Turn on some music and start reading! The two part finale of Act II is here!

Please read the author's note at the end, thank you!


The Long Road Ahead

Act II

Episode IX

Flight of the Seraphim – Part I

Yunaska Island - Alaska

Creeping ever forward through the thick grass, Melissa Mao's contingent of Sousuke, Kurz, and David made their way toward a chain link fence just barely visible in the darkness of night. Their bodies crouched, staying low to the ground, heads perhaps just only visible over the tall grass that swayed in the crisp cool wind of Yunaska Island. Mao was on point. Her weapon pointed forward toward the few dim lights that dotted edges of the airstrip beyond the metal barrier. Kurz and Sousuke moved in behind her. In their hands they gripped cutters, read to slice their way through the fence once the order was given. Finally, David Reed brought up the rear, his eyes scanning and darting from left to right and back again, vigilant and ever watchful for the random guard who might come strolling by. Luckily, the base was silent as a tomb. Even under the faint yellow lighting ahead no bodies moved…Boreas Base was eerily empty…

Mao arrived and stopped only meters in front of the chain link fence, raising her hand, giving the signal for those behind her to stop. Following her lead, her team dipped lower into the tall grass. David's eyes continued to glance about eagerly, the fingers on his matte black weapon twitched with an odd pent up emotion of anger, nervousness, readiness, and revenge. Briefly, Mao peered through the deep darkness of the moonless night, her eyes just able to make out the small shed-like building from which they would force their way into the innards of Boreas Base. That was their objective. Now all they had to do was wait for Clouseau. They didn't need to wait long. A faint voice peeped up into Mao's earpiece. The woman pressed her hand up against the side of her head, ready for what came next.

"This is Urzu 1; my team is ready to go. We have eyes on the communication tower and are ready to move." His voice was a quiet whisper even in Mao's earpiece.

It was Mao's turn, reaching to a small device on her neck she pressed the black rubber button and began to whisper in return. "This is Urzu 2, ready and waiting…We are waiting for you, Captain."

There was a brief silence that felt like an eternity for David who was listening in through his own earpiece. But finally, at the moment clock on his watch struck 03:00, Tessa Testarossa's familiar voice replied…

"…Affirmative, all teams proceed…"

At that instant, Mao signaled for Kurz and Sousuke to move forward. As if under the command of some higher divine power did the pair start silently cutting at the fence with a ruthless efficiency. Working in tandem, Weber and Sagara made short work of the metal fencing, creating a hold just big enough for a human and his gear to slip through without being noticed. Yet, after they quietly set the cut pieces of metal off into the grass, the pair stayed put, waiting. Mao could only assume that Clouseau and his team were already at work disabling the comm tower. She couldn't see them across the grass in the pitch blackness of the shadows, but she knew they were there. If they failed the entire operation could go down the drain real quick.

Watching and waiting, it took little time at all for Clouseau's voice to finally resurface through their headsets. "This is Urzu 1, communication tower has been disabled. Moving toward secondary objective. Good luck, Urzu 2."

The game was set, time to move. Mao motioned her hand forward and Sousuke and Kurz slipped, one by one, through the hole in the fence. Soon after Mao and then David followed suit. Everything was working like a well-oiled clock. Skittering through the tall grass now on the interior of the fencing, Mao and her team swiftly crept forward, staying low to the ground yet moving with a furious speed. In a waterfall fashion they each reached the small building, their entrance deeper into the Boreas facility. The door they needed to open lay on the other side. Signaling with her hand in a silent gesture toward David and Kurz, the pair filed around the corner of the shed. David crouched into the grass, his G36C snapping toward the direction of the airstrip off into the distance, covering Kurz as the man started at the lock on the door.

"…We're in…" Kurz whispered softly around the corner causing to Sousuke and Mao to bring up the rear. Weaseling his hands between the wooden panels, he pulled the door open just enough to fit a body through.

David lowered his weapons and was the first to slip inside, then Sousuke, and then Kurz, each moving like a cat in the starlight.

Mao brought her hand up to her neck once more, holding the button and whispering words as she herself moved through the wooden opening, pulling it shut behind her. Mao words were addressed to the TDD-1, Tessa Testarossa. "This is Urzu 2, moving into Boreas Base. We are turning on our locator units and proceeding with radio silence…Time to rescue us a Whispered! Wish us luck, over and out."


