I sighed contently and rested my hands behind my head, savoring in the peacefulness the early evening brought. Outside my dingy hellhole of a cabin, the sun was finally dying away and letting the monsters of the night emerge. The tall buildings of a once proud metropolis were falling part, scattering the pieces of their brick bodies upon the ground. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world would follow suit and everything would crumble into only a memory. Like I said, just a matter of time.

Inside the building I had called home for the past week, broken beer bottles and dusty spider's webs clung to the chalky cement walls. The ground was solid dirt, pressed down by years of wear and trampling. Personally, I was surprised that the great city of Chicago would hold such a building. But, then it really wasn't Chicago. It's a smashed city that's breaking apart day by day with just the nameplate of Chicago as a highway road marker.

Lying in my hammock above the dirty ground, I let my left leg flop over the side and swing. Pretty soon my entire hammock was moving, and I was just as relaxed as could be. There was nothing to worry about anyhow, so why should I have been frantically panicking over the shit that I had avoided?

It was all Zack's fault, really it was. How he managed to find me with my pattern of city-hopping every two to three weeks is beyond me. I don't call his contact number at all, unlike the rest of his faithful little soldiers. Screw Zack, he doesn't run your life anymore, I had told myself the first time he offered me the contact number. You run your life, not some wanna-be captain.

But, nonetheless he had found me a couple days ago and ran into me on the street. I pretended to ignore him, hoping that he'd go away and leave me to my own business. I had a mission, and he wasn't part of it. Or, perhaps he would like to become part of the mission? That certainly would make it all the more interesting.

He followed me home, and I decided not to notice. If Zack thought he was really that sly, then I figured I'd let him think that so he would leave and go rejoice in his stalking ability. Which, I need to point out, he has little, if any, stalking ability. I can't believe Lydecker picked him as CO.

I had just made myself comfortable on my hammock as I examined the new pistols that I had stolen. All were sleek, black, and loaded to kill. Nothing could stop me now. Not even Mr. High and Mighty himself.

The door to the one-room house opened and acting upon my instincts, I aimed the firearm directly at the person who dared to come inside. Two of the people who had been using the house as their drug hideout before I had came were killed by yours truly; I didn't want people snooping about where they didn't need to be.

Zack froze in the doorway, and once that I saw it was only he, I laughed and let the gun fall back down. "And to what do I owe this pleasant surprise?" I asked him, holding out my hand in mock politeness.

He walked up to me, and because my hammock so positioned high enough, we could pretty much make direct eye contact without me having to sit up. Wearing a scuzzy brown shirt, faded blue jeans, and that ridiculous leather jacket that he thinks makes him look tough, he glared angrily at me. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Doing?" I had asked, playing innocent. "Sitting here and checking my lovely collection of firearms over like they taught us to do back there." Of course, "there" was Manticore. The place that Zack hated to be reminded about.

Furiously, he had grabbed me by my collar, pulled me out of the hammock, and threw me to the dirt with a violent thrust. I toppled to the ground, rolled, and lay, crouching as I looked up at him. "You know exactly what you're doing," he hissed.

"And I take it that I'm not following your precious wishes, captain," I sneered as I rose to my feet, brushing off the seat of my pants.

"What you're doing goes beyond anything that they taught us to do at Manticore."

"This is what they taught us to do!" I snapped as I had pointed at the ground, trying to make him understand.

"They didn't teach us to kill people for the hell of it, Ben," he growled.

"Yeah? Well, you're just too weak."

In a flash, he had struck me so hard across the face that I saw stars as I careened towards the wall, my nose bleeding. It was possible that he had broken it, but at that moment, I hadn't cared. He then grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me up against the wall, ignoring my bloody pain. "Don't ever call me weak," he hissed in an undertone.

"Then, don't ever question what I do, Zack. You're not the CO anymore. That was many years ago."

He backed off and snorted furiously. Although he didn't want to leave me to continue my mission, he knew that there wasn't any other choice. "I'll be watching you," he warned, waving his finger like Lydecker had done when he had threatened us. "You try another stunt like that back in Miami, and you'll be sorry that you ever started."

I had laughed at his back as he left. Threats like that were a trend with Zack; he just wanted to make it look like he was in charge when he really was losing whatever control he had to being with.

I glanced outside now, realizing what time it was as I came out of my memory. You really think you can stop me, Zack? You think I'll actually listen to you? Well then, you're a little bit late because the mission is starting.