I have no rights to anything, etc. Feel free to PM or e-mail me if anyone has any questions, suggestions, reviews, flames, whatever. Don't forget that Wikipedia is your friend incase you were curious about any of the obscure references I'll be making throughout this entire story. I hope you enjoy this next chapter.
The drive through Sydney was fairly uneventful. It was however, educational. Driving through the city streets helped him get accustomed to the pulse of the city. Because that's what roads were, veins pumping cars through a concrete and glass heart. Each city has its own blood flow and picking up on this flow was how one became a good driver in a foreign setting.
So he felt the pulse, experienced the flow of traffic, the behavior of the drivers around them, the posted speed limits and the actual speed of the road, lane sizes and the direction of rush hour. He made a note to chat up some locals who could talk to him about traffic in Sydney.
"Nice place isn't it Corporal?" Agent Walker said, looking out the other window. Yang turned to look at the older gentleman and hesitated a moment before he answered.
"Yes sir." Yang returned to his window, bracing an elbow against the door and cupping his knuckles under his chin. Walker stole a glance at the young man, about to correct him with the whole "Sir" thing but upon seeing the distant look in the corporal's eyes, decided against it. Walker had seen that look in some former CAG shooters he'd worked with. Burn out husks, too much time spent downrange in third world hell holes. Walker couldn't understand it. What the fuck had happened to the kid in the file he'd received?
An hour and a half later.
The Research Division facility was set on the north side of four stacked buildings owned by some corporation called "Dyna-Systems". Each building looked identical, being four story lengthy structures that appeared to be quite sturdy. They had domed roofs of tinted glass except for a series of atrium openings that probably provided natural lighting to the building through mirrors.
Each building was separated by a wall with an entry gate manned by uniformed rent-a-cops, the only professional looking security being the ones manning the front gate of the Mithril building. Yang noticed how easy it would be to get into the facility and sighed. He could see ten different things wrong with the security of the facility with but a glance. He decided to bring this to Walker's attention when he had a chance.
Currently, they were parked just to the left of the gate with the trail vehicle to the right of it. Veronika and Price remained in the vehicles, keeping the engines warm while Walker waited in front of the gate for the principle to emerge from the facility. Vikowitz and Yang stood outside the passenger doors of each vehicle providing perimeter security. While he waited, Yang tapped a finger against his thigh in a rhythmic one-two-three-pause.
Chest, chest, head. Knocks them down, keeps them dead.
It was a training mantra, something Yang had learned in Mithril basic. It referred to the "Double-Tap" counter terrorist technique. Two rounds in rapid succession to the chest to ensure accuracy and to increase the stopping and knockdown power of low caliber cartridges, the weapon of choice in hostage scenarios. 9mm rounds were used because they lessened the chance of over-penetration, possibly shooting through bad guys and injuring hostages, but because it was a weaker caliber, three-round bursts or the double tap were the best methods of putting a target down, with double tapping be the most accurate. The final shot is if they don't drop after the first two, and to make sure they don't get up again. Yang heard the gate open behind him.
"Have a good day Ana." Said one of the guards, and a soft, vaguely Russian accent replied, "You too Micky. I'll see you Friday."
"Hey Ana, how did it go?" Walker said behind Yang.
"It went well Walker, thank you…is this the new guy?"
"Yeah, Corporal, come say hello!"
Yang frowned just a little. He didn't approve of introductions in the open like this, regardless of estimated threat levels, presence of guards and location. However he knew that his refusal to comply would result in longer exposure, so he decided to get this over with as quickly as possible. With one last check of his sector, he turned and walked around the car to meet Anastasiya Kamov, the mission principle.
Anastasiya was five and a half feet tall and weighed one hundred and twenty pounds. At seventeen years of age, it was already quite clear that she was going to mature into a beautiful woman. She had short, auburn hair so deep it looked like it was on fire and it framed her face nicely with eyes like embers to match. She had a soft tan and an athletic figure honed through what her file said was her favorite hobby, tennis. She wore a pair of hip hugger jeans and a yellow tube top under her denim jacket. She was…very perky.
"Hey, he's kind of cute!" She beamed and bounced forward to meet him, offering a hand. "I'm Anastasiya, everyone calls me Ana though."
Yang blinked, blushing just a little as he took her grip with a little bit of hesitation. "Um, Yang. Yang Jun-Kyu." He managed a tiny smile. She arched a brow at him, looking at Walker for a second before returning her gaze to Yang.
"It's nice to meet you Yang. Come on, I want to know more about my new driver." The confident girl released his hand and opened the rear passenger door, hopping inside the vehicle ahead of Walker and him. Exchanging looks with Walker, the Agent in charge nodded and took the front passenger seat so Yang could sit in back with the principle.
