Final Exam


bryan_icon.gif gwen_icon.gif rami_icon.gif

Also featuring: Drake, Joseph, Lloyd, and Sean

Scene Title Final Exam
Synopsis The junior Kill Squad faces the senior team in its proficiency exam.
Date January 18, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

Early afternoon paints the broken, twisted remains of Midtown in wan shades of grey, the sun hidden behind a veil of thick clouds. It's warmer than it was yesterday, but that doesn't stop the air from being cold — frost rimes the corpses of concrete and metal, while an old crust of hardened snow lies like a pall across any surface resembling horizontal in its alignment. There are footprints in the snow, but are the prints to be trusted?

Once upon a time, these were office buildings, shops, a parking garage. The Cort Theatre, Manny's Musical Instruments, the Quality Hotel. Now the tallest building is a mere three stories high instead of eight, its top torn off, leaving behind ragged concrete edges and a dusting of pulverized glass. Haphazard piles of stone, rusting lines of cars, warped beams which once served as scaffolding in a repair project — all of these clog the street, both rendering it treacherous ground and providing potential cover.

The word is that, in this final exercise, the proficiency exam of the new Kill Squad, the original members are somewhere amongst those buildings, one single city block. There are rules in the engagement — nothing actually lethal, so far as the younger set are concerned; limitations on just how inventive the older ones may get, so the newbies have an actual chance at ferreting them out. Aside from that? Whomever's still standing at the end shall be victorious.

(OOC notes: The action is going to be restricted to one city block within the ruins, where there's no one else around to get in the way; go outside those bounds and you're automatically disqualified. (Don't worry about lingering radiation; it's been vetted.) There's an electronic system to keep track of the boundaries, and those who are apprehended, 'killed', or go out of bounds will be removed from the area by an uninvolved observer.)

Gwendolyn is down on the street level, darting from building to building. She does her best to go around them as opposed to moving openly on the street, but it's clear she's been sent to do scout work (or has she?). Urban gear suits best for this circumstance, though she handles her weaponry comfortably enough. Still, every now and then there's a window of exposure, the chance someone has to take a shot at her and reveal their position. She is very conscious of that potential in those moments, because after all…she's doing it on purpose.

And back even further is Rami. The shadow of a shadow. He moves around the perimeter, careful, very careful to keep himself concealed. He won't make a move unless he's sure that the movement is protected. He's moving his way through buildings, in crevasses - all the likely hidey-holes his years of training help him pick out. He stays fairly close to his compatriots, to see if Gwen's (or Bryan's) movements are attracting any attention.

Each brief exposure is likely more unnerving than the last — because no shots are taken. Each time Gwen darts out into the open, there is the feeling that surely this time someone will fire… and no one does. But that doesn't mean her darting form goes unnoticed.

«Birdie at two, on the ground.»

There's something to be said for confidence, when it's the other side secure in its grip — Lloyd thinks nothing of watching from the third-floor of the parking garage, hidden behind the sun-washed glare of a half-broken window. He thinks nothing of announcing his presence over the radio, certain their com net is secure.

He doesn't know Rami rigged their system to eavesdrop. Tech skills can be a substantial boon.

«Anything?» Gwen's voice is smooth and low on the radio, even as she continues her little game of fox-in-the-hole. Truth is, she's not keen on this being the bait thing. She's a little more Bond and a little less Bourne, see. But she keeps moving, and at one of her rest-pause points suggests, «I could try a dart across the street. Unless you gents think it would be too chancy.»

Two is a relative term.

Bryan's eyes move with more purpose now. Looking for a possible spot for Lloyd to be observing them. Obviously, it's up. When the parking garage becomes a likely candidate, he narrows his eyes. «Gwen,» he whispers over their own link, «Cover-up. Rami…can you get a closer look at 10?» There are benefits to being a sniper, after all, even on the ground. A scope just happens to be one of them.

At ten, there's only one real prime spot for a sniper. «I'm on it. But don't give up your position, Bryan. They'll get wise and take the shot on Gwen.» Rami hefts the rifle and aims back, searching with the scope for signs of movement. He knows where he would be to cover the area. If their rivals are skilled snipers, they'll be there too. The question is, will the sniper make a move — enough to give away his position? Or will he have to act on a hunch and enter the building and take the man from behind?

