BARONA QUARTIERE, MILAN COMMUNE
THE PREVIOUS DAY
Hands on her hips, Franca examined the collection of suitcases neatly arranged in a row.
"You were right. We should have just rented a truck," she admitted.
"Probably a bit late for that now," Franco replied.
"With the Agency running them to ground, I'm surprised they're still wanting delivery," Franca noted.
"They paid for the product," her partner said with a shrug.
"We could use the Latitude," he then suggested, indicating the blue Renault sedan Franca had rented.
"We should probably take two cars, just for safety," Franco added.
PARCO SOLARI, MILAN
LIBERATION DAY MORNING
"I finally feel human again," Kara noted as she stood before the mirror in the master bathroom and started brushing out her hair.
Michele chose not to reflect on that comment, just as he chose not to reflect that she wore only her undergarments. His entreaties to the Medical Branch had either fallen on deaf ears or Kara somehow continued to work beyond her conditioning. As long as she continued to do so only when they were alone, he'd roll with it.
"Will we be driving with the Minister or taking our own vehicle?" Kara asked.
"We'll meet her at the hotel and then proceed to Monumentale," Michele replied. Milan contained two large cemeteries – the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano and the Cimitero Maggiore di Milano – that were built in the late 19th Century to consolidate the graves from many smaller cemeteries that had become isolated as the city expanded.
This would be Kara's first experience with the Italian version of Liberation Day, though she had strong familiarity with the French version, celebrated on 25 August, thanks to her growing up in Paris. Like France, Italy appeared to take Liberation Day very seriously: towns small and large held parades, concerts and festivals; most businesses not directly related to food services or lodging closed; and families took to the public parks in vast numbers.
Milan expected a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands at the Piazza del Duomo and the Parco Sempione. Already tight security had been increased with the news that Padania were planning to disrupt the event and the Prime Minister had requested Michele and Kara join Minister of Defense Monica Petris' security detail.
Kara walked into the bedroom and approached the closet. Having packed quickly and for mountain operations, she'd had her Chloé Silk Chiffon-Trimmed Crepe Dress and a pair of Chloé glossed-leather knee boots in a deep merlot color overnighted to the chalet.
"What do you think Padania will try?" she asked as she laid the dress out on the bed.
"After the shellacking we've been giving them in the Alto Adige, hopefully nothing," Michele replied.
"Maybe it will be like Day of the Jackal," Kara stated as she pulled on her boots. She rose and slipped into the dress, presenting her back to Michele to zip it up.
"The Jackal shot the first man through the door," Michele noted as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Then I'll be sure to be in front," Kara said, covering his hand with her own.
HOTEL PRINCIPE DI SAVOIA
PIAZZA DELLA REPUBLICA 17
Michele drove the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano up to the front entrance of the hotel, leaving it with the valet. They were met in the lobby by the head of Hotel Security and escorted up to the Ambassador Suite to meet with Defense Minister Petris.
After being briefed on the itinerary, they proceeded to the garage and boarded the Mercedes S600 Pullman Guard. Because of the width of the road and number of vehicles, the convoy took the most direct route along the Viale Francesco Crispi directly to the Cemetery. Upon arrival, they pulled up in front of the Famedio and quickly ascended the steps into the memorial chapel itself.
Inside, Minister Petris made a speech and placed wreaths at the memorials to the members of the Italian Resistance, soldiers of the Italian Expeditionary Force in Russia and the Italian Army in Russia killed during the Russian Campaign as well as the one for fallen members of the Carabinieri. Afterwards, she spoke with veterans spanning engagements from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Looks like nothing is going to happen," Kara stated just inside the entrance as they prepared to leave an hour later.
A moment later she'd come to regret those words as a deep rumble like lightning rolled over the cemetery, sending birds to wing and causing everyone to look up at a cloudless sky. A few people pointed to the southwest and Kara followed their gaze to see a dark cloud boiling up over the direction of Sforza Castle and the Arch of Peace. A moment later, another rumble was heard and another cloud rose, this one to the east.
"You were saying," Michele deadpanned. They retreated back inside and fortified their position as they awaited information. They soon learned that two explosive devices had gone off near Milano Centrale railway station and Milano Cadorna railway station, though neither station itself had been damaged nor were there reports of casualties.
