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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: God Complex 6/13

June 18th, 2012 (06:41 am)
rejected

feeling: rejected

A/N: And action! We’ll see if things start to get better for the guys…

Notes and previous parts in the MASTER POST



PART SIX

-o-

The gunfire started before they were in range.

It was maybe a waste of ammunition, but Michael couldn’t actually fault them for that. Considering how they’d been blindsided this morning, a little preemptive firing certainly seemed appropriate.

Appropriate, but not ideal. Billy grimaced in the front seat and Casey shook his head. “They’re trying to make this interesting,” Casey said with a tone of disdain.

Next to Michael, Rick swallowed convulsively. He checked his gun again.

Michael took a breath. Then another. “We’re ready,” he said.

The engine roared and the Jeep bounced frantically over the road. The pelting gunfire was audible now, and a few rounds pinged off the exterior.

Billy inclined his head. “So are they,” he mused.

The distance closed and Michael could make out the guards at the checkpoint scrambling into some kind of formation to guard the already destroyed gate. It was haphazard but with some clear purpose; if they had much time, they probably could have mounted a defense.

They didn’t have much time, though.

And neither did Michael.

A bullet ricocheted, nicking the windshield. Casey glared through the spider web of glass. “I don’t like ducking,” he muttered.

“I also don’t fancy dying,” Billy said, veering the car to the side to throw off the onslaught of gunfire.

Casey slumped lower and Michael pulled himself back as Rick ducked behind the seat. Billy’s eyes were narrowed, his arms straight.

Another bullet hit the glass but Billy didn’t slow. Michael found himself holding his breath, counting the beats of his heart as he watched the men at the gate find their positions and ready themselves. They were close enough to see their expressions now – scared and nervous and deadly – and they were going to hold their ground.

Billy looked through them, seemed to not see them. Instead he shook his head. “Best brace yourselves, lads,” he said. “This is going to get a bit rocky.”

Before Michael had the chance to blink, he saw the faces in front of him go wide, the men scattering as Billy plowed the Jeep headlong, through the ranks and the checkpoint and into the compound behind.

-o-

There was a split second of pure chaos. The Jeep rammed through the poorly reestablished barrier, sending the already broken pieces of wood and metal flying. The men scattered with a spattering of gunfire, most of which pinged harmlessly off the car’s exterior.

Michael took heed of Billy’s advice and braced himself. The world out his window veered sharply and the brakes squealed as Billy came to an abrupt halt.

That was the only cue Michael would get. Fortunately, it was the only one he needed.

He turned the safety off as he opened the door, rolling out low to the ground already firing. The return fire gave him his bearings and he moved instinctually toward the first building he could see.

Michael had spent some time in the military, and combat mode came to him like second nature. It wasn’t something he ever expected to be good at – it was all feelings and improvisation, and there was never any time to plan anything – but since he was still alive, he figured he still had an aptitude for it.

He didn’t look as he fired – saw the movement of someone firing at him and shot for the torso. If he had time, he’d aim more carefully, try for the shoulder or upper chest, something to disable but not to kill. But they were way past that point now, whether Michael liked it or not.

Gunfire came from behind and Michael spun, exchanging his empty gun for another, firing fast and hard at the windows. There was a yelp and the barrage stopped, but Michael didn’t have that luxury as he turned back to the congregation of men at the center of the compound.

Their attentions were divided, which was the only reason Michael was still alive. With Casey and Rick off in disparate directions, that kind of distraction was inevitable. Billy was doing his best, sending the car speeding in a seeming haphazard manner, but Michael could see that he was pulling the bulk of the guards after him as best he could, using his vehicle as a weapon when one of them seemed unduly pinned down.

They’d been lucky so far. The men had clearly been out, trying to fortify the defenses. There was construction equipment in place, which meant they’d been in rebuilding mode when the ODS had come back. Still, a quick estimate of the men was enough to remind Michael that there were more men than this, especially since he didn’t see Jenkins just yet.

