“Don’t fucking move you son of a bitch,” said Mengsk from behind me as the muzzle of a shotgun pressed up against my cloaked back.
My mind struggled to figure out how I had managed to be tricked by him, and how he was able to know where I was.
“Drop the rifle,” said he as I stared at it, wondering just how good Mengsk’s reflexes were.
I obeyed as my fingers let it slip to the floor. I stood silent as he stopped sobbing.
“You killed my family you mother fucker!” he cried, causing me to flinch at the loudness of the voice.
“You killed your family,” I replied. “The moment you got up onto that podium and announced that Korhal was not part of the Confederacy you and your family were dead.”
“Confederate son of a bitch!” he shouted. “I swear to God I will find out who you are. I will hunt down your entire fucking family, and torture each of them, since I can’t do it to you.”
“I have no family,” I whispered as I shoved my foot into the man’s knee, severely dislocating it.
The pain delayed his reflexes enough for me to move out of the way as he squeezed the trigger and a loud blast erupted from the shotgun as it flew upwards in Mengsk’s hands form the recoil. He screamed in pain as he dropped to the ground and let go of the weapon. I got up behind him quickly and kicked away the shotgun, swiftly drawing my pistol and aiming it at the back of the senator’s head.
I quickly noticed that he had goggles on, which I presumed utilized heat vision. I cocked the gun, not wanting to delay the mission’s final objective any longer, before there were several shots behind me and something heavy slammed into my back. Mengsk scrambled away as I hit the ground. I rolled onto my back and fired two rounds out the small window near the ceiling; both shots implanting into the guard’s face that had fired at me. I turned and fired at Mengsk as he ran through the doorway and up the stairs.
“Fuck,” I whispered as I got up slowly.
I flexed my shoulders to be certain that no bullets managed to get through my Kevlar beneath my armor. Luckily only one round had even gotten by that, and the Kevlar had stopped it effectively. There were more voices above and I headed to the door as the guards outside tried to spot me, though none of them were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of me like the first one had been.
“Mengsk got away from me,” I said over my COM. “He’s moving to the first floor.”
“We’ve got company incoming,” said Eric. “Two trucks are pulling through the front gate—it looks like reinforcements.”
“Damnit,” I said as I moved cautiously up the stairs.
“And those guards are following you through the basement,” Jerry added.
With that information I moved back down the stairs and quickly slammed the door shut before locking it. There were several shouts from behind it as someone kicked it, though I ignored them as I went back after Mengsk.
“I count twenty-five heavily armed men approaching the front door—you’ve got company,” Eric informed us. “Do not allow Mengsk to get to them, or we’re going to have a messy situation on our hands.”
I acknowledged him as I moved much more quickly up the stairs. As I reached the top I noticed Mengsk run around a corner not far ahead of me, and I fired once at him. The bullet hit the wall milliseconds after he passed it. I suddenly heard a voice ahead of me.
“Get out of here! There’s a fucking ghost in here!”
“Son of a bitch,” I said as I walked into the mansion’s foyer once again.
All twenty five of the soldiers were standing there as Mengsk went for the door. I took aim for the man as he pulled on the door handle, but paused as it didn’t open. There was a brief muzzle flash on the staircase across the room and a soldier who had been shifting position happened to move between Mengsk and the slug. He dove to the ground as blood was splattered against the walls, immediately alerting the other soldiers.
“Take out Mengsk!” cried Eric as he reloaded on the stairs.
Figuring he had snuck inside with the guards, I quickly moved through the group of men as they fired up at where Eric was. He dove to the floor to get away from the slugs as the man in front of me shifted back a step, and ran into me. He knocked me off balance and I hit the floor as the man turned to look at the floor on which I was sitting.
“There’s another one!” he screamed as he fired, though I had already moved beneath him and shot him in the head.
“Protect the Senator!” cried another as several of the soldiers surrounded him and moved away from the door that Eric had locked behind them.
