12 Brothers…new writing, unedited and incomplete…

“What is the plan,” Reaper asked.

“I’m getting to that,” Ashley said. “Raphael is intelligent, he is well-liked, and his men have sworn allegiance to him. His cause is their cause. They hail him as their deliverer. This group will not go quietly into the night.”

“So,” Menace questioned. “How is he any different from any other warlord?”

“You mean besides the fact that he unified lifelong enemies and convinced them to work together? Besides that fact, there’s no difference.”

“All I’m saying LT is that if we shoot him in the head, he can’t make any more problems.”

Ashley forced a grin at Menace and sat down at the table. The men watched her, waiting for her to show some type of weakness, they waited in vain. She took a deep breath and smiled.

“Do you think we haven’t tried before Menace? That this idea of sending men in to root him out just came to us out of the blue? Our intelligence agencies have attempted to assassinate him. They failed. Allies have tried. Again, they failed to get him.”

Menace tried to play it off, but Ashley refused to give in. She kept her voice even and calm even though inwardly she struggled to control her temper.

“Raphael is untouchable through conventional means. He controls everything, from selecting his own personal guard to creating the menus for his soldiers’ rations. The man has the undying loyalty of everyone in his army. Tens of thousands flock to his cause daily. Soon, we will have no other option than to engage in open war.”

The men stayed quiet, even Menace, and Ashley stood to her feet. She pointed at the group of men.

“You,” she said, as she made eye contact with each one, “are a last-ditch effort to avoid World War III. If this goes south, then, we’re doomed.”

“No pressure,” Ghost said. The men guffawed and Ashley grinned. The quip broke the tension. Ashley took a deep breath as she watched the men. They seemed to relax now that the ice had broken. She knew it would only be a matter of time before higher headquarters sent them in.

Ghost watched Ashley as the men talked. He knew a suicide mission when he saw it. He had gone on too many to not recognize it. Ashley shuffled some paperwork and told the men to take five.

As the men walked out, Ghost sat at the table and made eye contact with the team’s liaison. Before this team deployed, Ashley and her conspirators would give him the answers he needed.

The life of every man on the mission depended upon it.

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