|Episode Four: Fresh Meat, First Blood|
January 9th, 2014
"…no. No! Sarah! No! No! No! Sarah, come back! Sarah!"
- Utah screams out to Agent Alaska
'Fresh Meat, First Blood' was released on the 9th of January 2013. It is the fourth episode of The Freelancer Archives. It first appeared on website 'FanFiction' here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9837816/5/Red-vs-Blue-The-Freelancer-Archives-Season-One.
- Director Leonard Church
- The Counselor
- Sarah Ashton
- Four Seven Niner
- Agent Alaska
- Agent Carolina
- Agent Iowa
- Agent Nevada
- Agent Rhode
- Agent Utah
- Agent Virginia
- Agent Wyoming
- Agent York
- Agent Oklahoma
- Agent Connecticut
- Agent Colorado
- Agent North Dakota
- Agent Georgia
- Agent Jersey
- Agent Oregon
- Agent Florida
- Agent Montana
- Agent Vermont
The episode begins in the Docking Bay as Four Seven Niner brings in the newest group of Freelancers from across the Galaxy. Due to the absence of The Director and The Counselor, F.I.L.S.S. is forced to introduce: Oklahoma, Connecticut, Colorado, Dakota, Georgia, Jersey, Oregon, Florida, Montana and Agent Vermont. Utah recognises Georgia as Thom, his old friend from Earth. The two and Agent Alaska begin a small friendship group. After welcoming the new recruits all Freelancers begin to progress a tour in their own ways.
On the training floor Dakota, Connecticut and Jersey are put up against Oregon, Oklahoma and Vermont. After a brutal paintball battle, Dakota’s team emerged victorious. In the Mess Hall Virginia, Rhode, Nevada and Wyoming discuss the state of the new recruits before Florida arrives and begins to forge a friendship between him and Wyoming.
Elsewhere in the Laboratories the Director, Ashton and The Counselor begin to administer tests on Agent Alaska's enhancement. The test is a success however, Alaska’s body is unable to take the electrical currents that is forcibly pushed upon her. As Utah passes the laboratories he watches as his friend dies.
Red vs. Blue The Freelancer Archives
Episode Four: Fresh Meat, First Blood
Mother of Invention, Docking Bay
By the time Four Seven Niner had arrived the agents were already excitedly awaiting the new editions. The Pelican entered the docks and rotated so that the ramp was facing the agents. All nine were in full uniform, full armor. As it descended York briefly turned towards Carolina before lightly grasping at her hand in an attempt to hold it. She accepted at first but quickly let go. She had to show she was strong, let the others know their place with her. But York had to show something too, he needed to show that Carolina and he were a team; that they were together.
The Pelican landed and the ramp lowered. The next ten agents exited. It was clear from the way they stood that they were all confident in their abilities. It was clear from the way they interacted with each other that they were all friends, more or less. And it was clear from their physiques and builds that they were a diverse mix of males and females of different upbringings and cultures.
Oddly the Director hadn't come to brief and welcome the recruits. F.I.L.S.S. had been tasked with that job. Later Dr. Church would converse with the fresh meat at the War Room in a similar way to York and the others. The agents didn't stand at attention, but they stood informally side by side. York and the original Freelancer stood grouped nearby and watched.
Large screens lining the walls of the Docking Bay whirred and flashed to life. They began revealing images of the Freelancers one by one. As each name was called the agent would stand forward.
'Agent Oklahoma' F.I.L.S.S. introduced.
A female Freelancer stood forward in front of her companions. She nodded respectfully. She wore an ODST helmet, an EVA right shoulder pad and EOD left. Her chest armor was Scout class. Her armor coloration included a Yellow primary coat and Khaki secondary. A green Armor detail could be seen below her shoulder pads. Her personalized symbol was made up of a black shield in the background with a yellow bull in the foreground. The bull's horns and nose ring was brown.
Next stood another female. This woman came equipped with an EOD helmet, Scout shoulder pads and a EOD chestplate. Her armor colors were Brown for her primaries and secondaries, with a white detail. Her symbol a Brown and White fox's face on a circular background. The fox's muzzle was white.
This next agent wasn't broad shouldered nor was necessarily solid. As he stepped forward he bent on a knee and held his arms up as if striking a lightning bolt. Colorado wore an ODST helmet with Mark VI shoulder pads and chestplate. He had a silver primary color, blue secondary and crimson details. His symbol had a black circle background and a silver unicorn with a blue horn.
'Agent North Dakota'
The next agent was another male. He stepped forward at attention. He wore a complete Mark VI armor set. His armor consisted of a Violet primary color, Green secondary and Green armor detail. His little emblem was a sniper rifle shell. It was dark green in color and had a violet outline.
Georgia stepped forward, he wore a CQB helmet much like Rhode. The rest of his armor was made up of standard Mark VI sets. His colors were a Green primary and Steel secondary with a Red armor detail. His symbol was a green and black wasp on a red circle background.
A large male stepped forward. He had a solid build and looked quite intimidating. He wore a Recon helmet, Security shoulder pads and an EVA chestplate. He had a steel primary color with Silver secondaries and armor details. His symbol consisted of a silver howling wolf on a black background. …yep, definitely intimidating.
