Cole made the decision instantly and without doubt. The hostiles had broken through both sentry points upstairs and would be upon Cole and his little crew in a matter of moments. He didn't bother checking for a good place of engagement; there wasn't one. This room, structurally speaking, would be impossible to defend, so he barked orders at his team on the run toward the staircase, “You heard the man, gentlemen! We need to get to the level below us and blow everything we see into fuckin' oblivion! Is that understood?!”
They needn't have answered, because Cole was aware of each of his teammates running full-tilt toward the simple aluminum door marked STAIRS, and each of them had an iron-tight grasp of their duties – both individually and as a group – and of the overall scope of the mission. It was funny, because each of his team was vital to him and to the success of the mission, yet none of them were soldiers. Somewhere in the back of Cole's head, his military mind begrudged these new ways of war, and wished for men of iron like in the old days.
But his rational mind, the practical side of it, reminded the warrior part that these were the soldiers of the new day, using brains and mental dexterity over brawn and bullets.
Still, he needed someone to cover their ass. “Yoshi,” he shouted, “watch our six! Blast anything that enters that room behind us!”
“Copy,” the big Asian eased himself to the rear of the line and brought his weapon tight to his shoulder to await the arrival of whatever bogey this place decided to throw at them.
The small group descended the stairs three-at-a-time, pausing only long enough to check the door at the bottom before opening it. The corridor beyond was dark and silent. Cole lowered his voice to just above a whisper and urged, “Move, move, move!” and the tiny cadre stepped boldly into the darkness.
From the smooth concrete floor below, they looked up to the dizzying network of catwalks above them, many of which disappeared into the shadows. Frosty waited a moment to check for movement, then, seeing none, nervously asked Rhianna, “See anything?”
“Nope,” came the response. She could have been at a spa for all the tension her voice carried. She sounded bored.
Cole looked up but the ceiling was lost in the black. He felt minuscule in scale when assessing the area around them, because they were surrounded by three massive, three-story tanks which towered above them like cities. Johann sidled up to Cole's shoulder and whispered nervously, his eyes pointed skyward, “We're supposed to blow up those?”
“Awesome,” Johann smiled and set his bag on the floor at his feet, “this is gonna be awesome.”
“Now hold on there, soldier. Can you blow those without killing us all?”
Johann was lost in his bag, pulling out an assortment of explosive devices, when he answered over his shoulder, “I'll put everything I got into it, Sarge.”
“Yeah, that's kind of what I'm afraid of,” Cole said through gritted teeth, “don't put in too much.”