Avaricious: Mission Pavour (Page 2)

        In reality, she and Sparky were actually an off-shoot of her father’s company, who also happened to be a famed mercenary – so much so that he was literally named “Mr. Espionage”. For a small percentage of their rewards, Mr. Espionage would make sure the pair were supplied with the best equipment, the best weaponry, and the best armour systems that money could buy. Supposedly, Rio’s father was once a proud soldier, defending the people against any threats that might arise; until the collapse happened. Tapping into his skills and contacts, he started to take contract killings to survive in this new world order, expanding and expanding until he became the bigshot he was today – all the while teaching his little girl how to do the exact same thing. After all, she was all that remained of his family by this point. Rather ironically, killing was Rio’s whole life. 

        Like most contracts, their clients’ real names (and, coincidently, their motives) were hidden; but the money was more than real, and from what Sparky could tell, they only went after the really bad guys. They had been paid (all upfront as usual – a promise bound by the Mercenary Code to complete the mission) to kill someone known as Henri Pavour, an bigshot guns-runner who had mysteriously appeared on the scene and was now apparently trying to become the new prime supplier for the DAF movement. Strangely, there wasn’t much for Sparky to find out about their new target; from what he could tell not a particularly bad egg, after all this “Pavour” was just former military who happened to be sitting on a stockpile of all sorts of military grade weapons, but due to “his” (Sparky didn’t even know the gender or appearance of Pavour) new ties with the DAF, Pavour unwittingly became a target. 

        At the end of the day, the DAF was a simple little gun-club, an army that had sprung up pretty much overnight. Granted, they had territory, they had power, and they had an arsenal, but they were just little fish compared to some of the other monsters in the pond, most notably the Knights of Zenith Earth. The DAF were picking at the scraps of the bigger groups, snatching up places like Lashine to try and justify their movement, but Lashine was a deserted city in the middle of the sticks where no sod lives – no one cared that they took it over. Looking into the history, Sparky found that at one point Lashine had apparently been quite the popular tourist destination, known for long streets with palm trees and gardens running down almost every road, but this was a long, long time ago now. The foliage of the city had started to spoil around the time the city was abandoned, and hadn’t done any better under the DAF – with the dust kicked up from the soldiers and trucks going here and there, covering the green. Seems that a bunch of gun-toting idiots didn’t really care much for horticultural exploits. 

        They probably couldn’t even spell horticulture. 

        But, a large supply of weapons like what Pavour was offering could change that. Heavy artillery and weapons, even in the hands of idiots from the scumholes of the planet, were still extremely dangerous – perhaps more so if they didn’t know what they were doing with them. With such a card in their deck, suddenly the DAF would gain a seat at the big boys’ table. This left Sparky pondering about their client; was it one of these other players? Maybe it was someone who knew that if the DAF got too big, another group would turn up and a slaughter would break out? Or maybe it was just some good natured person or a dissatisfied client wanting Pavour to be put out of business. The thing was, both knew that Rio could deploy her entire resources and (teaming up with her father’s men) probably could drive the DAF out of Lashine without too much difficulty – but then another force would just turn up the second Rio’s lot left, and just sitting in Lashine wasn’t going to achieve anything (which the DAF troopers stationed here had quickly found out). At the end of the day all that would be accomplished would be a massive loss of money and life. It was a harsh way to think, but the reality that Rio lived in forced her to think this way; at the end of the day if you couldn’t defend yourself, the inhabitants of this world would eat you alive… in some cases literally. 

        Using the sheer power of his computers, Sparky was easily able to gain control of the abandoned resources left behind by the old governments. With a supreme command of the satellites and the various remaining armed forces databanks at his disposal, Sparky always had next to no trouble finding their targets, but this Pavour was a strange case. There were only a few smatterings of people who had dealt with or been supplied by Pavour, and while most gun-runners employed a typical security detail to watch their backs, Pavour seemed to travel alone – very ballsy, and extremely secretive. However, by going through the DAF records, Sparky was certain that Henri Pavour was currently in the rubble that was the remains of Lashine, personally setting up this weapons deal. 

