Two Tribes

Two Tribes

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11

A week had passed since Anders had rejoined Malthus. He could tell that this day would be different from the others when he was awoken at 3 o'clock in the morning. He put his glasses on, only to see Veiko standing over him. He was a little shocked at first but quickly regained his composure.

"Today's the day, Glass. Are you ready to take the fight to them?"

"Goddamnit Veiko. I guess your social skills went away with that arm, eh? Why so early?" Anders groaned, getting out of bed.

"We have to fly to Nevada. That takes time. Did some of that radiation get to your brain?"

"No, genius. I'm barely conscious." Anders proceeded to trade out his glasses for the pair of prescription sunglasses which gave him his nickname. Veiko left the room, giving him time to change into a BDU and put on a kevlar vest. Anders then grabbed the AK Jim had given him, heading into the main room of the compound. He saw no one, but the strong scent of coffee emanating from the briefing room seemed to indicate everyone was there.

"Great. ANOTHER conference on the same mission…" Anders muttered as he walked in.

As Anders entered the room, he could see that everyone had arrived before him. He took the last remaining open seat. He saw a pot of coffee on the table, as well as an unused mug. He smiled, pouring a cup of coffee for himself. He needed it. "Am I late?"

"Not at all, mate. If anything, Enzo's late. Still charging. hmph" Jim replied in a sarcastic tone. When he did, Enzo jolted upward.

"I was charging. Feel the need to correct you there. Anyways, You're not late. Veiko insisted on waking everyone one by one." Enzo cut in. "Anyways, should we go over the mission now?"

"Absolutely. Now, we have received new information since last week's briefing. It has bee confirmed that we don't need radiation suits. Anders's AEP buddies sent over a device to get rid of most of the radiation at the site. This also means there's going to be an increased MST presence. Our mission to collect anomalies still stands, but we also have a secondary objective…"

Veiko then placed a piece of paper on the wall, drawing a rather crude looking gold bar on it. "It's hard to draw when you only have one hand that won't shred the paper. According to our sources, large deposits of what appears to be gold has appeared in the area. It might be anomalous, but our current reports claim otherwise. The Authority is certainly going to be after said gold, so it might prove to be a valuable distraction."

"Right. Why are we going so early? it's not like we're going to beat the Authority." Anders asked, sounding a little annoyed.

"You know, that is a very good point. Still, we're all up, and we might as well go now. Any more questions, Anders? "

"No, sir."

"Good. I suppose everyone's ready then?"

At that moment, everyone had agreed, resulting in a rather loud "Yes Sir!". Jim ran for the VTOL, wanting to get it powered up as fast as possible. Everyone else checked their weapons, enthusiastic looks on their faces. Anders, despite being there for a week, felt out of place. He felt like he didn't belong. He didn't really care, however. He'd do anything to fight the Authority. Jim came back, notifying the squad that the VTOL was ready. Anders was the last to board, taking a seat next to Enzo.

The 4-hour flight to the ruins of Site-014 was rather uneventful and was oddly silent. No one really spoke to each other to pass the time. Either they were the most socially awkward people on earth, or they were sleeping with their eyes open, Anders thought. Once they approached, Anders saw the magnitude of the destruction he caused. The site was practically gone like it had been deleted from existence. Anders also noted the large Authority presence.

"Well, it looks like we're going to have quite the fight. 'Hope everyone has enough ammo."

"If we run out, we simply pick up theirs. They're better weapons anyway. Not that I need a gun to kill." Veiko laughed, motioning toward his arm.

The VTOL landed, the Malthusians running to what little cover there was. Anders followed suit, scouting ahead. He took a look at the Authority personnel, noticing that they had different equipment. His attention then gravitated towards an MST operator with a FAMAS. As soon as he saw the rifle, Anders knew what MST they had sent.

"Goddamnit, they sent in the frogs! that means-" Anders was cut off by Enzo.

"Is anyone surprised? I called it a week ago." Enzo shrugged, taking the scouting job from Anders.

"Typical Authority. They'll send her even when it's just one of us. Probably just to save resources, or maybe out of fear. I can guarantee I've had to fight them more than anyone here." Dana spoke. Anders looked surprised, expecting her to keep quiet as usual.

"I think that's all the intel we need. Are we ready to strike?" Anders asked, readying his AK.

"We should be. Let's do this!" exclaimed Veiko. at that moment, all the Malthusians had drawn their weaponry. Anders followed suit. The assault had begun. Anders had begun shooting, running for cover. He knew that Malthus was heavily outnumbered, and that would probably not win. The Authority began to fight back, and they fought hard. A hail of gunfire was concentrated on Anders's position. He was the high-value target, and they'd probably ignore the others to take out him.

