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Vectors of Corruption
Author's note: I hope readers will enjoy it, there will be mistakes and typos enveloped inside the novel. Do not hesitate to comment, rate, or give suggestions and criticisms.
Dr. John Garrison dropped his suitcase into his shiny new car, a silver colored Mercedes-Benz C. Class sedan with custom designed rims and seats. He smiled as he slid the key into ignition and twisted the powerful car into life. The awed hum of the engines never seemed to disappoint him.
Dr. Garrison was a man of forty-five. He was of medium height, barely going past five-foot seven inches, had a head of hair that was beginning to fade and fall in places, as well as a stern looking moustache that grew from the top of his lips like the whiskers of fox. He in fact was like a fox, cunning, smart, and has an MD and degrees in biochemistry and genetics.
He put the car into drive and pressed on the pedals. The Benz moved forward in a graceful fashion, almost like a tamed dog, waiting for his owner’s commands. He nodded in complacence; it was definitely a car that was worth keeping. The Mercedes moved out of the research facility’s parking lot and strutted to the road in perfect motion, not even making as little as a screech with its dark, dim tires.
Garrison was returning home after a long Friday at his job as a head scientist on genetic sequencing and recombination of many prevalent diseases. He was often in charge of inserting different DNA sequences from virulent particles into the bodies of other bacteria or animals to see the effects. Currently, Garrison is working on a project that involved an insect known as Anopheles quadrimaculatus, also known more commonly as the colloquial malaria mosquito. His experimentations involving the malaria mosquito was to determine if there is a possibility of disrupting the life cycles of the malarial parasite within the mosquito itself. Malaria is transmitted via the female mosquitoes’ feeding on an infected host, then transferring the parasite to another host afterwards. The actual sporozoite (pre-infective stage of the parasite) is developed within the body of the mosquito as it digests the engorged blood meal.
So far his experimentations have proven unsuccessful. Legal issues have arisen regarding the testing of the treated mosquitoes on hosts and the first proposed chemical that would supposedly stop the production of the parasite ended up killing the mosquito itself. To most people, that would have been the resolute answer, but for Dr. Garrison, he knew that the experimentation results were only the beginning. The whole conundrum is that having large quantities of malaria mosquitoes treated with the chemical would result in the untimely death of a large percentage of the Anopheles population, which thus may lead to an unprecedented drop within the populations of organisms which feed on the mosquitoes themselves.
Coincidentally, a second chemical was proposed, this one however, was extremely lethal, not to the mosquito, nor the parasite, but to human society. The second chemical not only failed to kill the parasites, but made them immune to the conventional means of vaccination in killing the malaria parasite within the human body. Rats treated with the classic anti-malarial drugs died within a few days of infection while showing no signs of recovery. Now the second chemical, codenamed, “Dissension” is forever locked away in the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Georgia.
Garrison never worried much about the chemical. He was cognizant that only a small, five milliliter, capsule of the liquid still exists to this day. Definitely not enough to cause harm within the society as whole. Or so he thought anyway.
The recipe for building the chemical itself was locked within a safe far away across the ocean in a European Bank. The only way to open up the safe is with a code engraved within a large, pigeon egg, sized ruby. To further complicate the situation, the engravings on the ruby itself were extremely small. Only when viewed with an extremely high powered microscope can anyone see the scratches as engravings and not just natural, environmental flaws.
He tried to avoid the “flaws” within his life as well. The doctor’s past has been an overwhelming whirlpool of actions and happenings, some he would rather forget. Almost three decades ago, when Harrison was still twenty five, the man was an agent. No one aside from the government knew of his secret actions in going against the terrorists and mafias around the world. Everyone else understood him as simply a student studying to become a scientist. Harrison’s actions were not exactly superior to that of his fellows; neither is his strength and power. However, what Harrison lacked in raw aggression, he made up for with his brute intelligence. Not only was he quickly promoted to a rank equal to that of “Major” in the military, he also helped design prototype biological weapons under a codename called “Vector,” vector involved the transmittance of insect born disease by the infusion of biting flies into an area. Soon though, project Vector came to a halt when issues regarding the uncontrollable spread of the flies finally closed down the proposition. Within a year, Harrison had grown tired of not being able to be trusted in his experiments. He was not completely respected by many of the government workers for his failures and not considered worthy for further experimentations. The government agency though, continued to allow him to work as an agent, sneaking, killing, and stealing the enemies’ lives as Harrison rushed underneath the covers of the world blanket. He’s saved many lives within his career, to contrast; he has killed many as well in order to “fulfill his objectives.” It never occurred to him that he would quit the job as an agent in order to pursue his career in genetics and chemical sciences of diseases. After finally getting accepted into the Kansas Biological and Chemical Institute of Science as a dominant job, Harrison could finally push away his past memories of killing, slaughter, and stealth. Within a year, he met a fellow colleague at his job, a beautiful woman by the name of Carla Stevens. The two of them grew closer and closer each day when the two started dating. Harrison still remembered their first dinner, their first movie, and their first kiss. The man also remembered the day the two of them got married after dating for two years. He remembered the day they bought their new house, their new dog, and their new car. Of course, he would never forget that day either, the day when his daughter, Sarah Lynn Garrison, was born. Her daughter was just as beautiful as his wife, sleek brown hair, dark green eyes, and a smile that could cheer even the most depressed of people. She was the jewel of his life, the proudest gem within his very eyes. He glanced at the photo of Sarah clipped to the dashboard and gave a slight smile.