Tuatha De Danaan - Bridge

The words echoed in her head. "Time to rescue us a Whispered! Wish us lick, over and out." Sitting cross-legged in her Captain's chair, Tessa twirled the end of her ponytailed platinum hair in her fingers. Her eyes were half-closed in concentration. Just behind her she could hear the rapping of nervous Kaname's fingers on her metal chair. Kaname was nervous; it didn't take much to see that no matter how hard the blue haired woman might deny it. Tessa herself, she too was nervous. But the Mithril Captain held it in through years of experience, trial and error, and pure gut emotion.

Releasing her hair from her fingers, Teletha Testarossa lifted herself up from the TDD-1's command chair. With words that sounded cool and calculating the young woman spoke to the man standing to her right. "Mr. Mardukas, you have the helm." She uttered simply before slipping away.

"Aye, Madam Captain." Mardukas barked back, shifting his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

Making her away behind her chair, Tessa's black heels tapped lightly against the metal flooring, the sounds mirroring Kaname's own footsteps as she too followed close behind. Working her away across the bridge, the pair arrived at a blue table, it's surface a screen showing the layout of the Boreas Base that had been downloaded and created by the TDD-1's A.I. DANA. There were four little blue pulsing dots that flickered to life in one of the long stretched out hallways that led into the bases interior and superstructure.

"Is that them?" Kaname whispered silently, pointing to the blue dots. Her words were still audible by everyone in the dead silent command deck.

Tessa managed a nod and a grin. "That's right, Ms. Chidori. Mao, Kurz, Sousuke, and David are all right there." She pointed a finger toward the group of dots as they began to move down the long corridor on the screen. "From here, assuming that the base layout is correct, we'll be able to track their movements to some degree."

Kaname fidgeted nervously where she stood, pulling one of Sousuke's old sweaters around her just a bit tighter for comfort. "There isn't anything else we can do then?"

Lightly shaking her head, Teletha let out a brief, yet noticeably nervous sigh. "Correct. It's up to them now. Now we have to wait. We'll know soon enough what is going to happen."


Yunaska Island - Alaska

…A metal door slid open with a hiss. All the way down the corridor faint red light reflected off the metallic walls and glossy floor. It was as if each and every surface on Boreas Base was sterile and clean, no speck of dust or dirt, and not even the lightest scratch on the wall could be seen…That faint red light get it all an eerie feeling, as if with each floor they descended that Mao and her team was traveling deeper into the fiery pits of hell itself…

David clung close to the right wall, his gun snapping around the nearest corner, checking for any rare patrolling guard. None had set to show themselves. Maybe Boreas Base wasn't as populated as they thought. "Clear!" David uttered quickly and silently over his shoulder to the rest of the group. Not seconds after was David's gun facing forward down the hallway once again. His feet always carried him forward towards the next set of doors.

Kurz followed soon after with a short statement of his own. While it went against his personality, Kurz Weber knew when to focus on the job at hand. "Three floors in and not a soul in sight, either we are really good, really lucky, or something is up."

Sousuke could help but reply. "Seeing as this is a research facility, as remote as it is I doubt any guards would be patrolling during such an hour. Although we should expect something as we near the lower floors."

Reaching the far end of the hallway, Mao and David turned to face Sousuke and Kurz, signaling them forward to work this next door. Both watched as their pair passed and began to work, connecting a small computer-like device to unscramble the digital lock and let them pass onto the next floor. Mao, shouldering her weapon down the red-lite hallway muttered in David's direction. "Where are we now?"

David too kept his eyes open down the corridor while his mind flickered through his memory of the base's interior and layout. His fingers still tightly gripped his weapon as he replied. "Floor three, just in front of the main elevator shaft. We pop open this door and repel down eight more to the two lowest floors. We'll find Bethany and The Puppet Master there waiting for us."

Kurz spoke up again, as the door unlocked with a faint computerized beep and a metallic click. "Why didn't we just take the elevator all the way down in the first place?"

"Most of the elevator's here are staggered. Few go up through many floors while others only go up two or three, maybe four tops. That's not counting sub-levels." David replied, shifting the grip on his weapon to make it more comfortable. "We wanted the quickest way to the basement levels and this is it. With luck we'll be able to enter through the top of the elevator car and come out right on the second to last floor." He resisted the urge to let out a huff of amusement. "We were guessing we didn't want to take the stairs all the way down."

