Lost In The Crowd

The crowd gathering in the bazaar had been steadily increasing all morning.  Among them, Captain Dianna Mitchell lurked quietly in the background unnoticed by the throngs of pedestrians moving around her.  Being of similar height, and required to be covered from head to toe, no one would have ever known that one of the world’s most deadly assassins was in their midst.   

    Sanctuary to Alpha One: primary is en-route.

     Alpha One to Sanctuary: copy that.

     The primary target was radical extremist Francis Peralleux.  Francis happened to be in this small, northern Iraqi village on business.  INTEL had been coming in hot and heavy that he was putting the finishing touches on a major terrorist action and was coming here to recruit the necessary personnel.  Capt. Mitchell had been in the small village a few days already waiting for Francis to arrive.  In the mean time, she had become quite familiar with the surroundings.  No one seemed to notice the extra body, which made hiding, and more so moving around, extremely easy.  It’s almost cheating, she had thought. 

     The satellite feed was filling her inner-HUD with a myriad of data including the location and direction of the target.  He was closing in on her position, so she began to move forward with a small group of women that had just passed by.  As they approached each other, she worked her left hand free, which was covered by her combat SBT.  Passing as close as possible without drawing any attention, she ran her exposed hand across his left arm.  In the crowded streets, he hadn’t even noticed the exchange and continued towards his destination.  Mitchell kept her course steady as she made her way in the opposite direction toward her small base of operations located in an abandoned house on the outskirts of the village. 

     Within 15 seconds, she began receiving the data stream from the nano cluster she had left on Francis’ arm.  She could see his vitals, his location, and hear the conversations going on around him.  By the time the transmission had begun, he had already made his way into a small house, and was engaged in conversation with it occupants.  They were speaking French, and thanks to her SBT, she was able to understand all that was being said.  He was thanking the home owners for their hospitality.  They had insisted that he spend the night, that they would be honored to entertain a hero of the people.  Though she could tell it was with a touch of reluctance, he relented and obliged their request. 

     The rest of the afternoon consisted of small talk mixed with eating and lots of drinking.  There were plenty of boasts regarding his past terrorist activity, that were all being recording for posterity’s sake.  Occasionally laughter would erupt when a story would end with some world organization being embarrassed or with the death of many infidels.  And then something about an EC seat holder, his daughter, and one less virgin to await him in heaven.  After listening to as much as she could stand, Mitchell allowed herself to relax and grabbed a quick cat nap while waiting for night to fall.

     When she woke, she discovered her cat nap had turned into a 6 hour slumber.  Almost in a panic, she began running checks and processing data to make sure everyone and everything was where it should be.  Francis was still in the village, but at a different house, and just as she had made that discovery…

     Sanctuary to Alpha One: Message following, Priority level high.  Stand down, repeat, Stand down.

     After a few seconds of stunned silence, the followup message was transmitted.

     Sanctuary to Alpha One: Message following, Priority level high.  New target of opportunity.  Consider as primary.  All other targets secondary.

    With that her mind lit up with the face of a woman she had never seen and a name she had never heard of before.  Along with the face and name, came a small data dump regarding her new target.  Her name was Inirah Basilah.  She was young, twenty five according to the INTEL, but she had a rugged beauty that bespoke a life of hardship met with grace.  But looking into her eyes, Mitchell felt as though she was looking into a mirror.  Staring back were the dark and beautiful,  yet cold and lifeless eyes of a killer.  According to the data dump, Inirah was seeking to become the new caliph, or religious leader, in this region which meant that unless she was stopped, a lot of innocent people would die.  Her list of accomplishments was short, but it was believed she had been incredibly active, with most of her exploits being claimed by other terror leaders as their own.  After reading the rest of the data dump, Mitchell closed Inirah’s info and focused on the image of the building that was now showing a pulsing figure labeled Inirah Basilah, and sitting across from her was another figure labeled Francis Peralleux. 

