Prompt: There have been several prompts for the ball pit incident mentioned in Smoke & Mirrors, so here it is. Enjoy!
“Could you repeat that?”
Dex blinked at Sloane, not sure he’d heard correctly. He couldn’t possibly be that lucky. Maybe his partner was getting him back for one of the many many pranks he’d pulled since joining the THIRDS. Don’t get excited. It could be a mistake.
Sloane handed Dex his helmet. “I said, we’re heading to Brooklyn. A couple of drunk idiots decided to shift in public and wreak havoc at a kid’s birthday party.”
“Yeah, I heard that part.” Dex finished strapping himself into his vest. He could barely contain his grin. “I need you to repeat the other part. The part about where they’re wreaking havoc.” He took his helmet from Sloane. Come on. Say it.
Sloane let out a sigh. “Chuck E. Cheese.”
“Yes!” Dex let out a “whoop” and did a little dance. Best news he’d heard all day.
Ash shook his head in shame at him. “Of course you’re excited. Why am I not surprised?”
“How can you not be excited?”
“I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways I can respond to that ridiculous question, but I’m going to go with the fact that I’m not a man-child like you.”
Dex flipped Ash off, ignoring his chuckle. He followed Sloane out of the armory where the rest of their team was waiting by the BearCat. Hobbs was already in his Therian form, his eyes shut in contentment as Calvin scratched him behind the ear. Dex looked from Hobbs to Sloane and back. Did his partner realize what he was about to do? Should he say something? Sloane had to know. As the team climbed up into the back of the BearCat, Dex caught Sloane’s sleeve, speaking quietly.
“You’re going to send Hobbs in?”
Sloane looked puzzled. “Yeah. Why?”
“Dude, that place is filled with climbing, bouncing things.”
Sloane nodded. “I know. We don’t know how hostile these guys are, so I’m not sending your brother in there on his own with two leopard Therians. Also, climbing, bouncing things and your brother. Think about that for a moment.”
“You have a point.”
“I need to make sure this doesn’t get out of control. My other option is Ash.”
Ash loose after two Therians in a Chuck E. Cheese. Dex shuddered at the thought. “Point taken.”
Sloane smiled and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Relax. Hobbs will be fine. He has plenty of self-control.”
Dex followed his partner into the truck, and as soon as everyone was secured in their seats, Tony got them moving. They had no idea what to expect. The place had been evacuated, and Theta Destructive was on their way to clear the area and keep traffic out. When they arrived, they received a call that Theta Destructive was held up thanks to a traffic accident.
Tony cursed under his breath before addressing the team. “All right. Get in there, get it done, and get out. Beta Ambush has been dispatched, but we can’t risk these asshats getting out into the street before backup arrives, so move quickly.”
They all confirmed their understanding before hurrying out of the truck. Tony was right. With all the foot traffic, and street traffic, it would be chaos if two drunk feral Therians made a run for it. Quickly Destructive Delta got into formation behind Sloane, tranq rifles at the ready as they headed toward the entrance. Hobbs padded beside Sloane, waiting for the signal.
Sloane signaled for them to stop at the door, and they waited. Gingerly, he opened one of the glass doors and motioned for Hobbs to enter. As soon as their teammate was in, the rest of them followed Sloane inside. It was quiet. No sign of the two perps anywhere.
Hobbs’s sniffed the air. When he flattened his ears, and let out a low hiss, they all readied themselves. Dex looked around him, trying to catch movement from within the colorful tubes or bouncy play areas. Sloane gave Hobbs the signal, and their Felid teammate let out a roar that shook the rafters. The two Therians leaped out of their hiding spots and the chase began. Hobbs took off after them, and the two leopard Therians split up. Destructive Delta gave chase, following one of the leopard Therians as he ducked in, out, over, and under the play area equipment, a feat much harder to do when carrying tactical equipment.
“Split up,” Sloane ordered, taking off in one direction, while Dex went off in another, Calvin close behind. They rounded a corner and found a giant ball pit at the far end near the door they’d come in from.
“I thought they got rid of those,” Calvin said, as they slowly approached.
“Most of them did. The rest are on the way out. Man, I used to love those things.”
Calvin let out a snort. “Used to? I bet you’re just itching to jump in there.”
