I don't know about you, but I always thought that the reason some soldiers could sleep after the battle was over was that they decided to be kids. You see, when we're kids, when we were sitting back on tv relaxing and watching are cartoons. Those were the days where I would watch shows where the bad guys were simply the bad guys, and the good guys were the good guys. And while yeah, we knew that real life wasn't really like that when the world stopped making sense and life grew harder harsher, who wouldn't want to be a kid again? Cause I definitely would've liked the turn back the clock if I ever innovation that chance. Hello, reader, my name is Belen (Arrow in Greek), and I am an agent of the Pantheon.
These past few weeks have been hectic all things considered as with our bounty over the Paladin's head released; we've been pushed to our limits so that we could be ready for what the Trinity is calling the Sweep. I didn't know what the actual operation was given that we were on Rank 2, at least with this being at least a 4. But just because we were trapped in need to know and prepared to leave at a moment's notice doesn't mean that we still could n't have some fun.
"And with your attack negated and life points at zero, I'll finish you off with my last attack," I say as triumphantly as possible.
And as my friend wallows in yet another defeat. I take my 15 bucks in splendor, as I say.
"Sorry, Basil, but it seems I win again," I say, reveling in my victory.
"Yeah, I still don't understand how you've remain undefeated in Yugioh."
"I've told you before, Basil, I just follow my gut, and it, unfortunately, is always right," I say with a hint of sadness.
We finished the game just in time as suddenly we got another "prophecy" from Delphi on our phones. When I first joined up a few months back, all the codenames and procedures were a little bit overwhelming, but I'll be damned if I didn't say that they weren't organized. One of their many innovations was their app: Delphi, which would make Siri and Alexa jealous. As we read our prophecies, we immediately went down to business as a new mission was on the horizon.
We quickly clicked the mission as suddenly a face showed up; it was Hermes. His pale face and blue eyes radiated professionalism yet clashed with his light ginger hair and freckles. Either way, he kept on talking as he displayed our mission.
"If you have received this message, then you have been selected to partake in a mission of grave importance with me taking point. With Operation Sweep underway and Titan distracted, now is the time for us to take over one of our biggest enemies: the Underworld. Across the eastern seaboard, we've been getting reports on a recent economic depression across the Eastern Seaboard. After round the clock searching from the Muses, we've discovered that this is the work of a cyberterrorist called the Omniscience. And while we do not know their exact location, we do know that at the very least, they are in San Jose, and most likely have blackmailed subordinates around every corner. You will all split into pairs and make daily reports to me and track her whereabouts. We'll either offer a hand or fist if needed, but either way, the people will not suffer anymore from a hacker who slinks in the dark."
The messages click off in an instant, and as a tense silence fills the air, all I say was.
"Well, Basil, let's get to work," I say, stretching my legs and cracking my back.
"Always did wanted to see the tech capital of the world. I would love to see what's on the market before we catch our cyberterrorist. " Basil said we moved out.
We leave our respective quarters as the hallways soon went from idle transversal to an untied stream of people. Basil tried to complain, but his call was lost in the crowded hall. As I kept moving ever forward, I'm reminded of the purpose of our group. You see, the Pantheon is very much like a tree in a way. Our trainees are the roots and the Trinity the top of the brush specialized groups like the battle/air ready Raptors, the stealthy Furies, and more are the branches. And my group specifically is the trunk: The Argonauts. A group made to serve as a backbone to the other groups where we prefer versatility over specialization. One minute I could be helping find a suspect, the other I could be studying the ballistics of our next few weapons. I'm honestly fine with doing any type of work, anything to make... No, no, just keep moving, Belen.
Basil and I were some of the first people to venture into the city, and once we were capable of getting a hotel, Basil playfully took in the sights as I got to work. It took a while, but we were finally able to assume our cover and start searching. Blackmail is a tricky thing; in a world were digging up dirt has never been easier. Which means it would be even harder to say cover it up or trust someone. But even with that fact it got a little bit frustrating when even with a week passing, we only had a couple of weak leads considering the supposed scope of our enemy as I clicked away at my computer tirelessly looking for something that could add to the conversation Basil finally back with supplies.
"Where were you? You've been gone for like 2 hours," I said with emotionless worry.
"Wow, I can see you care so much, I went to go get some actual ingredients that didn't just need a dash of water and a chuck in a microwave. I also got into a conversation with this nice chef passing by and got some neat spices I want to try out. I also saw some great sparring equipment and-"
It was about that time where I started to blank out, but this time, not for the usual reason. I realized that we were completely doing this from the wrong angle.
"Basil, you unfocused genius!"
Basil, confused instinctively, stated, "What for?"
"Big tech moguls and celebrities leave too much of an impact, but ordinary people, those with an almost too clean of a record, like us would be a far more elusive people. Which means we should be looking for an innocent person instead."
