Chapter 9: Factory Investigation

"Here we are," said Walters just as Wash climbed down the last step. He kept his crutch high up in the air as he slowly walked. There was still a little limp to his walking, but for the most part one wouldn't be able to tell that he ever broke his leg in the first place. He walked to where Walters stood and stared in the direction his escort pointed into. Before them stood a giant factory emitting nauseous fumes into the sky, and even from ground level they felt a little sick breathing them in.

"How do people even work in these conditions?" asked Wash and caught Walters laughing to himself. "What's so funny?"

"You think we have a choice of working in the conditions we want? It's either you do the work or get your head blown off."

Harsh, Wash pondered looking back towards the factory and saw that it was in quite a bit of disrepair. He placed the tip of the crutch on the ground feeling a bit of pain shoot up in his leg. "How do people survive in the fumes?"

"The inside of the factory is regulated with an air filter so it is safe to breathe in there. But for extra safety, we are generally given a gas mask. After all they can't afford to lose their slave force now can they?"

I suppose they can't. Wash looked inside the factory and could tell that there was some intensive industrial work taking place. He began to walk towards the factory only to be stopped by a tight grip on his shoulder pad. Wash looked back towards Walters who looked at the soldier with a concerned face. "I wouldn't go in there. Me bringing you here is risky enough as it is, but going in there is practically suicide. If you are caught, not only will you suffer the consequences, but your friends and the whole village will as well."

"I may not be as good as Carolina, but trust me Walters," said Wash gently releasing Walter's grip. "I can hold my own pretty damn well."

Walters reluctantly let the soldier go further towards the factory. "Remember, if you screw up then we ain't responsible for your friends."

Wash simply waved back as a statement of understanding. Walters shook his head thinking, crazy bastard. But then again what is youth without a little bit of insanity and foolishness involved? The older man walked away with his head down and a hood covering it. I hope you find what you are looking for Agent Washington.

Washington approached the factory doors and felt a sudden rush of heat wash him over. What a great time to be in this armor, he thought walking inside. The first thing he could see were several entry points, all created to scan for any inbound prohibited items. He looked for a way around and managed to squeeze himself through to the other side somehow. Once on the other side, he looked all around himself and found that some pathways led to the various locker rooms while others led to various departments of the factory.

Should I begin my search in the engineering department, or the information systems one, maybe I should start in the industrial department. He stepped forward and turned right. I guess I will try the industrial area first. He walked through the various hallways trying to keep out of sight of any workers. The next sight caused him to come to a complete standstill. Before him were several large structures that were very slowly moving on an assembly line. By the assembly line was a smoldering hot pool of molten steel. The heat made it almost unbearable for him to be there. Thank god for air conditioning, he thought activating a few cooling units in the suit.

"Hey you," Wash turned to face the direction of the voice. It was a factory worker fast approaching him. "What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be here!"

Oh great, so much for my stealth. Wash quickly jumped on top of the worker to silence him. The worker was clearly frightened by this display. Washington looked to his right and saw that all the objects on the assembly line were same. They seemed somewhat complete but had some exterior plating missing from the overall image. Wash looked back to the worker and motioned for him to remain quiet. "Don't try to run and just answer my questions. What are those things?"

The worker slowly stood up, he suddenly turned around to run but was stopped by a tight grip on his arm. The worker let out a grunt in agitation. He struggled against the grip but soon learned it was a losing battle against the soldier. Wash further restrained the other arm and said. "Make this easy on yourself and just cooperate."

"I am not sticking my neck out like that!"

Wash applied some pressure on the arms causing pain to shoot up in them. He kneed the worker down to the ground and asked. "How about now, feel like talking?"

The worker remained quiet. Wash started to run out of patience. He turned the worker towards himself and pointed towards the objects on the assembly line. "Answer me and I will let you go. What exactly is that structure?"

The worker turned to look at what Wash was pointing at and his eyes widened. So this is what the final design looks like. Smoothly shaped and at first glance quite harmless, yet it is a terrifying force of war. His mouth dropped open under his mask as he slowly stood up. "I never thought I would get to see it in its entirety."

"What do you mean by that?"

The worker quickly turned to look at Washington suddenly alert. He pulled away and began to run in the other direction opposite to Wash. The soldier chased after him, but he could feel the immense fatigue in his healing leg which caused him to slow down more so by the seconds. He instead resorted to his last measure. Wash threw his crutch at the worker causing them both to fall down. Wash managed to get back up rather quickly to see the worker struggling in pain in his lower back. Wash limped over and picked up his crutch. "I warned you not to run."

Wash stepped on the man's back causing him more grief. "Okay, I will talk! Just please, promise me that you won't mention that you ever learned of this from a factory worker."

"You have my word," Wash replied easing off of the man's back. He helped the worker up and again pointed to the objects on the assembly line. "So, what is that?"

"Those are battleships, I don't know what they will be used for but all I know is that they are being given top priority right now in terms of labor usage."

"How long has this been going on for?"

"I don't know, maybe a month or more."

Ships for the war effort I presume. So he has already begun to make his move with actual intentions of waging war against the UNSC. Wash let out a sigh as he looked back to the ships with a frown. What a sad man, to be blessed with so much power and resources, but he decides to waste it all away on revenge. A pursuit that will not end well for anyone involved. Instead he could have used it to spread awareness and help the people of Earth see what goes on beyond the planet's borders.

Suddenly an alarm went off in the factory and he looked down at the worker whose eyes widened. "They are here."

"Who is here?" Wash inquired determined to get an answer out of him. The soldier began to shake and squirm against Wash's grip. "Let go, I have to get back or else they will kill me!"

