Transport helicopters, escorted by apaches above the immense Pacific Ocean. The title didn't live up for the conflict blooming there.

Mark, a few months from being just a cadet, now in direction to the lion's den. The pair of lines on his uniform depicted the lowest rank, though most of the others in the cabin shared the status.

The moustache gunman and the pilot being the exception. Both barely talked, gloom in their eyes as they saw the next cannon fodder bunch.

"It's time for this fucking Reds to know what means dealing with the US Army!"

"I'm finally killing me some bad guys…"

Emma's letter, carefully kept under many layers in his luggage. Sure he could wait a jeep trip after assignment on the Hawai'i base camp. Perhaps the largest hotel complex in the island.

"Mark R. Chandar!"

Training courses, again. Of course a bit more dreadful, with all the sun and strange green in either way his gaze pointed at. Not sure how shooting targets with a jammy M16 would prepare him for real combat, he passed with an almost flawless sweep.

"Bullets are worth your entire check, grunt! Don't waste them!"

Head or chest worked all together, but more style points on the first.

"Fire in the hole!"

Who didn't like explosions? From a five meters distance and in cover, yes.

"Faster, soldier, faster! You'd think this'd be a beach walk? Fucking hell…"

Obstacle climbing, mostly known as parkour. Half of the cadets back home failed at the task, and Mark wasn't an exception, but there was a difference between who practiced and who didn't.

"Go up, soldier! This ain't basic anymore! This is war!"

A little more time given, Mark managed, his arms not dying in the process.

"Impressive, Chandar! You're now less of a scum than I thought! Keep going and you'll maybe be facing the Reds tomorrow!"

Running a bit slower, Mark eyed the sergeant. That wasn't the way to keep him swift.

"In the jungle there ain't perfect terrain, soldier! Close that gap!"

The fall didn't seem friendly. Green water tickled his disgust.

"What's wrong? Don't wanna look down, lady?"

One step after another, he crossed the wooden plank. Really close to trip on the spot.

"Oy, Jacks! How many seconds you got his head on sight?"

"Twelve, sergeant!" A voice from outside the court resounded.

"Too goddamn slow! What the hell are you looking at? Go, gramps!"

The run exhausted him the most. Even if he knew the court was just halfway through.

"You think you'll keep up like that with our forces up front? Faster!"

A table with a beretta at the end, with a silencer attached. It didn't leave a second for the soldier to catch his breath.

"You've got three minutes to destroy the targets. Bzzzt!"

Mark pulled up outside a junk house. Another on the many around the suburbs in Miami. The address, inaccurate to the brim, yet known for having a foolproof tip on arrival. Giant neon letters with the last word in Russian, with a white suit on the guard outside, having a silenced pistol in hand.

The perfect shield for a rushed get in.

Raccoon on, the former soldier clenched his teeth, going for the stun in the form of a black gloved fist.

"Uh. What are you doing here, Al?"

"The hell do you care? I thought you had work already."

"If I did, I wouldn't be here enjoying your goodness gracious company. Shit's harder than it looks."

"Then keep looking. Otherwise I'll start eating outside, asshat."

"Chill out, alright? I'll get going."

The door closed soon enough. Alex left her orange backpack outside her bathroom, getting in to get a shower. Or a bath. She now and then thought why having just a bathtub had been a good idea to her father.

No need for a change though. Where she worked had their own showers, but nothing like the relaxing bubbling effect.

Her toned body kept rocking since the discharge in Hawaii. Nuke or not, most soldiers knew how it was going to end. At least her brother was still alive and kicking on the way back, down to the Russo-American coalition. The rest didn't matter, for her to be sincere.

The most fun of her job had been the scare to the dirty men trying to reach what was out of bounds. Her muscles hidden, waiting for a nudge to come out worked well with that. Even the young guys seemed to be lacking, drooling for the big ass or the tight marked boobs, when she didn't have any, compared to the porn star worthy bodies that went there.

Tending the million people that came one day to escape the other, and the myriad of old ladies trying to go with a wrong routine each day, not so entertaining.

Though having a laugh or two when the bench press and gravity worked together, making a disaster.


A phone ring interrupted her first thought on the water. She sleepy-eyed the door, judging the importunate, waiting like ten minutes to ready the bath first.

Relaxing her head on the opposite side of the tub, the ringing went on, until the answering machine beeped. Perhaps another message from the son complexed Beverly, her eyes widened out when hearing his voice.

"Um, hello. It's Mark. I don't know if you remember me, but I'm the one that asked you for your number at Paddie's. I…"

Alex jumped out from the water and tried grabbing the closest towel at reach. Getting the hallway soaking wet wasn't a plan, after making Ash do the clean for food.

"Would you like to have a cup of coffee? It can be anywhere you like, uh… you know where to find me."

Her rush ended in a scowl, not a drastic change from her usual expression. The line cut cracked at the same time she grabbed the phone.

"A week… for this. I'm getting you, motherfucker."

Finishing her bath and drying off in a blink, she started rummaging in her wardrobe.

