[MGS2] [Gen] Three very different men after the end of an era.
The nanoes were almost out of power; he could feel a blind spot pressing at the back of his head where the data of the entire area and everyone in that area and where they could see and hear with the most clarity had been for all those hours. And he was starting to come down from all the stimulants and nootropics, too. Colonel - GW and JFK - had told him his real blood was being kept in cold storage in a warehouse somewhere, but he knew better than to believe that information now. So he was stuck with artificial blood until his body managed to produce some real stuff (that'd be in about two weeks, right?), but until then whenever he cut himself it was yellow until it reacted to the air.
"What do you mean by that?" he asked the other man, carefully. "Don't you want to get out of here as quickly as possible?"
He nodded. "I do. But have you ever tried catching a plane when you're officially dead?"
"I can't say I have," the younger one admitted, laughing uncomfortably.
"Well. Iroquois Pliskin still has one last mission to go on. Getting his real self back home."
"Is anyone hungry?" came the voice of a third man. He had a mop of thick curly brown hair, and his glasses were hanging off his face at a funny angle. The youngest one suddenly realised how weird and blurry everything should look through myopic eyes without any glasses. The world felt sort of blurry around the edges - what with the radar and the stimulants he'd been able to see everything with a wonderful, crisp, clear edge and know what people were doing twenty metres away.
"It's just I found a pizza under the duvet here," the bespectacled man continued, staring hard at the clean-pressed Manhattan hotel room bed. "I'm not sure how it got here. It looks pretty prehistoric. The cleaner must have missed it or something. It might still be edible. I think it's only penicillin on the tomato. Is anyone allergic to penicillin?"
"You...sorted things out with the people you needed to sort things out with?" the oldest one said, calmly. He had the hardest, pale green eyes the other one had ever seen on anything that didn't have scales and fangs and a forked tongue - wait, that was quite appropriate for him, wasn't it? He'd read somewhere that some snakes see in infra-red. After all, there's no such thing as a vegetarian snake. They're all hunters, every different species, and what good is light when you spend most of your time under a rock anyway? You need heat, need to be able to see beating, panicked warm hearts, need to be able to see and feel the terror of something close by, something tasty.
"Yeah," he said, simply. The scales and slitted eyes in his mind slunk away and hid. They'd wake up tonight, definitely.
"How was she?"
"That's a pretty personal question," replied the young man, trying to keep his voice and expression level. Just thinking about her brought back a sudden bloom of overpowering emotion. Not good or bad ones, just...feelings. On the one hand, there was this incredible love - on the other, there was the fact that she was pretty much playing a role-playing game; he could half-hear the click of the ten-sided dice. On the one hand, there was their child - on the other, there was the fact that whatever it was going to look like, it wouldn't look like her. Rhinoplasty abdominoplasty blepharoplasty otoplasty rhytidectomy nothing was natural any more. A designer human. A Barbie doll. That saddened him, because she was beautiful.
"Actually," the third one interjected, still continuing on his own train of thought, "on second thoughts, I've fed you wrong information. Whatever it is that's growing a penicillin culture, it's not a tomato."
"Give it a go," the oldest one suggested. "Can't be a lot worse than military rations."
"Can't be a lot worse than Rose's cooking," the younger one said, with a snort.
"It's really that bad?"
"Yeah," he replied, trying to look stolid and tough, like he could endure anything. "Worst of all, she has this delusion that it's the food of the gods."
"Food of the gods...You know," the one with the glasses said, quietly, "you know Raiden is the name of a Japanese god of thunder, right?"
For some reason, that really bothered him - he felt his stomach tighten, even though it felt rather slack now he was out of that goddamn rubber suit for the first time in hours and in some rather more normal clothes.
"That's not my name any more," he snapped at the one with the glasses, who recoiled a little.
"Your real name's Jack or something, isn't it?" the oldest one said, his voice a serpentine hiss.
"Yes. No. I don't really know. It was the name...the name he gave me."
"Jack," he repeated. "/Jack./ Can't be just a coincidence."
"What can't be?"
"Guess that makes you another Snake, hey, kid?" he said, smiling like a python.
"So..." the youngest one said, thinking hard, "...so, your name's Jack?"
His reply was a thin-lipped smile and a shake of a head.
"Nah," he said, "that's not my name. That's Big Boss's name."
"I'm named after...Big Boss?"
"Seems so, kid."
"So...not a Japanese war plane, then?"
"Of course not."
"So, what's your name? Who're you named after?" the young one challenged. The oldest man laughed.
"My name's David."
"Dave to his friends," the third man cut in, cheerfully.
"Dave," the young one said quietly, still speechless. He was cut off by a serpentine stare.
"I know what you're thinking, kid," he said. "You're thinking 'Dave - that sounds like someone I'd get to fix my plumbing', right? Would you prefer I had a heroic name?"
"I don't know," the young one responded, quietly. "I mean...well, some part of me...but you're not a snake, right?"
