The air was tense inside the conference room. They could faintly hear the gunshots down stairs. Joe was shaking his leg. Mitchell was sitting back with David, who got permission to watch over Khan, Maddie was sitting with Jessica, and Troy was staring at Khan, who looked around dejectedly. Hutchinson and Singleton were leaning on the wall while Carla paced.
Finally, Khan let curiosity take over “What are you going to do to me”
“We’ll leave that to Mason” answered Singleton curtly.
“If you’re expecting me to talk then you will be sorely disappointed”
“Not if we do it right” David put in darkly. He walked over to Khan, a crossbow bolt in hand. He holds it to his chest. To this, Khan laughs at him.
“You honestly expect me to be frightened by you? I could squish you like a bug if I wasn’t restricted right now.
“But you are, so I can do whatever I want to you.” He pressed it harder, drawing a little blood. Khan didn’t even wince. Mitchell walked over to hold his wrist. He knew what was going to happen soon. David didn’t press any harder, but he kept it still.
“I’ll make sure you go through the most intense pain possible” Khan looked far into his eyes, and remembered him. He was one of the wounded soldiers back at the last battle.
He was the one that was devastated when he killed that girl.
“Oh I know who you are the one who cried over that girl” David’s face twisted in anger. Khan continued in a patronizing tone “Did I hurt your little friend” He could feel David’s rage growing “How did it feel when I made her scream in agony in her final moments?”
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!” David raised the crossbow bolt and brought it down on him. Everyone lunged at him to restrain him. “I’M GONNA KILL YOU! DIE!” Singleton tried to reason with him
“Calm down, we need him alive”
Maddie tried helping as well “It’s ok, calm down”
“Oh I know you too girl, Derrick told me a lot”
Her eyes widened, and she looked at him with anger.
“Let me ask you, Maddie, how do you think we knew the location of where these people meet?”
Her eyes narrowed. She hissed “What did you do to him?”
“Oh it took me weeks to get him to talk. But we used some very… special forms of torture”
“It’s very precise, to make sure we don’t kill him, you should’ve heard his screams as the electricity ran through his body”
Maddie immediately lunged at him with her combat knife, only to have Jessica restrain her.
“Maddie, don’t let his words affect you.”
“Let me go!”
“Who are you, the girl with the dead parents?”
Before another word was said, Jessica walked over to Khan, punched him, and gagged him.
“He’s trying to get us angry. We need to stay above him, otherwise we’ll simply end up trying to kill him instead of holding him hostage.”
Finally, everyone calmed down. A short silence followed before Carla became antsy again. “Commander Singleton, how long until rescue arrives?”
“Mason, the second floor has been overrun, the remains of the National Defense is coming up, and Kalen are fighting the Red Cloaks on the third floor.”
Mason continued to get ready. Soon, several guards, wearing the blue uniforms of the National Defense, many with burn holes in their body, and wounds covered the soldiers.
“You couldn’t hold it any longer?”
A timid soldier spoke out of the crowd. “No sir, any longer we would’ve been surrounded, and none of us would’ve made it out.”
A different soldier, tall, longer hair, with considerable facial hair, put in “I think we should’ve stayed there a little longer” adding a good amount of venom in his sentence to indicate that they fled early.
“Well that was not your decision to make, Allan!” cried another.
Soon, everyone was arguing and accusing one another of various things. Mason didn’t have time for this.
“Everyone shut up!” Immediately, the soldiers silenced themselves “Now I don’t have time for this, you supposedly held the second floor as long as possible, thank you. Now I need to go support the front line, you may stay here if you wish, or you can come with me if you feel you can do more.”
As soon as he finished, he headed downstairs, only 3 out of the crowd following him, including this soldier named Allan. Still, a little part of himself is holding him back. It’s not like him to fear dying, or at least having reservtions. He quickly dismissed his thoughts and started walking down each floor.
As requested, each the staircases alternated from one side of the building to the other in order to maximize the ground the Red Cloaks had to fight on.
He walked past Red Cloaks, ready to fight in the cubicles and setting up barricades along the hallways. He walked past them preparing their weapons and silently summoning their courage to fight.
