Running with the Devil Chapter 5 snippet

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Ireland was a beautiful planet, craggy mountains overlooking lush valleys. Kate stepped out of her fighter and watched an eagle fly overhead. The majestic bird passed overhead and its cry filled the air. While its brethren had been pushed to near extinction on Earth, they had flourished on many of the colonies.

She watched the bird swoop down over the nearby river and climb skywards with a fish in its claws. It was a wonderful sight to her; something that was never experienced on Necko. With a society based off the dark side of mankind, the Games left no room for the positives to be seen.

For long moments she stood there, oblivious to the passing of time, just letting the bird and the mountains fill her senses. What was the point of living life if you didn’t take the time to experience the beauty of it? It was her conviction that most of mankind was so used to the bright side of life that they took it for granted.

Maybe if they had to live like I did, she thought, then they would appreciate everything this life has to offer!

With a sigh, she turned her attention back to the job at hand. The President would be arriving soon and she needed to have her ducks in a row. While a M-22 fighter was extremely fast and maneuverable, it lacked for storage facilities. Whatever couldn’t fit into the two person cockpit with her had to go into the outside storage bins on the underside of the wings.

While she punched in the codes, a vehicle came pulling up the dirt road. It came to a stop and a cloud of dust floated past Kate while she opened the bin. Inside, she had placed a sniper rife, folding bow and arrow and her garment bag. Behind her, she heard two people jump out of the ground car and approach her.

Someone’s in a goddamned hurry, she thought.

“Lieutenant,” a man said. “Welcome to Ireland!”

“Not like I had much choice in the matter,” Kate said under her breath. “Who are you?”

“Sergeant Peterson with Fleet Security,” he said. “My Lieutenant sent me to pick you up.”

“Nice to meet you, Sergeant,” she said, placing her bags on the ground and shaking his hand.

“Who is your Lieutenant? I was told that the Security Detail was in charge of this facility.”

“They are,” Peterson said. “But only a skeleton force is here right now. The Marines are running the show until the President arrives later this evening.”

“Gotcha,” Kate said. “Who is your Lieutenant by the way?”

“I was told the two of you have a bit of a past together,” Peterson said, smiling.

This doesn’t sound good, Kate thought with a frown.

“The Lieutenant said you two grew up together,” Peterson said. “And her name is Jennifer Loving.”

The news hit her like a brick and Kate felt her knees want to buckle. Jennifer was still alive! She had survived after all and joined the Fleet! Closing her eyes, Kate realized that her sacrifice hadn’t been in vain and she smiled in satisfaction. Just knowing that Loving was alive was enough to prove to her she had done the right thing.

It’s nice to know something good came out of the pain, she thought.

“You could say we have a past together,” Kate said, shaking her head. “It’s more like: she has a future because of me.”

“I see,” he said. “Lieutenant Loving said the same thing.”

“It’s nice to see we’re still on the same page,” Kate said dryly. “Even after a year.”

“She said you’d be needing a lift, sir,” Peterson said. “Anything we can help you stow away?”

“No thank you,” Kate said. “I like to handle my weapons myself.”

“I understand, sir,” he said.

Lugging the bags over to the ground car took only a second and it allowed Kate to reflect some more on her life. Who would have thought that Loving would have joined the Fleet and they would end up on the same planet? What were the odds of that happening? A million to one or higher, Kate would’ve said if asked.

It’s almost like we’re destined to be together, she thought while getting into the car.

Peterson got in last and the driver started up the car. A Jeep, its design hadn’t changed much over four hundred years except for the mechanical aspects. Due to its reliability, it was the vehicle of choice for foot soldiers throughout the galaxy. Kate cocked an eyebrow when the motor started while she contemplated her choice of vehicle.

This is too tame, she told herself, give me a nice Ducati and I’d be happy!

Bouncing along the dirt road, she watched the trees flash by. The landing area was several klicks away from the actual retreat and that had been by design. When the compound had been envisioned, it was decided that it needed to have a feeling of seclusion, which would allow the President to relax. Over the years, some Presidents had grumbled that the complex was too far from their ship, while others had said it wasn’t far enough. Most, however, found it to be perfect and never voiced a word.

I wish I owned a place like this, Kate thought. It would be a perfect place to retire to if, and when, I get out of this line of work!

Peterson turned to look at her from the front seat. “How long do you think you’ll be staying with us, Lieutenant?”

“Who knows,” Kate shrugged.

“There must be something big brewing if they’re going to send an Agent out to deal with it,” he said. “Especially with your reputation.”

My reputation, Kate thought, always seems to precede me. I wonder if they’re talking about capturing the Black Cobra or the assassination I did?

“I didn’t know I had a reputation,” she said with a smile. “Since most of my work is classified.”

“Oh you have a reputation,” Peterson chuckled. “We’ve heard you would’ve penetrated the entire Security Detail if you hadn’t captured the Black Cobra.”

How in the world did that get out? Kate wondered. That mission is classified so high that no one should know about it.

“How do you know about that?” Kate asked. “That’s classified.”

The next move Peterson made took her completely by surprise. His right hand came up from behind the seat and a pistol was in it. Pointing it at her head, he smiled at her in a way that could only charitable be called a smile. It was a look of pure contempt and arrogance that Kate felt her face flush in anger.

“Because we hired her,” Peterson said. “Now keep your hands where I can see them.”
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