«Flanking right.» Joseph's voice on the original net, indicating his presence in the narrow alley between the theatre and the parking garage — on the junior team's left, as it were. Lloyd seems disinclined to move, as-yet unaware of Rami's unobtrusive investigation (which suggests that, true to their files, the senior team is not composed of skilled snipers).

«No sign of the others?» Confirmation of Sean's presence, not that such was necessary; it's a given that the squad leader and erstwhile trainer of the junior group would be here somewhere. Even if the precise 'where' is still a mystery.

«Negative.» Lloyd again, his binoculars sweeping the street. «Possible footprints. They might all be out front.»

Cover up. Gwen backs away from the potentially exposed position and waits. Since she assumes that what Bryan meant. There isn't much more to do but wait, though her eyes also scan the windows, trying to see if she spots something.

Bryan, on the other hand, is dealing with the next bit of information provided to them by their opponent's overconfidence and their own teammate's superior technical skills. He slips behind a bit more cover than he already had, using a partially destroyed dumpster as a shield. Rami's got their eyes, and so it falls to Bryan to deal with their teeth. His focus goes to the left, his weapon trained on what would seem to be the only possible route for Joseph to take. Hopefully, a man in an alley will be like shooting fish in a barrel.

The radio chatter is a goldmine. And the best way to even the odds when they're at a disadvantage both with manpower and with preparedness. Rami drops low and moves silently, careful to move across pieces of debris or through shadows where his footprints would be less evident. He makes his way to the theatre building and scales the ruined side of the building via an old fire escape, in the shadows — towards the catwalk that connects theatre and parking garage. He is aware of the man's position in the alley, but for now, taking him out would only give away his position. So he moves swiftly, to take out Lloyd, the high man. Or so he hopes. He crosses the catwalk at a low crouch, eyes sharp for signs of movement.

Watching for long enough yields to Gwen's sight a shadow of movement on the second floor, someone shifting position around long-abandoned vehicles.

Joseph, for all his experience, doesn't really have a clue that he is no longer the ambusher — Bryan has made him into the ambushee. So he walks directly into the venomous agent's line of fire.

Rami's catwalk approach dumps him out on the second floor of the parking garage, one below Lloyd's position. He's not alone here — as Gwen has seen — but from where Rami comes in, Drake is obscured by the rows of derelict passenger cars.

Gwendolyn speaks calmly into her mic and remains in position. «I've got a target spotted on the second floor of the building across from me, near the vehicles.» She'll continue to wait to either resume movement or stay put as ordered.

Here, fishy. Bryan can't help but smile as he focuses his aim on the unsuspecting Joseph and squeezes off first one shot, then another. He has the time and ability to ensure a solid, inarguable hit, but he doesn't move even after the paint-filled pellets have left the muzzle of his gun. Rami's the one with the scope and the ability to check Gwen's sighting, after all.

There are two clicks over the radio, which indicates Rami's on silent mode, but acknowledges that he got Gwen's warning. He flattens his back against the wall of the parking garage, rifle held up, a ruined car a shield. But it also obscures his line of sight. His largest advantage is that he knows there's another man here. As of yet, Drake doesn't know he has company. Or so the agent believes. So he's stuck, until Drake makes some kind of move to reveal himself into a spot where he can get a clear shot. He can't risk raising a conspicuous rifle to use said scope — not yet anyway.

«Joseph, status?» Sean's voice breaks the radio quiet, leaving only a heartbeat of silence in its wake. Senior team: 0; junior team: 1. «One in the alley. Drake, see if you can get a clear line. Lloyd?» The binoculars sweep over the mouth of the alley, the sidewalk before the garage.

«No movement in front yet,» the spotter reports.

«Check the wall,» Sean directs. Whom he's directing isn't immediately clear to the eavesdroppers, but as Drake slinks nearer to Rami's position, that member of the junior squad might get some clue. He's coming for you.

Joseph is teleported out.

«Someone's being tracked.» Gwendolyn notes calmly, and unslings her gun. «I'm going to see if I can line up a shot of the one who keeps darting into my visual.» She brings her gun up to track the fleeting figure by the cars, and waits.

Rami tugs a percussion grenade from a pocket on his flak jacket. He sets the charge, then keeps a sharp eye on Drake's movements. Then he sets the grenade rolling across the floor in a wide arc, so it curves and comes to rest, falsely giving its point of origin as further to the left. The agent moves swiftly to the right. It creates noise and a faint shape, but it should be too late. The grenade pops off with a localized sonic boom. He's far enough away and with ear guards that protect him from the impact of the blast.

