Section 3: The Brightcast Project
Lia scrambled into the temporary bedroom at the Vatican. She dived for the covers and pulled them high over her head without even bothering to change into her nightwear.
A couple hours after what had happened, the Pope himself had decided to dismiss the meetings for a while. Maybe cancel them all together. However, Luis had stood up in front of the Pope and requested that things do go ahead, and managed to get it to all go ahead with only a day’s delay. Lia couldn’t understand why he did that. It almost seemed un-natural. But in a way it seemed for the best. If things didn’t go ahead then the entire trip, all those that got mixed up in the attack, Monte who gave his life to save Luis’s, all of that would have been in vain.
She buried herself further under the sheets as soon as her mind travelled onto Monte. It was painful to remember seeing him there, once alive and well, then suddenly have that image torn apart by his cold-dead face. Then there was Luis, who’d looked up to Mote, had to rely on him for the father figure he never go the chance to have. They were so close, and now Luis saw him get killed right before his very own eyes. Not only that, but it seemed that whatever fondness he may have developed towards Lia had left once he saw what she was able to do. She knew there was nothing she could do though. But she knew that it was not right for a ten year-old to see such things happen right in before his eyes.
Lia almost began to cry again at such thoughts. She shook her head and stuck her it even further under the sheets. Then suddenly there was some force on top of her, which then rolled over and tried to lift the sheets. She lifted her head out of the bedding to see Luis.
“Lia. Is it alright if I stay with you tonight.”
She was in some awe to hear this reaction from him. She’s thought that he’d never want to see her, let alone be near her.
“Are you alright? I thought you’d be sleeping by now.”
“I couldn’t. Those rooms are too big. They’re so cold. And lonely.”
Lia stretched out a hand and brushed some hair out of his eyes.
“Okay. You can sleep in here.”
Luis slipped into the bed and snuggled in under the sheets. He looked at Lia for a few seconds before saying goodnight.
* * *
Lia woke up late in the day. She shoved some sheets down and rubbed her eyes, letting out a long yawn before looking at the time and moaning. Though it was past eleven, she would rather have slept for longer. Her dreams were too troubled that night to get any proper sleep.
After another stretch she gazed around the room before noticing that Luis was gone. She figured he must’ve gotten up early and headed off for breakfast. Which really meant he could be anywhere inside the Vatican.
Lia managed to shift her legs up and over and force her way out of bed just as a knock came on the door.
The door opened and a very familiar face came through.
“Geeze, you look like a wreck!” He exclaimed.
Lia looked angrily at him. “So? I just got up!”
Leon moved into the room without saying a word and plopped himself down next to Lia, then he did the unexpected and hugged her deeply.
“I’m so glad you’re alright.”
Lia, not knowing what to do, simply patted Leon on the back.
“Word back at HQ said that there was a serious gun-fight that occurred here in Rome, but none of us could have known it was so bad until it popped up and every news station! Yesterday’s event is the main headline for everything right now in practically every country!”
Lia finally talked when Leon released his hug. “Well, it was very serious. But there’s been worse.”
“Worse? Lia, they say it was basically a war zone!”
She considered the notion and then agreed. “Yes. I guess it was a war zone. But it could have been worse.” She paused to think. “Even though so many terrible things happened.”
Leon looked at her for a moment before putting an arm around her and rested her head against his shoulder. “You seem really upset. Like you’ve been crying. I’ve never seen you this way before.” He started to run her back. “What happened yesterday? During the attack.”
Lia bit her lip. She would rather not have talked about it, even though she knew it’d probably help her feel better. But she had other things to do. She forced herself to cheer up and jumped up from the bed.
“I just got really shaken up yesterday. It’s nothing to be concerned about, okay. Now, more importantly, why are you here? I’m sure there’s more to it than coming just to see if I’m okay.”
Leon looked at her puzzled, then grinned. “You’re right! There is more to it than just to see if you’re okay, because it’s obvious that you’d still be fine. Good old FSA has called me and Jason to come and help you out on an extended mission which just so happens to involve the three guys that were targeting Le’ Chafe.”
Lia put her hands on her hips. “Oh really. Okay, fill me in.”
“Command had some more agents from Fifth-District to go and scout out more information about ‘the three’, and two of them made it back with very important information.
