Mason stared at his new team, his 7thteam in this war. While he found that there was much potential in them, he knew that they were no different from the rest of his teams. They were human. They could be killed at any time. It would stay like that until the end of this war.
In fact, the only thing that was keeping the Kalen from just dropping in with their little pods and killing them right now was the anti-air gun placed in the Penn District, which could kill any and all drop pods with almost 500 missiles in a 500 mile radius, and it could fire them all almost immediately. And also the fact that no one knew where the Red Cloaks resided.
The Red Cloaks resided in a secret base underground only known to the president, the Secretary of War, and the Red Cloaks. It resides in a dense forest that trainees must become familiar with if they wish not to get lost. Their base entrance is camouflaged well, and they soundproof all rooms with training and gunshots involved.
He looked over at Team 37, the best of the trainees. Now they will be joining Mason’s team. Squad 1 Command Team has been restored. He just hopes that this is the last one before the war ends. There is too much death. He could tell Carla was thinking the exact same thing. He pulled his scarf secure before approaching them.
“So you’re the best Team?” Mason stared at them blankly. “I didn’t think that think you would be in that team.” He stared down Joe.
“Mason” Joe said curtly.
Mitchell quickly understood what was going on. “How do you know Mason know each other?”
Joe looked at Mitchell “Being an engineer for the military, I gave my inventions to Mason. Everyone in his squad gets something called the Genetic Manipulation Device, or GMD for short. It gives his teammates enhancements on the battlefield. Mason and I have… disagreements over this war”
Mason elaborated “Joe’s intention of being an engineer was not to help humanity, but to hide from the draft. Fat load that did. The fact that I’m seeing him standing here baffles me. You all must be amazing if you were able to pull his dead weight.”
Joe glared at Mason “The fact that you’re alive baffles me you suicidal idiot” Mason almost laughed a little “Believe me, I don’t know either” his expression turned dark “But now I have duties to keep, and promises to see through, so nothing is going to get in the way of that”
Joe was slightly unnerved by Mason’s sudden change of tone. He wanted to come up with a retort, but couldn’t find anything to say. Mason decided to change the subject. “Do you have some new GMD’s? I would like to make use of your engineering skills if you lack physical ones.”
Joe grabbed a handful of small pill-like things that he loaded into a gun. He waked over to Mitchell and shot his hand, and the small device borrowed itself into his skin. He yelped at the quick pain.
“Ow!” Maddie nearly screamed as she tried to be strong. Jessica and Troy merely winced at the pain. The woman standing next to Mitchell offered her hand, which Joe shot as well. She didn’t even react to the shot. Joe proceeded to put the gun in his pocket.
“Why aren’t you shooting yourself or Mason” Mitchell inquired, a little salty at the fact that they didn’t get shot in the palm.
Joe responded “I don’t have enough for myself. I don’t need it anyway. It’s physical boosts to your body, and I’m the support type. Mason already has one in him.” Mason holds up his hand to show a small scar in his palm. “Now everyone show me your hands so I can read what they are doing to your body. Everyone held out their hand which Joe took out a device to scan their hands. They should be giving you enhancements based on your best physical traits”
“Ooooh, fascinating. Carla, your GMD made your bones lighter, enabling you to have increased speed, soundlessness, and acrobatics. Maddie, you have heightened senses. You have the hearing of a cat and 20/20 vision. Troy, you’re bones greatly increased in density, making you a human wrecking ball. Jessica has desensitized nerves, causing her to feel very little pain.” Joe spent a long time scanning Mitchell’s hand.
“Wow” is all that came out of Joe’s mouth. He seemed flabbergasted. “I’ve never seen this before… Mitchell, in dire situations… increased blood flows through your brain. This allows for you to think abnormally quickly, and the world as you see it slows down around you.” Joe just stood there, mouth agape. “This is going to be crucial, for you will have the timing, and preciseness, of a modern day Robin Hood, not to mention your reaction time.”
