The Warriors had been public for three months. Bullseye still believed she’d done the right thing by allying themselves with the Underground, but sometimes she wondered. Now was one of those times. She’d tried to stay on Commander Cagod’s good side by agreeing to team up with the Underground from time to time, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain their autonomy. And he never listened to her about what missions she thought they should pursue – missions focused on fighting the Dominion’s use of the DRK, specifically. Cagod’s missions were often a waste of time or else a misuse of their abilities. This current mission… Well, saying this mission was dangerous was a serious understatement. She was all for rescue ops, but not when the risks outweighed the benefits.
Rebel politics will be the death of me, she thought. One way or another.
They were in the ancient city of Pittsburgh, which was one of many Northern Continent metropolises so damaged by war that the Dominion hadn’t bothered rebuilding. It was late evening now, and the joint team of Warriors and Underground soldiers stood in the shadow of a bridge that hung halfway across a river before abruptly ending in twisted shards of metal. From her perch atop a chunk of fallen bridge, Bullseye looked out across the water and saw the decay and destruction of the city beyond.
What was left of Pittsburgh was eerie. Few buildings remained properly erect, and numerous bridges had collapsed centuries ago into the murky rivers flowing through the city. Nature had taken over along the banks, and farther inland Bullseye saw great forests rising up between the broken skyscrapers.
There are factors in that wasteland, thought Bullseye. If anyone dares cross this river, they’re likely to trip DRK mines. Not a bad way to scare people away. I don’t even want to be here.
She looked farther down river. Only one bridge a few hundred meters east remained intact, and this led to the only salvaged section of the city. It was an island now – the Dominion had collapsed a portion of the city and allowed the river to spread over the untamed chaos, leaving this one functioning island accessible from the remaining bridge. On this island, the Dominion had constructed their largest prison on the Continent. Pitt Prison was also one of the most fortified Dominion compounds, second only to Cruelthor’s Capitol.
The Dominion has little need of prisons, thought Bullseye. Security stations and smaller jails work just fine, holding prisoners only long enough to ship them to the Capitol for factoring. If the Dominion actually bothers to keep and house prisoners here, that means these prisoners must be important. The Underground is right about that, at least. But breaking into a prison is a pretty dangerous move. I understand these prisoners we’re after are Underground commanders, but on some level they signed up knowing the risks. This isn’t far from a suicide mission, but Cagod’s willing to risk losing more men? Is it just because these prisoners are commanders? I doubt he’d have ordered this rescue op for average soldiers.
“We can’t wait much longer,” Whitewolf was saying to Miller, the Underground commander supposedly in charge of this mission. “Are you sure Revenant is on his way?”
“He’ll be here.” Miller pushed up his glove to check his watch. “We still have thirty minutes before the patrols swing by here again.”
“It’s not like we can do anything without Revenant,” Tigris reminded her brother.
Bullseye examined the team – Rave, Tigris, Whitewolf, Miller, a soldier called Washington, a MOB called Bunsen Burner, and younger tech specialist named Sid. Her three partners were standing with Miller, trying to be patient. Sid was operating a small computer in a pack on his lap. Washington stood with his pulse rifle drawn, scanning the area. Bunsen Burner was eating a late dinner. They were waiting for Revenant, a rebel soldier who’d been an inmate at Pitt Prison before he’d escaped during transport to the Capitol. Revenant was supposed to rendezvous with them before the whole team ventured to the secured bridge that led to the prison. But he was late. So far, all they’d accomplished was checking their gear and arguing over who would have what responsibility. Bunsen Burner had also managed to char about a dozen hot dogs as he tried to roast them in his MOB-heated hands. As Bullseye watched, his hands radiated red-hot and he burned another, then threw it onto a pile of blackened hot dogs beside him.
We work so much better alone, she thought with a sigh.
Rave, also watching Bunsen Burner, raised an eyebrow and looked back at Miller. “You know, if you Underground-”
“Rave, I need binoculars,” Bullseye called before he could start another argument.
Miller turned to rummage in his pack. “I think I have a pair in here some-”
“That’s not what she means.” Rave shook his head and took a few strides to jump up onto the chunk of bridge beside her. In a low voice, he muttered, “I thought you said Matsuri approved of this team. If these are soldiers Mat’s impressed with…”
She was getting tired of defending Matsuri. “He didn’t have much time to talk when I called about this mission. But if Mat says they’re okay, I believe him.”
