Ice monkeys drunk monkey.., p.26

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 26

 

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting)
 



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  “You try to run,” Lima said, “we’ll hunt you down.”

  “I won’t run.” He pointed out the back door. “Where the hell am I going to go in this? Frankly, no. Besides, you guys want Hannibal Silo gone almost as much as I do.”

  “Almost?” Donna asked.

  “Well, okay. Sorry. Bad choice of words.”

  Donna and her men snuggled under an extra blanket. She thought she’d want to ride them raw, but she realized all she wanted to do was snuggle.

  “This was a good thing, right?” she softly asked. “Finding him?”

  “Absolutely,” Uni said. “This gets us even closer.”

  “Okay. Love you.”

  “Love you, too,” he said, kissing her.

  She turned to Victor, who also kissed her. “Love you, babe.”

  “Love you.”

  Inside, her heart was breaking. She’d be strong for them, so it wasn’t harder on them. It’d be hard enough on them anyway walking away from her. She knew that in her heart. She didn’t need them distracted worrying about her, or feeling badly for her.

  If this was meant to be, it would. And she’d try to take everything as it came instead of worrying about things that hadn’t even happened yet.

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Thursday morning, Kali Enyo huddled under extra blankets and quilts on her bed while a space heater struggled to keep up with the cold. Even the house’s central heat couldn’t keep up with it. The homeowners had given her their spare space heater and two more quilts to help. If it got much colder in her room, she might move into the living room, at their insistence.

  A frozen tenant couldn’t pay rent, after all.

  She was avoiding that though, if possible. She preferred her privacy. While now she could be around whomever she wanted, free to come and go as she pleased, she didn’t have to be around anyone.

  If she could make do in her apartment, on her own, alone, she would.

  The ice storm meant she wasn’t going out anywhere today, that was for sure. Which was a bummer, because she was supposed to go to her self-defense class, but a call confirmed it’d been cancelled.

  On the TV, she watched a news show.

  Kite and news about scientists closing in on a vaccine led the broadcast.

  She couldn’t help her smile.

  Good.

  If someone else got the vaccine before Hannibal could, it would take the wind out of his sails for his presidential campaign hopes.

  She was fine if someone else got one over on Hannibal before she did. It meant it would destabilize him, knock him off his game.

  Making it all that much easier when her time came to take him down. She’d be patient, too. Hell, took her forty years to finally escape the monster. A few more months here or there was fine by her.

  She sipped a mug of hot cocoa she’d nuked in the microwave. She found even a small pleasure like this such a beautiful thing, deciding what she wanted to have, when she wanted to have it.

  Freedom.

  She would take huddled on the bed in this converted apartment over the comfort of her old residence in a heartbeat. It’d never been a home. Not her home, anyway. It’d always been Hannibal’s home, decorated the way he wanted, the furniture he wanted.

  Everything he wanted.

  Well, time for him to learn what it was like to have things taken away, things that he’d counted on.

  Have his dreams taken away from him.

  However that happened to Hannibal Silo, she was fine with it.

  And she’d also enjoy this bit of freedom now, because she had no idea what would happen once she put her own plans into play. If she’d survive the encounter or be taken into custody.

  No matter what, she knew what she had to do.

  Hannibal Silo had to die, disgraced and dethroned.

  But die he must.

  Because no monster could be allowed to live.

  * * * *

  “You should go sleep.” Rajesh patted Julie Chu’s shoulder. It was early Thursday morning, chilly due to the cold front’s icy grip on the far south, but definitely not a fraction as bad as anything they’d experienced in the middle of winter in North Korea.

  She shook her head. “No. Not yet. Not until this round is done.” The teams were working around the clock now, taking shifts trying to keep the research going all the time.

  “The protein tests will be what they’ll be whether or not you’re watching them.”

  “I have so much time to make up for.”

  “How long’s it been since you slept?”

