Enter The One Four One
Disclaimer: I own nothing relating to X-men Evolution, G.I. Joe, Kingdom Hearts, nor any other recognizable franchise in this story.
Ted's eyes alternated from his rifle scope to the large 20x spotting scope he'd set up in a recessed stand of cover on a large hill overlooking the warehouse. Beside it was a digital camera recording activity around the site.
"No signs of anyone other than Mystique." he whispered towards Lowlight.
"That's odd." Lowlight remarked before speaking silently into his radio microphone, "Xi, Quicksilver, any sign of any of Mystique's pals or anything?"
"Nothing on my end." Xi said.
"Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nada. Zippo." Pietro said as he ran like a hurricane around the complex: "WHOA!"
Immediately Pietro found himself dodging a torrent of gunfire coming out of a strand of scrub brush. He saw several people in black fatigues and the patches of the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant Security logo on their uniforms.
"I can't get a shot." Ted replied as he scanned through the sights of his SAM-R.
"Need some help here! Yikes! Bullets! Bullets! Bullets!" Pietro screamed as he dodged bullets.
Meanwhile Xi crept about the other side of the warehouse and felt the presence long before he saw the being.
"One?" Xi gasped with surprise.
The serpentine mutant was almost an exact clone of Xi but with black hair that had been cut into a single top knot. A wicked looking sword was at his side.
"So it is true." One of Xi's brothers, known as One hissed, "You are a thrall of the humans."
"Brother? How did you survive..." Xi had asked.
"No thanks to the humans." One had replied: "And I am called Solitaire now."
"I do not wish to fight you." Xi replied as he noticed that Solitaire's hands had that slight twitch he knew precluded an attack.
"But you have become a pet or a tame curiosity of the humans. I have no choice but to fight you...brother." Solitaire said as he practically spat the last word out like venom.
"AUGH! STRANGE CREATURE! STRANGE CREATURE! HELP HELP HELP HELP HELP!" Pietro screamed like a little girl as he ran. Chasing him was a feline creature about fifteen feet long and three feet tall with dark and tan striped fur and black spines on its back. A mouthful of wicked looking teeth and four beady black eyes completed the picture.
"So much for being subtle..." Ted replied as he flicked the safety off his SAM-R.
"Quit jabbering and start shooting." Lowlight replied as he began picking off the Paradise Valley strike team.
Meanwhile Angela was watching the live video feed from her laptop. "They're compromised." she said.
"What was your first clue?" Wanda said semi-sarcastically, "My brother screaming like a little girl?"
"AIEEEE!" Pietro's screams could be heard from the video feed.
"Is that a Nexu?" Angela said.
"A what now?" Shipwreck said.
"How do you know about something that looks like it came straight out of Star Wars?" Althea asked.
"Actually, it did come out of Star Wars. It's a carnivore that is native to the planet Cholganna." Angela replied, as the Misfits and X-men all stared at her.
"Carl is a big Star Wars fanatic." Angela explained.
"Who? Oh Staff Sergeant Draper, one of the Combat Controllers." Shipwreck replied, "The high strung Jewish guy everyone nicknames Drape?"
"The one she has history with." Blob said.
"What history?" Shipwreck asked.
"Uhm Angela's identity was erased by this cyber terrorist group called the Praetorians and replaced with that of a criminal named Liz Marx, and then she met Draper on the run. They had a fling and she had to flee the Praetorians and Draper got investigated but cleared. He narrowly avoided being thrown out of the Air Force and..." Blob said.
"Will both of you knock it off about Angela's love life. We've got to help those guys." Althea said.
"My sister's life is in danger and you guys are arguing over your co-worker's romantic life!" Alex snapped.
Althea put a hand on Alex's shoulder to try and calm her down and said, "Welcome to dealing with the Misfits and the X-men. If it's not romantic tensions it's playing pranks. If it's not playing pranks it's dangerously explosive or destructive experiments like the Macarena Dancing Exploding Frankenstein disaster!"
"What?" Alex asked despite herself.
"It was the Bayville Monster Mash and leave it at that." Althea said.
"Guys...let's get going." Lance said.
"All aboard the Misfit Express!" Althea said and tapped her Mass Device watch.
The Misfits and X-men and the Joes all arrived at the cluster of abandoned warehouses outside of town to the scene of a rapidly growing battle. From a building overlooking the warehouses Mountaineer and Lowlight were using their sniper rifles to keep attacking Heartless and Nobodies and troops in black uniforms bearing the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant insignia at bay. Xi was fighting against what appeared to be a clone of his. And Pietro was predictably running away screaming from a Nexu.
"AUGH!" Pietro screamed as a Nexu chased him around the place where Annie was being held prisoner.
Wanda said, "No one's harassing my idiot brother but me!" She used her hex powers to throw the Nexu away from Pietro.
