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Alone and cut off - Mason's story

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David Mason is no super soldier, he never was, nor does he want to be. Nor is he a one man army. He especially is no James Bond-like super spy. He hates Vodka Martinis for a start. Mason is an intelligence officer. To you that probably means 'secret agent' 'spy' 'James Bond' or whatever. In reality those terms are incorrect. That's modern pop-culture for you.

Mason works for MI6s covert operations unit, their name is not important as it changes regularly for security reasons, but within the Service it was always known as The Increment, again for reasons unknown. Together with E Squadron, a composite unit drawing a mix of operators within the UKSF community, they carry out operations where maximum discretion is required.

Mason though is just a spook, an intelligence officer whose main job, believe it or not, is report writing (it may surprise some people to know that it isn't all Vodka Martinis, beautiful women and gadgets). 80% of Mason's time, and also nearly every intelligence officer in the world, was spent writing reports, analysing raw intelligence and running networks of contacts. Only a small part of the job meant working undercover or in hostile environments and for that, MI6 mostly turned to E Squadron for protection of their officers and for the more 'kinetic' operations where Increment officers were not suitable. A soldier Mason is not, but he is trained, to a certain level, in operating in remote, hostile environments and has weapons, first aid and other skills training. Mostly involving typing, but he knows to look after himself.

It was the lack of information since Chernarus was fully quarantined from the world that prompted the UK Government to send in small covert teams to try and find out more on what was going on in there.

21st November, 2014 – Secret location, former soviet republic of Georgia.

Mason walked into the Op's room of the Increment operations base in an old industrial complex. Mason was called into the office of the Det Commander, Derek Carter, where he met with Derek and an SBS Sergeant, a guy called Terry, who was one of the team leaders with the E Squadron detachment.

“As you know, the situation in Chernarus is dire.” Said Derek. “The Foreign Office stupidly sent a few people in to try and find out more, but they've lost contact with them. Since the outbreak began last month it's been getting harder and harder to get information out of that place and now it's impossible thanks to the quarantine and the sudden jamming of all communications networks in the quarantine zone. ”

“So what's the plan?” asked Mason.

“We're giving it one last shot to get some eyes-on. David, you'll be going in with Terry's team,” Derek indicated the SBS man. “Simple orders; get in, poke around a bit and try and find out exactly how bad it is there, then get out. When we know more about the teams that went in before you we will brief you up, or let you know during comm's check-ins once you're deployed. The information you gather on this operation will hopefully give us a better idea about what the Cherno's are facing and maybe help us come up with something to help them out.”

“Seems simple enough.” Said Terry. Mason nodded in agreement.

Later that evening, after a lengthy set of formal orders, Terry summarised the main details. “We won't be going in by air.” said Terry. “The Russians are enforcing a no-fly zone and we have little air capability in the area anyway. It'll be an seaborne insertion, under cover of darkness, using the Eric; Long Range Insertion Craft. Increment have a contact in the Georgian Navy who has agreed to create a gap in the naval blockade's radar coverage to allow us to slip through. This is mostly to keep the Russians from finding out, which is also why we aren't just flying out to one one of the blockade ships and going from there, Ivan will find out and might raise merry hell about it. We should only encounter small Georgian coastal patrol boats in the area so if there are any problems we should be able to outrun them at least.

“Once we hit the Chernarus coast at Berezhki we'll travel down the coast until we get to Tikhaya Bay, conceal the Eric and move in-land to Myshkino, the location of the first reported victim of the infection, and establish a covert hide over looking the town. Mr Mason will establish the pattern of life down there and the surrounding areas. Next, we will try to find the source of the infection if possible, or an infected person if not, and take a sample of blood for the geeks to analyse.

