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NC-17 Fixers

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Outskirts of Pyongyang, 2200 local time.

 

There was a time when missions like this were executed exclusively by the military, but that was in an age long passed and the days of the ordinary soldier performing highly volatile tasks are long gone. Simply forking over a heap of cash to the Foundation just to successfully accomplish one’s goals, as is guaranteed when enlisting the aid of those like Elijah, had proven to be worth it in the long run when the uncertainties of failure no longer hamper one’s decision making.

Elijah pressed a button on his earpiece and a faint buzzing sound resonated in his eardrum. â€œAll callsigns, this is Thanatos. Confirm you’re in position, over.†One by one his four Fixer colleagues called out their callsigns followed by an affirmative. â€œStandby.†Elijah moved away from the cover of the tree and moved several meters closer to before dropping on his belly. The two soldiers under his direct supervision followed his lead.

He took a peek through his binoculars to examine the heavily guarded military base they were sent to strike. American spies had uncovered that the North-Koreans were up to something silly again. He had been examining the patterns of the patrolling guards and the searchlights for a while and had decided that their best opportunity to strike would be now.

“All callsigns, this is Thanatos, approach in t-minus thirty seconds.†Everyone had their jobs, everyone knew what to do. All that was left for them was to get into a heavily guarded military base, eliminate all enemies and get out as soon as possible. â€œ4, 3, 2, 1.†

Elijah and the two Americans hopped to their feet, walked towards the base with their rifles ready to fire and approached the chain-link fence. One of the Americans grabbed a wire cutter from his pouch and proceeded to create a hole in the fence large enough for them to fit through while Elijah and the other soldiers stood guard. The trio passed through the hole in the fence and followed Elijah as he led them to the back of a large container to remain out of sight.

There were no gunshots to be heard, this had to mean that everyone had managed to infiltrate without getting caught. The Foundation could make quite some money by offering North Korea their security services; these Korean soldiers were ass at it. He waited for 10 seconds before initiating contact with the other Fixers. â€œAll callsigns, this is Thanatos, commence operation.†After receiving confirmation from everyone he gave the two soldiers next to him the okay and the three of them moved, ready to begin the strike op.

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"All callsigns, this is Thanatos. Commence operation."

 

"This is Odysseus. Roger, over." Leon whispered into the mike, before looking back through his scope. He was tasked with overwatch this mission -- currently, he was lying prone four hundred meters away from the base atop a dilapidated water tower, watching the Koreans prowl the compound through the telescopic sight of his rifle. Right now, none of the patrols seemed to be anywhere near his teammates' designated entry points. They were clear, at least for the moment. 

 

He turned his attention back towards a console lying beside him -- upon it was displayed a birds-eye view of the compound, with little blinking dots marking the locations of his teammates now moving through the compound, planting demolition charges upon the buildings as they moved. The console was the control system for a small unmanned drone now circling above the base, silently snapping pictures and recording data from his teammates' transponders. Upon the viewscreen, he tapped and swiped the screen a few times, marking out the present locations of the enemy patrols he had observed. With that information, it should be child's play for his allies to remain hidden.

 

Abruptly, the lights in the base all simultaneously went out -- Redback must have started her deadly work, sabotaging the power lines and electronics of the compound. The Koreans would probably start up a backup generator soon enough, but for now, they had a few minutes to complete that task until their enemies figured out what was going on and restarted the power. That would be enough -- his teammates were good at what they did; they were the very best, as a matter of fact.

 

He noticed a pair of guards running towards the generator room frantically -- this wasn't good. At this rate, they'd stumble into Thanatos and sound the alarm. They'd have to be silenced. He looked through the scope, did a few adjustments for bullet drop and wind in his head, and squeezed down on the trigger. There was a muffled thud from his gun, and around a second later, the man running behind silently fell. It was a hit, but not the perfect shot to the back of the neck that he'd hoped for, instead hitting the man in the lower back; instead of the .338 caliber bolt-action rifle he favored on most missions, he'd brought along a VSS Vintorez, a Russian-made weapon that was one of the few sniper rifles on the planet with an in-built suppressor. While the specially-made bullets it used had enough stopping power to bring down a man in body armor, by necessity, they had to be subsonic to prevent the telltale crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier -- and as a result, they took longer to reach their targets and fell more during their flight. He aimed and squeezed the trigger again, and the second man went down without a sound -- this time, a perfect shot to the unprotected neck. Damn, I'm good.