     It didn’t take Mitchell long to figure out that the INTEL reports were wrong.  It was Inirah that was planning something major, and she had recruited Francis to help plan the action and organize the resources.  Mitchell accessed the nano cluster she had left on Francis’ arm, and began listening in on the conversation.  It was quickly determined that Inirah was tired of others taking responsibility for her actions.  And she would be dealing with those liars and usurpers soon enough.  Inirah then went on a ten minute rant that went into graphic detail of what she would be doing to those dogs once she was finished with this current project.  By that time, dinner had been served and Inirah changed the subject to one more suitable for eating.  It was time to move.

    By the time Mitchell had left her room, the moon was high and the streets were all but deserted.  With her disguise intact, she proceeded to make her way through the village towards the center where Inirah and Francis were meeting.  As she approached, she let her SBT and satellite scour the area looking for anything or anyone that might be considered hostile.  Once she had closed to within fifty yards, she backed into a dark corner, removed her disguise and extracted her small Dark Ops assault rifle from its nano sheath.  Quietly, she continued working her way towards the house.  She carefully scanned high and low for booby traps or any early detection systems.  Her suit straining to pick up even the smallest amount of data that would help her stay undetected.  As she moved, she could still hear her training officer screaming at her class that many a high-tech warrior had been compromised by the most low-tech devices.  A terrorist favorite is to simply run a trip wire attached to a bunch of cans across a doorway or walkway.  Fortunately, she encountered nothing that would alert the neighbors that a killer was lurking in their streets.  Mitchell made her way around the back of the house where the two targets were eating and found a small door which lead to the kitchen.  She quietly placed her hand on the door and her suit ran a quick diagnostic and determined there were no devices attached to it that would alert the occupants.  Before moving in, she stowed her assault rifle and replaced it with her silenced 9mm handgun.  The door was unlocked and opened inward.  Slowly, she eased through the door, her suit taking in the surroundings looking for anything that might be hazardous to its health as well and Capt. Mitchell’s.  As she entered the kitchen, she could see a small bed sheet, being used as a door, that separated her room from theirs.  And another “door” to her right which probably lead to a bedroom.  Theirs were the only heat signatures in the house, so she wasn’t worried about being surprised.  Whoever had servered them dinner had made the wise choice and left for the night.  Fully inside the kitchen she closed the door behind her and began making her way across the kitchen.  With her handgun at the ready, she took one last step as she reached the sheet and found a soft spot in the floor which groaned in loud protest.  Mitchell froze.  And in a heart beat Inirah bolted out of the front door leaving Francis to fend for himself.  Dammit!  Mitchell ran into the living room where the pair had been eating.  Francis looked at the dark figure standing before him.  Judging by his terrified stare, he might have been looking at a ghost.  More like an angel, she thought.  “I bring you the gift of death” were the words she spoke to the petrified Francis before she knocked him out cold with a swift backhand to his temple.  She gave an internal command to the nano machines that had been planted on him earlier and began the hunt for her primary.  When they discover his body, presuming the authorities even bothered trying to figure out what had killed Francis, they would find that sometime during the night, he had suffered a fatal brain embolism.

     As she made her way out the front door, Inirah was already making her way around a corner about a hundred yards down the street.  Damn she’s fast.  Doing her best to remain silent and hidden, Mitchell began stalking her through the village.  With the help of the suit and satellite feed, keeping tabs on her wouldn’t be a problem, but trying not to draw any unwanted attention was going to be tough.  Mitchell walked quietly along the sidewalk until she found a dark alcove.  Quietly, she ducked into it, and waited.  She had remembered some advice her dad had given her when she was a kid.  They had been out deer hunting and she had just let loose an arrow which found its mark on the buck; low on the ribcage, just behind the front leg.  As the deer bounded off into the woods with its fatal wound, Mitchell had jumped up and began to run after it when her dad pulled her back down into the blind.  “If you chase it, it will keep running and you may never find it.  Be still and it will lay down and die.”  While she wasn’t worried about losing track of Inirah, she certainly didn’t want to chase her all over the town and risk waking every one up.  So she sat still, and waited for her to settle down. 

