Chapter 12: Hidden Truth

Ken walked into the main control room wanting for answers. But under this bright night, where most others rested up from their mission, he found that Siris too was more relaxed than usual. His mentor was nowhere to be seen. It's not like you to leave your post so casually. He looked around for any other soul in the room, he was alone. He walked over to the computer and noticed the data drive they had retrieved from before. Following a gut feeling, he booted up the drive and began seeping through the data.

"What is this?" Ken whispered upon accessing a previously unseen section of the data. Siris never showed this to us. He began to search through the folders and found a history of assassinations. One even had a video file attached to it. He scrolled the mouse over the file and double tapped on the mouse. A new window popped up with no audio. It was only video. He leaned in closer at the monitor unable to believe the people he saw. Father…mother?

They were walking together out on a public street in the middle of a night. The streets were empty as everyone lulled within the soothing dreams their sleep induced. The father seemed to have kept a keen eye out for some odd reason. He was always on the edge looking around, but only calmed down upon the mother's insistence. A shadowy figure jumped down quietly behind them. The mother and father continued to walk without notice, but only when the father was brought down to his knees, that the mother panicked and drew out a pistol. The father held his throat trying to stop the bleeding, and reach out for his wife. The assassin quickly stabbed through the pistol, effectively making it useless and held the mother by her throat.

The father was still alive enough to grab the assassin's feet. He seemingly tried to utter a few words of warning even in his powerless position, but the injury just wouldn't allow it. The assassin extended a wrist blade on his other arm. The mother's eyes widened. He pierced through the air. The mother gritted her teeth for the inevitable death lancing towards her. The knife stuck itself through the bottom of her mouth and up into her brain. Her arms shook and struggle as the colorful life from her eyes slowly turned grey. Her body went limp. The assassin let the body fall to the ground. He kicked off the father's grip and looked up towards the camera before shooting it out. The very last image captured was that of a familiar face. Ken squinted his eyes and sat back. Is that Siris?

He skimmed through the files of the deceased board members for Cradle of Hope. He could now confirm the identities of the two victims in the video as an absolute. My parents were involved with the Cradle of Hope? He looked at the additional notes under their files. And the assassin responsible was Mason Wu, Siris. This must have been when he was first caught by the government and given the offer to join. Ken slumped back into the chair biting the bottom of his lip. "To think that my parents were murdered, and by Siris of all people. Oh, how cruel you are fate."

Siris poured himself a warm cup of coffee to the very edge of the cup and sipped a few drops. On a cold night like this, a warm drink was the best medicine for cold feet. He poured in some sugar for added taste and took another sip. Tastes just right. Siris picked up the cup and slowly exited the cafeteria. He stalked the quiet halls. Siris always marvelled at how quiet the halls could get when everyone else was asleep or resting. It was always a great time for him to think and let his mind be productive. Siris entered the main control room to find Ken sitting there in Siris' chair. "Well isn't this a surprise. Did you need something Ken?"

Chloe and Carolina walked up behind him. Siris smirked taking another sip of the coffee. "And here I thought that I was the only one up right now."

"I was accompanying Chloe on a little walk," Carolina answered as she motioned towards the young woman who found both her arms bound in a cast. Siris looked at his subordinate's condition and gave an understanding nod. "You did great out there Chloe, and you to Carolina."

He turned his attention back to Ken and looked up at the monitor upon being prompted to do so. He nearly dropped his cup of coffee and his eyes widened with surprise. Why did he access that data disk again? Not to mention that this was not only against protocol but also that it doesn't make any sense. Siris walked closer to the young man. What reason could you possibly have? He stuffed one hand in the pocket to keep his nervous fidgeting from showing. "W- Why are you snooping around in this data Ken?"

Ken stood up and confronted his superior at eye level. "When were you going to tell me that you had a hand in killing my parents?"

Siris looked around uncomfortably. "Ken listen, that data is-"

"Don't try to say that the data is fake! I saw a video of you assassinating both my parents and on top of that, Cradle of Hope has detailed information on you."

Siris bowed his head momentarily. Ken took in a deep breath and calmed his tensed jaw. Siris could see the hurt in Ken's eyes. It was like the feeling of being betrayed by your very own parent. "I…I didn't know what I would say."