Blob clobbered the Nexu with a punch as it flew past him, "Especially considering that he owes me for stealing my candy stash!"
"Blob will you forget your food for one second!" Lance shouted as he created a tremor to knock over Solitaire.
Solitaire toppled slightly but regained his footing, "By the stars!"
"Solitaire my friends are here. You can join us. You don't need to fight us." Xi pleaded.
"You are thralls of the humans. You have betrayed us brother! This is not over!" Solitaire said before he cloaked himself and ran.
Gunfire blared and it wasn't just the Joes trying to help Lowlight and Mountaineer or the Paradise Valley troopers trying to kill them. The Paradise Valley troopers were ambushed by two ten foot tall creatures with six mantis like claws and three eyes and fang filled teeth.
"Oh great! Acklays!" Angela remarked.
The Paradise Valley troopers turned their weapons on the attacking acklays. Both creatures swung clawed limbs that speared and cleaved anything in thier paths. A Paradise Valley trooper turned to run only to be speared through the back and tossed into the gaping maw of the acklay.
Angela yanked Alex out of the way of a gaping claw as they ducked inside the warehouse where Annie was being held. "Mutants trying to kill me but with other mutant teams fighting them. Creatures that consume people's hearts and monsters straight out of Star Wars movies! My life is anything but normal." Alex shouted as the acklay's claw slammed into the ground inches away from where she and Angela had been hiding.
"What was your first clue?" Angela asked as she snapped a couple shots from her Glock at a Neoshadow Heartless that came running at them as they got inside the building.
"I don't know, it was either the blue lady that kidnapped Annie or the ten foot tall green monsters that look like toothy lobsters! Take your pick!" Alex snapped before turning her head and seeing her sister tied to a chair and gagged for good measure.
Alex headed over to where Annie sat bound and gagged in her chair. As Alex got closer Annie squirmed and made several inarticulate noises behind her gag.
"Mmph! Mmfh! Mmmph!" Annie said.
Alex froze. She had a feeling that she was being watched. And from the shadows Mystique sprung and kicked Alex, knocking the young woman flat on her face.
Angela turned and aimed her Glock, but realized that if she did shoot and miss, she could easily injure Annie or Alex. That hesitation was all Mystique needed to kick Angela in the diaphragm, knocking the FBI computer expert on her back.
Angela hit the ground, seeing stars and Mystique brought up her foot, preparing to stomp on the helpless programmer's head when her attacker was struck by a static bolt. Mystique staggered back a pace.
"You stupid bitch!" Alex said, angrily, "You kidnapped my sister!"
She struck Mystique with a second static bolt, the blue skinned shape shifter staggered again and Alex approached angrily, blasting Mystique with a third bolt. Mystique recovered enough to transform herself into a raven that flew off and dodged a fourth and very powerful static bolt from Alex.
Alex went over to help Angela to her feet as Annie wriggled in her bonds and made some more noises behind her gag, "Mmph! Mmm! Mmph!"
Alex understood that Annie very likely was saying, "Could you untie me right now?"
Alex hurried over and began to untie Annie's hands. As Alex went to work on Annie's other bonds Annie removed her gag and removed the rag stuffed in her mouth that had been there for several hours. Alex gave her sister a sip of water.
"I appreciate the rescue, but who on Earth was that blue lady?" Annie asked.
"A very nasty lady named Mystique." Angela said, "She's a mutant shapeshifter."
"And is she responsible for those creatures that look like they're straight out of Star Wars outside?" Annie replied as she saw the foot of one of the acklays through an open window.
"Forget look like they're straight out of Star Wars they are straight out of Star Wars." Angela replied.
"And you know this how?" Annie asked Angela.
"Don't ask." Angela replied. Carl Draper it looks like your near obsession with Star Wars has come in handy. Angela thought to herself.
CRASH! The acklay's head smashed through an upstairs window and its jaws narrowly missed hitting Annie.
Alex zapped it with a static bolt. It barely registered with the acklay which let out a feral screeching roar and turned towards Alex.
The snapping jaws clamped around Alex's jacket and Alex desperately struggled and wriggled out of the jacket, narrowly avoiding being dragged to out to her death.
Angela helped Alex to her feet and led both Annie and Alex out a back way only to be confronted by a growling Nexu that was preparing to pounce on the trio. The snapping Acklay that had just about torn its way into the warehouse made backing up not an option. Angela raised her pistol to fire it. She figured she could at least try and injure the thing, after all she knew it was lightly constructed, but she knew inwardly she could probably hit it with a round before it managed to finish her off and...
"Hey Ugly! Pick on someone your own size! HYAH!" Blob shouted and grabbed the Nexu by the tail and dragged it before spinning it over his head like a rag doll, albeit one bristling with claws, spines, and sharp teeth, and lobbing it at Sabertooth who was duking it out with Wolverine.
