"Warning! Warning! Personnel, please stand clear of the bay. Portal receiving returning personnel in five... four..." wailed the warning siren in the portal bay area. Red alarm lights flickered in the relatively dim environment as the blast doors opened, revealing a blue,glowing portal behind it. Guards began to march out of the area as ground crews prepared their fire extinguishers and hoses. Silence grew as the computers counted down.
"Three... two... one... zero."
A helicopter appeared from the portal; its body scratched and riddled with bullet holes. Its main rotor was still spinning, giving a 'WOOSH!' as it cut through the air, trying to remain airborne. The helicopter crashed and gorge into the ground, sliding on the bay area. Ground crews who were apparently in the way of the crashing chopper ran off to avoid getting hit. Metal over metal screeched as the helicopter stopped just metres from the control tower. The ground crew then immediately raced towards the downed helicopter, spraying fire retardant foam to prevent the vehicle from exploding. The shield door began to close when suddenly, a missile flew through and hit the ceiling.
It blew up some piping and wiring, causing the ceiling lights to flicker. The ground crews jumped when the sound reached their ears; looking up in both curiosity and shock; they gasped as sparks rained down to the ground.
"Oh shit!" yelled one of the crew, quickly sidestepping to avoid a piece of shrapnel. He glanced over to find his comrades doing the similar movements as debris rained down like hail. The dust settled, leaving a pile of rubble. A mini-excavator mopped it up as the crews pried open the doors of the helicopter with foam all over its body. James crawled out, giving a little call for help.
"We've got survivors!" roared a crew member, and medics ran towards the crashed helicopter. The medics quickly got to work; they looked into the helicopter wreckage. James and Yee Lin were among the living, followed by two Guards. The two pilots and several other Guards didn't make it. The medics grabbed them and lifted them in stretchers, rushing to the infirmary in the base.
The Author was taking a few blinks in his office when a knock resonated into the room. The Author jerked up, causing him to lose balance and fall off his chair. He grabbed hold of the desk, lifting himself up while scratching his head, shifting the mess of paper and dropping some on the ground. After some grumbling, he announced for the person to enter.
The door opened, allowing a rare sunlight to fill the darkness of the space. He squinted through his tired eyes, looking at the figure that approached his desk. He rubbed them, and his sight cleared up. Vespin, one of his characters, reached his desk and stood firmly.
"James and his team came back with heavy casualties, managing to retrieve intel on Doug's location,"spoke Vespin.
"How heavy?" was the Author's first question. Vespin lowered her head and replied.
"James, Yee Lin and two Guards survived with heavy injuries; the pilots and another four didn't make it." The Author let out an annoyed grunt, grabbing his chair and taking a seat. He rubbed his tired face and rested his head on his hands. He knew that his nemesis would go to great lengths to stop him from getting his character back; but he never anticipated this much. Now it has taken its toll on him and his troops.
His soldiers had been dying everyday since he launched a rescue operation into the 'Modern Warfare 2' fandom. He wondered how he was going to explain to the populace of the Kingdom, a nation of his creation, for the loss of their family members in this long battle. His troops began to demoralize, most of his Wanderers were placed into hospital beds; the main source of morale for his troops, and finally, a nation in doubt of its governance.
"Author?" spoke Vespin. The Author broke his train of thought and faced his character.
"What do you have?" inquired the Author.
"James acquired intel from the enemy's computer; Doug's final destination is in the level 'The Gulag'," answered Vespin. The Author knew this mission; he played it before. But to get to it, he had to complete the mission before, 'The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday'. He knew that this oil rig mission is going to take a heavy toll on his troops before even reaching Doug. He might as well do it; if he didn't do that mission before, he would see his army falling out of the skies. He has decided; he would no longer be holding back.
"Get Terry and Ivan to assemble a team and clear that level. Rina, Maddie and Lydia will be on standby in the next level. I want them cleaning out the outer walls of the 'Gulag' when Ingrid and the Society arrive."
Ingrid paced to the Tash's office to present the latest information on Doug's whereabouts, gripping the brown file in her hand tightly. She reached the door and knocked.
"Come in," said a voice. She opened the door and headed for the leader's desk. Tash signed the last piece of paperwork and put it onto the 'Out' stack, and then looking up Ingrid.
"Oh, Ingrid. Any news?" questioned Tash.
"Yes, we found him," said Ingrid, handing a brown file. Tash took and opened it, reading the contents.
