artwork: ratio22.com

Jenna wiped the sweat off her brow, contemplating the ticking bomb in front of her. It was no big deal, really…if she chose the wrong wire, it only meant that she, Brian, Kate, and Jack would just be blown up, is all. Well, she thought, we technically won’t die in the real sense, but it’ll certainly scrub the mission. And their team was the last team. If they didn’t succeed, the world might not know what Memphis Health Systems was planning for December 21 until it was too late.

“Breathe easy, Angel,” said Brian, calling her by her coyote name. “We know you know how to do this.” She looked around, to nervous smiles from her whole team, and nodded at them. She wouldn’t let them down.

She bit her lip, as she deftly and surely cut the blue wire.

No explosion.

“Okay,” said Brian, as Jenna exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. “Now, Gospel,” he said, with a nod to Jack, “get the data out of that node. Then we can blow this precinct, and the local steppers will never even know we’ve been here.” He paused and then grinned. “But just in case, Angel, Halo, and I will cover the entry-paths.”

Jenna nodded, pulling out her gun and stepping to one of the three entries, as Brian and Kate did the same. It’s not really a gun, she mused, but this place’s representation of one. She’d loaded a really nice program into her cache when they’d flynned in, and she wouldn’t mind giving it a go. As she heard Jack’s fingers tapping out demands, extracting data, she peered off into the darkness. Any steppers that showed their weird faces were gonna regret it.

She grinned in the darkness. Her group, the Holy Rollers, had earned quite a rep amongst the other coyotes. They’d solved all the puzzles, found their way to their contacts, and begun making runs a month ago. They’d learned some terrible things in that time…conspiracies tying a local health company to some weird and almost sinister activity. Even now, they were trying to figure out why so many MHS employees were scheduled out of town the week of December 21. Something big was happening, and…

artwork: ratio22.com

Jack’s voice sounded too loud in the quiet. “Grail,” he called to Brian, “you gotta see this.” As the team leader looked over the notes Jack had extracted, Jenna thought she saw something move in the shadows beyond the doorway she was guarded. She hesitated…should she say something to Grail? She tried to see any more movement, but there was nothing. She glanced to Kate, who was trying to cover the other two doorways, but who seemed calm. Halo always seemed calm, Jenna thought to herself.

“My God,” Brian whispered. “We knew they were up to something, but…” He coughed, an uncomfortable, shuddering sound. “Listen, everyone. You gotta hear why Memphis has been snooping around the reservoirs. This is really big…they’re gonna…”

“Grail,” gasped Kate, taking a step back and already firing into one of the hallways, “We’ve got company.”

As the team grouped up and Jack frantically tried to load the info into convenient to transport files, Jenna began firing at the steppers that were emerging from the gloom. Well, she thought, with a grim smile, at least I’m not bored this weekend…