Claire rushed into Arthur's office clutching a data pad and wearing a very worried look on her face.
Claire: "SIGINT picked up some radio chatter. Aurelians just caught three Imperium agents on Zarus."
Arthur: "Have they? Good."
Claire: "I'm sorry did you just say good?" she asked puzzled.
Arthur: "They've just captured agents Nantucket, Modena, and Vardos. All part of the plan."
Claire: "What plan? What is going on?"
Arthur: "Well I suppose it's better if you know. Do you remember the transport that crashed in California several months ago? It was carrying a bio-weapon. A sample of experimental X-12 nerve gas created by a rogue scientist. Dane Duscott stole the case that contained it along with its formula but he seemed to have hidden it somewhere. We couldn't get any information out of Duscott so we sent an agent to look for it. Our very own, Jack Bard. But Aurelians captured him along the way."
Arthur turned toward the screen on the wall. He pressed a button on his desk to activate it.
Arthur: "He managed to send us this message," Arthur said playing the message from agent Bard.
Jack: "This is Age... Aurelians... Captured... Held in Dark Gate... Information on... X-12... Please... Extraction..." the message ended. It was staticky and in poor quality but the situation was clear.
Arthur: "Whichever side gets the X-12 first will have a serious advantage in the war. If Bard has a lead on its whereabouts, it is important we get him out of there as quickly as possible."
Claire: "Why didn't you send me with them? They're part of my squad, I could've helped."
Arthur: "William insisted just the three of them could handle it. More people would create greater risks in the operation."
Claire: "They're going to Dark Gate? Aurelia's super prison on Zarus? No one gets out of there alive..."
Arthur: "Then our friends will just have to be the first ones to do so."
On Zarus, the three agents had successfully gotten captured. Aurelian guards were now escorting them inside Dark Gate.
Will: "And exactly who is this Jack Bard? Everyone seems to speak very highly of him."
Dino: "Jack is probably the best spy in the Imperium."
Will: "And yet he got himself captured..."
Prison guard 1: "Quiet!" he yelled.
The group stopped talking for a little while but then went back to it.
Dino: "Jack's a good guy. He's gotten me out of many tough spots. It's time I return the favor."
Victor: "Hey guys, for the record, I have a really bad feeling about this."
Will: "Relax. Our man on the inside will help. Although... Do either of you know who he is?"
Dino: "Arthur wouldn't tell us to avoid the chance of him getting compromised."
Guard 1: "I said shut it!"
Will: "What a jerk," he muttered.
Guard 1: "Alright, stop here," he commanded in his gruff voice.
They had reached an empty room in the prison. The agents looked around. Why had they stopped? Then they noticed two more armed guards approaching them. Something wasn't right.
Will: "Hey what's going on?"
Guard 2: "Execution time, boys."
Dino: "No, no, no, no, no, we're prisoners. You can't execute us."
Victor: "Well this is getting better and better..."
Guard 1: "Dark Gate's getting full. We can't keep taking prisoners. Gotta get rid of some of you scum."
Dino: "You can't do that!”
The guards raised their weapons and watched the fearful agents begging them to stop.
Will: "Hey! Stop, this isn't right!" This wasn't part of the plan.
Guard 2: "Ready... Aim..."
Guard 2: "FIRE!"
The guards took their shots.
Or rather one of them did. The third guard had killed the other two and was now walking towards the agents to free them from their restraints. Their faces were white as a sheet. They couldn't believe they were still alive.
List: "Oh man you should've seen the looks on your faces," said the guard as he unlocked everyone's cuffs.
Will: "What the he-"
List: "Agent List. I'm your inside man."
Victor: "What were you waiting for?"
List: "Like I said, you should've seen the looks on your faces," he said chuckling. "But anyway, I've been briefed on everything and I know you're here for Bard. I can take you to him. Follow me."
List led them to a small grate in a wall in the corner of the room.
List: "Ventilation ducts. We can use these to get to his cell."
As Will, Dino, and Victor began to crawl inside, there was suddenly a loud banging on the main door.
Prison guard: "What's going on in there? Hey, open up!”
