Chapter 3

Even though the threat they faced was gone, the members of Alpha team were unable to rest. One of their members, Grey, had been seriously injured in the battle. His left arm and both legs had been shot off by one of the tanks’ guns. The only reason he was still alive was mostly due to his genetic enhancements. Grey, like all members of Alpha team, was a genetically enhanced organism or GEO: a person whose genetic makeup had been manipulated to give them a physical advantage or unique ability that would be beneficial in battle.

Grey was unable to feel pain and that allowed him to take the brunt of the damage and keep fighting as long as the injury wasn’t fatal. His blood also clotted quickly, and this factor stopped him from dying of blood loss, however the wounds were still open, and the risk of infection was great. He had refused any treatment offered to him and had instead resorted to starting petty arguments with Ryna, the only member of the team who had received formal medical training. She tried for hours to sterilize and suture his wounds, but he resisted.

“You need to have those injuries looked after, otherwise you could die!” Ryna persisted, as she unstrapped him from her back and set him gently on the ground.

“Fuck off, there’s no point in saving a torso!” Grey growled.  “Look at me: I’ve lost both my legs above the knee. I’ve been left with only one arm. Besides, I’d rather die than have you touch me. With your piss-poor skills, you’re more suited to working on corpses anyway.”

“You shouldn’t talk that way considering you were dumb enough to get yourself blown to bits, and Ryna had to carry your sorry ass on her back like a baby,” Vex chided his rude teammate. 

“Don’t you start with me, pissant,” Grey warned.

“How’d you let yourself get so royally fucked up anyway? I mean, you basically sat there and let one gunner shoot off all your limbs,” Vex sighed, “I guess juggernauts are slow in both brain and body.”

“Huh? What the hell did you just say to me? I’ll crush you!”

“I would sure like to see you try with one arm.” Vex said, laughing at him.

“Bastard, I’ll beat you to a pulp with this one arm!” Grey snarled.

“Knock it off!” Xand had returned from taking care of the curfew breaker and her mood was more than a little sour. “Vex, go make yourself useful and scan the remains of those tanks.”

“Fine, I’ll see if I can find any spare parts for the talking torso.”

Grey grit his teeth, “You are just asking for a beating!” 

“Oh, I’m so scared. Look, my legs are shaking,” Vex said, laughing as he dodged a large rock Grey threw at him. With Grey now focusing on Vex, Ryna snuck behind him with a syringe containing a powerful sedative. She swiftly jabbed the needle into his neck without him noticing a thing. Soon, he was sound asleep, and she got to work tending his various injures.

“Ryna, once you’re done with that, why don’t you turn in for the night? We’ve got a long day ahead of us…”

“Okay, but why don’t we all get some sleep? I mean, there’s nothing out here anymore, right?”

“No. I’ll be keeping first watch, followed by Vex, then Alex. We can’t afford to let our guard down— not after what we saw out here.”

“Oh… yeah. I guess you’re right. But it’s very hard to sleep with that image though. I knew the rebels were vicious, but—but I never imagined they could do something like that!” She shivered as she relived the sight of the disfigured faces and mangled bodies of the members of Delta. “How could they do that to all of them?” she whimpered.

“It wasn’t all of them… did you notice? Their captain and a scout were left pretty much intact save for a bullet to the head. They were both normal humans. They only had a few alterations, nothing major,” Xand noted. “But there’s no way to know who’s who unless they had that info given to them.”

“What’re you saying… you think there’s sympathizers higher up than we thought?” Vex asked, returning with a haul of electrical equipment from the wreckage.

“Only explanation for the advanced weapons, tanks and the knowledge of who is and isn’t a GEO,” Xand concluded.

“If that’s the case then we can’t trust anybody, especially if they’re targeting GEOs,” Vex replied. “Delta team was obviously set up, and we were the next target. What do you think, Captain?”

“Hard to know for sure, but it looks that way. Even if we had proof, it’s not like they would listen to us. We only need to report that Delta is gone, nothing more. We keep this info to ourselves, got it?” Vex and Ryna nodded in agreement and headed off to bed as Xand took the first watch.

Morning came swiftly and with it, a flurry of activity as soldiers swarmed the area. Alpha team stood nearby as they searched the region for any remnants of the enemy. “Alpha team, what’s your report?” the commanding officer asked in a manner that suggested he was less than enthused about being there. “Looks like nothing’s out here, I don’t even know why we were called in.”

“For extraction, sir,” Xand said, as the man slowly turned towards her as he lit a cigarette.

“What did you need extraction for?” he said, raising an eyebrow, “You took care of the problem, right?”

“Our vehicle was destroyed when we arrived, and we discovered that Delta team had been wiped out, we made that call three days ago!” She said, trying not to express her agitation.