Then of course, Harrison also remembered the accident that slit his life apart. Ever since the crash that took his wife’s life about five years ago, his emotions have completely revamped it to become more mournful. The old cheerful embodiment of his humor depleted to hate, sorrow, and anger. Secondly, he has grown more protective of his daughter, not too surprising to anyone in particular, but it was simply yet another change to his daily routine. Of course, the lab helped cleanse his mind. Whenever an experimentation or procedure is taking place, Harrison finds himself in a trance of calmness, joy, and hope. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he knows the survival of many people is under his hands, or maybe it is the honor that everyone has restored on him to be a person of intelligence and trust. Trust, he never seem to trust people anymore, at least, not trust them with passion. Unfortunately, he knew that some will have to just obtain that trust in order to help him succeed. To his honesty, Harrison has grown more impatient of many of his fellow workers, yet he still finds their flaws to be extremely beautiful. John Harrison comes from a family who recognizes the fact that flaws are what make someone unique. To say the least, he recognizes the flaws first before recognizing the strengths of someone he meets. Of course, Harrison could not exactly justify his mind and his thought; usually he just talks of the fact that it was how he was raised.
Harrison and his daughter live in an old, Victorian style, house towards the edge of Topeka, Kansas. At times, the scientist and ex-agent thought it was odd that he was placed in such a bum of a state, but there were powerful ideals for his reasoning. Firstly, it was away from a large city and away from his past, secondly, the air was sweeter and less toxic to his lungs, and thirdly, it was much calmer and much less pressuring than life within a large city. Of course, the place wasn’t particularly of any superiority to any other town within the area, it was of a somewhat average to small size, have a population of about a hundred and twenty eight thousand, as well as a balance of “the old and new.” Towards the South Western section is the newly developed limits with more expensive houses and settlements, while the older Northern section has closely knit houses and large trees that may reach over one hundred feet tall. With this close balance, Harrison found it to be a nice equilibrium for his mind. During the day, he would work in the old city center near the public library while in the afternoon; the doctor will drive through the relics of the past decades to the whimsical structures of a more modern city section. The drive is what usually cheered him, especially when he was in a powering car that could gracefully grind through the crack ridden roads of the old town. Topeka is known for having indescribably enormous amounts of roadwork and construction. The constructions are often “of no importance” to Harrison, they were just an excuse to spend money on different “expansion” projects that ultimately accomplished nothing except the slowing down of traffic. Whatever the case, the whole idea of the, “Your Money at Work” slogan seemed to draw in public intentions to a great extent.
Harrison stopped by the traffic light near an old rundown power station. The wind blew outside with an awning force, throwing the blades of weeds that sprouted from the cracks in the sidewalk in a myriad of directions. Around Garrison’s car, not a single person was in sight. The doctor was at an older part of the town where there wasn’t much activity past the afternoon hours. It was also a poorer part of town, one that was desolate and without good safety measures. All around, old buildings sat tumbling against the wind and the broken oak trees stood with their last bits of energy.
Today, Garrison stopped near the stop light, just as he has done for the past three years of his life. However, today’s air seemed a lot more abysmal than usual. As he waited for the scratched stoplight to turn green, a slate colored BMW crested the hill behind him.
Garrison paid little attention to the BMW. The car was quite beautiful and well kept. It instantly looked like a car from someone of higher class.
Dr. Garrison watched as the dim sports car rush towards the stoplight behind him. He glanced back at the stoplight; still red.
For a few seconds the doctor just watched the streamlined BMW race towards him; its paint glimmering in the evening light. It occurred to him that the black sports car was going a little bit faster than it should. Garrison put his car into gear and got himself ready to swerve away from the incoming bullet of a BMW.
As the car was about fifty feet from where he was parked, the car began to slow down. Garrison relaxed his grip on the steering wheel and let out a relieved sigh. The light turned green. Garrison shifted his foot on the pedal and the Benz inched forward.
Suddenly, there was a huge explosion of sound caused by the connection of two metal vehicles that caused Garrison and his car to lurch forward. It didn’t take a genius to realize that someone had just rammed into the back of Garrison’s car. He felt the weight of the Benz shift forward and move a few feet, then stop as the car came to a halt in the middle of the intersection.
It wasn’t a full on crash, but it was one that left a huge indentation in the trunk of the Mercedes.
Garrison was annoyed and disheartened but not quite mad. He just hoped that everyone was all right and that the other driver will have everything insured. The doctor looked into the rearview mirror. He saw that the car behind him wasn’t badly damaged either, but he could see a slight twist in the hood as well as a light that had cracked and fallen to the ground. The owner of the car opened the door and stepped out. It was a middle aged man in a business suit and a pair of dark sunglasses. Why he was wearing them on this dim even escapes Garrison’s mind. Another similarly aged and sized man, wearing the same outfit, crawled out from the other side of the door with a nefarious aurora. Soon, the two of them ominously stroll towards Garrison.
Garrison, undaunted by the two men, stepped out of his car as well. For the time being, the doctor did not actually have any questioning towards the two men. He simply wanted to avoid as much trouble as possible. Plus, he wanted to get home before his daughter began to worry.
The two men walked up to him. They turned sharply and faced him. Neither of them took off his sunglasses.
Garrison spoke first, “Look gentlemen, I am not looking for any trouble, but you did damage my car. I am not asking for anything more than insurance and some numbers I can call.”
One of the men, the one who came out of the driver side, replied. “That wouldn’t be necessary, sir.”
Dumbfounded, Garrison said, “Excuse me?”
One of the suited men looked at the other. They nodded and the driver spoke to Garrison again. “Doctor Garrison?”
Before Garrison could react, the first man had grabbed him by the back of the collar and was pulling him down. In the next instance, the other man grabbed Garrison my back of his head and proceeded to slam him into the window of the Benz. There was a loud noise as the doctor’s head crashed through the glass. Garrison tasted blood as he was pulled back and slammed onto the warm asphalt. The driver, still with the sunglasses, pulled out a small black colored pistol and aimed it at Garrison’s bloodied face. Garrison breathed heavily and had a large gash on his forehead. His nose was also bleeding a steady stream of crimson red blood.
“Where is it?” The suited driver demanded aggressively as he pulled Garrison up by the collar.
Garrison’s heart went into panic. “Where is what?” It has been awhile since he was in a situation like this. He tried to push the thoughts out of his mind.
The driver punched him hard in the chest and knocked the air out of his lungs. “You know what I am talking about.”