 

It had been two whole minutes since the lights went out -- the others should have finished planting the explosives by now. Leon silently counted off the seconds in his head while watching the soldiers within scrambling around confusedly, trying to re-establish order in the wake of the communications blackout. In a few more moments, the explosives should go off...

 

And just as planned, night became day for a moment as nineteen simultaneous explosions tore through the compound. Now, the extermination mission would begin for real.

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Despite the precarious situation Rook and his team were in, he couldn't help but give a small nod of approval as the seeds they have so painstakingly planted around the military compound exploded in unison. He has already secured a safe hiding spot in the shadows after setting down his share of the bombs, opting to observe the fireworks from a safer distance. As expected, confused survivors started pouring out into the open, struggling to re-establish order and calm.

 

A seemingly higher ranked officer started yelling out instructions; his many medals and badges reflecting the ominous glow of the fires as they strengthened their fiery grip over the buildings. With both their lights and communication channels rendered useless due to Redback's magic, the Korean soldiers were definitely caught in a huge bind. Swathes of soldiers started banding around the man in response to his yelling, shielding him from any further damage as they quickly made their way up and into the military trucks parked at the side of the compound... or what would have been a truck, if Rook didn't just hoist his trusty weapon over his shoulder and fire a rocket right into the vehicles. No one's leaving this place tonight.

 

Grabbing his chance, the Fixer took off and ran away from the hellish carnage he created, sliding another round out of his knapsack and reloading it into his RPG's muzzle as he weaved between the fallen rubble and debris. As predicted by Odysseus, the remaining floodlights that were left standing jolted back to life, signifying the return of the power supply as Rook scrambled back into the safety of the shadows. Some people must still be working inside for that to happen, but the man wasn't too worried - Constance would most definitely turn them to mist soon. He raised a hand up to his helmet and pressed on a button , activating his in-ear communication device.

 

"Orcus here. Outer perimeter in control."

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The dark room was bathed in a cool, green glow. Two guards lay dead on the floor, however there were no other signs of a struggle. A young woman with shoulder length dark hair sat at the console, her glasses reflecting the information on the monitors. She smirked in satisfaction as she typed furiously on the keys in front of her. It was taking her marginally longer than usual to complete her task. She wasn't overly familiar with Korean characters. However this set back was only minor. 

 

"This is Redback." She said into her communications device. "Data transfer is in progress. Prepare for blackout in T-minus 30 seconds. Over."

 

Chelsea Webber. Codename: Redback. A member of an elite group of operatives known as 'Fixer's'. She appeared a slight and harmless young woman, however she was anything but. She had been specially trained to deal with these kinds of situations. A computer specialist with training and tactical expertise based on years of combat analysis. However she did not mind her unimposing form, in fact she found it usually worked to her benefit. Another few clicks and she would be done. 5...4...3...2...1.

 

The screen began to fade in colour as sections of the base's power grid began to shut off one after another. The data transfer was also complete. She got up from the monitor and removed the external hard drive from the computer, tucking is safely in the pouch strapped to the outside of her left thigh. She was dressed in black tactical gear from head to toe. An MP5 submachine gun was slung around her left shoulder. A Beretta PX4 with a suppressor modification was clipped outside her right thigh. She made for the door. 

 

"Redback. You have company. Two targets moving down the west corridor towards your location. Over."

 

The voice in her earpiece was Odysseus, one of he partners. She smiled and quickly moved to the right of the door and pushed her back up against the wall. She waited. Her breathing was calm, her hands still and controlled. Yet still she always felt a slight rush in such moments. The door opened and the barrel of a rifle lead it's owner through the threshold. As he entered he immediately noticed the bodies on the floor and turned to his right, his rifle trained to his sight. 

 

Too Slow. 

