By: Laurann Dohner

A second guard stepped outside the shack and approached. Kat surveyed the person from head to foot—exact outfit, no unique marks, generic identity. The figure was tall and fit but there was noticeably less shoulder and arm mass. The woman’s breasts were hidden under the thick Kevlar vest. She wouldn’t have guessed her sex if she hadn’t been told to expect a female.

Kat’s heart rate increased with excitement at the prospect of having interaction with one of the New Species women. They were elusive and not much was known about them. No photographs had ever surfaced and no one knew what they looked like. She grinned. “Hi.”

The figure paused a few feet from her. “Why are you so happy?” The voice was a little gruff but definitely that of a woman.

“I’m just happy to be here. I’m really looking forward to getting to know New Species. I’m Kat Decker from the crime lab in Bakersfield.”

“I’m aware of who you are. We’re looking forward to your classes.” Her tone softened. “I love crime shows.”

“It’s not exactly the same as you see on television. Those shows have a lot of high-tech equipment that we don’t really use.”


“The classes will be fun though. I spent two days reviewing things to teach.” Kat didn’t want to disappoint the NSO. She might be there under false pretenses but she’d decided to make the most of it. Robert Mason could kiss her ass if he thought she was going to follow his exact orders. She’d view it as a vacation of sorts, one where she got to interact with New Species and share some of her knowledge on how to combat the latest criminal trends.

“We don’t frighten you?”

“Only if you plan on kicking my ass because you all appear to be in really good shape.”

The tall woman laughed. “I’m Rusty.”

“Is it bad manners to offer to shake hands?”

Rusty offered a gloved hand. “Nope.”

Kat shook it. “NSO stands for New Species Organization, right?”

Rusty nodded. “When in uniform it also stands for New Species Officer. Take your pick. We’re good at adapting.”

“Very cool.”

“I need to search you. Would you mind turning around and assuming the position?”

Kat spun and spread her legs. She reached into her front pocket and removed her cigarettes and lighter. She set them on the roof of her car in clear view. It was a reminder of why she had come to Homeland and how torn she felt about it. Smoking was a bad habit she fell back on every time there was a lot of stress in her life. She spread her arms wide and gripped the top of the car. The pat-down was thorough and Rusty even checked her cigarette pack and lighter, handing them back when she was done.

“I need to check your purse now.”

Kat reached inside her car to retrieve it. Rusty placed the handbag on the hood of the car and carefully searched inside as Kat watched.

“Here you go,” Rusty said as she tried to return it.

Kat refused to take it, instead asking, “May I make a suggestion?”

Rusty nodded. “All right.”

Kat accepted the purse and placed it back on the hood. She motioned Rusty closer. “You don’t want to just examine the contents. You need to search the purse as well. I’m here to teach your officers the latest tricks criminals use and this is one of them. I put a few things inside my purse to see if you would find them. You missed them. Watch.”

Kat dumped out the contents and then handed the purse back to Rusty. “Squeeze the purse. Feel every inch.”

Rusty did so and tensed. Kat stepped back. “Both sides of the lining have two fake knives that are plastic. They aren’t sharp but they could have been. Running a metal detector over the purse wouldn’t have worked to find them. I also put a tube of water along the bottom of the purse that you probably mistook for cushioning. It could have contained poison, a biological weapon or a gel explosive that could be ignited with the lighter you handed back to me. You have to feel every inch of something you search and investigate every bump or inconsistency. Never allow any substance through security, even if you believe it’s just simple water. Your best option is to secure purses and bags in a separate location when you have day visitors. Take their possessions away from them when they enter and return them when they leave.”

Rusty discovered the hidden linings and removed the objects. She sighed. “I see.”

Kat nodded. “I could have killed someone if I’d been a bad guy.”

Screams suddenly erupted from the direction of the front gate. Kat turned in time to spot a van with tinted windows tearing through the shrubs next to the line of cars waiting to enter Homeland. It nearly plowed into a few protestors before it scraped against those vehicles. The grill had been modified into a battering ram. She caught a glimpse of what appeared to be two packages taped to it. Those packages exploded on impact with the gates. The hinges of the gate gave way and it came crashing forward onto the pavement.

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