It was a simple mission, really. Gabrielle would remember that later, afterward, when the shock wore off. It was meant to be a straightforward mission, the most uncomplicated thing in the world. A radical group had been located, or rather, a small branch of it, and it fell to Gabrielle's team to gather information, take down hostiles if necessary and apprehend the radicals if they could. There was nothing about captives, about people who needed rescuing. Nothing about how vast the complex would be. Nothing about the bomb... Sergeant Gabrielle Ó Maoil Eoin couldn't have known anything that was to befall her or the twelve men and women under her command that day. It was hard to say whether they would have refused the mission if they had known the risks anyway. Hardened soldiers the lot of them, no stranger to risk or death, they were all top of their fields and Gabrielle knew pride in every single one, counting them as friends, family even over the title of comrade in arms. She knew every name, every story, and her people trusted her, respected her in turn. They would have followed her into hell if she'd asked it of them. The woman couldn't have predicted how true that sentiment would become. How horrifying. It had started just as predicted; they'd been whisked into the country under radar, all the political backlash and scheming of it left to the higher-ups and not something for them to worry about. They were here to do their job, nothing more. Such had started with a briefing, just as every mission did. The radicals were stationed at an abandoned hospital and had only been undetected for so long due to the fact that nearly the entire structure was underground - an old relic from one of the World Wars. Gabrielle had zoned out as to which one it was, more focused on the important aspects of the mission itself, not the history of the building they were about to descend into. Not much could be told by those assigned to gather information for them to work off of. No one knew much. They'd been told to expect hostiles, though, to be prepared for gunfire, for resistance. What they'd gotten was the complete opposite. Getting in had been easy. Far too easy if Gabrielle had anything to say about it...and she did. As Sergeant, if she'd felt that the mission was compromised, that it stank too heavily of a trap, she could give the order for retreat. The three Captains of the three squads might have protest, but such could be discussed after they were safely away, and over time and missions, all twelve soldiers had learned to trust her and she them. There would have been no argument against her orders - if she'd given them. She would forever wish that she had, but she'd remained silent. As silent as the soldiers were as they filed into the old, eerily silent building after Levi Thompson and Hanna Waters, their techs, had disabled the security system on the entrance they were to use. Taking out the three guards in the large lobby after that had been done by the throwing knives of two of the more skilled soldiers - Timothy Williams and Jessica Tanner - with minimal sound. Still, Gabrielle's aqua green eyes had searched for cameras even as her soldiers searched for trip-wires, alarm systems. There had to be something, though, a nagging suspicion told the woman that this place would be nothing like expected. The sparse furniture of waiting chairs and scratched up, graffiti-covered tables were not what she'd envisioned, certainly. Nor the elevator that seemed to be in working condition if the lights were anything to go by. They would take the stairs. An elevator was a death-trap in enemy territory and when the intercom in her ear buzzed, Thompson's voice announcing the discovering of a hidden camera, the Sergeant's decision only supported itself. It took around five tense, nervous minutes for Thompson to work with the camera, sending it on a loop that would show nothing but an empty lobby - suspicious as there had been three guards in it before, but not as hair-raising as a whole lobby full of US soldiers - but no one rushed him. If this was to be done, they'd get it done right. There was no other way for people of their skill. They'd never failed a mission and that such had remained true under Gabrielle's leadership brought nothing but pride to the young woman. She'd come to her position not through money or family influence, but because she'd worked her ass off and to see that rewarded was satisfying. To know her success kept her men and women alive was a far greater reason to keep driving herself to be better and Gabrielle didn't fail in that task either. It was for those kinds of reasons that she had kept her position as long as she had and it had given her experience she put to good use. Like using the stairs. There were no cameras to disable in the stairwell, but even so, her squads stayed alert, guns at the ready and in formation as they descended into the belly of the beast. There was no telling what they could expect or how much resistance they might encounter and they all felt being overly cautious would