3.0 Sean David "Black Hound" Murphy, Veritas Unit, Rasa Blank
Man, I'd been away from headquarters for quite awhile. I'd been staying and fixing up an old cottage in Inishowen up North in Donegal. The woman who owned the land was a handsome widower with graying auburn hair she kept in a tidy knot. She looked better dressed than the locals, who were mostly Civ Farmers and Millers. She had an odd air of a distant aristocracy about her. She lived a few miles south in Buncrana Town just two doors up from her hotel and bar, the Angler's Rest. She'd lent me the use of the place as long as I fixed it up properly. She hoped to lease it once I'd made the cottage livable, although she did seem a bit wistful at the prospect.
I was about halfway through. I'd the roof patched and the windows sealed. Their was a stand of Ash trees and beyond rose a sand dune then the wild North Sea. At night I'd sit at the fire, burning a mix of rotten and scrap wood from the days work along with peat briquettes once the fire was hot enough. I sat in the only decent armchair in the musty old kip drinking the local Poitín mixed with warmed up Blackberry Juice and a teaspoon or two of sugar. I called it a Black Moon. It was really strong, one measure of Poitín over the limit and I'd usually wake up half naked on the beach or on the side of the road. Night after night and day after day the place became a home to me.
Finally after I had the upstairs bedroom fully fitted the Buncrana Widower came to visit. She was her usual icy self as she sat waiting for tea. I offered her 50,000cc for the house and the acreage from the road to the sea. The place was worth 6,500cc tops. To my surprise she burst into tears soon after the offer. After she'd calmed down she told me about how she'd lost her husband to the Simulation Wars and had waited so long for his return and that this place was their original homestead and so on. Embarrassed I opted to leave that evening but she made me an interesting counter proposal. As long as her beloved was missing, the property would remain hers but if I could find any trace of one Major Johnathon Dexter Ellis either dead or alive she'd pass the property on to me.
I agreed and she was soon on her way. That night I packed my things. I mixed a Black Moon double strong and had one last sit on the good chair. With the fire ablaze I read the New Irish Republic. There was an article that caught my eye, apparently the National Defense Office was conducting a census of sorts. That settled it for me, I was to go to Athlone post haste. The room was a bit smoggy, I'd have to have a look at that chimney flu before departing. I stood to open the window a crack. I recall tripping upon a sheep's wool rug. So soft...
3.1 Prof. Johannes Hannes "Ratel" le Roux, Chance Unit, Rasa Blank
Muis set the Banshee down near what looked like a forest fire. We'd all been keeping our ears to the ground and taking turns looking for the Black Hound since he went dark on his Comms and according to recent intelligence he was last spotted staying in a seaside hideout on the Inishowen peninsula. When Muis caught a glimpse of a smoking stone chimney through the trees we set the old helicopter down as close as possible and ran as quick as we could into the growing inferno. I could see a glimpse of an old cottage with it's roof feeding the flames into dry woodland around it. I pulled out a rag and poured water over it then pulled it tight around my nose and mouth. The sea breeze had lifted the fire up into the dry leaves, leaving a clear pathway towards the building.
I found him knocked out on a rug, his mouth stained purple. I'd no time to question why, I simply scooped him up and made a run for it. He was fairly light thankfully. I took a look behind me as the cottage roof collapsed. Flaming leaves fell around me as I dashed towards Muis, who'd set off a green flare for me to spot through the smoke. A rush of relief ran through me as I dropped the Black Hound on the Banshee's deck and jumped in after him. I told Muis to throw the flare into the woods. If our Seán was really trying to snuff himself out I didn't want him to feel any guiltier than he already must have. Once we were hovering above the heat, I had Muis take us to Athlone for the National Census double quick. Seán needed an alibi.
