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Virgil came back to consciousness on a groan and nearly blacked out again as pain enveloped his body. Biting back the bile that threatened to tear up his already tattered throat, he clenched his eyes shut. Turning his brow to the cool, damp floor he forced his lungs to work, the cold contact to his fevered skin causing a reactionary shiver.

Gasping in a breath, he coughed as fine dust caught in a too dry throat and he nearly lost what little still remained in his stomach. Forcing his body to still, minute micro seizures of muscle spasms told him that he was in serious trouble and he desperately clawed at the fog that blanketed his battered mind.

Today had gone from good to horribly bad in very short order.. Or was it yesterday? He’d lost all sense of time and the room he was currently confined to offered little help or point of reference.

Concrete surrounded him, dust mottled the air, dampness sunk into his bones and the silence was all pervasive.

Rolling, he hissed as the agony coursed through his shoulder and dark edges of unconsciousness threatened to take him once more. The pain was all encompassing and his breath caught on a rasped, guttural curse.

He was bound and chained, arms wrenched behind his back with strong rope bindings. Ankles shackled and chained to a loop of rebar protruding from the floor. Locked away who knows where and shivering in the cold, his uniform gone. Completely cut off and alone.

His skin scraped against the rough-hewn floor as he tried to curl into himself. Knees tucked up awkwardly to his chest in an attempt to conserve what little remained of his body heat. Muscles quacking as his life blood dripped out onto the dirty floor beneath him.

The details of the room swam about him as he tried to focus on details. Skittering away out of grasp the moment his eyes settle upon them. Nausea burning up his esophagus. Thick saliva pooling in his mouth.

Pure force of will pushed him to stay awake, to take inventory of himself. He pushed the blazing pain of his dislocated shoulder out of the way, that injury was obvious and its cause well and truly known. A sick mad man with a vendetta of epic proportions had wrenched the limb with a stomach-churning scrap of bones and twist of sinew from its socket. The nightmare of the abuse was not something he wanted or needed to dwell on except for the numbness in his left hand that gave him pause.

Furrowing his brows as he tried to feel out his body, he couldn’t tell if the lack of sensation in the affected limb was cause for concern or in part due to the unyielding double braided rope lashed without mercy around his wrists. The tight corded fibers cutting into the soft flesh and grinding his bones.

After the initial and sharply felt surge of pure torture he’d lost all sense of what had occurred. The phantom whisperings of a rancid breath over the shell of his ear only vaguely recalled through the haze of his misery. Words but a blur amongst a sea of sensation.

He swallowed as indistinct images played through mind and clenched his eyes tightly against the welling moisture. The aches in his body and ghostly echo of whatever had transpired afterwards nearly causing his undoing but he bit back on the compulsion.

His body bloodied and beaten but still his assailant had not succeeded in breaking him. Yelled and cursed at, whipped and punched, ground down and pushed to the edge of the abyss but still he held firm. He could not give or his family would fall. Under no condition would he let that happen. No torture, whether physically depraved or emotionally destroying would make him betray those that he held most dear.

The sound of a key turning in a rusted lock was like gunshots through the dank, deathly stillness. Muted light spilling into the gloom and over his pallid, bruised flesh caused his eyes to burn with its sudden intrusion. The naked bulb swinging from the water stained ceiling quickly cut off from view by the heavy form that crossed in front. Menace filling the doorway and Virgil whimpered as he curled in on himself.

His family would come for him, that he knew with certainty. He just had to endure a little longer.


Chapter Text

Kayo was - to be it lightly - irate in a scary calm, calculating and head for the hills kind of way. Later when all was said and done, she would look back on the numbness that had overtaken her and analyze it. Letting the doubt and fear along with it finally take root and she would allow herself a private moment, in a locked room to express what was pent up.

She had various bolt holes on the island that only Virgil was privy to and she would go to one and let the emotions past the deadly stillness she was projecting but for now, cool and controlled was the name of the game.

