"...Have you had any other symptoms after the incident, madam?" a man asked as he sat upright in his chair. He had a clipboard in his hands as he kept his pencil hovering just over the small notepad that was filled with many notes from previous attendees. Perseus sat across from the man, the resident therapist of the organization, as she leaned back in her chair, sinking into it a bit. Irene mentally cursed at the fact Stitch and other members had forced her into these sessions-they brought too many past memories to come flooding back in; ones she would rather have buried down and not be reminded of. She also knew these were of a result some would question if she was in any position to lead given this condition, the thought alone made her blood boil. She blinked a few times as she turned once again to the man waiting for her answer. She put a sheepish smile as she rubbed a brow of sweat that had formed.
"No, none at all." she answered quickly. It was a partial lie, even in the back of her mind, she was able to hear a subtle voice echoing to her a phrase that she was cursed with for decades at this point. However it was clear that lie did not work by the therapist taking his glasses off for a moment to wipe his face. Some frustration was clear from what Irene was able to read from the man before he put his glasses back on and took a breath in.
"Let's try something new then, Ms. Williams…" he started, this now got her attention as she began to rise back up from her chair. Irene raised an eyebrow as she waited for the man to continue. "Tell me, before the incident, what can you remember?"
"Before the incident" she silently repeated to herself and paused for a moment. Thinking back to the day, some forty plus years ago. It was a different time, a different place, but it was one neither Irene nor the Perseus group as a whole could forget. Knowing that this was really her only way out of this personal hellhole for her, Irene let out a defeated sigh before speaking. "I was in Turkey back in '81–just at the start of the new year. Myself along with another member of the organization had hands on some important documents. Some that Perseus had entrusted me in taking care of."
"Another member?" the therapist asked; "Where was he from? What were you doing in Turkey at that time?"
"He was a contact out of Iran, and that was a quickest way for the two of us to reunite." Irene paused for a moment, she shut her eyes. "I was just sitting in the car as we made our way to the airstrip..."
Location: Trabzon, Turkey
Date: January 13, 1981
Irene rested her head on the car windowsill and look at the small water droplets hitting the jeep. Dressed in a blue combat attire that hid her more feminine features and a green balaclava, no one was able to tell her apart from any other grunt soldier-perfect way to disguise yourself as a VIP from any enemy. To her side was a man wearing a blue leather jacket with a large tiger taking up a good majority of the back side of it and a pair of desert camo pants. His hair was almost shoulder length with a large black mustache, he wore a pair of orange tinted glasses and headband to top off his look. Irene took a small look over to the man, Arash Kadivar–the two were on rather neutral terms as far as she was concerned, with him and another Iranian member orchestrating a siege on the Iranian embassy the year prior. A proper enough distraction used for Perseus to let all of NATO have their attention in the Middle East, rather than on the group putting their plan into action.
Irene looked down at the blue folder with Russian writing on it that was on her lap. The Perseus agent gave a glance at it as she scanned some of the important documents with different codes and other encryption keys to be used for the singular floppy disk inside. The American woman let out a small huff, knowing a majority of these by heart as she closed the folder and handed it over to Arash, who gave a glance to it as well. The Iranian took the floppy disk and pocketed it to be given to another contact of theirs.
"Make sure not to lose that thing, alright?" the woman warned, earning a small scoff from the Iranian. "I'm serious. I hope you are more capable than that weasel Qasim."
"Qasim was always one to crack under pressure." Arash muttered. "Though now with him gone, finance management could become a large issue, you know?"
"That is none of our concerns. Perseus is more than ready to make a deal with a potential contact in Laos." Irene said, defending their leader. Arash just waved a dismissive hand as they passed the airfield's gates. "Whatever, we will be in Duga soon."
"Yes, this you know." Arash said, handing Irene back the folder; "Here's what you don't: none of these hired guns will be joining us."
Irene remained silent for a moment, only blinking a few times with the news. Finally she connected it, they were simply covering their tracks and taking out any loose ends who could compromise the mission. Irene nodded her head and let Arash continue explaining the new change in the plan.
"Once we dump their bodies in the forest, we give Volkov the weapons in Berlin–then fly to Solovetsky to meet with Perseus." The jeep came to a stop to a large cargo plane that was being loaded with vehicles and unmarked weapons that terrorist organization had acquired. Irene looked over at the hired guns, knowing their fates once they reached Duga. A small price for a better tomorrow.
"Well, let's not keep him waiting, my friend." Irene said as she unbuckled her seatbelt. Arash stopped her for a moment by hopping out of the car.
