By: Laurann Dohner

“Of course.” Rusty sounded stressed as her voice broke.

He pushed her toward Rusty. “Calm. Take a deep breath.”

Kat admitted she followed his advice too, though she knew it wasn’t meant for her.

“Do you think any of ours died?” Rusty sounded close to tears.

“I don’t think so. I need to check. Move. Take her now and watch her closely. No one is to go near her until I get there. I’ll interview her.”

Rusty gripped her handcuffs and tugged. Kat followed her around the damaged building, taking in every detail. Officers had rushed to the scene and she spotted movement through an intact window when they rounded the side. One man was lifting a section of roof off the floor.

Kat had no words as she was escorted to the back of the long building. Its much smaller appearance from the front had been deceiving. More officers rushed out in full gear. They didn’t take time to stop or question who she was as Rusty just pushed her against the wall to get out of their way.

“Come on,” Rusty whispered.

Kat didn’t argue. She needed to think up a good lie to explain what she’d just done. “I’m sorry about taking your gun.”

Rusty growled. “Silence. You heard Darkness. No talking until he comes. He’ll be the one to interrogate you.”

That didn’t sound good at all. She was led down a hallway at the very back corner of the building and the door was shoved open. Kat glanced around the room—maybe fifteen feet by twenty-five feet. There were no two-way mirrors. A chair was bolted to the floor near a drain. There was a hook at the top of the wall behind it on one side and a long table with two chairs on the other. The walls and ceiling had been painted to match the dull-gray concrete floor.

The first tinges of fear shot up Kat’s spine. It wasn’t like any interrogation room she’d ever visited in a police station. It reminded her more of one she’d recently seen in a movie. The guards had nearly beaten the prisoner to death. Blood had soaked the walls and floor of that room, the drain on the floor there for easy cleanup. She really hoped the NSO hadn’t seen a similar film and taken notes.

Rusty fished out a key and removed the cuffs. “Remove everything but your undergarments.”

Kat winced at the thought of a cavity search but she didn’t resist. The room was chilly as she stripped and placed her clothing in a folded stack on the table, her shoes next to it. She faced Rusty, wondering if it was policy to keep the face shield and helmet on.

“Hands in front again.”

Kat meekly offered her wrists, accepting the click of metal without a word.

“You don’t appear injured. Do you need a medic?”

She was far from okay but nothing hurt physically except a little throbbing in her back. It didn’t seem important, though, or serious. Her emotions were a mess but a medic couldn’t help with that. “I’m okay.”

“Have a seat.”

She sat. Rusty picked up her clothing and shoes. “Don’t get up. Stay put. Darkness will be here soon.”

“May I have some water, please?”

“I’ll forward your request to Darkness.”

Rusty was gone in the next instant, the click of metal a certainty that she’d locked the door. Kat glanced around the room grimly. At least there was no cavity search. That was the only good news for Kat.

Chapter Two

Darkness stripped out of his uniform and put on a tank top and sweat pants with NSO imprinted in white on the black material. It wasn’t the ideal outfit for an interrogation but the lockers had been damaged in the blast. His discarded uniform lay in a heap on the floor, covered in dust and drywall powder. The makeshift changing room was filled with other Species.

Bluebird rushed in with another armload of clothing. “Here you go. This is all Supply had on hand. It is too hot for sweatshirts.”

“Everyone is okay.” Flame entered the room. “The last one of our officers is accounted for. There are only minor injuries.”

Darkness bit back a snarl. “What of the humans?”

Flame held his gaze. “Four died but one is barely alive. He’s been airlifted to a trauma unit in the out world. He suffered severe burns and internal injuries. Our medical staff doesn’t believe he’ll survive.”

No sympathy for their deaths bothered Darkness. “Too bad. I wanted to question them.”

Snow stomped in, removing his uniform. “We barricaded the front gates. Homeland is officially closed. Justice is handling the media while Fury is waiting for the task force to assemble to begin the investigation. Trey was already here so he’s spoken to Tim.” He sneezed. “I don’t think I’ll ever get the smell out of my nose. I inhaled a lot of that shit.”

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