Island Research Facility,
“Rise and shine, sleepy head,” Michael teased, standing in the threshold of Brent’s dorm-sized room.
“Fuck, what time is it?” Brent said, turning and looking at the clock. 5:15 a.m. His head was pounding. He’d been up too late, and drank a few too many beers in the dining hall when he got back from Jane’s. Today was supposed to be his day off.
“Early, but the guys are getting ready early and a spot’s opened up.”
“Huh? A spot for what?”
“We’re going into the city on an extraction run. Sanchez is sick and I vouched for you.”
“I don’t know all the details, but they sent a team in last week to followup on leads. Supposedly there was an infected sighting.”
“I thought you all shot the infected on sight.”
“Change in protocol, or so say the scientists. They want us to catch some live ones for observation. Only problem is, we haven’t seen too many, not in a while. Most everything we’ve spotted was either a full-on alien or an infected who was already dead. At any rate, a couple of our guys managed to trap one of the infected in an apartment building and need us to extract them.”
“So, we’re gonna fly back with one of those things?”
“We’re bringing a second chopper with a cage, so we won’t be. The good news is you get to meet Ed.”
“Who’s Ed?” Brent asked.
“Commander Edward Keenan, one of the best we’ve got. He came on a bit after I got here, but shit if he ain’t the toughest son of a bitch I’ve seen. Dude is ALL business, and unlike some of the other captains I’ve seen in my years, actually gets out in the field and gets his hands dirty.”
“Sounds like fun,” Brent said as he sat up, his head still adjusting to the light that Michael turned on.
“He’s not a ball-buster or anything. Barely talks at all, in fact. But hell if you can’t learn something just by being next to the guy.”
“What time we leaving?” Brent asked, not wanting to let Michael down.
“Oh six hundred sharp. So grab a shower and get dressed and ready.”
“Yeah,” Brent said, as he stumbled off to the shower, hoping he’d make it through the day on little sleep.
They flew a Blackhawk, with four Guardsmen and two pilots, into the city. A second chopper, another Blackhawk with the cage, followed with six more Guardsmen, including pilots.
Captain Keenan was in charge of the mission, though he’d yet to say a word to the men, preferring stolid silence the entire flight. Keenan looked around 40 with a nearly shaved head and beard stubble. He appeared tough and fit, but world-weary and just as likely to take a long nap as he was to jump into a firefight.
“We’re here,” one of the two pilots called as they encircled an apartment building that was all too familiar to Brent – the building across the street from his old apartment; the one where he’d met the 215ers. Last time he’d seen the building, it was crawling with aliens.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as a chill ran down his spine. To be so close to home, to be able to see his apartment, right across the street, gave him the surreal sensation of stepping back in time. That if he could simply step through time and space, he could somehow find his way back to his family.
Keenan stood and opened the door, then leaned out of the chopper, looking at the rooftop. “Okay, I’ve got a visual on Alpha Team. Set her down.”
“Yes, sir,” one of the pilots said as the chopper lifted, then straightened before slowly lowering.
On the rooftop, Keenan barked orders over the chopper’s rotors.
“I want two of you, Schultz and Cooper, to stay behind. It’s your job to protect the pilots and the chopper. You see something alien, shoot it before it touches the chopper. For those of you who haven’t faced these things, remember your video training. Their movement is deceptively fast and unpredictable. Wait until you have
Harriet Harvey Harriet; Wood Harvey Wood