Samuel E. Paxton

Chapter I:
How To Be Promoted

"Kestrel? You hear me mate?" came an all too familiar northern England voice into my ear. I poked my finger into my ear to readjust the tiny silver chip embedded in it so I could hear him better. These things weren't supposed to come loose.
"Loud and clear Jake" I replied, a hint of annoyance in my voice. Jake, the cunning vocal expert he was, quickly detected it.
"You sound happy" he said dryly, though I imagined he was saying it with his trademark grin that gave away his cockiness.
"Well, you know, jetlag and all. I swear, why're we getting dragged out into the middle of nowhere to-" I began but Jake interrupted.
"Because it's important! And FYI little Miss Scarlett, don't call Chicago the middle of nowhere."
"Never heard of it" I said sarcastically, putting on a fake yawn. I looked out of the taxi window as I said it, watching the city streets with half interest.
"You wouldn't, you don't pay attention to anything. That's why you weren't sent to help those Syrian rebels five years ago like I was" retorted Jake. He had a style in the way he talked that always let you know whether or not he was just playing around with you. This he was doing now.
"That was back in 2012! I was new" I replied, putting some fake anger into my voice. Jake would probably have responded with some witty comeback, but someone else cut in on their conversation. It was Malcolm Smith; our boss.
"Do you guys think you could ease off the sexual tension for a bit and focus on the assassination I'm paying you for?" he asked in his heavy Scottish accent. Not a word he said was supposed to be a joke, it was all said in his characteristic cold and malicious manner that made him seem like a wolf with human DNA. Contrary to Malcolm's comments, I hadn't forgotten why we were here; an assassination contract. Jake, Malcolm and I all worked for the multinational corporation known as Cerberus. Our rival company, Eclipse, was presenting their Technology Innovation Demonstration at a small building specially made for such events, creatively named the Technology Innovation Demonstration Centre. A small convention to demonstrate brand new military technologies developed by Eclipse, never seen before by the public. The man hosting it would be one Nikolai Fyodorov. A remarkable man from the Russian Federation and I had already read up on him. He'd lived in the Soviet Union before escaping the Eastern Bloc for America. There he joined Eclipse and became the director of their Private Security Branch. This was a chance for Cerberus to take him down and Eclipse, our closest rival, would lose one of their best and we might be able to get an edge on them.

My taxi bumped up onto the curb before braking quickly, almost lurching me into the driver's seat. The driver failed to hold back a snigger and muttered "Sorry" while eyeing me in the rear view mirror. The taxi quickly came to a halt, the left wheels on the pavement while the right ones stayed stuck to the tarmac of the road. I looked through the window and on the opposite side of the road was the Technology Innovation Demonstration Centre. Fyodorov, me target, was in there. But clearly so were a lot of people. Two bouncers guarded the entrance to the building while a long queue of people winded to the next building across. This was a highly exclusive event. I breathed slowly and opened the door of the taxi before stepping out into the warm air of the city, though almost spluttering as the fumes of passing cars filled my nose. I slammed the door and briskly walked to the pavement, still watching the opposite side of the street and the building where the demonstration was taking place. I heard the gruff voice of the taxi driver, evidently a twenty a day smoker, as he leaned out the open window of his yellow car and called to me.
"Hey! Thirty two dollars bitch!" he shouted, a cigar sticking from his mouth like an ugly brown tongue.
"Sue me, asshole" I said to myself as I kept walking without looking. In the corner of my eye I could see him lean back into the car, muttering expletives to himself before driving back onto the road. However he made sure to make it look like he was trying to run me over before changing course at the last second back onto the road. I let out a strong kick on the rear left door of the yellow taxi as it passed, leaving a hefty dent in it. I could just make out the driver yelling "Mother fucker!" in response to my kick, but he kept driving.
I knew I wouldn't be getting into the building through the entrance, though not because I couldn't take the bouncers. I just couldn't risk alerting anyone, or Fyodorov would run off.

"Kestrel in position" I said, my earpiece transmitting my voice to Malcolm and Jake. A split second later I heard Jake say the same about himself.
"Gwen in position" came a distinct Welsh voice. The pale skinned, black haired Gwen was lying flat on the roof of a high rise building about half a mile away, watching the building with a silenced AW50 sniper rifle. She would be our overwatch for this mission, providing sniper support.
All the way in New York, Malcolm was stood in the Command Room at the Cerberus Operations Command. By now a number of major corporations had their own professional military wings to deal with competitors. A new type of corporate warfare had emerged in the last few years.
Malcolm was stood watching the wall, which was covered in paper thin Ultra High Definition television screens showing various happenings in and around the target building, which had been codenamed "WARSAW." One screen was showing live footage from a Cerberus MQ-19 Grey Falcon unmanned aerial vehicle that was orbiting high above WARSAW, streaming live footage of the building. The MQ-19 was a quadrotor design with four rotors that allowed it incredible speed and agility through the air. Its Ultra High Definition camera streamed UHD footage straight back to Cerberus Command.
Another screen showed a CNN news reporter in front of the building, talking about the predictions that corporate analysts had made about what would be on show. Malcolm watched with his arms crossed as people all around him worked on laptops, all focusing on this one operation. Voices filled the room as the operators communicated with agents in the field throughout Chicago. Malcolm was focused on the live streaming images coming from the MQ-8.
"Alright people, how're we looking?" he asked without taking his eyes off the screens.
"Agents in position, area is locked down. Ready when you are sir" responded one of the people working a laptop. Malcolm went onto all channels as he communicated through his ear piece.
"All callsigns, we are mission launch. I say again, mission is a go" he said and at that, Jake immediately contacted me.
"Alright K, what's your plan?" he asked. I had already figured it all out.
"Well, I'll have a look at the front door but there's not really a chance of getting in there. But there's a fire escape on an apartment building nearby. I can climb that and get access from the roof" I told him. After a couple of seconds, which Jake was likely using to assess my response, he replied.
"Alright, sounds good to me. Just don't hurt yourself" he said slyly. I suppressed a smirk.
"I wouldn't give you the pleasure" I replied, before Malcolm came onto comms again.
"We've got an MQ-19 watching the area, we'll be able to know if there's any Eclipse cunt heading your way" he told us. Swearing was a bit more than just a habit for Malcolm.

