05 August, Sunday 03:20
In the movies we sometimes used to watch as wide-eyed kids, when spies or commandos infiltrate some top-secret government facility, they always seemed to know exactly where to go. No matter the size of the facility, they would always coolly crush all opposition, find their target and do their thing in a matter of minutes. And then, they would be home on time before their supper gets cold. Well, life is far more complicated than movies, I can tell you that. The “Shroud” may not be as large as those set-ups in the movies, but it was large enough and damn confusing. Although in reality, it must’ve been just a couple of minutes, we lost our way so many times, strayed into abandoned hallways and stuck ourselves in the dead ends that it seemed we wandered for hours. Good thing that we took the trouble to hide corpses of those guards we dealt with at the entrance, so we just might have bought us a few more precious moments before some overzealous fool sounds the alarm. At the same time, somewhere at the back of my brain, I was bothered why Elena hasn’t made her move yet – perhaps she’s really waiting for us to blow everything up in here, and create a handy diversion for her? Not that I’d heard anything from here. The interior of the “Shroud” is so perfectly isolated, practically soundproof, that nuclear bombs could fall outside right now, and I wouldn’t hear a thing. Which is just as good, because at least we can dispose of with all the subtleties while we’re inside. If we manage to find our way first, that is.
05 August, Sunday 03:45
It seems that our real troubles are just about to start. As it turned out, our humble entryway was some sort of add-on of the facility, having something to do with the sewage and drains – at least the smell had made that painfully obvious. I started getting desperate when we accidentally stumbled into the main part of the complex: a large circular hall which must’ve been a central part of the underground facility. From there we’ll sure be able to get to the control room and shut it all down. Sounds relatively straightforward, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I failed to mention one small, insignificant detail: it was full of Confederation soldiers. I believe this is what they sometimes call a showstopper.
05 August, Sunday 04:00
It took me a while to assess the situation. Usually, I’m not that daft as you might think – the Resistance doesn’t tolerate letdowns, and I certainly wouldn’t get where I am now if I wasn’t efficient. However, exhaustion and stress had finally started to get to me, so I was a lot slower than usual. Thankfully, they haven’t spotted us yet, or we would be toast. And I don’t mean it just as a neat metaphor – in addition to Assaults and Heavy Assaults, the hall was literally decked with Fire Assaults. I expected that Brine would place some soldiers here, just not in these numbers. I thought that his goal was to prevent us to make an entrance in the first place, but he must have an excess of troops if he was able to spare this many. Gotta hand it to him, he’s nothing if not cautious. The rumors of his tactical abilities had proved to be true so far. As for my own abilities…well, they seemed to be at an all-time low. I was desperately trying to think of something – anything – when I finally remembered that we can use all those Fire Assaults to our advantage. Interested in finding out what happened next? Then I got a real treat for you. Here’s an easy homemade recipe you won’t find in the regular military books: Provoke a few Confederation Fire Assault units to use their jetpacks, shot them down while they’re in mid-air, aim specifically for the canisters with their highly flammable fire gel and sit back and relax as they rain deathly fire on their unsuspecting comrades. Voila – you just got yourself an instant napalm. Try it out if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Just as they say: If you play with fire, you’re eventually gonna get burned. I have to admit that I’m a bit proud of myself. When this all ends, I’ll contact Patents and Trademark Office – I think I’ll name this move “Zhukov’s gambit”.
05 August, Sunday 04:25
It seems that our luck might be changing. What seemed as our greatest impediment, proved to be no more than a simple nuisance. Unbelievably, I have even more good news. We finally found it! The control room turned to be just as expected: monitors, displays, blinking screens, statistical analysis, and 5-6 middle-aged, balding guys in white jackets, their breast pockets stacked with pencils, markers and laser pointers to the bursting. When we barged in, most of them just froze in their place. But there’s always that one wiseguy who just had to play a hero, immediately rushing to some kind of panel, no doubt to activate the alarm. Usually, I don’t hold a particular grudge against scientists, although I pretty much despise those who sell their ideals so cheaply and use their knowledge to harm others. So you’ll forgive me for shooting him straight in the kneecap. He got off easy, as far as I was concerned. Hold that thought, I said to him, turning to his colleagues. The rest of you – don’t do anything stupid! The man on the ground clutched his knee – which was a bloody mess, of course – and cried: “You son of a bitc…” Shut up, I said agreeably. And if you won’t…well, there’s 14 more of those in my magazine. Your choice. The man squealed pathetically. Now, tell me – all of you – where would be the best place to plant explosives? Here, or somewhere else?
05 August, Sunday 04:45
The scientists played hard to get as schoolgirls, but they eventually spilled their beans, just as I knew they would. We placed explosives in several places: one in the command room, one in the generator area, and a couple at the base of the mechanism which served to raise Shroud’s antennas. We even scattered several along the way, just to be sure, you know. Then we activated the counter and had let the scientists go. They quickly grabbed their disabled friend – who screeched like a real martyr as they were hauling him across the room – and quickly scrammed. We were right behind them. Of course, we couldn’t follow them, because would otherwise probably finish in the middle of Brine’s camp. We had to find our own way out. There was just enough time for that. Fingers crossed we don’t get lost again.
05 August, Sunday 04:55
We were running through dense foliage towards our hidden vehicles when we heard the first detonations. At this point, I was dead tired and barely holding on my feet. Still, I couldn’t resist the temptation to turn around. Is this what we risked our lives for? What we were dying for? Although we planted enough explosives to destroy a small town, there wasn’t much we could see. The “Shroud” was buried too deep in the ground, so we just caught a glimpse of its small surface part collapsing, coupled with smoke and a bit of fire. Of course, the ground shook, as if it was a powerful earthquake. It seems that we did a pretty good job planting those explosives. When in doubt, just ask experts, right? The Brine’s camp was in the commotion, sirens and alarms were howling, lights were flashing, soldiers were yelling. From this distance, all of it seemed totally insignificant. Bugs and ants, nothing more. I should’ve felt triumph, I know. The day was mine, I deserved it. But all I could think about was Elena. Where is she? Has she managed to escape? Had she got her revenge? Is he alive at all? Too many questions. Too many. For the first time, I really felt like an old man, without much strength left in him. Well, I have to gather my strength. And my courage. Elena is beyond my help now, but I still have my other soldiers to think of. Just as soon we meet, we’ll head for Peru. And after that? Who knows?
06 August, Monday 10:30
P.S. I just had a very interesting chat with Cortes. He congratulated me on my success in destroying the “Shroud” facility. The data we managed to extract while we were in the command room will ensure that the “Shroud” incident won’t ever happen again. But our conversation naturally turned to Elena. Cortes told me who she really was. One of our best spies and snipers? That much I knew myself. However, Leonidovna was her mother’s surname. Her mother was a Russian prima ballerina, her father was Matias Sousa, a legendary war hero who was captured in Pucallpa, coated alive in some crystal-like substance and preserved as a living statue to serve as an example to all those who oppose Confederation. As his daughter, Elena was intended to rally our forces and serve as a new powerful symbol of the Resistance. Cortes had sent her to me, hoping that my influence could help her become one of our leaders. Unfortunately, because of the “Shroud” effect, he hasn’t been able to share his intentions with me. Pity. I’m afraid that we might’ve lost her forever. Even if she’s alive, after all the things I fear she had done, she’s far cry from the symbol we need. Well, we’ll yet to see about that. Somehow I feel that our paths will cross again one day.