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The Gully
Topic Started: Feb 22 2011, 05:33 PM (5,135 Views)
MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Death Squad continued from Repairs))

Shamino nodded and lowered the radio as the group headed towards the entrance to the tunnels. They'd be in sight in about twenty seconds. The girl had run, but she'd taken a roundabout way, while the terrorists had taken a little shortcut.

"HQ says it's done."

"That should get their attention," Domino said.

They were done screwing around. It was time to stomp out this little rebellion.





Christina had first noticed the girl about two seconds after she stopped to stare at the terrorists. For most of the day, they'd been following the signals from the GPS, replacing key cameras on the way. As they'd gotten closer, though, repairs had taken a backseat to finishing off the troublemakers. The team had nothing but combat gear, now. They'd resupply later, spend a couple more days fixing things. Right now, though, Polanski had to die.

Before Christina could even shout a warning to the girl (Carla Conners, according to Shamino's conversation with HQ), the student had started running. That made things easier, albeit far less interesting. Still, they'd have plenty of action here soon. No need to worry about one girl getting a look at them.

Then Christina noticed where she was going. After a quick consultation, a rough plan was hatched. After all, they didn't want to kill the whole team protecting Liz unless they had to. Not that they would hesitate if they couldn't scare them off, but... some fairly interesting students were a part of it. It'd be best to let them get killed by the others on the island. Conners, by contrast, hadn't really done all that much lately. She'd make a pretty nice demonstration. Certainly, she'd lend the squad's entrance some drama.

So they let her get to the group, let her talk a little, and then they got HQ to blow her up.

Shamino reported their success, and Domino made her comment.

And then they were about to step into sight, and Domino turned to Greynolds and said, "All you, boss.You're the best with greetings and all those social niceties."
V7:
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Shamino was on the radio again, in contact with HQ. Greynolds had made things clear. The score was pretty well known. The kids in the tunnel were lacking one thing, though: pressure. It was time to clear things out, get Polanski unprotected, then finish her. Shamino said into his microphone, "Who else is in there?"

The reply came. He considered.

"Who's least likely to run?"

A little longer of a reply. Shamino said, "I'm about to make a threat. Carry it out, please."

Greynolds, Cecily, and Richards were standing back a bit, providing cover. Shamino pulled out his shotgun, then stepped to the entrance to the tunnels. He shouted into them, "Hey, listen up.

"I hear there's four of you left. Well, that's about to be three. Garrett Hunter, you have thirty seconds for HQ to tell me you're running down the tunnels to the other side of the mountain. Otherwise, you lose your head."

He'd considered reiterating the bounty offer, but it seemed absurd. They wouldn't turn to violence now. The way to hit them was cowardice.

"Thirty."

He was pretty sure they'd be able to get things clear. No one wanted to die, especially by explosion. No heroism in that. It made it a very effective threat.

"Twenty-nine."

It'd be best if these kids returned to the game. The one who'd yelled the joke at him was already going. He was mildly disappointed by that. It took some guts to stand strong. That sort of thing deserved a quick death. It'd been his choice, though.

"Twenty-eight.

"Twenty-seven."





Christina was heading into the tunnels by the side passage, Baines right with her. Shamino was doing a good job of keeping the main entrance as the center of attention. She figured she and Baines would be able to sneak into the middle of the resisters and light them up. The GPS on her wrist told her where most of them were. The tunnels were dark, hard to navigate, but she was good in that sort of situation. It wouldn't be long until they had the girl in their sites.

She checked the safety of her assault rifle. Off. This was going to be quick. She and Baines both knew how to handle themselves in a fight well enough to take on every one of the kids here. They were armed and armored. Trained.

No point being arrogant, though. She was more than ready to toss a grenade and finish things like that.

They were closing in. The relays that transmitted the signals to the collars down here kept the GPS working, too. The only one they couldn't exactly pinpoint was Polanski. Christina was pretty sure the girl would tip her hand soon, though.

Then, this would all be over.
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((Lily is still Away, so I'm the whole team for the moment.))

HQ was talking with Shamino. It sounded like everything was working well. Of the kids that had been in the tunnel, all but Polanski has scattered. It seemed like their show of force had been sufficient. Now it was time for cleanup. Baines and Domino were heading around. They'd be in a good flanking position. They could catch the girl in a pincer, surround her and take her down. As long as they were careful not to catch each other in the crossfire, an overwhelming response seemed most prudent. She was a high school girl, sick and weak and wounded, but she had caused serious problems, and underestimating her would be a very bad mistake.

