Section 4: Raging Machine

Section 4: Raging Machine

Part 1

Lia gazed off at Number 4 for a few seconds before resting herself back comfortably in her chair. Number 4 grinned slightly at her before resting his chin upon his hands.

“The ‘Two’ attacked the Vatican, as you heard, with a large mechanised machine. We’ve managed to track it down using satellite imagery and traced down it’s location to an old Soviet Factory in Russia. It is important that this machine be removed from the equation. The mission we’re currently taking place involving the prevention of a possible attack and the assignation and shut-down of the Bright cast Project will likely be stopped if we do not take action and bring this weapon down, even if it is only rendering it temporarily unable to be used. So, though you’re no longer in unit, I’ll take this opportunity to give you one last mission.”

Lia sat eagerly as Number 2 walked over and handed her a folder with her mission briefing inside, and a case holding some extra equipment for the mission. She was about to pop the mission when Number 4 suddenly stood up and walked over to Lia. Number 2 had already left the room at that point. She looked up at him.

“We aren’t supposed to get attached to our agents. But you, Lia. You’ve shown a lot of promise over the years, so it’s understandable that I’d grow fond of you. You’ve got the makings of a great agent within you.” He began to exit the room, “best of luck to you in the future.”

At that he turned a quick smile and then proceeded to leave the room. Lia continued to sit down in her chair before popping the case and examining the equipment inside. Within’ she found a new sheath for her sword and a letter, stamped shut with the FSA seal. Curiously, she picked up the letter and read through.

Dear Lia

It’s been 7 years since you began at the agency. Two of those years you’ve been working in my unit. With this gift I wish you best of luck in the future, both with your work and your life. I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to train you further.

 

Sincerely ~ N°4

 

She stared curiously at the letter before placing it back and reading the attached piece.

 

The mission: Please read the following information, memorise, and discard

 

A enemy mechanised weapon is being stored an old abandoned Soviet Factory just along the Western borderline of Russia. (please see inclosed maps)

Your mission is as follows – Infiltrate the factory and neutralise the enemy weapon in any way deemed necessary. You will depart exactly at 1800 hours, tomorrow and arrive approx. 2100 hours. If the mission is not successfully completed within action 4-A of section 21 of the FSA Regulations Document will be taken into action.

(please see inclosed images for added intelligence for the mission)

 

END MISSION: (please remember to dispose of this when finished)

When she’d finished she tore it up removed the sheath. It was a long onyx coloured sheath with a dark, gold rim at the top and cover over the bottom. She examined it close, a dull reflection of herself gazing back. Her fingers felt a lump on the other side and she rotated it to reveal a golden-brown dragon plated on the other side with eyes shining a bright crimson. She noticed a small tag stuck along the top. “Hope this comes in handy. This sheath does more than just hold your sword. Its material will deflect even bullets.”

The sight of the elaborate sheath almost brought a tear to her eye as she reflected upon the generosity of her former instructor, Number 4. She smiled sincerely, put the sheath back in the case, and began to leave the room.

Upon leaving Leon came up to her, a sympathetic look on his face.

“I’m sorry Lia. I know how annoyed you must be to be stuck on guard duty.”

Lia smiled. “I’m not guard duty.”

Leon’s expression swapped to confused. “You’re not?”

“Nope. I’ve been placed on another mission.” Leon continued to look confused. Loa almost chuckled at him, but instead continued to smile pleasantly. “I better be off. My mission is important, and I’m going to need to get prepared for it. There’s a lot that needs to be done.”

Leon continued to stare off at her before snapping to attention. “Lia! Wait up. There’s on something important you should know.” She stopped in her place and swivelled to face Leon. “It’s Jason. He’s still in hospital. Conscious, but he’ll remain out of action for a while. I think he’s being shipped back to New Gettingsburg later on in the week. You should go visit him before he heads back.”

Lia’s smile faded for a moment as she recalled the night they were attacked by that ninja during their mission. Her smile came back with the knowledge that Jason was still alive.

“I’ll go visit him. Where is he?”

