STEEL unload, final BLOW, we the ANIMALS take CONTROL, hear us now, clear and true, WRETCHES and KINGS we come for YOU. STEEL unload , fire BLOW, filthy ANIMALS , beat them LOW, skin and bone, black and blue, no more this SUN shall beat onto YOU- Wretches and Kings, Linkin Park
The Conversion Bureau: Guardian Chronicles
Episode 4: V.A.N.G.A.R.D [Part I]
The name escaped his lips the moment his bright hazel eyes caught sight of the young lady. For a moment the young doctor was left speechless, studying every inch of her as if she were the last woman on earth. The dauntless young lady leaned her shoulder against the wooden door, donned in her jet black tank top with a boldness of short leather jacket worn over it matching her tight fitting beige cargo denim pants and her khaki leather boots.
An ebon USP holster was fastened around her shoulders with a gun fitted firmly within it. He could not put his finger on the make or model but then again he was never the gun enthusiasts, even with half his family having served in the United States Army.
She merely stood there, staring through her bistre toned hair slightly longer than her shoulder, a glint of interest in her amber eyes with the same equivalence to the young man. The corner of her mouth quirked upwards as if amused by David's bewildered expression.
"Long time no see
cous," she said.
Daniela Stone, yet another one of David's cousins. Even though she was a year older than he was, it hard to believe how much she has grown over the years, how much they both had grown since the days of their childhood summers spent together on their Grandfather's vineyard down in California.
"Dani, wow, it has been a long time. You look
good," David said, a sense of awkwardness in his voice.
"Good? Is that you've got to say? I haven't seen you since Grandpa's funeral and all you have for me is that I look good?" she said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She lifted herself off the wooden door before tucking her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket.
The young doctor nervously rubbed the back of his head. "Well it's been five years and all and
HEY WAIT A MINUTE! What the heck am I saying? What the HELL are you doing here!? Where have you been!?" cried David all of a sudden.
Dani smirked "Now THAT sounds more like the David I used to know. How's Mikey? A little pony told me that he was in town," she said.
"Don't try to change the subject Dani! You still haven't answered my question-," David said, though his words came to a halt the moment he felt a hand resting gently on his shoulder.
"I believe, I have the answer that. Dr Stone, allow me to formally introduce Lieutenant Commander Daniela Stone, she is head of V.A.N.G.A.R.D and therefore your acting and commanding officer" said Miguel
David swore he felt his jaw hit the polished marble floor in complete disbelieve the moment he heard the man mentioned 'Commanding Officer'. There were no words, no plausible sentences, all he could only stare bug-eyed at the young lady now smiling smugly in return as he resisted the urge to blubber like a senseless idiot.
"What, who, how
huuuuuuuuhhhh?" His face contorted as he stared completely flabbergasted by the whole situation. Daniela let out a hearty laugh, stepping closer toward her younger cousin.
"What? Think you were the only one in the family blazin trails? Sorry to burst your bubble cous, but I've been pretty busy myself," she said, removing her right hand from her pocket and ruffled his hair playfully. However David immediately swatted her hand away in annoyance.
"Stop that! I'm not five anymore you know!"
"Aww, ain't that cute. Ole Davy's thinks he's all grown up," teased the young lady, smirking in pure amusement.
David shot her a rather nasty glare, feeling his teeth grinding in pure exasperation as he desperately fought back the sheer desire to wring her darling neck, even though, No, especially since they were related. She always had this nasty habit of patronizing him in public ever since they were children, always proclaiming that she was older and better than him in more ways than one. She may have grown, but she was still the same ole Dani, the same obnoxious, insufferable, rott-
"ECKH HEM!" Miguel cleared his throat, loudly and intentionally enough to catch their attention.
"Well Dr Stone, I see that you have both been properly acquainted, I will leave you two to your duties. Now if you would excuse me, I have a rendezvous with Mr. Gunn which I have every intention of keeping," said the man before making his way back to his desk before removing his grey overcoat hanging idly from the back of his chair.
David cocked an eyebrow at the mention of the name 'Gunn' although he made no obvious intention on prying any deeper. He pondered on the possibilities of it having any relations to a Mr. Richard Gunn, another notable yet controversial name making the headlines of every single newspaper in the Big Apple a little too often for comfort.
"Anythin else I can do you for sir?" Dani enquired, her eyes meeting with Miguel's own firmly like a soldier would a superior officer.
"Just one, be sure to give Dr. Stone the grand tour and once you are done please show him to his quarters," said Miguel, slipping an arm into his coat.
The young doctor was caught off guard yet again. "Qu-qua- quarters? Quarters as in lodging
ac- accommodation? ROOM? You, you mean I'm going to have to LIVE here?" he asked in disbelieve.
Miguel merely blinked absent mindedly, his face caught in surprise although he was quick to realize the young doctor had not been formally briefed.
"Oh, right. My apologies Dr. Stone but all V.A.N.G.U.A.R.D agents are required to be on call twenty four seven which inevitably translates to you having to be on Bureau grounds at all time" said the man.
That certainly came as an unpleasant surprise to the young doctor. "But what of my place? My computer, my books, my
my things! What is to be-"
"Rest your worries. We are currently moving all your belongings as we speak. They should be here ready for unpacking by day's end," said Miguel as he straightened his coat.
"Unpacking? You mean you had your people BREAK into my place!? That's against the law and I have my rights!"
