The building was well worn.
Well worn, but enclosed securely. Despite the rust tinted metal walls and faded glass windows along the top floor, large concrete barriers had been erected between the street and the gravel lot leading up to the cargo doors. Those had been braced with metal grates, which, despite their rust, looked firmly locked down. The windows, too, were lined with metal bars, and as far as was humanly discernible, there were no exterior locks.
From Jade-614's vantage point down the block, the building was doing a fantastic job of blending in with this part of town. That or the proprietor, a local crime lord who ran the entire southwest corridor of the metro area, simply didn't bother with keeping up appearances. The only thing that had mattered to him was securing the building, which made Six-One-Four's job all the more difficult.
Difficult, because James-703 was going about their op entirely the wrong way. At this time of night, it was no doubt well guarded. They should have gone in at day, when no one would expect such an infiltration. Interior man-power would be minimal; they could stick to the recesses, grab the package, and get out before anyone was noticed.
No, Seven-Oh-Three had insisted that they go in under cover of night. They would have the shadows as their allies. Never mind the fact that her specific Intel report had shown increased surveillance around this hour. James was leading this op; it was his to call, regardless of his backwards line of reasoning.
Six-One-Four leaned against the side of a cement wall, doing her best to look nonchalant. In dark attire and a hood, her gender and identity was largely concealed. Her figure didn't help the situation; being as small as she was could only be helped so much by an outer layer of baggy clothes and hidden tactical suit underneath. She was the smallest one on the current assemblage of Charlie Team, but as Director Poletto had kindly reminded them, small sizes made for easier infiltration where others could not reach.
Glancing up, Six-One-Four felt her PSS send shivers through her body as it pinged a pair of large guys walking her direction, coming in off from her right. She kept her head slightly bowed; keeping her face out of the light, but not so far down that it looked like she was inattentive. The two guys took close stock of her as they passed. Somewhere in their meatheads they decided she wasn't worth shaking down.
Too bad. It would have given Six-One-Four a reason to abort this ludicrous op.
"Check; south east, street."
"Clear," Six-One-Four muttered into her comm. That was Jacob-1009, heading observation at the moment. He was leading Blue Group, currently sweeping exterior observation while James led the rest of the team on Red Group inside. Six-One-Four couldn't help but feel she had been relegated to this job specifically because of the opposition she had voiced. This was to be her penance.
"Check; west, roof."
"Clear," she heard Julie-105 reply. One-Oh-Five would be behind the scope of a high-power rifle right now, watching the main exterior entrance from on high for the first signs of trouble. If someone got wise to this op, the tangos would start rolling in from that direction.
Or so the Intel seemed to indicate.
Six-One-Four's eyes flashed up, her PSS pinging fast movement to her right, away from the target. Turning her head ever so slightly, she glanced over in time to catch sight of three guys—all clearly armed—as they dived into an alley. Despite the general rundown appearance, this was still a very uncharacteristic sight for this neighborhood.
"Blue One," she muttered to Jacob, "I've got three possible tangos moving in from a south east alley."
She heard Jacob swear. "I see 'em. And they're moving fast. Blue Two, what's the status on those doors?"
"Negative on tangos."
"Then maybe this is a false alarm."
Six-One-Four didn't think so. In fact, she was beginning to wonder if they should have been watching the darkened alleys to the east instead. The bright street lights over the front doors to the west where Julie was watching seemed a little too convenient. Especially if big guns needed to rush in quickly and they wanted to keep it quiet.
"I'm investigating," she muttered into her comm.
She didn't hear a reply from One-Oh-Oh-Niner, which meant he was just as uncertain about the situation as well. She knew he was as dubious as she was about James' approach to this op. He was only a little too submissive to do anything about it. That was one problem Six-One-Four did not suffer from.
Keeping a close hand near her sidearm, she moved quickly and quietly over the gravel back alleys. She paused at an intersecting alleyway, sparing a single glance around the corner. She briefly caught sight of three rushed shadows disappearing down yet another fork, this one lit up by a few street lights on the south side of the building.
