James immediately scanned the room with his keen eyesight, anything dangerous he would pick up in moments, suddenly he pushed himself away from the tank into a corner where he crouched in the shadows. The suit was specially designed, pure black and fiber optics to absorb any light that could penetrate the shadow, oh yes, it wouldn't make him completely invisible but with the way it was designed, as long as he remained still within a shadow he could remain nearly invisible to the naked eye.

"Trouble." James pushed the subdermal, it was the part of the communication device that had been implanted into behind his right ear, the subdermal clicked one as he spoke. Lambert immediately came with a reply,

"We're not in such calm water's either, Anderson. It appears Area 51 has determined hackers are in the network, we cut the connection before it could be traced back. We're unable to help you and your OPSAT's map won't be updated."

"I'm in here like a blind man?"

"Precisely. Until we can connect again you're on your own. Anna is working on it."

"Damn it!" James grumbled, "Anymore bad news?"

"Not unless you have some."

"Except for the camera over the door, not really."

"Then find that agent."

"What could he or she need?"

"Schematics, I'd have to say. Area 51, contrary to popular belief isn't harboring any aliens, but it is the home of most the gear you're using right now, including the goggles."

"Great, so if that agent escapes we're looking at duplicated Government technology."

"Exactly. Make sure that agent doesn't get any of the schematics for anything being worked on."

"Alright, James out." He clicked the subdermal off and hugged the wall the rotating camera was on.

When the time was right he kept close to the wall, but continued toward the camera and the door, he was partially afraid, he usually was trained in low-light conditions, and sometimes trained in heavy light conditions but they usually included plenty of shadows to hide in and back areas to enter. He was in a fully lit base with hundreds of guards trained to shoot to kill, no additional support from Third Echelon and he had no map to go by, this was the most dangerous mission he'd ever been on...and this was his first officially mission to begin with. He heard two voices coming up, he held his breath hoping they weren't trying to enter the water filtration room. The room itself was fairly large, about 56 square feet by 42 square feet, the middle of the room was covered by the large water tank which the filtration nearly finished it's run, pipes and air ducts led out of the room but none were at a height he could reach to climb through, they were mostly 18 feet above him. He only saw one camera as he exited the tank, he had hoped the camera hadn't spotted him.

"We're on high alert, you know that right?" The first guard spoke, he sounded older than the second guard,

"I'm not stupid, of course I know that. Someone found their way inside."

"They can't find him, he's been here for almost four hours now."

"Why not just sound the alarm? Spook him out?"

"Because, think about it, if he thinks we know, he'll bolt and kill as many as he can on his way out."

"We have M4s, you really think he can escape alive?"

"He found his way inside didn't he?" The conversation faded between the two soldiers as they turned a corner away from the Filtration Room.

James immediately clicked the subdermal, "We've got big problems now."

"We heard, they're on high alert without alarms, that means they know someone is inside and will be searching for you."

"If I sound the alarm that'll bring the agent out of hiding, won't it?"

"We can't risk doing that, your mission hasn't changed."

"And the access to the system?"

"We're working on it, they've put up additional support against intruders. Anna is our brightest and best, she'll find a way in. Wait."

The conversation paused for a few moments,

"We're in. Anna found a way and is masking our presence, hopefully we can stay in longer this time. She's working on fixing up a loop to their camera feed which will keep you safe, if worse comes to worse we'll disconnect the generators to the base and leave it in darkness."

The troubles, it seemed, only just began, the entire room went dark as did the entire base, flashes of red bounced off James' body and a female voice came over the intercom,

"Red Alert. A soldier has been found dead. Use lethal force against any intruders, we are on high alert Delta, shoot anything that is not one of us. Lethal force is authorized, shoot to kill."

"Shit!" James cursed, "This agent is getting scared now, what's the plan?"