Dr. Garrison gasped for breath. “Look you two, I don’t know what you are looking for, but all the money I have on me is in my wallet. If you want to take my wallet, you can have it all.”
The driver looked at his assistant, who was simply standing with his arms crossed. They nodded to one another for a second and the driver looked back at the wounded Garrison, who was sprawled on the ground like a dove that had been struck by an arrow. “Dissension, Dr. Garrison, Dissension.”
Garrison tried desperately to process the words. Realizing that the two men were probably part of an organization looking for black marketable material, he spoke quickly and calmly, “It’s locked away in the CDC. If you want to take the drug from me, then you are out of luck.”
The man chuckled. “Dr. Garrison, we know all about the CDC, we have already been there to ask. They said that they only had a small capsule of the drug and that if we were to find more information, we were to come here and talk to you. I’m sure you know this already Dr. Garrison.”
“So you want me to tell you the instructions to make it?” He inhaled deeply, trying to take it as much of the oxygen as he could.
The driver leaned towards him. “Exactly, see we know your genius would catch up after you get that oxygen flowing.” He patted tenaciously on Garrison’s back.
Images of the men approaching his house caused Garrison to conjure up a diversion. However, it was extremely weak. “I don’t have it. I have destroyed the blueprints a long time ago.”
The man punched in in the side of Garrison’s face. “Bullshit, we already know where it is. The recipe is locked in a safe inside your house. I know we will get this recipe Dr. Garrison, I know we will. But I wanted to give you a chance. We were going to let you take us to your house and get it that way, but since you decided not to cooperate, I guess we will go there by ourselves.”
Images of the men breaking down the doors to his own home once again caused Garrison to rethink his actions again. “Gentlemen, if that is all you want from me…”
“Listen up doctor, we don’t want to have to do this more than you, now just give us the damned ruby and we will be out of your way.” The driver shouted to him.
“Let me go to my house, I will take it and give it to you two.”
Suddenly, a black and white patrol car appeared in the distance from behind.
“Shit.” The driver whispered. He turned to Garrison, “Act natural, as if it was just an accident. Let the two of us handle the talking.” He pushed Garrison towards the Mercedes.
Garrison quickly scrambled back into his car. The other two men returned to their BMW and began pulling out papers, trying to act casual. When the two’s attentions were drawn away. Garrison drew out his cellphone from his glove compartment. The tinted windows prevented the two men from seeing him. The door of his Mercedes was left open to prevent suspicion from the two men in dark suits.
With shaking hands, Garrison typed a message on his cellphone. He sent the message, while glancing every other second on the two men, to his daughter. No reply. The police car had just stopped behind them. An officer with a mustache stepped out of the car. He calmly walked towards the two men. For the first time since the encounter, the driver and his assistant took of their sunglasses. They both had dark brown eyes. Soon, the officer and the two men were talking. The two men glanced towards Garrison every few seconds during the conversation. The officer was still oblivious to Garrison’s presence.
The doctor was beginning to get worried. His daughter hasn’t responded to the message for her to leave the house. He guessed it was sudden and not descriptive enough. He altered the message and sent it to one of his colleagues who he trusted well. He told him that he was running into some “issue” and that he wants him to tell his daughter to go stay at her aunt’s house for some time. After a few minutes, there wasn’t a response. Ahead of him, the officer was nodding away with the other two men. He then took out a note and began writing in it. After a few seconds, the officer waved to the other two men, who both were smiling, and backed away towards his car. The two men quickly turned towards Garrison. The doctor quickly threw his phone back into the glove compartment.
Everything for the two men was going smoothly until the officer suddenly stopped in his tracks. He picked up his communicator device, listened for a bit, and replied. The two men’s smiles were instantly wiped from their faces. They were cognizant of something and turned back to the officer. After a few seconds, the officer dropped his communicator and put his hand on his gun. He began walking towards the two men again.
The officer approached the suited men with a fast pace. “Excuse me sirs, may I search your vehicles for…”
Before he could get all his words out, the driver pulled out his black pistol and fired a shot at the officer. The bullet sprang out from the muzzle and struck the officer directly in the center of his forehead. He gasped and fell onto the ground. Warm, rich blood began to contaminate and dye the asphalt road.
After the officer died, the two men turn his attention to Garrison. Garrison’s heartbeat instantly rose.
The two men strolled forward and starred at Garrison.
"Trying to call someone doctor?" One of them asked with an annoyed tone.
"No sir I was just." He couldn't finish his sentence for one of the two men raised a gun and shot him in the neck.
Garrison fell hard onto the floor between the seats of his car. He reached up to feel the bullet wound but instead found a dart. Before he could say or do anything else, the doctor blacked out.
When Garrison woke after being tranquilized, he was dazed and had a massive headache. When he looked around, he saw how dark it was. Checking his watch, the doctor could barely make out hands on the clock. When he stabilized, he realized that it was already ten at night. All around him, the darkness seemed to rise up and swallow his life. The shifting winds which rustled the grassy fields appear gave an eerie feel during the darkness of the warm night air.
After another minute, his head cleared and Dr. Garrison picked himself up from the floor of his car. He looked outside and saw that the two men, their BMW, along with the police car had disappeared. His own car was still parked in the same position it had been since the "crash." His mind was still attempting to grasp what had happened just in the last couple of hours.
Suddenly, he remembered that the men were looking for the Dissension blueprints. Garrison inhaled with fear and pulled open his glove compartment. His phone was still there.
Grabbing the phone with cold, sweaty, and shaking hands, Garrison called his daughter.
He tried again.
At the third try, her voicemail came up.
The doctor's senses suddenly became elevated. He ran to his driver's seat, slammed the door shut, pushed the car into "drive," and mashed the pedal until the car screamed into life.
As he cut through the long and winding cornfields, Garrison continued to dial his daughter's phone, but to no avail.
He gripped the steering wheel tightly with his left hand, he breathed faster and faster, and he listened more and more intently for the sound of his most beloved thing.
No answer. Her voicemail arrived.
