Chapter 4.1

Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter James was drafted and sent off to boot camp. He ended up training to join a special ops team. He was put in command of the team along with best friends Isaiah Mathiasen and Terena Sarrasri and alongside a rival Ethan Ferrell. And now on with the story.

Isaiah frowned slightly after James finished the assignments for the night. They were currently on a mission to gather intelligence. Again. But their team was better at the whole sneaking in thing. At the start James would pair himself with Isaiah for overnight watches and put Terena with Ethan. But that changed after about a month. He started pairing himself with Terena. And pairing Isaiah with Ethan. At first he figured Terena had complained about being the only one who had to put up with the guy’s relentless digs at James. But soon Isaiah smelt it. The pheromones the two put off were noticeable to his werewolf nose. James had fallen for Terena, and Terena reciprocated the feelings.

Looking back, Isaiah didn’t see anything that let him believe the two knew of their own feelings let alone the others’. So Isaiah kept his mouth shut. If he mentioned it, they would notice. And that could shake their performance.

This time James paired himself with Ethan. The two were more prone to petty bickering during off times. It had gotten them ordered to General Rand’s office on numerous occasions. But the two managed to somehow convince those in command that it wasn’t affecting the battlefield. But that’s because James never paired himself with Ethan. But Isaiah understood the reasons for the pairing. He just hoped the two would be able to work together to carry out the mission.

~~~~~

“Permission to speak freely, Sir,” Ethan asked James.

James said, “You always have that, Ethan. We’re in too deep too often to not be able to speak freely to each other, regardless of our ranks.”

“Right. What the fuck are you thinking? We barely get along and this is a critical mission.”

“Our scores are the highest on pretending to be who we’re not if we exclude Isaiah. There’s no way we’re sneaking in undetected so we’re going to have to pretend to be SUA. Which means I can’t take Isaiah with me and you scored higher than the others on acting.”

“Fair enough. I didn’t know you had access to the scores on the tests.”

“I asked General Rand if I could have them,” James said smiling, “Before you go all family connections on me, I can’t very well plan missions out if I don’t know the strengths and weaknesses of my men. And we don’t have the time for me to learn them as we go.”

And soon the mission had started. Things were going great. The two split up to make things go faster. And it was safer. If one got caught it would give the other a better chance. James took the second floor and Ethan had the first floor. They were looking for any and all intelligence to figure out what the future plans were. And the Sim Nation mole in the SUA had said that this base had the written plans.

James quickly found the head guy’s office and it was luckily empty. He slipped in and read any documents that were easily accessible without touching them and used a flash drive with large space and a copy program on it to copy all of the files on the computer. He slipped out of the room and began his way out.

“Good thing the guy didn’t make it to the second floor. That’s where Turik’s office is. Our plans are located on his computer. It would have been a shame if they were compromised,” a guard said.

James swore. Ethan must have been caught. The orders were if one got captured to not bother trying to rescue. It was easier to replace one person than it was to replace two people. And any commander caught breaking that rule would face a court martial after the war. But James couldn’t bring himself to follow that order, even if it meant a dishonorable discharge. Which would ruin James’ plans at staying in the military after the war.

James followed the pair and eventually found himself in a room with a bunch of others. He spotted Ethan up front, laying unconscious on the ground. But he looked relatively unharmed from what he could see from his position.

How was he going to save Ethan without blowing his own cover? As he listened to Turik talk, he began to formulate a plan.

James waited until Turik had told the crowd that Ethan was to be shot in the morning before stepping out.

“Sir, I apologize for the interruption but I have a better idea,” James said.

“Oh? And this idea is?” Turik asked, obviously intrigued.

“We let him go without a scratch.”

“WHAT?!” Turik yelled.

James held up his hand, “Ah, but we always kill our prisoners. The spy’s higher ups might not trust him anymore if he gets freed.”

Turik just stood there for a second before nodding, “That’s a good idea. Even though the kid isn’t likely to turn it doesn’t mean we can’t make his superiors think he did. Good idea. We’ll keep him here a few days to solidify the ploy and then release him. Everyone is dismissed.”

~~~~~

James quickly made his way out of the hide out. He didn’t make it too far past the safe distance before collapsing down. He had saved Ethan’s life, but at what cost for them? Would Ethan even thank him for it or would it just cause more problems for the pair?

James waited at the location the pair had agreed to meet at before things went south. He stayed there for a few days and hoped the rest of the team didn’t assume the worse and send for new orders. But he knew Isaiah and Terena. They wouldn’t just abandon him to the SUA.

~~~~~

Ethan Ferrell was thoroughly confused when the SUA just let him go without harming him. It wasn’t their style. What really bothered Ethan, however, was something Turik had said. That his higher ups were going to think that he had been turned. If he found the person responsible for that decision he was going to hurt them. Being in the military was Ethan’s dream job. This turn of events jeopardized his dream.

Ethan didn’t know why he was headed where he was. It was the meeting place he and Zenteri had agreed upon. It was not in the direction of the camp. But he soon spotted Zenteri waiting there patiently. Which further confused Ethan. Why was Zenteri waiting for him? He knew the rules. Get captured and get left behind.

“Zenteri,” Ethan said as a way of greeting. However, before either of them could say anything else, Ethan spotted Sergeant Kinsey approach and snapped to attention.

“Corporal James Zenteri and Specialist Ethan Ferrell, you both are under arrest for violation of your orders. No talking and follow me,” SGT Kinsey said.

Ethan followed SGT Kinsey quietly and exchanged a quizzical glance with Zenteri. Ethan could have sworn Zenteri’s glance was tinged with a bit of sadness and regret.

