By: Laurann Dohner

He refused to slap her palm with his.

“Kill-sport,” she muttered, dropping her arm. “Reporting for duty. I know I’m an hour early but I was bored. Anything happening?”

“Typical stuff. Deliveries, reporters and some new instructor.”

“Awesome.” She grinned. “The forensics one? I can’t wait. I made a list of questions I want to ask, starting with why it takes so long to get toxicology results after an autopsy. Did you know it can take weeks?”

“I didn’t.”

“Is he here yet? I might as well pick his brain.”

“He’s due at any time.”

“Great. I’ll suit up and work the gate.” She walked a few feet away before turning, a smile on her face. “I hate wearing the helmet but I don’t want the humans falling in love with me. They couldn’t handle all this.” She winked before disappearing into one of the rooms.

The corners of his mouth lifted but he resisted laughing outright. Breeze always amused, saying outrageous things. She put everyone at ease—a rare gift. His was instilling fear in others. Those grim observations darkened his disposition as he crossed the room, watching the monitors.

“It’s a calm day for the protestors,” Bluebird announced.


The door opened again and Trey Roberts entered. The human task force team leader glanced around, finally met his stare and approached. Darkness tensed.

“I was looking for you.”

“Did the human die from his injuries?”

Trey shook his head. “Pricks like that don’t die easily. I’m here to work with the guys looking for more intel on our target. Tim wanted someone to relay the info while he’s putting together a plan of attack with the rest of the teams.”

“They are working on that over there. Make yourself at home. You know where the fridge and coffee machine are located.”

“You New Species have me addicted to caffeine.”

“Is that a complaint?”

“Hell no. Just an observation. I’ll go be useful and get out of your hair. Great job in there. Tim might not have said it but I will.”

Darkness watched the human join the two males at the computers before he spun around and went to the room where they kept their gear. He put on a bulletproof vest, grabbed a helmet and headed outside.

He climbed the ladder to the walkway near the top of the wall and peered over the edge as he lifted a weapon, his intention to look intimidating. One glance showed him two cars and a van in line, waiting to be searched before entering the first gate. He sighed. It was boring walking the wall but it was better than staring at the ceiling from his bed.

* * * * *

Katrina was excited as she drove through the first set of gates at New Species Homeland and hit the down button on her window. She already had her identification out, having shown it to the first guard. It had passed inspection, being an official license. She also had a full background cover. A second guard approached her driver’s side window.

It fascinated her that all the NSO officers were completely covered, from their combat boots to their gloved hands and tinted face shields. She studied the person intently but couldn’t see a hint of skin. The broad shoulders, tall frame and bulky arms implied it was a male but she had no way to tell if he was human or New Species. It was a brilliant tactic to prevent protestors or potential threats from distinguishing the exact identity of each guard.

“Hi. I’m Kathryn Decker but call me Kat. I’m from the crime lab in Bakersfield. I’m the consultant.”

He accepted her license and touched the communication device attached to his ear. He spoke softly enough that she couldn’t hear the words. It would be procedure to verify her identity once again and that she was expected at Homeland. She glanced at the gates that closed behind her and looked toward the second one about fifty yards in front of her. There was plenty of space separating the sides of her rental car from a guard shack and more walls.

“So you wave people through the first gates one vehicle at a time and recheck them in this area?”

He slid his glove up the side of his protective headgear but said nothing.

“Sorry. I’m just curious. I’m with the crime lab, remember?”

The guard released his earpiece and handed back her license. “You need to pull up there and leave the engine running. Our team has to go over your car and then we need to search you. A female will do that. Just step out of your vehicle and she’ll meet with you.” He pointed to marks that had been painted on the pavement.

She accepted her license and drove forward. It put her dead center in the open space. It made sense. They’d have room to go over the vehicle and it was a good blast zone if anyone drove explosives inside. She put the car in park and exited the vehicle.

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