Starter Example Three: Initiate Rescue
Operations was in a chaotic rush. Several members of the support staff looked as though they'd suddenly lost their minds, or were terrified to lose their lives.
Something had gone very wrong and they had no idea how to fix it, but they were struggling to figure something out.
"Sit Rep..." General Hawk commanded calmly, but purposefully.
One of the technicians turned in his chair after swallowing hard.
"We lost contact with the Sergeant Major as of twenty-one hundred..." he answered nervously.
Hawk glanced down to his wrist watch, then back up at the status boards. It was currently 21:40... Nearly an hour had passed, and while he would've liked to have known much sooner, he understood why there was hesitation in telling him.
Beachhead never missed a status report or COMMs check. However, the location of his latest mission was poor as far as satellite and radio transmission was concerned. The support staff were told only to inform of problems after two missed checks.
21:45 would be the second missed report...
"Previous status report?"
"Garbled, but he confirmed his target. We put a GPS tag on his last location to record it." the tech replied.
"Replay that message."
Audio feeds lit up and the latest transmission form the dispatched Joe was pulled up.
Static and various other unidentified noises echoed through the speakers.
"Pyre... Beachhead... Located.... target... Repeat... On target..."
The southern drawl and deep tone was definitely Beachhead's. Even Zartan couldn't copy it properly without being detected for a minor flaw.
Somewhere in the middle of the recording, a muffled undertone was captured. It was the Ranger's voice again, but it was nearly impossible to make out what he'd said. There were plenty of other words left out within the static, but the phrase in question was so close to being audible it was nearly painful from strain to hear it.
"Isolate his voice." the General ordered firmly.
Without a word, the technician and one female counterpart began to cooperatively isolate the sentence and make every attempt to clean the audio. It took several minutes, and the second COMMs window came and went without a word. That now in mind, the importance of knowing what the Sergeant Major said was Priority One.
"Well?" Hawk finally inquired.
The female technician lifted her head to the larger screens before them and her fingers pressed the play button.
"Beginning now, Sir." she announced.
Static was all but gone the second time. Background noise had been reduced, but was still audible between words and behind their undertones. These backgrounds included unfamiliar voices and one rifle report towards the end.
"Pyre this is Beachhead... I've located the target... I'm not gonna make it out though... Repeat... Confirm on target..."
Every staff member felt their blood run cold in their veins. It was a chilling message, even if there was good news of the Ranger locating a Cobra field base. It was his breathless voice, exhausted tone and almost some regret to report his misfortune.
He'd been running and probably engaged in a firefight while trying to find a chance to make his report. Whether injured or not was unknown, but the gunshots and voices only confirmed that he'd been found and was in immediate danger.
The General felt his shoulders tense and every fiber of his being become on full alert and on edge.
"I wanted a rescue team yesterday! Get me the first four available Joes and fly them out, NOW! Divert Snake-Eyes from his assignment and get him out there too! I want my drill instructor home before morning mess! Do you understand?"
"Ye'sir!" the entire room responded.
Quickly, the staff rushed to work and prepared the proper personnel, equipment and orders.
'Hold on, Sergeant Major...' Hawk murmured mentally to himself.
Pain flooded the left side of his head just shy of his temple. His skull had already been pounding from the impact with the butt of an assault rifle to his face, thus a blow from a set of knuckles only intensified the agony and further dulled his senses.
His focus lagged, unable to comprehend the images of lights, shadows, colors and even solid figures surrounding him. Sounds were all white noise at this point, joined by the feeling of heaviness and a tingle of numbness in through his body. He couldn't tell if he was bleeding or from where; suffering broken bones at any point; bruised on the surface or deep in muscle; or if he even had any injuries at all.
The last thing he remembered was seeing Scarface's hollow eyes meet his, then the hard rubber pad of the gun stock.
He'd tried to run after his presence was made, but Intel hadn't been as accurate as anyone hoped. There had been far more Troopers and high ranked Vipers than expected, not to mention Cobra had done a rather impressive job of fortifying the landscape with mines, trenches, pit fall traps, and strategically placed cover blinds to surround and contain any intruders or traitors. He was good at infiltration and covert-ops and he was better than most at escaping a blind situation, but even he wasn't inhuman.
He'd run for hours and over every type of terrain except for sandy desert. He'd taken out a large number of hostiles, but not enough to keep him out of trouble. He'd finally run out of breath, out of stamina and out of ammunition. He'd been forced to accept his fate and stand his ground as long as possible, only falling when his fatigue and heavy body slowed his reflexes and allowed Scarface to surprise him.