Yang hadn't even closed his door before the girl was leaning over into his personal space, inches away from his face and peering up at him with those burning eyes and an energetic grin. Yang found him self leaning away just a tad, caught off guard by her forwardness.
"So, you're Korean huh? South?" Yang nodded quietly, avoiding eye and looking through her instead of at her. This caused the girl to frown, feeling ignored. Turning her lips thoughtfully, she gave a shrug and leaned up to give him a kiss on the end of his nose. This got Yang's attention, and caused him to give a start at the sudden action.
"Wh-wha-?" he exclaimed, cheeks coloring. She giggled and sat back, her hands withdrawing onto her lap.
"Got your attention didn't it?" Smirking, the girl cocked her head to the side as she fixed him with that intense gaze again. Yang straightened up a little now that she was no longer invading his personal space, but shifted uncomfortably under that gaze.
"I…what did you want to know about me?" He quickly moved the conversation forward, glancing timidly at the girl. This seemed to amuse her, as once more that toothy grin crossed her face. She had high cheek bones and cute dimples, he noticed.
"So you're from Mithril's Tactical Division huh? The Special Response Teams? I kind of thought you'd be bigger." She pouted a little, her romantic image of a Special Forces soldier crushed. Yang might have been insulted if he actually cared enough.
"Sorry Ma'am…" He replied quietly. This seemed to irritate her, her eyes glowering at him.
"Ana. Call me Ana. Say it."
"Ana. Call me Ana." Yang replied flatly, his features blank. She laughed at his straight face.
"Well you have a sense of humor! Good, I was worried there. I thought I was going to have to check for a pulse, you seem so…dead." She snickered and folded her arms across her impressive chest. Yang smiled a wistfully at that.
Maybe I already am…
Suddenly, she was snuggled up against his side, hugging his arm and resting her cheek against his shoulder.
"H-hey!" He lifted his shoulder and brought his other arm across his chest to try and push her off of him, but froze as she shot him a look. A look that said, "Touch me and I will end you." Yang gulped and looked over at Walker, who was watching the whole thing from the front seat, for help. Walker winked and turned around, leaving Yang with this energetic, bold young woman.
With a sigh of resignation, he looked out the window and braced an arm against the door, putting his cheek into his fist. This mission was going to be a long one.
Mithril Safehouse, forty minutes later.
Mithril's safe house was a one and one half tan colored wooden bungalow with a grey roof. It was a fairly large "California Bungalow" as they were called, apparently very popular in the early 1900's in Australia. This bungalow had an asymmetrical "L" shape to it with the inside of the "L" facing the street.
The building was located at the bend of a curving street that snaked through the residential neighborhood, many of them bungalows as well. This bungalow was one of the larger ones, but unlike the others did not have an enclosed porch. The structure looked large enough to comfortably fit the team, although someone was most likely bunking with someone else.
During the drive, Anastasiya had passed out on Yang's arm and he didn't have the courage to wake her up. But he needed his arm back now that they were pulling up to the property, forcing him to gently nudge her awake as they pulled into the two car garage next to the house.
"Ma'am? I mean Ana? We're here…" He said softly, poking her arm a few times. She groaned and hugged his arm tighter to her breasts much to his discomfort, her eyes fluttering open.
"Hrm? Oh, hey, we're here." She let go of his arm and sat up, stretching with a yawn.
Yang sighed and opened his door, stepping out of the car as the trail vehicle pulled into the other space a few feet away. The garage looked well stocked, with a professional tool cabinet and bench against one wall, leading Yang to think that one of the team members was familiar with automobile maintenance. A door near the back led into the house itself.
Suddenly the lights turned on as Veronika hit a switch on her side of the garage.
"Alright, we're here. Vikowitz, why don't you show the corporal around the house. Price, kitchen, make something special for tonight, gotta welcome the corporal properly." The team filed in through the front door, but Yang and Veronika remained behind. Wordlessly, she unlocked the car and hovered nearby while he fetched his bag from the trunk. He glanced at her as he shut the trunk afterwards. He got the feeling that this wasn't just some ice queen act. She just didn't like him for some reason.
While he stood there trying to figure it out, she turned and left the garage after the others. Matting his lips, he started to follow her but stopped as he realized something. Why was nobody watching the house while they were gone? Yang grunted and rolled his shoulders uneasily at this. It was a stupid move. Someone could have snuck in and planted an explosive or monitoring device. Taking a deep breath, he made a note to bring this up with Walker along with his other observations. He followed Veronika through the door.
The garage led into a well equipped kitchen with an island in the center featuring a counter on one side and a large chopping board and sink on the other. Another, larger double basin sink next to a washing machine was near the kitchen window, cabinets lining two walls while knives and pots and pans hung on another. The eastern wall had been knocked down and opened immediately into the expansive living room. The front door was visible from here and a long hall at the other side of the room led to a series of doors that were probably bedrooms while another wide archway along the rear wall of the living room led to something else.
