Sharp Are Her Claws
“Your Excellency, it is only cat-and-mouse for us if the ANF proves to be adept as revolutionaries.”
-- Ruslim Fai, Assistant Minister of Internal Security
Dated June 5th, 2020
Some sort of odd tropical take on elevator music played over the airport intercom. Would you call it tropical jazz? What genre even is elevator music? Whatever it was called, it was what was on queue as the young woman tapped her foot while the rental clerk in front of her continued to scroll down the screen of their computer. It was a business formal outfit for her: color coordinated coat and skirt with a white blouse and hair done in a low bun. Her face added to what her foot was doing: not only was she anxious but she was also painfully annoyed. What could the clerk be sitting on? ‘My company has DEADLINES TO MEET!’ she wanted to scream at them. However, she knew better than to do that. She wasn’t about to cause a commotion. No, no. That wouldn’t be any good. Her ‘company’ would be furious over her loss of cool. She’d be ‘fired’. A project down the drain because of a minor road bump.
The click-clack of the keyboard, the ceaseless death scroll, all seemed to have stopped as the clerk looked in her direction. “Ms. Greer-McNeil,” the clerk projected his voice in her direction. The name was very… Fearann… she couldn’t get over how of all names that it had to be this one. It couldn’t have been something sweeter and natural. It had to be a hyphen. “You’re free to move along. Here are the keys to your vehicles and apologies for the inconvenience. We hope you have a j-Oyus day and continue to use YourCar in the future.” Greer-McNeil, if that even is a real name, nodded and thanked the clerk and swept the keys off the counter and into a manila envelope. Walking out to the flat asphalt lot into the sea of perfectly colored rental vehicles, some just as formally dressed older men met and strode out with her. “What took so long in there, Kai? It was just some stupid paperwork you had to turn in to them. YourCar isn’t exactly very well known to check or double check.” he kept rattling off on how the time she was at the YourCar desk was suspicious and unnecessary and chiefly put the team behind schedule. Kai didn’t choose to say anything until she was in the driver’s seat of a generic passenger van, driver’s window down and sunglasses now upon her face.
“Don’t ‘Kai’ me. I’m not the one who decided I should impersonate some Fearann-descent businesswoman whose credit card is stolen. I was ensuring I didn’t stick out more than necessary.” The driver’s side window would conclude their brief exchange as wheels moved forward and a convoy of similar vans would follow behind her. All strung up over something that was bound to happen when you place such a large reservation. If Miramil simply would have focused efforts on grabbing some professional car thieves in equal supply as whatever the hell she was dealing with - con men? - then there would be no hold up at a rental desk where even a shady rental company may raise its eyebrow for a moment. So much for being shady. Still, all that mattered was the task at hand: forward into the wilderness they had to go. There was a mission to be accomplished and Kai Innes was certainly not going to allow Lonites tell her what is and isn’t, what should and shouldn’t be.
It would be their luck, too, that they had less time than believed. At a desk somewhere in an administrative building in the Yulaa Capital District, a phone would ring off the hook as a manager of the YourCar location of the Vaovaohitra International Airport reported that a supposed client had stolen and impersonated a businesswoman and charged their credit card for a mass amount of vehicle reservations. Whatever plans the ANF have for the day are not going to go as planned, even if it will take some time for this information to climb the ladder and be acted upon.
“Do we know what she looks like?” the desk agent queried
“Why in Acona would we? It’s not like we are known for security, here. We just aren’t going to be facilitators of criminal syndicates, either.”
It could have been classified as a Seylosian eyeroll as the desk agent couldn’t believe his ears and slammed the receiver down, shuffling off to begin the bureaucratic dive into Yulaa. From this supervisor to that supervisor. Faxes-wait how is there even paper involved? Nevermind, no time. Faxes were printed, photocopied, re-photocopied, and stuffed into manila folders and then stuffed into leather document folders whilst Agent Cockburn kept wondering how he couldn’t simply just cut to the chase and have the Assistant Minister over Security be fully informed so that the Assistant Minister could take it to the Cabinet directly that the ANF is probably on the move. How long has it been? Three hours? Four? A wrist watch check shows it somehow has been an eternity of only two hours. Surely whatever the ANF was up to is more in swing than if they- nevermind. A door swung open wide. The look on his supervisor’s face said everything they needed to know: mission accomplished.
As an alert was sent out to government posts of high value targets across the nation, the clock was ticking for the Front. Tick tock tick tock, little did they know. They had arrived to a more remote area outside of Vaovaohitra, in the middle of some woods. The security seemed a little more skittish from Kai’s observation. Now, she knew it had to be go time. The guards were on alert, and it was either now or never. Innes turned in the direction of her Front colleagues and made some hand motions. Pop. Splat. A guard was downed, and the rest scrambled as a flurry of bullets was unleashed upon the security forces of the National Stockpile. After what seemed like a copious amount of ammunition was fired upon the facility’s first line of defense, Innes motioned once more to her colleagues: a pair of them with bulging pockets made their way to the front entrance, plopping what looked to be explosive devices on them and then taking a dash away from the door and watched as post-detonation and dust settled, a hole the size of a couple of their vehicles was open. Room enough to do double duty.
More popping. Kai looked to the direction it came from and more guards were downed. The team was doing their job, looking out for hostiles. They would continue, too, as the vehicles began to queue themselves and the Front began to fill them with arms. As they did so, Innes had to look inside for herself, only to realize something: this was not the arsenal that many purported it to be. While the size and dimensions fit the bill, the contents didn’t. It didn’t seem right. It felt… off. There had to be more, surely. If this was the famed National Stockpile, it had to have had more than what was present to protect the citizenry of Oyus. No, it didn’t make sense at all.
“You seem puzzled.” It was one of the boys again.
“There should be more.” The frustration was heavy in her tone,”How could there be this little? We are talking about the need to distribute millions of arms to defend some 10, 13 million Oyusards.”
“So, politicians lie. It is not as if we need that many, just enough to fit our-” and he was cut off by being cut through by bullets.
Another flurry of bullets, only it was aimed at them rather than the other way around. How? Perhaps, there was some degree of awareness something would occur from what the ANF was up to, but not so well pinned down and so easily accessible. The mission, with so little having been loaded into their convoy, was already at risk of failing. It wouldn’t be enough to take solely what they had and would take more to overcome their adversary now that it would put the Matriarchy on higher alert for any future confrontation. Yet, staying to just get a little more may hamstring them and they’d only end up being prisoners, or worse: dead. Whilst it was a given that death was possible, the ANF needed every hand in such a crucial moment. Does she stay? Does she go?
Orders are barked out to the men. Begin closing up and return fire. They were rolling out. Better to come away with something than a blood stained clothes and a new pair of bracelets. Engines are frantically started, doors slammed down on their trucks. Rather than having a quick smash and grab with a convoy of seven trucks filled to the brim, it would be with two fairly filled and one to transport the men. The first truck would hustle out and go in one direction, only for the second to go in another. Kai drove away from the scene as fast as she could while looking back in the mirrors hoping to see the third truck pull away. For a moment, she was relieved to see it begin moving until a chopper came down and several Limited Marines disembarked surrounded the vehicle. They may as well have perished trying to load one more truck, because they had lost more manpower than they should have. It was the sigh she knew that may have come out from her, but it wasn’t all the better. Within inches, this mission was a total failure and it was certainly a disaster.