Adam - combat strength, speed enhancement
Clara - vision enhancement, targeting
Max - microfibral muscle, ballistic protection
Zoe - run silent, cloak, radar transparency
Adam arrived on the docks of Liberty Island, feeling the latent dexterity of his combat strength, and especially in the speed enhancement which made him move like Vamp from MGS2.
He had joined this Deus Ex simulation so that he might help his friends; all three were already stationed at UNATCO, field agents trained to the supreme such that he might help them.
You see, Adam knew a lot about Deus Ex and how the storyline would go. The others had brief reads of the endgame, but he could help his friends where need be.
Loyalty was paramount to him. He was very loyal, he told himself frequently.
"Adam," Zoe appeared out of the shadows, unveiling her cloak augmentation.
Adam jumped at that; his finger trigger happy. He was glad to see his friend.
Zoe had dyed black hair, a pale countenance and could move around like a ghost, never being spotted. At her side were shuriken, a combat knife and a tranq dart crossbow.
"Has it started?" Adam asked eagerly, as Zoe nodded.
"The NSF have captured the Statue of Liberty," Zoe nodded to the tower, patrolled inside and out by tan armored troops wielding pistols. "Manderly wants you to take it on."
"Not us?" Adam had his hopes up to fight together with his pal. Zoe shook her head.
"He wants to see if you're ready after training," Zoe said. She unhitched a stealth pistol. "I'm to supervise."
"Thanks," Adam's face lit up, but Zoe was only grim.
"There's something else," she replied. "Max got himself captured."
"Oh," Adam's face fell. Was his friend not as strong as he said he was? Would this be harder than he thought? No, he was determined to make it work.
"Your orders are to hold back," Manderly's voice echoed in his infolink.
Max had been furious; small-scale engagements were not his thing, and now a proper live exercise and Adam got the opportunity? No way.
From the UNATCO command center where green armored officers patrolled, he could see the NSF, with their cheap pistols and scant body armor. He had joined this simulation to gun down his opponents - who cared if Manderly wanted to test Adam out? They were all fully augmented agents with great potential - and Max wanted to flex his muscles some more.
He ran out of the compound, oblivious to the calls of his UNATCO brethren and drew his shotgun, firing on the first NSF he saw. The enemy went down in a hail of bullets and he activated his muscles and his ballistic protection, to give him strength and fortitude against the wave to come.
He came in the front way of the statue, where doors were barred against his path. A turret roused as a camera blinked to identify him as a threat, and Max threw a LAM towards it, destroying both. The doors were blown apart, as a half dozen NSF fired upon him, and he took the hits, but his shotgun reigned supreme.
From somewhere, an EMP grenade was thrown and all he saw was blue, and then he was gunned down by the security bot behind him, bleeding out until the remaining NSF hauled him inside a cell.
And here he stood - drained of his reserves, unable to activate even his muscles to force the door open, while NSF patrolled and sneered at him and made his blood boil.
Adam leapt easily around Liberty Island, taking pains to keep himself hidden. If only he had Zoe's cloak augmentation, or radar transparency! He'd be invisible to organic and non-organic bodies alike.
She must be the best agent out of all of us, Adam thought. She can get in and out unscathed, while Max only attracts attention, though what about Clara?
Adam found a back way into the Statue, using his stealth pistol to take out NSF. He snuck in through a vent into the cells, taking out NSF and re-rerouting the computer systems to take the cameras offline, turrets on their side and open the cell door.
As NSF tried in vain to combat the turret's bandolier of bullets, Adam approached Max whose expression lightened slightly to be handed a bioelectric cell.
"Thanks," his face glowed blue once more. "Give me your pistol."
"What?" Adam blanched. He had only a prod and baton otherwise.
"Give it," Max snatched it from him, and Adam faltered. "I want to pay those bastards back."
Adam watched him go, as alarms sounded and he took to the stairs while Max cleared the exterior, and ascended up to where the NSF leader was.
"Don't shoot!" he raised his arms.
"I don't have a gun," Adam said, as he wielded the prod. "Come quietly and you needn't get hurt."