Basil "Damn, that's smart, and the higher-ups haven't meant promoted you why?"
"You and I both know that I'm not cut out for that, now c'mon we're going hunting."
Under the guise of ordinary police, we managed to investigate a couple of neighborhoods, the more picture-perfect guise, the better. As I was looking at myself in the uniform and buttoning up my shirt, a light reminder flashed in my mind.
"Look in the mirror before you button up, you've always sucked at doing it on your own," she'd use to say.
Hours passed, and by late afternoon, we were both tired, but still knocked on one of the last possible suspects: a marine vet named Murphy Fletcher who had gotten into a messy divorce and has somehow managed to live on pretty well for himself. As the man opened the door, we made our presence known; Basil played good cop as asking him questions while I measured him up. Murphy didn't look anymore ordinary next to us. Basil was a Caucasian with a scruffy yet king like look to him. He had a pretty muscular build and relatively long brown hair, in another life, I would buy him a drink. I wore my Greek descent on my sleeve with curly black hair with premature grey and was much skinnier. Murphy was a very dirty blonde with a slightly bigger and burlier build than the both of us. The conversation's atmosphere was as tense as a storm cloud, as Murphy was almost robotically calm. When enough time had passed to properly assert ourselves, we bombarded him with questions. We asked him if he knew about any cyber-attacks if he had seen any suspicious activity, the usual.
"No, officer, in terms of my bank account and my personal information, I have fortunately never encountered any problems as of late, guess I'm lucky. I also don't think that there is anyone suspicious beyond just nameless neighborhood gossip though I will be more careful from now on. Thank you for the warning. I'll tell you if I see anything else."
With a seemingly innocent response, Basil went to the "bathroom," while a minute or two later, I asked for some water. Murphy quietly accepted as he moved into the kitchen. Meanwhile, I decided to stand up and look for any other signs amid deadly silence.
The room was nothing more than a typical and nostalgic home, with a set of pictures of his daughter that made my heart wince. I kept looking at the pictures, but suddenly my gut drops. Instinctively I dove behind the couch with an angry Murphy armed with a silenced gun fired at it! Bullets ripped through the leather couch as I reasonably drew my pistol, waiting for a chance to prove why I was one of the best shots I knew. But Basil instead proved his worth as the better fighter. He quickly closed in and avoided a sloppy shot as they both struggled for control of the gun! They both were around even footing as their respective advances caused bullets skewered the tv, pictures, and desk. When the two finally reached the kitchen, Basil both removed the gun and delivered a swift couple of hits.
Murphy is knocked towards a convenient knife drawer and takes both that and knife to engage in dangerous close combat. With quick thinking, I decided to look around the home and find anything that could be used as a weapon, deciding on an urn at the last moment. With a quick warning, I threw the urn at Murphy's head! Using the distraction, Basil then fires a hearty push kick as he takes a nearby towel as his newest weapon! A stunned Murphy tried to take a straight jab but quickly loses the knife in a towel created a twist that quickly disarms him. Eventually, Basil drags him to the floor with a knee to the back. Like a dog, he struggled to get out of the go, but I took control as I leveled my gun to his head.
"90%, that's the likelihood of living after a shot to the head. So unless you're as lucky as you say, you're going to tell us everything we need to know about the Omniscience."
"It doesn't matter; you 2 are already dead anyway. She knows you here, and if you've brought any others with, then there about is dead as you. I don't know who you people are, but believe me, you messed with the wrong person," Murphy said with pity in his eyes.
With no time to waste, I pistol-whipped his head as we decided to leave the interrogation for later. Basil quickly got him in the trunk as I turned on the car and called for reinforcements. All I got was static, and crossfire as my blood ran cold. It had only been a couple of minutes, but already it seems that the very city has turned into our enemy. Once we entered the city, Basil searched for a closed-off building we could secure while I could least keep us moving.
"Um, there is a couple of closed-off patient care centers, and ooh Ted's Diner is also closed. 5-star rating and they even have a special sauce that I could-"
"Basil, if we survive this I swear to god I will-"
Suddenly from out of the blue, a car crashes right into the right side of the car and makes us swerve out of control! My vision blurred, and body quakes as next thing I know, my door was wedged between a fire hydrant and my arm had been bruised beyond belief. Realizing my surroundings, I look to see a groaning Basil and safe Murphy. I finally turned around to see what hit us, but there was no driver. Yet like something out of a horror movie, the car still backed up to gain some distance. A chill went up to my spine as I stood there motionless. A host of images long past completely petrify me as all I thought over and over again.
"So, this is what they went through."
