Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta danger. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta danger. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 14 de mayo de 2018

My partner


   When I saw him, I could only laugh. He looked at me exactly in the opposing way, making his eyes turn around as if he had just witnessed the most annoying thing happening right in front of him. That was the kind of relationship we had the moment we started working together. For some reason, our boss had decided our skills complimented each other’s, so he appointed us to missions together very often. I have forgotten how many times I pretended to be his brother, his friends and even his boyfriend or even husband.

 It all depended on the places we had to go and the things we had to do. Sometimes, the mission would be a very relaxing cruise through the Caribbean on an enormous boat that would float peacefully for over a week, carrying carefree tourists around. People that just wanted to get a tan and swim and maybe walk the massive ship, enjoying everything the place had to offer. Yes, I have to confess I loved those kinds of missions but we got assigned to them because they were specifically for rookies in this business.

 I remember one time; only about a year after we got to know each other properly, when we were sent to the Bahamas pretending to be a married gay couple going on an exclusively gay cruise. We had to steal some very important papers out of the office of a very important businessman who happened to be frolicking in the boat with his lover, unknown to his wife. It was a hilarious place and situation to be in, and of course stealing the plans was the easiest part of the whole thing. We did it the first night.

 For the other eight days, we had to hold hands pretending to love each other to death, when in reality we had almost hate for one another. Well, it wasn’t really hated but we certainly didn’t see eye to eye. He was the kind of guy that loves to focus on the job and is obsessed by doing everything by the book, like a little boy scout trapped in an adult man’s body. That to me annoyed me so much that I would often just go rogue for a couple of hours and that would, of course, made him go insane, a result I always loved.

 In the bedrooms, we agreed on sleeping on the same bed but avoiding anything weird during the night. No touching each other’s private space, especially not each other’s bodies. The first one to wake up would be the first one into the shower and so on. After a few months, we had a great system that avoided, almost always, any unpleasant moments during our missions. And as they would often take long periods of time to get over with, we just had to find a way to live with one another. It was almost a sacrifice for both of them and we did it because it was our job.

 However, those were our first missions, years one and two. By the third one, they sent us to shorter missions that required a greater deal of commitment from our part. In not so many words, that means that we had to risk our lives during those assignments. Sometimes, we wouldn’t even see each other but once, in critical moments. Besides those, we would often fly solo and assume unrelated identities. I have to confess it was kind of fun at first, playing to be so many different types of men, so many times.

 But after a while, it got annoying and the stakes started looking at me in the face. On my first mission, I got fired several times and they had to pull me out of a dumpster with a bullet on my thigh and several cuts all over my body. It was a weird experience, which was better than what my former partner was going through. I say former, because sometime after we started that decisive year, the bosses decided we wouldn’t be working together as often as we had done in the past. They said it was the right thing to do.

 However, I heard a drug lord almost killed him, after his disguise as a dealer was blown by some snitch. The snitch got killed right in front of him and the drug lord ordered his people to tie my former partner to a pipe and beat him up in every way they wanted. I have no idea of the details, but some people say he could have been killed if it hadn’t been for his security bracelet, which was a secret piece of equipment we all wear that activates itself if we fail to report to it at least once a day.

 You see, the drug lord took all of his clothes away and let him in a cold basement for at least four days. So the bracelet activated itself, called for back up to that specific location and the agent was saved. I was in a mission during that time, so I just heard it all from others. I was tempted to visit him in the hospital, the moment I was able to go back home, but I decided against it. Actually, I realized I was caring for someone I had never cared before, and that confused me enough to do nothing and go back to my life.

 It was almost a year later when they assigned us to a mission together. This time, it was a classic spy stunt: we had no covers, nothing sleek or sexy or nice. We just had to get our hands on a witness, extract him from a certain country, and go back home with that person alive. It was a nightmarish place to be, a horrible experience to be having. But, between all of it, I have to admit I was comforted when I saw his face in the airport the day we left for our mission. I wanted to tell him something but had no idea what to say. So, again, I decided to stay quiet and focus on the mission at hand.