Zoe stood outside UNATCO HQ, as Adam made his way back.
"I did it," Adam said excitedly.
"Max's back," Zoe commented. "He shot a lot of NSF."
"Isn't that our job?" Adam asked, as he walked with her into the building and past the officer on reception, who gawked at Zoe like she was a foreign beast.
"Every life matters," Zoe looked him in the eye, then went her separate ways upon reaching Manderly's office.
"Well done," Manderley stood from his office. "Here's your reward for successful completion and in rescuing Agent Max from the bunkers."
"I don't know why he'd disobey orders," Adam blurted out. "There's a chain of command for a reason."
"Precisely why we are glad to have you on board," Manderley nodded, musing. "Go downstairs to get your equipment from Sam Carter and a medical check up from Jaime Reyes. Alex Jacobson who installed your infolink is also downstairs."
"Thank you sir," Adam exited, and Janice Reed the secretary called him over.
"Here's your login and password for the computer in your office," she said kindly.
My office! A rush of pride assaulted him and Adam entered his office, sparse but could do worse. He logged on and saw a congratulatory message from Alex and Jaime.
"Oh, how I've always wanted to work here," he hummed to himself.
He recouped on ammunition from Sam Carter, then went to Jaime Reyes.
"I'll be with you in a moment, Adam," the doctor was patching up a UNATCO officer.
While Adam waited, he saw Zoe emerge from Alex's office, the tech guru. She gave him a searching look and a nod before moving on.
What Adam knew - and surely the others did - was that this simulation was a guise for them to gain real power. Adam had suspicions as surely they all did that world events were colliding and there was an opportunity to step up, to grab power for themselves.
Collusion on their part to strike out on their own would certainly reduce their capacity to get things done; which was why it was necessary to stay hidden until time aligned just right.
He would have to find a time in which to talk with Clara, Max and Zoe about what the plan was to seek global domination. For his part, he just wanted to help them achieve.
"All finished," Jaime dismissed the limping soldier who nodded courteously as he went out.
"Is my health ok?" Adam asked, as Jaime tested his systems.
"All fine," Jaime nodded. "And your nanotechnology, too."
"Great," Adam's face lit up.
"You aren't experiencing any headaches from the infolink?" Jaime asked.
"Not at all," Adam grumbled, remembering the pace of events in Deus Ex, and how quickly he'd have to act. He'd die to save his friends; sacrifice himself in their names, if need be. Despite never being in such a situation, he was a coward at heart, he knew.
"If you need any old data, Alex will have it in his storeroom," Jaime mentioned.
"Old data? Like maps and things?" Adam wondered if this collection could help his friends' cause.
"Well, yes," Jaime admitted. "Seeing as everything you say or do is monitored through your infolink."
Adam went cold at that, and Jaime noticed him fiddling with his clothes.
"I'm sure he'll be able to answer any queries," Jaime turned back to his computer, and Adam knew with a thudding sensation that collusion was practically impossible.
He was stuck, like a sitting duck, with his shadowy superiors watching his every move.
And if he fucked up, he'd be dead. And where would his friends be, then?
Clara was surprised that Adam was silent on the boat ride to Battery Park. He was usually so eager to impress and please, but she also didn't want to burst the bubble. She had heard enough of Max's bolstering that he was to be held back - again - after he breached orders on Liberty Island.
"Adam will handle the hostage situation in the subway station," Manderly had told her over the infolink. "You will retrieve the Ambrosia in Castle Clinton."
Fine by me, Clara conceded. Her assault and sniper rifle were at the ready, and she was a straight shot with her vision and targeting augs allowing her to spot a rival from a mile, and headshots were her maxim.
Alongside UNATCO officers prepared to burst through the exterior, roadblocks had been set up and their fingered the triggers on their assault rifles, itching to break free.
"Your orders, Agent?" one asked, she who killed so quickly and with speed.
"Go," Clara made the first move, and burst into the compound with her rifle at the ready.
Adam could hear the gunshots as he made his way towards the subway, sneaking in down through a sewer hatch, nose wrinkled against the smell and damp heat as he found an alcove, an opening through which he could see the hostages surrounded by patrolling NSF, and a number of TNT explosives rigged up to the entrance which he had been able to avoid.
