The First Hunt

Boston wasn't like the other cities. New York, Washington, and San Francisco had absorbed a lot of the destruction of the invasion, but Boston, somehow, had come through unscathed. True, Soviet soldiers and armor seemed to be on every street corner, and the sky seemed filled with attack choppers, but for the most part life continued as normal in the city.

One man, however, was going to change all that. He got off the 'T', Boston's subway system, and looked left and right in the station. He looked respectable enough—navy blue suit and red tie, white shirt, clip-on shades over his rectangular glasses, a briefcase in hand and a pack on his back. Everyone thought that he was some mindless government bureaucrat, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

It just made his job, that of being a killer, that much easier.

The man made his way through the streets of Boston, biding his time until he saw the signal he was looking for: A simple compass rose, made like four arrows, on the side of an apartment building. Happily enough, a small Soviet detachment was guarding the hotel across the street, with the sickle and hammer flag flying high above. The killer nodded to himself, then entered the apartment complex.

He walked to the fifth floor, rather than take the elevator, and his reasoning was simple. The Soviets, powerful as they were, still couldn't handle what Americans thought of as simple problems like power distribution. Already several Bostonians had been stuck in elevators for up to four hours if the power suddenly died. Once he got the fifth floor, he rapped on the door once, paused, then rapped four times quickly. Two answering raps came back, and the door opened.

"You the accountant?" The man inside the door asked. The killer nodded silently. "Come in, then." Quickly, the man in the suit stepped inside, and closed the door. He looked around. All down the hall and in the rooms he could see were resistance fighters and their equipment. A man in camouflaged fatigues saw the blue suit, and walked over.

"It's good to have you, Coureur. News of your particular talent has already spread." The man gave the commander a small, tight smile.

"Yes, I have already noticed that. I trust that you received my package?" The commander nodded silently. "Bien. By the way, that about exhausts my French, so don't get any ideas. Here is my end of the bargain." The briefcase was exchanged, and the commander opened it. He whistled in admiration.

"An M40. I haven't seen one of those in months. Don't worry, coureur, I'll give it to my best sharpshooter. Your weapon is in room five-D, my young friend. Get your gear on, and meet me in five-A for the briefing." The sniper nodded, and quickly strode to his room, where he shut the door and drew the blinds.

Well, that's one American weapon reclaimed, Kevin Villiers thought to himself, slinging his pack off and getting its contents out. Stripping down to his skivvies, he exchanged them for a pair of Underarmor shorts, what he called the runner's boxers. Quickly, he put on his ACUs, having liberated them from the same Soviet GAZ truck as the American sniper rifle. He put on his Kevlar vest and pads over his fatigues, then affixed the knee and elbow pads. Finally, he put on the garrison cap and knelt on the floor, finding the case and pulling out from under the bed.

Opening the case, he saw with satisfaction his first rifle. The optics hadn't been jarred, the safety was still on, and the bolt open. What he was admiring was an 1891/30 Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, bought a year before the invasion by Villiers. The scope was still the original one issued in 1942, but upgraded by having an anti-reflective coating on the scope. Kevin had done this to protect his eyes more than anything else, but it certainly did the trick to prevent Russians from seeing him.

The sniper put his boots on his feet, and stood up, ready to go when he saw himself in the mirror. As always, the transformation stunned him. He was a tall young man, about six foot one, with short blond hair, almost a buzz cut. His face was healthily tanned, due to his activities, and his muscles, while not obvious, were strong for his lightly-built frame. But most interesting of all, to his friends and fellow fighters, were his eyes. They were a pale blue, like ice, and revealed little. Even his girlfriend, Elizabeth, could not discern his thoughts. It was probably better that way, Villiers had decided.

Villiers slung the rifle over his shoulder, and walked down the corridor, his captured boots thudding down the corridor. Fighters looked up at the sound, impressed with what they saw and almost fearful when they saw the rifle. They all knew who Coureur was, and the fact that they couldn't see his eyes behind the shades only made them more apprehensive. Villiers didn't care for it; God knew that it was difficult being a high-school junior and a Resistance fighter at the same time.

The group's commander had gathered his squad and special team commanders in 5A, where a wall was covered with a diagram of the hotel and pictures of the areas of tactical importance. He had waited until the coureur walked into the room, and seeing the sniper made him begin.

"Ladies and gentlemen, listen up." The commander's calm voice, though spoken softly, cut through the din and stopped all conversation. "Thank you. We have a mission to accomplish, and then we must extract ourselves from Boston. The objective is simple: Assault the hotel from the street level and the basement, converging on the third floor to room three-one-two," The commander said, marking with a black marker the points of ingress and egress. The men and women stared at the map intently, already formulating plans and contingency plans.

"Once we breach the door and secure the package, we will use the vehicles in the parking garage adjacent to the hotel to make our extraction. We will go as far as we need, and then drop off several of our fighters. Some need to make their way south in order to carry on the fight."

