4th Fleet HQ, Nepleslia Prime. 1pm
The Marines had been given a week off and most had gone off-base to enjoy whatever they could spend their money on. So when they heard the news
that Admiral Valken had been taken hostage, most of them were not in position to do anything. The few Marines and sailors on and off duty at the Headquarters building, however, were all receiving summons from their superiors.
In orbit, Captain Valencia Ironside ground her teeth, looking at her ship's image of the house. The Dauntless
and any other Nepleslian warship in orbit could easily blow the house to smithereens in a single shot. But so far, the only order had been to wait until advised.
All the Marines at HQ received the same message from Chief Santiago. "Meet in armory. Now."
Leon waited patiently, fiddling with the shotgun he had grabbed earlier.
Being stuck on standby Zyv found himself with little to do and ended up doing what most grunts did when in such a situation, he rested. When the message from the chief came he sighed but all the same made good time to the armoury. Once there he snapped a salute, reported his presence and waited.
Wulfe arrived shortly after Zyv. Like the other private, he also had been on base by the same reason, and when the summon reached him and every other marine in base, he was ready within a minute’s notice. The grumpy P3C managed his way inside the armory, the perpetual frown in his face much more salient in the artificial light of the closed environment than it really was everywhere else.
Shortly after she heard the news, Phaedra received a short message from the chief on her Datajockey.
Those four words were just what she wanted to read. Phaedra strode into the armory, her brow furrowed.
“I was afraid we would have had to sit this one out, sir. What more can you tell us?” asked Phaedra with a salute. Without pausing she walked past the Chief and went straight to her locker, from which she pulled a black duffle bag. She promptly opened it and began to strap on the muted camouflage combat armor contained inside. She glanced expectantly at the Chief, waiting for an answer.
Leon held up a hand for her to wait. Laura Romero and Marines from other squads were assembling. Once they were all present, Leon took a quick count. Holmes and Watson, the inseparable duo. Kerr, his tank driver and another tanker. And three Jiyuuian Marines from Motoyama's squad. Leon vaguely recalled something about Corporal Hawkins taking his squad out for drinks. So it wouldn't surprise him to find out that the rowdy man and his squad were still asleep.
"I just got briefed by the IPG on scene. The gunmen have delivered their demands," he paused to scan their reactions. "They want six billion DA and the plans for several NAM warships as well as safe passage to Gartagen space. If it was just money, the IPG wouldn't be so concerned but they're bartering the life of our dear Admiral for warship schematics. That's not going to fly. The spooks don't trust the police but they don't want to be seen taking a direct hand in this affair.
"So we're going in hard and fast. These are the floor plans. Entrance in the front and rear, two floors. Windows on the sides of the house. The plan that IPG drew up involves waiting until dusk and then sneaking up to the entrances. Only problem is that the gunmen have demanded an answer by 4pm. It'll still be bright so we need to plan and deploy within the next two hours. When we hit, we must hit all entrances simultaneously."
Leon took a breath. "IPG has confirmed four hostages. The Admiral is in the Master Bedroom with at least one guard, the child is in her room with a guard. The spooks think the other two are either in the guest room or the kitchen. They also estimate at least eight gunmen with automatic weapons. We also have this picture," Leon passed around a photograph of an ID-SOL wearing a faded Paragon uniform.
"IPG is treating these gunmen as former Paragon so don't think this'll be easy. Sergeant Volkov, your squad and I will be the main assault element. Holmes, you and Watson will be sniping. Kerr, you and the others will be the secondary assault element. I'm open to suggestions for our assault in daylight. There's a bit of garden between the wooden fence surrounding the house so there's no cover until we get into the house. It goes without saying, they've barricaded the entrances."
After strapping herself into her combat armor, Phaedra examined the plans carefully and rubbed her chin as she thought of ways to approach this situation. It was not an easy task with the hostages at risk, but Phaedra put forth what she thought would be the most appropriate solution.
"At least for gaining access to the upper floors in a rapid manner; why not drop onto the roof and repel down to the windows for entry? My fear is that the hostiles would be expecting this, however. And it would have to be timed with entry on the bottom floor as well for success."
Wulfe sighed at the demands. It didn't take a genius to figure out how the entire thing was going to end, it would be almost comical if it wasn't an admiral who was held hostage. He folded his arms and examined the plan given out. He raised his hands and spoke, "We could get on the roof through one of the other houses, use a ladder or something like that on a side that there's no windows, then rappel and break into the house when the other teams are ready," He paused, "Are the windows also barricaded or blocked?"
Zyv clicked his tongue at the demands, his frown deepening as the chief continued his report of the situation. He listened in as the others spoke their mind, as they did not address the issue he was thinking off he sighed before speaking up.
- ‘How about making a new entrance? Cross the garden into the blind spots, plant a charge and make our entry there?’
"And risk killing the hostages in the explosion?" said Phaedra.
"Not if you use the right amount, no. It would stun them for sure." Said Wulfe. "Oh yeah, and the shrapnel. Nasty things, I heard."
"It would also alert everyone in the building to our presence. If we could confirm that the hostages were not present at said location, then I suppose it could work. But that would be the problem."
"It won't matter if we breach every room at once. They'll be neutralized before they know it." Wulfe suggested.
The man cursed inwardly as he found himself on the grill. Looking fairly uncomfortable he almost began to defend himself when others spoke up for him though the uncomfortable look on his face remained, he hated being in the centre of attention.
"I'm going to stop you there. Explosive entry would work if
we had someone who knew how to work with demolitions. Do we have anyone?" Leon asked, looking around. Kerr and his tankers shook their heads as did the Jiyuuians. Laura sighed quietly. "I can work up something. I'm not trained in it but I've got experience if you'll trust a simple plastic explosive charge," Corporal Janet Watson spoke up.