Rave grunted, adjusted the eye shield of his facemask, and used his mutate-genetic eyesight to scan the bridge of the island prison. “All the security lights are on, so I can see a bit. Ten soldier operatives are posted at the security station on our end of the bridge. Another five at a checkpoint midway across. There’s a security station at the far end, right next to the prison wall’s gates. Can’t see beyond the wall. A scanner is swinging back and forth over the gate. The wall looks about fifteen meters high. There’s wire at the top and scanners every ten meters. Wait, now a transport vehicle is pulling up to the security station. A soldier is talking to them… Now the gates are opening. The transport’s driving in. Gate looks thick.” He faced Bullseye with a shrug. “That’s all I can see from this angle.”
Whitewolf snorted. “Oh, is that all? I can barely see the bridge.”
Miller now stood at the base of their perch. “Revenant said those walls wrap around the entire prison. There are a few buildings on the island outside the prison, but none close to the wall. And there’s only the one entrance gate from this bridge. There are two docks on the island, one on the far side and another on this side under the bridge. Unfortunately, there are security stations at each. The far docks lead to a small back door in the wall, but the door only leads out, not in. This bridge and that gate is the only way in, as far as the Dominion’s concerned.”
Bullseye knew this much. How they would breach the prison was the part they all agreed on. “Inside the walls?”
“There’s a water tower and power house on one side, guard barracks on the other. The main cell house lies smack in the center with a recreation yard in the back.”
“And the commanders we’re after are being held in the main cell house?”
Sid came forward, holding the computer pack in his arms. “They must be. The tracking program I hacked shows all these prisoners have ID tags – even the rebels we know had theirs removed a long time ago, so the Dominion must have implanted new ones – and all the commanders’ tags say they’re in….” He tapped a key and looked at the screen facing him. “C block. One is on the first level, two others on the second.”
“How many prisoners are here total?”
“Three hundred and eight, as of this morning.”
“So we’re looking for needles in a stack of needles,” muttered Rave.
Sid tapped the side of the computer pack. “With this tracking program, I can guide you to the right cells.” He looked at Tigris with a quick smile. “Assuming you can keep a communication channel open telepathically.”
Tigris knew her role in the work ahead and nodded back at Sid. The rest of them could argue about who did what, but there were some parts of this mission that only Tigris could do.
“How many guards?” asked Whitewolf.
“A hundred and seventy-five soldier operatives inside the prison. Probably another twenty-five guarding the bridge and the docks. The Dominion used to keep about fifty drones on hand, but they were redistributed after the drone farm attack.”
Bullseye smirked under her facemask and exchanged a glance with Rave. The destruction of Vancouver’s drone farm had forced the Dominion to become stingy with its use of the drones – they no longer could be churned out to replace the drones taken out by rebels across the Continent. Now, the drones were stationed only in areas of greatest need, such as DRK treatment labs. Elsewhere, the drones had been replaced by soldier operatives who were often fresh out of the Youth and therefore not nearly as effective as the drones had been.
Sid frowned down at the screen. “Normally only five higher ranked operatives are posted at the prison, but as of this morning another ten arrived from the Capitol. They’re scheduled to leave again in the morning to escort ten prisoners back to Capital City.”
“Including our prisoners?” asked Miller.
“Doesn’t say. Must be important though, if the Dominion sent top operatives as escort.”
Bullseye let out a huff and put her hands on her hips. “Super. So we have to invade an island prison, fight off over two hundred guards, find and rescue three prisoners out of over three hundred, and get out before all of Pitt Prison comes after us.”
Miller looked up at her with a frown. “I know this is asking a lot. Cagod wouldn’t have asked if this wasn’t important. These commanders are important to the cause. If they’re tortured into giving up information-”
“Alcatraz!” Rave blurted suddenly.
Bullseye looked at her brother. “What?”
“Sorry.” Rave shook his head. “The whole island/prison thing just reminded me of something, and I finally remembered what. If you people knew your history, you-”
“Hold it right there!” Washington shouted suddenly.
They looked over. Washington had his rifle aimed past a heap of rubble where the bridge supports connected with the broken highway overhead. Bunsen Burner had jumped up and moved to flank whoever Washington had spotted. The rest each drew a weapon, and Bullseye and Rave jumped down to spread out and help Washington cover the perimeter.