The twelve members of MTF Rho-Niner ("Theisman's Leg") moved up the hill in smooth, catlike motions, their dark grey camouflage uniforms blending in perfectly with the night, their faces hidden behind the eerie, insectoid forms of their gas masks with integrated night vision equipment. They carried sleek, black submachine guns in their gloved hands, and flashbang grenades on their belts. They were fucking badasses, the cream of the Foundation's strike teams, the elite of the elite in the hidden shadow-war of the occult, and they were going to take this house DOWN.
Then some asshole on the second floor of the target house ruined everything by shooting a cheap-ass Vietnamese-made version of Chinese knockoff of an AK-47 assault rifle at them and waking up all the neighbors.
The next few minutes didn't go so well for the members of MTF-Rho-Niner.
"Fucking EMPTY!" Agent Chimes shouted, slamming his assault vest down onto the steel table. He slammed his fists down onto the table, then buried his face in both hands in frustration, smearing his soot-black face paint. "Third fucking time!"
"At least we got the guy that was shooting at us," Agent Chu said.
"Hey, Chuface, get a clue. That's what that asshole was SUPPOSED to do: slow us down so that the rest of the motherfuckers could bug out. Fucking SHIT! Third fucking time!" Chimes shouted. "What the fuck!?"
"Pipe down, Chimes, you're starting to piss me off," Sergeant Minh growled. "We're all pissed, no need to scream about it."
"That's right," Lieutenant Jameson agreed. "We've got bigger problems to deal with."
"Like explaining how a fucking million dollar neighborhood in richville California got shot up by a bunch of bozos in black suits?" Chimes asked.
"What? No, that's easy. We blame it on terrorists or drug traffickers or something. My issue is, how the hell did they see us coming?"
"Easy," Chimes said. "Some newbie fucked up: forgot to blacken a buckle or silence a tag or something. That's how all these things get fucked up."
"Hey! Shut the hell up, Chimes. You went over the newbs' gear same as me. Everyone was as black as night and as quiet as a mouse. We were CLEAN," Minh pointed out.
"And it doesn't explain how they bugged out before we even got there. And they had to have bugged out before that. They pulled the disk drives on their computers before they left: that's not a ten second job. Something, or someone, tipped them off before we even got there."
"Could there be a mole, LT?" Chu asked.
"God forbid," Jameson said. "But that doesn't make any sense either. This op's been planned for over a week. If there was a mole, the targets would have spooked and left days ago. There were plates of uneaten food on the tables and bomb-making equipment left in the basement: that tells us they left quickly. So we're looking at a window of around thirty minutes to one hour: long enough to grab a few things and haul ass, but not long enough to take all their shit with them."
"Where did they go, anyway? We had a perimeter around the whole place, but no one saw a fucking thing."
"Not important. The important thing is that everyone was gone before we even hit the house. If we'd had surprise, they would have still been there, no matter how they got out. So their escape route is irrelevant, if we can hit them before they manage to take it. So let's focus on the surprise part," Jameson said. "Let's go through the op step by step. Arrival?"
"Twenty-four hours before op. Three different methods," Sergeant Minh said. "Four of us arrived by train, four by plane, four drove in with the moving vans full of gear. Civilian clothes. No one's carrying except the gear pukes, and they didn't get stopped by anyone."
"Mmmm. Seemed fine, but let's break it up a bit more next time. Asymmetric groups. Housing?"
"Two separate motels. Separate cover stories and check-in times for each group of two. Rooms swept for bugs. Everything was clean, no one broke cover even in the rooms." Chimes said.
"Good. Those walls are thin: if you can hear people banging hookers the next room over, it's not that hard for some vacationer to overhear some black ops shit if you're not careful. Casing?"
"My job, LT," Chu said, raising his hand. "I was on the roof of the house one block over. Total thermoptic camo. Guy who owned the house didn't even know I was there, no way the assholes in the target house coulda seen me."
"And you confirmed the target was there?" Jameson asked.
"I saw him three times," Chu said. He flipped out a small notebook. "At three separate moments. First at 7 am when…"
"Never mind. I trust you. All right, so we arrive clean, we scout the target, no one knows we're there at this point. What about staging?" Jameson asked.
"None. We did all that shit en route," Minh said. "Everyone changed and got geared up in the vans."
"… in the vans," Jameson repeated. He looked out the safe house window at the Chevy Suburbans in the parking lot.
"Yeah. We didn't want any neighbors seeing a bunch of guys in a parking lot with guns, so we had everyone get prepped in the vans on the way up," Minh continued. "We picked the guys up at the rendezvous points, then got everyone's gear situated…"
"… and we headed up the hill," Jameson said, slowly.
"… fuck," Chimes sighed.
"… in three vans of the same make and model… hell, they're even the same COLOR…" Jameson noted.
"Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Sorry, LT. I fucked that one up. I was the one who got the vehicles. My fucking bad," Chimes admitted.
"Don't be too hard on yourself, Chimes," Jameson said, not unkindly. "I shoulda seen it too."
"Yeah, but you didn't. I should have. Wheels was my job," Chimes groaned. "Fuck, I'm such a fucking retard. Three fucking black suburbans coming up the hill at midnight… shit, anyone would bug out if they saw that coming!"
"We'll fix that for next time. We get a white soccer mom van, a hearse, maybe a limo. We mix up the vehicles, and we mix up arrival times. Space it out over ten minutes. Lesson learned. Everyone get some rest, we'll be doing this again soon enough."
Two weeks later…
The twelve members of MTF Rho-Niner ("Theisman's Leg") moved down the street in smooth, catlike motions, their dark grey camouflage uniforms blending in perfectly with the night, their faces hidden behind the eerie, insectoid forms of their gas masks with integrated night vision equipment. They carried sleek, black submachine guns in their gloved hands, and flashbang grenades on their belts. They were fucking badasses, the cream of the Foundation's strike teams, the elite of the elite in the hidden shadow-war of the occult, and they were going to take this house DOWN.
They kicked down the front door of the target house and threw in flashbangs, causing the entire house to light up like a camera flash. Then they stormed in like the wrath of god, weapons raised, moving with precision and speed from room to room, sweeping every corner, searching every dark place for hidden enemies.
They were two rooms in when they saw the first dead body: some guy wearing heart-print boxers and a "Big Johnson" t-shirt lying dead over the kitchen counter. The walls were riddled with bullet holes and splashed with blood. Same with the next room. And the next.
It wasn't until they got to the living room, though, that Chimes took off his mask and cussed loudly. That was where they found the eight other members of the Chaos Insurgency cell laying on the rug, lined up neatly in a row, each of them with three rounds center-mass. There was a piece of paper pinned to one of their chests. Lieutenant Jameson carefully picked it up, then sighed.
"Fuck," he muttered.
"Basement's empty," Chu said, coming up the stairs. "Everything's gone. Hard drives, bombs, and the skip."
"Call it in, Minh," Jameson said. "I think this op's over."
He tossed the piece of paper onto the ground and walked out. Chu saw four words written in black sharpie, and the laurel leaves and pentacle logo of the Global Occult Coalition on the letterhead.
BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, it said.