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.
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.
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.