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934706 No. 934706 ID: 30ada4

It's times like these that make someone ask the big questions; is there a God, for example.

You've never really believed in an omnipotent power, especially not now, as you hang from your hands and feel your ribs crack.

Is there a such thing as good and evil, that's another good one.

Probably not.
No. 934714 ID: 30510e

Greetings fleshing, let us begin.
What is your current situation?
No. 934719 ID: 94e908

You're jarred from your deep thoughts by a particularly vicious uppercut to an already broken rib. The immediate sting of the blow recedes, leaving the throbbing pain of bruised muscle and torn tissue.

You cough and expel a mixture of snot and blood, "Jeez, have you been working out Remy?" Through eyes half-blinded by your own blood, you think you see his jaw clench in anger.

"My name isn't Remy, Chloe," he says through gnashed teeth. It's actually Ramirez, which you know. Besides, your name isn't Chloe. Which he knows.

You roll your eyes as best you can in their bruised sockets, "Yeah yeah, don't be so thin skinned. Oh right, meant to ask: what did I do to deserve getting chained up down here? Not that I don't enjoy these special moments we have together." You say. Remy gives you a look of pure hatred in return. He's disgusted by you. That's why it's so much fun to poke at him.

"There's someone here to talk to you, a representative of the War Court." He smiles wickedly as he says this. Small wonder, almost everyone who attracts the attention of the International War Court ends up with a death sentence, and you know Remy would love to see you executed.

"Did this 'representative' want me beaten before our talk?" You pose the question rehotorically, knowing full well that Remy just likes beating you up.

That sadistic smile widens, "Nah, I just wanted to give you something to remember me by." There they are, his true colors. Behind that stoic soldier facade, Remy only really joined the military hurt people, that's how he gets off. Sick fucking bastard. It's not like you're any better though.

You force a smile past your pain, it's not hard, you've experienced so much by now, "That's sweet of you, Remy, but you didn't have to; there's no way I could forget a face as ugly as yours." By reflex, he touches a hand to the burn scaring on the left side of his face, a feature he is deeply self-conscious of, before his wicked smile deforms into a look of absolute anger. It's just too easy to fuck with this guy.

Remy tenses his body, preparing to deliver another strike, when the door to this cosy little interrogation room flies open, and he turns to face the door with an expression akin to a child caught stealing candy.

But who should lean through the door except Corp. Samson, Remy's close friend. He gives you only a cursory, uninterested glance, before addressing Remy, "Hurry it up dude, the Representative is getting tired of waiting."

Remy looks between you and the Corporal, and you can feel him weighing his options. Finally, his self preservation seem to outweigh his lust to inflict pain, and he releases your hands from the chains that bound them, only to handcuff them behind your back. He then gives you a hard, backhanded slap across the face, "now get the fuck out of here, pice of shit," he hisses, pointing at the door being held open.

You shamble forward and through the door, Samson slamming it behind you. These guys are some of the most fucked up soldiers you've ever met, but they're Marines, so what do you expect.

It's a long, painful walk that the Corporal forces you to make. But eventually you arrive at a door on one of the uppermost levels of the ship. It electronically unlocks when the Corporal nears, and he guides you through into the room beyond.

The first thing you notice is the window opposite the door which spans an entire wall, bright light from the setting sun streams through it, stinging your eyes after so long in the darkness of the brig. Then you notice the room's furnishing, all exotic hardwood and fashionable wallpaper, a long table surrounded by chairs to your left, a presentation screen to your left. This isn't an interrogation chamber, it's a meeting room, the kinda place a buncha' rich, suit wearing business types come to discuss stock holdings.

Speaking of suited busses types, fitting perfectly into that classification is the man sitting at one end of a small table parallel the window and directly ahead of you. He stares at you with a cold, calculating glare and flexes his tented fingers, before shifting that shrewd gaze to the Corporal behind you, "remove her handcuffs and close the door behind you as you leave," he says in a monotone. Samson seems about to protest when the suited man gives a hard stare, silencing the corporal who dutifully removes your cuffs and exits, shutting the door behind him.

