by O. J. Anderson
|part 8 of 9|
Jack Creed and his squad are under attack from hordes of giant beasts and are running out of ammo. But don’t worry, their troubles are just beginning. They’re up against the World Order: a mad scientist’s combination of man and animal, with weapons on full automatic.
According to SOP, Jack has two high-concentrate white smoke grenades Velcroed to his assault harness. The pins wired to the vest. He reaches up and rips them off, simultaneously pulling the pins. Drops them in the center of the great room.
The great room fills quickly with great amounts of smoke. The three old doctors and the servant disappear through a door at the rear of the room.
The unofficial battle royale begins in the hallway, where the security teams have also popped smoke. The four men are serving up an impressive dose of firepower. Enemy gunfire comes from both ends. Jack’s got grenades for each. He bangs his two fists together, hooking the opposing grenade’s pin with his index fingers. Jerks his hands apart and hum-chucks them down the hall.
“Inside!” he shouts to the security teams, while placing a P-10 short stick with remote detonator low on the frame of the entrance. Flicks the switch to the armed position.
Jones busts out the window and the men pile out. Jack kneels by the window and counts his men out. He should have nine.
Smith passes by. Tells Jack, “Last man.” Jumps out the window.
Jack rips a short burst towards the doorway, then goes out the window. Once he hits the grass, it’s time to blow the door inside. The bad guys should be nearing the entrance by now. He flips open the forearm keypad; touches it off.
The great room explodes. A bright flash. Glass from the remaining windows blows out and massive gasps of HC smoke shoot out into the cool night air.
Jack isn’t aware exactly of what they were just fighting, but they should be dead. But to be on the safer side, Jack hook-shots a CS grenade back inside the great room. You can bio-engineer a flying monkey to take a punch, but you’ll never stop the burn of 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile against an open wound.
Simms has the truck rigged with demo. Jones places a short stick twenty meters to the south, against the castle wall. Gives Jack a thumbs-up, then throws another P-10 short stick ahead to the next corner of the wall. If it goes unused, he’ll pick it up and throw it ahead again.
This diversion will serve nicely for Rivers and Lucky; most of the manimal forces should move toward the action, and away from the gate. The trick is for Jack and his crew to get to the gate in the opposite direction from the main element. They don’t have enough ammo for a sustained battle. The bulk of the manimals/chimera should take the shortest route to their position, which, if it isn’t through the castle, will be in a clockwise direction around it. Jack and his crew will also move clockwise.
To supplement their temporary lack of ammo, they’ll utilize the castle wall and the surrounding cliffs to their advantage. Anything that gets in their way will be summarily blown off the edge.
The first victims are a couple of those rhino-goat beasts with heavy weaponry saddled to their backs. Fifty meters to the north, at the corner of the castle.
His entire crew opens up at once, but to little effect. The beasts barely flinch. These have machine guns. They open up with long bursts. Legs set in a wide stance for added stability. Nicely done. Jack has to admire this, if only for a tenth of a second, before he touches off the short stick to the rhino-goats’ left. Only a couple feet away.
The P-10 stick tucked into the elbow formed by the ground and the castle wall acts as a shaped charge, blowing up and out. Toward the cliff.
When the dust clears, the chimera are gone. Halfway to a hard landing.
The men rush forward.
Jack takes the move as a good sign. The heavy-barrel chimera were probably sent as a stopper to shore up the back side as the more agile forces move in from the south. Which means his instincts are, again, correct. They should meet light resistance to the gates.
The crew is spread out. Ten meters apart. The lead man tosses P-10 sticks ahead every fifteen meters. They creep along the castle wall. Jack touches off the demo placed back at the truck. The explosion is muffled, blocked by the stone walls of the castle and rapidly absorbed by the high mountain air.
Jones, in the lead, calls a halt. The men take a knee.
Jack moves forward. He sees them as soon as he steps next to Jones. Three tiny objects scurrying toward them through the shadows. They look like footballs cut in half. There’s no telling what they are. But one can assume that they are about to explode.
