Outer Heaven, 2001
“Snake!” Big Boss snarled. The one-eyed man reached into his coat, and it was only instinct that saved Solid Snake’s life. He dived behind a set of cargo crates as Big Boss riddled the metal with bullets, fired rapidly from an submachine gun. Snake winced as they ricocheted near his face, scrambling desperately for cover.
“You just had to play the hero, didn’t you?” Big Boss called out, frustration in his voice. “Do you have any idea how much effort went into Outer Heaven, Snake!? How much money I had to carefully funnel away for a full decade, the recruiting of mercenary companies!? The smuggling of nuclear material!? All of it ruined because you wouldn’t follow your orders!”
“Playing both sides, huh Boss!?” Snake called, wincing as he pulled his AK-47 around on its strap, squeezing his weakened right hand around the grip. “You sent me and Riley in for what? To make it look like you were doing something while you prepared to unleash a third world war? When did you go completely fucking nuts!?”
Another hail of bullets answered Snake, and with a curse, he scrambled over for cover. Big Boss’ harsh voice reached him. “The system, Snake. The system has to be destroyed. We all dance to their tune, our lives guided by a little cabal of selfish, arrogant fools like that pathetic Watcher’s Council. They pulled my strings, and now they pull yours. I sent you in here to relay false information back, I didn’t want to have to kill you, Snake! But you were too damned good! I thought Vamp would be able to take care of you, but it seems I was wrong.”
Snake couldn’t help but smirk. “Never did like bloodsuckers.”
Big Boss laughed shortly. “No, I suppose not. It’s too bad it has to end like this, Snake, but you’ve left me no choice.” There was a click, and Snake’s eyes widened as a grenade bounced over to him. Reacting quickly, he picked it up and threw it over to the far wall, covering his ears as it exploded. The cargo crate shielded him from the shrapnel, but the sound was deafening.
Rolling out from his cover, AK at the ready, he unleashed the deadly hail of bullets at the man who had been his mentor. Big Boss held himself behind cover, the one-eyed man being exceptionally careful not to expose himself. While Big Boss was kept pinned down for the moment, Snake ran behind another set of cargo crates. Spotting a cargo elevator, he managed a tight smile as he made his way over to the control panel, and quickly slapped it.
There was a rumble as it began to rise under his feet. Big Boss ran up quickly and climbed onto it before it could escape his reach. Snake rose his machine gun, but Big Boss slapped it out of his hand, the trusty weapon clattering on the ground far below. The pair grappled, with the one-eyed man trying to maneuver the submachine gun in his hand into position. Snake managed to get a grip on it, and his youthful strength won out as he managed to toss it off the ascending elevator.
What came next was simple, pure combat. The young FOX-HOUND agent’s blows were countered by the sheer experience of Big Boss, but Snake’s youthful stamina and sheer determination were slowly wearing the older man down as they traded blows. Big Boss made a chop at Snake’s throat, but Snake caught the arm and flipped the one-eyed man to the floor. With a vicious kick from that position, Big Boss struck Snake’s knee, forcing the young man off-balance with a grunt.
Rolling to his feet, Big Boss moved into a low, guarded position, his single blue eye gleaming with anger, and strangely, pride. He moved quickly forward, his fists coming in a hard, painful series of strikes, which Snake only barely managed to turn aside. All of his skill, his training, clicked together in that moment. Snake saw an opening, and when Big Boss made a strike toward Snake’s chest, Snake grabbed the limb and rolled backward, thrusting his foot against Big Boss’ chest, throwing the one-eyed man over his head.
As a result, the old man went over the edge of the ascending elevator, and with a shriek he plummeted. Snake lay there on his back, taking deep, exhausted breaths. The rumbling of the cargo elevator was his only companion as it headed for the surface, bringing him toward his freedom.
Area 51, 2006
“Any ideas?” Jack asked, twiddling his thumbs as he looked out of the cell’s small window.
Sam shook her head. “Not yet. This isn’t exactly an easy cell to get out of, sir.” She turned to Samuels. “Alright, how can we stop the launch?”