Throwing every dull looking piece of cloth outside of the drawers, she settled for simple jeans, which uncomfortably fitted on her. So long of using cargo pants and now the tighter feeling made her lose a bit of freedom.

Little bit of balance after, her usual green t-shirt was over her, layered with an open hoodie. Sneaker laces knotted, she started her way to Mike's.

Mark laid on his back on the seat behind the counter, with the comic book on his face, covering the sun rays from outside. And from the world itself.

It's been years since he made the call. Well, not quite. At least Emma answered the phone back then.

Perhaps Alex was still at work? He calculated 5pm to be a good time to call though. Working since 8am, plus the eight hours… Huh. Overtime, possibly.

After the bad vibe on Sunday when Ash answered, Mark didn't mind him being the one listening to his offer. Looking at the upsides, her brother didn't answer, interrupting his lines and canceling every nerve he gathered the last few days.

Or maybe she just wasn't home.

The store moved like any other day. Peeps, 'v' marked English, a thanks for his service he didn't ask for, yet had to nod to, and the myriad kids asking for ice cream. Good life.

Bell ringing, he took off the comic, feigning a yawn, readying his most unwelcoming eyes.

"Afternoon, soldier."

Mark suddenly put himself together. Hearing Russian wasn't something he heard every day, even when mobsters came around. That word, easy enough, let him understand what the blonde woman tried to say.

Her blue irises fixed on him, and her ring over her right thumb glinted with the sun.

Wearing the same any other mobster did, just distinct by the shirt, the former soldier couldn't handle a sudden twitch. The bad premonition. Though recognizing him as a veteran, and not as a lowlife, didn't feel bad at all.

"I vish vodka. Men told I can find some here. Do you have it?" Her thick accent worded the sentence, hard to the ear, but simple for the brain, connecting the dots.

No reason to say no, Mark nodded twice, retrieving one of many bottles below. Somehow easier when the aquamarine shirt didn't shine over his sight, and an attractive Russian woman did the exchange, instead of a well-dressed junkie.

"Thank you. I zink you don't accept kisses as payment so have zis instead."

The woman took out her wallet and scattered more than enough dollars for just a mere vodka. Mark blinked, a bit unexpected, then in another closed eyes, another vodka was on the counter.

"You believe I can handle more? Wiz pleasure!"

Not sure to tell her that she didn't need to pay, the former soldier slowly gathered the dollars, deciding whether or not to open the cash register.

The woman grabbed the two bottles in each hand, and walked to the door.

"You are nice. Don't be surprised to see me back, Mark." She suddenly looked back with a wink, then kept on her way, making the bell shake again.

The former soldier eyed her back, willing to ask why a female mobster flirted with him.

Out of nowhere, a gray car appeared outside the store. Two Russian mobsters inside looked worried, hastily opening the door for her. Shrugging, she entered and drove away.

What had just happened? Did he just see the good side of the Mafia? The Mob had a good side? Or was it just his hormones for a blonde speaking in his mind…

He decided to open the cash register and put the money inside. Even with the generous amount of money in game, such didn't mean getting rich or poor overnight.

Returning to the previous pose, Mark actually managed to get some sleep, snoring to the pages of his finished comic book, before getting pushed off by his own breath, the noise of the fall doing the startle.

The afternoon gradually died to the purple sky. Doing a bit of stretches to get back on track for the evening, the bell rang.

Alex entered, widening his eyes. Those clothes, after seeing the same with just other color variants, looked good on her.

"You said something on the phone, and I didn't pick up. So I'm here."

"Hm." Mark's gaze followed her getting close, the counter serving as her limit.

"What did you say, Mark?" Her face got inches closer, her hands leaning on.

"Uh… " Mark fell back, his means of escape dying by the millisecond.

"You know what is to keep a girl waiting?" Even closer, her expressionlessness curved, giving ways of beauty Mark hadn't seen before.


"Hour after hour, beside the phone?"

"I called…"

"Feeling shittier when a day ended? Huh?" She forced a blink. "When did you?"


"…! That idiot!" Alex formed a fist, punching the counter. "I knew he had something in mind! But that doesn't mean you are the one to give up!"

She brushed her left index finger on his personal face space, with a little tap on his nose.

"And, know you cut me the line right away when I answered. You can't be less of a dumbass, Mark…"

"A client…"

"I don't fucking care if you had a client! You… what?"

Following Mark's own finger, Alex found a green-eyed blond man to her left, with a dark suit, and a well-groomed stubble. The two kept on the silence, having seen the man in the news report.

"Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt, but you got some cigs?"

Mark's reaction came sooner than expected, taking out a sealed box from below the little showcase below the cash register.

"Yeah, why not a box. How much is it?" The detective took out his wallet, counting some bills.

The price was right on the glass, but Mark couldn't bring himself to strain his eyes, neither point to it, as Alex had him blocked.

"S-seven fifty." His harsh voice came out.

"A bit pricey, ain't it? Well, these ones are good, so no complaints."

Pardo left the exact amount on the counter, and grabbed the box, leaving the scene.

"Bye." He simply voiced, as the breeze entering stopped. "Don't get your pants to think for you, my fella."

