A familiar sound beeped into the ears of the BLOODHOUND unit. Finally the long silent plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean was coming to an end. It had been a few hours since they boarded the MC-130E Combat Talon back on American soil at an undisclosed military base. Each member of the unit had been called in for this mission as it required a special kind of touch. Right now each one sat with their own particular posture, the speed at which they travelled causing the dull vibration that rumbled their seats. Even if they did want to be seen by the others they were right here and now. Most of them had oxygen masks similar to those of jet pilot’s on their faces. Only Phoenix looked different, though the proper adjustments had been made for his unique condition as well. For the past 25 minutes pure 100% oxygen was being pumped into their lungs, effectively flushing all nitrogen from their bodies. "Listen up BLOODHOUND. Your unit is being sent into Kaysersberg, an isolated French village located near the Franco-German border." The voice entering their ears was deep and authoritative. Exactly the kind required to give such a potentially dangerous group their orders. For the past twelve years he had seen members come and go, by dismissal or by death. Not many who had been a part of the unit were designated R.E.D. since that distinguished terminology went to those who existed. "In the last six hours there has been no contact with the entire village. Satellite photos indicate that the streets have had zero activity. Excerpts from a local physician's email to a colleague days earlier listed symptoms that are a common byproduct of nanotoxins in the human bloodstream. We believe it may be nanotech plans that have been stolen and put into action by an unidentified terrorist group. The French believe this is a terrorist attack but are covering it up until they can find out what’s going on themselves. Apparently they’re trying to avoid the embarrassment of their great military appearing vulnerable in the face of rapidly approaching peace." A soft murmur of a laugh escaped his lips before continuing. "The French government is sending in their own military unit to investigate the village tonight. Due to the recent development of this incident you will be arriving after them. But their abilities are not as unique as BLOODHOUND's. You should have no trouble avoiding them. Still, the US government would be in hot water should you be identified by them. A lot of pending treaties are at stake if you are discovered on this mission.” One comment was set aside especially for a certain silver-haired sicko. “Zero contact. This is no game. Those are your orders." Seconds later he returned to outlining the mission parameters. After all they were rapidly approaching the insertion point. Drop would happen in less than ten minutes. Hopefully Mountain had been keeping track of his medications just right. Miscalculations could pose serious medical complications to him and everyone else in the unit given the harsh conditions each one was about to endure. “If engagement is unavoidable, use of lethal force is authorized. But try not to kill any innocent civilians. Use tranquilizer rounds if possible.” One could almost hear the sound of a cup of coffee being sipped from inbetween the sentences now. From all the talking he had done out of the blue it was no wonder. Now would not be a good time to have a sudden adolescent crack in the old vocal cords. "This mission is codenamed Operation Balthazar. You'll have two mission objectives. The first is to investigate the village and determine if stolen nanotechnology is involved. The second, if nanotech is involved, is to learn anything you can about it’s capabilities and those responsible." A moment passed before he decided to cut off anyone curious enough to question him. “Don’t bother asking about the nanotech. I know just as much as you do at this point other than it’s another stolen black budget project. That’s why the government needs BLOODHOUND to deal with it.” Now the time had come clarify exactly how these specialists would be landing since the plane certainly was not. "We’re deploying the entire unit by HALO drop about two miles east of the village into the woodlands. From there on you'll have to infiltrate the village on foot." Arrival at the village was tricky enough business. Planning had used positioning information to determine when the limited number of French satellites would leave a window of operation for the plane to pass over French airspace undetected. Thankfully their altitude eliminated any fear of radar detection. One fear from the past that always came up was whether or not the pressure would take a toll on Phoenix’s ballistic suit. Tests conducted had proven it could handle these extreme altitudes. . . but there was always room for human error. "This is a top secret black-op. Don't expect any official support. Rely on each other instead. Work as a unit." A brief pause came before he spoke again. “Operation Balthazar, now commencing.” The large hanger door at the rear of the MC-130E Combat Talon opened to reveal the incredibly distant French landscape below. From the altitude of 35,000 feet most would be hard pressed to see the fine details of the foreign topography. It was dark out as well, unlike the sunny picture from the briefing as night had fallen on the village. Moonlight had barely any clouds to scatter the lunar rays coming down from the starry night sky. For BLOODHOUND the full moon acted as a midnight sun. One by one they jumped out with less than 30 seconds between each member to minimize dispersion across the wilderness.