The Bazaar: Chapter 15

Schwerpunkt

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.

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