“Enemy neutralized!” The computerized voice said, and Chase fell to the ground from weariness and sorrow for his dead colleagues.
“Damage assessment: Maximum level achieved equals three. Casualties equal fifty-nine.” The computerized voice finished. Chase was too tired to think about any of this.
He was offered the rest of the day off, and was allowed to return to the apartment provided for him. He was disallowed from exiting the compound of the research complex though those were the last things on his mind.
Later that night, Chase was awakened by the sound of a ringing phone next to his bed. He rubbed his eyes and answered it.
It was Natalie; she seemed fearful and excited at the same time.
“I thought…” She said over the phone, almost out of breath. “I thought that you were dead. When I heard that the third ring of defence was infiltrated I thought that you’d be dead.”
“I wouldn’t be as excited about it as you are. All my friends, the first friends I’ve really had in a long time, they," his voice faltered, "...they are dead now.” Chase replied.
“Yeah, but you aren’t!”
She didn’t understand. How could she? She was never in such a position before. It was a similar situation to when his family had died; they had died and he didn’t. Perhaps, he usually thought, that it was fate that all the friends he got close to eventually died.
It seemed that Natalie sensed this thought over the phone, for Chase had often confided the same thoughts to her on multiple occasions. “It’s not your fault.” She said, calmingly.
“Then whose is it?” Chase asked angrily. “If I were you, I’d be running as far away from me as possible.”
“Now, come one.” Natalie said again, this time her voice was calmer than when she first called. “Besides, I have called with good news. The General has informed us that he wishes to promote you. You are asked to report to his office first thing tomorrow.”
“Very well then!” Chase said, and before he heard any more words of sympathy from Natalie, he put down the phone.
The next morning, as requested, Chase reported to General Knox’s office. The General was there as was Natalie, who ran and hugged Chase as he entered.
“Morning General.” Chase said, he was still unsure of whether he should salute the General, since they were never taught such etiquettes during their training.
“Morning son.” The General said. “First of all, I want to congratulate you on your successful defence of our facility yesterday.”
“Thank you, sir.” Chase said. “It’s just that I wished that no one had died.”
“Do not worry.” The General spoke. “As we speak, their families are being informed of the circumstances surrounding their death and their bodies are being delivered to their homes. The company will, of course, suffer all funeral expenses.”
“I am glad to hear that, sir.”
“I’m sure that Natalie had told you about the promotion?”
“She sure did.” Chase said, though he was not too excited.
The general got up from his chair and took something from one of the shelves. "This is a mere formality, so I don't see the need for one of those big ceremonies, caham: 'I hereby promote you to...Major Joseph Chase'.” The General said, handing Chase a merit badge and giving a firm handshake.
“Thank you, sir.” Chase said as Natalie gave him a big kiss on the cheek.
The General then signalled for her to leave, which she did.
“I’m sure that you are aware that this company is currently working on a number of projects,” the General began, “that some would believe is worth the lives of even more than those fifty-nine people that were killed.”
“I’m not sure that I follow.” Chase admitted.
“I’m sure you have heard of Limex Technologies Unlimited?” The General asked.
“Who hasn’t?” Chase asked. “That company and this one practically own everything on this island.”
“Well we believe that the thing that you stopped was sent by that company to steal our latest research.”
“Project Alpha?” Chase asked.
There was a short silence. “How did you know about that?” The General asked, there was a grave look of concern in his eyes.
“Well, forgive me sir, but I’ve overheard this phrase multiple times during my stay here.” Chase replied.
The General breathed a sigh of relief. “I see. That is understandable. You are more of a guard than meets the eye. That is why we want to send you on a particular mission.”
“And what would that mission entail, sir?” Chase asked, unsure of what to expect.
“A few things.” The General began. “First of all, your defeat of that monstrosity proved to us that you are the perfect man for the mission. Your task will be three-fold, should you choose to accept it. We just hope that you would, if not for yourself then for the fifty-nine that died yesterday.”
“I don’t wish to seek revenge, but if my mission will stop future deaths, then I will gladly do it.” Chase said.
“Very well.” The General said. “Your first task is to infiltrate the Limex Technologies complex on the other end of the island. We have sources who informed us that a janitorial position has been opened just today.
“The second task is much more discrete, and will require about a week of your time there. You are to assassinate the CEO of the company.”
Chase was taken back by this.
“For the lives of your friends!” The General exclaimed. “You have to do it for them!”
Chase silently nodded.
