The story so far:
Alan Richards was worried. The team he had sent into the ruins of what was once known as Norwich had missed their last two hourly radio status checks. Of course it could be something simple like a faulty radio, or a poor signal from their current location, but it could also mean they were in trouble of some sort. Standard protocol would be to send a search and rescue team to their last known location after three missed radio checks. Alan stroked his prematurely greying stubble, before keying his intercom. “Sarah, this is General Richards, contact Team Three and have them prepare for a search mission in sector B. I want them ready to go in twenty minutes.” The missing team had a fairly typical assignment. They were to travel to the twisted remains of a steel framed building in the city, cut pieces from the structure, and stack them ready for transport at a later date. Without salvaged materials from missions like this it would be impossible for society to rebuild.
Alan had lost people under his command before. Salvage teams usually lost several men every year to accidents. Vehicle crashes and accidents during demolition work were the most common causes of fatalities. Some were less easy to explain. Six months previously an entire salvage team down in Ipswich had vanished without a trace. A search team had recovered their vehicle and equipment, but no sign of the personnel had been found, even after a week spent scouring the wreckage of the town. His son Steven was currently doing a leadership course at The Academy, and Alan considered the prospect that Steven may be assigned to a salvage team in a year or so. It was not a pleasant thought.
Alan remembered his first salvage mission, a trip to the outskirts of Cambridge to bring back sections of steel from the rail track. It was tough work, especially on such a steamy summers day. First they had to cut through thick brambles to get to the track, then they would cut lengths of steel to transport back. After they has been working for about an hour a pack of a dozen or so wild dogs came rushing towards them, barking and growling. The lookout man on the roof of their vehicle opened fire and the lead dog went down. Three more shots rang out and the dogs turned tail and bounded off back the way they came. Two dogs lay in an expanding pool of blood, and one of the salvage team was flat on his back nearby with the team medic treating bites to his left arm and right leg.
“General – Team Two have missed their third check in.” His assistant Sarah's voice snapped Alan's focus back to the present. “Are Team Three ready to go?” “Yes General. They are waiting on your order.” Alan considered the situation for a moment before keying his intercom - “Give them Team Two's last known position and tell them to check in every 15 minutes once they reach the search area, hopefully they will find everyone safely before it gets dark.” Alan knew that if the team were still missing after nightfall all bets were off.