Ice monkeys drunk monkey.., p.4

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 4

 

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



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  And Victor could finally fly again, in command instead of co-pilot to Panda and her fixed-wing birds both great and small.

  The other pilot smiled at him, apparently sensing his eagerness. “You helo jockeys are crazy,” she said. “Those birds stop working, you’re jerking the stick on a really big, shiny rock. At least I can glide.”

  “The Zeus will glide about as good as a brick, it ever dies on us,” Victor shot back.

  “Ooh, someone’s dick got stepped on,” Chief joked.

  “Just be glad Bubba finagled us a helo,” Omega cautioned Victor. “We’ll need it here. It’ll save us time. A lot of time.”

  “Where do we pick up the vehicles?” Lima asked. They were supposed to have at least two of those, too.

  “They’re waiting for us at the other airfield,” Omega said. “The one closer to our temporary location.”

  “Why didn’t we just land there then?” Chief asked.

  “Because,” Victor explained, “we don’t want anyone knowing anything more about us than necessary. Like the Derring. The field we’re flying into is popular with helos that do a lot of service in and around Atlanta anyway. It will be less suspicious.”

  “You lost me,” Chief said.

  “Lots of executives who live in the ’burbs,” Omega explained to her. “Instead of commuting with the ‘common man,’ they use private and charter helos to fly them into and out of downtown Atlanta. Lots of the high-rises have helipads on the roofs.”

  “Most of them do,” Victor said. “Not to mention law enforcement and traffic helos.”

  “Oooh, so does that mean we’re upscaling it for a while?” Chief teased.

  “For now, yes,” Omega said. “We’re renting a private house. Once we finalize the arrangements for the satellite safe house, we’ll move there.”

  “Unless we need to bug out first,” Lima said. “No telling what we’ll uncover at the CDC.”

  Uni returned to them, a luggage cart in tow. “Found it,” he said. “We’re all set.” He tossed a set of keys to Victor. “It’s your show now, partner.”

  “Finally.”

  Panda smiled. “Have fun, guys. I’ll see you when you’re ready to come back.”

  They grabbed their gear, loaded it onto the cart, and moved away from the airplane. Panda climbed inside the Derring, closed the hatch, and a few minutes later the twin engines roared to life. Shortly thereafter she was taking off, heading south again.

  It took Victor fifteen minutes to do a thorough pre-flight check on the helo, go over all the external hatches, remove the straps and tie-downs, and make sure everything was ship-shape. While he did that, the others stowed and secured their gear and prepared to take off again.

  He hadn’t flown this exact model before, but he had over a hundred hours on one close enough to it. Sure enough, when he settled in the cockpit, strapped in, and went through the rest of his pre-flight checklist, he had no trouble negotiating the controls or instruments. He’d already plugged their destination into his aviation app on his tablet, which interfaced with the on-board nav system. He’d have no problems finding the other airfield.

  Settling the headset over his ears, he glanced over his shoulder. “What? No one wants to co-pilot with me?”

  Uni rolled his eyes and unstrapped to come forward and take his place riding shotgun. “There. You happy?” he asked as he donned his headset.

  “I am now.” Victor reached up and hit the starter, unable to contain his grin as the cylinders fired over and caught and the engine started spooling up. Through the windshield, he watched the main rotor’s shadow begin to spin over the tarmac.

  Less than a minute later, they were in the air and heading northwest. Their destination was a small airfield not too far outside of Peachtree City. Sure enough, when they arrived they found the two SUVs Bubba had obtained for them waiting there, the keys with the receptionist at the small terminal building.

  They also had a rented space for the chopper awaiting them. Their “company” now had an account at the airfield, meaning the bird would be fueled up and waiting for them whenever they needed it.

  Good ole’ Bubba.

  If it wasn’t for his guardian angel status, their mission likely would have failed months earlier. His past history serving in military intel under General Arliss meant they had invisible eyes everywhere. Eyes that Silo and his operatives knew nothing about.

