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The Insurgency: S3 #26 The Man in the Photograph (RU)
Part 26 in Season 3 of my Insurgency series! A bit shorter than more recent episode, but a very important one! Also a Rank-up entry for the Marauders. Please comment, rate and enjoy!
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20th June 2094


The 'night' air was quiet. Outside, all was still and in our dark cave, Jarred and I slept peacefully.


And then something woke me with a start. I was prepared to cry out but I felt a mechanical finger press surprisingly gently to my lips.



Tracks: "Someone is coming." He alerted me and I immediately swung out of bed. I woke Jarred and passed on what my droid had said.
Jarred: "He's malfunctioning." He grumbled and turned over in bed.
I was about to argue, when the door violently swung open and blinded us.


There was shouting and when I could see again, I found five men pouring into the cave and at their head, was Ghartic.


Jarred: "You son of a bitch!" He snarled, leaping out of bed.
Gharic: "I said you'd regret crossing me. Remy Ac'ross sends his regards." He smirked sinisterly and shot Jarred.



My pal cried out as the bullet sent him crashing back into bed.
Tank: "No!" I grabbed whatever was nearer to me - a pan, and threw it hard at one of the men, giving me enough time to grab a shovel from the corner of the room.


Ghartic jumped onto the bed and began wrestling with Jarred whilst two men watched and three more headed my way.


I backed up slightly and then as one man charged, swung my shovel at his legs. I knocked his to the ground then kicked him hard in the face.



But in doing so, I'd left myself open to the other two intruders. My heart leapt as they approached, but what they hadn't noticed was Tracks, hiding in the darkness. Unseen, he sprung out, grabbing hold of one man and hoisting him into the air. The man cried out as Tracks slammed him into the spiky cave roof.
Tracks: "Mind your head!" He instructed sarcastically as he tossed the unconscious man into his companion and sent them both sprawling.


At the other side of the cave, I saw Ghartic go flying, Jarred having tossed him across the room. He crashed into one of the wooden stools and lay groaning on the floor as his two buddies prepared to fight Jarred, who had now stood up again.



With a roar he grabbed one and pummelled him repeatedly, before slamming the man's head down into his knee, smashing his face in and letting the corpse slump aside.
The last man jumped on Jarred's back, knife in hand and stabbed him repeatedly.
Tank: "Jarred!" I cried out as he screamed in both rage and pain.
Moments later, a shot rang out and the thug dropped dead to the floor.


Jarred and I turned to find Tracks, Ghartic's smoking gun in hand.
Tracks: "Now who's malfunctioning?" He remarked, tossing the pistol aside.



A clattering from the other side of the cave alerted us to movement and we all looked over just in time to see Ghartic scrabbling out of the door and back in the sand.
Tracks made to pursue him, but Jarred put out his arm.
Jarred: "Let him go."



21st May 2097: Present Day



With a yawn and a stretch, I shook off some of my morning tiredness as I wandered from my bedroom to the living room of my apartment.


I headed towards the sofa as I always did, ready to flop down and watch the news for a bit.



But nearly had a heart attack when I found Mr. Grey sat, casually reading a newspaper on my couch! He looked up as I froze across the room.


Mr. Grey: "Good morning Chain." He greeted, actually smiling. "I trust you slept well?"


Tank: "Um, yeah. Fine thanks." I responded after a moment, getting over my initial shock and wandering over. I plonked myself down in the armchair.
Mr. Grey: "Good." He replied, carefully folding his paper and placing it beside him.
Tank: "Um, might I ask why you're here?" I asked, still baffled as to his unexpected appearance.
Mr. Grey: "We've not spoken face to face for some time now. I thought it high time for me to drop by and see how you are getting on. You've not been in touch for a while."



Tank: "I've been busy." I replied, not elaborating any further. I'd been through a lot recently. I'd lost Tracks, been beaten and had had my leg broken by 'Darkblade', had broken into The Boss's house and had been looking into the people in my parent's photograph - so yeah, speaking to Mr. Grey had not been at the top of my list! In fact, he still knew nothing about my parent's photo. I'd done it by myself so far and I was determined that it would stay that way. In fact, I only had Rosmarie Addison left to visit and I had already found her address. It was just a case of finding the time to go and visit her.


On top of that, I’d been looking at my old datapad, which Cat had retrieved for me from her father’s office. I’d filled it with all the information that I’d known about my parent’s deaths back when I was on Iapra and I’d thought it to be incredibly important. But having looked back at it now, it was all useless. There was nothing on there that I didn’t already know or hadn’t already remembered, which was a shame.


