Sarah leaned forward as our squad commander debriefed us. She was completely focused on every word that came from his mouth.
“This is not supposed to be a fight,” he said, pacing the floor. “This is merely a retrieval. However, y’all are to keep your tazers on you. Y’all know what them muteys are like.” He glared at us darkly.
The thrill of fear that visited me before each mission ran up my spine. I glanced at Sarah, who was sitting beside me, out of the corner of my eye, knowing that she would look invigorated.
To my surprise, she had a peculiar look on her face. It almost looked like she was hesitant about the mission, but how could this one be any different from the rest? We’d done this so many times, it was routine.
“Time to go,” our commanding officer said, heading to the door. We watched him go for several moments, but the instant the door latched our squad snapped into action. Everyone except Sarah, that is.
“You alright?” I asked her, concerned.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m fine. You don’t happen to have any paper, do you?”
“I think I do,” I said, leaning over and pulling my duffel bag closer. Quickly I retrieved my notepad from it and offered it to her.
“You need a pen, too?”
“Squadron six, please meet at the front garage in five minutes,” a dispatcher squealed through the sound system. “Squadron six, front garage in five.”
“That’s us,” I said, pulling my uniform out of my duffel. “You coming?”
“Go on ahead,” she said, forcing a smile as she glanced up from her writing. “I’ll catch up.”
“Okay,” I said, tugging it on over top of my shorts and tank top. My fingers slid over my dog tags as I left the room.
I wonder what she’s writing, I thought as I made my way to the armory to pick up my tazer.
Our five minutes were nearly up when Sarah came rushing in, buttoning her jacket quickly. Her jet black hair was slipping free from the ponytail she normally wore it in, and disheveled was the word that came to mind.
“Cutting it close, Castello,” our officer snapped at her as she jammed her hat on.
“Sorry, sir,” she said, coming to attention.
“Don’t let it happen again,” he said, turning and walking away. With a sigh she relaxed, smoothing her uniform out.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked. She never was late for anything, and she was always the neatest in her uniform.
“I’m fine,” she said. “Let’s go.”
The ride to was quiet on the way, and it wasn’t until the van was parked that the squad was broken down.
“Castello, Jenkins, you’re with me,” the officer snapped. “We’ll go in on retrieval. Miller, Johnston and Jones, you’ll just sit tight and wait as backup. We clear?”
“Yes, sir,” we chorused back. Sarah smiled weakly at me as she shoved my notebook into my hand. I blinked, certain that I’d misread her emotions.
“Thanks for letting me use it,” she said, crawling out of the van. The smile was replaced with a hardened look, and her eyes glinted with anticipation.
“No problem,” I said, watching as she got into formation. That trio made their way up the steps of the building and disappeared to within.
We had been sitting in the van for probably two minutes when a shriek came from within the building, followed by four rapid shots. My heart jumped into my chest, and I leaned forward.
“That was Sarah,” I whispered.
“Remember your orders, Miller,” Mike Johnston told me.
“That had to be Sarah,” I said. Without being aware of what I was doing I slid out of my seat and crawled out of the van.
“Miller!” Mike called, shocked that I was actually disobeying a command.
“Jones, see if you can connect with anyone from their group,” I ordered. My legs moved without conscious effort, and before I knew it, I was in the building. I could hear Mike yelling at me from the van, but I had a mission of my own. I had to find Sarah.
“Miller, I got hold of Jenkins,” Jones voice buzzed through the headset as I began looking into the rooms on the ground floor. His voice came through as I pushed open the last door, stopping dead at what I saw. “The target got away. Castello’s lost a lot of blood. They say she was shot. Reinforcements and EMTs are on their way now.”