He pulled out a multitool, and remotely hacked for the subway doors to be opened. The hostages cried out and leapt for safety, as Adam triggered the doors to close. As the NSF began battering for them to open, and some looked around furtively for what could have caused such a scene, Adam fired with his stealth pistol onto one of the TNT explosives, and his face burned with the heat as corpses littered the place, and the NSF were no more.
Zoe stood at the steps of the subway, hearing it approach and remaining idle, her arms folded as she watched the hostages and Adam disembark.
"Zoe!" he beamed. "The hostages are saved!"
"And the NSF are blown to pieces," Zoe remarked. "Some of them have wives and children at home, you do know that right?"
Adam faltered, stumbling. He had always thought Zoe vicious and bloodthirsty.
"The NSF have a power plant for which the EMP field needs to be disabled before I can move in," Zoe told him.
"I thought you would be doing it," Adam pointed out. "You're the most stealthy."
"You're the newest field agent," Zoe said. "If you don't get experience, how else will you learn?"
Adam easily snuck his way into the NSF power plant, taking down the snipers on the roof one at a time, and infiltrating the building itself, hacking into the computer to set the machine to self-destruct.
What he couldn't understand was why Zoe was so reluctant to have him kill. Max certainly did a lot of it. Did Zoe have a heart?
As the building began to crumble underneath the explosion, Adam headed upstairs, almost blinded by the brandishing of Max's flamethrower scorching the NSF.
"Finally some action," his brow was dappled with the sweat of adrenaline. "You're to take the copter back to HQ."
The first thing Adam noticed was that his office's decor had been updated. He logged onto his computer, heartened by officers' comments and feeling proud and patriotic.
He stopped cold on an e-mail written by Zoe: "everyone's life matters".
"Come in, Agent," Manderly brought him in, once he reached his office. "We have some news. The raid on the plant failed. Agent Zoe is being letting go."
"What?" Adam gasped. Unwittingly, he realised she must've been taken in by the NSF. But why? He felt a surge of anger that she would desert her friends and betray UNATCO, the plateau to their power. But then it was replaced by a firm assurance, a solidity in the mandate UNATCO were operating under that they were right. It was safer to be playing for the people you knew, and then he thinly wondered what Clara and Max thought of it.
"We haven't heard back… " Manderly said. "We must recover the additional barrels of Ambrosia. You're to investigate the subway sewers."
"Yes, sir," Adam nodded, and glowed when Manderly gave him his bonus.
"Your assignment," Manderly concluded.
Clara had no qualms; after all, he was just a NSF leader. And she certainly didn't fancy sitting in the lounge while the other agents got to go out and flex their skills.
"I prefer sniping from afar," Clara conceded. "But I'll make sure it's done."
Adam infiltrated the sewers easily enough, and snuck into the NSF airbase where the missing Ambrosia crates were found. He made his way into the hangar itself, and heard the infolink buzz with Zoe's voice:
"Come to the plane. We have to be quick."
Zoe appeared out of nowhere from atop the steps to the plane, and Adam met her at the base. She had her combat knife at the ready all the same.
"You betrayed UNATCO," Adam pointed out, hurt. "Clara and Max - "
"You need to come with me," Zoe assured. "UNATCO is hellbent on world domination. We need to stop them."
"What about - " Adam stopped himself just in time. "What about you, me - "
"This is bigger than us," Zoe said. "Talk to Lebedev. We'll fire up the plane, then we can discuss what to do next."
With a jolting feeling, Adam knew this was the out. This was why his friends had been so sober and silent! But now he could be free. He entered the plane, expecting to see Clara and Max on board, but only Lebedev was in the plane.
"Adam," spoke Lebedev. "You've no doubt heard from Zoe."
"She's with the NSF," Adam replied, feeling something was wrong. "She said UNATCO was a fraud… "
"It is," Lebedev nodded. "And the Ambrosia will go to the common people who are dying in droves - "
Adam heard footsteps, his heart thudding and Clara rounded the corner, rifle at the ready. She looked dismayed that he had beaten her first.