be better than assuming everything would be this easy from now on out. Still, being prepared seemed almost overkill in the wake of the empty hallways and silence that greeted them upon exiting the stairwell. Thompson's keen eyes soon spotted the camera that would give them away and while he worked on the device with Hanna at his side, Gabrielle scanned her surroundings. It was nothing but a long hallway, no doors in sight, turns to the left and the right on either end. The walls were white, all of them, blindingly so and when Morgan Norvac, a woman two years younger than herself and frankly the 'little sister' of the group spoke in a hushed tone about her irrational temptation to find a bucket of paint and just start tossing it at the walls, a shadow of a smile touched Gabrielle's face. "I might just join you." was the muttered reply and Caleb Vincent, a man at least ten years older than Gabrielle herself, gave them both a look. He was a Captain, along with Noah Samuels and Marco Deeley, and the second-oldest in the group after Daniel Collins, a veteran of more skirmishes and wars than the entire thirteen combined. It was to her three captains that the Sergeant looked now, however. The hallway itself represented a problem that only splitting up the squads could solve and they all knew it - as well as the risks that came with it. "Keep your radios on." That they should keep them turned down and not use them unless something significant happened didn't need to be said....nor did the silent 'be careful' need to be voiced. They all knew. They all heard and wordlessly Gabrielle sent Vincent and his squad - Thompson, Tyler Price and Michelle Yama - to the right while she and the other two squads took the left. It felt like routine then to disable cameras, to check every room with sweeping guns and eyes, to become more and more confused and uneasy the longer they went without seeing any opposition, but they all kept their nerve, did their jobs....even as their numbers started to grow thinner. Gabrielle had long since sent Deeley and his squad - Collins, Norvac and Waters - on a different path of hallways and she could only imagine that sooner rather than later he would have to make the call to separate the squad in half from there. She had already done such with Samuel's squad; Robert Allens, Brandon Carter and Jessica Tanner, and now found herself alone. The others had not liked it, but with thirteen, someone was going to end up alone and as Sergeant, she refused to let it be those under her command. Gabrielle wasn't foolish enough to believe they'd stay in pairs, though. Not in a place this vast. It could have been hours or maybe just mere minutes later, after what felt like endless white hallways with only numbers on the walls to show her she wasn't going in circles, that her ears picked up noise. She felt shivers race down her spine when she identified exactly what the pitch meant; the noise was a scream. Her entire body tensed, a surge of adrenaline released as she waited for her radio to come to life, for the sound of gunfire, for anything to signal that the sound had come from her people....but there was nothing. Not even another scream and aqua-green eyes narrowed even as the woman got her body moving again, gun held securely in her hands as her combat boots took her stealthily down the white-washed halls that in truth provided no kind of hiding place. She stood out like a fly in milk with green, army-issued cargo pants, a black tank-top and a green jacket over that. The weapons on her belt, from grenade and knives, to ammunition for the automatic weapon she handled so skillfully showed she wasn't just some innocent lost and passing through, either. Stealth perhaps was not the most logical tactic, but it was the only one that instinctively made sense right now in lieu of knowing nothing about those she was trying to find. And why were there so few people - if any people? Where was everyone? This didn't make sense with the intelligence they'd received - albeit not much of it - and it worried the woman. She found herself nearly lowering her guard, reaching for what she knew would not help her out of confusion alone and just barely caught herself before she could peek over the wall erected in her mind. No. Gabby, you idiot. That's not going to help. Just...breathe. Stay calm. Find whoever screamed. That means there IS life in this place - or there was - and that's what you are here to take back to HQ. Life means information. Find the screamer. A breath left her mouth at the mental pep-talk and the woman continued on, skillfully avoiding the cameras that swiveled her way and hurrying out of the range of others she couldn't avoid. It was only when the devices started to become more numerous that she knew she was going the right direction and Gabrielle almost hesitated when she came across her first person. Almost. They were stunned and slumping to the ground before they'd even had a chance to formulate a shocked expression, much less a word and only when they'd fallen to the floor did the Sergeant