Go to hell!
You're fighting against your brain. Not exactly wise.
I can't fight this anymore. I don't want to do this, but that fucking program is too strong. No physical upgrades can top the power of the human mind. I wish they would. I get up, feeling as though my heart weighs more then the planet. I slip on my dark overcoat and holster my array of sidearms. I run out to the Esper and load in. Holly is dressed in her Spartan armor, sitting in the copilot seat next to Sen. Zeta Wing is all here except Zack.
A second later, Zack comes in behind me. He winks at me and starts the pre mission briefing. God, I will kill Kane. From now on, my vendetta against Kane is more then May will ever have. "Normally, Ryan and Maximus would be accompanying us, but seeing as Claire's incarcerated, Delta squad from the COG will be coming with us." We're going on an inspection mission. False planting. It's a trap. I want to say something, anything, but my mouth is glued shut.
Zack sits down and I sit next to him. This is going to be my last peaceful time with him. I guess I have to make the most of it. I lay my head on his shoulder, wanting to break down and sob. He wraps his arm around me. I want to hug him back or push him away. I don't deserve him. I really don't. God damn you Kane. And You Tartorus. Every Shadow alliance isn't safe so long as I breathe. You'll all burn in hell for this.
Leandra is looking out the window with her helmet on her lap. She's cradling her Lancer in her arms. She's been different lately. I mean, I know Ryan got married, and she's moved on, but she's become hard to read. I look at the others. Andromeda, the silent badass, Will and <Please Rewrite>, the couple we're surprised doesn't have a kid yet, Sen and Holly, the ones that will be happily married, the missing Pian and Beyghor, dead for over a decade and still missed, and of course, Zack.
My loving husband. The one who will be hit hardest by this. These people are my motherfucking family. And I'm about to betray them. My mother is looking down on me and shaking her head. I know that for a damn fact."They're here." Leandra says. I glance out the window and see the familiar king raven. Delta is in the back. Marcus, Dom, Cole, Baird, Sam, Clay, Anya, and Jace. And Gil Gettner and her copilot of course. Those two are living legends. They sleep on their bird, and never leave it except to eat and use the toilet. Hard bastards. I guess that's why nobody can beat them at cards.
"Ok. Team one is Leandra, myself, Marcus and Clay. team two is <Please Rewrite>, Holly, Baird, Cole, and Sam. Anya, Jace, Sen, Will and Andromeda. Selen, Dom, you two are guarding the ships." I nod at Zack. Shit.
Shit Shit Shit Shit.
Leandra stepped on something that released a metallic ding. She glanced down, confused. "Oh fuck me." She murmured. "What is it?" Zack asked, looking over. Marcus and Clay, who were a few meters ahead of them, paused and turned around. "Landmine." She hissed. "Get the fuck away."
"Screw that." Zack said and moved forward slowly. Marcus put his finger to his ear and began speaking into the comm. "All teams, be on the lookout for land mines." He said. Zack lay down, slowly clearing the dirt around Leandra's foot. "Damn. NOD land mine. They did not want this one defused." He looked up. "I'll have to dig under it to defuse it." Leandra nodded. Zack slowly began pawing into the dirt for a few minutes. "Marcus, Pass me your knife." Marcus passed it over. Zack kept working. After another minute, he said "Bomb defused."
Leandra breathed a sigh of relief and stepped off. Nothing exploded. She turned to thank Zack, who was tossing Marcus his knife back, when the comm crackled. "Mother fuck! All teams, we're under heavy fire, at least fifty shadow teams!" Will's voice sounded. "Shit. Will, what's your position?"
"Two hundred meters north of you." Zack's team quickly made their way over. Will's team was taking cover under a few fallen trees. Zack charged ahead of the group and right into the middle of the Shadows. He made up and earth fist and punched and pummeled any who were foolish enough to venture near him. Soon, the teams were regrouped. "Guys, sensors indicate a large force coming towards you. Advise-" Dom's voice was interrupted by a gunshot. Selen's voice sounded. "I'm sorry."
