Chapter 3: Matthias
It's been five days since the members of Projekt Oktober first met up, less than a week. I find this strange, It feels like it has been longer than that, though retrospectively, we haven't done all that much in this short time, aside from the stunt in Las Vegas. Midas wants me to have a report compiled on each of the members of Oktober and sent to him by the time we have covered half of the trip, and as that checkpoint is approaching quickly, I believe it's time for me to start organizing my thoughts.
We'll start with Nick. Potential benefits of his continued participation in Projekt Oktober: he can act as a negotiator and mediator. His skill with language is such that he can easily persuade people to preform any task he wishes. I would classify him as a Type-II on the Jacques Rousseau-Lambert Scale. Potential dangers: Nick's ability is subtle, and therefore difficult to resist. Additionally, he has a highly introverted personality, meaning it is hard to read him accurately. I would recommend his continued involvement.
Smith. Potential benefits: a variety of disguise techniques, amiable recruitment officer. Type-I on the Jacques Rousseau-Lambert Scale. Potential dangers: none. Jones is a nice guy, but that is not what we're looking for with Projekt Oktober. His skill with disguises is remarkable, and effective on a small scale, but with an operation like Oktober, it is relatively useless as most of our field agents will already be trained in basic disguises and other methods of avoiding detection.
Natasha. She's partially responsible for Oktober, along with Midas and myself, so there is no doubt she will be included in the project. However, I still find it beneficial to profile her like this. The benefits of her involvement are clear, she's a natural leader, she is the perfect field agents, she's incredibly intelligent, and a master of weaponry, technology, mathematics, and languages. I'm unable to place her on the Jacques Rousseau-Lambert Scale. Currently, I'm torn between Type-I and Type-II, though she could potentially be a Type-III, maybe even Type-IV. Dangers? She's unpredictable, cold, calculating, and holds her priorities above all else. Additionally, I worry about her mental stability. She shows signs of sociopathy, in addition to psychosis.
Today was extremely eventful. We had stayed the night in Farmington, NM, both Smith and Nick were upset with the conditions of the motel, and made it their job to explain to me thoroughly how dissatisfied they were. We spent the majority of the day driving, stopping for lunch in Santa Fe. Midway through the meal, I received a call from Midas, who informed me that there was a job he wanted Natasha and I to take care of locally. He very clearly expressed the urgency of the situation, so, despite the breach of etiquette, Natasha and I were forced to excuse ourselves from the rest of the meal, and apologetically departed the restaurant.
"So, what has our wonderful employer planned for us this time?" asked Natasha as exited the building.
"Train job, like in Haiti. Except we've got to be subtle about it, and extremely careful about the cargo."
"If we're leaving Katie with Nick and Smith, may I ask how we're to reach our target?" as the words left her mouth, a black limousine pulled up in front of us, "Ah. I see."
"We're going to meet up with the other two this evening," I said as we got into the limo. The interior was extremely lavish, black leather, well-aged wine, and a small arms cabinet at one end. "They will drive to the train station three towns over in Glorieta, as you heard me telling them. Now, there is one major complication in the plan."
"And what is that?" Natasha asked. I signaled to the driver, who hadn't spoken a word, and he shot the limousine out of the parking lot with an air of urgent haste.
"We have absolutely no means of transporting the cargo off the train without being detected."
"I can see how this would be an issue. I'd chastise you and Midas for not having the foresight that could have prevent this issue, but frankly I didn't get much sleep last night."
"The specific cargo we need is contained within a single shipment crate, about two feet long by two feet wide. Small enough that it should be easy to move, but large enough that we aren't going to be able to smuggle it out in plain sight. Additionally, Midas suspects there to be heavy security, probably armed with lethal weapons."
"As opposed to what? Non-lethal weapons?"
"Your attitude is not conducive to the teamwork environment we're trying to create here, Natasha."
"Fine, sorry. Continue."
"Currently, the plan, once we have the cargo, is to make our way to the back of the train and detach the caboose. By the time anyone realizes what happens, we'll be gone."
"Or, more accurately, they will."
"Alright then," Natasha grabbed a silenced pistol from the arms cabinet, "Let's do this."
"We've actually got another couple minutes until we get to the train station, so you can put that away."
"It helps me cope with my low self-confidence, Matthias, let me be."
