TACTICAL ESPIONAGE ACTION: METAL GEAR SOLID

BY STEVEN HILDRETH, JR.

DISCLAIMER: Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake, FOX-HOUND, and any and all characters and units are property of Konami Entertainment Japan, Inc. Metal Gear Solid created by Hideo Kojima.



The log cabin was alone, solitary, the only thing in the middle of the fierce snowstorm. Icicles formed on the roof, and the door was getting close to halfway block with snow. The temperature was roughly -5 F§, mild for an Alaskan snowstorm. But that wasn't on the mind of the man who lived there.

The man who dwelled inside the place didn't have a family, aside from the fifty huskies he owned and mushed. As a matter of fact, the man probably couldn't have a family, since he couldn't trust anyone. Days of battle long past did that to him permanently.

The man, whose name was David Sears, leaned back in his chair, relaxing, taking a long drag on his Winston cigarette and then a pull on his Budwiser brew. At thirty five years of age, he was in great shape, and looked about three years younger. He was about 6'0" and 185 pounds, had fair, slightly tanned Caucasian skin, Arctic cold green eyes, and a mane of blond hair. Sears hadn't shaved in a week, so the beard he'd been trying to grow was now starting to come back.

David was muscular. Even though he smoke and drank, he exercised frequently, mostly dog mushing. He planned to attend the Iditarod, the longest dog sled race in the world, later on that week. Sears wasn't worried about people discovering his other identity. The one he'd been trying to hide for over four years, now. Mushing and caring for his dogs were some of the things he could do to take his mind off the trauma.

Sears turned on the radio, listening to news from America. The announcer was discussing football scores, which didn't interest him any, since he wasn't a big sports fan. After some turning of the knob, he found a heavy metal station. Turn that shit off, he thought to himself. He couldn't stand heavy metal. For some reason, it reminded him of a combat zone. Finally, he found a rap station. One of the few music genres he liked, aside from real rock, not the heavy metal or punk wannabe shit, was rap. Turning the volume down slightly, he went back to his meal.

As he took another drag of the Winston, the hairs on his neck began to stand up slightly. David's free hand reached for a Walther PPK 7.65mm pistol kept underneath his table just in case something happened. A few more seconds past, and nothing happened. The left hand wandered back and replaced itself on the table. Then, his neck hairs stood up on end completely. Sears tried to reach for his gun but was too slow. The windows shattered and long, cylinder-like grenades were thrown threw, releasing a yellow gas. As it reached his eyes and throat, he began to cough insanely, and rub at his eyes frantically, knowing what was going on.

Shit! David thought angrily. CS gas...what the hell is going on?! Suddenly, he sensed someone behind him, and instinct took over. He turned around and slammed his right fist out, connecting with something hard. Sears heard a grunt, and thought he punched an enemy. As he wandered around his cabin, looking for a way out, another guard tried to ambush him. David, however, was too quick, and slammed his left fist out, knocking the opposition out cold.

The smoke began to clear, and Sears, still trying to clear his eyes of the tear gas, thought he saw a light. Quickly, he began to sprint to the door, almost making it, when two soldiers, dressed in black tactical gear and carrying M4 5.56mm carbines, the standard weapon of US Special Forces, tripped him and restrained him by his arms. David struggled, but they pinned his legs to the ground.

"Tough bastard," one soldier said to the other. Sears couldn't see what the soldier looked like since the soldier wore a balaclava. "He's as good as they say. Bring the KO gas."

He was held down for twenty seconds more before a small canister was held to his nose, forced into his respiratory system, finding its way into his lungs, and before he knew it, David Sears was embraced by the warmth and comfort of unconsciousness. This is bad, he thought as he quieted down and ceased to resist.

This wasn't even the beginning of it.

* * *

The room was small, about twenty feet by five feet, slightly warm, but metallic. Sears woke up, lying down on a cold, metal bench. David's first reaction was to reach for his PPK, but when he felt for it, he got skin. Quickly self-examining himself, David found out that he was in the nude, and stripped of all weapons. His first reaction was to slam his massive fists against the metal door keeping him in, but after three minutes of it, he stopped and sat back down.

Sears drooped his head, letting his mane cover his grim face. Staring at the floor, he thought about what could be happening. He had been recalled once...could it be happening again? Whatever the situation, FOX-HOUND could handle it. Why the hell was he needed? It was true he was good, but he wasn't good enough to send a Special Ops team to attack him. Whatever the situation, he was sure he'd find out soon.

As if on cue, the door swung open, and the guard watching the door stood at attention. A large man, about 6'3" from a guesstimate, returned the salute. As the man stepped through the door, David looked up. Immediately, he recognized him.

He wore the US Army's standard green uniform which sported the teal arrowhead containing a golden sword and three golden lighting bolts, which was the signal of a Special Forces soldier. Above the patch, his uniform flaunted a teal flash with gold "Special Forces" lettering. Below that was a black and gold "Ranger" tab, and finally, below that, a black and gold "Airborne" tab. The rank on his shoulders and on his hat displayed the bird and arrow rank of a colonel. Topping his head was a Green Beret, the sign of a Special Forces soldier.

The man had tanned skin, and brown eyes that told the careful observer that he had seen combat. His face was craggy, showing wear and beating over the years. Above his right breast jacket was a nameplate that read "Campbell." Several ribbons showed various medals and commendations, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Service Cross, and Purple Heart, among other awards. It showed he was a hardened veteran.

Right behind Colonel Campbell, a petite woman followed. Snake couldn't get a clear look at her face, but from the slight peek he received, she looked attractive. Her hair was shoulder length, black, and flowing free. The woman's skin was the perfect shade of peach, showing that she was at least a large part Caucasian. Even through her wardrobe, her impressive physique showed, the clothing emphasizing her medium sized, but firm and rounded, breasts, and her perfect hips, not too large but proportionate. The woman's slender, smooth legs were exposed from underneath her short brown skirt, leading to a pair of brown casual slippers. The woman's body was attractive, even sexy...but David wasn't worried about it. He especially didn't want to show his interest in her in his current situation, in more ways than one.

