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They left the barn, and Gabriel found himself walking though a beautiful forested landscape. Birds chirped and sang, the sun shone down warmth, and cows grazed in a fenced area. The forest had clearly been cleared for this little farm land, and there was a wide trail leading down through the trees. Ross broke into a ground-eating run down this trail, setting the pace. It was a little faster than a jog, but not quite a full-out sprint either.

Gabriel fell into line behind Zwei, struggling to control the nerves that threatened to rise. This was completely out of his league, he thought. He couldn't deny that he was also excited, to some degree. When he agreed to become an Agent, this more along the lines of what he expected to be doing. Exciting stuff. Playing the hero. And not helplessly watching his comrades get chopped up by the bad guys.

It took about ten minutes for them to reach their destination. From the outside, the research facility appeared quite innocuous. It was a large squat brick building, gray on the outside with a small windows evenly spaced along the walls. It appeared to be only one story, and it actually could have passed off as a small school. There was a parking lot and a wide sidewalk leading to the main set of doors.

Within the tree line, all the Agents waited while Ross took a look. There wasn't even a hint of any kind of security. Everything appeared quiet and peaceful. Gabriel knew that the appearance was probably a facade.

"All right," Ross said, barely more louder than a whisper. "We're going in, and we're going to go down to the basement level. No stopping until we get there. We have permission to use lethal force, but only if necessary. From here on out, keep the chatter to a minimum. Everyone clear?"

There were quick nods of agreement. Ross then looked pointedly at Mick. Then he lifted a hand, and pointed a single finger at the main doors. Mick grinned. Then he stuck a hand inside a pouch, and pulled out a grenade. He yanked the pin.

Ross made a sharp gesture. Go!

Everyone lunged out of the treeline. Mick tossed the grenade at the doors. He had a good arm - it sailed across the parking lot, over the sidewalk, and just reached the door before it exploded in a brilliant flash of light and smoke, the concussion wave reaching out to smack the Agents in the face. It wasn't enough to really give them pause, but Gabriel definitely felt it in his chest.

Where the doors had once been was now a huge, smouldering hole in the wall. Ross and Shot lead the way in, with Candy and Gabriel right behind. Mick brought up the rear and Zwei stayed behind in the tree line. Her job was to ensure they would be able to get out in the end, and supply an emergency back-up if needed.

They blasted right through the entrance. There was a couple of nurse-looking attendees, but Mick tossed a gas canister at them, which immediately spewed out piles of toxic smoke. They collapsed, coughing weakly.

A few others were on the main level, and Mick pretty much laid surprise stink bombs all over the place. Even though Gabriel had been given a mask, it didn't stop his eyes from watering as he followed the others through dissipating clouds of the stuff. Nevertheless, the team moved quickly and he didn't have to do much more than keep up with them.

Ross lead them to the first set of stairs.

He pointed at Shot, and gestured in the direction that they had just come through. Gabriel wasn't sure what Ross was trying to say, but at least Shot understood. The weapon fanatic just gave a stoic nod, giving his huge gun a gentle caress before he turned and moved back into the hallway. The rest of them started running down the stairs, which was a lot harder than it sounded.

It didn't take long for Gabriel's calves to start burning. He didn't get a chance to feel sorry for himself for long, for they neared the landing to the basement floor. This was where they needed to go and judging by the heavy duty metal doorway secured with a key swiper, it was going to start getting harder now.

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