Setting down Shadow on the lea side of the mountain beside the silent, large green craft that so personified its pilot, she allowed herself a moment to breath. Clenching her fists as she noticed the shake in them that belayed the mask she had cemented into place. Her stress levels must be skyrocketing as the physiological effects of it were being broadcasted in her fine motor skills but the panic that she knew she should feel even behind her plastered on facade was curiously absent. Her brow cocked up at the odd blankness of other feelings for the only things coming through the still veil was the raging hellfire that was her anger.

Shaking her head away from the random torrent of her thoughts, she looked up at the blue expanse of the sky. The odd juxtaposition it presented considering their circumstanced irked her. It should be raining down acid not sunny and warm.

As Thunderbird One came into view over a large outcropping dusted with evergreens, Kay cracked the seal on Shadows canopy and jumped down. The dry tufts of grass, crunching beneath the soles of her boots and sending a small, fluffy tailed critter scurrying into the underbrush.

Shielding her eyes from the dust kicked up from One, she made her way across the rough, cut clearing and up the incline to where Two rested amongst the remains of an old miners camp. The rotten and lichen covered outbuildings creating an eerie back drop for the large transport.

As her eyes scanned over the decaying refuse of the condemned colliery, she absently admired the skill in which Virgil had situated the massive craft. In the confined space allocated to the abandoned plot of land, he’d set the craft down without disturbing any of the rusted out machinery or structures. He’d even managed to somehow avoid flattening what looked to be a picnic table that had seen better days. Its brick red paint cracked and flaking, leaving a puzzle like assortment of debris around it in a halo of disuse.

The man was a truly gifted pilot, there was no doubt about that. No one could maneuver the Herculean flying boat around like he could. Turning her face up towards the underside of the silent ‘bird, a hint of something flashed across her expression. The giant seemed lifeless without the skilled operator and it didn’t sit right with her. Like a soul had been snatched away and a carcass left behind, barren and wasting.

Pulling her mind back from her dark musings, she redirected herself back to the task at hand. Her shrewd eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the derelict site. Searching and cataloguing anything and everything that seemed out of place in the otherwise undisturbed landscape.

Virgil had been called out here to rescue a trapped hiker, a standard run for the well trained troop and nothing outside of their regular wheelhouse. It wasn’t the first time that they’d had to sweep in to pluck some backwoods walker from some precariousness or another and it surely wouldn’t be the last.

Virgil had been exceedingly chipper considering the early hour as he left the comms room for his chute that morning. He’d even paused long enough to drop a kiss on her forehead as he passed before disappearing down the long slide to the awaiting craft. It had been a rather quiet week for them, an oddity given that the world seems unable to resist getting into stupid and avoidable danger, and the dark haired man had been eager for some action.

Kayo kept replaying the scene over and over in her mind, but no matter how many times she revisited the call and the frightened voice that John had projected across the comms, she could detect no duplicity. There had been no prickle of caution that would cause her to halt her lover’s plan of action so she’d continued on with sipping at her coffee and tucking her legs up under her, getting comfortable.

In hindsight, she wished she’d paid more attention or perhaps even tagged along for the ride.

At the sound of hurried feet at her six, she held up a hand a non-verbal urging for Scott to cease his approach.

“Kayo?” Came his inquiry over the dedicated comms line. He was some fifty feet away to her left, having landed One down below on what remained of an old loggers road, luckily just wide enough for the lithe craft to make use of. “Did you find anything?”

Kayo backed out from under Two making sure to retrace her steps and took a circuitous route over to where the anxious commander stood, shoulders so tense for his brother that Kayo could make out the fine tremors racking through them as he tried to keep own distraught anger contained.

Drawing near she indicated over to the scene behind her, the humid air stirring and playing with the ends of her long ebony hair. The mugginess that was typical for the Canadian summer causing the ends to curl up and the loose wisps around her face to stick to her tawny skin. “Two’s on emergency lock down just like John said. I did a preliminary scan on approach to the DZ, there’s nothing.” Her report was direct and concise. Her blunt delivery a coping mechanism in itself.

