August 24th, 3056 (0145 hours, local time)

Planetary Headquarters of the Jade Falcon Watch

Red Stone Palace

Bone-Norman

Jade Falcon Occupation Zone

Hans Hertzog looked on in satisfaction as the stolen police van moved his team into position along with three others on the street opposite the Watch headquarters. So far, so good, he mused silently as he checked his gear for what seemed like the twelfth time. It's my first time as an operational leader..and I want this to go right.

The blue and white van appeared almost yellow in the anemic light of the underpowered streetlamp, the street and sidewalk slick with the remains of a recent rain storm that had blown through down off the mountains to the north.

The city of Red Stone Palace was quiet, as the Falcons had recently instituted a dusk to dawn curfew with the recent increase in guerrilla activity, not to mention asking the populace to put up with rolling blackouts and spotty communications as the guerillas went after the planetary power and communications network. This did not help the Jade Falcons either, as they now had to use their own power and communications gear to maintain their own operations, which while it did keep their various subunits on-planet in touch with each other, and able to have a modicum of electricity, it increased resentment among the populace, and increased the number of attacks on the Jade Falcons, both civilian and military.

He glanced at his watch again, 0145 and twenty seconds..another five, four, three, two, one and MARK!

Two figures in the white and green uniform, with a prominent patch of a black and white outline of the Falcon in flight on the left breast, walked briskly up to the outer perimeter guards who were dressed similarly with cups of coffee from a popular local chain. This uniform was the uniform of the Jade Falcon-backed Red Stone Palace Police Department, which these days, was made up of bullyboys and traitors. They won't be missed, Hertzog nodded grimly.

The guards were spending more time trying to keep warm in the 14 Celsius wet chill. The air was heavy, and humid, but there was no water vapor being exhaled by any of the figures. Both of the new arrivals subtly paired off with their opposite number on guard. Hertzog surveyed the scene..looks good, GO. He clicked his tactical mike twice and both of the newcomers produced knives and repeatedly stabbed the abdomens of the policemen on guard while clamping a hand firmly over the mouths of the victims, then, as the guards fell, they moved over the bodies and deftly slashed their throats from ear to ear, just to make sure. It had taken just seconds.

At that same moment, the two guards at the inner perimeter, a pair of armored Elementals, were engaged and neutralized by 4 sniper teams on a series of nearby rooftops, two per elemental, who put a pair of .340 caliber light armor piercing, 125 grain sabot rounds through their thin "V" shaped armored windscreens. Both Elementals were killed instantly when the bullets tore through the windscreen, the bullets then tore through the heads and upper chest cavities of the Elementals at velocities of more than 4500 m/s. The insides of the Elemental suits were literally painted with gore and blood as the suits froze in mid stride, becoming impromptu monuments to their operators. One of the figures at the outer gate recovered a flashlight from his belt, then flashed it three times. Hertzog smiled. Success, and surprise. We have them. Hertzog slammed his fist twice against the wall separating the passenger and driving compartment in the van, and the van's engine turned over, quickly coming to speed as it made for the outer gate. The figures quickly pulled the bodies out of sight, then made their way at a dead run to the inner gate, and began to work on the security lock, but not before blinding the camera with some locally purchased black spray paint.

The outer gate was little more than a reinforced wrought iron fence, and fell easily under the wheels of the lead van. All three soon pulled up to the inner gate, and a dozen figures soon spilled out of the vans, they were in Lyran issue tactical gear, their uniforms devoid of insignia, or even name tape. They wordlessly began to site in their heavy weapons, and dig emplacements for the expected Jade Falcon counterattack.

Hertzog remained in the van with the majority of his men. This wasn't his final stop. Nope, he had a little more to go. The lock was quickly defeated, and the gates, a pair of reinforced ferrocrete blast gates, swung open. At that moment, all three vans rolled through the gate, and headed straight for the loading dock on the south end of the building.

