Snake ducked behind a tree and surveyed the building. Security was tighter than Otacon had led him to believe, but that couldn't be helped. Being inside a secure complex was generally not the best way for a techie to determine security levels.

Snake crouched down. Time to make sure Otacon was still alive. [How are you holding up?] Snake asked quietly through the Codec. Burst transmissions were generally not susceptible to outside monitoring, but the quality was low grade, especially with what Otacon had access to right now.

[Snake?] The younger man didn't sound scared anymore, just tired. Signs like that didn't bode well for the success of the mission. [I'm still here...]

[Have you told them anything?]

[No... I don't think so...]

[Are you drugged?]


Snake nodded. They wanted information, but at the moment they weren't using torture. Which meant that they either wanted Otacon doing something else after they were done with him, or they were using him as bait to get Snake. Either way, it looked bad, especially since he was going in blind.

[It may take me a while to get in,] Snake noted. [There are a lot of guards here, and a lot of lights.]

[I think they have a guard change soon...] Otacon said tentatively. Snake peeked out at the guards again, binoculars closing in on a few of the guards who had started talking to each other.

[They don't seem to be too careful. I'll probably be able to use that opportunity.] Snake looked for an entrance. There were some vents on the ground, though they were all covered. An electrified fence and gate combination closed off the front entrance. There were some barred windows scattered around the complex but they weren't going to be much help. They had designed the place so that it had natural walls: the front was the only way to get in without a 50 foot drop onto spikes. The place must have been carved out of the mountain. [Did you see any entrances when you were brought in?]

[No. I couldn't see much of anything. There was a blindfold... I could see a little bit, but I... Sorry, Snake...]

[Don't worry about it, Otacon.] Two guards at the front gate, but if he took them out, the search lights would catch it in short order. No, it had to be through the vents. If only whoever ran the prison didn't have the foresight to cut down all the trees and shrubbery within a 20 foot radius of the prison walls...

[They're coming back, I hear them outside the door.]

[All right. I'll see you soon.] Snake closed down the CODEC communication line and focused on watching the patterns of the searchlights. They were fairly predictable, but there was one running the length of the wall at all times. He would have to get the grating off fast.

Snake frowned and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it before taking a long drag. He threw it down and watched the guards again. There was no point in waiting any longer. New guards might just change the pattern of the lights. Snake crept out of the shadows and waited for his chance.

He dodged the first light and waited for the second to go by, then ran to his chosen vent. He pulled out a small screwdriver and quickly got two of the screws out before backing up to let the third searchlight pass by the wall, then went back for the last two screws. Holding the vent cover close, he quickly got into the newly created hole and placed the cover near the entrance. He paused as he watched the searchlight continue past the vent and breathed a sigh of relief. If they noticed anything wrong, he had no doubt that this particular governmental organization would not hesitate to hurt his rather less pain-resistant partner.

Snake crawled through the gritty vent, careful not to make noise as he went. The vent was something of a maze, with twisted passageways and dead ends everywhere he went. It seemed that the vents were connected to offices. Most likely, the prison proper had its own separate ventilation system. Finally, Snake got to an unoccupied office. It looked as though it hadn't been opened for years: there was dust all over the desk and floor, and no tell-tale signs of dirt being either more or less by the door.

Snake kicked the vent and heard it clatter down to the floor, then pulled himself backwards in case anyone had heard the noise. He waited for a few minutes, then relaxed. As he'd suspected, no one was traveling these hallways late at night. He pulled himself out into the room, then walked to the door and listened.

Nothing. Snake nodded and opened the door, peeking through into the hallway. Still nothing. Good. The door had no name on it, so Snake pulled out the screwdriver and scratched a small mark into the wood beside the handle of the door. This way, he'd know which office to drag Otacon through.

Snake closed the door carefully behind him, then backed up against the wall and began sneaking through the complex. This building seemed devoid of guards, and Snake soon found himself rather carelessly walking around the place, listening for the faint sounds of walking guards, or the slight clicking of a security camera.

There was nothing though. Snake opened the door to leave the building carefully, looking through the cracks he'd made to ensure there was no one around. There was no one visible, but he could hear faint breathing. Someone was positioned just outside the door. He would have to take this person out, or it would complicate things when getting his drugged partner out of the complex.

Snake closed the door again, careful to keep it from clicking. There would have to be a bathroom around here for the prison workers, which meant a mirror. He quickly searched and found what he needed. Breaking the mirror and taking the largest shard was simple, and he returned to the door. Snake opened it slightly again, then used the mirror to look around. Good, just the one guard.

Snake put the shard in a pocket, counted to three, then abruptly sent the door swinging open. The guard sprawled down and turned over, alerted to Snake's presence, but Snake had the element of surprise. Snake shoved a gun in the guard's face, then picked the man up by his collar and dragged him inside, shoving him against a wall.