"Clear," Shamino called to the others.

"Right. Move in," Greynolds replied. Further orders were unnecessary. They already knew the formation, could adjust instantly to the absence of two team members.

Shamino and Richards took point. Shamino held his shotgun. It was the best choice in close quarters like these. A good hit from it would end things on the spot.

Greynolds and Cecily brought up the rear. It wasn't cowardice on their leader's part; his job was in all likelihood the most critical and dangerous. If the girl was planning an ambush, or if someone else came after them, Cecily was the one most likely to land in trouble, and most important to the repair mission. Guarding her was vital.

They started into the tunnels, moving fairly slowly. There weren't many places for the girl to run now.





Christina and Baines were heading down the side tunnel, Christina watching the blips on her GPS scatter. Things were going perfectly, that is, until she saw that one of the students was heading directly for them. It seemed like she was content to let them pass, though. This would be simple. No one fleeing would throw their life away.

And then, it turned out she was wrong.

The flashlight went flying by, blinding her for half a second with the afterimages. She automatically jerked her own light after it. This was probably going to get really ugly really quickly.

But Baines was already on top of things. He'd dropped into a defensive stance at the first sign of trouble. Christina couldn't see what he was doing, couldn't see if the student was going for him, but she could hear him clearly.

"I've got this. Get the girl."

Priority was the little rebel.

"Got it."

Christina took off at a jog, leaving Baines and the student, counting on him to watch her back. She glanced at her GPS.

There was a new dark spot.

The tunnels were deep enough under the mountain that relays were required to route the signals. They kept the collars functioning, and fed data to Christina's GPS. A blank spot meant something had happened to a relay. Polanski was knocking them out. It was a damn shame she'd never realize what she was doing was totally useless. She wasn't freeing students. She was turning random parts of the tunnels into surprise danger zones.

Christina pulled out her radio. Depending on how quickly Polanski worked, she might run out of chances to communicate really quickly.

"Got her position," she said. Shamino was on the other end. They all had their own personal units. No more mistakes like V3, when everyone on the island had managed to lose communication.

She related the information about the girl's location, then hurried on further. She'd get a good way down the tunnel, then circle back. They'd surround Polanski, cut her off.

End this.
V7:
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Baines shouted Domino on. The mission took priority. Besides, he was sure he could handle himself. After all, this was a student. It couldn't be that challenging to take her out.

He swung his pistol towards her, planning to eliminate her with a quick shot to the chest. A gun was a pretty damn awful choice in this situation, but it was what he had at hand, so it'd have to do. Then, the gun was knocked aside, and the girl grabbed Baines' arm. In that moment, he knew he wasn't dealing with some random student. She had training of some sort. The knife biting into the back of his hand told him she knew exactly what she was doing. He let out a cry of pain, half involuntary, half vocalized rage, and twisted his arm free, lashing out with his leg to knock the girl off balance. His hand was burning like a bitch, probably bleeding everywhere too, but it wasn't crippled.

The girl took that opening to disarm him, though. The gun clattered off. It wasn't the right weapon for the job anyways, not against someone like this at this range. The girl came in close, trying to press her advantage, but she picked bad targets, giving him a few strikes to the shoulder and arm. It was more than enough of a respite for him to regain his balance and snap into gear.

He sent a fist into her face. Baines knew full well that wasn't a very good plan in most circumstances, delivering little damage for the effort, but it was a wonderful distraction. Besides that, he was using his wounded hand. Getting blood on your opponents also did wonders, especially when they couldn't tell whose it was. He managed a nose shot, though, so there'd be plenty of blood from the girl. His other hand followed through with a strike to the gut. Then he went after her with a knee strike.

It was enough. She was on the defensive, now, and Baines wasn't about to let her retake the initiative. He lunged forwards, continuing his attack, fists and elbows flying. She'd started this, and she'd hurt him. She was now fair game.





They were closing in. Christina knew it. She was still separated from the others, but they were drawing the net now. Polanski had done a remarkable amount of damage to the infrastructure of the tunnel radio network in very short order. She was out of places to hide now, though.

Up ahead, Christina could see the others. They were paused for a moment. They must have cornered the girl. It made her slightly bitter to have been so far away, so inconsequential to everything except securing an escape route.

It didn't matter.

Used to be, she preferred not to get her hands dirty.