Oregon, another male, stepped forward laughing behind his helmet. He stood with his arms crossed in an attempt to show confidence. York was unsure how Carolina was keeping calm with these new recruits. Oregon wore an EVA helmet with Scout shoulder pads and a CQB torso armor set. He had Steel primary armor color, Blue secondary colors and Steel armor detail. His personalized emblem consisted of a Blue and Silver skull with a bullet hole in the top of the head.
As Oregon stepped back this next agent stepped forward and bowed. He wore an ODST helmet, Recon shoulder pads and CQB chest plate. His armor had a Blue primary color, Silver secondary color and a White armor detail. His personal symbol consisted of a white skull with an eyepatch and wings on a black arrowhead background.
The second last of the agents stepped forwards. He wore a complete Mark VI armor set with a Ruby Wine primary color, Lavender secondary color and a Cyan armor detail. His symbol was made up of a red flame background and a bizarre symbol that appeared to be from an extraterrestrial language.
'And Agent Vermont.'
The final agent stood forward. She had a slender figure and looked as though she could move around without making much noise. She had a complete Mark VI armor set with the exception of an EVA chest plate. She had a Ruby Wine armor color, Pink secondary color and Orchid armor detail. The symbol consisted of a lavender rectangular background with a red mug with a skull on it. Poison.
Agent Vermont stepped back in line and all the screens around the Docking Bay died before F.I.L.S.S. continued.
'Welcome agents, to Project Freelancer. You are the newest group of recruits in our military branch. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me. The Director would like to see you in the War Room at 0400 Hours. In the mean time we have experienced agents here who you should converse with. They will be you allies in battle, after all. Good luck and have a nice day.' F.I.L.S.S. concluded.
Most of the new Freelancers grouped themselves amongst each other, leaving York and the 'experienced' agents excluded. In hopes of forming an introduction York brought Rhode and headed towards the new recruits. The others soon followed.
Virginia decided to split off from the others and head over to the one that had been introduced last, Agent Vermont. She removed her helmet as suddenly she was far more gorgeous that he had anticipated. It had been a long time since he had a girlfriend, or anything similar. He lost his girl Tanya when he joined the UNSC years earlier. When Vermont removed her helmet he first took note of her long and silky black hair. The hair was let down to her shoulders.
Vermont was talking to Agent Montana when Virginia arrived. She was facing away, and Montana nodded with his helmet in Virginia's general direction. She turned.
'Oh. What's wrong?' she asked.
'Wrong? Nothing. Not with you here.' He flirted.
And she just shook her head.
'Alright, alright, alright.' Virginia jumped in. 'Let me start over. I'm Agent Virginia. What's your name?'
'Veronica. Or at least it was, now I'm just Vermont.'
'What a beautiful name.'
Another cheesy flirt. Although someone clearly took note of it, immediately after saying it the bulky Agent Montana walked off, shoving Virginia as he did. Virginia, taken back returned his attention to the girl he was trying (but failing) to impress.
'What's his problem?'
'Yeah. You two aren't…' he began to wave his hands about, implying that maybe the two were in a relationship.
'What? …oh, no. With him? No, no, no. He's my closest friend, or something like that. Nah, he just hangs around me. It's comforting I guess.'
'Oh, sure.' Virginia agreed pretending to understand. 'I get it.'
'So, will you care to show me around?' Vermont asked at last.
Agent Virginia nodded, and began to lead her away from the Docking Bay. Far behind Montana noticed and began to trail out alone.
Elsewhere York, Rhode and Iowa had begun cutting through the group towards the Agent North Dakota. He was standing by Agents Oklahoma and Florida. As soon as Rhode and the others arrive they all joined the conversation.
'Hey, I'm Agent Rhode.'
North Dakota shook their hands. 'Well you can call me Dakota. It's a pleasure to meet you guys. Thanks for the warm introduction.'
Oklahoma and Florida then held out their hands.
'I'm Oklahoma, Oakey for short.'
'And I'm Florida. …Flor…ri…da. Nope, there isn't really much that can abbreviate Florida.'
Dakota stepped back politely to allow the others into the conversation. 'So how long have you guys been here on the Mother of Invention?' he asked.
'Uh, a few weeks now.' Iowa thought aloud.
'Approaching a month.' Rhode concluded.
'Well don't worry, we won't trip you guys over. You can count on us.' North assured.
'Who would you say is a team leader here?' Florida asked.
York stepped forward. 'Iowa here is an excellent combatant and strategist. He'd be pretty close.'
Then Iowa stepped in. 'Yeah, but York's girlfriend is the best. She would be an easy pick as team leader.'
'Girlfriend?' Oklahoma began. 'Who's that?'
'Agent Carolina. The one in the light blue.' Rhode jumped in. 'Same blue as my armor.'
Before the conversation could evolve F.I.L.S.S. interrupted over the intercom. 'Agents please standby. Florida, you have been summoned to the armory. Please return as soon as possible.' Florida nodded and began to make his way out. Oklahoma waited a few seconds before following.
'So to tell me a bit about yourself Dakota.' York requested.
'Well let's see. I grew up on Earth in Minnesota before moving off world. I have a twin sister. I'm a self-trained sniper.,,'
'Sniper,' Rhode was intrigued. 'You don't say. I always wanted to be a sniper.'
'Yeah? What's your specialty?'
'Me?' Rhode stalled. 'Well I guess I'm an infiltration specialist.'