“The assassination will not be as open as you may want to believe. Our scientists have developed a two part poison, the first part being harmless to humans and the second part being untraceable, you are to strategically apply these two portions of the poison.”
“I see.” Chase said.
“But before you apply the second part of the poison, we would want you to infiltrate their mainframe and search for all the information they have on Project Alpha and destroy it, for you see, we believe that the invader was not the first attempt to steal our information, just the first one that got caught.”
Chase was then handed a file and two bottles of the two-part poison.
“Good luck, son!”
Chase was allowed to leave the compound for the first time since he accepted the job. He was allowed to return to his old apartment, which luckily was not re-rented out, and there he decided to wait for a few days before doing anything else.
He felt that every movement he made was being watched, though he was sure that he was imagining it, with all that was on his mind. He had never really killed anyone in his life before, except perhaps for the invader, but that was in self-defence.
Two days later, he went to the Limex Technologies and applied for the janitorial job, though he was unsure how the General was so assured that he would be granted the job.
Chase needed someone to talk to about his mission, but he knew that he could not tell Natalie, for she was within the heart of the company, and it may endanger her life or her job. So, naturally, Chase called on the only other friend he had that was still alive, Andrew.
“I have to tell you something important about what’s happened to me during my stay at Zenon Institute.” Chase said, over the phone.
“We shouldn’t talk on the phone.” Andrew had said. “Because anything that starts like that can’t be good news and your phone may more than likely be tapped. Come over.” Andrew said, and hung up.
Later that evening, Chase showed up at Andrew’s with the folder and the two bottles. He handed the file to Andrew, who took little time in starting to read it.
“What do you think? Should I go through with it?” Chase asked.
“Are you asking me for permission to go kill someone?” Andrew asked.
“Shh…” Chase said. “I always have this feeling that I may be watched, though I’m not sure if that is the case.”
“The way I see it, killing someone is never the answer to anything, it only creates more problems.” Andrew said, handing the file back to Chase.
“So, I should just ask to not be a part of this anymore?” Chase asked.
“Do you remember the night of the hurricane?” Andrew asked.
Chase looked at him as if saying “Are you mad! You know that I lost my memory.”
“Sorry about that.” Andrew said. “But I do, and I remember it too well. That night still haunts my dreams. What I have learnt that night is that certain things happen whether we chose for it to happen or not.”
“And what is your point?” Chase questioned.
“My point is,” Andrew began, “is that I do not think that the company will give you any choice in this matter.”
Chase looked down at the file in his hands and the two bottles of poison. He started to quickly formulate a plot to get himself out of the predicament, if only it would work.
“Evidence!” Chase exclaimed.
“What are you talking about?”
“This file and the bottles of poison are evidence of what they are forcing me to do. I simply have to go to the police with these things and I may get protection.”
Andrew looked at him for a second then simply laughed. “It may work, but be careful whatever you end up choosing. I wouldn’t choose to do that though.”
“Well the amount of things those two companies own is just crazy. I can’t think of a single thing that does not belong to either one or the other. I would not be surprised if the government and police also fall into the pocket of one or the other.”
“Well we have to hope.” Chase said, and we gathered the file and the bottles and left the room.
Chase went back home and called the General.
“Good evening, Chase.” The General said, as he answered his phone.
“Good evening, General.” Chase said, a little nervous. “I don’t want to do it.”
“The mission,” Chase explained again, “I don’t want to go through with it. I can’t kill someone.”
“But we can.” The General said, calmly.
“You can’t threaten me.” Chase said, almost confident that his plan would work. “I have your name and the name of that company all over these files you gave to me. I simply have to show them to the police and…”
“Look out your window.” The General said calmly.
Chase looked out; the phone was still to his ears. There was a car parked across the street with two suspicious men with earpieces.
“They are ours. And should you try to get out, you would find that they do not have as much a problem with killing someone as you do.”
Chase was dumbfounded. He always felt that he was followed, though he never listened to his instincts. “I had defeated that invader.” Chase said, trying to sound threatening. “Why do you think that those two measly men could stop me?”
“I thought that you would say that.” The General said. “That is why there are a group of my men escorting your girlfriend into my office as we speak.”
Chase had no option but to believe what the General said; after all, Natalie did live and work in the same complex.
“I…” But Chase had no reply.
“Go to the mails you received today.” The General commanded over the phone.
“There you would find that Limex Technologies had replied to your job request. You have been accepted. Tomorrow, my men would make sure that you arrive on time for your first day of work. Am I understood?” The General asked.