"Okay, I like the idea of a roof entry as well as a ground floor entry. Phaedra, roof or ground?" Leon asked.
"Cavaliers will perform the roof entry," replied Phaedra.
"Excellent. Holmes, if these guys are ex-Paragon, what should we expect?" Leon turned to the former mercenary. "Most of them are stupid. They focus on the short-term and don't really pay attention to any of the consequences of their actions. Probably good gun-fighting, tactical awareness skills but they're not usually smart enough to act outside of a gunfight," the somber corporal said. "Oh, and they like to posture a lot. Shoot first and don't bother to ask them to surrender," Watson added.
"Like that merc we had a while ago, Sergeant?" Laura asked innocently.
Phaedra rolled her eyes.
"Don't remind me..."
"Right, squad leaders, make your assignments, finalize your details and load up. I'll get in contact with the IPG and tell them what we need. Go!" Leon said with emphasis.
"Alright Cavaliers! Prepare for CQB and arm yourself accordingly!" said Phaedra, strapping her combat knife to her chest, just to the left of the word "WOLF" painted on with white paint. Phaedra had never actually had time to familiarize herself with the IAW, and so she grabbed from her locker theGSAR-M1
that she had used in the past. She affixed a suppressor to the weapon's muzzle and then inserted a fresh magazine, sliding back on the bolt to load a round into the chamber. Phaedra then proceeded to load the pouches on her belt with several spare magazines, as well as clipping four flash-bang grenades onto her harness. As an afterthought, Phaedra grabbed a gas mask as well; she hoped it would not be necessary.
Laura bounded happily to grab a suit of Styrling Muur armor and one of the cute .357 Zen SMGs. That and her ESG would be sufficient in terms of firearms. Her personal axe was still in her room so Laura grabbed a spare combat axe
from the armory shelves. And spare ammo. Lots of ammo. She slipped into the bulky armor over her small frame and put the helmet on, feeling like a burrito. But that was hardly going to faze the Universe's Most Brilliant Medic. Laura quickly snatched as many stun and relaxant grenades as she could, stuffing them and full magazines into the armor's pouches. Then she realized that if she was going to use the relaxing gas, she'd need a gas mask and grabbed one off the shelves.
Wulfe moved out, grabbing a suit of armor for himself and the .357 submachinegun. As he got to one knee to inspect the weapon, he detached the stock and attached the silencer to it. The last thing he wanted was for the bullets to go through his targets and hit one of the hostages, and the silencer helped him by slowing down the bullets just so that they would still kill whatever they hit. He holstered his .45 pistol on his right thigh, and procceeded to put on the rest of the armor and, just for good measure, attached his combat knife to the left side of his vest and a gas mask hanging from his belt on his back. When he was done, he reached down, grabbed his submachinegun and slung the bandolier over his neck, leaving the weapon casually hanging accross his chest. He stuffed extra ammo for his SMG on the front pouches along with one flashbang.
Receiving his orders he moved to carry them out. He immediately got himself into his Styrling Muur armour and strapped on the torso piece and helmet, painted his conventional olive grey. With his standard .45 as a siderarm in a crossdraw position he opted for the CQBS-A2 (shortened version) as the main weapon, lots of ammo (a mixture of buck and slug in well marked mags) along with plenty of stun grenades and his combat knife. Tying his chieche scarf around his neck he jumped a few times and tightened anything that might seem loose. That done he slipped on his webbing and repeated the process of ensuring it fit properly. Satisfied he took a gasmask, checked it's intact and shoved it into its container along with several filters before strapping the bag to his leg.
Leon returned with a grin. "The IPG are onboard with the plan. They're diverting air traffic over the area and they're having helicopters buzz the house every few minutes to make it difficult for the terrorists to hear stuff. That way, when we insert via heli, they'll think its just another helicopter buzzing them. Sergeant Volkov, who is your pointman?" he asked as he quickly grabbed a suit of armor
Phaedra glanced at her squadmates and then thought for a moment.
"Why don't you show me what you can do, sir, and take point for the squad?"
"My pleasure, Sergeant. Who doesn't want to show off to a sexy lady?" Leon asked, looking at the male squad members of the Cavaliers. He pulled a shotgun
, attached a bayonet lug and magazine tube extension to give seven shells in the magazine and one up the spout. Leon quickly checked his .45 pistol and stuffed more magazines and shotgun shells into his pouches. He also grabbed three stun grenades and a gas mask.
Phaedra blushed very obviously before putting her hand in front of her mouth and clearing her throat.
Sawyer came racing down the hall skidding as he slammed to a halt at the armory, moving instintively to his collection of gear that he'd stockpiled in his locker, pulling out his IAW kit, his M'cel grenade launcher with grenades that he'd picked up on the black market, a number of plasma grenades which he spread across his gear. Then he grabbed a matte black set of body armor and a pack, which he began filling with ammunition and a substantial quantity of explosives which he began forming into breaching charges to use on the doors of the building. He also grabbed his .45 and a couple of magazines for it as well.He also grabbed his DSAR
and a couple of boxes of ammunition for it.
Corporal Watson rushed up to Sawyer. "Woah, woah, what are you doing, Private? This is hostage rescue, not hostage kill," she said.
Sawyer look over at her, "Well Corporal we are dealing with armed and armored ID-Sols who may be former paragon agents, better to have enough to deal with anything they hit us with before we get into the actual building and have to start going room to room clearing it. Just in case they set something as a trap for us before we get in, these grenades will set it off without us being in the blast radius" he replied as he continued pulling equipment out and shoving it into his bag, including a selection of detonators and an absurd amount of duct tape.
"No no no," she interrupted Sawyer. "We're breaching the wall, use plastic explosives. This is a wooden house, you don't need plasma!
Sawyer shrugged and pulled the 5 grenades that he'd pulled out of the full case in his locker and carefully placed them back into the crate. He then turned and started grabbing a number of improvised smoke bombs and a set of flashbangs for use once inside the house. He also made sure to have his utility combat knife on his side just in case.