"Breaking and entering is the work of thugs and thieves. We have the necessary paperwork as well as your landlord's consent so I believe we are operating within the legal boundaries," said Miguel, a hint of smugness in his voice.
legal boundaries!? Now see here you-"David raised his voice, only to be predictably ignored by the man yet again who turned to face the young lady beside him.
The young doctor swore if he had to put up with anymore of this farce he was going to explode.
"Well Lieutenant, the torch is now your hands. You know what to do from here on out and please tell the rest to be on their best behavior this time around. I do not want them intimidating the poor man,"
Others? Oh right, he was not the only one now was he? There were others before him recruited into V.A.N.G.A.R.D. The young doctor swallowed hard at the man's words, unintentionally allowing his imagination to run wild as it painted a picture of a shady dark tavern inhabited by the meanest, nastiest scum born from the bowels of this world.
"Don't you worry sir, I told Dempsey that I'd personally chop his balls off if he pulled another stunt like that," Dani said with a rather intimidating smirk.
"Do what you have to do Lieutenant, remember that I am counting on you," he said taking a moment to fix the crimson scarf around his neck.
"Now if you would excuse me, I take my leave. Good day Lieutenant, Dr Stone,"
Almost by hard-coded instinct, Dani stood at attention and gave him a respectable salute while David merely nodded in acknowledgement. For a brief moment, their eyes met and David noticed the edge of his lip lift in a soft smile as if wishing the young man luck as he turned to leave through the doorway.
The young doctor felt his spirits lift ever so slightly only to be abruptly smacked back down by hard slap to the shoulder. His face grimaced comically, his teeth gritting hard and his fingers clenched from the piercing pain and once again he found himself desperately fighting back the urge to hurt someone very badly in retaliation.
"Well you heard the man! I think we're done wastin time, let's go give you that 'grand tour' shall we?" Dani said with a large grin.
David grumbled to himself, his teeth grinding in pure aggravation. Why does he have the feeling he was already regretting this?
"Alright, I'ma gonna keep it short and simple. There're a couple of things you gotta know, first things first, remember to always keep your badge on you at all times. As you can tell by now, security's a major priority here.
"The mess hall is on level one, there's where you grab your grub. The briefin room is on level five, roll call's at o seven hundred hours every day save for Sundays and
Young doctor's attention had failed him for a good while now and for good reason too, being briefed about rules and protocol was mere humdrum compared to this place. As they paced their way down the crowded passageway his hazel eyes compulsively studied every inch, every corner of it. First thing he noticed were the burnished ivory walls lined with electronic lights glowing in a smooth azure tint.
Next were the ebon tiles on floors were glossed and polished struck his fancy with occasional lights that marked certain pathways for walking and a separate lane for electric carts. David also fancied a peek through the transparent Plexiglas the moment they passed what appeared to be a laboratory of some sort. A myriad of various graphs and charts danced across the glass with people on the other side in apparent discussion.
"Oh sorry," came an apology the moment David suddenly felt a shoulder bump into his own. The young man waved nervously, carelessly cuddling an armful of files as he paced hastily down the hallway.
It was amazing how many humans, people were here. There were dozens of them and all in a variety of different uniforms. It was an uncommon mixture of lab coats and tactical gear although he was attentive enough to catch abbreviations such as S.W.O.R.D and H.A.V.O.K stitched above their emblems. Could there by other teams or divisions in the Bureau?
Heck, as of now there was little that could possibly surprise him, not even if they had a big red devil of some sort locked away in a vault somewhere that only comes out at night to hunt monsters. Then from out of nowhere, he felt slap to the back of his head so hard he swore his eyeballs could had popped out.
"HEY! Are you listening!?" Dani snapped.
"Yeow! Would you PEH-LEASE cut that out! You know I HATE it when you do that!" David snapped in return as he rubbed the back of his head.
"If you would pull your head out of the clouds and pay attention, maybe I won't have to now do I? Seriously, you haven't changed a bit,"
"Well, look who's talking? What happened to you anyways, last I heard you were trying out for the US Army Rangers, how did you end up here?"
"I was and I got in too but a lot can and has happened in five long years Davy and you know what, I hadn't received a single email from you.
"I was left wondering what had become of you and Mikey," she said as she tucked her hands into her pocket.
David shrugged "I admit we pretty much drifted apart after grandpa came to pass. With you following in Grandpa's footsteps, Mikey going off to France and me headed for Harvard," David said as he folded his arms. "But
The young lady shifted her attention to her younger cousin which apparently gave her a warm smile. "It doesn't mean we can't start over now, we're family after all. Sides, we owe grandpa that much,"
Dani chuckled softly "Good point. Well, if you have to know, I spent a year or so down in Fort Benning, Georgia. It was hard but I worked my ass up to the rank of Lieutenant. Then one fine day, Col. Estrada decided to pay us a visit, said he was lookin for a few good men to join the Bureau.
"Makin the cut lasted for a good three months and honestly it was the closest I've ever come to quittin and you know I don't quit easy," said Dani.
"Sounds like Hell"
Dani smirked "Heh, you wouldn't have lasted a day. Fact, close to a hundred dropped out after the first day alone. More so in the comin weeks but in the end only three made the cut, me included. Course, it was only later I found out we've been recruited for V.A.N.G.A.R.D,"
David chuckled. "And let me guess, you couldn't tell your family about it because if you did they would probably charge you with treason, erase your existance and throw you in some secret prison for life?" he said with a laugh.