"Oh, well," Clara struck back an impulse, knowing her orders were otherwise. "Kill him."
"Kill him?" Adam was torn. Surely she meant that they should all get on the plane together, and begin UNATCO's downfall?
"Kill him," Clara insisted. "Manderly's orders. Max's scoping the grounds; Zoe's got away before we could kill her, too."
Dumbfounded, Adam realised Zoe's actions were of her own. This was not some grand scheme. Zoe had broken away from the pact, and now there were only three. And he had to prove himself -
Adam raised the pistol and shot Lebedev in cold blood.
"Good," Clara replied, as though she had received a courier delivery on time and headed out that he should follow.
Max was awash in blood, to conduct the killing of most the NSF soldiers Adam had snuck past. He was furious though that he had missed a chance to combat Zoe. He saw Adam and Clara come up towards where Jock's helicopter was waiting.
"Gone," Max gave the final word, as Clara nodded and Adam looked worrisome.
"She's a traitor," Clara spat.
"To UNATCO?" Adam prompted, to which both of them stared.
"Of course," Clara replied. "Who else?"
"The killswitch has been activated," Manderly told Adam over his desk. "In twenty four hours, Zoe will be no more."
Adam was glum, but building up in him was a clannish resentment that Zoe would rue all that they had stood for. Even now in the divide caused by her absence, UNATCO was the firmament behind which he could stand. And Clara and Max were trying as they might, so was he?
"Here's your bonus, and we're sending you on a special assignment," Manderly said. "To Hong Kong."
"Oh," Adam's eyes widened. At last he'd be able to enact this part of the scheme. Unwittingly, without his friends' direction, he found himself more drawn to the bureaucratic reward structure that UNATCO held so temptingly in the palm of its hand.
"You leave immediately, to track down and kill Tracer Tong," Manderly told him.
On his way out, Adam stopped by Zoe's office. It was bare, with only the essentials.
As he reached the copter, Jock held him up.
"I'm taking you to New York," he said.
"New York?" Adam asked. "But my assignment - "
"Zoe's holed up there, in pretty bad shape," he said. "She wants to talk."
Adam nodded in mute assessment, as the copter set off from the landing pad.
Zoe budged on her chair, barely able to even move. She had to retain energy. She knew Adam would not necessarily join outright - but she had enlisted Jock to convince him to help her. Adam was the only one who knew where all the pieces in the puzzle fit - while she had read the plot summary, the finer analysis eluded her, but Clara and Max's time had yet to come. They were sleepers in the grand scheme of her plan.
She heard the whisper of a sound and glanced, combat knife at the ready to see Adam entering, his stealth pistol at the ready.
"You're here," she breathed in relief.
"I needed to see you," Adam replied darkly. "To see if it's true."
"If what's true?" Zoe asked. "You know UNATCO's corrupt."
"I know that we were all supposed to be in this together," Adam pointed out.
"UNATCO has killswitches on all of us," Zoe pointed out. "Tracer Tong will help deactivate them."
"And what of Clara and Max?" Adam was caught up in his gusto.
"They'll switch sides," Zoe nodded. "Once we start making some real progress against UNATCO."
"No," Adam backed away. "You're the fugitive, and I'm on the right side - "
"You know they're corrupt!"
"I know they're there," Adam rambled in his mad way. "And Clara and Max staying means I can still hold things together. I know things, about this world and I can keep bad things from happening!"
"By following orders?" Zoe snorted. "You were only good for that - "
"No!" Adam revealed his baton, and even as Zoe raised her combat knife, her augmentations not working, he whacked her over the head and took her out cold.
Adam stood over the unconscious form of Zoe, as UNATCO backup arrived to secure her. Even so, he escorted them out of the 'Ton Hotel, down the subway and into Battery Park. He knew that Jock would be long gone - he was an accessory, and Adam would be writing a full report. In the meantime, they traveled back to Liberty Island on the police boat.
"You wanted to see us?" Clara asked of Manderly, as she and Max entered his office.
