Authors: Eric Meyer
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #War, #Men's Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Thriller, #War & Military
He looked around at the harbor. It seemed peaceful enough. Even in the dark there were a few security lights, which exposed the parlous state of repair of most of the vessels. On the other side of the harbor a police launch rode at anchor, white, sleek, and gleaming under a bright security light. It was the middle of the evening, and on the quay a few meters away a pair of fishermen were preparing their nets; a tranquil scene for the locals, but for them the possible end of the operation.
"There has to be another boat," he said in frustration, "José's boat couldn't be the only one capable of reaching Cancun."
"No," she was emphatic, "José's boat is famous for being fast and seaworthy." She waved her hand around the harbor, "Look at these pieces of junk. I wouldn't send my worst enemy to sea in one of them. They're only fit for inshore fishing."
"When do you expect José to return?"
"I don't know. It's very unusual. Although he would make the crossing during the hours of darkness, he always returns in daylight. Why shouldn't he, when he is carrying nothing incriminating? He is just a sport fishermen, out for pleasure."
"You think something's happened to him?"
"I do." Her brow was furrowed in thought. "Those men, those Islamists, I doubt they were trustworthy."
John-Wesley strolled over. "Trustworthy!" His face creased in a scowl, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"
"Take no notice," Nolan said, pulling her away, "He's a bible thumper in his spare time."
"Bible thumper? What does that mean?"
"You don't want to know. So how do we get across to Cancun? Where can we find a boat?"
"There is nothing local." She waved her hand in the direction of the harbor, "There is only one vessel here that can make the crossing, and I doubt the cops will hire it out."
He stared across the water at the sleek powerboat bobbing up and down on the light swell inside the harbor. On the quay, there was a detached building flying the police colors. It had to be their headquarters.
"How many cops would you say are inside that building?"
She followed his gaze. "I don't know, maybe half a dozen. Why?" Then she understood, "Oh, no!"
He shrugged. "Yes. It's the only way. We have to get over there. Besides, in a police boat we can make the crossing in daylight and no one any the wiser."
"It won't work. We could steal the boat, sure, but the moment we slip the moorings and head out to sea, the cops left behind will sound the alarm. They'll come after us with everything they have."
"In that case, we'll have to make sure they don't sound the alarm." He looked at Will, who'd been listening. "Suggestions?"
"However we play this, it'll have to be quick and silent. We'll have to find a way to shut them up while we leave, and we can't kill them."
"They're police, and police have cells. We'll lock them up."
"That should do it. All we need is to get inside."
"No problem. John-Wesley, you're about to be arrested."
The slim Texan grinned. "It won't be the first time."
* * *
They bought a bottle of cheap liquor, Cuban rum, from a stall close to the harbor. Will poured it over Ryder until he stank like a Bowery wino. It was time to break the law.
He stood outside the headquarters of the marine police with a huge rock in his hand. Then he started shouting in his broken Spanish. A few choice curses, and then he tossed the rock at the front window. It was a perfect throw; the missile smashed the glass and landed inside with a loud crash. It landed on something fragile, maybe a bottle of rum they were enjoying. It wouldn't take long. He waited, still shouting curses.
They waited for a few seconds, and then the cops poured out, two of them unshaven and only wearing wife beater vests. The other two men were in uniform, crumpled cotton pants and jackets, fastened with pistol belts. Their faces were red with anger as they ran to John-Wesley, shouting threats and aiming their pistols. And then froze.
Nolan and Brad hit them from one side, Will and John-Wesley from the other. Eva and Vega closed in from the front, and the four cops lowered their pistols and placed them on the ground; faced with the threat of the four assault rifles and two handguns, including Vega's peculiar but lethal Stechkin.
"How many cops are left inside?" Eva snapped out to the senior man, a sergeant.
"One, only one," the cop replied quickly, "But he is off duty…"
"Never mind. Take us to him."
They walked inside the marine police headquarters. There was a wide lobby in the front with a counter for the duty officer.
"Where is he?" Nolan questioned the sergeant.
He glanced toward a staircase in the corner of the lobby. "On the second floor."
"And the cells?"
He pointed to a door behind the counter. "Through there."
"Will, Vega, take them through and lock them up. Brad, stay here and keep an eye out. Eva, come with me. We'll grab the fifth man."
Bryce and Vega led the captives through to lock them up in the cells. Nolan started up the staircase. Eva tucked her Tokarev in her waistband and followed him. He reached the top step, turned onto the landing, and stared into the barrel of an AMD-65 assault rifle. The folding stock derivative of the venerable Kalashnikov AK-47 found favor with its intended customers, Soviet bloc paratroopers. It was also popular with paramilitaries and cops, who found the compact folding stock design enabled it to be used in confined spaces. The short magazine held twenty 7.62mm rounds, enough to turn them into scraps of torn and bloody flesh. He lowered his PM-63 and waited.
"Who are you? What is going on?"
Eva replied to him, "Cuban Special Intelligence, Señor. We were called in by Havana; there is a plot to assassinate the President, Raoul. We believe two of your officers may be involved, and we are here to place them under arrest."
His jaw had dropped open in astonishment, as he looked at Nolan for confirmation. From a short distance he could smell the cheap rum on his breath. He'd obviously been relaxing with a bottle when they attacked but had been sober enough, just, to grab his rifle and confront them. Nolan nodded emphatically, knowing his accent would give him away in a split second. The man started to relax, and the barrel of his rifle wavered.
