Red vs. Blue Season 16

Chapter 1: Conditioning

"My fellow men and women," everyone on the station's surface heard from the various hovering display monitors a familiar voice. The image on it was as clear as the blue oceans edging the lands. The figure on the monitor prompted several to cheer a familiar greeting. "For the New Order!"

Five cloaked figures looked up amidst the roaring crowds. They aqua armored soldier saw him again, under the helmet he gritted his teeth and balled his hands into fists. Doc looked all around him at the madness that reflected in his yellow visor. "Even in this sector people are crazy like this about him."

"Yeah, looks like someone is ridding a little too high on their horse if you ask me," said Sarge keeping his voice low. Caboose looked towards Sarge and suddenly leaned in close asking. "What horse and can I ride it?"

"That was supposed to be metaphorical blue-tard."

"Oh…so what is he riding then?" asked the clueless soldier causing much headache to Sarge. I didn't think there would be a time in my life where I would wish so much for Grif to be here. I would take Grif over Caboose please god. Tucker broke up the group's conversation as he continued to listen to the mindless cheers around him and Equal's speech.

"As some of you may have seen our video footage of the station's condition, we are working tirelessly to do whatever we can to recover from this. The invaders who managed to get aboard our station and cause this much grief for us all will pay. It is just a matter of time, and you can help shorten that time should you ever see these individuals," said Equal just as the picture of everyone from Blood Gulch faded onto the screen. "Report them immediately. Do not engage them in any actions that could put your own safety at risk. We have already lost a lot in the past, and now with these individuals we lost a great deal more. Once they are caught, rest assured that they will be sent to the gallows."

The crowd continued to cheer and threw slurs towards the Blood Gulch crew. "Off with their heads!"

"Talk about barbaric," Tucker noted.

"[Sucks to be you humans, I can always just get my body repaired.]"

"You are right Lopez. It would indeed be a tragedy if I were to be caught. So nice of you to care about your dear old commander," Sarge replied in his own delusional understanding. Lopez could not even bring himself to argue anymore. Over the past couple of days, he had learned to just live with Sarge's delusions and leave it at that even when he wasn't planning on messing around with him. Doc saw the rising energy all around them, it sent a sense of fear. "Right now I feel more scared of these people than I do of that Equal guy."

"It's okay, if you close your eyes and count to five it will get all better," said Caboose still enjoying the speech. Sarge looked back up towards the monitor to find Equal's face turn dark. "I have also wanted to convey another piece of message to you all. A war approaches."

"That doesn't sound good," said Doc breaking Tucker's concentration. "Yeah, no shit."

"We have been doing whatever we can to make sure we have a strong battle fleet, but we will suffer this time as well. Know that I wish there were some other way, but if we wish to attain the ultimate goal that you have all supported us through for all these years, then we will need to take extreme actions. I wish there were some other way that did not involve bringing on anymore casualties to our side, but there isn't. Soon, the war for our revenge shall finally begin. We will be the first to strike the UNSC when their core is most bare and take them by surprise."

The group noticed the shift in tone between every crowd member. From the once infatuated and the worshipping tone, it turned to that of malice. In everyone's eyes there was malice. It sent shivers down everyone's back. Tucker started to back away scared at what might become of them if they were ever revealed in this state to the others. He tapped the shoulders of the others to follow him. "I suddenly don't feel like staying here."

"Count me in on that," said Sarge keeping his shotgun handy under his cloak. As they walked past another diverse group, they could hear several slurs being tossed around. But this time it was not aimed at their group but the UNSC themselves. "Fuck the monsters!"

They really do dislike the UNSC don't they? Everyone in the group wondered. Not to mention, the citizens here worship Equal almost like a god. Just what do they teach these guys here? They all stopped to see the last bit of the message play. "There will be hardships along the way, but I believe that this path is worth it to finally avenge all our fallen comrades and revenge for what they did to us. Fear not for our salvation shall soon be at our doorsteps, we will succeed!"

The group exited the crowd into a back alley. Tucker threw up his arms in frustration. "Great, so everyone on this station has a serious raging hard on for hating on the UNSC and anyone that belongs to it."

Everyone was quiet waiting for Tucker to say something else. There was only silence. Guess this whole thing is getting to him, thought Doc as he placed a gentle grip on Tucker's right shoulder pad. "Calm down Tucker, getting worked up won't help anyone here."

They all continued to a familiar door. It had been deeply ingrained into their memories now for it was their only escape from all the hate around them. Behind the door was a dark set of stairs leading down into a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was another door, one that was their only place of respite. Knocking on the door of the rebellion group, they were asked to confirm the password to grant them entry. Everyone looked at Sigma who recited the words. "To bring down the New Order is our mission. To break the illusion thrusted onto people is the purpose of our existence."

"You may enter," said the voice from behind the door as it swung open. The group walked inside and let down their hoods. Sarge grumbled to himself. "Who creates a complicated password like that? Should have just kept it 1234 or something."

"[You always pick something stupid and easy to crack, stupid old man.]"

"Yes that was fun now wasn't it?"

