Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge…Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum est
Thane lay on the van’s floor, pale cheek pressed against her black mesh sleeve, legs were drawn up to her side, because even while pretending to be unconscious she didn’t want the men sitting in front to look up her skirt.
How long have we been on the road? She thought. Three hours? Four? Feels like forever since we left Rapid City.
She risked cracking an eyelid. A fuzzy dreadlock curled around her neck and lay in front of her face. Though the sun had long since set, and the van’s interior cloaked in gloom, Thane’s uncanny vision made out details of her fellow captives readily enough. Young faces painted prettily, lithe bodies clad in skintight dresses. Neither seemed old enough to drive, let alone drink.
Thane suppressed a grin as she recalled the cramped, dimly lit nightclub where she and the other girls were taken captive. The idiots in the front seats had no clue the drugged wine she’d imbibed would have no more effect than a glass of water. Just as sitting completely still for three hours in a chilly van with nothing but flimsy club clothes between her and the metal floor caused her no discomfort.
The others did not fake slumber. Thane felt a swell nausea, not from the drugged wine but from guilt. Allowing the girls to be abducted along with her still rankled.
Cold comfort that as long as they stayed unconscious, they were out of her way.
“Hey, is that the one we want?” the driver said. He sounded nervous, no longer the smooth-talking ‘recording industry professional’ he’d claimed to be in the club.
Shuffling, and the crinkle of paper. Thane remained still as a corpse.
“Yeah. Exit fourteen,” the passenger said. Though his tone was polite there seemed an underlying edge to his speech, as if he were always on the verge of lashing out.
“Be glad to get off the highway,” said the driver.
“Stop acting like a sissy,” the passenger snapped. He rolled down his window, and the resulting gust made Thane’s hair dance. One of the girls sighed and rolled over onto her side. The passenger coughed several times and spat.
“Hey, the feds were on to us,” said the driver. “That’s why they sent that spook-”
“Shut the hell up,” said the passenger between coughs. “Not in front of the bitches.”
“Oh, they’re zonked out on GHB,” the driver said smugly. “Christ man, they barely even spoke English.”
“I’m not sure they’re all foreign, kid,” the passenger said. He wheezed a bit more, then spat again. “That goth chick seems like she’s been Stateside for a while.”
“Well, take a look at her ID,” the driver said. “And close the damn window, I’m freezing!”
“Don’t try and boss me around, boy,” the passenger snapped. “I’ve been up and down the road longer than you’ve been alive.”
“Sorry,” the passenger said quickly. “Uh, what does her license say?”
Thane heard a snap as the passenger opened her black vinyl purse.
“Let’s see...Morticia Thane. Sure sounds foreign to this old redneck. She’s not really all that cute without make-up. Kinda pale and got a turned-up nose. Says here she’s twenty one years old and hails from...Death Valley, California?” He snorted. “Give me a break! Gotta be a fake ID.”
“Don’t matter, does it?” the driver said with a touch of rancor. “Once we get to the farm, where she’s from will be irrelevant.”
Thane lolled her head to the side, facing toward the men with her eyes barely open. Through a thin wedge she could see the older man in the passenger seat turning slightly to regard her. His handlebar mustache and longish graying hair brought the word Cowboy to mind.
“Say, Sam?” asked the driver.
“You ever...have trouble sleeping?”
The older man laughed. He spat wetly out into the night cleared his throat. Thane’s hair stopped blowing about when he closed his window.
“How’d you...how’d you get over it?”
“I realized the truth.”
“That we’re doing these girls a favor. Jobless, homeless, drug addicts, and party girls whose parents have no idea they get plastered every weekend. How long do you think they would last on their own? We give them a place to stay, fresh food, and uh, you know, medical care.”
“Yeah but,” Anguish lay thick on the boy’s tone. “We...well, we....y’know...”
“Oh please.” The older man laughed with derision. “All women give it up to one man or another, and they never do it for free. Buy ’em dinner, get a slim chance to slip ’em the salami, you see what I mean? Get ’em backstage to a Stones concert, well, that’s when she better get down on her knees!”
Both men engaged in a bout of guffaws that turned Thane’s stomach. Physical hardships were nothing to her, but just the fact that men like this were allowed to exist hurt her to her core.
How is this happening in America? She wondered. What happens to make people such monsters?