He woke up soon after we landed. "Fifty-thousand? Who's Dexter Cudgeham!?" he mumbled. I splashed some water on his face. He was wide eyed and startled and judging from the smell of his breath, very drunk. "Relax! You're alright mate, we found you. You're safe." I said, offering him a bottle of water. "No! Black Moon! You took my Black Moon! Oof... I need to lay down." His eyes were barely open. I'd a flask of Whiskey in my jacket pocket. Sometimes, I've found at least, a touch of poison is the cure. "Here buddy, have a drain on this." he took a drink and lo and behold he seemed to awaken a bit. "Ratel?" asked Seán, feeling around. I had him buckled into the passenger seat and rather than have him throw a total fit I quickly unbuckled him. "Oh Lord above, where am I?" I helped him up from his seat and out of the Banshee.
The newly elected, and Pro-Rasa Blank, President of the third Irish Republic Gerald O'Flaherty had organised this meeting of gangs, partisans, mercenaries and outsider military units together. Earlier that day he'd given a Radio speech imploring all Civ's to rise up against the unjust and cruel Simulation Wars. While we'd been scouting for Seán earlier we had to go Comm silent but Claire told me the details once we'd our tango. Apparently it'd spread quicker than anyone anticipated and now most countries had dozens of newly elected leaders with their own united armies. The Journo's were calling it the Day of a Thousand Kings. But I knew that was just a headline until Goshawk were completely culled.
Myself and Muis stuck around drinking a few cold ones as various Commanders of different military units swore allegiance to President O'Flaherty. One unit stuck out to me, the Gallowglass, a Scottish Unit. I wondered if they knew about Muldoanich. I Comm'd Winters back at base. He was the second best option we had since Raven had "went on leave". Probably for the best, I didn't trust that Commie. Wherever there was disorder or duplicity, Raven was always close by. True it was the nature of her job but she hadn't convinced me of her loyalty yet. Winters called blank on Gallowglass so I made note of it. They where dressed for a coup. I wanted to know who was funding them and I wanted to know a week ago but we'd an errand to run.
"How you feeling Blackie, you-" Seán was still drunk. "Don't you Blackie me, Ratel. I won't talk. you'll have to kill me! G'wan! Do it! First giz a sup of that..." I lay my flask on his lap and buckled him in then stepped out of the helicopters deck. Muis was starting to throw empties wildly as the crowd began to raise to fever pitch. The new Irish President was about to make his first ever open air speech. "Muis, take us to Liberty Hall. I'm sure this is going on everywhere." Muis seemed a bit tipsy, mostly stoned on 4's judging by his lips. "Who cares? We're free now Ratel. Let's get loose!" said Muis, pulling off his t-shirt. Although it was oddly hot outside for an Autumn night he was not comporting himself as a member of Chance Unit should." I pulled him down from the crate he was getting a view from. "Man, no need to be a asshole about it." Muis huffed opening the "good" pilot door and crawling over to his station. The other had been jammed shut with shrapnel but Muis insisted that the Banshee should never be repaired, even cosmetically. I climbed into the passenger cab and strapped in. Their was no passenger door either. Seán was half asleep with my flask to his mouth. I strapped him in tighter. We took off before President O'Flathery's speech began. I reached for my 4's but resisted the urge. I thumped the plexi-glass in front for Muis to keep an eye on where we where going, the Banshee nearly rammed into the main stage. It was going to be a long night.
Once we got the Banshee back to Liberty Hall I had Muis on backup Prison Guard duty with one of the Dublin Brigade Captains. We couldn't afford another incident. I had Quigley oversee it to make sure it was double secure. The whole base had a triumphant vibe, like we'd won something. I gave the briefest of hello's and goodbye's to Claire, only taking my time to kiss her perfect face gently. Before she could speak I was off to the good Doctors Macallister-Payne and their cute little baby, I probably wouldn't see them for a while considering they were off to Muldonaich with their new staff and Nero Unit as security. I ran back to the roof where Seán sat, still working away on my flask. He was still a bit bleary but he was starting to come round. I ushered him into the passenger cab and got into the pilots seat. I'd never flown a NG Vorpal Attack-Copter. It took off with force and as I routed it towards Tiberias, Israel I felt my passenger seat lean back and the gentle rumble as the helicopter tilted forward and burst into full speed.