Colonel Campbell stood in front of Sears as the woman crept into a corner. "It's been a long time, Snake," Roy Campbell, former FOX-HOUND commander, said. His voice was gruff, deep, and commanding. Years of battle and command did that to you.

My old code name, David Sears, retired US Army Special Ops soldier, CIA agent, FOX-HOUND trooper, and mercenary, thought. He called me Snake. "I should have known you were behind this, Colonel," Snake growled, his face neutral, but eyes glaring into his. He wanted answers, and he wanted them now. His voice cut through the woman like a hot knife through butter, making her shudder slightly. The colonel, however, stood unmoved. He'd heard the voice before. It wasn't new.

"That's no way to greet an old war buddy, Snake," Colonel Campbell said, faking a hurt voice, and putting on a pitiful sad dog face. It just made Snake angrier, and Campbell stopped it. Solid Snake wasn't a man to anger.

"What do you want from me?" Snake demanded, cutting straight to the chase. This was a waste of time.

"I just invited you here so we could have a talk," Campbell said casually, as if he was about to order cookies and tea, and talk things over, pinkies up.

"Invited?!" Snake snarled, wanting to cross the room and throttle the old officer, stopped by the sight of the armed guard. "That's what you call sending armed soldiers after me?!"

Campbell smiled to himself. He's getting too old, he thought. A mere team of Delta Force commandos took the legendary Solid Snake down with a little elbow grease and CS gas. "Sorry if they were a little rough with you," he stated, not really meaning it. "But we've got a serious situation here. Only you can get us out of it."

"I'm retired from FOX-HOUND," Snake said softly, steadily getting louder, pointing his right index finger at the colonel. "You're not commander anymore, and I don't have to take orders from you, or anyone else!"

"You will take these orders," Campbell said quietly but firmly. "I know it."

The woman finally took a few steps out of the corner toward the naked blond, being hesitant about it. "Excuse me," she quietly said, as if she didn't want to be there any longer than necessary. Her voice was angelic, sprinkled with an accent, probably English, and good to hear. Snake hadn't heard a female's voice in over two years now.

Snake didn't visually acknowledge her, instead keeping his ice cold eyes on Campbell. "Who's this?" he asked, addressing the colonel.

"Dr. Naomi Hunter," Campbell replied. "She's chief of FOX-HOUND's medical staff, and an expert in gene therapy." Gene therapy probably meant she worked with the Human Genome Project. So, she was a doctor, and a good one, since only the finest served with FOX-HOUND.

Snake turned to face her, noticing her face for the first time. She had lukewarm green eyes, a smooth, unscarred face, with slightly rosy cheeks, and full lips that didn't go overboard. Dr. Naomi Hunter was beautiful. "Are you military?" Snake asked.

"No, civilian," she replied, smiling, releasing some tension. "I've been sent here from ATGC." ATGC, Inc., was a genetic company, leading the Human Genome project, standing for Adenine, Thiamine, Guanine, and Cytosine, the four basic elements of the DNA strand. "Pleasure to meet you, Snake." Hunter then produced a syringe from her white doctor jacket. The liquid inside was slightly clear, a sort of transparent blue. Snake's automatic reaction was to knock it from her hands, but he controlled himself.

"Don't worry," she said, gently handling his muscular arm. "This injection won't hurt a bit." Naomi smiled a little.

"What's the shot for?" Snake asked, suspicious. He didn't trust the government.

"What's wrong?" Dr. Hunter teased tenderly. She didn't want to scare him shitless, just make him suck it up and drive on. "You don't like shots?"

As a matter of fact, Snake hated him. FOX-HOUND and the CIA had taught him various ways to kill a man, and many of them involved syringes. Luckily, he was also taught to identify various colors of various poisons, and one that was transparent blue wasn't one of them. That calmed him slightly. For the moment.

"Snake, listen up," Campbell's voice boomed, bringing Snake out of his reverie. "It all went down five hours ago." A computer screen emerged from a point on the floor two feet from Snake's foot, and Campbell pressed a few buttons, bring up a map of Alaska. "Heavily armed soldiers occupied Shadow Moses Island, a remote island off the coast of Alaska." The colonel's aged finger moved around the touch-pad and zoomed in on a small island in an area labeled "Fox Archipelago."

"What soldiers?" Snake asked, getting less interested by the second. They called me up for a routine mission? Snake thought, getting angrier by the second.

"Next Generation Special Forces," Colonel Campbell stated, "led by members of Unit FOX-HOUND."

Snake's interest was automatically captured. His former unit, FOX-HOUND, was supposed to be the cream of the crop of special operations, specializing in single man infiltration missions, counterrevolutionary and counterterrorist missions, reconnaissance, and direct action missions. They were stealth warriors, but were also tenacious fighters if backed into a corner. The small unit going rogue was not a good thing.

"They've presented Washington with a single demand," the colonel continued, "and they say if it isn't met, they'll launch a nuclear weapon."

Snake raised his eyebrow. The mission was getting more and more hair-brained by the second. "A nuclear weapon?" he questioned incredulously.

"I'm afraid so," Campbell acknowledged. "You see, the island is the site of a secret nuclear weapons disposal facility."

"FOX-HOUND hijacking a nuclear weapon?!" the grunt growled, not believing a single word of it.

"Now you understand how serious the situation is," the Army colonel stated. "You'll have two mission objectives. First, you're to rescue the DARPA chief, Donald Anderson, and the president of ArmsTech, Kenneth Baker. They're both being held as hostages."

"Those are some heavy duty hostages," Snake conceded. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, tested newer futuristic weapons for the US military. All of the advanced weaponry that went to the Department of Defense had to go through DARPA. It usually tested in secrecy, and its name usually didn't come out in the public.

ArmsTech, however, was the exact opposite. It was well known in the arms community, building up stock during the Cold War. It developed the SDI system, which worked by using high power magnets to propel bullets at high velocities. Lately, it was losing ground, since it lost its bid to produce the United States Air Force's next line of fighter jet.

