“So you’re headed to Montana? Lots of good places to lay low there.” Captain Maerteens asks through the drivers window of the dually.
“Yes. I have a few friends there still. Some throwbacks to the Clinton days. Figure we will hide there for the winter, retool and regroup . SAC Spencer rattled me, won’t lie.” Says T.
“Hell T, she rattled me. And she wasn’t aiming at me.” Agrees the captain. “Anyway, you guys did good here even if we got off to a rough start and had such a strange ending. I pulled together 3 grand for you guys though. That should get you to Montana and settled in for the winter.” He says, as he hands an envelope to T.
“Thanks Cap, its a lot more than we asked for but very appreciated, you know how to get ‘hold of us should need arise. I only ask to wait some. Don’t put word on the network just yet. We need to fade,not just up and vanish. ”
“Gotcha. Take care T, you as well G. Maybe we’ll meet again. Time will tell.” The Captain then gives us a salute and turns back to his tent.
T puts the truck in gear and starts pulling down the trail headed to the main road. G just stares straight ahead, silently chewing his lip. The energy from him is like that of a child caught red-handed, just awaiting the punishment: nervous and anxious at the same time.
Once on the pavement, T looks over at G and chuckles, “just waiting for me to drop the hammer on ya, ain’t ya?”
“Like you aren’t gonna? I’ve been waiting ever since my wheels touched down. Been afraid I’d have to scoot around on a creeper board cuz my ass would be too sore to sit in my chair. I fucked up T, I know it and I don’t know how to make amends for it. To you at least, I could care less about IceCube agent Carlyle or Spencer. Brrr! Just thinking about her gives me chills”
“I hear that. Hell, at one point on the way back from there, I thought about getting you in the air and going back to wipe that trailer off the map. She’s dangerous, very dangerous.”
“Why didnt you have me do that? I’d’ave happily smeared her and her icey buds.”
“Why not? Ok,,I’ll bet ya lunch that the trailer we were negotiating in, wasn’t there 5 munutes after we pulled out. Ya wanna bet on that? ”
G pauses only a second and replies”No, you’re right of course, and I would lay good money that if we went looking for her flightline we would never find any tarmac like she stated.”
“Exactly. People like her will stay fluid and thats not necessarily a bad thing to be. Look at us for example, always moving around, staying fluid.”
“Yeah. It gets old though. ”
“I completely agree. But people like Andrea back there are hardwired for it; I don’t think she could imagine settling down let alone doing so.”
G sits back and sighs. “Well, I’d like to get this ass ripping I know you’re all geared up for, so go ahead, lets get it over with.”
Again, T chuckles. Under his breath, ‘ass-ripping, tha’s funny,‘ “aint gonna chew on ya G. Fact is, if you hadn’t kicked that off, we wouldnt know what we know, and thats why I have forgiven you. Plus, we do know a few more things about our little bird back there that we didn’t know before, as well as some weak points that need addressed before we kick this back off. ”
G just looks at T , kind of wide eyed.
T chuckles again “I also learned that there is a time and place to smack you upside the head, BEFORE you shoot from the hip. No worries, I will have my eyes wide open from here on out.”
G gives a small grin, “yah, that whole fat lip of mine, along with my attitude of ‘git-r-dun’ . So,now that we can talk: Montana? You’ve never mentioned that that before.”
“Because we aint goin’there. But since you asked, its time to crunch ideas with you. I hate to say it, but for a time, I think ‘WE’ arent going anywhere. I am thinking of having you hole up with some friends of mine, do some training and research on things, while I head off in another direction doing a little hunting and intel gathering. What do you think?”
“Practical, prudent, and I don’t like it. And that means, to me, that’s probably the best way to go. You can lay a false trail or something, they will be looking for the pair of us and we won’t be a pair to be found. Ok. But what training and research on my end do you want done? ”
“Your little sky dance with a blackhawk started something in my brain, that and some of what you told the Captain about speeds of certain airframes over others. I want you to figure out what fighter jet you would prefer, and then get on the simulator and learn it inside and out.”
“Ooh,,,. Only problem I see there is, sims are only so accurate, and reality is always just different enough to goose you when the chips are down. And, we would need a place to build. And have to work together. And-”
“Ok, stop ripping it down before its built. I have an idea here and it has merit, don’t you think? ”
” Oh yeah, plenty of merit, but I am not seeing what you are seeing so I will remain the cynic for now. Like you say, ‘your idea is thought out, now sell me on it.'”
“From the mouths of babes,,,,” T mutters.