The suited man turns back to you, no emotion other than the weariness in his eyes shows across his face. "Take a seat, if you want," he says, indicting the chair across from him. You do so, and recline backwards to rest your feet on the table.

A moment of perfect silence passes, as the suited man stares straight into your eyes, noiselessly taping his fingers together.

At last he speaks, "My name is Maynard Dunmire," he says, "I am a representative of the IWC, International War Court. I have been sent here to question you about a breach of the NATO Rules Of Engagement. I ask that you please answer my questions truthfully to the best of your knowledge misses Lynch." Never once does his tone change, his voice rise. Like talking to a machine.

"The name's Karma. But sure, fire away." You reply.

He leans down and pulls a briefcase from under the desk. He then lays it on the table and clicks it open, searching for some particular document. He seems to find it, as he begins quickly reading over a piece of paper. "What can you tell me about the civilian massacre that occurred three years ago in Afghanistan?" He asks, "You witnessed it, correct?" His voice remains perfectly monotone.

You're completely taken aback by the question, you thought that whole shitstorm of a case had been closed years ago.

You really don't want to remember any of that, in fact you tried for years to forget about it completely. As if that was possible; to forget the screams, the smell. You'll never escape it.

You'll never escape the bodies.

And now it's time to face them again.
No. 934721 ID: 6ce595

Just in case you didn't already know, this quest has previous parts,

No. 934767 ID: d4d69a

First off, mention how your ribs are broken so it will be hard to talk.

It seems like you didn't do anything wrong if you have such bad memories, either you were just a witness or you were just following orders. Either way, tell the truth. The blame will be shifted on either way.
No. 934868 ID: 094652

Explain details but do it fast. Get this over with. If he insists on forcing you to relive the worst parts, make commentary on his sanity.
No. 934980 ID: fde5e7

"Quick question first," you say with a tinge of sardonicism, "Did you even notice that I was beaten black and blue?" You shift a bit in your seat to take pressure of your broken rib.

Dunmire gives a long, resigned sigh, "I'm sorry, 'Karma'," he says, giving you a genuinely sympathetic look. "Yes, I know that the practices here on the Misery are no where near legal. And if I could, I would help you. But I, the IWC, we're powerless. America becomes more and more corrupt, it's actions more desperate and depraved by the hour, but no one can do anything about it for fear of becoming an enemy of the U.S. At this point... All I can do is pretend not to notice," he takes a deep breath and regains some composure, "I'm sorry, I mean it, but I'm just doing my job, and I need you to answer my questions."

You give a mournful nod, "I understand, and I don't blame you," you take a deep breath and brace yourself, "Yes, to answer your question. I witnessed the Massacre."

Dunmire retrieves a small tablet and stylus from his briefcase, and appears poised to jot down notes, "Why were you deployed there in the first place?" He asks.

It was the second Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the top brass were panicking, realizing the gravity of the situation. The move had come swift as lighting, as if overnight 20,000 troops had mobilized. But it wasn't unexpected, either.

Just two months before, the Russian army had mobilized and taken control of Kazakhstan, then Kyrgyzstan, then Tajikistan. One of the fastest campaigns in the country's history. They met with no resistance, shear numbers ensuring that each country surrendered before the fighting had even begun.

Three weeks. That's how long it took for the Russian military to march across its southern neighbors, gaining complete control over them.

And then they attacked Afghanistan.

They gave no time to surrender, anticipating the violent reaction of the Afghan militias they simply charged in full force, killing anyone who so much as looked at a gun. Their victory was total, and it was achieved in less than a week.

The U.S. Was all too aware of what was happening, they'd seen it before, after all; it was the same tactic used by the Soviet bloc to capture countries and add them to their power, a self-feeding steamroller that would continue destroying and consuming until it's control was absolute.

The U.S. Wasn't too keen on the rise of a second Soviet Union, so they decided to take action in the form of clandestine operations. The goal to sabotage the invading force until the structure collapsed.

