Tried to space the lines out in this chapter. Better or worse than previous manner of formatting?
What had happened:
The team in the armory had moved to the security station at the back of the second level. The switches to disengage the base's lockdown had been left there.
The way the designers had figured it, if somehow the enemy breeched the inner complex and all the combat personnel were effectively locked out, they'd look really silly.
Of course, if somehow enemies had gotten in and taken that area by surprise, it would be silly not to have a backup plan.
They were not silly.
They backup plan was essentially of the same reasoning as Simons take on the offensive; no-one brings air for long periods during a land based offensive. De-pressurize it.
Seal the invaders in and vent the air. Likely as not they would be exploded. Messy but effective.
And if any of their own people were there, they could seal their helmets for the brief period where the base would be airless.
Unfortunately, equipment designed for sucking air to produce a vacuum will merely break if it tries to do the same for water.
Of course, they could have just continued to break down the doors with shaped charges and Thermite but likely as not any potential information or equipment would be destroyed when it was submerged.
So instead they tripped the backup plan. Which under normal circumstances checks which parts of the base exterior currently contained movement and partitions them so that they can be vented really really quickly.
Motion sensors however are calibrated for environments with air, gas, not liquid; they tripped all of them. Every concealed bulwark was raised. Which was exactly as intended, because it meant that once the venting cycle finished, the team in the alarm room down below could open the inner door if they were able or the team up in the sealed section could cut through it and enter the base proper without flooding it.
The raising of the other bulwarks too cut down the amount of strain on the single bulwark connecting to an environment which was pressurized.
This had been Simons plan all along, which Maddy had revealed to the rest of the unit En-route to the target, she'd refrained from details over the phone with Pasely who despite having forced his medical staff to operate on him before they actually had the parts fabricated; hadn't himself been finished in time to participate.
There was a familiar face in the team though. Stringy; he'd explain to Maddy later how he and Barry, despite teaming up, had found out the hard way that the Australian market for their services was sparse at best.
Barry though had gotten a call from Paseley who'd rung round to find all the professionals he could muster on short notice. Barrey hadn't been needed in the end but Stringy, with experience in both WCCIUEA tech, Maddy and with valuable all-round technical skills , was.
Maddy had made a foray into the grassland an hour before the main attack to prepare the explosives:
The strafing, wasn't, those explosions had been the explosive creation of a deep hole which breeched the base behind the inner enterance without tripping the first two.
The alarm from this and the noise from the subsequent excavation of a deep trench between the breech and the wide expanse of open water, concealed their other activities.
Along with Maddy on the surface, A former civil demolitions specialist and Stringy were busy drilling and inserting charges which would ultimately knock several thousand tons of silt away from the armory; Purposefully built way out there so that fires, explosions and unexpected spontaneous combustion would be self extinguishing. The explosions were timed to a T. To anyone inside it would sound like a bombing run; The breeching of the inner area occurred at the same moment as the roof of the armory buckled under the pressure of water on a roof covered in circles of incandescent Thermite.
Simon had had a theory; That because there had never been any breaches, no one would know what the alarm sounded like. So if you set two off at once it sounds like it's all one alarm, especially if your front door just got kicked in.
Thus without losing a single man Maddy and Co. were able to enter the base.
Stringy and the demolitions man, Author opened up the doors and Began their part of the task; Loading the equipment in the armory which wasn't destroyed or looked custom made.
Meanwhile the eight troopers left two men to guard their diving gear and the exit; By fortifications two 'Arach' Remote gun's. Hooked up to motion sensors they searched for movement which wasn't accompanied by a signal from a friendly tag; They were fast enough and accurate enough to shoot a RPG round out of the air. In other words, excellent security against the three potential remaining party crashers.
Maddy moved along the corridor, heels first and then the rest of her foot rolling forward before she sprang off her toes. She was ahead of the main group, letting their heavy footfalls mask the minuscule sounds of her measured movement. There were three main objectives. Unfortunately they were all equally urgent.
Firstly, finding and retrieving the Australians device and ensuring it or designs were retrieved intact, secondly getting to the bases lowest level, where the court and C&C(Command and control) center sat and thirdly preventing the remaining base personal from escaping from the base via the hanger.
The former was important because it would help prevent the latter and any unpleasant surprises from the people running the show. The latter was important because if the people running the show decided that they were going to run off and once they were clear destroying the evidence with whatever contingency they had for this occurrence.
Tanchi, a training consultant for Australian SAS, Spoke into his whisper sensitive mike "What I don't get is why, if they had a hanger, they stuck a front door in, in the first place y'know. Seems like inviting trouble to me."
"Planes appearing from nowhere is difficult to hide, especially something with such a large signature as the 'Mother Goose' for example. When we aren't in need of Excessive force or something else only the stuff we have in the hanger can provide, we use the front door to get out there. You may have noticed these wide corridors? You can drive a car through here, there's a garage full of runabouts for the purpose. Supply's get brought in on narrow trailers, they hook E'm up at the front."
Maddy tried not to let her newfound squad distract her.