Dani rolled her eyes in her cousin's direction, glaring as she did. David's eyes widened as he chuckled meekly "Oh
"I don't know how much you know about V.A.N.G.A.R.D cous but we weren't officially sanctioned by the United States government till recently. When I first got here, we were given strict and specific orders to remain anonymous at all cost. In other words, we were supposed to be ghosts,"
"So you operate from the shadows but why the sudden change? Is it because of the HLF? I know things have been growing from bad to worse but come on, all this
" David said as he gestured at the facility.
for a bunch of rednecks, trailer trash and religious, humanist psychos? Even you have to admit it's a little over the top,"
Her sudden silence, No, more the hesitant glint her eyes made David cock an eyebrow, however he was so focused on his cousin that the knowledge that he was still walking completely slipped his mind.
David's face contorted the moment he found himself absent mindedly walking face first into a large object standing directly in his path.
"Hey, I'm walking here!" David snarled as he stumbled back a couple of steps, fixing his glasses angrily.
The young doctor then caught sight of large cylindrical container of some kind mounted on a pint-sized four wheeled vehicle. A closer look made him realize the automated locks which bolted the thing together leading to a small device one would deduce to be a security terminal. What was in that thing? David was curious to say the least.
"SHIT, CRAP!" said a frantic voice from behind the container. It was a young man, dressed in the exact same lab coat bearing the abbreviation S.W.O.R.D. David cocked an eyebrow, noticing the rainbow colored lightning bolt pin he wore on his collar.
He fumbled off the vehicle as he nervously made his way to the young doctor, stumbling to fix his glasses at the same time trying to keep his balance on his own two feet. The young doctor merely watched half lost in confusion as the young man stopped next to the container, desperately checking it for even the slightest damage.
"Ohmigodohmigodohmigodohmigod, I probably broke something, I'm so gonna get fired for this! My life is ruineeeedddd!!!" he said hysterically.
I'm fine too by the way," David said, realizing he had been ignored yet again.
"BRYAN!" Dani snapped, immediately causing the young man to jump at the sound of her voice, his face suddenly stricken in absolute horror.
"Dani! Oh my GOD it's you! Now I'm REALLY GONNA GET FIRED! Oh GOD WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO!?" Bryan cried.
David held back a snicker "Famous much?" he said with a mischievous grin.
"Shut up," she said with a glare before making his way to the young man, forcefully grabbing him by his collar. "BRYAN! GET A GRIP!" she yelled into his face as she shook him violently.
The shaken young cried and mumbled a load of gibberish along with random pouts of Chinese, Japanese and probably some Portuguese. The young doctor merely shook his head, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose paced toward the black container.
His eyes squinted a little, taking a closer look at the monitor while he tried desperately to drown out the incessant annoying whining coupled with the growls of a female mountain gorilla in the background.
He then smirked to himself "I knew it, a complex hexa decimal tri-code system, now that's what I call old school. But
" he said as he stretched his fingers. "
let's see if I can beat my old record," he said with a soft snicker.
"How many times have I told you to watch where you're goin!? Do I have to break your face in AGAIN!?" Dani snarled, glaring into the young man's eyes with the fires of the netherworld blazing in her eyes. Her fingers gripping his coat with such fury that Bryan swore she was going to rip it to shreds.
"Aaaaahhhh! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Did I say I was sorry? Please don't hurt me! For the love of GOD don't hurt me!"
"Lock Disengage," a digitized voice resonated from the black case as hues of amber and baby blue shifted in the direction to the container.
The metal locks and rotating knobs began to shift and unbolt accompanied by the soft mechanical grinding of shifting gears and brief hisses of steam.
"DAMN! Is this really high security of am I just THAT good!?" David boasted.
"ARGH! What the heck do you think you're doing!?" Bryan cried hysterically before prying himself from Dani's vice-like grip as he hurried to the container, pushing the young doctor out of the way.
"You do not have the authority to open this! E-Even I don't have the authority to open this! Oh God, I'm so dead!" he exclaimed "Wait! Wait! Maybe I can fix this! Yes, fix it, fixxxx it! Work you piece of trash!" he cried, slamming his fist on the monitor.
Dani stared, completely bewildered. "How did you do that?"
"Well it wasn't hard, just a couple of codes here, a couple of codes there, easy stuff," said David.
"You've just unlocked a Level Nine containment unit, only two people in this whole facility are capable of doing that that and they use specialized unforgeable keys. You hacked it in less than twenty seconds,"
David pushed up on his glasses, smirking as he did. "Hey, everyone's got a hobby or two. Mine just happens to be a tad bit more interesting,"
"Oh no, no, no, no, no THIS IS BAD, BAD, BAD!" the young man cried, pulling frantically at his hair. The case had begun to unravel itself, mechanical parts shifting into place as the shutters begun open following the cylindrical path of the case before revealing what appears to be yet another case, however this one was made of glass.
"What in blazes?" David said, leaning in for a closer look.
It was an azure spherical gem about the size of an average jawbreaker nestling comfortably on a custom made royal red cushion. David scratched his head perplexed, a gem? Why would they have a Level Nine containment unit for a mere gem?
"A rock? That's what all the fuss is about?" Dani asked, obviously disappointed by the content. Bryan let out an overly dramatic gasp the moment he heard the word "R-Ro-ROCK!?"
The young man marched up to Dani, finger in the air and nostrils flaring. "Preposterous! Outrageous! How DARE you compare it to mere GRAVEL! It's unacceptable! Incomprehensible! In- AAAAHH!" he cried in pain the moment Dani violently grabbed hold of his finger and twisted it mercilessly.
"What'd I say bout throwin one of your egg headed hissy fits again?" she said.
