May 27, 2016

Worth Fighting For - Entry X: On the Run
Worth Fighting For
Entry X: On the Run
Location: Midtown Manhattan
Date: Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

I was briskly walking down a bustling city street as snow descended on myself and the other passersby. Every window was illuminated with shimmering green and red lights; and I could hear carols playing faintly in the distance. I was in a hurry, not due to the nippy air, but because I had a destination to reach. There was a little jewelry shop just down the street and I had to make a stop there before I carried on to my dinner appointment. A bell chimed as I opened the door and a blast of warm air rushed past me. I winced at the sensation of warmth swirling around my frozen face. The jeweler gave me season’s greetings and inquired to what I was looking for. I replied that I was looking for a ring, an engagement ring.

The jeweler clapped his hands in excitement and congratulated me. He pulled out a tray of stunning rings from the glass cabinet and set it on a table for me to examine. It wasn’t difficult to find the perfect ring, I knew which one would fit her personality the instant I saw it. As the jeweler wrapped up my purchase, he asked when I was going to propose. I told him I would do it tonight at dinner and that I had been thinking about proposing for some time now. I finally felt like this was the right time and I had made my decision to do it earlier at work. The jeweler asked me what my soon-to-be fiancĂ©’s name was and I hesitated, unsure of the answer. I car honked its horn outside which startled me. I told the jeweler that if I didn’t hurry, I would be late. He gave me a small paper bag, wished me good luck, and I thanked him for the help.

As I stepped outside to brave the cold once more, I couldn’t help but feel an ominous premonition rise inside of me. I raised my hand to hail an approaching taxi and shook my head as if I was shaking the uneasiness from my body. As the taxi pulled near me it began to accelerate rather than slow down. I put up my hand to will the taxi to stop but it only barreled down on me. I could see the driver now, he was a large man dressed in a military uniform but not one from this country. He wore an officer’s hat with a blazoned red star on it. The taxi swerved towards me and onto the sidewalk. I tried to jump out of the way but my feet were frozen to the ground. As the headlights blinded my sight, I could only brace myself for the impending impact. I could hear the roar of the engine and then the piercing clash of metal.

I bolted upright, dazed and uncertain of where I was. Steven gave me an apologetic smile as he picked up the coffee pot he had just knocked over. Daniil was sitting across from me, slouched against the concrete wall, his sleep undisturbed by the fallen coffee pot. Memories of past events flooded back to me, drug along by a skull splitting headache. We had been betrayed by the man we thought was Mr. Jones but who we found out was really Colonel Bulba, leader of the KGB. He had duped us all and manipulated Chris into assassinating his rival, General Tatarin. Now Bulba was in complete control of the SAF and had ordered an attack on our Manhattan Rebel Base. We had already lost Brooklyn and Chris’ brother in that attack, and now we found ourselves on the run with no sanctuary.

I gazed at my surroundings as I tried to quell the headache that threatened to take me back into the darkness. We were hiding out in one of the many abandoned office buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Maybe it was my return here that triggered the strange dream I had, or was it a dream at all? I wasn’t sure if it was a long forgotten memory of my past life or a moving picture my fragile mind conjured up. It did not matter, either way it was an image of a life that no longer existed. My mind wandered back to the attack on the base. I saw Chelly, Ryo, and Logan escape, or at least escape the initial attack. Reds had pursued them down the tunnels and I was unaware if they had survived or not. I never saw Charlie or Manny after I had spoken to them earlier that day. I hadn’t seen Phil or Isabella either, so there was no telling what happened to them.

I worried about Chris too, he had no idea that the base was now under the Reds’ control. I hoped that when he returned, he wasn’t captured or worse, killed. I knew we lost a lot of Resistance members during the attack as well. Nikolay had sacrificed himself so that we could make it out alive. The blast from all the grenades going off had knocked me off my feet and sent my head reeling. Kat had to almost carry me for us to escape. Kat! I struggled to get up to my feet, I hadn’t seen Kat when I woke up and I had to find her, but the pain in my head just made me pitch forward onto my side. Two pairs of arms reached in and hoisted me up to a sitting position, then leaned me against the wall again.

Steven gave me a concerned look but Kat’s face was streaked with anger. She scolded me, practically yelling at me, for being so stupid. She told me I had probably sustained another concussion from the impact my head took when we were fleeing the base. I hadn’t fully recovered from the first one I received courtesy of a Russian tank at the power plant. And to top it all off, my gunshot wounds from the warehouse district hadn’t fully healed either. I apologized for my foolishness but told her in my defense that I was just getting up to look for her. The last thing I remember was her trying to drag me out of the base and then nothing. I was concerned that she was either left behind, or worse, met the same fate as Nikolay and the others.