Garrison shouted out loud in anger, frustration and worry. He continued to click the "call" button repeatedly but received no response.
At that point, all he could do was pray.
Garrison approached home on the outskirts of town, just a few minutes from where he had his encounter with the two men. However, the "few minutes" turned into the longest "few minutes" of his very existence. As he got closer and closer to his home, Garrison became more and more hopeful.
Three more blocks.
Two more blocks.
One more block.
Still no answer.
Finally, Garrison could see his house tucked away in the rear end of a long narrow driveway. It was quite the scenic exclusion. His large Victorian style home was hidden half a mile up a hill in a heavily forested area. During the fall, the changing leaves of the sugar maples casted a red yellow light into the home, but that beauty is gone from Garrison's eyes.
He continued to call in futile spouts as he ran up to his house. All his hopes of positivity were destroyed by the sight of the broken lock and broken hinges of his wooden door. A few potted plants on the driveway were also knocked over and there were tire treads across his lawn and across his driveway itself.
Garrison fervently ran into his house. What he saw inside altered his sanity.
Everything was trashed. The chairs were knocked over, paintings were smashed, and lamps were seemingly thrown from one side of the home to the other. A trail of trash, paper, and clothes ran down like a drying waterfall from the stairway.
Garrison sprinted around to the safe. He gasped. The safe had been torn and sawn open with something. All the contents inside were gone.
Ignoring his worry, he screamed his daughter's name at the top of his lungs, running from room to room while doing so.
Then he stopped, for he saw a large pool of blood stain the pearl white carpet near the kitchen.
His heart beat faster and faster as he entered the kitchen, then his heart skipped a beat.
When he saw the full result of the two men's work, Garrison fell hard on his knees. He couldn't even feel the pain in his knees, his hands, or his neck. All the pain had channeled to his mind.
He knelt over the lifeless body of his very own daughter, his very own flesh, his only hope in the world.
She was laying face up on the ground, her hair bloodied, her dress ripped, and her body bruised.
Garrison could feel the warmth of her blood under her paper white dress. He could feel the life of the only hope in his world slowly drain away. Darkness. Whiteness. A gasp of sorrow.
He cried at the top of his lungs, he cried at his own self, he felt the warmth of her blood, still oozing from two stab wounds on her abdomen.
The doctor felt her pulse anyway.
He pressed his face against hers. It was still warm, but slowly getting colder.
In torpid anger, Garrison grabbed the nearest object, which happened to be a vase he got at an art auction last month for two thousand dollars. How little it seemed to him now as he threw it across the room and hit the coffee table.
Garrison reached over to grab another object in blind anger. It was a gun. The shiny grey pistol lay on the soft carpet, just inches away from being stained by his daughter's blood. The doctor grabbed the gun and stared deep into the weapon. That's when he saw the two letters "K.H." engraved into the side of the Glock 17 pistol. The two letters drilled into his mind.
Garrison let his tears run. He felt as if someone had taken a knife and carved out part of his heart. He felt as if that same someone had torn apart his own will, his own motive, and his own soul.
He threw the gun across the room and smashed his grandfather clock. It creaked, chimed, and became silent.
Dr. John Garrison picked himself up from the ground. His whole body was shaking as if he had just taken a swim in a frozen lake. The world around him seemed to have dimmed from the destruction, damage, and death.
With ironic calmness, the phone slipped from his trembling hand and landed on the bloodstained ground with a dull thud.
The voicemail somehow activated and Garrison heard his daughter's soothing voice. "You have reached Sarah Garrison; I am not available at the moment so please leave a message after the beep. Love you!" The phone beeped and then died.
A clap of thunder echoed in the distance.
South Africa (Five Months Later)
Agent Ryan Brunner raised his silenced assault rifle as he peered through the hedgerows that dotted the landscape around the large estate. He was tall, being six foot four since his late teens. Of course, Brunner was in his early twenties but seemed older and more experienced, maybe it was the unusual badges across his uniforms and shirts or his overall attitude towards his work. Maybe it was his thoughtful stare, he does not know. But what he does know is that everyone working for the United States government appreciates his capabilities. The hair that fell across his forehead was a dark shade of blond; his eyes were a piercing blue-gray color. On this arid day, Brunner was wearing a bulletproof jacket as well as a pair of insulated pants. The material in his pants was more than capable of stopping a small bullet at point blank range.
Being a quiet and secular person, Ryan Brunner never exactly considered his entry into the P.S.A. as all those who know of it call it. He loved subjects involving technologically advanced weaponry and chemical weaponry, which was one of his main reasons for joining the P.S.A. The P.S.A. is composed of a classified number of “Agents.” These agents live out the normal office life: paperwork, lunch, coffee breaks, late nights...Until they are given the call of the mission. Of course, each agent is also given a ranking to keep information lines in order. Early recruits in their teens usually are given a “recruit” status. At that time, it’s only to train them in combat and first aid. Once they hit eighteen, recruits are then given a Private or Private First Class rank depending on their abilities and progress. After another year or two, they will be given the rank of either a Corporal or Sergeant, again depending on what they are capable of. Once they are around twenty-one, they are set to either Lieutenant or Captain. During this period of time, the agents will study at a military academy, while still receiving orders for “missions.” It will take them until the age of at least twenty six before they are given a “Major” status. Once they hit that, they are the highest and most top priority of all agents. And unless they completely save planet Earth from total destruction, they are at their climax in rank. Of course, the rank is only implied, but specifically given out like that of the actual military. It is only used to make leading and following easier when working with the military itself, which happens more often than some agents want.