  She looked up at him. They hadn’t let her into the lab yet. Rajesh had managed to nap on the boat ride over from Cuba and grabbed a few hours of sleep while they were waiting on Julie.

  To his knowledge, Julie hadn’t slept since before leaving Cuba.

  The last thing they wanted or needed was a sleep-deprived scientist bouncing around inside a lab with active Kite samples.

  She sat in a chair just outside the lab, able to look through a window and converse with the team inside that way.

  He gently caught her elbow and helped her stand. “Come on. I’ll lay down with you.”

  “I need to get the test results.”

  “You need to sleep. They’ll wake us. It’s going to be a good hour or more before the results are ready anyway. That’s at least an hour of sleep.”

  “Where’s Liang?” she asked, panic breaking through.

  “He’s fine. He’s with Pandora in the kitchen helping with breakfast.”

  “Oh. Okay.” He guided her toward Canuck’s room where they were bunked. He was sharing a room with Sin and Q, as he was learning to think of his colleagues and friends.

  “We’re safe here, Julie,” he said. “You can sleep. Liang is safe.” He got her into the room and closed the door after them, easing her down onto the bedroll.

  “I can’t…I can’t…” She looked up at him. “I see them,” she said, tears filling her eyes.

  He nodded. “I see them, too.”

  “We would have died if we hadn’t done it.”

  “The guards would have killed us,” he confirmed. He made her lie down and he stretched out next to her, pulling her into his arms.

  “I can’t stop seeing them. I hear them.”

  “I know. Me, too.”

  The test subjects. They’d methodically chosen the sickest, the ones who were already terminal. A quick death by the newly engineered virus was actually a dark blessing for most of their first round of test subjects. Especially when the North Koreans weren’t giving out any pain killers for people with things like terminal cancer.

  Not that they’d wanted to play the Grim Reaper in the first place, but at least they’d been able to justify the early victims. Die immediately and relatively mercifully—especially those they’d euthanized in end-stage Kite with po-clo—or linger for months or years in misery.

  Rajesh wasn’t sure at first if she’d fall asleep. He’d already talked to Doc, who gave him a bolus with a sedative that would help her along if she wouldn’t or couldn’t fall asleep on her own.

  The last thing they needed was their best shot at a vaccine being sleep-deprived and near collapse.

  But she finally drifted into an uneasy sleep, her rest quickly marred by nightmares that had her whimpering against his shoulder. That’s when he let his sad sigh escape.

  He was firmly convinced if it hadn’t been for her son, Julie would have committed suicide long before now, or even have let their captors kill her.

  One of the smartest things their captors did was to make sure their pet scientists had a reason to keep working beyond protecting their own lives. When the scientists had traveled to North Korea, none of them had any clue they’d be working on killing the human race. They thought they were going on a humanitarian mission, to help with livestock research to ease hunger in the country.

  And when each of them traveled to North Korea, they’d all had one or more reasons to do what they were t
old.

  All of them had lost one or more of those reasons after Kite was released into the wild and into the world.

  If China hadn’t overreacted, sent South Korea and their own citizens stampeding away from North Korea’s borders, perhaps the infection could have been contained.

  If nuking North Korea didn’t work, it still boggled Rajesh’s mind that the US Government would think blowing up Barstow would do little more than blow in the face of a hurricane.

  Only in the case of Barstow, it appeared the military had stacked the odds in their favor.

  Unfortunately, to the same effect. It only eliminated the infection in that one place, and scattered people in all directions, many of them infected with Kite.

  It was a little over an hour when there was a soft knock on the door and it opened. Rajesh waved Canuck in.

  “She finally asleep?” she whispered.

  He nodded.

  Canuck smiled and gave him a thumbs-up. Which at first he misinterpreted. It took him thinking for a moment, processing Riley’s wide smile and adding a second thumb to the gesture, for him to understand what she meant.

  “Really?”

  She nodded. “Really. It’s reacting to the proteins in five different strains it hadn’t touched before.”