"I wouldn't know about that."
"Come on," he said, trying to laugh, "you're not long and legless and scaly and you don't unhinge your jaw and swallow eggs whole or anything - "
"Actually," the one with the glasses cut in, "that's his party trick."
"Oh," the young one said.
For some reason, that didn't fit into his idea of a living legend. What happened to Solid Snake, the legendary hero, that redhead with the cute walk from Shadow Moses in his arms, his expression fearless, his bandanna flying in the wind, his eyes cold and piercing? His mind was currently filled with visions of Dave, unshaven and with a bad haircut, staggering around at a party blind-drunk and choking down a whole egg.
"I think I'm going to get some tap water," he said, and went into the small bathroom. He had to stop himself from leaning around the corner of the door to check for enemy resistance.
He turned on the taps, and collected a small amount to sip at in his hands. Perhaps it was the fact that he was coming down from whatever they'd pumped into him, but the hissing of the tap reminded him of the rushing of the waves between the struts.
They had control over everything, didn't they? Every citizen of this country? They had the technology to do almost anything they wanted and no-one could do anything about it? James Johnson had said something about the Patriots being an organisation that must continue to exist. Like it or not.
Well, the water had to come from somewhere, right? The water he was holding in his hands was probably pumped out of a reservoir into a water treatment plant which was then pumped to the water supply of this hotel. What happened in the treatment plant? It was treated with chlorines and bleaches and cleaned, right? But what if they'd added nanoes? It wasn't entirely impossible. They could have added nanoes so that whenever some poor person gulped a mouthful of fresh tap water Patriotic nanoes infiltrated their bloodstream and -
- well, what would they do? They'd probably relay information to them. Or track them. Or maybe they'd delete memories from their brains, memories that contained a little too much information. Brains were just elaborate computers after all. And a computer is just a simplified brain. And a computer smart as a million humans definitely wasn't out of their resources, he decided
Suddenly he didn't feel very thirsty.
He took a step backwards from the sink as a hand clapped down onto his shoulder. After what had happened, he should have been immune to surprise, but he still jumped out of his skin and the nano-infested (probably) water spilt from his hands and poured all over his shoes as he spun around. Hearing Dave-not-a-legendary-hero laugh, he cursed loudly. It just made the other man laugh harder.
"You're losing it already, kid," he said.
The younger one thought back to his paranoid fantasies about the water, which was seeping quietly and harmlessly (hopefully) into his socks.
"Are you alright, kid?" the not-a-hero asked, a little worried. "You're shaking."
"I'm not shaking!" he snapped, hearing himself speak from miles away.
"I don't like coming down from the drugs either," the not-a-hero said.
"I'm alright!" he screamed, and jolted as the other man grabbed his arm.
The batteries in the nanoes in his bloodstream must have used up their last kick of power, because for a second, the Soliton radar flickered into life, brighter and bolder and bigger than it was supposed to be. It normally sat just behind his vision, a sort of sixth sense, like trying to recall a memory - you could still see what was in front of you, but also what you were remembering. Not that he knew anything about remembering. But now it took up all of his vision and obscured it. His hearing reduced to a deafening white noise, the noise...the noise that the colour green would make if green made a noise.
The sudden BLUENESS of the man's stare burned into his head, making him reel a little. He could see people glancing around themselves in the street below, see every soldier guarding Arsenal, every tourist complaining about how they couldn't see Federal Hall because it was behind the police line, every person sitting in their house watching TV or playing with their pets, and it hurt. He felt himself crouch into a foetal position and felt himself scream, but couldn't see or hear it -
" - some sleep, kid," he heard, as his hearing blinked back and his vision returned to normal and the pain subsided. The suddenness made him reel even more. Violet dots burst across his vision, and he threw up.
He felt his abdominal muscles relax as he finished retching up all the military rations he'd consumed quietly in lockers over the last day.
"Don't...don't worry, S - David," he said, still not able to bring himself to call the man Dave because that was too normal. "It's nothing to do with that pizza."
"Coming down is the worst part," the not-a-legend said. "At least you didn't get any...surprises along with your shots."
"How would I know?" he agonised. "How would I know if they didn't give me some sort of delayed FOX-DIE - "
" - don't think about that, kid," the other man said, his tone cold and professional. "Just take it easy. You need a rest. The combat must have really taken it out of you."
His socks were soaked through now.
"I'm not going to be able to sleep for quite some time," he said, dully.
He was interrupted by the feel of a ring of cold steel jabbing into his temple.
"Nah," the other man said, in a sleek, fanged sort of voice. "This should help."
He heard the quiet, suppressed pop of the gun and the needle jabbing through his flesh and felt a sudden feeling of peace and happiness, like falling onto a bed of warm cotton wool, and his vision faded inwards from the edges, and as he hit the floor he didn't feel a thing.
For the day he remained asleep, he dreamt about snakes with bright green eyes and hexagonal scales.