Scott cursed harshly, hands clenched into tight fists at his side with frustration. After a moment; his own eyes sweeping over the area, he took a step towards Two. “Show me.” The order in his voice evident and proof that he’d only just managed to rein himself in.

Kayo took the lead and pointed to a few areas of disturbed ground in various spots up the rise. “Here and here.. There was a struggle.” Kneeling, she touched the rocky ground and brought her gloved hand up for a closer look. Her thumb sliding across the pads of her fingers as she inspected something. Her brows twitched as a brief glimmer of her upset peeking through her control but she quickly stowed it away.

“Blood. Someone went down hard.” The who wasn’t necessary, there was only one option. Scott squatted down on his haunches beside her, gravel crunching under his thick soles and reached out his own gloved fingers to inspected the tacky, dark substance.

“Couple hour tops, with this humidity” He commented, taking in the consistency of what was smeared across his fingers.

Kayo nodded her agreement at his assessment and straightened, eyes once more scanning about. “On foot they couldn’t have gone far, especial with 180lbs of dead weight…” She considered, glancing off towards the tree line some two hundred feet to the West, “ Must have had transport of some kind..”

“I’ll have John scan the area again maybe he can pick something up even with the iron deposits here playing havoc with our sensors..worth a shot though.“

“Anything is better than what we have..” Kayo said as she stepped past him. “I’m going to see if I can find any signs of a transport. If they had one maybe I can pick up a trail or get an idea of what direction they took.”

The urge to reassure Scott that they would find the missing pilot was an unnecessary platitude and a promise she was scared to admit that she wasn’t able to make. With little to no clues as to how, what or why anyone would have taken Virgil the real fear that they might not find him was a thought that right now she couldn’t bare to look at too hard.

The hand that caught her wrist as she slipped by caught her briefly by surprise, the hard blue eyes that was swimming with worry and a glimmer of fear that met her own had her looking away before her own inner doubts could take any further root.

Pulling free with a gentle tug, she refused to meet his gaze. There was no way she was going to allow herself to go down that rabbit hole and she shook her head. “It’s getting dark, I’ll contact the GDF to lock the area down while I check the perimeter.”

Scott returning nod was all the acknowledgement she needed. The worried sound of his voice following her as he reported through to 5 some 22 000 km away. His form becoming obscured in the waning shadow of Two as the distance between them grew with each step she took towards the treeline.

Chapter Text

Kayo approached the ramshackled grouping of buildings on silent feet. The red rust of the corrugated siding staining its rocky footing as if the dilapidated structure had met its end by exsanguination. Chunks of decaying metal sat like the curled husk of a dreadful creature across the marred vacant yard that was nestled between the forsaken mill and her bricked siblings. The bracket space between, a parody of some sick graveyard that lay ragged and open to the sky littered with the fossils of rotten wooden pallets and tipped over oil drums.

Pressing her back to an ash coloured brickwork of the stubbier of the two outbuildings, Kayo held her breath and listened. Her eyes ever moving over the landscape of disuse before her, scanning the skeletal remains for any sign of life. The gaping holes in the main structure absorbing the dying light of the summer sun and obscuring her gaze from seeing anything more than pitted cross beams and the ragged teeth the massive head rig.

Hearing nothing but the sound of wind through the four and a half story mill and the distant sound of the GDF patrol flyers that had been called in, Kayo allowed her lungs to once again expand. Alighting along the building’s perimeter she kept the scarred brickwork close to her back, her fingers dragging along its craggy surface as she continued her reconnaissance of the abandoned facility.

Coming to a wide opening, she halted her forward motion. Shuffling along to the very edge of it, she carefully peered around the broken framework of what was once a large, framed window. The mullions broken or missing in the absence of what would have been a rather hefty sheet of glass, the remains of which crunched under foot and glinted dully in the tapering light of day.

The dimly lit mottled interior was in utter ruin, particles of dust dancing about in the shafts of sunlight that filtered in from the ceiling, parts of which had caved in decades ago. Bits of old roofing tiles lay scattered across the moss covered floor along with support beams and metal fittings.