The air was hot and he felt flushed as his body moved, ducking and rolling, firing and running. Bullets pelted the ground by his feet and he heard them whistle by his head but he didn’t stop. Couldn’t stop. A moving target was the hardest to hit and staying alive was an inherent part of the plan.

As he approached the building, Michael threw himself hard against the wall. There was no way of knowing who was inside or what they were waiting for.

Michael wasn’t about to wait around to find out, one way or another. He’d been lucky so far, but he needed cover to properly reload and take stock of the situation. Normally, he preferred a bit more caution, but considering that he was in the middle of a firefight, staying alive required decisive and bold action.

He slithered under the broken window, coming up hard and kicking open the door. He was met by a spray of bullets, which he dodged by pulling himself back against the outer wall. Firing off a few shots out toward the men encamped between the makeshift barricades in the middle of the compound, Michael bought himself a few seconds before turning abruptly and storming the room.

It was a terrifying moment wherein his heart seemed to stop beating in his chest. Time was suspended and he saw each man who appeared in his line of vision like marks on a CIA training exercise. He hadn’t been on one of those in years, and he could still remember his first run at the Farm. His instructor had said he was capable but lacked flair.

Gritting his teeth, Michael watched the men fall, one, two three, and wondered if his teacher had ever properly realized how little flair mattered when you were still alive and other people weren’t.

Then, the room was still. Outside, he could hear the echo of more gunfire. There was bursts of yelling and the sound of movement before an engine revved and everything descended into din again.

But the room was quiet. It was a small building, a single room. There was a closet at the back and a door open, showing the deserted back portion of the compound. Out a side window, Michael caught a glimpse of a side gate, swung open. There were several car loads of men, retreating into the distance.

Jenkins was passionate but apparently his men weren’t as convinced on dying for the cause. That helped even the odds, but they were still tipped against them.

Suddenly, one of the men moved, groaning. Michael tensed, gun up, but when the man didn’t make a move toward him, Michael inched forward.

He was on his back, bleeding from a wound in his upper chest. It was bloody but not deadly. Still, the man seemed to make no move for his weapon. Instead, he looked at Michael, panting.

Standing there, Michael wasn’t sure what to do. He knew the plan, and he understood the concept of an enemy. He could be a soldier when he wanted to, and he always believed in getting his men home first, but looking down at this man, it wasn’t as easy to separate his plans from the reality.

He was young. His dark skin was smooth, the whites of his bright. For a moment, he seemed too pained to speak and then, he laughed. “I would be ashamed to die by an American,” he said, English thick and stunted.

Michael frowned.

The man’s smile widened as he convulsed just so. “But the fact that you will not be long behind me is consolation enough.”

Michael’s gut twisted. People liked to talk, and while some people were simpering in suffering, others were only more defiant. Some lied; others told the truth for the first time ever.

Michael couldn’t be sure what was happening here, but somehow he knew.

Something was wrong. Something was off. Something…

Fresh panic in his stomach, he turned, moving back toward the door where the sound of gunfire had receded for a moment. It was a trap. Not a well thought out one, but enough of one. If they were attacked again, Jenkins had told them to keep the assailants occupied while a proper counterstrike could be mounted. It was the smart thing to do.

Hell, it was what Michael would do.

He opened the door, ready to warn the others when an explosion rocked the area. Michael didn’t have time to brace himself as he was thrown hard off his feet, landing on the ground while everything went white.

-o-

An explosion.

Usually, Michael tended to think of explosion as a once in a mission occurrence, but if Jenkins was the kind of guy who liked things that went boom, then Michael should have predicted this. A good leader relies on his assets. The explosion at Michael’s hotel room had been well done – careful and to the point and controlled and still dangerous – so of course a repeat performance should have been expected.

The oversight was hard to swallow but he really had other things to worry about. Like opening his eyes and getting to his feet and figuring out what to do next.

With that, Michael blinked. The ceiling above him had drop down panels that he’d never noticed before. The irregular sized holes swam in no discernible pattern.

At least this meant that the building was still standing. Which meant he’d either been far enough from the blast to deflect the majority of the impact or the bomb itself had not been strong enough to incur widespread destruction.