Anders turned on his comms, having a panic attack. "I need fire support! I repeat! I need support!" He yelled. He was hyperventilating. He initially got no response, until Enzo came running to the position. Enzo deployed a machine gun, suppressing the MST's fire. "You're welcome!" Enzo stated, letting out a little laugh.

"Thanks for saving my ass," Anders replied, letting out a little sigh of relief.

"Eh, you're not safe yet. We're in a combat zone, remember?"

"Yeah, I do. No need to state the obvious, Enzo."

Anders fired a few rounds back, before retreating to cover once more. He heard a new voice in his comms, which sounded rather distressed It was Jim.

"Lads, I'm being attacked by something! They're not MST! I repeat, they're not-"

Jim's transmission was cut off by the sounds of screaming in pain. Anders could hear a fire crackling in the background.

"Goddamnit. We have two things to deal with now…" Enzo groaned.

"That's your biggest concern? Jim is probably dying and we're not helping him!" Anders exclaimed, worried about his friend's life.

"That too, you didn't let me finish."

"Well fuck that! I'm going after Jim! Keep 'em distracted, will ya?!" Anders began to run towards Jim's last position, dodging gunfire along the way. He eventually reached the site it was too late. Jim was dead. Anders found the nearest piece of cover, almost having a breakdown. He kept his pace, staying on the mission. He looked out of cover, and he saw what Jim was talking about

It was an anomaly. They looked kind of like MST units, but something was... off. They were attacking the Authority's forces, appearing to create fires to do so. Anders then realized the magnitude of his actions. This anomaly was his creation. He's responsible for Jim's death. He turned on the comms, still breathing heavily.

"Hostile anomalies in the AO! we might have to ally with the Authority for a little! I know no-one wants to, but we're going to die otherwise!" Anders yelled.

"I guess…" Veiko then began to mutter about how much he hates the Authority. Anders just knew he was going to fire upon them anyway.

Anders watched as the gunfire ended, restarting pointing at the anomalies. Neither side had officially declared peace, but now they were fighting in unison. Had it not been the Authority that he so vehemently despised, Anders might've called it beautiful. Anders had an idea, and that idea was using the unofficial truce as a distraction. He began searching for those deposits of gold mentioned briefing. Anders proceeded to desert the squad, and thus the battle, in search of these valuable deposits.

As his luck usually turned out, he had found some. On the VTOL ride to the ruins, each member of the Church was given a streak plate to test the gold-like substance, to confirm if it was actually gold. Anders struck the material on the plate, only to be left in disappointment. The metal had left a greenish-black streak. It was pyrite. nothing. Anders deserted his squad for a bunch of worthless rocks. However, he would manage to find something to make up for it.

The battle in the distance had kicked up a rather large dust cloud, blocking Anders's vision for a short moment. When the cloud subsided, he had spotted a lone Authority agent, appearing to be a commander of an MST. Anders had recognized the man, seeing at Site-014 on multiple occasions. It was one Vadim Berezin, the leader of the Authority forces at the Gobi campaign. He was responsible for countless Malthus deaths and was one of their high-priority targets. Vadim attempted to fire at Anders, finding his pistol to be empty. Anders knew that Vadim wasn't going to fire anyway, knowing that he was also an AEP member. In fact, he was the one who got Anders in AEP. Anders raised his AK, taking Vadim hostage.

Anders thought it was the right time to announce his capture to Veiko, he turned on his earpiece, only to hear loud yelling.

"Where the fuck are you! We're taking heavy fire once more because of you!" He sounded pissed.

"You'll see. Meet me at VTOL." Anders replied, before turning off his earpiece. Anders began moving toward the VTOL, with Berezin oddly not resisting. Once he got there, he was met with a very angry look from Veiko. He noticed that Sergei was missing, as well.

"Where's Sergei?" he asked

"He died because of you. I can't fucking believe it. We lost two men over fucking nothing. We captured no anomalies, and that "gold" you found is useless! This is all your fault! however, I think I do know a way that you can redeem yourself. We will discuss this at the base. Enzo, I want you to take care of the one thing Anders didn't manage to fuck up!" Anders noticed that his commander had calmed down over time, making him less worried. Enzo proceeded to restrain Vadim, bringing him into the VTOL.

Just as the flight to the ruins had been, the retreat was uneventful. Anders heard silence once more, but this time he knew why. He was surrounded by angry faces (with the only exception being Enzo, who had no face, to begin with.) He could easily tell that he had fucked up. Once the VTOL had successfully returned to the base, Anders was the last to get out. After all, he was instructed to do so just before the flight ended.

He had entered the base, being instructed to sit down. Now, he had a new task. He was told to sit down, only to feel a sharp pain on his shoulder. He looked back, only to see that Veiko had poked him using his mutated arm. "Now listen. I want you to interrogate Berezin. Do not shoot him. He could be a vital asset to us. You better not fuck this up. Got it?!" Veiko's tone sounded like one of concern and anger, as opposed to his usual cold, direct tone of orders.
"I understand," Anders replied, clearly unnerved.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, Anders was told that the interrogation was ready. He nodded, walking into the interrogation room. He sat down, beginning to record a log as he did so, he felt unnerved. Veiko was watching him closely, and Vadim was silent. Anders didn't know why, and just thought he would use standard interrogation questions.