"David's logic is sound." Sousuke said in his always so stagnant voice he had. "Assuming our luck holds we should be able to sneak in close without alerting whoever might be on the base."

Now fiddling with the door's control panel, Kurz spoke up again. "And how about the way out?"

Mao was the one who replied this time around. "We take the same away we took in. Preferably we'll be able to use this same elevator to make our way back up. If that's not the case, the stairs going between floors are the next best option."

"Right, that should do it." Kurz said abruptly as the elevator door peeled open revealing the long and dark shaft leading to the lowest two levels. The man then began another job, looking into the bag on his back and removing repelling rope and gear, attaching them to sturdy pieces of metal just under the open elevator door.

Sousuke's hand, reaching into his vest, removed a number of small lightweight glow sticks. Cracking them once, he lazily tossed them down the shaft. They hit the top of the elevator car with the faintest sound, illuminating it all with the dim green glow. "The elevator is right where it needs to be." Sousuke droned as he nodded to Mao and David. The man wasted no time attaching himself to his repelling gear.

Turning her head, Mao motioned silently for Kurz and Sousuke to head down first. And with little time at all, both male bodies crawled into the dark shaft and vanished, the sounds of their gear sliding against rope the only remnant of their presence.

Now it was Mao and David's turn. Ever watchful, the duo began attaching themselves to the ropes Sousuke and Kurz had left behind. And with a buckling "click" they were ready to go…Mao stepped into the elevator shaft first, slinging her weapon over her shoulder just in time to hear a faint beep coming from down the corridor ahead of them, the sound of a door opening. Mao's vision snapped to David "Shit, move!" Her head dropped below floor level as she descended swiftly into the shaft.

With a renewed vigor, David attached himself to the rope, jumping through the open elevator doors…Falling a number of meters, it was only the repelling gear on his waist that stopped him from becoming a red stain on the surface below. Swinging in the air, David planted his feet on the wall next to Mao, brining himself to a halt with a painful lurch downward. His G36C snapped toward the open door above him. Mao replied in kind, bringing her silenced weapon to bear. "We can't close the door, Mao." He muttered, voice half-muffled from his aiming stance.

"I know-I know." Melissa repeated back, her heart starting to race. Things were about to get a lot louder in a few seconds. "Maybe they won't notice." Even so, she motioned to Sousuke and Kurz below to start working on opening the top of the elevator car as quickly as they could.

David gave a small sigh, his eyes and weapon deadlocked on the door above…

Silence…The red lights from the corridor flashed white…

"…Shit…"

More silence…A head of a figure then peered over the edge. His eyes grew wide noticing the people dangling by ropes below him. But within seconds a bullet from David's weapon hissed upward, colliding with his large forehead and erupting out the back in a thick red mist of blood and flesh fragments. The body teetered and then fell forward through the open doors, falling passed David and Melissa before colliding in a heap behind Sousuke and Kurz. The loud crash of the body impacting metal echoed through the shaft and into the hallway.

There was a clamor of voices from above. A loud howling alarm rang out over all the floors. Their cover was blown. Time to go loud!

Mao cranked her head backward and her feet pushed off the metal wall. Her next words she had to shout over the sound of David's silenced carbine shooting upwards towards bodies that looked over the edge. "Everyone, move god damn it!"


David was the first to burst through the door onto of the lowest level of the Boreas Facility. His G36C rose, spitting fire in a short burst of bullets. Across the room a body fell and a gun clattered to the floor. Blood spattered over a white computer screen as bullets began to sail back and forth across the large open room packed with server equipment. Little lines of light darted from place to place, tracer fire. Sparks flew as projectiles dug into the metal sending shards of glass, metal, and plastic into the air violently…Sliding behind a server housing, David could hear the snaps of bullets passing by his head. He couldn't stop now. He was too close. Just beyond this room and following hallway was the chamber where Bethany was being held. David was too close to stop now.

Sousuke soon followed, his P90 giving short bursts as he too moved to cover on the opposite side door. And not long after, Kurz were in short order behind. Bullets started to hiss about the room like a swarm of angry wasps…Mao on the other hand, stood in the room they had just cleared. Her voice shouted into her neckpiece. "Our cover is blown! They know we are here! Requesting assistance from Urzu 1! I repeat, requesting assistance from Urzu 1!"