Bryan's face grimaced from the pain as he forced himself to look at the crazy devil woman. "To not to?"
"Ah, the boy learns," said Dani, letting go of the young man's finger. Bryan cringed as he cradled his aching finger in his hand.
" David said, catching the young man's attention. "Care to tell us what exactly this is?" inquired.
David swore the young man would have just toppled over with the sheer excitement in his eyes. He hastily fixed his coat and straightened his tie, brushing his brown hair to the back in an attempt to regain his highly educated appearance.
"Fascinating isn't it? It was sent here from Equestria this morning. Princess Celestia had requested S.W.O.R.D to run some tests on it," said Bryan.
David raised a baffled eyebrow before shifting his hazel eyes to the young man. It had always been a self conceived perspective of the young doctor that the Royal House was not too keen on offering much trust to the humans let alone artifacts of potential power. Especially since he was willing to bet Celestia herself knows that it was human nature to convert anything if not everything into weapons of mass destruction.
"Princess Celestia? That's strange, why would the Princess request the Bureau to run tests on Equestrian artifacts?" Dani inquired for she was just as perplexed as her cousin. "What exactly does it do?"
"Well that's the thing, we don't know and neither does the Princess," said Bryan. "But what we do know is that early scans had detected hits of some unknown energy within the core and it was fluctuating off the scale!
"With some tests and some luck, we may figure out its purpose and I know it's gonna be SOOOO AWESOME!" he said as giddy as overexcited fan girl upon meeting her one true idol as he cupped his face in his hands.
Almost without warning, Dani shot him a nasty glare and even before the young man had time to so much as cringe, she slapped him hard across the face. His entire head was sent snapping to the left with his face distorting comically from the violent smack.
do that again," she said.
"Whaat? I thought it made me sound twenty perc-" Bryan said, massaging his cheek in an effort to soothe the stinging.
"If you so much as FINISH that sentence, so help me GOD I'll KICK YOUR ASS!" Dani snarled, grabbing his collar violently before pulling her right fist to the back.
"Aaaaaaahhh! Not the face!"
David shrugged, rolling his hazel eyes at the incessant yet pointless commotion. The young doctor pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose while he moved a little closer toward to the case, squinting for a better view of the orb. The strangest most peculiar feeling coursed through his body, almost like a familiar feeling of déjà vu nagging at the back of his head the moment he laid eyes on it and yet he found no fathomable recollection.
What was this thing? Why does it intrigue him so? Closer, just a little more, he could almost feel the coldness of the translucent glass on the tip of his nose when all of a sudden the orb erupted in a flash of blue light.
"GUH! WHAT THE-!?" he cried, his arms waving frantically in the air as he stumbled backwards. His eyes widened the moment his heart took off at the speed of light.
Both Dani and Bryan snapped their attention to the young doctor, once again caught in confusion. David panted, once again downright refusing the urge to bumble like a mindless idiot. What just happened? He found no rational answer, no words, and no comprehension to what had just happened.
"Di-di-did you see that!? Tell me you saw that!" David cried, pointing deliriously. They shifted their half confused gaze at the glass case, only to find nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary.
"Okay, I give, what am I suppose to be lookin at?" Dani asked, raising her eyebrow in confusion.
"The ORB! it-IT GLOWED! Didn't you see the blue flash!?" David cried
"Flashed? Preposterous, it has never reacted in such a manner before. Are you certain you weren't imagining it?" Bryan said, a rather cheeky smirk plastered on his face.
"I swear! I'm not crazy!" David exclaimed.
The young doctor proceeded to look around, frantically looking for someone, anyone in the busy hallway that could have been seen what he saw. However, one by one they passed him with raised eyebrows and silent thoughts to what could possibly be wrong with him for striking up such a commotion.
"Pfft! Really now, Dani your cousin's a real specimen. Are you sure he hasn't completely checked out up there?" Bryan asked in a rather nervy tone.
David's eyes narrowed in irritation, finally understanding his cousin's never ending urge to kick the young man's face in simply just to wipe that smugness off his face for good. However the young lady shot Bryan possibly the nastiest glare ever conceived, her grip tightened around his collar as she dragged him closer to her face. Immediately, all that smugness vanished without a trace, only to be replaced with that of true terror.
"Oh, you did NOT just get sassy with me," she said "And what was that you said about my cousin?"
"No! No, nothing! I swear, it was just a joke! You know me," he stammered, putting on the silliest of grins in an effort to soothe the savage beast before him.
"You know maybe I should pay nice visit your room again. Frankly, I just adore your little 'collection', especially that one with the long green hair. Tsk, tsk it would be most unfortunate to see her in pieces!"
"NO! NO! Not my limited edition Hatsune Miku figurine! Anything but that! It's one of only ten! It cost me three months salary!" Bryan cried frantically.
The Devil's grin grew on the face of the young lady, causing the young man to shriek in fear. "Tell me, is this the face of someone who looks like she gives a fu-!?"
"Dani!" said David. "Leave the poor animal alone, I believe you've made your point,"
She pouted nonchalantly, half caught in disappointment. "Good news, it's your lucky day," she said before releasing the Bryan.
The young man was so scared his knees gave way causing him to fall over on his behind, staring wide eyed at the young lady while she made her way in the direction of her cousin.
"Come on," she said, tapping on David's shoulder.
The young doctor gave Bryan a simple salute as if to say 'see you later' before turning to follow the young lady. It took a full out minute before the young man stumbled to his feet, throwing a silent tantrum while mouthing the word 'B-I-T-C-H' over and over again to Dani's back, knowing well enough he was headed for a nice ass kicking if she would turn around.
