by John Dodd

The man in the chair facing me is obscured by the light behind his chair, it's an old tactic from a long time ago, try and keep the person you're talking to in the dark as to your real identity. I'm familiar with all of Cloak Division's techniques by now, I just happen to think that they are not necessary for a simple debriefing.

The man rises, a trail of cigar smoke follows him around the room, Siro, an expensive brand, obviously intended into making me believe that he is someone more important than he actually is, again, a simple tactic, one that most people are not familiar with.

"For the record, operative, your name and SCL level."

I sigh quietly "Pagan, Security Clearance 4, Kick Murder Trained."

"In your own words, describe for me the way you returned the errant operatives to SLA."

In your own words, I always find it amusing, what am I to do, make up my own? For a second, the thought of replying to him with "werlkji musidk, sfjklidhe" strikes me, I smile inside, it would be worth it for the expression on his face alone. I shrug mentally and give my report.

I followed the squad as ordered to the site at which they had been told to make the drop, I had already identified several of the DN operatives hiding in the areas above the ground, clumsy and amateurish. That said, they were only hunting down low level operatives, and they had the element of surprise, and from what it appeared, the operatives were just as sloppy in their approach.

It can only be said that the operatives were somewhat taken by surprise. The approach was simplistic at best, the lead DN operative fired a concussive missile into the centre of the group, combining an electric surge with phosphoric light burst and a burst of sound capable of deafening within the radius of the missile. Only the stormer and Shaktar remained standing for the second stage of the assault, when four of the DN dropped down into the centre of the clearing, firing tranquilliser darts. The shaktar went down almost immediately, the stormer at least got one good hit in before he went down. The remaining DN dropped down, almost twenty in number, and moved the bodies before anything untoward could happen.

I followed them back to their base of operations, they appeared to be using civilian vehicles, none of them modified in any way. Following them also proved to be childs play, almost as if they wanted to be found. They continued to a disused parking bay in downtown sector 2, just outside of cannibal sector 1. I checked around the building for signs of other exits, there appeared to be none, so I began my surveillance pattern.

After three days of observing the site, it became clear that a regular level of patrolling was done by the DarkNight Operatives in the area, they had two men to a team, with three teams patrolling at any one time. Not sufficient to draw attention, not sufficient to keep intruders out. A strange compromise at best, and certainly one to suit my needs.

I pause in my report, considering what I should edit out to preserve the lives of those who were involved. My decision is made before my interviewer notices my pause, I continue.

I decide that the best way to proceed is a simple removal of all the teams on active duty at once, that way none of them can notice the bodies before my deed is done. I choose the long gun for the first team, moving to the pistol for the second and the knife for the third, in the manner, I can close on the building and leave all the bodies in the same location. It is twelve hours between changes of teams, I figure that if I take them all at the beginning of the shift, I will have up to thirteen hours before they raise the alarm.

I wait till midnight and draw sight upon the first team, they are laughing and joking in the alcove, at the distance I have, the round will take two seconds to reach them, I must be precise in this. I lock the sight on the first one, a clean head shot, I breath in, breath out, become one with the weapon, breath in……

The gun spits once, I move the sight to the left, it spits again. I see the first ones head explode and the second one begin to scream. The scream is not even formed before his head is taken from his shoulders.

Breath out…..

I am running, I can feel the adrenalin racing through me, I sprint across the distance, feeling the fury build in me, this is where I belong, this is what I was born for. I have left my rifle in the trash, knowing that no one will look there. I close on the building as the second team come around the corner. I throw myself into the shadows, locking the silencer in place as I do so. The second team passes me, they are not looking for invaders, complacent in their assumed sense of security. As they pass me, I step from the shadows, the first one I shoot in the back of the head, the second one at the top of the spine.

The fury has me now, completely in the grasp of what I see, I run to the bodies and drag them to the shadows, piling them up like a child might his toys in the corner. I grin like a wolf as I raise myself to the ceiling. There are those who say that I am foolhardy, they are wrong, I have taken two at range, they set my hunger, I have taken two close, they whet my hunger, now that hunger must be sated.

The last two come around the corner, they have no reason to suspect anything, I wait as they pass beneath me, I can feel the saliva dripping from my teeth as they pass below me. I drop down, landing with a soft thump. They turn, too slowly, the first finishes his turn with my knife in his eye, the second opens her mouth, maybe to scream, maybe to call for help that will never arrive, I'll never know, lost within the claws of the rage, the first kick smashes into her jaw, knocking her back and to the side, as she spins, I grab her and raise her above my head, bringing her down over my knee.

The spine snaps wetly over my knee as I smash my fist down into her throat. I stand, arms aloft as her body drops to the floor. I pause a moment as the rage leaves me, calming myself to the anger within me. No, not anger, Joy.

I strip the bodies of armour and move them below the building. They will be missed when they do not reappear at the end of their shift, I must move quickly.

I have already established the secondary entrance to the building, a small ventilation shaft above the rear entrance, from the plans of the building, I know that this leads to the main office underground. Dressed in the armour of the enemy, I move to the ventilator and began crawling down the shaft.