We landed at the ELF black site near En Gev. Everyone was partying. I made lemonade out of the situation and gathered enough loose clothes to dress myself and Seán as ELF regulars. "How's your Hebrew mate? We're gonna borrow a truck and you're gonna see a big bright light. Once you see that..." Seán gave me a disinterested look. "Look Black Hound, this is important, Petrov is..." He held his hands over his face. "Stop shouting Ratel. My head is thumping." I stood back. I could make out on the breeze that Sander Sepp had been elected President of the new Baltic Confederation. Seán pointed towards an A.P.C and made the fist gesture to hold. The A.P.C was unlocked with it's key's in the ignition. Seán reappeared soon after dressed in a pink t-shirt with Hebrew writing and long psychedelic patterned swimming shorts. "Right, where to?" I drove the pedal down and tore out of the base towards Tiberias.
Seán talked rapidly in Hebrew when we where stopped at the city limits. I couldn't tell if the guardsmen were excited or angry. Finally, they let us through. Seán said we had to ditch the A.P.C. The guards at the gate gave us a thumbs up as Seán threw them the key's. "Oof... My head is killing me Ratel, do you mind if I grab a few can's at the offo before we do whatever the hell we're here to do?" I tore off my ELF jacket. The whole world seemed to be taking a day off, so why should I be the one stressing out? "Sure Blackie, see if they have some Klipdrift Gold?" He just wondered off. I sat on a bench and looked over the Sea of Galilee. The dazzlingly bright full moon had it's gentle waves sparkling. I knew I'd this one chance to capture or kill Petrov but the more I looked into the distance, the less it all seemed to matter. I was tired, I thought of Claire and her wry little smiles, the smell of her hair and... "Wake up Ratel, this is a warzone! Are you high!?" screamed Black Hound with two bags full of liquor. He was covered in blood and had his silver pistol holstered in his swim-shorts.
"Petrov is staying at the Hellas Hotel, top of the hill. Intel says he's using their secret floor so ingress will be tricky. We'll need to find explosives if they..." Seán was draining a tall can of Gold Star Lager. "What!? Sorry they'd no Klipdrift, I got you Hennessy and a lime... Use your knife and wedge a few slices down, it'll..." I placed my finger over my lips. It was nearly 40 degrees outside despite it being 2:00am locally. Seán could barely stand, his eyes could barely blink in sync. "C'mon, drink this water." I said flatly. "Not *hick-up* until you drink your Limennessy." I obliged, as did he, anything to keep him in check. It tasted awful, two totally different types of bitter at war on my tongue. Two similar disgusting tastes, at war. "You've been rubbing your temples for a while now Ratel, you know those Golani Partisans aren't gonna fall for the aul free A.P.C after I shot one of them in the foot and robbed a gas station they where guarding. Ratel? You okay champ?" I stood up. I was convinced. I was dizzy from standing up too quickly. I lent on Seán. How'd I manage to get drunker than him?
"Goshawk won't protect bitter Petrov, he's a lime. That other Organisation, what's there name? They're bitter too, they'll think this is his fault. He's probably at the hotel bar. We gotta move!" Seán seemed to wrestle with the idea. "We're the salt, we've got one shot. Petrov's at the Hellas Hotel Bar, drinking alone." Seán laughed aloud. "We should go drinking together more often Hannes, you don't mind me calling you Hannes?" I broke the window of a Civ car. Hindsight, thank G*d it didn't have an alarm. "Hannes is fine buddy. Wanna know what Ratel means? Three guesses." I cleared the glass and opened Seáns door. "I already know, it's Honey Badger right? I'm a spook Hannes. I gotta know." I sparked the Turaco Estate into life. "Okay then spook, how old am I?" Seán stroked his wee wisp of chin hair. "Hmm... 59?" he asked, with painful sincerity. "Asshole!" I floored it, again in hindsight miraculously through the empty streets uphill towards the Hellas Hotel.