Joe looked excited. “This is the most useful ability I’ve ever seen, so use it well”
Mason finally clapped his hands together and said “Well, I think that we need to train ourselves with this ability. So let’s get you guys your weapon sets and start training. We are all doing the team course 10 times, for every time we don’t get it under 5 minutes, we have to do 2 more.
Red Cloaks were famous for their versatility. Some say their motto for weapons are ‘Get it, Use it, Live it’. Weapon Sets are the loadouts of every Red Cloak. It varies greatly from person to person; Mason judges what weapons should be assigned to which person. The weapons range from machine guns to baseball bats, due to the shortage in materials.
Mason was always equipped with 2 revolvers. Carla used silenced M911s, and throwing knives. Mitchell was equipped with a .338 caliber sniper rifle, the M24, and a combat knife.
Jessica had the FN Minimi, a light machine gun, and brass knuckles (you could hear her saying “hell yeah”). Troy was equipped with the M3 Benneli, which was a popular shotgun when the war broke out, and a sledgehammer. This set up was perfect for Maddie as equipped with the UMP-45, a submachine gun that was light and portable, and a combat knife.
Joe got to pick a bunch of his engineering inventions, and a wrench. He was mostly only equipped with stealth bombs, med packs, spare scrap, a radio (there is only one per squad because they are so valuable and rare) and a portable turret.
After they equipped themselves, they set out to complete the training courses. For the team one, which was being done that day, the average time was 10 minutes 43 seconds. Even for the best, it’s difficult to get under 5 minutes, which meant they needed to be flawless.
It took over 8 hours, with several rest breaks in between, to get it done. The record amount they had to finish reached 49. But they finished it. When they got into their dorms, everyone was ready to die. All except Mason and Carla. He was just sweating profusely, and she was panting a lot. When the rest got into their beds, they all passed out immediately.
Still, the fact that they finished it in one day was impressive to say the least. It took Mason’s last team almost an entire week to get it done, so he knew that they have what it takes.
The following month was similar to this. They continued to complete training at inhuman times, and it astounded everyone, especially Mason on how much progress they were making. He sent in a positive word to the president, who had his doubts.
But Mason was soon called to a private meeting with the president to talk about the upcoming mission. He wanted to give Mason a spoon to dig a trench.
“How the hell do you think we can do that!?” Mason snarled. He had a look of disgust at the president. He knew that it was impossible, yet he still wanted it done. The president responded “You said you had the most promising task force since the beginning of this war. So prove it.”
“You can’t honestly expect us to takeall of the Boston District back.” Mason continued to resist. His dark eyes stare down the president. Heloathed him. He always does this
The president simply said “Look Mason, you have a bad record of successful missions. If you don’t show me results, then I’m disbanding the Red Cloaks.” This infuriated Mason “That’s because you always have such high hopes. We’re not expendable pawns on your personal chess board. Humans can do a lot, but we feel, we bleed, we die. You either need to invest more in the Red Cloaks, give us more reasonable missions, or fucking wait for the rest of America to fall into the hands of the Kalen.”
The president was a little taken aback. No one ever had such audacity towards him, except, Mason, of course. It made him angry. “Alright, Mason, I’ll give you one month to prepare and the next month to do the job” Mason widened his eyes at him. He honestly thought that was a compromise.
“Fine, whatever. But don’t expect perfect results. Like I said, we’re only humans” The president smiled in triumph.
“No Mason, you’re all freaks, and the fact that we’re supporting you in the first place is something you seem to take for granted, now go before I change my mind” Mason just waved him off.
Mason was sitting with his team. If looks could kill, his team would all be dead. He always looked angry after meetings, but this one pissed him off much more than usual for some reason. The air was tense; no one really wanted to talk.
Finally, Troy decided he wanted to ask it. “So… What happened at the mee-” Mason slammed his fist on the table with a loud thud. “The government wants us to take the Boston District back in a month.”
