Chapter Twenty-Six ~Travis~

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It's hard to believe this day has finally come. If everything goes as expected, I'll be getting a call from Jim some time today, letting me know it's go time. We spoke briefly last night. Jim claimed he wanted to go over some last minute details when his real concern was Sanders...and me.

"Any word from him?" he asked.

"No, but I spoke with the Unit Secretary. She said Sanders had a family emergency and would be taking a leave of absence."

"Understandable. But, I have to ask, where does this leave you Travis? Are you comfortable moving forward without him? You'll have no back up inside the compound. It's a concern we need to address," he replied.

"The only reason Sanders became a Hunter was to find his sister. Now that she's gone, it changes everything for him. And as much as I'd like him there, I don't expect him to put his life and freedom at risk to help me get Maddie out. He's exactly where he should be...with his family," I responded.

"Fair enough. As for tomorrow, remember it's business as usual. Do your scheduled ride along with the Sweeps Unit and by the time you're done, we should have everything in place and ready to execute."

"Sweeps. Can't wait," I responded sarcastically. I was really hoping to avoid this part of the job, but it is what it is. "I'll be waiting for your call."

"Talk to you then, and hang in there Son. It's almost over," he replied right before ending the call.

I'll do more than hang in there. It's the least I can do. Times get rough, and so do I. I've never been the kind of person to back down when things don't go as planned. Obstacles don't deter me, they just challenge me to step up my game. Challenge accepted.

My current obstacle...tuning out the two Hunters I got stuck with for today's ride along. I've seen them around the compound a time or two, but that's the extent of it. They've been assigned to the Sweeps Unit, which is where Sanders and I are set to be transferred next month. Today is meant to provide some on the job training.

Breeder Sweeps generally occur once every two months, sometimes more, and it's quite the production...always has been. An entire city on lockdown, large convoys rolling through every street. It's been a normal part of life, yet they have never once felt normal.

Being a typical little boy, I was intrigued by it all. The sirens would blare, and I'd run to our front window, waiting to watch the show. I'd always hear the roar of the Humvee's engine first, signaling they were close, and wait in anticipation for the moment I would see it rolling down our street. Then I'd watch as the soldiers got out, fully armed, in their military fatigues. They'd begin to talk amongst themselves, and that's when my mom would lure me away. She'd always have some important job for me to do or some new game she wanted to play. And although I may have been too young to understand what it all meant, I knew there was something my mom didn't want me to see.

Our convoy is minutes out from the city gates when the first series of air raid sirens sound across the early morning sky. It announces our convoy's arrival and with that, a mandatory, city wide lockdown, effective immediately.

Our Humvee begins to slow once it reaches the city gate. Daniels, the guy driving this tank, rolls down his window and starts shooting the shit with one of the foot soldiers standing at the entrance. I'm dumbfounded by the ease in which they interact, like it's just a normal day at the office.

"Look, the faster you get through your sector, the faster we get the hell out of here and start drinking." the guard says.

"Not going tonight. Got a date," Daniels replies.

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