Samuels rubbed his eyes, exhaustion catching up with him. “There are three passwords needed to unlock the PAL, so we can launch the warhead. I have one, the DARPA Chief has one, and President Baker has one. Psycho Mantis got mine, he ripped it out of my mind. It’s only a matter of time before they get the other two, if they don’t have it already.”
Jack frowned. “Lovely. Any idea where they are?”
Samuels shook his head. “Baker, he was in the next cell, but you’re too late. They moved him out of these cells a while back.”
“And the DARPA Chief?” Jack asked, rubbing his hands together.
As if to answer, there was a long, drawn-out scream that echoed from down the hall. Samuels rose an eyebrow. “That answer your question, Jack?”
Hesitantly, Daniel rose his head when the gunfire ceased. Above him floated an anorexic man, his breath rasping through the gas mask that covered his face. Psycho Mantis. From his position on the ground, General Hammond pulled out his sidearm and fired at the powerful psychic. It was a futile effort, the bullets seemed to weave away from him as they approached.
With a gesture, Hammond’s pistol was torn from his grasp, and then the portly general himself was flung through the air, away from it. He struck his head on a rock, and he lay limp.
“No!” Daniel cried, drawing his own gun. Mantis made another gesture with his hand, and Daniel found himself seized, not a single muscle responding to his commands. The psychic floated closer, interest in his eyes.
“Very interesting. Such an immense talent buried within you. You have suffered much in your life, Daniel Jackson. Your parents taken from you before your eyes, the loss of your career due to the ridicule of your colleagues, and your beloved stolen from you by the Goa’uld. It’s a wonder you have not manifested your true potential.” Mantis spoke, his breath hissing within the gas mask.
Daniel struggled against the force of Mantis’ mind. The mask itself was expressionless, but Daniel got the sense that Mantis was frowning. “Your future, it’s...very strange.” Pain suddenly flared in Mantis’ eyes, and Daniel found he could move again. Raising his pistol quickly, he fired off a quick three-round burst. Unfortunately, Mantis recovered just in time, and the bullets flattened themselves against an invisible wall less than an inch from his chest.
“Not very wise, Mister Jackson.” The psychic hissed. Daniel let out a scream of pain as the music seemed to grow intensely louder inside his head, the echoing melody pounding at the inside of his skull. It felt as if his brains were about to leak out of his ears.
Suddenly the pressure eased, and Mantis let out a howl of agonizing pain. “It’s too much!” He screamed, his hands clawing at his covered face, his floating body speeding back away from Daniel. “Your future, it’s too much! How can you attain it, how!?”
Not questioning his luck, Daniel ran forward, a perfect football tackle slamming his full weight into Mantis’ body. The thin psychic couldn’t resist the momentum, and he fell to the ground with only the barest amount of resistance. He continued to writhe in pain, holding his head as the psychic backlash of peering into Daniel’s future ripped through him.
With a wail of pain and rage, Psycho Mantis floated high into the air, flying back toward the base. Daniel drew his pistol and shot at him, but it was fruitless, the psychic’s speed was too high for him to hit. He put the weapon away, and turned back, taking on a new task as quickly as he could. To tend to the wounded.
“How goes the progress?” Liquid Snake asked from the command center, his fingers deftly manipulating the keyboards in front of him.
Ocleot’s gravely voice came over the radio. “The team heading for Metal Gear’s captured, as you know. Wolf tagged one in the head, a nice job as usual. Raven’s boxed in the group at the communications tower, he’ll be finished shortly. Mantis is decimating their base camp, and I’ve got Baker stowed away in the armory. Something’s wrong with the team at the lab, they haven’t checked in. I’ve sent another team to investigate.”
Liquid snorted. “Don’t bother. The hostages aren’t important and they’ll tie down their rescue team for the moment. Send the team in to cage them in, we can execute them later. In the meantime, we’ve got another problem.” His eyes flicked to the closed-circuit camera system, zooming in on the young man with the blue bandana. “Tell Raven to finish off the group at the communications tower. I’m going to make a little phone call to the White House.”