The Hellas Hotel looked like a half abandoned apartment block from the outside but it was designed to look that way. It was for Prio Civ's and Military higher ups. Tonight was surely one of utter panic as the Civ's downtown we're either taking back the night and partying downtown or soberly electing new leaders. It was sure to be the Day of a Thousand Hangovers once the sun came up. We stood on a long automated foot bridge and into the Western side of the valley. Pastel blue, pink, green and yellow lights danced off the natural and automated waterfalls down the tunnel. We'd to hop off to the left or risk entering the main entrance. We took the precariously high and slippery maintenance entrance. Locked. Seán began banging on the door and screaming like a toddler in Hebrew. Soon the door was open and a gun was held to our attendant.
He lead us into the car park. A neon green-yellow Lap-Brillig Roadster, a jet black Korp-Borogove luxury sedan and a white platinum NG Momerath Speedster. At least we had our choice of get away vehicles. As I marveled at the cars Seán spoke to the young attendant in Hebrew and all seemed well. It seemed he'd agreed to keep quiet. He handed Seán a keycard and called out to Seán in Hebrew mirthfully. As we stepped into the elevator Seán pushed five and seven together followed by another four digits. I took another swing of my Limennesy as the elevator jerked back, slid to the left and rose rapidly. The door opened on a resplendent hall and the faint sound of a grown man crying.
*knock, knock, knock*
"*sniffling* Go away! Can you not read the sign? Do not disturb!" It wasn't Petrov. He sounded kinda German. "Commander Lange, this is Seán Murphy and my associate..." Seán looked to me. "Ehh... Professor le Roux of..." I could hear him assembling his gun. I then motioned to Seán to step out of the way. He was already wandering down the hallway trying to light a smoke and balance his giant can of Gold Star. The door was blasted to shreds. "Ha! No one gets the drop on La..." Seán breezed past him and into his room, still trying to light his cigarette. "Would you giz a hand Commander?" I followed him into his dark hotel room.
As Lange lit Seán's cigarette I couldn't help but notice the light pouring in from behind his heavy purple velvet curtains. Outside the window was a glowing neon street filled with all sorts, all in one long plaza; triple x stuff, gambling, fighting, all sorts of brightly lit sordid entertainment. All buried deep beneath the sun baked hills. This bizarre neon wonderland was absolutely astonishing. "Where is he, where is General Petrov!?" Lange didn't look very intimidating in his light blue silken bathrobe as Seán casually scratched his eyebrow with his engraved silver handgun and rooted through the room for anything interesting. "Close the curtains Ratel, there's cameras everywhere."
I shut them quick. Oh G*d I felt like I was gonna throw up, too much info and alcohol all at once. "He's gambling at the Blackest Red, he told me to wait here. He's in a bad place, sure we're all in a bad place but he's gone... But hey! You guys! You guys are from Dr. Kelly's very first squad! Pardon me, I'm so sorry, you're Irish, it's just that his name is hard to say, Dr. O'Ceallaigh? Is that right?" Seán finished his can of Gold Star. "Ehh... Right right." This fay man seemed relieved. "So when's he due back? We need to talk with him, urgent business." asked Seán cracking open his last can of Gold Star. "Gimme one second, I'll call him." Seán snatched the slick new Crane AP10S from his hand. "Lange! You just broke my hot streak! I'm down 10,000cc! Come down here Lange before I kill someone!" roared a drunken Petrov through Langes fancy AP10S's speakerphone. Seán nodded towards the phone whispering car park and aiming his gun at his privates. "Ehh... Sorry to hear that General, will you meet me in the car garage? I'm stu..." Seán rammed his pistol into his nads. "Huh... Fine, meet me there in ten minutes. I need a bit of relief. Bring the ball gag." Lange began to sob. "Shall we finish this up? Or would you rather let him go?" asked Seán, with a fistful of Langes grey-blonde hair. He looked too pathetic. "Let's just tie him up. Where's that ball gag gimp?!"