        From the multiple screens at his station, Sparky could monitor all activity going on in the city – from the safety of his room, and without anyone ever knowing. As well as his monitoring equipment, he had other screens devoted to Rio’s well-being, picking up readings from her suit (heart-rate, blood pressure, stress levels etc.) so he could tell if Rio was getting a cold hours before it affected her. Because of all this, he was able to keep Rio at the top of her game no matter what was going on around her, and of course if things ever got critical, he also had an entire separate system dedicated to “The RIAT”. 

        “Has our man of the hour made an appearance yet?” Rio continued, having already started making her way through the city, slowly checking the doorways and corners she passed like any military professional would be taught how to do, just in case there were any nasty surprises waiting for her. 

        Unlike most men, Sparky had been exposed to Rio long enough that he had no problem taking his eyes off of her, and easily turned his attentions back to his job. His main screen – the largest – which displayed his current satellite view over Lashine, allowed him to zoom in and out enough that he could count the hairs on someone’s head if he wanted. From what he could tell, the DAF had occupied the local small airfield, walled it off and used it to serve as their “Operations Centre” – the main hub for their activity in Lanshine – which was also where Henri Pavour had disappeared into some time beforehand. 

        After informing Rio of all this, the plan was to use a disguise to sneak into the base – even though Rio had… decided against the idea (apparently) – she wouldn’t have to go too deep into the city. Occupying the city was stretching the DAF troops thin and put them into a bored disarray, plus the airport in question was on the outskirts of the city, so had less chance of being seen. 

        “Nope… Looks like Pavour is still inside the radio tower. We’ve got forty people inside the airport structure, twenty outside-and-around the immediate area. Running facial recognition software - now.” Sparky replied, his fingers a blur on the keyboard. “Might as well see if there are any other bounties out on any of these guys.”

        “Don’t bother; no point fishing for the little ones when there’s a big fish in the pond.” She responded. 

        “Yeah, because you fish.” 

        “I could fish. Shut up.” 

        Sparky chuckled to himself at Rio’s banter as he looked at the DAF’s work, the airport fortress’ walls looked to be made of scrap dragged in from the city, though it was slightly hard to tell from Sparky’s angle on them. He could see more than a few soldiers hanging around outside the main building – the former radar tower – and while he couldn’t look inside (restricted to a bird’s eye view), he could activate a heat sensor, which picked up on the heat of a human body, identifying at least sixteen more people inside. 

        “See that building on your right? Blue door?” Sparky said, glancing at Rio’s viewpoint monitor. 

        “That green door?” 

        “It’s blue. Take it up to the third floor, you can get to the roof from the window ledge. From there you’ll have a good view of the airport.” 

        “Too much time staring at cute girls on your screens, it’s ruining your eyes little boy; going to the green door!” She smiled back at him.  

        As she began to move faster, Sparky’s floating screen automatically disappeared – so as to not to block her view. Like most of the buildings around, the door to this place wasn’t locked, or even shut fully, so gave her no trouble at entry. All that could be seen of the previous inhabitants of the city were the scattered papers and old cars; doors, engines, and boots open as they had been heavily scavenged to the point of wreckage. The houses everywhere had either been broken into (the smashed windows and battered door hinges attesting to this), or had been left wide open – however nearly all of them had scars of battle on them (bullet holes, or scorch marks on them), so an open door was no surprise. In the hallways and streets; empty boxes, scattered suitcases, drawers pulled from their desks, signs of a mass (perhaps panicked) evacuation. Of course, these were all old and tatty, from ages ago when civilians actually lived here, the last twenty years had the city changed hands over again from the various fighting forces; no-one having cleaned up the mess because there was just no point. 

        There were only a handful of buildings left in the city even worth trying to settle in, mainly due to their size, but this was now a military stronghold – no civilians around and very doubtful that that fact would ever change. Quick and silent, she ducked into the house, going through the hallway and making her way upstairs. 

