Continued from Twenty-eight: Kitting Up
Twenty-nine: House Call
Willow watched the front of the building over the telescopic sight on her Knight’s Armaments SR-25 sniper rifle. She crouched in an alleyway while Rudi stood behind her. Rudi’s VSS—a Vintorez special sniper rifle—hung at his chest on his tactical rig. A suppressed sniper weapon using heavy, sub-sonic ammunition, the VSS had an automatic fire mode. If he needed to enter the clinic and engage in close quarters battle, he felt confident with the VSS. He had used one in a tight situation previous.
A single-story structure, the target location had double glass doors and two, large windows at the front. Heavy shades covered them. Dark and silent, the building offered Rudi no clues as to its purpose. He knew it held occupants. He had seen five men, dropped off by a non-descript van—not unlike the ones Gurung had acquired—enter the building. How many would they face when the assault came, as it must?
Scott stood just behind Rudi, back against the opposite wall, watching the alley approach. He had suggested the three-man sniper team. It provided added security, something Boyle had obsessed over since the opposition had grabbed Cascade. Rudi couldn’t blame him.
Gurung had provided a couple of Heckler & Koch G36 Commando short assault rifles among his gifts. Lt. Park had taken one, Scott the other, complete with reflex sight, suppressor, and tactical light.
Hearing vehicles approaching, Rudi touched Willow’s shoulder lightly. She lowered her weapon and rose without a sound. Two vehicles, neither using headlights, came to a stop along the curb behind their sedan. Rudi went first, peeking out of the alley.
Heather, Madison Jeffries and Lt. Walker came out of a worn looking SUV, while Boyle and Lt. Park exited a van. All of them had body armour, longarms, and assault kit. Rudi, Willow and Scott approached them. The group huddled together, just inside the alley, crouched.
“Should I assume we will make the assault now?” Rudi asked.
“You should.” Boyle’s eyes were on the clinic. “Any action?”
Willow pointed to the building. “A van arrived and bundled out five guys.”
“I did a quick recce after their arrival.” Scott had his back to the huddled assembly, his eyes moving around the area, watching the approaches. “Turns out there’s an entrance around back. It’s got a dumpster covering it which is why we didn’t note it on initial recon. The dumpster moves easy, though. I’m betting this is the primary access. The alleys cross all this area, so there would no problem getting in or out of the clinic unseen.”
“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.”
On one knee, just beyond the mouth of the alley, Walker scanned the streets through the Elcan sight on his C8 carbine. “Changes the layout a bit, but not the plan. I say we go through the back.”
“Agreed.” Boyle frowned. His suppressed Heckler & Koch HK53 short assault rifle, hung at his chest on its tactical harness. “We make our entry through the back. Listen, we’re going to need overwatch at both entries, front and back. I’d like to have a shooter and a spotter, just for security, but we don’t have the manpower for that.”
“Not a problem, boss,” Willow said. “I work better alone. You know that.”
Before he spoke, Boyle grit his teeth. “In general, I agree, but I don’t like it right now.”
“You said it yourself, we don’t have the manpower.” Scott put his hand on Boyle’s shoulder. “There’s a lot of shit that can go wrong on this one, inside and out. Doesn’t matter. We work with what we’ve got. Willow covers the front and I’ll cover the back. You know I’ve got danger radar that no one is going to slip past.”
“I’m concerned about an ESPer assault,” Boyle said.
Jeffries shook his head. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’ve degraded their parapsych inventory substantially. I mean, not even Narcissus has an unending cadre of cannon-fodder ESPers. No, just like any weapon that is powerful but few in numbers, they’ll play their ESPers only when necessary. The necessary part is going to be in there.
“From what I understand, Scott and Willow will be able to pass a passive scan, so even if they’ve got ESPers coming in to support against the assault, they aren’t likely to mark either initially. If they come in really, really careful and slow, it might be a problem.”
Scott waved that off. “They won’t mark me. Not a chance. I’ve operated against ESPers before. I know the drill.”
“The same,” Willow said. “The concern is noted and appreciated, but unwarranted.”
“Good enough.” Boyle tapped Willow then Scott. “Willow, you’re covering the front. Scott, you’re covering the back. Rudi, join in the assault team. Walker takes the lead, then myself, followed by Becca, then Sinclair, then Jeffries and finally you, Rudi.”
Boyle needed to say nothing more. They had discussed the assault earlier, had decided the rules of engagement, had decided how to move and identified the objective. Willow took up her SR-25 and went to find a perch. Scott moved across the street at a crouch to find a position of his own. No one spoke for the few minutes they allowed for Scott to get into place.