  It took him another moment to process that. A long moment. He finally nudged Julie, who awoke with a start, only relaxing when she realized where she was and that she was in his arms.

  Riley knelt next to the bedroll and grabbed Julie’s hand. “Good news. It’s reacting to five more strains.”

  Her eyes widened as she sat up. “Five?”

  Riley nodded.

  Julie let out a cry and threw her arms around Riley, bursting into tears as the women hugged.

  Rajesh sat up and waited, smiling, relishing this moment of celebration.

  Julie turned and met his gaze. “Five!”

  “I heard.”

  She hugged him. “Five!”

  He wrapped his arms around her and smiled at Riley over the top of Julie’s head. Riley wiped at her eyes. “This is…unbelievable. It’s not a vaccine, but it means we’re now going in the right direction.” She laid a hand on Julie’s shoulder. “We couldn’t have done this without you.”

  “You were almost there.”

  “No, we weren’t. Quit being modest. We didn’t realize how the protein chains were reacting. You saw the pattern.”

  “To be fair,” Rajesh said, “she is the one who engineered it that way.” He smiled. “She knows that virus DNA forward and backward.”

  Julie looked up at him with joy in her eyes.

  “We’re going to beat this,” she said.

  He nodded. “Yes, we are.”

  Riley stood. “Did either of you eat this morning?”

  “No,” Rajesh said.

  “Well, then you two take a couple of hours, eat, and nap. We’re starting the secondary test now.”

  “I need to get in the lab.”

  Julie started to stand, but Rajesh pulled her back and Riley put out her hands, preventing Julie from getting up.

  “No, you need to sleep,” Riley said. “Desperately. Eat, sleep, rest your brain. Papa’s got Liang’s schedule already set up. He’s learning about gardening from Pandora now, and he has a guard. You have no excuse. You’ve got at least eight hours in which to rest.”

  Rajesh smiled at Julie. “I’ll go get us some food and bring it back. And then you will sleep.”

  Already, he could see the adrenaline jolt of the wake-up and good news wearing off. She nodded. “Okay. You’re right. I won’t be of any use if I can’t even think.”

  “Exactly,” Rajesh and Canuck both said.

  He got up and followed their friend out into the hall, closing the door behind him.

  “She okay?” Canuck asked.

  He shook his head. “Worse off than most of us, I think.”

  She walked with him toward their kitchen. “Because of Liang?”

  “Yes. Hyper-vigilance. She’s exhausted. I’m surprised she hasn’t collapsed before now.”

  “This is great news though. It really is.”

  “Yeah, but if she can’t recover and get her mind fully into the research, it’s only a temporary gain. We need her back and focused on the task at hand.”

  “Papa said he won’t force her to send Liang away yet.”

  “He can’t stay with us. You told me yourself what happened in LA. Julie won’t be able to focus as long as he’s here with us.”

  “But will she be able to focus if she has no idea how he’s doing?”

  “She did before. He was safe with Q’s family.”

  “Yeah, but that was by necessity.”

  “So is this.”

  Riley crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the wall. “We’re looking at possibly another six months, minimum, before we have a vaccine. Even if this afternoon we were able to figure it all out. Can she last six months worried about him after what we all went through?”

  “I don’t know. I think so. I’ll do whatever I can to keep her going, though.”

  She hugged him. “I’m so glad you guys are safe.”

  “I won’t deny it was close a few times. Sounds like you had your own close calls, too.”

  Her expression darkened as she patted the handgun on her hip. “I won’t go through any more close calls. I’ll always save the last bullet for myself, if I have to. But no fucking way in hell will I let anyone take away my freedom again.”

  He held out his hands, indicating the station.

  “You know what I mean, Raj. This is freedom compared to what we had before.”

  He smiled. “Waldo.”

  They headed toward the kitchen. “Should have dubbed you Shiva, asshole. That was my vote.” She smiled.

