Up until today I’d never experienced or seen a Shadowtask mission first hand. Any time Caine or Locke roamed out into the city I was never told what it was for, even though I'd asked a couple of times. The secrecy of what they do seems important, and it wasn't until Data took me to see Solai recently that Shadowtask seemed willing to share more details.
I didn't rest much last night, Data and Caine came into my living quarters at around 1:30 am to brief me on my first mission as part of this team. They explained that my first assignment was an interception mission, the type of operation carried out by Caine multiple times in the past, this time, however, Caine and I would be working together.
I asked for more details and turned on my audio recorder as Data continued:
"Locke uncovered some intel previously that leads us to believe that a 'transaction' will take place at around 4 am, between a gang known as the Red Dogs and another unidentified party. This is supposed to happen near the east border gate of the Dark District, near the inner city waterway."
The Red Dogs? I asked.
Caine continued: "They're a bunch of low-level street thugs with a history of theft and violence. Recently they've been selling tech manufactured by Arketeq on the black market inside the Dark District, mainly forged identity chips and false credit balances. However, the word on the street is that the Red Dogs have got their hands on some rare tech, something that could be very valuable to the right buyer. Which means tonight is their lucky night."
Data continued by explaining the mission, projecting a 3d render onto my desk showing objectives and highlighting the predicted transaction interception point. The location wasn't too far from here, just over 3 miles, most of which Caine and myself would cover in one of the autonomous vehicles I travelled in previously. He showed me two neon lines, one red and one blue, these represented Caine and Myself, with Caine being the red one. These lines start at the same destination and remain together for about 3 miles before separating very close to the destination. Caine explained that we would need to split off from each other and that it would be my job as we approach the target location to monitor the interception from up top, from the safety of an apartment block rooftop.
It sounded do-able, on my behalf at least... although I'll be honest, I felt uneasy right up until it was time to leave. Data told me to get some rest before leaving my living quarters, Caine told me to 'prepare' for a workout. Needless to say, I spent the next couple of hours thinking about what was ahead of me, with no real clue about what to expect.
I slept for no longer than 35 minutes before Caine shouted to me from the other side of my living quarter's door, "It's time man, let's see what you're made of!". I looked over at the holo-clock on my desk, it was 2:45 am and I had 15 minutes to get myself organised before we had to leave, although I slept with my clothes on to save time once I woke up. Caine let himself into the room and threw an earpiece at me "Put this in your ear, we'll use this to communicate with each other as well as the rest of Shadowtask.". I placed the earpiece inside my ear, "Ok, you need to sync your earpiece to a host named S T 4 9 8' and wait for an audio confirmation message.". I repeated what Caine told me and waited for the message, once connected we tested the earpieces as we made our way to the mission briefing area where the rest of Shadowtask were waiting for us.
"It's time, you ready?" Data asked, "Yeah, I think so," I said as Caine pulled his hood up covering his head before rolling the sleeve of his hoodie over his metal arm, concealing it entirely. Data continued, "It's important to stay undetected until we intercept the transaction, we don't want anyone detecting our movement until we need to intervene. We'll stay in contact with you the entire time, should there be any need for back-up just triple tap the earpiece and we'll be able to get an exact location on you". Caine replied as he began walking towards the window overlooking Solai "Don't freak the guy out, I wanna see what he's made of!". For once I thought I'd return a smart assed comment of my own but before I had time to reply I watched Caine jump off the balcony, "See you in the lobby!" I heard faintly as Caine moved fast towards the bottom of the building. Locke sighed as he stood leant up near the main elevator at the back of the room, "You have one hour, don't fuck this up."
I entered the elevator and made my way down to the lobby, sure enough, Caine was there waiting for me, "you guna be able to keep up man?" he said with a smirk on his face. I've realised he likes rubbing in the fact that I'm not some gymnastic little shit with a metal arm strong enough to pick up cars. The APV (autonomous vehicle) was outside the building waiting for us to begin the first part of our course, Caine opened the door for me "ladies first..." he said as I entered the car. He inputted the location into the car's dashboard before exiting the vehicle and shutting the door on me. "Let's see who gets there first," he said as he ran off into the distance, weaving his way between the busy streets of Solai. The APV started moving, according to the dashboard it would take 13 minutes to get to our first location.
I'll skip the bullshit. I arrived at the meeting point, it was a dry cleaners on the outskirts of the Dark District. Caine was sat inside tapping his foot on the floor, with no signs of breathlessness or exhaustion. I just travelled 3 miles in 13 minutes, in a car... yet here he is looking well rested and eager to continue the mission. I can't do the math, but that seems stupidly quick for a guy on foot. "Jesus dude, quicken it up next time ey?" Caine said as he walked out of the dry cleaners to meet me, I had to laugh that off, the kid literally beat me on foot.