The next forty-five seconds were the worst of Zack Sigurdson's life. The body of Dom Santiago was flung over their heads and out of sight. Then, Selen dashed by, slashing Holly and Sen across the chest and away. Well away. Delta opened fire, trying in vain to hit her. Then, Zack took in the full enormity of what happened. He fainted. Leaving the rest to deal with the shock.
He awoke with a horrified start. He was lying in the Esper. Sen was flying, his jaw clenched and eyes wild. Holly was leaning back on her chair, eyes bleary. Will was holding a sobbing <Please Rewrite>, and he was on the verge of tears as well. Their was one person Zack didn't see. Then, he sat up and a hand pushed him back down. "Zack, I don't know if you remember..." Leandra said. He her eyes were red and streaked with tears. Then the reality crashed down on him again, and he sank down again.
Time passed. He didn't notice. They landed. <Please Rewrite> was off first, hiding her face. Holly simply stayed in her seat. Will and Sen helped Zack up and carried the broken man to his house. Leandra left the ship, tasked with delivering the news to everyone. She left and started looking for anyone she could find. The first she found was Samir and Jared, looking on as Will and Sen left Zack's house, muttering to each other.
She walked over. "Leandra, what happened?" Samir said. She took a deep breath. "We were ambushed. Fifty shadow teams."
"Who was it?" Samir asked. Then, a look of dawning came over him. Leandra interrupted. "No. Worse. Selen killed Dom and joined the shadows." Shock covered Samir's face, and a defeated look covered Jared's. Leandra just walked away. She soon bumped into Ethan, and relayed him the news. "God damn...." He whispered. She found Julian and Lexus, who were just outside the med labs. "Hey Leandra, did you hear? Mum's awake."
"At least there's some good news today." Leandra said sadly. "What do you mean?" Leandra told the story again. Julian and Lexus reacted similarly, both looking as though they were either going to faint or blow something up. Ryan walked out, his arm around Claire, who looked sick. "Dad, you are not gonna believe this shit." Lexus said sadly. "Dear god." Ryan murmured. Claire hung her head. They returned to their house while Leandra went to tell IceBite.
They entered and saw Samir, Ethan, Jared and Val sitting at the table. "Have you guys seen Zack?" Julian asked. Ethan answered. "He's sitting at the bottom of one of our closets with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, Tihaar and Dizzy's moonshine." He said. "Well, let him know the Tihaar is on the house." Ryan said. "Poor thing..." Julian and Lexus murmured. Claire sadly shook her head. A certain level of guilt showing on her face.
Not much happened that afternoon. Or the next day. The day after that, Ryan found the bottle of Jack Daniel's sitting outside one of the closets. Two days later, they found the bottle of moonshine. Empty. After a week, Ryan decided to look in the closet, and saw Zack wasn't in it. He quickly headed outside and looked around. Nothing. Then, he turned and saw Zack sitting on the roof.
"Did IceBite come to inquire about it?" Zack said. Ryan nodded. "I told him to hold it off until you were ready."
"Good thing. If he did ask me, I'd have either snapped his sword over my knee or turned to dust." Zack drained the bottle of Tihaar and threw it up into the sky. "Don't have people start telling me how sorry they am. It's not their fault." He said. Ryan kept his silence. Zack said nothing. Then, a smash sounded and Zack leaned back, unconscious. Ryan realized the bottle had came down on Zack's head. He sighed and went out, hoping to find some other Zeta members. He hadn't seen Sen or Will at all that week.
He found both talking to IceBite. "Look. There isn't anything to investigate." Sen said, sounding frustrated. "Security feed is clear." Will started, his voice shaking. "She turned, put a bullet through Dom's head, grabbed his body, flung it out into the middle of nowhere, and ran off." IceBite sighed. He noticed Ryan. "How is he?"
"Erm. Somewhere between drunk and suicidal." IceBite sighed. "I have to admit, I didn't see this coming. At all. Even after that event with her before." Ryan nodded. IceBite sighed. "When do you think he'll be ready to see me?" He asked. "Right now, if you want." They turned and saw Zack walking over, a deadpan expression, but eyes the reflected a hurricane of tortured emotions. Zack shook his head before anyone could say a word.
"Don't say it, let's just get this over with." IceBite nodded. Will and Sen left. Both gripping Zack's shoulder briefly as they passed. Ryan nodded at him and left.