"Sheesh, you know I used to take lunch money from whiny little creeps like him," said Dani.
"You're not a very nice person, you know that? " David said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"Pfft! And here I thought you knew me better than that. By the way, care to tell me what all that hoo-ha was about?" she asked, shifting her gaze to the young doctor.
David shrugged. "I know I'm not crazy Dani and I'm pretty certain I didn't imagine it. That orb, that thing flashed before my eyes and there's something else
"What? What is it?"
"It just felt so familiar somehow. It's almost as if I've seen it somewhere before but I just can't quite put my finger on it,"
" The young lady mumbled, shifted her hands to the back of her head, cradling it while she stared at the ivory ceiling above them.
"You know what, it's probably nothing," David said. "Maybe all that overtime at the hospital is finally getting to me" he said, forcing a chuckle.
Dani shifted her gaze to him, somehow feeling unconvinced by his statement although she prevented herself nosing herself into his thoughts. "Well, if you say so cous. But you know, if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here for you," she said with an assuring smile.
David smiled warmly "Thanks cous"
The young doctor knew it was a blatant lie but it would have to suffice for now. It was hard enough trying to convince himself that what he saw was real and not a symptom of fatigue madness, convincing someone else was near impossible.
Questions, questions and more questions began clouding his mind, all which came without answers. Everything was an enigma, this facility, that peculiar orb and the chance reunion with his long lost cousin. David shrugged, being peeved by the fact he would be forced to resort to being patient or risk driving himself insane. It seems that only time may finally unravel the answers he so desperately seeks.
"HEY WAIT A MINUTE! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO RE-ENGAGE THE LOCKS ON THIS THING! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! MY LIFE IS RUUUUIIIIINED!"
"Er, shouldn't we go back and help him?" David asked.
"Shut up and just keep walkin"
Miguel was certainly quite thorough when he gave the order to give David the grand tour of the place. From the confounded hallways which stretched like a maze to every corner of the facility to the sheer number of divisions located on all fifteen floors. The cousins made their way past several dozen different labs. Dani had expected the young doctor to be as giddy as a schoolboy on his first day of summer, however David merely observed silently in thought at a team of engineers covered in a concoction of sweat, grease and grime while in the midst of assembling a large multi terrain vehicle of some sort.
A direct contrast to the labs on the other floors which had scientists draped in lab coats, their hands gloved in latex while they worked with Petri dishes, phials and other lab-like equipment. Once again, the young doctor merely observed while they worked with compounds and chemicals that bore no resemblance to anything he had ever seen back in his day in medical school.
Although with every lab, every division they passed, Dani had begun growing wary of David's silence. It was so unlike him to show such indifference especially to a place like this, even when he was taken to lab on the twelfth floor, weapons testing. The myriads of explosions, gizmos and futuristic prototypes of guns and assault gears did nothing to draw out even a hint of interest. Once again, David observed, his hand absent mindedly cradled his chin yet once again in thought.
Dani found herself in an unexpected dilemma. Could it be possible that he was completely uninterested simply because he had already made up his mind on leaving by week's end? No, he was interested, she can always tell by glimmer in his eyes when situations or objects tend to catch his fancy. Maybe, just maybe he was being plagued with questions of his own.
"Fifth Floor, V.A.N.G.A.R.D Division" said the voice from the elevator.
"Alright, listen up and I don't want you day dreamin away on me again. H.A.V.O.K is our tactical strike force, know S.W.A.T? Yeah, just like that cept for the fact they're far better equipped and trained.
S.W.O.R.D stands for 'Special Weapons Offence Research and Development'. The eggheads run the labs around here. Weapons, vehicles, you name it and they'll probably have someone workin on it. Now V.A.N.G.A.R.D stands for-"
" David said all of a sudden.
The young lady paused, her gaze shifted to meet his own. "Somethin up cous?"
"Nah, I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed" David replied.
"Overwhelmed?" Dani raised an eyebrow.
"Don't get me wrong, the Bureau, this place. Everything just took my breath away but remember what I said earlier? Isn't this a little too much for a mere bunch of maniacs like the HLF?"
Dani shrugged "Alright, honestly I've been instructed to keep that classified until you've been formally and officially briefed. I was supposed repeat what Col. Miguel said, the whole 'we live in dangerous times' speech.
"But you're my cousin and I've spent the past couple of years keepin my family in the dark so I figure I owe it to you to be truthful for once," she said.
The young doctor merely listened in silence, never once did he avert his gaze from his cousin.
"Recently after weeks of undercover and reconnaissance, we stormed one of their hideouts down in Brookyln. It was a routine raid, no heroics and minimal resistance.
We expected to find the usual, kidnapped Ponies, weapons, you know but what we found in there changed everything,"
The young doctor's eyes widened. "Z.O.H.A.R Weapons
they were real?" he inquired.
Dani nodded "It was unlike anythin we've ever seen, truckloads of them enough for a small army. As far as we know, the existence of Z.O.H.A.R based weapons was all but a myth.
Sides the only reason why we weren't wheeled out in caskets that day was cause we got the drop on them, had it turned out otherwise, well you know
" Dani frowned.
The young doctor tucked his hands into the large pockets in his coat. "What of the weapons at this very moment?" he asked.
"S.W.O.R.D is currently runnin tests on them as we speak. They're tryin their best to find any evidence that could point us in the right direction. Seems that luck hasn't been on our side,"
David brought his hand to his chin, hues of bright hazel staring idly as in thought.