I slammed my rifle butt into one of the soldier’s faces before blasting him in the stomach, showering the man behind him with blood. He subsequently opened fire, the rounds peppering the body of the man I had shot in an attempt to hit me. I quickly swept his legs out from under him as I planted another round in the left eye of the man standing next to him. The six soldiers with Mengsk finally broke free of the crowd that I was stuck in the middle of, and I was forced to follow them. I fought my way through the men, leaving a wake of dead and dying behind me as I passed Eric who was trying to take down as many of the soldiers as he could.
“Follow Mengsk!” said Eric.
I obeyed as I switched off my heat vision and went after the group that was continuously firing to keep their rear clear. I turned back and watched Eric fire several more rounds before there was a strange sound. A slug that seemed to come from no where suddenly managed to hit the cloaking device on the back of Eric’s armor, before blowing out the front of him. I watched as his cloak disappeared and the men that had been firing randomly finally had a target. He looked down at the blood dripping from his abdomen before the thirteen men still standing all opened fire at once. I watched in horror as my teammate’s body was ripped apart. Nearly seventy bullets tore into him as his head split and he was blown back against the wall in a shower of blood.
I stood frozen in place as the men cheered at his death. I stared at the scattered remains of him as they then started glancing around for me. After a moment I started back after Mengsk, whilst trying to get in contact with Jerry.
“Jerry,” I said shakily.
“I finally got my fucking cloaking device working again; I’m heading through the courtyard doors.”
“Eric’s dead,” I stated as I carefully glanced around the corners as I went.
“What?” Jerry cried.
A stray slug managed to hit his cloaking device…he didn’t have a chance,” I replied.
“Christ,” said Jerry angrily.
“Mengsk is heading to you,” I remarked as I got my thoughts back on track with the mission. “Stay in that room and see if you can make them turn around. The only other safe way out that they’ll have is through the basement, and I’ll be waiting for them there.”
Jerry acknowledged the plan and I switched on my HUD to see his locator moving in the lounge that we had entered earlier from the courtyard. I switched it off again shortly thereafter.
“Are you sure?” asked Jerry suddenly.
“About what?” I questioned in return.
“About him coming this way first,” Jerry answered. “He’s not even in the hallway.”
“Fuck!” I cried as I took off running until I came to the staircase leading down into the basement. “Get down to the basement level!”
As I reached the bottom of the stairs I saw that the door was open and could see a soldier standing by the window as another was pulling himself through it. I quickly fired a shot and took down the man that was standing as he turned to see me, and as I moved through the doorway I sensed it, but it was too late. I turned as Mengsk squeezed the trigger on the shotgun. His trick was effective as he moved quickly from his hiding spot. The point-blank blast tore through my armor and into my Kevlar, and for the first time in a long time I felt the burning sensation as several of the small slugs ripped into my side. I flew backwards onto the ground as he rapidly moved out the window. I could do little more then lay there as the pain surged through me, and I turned my head slowly as my vision fogged. As I watched my target escape I exhaled deeply and reached for my stimpacks to try and calm the pain.
“Jerry, Mengsk is outside,” I said through gritted teeth.
Silence followed my statement so I spoke again.
There was a sudden clattering sound near me and I turned back towards the window. A small cylinder was now rolling around on the floor after it had fallen through. I cursed as I forced myself to sit up through the pain. As I subconsciously counted off the seconds in my head I realized I was too late to get out of the way, and so I laid down flat on the floor as the grenade detonated. I grunted as a piece of the shrapnel sliced into my already wounded side, moving in a good ways before lodging in my kidney.
“Damnit!” I cried in pain as I writhed around holding my side.
I suddenly heard cries outside.
“He’s dead! He’s dead!”
A small amount of gratefulness flowed through me as they shouted about my death. I switched off my cloak as I started to crawl towards a large shelving unit in search of something to wrap around my wound. The small amount of stims that I had weren’t doing much, since few ghosts ever got hit on the job. There was a sudden sound on the staircase leading into the basement and I froze, before laying down behind a counter. Footsteps entered the basement level and I listened to them move around before they stopped. Several seconds later I understood that whoever it was had found the trail my side had left behind me as I had gone. I silently drew my sidearm and carefully attached the silencer. As I aimed it at the place above the counter where the man’s head would first appear, I closed my eyes and waited as the footsteps came within several feet of me. I opened my eyes and fired all at the same time, using my ears to tell me when the man was where he should be. The quiet shot went through the oblivious guard’s head as he took the last step forward. He fell in absolute silence to the ground where he bounced up slightly once, before coming to rest a foot away from me. I let my hand drop down to my side on the floor before I turned my head to the opposite side. Through the small openings in the shelves I could see the daylight approaching slowly but surely.
