Monument 14: Savage Drift (Monument 14 Series)

Monument 14: Savage Drift (Monument 14 Series) by Emmy Laybourne

Book: Monument 14: Savage Drift (Monument 14 Series) by Emmy Laybourne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emmy Laybourne
ready for takeoff…”
    He paused, listening, tense.
    “Repeat: delta-nine-bravo-seven ready for takeoff…”
    Then a sound like a hand grabbing a microphone.
    “What the hell is going on out there, McKinley? We have you DEPARTED at sixteen hundred hours!”
    In the background was a voice, “Take it easy, Pete, I can explain.”
    McKinley cursed out loud and hit the dashboard.
    “Sorry, Pete,” McKinley said. “Got behind and Valdez was letting me slide.”
    “What’s your cargo?”
    McKinley shook his head, as if he was weighing options, none of which appealed.
    “Should all be on the manifest, Pete.”
    “What’s the mother-loving cargo, McKinley?”
    McKinley sucked his teeth in frustration.
    “Come see for yourself,” he said.
    “Roger that, you scumbag,” this Pete said.
    “Oh my God, what’s going to happen?” Astrid said.
    “I don’t know,” McKinley snapped. “Some of the pilots have been smuggling black market stuff in.”
    He tore off his headset and slid out the door.
    Astrid held my hands.
    “It’ll be okay,” I said. I hoped.
    Moments later two figures approached the chopper. We could hear them arguing.
    “I’m sick of you guys running scams left and right.”
    “That’s not me, Pete. You know it’s not.”
    “Yeah. This is different,” another voice said. “McKinley’s not into that crap.”
    “What’s the cargo, McKinley?”
    Suddenly the door swung open and there were three faces looking in at us.
    It was easy to see which one was Pete. He was young, with a pronounced brow ridge and small eyes, set close together.
    A fat, kindly-looking guy stood a ways back, hand on his hips.
    “See that girl?” McKinley said. “She’s seventeen years old and six months pregnant and USAMRIID is going to take her for testing.”
    “This is … this is big trouble, McKinley.” The guy was practically spitting, he was so shocked.
    “It’s a two a.m. retrieval. I saw the order myself,” McKinley added. “They’re using a Blackhawk out of the Army side. They’re planning on taking this girl.”
    “They have their reasons,” Pete sputtered. “This is court-martial, right here, is what this is!”
    “You know what happened to McMahon and Tolliver,” the fat guy said. “Died in the line of fire? Two days after they took them to USAMRIID?”
    He put his hand on Pete’s back.
    “All we gotta do is nothin,’” he said. “McKinley left at four p.m., gilled up with cargo. No big deal.”
    “Please,” Astrid said, her voice small and scared. “Captain McKinley is just helping us to get across the border.”
    The guy looked at Astrid for a long, quiet beat.
    He shut the door on us.
    “I owe you, Pete,” McKinley said.
    “Shut up. You’re not here,” came Pete’s voice, heading toward the tower.
    *   *   *
    The flight lasted three hours.
    We couldn’t see out the window. It was cold, and a little hard to catch my breath.
    But we crossed the border.
    And all the while I couldn’t help wondering about what Captain McKinley had revealed. He had seen an order for Astrid’s removal?
    Had they been coming for her?
    Had we just gotten out in time?
    *   *   *
    In less than four hours we were landing at Lewis-McChord Air Force Base in Washington State.
    “Are you going to be in trouble?” Astrid asked Captain McKinley as soon as he shut the motor. It had been impossibly loud—way too loud to talk.
    “I don’t know,” he said.
    “Was that true? What you said about them having a plan to take Astrid away?” I asked.
    “Guys, this is not the time for questions. Right now, I have to get you out of this cab. A buddy of mine named Roufa is going to come. At least, I hope he is.”
    McKinley took out his wallet.
    “Assuming he does, give him this for his crew.” He pulled out five or six twenty dollar bills.
    “No,” Niko said. “We have our own money. We’ll give it to him.”
    “Are you sure?” McKinley asked.
    “Yeah,” the rest of us chorused

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