Angela took the opportunity to lead Alex and Annie out the back entrance and said, "Thanks for the save Blob."
"No problem. Ouch that looks like it hurt." Blob said as Sabertooth flung the Nexu into the side of the building, killing it.
Jean was currently telepathically throwing a couple of Paradise Valley thugs into the nearest stand of bushes as one of the acklay's approached from behind her.
"Jean! Watch out!" Scott shouted and blasted the acklay with a powerful optic burst into the abdomen.
The creature staggered backward but let out its screeching roar and swung a claw that narrowly avoided spearing Jean. Scott blasted it in the belly a second time and the giant creature hit the ground with a smoking hole in its chest.
Shortly afterward both Sabertooth and Solitaire heard commands in their comm links.
"This isn't over Wolverine!" Sabertooth said and retreated along with Solitaire.
A short time later the X-men, Misfits, and Joes consolidated. As they did so Angela glanced at her smart phone and her brow furrowed, "This isn't good."
"What? What isn't good?" Xi asked.
"Danielle Atron...she's dead." Angela replied.
"Dead? How?" Annie asked.
"Dead, basically not alive. As in heartbeat is zero..." Pietro remarked.
Wanda smacked him in the back of the head, "Quit being a jerk Pietro."
"Now to answer the sixty-four dollar question, she was shot." Angela remarked.
"Now the other sixty-four dollar question is who killed her and why?" Paige asked.
"In this day and age a corpse could have a dozen authors pretty easily." Ted replied, "Who are her enemies?"
"Who weren't here enemies?" Angela quipped.
"Find a motive and we find the suspect." Ted replied.
Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson, a member of the United Kingdom's Special Air Service attached to the joint special operations unit known as Task Force 141, watched from his hide site. He had been studying Danielle Atron's habits for several days. He wasn't alone. From a nearby hide site his fellow SAS trooper, Lieutenant Simon 'Ghost' Riley, was also carrying out his surveillance. From a third hide site Captain John 'Soap' MacTavish would give the order for the hit. When the time came he would give the order and two Chey-Tac Intervention sniper rifles would fire simultaneously. Both Ghost and Roach would fire their rounds with the goal being to shatter the pane of glass of Atron's office window and simultaneously hitting her with the second round.
Poetic justice. Roach thought.
Behind the black balaclava with the white skull print Ghost grimly adjusted his aim with the Chey-Tac Intervention sniper rifle. Ghost keyed the mike of his radio once, indicating he would fire first and Roach would fire the second round, the killing shot at Atron.
"Aiming just below the neck." Ghost said quietly, barely above a whisper.
Not often that a mission and personal business coincide.Roach thought briefly as he adjusted his own aim to the exact spot Ghost was aiming.
"Aye, aiming below her neck." Roach replied.
Soap's voice echoed over both headsets. "Fire on my mark. Three...two...one!"
Both rifles spoke as one. Thanks to the suppressors the sound could barely be heard inside the two hide sites.
The pane of glass at the window shattered from Ghost's shot and through his scope Roach watched the look of shock on Danielle Atron's face as the glass shattered and almost an instant later the .408 caliber round from his rifle struck her just below the collarbone, and ripped into her ribcage, damn near obliterating her heart. He saw the look of surprise disappear from Atron's face as her life rapidly ended and her body pitched backward.
Justice. Roach thought grimly as he worked the bolt of the Chey-Tac rifle and stuck the fired cartridge casing into his pocket before taking the rifle and sticking it in the case, and quietly leaving the hide site.
Washington, D.C.: "Clayton," General Whithalf said, "I do have some bad news."
The two men were at a function in Washington, D.C., part of a conference they were attending on the latest on the Mutant Issue.
"What would that be, sir?" Hawk asked.
"Not what. Who." Whithalf said, "Are you familiar with Lieutenant General Shepherd?"
"Vaguely. I do know he's the one who started Task Force 141. Something with Joint Special Operations Command." Hawk said.
"Precisely. They've done quite a few good things on the counterterrorism front." Whithalf said.
"And the fact that Shepherd seems to not mind General Eddington gives me pause as well." Hawk replied sagely.
"Oh the other hand Shepherd has done quite a few great things against some of these terrorist groups out there." Whithalf replied, "Some say he's even helping go after the FoH, but no one's confirming it."
"Slick. Playing both sides of the coin." Hawk remarked.
"My thoughts exactly, Clay." Whithalf remarked, "Not trying to totally alienate the Eddington side of the house but he's not totally unfriendly towards our side."
"I still wonder why we would want to have Shepherd poking around." Hawk replied.
"Shepherd is a pretty ruthless opponent. Keep friends close and enemies closer. Besides Task Force 141 could potentially be a help with this whole Heartless issue." Whithalf said, "And if nothing else Shepherd does have that connection with Eddington that could be compromised."