'Hey Dakota, you were saying…' Iowa urged.
'No, that was it. I don't really have an interesting story. The Director came up to me asking if I wanted to put my sniper skills to good use. I accepted, he said he could pay.'
'You're getting paid?' Rhode burst out. 'What?!'
'No, no, no. I turned him down. I'm doing this for free. I'm doing this job for the adventurers.' North explained.
Rhode just couldn't understand. Rumor had it Wyoming was offered money too. What made them so special? The only thing they had in common was that they could both use sniper rifles. But that was it! Rhode could shoot a sniper rifle, was that really all it took?
'You coming, Rhode?' Iowa called out.
Agent Rhode Island turned to see York had taken Dakota and Iowa to another group in the Docking Bay. They were nearly out of the area when Iowa must have noticed he was lagging behind. Rhode chased after them.
Utah was wandering between conversations, looking for someone to talk to with Alaska when something he considered extraordinary happened. The new Agent Georgia removed his helmet, his face was extraordinarily familiar. Agent Georgia was his old 'pal Thom.
'Thom…?' Utah said to himself, shocked.
Immediately the Freelancer in white began to run towards Georgia. Alaska was left behind. Over the past month she had been developing a friendship with Utah, he made her feel as though she belonged. To see him break away didn't make her feel jealous, but somewhat unloved. She looked at her feet, it was time for her to leave. She had turned and was beginning to walk away when she felt a tug at her arm. It was the sort of tug a child would have, it reminded her of the innocence of childhood. Blushing she looked up.
'Where do you think you're off too?'
It was Utah.
He grabbed her by the arm and brought her to Agent Georgia. For a split moment she had been worried, she feared that she would be without a friend. Lucky for her, she had a good friend like Jackson who would look after her. Because of him, Georgia, Utah and Alaska would be a trio of friends.
'I was recruited not long after you, Jackson.' Georgia laughed. 'Yeah, I was in the ambulance on my way to the hospital when we pulled over. I thought there was a problem, like I was about to be shot. Apparently The Director had stopped it. One of his men brought me to a UNSC hospital where I recovered. So really, I've been a Freelancer as long as you. It just took me a few weeks more to recover.'
'This is crazy.' Utah smiled. 'Oh, Thom. I'd like you to meet my friend.' Utah stepped back and held his arm towards her. 'This is Agent Alaska. I hope the three of us will be good friends while we're here.'
'Indeed.' Georgia nodded. 'Alaska, pleased to meet you.'
'Enchante.' She welcomed him.
'French, how much of it do you speak?' he asked.
'Fluently.' Alaska said in her French accent.
Georgia stepped back, surprised. He hadn't expected her to be truly French.
'Well then. I didn't know that Project Freelancer was a multicultural recruitment branch.' He said before noticing Alaska tip her head as if offended. 'No. No, I mean it's good. It's good to see a French person as a Freelancer. Actually, to be honest I'm quite excited to be a part of your team.'
'In that case. You are welcome, ami.'
Interrupting the conversation a young male Freelancer designated Agent Colorado wandered through. 'Pleasure to meet you. Yep, I'm Agent Colorado. Thank you, thank you. At your service. Hold the applause.' He nodded and moved on.
There was an awkward silence between the three.
Colorado then moved on to some of the other agents, specifically Agent Carolina, Nevada and Oregon. He had wanted to meet up with the British one, that Agent Wyoming – but that guy had left alone. He wandered up to her, others had said she was the leader.
'Hey there, gal.' he opened.
'Uh, hello.' Carolina replied.
'I'm Agent Colorado. But you… can call me Senior Sexy.' He spoke before roaring like a lion.
Chicks dig majestic cats. …in a non-creepy way of course.
'No. Uh, Agent Colorado will do.'
'Yes. Et tu?' he asked for their names.
The three broke into laughter quite spontaneously.
'Et toi.' Carolina corrected.
'It's et toi. Not et tu. Badly conjugated.'
'Are you sure?' Colorado challenged.
'We have a French Freelancer. I am sure.'
Oregon stepped forward. 'Don't worry about him. Kid's a tad special.'
'Special, more like be-a-utiful.' Colorado laughed.
'Relax, kid. Keep trying to make friends.' Oregon suggested.
'At least I have friends.' Colorado raspberried.
'Agent C, go play with someone else.' He shook his head. And Colorado walked away. 'Smartass.' Oregon whispered under his breath.
If Colorado was a dog, then Oregon would be the leash. Agent Colorado moved on towards another group. By the closest wall near the groups of agents leaned Agent Jersey, the silver demon in armor. Colorado leant against the wall and crossed his arms.
'Tough gig.' Colorado shook his gig.
'Piss off.' Jersey's voice was deep and raspy.
'Get away from me or I will feed you your spine.'
And Agent C left.
Training Floor, Mother of Invention
'…three… two… one. Round begin.'
Agent Dakota pushed through the center from his side (left) in the lockdown paintball map. As he pushed forward he was careful not to reveal himself. Beside him pushed Agent Connecticut. The two moved in sync in an attempt to practically charge their enemies. The databanks showed that Agent North Dakota was quite the strategist, and Carolina recognized that this would be a trait she would enjoy fight beside him.