    After about twenty minutes, Inirah finally found a place that appeared to make her feel safe because she had stopped moving.  Mitchell quietly moved out of her alcove and began making her way toward the house Inirah had holed up in.  As she was making her way there, she had the satellite check the place out.  Inirah’s was the only heat signature, but she had also picked up a weapon; it appeared to be a sub machine gun.  The going was slow and tense, and it took Mitchell about 30 minutes to reach the house.  Inirah hadn’t moved, but her vitals were still running high.  She may have found a place that seemed safe, but it was obvious she wasn’t completely convinced.  Unlike the previous house, this one only had the front door which was slightly ajar.  Mitchell cautiously approached the door and saw the interior was dark.  Internally, she could see Inirah at the top of a small flight of stairs just around the corner to the left.  Mitchell reached into one of her nano pouches and retrieved a small, flat disk and slid it into the room towards the foot of the stairs.  Five seconds later, the house erupted in a blaze of phosphorescent light.  At that instant, Mitchell barrel rolled into the room towards the wall next to the stair case.  As Mitchell entered the room, Inirah let fly a panicked burst of automatic gun fire.  A few of the rounds struck Mitchell on her leg, but the SBT hardened at the point of impact and absorbed the kinetic energy.  After the burst, Inirah ran to a room at the far end of the hall, slammed the door and positioned herself against the wall opposite the door with her gun at the ready.  Slowly, Mitchell proceeded up the stairs, this time mindful of any loose floor boards.  As she climbed, she could hear her heart pounding in her ears as well as the sound of voices growing outside.  She needed to end this now.  Reaching the top of the stairs, she replaced her handgun with her assault rifle and put a three round burst through the door.  She heard a small whimper of pain.  The body armor she had been wearing prevented Mitchell’s burst from being fatal, but it did nothing for the force of the impact.  Inirah loosed another long burst of machine gun fire.  Before Mitchell could get completely out of the line of fire, she felt her assault rifle jerk in her hands.   After the gun fire died, Mitchell’s internal HUD began flashing…

    ALERT:  Assault rifle damaged.  Non-functional.    

 Mitchell began to stow her rifle and retrieve her handgun just as the bedroom door burst open and Inirah came charging down the hall spraying bullets everywhere.  Mitchell jumped down the stairs, rolled to her left and began fumbling for her handgun.  Before she could get it out, she was tackled from behind and her pistol went flying.  Mitchell was face down with Inirah on her back punching and jabbing wildly, but Mitchell’s suit bore the brunt of the punishment.  Mitchell immediately reached back, grabbed the first thing she could get a hold of and pulled as hard as she could.  Inirah screamed in pain as her hair was being wrenched from her scalp and the floor came rushing up to meet her.  With a satisfying crunch, Inirah’s nose kissed the floor.  Mitchell quickly got to her feet just as Inirah rolled onto her back and began spitting up blood and teeth. Mitchell reached down to grab Inirah by the shirt, but Inirah grabbed Mitchell’s arm, twisted and sent her flying across the room.  Inirah was back on her feet, screaming and running wildly towards Mitchell who was still lying on her back.  Mitchell quickly raised a foot and caught Inirah in the soft part of her gut, just below the ribcage.  Inirah doubled over, fell to her knees, and retched.  Mitchell stood up, grabbed Inirah’s hair, pulled back hard, and punched her square in the mouth.  Blood, more teeth, and vomit splattered the wall and floor.  Inirah was on her back, semi-conscious, and hurting badly.  Mitchell walked over to where her handgun lay on the floor, picked it up and made her way back to Inirah.  By this time, the voices were growing louder and heading her way,  A quick satellite check confirmed that a small mob, including some local police were just down the street making their way toward the house.  Mitchell closed the front door, walked over to Inirah, knelt down and placed the gun to her head.  Through the fog of pain and broken teeth, Inirah muttered “Have you no mercy?”  Mitchell moved to within a inch on Inirah’s face and allowed her suit to expose her eyes.  Mitchell knew by the look on Inirah’s face, she had received her answer.  Almost in a lover’s tone, Mitchell replied “Death is a mercy you don’t deserve.”  With that, Mitchell bent down and gently kissed her forehead.  Inirah closed her eyes, mouthed a silent prayer, and gave a slight shudder as the bullet entered her brain. 