"We're authorizing the use of firearms, but LTL only," Less-Than Lethal, as long as the enemy wasn't killed it was alright. The special ammo for the SC-20K had been, for the most part LTL, including the Adhesive Electrocuting Bullet Rounds, or affectionately named "Sticky Shockers", they stuck onto the body of an enemy and electrocuted them unconscious for several hours. The "Sticky Camera" had knockout gas activated by self-destructing the camera, when used it could knock out a soldier for up to 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size and how much gas had been inhaled. His final LTL ammo had been airfoils, small and round rings which, if hit in the head, can knock a guard unconscious for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, hitting someone in the chest could potentially kill in a slow manner, by damaging the lungs and allowing fluid to build up in them, one had to be careful with the airfoil rings.

"We're going to knock out the power to the entire base as well as disconnect the camera footage, we'll make it appear as an inside job. Now that the agent has been fully compromised, we may as well take advantage."

"Alright," James spoke, "Soon as I find the agent I'll knock him unconscious." He clicked the subdermal and grabbed onto his standard issue CQC army knife. With it's 5 inch blade and comfortable handle, it made it a handy weapon to carry on him. It was sharpened so of it came down to using it, it wouldn't take much effort.

James noticed the lights were down, he hugged the wall and ensured he wasn't spotted by the camera just in case they hadn't shut the system down yet. Once outside in the hallway, he spotted two choices for directions, unsure of where to go, he activated his OPSAT and marked the current location with a blue dot, so when he was to be extracted he could find his way back quickly. He clicked on NightVision and headed towards the left hallway, he peeked around the corner and noticed 7 armed guards coming towards him, he noticed they didn't have flashlights or nightvision / thermal gear and they were sweeping the area. He realized he had no way to avoid them because of the way they were positions in a lineup, one in the middle and 3 on each side. The guards would make sure no one would bypass them.

James had two choices, return to the water infiltration room or make another attempt to get by them, he looked back to see three more guards also without any form of nighttime gear in the same formation heading towards him, Damn it, looks like I'm out of options. He looked up to see a thin pipe hanging above him, he couldn't jump to reach it but he hoped his skills as an athlete would pay off. He backed up against the opposite wall then ran forward, he placed his left foot on the wall and pushed upward, placing his right foot above the left foot, he could feel gravity trying to push him back down but he couldn't give up. His boots were specially made for traction and to resist slippage against any sort of liquid or surface, so they hugged the wall tightly as he moved his left foot above his right foot and pushed off the wall towards the center of the hallway, gravity was pushing him downward but he used his gloved hands to grip tightly into the hanging pipe and when he was no longer swinging wildly his feet joined his hands and he hung onto the pipe like a monkey.

Unfortunately, the pipe was too thin to last very long, he only prayed it would hold until they passed. The 7 guards met with the 3 guards,

"Anything?" Asked one of the seven.

"Nothing. Check in the Filtration Room and continue the way we just came." Replied one of the three.

Without much question the seven guards entered the filtration room and swept it while the three guards continued on where the seven had just come from. James grunted as he heard the pipe about to give way; he realized no one had heard the same noise and when the guards weren't under him, he let go and landed on his feet, immediately crouching to reduce the noise he made when he landed. He knew that as long as there were guards present he would have a difficult time, so training and instinct told him that he needed to remove some guards from the equation and by entering the Filtration Room, he had just that chance.

It would be difficult to perform his actions without being caught, but since the entire room was dark and no one had anything remotely similar to night vision he wasn't worried as long as the power remained out. He headed to a corner and grabbed his SC-20K Rifle strapped on his back, first glance showed it was like a few rifles out there, but looks was as far as similarities ended. With a noise and flash suppressor it was about as quiet as his pistol, and with the additional barrel on the bottom of the gun which was detachable to allow a sniper or shotgun attachment, it could be used for heavy combat, long-range kills, or LTL shots, for this mission and most, the Launcher Attachment was primarily used and the Shotgun and Sniper Attachments were often left on the Osprey since the rifle could fire in a single shot, a three round burst or fully automatic firing. Plus, it was amazing how the Launcher attachment worked, with a press of a button he could change to one of the three LTL ammunitions without having to insert a single projectile by hand which increased his speed, and all it took to fire lethal rounds was another button press. Area 51, it seemed, was the birthplace of some of this technology and James couldn't be happier.