"Okay, give me the explosive charge. Your squad is doing a roof entry, Corporal Kerr's going in through the wall. Get over there," Watson pointed to Leon and the rest of the Cavaliers.
Sawyer handed over a monstrosity of a wall breaching charge set up in a ring to cause a large chunk of the wall to be essentially cut out in a large enough region to allow a normal sized nepleslian step through unhindered and made his way over to rejoin the rest of the
Leon pulled the other members of the Cavaliers aside. "Okay, I go in through the kid's room window first. Who goes in through the guest room? Sergeant, you know your men. Volunteer one of them."
"Rakowski, you go into the guest room."
- 'Roger that, sergeant.'
"Sergeant, is it really a good idea to let only one person breach a room?" Wulfe asked, raising his hand from where he was.
"We will be using flash-bangs and will have the element of suprise. More than one person for the smaller rooms should not be needed."
"Okay, Sergeant, I want you and Romero to enter through the master bedroom windows once i radio that we're ready to breach it from the hallway. That way, we hit them from multiple sides. Hopefully they're too disoriented to react fast enough. Any questions, anyone?" Leon said, looking at all the Cavaliers.
"None, sir," replied Phaedra.
Zyv merely shook his head to show he didn't.
Making his way over to the group Sawyer raised his hand and asked "Sir, what are we to do if the hostage takers decide to use the Admiral or a member of his family as a human shield?"
"Shoot their gun hand," replied Phaedra.
"Works like a charm. But it only works if you don't miss," she said with a slight smirk.
"I'd personally use a pistol and pop them in the head but it only works if you are good with a pistol. Right, I'm going to check in with the other squads. Meet me at the roof in ten minutes, Sergeant," Leon said, leaving the group. But not before he slapped Phaedra's butt. "For good luck," he grinned as he walked by.
Phaedra was shocked for a moment, and then glared daggers at the Chief.
Laura watched amused and giggled. "Should we all slap your butt for good luck?" she asked mischievously.
"I have never hit a woman before..." said Phaedra, glaring at Laura.
Wulfe couldn't help but to let out a suppressed laugh at the situation, specially after Laura's comment. "Maybe I've picked the right job after all." He said to himself. If anything, the gesture increased everyone's morale.
Zyv snorted and coughed in an attempt to not burst out laughing. As a general rule laughing at ones sergeants expense did not bring luck, maybe a slap around the head but not luck.
With a sigh and a roll of her eyes, Phaedra slung the sling for the GSAR over her shoulder and promptly exited the armory.
Private John Karrelik sprinted into the fourth fleet HQ's conveniently-located armory, just in time to get shouldered by Phaedra as she stalked past him. Well gosh, this should be a wonderful mission
he remarked to himself in his own head. He wondered briefly if the sergeant was always this 'stoic', which usually meant an attitude problem of some kind. Then he dismissed such insubordinate thoughts and turned his attention to the rest of the room. "Sorry I missed the briefing. What's the general situation?" He called to the room, hoping someone would answer.
"They got the Admiral held as an hostage." Wulfe stated the obvious.
"Just get your ass into armor and get a CQB weapon! We got places to be, people to kill!" Laura yelled angrily. John began running to the suits of power armor arrayed along the wall until he heard "I mean body armor, not your power armor, dummy!" Should've figured
, he chided himself, and ran to the adjacent wall at the same speed, pulling a suit of armor off the hooks on the plain wall.
Glancing around Zyv sighed as he saw nobody in a rush to answer the new comers question and so followed Karrelik giving him a brief rundown on what was going on in a tone suggesting boredom.
- 'Admiral and family held hostage, 4 total, we're going in via roof while another team goes in through ground floor. Lots of well armed baddies and we're restricted to small calibre. I'm sure the sarge or Chief will brief you fully...'
"Right. So basically we're just doing the cop's job for them, then?" John prompted, neutrally. "Doesn't matter, I do best with low recoil weaponry at melee range." Quietly, John put on his armor before turning to the various weapons arrayed along the opposite wall, in racks sticking out perpendicularly. Studying it for a full minute, he weighed up the various options and looked around the room. Two shotguns missing, no more needed. Automatic weaponry would serve a more useful purpose. Assault rifles are too cumbersome. Ergo, submachine gun.
John grabbed an automatic weapon
from the rack and sat on the benches on the armory floor, waiting on the order to move.Nepleslia Prime, 3pm
The 4th Fleet Marines, minus the Cavaliers, rolled up to the besieged house and piled out, entering the adjacent house and waiting behind the wooden fence separating two homes. Corporals Holmes and Watson set up their sniping position across from the home, replacing the Prime City PD snipers there.
Overhead, two Corona gunships flew low over the house and began circling. A commercial jet plane was also flying in low atmosphere to distract the hostage takers. This pattern had been going on for the past hour.
The Cavaliers, in a K7 helicopter
, arrived over the house and the Cavaliers quickly slid down the rope at the rear of the vehicle onto the roof and got into position above the two rooms they planned to breach. Leon clipped his descent rope to a sturdy drain pipe running along the roof. "Cavaliers in position. All units report."
"Lavengers ready." "Irregulars, eyes on." "Holmes, once we enter, take the shot." Leon looked at the Cavaliers around him to check their status. He thought it was odd that Kerr had combined the Lancers/Avengers name. Leon held his pistol in his right hand.
Phaedra glanced at Laura on the adjacent window and nodded to her.
"Volkov and Romero ready," she whispered. Phaedra tightened her grip on her GSAR, ready to use it when the order came.
"Hopefully this goes better than the casino mission?" Laura squeaked, remembering how terrified she had been during that mission without a single weapon. Now she had two fully loaded and live sub-machine guns. Could the terrorists hear them up here?
