Sarah was planting one of the devices under one of the jeeps near the heliport when she heard a light tapping, that quickly began to grow heavier. She looked out to see that it had started to rain.
Good thing I planted the charges on the undersides, she thought before finishing setting up the device.
She was about to pull up the next location when she heard heavy footfalls quickly approaching. Two of the guards quickly hopped into the jeep and started it up. Wanting to avoid being caught, Sarah held on to the underside of the jeep as it started moving.
At least I can stay dry under here, she mused.
She couldn't hear the guard properly over the engine, but she could definitely hear something about the prison area. She worried Jessica had been caught, but figured she might be able to help her out if she had.
The jeep headed down the slope to the prison area and came to a stop near the gate. A couple of other guards approached as the engine was shut off, allowing Sarah to eavesdrop on the conversation.
"What's going on?" one of the jeep men asked.
"We found her in the cages, obviously trying to free one of them," a woman from the prison area explained. "But she's... in some sort of trance."
"Probably one of the sleepers," said the other jeep man.
"Sleepers?" the prison guard asked, confused.
"Obey orders," the first man said. "Return to the barracks and go to sleep. Forget this ever happened."
"Yes, sir," the woman replied in a very flat tone. "I shall obey."
As the woman left, the two men walked through the gate and investigated the intruder.
Even when she lowered herself to the ground, Sarah couldn't see or hear them. Taking her chances, she quickly crawled out from under the jeep and snuck behind some nearby crates just as the two men returned to the jeep with two prisoners.
"What should we do with them?" one of the men asked.
"Must report to the General," said a voice that was unmistakeably Angela.
"You heard her," the other man replied. "She has to go see the General. But keep an eye out. She probably didn't come here alone."
Sarah peeked out from around the crates as the jeep headed off in the direction of the admin building. Wondering why the hell Angela had been at the prison area, Jessica's intended area, Sarah got on the radio to find out.
"King, this is Queen. We have a situation."
"Little busy right now," came the strained reply from the other end.
* * *
Jessica grabbed one of the guards, the one who had seen her, and threw him had against the wall, knocking him out cold. The fight was over but others had heard the commotion and were coming to investigate. She quickly ducked behind one of the generators and observed as three more guards entered the area.
They found the body pretty quickly and Jessica knew she'd have to fight them to escape since there was only one way out of the area. She closed her eyes and listened. One of them was approaching. She waited at the corner of the generator and waited for the right moment.
Jessica grabbed the guard and pulled them fiercely around the corner, shoving him up against the generator and choking him. Another guard heard this and moved in. Just as he caught sight of her, Jessica threw the first guard into the second, knocking both off their feet. She rushed in and punched the second one hard in the face, hitting his head against the floor and knocking him out.
She just about finished choking the first guard unconscious when the third guard saw her and took aim. Not giving his gunfire a chance to attract more guards, Jessica threw the second guard's sidearm at him, distracting him long enough for her to get in close, lift him into the air and slam him onto the floor. She quickly grabbed his rifle and hit him in the face with it.
After taking a moment to catch her breath, Jessica began searching the four bodies as she contacted Sarah.
"Queen, this is King. The situation's been resolved."
"Oh, thank God," Sarah replied in relief. "What happened?"
"Got found by some guards, but they're all out of commission now."
"Good to hear. But we have a problem. Jack's been captured."
"Some of the guards found her in a trance at the prison area and took her and another prisoner in the direction of the admin building. She said she had to report to the General and report the intruders."
"Crap. I'm just outside the conditioning area, but I'm looking for a- hello." Jessica held up a key card the man she'd choked out had been carrying. "I think I've found it. How close are you to the admin building?"
"I'm almost at the heliport now," Sarah reported as she peered out from around the corner of a small building near the heliport. "Most of the vehicles have been taken care of. All the AA guns too. Not seen the tank or the APC yet though."
"Must be inside the gate."
"That's what I was thinking."
"What about the anti-magic barrier?"
"Not come across it yet. Priority?"
Jessica bit her lip as she weighed their options. On the one hand, if Sarah went for Angela first and was seen, they'd have to escape under intense fire from the tank and have to exfil via one of the choppers. However, if she went for the tank or the generator to ensure a safer getaway, Angela would likely report their presence and plans to the General, allowing the enemy to cut off their escape routes and negate Sarah's sabotage.
"Go after Jack. Get her out of there and meet me at backup point Alpha." Just in case one of them was compromised, each pair had secretly chosen a backup exfiltration point, as well as an individual point in case two of them were compromised, in addition to a personal backup vehicle. Backup point Alpha was a small cave near the prison area. Once there, Jessica would call her personal backup vehicle, an automated motorboat, to pick them up and get them out of there.
"Roger. Good luck, King."
"You too, Queen."
* * *
Sarah took note of a small shack nearby that she hoped might house some equipment. She quickly, but quietly, made her way over and picked the lock. Once inside, she found that it was indeed intended to house weapons and equipment, though most of it had been taken. The only things that weren't lethal were some smoke grenades and flash bangs. She picked a few up, along with some explosive charges and snuck back out. She planted the charges on the side of the shack and broke a nearby gas valve before hurrying on to a nearby door that could get her to the side of the admin building. After avoiding the sole sentry, she scaled the wall of a small building beside the admin building and climbed in through a window.
