X X X
"Ready to get out of this place?"
Pyunma couldn't help his grin at the look of shock on 005 and 006's faces, relieved to see that both of them were unharmed and fighting fit.
"007 – 008! You're okay!" 006 sounded as relieved as Pyunma felt, with 006's terror dissipating in the company of his allies.
It was then that an alarm began to wail in the distance, efficiently cutting their reunion short. Red lights flashed overhead and the sound of metal on stone echoed down the hall as every cell, occupied or not, was
Pyunma turned on his heels, well aware that their time was limited. "Let's go," he commanded, and set off at a run without waiting for the rest of the team. The other three were quick to fall in behind him and together, they ran for the heavy duty security door there at the end of the hall.
005 was the first to reach it. With those great dinnerplate hands he gripped the keypad on the handle and effortlessly tore it off, exposing a number of wires that sparked and fizzled before shorting out completely. Taking the handle proper 005 forced it open, almost pulling the door off its hinges. The rest of the 00's kept to the side and out of his way, giving the giant the space he needed to manoeuvre.
With the door out of the way there was a split second where Pyunma could see the room beyond, and the company of soldiers on the other side. He saw guns and ducked for cover instinctively, right as they opened fire.
Crouching behind a foundation pillar with his comrades, Pyunma was glad of at least one thing - these were simple robot drones, more sophisticated than ones they had encountered in the past, but expendable all the same. The ammunition was making short work of the pillar but bounced off their red uniforms harmlessly, which meant that the robots were carrying standard issue weaponry – something that wouldn't affect a cyborg.
"006!" Pyunma gestured to the robots but pain lanced through his hand, stopping him short. "It's your turn!" he finished, cradling his arm against his chest.
"That's me!" the Chinese man answered, bounding to the front line. He drew in a large breath and took a step back, unleashing a barrage of flame. Under his control it roasted the enemy and anything else that might have been in the room with them. He didn't let up until the last of the robots clattered to the ground, burnt to a crisp. Pyunma watched from the corner of his eye, tearing at his uniform to make a quick field bandage. 006 puffed one last bit of flame and turned to face his comrades proudly. "Robot a la 006!"
Pyunma smiled, tying off a knot with his teeth. "Good work friend," he said, and stood up. He couldn't help but move a little awkwardly, hand kept aloft from his body so that he wouldn't bump it accidentally.
"Were you shot?" 005 asked, noticing the injury.
Pyunma glanced to the field bandage that was wrapped around his left hand, the bright red material already stained with oil. He'd used part of his uniform sleeve, but he wasn't sure how good it would be at stopping the bleed. "No," he answered, "I used a pin from my hand to pick the lock on my cell door." He wiggled his hand experimentally, but the last two fingers didn't move. If they survived any of this, repairing that was going to be a problem.
"008!" 006's eyes were as wide as saucers. "Didn't that hurt?"
"There wasn't any other option. I'll be okay," Pyunma told him, brushing off the concern. Their backs were against the wall – there wasn't time to worry about small injuries if the trade-off was an escape from this place. He took the lead as they walked through the burnt out room, ignoring the row of security and surveillance consoles that lined one wall. Thanks to 006 they were damaged beyond repair, no more than melted lumps of plastic and twisted metal. The group moved quickly, not one of them willing to stop and examine the robotic remains – if nothing else, it was an uncomfortable reminder that their own bodies were not so different. If Black Ghost won, there was a very real possibility that they'd share a similar fate to these droids.
"Has anyone heard anything from the others?" Pyunma asked, breaking the silence in the most pragmatic way he could.
"The others weren't in any of the cells near us," 007 said as they came into another long hallway. There were doors along both walls, numbers stenciled on them but no indication of what they were for. "So Black Ghost might not have them yet."
"They could be anywhere," 005 said.
Pyunma grimaced. He didn't fancy the idea of trying to find the rest of the team when they'd be working harder than ever to stay off the radar.
"We should look for them," 007 said. "It won't be easy of course. They might even be heading here."
"Right," Pyunma said with a short nod, scanning the hall. He didn't like this – they knew nothing about what base this might be, what the layout was like, or if they were underground. They needed information... among other things. "But first, we need weapons and an idea of where we are."
"So how do we do that?" 006 asked.
"Perhaps we should split up," 007 said, looking thoughtful.
Pyunma shook his head immediately. "No," he said, "It's better if we stick together. Finding each other again would be too hard, and those assassins are still out there."
"There's safety in numbers!" 006 agreed.