This was good. It meant he was alive and it meant his team could still be alive. Being alive was the ultimate goal, though Michael had to acknowledge, if only to himself, that if that was the bar for success right now then he was setting it pretty low. More than that, being alive now was no guarantee for five minutes for now. Or five seconds from now.

Mostly, Michael needed to get up.

He was moving without thinking and the pain that jackknifed through him was harsh and sudden. Nausea swelled in his stomach and his vision dimmed around the edges, but he refused to black out.

The loss of equilibrium passed and the pain abated to tolerable levels. Still, he moved gingerly to his feet, too aware of the fresh bruises forming on his already battered body. These sorts of risks came with the job, but he was getting a bit old for this.

Not that that mattered at the moment. He’d mastered opening his eyes and he was standing on two feet, which just left figuring out his next move.

With a quick glance, he doubled checked the room. The man from earlier was still now – unconscious or dead, Michael wasn’t sure and he wasn’t checking. Next, Michael checked his guns. He took a moment to reload the one before ensuring the other was ready.

From outside, the eerie stillness had vanished and a fresh wave of gunfire erupted, bringing Michael’s attention back to the primary goal. He was safe for now, but his team may not have fared so well. The gunfire suggested that there was someone left to provide resistance but that was no guarantee of anything.

The doorway was destroyed so Michael pressed himself against the wall and peeked out to get a fresh look at the action.

The area was disordered now, with debris spread around the open center of the compound. There was a smoking hull of a truck – obviously what Jenkins had used to set off the explosion. There were a few bodies littered around the epicenter, but the uniforms suggested that they’d been caught in so-called friendly fire. Jenkins had that as a tactical advantage. To him, this was war, so some losses would be acceptable. For Michael, this was a mission and he would not leave a member of his team behind.

That was when he saw Billy – or, rather, heard him. The Jeep came flying by, careening in an almost reckless pattern, sideswiping a building and sending an entrenched contingent of Jenkins’ men scrambling. The Jeep was bullet-riddled by this point, but it was still running, which Michael could attribute to Billy’s driving prowess.

That was one of his team.

He spotted Casey next. While Jenkins’ factions had divided into two main sections – clearly an attempt to move the ODS to the center and surround them until death or surrender were the only inevitable options. But Billy’s constant movement had made that task harder than they probably intended and while they had two solid flanks, Casey was holed up behind a crumbling wall of Jenkins’ meeting room this morning. The position was good and with steady fire, he was clearly holding his ground.

Until he ran out of ammunition, anyway.

That just left Rick. Following the firefight, Michael easily saw that Jenkins’ ground troops had two definitive targets. One faction fired at Casey; the other focused their attentions on the hull of a shipping truck.

It only took another moment to discern the movement from inside the open back. Rick was hard to see, but the quick, precise movements gave the kid away. He’d clearly been moving to the farthest building on the compound, the one most easily defended and most heavily fortified. He’d gotten close, but he was there yet and without substantial backup, he’d never make it out of there alive.

The situation wasn’t ideal – Michael knew that – but considering that they were four men against a small army it really was pretty impressive. It’d be a whole lot more impressive if they made it out on the other side.

While one contingent of men was close to the checkpoint, the other had Casey and Rick flanked from the far building. If Casey and Rick were still in the fray, that meant that Jenkins was still out there, most likely in the last building. They couldn’t leave yet – not without this last piece of the puzzle – so Michael had only one viable option.

Rejoin the battle, tip the balance, and hope like hell that the ODS luck held out.

Without contemplating the details, Michael ducked out the door, dashing through the melee with as much stealth as he was capable of. Fortunately, with all the activity, he was unnoticed. That was only a temporary reprieve, though, and Michael knew it. He also knew it wouldn’t be long until Jenkins properly ascertained that four against his army were good odds and made a blind charge. Jenkins would lose a few men, but the end result would be entirely successful from his point of view.

