Fate Twister (Redux Edition)
“A Familiar Insertion”
Date: 2:12 P.M. August 5th, 2015
Home; a distant memory of what was one of the few peaceful segments that still lived on in my mind. Deep within the horrific scars that make up most of my mind, hides a tender, young and optimistic individual. Donald Harold Castor, a teen, or even more appropriately, a very young adult who had held a decent lifestyle at his home; a young and calmer tempered version of myself; a far more naive, uninformed, and much unprepared version of who I am today. In that era of my life I had an entire road paved before me. I had great grades, I was one of the most valued assets to my home town’s football team, I had a full scholarship to college, I even had a very steady relationship with a beautiful girl named Morgan Chase. Along with the grace of a car mechanic of a father and my stay at home mother. I found myself however, using my abilities of advanced math and language skills, as well as my natural learning curve, physique, and intuition, not to get into some university, but instead to join the United States Marine Corps much like my father before me. This is obviously held with no disrespect to the men and women in uniform, but I would soon come to realize that my decision to join had led to, easily, the least favored period of my entire life. Nothing that my school teachers, the local Marine recruiter, or even the many stories of glory and hardship my father had shared with my family in the dark next to our fireplace could have prepared me for where the future would take me. If I had to sum up the downward spiral quickly, and if it were at all be possible, it would most likely start around the year 2010.
In the middle of this year my lifelong friend, Michael Brook, and I both decided that after our final year of high school, we were to go through the ‘true American journey’ and join the military. Within a few months of training for the physicals involved with the recruiter’s evaluation, we found ourselves walking into the local UMSC recruitment office located in one of the neighboring towns. By this point we had become physically fit and were quite intelligent individuals, so we were enlisted with flying colors and were quite welcomed by the recruiter in result. Once we had been enlisted it was only just a matter of waiting to ship out to basic. The news and plan had already been fairly celebrated by my family, and many rounds of alcohol were passed about and consumed by everyone. My father made promises of a getting me a, realistically, achievable car of my own if, and only if, we actually returned from our first tour of duty. After this, goodbyes were the only thing shared before the two of us left to for Basic.
We did exceptionally well in basic training. In fact, there wasn’t much that we found to be even considered as lackluster. We simply handled everything that anyone threw at us with great performance and distinction. Mike was clearly becoming quite the range man, though despite the both of us performing well with each other on an even level, I seemed to be the most well rounded of the two. This trend continued on for us as we slipped into advanced training. The only thing that seemed to hinder us was the excitement of finally getting assigned to a platoon and seeing some action. We didn’t have to wait that long as we were quickly taken into the ranks and sent to Afghanistan.
After a little more than a year, we had made quite the name for ourselves. Through several instances of seriously saving some lives in horrid situations, we had received the attention of some higher ups, and even some ‘privatized’ agencies. Interestingly enough, we eventually found ourselves being pulled into a meeting with one of these agency representatives. The representative informed us that we had been under evaluation ever since we were placed in advanced training. That the organization he was representing wished to offer us both positions of employment as mercenaries. We were also informed that if we decided to accept the positions, they would wait for us to finish up the year of service in the military before we would be assigned for any sort of “job”. With little thought of what we might face and the notion of being paid, and quite well at that, it didn’t take long before Mike and I accepted their proposition.
The few years to follow were all but slow paced. We found ourselves bounding all around the world as private sector mercenaries for Skylark, the agency that had sought us out while still in training. Through our many contracts and jobs, we had grown quite notorious as operatives; if there was anything serious that needed to be handled, we were on the top of the request list for many of our service’s clients. Due to many high profile jobs, funded by some of the world’s most powerful companies and organizations I might add, we had racked up quite a profit over the years. Sure, we had spent quite a decent chunk of it on our gear and traveling expenses, the rest went into a saving which we would split up evenly on occasion. In the time that we were not on the other side of the planet, we spent it at home, in the same quiet area that we had been raised in. Mike had his small house that was well adequate for whatever lady friend he would bring home. I had my own place that I shared with my dog, Morgan, and a few restoration cars that my father and I would work on. It was far from what we originally had wanted to do with our lives, but it was a decent living.