Caine tapped on his earpiece "We've arrived at Location 1," Data then confirmed our location "Location 1, we see you.". I have to admit, I started to feel pretty covert and badass up until this point. I hadn't done anything yet, but suddenly Caine became laser focussed as his demeanour changed to a serious one. "We have around 40 minutes until the Red Dog's show up, the east gate is just ahead, get in position and wait for my instructions." Caine disappeared again shortly before Data began to talk to me "Pylot, status report?", I told him I was instructed to get in position and await further instructions from Caine. Data then directed me to the emergency stairwell of a nearby apartment complex, he told me to make my way to the rooftop and scout out the surrounding area. He said that once the time is right, Caine would 'show up' and 'take care of the rest', all I had to do was report any unusual footfall activity leading up towards and during the meetup between the two parties.
I made my way to the top of the apartment block on the edge of the Dark District. The building was old and industrial looking, with graffiti covering most of the walls and stairwell as I made my way up. There were around 25 floors to cover, and by the time I reached the top Caine was already in position. "I'm good to go, you in position yet?" Caine asked as I looked out over the area trying to find him. Looking out over the city I saw the Dark District about 500 yards in front of me, it was literally walled off. A huge metal and concrete wall overlooked the buildings on the other side, easily two times the height of the building I was stood on. It span across the entire perimeter of the Dark District with the only access points being huge gates that were positioned along various parts of the wall. The gate in front of me was the east entrance we had been told to head towards. The Dark District was densely built and full of activity, below me was a road that looked like it ran the entire perimeter of the Dark District just outside of the wall, with numerous alleyways connecting to it and branching off into Solai behind me.
"To your left" Caine said, I looked over the edge of the building and saw a narrow alleyway directly below me. As I looked down, Five men approached from one end of the alley, one of them holding a hard case and the others following closely behind. As they made their way to the middle of the dimly lit alley I panned around the area quickly to try and find Caine. His dark silhouette was sat on a window ledge on the other side of the alley, directly opposite me but about 4 floors higher up. "The Red Dog's are here. When the buyer shows up, keep an eye on both entrances to the alley.
I looked down again towards the alley and saw the gang as they made their way to the centre, they looked like your average thugs, carrying baseball bats and covering their faces with bandanas. They slowed down their pace as a figure appeared in the distance walking towards them, I looked up to see what Caine was doing but he was already gone. "It's show time," he said as the buyer moved in to talk to the gang. The buyer was a bald guy dressed in a grey suit, he looked very out of place considering the situation. In an agitated tone one of the Red Dogs asked "Is it done or what?", the buyer looked confident and unthreatened as he replied, "Yes, hand it over."
Both parties moved closer together, taking a few paces towards one another as the Red Dog member holding the hard case lead the way for the rest of his crew. As they got closer Caine shouted from the shadows "Same shit different day!", causing the Red Dogs to quickly take a few paces back, lining up in front of the guy holding the hard case. One of them yelled out, "Who the fuck is that? Whos there?!" meanwhile, the buyer remained standing in the same position, he didn't seem phased at all. Wearing all black, Caine emerged from a small walkway connected to the alley and walked confidently towards the Red dogs. Trapping them between the buyer and himself his arm pulsed with a purple neon glow, faintly lighting the area around him as the gang became more unsettled. One of them shouted out to the buyer angrily "A Biomech? Is he with you?!", the buyer remained silent. "Don't fucking play with us!" one of the gang screamed as he reached towards his waistband and pulled out a pistol and pointed it directly at Caine. Caine continued to move in and instructed me under his breath to 'Keep an eye on that case'. As a final warning, the gang member fired a shot in the air, "One more step and I'll fuck you up!" he said as Caine closed the gap between them to about 10 feet.
