The Box

By @Shadowhunterprincess

Story for YallWrite Contest

Chapter 1

I was the only person on the bridge when the distress call arrived. As I took off running, I wondered where the rest of my team was. We were supposed to meet on the bridge for our extraction after the mission was complete, but so far, I was the only one to arrive. As I run back towards the area surrounding building, I wonder where my team is. They should have beat me to the bridge. As I get closer to the building, the distress call gets louder. Where is it originating from? The sound is piercing to the point that my eardrums feel as though they are about to burst. I’m starting to think this isn’t a distress call at all. How could they have known they were infiltrated though? There were only four of us, a skeleton crew. 

Before I can process my next thought, I see a flash out of the corner of my eye and dive just in time to not be hit by a fiery mass. Again, I wonder what is going on. I lay there for a brief moment hoping another shot won’t come, and as I begin to lift from my position on the ground, I see Jin’s body laying eight feet away. I barely recognize her from the blood covering her face that appears to be gushing from a deep wound on her head. Dead? How is she dead? What is going on? This was supposed to be a simple mission. Infiltrate the building, grab the box, and get back to the extraction site as soon as possible. What went wrong? 

Nothing from the intel we were provided with suggested this mission would be anywhere near dangerous. It can only be the box. The intel didn’t include information on what’s in the tiny box I now carry in my pocket, only that we were to retrieve it. What is it they wanted that has put my team in this much danger? Why didn’t they tell us about it? Or at least the danger they were putting us in so we could have come better prepared. Jin was the leader of our team, the most experienced and now she’s dead. Where are Fitz and Ryder? I clear the dust from my eyes and look at the chaos below. I search the ground for anyone. Finally, I see them. 

Somehow, they are together, though at no point were we to make contact with each other until extraction once the mission started. The same question keeps circling in my mind, what happened in there? I take one quick look at my surroundings. I don’t see where that shot could have come from so I take my chances, bound to my feet and take off running towards them. As I run, I scream for them, “RYDER!! FITZ!!” They can’t seem to hear me through all the commotion surrounding them, so I keep screaming as I run to them. 

After what seems an eternity, even though it was only a few minutes, I reach them. I train extensively to be able to run this fast so I reach my target, or my extraction under extreme duress if necessary. “Huntley, what’s going on? Where’s Jin?” Ryder asks confused and scared. “You guys don’t know? I was at the bridge when I heard the call. I thought it was a distress call so I came running back. I was shot at and then I found Jin, she’s dead, but I have no idea what’s going on.”

 “We need to get out here” Fitz makes a valid point. We’ve been compromised though how is a complete mystery. We had contact with no one, not even each other once the mission began. Our IDs were flawless. We were already inputted into their system. Everything was assured so that we would get in and out undetected. Unless…that box. Was there additional security around it that we weren’t aware of? Did I trigger some sort of an alarm? Then how did I get out while the others were trapped? Nothing is making sense.

“Let’s get out of here, but not to the bridge. I was there exactly on time and no one showed up to extract us, no one has shown up since then either. There’s been no sign of our exit and no contact from them either. We’re on our own, and until we know what happened here, I think that’s best. I’m not sure we can trust those that sent us in and now—DOWN!” Multiple shots are fired in our direction, we have to get out now or we’ll die too. We crawl for a bit before standing up to run and returning fire. Fitz is the best shot and takes out the most enemies while we run. Ryder and I just try to keep the stragglers off of him long enough for him to take everyone else out.

Once we reach the trees, we stop firing and run faster than we ever have before. We take short breaks as we run to catch our breath, but we have no faster means of transport, so we can’t afford long breaks. We’re on the move until dawn, when we find a hidden cave in the mountain we’ve reached and duck inside. We haven’t heard any people for hours, so it’s likely we’ve lost them, for now at least.

“Jin radioed over saying she was compromised and to run, but I went back for her,” Ryder tells us. “When I reached her location though, she was gone. I tried to follow the path left to find her, but only found Fitz.” Fitz continued, “I’d heard nothing, and we knew you were still out there, so we were making our way to extraction when you found us. Did you get it?” I slowly pull the box out of my pocket and hold it up for us to examine. “Here it is, with strange markings. What did they want with this?”

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