Little silver holes appeared in the paint of the van, ricocheting off the ground, sinking into reinforced tires, slamming into the bulletproof glass. By the time they stopped firing it looked more like a leapard than a vehicle.
The Commander raised a loudspeaker.
"Congratulations," he started. "Bravo, bravo."
Silence as the men reloaded and blocked off every possible escape route.
"You outsmarted all of us in that rescue of yours. Very admirable of you to come up with sucha dashing plan."
The men aimed their semi-automatics at the van again.
"But," he continued, "Stupid of you, really. You forgot all about the equipment we have."
The men opened fire, this time tearing sizable chunks of metal out from the vehicle's frame.
Silence. The commander scrutinized the tinted windows.
"Go on," he said. Two Toskan men came out from behind him, priming a rocket launcher. They aimed, they fired. The missile zipped under the vehicle and tore the wheels apart, sending it crashing onto its side.
The Commander waited for the smoke to clear.
"You're not going to survive if you go on like this." he said. "I'm willing to let you all live, if you come out now."
No reply. The van lay dejectedly in its side, two wheels gone and one pathetically spinning, oozing melted rubber.
"We still have three of these slugs." he said, with the air of someone enjoying coffee, "One of which is armour piercing."
The rest of the men had reloaded and were aiming their semiautomatics at the windows.
"I'm a reasonable man." he said. "If you don't force us to waste so much time and ammo we'll not maim you."
He took out a cigar and lit it, put it in his mouth and blew a smoke ring.
"Oh, and those windows can only last a limited amount of impact."
The blasts of the semiautos turned the windows into cracked black panes. Something inside the van shifted.
"Ready to come out?" he smiled.
Whoever it was shifted again, but no door opened. The Commander snapped his fingers and produced a small remote control.
"I'll humour you. Why ever can't you escape?"
He pressed something. A nearby amplifier crackled to life, playing from a pocket PC. It was a girl's voice:
"Concrete structure," - a slight pause - "At least its next to a decently high building. We can make our escape through that."
"You can't be serious." - It was a boy's voice.
"Oh, but i am. It'll be a lot safer than trying to get out through Internal."
A long, pregnant pause. The amp emitted sounds of a distant crowd and the spray of water. It sounded happy - a world away.
"We have to go now." The boy said.
"Chong Fen and Jean's back from City Hall, and there's a Toskan van coming up."
A short pause here. Then -
"Yes, female voice said, "Let's."
The Commander tapped the control and the amp clicked off. "Sound familiar?" he asked, beaming. "Scout pigeons all around, no small wonder we thought you were amateurs."
He blew another smoke ring, and then pressed on. "Another thing that confused us. The actual plan at Internal was good - our scouts could not confirm anyhing on ground level. Until, of course, we called in a magister - found out immediately all the guards within were down." He looked almost annoyed at this.
The Commander tossed the cigar down and crushed it with his boot. "Enough chat. I'll probably find out someway or another. Come now - I've told you why you can't escape, that we'll not maim you, and you're wasting our time. Five seconds."
The men all raised their guns.
The two Toskan soldiers behind him inserted another projectile into the launcher.
"Three - "
A click. The Commander smiled. Van doors slid open, revealing a solitary hand enveloped in darkness. The van was still on its side and the hand was the only thing they could see.
"Too late." he said, "Kill them."
Gunshots errupted all around and the projectile sliced the air in a beautiful arc, sinking under the armour of the van. Perhaps it was worthless - a couple of soldiers had already tossed in grenades through the open door.
A flash of light, a concussive roar. Bits of metal, glass and melted tire flew.
Smoke shrouded the entire clearing.