The cool evening air that was rushing past her felt blissful as she raced to beat Ordo to the restaurant. With her hair whipping around behind her from under her helmet and her tail flowing in the wind from the sheer speed that she was traveling. The rush of adrenaline was intoxicating, with each turn and each obstacle in the road Arctic craved for more.
Coming to a stop at a traffic light she ponders if ShadowFox could maybe kick a small contract or two her way every once in a while. She had become addicted to the adrenaline high that came with each mission. She could still remember her last real mission.
She was still working alone as a solo wet works asset. She was contacted out to assassinate a cartel kingpin by a couple of United Nations types, of course it was all cloak and dagger and no one would ever admit that they had any involvement. She had planned out everything, a schedule, an impress, an egress, backups for both, and schematics of the complex as well as each building. She took days for observation and intel gathering. Everything was going like clockwork and once she felt comfortable with her plan she took action.
Armed with a suppressed sniper rifle and a suppressed sub-machine gun she snuck onto the complex. She exploited each camera blind spot and every gap in the patrols. Her timing had to be flawless and she couldn't afford to deviate in any manner, moving too fast or too slow could end up with her getting caught. There were too many patrols to risk killing anyone before reaching her objective. Once she finally got in her preplanned place to take her shot Arctic quickly grabbed her sniper rifle and dropped into a prone position and waited.
Right on schedule her target appeared in her crosshairs. She held her breath as she depressed the trigger and watched as her target's chest erupted with a red mist before its body went limp. Arctic exhales the rest of the way in relief. Now all that was left was to escape and cash in the kill. Arctic started to sling her rifle when something clicked in her head. It was the lack of panic. The boss was just killed but everyone was carrying on like nothing was out of the ordinary. Then suddenly she felt a searing pain on the back of her head then the empty blackness.
With her head throbbing Arctic tries to move her hands but can't and that's when her senses start slowly returning to a somewhat functional level. Her vision is still a blur or maybe there is something over her face she can't quite tell. There is a hand on each shoulder and another on each wrist. 'Well that explains why they wouldn't move' she thought to herself. She can tell that she is moving or rather being moved. She can feel her feet dragging across the ground. Her ankles and legs are tied so she can't get away. Now she was starting to worry. Execution didn't really scare her because she was ready for it and death would come quickly for her. No what scared her was torture, rape, and imprisonment at the hands of international criminals. She has heard the horror stories about it and wished that it would never happen to her.
Her mind started to sink into dark places that even to this day she is ashamed of, 'Maybe if I'm unruly enough they'll decide that it's not worth keeping me and they'll just kill me instead.' She tried to struggle but it didn't do any good. Her body still wasn't responding like it was supposed to. She thought about it, 'vision blurred, limbs have delayed response, sense of touch is damn near nonexistent. I've been drugged.'
Then one of her escorts speaks, "Open the doors. The boss wants to have a work with this one."
Arctic had to squint until her eyes could adjust to bright blur of the light outside. By the time that her vision adjusted to the daylight it had started to become clearer. She looked up at the escort on her left and it appeared to be an Anthromorph male, maybe a wolf, she couldn't tell completely. The one on her left was unmistakably a human male. Even though they were dragging her they almost seemed to be gentle.
They approach the front door of what she thinks is the main building and before they even have to stop one of the guards opens the door for them giving her a very dirty look. Once inside they turned down one of the smaller side corridors.
The human starts to talk to her but tries his best to not make it appear like he is. "Everyone here would love to see you tortured until you're begging for death. So we're going to take you the long way around."
"Why?" Arctic manages to ask him.
"Because the individual that you were trying to kill signs all of their paychecks. Without him no one here will see a dime. Their livelihoods are directly connected with his wellbeing." Arctic was still impressed with his ability to appear like nothing was going on. His gaze remained in front of him and his mask never moved so it didn't even look like he was talking.
"No, why are you helping me?" She asks looking up at him.
