The truck swung around the corner, heading forward at full throttle. Inside of it were two army officers, and four police officers. The three cats and dog that sat in the back of the truck were out of uniform – They weren't part of the crew going to put out the fire at the high school, and sweep the immediate area. They were on a very different mission.
Search and Destroy.
They had received their orders from the President himself – to try and find the terrorists locally, and destroy them at all costs. They were to interrogate everyone in the town until they found who the hell was responsible for the explosive attack, and had executed them in a spectacular and covert way. After all, assassins were not officially approved of in the United States.
And assassins were what these men were.
"We're almost at the safe house," General MacMillan muttered, glancing intermittingly between a GPS in his dashboard, and the road ahead of him. "Another five minutes or so, and we'll be there."
"Damn straight," muttered one of the cops, and MacMillan's partner gave the man a stern glance. Ahead of them was a huge warehouse, boarded up at the front. The small lot at the back, however, was still open, and the General backed the van into it.
"All right," he called as he threw open his door and jumped out. "You men stay in there while we check this place out. Lieutenant, come with me."
His fellow army man nodded, and got out of the passengers seat. His gun rose from where it hung at his side by a strap up in to a ready position, and with a pause, he readied himself to follow General MacMillan in to the darkness of the abandoned warehouse.
"We don't have all day, Lieutenant Minuk."
"Er, right, right, sorry. I'll be right there," The Lieutenant stammered as he made his way after the General in to the dark warehouse. The sudden extinguishing of all light sent a tremor down his spine, and almost involuntarily he shuddered. The gun he held steady could be detected to shake slightly as he walked a couple of feet behind the General.
"Now," MacMillan mused, "where the devil is the light switch?"
Following a few minutes of searching, Minuk found it, and with a call to the General, he flicked it on. With a series of bumps and groans, the light panels far above their heads came on section by section. Soon, the whole decayed warehouse was flooded with light, making it equally lit to the sunny outside.
"Right, Lieutenant, you start making this place liveable," growled MacMillan, stomping towards the door. "I'll go get the cop boys out of the van. Make sure you don't bring any shelves down on yourself."
The General strolled out, and pulled the back of the van open, to reveal the four policemen lounging inside, looking incredibly bored and eating from the bag of donuts they'd brought with them.
"Right, you fruitcakes, get up, get inside that warehouse, and make it liveable. When you're done, meet me back here. I'll be in the van, plotting what we know. Well, what're you waiting for? Move!"
The policemen scrambled to their feet, made clumsy salutes – not being trained men, they'd not had the hours of discipline of an army man – and rushed out of the van in order to prepare the base. MacMillan watched them go, and then sighed to himself, partially of frustration, and partially of nostalgia.
"Now, damn it, what have we got?"
The General pulled out a small cabinet, and placed it on the hard gravel ground. He crouched down next to it, and pulled open the top drawer. Pulling a green folder out of it, he leaned against the back of the van, and began to read.
"Geez, this is heavy."
One of the policemen dropped his end of a four-poster bed on to the ground, and scowled darkly. They'd found four of the beds in a storage room for some strange reason and were now lugging them out. The intricate wooden carvings on them seemed to almost scream "ancient", but they were treating them like they were made of steel.
One of the policemen slumped on the bed frame, drenched in sweat. Glancing towards the door, he muttered, "I wonder why the General ain't in here with us, huh?"
Lieutenant Minuk glowered at him, and said, "General MacMillan is one of the best detectives in the country. He needs to be focusing on the case, not on moving beds. Don't be so damn selfish. Now get up and help us!"
The policeman stared at Minuk for a minute in shock, and then grunted, and got up to help. The heavy work continued for approximately another half hour before all four beds were out, as well as a cot and a couch.
"How… convenient," Minuk muttered, surveying the work with a critical eye. "Alright, men, meet General MacMillan outside. He'll talk to you about what we're going to do. Understand?"
The policemen filed out, and Minuk allowed himself a small grin.
This is going to be interesting…
Mike stumbled over his doorstep, wide eyed and panicked. He made his way in to the living room, and collapsed on the sofa, totally out of breath. About a minute later, Lucy followed him in, being substantially slower than the athletic cat.
