True or Real
Chapter 1: Holding My Breath
I shifted my position for what seamed like the hundredth time—it was a little uncomfortable lying on your stomach on a grassy hill. I readjusted my jungle green outfit… again. Leaning forward on the tips of elbows, I positioned my 50-caliber. I closed my left eye, and with my right eye I looked through the hole of the scope. Through it, I could see the balcony of the mansion about 300 meters away.
There was no way anyone would be able to spot me hidden among the green brush. Especially from this far away. It was an easy shot.
I turned the barrel of the gun to the left, sweeping the balcony for any patrols. Yes, there were a few guards stationed, as I had been told. Magnifying the scope, I could see the navy uniforms on the guards, and could almost, almost, see the numbers engraved on the hilts of their guns. (I think the one guy's serial number was 86-75309, but I'm not totally sure) The guards were positioned on the left and right of the two people having a conversation on a little patio set.
Methodically, I pulled out a single bullet from my pocket and loaded it into the sniper rifle. I would only need one bullet, if I needed any more, then the mission would be deemed a complete failure. I focused on the two men conversing on the sunny balcony. They were both wearing suits and sipping what I assumed was vodka. I didn't know what they were talking about, but it had to be about the deal they were supposed to be making. I looked to the right, and focused on the guy wearing a gray suit. He was a middle-aged man with dark hair and matching eyes— Alexi Rutchovski, a man known for dealing with and making of illegal drugs and selling them to the street lords.
The man on the left, well, that would be explained later.
Alexi took another sip of his alcohol.
It was time to make things a little more interesting.
I took a deep breath and peered through the scope of my gun. I placed the cross-hairs over Alexi and zoomed in further, so far that I could see the sweat droplets forming on his forehead. He turned to his right, giving me a perfect target over his temple. Ever so carefully, I held my gun tightly, my index finger ready on the trigger. It had to be dead-on.
I prayed with everything in me that I would be allowed to relieve myself afterward, because I seriously had to pee.
Afraid that my lungs my burst from lack of oxygen if I didn't shoot soon, I flexed my finger, pulling the trigger, and releasing the bullet. A deafening boom sounded a few seconds after the pulling of the trigger as the bullet traveled the 300 meters to Alexi's temple. I hurriedly looked through the scope again and saw that my aim had been accurate. Alexi's head was now slumped, red dripping down his neck. The man he was chatting with stood up quickly, obviously afraid. He motioned to his guards and right away was escorted inside.
I pulled away from the gun, and began packing up my supplies. It was time to flee.
What I didn't see was the guards return to the balcony, their firearms pointed in my general direction.
Bullets grazed the forest floor near my feet, causing me to jump. I grabbed my gun, slipping it into my pack in one swift move, then slung it over my shoulder and ran for safety. But I hadn't been fast enough—a bullet embedded into my forearm sending a shot of pain though me. I sprinted through the dense jungle, ignoring the pain and the guards' decreasing fire as I traveled further into the trees.
But I didn't stop running when their fire had stopped.
I skillfully wove between the lengthy trees, careful not to trip on any unseen roots. I could hear the loud thrumming of a helicopter's wings. I didn't stop running even when I got to the clearing. I exerted the last amount of energy I had and ran for the helicopter that waited for me. I could see Braiden already there, his hand waiting to help me up into the cockpit. Once I got to the bottom of the stairs, he helped me up, his strong arms supporting my waist. He put me up and over and placed me on the seat inside. As soon as my bottom had touched the seat, the stairs folded together and swung back into place and the helicopter took off.
Braiden handed me a headset and spoke to me through it.
"Cutting it a little close, aren't we?" He said with an edge in his voice.
I rolled my eyes. "I made the shot, didn't I?"
"Yes, but it could've been done quicker."
"What does it matter? Alexi is dead, that's all that really matters."
He shook his head, his dark brown eyes reaching mine. "We'll talk about this later. Daniels wants to hear our full report."
I acknowledged this and looked out the tiny square window in the cockpit. The helicopter traveled higher and higher, above the canopy of the jade forest. Once at the correct elevation, it moved forward towards base.
Maybe Braiden is right, maybe I did wait a little long for that shot. I shrugged to myself, it was really all up to Daniels.
He was silent on the rest of the ride, which was somewhat unusual for him. Usually he was bubbly, chatty and even cocky. Well, mostly cocky. That was Braiden Peters for you.
I've known the blonde-haired guy for most of my life. Well, actually, I don't remember not knowing him. He had always been in my life. Heather and Braiden do this, Heather and Braiden do that, and such. We had been made a team for as long as I can recall.
In about twenty minutes, the helicopter made it to base. Base Headquarters—a suiting name, really— was located in various places around the world. Washington D.C., Moscow, Beijing, Paris, you name it, and there's probably a HQ nearby.
The HQ came into view, a large building with numerous amounts of floors. It only had a few visible windows; there was rumoured to be thousands by the unseen eye. It had a winding garden that led to its front double doors. We were in the heart of the Black Forest, so this headquarters was keenly hidden from the lurking public. If you didn't know any better, you would think it was a university. Which it was… in a way.
The upscale HQ came up before us, and our helicopter landed on the pad on the roof. When the helicopter safely touched down on the giant 'H' painted on the roof and the staircase unfolded, we exited the vehicle. 'We' being Braiden, me and the pilot, Charles. At least, that's what we had been told his name was. You could never be too sure in this business though.