The living room had a large futon couch that looked like it might have turned into a bed, and two leather recliners facing a fairly large plasma television. Large speaker towers lined the sides of the entertainment area, which appeared to have an X-Box 360, DVD player and digital cable set up. What looked like an alcohol cabinet was on the rear wall behind the entertainment seats.
The living room was obviously divided into the entertainment side and the side closest to the kitchen, which had what appeared to be a very comfortable looking wooden framed love seat and an equally comfortable looking chair. They were arranged in front of a fireplace.
"Welcome to home base, corporal. Follow me, I'll show you around." Vikowitz strode past Yang and gestured for the other soldier to follow him.
"Here we have the living room, our entertainment area, which we use frequently. Watch out for Ana, she hogs the X-Box." He grinned back at Yang, who chuckled a little. Vikowitz rolled his eyes and moved on, leading into through the long hall and pushing open doors. Yang was vaguely aware of Ana following them.
"Four bedrooms, me and Price sleep here and Walker in here, you'll be bunking with him. This room across the hall is the bathroom. These two at the end here are Veronika and Ana's." Yang noted the interior of each, possessing one wide window between the beds and a pair of dressers at the foot of both beds. A full length mirror and wardrobe were on the same door as the wall, which entered at the corner of the rooms.
In comparison, Veronika and Ana's rooms were quite spacious with high, queen sized beds and thick mattresses with wooden frames and four corner bed posts. Two windows along two walls and a full set of wardrobes and dressers lined the other two. Both rooms also had a private bathroom. Veronika's room was impeccable, the bed made and everything in place. Ana's was a disaster area with the bed unmade, the vanity set up on one of the dressers stacked haphazardly with beauty products and her clothes hanging out of open dressers and on the floor around the bed. Some of it was underwear, underwear that no underage teenager should be wearing.
Yang and Vikowitz shared a sigh and turned simultaneously to look at Anastasiya, who laughed sheepishly, grinning and trying to play it off like everything was A-ok. Yang and Vikowitz shook their heads and moved back into the living area, pushing Anastasiya in front of them. She pouted, obviously wanting to hog Yang again but seeing as how she wouldn't get a chance for awhile, went over to the entertainment area and plopped down to play video games.
"Here is the dining room..." Vikowitz led Yang through the archway in the living room. It led to a large family dining room with a dark wood table clear of any decorations and a few cheap paintings on the wall. Three windows were in this room facing the rear of the house. To Yang's left was a staircase that led to a tiny loft set in the rafters, seemingly doubling as an attic. There were two small, triangular windows facing the front and right side of the bungalow. Under the stairs was a pool table and in the corner a stack of purchased firewood.
Yang made a mental list of things he did not like. First and foremost being so many damn windows in the building. Each one was a possible entry point and the glass did not look bullet proof. The doors were not reinforced and the alarm system was a civilian model, albeit a higher end one. There was no "Safe room", a bolt hole that the team could retreat to as a last resort. If an assailant wanted Ana dead, he could create a hail of splinters by blasting a wall down. The majority of the protective detail was sleeping together on one side of the house, which meant that someone could use explosives on those two rooms and take out half the team if the other two roommates were on duty while the first two were sleeping.
On the other hand, the wood was thick and sturdy and he estimated they could stop anything short of a high powered rifle cartridge. If the fireplace was in use and heating the inside of the living room, it would mess up thermal scanning since the wood would absorb the heat nicely and act as a thermal barrier. If the enemy wanted her alive, they wouldn't risk using breaching charges and accidentally killing her in a hail of splintering wood, which meant they would have to use windows and doorways. Yang was assuming they would use the windows if they were pro's, and the doors as a secondary entry point.
Yang was pretty sure that while some of the team was experienced shooters, they obviously knew nothing about VIP protection or had forgotten the training they received, if any, during their former careers. Yang had a pretty good memory and extensive training. "Jack-of-all-trades, master of most" was the unofficial SRT motto.
"So, what do you think? Nice place huh?" Vikowitz said with a grin, hands brushing his coat back to rest on his hips. The squat, muscular Pol carried an HK like Yang, except his was a USP. There was something different about it however and he realized it was a P8 model, a variation of the USP created for the German Bundeswehr, the Border Police. It was a 9mm and had a translucent magazine for checking one's ammo count. Although if you counted rounds like you were supposed to, you shouldn't need it.
Yang was in a foul mood, his brooding and self wallowing disturbed all day by uncomfortably friendly teammates and teenagers. "It's a nice home if you were living in it. We're all fucked if a larger force decides to hit us." He turned and left the room, leaving Vikowitz flabbergasted.
