The next morning, the Chinese jumped out to an early lead, winning the first three events. They were well on their way to winning the overall trophy. Watching them conquer an event called Method of Entry — breaking down three doors, scaling the side of a building, shooting a series of steel targets and sprinting back to the start — was simultaneously impressive and terrifying. Team America, who spent the previous night in their barracks drinking contraband rum, had trouble getting inside: they wasted five minutes trying to open the door the wrong way and finished near the middle of the pack.
That night, everyone loaded onto buses for a team mixer at the Intercontinental Hotel. “I hope they have karaoke,” Carey said. He turned to A. in the seat behind him. “How do you say ‘Call Me Maybe’ in Arabic?”
“Ismeh robbama?” A. said. It meant, literally, “My name is Maybe.”
When they arrived, the reception was in full swing. The Malaysians were on the patio, drinking juice. The Russians were at the bar, definitely not drinking juice. There was tuna carpaccio and crudités and little ceramic bowls of gourmet potato chips. Outside, Sgt. Shkendije Demiri and Capt. Brittney Ray stood chatting in their uniforms. Demiri and Ray, both in the U.S. Army, are the first two women in the history of the competition. The Arab teams, in particular, seemed to love them. “They all want to take photos with us,” Ray said. “It’s like seeing a unicorn.”