First Chapter: Monkey Business (Drunk Monkeys 1)

me-td-dm-monkeybusiness3This is chapters one and two from Monkey Business, the first book in my newest series, Drunk Monkeys.

Blurb:

[Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Futuristic, Military/Spec Ops, Post-Apocalyptic, Near-Future Sci-Fi Ménage a Trois Romance, M/F/M, HEA]

When you absolutely, positively have a world to save, you need to call in…the Drunk Monkeys.

Celia Jorgens is a reporter from Chicago. Traveling to Australia, she’s chasing the story of a lifetime—and a scientist she thinks might have answers to stop the deadly Kite virus that’s ravaging the globe.

Tango and Doc are part of the Drunk Monkeys elite special ops unit. They’ve been given a mission, to bring in the scientist and use the reporter to find him.

Unfortunately, it turns out shadow factions want them to fail, and the men no longer know who they can trust. As passions flare between Celia and her two hunky military men, they all find themselves in a race to escape Australia before the borders close and their enemies find them. Now, it’s up to Celia and the Drunk Monkeys to go off-the-grid and commit a little monkey business of their own before time runs out for the human race.

A Siren Erotic Romance

Chapter One

“That damn, batshit crazy asshole fucker in charge there in Pyongyang is the one who stirred the shitpot. Then Beijing made him lick the goddamned spoon and nuked his fucking ass. Problem is, when they did that—not saying they weren’t justified, mind you—our first and best chance to reverse-engineer this clusterfuck went up in a mushroom cloud. All the rest of us could do was fucking bend over and pray for lube and a reacharound.”

—Gen. Robert K. McCammeron (Our Last History? by Willard M. Sterling. Interview date May, 2143)

“In the time since we first became aware of the virus, and the subsequent events that have followed, we’ve come to understand that we have no idea why, much less how, they [North Korea] created it. Unfortunately, when Beijing wiped Pyongyang off the map, they also wiped out any hope we had of creating an effective vaccine in a timely manner to prevent transmission to a majority of the world’s population. It’s estimated that within another five years, over ninety percent of the world’s population will either be dead or infected unless we get lucky and figure it out.”

—Dr. Arnold P. Almer, CDC (Our Last History? by Willard M. Sterling. Interview date April, 2143)

“In terms of [Kite, the drug’s] addictive nature, it makes meth look like baby aspirin.”

—Kimberly Coates, PhD, University of Florida (February, 2143)

“Well, fuck.”

—President Charlotte Kennedy’s reported reaction upon learning that China authorized the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea on July 29, 2142, in response to Pyongyang allowing thousands of people they supposedly infected with the Kite virus to flood across the border into China several days earlier.

“The Drunk Monkeys? Those crazy motherfuckers don’t exist. And boy, are they good at what they do. Thank god.”

—Gen. Joseph Arliss (June, 2143)

* * * *

Long story short…

The world was already immersed in turmoil unlike any other era in the decades leading up to the culmination of events on July 29, 2142. Massive weather pattern changes had killed millions directly via storms, or indirectly via famine or water- and insect-borne illnesses. Localized epidemics had devastated populations in regions such as the Indochina area, Indonesia, and parts of Africa and Central and South America. Pundits suspected China had also been hard-hit, but the country refused to admit any such thing. The epidemics had struck first-world countries as well, but their populations had fared far better with only a fraction of the deaths.

Warfare in some parts of the world was the norm. Geopolitical events had created extremely volatile worldwide economic catastrophes that left most of the previous first-world countries living in dual-class systems of tiny minorities of the extremely rich and the vast majority of poor workers who supported them.

Likely the North Koreans’ idea started, as so many other horrible, government-instituted ideas do, as a brilliant thought in some lower-level politician’s pinheaded and narrow-visioned brain. Something that, if it could be brought to fruition, would send him on a meteoric rise up the bureaucratic ladder and secure his job—and his neck—with their illustrious Mighty Leader.

Unfortunately, as so many other horrible government-instituted ideas do, it quickly blew out of control and out of proportion when the military got hold of the idea and put a bug in Mighty Leader’s ear.

Once Mighty Leader decided this was what they’d do, by god, they did it. Including strong-arming some talent from outside North Korea in the form of threatening their families and their lives when basic bribery wouldn’t work.

And it worked.

Too well.

The story goes that it was only after they realized exactly what happened when people were addicted to—and infected by—what came to be called “Kite,” that the North Koreans knew they had a fucking serious problem on their hands.

That was when some brilliant backwater Podunk decided he didn’t want all these human guinea pigs from the massive “reeducation camp” anywhere close to his little slice of hell on earth. He unilaterally decided in the middle of the night to shut down the facility and herd the inmates north, over the Chinese border and out of his hair.

