The rest of the night passed peacefully. We all managed to get some sleep and finished off the meal is started cooking before the last attack. It’s amazing what some good food does for you, your whole body feels good and your mental outlook chant for the better too.
‘How many more miles? I want to kill Stearns for the shit he pulled last night,’ muttered Cloudy as she worked her whetting stone up and down her combat knife.
Aside from killing at distances most of us would have trouble even knowing there was someone to kill, Cloudy was also dealt with knives. She carried, at last count, a tomahawk (technically not a knife but …) paired with a Bowie, two karambits, a butterfly knife and some throwing knives she used when she wanted to make grown men cry and piss themselves.
‘We’re in roughly what could be called the suburbs or district now. Within commuting distance if you like that sort of thing,’ Zendar Said cheerily as he tipped an entire bottle of Tabasco sauce over his MRE.
‘Don’t. How many miles,’ snarled Cloudy, pausing in her knife sharpening.
‘Right. Well. About 15 miles. Give or take. As the crow flies,’ he said, turning away so she didn’t see him till his eyes.
‘Don’t fucking roll your eyes at me,’ she snapped, causing Zendar’s next mouthful to pause mid-air.
‘Wouldn’t dream of it my dear,’ he replied, swallowing audibly.
‘Good. Hard to roll them if you don’t have them.’
‘That’s enough!’ I said, jabbing a finger at her. ‘You got a pissy mood? Fuck off and take it out on the enemy. Not us, we’re your team. Your family, whether you like it or not. And I’m the Senior Agent in Charge. Clear?’
I held her cold stare. It was like looking into the eyes of a Grimm, as if she could see to the very core of my being. Heart pounding, mouth so dry it felt like a desert, I held it until she gave a nod and broke eye contact. ‘Right. Sorted. Twenty minutes and it’s time to bug out.’
‘What we got?’ I asked after I’d belly crawled twenty yards to get to Cloudy’s viewpoint.
‘Looks like more of the same we killed last night. Seems they’re led by women mostly. It’s them giving the orders and the men doing the hard work. A lot of the women look like they’re close combat specialists. No weapons other than batons and clubs, and some sort of gas cannister.’
‘What’s with all the green paint?’
‘Not sure. Seems to be there thing. As well as that inverted anarchist symbol it’s all over the place.’
I had a quick scan of the area using my sight, picking out her points. ‘Looks a bit like a Skaven symbol to me.’
‘Skaven? Where’s that?’
I sighed, ‘Don’t worry, it’s a fictional race of sentient rat beings. You get figures for them.’
She rolled over onto her side to properly face me. ‘Seriously? You’re a geek who plays with toy soldiers?’
‘No,’ I said defensively, ‘we used to use them to wargame scenarios back in training. Makes them more fun.’
‘Bet you painted them too,’ she snorted, muttering something else I was glad I didn’t hear.
I didn’t bother deigning that with an answer, returning to scoping the enemy position. They’d placed it across the road, creating a choke point. Vehicles and barricades were lined along the road, forcing any vehicles approaching to slow down, opening them up to enemy fire.
‘Reckon they use this place to tax the locals? Stop trade, keep control over the area, disrupt communications between settlements?’
‘Probably,’ she replied. ‘I can’t see any rats though.’
I ignored her sniggers, making note of the enemy positions, weak points, avenues of approach, lines of sight. Anything to drown out the sounds of her amusement.
‘This position good for you to cover our advance?’
I waited as she played her scope over the control point, muttering to herself.
‘There’s sixteen of them. Two in each of the towers nearest us, the one on the west has a minigun of all things. Four in front of the gates. Two on top of the cargo container to the south-west, three on the container to the north-east. One in each of the northern turrets.’
Her count matched mine.
I tapped her on the shoulder, and we withdrew.
‘Plan’s simple. Cloudy and Driffel engage the enemy to the south of the control point from the ridge. Turrets out in front to prevent any frontal assaults.’
‘Eight between the two of us shouldn’t be too hard,’ said Driffel. ‘It’s what, seventy-five metres?’
‘Confirmed. Myself and Zendar will make our way to the stream, and use it to approach the small bridge. We’ll signal you to open fire when we’re ready. We’ll pepper pot up the road, using the cars as cover.’
‘How long do we hold?’ asked Cloudy.
‘Until we get to the gate. We’ll hold there, as you advance up to wall to our east. It looks like you can get up onto it and into the eastern gate tower. Hold there an engage the enemy on the containers. Zendar and I will push up the western wall and kill the three in the towers. After that, we take any supplies we can find and move on.’
Rendezvous point if we’re forced to pull back?’ asked Zendar.
‘Back here. They’ll skyline themselves if they try to chase and the trees will give us good cover.’