A shape moved forwards, and there came the sound of gunfire.
V7:
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Baines continued his assault, the pain in his hand and the discomfort from the intermittent blows he received entirely lost beneath the adrenaline and ingrained reflexes. Surprisingly enough, this girl was actually a damn fine fighter. Not up to speed with a trained soldier, of course, but a formidable opponent nonetheless. This was taking too fucking long. It was time to step things up. She wasn't falling for the newbie tricks. She wasn't running away.

Yeah, definitely time to wrap this.

He managed to fake her out and hammer her skull. His angle was a bit off, so she didn't drop entirely, but she did cease her offensive, unable to respond for a second. Baines snaked his left hand to his side, and brought it back up full with his favorite combat knife. Some fighters believed in things like honor and art. Baines believed in getting people dead in as big a hurry as possible. It meant he did really well against those with concepts of fair play.

The girl seemed disoriented. Baines looked at her for a split second, wondering why they were fighting. By all rights, she should have been out there on the island, tearing through the competition. She should have been one of their top players, giving the killers who'd just gotten lucky a run for their money. She had no survival instinct, though, no sense of self-preservation.

Whatever. Made her easier to kill.

A knife strike to the skull wouldn't do much good, but Baines figured he'd just give her a good smash and then slit her throat. Easy.

And then, there was someone else who needed killing.

He swung.
V7:
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The girl wasn’t quite as down as Baines had anticipated. She managed to get her hand into position and deflect the knife strike away from her vital areas, though she clearly sustained some damage in the process. It wasn’t enough, though. She was out of luck. She knew it, he knew it. She just wasn’t lying down, though, wasn’t giving up. Damn. This was a complete pain in the ass diversion. Didn’t she get it? It didn’t matter what she did. The other girl, the troublemaker, was already doomed. There were six heavily-armed terrorists in here. This girl was stalling one of them.

Baines growled as she grabbed his hand and knocked his knife away. He didn’t try to fight it too much, using the opening instead to launch another kick. It had worked so far; she wasn’t a good enough defensive fighter to hold him off. She moved with his strike, though, minimizing and redirecting the energy. Dammit. Just what he needed right now.

Almost as much as he needed that elbow in the side. This was a case where body armor didn’t help so much, the blunt impact still packing quite a punch. Bullets, knives, those wouldn’t be much use compare to their normal effects, but good old punches still got the job done.

The next strike to his stomach winded him. He was too good for it to take him out of things for more than half a second, but she was too good not to capitalize on it. He shoved her away, got his arm free again, and took another shot, but she met it. She got in an attack against his chin, but he countered with another shot on her, a decent one. She’d stepped it up, though, had hit that adrenaline surge that kept her going in the face of adversity and near-certain death. That desperation was the one thing Baines didn’t have; as pissed off as he was, he had thus far had no cause to doubt that he’d emerge victorious.

Shit, she was just a high school kid. She shouldn’t have known this stuff.

He stumbled away from the blow to his knee, borrowing the tactics used against him, moving with it to some degree himself and sparing himself a debilitating injury. The lack of light was messing him up too. Normally, it’d have been to his advantage, but she seemed comfortable blind-fighting as well.

The problem was, this fight was far too even and protracted. It needed to end, and now. As she moved on him, Baines let her make some headway Then, when the time seemed right, he feinted a shot for her face, followed by a vicious punch aimed for her solar plexus. If she froze up for even an instant, she was dead.
V7:
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All it took was one wrong move. One miscalculation. She'd gotten lucky on that last blow, had kept up her responses, and had managed to drive Baines backwards. She'd managed to punch through his defenses and get him off guard for a second. He knew he'd be able to pull back, knew he'd be able to regain control of the fight and end things, but it would take a second.

In that second, she changed things up on him.

The kick came out of nowhere. She'd fought with her feet before, but not like this. Had there been sufficient light to track her movements, he'd have been able to anticipate it and get out of the way. As it was, the blow hit him square in the chest, sending him falling backwards. In itself, that wouldn't have been a problem at all.

The problem came from the fact that he was too close to the walls of the tunnel. He knew it, of course. He had a very good feel for the terrain. It was enough to let him duck his head forward and push his arms back to cushion the blow.

He still slammed into the wall with a sharp gasp, then slumped to the ground.
V7:
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Baines lay against the wall of the tunnel, blinking until the darkness took on a different pitch. He couldn't say for sure what had happened. He'd been out for half a second there, he thought. The bitch had actually given him a better hit than he'd had in years. Dammit.