Just as I was about to cross the street I checked myself in the wing mirror of a parked car. Thankfully the taxi ride, which didn't seem to have any suspension whatsoever, hadn't turned my hair into a complete mess. I'm a girl. My hair's important. It was naturally black but with purple highlights at the ends. It was also spiky, reminding me somewhat of the kind of hairstyles a lot of female characters in Japanese anime have. It went surprisingly well with my business trousers and black jacket. Just as I crossed the street I noticed a figure standing atop the target building. No doubt he was Eclipse security, but that wasn't what worried me. What worried me was the fact that he was holding a G36C assault rifle with a magnified reflex sight. Clearly Fyodorov knew it was a risk to be here and wasn't taking any chances with his security. Too bad I was just so damn good. Previous experience had shown that a few Eclipse gunmen, armed or not, could easily be dropped with the correct amount of ordinance.
I reached the pavement outside the building, keeping an eye on the bouncer guarding the front door. The reporter was still going on about the event, while a long line of unimportant looking people snaked its way down the street, each hoping to gain entry. I walked past the building, neglecting to show any interest in it. The bouncer was too busy arguing on his phone to take any notice of the queue of people, let alone some random girl walking past him. I continued past several buildings before making an abrupt turn into a tight alley, between two stores. I checked the alley for anyone, but the only person there besides me was a bearded hobo in a leather jacket, laying against the wall with his legs sprawled out and covered in beer cans. I had to look at him twice to check if he was alive, but he opened his eyes weakly and smiled at me so I turned and kept walking down the alley. Once I reached the end I came across a fire escape ladder that climbed the rear of a brick apartment building, which was itself about ten storeys high. I climbed atop a green dumpster, which made its contents inside rattle, before leaping from it onto the bottom section of the fire escape. Pulling myself up, I climbed onto the fire escape and made my way up. Once I'd reached a height that was parallel to the roof of the nearest building, I slowly climbed onto the railing that was meant to stop people falling off the side of the ladder system to their deaths. Balancing precariously on the thin metal bars I kept my eyes fixed on the roof I was trying to get to. "Fuck it" I said to myself, and made a leap of faith from the fire escape onto the rooftop of the nearby building. As I was in the air I looked down for a fraction of a second, saw the floor of the alley and realised that if I screwed this jump up there was no doubt that floor would become my grave. Right next to the hobo who was watching me curiously while still lying against the wall. But miraculously the screw up didn't happen and I landed on the roof, though almost tripping over once I landed. I let out a sigh of relief, though something told me that wouldn't be the stupidest thing I'd do today.

Seeing the rooftop of WARSAW opposite the building I was currently on, I headed towards it briskly. The Chicago skyline was clearly visible on the other side of the Chicago River. The only high rise buildings near where I was were the white and silver office and apartment buildings, symbols of the nine to five life. A life I'd always been terrified of getting, so I joined Cerberus Corporation, one thing led to another and now I'm an assassin. As is the way life works.
I was lucky that there wasn't another alleyway dividing WARSAW from the building I was currently on, but my luck could only run so far. There were two well armed guards on the roof of WARSAW. One was the guy I'd seen already, armed with a G36C with reflex sight. He wore a black polo shirt with a black bulletproof vest over it and was watching the road, which was good for me since I wasn't in his peripheral. The other guy was wearing a balaclava that covered his entire face except his eyes, and held a matte black FN P90 submachine gun with a Ring Sights MC-10-80 reflex sight. On the end of the barrel was also a black suppressor. These guys were packing some serious equipment. On the centre of the roof was a tiny room with a door that likely contained a staircase into the building. I couldn't get close to the guards without risking alerting one of them, and it'd jeopardise the entire operation if I alerted one. I remembered that Gwen was still providing overwatch half a mile away and without a doubt had a clear shot of the roof.
"Gwen? You hear me?" I asked and her voice quickly responded through the ear piece.
"Got you Kestrel. This about those two guys on the roof?" she asked.
"Yeah. Look, I don't know if I can take out one of them without the other guy seeing or hearing so-" I began but was cut off as I heard the whistle of an approaching bullet get louder and louder. Suddenly the guard with the G36C had a single sniper bullet go right through his forehead, spurting blood all over the place. A second later I watched as a second bullet hit the other guard in the neck, killing him before he hit the floor. There was about three seconds of silence before Gwen's voice came back into my earpiece, sounding a lot more pleased than she did ten seconds ago.
"That sort everything out for you sweetie?" she asked. I didn't need to be able to see her to know she was grinning as she lay watching the entire scene through her scope.
"Yeah, I think that might've worked. You know it would've been far cooler to take one each at the same time?" I asked her.
"Yeah maybe" was all she had to say in response. I let it go and headed onto the WARSAW rooftop. The bodies of the two guards lay sprawled across it, blood pouring from their major wounds. After spending a few seconds marvelling at how Gwen and I had pretty much no emotive feeling for these two guys, I opened the door to find a metal staircase and headed inside. By now of course I knew there may well be danger lurking around every corner, so I reached into the inside of my jacket and pulled out my black MP7A1 submachine gun, which sported a Zeiss RSA reflex sight and a long suppressor. Even though the last thing I wanted was to start a full blown firefight in a place that was likely to be crowded with civilians, it was either that or getting gunned down the moment I'm spotted. The guards were likely on high alert.
"Jake, I'm in. Where are you?" I asked. He was quick to respond.
"I'm in the main room. You'd love it here Kestrel, believe me. They've got a bar and everything! Fyodorov's due to make his speech in about five minutes, so hurry up" Jake told me. I chose to take his advice and hurried along, though making sure to check every corner for signs of trouble. And then I finally found one.