His purplish car drove away from Mark's BMW.

"What an asshole." She clenched her teeth.

"Uh, Alex…"

"Yes?" The blonde girl slowly hinged her neck towards him.


"You better. But you haven't answered me yet. What did you say?"

"Would you…"

"Would I…?" Alex abruptly backed away. "Nope. You´re not stealing a peck again."

"A coffee…"

"A coffee what? If you've called me right away, I'd help you, but NO… Now the torture is in both ways, Mark."

Second after second. Breath, after breath. Beat after beat.


"Are we going to stare at each other now?"

Light green versus brown. The locals lost ground before the match even started.

"Can we have a cup of that brown brewed caffeine shite that I like?" Mark blurted out in a rush, with his harsh voice, but didn't feel forced in the least.

"See? Was it that hard?" Alex crossed her arms, failing to notice her reddening cheeks.

"Yeah." A long while with his breath held inside his lungs, he finally eased, letting the bad go out.

Her expressionlessness returned to her lips, straightening most curves. Though the fluster didn't, the hair hiding her left eye not doing a great job, just as he left her in the bar.

Too bad his vocal cords died right on the spot. One more time.

"So… don't you have another thing to ask?" Her right eye corner avoided him entirely.

Mark, having his shell broken, chose to join every finger on his right hand and brush the tips on his neck, mimicking a slash. No matter what he tried, he knew no word would leave his mouth, until the heat cooled down.

Before Alex could keep mashing what was left of the former soldier, she found herself glared at.

"What? I had to have my payback."

The answer was a head shake. Mark tapped both of his palms to his chest, then pointed to her with an index, finally opening both arms to each side, his hands coiling in the wrist axis.

"Uh… You mean… what do you mean?"

Sighing, Mark did the expression twice, adding the detail of touching his thumbs against his other joined fingers, like a puppet show.

"Wouldn't it be better if you speak?

The former soldier forced a blink, not breaking eye contact. The secret of being bold was being pissed off.

Alex put her index across her lips, looking upwards. Her eyes lightened up, just like a bulb would.

"You want an answer?"

Mark clapped out of reaction, with a smirk. Then tilted his head to the side, making this expression more obvious for a newbie like her. His messy body language would've been easy for Jordan or Mike, before he actually came into words with them, and now he had to deal with somebody new.

"Um, what was the question?"

The former soldier's head fell to rest to his hand, but couldn't hide a smile. A low and silenced chuckle. Her expressionlessness façade cracked again.

"Points for laughing at the dumbest joke I could ever come up with. And my answer is yes."

He sank himself in relief, seating himself back, with a deep sigh.

"Don't call victory too soon, fella. You've still got a detail left hanging." She leaned on the counter again, just to keep eye contact pure and unscathed. "If you manage to make me win this charade, the first sweet is on me."


What was it? What was missing from his date? Date, date, date.

"Half a minute down. You will be buying me an entire cake if you fail, Mark."

A finger snap made his gear finally touch something useful. Automatically, his hand wave pointed to the clock behind him, and the calendar, a few inches from the former.

"Hey! That's cheating!"

" You… knew the answer."

Alex blinked many times, then raised her right eyebrow.

"What's up with that creepy voice?"

Mark shrugged, knowing it didn't come out unless he commanded it to.

"Well, I guess nobody won. I'm free on Friday Night. Are you okay with that?"

A calm nod, to go with her backing dull alike.

"Good. See you then." Alex circled on her own feet, her ponytail swinging. "Don't frigging do the wait thing again." She warned as her hand touched the handle, the bell ringing followed.

This time, Mark jumped from his seat, chasing the few seconds of advantage she just won.

" The place?" He managed to vocalize, surprising Alex a little bit.

"The mall's fine."

A sheepish curve trailed her mouth, looking back, as she lost herself in the palms in the street.

"You telling me you got a nice date today? Hah! Way to go, Marky!"

Jordan couldn't help but smirk, after swallowing his noodles. Mark also curved his lips a sheepish bit, following suit with the food.

"What about you, Jordan?"

"Eh. You know, the usual… Now other scum want to get a slice of the action out there. Seen the news?"

Mark circled the knot on the radio, finding the woman's voice talking. The brief jingle of a sum up.

" …Another attack in Downtown. More leads to gang related violence wave over Miami…"

"But the fun part it's that the masked murderers are real. We found one in the scene."

"R-really?" The former soldier focused on rolling more noodles around his fork. "Did he try something edgy?"

"Nah. He was dead when we arrived. Mafia tortured him 'til he gave out. Poor bastard."

"Remorse for a killer?"

"Picture yourself drowning, burning and electric death. Done? Then mash them bit by bit. That's what we found."

"Burn… Ow." Mark looked down for an instant, his scar stung.

"Uh." Jordan's eyes widened. Sorry if I went with touchy stuff."

"…How far would you go to defend your hometown?... Martin Brown, Nora White, in… Land of Trees. This isn't theirs to just take. April 23th in theaters."

Mark circled the knot back, his hand on his right cheek, finding the right tunes again.

