Cassandra made her way back to her bunk and packed quickly. Her meager belongings barely filled a knapsack. She pulled a cap down over her eyes and made her way towards the armoury. She kept her head down and moved swiftly, taking advantage of the commotion of the bug out to remain unseen. The room was empty, the weapons still in place. She grabbed two hand guns, a shot gun and enough ammunition to take out a whole squad. She thought about taking something larger, but didn't want to be hampered by too much weight. She peeked out and found the coast was clear. Her peripheral vision caught sight of something; grenades and explosives. Impulsively she grabbed a handful, shoving them into her pack, making sure to include enough blasting caps. Explosives were useless if you couldn't detonate them. She checked her exit again,then walked purposely towards the door. She was almost there when a voice called out from behind her.
"Halt! Where do you think you're going?"
Cassandra fought the instinct to bolt. She turned slowly, keeping her eyes down, her cap low over her face. She kept her answers short.
"Orders are to bug out, Sir!"
She glanced up as Glover came towards her. She tried to remain calm. He looked her over, regarded the fire power she was carrying. He'd heard Pryor still hadn't returned, knew she was being blamed for it. He also knew her future with the unit was dim . Better for her to die on her feet than to live on her knees.
"Come with me."
Cassandra froze. Her flight response flared, she felt her muscles begin to tense. Glover grabbed her arm and pulled her forward.
"I said move."
Cassandra steeled herself for the assault that was certain to come. Jeffries wouldn't wait for them to reestablish their new base; he'd slit her throat here and now. She blindly followed Glover, only coming to her senses when she realized they were back in the armoury. He pulled the shot gun off her back and replaced it with a higher caliber weapon. He inspected her knapsack, then looked up at her.
"There's no food. How far do you expect to get without provisions?"
Cassandra shook her head. Was this a trap? Her gut told her it wasn't.
"I only need to get back to town. I figured I'd go back to the bar where I last saw Pryor and try to pick up his trail from there."
"Good enough place to start. Then what?"
"If he's alive, help him finish the mission. If he's dead, finish it myself."
"Do you know the objective?"
Cassandra started to answer, then realized she didn't know what for sure. Glover looked pissed.
"You can't complete a mission if you don't know what it is."
He thought a moment. Was there still a chance this cluster fuck could be saved? He looked at the girl; what she lacked in intelligence she more than made up for in determination. He cursed under his breath.
"Fuck it! We're losing our window of opportunity. Wait here until I come back. Don't get caught. I won't be able to save you.
Cassandra hid behind a locker of explosives and waited. Glover returned, armed himself, and then motioned for her to follow him. They made their way slowly across the camp, their journey tedious in their attempt to not draw attention to themselves in the midst of all the activity. They reached the perimeter of the camp, picking up their pace in order to increase the distance between them and the camp. The two of them moved at a fast march for several miles, reaching the edge of town within 45 minutes. Glover motioned for them to ease up; it was almost Zero Nine Hundred, and the town was bustling. Cassandra leaned against a wall, trying to stay upright. Her initial burst of adrenaline had worn off, the fatigue she'd been fighting during her interrogation began to pull her down into an undertow of exhaustion. She put her other arm out to brace herself against the wall, crashing instead into Glover's back. He turned and grabbed her, cursing as he steadied her, placing her down on the ground.
"When's the last time you slept?"
Cassandra bit her lip until she tasted blood in an attempt to revive herself. She shook her head and took a deep breath.
"I'm fine. Don't worry about me."
Glover looked around for a place for them to hide. He spied a small stable across the street; goats and chickens wandered around in front. Above the stable was a small loft filled with hay and straw. He pulled Cassandra to her feet, and steered her forward. He walked to the back of the stable, looking for an entrance to the loft. There was a hole in the ceiling. He pulled himself up, making sure they were alone. He leaned back down and motioned for Cassandra to raise her arms above her head. He pulled her up, and motioned to a pile of hay in the corner of the loft.
"Crawl in there and get some sleep. I'm going to see what I can find out around town. Where was the last place you saw Pryor?"
Cassandra struggled to remember where the bar was. She felt dizzy and nauseous.
"A bar on Baker Street called the Limber Nymph. A real slime hole. I don't remember any nymphs, though."
Glover shook his head and pushed her into the hay, burying her deep within. Minutes later she was fast asleep. Glover sat and considered his next move. How were they going to find Pryor? He concealed his weapon and pulled his hood up over his head. He checked the stable, dropping to the floor. A goat bleated his disapproval at the intrusion. Glover laughed, stroking the goat's head.
"Watch your tone, son. People get mighty hungry at the end of the day."
He patted the goat's side, looked around, and slowly made his way into town.