"Secondly," Campbell continued, "you're to investigate whether or not the terrorists have the ability to launch a nuclear strike, and stop them if they do." The colonel stopped pacing the room and turned to face Snake. "Any questions, Snake?"

"Questions?" the grunt scoffed. "I haven't even said whether I'd accept this mission."

"Well," Campbell said, "you can make up your mind after you hear more about the situation."

I don't want to hear more, Snake thought, I want to go home. This ends now. "Colonel, I don't work for the government anymore," he stated. "Let me go back to Twin Lakes."

"Why, Snake?" the colonel taunted. "Is your life in Alaska all that great?"

"There's a dog sled race this week," Snake announced, with some pride. "Next Saturday, I have to be in Anchorage."

"The Iditarod?" Campbell sneered. "The longest sled race in the world? When did you become a dog musher?" The race covered most of Alaska, and lasted several weeks. It was dangerous, but adventurous, just the thing the man known as David Sears wanted.

"Right now, my fifty huskies are my only family," Snake said, without remorse or embarrassment. "I've got to take care of them." It was true, too. His father was dead, his mother unknown, siblings non-existent. The dogs were the closest thing to a family to him.

Colonel Campbell stopped and leered at Snake, staring him in the eye. "Don't worry about your dogs," he said in a graveyard voice, trying to hit Snake in a weak spot.

Anger rose in Snake's eyes, and his hands balled into fists. "What do you mean?"

the grunt rumbled.

"I'm sorry, Snake," Campbell announced, "but this vessel is headed for the Bering Sea. There's no room for debate."

"I told you, even if I do own you, I don't owe anything to this army or this country!" Snake yelled, standing up now. Naomi Hunter went back to her corner, seeing the two grown men yelling at each other, on the verge of blows. She didn't want to be caught in the cross-fire.

"You will accept this assignment!" Colonel Campbell ordered loudly.

"Why should I be stupid enough to do that?" Snake demanded. "I'm no patriot."

The colonel paused, seeing that his former soldier had a point. He decided to take another approach. "Snake..." he said casually, lowering his voice, "there's enough dirt in your file from your days as an agent to keep you in the stockade until you're a very old man."

"Oh...I see," Snake said, scrunching his face up in anger and disgust. "Blackmail." He said the last word, spitting it out like an overcooked piece of cabbage.

"No...Snake," Campbell said, a slight smile spreading across his face. "I prefer to look it as helping you come to a decision more easily." The old man stopped, then looked his friend in the eye again. "But, anyway, I know you better than that. You'd take this assignment even without the threat."

"Why do you say that?" Snake asked, interested to hear the answer.

"You're a natural born soldier," Roy Campbell stated. "You're not the grow old gracefully' type. It's the same for all of us who've seen real action. The only place we can feel truly alive is on the battlefield." The colonel increased the step of his pace and started to sweat now. "I'm a soldier too. I know those feelings of powerlessness...frustration that you feel everyday. You've tried to play the Boy Scout out there in Alaska, but you can't race dogs in the snow forever!"

The colonel stopped, lowered his voice, and shallowed his breathing. He was overreacting. Campbell didn't need that. "Why don't you come back to us...and be a soldier again?"

Snake turned his head away from Dr. Hunter and Colonel Campbell. It was all true. The only reason he wanted to race in the Iditarod was the risk that he could be killed. Dodging death was part of his essential needs in life...dealing it was the other half. Snake had tried to live as David Sears, but it didn't work out. His dates were ruined since he wasn't a great talker, and often talked too violent. His "go to hell" attitude warded off any friends. The battlefield was where he belonged. Snake's body shook.

"You think my life is some kind of a joke?" Snake barely managed to say, his voice quivering, arm muscles tensed, fist balled, and knuckles turning white.

"Snake..." Campbell said gently, like one friend would talk to another in need, "I just want to give you back your purpose in life."

David Sears looked up at Roy Campbell. His body showed the officer that he didn't want to go. But Sears's eyes didn't. It was at that moment that David Sears was destroyed. Solid Snake, legendary FOX-HOUND operative, was now alive again, and ready to do what he did best: killing.

* * *



After a few minutes of silence, Snake had calmed down and looked the colonel in the eye. He decided to give the mission a chance and listen to the briefing, then make his final decision. Snake's mind raced, looking for the first question to ask. He decided he'd need to know more about the place he was supposed to sneak in.

"Tell me about the nuclear weapons disposal facility," Snake requested.

"The disposal facility," the Army colonel started, "includes a hardened underground base. Even with our most advanced intelligence gathering equipment, we can't tell what's happening inside."

Snake mulled this over. "So some needs to penetrate, gather intelligence, and report back..." he murmured. He smirked. "Sounds like a spy movie. What's the insertion method?"

"Well," the former FOX-HOUND commander sighed, "an air insertion is impossible."

"Not with this storm going on," Snake conceded.

"We'll approach the disposal facility by sub," Campbell declared.

"Approach?" Snake asked. He'd heard of several Special Operations insertion method, but approaching a base by sub wasn't one of them.

"Yes. Within a few miles of it," the colonel explained, seeing the confused look on the grunt's face. "You see, the facility is equipped with sonar detection capabilities. They'd be able to hear our engine or propeller noise."

Snake nodded in understanding. "And then?"

"We'll launch a one man SDV," Campbell continued, referring to a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle. Usually, the Navy SEALs used them and they housed three to six covert operators. The one man model was made shortly before Solid Snake retired for the final time from FOX-HOUND. But he was confused about the launch part.

"Same like a torpedo," the Army colonel explained again. "Except this has no propulsion device of its own. After the SDV gets as close as it can, dispose of it. From there on, you'll have to swim."

Snake had heard of hair-brained ideas of SpecWar, but this was the craziest one by far. "You want me to swim in sub-zero Alaskan water?" Snake asked, giving Campbell a look as if to ask him did he think that he was a complete idiot.

"Don't worry," the former FOX-HOUND commander assured his grunt. His left hand gestured to a suit hanging up in the corner. "That suit represents the latest in polythermal technology."

