Liberty watched as his team unloaded the casket-like box from the rear of the truck. Tarrytown and Goodyear hopped out of the truck while Sampson, Digger, and Cross did the unloading.
Liberty knew he had a good plan, and good people to see it through. He was still bothered, however, bothered beyond the usual anxiety inherent to any operation. The defection of a scientist of Kellner’s stature had rightly caused a furor back in the Old World. It was also a given that the Resistance would somehow get her to the Free States. The blockade of all Free State ports meant smuggling through a controlled port.
That was the first part of Liberty’s worries. The only means available to the Resistance was the Trident, the world spanning smuggling ring controlled by “Zeus” Pandareos. He was let in on neither the contents of the package nor who was paying him to move it. Both pieces of information were classically taboo in Zeus’s line of work, but he was still able to put two and two together with respect to the timing to know that four was going to cost more than normal. It was a gaping hole in the security of the transport, but there was no way around it.
The second thing that had him worried was that the local garrisons hadn’t seemed to react to the news. No extra security at the ports, no extra crackdown on freelance practitioners of weird science. The Count seemed to be making a show of his pants being down.
That was why Liberty had laid on so much protection for this operation. Five men in case the Imperials made their way inside, in addition to himself and Spanner, who was there for his technical expertise. Outside, he had four more: Quisitor, Lamb, Jericho, and Petra. They were primarily lookouts, but Jericho and Petra were fair gun hands, and Quisitor was the sole mage in Liberty’s New York operation. Should fighting start, Jericho and Petra would form on Quisitor and provide him cover. Both sides of this war knew: when in doubt, shoot the guy throwing fireballs. If things went particularly badly, he had Lamb holding back as eyes to gauge the activities of the Imperials post raid. Lamb may have been more than just a girl, but she was far more valuable for intelligence than fighting.
Sampson didn’t bother with a pry bar as he removed the lid from the crate. He was one more surprise in case things went bad. Sampson’s strength was normally impressive. When pushed, he could use some of the world’s magic to augment his might.
Once the lid was removed, Spanner was right over the doctor and snapped a capsule he had removed from his heavily laden vest under her nose. Sawbones was right next to him checking the doctor’s vital signs. Frieda sat up with a gasp and a long fit of coughing. Liberty waited until her coughing came under control before speaking.
Dr. Kellner had to pause for a moment to focus her eyes on the masked man standing next to the crate.
Liberty smiled under the mask at his alternate codename. It was his first in truth, selected due to his heritage. Henry Fitzpatrick counted himself a descendant of Patrick Henry and saw it as a duty to re-fight the Revolution as fate would have it. “White Rabbit” had been a joke made by one of his commando platoon during the Great War to mean that he was “late for the Tea Party”.
“Good to have you here with us, Doctor,” said the Resistance leader.
Before she could respond, Spanner’s miniaturized wireless gave out a call.
“Base, Quisitor: the wolf is at the door, the wolf is at the door.”
“Soldiers front!” called Cross.
“Soldiers rear!” called Goodyear.
“Hold them back!” ordered Liberty.
With that, two men each at the front and rear opened fire with their Thompsons through windows at catwalk level. Liberty could not see anything from his ground floor position. The warehouse faced the waterfront to the west and had a second set of loading doors on the east. North and south were unbroken brick walls.
Glass rained down when the Imperials opened fire. Digger screamed and fell backward off of the catwalk. Liberty grabbed Dr. Kellner and pushed her into the truck.
The light bloomed through the windows of the west face.
“One of their trucks just blew!”
Liberty knew that it must have been Quisitor engaging the enemy.
“Digger, Cross, pin them down up front. The rest, get ready to punch our way out the…”
A crash of wood and metal prevented Liberty from completing his order. The doors flew inward as if a truck had hit them. The force was enough that the doors took out three of the supports for the catwalk. Digger and Cross found the metal they were standing on suddenly no longer supporting them, and they fell in front of the now open maw that had been the front doors.
“Mage!” yelled Liberty. “Spanner, smoke now!”
“Spectacles down, smoke now!” Spanner removed two canisters from his vest, popped a pair of levers, and tossed the small smoke generators toward the doors. With the spectacles he had provided, the Resistance members could see as well as a clear day. Meanwhile, the Imperials, and most importantly the Imperial mage Captain Rupert Bren, could not see more than five feet into the smoke.
It sadly did little for Digger and Cross, for whom the pain of their injuries magnified ten fold under the magic of Captain Bren. Their capture would be easy enough, and the Anti-Resistance Force wasted no further thought on them.
Liberty grabbed Frieda by the arm and moved quickly to the rear doors.
“Spanner, notify the outer teams that we are coming out the back. And have your smoke ready.”
“Sampson, hit the door.”
The rear doors buckled outward with little less force than the front ones had. The new cross ventilation threatened to dissipate the smoke more quickly, and Liberty knew they didn’t have time to waste.