Ten minutes later, Zack left. He began walking aimlessly around the base. Sometimes bumping into someone. After about an hour, he bumped into Julian and Lexus. Both glanced at each other quickly, then simultaneously hugged him. He began blinking rapidly, and returned the gesture. Despite all the hell that was happening, some good still existed.
And that gave him a small light to move towards.
A Rock and a Hard PlaceEdit
Months passed. After one, Zack was able to stand being in his house again. Within those months, myriads of people came forward, even those he never really got along with, offering support. More then once, Zack went off with Samir to blow something up. He was sitting on his deck when he saw <Please Rewrite> coming over. "How is <Please Rewrite> doing?" He asked. <Please Rewrite> was stunned that he could still put someone else before him.
"Better. Will's gotten to her. She's out of that depression, but still breaks something every now and then."
"I don't blame her. I know where she's been." He paused, then said. "<Please Rewrite>, I've got enough people coming in and helping me. Leandra's thinking of moving in to do the cooking. God knows I'd need her too. I've been living off of food from the Ferrans." He said. When she didn't move, he sighed and spoke again. "Maternal duties first, <Please Rewrite>." He said and walked into his house. Time continued to pass. Before he knew it, it had been a year. Leandra was living in his house, keeping him from losing his sanity and killing himself, as well as keeping him from starving to death.
Zack sat down in his living room. Trying to keep his mind off things, he went into the old book collection and got out "A Game of Thrones". He began reading it, and soon found himself stuck in story.
Ethan was out for a walk when he noticed Leandra pulling a trolley filled with food. She hit a bump and it's contents spilled out. He heard a large amount of swearing come from her and he walked over to help. "Thanks." She said. "I never pictured you as the sandwich girl." he joked. She rolled her eyes. He helped her pack the food onto the trolley and followed her back to Zack's house. "How is he?"
"Improving. He hasn't entirely lost his sanity." Ethan tilted his head in agreement. He opened the door and something heavy hit him in the face. He looked down and saw it was a book. "Sorry. I'm pissed at the author right now." Zack said grumpily. "So you throw it at the door?" Ethan laughed and helped unpack the foods. Ethan then left, his nose aching, but he had a story to tell the family later.
Leandra passed Zack the book, who quickly continued reading. "The inbred little fuck!" He whispered furiously. Leandra smiled. Zack was reading again, and when he was that into it, it could only be an improvement. When he was finished, she went and sat down next to him. She waited for a moment, then asked; "Movie?"
"Eh, why not?" he answered. They headed out and found a movie remake of "300" Which they both agreed the original was infinitely better. When Zack went to sleep that night, he found himself dealing with the mix of a tortured conscience and a strange new feeling he hadn't seen coming. Leandra (Who was using the spare bedroom, neither used the master's) was trying to deal with a guilty conscience and a sense that she hadn't expected to feel again. Ever.
Another year passed.
Zack was sitting in the science labs. He grudgingly needed some of Tory's supplies. He began fitting a few pieces together, trying to make a new type of bullet. Tory was talking about something scientific. Zack was ignoring him. Then, he said something else. "You know difference between obsessive and crazy?"
"One's a liking, the other's a mental sickness?"
"When did you start making sense?"
"Quack. Quack." Tory decided not to respond. Zack smiled grimly. When he was done there, he returned to his house. The next day, a mood swing occurred, sending Zack into a more depressed state.
Kane smiled as he saw his best assassin easily defeat thirty of his shadows in unarmed combat. Over the last two years, Selen had proven her loyalty to him. She was almost ready to go out on missions for him. Of course, the programming put in her did it's part. He dismissed her, and she returned to her quarters.
She sat down on her bed and looked at her mechanical left arm. She sighed at the memory. A message came in from the video screen, and she opened it. "Ma'am. I thought you might want to know this." One of the shadows who had been her muse throughout the reentering the shadow alliance said. "Urec and Lund just got back from Byss. Urec walked in and kicked the ass off of everyone in there." Selen nodded. He cut the comm and she sighed. She wanted nothing more then to leave and return to them.