Their story would truly continue in the busy summer of 2015. The two were currently seated on a homebound flight, on a Skylark owned Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, that was but a few minutes from landing at Papago Airfield in Phoenix, Arizona. They had just finished up a lengthy ‘Hunter’ assignment and were heading home. The flight had left Japan the morning before after an unsuccessful contract that had the two trying to catch a pair of targets from western Texas all the way to Seattle, Washington. Then eventually to the country of Japan. It was grudgingly painful to admit that the two had willingly ended the hunt right before they would have achieved success. It had been quite the expensive chase and would, in the end, be incredibly detrimental to their ratings within the company, as they were the main individuals on the contract. The two weren't overly happy about it, but with a sense of tiredness and hungry bellies, they only wanted to rest in the comfort of their own homes.
Don was suddenly woken from his sleep by a painful smack on his shoulder. He quickly looked over with a grimace only to see Mike pulling his hand back into his seat with a large shit-eating grin fit only for the finest jester. To add insult to the injury, he was snorting loudly as he was doing his best to not laugh at such an action.
"Wake up, Don.” He spoke softly, still huffing softly as he struggled to keep himself from laughing. “It's time to get up and get ready school."
Don groaned loudly as he grimaced towards his accomplice. “What the fuck, Mike… c’mon.” He sighed heavily before stretching back to check and make sure that his bag had remained untouched .
“Aww… Do you need five more minutes, honey?” Mike chuckled slightly as he gave his best impersonation of a woman’s voice.
“No… I need you to get off my ass about waking up.”
“How dare you!” Mike leaned away as if he was greatly offended.
“Mike. Stop it.”
“That is no way to speak to your mother!” Mike proclaimed as the gag continued
“I swear to god I will break your fucking face.” Don glared at him. As much as he hated Mike’s constant mouth, it was easily the most effective way to wake him up.
“Oh, calm your tits, fat ass. Don’t get your panties in a fucking bunch.” Mike laughed loudly as he broke character.
Don just nodded as he rubbed his face in annoyance.
“Hey… Come on. I will always be your hotdog, Don.” Mike gimmicked with a smile.
“Dude… I called you ‘Oscar Mayer’ once. One fucking time! That is it!”
“It only takes once to become a beef frank.”
“That doesn’t even make sense!”
“Neither does your face.”
“Fuck my life…”
“Maybe later… I have a very busy schedule with lots of shit to take care of first.” Mike stated as he looked at his smartphone as if he was swiping through such a schedule.
“What the hell do you have to do?”
“Well let’s see…” Mike hummed. “I have three women planned for tonight, two bars to be kicked out of tomorrow, and then I have to join you with your family for the cliché ‘oh welcome home, baby boy’ picnic. He answered jokingly.
“You sound quite busy…” Don looked out the window of the plane at the sandy mountain scape of Arizona that seemed to slowly draw closer.
“Yeah! I am! Hell, I wish I could make that my job though…” Mike sighed.
“That job already exists…”
“It’s called being a porn star.” Don looked back, this time with a grin of his own.
Mike stopped for a moment to adjust himself. “A star, huh?”
“Yes… a porn star.”
“Why not a rock star? I could play guitar or something!”
“No… You can’t.”
“Because an M82 is not an instrument.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“What it means is…” Don looked forward briefly to see a few other mercs in the plane watching the exchange as the plane shook as it began its landing pattern. “Is I am saying you are a talentless fuck.”
Mike just shot a quick glare at Don. “Yeah, well you’re gay.” He proclaimed, having no further valid argument.
“I am still not as gay as your neck tattoo.” Don chuckled.
“Hey! It wraps up onto the front of my chin and shit. It’s badass!”