"Don't you think it's a little strange? We're talking about billions of dollars worth of advance tech here. There's no way the HLF could possibly afford all of that that even with all their assets combined.
Could it be possible that that someone could have been funding them from the shadows?" he asked.
"That's exactly what I've been thinkin Davy but as of now we've no leads or suspects. Sides, weapons aside, we've bigger problems to deal with," said Dani
The young doctor gazed somewhat suspiciously at his cousin. "Define 'bigger problems'," he said.
Dani cleared her throat hastily. "I know I said I'd be honest with you but I think it would be best if we let the Colonel brief you on that part," she said with a nervous smile.
"It's protocol" Dani interrupted.
David scoffed silently to himself, clever girl, she was well aware that morally he could never ever bring himself to break protocol even back at the hospital. Besides, everyone knew it would be complete and utter madness, especially with that devil woman running every crook and cranny of that place. Many have tried and many have failed, miserably, poor bastards the lot of them.
these guys on V.A.N.G.A.R.D, where exactly are they from? You can't expect me to believe you had them grown out of test tubes now could you?" David asked in a ditch to change the subject.
Dani merely smirked in return. "Here and there, they come from all over the world. Mexico, Moscow, Kolkata, Okinawa and of course good ole United States,"
"I bet their resumes are impressive to boot," David added.
"Spetsnaz, Special Forces, CIA, you name it. Frankly I bet you'd be the only 'normal' addition to the team," Dani chuckled.
"Oh normal, HAAAYYY," David's eyes narrowed unamused.
Dani laughed "They're a bunch of morons but they're the best the world has to offer. They're highly trained and extremely capable of operating on any terrain under any circumstance. Frankly I'd never seen more-"
However before she could find the opportunity to finish, the both of them heard loud noises from further down the hallway. Although it was tough to make out at first the moment they got within earshot of a metal door, it definitely sounded as if someone was banging savagely on a piece of metal while yelling furiously in a thick Scottish accent.
"Oh gawd damn this infarnal contraption! Jus gimme my dam kaffee or I sware I'll send yeou to the mun!"
"Yew zo know itz not prugged in right?"
I kneu dat,"
Daniela felt her teeth grind in annoyance "Dampseyyyy
David merely gazed at her from the corner of his eyes. "Most impressive"
"Ugh, let's just get this over with,"
The metal door slid open to soft hissing of pistons and the brief grinding of mechanical gears as two cousins entered what appears to be a well lit common room. David pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose while he studied his surroundings.
It was roomy, big enough to accommodate a New York penthouse, lavishness and all. However the decorations did little to intrigue him for he was far more interested in the four people in the room.
"Ah! Nothin gits blood pumpin and yer kilt a-wavin like kick-arse cup of kawfee!"
David finally had a face to match that rather obnoxious voice. It was a young man in his mid twenties, roughly five feet tall with brown eyes and curly hair with well groomed beard draped in a grew long sleeve shirt and khaki pants.
The expression of satisfaction, maybe even caught in filled his face as he leaning against the counter top, taking a deep whiff of the strong aroma that radiated from his 'I Love New York' coffee mug.
"Oughh, the taste, the smell! Now that's aye call kawfee"
"Yew're an idziot, yew know tzhat,"
The thick Russian accent brought the young doctor to the rather bulky, well rounded young man sitting by the round glass dining table. Also mid twenties, he deduced he was about six feet tall. His jet black hair was extremely short, shaven almost to the skin although the top left thicker than his sides.
He face was kept clean of facial hair with the exception of a thick mustache kept over his lip and around his mouth. Other than the black jeans he was wearing, the gray t shirt he wore was almost a size too small for him judging by how tightly it wrapped over his bulging muscles.
"Well skrew yew, yew Russion fag!" said the young man, sticking out his middle finger in insult. But the young man merely groaned, flipping the next page of a body builder's magazine he had been reading.
"ECHK HEM!" Dani exclaimed and almost immediately, all eyes shifted in her direction.
"Well, well, eif it ain't the commander, late fer once I sae" said the young man with a smirk.
"Can it Dempsey! I was on official business," snapped Dani.
"Leikly storay" Dempsey replied with a smirk.
Noticing the stranger in the while lab coat, the Russian from the table proceeded to place his hands together before laying his ferociously piercing eyes on David, making the young doctor cringed with uneasiness. It was almost like being stared down by Siberian tiger, blood thirsty, savage and feral knowing well enough that you were about to meet your maker.
"Who'z tza spaghetti?" he said in his rough Russian voice.
"Eh?"David muttered, feeling his eye twitch at the question. Spaghetti? What on earth was that suppose to mean?
"The 'spaghetti', Nikolai, happens to be our new recruit and my cousin to boot. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop lookin at him as if he were lunch," said Dani, her eyes narrowing.
"Wvell, I am feeling littzle haungrie" he said with an unnerving smile.
"Oh piss off Nik!" snapped Dani.
"So this is that there docter of a kousin you've been talkin about eh Dani? Fanny, I kan't see the resemblance," said Dampsey.
David raised an eyebrow, however he suddenly felt someone grab his hand, shaking it enthusiastically. His gaze shifted to his side as he saw a young man, maybe in his late teens clasping both his hands around David's right. His skin was dark, maybe Indian judging by the white turban wrapped tightly around his head. He stood at barely four feet tall, dressed in his traditional Indian clothing with fabric of dull yellow with a purple vest worm over it.
