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Don't Wait for a Miracle

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Are you augmented?

Adam is forced to his knees by unknown hands. Checking him up and down for any unusual…parts. The people knew what to look for. They’ve studied his file with such intensity.

Are you persecuted?

All the unwanted but thrilling added toys. They’ve considered removing them all.

Are you ridiculed?

The consideration is a green light. The CASIE is the first to be shut down. No need for smart mouthing debaters, which they unaware of the fact that Adam can debate people under the table just fine without any social enhancer.

Are you suffering?

The Arm Blades. – Removed Molecular structure that forms these.

The TESLA. – Removed.

The PEPS. – Removed.

The Nano-Everything. – Partially removed. Parts of his brain rely on…something similar that no one’s been able to place their fingers on.

The Slowing of Time. – Disabled.

The Dash. – Chip Removed. 

The Cloak. – Chip Removed.

The Landing. – Chip Removed.

The Energy. – Restricted to a certain bar.

The Health – Kept. Needs to be alive and in stable condition.

The TITAN. – Disabled.

Removed. Removed. Disabled. Removed. Removed. Disabled.

Chip inserted.

Are you punished?

Handcuffed like a wild animal. Placed on a plane, being shipped off to that last place he never hoped to see. His friend and ex-teammate, Aria Argento is clutching her stump of an arm. Those bastards removed that too.

Are you worried?

Adam’s going to make them pay. Aria doesn’t have any military grade augmentations! She shouldn’t be here with him!

Are you sick?

The advertisement keeps playing in the back of his head. He spits at the floor where TARVOS soldiers stand. He gets smacked in the face by the bud of one of their guns, knocking him out cold.

Are you a victim of violence?

Aria scrunches up, eyes showing fear towards the man that just knocked out one of the toughest augmented people she knows.

Are you down on your luck?

The soldier tells her to keep quiet if she doesn’t want to end up like him.

Are you looking for help?

She keeps her head down. Willing herself not to cry in this shitty situation they’ve found themselves in.

Do you need hope?

She’s unaware that back at headquarters that Jim Miller has been on the phone all day trying to get his agents back, no, not just his agents. His boyfriend, Adam Jensen, and a very good friend, Aria Argento. Both have been taken away by security way above his pay grade. He paces the office, thinking to himself that the whole orchid thing is his fault. If he only had used more caution when entering the catering section, then Jensen wouldn’t have had to make that choice to save him.

Adam chose to save him and chose to watch the delegates die in person.

Adam chose to save the towers and chose to watch Marchenko burn.

RABI’AH IS FOR YOU!

Adam’s efforts were all in vain.

Join the growing workforce of the augmented people who are building a city they can call “home”.

The fake Eliza Cassan on the TV is secretly smiling in glee as she announced with “deep regret” that the UN has voted to past UN Resolution 3507.  

Rabi’ah will be an oasis in the dessert. It all be a place for all augmented people who have experienced the difficulties of living in a world divided between “natural” and “augmented” people.

The real Eliza and Helle mourn. The UN has voted to past The Human Restoration Act.

End this chapter of your live!

Miller slams his phone down on the table. He places his hands head in his hands, trying his best to remain calm and not shed them. He needs to be strong for the rest of his team. He didn’t even hear MacReady come in to tell him something important. He nearly threw his whiskey bottle in his face when he touched his shoulder.

START a new one in Rabi’ah today!

Mac stands back a bit. He feels bad for Jim. He lost a good teammate today and a potential love interest and one of the best shooters he’s ever seen, but what if he’s here to tell you there’s still hope, Miller? He wants them both back as much as he does, and so does other people. People that he has contact with. Miller needs to listen. He tries again, gripping it with a tight squeeze. His best friend needs to hear him out. He places his head on the back of Miller’s head.

“There’s a way, Jim. I promise we’ll get them out. We’ll save everyone there.”

Sign up today!

Miller stops his drinking to look at Mac. “What do you mean?”

A mysterious bald man pops up on Miller’s screen. An alert instantly goes off in his mind to let Chang know they have a breach! Miller goes to press the button. Mac quickly grabs his hand, slamming it down, demanding for the grieving man to hear him out.

The man is unfazed by the panic action of the other. He’s been in his shoes before, and so he knows how this goes. Instead he speaks in the same cryptic voice that Adam’s very familiar with. “Director Miller, after speaking with your agent, he’s agreed to help us take out the new CEO of the facility in the dessert, Rabi’ah, where your agents were taken to.”

Miller pulls his hand away from Mac and glares at him. “You agreed to some shady person’s terms without discussing this with me first?”

“I had to make a choice, Jim. If Chang got wind who this is, then you would have another batch of super soldiers bursting through our elevator door! God who knows who they would take away next! Augmented or not!” Mac slams his hand on the table. He doesn’t have time for Miller’s questioning and hesitation.

He’s right. Miller knows MacReady is right, but what does he really want him to think? He’s in hysterics here thinking of all the torturous things his boyfriend’s body is being put through! He can’t…bare anything in his head right now. He doesn’t want to see him split into pieces. He clutches the side of his head, gritting his teeth, thinking about all the augmentations currently being pulled out of him.

Mac is losing his patience. “Agent Argento lost her arm, Miller! I saw her fighting back when I went to chase after her! THEY RIPPED IT RIGHT OUT OF HER! You don’t think I know how you feel!?”

The man on the screen tells Mac to lower his voice, for they don’t know who’s listening in on them. Mac instantly clams himself down, taking a few deep breaths here and there. He gives Miller’s shoulders a few rubs before pulling up a chair next to him. He snatches the whiskey bottle out of the other’s hands. They don’t need to be listening to this guy while Miller is incomprehensible.

“Thank you, Agent MacReady.” Janus pauses. Giving Miller time to rub his eyes and make sure he’s focused enough to hear him out.

“I’m….here.” Mostly Miller’s here. He’s trying to calm his nerves by holding his best friends’ hand. Mac has no complaints. He’d do anything he could to help him out.

A nod. “Good. My name is Janus, and I am with the Juggernaut Collective.”

Based in Europe, Santeau is the world leader in the megaproject industry, creating sprawling urban developments that are reshaping the global landscape. Previously using our expertise to future-proof existing cities-such as the exclusionary walls around Dallas, Seattle, and Chicago-we are taking a new direction, creating entirely new cities from scratch.

“Wake up, Adam!” Aria is on her knees, trying to shake the tired aug awake. The men are going to come back any minute now to make them change into uniforms, and if they still find him unconscious…God help him.

Adam’s eyes blear open. He instantly regrets opening them. His vision…something is off about it. He tries to get his HUD to turn on. Only pain and static appear. He clutches his head where a bandage is located where his CASIE should be. Where it should be? He quickly feels around the indentions of the scar. It’s still there but…he quickly stands up, looking around the white 3D printed room for a mirror. There’s a full body one hanging off the door. He checks out the bandage. He slowly takes it off to see there’s an artificial scar, almost like a slug running across it. What the hell is this? He pokes it. Gets an instant shock to his right eye.

“Adam! Don’t touch anything!” Aria runs to his side, pulling him away from the mirror. “We don’t know what these people have done to you. Please sit on the bed.”

No arguments from him. He sits on the bed, stares down at the white shaggy carpet below his naked feet. He realizes then he doesn’t have any shoes on. Hugging himself he holds back the urge to shake like a leaf when he feels and fears how light he has become. What else did they take from him?

Aria hugs him. “It’ll be ok, Adam. Miller will come for us.”

Will he? None of them were prepared for the waves of troops bursting down in the TF29 sub-basement. Everything happened so fast that even Adam’s Quicksilver couldn’t keep up. He did manage to knock out a few highly trained enemies before he became a victim himself too. Seething through his teeth he knocks Aria away with his hand, not realizing what he’s done. She falls to the ground with a thud. Opening his eyes, he quickly rushes to her side and tries to help her up….he can’t even manage to help a simple human being up with how light and weak he feels. Aria uses him for support to help herself.

Adam sits back on the bed. Taking a look at his surroundings. Everything in here looks pure white. Not that he expects anything less with everything being made from just a fancy upgraded printer. The difference is the walls are changing their decorations. Different pictures in photographs would appear, making the place look like a revolving picture book. It wouldn’t be half bad if under different circumstances. He turns to see Aria is over by the window looking out. He’s almost afraid to ask what she sees.

“There’s a lot of others like this. Looking completely miserable with guards from TARVOS surrounding the place. They’re escorting them to other cells. I don’t see any sunlight. Just rows of doors with numbers on them.” Aria steps back when one of the guards comes tapping on the window with his gun, telling her to get back. She does as she’s told.

A TV display pops up on a rotation. It’s from the new CEO: Claire Lamari with her new assistant: Felice Ullmann. Adam recognizes the second woman. She praised how this place is going to be the center of attention and how everyone here is going to live in harmony with no fear. He can’t wait to tell her how wrong she has been this whole time. No one’s going to live in such a state. Everyone’s going to be…

Claire Lamari interrupts Jensen’s thoughts. “Now! Now! I know things seem rough at first, but I promise you, certain augmentations will be restored over time. We’re just using these measures as a precaution. Plus, we must comply in agreement with the new UN laws regardless of being a privately-owned company and all that yada, yada everyone thinks is true.”

Felice holds up a pamphlet. “We recommend everyone to go through each electronic brochure on the nightstand next to your bed. It will tell you what you will be doing and what your assignment will be during your stay here. We know you’ll love it here within due time! We’re not going to turn this into a prison, and please report any abuse you received from the guards or anyone living here to the proper officer assigned to your unit. If the channel needs to go higher up the chain, the guide will direct you to go to next. With that said, each paper is personally assigned to every individual staying with us currently. Please enjoy your stay and remember to give this place a chance! You might find this to be your second home!”

Adam’s heard enough of this. He holds up his hand to turn off the TV with the remote hacking but turns out he can’t even use it. He stares at his hand to see another slug like scar just below his thumb. Aria quickly turns off the TV herself before Jensen does anything stupid. She understands how broken he must feel right now. He’s nearly lost all his augmentations through them getting ripped out, disabled, or chipped. While hers? She’s just on a crutch and has a bandage covering up the gaping mechanical hole where her augmented arm used to be.

Adam looks up at her. “I’m sorry about your arm. I know how hard you worked using it…” He didn’t know what else to say. Everything around him is changing too fast, and his brain can’t keep up. Didn’t help his head is spinning from the chip placed in the back of his neck.