Joe spat out his coffee. “All of the Boston District!? What the hell are they thinking?” Mason looked darkly “The government has always had unrealistic expectations of us. They don’t see us as human; therefore they think we can perform miracles.” We need to start training, and I need to come up with battle plans tomorrow. In order to do this, we need to perform perfectly. I expect you all outside and ready to train at 5:00 tomorrow. Dismissed” The 6 quickly made their way to the dorm.
On their way back, a tall man with dark hair and brown eyes, around 19, walked up to them with his arms outstretched “Maddie!” The girl’s face lit up in less than a second “Derrick!” and she ran over to give him a hug. She turned around awkwardly and said “Everyone, this is my big brother, Derrick. He went into the Red Cloaks a few years ago.”
Carla smirked a little, she knew Derrick. She was the leader of Squad 3. He was talented man, and a natural leader. He is abnormally kind, and has a bright outlook on the world, despite the hell they lived in.
Carla spoke up “Well your brother sure does have talent. He’s the leader of Squad 3!”
Maddie turned around with excited eyes “Why didn’t you tell me!? That’s awesome!”
Derrick smiled, “Well you’re on Team Mason, I hear, I knew you had the talent. How are mom and dad?”
Maddie’s eyes flashed with slight regret “They’re fine, but they hate that I joined the Military. They still miss you.” Derrick looked at Maddie “I know they do, and I might be going home at some point next year. On the bright side, I’ll be able to see you more often” He ruffled Maddie’s hair.
He looked over to Carla, a little seriously and said “Where’s Mason, I need to talk to him.”
“He’s in his office; the government has ordered us to take back Boston District, I would suggest letting him be a little if that was your question, because he’s furious”
Derrick gaped at Carla “What!? How… How do they think we can do that?”
“Not sure, but we have a month to prepare, better get ready. Something tells me that the government is going to disband us if they don’t see results.”
Derrick had a grim expression on his face “The government can’t be that stupid, without us, America has no chance of ever winning the war… not that I think we can anyway…”
Joe interrupted “If you think we’re not going to win, then why bother with the Red Cloaks, you might be sending yourself to an early grave. If you have no hope, how do you expect any results?” Mitchell, Troy, Jessica, and Maddie rolled their eyes.
Derrick looked over at Joe “Too many people think like you. People love to play the odds and ensure their survival for as long as possible, which is a good idea in most cases. However, when situations are dire, especially in a situation is like this, what are you going to do? Let them fight you? Does that mean they’ll go away? No. We need to fight back, despite our terrible odds. We have to fight regardless, because if we stop fighting, than all the ones that gave their lives before us died for nothing. We have no chance of winning if we don’t fight.”
Joe simply said “That is noble, but survival is of upmost importance right? Than it shouldn’t be wrong to make that our highest priority”
Derrick responded “You’re right, but if you think that, than you shouldn’t be here”
Joe seemed a little offended, but he ignored it “I don’t think that way anymore, I’m just speaking for all those like me, who aren’t always as willing to die as quickly. I can at least empathize for the people who aren’t willing to fight”
Derrick simply nodded and said “Well, I have to go talk with Mason anyway; it was nice to meet the new team Mason. I’ll talk to all of you later” He gave Maddie a hug and ran off.
The new dorms are separated into two rooms, boys and girls. 3 beds were in each room. It was small, boring, and a little colder than most rooms, but Jessica and Maddie would talk into the night when Carla put her ear plugs on while Joe, Mitchell, and Troy would either all stay up and talk or all sleep. Tonight, they decided it was best to be prepared for tomorrow, and went to bed early. Maddie and Jessica, however, chatted into the night.
“So, you have a brother?” Jessica started
“Yeah, he’s the best… He made joining the Military easier for me, so I could go see him. I kind of idolize him. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and is so nice. He always tries to do what’s best for everyone else around him, even if it doesn’t help him.”
“Sounds a bit like Troy” Jessica thought out loud.
“Oh yeah, speaking of Troy, how have you two been? Do ya like him?”
“Y…Yeah I g-guess so…” Jessica sputtered out. Heat rushed to her cheeks.
“Wow, the ever stoic Jessica Robinson blubbering over a boy” Maddie teased. “You must really like him.”
