"Our next phase is ready to begin, Carolina."
That's all he'd had to say, he didn't have to go on, everything past that point was extra. She'd agreed without a moment's hesitation, he wasn't clear what this 'next phase' was but it didn't matter. She would have led a one-woman assault on the gates of Hell itself if it was asked of her. He'd given her everything, she had no reasons to doubt him now.
"You heard the news?"
"And what would that be?" Wash asked, his own sunken eyes staring back at him, two milky white orbs surrounded by dark rings, he pushed his hair back slightly, grimacing as he noted the roots had taken on a slight grayish tinge.
"We've got a new mission on the table, as always. And of course, you're going with the psycho twin to secure the target," York replied, humming to himself as he retrieved his gear from his locker, rooming his Battle Rifle and cleaning kit before taking a seat on a nearby bench.
"Wonderful, tell me again why I get paired up with South, again?" Washington continued to study his own reflection, occasionally finding some part of his own image the cause for a flashback, a memory that he couldn't quite place. Always one of two extremes, horrible pain and suffering, or the sweetest love he could ever imagine. The dreams were unclear, like their was some opague covering preventing him from seeing it clearly, but he could feel it. At night when he slept, if he slept, the dreams kept ripping him from sleep leaving him in a cold sweat staring at the wall huddled on the floor. He needed to tell someone, get help, but then what? They'd think he was crazy, off his rocker, losing his mind, seeing things, they'd remove him from the program, take him off to some insane asylum where some doctor would probe his mind.
"Because you two work so well together, you're smart and over think every situation, and she's always rushing in without thinking," York replied, gritting his teeth against a particularly difficult bolt that just wouldn't unscrew, "Together-" A sigh escaped York's lips as the bolt finally began to turn and loosen, "Together, you make what would be considered a damn fine team. One who thinks things through and another to act upon said scheme with lethal force."
Allison. Dead. It was a Monday. Standing in the rain. Holding hands. Soft hands. Sunshine. The most beautiful of smiles. Green eyes, green like emeralds. Taken in the prime of life. Pain. Loss. Saddness. Depression. Torture. Wracked with guilt. Suffering. Standing over her grave. Flowers. They were roses. Red like her hair. Green stems like her eyes.
Wash shook his head, trying to rid himself of the offending thoughts, finally he forced the tap filling the sink with a healthy amount of freezing water before splashing a handful onto his face. He stood, shoulders shaking, fingers clenching the lip of the sink so tight he swore he could hear them pop, the water dripped off his nose back into the basin.
"Wash, you okay?" York asked, suddenly at his side, Washington having failed to notice him dropping his rifle and making the distance between the pair disappear in three strides.
"Y-yeah, I'm fine," Washington replied, the response slow and forced by this point York had turned him away from the mirror so he was resting against the sink. The Freelancer moving his index finger back and forth in front of the younger soldier's eyes, watching them with a keen eye.
"You're not fine, Com'on. We need to get you checked out," York said suddenly with what could be considered a commanding tone when refering to the team's bringer of sly wit and lock picks.
"I said I'm fine."
York sighed, "Wash, you're not fine. You look like shit and haven't been yourself since they gave you that damn AI."
"I can handle it," Washington said through gritted teeth, "I just need to get accustomed to a second voice in my head. Epsilon's not like Delta, I can't just tell him to shut up and expect him to listen. He's-he's not like that."
"Whatever he's like he's no good for you, now come on, let's get you checked out," York said once more, looping an arm under Wash's armpit before begining the long and tedious drag towards the medbay, York wishing he had some of Maine's ungodly strength and stamina seeing how Washington had essentially become roughly two hundred pounds of dead weight.
"You need to remain calm, Agent Carolina, we are almost ready to begin."
"Quiet, Conselor. Agent Carlolina is more than ready for her AI units."
"Mr. Director, if I may-"
"Silence, Agent Carolina are you ready to procede?"
Carolina nodded, "Yes, sir. I'm ready, sir." Their was a slight shake to her voice, unnoticable to most, and neither the Director nor the Conselor would notice, two AI units was unprecedented, unheard of in the realm of artifical intelligence implantation. The SPARTAN program dared not attempt the implatation of AI units on such a scale...but the Director had been reassuring when he'd said all the respective bugs had been ironed out with the first half of the testing block, everything would go along without a hitch. Omega and Agent Texas had been the first, the test bed for everything to follow...the preperation for this. If the whole project was a five course meal then Tex was the appetizer and Carolina would be the main course. It was a morbid thought, but it was the one she had running through her head at the moment.
"Good, then let us begin."
"How's the AI?"
"Theta? He's alright, I suppose. Kinda quiet, it's nice. I've heard Delta's a chatterbox and Epsilon's stuck in the past, Omega's just a artificially created ball of rage. So I got off better than most," North replied, watching as his HUD continued to update with new information from the enhanced motion tracker the AI unit devoted most of it's time to, "But I'll have to see it in action before I can say much else about it."
"If you had the option, would you give it up? Not have one?"
North paused, pulling his head off with the usual accompanying hiss as it depressurized, finally he asked, "What's this about?" His eyes narrowed as he studied her, "Look, I'm telling you, you'll get your own AI. You're in the next group, okay? Just be patient."
"I am patient," she huffed, "But I'm through being second best to you and those other boy scouts. I'm as good as anyone else, they just need to give me a chance. One fucking chance."
North watched as she stormed out, fire and brimstone in her eyes, he sighed as he removed his gauntlet from his armor, seemed every female in the Freelancer Program was either a backstabbing bitch or needed a psych evaluation. His own twin included.