We managed to get to the Car Park before Petrov. The attendant let us hide out in his booth. I hadn't heard what Seán had said that made him so on board with all of this but this night was crazy enough as it was without any more hows and whys. Soon Petrov stood near the elevator. He was dressed in a tuxedo, his red eye piercing through the gloom. "Flank left. I'll approach him unarmed. I'll have my pistol behind me. Be ready to take the shot. He's unpredictable." I took a hi-vis jacket and exited the booth. I could see Seán approach him, casual as you like. I could also see that Petrov recognised him but couldn't quite place him. Once Seán was in range he hopped up on to him and around his back. Petrov tried reaching for his pistol but Seán kicked it clean out of his hands. "Grab a motor! Now! Ner, car keys!" I seen a purple N.F.M Truck light up and caught the keys Ner, the attendant threw to me. I opened the trunk and found a shotgun and a crate of grenades. I could hear Seán strangle the life out of Petrov but I was mesmerised by the sight of the behemoth truck/tank. "A little help!?" We bundled in a semi conscious General Petrov into the back seat. Ner hopped in too. After a few failed attempts by Seán then myself, Ner took the wheel and we where out of there, south bound, tearing into the Judean Desert.
"Where's the Monolith!?" screamed Ner. He was on edge. He'd been Mac Allistar's man for over a year. Our sleeper agent vintner had fully ripened. Besides his utter fury as he brutally interrogated Petrov, he'd curly light brown hair cropped short, dusty grey eyes with a small lithe frame. I guessed he must have been a fighter pilot before whatever Petrov had done to him. He had that air about him that's hard to mistake and harder to quantify. After a couple of "this ones for..." we pulled him away from the puffy faced Petrov. We had the high beams on him and he was ten miles from nowhere in all directions. I let Seán have a go. He walked around him, listing off his foul deeds with impressive diction but Petrov just stared at the dirt below him, his arms racked tight behind him. Ner wanted to take him on a drag but I called for a shot and asked him what is the Monolith.
"Everything starts and ends there, I get it, but where is it physically? Is it a place or a feeling? Is it a group. You must tell me General. There is no dishonour in telling me. No one's life is at stake, no harm will..." Petrov kicked up to his knees. "The Monolith is a place. It's also a group and I suppose it's also a feeling at a stretch. I'm done. Just kill me or leave me to the elements. You'll never understand." The sun was peaking over the horizon. We'd been so used to the unnatural heat we all felt a chill despite it being about 25 to 30 degrees. "The Monolith is the Academy, that's all I could ever figure out. The Prios, I mean the upper crust military Prios like myself are just a phase in a plan. You've all read the Fystner book I assume?" None of us had. "Jesus, well maybe start there. I wanted so dearly for it not to be true but even this scenario has already been ordained. I knew it the day I looked into your eyes boy, the day they told me to make you a true soldier. If you think you've gotten this far on luck you're deluding yourself. That's all I know or can know within their design. This is an insurance claim for Goshawk. They meant for this to happen. So now you've got your prize. Take me back to your base and I'll die by your actions either way. You had the guts then boy, have you still got them now? Go ahead, I deserve it! Your big plan went off without a fault. So, c'mon do it! Kill me!" Petrov's red eye seemed oddly human. The sun cracked it's yoke on the horizon.
Thank you for reading! So this is the last season...
Started back in Day 4,083
Thanks to everyone who has followed our tale this far.
Go raibh maith agat!
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The Whole Series: Seasons 1 - 4