The suit was blue-gray. It looked as if it was made out of a Neoprene type substance, with same color boots and gloves. Next to the suit were gray elbow and knee pads, and the chest was muscle molded, showing all the pectoral and abdominal muscles. If they assured him that it was polythermal, then he was pretty sure it was going to hold his heat in. Neoprene would help in the ice cold Alaskan water.

"The nuclear weapons disposal facility covers the whole island," Colonel Campbell said, bringing Snake's attention back to him. "I'll instruct you by Codec after you reach your target."

So, they're using the Codec, huh, Snake thought. The covert communications system, code named Codec, utilized nanomachines injected into the subjects body and a wrist screen. A transmitter was attached to a spot behind the operator's right ear, and that sent a signal throughout the bloodstream to the nanomachines, sending out a secure transmission using the wrist screen. It also worked as a miniature camera, recording him and sending him a picture of who he was talking to. It worked when the command wanted to see the actual situation.

"Anyone going with me?" Snake asked, already knowing the answer, due to FOX-HOUND standard policy.

"As usual," the colonel replied, confirming Snake's suspicions, "this is a one man infiltration mission."

"Weapons and equipment OSP?" Solid Snake asked, referring to on site procurement. Translated into civilian language, that mean that he would be sent in, virtually naked, and expected to glean weapons and equipment off of enemy soldiers.

"Yes," Campbell responded. "This is a top secret black op. Don't expect any official support."

Snake's mind was still processing the information, and decided to keep the link going. "What's the time limit?" he inquired.

"Twenty-four hours," Campbell said in a graveyard voice. "They say they'll launch after twenty-four hours."

"Did they say what the target will be?" Snake asked.

"So far, they haven't mentioned the target," the colonel responded.

"When did the countdown start?" the FOX-HOUND veteran asked.

"Five hours ago."

"Do you have my cigarettes?"

The retired colonel turned to a guard and signaled. Twenty seconds later, a Navy seaman came in with his Winstons and a lighter. He removed a tube of tobacco from the famous red and white box, lit up, and took a long drag.

"Enjoy it while it lasts," the doctor, Naomi, said, despising the tobacco in his hand. "I'll confiscate it after the briefing."

Snake raised his eyebrows and smiled slightly, taking another long drag and blowing the smoke her direction. After the small banter, which Colonel Campbell seemed to watch in semi-amusement, Snake turned back and asked, "Colonel, who are you speaking for?"

"Naturally, I'm representing the US government," Campbell reacted.

"So, who's in supervisory control of this operation?"

"The President of the United States."

"Which means that the President must be meeting with his top aides in the map room about now, huh?" Snake took another long drag on the Winston. He hadn't had a smoke since four hours previous to being abducted.

"No," the colonel disagreed. "At this point, they're still video conferencing with each other."

"If that's a real nuclear warhead," he said, pointing to the map of Shadow Moses, "shouldn't they issue a COG?" A COG was a nuclear weapons alert, the system developed during the Cold War. The procedure consisted of evacuation of the target city, or cities, and the relocation of all the top politicians to a hardened underground shelter underneath Mount Washington in Virginia.

"Not yet," the colonel answered. "The Secretary of Defense has operational control, and is fully aware of the situation. After you infiltrate, if you determine they possess nuclear launch capabilities, a COG will be issued."

"Well," Snake said, taking another pull, "if they haven't relocated to the nuclear shelter under Mount Washington, I suppose there isn't that much reason to worry yet. Is the National Security Agency in on this?" The grunt stubbed his butt and removed a new one from the package. After lighting up, he looked back to the colonel.

"Yes, and so is the DIA, or the Defense Intelligence Agency."

"The DIA?" Snake asked, mostly to himself. "I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this..."

"They'll be sending us some support," Campbell announced.

"We don't need desk jockeys," Snake growled. He hated most paper pushers with a passion. They just made missions clusterfucks by taking too long to process paperwork giving them more to do. "We need a nuclear weapons specialist."

"Of course," Campbell assured Snake, calming him down. "A nuclear weapons specialist has already been assigned to us."

Snake pulled hard on the cigarette, then repeated, "We need backup from a specialist. I'm just an amateur when it comes to nuclear weapons."

"I know," Campbell agreed. "That's why I've requested the assistance of a military analyst named Nastasha Romanenko. She'll be providing you backup by Codec."

The screen switched from the map of Alaska to a picture of a woman with blond hair, cut into a small bowl cut, with cutting brown eyes and a fancy cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth. She's got style, Snake thought, sucking on his own Winston. Her history stated that she lost friend and family in the Chernobyl nuclear accident, then came to the US and joined the DIA, and NEST, or the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. Shortly afterward, she went freelance.

"A female analyst?" Snake asked, raising his eyebrows. Most military analysts were men, since most women either didn't want or couldn't stand military contact, and studying weapons, and their effects, often bloody.

"She's built up an impressive record as an adviser for the Nuclear Emergency Search Team," Colonel Campbell declared. "Contact her if you have any questions. She's also an expert on high-tech weapons."

"Where is she working from?" Snake questioned.

"At her home in Los Angeles," Roy answered.

"California..." Snake replied, thinking of the sunny beaches, beautiful ocean, and scantily clad women sunbathing. It was a thought that he enjoyed thoroughly. "Seems like a million miles away..." Snake's voice trailed off. Then, his mind snapped in gear. Why would a retired colonel be in command of a mission?

"Colonel, you're retired," Snake growled softly. "Why are you involved in this?"

"Because there aren't many people who know FOX-HOUND as well as I do," Campbell announced. It was a legitimate reason, but it wasn't good enough for Snake. He needed deeper answers.

"Is that really the only reason?" Snake demanded.

"I've been soldering for a long time," Campbell explained. "I don't know anything else. I guess even though I'm getting a little old, I still love to be in the field."

Snake saw through the lie like Superman saw through walls. It was a crystal clear lie. "Colonel," Snake scowled, "you're a lousy liar. Tell me the real reason." Snake's cold eyes pierced the old man's, forcing him to deflate.

