Read SEAL Team Bravo: Black Ops VI - Guantanamo Online

Authors: Eric Meyer

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #War, #Men's Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Thriller, #War & Military

SEAL Team Bravo: Black Ops VI - Guantanamo (17 page)

BOOK: SEAL Team Bravo: Black Ops VI - Guantanamo
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

He astonished. "Why?"

For the first time she looked unsure. "I don't know, Nolan. I guess you're not a bad guy, as men go. Most of them are useless bullshitters. If we survive this, maybe one day we can go out on a date."

"A date! But, I thought..."

She was looking at him curiously. "You thought what?"

He knew his face was glowing red. "I, er, wasn't sure. I saw you in the bar with that girl. I thought, you know..."

"You saw me with my sister, yes. So what?"

The penny dropped, and her expression darkened. "You thought I was a dyke. You bastard!"

She slapped him around the face. It stung badly, and he expected a second blow, but it didn't come.

"You didn't hit me back." She was watching him, waiting for him to strike back.

"I guess I deserved it," he admitted, "I jumped to the wrong conclusion. So you're not...I mean..."

"A lesbian? No way. For even thinking that, you owe me dinner, Nolan. And it'd better be expensive."

He relaxed and smiled. "You can count on it. But you'll have to stop hitting me."

They stared into each other's eyes for a few moments, and he realized how much he'd come to like this brave, feisty Cuban beauty.

Dinner, that'd be good. And then?

For a tiny moment, the awesome challenges they still faced seemed a little less daunting.

"Hey, Boss," Will shouted, breaking up the moment, "Take a look at this. The starboard engine."

They grinned at each other.

"Time to go to work."

She nodded. "I can wait."

* * *

"Where are we?"

Nasriri didn't reply to Hakim Baba, but Abu said, "In the middle of nowhere. We just drove past a town called Beaumont, in Texas."

"We're still in Texas? We've been in Texas forever."

"It is a big place, Hakim. I believe we are about half way to our destination."

"To New York?"

"Not New York, no," Abu replied, "We are heading to Miami."

He glared at Nasriri. "Omar, why did you not tell us of this change of plan?"

"I only tell you what you need to know when you need to know it, Hakim. Not before. Your job is to obey my orders, no more."

The young man stared at their leader for long minutes. It was fortunate Nasriri couldn't see him in the darkness. When he took his revenge, he wanted it to be a surprise, the last surprise of his life.

He had a moment of melancholy. A wave of depression rolled over him as he remembered why they were here.

What's the point? We'll all be dead before long. Revenge is a waste of time.

Then he thought of his family. Would they be proud, would they miss him? There was the girl he'd dated, just once, when she was able to get out from under her father's savage gaze. Her name was Ahu, meaning gazelle. She was well named, graceful, gentle, and vulnerable. Beautiful.

Is it too late for me to go back to Ahu, to change my mind? Omar would kill me if he knew. But what if he didn't find out? Even better, I could take revenge for the humiliations he has heaped upon my head and go back to Afghanistan.

It was a wonderful thought, and he felt the burden of his coming death less slightly.

But then, how can I escape and get back, with no money, no papers, no passport? Impossible.

He felt the crushing darkness over him and put it out of his mind.

The truck droned on, mile after mile, and hour after hour. A voice broke the silence.

"Omar, we have to stop. I need to go."

He glanced at Rashid. "Harun, you'll have to wait."

"I'm not going to shit myself like Hakim," the other man blazed.

Abu Bakr switched on a flashlight. "Give it a rest, Harun. Omar said you have to wait."

"Fuck Omar," he shouted, as he leapt forward at Nasriri, a curved knife held outstretched. The older man jerked aside at the last minute, and the blade scraped down his forearm. All he could do was defend himself, and he held up a book he'd been reading. Hakim noticed it was a copy of the Koran, and he smiled. Despite everything they'd been told, he doubted the Prophet would protect Omar if Harun's knife got past the thick leather bound book.

Rashid struck again, and Omar jerked up the Koran to block the strike. The other men were starting to wake up to the danger, and they made a grab for Harun as he tried to strike for a third time. Two of them managed to hold him, one gripped his knife arm, and the other threw his arms around his body to stop him going forward and committing murder.