Mr. Grey was silent, clearly expecting a more detailed answer, but when I failed to give one, he continued.



Mr. Grey: "You may be interested to hear that The Boss has vanished. He went dark recently, but the security footage from his house made for particularly interesting viewing." He commented dryly.
Tank: "Um... okay." I responded, nodding non-committedly.
Mr. Grey: "The Brain was most pleased. You should have informed me, Tank, we could have provided you with extra resources."
Tank: "I didn't do it for The Brain." I replied. "I did it for Cat."


Mr. Grey frowned but nodded.
Mr. Grey: "I see. Well, then on to the present. The Brain has a task for you."


I knew this wasn't a social call.



Mr. Grey: "I'm sure by now you'll have heard all about the current issue with inflation. Well, The Brain suspects that there may have recently been a break in at the Galactic Imperium Monetary Management Facility in Pinerlai. He would like you to go and investigate. Nothing too difficult. A simple investigative mission."
I nodded with pursed lips, slightly annoyed, but as I did, I realised that Rosmarie Addison's address was in Pinerlai. Maybe I could combine the two trips into one!
Tank: "Okay. I'll see what I can find." I replied.



Elsewhere…


Superior #1: "... and as such, henceforth, the supposed 'task force' known as 'Beta Squad' is disbanded."
Col. Ramson: "No..."



Superior #1: "Beta Squad was ineffective. Succeeding in recapturing only a small number of the original prison escapees that it was tasked with tracking down."
Col. Ramson: "Sir, if I might..."


Superior #2: "Silence!"


The paralysed Colonel fell silent as his superior officers dealt their vocal death blows.


Superior #1: "The loss of Codename: Darkblade early into the experiment proved more costly in the long run than originally anticipated. Beta Squad have fallen apart. Arguing, disobeying orders and failing to recapture a great number of escapees, they have not served their purpose and as such, are hereby disbanded."



Superior #3: "And as for you, Colonel. As you are well aware, Beta Squad was your last chance. Your last chance to redeem yourself. Beta Squad failed miserably and your paralysis, through no fault of your own, has left you unfit to lead..."
Col. Ramson: "No!"


Superior #1: And on top of that, we recently learned that in October you hacked into the communications signal for the Governor of Qoter, UNORTHERISED."
Superior #2: "With regret, your faults add up to more than your achievements."
Superior #3: "Xavier Ramson; you are hereby dishonourably discharged from the service of the Galactic Imperium."
Ramson: "No!" He objected, slamming a fist into the arm rest of his hoverchair.



Superior #1: "Security; please escort Mr. Ramson from the premises and relieve him of his uniform, weapon and chair..."
Ramson: "No!" He screamed as his chair was remotely deactivated, leaving him stranded. "This is all Rockwell's fault! Blame him! It's his fault! I'll get him, I swear! Rockwell will pay! ..."



The Galactic Imperium Monetary Management Centre


I was just concluding my search of the GI's Monetary Management Centre. Dressed smartly, I had flashed a fake clearance pass at the security guards and had been granted full access!



However, after wandering around for a good couple of hours, I found nothing amiss, with the exception of an odd blank section in the security footage from back in April. I'd have to pass that on, but apart from that, I'd found nothing.


I walked into the main smelting chamber, where the various valuable metals were melted down in giant vats, ready to be poured into the moulds that would create the physical credits carried by the billions of inhabitants of this system.



Taking a good look around, I walked out onto a small viewing catwalk, stretched out over one of the vats. Looking down, I watched the liquid metal bubble in its insanely hot container. I could feel the heat from here! So much so that I could feel myself beginning to sweat. It wasn't pleasant.


And according to the reports, this was where a worker had tragically lost his life in April, when he somehow managed to fall into the huge vat below. The safety inspection team had checked the whole area over and found nothing of any concern, so I doubted that I would find anything. But never the less, I gave it a good looking over.


Sure enough, there was nothing to be found. The railings seemed in perfect shape and I couldn't see any damage to the flooring either.



With pursed lips, thinking about how unfortunate an accident it must have been, I turned and walked back off of the catwalk.


But as I did, I noticed something shiny on the floor. With a frown, I crouched down and examined the shiny patch that trailed off into a drain. It seemed to be some sort of metallic substance, but curiously, I couldn't tell what.


I'd have to tell Mr. Grey about that too. Maybe something had gone on here after all.



My search of the facility over, I went out to where the Viper waited on a landing pad. Time for part two of my journey.


The trip to Mrs. Addison's place didn't take long. When I arrived, I touched down on the roof landing pad and then headed down the stairwell into the building.