        “Second door on the left. Watch the hole in the floor there.” Sparky instructed, using blueprints he pulled up on one of his screens, as well as Rio’s own vision to direct her – his ability to multitask often left Rio impressed, it was like Sparky could watch two things at once like some kind of chameleon – though she had never seen his eyes drift apart in such a way. Going into the room, Rio took a quick glance around, a military-force-of-habit to check every corner for enemies as she entered a room that had been installed in her from a young age. Not much was left in here, a bedframe with no mattress, what looked like a wardrobe, or maybe a cabinet – it was hard to tell with the state it was in. Happy she was alone, she gently placed her hand flat on the window, then activated a special “pulse” setting on her glove – sending out a small shockwave; a setting which was strong enough to shatter the glass with almost no sound. 

        It didn’t explode outward, but literally shattering the glass into pieces small enough that they looked like sand, which fell into a neat pile on the windowsill and spilled out over the ledge like a waterfall of glitter. She leant out, grasping hold of the window’s edges, and was easily able to pull herself up onto the window arch. From here, she quickly launched herself up toward the flat roof of the building, grasping a handhold and pulling herself up with one hand. 

        Just to show off, rather than just climbing onto the roof Rio pulled herself up into a handstand, flipping forward to land perfectly in a move any gymnast would be proud of. The speed and strength required to do these little acts of acrobatics always left Sparky with a twinge of jealously at her athleticism, considering that he couldn’t even make it across the room without his chair – but then again, he was certain that she wouldn’t even be able to turn a computer on if he wasn’t there to tell her how, so that helped ease his mind a little.

        “Show off.” 

        “Pluh-ease! You love it, and you love me for it.” 

        Now on the roof Rio had an excellent view of the airport – another correct prediction for her partner – the edge of the city just two streets away, with low, one and two storey buildings lining the way, and the airport from there was about a mile away connected to the city by a long, flat, wide road – which most likely would’ve been a dual-carriageway in its heyday. The City Hall had already been wiped off the face of the planet some time ago, and there were few other places that were suitably intact and fit to purpose for housing the DAF’s operation, so the airport was selected to be their headquarters within Lashine. She took a position on the roof, laying down flat on her stomach just in case any DAF trooper just happened to look her way, and peered out to survey the landscape. 

        Once upon a time, Sparky had recommended that she take binoculars along with her to help her scout out positions, but Rio never did. Never needed to. She actually had incredibly good vision – able to clearly see and identify up to a mile away (twenty times further than the average person) – even able to see better in the dark than most (though not fully able to see in total darkness), which manifested itself physically as the strange markings on her irises. 

        “In position. But you knew that, right?” Rio said. 

        “Yeah, I have a clear view of you now.” Sparky replied, his satellite able to zoom in on the exact rooftop she appeared on. 

        “You peeping tom you! Quit checking me out and keep your mind on the mission!” She laughed at him.  

        The way Rio constantly purred into the mic, made Sparky constantly roll his eyes at his screen – so much so that he was afraid they’d roll plum out of his sockets one day. Despite the fact that they were just friends, she always seemed to be flirting with him. During the first few missions together he had no idea if she was actually into him or not, but he quickly discovered that Rio had a tendency to use her looks to her advantage, often seducing targets to make it much easier to get a shot a killing them, or using her body to get her out of tricky situations – which was why she so often wore her bullet-proof suit with vast amounts of cleavage, as while men checked her out, she could take them out. Simply put, using her raw sexuality as a tool was so deeply ingrained in her psyche that Sparky wasn’t sure that she could actually “turn it off”. She just flirted with everyone, with Sparky often being closest in proximity to receive the brunt of the attentions. 

        Not that he was complaining in any way. 

        As if to demonstrate his point, Rio quickly rolled onto her back, stretching theatrically before blowing a kiss skyward, knowing he was still looking at her. Talk about a way to turn a frown upside down. 

        “Now, now, eyes front big boy!” She said, somehow knowing she caught his eye, and rolling back over. 