They each pulled rear end first into a separate loading dock, disgorging yet more figures, a total of 45 men in all, similarly attired and equipped as the gentlemen digging in at the gate. A pair of figures brought forward a set of mouse holing charges for the sheet steel rolling doors that overlooked each of the rolling dock bays. Well, the sound and flash will buy us a few seconds of paralysis..all we need. The charges were placed deftly, and everyone backed away into some semblance of cover as the ten second fuse counted down.

TEN…

NINE…

EIGHT…

SEVEN…

SIX…

FIVE…

FOUR…

THREE…

TWO…

ONE…

The doors reverberated with a loud BRAMM as they buckled like a beer can under the force of the shaped charge, blowing a man-sized hole in the door inward towards the large receiving room beyond. Before long, parties of two men had tossed disc shaped stun grenades into each of the holes, and waited until they detonated with a bright flash, and a loud report not unlike a shotgun held next to one's ear. Then, in parties of 15, the raiders piled through the holes in the doors and began to sweep the room, side to side, moving carefully, and slowly, yet quickly at the same time. There were small fires burning all over the floor of the bay as packages burned in the wake of the multiple explosions. Shattered plastic rained down from the florescent lights and crunched under the feet of the intruders as they duckwalked to the door leading to the main part of the building.

A Falcon laborer, who worked as a clerk was at the desk in the side office on the left side of the receiving floor, was on the floor of the office, the office door was knocked off of its hinges, and he bled from his nose and ears, moaning in pain. Hertzog pointed his head towards him, and nodded, a man peeled off from the middle group of raiders, walked right up to the raised his silenced Mauser and Grey pistol, and put two rounds into his chest, then one into his head. The laborer soon stopped moaning and lay still in the rictus of death. We can't afford any prisoners right now, Hertzog mused.

A small muffled bang announced that the lock on the inner door of the loading dock had given way under the attentions of a prybar. The door swung wide as the first team of 15 stacked, and then moved through as quickly as they could to avoid being caught by the Falcon defenders in the "fatal funnel". They found a three way intersection, just as the LIC operative had said they would, and went right down a long, windowless hall to another door, that led to that group's target, the records archive.

The second group peeled left, down another windowless hall, and headed for the living quarters for the analysts and the head of the Watch on Bone-Norman, a disagreeable former Elemental known as Star Commander Hargreve. All of them, at least, according to orders, were to be taken alive..if possible, but no one was really in a mood to make that possible. Hertzog and his men had been on Bone Norman for 11 months. They had seen what the Watch was capable of. The unofficial orders among the team was, unless they were wearing a bondcord, kill them.

Hertzog's group was headed for the biggest prize of them all. The ELINT traffic collection center. Bone-Norman was an important lynch-pin in the Jade Falcon ELINT collection effort along the FedCom border. Any ELINT activities had to go in the first hours of any invasion of the Jade Falcon/Steel Viper OZ, because the FedCom wanted to of course, keep the Falcons as blind as they could, for as long as they could manage it. Of course, getting some examples of Clan communications tech would be nice too, rumor had it there was an HPG somewhere in the building..but Hertzog figured it was not worth getting killed over.

Two men flattened at either side of the door, while a third covered the door, one produced a pry bar and quickly had the door open. And at that moment, the universe exploded. Green clan tracers tore through the space where the door was, stitching the commando covering the door with a series of red ichor blossoms as a series of assault rifle rounds tore him apart, and he was dead before he hit the floor.

Shit, there went surprise!

The two men to either side of the door reacted quickly, tossing a pair of flashbangs each down the open doorway towards the hair of gunfire, the flashbangs went off after a short delay, and Hertzog's group quickly stacked and assaulted through the doorway, the lead man found a pair of unarmored Elementals, staggering around blind and deaf, bleeding from the nose and ears, their weapons on the floor as they moaned in pain. Both were shot without delay or ceremony by the lead man in the stick.

The hall had four doors on each side, all were made of thick sheets of pressed wood laminate, with crude nameplates and stickers of both the Jade Falcon Clan, and the 94th Striker Cluster's sigil on the face of each door. Parties of two stacked by each door, but being short, one door at the end of the hall was left for when another group became free, Hertzog trained his weapon, a Federated Short Carbine in 7mm towards the door, just in case something came out.