"Oh, one more thing, I have other plans for you." the Iranian spoke up, stopping Irene in place as she gave another confused look at him. Arash stepped out of the car and turned around to face her. "Perseus thinks too highly of you. I don't want the competition."
Before the woman could react, Arash pulled his side arm out and pointed it straight at her. Irene raised her hand up before two shots entered her in the shoulder and stomach. The driver did not fare better–with a shot in between the eyes killing him. Irene slumped down in her seat, the document still on her lap but now coated in her blood. She began to fall out of consciousness as she heard the crack of a sniper rifle shot.
Some time passed, she was not sure how long, but taking as best of a glance as she could, Irene saw the bodies scattering the airfield and bright light in the distance–the cargo plane they were to have taken was now laid in ruins. The small click of her door, made her jot her eyes in the direction of a man in a beanie, green jacket with a pair of aviators on and notable scars on his face. Irene and the man made eye contact with each other for a moment, the latter being too weak to reach for her weapon and only let out a small groan.
"Over here!" he said, American was the first thought that came to Irene's mind as he shouted out to two other soldiers in the distance. "We got a live one."
"...And from there, I think you know the rest" she shuttered in her seat and looked down. "Arash–the least he could have done was make sure I was dead! Incompitent to the end."
The therapist remained silent for some time, taking in the woman's story. He looked down at his previous notes–thinking of the next question. Irene put one leg over the other and raised an eyebrow at him. She was not keen on his silence, or the fact he was judging her by what she had told him. Deep down a part of her wanted to just storm out the door, maybe even tell a guard the man was a spy to have the excuse to shoot him dead and be rid of having to deal with this therapy nonsense.
"Miss Williams." he began, not much of a good sign in the woman's mind. "I'm sensing there is more to this that you do not want to say…"
Irene stayed silent, acting confused by what exactly the man was talking about. Nonetheless, he continued on with his analysis.
"Your phrasing in this–it shows me you have internal conflicts. Internal doubts, even."
'Dammit, he's good.' she thought to herself, as much as she was hating every moment of the session and the thoughts of having the man killed-his skills made that impossible for her to go through with it. An idea popped into Irene's mind as she faked checking the time on her watch. It helped provide her with a good excuse. Quickly, she rose up from her chair and faced the man who looked at her in confusion.
"I'm sorry to end this so short, I have other business to tend to." she said walking to the door. "You tell Imran that I am fine, this was simply a one time incident."
Before the man could let out a word of protest, Irene walked out of the office and marched towards her personal quarter's. A lot was on her mind, how easy she was to be read, how the man was able to pick apart any sign of weakness she held. Quickly shaking her mind off them, she entered her room. Irene quickly reached underneath her bed and reached for the bottle she had taken from the president's office in Verdansk, she began to pour herself a glass and drink. Irene took a moment and found her hand visibly shaking. "It's okay, Irene...just some jitters. Deep breaths" she told herself; "Some liquid courage and all this will be put aside."
"(This new man…are we sure he would be a valuable asset to have, son?)" Imran asked as he scanned at the folder his son had given. Victor, who sat across from him, impatiently tapping his foot as his father looked at the document and then at him. The man in question was a Spaniard, experiences including time within the DOT and other work with the CIA in bomb disfusal.
"(Yes, father. I believe he could prove some usefulness, apart from his-shall we say- unique sense of humor. He has proved more than capable, so long as we pay him of course.)"
"(Pah! Pay him.)" Imran scoffed as he set the folder down, grabbing his cigar. "(Typical mercenary. Have you already informed Perseus?)"
"(Yes father. She was open to what your opinion was on the matter before authorizing the meeting with him.)"
Once again, Imran fell silent as he let out a small sigh as he thought on the topic. He took a few drags from his cigar. There was some value in a bomb expert, especially one who had some CIA experience. "(Very well, son.)" he finally answered, resting the cigar on the ashtray and leaned in. He let out a small chuckle. "(I have trust in your judgment.)"
"(Thank you, father.)" Victor smiled, rising up from his chair. As he did, the old man spoke up once again.
"(Perseus is to accompany you as well, son.)" This last statement made the younger man stop in his tracks. He made a small scoff as he turned around to face his father, his face clear with an expression asking if his father was serious. To which Imran remained stoic, staring at his son directly in the eyes. Knowing it was a losing battle to argue with his father, Victor pressed on anyway as he walked back over.
"(Father. If I may…)" Victor began as he returned to his seat. "(I can handle this deal on my own–Perseus is only going to be a liability.)"
