Gunslinger Girl Fan Fiction ❯ The Alpha Effect: Inizio-Encounter ❯ Chapter 2
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
"Do we have an ETA?" Rico asked sitting beside Jean.
"Yes, but not a definite one," Jean replied. "This mark has a habit of changing his schedule at the last minute. The only thing we know for sure is that he travels only in the daylight. That's why we're scouting this early."
Jean and Rico drove through Rome, another day at the office for both of them. Today, they would be taking out a diplomatic ambassador from the nearby nation of Turkey. This ambassador had various connections with multiple terrorist factions, but no authority had been able to prove it officially. In contrast, the allegations had only increased his popularity. In the recent months, he was championing a crusade to halt all global intelligence operations as a threat to global civil rights. Italy was the first nation on his list. The Five Republics had been siphoning money to him for years; the Social Welfare Agency had been waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
The plot was to eliminate him walking up the stairs to a newly opened hotel, which just happened to be close to the Palazzo Madama. The Agency had arranged for road work to be done during the motorcade's arrival. The current renewal project for the Piazza Navona made this easy to schedule.
A small explosive was being placed under the ambassador's car and a few thugs were hired to fire randomly into the smoke after its detonation. It would appear as if he were targeted by multiple extremists making a positive identification on where the first shot came from and a definite cause of death nearly impossible to determine.
The operation was flawless; however, there was still the problem of finding the perfect sniping position. After hours of searching up and down the street across from the hotel, they found a commercial building that was under renovation. It would be empty on the day of the ambassador's arrival and the forty-five degree angle which the location required would be perfect for what the operation was designed for.
Jean was not happy. The weather reporter said it would be a clear day with light patches here and there. Instead the sky was lit with grey and the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance. A sudden warm front the reporter called it. The explosive rigged to the ambassador's car was purposely meant to be crude making more smoke and noise than actual damage. Rainfall could cause the detonation to fail. On top of that, rainfall would limit the smokescreen to less than a minute.
Rico and he stood at a window near the top of the commercial building. The owner apparently hadn't enough money to hire a decent crew as there wasn't enough ceiling to keep the cold wind from blowing in, and there were parts of the floor missing in a few of the rooms. They're position was compromised, but the angle was just right. This soon before a point-of-opportunity, it was better than nothing.
“Let's get ready,” Jean said facing Rico. Rico nodded in response and began to set up her Dragunov SVD sniper rifle.
After setting her rifle on the bipod, she proceeded to insert a cartridge and lock the rotary bolt making her rifle ready-to-fire. Rico adjusted the scope at a roof statue across the street. After adjusting the sights, she squeezed the trigger firing a paint round. Perfect alignment, the dark statue had white paint on its nose. Any onlookers would assume that a bird had favored it. Rico fired the other paint rounds to be certain and to ready the lethal ammunition in her cartridge before aiming the barrel toward the hotel entrance. Now came the most frustrating part of sniping, the wait. The next few hours were going to seem like eternity. To say Jean was irritated would be an understatement.
After three hours Jean became restless and began telling Rico to repeat the mission assignment. Rico did just that, as her conditioning demanded. After an additional hour of doing this; even Rico became restless. Jean took a final look around with his binoculars to find a hooded figure on top of a warehouse behind a T-intersection at the end of the street. 'Probably a vagabond,' Jean thought. 'Maybe he's contemplating suicide. If we're lucky he'll jump and lend an extra distraction'.
When the diplomat's motorcade finally pulled onto the street, Rico stood over her rifle. It began to sprinkle outside as a few droplets entered the open portions in the ceiling around them. `Great,' Jean thought. After a flash of lightning struck a rod atop a nearby building, the main car of the motorcade sped up leaving the remaining vehicles behind. Jean grunted in frustration until he let out a gasp. Rico looked up at him in surprise before looking to the street below.
Binoculars weren't needed as she saw what had surprised Jean. As the motorcade sped past Jean and Rico's position, they saw the rear windshield stained bright red revealing what occurred inside. Rico began to breathe heavily as she slowly began to turn her head towards Jean.
“Rico!” Jean screamed, his eyes flaming with rage.