Each door was opened with a prybar, a pair of flashbangs thrown in, and then the two raiders entered the room, one going high, the other low, as they proceeded into the room, heading for the near corners, clearing those, then methodically clearing the far end of the room, searching the closet, and under the desk. Wasps of smoke filled the hall as paper and furnishings began to burn in small fires, it got so bad, several men took off their face shields and slipped on their gas masks. Even with the thick cinder-block walls, shots and flashbangs reverberated through the building. Most of the fire sounded like that of the raiders, with very few reports sounding like Clan weapons. So far, so good.

As soon as that was completed. The raiders came to another door, this one double locked and made of a very tough looking metal alloy, with the legend in large red letters stating "ELINT COLLECTION ROOM, NO BONDSMEN OR LABORERS PERMITTED."

The locks looked too strong for a prybar..and Hertzog was not in the mood for subtle. A demolition man approached, and placed charges on each hinge of the door, with everyone backing away as the 10 second fuze counted down. The 3lb charges, 1 per hinge, went off as one loud report, the door crashing to the ground with a screech of tortured metal, as the room filled with smoke. The team stacked and entered, half went left, half went right, but the entry was anti-climactic. Two of the Falcon techs had been feeding documents into the shredder, they'd been about halfway done, while another tech had been busily smashing the hell out of the machinery, he dropped his sledgehammer the minute he had seen the commandos gain entry. All of the techs now had their hands well above their heads, their eyes as wide as saucers.

Ok, I think we can safely take these guys. "Ok Birdies, resist, and we shoot you, get it?" Hertzog growled.

The Falcon techs nodded as one, a female tech with sweat matted blonde hair gulping visibly with fear.

Two of Hertzog's men approached each of the techs, tossing them roughly to the ground, and then searching them without any acknowledgement of their comfort level. Once the raiders were satisfied they had been properly searched, they were ziptied, roughly pulled to their feet, and frog marched out into the hall, where they were sat crosslegged in the hall, and told to study the wall, or gain a third nostril.

Hertzog's subcommanders began to report in; VALKYRIE, THIS IS MLONJIR, CUTLASS, I SAY AGAIN, CUTLASS. That was the records room force, they were reporting complete success, and they had recovered the documents intact.

The next transmission came from a stranger, VALKRYIE, THIS IS FAUST, RAPIER, I SAY AGAIN RAPIER. FAUST LEAD AND XO ARE DOWN. LEAD IS KIA, XO IS WIA AND EXPECTANT. OVER. Again, this was a signal for success with the living quarters and seizing Star Commander Hargreves, but they had lost their team commander and assistant commander. That was unfortunate, to say the least.

FAUST, THIS IS VALKYRIE ACTUAL, DID YOU GET THE PRIMARY PACKAGE INTACT?

NEGATIVE VALKYRIE, WE HAVE THE PACKAGE, BUT NOT INTACT, OVER. Hargreves had not been taken alive, pity. After 11 months on Bone-Norman, and seeing what the Watch did to those it interrogated, he had been looking forward to watching LIC give the bastard a taste of his own medicine.

ROGER FAUST, CHARLIE MIKE, OUT.

Hertzog then grabbed a small pouch off of his belt, and made his way down the hall, he ducked into an office and opened the window, pulling the object out of the pouch. It was a small keypad with a small screen, a deft swipe with his thumb turning the object on. He typed a short message:

VALKYRIE FORCE SENDS: BATTLEAXE, REPEAT BATTLEAXE.

Hertzog then stabbed the "SEND" key, sending the message tearing skyward by burst transmission towards the incoming FedCom invasion force. BATTLEAXE had been the success signal. He glanced at his watch. 0148 hours. Not bad..they'd hadn't been able to beat 4 minutes in rehearsals.

An explosion lit up the skyline of Red Stone Palace, soon, other explosions followed. It wasn't long before the warbling of the invasion alarm went off. Too late, Mr. Falcon, Loki is already here. Looks like the Dropport is being hit on schedule. Now all I have to do is the hardest part..hold until relieved. Let's hope the 24th Arcturan Guards get down alright.