Omar Nasriri had no such qualms. He saw his chance, snatched out his own blade, and before anyone could react, plunged it into Harun's guts. The young man doubled up in agony as the blade slid into him, and blood began to pour out of the wound onto the floor of the truck. Omar pulled out the blade, but instead of stopping the fight, he stabbed again, this time into the wounded man's throat. He gave out a sighing noise as air escaped from his ruined windpipe, threshed for a few seconds trying to suck in air, and then he slumped. Dead. The atmosphere in the truck changed, filled with the stench of feces from the dead man's bowels.

For a few moments, no one spoke.

"You didn't need to do that," Hakim shouted.

"He just wanted a crap," Hosni said hotly, "By the Prophet, Omar, that was unnecessary."

Nasriri blazed at them, sensing he was losing control. "I say what is necessary, and what is not. It is time you learned, all of you. We are on a mission from God, and I am his instrument. Nothing must interfere with our sacred task. Nothing." He held up his blade, dripping with fresh blood, "Does anyone wish to argue with me?"

They were silent. Finally, he nodded.

"Good. When we stop, we will toss out the body. Not before."

They stared at him, appalled. They faced the prospect of traveling with the dead body of their friend, together with the stench of shit. They looked at each other, but no one spoke. Abu clicked off the flashlight, and there was only the stink of feces to remind them of their predicament, and the peculiar metallic smell of fresh blood, which mingled with the feces, produced an odor that was even more sickening.

Unseen in the darkness, Hakim was thinking. He'd had enough. It was as well he'd seen Omar in action; the man was quick with a knife, very quick.

When I go for him, I’ll bear it in
mind. Maybe it would be best to shoot him.

That cheered him up until he remembered the impossibility of getting home.

No matter what I do, I’m doomed, and there’s no way to avoid it. I’m going to die. We all are.

Chapter Eight

She sat on the grass, eating her lunch. For the past few days she'd spent her lunchtimes with Clay. Today, he'd cancelled because of an exam, so she was on her own. The sun shone, and although it was cold, she felt good. Alive! He'd promised to take her to the range tomorrow, and she could almost feel the butt of the pistol in her hand. The pistol she would use to kill Hidalgo.

She was no fool. She was just a girl, a college student, planning to attack a hardened killer. The odds were she would die in the attempt. However, she'd be free of him, one way or the other. One factor weighed heavily in her favor. Something of which she intended to make full use of. Hidalgo was a typical macho Latino; no way would he expect a mere girl to dare go up against him. Impossible! When the opportunity came to hit him unexpectedly, she'd take it. She'd only have one chance before he was forewarned. After that, she may as well put the gun to her own head.

She reached into her backpack to pull out a can of soda. Her hand came out empty.

Damn, I forgot to buy one in the cafeteria.

There was just time to go back for one, so she climbed to her feet, and jumped in surprise as grass and earth erupted between her feet. Something had sliced into the earth, leaving a narrow scar. Right where she'd been sitting.

What the hell?

The truth hit her like a bolt of lightning. A bullet. She turned in time to see a minivan moving away from the street that bordered the college grounds.


She ran inside trembling and hid in the bathroom. More than ever she needed Clay. Needed his guidance, needed the gun she knew he'd obtain for her. Needed to kill Hidalgo before he had time to try again.

I was lucky. He won't miss next time.

* * *

Will had removed the nacelle of the starboard engine and had his head inside the maze of aluminum, pipes, and cables, inspecting it with a flashlight.

"What is it?"

He removed his head and looked down at Nolan. "In a word, trouble. At some stage, they parked the aircraft without the nacelles. I'd guess someone sprayed a corrosive cleaning fluid too near the starboard engine. The internals are coated with corrosion."

"Corrosion? How bad?"

"It's pretty bad. The engine needs a complete strip down and overhaul."

"Will it start up?"

He thought for a few moments and then nodded. "Probably, yeah. It's a simple piston engine, and it seems to be turning over okay. But think about it, Chief. The electrical cables are hanging by a thread, and the fuel feed, well, I wouldn't use it for my garden hose."

"Will it make it?"

He felt a presence behind him and turned. Vega. He turned back to Will and waited for an answer.