"Okay, Snake..." he sighed, admitting defeat. "Sorry. I'll be frank." He took a seat next to Snake and stared at the ground. "A person very dear to me is being held hostage."

"Who is it?" Snake questioned, being a little softer with his tone.

"My niece...Meryl," Colonel breathed sorrowfully.

This is starting to look like a really bad, low budget movie, Snake thought to himself, not daring to voice his opinions aloud in front of his former commander. "What was your niece doing here?" he inquired.

"Several soldiers were reported missing the day of the revolt," Campbell replied, "and my niece was one of those called in as an emergency replacement."

The old man pulled a fresh, leather wallet from his Army uniform and pulled out a collection of pictures. One showed a young woman, with rosy red hair, resplendent emerald green eyes, a small, slender nose, and slim, but somewhat full, lips, turned into a slight smile. She wore the Marine dress blue uniform with standard hat. Another picture showed Roy at the beach, wearing a blue T-shirt and black swimming trunks, and the woman, who he assumed to be Meryl, since she was too young to be his wife, wearing a red, skimpy two piece bikini swimming suit. Her form was slender, but muscular, displaying a six pack of abs. She was buff, but attractive.

"She looks like you," Snake offered. Only in the fact she has your nose and possibly your lips, Snake pondered to himself. Other than that, she's a lot better looking than you, colonel.

"She's my little brother's girl," Campbell said, tenderly taking the pictures from Snake and putting them back into the wallet and replacing the wallet in his pocket. "He died in the Gulf War, and since then, I've been watching after her."

"A personal motive, colonel?" Snake said, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. This guy was the definition of military, and he was letting personal feeling get in the way? "That's not very soldierly."

"I'm retired," Colonel Campbell reminded Snake. "I'm just an old man now. And I'm your friend."

Snake gave him a look like that when a nerd is talking to a popular high school varsity football player, both kids are strangers to each other, and the nerd says that they're friends. "Since when have we been friends?" Snake demanded.

"I've thought of us as friends since the fall of Zanzibar," the colonel insisted.

Snake calmed down slightly with the old man. "With my personality," Snake expressed, "I don't have too many friends."

"That's what I like about you, Snake," Campbell said, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder. "It's what makes you human." Roy looked directly into Snake's cold, green eyes, pleading with him. "Please, Snake! Save my niece Meryl!"

Solid Snake thought this over. It was the basic concept of warfare. You didn't fight for abstract ideas like the flag, your country, liberty, or the freedom of your people. You fought for your buddies. You helped each other go from battle to battle, so you could live and get out of the hell called war. That's why Campbell wanted him to fight: to help someone dear to him get out alive and to get out of war. Snake made his final decision.

"All right," Snake said hesitantly, "but I have two conditions."

"Name them," Campbell said instantly, standing up in front of Snake.

"One: no more secrets between us," Snake ordered. "I want complete disclosure at all times. And two: I'll only take orders directly from you, colonel. No cutoffs involved, okay?"

Roy Campbell thought it over slightly, then looked at the grunt. "Agreed," he conceded. "That's why I was called. But one thing..."

"What?" Snake asked.

"I'm not a colonel anymore," Campbell stressed. "Just a retired old warhorse."

"I understand," Snake said, the corners of his mouth starting to tug toward his ears. "Colonel." The smile finally emerged, and the colonel chuckled. Snake beckoned for Campbell to come close and both of their smiles disappeared. As soon as he got close enough, Snake murmured, "That doctor...is she part of this operation, too?"

"She was in charge of FOX-HOUND's gene therapy," Campbell confided to his oldest living friend. "She know more about those men than anyone else."

Naomi Hunter was listening intently, a natural smile spreading across her face, the type certain women have. Snake noticed her eyes on him and turned to face her and bring her into the conversation. "You mean...you've seen them naked?" he grinned slyly, seeing how she would react to the sexual innuendo.

Her face fell, and a curt appearance surrounded her. "Make no mistake," she said coldly. "I'm not a nurse. I'm a scientist." She said the last part with a hint of pride.

Snake nodded and asked, "By the way, what was that injection for?"

"It's a combination of nanomachines and an anti-freezing peptide so that your blood and other bodily fluids don't freeze even at sub-Arctic temperatures," Hunter explained.

Impressive, Snake thought. Even though he was a grunt, he was a smart one, with an IQ of 180. Even though he was a skirt chaser throughout school, he still managed to pass, some of it his mental capacity, and the other part his connections with brainy kids who could help him with the answers. He had taken classes on medicine and drugs, in the case he would need to use it in the field. The peptide would help greatly. But nanomachines were vague, and he stated as much.

"Not just one kind, either," Hunter said, slightly smiling at him. "There are different types that will replenish the supply of adrenaline, nutrition, and sugar in your bloodstream."

The grunt mumbled his approval. "Now I don't have to worry about food."

"I also put some nootropics in there," Naomi stated.

Snake looked at her as if she recited something like the latest slang term or the name of a cartoon nation. "Say what?" he said.

"Nootropics," she repeated. "A class of drugs which will help improve your mental functioning."

Snake smiled slightly, assuming that Naomi didn't know about his intelligence quotient. "It'll make me smarter, huh? Anything else?"

"Yes," she pressed forward. "Benzedrine. It's a type of stimulant. It will keep you alert and responsive for twelve straight hours."

Snake knew that was valuable. Special Operations were working long hours, and even the Iron Men of SpecOps needed their rest. The benzedrine in the injection would help greatly to keep the legend from falling asleep and meeting an unlegendary death. "That was quite a cocktail," the FOX-HOUND veteran stated. "Anything else in there?"

Snake wasn't expecting an answer, and to his surprise, he got a final answer: "Those nanomachines will also keep your Codec's battery charged up."

Solid Snake sighed and said laconically, "I guess I can call you when I'm ready to go on a diet."

Naomi smiled sweetly and her eyes flashed wickedly as she clandestinely looked the warrior up and down. "You're welcome," she said like a little schoolgirl talking to her favorite boy.

