Continued from Twenty-seven: Hitting the Fan
Twenty-eight: Kitting Up
She hadn’t had a cigarette in almost ten years. How come she remembered it so vividly? Heather imagined the feel of it in her mouth, imagined lighting it, inhaling. The calm would spread. It would take her, relax her, get her down.
Heather really wanted a cigarette.
Mads’ chuckle caught her attention. “What the fuck is going through your head?”
She shook it off. “Nothing.”
“No, seriously, you totally spaced there,” Mads said. “Then you had this look on your face like . . . like I don’t know what.”
She leaned toward him. “You wanna know?”
He leaned as well. “I’m intrigued.”
That made him pause. His smile slowly slid off his face and his eyes lost their focus.
“Oh, fuck, yeah.” The grin that returned to his face had no relation to the one that had left it. “Doughnuts. Yeah. Good call. It’s been like forever.”
It was good to banter with Mads. She had missed it. He had been distant since learning she had kept secrets from him. Had that been forgotten? Forgiven, at least.
“Doughnuts?” Park finished checking on Gurung’s dressing. “You sound like a cop.”
Bandaged and looking pale, Gurung half-sat, half-lay on a reclining chair. Two intravenous drips hung from a rolling metal pole, with lines running to the needles in his arm, covered by medical tape. It could be a scene from a movie. A day and a bit had passed since he had been shot, and there he sat. He still gathered equipment and delivered intelligence, now, though, he used runners. Messages passed through multiple dead drops to his contacts in the city.
He had a lot of friends, and a lot of the city owed him favours. He had added everyone in the room to that ledger. Heather didn’t want to be the one getting the invoice on this operation.
“Do you need doughnuts?” Gurung smiled, showing bright teeth. “You know I can get anything.”
Walker looked up from oiling his brand new C8 Close Quarters Battle carbine. Gurung’s contacts had once again delivered.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Walker put aside his new toy. “You really should be resting, maybe in a hospital.”
“Hospital? With a gunshot wound?” Though he did not laugh, Gurung’s face said he wanted to do so. “That would be a good way to get me arrested, and probably get me killed. I am safe here, and I will recover. This is not the first time I have been shot.”
“Yeah, you said that.” Walker turned back to the C8 CQB. “Sorry, man, but I can’t help being mother hen.”
The C8 had been tricked out to specification, with all the SOF gear a grown kid could want, from the ACOG optical sight, to the suppressor, to the tactical light, to the fore grip. A full modern weapon for the full modern warrior.
“It’s all good for now.” Park took off the thin latex gloves she had worn. “But Walker’s right, you’d be better with professional care. Maybe not a hospital, but you seem to have access to everything. Your very discrete doctor doesn’t have a nice quiet private clinic?”
“Oh, I know a quiet private clinic,” Gurung said. “But I don’t think it will be in business much longer.”
Boyle raised an eyebrow. “Indeed.”
He stood at a table against the interior brick wall of the workroom in the newest unused industrial site which had become their safehouse. Photos of the target location covered much of that table. The information Gurung’s dead contact had provided pointed to a medical clinic on the outskirts of a commercial district. Out of the way, almost isolated, they had eyes on it for the day since the information had arrived. It didn’t see any business. It didn’t seem to have any staff. Yet this was the delivery’s destination.
Bare bulbs hanging on their wires from the rafters provided the light. Another day had died. Shades still covered the windows. Sensors covered the exterior, marking movement, catching sound. A sense of foreboding, of being in the trap filled the room. They had few conveniences—some cots, some folding chairs and tables, a cooler filled with ice and food, and a coffeemaker keeping the caffeine constant.
The focus had shifted from the long game to the sprint. Reconnaissance now existed only on the target location. One piece at a time. They had the target and they had Samson. Boyle had said that they couldn’t move on Samson, they didn’t have the intel for it, but a comment from Rudi earlier in the day remained with Heather.
“Wasn’t that the code for the operative who dropped out of Narcissus last year?” He had said.
Boyle had merely shook his head and continued delivering the game plan. He had focused on the target location, hoping it would provide further clues, hoping it would offer the bread trail.
But Narcissus pointed again to the CIA. Did Boyle know this wasn’t the same Samson? Did he care? Or did he have some other agenda, something that steered him away from Samson?
Heather needed a cigarette.
“We’re hitting the target tonight.” Boyle rested against the table, coffee mug in hand. “We’ve already planned it. You all know your places. Scott and Willow will remain on overwatch. Rudi will join in the assault, as will all of us. We’re moving one hour before their shift ends, that’s 22:00 local.”
“Not much time, then.” Park checked the coffee maker’s carafe. Empty.