"We are not the only ones who think that," 005 said, looking down the hall. A couple of the doors had opened and now dozens of robot soldiers were swarming the narrow space, undoubtedly coming for them.
Pyunma stared, working through the team's options in rapid fire. Going back was a dead end. The only way out was forward, either through the soldiers or through a door that could lead anywhere. 006 could probably get rid of about half of the enemy but that would exhaust his supply and the rest of the team was weaponless. They needed 006 in reserve.
He was interrupted by the opening of yet more doors, even more soldiers pouring into the hall.
They were out of time.
Gritting his teeth, Pyunma pointed to the nearest door. "That way!" he said, and broke into a sprint. The others stumbled after him, unprepared but quick to respond. By the grace of the Gods it was unlocked and Pyunma held it open for his comrades. He didn't know what was on the other side, but it couldn't be any worse than facing execution.
006 brought up the rear, short legs working furiously to carry him ahead of the attack as the soldiers opened fire. Once he was through Pyunma followed as fast as he could, yanking the door shut a moment before bullets peppered the space where he'd been standing.
X X X
He hit the water so hard that he almost blacked out. Grimly hanging onto his consciousness, 004 twisted over to try and right himself. It wasn't much good - he sank quickly, fresh water pouring into his mouth and nose. With a reasonable idea of which way was up, he kicked out and pushed himself towards the surface. What was going on? Had they crashed?
A shadow moved in the corner of his eye and an unearthly groan rippled through the water, bringing to mind the singing whale pods that the Dolphin had sometimes come across. 004's mind switched into overdrive as he looked to it, and found himself in the range of a metal leviathan.
Easily twice the size of the Dolphin it was resting on the silty bottom of the lake, great lantern-like eyes fixed on him. 004's stomach bottomed out and he redoubled his efforts to swim upwards as fast as he could, skin prickling with fear. He broke the surface with a splash and gulped in air, grey eyes looking for the shoreline. Could he escape?
-had someone called his name?
Turning in the water, 004 spotted the brown hair and red uniform of a friend. "009!" he waved with what little energy he could spare. With his body, it was hard to stay afloat. "Stay back, it's not safe!"
To 004's relief the younger cyborg listened – even if Albert doubted that it would do any good. The beast was big enough to reach both of them without even trying. He racked his brain for a solution – there was no sign of anyone else. They were on their own... they'd have to try and swim for the shore.
Before he could shout anything to 009, there was a splash and 009 had disappeared from view. 004 had all of three seconds to register that it was the work of the leviathan – by the fourth, something had snagged him by the ankle and with alarming strength, dragged him down as well.
004 barely had time to hold his breath, forcing his eyes to stay open as he was brought underwater. A long tentacle, probably made of a high quality alloy, had wrapped itself around his leg and was reeling him in towards the great mass that constituted a body. Holding back the urge to panic, 004 struggled against the tight grip but had no success.
Plan B, then. He pulled the glove off his metal hand and did his best to aim at the point where tentacle met body. He knew that the water would mess with his shot but fired anyway – the blast spiralled through the water and deflected off the monster's armoured back, way off the mark and not even leaving a scratch.
Abandoning that strategy in favour of plan C, Albert bent over, hands going to the leg that the leviathan had a hold on. He desperately tried to shift the metal monster's grip, pulling and shoving as best that he could. He didn't need to be free, he just needed enough of his leg to crack open the launch tube within. It was getting harder to think straight, harder to move – he knew he was running out of air and panic was starting to overwhelm his common sense. He tried firing at the tentacle with his pistol hand, hoping the close proximity would help his cause, but it was just as useless as everything else he'd done. Frightened that he was going to drown any minute now, Albert fought as hard as he could – but blackness was creeping at the edge of his vision and all too soon, consciousness was floating away.
His hands slipped away from his leg and the leviathan's grip on it, head rolling back as his eyes closed. Body limp, Albert drifted down through the water at the mercy of his enemy.
X X X
The last thing Queen remembered seeing clearly was the Dolphin soaring through the air at a suicidal speed, racing to meet the island's defences head on. She remembered the flash of blue as the net reacted to the intrusion but then every screen had filled with a blinding white light, so strong that everyone in the room had to shield themselves. She didn't know how long it had lasted, only that it ended when the camera feed was lost.
Now the room was in absolute chaos with static on every screen, and she felt quite ready to punch something.