Imran let out a deep sigh, he was afraid this discussion would come up. Victor however nodded his head at his father's reaction. "(I heard about it, father. Kapano told me.)"
"(Has he told anyone else?)" Imran quickly asked after. Victor shook his head no, Imran let out a small sigh of relief; "(You do not need to worry–she is being looked at. She has endured this for forty some years now.)"
"(I do not understand why she leads us if this is such an issue.)" Victor sighed as he sunk deeper into his chair. "(If anything, father. You are better to lead.)"
"(That is out of the question!)" Imran quickly snapped, getting up from his chair and leaned forward on his desk. "(This will be the last we speak of this. I do not want to have this conversation again.)"
Victor opened his mouth to continue the argument before just letting out a frustrated sigh and looking down at the ground. "(Yes, father…)" With that, the young man got up from his chair and walked outside, the one armed old man let out a sigh as he returned to his seat.
Location: TF141 Safehouse, Kastovia.
Date: March 15, 2020
Ghost returned back to a small base camp that the newly formed task force unit he was a part of. He gave a small knock code on the front door of the remote home the group used before the door opened up. Inside were four men each dressed in different attire, however a majority of them dawned the Union Jack on their uniforms. Ghost set his rifle aside on a makeshift weapon rack as he walked over to the others. He pulled out the bullet he had found earlier, now in a small ziplock bag.
"What do we have here…" one man with a mohawk hairstyle spoke up, his Scottish accent thick. He placed a hand down as he examined the bullet. "Mid caliber…not quite like the usual standard issue."
"Has some engraving on the rear end." the masked soldier spoke up, pointing it out. "'QCR' any idea what that could mean?"
"Not the usual Zakhaev mark, that's for sure." Price mused as he examined the bullet himself. "The recon mission some Armistice soldiers went on described a different looking emblem."
"You said the Stadium was blown to shite as well, Simon?" The Scotsman looked over to Ghost. Who answered with a simple nod. "Someone is trying to hide their tracks then."
Before anyone could speak again, Price's phone began to vibrate, looking at the id on it, he slightly groaned as he excused himself from the others in the room. He answered the phone and was immediately met with the voice of another man on the line.
"Shepherd." the Englishman answered back to the American general. There was a brief moment of silence with the sound of some shuffling papers in the background. Price took a seat in a chair, feeling this would be a rather lengthy call; "I take this won't be a social call."
"The stadium rooftop was blown sky high in Verdansk, Captain. You bet your ass that this is not a social call!" the General replied back with frustration clear in his tone. Price remained unfazed by the American's anger and kept a neutral face as he heard a sigh from the other end of the call; "I want you and 141 to focus your attention on the people responsible–let Armistice focus on Al-Qatala."
"We already are." Price said in a matter of fact tone, he examined the small bullet once again, "Simon retrieved something from the remains–this was no accident, someone is covering their tracks."
"And I want you to find out just who that is, John." Shepherd took a moment to pause before speaking again; "I'll call you to see any updates, Captain."
"Yeah, yeah." Price said and hung up his phone. The man leaned back in his chair and let out a small sigh. He fiddled with his pocket to reveal his trusty lighter and the pack of cigars that Kamorov had given him. After a few attempts to spark it, he managed to turn it on and light his cigar.
"Spare a light, Old Man?" a familiar scottish voice asked, the man stole a chair and sat next to Price. He had an amused grin on his face, letting out a small chuckle as Price let out a small groan at the old man comment.
"Old Man? Bloody hell, MacTavish." Price rolled his eyes. Nonetheless he handed the lighter to Soap. The Scotsman lit his cigarette and took a few puffs before he leaned back in his seat. Price took his lighter back and scoffed once more at the comment; "I ain't that old, arsehole."
"Aye, you are for me." Soap continued to tease the Captain. "So John. What is it that Shepherd wants from us now?"
"Look more into this shite with the bullet." Price groaned; "Sooner we can solve this, the better. As if Al-Qatala in Verdansk was not already an issue."
Soap remained silent for a moment, he looked on at the Captain with some curiosity. There was more to all this that John had not told him. It was odd to the Scotsman that he would have gone to this American general for help forming the task force to begin with. Something felt like there was more to the creation of the task force that only the Captain was aware of. Regardless, the Scotsman remained silent as he took drags from his cigarette.
"I think I can get some help to find out about this bullet." Price finally spoke up. Soap raised an eyebrow as he waited for the Captain to continue; "Helped back during all that Urzikstan business."
"Aye…That's how you met the new lad, Kyle."
