Based upon characters created by John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Kurt Russell.
No copyright infringement is meant.

Big thanks to Raimi and Ramon who helped fine tune this story. This tale was originally
submitted before September 11 but I removed it due to details within the story.
I have resubmitted it in the hope that people can take it as a bit of fun and not a ride
on the back of Septembers tragic events.

Please review as I have other plots in the works for Mr Plissken...

Chapter one
Know your enemy

LIBERTY ISLAND SECURITY CONTROL
Snake Plissken pulled on the cigarette until the tip glowed orange. He sneered as he heard the
thin tape hiss and snap as the tip burnt through it. He was gutting the cassette, yanking out
meters of the brown ribbon as he heard music begin to play over the PA. Booming brass and the
upbeat tempo of the 'Bandstand Boogie'.

President Harker wasn't going to get very far with the Chinese and Russians today. Not unless
they were into big band music. But if they were Snake would have guessed that it would put a
crooked smile on Cabby's face as he made his way to the Pearly Gates.
Closely followed by Brain and Maggie...

Snake hissed and threw the cassette to the rain shined concrete. He ignored someone calling
his name and headed for a black-belly sitting on the bonnet of a black jeep, the guy's large
rear end covering the white eagles-head logo of the United States Police Force.

"Plissken! Stop!"

Snake continued to move and felt the guards gaze move to him, the guy's face was hidden behind
a shiny black visor but Snake could tell by body language alone that the guy was wondering what
to do.

Snake stopped at the jeep and heard the man approach him from behind. The black-belly looked at
the second man and his head cocked like a curious dog.

"It's okay, I'll handle this."

The guard slid off the jeep and made himself scarce.

Snake turned and as he glared at Bob Hauk someone turned the music off. Snake heard an
amplified howl as Harker realised what had happened.

"I mean it Snake. We can make a good team, there's all sorts of things a man like me can help
you with."

"How about dropping dead. I got your president out but he's just a selfish now as when he went
in, good people died for that... that..." Snake sneered and turned to get into the jeep.

"I can have you shot off the Island Bridge you know. You won't get past the check-point if I
don't want you to."

Snake had come across the specially built bridge in a bus with handcuffs and bruises, he
planned to leave now via the same bridge, linking Liberty Island and Jersey, without the
restraints but with a damn site more bruises.

"And I said I'd kill you when I got back. People change. I'm a free man, Hauk, you can't kill
me." Snake twisted the keys and jeep roared as he jabbed the accelerator. A column of smoke
filtered into the night as the engine turned over. "God knows many have tried."

"Just think it over. I'll be in touch; hopefully you'll change your mind. You can't be an
outlaw all your life!" Hauk levelled a finger at Snake, the watch set into his broad leather
wristband catching thin strips of overhead sodium light. "You haven't seen the last of me, Snake."

"Is that a promise?"

Hauk nodded, his steel grey eyes glinting from their thin slits.

"Then I guess I'll have my shot at you after all."

Snake shoved the jeep into Drive and left Hauk smelling rubber as he headed for the Liberty
Bridge. Hauk smiled as Snake slammed the jeep into the barrier and took the thing off of its
hinges, he quickly growled into his walkie talkie to keep the guards from firing at the
accelerating 4x4.

"See you soon, Snake." Hauk affectionately tapped a small palm top screen hanging from his belt.
"See you real soon."

5 YEARS LATER...
ATLANTA, GEORGIA

"Swordfish, Werewolf active, over."

Werewolf, Swordfish here. In position." The speaker crackled quietly. "Southern Gent is almost
ready for arrival. Two minutes, over."

Snake checked his watch: 23:01.

He zeroed the counter and watched the first few seconds roll up. He took a breath, focusing
past the smell of garbage and detritus that the truck stank of. He made a mental and physical
check of everything he would need and stroked the accelerator with this foot. The large engine
rumbled like a contented grizzly bear.

Taking down any place was risky, but with the right men and the right plan anything was possible.
He'd learnt that lesson over and over again since basic training. Gunnery Sergeants to Field
Instructors had bellowed and screamed the same hard lessons at him and at some point they had
stuck.

Stuck very well.

After enrolling into the US Armed Forces at 17 and subsequently being accepted into the Special
Forces at an almost accelerated rate at 19, he had found that these lessons did not only just
stick, they made sense and he could even see new options where no-one else could. Suicidal or
reckless they might have been but he had sure made his mark with theses suggestions and actions.
Problem taken + problem analysed = Plan of action.

So the problem of how to rob the HQ of MacroMedia had fit nicely into his formula and had had a
satisfying result. Plus he was getting paid a million plus for the bio-chips he had been
employed to steal.

23:03

His watched beeped and 120 seconds were up, he gunned the engine hard and surged from the alley
and onto the road. The Atlanta State curfew for civilians and vehicles was 22:00 but this
didn't worry him, by the time the truck reached the security barrier there would be no stopping
it and even if the guards managed to shoot out the tyres or even stop the engine, Snake wouldn't
be anywhere near the thing to worry. He planned on leaving the truck on the straight before the
guard post.

"Swordfish?" Snake said "Werewolf on course, await my signal, over."

Snake fishtailed the huge truck around a corner, ignoring the red stoplight and grabbed a long
pole from the passenger seat. He placed the rubber foot on the accelerator and jammed the top
of it into the headrest behind him. He continued to steer as there was a further mile and a
half to go and he didn't want anything to screw up this close to the prize.

"Swordfish, come back, over."

Snake checked the walkie talkie, the 'active' light gleaming brightly in the dark cab. Swordfish
was the call sign for Snake's accomplices; Alamo Jack Jones and Chop Shop Milligan and they
should have radioed back an acknowledgement by now.

"Jack! Jack, are you there? Godamnit, Milligan answer me!"

The garbage truck had less that a mile to go and was travelling at seventy-five miles per hour
when three things happened at once.

"The guys are a little busy at the moment, Snake. Perhaps I can pass a message on?" Hauk's voice
seemed to fill the cabin, drowning out the roaring big block engine, Snakes guts turned to stone
and his eye bitched like a viper as a glistening black helicopter gunship seemed to drop from
out of nowhere and laser targeting dots clouded the windshield. The white eagles-head logo
across the nose armour seemed to taunt him further.

The third detail slid into place as Snake wrenched the pole from the foot well and jammed on
the brakes - he was screwed!

The truck shuddered and slid along the road sending horrific shrieks and smoke into the cool
night air. The helicopter backed away as the truck came towards it, a calm pilot keeping the
gunship level and at the same distance as he watched the truck slow down.

Snake jerked the large wheel and turned the truck 180degrees, before flooring the gas again.
A second helicopter appeared from above directly in front of him and began peppering the road
with machine-gun rounds.

"If it's chicken he wants!" Snake slammed down a gear and began to run straight at the hovering
chopper. It stood between him and his escape route and there was nothing that could do that in
Snake's book. No matter how many chain-guns it had.

A half-mile was eaten away in no time and it soon came down to hundreds of meters as the two
vehicles looked set to hit. Neither gave a centimetre, the choppers shadow pooled steadily
below it and the garbage trucks engine roaring like the grizzly was now enraged.

Snake glanced at the speedo and made a swift calculation. By the time he looked up the chopper
had opened fire again.

He grabbed the pole rammed it home and grabbed for the door.

Bullets tore into the engine and smashed the windshield into spider webs. The front tires
exploded in a violent cloud of smoke and sparks as the rims dug channels in the tarmac.

The pilot was too busy enjoying himself to realise the collision course was still in operation.
Snake hit the tarmac and felt all the air in his body leave, a rib or two threatened to snap
and his elbows were only saved from being stripped back to the bone by his trusted brown leather
biker's jacket.

He didn't feel it but he was lucky he was on the deck when the two vehicles collided.
A furious cloud of metal boiled on the street as inertia and destructive deceleration tore the
two transports apart. The rotor assembly from the chopper fragmented like peanut brittle and
sent slicing shards of carbon fibre shivering through the air. A machine gun continued to fire
and struck the fuel tank in the garbage truck, in turn this explosion caused the choppers fuel
cell to explode: sending more pieces of metal and unfortunate gunship crew members through the
air.

Snake got to his feet as hot shrapnel floated down on the Atlanta street. The place was
beginning to look like Leningrad all over again.

A squad of black bellies approached with all the stealth of a herd of buffaloes and Snake
managed to get a few good hard rights in before he was clubbed to the ground.

Sucks to be me, he thought.

NINETY MINUTES LATER

Snake awoke with a start and water dripping from his face and hair. He licked at his lips as
the freezing water ran down his face.

"Next time use a glass." He hissed at the faceless black belly holding a plastic bucket. He went
to move and found his hands were tied to the chair he was in. He looked around and saw the
curved metal ceiling and ranked seats, a gentle hum ran through his bones. He had been on
enough transport planes in his time to know they were airborne. "This sure ain't the friendly
skies."

"Good to see you again, Snake" Hauk came from the cargo hold behind him dressed in a dark flight
suit and took a seat opposite. "Still got that unknowing charm I see."

Hauk dismissed the guard with a nod and glanced at his watch. It was still set in the wide
leather band but the leather looked dry and worn. Older. Hauk pretty much mirrored the leather.
Snake studied Hauk's face and overlaid the face from...he paused...whoa! Five years ago.

"You look old, Hauk. New York still giving you ulcers?"

"That and the new place they're setting up. They put me in charge of that one too. Since the
capital was moved to Lynchburg and that damned fool Directive 17 was passed even New York's
getting crowded."

"Just let everyone out. What harm can it do?"

"Very funny, Snake."

"The name's Plissken. I told you before." Snake twisted in his chair and moved his fingers.
Slowly the feeling was returning. A good sign for him, the guy who had tied him up hadn't been
a boy scout. He glanced down and saw thin plastic static ties around his flesh and around the
seat. Oh great, the inescapable kind. "What do you want? I'm a free man remember, full pardon
and all that bullshit. Harker put a death warrant out but that only lasted as long as he did.
After he got his ass impeached this new guy in charge revoked all of Harker's past orders."

"That he did. You know you're right!" Hauk touched his chin thoughtfully. "You know I'm real
sorry about all this, Snake. I'll have to let you go!" Hauk leant forwards and slit the plastic
with a switchblade. "You're free to go," Hauk stared earnestly into Plissken's ice blue eye,"
if you think you can grow some wings before you hit the ground!"

