Author's Note and Disclaimer: I got the idea for this story while still in the middle of my first story I was writing for this site, but I held off on this one because I didn't want to tackle multiple projects at once, especially considering I'd have to juggle that with real-life responsibilities like college. However, with 'Deadly Secret' out of the way, I can focus on my second story to publish!
A few things to keep in mind: this story is not in the same continuity as my other one. Secondly, updates may be a week or more apart because the fall semester is about to start, and I not only have classes to take, but I've been recommended to be a tutor, and will be employed by the college (in other words, I finally have a job!)
Thirdly, this one's gonna be dark. You have been warned.
Lastly, I do not own Hetalia: Axis Powers or any of the characters. Enjoy.
Roughly setting the huge stack of paperwork on the desk, America stood up and stretched. It had taken him several hours to go through everything, but he was finally caught up on things. When he finished stretching, America left the little office that he'd been confined in for the past several hours, stepping into one of the many halls of the White House.
On his way out, the vice president just happened to be passing by. He came to a halt, greeting his country as he did so.
"All finished with the paperwork, Mr. Jones?" he said.
"Yeah," America replied. He jerked his thumb at the door. "It's still on my desk; when do I need to take it over to my boss?"
The vice president waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, don't worry about it," he said. "Some secretary will fetch it later."
America nodded, and the two men began walking down the hall together.
"Anything interesting happen while I was stuck in there?" America asked.
The vice president thought for a minute. "Not really," he replied. "Germany called earlier this morning, apparently to remind you of the summit coming up in a couple of weeks. Congress might be passing some new legislation, but that's really the president's issue…"
America said nothing. The vice president furrowed his brow, trying to think if there was anything else worth mentioning.
"I think the FBI's investigating something down south, in… Camden, South Carolina, I believe," he said.
"What for?" America asked. "What's going on in Camden?"
The vice president shrugged. "I didn't bother to look into the details," he said. "I doubt it's anything of significance."
They dropped the subject and switched to more mundane conversation as they continued their walk. Eventually, the vice president reached his destination in a different room of the White House and left America to keep going. America left the White House, heading for his car.
He was done with his country's administrative business for the day and had no intention of staying in Washington any longer than necessary. Once he was in his car, he revved the engine and sped away from the White House. On his way out of DC, America considered where he wanted to go to spend the rest of the day. His apartment in New York was too far of a drive; America decided to head south instead.
Just a few hours later, America pulled up to the gates of an old, colonial style mansion in the Virginia countryside. He lowered his window so he could enter the code into the keypad installed on a stand just outside the gates of the mansion. The gates opened, and America drove onto the premises. He parked the car inside a garage that looked noticeably modern in comparison to the rest of the building, then got out and walked around to the mansion's entrance.
He dug inside his pockets and withdrew a keychain that had the key, and he let himself inside. The interior of the mansion was much like the garage in its decidedly modern appearance, in stark contrast to the style of the mansion's exterior. There was a laptop computer on the table in the foyer, next to an assortment of headphones, a couple of iPods, and an empty coffee cup. America picked up the coffee cup and headed for the kitchen.
America spent a few minutes making himself a cup of coffee, then returned to the computer in the foyer. After pushing the power button, America waited for the computer to start up by clearing the desk of all the other items. Making a quick run to one of the smaller rooms in the back, America dropped the items onto a shelf in that room, then returned to the foyer. By this time, the computer had finished booting up, and was waiting for America to enter the password.
Once he typed in the password, and was taken to the main screen, America immediately opened his internet browser and checked the news. He browsed through the stories with partial interest, then checked his e-mail. There was almost nothing of interest there, either. America downed the rest of his coffee, closed the laptop, and headed for the bedroom.
His walk to the bedroom was interrupted when his phone went off. Startled, America quickly reached into his pants pocket, retrieving the phone and answering it.
"Hello?" he said.
"Mr. Jones," was the reply.
America froze. That was the voice of the director of the FBI; what was going on here?
"Yeah?" America said.
"We need you to come down to Camden," the director continued.
Camden? America thought. Didn't the vice president mention something about it earlier today? I guess it's more serious than I thought, if the FBI's getting worked up.
"What do you need me in Camden for?" America asked.
"Several FBI agents have been investigating unusual activity in the area," the director said. "However, no one's been able to get any answers. This is looking like a potentially large problem, and could affect national security, which is why we think the country himself needs to take a look at it."
In other words, you don't have a clue, so let's see if the country does, America thought. "All right, I'll be down there as soon as I can."