Once inside, she found that she was in some kind of meeting room with a long marble table in the centre. She snuck into the hall and found it odd that there were no guards patrolling. After ascending a flight of stairs to the next floor, she took note of the signs on the doors and saw one labelled 'General's Office'. As she quietly approached, she could just about make out some voices inside.
"And what's your name, my little intruder," came an unfamiliar husky voice.
"My name is Angela Parker," Angela replied lifelessly, confirming that she was indeed in a trance.
"Ah, yes, I remember you now," the other voice replied. "Then this young lady must be your sister."
"Yes, she is my sister, Lucy."
"I can see the resemblance. So, you thought you'd broken free of your conditioning and came here to free your sister?"
"I came here with-"
Before Angela could finish her explanation, Sarah detonated the explosives, destroying the small weapon shack and diverting the guards' attention. She ducked into another nearby room and watched as the two guards left the room, one to investigate the explosion, and one to patrol the hall and ensure no one could get to the General.
Seeing that her distraction wasn't going to get the General to budge, Sarah had no choice but to knock the guard out and kick the door in.
* * *
After hiding the bodies and using the key card, Jessica was in. She was in a small control room with the computer equipment she'd seen earlier across from the door. To either side were doors leading into two other rooms. One was clearly the conditioning room, given the evil dentist chair in the centre and all the speakers and monitors around it. The second was more curious. It was a room with a large window, like an observation room alongside an interrogation room. But the room she was in had a very clear view of the conditioning room. She noticed that the second room had its own chair inside, facing the window.
"They make them watch," she realised. "They make them watch as their friends submit to break down their will. That's just sick."
Jessica kicked the door to the conditioning room open and stormed up to the chair, determined to rip the damn thing out of the floor and smash that goddamn window when she gripped the chair's arms. As she did so, suppressed memories began flooding into the centre of her mind, overwhelming her with images of her time here, of herself being drugged and dragged here, of being strapped into the chair and forced to watch and listen and submit, being locked in a cage like a cow, brought back in to enforce her conditioning, being back in the cage, back in the chair, the cage, the chair, the cage the chair the cage the chair and a boat, as she was shipped back home with her conditioning completed and forgotten, hidden beneath the surface until she was triggered by someone, but she wasn't sure who. Then meeting Jake and being allowed to move into his home, despite everything she'd done.
Jessica released her grip and sat on the floor, hyperventilating as her mind worked to register everything that had happened. Her anger was gone, replaced by fear. Fear for herself for what had happened to her, and also for everyone she knew would have to go through what she did if she failed.
Restraining herself, she took out her camera and snapped a few pictures of the chair, the observation room, and the control room. She snuck back out the door just as an explosion rocked the area.
Suspecting something had gone wrong, Jessica was about to contact Sarah when the guards from earlier started to stir. She quickly left the area, avoiding the guards who passed on their way to investigate the blast. Deciding it was best to find a quiet spot first, she headed back toward the secret hatch, though she had to take a detour to avoid some guards.
The detour took her a little deeper into the tunnels, though it worked to her advantage when she found a small room, guarded by three sentries. Seeing no way past them, she threw a flash bang she'd recovered from a supply room earlier, and rushed the three while they were blind. Once they were out, she slowly opened the door and smiled as she saw an eerie blue light emanating from the Anti-Magic Barrier Generator.
* * *
Jessica climbed out of the hatch and closed it after making sure no one had seen her. She surveyed the area and found that only one guard remained in the area, on the opposite side of the prison. If she stayed low and quiet, she could stay perpetually on the opposite side as the guard made his exterior patrol.
"Queen, this is King. I've completed my objective. What's your status?"
"Jessica... have Angela... meet at... Alpha..." said Sarah through heavy static. The enemy were likely trying to jam their signal after the explosion.
"Okay, I'll see you there."
Jessica was quick to pass along the rock face towards the meeting point. She arrived to find Sarah and Angela waiting for her, both with their balaclavas off.
"Good, you're both here. I got worried when things started exploding. You both okay?"
Both women looked up at Jessica and even in the low light, she could see they their eyes were glazed over.
"A trap," Jessica muttered, stealing quick glances around the area to make sure they weren't being observed.
Sarah was first to make a move, rushing in and trying to punch Jessica, who caught her fist, but was pushed back by the cyborg's intense strength. Jessica knew this was a distraction and threw Sarah's fist to the side just in time to hit Angela in the face and knock her off her feet.
Sarah recovered quickly and delivered a roundhouse kick that Jessica couldn't block, but she was able to grab the leg to keep Sarah from regaining her footing. Her own feet still fully useable, Jessica delivered a quick sweep to Sarah's other leg, knocking her flat on her back.
By now, Angela had recovered and moved in. She threw a punch with her right hand, which Jessica blocked, before throwing another with her left. Jessica caught this one as well and delivered a swift headbutt to her entranced friend, staggering her. Sarah went for a clothesline, which Jessica caught with both arms, and used Sarah's momentum to spin her around and send her flying into Angela, knocking both down.