“Two of them? How many were sent.”
“Damn. What the hell did they stumble across to lose three agents in one mission?”
Leon pulled out a folder. “Insides some stuff on the mission.” He said as Lia opened it up and began to check the images. “They stumbled upon something that ‘the three’ are calling the ‘Bright cast Project’. They say it is some sort of bio weapon, and they’re planning on using it to attack numerous countries and start off another international war. Which, by the way, things look could escalate to World War.
“Damn.” Said Lia as she scanned thoroughly through the folder. “So, I’m guessing we need to somehow get inside and stop them from unleashing the weapon.”
“Not exactly. Agents from Second-District will take care of that. We’re going to take care of ‘the three’, whilst at the same time providing on hand support for agents from Fifth-District who will be on guard for Le’ Chafe, and by that I mean the father and the son.”
“Shit. This is much more of a problem than we first anticipated.” Lia said as she started to pace around the room.
“Yeah. It sure is. Oh, and congratulations.”
Lia stopped pacing and looked at Leon quizzically. “Congratulations?”
“On the promotion. You’re now a Rank Three Agent.”
Lia was flabbergasted. She attempted to speak but only managed to make a mumble. Finally she sat down to recapture her thoughts.
“Third… Rank Third? I’m in Third-District!”
Leon nodded, beaming at Lia. “Which also happens to mean that you’re going to be in command of me and Jason during the mission.”
Lia continued to stare off. Out of all the surprises to wake up to, this was one of the best she’d ever had. Leon stood up and began to walk over to the door.
“Breakfast is currently prepared left down the hall. It’s the… ‘Third’ door on the right.” He gave a quick wink and then left the room.
* * *
After taking some time to properly wake up, Lia finally emerged into the dining hall. The room had a large roof that curved to the centre, and at one end were some couches with a fireplace and a cross above it. Luis instantly noticed Lia and with a wide grin prompted her to come over and sit with him. She calmly walked over and took a seat.
“You sleep really heavily.” Said Luis, rather randomly.
She looked at him as she reached over to a jar of orange juice. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. It’s just when I woke up I tripped over and knocked into the dresser and made quite the rumble. But you didn’t even budge!”
Lia chuckled then poured herself some juice. “You okay?”
“Yeah, it was nothing. Just a little fumble. May I have some juice?”
“So, you ready to leave in a few hours, Lia?”
She looked up and over at Jason sitting not far down the table. She noticed he had a rather large scar across his left eye, and a patch.
“Jason. Good to see you. What happened to you? That looks serious!”
“What? Oh this.” He placed hand over the patch. “It’s nothing. I was doing some heavy-duty work and a grenade managed to send some rather large shrapnel my way. I’m half blind in that eye now, but it could’ve been worse.”
“Your half blind in that eye now. And you think that isn’t a serious injury?” “Hey, it could’ve been worse. My shootin’ eye’s my left, not my right.”
Lia shook her head and laughed lightly. She knew there was little chance in reasoning with him. He was certainly a hard guy to get through to, especially when it came to his profession. At least he wasn’t dead.
At that thought her mood went from happy to sad. She faked another smile and then asked someone across the table from her to pass some toast.
“Anyway, back to what I asked before. You gonna’ be ready to leave today?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t even know we were going to be leaving so soon!”
“That’s a change.” Said Leon as he walked into the room and took a seat across from Jason. “I don’t even remember a time when you weren’t ready for anything. What’s up?”
Lia paused before answering with a smile. “I’m tired. It was a rather hard day yesterday. Not to mention I expected we’d be staying here to guard Luis.”
“Nah, those guys from Fifth-District will take care of all that themselves. And this is the Vatican. No-ones getting in here without getting spotted by anything.”
“I’m not so sure. The men that attacked yesterday managed to snake their ways in pretty well. I’m sure they’ve got all the resources they require to launch a full-scale assault on the Vatican and murder hundreds, or merely sneak in and kill Luis without being detected.
“Unlikely.” Said a man near the end of the table. It was Richard. “We’ve got decoys of Luis everywhere. Marvellous what you can do with some little robots. If anyone tries to kill Luis, they’re more likely to find themselves killing a machine and copping the worst of it.”
Lia raised an eyebrow with a slight sign of disbelief. She then looked to Luis sitting next t him. Was he a machine?