 

Chelsea's right arm raised up wrapping around the rifle, so that it's barrel was caught between her arm and her chest. Her left arm raised up, her elbow checking the soldier's face. He released the grip of the rifle, and she took hold of it with both hands. and checked and rammed the back end of the rifle into his gut, sending him to the ground before turning and aiming the rifle at the other soldier. Their sights were trained on one another. Not a worry, Chelsea still had the advantage. She could see the perspiration on her opponents brow. The nervous shaking. The man anxiously barked something her in Korean. 

 

After a moment she slowly moved her head, trying to get him to follow where she was inferring to. The soldier's eyes glanced away for only a second. However it was enough for him to panic and back off. He had spotted it. Placed at the door was a small packge that read: C4 Explosive. She could see the cogs whirring in his head. The building was already covered in it, Chelsea had made sure of that. The soldier panicked. He went to run. Chelsea dropped the rifle and pulled out her pistol. There was a suppressed bang and the soldier fell to the floor. Chelsea turned back to the other who was on the floor behind her. She fired three shots into him to ensure he was dead. Then she gathered her things and walked down the corridor, stepping over the other corpse and shooting him again for good measure. 

 

"This is Redback. Threat Neutralized. Packages in place. We are good to go. Over."

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Constance wasn't too far inside the structure when the external explosives went off. She was slipping between shadows placing C4 per Redback's instruction, while Redback was disabling the power. Redback had covered a large chunk of the building in C4 leading up to the control room, Constance was covering the rest while she played clean up. The massive explosions didn't even disrupt her hands as she placed her own explosives. The chaos erupted and she flipped the M590 around in front of her, pushing her back to the wall for the first wave of men that would come panicking out of the structure. The alarms and flashing red lights were not nearly as distracting to her as they were to the men running past. They didn't even noticing her in her little nook, shrouded in shadows, her black gear that covered most of her body making her almost invisible. As all five passed her she aimed at their backs and easily and swiftly cocked the shotgun and took down three, a single shot to each of their spines, with enough force and at such close range their were holes straight through them. Two of them disappeared around the corner oblivious to the fact that three of their comrades had just been taken out, their ears deaf to any other sound but their own pounding heart beats drumming violently in their heads. Constance bit her lip, dark eyes narrowing as she was unable to resist the urge and went bounding, almost bouncing down the hall after them. She was to get those that would try and escape.

 

They hadn't made it far, currently fumbling with a card key to get through a door. She gave no warning just raised her gun and shot one, finally she was noticed as the other was horrified to see his companions corpse falling onto him, blood now coating his uniform. The man looked up at her and just as he met her eyes, drawing his own gun the light went out. He panicked and shot out randomly but Constance had already flattened herself to the ground, knocking her night vision goggles down into place. From her floor position she aimed for the only part of him that wasn't currently shielded by the corpse - his skull. One shot ended his sporadic shots as his brain matter splattered the door which amusingly suddenly opened and both bodies fell through. 

 

She headed down several more corridors, following the internal perimeter of the building and taking out any who were struggling to escape. Another six met their ends to her shotgun before she found Redback leaving the main security room. Their eyes met however briefly before Constance took her eyes to guarding the hall around them, she threw her teammate a thumbs up to say: 'all explosives in place.' Redback gave her a brief nod before speaking over her communicator the words echoed as Constance heard them through her receiver and now in person. "This is Redback. Threat Neutralized. Packages in place. We are good to go. Over." Together the lethal females escaped the building before it would erupted in a fiery blast. 

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After emptying no more than one magazine on the enemies Elijah had retreated outside of the fence and serenely sat down under a tree with a lit up cigarette. There was something nice about enjoying a spectacle of carnage and destruction while enjoying some nicotine and even though Elijah wouldn’t mind actively participating in the mission his skillset was no longer required for its success. "This is Redback. Threat Neutralized. Packages in place. We are good to go. Over." Apparently les femmes fatale were done.

He kicked back and laid down on the grass while an orchestra of gunfire and explosions resounded in the background. Prior to the mission’s start he had gotten into a bet with the rest of his unit that out of the dozen U.S. soldiers that accompanied them only 9 would return alive. Of course real life was hardly identical to the various scenarios Elijah had thought of, but he really wanted the kebab and fiercely hoped three of the accompanying soldiers would die.