Something David couldn't understand was mumbled back, the sounds rushing by his ear drained out everything else…He then felt the tug of someone ripping him out of his cover. His gun dropped to the ground and skittered across the smooth metal floor. A large and muscular Collective soldier, decked out in a pitch black uniform pulled him off the ground, tossing him easily out from where he hid and back down hard onto the ground. David's head spun, his gear mostly cushioning him from any major injury. Looking up that Collective operator was soon above him, bringing the heel of a boot down into his gut.

"Ack!" David spat as the heel met its mark. With a few seconds to spare, he rolled away, narrowly avoiding the next stomp. David could still hear the vigorous firefight going on around him…Luckily, David had a number of dirty tricks up his sleeve.

The man came at him again…

Reaching to his chest, David unsheathed a black and silver colored combat knife from his vest…David took the oncoming hit, the man gripping at his vest and shoving him against the hard wall. Such a thing was David's intent. It was time to spring the trick. Now in close proximity, David shoved the knife up and under the man's chin, driving it hard into the roof of his mouth. And with his other free hand, David drew his sidearm, shoving it into the Collective Operator's gut and pulling the trigger once then twice then thrice…He clattered to the floor seconds later, David falling with him…

Still breathing heavily, David crawled across the floor toward his carbine, pulling it toward him by the stock before taking cover again behind a metal desk…

Mao ducked beneath the blanket of fire and made her way to where David once took cover. She slammed a new magazine into her weapon and readied it to fire. "Urzu 1 is on their way, let's finish this!"

Almost in unison, the team rose from cover, weapons shouldered and firing with deadly accuracy. It seemed that The Collective's soldiers had run out of steam. Their bodies started crumpling to the floor like ragdolls on Christmas…David let another short burst go from his G36C, the bullets it sent ripped into the body of the final man standing on the other side of the chamber. In a spray of red, the far wall was tinted a different color…It was over, for now…The base fell silent once again…

Rising up from where they crouched, the group reformed in the center of the room their boots crunching the pieces of broken debris beneath them.

Wasting little time, Mao started barking out orders, her hands signaled toward Sousuke and Kurz. "Cover the door; I don't think that's the last of them. We need to be waiting for them once they get back. Once we grab Seraphim we are moving out of this place towards Puppet Master and we are getting the hell out of here! Kurz, Sousuke, prepare a welcoming party for any guests that decide to show up."

"Yes, ma'am!" They shouted in return, quickly getting to work clearing out an area in which to hold.

Mao the turned to David and motioned toward the door. "Come on, David." She said, her voice immediately changing to an almost motherly tone. "Let's do what we came for. I figured you'd want to come with me for this."

"R-Right." David murmured, trying to hold back the nervousness he held in him. "Let's go."

Leaving Sousuke and Kurz behind, Mao and David opened up the next door, revealing another sterile corridor, short in length leading up to their final objective. Mao glanced to David again as they walked, her emotions coming through in the brief period of peace they had to enjoy. "Have you thought of what you want to say to her, David?" Mao said quietly, a content grin on her face.

"W-What?" David stammered, blinking in surprise.

"How long has it been since you two have seen one another?" Mao smirked a little brighter, as their short jaunt brought in front of the final metal door they had to open. She could see the distressed look on David's face at her remark. "I wouldn't worry too much about it, David. If what Tessa said about you two is true. I don't think words will need to be said."

"Y-Yeah…" David coughed; his serious expression fading. "…Yeah, you're right, Melissa." He stared blankly at the control panel in front of him. His hand slowly started to rise, shivering, just able to the press the button that opened the door with a metallic hiss…

The door slowly drew open…

What stood before Mao and David was a disturbing sight. This room, the room where Bethany Reed was being held had stark differences from the rest of the base. Its walls were painted a deep blue, highlighted with ribbons of hot pink paint that gave it the feel of an actual room in an actual house. There was a soft bed tucked away in the corner, just big enough for one small person. The covers had been ripped off by someone, like a child having a nightmare had kicked it off in a fit of fear. And in the other corner was a wooden art stand all set up with a half done painting pinned to it. The painting was that of a man, a young man with a blue baseball cap. David breath seemed to be sucked from his chest. His weapon fell from his fingertips and onto the ground in a clatter. Mao was left speechless as her eyes continued to scan the room…All of it was too much, the hardwood flooring with a piece of green fluffy carpet, the stuffed animals stashed away in the corner, and the note pages flung out across the room. Mao was nearly brought to tears at the site of a small table in the center, complete with two chairs, one smaller one large. On this table was a scientist's notebook and a tray of half eaten food…The Collective had no plans of letting Bethany see the light of day ever again…

David's body stepped forward, his mouth hanging slightly open as his mind took in this strange place. Such stark contrast it was from the rest of the base it made him sick to his stomach. Lord only knew what kind of things Bethany had to go through in this place…Still, the heavy air was silent. No more sounds of gunshots rang out through the base. It was as if time itself had stopped.