Likewise, original offers of pride, courage, and defensive protection of the country were all overshadowed by the organizations built just to take them out. Brunner found it quite interesting, and somewhat bothered, that the P.S.A. was created under orders by past presidents as a group of specially trained assassins, spies, and informants going against terrorism. Yet now the terrorists and their support groups had created organizations just to go against the P.S.A. - so much for being “secret.” However, this reversal of events was not a surprise to Brunner or anyone working for the United States government for that matter. It was only natural and pristine that the enemy was to continue to arms race. Years before, a small group of terrorists working under Osama Bin Laden, separated and went on to a different path of destruction. The small organization slowly grew as it gained support from terrorist groups within Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. This “group” based itself on creating weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical, nuclear, and biological. After the death of Bin Laden, another leader by the name of Naja Nivea took over the scene. Nivea was in a way more ruthless than Bin Laden himself since he considered all within western society to be a “hated and expendable race of overzealous swine.” Nivea was willing to destroy anything living or nonliving in his path to help his intended goals, which usually were nothing too likable by the United Nations. He enjoyed huge spikes in weapon, drug, and human trafficking, while keeping low behind the many layers of his network. Unlike many terrorist groups, Nivea was actually not backstabbing the United Nations with suicidal plane runs, bomb trucks, or gas bombs on U.S. soil. Nivea was interested in a "slow divide and conqueror" style of domination, taking over instead, the African countries’ resources and military control, one at a time, to raise fear on the United States. Nivea also had a niche for the love in the torture of Americans. He often films the occurrences in an unknown location and sends the videos to the world leaders. It didn’t matter whether that person was a high ranking official, lowly soldier, or innocent civilian, Nivea’s need to hurt Westerners is a form of entertainment to him. The official formation of the "Sabeem Habalas" under his order was yet another thorn the United States would have to deal with. The organization of "Sabeem Habalas" or S.H. was massive, spreading across the entire biosphere. Nivea has contacts from Russia to Brazil and Rome to Tokyo. He really and truly was the international terrorist leader of the twenty-first century. Just the day before, his mercenaries had managed to capture a young P.S.A. member by the name of Kaitlyn Holly. Having a tendency of killing anyone with American blood, the United States was putting extra measures to ensure that he gets what he wants if hostage situation occur. Of course, the spy agency of the P.S.A. wasn’t too fond of having leaks in information. However, the situation has become volatile to the point where violence was the final solution to the ordeal. They wanted Holly to live, but only so far as to avoid more bloodshed. The government knew of Holly’s importance and talent, but the constricting time and task of her retrieval created many shakes of heads from even the best of agents. For all they know, she could have already been tortured, killed, and squeezed of information. Others wanted to stay optimistic and hoped for her survival. Unfortunately, those government officials who only considered her to be “missing in action” didn’t know what action to take. Still though, some military generals are offering a possible truce. To their dismay however, Nivea had closed off all policies, money ransoms, and merciful requests for the safety of Holly’s return.
Of course, when harsh times arise, great persons take action to safe what could be lost. The edifice which surrounded Agent Holly was bristled with defense. It wasn’t particularly horrific by modern standards, but the amount of guards within was too much to bear by even the most die-hard of commandos. Similarly, the environment around the mansion was even worse. Distances of grassland mixed with semi-arid conditions were blotted with the bone dry earth from months of drought. Temperatures soared high during the day and dropped low during the night. The environment was so hostile that even the bravest of all insects ignored the daylight hours. Plus, even if the rescue was to have been a success, the bravado necessary of extraction, as well as surviving long enough to be extracted was an immense issue. That of course, was where Ryan Brunner came in.
He was in South Africa, the landscape barren and dotted only with the occasional, wilted tree. Life was harsh here in the southern sections of Africa; terrorism, gangs, violence, drought and malaria had taken a deep blow on the local population and its resources. But Brunner cannot help the others; he was here to help a teammate in trouble. Discretely in the back of his mind, the idea of a “Damsel in distress” seemed to hammer out, but the agent shook off the thought.
Across the lot in front of the building stood two guards, one had his back turned and was taking long drags from a burnt out cigarette, the other looked on into the horizon, seemingly awaiting something which won’t come. Brunner thumbed his gun and judged the distance as one of the guards pulled out a mossy green AUG rifle and began cleaning the tarnished weapon. Behind the row of half dried bushes, Agent Brunner steadied his aim; he squinted through the red dot sight attachment on his weapon and quietly let out a wisp of air from his nostrils. The wisp of air gently swayed the sanguine leaves just by a fraction of an inch as they coughed in the emaciated air. When the guard having a smoke tossed the cigarette butt onto the ground, Brunner held his breath fired the shots.
One guard was hit straight in the back section of the head and the other directly in the heart. The P.S.A. has struck first blood; the two soldiers tumbled down onto the ground like slaughtered birds.
He quietly walked up the steps and dragged the bodies behind some bushes to hide them. Brunner then crept around the building, sticking packets of explosive to the walls. Afterwards, he made a turn back to the front. Brunner opened the door and peeked inside. It was a huge mansion with many twists and turns, but the he had a fairly good idea as to where he needed to go. He paused to catch sight of the foyer. It was quite beautiful to be honest. The large, gaudy paintings hung on the walls were counterbalanced by the modest chandelier which drooped from the center. As he rounded the corner of a kitchen, a mercenary's shadow danced against the wall. Hiding in the shadows, Brunner stayed calm as the churlish mercenary walked past his hiding spot. The man’s footsteps echoed in the hall and disappeared into another room. Brunner glanced to make sure that he hadn’t discovered the missing guards at the front of the house.
Another guard slithered up near him in the hall to look a painting on the wall. The painting was oddly a scene depicted of a rainforest. The guard, a middle aged man wearing a British style beret and holstering a shiny pistol was completely oblivious. Agent Brunner slid near guard and paused. Even though the agent was only inches away, the guard still failed to realize his presence. Suddenly, Brunner struck out, almost like a praying mantis, and grabbed the guard’s head, careful to cover the mouth as he twisted his neck. There was an inaudible “pop” as the guard fell dead. Brunner quickly dragged him into a nearby closet, dropped him behind a bunch of uniforms, and closed the door.