Braiden and I fell in step together as we walked across the roof to the door that led inside. Upon opening the steel door, we went down a spiralling staircase until we were well inside the HQ. We traveled to the heart of the building, where Daniels—our boss was.
We passed several people in the corridors who gave us appropriate nods. Braiden didn't seem to be regarding me at all anymore, which made me wonder what I had done to make him so uptight.
He suddenly halted in the hallway and turned to look at me. "Your arm," he said, "We should take you to Medical."
Somewhat shocked by his sudden change in emotions, I said, "It's fine, really."
Braiden held my gaze for a moment longer then continued the path to Daniels. On our route we passed by the Housing Wing, where sleek-looking silver doors surrounded us on both sides of the hallway. Behind each door was a typical housing unit where other members of faculty could be privately.
I shifted my attention to Braiden again and his peculiar behaviour. What had changed between now and before the mission? He had acted fine before we began the mission—he had been teasing and joking around with me. Now, now he was just serious and concerned. Almost a little too concerned for my liking, it made me feel…. weird. I could see his tense shoulders beneath his black jumpsuit that hugged his muscular body. Was he nervous about our report for Daniels? Only because I had been 'cutting it a little close this time?'
I almost sighed aloud, but kept my face impasse and focused on the task ahead. At the end of the Housing Wing, we took a left turn entering—surprise!—another hallway. At the end of this even longer hallway, were we at our destination. Braiden stepped forward to the steel gray door and placed a hand on the ID Pad. I stepped forward too, and placed my hand next to his. Once the pad had read our hand prints, a voice came from the speaker, saying "Access Granted, welcome Agents Peters and Mathews."
The gray door lifted upwards, as if sucked up by an invisible force. We walked through the short passage that led to the main room. Respectfully and purposefully, we strode into the room, and stopped before the end of a long conference table. The room was empty; no one was sitting in any of the chairs surrounding the table. Monitors beeped and shifted around us that were placed on the walls. I kept my face blank as we waited for the main screen to blink to life.
But it didn't. It stayed completely black.
Across from us at the other end of the table, a chair turned around revealing a middle-aged woman with dark hair and piercing emerald green eyes. She gave us a calculating look, taking in our appearances. I stiffened at her sudden appearance and placed my hands behind my back and squared my shoulders. Braiden followed suit, keeping his cool better than I had, by saying, "Professor Daniels, we are surprised to see you. Actually here."
Daniels stood up, acknowledging that Braiden had spoken. "I myself am surprised too." He voice was cold and detached from emotion "But I had some business to attend to here, so I was able to actually meet you two in person." She resumed her serious look. "And now for your report?"
Her question was aimed at me, so I replied. "Target has been neutralized, Professor Daniels."
"Good, good. Now why do I sense that something is missing from that statement?" She arched her eyebrow and looked at Braiden.
"Because there is," Braiden intervened. "Agent Mathews took approximately 7.3 minutes to eliminate the target."
I took a quick glance at Braiden to my right, angry at him for ratting me out like this. Yes, I had figured Daniels would find out about it sooner or later, but it was really up to her to decide what was considered risky or not.
"I see. And you feel this was an inappropriate length of time, Agent Peters?"
My heart sank lower into my chest at that one. What was he trying to accomplish here? Making me look like an amateur in front of the Professor? After this he was going to get it from me.
"This is very interesting. I know where you are coming from, Agent Peters. Agent Mathews could have easily been compromised in her hesitant timing. However, since she got a perfect and accurate shot by that waiting, I feel she did the correct thing. Alexi was neutralized, and…" She pondered what she was going to say "….he didn't even see it coming."
She let her words hang in the air a moment, then continued. "You two did well. Rest up and I will call you in a more appropriate time. Agent Peters, you are dismissed. Agent Mathews, a word with you please."
Braiden nodded, his blue eyes flicking to mine for only a second. What was there underlying his intense gaze? Fear? Did I detect fear in the supposed fearless agent? Before I could read any further into his gaze, he turned on his heel and exited the room.
A nervous feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't necessarily a good thing that Daniels wanted to speak to me after our final report. I held my breath for the second time today.
"You did an excellent job, Agent Mathews. The mission isn't of my concern. What is of my concern, is Agent Peters. He seemed off today, any thoughts on the matter?"
I released my breath, secretly glad I hadn't done anything to upset the Professor. I kept my eyes on Daniels, not wanting them to wander while I was thinking. Why did she think I would know about his recent moodiness? I shrugged off the question, and focused on the professor.
"I apologise, I am not of the knowledge, Professor."
She nodded, her dark waves bouncing. "That is okay. But when you have a clue as to why he is behaving… like this, please, don't hesitate to find me."
"You are dismissed."
I gave the professor a slight nod, then turned and retreated down the short passageway. I placed my hand on the pad, and the door silently whooshed open, closing behind me.
Hi guys! Curlysquirt95 here trying for an Adventure/Romance kind of story. :)
I'm always open to constructive criticism, so don't hesitate to offer some suggestions. I hope you guys liked this first chapter, please leave me a review! :)
Thank you to my amazing beta reader, I-am-happy! :)