Major Brady Hanson held out a hand to the man dressed in the PMF's gray uniform beside him.
Brady glanced at it, sweating despite the cool antechamber of their secret communications point.
Brady entered the code from his micro onto the keypad beside the metal door in front of him.
Tim, his government contact and the highest-ranking individual in the PMF, was already on screen when Brady entered the comms center.
They've been infrequent, Brady replied.
And I appreciate the info you're sending us, Brady said.
"Doubt some poor girl would know anything," Brady replied.
Brady wondered, not for the first time, what Tim's relationship was to the girl.
"I'm not ten, Tim," Brady said with a small smile.
"We've been balancing both our demanding masters the past few weeks," Brady said, referring to his PMF militia duties and his official regular military duties.
"Check your micro," Brady said.
"The good thing is recruitment is up," Brady said.
"War isn't pretty," Brady agreed.
"You know I'll do anything you ask," Brady said.
Brady glanced at his best friend, who shook his head.
"I'm sure there's a way," Brady said.
Brady eyed his friend, who tried hard not to smile.
Brady opened his channel.
Brady waited, unusually interested in her answer.
A ladder lowered, and Brady vaulted onto it, followed by Dan.
Brady approached the five soldiers in urban gray tactical suits crowded around the small box with a hole still smoking from a hit by a wayward laser bullet.
The world around Brady was eerily quiet after a chaotic battle over the facility.
Brady growled, taking the box.
"All for this thing," Brady agreed.
"Wait one, Brady," Larry responded then bellowed at the crowd of aides-de-camp Brady knew regularly surrounded him.
"Me, too," Brady said and met the gaze of his closest friend since basic training.
"I'm ready," Brady said, trotting up the stairs to the main floor.
Brady complied and closed the connection.
Brady looked from the injured man to the streaks of red in the sky, which were answered by two more streaks to the north.
"Rendezvous threat camp," Brady said.
Brady turned to his team of five, which were gathered around the downed man.
Brady knelt beside the unconscious soldier.
Brady rose, hope flickering through him.
Tim trusted her, but Brady was cautious, suspecting she was unwitting of Tim's activities in the PMF.
As Easterners, Brady and his brothers continued the legacy their father and grandfather had of serving as the military advisors to the politicians that Tim's Western family bred.
Brady motioned for his men to ready themselves as he listened.
Brady started forward, and the others followed, falling into two teams.
Sweating and impatient after the slim escape from the ambush, Brady restrained his urge to thump the fed slowly checking Brady's micro.
Brady glanced over his shoulder at his team, whose chests heaved and guns were still at the ready.
Brady snatched his computer fast enough to surprise the fed in blue and strode towards the gates.
Brady turned in the direction indicated and yanked open the door to a dark room with a glowing red floor.
Planey looked from Brady to the soldier before motioning them down another hallway and quickening his step.
Brady stepped aside first, and the others followed his lead.
Brady watched the feds, irritated at the pockets of elite unaffected by the squalid conditions the non-elite were forced to live in.
Brady smiled, amused that Angel remembered his affinity for chocolate.
"A friend," Brady replied.
While he shouldn't have been surprised to find Angel in such a position, Brady was still impressed.
After a quick shower, Brady dressed in a new protective suit.
Brady stretched a muscular arm across the table beside him to tug the box out of his other uniform.
"They can send someone else," Brady replied.
Brady had worked with Dan for fifteen years.
Brady rose and snatched his weapons, snapping them into place on his body armor.
Brady asked, concern for his closest friend making his chest tighten.
Brady had conducted many missions in austere conditions in other countries.
On impulse, Brady tapped his implant and breathed her name as he continued to ready himself.
Brady hesitated to respond, feeling as though he should concentrate on supporting her, per Tim's directions, rather than reach out to her when he needed her.
Brady strode from the private room into a common area, where two of his four remaining men waited.
Brady and his men paused after two rigid security inspections and being granted permission to enter.
Brady took his friend's arm.
"Yeah," Brady whispered hoarsely.
"Major Brady, Dan," a gruff voice boomed.
Brady tugged Dan's mask off, gaze roving the compound.