“There’s a medical bay set up just outside where the gardens used to be. I think it was Tent 5. You know the way?”

“Yeah, I’ll head there now. Thankyou for telling me.”

Leon nodded before heading off in his own direction with Lia almost half running off towards where the medical bay had been established. She was concerned for Jason’s health. She’d bore witness to him getting impaled by a sword right through the gut. If that weapon had gone in anywhere else he could have been killed.

She slowly began to increase her pace until she reached a half-sprint. As she ran towards the gardens, she gazed quickly at the once beautiful building. Almost everywhere she looked there was rubble, burnt walls and floors, charcoaled roofs, shattered paintings and torn up drapes and carpet. Every now and then she’d run near a section where entire walls had been destroyed leaving a long view of what remained of the landscape around the Vatican. One such sight showed the very path the ‘machine’ she was meant to destroy would have taken. A series of still smoky buildings smashed aside to make way for the unforgiving beast that had made its way through.

Finally she made it through a set of double doors to emerge into a crater ridden garden with scolded tree’s and dead grass. Not far ahead she spied the many tents where people had set themselves up for whatever job they needed. She gazed around the surroundings in order to take in what really had happened.

The Vatican, itself, was no longer the golden source of light it once was with its elaborate architecture and towering walls. The gardens, which once hosted a variety of flowers and trees, now retained to be a barren and charred landscape with few patched of green mixed in with dirt. Even the clouds above seemed to have deemed themselves towards the atmosphere of the situation, coating themselves a dark shade of grey and letting only the smallest fragments of light to pierce through. “It’ll probably rain later” She thought to herself.

After a minute of trudging through the encampment of tents, she finally came across the one she’d been looking for. She made her way in to a sight of wounded men and women being attended to, some only coming in briefly to receive something and depart, others to visit the wounded. The tent was very long and held enough space for a safari. Knowing this, she walked up to a small set-up of desks and gained a nurses attention.

She finally turned to face Lia, a clip-board in hand and glasses half falling off her nose. The heavy bags under her eyes revealed that she’d been awake for a long time attending to the injured.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes please. I’m looking for a Jason Wallace.”

The Nurse yawned before sitting down at a nearby computer and typing onto the keyboard. “Jason Wallace, right?”

“Yes”

She continued to type in before resting back and looking off at Lia.

“Sorry, but we don’t have anyone hear right now of that name.”

Lia stared, puzzled. “But, that can’t be true. Are you sure?”

“Well, we did have someone here before of that name, but they checked out quite a while ago.”

“Okay. Do you know where he went?”

“Sorry. Can’t help you there.”

Lia’s hopes sank upon hearing those words. She was hoping to find him and make sure that he was doing okay. She thanks the nurse for her help and departed the medical tent.

As she made her way back through the group of tents, she passed a small spot where some exercising equipment had been set up. In a quick glance she spotted someone familiar and almost immediately ran over to them.

She almost lunged at the man, yelling. “What on earth do you think your doing!”

Startled, Jason dropped the weight he had and almost tripped over himself. By the time he’d regained his balance, Lia had managed to tower over him, not in height, but in ferocity.

“Ah, hey Lia… Good to see you!”

“What do you think you’re doing out here!”

“Uh… Lifting weights?”

Lia glared at him with a frightful stare, took a deep breath, and then hugged him gently. Jason was startled once again, but managed to keep standing properly. After a brief moment, Lia pulled away, shook her head and sat down at a nearby bench-press. Jason took a seat next to her.

“Leon told me you were in the medical tent, waiting to be let out so you could go back home.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I’m supposed to be leaving tomorrow, but I managed to haggle my way into the upcoming mission and be able to leave in two more days from Paris.”

“You’re going on the next mission too!” Lia snapped.

“Well I’m not going to be sitting around here doing nothing.”

“You’ve been run through, you idiot. You’re not supposed to be going on any mission until you’ve recovered.”

“Well, it’s not like it’s a mission. More like babysitting.” He paused briefly. “Except we’re armed with guns and the babies an entire city and its people.”