“I didn't fire,” Rico answered quickly.
Jean looked at the Dragunov to see that it hadn't changed from its previous position. He recalled that no sound had come from the rifle. There was no smoke from the chamber which was typical of gas-operated firearms. When he looked to the ground, Jean saw no shell that housed the lethal ammunition. He looked outside and quickly concluded that the shot had to come from a straight-linear trajectory.
Jean replayed the moment in his head attempting to find something he must have missed.
'Nothing,' Jean thought. 'A sound, a flash, anything. Wait, the flash.'
The flash from the lightning followed by the deafening thunder stood out the most in Jean's recollection. It was an old sniping trick that the British SAS was still fond of. The blinding flash followed by the deafening thunder would provide more than enough of a distraction to mask the sound and flash from nearly any round fired from nearly any firearm. Jean's impassive manner fell apart as he remembered who taught him that trick. It completely shattered remembering the vagabond sitting atop that warehouse roof.
“Rico, pack up your SVD.” Jean said in haste. He even helped her folding the bipod it sat on.
Rico began to worry; she had never seen him nervous before. Soon the rifle was tucked into its case. Jean and Rico began to make their way to the stairway when someone jumped in from the roof and began to walk to the staircase them self.
A hooded trench-coat hid the person carrying a rectangular case in his left hand. The sound of the safety on a handgun was unmistakable. The stranger answered with two 9mm's of his own when he heard Rico's CZ75. The case fell to the floor opening upon impact to reveal a Maadi-Griffin Model 89 .50-calibur rifle. The dripping hood slid back; revealing a young man with matted black hair and piercing eyes the color of creamy jade.
“You!” Jean said with a tone resembling fear and astonishment.
Rico took this as a command firing at the young man. The young man returned fire as he began running to his side. Taking cover only to reload, the two combatants circled each other as each shot missed its mark by centimeters. Jean simply stood in awe and anger at the gunfight erupting around him.
The young man took two seconds to reload his 9mm's for the third and final time, as he squatted behind a work bench. `How many magazines does this girl have?' he thought. 'And where the hell is she hiding them? Please, don't tell me she has a belt under that coat.' Three shots had sailed overhead as these thoughts escaped his mind. Raising his guns overhead, he returned fire in Rico's general direction before leaving his cover to resume the gunfight. A shot bounced off of Rico's forehead driving her to take cover once more.
Rico had just burned through her fifth magazine and was loading her last one when it began pouring rain. She raised her gun to find her CZ sail overhead, the young man's foot striking true. In that instant Rico stared at two Springfield Armory 9mm's pointed at each eye. Rico experienced for the first time a sensation of stone-cold awareness. The young man stared into Rico's eyes for a moment before releasing his magazines and dropping his pistols to the ground. He took a swing at Rico which she quickly dodged answering with one of her own.
The eerie feeling of awareness returned when she found her fist in the palm of the young man. Rico jumped back in surprise staring intently at her opponent. `Within the last few minutes, this man has disarmed and suppressed me,' Rico thought. `Even Triela has trouble defeating me when we're sparring. We are extranormal, better than human are we not?'
“Not bad,” the young man said briefly shaking his hand. “Now, let's see how good you really are.”
Rico rushed the young man, who proceeded to dodge every one of her strikes forcing Rico to hit only air. He was playing with her and Rico began to realize this. Her conditioning suppressed most of her emotions. However, she knew Jean was watching. Rico was getting angry and to make matters worse, she was beginning to make mistakes.
An awkward recovery after a leaping spin kick was all her opponent needed as he buried his foot in Rico's chest. Rico's eyes widened in alarm and ache as her body took a second to catch up to the impact of the kick. The shocking sensation of flying backwards along with the pain of all the air escaping her lungs was a new feeling altogether. Rico sailed through three brick walls before bouncing off of a reinforced steel beam leaving her own imprint within. Compared to that, the sudden landing on the cold-concrete floor had almost been welcome.