As the onramp to the A4 Autostrade lay less than a kilometer to the northeast and due to the proximity of the Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station to both the cemetery and the hotel, the decision was made to evacuate the Minister. This forced Michele and Kara to call a cab to get them back to the hotel.
The televisions in the hotel lobby were tuned to Rai News, who reported that a rail bridge had been dropped, severing access to Milano Centrale from the north and west. A second bomb in an abandoned car had damaged a bridge on the Viale Marie Curie that spanned the tracks just before Milano Cadorna railway station. The bridge was still standing, but the station was closed while structural engineers were determining the extent of damage.
Kara handled the driving duties back to Michele's residence while the latter called into Jean to report on what had happened in Milan. Hanging up, Michele let out a deep sigh and Kara knew that another "What Went Wrong?" meeting was in their near future.
"Fio, status report" asked Yamato to Fio.
"So far we can only link the Padanian with the France Mafia branch…not much from it" she replied.
"Ah…our job seems not finished yet….no matter, we'll just finish it till the end…" continued Yamato.
"I'll contact the agency to see I they can provide us more backup" Fio spoke to Yamato.
"Heads up Silber, Chiara, Yuki…Ferro called three of you to her room" surprised Victoria telling them it's Lorraine's order. "What? Now?" asked Silber, Victoria nodded her head.
"Now what trouble did we raised today?" grunted Yuki, putting down her book onto the shelf next to her bed.
"I don't know…Jean told me to call three of you to meet her…"answered Victoria. "Okay…give us 1 minute for us to get ready…" replied Chiara.
Walking passes the corridor, they could see the morning sun shining from the outside, watching other cyborg played together with their friend or handler. At last, they arrived at Lorraine's room. Knocking her room, the door opened and Lorraine Andrea, standing in front of them, then said "Good, you three are now here…follow me…".
Hesitating, Silber asked Lorraine "are we in trouble Miss Andrea?"
Hearing just now, Lorraine answered "Trouble? No sweetie, I'm calling all of you because I have a mission for three of you along with your handlers" turning her head to the right while talking to the girls.
While walking, they came across with the girls handler; Leonardo-Chiara's handler, Bianco-Silber's handler and Kai-Yuki's Handler on their way meeting Director Lorenzo "Ah, it's good to see you here Lorraine, that saved our time finding you…." joked Bianco to her.
"Bianco, you seem pretty sure with your attitude…." commented Lorraine "come, follow me…"she add. Entering Lorenzo's office, the trio handler
briefed as they will support Yamato and Fio's operation in France.
"Consider its done director!" said Bianco, smiled to him
"I like your attitude Bianco….reminds me of my childhood…" replied Lorenzo to him, Lorraine only glared him as Bianco sent back a flirting look to her.
"We'll take care any trouble when we're in France director….since Bianco here will join us…" reported Kai, after getting briefed.
"Good…I want little to no involvement of you in France, make sure the France government doesn't know your involvement in their country" briefed more Lorenzo.
"Yes sir, Director sir!" responded the three handler.
"Good, now you three can dismissed and pack your things for the mission…"ordered Lorenzo.
"Wow…I'll go to Paris…finally" Silber talked to herself.
"Hold your horses Silber, we're going there only as a support for my sister for their mission…" said Yuki, demotivating Silber.
"Come on you two, we have a job to do…quick pack your gear!" exclaimed Chiara, bringing in her bag to her table, opening it while stuffing her clothes to the
bag and Placing her MC51carbine to her Amati Cello case, with her other equipment in her case "I'm ready…how about you two?" asked Chiara to the other
Trees passed the one by one as the TGV Artesia de Jour leaving Italy for France, cruised at the speed of 160km/h, past Torino already, and headed for Paris. "Look at that tree passed us…" enjoyed Silber, holding window of the train with both of her hand.
"Calm down Silber" said Bianco "can I get you anything?" asked him.
"I would like two cup of coffee…."thinking for a while and she add more "maybe with some croissant…"
Only nodding his head, Bianco the said "Okay Sil, I'll get you that…promise me that you'll diet next time, Compri?" asked him to Silber, second thought spin in her head before she nodded her head. Bianco rose from his seat and headed from the first class coach he was seated with the other, to the dining coach.
"Que Puis-je faire Pour vous monsieur?" asked the counter lady, in french language.
"Deux tasses de café et un croissant s'il vous plait" replied Bianco, flirting with the lady in French.
"Non-sucre ou le sucre?" asked the counter lady.