As I was approaching the stairway that led to the second floor, I could hear footsteps around a nearby corner. I acted quickly and darted into the shadows, taking cover behind a brick column. Scattered all around the place were cardboard boxes in the half lit room. I had to be careful not to kick any by mistake. Behind the column, another Eclipse guard was walking. He must have heard me, as he called out.
"Tom, that you? Thought you were s'posed to be up on the roof watching for shit that ain't gonna happen, like you said" he called. He came round the corner and I had to make my breathing as quiet as possible so he wouldn't notice that a Cerberus agent was taking cover in the shadows about ten feet away. He walked forward several paces, looking around.
"Tom? Or is that Ralph? You guys know you're s'posed to be on the roof, I don't care how boring the shit gets. At least you can smoke without endangering the health of absolutely fucking everyone" he shouted. Clearly he had some issues and I wasn't keen to find out how well my throat would fare against his impressive biceps. I opened fire with my MP7A1, the suppressor making each shot a fraction of its normal volume. The shots tore into his back right through his jacket and he fell to the ground. I spent about thirty seconds dragging his body into the shadows to make it just a little but harder for any further security to find him, before continuing.

Placing the MP7A1 back inside my jacket to keep it hidden, I quickly descended the stairs and arrived on the second floor. Techno music being played on the bottom floor was now easily audible through the walls and it acted as a beacon for where I needed to go.
"Kestrel, move it" came Jake's voice, sounding a little agitated.
"It's fine Jake. I'm on the way now" I replied, passing a couple of security guards who were a little less well armed than the guys on the roof, having only black Glock 31 handguns in holsters. They also wore suits, rather than the paramilitary getup of the guys on the roof. At least Eclipse had some sense of class. However there was one security guard who held a Russian made A-91 assault rifle with an ACOG sight. Why he needed an ACOG sight in a place as close quarters as this I didn't know until I discovered that the second floor had an indoor balcony which overlooked the ground floor. On the ground floor was the main room that Jake was in. At least a hundred and fifty people were packed into it, some at the bar while others were sitting at small stool-like tables throughout the room. On the left side of the room was an empty stage, which Fyodorov would likely be making his announcement from. It was all very nifty and this balcony was the perfect place for someone with a rifle to make sure no-one caused trouble and if they did, they'd have a 7.62x39 millimetre round in the side of their head.

I headed down the last staircase and reached the main room. It was swarming with people and the techno music and chatter filled the air. I reached the bar and found Jake sitting there already. It was hard to miss him with his spiked up dark blond hair and Newcastle accent. Not exactly the most common voice type in Chicago.
"Drinking on the job eh?" I asked as I pulled up a stool next to him.
"Helps my aim" he replied as the bartender served him two white wines. "Here, I bought you a drink" he told me, holding out one of the glasses for me. I took it and looked at him, an eyebrow raised.
"Since when did I drink?" I asked him as he started sipping on his own wine.
"If I'd known you didn't drink I wouldn't of bought you one. There's a first time for everything" he told me and I nodded. After inspecting the contents of the glass like a child, much to Jake's amusement, I finally tasted it. It was good, better than the cat piss wine I'd tried once in London's Chinatown. But I ended up downing too much at once, and spluttered. Jake chuckled as he watched.
"Lightweight" he said, before raising his glass. "I propose a toast" he offered and in response I raised my glass too. "To murder" he said, and we clinked our glasses together.
"And corporate espionage" I added, before drinking the rest of the wine. This time it flowed down my throat without being gagged back up. Jake checked his watch.
"We got about a minute. I'm gonna go get myself in position, wouldn't wanna miss Fyodorov's speech would I?" he asked as he rose from his stool. I gave him the thumbs up as he made his way through the groups of people. I stayed sat on the stool, watching him move towards the stage. My attention was quickly diverted as a middle aged looking man with a handlebar moustache sat on the stool Jake had been occupying.
"Hey honey, you alright?" he asked me with his strong northern Illinois accent. I ignored him completely. "Girl, you interested in having some fun with me once that speech is done?" he asked. I turned to him and looked him dead in the eyes.
"Would you still ask me that if I broke every bone in your arm?" I asked him with a completely straight voice. He quickly looked away, turning his attention to the drink's cabinet at the back of the bar, and didn't look at me again. I would have tried my luck with threatening him further but my attention turned to the stage as the techno music stopped playing, giving my ear drums a well deserved break, and an Eclipse official of some sort wearing a fancy suit with a red tie came up onto the stage from the backstage area with a microphone. Everyone was quick to pay close attention to him. His voice boomed through the surround sound systems as he began to speak, silencing everyone in the room.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming to the Eclipse Corporation's Technology Innovation Demonstration" he began, which was met with applause from pretty much everyone in the crowd besides me and, from what I could see, Jake. The official continued to talk until he finally introduced "Nikolai Fyodorov, Director of Eclipse's Private Security Branch!" Fyodorov emerged from backstage to thunderous applause and I saw this as the right time to slip away from the bar and move into the crowd that had formed in front of the stage, standing near Jake. I kept one eye on the security who were now watching the crowd from pretty much all sides. I counted eight of them. As Fyodorov entered, the surround sound system started playing the chorus of the song American Idiot, which was supposedly Fyodorov's theme tune for today. At least the guy had taste. The official handed him the microphone and Fyodorov waved to the cheering crowd. He was a handsome enough man, with slick blond hair, sharp and defined features and a muscular appearance. He wore a navy stripe suit with a two button fastening and a waistcoat underneath that was also navy striped. A white shirt was visible underneath that. He also had a red tie. I noticed that Jake was now standing right next to me.