Sawyer rechecked his gear one more time, making sure his pistol was secure in his holster but still able to be drawn in a hurry. He also checked to ensure that everything was loaded and set up for his rifles, he made sure that he had a set of heavy armor piercing rounds stocked in the front of his gear for his DSR, he also did one final look over his cybernetic leg and made sure that his hand engraved phrasing was visible on it.
Almost as soon as the marines boots hit the roof Zyv moved out of the way of the others and secured his descent line. With a final check of his gear he took his position and looked to his co-breacher.
He asked as much to confirm it as to ease some of the tension he was feeling.
Sawyer looked over at Zyv and drawled "Of course Ah'm ready, are you?" With that he pulled his IAW off his back and loaded a magazine and chambered his first round, ensuring that it was still on safe just to make sure.
Wulfe did a last weapons check, checking the magazine of his SMG one last time and feeling it's weight. he clipped himself to the rope and waited behind Leon, "Stones ready." He said. Again, he was too nervous to think of any small talk. What a hell of a first deployment, eh?
He thought sourly, and then waited as his heart started to beat in a very uncomfortable manner inside his ribcage.
Karrelik spent a lot of time standing perfectly still. He found that odd, sometimes. He supposed it was a side effect of having his adrenaline completely shut off, though he fully intended to rev his glands once he got into the building. His weapons were already loaded, his armor was already strapped on and he was all ready to go while these supposed veterans were fumbling with straps and pulleys. He took a few steps forward to his own designated position by the roof's edge and waited. Then, a calm came over the house as everyone was suddenly ready. John switched off his retinal enhancement and waited, though not for long. "Private Karrelik, ready," he called.
"In three, two, one. GO GO GO!" Leon ordered as he kicked off and rappeled down. After two hops, he crashed through the window in the little girl's room. The kid had been tied to her bed and Leon caught the guard in the room by surprise. Instinctually, Leon raised his pistol from his crouching position and fired two shots at the man's head, killing him instantly. Leon paid little attention to the kid, only to check that she was alive. "Kid secure," he reported.
With a deep breath Zyv kicked off the roof and came down through the window quickly and entering the room in a rain of glass. Even before his boots hit the floor his gun went up and he scanned the room through the iron sights. Seeing a man with a weapon he centered the sights on his chest and pulled the trigger, the shot punching into his chest sending the target staggering back. He slammed against the wall, coughed and slid to the ground looking at the marines with what seemed to be an accusing glare even as he stopped breathing.
Zyv reported over the comm.
"Sergeant, do you miss Bernhard?" Laura whispered.
"Not. Now. Romero," whispered Phaedra.
Sawyer rappelled in through the window that Zyv had just breached, landing lightly and scanning the room as he pulled his rifle out again and leveled it at the door just in case someone reacted to the gunfire and came through the door before they were fully prepared.
Karrelik grabbed the rope and threw himself over the edge of the roof, swinging in through the window and entering the already broken window into what he was assured was the guest room. The opened corpse of a guard stared at the window, looking like he'd just realized he'd been stood up by his significant other. John quickly moved past him with his gun held up and at the ready and took his position as ordered. Three, two, one.
, and just like that, Wulfe was on the move, the edginess was then completely replaced by the training that was drilled into his head when during basic; Nevertheless, everything was just a blur, two hops later and he crashed into the room behind Leon, unclippint himself from his rope and getting on one of his knees, panning his SMG left and right. He gave a quick look to the little girl, checking to see if she wasn't harmed, and then watched the door leading to the stairs.
With Sawyer covering the door and Karrelik taking his position Rakowski moved to the closet, shotgun trained on it. Satisfied it was empty he lined up next to the bedrooms door.
Leon entered the hallway, having swapped his pistol for the shotgun. He looked back to see Wulfe enter. "Watch the stairs!" he ordered the Marine. Suddenly the house shook violently as the breaching charge exploded below them. Gunfire erupted immediately downstairs as the other assault squad entered.
Wulfe got up, staggering for a moment as the house shook with the breaching charges. He hoped for a second that the charge wasn't a little too strong, but then got on his feet and moved outside the room, his SMG always pointing towards where he was looking, his body slightly bent forward. He moved out of the room and aimed at the stairs, anyone trying to reach the second floor that wasn't friendly would have a hard time getting there in one piece.
Leon moved right up to the door of the master bedroom, where the Admiral was last known to have been. Stack up on me
he ordered Zyv, Sawyer and John with a hand signal.
Sawyer moved to be the second man in the stack, tapping Leon on the shoulder and showing him the flashbang in his hand.John took up position standing behind him along the wall without missing a beat and tapped Sawyer on the shoulder.
Zyv took his position tapping John on the shoulder to signal he's ready.
"Breaching, breaching!" Leon shouted, firing into the door lock and opening it for Sawyer to throw the flashbang.
"That's our cue to countdown!" Laura said, tightening her rope and holding her SMG in one hand. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
Sawyer leaned past Leon and tossed the grenade into the room, making sure it bounced off the wall and made a number of bounces to ensure that the enemy could not throw it back out at them, ducking back to avoid being blinded by the flash. The grenade exploded and shouts could be heard from inside the room.
Phaedra hopped slightly and then plunged her boots through the window, detaching from the rope and raising her GSAR to her shoulder. She quickly identified the targets before her in the room. Two armed and armored men dressed in faded Paragon uniforms were blinking their eyes, trying to adjust to the sudden flash. The bathroom door was shut.
Phaedra rapidly fired two rounds at each man in a uniform, taking each man in chest, causing them to stagger.
Laura followed the sergeant, ready for trouble. "Nepleslian Marines! GET ON THE GROUND!" she yelled loudly. At the same time, Leon and the other Marines entered room, sweeping. Without hesitation, Chief fired his shotgun at the nearer of the two, hitting him in the chest and knocking him over. The other ex-mercenary began firing his submachine gun wildly at the Marines, forcing them to get low.
