The Question Mark: Chapter 24

Someone's going to die.

Previously: Solid Snake is back in time on Shadow Moses Island, but tells no-one that he remembers the future. Otacon and Solid Snake, separated from Meryl, have moved through the complex right through to Metal Gear REX, until Otacon just revealed himself as being ‘not Otacon’. Snake is now held at gunpoint, forced through REX’s hanger towards those who have tried to kill him.

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Disclaimer: This story contains violent scenes that some younger readers may find disturbing. Many chapters contain detailed scenes of gore and peril. If you haven’t played the Metal Gear series, there will be spoilers in this story.

Smoke and Mirrors

REX stood towering the entrance to the cold, dark underground warehouse. Snake looked up as the haunting mechanical monster stood lifeless in the shadows above him, staring blankly at the wall. This was it. Fate had brought him around in a true circle.

Metal Gear was huge. Despite the expected claustrophobia from below-ground tunnels, this room stretched into the distant darkness, with no horizon or knowledge of its boundaries, yet the air sat dense on Snake’s shoulders. Otacon’s breath was visible in front of Snake’s face as the man took back his pistol and pushed it into his back, encouraging him further into the room.

More metal walkways in a scaffold formation lined the bipedal tank on multiple floors, and Snake was ushered up the ladders, reaching closer to the top floor. Each floor he would look over the handrail, watching the darkness swallow up the previous floor as he waited for Otacon’s body to catch up. The control room was visible from every point on the raised walkway, and the eerie stare of Liquid and Ocelot watched him through the bulletproof glass of the room, overlooking the entire mechanical structure and the walkways surrounding it.

The last time Snake had been here, they had been in the same place, and Snake had needed to return to both the blast furnace and Raven’s chamber in order to mould the card key to deactivate REX. It had all been a trick. The terrorists hadn’t known the fact that it was heat and freezing that changed the shape of the key alloy, and used Snake to activate the machine when he thought he was deactivating it. Not this time. Snake still had the key. He wasn’t returning to change its temperature. The lifeless tank in the warehouse would remain lifeless.

Snake knew the outcome. He had stopped everything from going wrong.
But there was still one problem.

Otacon and Meryl.

He thought it was his reason for returning – to save them both. He hadn’t even been given a chance in the torture chamber to save either. Otacon now stood behind him, but it wasn’t Otacon.

“Let him in.”

Liquid’s voice echoed through the warehouse speaker system.

The door clicked as it unlocked, allowing Snake to enter the control room. Liquid and Ocelot stared at him as he walked in, followed by the image of Otacon.

The first few seconds of meeting was uneasy. Ocelot stood in one corner of the small room with half an arm, and Liquid leaned heavily on a walking stick. They both caught sight of Snake’s left hand, now robotic and much more powerful in a fist fight. Snake’s position of weakness was somewhat ironic in the given situation.

“Lock the door.” Liquid spoke to the man behind Solid.

Ocelot looked up, allowing Liquid to continue. He had once admired the man, and it seemed history had remained true.

“Despite what you think you may have done, brother, the…”

“Where’s Meryl?” Snake interrupted.

Liquid sighed.

“You’re not seeing the bigger picture.”

Ocelot looked on with a hint of disgust under his moustache.

“The man standing behind you is Decoy Octopus.”

Snake remained silent. His brother’s revelations weren’t impressing him half as much as it impressed Liquid.

“I have the key to Metal Gear. If you don’t want me to destroy it, you will give me a direct line through to my standby crew.” Snake stated.

“Soon, brother. Soon. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Ocelot stepped forwards. His gruff voice spoke wisdom over those of Snake’s brother.

“You might be wondering why you’re here.” There was a strong emphasis on the word ‘why’.

Snake looked confused.

“What do you mean?”

Ocelot outstretched his arm and turned a little on the spot.

“Here.”

Every man looked at each other silently. No-one wanted to reveal what they knew in case the other didn’t know themselves. Ocelot broke the silence.

“Now. The date. The year.”

Snake stared the man in the eye. David was scared.

“Oh yes, I remember.” Ocelot spoke slowly.
“I remember you … slamming… your fist into my cheek.”

David didn’t speak. He couldn’t. He physically couldn’t bring himself to interrupt.

“Don’t pull that shocked face, you piece of bait.” Ocelot was angry, and walked forwards to join Liquid. His words increased in pace and sarcasm.
“I mean, let’s not forget how the legendary Solid Snake beat the lonely, pathetic Ocelot. Let’s be open shall we? You woke up on this island. You shot yourself next to the real legend. Big Boss. You died, Snake. You can’t escape a bullet through the back of the mouth. That would be a true miracle.”

“Or advanced technology.”

