The buzz against my neck kept me focused, even as the warm dirt and humidity threatened to send me to sleep. One wrong move and an electrical pulse would shoot into the explosive buried at the base of my skull. Having my head blown off isn’t the nicest way I could think of to die, but it was one of the fastest.
The little critters in this part of the jungle stopped avoiding us long ago. They scuttled over the girls and I as if they’d forgotten we weren’t a natural part of their environment. It wasn’t surprising, really. We hadn’t moved in seven hours.
I blinked and refocused on the base—nothing had changed. The only movement within the fenced compound was the security cameras, rotating from side to side on their tall posts. Submerged lamps lined the narrow entrance road beneath the canopy of camo nets and overhanging trees.
Mouse activated her tablet and a glow bloomed from beneath the edges of her camouflage sheet—no regular human eyes would detect the difference in light; they'd see nothing but shadows.
I returned my eyes to the compound. The tiny lights on each of the cameras blinked three times.
“They’re ours.” Mouse's whisper echoed. I was close enough to hear the words from her lips, but they came through the radio attached to my ear too. From now on, the people in the compound would see only what we wanted them to see.
A drone sounded in the distance—exactly on schedule. The noise from the vehicles travelled straight down the dirt road to our left. It moved closer and closer, channeled by the heavy foliage on either side of the track.
The convoy rumbled into sight and the gate opened; the screech of rusted metal announced the vehicles’ arrival.
Two Jeeps and a pick-up truck loaded with men trundled past us and through the gates. They spewed fumes into the air, smothering the forest. The barriers closed and they wound their way between buildings until they reached a long, tin structure. They drove inside and those doors shut too.
“Five,” Mouse began. “Four.”
I rotated my shoulders and arched my back to loosen the kinks from my muscles.
I patted my thigh to reassure myself my weapons were in place. Just like five minutes ago when I last checked.
I pulled the gasmask over my face. Rustling told me the others did the same.
I threw back the camouflage sheet and burst forth. So did the rest of my team. We sprinted for the towering fence.
Several yards from the fence, I leaped. I landed close to the barbed wire at the top. Electricity whizzed along beneath my armored gloves. A shudder prickled my neck—if I were to slip, would that be enough of a shock to set off the explosive?
I didn’t slip. I leaned over the top of the fence, braced my hands on the other side, and flipped to the ground below. I landed in a crouch beside the other girls, just inside the compound.
Nicole signaled for us to separate. Mouse and I raced to our left. Nicole and Briana ran right, straight for the building the vehicles had disappeared into.
Mouse and I moved hidden within the shadows. We circled the compound until we reached the back of the warehouse. The doors were shut, but Mouse picked the old lock easily.
“Ready,” I whispered into the radio.
“Go,” Nicole ordered.
We flung back the large doors and the crash echoed around the building. Briana and Nicole did the same on the other side. I pulled two canisters from my waist, depressed buttons on their tops and flung them into the building’s brightly lit interior, as did the others.
Thick gas billowed out and dimmed the lights. The men within scrambled for their weapons, a few managed to get shots off before they fell to the ground. They all missed.
In no time, we were the only ones on our feet. Guns in hand, we picked our way across the room. I stepped over the men sprawled between the vehicles and me, not bothering to go around.
It was easy enough to find who we were searching for. Most of the men were dressed in improvised combat gear. Our target wore a suit stretched taut across his belly. I didn’t know who he was and, to be honest, I didn’t care. There was no point asking questions; they wouldn’t have answered even if we did.
I dragged him from the car, where he'd slumped against his seatbelt. Between Nicole and I we carried him from the warehouse. The gates swung open the moment we approached and closed behind us as Mouse fiddled with her tablet.
We dumped the target in the trunk of our vehicle then climbed in ourselves. It was hidden away from the road, beneath thick foliage. The greenery dislodged as Briana put her foot on the gas pedal.
“Do you think we’ll get ice cream for this?” I couldn't hide the hope in my voice as we sped toward the airstrip and our waiting plane.