He'd checked in with the perimeter men over the radio and everyone knew he was back, but not one guard came out to greet him. What was going on?
Thunder had the camp scurrying to secure belongings, and Eagles racing to cover everything else. Tarps were going up, animals being brought in, and the perimeter was being shrunk. It looked normal for the situation, but Kenn knew it wasn't. He'd been sent away. Why? Because Brady was now in charge of the herd? Kenn was braced to accept it, so long as he was still the camp's XO.
Kenn left his gear in the truck, not sure he wouldn't be sent right back out on another meaningless run. He headed for the medical tent first.
Before he got there, Angela came through the QZ with Kevin and Cynthia on her heels. Kenn strained to hear.
"Yes, to all of them, and shut down the QZ desk. Pass out food and water, get a sheet on any medical emergencies they have that can't wait, and tell them we'll open back up in the morning."
"Do you want security on them?" Kevin asked.
Angela paused to consider, then nodded. "Make it light. I don't want to scare them away."
Kevin rushed off and Cynthia took over the questioning.
"Neil said to tell you he needs an answer on the three things you were given."
"Tell Neil to cool them all off–send the music players out and dig up some pre-holiday fireworks. That'll buy some time."
Angela moved out of sight and this time, Kenn immediately picked up on how much quiet protection she had... including Adrian's personal sniper guard.
"He gave it to her!"
"Did you really think he wouldn't?"
Kenn turned to see Marc lounging casually against the water truck.
"You lost your chance at leadership the first time you hurt her."
Kenn's face darkened. "I assumed it would be you, asshole."
Marc grinned, moving off. "You assumed wrong. On a lot of things..."
Kenn saw Daryl fall into the shadows, staying even with Marc, and understood what hadn't been said. Daryl, on the few occasions they'd seen fit to protect him, had been Kenn's sniper guard. Safe Haven's leader and XO were only watched by the top teams.
Angela and Marc were in control of the herd.
Kenn stayed still, running it through the filters, trying to accept. When he finally moved, it was to find a line of Eagles waiting.
Kenn rolled his eyes. "I don't need another intervention."
"Are you sure?"
Angela came from behind him, looking tired and glorious under stress. Kenn hated her.
"How was the trip?"
Kenn grunted. "Make-work."
Angela moved closer. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that. Adrian thought it was best you were away when everything happened."
"Adrian?" Kenn questioned snidely.
Angela lit a smoke, taking a minute to relax. She'd been busy for the last four hours and she was already beat. As she blew out the smoke, Angela locked eyes with her biggest rival to getting things done. "Adrian made the calls on placement. And he made it clear that I can change them if I'm unhappy."
Kenn snorted rudely. "You and asshole running it all–why would you protest that?"
"Because I need this camp to run even smoother than it did under Adrian, and the only way that happens is through you."
Kenn considered. "You'll move him somewhere else?"
"Yes," Angela answered coolly. "Do I need to do that?"
"If I said yes, what happens?"
"You get the XO slot, Brady gets something a lot further down, and the camp and Eagles spend the rest of Adrian's recovery time making your life as miserable as they possibly can, short of death."
Kenn already knew that much. "And if I say no?"
"You stay on Adrian's right through his recovery and top off a steady reform with bonus points."
"Meaning I'm forgiven?"
Angela had bigger things to spar over. "For me? Yes. And that means for most of the Eagles, as well."
Kenn didn't have to spend time thinking about it, but he still loathed the idea. Some days would be hard, but if he got to stay with Adrian, he would determine his own future. "No."
Angela turned away without adding anything. A man's pride, was a man's pride. Destroying it was lethal, but even wounds could be deadly. Kenn was willing to keep trying to change. So long as he was, the past was over.
She gave a positive motion to the waiting Eagles and they disappeared.
"Hey!" Kenn called.
Angela didn't turn around to face the accusing tone. "Yeah?"
"Why didn't I ever rate a constant shadow?"
Angela's face tightened. "Because you were always the threat."
As you can see, I'm working on book 6. So far, the title will be 'Where We Stand'.
Because I'm jumping back in so soon, I'm already a bit fried. I need a vacation, but these voices in my head! Adrian and Dog keep calling and I have to answer.
Sigh. I'm heading to the Smokey Mts until late August. When I come back, I'll try to let everyone know when to expect the next part of series. Should I post a few pics from the kids at Dollyworld?