 As predicted, the situation was dire. We had guns and a contact, but that was all blown to hell the second day of our stay in that dreadful hellhole. A group of guys attempted to blow us up in a crappy hotel. It was just luck that the cleaning lady had gone in before us. I know, that sounds insensitive but you kind of lose that part of yourself in such a job. We just started running and killing them all to get the fuck out of there. And in that moment, we were the best team anyone could have ever hoped for.

 It was as if our minds were connected, as well as our bodies. We didn’t even have to look at each other to work in unison; it was almost like a dance that has all the perfect moves to be the best anyone has ever seen. At the same time, I realized we weren’t the same people that had enjoyed those cruises and nice hotels at the start of this whole thing. We were two entirely different men and it showed. I saw it in his eyes the moment we started running away and I had felt it in myself for a long time before that. It just had been confirmed.

 He surprised me with his knowledge of the underworld of that city. Maybe he had been there before or maybe he had just changed that much. I had heard that after his traumatic experience, he had stayed on his post, taking many other risky assignments. He had a nice fiancé at the start but eventually she left him and no one could point at the exact thing that had caused that rift. However, the job was not one where you could see a lot of happy endings. So I understood if that had been the reason why he had decided to be left alone.

 In time, we got our witness and got her out of that place. It was by the skin of our teeth, as I was shot in the shoulder moments before our party rescued us on the border. The thing was, he had stepped in front of me and blocked most bullets by using a metal door as a shield. Only that one bullet had been able to reach me. Making me lose a lot of blood. I fainted in the helicopter that was carrying us and woke up many days later, back home, in a hospital bed. I was very dizzy, so what I saw seemed very unreal.

 It was him. He was fast asleep in the only furniture in the room other than my hospital bed, a very old sofa that seemed to have seen better days. When the nurse came in, she told me he had been there for over two days, never leaving for his home, never going anywhere. He just stayed there.

 After she left, I watched him sleep for a while. And as I did that, I tried to understand the whole situation. It was confusing for me and I know it must be the same for him. So I just decided to think it through another day. What was important was that I felt safe now, and I could finally rest properly for a few days.

viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

Failure

   I pulled the cape over my head and ventured outside the module. Rainfall was minimal, so I could finally see how this world looked liked. It was kind of beautiful, with tall smooth mountains rising towards the sky and a small like very near the place I had been trapped in for so many hours. Well, I wasn’t really trapped but it did feel like it after everything that had happened. The ground was muddy and it was better to walk slowly. The possibility of falling to the ground was very high.

 When I got to the edge of the lake, I walked a little bit more towards a large boulder that was half in the water, half in the land. For a moment, I thought it wasn’t a good idea to seat by a lake without knowing if any beasts inhabited it. But then I remembered the moon had been surveyed several times and no life forms had ever been found. It was a barren wasteland that happened to be perfect for us at that time. We had landed only a few hours ago but it seemed like forever.

 I sat on the rock and a gust of cold wind moved my cape and my hair. I bowed down to it, trying not to feel that cold in my bones, but the truth was I did want to feel physically bad. Somehow, it eased the pain of what had happened earlier in Kristomo. I would always ask myself why I had gone to that planet instead of just staying put where I had been told to stay. I had never been the best at following rules, especially when I felt something could be done if I broke said rules.

 A single tear came down my face and I cleaned it fast. I didn’t want to feel bad for what had happened because I just couldn’t blame myself for it. It wasn’t my fault that people weren’t loyal anymore, than they preferred to do things differently. Sean had been with the team for a long time, much longer than I had been there. It made no sense that he would leave just like that but that’s exactly what he did. I thought it through several times but couldn’t really understand why.