“You see, son,” the cowboy said “the difference between a whore and a housewife is a ring on the finger.”
Thane gritted her teeth. The casual dismissal of her gender made her blood boil. She had to maintain her ruse until the van reached its destination, and could only clench her teeth in frustration.
But soon she could act. Soon she could lash out. Soon…
“There’s the road you want,” Sam said. The younger, unidentified man grunted and Thane heard pops and tings as the van pulled onto a gravel road.
“The fence is closed,” the driver said.
“Just honk twice. They’ll open it up.”
Thane heard the van’s horn give two high pitched bleets. Once the van started moving again her gray eyes snapped open. She sat up, stretched, and yawned with comical loudness.
“What the Hell?” Sam turned around to face her. Thane’s grin grew merrier at the incredulous slack in his mouth, which revealed scant, blackened teeth.
“Man, I was just having this weird dream,” she said. “I was hanging out at this guy’s party, and then two soon-to-be bludgeoned idiots drugged me and threw me in the back of a van.”
“Stop the car!” Sam shouted.
The van lurched as the young driver slammed on the brakes. Sam grabbed the side of his seat and levered himself into a back-bending crouch. He made it into the cargo area with surprising speed. Thane smirked as his hand closed on her throat, tight enough to keep her from breathing—if she was the type who did that sort of thing.
“And you, missy...you’re not going to give us any trouble, are you now?” he said, fetid breath rolling over Thane.
“Please,” she said, lower lip quivering.
“That’s more like it.”
“No, I mean please, start using mouthwash,” Thane said with a grin. “Your breath smells like an anchovy’s ass!”
“God Damn Bitch,” Sam sputtered, his face a twisted, wrinkled mask, eyes tiny and black like coal.
Thane didn’t try to stop Sam as he reached back with his free hand. Face contorted like a stone age savage, he struck her across the cheek. Her face darted to the left, the right, and then the left again as he hit both sides of her face in succession.
“That take care of your smart mouth?” Sam sputtered, his pockmarked face bright red.
“I don’t know,” Thane said cheerfully, a line of thick, dark blood trailing from her mouth. “Let’s try it out. Ahem. I bet Stephen Hawking can hit harder than you.”
Sam’s fingers closed even tighter on her throat. Thane brought her elbow down across the crook of his arm, forcing his hand away. She lowered her shoulder and crouched, building energy in her body like a spring. Launching upward, she slammed the top of her head into the man’s chin with a wet crunch. Sam was lifted off his haunches, then crumpled back to the van’s cold floor and lay in a twisted heap.
The younger man struggled desperately to disengage his seat belt. Her right hand clawed up the black skirt she wore and lifted it up slightly, revealing the thin-bladed stiletto strapped to her thigh. She whipped it free of its sheath and placed it across the man’s throat in one smooth motion. The driver tensed, eyes wide, barely daring to breathe.
“Just drive, buddy,” Thane said with relish. The way his face turned white in the rear view mirror was satisfying. He wasn’t leering at her undies now. “Like everything’s a-okay.”
“You don’t know who you’re messing with,” he said shakily. The blade cut him just a bit when he swallowed. The acrid, metallic tang of blood reached her nostrils.
“No!” Thane grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled hard, forcing his throat against the knife another millimeter. “It’s you who have no idea who you’re messing with.”
“You’re another fed, aren’t you?” Nervous sweat broke out on the youth’s forehead. “Look, I’ll testify in exchange for immunity.”
“Not my call.” Thane’s knuckles popped as she tightened her grip on the knife handle. “Lucky for you, too, because if it was up to me I’d cut your damn head off right here, right now. Still might if you piss me off.”
The man’s hands shook as he put the van back in drive and continued up the gravel lane. From her new vantage Thane could see out the windshield. They were entering a heavily wooded property, a long concrete building barely visible through dense foliage. The full moon shone down from a cool, cloudless sky, splashing the scene with silver light.
“I have a question.” Thane said, her voice level though her insides roiled.
“I’ll answer it! I’ll do whatever you tell me!”
“You asked me if I was ‘another fed.’ Where is the first agent? Is he still alive?”
“I-” his lips trembled as he struggled to speak “I don’t know if he’s still alive. He was, I mean, he was last time I was here.”
“When was that?”
“Three days ago, I think.”
