Wil’s trying to put together a team-10 people to do a seemingly insurmountable job: overthrow a religious despot and rescue the imprisoned royal family. He’s not too happy about the circumstances, but even he has bosses to answer to. He’s started down the list & stirs up some ugly old memories-things better left buried.
Ben ran a hand through his short, dark curls, trying to verbalize his objections.
“Surly, argumentative, always wants to know why. In a damn fire fight, don’t ask me why, do it! If you live, ask me later.” He rolled his eyes heavenward, sighing deeply. “It’s enough to make you want to snuff him yourself.”
Wil frowned. “Is he any good? We need a heavy weapons man.”
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Ben reviewed what he knew of Walter Bennett. “On the plus side, he’s organized, expeditious, and prepared. Handles a thumper like it was an extension of him. He’s hard wired, but can use any weapon he picks up. Only weapons man I know who’s better is you.”
“Argumentative I can handle. The rest sounds like a go. No one else on that list has his experience.”
Ben shrugged. “Your call.”
“Thanks for the input, Ben. We need a monkey.”
“We have Penny.”
“Not her primary skill. I want someone who lives to climb.”
“Wil you sure you aren’t too close to her? Can you be objective?”
Wil’s glare was withering. “I’m being objective, that’s while you’ll find me another climber.”
Ben’s nostrils flared, then pinched in as he fought down his aggravation. This was exactly the attitude which had irritated him in the last mission. Ben knew Wil always had reasons for his decisions, he just never bothered to share them. In a sense, he was right. Although climbing was one of Penny’s skills, it wasn’t her primary.
“I don’t know any of the others. Use the eenie, meanie, minie mo method.”
“Penny!” Wil bellowed in the voice he usually reserved for the field. Penny dog trotted into the room, snapping a passing salute.
“What?” She looked annoyed and he wondered what he had dragged her away from, not that it made any difference.
He thrust the list at her. “Know any of those? We need a monkey.”
“I can be monkey.”
Wil shook his head. “You’ll be pulling back up with Ray.”
She frowned, but said nothing, her eyes scanning the list as rapidly as his own would have and he wondered what all had been done to her.
“Most of these names are meaningless to me, but this one,” she pointed to the last name on the list, “I associate with something.” She paused, staring just above Wil’s head and he could have sworn her eyes moved as if she were reading something.
Making a face, she blinked once and looked back at Wil. “Not that one. Pick any of the others.” She handed the list back to Wil, pushing the hand held computer into his chest.
“Why?” She had turned away, walking toward the door. Stopping, she turned her head, glancing over her shoulder.
“Bad karma,” and said nothing more. Squaring her shoulders, she huffed out of the room, back to whatever she had been doing.
Ben pretended to be terribly busy with something else and said nothing. Wil looked confused, blinked rapidly, a slight flush rising in his cheeks. He walked to the nearest computer console and called up files on “Emory, R.A.” What he saw made him less happy than before.
“Look at this guy! Every mission he’s been on in the last five years has ended in disaster.” Ben leaned over Wil’s shoulder, reading the information on the screen.
“Last man standing every time? Only one left of ten, last of fifteen… this sounds kind of fishy to me, Wil. Each was a team like ours, super soldiers. Isn’t that what the brass call us?”
“I have a bad feeling about this guy, Ben. But you know, I think his luck has run out. I want him on my team.”
“Are you crazy? We could all end up like those others with him last man standing again!”
Wil’s face went blank. “I’ll put him against me any day and bet heavily on myself. If he’s taking out our kind, he’s a traitor, just like Lil.”
Dellani Oakes is the author of “Indian Summer” available from Second Wind Publishing. Look for new sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf”, coming soon from Second Wind.