"Hello, Berezin" Anders was immediately cut off by the man, who finally began to speak after a long period of silence.

"And hello to you, Sivertsen. Long-time no see, Eh?"

"Stop playing nice, Vadim. This is serious. Now, tell me about the Authority's secrets." Anders's quote was met with loud laughing from Vadim.

"You think I know anything?! I know just as much as you, Sivertsen! I'm useless! Now, I'm just going to sit here and laugh through your questions. I know that either you, R2D2, or bootleg prototype over there is going to kill me anyway. It's a waste."

"You seriously know nothing, Vadim? You're higher than I was!" Anders then punched Vadim in the face, still expecting answers.

"Not at all, buddy. What do you think I am? Global director? Hell no. In fact, I'm pretty sure that you know more than me! You were a researcher, Sivertsen! The only thing they let me know is when they're going to give all their funding to damn frogs again! Y'know, Sivertsen, You may have killed thousands of people, but you still haven't changed from your clumsy researcher days." Vadim laughed, With Anders beginning to smile, his tone quickly shifted back to his serious composure.

"I have to ask you something, Vadim. Not a Malthus question, but one of my own. You want people to be ignorant of anomalies? To just stay in the dark while the Authority controls everything under their noses?! I don't understand that"

"Absolutely. Do you know what would happen if the world knew? Mass hysteria, panic, riots, revolutions, and so on. I know it sounds like something the damn union would do, but it's the right thing to do. Imagine if you woke up knowing that there was a world-eating force, a god of chaos, and so on. You would probably start killing people in the streets, no? Personally, I'd go get some vodka and fucking run over shit in a tank. That would be fun, no?"

Vadim's tone quickly got quieter, most likely trying to hide something from the recording. "Anyways, That was bull. we both know how we truly feel."

"I guess you have a point. Are you going to talk, Vadim?"

"I told you, I genuinely have nothing to talk about here. I know that fap arms are probably gonna come in here and kill me anyway so you might as well do it for him. I know he told you not to, but who cares what a damn Estonian thinks? Don't even know how he got a leadership position anyway. They're usually too incompetent. Nice to see you again, Sivertsen, even though you're a monster. Now, I just ask one thing of you. Kill me, now."

"Are you sure, Vadim? That risks my life too!"

"That's the point! Heh heh heh." Vadim closed his eyes, waiting for Anders to shoot him. He didn't.

"No, Vadim. I do believe this is over." Anders replied, before attempting to walk out of the interrogation room. He was blocked by Veiko.

"Anders, you're a disappointment. You let two of own die, capture a bloke who knows nothing and then talk nicely with him. Are you an Authority spy?! I believe you're going to die soon, Anders!" Veiko exclaimed, holding his claw to Anders's throat. When he did, Vadim opened his eyes, looking at Veiko.

"He's not a spy, fap arm. We wouldn't let thousands of our own die simply for a spy mission. We have more spies in here anyway, like R2D2 over there."

When Vadim said this, Veiko charged towards Enzo. "Good distraction, Eh?" Vadim muttered.

"Yeah. That robot isn't. In the meantime, Sivertsen, I have to ask you why. Why did you do it?" Anders heard a clicking noise, then saw a light appear near Vadim's head.

Anders, knowing that Veiko was eventually going to cut him down, prepared a lie. "I believe in the cause of Malthus. They sent me, told me to blame it all on AEP, and then come back. Obviously, they didn't account for me coming back."

"Thanks for sharing. The global directors are going to have a field day with this information. I was recording too" Vadim laughed before a loud bang could be heard in an adjacent room.

"I know I want you dead for your atrocities, Anders, but at least you're honest about them. That's sort of respectable, I suppose." When he said this, Vadim turned off the Authority's cameras.

"Now, Let's get out of here, yeah?" Vadim motioned Anders toward his restraints. He released them, smiling. Vadim loaded his pistol, running for the exit, Anders following. the two heard the footsteps getting louder and louder, knowing they had to run. "You know to fly the VTOL, yes?" Anders asked.

"Yeah, but we're gonna get ripped into shreds if we do that. We'll find another way."

Anders and Vadim reached the exit, searching for any means of escape. The two found a jeep painted in Malthus symbols. They reluctantly decided to use it, knowing it was the only way out. Vadim hotwired the jeep, motioning for Anders to get in. When he did, Veiko reached the exit. Vadim began driving away as fast as he could, looking in the mirror.

"So, Vadim, where are we going?" Anders asked, noticing that Veiko had lost them.

"I know a place."

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