Dreaming in Digital

Gone Fishing

Brick's background fiction

This was it. Three Special Operations teams, two days of planning, and five days of hot sim training. We were going to get our exec out.

As soon as she had been taken, the Rapid Response teams started working. First thing they had to do was figure out who the hell had taken her. Thankfully that didn’t take long. Turns out her guard detail did at least one thing right and geeked the mage of the “extraction” team before the guard detail got wiped out. We were able to recover the body, then check around to see who he had been running with. The right greased palms got us the information we needed — a team of five (now four) runners who went by the colorful name of 3p3nd4bl3z.. whatever the hell that means.

My five-man team was on site. The 3p3nd4bl3z had a safe house in a mid-height office building out in Federal, just south of the city. A nice, quiet, out of the way place which was great for them and perfect for us. With it being the tallest building in the near area we were able to work out a plan for a tethered pick up that some egghead coined “Fishing Trip”. We used the information obtained by one of the other teams to get on the roof without alerting security.

Havoc Four, my dutiful sniper, was on a building half a klick away and would be providing last minute intel on the Runners and our “fish” thanks to a SOTA scope. Havoc Two, a cigar-smoking engineer in a previous life, would remain on the roof watching the hardware and making sure the airlift came in right. While I and Havocs Three and Five, better known as the rough-and-tumble brothers Pick-up and Droze, were geared up to make entry and extraction of our Exec.

Once my team was in position, we got an update from Havoc Four about enemy positions: two runners on the sofa watching a Trid, while the other two were asleep in one of the bedrooms. Our exec was huddled in the corner of the den opposite the Trid. The 3p3nd4bl3z safehouse was three floors below us so our plan was to use pre-measured repelling gear and some kind of sold fuel thruster to throw us out to the end of our lines as we fell. The eggheads mathed it out so that we would swing right in through the floor to ceiling windows of our target location in one motion. Modified shotgun rounds would be used to shatter the glass so that we didn’t splatter ourselves against the bullet resistant material.

I called the green light and our air asset, the stealth tilt-rotor that would be our Fishing Pole, gave us a two minute window till pickup. After five days of constant practice I knew we could get in and out in forty five seconds. I made one last check of my sidearm and made sure I had easy access to the Sim chip. If I fumbled that then this whole extraction would be a bust.

At the forty-six mark the three of us took off running and threw ourselves off the edge of the building and fired the thruster packs. Felt like a kick in the back from a troll adept. Our gear worked perfectly and the thruster pack pushed us out to the end of the lines while spinning us around so we were facing the building. Pick-up and Droze raised their weapons and double tapped the window with our breaker rounds. We busted in at the same time, shoulder to shoulder. Three and Five’s harness lines automatically detached as they started putting lead into the two now-dead slots on the sofa. The first two targets dealt with, they deployed their collapsible two-meter tower shields to give us cover from the doorway leading to the bedroom where the other two runners were just waking up.

Meanwhile I shouted a code phrase at the exec. and as soon as she acknowledged it I passed her the Sim chip while preparing my gear. This exec was frosty. She kept her cool and smoothly slotted the Sim chip. I could tell when the implanted instructions and commands took over because she ran over to Pick-up and Droze, who were standing shoulder to shoulder behind their shields by this point, then turned her back to me. I stepped up close behind her and went quickly attached the five-point harness. She straightened and grabbed the rope lead at her waist and unspooled it to connect to the back harness on Pick-up as I connected the last strap to her waist belt. In unison, Pick-up attached the lead at his waist to the back of Droze’s harness.

At this point I could tell her Sim chip had run its course as she started to shake with adrenaline.

I checked the time on my Image Link — ten seconds till Fishing Pole makes contact with the wire suspended from the helium balloon and we all get dragged out like a magician pulling a stream of tied handkerchiefs out of his coat pocket. I head a commotion down the hall as the last two runners got their acts together and headed towards the common room. At best they would be able to get one, maybe two shots off before we got pulled away. We would have to trust in the shields we were taking cover behind.

Pick-up and Droze opened up with their HK223s to greet the two ‘runners with a hollow-point greeting. The brief sound of a cable being dragged across the ground behind us was music to my ears over the chatter of the HKs. We were almost out. The Exec asked me if this was going to hurt. I gave her a wry smile and said, "Like a Freight Train ma’am.” I wrapped her tightly in my arms and braced my head against her neck to protect her from the massive jolt. The Sim writers must have been of the opinion that making it worse during training would mean things go better during live fire, because it wasn’t as terrible as I was expecting. Regardless, it still felt like that same troll from before, this time catching me on the rebound and with a tag partner to help. The cable made a harmonic ringing sound as it was pulled taut by the tilt-wing plane snatching it from above. All four of us got yanked out of the room in some weird mirror image of an old static line parachute drop. First me and the Exec, then Pick-up and finally Droze.

Watching the sim footage after all the dust settled I can’t decide if the damn runner was just that good, or the luckiest bastard in the world. Pick-up and Droze were pulled out of the room just as planned, but a stray round from the runners nicked the cable between the Exec and Pick-up. As we were getting winched into the loading bay about halfway there the cable gave up the ghost and snapped. Pick-up and Droze fell over a thousand feet to the concrete below. We got Permanent Senior Undersecretary Sansha Krenshaw out, but it cost us two good men to a one in a trillion shot.

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