Bianco then replied to her "Sucre non s'il vousplait…"
Impressed by Bianco, the counter lady then said to him "your French are good" with her French dialect, tempting Bianco.
"Merci" he replied, enticing her in the eyes.
After he returned to the first class, Leonard asked him "are those for me?" making fun to Bianco.
"No, it's for me...and my cyborg…" replied Bianco "go get it yourself…"
Hearing what Bianco just said "sheesh…is it hard to take a joke?" as he rose from his chair, going to the dining car behind the car.
Seven hour pass after their trip abroad the TGV Artesia De Jour from Milan, they arrived at Gare de Lyon train station, Yamato and Fio waiting for them. "Long journey I see?" poke Yamato as he see Leonardo, Bianco and Kai, tired from their journey.
"I know…the coffee make me woke up the entire journey " Bianco replied, yawned his mouth open "luckily the cotton seat comfort me".
"Come you three, bring your cyborg and your luggage here, you'll rest in the hotel more than you can afford…." said Fio, instructing them to carry their luggage.
"Okay…promises us that you'll give us free meal, compri?" asked Bianco, holding Silber's hand.
"And for the three of you, there's something special waiting for all of you, girls…." said Fio to the girl, Puzzling them.
"Alright!' replied the entire girl, surprised and nervous to wait their surprise….
"So what's the mission?" asked Kai to Yamato.
"We've been tracking the Padanian relation with the other criminal ring surrounding Italy…one of the cle leads us to Lyon…." answered Yamato.
"We thought we solve the case, but another Intel showed up…." interrupted Fio.
"Well, let's start the work" said Bianco, before continuing his sentences "after we get some rest first…"
"Ah…shit..." muttered Yuki before vomiting on the sewer, since their operation start twenty minutes ago "How could the enemy stand the stench in the sewer?" asked her, disgusted.
"Quit your whining Yuki, what the enemy think is not important now…more important is we cut the head from their body…" warned Yamato, straying around the sewer below Lyon, finding the enemy hiding place.
"We're here…" replied Saber, their contact in France, as she opened the maintenance door, while aiming her G36k to the front. "The sewer connected to the other side of the Catacomb…we can get to their hideout ASAP" she explained.
Walking across the underground room full of bones and skulls of the remaining bodies under the city, Silber asked Chiara "how many people died in this place?" to which Chiara then answered "dunno, maybe hundred, thousand or million…" as they continue their path along the horrid hallway.
"Ai-chan, slow down…we can't catch with you!" said Yamato.
She responded to him "It's okay Yamato-Sama…as if the enemy knew our position…"just she finished the last word, a flashbang, thrown to the floor in front of them
"Flashbang!' yelled Bianco, before the flashbang exploded in front of them. Five second from disoriented, the team manage to recover from the shock, as the crossfire between two side rose.
"Covering fire!" ordered Leonardo, firing his Tar-21 through the narrow pass
"Saber! Cover me, we'll advance together one by one!" ordered Kai while giving suppressing fire with
his M14 EBR.
"Roger that!" responded Saber as she pulled out her Glock G18 and fired at the enemy in front of them.
As they advance step by step, they'd managed to kill almost all the hostile. While retreating, one of the enemy sew an opportunity, Saber in front of him, & aimed at her. Just before he could pull the trigger, he was shot in the head by Kai. However, the random fire triggered by the downed hostile, hit Saber's leg. "I'm hit!" screamed Saber, holding her right leg
"Are you okay Saber?" asked Bianco to Saber.
"Yes…I could stand it…." broken voices, Saber replied Bianco's concerned question.
"Silber, carry Saber to safety!" ordered Bianco.
"Wait! I can still fight you know!" exclaimed Saber.
"With your condition girl, you would do more harm than good.." he replied, before kissing her in the lip.
Saber only froze, blushed and followed his order, Silber carry her by the shoulder to the nearest room. "Yuki, Ai! Pursue the leader at the front!" ordered Yamato.
"Yes sir!" complied both the twins, Yuki pulled her Beretta 92FS two tone pistol while her sister pulled the Steyr TMP, chasing the enemy.
"Vous le gars! Donnez-moi de couvrir pendant que je cours a mon tour!" ordered the enemy's leader, ordering his two guards to defend him as he make for the run to his ride. Firing their MAT-49 to the girls, they tried to slow down, at least for their boss to escape.