With a press of a button and a pull of the trigger he released a Sticky Camera onto the 4 foot high water filtration tank, using the OPSAT he could maneuver the camera and use it's various functions. He switched to night vision and found 4 of the seven guards in front of the tank, a quick peek from his corner showed the other 3 behind it. As soon as they converged into one single point he pressed a button on the OPSAT, the room was immediately filled with a loud whistle which startled the guards, each pointing the rifles in different directions. James smirked, it worked. "Check it out." Spoke a guard.

"Screw you. You check it out."

"It's the intruder."

"Why would the intruder whistle?"

"We're trained to die."

"I have a newsflash guys...I'm a coward."

"Yeah, thought I smelled something."

"Shut up!"

"Let's all go, and if we see anything we'll just fire the shit out of it."

"One should remain here, just in case."

"Coward."

"I know." One guard remained where he was, outside the range of the gas but the other 6 slowly trudged towards the whistle, made once more by the camera which had been planted 3 feet off the ground, exactly where James wanted it to land. Once the 6 guards converged on the point one sighed loudly,

"Nothing here but ghosts and shadows."

"Shadows, maybe, but I don't believe in ---" Before the guard could finish what he was about to say, a press of the button self-destructed the camera, and the gas knocked the guards out where they crumpled to the floor nearly on top of each other. The remaining guard freaked out,

"Oh my god! I don't want to die!" He was going to run away but James rushed to his point and grabbed him from behind, holding the knife to his throat, "A coward like you should provide information I desire. Speak and I'll spill your blood."

"A- AH!" He coughed as the knife pressed against his Adam's apple, he fell silent.

"Alright, I'm feeling generous today, tell me what you know about the intruder."

"Wha-what?" James tightened his grip on the guard, "Only speak about what I asked."

"Noth-nothing! We don't know anything about the intruder. Only that they've been here for the past 4 hours and killed one of our men."

"Any idea where he might be?"

"Uh, we think he's in the lower subsection, the Development and Testing area. It's two floors down but with the alarms having gone off and everyone on high alert the elevators aren't functional. The only way down is a heavily guarded stairwell, or unless you can levitate I doubt you'll want to use the elevator shaft."

"You've been very in -- what's that smell?"

"Nothing."

"Ugh, gross." James tightened his grip around the guard's neck and shut off the air supply to his brain, after a little time the guard stopped struggling and James let him down gently near his buddies.

He walked to the corner of the room and clicked the Subdermal, "Alright, I'm heading to the Development and Testing Area two floors down."

"Roger, we've discovered that the stairs are heavily guarded and you'll be discovered instantly. The elevator shaft that the man spoke of is your best option." Lambert informed James, "Be careful, this isn't going to be easy."

"My life hasn't been easy, Colonel, and this is just another day." James clicked his subdermal and headed out to the hallway, looking at his OPSAT he determined the route needed and began heading that way.

* * * * * *

Finding his way to the elevator shaft wasn't hard, and avoiding the few guards on the floor weren't that difficult either, it was determining how to use the elevator shaft without falling to his death that was the hard part. He saw, with night vision, which he rarely switched off, that the shaft went down at least twelve floors and the hard part was trying to reach two floors down, which was exactly where he needed to be. He shook his head though, realizing the further down he went the harder it would be to escape if something happened. From one of the many pockets on the Nomex suit he took out a thin rope with a mountain climber hook on the other end. By hooking one end to a stable point he could rappel down the shaft to the second floor, the problem was finding something he could use to hold the hook. He searched around and found the only thing he could find close enough was a door handle, had it been a door knob it may have been riskier, but a handle, as long as it didn't break, would be fine.

