Chapter 06: Outpost Life

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"I think he had a crush on me, but I never fostered it. I just...he wasn't my type. I'm still not sure why. Anyway, he got bit. I threw him in the back of the jeep and made a run for it, and you know the rest of it."

Kyra forced a smile. Greg stared at the floor, rubbing the back of his neck. Before the silence had a chance to play out, Cage shifted on the table behind them. They both turned to face him. His eyes snapped open. His mouth remained a flat, indecipherable line. With slow deliberate moves, he propped himself up on his elbows. The movement appeared to cause him pain, but there was only a brief twitch in his right eye.

"Where am I?"

Kyra and Greg filled in the blanks for the mystery man. He listened, remaining propped up the entire time, despite the obvious effort it took. By the end, he was sweating. Kyra grabbed an injector of painkillers, but he waved her off.

"I prefer to suffer through my pain." His mouth pinched into a thin line.

Greg glanced at Kyra, who shrugged, before he spoke. "That seems a little...extreme."

"I find that it serves as a good motivator for success in the future. I also find that, in my line of work, a higher pain tolerance is preferable to a lower one."

Greg wasn't sure what to say to that, so he just nodded and fell silent.

Cage spoke up again. "I suppose you want to hear how I got into the position I'm in?"

Both of them nodded.

"It's dull, I'm afraid. I was stationed at a military outpost not far from here. Those men came in. There were more when they first showed up, but those who didn't join their cause managed to kill a fair amount of them. In the end, they won. They shot me, thought they'd killed me. When I came to, I did a quick patch job on myself, grabbed my sniper rifle, and followed them. I tracked them here, to this outpost."

Something about Cage's voice unsettled Greg. At first, he wasn't quite sure what it is, more caught up in the story than the storyteller.

"You managed to track them here, despite the fact they were in a vehicle and you were wounded?" Kyra frowned.

"I'm very good at what I do."

"And what is that?" Greg asked

"I'm a scout first, sniper second."

"Must be a close second," Kyra muttered.

"Indeed. If you'll have me, I'll stay here and assist."

Greg glanced at Kyra. Finally, he shrugged. Why not? Kyra seemed to be thinking harder about it, almost looking for a reason to turn him away.

In the end, a small sigh escaped her lips. "Sure, we'd like to have you. For the moment, you should rest. There are spare beds in the dorms building, most of them clean."

Cage gave them a curt nod. He sat up with another slight twitch of his eye, registering the pain, and rose swiftly to his feet. With new blood now in his system, he pulled the needle from his arm and bandaged it.

He glanced at Greg. "Are there any radios around? Earpieces?"

Kyra hesitated. "Um...there's probably some in the comms room. Why?"

"If we're going to be apart, we should have a way of keeping in contact and a system for checking in," Cage replied.

"That's a good idea...all right, come on."

Kyra led them out of the infirmary and back into the misty rain. Greg took stock of their latest addition in the gray light, frowning at what he saw. No question that the man was a competent sniper. That much had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt when he'd saved their asses. Everything from the paleness of his skin to the sunken quality of his eyes to the gaunt, drawn nature of his face spoke of a deep exhaustion.

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