"Modern Warfare 2, 'The Gulag'. Expecting heavily armed PCMSPS troops to guard the facility...he seems out of reach to me," commented Tash.
"The Author will be clearing a path," replied Ingrid.
"And it will be up to us to retrieve him. How much do you know this game?" questioned Tash, setting the file on her desk.
"Enough to survive it," replied Ingrid.
"Good. You're leading the charge. I'll get the meeting up right away."
"Okay guys, here's the situation," said Ingrid, feeling a bit timid in front of the entire Society. The projector screen showed a mission from Modern Warfare 2, specifically named 'The Gulag'. A map layout of the entire castle-like gulag appeared on the screen, followed by videos of the mission undertaken during the game's storyline.
"As you can see, it's quite dangerous even for the in-game characters. And for the PCMSPS army and Aryan to congregate at such a dangerous place," explained Ingrid as she pressed a few keys and a video feed from the Wanderer's server flowed into the projector screen. It showed destruction and carnage, fires breaking from wreckages of downed helicopters. Some gasped, some stared, some remarked while others remained unaffected.
"Our Author's Wanderers and his troops have gone life and limb to get this information. So let's help them get Doug back," said Ingrid. The Society Agents broke out into furious bouts of whispering, and a hesitant hand was raised.
"I'll go," said Rhia. The Agents turned and looked at her complete surprise. Cristoph could be seen trying to talk her out of it, for which she responded that she would be okay with it.
"Well, someone with experience should go. Isn't that right, Ben?" stated Rhia, turning the Agents attention to Ben. Ben shrugged and replied.
"Yeah, sure. I've known Doug for a long time now, and I say we need to get him back."
"Yeah, we'll go too. Isn't that right, Karissa?" asked Charis as she looked at her sister. Karissa was staring blankly into space, so Charis nudged her for her attention.
"Huh? ...oh, right, yeah," responded Karissa. Charis glanced at her sister disappointingly, folding her arms.
"I'll go too. I need to get myself worked out," said Kyle, stretching his arms.
"I'm bored and I need my fill. Count me in," said Ossa, looking very bored.
"I need to clear my head," said Jess, who in previous weeks, hadn't been in a good mood.
"I need some action. Count me in," said Tom.
"Every team needs a medic... or healer... or whatever you call them there," said Valerie.
"It's settled then," said Tash. "All of you get geared up. We're going in quick, and we're coming out just as fast." The assembled team nodded and walked out of the meeting room. Both the leaders looked on, silently praying for the Agents' safety.
"Is the Author over-watching this mission?" asked Ben, curious of the possibility of extra eyes on the mission.
"Most likely no," replied Ingrid. "He's probably tired himself out searching for Doug."
"Oh," responded Ben. They reached the armoury which used to be Doug's lab and slid a key card on the door's security mechanism. The device blinked green and Ingrid opened the door. The armoury was much smaller than it used to be, only having weapon racks with stocked weapons and explosives. She headed to the vault at the end of the armoury and punched in a numeric code. The locks sounded, and Ingrid opened the vault. Racks of devices that looked pretty sci-fi were found in the vault.
"This was a collaboration between Doug and Jared on Jared's 'riot gear' idea. They called it, 'The Plot Armour Project'," said Ingrid as she pulled out the equipment. A lot of these were familiar Society gadgets; Anachron device, BLAMs, Plothole Generators, etc.
"This is a non-Newtonian armour aka liquid armour. The researchers back in Real Life have yet to crack it, but we already have. When a high-velocity charged object, a bullet for example, nears the armour, the liquid solidifies, forming the armour while maintaining its light weight," explained Ingrid as she took out the armour that looked like a normal Kevlar vest. It had pockets that were clearly labelled so that precious time will be saved from searching.
"Anybody like to try it?" announced Ingrid. The Agents turned to each other looking to find one who would volunteer to wear something foreign over them. Then a hand popped up.
"I'll try it up," stated Ossa bluntly. Ingrid handed the armour and Ossa grabbed it. She slipped the armour over her head and it suddenly tightened around her body. She gave a faint yelp of surprise.
"Okay... I didn't expect that," remarked Ossa.
"It fits all sizes. Thank Jared for that," said Ingrid, handing out the rest of the liquid armour to the Agents.
"However, fair warning though. I'd keep it away from bladed weapons," stated Ingrid while looking at Ossa's katana.
"So it's useless?" remarked Ossa.
