A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 39

As the cab pulled up outside the human tavern, Allana reviewed her part in the operation to follow. The main, and most important part, was that she successfully impersonate Vastra. That wasn't going to be a problem. One of her and Vastra's primary private amusements while they were studying had been swapping sexual partners without either partner realising that the female in their bed wasn't the same one who had been with them last time. They had never been caught at it.

As she pushed open the poorly fitted wooden door, she heard a distinctive noise, although she knew that it would be almost inaudible to the ears of a human. The sound in question was a slightly undulating hunting cry, soft enough to avoid spooking a nervous herd of hypsilodon if the caller was a few yards away.

Vastra was in position, then, she thought, with a smile that was less openly malevolent than Vastra's version, but still worrying to see, particularly if the smiler happened to be carrying the spear that had been her preferred weapon, as opposed to Vastra and her swords.

Inside, it was a typical human tavern. The ceiling was lower than perhaps comfortable, and she could see several young-looking females wearing gowns that hinted that they were a menu item as well as servers, carrying trays loaded with leather tankards, presumably full of the somewhat bitter drink humans made from fermented barley, or just about anything else that they could lay their hands on and ferment to form an alcoholic beverage.

She glanced along a row of what could charitably be described as booths, assuming that was the correct description of a pair of high-backed benches with little padding, facing each other over a table.

With little ceremony, she deposited the case of sovereigns on the table of a man matching the description of the man she'd been told to give the money to, in the correct booth, as they were one row, along the wall next to the door. He nodded at her, before staying seated, and gesturing for her to leave.

She'd retained the cab outside, so that, at Vastra's advice, she wouldn't end up walking through the streets of Southwark after dark. With her nostrils torturously filled with the scent of drunken humans, she clambered gratefully back into the cab, which trotted away, heading for Paternoster Row, and bacon.

Vastra watched her cousin walk into the tavern, before scuttling over to a crude skylight to observe her cousin carefully, and hopefully very temporarily, handing over enough gold coins to purchase a small manse outright. The man she had handed the case to continued drinking for about a quarter of an hour, before standing up, then tucking his distinctive coat into the case, which he carefully placed inside a sailors ditty bag, before making his exit via the front entrance, watching the street carefully.

It is one of the perennial failings of the human, however, that we rarely look up at the roofs, or down at the street, and so it proved. Vastra carefully kept pace with the man from rooftop to rooftop, tracking him about half a mile, before sitting back and waiting when he entered another, even more disreputable looking tavern.

A few minutes later, her quarry stepped out of the door, without his bag, but with a slight spring to his step that she guessed equated to five sovereigns.

With a grim smile, she extracted from her belt a low light camera, before aiming it at the man's face, and taking a photograph of him, in the hope of being able to run him down later.

She could only watch one entrance, though.

Fortunately, the man inside was not as well educated in the art of concealment as the Silurian, and used the most obvious exit, which fed into a narrow alleyway, taking the visibly armed man, judging by the bulge in his jacket, deeper into a rookery. The streets were narrower, and even at the hour of eleven in the evening, they were full of apes, although she was able to track her target all the way to the riverbank, perhaps a third of a mile from where she'd positioned her trump card, inside a small, Tudor warehouse that had few values to an honest merchant. The draft in front of the dock was too shallow for a modern trading vessel, and the watercourse did not lend itself to dredging.

She darted up the roof of the bordello overlooking the warehouse, using her toe-claws to more easily grip the beam, before taking a small device out of her pocket, and designating the building with a small pointer.

The device came to life, rising from the roof with an inaudible whine, before departing at speed towards the warehouse, buzzing as the tiny scanner it mounted, operating on microwave wavelengths, completely scanned through the walls of the building, generating a full record of the layout, before returning to Vastra.

The silurian accepted the printout from the device gravely, before attaching it to a second drone, and sitting back, watching the warehouse with interest as her messenger drone buzzed away, carrying the floor plan of the target building for the use of the UNIT commando team a third of a mile away.

Then the Silurian turned into another roof decoration, to any observer without a thermal camera capable of detecting her breath as it came out.

"If you want to keep her around to see what happens, Jolt, you'll need to talk to section fifteen at the border agency. They deal with these sorts of visas." Sergeant Alex Craig told his youngest trooper, Alek James, aka Jolt. "A few of the lads have Silurian wives already, so it isn't a big deal at headquarters, if you want things to go that far."

"She's, different, boss." The trooper replied, smiling slightly. "I've seen a few aliens around the place, but she almost seems like a normal person. There is the spear thing." He continued with a grin. "But I guess I can live with someone who occasionally answers the door with a pike."

The various squaddies chuckled.

Then the small drone arrived, before docking with the holographic display unit which served it as a charging station, before displaying the schematic of a building, including exterior photos.

"She's come good." Sergeant Craig said grimly. "Now it's time for us to do the same."