“I’m the real deal, Lia.” He grinned at her. “Don’t worry, I’m going to be fine. Besides, I hear when you’re done you’ll be back here to re-escort me back home.”
Lia smiled at him, then looked back at Richard. “So, he’s going to be one-hundred percent safe, is he?” Richard nodded. “Well, then there’s no need for concern. Jason, I think I should be ready for that mission. I’ll head off to my room and prepare then. Where do we meet?”
Jason smiled. “That’s the Lia I know. We’ll meet at the helipad just outside the rear complex at in this wing of the Vatican.”
She nodded at Jason then went back to finally eating her breakfast. Though it was understood what needed to be done, she would have felt better if she were back at the Vatican keeping Luis safe. Things had already come too close to him dieing. Who was to say it’d never be like that again? But, a mission was a mission and she needed to trust that the decoy’s set up and the FSA agents would suffice enough to keep him safe from any harm.
She finally finished her meal and headed off to prepare herself for what was to come.
The sun was high in the sky by the time Lia had made her way through the large building to the helipad where Leon and Jason were already ready and waiting to take off.
Lia hadn’t seen Luis since breakfast. She would have likes to say goodbye to him before she departed, but there was no time to go around looking for him. She had a helicopter to catch.
Suddenly, about half way to the helipad, her phone began to ring.
“Hey, Lia, it’s me, Damien. How are you? I’ve been trying to call you for ages now.”
“Oh, you have? Sorry, I must’ve had my phone turned off or something. Why? What’s up?”
“Well… I was hoping we could catch up. I haven’t been able to see you in quite some time. Where are you, anyway?”
“Me? I’m… At my grandmothers house. She came down with a case of the flu so mother asked me to come down and look after her for a while.”
“Oh. Is she alright?”
“Yeah, she’s fine. We had a little scare at one point, but she’s much better now.”
“Well that’s good. Hey, what’s that noise, by the way? Sounds like engines or something.”
Lia suddenly had to think on her feet. Her quick call was starting to become an act of deception. “That’s just the boilers. They’re pretty old, but they work really well. I’m actually down the bottom right now, in her basement, putting some more wood into them.”
“Okay. Can you move upstairs for a while? It’s a bit hard to hear you.”
“Uh. No. My grandmothers rather finicky about technology. She’ll start rabbling at me if I go up there on a hand-held. Why do you think she still has an old boiler?”
Damien laughed. “Okay then. Well. When can I see you again? I… I need to see you… and talk to you.”
“I’m not sure. Can’t we talk now?”
“No. I’d like to see you in person.”
Lia put down the bag she was carrying ran her free hand through her hair. “You sure?”
“Yeah. So when will you get back so I can see you again?”
“I’m not sure. Sorry. When I get back, I’ll contact you and we can meet up.”
“Okay. Well. Talk to you when you get back then.”
“Well. You try and stay out any trouble okay. Better you don’t come back hurt.”
“Why would you say that? Lia was about to think her act had failed when Damien said that, when he suddenly added on, “your grandmother sounds like a real hell raiser.” And laughed.
She laughed back. “Yeah, she sure is. Seeya Damien.”
She hung up and almost half sat down, but instead shook her head and picked up her bag before heading off towards the helicopter.
* * *
The helicopter turned out to take a lot longer than expected. Considering they only needed to make their way over from Rome to a village not far north of Munich. ‘The Three’ were supposed to have staged their base of operations in an ancient castle dated back in 900AD. It was quite dark by the time they’d started to pass Munich in the distance. It was still at least an hour away from them, but its bright lights were still visible.
“Nice sight.” Said Leon.
Lia stared outside for a little longer at the specs of flickering light that were in the distance. “Yeah. Almost like stars that’ve fallen to the ground.”
Jason then walked through from the main cockpit to their seating area, steadying himself with one hand on the roof’s railing. “We’ll be at our drop zone soon. It’s been a long flight, but finally we can get down on the ground to rest. We wont be there for long though. We’ll be moving quickly to find ourselves somewhere to camp.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask. Why have we been up in the air so long? It’s already getting dark. I could have sworn we reached Germany two hours ago.”