His next memory, and the most recent, was the blurry vision of a dimly lit room, illuminated by a single, grunge covered bulb above his head. Two solid shadows stood just out of arms' length from him, though he was just able to comprehend restrains keeping his arms and legs tied down to the wobbly metal chair he was sitting. One figure was undoubtedly Major Bludd after taking in his distinctive frame and the reflection of a single eye.
The other figure, however, was harder to judge. It was familiar and yet his brain didn't want to admit what he was seeing.
Shaking the pain and unwanted thoughts from his head, as well as trying to return his loose senses to their proper places after the impact of a fist, Beachhead did his best to just listen and hope that time was on his side.
Bludd's voice was muffled in his bloody and bruised ears...
"I know a few things about pain, Beachhead... Controlling pain is controlling the world." the Aussie began neutrally.
Somehow, the Ranger's brain was able to keep up despite the pounding headache and scrambled senses.
Irony was the first thing he could think of.
"Cobra Commander controls you like a dog, Bludd..." he scoffed.
Another blow that came from the shadow of denial standing beside the Major. This time, blood welled within his mouth and the back of his throat. The Ranger was forced to cough to prevent passage into his lungs, but that turned into a mouthful that he couldn't and wouldn't contain. Thus, he spat the collection of blood onto the floor between his scuffed and muddy boots.
His eyes glanced up towards his abuser, his mind finally wrapping around what he was seeing and becoming victim to. He was being beaten by one of his own... A fellow G.I. Joe...
The thought made him tiredly smile and chuff.
Senile, perhaps, but what else was he supposed to do? The one thing he never planned to happen was happening. A traitor was never in the cards. He and the other Joes always thought that a traitor in the ranks was above them, almost like they were immune to it. Clearly he was witness that even they had horrifying secrets within their unit.
"I know a few things too..." he began in a low tone, though a knowing, mocking smile spread across his swollen and split lips and his eyes locked onto Major Bludd in a challenging glower.
"I know you underestimate me... I know you don't have enough guards to keep me here... So yer gonna have ta kill me..."
Almost instinctively after the words were out, Beachhead found himself bracing for another blow, but one didn't come when expected.
Bludd had to turn his head towards his accomplice and motion for the strike.
Chuckles, as he was now clearly revealed to be, grinned in a sadistically satisfied expression. He stepped forward and recoiled his right arm, then discharged a powerful hook that landed squarely against his former CO's face.
The force was enough to nearly give the Ranger whiplash, as well as almost send the chair toppling over backwards.
"I know pain makes you see the world differently. That you're not the elite... That you need to be controlled. And yes... you will die."
Unfazed by the threat of death, as well as feeling nothing but the desire to go out mocking his enemies, the Drill Instructor started laughing.
Chuckles unloaded an array of blows with Bludd's permission.
By the end, the Joe was barely conscious with agony radiating up and down his spine, neck, limbs and head. Each wave of pain sent a tingling numbness through his limbs and torso, making breathing as equally horrendous. His other senses were also nearly gone as his face was swelling enough to narrow his nostrils and close his eyes, as well as fill his ears. Each breath also carried with it the rattle of blood in his throat and the taste of iron across his tongue.
The Cobra officer retrieved his side arm from its holster, armed the chamber with a loud click of the slide, turned the safety off and placed the barrel of the weapon to his captive's right temple.
Instead of pulling the trigger, however, he seemed to have a second and much more appropriate thought. He turned to his companion and offered the weapon.
"Take the gun Chuckles." he began in a calm, but commanding tone.
The former CIA agent complied rather quickly.
"Time to prove your worth. Release yourself to Cobra."
Everything just went from bad to worse. It was bad enough Chuckles was involved the way he was, but now it was about to get even more horrifying. Death by Cobra was at least how it was supposed to go, but Death by Joe was not acceptable.
Even in pain and weak the Ranger seemed to perk up with the realization of what was about to happen.
The pistol barrel became perfectly aligned with the center of his forehead. The face behind it half grinned in a dark, almost disturbed fashion.
"No time for mercy, Wayne."
Typically the use of his name would frustrate the Ranger, but all he could do was accept what was happening. He couldn't help but continue to grin in defiance and yet some disbelief. He wasn't going to give them any satisfaction of rattling his resolve, but he sure as hell wasn't immune to feeling some surprise considering.
"You always were a snake." he snorted.
Chuckles shrugged, seemingly unrattled by the mockery.
"They've got a better dental plan." he responded casually, half shrugging.
Both men locked eyes at that point, one defiantly, the other with sinister intentions. The Ranger was unwilling to lower his pride or show fear, but his captor seemed even more amused by that idea, and would be even more satisfied once the bullet went through his former CO...