Chase nodded, not knowing what to say. The General took the silence as an acknowledgement.
“If the mission is not completed within the week,” the General warned, “then I’m afraid that poor Natalie’s life contract will expire.” And he put down the phone.
Chase spent the remainder of the night awake, pondering on his next move. All the scenarios he came up with ended with someone being dead. The choice was now his of who would live: The CEO of Limex Technologies or Natalie.
Chase was followed all the way to the central Limex Technologies complex by the suited men, who left after they made sure that Chase entered the complex.
Chase made no delay. He immediately applied the first part of his plan. He sought out the ventilation system and slowly began releasing portions of the first part of the poison into the system, as was described in the file. He was as of yet unsure how the poison would work.
The next part of the job was more difficult. Even as a janitor, his range within the complex was limited. He thus had to slowly befriend the other janitors and hope that one of them knew the location of the company’s mainframe.
It was from the other janitors that he learned that the janitor that he was replacing had been mysteriously found dead four days ago, which coincided with the day he was given the mission. He was appalled by the extent of which the General would go to ensure the success of the mission. It was then that Chase decided that he would not mind the death of just one more person, if it meant that much more lives will be spared.
Chase continued to release the first part of the poison into the ventilation system. He had discovered the location of the mainframe, though he still had no access.
It was not long before he figured out that the janitors always welcomed help. On the seventh and final day of the mission's dead line, Chase convinced Germaine, another much more senior janitor, that he would help him in his duties because he needed the following day off. And, of course, Germaine accepted, allowing Chase to take his keys, which included the keys to the mainframe.
And so, that night, Chase broke into the mainframe room. He had waited until it was empty, and now that it was, he was in, loading the system, searching for all the files on Project Alpha. He found only one.
As the mission specified, all the information on Project Alpha were to be deleted without being opened. But Chase was already in too deep, and if something went wrong, he needed some information that he may be able to use against the General and Zenon Research Institute.
He opened the file, unsure of what he would find. He was shocked. The picture that flashed before his eyes were that of the invader that he had stopped. He was confused. So Project Alpha was the name of the project that created the invader, but that did not made sense since the invader was from Limex Technologies and Project Alpha is a Zenon Institute project.
He was lost, unaware of how long he had been staring at the screen. He did not have time to read the little notes that were written alongside the picture when the CEO of the company walked in.
With reflex actions, Chase turned around and restricted the CEO, forcing her into the chair in front of the monitor.
“You know more than anyone that this room is sound proof, Madame CEO.” Chase said to her.
“You can call me Doctor Montgomery.” The doctor said.
“Why so calm?” Chase asked.
“Because, by looking at the screen,” Doctor Montgomery said, pointing with her chin towards the monitor that still had the image of the invader, “I can tell that you are working for General Knox. And I certain then, that you are not here to kill me.”
“Don’t be so sure.” Chase said. “But before I do anything, I want you to explain to me about the image I am looking at.”
“Project Alpha?” The doctor asked. “I was hoping that since you are a part of the Zenon Institute, you would be able to tell me.”
“So this is not your project then?”
“Do you think that if it was, that we’d only have a single file on it?” The doctor questioned. “No, this is all the General's and his scientists’ doing.”
“So then that day at the complex…” Chase was remembering the day the invader came.
“I don’t know what happened, but I heard the news. And Zenon was blaming us, the nerve of them. That is the way the General works. Tomorrow, I would have to have a strong word with the General, he should know better than to blame me and my industry for his own doing.”
Doctor Montgomery seemed very relaxed for someone in her position.
“I don’t think that you would be allowed to have that word, doctor,” Chase said, “for it was him who sent me to kill you.”
And with that, he revealed a syringe he had, which he placed the correct dosage of the second part of the poison into.
The doctor’s outlook changed. “So the General’s position has changed.” She said; she now seemed afraid. “But you know in your heart that they are the enemy, not us.”
In his heart, Chase knew that what the doctor said was correct. “But how am I to go against what he said?” He asked, sorrow in his voice. “They have my girlfriend, and every move I make is being watched. If I do not kill you and the files on that PC then Natalie would be in grave danger.”
“I have a plan.” The doctor said, “And it would give you enough time to return to Zenon and rescue your girlfriend. We here at Limex will provide protection for the two of you, along with jobs. Now, if you would just give me the syringe…”
Chase was unsure of what to do.