  Uni drove their SUV while Victor rode shotgun. Lima had climbed into the lead SUV with Omega and Chief. They arrived at their temporary digs less than twenty minutes later.

  Victor couldn’t believe it when he climbed out. “You’re shitting me, right?”

  Uni grinned. “Bubba felt sorry for us. Besides, it’s only five of us. A lot less conspicuous. The owners of this house frequently rent it short-term to business customers.”

  Their current cover was that they were “security consultants.” That would encompass a wide variety of situations which might arise.

  The house was gorgeous, nestled in a quiet, upscale neighborhood full of large, sprawling oak trees that shaded the quiet roads. It turned out to have three bedrooms, for once giving them enough space, and three full baths. Plus a heated pool and hot tub. Fully furnished, too, all they needed to do was go on a grocery run.

  “Hot damn, it almost makes you wish you could forget about the apocalypse,” Chief joked as she sank onto the sofa. “This is fantastic.”

  “Echo’s going to be jealous he had to stay behind,” Lima teased.

  “Well, then he should have been a computer geek like you,” Chief shot back. She flopped over onto her side, her short legs not even touching the floor now. “Heaven. Absolutely heaven.”

  Victor exchanged a glance with Uni. The men were no strangers to sharing a bed with each other to sleep, but it’d been too damn long since they’d had a woman of their own to take up the empty space in the middle.

  “Dibs on the bedroom farthest from the master bedroom,” Victor said as he picked up his ruck and headed down the hallway.

  Lima groaned. “Dammit. Why didn’t I think of that?”

  “I don’t know, smart-guy,” Victor called back. “You’re the geek genius.”

  * * * *

  Uni was glad Victor had called dibs on the bedroom. Not that he wasn’t happy for Omega, Echo, and Chief, but he didn’t want to have to listen to two of the threesome getting it on a wall away.

  He followed Victor down the hall and stopped in the doorway.

  “Please tell me my eyes aren’t deceiving me, and that’s a king-sized bed?”

  Victor grinned, dropped his crap, and belly-flopped onto the middle of the bed where he did horizontal jumping jacks. “No waking up on top of each other for a few nights.”

  “Holy crap.” Yes, they were a special ops unit, used to and perfectly capable of operating in the roughest, most godforsaken terrain and conditions that existed on the planet.

  Didn’t mean they didn’t enjoy creature comforts once in a while. After months of sleeping on bedrolls, a real bed in a nice house where they wouldn’t have to wait an hour to S-S-and-S was a rare treat indeed.

  “Move over, asshole,” Uni said as he lay down on one side of the bed.

  Victor rolled onto the far side and waved. “Hellooo, over there,” he joked.

  “Don’t get too comfy, gents,” Lima called out from the hallway. “We need to go do some scouting.”

  “Five minutes,” Victor called. “Please?”

  “We have a little longer than that,” Lima said, now standing in the doorway of their bedroom. “Just no napping. We’re going to drive into the city this evening for a look around on the ground once rush hour traffic calms down.”

  “Why?”

  “I want to see the layout and confer with Bubba. See what kind of roof access he can get us to different buildings with helipads that are closest to our suspected locations.”

  “Is he even sure this person is in Atlanta?” Victor asked.

 
Yeah, or we wouldn’t be here. Said it took him a while, because the hacker is good at what they do. We need to bring them in.”

  “Why?”

  “Because they are good at what they do, and because they might be able to lead us to Mary Silo.”

  “Might?” Uni asked.

  “Well, likely. At least help us narrow the search. If we have Mary Silo, combined with all the evidence Bubba has pulled from the church’s servers, it’ll seal Silo’s doom so Arliss can get him out of our way and have him taken out by secret executive order, if necessary. Otherwise, they try arresting him and pressing charges, he’ll simply slide his slimy way free via the legal system.”

  Uni and Victor exchanged a glance. “I don’t understand why we’re waiting,” Uni said. “Wouldn’t it just be easier to go kill the fucker? Take him out with extreme prejudice? We are pretty good at doing that. It’s kind of our gig.”