 The point was that he had betrayed us on Kristomo. He had gone there with us, where we would try to retrieve a powerful mineral that was better away from the hands of any wrongdoers, as its properties made it not only unique and powerful but also extremely dangerous. It was good then that I managed to truck them and the crystal fell several meters and into an open volcano but it was then when Sean turned on us and started firing like crazy. His new friends did the same and we barely survived the attack. Actually, I was the only one who survived.

 Rom, our pilot, also counts of course, but he had been waiting for us the whole time on the ship. He hadn’t come down to retrieve the crystal or fight the band Sean had “suddenly” joined. He didn’t feel bullets coming all over the place, passing over the shoulder, under the feet and even millimeters away from his eyes. I had to live through that and also watching how my team, the people I had chosen to go there, died next to me in a matter of minutes. It was a bloodbath.

 When I entered the ship and yelled Rom to take off, he thought I was crazy or something. Not only because he knew the team was made up of six people but also because when he turned around, he could see that there was blood spattered all over my face and that my skin had turned to the clearest tone of white I could ever turn to. I yelled at him again and he obliged, taking off as our attackers fired on the ship, trying to make it explode or, at least, trying to prevent takeoff.

 But Rom was very skilled and, in minutes, we were able to make the jump towards the headquarters of our organization. I had no time to mourn for the loss of my team or the conversion of Sean. It was better to communicate the mission’s failure to the central command. So I asked Rom, as calmly as I could, to patch me through to them. He did, handing me a white rag too, which I used to clean the blood of my face. I almost cried then but I breathed slowly and avoided it.

 Central command was content with the crystal been destroyed but they were very concerned with Sean betraying all of us. They didn’t say much about the fallen men and women, I guess because it wasn’t that uncommon for them to hear about people not coming back from these sorts of missions.  They were the ones who told me to come to this barren moon in order to wait here, in case Sean and his new friends were chasing us through the stars. Honestly, I couldn’t care less.

 But that was a lie. I did care, I cared a lot. Because Sean was not only one of my go to people in the organization, he was also someone I had started to like more and more, in ways I had only discovered very recently. Not too long ago, we had shared our first kiss. It had been on another rainy place, much like the one I am right now. His lips were so soft and warm that I thought to myself it would be a very nice way to die, to be killed while kissing those beautiful lips. Of course, I was delirious at the time because it was a stupid thing to think, I could see it now.

 Ram put a hand on my shoulder and I almost fell off the rock. He laughed but I didn’t. Feeling nervous was never funny. He told me had had made some repairs to the ship, as some of the shots aimed at making us land had actually hit the right parts of the ship. He had been able to fix it all with patience and time and now he had decided to check on me. He asked about his friends, our team and I couldn’t look at him to the eyes. I was ashamed of how I had handled everything back there.

 They had died because I had taken too long discovering that Sean was a traitor. He had to say it before I realized it and that was a mistake, clearly because I had grown fond of him. Maybe he used that in his advantage, but the point was that he had betrayed us all and we only had a short period of time to run for our lives. Being on a volcano, stones and hot weather had played against us big time. Some of them fell to the ground and then were shot or they were just reached by very good snipers.

 I told Ram I had no idea how it was that I survived and they died. For a moment, I had wished the roles had been reversed. But that didn’t help anyone, seeing myself only as a victim and make people feel sorry for me. I had to pull myself together, even if it meant moving on from such an awful mission. Ram suddenly came closer and hugged me. Only Sean had done that before but this hug seemed different. I could feel he wanted me to feel good, safe in a way, not bad for what had happened.

 A beeping sound was then heard, so we went back to the ship where a call from our headquarters was waiting for us. I answered. They gave us authorization to proceed with our trip towards them, as they had determined that our enemy had stayed in Kristomo. Apparently, they were mining for a new crystal. We all knew it was almost impossible to find another one but they clearly believed they could work at it a little bit more. In any case, they were dangerous.