He drops into a more exposed, but opportune position to ambush anyone who might come down the stairs from the upper level to investigate.

Drake dives behind a line of cars with a curse, which doesn't exactly save him from the sonic blast. The fact that he's low to the ground obscures any line of fire Gwen might have, as well. He then stays there, because in a real operation, that would probably have been a real grenade. Two down. Two to go.

From outside, Gwen can see the binoculars disappear from their window, Lloyd's form vanishing into the body of the garage. It seems there will be nothing at all to strike at from where she and Bryan currently are; there's no help for it but to venture within.

Drake is teleported out.

«I think Lloyd's gone deeper into that building.» Gwen observes. «This might be an opportunity to go in after him, but there's still another to account for. Shall we move?»

Bryan answers the question with his feet rather than over the radio. It takes him a moment to get out from behind his cover, but he's soon making his way from point to point across the street to the parking garage's main entrance. After all, Rami'd tell them if they had any other endangerments in the immediate vicinity… right?

But, of course, their own eyes can't tell them about things unseen to them. When Bryan starts to climb the stairs, his eyes above him in order to shoot at anything there before it shoots at him, he trips a wire that sets off a simulated grenade. He screws up his face and grunts something that might have been a curse had it been intelligible.

Juniors, 2. Old Farts, 1.

Bryan is teleported out.

Gwendolyn lets out a soft exhalation of dismay. «Rami, you'd best come back me up. Else I'm on my own on the ground and I think we're going to have to go in. We've lost the advantage and will have to flush them out.»

If Rami knew that Bryan was coming, he might have warned the other that the main level is likely trapped, given that there were at least two of them here. But, of course, he doesn't know that he's coming until it's too late. That's the part he needs to work on. Helping the others. There's a muttered curse over the radio, and a low, carefully murmured, «I'm inside, Gwen. I have a bead on one. Watch yourself. There's one still out there somewhere.» The fact that there's been no radio chatter worries him. They're probably wise, probably have changed the frequency by now. «Lloyd has to be on floor three, unless there's another way down. I'm covering the stair.» He raises the rifle and tries to use the scope to spot movement from his position.

It's a parking garage; there's multiple stairways. Perfectly able to figure out that Rami is somewhere over by the wall fronting the theatre — also fronting the alleyway in which Joseph was downed — Lloyd picks the stairwell at front right to clamber down, peeking cautiously around the entryway to see if he can spot any obvious threats on the second floor.

Lloyd's new position is diagonal to Rami and directly above where Bryan was disabled.

Gwendolyn takes a breath, preps her gun, and makes the run across the street. She's prepared to dive, but follows a pre-set course, darting from cover point to cover point and trying to make her moments when she's exposed as brief as possible.

Rami crouches low when he thinks he hears a shuffle of feet. He glances towards the stairwell he's not covering in time to see a spot of movement. Another curse under his breath and he's lifted the rifle to try and get a bead on Lloyd without giving away his position. The scope is trained just down from the area he last saw movement. A clear shot will be tricky as hell with the minefield of cars between here and there. But he's ready to take it if the shot appears.

Again, Gwen's darting movement sparks no shots in reply. Lloyd is preoccupied with being in a stairwell on the second floor — windows are in short supply, plus he has rather more immediate concerns than the woman on the ground. He throws himself out the doorway to take cover behind a line of cars, exposed for only a moment; Rami the sniper may get a hit if he takes the shot, but it won't be a one-hit kill.

One nagging question still stands: Where is Sean?

When Gwen gets in the building, of course she goes for the stairwell. But she's not stupid, she knows it's rife with potential for traps and ambush. Her approach is checked very carefully, and when she gets near the blindspot where nether up nor down on the stairway can really see each other, she crouches, shifting forward and turning so she can aim and look upward to see if she can spot any movement.

In a situation like this, Rami's taught not to take the shot unless it's a kill. His position hasn't been exposed (as far as he knows). His radio clicks on. «Gwen. I think the one up here has a bead on you, take bloody cover. There's still another one out there somewhere. Ignore the noise you're about to hear.» He searches around, then finds a chunk of rusted tailpipe by his foot. He very carefully, very quietly lifts the pipe up. Then he tosses it towards the far end of the room, past a window, away from the main staircase to the bottom floor. It lands and makes a terrible racket. He's hoping it's enough to flush out Lloyd, to make him expose his position enough for a proper kill shot.