"No worries. I think I just bit myself."

"So…" Jordan didn't bother to finish chewing, just putting his lunch to the side from his mouth. Where are you gonna take her?"

"North Point. You keep telling me there's a good coffee stand there."

"Ooh, Starbreeze. It's nice. I thought you were going for the atrocious choice of the cinema, ignoring my advice."

"Is it that bad?"

"For the first date, yeah. No place to talk, no light to see her, no right to touch, nothing. And talking is vital."


"Yeah, talking, my friend. Be yourself and you'll be fine."

Mark interrupted his fork and gazed at his friend, frowning his lips.

"There's no need for you to do the talking though. Just let her do it, so ask about her. "

Chewing, the former soldier upturned his view.

"I know you like her ass and possibly with your fondness of blondes she tickled your weakness, but she's more than that. Ha, don't give me the heebie-jeebies vibe, Mark. I was young too, kiddo."

Blondes, not. Emma's a brunette, but clarifying that gave no sense, so Mark returned to think.

"Eh, where do you come from, what do you do, shit like that works. Don't be an idiot and ask for family, please. Avoid sketchy stuff, and try smooth approaches. She likes you, from the coffee milk she brought, so it's acceptable. Are you writing this down?"

"In my mind."

"Don't let my words fly with the wind, for god's sake."

"…I won't, Trace."

"Good luck with your date, lad. It's been three years and you finally managed. I can't say I'm proud, I'm relieved." Mike put both hands on the counter. "Only one advice. With a fella like you, I know it's impossible, but try making the first step. She likes you already, perhaps a little surprise would add more points."

"Thanks." Mark nodded to his boss, as he assembled his stuff to leave the store, as his shift had ended ten minutes ago.

"Don't forget that if you fook up, I'll lose a client. So, careful, yeah?"

Mark rolled his eyes upwards, then waved to Mike, finally making the bell ring.

The ride home went smooth and calm. Day after day the heat died off even later at night, with some keeping the temperature until dawn. Top reasons to find more people in just shorts, and bra, in case of women.

In a traffic light, he found himself behind a Cherry Pop Ice Cream's Mr. Whoopee seller, the annoying sound heard in a kilometer radius. People started to run into it like flies to a decaying fruit, each leaving with a white lemon like ball on a cone, with the exception of kids, with colors around.

Mark thought the business would die off after seeing a cop running to the driver too, but blinked as the officer left tasting the drug, returning to the sidewalk, where a white suit watched over the cash exchange.

"These people are mad…"

Or maybe just liked the funny feeling.

Getting home, he parked his car behind another sedan, used by the looks of it. It's been days since he found himself parking close to that vehicle, or just having it close when he wanted to have a cruise at night.

Mark climbed the stairs as fast as he could. 'Night' could mean from seven to the rest until sunrise, but the sooner he got ready the better.

As the keys met the door, his neighbor opened his door, with his usual attire. The black shirt and the white pants and shoes.

"Afternoon, Mark."

"Hi." The former soldier stopped right on the spot. "Your arm's doing fine?"

"Uh, yes. Look." Timur waved his arm over, resembling a dance step.



Timur closed his door, and ambled to the stairs, while Mark finally opened his door, swiftly sliding inside.

A TV scattered bits laid on his worktable, left by his landlady, but didn't feel the need to rush, as he was certain she had three more in her apartment.

Though the red light from his answering machine stopped his rush to his closet. From the many possibilities, he just hoped Alex didn't cancel their date.

"You got ONE new message."


"Hi, this is Phillip, from the Tooled up Store. We have the order right and ready for pick-up. Don't forget to bring the ticket and your gear for the heavy lifting. As always, the address is NE 37 th Street. Be sure to arrive during our working hours."


Mark sat beside the phone, and pushed the button one more time. Such a good day died to crap in a matter of seconds.

"We're watching you."

Have they watched her visit? Mike's advice? Jordan's too?

The red circle with the horizontal lines crossed traced itself in his mind, and the three being scoped through a window, from any place they could be at the moment. Store, precinct, and her house.

Now that he knew there were other masked assailants, perhaps they did exactly like him. No, this couldn't be real.

"Mike's groceries, what can I…?"

"Mike you alright?"

"Mark? Of course I am. Why wouldn't I?"

"Oh. Uh, okay. That's good."

"What's going on, kid? Something wrong?"

"No, I'm just having some bad vibes here, ahm…"

"Oh. Just leave those under the carpet at least for today, okay? Girls don't like nerved up peeps."

"Thanks for the advice. Take care, Mike."

"You got it."

Mark cut the line, then grabbed his head. Why was he having paranoia? It could be a void worry… or just the way of someone masked like him to end lives. Lives he cared about.

A quick wash to his face, hoping he would return to finally change clothes, Mark left his apartment, in direction to the address from the phone. Taking the raccoon out of the back of the passenger seat, he ignited the BMW's engine, speeding to downtown.

"There you are, Timur." Vlad saluted from his usual place, reception's seat empty, reserved for his work partner.

"Afternoon, Vlad. Uh, what happened, why the long face?"