"Yep." Price nodded his head as he reminisced for a moment; "Saw Garrick in Piccadilly during that attack. Had the same fire in his eyes and eagerness to do anything to make the world right–same like you MacTavish."
"Does that mean I ain't the FNG anymore, Captain?" Soap asked with a small smirk on his face. Price only answered with a hearty chuckle, which made the Scotsman raise his hands up in defeat, a smile was still very much present on his face. "Oh c'mon now?"
"You will always be the FNG here; and that's final." Price finally said as put out his cigar and chuckled. The Captain rose up from his seat and dismissed himself, leaving Soap alone. The Scotsman remained silent for a moment as he let the cigarette stay lit in his hands. Soap just shook his head as he thought back on being the now permanent FNG in the Captain's eyes. "Bollocks." he muttered under his breath and chuckled, taking another drag.
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Date: March 16, 2020
Ibiza, one of the islands off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea that belonged to Spain. While during the summer times with the warmer weather it is a prime tourist spot. However, now was not prime time, now the weather was getting colder to moderate temperatures. Irene and Victor looked out at sea as the boat that was taking them to the island was arriving near shore. Victor looked out at the large amount of luxury boats that lined all over the docks. A small scoff escaped the young man, such riches the elite enjoyed. Irene took note of the scoff and silently agreed to the gesture. Irene looked down at a small paper that she had, it was filled with different hotspots all around. One that caught her eye was a club located on a cliffside that overlooked the ocean; it was built over some old ruins, Irene rolled her eyes at it. Such good history that was buried over by a fucking club, she thought. The club was important for a singular reason: the new contact they have established would be waiting for them there. The boat finally reached their destination as people began to make their way off.
"Come now, Victor." Irene said as she put on a pair of sunglasses. The young man nodded his head as they walked out in silence from the boat. Irene scanned all around as she felt the wind hit her face. "You know I was once from a place much like this in America. Was nice and quiet…except in the summertime when all the tourists would come."
"Sounds real riveting…" Victor muttered under his breath as he looked around, he scanned around the people walking by exploring the sights and local stores. "Let's make this quick, da?"
"Of course dear. If things go well, we will be back home in no time with this Benito fellow with us." Irene said as she paused for a moment as they had to wait at an intersection. "I must say, Victor. You remind me very much like your father."
"Hm?" The man now looked at her with an eyebrow raised. "Why do you say that?"
"I can see that look of ambition–I mean, you had made an entire business on your own. Your father, well, I knew him for a long time, he was a great politician. Calculated, persuasive, I'm sure Lenin would have wanted him to be his right hand man if he were able to go back to the 1920's." she chuckled as they continued walking. Victor was silent as they did, her words were on his mind–was he truly becoming his father? This was something that he did always think to himself once or twice, with the leader's words only reinforcing that thought it brought him a sense of pride. Pride that the Zakhaev name was not one to be put to shame. He was on the right track. The two neared the coastline club where their contact would be waiting. Irene took another glance at the contact's image that was attached to the pamphlet in her hands. The man would be sitting in one of the outside patio tables. The man would have long wavy hair–dirty blonde as well. Irene scanned around the club, which was more of a restaurant and bar early in the day. Victor and Irene scanned around to see a lone man sitting at a table, from a glance the man fit the description. The woman took a look over at Victor, motioning over to walk to him; the man was busy indulging in some spanish dish. The Spaniard heard the pair of footsteps approach him, seeing a man and woman, a small grin formed on his face as he motioned for the two to come over.
"Heyy, bienvenidos!" the man spoke up, he was Spaniard, his accent made it all clear about it. Irene snapped her attention to the man who greeted them–his attire screamed laid back by the stubble along his face, the unbuttoned short sleeve and the white tank top underneath. The Perseus leader was able to note some tattoos along both his arms, as well as some shiny portions that were barely visible at the end of his shorts. 'Is he armed?' was all she could think as he motioned over for the two to take a seat. "Sit, sit. The food here is some of the best that you can find."
"Is it now?" Irene raised an eyebrow as she took a seat, she looked over to the man, she continued to assess the man. "I would have figured it would come second to the more…nightly events."
"Ahhhhh, you can't have a good fiesta with some good food now, miss–"
"Her name can be discussed another time, sir." Victor stepped him. "But, before we begin any further. You are Benito Ortega, da?"
"Well, I haven't seen anyone else who has a similar name in this restaurant." The man shrugged his shoulders. "So I must be your guy."
"You came into contact with one of our associates, a Harry Stone?"