Snake drove himself forwards and into Hauk, his hands clamped around the older mans throat like
twin vices. Hauk's eyes bulged and he kicked against Snake as he struggled for air.

"Just like old times, eh Bob!" Snake was about to crush the mans throat when the red rage
glazing his eye cleared. He didn't know why but the helpless look on Hauk's face and his tired
demeanour made Snake believe that he would be doing him a favour by killing him. Hauk's
ever-present pearl handled pistol hadn't even left its holster. He hadn't even reached for it.
"You owe me money, you just screwed up my contract." Snake let go and sank back into the seat
as Bob gasped for breath. Snake noticed the guy had lost even more hair as well.

" You're too old, Hauk. Where's the fun in killing a man who wants to be dead?"

Hauk coughed, his long fingers stroking his throat massaging the pain away.

"How did you find me anyway? I wiped that CODIS main frame last year."

"The Convicted Offender Index? That was you? You fucking idiot! Every perp ever DNA tested was
in that thing. You've sent law enforcement back to the Stone Age! Godamnit if I'd known that I
would have let the choppers open fire sooner!"

"So who ratted me out? How'd you find me?"

"Who ratted you out?" Hauk laughed dryly. "You did Snake. You did."

Snake's expression turned real fast. Pissed off to REALLY pissed off.

Hauk studied the man in front of him for a second before continuing. The same jacket, the entire
same wardrobe, it was almost as if New York had only just happened. But try as he might, Hauk
couldn't wish those horrid following years away.

"Those capsules we put in you, the explosives, you remember them right?"

Snake stroked the pulse points in his neck and growled. A low noise meant as a warning of things
to come for reasons past.

"You burnt them out. At the wall."

"Only one. And only the explosive capsule. Why bother putting in two explosives when one would
do the job just as well? The other injection was a new GPS micro- tracker. I don't know which
side it was put in so if you want to remove it you'll have to dig around in both your arteries."

"I fucking hate you, man."

"The feeling isn't mutual, Plissken. I like you, like your style. Always have, ever since Texas
Thunder gave your guys cover in Leningrad. That's why I thought of you when I was asked to
cover this job. So I called my guy at the NSA and got your tracker traced." Hauk brought out
the small palm screen and patted it like a favoured pet. A tiny yellow light was centred on the
green LCD display. "And what a naughty boy you were about to be!"

"Why couldn't you have found me in Nevada!" Snake said wearily before he focused on another
detail. "Where are Alamo and Chop Shop?"

Snake looked around the cabin and suddenly saw something. He got up and opened a cooler box
strapped across two seats. He opened it and found bottles of water and fresh fruit. He helped
himself and sat back down.

"Jack Jones and Chris Milligan are now on their way to New York. They'll be processed and
inside by tonight."

Snake spat water across the cabin.

"What!" he leapt for Hauk again, he didn't give a shit this time. The old man was not going to
get a second older!

Hauk held up a hand and frantically spoke.

"But they'll not get to Liberty Island if you help me! I'll have them released and lose the
papers if you do this job for me."

"Promises, promises. I'm sick and tired of your promises, Hauk."

"Then I guess they go to prison. And you'll follow them for attempted robbery."

Snake hissed and poured more water into his mouth. He had to get the taste of all this bullshit
out of his mouth somehow!

"What is it this time?"

"I'm glad you asked."

Chapter two
Stop the world

"You like history, Snake?" Hauk asked as he bit into a red apple as big as a fist.

"Seen too much of it and can't remember the other stuff. So no, I don't like history."

"Shame. You see, when you study it the big pictures are always so obvious that they seem to have
been there all the time. It's amazing what a bit of hindsight can do."

"I bet Nixon would have liked to have known that." Snake finished the water and threw the
plastic bottle across the plane. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

"You remember the eighties? How the fuel riots were getting worse and the crime rate went up by
four hundred percent? You ever wonder how it shot up so high? I mean that's a huge leap; this
was not just an extra mugging or a bank robbery or two. This was serious numbers. Mean seasons,
Snake. It was hell out there."

"I remember. I was on riot duty in '89."

"You remember who was president?"

"Should I?" Snake said wearily. If he'd wanted to chat why hadn't Hauk picked up a phone or
something? Gone to see a shrink even.

"It doesn't matter. But do you remember his cabinet? I doubt it. But I'll tell you one man in
it - Leon Harker."

Snake sat up. The podgy little worm got everywhere!

"And he was in charge of national security. The little sleaze was scamming the public even then.
So when the war efforts began to take more and more of the money, his budgets shrunk. This
wasn't good for him, where was he going to skim all his money from? The greedy little spud was
lining his pockets along with seven other officials and living the high life in a secure
enclave.

"But bigger budget cuts were announced and Harker couldn't have this. His wages were being cut
and he didn't like it. So he decided to get his money back. Force the issue, put the focus back
into America. He put together a team of men and let them wreak havoc across the country. The
crime rate soared once he got together with the statistics guys and the budget was proved to be
too low to keep the country safe. The president gave it a boost but it wasn't good enough so
Harker's Outfit upped the pace. Took out politicians, held shopping malls hostage, robbed banks,
wholesale terrorism you name it they did it. They were the one's who blew up the first White
House."

A crooked smile pulled at Snake's face.

"I laughed my ass off that day!"

"It all went on until Harker said stop." Hauk continued. "Until his budget was so over inflated
that he didn't know what to do with the money. Naturally he explained that the money had gone
on resources and this had curbed the crime rate. He even came up with the idea and budget
forecast to build a wall around New York. He was going to buy the island for himself and his
cronies but someone suggested making it a prison for all these mad criminals crowding the jails.
Harker's men had arrested all the loons and criminals as 'suspects' and conspirators, so he
shot himself in the foot with that part."

"Nice story, Bob, but if you get within spitting distance of a freaking point will you make
it!"

"The Outift, Snake. What happened to The Outfit? You think they just disappeared; drifted off
saying 'Good job guys! See you around!'. These guys were black ops guys, Special Forces, all
the bad seeds from those areas. He even had cops on the pay roll."

"Who'd of thought, a crooked cop." Snake had a sense of irony verging on glacial.

"They're still out there and they're coming back. The NSA has been intercepting encrypted
signals for the past year and they're starting to make everyone itchy. The messages are cold
and downright evil. They're restocking the armoury and bringing back the old hands. Regrouping
and getting ready for the next offensive."

"What are they gonna do, hold Happyland for ransom?"

"Oh no. They're getting ready for something bigger."

"Open Roswell to the public? Wipe out Canada?"

"Texas. For starters. Viral warfare."

"I hate Texas." Cigarette smoke oozed from between his lips as he spoke.

"This isn't funny, Snake. This is only their initial strike. A proving ground before they take
state after state."

"When's all this supposed to happen. I got time to buy popcorn?"

"As far as we can tell they'll be ready to start in four days time."

"Gives me a free weekend." Snake stretched his legs and glanced at Hauk. His face was red and
the veins in his neck stood proud. "What's my part?"

"A surgical assassination. Take out the head and any many major organs along the way."
"So you know who and where then?"

"Only where, they only refer to each other by codenames."

"So if you know where why not air strike the place?"

"NSA doesn't know if the viral agent is there and an air strike could release the agent, some
of these new bugs are even thermite resistant. And even if it's not there it could prompt a
remote release."

Snake brushed his chin with his hand, feeling stiff bristle and found his age-old formula
coming into action.

Problem+ analysis = plan.

"How many in my team?"

"One."

Okay, that's pretty much what I expected.

"When?"

"As soon as we land you'll be given your gear."

Two for two!

"Okay, last question and this is where the fun really starts, where am I going?"

"The Pentagon."

Snake's eye squinted and he studied Hauk for an awkwardly long time.

"Didn't that get blown up too?"

"Not all of it. Classic miss-direction, who'd suspect they'd bomb their own base. The place has
supposedly been abandoned and scheduled for demolition ever since. Hasn't happened though,
strangely enough."

"One day you're going to tell me how you know all this!"

FORMER WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT
WASHINGTON D.M.Z.

From capitol city to murder capital of the world to a total war-zone in less than two hundred
years, Snake was impressed.

After Y2K and the Big Cahoona that tore LA off the rest of America, Washington had been
relegated to a has-been capitol after the new Prez moved the whole shop to his hometown of
Lynchburg, Virginia.

Pretty soon after that the trouble really started. The police force was busy restructuring,
strengthening the public face of the USPF, and the old city was left to its own devices.
A fierce unit of Nam vets and their loyal families took over everything running between
Constitution and Independence Avenues, defending the memorials and historic buildings within
this area.

Another group seized Theodore Roosevelt Island and declared it an independent republic and now
lived and in-bred in reclaimed truck trailers around the memorial.

Some mega-bucks entrepreneur bought the entire North Side for peanuts and had set up a new
enclosed city, but the rest of the city had suffered at the hands of neglect.

By 2001 the President had seen the problems with the former capitol and used his invariably
well-balanced judgement and declared the area a disaster area.

Washington DMZ was born and marked as such on every map available, by government order.

It was New York without the walls as far as Snake could tell as the cargo transport came in to
land. The airport was in darkness and if there was a pane of glass left in the once dramatic
structure it was hidden to him.

New York without the walls...yeah...without the advanced urban decay, or the cannibals. Or the
crazies. Or crashed jet planes.

The plane touched down and the brakes brought the plane to a rapid halt. The tyres struck
several objects as it made its way along the airstrip so Snake made a well educated guess that
the airport wasn't used that much anymore.

"Let's go," Hauk said as he unbuckled his seat belt.

Snake eased himself up and took time to snag a big apple from the cooler box. He followed Hauk
to the rear compartment of the vast aircraft and blinked, as Hauk turned on the lights in the
dim cavern.

Snake could smell oil and grease and gunpowder but all he saw was a black blur.

His vision cleared and Snake gave Hauk a sideways glance.

"How'd you know it was my birthday?" he said and ran his hand along the flank of the black

Hum-Vee taking up most of the compartment. It seemed to squat on its wide haunches like a
primed pit-bull and when the rear ramp started to lower Snake expected the beast to take off on
its own.

The wheel hubs, running boards, windows and even the headlamp lenses were black and a stylised
heart shape only stood out as a yellow circle was painted around it.

"This is The Blackheart. Your choice of vehicle for today. You can have any colour you like as
long as it's black."