"Who is here?!"

"Truth and his lackeys are here!"

Wash let the worker go in fear of causing another death. The deaths at the space station were not forgotten as the horrified expressions of the citizens still remained fresh in his mind. Wash quickly ran to hide in the best spot he could find and hoped for the best that he would not be found out.

On the helipad in the village, a New Order transport ship landed down slightly disturbing the everyday routine there. Two New Order soldiers left the ship making way for their commander. Truth exited the ship behind them and looked all around. "Even now this place is a heap of shit. I just don't understand why the boss wanted to create the factory out here. Seriously, not cool."

Truth let his helmet fold out over his head to help cover up the various smells. He motioned for his two escorts to follow him and went through the streets in a small car. After some driving, they finally managed to reach the factory much to his frustration. Who the hell was the designer for this town? If I find him, I may as well be the one to kill him.

The group climbed downwards towards the factory and walked inside. They looked all around and things seemed to be in order. He walked into the factory manager's office and greeted him rather abruptly. "Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let's get this crap over with."

"Uh yes sir," said the factory manager making an announcement. Soon the other two soldiers left to gather everyone up in one spot.

"Get in line for inspection you scrubs!" shouted one of the armored soldiers of the New Order. Every present worker scrambled to gather into a line standing side by side. They all gulped nervously as they all knew the consequences for failing these inspections, death.

Truth swung the door open and the factory manager followed behind him with his back hunched and head low, it was a sign of humility. They all wondered if they were lacking in the numbers the New Order expected. Truth looked all around himself and at the battleships. "Quite the impressive feat you have achieved factory manager. But I gotta say, it simply isn't good enough. Remember, those are his words, not mine. So basically I was sent here to tell you all to haul ass and get this done."

They all quietly breathed a sigh of relief to see that Truth was only here to deliver a warning. It was not as bad as actually going through with an in-depth inspection that always ended up eliminating at least one worker from the group.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

"What the fuck?" one of the workers said in a state of panic. His collar was beeping. The worker looked up towards Truth who was in the midst of activating other collars. This time a collar on a middle aged woman began to beep. Soon the sounds of multiple collars echoed throughout the hall. The factory manager quickly approached with sweat built up on his forehead and a shocked expression painted onto his face. "Sir, what is the meaning of this?"

"Consider this just a little push to do better next time," said Truth as those whose collars were going off began to break formation and run in panic. "Again, orders from the big man, not me. If it were me, I would have probably gotten one of your ears cut, but I guess the boss is even more ruthless than I am. And on behalf of his permission, feel free to start using kids for factory work since you will be lacking in manpower soon."

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Several explosions echoed in the room. The once dull grey floor was painted in a dark shade of crimson red. The workers that were left alive stared in horror as they slowly started to lose composure. All around them were bodies, and there was no easy route out of this little boundary of bodies. Wash looked on in horror from his hiding spot. He had to struggle to hold himself back. This is madness.

Truth turned to leave but noticed the small tip of Wash's crutch on the ground. He found the shape to be curious and looked back at the factory manager. "You are not hiding anything from yours truly now are you?"

"What do you mean?' the man asked wiping his forehead. His eyes were still fixated on the bodies on the ground. The shock was becoming very real. Truth shook his head and walked towards the strange object. Wash took notice and quickly hid himself further down the thin hiding spot. He luckily evaded Truth's sights in time. Truth stared into the darkness with a curious gaze. He looked all around, forward, bottom, up, left and right and found no clues of the strange object's whereabouts. Wash held his breath and felt his heart beat raise. He found it suffocating to stand in this narrow dark spot for so long. Please just go away, he thought slowly releasing his breath. He then again silently took in a deep breath.

Hmm…maybe it was my imagination. Truth turned to walk back to his fellow soldiers. He turned around to the factory manager one last time before leaving with his fellow soldiers and said. "Consider this your final warning from him."

Several horrified screams could be heard in the aftermath of the incident. The factory manager was left helpless to calm the workers, but even he too was frozen in shock and only one thought crossed his mind over and over again. They are monsters.

Outside the factory, Truth stretched his arms and thought to himself. That was one hell of a bloodbath. I wonder how he manages to come up with these various forms of torture everytime. The workers will be shivering in their boots now no doubt, heh some may even be pissing themselves right about now. Truth walked forward and activated his communication module. On the other side of the line he heard Justice finally pick up after two minutes of trying to connect. "Hey Justice, I'm done here."

She remained quiet. From the silence he could tell that she didn't like this one bit. Truth retracted his helmet and let out a heavy sigh once far enough from the factory's fumes. "Look, I know what you are thinking and it's understandable. But we have to do these things to make these people give us what we need."

She remained quiet. Truth let out another heavy sigh and rubbed the back of his hair. He looked towards the village and flexed his forehead muscles. My head aches from all this crap. He looked back at the communication line and asked. "How is Equal doing?"

"Not much better than before."

"You had a talk with him like we discussed you would right?"

"Yes," she answered in a low tone. She felt powerless to help. Truth could tell the talk did not go well from the way Justice spoke. He stretched his back and said. "Justice, we need him to get better. This distant treatment towards us is getting old real fast. Plus the big boss needs to be in top notch condition to lead us into war. If a leader so distant as Equal leads us, then he will not be bearing any fruits of salvation in the coming war, but the rot our own demise."

"I know," Justice bit back. "I know…"

"Then we need to act on it real fast, it doesn't matter if we have to force this onto him. Remember why we did this from the very start, remember our goals Justice."

Justice cut the call and looked out towards the planet. Our goals…but I wonder if Equal thinks about our goals the same way as we do, or if he plans on doing this all by himself now.