Author’s Note: This story, though not complete, has a slight plot arc… and in a way, it stands on its own. At some point, I may add on, or not. We’ll see. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy this little snippet. And feel free to think of where the story might go next. I rightly don’t know for certain. Have fun.
“Abort mission.” The voice whispers through our headsets. “Stanton slipped.” I swallow. That meant he had to blow. Mission control pushed the button. We need to get out of here.
“Okay.” My voice steps in, cutting through mission control’s orders. “We’re leaving. I’ll take Barto and Jarv down the surge tunnels. Del, get yourself out by the air jumps. We’ll meet up at the flight center.” My teammates nod, and Delta confirms over the radio. Barto and Jarv adjust everything on their bodies, setting rifles in place to run, and loosening pistols letting them get comfortable. But not too comfortable.
Barto sets himself by the doorway, watching outside.
Mission control is speaking again. “Alpha, follow my orders. You are not to take the surge tunnels, make a spearhead and hit the air jumps. It’s more direct, but you’ll have to fight your way out.” Ha! The words hit a barrier I’ve put over my mind. I know where we are, I’m the one here, I make the calls.
“Nope, we’re slipping out.”
“Alpha, your team is now a diversion. In three minutes we’re opening the encryption to your radios. Start moving, hit while you can. Team two will take over and finish the mission.”
“Denied.” My hand flicks up and jerks the wires from my chest rig. Okay then. Jarv watches me, his hand hovers over the wires. I nod, and he rips them out. Barto turns from the doorway. His eyes flicker from the radio sets to us.
“You can’t step off the grid.” His hand slips down to his pistol. His eyes set and his head tilts forward, testing me. “Not without permission from Control.”
I lock my one eye with two of his but my mouth speaks into the silent-comm on my wrist. “Del. Turn off your comms, all of them. Then hit the air jumps like a hammer. Do it fast, get to the flight center, and take off. Distract. Get out alive.”
A click resounds, one all of us hear. Delta is off the grid. Now, before we’re terminated…
The extra weight of my battery pack slides off my vest as I unhook the harness. Jarv is one step ahead of me, throwing his batteries into an empty little room in the small house. It lands with a thud felt all the way under our feet. Rickety floor. Mine follows suit as I turn back to the front door.
“Barto, it’s time, make your choice.” The words leave my mouth, staring at Barto, waiting for his reaction. “You can be loyal, but it’ll take you to the grave.”
Barto nods. He bows his head and rips the wires of his headset out. He pulls the comms set from his vest and drops the battery pack.
Sorry. Actually, not at all. I spin and draw my pistol. It fires and the bullet whispers away, striking Barto’s head with no reluctance. He drops. No sound but a thud.
I turn to Jarv. He nods. He knew that was coming the moment the Barto contradicted.
“You ready Alpha?” He asks, ready. Loyal Jarvis, gets things done. I like him.
My head nods and my pistol settles into its holster. I pull a strap, snugging the rifle tighter against my back. “Let’s go.”
My boots thud to the front door that leads out into a sullen alley. Dark clouds rest overhead and the humidity wets everything. The recent rain made the asphalt slick, and water drips down from gutters. It trickles down little alcoves along the streets and echos down beneath, in miniature waterfalls. Down into the surge tunnels.
Jarv follows me down the soggy, paint stripped steps, onto the wet asphalt. We walk to the nearest manhole and pull up the lid. My arm feels its weight easing the heavy metal onto the street. It doesn’t do to mark our way. Taking one final glance in either direction, I slip down into the wet darkness on a ladder that would have rusted had a faint electrical pulse not kept the red dust away. Static electricity pulses all around, as water runs down the walls.
Jarv slips down after, pulling the cover closed above us. Now, in complete darkness, we see the faint blue flickers that whisper down the tunnel walls. It comes from the ankle-deep water we walk through, as it runs downhill, powering the entire city.
A boom rocks the small world of the little house above us as three battery packs explode. Just like happened to Stanton. But this time no one is wearing them. I almost chuckle.
“Hey, boss.” Jarv’s voice echoes through the darkness. “We’re not running, are we? This isn’t a mission abort, this is where it all begins.”
My dead eye blinks beneath the black eyepatch. Smart fellow.
“Jarv, when you’ve been at this as long as I have, death means nothing. It’s just something that happens. But not yet, not for me. And while I still have life left, I’m not gonna waste it.” My voice turns gruff. And Jarv understands.
“Did they really send someone to finish the job?” It’s a question, but not really.
I smile and nod. But I let Jarv finish.
“We’re defective–and have been since Stanton slipped. And mission control just sent a team to hunt down the defectors.”
“But we gonna give ‘em something to think about.”
“We gonna hunt them down in return?”
“Oh no.” Again, I chuckle. “We’re gonna complete the mission, Jarv. Right under their noses. They sent the best team to do this mission. Let’s see them try to stop that best team, eh?”
Jarv sets his jaw. He’s nervous, but excitement radiates from him as he shifts the rifle on his back, bouncing it down in place. He inhales and looks me right in the eye. “You’re the Alpha wolf, right?” He nods. “Well, I got the Alpha’s back.” His dark skin glistens with sweat. Loyal sweat.