OK, so maybe ‘balls’ wasn’t the word that was actually running though my mind at the time, it was a rather more colourful one accompanied by an impending sense of my life spiralling back out of control as I stood at my mother’s front door. Balls will do for this retelling though.
It’s not going to make any sense if I start at in the middle though. I don’t want this to be one of those Americanised stories where they have to start with the exciting bit at the end to get the audience to watch in the first place. So… America. Damn, I need another drink, pour me a scotch will you?
America. I told you about getting the cookbook and being sent back to give the facility where it was “in use” a good poking, didn’t I? We’d been unlucky enough to stumble across a patrol and ended up in a firefight. I was lucky enough to be able to bluff their radio contact into thinking that nothing was wrong.
What came next was the general sort of messy 80s style spy craft that Dimitri likes so much. Uniforms taken from dead bodies, a nasty mess made with the insides of dead patrol dogs, tracking their footprints back to their vehicle and making out we were their men having just been savaged by a bear.
Yes, I poured blood out of a dead dog over myself. Give me another finger of that scotch.
Four of us, about twice as many of them, and a few snipers on the roof. Great position to be in, but we had the element of surprise and had them worried by some panicked screaming over the radio — maybe I should go on stage, the pay’s not so hot, but I could still travel and at least the blood is artificial — but I digress.
We had the element of surprise, and we’re rather better trained then the typical soldier, not to mention that modifications — no, better not get ahead of myself — so it after about a minute or two we had got past the main entrance and dealt with another round of guards. There were a couple of moments when things looked tight, not least when I was reeling from a bullet and they decided to zipcuff me. Don’t bother trying to use those things on someone who is trained if you aren’t going to put them on properly. They left me with plenty of leverage to snap them with.
Where was I? Oh yes, tight moments. The balance was tipped in our favour by a bullet or two from Adolf.
Adolf… again, I get ahead of myself. This is the problem with this life, everything turns into tangled webs of other people’s agendas. It makes finding answers difficult. At the time we just had a couple of bullets kill our opponents that we couldn’t account for in the heat of battle.
A battle we came out of intact and with a prisoner.
At that point we noticed that there seemed to be an evacuation underway. The possibility of a scorched earth policy had occurred to us, so we figured we had a couple of minutes at best before they blew the facility sky high. We split up.
Luchenko and Mellor headed for one wing, while Nina and I took the other.
She and I grabbed as much in the way of materials and data as we could. Slides out of microscopes, disks out of RAID arrays, the usual stuff. Then we heard the sound of approaching planes and pegged it out of there at top speed.
The others had stolen a truck on their way out and we rendezvoused an hour or so later. We laid low for four or five days, travelling across country on foot to avoid creating a large heat signature before arranging a pickup and transport back to Canada with HOST.
On that flight we were finally able to take a look at the data. We’d recovered. I set to work seeing what I could recover from the hard disks while the Ruskie shared his holiday snaps. He and Tommy had had an interesting time in lab and had some pictures of some very familiar children.
I’d been thinking about having a “So, are you a generically engineered superfreak?” conversion with Nina for some time, but it was a difficult subject to bring up. The photos of six year old versions of her and her sister, among others, floating in jars made that conversation rather easier — especially once you combine it with what we already knew about The Cookbook having something to do with genetics, and with the numbered tattoos that Nina and her sister shared.
The disks were disappointing in how little they showed and shocking in the content of what I was able to extract. First up was conformation of the people involved in the the experimentation. There was a nice list of subjects, a list that matched quite closely to the people who appeared in a certain wedding photograph. The only person who appeared in the picture but not the files was me, and I was off to one side with Dimitri who the files marked as being part of “Phase 3” while the others were “Phase 4”. The subjects who had just been blown up were marked as “Phase 6” and had identification numbers … young Nina and Anna had numbers that matched the tattoos of their counterparts.
The only other information of interest I was able to retrieve was a kill order targeting Marcus Kade Senior.
No, I didn’t think that would shock you. My glass is empty again, top her up will you?
So, private plane lands back in Canada and we transfer to a commercial flight for the trip back to Hong Kong. Operating out of Chinese territory simplifies matters rather a lot when you don’t want to attract the attention of the British. I still can’t quite believe I was driven to go rogue by bureaucracy.
A familiar face caught my eye as we approached the departure lounge. Mr. nondescript-except-for-a-scar-across-his-eye from the wedding. He tipped me the nod for a dead drop and walked away. It was a simple note, one which directed us towards Area 51 if we wanted more answers.
Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to pack it in, and go and camp out at Dreamland pretending to be a UFO nut and selling cheap tat to gullible tourists.
It would be a couple of days before anything else happened of note. We did get a bit of information out of HOST. Our mysterious scarred man was Adolf Lupus, American born, joined the US army at 16, “died” four years later, still walking about today. He was ideal black ops fodder, no real connections to sever and with the military being the first real “family” he had.
The other bit of information we got was the name of the man who issued the kill order I’d found mention of on the hard disk. James Phoenix.
… What do you mean, “not enough sex”? Death, destruction, betrayal, science-fiction levels of eugenics and the name of the man who ordered the death of the the great, late Marcus Kade don’t do it for you? Fine, I pulled an air hostess on the way home. Happy now?
Now my throat is dry, open the next bottle and I’ll tell you what happened a couple of days later.