Running forward (he isn’t about to waste any ammo on them), Jack place-kicks the first one off the cliff. Then quickly does the same to the other two. Waves his men forward. They don’t have time for hold-ups. Party crashers will be appearing from behind any minute now.
They move out with a quickness. He can now hear the sounds of gunfire in the distance. The gate. They are almost there. Sounds like Brogan’s crew has breached the butte. It’s time to start thinking about how to bring this house down.
Something that’s been in the back of his mind since the conversation with Sheisserman, but which he hasn’t really wanted to think about, is what exactly has been going on here. He wanted a Battle Royale, which means they have an arena. Blood sports. And an underground labyrinth: guaranteed weirdness there. Nothing good ever happens in labyrinths. Not to mention the laboratories needed to concoct an army of chimera. But what about all the misfires? What do they do with the unsuccessful products?
With a shake of the head, he scrubs it from his mind. Time to focus. It’s all going to die. Here. Tonight. Dead. That’s it. No more Home of the World Order. A pile of rubble. That’s inevitable.
Up ahead is a yellow chemlight. It’s Rivers’ signal: clear approach. Jack throws up the “double time” hand signal. The men pick up the pace.
Brogan’s vans are inside the gate. Spread out like three claws of a talon. They have control of the area.
Jack’s crew has to run a veritable slalom through the carnage. Chimera and manimal corpses scattered throughout the area. Bodies everywhere. It was quite a massacre. Now, only sporadic gunfire. If you are going to have backup, you can’t go wrong with Jake Brogan and his crew.
Jack sees him up ahead, behind the van, chinstrap dangling.
“Jack.” He nods.
“Jake.” Jack slows to a walk and nods back.
Two men from Brogan’s crew pass out ammo to Jack’s men. Access to ammo is like coming up for air after seeing if you can swim the length of the pool under water. Feels good. The security of heavily weaponized armored vans feels good too.
“Coffee?” Jake Brogan asks Jack.
“So how was it in there?”
“Saw an interesting art collection and had a conversation with the devil himself. By proxy, of course.”
“Of course. Balthazar?”
“Nope. Guy named after a turd.”
“Right,” Jake says. “So how do you want to pop this place.”
Jack has been thinking about it for the past few minutes. Wishes the squad satellite were in place, or the bomber. Something big. Really big. “Castle structure is too sturdy for a classic demo job,” he says. “Gonna take a lot of everything to bring this place down properly. I’d like to take advantage of the butte. Get under it. Use its weight against itself.” Classic Creed: bringing a needle to a balloon fight.
Jake: “I like the symbolism.”
“We’re gonna need a lot more than symbolism for this job.”
Jack: “Whad’ya got for special occasions?”
Jake nods, then turns toward his van. “A little something I like to call Pandora’s Box. It’s untested, but I have high hopes for it.” Jake snaps his fingers. One of his men unlocks a cabinet welded to the side of the van’s interior. From inside he removes a black box, about a square foot in dimension. Now, black boxes in this trade are nothing unusual, but what’s inside them usually is. Every team has their own version of the black box.
Jack: “Good looking box.”
“Thanks. It’s a P-11 Ultra-high explosive surprise package. Got a R-239 isothermic core. If you don’t want to go nuclear, this is the ticket. I’ve been hesitant to use it though. It’s too powerful for most jobs. Kinda worried it might blow another hole in the ozone. But now I hear destiny whispering in my ear.”
“I think I hear it too,” Jack says, then looks up at Jake. “Did you say P-11 Ultra-high explosive?”
Jack throws his arms out to his side. What the crap? Why don’t I know about this? Why don’t I have this?
“It’s new,” Jake tells him. “Not even available yet.”
“Then how’d you get it?”
“I know a guy.”
Jake: “We need to get this below the structure. As close to center as possible. That way we can take advantage of gravity as well as the enormous thermo-fusion power of the P-11. Two natural forces working against each other. It’ll be like a cotton ball between two locomotives colliding. Should turn the place in to a pile of fine dust.”
Jack: “I think I know a place.”
* * *
Copyright © 2007 by O. J. Anderson