"Keep your friends close and enemies closer? Since when were you a follower of the ways of the Cosa Nostra." Hawk said.
"I happen to be a big fan of learning, no matter from which source." Whithalf remarked.
"I still think you've seen the Godfather one too many times, sir." Hawk replied.
"Well, yes, but there are lessons worth keeping in mind from that bit of cinema." Whithalf replied.
"I know what you mean, sir, but honestly I don't like it. Having those TF 141 guys around the Pit would be a bit of a turf war." Hawk replied.
"Not quite. It's only three teams." Whithalf replied, "I'd advise getting your political face on, Clay."
Heading towards them were Generals Shepherd and Eddington. "Sir," Eddington said to Whithalf, "I'd like you to meet General Hershel von Shepherd, commander of Task Force 141. Lieutenant General Shepherd, this is General Whithalf and Lieutenant General Hawk."
"The leader of G.I. Joe. Your reputation precedes you." Shepherd said, "I am quite familiar with your pet project of reforming members of the Brotherhood of Mutants as members of the US Army."
"And quite successfully." Whithalf said.
"I'm not disputing your success, even with your rather, eh, unorthodox methods." Shepherd said.
"To say the least." Eddington said.
Hawk shot him a glare. Eddington gave a bare half smile with a snide expression.
"And this Task Force 141 of yours?" Hawk asked.
"They've met with a fair amount of success themselves, especially addressing this latest threat called the Heartless." Shepherd replied.
"Really?" Hawk said, "I am aware that there were a couple missions in Mexico involving a joint operation with the CIA."
"Among other elements. But we're looking to put our heads together with the subject matter experts in dealing with the Heartless." Shepherd said.
"What exactly are you requesting?" Hawk replied.
"I've got three teams from Task Force 141 and their kit. We'd need some space on the Pit." Shepherd asked.
"Hmm, I'm sure that can be arranged." Hawk said, mentally going through some calculations. Sure they could fit the TF 141, but where on the base, and more importantly how would he keep an eye on them. And then the idea hit him like a ton of bricks.
Misfit Manor. The Misfits could keep the TF-141 guys from getting around and we've got plenty of people who could easily keep tabs on them. Hawk thought before saying, "I'd be more than happy to help, and I've got just the place."
"Good. I'll contact my teams that will be on the Pit with you." Shepherd replied.
"That was another good test of those creatures." Axel remarked to Vexen, "Now mutating the acklays and nexus into Heartless can make them even more powerful."
"Already done. And I'm certain Mindbender wouldn't mind even more samples." Vexen remarked.
"He wouldn't, and the Paradise Valley area is a perfect test site. Danielle Atron almost entirely controls the town." Axel remarked.
"More like controlled." Larxene remarked, "Danielle Atron is dead."
"That is no bother." Vexen replied, "We have gotten all we needed from her. If she were alive, she could easily have revealed part of what we were up to."
"These people believe they're going to divide their world amongst themselves with our help, having no idea that we will take them down." Xemnas replied.
"There is the matter of Paradise Valley." Demyx remarked.
"Well, true," Xemnas said, "Danielle Atron very likely may have left some loose ends lying about. And I see an opportunity to not only to tie off the loose ends, but also test out some of those newer varieties of Heartless."
Vexen smiled and said, "It will be done at once. And it looks like our COBRA friends have the same idea."
Vexen waved his hand over the table, showing scenes of Xamot and Tomax sitting behind their desks at Extensive Enterprises, giving one order.
"Atron is dead. Initiate Operation..." Xamot began.
"...Leave no Trace." Tomax replied.
The sounds of roars and explosions could be heard just then. "What the hell?" Althea asked.
Draper had his radio clutched to his ear and as he listened the color drained from his face, "Dear God."
"Draper, what's going on?" Shipwreck said.
Draper turned the laptop he was working on towards Shipwreck. It showed live video feed from a UAV hovering over the area. Heartless were running through the streets chasing down citizens, with several COBRA Crimson Guard troopers moving methodically through the city, shooting anyone they came into contact with. Larger monsters were wrecking buildings around Paradise Valley.
"Drape, does the UAV have weapons?" Shipwreck asked.
"No it doesn't." Draper said angrily, "And there's not going to be another one anytime soon."
"Draper," Cover Girl began, "You and Angela get on the horn to the Pit, get as many rescue birds and gunships out here as you can."
"Where are you guys going?" Angela asked.
"We're going to do what we can to stop those things. We need those birds ASAP." Cover Girl remarked as she reloaded her weapons.
"Paige, can you orb us all over there?" Cover Girl asked.
"I've never tried that before. But I'll give it my best shot." Paige said, "Just be sure everyone gets close to me."
Ted stood until he was brushed up beside his fiancee.
"Not that I don't appreciate cuddle time, Ted, but this isn't the time or place." Paige quipped.