List: "That can't be good... You guys go on, I'll take care of this." Just as Will was in the vents, List closed the grate and went to deal with the other guards.
Through the slits of the grate, the agents could hear the conversation.
Prison guard: "Where did they go?" asked the guard coming into the room. The first thing he noticed was the two dead bodies on the floor and the lack of prisoners.
List: "Listen, they-"
Prison guard: "You're coming with me!"
Dino: "We have to help him."
Will: "We can't. The whole prison is about to go on alert so we have to get to Bard fast."
Victor: "List knew the layout. He was the one that was supposed to take us to him."
Will: "Well we're just gonna have to figure it out ourselves."
They began crawling through the ventilation shafts to find and rescue their fellow agent.
Victor: "Vents. Always in the vents..."
Dino: "Quit complaining."
Victor: "Do you even know where you're going?” Victor whispered to Will.
Will: "No, Victor, I don't but we can either sit and think about it forever or try something. There's another grate up ahead. I say we come out there."
Dino: "You think it's safe?"
Will: "I can't hear anything coming from there, it's probably just an empty room."
After a while of crawling Will thought he had found a suitable place to exit the air ducts. He was wrong. As he dropped down into the room below, he was met with a squad of prison guards who were probably more surprised to see him than he was to see them.
Will: "Heeyyy... Guys."
Guard: "Its the escapees!" yelled the guard as Dino and Victor dropped down behind Will.
Dino: "This is your 'empty room'?"
Will: "Shut up."
The guards didn't put up much of a fight before the IIA agents quickly incapacitated them. They were not very skilled in combat.
Will: "Take their guns."
Losing Agent List and the prison going on alert was not part of the plan. The agents would have to quickly adapt to the situation if they were to complete their objective and survive.
Will led the other two down the corridor. He peered out of the doorway as Dino and Victor crouched down next to him. That part of the prison was swarming with guards. But there was no way to go back. This was their only path.
Victor: "What do you see?"
Will: "About ten guards between here and the next corridor. No way we can sneak past them."
Dino: "We can take 'em."
Will: "I hope so... Let's go!"
They charged into the next room firing at the surprised guards. Soon they were all down as well and the agents had reached the next door.
Will: "Okay, luckily this way's clear."
Victor: "We can't just wander around here the whole time and hope we find Bard. There has to be a map or something."
Dino: "I see an access panel up ahead. I might be able to hack into it and find the layout."
Dino made his way to the panel with Will and Victor right behind him. He kneeled down in front of it and got to work.
Will: "Is it working?"
Dino: "Hang on."
Elsewhere in the prison, a Chetinuek sat in front of several monitors. He stroked his chin as he stared intently at all the screens. This was the warden.
One of the others in his command center hurriedly walked towards him.
Staff: "Sir, there has been a breach in the mainframe."
Warden: "Source?" he said in a serious and gruff voice.
Staff: "Level 144, sir."
Warden: "They're lost. I'll handle this myself," said the warden getting up and walking to the exit.
Meanwhile Will, Dino, and Victor jogged through another corridor of the prison, blasting any Aurelian's in their way.
Will: "Out of ammo."
Dino: "Me too."
Victor: "And me..."
Will: "Seriously? We'll have to find some more weapons somewhere," he said as they tossed their guns on the ground.
Will: "You sure this is the way?" Will asked as they kept running.
Will was not sure what would happen. He had no idea if they would succeed in rescuing Bard and even if they did, would they be able to get out? But he couldn't worry about all that right now.
Just as the agents were reaching the doors at the end of the corridor, they unexpectedly began to open. As the plated shields began to slide apart, the prison warden was revealed standing behind them, along with a squad of guards.
Will and the other two came to a stop and looked at the warden with panic.
The warden confidently strode towards them, his hands behind his back.
Warden: "Gentlemen. You're quite bold."
The agents exchanged worried glances with each other.
Karso: "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Rottif Karso. I would like to welcome you to Dark Gate. Seeing as your little rescue has failed, the three of you will get to spend quite some time behind these walls."
Will: "You don't know who you're dealing with here."