"Who's running this facility?" Snake's voice was gruff, and the man stared at the gun in his face. "Tell me, now!" The man continued to stare blankly, and Snake scowled. Just his luck that the man didn't speak english.

Snake bashed the man against the wall to disorient him, then turned him around and hit him with the base of his pistol. That done, Snake took the man's uniform and put it on. He used the guard's underwear to tie him up and stuffed him in the bathroom, feet dangling slightly off the ground after he'd been hung on the coat rack. With any luck, the man would stay unconscious, but even without luck he should be unable to sound the alarm now.

Time to call his partner again, if Otacon was even able to receive. [Otacon, are you there?]

[Snake...? Snake where are you...?]

[That's what we asked YOU, Hal.]

Shit. They knew his name. I really should have figured that. They had found him somehow, but I was almost hoping it had been by tracking CODEC calls. On the bright side, of course, this would just mean they would need to change identities.

[Do you know where you are, Otacon?] Snake hoped that Hal would be able to at least tell him that, even if he couldn't answer much.

[No... no more questions, please...] Hal sounded out of it. Snake shook his head. This was no good. He'd leave the CODEC on to monitor the situation though. It was a little bit dangerous, but they couldn't have broken into the CODEC frequencies or they'd already know that Snake was in the prison.

[You'll have to wait a little longer, Otacon. I'm inside, but I don't know where you are.] Snake looked out. [There are a lot of buildings here, Otacon.]

[Building C...]

[That's where WE are, you little...]

Snake winced as he heard Hal's interrogators slap him. Hal probably hadn't felt it much though; there was a quiet 'ouch,' but that was all. Snake looked out. Building C? Which one was that? He didn't see one labeled C, so he looked up, smirking as he saw the sign above him. This was building C. He looked up and saw windows above him.

There had to be stairs somewhere.

[Upstairs or downstairs?]

[I don't... I don't know...]

There was noise coming from the other side of the CODEC transmission, but Snake couldn't make out the words. He had to hurry up. There had to be stairs behind one of these doors. He hadn't seen any emergency stairs though, nor was there an elevator. He'd have to check each door manually.

[We didn't want to do this, Hal,] said Hal's interrogator. [But really, you force us to. Your little organization is costing us time, men... It needs to be stopped. You know that, don't you, Hal? Of course you understand that. I'll ask you again, where is your partner?] \line[Building C...]

[Now, now, we don't tolerate lies here.] Snake had to hurry up. The interrogator sounded like he was ready to up the ante. It was just a good thing that Hal must have said enough lies that the man didn't recognize the truth anymore.

When Snake found the stairs, he was more than a little surprised to find only one guard. He took the man out quickly, cold cocking him and dragging him into the bathroom. But downstairs or upstairs?

[This is a really simple instrument, Hal. Just a nice hot poker. It won't hurt too much. You're a scientist, right? You can tell me where he is, what mission he is on, or we can... experiment and see how much this hurts you.]

Snake grit his teeth. Hal did not deserve this. Hal was not accustomed to this either. [I... I... I don't know... where he is right now...] There was a yelp of pain through the CODEC and wafting up from downstairs. He shut the communication line down. Snake could not afford to be distracted or rushed, or both of them would be captured.

Snake ran down the stairs, opening the door, crack by crack. Three guards. He knocked each of them out with a quick dart from his M9, not wanting to waste any more time. The tranquilizer darts would be easily noticed if anyone came by and woke the guards, but right now, speed was of the essence.

There was another yelp of pain, and Snake moved quickly to where it came from. A barred door. Snake looked through the door, and saw that there was only the one interrogator inside. He had a radio. Snake pushed his modified gun through the grate and plugged the radio, then the man. He pulled on the door.

Locked. From the inside as well as the outside.

"Damn it, Otacon, can you get up?"

"N... no... Snake..."

Fine. Just wonderful. Snake pulled out the screwdriver again. It was lucky that this was not one of the new electronically controlled doors, or he really would be screwed. Snake pried the pins out of the hinge, then kicked the door in.

Hal was tied onto a table, so Snake made quick work of that before asking his partner if he could get up.

Hal stood shakily. It was fairly obvious that the programmer/engineer wouldn't be able to run, but he would be able to walk. "Let's go."

The two of them walked out, up the stairs and into the room with the vent. Snake had managed to push Hal into the vent system before they heard the alarm go off. The blaring noise made Snake more than a little nervous, and he got in, ignoring the vent on the ground. He pushed Hal as much as he could, but he could tell the other man was quickly tiring.

There were noises in the vent behind them. Snake stopped and turned, plugging the first two to come down. That would slow them at least. He caught up to Otacon quickly, and they reached the end. The outside was crawling with guards. Hal was not going to be able to get through on his own.

The lights were moving double time against the wall. "Stay here," said Snake quietly. "I'm going to take out some of the guards. When the lights are all out, come out of the vent and get into the forest as fast as you can. Got it?"

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