Authors: Alex Siegel
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2012
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Aaron sipped his coffee. He looked around at his kitchen and sighed.
I can't wait to move out of this dump,
For the last ten months, the Chicago cell of the Gray Spear Society had occupied a temporary headquarters while the interminable and ridiculously expensive process of building a permanent facility proceeded. The current place had been an old brick warehouse before the Society had purchased it. Some hasty refurbishments had transformed it into an old brick warehouse with amenities. All the pipes, power lines, and ducts were exposed. The original stained concrete floor was still the same. Rusty steel posts and beams supported a rusty steel roof.
The kitchen was particularly egregious. Aaron's team had the pleasure of dining on plastic picnic tables for every meal. Industrial refrigerators hummed loudly in the corner. Two microwave ovens sat side by side on a work bench. Everything had been plumbed and wired in a hurry, and nothing was nicely installed. It didn't look like a place worthy of God's elite warriors.
Aaron checked his watch.
Ten minutes is up.
He grabbed a paintball gun from the table and stood up. The gun had an extra long barrel for greater accuracy. The CO2 pressure had been turned up to make the trajectory of the balls flatter. He wanted to be sure he hit his targets.
He walked out of the kitchen and looked around. Norbert, Smythe, and Marina were hiding somewhere. It was Aaron's job to shoot them.
A solid steel door on his right led to the security booth, which contained the displays for all the surveillance cameras. Aaron didn't want the game to be too easy so he had made that room off limits.
He went left instead and stood at the doorway of the science laboratory. He found Kamal working on some kind of experiment involving red lasers, lenses, and golden mirrors. The scientist was a slender man with skin the color of coffee. He wore a blue, button up shirt with a starched collar and black slacks. His traditional black bowtie made him look like he had dressed in a previous decade.
The lab was full of complicated, shiny equipment. Aaron didn't know what the stuff was for and didn't need to know. That was Kamal's job.
Before walking into the room, Aaron looked up. All three of his
were excellent climbers, especially Marina. They would instinctively seek high dark places to hide. Aaron stared at the exposed roof supports for a long moment until he was sure nobody was up there.
Aaron padded silently through the lab, his paintball gun ready to fire. Kamal wasn't aware that his boss had entered the room. The only place to hide was the supply cabinets, but they were too small for Smythe or Norbert. Marina was flexible enough to cram her body into one. Making absolutely no noise, Aaron checked the cabinets but only found more scientific equipment.
Aaron climbed onto a table and his shoe squeaked on the smooth surface. Finally, Kamal noticed him.
"Sir!" Kamal jumped in surprise.
Aaron put his finger to his lips. "Shh."
He pulled himself up into the rafters. Holding the paintball gun made this procedure awkward, but he still managed to do it silently. He had extremely strong arms.
From up here, he could see along the entire length and width of the building. The walls didn't go all the way up to the roof. The only things that blocked his view were the many rusty supports.
He watched patiently. After a few minutes, he spotted a tiny movement across the building above the bathroom. It was nothing more than a slight change in the texture of a patch of darkness. Only a highly trained eye would've noticed. He fired his paintball gun.
The darkness yelped. "Damn, that stings!" The voice was Smythe's.
He jumped down to the floor. According to the rules of the game, he had to wait in the kitchen until the round ended.
Aaron stayed high in the rafters as he continued to search the building. He crawled east until he passed over the machine shop. This was Nancy's domain, but the room was dark now. She was off supervising the construction of the new headquarters. He didn't expect to see her again until tomorrow.
The machine shop was full of bulky equipment and offered plenty of nooks to hide in. Aaron dropped down and patiently checked every one but didn't find anybody.
He went out the door and proceeded to the next room, which was being used for storage. He silently entered the dark space. Crates and boxes filled part of the large room. The rest held tightly packed racks of clothes. All Spears missions were undercover operations, so the cell needed costumes for every possible cover story in sizes appropriate for every
Aaron was confident somebody was in this room. It offered too many tempting places to hide. Finding that somebody would be a challenge though, especially if she were Marina. She was easily capable of sneaking around behind his back while he searched for her. Her ninja skills were superb.
He poked around for a while to convince his quarry that he was searching the place. After about fifteen minutes of fruitless effort, he grunted in frustration and left.
He quickly ran back to the machine shop. He spat at the wall separating it from the storage room. His sticky yellow saliva dissolved the drywall in seconds, giving him a hole big enough to peek through. He made another hole for the barrel of his paintball gun.
He watched and waited. After a few minutes, the silhouette of a woman emerged from behind a box on a high shelf. It was Marina.
Aaron shot her in the leg.
"Ow!" she yelled. "God damn mother fucker..."
Now I just need to find Norbert,
He went back into the main corridor. The center of the warehouse was completely open along most of its length, creating a space about fifty feet wide. The team parked their personal cars there along with other vehicles used for missions.
