"It was great working with you, (Y/N)." One of your coworkers gently placed his hand on your back. You had a small box on the front desk filled with your possessions from work. You were just about to finish up collecting everything when a group of some of your closest colleagues came by to say one last goodbye.
"We are going to miss you greatly, dear." Another one spoke. She was more towards the elderly side, and she was always such a sweetheart. You smiled from ear to ear, it was Friday, and your adrenaline was pumping looking towards starting a new chapter in your life.
"I'm going to miss you guys, too. But the time has come. I need a new change in scenery, y'know?" You responded with a simple shrug. Your coworkers were surprised to find out about your sudden job change as much as you were that same day. Of course, following what Miss Pauling advised, you decided to come up with a story that you were going to move back towards your parents and help them run a business of their own. It was oddly peculiar to them, for they did not know that they ran a business. Or let alone, if you had family in general. They did not question it further, though. They trusted you, and they have since the day they met you.
"Make sure to send a letter at some point if you can! We will want to hear from you." A girl around your age spoke. She was always a wonderful person to chat with during your lunch break. A small giggle escaped your lips.
"I'll make sure to find some time to write to you guys-" It was then you checked your watch. Jeez! Your landlord will be coming to make final configurations about vacating the space soon, you had to get going. "I hate to cut it short, but I need to get going. Take care, everyone!" You picked up your stuff and scurried towards the entrance of the building. All the while hearing the distant farewells of once-considered close work pals.
It was 7 o'clock on Saturday morning. Today was the big day. You grudgingly rolled out of bed towards your bathroom. As you got ready and became more awake, you once again grew more excited. You called a cab and loaded up whatever minimal stuff you were bringing with you. Finally, you placed your apartment room and mailbox key in the landlord's inbox, just as the landlord ordered.
It was almost a two-hour drive to the biggest airport (which happened to be Seattle) that could fly into where you needed to go. You held up a small slip of paper which also contained your plane ticket that seemed to "mysteriously" slip into your mailbox the night of your job offer. It read that you were to meet Miss Pauling at gate D42.
Your luggage was loaded up, and you carried your carry-on bag with you as you searched around the large airport for the correct area. It took a few minutes, but you eventually found it. It was only around 9:30 at this time, and it seemed that Miss Pauling was not there yet. You sat patiently and read a book as you waited for the other young woman to show up.
It was around five before 10 in the morning when you saw her striking purple dress draw closer towards you. She had a friendly look on her face. "Ah, it seems you made sure to get here extra early. I like your thinking." She complimented. The only thing she had with her was a small briefcase.
"As I mentioned before, I was going to give you more details on what you will exactly be doing on the job. There's a small built-in diner not too far from our gate. Want to get a bite to eat and I can explain there?" You nodded your head and grabbed your belongings as the two of you head towards the restaurant.
After receiving your dishes, Miss Pauling once again was quick to talk business. "As you know already you will be working as an assistant of some sorts... uhh, maybe more of a manager now thinking about it." She took a sip of coffee from her mug. "You will be working with a group of nine mercenaries." This fact shocked you. Wasn’t this supposed to be a demolition company?
"Mercenaries, as in, private soldiers?" You asked the girl. She nodded her head.
"That's right. You don't need to worry, though. This isn't some sort of boot camp training. You won't be out on field fighting personally. Though you will have other duties to attend to help them when they do engage in combat and afterward. Prepping supplies before departures like health kits are supplies and ammunition, observation to see if important artifacts and documents are safe, making sure the mercs are keeping their base clean, making sure people like the Administrator and I still have a strong connection for the contact between bases, and a whole list of other jobs."
Your head was swimming, there was so much to take in. This made you thankful that she didn't lay it all on you just as she was pitching the position a few days ago. You just nodded your head slowly. Mercenaries, huh? This part caught you off guard the most. You were expecting to be working more in an office-style as you did in the past; helping other corporate employees instruct the demolition workers on their operations. Was that just a coverup? This left room for confusion. You bit down on your tongue as it surged through your mind. Do you dare ask? You weren't disappointed, just extremely surprised.
"We already have a list in the making for you of some specific tasks you will do once you begin Monday. Once you get used to your position, you will probably find more things to add along to it as well. The easiest way to put it, you'll be a very busy woman." Miss Pauling had a minuscule smirk on her face. Her tone as she spoke was very factual too; this definitely was not her first time giving background on a job like this. "Oh, I should also ask you," her head cocked to the side just slightly, "do you know how to shoot a gun?"