"Black's fine." Snake ducked down, trying to see into the vehicle and pulled the drivers door
open when all he saw was his reflection in the glass.

"Bullet-proof, Nomex threaded glass, twin forward mounted M-60s, a rear mini-gun and..." Hauk
paused as Snake began going through the contents for himself. "I daresay you'll figure out the
rest from the manual."

Snake finished his check and sat in the drivers seat, a long-slide Desert Eagle in his
dangerous hands. It was black.

"I can't find the CD player." Snake hissed and slid the Desert Eagle into a nylon breakaway
rig he had also found.

"As soon as you leave the plane your GPS should kick in. You can't get lost, the Pentagons
only a few miles from here but the roads aren't as accessible as they used to be. There were
originally 21 bridges and overpasses built to access the building but there are only five or
six left standing now. I daresay they'll be guarded -"

"Or mined!" Snake interrupted, remembering Cabby's demise and Brains attempt to enter orbit.

"So be careful. The paint job's stealth and the night scope will negate the need for headlights,
unless you want to announce yourself that is. You have four hours until dawn so use that time
effectively. I'll be able to keep in contact with the headset." Snake pulled on a wireless
headset and settled the stem mike next to his mouth. "But we should try to keep radio chatter
down to a minimum. These guys know as much about surveillance as we do."

"Quit the jawing you mean?" Snake said, pushed the start button and saw a thin strip of light
read his thumbprint. The engine sprang to life, well maintained pistons and camshafts sliding
smoothly in their chambers and Snake slammed the door shut and jammed the stick shift into first.
"Suits me fine."

Hauk couldn't avoid the feeling of déjà vu as Snake left him with the smell of burning rubber
in his nostrils and the view of a disappearing 4x4.

Chapter three
The fifth wall

THE PENTAGON, NORTHERN SECTION

Bergstrom strode along the corridor deep in thought. He had long since disposed of his former
rank but the others still regarded him as their leader. That's what the past did for you. Being
a former Special Forces Lt. Colonel was nothing but a past job for him, but a point of
deference to most of the others.

Bergstrom just knew it stank. Orders, orders and more orders. That was all the service came
down to in the end. And if you weren't receiving them you were dishing them out. Scores of men
and women waiting like attack dogs for the go command, waiting for some omnipotent owner to
tell them what to do.

And waving the biggest stick, offering the juiciest enticements were the elite sections ;
Special Forces, SEALs, Top Gun Command, where you not only pushed your body to a higher grade
of punishment but sold your soul to the Government.

And for what?

Bergstrom's long stride quickened as his thoughts turned to sour missions and bitter
de-briefings. His broad, lined forehead creased and his long dark grey hair seemed to bristle
with angry energy. A sharp canine was exposed as he sneered. Anyone seeing Bergstrom then would
have seen something akin to a werewolf striding along the scraped concrete.

Bad dog! Missed the package, stole a cookie! Get to your kennel and stay there!

He had reached his tethers end during the '80-'84 conflict in Vietnam. The once green and
pleasant jewel in the South East Asian territories had been ripped apart with carpet bombings
and murderous human assaults when the US and Asia had argued over sovereignty and oil rights.
Bergstrom had only been a boy when the US had taken South Vietnam as a protected state in 1966,
and only remembered the street parties and smiling face of LBJ from the TV. Constant
accusations of punishing occupation and the perversion of the Vietnamese into pseudo-American
citizens had always been a knife point between the US's ribs and all US troops and governors
had withdrawn from South Vietnam in 1979.

In a glittering media event The President himself had handed the newly elected SouthNam Prime
Minister an oversized prop key and boarded the last C-130 out of the country.

A year later oil was struck on the SouthNam- North Vietnam border. The rest was history. Ugly,
greedy, dirty, inhumane history.

Black ops he may have been but it hadn't stopped him from questioning how far into the darkness
he would let himself go. Bitter and disturbed by some of his own actions he had left Special
Forces Unit 'Dark Shores', but only after murder and an inconclusive investigation. He knew how
to cover his own tracks, they had taught him how and suffered as a result.

And then Harker had found him.

And then The Dollar Dragons had been formed.

Top Dog he may be now, but he still knew he was at someone else's beck and call. But this time
it wasn't so bad - he got back a shitload of money to keep him from caring and that was the
trick that the Army had missed!

He pushed the wide wooden door and glanced up at one of the thousands of clocks that seemed to
line The Pentagons wall like an infestation of limpets. They had all stopped long ago, but he
always smiled when he looked at them. A time and date frozen in place, a time and date he
remembered well.

A time and date when he had pushed one button, destroyed an entire five storey section of The
Pentagon and taken control of The Dollar Dragons.

"Berg'!" a taught voice brought him abruptly out of his thoughts.

He glanced at Setanta, a man of such mixed heritage that he had proclaimed himself the first of
a new race. The mans dark eyes were hidden by a HUD unit plugged into the security net server.
How Setanta identified people by their footsteps Bergstrom would never know. The man himself
couldn't even walk - having no legs below mid-thigh thanks to a enthusiastic interrogation-
torture session in Siberia.

The coms room was dark and crowded. Green light and humming computers were the only things you
could see or hear. That and the occasional machine-gun noise of Setanta tapping at one of his
many keyboards.

"Is there a problem?"

" We have movement on Arlington Ridge Road."

"Is it The'Vets again?"

"No, this is a single vehicle, but none of the LIDARs can pick it up. I only knew about it when
it took out the barricade on the slipway. A cam-grab got a picture of it." Setanta played with
a track-ball and tapped the mouse button. Every movement was precise and quick.

"Then how do you know where it is now?"

"I split off the feeds and filtered the ambients. Picked up a passive GPS signal. I'm not sure
if it's in the vehicle or part of the passengers equipment."

"How many people?" Bergstrom studied a monitor near Setanta. It was a less complicated version
of the view in Setanta's HUD unit. A tiny blue dot blinked as it travelled along the old road
and towards The Pentagon.

"I can't really tell. Weight sensors in the slipway gave a weight but that could be due to
equipment, extra armour, anything."

"What sort of vehicle is it?"

"Hum-Vee, the cam-grab got us that much."

Bergstrom brushed the skin below his jaw, a habit of his when in thought.

"So it's an armoured, stealth-capable Hum-Vee with at least one man in it?"

"Yes, sir." Setanta said brightly.

" Seems a little high-tech for the locals, don't you think? Get the Dragons together. Patch a
feed through to the briefing room and keep me updated. If this guy drives past we'll leave him
be, but if he seems to be getting close we'll just have to stage a little carjacking."

Bergstrom took a small earpiece and stem mike set from an equipment store and hung it over his
ear. He pushed a tiny button and its wireless receivers instantly hooked him up to Setanta's
com-net.

"Keep in touch." Bergstrom said and he left the crowded room at a swift pace.

Someone had set a dog on him, it seemed, and Bergstrom knew exactly how to deal with dogs.
He'd been a Rotweiller for most of his life.

Snake racked the stick shift down a gear and felt Blackheart surge forwards as the torque bit.
The barricade exploded around the car, scattering wood and thick lumps of bricks and mortar
over the bodywork and back onto the pock marked road surface. It was the third barricade he had
taken out and he was beginning to be reassured that Hauk hadn't given him some budget 4x4. The
Blackheart was fast, tough, equipped to the hilt and had a damn fine set of machine guns on
either wing. A gang of road raiders had found this out after tailing and attacking Snake not
four miles from the old airport.

As a result of this Snake had had to pause a thoroughly mundane and tedious briefing working
through the GPS screens set into the dash.

The chip voice reminded him of Maggie but the plain monotone had soon taken that image away,
Maggie's voice had been smoke and bourbon, this voice was cold baths and flat soda.

The last scrap of timber was brushed off the windscreen by the wipers and Snake glanced at the
dash to find the resume button for his briefing. He was loathed to do it but the adage of
forewarned was forearmed was not one discovered lightly. The green night-vision goggles made
everything the same colour and the light from the GPS LCD screen was a bright blur in the
cockpits skeleton of shadows.

"...with caution!" Not-Maggie continued. The briefing about possible road gangs and scavengers
was a pretty moot point now so Snake was ready to fast-forward the next point if she started
talking about barricades and big holes in the freeways.

"Originally built in 1943 at a cost of $83,000,000 The Pentagon was the governments central..."
Snake hit the skip button.

"This is worse than 'Khrushchev Sings The Blues'."

"The entire south-western section was destroyed by an air/fuel bomb in 1990 and the offenders
were never conclusively identified. It is only due to new information that the actions have
been attributed to the terrorist unit assembled by Leon Harker. Originally all points within
the Pentagon could be reached within seven minutes but this can no longer be agreed. As this is
now a base of operations for the un-named unit it can only be surmised that it will be
protected and thoroughly rebuilt.

"A classified sub-surface level had previously been used to store sensitive records and
material but entry to this level was curtailed due to the demolition of the section and it's
collapse onto the only entrance. If entry to this level has been achieved destruction of all
sensitive documents and items has been approved."

"Extra homework, eh Hauk!" Snake murmured and steered the large truck past a hole stretching
across two lanes of the freeway. Smoke poured from the hole as if a hellish foundry was in use
deep below the surface.

"The post-bombing structure and layout of the building has been uploaded into this screen for
your possible reference."

A green pentagon shone brightly on the screen and thinner lines spread from the diagram listing
areas of interest. Snake had always wanted to know where the sewerage plant was. A dark bar
highlighted one wall and shrank back to nothing. No digitally created explosions or rubble, it
just erased an entire wall leaving a crooked C-shaped building on the screen.

A small green box in the corner of the display caught his eye and he jabbed the screen to see
what it did. The map disappeared and was replaced by a tracery of words set into a linked table.

Snake knew a chain-of-command tree when he saw one, but usually there were names in the boxes.
All he could see were a few words and lots of question marks. He decided he would look at it
later, if he got the chance. It wasn't important who was who, anyone he met in The Pentagon
shouldn't have been there so the solution was an easy one.

You must be a bad guy! So you must be a dead guy!