“I heard that. ” G says, laughing.
“Alright, heres what I see. We need better vision capabilities, right?”
“In case of contacts, we need more speed?”
“And protection. Speed and protection or armor or something.”
“Noted, but speed is a protection in itself as well.”
“And right now we need to be on separate tracks to confuse our hounds.”
“No doubt about that.”
“So, we will go to Tucson, and I will make some calls, and we will figure out rhe next move then. But I am thinking about us renting another warehouse space and ditching this rig. Its too big and obvious. We can replace it with something else when we get ready to head out again.”
“And its not like either of us will need it for the next couple of months. I agree with you there. Plus I wouldnt mind settling down for a spell. A real bed even, not some rack.”
“With the warehouse, you could have the Sim wired to your flight rig. That should make the transition easier. ”
“And what to do with Damocles? We aren’t going to drop her, are we?”
“No. She is perfect for ground support, which is what we intended for her. Granted, there are some things we need to tweak, but, overall, good to go.”
“Good.” G says, sounding very relieved.
“So, Tucson, and you will stay put for awhile. Hopefully our hounds will head to Montana, and I intend on heading that way as well, but not quite make it. Part of that false trail. I think I’ll keep the rig until I make that ‘hard right’, just to keep the image alive in their heads, and to pull them off of you as well.”
“Sounds good to me.” G replies as he stifles a yawn. “Just curious though, why’d ya make that promise to Ice Lizard Queen? I mean, I realize she had us in a vise, but isn’t what she wants technically contract murder?”
“Bingo! What we did in Brownsville was a tactical move in an ongoing campaign. You saw as well as I that the Cartel there was gearing up to wipe out that militia group. I can justify our deed there. What the lizard queen wants is or will likely be murder and potentially mass murder, and she will want us to do it for her, then set us up to take the fall so she comes out clean as a whistle. ”
T pauses for a second as if gathering his thoughts, “as for why I promised, consider it insurance. I did not tell her we would do her bidding, I only said ‘you call, we will come.’ and I also didn’t say that we would be coming for her. Which IS what I promised myself. I want the insurance that when she calls, I know where to find her. Does that answer your question?”
“Oh yeah. My only other question then, is, which one of us pulls the trigger? ”
Laughing. “I think that will depend on circumstances at that time, more so than personal desire right now.”
“Good enough. So, I pick a fighter, we already have enough spares to work one up without having to dig too deep in the accounts, and you run false trails to buy us more time. Like I said, I don’t like it but I do understand. Do you have any suggestions for jets, or is it all on me?”
“Well, for starters don’t limit your reviews to American designs; look at what other countries are doing to. But I would suggest staying with fixed wing. The f14 has cool variable swept wings, but we would have to do some real structural hi-jinks to make it work at scale. Another thought would be to compare several and take design clues from each and come up with something unique. I’ve seen you eyeball wings and be close enough to what calculations said it should be, that the difference could be measured, but not seen. But this is your project, mine is going to be a lot more off the cuff.”
“Yeah, thats part of why I dont like it. Out there, they could catch up to you and then what.”
“I’m not too worried about that. I won’t have any evidence they can use against me, and I sure as hell aint gonna tell ’em anything either. All the gear will be with you and I want to make sure that they have no clue where you are.”
“I guess I have to accept that. Keeping me hid is priority, more specifically, Damocles and all the rest of the toys, need to stay hidden. And I need to stay out of the public eye, ’cause a double amputee is memorable to all but a blind person.”
“Yeah, there is that, but I don’t think you will find that as challenging as you make it sound once you meet my friends. They are gonna love you, ex-jarhead and all. Norma is going to try and ‘educate’ you and if you think my old conversations bugged you, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“Your friends are anarchists aren’t they?”
“Don’t say that like its a dirty word. It only means ‘without rulers’,and you will find them to be some of the most stringent people when it comes to how they live. They don’t play games like our lizard queen back there, and despise people like her because of her thinking she has power over others. ”
“I don’t have much choice here do I? ”
“Not really. I have to trust some people and these people I trust with my life, and I guess you could say I trust them with yours as well. Don’t worry, they won’t shove anything down your throat, but they will make you rethink pretty much everything you think you know. And the beauty of that is, they also have answers, though you may not realize it at the time.”
“Gonna trust ya here T. But I’m falling out on you for a few, tired as hell. I don’t know how you are still up n moving.”
“I’ll be stopping for breakfast and coffee soon, and Tucson isn’t all that far away. I’ll be fine till then. Grab some shut eye, I’ll wake you up for breakfast. ”