“You don’t get it? You’re too injured to be going on any missions, even if it’s guard duty. If we’re attacked, which seems quite likely, then you’re going to be placed under severe danger…”

“No more danger than if I was perfectly healthy.” Interrupted Jason.

“You shouldn’t be going…”

“For Christ sake Lia, don’t go about telling me what I can and can not do! I have every right to be on this mission, even if it is my last!”

Lia stopped talking and looked shamefully down at her feet. She knew Jason was right. If Jason wished to take part then he should be allowed to go without question. He was an excellent agent and a possible front-line conflict was something he was perfect for.

Jason sighed. “I know why you want me to not go. I thank you for your concern…” he paused for a while, leaving no exchange between them before lifting Lia’s chin to make her look properly at him. “I know you’re scared of the worst. But we are FSA agents. It is our job to complete any task given as best we can, especially when it’s something as grave as this.”

Lia shook sighed before titling her head up towards the clouds looming over head. “Okay, so I tend to worry about or work, even get a little apprehensive about the safety of you, Leon and any other agents I’m working with.” She turned her head to face Jason again, staring briefly at him. “This mission’s gotten out of hand already, and I’ve already had the scare of seeing you die right in front of me. I just hate it so much when I can’t help you, especially when you’ve already done so much for me.

She turned to face the clouds again.

“I remember back when we were kids. You’d always been there to look out for me when I needed help. When the older kids at the orphanage harassed me, you’d stand between them and scare them off, even fend them off if they got to violent.”

“Those were dark days, I know.”

“We’ve been good friends for so long, like brother and sister. I know that even if we didn’t get taken in by the FSA then we’d still have managed to survive and make it somewhere in life. We went through the agency’s training, made it all the way to Rank Four, sometimes advancing at the same time. This is really a first for me to make it a rank up before you did.”

They continued to sit on the bench as the sound for thunder began to echo in and small raindrops began to fall.

“Just don’t die on me, okay? Remember what we agreed upon?”

Jason smiled. “Of course.”

“Right. Then let’s not screw up just yet.”

They smiled at each other for a while before Jason stood up and stretched.

“Well, make sure you leave a seat warm. Don’t think that because you’ve advanced a step further than me that you’re going be reaching Rank One first.”

Lia half laughed at him. “The challenge continues then.”

At that they both began to walk off.

Part 2

             A long, resonating echo sounded over Rome like a series of cannons being fired from upon the hillside. Lia, Jason and Leon sat down in a small café just outside the walls of the Vatican. It was getting dark now and small speckles of stars had begun to shine over head where the clouds had finally dispersed.

They sat down at a small round table sipping coffee as they each took their time to relax in peace together for possibly the first time in a year.

“Looks like a full moon tonight.” Remarked Leon as he stared up from under the peach coloured veranda.

Lia took another sip from her coffee as Jason calmly yawned. They hadn’t spoken much the entire time they’d been at the café. It was a moment of silence before heading out on one of the toughest mission they’d likely ever be on. At times like this, what could you say? “Don’t go? Stay here? Be careful?” The feelings between the three were easily noted without the need of words. After the time they’d spent together on mission after mission they’d each come to know how they thought, even more so with the bond between Lia and Jason.

After a brief moment, Jason lifted his mug and sipped the last remainder of his coffee. He stood up, took note from his wallet and left it on the table.

“I’m going to head back and hit the hay.”

Leon turned his head from the sky and noted Jason’s choice.

“I’ll probably do the same in a bit.” he said.

Lia just smiled at Jason as he left and returned her attention to the now cold coffee in her cup. She swirled the remainder of what was left for a moment before drinking the rest down.

“You know. Coffee doesn’t taste so good when it goes cold. Better when it’s warm. It’s cosy then, and comforting. Once it’s cold it’s just bitter and unpleasant.”

Leon stared curiously at her comment, almost puzzled. “Were you trying to make a point there? Or is the coffee really that bad once it’s cold.”

Lia looked up at him and smiled curtly. “Yeah… one of those.”