    Mitchell stayed around long enough to ensure Inirah’s vitals went dark.  By that time, she could hear the angry shouts just outside the front door.  She quickly ran upstairs, down the hall, and into the room Inirah had run into.  In the dark she could see a window on the back wall.  From the satellite view, she could see the mob had all gathered out front and she appeared to have a clear exit out the back.  Quickly she opened the window, and quietly jumped down into the the alley.  As she hit the ground, she could hear the front door of the house give way to the battering ram the police had brought along.  Shortly followed by shouts of panic, grief, and instructions to get some emergency medical personnel on the scene.  By that time, Mitchell had safely made her way down the alley.  She paused briefly in the shadows to get her bearings.  According to the satellite, she was on the southern edge of town.  If she continued south, she would be out of the town in less than five minutes. 

    Alpha One to Sanctuary:  Primary and secondary complete.  Heading to the south street station.

     Sanctuary to Alpha One: Copy that.  Congratulations.  All trains running on time.      

     Within an hour, Mitchell was on the Dark Ops helo heading home.  As she sat back in the seat, she closed her eyes and tried to relax.  Staring back at her were Inirah’s beautiful, dark eyes.  In another life, it could’ve been different…

            

The Free-fall

The free-fall had always been her favorite part. It was a feeling of complete serenity, excited anticipation, and the sickeningly sweet touch of fear that she could never shake no matter how many times she jumped. There was nothing unusual or peculiar about this one, but like all of her jumps, it was into the black of night and tonight, even the stars hid their faces. The weather report had stated that there was a storm brewing over the target area, but would mostly be cloud cover for her descent and for the majority of her mission. If all went according to plan, she could expect rain as she made her way to the extraction point, which was good she thought. It would help mask her exit, wash away any sign that she had even been there, and maybe even help her feel a little less stained after it was over. Thankfully, tonight’s HALO or High Altitude Low Opening jump would be over soon. Though she had stepped out of the Dark Ops drone and into the night sky at an altitude of thirty five thousand feet, the fall wouldn’t last long. And while she loved the free-fall, she hated being left alone with her thoughts.

Five thousand feet will come soon enough, she thought knowing at that point her chute would deploy and hoping, once again, that the opening shock would shake loose her uneasy feelings, and bring her back to reality. Shortly after leaving the drone, she closed her eyes. And an instant later, an endless stream of information flooded into her mind. She could see her vitals, the outside air temperature, her current altitude, rate of descent, and additional information that she considered important. This was all being provided by her SymBiotech suit which tied directly into her neural net (a nano machine colony attached to her cerebral cortex). She used her neural net to tap into the Dark Ops Global Information Stream, and made one last check of the weather. Nothing had changed. At that, she closed her link to the Stream, tried her best to relax and enjoy this short moment of peace. The SBT would alert her when it was time. But her attempt to relax was fruitless, her mind had wondered back to the task at hand, and the hope for a moment of peace was lost. Because she knew why she was there, and what was going to happen once she touched down. It was inevitable for anyone caught in her wake. The only consolation would be that their death would be swift, and hopefully painless. For them, I hope yesterday was a good day…

Within the Dark Operations Group, Captain Diana Mitchell was a walking legend. She was a member of the first Dark Ops training class and helped refine and improve the Dark Ops training curriculum developed during Phase 1 of the research initiative. Of the six teams to come out of Dark Operations Training Class One, her team was the first to be deployed, the first to bring in a major terrorist leader, the first to prevent a major terrorist action, and several other “firsts” that gave the world hope that all of the time, money, and effort put into combating terror was finally starting to pay off.

With over a hundred and fifty successful missions, Capt. Mitchell had distinguished herself above and beyond her peers in the Dark Operations Group. In response to her exceptional skills and remarkable service record, the then director of the Dark Operations Group, Commander Jonas Lukin, offered Capt. Mitchell an opportunity to take part in a new pilot program. This program, now known as the Dark Ops Special Projects Group externally, the Assassin’s Corps internally, was constructed on the principle that in the world of counter terror, a single, highly skilled warrior has a better chance in certain circumstances of infiltrating and eliminating the target. The targets of opportunity that were deemed too risky or difficult for a typical two person Dark Ops team were passed directly to the Assassin’s Corps. And her target had proved to be very difficult indeed.

