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Fallout: Vault 186 Ch 5

Below ground wars don't end...they become more personal

                                                          SHOTS FIRED

 

James Connolly never wanted to be a police officer. However, after receiving the final results of his G.O.A.T. evaluation the powers that be had made the decision for him, much to his dismay. The police sergeant had always found it funny that the government would at least wait a couple of days until after what was supposed to be a celebration of life before they proceeded to decide what the path for the rest of that life would be. They framed it as a necessity, considering the situation faced by the population. If everyone wasn't directed towards the professions needed, based on their level of affinity towards those professions, then the sustainability of the vault would be impossible. Among every generation, there were those who would vocalize their disdain for the practice, even an exile or two over the centuries when persuasions and sometimes, threats, would fail.

But now the oppressive veil had been lifted, and citizens would be free to choose what path and career they wanted. James could have quit the force at any time and almost did the day after the Overseer gave his speech. But James chose to remain with the V.S.P.F. simply because it was where he had been for the last eleven years of his life. He hadn't wasted any time in joining after he received notification of his exam results instead of attempting to find work in the field he truly desired. What would have been the point? No other establishment would have hired him without a digitized G.O.A.T. certification form. No, going down the road of resistance would have been more of a headache than he was willing to endure.

So now he found himself in the middle of a gun fight.

Things weren't all bad though. Two of Melinda's henchmen had already been put down before the others had managed to stumble behind cover after being stunned from Lt. Brittle's flashbang grenade. The problem was that there were still fourteen of them, including Chairman Barret's wife who despite her feminine appearance and playful demeanor, seemed to be handling her sidearm more efficiently than her cohorts. For a moment, James couldn't take his eyes off of her as she lined up the barrel of the N-99 pistol and pointed it directly at him. The brief flash from the gun seemed to shine brighter than the flashbang and James could feel a cold shiver vibrate throughout his body just before the projectile cut deep into the left shoulder of the man beside him, causing his bright red blood to splatter onto James's face and uniform.

The wounded man's screech was mostly inaudible to James as the rush of fear and adrenaline seemed to flood his ears more than anything else, almost inducing nausea.

"Shit!" James managed before taking cover behind a large crate.

James had never been in a firefight. Had never even used his sidearm outside of the shooting range and now he found himself damn near cowering behind a steel crate in some smelly old warehouse trying to stay alive. And he was indeed cowering even if his body didn't show it. To his comrades, if any of them took the time to notice him, James appeared to be in a standard position of cover, readying himself to engage the enemy. On the inside, his chest was on fire, and his heart was pounding at his ribcage.

One...two...three...

Move to stay alive.

One...two...three...

Move to stay alive.

After the next round of intense fire from the criminals, James swung himself halfway around the crate and took aim at the first assailant to fill his vision.

Line up...squeeze.

Line up...squeeze.

The kick from the N-99 pistol was light, and James managed to keep the gun steady before swinging back into his position of cover without staying exposed long enough to verify if he hit his target.

Move to stay alive.

James swung out of cover for the second time.

Line up...squeeze.

A second shot fired from his gun.

He repeated the process four times then advanced with one of his comrades, Richard Chapman, who had taken cover on the opposite side of the makeshift hallway created by the large warehouse crates. There were so many crates, some with large double doors and others with only one door. Some were open, displaying their contents of smaller storage crates and out of service equipment while most were closed. All of the crates were tall, and in the darkness, they gave the storage area the appearance of a maze with countless dead ends.

James hadn't taken ten fast paced steps towards the remaining assailants before he suddenly felt a bit light on his right-hand side. A gust of wind and an unfocused image of a flailing blue arm snapped James's attention to Richard, who had taken a bullet in the chest and almost instantly fell back onto the floor. Three seconds and two wild one-handed shots later, James found himself dragging Richard into one of the large crates that were thankfully open. James didn't know if he would have left his comrade right there to die on the ground had an immediate avenue of cover hadn't presented itself. He truly didn't know. No time to think about it.

Move to stay alive.

"Help me, man." Richard gurgled, groaned, and screamed all at the same time.

Move to stay alive.

"Patch me up!" Richard begged.

The blood oozed from Richard's chest, quickly morphing his blue uniform into a dark purple. The bullet had gone right through his riot vest, which was supposed to stop small arms fire.

Supposed to.

James reached into one of the small black pouches attached to Richard's belt and pulled out the small first aid bag given standard issue to every officer. Inside were an assortment of small items, none of which that should have been in the pouch in the first place, save the small silver syringe filled with a purplish liquid. James slammed the syringe down into Richard's chest an inch away from the wound and depressed a tiny button near the top of the syringe. Above the button, a small red needle slowly moved to the right along a white pressure gauge indicating that the fluid was being emptied. Another loud scream from Richard and then the medicine began its work. The wounded officer's bleeding and breathing began to slow.

"Fuck." Richard bellowed as even though the pain began numbing, it was still almost unbearable.

Several loud gunshots brought James's attention back to the battle at hand. He quickly grabbed one of the white pieces of fabric from Richard's bag next and shoved it into the wound.

"No time for bandages," James explained while ignoring his comrade's curse.

James approached the door to the crate slowly but with purpose. Just as he was about to position himself back into a covered shooting stance, he spotted three more of his team advancing forward up the hall. The flow of bullets whizzing towards the officers had been reduced from a raging river to a slow stream, and James soon found himself taking up the rear to a small group of three officers who were moving up towards Dennis's last visually confirmed position. Lieutenant Brittle was among the group.

"There," Jacob Brittle shouted, "behind the open crate! The one with the lights!"