Phaedra went down on one knee and fired a three round burst at the second assailant's midsection, quickly dropping him. Laura opened fire at the same target.
A ID-SOL dressed in Paragon garb came up the stairs holding a shotgun but ducked down before Wulfe could shoot. He began firing through the woodwork to dislodge the Marine.
Wulfe saw the ID-SOL coming up the stairs, he squeezed the trigger of his weapons, but by the time he actually fired, the man was already taking cover, making the bullets hit the woodwork harmlessly. He didn't get back into cover, and when the ID-SOL fired again, one of the bullets hit the wall next to him, sending splinters flying and some of them hitting the marine on the face, prompting him to duck back into cover and wait for the enemy to reload.
Sawyer realizing that the ID-SOL on the stairs had taken cover behind heavy wooden steps pulled out his DSR and made sure that one of his 200 Grain heavy rounds was the first chambered and began a carefully aimed shot at the location that the shotgun was being fired from.
The shot took the ID-SOL through his left shoulder and he cried out in pain before retreating downstairs. The sounds of gunfire were still echoing from downstairs. "Four bad guys barricaded in the living room! Shit, they've got NMX particle beam rifles!" Kerr swore over the radio.
Meanwhile, Karrelik ran past his flank and sprinted into the Master Bedroom behind Leon, spraying brief bursts of fire at the two obvious targets at the other end of the room whille he took up position next to Leon before bracing his gun on his arm and taking time to properly aim. The enemies has already taken several hits with much larger guns and didn't pose any immediate threat. He quickmarched to the bathroom door, gun trained on the obvious entrance as he took a position along the wall, ready to take out anyone who tried to come out quickly.
Hot on Johns's heels Rakowski entered the room, eye on the iron sight, as he covered part of the room. With the Tangos already hit several times and DOA he trained his sight on the bathroom door.
Assuming that the general viscinity around the stairs on the first floor was vacant of any friendlies, Wulfe took one of his flashbangs and broke out of cover momentarily, throwing it accross the cover being used by the ID-SOL and listening the thumps
it did as it bounced from the steps.
"Goddamn! Who threw that flash! Back, back!" a Marine from downstairs yelled.
With both men down, Leon moved quickly to the bathroom door. "Check them," he ordered and signaled to Zyv to prepare a stun grenade.
Phaedra rose to her feet and kicked the weapons out the hands of the prone mercenaries. She checked both of them for signs of life, nudging their faces with the muzzle of her GSAR.
John ran across the room and took a position adjacent to the door, preparing for the obvious course of action.
With a nod, the marine took his position let his CQBS rest as he pulled a grenade free and pulled the pin, now only his hand kept the weapon safe. That done he signaled he was ready.
Leon fired again at the door handle and nudged it open so that Zyv could throw the grenade.
The moment the door was open enough Rakowski threw the grenade into the bathroom, his hands moving to draw his .45 the moment the grenade was airborne.
As soon as the flash came, John sprinted through the loose door and pointed his gun into the room, ready to fir at the guy sitting... tied up... wait, don't shoot
, he realized.
It was the Admiral. "THE ADMIRAL'S HERE!" He called to his squadmates. He was already moving towards the admiral as they followed him in.
Leon followed John. "Cut him loose!" he ordered John. "I noticed I was in here, Private," Dominic Valken said dryly. They had really gone to town on the Admiral. He looked terrible with bruises, a black eye, torn uniform and a bloody, swollen lip. But his eyes were still full of the terrifying fire that made Leon very afraid of what the Admiral was going to do next.
Hot on Santiago's heels Zyv entered, training his pistol in any direction not yet covered, pointing a gun at an empty bathtub may seem somewhat excessive but you never know.
With the room clear he put the pistol back into its holster and took to his shotgun again.
Ever lacking a sense of humor, John quickly sliced the ropes while stating "I was speaking to the marines in the other room, sir, not you," in a totally neutral tone of voice, apparently oblivious to the joke at his expense. Quietly, he stood at attention in front of the wall directly to the Admiral's left.
Sawyer remained in position, covering the stairs while racking the bolt and loading another heavy round into the chamber of his rifle. If anyone happened to stick their head up over the top of the stairs he was prepared to remove the top of said head.
Hearing that the Admiral was safe, Phaedra sighed in relief. But she thought there were still hostiles downstairs.
"Kerr, what is your status?" asked Phaedra.
"These guys are holed up tight. And they've got the two hostages. I think they've got gas masks cos they're not letting up on their fire and we've been tossing relaxant gas grenades. And we can't get close cos of the particle beams, just burning through the wood."
"Volkov to Holmes, do you have eyes on the hostiles on the first floor? Repeat, do you have eyes on the hostiles on the first floor?"
"Negative, they've got furniture between them. I can't tell who's who on thermal with so much heat in that house."
"Copy that," replied Phaedra, striding over to the doorway out of the room. She caught eyes with the Admiral and saluted.
Wulfe peered out of cover again, taking a quick glance back at the stairs and waited for the ID-SOL to pop back up. He glanced towards Sawyer and then back to the stairs, keeping his SMG pointed towards it. Maybe if the other marine gave him covering fire he could go around the stairs and get the drop on the ID-SOL. He discarded the idea.
"Second floor secure," Leon reported. Then he noticed a beautifully engraved Zen 45 compact pistol. He picked it up and handed it to the Admiral. "Your pistol, sir." Valken took the handgun and checked that it was loaded. "Chief, order your Marines downstairs to hold their positions." Leon promptly relayed the orders.
Valken walked out of the bathroom and adjusted his peaked cap. "Private Aubrey, I want a demolition charge in that bathroom to give us an entry to the ground floor. You and Private Romero are in charge up here. Volkov, Santiago, with me. Do NOT detonate without an order from the Chief but I want all of you to be ready to make an insertion." Valken headed into the hallway and saw Wulfe. Leon followed behind.