He doesn't answer her. They just continue dragging her through the building. They get to a fire escape and the Anthromorph opens the door as they drag her through. Once the door closes the Anthromorph talks to her this time, "We don't want you to get hurt here, we have two flights to climb, so we are going to carry you up them. Please don't struggle because I would rather not drop you and I think you would agree." He wasn't looking for a response and Arctic knew this.
They carefully turn her over so her back is now facing the floor. The Anthromorph positions himself behind her and scoops her up by placing both of his arms under her armpits and wrapping them around her chest. Once he has a good solid grip on her the human walks around and supports the weight of her lower body. Arctic can tell that this isn't the first time they have had to handle a body like this. They got her to the top floor and returned her back to the first position that they were dragging her in and opened the door and walked in.
Arctic instinctively started to survey the room. For the vast majority the large room was empty minus a little bit of furniture and a vast majority of armed guards. Directly in front of her in the center of the room was a large conference table surrounded by large plush comfortable looking chairs. Beyond that, on a raised section of the floor, was a fine crafted business type desk. The desk top was completely empty. There was a tall chair behind the desk, it was just like the ones that were around the table, but it was facing away from the desk. The desk was silhouetted by a wall of windows and upon looking closer Arctic could see a bullet hole in one of the windowpanes.
Pleased with herself Arctic cracked a smile, 'I think that might be my bullet hole.'
The human subtlety whispers to her as they drag her past the conference table, "stay limp, and trust me." Arctic obliges.
They get to the base of the few stairs leading up to the desk's platform and stop.
"We have brought you the prisoner as requested." The Anthromorph says.
"Good," says a voice from the desk, "I've been curious to see this one."
'Wait a female?!' Arctic tried to hide her shock but must have failed because she felt a sharp pain from a hand squeezing her collar bone. 'I was informed that a human male was in charge here.'
"Yet another one that fell for the patsy." The woman stands up and gingerly walks around the desk. Leaning on the desk she looks down at Arctic and chuckles, "I believe you owe me a new window. What's the matter, surprised?"
"We're sorry but she is still affected by the drug." The Anthromorph male says as he grabs Arctic's limp head by the hair and picks it up for his boss to see her dazed expression. "I think that the dosage was too high for her."
Their boss laughs and her laugh is a little unsettling to Arctic. "Well with any luck we'll make another customer out of her…" She stops a second and thinks. "…or a slave depending on how hooked she gets."
The human male that's holding Arctic speaks up, "But boss the drug is still being refined couldn't that be dangerous?"
"Silence worm! Remember you have no right to question me. You're still new here as far as I'm concerned! The only reason that I won't have you punished for that is because you're talented. There is you're only free pass." She fixes her hair from her little rant and composes herself, "But yes you are right it is still in the developmental stages. All of my junkies are the test subjects and well we still don't know about overdoses yet so she'll make for a great example." She returns to her chair and sits down. "Take her back to her cell. I can't question her in this state. Once she starts to come down off of her high I'll interrogate her." She dismisses them and the two escorts drag Arctic out of the room.
Once they were back in the side corridor on the first floor Arctic thanks both of her escorts because she realizes that they saved her back in that office. The only acknowledgement she receives is a gentle squeeze on her hand from the human guard.
They make the remainder of the trip to her cell in silence. They get back into the building that Arctic thinks that she woke up in at the start of her first day of captivity. One of the room's door is already open and they drag her straight into it. It was completely empty except for a pair of shackles that are secured to the back wall of the room. Her escorts secure her wrists in the shackles and exit the room in silence closing the door behind them. Arctic tries to struggle for a little knowing that it wasn't going to get her very far. Just as she expected the only thing that happened was her shackles made a large amount of noise as they rattled.