"Sis! Give me your Flashbang!" ordered Ai to her sister, under the cover from the enemy's gunfire. Quickly Yuki throw her M84 stun grenade to her sister, hiding behind the table. After pulling the pin of the stun grenade, Ai throwed the grenade to the enemy position; blinding them for five second. Just before they could recover from their disoriented state, Yuki put two bullets to one of the hostile, one on the chest, one on his left eye while Ai fired her TMP, all of its round to the enemy's body. Both of the sisters advance, chasing for their leader. Unfortunately, they're too late, the enemy's leader managed to escape, riding his car from the building basement. The twins, manage to intersect the car early try to shoot the glass of the car, shattering it, to their dismay the car equipped with bulletproof glass.
After firing all their round to the fleeing car, Yuki report back to her handler "Kai-Sama, the target escaped…we couldn't stop it…" from the microphone in her shirt. Kai responded Yuki's report "that's okay, we'll get him next time…head back to our position…looks like we found out where he will headed next…"
SWA Compound; Rome
"Claes," Beatrice said, "are you sure we're allowed in here?"
"Sure," the other cyborg said, pushing at the double doors and swinging them open. "I come here all the time."
Even three hours before dinner, and with headquarters half emptied to reinforce the expanding Dolomites operation, the kitchen that served the Agency's dining areas was busy. Bice could see six people, all in white trousers and tee shirts and aprons, moving among the stainless-steel cabinets. Some were pushing carts loaded with containers or carrying pots and utensils; others stood at tables, mixing or chopping ingredients. All of them glanced at the doors as the two girls stepped in, then turned back to their work. One very large man, stirring a big pot on the stove, smiled at them. "Claes," he said.
"Hello, Chef Renati," Claes said. Beatrice recognized the name, though she had never seen the man: he was the head chef and nutritionist who planned the meals served in the dining hall.
"Coming in to try your hand again?"
"Yes, sir." She held up a large paperback book with a picture of a fancy meal on the front. "I have a recipe for a dessert soufflé with lemon and cheese. It looks pretty good."
"Does it?" He took the book from her hand and riffled through the pages. "Have you ever done a soufflé?"
"No, sir." She studied the man's ample belly. "But I found the book in my library, and the page is dogeared."
"Ah." The big man looked down on her a moment, then said in a gentler tone, "Well. Collect all your ingredients first. If you need anything, I'll send 'Cesca for it."
"Thank you, sir."
He returned the book and looked Beatrice over, bending slightly over her. "Who's your little friend?"
"This is Beatrice."
"Hello," Bice said, feeling a little shy.
"So now I have a name to go with the stories," the man said, smiling as he straightened. "The little mauve-haired girl, one of two who always come back for seconds when we serve, and seem to eat their own weight at every buffet. The blonde, what's her name?"
"Ayden," Claes supplied. "The Eating Machine."
"I like the food," Bice said. Which was true, but she liked the dining hall food mostly because it was food; even if she stuffed herself until she couldn't push another forkful into her mouth, she always felt a little hungry shortly after.
She'd worried about that a little, But Dr. Vacaro had shaken his head at her concerns. "You're not about to become our first pudgy cyborg. Your body doesn't store excess fat anymore. Whatever the reason for these pangs, they're harmless, and they have nothing to do with your blood sugar." He'd looked at her with the eyes of a man who knew more than he was telling; it occurred to Beatrice to wonder how often she'd gone hungry before she'd come to the Agency.
Chef Renati beamed at her. "So now you want to learn something about cooking, eh? Good. Claes, let me have a taste when it's done. We may want to put it on the menu somedays."
"As always, sir." Claes moved off, and Bice followed. They opened cabinets, picking up items, and visited the refrigerator for eggs. When they'd gathered everything on the dark-haired girl's list along with bowls and utensils, they moved toward the back of the kitchen and the oven.
The oven was huge, separate from the cooktops and set into the wall at shoulder height. Claes set the temperature and began laying out her goods on the nearby counter.
A short while later, as Beatrice measured ingredients and handed them to her friend, she said, "Chef Renati sure smiles a lot."
"He's a happy man." Claes cradled the big bowl in her arm. Ignoring the mixer, she was beating the mixture by hand with a long-handled wooden spoon.
"I don't think I've ever been happy. Really, I'm not sure I want to."
"That seems an odd attitude."
"Well, what's it good for? People who say they're happy smile a lot, and get silly over unimportant things. It's harmless enough, I suppose, but why does everyone want it?"