Rico's ears vibrated continuously until she realized that it wasn't her ears that were ringing, but the support beam itself. Rico eyes widened when she looked up to see the ceiling crack. Holding her right arm in a feeble attempt to protect her; the concrete ceiling fell on top of Rico. Covered in rubble while she breathed in dust, Rico's eyes began to close and her mind became misty as she fought to keep them both open and alert.
The young man looked toward the broken walls keenly for a minute before casually turning his attention to Jean. Jean stepped to his side as the young man did the same in pace.
“It's been a long time Al,” Jean said with confidence. “Four years I believe. Where have you been? You don't call. You don't write. You just…disappear, in the middle of half-assed explosions no less. The French Foreign Legion could have done a better job.”
“You've lost the privilege of calling me that,” the young man answered.
“Oh, have I Al? Then what shall I call you. Subject Zero, maybe? How about the lost cause or a failed experiment? Wait, I know. The name she gave you, Alpha.”
“That'll do, and that's enough.”
“How old are you now; fifteen, sixteen?”
“Okay, Alpha. You're getting sloppy, you know. This is the second time you've been seen by our Agency. The director was ready to discontinue advancement after you disappeared. He was afraid that your remains had fallen into enemy hands. Lorenzo was eventually convinced otherwise, with a little help from Bianchi and me.”
“So you went through with it after all.”
“Of course, the prototype proved to be a failure like her predecessor. They are simply amazing now.”
“You moved on to little girls, more innocents?” Alpha said before turning away, “Bastards, each and every one of you.”
“Stop being melodramatic, you toy. The Agency saves lives, not corrupt them. We're rebuilding the broken. Straightening what nature made crooked. Isn't that what your precious doctor wanted?”
“By forcing them to live in servitude?”
“A mutual exchange if you ask me. That one was practically a physical invalid when I chose her for my own. You can relate, no? Wasn't everything broken, save your skull and spine?”
Alpha stopped his pacing and stared into the direction of the broken walls, shivers running down his body. Closing his eyes, Alpha tried in vain to hold back resurfacing memories.
`The second team will be here any minute,' Jean thought. `I just have to stall a little bit longer.'
“You remember that kind of pain don't you?” Jean asked.
“Not being able to move, but every twitch filling your body w…”
Alpha grabbed Jean's throat and begin to throttle him as he held him above the ground. Jean's attempted to free himself kicking and swinging wildly at Alpha, but his gasps yielded nothing as he looked into the cold wrath of Alpha's eyes.
`Too…fast,' Jean thought; his senses becoming blurry.
“Your judgment will not come today,” Alpha began, “but you will pay for what you took from me.”
Alpha strengthened his grip on Jean's throat until Jean's head fell limp. Alpha shrugged as he still felt a pulse; dropping Jean's body to the cold, lifeless ground. Alpha's right hand moved back his trench coat in an informal way revealing a knife on his belt. He began to finger the handle of the Fairburn-Sykes commando blade as he gazed at the fallen body before him. `Not yet, I still have a job to do.'
“Poor child,” he said looking to the broken walls. “I am truly sorry.”
Alpha returned the 9mm inside his pocket before retrieving his case and slowly made for the staircase.
After a few struggling minutes, Rico pushed pieces of mason off of her releasing her head and left arm. Climbing out slowly; she dragged her right arm, now grotesquely broken. Gripping her hands together, Rico pulled swiftly with her left letting out a brief shriek. It still couldn't move, but her right arm was straight again.
Rico saw Jean lying unconscious and panicked immediately. Crawling out of the rubble, she found her left leg remained stuck. Rico yanked on the limb a few times before grabbing hold of a crack in the floor. Placing her right foot against the pile for leverage, she strained attempting to pull her leg free.
Rico continued to push against the heap of mason until the sound of flesh tearing echoed from the walls of the small corridor. Rico made one last wrench, ripping her leg off at the knee accompanied by a swift scream. Breathing hard, she waited a moment while the conditioning took effect. When her pain was numb; Rico pulled herself closer to Jean, marking her path as she drew near.
Reaching Jean was bittersweet for Rico as her attempts to revive him went in vain.
“Jean!,” Rico continued. “Jean, please! Please get up!”
And the torrential storm thundered on; washing handler and operative.