Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 8
Arliss was pleased to note smiles appearing on the crew’s shocked faces following the bombshell about the abortion.
“You will be seeing a lot of Reverend Karsu in the days and weeks ahead. I’ve asked him to officially join my staff as a special advisor for the duration of the Kite crisis. He will be working closely with my husband and the CDC, as well as a liaison with the WHO, to coordinate our efforts. Not as a minister, but as a medical doctor. As a physician, and as an expert on public health care issues, he will be an invaluable resource in helping win the war on Kite.
“Now that my personal news is out of the way, a distraction that has no business being part of the political discussion, I’d like to reveal something that will give you all reason to hope. Over the past few months, there have been rumors circulating about a special ops team named the Drunk Monkeys. I cannot confirm nor deny their existence due to national security issues.
“What I can tell you tonight, however, is that part of those rumors are true. We have located some of the scientists from The List, scientists who were previously believed to be dead, and they are working on trying to formulate a Kite vaccine.
“Even better, they have made some breakthroughs. They have successfully formulated vaccines effective against non-lethal mutations of Kite. The problem is that the virus is rapidly mutating. The good news is that it is rapidly mutating toward less lethal strains. The team is literally working night and day in a secure, secret location. As soon as they have cracked the secret of Kite, I guarantee we will publicly be announcing that. We will also soon be making our scientists’ findings public so research teams all over the globe can collaborate. Once we have the website set up, we’ll announce that. It’ll take us a few days to get that done, and it will be publicly accessible as well so there is full transparency.”
Arliss hoped wherever Silo was that he was choking on his own tongue in outrage at that moment.
Would make my job a helluva lot easier.
“My fellow Americans, what I ask of you tonight is this—patience, kindness, and vigilance. Look after your families, your neighbors, your neighborhoods. I know that in recent years our economic situation has deteriorated, and that I haven’t been as strong as I should have about cracking down on reforms to help the common man.
“But believe this—once we have the vaccine for Kite and distribute it, it will not be on a richest-comes-first basis. It will go out to all of you, the people who have built this country and keep it running and without whose efforts we cannot survive. First responders and their families. Public workers. Doctors and nurses and paramedics. Teachers and store clerks. We need you, all of you, if our country is to rebuild.”
She took a dramatic pause, looking emotional, as per the script.
“We learned from the tragedies in Los Angeles and Barstow that we cannot bow down to big money any longer. I have learned that. Had people been more prosperous, able to leave Los Angeles on their own, better able to take care of themselves, we could have averted a huge loss of life. As President, I take that personally and vow to do better.
“Once we get through the Kite crisis, I vow that I will dismantle and reform the IRS from the ground up, by Executive Order, if necessary. The poor will no longer be the ones forced to bear the brunt of the wealthy’s whims. This country will return to its roots and core values of being a place where anyone who works hard can and should be able to get ahead. We will once again become a country where hard-working families of the middle class aren’t penalized for their efforts. We will also take a long, close look at organizations claiming tax-exempt status to make sure they aren’t simply political action committees disguised as churches. We will expose members of Congress whose votes are bought and paid for by special interests so you the people can tell them what you think of them and vote them out of office.
“What I ask of you now is this. Prepare for your family. Every spare cent you have, put it toward buying non-perishable food and other supplies. Band together, those of you who live in rural areas, and start community gardens to help feed each other. Make sure that you’re wearing face masks in public and if you’re sick, even if just a cold, please don’t expose others.
“There have been rumors of Kite patients being euthanized. I need to address those serious accusations now. The truth is, people who are in the end stages of Kite, who are acting violently and are a threat to themselves or others, yes. There have been cases in those instances where they have been humanely euthanized with po-clo to prevent them from harming anyone or spreading the disease. But as to rumors that people are simply being killed for being around a Kite patient? Those are fear-based rumors spread by people who hope to make a monetary gain from an apocalypse.”
Here we go. Arliss had to fight not to rub his hands together in anticipation or grin with glee. The next section would make Silo’s head explode, if the shot across his bow about not donating to churches and yanking his tax-exempt status hadn’t already accomplished that.
“Beware of charlatans who are out to make money off your misery. We are receiving reports of people and organizations who are capitalizing on the suffering and misery of others, trying to say this is some Biblical scourge. Well, it’s not. It’s horrible, yes, but it was man-made, traceable directly back to North Korea. They deliberately engineered Kite the drug and the virus in an attempt to use them as biological weapons. Unfortunately, Kite got away from them.
“Therefore, I’m asking you, anyone who’s trying to solicit your hard-earned money in return for some sort of ‘heavenly reward,’ turn your back on them. Your money needs to be put to use helping your family. If you enrich the pockets of those who are only interested in building their bank accounts, then you are part of the problem, not the solution. I’m going to let Revered Karsu speak now. He will address this disturbing issue.”
