The whole world stood still,
for a moment. I heard my own voice shout “Get to cover!”, and then the
whole courtyard exploded in a sequence of shots. We ran for the far
alcove, dragging Pearson, and huddled under it while the last echoes of
the shots dies away in the wind.
Freals coughed, sat up, and looked at me. “By my count, sir, we’ve got
two snipers… at least… in every one of those towers.”
I nodded. “I think that you’re correct, Mr. Freals,” I said, “If we’re
going to move through this building, we’re going to need to flush them
out. Likely as not, they’ll be waiting where we least expect to see
I looked around. There was a metal door behind us with a heavy lock,
and another set of doors on either wing of the building facing the
“Thyger, we need that lock gone. Got a charge small enough?”
He smiled. “I do indeed, sir. One lockpick, coming up.”
I turned to face the other men. “Alright, gentlemen, here’s the plan.
I’m going to toss out my flash-bang on a short fuse. They’ve probably
seen one before, but the fact that they kept firing once we had already
ducked out of the way tells me that they’re inexperienced as snipers.
With any luck, they’ll look at that thing right through the sight and
half-blind themselves. Four men each, scatter to those doors. Then, two
apiece, take the towers. That silent alarm means that we need to finish
this operation quickly, so you won’t have an advantage in numbers. Play
it cautious instead, and throw a regular grenade in if you have to.”
There was a soft thump behind me, and a creak. The door swung open,
revealing a cavernous abyss of blackness beyond.
“Locht, Graile, you’re with me. We’re going to see if we can find an
alternate route through the building. Call on the radio once you’ve got
your tower cleared. The one on the left bottom side of the U shape is
1, the one on the right is 4. I’ll call back and tell you if we scout
out a route. Everyone got it?”
“OK, gentlemen, then get ready.”
I reached behind me, undid the Velcro on the flash-bang holster, pulled
the pin, and hefted it.
The whole area
became awash in frantic shots the moment the flash-bang went
off, but none of them even
came close. Everyone made it to the doors in time. I carefully propped
up Pearson, and signaled for the other two to follow me. As I
stepped through the door, I turned the volume down on my radio. If
there was anyone hiding out in here, the last thing I needed to do was
an open broadcast of our position.
The room was dark, much larger then it originally seemed, and very
No use using night vision goggles in here. Not enough ambient light for
that. The flashlights were a chance, but we didn’t have much choice.
The room smelled funny. One of the things that you learn early on, if
you plan to continue surviving, is to learn how to follow your nose
literally, which was currently telling me that something was wrong.
Graile noticed too.
“Frankly, sir, that smell is familiar.” He whispered, pointing the
flashlight at one of the crates lining the path.
on a moment.” I walked over to a lone crate on the ground and brought
my rifle stock against it, in order to dislodge the lid. It came off
without too much trouble.
what was inside that caused me trouble.
whole crate was filled with explosives. C4 blocks neatly attached to
timers, binary liquid bombs, and all manner of bullets, eclectically
but squarely compartmentalized. If the whole warehouse was holding this
stuff, then it could have removed the entire pole when detonated.
one thing’s for certain, if things get rough down here, we won’t run
out of ammo. Let’s keep moving. And be careful not to jostle these
things, or they’ll find our remains in San Franc…” The radio cut me off.
Mesner, come in.”
adjusted the microphone. “Read you loud and clear, over”.
tower 3 secured. The snipers have been turned off.” The phrase caught
me oddly. It didn’t sound quite right.
do you mean by “Turned off” precisely?”
seems to be an automated system, sir.” The radio buzzed, “I think you’d
better see this yourself, sir. I think they expected us, and we’ve got
some movement outside the compound. But, sir, I don’t recommend coming
up via the courtyard. There’s one on each of the walls.”
We’ll try to get up another way.”
switched out. This place looked like it was supplying the base, which
meant that it was a reasonable guess that the ammo dump had quick
access to the towers, somewhere. It was awfully strange for a place so
dedicated to munitions storage to have observation towers and seemingly
useless wings. It was almost as though the ammo dump had had everything
else appended on around it, after it was constructed. I moved us down a
left turn, towards tower through.
enough, there in the flashlights, was a cargo elevator. I considered
informing the other units that we had found a route, but since they
hadn’t reported in yet, I didn’t want to interrupt them. Besides, it
was never a good idea to say more on the radio then necessary, since
you never knew who was listening in.
turned to the other two. “Locht, stay here. If the situation changes,
call me, otherwise, leave off the radio. Graile, come with me. That
movement outside might be your silent alarm.”
the two of us stepped into the waiting elevator.
time I got to the top, towers 1 and 4 had called in, and I had sent 1
to support 2, which wasn’t responding. When the doors opened, it became
clear that we were seeing the fruits of the silent
3 was a wreck. There was a bunch of electronic equipment on every
surface, and two auto turrets of some kind hastily installed in both
They had definitely seen us coming. It made sense. This was the only
place we could find with recon because it was the only place they’d let
us see. They’d probably had a munitions dump here for some time, and
with some basic security, it could pass for a real compound. Since they
couldn’t be sure when they’d be attacked, they’d simply alarmed it, and
waited to trap whoever got lured in.
We had walked right into it.
Advancing over the landscape in a wave was a set of green and red
tanks, each with a cannon made to look like a candy cane stick through
a gumdrop. I wasn’t sure whether to be sickened, or angry. I gauged
their ETA as being maybe a minute.
On the other hand, that meant that a base WAS nearby, and that there
was a high chance the munitions dump was also connected to it, albeit
underground. Of course, it would be flooded with troops.
I pulled out my radio.
“Attention, all towers. Abort prior mission immediately, make your way
to tower 4, double-time.” I turned the auto-gun turret, and ripped off
the motor. It was a relatively weak motor, which explained why it had
missed; of course, it only had to slow us down. But there was a fairly
high quality sniper rifle beneath all the glittery green electronics. I
sighted it out the window, and held up my radio to my mouth.
“ And keep cool, gentlemen, because it looks like it’s about to get
very hot where we are.”