"So what's the plan?" he asked, trying to be heard over the cheering. By now Fyodorov had started speaking.
"Thanks you everyone, it's fantastic to be here today. It's really is an honour" he started.
"Just wait for an opportunity. We don't need to do anything during the speech, I don't fancy our chances against eight armed security guards" I told Jake as Fyodorov continued talking.
"Come on K, we've taken more in less time" replied Jake. Neither of us were taking our eyes off Fyodorov as we talked.
"Have a look around you at how many civilians there are. Usually it'll be a non-issue and I can deal with some collateral damage, but if we start shooting now it'll turn into a massacre. Eclipse securities are jumpy on the triggers. They hear a gunshot and they'll spray the whole crowd" I told him. Jake nodded in understanding, but we fell silent as one of the Eclipse employees wheeled something out onto the stage on a podium with wheels. It had a large white cloth over it to hide whatever it held. This had to be the special reveal Eclipse were doing.
"This should be interesting" Jake said.
"Quiet!" hissed a woman standing behind him, evidently distracted.
"Shut the fuck up" replied Jake dryly without looking at her. She fell silent but with a furious look on her face. Fyodorov appeared close to revealing what was on the podium.
"And now ladies and gentlemen, it is my greatest pleasure to unveil one of Eclipse's proudest creations, the next step in military technology..." he seized the cloth covering the podium and whisked it off. There was a great cooing amongst the audience in wonder, including with Jake. On the podium stood what looked like a metal bulletproof vest. Two dozen cameras went off in the room, bathing the bulletproof vest in white light. Fyodorov gave the audience several seconds to quieten down before he continued speaking.
"Say hello to the NanoArmour. Eclipse has pioneered a revolution in the field of nanotechnology, which has now given rise to the first use of it for military means! This vest is 100% synthetic, made with fluid based, organic nanoweaves that make it able to withstand even fifty calibre bullets without a single dent. And this is only the beginning. We believe that within just five years we will be able to create entire battle suits for our soldiers made of this material. It's sci-fi. It's Iron Man. And it's promising. Our world is on the verge of the Second Scientific Revolution, but it will dwarf the first one a thousand times over! Welcome to the future, and the United States will lead the charge as it always has done" he concluded. There was a massive uproar of applause from the crowd with even some of the security guards clapping. Jake and I couldn't help but be impressed.
"Guess Eclipse knows what they're doing" Jake said.
"The sooner we deal with this guy the better. He's making Eclipse this kind of gear, he's irreplaceable" I replied.

Not far across the room, one of the security guards was watching the crowd. He wore black shades, but there was more to them than that. From his view, the high tech glasses were scanning each individual person in the crowd and accessing their internet footprint, effectively finding out everything he needed to know about them. But then he focused on me. The glasses took a second to scan me before my body was highlighted in red. The writing "KESTREL SCARLETT, KNOWN CERBERUS OPERATIVE" flashed up on the inside of the glasses. Quickly he began to move towards me, motioning to other security guards to cover him. I was completely oblivious as he barged his way through the crowd towards me until he suddenly grabbed my forearm.
"Hey, you're coming with me sweetie-" he began but was cut off as I brought my right hand, clenched into a fist, right into his nose. I felt it break and his shades shattered, shards of the high tech glass falling to the ground. He fell backwards onto the floor, groaning in pain. Reacting immediately, Jake and I both reached into our jackets and procured Glock 24 handguns, both of us holding one in each hand. There were screams as members of the crowd either dived to take cover on the floor or parted like the Red Sea, scattering to the sides of the room leaving Jake and I standing alone in the centre of the room in a standoff against seven security guards, all of which were pointing Glock 31 handguns at us, and the guy with the rifle on the balcony was now pointing it directly towards Jake's scalp. There was silence for several seconds, broken only by my heavy breathing as I recovered from the sudden adrenaline rush of being ambushed. Then Fyodorov, still standing on the stage, broke the silence by chuckling.
"Well, well, well. Take a good long look ladies and gentlemen at the face of the great Cerberus Corporation. Let me guess, agents? You've come to kill me haven't you? Well good luck surviving. Have a look around and notice seven barrels of seven guns pointing directly at your heads. I don't want blood spilled here so how about you two just drop your weapons and we'll deal with you with dignity" he said, a sneer cackle in his voice. Jake and I looked at each other, still watching the security guards and making sure they weren't trying to get closer. Then Jake broke the silence.
"Oh fuck this shit!" he yelled, before firing several shots directly at the NanoArmour that still stood on the podium. The bullets hit but ricocheted right off, hitting the shiny chrome metal walls and bouncing off again and again. There were screams in the crowd of people as the bullets bounced about the room, but it also distracted the security guards long enough for Jake and I to fire four rounds that took four of them down. The remaining three guards opened fire and Jake and I just managed to dodge as bullets hit the stage, narrowly missing Fyodorov. As we returned fire, taking out two more guards who now lay lifeless on the ground, Fyodorov made a run for it and sprinted backstage. Jake and I opened fire on him with our Glocks but the bullets missed, instead hitting the wall behind him and throwing glowing orange sparks onto the floor. We were then further distracted as the A-91 wielding guard on the balcony opened fire on us, risking hitting the dozens of civilians shielding themselves on the floor. I dived behind the bar counter, the assault rifle firing in fully automatic and shattering glasses left right and centre. Some of the wine bottles shattered and threw wine right into my face.
"Now is not the time to be getting hammered!" I yelled, before ducking out of cover from behind the bar counter and firing at the guard. He took cover behind a pillar to reload as I heard Gwen over my earpiece.
"Guys, what the hell is going on!? I can hear gunfire!" she shouted. I then heard the sound of her sniper rifle going off as she spoke. Clearly she was firing on more Eclipse that were trying to get in as reinforcements. I took cover again behind the bar as the A-91 guard opened fire once more, spraying bullets in my general direction. The bartender tried to run for cover but was peppered with bullets, mistaken for me, and fell against the counter before crashing to the floor, limp and lifeless.
"Everything that could fuck up fucked up! Fyodorov is running!" I yelled through my earpiece and it was Malcolm who responded.
"Our drone's got him! He's on the street now, got about half a dozen guards with him! Looks like they're waiting for a pickup! Move your fucking arses!" he bellowed. I peeked out from behind the bar counter and saw the A-91 guard was taking cover again to reload. I aimed one of my handguns just a few inches left of the stone column he was behind. The moment he emerged to open fire again, I fired a single shot that sent right through his left eye. Blood spurted everywhere as he dropped the rifle, which fell from the balcony and landed on the ground floor. He stayed on his feet for a few seconds, wobbling, before falling forwards and tumbling over the railing, falling onto the ground floor just like his rifle and lying there in a crumpled heap.