A car horn startles Arctic a little as she looks up and sees the light has turned green. "How long have I just been sitting here?" She quickly throws her bike into gear and takes off through the intersection. 'Good thing there isn't too much traffic through the park tonight.' No longer caring if she lost the bet, and to prevent any farther daydreaming, arctic pulls into one of the pavilions along the road to finish reliving a memory that forever changed her life. She parks her bike and after taking off her helmet she lays down on one of the tables looking up through the trees at the sky.
At intervals one, and sometimes both, of her escorts would come and check up on her. Bringing her food and water when she needed it and even occasionally unlocking her so her body could rest. However the next visit wasn't going to be so pleasant. Hearing the door unlatch Arctic looks up to see her two 'friends' enter the room except this time they have a medical syringe and a few other supplies with them. 'This is it the start of the end for me.' She thinks to herself but being well trained and proud she steeled herself and refused to give them the pleasure of fear or suffering from her. The entire time they walked across the room toward her she didn't shift her gaze from them.
The human prepped her arm with a swab while the Anthromorph filled the syringe with a clear fluid. With the human holding her arm still the Anthromorph then proceeded to stick her in the arm and inject her with the fluid. Then like a well-trained medical practitioner removed the syringe and replaced it with a dressing before any of the crimson blood had a chance to soak into her ivory fur. As the Anthromorph cleaned up the supplies the human started to massage her arm to work the solution into her body faster. Then once Arctic finally thinks that they are done the Anthromorph turns around with a butterfly needle and vile used for drawing blood. That's when she notices that the human is firmly holding her arm still again. The Anthromorph moves her bandage and carefully lines the needle up with the hole already in her arm. Then just as he has it placed up against her arm he slips a small canister out of his pocket. It's already full of blood. He then sticks the needle into the canister and fills the vile from it instead of from her arm. Once the vile is full he carefully slips the canister back into his pocket and they replace her bandage. Still confused Arctic blankly stares at them as they pack up and leave the room once again.
A few hours pass and Arctic surprisingly doesn't feel any different. 'I thought they were going to test the effects of an overdose on me?' She starts to ponder what is really going on. 'There is something different with those two. Maybe I can use that to my advantage and try to get out of here.'
A few more hours pass and she starts to think that it has been a while since she has seen her 'friends' but then again they got what they wanted so why should they come back. Finally, much to her dismay, the inevitable happens and she needs to relieve herself. Refusing to relinquish her dignity she called out for a guard. There is no answer. She calls out again and this time she gets answered by a scruffy, "What bitch?" and she can hear the guard approaching the door. Then the power goes out in the building. Arctic can hear hurried footsteps followed by the muffled sounds of a struggle. The door to her cell opens and two rays of light pour into the room from a pair of tactical flashlights.
The two move into her room like a tactical team with the second one quickly turning around and taking a covering position at the door. Before approaching Arctic the first slings his rifle, draws a suppressed pistol and fires two shots into opposite corners of the room. He quickly kneels next to Arctic and starts removing her bindings.
"We're here to get you out of here." He says to her.
The ample light from his flashlight gives away enough of his features that Arctic realizes that it's her Anthromorph friend. "Wait who are you?"
"There is no time for that now. We'll answer your questions later." He grabs her hand and places it on his arm. "Stay with me." Arctic nods that she understands.
They stack up next to the door and the Anthromorph taps the human on the shoulder to let him know that they are ready. The human then peels out of the room and aims his rifle down the hallway. While the Anthromorph and Arctic quickly peels out of the room in the opposite direction. As soon as they are clear of the room the human, with his rifle still aiming down the hallway, starts backpedaling to keep up with them.
The trio makes it to the confiscated equipment room and after a little time fighting with the lock they get into the room. Not until the door closes behind them do they relax. They set up the flashlights to make them into crude lanterns so they can see around the room.
The two walk over to a trunk in the corner and place their weapons next to it as they open it revealing a mess of tactical equipment. "Your gear is over there." The human tells her as he points to one of the racks. Arctic hears but it takes a few seconds to register what he told her that's when her intensive training kicked in and hurries over to it.