"Good news," Manderly announced. "Agent Adam has captured Zoe where she is being held on the fourth floor cells. He will be remaining here until we can recruit a new pilot."
Clara and Max glanced at each other. It took all their willpower to remain firm.
Inside a fear was growing, one that she could not help quench. He didn't even know yet that he had turned on them all by capturing Zoe, by becoming so fastidiously patriotic. He believed Zoe was the only rogue.
Outside in the corridor, Clara and Max stumbled to hear what they would soon agree was the same voice on their infolink:
"I need you both to escape," Daedalus told them. "Zoe is being held on the fourth floor. Her DNA is needed for Tracer Tong to help defeat the killswitch."
Clara and Max glanced at each other. Surely the AI would not risk outing them right then and there. Their communications had to be secure, and they were now at the point in time where they had to breach their loyalties to UNATCO, but they had relied on Zoe to lead the way.
Adam was annoyed that he couldn't fly to Hong Kong sooner, he reflected as he walked past the medical wing where Zoe was strapped to a gurney, and doctors tried to find out how her dying would work.
He did feel distaste when he contemplated that Zoe had to be captured and in such circumstances. In all truthfulness he tried not to think about it. Clara and Max had not gone rogue, so why should Zoe? All the world would have been at their disposal.
He had been given clearance for his actions, and luckily he had survived the purge by proving his loyalty to Manderly. He had heard that Clara and Max had needed to be debriefed, but he was sure they would come through fine.
He felt a shudder and suddenly everything went black, and he heard doors opening nearby and heard the groans of karkians and his blood froze cold. As lights sprung on once more, he made to enter the medical wing but found it locked, and leapt just out of the way to avoid a karkian who mooned onto him like a lovesick, vociferous carnivore.
He rushed for the computer terminal, but realised his hacking would look especially suspicious and he should have known the login terminal. From down the hallway, he could hear cries and he hurried forth, where greasels had sprung their cages and the MIB in charge was trying to vain to contain them.
Adam leapt forth with his stealth pistol as scientists huddled in fear though the MIB buckled under the poison globs and fell unconscious. MJ12 troops were in a flutter with their rifles and black armor, unsure from where the next attack would come next.
"How could somebody breach this place?" spoke one, trying in vain to rouse the MIB in charge.
"Zoe," Adam breathed, and headed back to the medical wing, but the gurney was empty with the scientists nearby. He raised his pistol. "Where is she!"
"We don't know," exclaimed the female scientist.
Adam's eyes snapped to the vent opening. He exited out up the stairs to where the adjoining vent cover had been left open in disarray.
"Lock the place down," Adam began to shake with worry.
Clara helped Zoe through the complex, while Max hailed gunfire and took down anyone or anything in his path. MJ12 troops littered the place as Max entered in the code to exit - 1125 - heading out of the fourth floor to where UNATCO began from the underground.
"Can you use your cloak?" Clara asked. Zoe shook her head.
"The killswitch disables my augmentations. I can't do anything."
"Then let's bust this place wide open," Max prepared his weapons.
"We don't need to kill everyone," Clara scathed. "Alex and Jaime are on our side. Jock's going to meet us at the helipad."
Adam stood in front of Manderly's desk, who had been bloodily deposed by who he had assumed were his friends, and had carried Zoe away on Jock's copter to continue out their fantasy of toppling the world regime and becoming powerful in their own right.
"I can't believe it," Adam's fascination and loyalty with UNATCO solidified as did his hatred towards his friends. All this time they wanted to rebel! Meanwhile, he had grown close to the association who had never let him down. The dissonance between the plan that had always been in place amongst the four of them and the continued association with the organisation he meant to topple couldn't shake his inner need for praise.
"In the meantime, Walton Simons has appointed me to head this facility," Agent Sherman announced, the MIB whom had been taken down by the greasels without shame to face him now. "We believe the rogue agents mean to track down Tracer Tong. A copter will be here soon for you to stop their plans."
"Yes," Adam nodded. Agent Sherman did not have the cordiality or pre existing camaraderie of Manderly who had been gunned down in cold blood. Yet Adam was reminded of the firmament of UNATCO. He was here to serve. Perhaps Agent Sherman would be nicer, once he proved himself. And so continued the words in his head...