"You didn't know what you would say?!" Ken had it with the passive tone Siris wore on his voice. He was tired of the excuses. He stepped forward clenching his fists. Carolina stepped in between the two to stop him from getting physical. "Okay, that's enough. I don't know what's going on but let's not get too crazy here."

"Ken, I'm sorry," the mentor spoke with the shake of his head and pointed to the data. "But that, that was business, I mean I was only following orders!"

"Was hiding the truth from me part of your orders?! I deserved to know about my parents' death!"

"If you knew, then do you think that you would still be standing here?!"

"So that's what this was about," Ken nodded his head in disbelief. Even at times like this, people still showed their selfishness. "Well you know what? All of you can just fuck off."

Chloe tried to stop him but his easily pushed past her. Carolina chased after promising to ensure nothing happened to him. Carolina donned her armor and ran through the halls. By the time she exited the bunker, he was long gone and out of sight. "Great, where are you?"

"Got his signal," Church appeared beside her with a map display. Carolina looked his way, and with no need for words he understood her confusion. "Remember how I had hacked his gauntlet's computer before? I planted a trace in there."

"Nice!" she followed the moving dot through the cold and empty streets. The moon shone brightly through the thinly veiled clouds. The shadows were plentiful. The neon lights of the city were bright in the more active areas. Carolina used her jet to fly up to the roof of a tower. She jumped from rooftop to rooftop to make her travels easier and finally came across the blip on the map. Church changed the map display to 3D and showed her position in correlation to his. "You should find him on street level."

Sounds of fists melding against one another echoed up towards her. The grotesque noise of someone hitting the back of their spine against a wall pierced her ears. She jumped down with the aid of her jets and landed to find a sight full of anger. Hatred was strong within Ken right now. Carolina held her waist with one hand and tilted her head in slight disappointment. "Is this how you get your kicks in your free time, by bullying the weak?"

Ken kneed one in the nose, flipped him over and smashed the side of his face into the wall. He stopped to catch his breath and glared back at the armored soldier. "I try to keep it in moderation. Why are you here Carolina? If it's to crack jokes then I'm not in the mood."

"I promised Chloe that I will keep you out of trouble. Although it seems I was a little too late for that."

Ken wiped his now runny nose and looked up at the moon. Bloody neon lights, they always corrupt the pure light that the moon shines. He kicked one of the men beginning to stir on the ground back into submission. "Then I hope you are not here to give me a lecture either, because I hate those more than jokes at times like these."

He continued to beat some close to him, but was forcibly stopped by Carolina when she noticed the blood that etched itself onto his boots. The snow was painted crimson red, fog exited Ken's mouth as he noticed the product of his own rage. Carolina held him back and leaned in close. "I'm here to talk with you, to try and understand one another's grief."

One another's? Ken looked at her with a quizzical expression. She motioned for him to follow wanting for a change of scenery. The two landed on a rooftop. Carolina watched Ken sit down and get comfortable. The young man closed his eyes as his neck arched backwards with his head resting against the railings. Carolina slid down to the floor beside him. "You know, I don't want to say that I know exactly what you are going through because grief is different for every person. But I know the feeling of growing up without parents."

Such a bold statement caught his attention.

"My mother died when I was young. My father was still alive, but he became obsessed with his work after her death. It was almost as if he saw no one and nothing else of value in life. I was forced to grow up by myself. I didn't even have a sister like you do," Carolina closed her eyes only to see their faces flash in her mind. Mom and dad, would you be happy with how I turned out? Carolina rested her head on her knees. "My father was killed due to circumstances you already know about. But it still hurt. Even though he was a terrible father, he still held some value thanks to our paternal relationship. Even after all of his imperfections, he still did his best to raise me all alone until the obsession with his work took hold of him completely."

Carolina paused to take a few short breaths. "I know that people feel anger at times like these, and I also know from experience that if that anger is used irresponsibly, then it can destroy you."

Ken shook his head slowly closing off his mind to her words. So this is meant to be just another sappy speech. But Carolina wanted for it to mean more than that. "Ken, you will never be able to move on unless you channel your anger properly and look for a way to forgiveness and understanding. You will just go into a destructive cycle of anger and hatred."

"Carolina," Ken stopped her from speaking anymore. He was quickly getting fed up with her sympathy stemming from lacking in knowledge. He respected her experiences and wisdom as his elder, but also knew that wisdom without knowledge of a person's circumstances means nothing more than hollow sympathy in the long run. "You already know why I am in the ATSG, I know Chloe made sure of that. I found her. I found my sister."

