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
I need to make an example of one of them. The next time a man refuses an order, I'll kill him.
They were outside a large warehouse, close to the sea. The door opened, and a man emerged, wearing sunglasses, a linen suit, and a Panama hat. Ricardo Montez. The Colombian held out his hand in greeting.
"Welcome, welcome, my friend. We meet again."
"Yes." He looked around for the Colombian's number two, the feral killer. It was prudent to know the whereabouts of such men, "Where is Señor Hidalgo?"
A smile. "He is taking care of some business for me in New York, which is why he could not be here."
"Is it connected to our operation?"
Montez seemed to consider, then he smiled. "Yes, it is, in a way. But there's nothing to concern you, we're doing everything to make certain nothing goes wrong on the day."
"That's good to know."
He noticed Montez worked to control his disgust at their stench. It was only the slight flaring of his nostrils that betrayed him.
"Come inside, my friend. We have food prepared for you. There are showers, too. I'm sure you'd like to freshen up."
"That would be good." As they walked toward the warehouse, he noticed the powerboat tied to the wharf. Even though it was part of the plan, he gaped. It was like nothing he'd seen before. Unbelievably long, almost like a ballistic missile or a spacecraft, "Is that it?"
Montez grinned. "It is. With a craft like that, they'll find it impossible to stop you."
"Is it difficult to control?"
He shook his head. "Not at all. Everything is computerized. A child could drive it."
Or a moronic Afghan tribesman.
"That is good. And the explosives?"
"On board the ship. Everything is ready to transfer. All you need to do is hit the button to detonate."
Even that is not necessary. Security will be tighter than a drum, and they may riddle you monkeys with bullets before you hit the target. Or maybe you'll change your minds and decide to stay alive a little longer. Fortunately, we have a contingency to take care of that. All you need to do is get close.
"Excellent," Nasriri smiled at Montez, "We will deliver a message to the Americans they will never forget. In three days time."
"You will, my friend. Come inside, clean up, and get some food."
Nasriri opened his mouth to thank Montez as the rain began to fall. The clouds had thickened in the past few minutes, the wind had picked up almost to storm force, and water fell in torrents. They ran for the shelter of the warehouse and stood inside, listening to the furious beat of the rain on the thin aluminum roof. He looked at Montez, who was frowning.
"Will this be a problem, Señor Montez, the weather?"
"It could be, yes. The powerboat is designed to cope with most conditions, but even so, this weather is exceptional. Your men are not used to handling small boats?"
"Afghanistan is landlocked," he replied woodenly.
"Yes, of course. The problem is getting the boat out to the ship. I'm not sure if it will be possible."
"It has to be. No matter what it takes, we will go."
"If you're sure?"
"We have no choice. We are already running late. Any further delay is impossible. We will leave tonight as planned, weather or no weather. It is in the hands of Allah."
"Right. Come, I'll show you to the washrooms."
Nasriri called for them to follow him. Rahman was arguing with his cousin Hakim, and he shouted at them to stop.
"This bastard insulted me," Hakim snarled, "He told me I stank like a pig. I cannot tolerate such an insult."
Pigs were unclean according to Islam. It was a deadly insult. Even so, they'd arrived in Miami, and they were on the last leg of their journey. He needed to keep them together for just a little while longer. He glared at Rahman.
"You will apologize to your cousin. You know it is unacceptable to compare him to an unclean animal."
"But he does stink like a pig."
"You will apologize, Rahman. Now!"
The man stared back at him. "No! It is true. He does stink. Besides, he has said much worse things about me and my family."
"Apologize now, Rahman. This is my last warning."
"No! I will not."
"Rahman! I will not say it again."
He shook his head. "No."
Nasriri knew they'd all reached their limits. After the exhilaration of the escape, it had been too long, too arduous, and too stressful. They were all ready to explode. It was time to end this. He walked toward the red-faced Afghan smiling, his arms outstretched. As if to say, 'I'm unarmed, let's discuss this like friends.'