His name was Adrien Lemonde, a former French nationalist turned radical extremist. Some believe his descent from peaceful demonstrator to hard core terrorist was a result of his frustration with the European Collective and their handling of foreign policies, specifically conceding so much power to the United States. Others say his wife at the time had family ties to one of the early terror leaders, Ahamand Bahzeer. Another theory speculates that some terror organization finally scraped together enough cash and made an offer that Adrien couldn’t turn down. While all of these have some truth, the most reliable INTEL reports point to the latter. Regardless of his reason, his commitment was total and his methods were brutal. Most recently, his terror group claimed responsibility for the bombing of several schools throughout the European Collective. Also to his credit are several successful assassinations. But what made Adrien dangerous, was his ability to plan, coordinate, and direct joint operations with some of the larger terror organizations. Chief among these joint operations was the recent assassination of several key political figures within the European Collective and subsequent bombing of the parliament building.

He had also proved to be very elusive. He’d been spotted only twice in the last three years. The first sighting didn’t amount to anything, before a Dark Ops team could get off the ground, he’d fallen off the map. The second time resulted in a failed mission that almost cost both of the Dark Ops operators their lives. Since that failed mission a year and half ago, Adrien had been constantly moving, never in the same place more than what seemed like few hours making him a surveillance nightmare. And when he was seen, it was only his shadow being cast on the ruin created by his ongoing terrorist activity. But within the last month he was finally located. And based on the compound’s location in an obscure hill-side farming community in a no-name middle eastern country, and observing his daily movements, it was easy to see that he felt he had finally found a hiding place where he could operate safely. As soon as Capt. Mitchell was given the SITREP, she immediately understood why she was going in as opposed to a large scale military operation. Dark Ops could play the psychological game just as good as any terrorist.

ALERT: Deployment altitude in ten seconds.

Mitchell braced herself for opening shock.

ALERT: Chute deployed.

As those words worked their way through her consciousness, she could feel the chute slip from its pack, extend, and then… wham! Opening shock was always something she dreaded. As she gained control of her chute, she quickly accessed the Stream to determine her position and which direction she needed to be heading. She was pleased to learn she was right were she was supposed to be and that the landing zone was clear. She made a small adjustment in her direction and let gravity take over. She then took a quick inventory of all her equipment making sure nothing had been ejected or broken when the chute opened. Satisfied she was still carrying all of her gear, she concentrated on getting to the landing zone. Her glide was smooth, despite the building storm. Throughout her descent, she scanned the area below. Even though the night, with the help of the thick cloud cover, had shrouded everything in complete darkness suit gave her a complete and highly detailed view of the valley below. From her vantage point she could make out the small settlements that littered the countryside. The camp fires of herds-men, several of which were situated along the ridge she would have to climb. She even caught a quick glimpse of Adrien’s compound before it disappeared behind that same ridge.

ALERT: 10 seconds to impact.

Mitchell quickly scanned the ground below to make sure it was free from obstacles, pulled down on her guide lines, and landed without the slightest sound. She quickly went straight to a prone position and allowed her suit to recycle the chute. As she lay there, she allowed her SBT to reach out and touch the world around her. If there was anything within a hundred yard radius of her position, she would know. The initial scan only showed a small number nocturnal creatures milling about. She then accessed the Stream. Dark Ops had dedicated a satellite that would stay on station throughout the duration of this mission, which would be feeding her real-time data. She used the satellite’s imaging to ensure there were no unfriendlys laying in wait beyond the range of he suit’s sensor array. Satisfied that she hadn’t been detected, she slowly got to her feet and quietly begin to make her way to her scouting position at the top of the ridge.

Thirty minutes later, she arrived at her position overlooking Adrien’s compound. The climb up had been uneventful. Even though it was pitch black, and the terrain rocky and uneven, she had no difficulty making the ascent. And luckily, none of the herds-men’s camps were close so she was able to avoid any unnecessary contact. The ridge she sat atop was to the rear of the compound with a distance of one hundred yards to the compound’s wall. The compound sat in the middle of a local farming village with a population of around two hundred. The compound itself was rather small. It had three main buildings; a large command building right in the center, a smaller building that was being used as a barracks located at the far end of the compound from her position, and another small building next to the barracks that INTEL reports had determined to be a workshop of some kind.