Though my hazy spell was instantly broken as Basil screamed my name at the top of my lungs and giving me the time to plop myself out of the car and roll out of the way of a timely pulse stopping crash! With Basil in tow, we dipped into the nearby alleyway with our package. Along the way, we merged into the chaos we saw crashed cars, flickering lights, and even the death of some of the men we recognized. After a dozen near-deaths, we managed to find Ted's Diner and scrub the cams to hideout. As we sat exhausted from hours of the conflict, I still tried working out any other plan we could think of. I kept on begging for assistance while Basil kept running his mouth.
"Well, at least the soda machine still works, nothing like a good Diet cola to clear the-."
"For once in your life can you please shut the hell up! For once can you just focus on the mission! For once, could you help me,"I say with the last sentence bringing me to frustrated tears.¨
Months of pain finally caught up with me as like before I wished that I could feel nothing. But once again my friend seemed to jump in.
̈ ̈If you think that I constantly distract then you are definitely right. I mean face the facts Belen we are surrounded on all sides with no ammunition and a literal death magnet on our tail. Oh, and we also have the economic fate of a couple thousand people in the balance. And yet you still expect to carry that burden yourself, even when there a thousand more willing to help. And your honestly too good and too smart for that, so when I try to distract you it isn't to pull you from the mission. But to show you why we do fight, to show you what happens after the mission. That what we're doing is working. They're a thousand other people with a thousand other ways to get out of this mess, if it isn't you then it will be someone else that helps us out. So loosen up, breathe in and do what you have always done, shoot straight," he said holding his hand out.
When I went through the unimaginable, when the world turned against me, I had no one to help me, shield me, or console me. In the time where I was the most empty, I had ever been, and even then, I was the only one that could build myself up again. Once my life in the Pantheon began, it was because I wanted to be the hero that I wished was there for me. And I think after nearly a year since that hard time, I finally found one. And as I took my friends to hand more clear, than I ever been all I could say was.
"Don't mention it, now what are we going to do about him."
Murphy had finally awakened from his slumber, and as soon as he tried to reassert his dominance, I took a seat near him and became honest.
"Look before you go into your spiel of threats and bargains. Let me tell you something that I haven't told anyone."
"Do I have a choice," he said in sarcasm.
"You got about as long as it takes for your connections to burst down the door and kill us. So I'll make it fast."
And just like that, I opened up about life long past. A couple of years back, I spent my entire life battling clinical depression. Almost every day, I would become this shell of myself, and when I started living on my own, it got a lot worse. I would get into parties so wild that I would wake up days later, not knowing what happened. Until one day out of the blue, I opened the door to reveal a single woman who I didn't even remember saying.
For most guys, it would have probably been the straw that broke the camel's back, but it was the thing that I had so desperately needed. Jason was the grounding rod I needed to live my life truly. My depression was a more minor nuisance than a mounting problem, I got a job, and while we didn't start the greatest, Nancy and I were making it work. And one day, while I was getting takeout for everyone, my gut felt a sudden chill. And just like that, my family was gone, by some random drunk driver. I tried fighting with everything I had in court but apparently he was some third cousin to the judge. With good behavior he only got 8 months, a sentence that was divided 12 fold. And as I laid their living in agony, holding out for a hero, I was somehow given the chance of a lifetime.
"Murphy, I know what its like to be a victim of a world that is against you, and my gut tells me that you and I are similar in that regard. But that's the thing about blackmail; it is never one and done, and if you lie down and take it, that monster is going to take everything, your soul, your achievements, and your daughter. Be smart, don't be like me, help us and we will use everything in our arsenal, use every source, and cross any line to make sure that bitch pays for all of the people like you and me she hurt."
Too bad, his possible answer was interrupted as Basil called me to the knocking door with any set of any weapon he could get his hands on. Realizing that this fight could be our last, I picked up my spatula and plate with honor as we faced our possible deaths. And as the door burst open, my incomprehensible fear turns into a blind hope as Hermes and a set of Pantheon agents looked at us. Without a hint of surprise, he stated.
"Apologies for the drama, we got your call but were held up by some gang members and had to scramble for a possible counter-strike, all we need is your informant. Will he give us the information?"
I turned to him, and after a slight nod, he agreed.
"Yes, he will."
"Excellent," Hermes said, assessing the situation, "Good work to the both of you, we wouldn't have done this without you, we'll take it from here, and by this morning it will all be over," he says solemnly.
And with such a promise hanging in the air Hermes turned his attention to his men, and as he kept barking order after order, I decided to follow a friend's advice.
"So, do you want to try out that special sauce you kept yapping about?"
"Omg, yes, I am so hungry! I think I saw it in the back."
With our mission done and our small part complete, and our victory assured, I decided to, even for a little bit, look at what we were fighting for and think both the life I once had. And the life I'm now willing to live.