Aria sits down next to him, leaning her head against his shoulder. She needs all the comfort right now, knowing that Mac isn’t here to hold her with his comforting hand. “Is it silly I regret not telling MacReady how I feel right now?”

“You can tell him when I figure a way out of here.” Adam continues to study the room. He didn’t even notice the door to the bathroom next to a vanity mirror on top of a female dresser filled with a few Knick knacks, a comb, and a jewelry box with fake grape vines wrapped around it. Seems personalized.

Aria studies Adam’s dresser. A rotating picture of some rookie baseball cards, a Detroit Tiger’s autographed baseball lying on top of a stand in the shape of gold-plated bats, and a sealed off letter with Adam’s name on it. She picks it up and hands it to him. He opens it up and starts to read it out loud.

“Dear Mr. Jensen, Sarif speaks highly of you, and as we like to accommodate everyone in this city, we hope you are pleased with the value of the treasures. We want everyone to feel right at home. Tell Miss Argento that her postcard of Tuscany will be on their way. Getting everyone’s possessions here will be a bit of a challenge. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. – Felice U.” Adam crumbles up the note and throws it in the trash bin next to the dresser. He takes a deep breath in and out, remembering the special folder beneath his floorboards. He hopes Janus has enough brains to clean out his apartment before any illuminati-controlled security finds it.

Aria sits down on the vanity stool, starring right into the mirror into those tired eyes. “Miller will come for you too. He won’t let you stay here.”

Adam bites his lip. Miller WOULD come and rescue him too! Why wouldn’t he? That’s his boyfriend, and…again, he repeats his head: would he? “I don’t want him to risk his life. I want you out first.”

“What are you going to do, Adam? Blow up the place? Kill all these innocent lives?” Aria unfolds her brochure she picked up while Adam tuned into his own dresser. “Looks like I am on outside guard watch duty. Not sure if placing a cripple like me is the best of choice-wait…” The pamphlet’s text alternates into a new set of instructions. “Now it wants me to watch the armory. Why? What does yours say, Adam?”

Adam picks up the one on his night stand. “Says for me to stay in my room and follow the orders as given on this electronic pamphlet signed by…” …Janus. What? “Aria, let me see yours.”

Aria hands him her pamphlet. He studies the electronics side by side. Hoping to have some clear effort with what’s going on. He shakes hers to see if any changes but no. Stick to the armory under these hours and supervisions. A certain guard will be assigned to her and one for Adam. A sense of relief wants to wash over him, but it doesn’t. This is an awfully risky move Janus has done by separating them and sticking with them changeable instructions that might last from five minutes to five days. Adam hopes to be out of here by then. He hands it back to Aria.

“Keep this on you at all times. The instructions will change as the day and nights move on.” Adam sets his back on the nightstand. He gets back on the bed and sits himself in a yoga style position. He learned from Miller a while ago that sometimes this helps settle the thoughts in his brain. A bit of a meditation flashback pops through his head.

Miller and Jensen are sitting upon the cushions under the floorboards, playing a simple game of chess. Of course, Miller is beating the crap out of him, but this is not normal chess. This is “Strip Meditation chess”. For every piece knocked off the board by the opponent a person must strip and sit in the most twister style positions the other can think of it. Safe to say by the end of it all Adam has one leg over the back of his neck with his arm through the armpit hole. He’s not amused.

Miller laughs. “Nice view, agent.”

And of course Miller only managed to lose his shoes and socks! This game is no fair and Adam’s penis is exposed to his lover. Not that he doesn’t mind that part. He deserves a reward going through all these mental gymnastics with his boyfriend.

Miller moves the board aside and untangles him. “You deserve a kiss.”

Adam wants more than just a kiss! He snubs his nose away.

“Awww, come on, Adam. I am not that cruel to you.” Miller moves Adam’s chin back facing him and places a gentle kiss on his lips.

Adam goes to complain and stops when he feels Miller’s other hand starts to wonder downwards.

Aria interrupts Adam’s daydream. “Hey, Adam?”

Adam rubs his forehead and looks at what Aria is holding. A fresh pair of clean clothes for both him and her. She tells him that they were just dropped off, and more will be coming in the morning. He sighs and takes his own white sleepwear. Guess it’s night time out if they’re being forced to go to sleep at this time of night. He tells Aria to grab what she needs for a shower first. She doesn’t argue with him and does so. A good shower will do them both good.

Adam pulls the undergarments he needs from his own dresser. Just then he heard the click of the door and something slide through a moving tray door. He didn’t even recognize that part as a moveable object, they were told this is a constantly rotating city with clean water, trees, and everyone will play a part to make this city home. He takes the contents from the tray before pushing it back in. It’s fresh fruit snacks. How kind of them to make sure they’re not starving through the night. Adam might be able to handle a few days without said nutrients, but Aria is not mainly all metal. He goes to her side of the bed and lays more the snacks down for her. That’s when he heard the crying coming from the other side. He goes to investigate.

Adam knocks on the door. “Aria? Are you ok? Do you need any help in there?”

She sniffles and rubs her eyes. “Sorry, thinking about the time Duncan handed me that multicolored rose and I didn’t say yes to the date like an idiot!”

Adam smiles softly. “He has a soft spot for you.”

Aria laughs. “I know…I am just an idiot for not noticing.”

Adam tells her he has a funny story about him and Miller with their oblivious relationship at times. She steps out of the shower, gets herself ready for the night, and comes out. Her eyes are sparkling with giddiness of wanting to hear all the embarrassing stories between the two lovers. Adam agrees, but only if he lets her brush that long hair of hers and helps her with straightening out her clothes. She’s a bit embarrassed on the lather, but Adam assures her she doesn’t need to be. It’s been up in those braids for so long that it’ll take all night to get them untangled just by herself. She agrees.

And so begins the embarrassing story night of Adam and Miller’s relationship, starting with the meditation chess game.

Our flagship project to create such a city is called Rabi’ah. It will represent the first time that industrial 3D printing is ever used to assemble an entire city on site. The plan for this city is for it to serve as a global refuge for the augmented, free from segregation and amply supplied with large stores of Neuropozyne.

Miller is pacing with Mac around the meeting area where Alex Vega and Adam Jensen used to meet, the old LIMB clinic, the attic part this time due to potentially being followed. Double and triple check any corners to make sure they weren’t followed by any certain picture taking redheads, limousine pilots, and snooping psychologists. With what Janus told them back at TF29, neither one of them knew who to trust anymore! 

Mac can’t stand it anymore. “Will you stop pacing, Miller! You’re making me nervous. Janus said he has everything under control with the agents. You need to sit down in this cramped corner with me, enjoy this free ale left behind by a homeless drunk, and relax your brain!”

Miller didn’t understand Mac’s attitude. “You have an agent that you care for deeply on the inside of some prison paradise. How are you remaining calm? You didn’t see the things…” Miller goes to calm himself. He wants to say that Mac didn’t see the way things went down with Aria and Adam. Being director of TF29, sometimes he’s forced to watch things that shouldn’t have happened. Everyone on the first floor in that underground basement witnessing what happened to Aria on the spot, it terrifies him. How can people be barbaric?

Mac whispers to Miller, “Did you watch the tape of Agent Jensen?”

“I didn’t have much of a choice! Being forced to watch a briefing on what to do when an augmented man infiltrates our building.” That’s the cover up story the world is going with, or how the fake Eliza Cassan and PICUS news is spinning it. Manderley is pretending that this is a new way to vet people that show even the slightest suspicion of moving an augmented finger to scratch an itch under their chin. In other words, ridiculous and hateful.

Mac doesn’t mention about the new technology they received this morning that handles augmented people with extreme prejudice. Miller ran out that night in hopes to fight for Jensen’s freedom. He nearly joined them. TARVOS saying they can put a fake aug on Miller, threatening him with their batons and guns, forcing the older man to back off from. Miller hoped the soldiers got a good final laugh in. There will be no more dark humor for them to enjoy, not when Juggernaut is done, if they ever get here.

Time seems to stick when waiting for the cavalry. Mac pulls out a deck of playing cards from his coat. Back when he served in the UK, he and his buddies would pull up a couple of chairs, grab a couple of beers from the fridge, and have an all-night poker session on a makeshift wooden box for a table. Made the steak outs go by pretty quickly too, minus the beer. He starts to shuffle the deck, passing around a card back and forth till they each have five cards. Miller takes a look at his hand; he doesn’t quite understand what he’s looking at. Chess he can play and strategize, but five card draw is not his strong point. Is it too late to recommend Go Fish?

Mac discards two cards and picks up two from the deck. “We can pretend the clubs are pawns if you wish.”

Miller snorts at Mac’s dry humor. “That is not how chess works.” He discards three and draws three. Disappointed that nothing in his hand matches any suit of colors or pairs. He doesn’t even know what he’s looking at! Everything’s so muddled. He throws the cards across the room in frustration.

“Hey! Why you do that for? You had four of a kind!” Of course, Mac is joking. He doesn’t know what Miller has. He sets his hand face down to study the other man. Impatient, angry, and leg is bobbing up and down. Just a shitty ordinary day for Miller.

Luck has it in for them. They can hear someone crawling through the vent, kicking it open, and coming out. A two-stripped hair woman pokes her head out to see a stun gun pointed directly at her forehead. “Look, man, I know I am not the man of your dreams here, but please point the gun in the other direction. I am with Janus and my name is Alex Vega. I will be your designated pilot to Oman.”

This doesn’t make Miller feel any better.

Our primary goal is to rebuild and strengthen global unity, and we will travel to the far reaches of the earth in order to pursue and achieve this goal.

Aria looks around the place she has been assigned too. The armory. One that rivals Fort Knox with how tight the security is. It’s filled to the brim with all kinds of layers of security that surpasses any level 5 hacking abilities on any augmented soldier. If even one thinks about using their hacking aug…well, the instructional video showed a live electrocution from a hidden wall panel of a former inmate that’s a suspected terrorist. What’s worse is the happy go lucky Ullman on the other side telling all the newly assigned trainee’s not to be like these people and to follow all commanding officers, and to report any problems if necessary, before signing off the live feed. Aria wants to be throw up. How can this woman act like this?

A voice behind her speaks, one she doesn’t recognize. “Aria? Aria Argento?”

Aria turns away from the video to address the man with a bald head, and a mean scowl that doesn’t play around. His name badge reads: White. He’s strictly wearing a TARVOS uniform, combat rifle in his hands, and nudging her in the leg with the front end of the barrel. “I’ve been ordered to take you to med bay for a new arm augmentation. I don’t know why we let people like you have new meat. You’re just a disposable shield like the rest of them.”  