"Tangos are moving fast!" she barked, keeping her voice low. "Blue Two, do you have a sight?"
"Affirmative! Blue One, make the call!"
This time there was no hesitation on the part of Jacob. "Red One, you've got three hostiles inbound on the east entrance. Recommend op abort."
Six-One-Four didn't hear the reply. Red One, James, was on a separate channel that only Jacob could hear. There was a long pause, which could only mean one thing: the idiot was pushing forward with the op.
As if to confirm her suspicions, One-Oh-Oh-Niner swore again. "Red One, we have three more tangos moving in now on the west doors. This is an ambush."
Six-One-Four wasn't going to wait around for leadership to get their act together. She crouch ran the rest of the way to the final intersection, feeling out with her PSS—Proximity Sensory System—the entire way. It was by far the strangest tech interface I-9 had outfitted her with, sending various pulses into her nervous system that allowed her to "feel" out hostiles in proximity to her position. She wasn't sure how the system differentiating between hostile targets and teammates, but it had functioned well enough thus far.
This time she had no such "feelings," indicating all clear. There was no one immediately near her.
She paused at the wall, looking in at the gravel plaza that opened up to the building's narrow east side. The three tangos she had seen earlier were standing with their backs to the wall, one fiddling with an electronic key to a single access door. The good news was that he seemed to be having difficulty; probably a little present left behind by Red Group to stall any baddies for a bit.
Six-One-Four double checked her equipment. Her sidearm came with a sound suppressor, but the moment she dropped the first tango, the others would scatter. She had no doubt she could drop the first one easily; but she wasn't yet good enough a marksman to drop all three cleanly. This would turn into a firefight, completely nullifying the op.
Unless James had some delusion of recovering the package in the middle of a firefight.
"Blue One," she pressed, "prepare to engage." Her eyes trained in on the tangos. "I have a clear sight, but the moment I take shots this place is going hot."
Jacob hesitated. He knew just as well as she did what that would mean. But he wasn't making a decision! They needed to act now or a slim window of opportunity—
The door beeped twice. The first tango pushed it open roughly, rushing in. Time was up and she wasn't going to get another shot, regardless of whether she was defying leadership. Six-One-Four already had her sidearm up and aimed when she heard a loud BOOM from the west side of the building. She only faintly registered it as she fired two quick shots, lining up on the two tangos that had almost disappeared inside behind the first guy. Both dropped dead on the threshold, their legs sticking out through the open doorway.
Another boom followed. It seemed One-Oh-Five had decided to start taking shots of her own initiative. That or Six-One-Four had missed some communication between her and One-Oh-Oh-Niner. She made a quick mental note of the proceedings—something they would drill her on in her report—and dashed forward towards the open door.
Things had escalated.
Halfway to the door, Six-One-Four felt her PSS go hot, someone directly north of her. Her gaze flashed away from the door, spotting a new tango coming in fast from around the broad, north side of the building. She fired two quick shots, still running for the door—not an easy task. She watched only long enough to confirm that he was down.
Six-One-Four slammed her back against the wall, edging closer to look inside the building. Everything was lit up now and she could hear gunfire everywhere. Another loud boom from Julie complimented the frenzy.
"Blue Three!" Jacob exclaimed. "Where the hell are you?! I've lost your position!"
Oh, now we're using the comms. "I have the east entrance covered. Three tangos down, one made it inside. Which exit is Red Group taking?"
No response. Great, James was making matters worse trying to keep Jacob on a leash and get the package.
Six-One-Four spared a second glance inside, her PSS picking up motion all over the place. But one thing she could "feel" through all of it was a lack of attention to her position. No one was watching this door. She wasn't entirely sure how she knew this—how the proxy sensor seemed to know this—but it was good enough for her.
Sliding inside silently, she dodged behind a large crate, using her small stature to her advantage. No one noticed her movement. Next, she moved down a corridor of shelves, lined with various illegal arms and gear. Not her concern. It was ironic; the one thing that this crime lord had on the premise that was of no legal concern was the one thing they precisely needed. Too bad James had managed to screw that part up.
