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CHAPTER FIFTEEN – “AND YET, YOU STILL NEED TWO LADS FROM BELFAST?”
The Commander’s suggestion that perhaps the tanks in all the recent news reports weren’t really tanks, hit Liam like an artillery shell from some distant unseen clicker. Although thankfully Liam’s reaction to it, on this occasion at least, was far more controlled. Part of the reason for that probably being the fact that it had caused more questions in Liam’s mind – and also Sully’s mind, for that matter – than anything else.
“I don’t think I understand what you mean?” Liam told the Commander.
“Ok.” The Commander responded. “I can understand your confusion. And I promise that I do want for you to understand, but before we go on I have to ask if you are both (he stressed the word both) still open to the idea of your helping us?”
Sully and Liam looked at each other, then at Kevin, and then back to the Commander.
“Well, given the fact that we still don’t know very much,” Liam responded, “and given the fact that nothing you have said so far has given us any reason to think you might be some evil maniac out to rule the world,” he looked at the Commander in order to gauge his reactions to his statement, “I think we are both still open to the idea.”
“Aye, and anyway.” Sully added, “you can always wipe our memories.”
In truth the Commander was not sure how to take Sully’s remark. Was it intended as a casual or humorous one? Or in order to remind Liam of what the Commander had told them earlier?
“Good.” The Commander smiled, deciding not to react to Sully’s comment at all. “And no, I have no ambition to rule the world.” He added. “But before I can explain what I meant, I need to explain some other things.”
“Veles, which flagged Mercury players, are logged into the servers at the moment?” The Commander asked.
“We have nine, Commander.” Veles answered almost instantly.
“How many are teamed up into a platoon?” The Commander asked.
“We currently have 2 platoons, Commander.” Veles advised. “One of three, and one of four.”
“List tags for the platoon of four, Veles.” The Commander instructed.
“Tags are as follows Commander,” Veles advised him. “WOT Player4567, SpiritusSun232, BlueScorpian69 and Apeln.”
Simultaneously to Veles listing the Gamer Tags, Liam and Sully quietly listed their names.
“Gabe and Jess” Liam observed.
“Santos.” Sully added.
“Mattias”. Liam completed the list.
“Are they currently in battle?” The Commander asked.
“Yes Commander.” Veles replied. “They are just entering into a tier 8 through 10 standard battle on the Artic Region – Summer map on the Europe Server.”
“On screens, Veles.” The Commander instructed. “Include individual displays, flagged players.”
Turning to Liam and Sully as the holographic screens appeared in front of each of them once more, he asked them to pay special attention to what happens to all of the tanks.
The holographic screens projected before each of them displayed one central picture of the battle surrounded by four individual overlaid images. It didn’t take Liam or Sully to work out that the four overlaid screen consisted of one for each of their clan mates.
One screen being for Jes in his B-C 25t, one for Gabe in his Jagdtiger, one for Santos in his AMX 30 and one for Mattias in his IS-7.
Being able to watch the battle play out and to see not only the main battle but also through the perspectives of Jes, Gabe, Santos and Mattias, was fascinating and Liam couldn’t help thinking what an excellent feature itt would make for team training.
The lads watched carefully as the battle progressed and then finished. “Thankfully, all of the Celts lad represented themselves and the clan well.” Liam couldn’t help thinking. “Especially young Gabe, who finished with some 6 kills to his name.”
“It was a good battle and the lads did us proud.” Liam offered, once the battle had ended and the holographic screen went blank. “But I am not sure what we were meant to be seeing ?” His last words being more of question than a statement.”
“Aye, I’m not sure either.” Sully added. “But more importantly, I’m not sure why you are watching our battles.”
“True.” Liam agreed. “Or listening into our chats. But I really liked the way we could see through each player’s perspective.” He offered.
“I promise that you will understand why we watch your battles and also why we record them.” The Commander told Sully. “And trust me there isn’t anything sinister going on here.”
“So you have recordings of all our battles?” Liam asked.
“Yes.” The Commander told him, whilst clicking open the black leather cover of his wristwatch and checking on the time. “Look lads,” he suddenly announced, “I apologise for this, but I have a couple of things that I need to attend to. Would you mind waiting for a bit and would you like to watch some of your old battles whilst I go and attend to them?”
“Can we watch them with all the different screens?” Liam asked.
“Yes of course.,” the Commander told him. “Veles, display their battle files, crossed referenced please.”
“Certainly Commander.” Came the simple response. And with that a listing of game files in which Liam and Sully had played together – all detailed with the gamer tags of any platoon members – appeared on their screens,
“Just tap the ones you want to see.” The Commander told them as he stood up and walked towards the door.
“Unseal room, Veles.” he instructed. “And then when I return we can go and have some lunch together before I explain some more for you. If that would suit you?”
Liam and Sully both nodded their approval of that idea. But to be honest their attention was too distracted by their trying to choose which battle they wanted to watch.
Before leaving the Commander gave Kevin a knowing smile and as Kevin went to make himself another cup of coffee, Liam and Sully selected and then watched one of their old battles. And then another and another. Before they knew it they, and Kevin, had sat and watched several games. Each of them getting excited at the kills they had made, angry at the artillery hits on them, and laughing at silly mistakes they had made.
So much had their interest and concentration been on the recordings of their old games, that they hadn’t realised the amount of time which had passed before the Commander re-entered the room.
“I hope you enjoyed seeing your old battles.” The Commander told them with a smile. “How about we go and grab some chow?”
Stopping the game file they were watching Sully, Liam and Kevin stood up and followed the Commander out of the ante-room, through his office, down the corridor and to what they could only describe as a kind of ‘sky box’. A room built higher up and attached and overlooking – via a tall glass wall – a very large mess hall.
Following Kevin and the Commander’s lead and taking their seats at one of the tables, Liam and Sully glanced out through the glass wall at all the personnel below. There was a great many of them either sat having their lunches, queued up to get their lunches, or leaving having just had their lunches.
Both Liam and Sully alike were amazed at how many of them there were. And they couldn’t help wondering just how big an organisation – whatever this organisation that Kevin and the Commander were – and which they themselves might become – a part of was.
Additionally they couldn’t help noticing that as well as the numerous personnel dressed in uniforms there were also some civilians and also several small groups of what they could only assume were either scientists or doctors. Each of them dressed in variously coloured lab coats and sat together in different places within the mess hall.
“You have a very big set up here, Commander.” Liam commented.
“Bigger than you could imagine.” The Commander agreed. “What you are seeing here is just the first sitting.”
“And yet, you still need two lads from Belfast?” Liam challenged.
“I promise the before the end of the day you will see why.” The Commander assured him.
“Whether we will remember it tomorrow however,” Sully commented without seeing the need to finish his sentence.