"Hi there, it has been a real while since anyone joined V.A.N.G.A.R.D, pleasure to be making your acquaintance. My name is Hadji, I'm in charge of tech" he said with an apparent Indian accent.
"Er, hi, I'm-" David said.
"Dr. David Stone, in addition to tech, I am also in charge of reconnaissance and I've read everything about you and may I say that I truly am impressed," he said with the brightest of smiles.
The young doctor felt his eye twitch again. So this is how Miguel knew so much about him, he had this little peep squeak that spy on him and his personal life. Imagine having every, itty-bitty little detail snitched to that man by this no good little-
"Er, Dr Stone, your grip is kind of tight," said Hadji nervously.
"Oh, sorry!" David said, releasing the young man's hand as he massaged it gently.
"Aaaah mi amor! You have returned to me! Why didn't you say hello this morning? I missed you sooo,"
"WHAT THE HECK! Stefan! Get off me you horny piece of shit!" Dani snarled.
David's eyes widened, shifting his attention to that of his cousin, her arms pushing away a young man somewhat in his late twenties. His olive skin bore a resemblance to that of Miguel and with a name like Stefan, it was not hard to deduce that he was Hispanic origins. He was dressed in a black slacks and a black shirt, half buttoned at the collar like a desperate Casanova would in hopes that chest hair would add to his attraction.
His hair was jet black, gelled neatly to the back. His arms were wrapped around the young lady, his lips pressed in a kiss although his face was kept at a fair distance with Dani's boot pressed firmly against his cheek. Dampsey erupted in a hail of laughter, having to place his mug down on the counter top as he clutched his stomach.
"Oh! Oh! This nevar gets old!" he said, wiping the tears from his eyes.
David merely stared, half caught between disturbed and surprised. "Is this normal?" he asked.
"Oh, it happenz all da time. Ole Stefan ere's a bit of orny bastard and he haz a crush on er. So you're the new feesh on da market eh? By da way, I'm Mattias but yeou can call me Dempsey, all me friends call me that," he said, extending a hand to the young man.
" David greeted nervously in return, taking the young man's hand in his own.
"And muscles fer brains ovar there is Nikolai, oi! Say hi yer dumb sheet!" exclaimed Dampsey.
"Pri-VET," he said, paying no attention to the young man.
"Bah, don't mind im. Jus don't be getting on es bad side nao kay? Don't want to be
eaten nao would ya?" asked Dempsey, his right eye widened unnervingly as he got uncomfortably close to the young doctor.
wouldn't want that," David said with a really nervous smile, desperately trying to back away.
"Stefan, I swear to God I'm going to shoot you again if you don't let go!"
"Oh mi amor! You're so fiery when you're angry!" he said with a cheeky grin.
However, the moment he noticed the young man at the door, he darted away from Dani, extending a friendly hand to the young man. "Hola, allow me to introduce myself, the name is Santiago
Stefan Santiago, remember it mi amigo," he said, his voice suave and somewhat enchanting made so by his Spanish accent.
"Nice to meet you too, I guess," David said, greeting the young man with a nervous shake.
"Good, I wanted to make a good first impression for my future cousin in la- AIEE!," the young man wailed the moment he felt the butt of a handgun being hammered into his skull.
"DON'T GO GIVIN MY COUSIN WRONG IDEAS YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Dani snarled
David merely stared, completely dumbfounded by this little entourage. It kept playing through his mind over the possibilities of this turning out to be a colossal mistake, either that or Miguel had a cruel sense of humor. Who were these people? Why were they so
odd? This could not possibly be V.A.N.G.A.R.D now could it?
"Urggghh! Oooh, you're so secksy when you're shaahahahahhaking me vioooolently like taahahahahahahttt!" Stefan cried as he was shaken violently by Dani.
"GRRRRR!!!" she snarled.
"Oi! What say we all throw a parrty fer the new guy! We're gonna need booze, lots of it! Bwahahahaha!!!" Dempsey cried proudly. Nikolai shot the young Scotsman a nasty glare as he groaned, turning another page of his magazine.
"I still am not getting why he likes the 'booze' so much. Every time he throws a party he is wanting the booze," said Hadji.
David's eyes narrowed, he has had enough.
"I'm gonna skin you, cut you open, rip out all you're insides and turn you into cup-WHOA!" Dani cried as she was yanked away by her arm.
"Dani, could I have a word with you? Like, outside?" David inquired.
There was concern in her eyes the moment the realized the gravity in the tone of his voice. "Well sure cous," she said before dropping Stefan onto the floor.
As the metal door slid open, the two cousins proceeded to exit the room, leaving behind vexing bursts of triumphant laughter from a person functioning with half a brain and the dizzied groans with balls for one.
"Alright, what's bitin you cous?" Dani asked as she folded her arms.
"What's biting me? WHAT'S BITING ME? You gotta be freaking kidding me! Am I suppose to believe that those, those CLOWNS are the one and only V.A.N.G.A.R.D?" David erupted in a fit of rage.
"Well what were you expecting? The yes sir, no sir, I have a stick up in my ass sir sort?" Dani asked, clearly expecting and not to mention amused by her cousin's outburst.
"As a matter of fact, that one of it, yes. Dani, I came here because I wanted to make a difference, to maybe do some good out there in the world. Not play college frathouse with
" said David, at a complete lost for words.
"THEM!" he blurted with a gesture of his hand.
Dani shrugged "David, I know they don't seem like much but aren't you a little too quick to be jumpin the gun here? Weren't you the one who used to tell me not to judge a book by its cover?"