Things were pretty quite for about the first three hours of the trip. We purchased our tickets and boarded without trouble. It was a sleeper train, meaning that there were a variety of more spacious snack and dining cars, so Natasha and I took a table in one of those and spent most of the ride there. Natasha had brought along a book (The Republic), and I had a variety of reports that I had to begin working on, like the on above, so we kept ourselves occupied. About an hour into the trip, I identified the car that was carrying our cargo, it was the second to last, which made things convenient. Unfortunately, passengers were denied access to the car, which made things a bit difficult.
"We could cut through to the roof," Natasha said after I had told her of our predicament.
"How would we... with what?"
"A cutting torch. I brought one with me."
"You brought one with you...?"
"It was in the arms cabinet in the limo. I believe it's Scylla's, he always did have strange weapon choice."
"I'd imagine that the walls are too think to be cut with a cutting torch."
"Normally you'd be right, but this train is poorly constructed. The walls and roof are extremely thin."
"Where do you propose we cut through?"
"We'll cut through the roof of the bathroom. Or, specifically, I will, and you'll follow. From there we'll walk along the roof, cut into the cargo car, find our cargo, and move it to the caboose. We should be done before anyone notices."
"I cannot help but to feel it's not going to be that simple."
"It's probably not going to be, so I recommend we begin now, so that we have time to compensate for any... snags we hit."
"Well then, after you."
"Alright, in about five minutes follow after me," she said as she got up. I waited patiently, draining my coffee, and once five minutes had passed, I stood up and casually strolled towards the restroom. Outside, a rather confused patron was staring at the door and listening intently.
"Hey, I think there is someone in there," he said as I reached for the handle, "I've been hearing this sound coming from it. Sounds like... welding?" I stopped a moment and listened, Natasha certainly was making a racket.
"I don't hear anything," I lied, "You know, auditory hallucinations are a common symptom of schizophrenia. You should see a psychiatrist before you end up in a clock tower." Baffled by this response, the man walked away.
"You should honestly try to be quieter..." I said as I entered the restroom.
"Okay, I'll weld more softly," she snapped.
"Hey, I don't think you're supposed to tamper with those," I pointed to a smoke detector, which had been dismantled. Her response was shooting me an annoyed and sarcastic glance.
"Hold the center of this sheet of metal while I cut the last edge, we don't want it clattering down on us. I did as she said, painfully aware of how close the torrent of sparks was getting to me, but Natasha skillfully avoid raining a shower of sparks down on me and herself. When she finished cutting the edge, I pushed upward and the sheet of metal fell off the side of the train. Wind rushed in from the hole and deafened us. Natasha signaled that she'd go first, and I made a gesture that said 'be my guest'. After she was up, she reached down a hand to help me onto the roof. I stood on the toilet (lid down, obviously), grabbed her hand with one of my own, and grabbed the side of the hole with the others. The hastily cut metal sliced my hand, but otherwise I made it up unscathed. Natasha tore off my sleeve and wrapped it around my hand as a temporary bandage. While she was wrapping the bandage, she said something that I couldn't hear over the wind.
"What?!" I yelled.
"I said be careful not to lose you balance!" she yelled back, "Now come on, it's the second car from the end right?!"
"Yeah!" I shouted, and stood up with her. The cargo car was about seven cars down from us, and with the buffeting wind that was slow progress. As I reached the end of our car, I was about to jump the small gap, but Natasha stopped me.
"Don't jump!" she screamed.
"Watch!" she produced a small piece of paper from her pocket, crumpled it up, and tossed it into the air. The wind instantly whipped it off into the distance, "Just walk across! It's not that far!" The gap between cars was about one and a half feet, so, with extreme caution, I stepped across. This went on for about ten minutes, Natasha and I balancing on top of the train, trying to avoid being swept up like leaves in a storm.
"Oh, well, that figures, I thought things were too easy!" Natasha yelled as we reached the cargo car.
"Look!" she pointed back to the car we had started from. Someone, a guard by the looks of the pistol in his hand, had found our hole and was climbing through it. Natasha raised her own pistol and took aim.
"Now, let's be careful here Natasha, Midas want's this to be a casualty-free mission!" She fired as soon as I finished my sentence. Perfect headshot, the guard was dead before he hit the ground.
"My finger slipped!" she said, here voice dipped in fake remorse, she handed me the cutting torch, "Now you start cutting! I'll hold them off!" I began rapidly cutting a circular hole in the top of the train while she sniped off the guards one by one. They bottlenecked while trying to get on to the roof, which made it easy for her. After three were killed, they changed their tactics and started taking potshots then ducking back down into the hole. One of their shots nearly took my nose off.