 As Ram raised the ship towards the sky, I felt confused and very tired. I had not felt like that since escaping the planet and it was just now that my whole body suddenly felt as if it was made from solid lead. I leaned back into my seat and the last thing I saw was Ram looking at me, with a somber expression on his face. I didn’t worry though. I needed to rest.

miércoles, 17 de mayo de 2017

Survival

   As the capsule pierced into the unknown, the three former passengers of the ship known as Aurora, stared through the small round window, watching as the remains of their spaceship slowly separated from one another. They had been close, but fast-thinking from Beta, the onboard artificial intelligence, had saved them from a massive meteorite hitting them with all of its might. Now they were floating around in space, without a proper plan of survival and worry in their minds.

 Annika, the captain, had been the last one to enter the pod and was now trying to figure out what to do. They were too far from Earth for anyone in there to rescue them before the oxygen ran out. And besides that, there was the fact that no other spaceship was on that system, as it had been deemed a territory for observation and not exploitation. Other systems were being deprived of their resources by humans, but not that one. Their mission on the Aurora had been to observe and note.

 The planet closest to their position was a gas giant, maybe the size of Jupiter or a little bit larger. Mathematician Steve had been calculating many of the planet’s characteristics when the meteorite appeared out of nowhere. As they looked through the window, he noted that the planet was maybe so powerful that it had diverted to trajectory of a meteorite, sending it in the exact route on which they were working. An unfortunate occurrence but also of great interest. That comment wasn’t very well received.

 Shawna Clark was the main engineer and had been put in charge by her superior to guard the spaceship. Usually, she would have been with a senior engineer on the ship but he had to bail at the last moment because of a death in his finally. A replacement should reach them in a few months but now that was not really the best timing. The pod present many more challenges than the ones she was used to. Her training was the same as the one of any other person but she was very insecure.

 Annika ordered her crew, including the A.I. Beta to start working on improving their stay on the pod, at least long enough to be able to map some sort of plan that could end up on them being rescued or, at the very least, alive. Hours passed and everyone agreed the oxygen level was fine, although it could have been much better, and that the pod had no problems. Or at least not yet. Looking at the trajectory, they realized they were being pulled into the gas giant and their tiny ship could be destroyed if they didn’t do something to correct their path.

 The first thing was to choose another destination, at least for the time being. They decided to aim at one of the larger moons of the planet, one that they hadn’t been able to properly survey, as they had not been long enough in the system. They locked on the planet and used most of the small pods energy to propel themselves towards the moon. The bad part of this plan was that they had to control everything manually and certain problems would arise from the sudden thrust.

 Right enough, the ship started to shake violently even after all of the energy had been wasted. Shawna reported that most of the structure of the pod was damaged due to vibrations and Steve was trying to determine, with the help of Beta, how they could be able to remediate for their choice and if they actually had a chance of orbiting the moon. The reason why it was their goal was also because an old couple of satellites floated around it, which they could use to power the ship’s communications and call home.

 Shawna complained, as they moved around in haste, that calling Earth should have been their priority. However, Beta noted that the pod did not have the capacity to make contact with the Earth. Instead, it could only communicate with the main ship, whose pieces were now plummeting towards the gas giant. Luckily, that wasn’t going to be their faith but uncertainty was a lot more to handle for only three people and their friend with no body. They had to work fast.

 The impulse used to get away from the attraction of the planet, had been enough to liberate them, at least for the time being. They had to deprive the pod of many non-essential components in order to get a little bit closer to the satellites they needed to reach. But as they drew closer, a huge realization came to their minds: the satellites had stopped working for years, maybe even centuries. They would have to repair them and then use them and there was no time to do that inside the pod.

 And not outside either. There wasn’t enough air to breath. Their supply would last for about to more Earth days and that would be it. They would die of suffocation, inside a ship that was floating in space adrift. They all realized that their death was close and, instantly, their minds went to those they had left on Earth. They remembered their mother’s scent, the voice of their father’s, the tenderness of their grandparents and those who had children, heard them laugh once again. For a very brief moment, they were in peace with the fact that death was upon them.