He moved to one side, just a few inches. But he'd known she would have the Tokarev drawn ready to fire, and the hallway echoed to the sound of bullets as she fired twice. The force of the hits threw the man back, with two holes torn in his chest. He crashed to the floor, and Nolan rushed forward to relieve him of his weapon. But there was no need, he was dead and would have died with either bullet, both of which had struck his heart.
He looked up at Eva. "He was only doing his job," he admonished her.
"Which was to kill us," she replied, her voice sharp.
But he felt saddened. It wasn't like the two cops back at the checkpoint, a pair of corrupt, drug dealing thugs. This guy may have been an honest cop with a wife and family. He shook his head and turned away, but Eva checked him.
"He ran the rackets at the port. Believe me, he's no loss. Although he wasn't in charge, he holds the rank of corporal. In fact, he took a share of every bribe and payoff."
"He also supplemented his income by working as a hit man for anyone who would hire him. He came to Tortuguilla on a couple of occasions, and de la Vega dealt with him.”
“Dealt with him?”
Her face was grim. “He told him the next time he tried it in our town, he’d gut him and stake him out for the vultures.”
“Did it work?”
“He never returned, so I guess it did. But others would have suffered. You shouldn’t feel bad about him. Not all, but many of the cops in Cuba are little more than armed, licensed thugs for hire.”
He nodded and they went downstairs. Will was waiting with Ryder and Vega.
“We’re good. Brad is outside. He came in a couple of minutes ago. No one seems to have heard the shooting. Or if they did, they decided it was none of their business.”
“The cops are secure, no way they can get out?”
He chuckled. “I’ll say this for the communists, they build strong cells. There’s no way they can get out, and we’ve searched them for radios and cellphones.”
“What about the telephone lines in here, and the marine radio? I guess we need to disable everything. See to it, Ryder.”
He went away, smiling.
“Will, it’s time to check out that boat. We need to leave.”
“I’ll get the engines started. Give me five minutes.”
He went away, and they waited until Ryder came back to confirm the communications systems were all out of action. “Unless they’re in contact with the good Lord, which I doubt, these heathen communists are going straight to hell.”
“Many Cubans are Christians,” Eva objected.
Ryder looked puzzled. “I thought they were Catholics.”
He shrugged. “Same thing. Leviticus tells us, ‘for the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it’. This place is doomed, lady.”
“That’ll do,” Nolan cut him off, “Are we ready to go?”
“We could help ourselves to their armory,” Ryder suggested.
I should have thought of that myself.
“See to it, and ask Brad to come in and lend a hand. I’ll go out to the boat and see how Will’s getting on.”
As he walked across the quay, the deep-throated roar of two big marine diesels starting shattered the still of the night. He walked along the pontoon and jumped aboard the big craft. Bryce was at the helm, adjusting the controls.
“How is she?”
“Pretty good, the tanks are half full, more than enough to get us across. The electronics are coming online now, and with any luck, we’ll have radar to help us spot any trouble before it hits.” He glanced at the console, “Yeah, the navigational systems look fine. Someone has looked after this boat. It’s a stroke of luck.”
“We'll need plenty of that if we’re going to catch up with these bastards,” Nolan said, his voice sober, “They could be halfway across Mexico by now.”
“The Mexican Federales could stop them, if Admiral Jacks put it to them.”
“Yeah, they could, except we’re looking at the most unholy alliance known to man; Colombian cartels, al Qaeda, and human traffickers from Ciudad Juarez. You want to bet they don’t have the Federales riddled with paid informers?”
“I guess not.”
"Besides, we're supposed to be on our own. If the Mexicans got wind of us chasing these people direct from a US military source, they'd connect the dots. It wouldn't be difficult to link us to the Seals, and they'd go ape. I mean, think about it, if Mexican or Cuban Special Forces went chasing fugitives across American soil."
Will shuddered. "Christ, I'd sooner not think about it. We'd declare war."
They both looked as Brad toted a pair of canvas holdalls onto the launch. They looked heavy.
"What did you find, Brad?"
"What you'd expect to find in a commie shithole. Several AK-47s, plenty of spare ammo, a couple of Makarov 9mms. "
"As long as the bullets come out the right end of the barrel when you pull the trigger."
"They'll do that, no question."
* * *
The launch plunged through the rising seas, sending cascades of spray over the deck. They'd started out in conditions that were ideal, but the weather had deteriorated, and now they were forcing their way through the waves. It started to rain, and it was impossible to see further than a few meters. He searched for waterproofs, but there were none on board. Thick dark clouds rolled in overhead, and it was like they were traveling through a dark tunnel.
Will gripped the wheel, making constant adjustments to their course and speed to keep them from overturning. Nolan had sent them into the small cabin in the prow to keep out of the worst of the weather, and he took turns at the helm. A particularly big wave smashed into them and caught Will unaware. He fell to the deck, knocked his head on a steel rail, and Nolan raced to hold the wheel steady. At the same time, he bellowed over the noise of the storm for someone to come out and help the injured man. Eva Sanchez appeared in less than a second and knelt down next to the fallen man.
After a few moments, she turned to Nolan and shouted, her face dripping with water, her clothes already saturated with water.
"The fall knocked him unconscious, but I think he's coming round now. I'll go back for the first aid kit."
She disappeared into the cabin and returned with a small case, which she opened and started to clean the wound. Abruptly, Will sat up and glanced around. It took him a second to realize what had happened.