She'd only be with them once, just get the job done. Another empty corridor; unlocking the front door would have at least temporarily unlocked the remaining portals, however no one seemed to have capitalized.
There would be around two hundred and eighty staff permanently situated on-site; judging by her memories of the regularity and composition of comestible deliveries. She estimate between seventy and a hundred had been combat certified. The rest were technical and domestic staff Keeping the base spick and span and it's tech two short steps and three long leaps ahead of the 'bad guys' i.e everyone else.
Not that it had helped this time. She signaled for a halt "Right four of you move to the hanger keep the bay sealed. If you keep a tight formation you should be able to avoid being picked off. Other four take the lab. I'm off to the control room.
Objective, personal. Download and delete my own file from the PC of whoever's running the show./ It looks like the oath of getting someone in a headlock is going to be fulfilled./ Concentrate, no comments other than useful ones.
They slinked along, the place was disconcertingly Empty. No-one emerged from their quarters or in fact anywhere on her way to the executive elevator. The elevator itself was locked simply, USB port below the button. A flash drive would have been the key, one which could be disposed of with less than a moments notice and with more than 1000^2 electronic tumblers.
With a remarkable lack of subtlety she tore off the panel for the controls, deftly shorting out the doors electronics, leaving it lifeless, immobile; and unlocked. Unlocked barring the steel rods which now would have snapped into place. Like that would stop her.
Light burst into the elevator shaft as the doors, locked together with the steel rods which had previously served to firmly anchor them to the frame, were blown inwards; snapping cables and tearing into concrete paneling during their tumbling descent. Snaking a line through the hole in the doorframe where the control panel had previously resided, she rappelled downwards to the roof of the elevator now half covered by the warped and bent doors from above.
Now it was a simple matter of applying Thermite paste to part of the lifts roof, kicking it to make a hole which she could swing through to open the door- The stainless steel slid past, revealing the C&C center. It looked more like a corporate executive conference room than some kind of underground control room, from which figures of unknown identity had their way with-
She registered the blood. There were bullet holes in the walnut, ebony and sycamore inlay of the table.
Door's. The far end had a pair. They were ajar.
She padded up to them and nudged them open, an invisible breeze running past her face. Her helmet speakers blared a warning; switching to self contained supply.
Self consciously she took another of the air-bottles from her belt as she entered the room.
She had another five minutes on her current bottle and there was no use wasting air. The room itself was satisfactory insofar as secret underground control centers are concerned.
It was comprised of desks arranged in tiers around a large screen and central podium. Desks which were littered with bodies; confirming her suit's belief that the atmosphere was contaminated with lethal neurotoxin, in amounts large enough to linger even days after these people had been killed.
It was dim, but as she descended through the tier's there seemed to be a common theme. Hard disks removed, equipment recovered. Her search was slow and cautious.
She'd been wrong, This hadn't been all out attack. Her air canister needed replacing… only two minutes was left in it. She'd retreat to the lift shaft for now and contact-
The knife came from the semi- darkness, she easily caught it on reflex and was unpleasantly surprised when in response to her tightening grip on the hilt the blade was fired. Severing the shoulder strap for the Turquoise. She let the useless hilt go and focused on making a grab for her gun before it fell
Kopash lunged from the shadows. His face was hidden behind the non-reflective silver visor of his Type A FoSa bodysuit. He caught Maddies arm as it shot out with every intention of shattering that visor.
She twisted as he delivered a debilitating blow to her lower back. She stumbled forward. In any other situation, he would have had her. She could shoot him, but not before he got into position to snap her silly neck. He'd not had time to fully adapt to his targets condition however- Though he had an iron grip on her left arm and thus a high degree of control over her.... he had not accounted for her mechanical shoulder not being tied to muscles in terms of it's range of motion. She let him get it bent behind her back and leapt up, pivoting her entire body around the arm in his hold, to plant a firm kick in his faceplate. He dropped her, she hit the floor, flipped backwards and as her fingers trailed along the ground they curled around the compact barrel of the electronic machine-pistol. She swung her legs so that she was in a position to fire at the rapidly recovering assassin.
The concept of a Metalstorm firing mechanism is extremely simple.
Use the barrel of the weapon as a magazine and fire rounds off electronically rather than mechanically. In practice, it is far more complex; But the effect was just the same. She'd taken barely a second to unload an entire eighteen round barrel into his faceplate. Ordinary bullets would've merely been deflected, these ones however, smashed.
The entirety of the helmet's front became a mask of opaque blue gel. Maddy's back hit the monitor on the desk and crashed through onto the floor of the next tier. Kopash was above her in an instant, Carbon edged blade in hand.
She didn't care. The gel was doing it's deadly work, hardening. Contracting- he saw it too. Through the night vision filters, he saw the white lines of cracks running across his faceplate. His helmet warped and then the faceplate popped from it's recess, the rounded dome crumpled and shattered; yet bound together by the rapidly hardening compound. Kopash, his face was covered in scar tissue and he might have been of middle eastern descent, but it didn't matter now. His face was un-creased and calm.
He spoke simply before taking a deep breath. He was dead before he hit the floor.
