Zach was mixing the jungle juice.
“Don’t look at it,” Paul explained as Zach upended a handle of vodka into the pot. “If you don’t look at it, then it is okay, it can’t get you drunk!”
Once he drained it, Zach dropped the glass bottle in the trash and began stirring his concoction of hard liquor and juice. They were in Bill’s place for the team party. Mandatory fun in Deckard’s eyes, but the alcohol would be flowing and would help him get a bead on the other guys. He stood off to the side drinking the local brew, Phoenix beer.
Bill had to take a call outside. Of course Deckard wanted to eavesdrop, but he had to play it cool. Rick showed up with a fresh batch of hair gel in to keep his hair slicked back. Ramon walked in a few minutes later. No sign of Nadeesha.
“Drink this, Deckard,” Zach said handing him a mug of the jungle juice. He was about six-foot-two with sandy blonde hair. Deckard took the drink.
Zach could have been a stand-in for a kid in an Abercrombie ad or the Hitler Youth. Paul had been right, he realized as he took a sip. If you didn’t know there was alcohol in the drink, you’d never know what it was.
“Nice shirt,” Zach commented. “Fucking Henderson was all into that Malibu Barbie shit.”
“So you were in Army Special Operations?” Rick started in. “What’s up with that?”
“I got around,” Deckard answered.
“My thing with the Army is that all you guys know that BUD/S is the graduate-level program, and everything else you guys have going is just vanilla.”
“You guys were with Dev?”
“Yeah, in the same squadron together.”
“Fuck do you care?”
Deckard decided to back off. Rick suddenly got defensive when he asked which squadron he had been in. But he had confirmed that they were in SEAL Team Six, also known as Dev Group depending on which way the wind was blowing that day. Meanwhile, Bill walked back inside and picked up a pool cue. He had a couple billiard tables in the living area. Must be a hobby, Deckard thought.
“I don’t think you’ve got what it takes to be on this team. I don’t care who you were back in the Army.”
It was Deckard’s post-Army career where things got really froggy but he didn’t feel the need to mention that. Bill had before and knew bits and pieces. Nobody knew the full story of what really happened out there. Not even Deckard if he was to be honest with himself.
“Give me some work. Anybody can put bullets in a muldoon jumping over the wall on the black side of an objective.”
“You might get your wish sooner than you think.”
“Have to ask you.”
“A woman on the team.”
“Not my decision.”
“Wouldn’t you love to splat a map of Hawaii on her forehead?” Zach yelled from the other side of the room. Paul spun up the stereo system.
“Look,” Rick said. “It’s not for any lack of trying.”
Bill was racking the billiard balls and was about to break.
“I would do things to her that I wouldn’t do to farm animals,” Paul confirmed.
“She’s a bitch,” Rick continued. “A woman has no business on this team other than getting passed around the team room.”
“You think she likes to scissor with girls?” Deckard said playing along. “Lez it out?”
“Who the fuck knows? Maybe Uncle Bad Touch fingered her no-no place and now she’s got some kind of fucking complex.” Rick rolled his eyes. “She just does intel shit for us, can go places and suck dicks that we can’t. Bill recruited her and ordered us to leave her the fuck alone, so it is what it is.”
“I understand. I was just wondering. We didn’t have them anyplace that I worked in the Army.”
“What?” Zach said. “Split-tailed females?”
“Yeah, except when they got passed around our team houses.”
Zach, Rick, and Paul laughed this time.
“Yeah, well,” Zach said, “you would have better luck getting inside Margaret Thatcher’s pussy. If you want to fuck Nadeesha you better slip her a Roofie-Colada.”
“If this jungle juice doesn’t do me in first.”
“Man up,” Rick sneered. “PT tomorrow unless you’re too pussy.”
Rick was a hard sell. Didn’t like Deckard because he wasn’t from the right tribe. Ramon was on the other side of the room having a drink and messing with the TV.
“You from the PI?” Deckard asked as he approached.
“Born and bred,” Ramon answered in a matter-of-fact manner. Deckard was hoping he had built a little rapport with him up on the ridgeline.
“You were there in 2006?”
“Because that is when JSOC had their target killing program going on over there.”
“You got it all wrong man, I was a Warrant Officer in 1st Group. You?”