Fortunately, that wasn't the last word on the matter. Something had changed. She wasn't pressing her attack. His head cleared quickly. He was used to being knocked around, and used to making fast recoveries. He didn't get up, though. Now wasn't the time for that. He could hear her collar beeping. Something was wrong. The cameras were out in this part of the tunnels, so HQ wasn't bailing him out. That was a damn good thing, too. He'd never live it down. Richards would already give him shit for the rest of his life over the fact that he'd be coming back bruised and cut. He'd just tell them it had all been part of the plan. All part of the strategy.

What mattered was that the girl was leaving. She was content to hustle off into the dark, go regroup elsewhere or try to save her leader or something of the sort. What mattered was that she was out of his sight, vanished into the darkness. What mattered was that her collar was beeping.

What mattered was that she thought she'd won.

What mattered was that she'd turned her back.

What mattered was that Baines had several more weapons on him, and suddenly had all the time in the world to access them.

He moved slowly, silently. Noise at this stage would just start the whole damn ordeal over again, only with the added bonus of him having to engage a ticking bomb in melee. No. That wouldn't do at all. It was time to finish this the smart way. The way he should've done it from the very start. The way he would've done it if a hundred little things hadn't been messed up by luck and circumstance.

Baines pulled his secondary pistol from his hip holster and aimed it into the darkness. The beeping collar and shuffling footsteps told him all he needed to know. He took a couple of deep, quiet breaths, stabilizing his aim. He waited, listened. When she next stepped, he would...

She screamed in rage and triumph, a threat against Danya, a promise of vengeance.

Baines pulled the trigger.
V7:
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Baines heard the sounds that told him he'd hit. The girl landed on the floor, moved for a little, and stopped. He waited for a second, then stood up and turned to gather his things. His favorite knife. The gun she'd knocked away. His pack. The flashlight had fallen at some point, and was a total loss, shattered to pieces on the hard floor, not that it mattered. He could get another any time. The important thing was that he'd handled the problem. He'd never expected it to go like that, certainly had never expected to lag behind more than a couple seconds when he'd sent Domino ahead, but it was done now.

He was moving a little slowly, buying some time to return to full capacity. He'd still have some bruises as a reminder even after the game was done, that was for sure. Now it was just time to regroup with the others and finish this mess, assuming it hadn't already been done. It was odd, in a way, that the girl Baines had just fought hadn't been the leader. She had been dangerous. She'd been skilled. It was a marked contrast to what he'd heard about the actual mastermind of the operation, who was apparently tiny and had ended up on the wrong end of the majority of her physical altercations so far. He reflected again on his previous opponent's potential as a player. Maybe he hadn't been the only one to notice her. Maybe he'd just messed up someone's bet back at HQ. He'd have to ask about that one, if he could figure out an inconspicuous way to do so.

His equipment retrieved, he turned and began to walk, heading towards the others at a decent clip. The path brought him right past the girl's body. He meant to give a glance at the dark shape. Double checking was safest. The only way to be. He didn't get a chance, though, because she was already in motion, lurching across the tunnel floor towards him, screaming in some language he couldn't understand.

All he could see was the blurry shape, hurtling straight at him, arm raised. She was holding something, but he couldn't tell what due to the dimness. Even though she was below him, even though he knew she was probably fatally wounded, for a split second Baines was still terrified.

The object plunged forward, cutting through his tough combat boot, biting into the flesh beneath. He screamed, in pain and fear, but, at the same time, years of training and experience took over once more. He was still holding his original gun in his hand. He'd made sure to keep it ready. Couldn't be too careful. Turned out that was a very wise choice.

Despite the pain and anger, his movements were smooth as he snapped the pistol down into line and pulled the trigger.
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The girl fell away, slumped to the ground. Baines fought back the urge to take another shot just to check. She was dead, no doubts about it. A bullet in the head. Anything further was paranoia, not a trait he wanted to foster.

His pulse dropped back towards a more normal level, his breathing stabilizing. The cuts and blows the now-dead girl had inflicted upon him stung and ached, but seemed fairly superficial. He'd had worse, certainly. Still, the combination of factors, the girl's dogged determination and the darkness, had made the whole thing seem truly menacing. It had been a fight for his life, and it had felt like it.

Baines took a few seconds to compose himself, to slowly gather up all his equipment again. He kept glancing over his shoulder, but the body made no further movements, just lay there in the dark, barely visible. Finally, set up again, his gear checked, Baines broke into a jog down the tunnels, in the same direction Domino had gone. His foot throbbed like a bitch, but he could worry about first aid later. Greynolds would not be amused if the little adventure with the dead girl allowed the real troublemaker to slip through their hands.