He attached the hook to the handle and pulled hard on the handle a couple times to ensure it would hold. The rope attached to the hook was made of thin material but with the proportionate strength to hold up a 230 pound man, thankfully James didn't weigh that much so he had no worries about snapping the rope, it was snapping the handle that the 172 pound man was more worried about. But with no other way to descend the shaft he was forced to use this as his option, besides, with his gloves which resisted heat and friction he could attempt to grab the cables running up and down the shaft in case something went wrong, though that option was slim at best. Backing up to the edge of the shaft he pulled on the rope one more time to determine if it would work, hoping it would, he jumped backwards into the shaft and gave enough slack to the rope so that when it went taunt, it would bring him against the wall with his head below the elevator floor opening. The rope that was attached to the hook was also attached to a small rectangular device located on the Splinter Cell's belt, the agent usually used two hands for the belt, one to hold the rope and another to hold the belt, which had a button on it to allow the rope to descent at the speed the operative would like. In most cases the rope would have to be released from the belt and left there, then a rope would be pulled out from the belt and the hook would be replaced, but Third Echelon was aiding in the development in the use of an electrical cable which, when activated, would send a jolt to the hook and release it from where it was positioned and another button on the belt would retrieve the rope which would wind back up in the belt. That was the one James was currently testing, the only bug was the hook wouldn't always release which wasn't that big of a deal as the rope was normally left behind. The new technology was to allow the Splinter Cell the added benefit of rappelling without leaving evidence behind...after all, he technically wasn't supposed to exist.

He reached the Development and Testing floor, using his feet he pushed off the wall and allowed himself to swing inside the floor using enough rope to land on the floor on his back, where he used a button to release the hook, and the other button to wind the rope back up in the belt. The device worked perfectly for him, whereas other Splinter Cells hadn't always had the same luck. The hook was placed back inside the belt in a safe pouch where it wouldn't be in the way, and he continued his journey. This floor, James immediately realized, was much more heavily guarded than the previous floor, and the hallways weren't 7-men wide, now it was only 3-men wide which gave James little room to maneuver past any guards he would encounter. Luckily, or rather not so luckily, he wouldn't have much time to encounter any M4 wielding guards once he entered a laboratory.

Inside that lab was little in the way of secret technology, it was actually full of caged animals experimented on, James was a little sickened by their treatment of animals in this way, but his treatment of humans hadn't been much better. The animals were fairly quiet, some sleeping in the darkness. The walls were lined with cages, some were empty and others weren't, most of the animals were chimps, some were actually rats and hedgehogs, one was a dog and there were two cats in separate cages. In the middle of the room was a metal table about six feet long and three feet wide, a wheeled cart was on the opposite side of the table in the part of the room James was facing, two cameras were in the room, one above the door and one at the opposite end though they weren't activated. In the corner there was located a cabinet of God only knew what, and next to it was a decent sized sink with plenty of antibacterial soap. Next to the sink on the left facing it was a container of biohazardous needles and a trashcan full of papers in the corner next to James on his right. A small two foot wall was erect next to James on both sides with a small gate probably to prevent the escape of the smaller animals tested in the room, while the door behind him was probably button activated to shut in case of a larger animal release. The darkened room held many secrets, some of which James wasn't interested in, though he would soon find one he was searching for.

Immediately James switched to Thermal, he saw the heat from the animals and one unknown in the corner at the opposite end of the 40 square foot room in the right corner. The size was probably that of a gorilla but there was no cage in the corner as it probably had been removed earlier. James pressed a button and switched to night vision and that was when he was forced to jump behind the wall, he saw only two things before he jumped, the sight of a silenced pistol staring right at him and the figure of a human holding it.

He kept flat against the floor, but rolled onto his back where he clicked his subdermal,

"Found him. He's in an animal testing facility and just fired a shot at me." He told Third Echelon silently,

"LTL, we need him alive, Anderson!" Lambert replied, "But be careful, he knows you're in there, so he'll do whatever he can and won't resort to LTL tactics."

"I'm behind a two foot tall wall with a small gate between, he's in a corner waiting, I don't see a way to get to him without being shot at."

"Remember, your suit can deflect bullets to a certain degree, get too close and they'll penetrate."

"Got it, Colonel." James clicked the subdermal again then grabbed his SC-20K rifle, he switched to the sticky camera and peeked his head above the wall, he noticed the agent was watching him through night vision, but hadn't let off a shot. James fired a sticky camera above the agent's head which prompted another silenced bullet wizzing towards James' head, luckily the shot missed and he was able to lay back on the floor. He opened the OPSAT and saw the image of the agent's head. Whoever it was, he hadn't seen the camera firing and probably didn't even know what it was. The agent was staring towards the door, he probably hadn't moved in hours if information was correct. It was now a waiting game and James wasn't in the market for losing.

