Intorduction

Introduction.

- last one... Whispered Mike to himself, as if he was cursing. He was sitting behind a large metal box in a huge hangar-like building.

Mike reloaded his gun with the last magazine case.

The fighting for the sector has been going on for more than an hour. All the guardian troops were  eliminated by now.

Generally speaking, the whole country was in ruins. Deidrana escaped the palace just before it was overtaken by enemy forces. At that time Enrico's people controlled the majority of the sectors and all the mines, therefore having an economic advantage and being able to afford to bring in the best mercenaries to finish the job. And 'though there still was some resistance, it was now the matter of days before the was finishes.

Mikes job here was not just well-paid. Payment, which he had received here by now would be sufficient for an average mercenary to lead a luxury life without the need to work for years and years, they could only dream of such amount of money. Even for Mike himself it was fair enough pay for risking his life.

The offer to join Deidrana's army came at the perfect time it was the time, when he was negotiating with AIM yet another raise of his salary. And he was determined he will get what he wants he always does, with very few exceptions.

The story about the new contract with a bit higher salary repeated itself now and then through all the years whilst Mike was working for AIM. But this time chiefs of AIM thought that they should put an end to it and they preferred to do it right then. The situation, as they thought, was nearly critical a lot of mercs envied his salary and the best of them were just about to ask for the same payment. Yes, Mike was the best one, he was the living-legend of AIM. But he was commonly feared by other mercenaries and his egocentric, arrogant and heartless personality was the reason. They hated him.

As for him -  he never really bothered himself to give a damn, although he was very well aware of those attitudes almost since the day he joint AIM. There were even a few open conflicts with some of the mercs. Especially, with Gus, who remained always a number two because of Mike. Out of all people there and possibly out of all people on Earth, he had only one true friend and it was Scully. But even Scully did not know where does Mike live, nor if his name was really Mike. No one, except those two themselves, knew the story of their friendship, but everyone wondered, how could such a friendly, open-minded person like Scully get along with  Mike, who appeared to them dark-souled and coldhearted. Yet some of the other mercenaries esteemed Mike for his genius and professionalism. But those were few like Lynx, Reaper or Scope (although she feared him as death itself, he was nearly her personal phobia and probably the only thing which she was so afraid of).

Half an hour ago a bullet stroke Lynxs chest, while he was trying to enter the building. He stepped aside to hide himself away from the enemys view behind the wall.

Gosh.. Thats him. Lynx wasnt able to say more he tried to understand how is it possible Mike was there, working for Deidrana.

Have you seen a ghost? Asked Reaper, mocking.

Or, considering it's Reaper, maybe he was actually serious, thought Lynx.

Lynx, are you wounded? Raven was confused, but she stayed cool-minded.

Yeah, a ghost would be the right definition. Answered Lynx slowly, still he couldnt believe..
Eh? No, Im not, twas bulletproof west

Lynx, is that you? The voice coming from the building sounded ironical and self-confident.

Lynx shivered, as he has heard it. He has heard it a lot of times before and knew for sure who was the owner of this voice.  Lynx respected Mike. He remembered all the missions he was on with Mike, like the Metavira one.

Once Mike saved few mercenaries (including Lynx). It happened when all people in their squad were seriously injured and couldnt fight anymore. Mike himself was wounded too. He and Lynx were inside a small building with two enemies inside and one outside of it. The one, who was outside shoot Lynx in the head. Only the helmet saved Lynx then from death but he fell down almost loosing his consciousness. Mike has shot that guy just a second before he was injured again by the two enemies who were right in front of him. He was pushed against the wall  by their shots, then he slowly drooped to the floor, bleeding. Lynx saw Mike closing his eyes as if he was fainting. At that moment Lynx thought that thats the end they will all die here And that made him realize how much he still wanted to live despite pain from wounds and despair, but he couldnt move at all, let alone use his weapon. The very next moment he saw Mike was getting up - he sat on the floor, holding his gun ready to shot. In a few seconds Mike emptied the whole magazine into the enemies. He remained sitting watching those soldiers with a pale face and a glance of cold fire in his eyes. Only when Mike was completely sure his enemies are dead, he fell down too, exhausted but knowing that the mission was successfully fulfilled. A helicopter came to take them back, the whole squad has been saved. Lynx knew perfectly well that it made no difference to Mike if he saved them or not, whether they survived or died of critical injuries. Mike has done his job. The job he was paid for.

When Lynx fully recovered after that mission he came to the AIM office building to re-join the organization, ready for a new deal. In the corridor which leads to the main office door, he met Mike, who was there, probably, to discuss his salary as usual. That guy looked like he hadnt received any injuries just few weeks ago as though he was working on his Mystical Mercenary image. Anyway that was impressive. At that moment Lynx thought about what had happened on the last mission, remembered his own despair and delirious desire to live, while Mike remained a prof And he felt that he has to thank Mike. So Lynx went strictly to him, feeling doing the right thing.