"Sweeting, there's a practical reason behind that. Namely to keep Shipwreck from attempting the same thing." Ted remarked with a sardonic grin.
The Joes, X-men and Misfits bunched up by Paige and Annie and Alex also headed over.
"Where do you think you're going?" Roadblock remarked.
"This is our hometown, we know it better than anyone of you." Annie remarked.
"And I'm not about to let those Heartless things or COBRA destroy my home without a fight." Alex said, tears in her eyes.
Roadblock said, "Very well, come with us. Your knowledge should be a plus."
"Good luck guys." Angela said, as she tapped keys on her laptop, "I have camera footage from you guys. I can see and guide you."
"I've got the Pit on the horn, they'll be sending air support via the Mass Device express." Draper remarked.
"Let's get to it then." Cover Girl remarked, "Paige..."
Paige took a deep breath and closed her eyes, concentrating as hard as she could and in a soft shower of blue orbs the X-men, Misfits, and G.I. Joes disappeared.
The X-men, Misfits and Joes materialized on a hill overlooking Paradise Valley, below them they could see the destruction and a gray Isuzu Rodeo making its way along the backroad. It was around then that Annie lost her footing, falling down the hill.
"Annie!" Alex yelped with alarm as her sister rolled into the road below, into the path of the oncoming SUV.
"Bloody Hell." Captain John "Soap" MacTavish remarked as he peered out of the gray Isuzu Rodeo's passenger side window as the vehicle moved along the road out of Paradise Valley.
Flames shot out of a destroyed car as an acklay smashed it with its claws. The creature was branded with the symbol of the Heartless and glowing heart shapes flew into the air along with flame and smoke.
"What the devil is that thing?" Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley remarked from the back seat.
"I know what it is but it shouldn't sodding exist." Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson replied from behind the steering wheel.
"It's real enough to be wrecking the town with an assortment of other creatures." Corporal Nace Bilby remarked from the back seat.
"There's bugger all we can do against all this." Ghost said, "We'd best get to ground and...Roach what the hell!"
The car swerved as Roach cranked the steering wheel with a hard right, bringing them through a wire fence right into a pasture. The vehicle fishtailed a few feet after a rather substantial bump and skidded to a halt.
"What the hell was that for?" Ghost demanded.
"There was a girl in the road." Roach protested.
"Roach, for fuck's sake this is neither the time nor the place to go barking mad with 'girl in the road' ghost stories." Ghost said, irritated as he rummaged around in the back seat to grab the tool kit.
"No, the man's right." MacTavish remarked. On the side of the road a young woman with shoulder length brown hair was standing up.
"She might be injured." Roach said as he raced over, grabbing the medikit.
"Roach, now's not the time." MacTavish said, racing after him.
"She's mixed up in all this somehow. Someone doesn't bloody appear out of nowhere into a road." Roach said.
"I'll relay this to HQ. Something tells me Shepherd's gonna want to hear about this." Ghost remarked.
Annie shakily got to her feet, brushing gravel, dust and occasional flecks of grass off her clothing and skin as she stood up. Other than a few scratches and scrapes she was alright. That gray SUV had missed her, skidding into the cow pasture.
She saw two men running out of the thing. Two men wearing blue jeans, dark colored shirts and military looking vests and weapons. One of them was a stocky fellow with a brown mohawk and a beard stubble and the other was a bit taller and leaner with black hair. Both of them had British flags on their vests.
Mercenaries of some kind? G.I. Joe Allies? What a hell of a day. Kidnapped by a shape shifter, seeing creatures that shouldn't exist destroying my home town and...Annie thought as the two Brits reached her.
"Are you alright?" the taller one said.
"I'm fine, just a bit shaken." Annie remarked as she looked into the face of the first one, a medic of some kind judging by the trauma bag he was carrying in his left hand.
"I can imagine." the Englishman said, "How did you get here?"
"This is going to sound crazy." Annie began, "But I assure you I'm not insane."
"Roach..." the man with the mohawk remarked with a thick Scottish accent.
A codename of some kind? Annie thought. What kind of parents name their kid Roach?
"Well, start with your name, miss." Roach replied.
"Annie Mack." she said as Roach gently guided her to a sitting position, examining her for injuries.
He took a penlight, gently holding Annie's eyelids open, checking for signs of a concussion. "You're alright. For someone who just took a fall down a hill I give you a clean bill of health."
"Ghost, what's the state of the truck?" the Scotsman called.
"It's buggered." Ghost remarked, after crawling under the truck, "Stuck fast and the front axle is broken thanks to a rock we ran over."
"Annie!" came a shout from up the hill.
"Alex, I'm ok." Annie shouted back.
For being surrounded by four commando guys with guns. Annie thought as she took in the four men, hoping she hadn't rolled into a hostage situation for the second time.
