Snake was more than halfway back to Otacon's last known position when the explosion rocked the compound. Several mercs ran past him, converging on the location, and Snake paused. Follow them, or continue towards Otacon?

Let them deal with it. Snake ignored the mercenaries as they went by, focusing instead on finding his partner. Even if these people didn't work together like the original Outer Heaven mercenaries had, they were professionals and could take care of themselves. Unlike Otacon.

The claxons started up again, and this time were not promptly turned off. Snake's head snapped up. Gunfire ahead of him? He put the M9 away, even though it still had over a dozen bullets. The real gun would be better for a firefight, though not much better. He'd have to pick up something better along the way.

He ran down the hall. Who knew what trouble Otacon was getting into right now? He peeked around the corner to see what was going on. The next room was big, and it was the source, or at least a source of the harsh bang-bang-bang of semi-automatics and the staccato rolling drumbeats of fully-automatics.

The newest members of the little party in Outer Heaven were dressed like the old mercenaries that had used this place as a base. Figured that he had to get through the ones who looked more organized.

Snake flattened himself against the wall and made sure the gun he'd picked up was loaded. One... two... three! He jumped out from his cover and fired, dropping one of the Outer Heaven mercenaries before taking up his position again.

Ten of them, and fifteen of the American dressed. This would take some time...


Revolver Ocelot's gun was out, but it wasn't pointing at Otacon. In fact, he had been pushed aside while Revolver Ocelot sent bullets flying with precision that Otacon thought probably rivaled Snake's.

Not that he was watching very carefully. He was much more concerned with not seeing the fighter and his uncanny aim. Otacon was trying to see if there was an option of leaving, but the sound of gunfire was too loud and he didn't know how to localize it. There was no direction to any of the sound except for Ocelot's, and that was quickly blowing his ears.

When Ocelot finished shooting and said something to him, Otacon couldn't even tell what he was saying. He just covered his head and ears with his arms and closed his eyes. Ocelot pulled him to his feet by his collar, and Otacon opened his eyes as Ocelot started dragging him to wherever they were going.

He'd tried the CODEC as soon as the firing began, but it was still out. Maybe that wasn't even Ocelot's doing, considering the fact that he was currently being protected by the crazed gunman. Otacon glanced at Ocelot's arm. Who knew how long that would last? Although, Liquid hadn't tried to kill him until he'd been in the truck with Snake as they'd left Outer Heaven. Maybe he wouldn't try to kill him either?

Best not to rely on that. He had to get away from here! But how? Ocelot was yelling something at him again, but the words just seemed completely unintelligible to Otacon. Finally, he shook his head in disgust and pushed Otacon's hand against a black area of the wall that lit up at his touch. Pain shot through Otacon's wrist as Ocelot pushed a number of buttons on the panel, then pushed Otacon through a door that showed up while the compound's lights turned to a dim greenish light.

When the door closed behind them, leaving Otacon and Ocelot alone in a tiny room filled with computers and monitors, Otacon's ears started to clear. He couldn't hear the gun shots anymore, thanks to whatever soundproofed this room.

Ocelot was smiling, and it reminded Hal of the grin of a tiger had given a small rabbit on one of those nature shows Dave was always watching. He could hear again, if distantly, but Hal didn't need his hearing back to know what Ocelot was saying to him. "It looks like we're alone now."


The green lights had gone on when the place started to fill with some noxious odor. He had to get out of here... Unfortunately, there was no place on earth 20 floors underground that had a good emergency exit, least of all the Outer Heaven military base.

The mercenaries on both sides had looked a bit shocked and pulled on gas masks. Unfortunately, Snake didn't have one to use. Wherever he went seemed to be the middle of another armed conflict, and without air, he wasn't going to last in one of those...

Snake ran down the hall towards the elevator. If he could get on and stay still, he might make it to an upper level where there was a chance at fresh air. There were another 6 mercs...

He was running out of time. Snake ran out, guns blazing at the new arrivals. It confused the American-dressed mercs, who didn't fire at him until it was too late... Snake had maybe twenty second of air left. He wasn't going to make it.

[Hal, do you read me?] He waited. Nothing. He wasn't even going to get the chance to say goodbye. That's how the world was though. You never know the time and place...

He stumbled. The gas masks wouldn't help him now.

I'm sorry Hal, he thought as his hand hit the wall. Hal back up against the wall of monitors while Ocelot turned things on. He tried the CODEC again, but it was still dead. Probably some proximity thing. He just had to keep himself focused. Ocelot would probably have him do something with the computers. Hal could see Ocelot banging away at the things. He was one of the old guard, not even as young as Snake, so there was no way that he'd be able to-

"Good. Level one security is no longer a problem. Now." He turned his head quickly to look at Hal. "Here's were we need the genetic factors."

