OPERATION MORBID THORN
“Drac 3, everyone’s in position. You might want to hustle over here.”
From the rooftop, Ben Paddon watched Sans Leon slip out of cover and start to sprint towards the warehouse. Gold Squad’s rifle element had been sent to the rooftop to defend the transponder up there, where Sans Leon was to connect to his first transponder. As he closed the distance, Paddon said to the rookie Verdant next to him, “I can’t believe Coach wasn’t available to do this.”
“The operation was just taking too long, I guess,” replied Verdant.
“How long does it take to shovel alien genes into someone?”
“Shut the hell up, both of you. Listen,” said Thakilla, “Do you hear that?”
Paddon cocked an ear and heard the rotors of an approaching helicopter. Frantically, he looked around the roof of the warehouse, trying to find cover, and said to Thakilla, “Shouldn’t we hide somewhere?”
As the sound of the helicopter got louder, Thakilla glanced around, trying to find a place to hide on the rooftop, when he said, “Just lie down, stay low, keep an eye out for where they drop.”
Feeling unbearably exposed, Paddon laid down on the rooftop and listened as the helicopter got closer and closer. The night disguised the helicopter completely, but he could hear it hovering directly above him, the rotorwash bathing him in warm air. He looked up, hoping he could see something, when he was blinded by a searchlight suddenly flipping on. He swore and looked away, spots in his eyes, when he heard the crack of a sniper rifle. There was the snap of a high caliber bullet passing by his head, and the sounds of laser fire being returned. He looked back up and saw an EXALT soldier hanging out of the helicopter, but a well-placed laser shot severed his arm and he fell to the rooftop screaming. The helicopter turned to the left, revealing another EXALT soldier, but Paddon fired quickly and made short work of him.
The helicopter turned off its searchlight and flew away, and Thakilla called to Sans Leon, “Alright, they’re gonna shuttle some more people in so you better get your ♥♥♥ up here.”
After a few moments, Paddon heard the sound of Leon climbing up the ladder and he pulled himself onto the roof, running towards the transponder. As he ran past Paddon, he smirked and said, “Snazzy outfit, Leon.”
Working quickly, Leon pulled the laptop out of his bag and connected it to the transponder. After a few moments had passed, he quickly disconnected the laptop and said, “Done.”
Picking up the computer, he glanced down the nearby skylight and brought his pistol down on it, shattering glass. From below, an angry Volkov called out, “Hey, what the hell!”
“Sorry!” called out Leon, clearing out the remaining glass with his pistol. Gripping the ledge, he swung himself over and let go, dropping inside the warehouse. Paddon looked down the skylight and saw that he had dropped on to a pile of crates, scrambling down to reach the second transponder. Once he reached it, he repeated the same process, and from far off Paddon could hear the helicopter returning.
“Hey, Leon, we need to move!” called out Thakilla.
“Aaaaaand… I’m done! Let’s get the hell out of here.”
With the helicopter getting closer, Thakilla shouted down, “You 3, get Leon to the Skyranger. We’ll provide top cover from up here.”
“Roger that,” replied Mendiola. Thakilla gestured towards the other end of the roof, and both Paddon and Verdant followed behind him. Thakilla took cover behind an air conditioning unit and Paddon crouched low, moving as close to the edge as he dared. Verdant took a position close by, and from below they heard the crash of the warehouse door. Paddon watched as Mendiola charged out first, clearing the path to the Skyranger, and Volkov sprinted in front of Leon as they both charged towards the ramp. The sound of the helicopter was dangerously close, coming from the direction of the Skyranger, when Paddon suddenly saw it emerge from the darkness to drop two more EXALT troopers to the left of the running soldiers.
“Two contacts, to the left!” called out Paddon over the radio.
“Got them!” replied Mendiola, firing his railgun. One EXALT soldier took the impact to his chest and was thrown backwards, and from out of sight below the rookie Totoro Couch fired his laser rifle, striking and killing the remaining EXALT soldier. After the 2 soldiers were killed, the helicopter started to fly away and Leon made it to the safety of the Skyranger. Mendiola held his position on the ground, which Paddon took as his cue to get to the Skyranger. He slid down a nearby drainage pipe, hitting the ground and running. Behind him, Thakilla and Verdant followed suit, all 3 making it inside the Skyranger.
“Get inside, both of you!” cried out Thakilla, and Totoro Couch dashed across the ground and towards the Skyranger. Mendiola was the last soldier to make it inside, and as soon as he was, the craft lifted off and began the long trip home.
As soon as they were airborne, Paddon gave a sigh of relief and opened the vents on his carapace armor, enjoying the fresh air hitting his sweat soaked shirt as Leon pulled his laptop out and addressed the squad.
“The EXALT base isn’t in the United Kingdom,” declared Leon. He looked up, waiting for a response, when Thakilla asked, “Is that all you were able to learn?”
“Yes sir. That’s all I was able to get. Turns out covert operations aren’t really my thing, I thought for sure I was found it a couple of times.”
Thakilla grunted and said, “Well, it’s a good thing you weren’t. Welcome back.”