He made it half the distance before one of the soldiers caught sight of him. He fired a few shots preemptively, picking up his pace as he sprinted for all he was worth toward Casey’s location. Off in the distance, Billy was still maneuvering, breaking through one of the gaps in the back fence and drawing a small portion of the men along in pursuit.

Bullets kicked up dust around his feet and Michael’s chest felt tight. It was a tossup – run and fire or just run – so he was more than somewhat glad when Casey turned his attention toward him and laid down an effective barrage of cover fire.

Breathless, he collapsed behind the wall. Casey fired a few more shots before looking down at him ruefully. “I’m glad you’re not dead,” the older operative said.

Michael nodded. “Me, too,” he said.

Casey pulled up, getting off a few more shots. “No thanks to this plan, though,” he said, shaking his head with something akin to disgust.

“You don’t like my plan?” Michael asked with feigned hurt.

Casey snorted. “I tend not to like suicide.”

Michael had to smirk, pushing himself up and firing off a few shots of his own. He hunkered back down and shrugged with as much charm as he could muster. “You always say that I never challenge you enough.”

Casey rolled his eyes. “I might believe that you created this plan as a personal challenge for me if you hadn’t let Rick and Billy throw their own lives around so recklessly,” he said. “I think we’re rubbing off on the kid. He’s acting like this is some kind of personal vendetta for him.”

Michael popped his head up, shooting in the direction of the entrenched line while trying to get a better look toward Rick. He only had a second to look, but Martinez was still holed up and holding his own.

He pulled back down, his smirk now twisted to a grimace. “He believes in the cause too much,” Michael said. “I need to start planning better for his noble streak.”

Casey lifted his gun, firing a few careful bullets before coming back down to reload. “Nobility is another word for righteous stupidity,” he said.

“Which is all another way of saying some people just like the challenge,” Michael said.

Casey inclined his head, finishing his loading. “Point,” he said, a small smile twitching his lips. “So what’s the plan now?”

Michael peaked over, placing a few careful shots before coming back down to reload his own gun. “I think it’s safe to assume Jenkins is in the main building at the far end,” Michael said.

“We cleared the other buildings, so I’d say that’s a safe bet,” Casey agreed, gunfire splintering the cement just over their heads.

Michael didn’t let himself wince. “He’s still our priority.”

Casey tilted his head again. “Interesting.”

“Without him, this entire thing is a bust,” Michael said.

“I’m not arguing the objective,” Casey countered. “But I am wondering how you planned to take into account the small army that vastly outnumbers us?”

Michael’s jaw worked. He peered over again, offering up a small volley to protect himself. Back down, he took a breath. Then he took another.

Finally, he nodded. “We need to get to Rick.”

Casey stared at him. “That’s your plan?”

Michael glared. “That’s the first step of the plan.”

“You mean the part where we manage to overcome the small army that vastly outnumbers us?” Casey asked.

Michael shrugged. “If we can’t get to Rick, then the small army that vastly outnumbers us is really kind of a moot point.”

Casey frowned. “Fine,” he said, sulking just a bit. “We go in intervals. I run, you cover. When I stop, we trade until we get there. Good?”

Michael nodded. “Good.”

Casey took a breath, nodding back. He looked out toward the fight. “Good,” he muttered one last time. Then, without another moment’s hesitation, he was on his feet and moving, and Michael could only hope that good would be good enough.

-o-

It was like a dance, improvised but with expert steps. Casey darted fast and low, and Michael aimed his cover fire at equal intervals, aiming not necessarily for a kill but for the maximum distribution.

When Casey hit the ground behind a barricade he took a moment, not glancing back as he started his line of fire.

Michael didn’t hesitate, took the leap into no man’s land with every ounce of energy he had left.

They went like this, running and firing, in a nuanced back and forth. So it was just like a dance, if dances involved gunfire and likely death for a misstep.

Halfway there, Michael’s heart was throbbing in his ears, blood rushing almost painfully in his head. His chest was tight, his finger sore from gripping the gun so tight.

But it was working.