He sucked in air through his teeth. "Maybe, maybe not. It flew in here, so there's nothing seriously wrong, not mechanically. But who knows what problems the corrosion has caused? You ever flown a piston-engine twin and lost an engine on take off?"

"I have," the Cuban interjected.

They both looked at Vega. "You did?"

"Yes, and it was this exact same aircraft. A wealthy sugar plantation owner, a friend of President Batista, brought it to Cuba before the revolution. The communist government got a hold of it and used it for training military pilots. Part of my training for Special Forces was learning to fly multi-engine aircraft. I checked out on the Twin Commander so we could use it to fly our men where they were needed."

"You say you lost an engine on take off?"

"Yes. The problem is there is little reserve power with older piston-engine aircraft. It means there is no room for maneuver when things go wrong. At the time, I was lightly loaded, me and another man. We had passed V1, but had not reached V2, the minimum safe take off speed. It was difficult. One engine started to misfire prior to shutting down, and I had to make a quick decision."

"What did you do?" Will asked, fascinated.

"I took off. The runway was too short for the aircraft. It was just a dirt strip hacked out of the jungle. There was no time to stop; we would have piled up at the end of the strip. I applied maximum power, and we barely cleared the foliage at the end. In fact, when we landed, the wheels were choked with branches and leaves."

Nolan nodded. "You're still alive, so you called it right. What about this baby, any ideas?"

He regarded it for a few moments and smiled. "It comes down to how long the engine will run. We'll be fully loaded, so we can only do it if the engine keeps running during take off. Afterward, she'll fly on one engine, although it'd be hard to keep her level."

"So we can do it?"

He shrugged. "If the engine cuts on take off before V2, all bets are off. I will fly her, if you wish."

Nolan considered the offer for a few seconds. A man with actual experience of flying one of these museum pieces was a valuable asset. Then again, Vega was not the man he was back then.

Can we entrust our lives to an
emaciated, washed-up alcoholic?

He studied the Cuban and saw something new. He hadn't seen him drinking recently, and his eyes blazed with a fervor he hadn't seen before.

Their desperate scramble from Cuba, through Mexico to the US, had re-ignited a spark in him, one that had been missing for a very long time. He looked like a man with a mission, and Nolan understood then. He'd committed himself to beating the Islamist scum who would destroy innocent lives. He was a man with a sacred mission. He stared at him.

"She's all yours. Just make sure we get to Miami in one piece."

He could see Will's look of astonishment. De la Vega would take the left hand seat.

* * *

It took them two hours to clear enough space to tow the Twin Commander out of the hangar and onto the strip. Vega started both engines and began his pre-flight checks. Almost immediately, they hit trouble. Nolan was in the cockpit with him, acting as co-pilot. He scanned the gages.

"Pressure is dropping on the starboard engine."

Vega looked at the console and nodded. "It's still within limits, but I suggest we get everyone on board and take off while it still holds. There's no way to know how long it'll last, so I'll cut the power until we're ready to go."

"I'll get them moving."

They climbed up into the rear cabin, and Will latched the door. When Will gave him the okay, Nolan turned to Vega.

"We're set to go."

The Cuban didn't answer at first. Nolan saw his lips moving.

He’s praying!
Dear Christ, is it that bad?

His lips stopped moving. He looked across to Nolan and started the starboard engine. At first it ran ragged, but the motor was cold. Vega started to taxi to the far end of the crude runway, ready to take off into wind. Several times, the starboard engine stuttered, but he made light of it.

"It needs time, time for the fuel to flow and the wiring to dry out. If nothing breaks, we'll be fine. We'll check the magnetos when the revs reach 2200."

And if something does break on take off? If that happens, we're not going to need magnetos. We have to get airborne. After that the biggest risk is taking a bullet from Montez's thugs when we reach Miami. But first, we have to get in the air.

Vega slowed at the end of the strip and applied more power to the port engine to make the turn, throttling back the starboard powerplant. They swung around, and at the other end of the strip, Nolan could see the DEA buildings. Vega applied the brakes and turned to Nolan.

"Mixture rich."


"Pitch fully fine."


"Undercarriage lock off."


"Fuel selector valves on center tank."