“You know me too well,” Dex admitted with a chuckle. From the corner of his eye he caught a flurry of movement. “Oh shit.” Dex grabbed Calvin’s arm and tugged him along with him as he ran. “Fall back!” They made a run for it just as the two Therians soared through the air into the ball pit. The air-filled container exploded, releasing a giant wave of colored plastic balls, knocking Dex and Calvin on their asses.
Dex rolled, spotted one of the Therians and fired three rounds of tranq darts, two hitting the perp in the neck. Calvin took the other one down.
Dex was about to say something when Calvin scrambled to his feet, shouting.
“Ethan, no! Someone close the damned door!”
Dex turned in time to spot Ethan leaping through the open front door after dozens of colored balls spilled out into the street, the place’s manager on the floor looking like he was about to pass out. What part of “wait outside” did the guy not understand?
Dex took off after Hobbs. There was no way he was missing this. With the perps subdued, Dex was free to take advantage of this epic situation. Outside it was pandemonium. Beta Ambush had yet to arrive, and the streets were littered with rolling colored balls. He pulled out his smartphone and started recording just as Calvin barreled out of the building and took off after Hobbs.
“Ethan, stop!” Calvin sped off, and Dex followed, leaving his team to take care of the rest. He couldn’t help himself. Calvin hauled ass after Hobbs who was swatting at the colored balls, unaware of the panicking pedestrians diving out of his way. Dex was laughing so hard his phone shook in his hands. Up ahead to his left, some dude climbed his Hummer.
Hobbs swatted a blue ball out into the street and chased after it. Calvin turned to follow only to have Hobbs swat the ball back onto the sidewalk. He was so excited, he didn’t even notice Calvin, and swept past him at such speed that Calvin spun and flailed. Dex could hear his friend’s curses from where he was. With some impressive footwork and balancing, Calvin kept himself from falling on his ass. His face was red, and Dex could barely breathe.
Dex moved his phone’s camera back to Hobbs, and cursed when he spotted the yuppie he was headed straight for. When the yuppie saw Hobbs, he sprinted forward, revealing a tiny old lady a few feet behind. Before Dex could warn the old lady, she looked over her shoulder, secured her purse under her arm, and bolted into a run that any athlete would envy. What came next Dex wouldn’t have believed if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes. The tiny old lady plowed through yuppie guy like she was a running back for the Giants. The dude soared through the air.
“Holy shit!” Dex had to prop himself against a car, he was laughing so hard. “Oh God. I can’t breathe.” Tears ran down his face, but he kept recording as Hobbs sped by, Calvin close behind. Hobbs smacked the blue plastic ball and it hit Tony’s boot, bringing Hobbs to a screeching halt. Calvin smacked into him, falling over Hobbs and onto his back on the sidewalk. Dex made his way over. He stood over Calvin, recording him. He waved down at him with his free hand.
“Fuck.” Panting breath. “You.”
Dex laughed, and wiped at his eyes. He stopped recording, and joined Sloane by the truck as Tony shouted orders at the newly arrived members of Beta Ambush while reporters flooded out of their news trucks.
Sloane dropped his head into his hand when Dex stepped up to him, grinning. “What was it you said before we came out here? Something about control?”
Sloane groaned. He lifted his head, his bottom lip jutted out. “Sarge is going to kick my ass.”
“Brodie! Get your ass over here!”
Dex patted Sloane’s arm. “Whatever you do, make eye contact, and just agree with everything he says. I’ll be here to kiss it better.”
“Thanks,” Sloane murmured before heading off to face their sergeant.
Several hours, and lectures later, Destructive Delta was back in the armory putting away their equipment. Everyone was silent. Mostly because Calvin was so pissed he was practically radioactive. No one dared say a word.
In the locker room, Dex was getting undressed when Calvin opened his locker. Plastic colored balls poured out, rolling and bouncing across the floor. Ash was the first to laugh, and Dex couldn’t help himself. He joined in along with everyone else in the locker room. So that’s what Ash had been doing when they’d been waiting in the truck for him.
“Fuck all of you,” Calvin hissed, grabbing his toiletry bag before slamming his locker shut and marching off toward the showers.
Dex picked up one of blue plastic balls, and put it in his locker as a little memento.
Best. Workday. Ever.