Jessica only smiled. When she saw him butterflies went into her stomach. It really wasn’t like her. She was used to not having to worry about anyone. This, however, had her worried about him, making sure he was okay, having her heart leap into her throat whenever he was around, all of this felt so weird.
“Well what about you Maddie? Do you like anyone here?”
“Ummmmmm…” was all she could think of to respond. Quite frankly she hadn’t thought of it “I don’t really know. I think I should wait until after the war to start thinking about that.
Jessica shrugged her shoulders “Whatever, but that seems too long to wait for me.” Maddie simply replied “I’ll figure it out” That seemed to satisfy Jessica, but Maddie couldn’t stop thinking about what she said.
The new recruits soon discovered that the Red Cloaks, while being the most talented and experienced of the three branches, there were never that many people in it, ranging from 300-500 on good days. Therefore, they were around each other a lot.
They easily made friendships. A few became close friends with team Mason. There was Sarah, a girl with long, red hair, and was very kind and soft spoken, but an effective killer with the bow and arrow.
There was David, a very serious, cold hearted person (he and Jessica became particularly close), but he showed care for all of his teammates. He had a crossbow which he usually armed with explosives.
There was Jaylen, a tall, well-built African American. He was straight-forward and well spoken. He carried around a fire axe, and an M4 Carbine, a standard issue rifle. Jaylen was the only other friend with combat experience, and is the leader of Squad 5.
All of Team Mason (excluding the commander) and their friends sat at the same table. They would talk more than eat, not that they had much to eat anyway.
“So, what’s been up the commander’s ass lately?” Jaylen began
“We have to take back the Boston District next month” Carla responded
“Shit, how’re they thinking we’re gonna take all of Boston District back?”
“They don’t David” put in. Everyone turned to him “The government has been becoming more annoyed by the Red Cloaks. The majority of people in America support them, however, so they need to find a way for the Red cloaks in a” David held his hands up for air quotes “‘Blaze of Glory’, so they don’t have to invest resources into us.” Everyone stared blankly at him. Most likely wondering how he came to this conclusion he thought, so he explained “My dad worked for the government, and before I joined I heard him in conference calls.”
“That’s good information” Carla said “Thank you for sharing it. We should inform Mason about this”
David added “The government has never expected results from the Red Cloaks, so if we could accomplish this mission, than we can show them that we are useful, and we can have support from both ends.”
‘Astounding’ Mason thought. He watched as his team performed special training under his instruction.
Mitchell has not missed a single target with his sniper. As they kept popping up at random places, they were shot down almost before they got up. He hadn’t missed a single target yet. Mitchell’s GMD seemed to be working well. Even without it he still can’t get roughly 90% of the targets.
Maddie was working on a relatively easier target practice, but instead she was blindfolded. She was still hitting almost every target with ease. The GMD had allowed her to hear the exact location of her enemies.
Jessica was going through a pain simulator. She didn’t flinch when metal ball bearings were shot from a BB gun at her; in fact, she seemed to show very little emotion to any type of pain directed at her.
Troy was going through endurance training and hand to hand combat. The problem was every target dummy he punch would break under his fist. He still seemed undeterred, causing brick walls to crack under repeated punches.
Carla was passing through her obstacle courses in record times, and her throwing knife precision had only improved since training started.
Joe was busy in his workshop, developing some sort of sword that Mason was quite frankly, uninterested in hearing about, but at least he was a fantastic engineer. “Hey! You still need to practice your medical training!” Mason shouted at him.
Joe simply waved him off, completely ignoring him. “Whatever” Mason said “But as soon as one of us are dying and you can’t save us, I’ll personally kick your ass”
Mason does admit however, this team is the most effective and versatile yet, he sees a lot of potential in them. Mitchell is a one-shot-one-kill sniper, Maddie is an all-seeing scout, Troy is a human wrecking Ball, Carla is practically a ninja, Jessica was a human tank, and Joe was one of the most talented engineers he knew.
Perhaps, maybe, there is hope for the Red Cloaks after al