“Once complete we will move back to the Eric and follow the insertion route in reverse where another pre-arranged gap in the blockade's radar coverage will appear so we can slip through back to Georgia. We will have 4 days out on the ground. We will also be on the look out for the other teams that deployed a few weeks back should any of them have survived. It wasn't DSF or the Increment who sent them so we don't know names and details yet. Also be aware of potential hostile groups. The CDF and UN are pretty much decimated in the area and may have fragmented into small groups. also, if we use the Balkans model, the various ethnic groups also could have banded together and be fighting ages old blood feuds seeing as there is probably no more law and order. It's also possible that Russia may have its own SF teams in the region too. Rules of engagement are defensive only, do not open fire unless your life is in danger, and avoid contact with the locals.

“We will establish comm's with the Op's room every 12 hours. There is some kind of jamming over the area making usual long range comm's impossible, so make sure the Tac-Sat and power amp is good to go before we deploy. Take the 200watt amp just so we know we can break through the jamming. We don't know its source but we suspect it's Russian.”

0200hrs 22nd November, 2014 – The Green Sea.

Mason looked out of the small window in the small hold of the Eric as the boat sped over the sea. In about 5 minutes they would cross the blockade line. 10 minutes later they would hit the Chernarus coast line. He wondered exactly how he was supposed to find the infection source when he was no scientist. His thoughts were jarred back to reality by a large explosion that rocked the small boat.

“What the fuck was that?” roared Terry.

“Explosion off the port bow.” said the team member at the controls, Mason recalled his name was Mac. “Can't see anything out there. Mike, get on the optics and have a scan.” The one known as Mike jumped in the seat next to Mac and switched on the thermal camera. He scanned around then froze and looked up in horror. “Terry, Russian frigate 800 meters to the south.” another explosion and jet of water rocked the boat again as the frigate fired.

“What the fuck are they doing here?” asked Terry to no one in particular. “Looks like the Georgian Navy asset fucked us over. Mac, gun the engine and out run the bastards, we'll try and get to the coast and lose them in the radar clutter.” He looked at Mason, “You stay out of the way, fucknuts.”

The boat surged forward and began making evasive manoeuvres to try and avoid the frigates main gun. Explosions sent jets of water into the air, the pressure wave and water rocked the small boat.

“We need to lose them, Mac.” Mike said, “Sooner or later they'll switch ammo natures and hit us with proximity rounds. The frag alone will rip us apart. I thought you SBS lads were good at this.”

“Working on it, dickhead.” said Mac with a grin. “You SAS fuckers are always moaning about nothing.”

“Just drive the fucking boat, you belter.” retorted Mike. Both men laughed as green tracer fire snapped over head. “Ah, the 30-mil's have joined the party. Terry, they're firing green shit at us now.”

“Great.” said Terry in mock frustration. “I don't think we'll out run those weapons any time soon, guys. Just do your best. John, get Mason ready.” John, the fourth member of the team, Mason remembered he was from the SRR, grabbed a life jacket and threw it at Mason. “Put that on.” he said. Mason put the jacket on and remained in his seat. “Am I being thrown overboard?” Mason asked jokingly. John said nothing.

There was a sudden loud bang and what sounded like ripping metal followed by a scream. Mason looked towards the cockpit and felt wind, sea spray and saw blood splattered on the steps. Terry poked his head up. Mike was dead, his body shredded by shards of metal and carbon fibre from the hull. Mac was wounded and bleeding badly from various large wounds. “I think they may have switched to proximity fuses, mate.” he said to Terry weakly. “They fragged the engine. We'll be dead in the water in a few minutes.” Terry heard the strange noises from the engine and saw smoke. It was only a mater of time before something ruptured and the engine died completely.

“Keep going as best you can, mate. John, get up here and help Mac, he's hurt.” John grabbed the med-pack and got to work treating Mac's wounds. Terry called Mason up. “This has gone to rat shit quite quickly.” he said. More tracer fire snapped over head and explosions a few metres above the water's surface rocked the boat. Mason heard shrapnel hit the hull. “How's your Cherno-Russian?” asked Terry.

“Pretty crap.” replied Mason. “But I can manage.”

