"The Hudson River . . . We had classified intelligence that a new type of Metal Gear was scheduled for transport. The whole thing stank, but our noses have been out in the cold too long . . ."
Solid Snake stood on the middle of the George Washington Bridge in the torrential downpour, overlooking the water below. The tanker U.S.S. Discovery was approaching and nearly at Snake's "Point of No Return." Snake looked out from under the hooded rain poncho and eyed the traffic on the bridge moving in both directions. Just headlights. No other figures on the walkway. If any people in vehicles saw him, they'd think he was just another suicide statistic. No cause for alarm.
That thought made Snake smile wryly.
Visibility was close to zero due to the heavy rain and high winds. The tanker was just a big, black shape moving along the river.
Time to go.
Snake unzipped the poncho and shrugged it off of his body, revealing the dark sneaking suit that was his trademark uniform, the same old gear he had used during the Shadow Moses affair two years earlier. The uniform showed signs of repair in several places, and there were no protectors in place. Snake was armed only with a Beretta, worn on a hip holster.
He adjusted the goggles over his face, careful not to disturb the signature blue bandana that was also as much a part of his body as the black hair on his head and stubble on his face. Snake checked the small parachute's harness and confirmed that it was snug. He then shimmied up the slippery supports using gloves that were made of special fabric that induced friction even when wet. He climbed onto the rail, stood upright, found his balance, and stretched out his arms to prepare for the dive.
The Discovery's deck moved into position directly below the bridge.
Snake leaped off and the AOD-Automatic Opening Device-caused the stealth parachute to blossom across his back. From that point on he was invisible to radar, sonar, and the naked eye, although the sheets of rain streamed off the parachute wings and drew its outline in the night sky. But no one would notice.
As graceful as a seagull, the former FOXHOUND operative managed to avoid the gusty effects of the wind and glided safely to the ship's deck. He landed lightly in a crouching position, facing the ship's stern. The impact of the landing rendered the stealth camo ineffective, so Snake was forced to deactivate the stealth function and become visible. He cut himself loose from the parachute and attached the wings to the filament on his back. The parachute, fragile as an angel's wings, sat on the filament and tightened with the ship's movement-its other end was tethered to the bridge railing high above. When the wire was fully taut, Snake released the gear; it disappeared into the murky black sky, carried off by the filament. The retractor reeled in the parcel and the pack came to rest unseen in the safety of the bridge.
The helicopter pilot struggled with the controls but kept the aircraft steady as it hovered over the bridge and the tanker below. The storm made it extremely difficult, but the pilot was a good one. He had to be, considering who his passenger was.
The man in the seat behind him had night-vision binoculars to his eyes and was focused on the tanker's deck.
"Our boy is right on schedule," he said. Involuntarily, he drew the six-shooter from the holster on his belt and twirled it in his left hand, gunslinger-style. Just as quickly, he shoved the revolver back into the holster and then reached up to twist his long mustache. His long yellow-white hair came down to his shoulders. He had often been told he resembled the legendary General George Custer, something he considered a compliment. After all, Custer had been a valiant, brave soldier of the U.S. Cavalry.
Revolver Ocelot watched Snake stand on the tanker deck. He lowered the binoculars and then spoke into his cellphone, "He'll know soon enough."
Snake moved behind the windlass and activated his Codec. He punched in the memorized frequency on the device around his wrist and waited for the face of his partner to appear on the Codec's screen.
"This is Snake. Do you read me, Otacon?"
The Codifying Satellite Communication System incorporated anti-wiring coding, digital real-time burst communication, sonar utilization, and radar. Normal communication was instantly codified, compressed, and transmitted in a burst of one microsecond in length. However, Snake could receive it in real time, unscrambled and decoded. The nanomachines in his body received the transmission and stimulated the small bones of his ear so that no one would hear the sound but Snake. And he could contact his partner with a speed-dial button corresponding to a code frequency. If necessary, he didn't need the actual Codec on his wrist. The nanomachines could provide a conduit for conversation in his head, hands free.