Aria looks to where the man is pointing. There are more people like her with missing body parts supposedly guarding the armory. Why? Why are they not being taken in? Most look more capable than her, with their bulkier exteriors, and anger filled eyes. They don’t seem to like her for being the one picked to get the fancy new TYM arm. Except med bay is in the opposite direction according to the sign. White leads her to a more secure part of the base, punching in a few numbers on the keypad, looking around before leading her into an underground part of a maintenance shaft where a Sarif Industries arm model lies. She eyes it with a mysterious glint. What’s going on here? She turns to White for answers. He says nothing and knocks her out with the butt of the barrel.

She later wakes up to see White finishing the remaining touches. He gives her a frown and goes back to work, ignoring her grunt of pain. Damn, the girl can take a few sparks. “You’re a tough woman, I’ll give you that. Do me a favor though, keep the jacket on. I don’t need anyone knowing that you have a real arm you’re working with. Smuggling this bad boy in here came with a hefty price. Don’t waste it.”

“Who are you?” Aria’s arm is finished. She takes it back and starts to flex her fingers. They tingle. She’ll have to get used to this situation quickly.

“Someone who made a lot of stupid mistakes in his past and given a second chance.” In truth, another inmate who personally got picked up out of jail by TARVOS for his lack of intelligence but ability to follow orders. There’s more, but he’s not going to disclose any information…not yet. He needs to see for himself if the organizations he’s joined are legit and willing to give him a second chance for his stupidity back in 2027.

Aria doesn’t trust him. The new gift doesn’t let her put her guard down. “Does Jensen know about you?”

“Oh, he knows me really well. Punched me in the face a few times.” White laughs off his own joke. “Look, you need to get back to the armory. I’ll lead you back.”

He stands up, helping her up, slipping her an encryption key in her sleeve. He places a finger on his lips, telling her to remain silent. He points to down the hall where a group of workers are laughing and coming their way. He quickly opens the door for her, looking around to see if the close is cleared, it is, and then he takes her out of the hole, back to the armory. The leading officer comes over to question him, placing Aria on the spot, but White has her back. Handing him the forged papers that are already to go. Aria wonders if this is the price the man is talking about, because the next thing she sees on the TV screen is the death of a civilian med lab technician that deals with augmented mechanics somewhere not in her sector. Just who is this White guy?

He shrugs it off as if the tech is nothing. “Not everyone here is innocent. Trust no one.” He turns to leave, pulling out his communicator, dialing in a code to Vega’s aircraft, letting her know not to park her V-TOL anywhere near the sector that’s under lockdown. No need to come in hot.

Aria still has no idea what’s going on and doesn’t get much time to think as her watcher is pushing her to the position where she needs to stand guard. She sighs, setting up her base of operations with the gun she is given. It’s no even loaded. Guess Oman really thinks she’s just a meat shield that’s dispensable. She can’t help but envy Adam’s current position of staying in his room till further notice.

The promise of augmentation is the promise of better health, better employment opportunities, and a greater sense of personal and collective empowerment. It is the promise of a better life.  

Mac’s not pleased to see the V-TOL being parked two miles out in the middle of the fucking desert, away from the destination they need to be at! He’s hunkering down on a scarf wrapped around his neck, with the lightest combat gear the bird packed. He’s thankful for the jugs of water and change of clothes. Miller and he were not prepared for this hike of agony. Vega insisted that this is must! Her bird is not equipped with the lay low type of cloaking like most of the main military vehicles are. It would draw too much suspicion from the base if the infrared sensors picked up anything on their trail. Miller agrees with her, despite his condescending attitude towards this whole idea. He just wants to get Adam out of there as soon as possible.

Vega sees the skepticism on everyone’s face. They have every right to feel this way. She didn’t debrief them on anything during the agonizingly quiet plane ride. She pulls a map out of her backpack to show them a series of underground tunnels with pipes and turbines that connect to the underground water sources. “There are bunkers around this area that lead into these tunnels. We will be taking one of these routes to get as close to Jensen’s sector as much as possible. Janus’ lead man out here is supposed to be letting me know shortly of how many people are guarding the one entrance we need to enter.”

Miller studies the map. Unfazed by the structures of 3D printed pipes, but there’s something that concerns him. “If this place is constantly rotating and printing new designs, won’t the floors below the sand rotate too?”

“No. The turbines and filters underground prevent that. Only the main facility rotates and changes.” She folds the map back up and places it in her pocket. “We need to get moving if we want to get there before nightfall.”

Mac is stunned. “We’re attacking during the day?”

“No one is attacking anything. At least not us. We’re just here on a rescue mission. Let the other people on the inside take care of that.” Vega and the crew start their long journey. She hopes for a phone call soon or this is going to be one awkward talk she doesn’t want to deal with.

“Just the way everyone is talking, this makes it seem like we’re on a one-way train to a suicide mission.” Mac isn’t disappointed, but he doesn’t feel right leaving augmented civilians to their fate here. Even if they have everything they need, it’s still operated under the false pretenses of promises and a fake leader. Who wants to live like that?

Vega stops, looking at her GPS coordinates. “Try not to think about it.”

There’s the false hope that Miller senses in her. He seems the one that’s mostly agitated about all of this. Janus promised them that they were going to save lives along the way so what gives? Did some last-minute plan mission change, or…the fact that they’re still untrustworthy in the eyes of the present and the past? Something’s off. Miller decides to ask, knowing he’s going to get a roundabout answer.

“Don’t worry about it, man. You two are already doing enough helping us get Jensen and Argento out.” She continues along the desert with the questioning men.

Miller stops. Takes a sip of water out of his jug and adjusts his attire. “Listen here, Agent Vega! We don’t have time for these petty games! The two people we care about lives are on the line here, and we demand answers! We’re not going to move another step till we get them!”

“Jim…” Mac places his hand on Miller’s shoulder. He hates it when his blood pressure rises like this, and it’s all making sense now. “They only told us those things to get us to agree to go along with this.”

Vega turns to look at them. “Because I am trying to get you two to focus on the current mission at hand. If Janus didn’t feel like you two could be trusted, then you wouldn’t be here with me.”

Miller pipes up again, his tone changing to one of concern, “Do you trust us?”

Vega takes a minute to think about her answer. Did she trust them? She’s not one to really open herself up willingly to the first person that she meets on the street. No one’s really asked her for her own personal story life or opinion, unless their name is Adam Jensen. She decides to leave those thoughts to herself. They don’t need to know anything about her, just the current mission at hand. “Yes, I trust you two. Jensen subtly talks about you when he doesn’t realize it, director.”

Miller doesn’t know how to respond to that. They continue along the desert in silence. He’s thinking about another memory between the two of them, back under the staircase where Adam is still in that awkward position.

Adam doesn’t like the way his body has twist and turned. He’s showing off everything to his lover. Not that Miller minds in anyways. He’s mentioned in his head about the nice view that he wants to crawl up to Jensen, prep him up, and just fuck him on the spot. He might just do that. Chuckling, he pulls out a tube of lubrication from under one of the pillows, uncaps it, and goes over to the younger man, pulling him in for a kiss. Adam doesn’t complain this time. “Twister Chess Sex” sounds like the hot new rage here.

Adam closes his eyes, untangling himself with the help of Miller’s long fingers. Feeling them move down to his legs, pushing them up to his shoulders, placing gentle kisses here and there. Both of them are enjoying the feeling of each other’s company. Miller’s fingers are lowering themselves to the pillows, adjusting them to a position under Adam to make him feel comfortable for the preparation. He won’t be staying there for long, the pillows will shift, and all the weight will be on the hard part of the wooden boards.

Adam lets out his usual stoic moan when he feels the fingers enter him. A faint blush creeps upon his face, and his breathing becomes slightly heavier. “That’s good enough.”

He’s easily sensitive due to the dermal armor in his buttocks. Makes the friction and lubrication expand on his insides for a tight fit. Miller wonders if Sarif really needed to add something like that down there, but he complies with Adam’s request. He pulls out, pulls down his own pants and underwear, grabs a condom from under one of the cushions, and after lubricating himself up, he places it on his tip and rolls it down. Looking back up at Adam, he sees him nod. That’s all he needed. He lines himself up with Adam’s entrance and starts his slow and steady pace.

The pace didn’t last long. Miller is biting at Adam’s neck as he pounds into the man below him. Not once stopping to gather his breath. Adam is letting out loud noises. He wraps his augmented arms around the older man, bringing him in for a kiss. Miller returns it, using his own tongue to enter Adam’s mouth to taste everything. They need this, both of them need this with all their love and strength. With everything going on around them, the missions they go on together, and the fear of never coming back alive…it terrifies them. They both savior this time together when they pull away. Miller straightens his back, gives Adam a few jerking thrusts, and then…

Vega calls out to Miller, “Director? We’re here.”

Miller snaps out of his daydream. Indeed they are. They’re currently hiding on top of one of the sandhills that is overlooking the bunker. Mac is looking through his binoculars to see how many men are keeping guard. He couldn’t see from the position they were in, but if he had to guess…one blurry figure is guarding the main door. He hands the item back to Vega and lets her know what he’s seen. Not much guard on the outside for being out in the desert. Just a tent with a water and food station set up.

“Good. That means he’s one of ours.” Vega stands up and starts walking with the other two.

Miller wants to pull her back down and ask how she knows when the rays from the hot sun are blinding and no bullshit answers this time!

Vega looks back at Miller. “Because it’s White. He managed to take the guys shift since the TARVOS guard has been out here for a whole night and part of the day with no sleep. Trust me, these guys don’t want to be out of here as much as you do.”

Mac and Miller are uneasy when they walk up to the station. They’re on guard when they see the man. White looks at the two behind his sunglasses. “What are you two staring at? Refill your jugs and grab a couple of sandwiches. We have a mile’s worth of pipelines to follow, and I am not in any fucking mood to deal people passing out on me.”

Mac snorts. “You’re pleasant.”

“And you’re all sunshine and rainbows, Brit. Now, stock up! I am not going to say it again!” White pulls Vega to the side to go over the information he has gathered back at the main fortress.

Miller and Mac do as they’re told. The sandwiches are still cold, and the ice water felt good on their skin. They didn’t speak to one another during the break. They take the time to reflect on themselves and place their mind at ease. They’re closer to busting Jensen and Argento out of that hellhole.

White walks over to the two. “Alright, enough meditation. We need to move.” He forcefully opens the hatch, peeks inside. Everything seems to be in order. No one’s currently checking on the pipes. He motions with his head for everyone to follow. They do so, watching their backs behind them.

