The year was 2006. The place? Deep in enemy Russia.
I kept a tight grip on my gun as I crawled up the hill, undergrowth poking me in the stomach. It took all of fifteen feet for me to get thoroughly sick of that, so I stood up and charged up the hill in an awkward crouch that was undignified in the extreme but kept me effectively invisible.
I reached the top, only to discover that--oh crap--the guardhouse was populated by watchmen!
WHAM. I belly-flopped. Then I sprang back up, stifling a yelp, and hurled myself onto a less thorny patch of earth. From this new concealment, I pulled the thorns out of my frontside and tried to figure out how to bypass the guards.
I almost shot my fellow agent, who had snuck up on me. "SHHHH! Yeah, they got guards over there."
Agent Zam Corsello cocked an eyebrow at me. "Is that why you dove into the briar patch?"
"Shaddup," I muttered, pulling out the last of the thorns. "We can duck back into the forest and take the creek route to their headquarters, or we could try the ridgeline here. That would be riskier, though--"
"I vote ridgeline," Corsello voted, scratching himself. "Fewer insects."
"Wuss," I snickered, shoving him. He shoved me back unexpectedly.
I climbed back up the hill and we crept along the ridgeline. After a few yards, I tucked my gun back into my pants so my hands-and-knees crawl would work better.
"Hey, what is our plan?" Corsello asked from behind me.
I stopped abruptly. He ran into my backside. "Don't you ever listen at mission briefings?" I demanded.
"I was working on my samples," he responded in a huff. "They weren't reacting."
I rolled my eyes. "We're trying to break in here for food because our supplies ran out," I hissed. "Also, we need to plant a new bug so we can listen in. They found our last one."
"Oh." Corsello shrugged. "I didn't miss much."
I groaned softly. "Please tell me you brought the bug."
Corsello reached into his pockets and pulled out a bug. As in, a six-legged one. He shrieked and dropped it. I almost kicked him. "Keep your voice down!"
Corsello sheepishly and gingerly dove back into his pocket and came up with a penny-sized object. "Here it is."
"I'm gonna die with a moron," I complained to the heavens. "Come on, let's go!"
We made it to a good observation point a few minutes later. "So how should we do this?" Corsello asked.
"Pay attention during the mission briefing!" I ordered him. "We gotta brush off and infiltrate through the back door there. I have the key hacker."
"So I went camo for nothing?" Corsello demanded.
I turned to look at him. He was literally covered in leaves and sticks. I sighed. "There's a bug on your head."
Corsello shed his disguise faster than I could publicly disown him. We crept towards the back door, when suddenly--
"Get down!!" I hissed, diving for the side of the house. We barely made it around the corner before it opened fully. We both flatted out and held our collective breath.
A jingle. Door slam. More jingling. And then a dog was licking Corsello's face. I snickered. "Apparently they let out the guard dogs."
"How do we get rid of it?" Corsello asked, shoving it towards me.
I scooped up a rock. "It's probably a pretty stupid dog. Let's try this."
The dog tore after the rock I'd just hurled into the woods, probably thinking I wanted to play fetch. I figured he'd find the dead raccoon in the creek and be occupied for the next few hours. "Coast is clear! Let's go!"
"Got it." Corsello drew his gun as we scurried over to the door.
"Are your feet clean?" I questioned him over my shoulder as I pulled out the key hacker and held it up to the lock.
"Yeah, yeah, I know--if we track mud through the house, we'll get shot," Corsello muttered. "I'm not an idiot."
"Could have fooled me," I shot back, turning the handle and slipping inside before he could come up with a suitable retort.
We dove into enemy territory, guns drawn and communicating with hand signals. Corsello was all for slipping the bug into someone's unattended boot. I replied with a rude gesture communicating his ignorance and pointed towards the meeting hall, which looked a bit like a dining room. We crossed silently over to it and slipped the bug underneath it.
I gestured towards the kitchen, indicating that I would go check it out. Corsello tried to beat me to it, but I ordered him to stay by smacking him in the chest. Fortunately, the kitchen was unattended, because the impact might have been a bit louder than I intended.
I opened the pantry and surveyed it with the eager eye of the desperately hungry. I shoved a chocolate bar in my pocket before pilfering some of the more substantial items and--
--oh crap, footsteps!
Knowing that a new unit of time would be needed to measure my life expectancy should I be caught (milliseconds was years too long), I chose the path of least resistance and dove into the pantry, pulling the doors shut after me and hiding under the bottom shelf. The footsteps marched around for a while. I heard water being poured. Then the person walked back out.
I shot out of the pantry like I'd found a hornet's nest under there, snagged Corsello, and hightailed it out the backdoor to the relative safety of the woods. We caught our breath in a thick clump of shrubbery, where I shared the crackers and chocolate with him and we patted ourselves on the back for a job well done.
Corsello wiped crumbs off his face. "Now what?"
"Now we go spy on the guardhouse--" I was cut off by a yell. from the general direction of enemy HQ. "What was that?"
"Sounded like something about lunch," Corsello mused as we shot back up to see what was going on.
Across the way, we saw the guardhouse open as our sisters spilled out of it, chatting animatedly as they ran for the house. We heard the call again. "Boys come in, it's time to eat!"
"Good thing we left the crackers back there," my brother laughed as we ran to answer the call.
"Yeah," I mused. "By the way, Nemesis, you suck as a lookout. Why didn't you warn me Mom was coming in the kitchen?"
"I didn't know what our signal was!" Nemesis protested.
I groaned. "Nemesis, pay attention during the mission briefings!!!!"