Karso slightly squinted his eyes and took a better look at Will.
Karso: "Oh. I did not realize I was in the presence of the great William Nantucket, hero of the Collective War. Perhaps you remember me from those days?"
Will: "You fought with us?"
Karso: "Well, I was an officer. I remember your squadron rescued me during an attack on my base. I might not be here were it not for your valiant efforts."
Will: "Then the way I see it, you owe me. Give us Jack Bard and we'll be on our way! We won't bother you here again."
Karso: "Oh I don't think I can do that. We know why the Imperium wants agent Bard back. Once we break him, Aurelia will have the X-12. Aurelia will have the advantage. So as for you three... Well how you say... Womp womp?"
The warden pressed a button on a small device on his wrist. It activated a hidden door under the agents' feet. They yelled as the door opened and they fell several feet below to another part of the prison.
They groaned as they hit the floor. Once they became oriented to their new surroundings, they looked around to find they were in a small room with no visible entryway other than the one they just fell from.
Will: "How did this happen, we're smarter than this."
Dino: "Apparently not. But man, how big is this place? I don't see how Aurelia could afford to build it. They shouldn't have that much money."
Victor: "Maybe someone else paid for it."
Will: "Like Le Banquier."
Will stood up and looked around while Victor and Dino remained on the floor.
Victor: "Looks like this is it. This is where we die," he said defeated. "I mean, you looked at the schematic, Dino. Didn't you see any trap doors?"
Dino: "I only took a quick look to see where Bard's cell was. You're not saying this is my fault?"
Victor: "Well it's not mine."
As Victor and Dino argued, Will walked around the room, pressing his hands on the walls.
Victor: "You ever think this whole thing was a trap?"
Dino: "A trap? How so?"
Victor: "We don't even know if Jack is still alive. Maybe they already killed him. Maybe he told them where the X-12 is. That Karso could just be using him as bait to lure Imperials to Dark Gate. I mean now we're stuck here, just like Jack. Arthur will probably send another squad to get us out and then they'll get caught too."
Dino: "You're talking nonsense."
Victor: "Well at least I'm not feeling up the wall over there... What the hell are you doing, Will?"
Will stopped and patted a particular spot on the wall.
Will: "Right here. Weak spot."
Dino: "How can you tell?"
Will: "The wall's thinner here. Really thin."
Victor: "What? You think you can just-"
But before Victor could finish, Will gave a powerful kick to the wall and it instantly broke apart.
Will stepped out first and the surprised Dino and Victor quickly followed him.
Victor: "No way did that just work."
Will: "Whoever paid for this place did not get their money's worth."
They then looked to their lefts to see cells full of captured Imperials.
Imperial 1: "Hey, it's Nantucket!"
Imperial 2: "Over here! Save us!"
Will: "We'll get you guys out. Don't worry!"
Imperial 3: "We trust you, sir!"
Will turned back towards Dino and Victor.
Will: "Come on, we must be close."
Dino: "If I remember correctly, the central control room is just a little further."
Victor: "Hey, look," he said pointing to a rack of rifles.
The three agents stormed the control room, shooting at everyone inside. Warden Karso was the only one remaining. He stood up, his eyes wide open in fear.
Karso: "You... How did you-"
Will: "We IIA agents are a little more resourceful then you think."
Karso: "You’re fools," he said as he smashed a button on his console. "Send security to the main control room!" he barked into a speaker.
Then he turned back to look at the agents.
Karso: "They'll be here any second now. You'll never leave here with your precious Agen-"
The Warden yelled as he was shot. Will and Dino looked over at Victor who had killed him.
Victor: "What?" he asked innocently.
Dino quickly moved to one of the consoles.
Dino: "From here we can open all the cells and release the prisoners."
Will: "Including Agent List?"
Victor: "But not Jack," he said looking at a different monitor. "According to this, he's being held in a maximum security bunker on a lower level."
Will: "With the guards busy dealing with all the prisoners, we can easily go down there."
Dino: "Just press these couple switches and everyone's free... Who wants to do the honors?"
Will: "It's all you, Dino."
