Chapter 73: Inferno

59 0 0

"I can't believe we're back here again," Lex heard Kate grumble as they rode up in the elevator. As she watched, Kate shot a dirty look in the direction Lakshmi stood, as far away from the rest of the group as she could manage on the other side of the elevator.

"For the reason for that, look no farther than your own actions," Lakshmi responded, which left Lex feeling surprised. When the last group had arrived back at the bus after the fight in the Maine woods, Lakshmi seemed to be in shock, so everyone had bundled up into the bus and been driven as quickly as possible to the nearest air base, and its small hospital. It wasn't until the next day, when Lex had visited with Riss, and then, out of a sense of duty, Lakshmi, that she realized the woman had changed from her mostly non-communicative stance.

"Relax, everyone," Casey's calm voice cut through the tension. "We'll have plenty of time to talk about this upstairs, let's give it a rest until then."

Kate grumbled at Lex's shoulder but didn't say anything further, and Lex watched as her friend's shoulders relaxed when she turned away from Lakshmi. Riss and Lakshmi glared at one another now, but it didn't seem that either of them would speak. Lex became distracted as she felt the tug on her left hand, turning to the side as Rolf gripped her hand with his uninjured arm.

The silence ruled until they reached the thirteenth floor, the same as they had for their first briefing for the trip. This time, however, when they arrived at the conference room, it contained more than just a couple of people, Lex noted. She tensed upon entering the room, but felt her shoulders drop a fraction when she saw that the military people in the room seemed to be administrators in the main, aside from a few obvious bodyguards.

The size of the crowd surprised Lex, however. It didn't seem that the general had brought just his staff, but that they had in turn brought a few of theirs until more chairs had had to be brought in and now lined the walls. Enough seats had been reserved on one side of the conference table for Lex and her team and Lakshmi, as well, to sit, so she gravitated in that direction.

Lex watched as Casey and Lou ducked to come in, and she noticed when Casey cast a hopeful glance at the table of refreshments in back. Sighing, Lex remembered her friend had been in the middle of something that made her miss breakfast that day, since they'd had to leave early that morning to arrive in time.

"Ladies, gentlemen, please sit," General Southworth said, gesturing to the empty chairs at the conference table. "We have a lot to get to today."

Casey sighed and looked away, just as Lex and Riss caught each other's eyes. "I guess the help doesn't get refreshments," she murmured into Lex's ear.

"Hell they don't. You want to help me carry?" Lex replied as she glanced at the donuts, bagels, coffee, and tea just about everyone else around the conference room sat enjoying, feeling her mouth quirk up into a smile.

The two of them went to the back of the room as everyone else began milling around to get to their seats and while Riss poured some hot drinks, Lex made up a couple of plates of food, throwing some of everything on them. Some assistant had begun speaking, droning on about the mission as Lex put some tea and a plate of fruit and a bagel in front of Casey, who looked up and smiled. Smiling in return, Lex handed Lou a cup of coffee and then settled into her own seat next to Rolf, with a cup of tea of her own.

"Sorry, I was running out of space on the tray, so I figured we could share," Lex leaned in to whisper to Rolf.

"I'm glad to share anything and everything with you," he replied, and Lex felt her own smile widen in response.

She could hear the general speaking as she tuned back in to the meeting in progress around them. "Thank you for that summary, but I think Lakshmi has a full report on the situation."

SuperWhere stories live. Discover now