Michael Warren was born in 1984. As a kid he liked to figure out how things worked. He'd tinker with gadgets as he'd take them apart and put them back together. One evening when Michael was 7, he came home to discover his father was in the shower. He grabbed his father's watch off the dresser and began taking it apart. His dad took long showers, so he knew he had plenty of time. Piece by piece, he laid them out on the floor and examined them. The little gears fascinated him.
Michael heard the water turn off and he jumped to putting the watch back together. His heart raced as he heard the glass door slide open and his dad climb out. Michael paused for just a moment, took a deep breath and breathed out. In that second, his heart calmed and his hands went to work. Each piece of the watch slid into it's proper place. Finally, he slid the battery into socket, fastened the back on, and quickly set the time to the clock on the wall. Michael replaced the watch on the dresser and swiftly left his parents bedroom just as his father opened the door from his bathroom into the bedroom.
Moments like this exhilarated Michael. He knew he shouldn't be messing with his father's watch, and he knew the whoppin' he'd get too if he'd been caught, but his smooth hands and calm mind served him well. He was clever, too. He didn't like playing much, but rather enjoyed watching the other kids play at school. And he always paid attention to the adults when they'd come into his class and chat with his teacher. That's how he discovered that the Mrs. Jenkins was cheating on her husband with the superintendent.
In high school Michael started reading quite a lot. He consumed books like crazy, reading all of the Harry Potter series in just a few days. He loved fantasy like Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time, but also loved works by writers like Zore Neal Hurston and William Faulkner. He saw their work as insights into people and how they treat one another. Yet it was when he picked up books like Tom Clancy or watched shows like Burn Notice that he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life, and he knew he was suited to it as well. He was going to be a spy.
The day he turned 18 he walked into his Army recruiters office and told them he wanted to join up. They treated him like any other and sent him through processing. His scores on is entrance exam blew his recruiters away. He scored a 97 out of 99. This disappointed Michael though, because he wanted to a perfect score. He sufficed that this would do though, and it did. He was immediately offered an 18X contract that put him on the fast tract to the Green Berets. By the time he was 25, he'd done 4 total tours over seas in 6 month intervals and was leading his team. Every mission he'd ever been on had been a success and he took great pride in his ability and those around him.
Then one day he met a man in line at a coffee shop at Khandahar Air Base in Afghanistan. He said his name was John. He was clean cut and dressed like a civilian contractor. The man slipped Michael a business card without him noticing. Michael didn't discover it until an hour later. He was stunned. No one has ever gotten that close without me noticing, he thought. The card was ordinary card stock and plain white. An eagle was printed on one side as if it had been taken from the seal of the U.S. On the other side in handwriting and black ink it said "Call me," with an 8 digit phone number and signed John.
Within 5 minutes Michael had made the call. The phone rang twice before it picked up on the other end. "Are you alone," John said on the other end. "Yes," Michael responded. "Good," John paused for a moment before continuing, "how would you like to join the CIA?"
Michael had achieved his goal. He worked for the CIA as a spy doing as he was asked, putting his unique skills to the test for the government. he carried out missions in China, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Hungary, Ukraine, South Africa, Russia and many more. Then, in July of 2017, the world changed forever.
He had just finished a two month longer mission hunting down a coder responsible for Brexit and Russian interference in the American elections. He buried his memory of the mission as he cracked open a beer on July 4th, just as he had buried her in the white sands of the Caribbean Islands. Michael had about 13 days of leave saved up and had used 2 of them already. Almost another week had gone by as he sat around reading and tinkering before his phone rang on the 10th. Michael groaned a little, but picked it up because he knew they wouldn't call if it wasn't important.
He picked up the phone and there was a moment of silence. "Shasta," the voice on the other end said.
"Bruce," Michael replied.
A moment later Michael's handler and recruiter came over the line. "Have you been watching the news?" Without a pause he continued, "No, of course you haven't. Well, you need to come in immediately. I'll explain when you get here," and almost as quickly as the conversation had started it had ended. Michael hung up the receiver after hearing a click on the other end, then placed his book, Their Eyes were Watching God, back on the shelf before grabbing his coat and heading out the door.
Twenty minutes later he was sitting in secure room, almost an interrogation room, but with no two-way mirror. This was where secure information was passed to agents before assignments. Michael had been in rooms like these all over the world and they all looked nearly identical. John walked in and placed a file in front of him. Michael opened it and began reviewing and John briefed him.
"3 days ago there was an infectious outbreak in a town called Severograd in South Zagoria, Chernarus. No one is really sure what it is or how it started, but it's begun to spread to the neighboring towns. We're sending you in with General Wayne, your former commanding officer in the Green Berets that's in charge of a brigade the Army is sending in to help out. He knows you're coming with him in two days to get a lay of the land, but he doesn't know your mission." John explained this all as if he was in a hurry, which was odd for him.
Michael assumed it was because of the odd nature of this situation making him uncomfortable, so he made a quick quip, "Well, I don't even know my mission."
John didn't smile or flinch or laugh. He just kept on talking, "Your mission, Michael, is to gain as much information as possible, and report back to us. You'll be given a SAT phone to reach us on. You won't be coming back with the General, though. Instead, you're to blend in with the local populace and keep an eye on the situation. Once you're in, you're cover identity is Nemo Nikto. We want reports three times a day at 6, 12, and 18. You will likely receive further orders once in place, but as for now, this is the plan."
Michael closed the file after studying the terrain, it's recent civil war history, and the few details they had on the infection. It was strange alright, and whatever it was, he'd have to be extra careful not to catch it. It also worried him that it seemed to have taken out a large town like Severograd so quickly. He supposed, though, this is why they were sending him. If you want something done right, send your best, he thought. "I guess I'll see you when I get back."
31 hours later he was on a plane that would land at Balota Airfield. He caught up with Wayne, tested the SAT phone, and meditated before the plane landed. They weren't able to learn a whole lot going in about the details of the situation, but they did learn that the infection only took 16 hours to make a person attack others and become infectious themselves. The General insisted on going down into Chernogorsk to see how the populace was doing. Michael didn't know if he did this because he cared that much, or if it was to give him an opportunity to slip away, but he took it none-the-less.
Days went by and he reported in on what was going on from what he could pick up from locals traveling into the area and observation. He discovered that he could climb up on the buildings in Novelseki and get great signal and a good view of how the people were moving. As time went on, John told him the infection had started spreading across the world and they weren't able to contain it. He let him know that there may not be an extraction for him any time soon.
The 19th was the last day he talked to John. "Look," John told him, "If we can't get you out of there..." John paused. "Do everything you can to survive. Find out what the hell caused this and if there's a cure. And Nemo, if someone is responsible for this, put them in the ground." Michael had been a soldier his whole life, and he knew that this last order wasn't sanctioned, but he understood it better than anyone. The whole world was dying and he was right in the middle of where it all started.
That night, Michael watched as a plane hit the International Hotel. That was the moment it sank in that he wasn't leaving this place. When he booted up his SAT phone, there was no answer at the other end. Now there was nothing left but to survive and carry out his final mission if he could.