A ruined sign, beaten by age and bad weather, informed him that he was now on Washington
Boulevard so Snake stopped the Hummer to get his bearings. He touched the GPS screen and got a
detailed aerial view of The Pentagon. Passable tributary roads and overpasses leading to the
building were highlighted; the remainder had been covered with tiny crosses designating them
impassable or destroyed. Snake studied a route leading from an intersection with Washington and
Jefferson, it had been covered in tiny crosses but Snake could always see options where none
seemed possible - just thinking about New York proved it. His finger traced a passage back from
the huge parking area to a specially built off ramp. He tapped the screen just below the joint
of the roads and smiled.

He was in a 4x4 it was about time that the thing got off road.

Gears meshed and Snake took off in a new direction.

"Plissken?" Hauk's voice was tiny amongst the engine and road noise.

Snake cursed under his breath.

"What!"

"Where are you?"

"The drive-through, where do you think!"

"NSA have just contacted us with a new development. I thought you should know."

Snake was all ears and shook his head as Hauk continued. He knew what he was doing, what
possible detail could change or even improve the operation?

"They had a lucky break, one of the men they suspected of being in The Outfit was involved in
an accident." Hauk paused and Snake guessed that the 'accident' had probably been anything but.
"He had a disc on him and they've managed to decrypt it. Amongst other things it has a complete
list of operatives and call signs. The unit name is also included."

"How about the seven men Harker set up the party with?" Snake asked.

"No, they're not included. The unit call themselves 'The Dollar Dragons', something about being
'paid for chaos'. At the last count there were fifty men in the unit and at least thirty are
still active and possibly all of them are at The Pentagon by now."

"The op's due to take place in four days so I'd expect a large part of the strike-force to be
running rehearsals by now" Snake said. "Special Forces teams will have two or three squads with
different options in case plan A goes south."

"Thanks for the refresher, Plissken. I always wondered how we used to do things! We have a list
of the names, I'll send it to the GPS," Hauk paused, "take a look at it Snake see if you know
anyone. Over and out."

Snake grunted a reply and saw a thin line dash across the bottom of the GPS screen.

Download complete, Snake tabbed the new information onto the screen and tried to scan the names
as he drove.

He came to the embankment he had spotted on the map and pulled up to the intact crash barrier,
a steep gradient lead down and into a thin wooded area and then onto The Pentagon's acres of
parking space. The building only took up a fraction of the 29 acres the complex covered. Lots
of open ground, lots of territory to cover, but lots of space to move in and Snake hadn't
earned his nickname for having a forked tongue.

"Let's take a look-see at the score card." Snake took Blackheart out of gear and scanned the
list. The list was in two columns; a call sign followed by a surname and an initial and as
Snake scrolled down not one brought back any memories. He'd known a Burton once, but it hadn't
been H. Some of the call signs were close to old ones he'd heard, but generally the lexicon of
nicknames and call signs were limited to violent weather or predatory animals. Not a wide scope.

Cougar - Arden L.
Storm Front - Baylor V.
Doc Oc - Setanta A.

None of these names meant anything to him.

He was up to the twentieth man when the green lettering struck not only a chord but the whole
damn piano.

Bergrstrom P., Snake closed his eye for a second hoping the name would go away but it didn't.
The guy was still using his old call sign - 'The Missile'. Mad, bad and dangerous to know as
the phrase went, and Snake knew only too well why it went that way for Bergstrom.

One out of thirty, I suppose the odds were pretty much set for that. Snake continued reading
and came to twenty-nine.

He stopped dead and scrolled quickly back to the top of the list. A log on number had been
generated but the information itself still had a creation date within that number. Snake
extracted the date and came to an immediate conclusion. The info was days old. Hauk had had the
list all along and waited until Snake was past the point of no return before passing it on.
Snake ran back down the list and studied twenty-nine again. Yet again affection for a codename
had lead the ex-soldier to keep it. And Snake knew that the guy was as ex a soldier as you
could get. Like Missile Bergstrom this guy hated the rules and elitist posture held by
governments with a vengeance.

'GatorX. Why did he have to be here!

Snake slammed his fist into the LCD screen and watched the swirl of crushed glass and dark
liquid as he lit a cigarette and pulled long and hard on it. Smoke hung around his head as he
thought things out; a myriad of plans, possibilities and the reprisals that would be meted out
on him if he just turned around now and shoved The Blackheart up Hauk's ass.

The cigarette was ash and filter before Snake knew it and he stubbed the butt out on the sole
of his boot. The smoke coated his throat and filled his nostrils; turmoil given scent.

He stamped his foot and cursed fluidly for a few seconds.

The engine roared again and Blackheart ran over the crash barrier as if it wasn't there. The
Hum-Vee's large tyres and vast weight crushing the aged support posts flat. Blackheart
disappeared down the rough embankment, swallowed by shadows, as dawn began to make its first
marks on the Washington skyline.

Chapter four
Enter the dragons

Snake pulled the night goggles off and scanned the vast plateau of concrete before him. A car
park big enough for 23,000 employees to have a space each. A desert of tarmac and gravel.

When the big day had come and the bomb had gone off it was obvious that either some didn't make
it out or had left their cars and fled via other means. There were close to a hundred cars
scattered across the parking area, but in a space that large they were hardly crowding each
other.

Dawn smudged the night with dull colour and the first rays of daylight crept over the Pentagon.
Snake looked through binoculars at the ruined building and whistled a low note. He would not
have liked to have been here on that day!

One entire side had collapsed leaving two ramshackle ramps of twisted reinforcing rods and
boulders of pale rubble. A hailstorm of smaller pieces of the building had settled across the
car park and demonstrated the obvious force of the explosion, tiny black specks that had once
been cars lay on their backs like dead insects.

A perimeter chain link fence stood little chance against the Blackheart and links pinged as
they strained and parted under the big truck's weight.

This was where Snake knew first contact would be a possibility.

Setanta / Doc Oc sat up and tapped a computer key. New information flooded across his goggles.
"Missile!" he said the stem mike immediately activated.

"Go ahead."

"Movement. North-east fence. Section four. It's our guy."

"He cut the wire?"

"I think he just drove through it! All the tremblers for a hundred metres are screaming at me!"
Setanta tapped keys furiously trying to de-activate the multitude of alarms.

"Keep me posted, I'm at the briefing room now!"

Bergstrom dashed into the room and was relieved to see almost everyone waiting. After a quick
head count he knew who was missing.

"Where's Smoke, Gator and Ghost?"

Baylor, a black former SEAL with hands seemingly too slender for the rest of his powerful body,
stood up as he addressed Bergstrom.

"Smoke and Gator are tieing down the chopper and Miss Ghost is somewhere on the roof finishing
a hide " he said.

"Okay, I'll get them later," Missile studied the twenty men before him and took a breath. Each
man was decked out in his own version of fatigues, personal takes on what they thought was best.

Some wore body armour whilst others refused, some wore army boots whilst a few favoured longer
affairs, strips of metal covering their shins. Weapon rigs were a common denominator but the
configurations were all different. "We have an intruder in north-east sector four. He's in a
black-ops Hum-vee and is not your usual tourist. I want a two-squad pincer, Cougar and Storm
Front will lead. I want this guy alive if possible, you can't get info from a corpse despite
what Coffin says!"

Everyone laughed and a few glanced at the thin albino hidden in the shadows of the room. His
stove pipe hat shook from side to side as he took his part in the joke.

"That was one mistake and you never let me forget it do ya'?"

"If you get it right no one remembers, but if you get it wrong..."

Everyone finished the credo-

"No one forgets!"

"Kick this guys ass but bring him back in. Dump his truck as well, we don't need one of those
antiques in our garage."

The men split into groups as quickly as they could file out of the door, Cougar barking orders
at his group in his harsh Cajun accent. Storm Front guided his men through the corridor spewing
orders over his shoulder, he emphasised each point by smacking his false claw hand into the
palm of his remaining real hand.

Missile heard several new head-sets click into the network and the sound of revving engines
filled his ears, roars of excitement could sometimes be heard above the noise, eager for blood
or combat.

The team leaders checked in, giving call signs and microphone tests.

"Get going!" Missile said and began to make his way to the fifth and highest floor. "Miss Ghost,
do you read?" A thin squelch of feedback came back and Missile nodded. "Move to the north-east
observation post, the boys may need a little heavenly assistance." Two crackles came back and
the channel was silent. Now all he had to do was track down Gunsmoke and GatorX. Those two
would kick themselves if they missed a decent fight.

Snake was racing across the car park at sixty, the Blackheart throbbing with seemingly relentless
power. An eager thoroughbred let loose.

Snake dodged wrecks and water buckled potholes as he approached the Pentagon and he was just
remarking to himself that this was too easy when the first headlights appeared from the shadows
hanging over the front of the building.

A vee formation began to slide from the darkness and Snake saw a squad of vehicles coming at
him at speed.

"Why does everyone want to play chicken?" he cursed and brought up the twin M-60 fire control.
A small cross hair appeared in the goggles that were now on daylight setting, freeing all
objects from the sickly layer of green.

The first vehicle was a dune buggy on steroids, a thick framed all-terrain-vehicle stripped
back to bare essentials and turned into a weapons platform. Two men sat above and to either
side of the driver who wore a weird stove pipe hat, each man nestled behind bubbles of Kevlar
and Nomex glass and each mini-gun began spinning a fraction of a second before it started
firing.

Two more vehicles held place behind the buggy, more familiar black pick-ups and the weapons
were set on posts in the flat bed and operated by a gunner in the passenger seat. Mortars were
generally two men weapons but these were fed automatically.

Snake found this out as a line of fire erupted either side of him, sound and fury rocking the
Blackheart on its shocks and sending him sliding sideways into the path of the next rounds. He
span the wheel, hearing mini-gun rounds snap at the armour plate and heard a loud crack before
a rear window imploded covering everything in a hailstorm of safety glass.

More mortars screeched overhead and Snake missed being the centre of a bull's eye by centimetres
as he jerked the wheel hard. A blinding ball of fire swept across the bonnet and chunks of hot
asphalt battered the hood.

Snake hissed as he saw more cars coming at him from the other side, three army jeeps all with
different weapons, like some mad weapons experts research project to see how many different
versions he could make.

They opened fire, a glorious cloud of fire, smoke, tracers and bullets as the Blackheart took
more damage. Chips of metal began to fly and Snake knew the armour was cracking. The windshield
was showing stress fractures and trying to outdrive or out manoeuvre these guys was going to be
a no-go with no bullet-proof glass in front of him. Swiss cheese would look positively intact
in comparison.