I had never before failed a mission, which was always something expected of ghosts since to fail a mission most often meant death, and if it didn’t it was that much worse.
I felt little more than defeat at the idea that my job had become my life, and now even that had been taken from me, just as Rachel had been. I was bleeding out, and I knew that I didn’t have much life left in me. I had heard nothing but silence for ten minutes before I tried to contact Jerry again.
“Jerry?” I asked over my radio. “Are you alive?”
Only static responded and I lowered my head back to the floor softly. I heard something rustling besides me and I suddenly noticed something on one of the shelves that had not been there before. It was a bomb.
“Yes, I am alive,” Jerry muttered before he materialized in front of the bomb.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked in confusion. “How long have you been in here? And what the hell is that?”
“I’ve only been here for a few minutes, and I’m doing only what must be done.”
Jerry’s rifle was slung over his back, and one arm held a small box at his hip.
“I’m sorry that it had to happen like this, but I didn’t want any interference from you or Eric,” he muttered.
“No,” I whispered. “Jesus Christ, you killed Eric.”
Jerry nodded as he set the timer on the bomb for five minutes. He set the box on the shelf next to it, and then drew his pistol before attaching the silencer. As I glanced at my own pistol on the floor near me, he moved swiftly and placed his foot over it before kicking it away.
“I thought that you should know before I killed you, that I was the one in your house that night. Your daughter’s mind was so unstable that it would have been too dangerous to train it or to even let it develop its powers unchallenged. The Confederacy has never let children with those capabilities live. I had been cloaked in her closet. I didn’t mean for you to have to see it.”
Anger welled within me suddenly as I everything that happened flashed back before my eyes and I saw the events for what they really were, not what I had thought them to be.
“You son of a bitch!”
I moved suddenly as his grip on the pistol tightened, and he fired a round into my shoulder. I cried out in both anger and pain as I swept his feet out from under him. His grasp on his pistol loosened as he struck the floor. Pain from both of my wounds shot through me as I screamed and slammed my boot down onto Jerry’s wrist. He released the gun with a grunt before he bent his other arm and shoved his elbow into my knee cap. The armor took most of the blow, though my knee bent backwards slightly and I slipped onto the floor as well. He picked his gun back up as I struggled to move. The adrenaline wasn’t enough to help me through the pain.
The voices were the only reason I wasn’t dead in the seconds that followed, along with the noise from the basement door flying open. Mengsk’s guards flooded into the room and Jerry fired at them several times before he glanced back at me. He ducked down as he fired a poorly aimed round at me, though I shifted slightly and it went into my cloaking device. Jerry then proceeded to cloak himself as several guards charged him. I grabbed my own weapon in time for two of them to come around the corner. I took them both out with head shots before I switched on my heat vision sensors. I moved slowly over to where the downed guards were and took a rifle, before I dared to peek around the corner. Breathing slowly and cringing in pain, I moved slightly so that I could see around the counter. I saw nothing, and so I quickly looked up above the counter so that I could see the entire room. The basement was empty of heat signatures, and as I realized that I spun around as fast as I could. I wasn’t fast enough unfortunately, and Jerry’s Canister rifle smashed into my face. I hit the ground with my rifle pointed at him. He brought his knee up and pinned the rifle to the ground at my side as I fired. Silently cursing my weakened reflexes through my spouts of pain, I attempted to think of another method of escape before he stomped his foot down onto my already bleeding shoulder. I screamed in excruciating pain as he repeated the action, before he kicked my injured side as well. My vision was going dark and I had little will or strength left to fight for my life. To my surprise he didn’t draw a gun; he brought me instead over to the bomb. The timer was nearly to one minute by now, and his voice shook with semi-contained anger.