I made my way to the correct floor and then a few minutes later, found the right apartment number. I rang the bell and waited nervously for someone to answer. I didn't have to wait long - just a minute later, the door opened and Mrs. Addison herself stood before me. She looked much the same as she did in my parent's photograph, albeit a couple of decades older.
Rosmarie: "Can I help you sweety?" She asked upon seeing me. It wasn't harsh or condescending, it was a genuine question asked with a genuine smile.


Tank: "Hello, Mrs. Addison?"
Rosmarie: "Yes?"
Tank: "Hello, my name is Chain. I'm a reporter for the Regentis News Network." I lied, using the same fake back story I'd told the red of my parent's old friends. "I understand that you knew the Foster family, back while Lana and Jeremy were alive?"
Rosmarie: "Yes..." She replied warily.
Tank: "Some new evidence has come to light and I'd like to come in and ask you a few questions if that's alright?"
Rosmarie: "Oh, I see! Yes, of course, come on in!" She smiled warmly and stepped aside, welcoming me into her home.



The interior of her apartment was luxuriously decorated. It was clear that no expense was ever spared around here!


I was guided through into a spacious living room and then took a seat on one end of a brown leather couch.
Rosmarie: "Now, what can I help you with?" She inquired, as she poured herself a glass of something alcoholic - not offering me anything though. That said something about the woman.


Tank: "As I mentioned, some new evidence in the case of the murders of Lana and Jeremy Foster has come to light."
Rosmarie: "Okay." She prompted, seating herself at the other end of the couch.
Tank: "You knew them, didn't you?"
Rosmarie: "I did." She confirmed, taking a swig from her drink.
Tank: "Can you think of anybody who may have seen them as enemies? Anybody who disliked them enough to have them killed?"



Rosmarie: "Well, it was their son, wasn't it?"
Tank: "The recent evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Frank Foster was framed." I explained and Mrs. Addison raised her eyebrows in surprise. "The real killer has possibly been identified. We're now trying to establish who hired them. Who it was that put them up to the job."
Rosmarie: "I see." She exclaimed. "Well, I mean, the Fosters had plenty of business rivals, but I wouldn't have thought any could be classed as 'enemies'. If anything, a lot of them were good friends!"


I nodded in understanding.
Tank: "Speaking of friends," I continued. "Do you remember anyone named Christian Walker?" I inquired.



I had completely forgotten about Walker, but after reviewing all my notes from my previous meetings with the people in the photo, I was reminded that Mr. Morales had mentioned that a guy named Christian Walker had been there when the image was taken and was likely in the missing section. He was the only remaining enigma in this puzzle and my only possible remaining lead.


I just hoped that Rosmarie remembered him and that Franklin Morales hadn't lied about him, like he had lied about so much else.


Rosmarie: "Christian? Of course!" She beamed, as if remembering good times passed. "Christian was Jeremy Foster's best friend! I think they had been friends since they were kids. He was best man at their wedding, too."



My spirits soared at confirmation of my mystery man's existence and also at the glimpse into my parent's lives, into the past. Now, more than ever, I wanted to find out more about this Christian.


Tank: "Really?" I exclaimed.
Rosmarie: "Oh yes! They were inseparable. Where one went, the other would surely follow. Jeremy was usually the leader - Christian just followed him around like a bad shadow!" She recalled with a smile and I nodded, absorbing the information and picturing everything described in my mind.


Rosmarie: "We always joked that they may as well have been a couple, that's the amount of time that they spent together! Christian was practically the third person in Jeremy and Lana's marriage!"
I laughed at the imagery and Rosmarie continued,
Rosmarie: "When Jeremy died, Christian became strangely withdrawn. Understandable considering his lifelong best friend had just been murdered, I suppose."


That I understood, Tracks' destruction still fresh in my mind. I'd only been with him for a few years, but in that time it had been as if we'd been together for my whole life. To have your best friend, the person you'd grown up with, stolen away from you in such a pointless and incomprehensible manner would be devastating.



Rosmarie: "We didn't see him again for ages, not until the funeral." She recalled. "And even then, he didn't speak to anybody. Such a shame. Bless him." She smiled sympathetically, gazing off into the middle distance.


Tank: "Do you still have any contact with him, at all?" I inquired, silently pleading for a positive answer. But to my sorrow, Mrs. Addison replied,
Rosmarie: "No, I'm afraid not. The funeral was the last time anybody saw him. People said he became a recluse following that."


It was a shame, but I should have expected an answer such as that. I nodded, thinking of what else I could ask about. The Enigma that was Christian seemed to have been solved leaving me with precisely zero leads to follow up on.