"Everyone get the fuck out now!" Jake yelled to the civilians, who didn't need telling twice. There was a rush to the door as everyone ran screaming to the main exits. I ran to Jake, who beckoned for me to follow him. We jumped onto the stage and sprinted backstage, pursuing Fyodorov.
"Malcolm said Fyodorov's on the street now; we've got a tiny fucking window to take him out!" Jake shouted as we ran through the backstage, past Eclipse employees trying to retreat out of harm's way. One Eclipse guard, dressed in a smart black suit, emerged from behind a door with a SPAS-12 combat shotgun. He fired once and it almost tore me to shreds, but the rounds instead peppered the wall with large bullet holes though I felt the rush of air as they passed by. Still running towards the guard, I fired six rounds from my Glock into his stomach and chest, each round leaving a bloody bullet hole in his white shirt and jacket. As he fells to his knees Jake and I had already ran past him, heading for the back exit.

"How the fuck did that guard know who I was?" I asked as we kept running.
"Guess the hair's pretty recognisable!" Jake shouted back. I ran ahead of Jake as the back exit became visible. Just as I reached it and pulled it open an Eclipse operative who had been waiting for us behind the door lunged right at me. He didn't even touch me before a bullet from Gwen's sniper rifle hit him in the back of the neck and he instead fell against me. Whether he was dead or just paralysed forever I didn't both to check as I spotted Fyodorov across the street. He was climbing into the back seat of a silver Audi S6, which was already accelerating down the street before he even closed the door. We opened fire on the car but the bullets did only superficial damage, leaving bullet holes and smashing one of the brake lights. Two silver BMW M5s were escorting him, no doubt filled with heavily armed Eclipse operatives.
"Fuck sake!" yelled Jake. "Malcolm! Get that UAV on Fyodorov's car, he's in a silver Audi S6, license plate number YTE 468" he shouted.
"Roger, we've got him located! UAV is pursuing him now; we'll project a live feed of his location! Now get to him and rip out his fucking spine!" came Malcolm's reply and on my very vision came a waypoint that showed exactly where Fyodorov was. We top corporate agents had been specially augmented with technology to better help us carry out our missions. One such augmentation was small implants on our eyes that not only let us see in Ultra High Definition but also allowed waypoints to be beamed directly into our eyes, like having a SATNAV in your pupils. And now, with the MQ-19 beaming constant information on the location of Fyodorov's car, we could see that Fyodorov was getting away and he was getting away fast.
Meanwhile half a mile away Gwen was packing up her sniper rifle into a small suitcase and tying it to her back.
"I'm on him too" she said into her earpiece. She had already prepared for this situation and had a rope dangling off the roof of the building all the way down to street level. Without hesitation she grabbed it and leaned backwards off the edge of the high rise office building before abseiling off the edge with the rope. She let herself fall a couple of storeys before her feet hit the wall of the building once more. She continued this until she reached the ground, likely leaving some very surprised office workers staring out of the windows she'd just abseiling down. Waiting for her next to the building was her orange BMW G 650 motorcycle, with an Uzi with a reflex sight hidden in a small compartment. She grabbed her orange motorcycle helmet, turned on the engine and sped into the traffic in pursuit of Fyodorov.