Caine stopped, he smirked and raised his head before taking his hood down, revealing that arrogant smug face of his. The buyer started walking towards the gang at a normal pace, which, considering the situation was odd. The gang member with the gun spun around to face him, pushing his way through the other members in order to protect the member with the hard case. Without hesitation the buyer sprinted towards the gang, making a b line straight towards the member carrying the hard case. The gunman fired a shot directly at the buyer, incredibly, the buyer reached out his arm with impossible speed as the shot was fired. He faced his hand forward and deflected the bullet into the wall beside him. Caine acted quickly "Fuck me it's an android!" he said as he cut through the gang sprinting with urgency. At the same moment, Data responded in my earpiece, "Whatever happens Pylot, do not attempt to interfere" as the android grabbed the case. Caine bypassed the gang, leaning forward as he changed the form of his bionic hand into a large metal sphere. The android reached his hands out in an attempt to grab the case as Caine smashed his bionic arm down onto the ground beside it, forcing several layers of concrete a few inches into the ground. The impact knocked the case up into the air and Caine used his other arm to deflect the case behind him towards the gang. The gang stood back a few paces in shock for a moment as both Caine and the android exchanged heavy blows in the centre of the alley. The gang used this opportunity to make a move for the case but were not fast enough in comparison to the android. As they made a dash for the package the android, in a frenzy, threw Caine to the ground and began sprinting towards the case which lay roughly 20 ft in front of him. Caine followed quickly behind, blocking pistol rounds with his arm in shield form as the gang fired towards them both. Bullets deflected off of the Android effortlessly, as he picked up more pace the gang walked backwards in fear leaving the case up for grabs. With Caine in close pursuit behind, the Android picked up the case in one quick motion, hardly losing any speed at all. He barged through the Red Dogs causing some of them to fall over and their bandanas to come loose. Suddenly Caine stopped completely in his tracks, immediately his focus was no longer on the Android who had now left the alley and disappeared out of my sight. I could hear Caine breathing slowly and heavily, Caine began speaking with the gang below, "You... I know you" he said angrily as he pointed out one of the gang members. I left the rooftop and ran a couple of floors downstairs to get a closer look at what was going on, I turned on my audio recorder as Caine moved in closer and begun to talk. "I recognised your voice..." Caine said. The gang member looked confused for a moment before seeming to realize who Caine was, hesitantly he started to speak "Look, man, you were in the..". Caine cut the guy off mid-sentence, grabbing him by the back of the neck and slamming his face into the wall next to them. The man's head had cracked the wall behind it at the point of impact, soon after a steady stream of blood started trickling down onto the floor below him. Caine flips the man around to face him and pins him up against the wall with his right hand, using his bionic arm to rip out a metal grill from a subway vent beneath them. Showing no signs of mercy Caine takes this vent and pushes it into the man's face, crushing it between the grill and the wall. The man screams as the grill starts to cut into his face, he pleads “I have information, I can g...give you names.”
"You killed people, good innocent people..." Caine said fiercely, the man was barely conscious but managed to muffle a response from underneath the grill, "I follow orders, that's it!". "Not good enough," Caine remarked, as he applied more pressure the man's face. His jaw began to crack as the grill started crushing his face, frantically trying to save himself the gang member pleaded "Stop, I have information, I can give you names".
“Who do you work for?!” Caine asked, continuing to apply more and more pressure as the grill cuts deeper into the man's face. The man yells as Caine applies more pressure causing the metal bars to cut into the man's face. I couldn't take it anymore, I didn't sign up for this shit. Surely whatever this man did doesn't justify this, right? I tapped my earpiece three times, alerting Data of our position, Data responded quickly; "Lockes on his way, hold your position.".
Caine continued applying pressure until the man gave in; "You want Rico!"
Rico? Caine asked as he pulled the grill off of his face. The man tried wiping the blood off his face, temporarily revealing deep jagged flesh wounds whilst Caine stepped back.
I couldn't believe what I just heard. It has to be the same Rico that's responsible for fucking my life up, right? I wanted to hear what this guy had to say.
“Why the fuck do you care so much, let me go! I gave you a name!” The man yelled wildly.
Caine moved close to him again, forcing the man to step back into the wall: “A name won't bring him back. You never gave him a chance. You don't deserve a fucking chance!"
Without hesitation, Caine decided that this mans life was over, he lifted up the subway vent and with one smooth movement used his bionic arm to crush the man's head entirely between the grill and the wall. He died instantly, all that was left were the fleshy bloody entrails that seeped through the gaps in the grill dripping onto Caines' arm and the floor around him.
The Red Dog gang members body slid down the wall and onto the floor, he was decapitated. It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen, I was in complete shock and disbelief as to what I had just seen. What the fuck just happened? I looked out of the window to my right and saw Locke stood at the east entrance to the alley, Data came through on the earpiece shortly after "Status report?!" he asked. Caine, suddenly alarmed, snapped out of his blind rage and turned to face Locke, Locke reassured Caine from a distance with a simple nod of his head. Locke replied to Data and told him that the mission was unsuccessful, "Any casualties?" Data asked as Caine shook his head slowly from side to side, hinting at Locke to say nothing. Locke, understanding that something bigger was going on here decided to side with Caine and reported back to Data that there were no casualties at the scene.
Data paused for a moment..."Okay, Head back, we'll need to discuss this with Enigma."
Caine and Locke removed their earpieces, as they walked towards each other. I exited the building and met them in the alley, "Rico, you heard that name before?" I asked Caine. He looked at me with a subtle smile and said: "No, but you have...right?".
I didn't want to ask any more questions, at this point I knew I'd established a connection between the Red Dogs and Rico, and for now, that was enough. An APV pulled up next to the alley, "Law enforcement are on their way, we need to get out of here" Locke said as we started running toward the vehicle. We got in and set the destination to the Shadowtask HQ, as the car started moving Locke turned to Caine who was lost in thought "What the fuck was that about back there?". Caine, continuing to look out of the window replied softly: "Closure".