Elijah waited between five and ten minutes, until the gunfire died down a bit, before making a call. “Charon, this is Thanatos, we’re ready for extraction. Come pick us up.†He finally decided to get up and move back into the base. His team was used to his behavior, but the disapproving looks on the soldiers’ faces told him that they might not be his biggest fans right now, but he didn’t care. The plan was successful. “Did you disable their antiaircraft systems?†A Roger from one of the soldiers answered his question. “Good.â€

A few moments later a Chinook that had been hidden a few miles north for all this time appeared above the ruins of the base and landed in the center. Elijah counted the soldiers as they entered the chopped. “Seven… eight… nine… te- Shit.†He wasn’t getting a kebab tomorrow, at least not a free one. On the bright side; he knew what he was spending the money he earned with this mission on.

After several stops to refuel and drop off the U.S. soldiers the Chinook and Fixers stopped at the Foundation Headquarters in Switzerland. “Could one of you sign the attendance slip for me. I don’t feel like attending the briefing, so I’m just gonna skip class today.â€

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"Not so fast, Elijah." Chelsea's voice came from behind him, and before he could react her fingers had clamped around his ear lobe, and she walked along with him at her side. "Procrastination and laziness make you sloppy. Being excellent is not an excuse to slack off."

Eventually she relinquished the man's earlobe, however, as they walked she kept a close eye on him. She could see the scowl on his face but chose not to rise to it. Badly behaved children thrived on attention, so it was best to deny them it. On the field his orders were solid, she would be foolish to ignore them. However this was not the field. 

 

"Debriefing is an important part of completing a mission." Chelsea lectured. "To avoid a debriefing is to fail to complete the mission fully. Not to mention it's insubordinate. Furthermore if you don't keep yourself within the know you are more likely to fuck up. And we don't want that."

With nothing more to say to him they walked in silence with the rest of the Fixers to go over the debriefing. It became quickly apparent, as everyone gathered into the dimly lit meeting room and took their seats only a short while later, that there was a reason Chelsea Webber was quite adamant about people attending. 

 

"Ahem." She cleared her throat as she stood at the front of the room like a strict high school teacher. The large stack of paperwork she had clutched to her chest was suddenly slammed down on the table in front of her. "This is the debriefing for Operation A39, Codename: Korean Barbecue." she announced. "Captain Giles Fergus is unavailable, so I will be conducting today's debriefing." she continued, sounding quite pleased with herself. She felt the collective groan wash over those present as the came to the realisation that they were trapped in a room with Redback in control. They were caught in her metaphorical web. 

 

"First on the agenda." She continued. "Whoever thought up the codename is incredibly childish. I'll say no more on that. On to the mission. It was a success. No need to bore you with the details. 2 casualties on our side. Still we expected more, so let's not dwell. Explosives were placed perfectly, early indications show that there are very few survivors. Surveillance was wiped. Chances of anyone becoming aware of our part in this operation is slim to none. However here is the important factor. Data was pulled from the base's servers as instructed so we're going to go over the findings..."

 

And so began the dullest lecture of all dull lectures in the world. For almost a full hour Chelsea went on about data analysis, tactical information gained, inane email correspondence between North Korean officials, evidence of terrorist activity, plans for genocide, deliberate rationing of much needed food, and pretty much a run down of North Korea's condition according to the data retrieved from the base. After a long time Chelsea paused, and hope sparked in the eyes of her victims. 

 

"So that concludes the data retrieval report..." Chelsea said, and there was a sigh of relief. "Now I want to go over some paperwork that hasn't been getting filled out properly while I wait on the ballistics reports, then I'll go over that with you all. Also some of you may have to stay behind, there is a memo here about some issues in regards to your personal data files. Probably just some clerical errors but best to be sure..."

 

And so the team finally emerged, years later, deflated and lacking the will to live another moment longer. Well actually it had only been about 2 and a half hours. Although as far as most were concerned, that was 2 hours a 25 minutes too long. 

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Leon had seen hell on Earth. He had hacked though the dengue fever-infested jungles of darkest Borneo, hurtled from 50,000 feet to land in the freezing wastes of Siberia, picked his way through crow-eaten bodies in the blood-soaked streets of Mogadishu, and over his career, had avoided enough firepower aimed in his direction to annihilate the population of a small country.