Killing hadn’t been an issue since the early days when, like many of his fellow agents, was “drafted” into the whole ordeal of a secret group of presidential supporters via the seeing of his unique ability during training for the CIA.. However, being a hitman wasn’t exactly spelt out directly within the confidential papers that were dropped for him to read. The bright red words of “Classified,” aggressively painted onto the cream colored folder, didn’t help much either in creating a balance within him as an agent. For Brunner, it was just another day in the office, except that he wasn’t. Luckily for him, his office didn’t have much of a homely aurora to it anyway. He preferred to work in the “bellicosity field” as everyone else would say. The great outdoors within enemy territory was much more exciting and arousing than standing behind an office scratching on documents with the dim ink of the fountain pens. Of course, sometimes he would get himself into more trouble than he asked for in the “bellicosity field,” but those were just minor occurrences to be ignored.
Dragging the body into a closet nearby, he continued his search for Kaitlyn Holly. Earlier in the week, there was a skirmish out by Zambia; the reconnaissance team she was with was ambushed. There was a small struggle and the team was surrounded from the sides. A window of opportunity arose after a friendly helicopter landed in the backfield. Holly stayed and gave covering fire long enough for the others to escape, but instead ended up in custody herself. Then, Brunner had the honor to be called to retrieve her back, or so they say. She was a top priority agent, just like him, only people loved Holly more as the average person. She was kind, calm, pretty, and had a mysterious and charismatic charm that glowed from within her. Maybe it was her silky blonde hair that glimmered in the sun, or those sapphire colored eyes that glistened within the misty rains, no one seemed to know. For Agent Ryan Brunner though, this was an opportunity not to miss. In all truth, the “Captain Agent” had always had something for Holly ever since the two of them entered the service. Sure, the two of them seemed to stay separated and only talk on occasion, but he just couldn’t resist glancing at her when he had the opportunity to do so. It was a feeling of mutual support, or so he thought. The two of them talked when necessary, but were never on the same missions, in the same room, or at the same place long enough to really get to know each other. Brunner sighed.
Once again he is on the move in search of his quarry. At an entrance to what seems to be the cell room, two guards stood facing outwards in direct sight. Using some large plants located in the foyer, the guards cannot catch sight of the P.S.A. agent. By double tapping the trigger of his silenced weapon, he managed to take both the guards down without any noise or suspicion. Afterwards, the agent gingerly walked up to the door. By listening carefully with his tuned ears, Brunner made out the sounds of what seemed to be sparking electric wires and a few mercenaries in discussion.
"Let's begin the interrogation" One man with a high pitched whine spat.
Brunner heard the silenced voices of the guards after a few seconds. The problem wasn’t the fact that someone could find his location or discover the dead bodies of the guards he had taken out; the trouble was making sure they could get out in time. Timing was everything, he had to get in, get her, get out, and get on to the helicopter before the clock ran out.
Brushing off some dust particles that had staggered on the breach charge, he noticed the small blood stain that had snaked its way onto the edge of it. It was not his blood, it never seemed to be. The blood that ran in his body almost seemed to turn grey over the years with his near death experiences. Straggling through the mind of Ryan Brunner was the many missions he was put into and put in charge of. Splitting his fears to reality had put much of a strain on Brunner’s thoughts. But every time he was hurt, the crimson liquid that oozed from the wounds seem to empower him, to strengthen his soul, to set forth his tenacity to finish what was started. Blood, it did not scare him anymore, the snaking droplets only fueled him to pursue the enemy, to hunt down the targets until each was dealt with. The small stain of blood allowed him to ponder upon the many more gallons that were shed due to the supremacy of the terrorists.
Brunner put the breach charge on the door and flipped it on, backing sideways to avoid the blast. Perspiration dripped down as the seconds tick by to detonation. Drawing in his breath, he whispered to himself the words, "This is it."
The charge blew up with a loud roar and sent the door sprawling backwards. Running in front of the doorway Brunner quickly saw Kaitlyn in the center of the room. He raised his rifle and shot a soldier running at him with a knife then shot two more drawing their weapons. A third soldier was hit square in the forehead when he tried to raise his gun to kill the girl. Finally, the last soldier made an attempt to sound the alarm by sprinting forward towards the button but was undoubtedly hit in the chest. Once all the guards and soldiers were dead, Brunner ran up and began untying the girl's binds.
He tried to avoid it, but Brunner again stared at her again. He couldn't stop himself from staring at her silky blonde hair and grey-blue eyes that glisten in the fluorescent lights. Kaitlyn Holly snapped him out of his dream.
"Aren't you going to ask if I'm all right." she said as she zipped the front of her black jacket.
Unsure, Brunner splutter, "Um, are you all right."
"Thanks for asking, but I am fine.” She nodded towards some wires that lay on the ground attached to a large car battery.
"Good, the president wanted you alive, or more importantly, I needed you alive anyway because the others would kill me if I don't."
"I will thank you later, but it looks like we only have a few minutes to get out of here." She stopped to grab a pistol from one of the dead guards. With care, Holly checked the amount of bullets left in the magazine and carefully slid the weapon into one of her pockets.
He tried not to stare, he did, but in this situation, Brunner was lost in transit.
Without looking at him, Holly asked, "Where is our transport?"
That took Brunner out of his stupor, "A half mile out the north side, Agent Barclay should have his chopper parked there waiting for us."
"Great, lead the way." she said. Completely unexpected, Holly gently planted a kiss on Brunner’s cheek. He felt the tingle of his skin and smelled her fragrance truly for the first time. His face quivered a bit.
Brunner opened his eyes wide.
"Hey, come on, time to go" she said in a cheery voice. “People don’t get too many of those from me, if you want to live to brag about it to all your friends go ahead and move. I don’t need you coming to return in those black trash bags.”
A stunned Agent Ryan Brunner tripped behind Holly out the backdoor. They ran towards the direction of the landing zone as pinpointed by the tracker.