Snake pulled another cigarette from his Winston box and lit it up. Putting it to his mouth, the healthy red orange flame intensified slightly as he dragged, then dimmed as he blew the smoke out of his mouth. "The chief of DARPA and the president of an arms manufacturing company...what business did they have at a nuclear weapons disposal facility?" Snake asked point blank.

"The truth is," the colonel said reluctantly, "that secret exercises were being conducted at the time the terrorist group attacked."

"Must be extremely important exercises if those two were directly involved," the FOX-HOUND veteran acknowledged. "Were they testing some kind of new advanced weapon?"

"I'm not privy to that information," the colonel said immediately.

Snake narrowed his eyes, detecting the scent of a lie, then put it aside. He needed to gain the colonel's trust. That meant he needed to trust Campbell. "Do we know exactly where they're being held?" he asked next. That was the first step of counterterror operations such as this one: locate the hostages and determine how heavily guarded they are. The second part was no mystery; FOX-HOUND wasn't stupid. The hostages would be guarded with the utmost protection.

Naomi Hunter stepped forward. "The DARPA chief has also been injected with a mini-transmitter," she explained. "As you get closer, you should be able to pick up his location on your radar."

Solid Snake nodded in understandment, and took another drag. "Do they really have the ability to launch a nuclear missile?"

"They say they do," Campbell answered. "They even gave us the serial number of the warhead they plan to use."

"Was the number confirmed?" Snake insisted, hoping it could all end and he could go home to his dogs.

"I'm afraid so," Colonel Campbell sighed. "At the very least, they've got their hands on a real nuclear warhead."

"Isn't there some type of safety device to prevent this type of terrorism?" Snake urged. Nations weren't stupid; when making weapons of mass destruction, they planned for catastrophes and made safeguards just in case.

"Yes," Campbell replied. "Every missile and warhead in our arsenal is equipped with a PAL, which uses a discreet detonation code."

"PAL?" Snake was perplexed with all these nuclear acronyms.

"Permissive Action Link," the former FOX-HOUND commander explained. "The safety control system built into all nuclear weapon systems. But even so, we can't rest easy."

Snake was now becoming confused. There was a fail-safe. What the hell was the matter now? "Why not?"

"Because the DARPA chief knows the detonation code," Campbell stressed.

"But even if they have a nuclear warhead," Snake reasoned, "it must have been removed from its missile. All the nuclear warheads in the facility are supposed to be dismantled. It's not that easy to get your hands on an ICBM." ICBM meant intercontinental ballistic missile, the basic nuclear missile.

"That used to be true," Campbell conceded. "But since the end of the Cold War, you can get anything if you have enough money and the right connections."

Snake knew this to be true. During the 1980s, the Western nations were hoping that a coup would throw the current communist government out of power. The CIA's involvement in Moscow increased in this time period, and then, the West got what it wanted. In the early 1990s, Boris Yeltsin lead a successful coup d'etat in Moscow.

With the hostile takeover, the Russians aimed to appease the West, and laid off hundreds upon thousands of nuclear scientists, assassins, and spies. They also sold a lot of nuclear weapons. With these items for sale, even the poorest Third World country could afford to finance a nuclear weapons program. That was the birth of nuclear terrorism, along with the augmention of biological and chemical terrorism, which brought another question to his mind.

"How well armed are these terrorists?" Snake questioned. "I know there was an exercise going on at the time of the revolt."

"They're heavily armed, I'm afraid," Campbell replied, pressing a few buttons on the computer, bringing up FOX-HOUND's armament for the exercise. It consisted of a French FAMAS F2 5.56mm assault rifle, bullpup style, with tritium sights. A few were claimed to have M203 40mm grenade launchers. The standard sidearm was the Heckler and Koch MK-23 SOCOM .45cal pistol, with the optional attachments of a Laser Aiming Module, or LAM, and a seven inch sound suppressor. A few FIM-92A Stinger missile launchers were brought along, and a variety of grenades and mines. Finally, a secret experimental weapon was described as a remote controlled missile, but not showing a picture. The FOX-HOUND veteran had a feeling he'd find out soon.

"What about their battle experience?" Snake pressed.

"The six members of FOX-HOUND in charge are all hardened veterans," Campbell answered. "They're tough enough to eat nails and ask for seconds."

A sly grin spread across Snake's face. "I wouldn't expect anything less from FOX-HOUND."

No one should've expected less. They were more elite than 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force. The unit were infamous sheep dippers, or soldiers who were stripped of military identity and sent in as subversives. They had assassinated more than one head of state.

"The others are Next-Generation Special Forces," the colonel announced, bringing Snake from his reverie. "They're not your average grunts either."

Snake was about to ask about this NGSF unit, and decided against it. There was one major question he hadn't asked yet. It was probably the most important question in counterterrorist operations such as this one.

"So, what exactly are they demanding?"

Colonel Campbell sighed uneasily, shifting in his uniform, and looked his grunt in the eyes. "A person's remains."

"Remains?!" They had started a whole terrorist attack and were about to incur the wrath of the United States Defense Department over somebody's corpse? How insane was that? To Snake, it sounded like a cheesy Hollywood movie.

"That's right," Campbell confirmed. "To be more accurate, cell specimens which contain the individual's genomic information."

"Cell specimens?" It still sounded insane. "Why would they want that?"

"The terrorists need them," the colonel explained. "You see, these Next Generation Special Forces have been strengthened through gene therapy."

"Strengthened?"

"You've heard of the Human Genome Project. They've been mapping the human genome, and they're nearly finished."

The Human Genome Project, started in the 1990s, set out to find the sections of DNA, the genetic strand of amino acid, that set genetic characteristics. It had taken over a decade to make progress, but now, they had a major breakthrough. It was all going to be a downhill roll from there.

"Following up on this research, the military has been working toward identifying those genes which are responsible for making effective soldiers," Campbell continued.

"There are genes that do that?" Snake asked incredulously.

"Yes," the colonel replied, "and using gene therapy, they're able to transplant those genes into regular soldiers."

"Gene therapy?" Now Snake was really befuddled.

