Russell’s visit to the MP detachment commander didn’t go well.
The First Lieutenant who ran the outfit was a slender man of medium height, named Nichols. His red hair was cropped to about a quarter-inch all over his head. He had, for his hair color and pale complexion, unusually dark brown eyes. They were pinched close together under thin, pale eyebrows making him look continually surprised. The Second Lieutenant Vic had confronted at the barn was probably slated to be this man’s replacement.
When Russell entered the lieutenant’s office, the officer didn’t stand or invite him to sit, in violation of all military protocol. Vic sat anyway and held up the memory stick and plastic bag with the tags.
“Lieutenant, there are pictures on this memory stick of the Afghan thieves who were caught robbing Warehouse Six last night. There are fingerprints of all three men on these plastic tags. One of them, I have found, has worked on the loading docks part-time. He evidently knew the combination to the cipher locks. You should contact the local police and share this information with them.”
Nichols stood, pushing his chair back. He placed the fingertips of both hands on his desk and looked out the window as he spoke.
“The men you apprehended have been released. One of them is the son of a Village Elder and has worked on the base. They were all injured and detained without proper authorization. I assured them it was a mistake and paid them twenty-five dollars each for reparations.” he said.
Russell felt a thumping in his temples like marching band drums, hammering out quick time. He felt his face flush, but held his voice level and quiet.
“Who authorized you to release those thieves?” Russell said.
“I needed no authorization. The men had been detained and injured without due process. I am a Military Police officer and the commander of this detachment.” Nichols said.
“Temporarily, Lieutenant, temporarily.”
Russell rose from the chair and left the office, taking the evidence with him.
“Bobby, do you know who that little dipshit Nichols reports to?”
Vic had returned to his headquarters, trying to keep his anger controlled and directed. After hearing his commander’s story, Flynn was surprised that Russell hadn’t kicked the Lieutenant’s ass.
“Well, he’s attached to us, but reports to an MP battalion,” Flynn said.
“Please have someone find out the name of his commander and where I can visit him. We’re going to become good buddies.”
Flynn and Russell were good friends but Flynn could sense the simmering of an explosion inside the Major and wanted to keep the officer calm and directed.
“Bobby, is Sergeant Boyd on the way here?”
“He should be here any second.”
Russell leaned back in his swivel chair and closed his eyes.
“I don’t think what I had in mind will work anymore,” he said.
The Major had cooled below the boiling point. Flynn sat down and faced him. When he opened his eyes after a few seconds, the NCO spoke.
“What were you going to have Boyd do tonight? You didn’t go into detail?” Flynn said.
“I was going to have him terrorize the head thief.”
Russell’s reply was interrupted by a knock on the closed door. Flynn got up and opened the door. Boyd entered.
“Good afternoon, Sir and Sergeant Major. What are this evening’s plans? The NCO in charge of my detail thinks I’m still at Warehouse Six—he won’t bother to check as long as I call him on the radio every couple of hours,” he said.
Russell nodded to the empty chair. Boyd sat, calm and relaxed, wearing his MP uniform and pistol.
The Major explained what had happened to the prisoners. As he did, he saw tiny lights in Boyd’s eyes. It was as if someone was waving a sparkler in front of his face and the dark irises reflected fire. The shape of the vampire’s mouth flattened to a line grim as chilled iron.
“Sir, I think I can find at least one of them,” Boyd said.
“Gossip in the detachment said that someone had kidnapped the son of a Village Elder and the Lieutenant let him go, along with his buddies. We can locate the father’s compound. It’s on MP maps, I checked it out. I’ll bet the son lives there with his daddy.”
“Could you find it?” Russell said.
“Let me show you where it is,. The detachment’s admin clerk pointed it out when she was dishing the dirt. The clerk also said the detachment commander and the executive officer both know the man who owns the compound. They probably know the son, too.”
“Can you get in there?”
Flynn hadn’t spoken. His eyes flicked from the Major to the Sergeant like a man watching a fast tennis match. When Russell asked the question, both eyebrows shot up, but he was silent.
“Yes, sir. If you can get someone to drive to within a hundred yards or so and wait for me, I can do it,” Boyd said.
“Hell, Boyd, the Sergeant Major and I will take you. I don’t want anyone else’s hands in this mission,” Russell said.
“Sir, do you think that’s wise?” Flynn said.
“Not necessarily, but just who would you send that we could depend on to do the job? The area is pretty safe, but we’ll take our CAR-15s, a radio and .45s in case of a problem. Are you with me?”
Flynn nearly spluttered.
“Of course I am! Now, Sir, what are you going to have Boyd do?” Russell explained the plan. Both NCOs grinned and nodded.
“That ought to create some excitement. I brought the balaclava and Ninja suit. I’ll meet you at the gate to Warehouse Six and change on the way,” Boyd said.
Flynn drove the Hummer. Russell rode in the front passenger seat. Boyd changed as soon as he was in the vehicle and rode behind the major.
A faint sliver of quartering moon had emerged and dodged behind occasional clouds. Flynn was driving the vehicle with blackout lights, using night vision goggles, while Boyd directed him to the area he’s seen on the map.
“This should be a good place, let me out here. I should be back in an hour or two,” Boyd said.
Flynn parked the vehicle in deep shadows beside a ruined wall that once guarded a massive broken building. As soon as he was out of the Hummer, Boyd disappeared into the shadows.
Russell turned on his night vision goggles. He and Flynn chambered rounds into their submachine guns.