Suddenly, in the subdued mansion behind them, a screeching alarm like that of an injured hawk bellowed out into the vast empty space. He could hear the voices of the mercenaries and guards shouting behind their backs. The loud raspy screams of men filled the afternoon air. As the pair sprinted into the barren land, it was really then that Brunner noticed the fact that trees and bushes were almost nowhere to be seen. Only small ditches and gullies spread across the landscape provided any sort of cover. There were large patches of grass, but they were not tall enough to conceal their escape. Above them, the blistering sun rained down upon them, the rays piercing Brunner’s clothing and stinging his salted skin like honey bees attacking raiding hornets. The two of them simply ran. He could barely see Holly ahead of him as the rays blinded his eyes. Somehow, Holly was doing exceptionally well and was sprinting way ahead of Brunner. He did however, managed to keep up by observing her hair.
Every golden strand that reflected the light into his eyes; it was almost painful to watch. But he couldn’t stop his gaze upon the rivers of gold. Brunner almost felt relaxed, almost felt energized. Usually the sight of death, destruction, and blood energized him to finish his job. But the hair from a girl was something never felt by him before. The agent was instantly mystified.
Suddenly a bullet whizzed next to him and hit the ground, Brunner turned around as he kept running for a brief second to fire shots at the tailing enemies. The mercenaries returned fire and a few almost scratched Brunner as he and Holly ran for their lives. He paused for a second to turn around and fire at some enemies. The smoky spray from his gun managed to hit some of the advancing enemies. They tumbled downwards and fell into the gullies that lay within the land. Brunner pulled up a control button and detonated the explosives he had set earlier. He heard screams of men. As the pair continued to sprint, Brunner pulled out a turquoise colored gadget.
"Agent, don’t even...” Holly began
It was a specially made tactical grenade just for governmental use. Being a prototype model, weapons weren’t always expected to work. “Luckily” for Brunner, he had the “honor” of testing it out in the field.
“Don’t worry about me, worry about yourself.” He wasn’t sure whether that insulted her or not.
She ignored him
"Yeah, just let me take care of them!" He solemnly added on; this with maybe a little more hubris than was necessary.
“Just don’t hurt yourself. Please,” Holly spat out under strained breaths. She expressed this in such an ignorant and childish manner that Brunner almost laughed, almost, but not quite.
The two were only a few hundred feet away from the L.Z., or Landing Zone, they could already hear the plinking sound of the helicopter in the distance. Agent Chase Barclay buzzed in on Brunner's headset. He was a lovable man, same age as Brunner, usually calm and likes to cracks jokes, politics, debates and the occasional run. The short brown hair that spread across his head like army ants to fresh meat stayed neat without combing, and he always tries his best at keeping objectives within a timeframe. "Brunner, I am almost low of fuel, are you here yet? I am hearing quite a bit of gunfire."
"Almost, ETA three minutes, get ready to take off, we have over a few dozen guys coming up behind us.”
“How’s agent Holly?” Barclay buzzed in with alacrity.
"She's in better shape than me." He glanced at her, yes, her hair still glowed back and yes she was still running faster than she was.
Brunner tugged off the handle of the PPS grenade and threw it back, he did not manage to see if he obtained any kills but he heard the explosion and the screaming of terrorists behind him.
"Go, get to the L.Z., I will hold them off." Brunner told Holly.
"Okay, okay, you don't need to be heroic all of a sudden, the president needs you back as much as he needs me back." she sprinted ahead and for a split second disappeared behind a thorn bush as the dusty mists of the helicopter’s beating propellers rang.
Brunner turned and reloaded a fresh magazine into the gun and fired at the terrorists on full automatic setting. He peppered the first wave of when they appeared. As he finished off the second wave of enemies, he heard the helicopter above him. Its hum rang right into his ears like the roar of a jet engine, though not that loud. The sandy fragments around him were churned upwards like a sandstorm. He couldn’t see or move, every breath he took seemed to choke his throat with large particles of dirt.
Commotion rang out everywhere and Brunner was hit several times in the neck and face by the debris tilled up by the beat of the helicopter’s blades.
"I got Holly onboard and she is safe but the landing zone is too hot, we have confirmed large quantities of enemies heading in our direction. Some with large caliber weaponry, I cannot risk taking too many hits on this thing. Move to secondary L.Z. over."
Brunner wasn’t even sure how he missed Holly getting on the helicopter. Stubbornly he replied, "Copy that, I am on the move." He said it with such calmness. But deep inside his body groaned from pain and the loss of oxygen. As he tried to wipe away the sand from his eyes, another two terrorists appeared over the edge. They were dressed in desert militia combat gear with a tattered pants and a short sleeved shirt wrapped with ammunition belts. Across their faces was a piece of bandana like towel that was wrapped around their faces. Brunner couldn’t see their faces. He couldn’t make out any particular features on the terrorists; maybe it was better that way. Except for the black hair, the tattoo of a coiled cobra in a striking position, sitting calmly on their necks, the men were just images from a random crowed.
Brunner wouldn’t remember everyone he had killed, he remembered some, but others just can’t be memorable. Again, it maybe better that way, sometimes he felt that the killing of a person is just his job, and not his enjoyment. Recognizing the faces will only haunt him in the future, or so he thought.
The terrorists began firing at the chopper as Barclay veered away to the alternate landing zone. At least it drew fire away from me, Brunner thought. The second landing zone was only a quarter of a mile away, but he was already tiring from all the weight in his backpack. He pulled out a few more PPS grenades and ran faster as the bullets from enemy AK-47 assault rifles buzzed and scraped the ground around his legs, some almost hitting him. Dirt next to him danced like popcorn cracking and breaking as it popped apart in the stove. He could feel the whiz of the loud bullets as they struck everything around him. At this point, Brunner could only pray for survival. As he gripped the PPS grenade, he felt that his life was already judged. It was all luck now; it was all decision on whether god wanted him to stay on Earth or leave. He had combat training in situations like this, everyone in the P.S.A. did. But Brunner didn’t particularly like running away as bullets trailed after him like Africanized honeybees. This agent preferred the stealthy approach, snagging enemies as they rounded corners and dark alleys in the bad parts of town at night. In all honesty, Brunner would rather for a moment scratch his head against paperwork than worry about being targeted by all the waves of mercenaries. At the time, it all felt like a game. He doesn’t like considering his whole job as an online first person shooter, but thinking that it is the case for some odd reason gave him more courage. Maybe it is the fact that in an FPS game, one doesn’t die. But who knows, he only cares about survival at this point. He accomplished his mission of getting Agent Holly out of the custody of the enemies, he has successfully completed his objective, and maybe now it was time to just live. Of course, Brunner wasn’t all that nervous, he got over that nervousness years ago, but a sense of worry still lingered. A quieted thought of fear, a fear that seemed to chill him, maybe it was just him, but it felt as if this mission, along with his future missions, will have a great downfall upon the team.
