The warehouse appeared empty. Sure, there were cargo containers lying around, but otherwise only shadows filled the facility. That would have been a reassuring thought if shadows didn’t occasionally try to murder me and my partner.
11:48 and no signs of anything on the ground level by the containers we were paid us so generously to patrol. Didn’t know what they were… probably didn’t want to know. When you’re outfitted with this many explosives, it means the cargo’s worth more than your life insurance payout. I’d rather not think about it, so Alvarez and I just shoot the shit over comm.
“Quiet down here”
“You expect shipping containers make good conversationalists?”
“Just saying it’s quiet. Usually that’s good.”
“It’s only good if there’s nothing out there going out of its way to be quiet.”
“Don’t remind me, that shit at the museum still…”
Something was there. A glimmer, just for a second, on the second level.
I opened channel seven again. “Hey man, think we got something on two.” A pause. “Where are you? Alvarez?”
No response. Jesus.
The unsettling silence was broken by a sudden, shattering blast. It must have lasted a fraction of a second, but the echoes ricocheted off dozens of containers, bouncing everywhere and amplifying the terrible sound. It was deafening, but I was already in motion, shaking off the shock, shimmying up the main ladder to the second floor. They haven’t gotten me yet. They’re not gonna get me tonight, either.
When I found the bodies, I can’t say I was surprised. At one end of the corridor was Alvarez… looked like he was unconscious, probably gassed. Wouldn’t be the first time. The other one, what was left of it anyway, was one of them, those ex-black ops spy types. Based on how badly the body was charred, I had to guess he didn’t see the trip mine we had placed near the vents we know those fuckers like to hide in.
I’ll never understand why they love vents so goddamn much.
The spy’s corpse was pretty typical. No insignias. No dogtags. Just another skintight suit, a bunch of gadgets… those stupid goggles they’re always wearing. Guess I’ll just drag Alvarez to Medical, call the client and get body disposal down here.
At least, that was my plan right before the other one grabbed me from behind.
“Got any last words, merc?” His voice slithered into my ear. I flailed for my weapon… any weapon… but I could barely breathe with his forearm digging into my throat.
“I don’t care about this cargo,” I managed to stammer out. “I’m just a hired gun… take it.”
“That’s not what I want,” he hissed as I gasped for breath.
“Then… then what… what do you want?”
Stabbing pain. He wrenched my head back, and all I could see was his soulless mask of a face. His fucking nightvision gear grinding into the ridge of my nose. I could feel his cold breath. In one smooth motion, he flipped up his goggles, his sharp eyes faintly shining in what was otherwise absolute darkness.
“I WANT TO FUCK YOUR MOM, FAGGOT! LOLOLOLOL!!! EAT A DICK, MERC!”
And as my mind reeled and my rage swelled, his fingers clenched my jaw and twisted with incredible force, shattering my neck.
My hands slipped from the mouse and keyboard. The voice channel crackled. It was Alvarez.
“Fucking spies, man. Every time. And why do they always have to be such assholes about it?”
I sighed. “That’s just how it is. Ready to show them up?”
“That’s funny. I’m always ready.”
It was a quarter to midnight. Alvarez crouched next to me, his goggles flickering through infrared, ultraviolet, EMV. It was going to be a productive night: just us, the warhead intel, and a couple dumb gun jockeys to take down.
“Which way should we go?” Alvarez whispered.
“Let’s take the vents.”