"Sarah, Angie, you can fight this!" she urged.
Jessica turned as she heard slow, condescending clapping coming from behind her.
"Bravo, Second Lieutenant, bravo," said the woman in the general's uniform as she approached with a smile plastered over her smug face. She was an older woman, hair white as snow with matching eyes. Or rather matching eye. The left eye was covered by a black eye patch, a deep crimson scar extending downwards from under it, with a smaller second scar crossing over the first on her cheek.
"General Stenson," Jessica growled, vivid images of the General's smirking face appearing in those twisted memories of her conditioning.
"So you're the ringleader of this little operation, hm? The failed sleeper, who not only let her target escape, but also allowed herself to fall under his sway, move in with him, and completely forget all about her mission for three months. You're such a disappointment. I had high hopes for you, given your abilities. But you're not even worthy of being my attack dog. Ladies, kill her."
"Kill...?" Sarah muttered as she got to her feet. "Kill... Jessica...?"
"Still resisting, hm? And what about you, Parker?"
"Can't... kill..." Angela struggled.
"Fine," the General sighed, pulling out a remote and pushing a button, causing it to emit the same sound that had been Jessica's trigger. Though it no longer affected her, Sarah and Angela immediately stood at attention like robots. "There, that's better. Kill her."
"Yes, Ma'am," the pair replied before moving in on the tired Jessica. Her friends were so deeply under the General's thrall, they were willing to obey and kill her. This stunned Jessica, giving her friends the chance to get in close and keep her restrained as Sarah pulled her fist back and threw it forward right into Jessica's face.
"Very good," the General congratulated. "Now, dispose of her and we'll get you two fully inducted into our operation."
Angela moved slowly over to Jessica's head and lifted her by the shoulders. Sarah, however, remained where she was, clutching her head in agony.
"Still resisting? Tch, fine. If you won't obey that, obey this: sleep."
Sarah immediately collapsed like a ragdoll as Angela continued to hesitantly obey, lifting up the limp form of her friend and dragging her to the edge of the cliff, before throwing her off into the dark water below. The fall was two metres at the most, and she wasn't likely to hit any rocks, but she wasn't likely to wake up before water filled her lungs.
Angela began to scream from the horror of what she had just done. General Stenson gave her a sleep command and she collapsed just as Sarah had. She then had the two dumped into a jeep and taken inside for 're-education'.
* * *
Jessica's body sank like a rock into the frigid depths. Her body would have gasped for air, had a hand not grabbed her and pulled her back toward the surface.
Jessica's eyes slowly opened some time later, her nose sore, possibly broken, from that punch from earlier. She turned her head, one of the few actions that didn't cause pain, to see she was lying beside a fire inside some cold, dark place.
"You're awake," said a deep, clearly modulated voice. She looked up to see a figure clad in black armour stood nearby. As her vision properly focused, she realised that was just a silhouette; the armour was actually blue. Despite the difference in colour, his identity was obvious.
"Captain Anime?" Jessica asked in confusion as she tried to sit up.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," the hero said, pushing Jessica back down gently. "We're safe here. Inside the cave near where you fell into the water, far from anyone else's gaze."
"I was hoping you might be able to tell me actually. I was on my way here after hearing some rumours about this place. I approached with this new aquatic armour that I'll probably never use again, when the suit's sensors picked you up sinking into the ocean. I dragged you up here and got a fire going to warm you up and then you woke up about ten minutes later."
"Thanks," Jessica replied, her mind swirling, unable to properly think of anything else to say.
"Don't mention it. Now, I assume an experienced soldier like yourself didn't come here to take this place down on your own."
Jessica's eyes shot up and she bolted upright. "Sar-OW!"
"I told you not to sit up," Cap said, pushing her down more firmly. "You've been through a lot and you're hurting. Keep a cool head, tell me what happened and we can try and do something about it."
"O-Okay," Jessica replied, blushing a little at how powerless and submissive she felt. "I came here with two others, a cop and another soldier."
"She's the best in the force. And I trust her completely. You know her too. She's the one who's adamant about arresting you."
"Oh, the cyborg."
"Yeah. They both got caught and they're under their control. They were resisting though, so they're most likely not brainwashed yet. We can save them!"
"Okay, okay, just calm down. We'll save them. Tell me everything you know about the base and how your mission had gone until you got dumped in the ocean."
Jessica spent a few minutes detailing the base's layout and how the mission had gone. Although she couldn't see his face, Jessica could feel that the man was listening intently the entire time, and that helped put her mind at ease.
"Okay then," he said once she was finished. "I think we need to get that field down so your genie friend can get us out. What about the charges?"
"The remote's in my pack," Jessica replied.
Cap took the pack from nearby and pulled the control out. He scanned it with some device on his wrist before shaking his head. "We're not getting this dry any time soon. Thing's saturated."
"We'll have to try something else then."
"I can detonate it myself if I can get the right frequency. You didn't tell the others you'd planted the charge, right?"
"Right." Jessica slowly sat up, feeling less pained, though it could have just been the numbness from the cold.
"Then I can go find it and scan it, assuming they've not found the thing by themselves yet. What about your evidence?"
