Chapter 31: I See You There
“Keep your head down and get ready to run,” Paro commanded. “Get to the end of the street on my signal.”
Melissa swallowed her pride and nodded. She was crouched down behind Mrs. Harris and Paro, trembling at the constant explosive spray of automatic weapons, and the loud bangs caused by anything and everything continuously launched by both friendly and enemy Kinetics. It was like the world had gone mad--like all rationality and sensibility had been thrown out of the window, replaced by chaos and havoc.
Melissa didn’t want to leave Paro and Mrs. Harris behind, but what could she do? She’d been through many things with her team--bad things--but nothing compared to this. The newsstand that provided her scant cover had been practically blown to bits. Paper from a countless number of destroyed magazines rained down around her, and it felt like being caught in her own personal snowstorm. Only, instead of the cold, winter snow, Melissa was showered by ashes and shredded newspaper.
Two recon officers bolted out from nearby cover and ran the distance to Paro. Melissa watched in horror as only one made the trip alive. He crouched down with his back to the destroyed newsstand and pressed his weapon tightly against his chest.
“Sir!” he said, addressing Paro. “You cannot evacuate the girl right now. They’re flanking us from the sewers on the other end of the street. There’s no way out. We need … we need to call in air support.”
“Negative,” Paro said. “If this mess gets any bigger, we won’t be able to keep the truth from coming out. As it is now--”
Deven grabbed Paro by the shoulders and pulled him down into a crouch, cutting him off. A second later, a sharp piece of metal soared by the area where his head had been.
Paro inhaled and continued. “As it is now, we’ll barely be able to come up with a decent enough excuse to explain this carnage. The city is going to be locked down--people will be terrified. No, we can’t involve any more non-organization personnel. If we bring them into it, they’ll be sure to talk. Secrets will be revealed.”
The recon officer ripped the helmet off his head and threw it to the ground. He was young, Melissa noticed, perhaps no older than nineteen. “Is that what your secret is worth?” he asked. “The price of our lives?”
“Yes,” Alana answered in place of Paro, “now get back into the fight or I’ll have you brought up on charges.”
The recon officer grunted but did as he was told. He was back on his feet in an instant, and Melissa forced herself to look away as he ran back to join the other officers in the fight--she didn’t want to know if he lived or died, not after she had seen his face.
“He’s right, you know,” Deven said. “If we don’t do something soon then a lot more people are going to die. Maybe it’s time that …”
“No!” Alana shouted. “Protect the secret at all costs. That’s how we operate--that’s how we’ve always operated.”
Melissa was in a jumpy mood, so she yelped when she felt arms pressing down against her back. She turned--and snarled when she saw the face of Cemmera Wilson, flanked by Andy, Neil, and the two Kinetic brothers that made up her team. Cemmera leaned on Melissa’s back and smiled.
“Sup, yall? Hope I’m not interrupting. What are you guys doing hiding behind this newsstand? Is this the cool club now?”
Paro snapped, “Cemmera! What do you want? Now is not the time for your nonsense.”
Cemmera looked hurt by Paro’s words, but Melissa knew she was faking it. She held a palm to her mouth and gasped. “Nonsense? From little old me? Now why would you think something like that, my best and dearest friend Paro?”
Even with the constant pounding of gunfire, Melissa had no trouble hearing Cemmera’s obviously faked moans. An instant later, she grinned and pointed to Alana. “I’m here to speak with you, actually.”