The other two men ran over to talk to the Scotsman. One of them was a rather muscular fellow, a bit shorter than Roach, wearing green trousers and a lighter green shirt with a British flag sewn on it. A black balaclava with a white skull print and reddish tan sunglasses and a radio headset completed the look.
"Ghost, she's a local citizen of the area." Roach remarked, "Harmless enough."
The masked man turned, aiming his ACR up the hill and said, "Glad to hear that, Roach, but there's the miniscule problem of those other blokes coming down the hill."
Roach moved in front of Annie, levelling his own rifle up the hill, as if to protect her.
"Don't! They won't hurt you guys, unless you're part of COBRA or something." Annie remarked.
"No, we're not part of that particular group." Ghost remarked dourly as he lowered his own weapon.
"Although the mask could possibly give one that impression." the fourth man, a deeply tanned fellow with a South African flag sewn onto his body armor vest remarked.
"Bollocks to you, Nace." Ghost remarked.
The X-men, Misfits and Joes wandered into the field towards the Task Force 141 team.
"I recognize them now." Ghost remarked, "They're the wankers from Bayville. From the Sentinel Incident."
"So the sixty-four dollar question remains," Althea remarked, "Who are you guys?"
"Not at liberty to discuss, lass." Soap remarked after Roach finished his examination on Annie and helped her to her feet.
"Wait, I think we're on the same side." Cover Girl remarked as she listened in on her own radio, "I'm on the line with Angela."
Right about then Ghost was answering a radio call as well, "Right boss. We're working with them? Understood..."
"Again, who are you guys?" Althea replied.
"One of them looks like he could pass for Beach Head, except he actually bathes." Pietro remarked.
"You must be the Misfits then." Soap remarked, before extending a massive hand, "John MacTavish."
"Also called Soap." Roach remarked as Soap shot him a glare.
"Gary Sanderson." Roach continued, and with an ironic smile adding, "Also known as Roach."
"Simon Riley." Ghost replied brusquely.
"Or Ghost as we call him." the South African replied, before introducing himself, "Nace Bilby."
"We're from Task Force 141. We've been assigned to work with your lot." Soap remarked.
"We could use all the help we can get." Shipwreck replied, "Now let's quit jawing and get going."
"Whatever those things are, we observed them coming out of the Chemical Plant." Ghost replied.
"We'll help the civilians," Shipwreck remarked, "Forge, Annie, you guys go with Soap and that group to the Chemical Plant, maybe we can find a way to stop these things there."
"Roach, keep an eye on those two." Soap remarked, "They are civvies after all."
"Nace, go with the snipers and overwatch our approach." Ghost added.
"Aye." Nace replied as he gripped his M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle and followed Mountaineer and Lowlight.
The Task Force 141 group plus Forge and Annie waited to head to the Paradise Vallley Chemical Plant as Mountaineer and Low Light moved to the first building overlooking the plant to set up an overwatch position.
"Soap, this is Nace, we're in position." Nace's voice echoed over the radio.
"Right, we're moving." Soap replied over his own radio.
"Angela, I've got Wild Bill leading a group of four gunships and two Predator Drones." Draper remarked.
"Good, I got through to the Pit. Ace is sending the rescue birds after them. I'm putting in the landing zones on every broadcast system in Paradise Valley." Angela said as she typed away at her computer.
"Let me know when the birds get into the airspace." Draper replied, "I'll have gun runs going left and right."
"I'll say this for Atron, she had an efficient surveillance and broadcast system in the town. I've hacked in and can guide the teams to any survivors." Angela said.
"Brilliant." Draper remarked, "Hot damn! First Predator is in the airspace and I've got control. Targeting those COBRA armored Jeeps near Shipwreck's team."
"Way ahead of you, Carl. I told them to hold position and you're bringing fireworks down." Angela said.
"Reaper One One, you're cleared hot. Engage those armored jeeps. Come in bearing 270, from Angels 15."
Angela glanced up, seeing the Predator drone racing towards them, firing its Hellfire missiles.
"Good shooting, Drape!" Shipwreck's voice bellowed over the radio.
"I've got an acklay moving north to you guys' position. It's not reacting to you, so don't provoke it." Draper began.
"Drape! I think it's already pissed off. It's levelling the block." Shipwreck said.
"Got a pest problem there, 'Wreck?" Wild Bill said over the comm, "I've got that critter in my sights."
Wild Bill blasted away with the 30mm Chain Gun on his Apache, blasting the acklay down.
"Nice shooting, Tex, now kindly get the hell back, I've got another Predator racing in on a missile run. A midair collision isn't what I've had in mind." Draper remarked.
"Gotcha, Drape! Wilco!" Wild Bill said.
Ghost reached the doors of the Paradise Valley Chemical plant and kicked one of them in before running inside, MacTavish behind him. Forge followed Soap with Annie behind Forge and Roach was bringing up the rear.
