A small team huddled around folding tables and portable consoles in what appeared to be a long narrow meeting room. The carpet was dated, punctuated with dark stains here and there and the ceiling tiles drooped under what could only be the weight of one too many sales presentations.
The overhead lights were off and the room was illuminated both by the light of display consoles and what crept through the partially open dusty blinds on the far end of the workspace. “Do you have a location on him,” asked a clean cut man who was pacing the floor in this makeshift situation room.
“No. He must have gone operational moments after the first blast. His last beacon placed him in the room. We just have periodic vitals at this point,” a woman replied, her back to the speaker.
“Is the sentry in position?”
“Its just coming online - there. I have a visual on the skybridge.” The female technician began punching buttons as she glanced back and forth between three separate display readouts.
“Do we have the spotters in position?”
“I thought you said you wanted the entire team on the 18th floor sir?” The woman turned and froze.
The man stopped his circuit back and forth across the carpeted floor. “Right. That was the plan, switch it to auto then,” he trailed off and took a sip of coffee from a paper cup.
“Charge 3 is good,” a male voice announced, his voice breaking the brief silence.
The man’s pacing continued and the female technician pivoted back into action.
“I want that stairwell completely contained!”
“We have a core marker going full crit as we speak. There is no way out now except up,” the male technician replied.
The man continued his pacing and glanced at a wrist watch. He stopped to stare at the one-way mirror at the back of the room, ran his hands through his thinning gray hair and adjusted his collar. He then turned and perched on the edge of an unused desk in the corner of the room.
“Sir, Charlie team is making contact,” the first tech said. She turned her head in the direction of the man who was emceeing the engagement, inviting directions.
“Good, put them on please.” The overhead PA cracked to life and the sound of muted talking could be heard. “This is central, report.”
“Central, we just cleared 1843 - direct hit on the room, but no sign of subject 2. Can you confirm the room number?”
“One moment sir… Yes, he checked in to 1843 earlier this week,” the female technician said. “We had eyeballs on him just last night.”
A large sigh was heard from the man in the back of the room. He stood and walked over to the desk where Ally was sitting.
“Central, do you copy.”
The director looked over the shoulder of the technician who was pulling up the logs on the subject.
“Confirm, 1 - 8 - 4 - 3. Scan what’s left of the room and then sweep the floor,” he shouted to the air.
“Copy central, over.”
He reached out and pressed a button on Ally’s desk, killing the connection.
“He’s either in the elevator, the stairwell or somewhere on that floor. Team, we can not afford to lose this quarry.” The director stood, drained his coffee, crumpled his cup and continued, “has Alpha reported?”
“Yes sir, they have subject 1 in custody and are clear of the building now,” the male tech replied smartly.
“Have them station someone to watch the main exit onto 4th street.”
“Is the evac team inbound? Do we have any visual on the roof of -”
“Sir, we have a problem,” Ally interrupted.
“Report!” The director looked up from the coffee station where he was refueling.
“We appear to have lost the sentry sir.”
“You what?” The director was now sprinting over to the desk to once again peer over the shoulder of the tech.
“The sentry just sent a burst of warnings and error codes and then appears to have gone completely offline.”
The director slipped on his glasses and strained his neck forward to stare at a readout with loads of flashing text and red alerts. He gestured, “that first message, what does it say?”
“It was a motion alert, followed by a collision warning.” Ally continued to analyze the sentry’s telemetry logs. “It looks like it was hit some kind of high speed ordinance.” She looked up and stared at the director in disbelief.
“Get all available team members to that skybridge now!” The director shouted. “I want local security and any available enforcers to cordon off the skybridge and to set up a perimeter on both ends. Do we have visuals on the atrium? I want to see any footage we have access to.” He stood and walked back to the coffee station. “Give me a full report in 2 minutes people.”
Shouts of affirmation were heard around the room along with a flurry of activity as multiple people began issuing urgent commands into comm devices.
The director removed his glasses, grabbed a new paper cup and filled it with coffee. His private communicator began going off. He set his cup down and inserted his ear piece. “Haddon speaking.”
“Jim, we need to talk, now. Something has come up.”
The director took a seat, “I’m working an event at the moment, it will have to wait.”
“We just received word that Agents GN-99 and GN-85 made contact with Alpha target.”
“The target neutralized both of our assets.”
“It did what?! Have you confirmed?”
“Visual confirmation. The op is a wreck. Get you people out of there now.”
“This whole op was half-cocked Bill. I refuse to take the hit for this mess.”
“Let me handle that. Tie it off now.”
The line went silent and the director stood and walked slowly to the center of the room. He motioned for attention and one by one the techs went silent as they paused their actions and conversations and looked up.
Once he had their attention, he began in a very measured tone, “I just received word that subject 2 has evaded capture and has cleared the premises. We are burning any assets who are not clear in 7 minutes. The official report will be that the biannual conference was attacked by a group of off-world mercs with ties to Syndicate Dash. We will be engaging with division Alt-4 and will be notifying the various …”
As the director continued the op post-mortem, rain began to fall in sheets against the windows that faced out into the gray skyline. The sun slipped behind red clouds in New Kronos as the city woke to sirens and smoke.
Chapter 03 →