Aaron's office occupied the center of this parking area. Wooden posts supported the single room high in the air to create a tiny second story. Windows on all sides of his office gave him views of the interior of the building rather than the outside. It had probably been built to allow supervisors to watch their workers from above. The construction was similar to an old fashioned lookout tower.
There were stairs, but Aaron climbed the outside of the tower just to be sneaky. He silently looked through one of the windows. The office was lightly furnished and he didn't spend much time there. An elegant glass desk was the only nice item. Its surface was always cluttered with paperwork no matter how hard he tried to keep it clean. A safe on the floor held the most important documents.
Norbert wasn't hiding in the office, so Aaron continued to climb. He entered the rafters again, looked around carefully, and then worked his way over to the computer room.
He looked down at the twins, Bethany and Leanna. Their slim bodies were nestled in the padded webbing of their futuristic ergonomic workstations. Curved stands held giant computer monitors which filled their field of view. The twins were completely still except for their hands. Their fingers danced on exotic keyboards that Aaron couldn't use even if somebody had a gun to his head.
Bethany and Leanna spent at least ten hours a day in front of their computers, every day. Aaron had no idea what they were doing most of the time. Bethany had once explained they were "performing quantitative experiments on nonlinear models with millions of free parameters." That statement had meant nothing to him. He knew they were also engaged in a dialog with God about an obscure project that involved a lot of advanced mathematics. Aaron didn't really care what the twins did in their free time. As long as they performed well during missions, he was happy.
Long racks packed with computer equipment ran along the walls. This one room consumed so much electricity that it required special power and cooling systems. Even with the air vents running at full blast, Aaron could feel heat rising to the ceiling. He didn't see Norbert, but Aaron hadn't expected to. Norbert would want to keep any hostilities away from the girls, even if it was just a game.
Aaron stayed in the rafters as he proceeded to the private suite where he and Marina slept. It was the largest room in headquarters but it still wasn't that nice. Wardrobes and racks held even more costumes for undercover missions. Aaron and Marina's personal weapons collection took up space on the other side. A king sized bed with a carved wooden frame was the only piece of furniture that might be worth keeping when the team finally left this place.
Aaron noticed the sheets and blankets on the bed had been straightened. It wasn't something Marina would ever do. He dropped down and landed on the concrete floor with the grace of a big cat.
From this angle Aaron could see the bed was thicker than normal. He peered underneath but didn't see anything. He lifted the sheet and discovered pieces of wood had been inserted between the mattress and the box spring. The resulting gap offered just enough space for a man to hide if he wasn't claustrophobic.
Aaron inserted the barrel of his paintball gun into the gap and pulled the trigger.
"Ouch!" Norbert yelped. "Damn it."
Aaron lifted the mattress so Norbert could climb out. He wore black tights and a clear plastic face mask. Pink paint marked a spot on his ribs.
When Norbert had joined the team ten months ago, he had been a big, strong man, but by Society standards he had been soft. As a result of intensive daily training, he now had a body suitable for a
. Huge pectoral muscles were stretched across a broad chest. His arms were so well defined the veins stood out prominently. He still had the same cheerful round face and curly brown hair though.
"How did you find me, sir?"
"You made the bed," Aaron said, "but it was a good hiding place. Very creative. Just one tiny mistake this time."
"Always be a ghost. Don't disturb your environment."
"Correct. Let's go to the kitchen."
"Wait, sir." Norbert looked at Aaron with wide open eyes. "I'm the last one? I beat Marina this time?"
Aaron smiled. "That's right."
Norbert put his hand up, and Aaron gave him a high five.
Both of them took the long walk back to the kitchen. They found Marina and Smythe sitting with dour expressions. Their protective face masks were lying on the table. Like Norbert, they wore black tights.
Aaron loved to see Marina in tights. She had a fantastic body that she always kept in peak condition. Reddish blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders. Her jade colored eyes caught the light just right. Cute freckles on her nose made her appear younger than she actually was. Even though Aaron was the commander, Marina had joined the Society seven years before him. Sometimes it felt odd when he gave her orders.
She was reading a newspaper. She was a master at controlling her reactions, and nobody else would've noticed, but Aaron could tell she was upset. He looked over her shoulder.
The article talked about a sexual predator named Barney Simpson. He had kidnapped a twelve year old girl two years ago and had held her captive for five months. The victim was presumed dead, but the body had never been found. Simpson had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison. However, the conviction had been thrown out yesterday for technical reasons. According to the article, he was now walking the streets a free man.
Marina could relate very well to the young victim. Marina's own uncle had held her captive in a basement for three months. He had subjected her to so much physical and sexual abuse that it had made her insane. Her mind had finally healed seventeen years later, but it had taken a miracle to accomplish it.
Aaron put a hand on Marina's shoulder. "Forget about it. Let the police deal with this asshole."
"But that poor girl..."
"Marina, the Society has no interest here. You know that."