Carolina had been watching from the Observation Deck with most of the other Freelancers both new and old. While Dakota and Connecticut moved in from the left of the arena Carolina wondered where their teammate had gone. Fighting with them in Team One was supposed to be Agent Jersey. Jersey was nowhere to be seen.
Dakota and Connecticut were careful to push forward in sequences. Being too eager to push forward would likely result in them being careless, careless soldiers always died. They knew this very well. The training session was on its twelfth round. Unlike other training sessions that had played out, this one was extremely amusing to watch. The score was Team One with six points and Team Two with five.
Then Jersey appeared. He had disobeyed Dakota's orders. Dakota had established himself as team leader, Connecticut felt she followed orders well and Jersey was stubborn and believed he wasn't good at working with others. Dakota didn't want to disappoint so he made a rule that orders had to be voted on. It was a process Carolina disagreed in. Carolina believed in giving and following orders, no second guessing.
Anyway, she had spotted Jersey's head pop up at the farthest end of the map. He wasn't outside the map but about two meters in. She wasn't aware whether the rest of the Freelancers in the observation deck had noticed, but she had. All the others were conversing in their little groups, she stood by the window and watched. Those of the Freelancers who couldn't see watched from the various screens inside the deck.
One of the doors behind her slid open. Inside came Agent Colorado and Utah. She had wondered where Utah was. Georgia, Utah and Alaska were really hitting it off as friends. When Carolina arrived at the Observation Deck pre-training she had wondered where Utah was. Here he and Colorado came in pulling in two weapons caches each. These ones appeared to have come from the Docking Bay.
They stacked the boxes up two by two and jumped on one each. Each of the agents activated the short distance radio so that everyone in the Observation Deck could hear them. Then they began commentating. Carolina smiled. It was quite humorous actually.
Distracted for a moment she noticed she hadn't paid much attention to those on Team Two. They were losing, but not by much at all. Team Two was made up of Agents Oregon, Oklahoma and Vermont. Oregon acted as their leader. The Freelancer database had marked most of the background on Oregon as 'classified'. What wasn't covered in black ink suggested he was a veteran of war, yet only around his mid to late twenties.
Team Two had moved very little this round. Vermont and Oklahoma had been posted on the boundaries of the arena to ensure they weren't flanked by Jersey again. Oregon stayed in the center on their boundary. They were laying a trap for Dakota and the other agents. The intensity of the events unfolding below were quite outstanding.
On the ground however, it wasn't outstanding but more frightening. Upgrades to the paint over the past month had raised the amount of pain Agents received when hit by a shot. The Director had hoped this would raise desperation and help increase strategy. This is what Dakota had been told before going in.
Agents Iowa, Rhode and York had befriended him, but left him out in the open to get shot at. He wasn't alone, he had Connecticut. She was nice. Jersey, he wasn't so much.
He and Connecticut must have covered half of the distance of the arena by now. He looked at her, both crouched behind pillars three away from each other. No sign of Jersey. No sign of Oregon. No sign of anyone. He held up his hand and waved it towards the enemy starting positions. The two stood up the slightest bit higher before moving out.
When moving up and around cover for a split second he thought he saw an arm. Possibly Oregon's. He looked up at Connecticut. He pointed to his visor and then his arm. She couldn't understand. So he repeated the sequence again but opened by pointing around the pillar. She proceeded to do so. But shook her head. No Oregon.
They were about to move up when she looked again. Immediately after turning she stood upright and flattened herself against the pillar. Dakota didn't know any hand signals for 'what's wrong'. So he activated his close-range personal radio, connecting it only to Connecticut. He was at risk of accidentally broadcasting to the enemy in doing this.
'What's wrong?' he asked.
'I saw him. He looked around at the same second.' She whispered.
'Should we fall back?'
'No.' Dakota whispered. 'He's probably doing what you're doing, hiding.'
The two began to turn around the pillars to move up when Oregon jumped out of cover between the pillars that resided in front of Dakota and Connecticut. Ambushed.
'Wrong, assholes.' Oregon laughed as he fired a burst of paint pellets towards Dakota.
Dakota dove out of the way towards more pillars, meanwhile Oregon turned to Connecticut. Surprise was the ultimate weapon, it prevents enemies from attacking – even if only for a second. Connecticut was a victim of this trap. As the pellets rained down on her though, she rose to the occasion and ducked around the pillar. She turned around the whole thing until she was behind her attacker. She fired but Oregon ducked. Dakota popped out of cover and suddenly Oregon was surrounded.
The victory only lasted a millisecond as Oklahoma and Vermont finished off the ambush and suppressed Connecticut, freeing Oregon. Dakota fired on the Team Two leader but missed. Oregon dove and Dakota fired to where Oregon was about to land. What would have hit, did not. In the split second before the pellet hit him, Oregon crouched to his knees and activated his armor enhancement.
A large rectangular holographic shield. The Hardlight Shield. It glowed orange and seemed to deflect the paint with ease. The 'I win' button it the battle. Two seconds later the shield disappeared. There was a pause, a moment of quietness where underneath his EVA 'fishbowl' visor Dakota knew that Oregon was grinning.