They all hung up their cloaks and looked at the new figure entering the main room. The man with short and well kept black hair stared up at the group of misfit soldiers. His black eyes scanned them back and forth for any visible damage. Good, no casualties and it seems that they managed to avoid stirring up any trouble this time around judging from their calm behavior. He walked over to a huge round table and placed a few documents on the table. "Jake, check these over and write up a detailed report."

"On it boss."

"So Samuels," began Tucker getting the man's attention. "What is it with all the people on the surface being dicks towards us on this station?"

Samuels rubbed the right side of his forehead where a scar lay. It was created during a mission gone wrong, but thankfully no one had managed to see his face, or so he claimed. He motioned for the crew to follow him further inside the hideout to yet another room. This one was filled with holographic display tables and various computers. It was their main base of operations for intelligence related tasks. He typed a few strokes on the digital keys and brought up various articles.

The crew saw it with curiosity, but more so with confusion. They all looked at him expecting an answer to accompany these images. He crossed his arms and shook his head. Slow as ever. "All these articles that you see are about Equal. If you will notice the undertones, he is treated like he is a god."

"Oh great, that's what we need, fanatics," Doc noted. Quickly O'Malley took over. "Oh shut up, at least they will listen like mindless idiots. All you ever do is try to drive me insane…well more insane than I already am."

"The thing is, this concept of Equal being a god is taught since kindergarten here. Meaning the mental conditioning, or rather brainwashing is done since birth really. The original founders of this space station put him in charge, and they all agreed that it was best to have others agree on him as a power of authority through extreme measures. Right now they may teach that Equal is a god kindly, but in the past they apparently used force and various torture to drill the concept into people's head."

"What type of force? If you get my meaning, bow-chika-bow-wow," Tucker joked only to earn a stern glare from Samuels. "Jeez, sorry for trying to lighten the mood Mr. Grumpy."

"To you all it may seem like just another thing that happened, but to us it is important that we stop such indoctrination. To make matters worse, the UNSC was painted in a very negative light. Simply put, Equal is symbolized as Jesus where all his shortcomings and negative actions are covered up and forgotten. Whereas the UNSC are treated like the devil, all their actions are amplified in a negative light and that only gains more support for Equal's plans for revenge," Samuels replied looking down at the table. "He has created a rather tedious, but strong system of indoctrination. It isn't something that we can so easily take down on our own, not with the resources that we have. And that brings me to my next set of points, resources."

"What about them?" asked Tucker. Samuels looked up to the aqua soldier immediately silencing him with his stare. "While we are growing our numbers steadily, the overall situation is still not good. No matter how many steps we take forward, Equal seems to take at least five times more than that."

"Still doesn't mean we can't strike. In fact we should strike them right in the keister where it will hurt the most heh heh," Sarge suggested brandishing his shotgun. Samuels wasn't opposed to striking the New Order while they still had the advantage of anonymity, but for now he waved the idea off. "Get something to eat and rest. Right now, we can't afford to be too risky. Sooner or later we will have our opportunity to strike."

"Ah you just have to take the fun out of everything," Sarge complained following the others. Tucker remained behind much to Samuels' notice. "Is there something wrong?"

"No I was just thinking about some things. Things like why Equal would do all this. He didn't seem like such a bad person, aside from his psycho tendencies and kidnapping when I first met him during the interrogations."

"Don't be fooled by what a person is like on the outside. Humans have the ability to fool others. Some are more easily fooled than others. Why else have con artists managed to exist so long in our societies up to now? The fundamentals of human nature will never change as that is how we are wired."

"Okay, here is another question. Why would you be helping us?"

Samuels let out a long drawn in breath and looked to his right. There hung a picture of Locus alongside a small memoriam for him. He walked close to the lit candles by each side of the picture and grazed his hands over them. The warm sensation was a welcomed change in this cool underground base. "I initially helped you because Locus made me promise that I do so."

"Is that the only reason?" Tucker inquired pushing for a more detailed response. Samuels shook his head and continued moments after. "No, initially I thought of you all as dead weight to carry around. I thought that I will have to put up with you all because of that promise. But truth be told, after some time and thought you all proved to be valuable. The amount of damage that was caused in your rescue mission was something we could never hope to achieve on our own."

"Yeah well it's not like we are proud of that damage," Tucker replied looking down on the ground. He could still remember the flinging bodies out into space as Sector-D depressurized. Samuels stopped to give Tucker a moment to recompose himself. "The lives lost could not be helped in that situation. At least I don't think it could have been avoided."

"But it could, if only we were more careful."

Samuels remained quiet and saw the candle's flame following the directions of his hands when he hovered them over the candles. "We have all made mistakes Tucker. It's just that some mistakes are bigger than others, but you can still redeem yourself by doing the right thing. Getting back to the original question, I changed my line of thinking on this whole topic after contemplating it. Anyone who can cause so much damage to the New Order is definitely a welcomed and a necessary asset."

"Sure," Tucker replied turning to leave for his room. The rest of the crew and rebellion members went about their business, some to eat, to work and others to sleep. This was all that they could do until the day finally came to strike back for all the hardships Equal's administration has caused them all.