Just outside Hamburg, Germany – 4-15pm local time
Sydney Bristow let out a sigh of relief that she hadn’t realised she was holding when the noises started at the door of their safe house. Glancing at her watch, she noted that the team (if indeed it was them) had made very good time indeed getting here.
Gesturing silently to Michael Vaughn, her partner, they quietly drew their guns and stepped to either side of the door. Waiting patiently, they were rewarded with a knock. “Anyone there? Name’s Riley Finn - I understand you’re expecting us.”
Vaughn met Sydney’s eyes and nodded once, lowering his weapon slightly. Sydney unlocked the door and pulled it open. “Come on in, Major.”
The tall, wide uniformed man that entered was not quite what Syd had expected from the sound of his voice, or indeed how her dad had described him when they’d been frantically trying to get any sort of team together in time. He was very charming looking, with a wedding ring clearly showing, and a general air of confidence and pleasantness about him. He was followed in the room by another soldier.
“So,” began Major Finn with a wide smile on his face, “This is the world famed CIA operations, are they? Don’t think I’ve actually done anything for the CIA before.” He waved at the soldier behind him, also fully equipped in combat gear and carrying his rifle in that relaxed sort of way that Syd had only seen before in the most well trained outfits. “That’s Captain Graham Miller, my second. So what can I do for you, ma’am?”
Sydney grinned back. If there was one thing she really admired, it was competence, and these guys (funny that she hadn’t heard of them before) reeked of it. “How do you feel about assaulting a girl’s school, Major?”
“Interesting,” was all he said, but his eyebrow rose, inviting her to explain further.
As Vaughn passed the binoculars over to Capt. Graham, Sydney explained as much about the background as she could. “The CIA is after all artefacts created by one Milos Rambaldi in the late 16th century – they’re sort of a large scale puzzle and all the pieces need putting together. Unfortunately we’re not the only ones after them.”
She waved towards the school visible through the windows ahead of them. “Now, we became aware on one mission in Switzerland that one such Rambaldi artefact was being taken across Europe by two women. Attempts… to get the artefact from them en route… proved unsuccessful, but we did manage to track them to this private school in the middle of Germany.”
Sydney regarded the large soldier carefully. “And now we’re running out of time – there’s something happening according to the dates in Rambaldi’s journal for the day after tomorrow. Something big.”
A frown crossed her face, thinking of the past few days. “We’ve exhausted all the sneaky options here. We’ve tried breaking inside that school, but just keep having the worst luck possible. In short, we have no alternative left, but a frontal assault – no matter what casualities.”
Riley grimly smiled, as his troops started filing into the room behind him and dropping off their packs in the corners. “Thus the troops being called in, huh? Good job you managed to get hold of us while we had a spare day before we head back out. This sort of thing will make a nice little training exercise for us.”
“Excuse me?” said Sydney, arms folded while Vaughn glanced up, slightly startled himself. “These are some of the best unarmed combat specialists I’ve ever seen, and they’re obviously working for an unknown organisation with god knows what aims.”
Major Finn smirked. Smirked! “Yes, well… like I said, it’ll make a pleasant change for my men.”
“Major!” called out Captain Miller, scanning the front gate of the school. “I think you’ll want to see this!”
What ever doubts Sydney was getting from Major Finn’s attitude quickly dissolved at the way he shot over to Graham and was instantly all fixed on the job. Grabbing a pair of binoculars, he looked where his second was pointing.
Sydney looked herself. “That’s them, Major. The blonde and the redhead right there addressing the girls. They gave us quite the trouble, so don’t be fooled by those innocent looks.”
“I… see…” murmured Riley, turning away with a thoughtful look on his face. “Thank you for that, Captain – I certainly needed to know that information.”
Raising his voice, he addressed the 12 or so troops now waiting patiently at the back of the room, “Looks like we’ll probably be doing a Janus Directive operation here, boys, so get yourselves ready, ok?” There were no noticeable motions or movements among the troops, but Sydney felt the mood darkening.
“Sure about this, Riley?” quietly asked Captain Graham Miller.
“Under the circumstances, I think it’s all we can do,” Riley said, his gaze firm.
A small smile quirked at the corner of Graham’s mouth. “Just as long as I don’t have to do the explaining.”
“Don’t worry,” said Riley, and turned to Sydney and Vaughn. “Now, do you have any idea of what this artefact looks like?”
“Got a photo right here,” said Vaughn producing a 5 by 10 glossy. “Try not to get it damaged, okay? You won’t believe the level of detail Rambaldi tended to put into these things.”
Riley took the photo and stood for a moment, considering the picture of what appeared to be an ordinary 16th century clock. “Well, I believe I have everything we need, so feel free to proceed, gentlemen.”