study the man more closely, taking in all the details that could tell her what exactly was going on here. Lab coat. Clean skin, trimmed fingernails, intact glasses. Combed hair. The smell of chemicals and harsh soaps. Washed clothing, and gloves peeking haphazardly out of a pocket. A doctor...or a scientist. Maybe both? A frown marred otherwise lovely features, the freckles that swarmed Gabrielle's face only giving more seriousness to her thoughtful eyes. What kind of place was this? What did they do here? Knowing the man before her was going to be giving no answers anytime soon, Gabrielle made to move forward, only to stop as her radio crackled with static. Bringing the thing up to her face, she listened to the message being given by Deeley, able to identify his voice even before he gave his code words. What he reported only added to the mystery...and yet a sickening feeling gathered in Gabrielle, a sensation she knew all too well, but for the life of her tried to deny. Deeley and his squad had found people, but not hostiles. People locked up, hooked up to all kinds of equipment, drugged, some appearing to be starving, others terrified. The words dropped like blocks of ice into her mind, stirring memories like mud from the bottom of a lake and Gabrielle shook her head, pushing them down and away with a stubbornness she was rather known for. No. Not now. Not on a mission that was becoming increasingly more complicated than anticipated. Bringing the radio to her mouth, she issued her orders. Get the civilians out. Their mission had been to retrieve information and take captive hostiles, but missions changed. She wasn't about to leave people here and they could serve as intelligence just as easily as the far less breathing kind they would acquire after seeing this base secured. Even if they didn't, human life was more important and if the radicals wanted these people, then Gabrielle didn't want them to be in their possession. It was with that thought in mind and remembering the scream - now seeing it in a potentially new light - that the Sergeant picked up her pace. It wasn't until she reached the end of a hallway, a dead end but for the four doors situation one at the end of the hall, two to the right and one to the left, that she finally encountered more people. These ones looked shocked to see her, but they also appeared rather annoyed by it, too. It was the latter emotion that took the guilt away as she shot them. The noise attracted two more people from the rooms on the right and Gabrielle took them out without hesitation, as well. They were free, unshackled and wearing white lab coats. They were the enemy, they'd caused the scream, had held the people her squads had spoken of. They had chosen their own fate. It was a rather grim and factual way to look at the situation, at the world, but Gabrielle wasn't exactly...normal. Any normal person would have felt something, anything while stepping over the six prone bodies drenching the white halls and floors in vivid red, but the young woman didn't even glance to them, doing nothing but blowing the dirty-blond hair that had fallen from her braid away from her eyes. Her focus was on the door at the end of the hall - the one no one had come through. Coming to the handle, she worked it open slowly and brought her gun to her shoulder as she swung it open, quickly scanning the room before moving in...and then stopping. A lab. She found herself in a lab. Counters and tables, measuring glasses and equipment, machinery and the smell of chemicals all greeted her eyes and nose, but it was the room with the glass panel that drew her attention. Now Gabrielle would not say she believed in Fate. Nor would she claim to accept that feelings were all that mattered when observing the world around her or making decisions....but even she could not deny that there was something utterly strange, different, captivating about the man within the room. Moving slowly toward the glass, she felt less like a soldier and more of what she truly was, what she kept secret from everyone and Gabrielle knew without a shadow of doubt that he was different, too. Aqua-green eyes met the ones that looked back at her and for just a moment, just a breath, Gabrielle felt a faint smile touch her lips, her hand finding the glass and her body nearly ready to move toward the door that would release the stranger inside. It was not to happen, however, because she'd not taken more than a breath, more than a tensing of muscles before the alarms started to blare. The sickening feeling came back then, a tidal wave that stole the breath from her body and the color drained from Gabrielle's face, her freckles standing out in sharp relief to the pallor of her skin and the glazed look to her eyes as realization came, painful and beyond horrifying, beyond terror. This base was death. The alarms heralded it like church bells signalling the drowning of a ship and its crew, and Gabrielle understood in that moment what most would have tried to deny in their determination to live; there would be no escape.