Claes paused and used a knuckle to push her glasses up on the bridge of her nose. "I think if you need it explained to you, the explanation won't make any sense."
Beatrice stared into the bowl at the sunny-looking mixture. "Maybe I just don't deserve to be happy."
"I don't think happiness is a gift to be given, or a reward to be earned. It's a prize to be taken."
"That's too deep. Where did you read that?"
"The Book of Claes, Volume One. Or possibly Two." She tapped her spoon on the edge of the bowl and presented the batter-coated end to her companion. "Taste."
Bice licked off a bit of the mixture. The flavors of cheese and spices, sweet and faintly tart, filled her mouth and nose. "It's good."
The dark-haired girl handed her the spoon and reached for a rubber spatula. "Careful there," she said as she scraped the bowl's contents into the baking pan. "For a moment, it looked like you might smile."
"Bice?" Bernardo's voice from the door, hidden from view by racks and equipment. "Are you in here?"
"Back here," Beatrice said. "By the oven."
A moment later her handler appeared. He eyed the sticky spoon in her hand and quirked a smile. "Claes will have to finish that by herself. We have work to do."
Beatrice frowned. "I thought we weren't going back to Naples until tomorrow."
"That job is on hold. We're headed north." He touched a fingertip to her spoon and claimed a small sample. "Where I'm sure that pert little nose of yours will be getting a workout." He licked his finger, and his eyebrows rose in appreciation. "Hm."
"I promised her a portion." Claes opened the oven door, sending a little puff of hot air among the three of them, and slid the pan in. "If you aren't leaving in less than an hour."
Bernardo smiled down at the handlerless girl, and then at his own. "If you could stretch that offer to two portions… maybe we could find something important to do for awhile."
Triela trudged alone through the dim woods around the safehouse, lost in her thoughts and worries. She'd had her examination. The doctors had probed and prodded, verbally and physically. She'd described her unsettling vision in more detail than she'd ever wanted to relive. They'd brought one of those helmets that they used during her regular checkups, and she'd dreamily answered more questions while it charted the electrical activity of her brain. They'd conferred and consulted for half a day before they'd rendered their opinion.
Their conclusion: they didn't know what had happened to her.
"The conditioning drugs are experimental," they'd told her at least three times. "Straight from lab animals to you without clinical testing. They're a radically different from established pharmaceuticals used to treat neurological disorders. There are bound to be side effects."
Like idiocy and premature death, she'd thought, but of course she hadn't said it. "Is it going to happen again?"
The doctor had shrugged. "We don't know that either. Did you have any warning?"
She'd thought about it. "Sort of."
He'd leaned forward. "Do you think you could tell if your symptoms were returning?"
Something in the man's tone had warned her. If she said no, she wouldn't be allowed in the field ever again. She'd nodded. "I won't be taken by surprise a second time."
He'd studied her a moment more, then nodded. "All right. Report to the infirmary immediately if you feel it coming on. Observing the episode as it occurs may be the only way to diagnose and treat the problem."
"I will." She'd left in a hurry, before he realized he hadn't specifically restricted her to the safehouse and corrected the oversight. She'd found Hilshire waiting for her, and had hung a look of relief on her face as she'd told him that the doctors hadn't found anything wrong, hadn't prescribed any treatment or medication, and had just told her to see them if it happened again.
She should have known he'd talk to the doctors himself.
'On reserve', she thought bitterly as she stomped down the path. 'House arrest' is more like it.
She emerged from the trees and gazed towards the main building a hundred meters away, and spied a strange car pulled up at the entrance: the messenger from Section One, she supposed, delivering Draghi's dossiers on the probable makers of the 'Liberation Day' group's clever bombs. The door opened and a man got out. Triela stared: it was Alonzo, one of Director Draghi's men she recognized – too well - from the Section One squadroom. Alonzo was the chief reason Hilshire had quit taking her to Section One to cool her heels while he conducted his business there. She remembered her last time in that large busy room, waiting with her back against the wall for her handler to return from Draghi's office, enduring the glances of all those men and their strangely knowing eyes. She flushed, just as she had that day, but this time it was anger that brought the blood to her face.