"That's great news," the female companion ecstatically replied happy for him. At least something was going right amidst this trying time for him. But he didn't seem or sound as happy as her. "Why the long face?"

"My sister…she is the current leader for Cradle of Hope," Ken let out a broken and a pathetic laughter. "Oh how cruel fate is. There must be someone out there laughing at this whole situation right now."

Carolina squirmed in her spot and sought advice from Church, but he simply shrugged. Fat load of help that was, she thought as the orange haired woman turned to Ken and rested a hand on his shoulder. She gripped it gently and spoke with a warm and comforting voice to let him know that there was still hope. "If you can try and somehow get in touch with her, maybe you can still convince her otherwise. If you two can talk and come to a better understanding, she may be willing to choose another path than the one she is on. Show her the importance of a family being together. Show her the value in leaving behind this mess as just another chapter of the past in your lives. Maybe, just maybe things could get better for both of you then."

Ken reached inside one of his many pockets and pulled out a family photo. Carolina eyed his parents and sister. In the photo they look so loving like any normal family. Their smiles glowed brighter than the sun itself, and their eyes radiated the sense of security and kindness any child would want in their parents. Ken gripped the edges until they crumpled a little. Carolina slowly moved her hand onto his to calm him when she noticed his stressed face. His eyes quickly became blank, she could read nothing out of them and that became concerning to her. He was like an unpredictable being now. "My family really is messed up. Because of this fucking terrorist organization, and the government, we were all torn and broken apart."

He breathed in deeply as he loosened his hold on the photo. Slowly it fell onto the thin layer of snow beneath them. "I can't forgive Siris or the god damned government for this lie, at least not right now."

"But if you don't learn to forgive, can you bear to be in the same room with him?"

"I said I can't forgive him right now," Ken placed great emphasis on the words 'right now'. He picked up the photo and brushed off the snow. "I know that I won't be able to do anything without the government's nor the ATSG's assistance. If I want to end this and somehow fix everything, then I will need to see this job through to the end. But after that, I'm through with helping the bloody government."

Meanwhile, in the deep reaches of space travelled the Blood Gulch crew on their valiant mission. But there seemed to be bumping into more hiccups along the way than they expected, namely the lack of direction of where to start from. Washington was growing irritated with this as it made him feel stale, and his efforts wasted. The others however did not let this bother them too much. They always went about their time as they would on Blood Gulch.

"This is an outrage!" Grif shouted in the cafeteria.

"Here we go again," Tucker moaned as he rested his head on his right hand facing the scene of comical confrontation. Simmons was visibly annoyed at the loud noises. "Keep it down will you dumbass?"

"Simmons can you believe this guy here? I am no longer allowed to access the pudding pantry because I have been apparently eating too much of it."

"Well it's true," the chef crossed his arms and made an absolute stand. "If you keep on eating at this pace, then we won't have any for emergency rations left either."

"But Muffins said I could eat it all I want to!"

"Just drop it already Grif," Simmons noted pointing to the orange soldier's belly. "You have put on more weight again haven't you?"


"Lay off the pudding fatty."

"Lay of the pudding, how can you speak such heresy Simmons?!"

"Don't you worry Grif, I'm baking a fresh batch of cinnamon buns," Donut stuck his head out from the kitchen with a cook's hat on his helmet. "We can share some as we all eat together!"

"It's just not the same as pudding," the overweight soldier mumbled under his breath like a child. Sarge walked onto the scene speaking in a gruff voice. "What are you numb nuts blabbering on about here?"

"Just Grif throwing another one of his hissy fits sir," Simmons reported with a straight posture showing the respect Sarge asked of his troops. Sarge took out his shotgun and pulled back on the fore-end. "Well stop it, Wash's called for an emergency meeting. He wants everyone to gather on the bridge."

"Yes sir, let's go Grif!" Simmons dragged the orange soldier away who so desperately stretched out his arms screaming. "Don't you worry my pudding, I shall be back for you!"

A/N: Will Grif ever get his pudding? I mean he does seem very desperate for it doesn't he? :P

A little bit more development for Ken's back story. But that is one messed up family indeed. Next chapter will be solely focused on the Blood Gulch crew with a little surprise in there.

Thank you for taking the time to read and support this story, I appreciate it!

~ Monty