"Loud and clear, Snake." Otacon, aka Dr. Hal Emmerich, was probably the closest thing to a "best friend" that Snake had. They had met during the Shadow Moses ordeal and since then had been working together. Although he was younger than Snake, Emmerich's brains and science background were the perfect pairing to the operative's more physical approach to things.
"Kept you waiting, huh? I'm at the sneak point," Snake said.
"Everything going okay?"
"The stealth camo's busted. Landing impact."
"We must have overused it. Sorry, but you're going to have to deal with it. You're not in the military anymore."
"Right. I didn't plan on relying on this gadget anyway," Snake said with not a little sarcasm in his voice.
"Hey, the private sector's not so bad, is it? Privacy guaranteed!"
"I'm happy as long as no one gives me any more unwanted gifts."
"You mean that thing with Naomi?" Otacon didn't have to bring up the fact that Snake was still carrying the FOXDIE virus that he had acquired during the Shadow Moses incident. Thanks to Naomi Hunter, FOXHOUND's chief medic at the time. Whether it had been for Snake's own good or not was still a question.
"And I can't say I miss the chattering nanny," Snake added.
"Oh, Mei Ling's not so bad."
Actually, Snake had found FOXHOUND's communications officer rather cute, a manga character come to life. She did talk a lot, though.
"That reminds me," Otacon continued. "I have to get in touch with her again about that new Natik flashware."
"Diverting toys from the SSCEN again? Give her a message from me. Someone will find out, sooner or later. She's better off assuming it's sooner and quit while she's safe."
"Too true. Okay, Snake, let's get to work."
Snake heard the faint sound of a helicopter. He looked up but couldn't see anything through the rain and darkness.
"You know how the technical specs of Metal Gear were sold on the black market after Shadow Moses?"
"All Ocelot's doing," Snake answered.
"Exactly. And now, every state, group, and dotcom has its own version of Metal Gear."
"Not exactly a classified weapon for today's nuclear powers." Snake still had dreams-and sometimes nightmares-about his encounter with the gigantic, mobile nuclear weapon-launching system that walked like a Transformer come to life.
"This new one seems to have been designed to wipe the floor with all the other models. The only consistent description is that it's an amphibious, anti-Metal Gear vehicle."
"And that explains why this one is under Marine Corps jurisdiction?"
"Right. The mission objective is to make visual confirmation of the new Metal Gear being transported by that tanker and bring back photographic evidence. But I want you first to go up to the top level of the infrastructure, to the bridge. That's Deck-E. We need to find out where the tanker is headed."
"A little reconnaissance, huh?"
"There's too much we don't know about this new prototype. Capabilities, deployment method-we don't even know how close it is to completion. If we know where the testing arena is, I can start to draw some reasonable conclusions."
"All right, I'll head to the bridge ASAP."
"Try to avoid confrontations! Our goal is to collect evidence on Metal Gear development and expose it to the world. It would be best if you could get out of there without alerting anyone."
"Don't worry. I know the drill. We're not terrorists."
"Very good. Don't you forget that you're part of Philanthropy now!" Snake could hear the pride in Otacon's voice. He mouthed the exact words as Otacon repeated them for the thousandth time. "We're an anti- Metal Gear organization and-"
"-and officially recognized by the U.N. I know! Recognized, but still fringe, Otacon."
"All right, all right. So, how's your gear?"
"Seems to have survived the jump."
"Your weapon is a tranquilizer gun converted from a Beretta M92F. It's a little hard to work with, because you'll have to reload after each shot since the slide locks."
"It's better than scavenging at the site. It's got a good suppressor, too."
"The chemical stun will take effect in a few seconds and last for hours. You can take down an elephant with that thing. The effects of the anesthetic round will vary depending on what part of the body is hit. We're talking about a difference of tens of seconds between hitting the limbs, chest, or head. Check out the laser sighting, too!"
Snake grunted his approval.
"As for the equipment . . . " Otacon did a quick scan of Snake's suit using the Codec sensors that were built into it. "Cigarettes? Snake! What's wrong with you?"...