Where you grew up there wasn't much need for guns. It was a very safe community, plus your family also weren't big-time hunters either. The only time you remember shooting a gun is at a range with your dad and some of his buddies when you were very, very young. "Uhm... Not really." You answered quietly. You looked down at the meal in front of you.
"You don't need to worry about it. We will make sure some of the mercenaries teach you. It's not a skill that is required, but it may help you greatly in the long run." Miss Pauling checked the time; 11:15. Her look turned back to you. "The base you will stay at in New Mexico is named '2Fort'; I almost forgot to mention. That’s really all I have for you for now. Some other details may come up as we get closer to headquarters. Otherwise, you should be set."
The two of you ended up sitting and chatting for another 15 to 20 minutes. It was then when you realized, outside of talking about work, Miss Pauling seemed to come off as a little more reserved or slightly uncomfortable talking on a more personal level. You didn't seem to mind, because she was nothing but respectful as you spoke. In part, you returned the favor as she talked. After some time the two of you paid, got up, and waited for your flight to be ready to board passengers.
It was about a two-hour flight. You ended up landing at a small regional airport in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Miss Pauling had a cab already waiting for the two of you after you got your luggage. He drove you out of the city and what seemed to be southwest.
The drive was long. It seemed much longer than the flight. It was roughly around three hours of nothing but minimal conversation between the driver and Miss Pauling and staring out the window at the dry desert scenery. You were wearing a gray cardigan, but by this time it was off as you sat in your white short-sleeved dress shirt sweating your tail off. The A/C was running, but it was overwhelmed by the sweltering heat from outside. Everyone seemed to look warmer than usual.
"Next time I'll have to find another cab..." Miss Pauling mumbled to herself. She held a clasped hand towards her chin. Her eyes looked out the window and a sudden look of relief washed over her. "Nevermind that, we're here."
You peered out the window. The cab passed a small sign that seemed to be barely holding on from the brink of collapsing that read Welcome to Teufort: America's Gravel Basket. It was a medium-sized town. Bigger than what you expected to be out in the middle of nowhere. Was this the place you were going to be staying in? It sounded similar to the place Miss Pauling described at the airport. By no time upon entering, the cab stopped towards the corner of the town square.
"We're here, ladies. Do you want me to wait here until your ride comes around?" The cab driver offered. The clock on the dashboard read five o'clock right on the dot. Miss Pauling shook her head.
"That shouldn't be necessary. Our ride will arrive at any minute."
"Well, then you two take care. Keep hydrated, it gets really dry around here this time of year." The cab driver advised.
The two of you thanked him briefly and got your things from the back. When the cab drove off as the two of you sat at a bench nearby. About five minutes passed before Miss Pauling let out a quick sigh. "What is taking them so long? When I say five o'clock sharp. I mean five o'clock sharp." She continued to cross her arms in a disapproving manner. You observed the scene around you some more.
At the center of town square stood a large statue of a horse with a small lengthy man crouched near it. All around it stood heaping piles of what was junk. It stunk horribly. The large wooden sign read Teufort Town Square City Dump. Certainly, an odd place to put it. Your attention rotated behind you. A little store named Mann Market had a light shining through the window and onto the bench. You got an idea.
"Well, while we wait, I can run in and get us some water or something." Miss Pauling shook her head.
"You can get something, I'm fine. Just make sure the water you buy is branded bottled water. The town's water system has been contaminated with large amounts of lead for quite some time now." That explains a lot about their dumping site. You went in and bought yourself a drink. Just as you returned near the bench, a white beaten up truck came chugging towards your direction. On the outside, the logo read RED Bread.
"It's about time!" Miss Pauling shot up from her seat with her hands to her hips. A sour look hung on her face as the truck grew closer. The two passengers in the window seemed displeased as they caught a glimpse of Miss Pauling's expression. A young man with a cap and headset sat in the driver's seat. He looked the most troubled out of the two.
The truck came to a slow halt. The passenger side door struggled to slide open. A man in goggles and a hardhat sat beside the boy, who had a small frown on his face. There was a moment of tension held in the air. The thick silence that sat with the looks the three exchanged each other. It was then the one in the driver seat spoke up in an awkward tone,
"Uh-... heyyy... Miss Pauling..."