It didn’t take China long to realize that not only did they have several thousand refugees suddenly streaming across a suspiciously unguarded border, but there was something decidedly wrong with many of them.

Wrong, as in Chinese epidemiologists had no idea what it was they were infected with, only that it spread rapidly and appeared ninety-nine percent fatal.

The one thing Chinese officials did know were that these refugees refused to go back, North Korea refused to acknowledge they even existed, and in addition to their illness they were horribly addicted to a drug that had also apparently infected them with the virus, described as something between influenza, mad cow, and rabies.

And they were starting to infect Chinese citizens via an increasingly disturbing number of attacks.

Only after hundreds of the still-cogent refugees admitted to undergoing “vaccine and pharmacology testing” during their stint in what was actually a forced labor camp, did someone in China finally put two and two together and quit coming up with five and three quarters.

While China never openly revealed all the details leading up to their response, somewhere an upper-level politician must have decided that North Korea’s fuckery deserved only one reply, one that would—hopefully—decisively end the problem and take care of any potential future refugees.

Not a bad—albeit ruthless—idea.

In theory.

Enter several tactical nuclear weapons, along with what amounted to carpet-bombing most North Korean population centers with both thermobaric and bunker-busting ordinance that proved nearly as deadly as the nuclear kind. The North Korean military didn’t have time to respond, China knowing full well where their tac-nukes were located and targeting them first.

There was also supposition that mass desertion by the North Korean troops occurred once news began to travel—for as long as it could travel over a rapidly collapsing communications network—that Pyongyang no longer existed on this earthly plane.

Meanwhile, thousands of Chinese troops were ordered to exterminate the problem in the border province, including any Chinese citizens who were infected by the mystery illness, or even possibly exposed.

When the dust settled and Pyongyang—along with other population centers in North Korea—was little more than a smoking glow-in-the-dark crater, the howling in the bowels of the UN began. Considering that the only remaining representative of the government of North Korea appeared to be their UN ambassador, and he was totally farking clueless as to what had happened or why, there wasn’t a lot that could be done since China’s ambassador smiled and assured everyone else they were only responding to a direct act of aggression by North Korea and protecting their borders.

You’re welcome.

Everyone knew the Mighty Leader was batcrap crazy, and they were pretty much used to the country’s generations of inbred leadership, complete with impotent preening, feather-fluffing, and loudly clucking idiocy.

But no one ever suspected he’d be that crazy, to try to fuck with China.

China’s attack proved brutally effective. Seoul, being relatively close to the border, received a pretty good dose of radioactive fallout. Enough to force South Korean officials to order the capital and surrounding areas evacuated. China’s attack also sent a wave of panicked South Koreans elsewhere fleeing toward the port city of Busan, and sent terrified Japanese citizens, who’d understandably reaped more than enough radiation fallout to last their country eons, fleeing on every last airplane and boat they could secure passage on to anywhere in the world that wasn’t there.

Meanwhile, China’s UN ambassador placidly assured South Korea’s ambassador that it had no desire to invade their sovereign nation. In fact, the Chinese ambassador informed the stressed-out South Korean ambassador that if South Korea wanted to unify and take over North Korea, China would have no objection to it.

Again, you’re welcome.

Considering North Korea was now a country of smoking, radioactive craters, South Korea politely declined the opportunity, having more than enough shit on their plate to deal with as it was.

Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. We’re good.

When pressed, China eventually showed some uncharacteristically blurry satellite photos supposedly depicting an incursion across their border, and mentioned something in passing about a suspicious illness.

It wasn’t until two weeks later, when China could no longer keep the lid on the secret about Kite—the drug, and especially the virus—that they finally admitted that the outbreak might have possibly, sort of kind of, played an itsy-bitsy role in what was initially viewed by everyone else to be a horrendous act of unprovoked aggression on their part.

That was when the shit really hit the fan.

 

Chapter Two

If you need a job done right, let a monkey do it…

Quack scratched at the perpetual shadow of stubble on his chin. “Come on, Doc. Shit or git.”

Doc hated being rushed. And it wasn’t like they were in a hurry. They couldn’t go anywhere yet. “I’m thinking.” Doc studied the cards in his hands. “You always want to rush me.”

Across the room, someone laughed. “That’s what she said,” a husky voice drawled.

“Shut your pie hole, Alpha,” Doc good-naturedly grumbled.

From across the table, Oscar leaned back, his chair squeaking in protest as he did. He kept his cards turned facedown while he ran his fingers through his short, recently buzzed blond hair. “Is every hand going to take this long? Because if it is, I could go rub one out while we’re waiting.”