As he reached the 3rd floor, there was utter pandemonium. Grunts were flooding through the doors, only for some to get shot as soon as they reached it. However, there were so many, and Thaldon was willing to risk anything in order to get Khan and kill the president.
Quickly, Mason pulled out his revolvers, causing the ever familiar sounds of gunshots to sound. The firefight was intense, Mason and the remaining Red Cloak soldiers were losing ground however, and there were even more coming than before.
“Pull up to the 4th floor!” Mason commanded. Immediately, the Red Cloaks started to ease up the staircase, constantly putting themselves in alternating over watches. Mason checked the time, 17 minutes remaining.
Everyone sat in the conference room in silence. The sounds of fighting have gotten louder and louder. It was eating away at the soldiers, if something doesn’t change soon, they will be fighting in this room. Carla was losing her patience quickly.
“How much longer do we have Commander?”
“Well I can’t take this anymore, Commanders, you watch Khan, we’re going down” Everyone immediately stood up to leave. It appears that Carla wasn’t the only one looking for a fight.
Commander Singleton furrowed her brows “Mason ordered you to stay, you’d be directly disobeying his orders”
“I don’t care”
Singleton shrugged her shoulders “Whatever, I’m not going to have to face his wrath so, have fun”
As the six walked downstairs, Mitchell was concerned, they’ve lost a lot of ground, and barely half the time passed. It won’t be much longer until they are at Khan’s floor.
“Thank God… I was starting to lose my mind up there” Jessica finally broke the silence of the awkward walk. Joe seemed relieve he didn’t have to start another conversation. His track record tells him they don’t end well.
“Honestly, why did Mason need all of us up there? It’s not like-”
“He didn’t” interrupted Carla “There was no need for all of us up there, he just didn’t want us fighting for some reason…”
They heard the gunshots only a floor below them.
They were only at the 9th floor.
When they reached the doors of the staircase, they were greeted by Red Cloaks rushing in, joined by Mason.
“GO, GO, GO!”
When everyone was in, he hastily barricaded the door. “Alright everyone! Last line of defense, we have 8 minutes to go. I don’t give a damn about casualties, we’re out of ground. Do not fall back, we are holding this floor!”
When he saw his team, he nearly jumped in surprise. “What the fuck are you doing here!? Get back upstairs!” Troy however, wasn’t having any of this.
“Bullshit, Mason, you don’t need that many people up there to guard a Kalen that is unable to move.” The door started banging.
“I don’t give a shit; get back upstairs now before they get in!”
Everyone stood there, not moving an inch. The barricade was coming loose. Mason looked at them in exasperation. “Please go back up…”
“Why?” asked Maddie
“That’s what I thought” accused Carla “we’re staying here and helping you”
“We don’t need…”
“YOU’RE ON THE FUCKING 9th FLOOR MASON! YOU NEED ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET! NOW SHUT UP AND LET US FIGHT!” Mason looked at Carla, his hair obscuring the look in his eyes. He continued to remain silent.
“This is our duty, Mason. I understand that you don’t want to lose anyone else, but we’re prepared to give our lives for humanity. Don’t stop us from helping our comrades because of your emotions.”
The barricade was going to give in any second. Mason, with a look us frustration and reluctance, nodded, and got into position. Carla smiled lightly and got into position along with the rest of the team.
Both Thaldon and Derrick stared at the screen. It was zoomed in on the fight. They could see the fighting. The Kalen was already on their second army. Mason may be doomed, but Thaldon found it especially frustrating at the cost it would take. They watched as shots were fired in all directions, killing Red Cloak and Kalen alike.
“They’re doomed, Derrick, you know it”
“Shut up and fuck off”
As he said that, he caught sight of Mason and his team, who charged right at the Kalen. His sword brought down grunt after grunt. Carla was cleaning up any missed Grunts as Mason drove them back down the staircase. Troy was using his shot gun to force any close Kalen out of reach to take cover, while Mitchell, Jessica, and Joe stared up at the top of the staircase, stopping any Kalen from advancing.
Then he saw it. Maddie was shot in the stomach. She dropped to her knees, clutching the wound.
