24 The Smell of Grass Pt. 2 (Ze)

“Listen up. This is important and I’m not a big fan of repeating myself.”

Me and seven other Mercenaries stand at attention as our employer delves out intel. The Merc in Black standing to my far left in Parade Rest; while, the others shimmy in place waiting for intel.

I stood where I was.

“Hopefully this mission is just in and out,” muttered a merc to my left.

It was a woman of Asian descent who was covered head-to-toe in cameo body armor. Not to my surprise really. Especially, when it comes to these high-end jobs.

Slight murmurs could be heard from two more mercs in the line. The other mercs began twiddling with their equipment. Clearly, they were itching for action.

“Alright,” our employer echoed, “it’s time to get down to buisness. This intel is to be kept confidential. Under no circumstances is it to be leaked. Failure to do so will end in….. well I hope your affairs are in order.”

Everyone went quiet as our employer began intel. Our employer shuffled in his place. He looked nervous to be here.

He was a pudgy man extremely skin. He was damn near translucent.

“Most likely from living in this environment,” I thought inside my head.

He was bald with a long black beard. The beard was well conditioned and had a beautiful glisten to it. Also, It was well trimmed.

I examined him for any augmentation. He, of course, had some. Everyone did, also including me. His eyes had been “nanized”. Meaning they had been replaced with nanotechnology to adapt with the technology around him. He would be able to control anything that conduct electricity just by looking at. No doubt a unique trick.

If his eyes were upgraded. That more than likely means that his entire nervous system was as well. More than likely to enhance his sense.

I looked at his clothes. He wore a simple black trench coat and all black outer shirt with black straight pants. It was, indeed simple wear, but the clothes were very much expensive. I could easily tell just by the fabric alone. This man had money.

There was something different about him, though. Something strange that I couldn’t put my finger on.

“Listen to yourself,” I thought, “Everything is strange. When was the last time you saw something normal.”

Which was true. I’ve traveled to a lot of places and every time I did my definition of normal was stretched thin.

However, something was still odd about him. He gave off a certain energy. It definitely was not good.

“Firstly, I think it would be only right if I first introduced myself,” he started, “My name Mr. Obelisk and welcome to Rapture.”

He lazily gestured aimlessly in all directions. Me and the other mercs glanced at one another. Some even began to laugh. All except the one in black. He stood stiff as a statue. His focus was completely on Obelisk.

“Alright, alright,” Obelisk continued, “The operation in itself is simple. The objective is to secure the perimeter of Rapture for a rare specimen that has recently been found within Rapture. It is to be marked extremely dangerous. An engagement with the specimen should be taken with extreme caution. Anything less is inexcusable.”

I glare at Obelisk…. Curiously.

“Rare specimen?” I asked.

Obelisk glared at me. Then, he took in a deep sigh. I watched as he dwipe his brow of sweat.

“Odd,” I thought, “It’s damn near below zero.”

“A couple of hours ago, we lost something extremely valuable. One of our Feelers was on her way to pick up a package when she stumbled upon a rare specimen. Something I haven’t seen in a LONG time,” stopped to lick his lips, slowly.

A chill of discomfort ran down my spine. I didn’t like the way he licked his lips. His demeanor changed.

Obelisk was a big man with a near perfect posture. However, after that last statement he “shrunk”. It was almost as if he were trying to hide some impossible urge within. Something dark and sinister beneath.

“What was it?” asked the Asian woman.

Obelisk regrouped himself.

“My apologies,” he began, “she stumbled upon a man. Not just any man kind of man. She stumbled upon a “clean slate”. A completely and utterly normal human man. No augmentation. No magical lobotomy. No nothing. A completely normal and potential powerful livestock.”

I was shocked….. and confused. A fully conscious, unagumented, living, and breathing human man. There shouldn’t be any left existing. This has to be a joke.

“There shouldn’t be any left,” I spoke up.

There shouldn’t be. Especially, after the “War”. The war that nearly wiped all life on earth. There were too few of the human race to populate a proper gene pool.

They couldn’t exist unless they mated with the other humanoids. Vampires, werewolves, and/or anything that had a similar set of reproductive organs. Besides, the ones that WERE left had been stripped. Completely robbed of there magical potential and brainwashed into subjugated fear. This doesn’t make sense.

Obelisk took in a deep.

“I know its confusing and hard to believe. Trust me, I know. However, he is the real deal. I need him captured alive. He needs to be brought to the Farm.”

We watched as Obelisk walked back to his convoy aka the death trap on wheels. He open the door to the passenger seat and turned back to address us.

“Rapture used to be a National Park for the new residence that visited this sector. Obviously, it’s now run down to shit and people are scared to come here. High Chancellor Janice doesn’t believe in coming to this side of town. Mainly, because she given up on it. Meaning that this entire area is ours.”

Obelisk was now in the convoy. However, he still had the door open. His head peeking out. He was still eyeing us.

“The clearing connects the entire park together. A map will be sent to your displays, shortly,” he continued, “Don’t be fooled. The moon may be up, but trust me it’s still midday. The moon doesn’t set here. Bring him back to the Farm in under 24 hours at this time. No more than that. Do that and you all will be rewarded exponentially.”

Obelisk slammed the door to the Convoy.

“May you have a plentiful hunt,” he bellowed.

The convoy roared to life. Some of us steeped out of the way as the convoy kicked up dust. We watched as it disappeared down the dirt road that originally came down and into the thick foliage beyond.

I looked at the other mercenaries. They all looked at each other, also. They were just as confused as I was.

The Merc in Black approached me. His eyes still focused on the now gone convoy.

“What do you think?” he asked. His synthetic voice rough in the frigid air.

I looked at him. His bright red beam from his mask now trained on me.

I told him the truth.

“I don’t like this,” I stated, “There is too much he isn’t telling us.”

“That’s a fucking understatement,” cried the Asian woman.

She was flustered. I don’t blame her. Something about this didn’t sit right.

“Where did that Feeler find that “pig”,” questioned another merc.

“And if he’s just a regular man, then why hire us,” I chimed, “He already has hired gunmen in this area patrolling around. He shouldn’t need all of us for just one man. It shouldn’t matter if he has magic or not. He’s still one human man.”

“Plus, if you did need us why dump us out here in the middle of this clearing,” the merc in black followed up, “I performed an area scan of the clearing and I’m not getting any reading of organic life. Not even in the water.”

We all look at Black. Our minds scrambled. No clues, no leads, and 24 hours to figure it out. I took in a deep breath.

“Holo Update!” Out of nowhere, Evelyn’s voice rang through my head.

“Show me what you got,” I thought back.

Instantly, a Hologram of the entirety of Rapture was brought up before me.

“Jesus,” the Asian woman muttered.

That would be an understatement. Rapture was huge.

“No,” I thought, “Huge wasn’t the right word. Whatever came after that was more fitting.”

I looked at Black. He didn’t say anything as he stared at his map.

“Well shit,” I thought. “This can’t get any worse.”

I should have known. I should have known better to assume. I’ve been in this business long enough to know. Things were always going to get worse before they got better. Unfortunately for me, I was going to find out the hard way.

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