Maddy exhaled. He'd been faster and better than she could have ever been, with more experience, but her artificiality had given her the edge. Always had.
After this, never again. You were right, you're ALL of the skills and disciplines I've learned by living as perpetrator. I refuse to allow myself to continue on like this./ How can I go against my own will? This split, this divide, it's to lock away me and my skills. I doubt that You would have the resolve or the experience to kill without this part of yourself. Now shut up. We're running out of air.
Indeed, the alarm indicating that her breaths would be of Cee oh two in thirty seconds, had begun beeping most insistently.
Wincing she pulled herself up from the wreckage. She was using screw and thread joins for bottles anyway; the only danger of actually inhaling the toxin while switching bottles would be if somehow residue had permeated the inside of the join. Which if it had, would kill her even if she replaced it outside the room.
An option no longer viable because of the precious seconds spent in internal debate.
She popped out the spent tank and inserted a new one. It was a screw and thread join, no big deal.
Insert, breath deeply and pray. Still alive? Unless the next life is exactly as the same as the one you just left, she decided on the balance of evidence that she was still breathing. A relief certainly.
Behind her a loud clap sounded. She pirouetted, Turquoise aimed, it's second barrel ready.
The man who'd taken her hostage sat there clapping slowly, or rather his image was up on the projection screen set above the central podium. He was clapping slowly, the noise amplified by the rooms speakers.
"Who Are You?" She assumed that he had sound, considering that at least that or video cameras would've been required to witness her victory. Cursing, she remembered to toggle her stealth capabilities. She flicked the switch and faded into full view. "Who are you?" She said it again, this time audible to whatever listening devices the room must've had to pick it up.
"Oh, that isn't important. Or rather it is, but it's not what should be on your mind just now. Despite my rather amicable appearance I am pissed off with you Madelia. Lictor." He named her by her formal title and spat as though it left a bad taste in his mouth.
"I can't imagine why."
Jarren's facial muscles froze ever so slightly. "You just left me, in a desert, after crashing me into a convoy of armed APV's led by a psychopath-" "-He's up and about again, looking for you by the way."
Momentarily jarren's composure broke "He's dead. Even if he had lived, his lower body would have been… No, you didn't." Maddy nodded, wishing she could depolarize her faceplate to antagonize him with the aid of her facial expression right now.
"You little- I'll just add that to the growing list of personal insult and injury you've caused me. Two days before they got to me, two goddanm days in that desert. Then You Disappear, off the map in Perth; Sighted getting off a motorbike but no-one's signed up or enrolled you anywhere. I'd only started the international search when suddenly, you're in France taking down organized crime. Freakinouter, all you'd had to do was stay off the radar for another month. As it was you've really helped me out. The WCCIUEA no longer exists and you have now got everyone looking for it."
Maddy gestured to the bodies. "A hostile takeover. Cut off the head and inhabit the body. Let me guess, you tricked base personal into letting you be the ones to take out the leaders by jamming the frequencies that they'd use to set off the subdermal cyanide pellets or incandescent clothing. Then once you were down here, you decided, no, perhaps it had been your plan all along just to keep running things the same way, but this time for your profit."
Jarren rested his chin on his hand. "Yup. I don't really care what happens to the agents and most of the mechanics now. I've got all the best scientific talent and equipment right here with me. Ready for sale."
Wait, that was why the hard-drives were taken! Which would mean- Maddy vaulted over the desks skidding to a halt behind the podium. Numbers were ticking down on the face of a red digital timer above a keypad with eighty different numerals on it; Coded non-alphanumerical keypad. There was a button with a speaker crossed out on the timer. She pressed just as the clock hit ten minutes.
"-arning, detonation immanent. The end of the twenty four hour countdown has been reached, you have ten minutes to disarm, prior to the non-cancelable five minute countdown on the four forty megaton thermonuclear devices beneath this base. Please have a day."
"I love that joke miss skeith, for it implies the vague hope that those listening will have a day. I rather hoped to keep you talking until the end and watch you dissolve, but I'm afraid- Hey! What are you doing?" He twisted on screen, openly confused.
Maddy knelled on the floor behind the lectorum and whacked part of the floor; a section indistinguishable from the ones next to it bounced out. She'd been keeping her thermal display active in the corner of her helmet, and spotted heat under this portion of the floor. A terminal rose out.
Clever. Direct access to the mainframe, hidden right next to the other most important thing of the base; either way, she plugged in a device to the USB port on the side.
A device which would boost a wireless signal to a portable satellite relay on the hill above the base, which would go in turn back to Thomas in France.
With that she sprinted out of the room. She had no doubt that the others, had they been alive to hear the broadcast, would have been yelling at her over the Comms by now.
Therefore they were either dead or unable to move or speak, which in a base about to implode would be as good as.
She flicked channels. "Yo, Stringy, other person. This place is going to explode in" She climbed out of the elevator shaft and paused "Exactly nine minutes. Get well clear. We Are Leaving!" She finished while sprinting down the shining corridors.
Not meant to be a cliffhanger there. Mostly because I wrote this without chapters.
Myeh, whatever work's; hope you liked it enough to stick around for the rest.