Code 21:25


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Scene Title Code 21:25
Synopsis Luke 21:25-28 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, becasue your redemption is drawing near."
Date Dece,ber 15, 2008

Jersey City, Irradiated Zone - Freight Warehouse #21

In the grand scheme of things, there are worse places to be than Jersey City. Those places, however, will kill you much faster.

What little hope remains for this gray wasteland on the west banks of the Hudson river is shot dead by unfathomable crime rates, potentially lethal radiation levels, and crumbling infrastructure that has only just begun to be replaced in earnest. Two years ago, the Bomb turned Jersey City into a ghost town. What was once a beacon of industrial might on the opposite shores of the Hudson from Manhattan collapsed in just a few nights to riots, looting, fires and absolute chaos.

A cloud of fallout had settled over the area after the Bomb hit, and emergency evacuations of the city caused panic, and panic led to violence, and violence led to ruin. It's a cycle that the few straggling souls who inhabit this hollowed out ghost-town know full well. While the United States government has struggled to return a portion of Jersey City bordering the river back into hospitable territory, the vast majority of abandoned industrial complexes remain largely ignored. Portions of the city most visible from Manhattan and the highways that are in operation have been cleaned up of refuse and the homeless, given a facelift and had most facilities restored, and it's called progress.

In effect, it's like putting mascara on around a gouged out eye.

The once strong urban pulse that beat in the heart of Jersey City's industrial center is now a fluttering heartbeat grinding down towards death. The urban decay seen in the two years of abandonment here far outstripes any seen on Manhattan and in its surrounding neighborhoods, even Staten Island looks to be in good shape in comparison. Nearly all of the roads in the zones still rife with radioactive fallout are crumbling apart in plain sight. Weeds grow up between fissures in pavement, buildings with windows smashed in are overtaken by the elements. Some have simply collapsed due to fire damage resulting in the weeks of arsons that sprang up following the Bomb, and these dangerously crumbling reminders of a once prosperous city are the eyesores the Government doesn't promote on the nightly news.

It's in these places where people have been cast away, where the homeless and displaced have turned to — stubbornly — for shelter from the cold winter months, that refugees of another kind have taken roost. The signs were as clear as day to them, and after the destruction of Washington-Irvine High School several weeks ago, mobilization began. It is the Vanguard's best-kept secret, facilities much like the ones in Long Island City, unpaid for and off the books. But this pair of old and dilapidated warehouses that once stored cargo bound for oil tankers now stores a different currency and different caretakers…

"I'm just pissin' myself with excitement over this." Very different caretakers, "Just look at me go."

The words come from a gruff and scraggly looking man seated atop an oil drum cast onto its side. One leg is drawn up to his chest, and he slowly moves a combat knife in one hand, cutting the pit out of a mango in his other calloused and weather-beaten hand. His eyes stay focused on his fruit, but his raspy voice addresses the other people in the room.

"Shut it, right fuckin' now Rico." Equally agitated, though for different reasons, a muscular man with a black knit cap pulled down over his head slurs out. His accent clashes with the south-american flourish of his counterpart, being that of a faded Mancunian-English accent. His thick arms fold across his chest, leather gloved hands flexing open and closed before he tilts his head down to brush his chin over the raised collar of his flak jacket. "You hea'd th' oda's, he'll be here. He ain't never late."

The other three figures looming in the warehouse are far more stoic. By a large and partly shattered window sits a woman in her late twenties, one leg tucked up onto the sill of the window she sits in, the other dangling freely to let the toe of one boot scrape the concrete below. Resting against her hip and leaning up against her shoulder is an immense rifle with a powerful scope, the entire weapon nearly as long as she is tall. Her pale eyes peer out through the portions of the grimy window without glass, and the cold winter wind blowing in from that empty space tosses her short blonde hair around.

Another man paces back and forth, hands folded behind his back, short blonde hair cropped in a military crew cut. His urban camouflage uniform matches the styling of his body armor, and the orderly arrangement of a combat knife and pocket light inserted into his vest give him a look of preparedness.

"What do you think?" His words are painted with a firm Russian accent, words directed over to the last of the five gathered. A towering behemoth of a man at some seven feet in height, with shoulders broad enough to allow a full grown man to sit upon them. He stands between a pair of high stacks of oil drums, arms folded across his chest and head down. The automatic rifle slung over his shoulder does little to distract from the collection of knives sheathed at his sides and down his legs.

"I think Rico is scared." His voice is as large as he is, but is kept restrained like some caged wild animal, rumbling and tense. His dark eyes follow the pacing soldier, then drift to regard the woman in the window, "Ellinka," his head tilts to the side, dark skin creasing to a furrow of his brows, "She is not scared. She never is." And like the others, his voice seems so out of place amidst the nationalities and inflections, that of a strong eastern African dialect influencing his words.

Ellinka does not look over, merely continues her vigil out of the window. It's the man in the black knit cap that speaks up for her, "Ellinka knows what we all know, there's nothin' more t'fear beyon' the man we work for. Is there?" Rico manages a smile at that, flicking the pit of his mango down onto the floor with a wet slap before beginning to hungrily devour the fruit in his hand, making no attempt to quell the slurping or chewing sounds.

It's Ellinka's sudden movement from her perch that halts Drake's attempt to chastise him, and as the blonde sniper rises from her seat, she nods to the pacing soldier — her commanding officer — Hans Kazakova. When she makes the motion with her head, everyone begins to fall into line. Rico quickly swallows the last mouthfl of his mango, slurping at his fingers before rising up off of the barrel, tucking his combat knife into his right boot as he does.