Rahman relaxed, and his expression softened. It was the opening Omar needed. With a practiced flick of his hand, he brought the knife from his sleeve into his hand. A swift cut, a sideways slash across the other man's neck. It was a fluid, almost lazy movement, and it was enough. Rahman's expression changed to one of puzzlement and surprise. He put his hand up to his throat, touched it, and looked at the blood smearing his fingers. His eyes jerked back to Nasriri.
It was the last sound that emerged from his mouth. Blood was pouring down his front, dripping to the floor. He fell, dying. For a few seconds he threshed on the floor, trying to suck in air through his ruined throat, and then he shuddered and was still.
Everything in the warehouse was still. The only noise was the hammering of the rain on the roof, insistent and as threatening as the curved, bloody knife. They stared at him shocked, all except Montez, who looked bored.
"You shouldn't have killed him." Hakim's face was screwed up with bitter anger, "He was my cousin. It was just an argument."
"He disobeyed an order; it was more than an argument. He undermined my discipline, and I could not allow it to continue."
"Enough! We have work to do. Get yourself cleaned up. Hozni, Wasef, drag the body outside and throw it into the sea."
He turned to Montez. "Where is this food you promised me? I'm hungry."
"You do not wish to take a shower first?" the Colombian, a fastidious dresser, raised his eyebrows in surprise.
The Al Qaeda commander looked down at his clothes. "I prefer to eat. I have all eternity in which to concern myself with personal hygiene."
"As you wish. Let me show you to the place where we have food ready for you."
He led the way, keeping his distance from the Afghan.
I know you're planning a suicide mission, but personally, I'd prefer not to spend the last days of my life stinking like a rutting hog.
Last night had been terrifying, yet she had no choice. She had to cement Clay to her, to be certain he would help her in her quest for a gun. And she knew only one way of achieving that. After all, she was a woman. Well, she was now.
He'd appeared shy at first, as if he was as much a virgin as she was, although she soon realized it was pretense. No matter, he was a man. His reasons were his own. She felt sick with dread as he touched her and gritted her teeth to endure the embarrassment in silence. Then came the pain of his penetration, and he seemed overly rough. Then again, what did she know? She had to pretend she enjoyed every moment and force herself to smile. After, she'd wiped away the tears.
"You are crying, Esperanza, what's wrong?"
"Tears of joy," she lied, "That was wonderful, Clay. You're a very special man."
He'd hugged her close, and soon they fell asleep. In the early hours of the morning, he awoke and pulled her to him. This time it wasn't quite so painful, although he seemed rough, more demanding than he needed to be. Even so, she forced a smile on her face that wasn't entirely faked. She made him breakfast, 'called him a great lover', and then they set out for the range.
When she held the gun, he fussed around her, correcting her shooting stance. Then she came to fire the weapon, a Heckler & Koch USP Compact automatic, firing a .357 she could use to kill Hidalgo. Small, easily concealed, accurate, and powerful. Once she'd mastered the recoil, she could put eight out of ten rounds inside the outer ring of the target.
It felt good, and the answer to her prayers. Except there was one thing more, she had to take it home with her. She knew about weapons permits, concealed carry permits, and all of the legal requirements that went with gun ownership. There was no way the paperwork could be completed same day, so she had to figure something out. She had to have the gun, now. It was the only way she'd feel safe.
The opportunity came during lunch in the cafeteria attached to the range. He ordered two plates of suspicious-looking burgers and fries, and as he passed across her meal, he regarded her with smiling eyes.
"Dining out in style," he grinned, "It's all they have, sorry."
"That's okay, Clay. It looks wonderful. It's my favorite."
"Really? Hey, that's great. Me too. Next time I'll find somewhere better. Maybe we could eat Colombian. Make you feel more at home."
"Colombian? Why do you say that?"
He shrugged. "I just want to make it special for you, Esperanza. Really special."
She forced herself to take a mouthful of what tasted like minced truck tires.
"You're so kind, Clay. Listen, I need to ask you a favor."
"Anything, name it."
"The HK Compact, I'd like to buy it and take it home. I need to get used to it. You know, stripping it, cleaning it, loading the magazine."
He shook his head. "You can't. That would be illegal."