“Yeah… Badass if you were a prison bitch.”
Conversations like this were quite common between the two as they had been the best of friends since they were about two years of age. The two had a weird stint of a relationship that could only be described best as non-legal step brothers. This was mostly due to the fact that Don’s parents had practically raised Mike in the same household. Unfortunately, that situation was caused to form when Mike’s mother had been killed in a car accident when he was at the age of five. His father was nowhere to be found. With no extended family willing to take him in, Don’s parents stood up to the plate and took care of him, without the legal system getting involved. Supporting someone else’s child all the way through high school without even an extra penny or tax break was really an extensive gesture for even the best hearted people; it had really painted a clairvoyant image at how decent and loving the Castor family could really be.
Just a few minutes later the pair were walking down the rear ramp of the C17. Before the two had even left the shade of the plane, Don put the pair of aviator cop glasses that he had in his backpack. This of course was mocked immediately by Mike, but such apparel was nearly mandatory on such a day like it was in Phoenix. Once they had left the plane, they took a quick shuttle into the small agency hangar nearby. They turned in all of their weapons and bags so that all the contract sensitive material was stripped of their belongings before their things were returned. After they got their things were returned, they left the hangar through the offices that were attached on the other side of the building. From the offices they went over a small sky bridge into a several story parking garage. When they were just about to get onto the elevator to reach where Don’s car was, his phone began to ring.
“Who is that?” Mike asked, surprised as he had not even seen Don turn off the airplane mode.
“I don’t know…” He sighed as he pulled out his phone. “It’s Morgan…” He answered the call quickly. “Hello?”
“Oh, shit! Hi babe!” Morgan said happily over the phone.
“Hi honey.” Don smiled, he always enjoyed hearing her voice.
“I didn’t think you’d be on the ground yet, but I was just checking in case you were.”
“Of course…We just got to Phoenix and I’m heading out to the car now.”
“Did Mike bug the shit out of you?”
“You know he did.” Don looked over to flip Mike off as the elevator dinged as it reached their floor.
“Oh well… We all know him I guess.” She giggled.
“Yeah… He has always been unbearable.” He chuckled back.
“Hey! Fuck you, Don!” Mike yelled out next to him in protest. “Oh and tell her I said hi!”
Don just shook his head.
“What am I going to do with you two?” She sighed.
“We will discuss that later tonight, alright?” Don gave a sly smile.
“If you say so…” She paused briefly. “Did Mr. Japan say ok? Did you guys make the sale?” Don and Mike had never mentioned anything about the mercenary work to her or anyone else outside of the industry, for obvious reasons. To everyone else they were security consultants and salesmen. It was kind of a far-fetched cover, but it worked well enough.
“Unfortunately… It was a no go.”
“Well… Sorry babe. You were on the road for a while so you two must have sold at least some things right?” She asked.
“Yeah… We made some. But that Japanese guy was the biggest account we had on this run.”
“That’s not good.”
“Nope… But hey, I’m gonna get on the road soon so I gotta let you go, sweetheart.” He said as they got closer to the car.
“Ok. How long will it be before you get here?” She asked.
“Probably about… 12 hours.”
“Ok! Call me if anything comes up.”
“Of course, darling.”
“I love you.” She said softly. “Please drive safe.”
“Oh I will… I love you too. Bye.”
“Don, I love you too.” Mike teased as the phone conversation ended.