"T escaped again. The boss is fucking worried of her getting killed after the shit's going on these days and the girl thinks is a good time to explore this goddamned city."

"Well, leave her be. She doesn't look like one of us, to be honest."

"Partner." Vlad cleared his throat. "She looks more Mafia than both of us mashed together."

The elevator sound from behind the reception beeped, the tall silvery blonde getting out of it. Her pointy heels didn't feel different than the ones every Russian mobster wore, so that was another way to blend in, apart from the white jacket that covered just her shoulders instead of the arms.

"Wasn't she out?" Timur eyed Vlad after watching her go inside the mansion first floor.

"What the hell? Aleks searched for her around the whole place ten minutes ago!"

"Whatever. Let's just get this boring shift started."

As soon as Timur reached the check in and check out book, he sensed a presence behind.

"Hello, Timur."

He got startled immediately, his seat unconsciously pushed away from the voice. Turning his gaze to the source, an eyebrow raise was all he could give as reply.

Why was T talking to him? From that very day of the interrogation, and the catastrophic following night, she didn't aim any word to anyone, but the Son and the Boss, deducing they were related, but Josef didn't tell.

"She's someone important, Glaz. That's all you need to know." The tanned henchman answered even if Timur didn't ask, after T entered the mansion with the pizza in hand.

She stood there, waiting for an answer, or at least an acknowledgement.

"What do you need, young lady?" Not sure to 'you' her, he preferred going for the safest response.

"Huh, like ze way zat sounds. I vas vondering if we could have a chat?" T showed a smirk that made Vladislav strain both eyes.

Timur searched for help to his fellow, but the latter's irises moved on the same expression like a shrug.

"Sorry. I'm on my post here." The young mobster straightened his seat, the most serious his face could make.

"Hm… So vat can I do to buy your time?"

"You just can't. I'm getting paid by being here already."

Blunt heeled steps came from the mansion's entrance, right from where Vlad was.

"Don't worry, friend. I'll cover you."

"If the boss finds out there's only one here…"

"Aleks's messing around the mansion." Vlad interrupted, giving an awkward grin. "Sure the boys can handle some time without him."

T clapped twice, turning and entering the mansion again, earning a sigh from Timur.

"Sell out." he whispered, standing up.

Vlad shrugged now physically, giving him a thumbs up, grabbing the phone as he reached Timur's soon to be unoccupied place.

The former marksman followed her cape-like jacket, around the first floor. Maroon walls kept going from left to right, accompanied by black marble and golden plinths and outlines, protecting the upper parts.

In short, he found himself on the big stairs leading to the main office. Usually no one was there, unless the Son hung around. Clunky camera feed and a safe filled with printed money remained from the previous owner, said he defended this estate against a hundred men, and unlike the movie drug overlord Tony Montana, he didn't die in the process.

Plot armor affected people differently across the world's story.

Giving a nod to the group of fellow mobsters he saw chilling, Timur stepped inside the bar. Parties half happened here and the other half on the interior pool behind the mansion, the now paranoid fat Kelbidekov hosting most.

Eh, who was trying to lie to, having a girl or two clinging to either arm felt nice, once in a while. Vantage of the white suit.

The Boss Lebedev didn't like that though. Even when he congratulated had a toast in his honor, such kept on the inside, with the exception of three or four black suits, big ones or the agile ones carrying their swords like the bodyguard, the latter being the only woman there.

Divided in a bunch of silk black colored sofas, with a VHS probably to serve as an entertainment room, and the bar itself, with lots of bottles behind, Timur eyed T, she getting glasses from below the wooden bar.

"Have a seat." The silver blonde offered with a hand.

Pacing as slow as he could, Timur pushed a stool toward him and obeyed, no reason to not after Vlad practically threw him to the fire.

"How can you guys dry ze vodka reserve here so quick?" T glanced at the bottles, examining several ones.

"No one actually lives here. I guess the boss has no reason to have a stash here up and ready at any time."

"So zis wine? Some look really aged and tempting…"

"Ah. Those are from the last owner. I wouldn't touch them if I were you."

"Don't worry! Little Sasha can't do shit against me."

In any case, T pulled out a vodka bottle from the place she did with the glasses. Sliding a filled vase towards Timur, he caught it. Nothing a seasoned drinker couldn't handle.

"Not zat good, but expected from Americans."

"Yep. Skip the details, what do you wanna chat with me about? I'm at work, as you may remember."

"Vhy do men here keep calling you ze Red soldier?"

Timur frowned in question, having only heard the description from Adrik, rest in peace now.

"I served in the Hawaii War. I thought that was obvious."

"Josef is also a veteran but no one calls him dat."

"He's on the same level as Petrov. That's his way of distinguishing, I think, not from having just a nickname."

"Hm… You met him in ze war?"

"He who fights for the Motherland! He who puts his comrades before himself! Follow him to the path of peace!"

Each of these red posters, with Lieutenant Avilov below, his forward arm motion mismatching the scowl formed in his face. Eh, most soldiers strayed further than Neptune from being photogenic. Lots of them were convicted before the war even started. Conscription helped with the numbers, though.

