Mission 34

OPERATION LONE STRANGER
BOMB DISPOSAL
SHANGHAI, CHINA

Topnotch knelt in front of the bomb, manipulating its interface. He managed to get a side panel to open, revealing the delicate circuitry inside the bomb, when nearby Maxwell said, “Come on, we’re running out of time.”

“You think I don’t know?” asked Topnotch, thrusting his hand inside the panel. He groped around the innards of the bomb, searching for the switch. The bomb started to make a disconcerting buzzing sound as it started to get hotter and Maxwell said tersely, “Come on Notch, quit messing around.”

He grunted in reply, feeling the small delicate metal piece that was the kill switch. He wrapped his fingers around it as the bomb started to vibrate more violently and pulled down, feeling the piece snap in his hand. Instantly, the vibration stopped and the glow started to fade out of the bomb as it rapidly became inert.

Notch gave a sigh of relief and slumped against the bomb, removing his hand from the interior of the bomb, when Herr Comrade shouted from the roof of the slaughterhouse, “Reinforcements incoming!”

Nearby, Maxwell took cover behind a slaughtered cow as Notch heard the first thump of a Thin Man landing on the roof. He yanked his hand out of the bomb, taking some of the circuitry with it, as the sound of plasma fire came from the roof. He dove for cover behind one of the slaughtered cows and looked through the skylight, and saw Comrade with his plasma rifle pointed at something out of sight. Notch cursed himself for forgetting about the new weaponry and pointed his heavy laser towards the entrance of the slaughterhouse, waiting for more reinforcements.

The sounds of laser fire drifted in from outside the slaughterhouse, punctuated by Oranis’s railgun, when one of the skylights above shattered and 2 Thin Men dropped inside. He leaned out of cover and fired at the nearest one, killing it as it released a cloud of noxious smoke and Maxwell fired at the second, knocking its body out of the cloud of poison and against the far wall. Outside the slaughterhouse, the sound of fighting had already subsided, and Maxwell asked over the radio, “Is everything clear?”

After the squad called in affirmatives, Maxwell and Notch stepped out of cover. The acrid smell of the Thin Man’s poison mixed with the stink of the slaughterhouse, creating a violently unpleasant odor. Notch winced, trying to bear it as Maxwell walked out to check on the rest of the squad. Notch remained inside and turned back to the bomb, wanting to investigate it further. He had only practiced on mockups, reconstructions gathered from the failed mission in Nigeria, and was quietly thankful that the practice had paid off.

As he was lost in his thoughts as Herr Comrade approached and took a position next to him, saying, “Good job, man.”

“Thanks. It was touch and go for a bit, I thought.”

Comrade nodded and said, “Yea, I had heard about the mission in Nigeria. Nasty business. Glad we were able to do something about this one. How much do you think this could’ve taken out?”

Notch shrugged and said, “No idea. This whole block, more than likely. Maybe more. Enough that China would’ve followed Nigeria in pulling out, at any rate.”

From outside, Notch heard Maxwell shout, “We’re done! Let’s hoof it back to the Skyranger. If we’re lucky, we’ll make it back to base before breakfast.”

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