As she lay there, she made some final checks before making her way through the village and to the compound. Her SBT sensor array was still showing nothing of importance, the satellite confirmed that the only activity was inside the compound. As she watched the satellite’s view of this activity, she quickly determined they were routine patrols. She had 3 hours of darkness left to complete the mission and get to the extraction point. Plenty of time, she thought. And with that, she cautiously raised herself to her feet, drew her Dark Ops assault rifle from its nano sheath, and begin moving toward the village.

She never felt more alive than she did now. All of her senses fully aware and augmented by her SBT. Her inner visuals were being flooded with the satellite’s feed. As she moved into the village, the bodies of men, women, children, and a few pets began popping up in her mind. Based on their vitals, they were all sound asleep. After 10 minutes of slowly creeping from one hut to the next, she finally reached the compound’s wall. According to her SBT, and the satellite’s real-time feed, there were no patrols close to her position. In fact, there was no one currently in the court yard. She had the satellite switch to a thermal view. And in an instant, she saw they had all moved into the barracks. She quickly scanned the rest of the compound for any additional heat signatures. And then she saw two lonely forms snuggled tightly together on the second floor of the command center. She knew one of those had to be Lemonde, the other was probably some village girl there to warm his bed and then back to the streets come morning, If only it had been some other night. She had the satellite focus on those two heat signatures and run the various checks to confirm that one of them was in fact the terrorist she had come to kill.

ALERT: Target Acquired.

ALERT: Target Confirmed – Adrien Lemonde.

With that, one of the heat signatures began to pulse slightly indicating which of the two was him. Just as this information crossed her consciousness, two moving objects were detected by her SBT and heading her way. Based on the vitals, it was a human and some kind of animal, most likely a dog she thought. She had the satellite zero in on them, and sure enough, it was a man and a dog walking right toward her position. She initiated a scan of the incoming targets to determine if they were going to pose a threat. The scan showed the man was carrying no weapons and the dog was simply a dog. Probably out for an early morning piss. She quickly laid flat on the ground and allowed the SBT to take over. She knew from his perspective, in this light, she would appear as nothing more that a raised section of earth. The SBT was actively masking her scent and body heat so the dog wouldn’t be able to detect her. All she had to do was remain perfectly still. Even though her face was buried in the ground, her suit and the satellite still gave her a view as if she were looking right at them. They stopped just short of where she lay. The man fondled with his clothing for a moment, let out a soft sigh, and a stream of urine began splashing the ground two feet away from her. Even though the suit shielded her from the splatter, it did nothing for the smell. A pungent, acrid order filled her nostrils and the warmth of it pressed against her. If he had been her target, both he and the dog would now be dead, left lying in that puddle of urine. But, she resisted the temptation, reminded herself that his time was coming, and remained as still as a stone. Fully relieved, the man and his pet wondered back the way they had come. She followed his progress until he had reached his tent, went inside and laid back down to sleep. With no other threat detected, she got to her feet and…

ALERT: Incoming thermal scan detected.

She stood still. She knew from the INTEL that Adrien had some security measures. Certainly nothing that worried her.

ALERT: Thermal scan no longer detected.