But the jeeps were smaller and lighter so Snake aimed for the middle one and let a long burst
flow from the M-60s. He held the aiming cross-hair on the lead jeeps grill and gave a small cry
of triumph as sparks and shards of grill and engine began to whirl through the air. He targeted
the second jeep and aimed for the tyres. A long line of bullets sliced through the toughened
rubber and shook the jeep as they blew out. A spray of sparks span like angry fire flies as the
driver tried to gain control but failed, driving into the side of the third jeep. Snake caught
jeep three with the tough bull bar and saw his speed fall as the jeep cartwheeled over his roof.
More fire reigned down on him as he approached the Pentagon, the mortar trucks and the ATV
chasing him eager for a fight. He dodged an AMC Pacer sunk low on dead tyres and suddenly had a
thought. He switched to rear view for a second and confirmed he was the head of the snake of
cars.

Aiming for a group of two more dumped cars he swept a third along with the front of the
Blackheart. A tremendous grinding filled the air and the small car juddered as it was forced
across the car park sideways.

Snake saw the tail of cars behind him catching up as his speed decreased and he smiled with
contempt. He was meters away from the pair of cars when he slammed on the brakes and jammed
into reverse. The compact continued onwards and slammed into the other cars as Snake began his
reverse journey, the pursuing vehicles swerving wildly to miss him.

He flew past the last one and glanced forwards at the circle of armed vehicles as they braked
and span and drove around the three impacted cars.

Snake braked hard, brought up the cross hairs and fired at the compact, placing the bullets
towards the lower rear.

Here's where my luck checks in or out! Snake thought as bullets tore into the suburban and
non-armour plated vehicle and found cold gasoline.

The three cars left the ground and Snake was shocked at how much fuel must have been left in
the cars to evoke such a furious result. The fireball expanded faster than the cars could move
and the open plan ATV was soaked in fire and strewn with shrapnel. The driver lost the top of
his head and the ammo store cooked off as liquid fire poured through the framework. One gunner
made a brave attempt to leap to safety but was thrown through the air like a frantic sprinter
as the vehicle exploded in a white-hot mushroom cloud. Black smoke soaked through the cloud of
fire and rose into the air like a signal.

Snake saw two cars still moving and aimed for them as he began to move forwards again. The lead
car was limping along like a tired horse and a huge burn mark covered a whole side, its
windshield and door glass was misty and melted.

"First target!" Snake spat and prepared to fire.

The last thing he was expecting was to be rammed on the passenger side and swept along as he
had done with the compact not two minutes ago. A roar of some large engine came from the
smashed side and Snake checked it out. He saw the vast toothed bucket of a huge earthmover,
several of its menacing, thick teeth had bitten through the Blackheart and foul greasy fumes
began to fill the cabin. Snake jammed his foot down hoping to spin the car off of the teeth but
felt the car begin to rise as the digger lifted the heavy Hum-Vee like a toy.

The Blackheart settled awkwardly and began tipping over into the bucket. Snake saw sky through
his window and decided to make a new plan.

Get the fuck out of here!

Chapter five
The art of war

Snake grabbed the Desert Eagle, a powerful Bren Automatic, a hunting knife and jammed a radio
into his thigh pocket, it was the most he could grab as everything began flying around the
cabin. A large container bounced across the rear compartment and smashed open as it landed
heavily. Ammo clips and military issue equipment spilled across the side panels, that were now
the floor of the over turned truck.

The truck lurched and jumped as the earthmover's driver either hit a deep hole or jumped the
hydraulics for kicks. Either way it threw Snake down through the cab, he landed heavily and
felt more detritus settle around the cabin. A low groan came from somewhere in the under
carriage and the dull teeth forced themselves deeper into the vehicle as if trying to tear the
flesh off a fresh carcass.

Snake scrambled up the seats and flung open the heavy door. It fell back on its hinges almost
ripping itself free and Snake leapt into the cold dawn air, riding the side of his once
unbeatable vehicle.

He glanced over the rim of the bucket, trying to see the driver through the perspex, but
keeping his balance and trying to avoid falling under the huge balloon tyres kept diverting
his attentions.

The great mechanical arms began to lower and rise, trying to shake him off and Snake made a
desperate leap for safety as the Blackheart shifted under him and fell further into the buckets
deep maw. Hanging from two of the grimy teeth, Snake pulled his upper body over the rim,
reached under his left arm and took aim at the cab with the Desert Eagle. He fired rapidly into
the glass and saw spider webs spread across the screen almost magically. The great magic of
massive impact trauma!

The huge tractor slowed and a figure cowered low in the cabin and slapped gears and levers at
random. Gouts of black smoke coughed from the exhaust manifold and the engine died. Snake fired
again into the cabin and the figure was either too low to move or too dead to want to.

It was then that the hydraulics hissed loudly and the whole front assembly dropped to the
ground.

Snake rode the side of the Blackheart on the way down but knew the landing was going to be
tough. Enough training at drop school had taught him that and countless mission drops had given
him lessons in how terrain can always fool you.

The bucket rang like a deep bass note bell as it struck the ground and the Blackheart began to
rapidly roll out, Snake had to keep in front or face the option of being Snake Plissken
Pavement Pizza. He pushed hard with his legs, feeling the air beneath him shake as the Hum-Vee
rolled onto its roof and protest at its stranded position. Snake tucked and rolled and came up
on his feet, breathing hard but ready to run or face the next challenge. Sweat stung his eye
and he blinked it away.

A dark, broad car was making its way smoothly across the car park and the bright head lamp
formation made Snake think of the Dukes Cadillac. As it turned out he was close. An open topped
sedan glided towards him and a loud voice rang out across the open space.

"Don't try anything, mister. I'm in a bad enough mood with you as it is." The voice was
dangerous, angry and almost familiar.

Snake took a shooting stance and levelled the powerful automatic at the bright lights. He heard
the familiar voice shout something like 'host' as he began to shoot. He took out two lights
before things turned strange.

His legs turned to lead as he felt something bite him in the neck. His eye refused to work and
faded to black. In a very short time the rest of his body followed it into the darkness.

Missile Bergstrom leapt over the side of the car and onto the dry concrete. He gave a quick
acknowledgement to Miss Ghost via the radio and sauntered over to the fallen man. Light played
across the mans body and Bergstrom frowned as he noticed the eye patch and tough looking face.
Silently he nodded and smiled at a private thought. He knelt down and plucked the tranq dart
from the mans neck and looked back over his shoulder. Ghost was good, she'd hit an artery even
from that distance! He turned back and spoke to the unconscious figure.

"Huh! I'd heard you were dead!"

Hauk was watching the silent journey of Plissken's GPS in the electronics suite of the C-130
when the phone rang.

"Yes?" he paused as someone spoke. "He's at the Pentagon now. No, he doesn't seem to be inside
yet, I'll try to contact him soon."

Hauk nodded and his brow creased into a road map of lines. Deep highways of stress and grief.
"I will...yes, I will...I'll contact you as soon as I know myself. Yes, sir. Goodb-" Hauk
glared at the suddenly dead receiver. "Bastard!"

Storm Front rubbed the forearm that ended with the claw and cursed quietly as he soothed the
burns on his arm with salve.

"He killed Coffin, Jakes, Drop Dead..." Storm winced as a large blister on his elbow ruptured.
The side of his face was red and smudged with ash. Half of his hair was singed back to the
scalp. Storm had been proud of his hair.

"Nine men," Bergstrom said coldly as he studied Snake strapped to a table in a room that looked
as though it had been picked up and shaken. Furniture and cabinets sat at odd angles and
propped each other up like weary survivors. Most of the false ceiling tiles were missing
leaving a grid work of exposed air conditioning and conduits. "Nine men." He said it again as
if it changed things.

Miss Ghost stared at the prone figure like a hunter studying its latest prize. She could well
have been proud of this trophy and secretly was, but didn't show it. He long hair trailed out
in a thick tail from under a baseball cap and her slender Spanish features showed zero emotion
at all times. Perfect sniper material - cold, calm, calculating and very much a loner. If there
was profile to fit she was it with knobs on.

"Snake Plissken, eh?" Gunsmoke Grissom entered the room, his heavy boots thumping across the
floor as he joined the throng itching to see the prize. And to kick the ass of the guy who took
out nine Dollar Dragons without so much as a hello. He grinned through his scruffy beard and
light shone off of his head as he bent to get a closer look. His flight suit jingled as a line
of dog tags hanging from a breast pocket moved. "He don't look nothin' like his picture!"

Storm finished applying a patch to his skin and placed his claw level with Snakes crotch.

"Them there is mine, Snakey-boy!" he growled.

"Hey!" Cougar asked, his Cajun accent changing the word into something almost new. "Has anyone
told Gator?"

"Do you want to do it?" Bergstrom said. " Because I sure as hell don't!"

A sudden explosion of noise coming from the floor above them made them all look up and then at
each other.

"Something tells me he knows." Baylor said rubbing soot from his face.

Chapter six
GatorX

THE PENTAGON, NORTHERN SECTION

Snake felt himself reach towards consciousness but couldn't make his limbs work. Again! he
thought. Sucks to be me!

At least no one was throwing water at him this time. He opened his eye and immediately
regretted the action. A man of about fifty with a complexion created by road rash and acne,
with hair that should have been sponsored by Texaco, was standing over him with his dick out
and relieving himself over Snake's chest.

Snake struggled and growled as the smell of urine began to kick his dull senses back into
overdrive.

"Put that thing away or I'll feed it to you, old man!" he snarled with no effect. Snake then
realised there were more people in the room and he made a quick head count - and injury count-
as he studied the hate filled faces. There were about a dozen men, all brazen and brutal and
obviously ex-service. If it wasn't the haircuts it was the tattoos and thousand yard stares.
Some looked bruised and burnt, the survivors of Snakes self defence and one man clicked a chromed
claw again and again like a mantra. He looked the most pissed off of them all. Snake considered
having half of your hair cooked off of your head was as good a reason as any.

The older looking man finished, cackled, zipped up and jumped down and took his place in the
line up. Snake scanned every face and finally came to Missile Bergstrom. Angry, mean and taller
than Snake by a head.

"Bergstrom. What the hell are you doing leading a bunch of mercenaries? I thought you had more
gumption."

"Pot and kettle situation there don't you think, Snake?" he replied coldly.

"The names Plissken!"