Kat’s face softened when she heard this but I could tell she was still irritated with me. And then her voice took a serious turn, she informed me that the second concussion I suffered probably caused significant damage. She was unsure if the headaches would ever go away. Then there was the sensitivity to sound and light, which had already had a significant impact on me. The proof was there with our last mission, twice I had succumbed to it. I knew Kat was concerned for my safety but I couldn’t help thinking there was an ulterior statement in her message to me. I was now a liability to our straggly squad. A light shining in my face or a grenade exploding near me could trigger an agonizing headache that would leave me crippled. I knew the others wouldn’t leave me to die and that was the issue, they would sacrifice themselves to try and save me. I couldn’t let that happen so when Kat told me to rest, I promised that I would, but in the back of my mind I began to formulate a plan.

Location: Midtown Manhattan
Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

The sun wasn’t even up yet when Kat gently shook me awake. Reds were crawling all over Midtown in search of any remaining Freedom Fighters and we had to keep moving if we wanted to stay free. Daniil held my arm as I willed my unsteady legs to carry me. There was only numbness in my head and body and a thick fog seemed to cloud my thoughts. It was hard to collect myself so I just repeated my plan over and over again in my head. It took a few minutes but I was able to regain enough sense of equilibrium that I could stand on my own. Steven and Kat were collecting what few belongings we had. We had rifles for all of us, a few ammo clips but not enough for everyone, and a couple of radios. Everything else we used was hoarded from the empty offices. Steven took a few extra moments to hide our presence and then we left towards an unknown destination.

We weaved our way through alleyways and side streets, trying as best we could to not make any noise. It had snowed the night before and the sound of crunching snow beneath our boots echoed through the empty streets. Our progress was slow going, partly because of the snow but mostly because of me. Unexpectedly, we saw beams of light moving ahead of us. It was a Russian patrol, not more than five or six soldiers, but enough that we could not take them head on. We ducked into another alleyway as we tried to maneuver away from the Reds only to find ourselves facing another patrol.

We had two options, flee left or run right. Our group started to sprint down the left alleyway and I began to follow only to stop dead in my tracks. My squadmates realized I wasn’t with them and turned to look at me. I gave a short salute and then ran back in the other direction. It was too late for them to try and follow me; they had to flee without me. My plan had worked and the distraction I caused diverted the Red patrol towards me and away from my friends. I had vowed that I would not let them die because of me and instead I would sacrifice myself for their safety.

I was starting to run out of side streets and had to scurry around alleyways I had already been down previously. I was slightly impressed with myself that I could keep up this physical exertion for so long in my condition but I knew it wouldn’t last. And it didn’t as I quickly found myself on a dead end side street. I fired four rounds before I heard the click of the gun that indicated I had run out of bullets. The extra clips were carried by Kat and Steven so I had no other options. I raised my gun over my head and prepared to charge at my enemies when I heard the sound of gunfire and saw them drop dead in front of me. A masked and hooded figure appeared from behind the dead Reds, a rifle slung over the shoulders. The figure let out a laugh that echoed throughout the alleyway, it sounded strangely familiar. Then the hood was pulled back and the mask was removed revealing the face of a dear friend, Chris Stone had saved me.
Location: Midtown Manhattan Rebel Base
Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

He led me into the sewers and to an abandoned maintenance room. There, a makeshift base had been set up with beds, supplies, and even a small table with a map of Governor’s Island on it. I couldn’t help but stare at the face of my friend. He had changed so much in the little time we had been apart. His hair was longer and stubble had grown on his face. His eyes had a sort of hollowness to them. He truly looked like a phantom now. He had always been a man on a mission ever since I had known him but now; it felt like his mission was more about revenge than about gaining freedom.

Then I saw the welcomed sight of a scruffy looking Phil Bagzton. He was standing next to a computer and its user, The Kid! I shouted his name when I saw the teen who had helped Chris and I on our very first mission. He gave us a big toothy grin and Phil tipped his hat as we approached. Then I heard someone call out my name and saw Kat, Steven, and Daniil sprinting towards us. Kat threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug before pulling away and punching me in the arm. I winced and let out a muffled wheeze; she had hit me hard and on my wounded side. Kat gasped and quickly apologized but the others just laughed. Daniil proclaimed that an entire Red army couldn’t kill the crazy writer. I had to correct him and told them all the story of how Chris rescued me.

Our happy reunion was short lived for we were all curious about what happened to Chris after Governor’s Island and the assassination of General Tatarin. He told us that he had returned to the Manhattan Rebel Base to find it overrun with SAF soldiers. Coronel Bulba was also there and was goading Chris into trying to kill him. Chris fought through dozens of Reds, chasing after Bulba, but the traitor escaped before he could catch him. From there, he had found the Kid, Phil, and a few other freedom fighters around Midtown Manhattan. The Kid knew about this abandoned maintenance room that wasn’t connected to the main sewer system so they had set up a temporary base to organize what was left of the Resistance. We also learned from Phil that Isabella had been captured again. This time, Bulba was planning on using her as bait to lure Chris out of hiding. We all knew something must be done but the Manhattan Resistance was a battered and broken shell of what it used to be. Luckily, the Kid had a plan.