Dino smiled as he worked on the console. When he finished the sequence he stepped back. The three waited in silence for a couple seconds until they started hearing cell doors opening and the intercom coming alive.
Aurelian: "All security report to Level C... Update: "All security report immediately to Levels E and F... Update: Dark Gate is now on triple red alert..."
Will: "Perfect," Will said grinning.
All the Imperials Aurelia had captured over the years were now free. This was a major win for the Galactic Imperium. Now if they found Agent Bard, it would be icing on the cake.
The three agents rushed through the chaos to a nearby turbo lift, trying not to get trampled by everyone else.
Inside Will pressed the switch to go to Bard's cell. After descending for a while, the lift came to a stop.
They stepped out but then stopped and turned around to look at the lift when they heard it groaning. The turbo lift suddenly began falling further below until eventually crashing.
Will: "That... Was close..."
They turned around and began walking towards Bard's cell, thinking how they could've been killed had they stayed on the lift for just seconds longer.
The chaos from above was not present on this level. Instead it was quiet, there were no guards either. Getting to Agent Bard would not be a problem.
Finally they came to his cell. Dino was able to gain access from the controls and the doors slid open.
As they walked inside, they could see a most debilitated Jack hanging by his arms from the cell wall. Victor shot his restraints and Will and Dino caught him before he could hit the ground.
Jack: "Dino..." he coughed weakly.
Dino: "It's alright, buddy. We're getting you out of here."
Jack: "No... Don't... Bother."
Dino: "What are you talking about?"
Will: "You've got the location of the X-12. We'll get you help back at HQ, then you can give your report."
Jack: "Never..." he coughed again. "I never found it. I just wanted to get out of Dark Gate. I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." he said with his last breath.
Dino: "Jack? Jack!" he yelled shaking his body slightly.
But he was dead. The injuries he had suffered at the hands of the Aurelians had been too much.
Will looked up at Dino, a worried look on his face. Suddenly they all turned around when they heard the cell doors close shut.
Standing in front of them was an Aurelian in juggernaut armor, similar to that of Imperials.
Will: "Juggernaut... Not good."
The hulking Aurelian, armed with a shield and some sort of club, let out an almost inhuman roar and charged at the agents.
They moved out of the way and began firing at him. However their bullets did very little, if any, damage.
Will: "Anyone got any ideas?!" he shouted at his teammates while dodging the juggernaut's swinging club.
Victor: "You're the agent in command!"
Will: "So I'm commanding you to come up with something!"
One of Will's bullets hit the juggernaut's back which created a few sparks. He immediately spun around and swung his shield at Will, making him fly across the room.
Dino: "You see that?" he asked Victor.
Victor: "Will, aim for his back! It seems to be a weak spot."
All three agents began to shoot at the weak point in the juggernaut armor. He flailed around trying to protect it but it was no use. Eventually something on his back exploded and he fell forward to the ground, unconscious or dead.
Will: "How'd that work?" Will asked when the fight was over.
Dino: "I think circuitry in his armor overloaded."
Victor: "So now what?"
Will looked at the body of the agent they had come to rescue.
Will: "Too bad we didn't get to him sooner."
Dino: "He deserved better. But at least we know Aurelia isn't any closer to finding the X-12."
Victor: "And they lost a ton of prisoners. Not a bad day in my book."
Dino: "Jack would've been glad."
Will: "Alright, guys. Time to get out of here."
Nicely done. I just finished reading through your whole story so far, and I gotta say that I'm pretty impressed. With all of it. The character is cool, the plot is interesting, and the builds are quite good as well. A very pure G.I. principles believer, is what I gathered on Mr. Nantucket. Looking forward to seeing everything else you have coming up!
Good episode! I loved the entire premise, however, the writing felt a little rushed. Dark Gate itself is a fantastic creation though and I'm sure will become heavily used in the future. Great stuff! 5 points.
Very nice! I liked the whole prison-break in vibe, and it's always good to have some more world-building! I'll definitely be referencing Dark gate in the future. However, I will say that the breakout from the trap felt a little Deus Ex Machina for me. Nevertheless, I eagerly await the finale!