Leon continued to look puzzled as Lia stood up and walked over to the counter to order another coffee. In the end she merely turned around and sat back down.

“It’s late.”

“Yeah. Jason had the right idea. We’ve all got a lot of work to do tomorrow, so we better be off to sleep.”

Leon stood up and fiddled through his pocket for some money. Lia merely stood up and began to walk out.

“Could you take this for me, Leon? I’ve kinda forgotten my wallet.” She said, slightly embarrassed.

Leon smiled and shook his head. “Okay.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.” He said, smiling still as Lia walked off and into the dark streets of Rome.

* * *

The shadow’s clouded overhead and mixed into a mysterious tangle of fog and pure darkness. It moved gently as the wind passed through the tree’s whistling lightly in he branches.

Or maybe it wasn’t the wind.

Lia stood still for a moment, shivering, yet not feeling cold. She stood still, straight, a staring off into the black fog. Suddenly something darted forward and she was enveloped in a sting dazzling light which disappeared just as fast as it had come.

Suddenly the fog was gone and there was nothing else but her and blackness. There was a tingling in her arm, then, as she looked down, a trickle of blood made it’s way down to the palm of her hand. She lifted her sleeve and examined her arm, but there was no cut. She suddenly realised that her hand was also stained with blood and that laying by her feet was her sword, it’s silvery blade somehow shining as if hit by the light of the invisible moon, and along it’s edge a crimson  liquid.

Something tickled her nose. She brushed her hand over and scratched it. Just after she removed her hand, the itch came back and she scratched again, then again until it finally left. But then the feeling came across her lips and she automatically licked with her toung.

She tasted something almost like copper. She dapped with her hand and found that she was tasting blood. Then just as she was beginning to get frightened the fog erupted again with a bright red light in trail, a blade trailed toward her and suddenly she was awake. Breathing heavily and sweating in her bed.

* * *

Lia began her trip onward toward the remote base near Russia early in the morning. She stocked up with everything she would need. Her sword, the new sheath given to he by Number Four, two semi-automatic pistols, a few stun grenades, grapple and she wore a tight-fit stealth suit with an integrated radar jammer.

The chopper began to come to hover above the lush green forest below her

“We’re at the deploy zone. Get ready for drop. Mission target is set three-hundred meters ahead, just over that hill side.”

            Lia stood up and opened up the hatch. She peered off into the sky ahead where the sun had finally set and stars had begun to flicker. She switched on her radar and input the co-ordinates.

She keyed on her mike. “Ready for launch.”

“Roger. Go when you’re ready, and note that there will be radio silence so long as you’re within the three-hundred metre radius around the base.”

            Lia keyed off her intercom and strapped on a apparatus to her back. With hands braced against the hatch, she swung forth and out with a single flip before straightening out flat and glided down through a patch of cloud cover. Once she emerged she spied the base below, illuminated well by its lights.

She carefully pressed a button on the apparatuses belt around her and allowed it’s long wing to spread out. She began to glide quickly towards her target, her black costume and glider masking her in the night and giving any possible appearance to be that of a bird. She checked the radar on her wrist and briefly switched the setting to see how high she still was. 2500 feet. She switched it back, waited a few more moments and decided it a good time to disengage the glider and release the chute.

Her body was temporarily pulled backwards as the chute quickly began to adjust her entrance speed. She pulled on the line and angled over to what she thought to be the best spot to hide. So far there’d been no signs of suspicious activity, so she figured her entrance had gone perfectly unnoticed. In another brief moment, she had glided over a rooftop, past a truck with a few talking guards and landed on top of a three-story roof near the hanger entrance.

She quickly unhooked and removed the glider, opened up a small pack on the top and removed a headpiece and a small semi-auto SMG. She put on the headpiece, flipped down the goggles and turned on the night vision, taking the safety off and loading the SMG as she did.