  “It would normally,” Lima agreed. “Except Bubba is worried about a possible failsafe.”

  “Like what?”

  “Like maybe releasing more Kite virus into the wild.”

  “Shit,” both men said.

  Lima nodded. “Shit sandwich times infinity. Bubba and Arliss want all our ducks in a row for when the scientists come up with a vaccine. Push the vaccine out to the world as fast as possible to as many people as possible, and at that point take Silo down in whatever way possible. But not before, if we can help it. Unless Mary Silo knows for sure whether or not Silo has a failsafe in place. Another reason we need to find her.”

  Uni sat up. “So much for enjoying this assignment. Can we at least grab chow in a real restaurant tonight?”

  “I think we can arrange that,” Lima said.

  * * * *

  Uni actually was still looking forward to this assignment. He wanted to get a feel for the terrain since they’d be spending a lot of time in Atlanta at the CDC. Lima had been put in charge for this mission, even though Omega outranked all of them. Uni and Omega would also use this opportunity to give Bubba boots-on-the-ground feedback to help get their CDC mission logistics confirmed.

  After grabbing showers and changing into civvie clothes, they climbed into the SUVs and headed toward downtown. Victor drove this time so Uni could study maps on his tablet.

  “So if we catch this guy,” Victor said, “we do…what, exactly, with him?”

  “Or girl,” Uni said without looking up from the tablet. “Might be a woman. Would make sense with the outrage they’re stirring up about how Silo treated his wife.”

  “Doesn’t answer my question.”

  “We inform them that their only option is to accept our ‘assistance.’”

  “Or?”

  “Or we deliver them to MacDill and they end up sitting naked inside a windowless room somewhere until they decide to help. There really isn’t another option. Once we locate them, they’re coming with, like it or not.”

  “Ah. Just wanted to know.”

  “We’re going to try the altruistic approach first, of course. Promise them safety, and that they are allowed to continue selling the videos and making money off them. That we’ll even feed them more info to help sweeten the pot, and offer them both protection as well as a secure location to work from.”

  “And if that doesn’t work, we cuff and stuff them?”

  “Right.” Uni swiped through a map page on his tablet before he looked up and glanced around. “You’re going to get to do a lot of flying when we kick the CDC portion of the festivities into action. You realize that, right?”

  “Damn, I hope so. I’m sick and tired of sitting around. I need to be doing what I’m good at.”

  “The CDC has three helipads on their research facility building. Once we are at that point, you’ll be flying personnel back and forth directly from the satellite safe house to the CDC.”

  “What? Really?”

  “We’re looking for a large, isolated place. There are several industrial complexes and even a couple of farms we’re checking out. Bubba’s trying to figure out the best way to go.”

  “What happened to not being conspicuous?”

  “Won’t be conspicuous once we set things up right. Choppers fly into and out of the CDC every day now. Bringing in personnel, supplies, samples, things like that. It’s our end we’ll have to nail down.”

  “They’re not moving all the research up here, are they?” Victor asked.

  “No. We don’t want to give up the Florida safe house. But we need a closer proximity to make it easier to transfer personnel, data, and results to the CDC.”

  “Is Arliss sure it’s safe now? Did they get all of Silo’s moles out of the CDC?”

  “That’s above our pay grade,” Uni said. “I can only hope so and go by what Bubba’s told us. He hasn’t steered us wrong yet.”

  Chapter Six

  Ali Xavier, known as Ax to his hacker buddies, stared at his laptop screen. This Saturday morning, he sat perched in a different coffee shop than he normally used during the week. After he finished here, he’d have to go put in ten hours at his day job, doing systems admin for a beer bottling plant.

  He was good at hiding his electronic footprints. But with the tension amping over each item he posted online about Reverend Silo, he knew people would likely be coming after him.

  He couldn’t risk being found.

  As an extra precaution, he’d even switched to posting the items from an old laptop he’d purchased from a pawn shop, hacked into the BIOS and motherboard, and changed its MAC address so it couldn’t be traced back to him.