As Adam boarded the chopper, he was reminded that for all that he knew of events to pass, he could not admit to his superiors this information. He had to rely on their orders to lead him to his friends to take them down. He did not have the authority a free agent might, the way his friends now had free agency.
The copter touched down in Tong's Triad compound. Since she had visited Tong before, there was no resistance to her being escorted by Clara and Max into the lower wings, all three inflicted as such with the debilitating effects of the kill switch.
MJ12 had locked onto the copter and held them for a while; but through their combined efforts, they had disengaged the weapons lock and made it out safely.
"Tong," Zoe grit her teeth, as she made it into his chambers at last.
"All three of you," Tong motioned them into the chamber to deactivate their killswitches, one by one. Once it was finished, he met them in the control room. It was an asset for three such augmented agents to help achieve his goals.
"What's our next move?" Clara asked.
"Adam will know where we're heading," Zoe said. "We have to finish up our business in Hong Kong before he tracks us down."
"This compound is quite secure, I assure you," Tong said.
"He knows where you are," Zoe told him, and he paled a little. "We have three objectives: to recover the Dragon's Tooth Sword, to retrieve the ROM encoding from Versa Life, and to destroy the Universal Constructor in the lower levels. We must move quickly to hamper MJ12's plans."
If Tong was surprised by Zoe's breadth of knowledge, he did not show it. Rather he knew her to be on the same side.
"You will need employee access," Tong handed a code to Zoe. "For the UC, there is a grate where an agent of mine failed to deliver. This is another code. As for the Dragon's Tooth Sword… "
"She has an apartment on Tonnochi Road," Zoe told Clara. "I'll prep you on the details. But we have to be fast."
"Then you must hurry, if all you say is true," Tong said. "If this agent is quick on his heels, and knows as much or more than you do."
Clara glanced up at Maggie Chow's apartment, going up a flight of stairs in the building opposite to where Jock had given her the key to his apartment. It was positioned below Maggie's, she saw, as she toured the small space and through glass windows could see Maggie sipping tea while the maid handed her a tray and she picked up something on it.
Clara unslung her rifle, but she needed not only to assassinate but to retrieve the sword, otherwise it would have been too easy. She holstered it once more and headed down, onto the streets and found a service entrance, gaining access and making her way on top of the building through subterfuge and careful planning.
From atop the roof, she glanced down through the skylight but Maggie wasn't there - instead, she heard footsteps coming from the roof access and turned, rifle raised to pelt incoming MJ12 soldiers with troops, and realised with a cold sense of realisation that Adam must have informed Maggie of an assassination attempt.
She leapt through the skylight glass as bullets rained from above, landing amidst the fine furniture and rugs amid the maid squealing whom she promptly downed with bullets.
Activating her vision aug, she saw Maggie hurrying towards the concealed chamber within her apartment, and rushed to follow her, the sliding door snapping shut before she riddled it with holes. Clara could tell where all the guards were in the apartment, busting through the paper lattice just as blue filled her light, and realised an EMP had been set off.
Through an ajar door she could see the Dragon's Tooth Sword in its case, but her panic grew as she realised she couldn't see where her enemies were coming from nor could she rely on her expert marksmanship devoid of bioelectric energy.
She heard footsteps and in her fear could not mark from where they came, and knew that the time spent in trying to unlock the case would allow her enemies to pen her in.
She rushed back into the lobby but the elevator opened to reveal Hong Kong police units as backup and she rushed into the living room where she had crashed into from the skylight and saw troopers coming down the stairs towards her.
Bullets peppered the wooden walls of Maggie Chow's apartment and Clara saw no relief but to hurl herself out the windows, across the way and landing smack dab through the windows of Jock's apartment, banging her head upon the bed as she did so and seeing stars.
Max entered the deserted lane where there had been a car crash, unlocking at the far end a service tunnel which led him to a vent which he took a deep breath and leapt down, landing in the pool of water with pipes criss-crossing.