The two remove all of their current gear and Arctic can't help but look when they pull off their masks. She can only see them from behind. The human is bald with no distinctive markings but the Anthromorph is a different story completely. He had black fur and the tips of his ears were red. That's when he removed the tactical cover from his tail and revealed the same colors. Then they pulled very unique looking gear out of the trunk and started putting it on. Arctic pulled back into her professional mindset and got ready herself.
Arctic realizes that it was after sunset. "I've been sitting here for too long." She gets up and throws her helmet back on. "I don't mind if I lose the bet but I don't want them to have to wait for me." She climbs back onto her bike and accelerates down the road through the trees.
Well Arctic still beats Ordo to the restaurant. She walks through the door and sees Felecia and KrystalBlaze sitting at the central bar and waiting area.
"Arctic!" KrystalBlaze calls out to her in surprise as she sees her. "We didn't know that you were coming or we would have made a larger reservation."
Arctic sits down next to her and flags the barkeep. "Why? How many did you think were coming?"
"We thought it was only going to be ShadowFox and Ordo. ShadowFox only told us that we needed a reservation for four and he didn't say anything about you coming."
Arctic looks at her sympathetically, "I'm sorry dear but I don't think he's coming."
KrystalBlaze deflates a little but rebounds rather quickly, "Well it's his loss then." She says with a smile.
Felecia leans around KrystalBlaze and excitedly asks Arctic where Ordo is at.
"That much I don't know. We took different routes. I took the side roads through Settler's Park and Nevillewood. I think he might have taken the parkway so traffic pending he shouldn't be too long." The barkeep walks over and takes Arctic's drink order. "He was already heading downtown to the club."
KrystalBlaze looks at Arctic after thinking for a second, "Isn't there a concert at the arena tonight?"
Then they hear Ordo's voice from the direction of the door. "Yes there is. It took me forever to get to the Carnegie exit."
"Just in time," Arctic tells him, "I just ordered my drink."
Now that the entire party is present KrystalBlaze goes to tell the hostess that they are ready to be seated.
Arctic notices a white furred wolf-breed Anthromorph across the bar that is staring at them very intently and makes a mental note of her before joining the others at their table.
They all placed their orders then Felecia, KrystalBlaze, and Ordo sunk into small talk while they waited but Arctic kept an eye out for the wolf from the bar. There was something about that wolf that didn't sit well with Arctic. The other three leave her alone because they mistake her caution for a desire to not be included.
Arctic's seclusion from the group gives her another chance to drift into memory.
Once they were all geared up the other two approaches Arctic and ask her if she's ready to go.
"Before I go anywhere I want some answers damnit!" She demands.
"Fair enough," they answer, "But they'll have to be fast because our mission window is rapidly closing."
"First off who are you?"
The Anthromorph points at himself, "Fox" then at his partner, "Ordo. We're here under contract. Much like yourself, if I'm guessing correctly. However if I'm correct you were hired to kill the boss here and that's how you got caught."
"What do you mean that's how I got caught? And you two aren't here to kill her?"
Ordo answers her first question. "Just like everyone else, except those very close to the boss, you thought that the individual in charge here was a human male. Even our original intel said that it was a male. The worm that you bought your intel from sold you out at the start. He gave you everything you would need to know to get to the perfect sniper position and then gave all of it to the boss. So long story short, they were waiting for you."
Then Fox answered her other question. "I can assume you were hired to eliminate the kingpin because he is developing and distributing a new kind of highly addictive super drug. Well we were hired to find out more about the drug. So far this is the only known group that is distributing the drug so either they make it or they have exclusive testing privileges."
"So then why were you guarding me and keeping me a prisoner like that?" Arctic asks them wearily.
Fox answers her question kind of avoiding the topic, "We had to do anything and everything possible to climb up the ladder here. Because once they trusted us it would become easier for us to get information."
Ordo, feeling slightly ashamed, tells her the rest. "And capturing you was the final little push that we needed to find out the information that we wanted."