Boyle pointed to the alley, and Walker moved forward. They followed in line. Jeffries did not move as smoothly or with the assurance of the others. He looked pale and clammy. Rudi reminded himself that Jeffries was not an operator. An intelligence operative, yes, but he did not have the training and the experience of the others. He had likely never participated in a building assault.
Rudi had sympathy.
They reached the door without incident. Other than the two at the front, the clinic seemed devoid of windows. Rudi had seen no other security apparatus. There were neither cameras nor sensors. Either the residents did not feel added security was necessary or they had hid it very well.
The latter possibility made Rudi exceptionally nervous.
Moving the dumpster aside proved as easy as Scott had said. Rudi cast a quick glance around the alley behind the clinic, but did not see Scott. That was good.
Walker carefully tried the door. He backed away. “It’s locked.”
Rudi let his rifle hang on its tactical harness as he took out his lock picks. “Give me a moment.”
And that was all it took. The ease with which he disengaged the lock increased Rudi’s apprehension. He stepped back, replacing the lock picks. “It was too easy. The door may be trapped.”
Boyle went to the door and began to physically search the frame. It didn’t take him long. While he did so, Rudi readied his VSS. He switched it to semi-automatic but maintained trigger discipline. He noted everyone searched the darkness around them, but none had activated their tactical lights.
Why would one alert anyone prematurely? Even if the one alerted had no connection to the target location, a call to the police would cause problems.
Boyle moved away from the door. “It’s clean. If it’s not, well, then things get more interesting.”
Walker took his place in lead, opening the door a crack, and then swinging it open. He went in as the door swung, tactical light on, weapon at the ready. Everyone followed in order, sweeping their designated sector of the room, unsure what they would find.
It looked like a storage room. A single light, hanging from the ceiling and with a hood like the brim of a metal sombrero, illuminated the area. Metal shelving holding a few cardboard boxes lined the walls. A single hallway led out of the room. Rudi heard the hum of climate controlled ventilation.
Rudi patted Jeffries’ shoulder, signalling clear. Jeffries did the same to Heather and on up the line. Walker moved forward.
Noting that Jeffries stayed a little too close to Heather. Rudi tapped him on the shoulder. “Not so close.”
Jeffries nodded his pale face. The blood seemed to have moved to his red-rimmed eyes, abandoning the rest of his complexion. Even his lips seemed bloodless.
Two doors presented themselves along the hallway, which ended about 10 metres on in an open area. Neither door was locked. When the team entered to clear each in turn, Jeffries and Rudi waited in the hall. The rooms didn’t have the space to accommodate them. Neither room held anything of interest, except for the kind of equipment one would find in a general practioners’ exam room.
The murmur of voices drifted through the hall. Rudi crouched, VSS at his shoulder. He noted Jeffries also raised his suppressed MP5. Worrying that Walker might exit the room and interfere with his coverage, Rudi took a step to the side, placing him against the left wall. Jeffries followed suit.
Two men stepped around the corner at the end of the hall. Neither noted the other occupants before Rudi put two rounds centre mass into each. Jeffries fired six times as well, only one round missing entirely. The two bodies fell to the floor. Walker exited the room, C8 at the ready. Rudi gestured for him to advance.
A claxon alarm rang through the building. The lights all died. From ahead, in the open area at the end of the hall, people shouted back and forth. Rudi could only discern the noise, not the words actually spoken. Tactical lights lit the hall as the team advanced. Jeffries let the MP5 hang from its tactical harness as he drew his SIG Sauer pistol.
Upon reaching the end of the hall, Walker and Boyle did a count before swinging into the room, angling along the corner. The suppressors did not silence all noise as their weapons fired. Park followed, sweeping the room. And the team moved forward.
The open area had a countertop-desk behind which stairs led down. Couches and chairs lined the other walls, with two small tables. A waiting room? Light leaked up from the stairwell. Two bodies sprawled at the bottom, AKMs nearby.
Boyle had a flash-bang stun grenade in hand, and tossed it down the stairs. The excessive brilliance and the deafening detonation reached out from the basement, but didn’t affect the team as it would those below.
Walker almost jumped down the stairs, and started shooting. Boyle took the stairs, firing all the way. Park moved to follow. Rudi saw her deliver but also take fire. An impact, blood staining the wall behind her, and Park fell. Heather straddled her, sweeping the room. She didn’t fire. Jeffries was there, kneeling beside her. Heather moved off the stairs, and Rudi hopped over Park and Jeffries. He turned to help Jeffries carry Park down.