"The camera. It's on an SD card, so it should be fine even if the camera isn't."
Cap scanned the camera, finding that it was as far gone as the remote. He removed the SD card and inserted it into a port in his gauntlet. Unseen by Jessica, the pictures began to display on the heads up display inside the helmet.
"The pictures are okay," he finally said.
Jessica let out a deep sigh and began rubbing her legs by the fire to warm them up some more. It was now that she realised she was wearing the uniform of one of the guards. She'd have said something if not for the fact that her own clothes would have been completely soaked. These clothes were going to get wet anyway with the rain, but she decided to let it slide this time since he wasn't being weird about it and it was probably the best choice in this situation. "You think that'll be enough to get this place looked into?"
"Shut down and probably burned too," the hero replied.
"Good. All we need is to save the others and take out the generator then."
"I take it your friend needs us all in a group then?"
"I have... experience with this sort of thing.” The line ‘I've had extensive training -- the kind that's indistinguishable from the real thing’ played through his mind as he said this.
"Good. Then can I count on you to get that frequency while I go after the others?"
"You sure you're up for that? You seem pretty beat."
"Pain is nothing. I can deal with it."
Concerned, Jake crouched down and placed his hand on Jessica's shoulder. Jessica found herself feeling really good, almost sleepy, as his hand started to glow. "I want you to listen closely. Until our mission is complete, you will not feel any of this pain. Any new pain will be felt, but diminished. The pain you currently feel though, will go completely unnoticed. You will also not take any serious risks and you will properly think out your actions before you take them. I'm sure you do that already but I just want to be sure. Do you understand?"
"I-I'm not Jake..."
"Really... You feel just like him..."
"I-I'm sure it's just a coincidence."
"Yeah... Coincidence..." She fell back into his arms and lay there a while. Somehow, Jake didn't want to let her go, but he knew he must. He gently pushed her away and stood up. Once contact was broken, Jessica's mind cleared and she noticed she wasn’t in pain anymore. "Wow. I feel great. So you do know hypnosis then?"
"I suspected as much after the Black Cat gang leaders showed up in a trance."
"I didn't realise that was public knowledge."
"It's not. I was part of the team that found them after you made your 'anonymous call'."
"Huh. Guess you're just really intuitive."
"Hah! So you do think I'm pretty."
"Aww, you're so cute when you're embarrassed. I've always wanted to ask, what do you think of Sarah?"
"What do I think?"
"I don't know what you think. That's why I'm asking you."
"Anyway, enough teasing, we have some friends to save. The enemy doesn't know you're here and most likely thinks I'm dead. We can't waste this advantage."
The two were soon at the secret hatch, ready to move in.
"Okay, I'll go get the girls, you get the frequency and we'll meet back here in ten minutes," Jessica explained.
"You sure you can get to them in that time?"
"Of course I can."
"You're not going to follow that up with a qualifier?"
"Trust me, okay? I'll go save Sarah and then you two can go back to being all lovey-dovey again."
Jessica was down the ladder and out of sight before Jake could stop her.
"Geez, I knew she was a tease but not this much of a tease..."
* * *
Jessica found herself filled with a newfound energy. Whether it was from her sleep, the hypnosis or her newfound purpose, she couldn't tell. Regardless, she easily avoided the enemy sentries despite the raised alert status. She followed the tunnel leading directly to the conditioning room.
Luckily, her key card was undamaged from her little swim and she should be able to use it to open the door. After dispatching a couple of guards, she peered through the glass, just able to make out a person at the console. She quietly opened the door and entered the control room. She looked over the person's shoulder to the room on the left, where Sarah was currently sat in the chair, being prepped for readjustment. In the room on the right, Angela was being made to watch alongside the General.
Rage overtaking her, she slammed the guard's face into the control panel, knocking them out cold. She then shut down the lights in Sarah's room.
The General, taken by surprise, ordered the guard with her to keep Angela restrained while she ran out to the control panel. She found only the guard she'd station there, unconscious on the floor. She quickly turned the lights back on, only to see Jessica, standing over another unconscious guard and freeing Sarah. Two more guards entered the room on the General's orders, only to be quickly knocked out as Sarah regained her senses.
Shocked that Jessica had survived and knowing she had to fall back to a safer location, General Stenson turned and ran, calling for backup to cover her escape. Recovering fairly quickly, Sarah leapt through the reinforced glass, knocking the guard flat on his ass and knocking him out with a punch to the face.
She and Jessica untied Angela's bonds and snapped her out of her trance. "What... happened?" she asked groggily.
"They got you, but you're okay now," Jessica replied, reassuringly.
"They... got me...? Lucy! Is Lucy alright!?"
"Lucy? Lucy's here?"
"You mean her?" Sarah pointed to an entranced young woman in the corner, who Angela quickly scrambled towards and hugged tightly.
"Oh, Lucy. We're going to get you back to normal, I promise."
"How did you... survive?" Sarah asked Jess, concernedly.
"Oh, your boyfriend came and saved me," she replied jokingly. "Jealous?"
"W-What are you... Oooh!"
"We can talk about this later," Angela said, supporting Lucy with her shoulder.
"We need to go after that bitch and she'll no doubt have every soldier in the base after us."