White feels along the 3D printed pipes. One can almost see the water through them. “Amazing, right? People can do the right thing with this much power but can also fuck it up at the same time when led by the wrong people.” He knocks on the pipe, listening to the sound it makes.

No one disagrees as they walk down the corridors. They can see 3D Printers moving along the walls, slowly making upgrades, models, and patches to their system. The computers attached to them giving them instructions and making sure the water levels are flowing at a steady pace. Everything here feels unique and unreal to Miller and Mac. Vega really has no feelings towards a place that captures augmented people and force them to be used as manual labor, and it can have the 31st century technology from Mars. White just wants out of this place and go back home. They all really do.

The Santeau Group understands why you became augmented. It understands your concern and shares your ideals. After having successfully carried out countless reconstruction and recovery projects across the globe, the Santeau Group is now dedicated to revolutionizing the spaces we inhabit. Rabi’ah is a new city for a new age – a self-sufficient safe haven relying on renewable energy and a zero-waste ecology. A better life demands a better city – thanks to Rabi’ah – both are possible. The promise awaits!

Adam is restless. He’s pacing his room, ignoring the meal that had been brought to him. He’s not one to sit around and wait for the action to come to him. He wants his guns, his augmentations, and his sense of worth back to fight against those who tried to oppress him, and the people trapped here. He wants to punch a wall. He won’t try it. He’ll only damage his hand, and the wall will just repair itself in minutes. Instead he goes to his dresser and watches a miniature printer pop out of the wall and start 3D printing a blue fox on it. Within an hour it’s finished. Adam picks it up. It’s a basic print of a simple fox with nine tails and a stare that peers right into his soul. What on earth would these people think that he needs this? He places it on top of Aria’s music box. Looks better here.

Just at the right moment Aria comes in from a day’s work with two cups of hot coffee in her hands. She hands one to Adam. Adam thanks her and sits on the bed. He instantly looks at the arm. So, Janus did follow through with what he said he wanted to do. Adam should be thankful and happy for that, but somewhere inside himself he knew he still had doubts about the man who still hasn’t shown his face after working with the collective and him for some time now, Alex knows he wants to uncover the man behind the mask. He pushes the thoughts to the back of his mind for now. He’ll take a crack at them when he has time. Right now, he wants to concentrate on the Sarif model. It’s much like his but sleeker. Makes sense since he doesn’t have a womanly frame. Does the arm contain an arm blade and other hidden attributes? He goes to question. Aria gives him the basic rundown about what happened and the name of the TARVOS soldier.  

Aria then tries to form anything that would come out of her arm. Nothing. “I guess it’s just an arm. I thought Sarif would be a bit more imaginative.”

“For the best. Did this White guy give you any Neuropozyne?” Adam helps her out of her jacket. She’s still struggling a bit, trying to get used to a new arm again.

“Yes.” Aria pulls out a box form her jacket containing six vials. This will last her a couple of months before she’s going to need more, depending if her rejection syndrome is still on the heavy side. Adam will do everything he can in his power to make sure she won’t end up like anybody back in Prague.

Aria finishes her coffee in silence and then goes to the bathroom to take care of her business and shower. Adam goes back to his coffee as he sits on the bed to meditate about the situation. He looks at his own body. He feels disconnected from himself. He feels like he doesn’t know his own body anymore. Everything feels off. He clenches his fist, trying to remote hack the TV in front of him. Open, close. Open, close. Nothing. Nothing. There’s nothing! He wants to pinch the metal thing off the circle under his thumb pad. Damn the people that did this! Damn that UN clause! Damn everything about this world. Adam punches the nightstand next to him, hurting his hand. He ignores the tingling sensation. He just wants to be able to feel his body like he used to again. He leans against the headboard, closing his eyes, and thinks about Miller. Will he accept him for who he is now?

Miller pulls himself out of Adam when he’s finished. Looking down, he can still see that Adam still needs his own release. Smirking, the older gentleman leans down to Adam’s penis, kissing the little skin on the inside of his thigh. Adam’s leg tenses up at the strange sensation. It’s not exactly uncommon for his body to feel differently from the rest of himself. Ever since the implants under his skin, the sense of touch from someone else hasn’t been the same. Miller doesn’t seem to mind. He’s enjoying the different movements that Adam is making. This doesn’t compare anything Miller’s ex-husband. This is much more savory. He licks his lips, leans the tip of his tongue down to Adam’s shaft, and starts his exploration.

Adam’s hands grip the pillows. Not much use for their grip, they slip out of his hands or they’re too tough to grab. They’re only throw pillows. The tightness won’t allow him any edge or angle. He’s forced to grab onto Miller’s hair, giving it quite a pull. Miller doesn’t mind. He just hopes he’s not going to go bald after this experience. Then…it stops. Miller looks up from his goodness to see something lingering in Adam’s eyes. He pulls up, licking his lips.

“What’s wrong?” Miller moves his hand to Adam’s penis. He doesn’t want to neglect him.

“I don’t know. I feel…” Adam forces his head to relax against the pillow. “I don’t know how I feel.”

Miller wants to tell him to let go. Not to feel anything and just let his hands do all the work. This is Adam’s time to feel good and shine. There should be no thinking, no worries, and no closing out. Make sure of it, Miller. He goes in again, removing his hand to continue enjoying his treat. He moves his hands among the base again, gripping tightly onto Adam’s testicles, rolling them in between his fingers. He doesn’t need to look up to know Adam’s enjoying himself with the way he’s trying to make himself stay still.

The aftermath comes soon after. Both get out from under the stairs to clean themselves up. Giving each other light kisses on the cheek and lips. Foreheads are touching, hands wrapped around each other’s necks, lightly whispering “I love you” to one another, smiling. Miller is happy to see that emotion on Adam’s lips. It’s so rare to see Adam smile. Miller takes it in as he enjoys the gentle laugh that follows suit. That’s the one thing that he cherishes most of all.

Adam’s laughter is something to get through anyone’s day. It’s not dry, it’s not overly funny. It’s just right. Just takes it, Miller. Don’t look back from it.  

Aria comes out towel drying her long hair. “Did I just hear you laugh?”

No use denying it now. “Yes. Thinking of a memory.”

Aria smiles at him. Laughter is the best medicine coming out of Adam’s mouth. She adjusts her pajamas before going to the vanity mirror to brush her hair. She takes the brush in her hands and goes through the knots. Adam gets up to help her again. He takes it from her and gently goes through the long locks, making sure he’s gentle with the locks, but for some reason he has the sudden urge to talk about Mac. He’s sitting here reminiscing about his own boyfriend in his own head he didn’t even think about talking to Aria about her situation with her supposed boyfriend. He did tell her funny stories about their relationship.

“So…Aria, how are things with you and MacReady?” Adam bites back the bile in his throat. He regrets asking right away as Aria’s shoulders have stiffen.

“Still waiting for him to ask me out. I swear I think he has a plan to take me to Tuscany to propose.” She’s overheard a joking conversation her boss had with his comrades about asking her to prom or a wedding. She laughed it off with another agent when walking past him, saying something about boys being boys with their high school romantic fantasies. She didn’t fail to notice the sulking shoulders on Mac after her little comment.

Adam humps in amusement. “After this, I will be surprised if he doesn’t sweep you off your feet and kiss you.”

“Did Miller sweep you off yours?” Aria turns to face Adam after he’s done brushing her hair.

“Yes, he did. In fact, he ended up dropping me under his doorway before even making it to the bed.” Adam brushes his beard at the memory. His eyes dropped a bit. He thought the old man pulled a hip when he clutched his thigh that night. Complained about Adam being too heavy with all those built in augmentations of his. Adam had to remind Miller that it’s his own fault for being persistent towards wanting to show how he could carry him with that spring in his step. Nearly put him in the hospital! Ever since then, they made an agreement that Adam would be the one to carry Miller over the threshold, and yes, still when they get married. Miller made the man promise him not to record that part if it happens. Adam made no promises. What? Their Susie and Ethan are going to need something to laugh at when they get older.

Aria places a hand over her mouth to stop her laughter. “Somehow I think I’ll be able to carry Mac above my head with my new arm!” She places her hand on the carbon bicep and flexes it.

“He’ll love that.” Adam has nothing more to say to that. “Sorry, I am not one for these kinds of conversations. I am going to take a shower.”

Aria nods. “Alright. Be careful. Keep the door open, so I can hear you if you fall. I know what…” She stops talking. She knows what happened to him? She doesn’t, but staring at his body, he just looks…bare.

He agrees. “Alright, Aria.”

He leaves the door fully open. She whispers a thank you for the fox.

We are the most technological advance generation in history. At an individual level, we have successfully integrated the best of this new technology into our bodies and into our lives. At a communal level, however, many of us feel out of place in our surroundings. The cities we inhabit are – at best – repositories of old architecture and old prejudice that no longer match our potential or our needs. At worst, they feel openly hostile to what we have become.

The walk feels like hours. Constantly stopping and plowing through other doors to make sure no one gets caught. For a 3D printed city that’s supposed to be self-sufficient there are surely a lot of maintenance workers! Everyone’s getting frustrated, including White, who has to keep telling his group to stay back while he talks to TARVOS workers. Pulling out a fake laugh every time out of his ass, just to keep up the appearance with his “buddies”. Man needs better friends.

Mac leans against the wall, pushing the mop aside to keep it from digging into his shoulder. “I swear I am not playing 7 minutes in heaven with you, Miller!”

Miller waves him off. “You couldn’t handle me. I am no pushover when it comes to these games.”

What kind of challenge is this? Vega rubs her temple. She didn’t ask for this idiocy. She rather face the enemy out on the frontline than listen to these two argue over who’s a better kisser. What is this? The fourth janitorial closet they’ve been thrown into by White? Sighing, she pats her side, making sure her trusty stun gun is by her side. She feels the Biocell’s in her pocket. Maybe she could use them to sneak pass everyone and just get to Jensen herself? No. She can’t abandon these idiots now. White is currently the only sane one here and Janus would kill her and throw her in some underground hole, never to see the light of day again or praise her. She doubts he really wants to deal with this Brady Bunch if he showed his face here.

White opens the door to see the two men are very close to one another. “Am I interrupting something? You two look like you’re about to have a hot make out session. Please don’t. I don’t want to shoot you both and drag your bodies down the pathways.”

Miller pushes past White. “No, we weren’t. We just get into each other’s faces a lot when arguing.”

“Best friends do that.” Mac pats Miller’s shoulder.