She'd been forced to leave her wedding ring behind, a fact that still tortured her. She lay back on the bed, several different thoughts raging about her mind. Then, a knock on the door sounded and she sat up. "Yes?" She said, putting on her respectful face. Kane entered. "I have an assignment for you."
"You will feign being a prisoner in a mass execution floor of ours. We'll get as many of the Coalition's higher ups in there. You kill them."
"It will be done." She said and Kane left.
Selen swore as she looked on at Kaven Base. If she had the choice, she would walk in, grovel, beg for forgiveness, and leave. But, the choice wasn't hers, and she had to capture two Zeta members. She wasn't sure why, but she had to. A few other shadows were already infiltrating. She wasn't sure who they'd capture. She jumped over the wall and landed softly. She instantly took off and hid inside a bush in the living area.
Her eyes locked on to her target, something that pained her. Holly. She groaned. Holly was out walking. Selen was glad Sen wasn't nearby. Attacking him would kill her. She lunged forward and extended the butt of her sidearm, clubbing Holly over the back of the head. Holly dropped. Selen scooped her up and was out of the base in ten seconds.
Holly awoke with a shudder. She noticed the unconscious form of Zack next to her. He was bound in strange chains. "Don't bother." A familiar voice said. Holly looked over and saw Selen near the door. "Wha... Selen!" She exclaimed. "I know. Anything you have to say, say it. I've probably already said it to myself."
"Selen, I know you're in there somewhere, and I know this isn't you!"
"This is me." She said sadly. "Do you have any idea how much I wanted to come back? I'm trying to break out, but it's damned impossible."
"No it isn't!" Holly insisted. "It's not their mind, it's yours! You just have to get yourself together!" Selen flipped out one of her pistols and tossed it to Holly. "If you think I can break out, you're wrong. Just put a bullet in my brain and get me out of this hell."
Holly was stunned for a moment, then spoke again. "I can't. And I know I'm not wrong. The proof is here. You're talking to me now. And the you talking to me now is not the one that kidnapped me and Zack!" Selen sighed. "Holly, I've had three damn years to try. Every second of every day." She took her pistol back and put it to her head. "I've also tried this." She pulled the trigger, and Holly expected her to fall dead. Instead, she saw that the gun was now aimed at the wall. "It doesn't let me." She swept from the room.
Selen had another guard take over and went to her quarters on the transport. She sat down, grabbing her sleeping pills and was asleep in minutes.
She awoke three hours later. Someone was knocking. She opened the door and saw that it was Kane. "Your mission starts now." She nodded and swept past him. She was cuffed and thrown into a throng of prisoners. She smiled at the fact that only Zack and Holly had been captured. It meant NOD shadows had failed to capture anyone else. She knelt down and waited. Her mind was a warzone. The NOD controlled half was commanding her body, but the her half was fighting desperately to stop it.
She saw Zack on the other side of the room, near Holly. NOD guards picked her up and tossed her near them. Her heart smashed into a thousand different pieces, she looked at Zack. "If you're going to kill me, please just do it." He snorted. "I'm chained up in restraints that prevent me from using any sort of power, or moving at all." She tilted her head in agreement. Do it. The NOD voice said.
Her mind began fighting against itself harder then ever. After several long minutes, she heard Zack say; "Why does she have a look on her face that makes it look like she's about to eat herself?" That voice smashed through the defenses of the NOD half of her mind.
She was free. At last. Then, she noticed the red laser beam on her head. She had to look like she was about to kill one of them, She whirled behind Zack and swung her cuffs around his neck. She leaned in and whispered in his ear. "There's only one way out if this. There's a bomb to stop escapees from getting out. One bullet in the right area will detonate it."
"What?" She took out a small USB drive and put it in his hand. "Watch it when you can. It'll explain everything." Then , she shifted around in front of him. It was then he saw the look of total guilt and remorse. "Zack, I am so sorry for what you went through. What I put you through. You have no idea how badly I wished I didn't have to do that to you, to the others, to anyone." Her eyes melted, she kissed him quickly, and was gone. He saw her ram her elbow into a guard's temple, dropping him instantly.