        “Hmph…” Sparky frowned a little flustered that he actually had been caught looking at her. He used his satellites to look over the fortress again, double checking that he marked all the targets. “Yeah well, anyway: That’s it, formerly Lashine airport, now home-base of the DAF movement. Some make-shift walls – looks like scrap hauled in from the city – and is that barbed wire?” 

        “Ooh, how retro!” 

        “Windows look blocked up with wood, doors look reinforced, structural damage repaired… haphazardly. Wow, you gotta love what they’ve done with the place (!)”  

        “I like all the duct tape; that’s a really nice touch. Don’t like the curtains though.” As she talked, she couldn’t help but notice that the DAF now had a flag flying over; it was literally the letters “DAF” and a crude picture of an assault rifle as an underline. 

        “Ooh, scary (!)” Sparky remarked, noting that Rio was looking at their flag. 

        “Right? It’s like a four-year-old came up with.” She sighed. 

        “Having second thoughts? I mean these guys aren’t the usual bad-assess you go up against…” 

        “No, I’m just worried they won’t give me a real challenge. Maybe I should just surrender, let them chain me up, at least it’d give them a chance when they try to fight back.” 

        “Yeah, but then Pavour would slip away.” 

        “Hmm, good point. I guess I’ll just have to put up with these clowns for now then.” 

        “Poor you (!)” Sparky said with playful sarcasm. He took second to glance over the list of items that the DAF were looking to buy from their new supplier. “You know, with all this equipment from Pavour coming in, maybe they’re looking to establish their own state? Could be more trouble down the road if they’re trying to get more people to join them.”  

        “Nah, they’re just over-compensating; like a guy who claims to be the best lover in the world, but then blows his load in thirty seconds and falls asleep.” Rio smirked to herself. 

        “That’s a real cute analogy. Maybe you’re the problem, being just too good in bed (!)” 

        “I know you’re being sarcastic, but I know I’m amazing both in and out of bed – so I’m going to take that as a compliment.” 

        “Uh-huh. As much as I love hearing about your constant string of failed one-night stands, can we keep focused here?” Sparky frowned back in his dreary tone. 

        Unlike Rio’s playful personality, Sparky was much drier and wasn’t exactly fond of talking at length with anybody – although Rio’s antics did help bring him out of his shell considerably, talking more to her than anyone else (including his own family) by a substantial amount. He actually lived with his sister and brother (with Sparky being the youngest of the three), living in a power station that once belonged to their uncle – now run by Sonya Ryan (Sparky’s older sister), so he never really needed to go out in the field, not that he would survive very long being wheelchair-bound of course. The three of them would repair, run, and maintain the station so that it could continue to disperse electricity to the surrounding regions, which also meant that no matter how big his computer set-up had become, running it for twenty-four hours a day was no problem at all. Rio on the other hand seemed to have no home, always being on the move from mission to mission, though she would hang out at Sparky’s often enough that it helped build the trust in their relationship. 

        He was about to say something else, but as he scanned the hastily assembled walls of the compound, Sparky noticed a heavy gun position. 

        “.9 degrees to your left, elevation: 22. Do you see this, Rio?” 

        “MGP 12 mounted machine-gun turrets. Yeah I see them. The swivel system allows a single user to have a 180° field of fire, can fire over a thousand rounds per minute through dual belt fed systems, and while prone to overheating, would be an obstacle for any attacking force.” She recited, having memorised this (and many other weapons’) statistics. “Sexy.” 

        “Rio, they fire high velocity, armour piercing as standard… That’ll tear right through your suit…” Sparky replied, the concern in his voice making Rio smile. Her skin-tight, brilliant red battle-suit was designed to act like a second skin, allowing her maximum movement and full use of her natural flexibility that was second to none. The metal fibre weave of it would stop standard bullets from piercing right up to point-blank range, though she would still feel the impact of every round that hit her. The tightness of the suit wasn’t just to showcase her figure, but also helped with natural healing, meaning that if she were to break a bone the suit would act as a cast and hold her together until she could seek proper medical attention. Instead of pockets or bulky bags, she had several straps with powerful magnets that certain gadgets and weapons could easily clip onto, keeping the area of space she took up (which the baddies would shoot at) as small as possible. 