She stepped aside and Reverend Karsu nudged his wire-rimmed glasses up on his nose before taking his place at the podium.
Arliss had given him explicit instructions to appear as humble and down-to-earth as possible. To not go into preacher-speak. To not make it appear to be a sermon.
To humanize the issue.
In other words, to appear to be everything Silo wasn’t.
He nervously smiled at the camera. “Hi, everyone. I know this is…well, this is unusual. I was surprised when President Kennedy approached me. She asked me to address a few things, and I’d like to start with the issue of her daughter. We all do things when we’re younger that we wish we could undo. We’re all human. I personally don’t think my loving God will condemn someone for making a mistake. Especially when she was the victim of a predator who used her for his own gains.”
He turned and offered a kind smile to Tracy. “I think the sum of a person’s life and what they do with it is what matters most, not one or two actions here or there.” He turned back to the camera. “Secondly, I pledge to you now, as one of you, as an American and as a doctor, to do everything in my power to try to help defeat Kite. I’ve seen the evidence, and I can tell you, it’s looking very promising.
“But as President Kennedy said, you have to help us out. You have to help your family, your neighbors, your communities. Riots have to stop. What use is a vaccine if there’s no country, no citizens, left to administer it to? And the riots will cause not only Kite but other public health issues to multiply as well.
“We are at a very delicate tipping point in our country’s history. We are so close to changing the course of our world for the better, and we need your help. I’m not saying don’t contribute to your churches, but do so in tangible ways and at a local level where it will make a difference. Don’t send your money to a televangelist who doesn’t even know your name. Go to your local churches and contribute that money to their food bank or their public health ministries. Volunteer for them where they need it. Ask your local preacher or minister or religious leader—whatever your denomination—what they need to help your community heal and grow.
“And I ask
“By showing you care, you are living the teachings that you preach. The people are more important than the dogma. Our collective deities are more concerned with the survival of people than they are about us proving each other wrong!”
Karsu took a long, deep breath, a dramatic pause, before staring directly into the camera lens.
“We will beat Kite. I promise you, once it’s created, the vaccine will be delivered, free of charge, to everyone who needs it. It will not be restricted to certain classes, or held back from those who can’t pay. I also promise you that I will throw my efforts into making sure that all the countries of the world are able to access the research and get what they need to make sure they can start formulating a vaccine as soon as one is available.
“This country is on its knees, yes. But we are strong. We are determined. We are America, and that means we will lead the world in rebuilding a better humanity for everyone, so that everyone can prosper and flourish. This is only temporary and when we look back on this dark time, we will truly see how blessed we are to have survived it. Thank you.”
Arliss idly wondered how many marriage proposals the good reverend would get out of this. Probably a shit-ton.
It was time for Marcus and Tracy to step forward and keep it brief, Marcus doing the talking.
“I’m not good at this and haven’t had to speak like this before. I love Tracy, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help, put our energies into helping the First Gentleman and Reverend Karsu with getting Kite solved. We don’t want our private situation to be a distraction. We want to make sure America heals from Kite and becomes better than ever before. We love our country, and we will do everything in our power to help America survive and thrive.”
Short and sweet and to the point. Excellent. Just like they’d practiced.
Albert stepped forward. “My wife and I are grateful to Reverend Karsu for accepting this new role. With his qualifications, I know that our country will persevere. We will get through this. In a few years, once Kite is a thing of the past and our country is prosperous again for all our citizens, I know that you will see what a good decision this was for our country. Thank you.”
And that was it. Back to the residence.
Arliss fought the urge to skip along the way.
Maybe he’d get a report that Silo had a sudden aneurism or a stroke.
Wouldn’t that be a kicker?
He could only hope and dream.
Mike Carter, code name “Bubba,” couldn’t help chuckling as he watched the President’s speech on TV. It’d gone off like clockwork, and from what he was already seeing on Twitter and Facebook, people were eating it up. By far the excitement over the news of Kite breakthroughs was overshadowing the revelation of the abortion at least ten to one.
Arliss had just taken a shotgun to a whole lot of Reverend Hannibal Silo’s balloons, all at once.
Hopefully, the man never saw it coming.
Bubba was still going through the information gleaned from the church’s computer system. There was just so damn much of it and more coming in every day from the trojan he’d installed in the system. He’d sent data dumps to Lima for Pandora to sift through as well. Considering the special little snowflake reporter had been there at the beginning of all this, and she was damned good at her job, the least he could do was keep her involved.
The picture slowly coming into focus was a vast network of off-site charity organizations formed by the church and funded by them. Many of them overseas. As a non-profit, and considering the nature of their income, Bubba knew they had a deep mine of secret info that wouldn’t show up in all of the data.
His job was to try to figure out where the unseen veins of money led. Going by what they found from the LA Preachsearch Project, he’d already traced several fake corporate entities to Saudi Arabia. Those bank accounts had been frozen and the funds seized via a secret executive order, with alerts placed on them if anyone tried to access them.