"Now, for assignments. Alpha and Bravo squads will make the assault on three-one-two, with support team Saber providing assistance. Charlie and Delta squads will provide perimeter security, with teams Dagger and Axe on the lookout for armor. Finally, team Scalpel will provide overwatch, eliminating officers, heavy weapons and other TOs."

As soon as Villiers heard his assignment, he breathed easy. At least he didn't have to go in and eliminate the target this time. He still had nightmares from the last one, a Guards Regiment colonel. As the unit leaders turned to leave, the commander waved Villiers over, where three other men were gathered. The sniper walked over languidly, using an economy of motion that came whenever a race or battle was about to start.

"Coureur, meet your team. This man here is Specialist Rolands." The corporal nodded politely to the sniper, a SAW in his hands. He looked a lot stronger than the sniper, and was probably tasked with making sure the teenager survived the fight.

"This fine lady, on my right, is Sergeant Waters. I believe that you know her as 'Historian.'" And indeed Villiers knew her, but it was doubtful that Waters remembered him. The M40 was slung over her shoulder, and she offered the teenager a warm grin.

"Finally, this is Private Lourdes, another compatriot of yours in terms of heritage." The private didn't laugh. Instead, he sized up the teenager, but could not seem to be too contemptuous because of the Staff Sergeant insignia on Villiers' cap. The rank was official, having been given to the teenager after the government-in-exile in the Canadian wilderness learned of the teenager's exploits.

"I'll leave you to get to know one another. The assault begins at 1800." The commander said, leaving the room. Villiers quickly glanced at his watch. 1545. Nearly two hours, the sniper thought to himself. Two hours in which to locate potential hides, check his equipment, make sure his team members knew how he would act, and establish a division of targets. Not an ideal situation, but that was now the norm for Coureur.

"Okay, I'll dispense with the protocol," Villiers said softly, turning to study the maps. "You don't call me by my rank, you call me Coureur. I'll probably call you by your last name; I don't mean to be condescending, but a rank merely singles you out in combat. Do you all understand?" A short, respectful nod from Rolands, a grin from Waters, and a hostile, choppy nod from Lourdes. "Good. Now, do any of you know some good hides around here?"

"Yes, Coureur. The roof of the apartment building has quite a few ducts and pipes, plus the usual stairwell openings. Kind of a jungle up there, and it is about the same height as the sixth floor of the hotel. Also, there's a blown-out side street where the Russians have set up an MG post. We could use that to our advantage." Villiers was surprised that Rolands had spoken; apparently the specialist was going to be NCO material in a few months. He gratefully nodded, locating the MG post on the map.

"Good, good. I do think we can use that, but I'd prefer not to. Ms. Waters, tell me, do you still run the sixteen?" Villiers slipped the question in innocuously, waiting for the reaction. He and Mary Waters had been on Nauset High school's track team, and Villiers recalled rooting the sergeant on.

"My God, it's you!" Waters gasped, unable to believe her eyes. Kevin took off the clip-on shades, allowing Mary to see his eyes. It was confirmed beyond a doubt. "It is the eight runner! Man, didn't you get two fifteen the last meet?" Mary asked, happy to see her friend Kevin but not a little afraid of what he had become.

"You still remember that conversation, eh? Yes, I did get two fifteen for the eight hundred. I should be able to qualify for States this year, if they're still being held." Villiers said, sharing in the happiness of the moment. He knew that Mary had enlisted, but somehow she had survived the initial debacle and joined a Resistance unit, seemingly made up of military personnel and organized as a platoon. Villiers approved of the whole set-up, as he had been planning on enlisting when the Soviets invaded.

"Well, enough about the past, we have to concentrate on the now." Villiers said, abruptly cutting the moment short. He couldn't help but notice Lourdes shoot him an angry look, and had finally had enough of the private. "Something you'd like to say, Lourdes?" The malevolence almost flared in the man's eyes.

"Yeah, I got one question: Can a pansy like you lead us? I thought that this 'coor-ur'," he said, massacring the French word, "This sniper would be a mean dude, but instead we get a friggin' high school kid? You'll be dead in five minutes, and I don't think you can handle this." Villiers stopped, and looked coldly at the soldier. He glared contemptuously at Villiers, certain that he had made the kid feel bad.

Before Lourdes knew it, he was lying flat on his back, a sharp burning sensation in his knee, a knife to his throat and the shades back on Villier's glasses. "I could have killed you easily a second ago, but it is the sheerest professionalism and acknowledgment of the importance of this assault that I don't. That satisfy any questions you had?" Shaken, the private shook his head, vowing never to judge a person again. This kid had just managed to take down a black belt in jujitsu. He was, in other words, the NOMFWIC: The Number-One Mother F#cker Who's In Charge.

"Any other problems?" No one spoke. "Good. I think we all know our roles. Be back here at 1715 for the final briefing and to get to the jump-off point. Dismissed."