"Which way to the control room?" Ghost asked.
"Second floor up, and to to the right." Annie replied.
"Looks deserted." Roach remarked as he scanned the room, "Like the Paradise Valley wankers buggered off after Atron got hit."
Annie wanted to ask Roach how he knew about that particularly recent piece of Paradise Valley history. She'd had a vague idea that Roach and his team knew more than they let on, particularly when she'd seen the hard long cases that looked to have contained sniper rifles in them.
"Ambush! Look out!" Ghost shouted as several bursts of gunfire sounded simultaneously from upstairs. Roach pushed Annie behind the receptionist's desk as several bullets smacked into the wall behind her.
Roach dropped to one knee and let off several rounds from his ACR at the Crimson Guard soldier, killing him.
Ghost lobbed a grenade up the staircase and after a loud bang a scream could be heard. "Moving up the stairs!" Ghost shouted and Soap stood up, barreling up after Ghost.
Roach followed with Annie and Forge on his heels as they moved up the staircase.
"COBRA Crimson Guard." Ghost remarked as he toe tapped a corpse, to ensure the man wasn't playing possum.
"Oh my God!" Annie remarked, horrified.
Lining the wall were several employees of Paradise Valley Chemical Plant. Their hands were bound behind them and they had all been shot execution style. Blood and bits of brain and skull fragments adhered to the wall near bullet holes.
"Firing squad. Looks like whoever was pulling the strings behind the scenes with Atron wasn't about to leave loose ends." Ghost remarked.
Annie felt her heart sink as she took in the scene of several of her co-workers lined up along the wall on their knees. On her knees, hands bound, crying or pleading, heading gun shots and footsteps as the Crimson Guard soldiers walked down the line, shooting each Paradise Valley employee in the head...Annie thought.
"Come on, let's go." Roach said, gently, his left hand on her shoulder, "We can't do anything else for them. We just have to make sure they didn't die for nothing."
Annie blinked back a tear and and stifled a sob before nodding.
"Looks like they wrecked the labs too." Forge remarked as he smelled the smoke and noticed the dampness in the hallway, as if the fire extinguishers had all gone off.
"Whatever was here they sure were going to great lengths to destroy or capture the research." Ghost remarked, "Let's hope we can salvage some data."
"Annie," Roach asked, "How far to the control room?"
"Down the hall and to the left." Annie hiccuped, "But it's likely been locked down."
"We'll worry about that, lass." Soap remarked, "Ghost if there's an intact terminal start downloading all the data you can mine out of it."
"Right." Ghost replied.
As they moved towards the control room a burst of gunfire sounded, narrowly missing Ghost.
Ghost lobbed a grenade down the hall, but still the firing continued unabated. "We can't go down that way, they'll shred us to bits."
"The fiber optic service tunnels." Annie said, "We can get access to them through Atron's office to my right."
"Let's get to it then." Soap said as Roach opened the door.
The window to Danielle Atron's office was still shattered from the rounds he and Ghost had fired and Atron's corpse still lay on the floor, a massive hole blasted through her torso. Roach had killed before, and Atron had been responsible for the deaths of three ACME detectives, one of which he...Best not to think of that. The bitch is dead, as she deserves. Nothing more, nothing less.Roach thought.
Annie for her part felt mixed emotions. Danielle was ruthless, unethical, lorded over the town like she owned it. She would've caged Alex without even a thought, but even she didn't deserve to be shot like this, in cold blood.
She saw Roach approach Atron's corpse and gently close Atron's eyelids with his fingers, as he gently muttered, "Requiem In Pace."
Strange. Annie thought. It's more than just respect for the dead. And he didn't do that with any of the other corpses. Why is he doing that with this one?
"Annie?" Ghost asked.
Annie didn't respond at first as she stood, lost in thought.
"Oi, Annie, where's the access tunnel?" Ghost asked.
"Oh." Annie said, snapped back into reality, "Far corner of the room, near the bookcase." Annie replied and Ghost pulled it open before he tossed a flashbang grenade into the tunnel to stun anything lurking down there before he hopped in with Soap following behind him.
"All clear." Ghost remarked.
Roach dropped to one knee, listening to his radio, "Ghost, we'd better get a move on. We've got company approaching the building, Nace and the lot are engaging them."
"Bloody third herd headed that way." Nace began as he snapped off shots at the Crimson Guard and Heartless approaching the Chemical Plant.
"Reloading." Ted remarked as he snapped in another magazine for his SAM-R.
"Ghost, this is Nace, we've got Crimson Guard regulars headed your way. We're providing sniper cover." Nace said into his radio, snapping more rounds towards the Crimson Guards.
"Hey Draper, got any air support headed our way?" Low Light said over the radio.