Mao faltered a bit where she stood. Lifting her free hand to her mouth she bit her knuckle, her mind also racing with what kind of things might have happened in such a place.

There was a small muffled whimper, and the shuffling of a blanket which briefly broke the tense silence…

David's eyes immediately snapped to the small space between the tiny bed and the wall. Without any thought his feet carried him toward the noise.

Mao could only stand and watch. In her earpiece she heard the faint burst of static and Tessa's voice on the other end.

"Melissa?" Tessa's whispered through headset, the tenseness in her voice clearly evident even through the radio.

Mao couldn't respond…not yet…She pressed the rubber button on her neckpiece but said nothing in return…

Placing one foot in front of the other, David Reed reached the edge of the bed. If he took one more step, he hoped that he would find what he had been searching for all this time. He hope that he could find his reward for all of his sacrifices he made up until this point…After a tense pause and with every muscle in his body twitching with a whirlwind of anxiety, David Reed peered around the bed…And was greeted by two beaming brown eyes gazing longingly back at him…

David fell to his knees and his mouth blurted words through the tears and sobs that started streaming from red face. "B-Bethany?!"

The small girl who had been hiding behind the bed rose up. Dropping the covers she held tightly around her shoulders she stumbled forward, legs wobbling and arms rising up, tiny fingers grasping in David's direction. Her face turned deep red, face twisting as she cried out his name in return. "David!" Bethany Reed fell forward into David's arms. Her white nightdress fluttered around her ankles as she landed face first into his soft chest. Each tiny finger of her's grasped into his black sweater, unable and unwanting to let go. "D-David! Brother!" She cried again.

David's arms quickly wrapped around the skinny body of his little sister. His hands and fingers pulled her gently into his own body in a loving embrace, one had hadn't felt in the longest time. In an effort to comfort Bethany, David ran his hand across the back of her head, his fingers combing through her tangled brown mass of hair. Tears rolled off David's cheeks but his face curled into the brightest smile Mao had ever witnessed. As much as he wanted to, David Reed could utter no other word than her name. "…B-Beth…" He mumbled repeatedly through his sobs of joy.

"I-I knew y-y-you would find m-me!" Bethany stammered, rolling her face back and forth into David's chest, wiping away her tears into the softness of his sweater. "I k-knew you w-w-would!"

It was only now that David could complete a sentence. "I missed you so much, Bethany!" He sputtered in a failed attempt at a laugh. The grin on his face grew ever wider. "…I'm here to take you home now…"

Beth pushed her face into David's chest once again. "I missed you too, brother!" She wailed, her voice muffled as her arms wrapped around her older brother ever tighter.

Fighting back tears of her own, Melissa Mao finally replied back to Tessa Testarossa back on the TDD-1. "This is Urzu 2, Seraphim is secure…Let's get her home…"


A/N:

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for reading Part I of Flight of the Seraphim, the finale to Act II of The Long Road Ahead. A lot of things have happened up to this point and a lot more has yet to be resolved, but I hope you can take joy in thinking that something has been accomplished after all this time. David has finally been reunited with his little sister. All of his work, all of his sacrifices have seemed to have paid off…

But we aren't done yet, The Puppet Master still has to be dealt with and The Collective is by no means defeated…

So stay in your seats, strap in, and prepare yourself for the stunning convulsion of Act II of The Long Road Ahead!

As we move to the end of Act II and towards the start of the final act, Act III. I want to take this time to thank every reader that has stuck by me through this. I know I'm not the best person around, the greatest writer, or even that dependable…But it really means a lot to me that you all have put up with me for so long…So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Please, leave a review and tell me what you think! Share this story with your friends if you feel like it deserves it. I love each and every follow, favorite, alert, and review I get.

Thanks so much,

Mr-Watch


P.S – PM me if you find an error, I'll fix it ASAP!