He pored over the plan, occasionally tracing things with a pointer.

"Corporal, your team will enter through the loading door at the front of the building, next to the river. Use a breaching charge to ensure surprise. There is a first floor with three cubbies off the stairs, all connected as one room. Breach the door, and clear it." Corporal Hex, as he was known to the entire force except the personnel officer at headquarters, nodded, looking carefully at the plan. "Continue up the external stairs, and clear all three upper stories. Radio before you come down the final set of stairs."

"My team, we're going in through the personnel access at the rear. That gets us into the ground floor offices, which is where they will likely be holed up if they aren't upstairs. We're also going to go Bolshevik Muppet on the doors downstairs. If we don't secure the hostage, team two are to descend the rear stairs, and storm the cellar. Remember, it is very likely that the hostage will be unable to defend herself or self-rescue in the event of a fire, so keep the flashbangs controlled. This building is a luxury block of flats when we are, so no accidental fires. This lot are off the reservation, so if one of them is holding any sort of weapon, and any hostages are clear of your line of fire, take the shot."

Once the fairly simple briefing was concluded, the rescue team loaded up, carrying a frankly alarming amount of weaponry.

Each commando was armed with a standard 5.56mm G-36 carbine, with three magazines loaded with standard rounds, as they were not expecting to encounter any hostile targets wearing body armour. Alongside the carbine, each trooper also carried a classic weapon: the Heckler and Koch MP5, chambered in 9mm parabellum, a round designed more than a century ago. The bullets themselves were intended for combat in these sorts of close range firefights, having a reduced charge, and using an expanding bullet to minimize the chances of an over-penetration or a ricochet killing or injuring a hostage. The weapon was pinpoint accurate for about fifteen metres, which, in a close quarters assault, was all the range in the world. In case of a failure, each trooper also had been issued a Browning Hi-power, again, chambered in 9mm, and using expanding bullets.

Each trooper also had a pair of fragmentation grenades hanging from their belt, along with four flashbangs and two smoke grenades. It was the most important part of their arsenal. The flashbangs would give them a huge advantage when storming a room, almost regardless of what or who was inside. Even a Dalek was incapacitated by a stun grenade.

Carefully, the team collected their charges, connecting up the various blocks of plastic explosive on the two breaching charges, before running a series of circuit tests, ensuring that the two pound explosive charges would detonate when prompted.

Once everything was in place, the team mounted up, locking and loading on route, but talking very little, except for going over final points of operational information.

When the two coaches pulled up, the team dismounted, before heading to their objectives, splitting into two carefully drilled kill-teams as they did so.

Clara shifted awkwardly, changing her upper body position to minimise discomfort from her bound wrists.

Several times, the men holding her had fed a rubber tube in under her gag, with the far end dipped in a glass of what tasted like small beer, or a basic soup. It allowed them to feed and water her without giving her a look at anything which might give them away when she was interviewed by the police.

There was one slight indignity, though, she thought, testing her feet against the wooden bars that kept them close together and parallel, like she was a medieval peasant who had committed a minor offence. Being locked in a set of stocks was fairly demeaning to say the least.

Every few hours, two of them came downstairs, and lifted her onto a bucket, before using a small probe to reposition her underwear in order to allow her to relieve herself into the bucket. It was possibly more demeaning than the stocks.

"Team Two, in position."

"Copy that team two." Sergeant Craig replied into his headset. "Is the door ready?"

"Door is ready." Hex replied. "Going green."

"Copy that, corporal." Craig said. "In five... four... three... two... One... fire in the hole."

The two breaching charges went off within a tenth of a second of each other.

Clara felt the building shake suddenly, showering her with dust and arthropods from the ceiling with an almost simultaneous set of thunderclaps. She grinned under the hood, despite the sudden shower of small and large spiders. Vastra seemed to have found some help from somewhere.

Then, faintly, she heard the first gunshots.

"Go go go go go." Craig yelled, stepping through the breached doorway and almost instantly pivoting to his right, allowing his number two to cover the section immediately ahead of the door. "Clear." He yelled, before a size twelve combat boot, UNIT SOF issue, smashed through the door ahead of them, clearing the way for a stun grenade, which exploded with a deafening blast of sound, and a completely disorienting flash of light.

The commando stepped through the door, again pivoting to his right. This time, a man was standing in an archway, holding a revolver low, clearly trying to get his bearings again.

Craig shot him three times in the head from five feet away, with 9mm expanding bullets.

It wasn't pretty.

Behind him, there was another brief salvo, and he heard another body drop, before a revolver roared from behind a table.

The gunman fired twice, filling the room with a sudden haze of powder smoke, obscuring his own vision. Unfortunately for him, the commandos were wearing environmental adaption masks. The resultant smoke was not even visible, as far as they were concerned.