  “No offense, but glad you lost. I already feel too much like the Destroyer.”

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Thursday morning, Donna awakened alone in bed to a winter wonderland outside the safe house that put the previous winter’s novelty of an ice storm to complete and utter shame. She smelled coffee and breakfast out in the living room. After pulling on her robe she made her way out there to find everyone else gathered around the dining room table and Chief working on breakfast.

  “So what’s the plan today?” she asked.

  “Nothing,” Omega said. “Everything’s iced in. There’s swaths of the Atlanta metroplex still without power. We’re sitting tight and staying warm.”

  “What about Lisa and Ginny? They’re out there.”

  “And they’re going to stay out there,” Uni said. “Not to sound cold—no pun intended—but we can’t risk our lives or yours trying to get to them.”

  “You guys have a helicopter. Can’t we get them?”

  “We can’t go get them right now,” Victor said. “I can’t fly the Gen 2 in this. It’s too icy, and that little airfield doesn’t have the equipment to de-ice it and get me off the ground even if it could. We have to wait. Not to mention, we couldn’t drive to the airfield anyway.”

  “Why can’t we drive?”

  “Nope,” Omega said. “Sorry. Those SUVs are all-wheel-drive, but they can’t drive on ice.”

  “What if the apartment loses power?”

  “You said they have extra food and water at the apartment, right?” Uni asked.

  “Well, yeah.”

  He took her hand in his. “Instead of panicking, how about you call them and check on them?”

  “You guys are the Drunk Monkeys and you can’t drive on ice?”

  Victor shook his head. “Not without the right equipment. Atlanta is a parking lot, babe. No one is driving. The roads are clogged. Even if we could get out there and drive off-road, we’ll still get stuck. They’re pulling people out of cars and abandoning them. Hopefully, it’ll warm up enough by tomorrow afternoon to melt it so we can get out there.”

  Frustrated, Donna called Ginny.

  She answered on the first ring.
Hey, girl. Enjoying your vacation?”

  “Where are you?”

  Ginny snorted. “Are you kidding? Lisa and I are in our PJs on the couch under a quilt and watching reruns.”

  Relief filled her. “You guys didn’t go to work today?”

  “Hell, no. We both got told to stay home. You see the news? Not even the busses are running right now. They said this was worse than last year. It’s like five degrees out there and slick as shit.”

  “You guys are all right, though?”

  “Yep. We have food and already filled the water jugs, just in case, but we have power and water. We’re good.”

  Donna sank onto the couch. “I was worried maybe you guys got stuck at work yesterday.”

  “No. Not even. Unlike some people, we were watching the news and ready for this. We both got out early and Lisa came and picked me up.” She giggled. “Although this week, I can’t blame you for not watching the news. You having fun?”

  “Yeah. I am.” She glanced up at Victor and Uni. “You have no idea how much.”

  “He seemed like a nice guy. Too bad his friend’s gay.”

  Donna blushed even though her friend couldn’t see her. “Yeah, really.”

  “Well, you get back to having fun. Love you.”

  In the background, she heard Lisa call out, “Love you!”

  “Love you both, too,” Donna said. “Please tell Lisa I said that.”

  “She says she loves you back,” Ginny said. “Have fun. See you, what, Monday night?”

  “Probably.”

  “Okay. Say hi to your hunk for us. Bye!”

  Donna ended the call and stared up at her men. “They’re okay. They’re at home. They said hi.”

  “Good,” Victor said, holding a hand out to her. “Then after we eat breakfast, why don’t we go cuddle and generate some body heat? Nothing else we can do, and nowhere else we can go right now.”

  She felt silly for worrying. She should have known her friends would be okay. “What about going through the data?”

  Uni and Victor turned to Lima for a ruling.

  He scratched at his chin. “I think you three could have some after-breakfast fun before getting to work. Never let it be said I got in the way of love.” He offered them a smile.

 
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