“Didn’t anyone tell you?” He asked. “Hmm. Guess not. Well, I’ve been at the front helping our pilots scout out a safe landing zone and to get estimates for how hard it would be for us to reach our target. We were also instructed to wait for more orders from FSA before getting dropped off.”
“Great. They kept us up here for more than six hours before letting us actually land. They’ve really made my day. We may as well stayed at the Vatican a little longer.” Complained Lia.
“Yeah, we could have. But, orders are orders.”
Jason came through and sat down just across from Lia. He looked out the window at the flickering lights in the distance, then notices Lia’s rather distant appearance.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” She said without turning her head back. Jason and Leon didn’t asked her anything else for the rest of the trip, though they knew something was up, there wasn’t much point trying to talk to her about it. They simply sat back and relaxed themselves until the engines on the helicopter finally started to quiet down and they began their decent into the mountain range.
* * *
Their operation was going to be quick. Get down, make a three-kilometre trip through the mountain range, and then infiltrate the castle. They were allowed a one-day’s grace only if they were unable to get inside so they could wait till dusk the next day and try then. But they were FSA agents, two of them Fourth-District, and Lia in Third. To be forced into taking one more day was not their business, no mater how hard it was going to be. They would get inside.
They didn’t take much with them in the end, mostly the minimum to help lessen fatigue and give them better speed and movement. They all wore their standard issue combat uniforms with their preferred weapons.
Jason with the same knife he always took into combat with him and one standard 3 cal. Revolver as a side arm. This was usually who he always entered combat. He’d go into a mission with a few items, any extra’s that the mission demanded, and then utilise his strength and anything he scavenged for other use, like dropped weapons or even pipes.
Leon carried with him a small waist pack with optics cables, small signal distrusting bugs, cords, roll-up keyboard, etc. The ‘essential’ electronics as he put it. Apart from that he’d equipped himself with a 9mm, a few flash grenades, and a wire cutters.
Lia was carried the most simple of them all. This mission required speed and stealth, which is just why Jason and Leon had taken a light set of equipment for the mission. All she carried was her sword with sheath in hand, a knife strapped around her leg-band, and grapple. Simply, very light, and easy. If she needed anything else she’d do jus as Jason did and scavenge for items.
They were making good speed through the hillside towards the old castle that ‘the three’ had staged as their base. It seemed to have rained very little over the past few days so without mud sticking up their boots to slow them down their job was all that more easier to do, and without any time to waste, they emerged on top of a large cliff and spotted their target only another half-hour trek away.
“Okay, you guys understand the full objectives as they are, correct?” Asked Lia as both Jason and Leon nodded. “And you understand what your primary targets will be in order for us to complete this mission?”
“I’ll try and hack their control centre when I locate it. When that happens I’ll link us a secure feed to use for communications and I’ll help you and Jason find where ‘the three’ should be hiding.”
Lia smiled. “And you, Jason?”
“I figured I’d help you get two get through that castle door. Get Leon to the control room quicker. After that I thought I’d take a stroll around the castle for a little sight seeing before Leon found where ‘the three’ were then bust their heads in.” he paused for a second. “I guess I’ll be getting Leon in, wont I?”
Lia knew what he meant. She wasn’t going in the way they were. She was going in infiltrate in a much more difficult spot that required someone without a masculine body. She fitted the perfect role for getting in a tight squeeze in order to ‘snake’ her way through the more difficult defences and start her mission. Today her entrace wouldn’t be as direct as usual.
“Jason, I’m going to need you to find some keys to get in.”
“Keys? Why would we need keys? We going to charge right through the main door are we?”
“Not exactly. I’ll explain on the way down.” She stood straight up, quickly looked around the cliff face and decided upon where to make their ay down. “Okay, lets move out.”
* * *
After a slight amount of difficulty on their way down, they managed to reach the edge of the forest outside the castle walls. The walls stood relatively high, maybe 25 feet. A difficult climb to take with vertical walls, but if Lia wanted to make her way in as secretively as possible then it walking on a 90-degree angle was going to b necessary.
“Well, the front doors just there.” Said Leon. “But I think we can make our way in through that tower entrance there pretty easily, and from there it’s just a matter of duck and cover until we reach the castle entrance itself.”
“Good work, Leon. You guys, head out now. I’m going to start my climb now.”