“Right. Just quit being idiots!” White points his combat rile down the hallway. “Let’s go. The sun is setting.”

How can he tell with the lack of light filtering in here? No one says anything. They continue down the path till they reach a hatch. White asks for Mac’s help to open it. They both grab each handle by the door and open it up. They’re met with an aqueduct of some sort. There are scientists all over the place with tablets and clipboards in their hands, making sure everything is running smoothly. White and the gang enter a side door where a set of lockers and coats are. They each find a set that matches them.

White opens up a hidden roof top panel and chugs his groups stuff up there. “They’ll be safe up here for the time being.”

Mac feels silly wearing scrubs. Miller doesn’t dislike it. He thinks about trying this idea out with Adam. Maybe even buy a stethoscope and a doctor’s bad. He can play an old timely doctor. Vega ignores the two as she adjusts with her hair. She pins it into a bun and does her best to hide her dyed streaks. She doesn’t need anyone spotting her. White just sticks with his usual attire. He throws his rifle over his shoulder and makes his way towards the front entrance. A couple of TARVOS guards are leaning against the wall, laughing away about some poor guy they kicked down a set of stairs, complaining about being too slow or for being too clumsy. White nods to them and uses his security clearance to open the door. The door doesn’t open at first. He gets a bit nervous. He thought Janus cleared him through this sector. The TARVOS guards come up to him, he starts reaching for the butt of his gun, thinking he needs to make a move, but one guy opens it for him.

“These new cards stick all the time. No worries, mate.” The guy brushes him off and lets the group on through without a second thought. White thanks him as he tries to control the pounding in his chest. He thought his life flashed before his eyes.

Mac closes the door behind him. “Jesus Christ, I think I nearly shit myself back there.”

Miller had enough of this. When they’re in an area where no one can see them he throws White up against the wall, pinning him there. “Why are we really here?”

White glares at Miller. “You have ten seconds to let me go before my knuckles end up through your eye sockets.”

Miller takes good on his threat. He lets him go, not wanting a blood bath on this rescue mission. Vega steps in between the two before things get heated. Holding them both at arm’s length with open palms. She understands that they were almost caught, but now is not the time to act out and fight. This doesn’t stop them from raising their voices. Miller pushes past her and gets back up in his face.

White pushes Miller off of him, pinning him into the nearby wall. “Listen here, Miller. I am not here to be your friend, be your acquaintance, or make sure YOU out of all the people on this little rescue mission make it out alive. I am here on my reconnaissance for more people than just Janus! I did my first half with your little secretive boyfriend. I don’t HAVE to help you and your Brit friend through this maze! Vega here is well capable of that!”

Mac goes to help his friend, Alex grabs his arm, telling him not to get involved. White will handle Miller just fine without hurting him. He’s a hot head, but he won’t intentionally hurt someone much smaller than him. Mac doesn’t believe her. He shakes her arm off of him and starts raising her voice at her, demanding answers. The quiet be damned. If TARVOS comes, then they come. Raise a little bit of chaos so everyone comes running. Maybe it’ll bring Jensen and Argento out in the open, so they can grab them and make their way back here among the waters, since no one in their right mind would come down here and shoot fire at the tanks.

Alex knows Mac isn’t really thinking with the way things are. She holds her hands up to his face, gripping it tightly, tugging at his cheeks. “I know you care for them, MacReady. I really understand where you’re coming from, but you need to calm down. I promise once we’re out of here I will explain everything but fighting like this will get us nowhere.”

White pushes Miller farther into the wall. “You going to listen to her too? I can always crush your windpipe. I am sure your little boyfriend back in his room would be pleased to never get a blowjob from you ever again!”

Too far. Miller ends up breaking his grip from White due to a move Jensen taught him a while ago on how to escape a pinning. White is caught off guard and grips at his knee. The sucker punch to the face didn’t help afterwards. White backed away from him, holding his bleeding nose, and cursing at Miller. Wow, he packs a punch for such a skinny guy. He starts laughing as he wipes the blood on his sleeve. Vega and Mac are frozen on the spot as if they’re both deer caught in the headlights. It takes a spat of blood on the ground from White’s mouth for Mac to snap out of it. He quickly goes to grab the combat rifle, but White holds his hand up to him. He’s not going to do anything to anyone.

“You get one freebie, Miller. Any other punches and kicks I will put an indention in your head. You got me?” White adjusts himself and continues on walking, not saying another word to them till they reach an empty conference room on the floor above them.

Vega looks at the map. “White, your destination will be here.” She points to the west wing of the building where the main corporate offices are.

“Good. Then I am out. Have fun babysitting these babies.” White gives them the middle finger salute as he leaves.

Vega turns to Mac and Miller. “You two are unbelievable! Not even Jensen is this misbehaved! We’re lucky no one came to investigate all the yelling!”

Mac wants to point out that she’s a hypocrite, because she’s yelling at them right now! He sits down in the chair, telling her to lower her own voice if they want to have this meeting. Vega takes a few deep breaths and realizes he’s right. She sits down in an empty chair adjacent to Mac and Miller. Holding up her hands, she clenches her fists, and shakes her head. How does Adam deal with these two idiots on a daily basis? She takes another few deep breaths. She needs to remain calm and control this throbbing headache that’s starting to form.

“Ok. I’m calm and in my happy place. Look, men, we’re in a real tight pickle here, and the new arm your female agent has is more than just looks. White installed a very inexperienced prototype chip on it that is going to help bring this place back under augmented control. She-“ Vega is interrupted by Mac’s hand raising. “What, MacReady?”

“A new arm? Is it that cheap TYM crap? I don’t want something that’s going to break in a month on-“ He gets interrupted by a pencil being thrown at his face. “Hey!”

“As I am saying, there’s a chip in there that connects to all the brochures of this place. Our jobs are to get to the main computer area in the security wing, with her in toe, and have the chip uploaded to the secure core. This opens up the highest security armory and reassigns all of the chips to the designated area. TARVOS won’t know what will hit them till it’s too late.” Vega places a finger on her watch, pulling up the main core room. “Ok, so this is where the central computer is for all security clearances.”

She goes on and explains the mission and how Jensen is going to be involved. Most of his augmentations have been constricted or removed, yes, but his remote hacking is still intact. They’re going to go to one of the computers that control the slugs first to get them removed. Miller and Mac think this is a great plan, but they don’t understand how they’re involved. They’re combat militia, not exactly in the science of technology department. Vega tells them that Janus knows they follow strict orders and can handle tough situations with people. She can’t CASIE everyone she runs into and will need good people with a great head on their shoulders. She leaves out the part about vengeance and Janus wanting to see if they can prove themselves to be valuable assets inside TF29. Not everyone on the team needs to be a hacker but good listeners are a plus too. Somehow after the little scuffle with White, makes Vega second guess her decision to tell them anything. Oh, Janus, these knuckleheads better be worth it to you.

Mac rubs his chin. “Alright. But if we’re going to do this, we need a strategic plan. We can’t exactly waltz into the dorm area’s wearing these. Can we? Does this place do experimentations on the civilians here?”

Miller looks over one of the brochures that’s just a regular piece of paper. “They don’t, but that doesn’t stop their propaganda of lies.”

Vega snaps her fingers. “That’s why we’re going to mockup our own pamphlet. Be more convincing that they’ll let us through the dorms without a problem.” Vega goes to one of the regular printers on the wall and inputs a few keywords to get the printer to turn on.

Time for a redesign.

Augmented citizens across the globe recognize for a new kind of city. We need a new capital of progress that isn’t held back by outdated design models and cynical political institutions. We need a place like Rabi’ah!

Adam is awakened from his downtime when he hears his pamphlet beep. Picking it up, he sees he has a new set of instructions to get dressed and meet his dormitory officer outside his door in proper uniform. Groaning in his head, he does as he’s told. He’s not here to pick a fight with anyone. He can’t afford to. Not with Aria around him. Once finished, he opens the door to be greeted by Alex. He’s taken back by surprised as he lets her in. She’s wearing some ridiculous feminine suit with high heels she can barely walk in. The amusement is inevitable in Adam’s eyes when he catches her to stop her from falling over, and Vega didn’t fail to notice the smirk.  

“Don’t say anything. I had to rob someone’s locker for this spiffy outfit, Mr. Knight in Shining Armor.” Alex stands up, brushing herself off. She sits down in one of the chairs before she falls over again. Maybe the bed this time? It’s been a long day, and she’s ready for a nap.

Adam whispers, “Tough day?”

“You could say that.” Alex takes off her shoes, throws them at the wall, and rubs her feet. “Man, I don’t know how women can walk in these.”

“Very gracefully.” Adam sits backs down on the bed. He looks over to Aria to see she’s still sound asleep. He has a feeling he’s going to have to wake her up very soon.

Alex looks over to the other bed. So this is Aria. The girl that guy with the scar is swooning over like a bumbling idiot. He can see why. She’s very pretty and her hair is very brushable. Jealousy quickly leaves Alex when she hears the two behind her talk about their papers to anyone and everyone around them that would listen. Thank God the residents have enough sense to close the doors in their faces. Their sales pitch about joining some sports team is horrible! She has no idea why she went along with this plan! The shape this place is in, there’s no way that a recreational soccer team can be formed to lift the spirits of being, to quote MacReady: “One being shrouded in darkness needs some kicking light!”. Damn, this place is giving her a headache by the minute.  

Mac enters with Miller, who’s just glaring at him for doing all the talking. “What? I thought my pitch to be the greatest! You wanted everyone to play rugby!”

Miller ignores his best friend. He waves him off with his hand and stops dead in his tracks when he sees Jensen and the state of the condition he’s in. He quickly runs over to him and pounces on top of him. Giving him the biggest bear hug he can call up with his shaking hands. Adam hugs him back, telling him that he’s ok, and that it’s just a few augmentations that they can be fixed once they get out of this place. Miller doesn’t care about that. He’s just glad his lover is alive. He takes his face in his hands, giving him a big kiss, not caring that there are still people in the room. Adam returns the kiss, closing his eyes, wrapping his hand around the back of Miller’s neck…other hand wondering down his back…

Mac interrupts the two, “Ok, love birds! We need to wake up sleeping beauty before the first porno shoot!”

Miller pulls back with a laugh. “He’s right. We have plenty of time for porn takes later. We need to wake up Argento and get her to a certain office. Her arm is equipped with a security clearance that Janus has personally installed on it that can lift what augmentations you still have intact and access to people’s papers.”