At the latest stop point they’d improvised, Michael was close enough to see Rick now. His face was lined with stress, smudged with dirt, but he was still upright and firing in the opposite direction to help keep the assailants at bay.

Casey was running out in front, just like before, but this time the gunfire petered out and something lobbed into the picture.

Michael blinked, breath caught in his throat. He saw the object fall harmlessly to the ground, sitting innocently no more than three feet behind Casey.

A grenade.

It was a split second choice, but still, to Michael it wasn’t really a choice at all. Casey was moving quickly, but not quickly enough. If the goal was to get his men out alive, then Michael had to act.

On his feet, Michael didn’t bother firing. Instead, he charged.

Somewhere, Rick yelled. A bracket of gunfire exploded in the distance and Michael’s world narrowed to a pinpoint. All he could see was the gleaming black shape on the ground.

There was no way to disarm it, but he could minimize the blast.

He had to, for Casey. For his team. For the mission.

Then, there was a flash.

Next, there was a blur of movement.

Michael hit the ground hard on his backside, head spinning as he tried to breathe. His ears rang painfully and his breath was tight in his throat.

With a gasp he sat upright, blinking rapidly.

Ahead of him there was a smoking car, flames licking toward the Nigerian sky.

Michael blinked again, head jerking to the side. Beyond the haze of smoke he could see Casey and Rick, stashed together in the truck. They were okay.

Michael looked again at the car when his hearing came back. Tires squealed and an engine revved hard. Billy.

Then, he understood. Billy had had the same idea. Only he’d been smart enough to use one of the trucks pursuing him to take out the grenade for him.

It was smart. Really damn smart.

New gunfire started and Michael remembered that while he’d survived the grenade, he still needed to make it to cover. Scrambling, he got to his feet. He wavered shakily, stumbling as he found his footing, half hobbling the final distance to Rick’s cover.

Out of breath, he collapsed against the interior of the wall, pressing himself down and readily accepting the cover fire that Casey finished laying.

Looking up, he found Rick staring down at him. “I think I’ve changed my mind,” he said. “This wasn’t such a good shot after all.”

Even with the tension, Michael barked with laughter. “Too late for that, I think.”

Casey pulled back from laying his cover fire. Outside, bullets pinged on the metal exterior. “Anyway, things are finally getting interesting,” he said. “I’m not sitting with some entitled tourist who thinks that the entire world should speak English. Plus, I get to fire a gun. I’m having the time of my life.”

“You don’t count,” Rick said.

Casey glowered.

Michael shrugged, giving Casey an apologetic look. “He has a point.”

“Fine,” Casey said. “Now why don’t we make a point of finishing this mission?”

Casey was right on that. Cautiously, Michael leaned out, peaking around the backside of the truck. The distance to the final building was less than what they’d just covered but the armaments were much more impressive. The line of men was organized and methodical. Jenkins was visible just behind the lines in full gear, nodding instructions even as his eyes seemed to narrow in on Michael’s.

It wasn’t just a defensive measure; it was defiance. He was taunting Michael. Jenkins knew that with a strong offensive he could overtake the ODS and end this altogether. He wanted to give Michael the pretense of a chance. It wasn’t simple overconfidence; it was cold, hard logic. Jenkins had planned for this and was waiting for it to play out.

Reining himself back, Michael’s humor faded bitterly. Working his jaw, he nodded curtly. “Okay,” he said and took a cleansing breath. He looked at Casey and Rick, no further hesitations indulged. “How fast can you run the 100 meters?”

-o-

The thing with plans was that they usually sounded better in theory.

In theory, making a decisive headlong run that relied heavily on the element of surprise and blind determination to overthrow the enemy’s hesitancy and inexperience sounded pretty good.

In actuality, running straight on into oncoming fire was really just stupid.

Billy had done an effective job of clearing their path, clearing out some of the opposition and drawing a decent amount of fire. But they were still clearly outnumbered, and there was only so far they could go before being forced to find a temporary reprieve.

Casey, who had taken an early lead, ducked out first, taking cover behind the bulk of an abandoned car. He paused to reload before stealing himself and laying down a heavy line of cover fire.