“We can't outrun them, Dave. They've caused too much damage. They'll get a lucky shot eventually and we'll go up like a Roman candle.” Terry looked towards their destination. He could make out the coastline in the distance. Another explosion behind them caused the engine to splutter again as the shrapnel from the round hit the boat. “We're slowing down.” said Mac. Terry nodded. He pulled a lever on the console and the remnants of the roof flipped up and was blown away by the slipstream of the boat, exposing the cockpit fully to the elements. Terry went below and returned with a large machine gun. He lifted the weapon onto a small mount on the hull and loaded a belt of ammunition. “Mason, grab this.” he passed a small floatation device to mason, it has a small strap on it which Mason placed over his head. “If it gets too dodgy then jump overboard and swim like mad for shore.”

“What about you guys?”

“Don't worry about us. We'll be fine. Head for Emergency RV at Berezino. We'll try and link up then go from there.” Mason stayed out of the way as the remnants of the team tried to coax more life out of the damaged boat and tried to evade the Russian's fire power.

Another explosion violently rocked the boat and Mac and John were cut to pieces by shrapnel. Terry was hit too, his left shoulder ripped open by the frag from the proximity round. He looked at Mason, grabbing him. With a herculean effort he pushed Mason overboard.

Mason bobbed to the surface in the icy cold water. He saw the Russian frigate pour more fire at the Eric. Flames began to dance on the rear of the boat. Mason saw it explode in a fiery blast. No one could have survived that. He swam for all he was worth towards the coast. He was exhausted, cold and still in shock at the sudden presence and attack of the Russian frigate. After a while Mason was too weak to swim. Hanging onto the flotation device with his remaining strength he allowed himself to be carried by the currents, exhaustion taking over, he didn't care where he went.

Later that morning...

He heard waves crashing on the shore. Opening his eyes he saw pebble infused sand, felt waves lapping all around him and felt the sting of the cold. His body began shivering, he looked around and saw it was daylight and he could see trees and a road just up from the small beach he was on. Weakly he got up and staggered to the road, fuck it was cold! He looked up and down the road for any indication of where he may be, finding none he headed down the road, keeping the sea on his left.

He eventually came to a sign. Looking at it he racked his brain for the English translation for the Cyrillic text. 'Berezino' the sign said. Mason's mood lightened slightly. The ERV! He carried on walking into town, stopping by a small deserted house, he needed to find some warm and dry clothes or hypothermia would set in and he'd be in real trouble.

Finding a slightly worn raincoat and a pair of old jeans, Mason felt slightly warmer. He found an old tin of corned beef and prised it open chewing on the contents.

Dryer, warmer and a little more focused, Mason headed for the docks and the ERV.

A few hours later Mason was sat amongst the various shipping containers that littered the small port. There was no sign of Terry. Had he made it to shore further along the coast? Had he been killed in the explosion? Had the Russians captured him? Mason didn't know but he would give it another few hours before moving on. Where he would move to he did not know.

His thoughts were interrupted by a blood curdling moan and the sound of shuffling. Mason jumped up and looked all around him. He heard it again and his heart began beating faster, the adrenaline coursing through his veins. Then he saw it. And infected man shuffled around the corner of a shipping container and sniffed the air.

Mason saw vast chunks of flesh missing from the exposed parts of his body, his right ankle appeared broken, the foot was at 90 degree angle to the leg, yet the pain did not bother him. The eyes were milky white and lifeless and he was covered head to toe in dirt, blood and god knows what else.

He froze as he sniffed the air. He looked directly at Mason through those lifeless eyes, He growled, and ran for Mason. The infected man's mouth opened revealing broken teeth and small chunks of flesh lodged in his mouth.

Mason's first encounter with the infection and he was truly horrified by what he saw. This was no rabies strain, or whatever else the Russians and UN said it was. This was much, much worse.

Mason ran for his life. All around him he heard similar shrieks and growls...

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