"What the fuck does that mean?"
"I have no idea."
"Well, someone needs to fucking find out."
The thought goes through Stephanie's mind that Kevin would be more attractive if he didn't say "fuck" so often.
Armin looks up from his latest cryptography project just in time to see Harrison stick a pink post-it note to Armin's computer monitor. "What is that?"
Harrison jumps - though full of delusions of being the resident ninja, he startles easily - and twirls in a full 360. "Sorry, didn't want to interrupt."
Armin returns his attention to a page of what anyone would else think is simple binary code. "You still have loud footsteps," he says, face buried into his work. He hears Harrison pull the post-it back off the screen. "What is that?" he asks again.
Harrison slams the note on top of the code. "Don't know. The DDI said he found it in a memo. Nobody has a clue. He wants the team to check it out."
Armin leans back in his chair, grabbing the note. "Craophine Boatchel? That some sort of chemical?"
Harrison shakes his head, an inexplicably large smile across his face. "Nope."
"You're not going to be much help, are you?"
Martin's been undercover way too long. His beard is scruffy - just like everyone else's - his skin itches from the dry sand found at elevations that should be too high for sand, and his mind is going. It'd be gone already were Sher Ali not with him. Two American spies slowly going crazy, forced to experience fadings of identity because, they theorize, somebody forgot they were out here.
The sun sets and Martin and Sher Ali conduct their nightly ritual, an in-joke with a meaning long forgotten.
"Craophine," Martin mumbles, pulling a shoddy blanket over himself.
"Boatchel," Sher Ali whispers back, already half-asleep.
Purcell fires a round into the already-dead man's skull. He'd have preferred to save the bullet, but he and his team have no facility to care for prisoners. When he was a conventional soldier he would often question such a blatant circumvention of the Geneva Convention, but that was years ago. Here, he's really only worried about his neck. Even his teammate's lives are secondary to his own goals.
After the team finishes capping the remaining bodies, they go to work searching for anything of intelligence value. Purcell turns a younger man over - probably mid-20s - and checks his jacket pockets. Cigarettes, both American and Afghan; matches; photograph of a brother or a friend; a AA battery; nail clippers. Moving to the man's trouser pockets, he pulls out a green notepad - like those commonly issued to soldiers - and flips through it. Something catches his eye. In big print, written by a Sharpie or some other type of marker: "craophine boatchel." Purcell doesn't know why, but it rings a bell.
"Chief?" he calls out, gaining the attention of the current ranking man. The Chief walks over to Purcell and Purcell shows him the note.
"What is this?" Chief Robinson isn't a stupid man, but he's often easily confused. His initial reaction is that Purcell is playing a joke on him and he tries to figure out what complicated insult "craophine boatchel" is an acronym for.
"Fuck if I know, but I think I've seen it before."
"Back in your Intel days?" Robinson says in a demeaning tone. Purcell, though, finds it far from demeaning. There's a reason he's always asked to attend briefings, after all.
Purcell shrugs. "Maybe. Figured you might know something."
Robinson frowns, perceiving an insult that isn't there. "Send it up to G-2 when the whirly picks us up. Let them figure it out. We're moving in five."
It's Purcell's turn to frown. They're missing something. And he has the feeling that they're in the right place to find it. Too bad they're leaving.
*Continued in Corporate Banter: I