Alonzo went inside. Impulsively, she hurried to follow, and reached the door a minute later. She entered the chalet and found the small foyer already empty. She thought a moment, then headed for the ground-floor storage room which Jean had converted to an office. On the way, she passed by the rustically-furnished common room, which served as a sort of ready room and was usually busy with cyborgs and adults waiting for assignments. But, when she stuck her head in the doorway, she found Alonzo sitting alone on the room's worn couch.
She doubted the room had been empty when he'd entered; the two Sections generally didn't get along very well, the cyborg contingent and Draghi's staff especially. On her final visit to Section One's squadroom, she'd overheard comments Alonzo had made to his coworkers not intended for her ears. He'd referred to her as 'the German's little blonde blowup doll' and made vulgar speculations about her and Hilshire's relationship. Her reaction had halted work throughout the big room, and prompted her handler to tell Director Draghi himself that he wouldn't be bringing 'his Triela' through the doors of Section One again.
Alonzo was leafing through a magazine, trying not to look uncomfortable. He glanced up at the doorway, then quickly stuck his nose back in the periodical. Triela wondered if he'd gotten in any trouble –not for upsetting her, certainly, but for pissing off her handler. Whatever else one might say about him, Director Draghi was polite and courteous to Section Two personnel, regardless of their job, and seemed to have a grudging respect for Victor Hilshire. Perhaps sending Alonzo into this cyborg den far from his friends for a little turnabout was intended as a punishment. Whatever the reason, Alonzo was alone in the normally-busy room and trying hard not to notice her standing in the doorway.
She intended that not to happen. She entered the room and sat on the couch, resting an elbow on its heavy wooden arm. She didn't glance his way, acting as if she, too, was alone in the room. Alonzo was sitting in the middle, close enough to touch; he stiffened, but didn't slide over to put more room between them. She picked up a magazine and began turning pages. After a minute, she spoke in a low voice, still not looking at him. "He didn't order me from a catalog, and I wasn't delivered to him in a plain brown package. He rescued me in Amsterdam." She'd practiced this speech in her head many times, sure she'd never get a chance to recite it, but taking some comfort from the fantasy confrontation; now that her unlooked-for opportunity had presented itself, the words fell easily off her lips. "I see you don't understand. Ask your friends in the squadroom. I'm sure some of them used to be real cops. They can explain it all in detail."
She turned a page. The magazine was some sort of travel guide, full of beautiful pictures, but she didn't recognize the location. There was a canal in one of the shots, but she'd been to Venice, and it didn't look familiar. The surroundings seemed hotter and drier, and she guessed it lay farther to the south than that fabled city. "The short of it is, I was kidnapped, stolen. Sold. I don't remember any of it. That's part of what conditioning is about. But I found out anyway."
She turned another page: a restaurant scene. The big high-ceilinged room looked like it had been a church once. But the air seemed more that of a rustic backcountry inn, crowded with heavy wooden tables and colorful decorations. The place was full and busy, its patrons seeming in no hurry to leave, enjoying one another's company as much as the food. "When the men who bought me tired of me – or used me up, I suppose – they decided to make back their money by torturing me to death in front of a camera. There are markets for such things, lucrative ones. They were just about done when Hilshire and his partner shot their way into the warehouse they were using for a studio. His partner was wounded, mortally, but they kept going until they found me, just in time. Or a little too late or too soon, depending on how you feel about what happened after."
She turned another page, this one showing gaily dressed children playing in a narrow old city street; she could almost hear their voices ringing off the stone. "His partner died in the warehouse. But she lived long enough to give me CPR, get my heart and lungs working again. He promised her that he'd save me, take care of me, give me a life. That he'd see that her sacrifice had meant something." The page blurred; she blinked, and it cleared. "And he's done that, as best he could. He turned his back on his career and came to the Agency for me. They put me together again, brought me back to life, and gave me to him." The page blurred again, and she felt dampness on her cheeks, but she kept her voice steady. "I would do anything for him, absolutely anything. But aside from what we do for the Agency, he's never asked anything of me a good father couldn't ask of his child. And I will pull the tongue out of the next man I hear hint that he's a pedophile."
The last statement was pure bluff. She was sure her conditioning wouldn't allow her to harm an Agency man who wasn't threatening her handler. Then, she had a thought. Maybe … would attacking Hilshire's character, trying to soil his reputation, be considered some sort of threat? Might it untie her hands a little, at least to the extent of allowing her to bend back some fingers?