There was just one more thing that I could think of.


I reached into my inside jacket pocket and produced my parent's ripped photograph.
Tank: "Do you know if Christian was there on the day this photograph was taken?" I inquired, holding out the image.


Rosmarie reached over and took the photo from me and then, to my surprise, smiled.
Rosmarie: "Oh yes!"
Tank: "Really?" I checked, surprised but pleased that Franklin had actually been telling the truth for once!


Rosmarie: "Yes!" She reaffirmed. "This is one of my favourite images from back in the day!" She smiled. "Where did you get it?"
That surprised me as well!



Tank: "Wait, you've seen this picture before?"
Rosmarie: "Oh yes! I have a copy of it somewhere..." She replied as she stood and headed over to a bookcase at the other side of the room.


My jaw dropped. This was incredible! Better than I could have possibly wished for!
Rosmarie: "You didn't tell me where you got that from." She reminded. "And why is it ripped?" Rosmarie asked as she pulled out a tome and began flicking through the pages.
Tank: "It was found at the crime scene and is currently being treated as evidence." - Well, it wasn't a complete lie! "As for why it is ripped; that is one of the questions I would like to find an answer to."



Rosmarie nodded in understanding as she continued to search the pages of her book. After just a few moments more, she stopped and grinned.
Rosmarie: "A-ha! " She exclaimed and removed an image from what I now understood to be a photo album. She walked back over and handed me her copy of the picture.


I took it gingerly and with bated breath; excited, nervous, terrified, about what I might find.
Because this was it! The same photo I'd looked at almost every day since I found it on the floor of my family's old apartment. Except this one was whole. Intact. Undamaged. In pristine condition, with the entire group of friends smiling for the camera.



Finally, I'd have some answers!


After so long wondering who or what I may find in the missing segment, surprisingly, I couldn't bring myself to look, initially.


My eyes scanned every millimetre of the same side of the well-preserved image that I'd seen hundreds of times before, before I finally turned my gaze to the right-hand side, the side that my copy of the image had been missing.



Rosmarie: "There he is. That's Christian." She explained, pointing to a figure stood right at the forefront of the section of the photo I had never seen before.


And my heart leapt out of my chest. My mouth opened uncomprehendingly and I just stared in utter shock...



As Mr. Grey himself stood smiling up at me.





Elsewhere…


Across the planet, in his warehouse hideout, deep in the heart of Regentis' underbelly, Darkblade sat, helmetless, at his computer setup. Half hidden in darkness, lit only by his numerous computer monitors, the dark figure continued checking everything that he needed to.



Everything was complete. He'd done all he could. Now, it was very almost time for him to go after Tank himself.


Darkblade had succeeded in ruining the reputation of Tank's family. He hadn't managed to secure Tank's wealthy bank account, but that would only have been a bonus. He had turned one of his best friends, Governor Boan, against him and in a happy bit of timing, that bloody droid of his had been destroyed as well.


Darblade stood and walked over to his table, where piles of plans, photographs and hand-scribbled notes lay scattered.
Tank was losing ground fast. His heritage, his current situation, his stability and his friends; Darkblade was sweeping it all out from beneath his feet, just as he had planned.



Now, all Foster had left was his leather-clad girlfriend and his life.


And Darkblade's plan involved using one to take away the other - two birds with one stone.


He sighed, content with the knowledge that soon, Tank Rockwell would pay for what he had done. And about time.


Setting aside some candid photographs of locations Tank had visited recently, Darkblade thought back over recent events. From his encounter with Tank in the Police Precinct, to his newly-formed deal with Manerre Boan, the Governor's Aide.



It was a deal that suited Darkblade in every way. Manerre was offering him whatever he wanted. Money. Power. Gadgets. All of the above. Whatever he desired - and all for the price of killing Judas Boan, so that his brother could become Governor. Darkblade really couldn't care less who was in power, so it made no difference to him. If one was offering more than the other, then that's the side he would be on.


He had no qualms with killing to get what he wanted. The only reason he hadn't done it already was the reason that he had explained to the cripple - he needed Judas' resources.


For now. Once he had killed Tank, he would move on to kill Judas and get whatever reward Manerre was willing to offer.



Yes, things certainly were looking up, he reflected as he scooped up his helmet, placing it on his head and began to walk away. For now, he needed to rest, but soon, very soon, Tank would be dead and he would have access to whatever he desired - Everything he ever wanted.