“Three days… It took you guys that long? I thought you were supposed to be elites, and Delta team got taken out?” he sighed, “Geeze, what a waste. Better them than us, right?” he said with a slight laugh.

“Bastard,” Xand muttered through gritted teeth.

“Huh, you say something, GEO?” his eyes narrowed menacingly as he momentarily dropped his nonchalant attitude.

“N-Nothing, sir,” Xand said, trying to regain her composure. The day was already long enough, and she didn’t need him making things more unbearable for her.

“Alright, we’ll be heading out now,” Richard said as started on his third cigarette. “No use hanging around here anymore.”

“Wait, what about the bodies? You’ve recovered all the others, but you haven’t picked up Delta team yet.”

“Couldn’t find ‘em,” he shrugged.

“They’re just north of here; I can help you find— !”

“I won’t waste time looking; besides, looks like one of yours didn’t fare so well either,” he pointed as Xand turned to see Ryna shrieking and crying as she desperately held on to a black body bag as two soldiers tried pulling her and the bag in opposite directions.

“What are you doing? Tell your men to stop!” Xand yelled as Richard laughed in her face.

“You elite GEOs do fetch a nice price if someone ships your corpses back to R&D. Delta was full of low tier trash, so no money in bringing their bodies back; your friend is gonna net my crew a lot of gold crowns!”

“You can’t do that… he’s still alive!”

“He hasn’t moved for a while; besides, his body is a mangled mess. There’s no use for him now. Let R&D take his corpse and see what they can do with it!” Richard chuckled, “I hear they do all kinds of weird shit in that facility, and since that’s the place where you guys came from, it’s only fitting he should be sent back there. It’ll be…a homecoming of sorts.”

“How dare you…you can’t…” Xand struggled to find the words to express her thoughts as her blood boiled.

“Hey! Stop right now!” a soldier shouted as Ryna broke free and charged at two men who were now dragging the body bag to their vehicle. The man she had escaped from ran after her, using the butt of his gun to hit her on the back of the head with a loud crack. He then swiftly pushed her back to the ground and pointed his rifle at her face as Ryna looked up at the man with eyes full of anger and fear with streams of blood running down her face.

Xand couldn’t stand it any longer; she pulled out her own gun and pressed it against Richard’s forehead faster than he could react. Alex, Vix and Vex were also pointing their weapons at the three soldiers around Ryna and Grey. As more of Richard’s men discovered what was happening, they moved in, guns drawn ready to fire.

“I could report you all as traitors for this!” Richard exclaimed, his voice hoarse and his eyes wide. “This is treason against the Crown!”

“Tell your men to back off and let Ryna and Grey go, or I’ll kill you,” Xand said, her dark eyes flashed with a brief blue light.

He clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes, “Your friend is dead and there’s no point keeping dead things around. Just get over it and give up.” His eyes darted around to his squad members as they closed in. “You kill me and none of you will make it out of here alive.”

“Commander!” one of the men near the body bag shouted in terror as the bag began to move. Everyone stood frozen as the bag twitched and wriggled around. They could hear the muffled sounds of a disgruntled man cursing. The zipper on the bag gradually moved, and the two soldiers instantly moved away from the bag as if lightening had struck them.

Fingers wiggled their way through the slight opening and pushed the zipper down further. Suddenly a head popped out and began uttering a slew of curses. Grey was now fully awake and very angry.

“Son of a bitch! Why the hell did you drug me, Ryna?! And how’d I end up inside of this fucking bag?” Grey looked around and saw the two shell-shocked soldiers. “Oh, so you bastards finally showed up. And then you have the nerve to treat me like a goddamn corpse?!”  

“A few hours ago, you were acting as if you wanted to die, asshole!” Ryna yelled. 

“Don’t get cute with me!” Grey snarled. “These idiots thought I was dead because of you!”

“Really? How is this my fault? They could’ve easily checked your vitals, but they didn’t!” Ryna argued. During this exchange, Xand turned her attention away from Richard just long enough for him to gain the upper hand. He quickly grabbed her gun and managed to wrestle it out of her hand.

“Well now, things have turned in my favor. I wish I could tell Colonel Grimms about your traitorous actions and let him deal with you, but he’s been replaced by a higher ranking official. Looks like it will have to be his decision. I hope he shows you abominations no mercy,” Richard said with a gleeful look in his eyes. As he said this, he twisted her arm so hard she thought it would break. She watched as her teammates were tied up and placed in the back of a military vehicle. If they fought back, they could easily overwhelm the soldiers, but Xand knew in her heart that an altercation would only serve to strengthen negative sentiments against GEO’s and lead to more persecution of their kind. A peaceful surrender was their only possible way out. Hopefully, this new official was more understanding than Grimms, but she wouldn’t hold her breath.

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