King moves out from the barrels, unshouldering his assault rifle and holding it up against one shoulder in an eased position. His leather jacket scuffs up against the blackened casing with a noise drowned out by the sounds of all of the moving feet on hard stone. Drake pushes off of the wall, tugging off his knit cap as he moves to stand at Hans' side.

The slow, rythmic beat of footsteps approaching the facility is accompanied by the distant sound of an idiling vehicle. A long shadow, cast by the dim light of a sun tht just tucked behind gray clouds begins to approach the open warehouse doors. But as the man that casts the shadow comes into view, all hesitation drains from the five collected here. They stand at attention, Hans and Ellinka most formally, though Drake is quick to slip back into old habits aftr a moment. The man they meet though is not true general, no military commander of any recognized army.

He is Kazimir Volken.

Entering the warehouse, Kazimir's footsteps quietly come to a halt just within the doorway, his dark shadow long and grasping towards their gathering, as if it was hungering to get just a few inches closer, ever so subtly darker than the black of his suit. "Herr Volken." Hans' accent slips more towards German as he bows his head, and those words elicit Kazimir to slowly begin to stride in, leveling an assessing blue gaze on Hans' four subordinates.

"Prompt as always, Hans." Kazimir's voice, rough as it is, shows a modest level of pride in it as he paces in front of the gathered. Rico, while Kazimir isn't looking, begins to pick at a small piece of mango skin stuck between his teeth. "I take it you realize that Code 21:25 has been enacted." The words are said with a rough exhalation, And just how significant that is?"

Hans nods, taking a step forward ahead of the group, "I do, Herr Volken." He averts his eyes to the floor, "It means we've almost reached our goal. The time to act, is upon us." Pale eyes track from the floor to Kazimir, and then to the people gathered behind him. "May I formally introduce my hand-picked operatives?" Kazimir's silent nod is all Hans needs as he motons to the sniper beside him.

"My Lieutenant, Ellinka Dolukhanov, former Spetznas trainee. I believe you will recall her from the 2006 Prague operation." Hans' words are met with another slow and shallow nod as Kazimir looks Ellinka up and down, a woman now two years further removed from her old life, and hardening in spirit for it. "She is the most capable sniper in all of the Vanguard, and was trained as a counter-intelligence operative."

"It is an honor, Lord Volken." Ellinka bows her head as she mumbles those words in a hushed voice, keeping her sniper rifle held close to her chest. The weapon is fearsome looking even when held in comparison to a humble looking woman as her, a Steyr IWS 2000, a weapon designed to disable tanks. Kazimir's gaze settles on the gun for a moment, nodding with an approving inclination of his head, recalling now her efficiency in disabling military police in that offensive.

"This is Drake Leeds," Hans motions to the man wringing a black knit cap behind his back. Drake gives a bit of a crooked smile, nodding silently. "Former SAS communications and saboutage expert. I believe you and he worked recently with Ethan Holden in Yugoslavia."

Once more Kazimir affords a silent nod, Drake was one of the few who have seen Kazimir in the last five years, outside of Hans himself. But as Hans continues, his direction goes to the other familiar face, the south-american man in the black beret. "This is Rico Velasquez, I believe you and he are well acquainted."

"Sierra will be pleased to know you're here," Kazimir considers those words even as he continues, "Should she turn up." Still yet unaware of Sierra's death, Kazimir unintentioanlly sets his close compatriot up for an unfortunate revelation later on. "It's good to see you again…" A gloved hand comes to rest on Rico's shoulder, and Kazimir gives a reaffirming, if not somewhat controling squeeze as he notices Rico's slacked posture.

"I do believe King requires no introductions." Hans cracks a smile as he motions to the enormous Nigerian standing behind him. The behemoth of a man nods with a reverent expression on his face, "He is eager to be put to work." At Hans' words, Kazimir settles a hand on the soldier's shoulder, moving it from Rico's, and shakes his head subtly.

"Enough with the formalities, Hans." Blue eyes move up to King for but a moment, then track back to the man he restrains from posturing any further. "You're here to perform a task, nothing more and nothing less." Letting his hand fall away, Kazimir turns his back on the group, folding his hands in front of himself.

"As you are all well aware, we are entering the final phases of our overall operations." Kazimir's head turns, peering over his shoulder, but not enough to actually view any of the Vanguard behind him. "Your movement within the city will be extremely limited in the coming weeks, and I request that for the time being to refrain from making direct contact with any of the other Vanguard members." Kazimir finally moves, turning to face the group again with a stern expression hardening across his stony face.

"For now you will be operating independantly of the remaining Vanguard force, until such a time as the remaining soldiers positioned around the world are able to be recalled to this position. Hans," Blue eyes lock on the soldier, "When the last soldiers arrive, they will all be under your absolute command. At which time I will give you your full operations details." He takes a step forward, hard-soled shoes clicking on the concrete.

"But for now, I feel it is time I discuss with you my furthered plans," Kazimir straightens, addressing the gathering as a whole with a silent stare. Everything, finally, was falling into place one piece at a time. All that remains now is finding the loose ends left dangling in the wind under Ethan's purview, and then move on Odessa's information.

After so many years, Kazimir's awaited time is finally approaching.

"It is time I explain to you how we are going to change the world forever."

December 15th: Skinned

Previously in this storyline…
Welcome to Phase Three

Next in this storyline…

December 15th: Brilliant, Watson
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