Naomi Hunter stood from the corner, taking a tentative step toward Snake. "I'll explain this part," she offered to Campbell. He nodded, and took a step back. "With gene therapy, we can remove those genes which we know may lead to sickness or disease, and at the same time, splice in genes with beneficial effects, such as resistance to cancer, for example."

"In other words," the old colonel summarized, "we can overcome all sorts of genetic diseases, and at the same time add genetic characteristics as desired."

"Okay," Snake said, finally understanding the jargon. "And so if you knew which genes were responsible for making the perfect soldier, you could implant them in the same way, right?"

Naomi paused, giving off a suspicious vibe. "Yes..." she said hesitatingly. "We could."

"But it all depends on being able to isolate and identify those soldier genes," Campbell added, taking Snake's attention away from Naomi.

"And in order to do that," she said, with a pang of pride, "it's helpful if you can study the genomic information of one of the greatest soldiers ever."

The ex-FOX-HOUND operative looked at her as if she said something bitter. "One of the greatest soldiers ever?"

Naomi continued, unfazed by his tone and look. "The man they call the greatest warrior of the 20th century."

That broke through Snake's poker face, more sense breaking through, but not enough to make him think he was still legally sane. "You don't mean Big Boss?!" Snake half gasped.

"That's right," Naomi answered. "We've been working feverishly to identify the genes responsible for his incredible combat skill. So far, we've discovered about sixty of the so-called soldier genes.'"

"So his body was recovered after all..." Snake said, his voice trailing off.

"Yes," Campbell's voice broke through, "and his cells have remained frozen in a cryo-chamber. His genomic information is a priceless treasure to mankind."

Solid Snake shot a look at Colonel Roy Campbell, one of despise, not for him, but for his comment. "Priceless to the military, perhaps," he spat maliciously.

"His body was burned severely," Dr. Hunter said, bringing Snake's attention back to her. "But, it was possible to restore his DNA profile with just a single strand of his hair."

"You people are amazing," Snake said cynically. "And you're gonna transplant those genes into soldiers?"

"Yes," Hunter responded, the pride back again. "We'll use a process I discovered called gene targeting. The strongest soldiers don't become what they are by acquiring their skill through

training or experience. We now know that hereditary factors are far more crucial for creating superior soldiers."

"Snake," the colonel's experienced voice growled, "we can't give them his body. Its potentially more dangerous than all the nuclear warheads on that island put together."

"I hear the terrorists are calling themselves The Sons of Big Boss,'" Naomi said softly.

"The Sons of Big Boss...?" Snake said, mostly to himself. Now that he knew the basics, he could do his follow up work. These NGSF were starting to interest him. So, that was the next subject he brought up.

"Tell me about these Next-Generation Special Forces," Snake said.

"They started out as an anti-terrorist special ops unit," Colonel Campbell explained, "made up of former members of biochem units, technical escort units, and the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. Their purpose was to respond to threats involving next-generation weapons of mass destruction, including NBC weapons." NBC meant Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, the three types of weapons of mass destruction.

"Until they' were added, that is," Dr. Hunter added.

"Who's they?" Snake asked.

"These guys didn't start out as regular army," the retired Army colonel stated, bringing up a unit photo from the field. They were all dressed in olive drab Nomex flight suits, olive drab combat boots, load carrying equipment, elbow and knee pads, and fingerless gloves. The taller ones, mostly Caucasian and African, stood in the back, while a mix of Caucasians, Asians, and Africans took a knee. Most carried some variant of the AK assault rifle, but some had their hands on M16A1 5.56mm fully automatic assault rifles.

"Looks like a pretty international group..." Snake agreed. "Mercenaries?"

"Yeah, and it gets worse. Most of them were from a merc agency that I think you're familiar with. They were part of Big Boss' private guard, and after Big Boss went down, the military just bought out all their contracts."

"Outer Heaven..." Snake growled softly, remembering the inferno of a base burning around him, a large machine flaming, and a man dead in front of him. He shook it from his head and refocused his attention.

"After that, they were merged with our own VR unit Force XXI and retrained. If you ask me, these so called Next-Generation Special Forces' should be called simulated soldiers.' They have no real battle experience." The colonel said the last part of the sentence with a venomous tone. He was an old fashioned soldier, and it showed.

"Video game players, huh?" Snake smirked. This mission was going to be an easy piece of cake.

Dr. Naomi saw the look on his face and said, "Don't forget they've all been strengthened with gene therapy. They carry genes that make them excellent soldiers. Don't get careless just because they don't have much experience."

Snake turned to the good doctor and informed her, "I thought that using genetically modified soldiers was prohibited by international law."

"Yes..." she said slowly, "but those are just declarations, not actual treaties."

She had a point. If it wasn't a treaty, it could be broken with no serious consequences.

"The interesting thing," Campbell broke in, "is that nearly every member of the unit conspired in this attack."

Snake was shocked. There were fail-safes to prevent this type of thing. What the hell was going on? "How can an entire unit be subverted into rebellion?"

"They're calling it a revolution,'" she informed Snake.

"Since they all went through the same gene therapy," Campbell explained, "they probably felt closer than brothers. They see the unit as their only family."

"The Sons of Big Boss..." Snake muttered again, now understanding the name in its entirety. "But if they were regular army, they must have been interviewed periodically by army counselors."

"According to their files, they all got straight A's on their psychological tests. They all seemed like fine, upstanding, patriotic soldiers."

"But they all took part in the uprising?"

"No. Several people didn't show up the day of the exercise. That's why there was a resupply of troops."

"Was there any sign recently that something might be wrong?"

Campbell sighed, and rubbed the crook of his neck with the palm of his hand. "There was a report a month ago that they were acting strangely."

Naomi Hunter stepped in. "Apparently, they consulted classified information about the soldier genes and performed their own gene therapy experiments."

"They can do that even without you?"

Naomi shrugged her slender shoulders. "Well, our gene therapy process is almost completely automated, and besides that they're all geniuses with IQs over 180."

Snake mulled over whether or not that was natural or if that was genetically spliced in. Then the colonel spoke.