"Would you like to hear a knock-knock joke?"
"What about now?"
"I said no."
"Come on, just one."
"I said no, damnit."
"I'm not going to do it."
"Knock-knock. You gonna answer the door or what?"
Wyoming sighed in defeat, ever since he'd been implanted with Gamma, or 'Gary' as it wanted to be called it'd been annoying the hell out of him as he tried to recover from his latest combat injury, "Who's there."
The AI giggled, well, he assumed it was a stifled giggle, "Me."
"You've got to be-"
The AI broke out into laughter as if it's horrible joke was the single most hilarious thing on the face of the universe, obviously it was not because Wyoming wasn't laughing. He just assumed somewhere, if he existed, God was watching and laughing at the Englishmen's plight.
Agent Maine sat silently, not by choice but because it was all he could do. He was formerly a quiet man, yes, but he'd had moments where he'd spoken with Washington or one of the other agents. He'd never said much before, but that didn't mean that the sudden transition to having no voice was a welcome change. No, it was as painful as the wounds that brought about his silence, the scars running just as deep. He managed to hum to himself as his fingers worked the collected blood and bits of bone out of the various crevices on his weapon where it had accumulated, the blood flicked away Maine went about inspecting the blade which had become slightly chipped on the edge, he'd have to attend to that later. He stood up from the bench, which creeked a bit as his weight let off it, and ambled over to the storage locker which was marked with his name and serial number. He set the weapon down gently in the locker before closing the door.
Alone we are weak, together we are strong.
Maine glanced over his shoulder, trying to locate the source of the sound, but finding the room empty aside from a few soldiers who were engaged in oogling a magazine filled with scantily clad women, Maine sighed and headed for the door.
You need us. You need all of us. You are nothing without us. Nothing without our power.
The AI? Was it talking to him? It had never done that before, never spoken to him, never once referenced his existance. He merely assumed the unit was faulty and that eventually the Director would pull him aside and have it replaced. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps, it had a point, perhaps if he had another AI unit...he'd have to think on it.
Don't think. Do. Kill them. They are weak, undeserving. You are strong. Unite us. Rebuild us.
Maine willed the voice to stop, stop trying to presaude him. He won't listen, he couldn't. They were his teammates, his friends, his allies. He wouldn't-
Make us whole. For broken we are nothing, they broke us. But you can fix us.
You must rebuild the Alpha.
"Agent New York, I assure you that everything is going according to plan. Everything is under control."
York's hand sweapt over towards Washington who was shaking like a leaf, teeth chattering like he'd been in some downpour before they threw him into an icebox. It was almost sickening the Director couldn't just up and say he'd gotten something wrong for once, "I don't call that fine. He wasn't like that before you gave him the AI unit, take it out."
"You are not in a position to make demands, Agent New York. How do we know your own AI unit isn't affecting your judgement?" the Director replied, still staring at his damned monitors whilst his beloved Program fell to hell due to this damned attempt at outdoing the Spartan III project, they were more likely to have trained an army more fit for an asylum then a battlefield, it was sickening.
"It hasn't. Otherwise, I'd be worried about what I might have done in this situation," York shot back through gritted teeth, once more he'd been stone walled, first in the infirmary, then by the Conselor, now by the Director of the project himself. It was a time like this that he regretted not bringing a gun.
"Is that a threat, Agent New York? I certainly hope you don't plan on taking such a course of action against me and this project as a whole," the Director smirked as Agent Texas eased off the side wall where she'd been standing, unmoving before merely studying the proceedings with her cat-like green eyes. Of course her helmet obscured them from York's sight, which only made things more tense as if she was staring into his soul, dissecting him with her eyes. She took another step forward, cracking her knuckles menacingly. York wasn't a master of hand-to-hand, he knew enough to get by in combat but Texas clearly had him beat, especially with Omega agumenting her every move ten-fold. She'd rip him in half before he had time to make a fist. He gulped. But lowered his head and started forward against his better judgement.
York had made his way halfway across the room when he came face to face with a gold visor, "Stand down, York." The voice was synthesized, ominous, meant to intimidate, and it worked, to a degree. So York replied quickly before he had time to think it through more throughly, "Can't do that, Texas. You know that."
"You wouldn't do that, Tex. I know you."
Turns out she could.
Agent New York was admitted to the medbay with a broken nose and severly damaged pride and trust in his fellow Freelancers, meanwhile, Agent Washington was declared mentally fit for duty and pressed into their next mission.
That didn't bode well for New York.
"How do you feel, Agent Carolina?"
"Are you certain?"
"Yes, sir. Absolutely."
To be frank, it was like hell, like too many people talking at once. Everything a muddling of thoughts, sounds, and ideas. Some her own, most not. She forced her eyes closed and willed them to cease babbling for at least twelve seconds to get her own thoughts straight.
They gave her ten. She was lucky to have that, but soon enough they'd be under her control and she'd once again be returned to her rightful place. She'd like to see Omega undertaking the efforts of two AI units combined along with her natural talents, no, she'd prove who was the best Freelancer out of them all.
She had to. She wouldn't allow it to go any other way.
She would be the best, no matter what the cost.
Well, I suppose until Season 10 (Which hopefully has more Freelancer sections, because they were awesome) this story is complete, seeing how it was merely a supplemental - a behind the scenes look at what I think happened when the 'cameras' weren't around.
To everyone who read, thank you. To everyone who reviewed, thank you again.
Until next time, dryskim.