Emily was just coming down off the rush as the soldiers piled in through the door.
It wasn’t a proper stack. No one swept the room clear. Just a dozen men trying to squeeze into a confined space as quickly as possible. Then her, Fulton and that scrawny fucking weasel Jefe were staring down the barrels of a dozen rifles.
The part of Emily’s brain still soaked through with endorphins wanted to hose the lot of them down with .45 caliber hollow points.
She hadn’t been trained to react like this.
They trained her to keep cool, breathe deep and make a phone call. That’s how HR wanted her to handle it when a narco syndicate tried to rub her out in a brothel. That was the fully-compliant way of doing business, the way the Senate Oversight Committee wanted to see it written up.
But that wasn’t how they did it in Syria. It wasn’t how they did it in Grozny, Islamabad or Sri Lanka.
In the field you directed maximum violence at a critical point before the enemy could consolidate and regain the initiative. That’s why they made her read all those books in The Program, once they got done kicking the shit out of her in basic. In that phase the shit-kicking subsided just a bit. Except instead of sleeping at night she got to study: Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, then theories of asymmetric and open-source warfare.
Emily knew from those books she was standing at the schwerpunkt. This was Clausewitz come to life.
Her gut churned.
Here she was Paulus on the shores of the Volga, Napoleon bedding down in the charred ruins of Moscow. She’d been so very close to achieving that vital breakthrough, only to find herself over-extended, watching everything collapse around her.
Her skin caught fire. Blood simmered in her veins. White hot rage burned her up from the inside out, same as it had on the street all those years ago when that weirdo junkie put his knife to her throat breathing sewage into the shell of her ear (I’m gonna fuck you with this next), when her thoughts turned to white noise and the next thing she knew she was covered in blood standing over a faceless corpse.
But that was a dark alley with no witnesses.
Here she stood in front of a firing squad.
Emily tossed the PDW onto Jefe‘s stacks of cash. The gun hit the money and went over the edge, taking a couple grand with it. She reached into her coat, into the inner jacket pocket and produced her Green Card. She held it out at arm’s length for inspection, the way Compliance taught her. “We’re licensed contractors working with your government,” she said.
“…And we surrender,” Fulton added.