“What kind of security do you have?” Thane stared out the windshield as the long, gray building loomed closer. A dozen vehicles, mostly pick-up trucks and nondescript white vans, were parked in a lot adjacent to the structure. Formidable bars on every faintly-glowing window of the building made it seem all the more foreboding. It stretched out into multiple wings, at least three from Thane’s perspective.
“The whole complex has cameras,” the driver said in a wavering voice. They might even have seen you already. You should get out and start running.”
“Yeah,” Thane said after a chuckle. “That’s just not gonna happen. How many men inside?”
“I don’t know. Usually like twenty dudes or so. Big dudes. With guns!”
“Well, I certainly hope so,” Thane said with a smile.
“You...you do?” the driver said, blinking.
“Sure. If they didn’t have guns, this wouldn’t be any fun.”
“You’re crazy,” he said, nearing hysteria. “You’re going to get both of us killed!”
The young man pulled the van into a space next to a truck with a chipped red paint job. Thane snaked her free arm around his neck as she withdrew the knife. The man’s head soon lolled to the side and she gently lowered him until his face rested on the steering wheel.
Thane exited the Van, but not until she’d used her captor’s own handcuffs to secure their wrists behind their backs. The sleeping women she left alone; they would likely be safer in the van if things went badly.
And Thane intended for things to turn out badly.
She reached for the garage door handle, but a split second before she grasped it the whole affair slid quickly into the ceiling. Thane was now facing four men, the shortest of whom had a foot of height and over a hundred pounds on her. Their eyes widened in alarm.
“One of em’s loose!”
“Grab her! Grab her!”
“Where’s Sammy and Joe?”
Thane allowed two of the burly men to seize her arms. No sooner had their fingers closed on her skin than she took a half step back and brought both her arms down and in, pulling them off balance. Their shaven heads collided with a hard crack. Both men slid to their bellies on the concrete floor, bleeding and unconscious.
A man with a pencil-thin mustache and neatly trimmed goatee took a swing at her with a rusted monkey wrench. Though Thane could have moved out of the way, she allowed the blow to land right between her eyes with a meaty thunk.
The mustached man’s eyes went wide as he locked gazes with Thane. She didn’t even blink from the impact, though blood trailed down her nose and stained her teeth.
“Hey, maybe it’s broken?” Thane asked. She tapped the metal with a ragged nail. Then she took it from his nerveless fingers and brought it down over his head. He crumpled like foil. “Nope, works just fine!”
“Yeah, so does this,” said an accented voice from behind her.
Thane turned just in time to see the 9mm automatic pistol’s breech snap back. Amid an explosion of smoke and fire the gun coughed and jumped in the burly man’s hand. Thane felt the bullets rip through her chest and stomach, and her smile faded.
She looked down at the ruined garment, grown dark with her sap-like blood.
The man kept pulling the trigger, even though his magazine was empty. Thane stalked toward him, hands outstretched and eyes rolling back into her head.
“Braiiiinzzz...” she said, staggering forward.
The man collapsed backward, fainting dead away. Thane rolled her eyes back and grinned.
“Works every time.”
Momentarily bereft of foes, Thane took a moment to scan the garage. For the most part, it looked like any other; There were neatly arranged tools, engine parts, and several oil stains on the concrete floor, and it was large enough to service several of the vans at once. Thane passed by a truck with its engine removed as she headed for the only other door beside the entrance.
Her eyes narrowed as they fell upon a rack of women’s clothing on a bent and worn rack hidden behind one of the trucks. Sparkling evening gowns, lacy lingerie, plaid skirts and knee socks...no practical clothing whatsoever. Just fetishistic garb for human dolls. She was so angry she could hear her teeth grinding.
She put an ear to the cool wood and listened. Shouting, and the pounding of feet. The gunfire stirred the hornet’s nest, and things were about to get violent.
Thane tossed open the door and charged into the long, narrow hallway beyond. Before her, some thirty feet away, several more enforcers raced toward her position. To her left she spied large bay doors, and with deeper senses than mere vision she felt the life force of the terrified women trapped behind them. Her gifts revealed some were near death. Ignoring their plight for the time, she pumped her legs furiously and charged at the enforcers.
The first two she faced tried to grab her much as the pair outside had done. She ducked into a crouch as they surged forward, enjoying the loud crack as their faces collided above her. The two men fell atop her kneeling form.