The clouds have shifted now and half a moon began to peer through. Below, near her entrance, a few guards talked. Behind them and truck, its engines revving, and something stowed away in the back and covered with a sheet waited to gain entry. Lia took no time to waste and moved quickly and silently, hopping off one story and onto another. She reached the ledge, peered around and found a pipe to slide down. She slipped halfway down the pipe, stopped as two guards left the building below, then finished her decent and took cover behind some crates not too far off from the truck. The guards murmured, one nodded and the other entered the truck. This was her chance. She quickly checked her surroundings and sprinted while keeping as low as possible to the rear of the truck. The hanger door opened and she slipped in the back under the sheets just in time, hiding closely to a tank hidden within.

The truck began to move and she flipped her goggled to heat vision as she watched a few blurred figures move around outside the truck. Most of them well armed, the rest what unarmed and most likely just engineers or civilians. She knew that it was going to be harder than she thought now, but she also knew that she had made it to the right place. As the truck went in further she checked her radar and fiddled with it until she settled upon a timer.

The truck stopped and she refocused her attention. Two people began to stir outside the truck, moving closely to the rear. She slowly moved back and attempted to slide out from the safer side, but stopped when another person moved there too. She turned off the goggles and lifted them up to see with her own eyes. She readied the weapon and got ready. The cover was lifted and she spurt out, kicking the startled man over. The other two turned, yelled, and a guard above her on a catwalk opened fire. The stealth part of this mission was now over. All she had to do was find her target and complete the mission.

Three more guards moved out in front of her as she sprinted towards a door, so she opened fire and darted to safety. Bullets whizzed past her as she moved gently through cover and opened fire. Two targets dropped and her opportunity to escape came forth as an engineer, obviously completely unaware of what was happening came through a door. She sprinted forth, forced a guard to remain in cover by opening fire, and shoved past the engineer. Finally an alarm rang out through the base as she sprinted hastily through its corridors, investigating whatever rooms she could open.

Occasionally resistance came in her way as she opened fire, reloaded her weapons, and darted for cover. She came to a secure section of the base and attempted to open a door. A scientist, hoping to hide, attempted to sneak out through a door and run but found himself pinned down to the ground by Lia.

“Give me your key card! Now!”

“I… I… No!”

“Give it to me now or I’ll rip a hole right through you and take it myself!” She ordered, her weapon pressed firmly to the scientists skull.

“Oh right, oh right.” He said, fiddling through his breast pocket. “Here, take it!” he said, handing the card to Lia.

“Thankyou. Now get the hell out of here.”

The scientist squired away and took off around a corner as Lia turned around and swiped the card. The door opened and she went through just in time to avoid being shot by a soldier. She closed the door and turned round and looked around the control room.

A series of computers lined up, some activated and showing their camera views. She walked over calmly and began to hack in to the system in order to find her target. There was banging on the door behind her as she tapped away at the keyboard until she finally stumbled upon what she was looking for.

The banging got louder as she stood up, went to the door and prepared to make her way through. Suddenly the door opened and two grenades fell through. She cursed her luck, sprinted around as low as possible and startled the three soldiers outside. Without bother to assault them, she knocked them down as she ran past, shot two other behind them, and darted around a corner, gun shots sounding behind her with bullets just whizzing past. She took another turn, swiped the key card, kicked over two more soldiers, and ended up throwing the SMG at another to stop him from getting a clean shot.

After more running and dodging between fire fights, Lia made it to her destination. The large barred double door stood between her and her target and with a facial recognition and fingerprint scanner to open it she had no way of getting through. With quick thinking, she spied a vent above her. Voices sounded behind her as she quickly unlatched her grapple, shot the vent and fire it up into the hole before scrambling quickly to get in. She hid inside as a guard moved up to the spot she once stood, muttered something and turned back to search once again. With a sigh of relief, she began to move through the narrow vent to her target in the next room.

She found another opening in the vent and with a little effort and a gun, managed to break it open. She carefully descended from there once again with her grapple, checking her surroundings. The room was dark and badly lit, so she flicked on her goggles and found herself staring right at the large monstrosity she was meant to find; a large mechanic war machine, standing at least 45 meters tall, bulky and deadly and armed to the teeth with a serious armament.