Elsewhere, A Short Time Later…



Not all that far away, in a dingy suburb of Tarhaven, the night was playing out exactly the same as it did every other night. Darkness fell, house lights illuminated windows near and far, cars and shuttle craft became less frequent and in the distance, sirens wailed, signalling yet another tragedy.


There was nothing out of the ordinary occurring. And that is what made it so perfect for a spy.


Atop the flat roof of an apartment block, a figure, lying flat against the ground, had a pair of macronoculars raised to their eyes.



Across the street was another apartment block, this one slightly shorter, and it was here that the spy's vision was trained on one particular window. The spy had lain still for numerous hours now. Unmoving, their resolve and determination had finally paid off when approximately ten minutes ago, a light illuminated the window that they were watching.


Finally somebody was home.



For a few minutes, nobody appeared in view of the open curtains, but then a figure, a male, entered the room. He was well-built, somewhere beyond young but not yet middle aged and had strong facial features.


The man ran a hand through his long, ginger hair and clearly sighed. He appeared tired. Rubbing his face, he ambled out of view again and a few moments later, the light went out, eliminating the spy's chances of seeing more.


But it mattered not. The spy had everything they came for - simple confirmation that the man, their quarry, lived there.



Smiling, Aurora, daughter of the High Priestess of Fuyoria, lowered her macronoculars and crawled away from the building's edge, pulling down her hood and removing her mask. Finally. After months of tracking, they'd found him.



Standing, her two sisters, Meissa and Calaeno, and best friend, Talitha, approached from where they'd been gathered, patiently waiting, at the other side of the roof.
Talitha: "Well? Is he there?"
Aurora: "He's there." She confirmed. "We've finally located Zeth Stripe."





BONUS PICTURES



The replica set for the Monetary Management Centre, as originally made by Traykar the Swift.



The interior set for Rosmarie's apartment.



The little set for Zeth's apartment window.


Also, apologies for the few blurry photos in this episode. I'm not sure why my camera was having trouble focussing.



As my series is going to be jumping around though time, I will include a date on each episode and add it to the timeline at the end of each episode so that you can follow it.



TIMELINE





Comments

 I like it 
  May 15, 2017
Another awesome entry!
 I made it 
  May 14, 2017
Quoting Traykar the swift It said elsewhere and that's where stripe was. And stripe couldn't be in two places at once.
There was also a bit of a time jump. But everything will become clearer in the next episode anyway! --Blast--
 I made it 
  May 14, 2017
Quoting Werewolff . Another fine episode mate! All the scenes are awesome, as is the story, and that twist with Mr. Grey is something I never saw coming, (though you've raised even more questions in regards to the other pair in the photo). Once again, very nice work and I'm looking forward to the next instalment!
Thanks 'Wolff! Glad you enjoyed the Mr. Grey twist! --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 13, 2017
It said elsewhere and that's where stripe was. And stripe couldn't be in two places at once.
 I like it 
  May 13, 2017
Another fine episode mate! All the scenes are awesome, as is the story, and that twist with Mr. Grey is something I never saw coming, (though you've raised even more questions in regards to the other pair in the photo). Once again, very nice work and I'm looking forward to the next instalment!
 I made it 
  May 13, 2017
Quoting Jack Brickton Another fantastic episode Blast! And for some reason Tracks talking just seems so odd to me. (It's kinda like hearing R2-D2 or Chewbaca talk. It'd be interesting but it'd seem strange after getting used to their beeps and growls.) Anyway, it's great finally see the rest of the photo! And I was beginning to wonder what happened to Aurora so it's good to see her again! I can't wait to see where this goes!
I'm glad you enjoyed it! --Blast--
 I made it 
  May 13, 2017
Quoting Garrett W. Great episode!
Thanks Garrett! --Blast--
 I made it 
  May 13, 2017
Quoting Traykar the swift You did a spectacular job of recreating the Monetary Management Centre scene! Thank you so much! I suppose that this episode also means that Darkblade isn't Stripe.
Thanks! Glad you liked it! And what makes you say that about Darkblade? --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 13, 2017
Another fantastic episode Blast! And for some reason Tracks talking just seems so odd to me. (It's kinda like hearing R2-D2 or Chewbaca talk. It'd be interesting but it'd seem strange after getting used to their beeps and growls.) Anyway, it's great finally see the rest of the photo! And I was beginning to wonder what happened to Aurora so it's good to see her again! I can't wait to see where this goes!
 I like it 
  May 13, 2017
Great episode!
 I like it 
  May 13, 2017
You did a spectacular job of recreating the Monetary Management Centre scene! Thank you so much! I suppose that this episode also means that Darkblade isn't Stripe.
 
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