That's where you came in.

Your team's target was Alesiy Chekov, a colonel leading the infantry regiment stationed in Kabul. Without him the soldiers would be thrown into disarray. At least, that's what your superiors thought. And so they sent your squad to kill him.

"It was the second invasion of Afghanistan, my team was sent into Kabul to collect info on the Russians," you say. It's an innocent lie, makes the story simpler to tell, the paperwork look a little less dirty. After all, that is the story the U.S. Choose to write in the files.

Dunmire takes a note on his tablet, "Who was with you on the team?" He asks next, his eyes searching for details in your features.

Four Delta Operators besides yourself: Niceguy the light machine gunner, Brains the sniper, Crunch the medic, and Iceman the squad leader. You knew them all well, you trusted them. Maybe that trust was poorly founded.

"It was a small team, I forget the other guy's names," you shrug nonchalantly, "Didn't know 'em very well."

Dunmire continues to make notes. "What happened? How did things turn out so messy in Kabul?" He asks.

That is a long story.
No. 934982 ID: 094652

Did it end with an ancient mass-slaughter ritual ironically completed by your attempts to stop it?
No. 934985 ID: 0c0f75

Kome, I love you. No-homo.
No. 935035 ID: d4d69a

You know, this would almost fit.

While you should continue to keep the names to yourself, if they ask for them specifically, give them. Same with the mission details.

So withhold info as much as you want, unless they prod you for it.
No. 935427 ID: e35d75

Wind whips violently against the hull of the V-toll, rattling the fuselage, through the double-walled windows you see angry grey clouds form, and streaks of lightning fork across them.

A boom of thunder shakes the whole aircraft, and Brains, sitting across from you, clenches his teeth. He's never liked flying. Makes sense, he was a Marine; would rather travel by sea. But even if his constitution is lacking in the face of air travel, there's no doubt that he's invaluable on the ground. You've seen him nail a three inch target at 500 meters with that prize M14 of his.

He's much different from the rest of your team, who are all Airborne.

Niceguy's closest to the jump-ramp, eager to be the first to fight, as always. And as always, he's sporting that shit eating grin. It's genuine too. There's a reason he's called Niceguy. The name's a bit ironic though, considering he's the fiercest fighter on the team, strongest as well; that's why he carries the LMG, a big old M60 that his grandfather supposedly used in Vietnam. And just like his grandfather, he joined the U.S. Army as a grunt, good'ol MOS 11B. He's one of the only D-force members to be recruited from standard infantry.

Crunch is sitting where he always sits, furthest seat up, behind the copilot. "Safest seat in the aircraft," he claims. That's how he is, scientific method first and foremost. Guy got a doctorate in medicine before he went into the service, first as an Air Force combat medic, then as a U.S. Army combat medic. And much as we like to joke about it, that medical training he got sure does shine when he's patching up bullet holes with that special Medikit of his. I don't even know what all he carries in that thing, but I've seen him get exhausted soldiers up and running in seconds, bring men back from within an inch of death, and even bring them back from death.

Iceman, he isn't sitting. He's standing. No one actually calls him Iceman, that may be his official callsign, but it's only official. In the field we all call him Lead, because he's a leader, through and through. His real name's Scott Mitchell, and every member of this team admires him. He joined the service as a U.S. Army infantrymen, then he joined the Rangers, then the Green berets, and finally ended up in D-force. He's by far the oldest person on the team, and at 50 years of age, he might seem too old to be doing this job. But you've seen him fight; age has not slowed him down. Nor has it messed with his accuracy, making him a formidable Rifleman.

And that's you too, a Rifleman. Well, Riflewoman technically, but that just doesn't sound nearly as cool. You're by far the youngest member of the team, but certainly not green. In fact, you've got so many successful operations under your belt that the others started calling you Karma. Though you're fairly skilled in many forms of warfare, your specialty is as the team's techie, being the only one here even semi-competent with electronics. Drones, computers, surveillance; you name it.