Otacon unplugged the stealth unit as soon as it reached 80% charge. He could hear the guards stepping closer to his position with every passing minute, and knew he wouldn’t be safe for much longer. Clipping it to his chest again, he thumbed the switch and vanished from sight, or at least casual inspection. Keeping as quiet as he could, he slowly walked down the hall, his heart pounding in his chest as he passed some of the patrolling guards.
It was painfully slow going, but he eventually managed to get outside again, the hot desert sun high overhead. With care, he moved slowly as he made his way toward the research lab, doing his best to keep out of direct sunlight along the way. He knew he wasn’t a hero, he just didn’t have it in him to fight the way the soldiers did. But he did have it in him to help soldiers do their jobs better, and that was his only chance now.
Once he was inside the building, he made his way back down to his wife’s lab, which was a floor below where the terrorists were keeping the hostages. Hurrying his pace now, he went over to the storage locker where they were keeping the Codec systems in preparation for field-testing. Now seemed like a good time to try it out.
The Codec was simple in theory, but difficult to make in practice. The basic idea was to have a radio system that was small enough to fit deep within someone’s ear, pressing directly against the small bones of the ear. For years scientists had tried to miniaturize a radio speaker to fit within, but once installed the devices would be irremovable and prone to infection, which is why the designs had stalled. It took his wife to finally figure out a way to mass-produce a system that would work for everyone and be safe from infection. An injection of nanomachines would migrate up to the small bones of the ear and set themselves up as a tiny radio transmitter and receiver. They could run off the small electrical impulses the human body produced naturally, and there was no simple way to tell if someone had a Codec installed or not. You’d need an X-ray, at the very least. In case of malfunction, the nanomachines would automatically break themselves down and be cycled out through the bloodstream.
Steeling himself, Otacon picked up the first needle and stuck it carefully into his arm. With a wince, he pressed the plunger, feeling the cool nanomachines flood his veins. It would take them about half an hour to set up properly, and he intended to use that time wisely.
Teal’c was a hardened warrior. One had to be, to rise to the rank of First Prime of Apophis. Though Apophis was just another snake living inside a human host, the parasite appreciated his servants to be capable and cunning warriors. Bra’tac, the former First Prime before Teal’c, had trained him in every art of combat he knew. Ranging from hand-to-hand combat, to directing and commanding entire armies, and even ways to stay fully alert and prepared for days on end if needed.
Thus when he awoke, the first thing he did was keep himself still, continuing the slow, relaxed breaths of someone who was still unconscious. Keeping his eyes closed, he listened carefully, taking in his surroundings as best he could. There was someone else in the cell with him, someone doing exercises if the sound of her strenuous breathing was any indication. He doubted she would be doing something else strenuous, considering the situation. Although, he wasn’t entirely sure of that. Humans were very weird, the humans of Earth especially so.
Opening his eyes, he was greeted by a featureless gray ceiling. Slowly sitting up, he saw the source of the noise. A fit and toned redheaded woman was doing push-ups, shifting her position every twenty reps. He took a moment to admire her form. She was young, but he had learned among the Tau’ri that even their youths made great warriors, good enough to rival any Jaffa, given training and determination.
She paused and looked up at him, then got to her feet. She made a wry smile. “Sorry, I needed to pass the time. You were out for quite a while. I’m Meryl.”
He nodded solemnly. “I am Teal’c. Do you know what has happened to my friends?”
She shook her head. “Not a clue. They tossed me in here when I wouldn’t join up with their little rebellion.” She laughed bitterly. “I shouldn’t even be here. My unit got called in to resupply some of the troops that went missing. Guess I know why, now.” She looked at him, curiosity in her eyes. “So, uh...what’s with the brand?”
Teal’c touched the gold mark on his forehead that indicated his former status. “It is a mark of servitude and slavery.”
“Harsh. Anyway, been trying to figure a way out of here, but so far I haven’t had any luck. Maybe we can come up with something?” Meryl spoke, somewhat nervously.
He nodded, rising to his feet. He towered over Meryl, but to her credit, she didn’t step away from him. Moving over to the cell door, he carefully examined it, touching the keyhole. With a small smile, he looked to Meryl. “I will require a hard object, preferably steel at the least. This cell will not hold us for much longer.”