"Even the existence of this Genome Army is a national secret of the highest order. We've been hoping to investigate this thing quietly and deal with it behind close doors."

Snake never knew about this Genome Army until today. Even the few friends he had scattered throughout SpecWar never told him about this. It had to be one of the biggest wetworks operations to be kept secret. That couldn't be good.

Colonel Roy Campbell moved on to the final part of the briefing, bring up a screen with six people, all standing in trenchcoats, looking like from a gang conspiracy movie or something of the sort. "High-Tech Special Forces Unit FOX-HOUND," he announced. "Your former unit, and one that I was a commander of. An elite group combining firepower and expertise. They're every bit as good as when I was commanding them."

"So they're still around..." Snake's voice trailed off.

"There are six members of FOX-HOUND involved in this terrorist activity," Campbell continued. "Psycho Mantis, with his powerful psychic abilities."

A picture was shown of Mantis, a scrawny man wearing a black skintight leather suit with straps that made him look like an anorexic woman with bad fashion taste, and a gas mask to cover his face. Then the next picture was brought up.

"Sniper Wolf, the beautiful and deadly sharpshooter."

A beautiful woman, with skin tanned enough to barely pass for Arab, but not tanned enough to be instantly recognized as Arab except by the most skillful eyes. Her blond hair, high cheekbones, green eyes, medium C cup, slender waist, and toned legs made her very attractive, and she flaunted the bulge at her chest by opening her BDU shirt slightly enough to play with any man's eyes. She wore a dog collar around her neck for some reason, but Snake put it aside.

"Decoy Octopus, master of disguise."

The man called Octopus didn't look human. His skin had a Hispanic flair to it, but his cheek and jaw bones were thinner than normal, his nose almost nonexistent, and his ears...gone. He had chopped off his ears. The man's hair was militarily short, and he looked like an alien from a fifties' horror movie.

"Vulcan Raven, giant and shaman."

Shaman, Snake thought. Witch doctor mojo working. That thought brought a smile to his lips. The motherfucker must have been about 6'10" and weighed 290 at the least. Black tatoos decorated his tanned skin, with a raven on his bald forehead. That must've hurt, the FOX-HOUND veteran winced. Raven was nothing but muscle, and looked as if a flick of his fingers could kill a normal man.

"Revolver Ocelot, specialist in interrogation, and a formidable gunfighter."

This one looked like a cowboy from the Wild West: long, white flowing hair, silver moustache that slightly turned into a handlebar at the ends, old fashioned tie and bullet bandolier, cowboy boots, and a black armband. Snake almost laughed, then reconsidered. If they got into FOX-HOUND, they must have been real badasses. They got their due respect.

"Looks like a lovely bunch of folks," Snake said sarcastically. "Too bad we'll be meeting under these circumstances." Too bad for them, he didn't add.

"And finally," Campbell murmured, "in charge of them: FOX-HOUND's squad leader, Liquid Snake."

Snake's eyes went wide at the mention of that code name. The top five code name rankings were Fox, Bear, Snake, Dragon, and Cardinal. Out of those five names, thirty seven had received Cardinal, twenty five Dragon, two Snake, five Bear, and one Fox. The other Snake, Silver Snake, had been killed in a FOX-HOUND operation thirteen years earlier. The squad leader had to be extremely skilled in order to earn that name.

"Liquid Snake?!" the FOX-HOUND veteran exclaimed.

"Yes," Campbell breathed. "And you're the only person who can stand up to him."

"Liquid Snake?" Snake repeated.

"Liquid Snake," Campbell confirmed. "The man with the same code name as you."

"Tell me what you know," Snake ordered.

"He fought in Gulf War as a teenager," the colonel started. "The youngest person in the SAS." The SAS was the British Secret Air Service, the UK equivalent of Delta Force. "His job was to track down and destroy mobile SCUD missile launching platforms. You were there too, I believe. Didn't you infiltrate western Iraq with a platoon of Green Berets?"

Snake remembered his first combat, surrounded in an ambush. His platoon had suffered three casualties, but the Iraqi force, twice as big as his team, were all eliminated. "I was just a kid myself back then."

"The details are classified," Campbell continued, "but it seems that originally, he penetrated the Middle East as a sleeper for the SIS."

"He was a spy for the British Secret Intelligence Service?" Snake asked. SIS, also known as MI-6, was the equivalent of the CIA, and had a lot more power and effectiveness than the CIA, being bogged down with less rules.

"But he never once showed his face in Century House," Campbell said. Century House was the HQ of SIS. "He was taken prisoner in Iraq, and after that there was no trace of him for several years. After you retired, he was rescued and became a member of FOX-HOUND."

"I thought by the time I left, they were no longer using code names," Snake pointed out.

"I don't know his real name," the colonel admitted. "That information is so highly classified that even I can't look at it." Colonel Campbell reached for a folder marked Top Secret, and handed it to Snake. "Here's a picture of him."

The grunt opened the folder slowly, and saw himself. Then, noting the slight differences, he gasped at the picture. Same blond hair, same high cheekbones, same cold, lifeless eyes, same precise nose...it was him.

"Pretty shocking, huh?" Campbell agreed. "His skin tone is different, but otherwise, you two are exact duplicates."

"I have a twin?" Snake whispered, barely heard in the metal room.

"I don't know the details," the colonel said, "but it seems so. That's why we need you for this mission."

"You're the only one who can beat him," Naomi announced. "Now that I've met you, I know. You've got something that he doesn't. I can see it in your eyes."

The warrior looked the good doctor in the eye slowly, staring into the brown eyes of the beautiful female. "Why don't I find that thought more comforting?" he asked, piercing her eyes with his gaze. She couldn't bear it, and turned away. Still looking, he noticed her medical kit, and saw a pair of scissors.

"I need to borrow your scissors," he stated.

"What are you going to do?" she asked cautiously.

"I just need to clean myself up a little," he assured her.

"Huh?" she asked, handing him the cutting tools.

"Don't want to be mistaken for the leader of the terrorists," Snake explained, the scissors slicing through hair, blond locks falling to the ground.

The mission was on.