Enlightened Ignorance Snippet #2
It’s getting closer and closer to the release of Enlightened Ignorance! I can’t wait!
I bet you’ll agree with me after you read today’s snippet! But don’t worry, there’s another one coming later this week. If you want to make sure you get one of the first copies to go out, preorder OpusX 4 now!
Jia crept out from behind the dark-masked terrorist.
He stood near the entrance to the top passenger deck. Erik trailed right behind her. It didn’t matter if the terrorist was nothing more than flimflam, a mix of nanites and light; her heart still pounded in her chest.
Train like it was reality, and it’d pay off at the right time.
He might turn at any second, and Erik and Jia would lose their chance at surprise. There was no way they could triumph in the scenario without maintaining surprise. She glanced around, her eyes back to watching the terrorist in no more than the time it would take to blink twice. Clearing out bad guys was easy, but not every confrontation was so straightforward.
Is this what normal people do on their days off? she thought.
As the terrorist grunted and turned, she slammed the butt of her rifle into the back of his head. He collapsed to the ground, his eyes rolling up.
“Nice,” Erik whispered. “I was wondering if you would do that, or if I’d need to tell you.”
“If we start shooting, they’ll know we’re here. We need to save that for the last moment.” She shrugged and gave Erik a playful grin. “And you knocked out the last one. It’s my turn.”
He gave her a nod after checking the downed man.
Jia moved toward the closed door and crouched, setting her back against the wall. She took a deep breath. Erik had been right; they had been able to make their appointment at the tactical center with plenty of time, although she hadn’t worried much about that. They spent so much money implementing Emma’s custom scenarios, she wouldn’t have been surprised if the tactical center kicked someone out to accommodate Erik and Jia.
Assaulting simulated terrorists and criminals had become a weekly date.
She tried to stop thinking of it that way, especially since Erik never referred to their training sessions as dates, but her mind was harder to direct than her body.
There wasn’t any romance; they spent all their time practicing shooting simulated people or each other. However, it was something they both looked forward to, even if Erik hadn’t said anything to suggest he viewed their training as anything other than battlefield preparation.
With all the trouble they ran into, Jia was grateful for it and annoyed the department’s TPST had refused to let them use the police facilities. They might all be on the same side against criminals, but that didn’t end internal political turf wars.
Corruption might be eating away of the roots of society, but petty bureaucracy was almost as poisonous.
For all the exasperation, that wasn’t her concern. She would focus on true corruption and crime. A couple of cops, no matter how dedicated, couldn’t fix all of society’s ills.
Jia glanced at Erik. He stood with his back flattened against the wall, his rifle looking small compared to the TR-7 he normally carried.
“Ready?” he whispered. Despite his quiet tone, Emma’s aid and a link to Jia’s PNIU made his question clear.
Jia nodded and stood. She was always ready to take out threats.
“Three, two, one,” Erik counted. He slammed his palm on the access panel and the door slid open. Ready for terrorist guards, he spun around the wall to face into the simulated passenger deck of the short-haul transport, quickly moving slightly left.
Jia followed Erik and aimed right. No terrorists opened fire. Only rows of empty seats split by two aisles confronted them. It was empty other than one unfortunate sight. A suited man lay face-down in one of the aisles, a small hole in his back. Blood stained the back of his jacket.
“Slowly,” Erik advised, his eyes narrowed. “It could be a trap.”
Jia offered a quick nod. The tall seatbacks provided plenty of cover for hidden terrorists, and complacency killed.
Erik nodded toward one aisle and crept into it, sweeping his gun back and forth. Jia took the other aisle, alert for unexplained shadows or unusual noises. Both detectives continued forward, their movements slow and deliberate until Erik arrived at the body.
He knelt, keeping his gun ready. “Dead hostage. Not a trick.”
Emma didn’t add any commentary. Jia wasn’t sure if her being quiet was good training or not. In most situations, they had her assistance, but perhaps even a cutting-edge AI had trouble not offering spoilers on her own custom-designed scenarios.
Erik stood. “Let’s finish the sweep.”
Jia followed, creeping forward and turning to check the rear of the cabin every few seconds. Erik might have suggested the scenario type, but Emma had programmed it.
They had both declared it a tubular assault, a special training scenario that normally involved a narrow vehicle setting, and often hostages. Erik had been involved in more than a few tubular antiterrorist operations in his career, but Jia’s recent experience had mostly involved buildings. Even the narrow tunnels of the Scar didn’t present the same tactical variables.
“They’re probably watching the elevator and the stairs,” Jia suggested. “And we’ve got no visibility on the hostages. They might have cams on us.” She thought back. “Emma’s briefing wasn’t clear on that.”
“It’s not as if gun goblins generally announce their capabilities to you,” the AI offered cheerfully, breaking her silence. “And yes, if I’m with you, that means the situation will be far easier because of my impressive suite of abilities. However, you can’t always assume I’ll be able to hack a system quickly enough to minimize casualties. Even as wonderful as I am, I have my limits. Proper training needs to include that, don’t you think, Detective Lin?”
“Not disagreeing,” she answered, looking behind them. “I just want to take it into account in our current situation.”
“There are only two passenger decks.” Erik gestured with his rifle toward the man on the floor. “And one body. The briefing clearly stated there are fifty passengers. There’s plenty of space to fit them on the other deck, or they might even have them in the cargo bay.”