Outraged Arctic demanded the truth, "Was I set up from the start?!"
Fox continues "No, but your arrival came at the perfect time for us. We were there when you were sold out to the boss. So after the snitch was dismissed we caught up to him and persuaded him to tell us everything. Then we worked out the best possible routes for someone to get through the security and kept a close watch on all of them."
"You are very good though we must admit. You waited long enough that we almost gave up looking for you. Then by shear dumb luck, on the night that you came to assassinate the boss, we caught the smallest glimpse of you after you were already half way through the complex. Then we tried to follow you, and that was no easy task either. By the time we caught up with you; you were already in position to take your shot. So thinking quickly we decided to let you take your shot before acting." Ordo adds.
ShadowFox checks his watch and then gives Ordo a nod. An explosion can be heard off in the distance shortly afterward.
"Time to move." ShadowFox says
"What was that?" Arctic asks him.
"Our distraction." Ordo answers, "We placed timed explosives on the opposite side of the complex so in theory they will all head in that direction. However it will also cause the boss to go into hiding so we have to get to her before that happens."
They hurry out of the equipment room. The power is still out and the corridors are darkened with the only light coming from the few windows. But Arctic still has questions, "So we're on the same side here?"
Ordo answers from behind her as he checks into another room to make sure that it is clear, "more or less."
"But you weren't sent here to kill anyone?"
Ordo answers her again, "No we actually weren't sent here at all. But to find out information on our target we needed their help."
Arctic stops dead in her tracks causing Ordo to run into her. "How can you claim that we are on the same side?"
Ordo looks at her, "what do you mean? We're helping you right now aren't we?"
Arctic is disgusted by his question. "You two helped them kill and capture innocent good people for their drug running empire just to get information from them? I'm here to end that evil and you're helping it! As far as I see it we're enemies."
"Hey Arctic, she needs your order." KrystalBlaze taps her on the shoulder, "Arctic, your order."
Arctic snaps into awareness, "I'm sorry. I was spacing out a little bit there." She gives her order to the waitress and turns back to the trio.
"What's on your mind Arctic you're not usually like this?" KrystalBlaze asks her.
"It's nothing Marie. I'm just reliving some old memories. I promise that I'll be right back to normal by the time we get to the club." Arctic answers her with a smile.
Felecia suppresses her urge to ask Arctic what she was thinking about and much to her relief KrystalBlaze ends up asking her instead. After a few minutes of thinking it over Arctic decides to fill them in on her memory since only Ordo, Fox, and herself actually know what happened. She gave them a very simplified version of everything up until the point where they stopped her to order her meal. Arctic was kind of surprised really, because even though she was good at talking one-on-one with someone she has never really told stories like this to anyone, and here all three of them were hanging on to her every word waiting for the next. Even Ordo was listening to her very intently because even though he knew what happened he didn't know how it was from her perspective.
She continues with her story.
That's when Fox turns around and speaks up. "The world isn't that cut and dry you idealistic novice. We're here to solve the problem that you're here to make worse!"
Arctic couldn't see where ShadowFox was coming from to justify his comment.
He continues. "There are many parts to a drug ring but there are two main parts for this one since it is a new chemical drug; the supplier and the dealer. This drug is still very exclusive. As far as we were able to gather there is only one group that manufactures this drug and they gave exclusive testing and selling privileges to this group. These individuals can't make it themselves so if we eliminate the supplier then the drug dies. But if we eliminate the dealer then the supplier moves on to someone else and then we're back at square one. So yes we have helped do some bad things but all because we want to stop something bigger from ruining even more lives than the two of us ever could! Now if you're done slowing us down we have to finish our mission. Are you going to be a problem?" his voice was strong and stern.
Arctic processes everything for a moment.
"Well are you going to be a problem? Because if you are we are just going to leave you here and carry on without you." The tone in his voice hit her at the core.