You trust this team, trust it's skills; that's why you're confident this mission will turn up aces.
No. 935513 ID: 664519


Is that a typo of VTOL (V.ertical T.ake O.ff and L.anding)?
No. 935521 ID: 70d5de

Yes, that's a typo. I have no excuse, I can never forgive myself that slip up.
No. 935524 ID: 672eca

"20 seconds to drop!" Comes the pilot's distorted and staticky voice over comms.

And like clockwork, the whole team stands in line and in order: Lead in front, then Niceguy, you, Brains, and bringing up the rear is Crunch. Everyone performing last minute pre-jump checks.

Then the rear ramp opens slowly, like the maw of a beast, the jump light flashes on, and the pilot's voice is heard one last time, "GO FOR JUMP!"

In a maneuver practiced and preformed a hundred times before, the whole team is out of the aircraft and accelerating downward.

1... 2... 3... 4... In a gut-clenching mixture of fear, exhilaration, and meticulously drilled discipline you count the seconds and watch your altimeter.

Then the designated altitude comes, and you yank hard on your pull-cord.

The chute unfurls and your descent is instantly slowed, momentum jerking your whole body downwards and straining your neck.

You slow to a glide and get a moment to take in the scenery: below you spans a valley, cliff faces bordering either side of the ancient city of Kabul. Several fires burn in the streets, illuminating the wrecked buildings and aftermath of the Russian invasion.

Then you see the rest of your team, only barely making out their black parachutes against the darkness of the night, all of them converging on the rendezvous point in the western end of the city.

Quiet as death, you descend on the city. It's inhabitants none the wiser to your presence, nearly invisible against the virtually black sky. You land, and dispose of your parachute. Then, on silent feet, your team sprints across the ramshackle rooftops, all arriving at the designated burned-out church.

One by one, you all slink into the main hall of the church, quiet nods between yourselves the only acknowledgement of mutual presence.

Lead takes a knee, and gives a curt gesture telling everyone to do the same. "Alright people," he says, his voice cold, professional, and strict, "you all read the brief, but I'm going over it one last time so we're all crystal, pay attention; we are currently in the central western district of Kabul, the closest we could land to the target without risking detection. And that target is colonel Alesiy Chekov. At approximately 22:40 he meets with Captain Mikhail Smirnov at the center of the city, Smirnov is NOT the target; when Chekov leaves the meeting we hit him on his way back to his battalion. That is the only time he is exposed. Under no circumstances can the enemy identify us, this is a deniable op. That's why we're using a captured enemy RPG, a typical weapon of Afghan resistance fighters to take out Smirnov's car. With the thunderstorm, we will not be receiving any satellite or airborne support, visual confirmation only. Any questions?"

No questions. Not from anyone. As always.

With a glance at each and every team member, Lead seems satisfied, and nods, "Good. Let's move."

The night is quiet. The grim calm that follows a battle, as victorious soldiers drink themselves into a stupor, trying to forget the horrors they've seen, the things they've done; and the losers, the ones still alive, mourn the death of family and friends.

But quiet works well enough for your intents. And as you accompany your team across this destroyed city, you can't help but be grateful for the quiet. After all, this is war; and in war, you're either being bored to death, or shot to death. You've lived long enough now to always hope for the former.

Throughout the city, you encounter few Russian soldiers, and what of them you do see are drunken, sleeping, or both. None of them come close to detecting you, a flawless stealth approach so far. And something of a bad omen. Murphy's law likes to strike when you least expect it.

The whole team finally arrives at the ambush point: a half-destroyed schoolhouse overlooking the road. This particular section of road being bottlenecked by two wrecked cars and a barricade, forcing vehicles to move slowly through it. Across from you is an apartment complex which spans the whole block, meaning there are no alleys to turn off on. A perfect place to strike. And it just so happens that Chekov's car is scheduled to pass through this very convenient bottleneck.

The team settles in on the roof of the three-story schoolhouse, and is left with nothing to do but wait. Not very long at that.