The funds had already been transferred to black ops accounts that the Drunk Monkeys were using to run their OTG operations. The more of those funds they could pry out of the church’s hands, the less available “untraceable” money Silo would have for dirty tricks against the unit.
Bubba knew that Silo would likely try to deflect the negative attention being drawn to him by laying low for a while, making it critical that their team located Mary Silo first. If not her, at least the hacker responsible for posting the evidence. No doubt Silo would have teams trying to find the person to shut them down and get a bead on Mary.
That couldn’t be allowed to happen.
The trick would be convincing the hacker that they were fine with him or her continuing their attacks on Rev. Silo. It would keep Silo busy and keep his focus diverted from the desperate race to come up with a Kite vaccine before the church’s scientists did.
From the info Bubba had discovered by worming his way into the church’s St. Louis compound computer system, the destruction of the LA facility had set that research team back by months.
And their own team was now in possession of all those samples.
He still hoped to coax Dr. Julie Chu in from the cold, but knew that had to take a backseat to this more immediate issue. He suspected she was in either Cuba or Hispaniola, based on her server traffic. Sure, he could divert attention and resources to finding her. Unfortunately, if he did that, there was a high risk of someone he didn’t know about getting wind of that fact and delivering her to Silo before their team could get her.
Rule one of military ops work—never stir the shit soup before it’s ready to serve.
He felt certain the food chain in Arliss’ direct command thus far was secure. They’d cleaned out the CDC in Atlanta and placed three SOTIF medics as research assistants, as well as three doctors beholden to Arliss for black ops funding for projects they were secretly working on outside of a Kite vaccine. In addition, the entire SOTIF13 unit had been assigned as security forces, their CO now head of the facility’s security.
As far as Bubba knew, there were at least five SOTIF teams Arliss directly controlled that not even the President had knowledge of. Whether or not there were teams beyond SOTIF11-15 wasn’t something Bubba had time to contemplate, but it wouldn’t surprise him. Arliss was a well-prepared man.
Bubba didn’t know about the CDC’s other locations, if they were secure or not. Atlanta was the most important because of the research facilities. The bulk of their Kite work would be done there.
That’s where they needed the unfettered, secure, protected access for the scientists.
Right now, Bubba was laying low in a secure hideout in Chicago. The good thing was he could do his day job for Chicago Metro Media from anywhere. Considering his health status, the CMM had agreed upon hiring him that he could work remotely when needed.
Anyone checking on his network traffic assumed he was working from his apartment in Chicago, which is what he made it look like despite the fact that he hadn’t set foot in there since offing an independent contractor hired to kill him back in July.
I wonder how pissed off Silo is right now.
* * * *
Donna stood. “I’m sorry, but I’m not watching that.”
Her roommates looked at her. “How can you bury your head in the sand?”
Donna pointed at the screen where the President was about to give a speech. “I am an adult who pays her bills on time. I work long hours for decent pay. I pull my weight in chores around here. If I don’t want to listen to the crap going on in the rest of the world, I don’t have t
She headed to her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Grabbing her phone, she plugged it into the small speaker she had for it and hit play. When she turned the volume up full, the bouncy jazz music drowned out the sound of whatever bad news the President was handing out in the living room.
If she needed to know about it, she knew she’d hear about it eventually. If it was good news—doubtful—someone would tell her.
She flopped onto her bed. Tomorrow morning started her weekly grind again. She didn’t mind it, really. It was repetitive and boring in many ways, but hey, it was a job. Which was better than most of the people in her family could claim. It was pretty pitiful when her parents together couldn’t make enough money to afford even the most basic of apartments and had to live with her aunt and uncle.
Another reason to duck her family—she would not let herself get browbeaten by them to move back home and join them, to “pool their resources.”
In other words, shell out her savings to help them.
No thanks. She needed to be able to take care of herself, and she didn’t see her future as raising another generation of kids in that same damn house.
Would she like to meet a guy? Well, duh. She wasn’t a prude or a nun. She rubbed one or two out a week when she was alone in the apartment. She’d had boyfriends in college, of course, and made sure her five-year was replaced early, just in case.
Since she’d started working at the bank, her dating life had been fairly arid. Not by choice, but that’s just how it played out. She was choosey about who she dated because she didn’t want a jerk or a cheater or someone simply after an easy place to stay and food in their stomach. Her long hours at her job and the time she had to spend on busses getting to and from work meant she didn’t have a lot of time to socialize on weeknights, and weekends were her down-time spent with her two friends, or chilling out and relaxing if they didn’t want to do anything.
TYMBER DALTON SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Steady RainIce MonkeysOut of the SpotlightIndifference of HeavenAsk DNAContractual ObligationFlying MonkeysPorpoisefully Yours
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