As Jason and Leon quickly made their way over to their entrance, Lia prepped her grapple and fired it up and over the wall. With luck, it strapped itself right up and managed to get a tight enough lock on something at the top. With a few heavy tugs, she started to climb the wall, making her way to the top with plenty of ease due to the rough walls she scaled and then pulling herself onto the top. She unhooked the grapple and began to rewind it while scanning around for any watchful guards. Below she saw a series of old buildings with lights on inside and people finishing off their business before going to bed. ‘The three’ had accumulated a large group of followers in their time, enough for a mass army. If the Bright cast project was being taken somewhere else then she only needed to imagine how many more they had to command.
She tossed away the thought as the footsteps of a couple of talking men started to emit from a staircase nearby. She left nothing to chance and darted away in the opposite direction, keeping as low as she could while still running at a full speed until she managed to reach the main wall of the castle itself and started to prep her rewound and taut grapple and fire it to another spot.
“Halt!” Lia turned around in shock, a guard standing not far from her, gun poised to fire. He started to yell at her to put her hands in the air. Without wishing to be shot, Lia did as commanded, but sneakily, she instead whipped the grapple around into the guards face, knocking him off balance. The guard, unable to control himself, fired off some shots from his weapon, luckily missing Lia, as he stumbled to the side of the wall and was kicked off to the ground below.
In anger, Lia turned quickly and started to fire her grapple to the nearest ledge of the castle as below on the ground people had began to stir and chatter. The two guards Lia had run from before seemed to have noticed what had happened and opened fire without hesitation. Her cover was blown, but at least Jason and Leon would have a better entrance now with little attention on them.
She scrambled as quickly as possible towards the ledge, narrowly missing gunfire at one point, but with the adrenaline now pumping throughout her she managed to get up fast and safely to the top of the ledge. She now had two choices. Attempt to scramble up another side of the wall or hope the door to her left wasn’t locked. In the end she decided to try and get at least one more level up.
She targeted another ledge, this one further to alongside the castle. The first shot hit, but slid off and fell to the ground now a bone crushing seventy-meters below. She was starting to reconsider when a loud thumping echoed on the other side of the door. She knew two things now. The door was indeed locked, and going up another level wit her grapple was her only choice. She flicked the button and discharged her previous cable, aimed again, and fired her last shot. It glided with ease towards the ledge and hit, then slid gently back and managed to hook upon something.
With a quick smile, Lia hopped on the ledge’s side and swung over, doing s light wall run as she did. With some discomfort, she started to scramble higher up the grapple until she managed to reach the ledge and swing herself over just as the once locked door burst open and angry guards emerged only to find that she’d already made another escape.
The next door was already slightly ajar, and with only a few more floors up there wasn’t any need to waste more time retightening her grapple and hoping to reach the roof. She discharged, and ran inside, gripping the sheath with one hand as she charged through the door.
Without warning, two guards emerged through a door. Lia skidded to a halt before colliding and instinctively removed her sword and made her attack, striking the nearest with a lethal blow across the throat. The second guard, in shock, took a few steps back and raised his gun to fire. But Lia was too quick for him and used a quick slash to remove his hands before being able to finish him by running him through the chest.
Just after she’d kicked the guard off from her sword, a crackling noise filled her ears then changed to a voice.
“Lia. Can you read me? Where are you Lia?”
She pressed one finger to the little device on her ear and pulled a small microphone piece closer to her mouth, then began to slowly move further inside the castle.
“That you Leon? “
“Ah, good. We’ve managed to establish a line. What the hell did you do? The guards went blitz!”
Lia blushed. “Sorry. I had someone sneak up on me and alert the nearby guards. They screwed up my chances of getting right to the roof stealthily.”
“Well, that’s brilliant.”
“Not every mission can be perfect, you know.”
“Don’t mind that, I’ve located ‘the three’ Well, two of them. They’re heading towards the roof. There’s a chopper up there and they’re goin’ to use it as their escape! Jason’s on his way, but wi…”
Lia was suddenly distracted from the rest of her message by more guards appearing. After that, all Leon would be able to hear was the loud noise of gunfire finally halted by some faint screams as Lia quickly dispatched them.
“Sorry, what was that?”
“I was about to say that Jason’s on his way, but he’s found some resistance and wont reach the roof in time. You’re going to have to get there yourself. I hope your close, because it looks like they’re only a couple levels down.”
