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Hawk chuckled from his end. “At the rate you guys were moving down there, I considered coming down to give you sloths a hand.”
Reed checked the surroundings again with the nightscope as he continued listening. The practice runs were to familiarize the team with terrain and weather, so whether the code was red or yellow, it meant doing everything—from rolling in mud to setting up lookout points to staying up in shifts—by the book. Still nothing out there.
“Sloths. Like slothful in the Bible?” someone asked.
“He meant sloths, man,” Mink’s voice came over. “Those creatures don’t move more than an inch at a time or something. I read somewhere that it takes them a year to get down from a tree to have an annual crap.”
“Man, why don’t they just crap from the tree then?” Dirk asked.
Reed shook his head, a reluctant smile lifting the corner of his lips. It was a good thing no one else could hear their inane conversation. This was how his team was when they were semi-relaxed. Conversations like this reminded him of surfing. The ocean, too, had a language all its own, and the surfer had to pay attention to the ebb and flow of the tide as one rode the board and paddled out. Reed shook his head again. It’d been a while since he’d ridden the waves. He was missing it tonight.
“Do you think sloths have big balls?” someone lazily chimed in after a quiet lull.
“Ask Cumber,” Mink quipped back.
“Yo. Cumber, you awake?”
“I’m jerking off, scumbag. Go bother some other sloth.”
“You think if there were a Cumber Sloth he would take a year to jerk off to get an annual big O?” Dirk asked.
The suppressed chuckles came from different directions. There was another silence.
“I’m still jerking off.”
“I think a Cucumber Sloth would crap and jerk off at the same time,” Hawk observed. “Who’s on lookout duty?”
“Joker,” Jazz replied. “He’ll be on for the next two hours.”
Joker, as Reed knew everyone expected, didn’t acknowledge. He rarely had anything to say anyway. Unless he saw something out of the ordinary, he usually stayed away from conversation of any kind. He would check in every hour.
“Talk to you next Satellite update then, sloth.”
“Yeah, don’t have too much fun with your girl there, over.” Jazz signed off.
Amber Hutchens was also in the hospital, transferred to the UN base in Kosovo along with his commander, still recovering from an almost-overdose of drugs in her system. Reed hadn’t met her, but from what he’d heard from Jazz and Dirk, she was beautiful, very smart, and incredibly brave because of her role in saving a bunch of girls who had been kidnapped from their respective countries. Which made him think of Jazz’s fiancée, Vivienne Verreau, who was also beautiful, smart, and brave. Where the hell did they find these women?
“Hey, Cumber, you still jerking off?”
“Nah, taking a crap.”
“Knock off, Stooges.” Jazz brought them back on task.