It takes me nine minutes to cover the distance to the toilets, I am sure that I am not detected. I drop quietly out of the shaft and adjust my armour so that it appears natural. The lower face mask fits over my chin quite well, and does an adequate job of covering most of my face, I set an explosive charge in the ventilator, and then step out into the main area. There are several people dressed as I am working in what appears to be almost a normal office environment. They do not question me, indeed, why should they, everything else about this organisation seems haphazard.

I move easily through the base, following clear signs to reach my destination. Everything about this suggests to me that the whole thing is merely a front, surely no organisation would leave themselves this open. I move to the control room, there are six people in here, two dressed in immaculate suits, Lute by the cut of the material. I decide that these two must be people with knowledge, as everyone else seems to be a badly dressed childs action figure. I lock the door behind me. One of the "Guards" moves to find out what I am doing. As his hands rests on my shoulder, I spin, my hand tearing his throat out. The gun in my other hand works the room like a firing range, first target down, through the left eye, second target down, throat shot, Third target down, in through the nose, out through the spine.

I pause, my gun levels at the two suits, my other hand twisting as the rage takes over me for a brief second, I can feel the cartiledge twisting between my fingers, the feeling is good. I remove my hand from the ruined mess and lick my fingers, grinning at the suits. One of them has the good grace to faint.

Not deviating my sights by an inch, I move towards the other suit.

"Details" I growl through bloodied lips.
"W-What?" She stammers.
"Where are the prisoners that were taken from sector one three days previous."
She starts slightly "W-Wh.."
I cut her off in mid sentence with a single shot into the wall next to her "Details, and no playing cute, I have no problem with killing you and using your comrade for information."
She almost jumps to the controls, bringing up the details of an underground pipeline and more details for a base deep within the cannibal sectors, very close to Salvation Tower.

"Passwords, access details, all I need to know, now."
She pauses for a second, her face going white "I can't tell you that, they'd kill me."
I drop my gun to the floor and put one round through her compatriots leg "And what exactly do you think I will do if you do not tell me?"
She almost faints.

I grin, finishing the blood on my fingers, in honesty, I prefer arterial, richer in flavour, usually warmer as well, but this will do for theatrics.

She speaks for a good half hour, and I am satisfied by what she tells me, but something is wrong, there is something that she is not telling me here. She assures me that she has told me everything. I drop my gun to the floor and blow the other suits brains out

She screams, a short sharp sound of terror,
"You'll need a palm print to enter the lab, the password is Slayer!"
"Who's palm print?"
"Any of the scientists, please, please don't kill me, I have a family, children!"
"I know" I reply calmly, "but you should have considered that before you took this life upon you."
She falls to her knees, hands clasped together as if in supplication "Please, I'll do anything, please!"

I look down at her, disgusted by the weakness before me.
"You are free to go." I say, motioning towards the door
She rises, almost crying in her relief, and picks her way over to the door. As she reaches the door, I smash her neck into small pieces, lowering the body silently to the floor. I set the remaining charges on the main console, and make my exit, locking the door behind me.

Reviewing the plans that I now have, and seeing the schedules that this particular cell was responsible for, I see that they are only expected to capture a few operatives or civilians in a month, there is no other contact between the cells except for this, so I figure that there will be one or two months before the devastation is noticed. I call SLA and make request for a news blackout on the demolition on the parking bay, hoping that that will buy some time for me to move in on the main base.

It takes me a week to gain position on the base, it is deep within the cannibal sectors, a place that even I do not like to tread. The stench of fear hangs deep in the air, not the innocent fear of people surprised and shocked, the stench of terror, ancient, evil terror. I can almost smell it as I walk. From the details that I have taken from the first cell, there are five guards on the main door, and the shift is rotated hourly, there is every chance that I could take these guards, but even if I did, an hour is not enough time to facilitate an escape. I wait on the roof of the old Marique building, a half mile from Salvation tower, it is from there that the evil emanates. The building that I am to enter is beyond the tower, to the south, but I have no desire to get any closer than I have to until I have to.

As I study the plans that I have been given, movement catches my eye from the base of salvation tower. I pause to look through the range lenses………..

My heart stops at what I see, it must be almost forty feet tall, and constructed from slayer only knows what, terror grips me like an icy hand, I breathe in once, and hold the breath, not willing to make any noise. The creature shambles slowly across the front of the tower, flesh dripping off it's ancient metal hide. It stops and turns, looking up, I raise my lenses to look it in the eye, some morbid desire for death pushes me on, as the lenses focus in, I realise that it is looking back, it knows……

I tear my vision from the creature, forcing myself down to crouch in the rubble, praying to a god I don't believe in, my breathing slows as much as I am able, and I remain perfectly still, hoping against hope that I will be spared, I know now what that woman felt, I find myself asking god for another chance, and sitting there in the rubble, I think he hears.