She grabbed his pistol and was moving towards the place she indicated. All this had happened within the span of nineteen seconds. She was under the bomb, then pulled the trigger. A huge explosion went off. The sheer force of the shock wave destroyed Zack and Holly's bindings. They quickly headed for the massive hole in the wall and jumped out. When they landed, Zack looked back once, then turned and joined in the run away.
Tales not Wanted to be ToldEdit
"Leandra! Transmission from Zack!" Sen yelled to her. She jumped up and was in the Esper's copilot seat in seconds. They'd been out searching for a week. "Morning guys."
"Zack, what the hell happened!?"
"Simply put, my ex-wife."
"She kidnapped you?"
"Yeah, I'll explain later. Holly's in shock, you should land." Sen landed and they ran out and found Holly in a state of Shock, Zack supporting her and having to carry her along. Sen took her and Leandra ran over to Zack. He was bleeding out of his left leg and he was covered in bruises. He walked with a limp onto the Esper and sat down on the floor in a corner. "Go fly, I'll help her." He said and moved over to Holly. Sen and Leandra nodded and went over to the pilots. Holly was stuttering.
He draped his arm around her and she didn't resist. She just seemed to dissolve. He wasn't sure how he felt. In an hour, they were back at Kaven base. Sen and Holly stayed on the ship, Zack and Leandra headed over to their house. Leandra quickly tended to his wounds. "She looked like she was fighting herself. Then, she broke us out. Shot a bomb. She was incinerated." Zack simply said. Leandra's jaw dropped. "Ok. I'll head out and give the news."
She bumped into Sen. "She's in the medlabs for shock. I'll tell everyone, go help Zack." He said. She wasn't in any mood to argue. Sen walked over to IceBite and gave him the news. IceBite looked genuinely surprised. Sen didn't give him any more of his time, and left. Then, he went over to <Please Rewrite> and <Please Rewrite>'s. When he told them, <Please Rewrite> wordlessly hung her head while <Please Rewrite> broke down. <Please Rewrite> nodded to Sen and embraced <Please Rewrite>. Sen was gone in seconds.
Then he went over to the Ferran Clan's place. He found himself bombarded with questions, and was stuck answering for almost half an hour. When the Ferran kids were done asking, Ryan came over. "Can I get you anything?" He said. "If you have a Tihaar, I could use it." Ryan got him one. "How's Zack holding up? I mean, his wife betrayed him and died now."
"Not sure. At least he's got Leandra."
"You didn't know they were dating?" Ryan seemed surprised. "Well, good to know he's back on the horse again." Sen rolled his eyes. "But something tells me he won't fully get over the first one." Sen shrugged. "Hard to tell with him."
Zack finished ecto-healing himself. Leandra breathed a sigh of relief. "Zack, are you ok?"
"As ok as I can be." He paused. "I'm lucky. I moved on to something better." He said and looked at Leandra fondly. She smiled. He hauled himself up and began walking to the master's. Leandra followed. Good thing he got a new bed. She thought. Zack stretched slightly. "Something tells me I'll be sleeping for quite a while." Leandra smiled again. "You know, you never did tell me what you and Ryan got up to in that arctic shack."
"Oh, is that a note of jealousy I hear? Let's not forget what you were doing every night, you don't get to be jealous." She said and shoved him lightly. He stumbled back and into a sitting position on the bed. "If it makes you feel any better, we didn't get up to anything up in the arctic." She said and placed both knees on each side of his lap while wrapping her arms around his neck. "Really?" he said, now sounding surprised himself.
"Mostly." He groaned and fell back completely. "Well, I can always make it up to you." She said said and leaned forward, using her hands to hold herself above him. He grinned at her and pulled her down towards him.
Selen watched the two. She shook her head, smirking. She was glad Zack found someone who deserved him. She got up and walked away. The explosion hadn't killed her, but she'd prefer it if she stayed dead to them. "You're reacting somewhat mildly." A voice said. "Hey Owen." She answered. Owen jumped down from a tree and began walking with her. "This is awkward." he said after a few minutes. "Ya think?" She said sarcastically.
"Well, we're both fugitives now. What're we gonna do?" She asked. "I don't know. Tim's?" He suggested. "Why not?" She said again. He put out his arm and she took it. After all that happened, she could use a drink and a donut.