"Grim are you sure? Soldiers kill people. He's killed people. He probably won't like us bothering him..."
"Jack, do you want to wait in the van?"
"Ok. I'll be back in ten minutes. With the soldier."
Grim walked up the driveway as Jack got back inside the van. Jack watched her as she pressed the doorbell and waited for an answer. Jack wished he was like Grim. She was fearless, kind, confident. Not like him. She was everything he wasn't and everything he wished he could be.
Jack opened up his laptop. He liked computers, he was good with computers. Codes and things. Grim didn't. That made him smile a little, the fact that he could do something Grim couldn't. She was still better and braver than him in all respects but when it came down to maths and logic and computers, he was a genius.
He looked up. Grim was still standing waiting outside the house. It was a big house. The soldier who lived inside must be very well off, Jack thought.
Knock knock. No answer.
The door opened to reveal a tall, well built man with red shoulder-length hair, a dark green tank top and two prosthetic legs.
"Sgt. Seth Daniels?"
"Nobody calls me Sargent anymore. It's just Mr Daniels."
"Mr Daniels then. My name is Rachel Reaper, I work for the government." Grim extended a hand which the soldier shook tentatively.
"I believe you knew my father, Mr Daniels. A John Reaper?"
The soldier was taken aback and his eyes squinted as he studied the face of the girl before him. Same eyes, bone structure, same irritating intrusiveness.
"John Reaper was my commanding officer, a good man. He saved my life, many times."
"I know. He spoke of you a lot. Actually he's part of the reason I'm here. Can we talk?"
"We're talking right now."
"I don't really let people inside."
"Please? It's important."
The soldier let out a sigh and nodded. He led Grim into the living room. A big American flag was pinned to the wall, in fact the whole room was very patriotic. Medals lay neatly displayed on a glass shelf above framed photos of Mr Daniels and other soldiers.
"Take a seat." Mr Daniels gestured towards an armchair.
"Thank you, but I prefer to stand." Grim leaned against the wall as the soldier sat down.
"So what's this about then Miss Rachel Reaper?"
"Please, call me Grim."
"As in Grim Reaper? Catchy...."
"I like to think so."
"Hang on..." The soldier squinted his eyes again and looked at the girl properly,
"Ten years ago, I was deployed to an unknown base for a recovery mission, they mentioned how the base had been raided. How one person cleared the way for us, saved hundreds of girls trafficked from Africa. We were just a clean up job. Apparently this person had quite a reputation, in and out without a trace, all over the world. They didn't tell us much apart from they were ex-CIA code-name 'The Reaper'."
"I prefer Grim."
The soldier stood up to face Grim and then he saluted her. She saluted in recognition.
"It's an honor, Ma'am. Really. And you're John's daughter? He must be so proud. But you look so young!"
"I'm 26, the Trafficking Rescue was my first mission. I was only 16. But I only have 5 minutes, my colleague is waiting in the van. It's about my father."
"Why, is he in trouble?"
"I don't know. He joined the CIA shortly after he left the Army. I left shortly after he joined. Last month he went on a mission and went MIA. Haven't heard from him since. A rescue team went in, they went missing too. Nobody in the government can be trusted anymore; I'm going in myself and I'm putting a team together. I need you...Dad spoke very fondly of you. He trusted you with his life. I need your help to find him, get him back."
"What can I do? I'm not even a soldier anymore. And these legs? Well I'm grateful to have them but I can't run, not like I used to. I used to be great at the obstacle course...I wouldn't be much use to you."
Grim nodded in the direction of the soldier's prosthetic legs.
"No, but like I said, I'm putting a team together. A team of people with 'special' abilities lets say. And you soldier, are definitely special. As for your legs, I have something waiting for you at our base. And an obstacle course! You may not think you're much use but you could be. And we could be to you."
The soldier nodded and looked sadly at the medals on the glass shelf.
"Soldier look at me," The soldier turned his head, looking into Grim's eyes, "those medals over there? You got them for a reason. You lost friends out in the line of duty but that doesn't make you any less of a hero. And maybe you couldn't save them, but you can save my Father. Please."
The soldier walked off suddenly into another room and when he came back he was wearing an old rusted army helmet on his head and had a duffel bag on his back.
"Ma'am it would be an honor. Count me in."
Grim took the soldier to the van where Jack was waiting impatiently. He saw Grim and the soldier beside her and he smiled. She did it. He got out the van and waved to her. She acknowledged him with a smile.
The soldier stared at the boy who was now staring back at him. He was fairly well built, respectable muscle with blonde dreadlocks and a fairly dorky demeanor, he was a fully grown man about 20 and yet he was a child. And the way he looked to Grim, almost dependent on her.
"You're a soldier." The boy said to him.
"I was a soldier yes."
"Did you ever kill? Soldiers kill people, have you ever killed a man?"
"Hey! Jack, don't be rude. Show some respect." Grim said sharply. Jack flinched and looked down sorrily.
"No it's okay. I did kill people yes. But they were bad people. Bad soldiers. Good soldiers protect people, these soldiers I killed weren't protecting people, they were hurting people."
"So you were a good soldier, is that it?"
"I tried to be."
Jack nodded silently then smiled and extended a hand.
"I'm Jack. No last name, just Jack."
"Nice to meet you 'Just Jack', I'm Seth. Seth Daniels." he shook Jack's hand and looked over at Grim who was leaning on the van, watching the both of them. "Sargent Seth Daniels."
Grim gave a half smile then opened the van door.
"Get in. We've got things to do."
Jack hopped in the front next to Grim and the soldier climbed into the back, throwing his duffel bag onto the seat beside him. Grim started the van and they set off for a six hour journey into the country. It was long and tedious and slightly awkward. Jack asked the soldier a lot of questions whilst typing into his laptop. He was 'profiling' he said, making a record. The soldier was very patient with him and answered his questions but he was getting fairly restless.
"Right, we're here." Grim pulled up into the driveway of a mansion. It was huge. Bigger than anything the soldier had ever seen. Grim led the way as Jack and the soldier followed her through the mansion and into a lift. Jack pushed the down button and sure enough they started going down. The soldier wasn't keen on small spaces, panic rose through his chest and he felt his breathing hasten. His face got hot and he started to hyperventilate. Then he felt something. Grim held his hand. He turned to look at her but she stared straight ahead.
"Breathe Seth. You're okay soldier." She said, still holding his hand. He nodded and breathed slowly. He was okay..he was okay.
The lift stopped and the doors opened. Grim let go of the soldier's hand and turned to face him.
"You good?" Grim put a hand on his shoulder and he gave a short nod, "Good. Step this way."
Grim stepped out of the lift and Jack followed loyally before running off somewhere. The soldier looked around wide eyed. This was no ordinary basement. This was a secret base, like something out of the comic books he read as a kid. Screens everywhere, metallic walls and floors, boards full of numbers and diagrams he didn't understand and just like Grim had said, an obstacle course, just like the one they had at the training base back in the army.
"It's modelled on the Batcave!" The soldier heard Jack call from somewhere in the room. He smiled, it did remind him of the Batcave.
"So are you supposed to be Batwoman, ma'am?" The soldier laughed and Grim smirked.
"Kind of. He was a superhero without any real superpowers. Just like us. Everybody! Line up! Time to meet the team."