"Electric booster pumps on."


"Flaps set at the quarter extended position."


He pushed the throttles forward all the way to the stops. The engines screamed as he waited to build up full power. Vega watched the gages on the console, sweeping his eyes across and back. The fuselage rattled and vibrated. Everything seemed to be trying to break loose, and Nolan glanced at the revolution counters.

Close to the red, too close.

"Vega, the revs, we're..."

"I know, don't worry about it. It's the only way we'll get off the ground on such a short strip. "

Another couple of seconds, when it seemed the aircraft would shake itself apart, he released the brakes. It was as if they were fired from a gun. The heavy Twin Commander raced forward, picking up speed, faster and faster.

"Mr. Nolan, tell me when we reach V1."


"And then V2."

"Roger that."

He eyed the gages. It was too soon. The starboard engine misfired, stuttered, and Vega stamped on the rudder to correct the yaw. It picked up again, and once more, he corrected. They hurtled along the strip but not fast enough.


"I know."

The buildings were growing nearer, and still they hadn't reached V1.

"Sixty knots," he called to the pilot.

"Roger that."

They needed seventy knots to get the heavily laden Twin off the ground. They'd already used up three-quarters of the dirt runway.

"V1." They were going beyond the safe distance to abort the take off.

"Roger that."

"Sixty-five knots."

"Nearly there," the Cuban acknowledged cheerfully.

"Sixty-eight knots."

No reply. Vega was concentrating every fiber of his being, willing the old aircraft to leave the runway.



The starboard engine faltered. A loud bang made Nolan glance out along the wing, to see a puff of black smoke pour from the nacelles.

"We have a problem with the ..."

"I know. Speed?"

He looked down. "Sixty-eight, we're slowing."

"Mierda, tu puta," he shouted, something about calling the aircraft a whore. At the same time, he hauled back on the column.

"Vega, I didn't call V2."

"No, you didn't."

The nosewheel tilted up, yet the rear wheels were still on the ground. The buildings at the end loomed even larger, and he could see Jerry Jackson now, starting to run to get out of the way.

"You have to abort!"

Vega ignored him, and they plunged on. The starboard engine misfired again, ran, misfired, and spluttered, but somehow kept turning the big propeller. And he realized they were off the ground. Only just. The rear wheels no longer bumped on the dirt, but they were way too low.

"Undercarriage up?" They needed the ground clearance. Even a couple of feet would help they were that low.


"I hope you know what you're doing."

Vega made an adjustment and aimed for a tiny gap between two of the barns. It was barely wide enough for the wings, but he guided the faltering aircraft through with light, deft touches to the control column and rudder pedals. Nolan realized he was watching a great pilot at work. He'd wondered several times if he'd called it wrong, allowing Vega to fly the Twin Commander. Now he knew it was the right decision.

There was a low rise in front of them, and the Cuban deliberately allowed the Rockwell to veer toward it. The rear wheels touched, and the aircraft bumped and edged up a notch higher in the sky. And then a couple of meters more, they were free from the ground effect. For the first time since she'd landed in this place, the Twin Commander was doing what she'd been built for all those years ago. Flying.

Vega kept adjusting the trim, calling out orders and requests for information. At one time, he shouted for Nolan to tell the people in the cabin to move aft.

"Just a meter, no more. We need to correct the trim."


Meter by meter they climbed, and they held their breath each time the starboard engine faltered. He kept the engines at full throttle until they'd achieved a long, slow climb to three thousand meters.

"Throttle back to cruising speed," he called to Nolan.

He moved his hand to the levers, and the starboard engine spluttered one last time. There was a noise of tearing metal, and it stopped.

"Belay that! Full throttle on the port engine; feather the starboard engine, starboard fuel cocks off. Magneto off. Is it on fire?"

Nolan peered out of the cracked Perspex window.

"No sign of fire, no."


He looked at Vega and saw the strain reflected in his face, as he fought to correct the vicious yaw threatening to hurl them from the sky in a never-ending stall until they hit the ground. The Cuban fought on, working to keep the aircraft flying and prevent a slow, descending glide that would end when they hit the ground.

BOOK: SEAL Team Bravo: Black Ops VI - Guantanamo
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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