Four months passed from the first blood drawn in Molokai. The Red Star stomped their way through, aided by the Hunter propaganda.

Even Timur couldn't deny his skill. There wasn't a raid he wouldn't return from, some even with no scratches.

"Afternoon, Ilya." He greeted Komarov as he walked aimlessly through the barracks.

"Eh, Timur. Wanna see something cool?"

"Sure, why not."

The heat remained up as boil hell in October. Fortunately, the cotton blue striped undervest in the uniform served well as cool off.

Walking to the shore, Timur started hearing cheers. Not sure how the soldiers could get excited too, excluding naked women of course, he eyed Komarov.

"It isn't that good, comrade. Your hopes are space high."

Many bunched up screams and voices rounded two figures, circled and fighting. The smaller one swiftly jumped and hopped around the bigger and slower one.

As always, when the bigger manage to connect a punch, the fight would be over.

"A brawl under the sun? Are these people nuts?"

"Wanna play poker for the umpteenth time, Glaz?"


In no time he noticed the smaller one was lieutenant Avilov, judging from the black bandana he wore.

"I'll get some drinks."

"Fetch me one too, Tim!"

Timur reached the ice beverage cooler. A spectator of the fight was looking for a specific drink there, sporting an unusual tan. Staying under the sun had tanned most of the soldiers to a scale, but this one felt from another country than Russia herself.

Yet the lines on his jacket actually obliged a salute from Timur. Grabbing a green bottle, the first sergeant offered the cooler with an open hand, keeping it open until the marksman grabbed it.

Then he left to watch the fight, silently.

Grabbing the better looking one, and an average looking one for Komarov, he returned, under the closest palm tree shade.

"Oh, that was nasty." His team sergeant commented, barely noticing what he was drinking. "Ugh! What the hell is this, Timur?"

"You didn't specify what to bring you, sergeant."

A pained grunt came from the bigger one, to be ended in an uppercut from Avilov. The people started cheering harder, but the big one wasn't still beaten yet, trying to get up.

The lieutenant, without a doubt, hopped on top of him and started beating his face, one punch after another.

"An expected outcome." Komarov drank again. "Yuck! What flavor is this, for fuck's sake?"

The sergeant went himself to the cooler this time. Watching him go, Timur saw a newcomer approaching the ending brawl. He had all his gear on, probably sweating like a chicken inside the oven.

Unlike the others, he seemed new on this side of the islands.

"Probably. I don't recall much from Hawaii."

"Lies. His look is you being his back up, and he don't trust everyone." T suddenly approached Timur, instantly gaining ground, but not much.

"Belle Island was probably my test. Uh."

"In Belle, you were ze one with Josef? Superb!"

"That isn't something I should be proud of…"

"You have to take me to one of the zem raids! Let me serve you one more."

Timur robotically moved his neck, trying to catch the gist again.

"Come again?"

"I want to go to one of those raids. This place is boring as fuck."

"Can't do nothing about that. Ask Josef instead, but I doubt he'd like to go to one either."

"Don't you dare to speak for him, Timur. And why do you keep using English?"

"My Russian is rusty. Haven't spoken it in like three years, just bits."

"How are you answering me then?" T strained her face.

"Because I can understand, but not speak."

"Those words are pretty normal to me."

"Still, I'd prefer to stick with this. As I said, ask Josef."

"And vat if we go on one by ourselves?"

"You know I almost lost my life, right?"

"Isn't dat ze best part, yes?" T enthusiastically tapped her hands on the counter.

The silvery blonde woman suddenly drew a shining revolver, pointing towards the front. In reaction Timur moved two stools right, as far as he could from the muzzle.

"The fuck was that?" The former marksman blurted out, his little glass having fallen to the side, a few drops of vodka sliding down.

"Quick…draw? Zat word it is, right?"

"Whoa, careful where you point that thing, T!"

"It's Tatyana." The silvery blonde left the gun over the counter, serving herself another glass, automatically downing the hatch. " Don't call me by that name though. Ever."

"Good… to know." Timur replied, sluggishly returning to his place just to put the revolver in safe hands.

The raccoon crossed the door to a pink lighted hallway. Optical illusions or not, he wore his military gear, yet feeling as light as a feather. The mobster he had grabbed by the neck tried to fight at each step forward, but somehow Mark kept it steady with the silenced handgun, until they heard chatter.

"Assholes! Right here!"

Two armed green clothed men appeared from the closest room, which had the "check in" label. Both briefly exchanged glances, with lots of doubt. Mark, included, until he saw the red flag mark on their uniforms.

"Fucking shoot! What the fuck are you waiting for?"

A skull pierce interrupted every one's possible thoughts. Especially from one, instantly swept off to the ground. The second shot landed in the chest, painting the green to darker, then triple tapped to ensure 9mms were mortal.

"Motherfucker! Ack!"

A shield didn't serve if it gave away any kind of sneak approach. The raccoon pushed the mobster forward with the sole of his shoe, ending his life with a quick shot to the head.