...Yet something's bothering you. Some fact that's right in front of you, you just know it. Just gnawing at you.

Something isn't right.
No. 935542 ID: 189b8c

The enemy would be insane to send someone through that deathtrap without either re-clearing it out right before as security, or sending multiple decoys and a beefed up escort force.
No. 935796 ID: 8eaf98

This is too nice of an ambush spot, suggesting a setup. With the benefit of hindsight the apartment might still have civies in it they hear the commotion, ID you, you need no witnesses and so end up needing to 'deal' with them.
No. 936108 ID: ad884b

The feeling of unease only grows. Building until you can't ignore it.

You slink up behind Lead and tap him on the shoulder. "Lead, something's bothering me," you try to remain professional, keep the apprehension from your voice even as your skin prickles.

He glances over his shoulder at you, "What's the problem?" He respects you, he's voiced that respect, but you note a slightly dismissive tone as his attention remains on the clear objective.

"It's this place, the mission... Something isn't right. Something's off, it feels like a trap," you wrinkle your brow and glance around at the dilapidated buildings. That feeling is only getting stronger.

Lead sighs and scans the surroundings with a scowl, "I know, I feel it too. But we have to stay focused, now get back to your position," to make his point, he brings his RPG up to a ready position, poised to strike.

You frown, but still give a solemn nod and make your way back to your post.

Halfway there you stop, the hairs on your neck raise and you hear something.


That's a strange sound, almost like—

There's a boom. Your ears ring, you can't hear. There's a terrible pain in your left arm. You're tilting, falling. The ground is shifting beneath your feet, you're sliding. You feel your body hit the ground, you feel your head jar...

Your ears pop, the ringing slowly recedes, sound crashes back in; burning, shouting, gunfire. Abstract sounds, as if heard underwater.

You open your eyes, and cannot see. Blood, blood is clouding your vision, blood in your eyes. You cannot see. You try to call out, try to shout for help, but no sound escapes. There is no air in your lungs, the wind has been knocked out of you.

You gasp for air and the haze of battle begins to clear, tears fill your eyes and wash out the blood. For the first time you see your surroundings.

You're in a schoolroom. The ceiling has collapsed, and is hanging half-attached to the roof. Cement and rebar lie strewn about the room, there is blood pooling on the floor, you hope it is not your own. There's a fire burning to your left, burning plywood. You look down at your body, and see that your leg is pinned under a large piece of rubble.

Then you see your teammates: Niceguy and Lead firing at unseen enemies through windows on the other side of the room from you. Crunch kneeling over a bloodied from in a corner.

You try to shout for help, but only a feeble sound escapes "Help."

Niceguy hears you, and turns to look. His eyes widen when he sees you. "Karma!" He fires off one last burst from his MG before rushing across the room in a crouch.

He kneels next to you and clenches your hand tight, "I got you!"

You cough, expelling cement powder, "Leg," you groan, clenching your teeth.

He sees the chunk of cement pinning your leg, and gets to work; grabbing it's edge with both hands, he heaves. Even through his uniform you can see the muscles straining. The ruble is lifted a couple inches, enough for you to pull your leg out with difficulty.

Niceguy immediately releases the rubble once you're out from under it, obviously fatigued. Panting, he grabs your shoulder, "Karma, you good?"

"I'm fine," you grunt.

He nods and picks his machine gun back up, rejoining the firefight from the window.

With a groan, you pull yourself up into a sitting position, and look yourself over. Your leg is fine; bruised and sore, maybe a fractured bone, but it's fine. Your torso's all banged up, feels like internal bruising, but again, it's fine. What stops you is your arm. Your left arm.

You have to look at it a couple times to understand what you're seeing. There's a piece of metal about 6 inches long going straight through the forearm, between the bones. It gleams dully in the light of the fire. You hesitantly touch it, and as if some magical spell was broken it immediately starts hurting immensely. Agonizing pain that seems to shoot up the whole arm.

You utter a strangled "fuck" and hold back tears. You're chocking, you feel sick.

You fall backwards and start crawling, away from the pain, towards Crunch.