Across the large space of what she could only perceive was the main room, hung two heavy insulated doors. The once pristine polish of their surface now scuffed and tarnished. One sat open, its maw revealing nothing by darkness beyond. If she could guess this was a kiln house. A building that housed the large industrial ovens used to dry out and season newly milled wood.

Stepping out from behind the safety of her cover, Kayo gripped the edge of the decaying sill and made quick work hoisting herself in. The fact that the large machinery that made up the kiln hadn’t yet fallen through the floor, telling her that the structural integrity was most likely sound enough to support her weight.

Once within the confines of what was surprising a very large space, she tapped her comms twice, signalling to John that she was on site and triggered her camera. Recording everything she saw in case reference was needed later to correctly recall a poignant detail.

Stepping gingerly around the detritus of wood shavings, mouse escarpment and bird dropping Kayo began her search. The tracks she found at the further part of the mining camp some five clicks away had pointed her in this direction. They’d been hastily and haphazardly concealed and she’d picked up the trail easily after going another 30 feet or so into the underbrush. The snapped saplings and disturbed soil standing out is stark contrast to her well practiced eye.

After a quick call up to 5, John had provided her with an overview scan of the surrounding area and it hadn’t taken her long to stumble upon the old mill even though the likelihood of this actually leading anywhere was slim but she had to check. Only an idiot would use something so obvious as a…

A glint of something out of place brought Kayo up short and she stilled, eyes tracking back and forth along the floor boards. Something had caught the light as she’d been panning her vision around the space in her inspection.Tilting her head, she crouched as the change in angle caused something to catch the light again and her slender browns dipped downwards in concentration.

Four inches from the floor a fine, silver filament stretched across the expanse of a large archway at the head of a back hallway that appeared to run the length of the building. A tripwire. It was old tech but given the environment very practical and very skillfully applied.

Stretching her body out carefully alongside it, her eyes traced it length to it terminus, looking for any sort of trigger or devise hidden under the stacks of broken factory paraphernalia pushed off with little care at the base of the archways wooden support pillars.

Hidden just out of sight and strapped to what appeared to be a heavy old canister of some sort was a small, blinking red light. Definitely a trigger, though whether it was for a security system or an explosive she couldn’t tell and she couldn’t risk disturbing it to figure it out. Someone was definitely here if the trip was live..

Tapping her insignia, Kay opened an audio only channel to 5. As per protocol for Kayo, John would only be able to communicate with her verbally over the line, no visual holo-cast. He kept it short and professional, falling back on old CB radio codes on the small chance someone was piggy backing their secure line and eavesdropping. “10-2,” a short pause followed by “10-18?”

It was old school but it worked and kept chatter on the line to a minimal. With two short transmissions, John had verified that her channel was securely receiving her communication and had asked if she had anything to report. That last part she knew John would usually leave out as she wouldn’t have made contact otherwise so that meant that Scott was on the line too and chomping at the bit for anything he could get on his missing brother.

“Possible contact, have the GDF stand by”

“Message received. Alerting GDF to hold at perimeter.”

“10-4” Kayo heard a click over the comms as John change over to the GDF frequency but the quiet was short lived as he once again patched back over to her. Shaking her head as she lightly got back up to her feet and stepped over the tripwire, she should have known with the Defense Force so close they couldn’t sit still.

She had enough experience with Rigby to know there was good reason for the Colonel to call on her expertise for the more delicate operations. The man was good at his job in the guns blazing, hit them first sort of way that marked his and a lot of the other GDF personnel main character traits.

“GDF strongly advising use of backup before proceeding.”

“Negative.” Came her blunt, clipped reply. The GDF were not known for the ability to be stealthy and in this situation that was exactly what was needed. There was no telling what else she was going to find around here and the last thing she needed was their big boots stomping about the place tripping god knows what. Virgil’s life could very well be in the balance and that was a risk she just would not take.

The line went silent again after that and Kayo let out a breath. John would pass the information on and he wouldn’t bug her about it again. The GDF would be either mollified by that or not, she didn’t really care at the moment.