"Thank you, Mr. Jones."
America hung up and put the phone away. Figuring that this investigation would take a few days at the very least, America then went to one of the storage rooms and pulled out a small suitcase. He carried it to the bedroom, where he went through the closet, grabbed a few changes of clothes, and threw them into the suitcase. Once he had everything, he grabbed the car keys and went to the garage. Within minutes, he was back on the road, headed for South Carolina.
America met up with the agents he was supposed to be working with inside a café in Camden. A follow-up phone call from one of the agents; just minutes after the call from the director, gave America instructions on where to go and who to meet. The meeting went smoothly, and now America was following two FBI agents into a back alley where the strange activity was supposedly taking place.
The three of them stood in uncomfortable silence for quite a while, apparently waiting on something to happen. America quickly grew bored.
"I don't see what everyone's so worked up about," he said.
"Quiet," one of the agents said tersely.
America looked at the agent, arching en eyebrow, but nevertheless, he did as he was told. As boring and annoying as it was, he would humor them. They continued to wait.
A breeze blew in out of nowhere, sending some discarded papers that had been on the ground into the air. That wasn't all; although no one else was nearby, the three of them could suddenly hear muffled shouting and gunfire. It wasn't the sound of just one gun, or even a handful of guns; this sounded like a large battle. America looked all around, trying to identify the source of the sound, but saw nothing except the walls of the buildings around him.
"The strange activity," the agent said. "We've tried everything we can think of, and we can't identify what's causing the sounds, or how to make it stop. It eventually stops on its own, but it always starts up again later."
"It's happened often enough that we managed to get a full recording of it," the second agent added. "We even recorded it multiple times; all the recordings match. It's like a supernatural broken record of… something. What do you make of it?"
America frowned, trying to think. Supernatural things were hardly his area of expertise; although he did know of one nation who was well versed in this sort of thing.
"Wait a minute," America said. "The FBI director told me this was potentially a national security issue. Why is a repeated supernatural 'recording' such a huge problem?"
The first agent gestured for America to follow him. Puzzled, but curious, America followed him back to their car, which was parked on the street nearby. The agent unlocked the car and retrieved a small box. He unlocked and opened it, showing it to America.
America looked at the contents and was thoroughly nonplussed. It was just a bunch of separate vials, each one containing exactly one metal, ball-shaped object. A bullet, possibly.
"What are these?" America asked, picking up one of the vials.
"From what we can see from testing, it appears to be an 18th century musket ball," the agent replied.
"Mmmkay," America said, returning the vial. "Why are they in separate vials?"
"Because, when we picked up the second one and tried storing it with the first, they violently exploded on contact," the agent said. "We have no idea why."
America gave the agent a quizzical look. The agent shrugged, looking just as confused as America.
"Exactly one musket ball appears on the ground in that alley every time the recording occurs," the agent continued. "We've collected over a dozen now. Any minute now, Mr. Jameson is going to come over here with the next one."
As if on cue, the second agent walked over carrying something in one hand. When he got to the car and showed it to America; sure enough, it was another musket ball.
"Okay, but I still don't get how this is a national security issue," America said. "What is the threat?"
"Remember when you got here, and saw that we'd gotten the police to block this area off?" Jameson said. "Well, that barricade was just put up this morning, after someone disappeared after walking into that alley."
"What?" America said. "The director failed to mention that!"
It got quiet for half a second, but America was suddenly struck with another disturbing thought.
"How come we didn't disappear then?" America asked. "If the disappearance has anything to do with these musket balls, and those repeating sounds…"
Neither agent had the chance to attempt to answer America's question, for America was interrupted by the sounds of someone screaming in pain. It was coming from the alley.
"The sounds stopped over a minute ago, and that was never part of it," Jameson noted, with a tinge of dread in his voice. "Talley…"
The first agent nodded, and all three men sprinted back towards the alley. They came to an abrupt halt when they saw what was causing the screaming. A middle-aged man lay on the ground, bleeding profusely from his chest. He looked at America, Talley, and Jameson.
"Help me!" he screamed.
America wasted no time in getting his phone out and dialing 911. He told the operator he needed an ambulance; a man had been shot in an alley, and was bleeding from a chest wound. Not ten minutes later, and an ambulance arrived, and the paramedics took the man away on a stretcher. Police arrived as well, but after a brief conversation with the two FBI agents, they left shortly after the ambulance did.
When the ambulance was gone, America looked gravely at the two agents.
"Was that the person who disappeared this morning?" he asked.
Talley said nothing, but gave a slow nod.