"Now, you should all know what you are doing. If there are any questions, ask now."
Silence filled the room.
Clara nodded her approval. However mismatched her team was, they were efficient and hard-working. She wouldn't want to work with anyone else.
Evidently, Clara and Jasper had some sort of unspoken conversation as, without instruction, he disappeared into the shadows. Strange noises came from the back of the room: metal on metal, scraping and clicking, then skin on metal and a muffled curse.
While that was happening, George had been tasked with incapacitating the prisoner. He injected a strong anaesthetic into the man's limp arm, careful to avoid those eyes. Clara watched as Anthony and Jane, almost as one entity, attached an IV line and a heart monitor to the 'patient'. This was not an act of kindness to keep him alive, rather a safety procedure for the team. The man's eyes drooped, his breathing deepened. All the nervous energy drained from his limbs, leaving him limp and scarily lifeless.
All eyes turned to look as Jasper wheeled a rather strange contraption out into the harsh glare of the white lights. It was a bulky, clunky machine, on four wheels. At about waist height, there was a circular platform to which four screens were attached , facing outwards - North, South, East and West. Beneath these lay a maze of buttons and levers. Around the outside of the device were three seating areas, built for efficiency, not comfort. Jasper wore a rare grin on his usually stone features as he wheeled the machine round to the head of the table. His task done, he stepped back, hidden once again in shadow. Jane stepped up in his place. Her hands shook as she carefully cut away the prisoner's shirt. Anthony was by her side in an instant - taking the knife gently from her and finishing the job. He attached two electrodes to the man's chest, two to his temple. A switch was flicked and the first screen buzzed into life. The steady beep...beep...beep of the heart monitor filled the quiet room. Now that was done, they stepped back, looking expectantly at Clara
She looked at them all. George, inexperienced but interested. Anthony, alert and serious. Jane, dedicated and excited. And Jasper. Jasper concealed his emotions under a stone cold mask, but Clara had known him long enough now. He was proud. Proud that his invention was of some use. But also nervous, which was to be expected. What Clara didn't understand as she surveyed him intently was the reason for his nervous anxiety. He wasn't nervous about failure, but rather of what would happen to him if it failed. He believed he would be disposable, cast out and alone. But Clara would not let that happen, if only he could believe that.
"Right, you all know what is at stake here. The task we are about to undertake will be dangerous. However, the scientific and military rewards if we succeed will be worth the risk we face."
Clara checked her watch, jotting down the time in her notebook, the one which seemed to be attached to her always, worn with use.
"George, Jasper and I will be going in." She carried on over the top of angry and confused exclamations, having to raise her voice for the first time to do so. "I know it is different from what we discussed. But I need Jasper with me, as he designed this machine. Jane, I need you here, to keep control of everything while I'm out. Anthony, you will be of much more use of here, instead of worrying about Jane. We need you focused."
She turned to the last member of her team. "George, well, think of this as your initiation test. If we come out of this unscathed and successful, you will be fully-fledged member."
The explanation seemed to settle everybody. Anthony even gave Clara a small smile as he sidled closer to Jane. George and Jasper stepped forward. They followed Clara's lead as she sat herself down in the machine. Jasper was the first to decipher the tangle of wires and electrodes that sprouted from behind. Jane quickly helped him attach one to each wrist, and two to his temple, mirroring the ones on the German. The other two swiftly followed suit. A selection of buttons were pressed. Three people now worked as one mind, their breathing deepened and their eyes closed. The light on the screens turned from green to red, showing that the conscious minds of the three 'musketeers' were no longer in their bodies.
All Anthony and Jane could do now was
And wonder what the other three were going through.