Interlude: Observing a Reuniting (PRELUDE to 'The Harbinger' Raid)
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They watched the soldiers with the World Corps emblems open the back doors of the trucks. A slow stream of bodies emerged, and through his binoculars Tri-blade could see the smiles on their faces. A woman broke from the crowd that had gathered at the opposite end of the cricket pitch, and sprinted madly to a man and a girl carrying a stuffed toy animal. The trio embraced at the centre square and the crowd cheered loudly. Others took their chance and ran towards other people.
"The camera crews are getting their fill," smirked Aflima behind his set of binoculars.
"Yeah. A nice PR stand from that group broadcast to the whole region... Rosa does the count add up?" said Tri-blade.
The reply from another vantage point was quick. "Correct. 18 people including children were rounded up here in Vanuatu... and each one is accounted for by our count."
Tri-blade dropped his binoculars into a duffle bag and shrugged. "This lines up with what we're hearing from other jurisdictions. South Africa was to be the first, but for whatever reason they expedited the situation in Vanuatu first. Probably to cover their behinds if something goes awry in a more high-profile region..."
"Think there's something else at play, Tri?" asked Aflima as he dropped his own binoculars and started zipping up the bag.
"Since Day 1, bud," was Tri-blade's response. "While World Corps has had their difficulty with groups not aligned at the hip to BADGE... WMD the most prominent but also the more under-the-radar groups like Star Force, and even ours... when it comes to BADGE matters they've been playing high-level chess. Anticipate and pre-empt. I'm sure Director Nova is seething with frustration. The World Corps definitely has something else up their sleeve and we have to be ready."
Tri-blade grabbed the bag and the two of them walked away to their rendezvous point with Rosa and Ability Mage. In a few minutes their small aircraft silently glided away from the Pacific archipelago nation, and out of the sight of the World Corps crews.
"Update from our teams, Mage?" asked Aflima.
Ability Mage replied, "Macaia and Jake are standing by near New York. BADGE's old HQ location is at yellow-alert. No sign of imminent threat. Agents Aksoy and Squires are on assignments with BADGE. Neeta is holding things down locally."
"And the newbie?"
"He was still alerting various hero groups on AMA locations but as of three hours ago the call to pull back was made and his current location isn't yet known. He's been moving too quickly. Shall I try and reach him?"
Aflima shook his head. "Let him be. He works best independently. And lucky for him, his non-affiliation with an official league has meant that he's not on BADGE's radar, and assuming that World Corps has a copy of BADGE's data, won't be on theirs either."
"I agree," said Tri-blade. "Let's make our way to South Africa. Ping Krystal Fae, please, so she's aware of Vanuatu. Also Dr. Silver Strange Surfer, Starmaster, Furious Squirrel and Crossroads. Stay alert, team."
The aircraft picked up speed as it flew across the Indian Ocean.