Scott on was another matter altogether though, she would prefer to handle this on her own but she knew that despite her hard no on the GDF joining that it wouldn’t forestall the commander of iR from racing over from where he was reconning. She just hoped she could clear the scene before he got there.

Pausing a moment to mark the hazard on the digital layout her wrist comm was compiling so Scott wouldn’t trip the thing when he inevitable got there, Kayo pulled a small pen light from her pocket and flashed it up the dark hallway. Light back here was poor with only a small 12 by 8 window every 10 feet or so making the long length a veritable minefield of hazards. A sprained ankle was the last thing she needed or worse if she happened to come across another surprise like the one she’d just found.

Picking her way cautiously down the hall, eyes alert and ears straining for any sound out of the ordinary she continued on.

Coming to a blind corner, Kayo glanced back up the hallway and assessed what she’d already seen and heard. With the skill needed to trick John with a false call, getting the upper hand on Virgil, left barely a trace and the set up with the trip wire, she knew that whoever was responsible was skilled, very skilled. She suspicions made her think that whoever it behind it was a pro

Hearing the tell tale sound of a jet pack, Kayo did her best to keep her internal mental tirade of courses just where they were and double tapped her comm.

“Sorry Kayo, Scott is en route.”

No shit, she thought to herself. “Be advised, area is not secure. Hold position until further notice.” If she could have, she would have added I will beat Scott’s ass if he doesn’t listen but she left it unvoiced. She hoped that her tone would be sufficient enough to pass that little ditty along.

“Understood, message has been relayed.” Guess it had.

Grumbling at the delay, she carried on until she came to a section of wall that looked like it had been removed with a sledge hammer, the jagged edges of which appeared fairly new and revealed a wooden stairway that descended into the earth.

Hugging the wall, Kayo took them with care, mindful to place her foot as close to the stringer as possible. Settling her feet on the first tread she gave a sigh of relief when the stairs didn’t just outright collapse under her weight. They looked study enough but looks could be deceiving.

Shifting back and forth she tested the next one down and so on and so forth until she reached the landing and the stairs made a 90 degree turn. Taking it as a sign when there was no creaking of loose boards or anything else that might result in her broken bones she alighted down the final flight with a bit more haste.

The tunnel that she found at the bottom was not what she expected. It was roughly constructed and lined with concrete, the ceiling being held in place by rough cut wood beams intersected by a newer spattering of electrical cords that ran off and disappeared behind a sealed door at the far end Pocked marked between the beams was an errant placement of naked light fixtures, the bulbs of which flickered and swayed.

It was damp and water had accumulated in several spots along the uneven rocky flooring. The dampness not only felt with a chill up her spine but smelt. It was earthy and metallic and clung to the inside of her sinuses.

Listening, she could hear the muted pitch of a motor. The faint scent of fuel and exhaust carried along with the wet soil that permeated the air had her picturing a generator, something easy to procure and set up. Her suspicions peaked again that this was anything but a random attack on her family. They were too well prepared for this to have been a spur of the moment, which meant organized and more proof that the perpetrator was not just some run of the mill kidnapper.

The click of her comm activating, had her cursing under her breath. Now was not the time. She quickly shut it off again. Scott could damn well stay upstairs and wait where she knew he would be safe. She couldn’t worry about him on top of all this.

Ducking into a shadowed alcove, Kayo parked behind a large crate, ears keenly tuned to pick up on any sounds that indicated her infiltration was a bust Back pressed to the tunnel wall she could just make out the first door. It was unlatched and moving slightly, caught up in a mild breeze that seemed to originate further down the tunnel.

The gap was just wide enough that Kayo could catch a glimpse of what lay beyond. There was a flickering light but by its random movements she guess a gas lamp of some sort was burning. Crates seemed to line a wall.. They appeared new and from the markings on the side possibly army surplus supplies. So who ever this one, they had been here a while.

Holding her breath as she waited a beat for some sort of reaction from the other side. A voice, a shifting of shoes, anything to forewarn her that she had been discovered. The small hairs on the back of her neck prickling with sensation as her adrenaline spiked a notch.