"Yes sir," said Phaedra, snapping off her salute. She followed the Chief and the Admiral out into the hallway.
Hearing this, John quickly marched out of the bathroom and waited with his gun by his waist, ready to shoot in any particular direction if he had to.
Standing clear of the admiral Rakowski followed the others out of the bathroom and took a position in the bedroom while awaiting further orders.
"Yes sir" Sawyer replied as he slid back from his position and picked his rifle back up and reslung it before heading to the bathroom and pulling out a collection of plastic explosives and detonating cord from his pack, setting it out on the floor and assembing a demolition charge to cut through the wooden floor and drop the chunk onto anyone directly below. He then placed a detonator and a redundant one just in case and wired them both to trigger upon receipt of order from chief Santiago.
"Private Stones, follow me," Valken said as he descended the stairs. Corporal Kerr looked to see the Admiral descend as though he owned the place. Valken just waved Kerr back.
"Yessir." Wulfe said, surprised that the admiral knew him, a lowly trooper, by name. For one, he was worried about the admiral - the main reason the marines were pulled out for that operation - go down, but he wasn't just about to question a senior officer. He followed the admiral, not staying farther than two feet away from the man and aiming his SMG over Valken's shoulders. Just in case.
"Boobinsnatch, I know you can hear me! It's over! All that's going to happen is you die!" Valken shouted as he pulled out his pistol. The particle beams and gunfire ceased. "Game over, man, game over!" Valken continued as he walked into the living room, to the horror of Leon and the watching Marines. Still, pistol ready, Leon followed the Admiral into the living room. "Boobinsnatch?"
thought Phaedra. And then she saw the Admiral walk down the stairs.
"Shit, what is he doing!
" thought Phaedra, following behind Leon, rifle at the ready.
"Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! We're still getting out of here! I still got your brother and his bitch!" a large ID-SOL was holding a pistol to the head of a man who looked like a younger version of the Admiral in civilian clothes. Another man, a regular Nepleslian, held the man's wife at gunpoint. "So, I want a helicopter and a trip to Gartaga or else!" The other two hostage takers, one of them the ID-SOL wounded by Sawyer, poked their weapons out. Leon held his pistol steady at the Nepleslian holding Mrs. Valken hostage.
Phaedra aimed at the gun hand of the ID-SOL holding the Admiral's brother hostage, ready to take him out should the need arise.
"Aubrey, is that charge ready?" Leon asked quietly over his radio.
Wulfe raised his SMG, trailing it from the ID-SOLs head to the other man holding the admiral's brother's wife once he saw that Phaedra had already targeted the larger ID-SOL. He casually slid his finger back to the trigger, ready to fire.
"Yes sir, it's ready and prepped" Sawyer replied as he pulled out his data jockey and prepared to hit the detonate code. John shifted slightly behind him, getting ready for the explosion.
With the need to enter via the ceiling seeming very real Zyv removed the current magazine in the CQBS, put it into his thigh pocket and rammed in its place one containing slug rounds, as he made ready for a quick entry.
"Look, Boobinsnatch, you're not getting jack. The government wouldn't negotiate when you had me, they're not going to do that now that I'm free. Kill me and you're all dead," Valken said, raising his pistol. He glanced at Leon and gave a slight nod.
"Go go go," Leon said as he and the Admiral fired their pistols at the same time.
Phaedra fired at the ID-SOL's hand as soon as the order was given, squeezing off a single round and causing him to drop his weapon.
Everything seemed to happen to him in slow motion, Wulfe squeezed the trigger, feeling the weapon recoil give him a weak kick on his right shoulder, he didn't quite notice the sign, but instead fired as a reaction to the admiral's shot.
Both men holding the hostages fell backwards, releasing the hostages from their grasp.
Sawyer pressed the code in as he ducked around the corner as the charge detonated with a thunderous CRUMP!
and the portion of the floor that it was set on shattered and flew down like a number of hypervelocity spears. As it detonated he pulled his rifle back off his back and readied himself to drop down the hole.
Behind him, John raised his SMG and ran past Sawyer, who apparently felt the need to ready himself to obey an order in a combat situation. Throwing himself into the living room with gun held out to fire as soon as he'd landed and could actually aim.
The explosion and falling debris knocked the remaining two hostiles before they could open fire. The Marines dropped in. In the close quarters, it was a relatively simple matter to quickly place two quick bursts into the hostiles John was facing, towards what he thought was the back of the room in all the flying dust and debris but didn't. He was unable to see who was a hostage and who was a hostile. So instead, he pounced on the first person he saw and wrestled them to the ground. Pulling his knife in one quick motion as he wrestled the man down, he raised it up and stabbed it down on the armored merc held beneath his minimal bodyweight. The ID-SOL roared as the knife stabbed into him and threw John off him. John tried to use the momentum to get to his feet, but stumbled and fell to the ground as the wounded ID-SOL got up and apparently somehow got angrier.
Laura jumped down at the same time, yelling "GO GO GO!" and landed atop the fourth hostile and wrestled with him.
- 'GO, GO, GO!'
Rakowski joined the cry as he moved down, neatly moving out of the way and sweeping his CQBS up, setting the iron sights on the chest of the nearest armed target. Like the other Marines, Zyv found it too difficult and too clustered to see what going on so he just tackled another body. Pushing his opponent back he moved his hand down and pulled his knife free. "Stop no no! I'm not a terrorist!" the man yelled frantically. The call stopped the knife short as the young marine hesitated. As he looked at the man, he saw that he wasn't wearing the Paragon uniforms like the others.
- 'Stay down. Stay silent.'