"Believe me, I think I've seen enough to draw my own conclusions. You know what, I'm not even going to wait a week, I'm just going to march straight up to Miguel's office and-," David said as he turned to leave.
"Oh come on Davy!" The young lady said, grabbing hold of David's shoulder. "There's more to them than that, least you could do is give them a chance,"
"Give them a chance!? Why the heck would I want do that?! All the people in V.A.N.G.A.R.D are KERAZY!" David cried.
"Beggin you a pardon sir but I reckon I resent that statement,"
Hues of bright hazel peered curiously over his shoulder with the rest of his body following suit. The young doctor found himself face to face with the figure of a rough shaven young man standing boldly before him.
He was roughly six feet tall, draped in short ebon leather duster coat worn snugly over his grey shirt with his matching black denim jeans and boots to match. His hands were gloved in a pair of fingerless black leather gloves. His then right proceeded to push up on his grey Stetson, revealing his bright emerald green eyes hidden briefly hidden in shadows but a moment ago. A leather holster hung from his right side with a polished silver revolver resting snugly within.
"Howdy," he greeted with a brazen smile.
"Wesson, you're back early for once. How're the new grunts holdin up? Got potential?" said Dani
"I'd reckon they've had enough of me fer one day. Sides, can't be pushin them greenhorns too hard, don't wanna break them before old man Burns get his hands on em," he said, his accent clearly southern bound. His gaze shifted over to the young man beside her.
"Let me guess, you must be that there famous cousin Dani's always talkin about, Dr. David Stone right?" he asked, extending his hand in greeting. "Wesson T. Banon, V.A.N.G.A.R.D's second in command, pleasure to be makin your acquaintance,"
"Howdy, I mean hi!" David blurted, returning his greeting almost absent mindedly. The relief of finally being able to meet someone normal in this circus immediately put his mind at ease.
"Gettin jittery on your first day? Don't sweat it partner, you'll get used to it. Oh, and by the way, that there's Rin, Rin Katsuragi," said Wesson.
"Huh?" David swore he could have taken a giant leap backward when he realized a young girl standing beside him. Where did she come from? She wasn't there a moment ago. How on earth did she get so close to him without him noticing?
She was of Asian descent, with long straight black hair, standing a foot shorter than he was, dressed in a dark blue hoodie and long pair of sweatpants to match sucking indifferently on a blue Popsicle stick. David's eyes narrowed restlessly from the way she was looking at him. The young girl's deep, arctic, almost lifeless black eyes gazing ominously at him almost with the intention of petrifying his very soul.
He swallowed hard as he nervously extended a hand. "Em, hi, I'm Dr. David Stone
" however before he received a greeting in return, Wesson caught his hand.
"WHOA there partner! I wouldn't do that if I were you. She may look cute and all but she sure don't like bein touched. You don't wanna know what happened to the last poor coot who did," he said.
David's eyes widened, feeling a cold sweat run down his neck. "Duly noted," he said.
"It's okay, she don't talk much but you can bet your saddle that she'd always be there ta save your ass when the shit hits the fan," Wesson said with a confident smile.
The young doctor nodded nervously, even realizing that Rin's gaze had never left him, not even for a second.
Dani chuckled "Rin, give him some space, he looks like he's gonna have a heart attack," she said. Her piercing ebon hues shifted to her commanding officer, nodding she took a step backward.
Then without warning, the hallway erupted in a half of sirens followed by the flashing of red lights. Amber strips of bright light bearing the word 'EMERGENCY' appeared like a caution strip across the ivory walls. "What in blazes?" David inquired.
The sounds of a monotone ringtone had Dani reaching into her pocket before pulling out a small transparent square-like device before tapping along the glossy Plexiglas surface. "Stone, talk to me," she said.
A holographic image projected from the device, bearing the face of a seasoned veteran. His white beard and hair was kept short to standard army code and he definitely had seen better days judging by the battle scars on his face.
"This is Burns! Get your punk ass down to the docks right now, we got ourselves a situation!" he snarled.
"On our way, just don't die on me before we get there old man," Dani said with a smirk.
The man gave an unnerving smile. "Who the heck do you think you're talkin to? I'll have you kn-" he said, only to pause when he realized an unfamiliar face in the background.
David's eyes widened. "Dani
?" he asked.
" said Burns.
"Catch up on your own time, we gotta move!" Dani cried as she switched it off before slipping it back into her pocket. "Let's roll!" she said, opening the door to the common room.
"You heard the lady, move your ass!" Wesson cried before taking off down the hallway. No sooner than that, the rest of the crew bolted out of the room.
"Aww! And I just got da booze open too!" Dempsey groaned.
"Now is not the time to be drinking, you should know better," said Hadji
"Shut yer trap yer Ghandi piece of sheet!"
"Whvy don't any of you evar shut up?" groaned Nikolai, dragging the almost unconscious Steffan behind him by the collar of his shirt.
"Mi Amor! Do not worry, I, Stefan Santiago will never let you down!" he said only to have Dani shoot him a nasty glare on his way out.
David tucked his hand into his coat pockets before making his way to the common room door "Well
looks like you guys are off, I'll just wait till you- YIEEE!" he cried, feeling someone drag him away by the back of his collar.
"Uh ah, you're coming too!" said Dani as she paced hastily down the hallway.
"Eh?! But wait, I haven't been formally briefed! I have no training!" he cried, desperately trying free himself from being dragged against his will.
"What better way to learn than a hand's on experience! Just like grandpa used to do," she said.
"But what about protocol!?"
"Who gives a shit!?"
(Continue to Part 2...)