  Making sure Mary Silo stayed safe was his top priority. He’d feel horrible if this was tracked back to her and her location in St. Louis. Even he didn’t know exactly where she was, and he didn’t want to know.

  He couldn’t reveal what he didn’t know.

  He might not have been able to do anything to help his parents, but he wouldn’t let Hannibal Silo’s goons kill anyone else if he could protect them. He liked Mary, from what he’d gotten to know about her. She was a little older than his own mom would have been had Hannibal Silo not had his parents murdered.

  Okay, yeah, he’d admit he had more than just the obvious reasons for wanting Mary to succeed. He didn’t have a mom anymore. With Aunt Cora dead, there was no one else who shared his soul-deep loathing of Rev. Hannibal Silo except Mary.

  Excuse me, Kali.

  Yes, her newly chosen name had made him giggle. He’d looked up the meaning.

  So fitting.

  He hoped she killed the guy. He wouldn’t mind helping her with that chore, either. From what he’d conversed with her via e-mails and chat, he could tell her rage at the man burned even more brightly than his own.

  As well it should, based on the nausea-inducing videos and audio she’d given him, no strings attached other than helping her stay hidden until she was ready to reveal herself. Ax was free to profit—with her blessings—from the footage, and she would sign any affidavits or releases he needed to help prove their authenticity.

  Hannibal Silo was a monster of the worst kind. Silo believed he was entitled to fleece people and rule them at his will. He wasn’t doing God’s work. He was the very same false Messiah he claimed to warn people about.

  Not that Ax believed in that stuff. Any faith he might have had in a higher power died the night his parents lost their lives. No loving God would have let someone like Hannibal Silo take the lives of two good people and go about getting richer in the wake of their deaths.

  Ax flexed his fingers and shook his hands out. He’d already had three energy drinks that morning, needing the extra caffeine to keep him going. Glancing around the coffee shop over the top of his cloth surgical mask, he studied the other patrons before he started typing.

  Today there were several easy marks to choose from, including two who used password as their actual password.

  Frankly, they deserved it for him to piggyback through their connection to get onto the Internet if they were that lazy.

/>   Grateful for the surgical mask that hid his smile when he logged into his MacCoin exchange account, he nearly giggled.

  Over ninety thousand dollars had been deposited into his account overnight by three different news agencies seeking permission to use some of the clips and to access the longer versions.

  Each of them promising more money if he could deliver more evidence. He suspected it wouldn’t take much to get a bidding war going between them for exclusive rights.

  He quickly transferred the money several times before converting it into US dollars and dropping it into a secure offshore account. Then he logged into another Dark Web anonymous server and made it look like he was sending the video files from a connection in the UK.

  That done, he quickly dropped off, logged out of everything, and packed up to leave. He didn’t want to hang around any longer than necessary. No sense taking chances. Part of him wanted to release a lot more evidence to the world, but he was realistic. If he released it all at once, the story would die down, buried beneath the growing Kite epidemic and other world troubles.

  If he dribbled it out too slowly, no one would care because of the growing Kite epidemic and other world troubles.

  This was a delicate balancing act, meant to squeeze as much money and attention as possible out of the evidence. So far, it seemed to be working. He knew an interview with Silo was supposed to air on one of the networks’ morning news shows tomorrow morning.

  Perfect timing for more evidence to see the light of day.

  As he thought about his rapidly expanding nest egg, he mentally thanked his Aunt Cora for her faith in him for all those years about what he’d said he thought happened to his parents.

  Because of her, he hadn’t given up.

  And because of her faith in him, he would get vengeance for his parents.

  * * * *

  When Ax returned that evening to the apartment he shared with his two older brothers, he found neither of them home. Likely both either taking overtime or working a night shift. He didn’t keep track of them any more than they kept track of him. As long as everyone chipped in for rent and expenses the way they were supposed to every week, that was all that mattered.

 

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