"Come on, almost there" Holly said to him over radio.
That broke his train of thought. "I have this, don't worry about me." Again, the agent might have said it with a minute amount more of hubris than necessary.
At last he was within sight of the landing zone, picking up the pace and speeding through the bushes, the helicopter was a mere thirty feet away. Brunner felt that his lungs were going to burst as he used up his last scrap of energy to sprint forward. He was almost ten feet away from the helicopter.
Well, then the unfortunate happened. An explosion rang out closely behind him, he instantly knew it as an RPG, or rocket propelled grenade. The explosion sent Brunner flying into the dirt. As Brunner picked himself up, he suddenly felt dizzy and his vision and hearing blurred for a split second before regaining himself. Winded, Brunner scrambled desperately upwards for breath. As Agent Brunner pulled himself up from the shell blast, he saw that he was not badly hurt other than a few scrapes, the shell had exploded close to him but not close enough to kill him. Then of course, another unfortunate event occurred. A soldier in the distance raised his AK-47 assault rifle and aimed it right at Brunner himself. But as Brunner readied for the bullet to hit him, the soldier suddenly was struck hard in the chest by a bullet. Turning around, he saw Holly aiming with an M4 assault rifle on the helicopter. So the unfortunate was resolved, at least for the time being.
"Hurry up, slow poke, we got to go!" She yelled over the shots.
Dashing across the field, Ryan Brunner lunged into the chopper as Barclay took the bird up into the sky.
He landed hard on his stomach and the impact knocked the air out of his lungs again. Holly fired two more shots and managed to take out two more targets as the black hawk helicopter rose into the air. She closed the door of the helicopter; Brunner was surprised how quiet it was after the doors were closed. He could talk with someone inside without a headset. Well, he COULD talk, but was he ready to talk to Holly? That pondered in his mind. The three of them decided to catch their breaths and stay silent.
Once out of the danger zone, the three finally began talking again. It was all mumbles and sighs of “thanks,” and “good job” at first.
"Good to have you alive." Brunner said to Holly.
"I guess you can tell that to yourself!" She replied, somewhat quietly. “With that height you have, I guessed that a bullet would probably have struck you.”
He smirked, “I’m invincible!” He quickly coughed out a small cloud of dust and sand from his mouth.
Holly laughed. And after Brunner caught his breath, he laughed as well.
When the chopper flew across the barren land, the evening sun began dipping her face into the horizon. Brunner and Holly stared into the sunset.
"It’s odd how peaceful the earth looks after a battle." Holly whispered.
"I know, this is not the first for me, and it WILL not be the last." Brunner replied.
She smiled. "Thank you, I appreciate what you have done, it is something I will remember,” she paused, “Won’t forget.” Holly brushed her hand against the back of his head. Brunner watched quietly.
"A person that respects me, I need to keep that in mind." He closed his eyes and nodded in appreciation. Maybe it was just a bantam of an optimistic thought that crawled out of his head. But he felt pleased and content.
"You are quite unique." she said. Her voice was so gentle and extremely hard for Brunner or anyone to dislike.
Brunner noticed how her grey-blue eyes danced in the dim light as she talked and blinked. It had a very similar color to that of his. He noticed her unique beauty almost instantly. Once he has seen it, it was extremely hard to draw his eyes away from the golden hair, the long, flowing golden hair that fell down from above. He almost wanted to reach out and touch the fine silky strands. But he didn’t for the sake of manners of course.
"You can't really say that, aren't we all different? Do I owe you something?" Brunner asked finally.
"Hey, you saved me, then I saved you, we are even all right?" She smiled again.
"Okay, but please understand the fact that if I didn't get you today, they would have shipped you to Gulag IV in Solomon Islands. Then you never would have been able to return." Brunner replied.
"I thought you were great at breaking into stuff, isn't the Gulag just another task needed to overcome?"
"But a full force would have been needed in order to pass the island's defenses. Trading the life of many for the lives of many for one wasn't exactly written in the rule-books." He wondered whether he would risk his life for Holly.
Holly looked down for a second. She sighed. "You're right; sometimes the risk of losing many for the life of one isn’t the most moral of all actions."
Brunner smiled, "But I want you alive, the team wants you alive, and your parents would want you to be alive."
Holly turned away and looked out the window of the helicopter. It might have been the dusk sunlight but Brunner could have sworn that he saw a small tear run down her cheek. But if it really was a tear, she suppressed the next ones exceptionally well.
"Thank you." she told him dully.
"No problem." Brunner put a hand on her shoulder; she was still looking out the window.
"Yes, what is it?"
She paused for another second. "Never mind."
"If you have something to tell me I’m fine with it. I’m always here to listen."
"No, it's nothing." she replied. Holly sighed.
Holly quietly stretched out her hands and started massaging her arm. The pair sat there staring into the sunset. It was all quiet, soothing, and somewhat even romantic during this harsh period of terrorism, violence, disease, and drought. Brunner continued to ponder as to what Holly was going to ask him as they sat watching the sunset for almost five minutes, everything was silent, the hum of the helicopter propellers created a sleepy tune.
Finally, Chase Barclay broke silence, "Go and get a room why don't you!" he shouted out to both of them as he maneuvered the helicopter on course for Djimbi Airfield. The other two just playfully glared at him.