"Well, if it was too useful, we would be immediately elevated to Sueishness, and costs will be deemed inappropriate. That's where the Ray Shield steps in," explained Ingrid while taking out a silver bracelet from the drawer.
"Works like a riot shield. It should be able to defend almost anything except during EMP strikes. Those who don't like gore, blunt trauma from it should work too," explained Ingrid as she handed a few out. The Agents tried out the deploying their shields and wielding them in front as if an attack was coming towards them.
"Okay... each of you get an Anachron device," said Ingrid, handing the devices.
"The side effect has not yet been solved, so use as last resort," explained Ingrid. Charis could still remember when Doug used it the first time; he was shrunk to a six-inch tall figure for a week. They wrapped it around their wrists while Ingrid gave each of them a GPS locator.
"These are GPS locators. They help you locate your position multiverse-wide. Right now it's showing the infinity sign. That's where the Library is," explained Ingrid. Then she handed a hardened laptop to Charis.
"This one was specifically modified to track our locations and our life status," said Ingrid. Charis nodded and stuck it to her back. Ingrid then took out an item wrapped in brown canvas cloth from the bottom rack and unwrapped it. It was an M14 EBR sniper rifle, and Ingrid gave it to Rhia.
"My Author would appreciate it if you accept this gift," said Ingrid.
"Tell him I said thanks," replied Rhia as she slung the new rifle to her back.
"You can morph any weapon from your Omni-weapon, right?" asked Ingrid.
"Yup," replied Kyle. Ingrid just handed him a load of ammo for him to use. Kyle put some into his Kevlar pockets while the rest was placed in his Astral vault.
"Ready?" asked Ingrid. The Agents just gave an affirmative nod. The plothole formed in front of them and they jumped through it.
"Be advised! These guys are step up! They're using thermals to see through the smoke!" announced Terry as he hid behind the containers atop an oil platform. Smoke filled the area between the building and the containers, making a blind charge into the smoke a risky decision. Terry, Ivan and their team of Guards were laying siege to make way for the air calvary to pass through, since the rig has been turned into an anti-air missile site and in the way of the support force. Furthermore, the PCMSPS troops took the drill workers hostage so they wouldn't be able to blow the rig wholesale.
Ivan ran up the stairs and ran to another container opposite Terry. A bullet whizzed past Ivan's head, causing him to trip and fall as he ducked for cover. He then got back up, and stayed where he was. Terry tried to peek through the corners, but a hail bullets zoomed towards his position. He immediately drew his head back as the bullets ricocheted on the container, streaking sparks and dents on the dull surface. Ivan took a deep breath as he neared the edge of his hiding spot. He then quickly peeked out and aimed through his thermal scope, watching hostiles on the second floor shining as brightly as the sun on a cloudless day. He pulled the trigger a few times; the second floor was cleared. The rest of the Guards managed to reach their team leaders and took cover. They took out the rest of the enemies on the ground, making sure no one was in the blanket of smoke to surprise them once they're in. Once the area was cleared, the two Wanderers and their Guard teams went through the blinding smoke and approached the two doors of the building, preparing to breach.
"Ready?" announced Terry on the radio.
"Ready." Ivan confirmed his status. Terry planted a frame charge on the door and stood aside. The frame charge detonated, blasting the door apart and sending splinters into the room. Terry entered the room first, seeing the enemies preparing to assassinate the seated, blindfolded hostages. He acted fast, pulling the trigger and aiming his weapon at different enemies at the same time. Just as he cleared his section of the room, Ivan finished his, and they both just realized that the place was rigged with explosives. It sent shivers down their spines; they would both probably be dead if they weren't careful enough. The Guards entered the room and released the hostages, taking them out to the helipad outside. The Guards brought the hostages into the helicopter, extracting them from the location once and for all. Another helicopter arrived; Terry and Ivan got on to it as a soldier handed both of them winter ghillie suits. They suited up and heard a command from the radio.
"The Guards will disable the SAM sites. Approach to phase two of the mission," said the feminine voice on the radio.
"Copy that, Vespin," replied Terry as he sat on the doorway on the left side of the helicopter. Ivan then sat by next to him, patting him on the back.
"Won't be long, Terry. Won't be long..." comforted Ivan. Terry nodded as he watched other helicopters hover above the oil rig, dropping troops to disable the defences. Terry sighed in content as he looked over the vast ocean beneath him and the sun piercing at the break of day, with the drones of the flying machines heading towards their next objective.