I wait for an hour, not able to move, then slowly raise up, looking down at the tower through the lenses. The beast is gone, and with it, the hold it had on me.

I change position that night, god heard me the first time, I don't know how he is with those who push their luck.

Three days pass and I have my solution to the entry problem, according to the plans and schematics, the interceptors who patrol the facility wear full armour at all times, and only communicate through sign language within the facility. The only people who are allowed to speak are the scientists, and those are on the lower levels, without guards I might add, to my considerable relief. It appears that all prisoners and experiments are kept on the lower levels, and live there as a general rule. It would seem that DarkNight are less than willing to risk people running away.

The documents that I carry hold some information as to what the code signs are, I spend an evening practising them, making certain that I know what they are, then make my move. The interceptor always stand in close formation on the door, they do not guard an auxiliary shaft in the main body of the building, believing (quite rightly) that no one is stupid enough to take the risk of digger noticing them. But my duty is clear, and it is something that I must attempt.

It takes me a day to gain the position on the building, I have no desire to get closer to salvation tower than is absolutely necessary, and the only way to the building is either past the tower, or well around the edge of the sector. I decide for the long route, better to arrive late than not at all.

The building is old, ruined in many locations, the auxiliary entrance is not shielded at all, and I find the entry easy for the most part. I find myself in a maintenance shaft, wider than usual, I think that they may use this entrance for the transportation of materials to the surface instead of resorting to the underground tunnel. I reach the lower levels with speed, and take stock of the situation.

The grille over the corridor is old and rusted, I expect that they consider it to be no threat to them that they leave it so ill guarded, I drop down into the corridor, moving from the main corridor to the location where the uniforms are kept. The interceptor uniforms are smaller than me, this presents a problem, all the uniforms are of the exact same size, I find it difficult to believe that all the interceptors are the same size, but none the less, the problem remains. I take one of the scientists outfits, crafting an imitation security card from the main computer using the access codes taken from the suit I killed downtown, a palm print scanner is here, far too lax for something so secret.

I make my way down through the base, I am unchallenged by the interceptors in the building, it seems too easy, these people cannot be the great enemy that I have been told of my whole career. I reach the lower levels and gain access, the prisoner holding cells are down below, at the lowest level, past what are euphemistically termed to be "experimentation areas" I see all manner of things as I pass through, plans for poisoning water supplies, for subliminal advertising, and for contaminating of medical supplies.

At the lowest level, I find the prisoners, the stormer is gone, all that remains of him is a dissected and dessicated corpse, it seems that DarkNight have no stormer project themselves and would try and stand on the shoulders of giants to achieve their goals. There are over fifty cells in this level, and I move through all of them, finding the remains of the team. There are three of them on this level, the humans, Truman and Madison, the shaktar N'kth. There are no guards on this level, and I find releasing them to be an easy task.

I brief them as to what we will have to do to escape, and we make our way to the surface via the elevator. We all have a single weapon, and it will not be enough in the event that Darknight are on to us.

As we reach the surface, I realise just how bad things were, my own overconfidence is the greatest sin that I could have been guilty of. The door to the elevator opens, and fifty interceptors are waiting for us. I draw my weapon and prepare to sell my life dearly, when, to my surprise, they move aside, forming a corridor for us to traverse to freedom.

At no point do they attempt to stop us, and as we reach the end of the corridor, the last two remove their helmets. They are the two ebons from the squad, Truman breaks line and pleads with them to return with us. The ebon that he is talking to slaps him contemptuously, and makes his way back into the facility. Closely followed by his other team mate, and the interceptors follow suit.

Restraining Truman from his desire to rescue his team, I wait as the interceptors file past, not fully aware of what is going on till the last interceptor turns to face me and removes his helmet, it is Mobus, my old team mate from long ago, a more fanatical supporter of SLA than anyone I have ever known.

We return to headquarters unchallenged, and I came here to make my report.

I pause for a second, Mobus is not the person who I actually saw, but I figure that if SLA are actually aware of the person working within DarkNight, then they will spare them anyway, if they are not, then I will not be so ungrateful as to damn them. And in this, I realise that this is how DarkNight will win their battles, who will stand against them, knowing that their friends stand against them, and who will have the heart to kill those they love.

"In summation sir, it is my belief that Madison and N'kth may have been subject to some form of conditioning, they were not surprised by our release from the compound, I think that Truman fought all the way, and that he seems to be mostly untouched by his time in the hands of the enemy."

The man behind the light snorts in what appears to be laughter "It is your belief?" he turns to face me "It is not for you to have any belief other than in the divinity of our lord, MR slayer, we will do as we see fit with those you returned."
He turns back to the light "Your statement has been confirmed by the scanners in this room. You did not deviate from the truth, and still serve SLA loyally, you may leave".

That night, as I rest in my quarters, I begin to understand the nature of the beast, already I have doubts about SLA, the way things are handled, they knew that that squad was going to be taken and they sent them anyway, by comparison, DarkNight let us leave rather than increase the bloodshed, it is a thought to consider, and not one I am best fond of.