"Yes, I've got a Predator drone on station with two Apache gunships coming in." Draper said.
"We could use it right now." Low Light said as machinegun fire blasted into the snipers' hide.
"Way ahead of you, I suggest you guys duck!" Draper said over the radio as two Hellfire missiles flew off the Predator, blowing apart the two Crimson Guard vehicles.
"Baseplate this is Sierra," Nace said, "Sitrep, providing covering fire for Objective Chargers, getting the intel dump squared away."
"Hope this Ghost fellow's as capable a hacker as you claim, we're about to get company." Low Light said, snapping rounds downrange at several Crimson Guard troopers. He'd dropped two of them with accurate shots, but the rest took cover and were now firing long bursts at their position. Low Light moved away from the hole he'd punched in the wall earlier.
"Need some help here, Drape." Ted spoke into his own radio.
"Gotcha. I'm bringing the UAV around for another pass..." Draper replied.
Meanwhile at the Pit Major Martin Lansor, US Marine Corps, walked into the Tactical Operations Center. He was a six foot tall, silver haired, muscular fellow wearing the digital desert camouflage of the US Marine Corps. He was the field commander for three teams of Task Force 141 currently operating all around the world.
His main focus was the Troops in Contact report he'd gotten from Nace. Evidently Sierra had, after executing the Atron mission, had diverted to assist the Misfits, X-men and G.I. Joe personnel in evacuating Paradise Valley.
He stood behind two computer types nicknamed Sorcerer and Arcade, listening to them talk briefly into internet and radio headsets, no doubt speaking to the female FBI computer hacker, Angela Bennett, and the Air Force combat controller Carl Draper.
He had received the latest radio reports from MacTavish's team about Paradise Valley being levelled by COBRA.
He noticed Senior Airman George Strickland listening to his own radio, talking to various aircraft moving towards Paradise Valley, vectoring helicopters to landing zones to rescue citizens and gunships to attack COBRA elements and the strange monsters levelling the town.
He had his own radio link to his command post he'd set up in the building that General Hawk had allocated to his men.
"What's the status?" Lansor asked Strickland.
"The teams are moving through Paradise Valley, getting as many civvies to the landing site as possible." Strickland said.
"Alright, thanks." Lansor replied before getting on his own radio, "Ghost, what's the status?"
"Bloody hell." Ghost remarked, moving his ACR out of the way so he could better type on the computer before answering Major Lansor's Call, "Baseplate, this is Sierra, just got into the computer lab and we're rather popular at the moment..."
As he spoke Roach was shooting steadily at a group of Shadow Heartless that poured out of a side office before he tossed a grenade into it.
"Do you think you could not fire that thing so close to my head?" Forge replied as he was attaching a portable hard drive to the computer as Ghost was typing away at the keyboard.
"Shut it!" Roach replied tersely as he noticed more Heartless heading their way, firing his ACR steadily.
"Annie, can you use your access codes to get into the system?" Soap asked.
"I'd already tried when Ghost asked earlier. Evidently my codes were erased, no doubt by Mystique as she tried to 'erase' me." Annie replied.
"Roach, can you not..." Forge replied only for Roach to fire another burst at the remaining Heartless before reloading his ACR.
"Forge, are you alright?" Roach asked.
"What?" Forge loudly yelled.
"I said are you alright?" Roach replied.
"I can't hear you! Thanks for blasting that thing next to my head!" Forge snapped.
"Oh, for fuck's sake, mate! Would you rather the Heartless got you while you were pissing about with that computer." Roach replied, rolling his eyes.
"What?" Forge asked, ears ringing.
"Will both of you knock it off! I'm trying to work here." Ghost replied.
Annie couldn't help but laugh lightly.
"What's so funny?" Soap asked.
"I don't know, but I'm thinking it's all the stress." Annie replied, "First I get kidnapped by some shapeshifter, then I get rescued, and then my hometown is under attack. And now I see your two friends and Forge arguing about one of them going deaf."
"What was that? I can't hear anything right now! No thanks to this guy!" Forge shouted.
Now Soap let out a short, caustic laugh about Forge's situation and then Roach started to chuckle.
"Wanker." Ghost grumbled and laughed as well as he punched away at the keyboard.
"How's the download going?" Soap asked.
"We've got another fifteen minutes." Ghost replied.
"Ok, just make sure you don't fire your rifle next to Forge's head again, Roach." Soap remarked.
Roach gave a short chuckle back, "I'll do my best, mate."
"What?" Forge shouted.
Ghost continued typing away at the keyboard, entering more commands and then an alarm went off and a message flashed across the scene. "Oh bollocks!" Ghost said.
"What's going on?" Roach asked.
"There's a bloody auto destruct sequence, set to go off in less than an hour." Ghost replied.
"For this lab?" Annie asked.
"The whole sodding town." Ghost replied.
To Be Continued.