"Spitting venom to the last, eh? You never could see when you were beat! Siberia, Leningrad,
South China the list goes on. But I've got a question to ask you Plissken."

"Got milk?" Snake hissed and strained against his bonds. The cord creaked but didn't budge.
"What turned you into an outlaw?"

"What you got?"

Bergstrom chuckled quietly as the audience regarded him in deadly silence.

"What have I got indeed!" Bergstrom made a point of looking across Snake and to the opposite
side of the room. " I got him."

Snake turned, knowing in his gut who he was about to see, but still feeling ice and acid flood
his veins as he was proved correct.

The man was lean, with a barely concealed structure of solid muscles, a T-shirt clung tightly
across his chest and a gruesome motif was printed on the breast - an alligator chewing on human
body parts. Snake studied the man's eyes and saw cruel intention in every flicker of the mans
eyelids. A flattop haircut helped display the tribal tattoo running down the side of his skull:
a smooth interwoven pattern of black lines running from the temple and down into his shirt. The
man saw Snake studying it.

"Hiya Snake. You ever get that tattoo of yours finished?" His voice was cold and too familiar.
Way too familiar.

"Yeah." Snake held the mans stare for as long as he could. It was looking like a stalemate when
GatorX dropped his gaze and studied the pooling piss around Snake with approval. "You ever
figure out what an asshole you were?"

The eyes came back. Cold and intent: razor blades had less wicked promise.

"No, I must admit I didn't figure that one out." he said. "But it seems my little brother sure
has the same genes."

"Fuck you, Tyler!" Snake spat, still valiantly struggling. He strained against the bonds, his
strength gradually seeping into the ropes and leaving him exhausted. He fell back onto the
table swearing at all and sundry as Bergstrom took a couple of steps closer and shook his head.

"I guess you guys need a little time to catch up, eh? Family reunions and all that." Bergstrom
motioned everyone out with a nod of his head and everyone filed out, still sizing up which
piece of Pissken they were going to pull off, set fire to - the list went on. "Leave some for
the rest of us, Gator." Bergstrom said and jammed Snake's hunting knife into the tabletop close
enough to catch Snakes hair.

"I'll try my best." Gator growled and picked up the knife. Steel glinted in his eyes and he
studied Snake as if deciding where to start cutting.

Finally he made his choice and began.

Chapter seven
Blades

Hauk studied the GPS dot designated 'SP' on the monitor waiting for it to move. So far it had
remained in the same place for well over half an hour and still Plissken was not replying to
radio calls, or even sending any for that matter. Hauk was getting impatient and not a little
concerned. If Snake was dead the GPS would still be active but there would be no foreseeable
way for the mission to continue. If Snake was alive but now in league with the Dollar Dragons
then it would be a recoverable position, but the confirmation of his contact would still be a
factor.

'Come on Snake,' Hauk urged. 'Just call me, call me an asshole and tell me you've joined the
bad guys. Just call in!'

Hauk gave a curt order for the tech to call him the instant anything changed and strode down
the planes open ramp and onto the tarmac. He made his way from the plane and pulled a cigar
from his breast pocket. Clamping it between his teeth he sighed wearily. Snake had been right:
he was feeling his age, probably feeling all together more ancient if the truth be told. He
reached into his flight suit and felt for his switchblade to de-tip the cigar.

He found his lighter but couldn't find the pearl and Kevlar blade.

'Loosing my memory now!' he thought bitterly and bit the end off of the cigar, bitter tobacco
making him grimace as he spat the end onto the tarmac. 'God, when did I get so old?'

"You touch me again I'll k-" Snake hissed and tried to divert the pain as his brother smiled
and prodded Snakes palm with the knife: a steady pressure that forced the keen blade into Snakes
hand. Blood began to fill the wound and Snake felt the hot familiar wetness of a flesh wound.
Non-life threatening but it still hurt like a mother.

"You know, dad said pretty much the same thing. But I guess he didn't keep his promise either."
Gator sneered and ran the blade roughly up Snakes right arm. Snake fully expected to feel his
veins peeled open from wrist to elbow, but Gator was obviously saving the worst for last.

Snake struggled franticly as Gator dug the tip of his knife into the thick bicep and twisted
until Snake finally gasped and roared. His voice was as raw as the curses he filled the air
with and his bonds creaked as his back arched and his body pulled against them. Snake fell back
onto the table breathing hard, sweat stung his eye and he shook it from his face.

Gator hung above him like a grinning vulture with bad, yellow teeth and brandished the shining
blade again letting the wicked, bloody tip hover over Snakes good eye. It was a threat that
needed no explanation and it wasn't the first time Gator had made the gesture.

" You know what you call a blind snake, Snake?" Gator grinned and flipped the knife around in
his hand, a short display that ran light along the blood smudged chrome. " A belt!"

Snake made another desperate struggle as Gator laughed and dropped the knife onto the table
nicking Snakes ear lobe. Snake shook his head and dislodged the knife and heard it clatter to
the floor.

Gator dropped out of sight and Snake felt the large man under the table as he retrieved the
blade. It was all the time Snake needed and his face creased with concentration and effort as
he looked down at his injured hand. He felt the tendons move and the feeling was returning to
all of his fingers for which he was grateful.

"You nearly broke my blade!" Gator was examining the edges of the combat knife as he hung above
Snake again. He looked down the cutting edge for dents or chips and ran a thick finger along
the line to check for smaller faults.

Snake was sweating again but not with fear or pain, Gator saw his brother struggling and smiled.

'What to do, what to do...' he thought. 'So much pain and so little time.'

"You know what they call a gator with no brains?" Snake hissed as he fell back onto the table:
tension and fear suddenly gone from his taut body. Gator turned his head to one side like an
intrigued animal. "A fucking idiot!"

Snake roared and rammed the stolen switchblade into Gators throat. It was slick and covered
with his own blood but he managed to keep hold of it as he jabbed at his brother and then
slashed at his bonds as Gator screamed and held his hands to his throat. Gator found that he
couldn't scream: a raw gargling noise filled his head and any time he tied to call for help he
could only chew air and taste blood. His eyes were wild and wide as Snake stood in front of him
holding a long switchblade seemingly conjured out of nowhere covered in blood and quivering
with intent.

Snake took a deadly step and Gator took two back, panic, pain and desperation galvanised him to
try for the door and he was two steps there when the switchblade flew past his ear, sank into
the wood and quivered.

Gator smiled through the red spittle covering his jaw line and grabbed the weapon.
'Missed!' he tried to say.

He span; one hand holding his ruin of a throat the other holding the promise of Snakes ruin. He
brandished the switchblade and felt his stomach fall as he faced Snake.

Whatever the sound had been Snake translated the noise Gator made clearly enough.

"Oh shit, indeed." Snake turned the combat knife in his palm, brought back his arm and sent the
knife flying faster than the eye could see. "That one's for dad!"

Gator looked down at his chest. Funny, he never remembered putting that knife there...

Snake pulled the knife clear and wiped it on the grubby uniform Gator wore. They were now bloody
funeral clothes and Snake felt a strange emptiness as he searched the body.

'Yeah, it's just a body. Keep telling yourself that. It's not like you've never searched a
corpse before. Just a body.' Snake rolled Gator over and found an automatic, beaten up and
scratched to hell. He checked the magazine and pushed the gun into his waistband. 'Just a body.
Just your brother...'

Snake stood and studied Gator again. He rolled him onto his back with his boot and saw a slack
faced dead guy. Forced himself to see just another corpse in the long litany of his life of
blood and death.

"Son of a bitch!" Snake hissed and spat at the body.

"Don't you move a godamned muscle!" came a loud command.

Snake looked up and into the dark black holes of several weapons. His head had been so full of
rushing blood and anger he hadn't heard the door open.

'This shit is getting so SO old!' he thought with glacial bitterness.

"Get me Missile. I want to see Bergstrom now."

The three Dragons struggled to understand the defiance of a man with three assault rifles in
his face. Each man nervously shuffled and Snake gave each a glance that could stop a weak heart
in its tracks.

"Put your toys down and go and get Bergstrom" he growled "or I'll gut each of you. If I can do
it to him I can sure as hell do it to you!" He saw two of them glance down at Gator, it was what
he'd been waiting for, what he'd reminded them to do: nothing drew the eye more than trauma.

The human mind can be repulsed by it but it can't stop itself from regarding death in its most
naked form.

The one guy looking at him never saw anything move so fast but never lived long enough to share
his thoughts. The bullet hit his forehead and ploughed through whatever lay between the skull
plates exploding out of the other side followed by a mist of blood and brain cells.

The other two were dispatched with equal speed, Snake's finger never releasing the trigger and
never wasting a bullet.

Three more corpses. Three more bodies.

Three mores skulls for Snakes hellish body count.

He ripped the head set from the nearest body and found the frequency chip in the wide over-ear
piece. He re-set the frequency and pulled the set on.

"Hauk, come in" static and a broadcast beacon was his lone reply. "Hauk! Godamn you, come in.
I'm out of here. This was a SNAFU from the get-go, man. Hauk, can you hear me? You lying
bastard, you knew who was here and I'm betting you haven't told me all of it either, Hauk!"
Snake paused; waiting for the old mans cold voice to reply. "Hauk!"

"I'm here!" came the breathless response. "Sit-rep, Plissken"

"Fucked up beyond all recognition. I'm out of here Hauk. Come and get me now or I'll come and
get you and I won't be delivering Christmas cake." Not unless it's made of C-4!

"Have you made contact?"

"You could say that!" Snake said and kicked the foot of the nearest Dollar Dragon.

"Have you confirmed any of the operatives from the list?"

In a BIG way!

"Why? I told you-"

"Have you confirmed any of the listed operatives?" Hauk barked.

Snakes spine tingled and it wasn't from adrenalin.

"What's the big deal here, Hauk? You sent me into a free-fire zone and now you're asking if I
happened to know anyone, what's that all about?"

"Are you-," Hauk stumbled for a second, his mind moving faster than his lips. "Are the Dollar
Dragons there?"

"I'll have to get back to you on that." Snake frowned as he replied. The kinks in this were
just getting more crooked. "Plissken, out."

"Pliss-!" Snake cut off the old man before Hauk fed the flames of doubt anything else.