Don ignored Mike’s banter as they turned the corner of the parking garage to see a blackened 2013 Shelby Mustang GT500; aka, Don’s car. The beastly machine was the result of what he and his father had built together the year before. While his dad had already given him a 2008 Dodge Challenger after Don had returned from his first tour of duty with the UMSC, he had a mutual bucket list entry of working on a racing Mustang. With just a small amount of searching, Don was able to get a good deal on one that had already been mildly damaged. Once they had it taken to his father’s garage, they would remove the engine and build a replacement one piece by piece. Of course, they had done several other things to it, like the addition of dual straight pipes and upgrading all of the intake, fuel, and ignition systems. The last things that were added were the metallic paint job and the set of darkened 20” Bullitt rims that fit quite nicely with the sports radials that were wrapped around them. With a definite set of dark red stripes that ran along the sides and the top of the car, the machine held quite the menacing look. Don smiled at the sight of his car. With a smooth sense of motion, he drew his set of keys out of his pocket before catching the button dongle after spinning it around his finger. He unlocked the trunk of the car before carefully placing his duffle bag inside. Mike gave him a weird look.
“You’re putting the guns in the trunk?” He tilted his head curiously.
“Uh, yeah. They are full auto assault rifles, so of course I’m putting them in the fucking trunk.”
“Good point.” Mike shrugged.
Don closed the trunk before unlocking the doors to the car. Before the two got in, they both set their backpacks in the back seat of the car. Once in, Don spent a few minutes to make sure everything was where it had been when he had left; The Colt M1911 was stuck in a holster on the side of the center console, the pair of black fuzzy dice were still hanging from the mirror, and the seats had not even been moved from how they had been left as. It was not that the agency’s security could not to be trusted, it was just the basic checklist to fulfil before inserting the keys. With a moment to let the electronic systems to give their “all clear” on the dash, he turned the keys in the ignition. With permission from its operator, the engine turned over before giving a loud growl that could be felt even in the protection of the enclosed cabin. This voluminous bellow was softened as the engine calmed down to a soothing idle; its rumbling engine note could still be easily heard, but this was much more bearable in an enclosed parking garage.
He checked his mirrors before turning around to look out the rear window as he began to back out of the parking spot. Once out of the snuggled resting place the car had been in, Don drove through the several levels of the garage before stopping at the security booths on the ground floor. It only took a minute or so to clear through security. As soon as Don had rolled several car lengths away from the booth, he stamped the accelerator down to the floor. The tires spun as exhaust resonated madly throughout the parking garage.
“Tunnel bomb!” Mike hollered in excitement.
Don smiled; he always missed his car.
Before they hit the main roads to home, the duo made a quick stop at a gas station to fill up and inflate the tires to where Don wanted them. The car, only sitting for a month, needed very little, and so they quickly were on their way to their hometown of Winnemucca, Nevada. Most of the trip would be on US 95N, so with the GPS set, and the discography of Don’s mp3 player, the two relaxed in their seats and enjoyed the ride.
Later that evening, the trip had gone as expected. They had made only a single stop just before Las Vegas to fill up once again and to get food. They were making good time, and surprisingly, Mike had been quiet for the most of the trip as he had not hardly slept on the plane. The clock now read 9:27 P.M. and the sun had set just two hours prior, and with only the small sliver of light from the new moon, this left the car’s headlights as the only light that was of any real significance to them. There also was a somewhat lacking of other vehicles on the road. It was not such a surprise to either of them though, it was a Wednesday night after all.
“You know what I don’t get?” Mike spoke up suddenly over the volume of the music.
“What is it?” Don asked as he turned the music down slightly.
“I don’t understand why we just let the two go…” Mike was referring to the last assignment that they had failed.
“We have been over this.” Don really did not want to discuss it again.
“Yeah, but still!” Mike sighed heavily. “Dude… they were looking down the barrel of your gun! Why the fuck did you just call it off then.”
“Because they were just kids, Mike. What was I supposed to do?”
“He was a kid, that HIS Interceptor was not.”
“You know very well she was too.”
“Nope! I am not going to that realm of mind fuckery!” Mike exclaimed. “That ‘she’ was a rogue autonomous Interceptor run by a rogue artificial intelligence… Jesus I’d never think I would say that!”
“Mike! Come on!” Don was getting a bit upset with this.
“Don’t you cmon me, you son of a bitch! We chased a fucking robocar from Texas to Japan and then you just give up with it right in front of you! What the fuck?!”
