12 Brothers…the story continues…unedited and incomplete…

“What’s on your mind, Ghost?”

“What aren’t you telling us, Ashley?”

“It’s lieutenant, Ghost. I wouldn’t want the men to think you are overly familiar with me. As to what I’m not telling you, there’s plenty. My job is to give you information you need to accomplish the mission. I decide what you need to know, and what you don’t.”

“These guys may not recognize a suicide mission when they see one, but I do. You need to square with us.”

Ashley looked toward the door. The men were still outside. She pulled out a chair across from Ghost and sat down.

“One of the intelligence agencies had a shot at taking out Raphael, but their agent fell to corruption. The agent is there now with Raphael. She turned on her own people. Raphael sent her and a team of hitters to wipe out the outpost they stationed her at.”

“So, they know we’re coming.”

“Yes. They know they’re marked for death, plus, they know the tactics we’ve used in the past.”

“Now the insurgents are loaded for bear,” growled Menace. The rest of the men stood alongside him. They all glared at Ashley.

“Guys, it’s still achievable. We need to come up with something they won’t expect,” Ashley said quietly.

“I’m not listening to another word out of your mouth LT,” Menace shouted.

“Then, listen to me.”

“Why, Ghost?”

“Because Raphael is a stain on the world. He and this agent, agents, whatever, they need to die. We need to kill them.”

“Well, how do we know she’s not the agent,” someone yelled. Menace nodded his head and muttered, “yeah, that’s my next question.”

“We don’t,” Ghost remarked. “But at this point, she’s all we’ve got. If we need supplies, she’s the supplier. For now, we have to take it on faith.”

“Screw faith,” Menace replied. “I don’t take anything on faith. If she’s involved, I’m out.”

“There’s the door,” Ghost said calmly. “Thanks for nothing.”

Menace sat down in a chair and shook his head in disgust. He glared at Ashley but said nothing else. The rest of the men pulled out chairs and sat down. Ashley looked around but held her tongue. Ghost walked around the table and cleared his throat.

“This is a volunteer mission. Yes, you got selected, but you’re free to leave at any time. Don’t think that you’re vital to the mission’s success. We all could get replaced. Now, I have a suggestion, and we’ll vote on it using the ‘yea or nay’ system. Ashley is kept in the loop on training, supplies, etc. As for actual battle plans, she is kept in the dark.”

“Hold on, Ghost. You can’t….”

“Yes, I can.  They’re right. We don’t know you. Heck, most of us have no idea about each other. You’re an unknown, Ashley. And in combat, unknowns can get you killed. If you’re hell bent to run the show, I’ll take my flight home.”

Ashley leaned back and shook her head in disgust. Menace said nothing.

“So, everyone in favor of keeping battle plans secret from Ashley and the chain of command raise a hand.”

Eleven hands shot into the air, Ashley sighed and crossed her arms. She glared at Ghost. He didn’t mind, as he had often been quoted: “You can’t please everybody all the time.”

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