Hauk told me they would be here. Said the Dollar Dragons had been here almost a year. Said that
this had been their base since they blew it up. So why does Hauk need me to tell him who's here?
What did he say? 'Can I confirm any of the operatives'? Who's he looking for? He should have
been asking if I'd found the viral agent, not the soldiers...

The virus...why didn't he ask about that?

Snake loaded himself with as many of the weapons he could carry; two leg holsters held a
Detonics automatic and a .44 Magnum, an M16 was slung over his shoulder and an M61 Stoner
filled his hands after he had applied a field dressing to his slashed palm. He filled his
recovered jacket with ammo clips.

It was time to get to the bottom of this and if he couldn't get there he'd shoot his way to it
trying.

Chapter eight
Locked and loaded

Missile Bergstrom was pissed off in a more than royal way. This was royale with ALL the trimmings
pissed off! Setanta / Doc Oc was telling him things via his ear piece that set off all the
wrong alarms.

Plissken was moving fast, through the Pentagons restructured corridors. Godamnit! But that wasn't
the worst part.

He was alone.

Setanta had still been monitoring the GPS signal, as he was intrigued if it responded to
physical stimulus like stress or pain. If Gator was left alone with Snake then there was a
pretty good base level test for either of those responses. He had been disappointed when the
blip had refused to vary its output at all, and had been even more concerned when three Dragons
had entered the same room and seemingly let Snake leave. Not one of the tracers in the headsets
was moving in pursuit...Setanta thought this over carefully. Perhaps it wasn't just the headsets
that weren't moving!

Gator wasn't wearing a set so it could be that he had dragged Snake off for some private
punishment but the route the GPS signal took was erratic and went down well known dead ends
several times.

Setanta then began to estimate the speed by bringing the resolution tighter and timing Snakes
passage between points. It wasn't too long before Setanta could tell Snake was moving fast.
Perhaps then this was the reason for the dead ends, he was loose and Gator was having a lethal
game of cat and mouse.

Then again, what if Snake was just loose, period...

Snake entered the stairway to the coms level and this was when Setanta decided to inform The
Missile, knowing he was in for an ass kicking for taking this long to inform his superior.
Missile had slipped the holster guards off of his pistols and ran to the coms level flat out
his long, grey hair trailing behind him. He tried to raise Gator or one of the others several
times but received static and gravely white noise for his efforts. The pulse in his temple
hammered with his thoughts and a small particle of fear crept up from some dark and cobwebbed
area.

Was Plissken loose? How had he got past Gator? Plissken should be having trouble breathing and
thinking after five minutes alone with his demented brother, not sprinting around the complex.
And just what was he doing? Any soldier in his own mind would be following the two E's right
now - Escape and Evade - not making his way deeper into the enemies stronghold.

But they had hardly entered into a dialogue about why he was here before letting the Gator
loose on him. Missile blamed himself, the heat of battle and the raw fire of loosing so many
men had blinded him, set a divergent path for his thoughts. He'd just wanted payback.

It now seemed that Snake might well be after the same thing!

Plissken skidded to a halt as he entered a darkened corridor, the floor sloping down before him
and disappearing into a valley of shattered concrete and metal beams. A quarry of rubble: a
testament to the force of the bomb that had destroyed the Government buildings entire south-west
-ern section.

"Not this way either!" he cursed and dashed back the way he had come. The machine guns were heavy
and awkward but Snake had no inclination to discard either one, they were his life line,
literally. Without these he had no life if he came upon any Dollar Dragons. Especially now!

'Scratch another four Double Dees off the list,' he thought.

A stairwell door stood ajar and Snake poked his head into the corridor quickly. He saw no one
and the stairwell was well lit and free from debris so must have been a well used area. Steadying
the Stoner he span into the stairway, his back against the wall facing the first staircase and
felt himself take the first ounce of pressure off of the trigger.

He felt sweat trickle down his spine and took the stairs two at a time but with the stealth of
a puma. Every angle was covered by the heavy guns barrel and if there was a trap waiting then
Snake would give the guy his credit and die surprised, because he couldn't see a damn one.

Two flights up he smashed through a door, the gun swaying as he covered the new floor plan. He
was in a corridor twice as wide as any he'd seen so far, large glass cases bisected the area in
a checkerboard pattern. Dust had settled in a gritty film on all the tall cases and Snake
peered at the closest one trying to see the artefact beneath the crud. He wiped away a swatch
and saw the tail of a great, ornate Native American head-dress. The feathers were dull but the
colours must have been magnificently bright when the big chief had worn it, ceremonial beads
hung in bundles around the blank faced mannequins neck and trim flint arrowheads dangled from
petrified leather.

Snake took a step back and looked around him. He approached a second cabinet and pushed away
more dust. This case held an old Colt Peacemaker -its steel skin dull and dry - and a sheriffs
badge: the letters almost worn off of the brass. A small plaque said they were Wyatt Earps and
a sepia tinted photo showed a slit eyed, moustached western hero of a bygone age.

A real law man, Snake observed.

"Welcome to De Hall Of Heroes, Snake!" a loud and accented voice echoed off the glass and Snake
had barely enough time to throw himself flat to the floor before Cougar opened fire through the
collected ornaments.

Glass splashed all around him and Snake held a protective hand close to his eye as sprays of
tiny glass shards rebounded from the floor.

Cougar aimed lower his H&K chewing its way through the wood and decimating the whole of Geronimo's
head-dress. Thin fibres of feather filtered through the air as wood chips flew in an intense
storm cloud mixing with the shattered glass on the floor and creating an uneasy footing for Snake.
Snake dashed between the cabinets, hoping to loose Cougars tracking machine gun in the dust cloud
and he let off a long burst of shots before he dashed forwards and then immediately back to
confuse the Cajun killer. The Stoner was a loud gun and the bright muzzle flash lit up the dust
creating a smudged flame which Cougar immediately targeted.

He was crouching behind a display case swapping magazines when The Missile appeared at his
shoulder.

"Are you fucking deaf, Cougar!" he bawled, a thick vein bulging from his forehead as if it was
about to burst. "What does cease fire generally mean to you? It means stop firing now, not when
your ammo runs out!"

"I didn't hear any order!" Cougar snapped back, impatient to start the firefight with Plissken
again.

Missile glanced at Cougars belt and snatched the headset from a belt clip.

"Then wear the damn thing you idiot!" Missile growled and then did the strangest thing Cougar
could think of. He stood up. Brazenly stood up and drew his side arm and threw it away. It
clattered on the gritty floor and slid under a display case holding the famous Roswell 'weather
balloon'. "Plissken, cease fire. I'm unarmed."

"Yeah but Swamp-thing ain't!" Snake called from somewhere in the settling dust cloud.

"Cougar, put down your gun and stand up."

Coming from anyone else that would have sounded strange, but Cougar had to admit Missile telling
him to surrender was nothing short of a sign of insanity.

"WHAT!?"

"I said relinquish your weapon and stand up, soldier!"

Cougar felt his mind recoil and he was still trying to fathom any hidden orders or messages from
his CO when he felt the cold tip of Snakes Stoner prod the back of his neck.

The H&K hit the deck as fast as bad news and Snake Plissken travelled.

Cougar rose, the gun still firmly attached to his spine as Bergstrom stared at Snake over his
shoulder.

"We need to talk, Snake."

"It's Plissken and-"

"And you won't tell me again, yeah yeah. Jesus, you give a guy a rep and he thinks he's Billy
the Kid!" Bergstroms outburst was aimed firmly at the ether, or any passing curious deity, but
not at either man before him.

"Always preferred Wyatt myself." Snake added pushing the gun deeper into Cougars flesh. "You
have a favourite cowboy, Gumby? Or were you too busy screwing possum."

"Plissken, I'm going to ask you to put your gun down too and stop this horses ass bullshit. We
need to get something sorted here. It's been bugging me since we brought you in but my head was
so caved in after you killed my men I wasn't thinking straight." Snake looked into Bergstrom's
eyes and quickly scanned for any other weapons on the guy. He breathed deeply, a hoarse hiss of
decision and took the Stoner away from Cougars neck. He let it hang down at his side casually
but made no effort to let it go any further. "So why are you here? Who sent you here, put you
onto us? You certainly didn't come here for the sight seeing and you haven't been on the law's
side since I don't know when. And all that pretty hardware was new military issue. Who gave you
all the toys, Wyatt!"

"Bob Hauk." Snake watched for Bergstrom's reaction and was non-plussed when there wasn't one.
"Bob Hauk, runs New York and other such shit holes."

"I know who he is I just don't understand why he sent you."

"He's working for the President. Sent me in to kill all you psychos after you threatened to wipe
Texas off the map with your dirty plague bomb. As you can imagine Mr Prez is having a hard
enough time keeping control as it is without loosing his largest powerbase."

"Texas?" Cougar shook his head. "What da' fuck were we goin' to do to Texas?"

"Viral agent. Let it loose, wipe out all the cowboys and cowgirls."

"Why?" Cougar asked his face a study of the purest form of puzzlement.

"'Cause you're all working for Harker and his mob of seven. Taking the US back for your own."

"Harker?" Bergstrom's asked puzzled. "Man where have you been? Harker died two years ago. Hung
himself in New Vegas, Thailand. We haven't heard from him since '99."

"But he did set you guys up in business?"

"Oh yeah!" Bergstrom said proudly. "Best career move I never made. Straight out of the corps,
on a section eight and into Harker's mayhem. It was a great plan Plissken, pity it went tits up
halfway through the new budget discussions. That's when Harker went off the rails a bit, gave
us all that mad stuff to do: shopping malls, Whitehouses, five sided buildings. That's when he
lost our leashes. Well, after the money stopped coming. We work for ourselves now, that's why
we came back here last month."

"Last month?" Snakes neck itched as if Hauk's little present wanted to prevent Snake from hearing
all this.

"We're back here digging all the secret shit out. The stuff we buried when we ground zeroed the
building. There's everything we need to get the world back on its feet under there. Harker's
administration records, his little cadre's secrets, all of it. One of his cohorts ran the
operations from here. Set up a little secret room amongst the secret stuff and watched the
States fall apart from sixty feet underground."

"They've even got a stiff down there," Cougar added eagerly, "Gunsmoke said we should defrost
him and let him get his career goin' again. But who'd pay to see some overweight Southern boy
anyways?"

So much information and counter-thought was flying through Snake's head that he zoned out the
prattling Cougar and tried to organise the truth from the jumbled pieces of the several jigsaws
he had now collected. It was just a pity that both pictures seemed to be of polar bears in snow
-storms.