 However, Beta interrupted them by announcing he had being able to access the memory banks on one of the satellites. Apparently, it had been able to function for a few more months after it stopped sending information to Earth. But the interesting part it’s that it hand found out that conditions on the nearby moon were similar to the ones in cold regions of the Earth. Climate was not ideal but they would be able to breathe.

 This statement by Beta made the crew breathe again and even a smile was brought to their faces. They decided to immediately recover the physical remains of the satellites by doing a spacewalk. This had to last the less amount of time possible so all three astronauts decided to do it together. Beta would coordinate from the pod and help them with robotic arms. That way, they would pull in the two satellites and use them down in the moon, once they landed.

 Because that was the idea. They knew it was their only chance. So once all the metal was inside the pod, they started calculating an entry route into the moon. It was difficult to choose a landing site because most of the information inside the satellite may have become obsolete. Ice and snow shift, as well and continent and they had no idea of what they could encounter down there. It could even have an entire ocean beneath the frozen surface, something that excited them and scared them at the same time.

 Once everything was done, all the calculations and thought processes, they began their descent into the planet. They decided not to rest or overthink their mission. They had to try to stay alive and the only way to properly do that was to launch themselves into the unknown. The ship, however, was much more damage than thought. As they plummeted to the surface below, they felt parts of the fuselage fly away from them. It got so bad, that even the main circular window exploded minutes before hitting the ground.

 The pod glided over an icy surface that seemed solid. It stopped after what felt a long time. They immediately knew the satellites information to be correct, as they could breath. They were happy, even with a broken ship. Beta survived on their special suits.


 The first thing was to check on the satellites and build a proper shelter. However, as they stepped out of the pod, they realized something that the satellites had completely missed. The planet appeared to be populated, as remains of building made of ice laid on the ground, destroyed by their ship as they landed.

lunes, 26 de septiembre de 2016

Kodiak

   Winter had been very hard on the people of Kodiak town. It always was. Snow had fallen every single day in copious amounts and wind had blown from the mountains towards the ocean with a constant force, never going faster or slower. Everyone there was used to that and they knew exactly how to deal with what nature had to offer to every creature in that corner of the world. Kodiak was very remote and it could only be reached from the outside world if people dared to do a three-day trip to through the frozen desert and the dark forests.

 That was the reason why people in Kodiak were self-sufficient. They went fishing into the ocean every single day, In order to have their three meals a day without exception. They had learn to plant some vegetables thanks to the help of two scientists who had come from the outside world fairly recently. They had taught the people that they didn’t need to plant in the ground but they could do it practically in the air with only the help of water and compost made with the feces of the dogs everyone had. It had been a really revolutionary thing for all of them.

 The scientists had done the trip because they were very interested in the culture of the people in Kodiak. They wanted to document every single thing they could find, including the way they fished, the way they hunted for creatures in the forest, how they built their homes and other traditions that hadn’t changed in many years. Stella and Norman Ruiz had always wanted to have a big adventure and be in the forefront of discoveries in the world and now they really were. So much so that they had decided to stay for a longer time than predicted in Kodiak.

 At first, people didn’t trust them at all. It was a normal reaction as outsiders were very rarely seen in the region. Normally, they would only come to take the riches of the land for themselves and steal the people from what was theirs. So the moment the couple arrived to Kodiak, everyone agreed they should be watched every single moment of the day no matter what they were doing or where. They would always have an escort. The only moment they were left alone was when they slept in their assigned house. However, someone was always waiting for them in the mornings.

 The couple found that fear understandable and had nothing to say about it. They thought it was best not to antagonize with anyone and just do what they had come to do. That was how they gained the trust of the people: through wanting to know more about their culture and traditions. At first, they were all very reserved and only talked with short sentences. But after a few weeks, men and women opened up to them and realized that Norman and Stella were not bad people at all. They were genuinely interested in them.

