It was a long drive; the light was failing and Laurie could feel herself getting more alert as the sky darkened.
She was riding with Team Three; since the weight of an extra person made a real difference to the speed of the 2CVs and Derek refused point bank to ride with what he called, ‘Those maniac trigger happy lunatics’.
Laurie had never had much to do with Team Three before; the standing company policy was to send them on away missions that took them several days drive from the office, and then only against targets that were certain to fight back.
Having spent several hours in their company Laurie was beginning to understand where Derek had got his opinion from. Emma did seem like a good person to Laurie, and there was no doubt that she enjoyed life, but it just seemed to Laurie that Emma enjoyed her work a little too much.
Emma had spent the first hour of the drive giving Laurie a blow by blow account of the battle they had just taken part it; she seemed to be especially pleased with the fact that she had managed to shoot one man through both eyes, and she returned to the story in graphic detail too many times for Laurie to count.
Laurie could remember a man with fluid dripping out of both eye sockets; it was one of the last things she had seen before the sand cloud had died down. Laurie saw the image in her head again and felt disturbed.
She was riding in the back with the cube next to her; it was really starting to unnerve her now. She wondered what could have been so important about it that Chief would send out all three teams at once in order to bring it in.
There was something else about the cube as well; she had he weirdest sense that something was trying to force its way through, but kept being ripped apart; Laurie wondered what it must be like to be ripped into pieces, and she shuddered.
Emma was still talking about her latest gun, but Laurie tuned her out, it didn’t seem to matter if you listened or not, and she focused her attention on Beatrice.
Beatrice was the quiet one, Laurie decided; she was quite smartly dressed and didn’t seem to be listening to Emma either. Beatrice looked like a perfectly respectable business women; her clothes, hair and makeup were all perfect, despite being in battle only a short time before, she sat perfectly straight and upright; with poise and dignity, and she didn’t even smell, in spite of having spent the whole day driving through high heat.
All in all, Laurie decided, Beatrice would fit in perfectly in a CEO’s chair, only a small bulge under her left arm marred the picture. If Laurie had seen Team Three in isolation then she would have pegged Beatrice as the less lethal of the two. But that wasn’t right; the battle was still fresh in her mind and she didn’t think that she would ever forget the casual way that Beatrice had killed all those people.
Emma had been talking while Laurie had been lost in thought; and now she said something that jarred Laurie back to reality. “And the telescopic X-ray lens lets me…. Oh look; helicopters.”
Laurie jumped, “What?” she said
Emma pointed out the window, and indeed there were two helicopters bearing down on them.
Laurie started thinking about emergency plans, and dangerous escapes, but then she saw that the other two didn’t seem to care much.
“Don’t you see them?!” she said, “We have to do something.”
Emma nodded, “Yeah, don’t sweat it kid, we’ll deal with them”
Emma nodded to Beatrice; who opened the window with one hand; then, while keeping the other hand on the steering wheel took careful aim at the closest helicopter.
When she fired the gun made an utterly underwhelming sound. It made a small cracking noise and the helicopter fell out of the sky.
Except it didn’t really fall; it keeled over and started to spin. Then, just before it hit the ground, it started flicking around wildly as the pilot desperately tried anything that would make it go right again.
Laurie imagined the pilot. She imagined the horror he must of felt when he pulled on the stick and his craft didn’t respond the way it always had before. She imagined him pulling on the stick with all his strength as he went down; willing it Go up, Go up, and then looking up at the last minute to see that the ground was upon him.
“Wa-hoo” said Emma, “Look at those flames”
Laurie did look; and she felt a little sick.
The last helicopter dropped back to a safe distance and followed them all the way to the city. Laurie wasn’t worried about it; it was already clear where they were going from the road they were following, and if the pilot could follow them from that distance when they were surrounded by skyscrapers then he probably deserved the Intel he got.
Above all, Laurie just wanted to get rid of the cube. When she thought about it, it had been a bad day from start to finish; she had had barely any sleep, she had been put into a state of nervous exhaustion by the paranoia of her partner, she had been tailed by helicopters, and then shot at by same, she had witnessed death and destruction on a grand scale and she felt sure that she could blame it all on that damn cube.
Laurie looked at the passing skyscrapers and billboards without really seeing them, and she thought about her place in life. No, she decided, I got into this job to have a nice time at nights and hunt demons; killing people was not something I signed up for.
The car turned into and new street, and the office was there waiting for them.
It will be better tomorrow, she thought.