The green helicopter landed on top of the military complex. The loose snow on the roof was pushed away by the rotating blades until only a thick layer of ice remained. Breath was starting to crystalize inside the helicopter and got stuck on nose and mouth outside of it. The sun was shining through a thick layer of clouds, but it only brightened the mood, not the temperature. The old building complex in the middle of the forest was not found on any map and had no road leading towards it. The trees, as everything around, were covered in snow. There was supposed to be a storm approaching later today that would cover everything in several more meters of white. Nobody would be able to enter or exit the complex for at least a few weeks.
She had already been freezing inside the helicopter, but outside, it felt like she was walking through ice water. Less than an hour in this cold and you are dead. She had lived under these conditions half her life but now hated this place. Two soldiers opened the door and made sure she was inside before saluting her. The empty corridors and stairs were barely warmer than outside. In the basement levels, she started to see signs of life, and the temperate kept rising. Chatter filled the occupied rooms. A movie was running on an old TV, and a board game was on the table next to several bottles of unidentifiable liquid. She took off her thick jacket and coat and had to wait on the stairs for a moment to not get a shock from the drastic switch in temperatures. She only had three hours till she would fly back in the same helicopter, as long as the pilot would not decide otherwise.
There was not much information on the two prisoners. They were the suspects behind the 1B attack, but they had not gotten any information out of them over the past months. There was only room for speculation. Corporate espionage or terrorism were the most probable reasons, but there was no evidence pointing to either. Even the identities of both were clean: upstanding citizens with no prior violations. Because of the power outage in the entire building, they had no video evidence of them doing anything, but them being at the wrong place at the wrong time seemed highly unlikely. The whole operation was top secret, only her and a few others knew about it. Finding a scapegoat for the 1B accident was easy; finding the truth was not.
She entered the cell block four floors below ground and passed the two security chambers. Her connection to the grid had already broken up several hours ago, but down here, no transmission was getting through. She felt isolated and alone. Grey cells with dim light from the floor, a toilet, sink, and bed. Mold on the walls and water dripping from the ceiling. It reminded her how old this facility was. They had already kept prisoners here many decades ago, back when the blizzards of snow were only rarely bringing them the temperatures they had all year now. Being here for anything longer than a month would turn even the strongest people weak if they did not die first.
The last time she had been here was two months ago. She had watched the uneventful questioning through the glass of the interrogation room. Both prisoners stayed silent, even when they tortured them. Waterboarding, electric shocks, breaking their fingers, and pulling toenails. No gasp, no scream, it was truly terrifying. She was not scared of them, but of their dedication and endurance. She developed a weird kind of respect as she watched them. Those two were more determined to their cause than anyone she had ever seen.
She walked down the empty hallway and entered the interrogation room. The woman was sitting behind the large desk, chained on a metal chair. She stared into her eyes from the moment she entered as if she had waited for her. The room was brighter than the hallway and the cells, but the walls were just as plain. The woman still looked as healthy as she had been months ago. Even her blond hair seemed completely fine, despite no proper way to wash them. This shithole had not changed her mentally nor physically.
“How are you?” she started, not expecting any response. They had not talked to anyone since they had been here. She sat down at the other side of the table and looked at the woman: no answer, but a smile.
“I’m glad you came back.”
She was confused but tried not to show it. How did the woman know she had been here before? Was it a bluff? Why did she speak all of a sudden?
“So, you can talk after all. That’s a relief. I thought we would get nowhere with both of you. We need to talk about the reason you are here.”
The woman’s smile widened.
“It’s quite remarkable what you can achieve in a few months of silence. We have to thank you for it. After all, you decided to keep us here longer.”
Were the guards too talkative to them? The woman should not know anything about the decision to keep them here. She was finally getting somewhere, but not in the way she had hoped.
“It’s about time we leave, don’t you think? You wouldn’t believe me, but the last few weeks started to get a bit boring.”
The door to the interrogation room opened, and the other prisoner came inside. The man was wearing one of the thick insulated soldier jackets and carried two more of them.
“Everything is ready.”
She hastily stood up and fell backward over her chair.
“Hey, hey. No need to scream. We are not going to hurt you, or anyone else. Thanks to your little friend, we won’t have to.”
The woman smiled and poked at her temple. She had broken the metal chains without making any noise and was walking around the table towards her. Or had she never been chained in the first place?
“We have a long flight ahead of us, and you will be back home sooner than expected. You will have dinner with your husband and be relieved that the two commanders you had to pick up were on time. You will put your daughters to bed and have a nice and long sleep.”
The woman took her by the shoulders and gently pushed her out of the room. Many years ago, she had trained martial arts, but all of the moves seemed to have vanished from her mind. They walked through the security chamber and the guards greeted them at the exit. She started to talk, but her words made less sense the more she said.
“C-Can’t you see that you are letting out… prisoners?”
“I’m sorry General, but the commanders were waiting for you for a long time already. I think it would be wise if we don’t let them wait any longer.”
She looked over to the two commanders behind her. Both were smiling childishly as if she was their grandma showing signs of dementia.
“How are you doing this? You are terrorists? You killed over a million people?”
She immediately felt like she had insulted them, and the confusion in her face got accompanied by a tone of shame and regret. They walked upstairs into the cold. The guards saluted their commanders before they opened the door and hushed them into the spinning helicopter. The storm had reached them earlier than expected, and the helicopter was blowing snow in their faces. They took off and left the facility behind. The soldiers quickly ran back and closed the door behind them. The snow-storm was getting thicker by the minute, and they could barely see the trees several meters below them. The two commanders were sitting in front of her and did not seem to be impressed by the cold. She was getting tired and her eyes started to feel heavy.
“Don’t worry, you will forget us soon.”
She fell asleep shortly after and dreamed of the two commanders she had to pick up from the remote location. She could not remember their faces, but she remembered that the prisoners they interrogated had died a while ago. They would never find out their involvement in the 1B attack, but by now, most of the world had already moved on anyway. Nobody would shed a tear.