Grunting more from anger than effort, Thane rose to her feet, bearing both of the dazed men across her shoulders. She twisted her body, spinning about like a top and using the bodies draped over her like living weapons against her other assailants. Bodies fell as she worked her way through the mob, until she lost her grip on the struggling enforcers and they crashed to the cold floor.
She leaped atop their struggling bodies with both feet. Thane pounded with fists, elbows and knees in a vicious frenzy until the men stopped moving. Satisfied they were out of the fight, Thane pitched a somersault over the pile of bodies and hit the floor running. Another guard charged out of a bay door at the end of the hallway, eyes hard and face contorted in a snarl.
“Freeze!” The man with the buzz cut leveled a 9mm her way. From the way he gripped it with two hands, the barrel never wavering, she figured he had military or police training. “Get down on the floor and put your hands behind your back now!”
Thane straightened up from her fighting stance and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Make me,” she said mockingly.
“Think I won’t shoot?”
“I think your haircut is a tragedy.”
“Trying to piss me off? Bad move, bitch.”
Buzzcut pulled the trigger. Thane’s head snapped back as the bullet nailed her between the eyes. She felt no pain, as always, but the impact set the liquid in her inner ears spinning and knocked her off balance. The floor seemed to come up and slam her in the back as she sprawled on the concrete.
“What the hell is going on?” said a static-distorted voice. Thane’s gaze snapped to the crackling radio at the man’s shoulder. “Why do I hear gunfire?”
“We had an escape, sir,” Buzzcut said. “I’ve neutralized the threat.”
“Neutralized?” She said, sitting up. “Who says that? I mean, really?”
Thane enjoyed the way all the blood drained out of Buzzcut’s face. Crimson leaked between her eyes, staining her nose and lips, creating a ghastly visage.
Thane didn’t feel like getting shot again—her top was a loss but her skirt and tights were still intact—so she sent her knife flashing across the hallway. It sank into Buzzcut’s forearm almost to the hilt. The gun dropped to the floor with a heavy thump as he collapsed to his knees, staring at the six inches of steel protruding from his flesh.
“You’ll live. Unfortunately,” Thane said. She slammed her knee into his face. Teeth and blood exploded from his ruined mouth. After he slumped to the floor, she picked up the radio at his shoulder and squeezed the talk button.
“Hey, boss man,” she said cheerfully.
“Who is this?” The voice on the other end sounded scared. That was good. The bad guys should be scared of her.
“I know it’s a cliché,” Thane said with a chuckle “but I guess you might say I’m your worst nightmare. And NOT the one where you go to school naked.”
Thane dropped the radio and padded down the concrete hall. She found the polished oak door at the end to be locked. Taking a step back, she lashed out with her foot and connected solidly next to the handle. The door banged open, revealing a nicely appointed, cozy house.
“Well, this is unexpected.” Thane stepped into the interior, noting the crackling fireplace and kitchen smells.
“You don’t know the half of it,” said a low, menacing voice behind her.
Thane turned slowly to face a white-haired, gangly man in a bathrobe. Rheumy eyes squinted above an oft-broken nose as he sneered in triumph. He had a double barreled shotgun leveled at her, his finger curling around both triggers.
“I just have one question,” Thane said, popping her knuckles “where is Agent Darrow?”
“I’ll send you to him,” the white-haired man said. He pulled the triggers, tearing a hole through Thane’s midsection and the kitchen wall. She looked down at the gory chasm in her belly and chuckled.
“Look at that,” she said, passing her arm all the way through herself. “What did you use? Solid slugs? Usually when I take a shotgun blast I have a bunch of little holes in me.”
The shotgun trembled in his hands, and Thane’s nose wrinkled as she detected the acrid smell of urine. She slapped the weapon to the carpeted floor, eyes narrowing to slits.
“You’ve been a bad boy,” she said, poking him hard in the chest with her nail. “You’ve abducted a lot of girls, forced them into prostitution, and apparently killed a federal agent. Also, in my humble opinion, you’re lower than cockroaches, lower than dirt, lower even than shit. You can fertilize crops with shit. You’re nothing but a cancer on society. Somebody ought to kill you, but I won’t. No, I won’t.”
She stared at him, cringing and groveling, and wondered how many women had crouched before him in a similar manner. With effort, she forced herself to relax.
