Six Months Later…
A formal invitation to a meeting from the United Nations was not something Alexius Raptis had been expecting a few days ago. That was the reason he was on his way to Northern Greece, something about putting his skills to the test. He had flown from Athens to see what this was all about.
The bus ride went to the northern plains of Greece, geographically speaking to an area in Macedonia that was from the looks of it completely devoid of human habitation and evidence of construction work. In the middle of this plain was a twin engine jet and a man in a dark suit and tie standing nearby.
The bus dropped off the Corporal not too far from the jet along with his bags, and without issue he carried both bags to the jet. 'Assuming he's here to pick me up, better ask first.'
As the soldier approached, the man in the dark violet suit addressed him first, "Corporal Alexius Raptis, I presume?"
Alexius nodded once to confirmed it. "That's me, and you are?"
"Romulus Reuben, United Nations liaison to Project Argo. You're the last to arrive Corporal, and we're running late. Follow me."
'Wearing that suit I thought he was a spook,' Alexius thought half-jokingly, referring to what the Americans call members of their Central Intelligence Agency. He had experience dealing with suits being secretive, and it annoyed him to no end. Alexius held onto his bags and went towards the jet, but the engines already started to rev-up and he had to get clear to avoid its wings.
Confused Alexius shouted to Reuben to try and speak over the roar of the engines, "We're not getting on the jet?"
Reuben shook his head, "That was my ride here, and where we are going flying isn't possible."
Not knowing if he had heard him or not Alexius tried to ask him again, but as the first word left his mouth he had to switch gears and ask another appropriate question, though the sound of machinery made him lose that too.
A small structure came out of the ground, made of metal and the size of a shed, and its doors opened for the two men.
Alexius was a little skeptical about it but Reuben motioned him towards it, "Let's go Corporal." Reuben stepped into the structure without hesitation, and Alexius was able to join him before the doors closed.
As soon as the doors were shut the feeling that went through Alexius' legs felt like they were in an elevator, and they were going down.
Reuben didn't seem perturbed. "Corporal Alexius Raptis, born in Athens Greece from an American mother and Greek father, joined the army at age eighteen and eventually made it to Corporal. Fought in the Afghanistan Wars as well as Operation Enduring Freedom and the subsequent armed conflicts in the Middle East. Your file read that you have received many citations and commendations, mostly for valor in the face of the enemy. That alone is impressive, and that is why you were chosen for this project."
Having heard his superiors praise his past record Alexius didn't like hearing it repeatedly. He had other things on his mind this time. Like where the heck were they going, but he wanted to keep the pace to his liking. He believed he'd get to the more important answers eventually. "I was offered a transfer to this operation after I was injured in Iraq. I don't think I'm anything special."
"That's not what my superiors believe. They think you have potential in this particular field, though only time will tell," Reuben replied.
"How many other people are here?"
"What makes you ask that?"
"If this is some military operation sponsored by the U.N. they would not just have some random joe participate alone. I'm not the only candidate, I can't be."
Though Alexius didn't see it, Reuben smiled. 'The kid is smarter than I took him for.' "That's right. A few others are here to see if they have what it takes to be a part of this operation."
The elevator kept going down for a few more minutes until it came to a stop.
Reuben opened the door by pressing a button, and from there Alexius saw the suit wasn't lying.
A few dozen other people, all the same age or older than Alexius were standing on a metal platform. Ethnicity was diverse, most of them were men but there were quite a few women as well, all of them wearing military uniforms of varying military branches. Army, Navy, Air Force, and most likely secret combat operatives, which made up the whole variety. As he walked through the crowd Alexius could make out army uniforms of American, British, French, German, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese among others. He didn't notice anyone he recognized, though he did catch one woman wearing a patch of the Greek flag on her right shoulder, but he didn't recognize her.
All of them were either looking around the room or speaking with each other.
A minor screech was heard and an alarm went off as a large cargo door opened. Once it reached the top the soldiers all saw a man in a dark violet suit with a thick white mustache take a step forward.
Reuben went past the soldiers and stood next to the older man as he stood with his hands behind his back. "Attention, Commander Ambrose Richard Clarke has arrived!"
Alexius set his bags down and everyone stood at attention like the professionals that they were.
The Commander stepped forward, and if he was pleased to see what he saw Alexius couldn't see it, and he was pretty good for reading people's body language.
"At ease, soldiers."
No one really relaxed, standing firm but heads held high and eyes forward.
"As you have been told, I am Ambrose Clarke and I am the Commander of Operation Argo. Before I give you the tour of this facility as well as explain why you are here I have just one thing to say: the moment you step into the facility nothing leaves here without my approval. What you do, say, or learn from here is strictly confidential and above top secret."
No one spoke a word, which is what they were trained to do. Never ask questions and keep your head on a swivel.
The Commander seemed satisfied and he turned to the door behind him, "Follow me."