A G-36 was raised on its sling, the commando allowing his submachine gun to dangle from its retaining strap for a few moments. A burst of 5.56mm rounds tore through the table top, the chest of the man behind it, and into the wooden floor, before punching into a wall perhaps six feet to Clara's left. She squeaked slightly as she heard the impacts, and was sprayed with shards of brick wall, although she had no way of changing her posture or making herself less of a target, thanks to the bench she was seated on.

The gunman fired a third and then a fourth shot, aiming at the commandos, striking one of the troopers, Carmichael, in the chest with a .45 copper jacketed hollow point. The slug punched the man two steps backwards, shattering a primary layer strike plate with its kinetic energy. It caused no other damage, before Trooper James stepped around the side of the man's cover, and shot him twice in the head with his submachine gun. The man dropped to the floor with the grace of a sack of potatoes.

Outside the cellar door, the commando team found two more hostage takers, one armed with a coach-gun, the other waving a Martini-Metford rifle. Both men were behind a row of barrels, which, judging by the slight puddle on the floor, were full of water. No sooner had the commandos entered the room than both barrels of the coach-gun were fired in quick succession, spraying two of the troopers, James and

Craig glanced around at the room. Judging from the plan created by Vastra's ingenious little drone the vaults below had were barrel-vault construction, with ceilings that would likely only be strengthened by a grenade blast. He was less sure about the floor above, but it was unlikely that the shrapnel would penetrate a layer of boards and a tiled roof.

He made a pair of hand signals at Carmichael, who had just finished swapping out his damaged strike plate, thanks to the design of the vest he was wearing. The man nodded, before pulling a hand grenade off of his belt, pulling the pin, and rolling the spherical weapon along the floor and around the barricade.

The weapon went off with a sharp crack, filling the room with dust, shortly before the section of floor which had supported the barricade went crashing into the vault below. He heard a scream from below, which thankfully wasn't cut off suddenly, but petered out of its own will.

"Shit!" The commando hissed.

Clara couldn't help but scream as an explosion went off about ten metres away, above her head. It half-deafened her, but not enough that she did not hear and feel the floor collapse in, barrels of cold water smashing open ten feet ahead of her, liberally deluging her with a wall of what smelt like water drawn from the Thames without any cleaning.

"Hoi!" She yelled. "What the bloody hell do you think you're playing at up there?"

"Hostage located." Jolt said into his radio, deadpan.

"Thank you, trooper." Craig replied, grinning slightly. "Scoot, Jolt, get down there and extract the hostage, will you?"

"Aye aye, boss." They replied, grinning, before producing a pair of hooks, and screwing them into the doorframe, the other two commandos standing out of the way, before fastening their descent lines onto the hooks, and stepping backwards over the hole in the floor.

It wasn't the perfect way to descend, as they were likely to end up in a crouch when they landed, thanks to the lack of support to keep them upright. That said, any hostile in the cellar was either under the debris, or gone, so it was a relatively safe bet.

Both troopers landed in a crouch, before glancing around briefly, checking for hostiles, before approaching Clara, who was muttering about the lack of manner they were displaying. Scoot stepped to one side, before placing a laser dot on the forehead of the bound figure, before Jolt, approaching from the other side, yanked off the hood.

"Oh for…" Clara muttered, becoming very aware of the red dot on her forehead.

Jolt extracted a small photo from his vest, before comparing it to Clara.

"It's her." He said, before the submachine gun snapped up and away. Carefully, he reached behind her, before using his combat knife to carefully slice the ropes around her wrists, freeing her from what had become a somewhat uncomfortable position over time, even with ropes loose enough that she had retained full circulation.

Meanwhile, Scoot was examining the padlock holding closed the stocks. He raised his pistol speculatively, before lowering it again. "Hold on a minute." He said, before pulling what looking like brightly coloured string from his pocket.

"Scoot, you are not going to use that on the padlock." Jolt said. "It'd send shrapnel everywhere."

"I'm not." He replied, wrapping a small loop of it around the bracket holding the device shut. "I'm using it on the loop, where it won't cause any real damage."

"Your arse if she gets hurts, and boss finds out." Jolt said, before placing a small blanket over the end of the pillory, once the fuse had been connected. Scoot pressed a button, and there was a muted, sudden clap as the two inches of cord went off at a speed of more than seven kilometres per second, slicing cleanly through the somewhat decrepit, and somewhat rotten, loop of mild steel. A swift kick twisted the remainder out of shape, and the wooden bars were shifted apart, allowing Clara to move her legs for the first time in nearly a day.

She was helped to her feet by the two commandos, before an explosion echoed down the cellar steps.

"Clear!" she heard yelled, despite being slightly deafened from the blast.

When they got to the top of the stairs, two more commandos were waiting, one holding a ceremonial foil blanket, before they guided her out of the building, and into a waiting carriage, and straight into the arms of an extremely expressive Silurian.

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