She forced an expression of sadness on her face, and even managed a couple of tears.
"Really? Oh, Clay, I was so looking forward to it. You know, that automatic is the link between us. It brought us together. It's really special to me, and it means a lot. Every time I touch it, I think, you know. Nice thoughts."
She ran her tongue across her lips, like she'd seen them do it in the movies, a slow, lascivious movement.
She nodded and adopted a look of hurt. After a couple of seconds, she forced a couple more tears to roll down her cheeks. She felt guilty, misleading this gullible boy. Nevertheless, she had to survive and take revenge for her family. That was all that mattered. She'd make it up to Clay afterward, and let him screw her a few times.
His eyes were screwed up in thought, and then they brightened. "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'll buy it for you, as a present."
She flashed him a dazzling smile. "A present!"
"Sure. You can take it with you, and we'll fill in the paperwork later. In the meantime, it'll be held on my license, but it's your gun. I want you to have it."
"Oh, Clay," she breathed, "You're the kindest, nicest guy any girl could ever wish for. I'm so lucky. Thank you so much."
"As long as you're happy, what more could I want? How about we do something tonight, a date? We could go out, maybe take in a movie."
"Or you could come to my place. You know..."
"I'd like that," he murmured.
* * *
They were going down. The storm raged all around them, storm-force winds that tossed the crippled aircraft around the sky. Thunderous rain beat down, blotting out the horizon, making it impossible to see ahead. They needed a miracle to survive, and over the Gulf of Mexico, miracles were in short supply that day.
Vega was inspired, and Nolan took a back seat as the Cuban's hands constantly flew around the controls. Again, he made minute adjustments, sometimes maneuvers so crazy they should have sent the aircraft plummeting to the raging seas below. When he needed help, he barked a string of orders to Nolan.
"We need left rudder, more, more! Move it! Hold it there. Bank right, bank right!"
"It won't move!"
"It'll move. You need to use more force on the column. Treat it like a whore!"
It was a losing battle.
"How far do we have still to run?" Vega shouted.
He looked at the instruments, but most had long ceased to function. The Twin Commander was falling apart, piece-by-piece and bolt-by-bolt. "I don't know, nothing works."
"Get Evers. Tell him to get a fix on his satphone. He should be able to work out where we are. There are air charts in the pocket behind the seat."
"Will you be okay?"
"Just do it!"
He jumped up, ran back to the cabin, and passed the order to the CIA man.
"Sure, I'll do what I can."
He noticed Evers had a gash down his face from when he'd fallen during a particularly violent maneuver. Blood was still dripping down his cheek.
"You should get Eva to look at that."
"As soon as you've checked our position. If you pass out with blood loss, you'll be no use to us when we reach Miami."
Evers stared at him. "If we reach Miami."
"We'll make it. If anyone can do it, Vega can."
A pause. "Nolan, even if we do make it, Montez has a shitload of men on the ground. We can't fight them all?"
"True. But we're not there to fight them all, just to stop those Islamic bastards from destroying a chunk of American real estate."
"We'll have to kill them, you know that. It's the only way to stop them."
"Yeah, I'd kind of worked that out. We've tangled with characters like these before. Get that cut attended to. There'll be killing to do when we land. I want you fit."
Evers nodded, took out the satphone, and moved to the Perspex window to look for a signal. John-Wesley was still sitting on the floor, holding onto a bunch of canvas webbing straps to stay in one place. His cold eyes were fixed on Eva, who was with Brad and Will. Nolan called over to him.
"Ryder, everything okay back there?"
He didn't take his eyes off the girl. "Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."
The guy's off his trolley.
He recognized the passage from Revelations, source of enough material to feed the lunatic fringe until the end of time.
He went back to the cockpit and looked down through the side window. A gap had opened up through the roiling clouds, and he was able to see the angry waters below. He'd already known they were descending but wanted to confirm it.
"We're going down."
Vega nodded. "We're going down."
"Can we make it?"
"I'll know more when you have that fix."