Meanwhile back next to WARSAW, Jake and I had already figured out how we were going to get to Fyodorov. After the gunshots were fired, civilians on the streets had scattered in panic and several vehicles had been abandoned by their fleeing owners. We ignored all of them and went straight for a silver Aston Martin Virage that was standing static on the road. We both ran to it, weapons pointing at the driver.
"Get out of the car! Get the fuck outta the car!" I yelled as the terrified driver scrambled out and ran for his life. Jake quickly got into the driver's seat as I got into the passenger seat.
"How come you get to drive?" I asked as I reloaded my Glocks.
"You're a women" he joked, earning a dirty look from me as the car sped off. "Malcolm, we're heading north and closing in on target, what's happening over there?" asked Jake.
"Jake, you better be there soon and you better have a plan because they aren't fucking around. You need to either go Die Hard on them or piss off" came Malcolm's shouting reply.
Meanwhile Gwen was weaving in and out of traffic on her bike, making a beeline towards Fyodorov and his escort cars.
"Guys I'm closing in on Fyodorov. First one to blow up a car gets a free gold M16" she said over her earpiece, still weaving between vehicles.
"Roger that" was all I had to say in response as our Aston Martin sped closer to Fyodorov.
"They really should've put Hellfires or something equally explosive on that MQ-19, then this wouldn't be happening" Jake said, keeping his eyes on the road.
"I don't think anyone expected things to fuck up this royally" I replied.
"Heads up" came a new call from Malcolm. "Fyodorov's just headed onto Interstate 90, Kennedy Expressway. You have to hurry the fuck up!" he told us and at that Jake pressed harder on the accelerator. It wasn't long until we ascended the on-ramp onto the highway. Now Fyodorov was close ahead, and police sirens were close behind.

Finally Fyodorov's car came into view, flanked by the two silver BMW M5s.
"Don't do anything yet" Jake warned me. "We'll trail him and see if we can get closer", which was strategy I couldn't argue with. Then, through another augment I had which allowed me to intercept transmissions, I caught a phone call going on inside Fyodorov's car.
"Fyodorov's making a phone call, patching it through now" I said and then I, Jake, Gwen and everyone in the Cerberus command room could hear the conversation.
"You assured me! You assured me nothing would go wrong! That there was no risk!" came Fyodorov's panicked sounding voice.
"Perhaps I was a little economical with the risk factor, but I didn't have much of a choice" came a second voice which I recognised instantly as Dean Spence; CEO of Eclipse Corporation. "You're not a pawn Nikolai, trust me. You're one of the best but sometimes a general has to get in the firing line to remind people he's still fighting the war. Contact me when you're out of Chicago. I'm sending an AH-6 to give you some air cover. Cerberus won't give up straight away. Spence out" the CEO said, and the conversation was over.
"Did Spence just say he's sending an AH-6?" asked a wide eyed Jake.
"He wasn't bluffing either. Radar at one of our facilities in the city centre is picking up a Little Bird signature heading your way" came Malcolm's voice.
An AH-6 Little Bird. A fast attack helicopter that could easily kill both Joke and I. And now one was heading right for us. We never said anything but Jake and I both knew that we had to kill Fyodorov right now before that helicopter arrived. He began to speed up, closing the distance between our car and the three Eclipse vehicles.
"Focus on the escorts first, they'll cause us the most damage" Jake told me and I nodded. With my elbow I smashed out my door's window and leaned out, the air whipping my hair as we sped down the highway, passing numerous vehicles as we easily broke the speed limit which Fyodorov and his friends were already doing. However as we got closer I realised that from the rear window of a black Hummer H2 that was driving parallel to us, two lanes to our right, had emerged the barrel of an M16A4 assault rifle. Without warning Jake, I grabbed the steering wheel and turned it sharply to the right, just as the passenger of the Hummer fired the M16A4's M203 underbarrel grenade launcher right at us.
Thanks to swerving closer to the Hummer, the grenade just skimmed over the hood of our car and hit the highway's central divide, exploding and sending bits of concrete flying in all directions. Several civilian cars swerved out of the war to avoid the shrapnel.
"What the hell was that?!" yelled Jake as I allowed him to regain control of the Aston Martin.
"That Hummer, it's Eclipse too! They've got more backup than we thought!" I shouted back. Fyodorov's car was clearly speeding up, as well as his two escort cars. They knew we were here. Suddenly the Eclipse gunman inside the Hummer opened fire on us with his fully automatic rifle. The bullets sprayed everywhere, shattering the windscreen and filling the hood with holes. Both Jake and I ducked as bullets tore into the interior of the car. Jake swerved to the left to get some distance between the two vehicles before swerving back to the right as hard as he could to slam into the Hummer. However the truck was essentially a military Humvee without a machine gun and it could withstand punishment. The Aston Martin practically bounced off the Hummer and we were met with another shot by the M203 grenade launcher. By some miracle it failed to explode as it bounced off the hood of the car and into the road, where it detonated just as a civilian Fiat Punto drove over it. The front right wheel of the Fiat was torn off and replaced by a burning stump while the force of the explosion threw the car into a somersault across the road. In response I pulled my MP7A1 from my jacket and opened fire on the Hummer with the submachine gun at fully automatic, desperately hoping the shots would convince the driver to speed up or retreat. Meanwhile Fyodorov was getting further away and the Little Bird was getting closer. However my bullets were just bouncing off the Hummer; it was bulletproof.
"That fucking Hummer's got armour plating!" I yelled as I tried to reload the MP7A1 while bullets flew past me, coming from the enemy jeep.
"Who puts armour on a fucking Hummer?!" Jake yelled back. "Except the military."
"Gwen, you really need to get here now!" I shouted.
"Almost there, just try and stay alive a little longer!" came her reply. She was already on the highway, she could be here within a minute.
"I'm managed to stay alive for the last twenty three years, I'll manage another ten minutes!" I shouted back as I finally finished reloading my MP7A1. This time I leaned right out of the window, all the while the threat of being crushed between the Aston Martin and the Hummer looming over, and unloaded the entire magazine into the Hummer's rear left tyre, which was the closest one to me. I saw it pop and rapidly deflate, soon making bumping noises every half second as the Hummer continued to speed down the highway. By now I could hear police sirens, and they were getting closer and closer. The Hummer's deflated tyre continued to smack against the road until it suddenly tore apart and flew off the vehicle altogether, leaving nothing but the rim. A huge shower of orange sparks streamed out from between the rim and the road, as the Hummer began to swerve from side to side. Losing the tyre had completely screwed up its turning ability, and Jake knew it. He took his foot off the accelerator and allowed the Humvee to get ahead of him. He then violently swerved to the right and smacked the Aston Martin into the rear left end of the Humvee. The absence of a tyre made it impossible for the vehicle to grip the highway and the impact by our Aston forced it to suddenly swerve to the left straight towards the central divide. However a lot of its momentum was now pushing it sideways and it went into a series of uncontrollable cartwheels, flipping over and over again as we sped away. I took one last look at the insane demonstration of why you don't fuck with physics, and we moved on.