She stopped, crouching low at the end of the corridor. Six-One-Four could now see the focus of the fighting. There were a couple of small rooms or offices in the north east corner of the warehouse. Red Group seemed held up inside, with about five tangos spread out between the next rows of shelves and a large empty section of the two-story room. All five of them were unleashing everything they had on the door and window into that office. A few return shots were exchanged from someone on Red Group at the window. The noise was deafening in the confined space.
Her comms had been unusually silent the last fifteen seconds. No further reports from Jacob, and not a word from Red Group about assistance to pull out. They definitely weren't taking the exterior windows located in each office; those had been barred over as well. Which meant that they were currently trapped.
"Blue-One," she began, trying to speak over the gunfire without attracting attention, "Red Group is pinned down inside. If we don't put together an extraction now, we'll be overwhelmed with tangos in a short time."
One-Oh-Oh-Niner chimed in with a grunt. "I know, Blue-Three! I know! If you've got any high ground on the situation, be my guest."
Good enough. Not exactly the most specific rules of engagement, but it spelled out enough leeway for Six-One-Four to take this op into her own hands. Time was of the essence.
She detached a flash-grenade from her gear, pulling down a pair of special shades over her eyes. Chucking it around the corner into the center of the room, she huddled down into a ball just as the tangos screamed out about a grenade. Even with her eyes covered by her arms and shades, she still saw a flash of light in the corner of her eyes.
A split-second later she bounded up, spinning around into the open with her sidearm drawn. All five tangos were down, rubbing painfully at their eyes in agony. All five shots were quick and precise.
With swiftness, she turned back to the offices, yanking open the door to where Red Group was staged. She studied the scene quickly.
Jeffery-717 had been the one at the window exchanging shots with the tangos outside. Now he was bent down over Jasmine-301, her eyes staring blankly at the ceiling and a crimson chest wound soaking Seven-One-Seven's hands as he applied pressure. Jared-124 was in the corner with Seven-Oh-Three, trying to sort through the bullet-ridden ruins of the package; some kind of computer tower.
"Blue-One, tangos are down," she reported into her comms. "Red Group is secure for exfiltration. Prep immediate medical assistance for Red-Three."
Jeffery looked up her way, shaking his head. Damn. This was quickly turning into a royal disaster.
"Blue-Three," Julie began, "be advised, I have four more tangos approaching two blocks from the north. Blue-One is confirming with Red Group."
"Affirmative." She walked past Jasmine's body, which Jeffery was quickly policing of gear and other incriminating details. They would have to leave her, unfortunately, but Initiative-9 could handle clean-up later. Right now she needed to get James' attention, since he seemed utterly oblivious to whatever Jacob was trying to convey to him right now.
Jared glanced up as she stood over them, looking thoroughly pissed. James didn't even look up; he was frantically sorting through the bits of shattered plastic and metal littering the floor around the package. It wasn't very big, easily fitting within any of their packs. So what madness was keeping James so focused on this mess?
"Bag it and let's go," she grunted. "We'll use the back door."
James finally seemed to take notice of her. There was something in his eyes she hadn't expected; panic. Or fear? Something very uneasy, but something told Six-One-Four it had nothing to do with the op going south or one of their team members dying. She wasn't sure why she got that impression, but it didn't help the fury building up inside of her presently.
What the hell are you so worried about that you're throwing our lives away like this?
"Right," he muttered in half-reply. He turned back to the package, placing all of the pieces into a secure baggie. One-Two-Four helped him finish quickly.
A moment later, the four of them were slipping out the back door clogged with the two tangos Six-One-Four had dropped earlier. She took up rear, watching closely to the north of the gravel yard in case their new batch of tangos got wise to their escape. Standing on the threshold of the doorway, her proxy sensor picked up movement behind her inside the building.
Good. The tangos were coming in the front door.
She dashed out with the others, quickly vanishing into the shadows.