Grease Monkey(4)

By: Tymber Dalton

“What about Quack?” Niner asked. It was a little unusual for their CO to send out one of the men from a pairing and not the other on a recon mission.

Papa shook his head. “It’s only been a couple of days for Ak. I’d rather Quack stay here with her. She’ll be okay, but losing her brother and aunt the way she did was a shock. Rather not leave her alone. Lima, however, needs to be included on the recon team. We need his tech skills for this one.”

“We can’t coddle her,” Roscoe said. “I mean, not to sound like an asshole here, but Ak’s going to have to be able to keep up with us.”

Niner snickered as Pandora threw a half-cooked pancake at Roscoe from the pass-through window, hitting Roscoe in the side of the head with it. Upon contact it splattered pancake batter on him and the table before it started oozing down his face.

“You might not have meant to sound like an asshole,” the feisty Chicago native scolded, “but you just did. She knows she has to deal with it. But dammit, they were exposed, her and Quack both. She just needs another day to decompress and settle in. We can afford it.”

Roscoe peeled the pancake off the side of his face and stood to walk over to the window, where he dropped the remnants of it onto the counter.

Roscoe jabbed his finger in her face, but she didn’t flinch, which Niner gave her all due credit for. “Okay, for starters, snowflake,” Roscoe ranted, “no offense, you ain’t exactly the best judge of this. Might I remind you of that, Little Miss Didn’t Know Korean.” Her face went red, but she didn’t interrupt him. “Secondly, that was farkin’ rude, and a waste of a perfectly good panca—”

“And third,” Papa interrupted, “I’m the one who made the call here. If we didn’t have a secure safe house, yes, I’d be right there with you giving her the ‘suck it up, buttercup’ talk. But in this case, we have the luxury of being generous and giving her an extra day to deal with this.”

Roscoe grabbed a napkin to wipe pancake batter off his face. “Okay, fine.”

“Excuse me?” Papa said, arching an eyebrow at him.

Roscoe scowled. “Yes, sir.”

After shooting another glare at Roscoe, Pandora spoke up. “You mentioned something about sifting through information?”

“Yeah,” Papa said. “Bubba’s sending me a huge file today of more stuff he decrypted from the church facility’s computers. We need another set of eyes going through it.”

“What am I looking for?”

“Anything we can use to tie Reverend Silo to all of this. Or anything that might be helpful proving that Macaletto is the mole in Arliss’ command chain and tying him to the church or their operation.”

A wry smile quirked her lips. “So, in other words, you just want a miracle?”

Papa smiled back. “I’ll take all of them that I can get at this point.” His smile faded. “Bubba is sending Arliss the information on the bodies we found at the clinic.”

The most grisly discovery had been finding a locked refrigerated room with over twenty bodies stacked in it like cordwood. Each one secured in a body bag. ID tags on the body bags had corresponded to encoded personnel files in the recovered data. They’d documented their find with photos and video to send to General Arliss.

According to the info Bubba had decrypted from the facility’s records, the victims were volunteers who hadn’t successfully completed their “training” for some reason or another. They’d all been euthanized with po-clo. Apparently, it was how they’d culled candidates all throughout the process who weren’t performing to the program’s expectations.