"Wh… why did you leave… me behind, jerkface?" panted Lucy, glaring at Mike. "Don't run so… so fast next time."
"Sorry," growled Mike, his breath already coming back, and with it some degree of sarcasm. "Next time I see my school blow up, I'll make sure to slow down for you! It's not my fault you're so slow!"
"Yeah, but… but it is your fault that I… I couldn't keep pace with you," the white cat panted, hissing softly at Mike.
"Hah, please," Mike snorted, getting up. The look on his face was one mixed with confusion and anger. "You're totally under-reacting here, Lucy. Why is it that all you care about is the fact that I didn't slow down for you. There's been some kind of attack, and all you care about is my speed. Our school just blew up, and all you care about is being at my pace!"
Mike stomped closer to Lucy, and yelled, "People have died, and all you care about is yourself!"
Lucy had jumped back at the first yell, and at the final one, her eyes brimmed with water. Her eyebrows shot down, and in a voice filled with sadness, she said, "I'm sorry for wanting to be with you when people I'm friends with may have died. I'm sorry for coming to you when I need comfort. I guess you're not the right person to come to with my problems."
Lucy turned, and with the tears breaking their restraints, she started to storm out of the room.
Lucy turned, and saw that Mike's face had gone blank, as if he were internally struggling over what to do. A pained look crossed his face, and in a sort of strangled half-whisper, he said, "…Lucy, please don't leave…"
"Why?" Lucy yelled at him, and Mike flinched, his sensitive hearing combined with his already fragile state causing a cacophony in his head. The Korat seemed to struggle for words, and then finally, as if it were causing him a great amount of pain to say, he whispered, "I… need you here. I can't handle this by myself."
Lucy stared at him for a moment, and then whispered, "…Alright." She then walked quietly over to the sofa, and dropped down on it lightly, staring at the television set that lay in front of it.
"So," she said, still staring at the blank screen. "What are we going to do?"
Paulo was lying across his couch, eating out of a tube of Pringles, and watching one of those lame 5:00 reality shows that no one really cares about. He was just about to reach his apex of boredom, the reality show suddenly jumped to a news report, and Paulo straightened out, interest flashing in his eyes.
"This update fresh from Roseville, the high school there appears to have been subject to a terrorist attack of some sort. As of yet there appear to have been no casualties, but medics are still searching the scene. There was extensive damage done to the school building, and a rough damage estimate is conservatively said to be at about $4 million."
"What?" Paulo exclaimed as he heard the news. His eyes widened as a picture of the devastated, burned-out shell of the high school flashed on the screen. The high school looked as if it had been burned to a crisp – which, in a sense, it had. Only the left wing appeared to be untouched – though that was just the exterior.
"As of yet, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, but militant group 'Phrama Met' is suspected. The Ministry of Defence has declined to make a comment, as has the President. The Board of Education has however released a statement saying that terrorism will not stand in the way of education, and that classes will continue as normal on Monday."
"God," Paulo hissed under his breath, "They're insane. School, in that heap?"
The four policemen lined up in front of General MacMillan, who looked at each of them in turn with a stern face. He then turned to the filing cabinet, and said, "Gentlemen, until we catch those responsible for this heinous act, this cabinet will be your bible. You will not defile it in any way. You will not put frivolous information in it. This is need-to-know only, and is the pivotal information of our search. You will live by this cabinet. Do I make myself clear?"
"Sir, yes sir!"
"Right then, take an hour off, and go make those beds of yours liveable. I'll be taking the couch, and Lieutenant Minuk will be taking the cot. Hurry up – if we don't catch these sonuvabitches, they may actually kill someone next time. Children. Teenagers. Innocent people. We cannot allow this to happen. So go and make your beds. Dismissed."
As the policemen walked off, General MacMillan's brow furrowed as he thought over the information he had read and noted in the green folder. From the information he had received, he had narrowed the suspicion down to five or six people who may have been responsible for the explosion.
"Minuk's not going to like this," he muttered to himself. "They're all teenagers."