“You were in the air, jackass! You were not the one with the gun on them, so you do not get to make that call!” Arguments like this, just like their joking, was another common attribute shared between the two.
“Quit referring to them as ‘them.’ It was just the guy and the Interceptor. The car isn’t a her…”
“Her name was Mia.”
“I wouldn’t give a fuck if it called itself the ‘mystical, magical, amazing dildo printer machine!’” Mike proclaimed loudly. “That thing was a computer thingy and you know it.”
“Why would a fucking AI grow attached to a regular guy then?!” Don challenged heavily. “Why would it include the breathing of a distraught and scared woman?”
“I do not fucking know. Who died and made you the fucking Socrates of Psychological Labeling?!”
“Hey! at least I passed that class in school!” Don shot a glance at Mike.
Mike grumbled heavily; Don had delivered a hefty blow. “It was the only class I failed in high school!”
“Yeah? So what?! You probably don’t even know who Socrates is!”
“Yes I do!” Mike struggled with this argument.
“Name one thing he did.”
“Oh go fuck yourself, Don! You bring that fucking class up one more time I will seriously rip your guts out of your ass with a plastic spork!” Mike admitted defeat.
“Whatever…” Don sighed. “The point is that the two were on the run together for a reason. I saw their desperation and did what I would want if I was in their position. Alright?”
“Fine.” Mike said tautly.
“Thank you…” Don exhaled as he now focused on the road again. The trip grew quiet for another few minutes.
“Ugh…” Mike grunted from the passenger seat.
“What?” Don exhaled slowly.
“I hate this stretch of road. We might even be home in an hour if you weren’t going so fucking slow!”
“I’m going the speed limit.”
“So?? You drove a Corvette at almost 200 just recently. Balls up, big boy! Let’s go!” Mike exclaimed, once again referring to the previous assignment.
“No. End of story.” Don did not feel like getting a speeding ticket.
“Why not? Are you afraid this piece of shit can’t go that fast?”
“I bet it would.”
“You’re a fucking liar.”
“I am not fucking speeding! So shut your trap and go back to sleep!”
Mike huffed. “Why can’t you be let us have fun like we were having two weeks ago?”
“You are only saying that because you were flying a helicopter!” Don grumbled.
“You bet your ass I was! And it was not just any helicopter!”
Don gritted his teeth. “Yes… an Apache Long Bow.”
“A god damned Apache Mother Fucking Long Bow! That is abso-fucking-lutely correct!” Mike answered immediately; as one could tell, he had always had been a huge fan of helicopters and flying in general.
Don did not give a response to this.
“Come on! Let’s go, Speed Racer!
“You reminded me Knight Rider. Cmon! Let’s get this KITT mobile going!”
“No.” Don answered without hesitation.
“Holy shit! You are such a pussy!” Mike hollered. “If you get into any trouble I will pay for it 100% in full; bail and all!”
Don, knowing full well that Mike would simply never give up, quickly downshifted into second as he slammed the gas pedal to the floor. The rear tires squealed briefly at the sudden increase of horsepower and torque getting transferred to the road. They quickly regained traction just before he shifted into third gear, effectively setting the both of them back in their seats as the engine began to tear through the gears. Mike yelled in excitement as he was pressed harshly against the seat and Don smiled widely as he realized that the experience was as is just how he had always remembered it as. The adrenaline from driving the needle towards one hundred and fifty miles per hour; the satisfying whine of the Whipple supercharger; it was all part of a dreamy experience that most would never get the chance to experience in their lifetime. The experience was soon cut short as the car began to suddenly shutter as it swayed heavily to the left as it had nearly reached the one hundred and seventy-five mark on the speedometer. Despite the seemingly random jarring of the vehicle’s mass, Don swerved slightly before regaining stability of the vehicle.
"Don!? What the hell?!” Mike looked over sharply as Don began to slow down while returning to the middle of the road.
“I don’t know…” Don answered confused.