Minutes passed, it was becoming quite the boring event but someone had to make a move, the sticky camera, unfortunately, was too far above the head of the agent to stun him with the gas, but James thought that the whistle could startle the agent into standing then using the gas, and he had to try. Pressing the button on the OPSAT he allowed the camera to release another whistle, the agent only looked up to the camera, unmounted it from the wall and quickly through it towards James' location. James grabbed the camera and placed it back in the barrel where he would reuse it later. Something had to be done, this couldn't go on for long and it was about time someone made another move. James radioed to Third Echelon,

"Activate the lights within 15 seconds, I need to take the agent and he's not budging."

"If we activate the lights it'll take some time before we can deactivate them."

"I don't have a choice, I need to take the agent down, now. I'll blind him."

"Okay, counting down." Lambert began counting down the time from 15, James switched to thermal vision and when the lights came on the agent couldn't help but utter a cry of shock and surprise. James hurried while the agent was trying to adjust his eyes after being hit with bright light in Night Vision. He dashed out from behind the wall and over to the agent, pointing the rifle to his head he held the trigger tightly,

"Game over. You lose. Drop your weapons and stand up, slowly." James ordered, the agent did as he was told, he dropped his pistol and rifle and stood up slowly. James positioned himself behind the agent and put the barrel of the rifle to the agent's mid-spine area.

"I've got him." James spoke to Third Echelon, Lambert replied,

"Good. Grim is working on removing the lights again, it'll take a few minutes."

"I'll interrogate him in the meantime." James then spoke to the agent, "Tell me your name."

The agent spoke Chinese, James was able to understand him completely though and even reply, he was fluent in four foreign languages: Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Of course, he was fluent in English as well. Being a Splinter Cell meant knowing the languages of where you were going, otherwise you wouldn't last long.

"I'll tell you nothing."

"Then you'll die where you stand."

"Rather I would die than inform you of what I know."

"He won't talk." James spoke to Lambert, "I'll knock him out and bring him to the extraction point." With a press of a button the rifle was set on "Sticky Shocker",

"I would not do that." The agent spoke.

"Give me a reason."

"Because I am prepared to die." The agent, who had been in a position with his hands over his head, wiggled a knife out from his sleeve and held it in his hand while James was talking to Third Echelon, with a quick move the agent back-kicked at James' knee, pushing him backward with a bit of pain, the agent turned and jumped at James with the knife going towards his throat. James let his feet give way and fell to the ground on his butt, he fired a sticky shocker into the agent's stomach and watched him shake from the electrocution then crumple to the floor.

James replaced the gun on his back, holding it there while he picked up the agent. The lights went off in the complex once again and James carried the agent slung over his shoulder while leaving the room. "I've got him." James told Lambert, "Heading to the extraction point."

"Good job but we have a change of plans."

"Oh yeah, what's that?" James asked curiously.

"You won't have a chance to escape the base through the filtration system now, they've activated security measures to prevent that, and unless you want to risk walking out the front door it seems there's only one option left."

"Why do I know I won't like this?"

"Because you need to disable their SAM sites and hijack a helicopter."

"So now we're in the business of stealing?"

"Just this once. They'll never know it was you. Their main computer is on the first floor where you entered through the Filtration System, reach that and hack into their terminal. Grim will tell you how to disable their SAM sites." Surface to Air Missile Sites, if activated the helicopter James needed to take would never make it to the edge of the base without being shot down.

"Okay, just a question though. Who's Grim?"

"Anna Grimsdottir. We nicknamed her Grim and it's habit."

"Well, long as we're clear. Alright, so any more advice?"

"Just disable their defenses and take a helicopter. If you can land it near the motorbike you can use it to get to the extraction point but be careful because they will follow you. Once you take the helicopter it's all about speed."

"Alright, got it." James left the subdermal on, he didn't care what they heard him say or do from this point he just wanted to get out and home safe.

James only hoped he wouldn't run into any guards, because with him carrying the agent he'd have a heck of a time trying to escape them. Here's hoping to good fortune. James thought as he left the Lab and began backtracking to the first floor.