“So you still want me as part of the assault? Mads scratched at the whiskers on his jawline. “I mean, I’m not exactly the high-speed type.”
“We need you there in case of parapsychic opposition.” Boyle watched Mads, his face neutral, his eyes sharp. “I know you aren’t trained for this, but I can only assume there’s going to be heavy opposition. We’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best. The worst is a shitload of parapsychs brain blasting the lot of us. With you there, we’re covered.”
“And if it’s barren?” Park asked.
“Then we’ll have a harder time trying to figure out where this all leads, won’t we.” Boyle put down his coffee. “I want to be clear on one thing—we are treating this as a hostage rescue. We’re going to assume that Cascade is in there. It’s a pipe dream, but let’s just work on that assumption. So we’re going in for hostage rescue, and that means we put down everyone that might be a threat. We go in dynamic. We don’t have time to cuff and tag. Clear the room and move, make it fast and make it kinetic.”
“But you don’t have a lot of hope Cascade is there?” Mads had moved to the table, flipping through the photos.
“Not a lot, but some,” Boyle said. “How many locations could they have in the city? How quickly would they pack her up and roll her out? We honestly don’t know, but my gut is telling me they don’t have a huge presence here, and that they’d wait for direction before mailing out a prisoner. They’d want intel, especially if this is our rogue CIA. They likely won’t know where we are, what we’ve got, and what we know. If they take the time to question Cascade, it gives us the time to get her back. She won’t be an easy break.”
“That’s the hope, then, is it?” Heather asked.
Boyle nodded. “That’s the hope. That’s the plan. Given all that, if we can get someone alive, preferably a few, that might help us out with our next step.” He picked up his body armour, which had lay on the floor beside the table, and slipped it on. “We’ll take the last two trucks. That and the sedan the overwatch team have now are the last of our vehicles, unless we steal some. Let’s try not to get these blown up.”
Heather took Boyle’s suiting up as a sign, and she retrieved her own body armour. Everyone had received requested equipment, and she had a C8A3 with all the gear, not as compact as Walker’s CQB, but it was a weapon with which she was comfortable.
She turned to Mads, who had on his armour, and held the suppressed MP5 Rudi had been using. Mads hadn’t asked for any new toys.
“Are you good with that?” She didn’t want to ask it, but Heather felt she should. Also, she really wanted to know.
“I’m rated on it, but it’s all been range time, you know?” Mads considered the weapon in his hands. “Maybe I’ll just stick to my SIG.”
Boyle tapped the barrel of the sub-machine gun. “Your SIG have a suppressor?” Mads shook his head no. Boyle did the same. “We go in as quiet as possible. If we start needing the flashbangs, feel free to switch to the SIG. Besides, I don’t expect you to do much of the shooting.”
“Probably better for everyone involved.” Mads offered a weak smile.
Park came over and patted his shoulder. She had on her armour and tactical harness. She held her tricked out Heckler & Koch G36 Commando short assault rifle loosely in her left hand. “Don’t worry, Mads, I saw you in action the other day. You’ll do fine.”
“If by fine you mean not going into a foetal position, you’re likely right,” Mads said.
With everyone kitted up, they moved to the two remaining vehicles—one van and one small SUV. The battered and bullet-ridden armoured SUV they had taken from Gurung’s contact had been ditched. Gurung had said that it was too prominent, too recognizable and might lead to trouble.
There was no way Gurung could join them, but he had a working landline telephone and indicated that he preferred to wait at the safehouse.
“Until this all blows over, I’m honestly a bit worried to stay at my place,” he had said. “Too many people know it.”
Heather, Mads and Walker took the SUV while Boyle and Park took the van. The van led and the SUV followed, Walker doing the driving through the quiet, dark streets. A block from the target, they turned off their headlights and inched to a place on the road close to their sedan.
As quiet as possible, they bundled out of vehicles and assembled. Rudi and Willow approached them. Scott followed close behind.
“Should I assume we will make the assault now?” Rudi asked.
“You should.” Boyle considered the single-story structure across the road. One set of double doors and a pair of windows facing the street, all covered with shades. No lights. “Any action?”
“A van arrived and bundled out five guys,” Willow said.
“I did a quick recce after their arrival.” Scott pointed to an alley on the left of the target building. “Turns out there’s an entrance around back. It’s got a dumpster covering it which is why we didn’t not it on initial recon. The dumpster moves easy, though. I’m betting primary movement is there. The alleys cross all this area, so there would no problem with moving unseen into and out of the clinic.”
“So we have no idea how many are in there, or what kind of traffic this place has been seeing.” Boyle massaged the bridge of his nose. “This keeps getting better and better.”
Continued in Twenty-nine: House Call