"We just need to reach the rendezvous point. Captain Anime's meeting us there after he takes out the AMB."
"The AMB? You found it?"
"Right before your ambush, yeah. He's finishing the job now and we'll have Jen 'port us out when we meet up."
"Look sharp!" Sarah called. A group of soldiers entered the area and the two friends were quick. Within seconds, the five enemies were out cold from the pair's vicious onslaught.
"Come on, Angie!" Jess motioned for her to follow. "We'll cover you."
The trio moved quickly, fighting their way through a few dozen enemies on the way out. Realising there was no way they'd be able to get Lucy up a ladder any time soon, Jessica led the group through the tunnels, dealing with more enemies that she'd have liked, before reaching a set of stairs leading upwards. They led up to near the admin building's front gate. There was a side door near there they could use.
Once outside, most of the danger had passed. There seemed to be almost no guards in the area; a lucky break, though most definitely an omen. They moved quickly out the side door, only to be greeted by three more soldiers disembarking a jeep. Quickly stun gunning the trio, Jessica unloaded their unconscious bodies while Sarah helped Angela get Lucy in the back of the jeep.
Once all four were aboard, Jessica gunned it towards the prison area. They arrived just in time to see Captain Anime emerging from the hatch. He rushed over to the jeep as the girls were getting out.
"We're all set," he informed them.
"Good," Jessica replied. "Shut it down and I'll call Jen."
"You heard the lady, Homeshield," Jake said after turning of his helmet's external mic.
"Forwarding call to Miss Jen... and activating electric charge," the AI responded.
"Homeshield, what's going on?"
"The signal is being jammed."
"What's going on?" asked Jessica. "Jen says the field's still up."
"The signal's being jammed," he replied.
"By what?" asked Sarah.
"By me," exclaimed a voice over a loudspeaker.
The group looked in the direction the voice had come from: the ocean. The water suddenly flew into the air with great force as something emerged from the ice depths. Something huge, vaguely humanoid. It leapt right over them and landed between them and the base. It turned to face them, revealing itself to be a huge mecha, roughly the size of Lucky Lady, only this one resembled a sliver armour-clad valkyrie straight out of Norse mythology.
"Valorous Valkyrie?" Jessica uttered as the four looked up in awe as the moonlight reflected off of the mech's armour and massive sword, which it then drew.
"I've put too much into this operation to let you four punks ruin it," The General declared from inside the mech as she swung her sword downwards.
Cap shoved Sarah and Jessica out of its descent path just in time as it impacted the ground. It seemed to be stuck in the ground, allowing them time to recover.
"On your feet, soldier," Cap shouted as he helped Jessica back to her feet. "You too, Officer." The three quickly scramble into the jeep, which Angela drove back towards the base.
"What the hell do we do now!?" Cap asked, starting to panic as the mecha finished pulling its sword out of the ground and giving chase at an alarming speed.
"Calm down!" Sarah responded, slapping him in the face. "We need to get that generator offline. If we can't do it remotely, we'll have to do it in person."
"Is there an armoury nearby, Angie?" Jessica asked.
"There should be, just around here," Angela replied as she made a sharp turn around a corner.
"Good, keep her busy for me," Jessica said as she leapt from the jeep, rolled behind cover and waited for the mecha to pass over before sprinting towards the small building. The interior was deserted, though still stocked full of weapons. She took a couple of rifles, some grenades and some C4 for good measure, before sprinting back in the direction of the hatch.
* * *
"We need to find somewhere to keep Lucy safe," Angela stated, beginning to panic herself.
"Try the admin building," Sarah replied. "Find the conference room and barricade the door with the marble table. We'll keep her busy."
"Of course. To protect and serve," Sarah smiled.
Angela smiled back. "Thanks."
Angela brought the jeep to a stop outside the side entrance and dismounted. Sarah helped her get Lucy out before handing Angela a stun gun and hopping into the driver's seat.
"Good luck," Angela said.
"Yeah, you too," Sarah replied before slamming her foot down and heading back towards the mecha.
* * *
Jessica made her way quickly back to the generator room. She planted the C4 first, hoping the remote's signal wasn't jammed too. She pulled back and pushed the button. Fortunately, the signal wasn't jammed and it did detonate as she hoped. When she returned, however, she found that only a small dent had been made. Not enough. She took the grenades and planted them at the base of the generator near the dent. She kept one and pulled the pin from her safe area before throwing it inside. The blast was much bigger and Jessica's coat caught fire. After discarding it (leaving her clad in just a black tank top) and stamping out the flames, she re-entered the room to find that the armour was still holding, though just barely, even if the walls and lights were not.
She took out one of the rifles and unloaded the entire magazine into it. The dent was getting deeper. She went through all four extra mags for the first rifle, then switched to the second, going through three of those before there was finally a hole large enough to stick the gun's barrel into. She screamed as she unloaded one last mag directly inside the device.
There was an audible power surge as the device shut down and its eerie blue light flickered and died.
Jessica immediately got back in contact with Jen as she sprinted back toward the hatch.
"Jen! It's down!"
"Finally! Are you all together?"
"Not yet. But, Jen, I need you to send me something."