The half-cyborg woman stood at her console, chair discarded behind her. Arms on her waist she watched the room with a heavy scowl, observing as supervisors barked their orders and subordinates hastened to obey. Everyone was working at triple speed to fix the very big problem they now had, but it wasn't good enough. "Get me the damn camera feed!" Queen commanded, the hard edge in her voice superseding the need to shout. She broke her concentration long enough to rub at her eyes with her natural hand, trying to abate the fierce stinging caused by the white light.
She felt movement on her left side as Diamonds stepped up from behind. "What did I tell you?" he asked, apparently quite satisfied with the outcome of their defensive manoeuvre. "Spades has always been shady. He's not as sneaky as he thinks he is."
"Neither are you," Queen snapped, her patience for the assassin well and truly spent.
"Camera Sigma is online, ma'am!" someone shouted from the front of the room.
Queen snapped to attention, honing in on the feed.
Although a little crackly, the image was clear – the line of poles were still in place, towering above the calm sea. There was no sign of the Dolphin, and certainly no sign of the 00 cyborgs..
"What the hell –?" Diamonds murmured, leaning forward a little. "Where's the debris?"
Her eyes wide, Queen stared in disbelief at the scene. They couldn't have gotten through the net, and she'd seen it strike the ship! It should have been in a thousand pieces by now, strewn across the water and some of the shore, smouldering and no longer any kind of threat at all. Instead... nothing. Not one thing.
"That's not possible," she murmured, "It's not possible. Their ship is ten years old! Black Ghost's defenses are superior!" Infuriated, Queen slammed her fists on the console. "Find the ship!" she ordered, an edge of panic in her words. They had to find that stupid vehicle, and it had to be now. The Black Ghost was not going to enjoy hearing that they'd lost the last five cyborgs and one of his assassins, traitor though Spades may have been. If they didn't find them, she would be held responsible. A shiver crept down her neck at the thought.
"Good luck," Diamonds said flatly. "You won't find it."
Twisting around, Queen balled one of her fists. She really would punch him if he stayed here much longer. "Help or get out," she growled.
Diamonds had the gall to look offended at this response. "Not even a thanks for my part against that traitor?"
Diamonds mock saluted her and took his leave with an irritating jaunt in his step. Queen watched him go with a fierce glare. Once he was gone she whipped around, hand lashing out as she pointed to the camera feeds. "Find me that ship!"
She would not fail.
X X X
Diamonds strode down the hall towards the armoury, ignoring everyone he passed but making no attempt to get out of anyone's way. They side-stepped around him instead, no matter their rank or function in the Black Ghost hive. Diamonds was not a person anyone wanted to bump into.
Spades betrayed them. He was struggling to find the sense in his fellow assassin's actions, for although Diamonds had no love for Spades... he knew that the other was very good at his job. Working for Black Ghost was a good gig. Granted, there was the constant threat of being decommissioned that hung over every assassin's head, but after a while Diamonds had learnt to ignore that. The pay was good, and they were on a pretty long leash. The Black Ghost didn't really care where they went, so long as they appeared for every mission briefing, did their job, and didn't draw unwanted attention to the Organisation.
He just didn't see what the benefits were. Spades was throwing away too many good things, in favour of what? Saving lives? Diamonds snorted as soon as the thought crossed his mind. Someone with a perfect kill rate wouldn't care about that. Spades was in it for the money, and the money only.
Perhaps the 00's were paying him... plausible, he decided, but the fee for saving all nine of them couldn't possibly match Black Ghost's fee for killing all nine of them.
He stopped a few steps from the armoury door. Wait. Diamonds drew in a slow breath, eyes widening as the answer hit him. Of course. Of bloody course! A sick, second-hand glee filled him as he realised what Spades was doing. Those stupid 00's would never see it coming and the opportunity was ripe for Diamonds to take full advantage of it. With just two of them left, it was definitely his turn to be top dog.
His hand on the keypad to the door, Diamonds snickered. He was going to blindside Spades. Him! The assassin laughed again, daring to be louder than before. He'd wipe that stupid smirk off of Spades' face permanently.
As he stepped over the threshold of the armoury, the assassin's reverie was cut short by the uncomfortable motion of the ground rippling beneath his feet. He grabbed at a shelf for balance, skin prickling. What was –
The building shook again and Diamonds flattened himself to the wall. As it passed he heard the first sound of explosions from above and below, too far to be deafening but loud all the same. He grabbed the nearest weapon he could and bolted for the door, grin returning to his face. The 00s were here.
X X X
To be continued.