Lloyd never finished SEAL training and, while he has been part of the Kill Squad for the entire year of its existence… he was a deputy sheriff before that. So under these high-stress circumstances, he falls for what might well be the oldest trick in the book — he charges out around the line of cars to shoot at… whomever isn't over there making noise.


In the stairwell, there's still nothing to see — Lloyd is out on the floor with Rami, and Sean is… playing least in sight somewhere else.

With Lloyd now being engaged — or about to get engaged — by Rami, and the other to find cover, Gwendolyn opts to let herself recede from the stairway, down at the first floor, and considers her options. She starts heading for the back of the building, content to hole up there for the time being.

They're old tricks because they tend to work. And it takes a lot of training to lose the instinct to point a gun at whatever's making noise. Most of the time it is that your target tripped over something. Rami takes the kill. Three precision shots fired off with the sniper gun. POP. POP. POP. Paint splatters. «One more left» Now, where the fuck is he?

Lloyd is teleported out.

As Gwen picks her way amongst the cars, headed towards the back of the garage, she might catch a ghost of movement from the corner of her eye. That's all the warning she gets, however, before a quick burst of three shots leaves paint-marks on her jacket.

Sneaky Sean has been lurking on the ground floor all along.

"Bollocks!" Gwen declares, and with a grumble, lays herself out on the floor. "This better not ruin my hair."

"Oh bloody hell," mutters Rami to himself. But now he knows where Sean is. The problem being, there's only one down known to be clear and Sean has to know he's up here. Cat and mouse. And he's at a disadvantage. Sure, he could back away across the catwalk. If this was a real op, that's what he would do. Regroup, or perhaps let that one go. Acceptable loss when your targets numbered four and three are down. All he can do for now is wait, hunched behind a car, and pray that Sean makes a mistake.

Gwen is teleported out.

Sean has a fifty-fifty chance of picking the stairwell nearer Rami. He can make some educated guesses — Rami came in over the catwalk, knows from Gwen and Lloyd's actions that the front stairwell is now clear — but the other agent could be anywhere on that floor by now, and Sean wouldn't know the difference.

Carefully, cautiously, Sean Fallon eases his way up the same stairwell that has, directly or indirectly, claimed three of today's 'casualties'. Of course, he's going to do better than they did. Most certainly.

Even with the rifle, Rami doesn't have a clear shot when he spots Sean's movements. But he at least knows where the other man is. Something tells him the metal pipe trick isn't going to work twice. He remains silent for a moment, hand on his weapon, eyes peeled, locked on Sean's position as best he can. Honour's on the line now. He's still alive after all those hours alone on ops in far-flung, forgotten nations. Surely he can survive one field exercise. He waits patiently, finger on the trigger, praying for a clear shot as Sean investigates the floor. At least his position, with his back to the wall, is relatively secure.

The agent named Lloyd and the one called Sean are two very different animals. There's reasons Fallon leads the squad and Lloyd doesn't. He's careful about the way he ghosts behind the nearest line of cars, feet never staying in one place for long, head intermittently popping up to look long-ways through the cars and catch a snapshot glimpse of the rest of the room. Rami's out there somewhere.

And that silent movement is what causes Rami to think Sean isn't where he believes he is. He's underestimated this man, what with the relative skill level of the other members. He shifts, very slightly, to aim towards an area he thinks Sean is. What he doesn't realize is that the windows in the car he's behind have been completely smashed out. The shot is small, but Sean's in the process of flanking him. If he's a good shot, he's left a spot exposed — a kill shot.

Sean didn't get this job by hesitating, and he doesn't do so now. Attention drawn by Rami's motion, the gun muzzle comes up even before the agent has to think about it; bang, bang.

You lose.

Rami knows the sound of ammo leaving a gun. He knows it like he knows the sound of breath. But even though he knows, it's too quick for him to do anything about it. The agent drops forward, then glances back to confirm, yes, there are splatters on his jacket. "Fuck." Nothing more eloquent than that.

Sean lowers the muzzle of his gun, bestowing a wolfish smile upon the defeated agent. Age and wisdom, with a bit of treachery, still beats youth. At least today.

Then they're both sent home for the debriefing.

Rami and Sean are teleported out.

January 18th: See What Happens
January 18th: The Audition
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