And yet, Chelsea's lectures never failed to bring him to a new height of suffering. The only way she could have made him feel worse was if she'd broken out the thumbscrews.

Or perhaps lecturing him while using the thumbscrews. Leon shuddered, and stopped dwelling on the topic immediately. For all he knew, she could read minds. No sense in giving her ideas.

Right after that torturous debrief, he'd slunk off for a proper shower and some well-deserved rest. Everyone needed their good night's sleep eventually, and cat naps in the noisy, rattling cabin of a chopper sure as hell didn't count.

He'd been abruptly awoken five hours later by an insistent beeping from his phone -- it seemed like he'd been summoned on short notice. Usually, their operations were planned far in advance, with each operative rehearsing their role until it became ingrained to the point that their actions became guided more by instinct than by thought. A sudden call to action could only mean one thing, and it definitely wouldn't be good news.

He cursed his luck, shrugging on his combat fatigues and lacing up his boots, and then broke out into a sprint, quickly covering the distance between his bunk and the main meeting room, and plopped down on his designated seat. Captain Giles was already present, his eyes red-rimmed from lack of sleep.

Moments later, the whole team had fallen in, and Captain Giles cleared his throat, and spoke. "We have a crisis on our hands. The President of the United States has been spirited away from his quarters while on a state visit to Russia, and his Secret Service security detail found slaughtered. We have good reason to believe a rogue special forces agency may have orchestrated the abduction."

Leon grimaced. As expected, it hadn't been good news. Even as it is, this would certainly inflame tensions between the two countries. Most people didn't take well to their nation's leader being kidnapped while they were guests of a foreign government -- and Russia would be high on the list of suspects for certain. And if the President didn't get away from this situation unharmed, things would only get worse...

"So far, news of the crisis has yet to leak to the mass media," Captain Giles continued. "We have located the probable hiding place of the terrorists -- we have to safely extract the President before word can spread, or the consequences could be unthinkable. You will be setting off in 10 minutes. Good luck, all of you."

Well, are we bad enough dudes to save the President? We'll see.

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Elijah always thought of himself as a man of few demands. All he wanted was money, food, HBO shows and some time for himself so he could get some rest. Despite the obvious lack of self-knowledge it was undeniable that being sent over to Siberia for a second mission shortly after finishing one in North-Korea would be extremely exhausting. Clad in their cold weather combat gear and armed to the teeth, as per usual, the group of five trudged through the layer of snow that reached halfway up to their knees as they scoured the area to find the missing president.

The president… Elijah wondered what had happened for him to get through face first into a cheap Hollywood action flick. He even began wondering what actor would portray him when they eventually made a movie of this heroic operation. If it wasn’t Jason Statham he would be sorely disappointed. On second thought, a case could also be made for Christian Bale playing the role of Thanatos, if absolutely necessary.

After a while they reached a supposedly deserted bunker, but the two men standing guard in front of the entrance and the two others who had been walking around in circles revealed that something was going on inside. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the formerly deserted bunker had now become the hiding place of the bad guys in this epic action flick.

Intel had told them that the group responsible for the kidnapping had taken residence inside along with the president, but that was all the info they had managed to obtain prior to mobilizing Elijah’s team. They silently waited as Elijah stood motionless except for his index finger and thumb massaging his eyebrow. It was some kind of ritual, it helped him calm down, focus on the mission and think of a plan, but with as little information as they had it’d be hard to think of something foolproof.

 

“I think we may be fucked,†were the first words he uttered after thinking everything through. “Even with the floor plans we have no idea where they are keeping him, how many baddies we’re dealing with, how much firepower they have, what they plan on doing with him or what they will do with him when they discover we’re here. We’re going in blind, boys and girls.†He took another moment of consideration as they viewed the guards from afar. “Seems like we’ll have to treat this as a stealth mission. No, no, no, no explosives. Got it? Boom is bad.†This was obviously directed at his companions with a penchant for blowing up everything, but this also meant he couldn’t use his revolver. Damn.

“Let’s maintain radio silence until we manage to secure the president. Take out those guys silently and try not to use your guns,†he paused and look at Rook, “or your rocket launchers.â€

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