He hissed as he pushed the man to the ground and looked around for anybody who could offer him assistance while keeping a restraining hand on the apparent hostage. With fighting still going on Zyv turned his attention to his prisoner again and now found the visibility had improved enough for him to recognize the man as one of the hostages. Pulling the man to a crouched position he began to talk.
- 'Mr. Valken, I'm going to lead you out now. Stay low and keep with me.'
Moving with the younger Valken between the wall and his armoured self Rakowski took him out of the fighting where he handed the younger Valken to other marines. That done he sighed, turned around and went back into the mess.
Panting, John turned on his adrenaline valve and rolled over as fast as he could while the ID-SOL's boot came down on his head. John scrambled to his feet as the boot came down just shy of his shoulder, then slashed at the SOL's midriff as quickly and wildly as he could, forgetting his combat training for the moment. The ID-SOL staggered but continued to swing at John with his fists. One punch managed to connect and took the wind out of John who staggered backwards to catch his breath and put distance between him and this deadly opponent.
Valken signaled the Marines with him to advance on the hostage takers. Leon surged forward with his knife in one hand and pistol in the other. He immediately jumped onto the wounded ID-SOL named Boobinsnatch, only to be thrown against the wall by the powerful ID-SOL.
Phaedra ran towards the ID-SOL that attacked Leon and smashed the butt of her GSAR into her assailant's face. She then followed up with a knee to the man's groin.
Leon recovered quickly and returned to the fight by stabbing Boobinsnatch in the back with his knife. As he pulled the blade out, he saw blood as the ID-SOL collapsed in pain from Phaedra's attack. But then he pulled a large knife, or a small machete, from his boot and tried to swing at Phaedra's legs. The plucky clone only managed to avoid amputation with a quick jump as Leon stomped on Boobinsnatch's hand.
Wulfe still had the presence of mind to flip his gun safety on so that it wouldn't discharge by accident and let it hanging from it's bandolier. He unholstered his sidearm and followed Phaedra, moving to check on the man he shot instead of the one she had gone after. He fired twice at the man's chest, making sure he was dead for good, and then reached down and wrenched the hostage out with his free hand, taking the woman away from the mass of bodies and away from the mess.
Sawyer finished putting his demo gear away and dropped down through the hole after the others scanning the room with his rifle at the ready just in case there was a hostile that someone had missed.
"Help me!" Laura yelled as she fought as best she could against her larger opponent. She was losing the fight. This terrorist outweighed her by a lot and she had no momentum anymore to carry her. Where was Bernhard when she needed him? Somehow the cry got through Rakowski despite the general noise and he quickly found the source. With three long steps he was at the fight. The order to take prisoners in his head he grabbed a handful of the Paragons hair, yanked his head back and punched him hard in the kidney, repeatedly. Combined with Laura's attacks they had the man limp quickly. With one last punch Zyv shoved the paragon to the side, kicked him for good measure before kneeling next to the other marine.
"Yeah," Laura gasped, gulping for air.
Phaedra shifted the grip on her GSAR to her right hand and balled her cybernetic left hand into a fist. With a growl, Phaedra drew back her fist and hammered it up into the ID-SOL's jaw, knocking the giant unconscious from a powerful uppercut. "Very nice. I love a woman who can throw a punch like that," Leon commented.
"I'm not sure I like a man that can get thrown across a room," countered Phaedra with a smirk. "I have many other talents," Leon said as he turned to see how the others fared.
Wulfe manhandled the woman behind him and dragged her out of the combat towards the kitchen. Once she was clear, Wulfe turned around towards the rest of the mess, and then glanced back at the woman, "Get out of here, there is a cordon outside. Go!" He said, not bothering to turn around and then proceeded back into the fray. It was unusual of him, who months before - before joining the NMSC - would've just walked away and not have lost a pang of sleep over it. But instead, he chose to go back. The woman was grabbed by Kerr and his squad and ushered to a safer part of the house.
Sawyer jumped into the fray with John and the ID-Sol, adding his knife to the ones the ID-Sol had to wory about, slashing at the back of the man's leg in an attempt to hamstring him and bring him down to their level to make it easier to deal with him. The knife wound drew blood from the ID-SOL's right arm. Blinded by his blood rage, the ID-SOL swung at Sawyer with his fist but missed. The Paragon ID-SOL pulled out a large serrated combat knife and swung again at Sawyer, cutting deep into his armor but doing no harm.
Desperately trying to get his bearings, John turned and realized he wasn't being chased. Instead, the marine he had seen in the bar yesterday was holding off the ID-SOL who was about to kill him before. Thinking fast, he darted in past the rage-blinded opponent's flank, using his short stature to his advantage as he brought his knife up into the space below the merc's ribcage as hard as he could, like all those old tales he had read of a knight slaying a dragon
, he remarked to himself in grim humor.
The ID-SOL collapsed to all fours but was still alive. He remained motionless, bleeding profusely but still supporting himself. His breathing was erratic and labored, like he was fighting to stay alive. Admiral Valken had closed the distance between himself and the combat at the far end and stood over the ID-SOL. "Go help the others, I've got this one," he said to John and Sawyer. The Rear Admiral gave a swift, hard kick to the ID-SOL's stomach, knocking him over. "Boot's on the other foot now!" the Admiral growled.
John considered telling the admiral point blank to just execute the poor soul and have done with it, then thought better of it and ran to Laura. "We okay over here?" he quickly asked the panting couple of marines. "Yeah, yeah, golden" Laura said as she got to her feet and picked up her SMG. 'Looks it.' Zyv stated pulling back the hand he was on the verge of offering to Laura and instead using it to grab a hold of the paragon they had downed and checking his vitals.
Wulfe emerged from the second floor, carrying the little girl on one of his arms. He gave a quick glance to the mess in the living room, partly regretting to have missed most of the fun, but then simply carried on and moved out of the house towards the cordon.