Fyodorov had now managed to get pretty far ahead of us, but our waypoint was still showing us exactly where he was.
"I see the Little Bird!" came the sudden shout of Gwen over our ear pieces. "Oh shit!" she suddenly screamed and we quickly found out why. A Hydra 70 rocket from the Little Bird, no doubt meant for us, hit the highway just behind our car. Even though it missed, we could feel the fierce vibrations from the explosion. Once the fireball it created subsided, a crater remained where it had hit. Unfazed by this, Gwen jumped her motorcycle right over the crater and sped towards our Aston Martin. Meanwhile we were now facing off against a black AH-6 Little Bird intent on destroying us. Malcolm was watching everything from the feed of the UAV hundreds of feet above the highway.
"Keep going! Don't stop or you're dead!" he yelled to us through the ear pieces as a volley of Hydra 70 rockets soared from the rocket pods of the Little Bird, targeting us. Each one missed but caused a tremendous, fiery explosion that shook the Aston violently each time. Jake swerved from left to right, trying to evade the Little Bird. It then turned its two M134 Miniguns on us instead. I'd have much preferred it kept the rockets.
We now found ourselves struggling to evade an endless stream of orange tracer as the two machine guns of the Little Bird churned out six thousand rounds a second. Each one of these rounds tore a little chunk out of the road and the helicopter never paused its firing, it was constant. It was flying about forty feet behind us and only twenty feet above the ground. Its machine guns were hitting anything that got in the way, even civilian vehicles.
"Where the fuck are the police where you need them?!" shouted Jake as he violently pulled the steering wheel left and right to avoid the bullets. Of course plenty of the shots found their target and tore into the Aston Martin but miraculously it didn't alter the car's performance, though it did make the car look like a sieve.
"It's now or never Jake, we've still got a job to do! Get us as close to Fyodorov as you can!" I shouted. Jake didn't have time to consider what I said, so he simply pressed down on the accelerator and sped forward as fast as he could with a very vicious attack helicopter pursuing him.

Not far behind us the Chicago Police Department were responding to what was going on too. Four police 2013 Ford Taurus' were about two hundred feet behind us, lights flashing and sirens blaring, wisely keeping their distance. The distance was increasing too, as our Aston Martin sped up to keep up with Fyodorov. The Little Bird wasn't letting up, and we still had to contend with two BMW M5s filled with heavily armed Eclipse operatives. Well, at least for a while.
Speeding in-between the cars that hadn't scattered to get out of the way, Gwen was heading right for Fyodorov. With one hand on the handlebars, she reached down into her bike's compartment and pulled out her Uzi submachine gun. Smiling to herself she sped up as fast as the bike would allow and overtook Fyodorov and his convoy. But as she did so, she sprayed an entire magazine from the Uzi inside one of the BMWs, killing everyone inside. Every window shattered as the bullets ripped into the frail bodies inside. Just a few seconds later the driverless BMW smacked into the side of the highway, crumpling the front of the vehicle before spinning out of control. Jake came very close to crashing into the wreck but just managed to speed past.
"What's your plan on the Little Bird?" I asked Jake, wiping fragments of the shattered windscreen from my now bloodied face. Jake, the genius driver he was, had already figured that out. He pressed hard on the brakes before suddenly speeding up again. This simple move didn't give the Little Bird pilot enough time to slow down, so he overshot us and flew right past. In the time it took for the helicopter to turn around to face us we'd already driven past which meant it had to turn around again and catch up. All these small amounts of extra time added up.
"I swear you should've been in NASCAR or something" I told Jake, who looked at me.
"I did a demolition derby once and got arrested for blowing up another guy's engine with a double barrelled shotgun" he said. I looked at him with an eyebrow raised but he wasn't wearing the face he always wore when he was bullshitting you.
"You'll have some great stories to tell your grandkids, you know that?" I asked him.
"If I survive that long" he replied, swerving past an eighteen wheeler truck. Just as he passed it, the huge trailer it pulled was ripped apart as a volley of Hydra 70 rockets struck it, the Little Bird strafing the highway in an attempt to take us out. The truck and its burning trailer jack knifed behind us, which had the decent effect of blocking the police on all the highway's lanes.