James thought the lieutenant had spotted Dennis. Instead, he was identifying Melinda Barret who had taken cover behind one of the smaller large crates that were lit up from the inside. Beside her was a short blonde woman with a pointy nose and a furious scowl on her face. The scowl and her gun suddenly turned in James's direction, and before he had time to aim, the woman's gun was knocked from her hand by a bullet fired from Lt. Brittle's gun. The next projectile buried itself deep within her right thigh, effectively taking her out of the fight.

"Move up!" The lieutenant ordered.

Again James's peripheral vision warned him of imminent danger. This time to his left but unlike most of the assailants, this one had managed to scale one of the larger crates inside of the storage area. Normally, putting yourself in such an exposed position would buy anyone a one-way ticket to the afterlife. However, visibility was limited inside the near pitch black warehouse, and the criminal's dark blue jumpsuit blended almost perfectly with the black void around him. But not perfect enough.

Line up...squeeze.

The assailant's head jerked back. His left hand sailed through empty space while his right hand clung unconsciously to his gun. Slowly, his head drooped forward, followed by the rest of his body until the man's weight saw him plummeting through the black void. With a loud thud, the now dead husk hit the ground right next to the wounded blonde woman who shrieked with shock.

James thought he heard a name, maybe Peter or Petro through the woman's shriek but he couldn't be sure. After two more enemies posted close to Melinda Barret fell from the smoking barrel of Captain Ford's gun, Melinda, who had briefly hidden back inside of the lit crate, slowly walked out with her hands raised.

"You win, Captain," Melinda said with a lowered gaze.

"Where's my man?" Ford demanded.

A loud and furious scream from Dennis Hsu followed by a thud against the door of the large lit crate answered the captain's question. The door slammed shut as the body pressed against it slid to the floor. Dennis emerged seconds later from around the corner of the crate, clapping the dust from his hands.

"Captain." Dennis smiled. "Took you long enough."

"Traffic." Captain Ford answered with a smirk.

"I gave you a forty minute headstart!" Dennis protested.

"It's a big vault." The captain shrugged.

"James!" Dennis said with a pat on James's shoulder.

The slap helped James refocus his attention. We won. The thought was sweet, even though he was half traumatized by the events of the day. A brief glance around the warehouse revealed the floor to be littered with bodies; all of them Melinda's henchmen.

"It's over." James sighed in relief.

"Look at mister modest." Dennis chuckled.

"Modest?" James was genuinely confused.

"What did you think no one saw? You took out like six of these scumbags." Dennis beamed.

"Seven." Lieutenant Brittle corrected. "He neutralized one while pulling a wounded Corporal Chapman into one of the crates."

"I'm gonna call you deadeye from now on," Dennis said with a snicker.

Seven? James couldn't be sure. He was too scared. At first, he thought it was just the same jitters most people get before fighting an enemy, but no it was legitimate knee-shaking fear. But there was something else that took over. Something more powerful than the fear; instinct.

James made sure he hit the firing range every day and while most other officers didn't bother with the live fire obstacle course set up in the warehouse below the eastern bloc station, James routinely trained on the site a few times every month. Every day he trained, he would repeat the same self-taught mantras; move to stay alive and line up...squeeze. With the third he had help. His mother had constantly worried about him before she passed. She was staunchly overprotective, but even she couldn't pull enough strings in order to keep him out of the police force. So instead one day when a seventeen-year-old James returned home in tears from the academy because of the N-99 pistol; a weapon of death as James called it, scared the life out of him, she taught him something simple in order to help him concentrate.

One...two...three.

Don't forget to breathe. Her soothing voice resonated in his mind.

"You've made a mistake, Captain Ford," Melinda said with her hands still up.

"Said the woman with her hands up about to be arrested," Dennis said cockily.

"We don't have much time." Melinda persisted.

"You don't, we do." Captain Ford countered with a smirk of his own.

"You people are idiots!" Margaret fumed.

"Hey be careful with apple bottom there. She's feisty." Dennis said with a wink in Margaret's direction and received a middle finger and frown from the infuriated woman as an officer helped her to her feet.

"This time when we take you in, you're staying in." Captain Ford said to Melinda.

"As much as I know you would love that Captain; there is something you should know," Melinda said with a slightly lowered voice.

"And what's that?" Captain Ford asked with the smirk still on his face.

"Something only you can know." Melinda's eyes shifted from officer to officer.

"The time for secrets is over." Lieutenant Brittle said with a frown.

"If you're really going to arrest me then this is going to be the last thing I say to you," Melinda explained. "So what would be the harm if I whisper it in your ear?" Her voice remained calm, almost playful, but the smile never returned.

"Be quick about it." Captain Ford said with a brief sigh.

James watched as the chairman's wife leaned close to the Captain, almost pressing her lips against his ear and spoke silently enough so that only he could hear her. Then, much like before in the interrogation room, the Captain remained silent for what seemed like hours.

"Captain?" James finally spoke.

"Margaret knows what to do in the event of a situation like this," Melinda said with confidence and a glance at the blond woman.

Another handful of silent seconds went by. Something about the Captain's demeanor changed, but James couldn't place it. Was he...uneasy? Except for when the Captain had lost his composure in the aftermath of the terror attack, James had never seen him in such a state.

"Jake." Captain Ford motioned for the Lieutenant.

"Captain." The Lieutenant answered.

"Lock them all up." The captain ordered.

"Hey, James!" Dennis smiled.

"What?" James replied, his attention pulled from Melinda who had lowered her head in defeat with an expression of what appeared to be genuine dismay.

"You ever had a West One burger before? You gotta try this man." Dennis said, holding up a brown bag with a big toothy grin.

 

 

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