You're about to call out to him, when you see Brains: he's completely covered in blood, his own. His shirt has been torn away to reveal several deep cuts in his chest, shrapnel wounds; gushing blood. Crunch is doing his best to patch him up. Brains is making a horrible, gagging laughing sound, blood spewing from his mouth. He sees you crawling across the floor and smiles, "The got me, Karma, they got me. Go get 'um, go fucking kill them," he shoves Crunch away violently and brings himself to the floor next to you, his wide, bloodshot eye inches away, "GO FUCKING KILL THEM!" He shouts, his blood spattering your face.

Crunch is quick to pull Brains back up against the wall, and resume his work. But not for long before Lead turns to face the scene, "Leave him, Crunch, he's done. Get to work on Karma."

Crunch gives Lead a look of purest contempt, but still complies. Brains is left to bleed, and Crunch turns to face you, dragging you up against the wall and into a sitting position. "What's the problem?" He asks you in his usual, obtuse tone, sporting his usual, unpleasant expression. Seemingly unfazed by the Marine dying behind him.

You wordlessly raise your left arm, and Crunch just nods solemnly.

He puts on a new pair of medical gloves and fishes for something in his medical kit, retrieving a syringe full of some unknown fluid which he injects right above the shrapnel in your arm. Almost immediately, the pain begins to subside.

Crunch gives a rare sympathetic look, "Clench your teeth."

You open your mouth to protest, but he moves faster. In a second he has grabbed the shrapnel and pulled it out.

The pain, which had been receding before, comes back twofold. Blood gushes from the freshly opened wound and agony beyond imagination wracks your arm. You give an anguished cry, and attempt to control your breathing as Crunch pours styptic into the cut, then bandages it.

"Flex your fingers," he says in a clinical monotone.

You clench your left hand into a fist, and though renewed pain shoots up your arm, all of the fingers comply.

Crunch nods solemnly, and turns to Lead, "Karma's as mobile as she's getting. What's the play Lead?"

Lead presses himself against the wall adjacent one of the windows, bullets pattering against the other side of the wall. He clenches his teeth in anger before addressing Crunch, "We move." He pulls a grenade from his vest, removes the pin, and to your shock, hands it to Brains; "They're going to swarm this place once we're gone, take a couple out for us Brains." His tone is of bitter conviction.

Brains takes the grenade, holding it firmly in his shaking hand, "Understood, Sir."

Lead turns to you and grabs you by your good arm, "On your feet. Move!"

You're hoisted up, and before you know what's happening, you're sprinting through a back door, up a fire-escape, and across rooftops. It's all a haze, a blurred rush, a mad dash. Every one of you running the blade's edge between total determination to survive, and utter hopelessness.

Finally, when your lungs feel ready to burst and your legs buckle beneath you, Lead shoots up a hand in gesture to halt.

You immediately collapse against a wall, breath raged, adrenaline and pain in equal measure egging you on and begging you to stop.

Lead, though, seems to have barely broken a sweat. "Listen," he whispers.

You notice it immediately, one of the worst possible sounds you could hear on the battlefield; total silence. A perfect stillness, like chilled water. And it indeed chills you to the bone. A silence like this always precipitates death.

And sure enough, the macabre staccato of a grenade detonating in the distance breaks the silence.

Brains. Splattered all over a wall like some fucked up Jackson Pollock along with whoever was unlucky enough to be in the same room. He was a pretty good friend of yours, you know. Not like it matters now.

With eyes burning of hatred and cold with fury you stare Lead down. He abandoned Brains, gave him a fucking suicide bomb. And doesn't even have the decency to show a fucking facial expression. Wrath, white hot and uncontrollable boils beneath your skin, and you are suddenly very aware of the weight of your M1911 holsters at your hip. It's loaded. Your hand is poised above it, now caressing the wooden grip.

