The alley was less than ten meters to her front now. She braced herself for whatever stuns were inevitably about to be thrown at her. Though none of that prepared her for what did hit. The thundercrack split the air itself, rattling windows and nearly putting her on her knees from the concussive blast in her back. She turned to see the vaporization trail cleaving the skyline - a smoky apparition left from the hypervelocity slug of a railgun - and intercepting a larger, blacker smoke trail. The smoke could tell a story all its own, but the roaring growl and secondary cracks and thumps of the freighter breaking up overhead answered the questions first. The percussion ensemble of air defense guns continued to shake the streets, pummelling the runaway hulk as it hurtled towards millions of people. Firecracker flashes came over the silhouettes of the buildings as debris struck the ground, and then the blazing sun stabbed at the stunned eyeballs of bystanders when the largest chunk of what was left made contact. Pressurized hydrogen, methane, hydrazine ... the fuel fires would rage for days.
If she still had her earpiece in, the com van team would be screaming at her. Any hope of a clean operation lay in the flaming wreckage a kilometer away. The wind and smoke and dust and debris from the final slam raced up the streets like a tsunami. Takeda tried to run but there is no outrunning a tsunami. The rushing gale at her back put her face first on the concrete, grating the skin on part of her forearms nicely. She scampered to her feet and made a beeline towards the com van, where Card and the rookies were already set to get the hell out of this place before emergency responders and paramilitary swarmed the whole upper district.
“What do you mean ‘they won’t answer’?!” Will Card had been in rage mode since the team had made it back to the complex, since taking over Branch 35’s “war room” operations center in a desperate attempt to salvage their assignment from the calamity created by some moron in a penthouse somewhere.
“Keep trying until you get through and don’t take no for an answer.” he barked at his office staff, “somebody is going to take some God damn accountability for this!”
Gahjotia had been put into a “quarantine” that resembled a military search operation more than a biohazard containment operation. They had sent the location and retrieval tasks down to Jian. They had given them full authority across four districts to pursue the op. And now They had gone over Card’s head, thrown a massive monkey wrench into Jian’s assignment, and were making it damn near impossible to do the job they had been entrusted with in the first place.
The plan being put in place by the silver-spoon executives made complete sense in isolation, but it completely ignored the fact a covert operations group was already in play. Covert ops work because the targets have no idea what’s transpiring around them until it’s too late. Only corpsec, peacekeeper, and emergency vehicles and personnel were being allowed to cross the quarantine line, which not only made it impossible for Jian’s operations to properly flow across their entire assigned area as it was predicted they would have to, it made even operating inside almost all of Gahjotia essentially impossible. There was simply no way to move people and hardware across that quarantine line without giving away the truth that they were really corpsec.
“Jesus christ William calm down!,” Kira was perhaps the only one in the office willing to get in his face, and also the only one who could get away with it consistently, “there’s no point biting everyone else’s heads off because someone went over yours.”
The half-brit sighed. “Still, they gave it to us and then did it themselves anyway. I want them to answer for that.”
“Ha, welcome to my world...” she jabbed, and walked away.
Evidently she was still sore about losing command of the op. He couldn’t afford that right now, so he chased after here. “Kira wait! I thought we were past that.”
“We were .... until you asked me to do the one thing you promised never to ask for and...”
“Ah ah ah! Save your speech. I know it was ‘for the good of the mission,’” she sneered, “and I accepted that. I dropped six bodies and what do we have to show for that? Jack shit! Maybe if we hadn’t had to abort, maybe if you came back with something more substantial than absolutely fuck all, but right now? Yes Tom, I am mad at you.”
He hated people calling him by his middle name. That was the sign she was royally pissed off. As if her lecturing him at shouting volume in the halls wasn’t enough of a sign already. “What can I do? We cannot be at each other’s throats right now, so how can I make this better?”
“You wanna help, go check on Bravo for me. I’ll be in the war room trying to make sense of things.”
They exchanged a nod and went their separate ways. “I take it this is your op now?” Card called after her.
“Yep, criminal organizations are my world more than yours,” she hollered back, disappearing through the doorway into the war room.
In the time it had taken Agent Card to check up on Strike Bravo on the floor below, his protege had taken full control of the situation. Agency staff bustled about with newly issued tasks and a cohesive purpose that was painfully lacking twenty minutes prior. “So how are things going here?”
Kira did not answer. She was bouncing her way between various documents plastering the walls, covering every inch of wallspace not already taken by monitors. “Kira! Do we have anything yet?”
Still she said nothing to him. She pinged from one document to the next, beginning to utter words to herself. “... -think you can hide from me? I got you!”
She ripped her current focus off the wall and slammed it down on the center table for Card. “Boom, we got her.”
“Wait...” Card mused, “‘her’? I was gone for twenty minutes and you have a suspect?”
“If you can call the only person who can possibly have the disk ‘a suspect.’ The list of people with the influence, following, resources and attitude to actually get ahold and keep ahold of this hot potato is pretty short,” Kira rambled on in full bragging mode.
“So who is it you say has the package?”
“Aurora Baines, head of Black Brethren. The queen bitch herself. Her reputation makes me look like Santa Claus. The blood and paper trails both lead to her and the crusade she’s gone on to get ahold of this thing. Peacekeepers and other corpsec outfits likely missed it but like I said, criminal organizations are my world. I’ll stake my reputation on her being our mark.”
There was one obvious question left for William Card to answer. “So what do we do now?”
“E-War is already tracking her down and trying to gauge the situation with 2B’s territory and reach,” she kept bragging, “now we hunt her down.”