Sprinting toward an entrenched position has never, in the history of warfare, carried with it a high chance of success. From Flander’s Fields in WWI to the Tet Offensive fifty years later, trying to charge a dug-in enemy usually results in a very succinct and wasteful loss of life. With the thought of how foolish our plan was ringing in our heads, we broke from the cover of the illuminated palatial manor and ran headlong toward the high wall that separated it from the jungle – and us from safety.

I don’t know about Gaz but I for one didn’t expect to make it more than a few steps out the side door before being mercilessly gunned down by trigger-happy cartel goon. We had managed to sow discontent in at least the front lines of our opposition, but had no doubt El Seño had brought the whole of his available forces to bear, some much less squeamish about bodies than others.

The thing with running a large-scale drug operation, much like any clandestine endeavor – including missions to which specialists like us were invited – is that it takes more than the most dedicated and hard-boiled professionals to get the job done. We’re specialists within a very narrow field, and there are a lot of moving pieces that make sure we have what we need to make the greatest impact. Sure he may have his personal coterie of torturers, drug lords, and hit men, but El Seño also had to rely on ranks and ranks of undisciplined outsiders, people for whom violence was an opportunity, not a way of life. We’d never be able to shock or surprise the most depraved members of his inner circle, but we had the ranks of foot-soldiers and hired help to deal with first.

Command had given us the green light to use any and all methods at our disposal to capture the big man, with the explicit understanding that our betters supported even the most heinous actions, so long as they furthered the mission. If we made it back to the jungle, the cartel would truly feel what guerrilla warfare was like.

I’ve done terrible, immoral things in the name of service to my country, don’t get me wrong, and Gaz has been in the suck long enough to have a rap sheet as long if not even more extensive than mine, but we weren’t thinking about the future of our two-agent crusade against the drug kingpins that had taken over – every ounce of our energy and will was bent to making it over the wall. It had taken both of us to scale the enclosure on our journey in, and that was without scores of drug-fueled and incentivized soldiers pointing rifles at us.

Slamming my back against the wall, with no time to slow down the all-our sprint, I interlaced my fingers and muscled Gaz up the rough surface. Quads and shins on fire, breaths coming in ragged, gasping coughs, the cold stone at my back meant we were close – we were almost safe. Laying down atop the wall, she reached an arm out for me, a contact point from which to leverage myself into the darkness beyond.

Crouched and still, hoping the large floodlights which illuminated the courtyard would hide us from prying eyes, we retired to acclimate to the darkness beyond, scouring the terrain for any sign of hostile movement. We had left our longarms inside the house, ammunition running scarce and not wanting to shoulder the extra weight during our escape, and so pistols were drawn in unison, sweeping the dark flora before us.

Two quick shots blended into the chaotic din coming from the other sides of the compound, as Gaz saw the first cartel goon and took him out. Now, I feel it’s necessary to point out that henchmen never die in real life like they do in the movies – they don’t drop without a sound, silently becoming part of the background. In real life death is a messy, loud, and drawn-out affair. Well, messy and drawn-out in this case – she had caught him just below the chin with the first shot and in the forearm with the second. Unable to scream or pull his trigger, he went down aspirating his own blood, thrashing on the jungle floor.

Gaz raised her weapon to shoot him again. “That guy’s dead,” I signaled, not wanting to give away our position further. Like I’ve said, efficiency is our focus; we let the suits back at headquarters worry about morality and ethics.

Knowing we didn’t have time to catch our breath or radio command with our progress, we made a break for the thick jungle, hoping to find the rugged ATV we stashed on the way in.

We hadn’t gotten El Seño at the mansion, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before we stood face-to-face. Trying to keep a low profile, we fled the almost immaculately-planned killbox.