Lia swung forward and landed herself on the wide open top of the machine and began to look around for a way to get into it, or something else she could get to in order to disable it. Finally she found a latch which she assumed would lead inside the machine. She bent down and fiddled with the lock, then suddenly found herself being pulled back.

She kicked off her attacker and drew her gun with lighting speed. Suddenly the lights came on and her vision was filled with a bright light. She stumbled, flicked off the goggles, and let her eyes readjust.

“You just keep interfering.” Came a familiar voice.

Lia’s eyes refocused and a figure came into view. By the time she’d managed to realise who it was it was little too late.

Part 3

Lia jumped out of the way in time to avoid being run through, but at a price, she slid back and dropped her gun off the edge. She finally recognised the figure to be the same ninja that had assaulted her back on her last mission.

The Ninja stood his ground, staring at Lia as she hefted herself back up.

“You should leave now before I have to hurt you.”

Lia wiped a small speck of blood of her lip and withdrew her sword, her eyes not being taken off the Ninja.

The Ninja sighed. “Look, I didn’t have to kill you before, but this time if you don’t get out of my way I will have no other choice! Leave now!”

“Maybe I don’t want to leave?” Sneered Lia. “Maybe I want to stay so I can complete my objective.” They both began to move slowly in a circle. “There’s just one difference. If you don’t get out of my way then I will have to kill you, no questions asked. Though, after what you did to Jason I might just kill you anyway!”

She then charged the Ninja, yelling, her sword aimed high and ready to strike or counter. The Ninja withdrew his sword and braced himself, knocking Lia’s weapon out of the way as soon as she was in range. He knocked her off balance, but instead found himself falling into Lia’s trap, the heavy force of her knee colliding into his chest. Lia landed gracefully, re-levelled her sword, and while the Ninja was off balance she striked out again, aiming right for his chest. By quick luck, the sword was knocked out of the way and, forcing Lia to have to move out of the way or else risk being counter-attacked. She stood her ground, prepping herself as the Ninja rolled back and pushed himself back up in an almost crouching position, his sword back and stretching level across his body length, his front leg straight.

Once again they began to slowly circle as they stared each other down and planned yet another attack.

“You know what I don’t understand. Back at the castle. You were against the Three. You killed one of them and stole their package. So why are you attempting to stop me from brining down their weapon if you’re against them?” There was no answer as they continued to circling. Suddenly the answer snapped in Lia’s head. “Ah, I see now. You’re a mercenary!”

The Ninja changed stance and charged Lia, his sword held still in the same kind of position. Lia back peddled, then jolted forth to knock the weapon away, but as soon as her sword nicked her opponents, the Ninja shifted aside and threw a pelt to the ground. A suddenly flash of light appeared and which caused her to lose her balance and stumble.

“So you got it right. Which I assume you realise is why I can’t allow you to damage this machine.”

Lia peered around the hanger to try and pinpoint where her foe had gone but could not. She readied her weapon, listening carefully.

“So, Lia. Do you still want to try and put a stop to this operation? Or do you wish to leave me with no other choice but to run you through?”

“How… How do you know my name?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”

“Then who are you?”

“A mercenary… And not a cheap one either.”

“Oh really? If you’re so good, then why haven’t I heard of you? Or even seen you before for that matter?” She paused, smiling. “If you’re so good, why haven’t you killed me yet?”

Suddenly a light thud sounded behind her as she turned just I time to see the Ninja charging. She levels her weapon, flicked the Ninja’s sword out of the way and kicked him.

“You’re not really trying, are you?” She said mockingly.

The Ninja made no comment, instead got up and charge again. Once again they engaged in combat with each of them exchanging blows with their swords, neither one letting the other get the upper hand.

Suddenly, as a test, Lia pretended to fumble and lose her balance, leaving her gut wide open for a direct and potentially fatal attack. The opening lasted easily a full second, yet I the time, the Ninja did nothing but parry her sword and keep his distance.

Lia sneered. “Are you trying to toy with me? You could have spit me open then!”