“Okay, I’m on my way now. Over and out.”
She retracted the mike and ran quickly towards the nearest stairs and began to hurtle upwards with little regard for the men now shooting at her from across the hall.
With luck, the stairs continued their path towards the top, and over the faint sound of gunfire she could hear a helicopter’s engines revving up. She quickly leap over and onto more stairs, bring her weapon over another guard and kicking over another as she dashed madly towards the door at the top and burst through.
* * *
She emerged onto the roof of the castle, a helicopter over to her right side, two bodies discarded on their sides. She surveyed the situation and gradually made her way across the roof, keeping close to the walls. She spotted another body lying flat on the ground, a pool of blood leaking from his half broken skull. She walked over and crouched near the corpse, getting just low enough to examine the face. A briefcase lay just out of his hands reach with a biohazard marker upon it.
She stood up and walked over to the case to examine it further, but once more her ears were filled with crackling, then a very hesitant voice.
“Lia! Look out!”
With a quick hesitation she jumped to attention and turned around to spot a man in the same ninja costume like she’d seen before, charging at her, weapon ready for an attack. Lia had barely any time to bring her sword at the ready to deflect the attack. The ninja span around, his kick just missing Lia, but managed to follow it with another kick that hit her right in the gut and sent her toppling back.
Lia went over and skid to a halt, letting out a puff of air as she hit. The ninja left nothing to hesitation and readied his weapon for another attack before readying himself to charge Lia.
“Okay.” She said, quickly making herself stand. “You want to play it that way, do you?”
She brought her sword to the ready as the ninja charged again, she deflected the blow and ducked in time to avoid a kick. “Ha! Too predictable.” She managed to also miss a slash from the ninja, followed by him trying to ram into her, then countered by ramming her sword close against the ninja’s own and turned their battle into a almost face-to-face sword struggle.
“Who the hell are you!” Lia demanded, staring right into the ninja’s light blue eyes that seemed to almost glow as he stared back into her own.
“You’ve got pretty eyes. A rare shade aqua. It’d be a shame if someone were to harm them!”
The ninja kicked back, and just as he did he flipped open his hip-bag and threw a smoke bomb right at Lia’s face. She managed to get out of the way in time, skidding off to the side and darting around to find the ninja. She spotted a shadow move quickly through the smoke, or was it two? She then saw another, but realised it couldn’t be right. The world around her started to go hazy as she coughed her way through the smoke and finally emerged into a huge blur. A figure cam up in front of her and she swung her weapon. But though it seemed perfectly on spot, the weapon went right through without hitting anything. She quickly realised that she was hallucinating.
Without warning, an arm grabbed her from behind. She struggled to get free, but to no avail. The ninja had gained too much of an advantage on her now that she couldn’t see right.
“Consider yourself lucky.” He spoke into her ear. “I’ve no reason to have to kill you.”
“Get away from her!”
Lia turned her head and saw the faint silhouette of Jason forming. She’d have passed it off as more hallucinations if the ninja hadn’t suddenly leaped back from Lia to miss getting shot.
“Get him!” She ordered, but Jason instead ran over to her and opened fire from where he was. The ninja was too quick for him to get a perfect shot and managed to disappear into the smoke made before.
“Shit! I almost had him.”
Lia stumbled forth around Jason, but ended up tripping over herself. Jason went over to her and helped her up.
“There’s a case somewhere I that smoke. One of ‘the three’ dropped it. I think it’s related to the Bright cast Project. Go get it!”
“Try not to breath. That gas causes hallucinations!”
Jason disappeared into the cloud luckily with little to worry about as the smoke had begun to lift. Lia tried to stand, but felt weak in her legs. Her eyes were heavy and each movement seemed to take all her strength. Gunfire suddenly sounded over towards the smoke. She managed to scan off to where Jason was to see if he’d obtained the case before spotting another fainted image.
Two figures; one of them standing still with the other on one knee. One of them fired his weapon, but missed. The other, wedging a long weapon through his chest, reached into the others grip and tugged the case out before retracting the weapon. It began to click in Lia’s head what was just happening, but she couldn’t be sure if she was hallucinating again, or if this was for real.
