"Five hours until tournament. You ready to defend your title?"
Shutting down her small handheld computer, Lieutenant Estellia Highlander cast a sideways glance at the behemoth of a man walking beside her.
A dirty chuckle seeped from her throat. "Oh, I'm looking forward to it."
Most people would have cringed if a man of Priam's stature gave them the unimpressed sneer that he sent her way. Estellia, however, bit her bottom lip and wagged her eyebrows at him. Rather than respond to her taunt, the Sergeant Major turned his attention back to where they were walking.
The side of his face was heavily scarred. While they had been close friends for some time now, Estellia still didn't know how it had happened. Anytime someone asked about it he had a new story, one told with the same intensity as the last. It made it impossible to know what the truth was.
"This will be the seventh year in a row, if you win, right?" He asked, redirecting the conversation a little.
Estellia reached into her pocket and pulled out a soft piece of moulded plastic. Placing it in her ear, she looked up at him. "Aw, look at you paying attention like a proud papa." She teased.
A smirk broke the seriousness of Priam's expression. "You'd be a hell of a lot better behaved if you were my kid, Sunshine. "
Lieutenant Wolf, this is Booker. A deep voice came over her inner ear radio just seconds after she'd placed it. Proceed to the luggage carousel. A man in a blue jacket and black baseball cap will collect you. He'll bring you to Headquarters where you'll be briefed on the situation. We already have your belongings.
Fully aware that they were watching her, Estellia gave a short nod.
"The Colonel's got me busy until we leave." Priam said offhandedly. "It's a damned shame I have to miss the tournament. Watching you fight is . . . educational." The mocking ring to the big man's voice was familiar.
"Educational?" Estellia scoffed in return. "Then why haven't you learned anything, old man?"
"Remember when we first met?" He asked, his eyes still fixed forward. "You threw me forty feet. Landed on my head. This old dog hasn't learned a new trick since."
They arrived at the carousel just as the luggage began to drop. The mix of civilians and plain clothed soldiers circled it while she and Priam waited at the end.
"Forty feet now, is it?" She raised a single eyebrow at him.
Standing nearly a full head over her five-foot nine, he turned to look down at her and crossed his arms over his barrel-shaped chest. The expression on his face was hard and angry, but it was nothing more than a front. If Priam had become an actor rather than a soldier who hunted vampires for a living, he'd have made a fortune.
"You saying it was less?" He challenged with a thunderous rumble to his voice.
"It was no more than five," Estellia poked him in the chest with a single finger, "and you were wearing a helmet."
Priam did a poor job of hiding his smirk as he turned around and watched bags go by. "It was no less than ten, and the helmets back then weren't as good as they are now."
"Ahh, that explains a lot."
Though she remained with Priam, no more than ten feet to her right a man fitting the description Booker had given her was waiting. She was content to let him continue for another minute or so.
It had been sheer luck that Priam had also been scheduled to go out to San Clemente Island, where they'd been training with other specialized soldiers. The man was more a father to her than her real one had ever been, and she would miss him when he left. She rarely had the chance to see him since he'd been transferred to the League, one of the bases that were part of the black ops force they both worked for.
Priam looked at down at her again and then over her head toward where her escort was. Blue eyes darkening, he went back to searching for his duffle bag.
"You're barely off the plane and they're whisking you away already, huh? You sure you're making it to tournament?" There was a displeased ring to his voice.
Priam hated that she was called on for dangerous missions. Regardless of how good she was at her job. He was always afraid that one day these missions would kill her. He was probably right, but Alley troops didn't have a particularly long lifespan anyway.
Wolf sighed inwardly. Whether she wanted to stay or not, it was best for Priam if she left. The more he thought about her running off for a special mission, the more he'd think about the daughter he lost so many years ago. She could save him that by going; at least his reflections would end sooner.
"Winning makes sure that I get to pick my missions. So long as that means that I stay a healthy distance from General Highlander then nothing's keeping me from competing." She replied, starting to back toward her escort. "Give that SOB all my love, would you?"
Priam's shoulders shook with a deep laugh, proof enough that she'd diverted his thoughts away from his past. "Yeah, cause that would go over well."
"Then, how about the Colonel?" The tease in her voice was artful.
In the span of a breath the big man deflated. His shoulders sagged, and his whole head rolled along with his eyes until he was looking at her with another displeased scowl.
"Why the hell do I stick around you again?" He growled, bringing a finger up to point at her. "If I was in my right mind, I'd give up on you."
She gave him a sly look.
"Gah!" Priam threw his hands up. "You got me to say it again!"
Laughing, Estellia spun on her toes and gestured at herself with her thumbs as she walked away. "Who's the master?"
"I'm not bowing down to you yet, you pain in my ass." He called after her.
"You don't have to." She replied in a sing-song voice. "Your Colonel, on the other hand"
"God damn it, Sunshine! That's the last thing I want to think about."
Estellia followed her escort away, chuckling softly to herself. That would never get old.
The smile lingered as she crossed the tarmac to a private hangar with no lights on despite the darkness of the overcast night. A large black helicopter was waiting just in front of it's closed doors. While her escort went toward the aircraft, she slipped into the building. Her duffle bag was just inside the door. Beside it, a black pile of uniform and sleek armour sat waiting for her.
Ready to get back into action, she changed immediately and made her way outside.
Lost Infernal is an urban fiction novel in the making. Currently, I am seeking representation for the series. The Lost Infernal literature works found on deviantART are short stories designed to be independant of, but enhance, the story.
For more information on Lost Infernal, go to www.lostinfernal.com