Then Connecticut fired, but at Oregon. Dakota couldn't see the battle near her, but he knew she had fired. Oregon turned suddenly and reactivated the Hardlight Shield. Oregon raised the shield once more, only this time it glitched. The shield flickered and died, the glitch zapping the agent with a small electric shock to stun him. Connecticut again saw this as an opportunity to again fire, while he was inert. But he recovered and raised the shield again just in time to deflect. It flickered once more, shocking Oregon quite violently until he collapsed on the ground. He was still awake and began trying to lift himself.
Dakota seized the moment and fired.
Oregon was out.
A pipeline was needed for Oregon's armor enhancement to work. Without it, it was clear it just wasn't effective. Carolina wondered whether or not the other agents in the training arena had gathered their armor enhancements yet. She wondered what they were and whether they needed a live feed to the Command Server, like Oregon's. She looked back towards the battle at hand and wondered what was going through Connecticut's head.
Adrenaline. She wasn't entirely aware of what was happening. It was all combat and no time to think. There were pellets buzzing overhead and shots rang out across the arena. They were a lot more silent than normal gunshots, but still enough to make Connecticut shiver. She fired twice in Vermont's general direction. Looking back she saw it, Oregon was gunned down.
She realized how bad it could be for her if Oklahoma showed up out of the blue. Connecticut turned as Vermont leapt into cover. Oklahoma did, just as she predicted, come out of hiding. Oakey fired, the paint grazing the back of Connecticut's right hand. Her fingers stiffened under the effects of the shot. That was it, no paralysis. She raised her eye line to see Oklahoma's and knew her time was done.
Oklahoma had her gun pointed at Connecticut and Connecticut had her gun pointed to the ground. Another shimmer, similar to when she had seen Agent Oregon. From behind Agent Oklahoma appeared Agent Jersey, even if only for a second. The massive silver Freelancer began to run past Oklahoma but stopped, lifted his right leg an dropped it behind one of Oklahoma's knee. She collapsed and he drew back a fist before throwing a punch at the back of her head before shooting her once in the back. It all took place in a second, and in that same second it all ended.
Two down, all that was left was little miss Veronica. Agent Vermont. Dakota was still catching his breath from the fast paced battle with Oregon. Connecticut would have been too if Jersey hadn't ended the fight early. But then she realized, if Jersey hadn't ended the fight early she would have been shot by Oklahoma.
Too much confusion. But Connecticut felt like she owed Jersey so she pushed forwards and began to follow him in the chase to track down Agent Vermont. It wasn't hard. Connecticut merely scooted around the pillar that Vermont had just leapt behind and found Jersey looming over her having just punched the gun from her grip. A second later, casually, Jersey fired at her and turned away back to base.
'Point Team One. Having 12 rounds, the score is now: 7, 0. Advantage: Team One. With two rounds left Team One only needs to score 1 point to win. Game point. If Team Two scores two points the lightning round will begin. Agents, prepare.' F.I.L.S.S. said.
On each side Carolina observed the Agents pick their tools. She wondered whether or not they were confident. Unfortunately, she was no behavioral analyst. She had no idea what was running through their minds from this distance.
Vermont had been running tactics through her head. This was no time to screw up. On a map such as this, tactics were limited. If you weren't in cover you were almost completely exposed. Other tactics had already been done before. Outflanking, done. Ambushing, done. Once a tactic was tried, everyone would know it forever.
'Alright. I'm not about to lose my first training session.' She announced. 'So this is what we're going to do. I'm taking charge.'
'My ass you are.' Oregon growled.
'You don't have a choice. We're losing under your command.'
'Don't we at least get to vote?' Oklahoma asked innocently.
'Sure.' Vermont compromised. 'As long as I'm the one you vote for.'
'Sorry, love. But I'm in charge and there ain't jack shit you can do about it.' Oregon taunted.
On the other side of the arena is was all butterflies and rainbows, or at least was when compared to the inner team conflict occurring at Team Two. Dakota had continued to ask for opinions on strategy, and again Jersey shrugged. Dakota knew that the silver warrior was just going to leave and ignore orders as soon as they were given, so he instead turned to his good friend Connecticut.
'We could give 'em a taste of their own medicine.' Connecticut suggested.
'You think we lay a trap?' Dakota responded.
'Hide out in a corner of the map, shoot on sight.'
'I like it. But on a map like this any strategy is expected.' Dakota realized.
'What if we just came at them guns-a-blazing. We have one point left to do what we want with. We can afford to make a mistake.'
In mid conversation F.I.L.S.S. cut in. 'Round begins in three…two…one. Round begin.'
Dakota turned towards the battlefield and loaded his gun. Connecticut did the same. A second ago Jersey had been in his peripherals to his left, now he was gone just as expected. Jersey likely completed the exact same tactic that he'd done in the previous round. No time. Go. The two sprinted through the center, each firing a few shots randomly in an attempt to at least scare the enemy.
Within seconds they were on top of the enemy. Agent Vermont clotheslined Connecticut and forced her on her back. Vermont sacrificed the use of her gun in doing so. Connecticut retaliate by rocking on her back and jumping to her feet. She wasn't used to hand-to-hand combat but knew perfectly well that Vermont was.
Vermont would raise her hand to punch Connecticut in the cheek, Connecticut would deflect it and try to throw the fist back – only to fail and just charge the momentum of her opponents strikes. Connecticut was on the defense, Vermont continued to attack with flurries of kicks, punches and slaps in order to get her on the ground. The first on the ground would lose, that was the basic rule of combat.