A different voice spoke from behind Snake. It wasn’t Octopus. It was deep, slow, taunting. Snake slowly turned around. Long black hair fell in front of the man’s face. He wore little clothing, but loose trousers, held up by straps over his shoulders. His bare feet were white against the cold steel floor, and he stared David in the face as he parted his hair to reveal his ghostly pale face.

Vamp.

Snake spoke with a tremble in his voice.

“Start making sense, or I will break this key in half.”

Liquid looked to Ocelot before he spoke.

“Now, Snake, you’re going to have to listen to me, and listen to me very carefully.” Liquid began.

“This isn’t the place to start making threats or demands. We are not here to kill you. Before you decide on any heroics, you need to remember the situation you are in. If your two friends on this island mean little to you, then you may find it useful information that your crew in the submarine are currently being held hostage.”

The mysterious codec calls. The panicking Mei Ling. The death of Nastasha. The Colonel… From the very beginning, there had been someone on the submarine able to watch David’s every move, relay it back to these… people. Terrorists.

“What I will say at this point is that failure to co-operate with us will lead to a few incidents.”

The room felt colder than ever. There were at least fifty crew members on that vessel. Every single one of them would be currently sitting on the ground with their hands behind their heads, praying to the Gods that it wouldn’t be their day to die. Their fate rested in the hands of Solid Snake. He felt uncontrollably sick.

“So shall we get started?” Liquid announced, energetically.

Vamp moved to the controls and picked up a telephone. The wire stretched as he brought it across his scarred cheek.

“Mantis, get here please.”

Mantis was already behind Vamp before the phone was replaced in its holder.
Pshyco Mantis. No.

“But you killed yourself…” Snake’s thoughts fell out of his mouth.

“No I didn’t. I asked you three to leave.”

Mantis hovered slightly above the ground. The tips of his shoes slid slowly across the metal ground as he moved silently over to Snake.

“You didn’t listen, did you? You didn’t listen to what I told you.”

“Let’s calm it down, Mantis.” Decoy Octopus reassured Mantis from the other side of Snake. Octopus was the only person Mantis could relate to. They trusted each other, and Mantis’ heels touched down.

Snake was still in a state of shock. None of this should be happening.

“So when I shot the DARPA Chief…”

“That was the actual DARPA Chief, yes.” Ocelot confirmed.

Liquid smiled.

“By the way Snake” Liquid started.
“You can fight for that woman all you like, but from what I hear, you’ll never get her… If you know what I mean.”

David’s lips tightened in anger and his eyes turned to slits. His heavy breathing was heard by every man standing in the room. The tension between peace and fury was balancing on a very thin line.

“Vamp, what’s the information on Arsenal Gear?”

There was a slight pause before Vamp answered.

“RAY is outside. Once we bring REX to Arsenal, the second phase can begin.”

“What is this all about?!” Snake shouted.

“Would you shut the hell up!” his brother shouted in his face.

“Very well.” Ocelot answered Vamp.

“Answer me!” Snake’s throat seized up.

There was an uneasy pause, as four men stared at a humiliated Solid Snake.

“Liquid, patch me through to Naomi.” Ocelot walked towards the controls and picked up the phone.

Tears glistened in David’s eyes as the white-haired man spoke clearly down the line to his comrade. David’s friend.

“Naomi, is everyone there?”

“Yes.” Naomi’s voice filtered into the control room. Decoy and Snake looked upwards as the words sank through the increasingly warm air.

“The Colonel?”

“He’s here. What do you want me to do?”

The tears had left David’s eyes, and began falling slowly down his face. Naomi was the traitor. Ocelot looked at Snake. He could see the fear build in Snake’s face, and looked back to the glass to deliver a cold order.

“Shoot the Colonel.”

“Nooo!” David screamed. He ran out to kick Ocelot away, but Octopus grabbed his arm tightly, causing his body to fling backwards and trip onto the hard metal floor.

A gunshot through the static, and a long, lifeless silence.

“That’ll be all for now”. Ocelot calmly replaced the phone.

Snake lay on the ground, crying.

“This is all real, Snake. Don’t for one second think you have the authority to ask any one of us a question for your own personal gain.”

“Fate will bring him back” Mantis whispered to Ocelot.

“There is no fate here.” Ocelot announced to the entire group.
“Every single person in this room is living proof of that.

“Vamp, tie Snake up will you? Let’s not have another outburst.” Liquid asked.

Snake’s limbs were forcefully wrapped around a desk chair, bound with multiple knots. Vamp had already seen him break handcuffs, and now wasn’t the time to see it again. A small thimble of liquid was held in front of his face. Snake squirmed, and Vamp grabbed his nose, pushing in Snake’s cheeks in with his other hand. The poison dribbled into his mouth, and flowed over his tongue towards his stomach. His brother walked over and slammed his fist into his face before he fell unconscious.

“Get the woman and the scientist” a distant voice ordered.

“They’re next.”

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