Hearing another breath that wasn't him, he barged in into the check-in room. A defenseless red tried to hide next to a locker. Not blending in the least with his green.

"We…!" Heart shot, his life snuffed out in seconds.

" Center of mass, fng! Center of mass! "

The pool soaking the floor below the body, Mark quickly advanced deeper into the building. A young bikini girl modeled for everyone from a scenario, a spotlight moving along her experienced hips sway. She seemed to enjoy it.

An announcer read her name and her measurements with a mic, ending with her price.

Stacked up against the nearest cover, he tried counting how many enemy soldiers were there. Though the greens weren't the only ones with guns.

A tan-skinned guerrilla look man with the red bandana, handled two pistols, one holstered and the other toyed around, enjoying the show, and two fat vested soldiers, a gunman and other melee, with just a machete.

All were bunched up in the near public section, with the exception of two, guarding the area from behind, between the public and the empty bar.

Suddenly one of the soviet soldiers smelled something wrong, and quickly hopped looking for someone in Mark's cover. Upon arrival, he looked left and right, trying to found what caught his nose.

An upturned silencer was what he got as answer, followed by a low beep through the jaw and brains, quickly shaded by the announcer's voice.

No time to plan anything, because he was seconds away from being discovered, Mark rushed in. The other rear soviet guard, caught distracted looking at the modeling girl's ass, got no time to aim, his AK heavily dropping to the ground, with a throat hole, choking until suffocation.

Sensing the Beretta, he still got half the chamber left.

As his aim tried to focus on the armed fat soldier's head, a bit unsure for the helmet he carried, the girl's scared squeak gave out the signal.

Knowing she would point to the corpse of the man clipped in the hallway, Mark barraged the six bullets onto the fat ones. Only the melee one managed to turn around, try to tend his wounds, but easily blacked out when an AK started firing.

" Know your enemy, soldier! This is what they use!"

God, the recoil. But lucky headshots were a blessing. Most of the soldiers died on the spot, pierced in the upper part of their bodies. One with a knife managed to withstand an arm shot and stand back up again, and the akimbo one barely felt the bullet traces, not even bothering to watch where they flew, as Mark crouched again.

The announcer's gray matter was scattered on the floor.

Music was still on, making it hard to hear anything in the near. Yet he could guess. Leaving his cover, the akimbo shot immediately, grazing the raccoon's green uniform.

The other started rushing, trying to jump as he got around the corner. The only shot fired held the flight in place, a leak of blood tinging a line behind his fall, leaving a butterfly knife.

Mark upped the AK. This wasn't looking good. He retrieved the knife on his left hand, and pushed with his foot the corpse out of cover. Six shots almost simultaneously exploded in red.

"Keep your knife at hand! They are not just for opening MREs!"

Leaning as much as he could without getting shot, he fired once, one hand wielding the rifle. Recoil going from bad to worse, but precision to the ceiling, managed to make the akimbo crouch, then threw the gun to him, aided by his left hand, already wielding the knife.

Surprisingly, the Russian elite soldier tried to fire while crouching, but the bullet hit the air, as his throat got slit. For sure blood splattered to his mask, the wound being opened with such force.

The raccoon, finally catching a breath, heard a woman crying. Stepping up the platform, he found her unable to move, her heel broken and probably her ankle too.

Her eyes went from first level fear to the last in second, seeing the mask.

With no hesitation, Mark raised the knife towards her.

"Careful with civilians around! Mad and dumb are still surrounding the island, and so are those goddamn journalists!"

The raccoon opted to see her closely and put an index on the mask's lips. Unable to bear such a penetrating look right into the eyes, she passed out. Good enough.

Searching between the now left over for grabs, he settled for the tiny sub machine gun the first fat carried. An eyelid twitch called an urge, he needed to kill whoever the fuck was doing the disc jockey thing.

What followed was a long lined hallway, the lights mixed with purple, pink and red. Sensing presence in pairs in the first two, Mark chose to kick the first door, the first thing to see, a heart shaped bed.

Strangely, a lone soviet soldier awaited there, having a machete in the right hand.

The PP-90 did a quick work, a three burst ending the encounter. Quickly barging to the hallway and the following room, he found another, wielding a small pistol, but neither shot, as the raccoon bashed the soldier's head with the butt of the gun.

A knock out finished by a stomp, scattering skull parts into the ground. Catching another breath, this room still had one breath he didn't find, while the previous one didn't have any.

And finally he heard steps again, stacking up behind the door.

Out of nowhere, it got filled with holes, resounding the entire place.

"Use doors strategically."

Mark waited for voices to come into attack again, after being on sneak for twenty seconds, pushing the door.

Two soviet soldiers went flying backwards, while the only one left standing, tried to aim, his head splattered on the wall behind.

AK shot traces formed through the hallway, making Mark return to the room, still having line of sight to finish the two on the ground.

Four waited in the end of the corridor, and the room didn't have no one alive now, but him. Two in cover and the other two awaiting for the shot.

The raccoon, with a leg up, dashed between opened rooms, jumping over the corpses there, letting out of the magazine of his weapon.