Arctic looks up at him with a new understanding and new resolve. "No I won't be a problem. I want to help you end this."
Ordo places his hand on her shoulder and she turns around to look at him. He smiles at her, "Good I'm glad that you agreed we could use the help."
"Alright." ShadowFox gets them back on track, "Ordo you know what to do." Ordo gives him a swift nod. "Good. While you're doing that we'll go after the head."
Ordo looks at him, "Good hunting." and runs off down one of the halls.
ShadowFox checks the ammo count in his current magazine. "Come on let's go make sure that you still get paid." He takes a tactical stance and starts heading to the building's exit with Arctic close behind.
ShadowFox stacks on the main door and carefully checks if the way is clear. A heavy firefight can be heard in the direction of the explosion. Arctic notes that it is also the same direction that Ordo ran off to. ShadowFox sees a lone guard with his back to them and motions Arctic to wait. He quietly slings the rifle and carefully sneaks up on the guard. He grabs the guard by the neck and mouth in one swift movement then kicks the guard's legs out from under him so that the only thing keeping him up was ShadowFox's grip on his head. Then with one swift full body movement ShadowFox rotates the guard's head and body in opposite directions completely snapping his neck and killing him. ShadowFox then drags the body back inside the building so it doesn't draw attention as easily.
After he drops the body he gestures Arctic to follow him, "Come on we need to move fast."
Their path was surprisingly clear with only a few guards that ShadowFox quickly drops with quick shot groups to each of them. Arctic watches him closely as they move through the complex. He had to have trained heavily for years to get his body to react that quickly to a target. She knew competition sharpshooters that couldn't acquire and engage a target that quickly. What surprised her even more was the fact that he kept his rifle on semi-auto the entire time.
They made it to the main building and Arctic only had to use her sniper rifle twice since ShadowFox was able to clear the rest of the route himself. Arctic looks at ShadowFox once they get inside and there is no one in sight, "Where is everyone?" and as though they were on cue two fully equipped soldiers come running up to them. ShadowFox gently lowers Arctic's rifle before she can completely lift it to acquire the hostiles.
"Building secure sir," one of the soldiers says as they approach him, "It took you long enough to get here." It continued. "Who is she? Where is Smith?"
"She's with me and he went to assist the main force. So what is the situation?"
"Well just as predicted the boss is in her panic room and it is locked up tight."
"That won't be a problem will it?"
"That's why we're here, you asked for the best didn't you?" the second soldier adds cockily. "We've already got the area isolated and locked down. I'm sure you'll want to come see, this way." He motions them to follow him.
In a hushed voice Arctic asks ShadowFox a few questions. "Who are they and what are we doing here, I thought we were going after the supplier?"
"Do you remember that distraction we were talking about earlier? It was a special NATO assault team that we got to help us bring this place down and this little group here is going to break open the panic room for us so you can arrest your bounty."
Arctic looks at her audience and sums up the rest of her story, "We got in and got the bounty, they let me take the entire payoff too, and ever since that mission I've been working with this crazy duo." Arctic downs the last of her drink. "however as time passed I realized exactly how far out of my league I was and started doing less and less missions until I stopped all together."
Felecia looks at Arctic's cybernetic hand and can't help but ask, "So were you still working after that happened?"
"Yes. In fact when this happened it became a very large eye-opener to the grander scheme of things. I got wiser in many ways."
"She was the best in the business," Ordo adds in, "the talent and skills of a trained killer, the body of an Olympic gymnast, and the heart and morality of a mother. Fox and I defiantly took a hit when she called it quits."
"Oh Jake you're so full of shit!" Arctic laughs, "You guys did fine before I joined and you were still just as good without me."
"Skill wise yeah I guess you're right but sometimes we let the moment get the best of us." Ordo replies in an almost ashamed tone.
"So I've heard. Your kill percentages have just about doubled since I quit." Arctic takes a look at KrystalBlaze and smiles, "But I have faith in my replacement. Oh look our chef is here."