"Sorry, sorry! This one is twitchy!" She apologized, and took him down in two shots.
"Alright, I'm through!" I said as the metal circle I had cut clattered to the floor. Natasha fired off a few more shots as I jumped down, then followed in after me. "You guard the entrances while I find the cargo," I ordered, taking my own pistol out of it's holster. There was a large clattering, and the door at the front end of the car buckled and fell to the ground. Natasha took cover behind a pile of crates and opened fire. I managed to duck away from the fire fight, and after a few frantic moments of rummaging around, I found the cargo. It was out in the open, in a wooden crate that was unmarked, save for the numerals "636".
"Not to ruin your little scavenger hunt, but I could use a hand!" Natasha yelled back to me.
"Yeah, yeah! I found it, come on, let's leave!" Natasha dispatched two more guards then bolted to be back of the train. Once we had both crossed into the caboose, I busied myself apply a wire wrapped in adhesive gel to the coupling between the two trains.
"What's that?!" Natasha asked.
"Explosive gel! We should get to the back of the caboose! Here pick up the cargo!" I gestured to the crate, which I had put on the floor of the caboose.
"You had explosive gel this whole time?!"
"Why didn't we use it to get on to the roof?!"
"Oh hey, I guess we could've done that! Get to the back of the caboose!" We bolted away from the front, and a few seconds later, a smallish explosion came from behind us. The coupling blew apart, I slammed the emergency brake, and the rest of the train rocketed off while we screeched to a halt. For a few seconds, Natasha and I were both engulfed in a shell-shocked silence.
"You should call Nick or Jones. Tell them the meeting spot has changed," Natasha said after a while. I nodded, and told her to phone Midas and tell him that his cargo was ready for pick up. Withing fifteen minutes, Nick and Smith pulled up in Katie, and within another thirty, three black Vans pulled up, and an assortment of Midas' lackeys got out. They all wordlessly headed towards the caboose, and began unloading a variety of crates and packages that I had not noticed until then. I noticed a brown-haired girl in a business suit and gray skirt directing the work, and approached her with the cargo I was meant to retrieve in hand.
"Hello, Daphne," I said. She's an old friend of mine, and Midas's daughter.
"Hey Uncle Matt. How are you?"
"Daphne, you're twenty-three now. You know I'm not you're uncle, you can stop calling me that."
"I think you don't like me calling you Matt," she smiled, I cringed a bit, she was right. "What's that you got there? The package my dad asked you to get?"
"Yeah, thought I'd hand it to you in person," I said, "Speaking of which, why are your men unloading that other cargo? This was the one thing Midas asked me to retrieve."
"Scare tactics," Daphne nodded to Jones and Nick, "Daddy doesn't trust those two yet. He wants to make it look like you two just pulled off a major heist, that way they'll be less willing to mess with you. Besides, most of the cargo on that particular train was gold." She flashed me another smile, I knew better than to trust it. Every word she said had been painfully calculated in her mind, everything she uttered had an ulterior motive. She was always plotting, or distorting the truth, just like her father.
"You've got nothing to worry about with those two. Nick suffers chronic depression, as far as I can tell, and Smith is mostly harmless."
"Which reminds me, Dad wants that profile on them by tomorrow. He's particularly interested in Natasha."
"She's..." I glanced at her, she was helping the men unload the cargo into the vans, "She's getting worse, to be honest. I think she's having recurring nightmares, she screams in her sleep. But, the type of things she's experiencing... I've never seen anything like it before. She behaves perfectly... not normal, but she can at least function and interact with other humans. But what she experiences is so much different than what actually happens. I stole her journal, photocopies are going to be included with my report. To be honest I think she's got something new, something no one has seen before. A kind of schizophrenic psychosis... a dash of megalomania thrown in too."
"You should really let Dr. Schmidt-"
"No. He's as bad as his patients. Honestly, I have no idea why your father keeps him around."
"You Daddy's going to make her go to him eventually, what are you going to do then?" her tone was that of playful joking, and a smile cut across her face, but I could see her eyes. They were analyzing every move I made.
"I think you're men have finished packing your vans."
"So they have," she said, turning around, "Alright then, I've got to get going! See you around, Uncle Matt!"
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