 However, that didn’t mean they instantly trusted every other outsider. Just a month after the arrival of the scientists, there was a problem with a group of men that had come out of nowhere. They never revealed their names or if they worked by themselves or for someone else. The point was that they had established a camp in the river running close to Kodiak town and were using chemicals to clean whatever small stones of gold they could find in the muddy bed of the river.

 The inhabitants of Kodiak noticed the chemicals when two of their children got sick one day. The local doctor, who was more of a shaman than anything else, noticed they had ingested something and the Kodiak almost instantly thought of the fish they had caught that day. Some thought it was a punishment from the gods because of their acceptance of the scientist but it was precisely them who found the real source of the problem. Stella and Norman were certain it was not the fish but the water who had some polluting agent in it.

 The people of Kodiak didn’t know whether to believe or not what the scientists were saying. But a couple of them decided it was best to check their version out and it was then when they discovered the miner’s camp and the use of chemicals to clean gold. It was a very tense situation, as the people of Kodiak asked the miners to please leave but they wouldn’t budge, claimed that river and all the land around it was theirs. Norman went there to help and the miners showed him a paper signed by a federal authority giving them rights over the land.

 It was very hard for the scientist to tell the people of the town that the paper said exactly what the man claimed. No one understood how that was possible, as the government had never came into contact with Kodiak, even though they perfectly knew that it existed. It was then when everyone trusted the scientists so much that they told them the origin of the town and showed them other documents they possessed, stating that outsiders had created Kodiak. It was the best-kept secret in town as it was always thought natives had founded the town.

 The elders explained that, although many native tribes inhabited the region in years past, the reality was that they were all nomads, going from one end of the country to the other. It was only when the whalers came and founded the town that a settlement came to exist. However, the whalers were not well equipped to survive the harsh conditions, so they abandoned the town. Not a long time after, one of the tribes took possession of the houses, restores them and built more. Kodiak was reborn. The outsiders had left everything behind, including those papers.

 So it was easy for Norman to conclude that the miners had a false document, as the one the people in Kodiak had predated it by many years. He decided to tell this to the local authorities and let them deal with it. It was the best as the miners saw him as a traitor to his own people. Even if they were clearly not the same, they were all outsiders and that united them in the mind of the miners. They ignored whatever the people of Kodiak had to say and told them that they wouldn’t move until they had found every single piece of gold the river possessed.

 Tensions kept rising as the days went by. The children were getting worse and people were now forbidden to drink water from the river. The two scientists decided to do something: they decided to send a letter to the authorities with a local resident who was going to look for medicine for the children in the outside world. In the last minute, Norman decided to go with him, leaving his wife to help the people and try to avoid any time of conflict with the miners.

 But it was too late for that. The residents of Kodiak were not going to put up with it so, each night; they decided to sabotage the machines and everything the miners used to process the gold. They stole some of the chemicals and buried them in the forest and tried several times to destroy everything but the men were many and they would rebuild every day. It seemed as if they had unlimited resources of some kind. That went on for some nights until the miners had enough of the interruptions and decided to do something: they killed one of the intruders.

 No one had murdered in that region in many, many years. Not since the tribes had united into one a long time ago. People decided they would not take it lightly and they didn’t: that day, almost every single Kodiak man walked the side of the river in order to reach the miner’s camp by nightfall. Once they arrived, they started shooting their arrows, some of them with fire in order to burn every single tent to the ground. The miner’s attempted to defend themselves with more modern weapons and they were successful. The scene was bloody and chaotic.


 It fortunately ended very soon, as a regiment of the federal army arrived with Norman and the Kodiak man he had left with. They had brought medicine and were there because they had seen the fire. The government recognized that Kodiak was a native city and miner’s had no permission to be there, at least not yet. The government was cleat that anything could change going forward. But at least that threat was no more. The miner’s left and the people of Kodiak were left to their own devices, for the time being. The scientists never felt, feeling that was their real home.