Stumbling out of the villa, he noticed blearily that he was missing his favorite boot knife. Now, that was a damned shame. It was one of a matched pair…a gift from a blade smith of exceptional skill. That said artisan was no longer among the living made it all the more irreplaceable. Taking cover in a small stand of trees, he centered himself and allowed the adrenaline overload to seep from his muscles.
As one of the best covert operatives the Agency had ever fielded, he’d seen his fair share of blown missions. This one, however, was a cock-up of truly epic proportions. Either Intel Branch had supplied him the most inaccurate data in their history or someone…someone high up had hung him out to dry.
At length, he decided there would be time later to figure out which of those two scenarios he had been dropped into. Now, he needed to devote his energy to clean-up and extraction. Well, if nothing else, it would present him an opportunity to retrieve his knife.
Moving with almost supernatural stealth, he moved to a discreet distance and surveyed the house. As expected, all was dark and silent. Though much of the night was lost to him in the haze of combat, he was confident enough in his fieldcraft to know he wouldn’t have left the electricity intact any more than he would have left any opposition alive inside. That would simplify matters.
Crossing the threshold, he nearly stumbled over the body at his feet. Kneeling, he checked the sentry, finding his missing knife lodged in the man’s sternum. Given the difficulty he experienced retrieving it explained why he had abandoned his prized blade in the first place. Sliding it into its sheath, he continued his search of the interior.
Minutes later he’d identified nine downed men total. Given he had not so much as a scratch, he figured he hadn’t lost his edge in hand-to-hand to the specter of middle age. As surreptitiously as possible, Zed stacked the bodies like so much cordwood. Checking his chronometer, he placed a block of thermite amongst the corpses and set the timer.
Returning to the upstairs office, he confirmed not only were there no blueprints in the wall safe…there was no friggin’ safe at all. Oh yeah, this was starting to smell really foul. He definitely needed to know who had sanctioned this op. His long-term retirement plans depended on that knowledge.
Stopping at the kitchen to sever the gas lines to all three of the commercial-grade stoves, he ghosted back into the night and took cover in the same stand of trees. The flash of the thermite ignition was immediately followed by the house being blown to flinders.
Nodding with satisfaction, Zed checked clean-up off of his mental to-do list and concentrated on finding the means to make it back to friendly terrain. Given the outcome of the night’s efforts, he couldn’t help but wonder just how friendly that terrain might prove to be.
This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction phrase prompt.