It would be easy.
No. 936140 ID: 094652

Lead's making the best of a bad situation. Disregard his apparent lack of empathy because he's your best shot at making it out of this alive and finding the reason why four elites were sent into a meat grinder.
No. 936378 ID: 2e0549

Your anger seethes, a rising crescendo like the hiss of a steam kettle, until finally it reaches the boiling point... And dissipates.

You sigh deeply, and with the breath, all the anger leaves your body, replaced with a hollow sadness, and deep disappointment in yourself.

It's not Lead's fault. There was nothing he could've done. It took a lot of strength to do what he did, to remain calm in the face of such a shitstorm. And you almost repaid that strength with a bullet. Yes, you're disappointed in yourself, but more so you're glad you stopped yourself before fucking up irreparably.

And besides, you see it now. That sadness behind Lead's eyes, the way he scans the horizon with hollow repetition. It was hard on him to do that, it was a hard choice. But he chose to keep the living alive, instead of cling to a corpse. You couldn't even begin to thank him for that sacrifice, for being surrogate to the guilt that would have hounded others. So you do the one thing you know he'll understand.

You clasp a hand on Lead's shoulder. He looks to you with questioning, almost hopeful eyes, as if he wants you to chew him out, to verbally beat him. It's easer to bear someone's open anger than quiet contempt.

But words never come. You stare him right in the eye, features set in a soft, mournful expression; a tiny, sad smile that reassures the promise of a tomorrow, and knowing eyes that speak the words you do not possess, telling him that you understand, that you feel his pain.

And just keep staring, neither of you breaking eye contact, until you're standing beside him, staring into the abyss. Until the abyss becomes you, and you the abyss.

This sadness will never leave, either of you. No amount of time will erase it, no amount of drink drown it, no measure of happiness dull it. It will remain, like an eternal wound, because it must remain. Pain is one of few constants in life, to avoid or deny it is to deny humanity, and in so bearing it, in so cherishing the hurt: those who have fallen, those mistakes made, those wounds inflicted; none if it is in vain. For in blood and suffering, we must find life.

And we must remember it.

And so you stare. Into his eyes and straight through his soul, sharing the pain.

Finally, when the hurt is acknowledged, understood; When the sorrow of the moment has been etched upon your heart in silent memorial; you close your eyes, and nod.

Once, slowly. Silent respect paid to the dead, to Brains, to the part of you and Lead which has just died. A goodbye.

And Lead, heaving a shuddering breath, closes his eyes and does the same. Your heads touching gently.

Then it is over. The dead departed and the living yet in danger, you both lean out and give each other adamant looks, steel will, to survive and ensure the team's survival, reflected upon your steely features.

You will not die. You refuse to. And you'll be damned before you give up on this team. Things went south, but you'll make the best of it. The night is darkest before dawn, or some shit like that.

Lead's already plotting your next move, you can see it on his face. And so you wait, prepared to follow orders, and get shit done.
No. 936605 ID: 8eaf98

Maintain situational awareness Otherwise just kinda wait for him to come up with a course of action I guess.
No. 936610 ID: 094652

Yeah this, but check your ammo and inventory.

See if you were given dud gear.
No. 942599 ID: 5025d3

You take a breath, and order your thoughts; most pressing is the urge to check your gear. Taking a knee, you make a mental list as you inspect the items individually. Struck with a pang of paranoia, you double check that each item is fully functional.

You lost your rifle, you don't really remember when through the haze, but it's gone. That leaves your secondary as your only firearm, a custom Matt-black M1911 SOCOM with night sights, holstered at your hip, it's fully functional, has two extra 7-round magazines aside from the one loaded. Then there's your knife, a shaving-sharp Ka-Bar with a plastic handle, sheathed upside-down in front of your left shoulder. A Leatherman multi-tool in a vest pocket. Two fragmentation grenades strapped to your vest. A small medkit, everything intact. Your radio, a broad-band self-encrypting handheld, fully functional, clipped on your back behind your left shoulder. A watch, electronic, upside down on your left wrist. Your cellphone, totally broken. Your body armor, a light ceramic plate-carrier, front and back protection. And lastly, a razorblade duct-taped to the bottom of your watch, which you sincerely hope you'll never have to use.