~~~~~

“What have you told the SUA?” SGT Kinsey repeated, “Do not make me ask again, Specialist Ferrell.”

“I haven’t told them anything, Sir,” Ethan repeated again.

SGT Kinsey opened his mouth to say something when the door flew open.

“I apologize sir for the interruption, but I know Specialist Ferrell didn’t turn on us,” Zenteri said, slight out of breath.

“So you’re a mind reader now, Specialist Zenteri? Your uncle being a General isn’t going to save you from your punishment.”

“I’d rather not live with the death of someone on my hands, Sir. I was there when the sentencing for Ethan was given. His initial sentence was death by firing squad. Meaning before then, he did not turn. I convinced them to just let him go unharmed. Unless your training of us special ops forces in resisting torture is so bad that we’ll turn in under 3 days, there is no way Specialist Ethan Ferrell is a spy.”

“So you are admitting that you not only just didn’t move on to your next assignment when Ferrell got kidnapped, but you went and orchestrated a rescue operation?”

“Yes, Sir. And I would do it again in a heart beat with no regrets. Me being punished at the end of the war is better than Ethan being dead.”

Ethan blinked. Zenteri had talked about going into Officer School after the war and making the military his career. And now Zenteri was jeopardizing that future to save Ethan’s career and he did it without any apparent regrets. Had Ethan pegged James Zenteri entirely wrong? Ethan than began to think. How could they turn this situation into one that would benefit them?

“Sir, I have an idea,” Ethan said, “One that will turn this situation into a positive for us, but a negative for them.”

“Oh?” SGT Kinsey said.

“Let it go on the official record that I’m a possible spy. No proof so you can’t drum me out. That would put my position on a special ops team in a very precarious spot. Let’s exploit that. Have a rumor start that Special Ops 2 is starting to get the more riskier jobs due to me,” Ethan explained, “Then I’ll go to General Turik of the SUA and say I want to be a spy for them. Since if I’m going to be treated like one, I might as well become one. Then I feed them false information and try to get what information I can out of them.”

SGT Kinsey appeared to be deep in thought. He nodded and said, “You understand that that is a risky position you’re putting yourself in and you likely won’t survive if you’re caught. You got lucky this time. And with this turn of events, I don’t think either of you will get punished.”

“Our team, Sir, are they here on base or still out at our camp site?” Ethan asked.

“They’re on their next mission,” SGT Kinsey said, “They’re scheduled to be back here no earlier than tomorrow at 13:00. You are free to do as you please until then. Including leave base.”

“Alright,” Ethan said.

The pair was dismissed at that point and they stepped outside of SGT Kinsey’s office. “Why? Why did you risk your career for me? When I’ve done nothing but be a thorn in your side since we met?” Ethan asked.

“Because it was the right thing to do,” James said, “Thank you for voicing your idea with how to handle this situation. Turning their ploy into our ploy.”

Ethan kicked the ground slightly before saying, “Thank you as well for saving my life. I’m headed off base to go to a bar to get a drink or two or three. Want to join me?”

James nodded and said, “Yea, you shouldn’t drink alone. Not after what you just went through.”

And with that the pair went off to a local bar. It was the beginning of a friendship that would quickly turn the pair into best friends.

And that is it for this chapter! Will the ploy suggested by Ethan work or has he signed his own death warrant? Will Sim Nation finally beat the SUA? Find out in chapters to come!

Progress towards Obi’s Goals:

  • Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
  • Complete 30 cases – Completed about 21 cases
  • Snoop 10 locations – Snooped 5 locations
  • Write 5 papers on findings – Wrote 1 paper
  • Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
  • Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 4 of each

Progress towards Leia’s Goals:

  • Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 9
  • Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
  • Paint 20 paintings – Painted 16 paintings
  • Be friends with parents – Completed Chapter 3.7 behind the scenes.
  • Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13 at $6,828
  • Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive) – Painted Max’s, behind the scenes Chapter 3.14, painted Hermione’s behind the scenes Chapter 3.15
  • Join book club (if applicable) – Joined book club Chapter 3.10 behind the scenes

Progress towards Max’s goals:

  • Join Film career (Plumbob Pictures Backlot, may need to place it) – Achieved behind the scenes Chapter 3.1
  • Max writing – Level 3
  • Max charisma – Level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
  • Become level 5 celebrity – 5 stars – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13
  • Have kid – Achieved Chapter 3.10 with the birth of Hermione
  • Reach Level 10 of the Actor branch – Level 10 – Superstar Actor – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes

Progress towards James’ goals:

  • Join Military Career – Completed Chapter 4.0
  • Level Ten Military Career
  • Max Athletic skill – He’s at level 3
  • Max Hardiness skill
  • Buy out a business
  • Adopt

Progress toward’s LTW’s

  • Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 8, Athletic is at 10
  • Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – currently earning $4000+ a week – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
  • Maximus – Superstar Actor – Superstar Actor – Level 10 – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
  • James – Become Astronaut

~~~~~

Author’s Note:

Sorry about the unannounced hiatus. Kept trying to come back to this but got caught up on the pictures. When i wasn’t attempting to get myself to get the pictures I was on a binge watch through of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Star Trek: The Next Generation. Or playing Guild Wars 2 or Sims 4. So I have decided that the next few chapters will mostly be without pictures.

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