The base buzzed as Louise made her way up the tube in the cylinder shaped elevator car. In the office up top, the circle baring the skull logo of G.H.O.S.T. raised up as the lady arrived. Bud swiveled in his chair, Ben stubbed a cig and let his arms rest on the desk empirically.
The door slid sideways, Louise emerged. she was dressed in black fitted fatigues, complete with laced boots and a beret. She meant business.
“Good afternoon, Bud.” she said, as she strolled over and took the seat next to his.
“Looking sharp, Louise.” Bud said.
“I won’t mince words, Louise.” Ben stated, interlocked his fingers as he said the words, “I gather that you’re not entirely pleased with me heading up this operation.”
“Bud thinks highly of you, Sergeant Venice. That’s enough for me.” Louise’s legs were crossed, as were her arms.
Bud smiled, his head was lowered. “I wish that were true, but I know you too well.”
“Permission to speak freely?” Louise asked, but it wasn’t a question.
Ben was never much for military formality. His response was a simple “Absolutely.”
“Well, since we’re cutting the shit here…” Louise began, ” I don’t see why we would bring in an outsider. To lead? Really, Bud? Do you think so poorly of yourself?”
“Hey, look Louise…” Bud was getting pissed, which was unusual for him, “Don’t question my volition. Alright? We’ve been through enough. You and me, and me and him. Ben’s the guy for the job.”
Ben cut in. “I wouldn’t trust me, either.”
Bud and Louise fell silent. Ben continued to speak.
“I wouldn’t. I’ll call it. Who the hell am I? But I know enough about you to know I respect you, and I want to earn your respect. So I’ll propose a deal.”
“This is intriguing.” Louise said, as she straightened her beret.
Ben laid it down. “I don’t tend to respect anyone in any leadership position that wouldn’t do or hasn’t done everything they ask of their subordinates. So you and I are going on a mission. In the field. It’s going to be dangerous, we’re going to be right in the heat. I’ll take point. You back me up. I’ll trust you not to go rogue and stab my back, up until the final stage of the game. That’s when it’s your show.”
If Louise was impressed, she didn’t show it. “My show, huh? What’s the objective?”
Among other things, Ben was a salesman. This was what those in that profession called the Moment Of Truth. “You’re going to kill the man who took your sister from you.”
Louise’s eyes went wide, then narrowed.
“You’ve got a deal, Venice.”