Hal tried to back up farther, but there just wasn't any way to do it. "I bet you think your father designed these security protocols, don't you."

"Who else, Big Boss?" Hal asked, trying to sound brave. He had to stall. Snake would get to him as soon as he could. Hal just had to stall Ocelot until Snake was able to get here.

Ocelot smirked before giving his reply. "The brute couldn't have handled something complex like that. I always figured Arthur was giving the orders. After all, they had one little fight and suddenly Solid Snake takes the whole op down."

"Are you... are you saying my father kept the place up, or are telling me he took it down?"

"You really are in the dark about him, aren't you..." Ocelot snickered. "The Boss found out about him. Told him to get out of his sight. Arthur left the base, and only a few days later, the base went down. You can draw your own conclusions from that."


Snake drew in a deep breath as the gas suddenly cleared. What the hell-? Whatever he'd touched had lit up like a molotov cocktail. There was a burst of static through the CODEC and suddenly the communications blackout was off.

[...draw your own conclusions from that.] Ocelot?

Great. [Otacon? Can you hear me? Tell me where you are.]

[Found out about him... what the hell is that supposed to mean?] asked Hal. Damn it! One way communication... Snake shook his head and started running again. Time to put it in overdrive.

[About him and me.] That stopped Snake for about half a second.

[My father would never have... have been with... with scum like you!] Hal sounded unsure. Snake growled.

[Careful who you're calling scum. I might not need you alive, you know.]

Snake swore under his breath. Why did Hal always have to get himself into the middle of these things? He was put in a perfectly safe location, and still managed to get himself in trouble. He heard Hal whimper, and clenched his teeth. If Ocelot hurt Hal... well, someone was going to die a painful death, and it sure as hell wouldn't be Snake.

[Lucky you. The lock-out keys are tied to both genetic codes. Get up.]

Snake stopped in his tracks as he came up at a section of floor that had been blown out. He judged the distance, took a few steps back, and made a running jump.

[I said get up.] Hal yelped. [Did that hurt? Next time you do what you are told when you are told to do it.]

He'd almost missed the landing. Sloppy. Time for the elevator up to the floor he'd left Hal on. It shouldn't be more than a minute now, and then the only task left would be finding his waylayed partner. Snake got on and pushed the button, glad to be on his way.


Hal's hand was in a bit of pain. It wasn't too bad, certainly not broken, but doing what Ocelot told him to do might not end up being any better for his health. Snake would come before anything really bad happened, though. He always saved the day. Snake truly was a hero, whether he liked the word or not.

"Put your hand here," said Ocelot, indicating a panel.

Hal bit his lip and did as he was told. A screen lit up, a Snake lookalike staring out at him. Ocelot continued doing something beside him while Hal stared at the picture.

"Arthur," said the screen contritely. Hal glanced at Ocelot, still engrossed in the work he was doing. "We've been betrayed. By our biggest sponsor, no less. You did the traces, I hope. We need intel on the Monseigneur." The Monseigneur... Hal had seen that before. On the Chernobyl computer? Possibly...

"I've set things to delete everything on the system, hope I got it right." Things were always hard to delete completely... recovery could take a really long time though... And this was a military base. Surely even in the early 90s they knew enough about things to have fragmented everything and wiped it clean...

"Security should still be in place, so if anything happens, activate what you need. Don't trust a damned thing anyone tells you until you see me. Three days, you know the place." The tape had a date stamp. July 2, 1995. That's... the day before dad died... "My soldier will be here in a few minutes. This base is useless now. I know how you feel about killing family, but if he doesn't join me, I don't have a choice. He wasn't supposed to get this far in the first place."

"And about last week... Look, I'm... I'm sorry. It's your family, I'm sure you know more than I do about them. Maybe the intel is wrong. But this isn't about jealousy, Arthur. Watch the woman. Your wife. There is something going on."

Something distracted him. "Three days, Arthur." The screen returned to darkness.

Hal looked away. His father had known about him and Julie because his lover had told him about it. And they'd fought over it. The shame of being so wrong must have killed him. Had they even had the chance to make up, to say they were sorry to each other in person? I'd never argue with Snake before he went on a mission without apologizing first. If something happened... if he died thinking I was mad at him... I'd never forgive myself... If he died mad at me, I'd... I dunno what I'd do... I don't think I'd ever get over it...

"It appears there's nothing here for me to go on," said Ocelot. "They must have buried it deeper..."

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