* * *
The sky seemed to turn less blue starting directly above them and spreading outwards, leaving the night sky its natural black.
"The barrier's down!" Cap cheered.
"Let's find Jess and get back to Angela and Lucy," Sarah responded as she made a sharp turn to avoid the mecha's sword.
"You think this is over!?" The General screamed. "You think just because you shut down the generator, you're home free!? I'll kill you all before you can set one foot off this island!"
"It's funny because she thinks we're going to walk," quipped Cap, causing Sarah to roll her eyes.
As they headed back towards the prison area once again, a massive column of pink light fell from the sky right on top of the prison area. Once the light cleared, another massive silhouette was stood waiting. As it stepped forward, it revealed itself to be the SWAT-like form of Lucky Lady.
"Get away from them, you BITCH!"
Lucky Lady pulled out a large knife, roughly a third the size of Valorous Valkyrie's sword, but still large enough to crush a full grown man. Sarah drove the jeep out of the path of the two mechas and headed back towards the admin building the long way around.
The two titans clashed, Jessica using her knife for defence, blocking and deflecting the General's sword strikes. She managed to get a few quick, shallow slashes in, not dealing much damage but it was as much as she could do, facing the General's onslaught.
And opportunity arose then the General swung her sword, Jessica dodged, and the sword became lodged in the ground again. Jessica tackled the General to the ground, forcing the sword from her grasp, and began to repeatedly punch her in the face. The General blocked a few before striking Jessica in the face, knocking her off balance, before kicking her off and knocking her flat on her back. The General then leapt atop Jessica and began doing the same thing she had.
Jessica pulled out her knife again and stabbed the general in the chest, since most mecha were designed with the cockpit in the head, both so it could be ejected and because the torso tended to take the most damage during battles. The strike did its job, seeming to slow Valorous Valkyrie's systems down, allowing Jess to flip her over and follow up with several more stabs to the chest.
Like she had a deep-seated grudge against her opponent, Jessica rained down strike after strike to her enemy's chest until she stopped moving and the light faded from her eyes. She stopped long after the mech was dead and sat, panting for breath.
She'd won and she'd saved who knows how many innocents from this vile woman's brainwashing.
* * *
Inside the admin building, Angela was trying to keep the marble table against the door to keep the enemy soldiers out. She had no weapons to use if they managed to break in and not only would she be defenceless, but Lucy would be as well.
Then came the sudden sound of gunfire, hand-to-hand combat and silence from outside.
"It's okay to come out now, Angela," said Sarah from the other side of the door.
Feeling greatly relieved, Angela dragged the table away from the door and opened it to reveal Sarah and Captain Anime stood over a group of unconscious enemy soldiers. She quickly hugged Sarah tightly while Cap walked into the room and crouched down beside Lucy.
"She still not awake?" he asked.
"No," Angela replied in concern. "I don't know what to do."
"Leave it to me," Cap replied. He faced Lucy and had his visor become transparent. "Lucy, look at me. Look into my eyes." His eyes began to glow golden as they flowed with hypnotic energy. The young woman's glassy blue eyes turned golden as she stared blankly ahead. "I'm here to help you, Lucy. Right now, you're in a hypnotic trance, completely subservient to the will of an evil woman who wants to use you as a weapon. Right now, I'm hypnotizing you myself. These two trances are clashing inside your mind. What happens next is up to you. You can stay in this trance, obediently serving the General for the rest of your life, or you can resist her and enter my trance, from which I will awaken you so you can be reunited with your sister. which do you choose, Lucy?"
"Without any hesitation, a sleepy smile formed on the young woman's lips and she responded, "I choose you... Master..."
"That's very good, Lucy. Now, I want you to count backwards from ten, each number bringing you closer and closer to wakefulness and when you reach zero, you will be fully awake and free from the General's trance. Begin."
"Yes, Master." As she counted, Lucy's eyes became visibly more aware, regaining their life and becoming more open. When she reached zero, she shook her head weakly. "I'm... I'm awake."
"Yes. You're awake, Lucy. And look who's here to see you."
Lucy looked to her side to see her sister crouched down beside her. "Angie?"
The two sisters embraced and Jake stepped away to give them some time alone. He restored his visor to its reflective black and stood beside Sarah.
"How did you-?"
"I can use hypnosis."
"Who can't these days?"
"True. You still planning to arrest me?"
"Not today. I think you deserve a break after helping us out."
"Is something wrong? Your face is all red."
"Oh, uh, no problem." Sarah couldn't see it, but Jake's face was bright red. He had to admit, Sarah was really cute when she was embarrassed.
A sudden buzzing sound could be heard from outside. It was odd and muffled from where they were. Sarah looked out the window she'd entered through earlier and looked back.
* * *
Soon, Jessica was reunited with the other four by the two mechas. General Stenson was handcuffed and being taken away by some MPs. A middle-aged man with prematurely white hair in a Colonel's insignia approached them. The women quickly saluted him.
"At ease," the man said. "I'm Colonel Raymond Adams. You're lucky Professor Mato is an old friend of mine or you'd be on trial for what you've done. Regardless of your intentions, to the outside world, this looks like a group of rogue soldiers attacked a friendly military installation."
