Chapter Three (continued)
Yasenevo 11 Kolpachny
She reaches the roof, where her extraction team hovers above in an MH-60 Enhanced Black Hawk helicopter. Clemens motions for her to jump in. Just as she leaps for the helicopter, a bullet grazes the side of her right leg. Fighting Bull stumbles and barely grabs hold of a landing skid with her left hand as the helicopter begins its ascent. As she dangles from the helicopter she draws a black Sig Sauer P-225 from her shoulder holster and returns fire on the guard who shot her. The bullet pierces his chest, and his body crumples to the ground.
Fighting Bull loses her grip, but before she can fall too far, Clemens snatches her left wrist and pulls her into the cabin. Their gunner returns fire with two mounted 7.62mm miniguns as the pilot releases burst flares from the M-130 flare dispenser, disorienting their attackers and covering their escape.
Fighting Bull hands the jump drive to her operations officer.
“That was too close, Cynthia,” Clemens comments.
“I know,” Fighting Bull counters. “It won’t happen again.”
“You said that in Sarajevo, and in Kandahar before that.”
Fighting Bull nods contritely. Deep down, she is not truly penitent. The fact is that she thrives on episodes like this. To her, the rush of being on the precipice of death is akin to being high on cocaine. One could rightly assert that Cynthia Fighting Bull was an adrenaline junkie with no intention of ever going into rehab. Competent though she is at her job, her love of excessive risk-taking is her one major flaw as an agent.
Clemens inserts the jump drive into his laptop’s USB port and begins transferring the encrypted files to Langley’s server. The on-board medic bandages Fighting Bull’s leg wound. Thankfully for her, there is just superficial damage with minimal blood loss.
With the release of superhuman growth hormone from her anterior pituitary gland, she transforms from the Andropov identity back into her original slim five-foot, five-inch frame. Her protean ability is both amazing and unsettling to witness, best described as wax melting, with Andropov’s visage liquefying away to reveal Fighting Bull’s true face. Clemens looks up from his laptop to catch this process.
“No matter how many times you do that it still gives me the creeps,” he comments.
Fighting Bull smiles and ties her long, light brown hair into a pony tail as she takes a cabin seat. She grabs the duffle bag with her change of clothes from the side of her chair and places it in her lap. An unfortunate downside to her ability is that she can’t transform her clothes whenever she does a shape change. Thus, she is constantly required to have a change of clothes on hand to fit her original body frame.
“Cynthia, you want to grab something to drink before we head home?” the pilot asks.
“You know she doesn’t drink Barton,” Clemens says. “Just worry about getting us home.”
Fighting Bull nods at Clemens then looks down at her phone. She notices the time and sees that she is almost late in giving her video debrief to her handler. She touches the overhead flat-screen monitor above her, agent Tony Dickson appears onscreen.
“How was it?”
She responds with a smirk. “Smooth as a baby’s bottom. They didn’t have the slightest clue that I was even there.”
“Yeah right, and there’s a bridge in New York that I’d like to sell you. I saw your little fiasco from the SATVID. Next time, leave when Clemens tells you to!” Dickson chides.
“Now where would the fun be in that?”
“It’s all fun and games until I’m reading your eulogy.”
“I understand. I won’t make that mistake again, sir. So when’s my next assignment?”
“You won’t have one. You have a press conference to go to, remember?”
“Uh, no. When did this come about?”
“Didn’t you get the memo about being sanctioned into that new special task force?” Dickson retorts matter-of-factly.
Back at Langley, Dickson clicks the Microsoft Outlook icon on his computer screen and retrieves the errant e-mail. He pauses as he reads.
“On second thought, scratch that. There’s no way you could’ve gotten that memo because I’m staring at the copy that I was supposed to e-mail you. Sorry, I must’ve forgotten to send it. My bad.”
“‘My bad?’ Sir, isn’t it you who always reminds me that this CIA stands for the Central Intelligence Agency, not the Center for the Inept and Amnesic?”
 Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki—Russian Foreign Intelligence Service
 SATellite VIDeo
All characters and story trademark and copyright of Paa-Kofi Obeng