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Jolie Benoit tapped a nervous fist against the steering wheel of her Nissan GT-R coupe as she squinted through the gloaming at the abandoned slaughterhouse. "They've been gone too long." She turned to Travis, the other newbie on the field team, for confirmation. "Fifteen minutes is too long, isn't it? They were supposed to be back in five."
He looked up from the laptop, where he was using their wait time to work on his latest news article. "Don't ask meI'm the team bard."
"Bard? You've been playing way too much D&D."
Travis snorted as he calmly went back to his computer.
Jolie studied his profile. "Hauk brought you along to make sure I stayed in the car, didn't he?" She couldn't decide if she was asking him or simply announcing a fact. In a job that was supposed to be an in-and-out easy affair, Travis's presence seemed superfluous, but she wouldn't put it past the drill sergeant to sic a babysitter on her.
"Maybe it's taking longer than anticipated to find the documents. It's a big place," was Travis's only comment.
"Or maybe something went wrong." Jolie tapped her head back against the seat. "I am not sit-in-the-car-and-wait girl. This job sucks." She grabbed the door handle. "I'm going in."
Travis put a restraining hand on her arm. Jolie could've easily broken his hold, but she paused anyway for him to say, "Hauk will have my head if I let you do something stupid. So keep my head attached to my body. Stay in the car." Yup. Travis was her babysitter. Great.
"He'll have to go through me to get to your head, I promise." Jolie opened the door. "Besides, we're anarchists. If he expects me to stick to the plan he dictated, he's an idiot."
Travis snorted a laugh and let her out of the car. "Tell him I put up a good fight. Hey, and Jolie?"
She looked back at him.
"I will." She dropped her car fob in the front seat. "Keep the engine running, and drive away if you're about to get caught." She patted the roof. "I want my car in one piece."
Jolie bumped the door shut with her hip and headed for the abattoir. It had been shut down just last year when the business moved further out of town.
Further out of town, harder for inspectors to reach. But The Underlight had gotten a tip that records were still kept in the officesrecords that would prove the slaughterhouse had been falsifying injury reports to OSHA. It was no secret that slaughterhouses did it all the time, but catching them was the trick. And that was where The Underlight came in. The secret society's work to expose corporate corruption wasn't exactly legal, but in Jolie's eyes, it was necessary. She'd been introduced to their ranks two months ago and had immediately signed up for field work. Hauk, also known as ex-Staff Sergeant Wesley Haukon, formerly of the Army Rangers, had given her basic training in defensive tactics, weapons and being generally sneaky. She wasn't great in a fight yet, but she was strong and fast, and she'd gotten good at avoiding danger.
Quietly as she could, Jolie made her way up to the building. Though only abandoned for a year, the roads were already breaking up into grass and the exterior of the fortress-looking structure was redecorated in neon graffiti a good eight feet into the air. Hauk and Brayden, The Underlight's computer expert, had intended to go to the foreman's office on the second floor, where it overlooked what had been the killing floor.