Author's Notes: So, it really was a short time! Forgot I had this even written. So, this is the length I'll be shooting for from now on, or maybe longer. Apologies again for the length of time since my last update, but I like to have my stories proof-read before posting. PM me if you'd be interested in being a second beta-reader(I think that's what they're for at least) to help me improve my writing. I've scripted and written through chapter 6, and am having them proof-read, so I'll try and update at least 1 every 2 weeks. Thanks again!

Chapter 4:

Third Echelon Field Test Chamber

Maryland, USA

June 3rd, 2020

Sam dropped to the ground at the first hint of noise, alert and hidden, waiting for the right moment to strike. After a couple seconds, his patience paid off, as a guard walked by Sam's hiding place. He reached out and silently choked the man, dragging his unconscious body to his hiding place. He frisked him quickly, finding nothing of great interest, and left him there. 7 down, 1 to go, Sam thought. He continued down the darkened gravel road, wary of the crunching noise that followed each of his footsteps, how it echoed through the empty air in here. He froze as he heard the distinct inhalation and exhalation of a smoker. He's to my right…probably about 6 meters from my current position. He scaled a small section of rubble and crouched behind it, looking in the direction of the breaths. He could faintly make out the red glow of a lit cigarette in the distance, about 5 meters from his cover. He flipped his goggles on, tracking his position, to an exact 5.32 meters from him, and flipped to Thermal and Electro Magnetic vision before he decided he was taking a smoke break outside, with no alarms or cameras. But you had to be right there…Sam thought, growing a little frustrated by his position. All he needed for extraction was to move through the door, which the guard was conveniently in front of.

"200 seconds, Fisher," said Grim into his subdernal. He quickly tapped his OPSAT again, glancing at the old screen, a relic of his past age. The NO CASUALTIES order blinked rather boldly against the pale green background, and Sam sighed, trying to figure out what to do. Too close to whistle and lure him away…I'm out of Sticky Shockers and Cameras too… The only option was to get a shot off of the wall an- hang on… Sam looked at the steam pipe above the guard's head, and flipped his thermals on again. Sam grinned, smiling at his test. That should do. He took his SC-2000 off his back, shouldering the custom rifle and raising its sights to the pipe. He held his breath, and squeezed the trigger, the pipe bursting from the pressure and the steam and metal knocking the man out. Sam quickly vaulted over his cover and began to sprint at the door.

"Ten seconds." Grim said just as Sam made it through the door. The chamber filled with light, and Sam had to squint as his eyes readjusted to the bright light. "Well done, Sam. The Joint Chiefs are impressed." Grim walked out of an adjacent door in the large chamber as the 8 men from the course were brought in.

"So?" Grim said expectantly, looking at the men as they were either roused or brought in.

"He-…ah, he's good." one finally said embarrassedly. "I didn't hear anything."

A few nodded, two more looking down, ashamed that their training had failed them so badly.

"Man, that pipe burst scared the shit outta me!" said the recently revived guard, looking at Sam in awe. "Shit, man, whoever you are, I'm just glad you're on our side! That was crazy as hell!" The rest nodded in agreement as Sam suppressed a smile.

"He new?" Sam asked, jerking his head in the foul-mouthed guard's direction.

"Yeah. Don't worry, a month in boot camp should fix these boys up. Thanks, Sam." Grim said. Sam sighed, working cricks out of his joints.

"Don't mention it." Tired of this crap anyways.

"Sam, I have some news." Sam looked up from his thoughts. Could it be?

"You're clear for going back into the field. The Joint Chiefs would be more than happy to have you back in the field. You'll be getting a raise, and a promotion. They have an assignment for you, and you'll have 4 Splinter Cells under your command. You'll still be in the field, but you'll be the commander of sorts. They're fresh out of boot camp, and ready for action." Grim hands Sam 4 dossiers and a thick manila folder with a wink. 'Glad to have you back Sam.

Third Echelon Field Equipment Room

Maryland, USA

June 3rd, 2020

Grim led Sam into the equipment room, and pressed a button on the wall. The wall expanded, and lifted up to reveal an entire revamped load out of the somewhat outdated equipment he was wearing now. Grim took it off the wall and tossed it to Sam.

"How's it work?" Sam asked looking at the new suit. Grim smiled and pressed a few buttons on a wall monitor.

"I think I'll let the creator explain." Grim said with a smile. After a few moments, an electronic voice responded to Grim's taps.

"Yes?" said the REDDING computer, the voice oddly like Redding's own, though with much of a metallic hint.

"REDDING please explain the new model of the Tac-suit for Mr. Fisher.""Certainly, Ms. Grimsdóttir. The new version of the tactical-stealth suit often employed by you Mr. Fisher, has had many aesthetic and functional redesigns while you were gone. First and foremost, the overall rigidness of the suit has been drastically reduced. We've started by moving all the layers of Kevlar to the front, and dipping the suit into liquid titanium alloy. The plates in the front of the suit allow for a much freer range of motion, and it is more resistant than your normal suit to knives, and gun fire. However, you still should try and avoid getting shot at, as my limited knowledge of human anatomy has revealed you to be, despite your obvious peak physical condition, squishy. There are patches on the suit where you're vulnerable, so you should still be careful. Good for hand guns and small arms fire as close a 5 feet away. Rifles and higher arms fire at 8 feet. Shrapnel resistant as close as 3 feet, though if you are that close Mr. Fisher, I recommend you cover your face as well. Shrapnel has been known to sting at close range. The suit is also modified to be more compressive, in that you can easily wear the suit under normal civilian clothing, and appear relatively normal. Close inspection will make you appear very…what's the word you're familiar with…ripped. The extension of the plates gives you a rather exaggerated muscular appearance. Much like the background images and pictures Miss Grimsdóttir has on her computer…" The monitors blinked, replacing the technical statistics with pictures of heroes like Batman and Superman or very questionable nature.

"REDDING!" Grim yelled, banging on the keyboard. Sam suppressed a laugh, trying hard not to make fun of Grim.

"Heh, you know, for a computer programmed by Redding, it doesn't seem too much like him." Sam mused.

"We…uh, we modified the program…a bit. The first AI was really stuffy and humorless, so we programmed it to try and be funnier. Now it's stuck on sarcasm. We can't seem to get a warrant to fix it, seeing as it's almost become sentient now." Grim sighed irritably. "Continue, REDDING."

"I believe you are familiar with the Goshawk, Mr. Fisher?"

Sam nodded, and then, realizing that the computer could not see him nod, quickly added a yes.

"We've compressed it in a fashion that it is now a part of your uniform. A touch of the button on your remodeled OPSAT will activate it, as will a verbal command. Your OPSAT has been loaded with 3D interactive mapping, as well as active satellite tracking of you and anyone linked to Third Echelon as a unit. Your suit has many other small modifications, though I won't bore you with the small details. I have told you everything notable, unless there are any questions about your load out?"

"I think I'm good." Sam said, admiring the new suit.

"Great. I'll contact you when it's time, Sam. Get some rest." Grim said and walked out.

Author's Notes:

Yes, there are some movie references in there, see if you can spot them all. The gaurd that swears a lot is based off of the movie guy from MADTV.