“The mission is green, we’re good to go.”
Two hours later . . .
“Control, where are we?”
“We . . . have lights and cameras, if needed, Boss.”
“Siren, we good?”
“Contact made and prepped, Boss.”
“Just finishing touches, Boss.”
“Clear lines of sight, Boss.”
“Vulcan, start beating the bushes.”
“Five seconds. Four. Three.”
A small explosion went off north and a touch east of Boss’s position.
Just over two minutes passed before, “Eyes on target. Two reinforced black Escalades. Heading east on High.”
Armored black Escalades. Could the target get any more cliché?
“Good, Artemis. Siren?”
“He’s in the second.”
A few moments passed, then a faint thwick of wood grazing wood came over the comms.
“First’s disabled at Spring. Second veered north on Spring. ETA to Faust, one minute.”
“Nice shot, Artemis. Neutralize personnel and bring it in. Good work, Siren. Move in, everyone.”
Half the team should, he thought, already be there, and Artemis would be the last in.
He was about fifty yards out, when he heard, “And they’re stuck. Securing target, Boss.”
One hour, seventeen minutes later . . .
Marcus Grinnell cut off the projection he’d been talking to with a gesture. The device’s crafted gemstone core sat on his otherwise bare stainless and graphite desk. He allowed himself a smile. Rising, he left the combo office and meeting room to find most of his team gathered on couches around a low, square coffee table. The air of anticipation, which followed every job, was palpable.
“The package reached the bosses. They send their congratulations. Control?”
Talia ‘Control’ Winthrop, their resident intel specialist, in hipster-steampunk that day, looked up from her array of tech and magical devices and shook her head.
“Police chatter’s quiet. No casualties, a couple scrapes and bruises from the stampede. They’re tentatively calling it a minor gas explosion.”
“Any reason they should think otherwise?”
“Assuming Faust’s little buddy poofed after,” Vulcan shrugged, “there won’t be any signs it was anything else, Boss.”
“In that case, I think we’re officially off-duty. Good work, everyone.”
The effect of the words was instant.
Without a sound, the entire room suddenly relaxed as if releasing a collective sigh.
Seconds of silence passed.
Suddenly, Talia emerged from the kitchen and began tossing bottles around the room to everyone.
Catching one, Abelard ‘Vulcan’ Teach, their whipcord explosives witch, bellowed, “Talia, you should’ve seen their faces when Bryan set off the ward and their SUV stopped dead. It was hilarious, after the whiplash.”
A blush shadowing already dark skin, bear-like and bald Bryan ‘Faust’ Smith waved off the compliment.
“That was nothing, Abe,” Alexis ‘Siren’ Morgan, the image of a Bond vamp, grinned, “compared to when his critters dissolved their car and guns.”
“Ate,” the summoner corrected. “Corrieys eat metal, preferably iron.”
Marcus caught his bottle with a smile.
They had earned some downtime. Two weeks of arduous prep for a rush job had just gone off without any serious complications. The homeland, Naothlan, had been protected from exposure. It was a good night’s work. And no one beyond the room would know about it. Even the target and his security would swear to their dying day that they’d gone straight to a safe house.
“Nice shot, Chris. Right through the engine block from, what, 350 yards, twenty feet elevation? Better than Tarvek, he’d be proud.”
“I make it closer to 400,” Christina ‘Artemis’ Lyons, their sniper, settled her compact, athletic frame into a chair. “And that sexist, racist bastard wouldn’t’ve been proud. He’d be pissed and deny it. . . . It was a good shot, though, wasn’t it?”