The call came out at just past four in the afternoon, and less than fifteen minutes later my team was up and ready to roll. Our target was an abandoned apartment building on the south side. It was supposedly being used by the Lions as a munitions storage, but I think Boss just wanted to get us out of the base. It had been a pretty boring day and the kids were restless.

Not that I cared much if some old concrete wreck blew; weapons storage or not, the place was in Lions territory and the blast would probably send them running in angry. We'd maybe get two or three, make a quick retreat, and then back to the base for the night. At least that's what I figured.

Ricky was waiting with the jeep, so I gave the order and my squad hopped, all seven of them wearing our namesake green uniform, all seven armed and excited. Captains get shotgun privileges, so I took the passenger seat and let Ricky drive. Just as we were about to pull out of the lot, a kid came running with an order to wait. A couple seconds later Hawk came sauntering out of the blast door, generally taking his own sweet time to get over to us.

"What's the deal, Hawk?" I called across the area. "You're wasting gas." I felt like saying more than that to the bastard but talking back to him or one of his level would get me kicked out of the Greens for sure. He called himself Hawk but none of us knew his real name, or who he was before Year Zero. Most of our orders came down through him, anyway, since Boss rarely deigned to talk to us.

"I'm coming with you," he said by way of explanation once he got within speaking distance. Something was bothering him; he wouldn't even meet my eyes. Noiselessly he pulled himself over the side of the jeep and sat down, then motioned for Ricky to start driving.

"Yeah?" I said as we motored through the ravaged streets. "Boss order this?"

"Not exactly." he said, which happened to be a lot less of an assurance than I wanted, but I supposed an Exer like him might be useful to have along, just in case. We drove through the rest of our territory in silence.

Ricky stopped the car about two blocks from where the Lions area started, because a patrol tagging us now would ruin the whole operation. One of my squad handed me a gun (just a typical blaster, nothing two-handed or anything) and an extra power cell, which I accepted with a quick thanks. Unless something went seriously wrong, I wouldn't be in the line of any fire, but it was best to be safe. Besides, I might drop in and take out a few myself for fun.

I chanced a look at Hawk, but he seemed to be just accepting his gear like a regular soldier. After everyone was set, they all looked at me and I decided some sort of talk was in order.

"All right, guys. We're heading in by pairs. You know the location, I've sent it through to your screens. Keep it quiet, but try and rendezvous there quick, kay? Speed is key right now." I started dividing them up by pointing at two of them and motioning them off. Finally all who were left were myself, Hawk and the tech guy, Cren, whose job was to stay behind.

"Uh..." I started, but the Exer read my mind.

"No problem," said Hawk, "I have other stuff to do around here. I don't need a partner." He knotted a colorful bandanna around his long blond hair and with that, loped off at full speed westward through an alleyway. Cren's radio crackled with a report from one of the teams that had already reached their position.

I jogged over to a fire escape, climbed casually up a few flights, and finally pulled myself up onto a long and narrow roof with a pile of rubble scattered across one end, probably the remains of some sort of decorative tower. It was time to watch the fun.