Vega explains further, “In other words, Adam, the people here are going to take back what’s theirs, but we need your remote hacking to the bigger fish once we access the littiler fish.”

Adam nods in agreement. Anything at this point to get out of here and save some lives among the way. He just hopes that Aria has the strength in her to do this. It’s been a long day for her, and she really needs all the rest she can get. Mac sees the note of reflection in the aug’s eyes, in understanding, he walks up to her with the uniform in hand. He picked it out specifically for her from one of those lockers, hoping it fits. He gently wakes her up with a shake on her natural shoulder. Aria sits straight up and swings her augmented arm at Mac’s face. He dodges it just time and holds his hands up in defeat. He didn’t expect that! Thank God nobody laughs. Everyone’s been under a lot of stress today, and no one needs to make fun of anyone here.

Aria rubs her eyes to see the people in the room. The first person she sees is the startled MacReady. Jumping off the bed, she stumbles over herself. Mac quickly catches her, bringing her in for a tight hug. God, he missed her. He places many kisses on the top of her head, whispering to her that after this he’s taking her to Italy and is going to give her the biggest make out session she’s going to ever experienced with the firework explosion in the background! Aria lets him know with a punch to the shoulder that this is not how to win over a girl’s heart, but he points out that she’s laughing! She doesn’t deny it. She continues to hold onto him after they settle themselves down in a sitting position on the bed.

Miller shakes his head while squinting his eyes at the odd couple. “Remind me to never act like that.”

Adam slowly nods in semi-agreement. It be an awkward day for both of them if they start to crack jokes about make out sessions under the stars or on a spaceship that’s on its way to the said stars. Not that it wouldn’t be romantic, but there needs to be some sort of cheesy music with dancing cat astronauts in the background chasing after space mice to keep them afloat. Really, maybe it’s not so bad to have this new crazy couple and their wacky ideas around them more often. Who knows what kind of inspiration can be taken from this? Everyone here is a friend or a friend of a friend. Why not get to know each other’s crazy story ideas?

Vega sadly has to interrupt everyone’s reunion. “I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but we really need to get moving. Aria, please get dressed in the outfit Mac has for you. You will need to blend in where you’re going.”

Jensen looks over his attire. “Shouldn’t I change too?”

Vega smirks. “What? Don’t like the white on white?” He’s not amused. She sighs. “You’re no fun. Yes, Miller has an outfit for you too. I just didn’t want you answering the door in your pajamas at the time.”

Fair enough. Adam lets Aria get changed in the bathroom first. When she comes out, Mac couldn’t help his whistling; with how hot the business look had on his future girlfriend, he’ll have to keep all the male dogs off of her. Aria gives him a look that tells him to shut up or there will be no happy ever after ending kiss. He does so but without giving himself another smirk on the inside. She really does look good and strong in it! Adam goes in next and comes out in his itchy suit and tie. He pulls at the damn knot, trying to adjust it to where it’s not choking him to death. Miller comes over, fixes it for him, and straightens out the lapels. He doesn’t say out loud how amazing and hot the other is looking. He has some dignity to keep his emotions in check right now, unlike his colleague here.

Once outside the door, Vega looks around to make sure there are no residents peeking through their doors to see if the creepy sports people are still there. Nobody is. Vega lets out another stress relief sigh. They’re quiet as possible as they make their way out of the dormitory area and into the freshly cool evening. The air is blowing, the water is flowing, and the giant water fountain in the middle is sparkling fresh water to the area below where a few workers are taking care of the ducts and a few children are admiring the wildlife around the miniature ponds and trees. This place really is beautiful. The image is quickly ruined when a TARVOS soldier pulls a child away from the grass and yells at them for being worthless. Everyone wants to spring into action so bad right now. Even the scientists that are just doing their job are receiving harsh words for just being there.

This will end soon. They keep their heads down, clip boards in hand, and start to document everything they see. Stopping to admire the work every now and then to not draw any suspicion towards them. To everyone else, they’re just greedy corporate scums that are here to see how they can make everyone’s lives miserable, so why feel the need to pay attention to them? Just shoot them a few glares, so they can leave the area quicker! They take the hint and pretend to stick up their noses as they walk on past them, strutting in their step, feeling silly the whole way.

Once there, Miller lets out a of relief, adjusting the business hat on his head. He feels silly in this thing. Couldn’t be any worse than Jensen. He has shades on top of the ones built in his face and his hair is neatly pressed down in front. He looks like a frontal hippie that needs a haircut if anything else. Maybe the gel from the bathroom should’ve been applied to make it stick down to look more like bangs? Mac doesn’t seem to mind his. He’s enjoying his sexy new combover. Aria just shakes her head at the way he’s acting. Of course, the Brit with the combover is going to upstage everyone here!

Vega looks upon the security wing, showing the guard at the entrance her name tag with a fake biometric reading and the papers from everyone else that show their assignments and name cards. New employees need their security clearance. The guard checks to make sure everything is in order. She holds her breath underneath that fake smiling, praying that Janus got this right. They don’t need another algorithm mix up. The guard looks up and down at her, seeing a bead of sweat dripping down her face. He squints, she hesitates some, wondering what’s taking the guard so long.

“Don’t worry so much. I know its been rough the last few days, but you and your team will do well. Make sure to not go easy on the augmented here. They need some tough love.” The guard hands her back her papers and a tissue to wipe her face. “Make sure to grab yourself and your group some bottles of water on your way out. It can get pretty hot around here.”

“Will do. Thank you.” She blots the sweat and turns to her team. “Ok, everyone. You heard the man. Let’s not dawdle. We have our assignments to do, and we need to show the board we can handle this.”

They all say their politeness at the same time and follow her inside. Mac whispers to Aria, “Did you notice they even 3D print the water bottles?”

Aria nods. Vega scolds the two for getting side-tracked. The two looked at each other and then cover their mouths to keep themselves from letting out snarky remarks. Adam and Miller are indifferent to their conversation, concentrating themselves to get out of this mess. At least the air conditioning works and they’re not out in the hot sun. They make their way through the hallway, map in toe, and checking each door to make sure they’re on the right track. So far there have been no stoppages or mishaps. Not even a peep out of White or Janus. Everything is going according to plan.

They arrive at the security hub of the room. Aria’s arm starts sending signals to the walls in a strange vibrating matter. The lights around the walls start giving off a green rhythmic pulse. It’s beautiful and weirdly sensational. In a good way of thinking, this won’t hurt with what Aria needs to do. Vega makes sure that no one is drawing suspicion to the colors. People around them are too busy going over their own documents and soldiers are checking their guns to make sure they’re loaded. No one is even batting an eye at them.

Alex brings them to the room they need to be in. She holds the chip up to the panel. The security system scans it with its designed electronic block and lets her and the others in after passing each identification. How trustworthy can this be? Very. This is easy stuff for a hacker like Janus to trick the system in overriding the name on the pamphlet if the highest credentials are in place. Tricking the system in thinking that these really are some important people.

They’re all greeted by the head of the security team. “Reason for the visit, Miss Mars?”

Alex’s fake alias is used here. “Here to learn about your security operations. Everything should’ve been explained to you in the email.”

The head squints at her. He does check his email and sees the counterfeit one sent from the CEO herself. He shrugs and turns back to Vega. “My apologies. We have to be extra careful here with all these augmented people running around. We don’t need any intruders.”

“I understand, sir. Thank you for your time.” Vega shakes the man’s hand and they’re shown the security panels from the lowest to the highest terminals in the area.

Everyone’s in awe. Every machine in the room is pulsating different colors due to Aria’s arm and even Adam is starting to feel the side effects burning within his hands. They’re both itching to do something about this, but they need to be patient. Wait till they get to the terminal they need to be at. The security in the other room is wondering where there are strange Aurora Borealis colors bouncing through their servers, but nothing is malfunctioning or setting off an alarm. Scratching their heads they look over to some of the water filters are reflecting off a strange light from Aria. They wonder…

Finally! They’re at the server they need to be at. Vega gently pulls the chip off her paper after the instructions have changed to insert it in slot. She shows him that she’s been doing this every time the guard hasn’t been looking with the instructions via her personalized classified brochure that’s only to be shown to this guy if questions were to arise. Now, this does explain the strange colors. He asks her to reinsert the chip in the block. She does so. He takes it from her, pulls out a scanner, and scans the documents up and down, making sure the CEO’s signature and writing is in place. Vega didn’t even realize she’s holding her breath till prodded by Mac’s hand. She exhales normally when he hands it back to her. He nods and lets her do her job. She moves on. Repeating the same motion with every server.

Adam feels the vibrations in his remote hacking starting to loosen. He looks down at the slug to see that it’s starting to shake, digging its metal claws deeper into his hand. Whatever Janus wanted to do is placing its own version of salt on this wound, but only this wound. His other chips, slugs, and restrictions don’t register with this particular one. It’s just circulating…. all the power that is needed from the lit-up computer is trying to code with the algorithm while the thing is building up a resistance. The slug is in an immense amount of computer pain that it can’t even send out a distress signal to let someone know it’s dying. When it does release its grip, it curls up like a centipede. Adam quietly removes his glove and pockets the thing before someone catches on. Now what does he do? If there’s a chance he uses remote hacking on the armory security terminals that will electrocute anyone…His hand is glowing. The remaining energy he has left is converging into his hand. They must be very close to where he needs to be.

Jim…Adam eyes everything around him. They’re indeed guarded by heavy security and Vega doesn’t have the security clearance to open this part. This is where Adam’s remote hacking comes into play. Does he want to risk it? He looks over to Miller. He’s looking at all panels around him, logging in some important notes on his tablet. Adam takes his hand into his. Miller stops his logging to stare at the stressful eyebrows his boyfriend is down casting.

“The floor is clearer tonight.”  Adam looks down at the ripples and waterproof cables below them. “What do you make of it?”

“That you’re scaring me.” Miller squeezes Adam’s hand. “We knew there are going to be risk amongst these rewards, Adam.”

Mac looks back behind him to see the two whispering to one another. “There’s this band I listened to back in the day. Well, not too far off in the day. They’re still fucking amazing. They had this one like….like…it went like ‘Don’t wait for a miracle to topple from the sky’. It stuck with me since then.”

“Tumble.” Miller mumbles. “It’s ‘Don’t wait for a miracle to tumble from the sky’.”

Mac shakes his head. “Yeah, that. It’s by Rise Against. By the end of it all, we’re the only ones that can make things happen.” Mac takes Aria’s hand into his own, squeezing it, watching the lights turn into a calming blue around them.