"Senor Stone? Si, si. That old bastard mentioned something about a 'Mr. Z'" Benito rubbed his hand on his chin as he thought back to it. His ice blue eyes came into contact with Irene's hazel and they stared at each other for a moment. "Is there a…problem?"
"Do you have a gun right now, Mr. Ortega?" Irene said in a deadpan tone. Her previous cheerful attitude was now gone. Benito raised an eyebrow and looked over to Victor in confusion. Regardless, Irene leaned in; "Word of advice: if you were ready to kill someone, you may want to hide your gun better next time."
"Mierda." was all Benito said for a moment as he leaned back in his chair, a small chuckle escaped his lips as he pointed a finger at Irene. "Senora, I don't know how you knew, but damn you're good. Eh, nothing related to this deal of course. You can never be too safe now in this crazy world."
"Then next time it would be best if you did not have it stick out of your shorts." Irene snapped in between her teeth. Victor was ready to reach for his own sidearm. However they stopped when the Spaniard began to laugh, both Irene and Victor were taken back from the man's uncontrollable laughter, the former looking at the latter in confusion. Benito raised a finger up as he composed himself. "Oh..oh….I-you almost had me for a second there." he cleared his throat. "Dios. I haven't laughed this hard in a while–that was not a gun you were looking at, Senora."
"Then what the hell was it then?" Irene raised her tone once again. Without answering, Benito lifted up one of his legs to reveal that the shiny portion was a metal prosthetic, it had seen better days as it was scratched up and beaten, but was still in solid condition. Irene relaxed a bit at the reveal of the prosthetic and leaned back to rest her back on the chair. Victor also calmed down by moving his hand away from his own side arm.
"I have two actually." Benito said as he lifted tapped his other leg's prosthetic. "Lost both of them in some mierda op for the CIA."
"How unfortunate." Irene mused as she started at the prosthetics a bit longer. The more she looked at them the more she could tell they were more on the primitive and cheaper side of the market–this helped get an idea to come to mind. "I take it that these new legs have proven to be of some issue now."
"You said it, senora." Benito sighed as he lowered his leg off the table. "Trying to run away from la CIA when you have no good running legs? It is not as easy as you would think."
"Then perhaps we can help you with that situation, Mr. Ortega." Irene smirked, earning a intrigued look from the Spaniard. Victor meanwhile was confused in what the Perseus leader was talking about, but nonetheless hid his confusion with a stoic expression. "We have a contact who can give you an upgrade to those current prosthetics of yours–make them look like they belonged in the stone age."
"Okay, okay–you have my attention now." Benito nodded his head, he reached down to grab another bite from his food as he stayed silent for a moment. "What exactly do you need from me anyway?"
"Oh it is a small thing really." Irene answered with a small shrug; "There are some explosives that require a bit of your expertise in."
"Ah, a diffusal job then?"
"An arming one actually, Mr. Ortega." Irene said as there was a moment of quiet as Benito stopped mid bite of his food. "We require you to arm them for us. Is that an issue?"
"Eh…no, no." The Spaniard finally answered. "Most people just want me to come diffuse–this will be an interesting change of pace."
"Of course, there is the case of payment for my services." Beinto added with a smug grin. "Time like these? Well I need money to keep myself stable–I'm sure you understand."
"Of course I do." Irene nodded her head; "As much as I would hate to admit it, money does make the world go around. Know that you will be paid handsomely for your efforts if you join us, on top of the previously mentioned prosthetics."
Benito took some time to think of the deal that was in front of him, evident as he remained silent for a while. Victor the entire time was taken back from the entire conversation. He had said very little during it but this time was able to analyze it all. Irene and her skills were impressive to say the least, they were some that he knew his father well for if the past times he had seen his speeches on the television as a child were anything to say. Victor was left a bit puzzled, all the things Irene had said to Benito–was she being genuine in them, or was she fabricating it all to get the Spaniard to join…the young man was unsure which was to say for certain until later on. Finally Benito cleared his throat to get their attention.
"Bueno, after all of this, I think I have made my decision." The Spaniard started.
"And that is, Mr. Ortega?" Irene asked, putting one leg over the other.
"You can count me in." he said with a toothy grin on his face, Irene only smirked that they now had another member within Perseus. Victor was left in silent shock. 'Now I see why father sees her fit to lead.' he thought to himself.
"Wonderful news, Mr. Ortega, know that from this moment on, you can expect funds to come into your account. I shall also begin to contact the people for those prosthetics."
"Ha ha! Perfecto!" Benito cheered; "So now that we are all working together, shall I know your name, Senora…?"
"Perseus." Irene said simply, leaning back in her chair; "You can just call me Perseus."