Doc glared at him. “I’m surprised you aren’t blind by now.”

“Did you see the local chick he was hitting on last night?” Alpha called out. “I think he is blind. I’ve seen prettier faces on a dog’s ass.”

Without looking, Oscar chucked his empty beer bottle across the room at Alpha, who deftly caught it in midair.

“What am I, your waiter?” Alpha asked.

“I was going to suggest you shove it up your ass,” Oscar said, “but if you’re offering to get me a refill, I won’t refuse it.”

They all felt a little on edge. Four of their men hadn’t returned yet from a recon mission. They were nearly an hour overdue without word, which wasn’t like them. Yet they hadn’t reached the point of sending out scouts to look for them.

Roscoe, Niner, Foxtrot, and Kilo were as capable as any of them. Papa wouldn’t consider pulling the trigger on a search unless they hit the six-hour mark without any sign or word from them. And even then, they wouldn’t venture out until ten hours had passed.

It was March of 2143, and eight months since TMFU—The Massive Fuckup, in military parlance. Communications in this part of the world could be sketchy even on a good day, depending on what was going on. Most of the infrastructure destroyed or damaged in the South Korean peninsula would never be rebuilt, and Japan’s rapidly decaying communication network would likely go unrepaired, too.

Hell, at the rate that country was losing people, Japan would be practically uninhabited in five years, between fallout, Kite, and emigration.

Then again, if the eggheads didn’t come up with a way to stop the spread of Kite, the whole world might be uninhabited in less than twenty years.

Sooner, if some brains’ predictions were right.

Alpha left to go in search of another beer for Quack. They wouldn’t drink anything harder until their guys returned. And while on ready status, they would all limit themselves to no more than two beers a day, needing to be at the top of their game in case they had to go out.

No man left behind. Ever.

So far, they hadn’t lost anyone on a mission, although they’d come close a few times. Fortunately no one had been lost to Kite, either.

Yet.

Doc hated the daily procedure, sticking himself first, followed by every guy in line. The only time the other nineteen men showed the slightest hint of fear, waiting to see if their stick test would turn blue or stay clear.

To see if any of them had, despite precautions, caught Kite.

Doc knew from his last communication with the military’s medical commander in Manila that Kite the disease pretty much had a ninety-nine-percent fatality rate. And the few who had survived would have been better off dead. Nearly all were left in a near-vegetative state. The extreme minority of those survivors who weren’t remained permanently disabled, unable to care for themselves. The virus created massive and irreparable neurological damage in the “lucky” survivors.

Kite the drug frequently proved fatal, especially when combined with the virus that spread like influenza and seemed to kill like rabies while creating some effects similar to mad cow disease in the process.

He’d love to personally wrap his fingers around the necks of whoever had created this damn disease, and the drug, too.

Fucking eggheads.

Doc played his winning hand, silently enjoying Quack’s tsk of disgust as he threw his own cards down.

“I still think you’re sliding aces up your sleeves,” Quack teased.

Doc held up his bare arms. “Not unless I stuck ’em up my ass.”

“That’s what she said,” Zed called out from where he was cleaning his sidearm at one of the other tables.

* * * *

Papa awoke from his nap an hour later and walked out to the common room. They took turns in the racks, usually half of them awake and ready to mobilize at any given time.

Doc didn’t want to wake their commanding officer sooner, because the man had gone nearly forty-eight hours without sleep before finally getting a chance to catch some Z’s.

The major slowly surveyed the room before his hazel gaze landed squarely on Doc. Alpha was outside in the latrine or Doc knew their second-in-command would have gotten the grim honor.

Doc shook his head.

“Shit,” Papa muttered. Major Sam Warner, dubbed Papa because at thirty-three he was their CO and the second oldest next to Uncle, looked more awake now as he glanced at his watch. “How long overdue? Two hours?”

Doc nodded.

The four men had been sent out on a recon mission that should have taken no more than forty-eight hours. They had a secure sat-phone that they could use to call back to base.

They hadn’t. And the men hadn’t answered calls to the phone from base at their pre-arranged check-in times, either. It had gone straight to the “off-line” tone response it gave when the phone was either powered off…or destroyed.

Papa stared at the floor. “Okay,” he said. “Anyone close to rack time, make sure they get a nap, at the very least. We won’t start gearing up for at least another four hours.” He looked up at Doc. “You due?”

“I got a solid eight hours earlier after we got back from our run.”

“Okay, good. I’m going to go catch another few Z’s then. Wake me up in four if I’m not up yet.”

Doc nodded. Papa headed back to one of their two rack areas that they all shared. The barracks weren’t much. They were part of a small detachment stationed in a rural area just outside Hanoi, Vietnam. Well, they weren’t officially part of the detachment, but they were taking up space there to run their current assignment.

