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I have been at work editing my NaNoWriMo piece. Chapter one has been completed and has some extra comments from readers incorporated into it. I am also expecting a sketch of SarahJane from an artist in a few days. But without further a due.
Like most Starbucks, the one in the McChord Air Force Base BX was the most modern thing in the building. Glass walls allowed you to see the hallway outside. I stopped in front of the glass walls before entering the café. Running my hand over my clean shaven face I checked over my suit. The suit fit my average build but barely in the arms. I didn’t wear it often and didn’t like it when I did. To say that I wasn’t nervous about this meeting would be a lie.
I walked into the Starbucks. The inside was just as modern as the outside wood and metal tables were strewn across the room along with a sofa and arm chairs. The walls were lined with the typical Starbucks memorabilia. A friendly looking Barista stood behind the counter awaiting the next customer.
As I walked up to the counter I looked around, taking in my surroundings. My training had taught me to always be observant. Besides the Barista the only people in the room appeared to be military personnel or their wives. I walked up to the Barista and saw that her name tag read Kristi. For some reason Baristas were either the most upset or the happiest of people. With a giant smile, Kristi appeared to be the latter.
“Hello Kristi, how are you this morning?” I returned her smile.
“I am doing good, what can I get for you today sir?”
“Can I please get a strawberry banana smoothie?”
“Of course, can I get anything else for you?”
I paid the kind Barista with cash and walked over to the counter to wait for my drink to be finished. I was here to meet a college acquaintance and offer them a job I was positive they would be excited to do. I straightened out my suit while I waited on my drink. Because my unit was officially on the books as a law enforcement unit we frequently wore suits or other law enforcement style clothes instead of wearing the military uniforms. It also helped us fit in in public when we had to leave base.
While I stood there waiting for my drink she walked in. With her Airman Battle Uniform on she looked like she was a plain, thin, young lady with an athletic to thin build. I knew her looks deceived because I had seen her train for her martial arts in college. She had also joined in when my Army ROTC unit had hosted hand to hand tactics training every week. Her red hair was pulled up into a regulation bun and freckles decorated her face. Almost no makeup touched her pale face. The military had regulations against wearing excessive makeup but that wasn’t the reason that just wasn’t her style. Her uniform sported second lieutenant’s bars, lovingly referred to as butter bars.
When Lieutenant SarahJane Taylor saw me she smiled a big genuine smile. I returned the smile, seeing her again really made me happy. She had been two years behind me in college so I had two years of being in the real world while she was finishing up her degree in criminal justice. With the nature of my job I had only one chance to see her over that span of time and email only did so much. She had graduated last June, had the summer off, then went to Security Forces school. From there she had been assigned to a holding unit which was where she was still assigned. I knew all of this because it was my fault she was still in a holding unit.
SarahJane repeated the process I did and ordered a coffee so complex I didn’t bother tracking it. When she was done she walked over to me to wait for her drink.
“Hello Army.” She gave me a friendly punch in the shoulder.
“Hey there SarahJane.” A Barista passed my drink across the counter.
“You still aren’t drinking coffee? Man up soldier.”
“I know you know that I can’t stand the taste that coffee leaves in my mouth. The smoothie is probably healthier for me anyways. I see that you are still ordering drinks so complex that they have to write them down.”
“On two pages.” She joked.
I laughed. We got along well. Our personalities had always meshed. When her drink came across the counter we walked to a table in the corner of the room. I took the seat facing the door. Paranoia and habit, I liked being able to see anyone who came in. From the first few minutes in the room I had already noted the locations of all the security cameras and the back exist, also out of training.
“You being here has broken the monotony of the days I have been having since Security Forces training.”
“They still don’t have you attached to a Security Forces unit?” Of course I knew the answer because that was why I was here but I was going to play it out. I enjoyed the cloak and dagger nature.
“No they don’t. Every time I ask about my orders I keep getting told they are trying to decide where to put me. I am pretty sure the S-1’s office is getting annoyed with me. I think if I show up again the secretary might give me an even shittier position. How is Army life treating you?”
“I enjoy every day. Are there any postings you really want?”
“After some of the tasks I have had to do I would accept any unit that isn’t doing maintenance.” I couldn’t help it I laughed a little bit, she looked slightly offended.
“I could offer you something more exciting than maintenance or anything that you have thought of doing.”
“What can an Army police officer do about my career?” She added a joking emphasis to the Army part. “And aren’t you an MP?”
I let out a mysterious chuckle. “That’s my title on paper.”
“That sounds secretive. What do you really do then?”
“I work for Task Force 172. Being trained as a Security Forces officer you probably have heard rumors about them.”
“That I have, everyone in the military lawm, enforcement agencies has. An elite Task Force that is invitation only and no one quite knows the details of what they do, mysterious.”
“Well there is at least a little bit of truthm behind the rumors. I have been working with them since before I graduated. I have been given command of my own team and I would like you to be on it.”
“Ha, you must be kidding. Even if you were part of this elite Task Force why would you want me on one of it’s teams? I have absolutely no special forces training.”
“You have the law enforcement training which is still part of the job. The Task Force will provide you with the rest of the training that you will need.”
“You are serious aren’t you.”
In response I pulled a manila folder from inside my suit jacket. It was her personnel file. I had already read it and knew it contained high marks in almost all of her training. I watched as she read over the file and looked at me surprised.
After I saw that she had finished reading I covertly pulled a badge off my belt and slid it across the table. It was gunmetal grey to prevent reflecting light and to be less noticeable. In black lettering the badge read Department of Defense, Task Force 172, Captain. She picked up the badge and looked at it for a minute then returned it to me. I slid another badge across the table. It was similar to mine but it said agent instead of captain.
“What do you think?”
“You’re a captain now?” She sounded legitimately surprised.
“It came with the position. Don’t sound so surprised. What do you think of the job offer?”
“I am intrigued I have to admit. If I joined what exactly would this team be doing?”
“Black ops, covert ops, kind of work. We would be based out of the Pacific Region.”
“You are the reason I haven’t been given an assignment yet aren’t you?”
“Well you had to go through additional background checks for the clearances you would rate in the new position. Once all that was done I had to send your paperwork up the food chain. What do you say?” I asked.
“Is it fun?”
“What do you mean is it fun? It’s the best work I have ever done.”
“Well then yes is the answer. What do I do from here?” She inquired.
“You will get an invitation to attend training. Go and be all you can be. Your joining the unit will be contingent on that. If you fail that there will be no joining the unit.” I answered. “Until then, wait.”
She groaned and I am pretty sure the whole cafe heard it. “No pressure?”
I chuckled. For a while we sat back and talked about things that were less serious. I had wanted to get business out of the way first so we could relax more. Connecting with her again made me happy and I was glad that she said yes but I doubt she would have turned it down. Several times she had mentioned dreamily that she would love such a job. It was also rare that I got to see someone from my college life. I had only ever seen a couple of people who I had been in ROTC with after, and they were in the Army too. The Army was a big place and being in special forces made mingling a little bit of a challenge.