“Chief, Manson and I’ve worked out a few things, and thought we’d run by you three. As you know, The Congregation of The Chosen, our new cult is growing, and they’re buying up arms and ammunition like it’s going out of style.” Konan frowned and asked, “What type of weaponry and ammo?”
“A source told us they’re stockpiling 5.56 NATO and 7.62 x 39mm. They’ve also penciled a graphic of the area. It’s a fortress.”
“Okay, what’s going on?”
“I think this cult killed Tomas. Before you even ask, I don’t know why. However, I do know how they did it. Manson went to see Ashley about ‘the leg.’ Ashley found traces of chicken blood on the limb. I believe whoever killed Tomas has membership in this clan of lunatics.”
“Jesus,” Lilly gasped. “They zip-tied Tomas, poured chicken blood on him, and left him for the gators?”
“That’s our working theory. What do you guys think?”
“Show me the proof,” Janko said.
“There’s the chicken blood,” Rankin said. “And the fact that Tomas had it on his leg, which is all that’s left of the body.”
“Son, I know you guys want to put this cult out of business, but you’ll need more than wild speculation.”
“Maybe one of you could go undercover,” Lilly suggested, but Manson shook her head no. “It’s a good suggestion, Lilly. But it won’t fly in this case. They’re selective who they choose to recruit. You must show proof of your time in the military, and you can’t just fudge your paperwork. They have someone in the DOD who verifies it. Then, you meet the leadership which consists of two people, Bray Farkin and Sara M. Templeton. Bray’s a zealot, by his own admission, and he was an infantry officer-if the rumors hold true.”
“So was I,” Konan said, as he crossed his arms. “That’s not illegal, nor is it a bad thing.”
“We know that” Manson said, as she gave Konan a small smile. Rankin’s words seemed to irritate Konan. “But not everyone comes home still able to function, Konan. Even you must admit that. War changes those who fight it, and sometimes it doesn’t make them better people.”
Konan rubbed his head and nodded. He knew what Manson said to be true; it was true even in his case. It had taken years of therapy for Konan to make peace with what he had done, and sometimes it was as if he’d never made peace with it at all.
“You mentioned another name,” Lilly said, “Templeton? Who is she?”
“She’s a hellion,” Rankin quipped. “From all accounts, Sara M. Templeton was Military Police, not the kind that sat on a base either. She fought in several battles and served as a .50-caliber heavy machine gunner. From what we pieced together, she’s as hard as Bray.”
“Neither one sounds like easy targets,” Konan said.
“I agree,” Lilly said. “How do we get to them?”