Chapter 10: Their Life or Yours

Equal stared at the reports in front of him. His eyes were devoid of any enthusiasm he once had in his role. The drive to move forward together as a group of survivors seemed to be slowly drying. Even his breathing was barely audible to the point at which he seemed to be like a sitting statue. Those in front of him felt a cold sweat trickle down their faces.

Everyone in the room could tell that the look on Equal's face was less than that of being pleased. He had every reason to be as angry and agitated as he was before during these meetings, and sadly it seems they have given him a reason yet again. He put down the report while resting his forehead in one palm. His mind was in disarray. The others looked at one another with great concern, and in the back of their minds were the same thoughts. We need to find a way of getting out of here as soon as possible. Staying here with him like this will bring us nothing good.

The youngest in the room, the newest staff member finally spoke up. "Sir we are sorry for the bad results."

Idiot, don't go saying it like that! The other two senior staff members thought. Equal slammed his hands on the table. He glared up at the three before him who all bowed their head immediately. "I'm considering disbanding your investigation unit. You have all failed to meet my expectations, as well as those of several others."

"But sir-"

"No but, you insufferable slobs! You eat up our resources and churn out nothing in the end. What do you have to show for all the faith the people put into you? Do you know how many people lost their family in that suicidal attack by the Blood Gulch troopers?! All those people looked up to you, they hoped that you would be those that finally find and serve the much needed justice and yet here we are," Equal spoke slowly standing up. He formed a fist on his desk and looked down at the floor. "You were all failures to the end. Your incompetency knows no bounds."

"But please sir, just give us one more chance," the youngest member again spoke, and he bowed down to Equal in an effort to make the man reconsider. Equal walked to the young man and held him up by his hair. "To bow your head so easily is a sign of weakness I don't tolerate. I am disgusted by such behavior, especially when it is also coming from the two senior members here."

Equal walked back around to his chair and sat down. He threw the reports in front of the staff members and ordered the following. "Get out of my office and start looking for another task to report to from tomorrow onwards. Your unit will be disbanded soon."

"But please, just give us another chance!" argued the youngest one again. The senior staffs were growing both tired and irritated by such pleas. They all wanted to keep on working on this case, none of them wanted to let their enemy get away with what they did. They all believed that this was a necessary case worth fighting for. Equal looked at the seniors and asked. "Is this what you teach our young? To beg for things when something unexpected happens? No wonder the will of our people is going down the drain."

"Please sir," finally one of the senior staff begged. "It may be wrong for us to beg like this but we all believe that this is a case worth fighting for. No one on the team wishes to fail, no one wants to let them walk away so freely."

Equal stood up and drew a gun from under the desk. He pointed it at one of the senior staff members. He inched closer and rested the barrel on the head of that person. "Why the hell should I trust you people after all the broken promises?"

"We know we have failed you many times sir."

"So why should I believe you this time?"

"Because this time we will risk our very lives at solving this case," said the senior staff member. He looked at his senior colleague who nodded his head. "Please, if we fail again then you may do as you please with us two, but leave the others out of it."

Equal found himself cracking a small grin and retrieved his gun. "Interesting proposal, so it's either their life or yours. Well if that's the case, in the end the people will have a corpse. Fine, I accept. But remember gentlemen, you have placed your lives on the line of your own free will and I intend to make use of the opportunity to its fullest."

The staff members all looked shaken as they all gulped. Equal turned around to sit back down into his chair and stored his gun away. He looked at the three still standing in his office. "Collect your reports and leave already. You have work to do, and remember that you now work on borrowed time. So look harder, and think harder about this case. Failure will not be accepted again. Understood?"

"Yes sir," they all replied and left the office. Justice could tell the meeting did not go well from the sweat on their face and their weak walking posture. She had managed to hear the whole thing and came to worry even more about Equal now. The life of the simulation troopers or the life of our own people, what have you gotten yourself into Equal?

Samuels stretched his arms as he let out a rather loud yawn. The whole base looked in his direction. Tucker looked at the tired man who slumped in his chair and asked. "What's the deal with you? You didn't get much sleep or something?"

"Yeah, I was up all night," Samuels replied collecting a few documents together. Tucker waited a while for Samuels to continue that sentence. There was only silence. Tucker looked at some of the documents Samuels was collecting and they had something to do with a data center. "What were you doing up all night?"

"I was planning a raid on a data center."

"Oh that sounds kind of fun," Sarge interjected suddenly taking an interest in the conversation. Caboose followed the red leader asking. "What is the raid for? Is it to throw a surprise party? Because I love parties, so does Freckles. Don't you Freckles?"

"Yes, Captain Caboose."

Doc suddenly switched to O'Malley and said. "The only surprise party I would approve of is the one where everyone explodes into many little parts at the end as a grand way of ending the party, whahahaha!"

"Seriously dude, get a psychological check up done," Tucker shot back with Doc replying. "No need to worry, since I am a medic who has studied human psychology, I can do one on myself."

"Would that even count?" asked Sarge. Doc thought about it for a moment and shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows? All I know is that I'm perfectly A-ok, at least that is what the voices in my head tell me."

"Are they nice voices?" Caboose questioned with great interest. "Maybe those voices and I can be friends. I love making new friends."

"Yeah, I am not even going to go into how nuts that sounds," Tucker said back as he turned to face Samuels again. "Why do you need to raid a data center?"

"The plan right now is to raid for some very precious data kept at a pretty secretive level within the New Order. Such data will no doubt help our cause," Samuels replied as he stretched his wrists. "You guys don't need to worry too much about this stuff. I already have a team ready to go on this task. All that remains is the coordination amongst us."

Tucker looked back at the crew who all nodded and then looked back to Samuels. "What if we volunteered to help?"

"You guys want to help?" Samuels questioned crossing his arms together. He raised an eyebrow at the offer and asked. "Okay, what gives? What are you guys getting out of this?"

"We aren't getting anything out of this," Tucker replied as Sarge and the others agreed. "We just want to be able to pay back Equal as much as possible for not only being the cause of Locus' death, but also splitting up our group who we don't even know if they are alive or not."

"I'm sure they are alive Tucker," Samuels replied back placing a hand on Tucker's shoulder. Tucker shrugged it off. "Says you, we don't really know what the truth is."

"But all we can do is believe," Sarge said back. He still kept his belief strong of having faith in their survival. "We will meet again. If I know my boys as well as I think I do, then we will definitely meet again. Plus, Wash and Carolina are resourceful enough to survive on their own and still look out for others."

"Sarge, can you really say that with confidence?" Tucker questioned looking at the red soldier. "Especially when one is a lazy slob who just so happens to have a hot but brain dead sister, the other guy is a complete nerd who can't work under pressure. Let's not forget about Donut, because Donut is just…Donut."

Samuels stopped Tucker from rambling on anymore and said. "Fine, you guys can join in. But remember, this is a coordinated mission so every move that is made is done so with my instructions. I don't need any brave heroics from any of you."

"Why are you just looking at me when you say that?" Tucker asked shaking his arms. Samuels shook his head and looked back to his plan. "No particular reason."

"So when do we do this?" Doc inquired looking at the plans Samuels presented the whole crew with. Samuels scratched the back of his head and let out another yawn. He felt his fatigue catch up to him and weakly he said. "Tomorrow, so rest up, I know I'm going to be hitting the sack soon myself."

The Blood Gulch Crew all looked at one another and again nodded. Get ready Equal, because when you messed with us, you dug your own grave.