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"Impressive work, Major Pierce," Danko says. "You've got hunter instincts. Under other circumstances, I'd recruit you for the team."
"My pleasure, sir," I say. "Happy to serve my country."
There are about fifty-two muscles in the human face, and each of them talks if you're listening. Danko's reaction is interesting. He's definitely not a patriot in classic sense. Something else...
"So you work for the Asymmetrical Warfare Group at Fort Meade," Danko says. "An interesting unit, and I say that with respect. Your tactics are extremely ... imaginative."
On one mission, I strangled a pro-American Afghani politician with his tie. Then I hung the body out the window of his Kabul hotel, wrapped in the flag of a local warlord. Recruits flocked to the warlord's army. Two months later, the warlord's CIA handler ordered him to take his army into a ravine, where a Special-Forces-led Afghani army unit killed 42 of them with mines and frag grenades. An embedded reporter -- also part-time CIA -- recorded the whole thing on tape. Public support for the war in Afghanistan climbed eight percent that month. I remember that word on my commendation: "imaginative."
"How will Anna Korolenko be punished?" I say.
"Punished?" Danko smirks. "What did you have in mind, Major? A military tribunal? A cage in balmy Guantanamo Bay? No, we're not really big on punishment, per se. She'll spend the rest of her life in an induced coma."
"I see," I say. "And Rachel Mills?"
"Assuming she survives her mission, she'll probably get the bed next to Anna's."
"Her ... mission?"
"The 'Victor' creature sent Mills to Linda Niles. Mills is going to kill Niles and destroy 'Ellen' in exchange for Anna's life."
"You set Rachel free?" I say, keeping my voice neutral.
"A necessary risk. Linda Niles is a serious threat."
"Excellent strategy, sir," I say, watching his pulse in his neck.
"I'm glad you approve," he says, turning away, mind already somewhere else.
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