Entry 24 – Station
The ship landed under the cover of night as planned previously and a ramp was quickly extended, allowing our armor to disembark. The entire operation was incredibly noisy but the landing site was carefully chosen so that the cliffs would actually deflect the sound towards the sea. As I was leaving the ship to board my Jaguar, I saw several flickering lights in the distance – our escort, the cutter Rush (the name is sadly not related to my favorite band), was running dark, waiting for its turn.
The beach was luckily only partially covered with sand – our fears of getting bogged down were unsubstantiated. The rocky surface eventually turned into a gravel road leading away from Dublin, its lights shining in the distance. The sight made me remember that one night in Chicago after the first meeting with Murdoch. Each city now had a distinctive skyline, the ancient stone buildings in the center giving way to the monuments of the modern world – skyscrapers. The air was fresh and filled with the quiet hum of a distant city waking up. The dawn would come soon, I thought, and surely enough, before we managed to cover the several-mile distance to our target, the sun was already up.
We met few people on the way and those who were up this early quickly got out of our way immediately upon seeing the color of our vehicles. Interacting with the Vigilants almost never paid off since, as we learned from O'Sullivan, the mercs had little love for the common man. All that mattered to them was whether you were a high-ranking employee or not – and those were typically not found away from their workplaces or luxurious, well-protected downtown apartments.
After barely an hour of driving, we reached the last leg of the journey and stopped for a quick break. Gear was checked, the recon squad was sent to cut landlines and disrupt buried optics cables with special shaped charges and jammers were deployed to make sure the alarm would be raised only after we started firing as every extra second counted.
The station was hidden behind a small hill and judging from the calmness with which the two guards near the gate were chatting, nobody noticed any disruption yet. I was hiding with Espinoza in a bush around two hundred yards from the gate, observing the area with a set of binoculars that I occasionally passed to her. We thought we'd make notes but there wasn't all that much to see, just a non-descript white two-story building with a satellite dish tower on top. Several well-armed guards in Vigilant uniforms were patrolling the area but we noticed nothing our intel didn't want us about. The fact no enemy armor was present on site was more than welcome.
Having returned to our troops, I took it upon myself to emphasize the importance of timing.
"That building has connection to the main server hub and we can't afford to sever it, we need the data. That's why we are here. Since we have the initiative, we'll be doing things our way this time. Gail, Jim, take your squads and charge the gate, we'll cover you with fire. Overwhelm them as quickly as possible. O'Sullivan will set up an overwatch near that hill over there and eliminate any reinforcements coming from the other side of the building. Shock and awe, people! Let's hustle!"
For the first time since I took this job, things went according to the plan. We caught them completely off-guard and most of the guards were down within second from the initial shots. By the time someone managed to sound an alarm, Gail's squad – CQC specialists all – was already clearing one room after another. Unfortunately for the civilians on the site, a number of guards decided to hole up inside and had to be eliminated with explosives. By the end, much of the building was a burned-out husk and the only room intact was the one with a terminal.
As soon as Gail and Jim gave us an all-clear signal, we escorted a hacker inside to work her magic. She was a slender Asian girl who looked barely old enough to drink but had one hell of a sweet tooth. Two days into the journey there was barely a candy bar left on both ships, much to Espinoza's annoyance. Despite her appearance, Ferguson assured us that this was one of the top operatives in the States and perhaps in the world – she'd get the job done.
And she did. Fifteen minutes into the operation, we were already rushing to our vehicles and leaving the dead and the burned-out building behind us. The survivors of the attack were to be taken with us for later interrogation – we had room to spare. Our own casualties were very light – a few wounded and that was it, nothing our medics wouldn't handle.
At that point, it was a race against time. The reinforcements from Dublin would be arriving soon and knowing the influence Sage held over the city, everything with wheels and tracks would be called upon, from the Vigilants themselves to the police and the army. We weren't that afraid of the latter – the police was only lightly armed and they'd never attack us directly. They could, however, pursue us to our landing site and report on our position. The Vigilants, on the other hand, were a different matter and a protracted battle was not something we could afford. With that in mind, our column set off into the sunrise.