A whimper caught her attention. Pointing the shotgun at the boss, she stepped over a bearskin rug and saw a pet carrier large enough for a medium-sized dog.
“You got an animal in here?” she asked.
Thane felt sick to her stomach. Something wasn’t right. She let the shotgun droop as she undid the latch on the carrier.
When the captive crawled out on all fours, Thane thought for a moment it was some sort of animal. Slowly, realization dawned and the man’s true horror was revealed. The shivering, half starved creature before her was a human being, a girl probably not more than ten. A collar had been padlocked about her neck, equipped with a shock box. The child stank of fear, sweat, and her own feces.
“Oh my god, honey,” Thane said, forgetting the man for a moment. “Let me help you-”
The girl’s haunted blue eyes fell on Thane’s gory midsection, and she screamed. Thane couldn’t believe it when the girl crawled to her cruel captor and hid behind his legs.
“You.” Thane was trembling, and every step she took toward the terrified man seemed to take an eternity. “You don’t get to go to prison.”
Thane stared at the little girl, simpering at the feet of a man who was like the devil.
“Get out of here, honey,” she said.
The child just knelt there, shivering.
“I said get out of here!” Thane screamed, twisting her gory face into an awful grimace. The nude child screamed and fled the room, heading further into the cottage and out of sight.
Thane staggered forward, her shoulder twisting to the right. Blood spurted from her collarbone, running down what was left of her torso. She turned her head just enough to see the boss winding up for another wild swing with the red fire ax in his hands.
She blocked the blow with her forearm, blood staining both of them as the blade bit deep through flesh and bone. Lashing out with her foot, she kicked him soundly in the chest. The boss folded in half and launched through the air. He didn’t slow when he hit the living room window and sailed out into the night.
Thane leaped through the empty frame, landing next to the sobbing, grievously injured man.
“Where’s Agent Darrow?” She screamed, lifting him off the ground. He tried to speak, but blood spilled forth from his mouth like a macabre fountain. “Damn it, don’t die yet....”
Sighing, Thane grabbed the man’s head with both hands. She squeezed, using all her might until his skull crumpled with a satisfying pop.
Thane quickly glanced about. Finding herself alone, she set to work. Her fingers dug past the soft flesh, peeling away layers of muscle until she felt hard bone. She excavated a hole large enough to get her hands inside and scooped out a bit of the spongy tissue within. After staring at the mass of gray-green in her palm for several seconds, she sighed.
“Here goes nothing.”
Forcing the warm tissue down her throat was a challenge, but not because it tasted foul. Rather, she found it hard not to give in to her cravings and devour the entire brain, slurping it down like a big, stupid dog.
She only needed a tiny bit. Just enough so she could enter the memories of the trafficking ring’s boss...
“When are you going to learn,” Thane said, wiping sweat off of her brow “that I’m gonna get what I want? How long you been working for me, Clarence?”
The battered, bloodied man bound to the chair before her lifted his head. One eye was swollen shut, and his nose was bent to the left.
“Three months,” he managed to say around a broken jaw. Blood dribbled down his chin and added to the fresh stains on his shirt.
“Three months. Three months and you think I trusted you? I knew you were too good to be true, Clarence. Just knew it.”
Thane picked up a baseball bat already covered in Agent Darrow’s blood. She knew what was coming next. As always, she tried to will herself out of the vision, but at times it seemed as if her stolen memories were real and her other life the dream. She was forced to watch as Agent Darrow’s head was pounded into a red mush...
In time, Thane’s eyes opened. She wiped away her tears with a gory hand, smearing herself with mascara and blood. Sobbing, she went down to her hands and knees in the dirt. This wasn’t right. She was powerful. She was trained. She was supposed to save him.
Instead, she’d relived the moment of his death—from the point of view of his murderer.
“I couldn’t save him, Po,” she said, hands clawing at the dirt. “Like I couldn’t save you. I’m god damned useless!”
As usual, she felt nothing. No trace of Po’s presence, no lingering energy of his soul. Not that she’d been expecting it. Po was at peace. She knew that.
There was something that remained, however. When she spotted him, Thane’s mouth broke into a sneer, and a derisive bark of anger escaped her throat.
“Well, it’s about time I got so usher somebody to the Bad Place who actually deserved it,” she said.