A couple of minutes elapsed, and then Evers came up front. He gave Vega a list of numbers and said, "To save time, I worked out our location. If we stay on this course, we'll make landfall one hundred klicks west of Miami, and we have another hundred klicks to reach our destination. Say two hundred kilometers. Can we make it?"
Vega looked out the windows all around the aircraft. The single engine still gamely drove them forward, although it occasionally missed a beat, causing them to lurch to one side. Finally, he nodded. "If nothing else goes wrong with the plane, and if the storm does not worsen, maybe." He glanced out again and then looked at the cockpit chronometer, the only instrument that appeared to be working.
"I'd estimate we'll land shortly after dusk, say 2130."
"That's great," Evers enthused.
"Yes. It also means if we go down, they'll never find us in these seas, and in the dark."
"Uh, right. Best not go down. Keep her flying, Vega."
He smiled. "My thoughts exactly. Now leave us to nurse this crippled museum piece to our destination."
"Evers, before you go."
He looked at Nolan. "Yeah."
"Keep an eye on Ryder."
"I noticed, he has a screw loose."
"My guess is he'd kill Eva if he has half a chance."
"What do you want me to do, if I think he's about to do it?"
Evers stared at him for several seconds. He didn't reply, just went aft, back to the cabin. Vega flew on, and then abruptly he told Nolan to take over the controls.
"I need to make some calculations."
Without another word, he got to his feet and rummaged in the lockers at the rear of the cockpit. He came back to his seat with a US road map, a notebook and a pen, and started to make calculations. When he'd finished, he put them down, put his hands on the controls, throttled back slightly, and looked at Nolan.
"We might make it."
"I've recalculated our glide path. That's why I throttled back. At the current speed and rate of descent, we'll crash land about fifty klicks short."
"But...I thought you said..."
"I know what I said. I'm heading for a less turbulent area up ahead, and besides, when we reach land, conditions will change. I'm hoping they'll moderate."
"And if they don't?"
He shrugged. "In that case, we'll crash. Either into the sea or on the land, wherever we are at the time." At that moment, the port engine stuttered, ragged for a few seconds, and then picked up again, "Too much of that, and we won't be looking at whether we reach Miami or not. It'll be a simple question of survival."
"If that happens, we..."
He didn't finish. There was an explosion from the port engine, and a cloud of black smoke poured out of the exhausts. Vega fought to keep them level, despite the aircraft trying to send them into a spiral, one that would only end when they hit the cold, angry seas below. For several seconds the engine misfired, spluttered, caught, misfired again, and then resumed its steady beat. Vega nodded.
"It's been doing that more and more. Something’s getting worse.”
“How much worse?”
“A lot worse.”
“So we’re fucked.”
Vega met his gaze. “Maybe.”
* * *
By a miracle of piloting and sheer luck, they made landfall off the southwest coast of Florida. Since that moment out in the Gulf when they almost lost their remaining engine, the port motor decided to behave itself. But the storm was worsening. Evers came into the cockpit, clinging to handholds as he made his way through the bucking plane.
"I called Jerry Jackson in El Paso and asked him to check the latest info on Montez's compound. According to the local man, a truck arrived an hour ago and unloaded."
He looked at a loss. "That's all. They couldn't see what it carried, but it could have been our targets."
"Or it could have delivered a new office desk and a couple of chairs."
He reddened. "I wish I could have found out more. Sorry."
He returned to the cabin, and Vega fought to keep the Twin Commander on course and in the air. It wasn't easy. The storm was worsening by the minute, and they'd started to hear suggestions of a hurricane coming in from the Caribbean. They were twenty kilometers out from Miami when the port engine misfired again, and again.
They stared at each other grimly, waiting for it to settle, but the misfires only got worse.
Vega shouted, "Start the starboard engine!"
Nolan stared at him. "But it's worse than this one."
"It's had a chance to cool down. Maybe it'll behave for a little while, enough for us to reach our destination. Fuel cocks on. Do it!"
Nolan went through the start procedure and pressed the button. The engine fired almost immediately, coughed a cloud of smoke from the exhaust and stopped. He tried it again, another cough of smoke; it started, hesitated, and picked up. Inside a minute, it was running as sweetly as if it had never been a problem.