Miller places a kiss on Adam’s lips. “While the guard is distracted Adam. Whatever happens, we will all get through this.”

Adam takes a deep breath and places his hand out in front of him.

An accessible, progressive, eco-friendly metropolis shining like a beacon in the plains of Oman…It may sound like a utopic fantasy, but Rabi’ah is not a city born of dreams. Rabi’ah has been conceived and constructed by the Santeau Group out of necessity. It is the place our generation needs. It is a city designed for you!

 Nothing happens. Adam tries again but the security doesn’t shut down. It runs as normal. No signs of intruders or alarm bells going off. The armory security panels still remain locked. Alex doesn’t understand what’s going on. The security guard in front of her turns around looking at her with coldness, wagging a finger in front of her as if she’s done something bad. He approaches her, grabbing her at the wrist, causing the chip to drop to the floor.

“Under no circumstances are those chips to be removed no matter who gave you the order. I am glad I listened to the intel from the soldier that spotted that V-TOL right outside the grain fields. You think you’re clever, don’t you? We do have security and cloaking measures placed ourselves, smart one.” The TARVOS security agent Is about to throw her into the panel.

Mac reaches forward and grabs the man by the back of his neck, giving it a tight squeeze till he passes out. “Piss off! Didn’t anyone tell you it’s wrong to place your hands on a woman?”

Aria takes Mac’s arm gently into her hands. “Mac…we need to go.”

Mac nods and the group makes a slow break back towards the main panel, back where the augmentations are being controlled. Vega takes a few deep breaths in and out. “How many people know? We need to get in contact with White.”

Adam looks around to see that no one else seems to stop them. “They’re keeping this on the downlow to stop the panic.”

Veg wants to kick herself. “I knew we should’ve inserted Aria’s chip first.”

Then what? Have everyone get shot for standing outside a heavily armed place out of sneaking suspicion of tampered biocomponents? No way. They all knew this. Alex curses to herself and contacts White. He answers his comms with less than a pleasant feeling of his own. “Vega! Done already? I keep hearing whispers through these monitors that certain people are onto you!”

White paces the room he’s in. Corporate suite. One of the penthouses where he has a nice view of a giant fish tank where some pretty fish are swimming with…

“Not in the mood for your games right now! I failed the mission. We need to abort with Jensen and the others.” Alex hears a tithe from the other side. “What’s so funny?”

White picks out an expensive bottle of wine from the cabinet. “You really need to try this wine. It’s over 30 years old.”

‘White, if this is some kind of joke to you…” Alex bites her lip in fear that White has betrayed them.

“No joke. I am just watching certain…people…swim with the fishes.” White kicks back and gobbles down some of the wine, while looking at the tank with….

Alex doesn’t follow. “What do you mean?” They’re back at the main computer area. She grabs Aria’s arm and finds the chip embedded in the upper portion. She sees she can’t exactly prod it out.

“The annoying cheerful woman and CEO won’t be bothering you anytime soon. Just tell Janus he owes me a pay raise!” White lets out an amused laugh.

“You murdered them!?” Alex pulls out some tools from her pocket to get to work. Her hands a bit unsteady due to nerves.

“The water did all the work. I just made sure they couldn’t get up for air.” White gets up and taps the glass where the fish scattered. “Anyways, I hear some sizzling. Are you ruining that tech already?”

Alex lets out a frustrated groan, backing away from the stubborn arm. “It’s sloppily placed in here!”

“Of course it is! It’s a SARIF arm! If you wanted cheap and wanted it to pop out like a pop-up book, then tell your boy to ask for TYM next time!” White goes over to the laptop sitting on the desk. “Alright, give me a minute, and I’ll open the panel where you can pull out a cable from the wall to attach it to the arm.”

Aria backs up a bit when she sees a very sharp looking spark needle connected to a cord in the wall pop out. Alex gives her an apologetic look as she forcefully grabs her arm and jams it into the port where a supposed Biocell would go. She lets out a cry of pain. Mac quickly holds onto her, giving her as much comfort as he can while muffling her screams. They can’t be captured now. Not like this. Alex quickly tells White to get Janus to send a set of timed instructions about every citizen that’s not TARVOS to wait by the armory. TARVOS is going to be in for a treat. White lets out a gleeful laugh when the chip overrides everything the stupid CEO woman had laid out, slapping the table, accidentally spilling the wine on his pants. Damn.

It’s all over. The cord is yanked out as quickly as it’s put in. Aria rubs the tears from her eyes and assures Mac and the others she’s going to be ok now, but she can’t feel the components in her arm. Alex tells her that will only be temporary. They head back to the armory security panels to see what they can do. Maybe they missed picking something off from the guy, but when they get there…his body is gone. The group quickly protect their six by getting out of the room. Now they need a plan B.

Alex contacts White again. “We have no way of shutting down the security here, White. The people are going to be sitting ducks in thirty minutes unless we do something.”

White rubs his chin. He consults himself back at the fish tank to talk to the dead CEO. “What do you suggest pretty lady? I see you have a very nice bracelet now. I wonder if that would’ve done it.”

“White! What are you thinking now?” Alex’s exasperated.

“I am thinking that next time I kill someone is to remove all fancy non-waterproof tech before I throw them in with the fishes.” White grimaces when Alex starts raising her voice at him. “Relax. I am sure her laptop has an override.”

If Jensen’s override doesn’t do it, then what is a simple laptop going to do? Alex rubs his temples and fears that she might have to risk asking Janus for help here. Jensen’s still chipped in many places and many of his augmentations are removed. If they remove anymore from him then the whole place will be on lock down. Not to mention that the ride out of here is already compromised by one person and many are probably standing guard by it.

Mac decides to make an off handed comment, “You think we can hide in the grains like velociraptors?”

Miller pinches the bridge of his nose. “We don’t have time for outdated movie jokes. We need to find the guy before he alerts-“

The TARVOS security guard shows up behind Miller and shoots him in the shoulder with his sidearm. He laughs when he watches him fall into Adam’s arms. Purposely not hitting anywhere that will kill him instantly. The need to watch people emotionally suffer in the time of chaotic need. At least he’s nice enough to inform them as Adam’s charging him not to touch him. Anyone does, the camera’s that are around them will go hostile and alert every TARVOS agent in the complex.

White is watching the whole thing on camera. Frowning as Adam’s doing his best to patch Miller up and telling him everything’s going to be ok. Miller laughs at this. Thinking about how this feels like déjà vu all over again, this time he’s not actually dying. Just slowly bleeding out all over the floors while all his friends and new acquaintance watch in horror. Kind of comical for everyone here. Out of sheer stupidity this guy announces to the whole group what his plans are to do with them. Throw them in a locked cell, notify the head to get a promotion, and then proudly boast to every augmented citizen here that no one can stop him when he starts rounding them all up like cattle.

White sighs. “That’s what he thinks.” He quickly goes through the camera lines in the area and shuts them down.

Security gets suspicious, but with a quick email from “maintenance”, they’re working on the issue. They’ll be up and running within thirty seconds. Not a lot of time, but there are four capable hands there that can handle one guy.

Adam sees the camera behind the guard go down, he doesn’t notice. Glaring at the man, he fakes like he’s holding his hands up in surrender. That’s more like it! The guard goes over to Jensen first to make his first arrest. Adam takes his fist and punches him in the throat as soon as he places his side arm back in his holster. Mac and Vega drag him to the nearest vent and shove his body in it. No body, no witness for the camera. The group quickly exit the room as the camera’s come back online. No signs of foul play and the camera is on loop with the guard walking up and down the room and another email is sent to the main security hub to let them know that the perpetrators have been taken to lockdown and the cameras are working as intended too. No one suspects anything.

Mac and Vega move to a small area with a table, knocking off everything they possibly could as they help Jensen lay Miller on it. Jensen takes off his coat and wraps it around his lover, pulling him as close as he possibly could. Miller complains about the tightness of the hug and that the bullet is still in his shoulder. Mac is looking for some bandages and a first aid kit. He finds one collecting dust in a little storage compartment. He blows it off and goes over to Miller, offering to help bandage it up till they get to safety. Adam uncovers the shoulder part, allowing Mac to help him bandage him up to the point of suffocation.

Vega closes the blinds around her. “Damnit! These people are going to be sitting ducks in ten minutes if we don’t do something.”

White scratches his chin and turns back to the fish tank. “Time to go deep sea diving!” He goes over to the CEO’s lifeless body, making grimacing noises with his mouth, and pulls off the mechanical band from her wrist. He gives it a little shake and wipes the remaining water on his pants. Not his ideal way of saving all the damsel boys and girls in distress. He sits back down in the chair and contacts Janus about rerouting TARVOS security away from the armory and possibly another way to get it open without alerting anyone else. He could keep sending emails, but someone’s going to end up checking up here, asking if the new CEO is ok with all the sudden suspicious movement orders going around.

Vega sits down in the chair. “I hope this sincerely all works out. We can get out of here if White’s plan works.”

Mac turns to look at her after making sure Miller isn’t going to die tonight. “what about our ride?”

Vega pulls up her map again to see if there’s another plane they can take, and where the closest one would be at. Meanwhile, Adam is thinking back to under the stairs…

The two are staring at the whiteness above them. Adam’s ass feels sore and the pillows he’s lying on are extremely uncomfortable. The chess set long forgotten with a piece stuck in between Miller’s toes. Adam chuckles at the site, envious that Miller can still do these things, while he can only play with one currently residing in his fingers.

Things feel different here. Staring at the low hanging stairway ceiling with all these glow in the dark stars attached to them, courtesy of Susie and Ethan, of course. This makes Adam feel…sad? He sets the piece down and turns on his side. Miller props himself up on his elbow, wondering what’s eating at his lover. He reaches out, touches the others shoulder…

Adam tenses up. He turns to face Miller. “Do you mind if we spend the night here?”

Miller pulls Adam in close. “Not at all.”

They hold each other. Not letting go for any reason.

Chaos is ensuing. White couldn’t reach Janus through his own personal telecoms and had to re-route everything himself. The minor detail? It set off every alarm in the vicinity with his fuck up. The upside? All the citizens managed to snag a rifle or two with some armor while TARVOS security were sent to another area for about two minutes before all hell broke loose. There are screams and shouts all around them. People are running around, trying to amend the now heavily armored and fully functional augmented citizens of Rabi’ah that are staging and uprising, taking back what’s theirs, while the smart ones are re-routing all the turrets and laser rifles to point at anyone that’s trying to gun them down. White calls this a win-win when he sees that he could drop everyone’s slugs off with a semi-malfunctioning bracelet, which is why the alarms went off to start with.