She rushed out in anger, parried with her sword and kicked when an opening came by. Suddenly she noticed why the Ninja wasn’t holding back. A hatch had opened on the opposite end of the machine and people were climbing in. The Ninja must’ve noticed that she knew because as soon as her attention diverted one last time he threw another pelt down and used it to get between Lia and the hatch.

Lia turned and faced the Ninja, analysed her position and attacked. The Ninja was just about to make his counterattack when bullets streamed by. Three soldiers had taken position on top the catwalk and were doing their best to take aim. Lia withdrew her gun, aimed, and landed perfect rounds into each soldier, her sword still kept ready in case the Ninja attacked. Suddenly she lost her footing as the machine below began to come alive. Both Lia and the Ninja stumbled as the machine began to take off, light starting to stream in from massive lights outside. Suddenly a spark of light hit the ground and the Ninja had once again disappeared, the hatch that was behind him closed. Two more guards appeared, shooting at Lia. She opened fire as she ran to the hatch and attempted to open it, but found herself locked outside. She aimed her gun, fired, and managed to bring down the net to guard just before she was almost flung off the side by the quick acceleration of the machine.

Her mission had began to take a sudden turn for thew worst with her objective taking off, leaving the facility it came from in the distance with Lia holding on as tightly as possible, slowly leveraging herself upward. Her last gun was gone, leaving only her sword. With a grunt she urged herself back up towards the hatch and bregan to try and open it once again. After a moment of pulling as hard as possible, she began to eye off the hatch while pondering how she could get inside. Finally, she set her eyes on her grenades. Even if they were just Stun grenades, they could still pack a decent punch.

With final effort, she put back her sword, unclipped the grenades, laid them out neatly along the hatch and once she was prepped for escape, she pulled each pin out as quickly as possible and scurried to safety. A resonating thud sounded behind her only a few meters away causing a ringing sound to hit her ears with the force of a tidal wave. She lay flat out; ears clasped shut by her hands as she slowly began to slide off the machine once again. Forcing herself to regain her grip, she scuffled forward again and grabbed onto a bulky section jotting out.

Behind her the hatch had been dislodged by the impact, just enough so it could be levered upon. Being careful about it, Lia slipped back the hatch and withdrew her sword just as another sound entered her head.

“Lia… can you hear me? Lia, respond… are you doing?”

            She tapped her mike a few times and finally managed to get it working.

“Target managed to engage and depart facility. I’m trying to get inside now and disable it. How much time do I have until it reaches it destination.

“About fifty miles out. E.T.A. 1 hour.”

            “Well, that’s not so bad.”

“Be careful, Lia. That thing has a mighty powerful artillery gun. It could start attacking much sooner and we don’t know how much faster it really can go! Stop it now!”

            “Roger.”

She jabbed her sword deep under the hatch and began to pry it open, exerting almost every ounce of force she had until finally two little bolts popped out and the hatch flew upon with them. Quickly she moved over and down the hatch, her sword at the ready, and five completely startled men inside. One withdrew his gun but to no avail. With quick agility Lia ran him threw, tossed him aside like a rag doll and engaged the remaining four.

The machine was under her command. All she needed to do now was find a way to stop its advance. She moved over, shoved aside a dead guard and took control over the controls.

“Target is still moving and is gaining speed! Stop it before it gets too close!”

            “We’ve got trouble! This thing has been set on autopilot and the controls have been locked. I can’t stop it!”

“Okay, keep calm. There’s too options. One if finding an override that will regain control over the machine. The other is to find where it’s power is coming from and destroy it! But there’s no telling how much time you’ll have to get out if you try and destroy it that way.”

Lia paused to ponder the options. She reviewed the control desk in front of her and decided it would be too hard to locate it. Spotting a grenade on one of the dead guards, she hopped out of her seat, grabbed it and started to find the best position to plant to and disable the machine.

A sudden jolt forward cause Lia to lose her footing and fall over, the grenade falling out of her hand as she banged against the side of a compartment and felt her vision go blank and a faint trickle of blood drip down her forehead.