One of them fell down, distracting his fellows for a fraction of a second, enough for Mark to grab a rifle left by the dead ones.

"There! Fire, Fire!"

The three didn't seem to move. Only the fourth had managed to limp away, still in action. Time to make action out of ideas, as he saw his empty PP-90.

As he threw it outside, a bunch of shots pierced the vapor in the hallway.

"Hold, hold! What the…!"

" Nothing like the good ol' m16, aye?"

The bullet exchange finished with the three mobsters. Not sure where they reached, the one thing he was sure of: They didn't breathe.

Mark barraged again the hallway, from a blind point, in case the one left still had the muzzle up and ready. But nothing moved.

Grabbing another weapon, he ambled on, finding the remaining one on the floor, casually laying on the floor. Almost every bullet had gone to every limb, none touching the center of mass, sure causing lots of pain, even both hands had holes.

"Finish me, motherf..."

One, two, three, four stomps did the work, until the head got destroyed. Continuing inside the complex, sweeping off every other green soldier he could find, he ended in a cargo place, from behind the building.

Lots of trucks, arriving and opening to the bunch of garage gates, with their respective drivers. Mark didn't mean to be so subtle though.

"Who the fuck are you?" The first driver to come into view tried to draw a weapon from inside his pants, but met a shotgun blast, the head splattered into the driver's door.

Two other Russian soviet soldiers came out from the passenger side, trying to respond to the fire. An arm made bloodstains and another practically sliced in half by the pellets.

Women cries were now the soundtrack on the scene, now far from the music inside. Not sure why, but Mark kept on finding soldier after soldier, briefly changing to white suits. Dogs made their presence too, rushing and trying to lunge.

The butterfly knife worked the best, and now with his gear, the bits didn't hurt, or better, they didn't even connect.

Whimpers as the poor blameless animals died. Yet the raccoon colors flashed every time the canids got heart pierced, remorseless.

The last one being an akimbo elite, with the same uniform, but wielding a sword. Mark just dashed towards his enemy. Running so fast, Iaido alumni died right in the spot, blood out of the neck.

Extra colors dimmed. Real ones remained. Mark saw right into his eyes how the elite turned into a black suited mobster. The white tracks had the crimson lines right where the other white suits died, but the woman's cries didn't end.

"Go to car."

The driver seemed to be an old man, out the beard that was left of his head let see. Such a horrid life.

Mark gripped the butterfly knife. The long line of white suits killed donned the purple and pink light, but his senses halved, and chose to escape.

"98370 pts."

In the scenario, the raccoon saw the passed out woman. Trying to see if she was still alive, he bumped into the stairs towards it. His legs didn't respond. They didn't go up, just forward.

The lights and music still roamed around like nothing. Though the latter changed to an eerie one, going with his lagged mind.


Finally eyeing his first victims, he left the cathouse. The night was up and running, a starry night welcoming Miami. Welcoming a Raccoon murderer.

He opened his car door after two tries of his keys, took out the crimson spot filled mask, and finally let pure air into his lungs. Mark's mind being a mess, he chose to just turn on the car, and drive off, as his heart slowed down the pace.


Mark stepped up, as the other two with him in the row awaited the call.

"Sir, yes, sir." Even if he tried, his voice turned out to be low. He just hoped for a quick bullying, unlike his days under his drill sergeant shadow.

"You may be saluting me here, but keep that hand to yourself from now on, soldier. Reds out there would love to have a lucky snipe on any officer like me."

"Yes, Colonel."

"You applied for an engineer, hm? Some brainiac we got here. Sadly we got no places for more here in Hilo. You'll be sent to Kahoolawe, 5th Platoon. Give Lieutenant Becker my regards."

"Thank you, sir."

Curious, after two seconds of hearing the other two names, the colonel assigned them instantly to D Company, 3th Platoon, with no more comment.

"Choppers are leaving tomorrow at 0600. Get yourselves ready or you'll be cleaning toilets for what remains of the war. Dismissed."

Alex cleaned her side room. After making chaos out of a pair of jeans, piling that up didn't even peek into her plans. A bit of broom here, lots of mop there… A little water to a weedy pretty plant here, search into clothes she didn't use in years…

She found a cloth over something with a particular shape. Sharp and menacing. Pulling it off, a chainsaw let into view.

Not sure why her father left that gathering dust there, she couldn't find the will to sell it, be it the only thing he left to her, apart from all the debts the house had.

Checking the fuel tank, it was empty. Father didn't even leave it charged. Grabbing it up, she carried it to her main room. Her muscles let her swing the chainsaw quite easily, yet not as quickly as a knife.

She blinked various times. Why was she doing that?

" You two are a pair of freaks, Davis ."

Tony was an asshole, but he was part of the gang. Where would he be now? She was almost certain Corey did her thing with him even when his hard-to-be-close personality pushed her away.

One more swing. It felt fun. Like a good warm up.


She left the chainsaw back to its place and put cloth on top. No more weed bonks with blades included for her.

Justice Der - Bitch don't kill my vibe / Plague Queen - Mother Night