Vermont spin kicked and clipped Connecticut's hip throwing her back. She stumbled, but held her ground. She pulled herself up by grabbing a pillar. Then Vermont leapt off the ground and in all her force backflipped, her feet kicking Connecticut's helmet off.
This was the first time that Vermont had ever seen Connecticut. In a completely not weird way she found her opponent somewhat attractive. She was quite a pale girl with a Mohawk folded over the right side of her head. A young goth chick. Vermont was momentarily distracted by the girl's physical features and the fact she'd just managed to kick another Freelancer's helmet off. She was distracted for long enough that Connecticut actually managed to pull her helmet back on over her head.
A second was all Connecticut needed to duck into cover. In that second Vermont drew her gun again. The girl was gone. A second later Connecticut reappeared sprinting towards another area of cover. Vermont fired thrice. The last two hit Connecticut. She was certain. But the girl kept moving, well only for another few moments. As quickly as she appeared, she disappeared. But instead she seemed to disappear into infinity rather than run away.
Confused and somewhat panicked Vermont tracked slowly to where her enemy disappeared. She instantly heard footsteps behind her, outflanking her. In must have been Jersey. She spun around and aimed the gun in her hand at her tracker. Connecticut.
'How in the f-' Vermont began.
Connecticut fired a paint pellet at Vermont. But quickly using initiative Vermont used the gun to shield herself, letting the paint cover the gun pointlessly. What was going on, how had Connecticut jumped around the training floor like that? She asked herself. She fired her gun at Connecticut who ducked.
Or had she? Connecticut started to duck, then just as suddenly stood upright and was hit by the paint that Vermont had fired. Again the paint showed no signs of effect, sure Connecticut was frozen but Vermont couldn't even see the paint growing over her armor. Was she hallucinating?
In only a few moments she would know her answer. She felt the floor beneath her feet move and suddenly she was swept off the ground and onto her back. Vermont looked up, winded. Connecticut was crouched over the top of her, having just kicked her out from under her own feet. Above and behind Connecticut was…Connecticut.
The one standing behind flickered and disappeared just as the one that ran into the pillar had. That was her secret. Agent Connecticut's armor enhancement was a Holographic Projector, she could project copies of herself. Immediately everything made sense, she must have looked like a real idiot from the Observation Deck. So it was time to redeem her reputation.
Vermont rocked back kicked Connecticut in the chest to throw her back. Vermont leapt up onto her feet ready to throw a few punches. In front of her, somewhere behind Connecticut were a series of fast paced running footsteps. Likely Oregon coming to help. In the spare of the moment, as if planned, Connecticut dropped to the ground leaving Vermont unpleasantly surprised.
Of course the approaching Freelancer was not Oregon, but Jersey. As he approached and Connecticut dropped Vermont felt the brutal pain of a massive fist being brought down on her cheek. Vermont fell back in pain, but landing successfully without falling onto her back as she had before.
She stumbled back and Jersey raised his gun to fire, a quick and deadly blast. But he didn't. More footsteps came approaching. Oregon ran into the gathering.
'Dakota's down!' Oregon announced.
At the sight of what was going down he immediately leapt back off the ground in an attempt to avoid enemy fire. He failed. Jersey fired. Oregon was hit. Oregon was out. Oregon had taken out Dakota and Jersey had taken out Oregon.
'No!' came a female's voice.
Vermont was certain it hadn't come from Connecticut. And she herself hadn't screamed. And Colorado was likely being an idiot up in the Observation Deck rather than down here. She turned, but only she had time to. Oklahoma fired all the paint pellets in her gun and covered Jersey's back completely in pink paint. Jersey was frozen solid, and out of the competition. Now it was only Connecticut.
Vermont was still looking at Oklahoma. When she turned towards Connecticut she heard a click. Connecticut was holding her gun up at Oklahoma. Vermont turned back to see that Oklahoma had also been shot down. Celebrating quietly Connecticut was likely grinning. Vermont lunged on her, held her in a headlock before flipping her over onto her back.
Connecticut was laughing, or giggling. To shut her up Vermont threw a punch into the girl's stomach. That certainly worked. This was more than just a game to Veronica, this was her reputation on the line. She had to prove that she was the best, no matter who it was that she hurt.
One punch, two punch, three punch. Go punch. Then she'd shove in a kick. Then another few punches. She was not finishing. She wondered what those in the Observation Deck would think, that Vermont was insane? No. Vermont was just determined. She wouldn't kill Connecticut, she would shoot her. Eventually Vermont intended to befriend Connecticut. Odd as it must appear from the outside.
Punc- Vermont threw a fist to the ground. Only, yeah, it hit the ground. It didn't hit Connecticut. It went right through Connecticut and hit the floor. How could that be? How- Oh shit.
Vermont felt a massive cold sensation consume her whole head. It stung like a bitch. Suddenly her muscles tensed and seized up. She couldn't move any longer. Vermont was out.
'Victory Team One.'
Mother of Invention, Mess Hall
Wyoming had all together given up eating the roast beef that lay down at the table before him. Neither did he mind. He enjoyed having conversations with the other agents in the Mess. Here he was talking to Rhode, Nevada and Virginia. Nevada had sat on top of the tabletop. Virginia and Rhode were seated beside Wyoming at the table.