Christina ran forwards, heading towards the cluster, trying to make out what had happened. A flashlight flicked on. A shape stumbled away from the wall, clutching its stomach. Richards, she thought.

He gave out a groan, then said, "Ah, man, that's a bitch. That's such a bitch. These vests are the worst. Man, fuck, I think that might've cracked a rib."

"You get her?" Christina knew the answer, of course.

"I got her."

She was tempted to look, to confirm with her own eyes, but it was pointless. The dangerous part of their mission was done. Now, all that was left was to fix the remaining cameras—a job which, unfortunately, would likely take a good bit of time. They wouldn't be getting much rest, probably trading shifts sleeping in the helicopter, but they didn't need to be too sharp anymore. They'd use the danger zones as cover. From here out, it was tedious repetition and the extremely mundane.

Richards was still bitching about things as Greynolds turned to Christina and said, simply, "Baines?"

"One of them jumped us on her way out, sir," Christina said, feeling very much like a student herself again, trapped in front of the class by a trick question she couldn't quite feel her way out of. "I prioritized our primary objective."

She bit back the urge to say "Baines can take care of himself."

Greynolds shrugged, then started organizing the group to head out again. Shamino seemed to be having some trouble with the radio. Danya would want to be apprised of their success as soon as possible, but, given the news they'd be delivering, the boss would probably excuse a bit of tardiness.

A scrape came from further down the tunnel, back the way they'd come from, and Christina turned towards it. Shamino illuminated it with his flashlight.There was Baines, looking a good bit worse for the wear and more than a little sheepish, blood all over the front of his outfit, walking with a slight limp. Christina heard Richards stifle a laugh, then let out a little grunt and prod his side. At this, Baines cracked his own smile.

"The fuck happened to you?" he said. "Last I heard, she was barely standing."

"Says the guy who's dripping," Richards rejoined.

Like that, the two were off on each other. Clearly neither was in any imminent danger. It was good like this. It wasn't like the last times squads had been dispatched to handle things. Version Three had been a total wipe, with several key personnel members killed in action. Version One, well, that had been a little different. And, of course, Test Run Eight.

She was in no hurry to repeat that experience.

"Come on," Greynolds said. "The job's not done just 'cause we caught out chief rat. There's still a lot of holes to patch up."





Shamino was on the walkie-talkie as soon as the kill was confirmed, and off it again almost as quickly. It was useless. The tunnels did a real number on reception. That was, after all, what had drawn their target to them. With a sigh, he clipped the device back to his belt, then readied his shotgun. No use taking risks. While any student left should be painfully obvious due to the beeping of the collars in the blackout zones, Shamino wasn't going to take any chances. It was always possible one of the collars wasn't working properly.

Baines returned. Shamino was not impressed by his condition, but withheld comment and serious judgment; Baines was, after all, probably the second most competent hand to hand combatant in the group, certainly more skilled than Shamino was. If someone had messed Baines up, he'd had an off day, they'd been highly skilled, or, most likely, both.

Shamino ignored the chatter and catching up, keeping an eye out. Cecily seemed to be paying close attention as well, glancing over her shoulder often. He nodded to her.

And then they were leaving the tunnels. Their pace was somewhat slower; all of them were a bit burned out, but, all things considered, the operation had gone down as well as could be expected. There were still all sorts of problems. The V5 tech crew was going to have a load of data to mill, and a whole lot of changes to make. Shamino could think of a few things himself, to the tune of, say, spending less time worrying about cell phones and more in figuring alternate methods of controlling the students if things actually did go sideways.

As they emerged into the air again, Shamino took a deep breath. He waited two seconds to adjust and ground himself, then made the call. HQ quickly ascertained what had happened, and decided to just knock the tunnels out of play, something for which Shamino was thankful. The last thing he wanted was to spend a long time fixing up a bunch of underground relays. Sure, he could do it, could probably do it well and in Danya's time frame, but the waste of effort would be phenomenal. They needed to narrow the play area anyways. It was reaching the point where the students weren't close enough to encounter each other with regularity, and that would tank the death pace.

Greynolds informed them that their next stop was the mansion. After that, they would be stopping in the woods to finish up their repairs. It would be several days, in all likelihood. It made Shamino wish they could just make the areas danger zones and be done with it, but the mansion was an interesting environment and the woods were an important transit point for the students.

So they got moving.

It wasn't until after the announcement that Baines remembered to report the girl he'd shot. It messed up the announced death order, but that was nearly standard operating procedure by this point anyways. Besides, who cared about one dead girl more or less?

((Death Squad continued The Ninth Announcement))
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