She also knew that in about five minutes the next round of patrols would begin, so she needed to get to the command building quickly. Silently, she scaled the twelve foot wall with very little effort. Reaching the top, she quickly rolled over the edge and dropped to the ground inside the court yard. The court yard was dark, only a few lights above the doorways, and no visible cameras. The INTEL report had stated that aside from a thermal scan every 15 minutes, and regular patrols, there had been no additional security measures. She quickly moved from the foot of the wall to the barracks, pausing briefing to check the status of its occupants. Once she was satisfied they were all still there, she quietly moved to the workshop building. Once again she paused briefly as she considered her next move. Access to the command building would be through a small service hatch located on the roof. According to the INTEL schematics, once she had entered the hatch, she would have to defeat one locked door, then it would be a straight shot to the sleeping Lemonde. As she began moving behind the workshop to get to the command building, the barracks came alive with activity. Need to get to the roof now, she thought. Staying as close to the shadows as possible, she made her way to the command building and paused briefly to check the guards status. They were currently assembled outside the door, apparently awaiting the command to begin their patrols. As quickly as she could, she scaled the twenty five feet to the roof of the command building. Once she stepped onto the roof, she could see the service hatch. Staying low, she approached it cautiously. Neither her suit nor the satellite were picking up any security measures up here, it was better to be careful then rely too much on your gear. Upon reaching the door, she placed her hand on it and ran a quick diagnostic to determine if the door was booby trapped or had an alarm attached to it. The door had neither. It took her 15 seconds to defeat the lock on the service hatch. Before lifting the hatch, she retrieved some Teflon spray from one of the utility pouches attached to her suit and gave the hinges a quick once over. Satisfied the hinges were well lubricated, she stowed the spray and slowly lifted the hatch. Below, she could see a darkened, cramped utility room full of cleaning supplies. Quietly, she made her way down the ladder and closed the service hatch behind her. As soon as the hatched closed, the rain started to fall. Being mindful of her surroundings, she began pulling out the tools that she would use to take out Lemonde. A small, hand-held H-K 9mm made special for Dark Ops. It was made out of a light, composite material that was virtually indestructible, had a built in silencer, and a twenty round clip. The ammunition was case-less, and used a flash-less powder. Both perfect for her line of work. After making a final weapons check, she accessed the satellite feed to make sure Lemonde was still where he had been and that no one else had entered the building. I am become death. Quickly, she moved out of the closet and down the hall with her weapon at the ready. Reaching the bedroom door, she lightly touched the door to check for traps, nothing, and the door had been left unlocked. With an ethereal grace, she went through the door and straight to were Lemonde slept. Without hesitation, she put two rounds through his right temple. His vitals went dark.

Alpha One to Sanctuary, primary complete. Proceeding with secondary.

Copy that Alpha One. Secondary is a go. Your ride is inbound.

As this internal conversation ended, she moved to the middle of the bedroom and began removing several items from various compartments on her suit. Once she had everything she needed out and on the floor, she started to assemble the components. As she worked, she could hear the rain beating against the roof and the small window on the far side of the room. In her mind, she could see the patrols making their rounds via the satellite feed. And she heard something move behind her. Lightening quick, she rounded on the sound and found herself pointing her weapon at the young girl’s head. The girl had woken, sat up, and appeared as though she were looking at a ghost. She couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen and Mitchell could see that the girl had beautiful, dark features even without the night vision. Maybe this girl had been the daughter of a tribal elder, or a captive, or a simple farm girl. But it didn’t matter now. As the girl’s vitals went dark from the two rounds that had hit her in the chest, Mitchell quickly picked her up and moved her to where she had been working on the floor. The girl had made this part easy. She figured she would have had to kill a guard and drag him up here for this, but the girl had saved her that inconvenience, and in the end would work out better. Slowly, Mitchell began strapping the bomb vest to the lifeless girl’s body. Hopefully there will be enough of both left over after the bomb goes off. It was widely known that Adrien had a recent falling out with a major terror leader after a recent mission had failed and resulted in the death of the leader’s son. So in an act of vengeance, the terror leader sent this girl in as a suicide bomber to take out Adrien and as much of his operation as possible. Or at least that’s what it was supposed to look like. Once the vest was fastened, she left the girl on the floor and made her way back to the door. She had to complete the secondary and start making her way to the extraction point. Replacing her 9mm hand gun with her assault rifle, she started down the hall way. The satellite was feeding her the locations of the guards outside. One group was making their way towards the front of the command building. The others were back in the barracks. As she made her way down the stairs and towards the front door, she could see through the window that the rain was coming down hard. As she reached the front door, in her mind she could see the patrol of five guards make their way past the door. In one fluid motion, she opened the door, raised her assault rifle and let loose a silent, controlled burst that sent all five guards to the ground dead before any of them could react. Without stopping, she made her way straight to the barracks. She could see ten heat signatures inside the barracks. It looked as though some had already gone back to sleep based on their vitals. Moving through the barracks door, she took down two guards sitting in front of a TV with their backs to her. Moving counter-clock wise along the wall, she took out another guard that had just stepped in from the kitchen. Reaching the door leading to the sleeping area, she slipped inside and took out the four sleeping guards as she made her way through the room. Three left. They were located in the next room. Stopping briefly to reload, she entered the bathroom. The last three were taking showers and never knew who or what had killed them.