The cloud lifted and the figures were revealed. Jason stood before falling to the ground. He raised his weapon and fired at the ninja and almost managed to strike him, but blood trickled out from his arm heavily from a wound that rendered his ability to fire useless. The ninja, annoyed at Jason’s continued attempts to kill him, brought his weapon once more to bare, ready for a finishing move.
Lia tried to scream and run over, her weapon ready to kill the ninja with every ounce of rage in her body, but found even such a task as screaming difficult. She found herself slipping away into unconsciousness, unable to do anything, just as explosions ricocheted off the castle walls and lights filled her vision, leaving the only last things she saw to be Jason falling over and the ninja disappearing once more to make his own escape.
A quiet beeping sound entered Lia’s mind, and as it went on it grew louder until finally it was like a set of drums in her head. She suddenly awoke with a loud sound of thunder booming throughout the room she was. She scanned around as if there was a threat nearby before finally her breathing returned to normal.
The beeping continued to sound as she looked around still to find where it was until finally found the source was found. A small pager laying next to her bed on the desk beeped for attention, so she reached over and picked it up.
After pressing a flashing button, the pager started to display a message across its tiny screen.
“Required at De-Briefing at fifteen-hundred hours. Location is one floor down via elevator outside, door second on left.”
She looked at the pager with a puzzled look for a while before slipping her legs over the side. As she put her feet to the floor and stood up a huge jolt of pain seared into her skull. She fell down to the bed once more, groaning and gritting her teeth. After another quick breather, the pain subsided and she managed to carefully stand up without causing too much discomfort. But with each step a slight jolt made its way up from her legs to her head and it wasn’t till she’d reached the door that the pain began to disperse.
She opened the door and took one step out before finding herself in a stance of absolute horror.
“What…” She didn’t even finish her sentence before clasping a hand over her mouth. All she could manage was her transfixed expression and the occasional stutter as she tried to fathom what she was seeing.
The majority of the wall in front of her was turned to rubble leaving a view of the once beautiful Vatican gardens now no more than charcoal. It looked as if a huge chunk had been taken right out from the Vatican itself like a giant had decided to find a meal with it’s concrete walls. Lia stepped forward a few steps, peering around in horror. To her left, the hallway stretched back into the interior of the building where the only signs of chaos were some charred walls. To her right, however, the hallway didn’t stretch far at all before it dropped off, leaving the remainder of the building on the other side of the gap that had been forcefully created between it.
She began to walk towards the elevator, her face still frozen in shock. By the time she’d reached the elevator, she had suddenly become frozen again. A fear rushed her and prevented her hand from pressing the button. The sight of destruction had left her with little trust for the reliability of the elevator. She began to turn away and find some stairs, but before she could the elevator arrived at her floor and opened up to reveal Leon.
Lia stood in her place, staring at Leon, her face remaining unchanged.
“Lia… Are you alright?”
She continued to stare off in shock, then, just as she was finally about to speak, the elevator reopened once again and a small crew of construction workers poured through. Lia used the opportunity to make her way into the elevator and begin to head down. By the time Leon had made his way back around the crowd, Lia had disappeared, and by the time he turned back to the elevator the doors were already closing.
She stood at the rear of the elevator as it headed down. She refused to try and process the information and forced herself to focus on where she was heading. What ever had occurred here at the Vatican would most defiantly be related to what the meeting was going to be about. The doors parted, and she skimmed through, keeping her eyes towards the door she approached, rather than the partially destroyed walls. She left no dawdling with getting inside the room, and managed to compose herself better just before anyone at the table noticed her.
She walked along, found a spare seat, and placed herself down with little words. As she did, the door reopened and Leon walked in. he scanned the room, gave a sincere look towards Lia, then moved to a seat of his own.
“Now that we’ve resettled.” Lia looked at the end of the table and noticed Number 4 sitting at the very end. “If we don’t take drastic action now, then things will escalate beyond our control. Le’ Chafe will have no tolerance for these terrorists. He’s already set that very firmly for us. If we don’t deal with the remaining two members of the Three, stop their biological warfare, and get back Le’ Chafe’s son, then we will be looking at a war!”
Lia’s face froze instantly. “Luis… he’s been taken…” She thought out loud.