“They’re on the other deck,” Jia insisted. “It’d be harder to control them in the cargo bay, and while the terrorists might have more places to hide, they’d also have more places to watch.”
“Agreed.” Erik’s gaze dipped to the floor. “Which means they’re right below us.”
“Simultaneous breach?” Jia suggested. She pointed to emergency hatches at the far ends of the aisle before patting a small, notched black disk on her belt. The breaching disk would be able to get through the emergency hatches without too much trouble. “Too bad we don’t carry these more often.”
Erik chuckled. “We’re detectives. We shouldn’t need this kind of thing.”
She harrumphed. “Says the man who has both a slug-thrower with four barrels and a heavy laser rifle. Maybe you could ask your own personal Generous Gao for something like these.” Jia tapped the breaching disk. “But you’re right—it’s funny that I don’t even think of this kind of training as unusual anymore. What about the plan, though?”
“We don’t want to risk letting them get behind us.” Erik frowned and glanced up his aisle. “I’ll hit the forward emergency hatch. You should go to the farthest one. It’s near where we came in. I’ll draw their attention, then you can sneak up behind them and waste their asses. We can stay in the same aisles and close on them from either side.”
“Sounds good.” Jia turned toward the back of the craft, moving toward their entry point. “I’ll get in position.”
“Keep it slow and steady.” Erik inclined his head to the floor. “We start charging around, they’ll likely hear, and we can’t be sure they don’t have roving guards.”
Jia offered a final smile before disappearing toward the back of the transport.
Strange training for a detective? Maybe, but given how many terrorists she’d run into in the last year, special training wasn’t just a good idea—it was a necessity. Jia exited the cabin and entered a small passage through a staff storage area that brought her to another emergency hatch.
She crouched by the hatch and spoke through the communicator. “I’m in position, Erik.”
“Good,” Erik’s reply came back. “Prepare to breach.”
Jia pulled the disk off her belt. She slipped her fingers between the notches and twisted, priming the device, then placed it on the center of the hatch and stepped away. It only needed a final PNIU signal.
“I’ve put the disk in position,” she reported.
“Give me a five-second head start. I’m activating mine in three, two, one.”
A pop reverberated through the plane. The crack of gunfire followed.
Jia counted in her head before tapping her PNIU. The disk exploded in a bright white flash, and the hatch and the surrounding deck disintegrated. She didn’t wait for the smoke to clear before launching herself feet-first through the smoldering hole. Gunfire and screams continued to ring out from below.
She landed with a grunt and a loud thud. Three masked terrorists charged her way. She fired in rapid succession, aiming high and at an angle to avoid any bullets passing through the criminals and hitting a hostage. The terrorists dropped to the ground, new holes in their heads.
It was almost too easy. The fact that it wasn’t real didn’t matter. Jia had died more than a few times in Emma’s simulations.
Jia got up before sprinting forward. The door to the second passenger deck was already open. Terrorists boiled out shoulder to shoulder. She couldn’t get a good upward trajectory from her position, so she settled on high chest shots and the hope that the passengers were keeping their heads down. It took only a few seconds for the terrorists’ bodies to block the doorway. Another terrorist attempted to leap over his fallen comrades, but a bullet ripped through his throat from behind. He tumbled into the growing pile.
With stealth no longer a consideration, Jia rushed into the passenger section and jumped over the bodies. Erik stood near the front with a cocky grin on his face. Dead terrorists littered the aisles, their rifles nearby. Cowering people filled the seats, leaning forward with their hands on the top of their heads.
Jia almost slung her weapon over her shoulder but stopped. Instead, she ejected her magazine and reloaded. A tubular assault was a tactical situation with particular parameters, but this wasn’t just a tubular assault.
It was a hostage rescue.
“Sweep for any hidden terrorists?” she whispered.
“Yeah.” Erik nodded. “Let’s go.”
“Everything will be all right, ladies and gentlemen,” Jia announced. “We’re with the police.”
Erik and Jia moved toward each other from across the transport, remaining in their aisles and keeping their weapons ready but not pointed at the hostages. They did keep them low enough to take a shot if needed. The passengers kept whimpering, and Jia questioned if Emma wasn’t pushing things too far.
Jia cleared the first fourth of the passengers with no incident. People started to relax once Erik and Jia had advanced through the bulk of the seats and reached the center.
A man jerked upright and grabbed a woman next to him, putting a gun to her head. “Drop your gun or I’ll blow her brains—”
Jia put a round between his eyes without hesitation. His gun slipped from his fingers and he collapsed to his seat, leaving a confused, blinking hostage.
Standing had been his mistake. It was easy to shoot someone standing without risk to other passengers when they were all seated.
Jia didn’t relax. She waited for another ambush or another hostage as Erik closed their pincer sweep.
“That was pretty ballsy,” he observed with a grin.
“If I’d hesitated, he might have shot her anyway.” Jia frowned. “And if I dropped my gun, he would have shot me.”
Erik nodded. “Agreed. It’s a good way to get both you and the hostage killed. Can’t trust terrorists. And you’ve learned to take the shot when you need to without letting it eat you up.”
Don’t you just love how Erik and Jia train? I wish I could train like that. LOL
Are you ready for March 6th? I know I’m counting down the days!
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