harry died looking for this kid, like he’s some kind of hero. I think he’s gonna turn out to be a pain in the @$$.” –Sarah
Fuzzy feeling crushed.
“Ryan! Ryan come in!” John’s voice came in a harsh whisper over the com.
“Yeah, I’m here.” –Me
“You need to check your OS messages more often they’re flying in by the dozen!”
“Oh $#*%! Sorry…”
I shut my eyes and read the string of messages across the darkness. Have you ever squeezed your eyes real tight and pressed your fists up against them? Well if you have you know that in the darkness there are all these colors, like a whacked out kaleidoscope that’s 3D. That’s kind of what all the OS messages looked like. It wasn’t like a chat online where the text just slides up. Instead each person had their own color of text. After appearing the message would stick around for a little and then start to disappear, little by little. The first message I saw was in blue.
Where the hell is Ryan?!
Just give him some time, Rick.
I talked to him, he’s here now. Introduce yourself everyone.
Sam in the purple!
That’s totally pink.
Is not! Pink’s for girly girls!
You are a girly girl!
Yeah it kinda is.
Well I think it’s purple!
Have fun being wrong. John over here, man!
God I wish Sam was here right now... wait a second… I just thought that how can I see- Oohhhhhh… $#*%.
Yeah we all just saw that.
Nice job, man. Real subtle.
Uhhhh anyways what’s the plan here? I’m tracking Sarah and Charlie but Katie just started talking to them, where are you Rick?
Have you checked the gun?
I looked down and analyzed my gun, perfectly fine.
Yeah it’s fine, why?
Not your gun! Katie’s!
What about it?
Do I have to spell it out? I’m in it.
Smooth move, Sherlock.
So listen up, captain clumsy. I want you to take a headshot on Chuck. I’m going to make Katie’s gun fire at Sarah and pack enough punch in the bullet to keep her out for longer. If we can take Katie hostage long enough to get her to Sam, we can get the info of their whole plan.
I lined up my shot.
Ready when you are.
And then the unimaginable happened. I remember taking the shot and I kind of remember the bullet zapping the $#*% out of Charlie's nervous system (primarily the head-al region). But it was like deja vu, because I found myself feeling like I was pulling the trigger twice, like someone had switched back time long enough for Charlie to not be temporarily dead. And that someone was now leveling a gun at my head, and uttering out the words, under her cold, dark, breath, “I saw that.” And then that someone pulled the trigger.
Death, however temporary, hurts like HELL. People think that if it's quick it'd be easy and over with fast. WRONG. I realized pretty quickly that John and Steve had toned it down a lot when we had my crash course training session. This was much more painful, but actually kind of relieving, like this enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. No, from my body. It was probably the feeling of your soul leaving your body, if you're into that sort of stuff. I literally thought that if the bullet was any stronger I would’ve had one of those “out of body experiences”.
When I came out of my mini coma, I was lying right under where I’d been shot in the tree. Sarah, Charlie, Katie, and now Steve were standing over me, talking. Now after my first time being dead, I was pretty ecstatic to be alive again.
“I’M ALIVE!!!” I jumped up and ran towards the closest person to me, which happened to be Sarah, who happened to shoot me again.