“Yes Lia, they’ve taken Luis. Last night, while you were off, they attacked with an armada far more powerful than we could ever have expected, also using a rather powerful weapon which was able to tear apart half the Vatican before it departed, a series of the Three’s troops leaving as well, Luis among them.”
Lia’s breathing increased, her heart now racing, her mind pounding like drums. All together, she was filled with a pure of rage, a hatred filling her blood.
“But there were precautions set up! How’d they manage to get through everything, find him, and take him! There’s no way.”
Lia was seemed unaware that she was yelling, but Number 4 set her in place.
“Quiet down, Lia.” He said in an authoritative tone. “I will not have disorder during this meeting. I understand how ‘attached’ you have become to Luis, but if you proceed to act like this then you will not be apart of the upcoming mission.”
Lia gritted her teeth for a moment before taking a deep breath and relaxing herself.
Number 4 nodded, agreeing. “Time will be of the essence here. We’re low on agents now. The current issue has set more trouble, globally, than we would have appreciated. Plus, with the danger of this mission, the agents we can send in are limited. Number Two, if you would please take over from here.
Lia’s gaze shifted to a man moving to take Number 4’s seat. He sat down and adjusted himself. He looked rather shabby. Number 2 was legendary among the agency, next to Number 1, of course. But from the stories of his exploits he wasn’t what Lia had expected. He wore a brown jacket with beige elbow patches, his hair combed neatly, his glasses half circles, sitting atop his slightly crooked nose. He stared at everyone with his dark brown and beady eyes, and gave off a large, almost goofy grin.
“Right! Our mission.” He seemed unorganised. “What we have hear is a plan to bring down the Three. Or more like the ‘Two’ now that one of them is dead. Is something that’s been well thought out so that we can get it done and out of the way. Hopefully stopping the Bright cast Project, returning Luis to his father, and putting an end to the current conundrum we have.”
He readjusted his glasses and started to flip through a small folder. He removed a small stack of sheets and handed them to the man on his left.
“Pass these around please. Sorry about the pre-school method of getting information across. There’s no hologram generators or even a working projector screen around here.” He laughed. “Anyway. Our targets are located in a remote town not far off from about two miles South of Prague, in Czechoslovakia”
Number 2 fumbled through a document, straightened his glasses and smiled once more. “The following agents will launch an assassination mission against their new base in an attempt to kill both of the remaining Two.”
Lia listened hopefully as a small list of names were called out. A few nodded in agreement as he scrolled down. Lia felt Number 2’s gaze meet her for a moment, staring off at her. She figured there’d be a part for her in this operation.
“… and finally, Leon. All of you will lead this operation. A troop of military forces will be not far off to assist if the mission gets out of hand.”
Lia was suddenly in some shock. Almost every agent in the room had been called upon, but she’d been left out. Even Leon had been called forth to bring down the last of the Two.
“The remaining of you will be employed to assist a resistance movement against a large legion of hostile forces heading right towards Paris, France. Or at least stage a defence not far off from there to prevent their movement. That castle we hit recently was but one they had under their command, and we didn’t but scratch the surface of it. An armada was there and our scans show another armada at a location much closer. The Three were preparing for a war. A very big war. It is our highest priority to prevent them from succeeding this mission at all costs!”
He stood up, nodded at everyone, and then looked back at Number 4 before nodding at him with a curt smile and swapping places with him. Lia sat rigid in her chair, her face frozen. She was trained for several years to be an agent specialising in covert operations, not commanding battlefields! True, she was well trained to deal with situations like that, but never in her profession had she been called upon to deal with an amassed army.
Venice had fallen fast before the might of the Three. They had a vast army and powerful weapons to support it, and to do that they had to have a huge influence as well as the funding. Lia’s head buzzed as thoughts ran through her head. She didn’t want to be placed on guard duty in preparation for war. Why couldn’t she go out and find out where they were getting their money? She figured there must’ve been further station under their control maybe in Russia, or perhaps they got wealth from counterfeit diamonds from Africa. Her mind was brought from her buzz suddenly by a voice.
“Lia, are you listening?”
She scanned towards the voice. People in the room were leaving through the door leaving Number 4 and Number 2 in the room.
“Ah, sorry sir. I’ll leave, right away.”
“No, continue to sit, Lia, and pay attention! Didn’t you hear me say that I’ve got a special assignment for you?”