“Yo, boytoy! Come on over here, this is going to blow your mind!” Faith’s voice reached Snake from across the room. SG teams two and four had been gently moving the hostages into one of the smaller labs. It would be somewhat cramped, but it was away from the scene of the massacre, the perpetrator of which was still unknown.
Grumbling somewhat, Snake rose to his feet and strode over, carefully stepping over a puddle of blood. Reaching the smirking Faith, he stopped dead at what he saw.
Willow looked up from her wrists, which were red and raw from the duct tape that had been none-too-gently torn off. “Xander?” Her eyes brightened. “Xander! Omigoditsyouandyou’rehereandFaithtooandeverythinghappenedsoquicklyandtheseguyswerethreateningusand-”
He couldn’t help it, he smiled. “Willow, calm down. Take a deep breath. The bad guys are taken out for the moment, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve still got quite a bit to do, and not much time to do it. I’m going to need you, slowly and calmly, to tell us anything you might have heard.”
She nodded quickly, swallowing and taking a breath. “These guys seized all the scientists and locked us in here. They’re going to use Hal’s project, I don’t know what the target is, but whatever they’ll shoot it at, it’ll be destroyed. The payload on this warhead’s huge.”
Snake nodded. “Fine. Any idea where the VIPs are? The DARPA Chief and President Baker are up there on our priority list, now that you’re all safe.”
Willow shook her head. “Sorry, it’s a bit hard to figure much out when you’re tied up and blindfolded and not in bed and...” She trailed off and blushed. “Um, nevermind.”
Faith grinned. “Feisty one, eh Wills? Why didn’t you just mojo your way out? Last I heard you were a kickass powerful witch.”
Willow’s whole stance slumped, her face filling with misery. “I can’t do magic anymore. I don’t want to talk about it, I just-” She took a deep, shuddering breath, her face filled with shame. “I just can’t.”
“Fine. We’ll do this the hard way.” Snake replied. “Keep your head down, Willow. We’ll call you if we need to.” He went to move back over to Makepeace, but her voice stopped him.
“Wait!” She called. Turning, Snake rose an eyebrow. She sighed and wrung her hands. “You’ll have to find Hal if you want to try to take Metal Gear. He managed to sneak out of here a while back, I’m not sure how long.”
“Hal?” Faith asked.
Willow nodded quickly. “Hal Emmerich, Metal Gear’s chief designer and engineer.” She smiled softly, embarrassed as she raised her hand, showing her ring. “And my husband.”
“Good morning, Mister President. I do hope you’re enjoying the bright and sunny weather over there in Washington. I should hope so, at any rate.”
Liquid’s cultured voice came over the speakerphone, filling the conference room. President George Sears gripped the heavy oak table, grimacing at his position. Jim Houseman, the Secretary of Defense, looked at him with concern. The generals lining the room were expressionless, but to George’s trained eye, they looked very nervous indeed.
“Cut to the chase, Liquid. You’re not the type to play games for the sake of it.” George spoke, his blue eyes cold and hard.
A cold chuckle echoed. “I suppose I can forgive you for being a little uptight, considering the situation. Very well, since you’re so eager to skip the pleasantries, I will. You failed. Your strike teams have been neutralized, and I am still in command of the base. You now have six hours to deliver us the specimens and the money. Be grateful I did not decide to simply wipe out Los Angeles. Although if I did, I’m not sure anybody would notice the difference.”
George ground his teeth. “We can’t get the specimens there in that length of time. The closest laboratory that carries a sample is in Cleveland.”
Liquid’s voice carried a smug tone. “You should have thought of that before sending in teams instead of responding to our demands. They’re not entirely unreasonable, considering how your government has treated us for the last twenty years. If you’re that desperate to get the samples here within the deadline, I suggest you use all the resources at your disposal. Nothing quite like a tight deadline to bring out a little competence in the bureaucracy. However little that may be.”
The President rubbed his eyes, looking very tired indeed. “We’ll call you back.” “Do that. And give Colonel Campbell my regards.”