The machine began to speed up more and more while Lia attempted to get back up without falling over again. The velocity had become too high for her to keep steady now, leaving her with crawling as her only option.

`As she grabbed the grenade again and began to crawl over to a hatch labelled “Engines” she began to realise that to disable the machine like this with a live grenade while it still went at this speed meant leaving her with no escape. Suddenly the dream she’d had the previous night had began to make sense.

She opened the hatch with her sword and began to stare at the loud engines underneath. For some reason, rather than concerning herself about dying in order to complete her mission, she pondered about just how much pollution the machine was generating from the huge excess of fuel it required to make it operate as it did. Or maybe it didn’t use fuel, but it’s own electric generators to power it? She shook her head at that thought, knowing that the machine would need to be much bigger in order to have enough of such a generator to power the whole thing.

A voice finally snapped her back into focus. “Lia, hurry! It’s almost in attacking distance!”

She stared one last time at the engine, slipped her sword back into its sheath and looped her finger through the pin.

“K.I.A.” She said, pondering the acronym. “I wonder what will really end up on my tomb-stone?”

At that she prepared to pull the pin, but suddenly the machine jetted forward once again, knocking Lia back again, this time hitting her head sharply against the side of the wall, knocking her out.

Part 4

The engines roared loudly within the massive, metallic war machine. Its steely interior encompassed with electronics running against the interior walls.

Nightwolf, or Damien as he was known outside of his disguise, watched carefully from the shadows as Lia stared down into the engine pit and began to get ready to pull the pin. He thought rapidly as she did, pondering what to do. In one hand, he had to protect the war machine at all costs. In the other, he had to keep Lia safe. Neither one feel equally with the other. If he attempted to stop Lia, she would, in the end, be seriously harmed. A prospect in which he did not wish to happen, especially if it were by his own hand.

Suddenly Lia’s fingers wrapped around the pin, she looked down, mumbled and prepared to throw it in when suddenly the machine picked up its pace once again with a serious jolt which sent her backwards, dropping the grenade as she did, her head slamming hard enough into the wall to knock her out cold.

Nightwolf steadied himself from the impact by pushing himself firmly against the inside. He watched Lia collapse, unconscious, a small stream of blood on her forehead. It was time to take serious action. He moved hastily over to Lia,

Hoisted her up over his shoulder and snatched the grenade.

He found something twisted in his employers actions. There was thing in being hired in the case for assassinations, but to protect a weapon of such power that was to be intentionally used to annihilate an entire city with no regard for those within was beyond monstrous.

With all his strength, he carried Lia up the ladder to the outside war machine, dropping the tossing the grenade down and towards the engine room as he did, following it with two more of his own. He crawled out quickly, dragged Lia on top, and slammed the hatch back down in time to hear three resonating thuds followed by loud explosive noisy within.

Almost instantly the machine began to crumple, its speed decreasing drastically enough almost throw both of them off. Taking no time to consider it, Nightwolf held Lia tightly and began to slide down the edge of the machine just as the roof of the machine exploded into a magnificent fireball. They both landed heavily onto the ground, tumbling. Lia rolling right out of Nightwolf’s grip.

He forced himself up, coughing out some blood as he did. The war machine had been disabled, permanently. Not that far off, the lights of Paris shone and the search lights of choppers had begun to move over. He dragged her back over towards a bush nearby to wait for the choppers to get close enough. In moments they had arrived and descended upon the site. It didn’t take long for his keen eye to identify them as FSA agents. With a brief rustling of the bushes, he gained the attention of two agents and reconcealed himself within the shrubs. The two men walked over. One was tall and bulky; the other dressed in typical FSA uniform, full black, followed him. The tallest one seemed to pause in shock, yelled Lia’s name and ran over to her.

“She’s still breathing! Quickly, we have to get her a medical unit, now!”

“Right away!”

The man knelt down and gently picked her up. “Oh, Lia. What have has happened to you?”

He began to carry her away towards the chopper as two medics ran over with a stretcher between them. Nightwolf made a sigh of relief and disappeared into the night.

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