Nervous. I shouldn’t be, not with the amount of real training and aug I’ve been through for this. But here I am sitting inside a dark SUV with my team, and everyone knows this is my first real op. It’s not even anything all that interesting, just trail the suspect and observe.
A drone could do it. Now that I think about it, why aren’t we just doing this with a drone? It’s strange, drones are cheap, unobtrusive and practically invisible. The modern magnetoaerodynamic drives are practically silent and they are just so small as to be practically invisible and that’s not even accounting for the active camouflage.
Oh this bugs me.
“Squirming isn’t a good sign Nics.”,
Charles quietly mentions next to me. Charles is a guy I have huge amounts of respect for, 40 years in the military, he’s seen more active combat in the current mess of the world than anyone I’ve ever met including back when I was enlisted. He’s got scars layered over scars, claims to have died twice, and has the dirtiest jokes you could ever imagine always on the tip of his tongue.
“What’s yer question?”
“Well, I know it’s above my pay grade but why aren’t…”
“The rain fucks with them, the target is smart, and the rest you don’t need to know.”,
cutting me off he casually looked out his window,
“Deploy in 120, final check.”
Yeah, he’s got more experience than I can conceive of. I go over my gear, which is to say the credentials, backup flashlight and emergency beacon seems pretty light for this kind of team. No weapons kind of made sense with this kind of work in a corporate high class area. I also had my personal com just in case, powered down of course. I just couldn’t seem to leave it behind it was practically a part of me.
Checked my civy looking active camo, always neat to dissappear into the car seat for a second.
The SUV pulled over and just as soon as my back foot cleared the door it pulled away without a sound. I scanned and moved, passively collecting every detail and annotating the data as I went. Almost skipping into an entryway I triggered my active camo and turned 130 degrees to move back onto the sidewalk not touching the door. And there I was, a ghost on a practically empty sidewalk.
Rounding the corner of the office building I had almost walked into, there was a small group of people exiting the building ahead. Some political group as I understood it, just leaving a meeting of some sort. And there she was, the reason for my first op, chatting enthusiastically under umbrellas and excusing herself from the group to walk down the sidewalk away from me.
This was really the only difficult part, I’d have to pass near the other people to catch up with her. But difficult was a something that often fades away with augmentation. I threw up an overlay of potential movement tracks provided by the over-watching tactical AI and sure enough a little snaking and careful trotting got me past them without anyone noticing the ever so slight imperfect image my active camo provided. It even simulated rain passing through it, which was even more strange when you re wearing it.
Ten minutes later after crossing the street and turning once right, once back. I’m close to zoning out on the constant annotation and passive scanning.
Network Command Ping . Instant full attention, every detail in my vision become crystal clear and things feel like they are slowing down. Oof augs.
“Approach target to within 1 meter immediately.”,
Charles voice was all business.
My body was reacting and picking up speed before I even fully comprehended the order, fucking augs are great. Tac AI was overlaying positioning data to best compensate for catching the target falling,
My adrenaline is already racing and I can feel it notch up several degrees as I feel a slightly painful prickling sensation that follows the sound, it covers my whole body with pins and needles. Retgardless, I was already almost in position to catch the target who, “yes”, was apparently falling now.
“Bring the target back in the SUV directly in front of you.”
I didn’t even see the SUV pull up next to the target who was now fully supported in my arms. I moved her with little effort into the SUV which had magically formed a narrow table in the middle that I laid her on following tac AI directions. Charles was opposite me across the SUV on the narrowed seats. Clair, our medic, who had been in the front passenger seat was leaning over the table toweling off the targets face with one hand while another was pulling a patch out of her gear. I didn’t even notice we were moving fast until I sat down on my side of the SUV. The target, an asian lady, wasn’t quite all there but her eyes were fluttering like some sort of seizure. Clair leaned over and I couldn’t see her anymore.
“Good work Nics.”,
My mind was racing and I grabbed my augs lymphatic controls to lower my adrenaline and apply mild sedation. I feel a bit hollow, like my body wasn’t even mine. I try to think about what just happened. Everything had just changed so fast. I can’t remember my last movements.
“Administrative Duties Require Immediate Attention!”
I fell into my local net going over the logs and correcting and adding to the annotations. Some time passes, I finish and refocus on the SUV. Charles and Claire are helping slide the target onto a stretcher pushed halfway into the back of the SUV, we are outside a hospital of some sort. Or at least that’s what the medical personnel helping move the target imply.
And that’s it, the SUV is moving again, Charles is sitting beside me looking like he’s focused on his local net. Clair is talking to Ren, the driver, something about “real paint particulate, could even get infected”. And we’re pulling onto the highway.
Ok, wow. That was wild, first op done. I risk a quick ping to my personal comm to remind me to post an update after debrief and power it back down.