“Put her down,” Boyle said. “Get ready to move.”
They stood in a room about the same size as the waiting room above. A total of six bodies lay in ever expanding polls of blood, limbs askew, weapons no longer threatening.
The room had shelving, but the shelves only held a few small cardboard boxes. An AKM lay on a bottom shelf beside a box of ammunition. The walls were cinderblocks and the floor was concrete. Rudi and Jeffries took Park to the corner of the far wall, away from the stairs.
The colour had come back to Jeffries’ face, but the red hadn’t left his eyes. “It looks bad. She looks bad.”
“You’ve got to go.” Park’s voice came weak, not much more than a whisper. She started to shiver.
Rudi checked at her throat. “Pulse is very weak. She’s losing a lot of blood. I think she’s going into shock.”
“Sinclair, do what you can for Becca.” Boyle had his hand on a panel beside the single door, on the same wall against which Park rested. “We’ve got an electronic lock here.”
“Got it.” Walker pried off the cover with his multitool and then pulled out a handheld device. He fastened wires to terminals and played on the device.
Heather had Park’s first aid kit in hand and worked on staunching the bleeding. Park gave her directions, but began to have problems finishing her sentences. The sound of the door unlocking echoed through the room.
“Stack up.” Boyle had another flash-bang in hand.
Rudi had to pull Jeffries away from Park.
She smiled up at him. “See you in a bit.”
Walker opened the door slightly. Automatic fire erupted from within. Boyle counted off then tossed in the grenade. Walker closed the door. The din of the grenade reached into the room. The team moved. Walker got hit before he got out of the room, and fell. Boyle continued forward. Rudi yanked Jeffries, pulling past him and cornering through the door.
Four bodies already lay on the ground. Boyle dropped a fifth as Rudi entered. The bodies stretched among scattered medical equipment—tables, monitors, a cabinet now perforated.
An AKM poked through the door against the far wall. A head began to follow it. Rudi took the top off that head and the AKM dropped to the ground. Rudi moved forward, putting rounds through the opening, daring anyone to try to pull that AKM in and close the door. Boyle got the message. He cooked off another flash-bang and slipped it through the opening.
Rudi crouched behind the metal-reinforced door while Boyle hugged the wall. The flash-bang went off, shaking the door. Boyle went in. Rudi followed. Jeffries behind him, SIG raised and ready. Boyle swept right so Rudi swept left. He heard Boyle fire. Rudi’s first target held an AKM, crouched down, as though vomiting. Rudi put three rounds into him, two directly through the top of his head. Jeffries fired the SIG. The second target raised a pistol—Beretta 92FS?—and so Rudi dropped him with three rounds, going for the Mozambique drill of two centre mass and one in the head.
The room was quiet. Five bodies lay on the ground. One man still stood. The room had medical equipment like the last. There was an examination table. Cascade lay on it. She was hooked up to monitors. They had been shot out. She had two IV drips hanging from poles beside her. She didn’t move. The Caucasian male wore a white coat and held a pistol—definitely a Beretta 92FS 9mm autoloader—to Cascade’s head.
“You have a chance to walk out of here.” Boyle didn’t lower his HK53.
Without speaking, Jeffries left the room. Rudi assumed he went to attend Walker.
“There’s no way you can protect me.” The Caucasian male spoke with an East Coast American accent. “I walk out of here, I’m dead.”
“We can work something out.” Now Boyle lowered his weapon. He still held it, but he no longer had it pointed at the Caucasian. “You give us the hostage, we’ll leave you here. You can make up whatever story you like.”
“What kind of story is going to explain me being alive? The Caucasian seemed to lose focus. The pistol dropped a modicum. Rudi readied the shot.
“We can think something up.” Boyle had released his weapon, holding his empty hands forward. “We don’t want you, just the hostage. We can help you.”
The barrel of the pistol dropped below the table. Boyle wanted prisoners. Rudi place the two shots into the Caucasian’s shoulder, then drove forward, tackling him. The Caucasian didn’t get off a shot. He screamed when Rudi’s hurtling body impacted his two gunshot wounds.
The Caucasian down and controlled, Rudi glanced over to Boyle. He stood at the table, checking on Cascade.
“Is she alive?” Rudi asked, fearing the answer.
Continued in Thirty: No Delilah