Hello again! Once again chapter one was revised but this time so was chapter two so I figured I would give you your first sneak peak of chapter two. And in case you were wondering I am on track to be ahead of the game yet again today.
Chapter 1 – Cpt. James Derrick, US Army
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 and wood and metal tables were strewn across the room along with a coach 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 entered the cafe I looked around. 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.
“Hello Kristi, how are you this morning?”
“I am doing good, what can I do for you?”
“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 thin to average 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. Red hair was pulled up into a regulation bun and freckles decorated her face. Almost no makeup touched her 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. 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 in college. 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.
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?”
“I know you know that I can’t stand the taste that coffee leaves in my mouth. 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.
“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. Everytime 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. 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.
“I could offer you something more exciting than maintenance or anything that you have thought of doing.”
“What can a soldier do about my career?” She asked. “And aren’t you an MP?”
I let out a mysterious chuckle. “That’s what the books say.”
“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 law enforcement agencies has. An elite Task Force that is invitation only and no one quite knows the details of what they do.”
“Well there is at least a little bit of truth 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.”
Covertly, I 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?”
“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. It was also rare that I got to see someone from my college life. I had only even 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.
Chapter 2 – Lt. SarahJane Taylor, US Air Force
Two weeks had passed since my conversation with James and I was beginning to think it was a prank. He hadn’t contacted me and I was still attached to my boring placeholder of a unit. My daily work consisted of waking up, carrying out mundane tasks and training, then going home.
Today started out like just the rest. I had been assigned with four other people to paint a section of hallway in one of the base buildings. This was totally not what I had joined the military to do. About half way through the hallway my phone started to buzz. I pulled it out of my pocket and held it to my ear.
“This is Jana Port, assistant to the S-1. Please report to the S-1’s office right away.” Her voice was annoyed.
“Yes ma’am.” I replied.
I let the rest of the people I was working with know what I was doing and departed.
My old car faithfully took me in the direction of the unit’s headquarters. Being a unit made of people from all over doing mundane tasks the Air Force had decided that we didn’t need an impressive office. My unit known as a Base Management Unit.
From the outside we had done our best to make the headquarters look nice. The older building had a recently white paint job and the parking lot was kept swept.
Inside was worse than the outside. The whole building had a smell that no one could quite identify but if it got any stronger I am not sure people could put up with working in the building. I walked down a hallway with plain white walls that should look sterile but with the older lighting managed to look just old.
A unit with a crappy headquarters wouldn’t be complete without unpleasant staff. As I walked into the office that housed the S-1 and his staff I looked around. No one looked happy. On one side of the room there were three desks with people working, across from them there sat Jana Port, the S-1’s assistant. She was looking through documents and making marks on them. Directly in front of me was the door to the S-1’s office. I walked up to her and reported that I was there as requested.
“I can see that Lieutenant.” She was a civilian employee and as such felt that she was entitled to act however she felt like.
“Okay, so can I go report to the S-1?”
“No, he will call you in when he is ready. He is currently seeing someone else.” She managed to speak without once looking up from her paperwork as if what she was saying was ingrained in her.
Walking up to the wall of the S-1’s personal office I positioned myself just to the side of the door and took up the position of parade rest. When she thought that I wasn’t paying attention Jana Port shot me a glare. I knew from my current posting that having a crappy job could make you have a crappy mood.
After a few minutes at parade rest the door to the office opened quickly. Luckily I had stood on the opposing side or I would have been hit by the door. A very upset looking airman stomped out. The Base Maintenance Unit was a common place for people to be put if the Air Force didn’t want to discharge them but didn’t want to put them in an important position. So if someone had been attached to the unit for any long period of time it usually meant they had done something to earn that attachment.
“You can go see him now.” Jana Port said smiling.
I felt like she should be wishing me luck as I walked into the S-1’s office and reported to the major behind the desk. The major looked like he didn’t belong in his uniform. He was plump older gentleman whose hair had surely seen better days. A permanent look of dislike plastered his face that even rivaled his assistant’s.
“Taylor. Someone finally has an assignment so you aren’t stuck with us unlucky bastards. From what I understand a unit has actually requested you. I don’t know much about your orders and don’t really care to. They are sealed and marked above my paygrade.” He tossed a manilla envelope marked Classified across the table. I had to move forward to grab it. “I don’t know what you did to get a mysterious posting.”
It wasn’t phrased as a question. I looked down at the envelope and saw that it was marked for my eyes only. Seeing that made a small shiver flow through my body. Being part of a secretive world felt intriguing.
I started to open the envelope but the S-1 spoke up. “Not here Lieutenant. I don’t care to know what is inside and I don’t have the time for you to be using my office as a reading space.”
“Understood sir.” I couldn’t help but feel a level of contempt for the S-1. He represented what the opposite of what the military was supposed to be.
“Dismissed, get out of here.” He made a shooing motion with his hands.
On the drive back to my on base apartment the envelope was calling to me from the passenger’s seat. Not only was it an enticing posting and one that would make me extra money but it was my first post college job that I knew I was going to like. Getting it felt like an accomplishment. I didn’t think James would offer me the job without believing that I could do it.
I didn’t exactly run out of the car and into the apartment when I got home but it was close. The door barely had latched closed before I started opening the envelope. Inside I found multiple sheets and packets of paper.
The first document inside the envelope was a letter from the USAF assigning me to a Department of Defense Task Force and explaining to me how the attachment would work. The official name of my new assignment was the 172nd Enforcement Task Force 16th Investigative Unit. James was listed as my new commanding officer but there were also contacts for the Air Force in case I needed certain things that only my own branch could handle.
The next item inside was a small folder that I hadn’t been expecting. It was labeled Alaska Airlines and sure enough it contained airline tickets to Fort Brag. Then I saw the date on the tickets and began freaking out inside. I only had a few hours to pack before I would have to get to the airport.
The last important document in the envelope was a letter on plain paper, not official letterhead.
2nd Lieutenant Taylor,
Congratulations your conditional acceptance into TF 172. As you probably have already been told the task force that you are being welcomed into is highly classified. You are not to tell anyone of your new orders.
Now that I have gotten the obligatory classification speech out of the way, I apologize for having to put you on a plane tonight. You are joining the Task Force late in the hiring session late due to some logistical errors and your specialized training will begin the day after tomorrow. There will be no need to pack, you will only be spending your training at Fort Brag and the apartment provided to you while you are training is rudimentarly furnished. After training you will be returning to the West Coast to be attached to a Pacific Region Unit. Make sure you bring anything that you will need for the duration of training, approximately four months.
Good luck. The specialized training is not a cake walk and will keep you on your toes.
Your New C.O.,
Captain James Derrick, Unit 16
P.S. Destroy this letter after reading then bring the rest of the information packet with you to training.
The cloak and dagger effect of the envelope made me feel important and I had to smile. Hopefully I didn’t need luck, I worked out and practiced martial arts to help keep my body in great condition.
After reading through the rest of the packet I was a little nervous though. Nothing in the packet elaborated on the specialized training. I could make guesses from stories, books, and television but I had no clue what I was really going to face. Either way I was excited and I guessed the nervousness was healthy.
I returned everything but the letter to the envelope and set the envelope on my dining room table. Walking to the bathroom I read over the letter once more and once again enjoyed the sensation I got from the secretiveness. Then I took out my lighter and lit the letter on fire, dropping in in the bathtub. I watched it burn then went to pack for my next four months.