Everything except the cellphone is functional; there's a few rips in the plate carrier, and some dust fond it's way into the 1911's chamber, but they still function. A small miracle.

Your paranoia somewhat abated, the next matter is location; yours currently being what looks like an abandoned electronics shop, based on the various ancient TV's and decades-old phones on shelves and in display cases. The team splayed about the room, engaged in various self-care or post-battle activities.

So you're in an electronics shop, but where? Instinctively you reach for your phone, only to be reminded that it is just as broken as it was ten seconds ago. It's GPS isn't much use. Someone else has to have a functional device.

Crunch is sitting on top of an old box TV in a corner, staring attentively at at the floor, holding his chin thoughtfully, and swaying gently back and forth. You can't tell if he's deep in thought or having a silent emotional breakdown. Maybe both. Either way, he seems the least busy of your team members, and so you bother him first, "Crunch, where are we?" Your tone is deadpan, almost callous. Normally, you might try to sound supportive or empathetic, but you're far too close to an emotional breakdown yourself to be worried about others right now.

"An electronics store." His answer comes immediately and without emotion. He doesn't bother to stop swaying, or to look at you, he doesn't even blink. And for a moment, you think you might have imagined him speaking at all.

You pinch the bridge of your nose, "Thank you, captain obvious. Astute and helpful as always, the fuck would we do without you?" You hiss sardonically.

"Bleed to death."

You sigh, "Let me see your phone."

Still holding his chin, still not looking at you, still rocking gently, he retrieves his phone with his free hand and extends it to you, slowly.

You grab it somewhat impatiently and start to turn and walk away, but Crunch grabs your forearm, gently, almost pleadingly. When he looks up from the floor his eyes are searching, lost. "Do you blame him?" His voice is soft, tentative, like he doesn't really expect an answer. Or like he doesn't want one.

When the response comes, your tone is soft, "No. No I don't."

Crunch keeps staring, his eyes searching your features for some kind of answer. "Do you think he deserved it?"

Your tone becomes harsh, and your expression hardens, "No one deserves it, that's why this job is so fucking hard." You close your eyes and release a small sigh, "But I think he wanted it, deep down."

A pause, then, wordlessly and never breaking eye contact, Crunch slowly lets go of your arm. So slowly, as if that touch was the only thing between him and the abyss.

His gaze shifts off of you, and down to his hands, which he holds before his face, trembling. "Do no harm." He mutters to himself, so quietly you barely catch it. Then he looks back up at you, "I think we might deserve it, Karma. I think deep down, we all want it."

You don't know what to say to that, so you hold the silence. But even the silence is deafening. Accusing.

You're done with this conversation.

Crunch's device is straightforward: a PDA, some years outdated, but running all the essential modern applications. Among them military GPS software.

You open the program, and are immediately greeted with a "no signal" message.

That doesn't make any sense, you're familiar with this program, you've used it in ass-end spots all over the world; you were told that multiple satellites were orbiting over the AO, connection should be perfect.

Something isn't right.

You check the local signal: no discrepancies. Either the Russians have a magical new jammer up and running, or they're not interfering.

In fact, there are several routers within range, one in particular appears to be the local Communications Hub for the Russians. You could try hacking into it; not only would it allow you to connect to the Internet and find your location, but you might also collect valuable Intel, it is a Communications Hub after all, and this is your area of expertise.

But it would be risky, if they caught on they might trace the hack and find you.

Maybe you should consult Lead. But then again, maybe you shouldn't. This is your area of expertise, not his.
No. 942600 ID: 094652

Tell Lead ASAP. But also put 'sending an SOS to the Russians' on the table. Obviously an international incident will @#$% things up even more, but at this point, you adversary has a higher level than you; either they have the tech / intel / luck to blackout military-grade hardware, or there's a mole in Mission Control. Or worse. Teaming up to uncover a conspiracy earns brownie points for the troops on both sides, so they have incentive to help.
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