“Did we hit something?!”
As Don was going to answer, the Mustang lurched yet again. This time, however, the engine screamed wildly as the two were yet again shoved back in their seats. He cursed loudly in surprise as the car began to accelerate without him even touching either of the pedals. The thought that the throttle cable had snapped quickly entered his mind as he attempted to hold down the clutch in efforts to end the acceleration. For whatever reason, the clutch pedal would not depress to the floor even slightly. A sense of fear quickly washed over him as he found that, much like the clutch pedal, the brake pedal, too had stiffened so much that it was stuck. As the speedometer rapidly rose, he began to panic as he tried finally to rip the key from the ignition.
“Ok, Don! You can stop now!” Mike shouted nervously over the screaming engine.
“I’m not fucking doing anything!” Don yelled back fearfully before the head of the key broke off from the shaft.
Don’s gut sank as he looked at the key piece in his hand before looking over to see the needle bury against the speedometer’s maximum measurement of two hundred and twenty miles per hour. He dropped the key and took a tight hold on the steering wheel as the Mustang continued to somehow accelerate well past what it had been built for. Suddenly a supernaturally disk shape, basically, what could only be described as a rippling black hole, appeared ahead of the vehicle. Before he had even a moment to try to turn the car from it, the Mustang barreled right into it. As the vehicle raced through the aperture, a deafening explosion sounded out that left the two dazed and with pained ears.
They barely had a moment to regain some of their senses as the windshield was enveloped in complete and utter whiteness. As their hearing began to return and their eyes somewhat adjusted, the could instantly feel the weightlessness of the car and themselves as there was a clear lacking of any surface under the wheels. The two began to scream as the car seemed to nose dive towards an abyss of black below the current plane of existence that they had entered. As the car freely fell into the abyss, all forms of noise and visual sense seemed to fade drastically to a numb nothingness for Don. Their screams had been pulled from their throats and their sight had been hidden from their retinas. The only thing to be felt was the chill of his body heat being sapped by the void.
After what seemed like an hour to his perception of time, he felt a growing burning within himself. As strange as it was to describe it, he could hear himself shiver from this through his mental realm. The shiver was followed by his own breathing that quickly became quite labored as the pain swiftly began to grow in intensity as it started to feel as if his skin was beginning to crawl in place. A series of audible snaps sounded out, each shooting an extremely spike of pain throughout his body. The snapping sounds went on for several moments, each leading to him convulsing heavily as he cried out in pain and agony from the experience.
The pain abruptly stopped as another flash revealed another light disk that appeared in the distance in front of the car. There seemed to be a sudden ripple that roared through him. As the concussive wave tore through his body, the cabin of the Mustang was illuminated in reddish light. His vision was quickly blurred and his hearing had partially returned as he was once again shoved back into the seat as the car rocketed off towards the distant disk. From the forces being exerted on his body and the lack of clear sense of vision, he could not begin to try figure how fast the car was traveling. As the disk grew closer and closer, his nerves became stiff with fear as Mike began to scream next to him.
The next thing that the two could gather from their senses was that the car had once again entered a physical realm. With their vision still quite out of focus and the car still traveling well over controllable speeds, the two were far from relieved. Too much of his luck, Don could feel the pedals were once again able to be used. Knowing this, he quickly stamped the brake to the floor. This caused the tires to lock up and leave the car decelerating slowly from whatever speed it was traveling. While the locked tires were working efficiently to slow the vehicle down, but it led to another complication as the car began to turn and sway. He did his best to keep the car straight, but his arms felt weird and useless. The right rear quarter panel of the car hit something solid as the car slide back in forth. The impact sent the car swiftly towards the other direction and into a sideways roll as it continued on with its direction of momentum it had previously. With their world spinning wildly, the two were completely at the whim of the forces until it decided to stop rolling. The last thing Don could piece together was the quick passing view at an approaching wall that the car would soon slam against harshly.