‘Roger that,’ said Zendar, checking his weapons. ‘Good to go when you are.’
The stream barely deserved the name, it was more of a long and wet patch of earth. We’d rounded the bottom of the ridge to the east, using the trees as cover and then belly-crawled our way into the stream. From there it was a fifty-metre crawl in the mud to bridge.
‘I’m getting too old for this shit,’ panted Zendar as we rested in the shadow of the bridge.
‘Shut up. I’m older than you,’ I said. Still, I knew how he felt. The mud was as thick as oatmeal, sticking to us, burning calories and energy we couldn’t afford considering the low rations we were on.
Arms and thighs burning, I raised my head slowly, getting one last look at the objective. None of the guards appeared to have moved in the twenty or so minutes it had taken us to crawl to our starting point.
‘Good to go?’ I asked, flicking my selector switch to semi-automatic.
‘Sounds good,’ I said, smiling at what was to come next.
‘Wait, one, two, three go, or go on three?’
‘Yes,’ I chuckled. ‘Three.’ And with that I double-clicked my ISAC signalling Cloudy and Driffel to engage, pulsed, and pushed myself out of the cloying mud just in time to see the minigunner’s head explode with Cloudy’s first shot.
Pulling my last seeker mine out, I threw it as far forward as I could. Driffel had opened up by that point, his M-60 blasting the other turret, blood and debris flying into the air, bodies tumbling to the ground.
My first target presented itself, one of the enemy making a dash for the same car we were making for. I fired, putting a bullet dead centre, staggering him, a small puff of material. He was wearing a plate. I fired twice more, both bullets to his face, blowing the top of his skull off.
‘Moving!’ yelled Zendar. His shotgun roared, filling the air with shot, forcing the remaining three outside the gate to take cover behind the furthest car. My seeker reached their position and detonated, bodies and severed limbs flying through the air. One of them staggered into view, practically naked due to the blast having blown his clothes off. What cloth remained burned as he staggered around, trying to pat the flames out.
I was never quite sure, but I think I got the killing shot before the rest of my team hit him with their own shots. His body fell to the ground in chunks.
With Cloudy and Driffel’s targets as well as ours down, we were able to make it straight up to the compound’s gate. I could hear shouts and cries of alarm as our opponents within the compound tried to work out what was happening. By the count on my contact lenses, we’d killed eight opponents in just under thirty seconds.
‘Cloudy, Driffel, move up. We’re ready to blow the gate.’
‘Moving,’ Cloudy responded. I looked back to their position and saw them come sprinting out into the open. They’d be with us in under thirty seconds. I turned back to my task, placing a small charge of C4 onto the gate’s lock. It wasn’t as if the enemy would just open them up.
Cloudy and Driffel reached the point on the wall where they’d be able to climb up to the tower.
Zendar and I backed away from the blast radius of the charge, and I blew it. Such a small charge gave off a very underwhelming explosion, just enough to blow the lock to pieces with a sharp crack.
‘Driffel, you guys in position?’
‘Roger, that, engaging now.’ I smiled as his M-60 started chugging away. It was one of the most reassuring sounds of my life right now, the memory of which would comfort me for the rest of my life. However long that was.
Zendar led, switching his shotgun for his SMG. We darted through the gate and to the left, using the temporary cabin just inside as cover from the tower guards to our north. The rate of fire from the enemy on the containers was impressive; they filled the air with lead, firing as if they would never run out of ammo.
‘Contact front!’ warned Zendar as we stepped into the line of sight of the tower in the north-west corner. His SMG ripped the air, muzzle blast strobing, every one of his shots hitting home. I stepped past him on his right, sweeping my sight onto the middle tower. My target was busy shooting at Cloudy and Driffel, not even realising we were below him. I put a round into his lower intestine. As he fell I put another two rounds into his mid-inner thigh. If the gut shot didn’t kill him, the severed femur and torn femoral artery would.
Zendar moved behind me, engaging the final tower guard, his shots peppering his target. I added a couple of shots, just to be sure. Silence fell as we stopped firing.
‘Clear here. Got some good kills,’ reported Cloudy. I looked back and returned what was, for her, a cheerful wave.
A G E N T NE A R B Y reported ISAC. Zendar and I stared at each other for a second.
‘Ten minutes, sweep and clear,’ I said, heading back to the temporary hut. It had a massive padlock on it. I couldn’t be bothered to try picking it, so drew my pistol and shot it off instead.
‘Ready?’ I said to Zendar as I grasped the lock. He stood slightly off to the side so that if there was anyone inside, they wouldn’t be able to shoot him straight away. At his nod, I twisted and pulled, stepping back to pull it wide open.
‘Don’t shoot! Strategic Homeland Division! Max Wild!’