I just wanted to say thank you' you saved my life there
Said Lynx, giving his hand to Mike, who seemed to be rather surprised by this words and actions. He shook Lynx hand automatically and didnt answer at all just went off. It looked either as an open offense or at least as a deeply insolent behavior.
What a stupid thing it was, damn such ideas! thought Lynx, passing by some other mercenaries gazing at him Next time youd better think before doing something noble.
Suddenly he was stopped by Gus, who stepped forward right in front of Lynx.

What's the matter, Rudy? Are you a member of Mikes fan club now? Said Gus, while some other guys behind his back laughed. 
Somehow this kind of behavior made Lynx respect Mike at least Mike would never behave like a clown like a complete snob and arriviste yes, but never a clown.

If Mike betrayed us, we shall make him away... Said Shadow in his calm low voice. Shadow had worked with Mike only twice, shortly before Mike had left the organization. But even that was enough for Shadow to hate Mike for his snobbism and some other features of his character.

Bad man. Pity we dont have more grenades for this American bustard.
Said Ivan with strong Russian accent.

How do you know he is American? Or by your logic the only place the bustards come from are United States? Asked Reaper with sarcasm in his voice.

One, two, three, four, five How much of you are there for me? Said Mike from the inside of the building again in his steady loud voice, which sounded always either as a command or as a threat.

What the hell is going on here? Asked Scully trying to catch his breath he ran all over across the sector to join the others, as he and Gas killed the last sector guardian.

Six. Stated Mike aloud and by his voice no one could grasp what he is thinking about. But the next moment he quietly cursed: Shit. No chances.

Shadow looked at Scully very attentively.
Mike's in there.. Answered he.

Mike?.. Repeated Scully after Shadow.  He knew perfectly what that meant. There were six of them at the moment against Mike, and even being the best one, the Legend and so on, he had no chances. Scully decided he has to try to talk to Mike, however useless it was. He knew, Mike would never drop a signed contract, but in despair everything is worth trying.

Why are you doing it? Do they pay you gold?Asked he loudly, trying to talk in his usual manner.

Scully? Life is strange, isnt it? Why do you ask? I am not going to justify myself. It's never been about glory for me. It's about money. It was obvious that Mike is determined on doing his job till the end. As always.
By the way, Ill give you all another chance to escape.

Im afraid you are 'just a little bit' too self-confident. That was your fatal mistake to join the dictators army. Now you will pay for it. Answered this time Shadow, who tried to enter the building.

The fire-fight went on Mike shot Shadow twice: the first time the west saved him from injury, the  second time he was wounded in the hand and came back outside by the order. At that time Gus came there  - for him a chance to kill Mike legally and with a help of six soldiers was  a dream come true. So Gus took over the operation. He left Ivan, Lynx and Shadow to watch over the entrance and sent Raven, Reaper and Scully inside. He himself preferred to stay outside until Mike would be wounded to finish him personally. But this plan didnt work out Raven was killed after just a few minutes. That wasnt an improvement factor for the mercs, but it really made them angrier. During the fight Gus noticed that Scully havent even tried to hit the target, while Mike had already shot him in the shoulder.

Scully, what the hell are you doing?! Come back here! Ordered Gus and carried on talking as Scully got out of the building.
What have you done, uh?! Raven was killed and it is also your fault

I cant Said Scully quietlly. He is a friend of mine. I cant kill him.
He looked Gus straight in the eyes.

Yet he shot you just a couple of minutes ago! Your friendship didn't bother him too much, did it? Answered Gus angrily.
He always thought Scully is a fine guy, therefore he preferred to pretend that there was no friendship between Mike and Scully But now, facing the fact, he put Scully on the list of his enemies.

Leave him alone, Gus.
Interfered Lynx, who was outside too as a sniper.
He is doing  his job well. Watching your friend being killed is bad enough, dont make him participate in it. Well get by without him.

Gus kept silence for a moment. He was angry but still didnt want to start an open conflict.

Ok, Shadow, come back! Said he on the radio.

Lets do it this way. We may try to overrun positions inside with Lynx as the canopy. He wont have a chance, if all of us could take part in shooting that old beef-head. Gus explained his idea further then added. Alright, lets make it fast!

So they tried to attack, but Mikes reaction was faster he opened fire to prevent them entering. It took them fifteen more minutes, but with no result. Though time was working for them.

 Last one Whispered Mike, as it was his death-warrant. He almost ran out of bullets, and his enemies had no intent of changing tactics. He could still manage to hold on for another five minutes, but not more Although he had a pistol with three bullets left as well it wont help him.