'They don't seem too bad?' Virginia asked. 'You sure?'
'I sure as hell don't mind them. Most of them are quite nice.' Rhode stated.
'Screw it if they're nice, they have to know how the ranking goes. We are on top. They are nothing but fresh meat.' Nevada laughed.
'In saying that,' now it was Wyoming. 'Fresh meat has been known to cause damage.'
'Are we talking cricket, Reggie?' Nevada asked.
'Lame!' Virginia yelled out. 'Come on, real sports. Let's talk hunting.'
'Or let's not talk about hunting and talk about the 2158 Ashes Test. What the hell happened there, mate?' Nevada asked.
'I'm sorry, we won. You lost.'
'In 2158? We won then, Reggie.'
'No, sorry chaps. Australia won the 2157th Ashes Test.'
'I think you're mistaken mate. I think you've gotten mixed up with the 2168th Ashes Test.'
'No, no, no.' Wyoming ranted. 'Indonesia won the 2168th Ashes.'
'Oh, yes.' Nevada agreed. 'Cause Indonesia joined the Ashes back in 2102.'
Along with the agreement there was a moment of consideration in silence. The silence was followed by all the Agents looking at their feet in mourning. In that very same test match some of the players fell victim to beatings among attacks from citizens of Indonesia. Ending the silence entered Agent Florida. He approached the others on the bench.
'Florida, welcome.' Said Rhode.
'Why thank you, Agent Rhode. And might I just say I am feeling very welcome.'
'That's good. I'm glad.' Rhode laughed. 'I hope I'm not being rude or anything, but I better head off.'
'Oh no. If it's me, I'd hate to impose on you.' Florida apologized.
'No, you're not.' Virginia assured.
'Rhode, Virginia and I were supposed to help the Director complete observations of the training session from before.' Nevada informed him.
With that, they waved goodbye and exited the Mess Hall. Florida watched as they left, standing upright with his chest puffed out and his hands on his hips.
'Well aren't they nice.' Florida smiled.
He knew that the other agent with him wouldn't be able to see the smile through the ODST helmet and visor. He knew that the white Freelancer would likely be able to tell due to his body language. He turned to him.
'So yes, I am Agent Florida. Pleased to meet you, friend.' Florida introduced himself.
'I'm Reginald.' Wyoming spoke, not taking his eyes off the meal he was eating (with his helmet off).
'What's your agent name, friend?'
'I guess I'm Agent Wyoming.'
'Well then you can call me Butch, Butch Flowers.' He introduced, laughing.
'What's funny?' Wyoming asked.
'Do you have to ask? My name, that's what's funny you silly hoot.'
Wyoming shook his head, laughing. Florida wasn't such a bad dude, Wyoming was thinking – or at least that's what Florida thought he must have been thinking.
'Why Reginald, you have a peculiar accent my friend.'
'I do? I hadn't noticed.' Wyoming sarcastically said while continuing to eat, not even giving Florida that courtesy of looking at him.
'I have a certain skill, dear friend. I can pick accents from a mile away. French.'
'I'm sorry?' Wyoming asked angered, looking up from his meal.
'Have no fear, friend. It was only a joke. You are clearly Russian.'
'Do I look Chinese?' Wyoming shouted.
'No, but I'm not one to judge the appearances of others.'
Wyoming shook his head and continued eating.
'I'm bloody English.' He revealed at last.
'I knew it! That was my next guess!' Florida celebrated.
Agent Florida, Butch Flowers sat beside Wyoming at the table.
'I think we're going to be good friends.' Florida announced.
Funnily enough, Wyoming actually agreed. Florida was just the kind of companion he needed.
'I believe you may be right, old chap. You may be right.'
Mother of Invention, Laboratory
The Mother of Invention's Laboratory was a massively tall cylindrical building pointing straight upwards, vertically. In the center at the bottom remained the test subject. The labs had two observatory windows in two different rooms overlooking the experiment chamber from high above. In one remained The Director, The Counselor and Engineer Ashton. In the other were some of the Agents who had gathered to see what was going down.
Along one small wall of the base in the labs was a window. A hall in the Mother of Invention had a large window that showed exactly what was going on in the base level for a closer view. Currently no one was standing outside the window.
Up high with Agent Carolina was Agent Nevada, Rhode and Virginia who had just come from the Mess Hall. Agents Connecticut and Dakota had also come. All the agents here had gathered to watch The Director initiate tests on Agent Alaska's armor enhancement.
'She's got an Electricity Conductor.' Rhode revealed to Dakota, who had just asked what the purpose of the experiment.
'Yeah, it's designed to harness and harvest electrical energy and use it as either a weapon against enemies.' Nevada added. 'Or to reuse as energy for something else.'
'Where's Alaska?' Dakota asked.
'In the suit.' Carolina said.
It was true. Below on the bottom level Alaska awaited in her suit. It was hooked up to the Command Server, not even wirelessly just to ensure nothing bad would happen. Large wires were wrapped around the suit's custom gauntlets. The plan was, energy would pass through the wires and into the suits and charge up her enhancement so she could harness the electricity. It all made sense, except for one detail. Why even bother with the experiment if the Director knew there could only be a successful outcome.
'He's probably just displaying to the other Agents the power of the enhancement.' Connecticut decided.