“You shouldn’t have joined this program, and I was very surprised to hear the major tell me that you decided to join the Ghost program even after we murdered your daughter. This pathetic excuse for a government doesn’t deserve to have people like us to protect it. Mengsk is the person that people should be following, not some fucking communist government operating under the illusion of a democracy. People cannot fight for a government that they fear, and should never need to.”
“If you think that Mengsk is so great, why the hell would you participate in his fucking assassination?” I asked with what anger my defeated body could muster.
Jerry laughed as he tied me to the shelves while the timer hit forty seconds.
“Angus is no more fit to rule this society than the Confederacy.”
The ghost then raised his pistol to my forehead before he lowered it again.
“I suppose I’ll let you use the last thirty seconds of your life to think about it,” he muttered with a faint grin. “Give Mengsk my regards.”
With those final words Jerry disappeared in front of me. I watched the window near the ceiling open as he exited the mansion, before I did just what Jerry had said. As the blackness enveloped me, I thought about all of the people I had murdered to do my job. I heard their screams ringing through my head before I saw Rachel. She was standing before me with a look of disappointment on her face. Deep down I’d never thought about what she would and would not have wanted me to do after she died. The mental conditioning of the Ghost program removed the majority of my emotions about her. Now, however, I felt everything, and I felt horrible that I had filled the past years of my life murdering to further the corrupt plots of a twisted government. It’s not how I had wanted to spend my life.
As I thought about those grim and saddening thoughts, I never noticed as the timer reached one. My final thought was of Rachel in a perfect world, a world free of the Confederacy, of the Zerg, of the Protoss, a world where we could have lived together in peace.
The door creaked open slowly, and the man, heavily clad in scarred armor stepped into the dreary room. He removed his helmet and slung his Canister rifle around his back. The man that had stood before him three days ago now sat in a chair before the wall of monitors, observing what was happening on each of them. Once again he made no movement as the door opened and closed. He waited for several seconds to hear footsteps behind him.
“I see that I was right to put my trust in your talents,” the seated man said.
The ghost continued to approach the table still separating the two men, before he arrived at it and stopped. Jerry placed his helmet onto the table as well as the box he held in the other hand.
“Of course you were,” Jerry replied in a very prideful manner.
The man’s chair twisted around, though his face was still hidden by the shadows, even when he stood and approached the table.
“I did everything as we had discussed. Including eliminating my team.”
“Very good,” the man said as he reached the table and his face was illuminated by the light hanging over it. “The operation has had the effect I intended, the public presses are calling it an act of terrorism from renegades, though the underground news is that it was clearly the actions of the Confederacy. Here is the rest of your money.”
Jerry accepted it and checked it over to be certain it was the full one hundred thousand that they had agreed upon before and after the operation.
“If I may ask one thing,” Jerry mentioned as the man across the table started to open the box.
“Yes?” asked the man as he glanced inside the heavily bloodstained box.
“Why did you want your father dead?”
Arcturas comprehended how to answer his question in a short period, rather than the long explanation he had used on himself to reason that it was completely necessary. He closed the box back up, not needing to spend much time looking at his fathers decapitated head.
“My father’s work has been very successful over the past few years, and it has also been a necessary step in the Confederacy’s downfall. He has, however, been corrupted by the Confederacy’s politics, and for him to become the leader of the inevitable rebellion, let alone the leader of the next Terran government, would have defeated the purpose. Angus has sparked that rebellion, and the only way to provide fuel to that spark and initiate the fire is to give the people a reason. Show them that the Confederacy is afraid of them and what they can do by making their assassination of the first legitimate rebellious senator in Confederate history obvious. My father’s purpose was served, and it is now time for me to take the reins and finish what he was so brave to start. He will be honored greatly when the Terran worlds are under a government free of the Confederacy’s bonds and lies.”
Jerry listened intently to Arcturas Mengsk’s words, absorbing and believing them. He had felt the rebellion inside him from the first day that he heard Angus Mengsk speak of his objections to the Confederacy’s methods. He though of Arcturas as his equal, being of a similar age and carrying the same ideals. He respected the man fully, and he did not intend this operation to be the last time he worked for Mengsk.
The mission he had just participated in was only the beginning, and there was surely a brighter future on the horizon.