Their special ops unit, dubbed the Drunk Monkeys only a month after the program’s inception following an unfortunate incident where their inebriated selves thoroughly kicked the asses of thirty very sober MPs while taking a night off in Manila, was a tight-knit unit of twenty men who’d die for each other. They were sent into situations where few others could go. They included men from several of the former branches of the military, including a few SEALS, Green Berets, and even some AFSOC and MARSOC guys.

Their official designation was SOTIF1—Special Operations and Tactical Infiltration Force, unit 1.

When the branches of the United States military unified into one force four years earlier following yet another worldwide series of militant terrorist attacks, the self-contained SOTIF special ops units were created. Now, terrorists were nothing. All the US military cared about was figuring out how best to stop the spread of Kite the virus and to bring the best medical and scientific minds they could onto US soil.

By any means necessary.

To the best of Doc’s knowledge, there were at least nine other SOTIF units in the world, maybe more. That knowledge was far above his pay grade. As the group’s on-site medic, it was his job to keep them alive as long as possible. The only reason he didn’t have a medical degree of his own was because he’d been pulled from his residency at the military’s medical school in Baltimore. He’d qualified for spec ops before breaking his ankle and transferring to military medical school.

Desperate times and all that crap. He could keep up with the others. The powers that be in the brass wanted doctors, not just paramedics, embedded with each SOTIF unit.

It wasn’t hard for Doc to guess why.

Now, they were trying to track down a doctor, a Chinese national by the name of Li Kim, who’d disappeared before TMFU. A doctor rumored to have been on the front lines of the initial incursion of Kite-infected patients from North Korea. One of the people on “The List” of scientists and doctors that the international community was desperate to track down, if they were still alive.

Their current mission was to locate the good doctor and bring him to Manila ASAP for transport back to the US proper. So far, despite regular updates from CIA operatives in the area, they had yet to locate the man.

And Kite infections were starting to quickly spread in the region. No one on the base had contracted it yet, but it was only a matter of time. They’d already had three exposures amongst their own men, but fortunately no one had tested positive.

Yet.

Alpha finally returned from his latrine run, a local newspaper tucked under his arm. He was one of only two of them who could read and speak Vietnamese with any degree of fluency.

The other was Foxtrot.

“Papa woke up,” Doc told him.

Alpha froze. “What’d he say?”

“He went back to sleep. Wake him in four. Rack time for everyone close to needing it.”

Alpha tossed the newspaper onto one of the three tables. “Dammit,” he softly muttered in his Georgia drawl. Alpha’s real name was Major Kenner Chasco.

Every SOTIF unit was set up in a similar manner. Each man used a code name designation instead of their real name. In their unit, Papa was their leader. Alpha, their second. He was Doc, and Uncle was the oldest, at thirty-four less than a year older than Papa, who was thirty-three and change. The rest of the men had been assigned names from a list that mostly pulled from the phonetic alphabet code. They were also paired off in a buddy system that helped them watch each other’s backs.

Twenty minutes later their secure sat-phone, which was plugged into its charger, let out a warning blare that meant someone was trying to call in on their special line.

Doc beat Alpha to it and flipped it to speaker mode when he answered. “SOTIF1 delta tango epsilon.”

There was a moment of static that nearly stopped his heart before he heard a reply in a familiar voice. “SOTIF1, Niner, kappa kappa deuce. Incoming, full party.”

Alpha clapped Doc on the shoulder, a broad smile on his face. “Well, they’re all alive.” His southern drawl sounded different than Tango’s Texas twang.

“Roger,” Doc replied, ignoring Alpha’s response. “Exposed?”

Another hesitation. “Roger. Three hours ago. No blue yet.”

“ETA?”

“Four hours. We’ll take our time. Tell Papa to stand down.”

Doc breathed a sigh of relief. If they’d been exposed three hours before, it meant every hour that passed and the sticks didn’t turn blue was one hour closer to them being in the clear. “Roger. SOTIF1 base, out.”

“Niner out.”

Doc ended the call and put the sat-phone back on the table, plugging it into its charger.

“That’s good, right?” Alpha asked him.

Doc glared at him. “You know the answer as well as I do.”

“I’ll go tell Papa,” Alpha said, heading toward one of the rack rooms they shared.

Doc wasn’t a religious person. Even less so since TMFU and Kite. He knew recent world events had driven people in countless droves to seek out religion.

He wasn’t one of them. If anything, he viewed the preachers and other religious leaders taking advantage of the desperate and hopeless as nothing more than charlatans.

He put his own faith in medicine, science, and in his teammates.

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