When nothing changed or came charging out, she plucked a small device from her the pouch at her waist and dropped it. Automatically a duel set of miniature rotors unfolded from it and it began to hover in the air. A little something that Brains had supplied her for just this situation.

The small device carried a micro camera and was easily controlled from her wrist comm. The magnetic rotors were virtually silent and their independent movement allowed the tiny bot the agility to move about basically anywhere that Kayo required.

There were some downsides to the tech, like heat sensitive and its range capabilities and battery life were limited due to its size but overall it was perfect for Kayo’s uses. It had a few other handy add-ons though that more than made of its for what it was lacking.

With a flick of her daft fingers, her wrist unit sparked to life and an image of herself from the little flyer sprang up on the screen. With easy, she maneuvered the craft out and around her hiding place. It hugged the ceiling, its onboard sensory preventing it from crashing into any obstructions and zipped easily over to the open door way. With a quick title on its axis, it breached the gap and entered the room beyond.

Automatically, data and floor blueprints popped up on Kayo’s display. Geological information followed, GPS locations and the general makeup of the room, ambient temperature. Everything that one could possibly need to know about a 10 x 12 space. It was as she had guessed, a storage room of some sort and from the tiny screen, she could make out an empty rustic seating area, remnants of food containers and even a small cooker. No bio reading or heat signatures indicative of a person though and a quick glance at the composition of the wall told her she would have to go room by room.

The little flyer made quick work of the tunnel and in a matter of minutes Kay had a good read of the layout of the place. Four rooms total, and no trace of any occupants. The place had been deserted and deserted in a rush by the looks of things.

Leaving the alcove, Kay stepped out into the middle of the tunnel and hit her comms. “Scott, you can stop your pacing. John, let the GDF know the place is a ghost town and that they can send in their team now.. Give em a heads up about the trip on the first floor and they should watch out for more.”

“Roger that”

Within seconds, the tall brunette leader of iR was striding down the stairs towards her. The scowl in place not impressed at being caged upstairs while she did her initial scans.

“Report?” His voice was blunt with barely contained anger.

“Nothing so far, but the place has been cleared out. No trace of any electronic signatures that could signal additional defenses but watch your step and stay behind me. If I had a choice you would be back at the island..”

“Tough shit.”

The made their way through each room. The storage room was first and proved Kayo’s theory that the facility had been set up for the long run. The next room was a bunkie with a couple of pallets for sleeping and little else. There was a generator room, that had makeshift ventilation system that vented exhausted into the mill above, it was heavily padded to reduce noise and the door was actually steel reinforced.

That left door number four. Pausing outside it, Kayo looked to Scott and laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. The little flyer hadn’t picked up on anything living down here but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t find something else.

When his blue gaze met hers, he gave a single nod and Kayo put her shoulder into the door.

The room was dark and barren. The only light source the signal bar bulb at her back which swayed lightly, illuminating briefly first one side of the room and then the other as its light cast about in the breeze.

Like the rest of the tunnel system the flooring was dirt covered but the walls appeared damp with water run off from some unknown source. It was colder in this room compared to the others as well and the creepy feeling she’d experienced out in the alcove returned, sending shuddered up Kayo’s spine.

Pulling her penlight out once more she flashed it around the room. There was a metal chair to one side of the room and discarded lashings strewn about the floor at its base. Walking over to it, Kayo did a cursory scan of the floor and didn’t like what she found.

“The chair is fastened to the ground.” She pointed out, crouching to examine the bolts holding it down. Picking up one of the lengths of rope she tried her best to push down the fear at the sight of blood that darkened the strong twine, her light once more sweeping over the room.

She could trust Scott to stay out of the way, he knew how she worked and he kept himself over by the door so she could do her job. “What’s that over there?” He nodded, squinting his eyes as he tried to make out what it was from across the room.

Glancing back over her shoulder, she pushed up to her feet aiming her light at what Scott had indicated. “Not sure..” Walking over to it, she bent down to take a look and stilled.


Proof. “They had him here.” Turning back to Scott as he finally stepped further into the room she held the torn remains of a soft, grey shirt, one she knew that Virgil had put on some sixteen hours earlier.