Victor Hilshire stepped out of Jean's office to call for Alonzo, and found the man sitting, ashen-faced, next to his cyborg on the wood-framed old couch, both of them gripping magazines that neither appeared to be reading. Tears jeweled Triela's lashes, but she was smiling down at the page. Alonzo looked up at Hilshire as if the Section Two man had come to kill him. Hilshire said stiffly, "Mr. Croce is ready for you now," and stepped aside as the man popped to his feet and hurried out the door. He entered the room and fixed his gaze on Triela, whose smile was now aimed at him. "What did he do?"
"Nothing," she said. "He didn't say a word to me." She lifted the magazine in her hands. "This place is so beautiful. Do you think we could go there sometime?"
"White Knight, this is Huntress. Gimme an ETA on arrival to drop point?" The young woman sat down in her seat, alone, in the empty cargo bay of a Hercules. She wore a jet black, skin tight, stealth suit with a streamlined backpack, and a large pack above that. She had all of the tools needed to survive for weeks on end, and could use enemy gear, so ammo would be no problem.
"Ten mikes to drop, ten to drop." A young man stepped down from the cockpit. "Gear check. Stand up ma'am." He walked over to the young woman. "Just say yes or no."
The woman nodded, and stood up.
"We don't usually do solo ops, especially with a rarity like yourself. Gen three, right? Regardless, your handler is in a safe place, and she gave her gear package to us before you arrived." He handed her a mid size duffle bag, which she opened.
"One TDI Vector smg, suppressed."
"One M16A4, suppressed, with ACOG."
"Yes." They ran down the list, and she clipped the bag to her waist, at the front.
"Drop in 30 seconds. Approach tail section." The woman did so. "Good luck Isabella, sorry, Huntress."
"Sorry you couldn't drop with me Isaac."
"Next time babe, base has me on logistics for a week since that thing in Turin." He kisses her as the ramp opens. "Jump is go, green light, give em hell Huntress."
Isabella gives a quick salute and sprints off the deck, into the howling dark. She curled into a ball, before going into a straight dive. Below her was a valley, with many trees and a small lake. She could make out a faint blip of light near the lake. "Got eyes on one of the suspected locations. Setting waypoint, how copy?"
"Devine Red copies all, proceed to target." Her handler spoke over the comm. "Good luck kid."
She waited a few seconds before pulling her ripcord. She jolted up a bit as the chute caught air, before finally drifting slowly to the ground. "Tell me why you couldn't come with?"
"I couldn't risk exposure. One operative can do what two cannot. Get in undetected, kill or capture who you can. Once we get confirmation from you on capture of the hide site, I'll roll in with a small team and link up with you, capito?"
"Yeah, grazie." She said before landing with a grunt. She unclipped her bag, and cut the chute harness. "On station, start the clock."
"Roger, radio silence until confirmation of target structure. Devine Red, out."
She took her gear from her bag, holstering her Vector, and packing her suits backpack with two First Strike Rations and a light survival pack, before taking her M16A4 and moving out quietly to the target location.
She knelt down by a tree, fifty feet away from the suspected hideout. Isabella aimed down her ACOG, looking for any tasty targets to put fresh holes in if the need arose. She found nothing, and approached the house, crawling under the porch and into a small vent under the main structure of the house. She snaked to the right, before spotting another vent, and crawling out into a closet.
Isabella waited for anything that would be cause to confirm this as the location. Seeing noone, she slowly moved out to a staircase, and heard footsteps coming from upstairs. She hid, before one man came down, wearing forest camo. He had a Russian MP443 Grach pistol by his side. But he clearly wasn't Russian. FRF, she's seen them before, common as they were down south.
She waited for him to get closer, before silently moving out of the closet and grabbing the man, to ensure he couldnt move, she tied his arms in 3 different places, and slammed her boots down on his legs while keeping his mouth clamped shut. She then double tapes his mouth shut, and closes the door, walking quietly upstairs.
Spotting an FRF soldier, and putting 3 rounds in him, before walking into a kitchen, and popping the two soldiers in there. She clears the first floor and flies up to the second, where the command center and armory lay. There was one man in the command center, who she tied up.
"Site confirmed and secured. Too few foot mobiles, gotta assume theres a vehicle patrol out there." She saw headlights, as a small Mercedes Sprinter van arrived. She set her M16 in the window, before taking out the driver and the tires. A squad piled out and each were greeted by a 5.56mm round to the skull.
"Site secured. Get out here as quick as you can Devine."