Ramon laughed as he flicked channels until he found a soccer game on one of the satellite channels. “Yeah, I was an intel guy for the CIF.”
“How did you get tied in with these frogmen, then?”
“Bill brought me on for a specific mission in a country where I had a lot of local experience and connections. I helped stand up Group 14 after I left the CIF. Ever been to Cambodia?”
“When you were with GB? The Agency funded all that.”
“No. It was a commercial endeavor.”
“If you say so. I don’t know what to make of you, man. No offense, but people say some weird things about you.”
“Some of them are probably even true.”
That was when the door opened and Nadeesha walked in like she owned the place. She had changed into a spaghetti-string top and a pair of jeans that clung to her body in all the right places. Deckard found it impossible to avert his gaze as her hips gently swayed. She blew all of them off and walked straight over to Bill.
Over by the billiard tables she started talking to Bill, her hands flying through the air.
“That girl is something else,” Ramon said as he sank into the couch. “Maybe you should ask her about the PI. She was part of The Harem, or so I’m told. What do I know? I was just a Wobbly One straight out of the WOC.”
Deckard noticed Bill nod his head towards him. Whatever he was talking about with Nadeesha involved him somehow. She didn’t look happy. She had both palms up in the air and was having words with Bill. Despite the hardass SEAL persona that he ruled over Liquid Sky with, Bill seemed to take Nadeesha in stride. He never lost his cool with her and Deckard noted it. Bill was a thinker, he could think several steps ahead. He knew how to manage personalities and play the long game. He was a step above Rick and the others. That was probably why he was in charge.
“It took you guys a while to get into the fight didn’t it?” Deckard asked Ramon while pretending his didn’t notice the conversation about him.
“Yeah, it did. We finally got the CIF in-country and doing some good work. We had some other teams up north in Kurdistan, too.”
He kept things going until he heard Bill call out for him.
“Get over here, Deckard!”
Setting down his drink, Deckard walked over to the pair.
“You’re going to Dubai,” Bill told him.
“I don’t fucking need him there,” Nadeesha cursed. “He will just get in the way.”
“We are being hunted. We got hit hard in Pakistan. I’m not letting you go alone.”
“This is my op.”
“And it is my decision.”
Nadeesha brushed her long dark hair over her shoulder as she shook her head and then crossed her arms under her breasts.
“When can he be ready?” Nadeesha said looking at Bill.
“I’m ready now,” Deckard interjected.
“Good,” Bill responded. “This is Nadeesha’s op. She leads, you follow. Got it?”
“Not this guy,” Nadeesha pleaded. “Why not Ramon?”
“I need him for mission prep in the PI. Only he can do that job. All of my boys are assaulters, they are no good for Dubai and you know that as well as I do.”
The female intelligence operative sighed. Deckard again wondered what her story was.
“I have several other identity packages for Deckard that Sarah sent us from DC. That is good enough to get both of you to Germany. I will make a call tonight and have her overnight a new package for the two of you with the same surname to pick up once you arrive in Berlin. Your cover will be husband and wife. It’s only for twenty-four hours and should hold up fine.”
“What do you need me to do?” Deckard asked.
“Watch my ass,” Nadeesha explained.
Deckard’s eyebrows shot up.
Nadeesha simply turned and stormed out of the house. She was pissed at being forced to drag Deckard into an operation that she was going to run as a singleton.
“I just want an overwatch element in case she gets into trouble,” Bill said. “On our last mission before we picked you up in Afghanistan, we got some unexpected resistance. That is how we lost Henderson. Whoever they were, they were good. I’m just sending you as a precaution. She should be able to handle the operational aspects of the mission on her own. You are just there to get her out of trouble if shit really hits the fan.”
“I’ll be there.”
“Finish your drink and then get to bed. Meet Nadeesha here at seven in the morning and I’ll have flight confirmations for you to Germany, and then on to Dubai.”
“See you then.”
Finishing his drink and bullshitting with Zach for a few more minutes, Deckard realized that he would have no opportunity to break away and get a message out to Pat and Aghassi, not without breaking his cover and sneaking out in the middle of the night. It was doable, but if he got caught, his infiltration would be compromised. He’d be killed or on the run and be no closer to understanding who the power brokers behind Liquid Sky were.
He was heading back into the fray.