In the early hours of the morning she’d been lazing in a tangled mess of bed sheets, languid and completely sated. Happy for the first time in …she had no idea how long and oh so relaxed. She’d raked her gaze over his fine physique and with a smile watched him pull the soft cotton down over his finger tousled hair before he’d turned and cupped her cheek for a good morning kiss that had once again led to other things..

Clenching her eyes shut she pushed the image from her mind. The shirt in her hand that smelt of his aftershave (the one she’d bought him last Christmas), the irony tang of blood and fear sweat, held tight as she tried to make sense of all of this and couldn’t.

Drawing in her breath, she gathered her bearing and returned to the task at hand. Peridot eyes swept around the earthen room that for lack of a better word it was what amounted to a cell. Archaic as it was, the place looked like something out of one of the many old war movies she had seen and it was hard to believe that in this day in age people still resorted to them.

Eyes narrowing as something caught her attention across the room behind Scott, she canted her head slightly trying to make out what it was. “Scott, behind you on the table.” She directed with a head nod towards the far corner.

Sitting on a small utility table amidst various discoloured rags and a roll of duct tape rested a folded note address to Scott and a holo-recorder. “What is it?”

“I’m not sure.” Picking up the note, Scott examined both sides of it. His name graced one side of it with thick block letters but other than that it was blank. Furrowing his brows he turned his attention to the recorder and powered it up, the small piece of tech casting odd shadows about the cell walls as it started to play some pre-recorded video.

Within seconds Scott’s face went from confusion to a look of abject terror that found Kayo instantly at his side having no idea she’d even made a conscious decision to move. The look in his eyes had her heart stuttering and relocating somewhere North of her chest.


Instantly everything else in the room suddenly dissolved, like someone had hit the dimmer switch on the rest of the world. Sound took on a tinny quality and faded into nothingness. Her panic breath and what she was looking at now the only things that seemed to registered in the vacuum.

There on the screen was an image of Virgil, bound to a chair and bereft of his uniform. He was blindfolded, the dark material obscuring part of his face but she knew it was him. She knew intimately that slumped form and the filthy cloth did little to mask the angry bruises and sluggishly oozing blood.

Off screen a modulated voice spoke and Kayo heard it as if it was distorted by some great distance. Movement in the back of the recording drew her eyes as a darkly dressed form came into frame behind the battered pilot. The camera at such an angle that the body of the person was cut off above the shoulders masking their identity.

Virgil’s limp head was yanked painfully back by his matted hair, putting his face in the camera lens as a glint of finely honed steel pressed into the soft skin at his throat. A small nick with the blade let forth a small trickle of blood but by the lack of response and the lax, bloody mouth it was obvious he was unconscious.

Biting back a growl at the mistreatment Kayo didn’t dare blink or look away as she prayed for Virgil to show some sign of life. Anything to set the world in motion again. The poor quality of the holo hampering the search but than the faintest of movements caught her eye and made her breath hitch and her heart gave a mighty kick in her chest.

There, under the ruddy skin along his stubbled jaw, straining awkwardly due to the thrust of his head was a laggy pulse of life at his jugular

“He’s alive.” She thought she heard herself say, not realizing as she began to shiver just how worried she’d been that she would have found something else down here.

The brother beside her cursed and sagged back against her. “Oh god…”

And just like that everything came into sharp focus again and sound returned. Along with it like the rush of a burst dam a surge of anger coursed through her and immediately she registered what the digitally obscured voice was saying.

The robotic cadence crackled through the little speaker of the recorder. “Tracy, meet my demands and your Brother will live. No security, no GDF..if not…” The voice trailed off as another unidentifiable figure came into frame and with a rough hand bared down on Virgil’s shoulder. The scream that the action ripped from Virgil’s split, bloody lips and his body’s shuttered contortion of pain had Kayo nails biting into her palm in anger.

The warped laugh that followed the torturous sound was sinister and laced with an edge of madness, “We’ll be in contact.” A chuckle and the screen went dark.