Jake was about to say something, but Homeshield advised against it.
"So here's what's going to happen. The official story is that Professor Mato and I both grew suspicious of General Stenson's actions and what this site was being used for and sent you three to act on our behalf and secure evidence of what was going on. Once you provided the evidence, we launched a full assault against the installation and brought Lucky Lady, which Lt. Chabers piloted into battle against the hijacked Valorous Valkyrie, liberating the base in the process. You will each receive medals for your actions, Lt. Chabers will likely receive a promotion and Captain Anime was never here. That way, the military will look completely on top of things with a zero tolerance policy for corruption and our country will not look weak to foreign powers. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Sir," the four women replied.
"Y-Yeah," Cap replied, disappointed.
"Good. You've done our country a great disservice today. All four of you. Even if the world will never know what one of you did, you have my thanks."
Jake perked up a little at that.
"I will see you for debriefing at 0900 tomorrow morning. Dismissed." With one last salute, the Colonel left.
"Hey, cheer up," Jessica said as she turned to Cap.
"Was I that obvious? He's right though; the truth would make the military look a complete shambles and encourage our enemies to start something. But even so..."
Jessica looked thoughtful for a second. "Hey, you can open a slot in your helmet to expose your mouth right? For eating and stuff?"
"Huh? Uh, yeah, why?"
"Can I see it?"
As soon as he exposed his mouth, Jessica pulled him in close and kissed him. Angela and Lucy giggled as they watched, while Sarah stood dumbfounded with eyes so wide, they looked like they might jump out of their sockets. As for Jake, while he felt slightly emasculated being the submissive in the kiss, he also felt quite elated. Jessica was definitely one of the better kissers of all the girls, and her not being hypnotized made if even better.
She pulled away and opened her eyes, smiling. "Thanks for saving me. For saving all of us. Even if no one else ever knows what you did, you're my hero."
Jake blushed furiously.
Jessica turned back to Sarah and smirked before sticking her tongue out.
Catching on quickly, Lucy then went up and kissed him too, though not for as long and not as dominantly.
"You're my hero too," she said with a wink. Jessica, Angela and Lucy then stared as Sarah expectantly, the two sisters having already caught on to Jessica's plan.
Sarah blushed brightly and looked down at her feet. "Th...Thank you for... saving us..."
"N-No problem," the hero replied, his voice cracking too much from embarrassment to be recognisable as Jake.
"Come on, Sarah, kiss him!" Jessica egged her on.
"Yeah, kiss him," Lucy agreed.
"Do it," said Angela.
The three began chanting for Sarah to kiss him, both parties becoming more and more red. Eventually, she decided to accept it and moved closer. She pecked him on the lips and went to pull away.
"Uh-uh, that's not enough," said Jessica as she lightly pushed Sarah forward, leading to another kiss that left both the officer and the hero frozen in shock. As Sarah began to move, she noticed how nice the hero's lips felt against hers and she remembered the first time they'd kissed. As she remembered, she felt a compulsion come over her, not too dissimilar to entering a trance, and her eyes slowly closed. She moved closer and her lips parted, as did his. Their tongues met and Sarah found herself unable to pull away, her arms wrapping tightly around him, his own roaming across her back as both became more and more aroused.
"Wow, didn't expect that much," said Jessica, dumbfounded.
Suddenly, the two stopped and pulled away from each other quickly.
"You... You-you-you you're, uh... bye." Before anyone could react, Captain Anime had sprinted toward the edge of the island and leapt into the water below.
Jessica and her friends smiled at each other as Sarah stood there, face redder than Jessica's hair.
* * *
Former General Stenson was informed that she had received a phone call. She accepted it and was strangely relieved to hear the voice on the other end.
"I heard what happened, Hilda," said the voice.
"You told me Chabers still responded to the trigger," she responded. "And need I remind you it was you who sent her after the Mato boy, leading to this whole mess?"
"And it was you that failed to stop them in the best mecha this country can afford. Not only that, but your incompetence cost us every slave we've accumulated until now, and almost got me found out."
"It's always about you, isn't it, Michael? Never spare a thought to your own wife's entire military career going down the toilet because your evaluation of one of the sleepers was grossly inaccurate? Anyway, they say they've been given permission to perform a hypnotic interrogation on me tomorrow. If you don't want all your dirty little secrets getting out, I suggest you pull some strings and get me out of here."
"And that is why I contacted you now."
"Good, because I-"
"I'm staying as far away from this as possible. Having you for a wife right now is already a PR nightmare, even without any evidence at Slaves International linking back to me. Right now, the only link between SI and Stenson Enterprises... is you."
"So, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying... Slave Protocol: Activate."
"Number Zero, are you active?"
"Yes, Master. Number Zero is active and ready to obey."
"Good. I want you to forget any ties between your operation and myself. Believe you were embezzling funds from my company and acting completely without my knowledge. This entire operation, both the military side and the slavery side were entirely your own ideas and you kept all of it a secret from me. You were using me for my money all these years and planned to take over my company once you had sufficient power. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Master. I acted completely on my own. You had no part in this."