At that, there was a sudden flurry of movement from the troops, and Sydney and Vaughn found themselves staring down the barrels of several very large and lethal looking barrels, some of which appeared to have highly unorthodox add-ons.
“I would advise you to make no sudden movements,” came the somewhat amused voice of Captain Miller, “But to very slowly take out your weapons and drop them on the floor.”
Sydney and Vaughn exchanged a hopeless look. No cover, too many opponents – they’d been caught good and proper. No sense in not going along for the moment. Very, very carefully they put their guns down, and clasped their hands to the back of their heads.
“Right then,” said Major Finn, still holding the photo. “Guess I’d better pop next door and have a word then.”
“Good luck with that, sir” smiled Graham, watching Sydney and Vaughn carefully.
Riley raised one eyebrow at his second. “I could make you do it, you know,” he said mildly.
“Um… I’ll just stay here and watch the highly dangerous CIA agents, sir.”
“Good call, Gra, good call.” And Riley strode out, a determined look on his face.
Syd caught Vaughn’s eye. What the hell was going on here?
Graham cleared his throat. “By the way, men, if you’re wondering just what is going on right now, these lovely CIA agents were wanting us to attack the Major’s ex.”
From the suddenly paling expressions on their faces, and the muttered “Oh, fuck...” from the back of the room, Sydney gathered this was bad news. But the thing that stuck in Sydney’s head was…
“His ex?” Suddenly she realised she’d spoken aloud.
“Oh yes,” smiled Captain Miller. “He dated Buffy, the blonde one, for about a year.”
He fixed Sydney with a firm look. “Be glad your desperate search for Special Forces ended up with us. Otherwise this could have got a lot bloodier. I’ve seen Buffy wipe the floor with six highly trained unarmed combat instructors at one go.”
There was a noise at the door, and Major Finn re-entered. Along with the blonde (Buffy? Who the hell named their kid Buffy?), the redhead and…
“The artefact!” exclaimed Vaughn, almost swaying forward in his excitement. Until that was, he was gently reminded of their position by the rising rifle barrels. Sydney’s eyes narrowed – was that really a flame-thrower mod on the side of that rifle?
“Oh wow!” said the redhead excitedly. “It is them! They weren’t crap muggers, after all!”
“No, Willow,” said Riley, carefully covering a smile, “They’re highly trained CIA agents, expert in many skills and expertise.”
“So…” said Buffy, carelessly juggling the Rambaldi device up and down, “Guess you two are after this then?”
“Um… yes, we are, and could you please stop doing that with it?” said Vaughn hoarsely. “It’s… very delicate.” Inspiration struck. “We’re very sorry?”
“Hmm...” said Buffy consideringly. “Willow? Your call here.”
The red-head looked up from where she was pouring over the communication gear with an avid look. “Ooooo.. some very nice stuff here, Buffy.”
Buffy bit back a smile. “The artefact, Will?”
Willow shrugged. “Aw, let them have it, Buffy. I can get Giles another present anytime.”
“Fair enough, then,” said Buffy, and tossed the clock towards Sydney.
Sydney dived forward and grabbed the Rambaldi device before it hit the ground. What the hell were these guys on? This was one of the weirdest operations she’d ever been in.
“You owe us fifty dollars,” said Buffy looking down at the sprawled out Sydney. “We’ll send the CIA a bill. Don’t make me come collect it.” Turning around, she spoke to Riley, “So, wanna come see how we got the place set up? Bring your men – some of the Juniors could do with a break from the normal stuff.”
Riley nodded at Graham, who gestured and the troops relaxed and put their guns away. “That would be nice, thank you. We can swap a few tales before we have to head off, if you want.”
“Coolness!” said Willow happily, almost bouncing up and down. “House guests! Xander will be so upset he missed this!”
The army troops grabbed their stuff and slowly filed out. Vaughn and Sydney just stayed where they were; unsure what exactly was going on, and whether it was safe to move. Finally, only Major Finn and Buffy were left in the room. Still chatting happily about someone called Sam, they turned to leave.
“Excuse me?” said Vaughn, still with his hands clasped to the back of his head. “What about us?”
Buffy tilted her head to one side. “You’re not invited. You have your artefact, so why don’t you just scram before we get even more annoyed, okay?” She smiled - a large fake smile. “Have a nice day.” And with that, she and Riley exited, leaving a shell-shocked pair of CIA agents.
Eventually, Sydney got up off the floor and sat down in front of the communication equipment, regarding the Rambaldi device in her lap. Mission accomplished, she guessed. Now, just how the hell were they going to explain this in their report?