He sat with his elbows on the arms of his chair, fingertips bouncing off each other lightly. He looked over his glasses at the soldier who stood at attention on the other side of his desk. “Report, Lieutenant.”
“Sir, we retrieved the shipment as expected, but we encountered others leaving the location as we arrived.”
“Outsiders, I presume?”
“No, sir…,” the lieutenant resisted the urge to shift his weight under the scrutiny. He loathed having to provide these reports to Oversight, but with his C.O. out of commission, it was left to him to provide the debriefing. He cleared his throat, then continued, “Well, outsiders, yes, but not the savages. At least, not all of them.”
“Explain, Lieutenant.” He cocked his head ever so slightly.
“There were six of them, sir. Five Arkers and a savage who appeared to be guiding them. It appeared they also had retrieved a shipment, and we pursued them in an attempt to ascertain the nature of their package. Unfortunately, we were discovered before we were able to do so.”
“Discovered?” His fingers stopped moving, arms now forming an unmoving pyramid over his body.
“Yes, sir. Weapons were trained, but neither we nor they fully engaged. Eventually, they retreated without firing. We sent a message to warn them away from retur—“
“I should not have to explain to you, Lieutenant, how important discretion is to our operations. The loss of the Mt. Weather facility should be motivation enough.”
“Yes, sir, I—“
“Especially if the Arkers and the savages are beginning to form alliances again. You said a savage was leading them?”
“Guiding them, sir. We followed them almost to the border. There did not appear to be any others working with them.”
“It only takes one, Lieutenant, and a few can be more than enough. Those in the mountain learned that the hard way. We will not underestimate any of them. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir. We were not entirely compromised. They were not able to see us clearly. They do not know who followed them, only that someone did.“
“Someone with guns, Lieutenant!” He shot out of his chair, normally stoic features clearly showing his displeasure. “Savages do not USE guns, do they, Lieutenant?”
“The ghosts of Mount Weather cannot use guns, can they Lieutenant?”
“That leaves two options, then, doesn’t it? Either their own people were following them or someone else was. And if it wasn’t their own people, how long do you think it will take before they begin to investigate?”
“I don’t want to hear excuses, Lieutenant. We are not prepared for the Arkers or the savages to turn their attention in our direction. Not yet. Not before the Project is finished. Until such a time that it is, it is our job to ensure that nothing—NOTHING—interferes. Do you understand, Lieutenant?”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
“Good.” He sank back slowly into his chair, leaning back and returning himself to his former pose. “I expect that no more ‘discoveries’ will be made. Do not disappoint me.”
“Now, I think it prudent to have a little chat with the good doctor. You are dismissed.”
The lieutenant saluted and left as quickly as he could and still maintain his professionalism. If he never had to speak with Oversight again, he would consider himself a lucky man.
Too bad he’d never been very lucky.