Saturday, January 28, 2006

Episode 19

Horean wasn't unlike Freeport. Vendors sold snacks along the cobbled road, which was favoured in the centre square over modern paving methods; flocks of pigeons, some real, some machines, fluttered all over the place. A solitary statue, missing an arm, was gazing serenely over the civilians lounging about on benches or grass. The only sign of a past war was a covered up crater at the other end of the square, and probably the missing stone arm of the statue.

Alec sat on a stone bench next to Yuki, both of them eating hotdogs. Directly opposite them was a tall building, eight storeys high, with the wods INTERNAL emblazoned over the steel entrance. It was where the sacrificial beacon came from.

"Where do you think they're kept?" Alec asked quietly.

Yuki raked his eyes over the structure. "Either very high, or underground. This looks more administrative than security conscious."

Alec gritted her teeth. "They'll be moved away tomorrow."

Yuki didn't answer, opting instead to chew contentedly on his hotdog. Several pigeons edged closer to them, some eyeing the crumbs with interest.

"Concrete structure." Alec said, "At least its next to a decently high building. We can make our escape through that."

Yuki stared at the Alcott departmental store and then gave her a confused look. "You can't be serious."

"Oh, i am. It'll be a lot safer than trying to get out through Internal."

Yuki found an excuse not to reply by sprinkling more crumbs on the ground around him. Pigeons had flocked around the bench, pecking.

Alec bit her lip as a policeman opened a fire hydrant, letting loose a spray of water for kids to play in.

"Let's hope it won't be this busy at night." She muttered, under her breath.

The main doors of Internal opened, and two boys and a girl came out. The girl had been crying, and reporting to them how their house had been torched by rebels. Alec knew this only because she had told Sabriye exactly what to say. She only hoped Ceri and Ross were observant enough to record the little details that would be useful to their mission.

"We have to go now," Yuki said, rather suddenly.


"Chong Fen and Jean's back from City Hall, and there's a Toskan van coming up."

Alec turned to see a black van, all heavy armour and tinted windows, pull up by Internal. A garage door opened from the left side of the building, and the vehicle cruised in. Alec got up. Toskan special units weren't something to mess with.

"Yes." She said, "Let's."


They were in a chalet Taylor had rented, some 20 minutes drive from the city square, and in a forest reserve. Thankfully Gillian had provided them with enough Black Moon currency to last awhile, but Alec had no plans to stay in the country for more than a day or two due to the tense political situation.

All they could piece together from the propaganda printed in Black Moon newspapers were that both countries had placed heavy troop reinforcements near the borders, and that the Black Moon authorities were confident of winning.

Well of course they were, Alec thought bitterly, war without support is political suicide.
Her grandfather was killed in battle, but not before he ordered a tactical missile strike on one of their largest calvary divisions. With a huge loss of tanks, the Black Moon army had no choice but to use hit and run attacks before calling a truce.

They didn't expect a strike while they were moving, Alec thought, took a strategic genius to predict where they were going.

And now it was her turn to prove her worth. Flexing her fingers, she looked at the items spread all over the table. Blueprints from City Hall, notes Ross and Ceri had taken on what they had observed, various smoke bombs, a vaporizer normally used to create fog for a getaway, incindiary bombs, a tub of plastic explosives that looked like paint, a med kit, Jean's array of poisons and the stealth suits, which by themselves contained a selection of darts, grapplin hooks and explosives. It looked impressive on the table, but Alec knew a lot of it was grabbed on the go, with no specialized equipment whatsoever. What they had was puny compared to what the Toskan and Nobu could bring.

She needed a plan that made full use of their equipment, with the highest possible rate of success. Quietly, with door close and blinds drawn, Alec began to wok. She wasted an hour writing and thinking, and came out of the room with a headache and a few sheets of paper. The team turned to look at her.

"Guys," she said, "This is what we're going to do."

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