Not having an address handy, Snow tells them to follow him. It’s only about a twenty minute drive to the restaurant. The roads around the base are fairly bumpy and badly in need of resurfacing though and every time they hit a bump Melissa cringes. Their dad tries to stay slow to avoid causing more pain than necessary. She’s still on a fair amount of pain medication but she didn’t want to go too heavy today for fear of messing something up during their ceremony.
Pulling into the parking lot behind Snow’s silver sports car, they find he wasn’t kidding when he said this place was small. The sign for Agda’s is tiny and tucked between those for a law office and a travel agency. The entrance is behind the building and you have to walk along a narrow cement path to get there. Melissa’s crutches have a hard time with the path but she refuses her family’s offers of help. Even Frank, free from his game which their mother insisted he leave in the car tonight, offers to help. It takes some time but they make it to the door and enter a dimly lit restaurant with beautiful candles on every table providing most of the light.
There’s only ten tables in the restaurant and two of them on one end of the room are filled. Snow whispers something to the woman who comes to seat them and they’re shown to the opposite end. Something changes hands between them as they’re seated. Menus are dropped off and as they study them their dad’s eyes about pop out of his head. There’s nothing here under thirty dollars outside of a tiny kid’s menu in the corner. Sweat starts to pour down the man’s head.
A waiter brings a basket of bread and offers drinks. Snow orders a couple of bottles of wine for the table before realizing half of them aren’t old enough to drink. He still asks they bring the bottles. “They carry Crawford cabernet, new brand but some of the best you can find.” Melissa wants a lemonade and Tara takes a glass of water. Cola works for Frank and the waiter disappears to gather their drinks. He returns with the water in what looks like a wine bottle. He leaves what’s left of it behind and pours glass bottles of the other drinks into glasses.
Snow waves him over. “I’m ready to order, can everyone else manage?” Uncomfortable glances are shared but he doesn’t pause. “I’m going to have the combination platter. Everything they make here’s so good that I want all of it. How does that sound to the rest of you? Six combinations?”
Everyone else’s jaws drop. That’s seventy dollars each. Frank looks at it and shakes his head. “Can I get the burger off the kids menu?”
Technically Frank’s a year too old for the kids menu but the waiter isn’t carding. He nods and writes it down. Snow looks to the rest of the group. “Five combinations then? That work for everyone?” Nobody else objects and the order goes in.
The bread’s heavenly. Soft and luscious with a crunchy exterior. A beautiful lemon and olive oil blend to dip it in takes Tara’s breath away. This has to be the best bread she’s ever eaten. She’s glad she won’t be stationed here much longer. Now that she knows how close this is she’d be in here all the time. She’d weight two hundred pounds before long.
They run out of bread but the waiter soon replaces the empty basket with a fresh one. Around the time they finish a second loaf Snow leans in. “Alright, so I understand you ladies want to know more about our program. Understand what I’m going to tell you tonight is classified. It was already classified, but this is super classified. If that’s not okay, say something now and we’ll finish our meals and call it a night.”
Everyone at the table stares at each other and then they all stare at Frank. He puts his hands up. “What, I can keep a secret. I won’t say anything.”
Snow makes a finger gun at him. “Alright young man, I’m taking you at your word. I informed the girls that we have a program we want to put together. We’re creating a team of three people. We’re tentatively planning on calling it team Red, White and Blue. I’m sure you can guess which one Melissa here’ll be if we pick her.”
Almost instinctively Melissa brushes her hair from her face. “That’s cool but I can’t be much good on a team with a messed up knee.”
“You’re right about that but if you join us, we’re going to get a fantastic surgeon to fix that knee of yours. I’m sure Georgia will get you a good surgeon too but we have access to some of the best. You’ll learn more about our organization if you join but we’re top secret to say the least. We need about twenty people. Three will be the crew, about five will be field support and the other dozen will fill out our base. No matter what we’ll figure something out for you to do.”
Tara’s been listening with a look of confusion on her face. “That sounds interesting and all but why us? We had good numbers in training but we weren’t at the top of our group or anything.”
Looking back and forth between Mr. and Mrs. Chance, Snow gets a big grin on his face. “I love your daughter, she’s crazy smart.” Returning his attention to Tara, he leans toward her. “I’ll be honest. Your numbers helped but had very little to do with picking you. You both signed up for this program so we were able to go in and run some tests on your DNA. To make these three leaders of the group work, we need people compatible with the enhancement formula and preliminary tests suggest you both are. Plus, again, being honest, there’s a lot of pressure from up high to have a woman on the team. We didn’t get a ton of female volunteers and even less who looked like they’d be compatible. We have four and all four are being invited. If I didn’t think you could handle this though, I’d have left you out.”
Their food arrives and they all settle back as massive plates of meat are placed before them. They each have tomato braised sausage, chicken with a dill tzatziki sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, steak skewers and lamb chops. Tara has no idea how she’ll get through it. Their dad doesn’t seem concerned as he immediately digs in.
Conversation takes a back seat as they focus on their food. Soon their dad decides he has to ask a question with a mouth full of food. “You mentioned something about a formula. Enhancement or something? What’s that about?”
Snow’s shoulders drop as he has to put his fork down. He finishes chewing his bite of lamb before continuing. “That’s something I can only talk so much about. In short though, it’s going to provide powers. Some of the same ones that the vigilantes back in the day had. Theoretically it’ll make someone strong, fast, provide high endurance. There’s a few other potential things in there too. It has to be a fit though. If you get there and aren’t down for it by the way, that’s not an issue. You can still turn it down. Once you agree to be part of the program though, you can’t back out until your service term is up. You can choose to be in our field crew instead of taking the enhancement but not to leave. Too much risk. It’s your call ladies but I need an answer tonight.”
They finish their meal and Snow offers dessert. Everyone’s far too full except for Frank who wants a piece of chocolate cake. The giant piece they set in front of him feels like it could feed a family and their mom steals a bite. He gives her a dirty look but doesn’t object.
Once he pays the check in cash Snow turns to the group. “This is where we say goodbye one way or the other. The only thing left is to decide if we’re saying goodbye for now or for good. That’s entirely up to you ladies but I need to know.”
They look at each other and Tara tries to read her sister’s face. Melissa’s looking at her with wide eyes and a hint of a smile. Her face is twisted oddly though. She considers the danger but also considers what this could mean for her sister. The best surgeons give her the best chance to get back to top form. Snow said something about the formula possibly helping her knee too. Her sister’s only here because she wanted to join the military and didn’t want to do it alone. “I’ll do it if my sister will.”
Melissa’s hint of a smile turns into a full on grin. “I’m totally in if you are.”
Slapping his hands together, Snow offers each of the girls a hand shake and then shakes everyone else at the table’s hand. “Glad to hear this dinner wasn’t for nothing. That’s fantastic ladies. I can’t wait to get you in the program and get to work.”
Unsure where they go from there, Tara interrupts the celebration. “What do we do next?”
“You are always straight to the point. We need more of that in our crew. Everyone’s gonna love you. Probably not at first, but they’ll get there. You go home with your family in the morning and enjoy your leave. It’s probably going to be at least six months before you get another. From there, you obviously won’t be reporting to Georgia. I’ll take care of the paperwork. I’ll send a car for you a week from Tuesday. They’ll take you to the nearest airport and get you where you’re going. I’m not at liberty to let you know where that is yet but you’ll find out soon enough.”
With a final salute Snow excuses himself, promising to see them in a little over a week.