"You can't do this!" The protesting man was dragged into the tent, and dropped to the ground in front of Gladesville.
Two bags were dropped in a pile out of his reach. "Caught this person coming out of the southeast accommodation tent, sir," reported the more senior of the men who'd caught him. "He was carrying these two bags containing the personal possessions of Bisshell and Patas, both residents of that tent."
Gladesville, duty officer of the day and the group's senior intelligence officer, looked up from what he was doing, and said, "So, you make a habit of sneaking into other people's homes and taking their stuff, do you?"
"It's a tent on land that don't belong to anyone," the scruffy man was wearing clothes that were mainly mismatched camouflage. 'Why shouldn't I go in and look for stuff?
"In a clearly occupied tent. In the midst of a camp, with all of us going about our business?" Gladesville smiled. "You know, sounds to me like you're looking for any excuse to get out of being dealt with as a thief. How many people have let you get a way with that one?"
"Get away with what?" The man looked around the tent, and tried to look naive and innocent.
"Going into people's places 'that no-one owns', and taking their possessions. Taking other people's possessions full stop." Gladesville stopped smiling. "That's called theft."
"Fungies aren't people," the shabby, skinny man protested. He was, at least, clean.
"So you think we've got the fungus." That curved mouth expression was not a smile, it just looked like one. "Why is that?"
"Moving around in a big group. Fungies like to be in mobs. Making claims about taking over everything along the coast between the two big rivers. Fungies talk big, and keep talking big up until they go bat-shit crazy - then they die." The prisoner clamped his mouth shut as if he suddenly thought he'd said too much.
"Valid points," admitted Gladesville. "Except, we can take the tests for that and come up clean. Can you?"
"Our boss man says we're clean," said the prisoner. "He can smell it on your breath if you've got it."
"If your boss man has ever been close enough to smell it on someone's breath, then he's probably caught it from them," commented Gladesville. "I wouldn't be taking instructions from someone like that. How does he smell to everyone else?"
"I don't get that close to him," admitted the prisoner. "Not important enough."
Gladesville pulled a file out of the stack on one side of his desk, and opened it. "You're Wilson, aren't you? Are you sure the problem isn't that Tyler doesn't think that you're 'productive' enough, Wilson?"
"You know who I am? You've got a file?" There was a rising note to Wilson's voice that could have been hysteria. "Who do you think you are? Where were you when everything fell apart and we needed help? Where were you when I couldn't save anyone, and Tyler was my only chance?"
"Mirjaveh/Taftan," replied Gladesville. "It's taken us this long to get back."
"Was it bats and mucoids there too?" asked Wilson. The two men who'd brought him in looked at each other over his head. "The fungus doesn't affect birds, or reptiles, or even all animals, you know? They say the fungus only really goes for bats, and anything a funnel web can kill. "
"Mucoids were more of a problem where we were," admitted Gladesville. "They don't cause the same sort of crazy as the fungus. We've got a test for that too," he offered. "No cure, not like for the fungus."
"You can cure a fungie?" Wilson sat up straight.
"Even the infected people who never show symptoms, but just act as carriers," promised Gladesville. "We can hook you up with testing, and a cure."
"There's a price, isn't there?" Wilson slumped. "There's always a price."
"There is," agreed Gladesville. "How about you have a nice warm cup of vegetable soup while you tell me what you know about what happened in Singleton when Tyler went there?"
Wilson asked, "Singleton the town, or Singleton the Army base? 'Cause him and the others didn't let me join up with them until after the base had been overrun by the fungie mob. I know they'd been up there, and they lost some guys, but I only know what they told me."
Gladesvile gestured, and one of the other men went off to fetch the promised soup, then he picked up a pen, and said to Wilson, "So, why don't we start with how and why you went to Singleton?"