The agents waited a good two hours before anything exciting occurred. Carolina wondered how Alaska was holding up. Dakota had gone to a vending machine and bought snacks. Nevada had made two toilet trips and Connecticut sought out Vermont and Montana so that they could watch. She failed, they didn't come back with her. It truly amazed Carolina how Connecticut could even show any admiration for Vermont when there was a needless beating that took place between the two on the training floor.
'Standby Agents.' F.I.L.S.S. warned. 'Tests to be administered shortly. Please clear the laboratory floor and make your way to observation posts.'
In the other Observation room The Director had worn a large lab coat, so had the Counselor. Ashton was in the back, her presence was not required but The Director believed her accompaniment would be helpful.
'How much electrical energy have we gathered, F.I.L.S.S?' The Director asked.
'The battery is charged to 100 percent as is ready to be released.' Announced F.I.L.S.S.
'How many vaults are we looking at, Counselor?' The Director asked.
'The battery is stable and unlikely to release discharge. It holds electric cells each with 414,000 volts.'
The Counselor moved himself away from his console at the laboratory towards the observation window. By the window stuck out a small microphone. The Counselor grabbed hold of it and began to speak out over the intercom.
'Agent Alaska, we are ready. Do you give the green light?' The Counselor asked.
The Counselor moved back to the console and typed a few keys into the computer. Then he twisted a key inserted in a keyhole on the desk and a plastic box opened up revealing a yellow button below. He pressed it twice, the second time for two more seconds than he had the first time. All the consoles in the room lit up from a dark blue to a light blue. A bright flash lit through the window.
Along the wires small electric currents visibly revealed themselves. As soon as they appeared they disappeared into the armor. With each second, Agent Alaska twitched. More and more. More and more violently. Smoke began to rise from the armor and she began to scream aloud at the top of her voice. Her words were unintelligible, but clearly extremely pained.
Sparks splashed across the base room below. Flashes of light blinding those in the Observation Deck.
'The enhancement is rejecting the pulse energy from the electricity!' The Counselor yelled at the top of his voice as sparks began to spread through the consoles.
'Shut that damn thing off!' The Director replied.
The Counselor frantically pressed at buttons but nothing did the trick. Second by second the battery decreased its percentage. With each second it lowered in one percent of capacity until it reached 97%. Immediately after hitting that it dropped twenty percent per second.
The enhancement was a success, it conducted electricity but kept it bouncing around her body rather than the armor. Pipeline or not, the enhancement was killing her.
The shocks were incredibly unstable and Alaska was having trouble even making sounds now as parts of her body began to swell and bruise. Her body would constantly heat up at unbearable temperatures before depleting a millisecond later and leaving her breathless. A hundred of these transitions a second, each left her weak and broken. Only, the shocks didn't stop. The battery may have been empty but the electricity continued to shoot through.
Mother of Invention, Hallways
Utah wondered what all the commotion was about. So many of the Freelancers were headed to the labs to see someone do something. Details hadn't been important. Utah was on his way escorting Georgia to the bunks, he figured he'd swing by the labs to check out what was going on. As they wandered the lights in the roof used to light the halls began to whir. They didn't dim nor brighten, but made an odd buzzing sound.
They were approaching the observatory windows, some mad flashing was coming through the glass. Bright lights. Incredible. Utah approached the glass.
'No! Sarah!' Utah screamed.
He sprinted towards the window, pressing himself against it and smashing his fists and palms against the glass. On the other side he could see Alaska, she was wired to something. Electricity coursed through her body. Her armor was fading to a whitish color. Behind him Georgia stood in shock, falling back to the wall to gain his footing. She screamed at the top of her voice, facing Utah.
A large explosion caused Alaska's helmet to fly off, cracking into several pieces as it flew. She screamed to him as he desperately beat on the glass to get inside. She coughed up blood, the redish black fluids catching fire as they left her mouth. Her skin, pale. Her eyes, a bright red.
'Sarah no! Sarah!' he screamed, crying as he desperately bashed against the glass.
The bolts stopped.
Alaska collapsed, she still was hanging up by the wires. She began to manipulate her mouth into words as blood poured from her lips. Utah, that's what she was trying to say.
Utah placed his palm against the glass.
One more flash spread across the wires and into her. Then her body collapsed. A lifless husk.
He was in shock. Quiet. Watching. Waiting.
'…no. No! Sarah! No! No! No! Sarah, come back! Sarah!'
Georgia fell back, feeling really dizzy he thought he was about to collapse. He coughed, probably vomit. He was so woozy. Dizziness overwhelmed him. He wanted to go home. Blackness was the next thing to consume him as he found himself unconscious, fainted.
Around her the agents were in panic. Carolina knew not what to do. She watched as Connecticut ran for the door holding her belly and helmet as if holding in vomit. Dakota rushed out after her. Carolina just felt light on her feet. The electrical shocks died down and all the base doors to the lower levels of the labs locked. Medical teams, trapped outside.
Project Freelancer had claimed its first casualty.
Just as the other agents had, Carolina fainted.
- This episode was originally titled ‘Fresh Meat’ however, it’s title was extended upon release
- The title was never previewed with 'First Blood' in order to avoid spoilers
- The title refers to the fact that both new agents are recruited, and the first agent dies
- This episode marks the first casualty to Project Freelancer