It was a crisp October morning; the type that would chill most to the bone if they stayed out in it for too long unprotected. With the early hour any breath drawn steamed the moment it past the casters lips, but there was already an underlying humidity that would only grow as the day continued. The idea of the facility being maximum security was almost laughable with the ease he got in, simple flash of an I.D card and the statement that he was expected was all that was needed to gain entry to the place he'd once called home. He'd not recognised any of the people he'd passed by; nor the man on the front desk, not that it mattered; it just confirmed his thoughts on the lax amount of security.
The reception had been redecorated since he'd last been here, brought to a more modern style. Smoked glass tables were littered with contemporary magazines, the walls painted a light cream as opposed to the garish and overpowering vibrancy they'd once been. Even the furniture had been replaced making way for a selection of hard looking read chairs. The receptionist motioned to one of the seats to him; to busy to speak while he was on the phone. Rambo found the welcome starchy and hostile; he hadn't expected anything less. He'd not brought any belongings with him for the meeting with the only person he'd claim was his family member, Colonel Trautman. Although being summoned back to Bragg had come as a surprise; the surprise lay in the timing rather than the reasoning. He'd not been told much, but he knew he was here for a quiet mission, something required his particular talents and who was he to deny his father figure his services?
The well built man turned his back on the receptionist; whom he was becoming more convinced was holding a personal phone call rather than doing his job with every passing moment he heard the conversation. He frowned to himself, the expression one that was most comfortable on his face. He looked out the glass window fronting of the building. The place had the feel the recruitment office that'd first picked him up, rather then the prestigious training grounds he'd gone through the transition of boyhood and adulthood at. The memories he had of the establishment we conflicted; fond and detested.
"Rambo." His thoughts were interrupted by the man he'd come to see. The older man's powerful and commanding voice booming over the reception room. The receptionist quickly put the phone down and acted busy. Rambo paid the receptionist no heed as he made his way over to the Colonel taking the man's hand in his own as it was offered. "Good to see you again, son." The older of the two spoke; an honesty in his tone of voice and the smile as broad and unofficial on his face as he could allow under the circumstances.
"Thanks for coming." Trautman added giving his favourite son a brief slap on the shoulder with his free hand.
Rambo just nodded; having become more forlorn and sparse with his words as of late.
Trautman motioned, much like the receptionist had done; with as much comfort, away from the changed reception area. Leading Rambo towards somewhere they could speak in absolute privacy. The place he was led to was the senior officers personal office. His name plaque stamped proudly on the door in frosted lettering. Trautman opened the door for the younger man allowing to step into the room ahead of him.
As he breached the threshold into Trautmans office, he gave a quick look around at the décor. Dark wooden furniture of a bygone era stood clearly against the lighter walls. Grey metal filing cabinets stood with a single draw open behind a large writers desk; which was kept neat and orderly. Mock silver frames stood out on the shelving and one particular photograph stood out among the others. Rambo headed over to the photograph of his former unit and smiled with the same feeling of bereft revere that he'd held earlier while gazing out of the facilities windows.
"Something was stolen from us." Trautman spoke as soon as the door was closed behind him; getting to the point of their meeting. Rambo quickly put the photograph back onto the shelving unit; knowing that now was not the time for the reunion that he'd been wanting.
"I'm not surprised." He returned the comment turning back to Trautman, he'd no reason to hide his thoughts on the facility and it's lacking security.
"Not from here. A disk of some very sensitive documents and incriminating evidence was stolen from one of our operatives last week. We need to have what was stolen retrieved, or destroyed." Trautman explained, handing over a brown paper file to the other man.
Rambo opened the file; a typed document with the garish red classified stamp across the front page greeted him.
"We believe that the thieves are Anti-American Terrorists who are looking to use the information in order to blackmail our government into wreaking chaos over the nation." Trautman explained opening his own copy of the file he'd passed over. "Their manipulative methods are not welcome, and while they can be ignored to some level the president wants this to be drawn to a close before it gets out of hand."
"Where are they stationed?" Rambo asked, flicking through the white pages in front of him, taking careful note of the amount of black lines that'd been crossed out. Information that wasn't for his eyes. There was something that he wasn't being told about the information he was going to be retrieving and the reasons for getting the information back seemed dubious at best. His thoughts on the matter were not voiced, he wasn't exactly a patriot any longer. Not after the welcome home he'd received after the last time he'd been away playing nationalist, what did he care if the President didn't like something? Or the news of the Presidents lies was in the hands of some terrorists?
"Malta." Trautman answered, and Rambo looked to him, the frown finding his face once again.
"Thought Malta was a republic?" He questioned.
"It seems their government has been busy as of late working behind the scenes." Trautman added once again, giving the confirmation that the country had been as Rambo had suspected until recently.
"Any specifics on their location?" Rambo further questioned, trying to get as much information from the colonels mouth as he could.
"We don't have full intel yet, but we know the Terrorists are operating near Naxxar. We believe that they've taken over Palazzo Parisio and have had the local vicinity cleared of the general population. We're awaiting confirmation."
"Cleared?" Rambo asked for clarification on the term. Inside he already knew; "Murdered." he stated and Trautman nodded confirmation of the younger mans fears.
"These Terrorists have the people of Malta running scared, and they are in a good position to defend themselves against any all out attacks." Trautman added about the small island. "We fear that the Government is aiding these terrorists, we don't yet know why."
Rambo nodded as he listened to the information he was being given, but cut to the chase. It was already obvious what his role in the mission was going to be. Play fetch and destroy. "When do I go in?"
"We can't send you alone." Came the answer.
Rambo gave him a cautious glance. He knew the implications of the colonels words. They couldn't afford for him to fuck up the mission and should something go wrong he'd need someone with him to pull his ass out of the fire or to put him down.
"When do we go in?" He rephrased the question.
"Your partner hasn't been chosen yet." Trautman explained putting the file on the desk in front of him making sure all the papers were still concealed inside. Glad for his sons understanding in the matter and lack of objection. "We we're going to go through our files for a suitable candidate this afternoon."
"I'll choose him." Rambo ordered his senior officer, he felt it was his right to pick the person who may have to kill him should everything take a turn for the worse or the other way around should the situation require it.
Trautman didn't voice any objections to the request.
Rambo flicked over the pages in his file to look at the assumed lay out of the stately home that'd been taken over; looking to figure out the skills the partner candidate would need in order to be good back up. He already knew that he'd be entering the vicinity of the stately home via air. That's what Bragg and his training had been all about after all, it was also the lowest profile that could get him as close to the facility as he'd need to be. Upon seeing an aerial scan of the facility he'd be invading, his mind started working over what would be needed both equipment wise and from his prospective partner.
"Any questions?" Trautman pushed forwards with the briefing, trying to draw it to a close.
"Why me?" Rambo asked, flicking the file closed with the hand that was holding it. The briefing had been of a more informal nature, he put it down to the whole meeting being an introduction to what lay ahead.
Trautman gave his son something of a confused look, the question seemed to have come out of nowhere; he answered with honesty, like he had all other questions from the man. "Because your the best, this is a situation that needs to be handled with utmost discretion, we can't trust anyone else to go in." He explained. "We need someone reliable who will get the job done regardless of who else is sent." The level of skill required to handle not only the volatile situation, but to take charge of another officer and work under pressure was something that Rambo had mastered, his abilities to adapt and survive we're second to none. They both knew it, Rambo just had trouble admitting to himself exactly what he was.
Trautman move from around his desk and headed to the office door so that he could open it and lead the full blooded combat soldier to the next order of business; choosing his partner.