Entering the living room, he walked immediately toward Walker and Veronika in conversation by the fireplace. He put a hand on Walker's shoulder, interrupting and drawing both of the Intelligence Agent's attention. He jerked a thumb behind him.
"Sir, Agent Gagarin, meet me in the dining." Yang's tone was serious and bore a finality to it that brooked no argument from either, although Walker wasn't used to someone wrestling control like this, especially someone younger than him. Next was Price, who was washing vegetables in the kitchen sink.
"Agent Price, dining room, now." Yang spun and strode purposefully across the living room towards Ana, who was sitting on the floor with her back against the couch, bare toes playing with the warm colored rug under her.
"Ana, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to join us in the dining room." He looked down at her, and she looked up at him. He wasn't smiling.
After everyone had gathered into the dining room, Yang walked around to the head of the table while ignoring the mix of glares, curious looks and confused expressions. Wordlessly, he casually removed his coat and folded it across the back of his chair, unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling his sleeves up his forearms. Taking a deep breath, he finally looked up and leveled his monotone gaze upon the assembled group.
"First off, I'm not about to relieve Agent Walker of overall command. But it has become clear to me that none of you know shit about VIP protection. So I will start by pointing out what I've seen you and others do wrong. I take my job very seriously and regardless of the estimated threat to Miss. Kamov's safety, remember that there are five of us protecting her. That is a rather large number for a low profile target." He let that sink in while he took a moment to gauge their reactions.
Walker looked curious to see what Yang had to say, his hands on his hips. Veronika looked pretty pissed, arms folded angrily and her icy gaze stabbing into him. Yang felt nothing, which seemed to piss her off even more. Vikowitz honestly looked hurt, hands in his pant pockets. Price was just in shock still, his brows on high with his arms folded over his chest.
They had all been expecting, probably from his file and attached photograph, a young, pleasant man who would probably act like an FNG despite his Special Forces assignment. They were certainly not expecting this dark, brooding personality and empty, lifeless expression. Yang struck while he had their attention.
"First off, no one was watching the house while you came to pick me up from the Airport. Someone could have broken in and planted an explosive in your absence. I'm going to run a bug sweep of the entire house after this. If you're listening now, know that I will find you and I will kill you." Yang was referring to any eavesdroppers, speaking evenly, never raising or dropping his voice. Keeping his eyes up and shifting slowly from each person in the room.
"Second, this "Safe House" has too many possible points of entry and is completely unfortified in any manner whatsoever. Your cars are safer than this bungalow, and that's taking into account how much easier it is to ambush a vehicle than it is to assault a building, even this one. The RD facility is a mess, it'd probably be easier for anyone to get her from there than from us. I know you can't do anything about that Agent Walker, but I'd appreciate it if you could pass a memo along. Your alarm system couldn't keep a pro burglar, let alone a trained operative out. You have no safe room to evacuate the VIP to should escape be impossible. I'm gonna guess you guys drive her along the same route to and from any of her scheduled activities?" The uncomfortable look on Vikowitz's face told him that it was true.
"You also probably don't have much training in this kind of work either. Unfortunately we can't train on the mission, so we'll just have to do our best. Also, Ana, I'm sorry, but please don't sit against my side. You were blocking my holster, I would have had to spend precious seconds moving you so I could get to it. In those seconds I could have my brains blown out all over you." Ana covered her mouth with a gasp, her eyes wide with horror. She looked scared, even though Yang wasn't trying to intimidate anyone. He was just talking, no emotions or expressions. Maybe that's why they were intimidated.
"I'm going to make a more detailed list when I have time, I'll share it at another date. For now, I'm going to take a look around the house and the block. Vikowitz, I need a map of Sydney, a street map. I also need Miss Kamov's weekly schedule and the routes you normally take when ferrying her from location to location. Veronika, new frequencies for the radios. Who is it that tunes the cars?" Yang was very surprised when Veronika spoke up.
"I do." She spat, smirking as she glared at him. He paused for a moment, his face still blank to give the impression that he was in fact not caught off guard.
"You and me will go put a car through its paces, I want to know what they can really do. Price, I need you to get me traffic reports for the past week, I want to know what traffic is like around here. Also, I'm going to make a list of things for you to buy sometime this week, as soon as possible. Sir…" Yang looked at Walker, who arched a careful brow at the young man.
"…Can you coordinate these activities, make sure they get done?"
Eyes turned to Walker now, a few them looking to him for help and salvation. He wasn't going to listen to this kid from Tactical, right?
"Alright Corporal, we'll do things your way." The Agent quietly left the room, leaving his people feeling slightly betrayed. They focused their anger on Yang, who felt it roll harmlessly over him.
"I'm done. Get to it." Yang left the dining room to get a look at the outside of the building.