Alpha One to Sanctuary, secondary complete. Proceeding with tertiary.

Copy that Alpha One. Tertiary is a go. Your ride will be waiting.

With that, she left the barracks, crossed the courtyard, and proceeded to climb over the wall of the compound opposite of where she had entered and slowly made her way through the village. Once she felt she was safely clear of the village, she quickened her pace as she made her way to the extraction point as the rain came down hard. Within ten minutes she was safely aboard the Dark Ops helicopter. As it began to lift off, she flipped back the safety cap on the detonation switch and pressed. Instantly the countryside lit up as Adrien’s compound and the surrounding village went up in a giant fireball.

Alpha One to Sanctuary, tertiary complete. On the bus and coming home.

Copy that Alpha One. Congratulations. The family will be waiting.

Target Acquired

Standing securely on the limb of the pine tree he was invisible. Like smoke on a moonless night, his profile was masked within the Loblolly needles, invisible to the naked eye. The only problem was that he knew it was not the naked eye he needed to remain hidden from. Somewhere, hidden in the trees around the cabin, were people looking for him, laying in wait, ready to fire first if they could detect him.

ALERT: Scan in progress

His opposites inside the terrorist cell were sweeping again. Routine enough, he thought. Every 8 to 12 minutes for the past 5 hours they had swept the area looking for anomalies. Depending on the systems employed they would be looking for certain signatures or markers. Fluctuations in body heat amongst their own comrades, digital traffic in or out of the compound, dark areas in the surrounding countryside.

It was the ‘dark area’ he had to fear. A dark area is defined as a location in space that contained no data. His SymbioTech suit could mask almost 100% of the digital traffic in and out of itself, it matched the ambient external temperature perfectly, it even disposed of any waste internally, but offering material to mask the dark area was something you had to master yourself.

He shifted his weight on the limb with the breeze, he moved centimeters out onto the limb and then back again snug to the trunk. It must be working because only a few minutes ago an owl had landed on the limb above him and perched there still.

ALERT: Scan terminated

Becoming an assassin is not what most little boys dream about. It is not a glamorous job, he couldn’t tell the truth to anyone he met, and people always ask what you do for a living. Military, sure, he could tell them he is in the military and some people let it drop there. But others pressed, so it was best to be the person that no one noticed. He had become a living embodiment of dark area. In bars and cafes he went unnoticed by the patrons, on transports he sat down and slept until they arrived at port, in his own apartment building none of the other residents could tell you what he looked like. He is a walking dark area.

The door to the porch swung open and a man walked out, he lit a match to fire up his cigar and it was then that Major Thomas Nguyen acquired the target.

IDENTIFICATION: Gustav Haas

The targets face was mapped and scanned in 0.03 seconds, sixty-three points of commonality were mapped and remapped from hundreds of video and photographic records, confirming his identity and issuing the death warrant allowing Nguyen to proceed.

Nguyen released the safety on his rifle with a nanonic burst. His weapon, more a extension of his suit that not, offered him an array of data. The system was 100% operational and fully powered, humidity and wind negligible. The flechette block contained 1400 munitions that could be fired at an almost continuous volley until exhausted without generating heat beyond operational standards. Carrying two more flechette blocks on his suit he felt comfortable with his firepower.

Holding the weapon in his right hand, he dropped to the ground, firing in mid-fall. The thirty round burst impacted on target, ripping through bone, muscle, soft tissue and extinguishing the life on one Gustav Haas, supplier of narcotics to millions and financier of terrorist cells all across the world.

The easy part was done, evasion was always the hardest part of any mission. For the briefest moment Nguyen considered moving to the cabin and dealing with the bodyguard contingent, but that was not his mission. In seconds they would find the body and then all hell would break loose. Already a computer somewhere in the world had registered the connection to Haas was lost and was seeking to reestablish the stream.