He pulled himself up and entered the vents underneath where he could hear a MJ12 trooper and security bot making its way across the corridor.
He peeked through the hatch and hid behind a corner, preparing his assault shotgun. He heard the elevator to upper Versalife behind him ping, and held his gun at the ready as he heard his zoom upwards. He would have to make this quick.
He drew a scrambler grenade, and threw it at the bot. The bot began firing at the commando, who was downed in the confusion. Max hurried past it before the effect wore off, and went downstairs to where he saw two inactive security bots behind a laser grid, and far off a female scientist at a computer overlooking a chamber of sorts, with a MJ12 commando patrolling past her from one corridor into another.
He heard footsteps coming from above which weren't from the security bot, and realised the dead MJ12 commando upstairs must have been found.
He heard the alarm sound, and the security bots whirred into life. Max rounded a corner, tossing a LAM their way to destroy both, and ran through the laser grid, knowing the enemy was hot on his heels from behind.
The female scientist gasped and hid for cover, while the MJ12 commando fired upon him with rockets which Max narrowly avoided, firing upon the commando and downing him.
Bullets fired from behind and Max took cover in one of the hallways, noting with horror that the blast doors were shut.
He activated his ballistic protection and fired on the incoming MJ12 soldiers and troopers, downing as many as he could even as his clips of ammo ran low and his augmentation absorbed most of the damage he was dealt from stray bullets or rockets exploding near.
Still, even as the enemy resistance waned thin, Max knew he had to get moving. He didn't know what forces could be gathering behind those blast doors, prepping to attack.
With the unassailable mad courage of one who thinks death will come quickly to a war hero, he leapt into the open, atop the computer and smashed the window into the chamber, realising too late that it was a drop he would not survive.
Zoe entered VersaLife using the code proferred, prepared to use her stealth camo if they recognised her. To her slight relief they did not, and she checked in at reception so that she might be granted the keycode for use of the lower levels of the laboratories.
She ascended the floors and passed the supervisor Huntley who directed her to the elevator, which after she descended met another grunt who informed her to keep her head down.
She entered the sprawling lobby with a statue of a hand governing the world and thought that if she did not stop Adam, he would do all in his power to stop his friends if the organisation backing him did not fail to praise and reward him and promise him advancement, in the face of the betrayal which pushed him forward.
Zoe found the women's bathrooms in which she engaged her cloak and came out to use a multitool on the keypad, so that the statue parted to allow entry. She hurried down, past guards and into where a computer station was set up. She heard footsteps as guards approached, but it was to a different corridor and she watched them hurry past towards an elevator which went to a lower level.
"No," she breathed, barely a whisper on the wind.
"Your friends aren't responding to their infolink," Tong informed her. "You must download the ROM encoding and hurry!"
Zoe found the login and password and accessed the mainframe as the alarm sounded. She hurried up through where she had come, relying on her cloak as MJ12 soldiers and commandos swarmed on either side of her, and she held her shuriken close lest they bump into her and realise she was invisible.
She hurried up into the lobby where the guards had emptied, but heard an EMP grenade beep and it went off and she panicked, blue filling her vision as her augmentations were deactivated.
By luck there were no soldiers around to shoot her on sight, and she hurried for the elevator. The supervisor for this level huddled in fear, and she prepared her shuriken in case he drew a pistol on her -
Smashing glass from above made her glance up; a figure wrestled her to the ground and she saw it was Adam before a swift punch knocked her unconscious.
"Zoe's been captured," Adam reported in to Agent Sherman.
"Mission completed, agent," replied Sherman. "Tong's been apprehended at his compound. The other two agents have been killed."
Something shook Adam, but he remained firm. At least Zoe was alive, to witness that he had been right in sticking to the firm, when his group had disbanded him so.
"Kill the remaining one," Agent Sherman ordered.
Adam paused - in the lobby of VersaLife, Zoe lay flat unconscious, now the lobby was filling with soldiers. He raised his pistol, all eyes on him and fired, and felt the well of tears, and held it back stoically, and his heart hardened, that he should brook it so.
This would be how it felt, Adam wondered, if a fourth ending to align with Page was pursued.