Afghanistan -19 October 2007
Caitlyn had combed every square inch of the dusty base, looking for the last person on her list, and with twenty-one minutes left before Gaera’s deadline, she was getting desperate. Tatyana Volkova had vanished, and for a woman with flaming red hair, that was no mean feat in a place where the prominent colour was beige.
She wasn’t surprised, Tatyana had been trained in espionage and disguise after all. It was those skills and various others that had Caitlyn scrambling after a ghost, hoping to secure her before Mellor did.
She stood staring at the carpark, trying to work out where she hadn’t search yet when a fast-moving shadow caught her attention. She looked up just in time to see a flash of blond hair disappearing across the roof of the mess hall. There was only one blond on base who preferred heights to the ground and he’d know where to find Volkova.
Caitlyn jogged after him, following the shadow as it moved from building to building.
Running between the barracks, she spotted a brunet standing in a doorway, grey-blue eyes watching the rooftops, a comm piece in his ear.
She sprinted the short distance between them and clapped a hand over his mouth. “Not a word Barnes,” she hissed. “Hand it over.” She held out her hand, curling her fingers around the offered comm piece.
Removing the hand from his mouth, she added, “Where’s Denton?” One thing she’d learnt in the last forty odd hours was that where one Brooklyn boy was found, the second wasn’t far behind. The lopsided grin he flashed in her direction confirmed her hunch, and almost had her reconsidering his inclusion in her team. That grin had trouble written all over it.
“Next barrack over, and he’s wearing a comm.”
“Thanks, Sergeant” Caitlyn called, spinning on her heel and jogging in the direction she had last seen Killman’s shadow. She shoved the comm in her ear, listening to the conversation with a grin.
“Managed to lose her, Yana. On my way to you now.”
“She’s definitely not following?”
“Nah, I led her on a goose chase down to the carpark. Barnes and Denton are on the ground keeping an eye out, you’ll have warning if she shows.”
“Haven’t seen her come past me yet and this is the only way she can go.” Denton’s deep voice rumbled through the line.
Caitlyn slid to a halt at the corner of the building and watched Captain Denton pacing the small gap, his back to her as he watched Killman leap between the two buildings. With Killman’s heavy breathing coming through the comms, the tall blond didn’t hear Caitlyn walk up behind him and flip the comm from his ear.
“You’re slipping Denton” she called with a grin, jogging past him, ‘accidentally’ kicking the comm further into the sand.
Caitlyn was no longer relying on following a shadow, there was only one place Killman could be heading, and with fifteen minutes left on her deadline, she needed to be quick.
Killman started talking again as she ran. “So why are you hiding from the Major again? Don’t you want to join us?”
“Of course I do, I just wanted to see what she’s got. You do realise she’s on a time frame to organise her Strike Team.”
“And you’re planning on ruining that for her.” Barnes smooth voice sent a shiver down Aria’s spine – oh shit, she was going to be in so much trouble with Barnes on her team.
“Not really, her reputation did proceed her, I just want to see what she’ll do to get what she wants. I also know she’s not as hard arsed as Mellor.
“You do know she’s listening to this conversation right?” Caitlyn could hear a grin in Barnes’ voice as Killman and Volkova answered with
and Denton chuckled “Shit, she got you too JD ?”
“Who the Hell is JD ?” Caitlyn asked, sprinting the last few meters to the medical wing, the only building in this direction she hadn’t checked.
“That would be me” Barnes rambled down the line.
Caitlyn blinked, “How do you get JD out of Phillip Barnes?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Barnes answered with a smirk in his voice, as a petite, flaming red-haired woman stepped out of the shadows
Caitlyn folded her arms across her chest, and raised an eyebrow slightly, “So do I pass Volkova?”
There was a slight shrug. “You’ll do. You did get past Barnes, which I wasn’t expecting. How did you find me?”
“I followed the other sniper, who couldn’t pull off a Peter Pan if he tried.”
“Huh?” Killman and Denton asked.
There was a snort as Barnes said, “She followed your shadow dumb arse. Don’t you know any classics?”
Tatyana’s face broke into a wide grin. “Guess you better go tell Gaera you have your team.”
“On my way. Meeting in the mess at 1500 hours. Someone want to go find Rasmussen, Young, Kauffman and Nelson for me?”
“What, a question, not orders?” Killman asked, his head appearing over the edge of the building behind Caitlyn.
“I’m not your CO yet,” Caitlyn grinned and walked off towards the command centre, confident she’d picked the best people for her strike team if this exercise was anything to go by.