"Pick these bastards up and let's call it a day," Leon ordered the Marines. "All's clear. Hostages secured, hostiles neutralized. Endex, endex," Kerr reported over the radio.
"Bloody hell, tell me when someone's coming out! I almost shot that idiot who walked out with the girl!" Watson exclaimed right after that transmission.
Leon looked at the ID-SOL, Boobinsnatch, and walked to the Admiral standing over the other wounded ID-SOL. "Sir, let's go," Leon said, leading the Admiral out of the house and to the police cordon. "Sergeant, I want all three of these guys taken outside to the IPG. Kerr, sweep the house and bring the dead ones outside. Make sure we didn't miss anything. Good job, Marines," he said before leaving the house with the Admiral.
Shutting off his adrenaline as quickly as he had turned it on, John followed Leon as he headed towards the exit. With nothing else to do, he exited the building and waited at the cordon as his venting system started to make him sweat like a pig. He spied a man in marine's fatigues but no armor cradling a gun and looking at the entrance. Quietly, he flicked on the safety and started partially disassembling and reassembling his gun over and over.
"Oi, you, help me pick up this stupid lump!" Laura said to Zyv, picking up the unsconscious Nepleslian's legs. With a sigh implying an extreme level of world weariness Rakowski double checked his CQBS was on "safe" before grabbing the tangos arms.
- 'On three.' On the three he and Laura lifted with a grunt.
- 'Remind me the next time I beat a man to leave him with enough sensess to crawl on his own.' He muttered to himself more than to anybody else though it seemed Laura heard him. "Yeah sure. You'll have to remind me to do that," Laura replied.
Boobinsnatch stirred and started to regain consciousness. Phaedra set her GSAR on safe and put the sling over her head and shoulder.
"Someone give me a hand with this piece of shit," pulling out her sidearm and forcing it into the ID-SOL's mouth.
"One wrong move, and I fire this into your brain. Please do try something..." Phaedra said coldly to Boobinsnatch. One of the Marines from Kerr's squad came by and helped her bring the ID-SOL out of the building. She pulled the gun out of his mouth and placed it on the top of his head while she dragged him towards the police cordon.
Sawyer leaned over the ID-Sol who was still bleeding and took his arms and duct taped them together just to be on the safe side, then worked on lifting him up and dragging him towards the door. An ID-SOL police officer rushed up to help Sawyer once he was outside. "Bad guy?" he asked the Marine. "Yeah, one of 'em" Sawyer said as he nodded towards the fact that the man's hands were taped together.
As Boobinsnatch was led out by Phaedra, the ID-SOL looked at Valken who was being tended to by a paramedic. "You missed your chance to kill me, pig," he swore at the Admiral. "Nope, I was spot on. I wanted to graze you. They used to call me Dead Eye Dom when I was in the SAOY. Now you get to enjoy the hospitality of the IPG," Valken replied, licking his lips. "Well done, Sergeant. Though I expected you about an hour earlier," he added to Phaedra.
Henry walked up, casually dressed in a semi-formal attire.Vest, tie, and glasses that he'd coated with a lick of something to make them unusually shiny. "Sorry I'm late," Henry gave the Admiral a nod, "I see everything went off without a hitch?"
"Minor inconveniences only. I expect to be back in the office tomorrow. I'll leave these miscreants in your hands. Make sure they're presentable for the IPG. I have a brother to check up on," the Admiral greeted Henry.
"Excellent, sir. I'll see to it that they're..." His voice took a slight turn towards the sinister, "...presentable." Henry had done a short course on his leave, and was eager to put it to the test.
The non-enhanced five-foot-eleven Nepleslian wasn't intimidating by himself; it was the air of indifference in his voice towards the miscreants that did. He walked up to the troublemakers that were in his relative care, "Sirs. You're going to wish that you were dead. Death implies ... that you escape pennance."
He had a briefcase by his side, and he put it down on a table, opened it and got to work. The sound of some of its contents could be heard rattling, and clicking together to create something monstrous, "My associates and I are going to get the relevant information out of you one way," He held up something that meant to intimidate the ID-SOL - pointy and good for tearing flesh - and injecting something all at once (yours for four easy, tax-deductable payments of 24.99!), "Or the other..."Epilogue
None of the Marines had been harmed during the assault beyond some scrapes and cuts. In addition to the terrorists killed upstairs, Kerr and his squad had killed another three. Holmes claimed he got another in the head, which was confirmed when Corporal Kerr did his sweep. The dead guy had been taking a piss when the assault started and was shot through the bathroom window.
Corporal Kerr and his Marines did not find any more terrorists in the house but they did uncover a cache of smuggled NMX particle beam rifles and other foreign weapons not usually found on Nepleslia. With their sweep complete, the Marines left the house only to watch IPG agents enter and begin documenting everything. Kerr thought to ask if they needed help but the spooks were extremely efficient and didn't seem to need help.
A week later, a crate containing the NMX particle rifles arrived at 4th Fleet along with several paper reports regarding their performance. Admiral Valken had them locked up for the time being. A more detailed, private report was sent to the Admiral regarding arms trafficking and hostile former-Paragon agents' activities.
The 4th Fleet Marines, including the Cavaliers, were given an extra week of leave as part of their reward. A card addressed to the Marines arrived a few days later signed by the Admiral's extended family thanking them for their efforts. It was accompanied by a crate of the finest Nepleslian whiskey.
Dominic Valken, however, was rarely seen and had no contact with the Marines who had saved his life for a couple weeks. Two days after the incident, he was released from Prime City General Hospital and took the first shuttle up to the Dauntless
and despite the warm welcomes from the sailors, ordered the entire fleet to begin inspecting every vessel in the system not certified as legitimate by the Nepleslian authorities. Over the course of a week, the fleet had seized over 5 million DA worth of contraband from moonshine and drugs to a crate of HPARs destined for Gartaga.