        Notably, Rio didn’t carry standard weapons – instead relying on her hand-to-hand skills, her wrist-mounted launchers, as well as a multitude of gadgets hidden in or that could be picked up and stored via magnets on her suit. In the past she used to carry two assault rifles, a back-up handgun, and several bags full of ammo – but came to realise that a) that the ensemble was too heavy and slowed her down drastically, and b) enemies generally carried all sorts of fun weapons that Rio could “acquire” quite easily and ditch whenever she was done with them – so why worry about toting around all that weight. 

        “Aw, Sparky, let me worry about that. Besides, I’m always looking for an excuse to come see you, might as well be to fix the suit.” Rio said, an aura of calmness about her that was almost un-nerving. “All I need you to worry about moi, is getting me safely in and out of that heavily guarded base full to the brim with angry men, all of whom can’t wait to shoot me right in the middle of my pretty face. Typical boys (!)” 

        “Well I’m not too worried; we both know you’re going violently slaughter the whole pack of questionably innocent soldiers that dumb enough to get between you and the target – I have the utmost faith in you.” Sparky replied in his usual dry tone. 

        “Aww, I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me!” 

        Both continued scanning the compound, looking for gaps in defences and patrol patterns – and there were plenty to choose from. From the small gaps here and there in the wall that Rio could probably squeeze herself through, to the walls themselves ranging in height from six-feet to fifteen in some places and easily climbable, and there was even some kind of drawbridge-like gate – though it looked like there was some kind of passcode panel to activate it. Crossing the flat area of the airport wasn’t going to be too much of a problem, the area dotted with scrapped cars and even scrapped planes that could provide easy cover on the way to it from the road, the surrounding urban terrain would be easy to camouflage and move around. To top it all off, because this position was in the heart of their territory, the DAF defenders weren’t exactly on high alert. In fact, it looked like three quarters of them were either asleep, taking an impromptu break, or just messing around; and the other quarter who were at least at their designated positions, couldn’t be less interested in their jobs if they tried. 

        The funny thing was that despite all the man power and guns on site, this was one of the easier places Rio had tried to break into – there were no automated defences, no motion detectors, it was all very low tech. In other words: too easy. 

        “Floodlights on the walls at intervals, looks like they’re more prepared for a night raid than a day-time attack.” Sparky commented. 

        “Good for them, but I’m not going to wait around for nightfall.” 

        “True, but I have a storm coming in on the weather forecast – looks pretty bad. It’ll give you cover, but at the same time I know you hate running about in the rain.” He tried to joke. 

        “Oh I don’t know, I like to get a little wet now and again.” She replied, easily outdoing him. 

        Sparky was already preparing his retort, but a ping on one of his screens caught his attentions. “Hang on a second Rio, I’m getting an update.” An additional information package had appeared via the mercenary private network, marked as critically important for the success of the mission – which was extremely peculiar, as once a mission had been posted it took an incredible amount of resources to get it withdrawn or changed, just because there was so many factors taking place. “Whoa.” He muttered as he read it, before informing his partner, “Rio, I just got a message from your father.” 

        “I’m kind of jealous, he never writes me.” She joked, but became more serious, sensing Sparky’s frustrated tone. 

        “He’s changed the mission – you can’t kill Pavour anymore. He’s not giving any details, just said that Pavour has just become a top priority target that must be extracted.” 

        “No kidding?” 

        “Yeah, there’s nothing here, no reasons why, just – ‘Don’t kill Pavour’! That doesn’t make any sense, I didn’t think anyone could change the completion conditions of the contract mid-mission, even your dad.” 

        “Below our pay grades, honey. I’m sure that father-dearest has a good reason.” 

        “… Don’t you ever get tired of being daddy’s princess?” 


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