Vega rubs his forehead. “White! This is not how you state an uprising!”

“Almost succeeded with ‘smash the state’ in Detroit. Doesn’t make it any different here!” White shrugs off Vega’s off-handed comment. “You lot need to get out of here, while I use these fun rockets to hold off incoming air support.”

“You better not make sure they’re made out of 3D Styrofoam!” Vega looks out the door to see scientists and employees running on by. “We need to get out of here.”

Adam looks at the surrounding material that has dropped off of him. He cracks his neck. He feels lighter than before. Still incomplete and the only thing he can react with is his TITAN. Only good for one use, and that use is to get Miller and his friends to safety. His payback will have to come another day. He gathers Miller’s into his arms, making sure his jacket is wrapped comfortably around his lover, and looks at Vega, Mac, and Aria. He’s fully relying on them to get them the hell out of his war zone.

Switches to the TITAN. Tempted to make temporal shift to dodge upcoming bullets but will run out of energy before reaching the hanger bay. May need to figure out another plan. His back an only take a few more shots before the aug runs out. He can tell by the way his hearing is starting to return to normal. “Push forward faster, Alex!”

Vega contacts White. “We need to get out of here, White! Can you lead a squad somewhere or something?”

White hears banging on the door. “You’ll have to hold that thought.”

Vega hears yelling and the sounds of gunfire. She curses to herself as she ends the transmission. She turns to look at her team. “We’re on our own.”

Mac shrugs his shoulders. “Story of my life. Next best course of action?” He steps over to a fallen TARVOS body and picks up a combat rifle and a pack of bullets, tossing them to Vega. She didn’t need to be told twice what to do when he watches Mac start to stop the dead body of its armor. Adam’s TITAN runs out by the time they find some more armor and weapons. Good enough for them. Hopefully no one runs into them with an EXO-suit. Then they’ll be in really big trouble.

Mac looks over to see the worn-out Jensen. “Need a Biocell?” He tosses one to Adam. “You’re damn lucky these bastard’s confiscate contraband here.”

Adam didn’t complain. He sticks the cell in his port and feels a sense of renewal. He swings the combat rifle over his back and goes back into his TITAN aug, ready to take on even a fully augmented Marchenko again in an EXO-suit. They move on again. Mac, Aria, and Vega taking out enemies that get in their way. Upgrading their head and boy gear along the way. More of a chance of survival. They make it to the hanger bay to see people in EXO-suits firing at TARVOS security. They don’t question it. Adam ditches the TITAN augmentation for now. They still need to be careful sneaking around; they don’t know who friend or foe is here. Their armor doesn’t give away their own allegiance either.

Mac peaks over one of the boxes to see the smaller set of V-TOL'S, mainly used for corporate transport. “We can take one of those.”

Vega looks over. “We will be shot out of the sky before we leave the ground.”

This mission already feels like its been shot into a hole much less than shot out of the sky. Adam shakes his head at the thought of this being a PENTHOUSE 2.0. What’s the whole point? To prove some kind of point to the world that augmented people are here to stay? Well, if the shoe fits and the 3D printer keep providing non-sensible rockets…Adam doesn’t think about it. He’s getting out of here, and he’ll have to worry about the fallout from this mission later. He needs to get Miller to a proper doctor. They move along the sides of the boxes, avoiding everyone so far.

“Stop right there! I see your small bit of blood trail!” A…friend? Foe? Points their combat rifle at Adam’s back. “Turn around slowly and make no sudden movements!”

Adam turns slowly to see this one has a lovely minigun attached to their suit. Great. Adam hugs Miller’s body close to him. A group come up next to the man. All pointing their guns at the group. Others on the other side of the base are too busy with their own struggles to notice them. Mac and the others lower their gun. Going to raise their hands.

The minigun points at Adam’s head. The guy behind the mask starts to laugh. “I know you! You’re the one that I stripped back at Interpol! Wow, I be damned! I am surprised you even made it this far! You should’ve stayed in your room like a good boy! I am going to enjoy killing you!”

Adam gets ready to prepare himself when he hears a voice over the intercom. “Heads up! Bracelet here might give you a 50/50 chance of survival!” White inputs a few codes, and the next thing the TARVOS guy knows the minigun turns on his EXO-suit and starts firing towards him and his gang.

“Wow! I didn’t expect that to work! What an anti-climactic ending for that guy!” White looks behind him to see if anyone had followed him. No one did. “Going to make headway for your group to get on the V-TOL with a semi-decent weapon system. Hopefully this bracelet lets me deactivate any tractor beam if there’s one.”

Or make sentry bots attack them. They duck behind cover again when one shoots at them. “Again, my bad.” White aims at the bot, shutting it down again. He then types in what he knows about the V-TOL they’re about to take. Trying to take his time and making threats to anyone that shoots them. One guy tried to shoot at him through the bullet proof glass. His fate didn’t end up well for him.

A beeping noise is heard on Vega’s end. She answers it to find out it’s Janus. “Janus? Where the hell have you been!”

Tied up with other presenting matters. There should be a clear path to fly out of here. I made sure that no one disturbs you on the way back to the United States.

Vega looks at her group. “We need a hospital. Miller’s been shot.”

Janus is silent for a moment. Most likely pondering where the safest place they can send them. He sends her a location she’s never heard of. It’s not too far from here, and he promises her that Miller will get the treatment he needs.

“Don’t promise me. Promise Adam.” Vega punches in the coordinates and gives White a Salute. He salutes her back and then she flies off.

Mr. Jensen…

Adam perks up when he hears Janus’ voice over the comms of the V-TOL’s computer. “Janus.”

He will get the treatment he needs. Don’t worry. I am also…very sorry to hear about what’s happened to you and your fellow agent. My team will do its best to restore what we can. Possibly even make you stronger. We do have a sufficient technological enhancement team from all over the world.  

Adam doesn’t say anything. He hugs his lover close to him again. He wants him to feel safe, secure, and not bleed out all over him. Janus allows him his privacy and speaks with Vega about White’s actions and consequences on a more secure line.

Adam looks down at Miller. He’s holding on like the trooper he is. “That’s twice now, Jim. I am keeping you locked up in a plastic bubble.”

“You think that’s going to hold this old coot?” Miller lets out a slight cough, feeling drained and sleepy.

“You’re not old. A mess but definitely not old.” Adam’s attempt at a lame joke never ceases to stop making Miller laugh.

Adam smiles. The V-TOL rocks a bit when a rocket zooms past them. Hopefully just one of White’s mistakes as it hits on in the desert.

Miller takes Adam’s hand into his. “There any IV packs aboard this thing?”

Adam takes a look around for any medkits. There doesn’t seem to be anything of that sort. Apparently not that fancy of a shuttle then. Rabi’ah didn’t even want to invest safety measures here? Hopefully with this place undergoing a new set of eyes things will change…before the military starts to intervene.

“No, sorry. You should rest now.” Adam leans in, giving him a long kiss on the lips.

Miller didn’t need to be told twice. He’s out like a light. Adam’s shades withdraw as he stares at his lover worryingly. He knows Miller will make it, but…he can’t help that itch in the back of his head.

Mac leans over, resting his elbows on his knees. “Don’t worry about him, mate. He’s the toughest man I know. He survived Australia, London, and now, Oman. He will pull through.”

“Right…” Adam leans back against the seat. He stares at Aria who is looking out the window. “You ok?”

Aria sighs. “It’s silly, but I wish I grabbed my music box and postcard on the way out. It’s…my only treasures I have left of my family.”

Mac grunts. “You mean these things?” Mac pulls out the box, post card, and even the fox. “Figured they meant something to you. I’ve seen them in your little corner when you think no one notices.”

Aria’s face lights up. She takes the materials out of Mac’s hands. “oh my God! Thank you, Duncan! Thank you so much!” She leans in giving him a big kiss.

Mac pulls away after the kiss. “Does this mean I get my first date in Tuscany?”

Aria slaps him on the arm. “Don’t push your luck. You get your first date in this little secluded island.”

Adam leans over to look out the window. They’re indeed on what appears to be a deserted island. How long have they been traveling? They touch down base and are met with a medical team who instantly takes Miller to a small med wing. Closing the doors on the group as he’s attended too. Adam waits outside, sitting on one of the chairs with a bottle of water in his hand and holding onto his bloody white coat. Aria and Mac are holding hands as they’re being wheeled to another part of the area to get their own bodies looked over. Adam refuses treatment till he knows Miller is ok.

Vega makes sure everything is checked in before she checks on Adam. “You ok, man?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Alex. A bit shaken.” Adam offers her a spare bottle of water. She takes it and sits down next to him.

Vega nods in understanding. She wants to talk about what just went down, but after seeing the tired eyes on him and the sadness? It’s best to leave him alone. She squeezes his shoulder, wishing him a silent good luck. She goes to talk to Janus about what’s going to happen now and how PICUS news is going to spin this story. Adam is thankful that she left. He didn’t know if he could handle Janus or anyone right now. He shows how strong he is on the outside when handling situations, but when it comes to people he loves? Miller? No…Jim…James…he didn’t want to lose him. He places his head in his hands and gathers his thoughts.

“Jim, would you ever consider…a relationship with someone like me?” Adam is lying on top of the roof with Miller. They’re both staring at the night sky and watching a few drones pass overhead.

“We’re dating now, aren’t we?” Miller looks over at Adam. “Why the odd question?”

Adam shakes his head. “Just…memories. I guess I should’ve asked why you considered dating someone like me.”

Miller takes Adam’s face into his hands. “Because, Adam Jensen, you’re a beautiful soul who’s a stoic embrace of what you’re naturally are.”

Adam laughs. “That makes no sense.”

Miller smirk. “It got you to laugh, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess it did.” Adam doesn’t question it any further. If this man can make him laugh like no one else can…then what does he have left to lose?

What does Adam have left to lose?

“Mr. Jensen?” A surgeon comes out of the door and ushers him inside. The two walks down a short hallway to enter Miller’s room where he’s sleeping. IV drip on him and being pumped with antibiotics and sleep medicine. The doctor says he will make a full recovery, and the blood transfusion is a success.

They can take away his augmentations.

They can rip away who he is.

They can keep his possessions on that battlefield.

They can try and change the balance of his body and soul.

But by the end of it all, Adam Jensen is still a man with a lover, friends, and a goal.

And there is absolutely nothing his enemies can do to take that away from him.  

Join Adam Jensen’s happy Rabi’ah today!