"Understood, en route." Carolina said in a pleased tone.
Isabella walked to the armory, looking at what was there, before checking on her prisoners. She wasn't questioning them until Carolina arrived so she sat by the living room, where the front and back doors were, waiting for her handler.
"Okay…" said Bianco, he ordered Silber to shoot the man's left foot.
Screaming after being shot by Silber, the man then said "Tu es fou! Je ne vous dis!" Silber shot his right leg and still the man replied the same "Je ne vous dis!"
"I got their location…it's in Tyrol, Austria…." Said Bianco, finished interrogating the captive
"What about the captive?" asked Fio.
After being asked by Fio, Bianco pulled his Beretta 92 and shoots the man, point blank to the head "What about him?" he said. Kai only shook his head as they leave the mess and headed to Tyrol.
Garni Glockenstuhl, Mayrhofen, Austria
"Leonardo is with his cyborg, conducting patrol near the mountain where the target last seen by our scout…while Bianco enjoy the 'sightseeing' around the town…" said Lorraine.
"Yuki-Chan, we'll be there after we finish our job!" delighted Ai, to her sister; Yuki then said "are you sure? Well then we have to get ready with our sweater, it's cold down here. "Shivered from the cold, Yuki wrapped herself in a blanket. "Come on Yuki, breathe the fresh alps air!" exclaimed Ai as she pulled Yuki's blanket out from her body .
"Kya! Ai! Give me back my blanket dammit!" angered Yuki as she chased her sister around the room.
As they watch the twins play with each other, Kai then said to his friend, Yamato sitting next to him "I wonder what's it feels like when these two girl live by their ordinary life…."
Upon hearing Kai's word, Yamato then said to him "too bad both of them suffered so much in their life…."
"Flirting someone Bianco?" teased Saber, coming from nowhere, with Yarrow next to her.
"Saber, my darling…" replied Bianco. Just before he could hug Saber, his face was slapped by Saber.
"This is for putting me behind the fight you rascal!" said Saber before kissing him "and this is for kissing me…"
"Any movement in the cottage?" inquired Yarrow to his Cyborg.
"Five hostiles signore, another four more inside the barn" reported Gattonero to him. As they watch
the cottage 155 meters away, Leonardo's team, with Kai and Saber, move from the southeast.
"We're in position, Yamato, move up" ordered Kai to him.
"Roger….Moving.." replied Yamato, as he drove his car to the cottage, disguising as a lost tourist.
"Nice job Gattonero…" praised Yamato as he gave the go-signal to Leonardo. "Okay guys, let's move out."
Cocking his UMP-45, Leonardo moved silently across the bush, behind the cottage. "Yarrow, eliminate the guard in front…" ordered Leonardo, as the slither silently to the3 back door.
"Roger that…" as Yarrow give the signal, Gattonero aimed the Suppressed PGM Hecate II she borrowed from silber and shoot the the guard at the balcony.
"Target as good as down…" reported Yarrow, looking with his binoculars. "Gattonero, enemy, 157 meters away, wind 5 knot, push to right, fire when ready" instructed Yarrow. Quickly she calculated and shot the .50 caliber round to the second enemy, killing the guard.
"Okay team, let's move!" ordered Leonardo, as they ran to the back door. Once they arrived at the back, Leonardo asked Saber for a flash bang "Chiara, get ready to breach..." Chiara, standing next to the door, prepare to breach the room. Using her Benelli M3 shotgun, Saber shot the hinge of the door, two times, making the door opened. Quickly Chiara tossed thee flashbang grenades and breached the room, followed by Yuki in her back.
"Enemy!" exclaimed Saber as all of them entered the back door, Lorraine spit all her shotgun shell to the target, killing one of them in the crossfire.
One of the escaping enemies ran to the open, towards the wood. "Gotcha on my scope…." Gattonero aimed from her sniping hideout.
"Gattonero, shoot to wound…." ordered Yarrow as Gattonero aimed the enemy's leg. Shortly afterward, the enemy fell down, his leg were blown to pieces by the .50 caliber shot.
Quickly Yamato and Ai apprehend the last suspect. "Next time, use the smaller caliber please?" commented Yamato. As they apprehend the remaining hostile, the high valued target arrested by Leonardo and Chiara
"HVT is arrested, I repeat HVT is arrested" Saber reported, hugging Bianco from behind, then
asking him "When shall we play together?"