Michael capitalized on that. He was next in the line, moving with a speed and agility that he had spent years perfecting. Casey was the human weapon, but Michael knew that his daily jogs weren’t just a superfluous part of his schedule. They were critical to his survival.

He fired carefully as he ran, keeping his gun up but sparing his shots to keep points in the defensive line. He bobbed, weaving among the bullets, listening for the pattern of gunfire and finding its ebb and flow. Jenkins had trained his men to alternate as a means of maintaining a steady flow, but that meant that there were gaps in the coverage that were easy to exploit once Michael found the rhythm.

Easy was probably the wrong word. Possible was a better word, but even a moving target could be hit if it got close enough. Something hot cut through his arm and a moment of panic flared in his gut. Sensing his luck about to give out entirely, he dove for the first cover he could find, pressing his face into the dirt as he rolled out of the line of fire and behind what he could only hope was an empty barrel.

Bullets dinged in front of him, and since he hadn’t exploded yet again he figured that was progress. Or at least a step in the right direction. Or maybe just not a step backwards. Michael couldn’t afford to be picky at this point.

Besides, there wasn’t time to dwell on it. He was down, which meant that someone else was up. He didn’t have to look to guess it was Rick; the direction of the gunfire was a giveaway.

There was a nearby sound of retaliatory fire, and Michael figured Casey had the right idea. Michael reloaded without thinking, doing a quick mental count of his dwindling ammunition. When Casey’s round was finished Michael didn’t hesitate, lifting himself up and laying down his own line of fire.

He was so focused on firing that he didn’t have much time to check Rick’s progress until the kid was running past him.

In fact, Martinez was running past him and up to Casey. With two lines of cover fire, this was probably more possible than Michael had originally considered. This would set them up in perfect position to send Casey forward to breach the line and then they’d all follow. They could overpower Jenkins and get the hell out.

It was optimistic, maybe, but possible.

In theory.

In reality, Rick didn’t stop. Martinez didn’t even slow down. He passed Casey and just kept running. How Jenkins’ men missed Rick, Michael wasn’t sure. Maybe they were too surprised by his audacity to actually aim. Maybe the scopes on their rifles weren’t so good at close range. Maybe Casey’s cover fire was more precise than he’d counted on.

Maybe they weren’t firing at him at all.

Maybe they wanted him to breach the line.

Maybe it was a setup.

Michael’s heart clenched and his stomach went cold. He sprang up, gun in hand, but he didn’t fire.

Couldn’t fire.

Because Rick was there, hands up with a circle of at least twenty men, all with their guns trained on him.

In theory, this was bad.

In reality, it was worse.

And Michael wasn’t sure what to do.

NEXT

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: June 18th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
Pensive


I like the “Nobility is another word for righteous stupidity,” exchange *G*

And yes, thankfully it was an empty barrel Michael sheltered behind!

There ought to be a law against cliffhangers...

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 20th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
billy guitar

I'm pretty mean to Michael in this fic. Well, I'm actually pretty mean to all of them. Which will become more apparent soon...

Heh. You love the cliffhangers and you know it!

Thanks :)

Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: June 19th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
chaos

GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

First off, I'm going to take a drink now every time Michael gets blown up in this fic. ;)

Second off... RICK!

You have an amazing knack for writing action and suspense every bit as well as you write emotion and reflection. It's a truly superb blend, and makes this fic absolutely riveting!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 20th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
billy content

As long as you don't read all 90k in one night, you should probably be okay with the drinking game :)

And thank you! I always worry that my action scenes are just really boring and disjointed so to hear otherwise actually means a lot.

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: June 20th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
Coffee

Action :) And another cliffhanger. I'm seriously impressed by the fact that you managed to end nearly every chapter with one.
The action's scenes are deliciously concise and there are no words to describe how much I love this story.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 20th, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
chaos team meeting

This fic has a lot of suspenseful moments so picking chapter breaks to accentuate them was actually pretty easy :) I'm really glad you're enjoying it! Thanks!

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