The signal dropped, and the faint sound of static came over the line before it was cut off.
Jim looked at his boss, cold anger radiating from his features. “The nerve of that yellow-toothed bastard. He should have been left in that Iraq prison for the rest of his life.”
George sighed, tapping his fingernail on the table. “Right now, Jim, I’m inclined to agree with you.” He bit his lip and turned, his presence becoming more commanding. “Options, people. What do you see?”
General Landry spoke quietly. “The base has powerful AA artillery. We couldn’t get a bomber near enough to destroy Metal Gear’s hangar. Worst case scenario, we nuke it, start from scratch. It’s not something I’d like to do, but we can’t let them launch that warhead. We’ve got enough problems as it is, a nuclear war is the last thing we could want.”
Jim shook his head. “Metal Gear is designed to defend itself against the Goa’uld Death Gliders, even if they’re coming in at hypersonic speeds from orbit. Detecting and shooting down an ICBM is child’s play in comparison.” He frowned as he considered. “I suggest we send in Colonel Campbell, he knows more about the FOX-HOUND unit than anybody, even if he’s been retired for the last few years.”
George nodded grimly, folding his hands together. “Do it. As for the nuclear option....prepare as many missiles as it’d take to make the strike. We could explain an explosion in our territory a lot more comfortably than one of our weapons going off in someone else’s. Though the repercussions of that will be bad enough as it is.”
Colonel Makepeace grimaced as he quickly pounded out commands on the keyboard. The supercomputers in Area 51's laboratories were the state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line models which were capable of running through almost any simulated scenario you could think of. Buried deep within the mainframe, however, was the NID’s Area 51 files, which only a select few people on the face of the Earth could access. It was hidden within one of the many hard drives, hidden from the rest of the computer and oversight alike, the only access available through a carefully concealed and password protected access. If the wrong pass was entered, it would automatically fry the contents of the spare internal hard drive on which the files were stored.
What was angering him right now was that somehow, someone had compromised it. From the last time of recorded access, it had been opened and copied onto another medium, and from the records it looked like a DVD image. Other files had been copied as well, the R&D files for energy weapons, schematics for the X-301, and proposed X-302 and 303 projects. Maybourne was going to be pissed off when he found out.
The list of suspects was rather short. The files had been accessed twelve hours ago, so it was after the FOX-HOUND members had taken over the base, but before they officially turned terrorist. Thus while it was possible a researcher had stumbled across it and gathered dirt, as unlikely as that was with the security measures, more likely one of the FOX-HOUND members copied it because he knew exactly where to look. Unfortunately, Makepeace had no idea which one of the six would know.
Quickly shutting down the computer, he gathered his thoughts. The SGC’s troops were outnumbered and outgunned at the moment, and from the lack of radio activity, it seemed his team was the only one alive or uncaptured right now. Nodding to himself, he called out. “Alright people, gather up!”
Snake, Faith, and the rest of SG-2 and SG-4 gathered around him. Looking each of them in the eye, Makepeace spoke quietly. “I won’t lie to you, any of you. We’re in deep shit right now. The other teams haven’t checked in, so right now we’re the only ones who have a chance at stopping Metal Gear. We’ll have to move fast. Forget about taking the communications tower, we’ll move around it to reach the hangar. Our priority is to safeguard the hostages and take out that nuclear nightmare. SG-4, you’ll take care of the hostages. Make sure they’re not hurt, and keep them safe. SG-2, we’ll head on out. We haven’t any choice, so I’m going to need all of you to keep your heads down and move fast.”
Five minutes later, Snake moved at the head of the group, holding his rifle carefully. He could feel it, sheer nervousness running down his muscles as they moved around the outskirts of the base. The situation felt all wrong, and he had the sense he was being watched. As they carefully walked out a door, into an open, sandy field at the base of the communications tower, his instincts went into overdrive.
A loud rumbling confirmed his paranoia as an M1 tank rolled out from around the corner of the tower. The main gun swung in their direction. He dove to the side, screaming at the top of his lungs. “Fall back, fall back!” Their training automatically took over, and Faith and the rest of SG-2 ran back into the building. A second later, the gun went off, launching a shell forward at extreme velocity. The sound was beyond noise as it struck the building, and Snake was deafened as the entrance shattered under the sheer explosive power of the round.