I leaned out from where the passenger door window used to be and aimed my Glock at the only remaining BMW M5. One of the Eclipse operatives locked eyes with me for a split second as he pointed his HK MP5K submachine gun directly at me while I pointed my Glock directly at him. He fired first and the bullets hit the hood of the car and the road just ahead of us, but Jake didn't swerve to avoid the shots. Instead he sped up as I fired back at the enemy operative. Finally Jake managed to make our battered Aston steady long enough for me to steady my breath and my aim. I lined up the gun's iron sights with his head and squeezed the trigger. The bullet flew from my car to his, and went right into his forehead, leaving a bloody bullet hole. His comrades aboard the car all began to open fire on us as we got closer, now within just twenty feet.
As Jake continued driving, he glanced at me before looking back to the road. He then looked right back at me and stared, not having realised what he was seeing the first time. What he saw was me starting to clamber out of the window of the car as we were doing about seventy miles per hour.
"What the hell are you doing?" he shouted, watching me climb out of the window. I glanced at the Little Bird that was quickly catching up.
"Something I'll probably regret!" I replied, before preparing to jump. Jake looked ahead at the Eclipse BMW.
"If you survive, which you won't! No pressure!" he shouted back to me and I gave him a thumbs up before leaping from the Aston Martin and grabbing hold of the side of the Eclipse BMW.

Now I was hanging onto a car full of people who wanted to shoot me, and said car was going very fast while I was being shot at by an attack helicopter. I needed to be either really lucky or really stupid to pull off what I was planning. Probably both.
Before the Eclipse operatives inside the BMW could react to the fact that I'd just done one of the most insane things they'd ever seen, I climbed up the side of the car onto the roof. One Eclipse agent was quick to lean out of his window and try to shoot me off with his Uzi, but one bullet from my Glock in his eye seemed to make his reconsider. Jake was now driving the Aston Martin directly behind the BMW, with the Little Bird right behind him in pursuit. Without warning the Little Bird fired a single AGM-114 Hellfire guided anti-tank missile at Jake. Jake swerved out of the way just in time to avoid it, and now the missile was heading right for the BMW. Acting on instinct, I leapt from the BMW and landed on the hood of the Aston Martin as it sped down the highway. If the windscreen hadn't already been destroyed, I'd probably have gotten a concussion from hitting it.
I turned to see the $68,000 dollar, high explosive missile slam right into the rear of the BMW, still occupied by at least three Eclipse agents. The entire vehicle simply exploded in an orange fireball that I could feel, heating up my skin to the point where I thought I'd get first degree burns.
The burning wreckage of the BMW somersaulted through the air and bounced off the highway several times before finally coming to a rest. I watched for several seconds but I had more important things to focus on. The Little Bird was now flying just a few feet above the ground, and close to the Aston Martin. Still lying on the hood of the Aston, I looked at Jake who knew exactly what I was thinking.
"Go for it" he said.

Jake suddenly swerved the Aston towards the helicopter and I made a leap of faith, somehow managing to grab hold of the Little Bird's landing gear and dangling from it, my feet within inches of scraping the road. The aircraft's co-pilot leaned out with a handgun pointing at me, put I grabbed the arm holding the pistol and tugged it as hard as I could, pulling him from the chopper and falling onto the tarmac below where his body cart wheeled from the force of the impact. I pulled myself up into the helicopter's cockpit and came face to face with the pilot. He took one hand off the controls to swing a punch at me, but I grabbed the arm and held it still before punching him in the face with my other arm. I looked forward for a split second and realised that by distracting the pilot the helicopter had drifted over the oncoming lane of the highway and an eighteen wheeler truck was heading right for us, its horn blaring. The pilot yanked the controls just in time and dodged the truck, only to be shot in the side of the head by my Glock. I pushed his body out of the aircraft and clambered into the pilot's seat.
"Okay... I think I remember how to fly one of these things" I said to myself as I took hold of the controls. Flying a helicopter was like riding a bike. Granted, a flying, extremely deadly bike, but I could remember how to fly. I quickly swerved back onto the right side of the freeway and got Fyodorov's car locked in my sights. I sped towards it, catching up easily as Malcolm's voice came into my ear via the ear piece.
"Kestrel! What the hell are you doing?" he asked.
"Something stupid" I replied, before suddenly swinging the Little Bird round so it was flying sideways. I was just a few feet to the right of Fyodorov's Audi, so close I could see the whites of his eyes as he stared right at me.
"Weren't expecting this were you bitch?" I said before pressing on the trigger.
The two miniguns of the helicopter opened up and the rounds tore into the car, tearing it to pieces within seconds. Sparks flew everywhere as the glass shattered and huge chunks of the car eventually got torn off. There was no doubt in my mind that everyone inside that car was dead, and when it burst into flames a few seconds later it only proved my 'theory'.

Calmly I aligned the Little Bird with Jake's battered Aston Martin and jumped from the cockpit onto the roof, just managing to hold on. I watched as the pilotless helicopter smacked into the road and went into a spin, careering through the air as the rotor blades and tail snapped off. I clambered in through the window of the Aston and looked at Jake, who was staring at me.
"You are a fucking idiot. And a fucking genius. How does that work?" he asked me. I shrugged. "Like, that was the stupidest fucking thing I've ever seen in my life. But it was also fucking awesome. Do it more often" he said. I smiled.
"Words cannot express how high on adrenaline I am right now" I told him and he nodded, chuckling uncontrollably. I wasn't lying, my heart was in my mouth from beating so hard and I could feel my body shaking with I was on a sugar rush. Then Malcolm came into contact over the ear piece.
"Kestrel" he said, his voice completely straight.
"Malcolm?" I replied.
"You are so getting promoted" he said, and then he was gone.


Thank you for reading this, it's by far the biggest single chapter I've ever written. PLEASE leave a review so I know people are enjoying this and want to see more, or so I know where to improve. All feedback is welcomed and encouraged