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white lie coverWil isn’t happy with this mission, particularly because he’s limited on personnel. He doesn’t even know a lot of the people on the short list that Greyling gave him. He asks the advice of Penny, Ben and Ray to help him choose. He manages to piss off Ben by refusing to use Marc Slatterly. Ben has no way of knowing why Wil refused because the Colonel won’t explain his rational.

“Who else do you know on that list?” Ben’s eyes lingered on Wil a moment. It was as close to an apology as he was likely to get.

“Sheehan, Krall and Bennett.”

“Recommendations?”

“Sheehan’s a flake, but good as they come. Keep a finger on her, she’s fine. This kind of mission… have to say no. We don’t have time to babysit.”

“All right, so we book the other guy for communications. Wallace?” Ben made a notation. “Krall?”

“Best boomer in the business.”

“Steady hand?”

“Like stone. Seems to have plastique in his blood.”

Wil raised an eyebrow. “Considering what they did to us, would you be surprised?” Ben snorted in reply. “The last one, Bennett?”

“Wouldn’t be my first choice, Wil.”

“Explain,” Wil folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the wall waiting.

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 why 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, meenie, 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 was confused. Blinking rapidly, a slight flush rose 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.”

©2015 Dellani Oakes

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