"You will take the fall for all of this and serve your time in prison without any incidents. You will 'reform' from your experience and when... if you are released before you die, you will have been fully reformed and will come back to me for forgiveness. Is that clear."
"Yes, Master. I understand."
"Then, Slave Protocol: Deactivate." Stenson hung up the phone, leaving his thoroughly confused wife ready to deflect all of the blame away from himself. It was a shame he had to sacrifice his partner in slavery like this, though he had always been prepared for such a possibility. He could still work a PR machine and play himself off as the victim in all of this. The investors wouldn't be happy, but he had methods of changing their minds. Rebuilding Slaves International would take time. He'd likely keep the organisation very low key for a year or two, keeping on only those he felt would prove assets in the future... even Vice. He'd miss his secretary, Thirty-Six, but perhaps he'd learn to be more cautious after all this. He'd have to recall all the slaves too, refund all the money and doctor all the records. A tall order to be cleared in a day or two, but he still had plenty of slaves to perform these tasks... for now anyway.
Slaves International would rise again, more powerful than ever. And when it did, Jessica Chabers would be the first on Stenson's list.
* * *
Under hypnotic interrogation, Hilda revealed the location of her organisation, Slaves International, which was then raided by a unit lead by Jessica, Sarah and Angela. They were able to release all of the slaves currently held there. According to records they'd found onsite, all slaves previously sold off had been returned, though no explanation was given in the log. The assumption was that she had used them to gather intelligence or was recalling them to be a part of her army once the Camp Alpha victims were ready. Who the slaves had been sold had been erased from the records and the slaves themselves had been left at drop points to be collected by Stenson and all of them were recovered before they were found by less-than-lawful citizens.
The official story that reached the public was that General Hilda Stenson had been embezzling money from her husband's company and using it to build an army of sleeper agents with which to take over Nitenan on behalf of "the reds". She was now being held in a maximum security prison in the capital. The victims were receiving treatment from Professor Mato, with financial backing from Hilda's husband, Michael Stenson, who was using his company to help the victims readjust to life after their experiences.
At a meeting with the president, Colonel Adams was given a promotion for his actions, as well as a number of medals. Jessica was also promoted, from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant, and given a medal for valour. Sarah was given a medal and thanks, as well as a government-funded pay rise. Professor Mato was given greater funding for his contributions to the operation and the recovery of the victims.
The victims of Camp Alpha and Slaves International were sent to see Professor Mato at Angela's recommendation. He also brought a few of his associates aboard including his former assistant Barbara, to assist in the undoing of the brainwashing. Much like with the victims of A.S.I.D.E., each victim was put through a rigorous evaluation of suggestions and triggers before having each of them removed. He then arranged a luxury cruise for those affected to take some time off and recover, all expenses paid by Stenson Enterprises. He even extended an invitation to the A.S.I.D.E. victims to join them.
Before they left, Angela said good bye to Jessica and Sarah, and pulled Jake aside to ask him something. "Jake, I remember everything that happened while I was being controlled. Well, aside from the parts you suggested be suppressed."
"Yeah, can't imagine those memories will do anyone any good."
"Yeah. But I remember a strange voice in my head a few weeks ago. Telling me to obey."
Jake concluded she was referring to the alien, Freyka, who had used a device to amplify her telepathy.
"Then another voice told me to obey someone called Jake. That was you, right?"
"Thought so. Kinda funny, isn't it? While I was brainwashed by Stenson, I was brainwashed by Krymsyn. While brainwashed by Krymsyn, I was controlled by that voice. While I was controlled by that voice, I was controlled by you. I was under, like, four different levels of mind control all at once."
"You seem to be taking it quite well..."
"Meh. Things happen. And I'm fine now. Besides, I think being under your power gave me hope up until now. You just felt so warm and caring. Really, Jake, thank you for all your help." Angela briefly kissed Jake before winking at him and getting on the bus headed for the cruise liner.
Jake blushed, greatly annoying Katia and Yuta, who were quickly incapacitated by Dawn and Fawn.
"All's well that ends well, huh?" said Mina.
"Yeah, everyone was saved and the brainwashing’s all undone,” added Diana.
“And I just got a package in the mail,” said Jessica, opening the packaging.
Jessica was given a copy of the latest instalment of a collection of books on famous mechs and their pilots. This was the one that featured the Lucky Lady due to Jessica's extraordinary prowess with the machine. When the photographer had come to take pictures for it, Jessica had demanded that there be a group photo of the household in there somewhere, justifying it by saying that it was her family and friends that gave her the strength and determination to do what she did. Surprisingly, the photo took up an entire page next to the interview with Jessica.
"That's awesome, Jess," said Sarah as she placed an arm around her friend. "You deserve it after-"
A strange sound could be heard emanating from the lab, interrupting Sarah's sentence.
Jen started dancing, Sarah and Jessica began sensually kissing each other, Mina became a cat and Diana a dog chasing her, Lucia sang an obscene song, Fawn became a songbird, and Katia began genuinely praising everyone else's actions while Yuta followed behind her, agreeing with her every word.
Jake turned to Dawn to reprimand her, only to find her clucking and flapping her arms like a chicken.
Confused, his eyes fell on Jessica and the shiny silver pocket watch sticking out of her pocket.