“MADDIE!!!” Derrick fruitlessly struggled in his seat, as if breaking loose could help the situation. Thaldon smiled evilly.
“It seems that the brat will be the first to fall in the acclaimed team Mason.”
Derrick stared at her, nearly in tears, as she fell over. Mitchell was immediately by her side, as he struggled to carry her back up the stairs. The anger at his weakness nearly consumed Derrick right there. This was his fault. He knew it was. He was not worthy to be called a Red Cloak.
Mason’s team retreated back into the room. As Jessica hurriedly treated the head wound on Troy, Mitchell was busy helping Joe stop the blood loss coming from Maddie’s wound.
Maddie stirred, eyes painfully shut. “M-Mitchell…” She groaned in pain more as Joe pressed his hands on her stomach to avoid as much bleeding as possible. Mitchell felt wracked with guilt. He saw that grunt, as it was aiming at her, he could’ve stopped this from happening.
“Just hang in there Maddie, it’s going to be okay.”
Mason observed the whole scene in disgust. This was indeed disgraceful on his part. He shouldn’t have led that charge.
“I’m sorry everyone… This is my fault”
Carla tried to protest, but Commander Singleton burst through the door.
“The rescue has arrived!”
Mason immediately turned his head to all of his remaining Red Cloaks. “Alright everyone, it’s time to get out of this hell! Evacuate the wounded first, along with the president!”
The Red Cloaks let out a triumphant cheer as they began to evacuate. However, they needed to move quickly, for the Kalen have once again started tearing down the barricades set up after team Mason got back from the staircase.
“As long as they haven’t confirmed Khan has evacuated, they won’t blow up this building! Try and hold the position as long as possible!”
Slowly, the copters left. Commander Hutchinson, the president, the remaining National Defense, excluding Allan, and the wounded all left on the first flight. The second came not minutes afterwards. They evacuated Singleton, and half of the Red Cloaks.
“There will be two more sets of evac teams coming! Make sure to get on one of them!” Singleton called out as her copter left.
The remaining Red Cloaks grew uneasy as the barricade fell apart. It would not hold another minute; they needed to move fast once it got there.
Mason walked over to the only National Defense member still there. “So, Allan, right? Why didn’t you leave with your commander? It’s just us Red Cloaks here now.”
“I need to aid in defending the people still here. Not all of the National Defense sits on their asses all day, waiting to die” Mason grunted in response, and Allan soon added “Though, there are more of them than I care to admit…”
“At least you’re safe in the Defense, Allan. Don’t take that for granted”
“But what if I don’t want to be safe” Mason looked at him quizzically.
“Then you shouldn’t have joined the National Defense”
“I wanted to be a Red Cloak, so I guess this is my only chance to contribute to your branch, Commander Lagner.”
Mason smirked a little. “If you would like, I can talk to Commander Hutchinson to get you transferred into the Red Cloaks” Allan’s eyes lit up, and he looked more alive than Mason has seen him all day.
“You really could do that?”
“At the very least I could try”
“Th-Thank you, sir”
Just then, the third evac team arrived. Gunshots were coming from downstairs, the Kalen have broken through. “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Mason cried. The Red Cloaks ran up and got into the copters. Team Mason began boarding another with Khan in it.
Mason stepped t the foot of the copter, ready to board it. However, the sight of his injured friends stopped him. Maddie was in a great deal of pain, and Troy had a concussion.
Carla tried getting his attention “Mason, get in”
When Mason looked at her, she saw his face. Old pain was being fleshed up. Then, she immediately realized what he was doing.
Before she could get up to move, Mason already shut the door. She could hear him say “Go!” The helicopter lifted off of the roof, leaving Mason behind.
“NO! MASON!” Carla began to bang on the door, but it was no use. They were already too far away. Joe tried to be the voice of reason.
“Carla, calm down, Mason will be on the next-”
“The Kalen broke through the barricade, what if he’s not on the next one, we’d be without a commander. The Red Cloaks will probably disband if he dies.”
“It’ll be alright Carla, the Kalen don’t stand a chance against him.”
Carla reluctantly sat down. There was a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something was going to go wrong. She knew it.