A few feet away from her, the boss stood, impossibly staring at his own body. Above him the skies roiled, cloud cover smearing out the sun as an eerie red light speared down from the heavens. The man was enveloped by the light, drawn slowly upwards toward something that defied comprehension.
To Thane, it seemed like a great maw, a tentacled horror out of a deep sea diver’s worst nightmare. She wasn’t sure what the boss saw as he was drawn to his doom, but she hoped it wasn’t pleasant. His pleas for salvation went unheeded as he slipped within the grasping mouth and disappeared forever. Thane watched as the phenomenon dissipated, not sparing a moment’s pity for the damned man.
Behind the house, Thane found the shallow grave of Agent Darrow. She looked, but his spirit had long since departed; she was hopeful he’d found peace.
Hours later, FBI agents and State and Local law enforcement swarmed all over the small ranch. The women seemed so beyond hope they couldn’t accept their rescue was real. The sight of them, bedraggled and broken, made Thane cringe. Her eyes locked with one girl who couldn’t have been more than fifteen. The awful, haunted stare was more than Thane could bear and she turned away.
“Agent Thane,” said a voice from behind her. She turned around to find a uniformed Federal officer, swaddled in riot gear.
“What is it?” She scanned his face beneath the armored helmet, but didn’t recognize him.
“Captain wants you. Says it’s urgent.”
“Got it.” Thane marched over the grass toward a black SUV with government plates. She was officially out of the chain of command, being on loan from Major Bast’s black ops unit, but found that cooperation with protocol made the FBI more accepting of her presence. Despite her obvious talents, she still put a lot of them on edge.
Captain Jellico was an exception. The crusty, shiny-scalped sixty year old was an old friend of Bast’s, and probably had been personally briefed by the Major on Thane’s weirdness. When she threw open the rear doors, he smiled at her widely.
“Great job, Thane,” he said as she climbed in beside him. “I was expecting Malcolm Dwight to be alive when we showed up to arrest him, though...”
Thane turned a hard glare on him, and Jellico’s stern face softened.
“Well, we have plenty of evidence on his hard drive, I guess,” Jellico said gently. “You know you were supposed to call for back up after you were in.”
Jellico’s tone was chiding, though his eyes didn’t lose the glow of affection. His face was lined but handsome, with an even complexion. A hooked nose jutted off his face, creating a hawkish appearance.
“I know,” she said with a hint of contrition. “I’m sorry. I just figured I’m indestructible and my fellow agents...aren’t.”
“We may not have your unique gifts, Thane,” Jellico said, rubbing his eyes “but we managed to get by without you for quite awhile. Took down Al Capone and everything.”
“Tell that to Agent Darrow,” Thane snapped. Jellico’s eyes narrowed and his face grew taut. Thane continued, silently berating herself for picking at a fresh wound. “Sorry, that was uncalled for. What’s the urgent matter that I have to attend to now?”
“It’s bad news,” Jellico said “for me, that is. Looks like you’re being reassigned to your old unit.”
Thane’s mouth went dry. Her shoulders were taut as a bowstring, and it took her several tries before she could speak.
“Are you kidding me?” Thane shook her head. “No way! I still haven’t figured out who I really am! Besides, I wanted to get out and do some real good in the world!”
“And you have done real good.” Jellico sighed and rubbed his eyes, suddenly seeming old and tired. “Thane, I’ve known Bast a long time...”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Thane liked Jellico, but she couldn’t keep the threatening edge out of her tone.
“You have to understand, Bast wouldn’t make this request if it wasn’t important,” he said. “I don’t pretend to understand the things you can do or how you do them, but it seems to me like Bast knows better where to employ your unique skill set. Besides, don’t you miss your old unit? You were friends, weren’t you?”
Thane chewed on her lower lip. The fact was she did miss a lot of her old crew; Faraday, Chui, even Creepy....
Everyone but Bast himself. Well, maybe she missed him a little, too...
“All right,” she said, deflating. “I’ll go where I’m needed. I’m going to miss you, though.”
“I’ll miss you too, Thane.” Jellico clapped a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t tell anyone, but you were the second best agent I’ve ever had.”
“Only second best?”
“The best agent would have called for backup.”
“Noted. When do I leave?”
Jellico handed her a manilla folder.
“First thing in the morning. You’re going back to work for the US arsenal of Democracy.”
I can hardly wait, Thane thought.