"I think we've both been a little fucked over here." Bergstrom offered as Snakes eye focused.
"The GPS chip..." he hissed quietly, "how did you spot me coming in? The Blackheart was cloaked,
anti-radar all the way. Even the exhaust fumes were chilled."

"Yeah, it was the GPS beacon. Doc Oc caught it. Not much gets past him."

"So he tracked me with it. Tracked me to here?"

"Uh-huh." Missile frowned as Snake's eye centred on him and set like the point of a cold, steel
nail.

"Hauk's tracking me too, but he asked me when I last spoke to him if I'd made contact with you,
not found the virus. This was all supposed to be about the virus but he didn't mention it once,
he just wanted to know if I'd met you guys."

Snake paced across to the dusty cabinet closest and stared deep into the grey film as if it held
the answer he was desperate for.

"Can you take me to your tech guy? Doc Oc? I think I've figured out the real plan."

"What is it?"

"Get me to Doc Oc and I'll make sure I'm right." Snake followed as Missile turned and motioned
for him to follow. "I'll need my radio back, the one I came in with," he said to Cougar who
shrugged and said he'd get it.

As he dashed ahead Cougar turned and pointed his finger at Plissken.

"Josey Wales," he said loudly as Snake frowned. "My favourite cowboy. And I don't screw possums.
You ever saw one of dem ugly mothers and you'd know why!"

Chapter nine
G.P.S G.T.H

"Hauk, it's me!"

Bob Hauk dropped the ceramic mug of bitter recycled coffee. 'It was wine that was supposed to
be aged, not coffee,' he thought as he grasped the handset like a life buoy.

"Plissken!" Hauk breathed briefly and studied the small screen next to him. The GPS tag had been
moving recently but without a coherent route it seemed and Hauk was now hoping to clear up the
reason for the strange path.

"I've made contact. It was pretty messy," Snake breathed into the radio venting stress and
fatigue. 'You're tired! Talk to me about it'! Hauk thought. "I think one of them was call signed
Drop Dead. His dog tags match the list you gave me."

"Anyone else? Have you found the command centre or anything else? Can you confirm any further
targets?"

"Kind of," Snake seemed uneasy and Hauk found himself pulling the handset closer, as if
conspiring with it.

"This is former Special Forces Lt Colonel P. Bergstrom. I have your scruffy hit man surrounded.
Who am I talking to?"

Hauk's eyebrows rose and he made a thumbs up sign to a technician close by. The tech rushed off
to his own handset and began babbling in co-ordinates and such like as Hauk returned to his
conversation.

"This is Project Commander Bob Hauk. I have orders from the President himself that you cease
and desist all activities within the Pentagon and surrender with undue force."

"Cease and desist what, Bob?" Bergstrom asked icily.

"All illegal activity."

"Like what, Bob?" Snake hissed this time. Hauk was momentarily confused due to Snake's sudden
confidence. "There's no virus here, Bob. In fact there's no virus anywhere is there? It was all
a ploy. You used me again and didn't take the warning from last time, you dumbass!"

"Snake you don't understand what's going on. We've located the bomb, it was concealed as a
warhead in a missile silo in-"

"Save it!" Snake's voice was hoarse and violent. His temper had finally frayed beyond saving."

If it's anyone it's you that doesn't understand! You sent me in here with no intention of
getting me out. You sent me into this knowing full well I'd meet my brother and it's a well-known
fact that he was thrown out of the army and wants me dead! I was just a bloodhound sniffing out
your bad guys for you. But they're only bad guys from your point of view, Bob.

"You take everything the Prez shoves at you? You know about all the stuff we've got here don't
you? You know what the little secret committee cooked up because you've been getting the
information from one of them and he knows too well the shit the Dragons could dig up if they
burrowed into the vault. It's why Harker got them to blow up that section isn't it. Hide all
the incriminating evidence: a cover-up you'd need a bulldozer to expose!"

Hauk swore and looked at the technician the urgency obvious in his face.

The tech nodded and gave an affirmative thumbs up.

"Four minutes out, sir" he said smiling and tapped the screen displaying the GPS locator sat
firmly somewhere in the Pentagon.

Hauk returned to the radio smiling too.

"What have you got there, Snake? A conspiracy theory for the new millennium?"

"Why are you so positive all of a sudden?" Snake's voice was cold and curious.

"Because I know that whatever you think you've uncovered, or whatever those traitors have told
you, it soon isn't going to mean squat."

"What, the fact that two presidents have been amongst those responsible for the destruction of
the United States of America isn't worth anything? That Harker and his Holyness President
Prophet-Apocalypse cooked this whole thing up? That the Dollar Dragons were told to trigger the
San Andreas Fault with seismic charges and cut off LA? You think that isn't worth something to
everybody?"

"Not in three minutes it won't be!"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm too tired to fight anymore, Snake. You've got three minutes to live, Snake and there's not
a damned thing you can do about it. Goodbye, Plissken."

"Is that a threat, old man? Are you threatening me? Over the radio of all places! You haven't
even got the balls to threaten me face to face anymore. You're right, Hauk, you are old. And
you've lost your touch too."

"You don't frighten me, Snake. Get lost!" Hauk pulled the handset from the radio panel and sat
back in his chair. It creaked, echoing the griping that his own bones were making inside of him.
"Flight inbound, sir. ETA two minutes." The tech said quickly.

One-hundred and twenty seconds, Snake. That's all you have left in this world. Two minutes before
that whole place goes up in smoke. Run if you like, but you won't get far. Goodbye Snake
Plissken! Hauk decided another cigar was in order and groaned as he rose and made his way
towards the back of the plane.

Somewhere in the night he thought he heard the deep thunder of jets and smiled. Here they came,
four fighters aiming fuel/air bombs and air-to-surface missiles at Snakes GPS signal. Four
aircraft all ready to wipe every last piece of evidence of the current presidents crooked
involvement from the planet.

Another sound echoed in the dark sky above Hauk as he made his way down the cargo ramp and felt
the freezing air cling to his skin. It sounded like...a helicopter...yes, a helicopter.

"Sir!" the tech almost screamed from the cramped ops centre. "SIR!" Panic had firmly set in this
time.

Hauk dropped his unlit cigar and dashed back in.

"The GPS beacon, sir. It's moving..." the techs face was pale as he pointed a shaky finger at
the glowing screen that showed unquestionable progress from the GPS beacon. Progress too rapid
to be a man on foot and progress too uncomfortably aimed to be a frantic escape.

The helicopter made a low, rapid pass over the huge cargo plane and peeled away at almost
suicidal speed. Turbines screeched painfully in Hauk's ears as a small baseball sized package
rolled into the cabin.

"Hunter Six, active." The pilots voice came over the speakers like a sentence from the devil
himself. "All weapons away at my signal. Target beacon fixed: fire in five...four..."

Hauk's heart stopped cold as the roar of the jets filled not only his ears but the whole world.

The ground shook and the plane vibrated with almost tangible fear, as if it understood. As if
it felt the horrific fear and vehement hate pouring from Hauk as he left this world screaming
and cursing the name of:

"SSSNNNAAAAAKKKKEE-"

"Sucks to be you, Hauk" Snake hissed as a bright cloud of fire rose above the now decimated
airport. Snake dropped the radio off of the roof and didn't wait to hear it smash.

Grissom landed the chopper on the roof of the Pentagon and tried to wipe the smile from his
sweat soaked face. His hairless scalp gleamed with moisture. Behind him a greasy cloud of fire
glowed vomiting dark smoke across the city.

"Damn that was exhilarating!" he slapped Miss Ghost heartily as she slid from the choppers open
side. She graciously accepted the whoops of awe as Cougar and the one-handed maverick Storm
Front lifted her onto their shoulders. "Damn fine shooting girl!"

Ghost held the rifle over her head like a prize catch and patted the under-barrel grenade
launcher before kissing it.

Snake shook Grissom's hand and reached up to Miss Ghost as he stood amongst the remaining
Dollar Dragons assembled on the roof. He tenderly touched the gauze covering the gash in his
neck and felt sharp teeth of pain where the coarse stitches held his skin together. Doc Oc had
said that it was going to leave one demon of a scar.

The technician had removed the beacon when Snake had asked him about the possibility of it not
only being a tracer but a homing beacon as well. Doc Oc had agreed that any GPS signal could be
used to centre not only tracking devices but also weapons as well.

Then the ball had started rolling. Quickly!

Hauk had planned to wipe out all the evidence of the Presidents involvement, his team of
terrorists-for-hire and the man responsible for saving Harker - who had probably been the last
person alive who knew the identities of the rest of the committee of seven - by centring an
air-strike on the tiny signal as soon as he knew that Snake was actually with the real Dollar
Dragons.

Field surgery was never quite as complex as the operation Doc Oc had carried out. He'd used a
frequency scanner to pin point the GPS beacon and a microsurgery clamp to grab the tiny device
jammed into subcutaneous muscle just above the bulging carotid artery. The hardest part had been
cutting into Snakes tough neck muscle to get the thing out and that had been why all the
stitches had been necessary.

The little bug had been a disappointment to Snake in all its bland functionality but he had not
been disappointed to squash the blood cloaked thing into the centre of a ball of inert plastique
and watch Miss Ghost load it into the carcass of a grenade for her launcher.

As a spur-of-the-moment, living-on-the-edge-of-annihilation plan Snake thought it had been a
good one and had told Missile Bergstrom that the Dollar Dragons had performed admirably.

"You're troops kicked it today, Missile. I think we all saved each others lives here."

"Not all of them," Missile said heavily, thinking about the men he'd lost in the few hours that
Snake had been amongst them. "What happened to Gator?"

Snake took a moment and squinted with the steely resolve always somehow present in his lonely
eye.

"He pissed me off."

"What exactly was wrong between you two? He never told us, we only knew that he hated your guts
and wanted nothing more than to see your head on a stick."

Snake paused and pulled a pack of American Spirit cigarettes from his pocket. There were two
left in the crumpled packet but they were relatively straight and Snake offered Bergstrom the
least damaged one before levelling the steel blue laser beam at him. A flare from a sizzling
match reflected back across his iris, looking like hell-fire coming from within the eye itself.

Snake pulled on the cigarette until the tip glowed orange.

"Now that's a story that not many people know..."

THE END