Looking up fearfully from his position on the ground, the gun slowly lowered to point directly at him. With his instinct flaring again, he rolled to the side, grabbing a grenade off his belt and threw it forward. His quick aim was true, and almost miraculous as it went up the barrel of the gun. A moment later, it exploded, rocking the tank, a trail of smoke coming from the top.
His ears were ringing. He climbed to his feet, grimacing as the tank’s hatch opened and an absolutely huge man climbed out the top, coughing hard from the smoke in his lungs. He had to be at least eight feet tall and heavily muscled, his dark skin covered with the tattoos of ravens. Vulcan Raven.
The huge man snarled. “Not bad, Snake! For one who crawls on the ground, you fight well.” Sliding himself back into the tank and sealing the hatch, the huge man’s voice echoed through a speaker. “Come, let’s fight!”
Snake ran forward, toward the tank. The machine moved very quickly compared to the lone man, however he knew that in close quarters, he would be more maneuverable. As long as he got close enough that the side guns would have trouble drawing a bead on him, in any case. With a rumbling roar, the tank backed away from Snake, turning the head toward him, trying to line up the main gun. Quickly reversing his approach, he came alongside the tank as the main gun let out its burst of fire, the shell destroying a concrete wall. A hideous grinding noise issued from the base of the gun, a testament to the damage the previous grenade caused.
Pulling a grenade, he mechanically pulled the pin and threw the deadly egg into the tank’s path as the machine tried to turn toward him, the driver clearly intending to crush him under the treads. With a muffled explosion, the grenade heavily damaged the treads, and the machine ground hot sand between its gears. A roar of rage came over the speaker, and Snake took the opportunity to jump on top of the grinding, damaged machine. Knowing the hatch was sealed from the inside, he readied another grenade.
The seconds ticked by quickly. The tank’s head turned, trying to dislodge him from the top, but he held fast. Finally, he dropped the grenade in front of the tank’s intact tread, and with another muffled explosion, the war machine was held fast in place. Rolling off the tank’s head, he pulled his last grenade, and as the head turned toward him once more, he threw it down the barrel of the main gun. Acting on instinct, he ran away quickly, and the last muffled explosion reached his ringing ears as the grenade went off. A large streak of smoke rose into the air from the tank, and the machine’s grinding engine slowly died.
Taking a deep breath, he strode away from the tank, gasping for breath. He touched his radio, and frowned. Taking it off his belt, he grimaced. A piece of shrapnel had neatly destroyed the device. In a way, he was lucky. If it hadn’t struck his radio, it would have sliced deeply into his back.
He strode into the communications tower, his other options cut off. Hopefully he would find a way to either rejoin the team or get to Metal Gear’s hangar on his own.
A minute after he left, Vulcan Raven slowly climbed out of the destroyed tank. With a grimace, he took out his radio. “Well boss, I hope you are happy. He’s in the tower.” “We’ll play with him a little longer.”
Liquid’s cultured voice came over the radio.
“You would be wise not to underestimate him.” Raven spoke, letting out a long, labored cough as he tried to expel the smoke from his lungs. “What did you think of him?”
“He is just as you said. In battle, he is as if possessed by a demon. Much like you. I would expect no less.”
Liquid snorted. “Considering his reputation, I’m not surprised. However, we control the situation here. There’s only one way he can go, and he won’t be able to respond to the next challenge. Did you at least manage to get the team he was with?”
“I would be surprised if they survived, boss. Best to send a team to make sure, for I cannot reach them from here.” Raven replied. “We’ll deal with that, then. I think it’s time I had a little chat with Colonel Jack O’Neill.”
In case you’re wondering, the grenades went off inside the barrel, not inside the tank itself. The damage was enough to take the tank out of commission, but not enough to actually kill the driver or gunners. Wouldn’t be pleasant, though.
That’s it for now, folks. I hope you’re having fun. Let me know what you think.