Authors: Don Pendleton,Dick Stivers
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Fiction, #General, #det_action, #Men's Adventure
A power-hungry Texas billionaire was planning to stage a revolution in Mexico. But the FBI and CIA knew only that their agents, sent to infiltrate his mysterious strike force of elite mercs, had suffered horrible deaths.
The president's decision — send in Able Team!
Breaking through the high security of the crazen Texan's base, Bolan's reborn Death Squad begins a blitzing series of combat events that bring them into the very hellheart of the drug wars of Bolivia and the Caribbean — and the sex war of the billionaire's Mexican debutante wife.
Surrounded by assassination, betrayal, and revenge, Gadgets Schwarz, Pol Blancanales and Carl Lyons must not fail — only they can stop open war between the United States and Mexico.
Proofed by unsung hero.
Jet blast tore at their clothes.
Carl Lyons cupped his hands over his ears, followed Gadgets Schwarz up the aluminum steps. An enlisted man ran after them with their overnight bags and the suitcase containing their weapons. Pausing in the jet's door, Lyons glanced back as the helicopter that had ferried them from Stony Man Farm in Virginia lifted from the concrete, the shriek of its rotors overwhelming even the roar of the USAF jet's engines. In seconds, the helicopter was lost in the night sky. Carl Lyons entered the jet. Another mission.
"Where to this time?" Gadgets asked Brognola.
"Bolivia." That good man Hal Brognola, now powerfully ensconced as Stony Man's White House liaison, had their briefing already prepared. He gave them folders with photos and typed sheets. Maps and grainy black-and-white aerial photos covered the conference table.
"Where's the Politician?" Lyons wanted to know. His blue eyes coolly observed the documentary data. His frame, robust like a veteran cop's but lean, youthful, was hunched as if in preparation for the action to come.
"Blancanales is already on his way. He was in the city, so we sent him on ahead while we assembled this information. He's better qualified to go in cold. At least in South America."
"What's going on there?" Lyons asked. He flipped through his information folder, saw maps of New Mexico, Texas, northern Mexico. "If we're going to Bolivia, why..."
"Who's this Monroe?" Gadgets held up a color photo of an elderly man in a suit ten years out of style. Airbrushing had added flesh-tone pink, but the old man's skin remained dead gray.
"You're going to Bolivia so that you can meet Mr. Monroe in Texas."
"Why don't we just go there straight?" Lyons queried impatiently.
"Two federal agents did exactly that. And now they're dead." Brognola glanced at his watch. "We have approximately fourteen hours until we arrive in La Paz. Read through the material. Prepare your questions."
"Who were the men who died?" Lyons asked.
"One was FBI. They found what was left of his body in a burned-out car. The next man was CIA. They found his body in a ditch. Death from exposure and sunstroke. Restraint marks on his wrists and ankles. He'd been staked out until he died, then dumped. But all of that is in your folders. Study the information. Your lives depend on it. You're the next men in."
Born the illegitimate son of a soldier and a West Virginia farmgirl, Tate Monroe went to Texas before he turned seventeen. Starting out as a laborer, he learned oil drilling and became a wildcatter. He earned his first million dollars in 1928, when he was almost twenty-one years old. Alarmed by the irrational economics of the late 1920s, he diversified into Latin American oil, minerals, and agriculture. The Great Depression multiplied his wealth.
He insured his Latin American holdings by investing in dictators. When political upheaval threatened his companies, he financed both the repression and the revolution, first buying the loyalty of the government in power, then, through a maze of false bank accounts and fictitious persons, buying the gratitude of all possible challengers to the government. Unverified reports alleged that Monroe often resorted to direct involvement to determine the future of small nations. The reports quoted second— and thirdhand stories of bribery, disappearance, assassination and atrocity. American agencies pursuing in-depth investigations lost contacts and agents. Mysterious fires destroyed records in agency offices, not only in Latin American countries but in Washington, D.C. Agency directors received warnings from congressmen and senators that if the agencies did not return their attention to the prosecution of criminals and communists, they risked severe cutbacks in funding. Investigations ended abruptly.
But he could not stop the nationalization of his Mexican oil fields in 1938. President of Mexico Lazaro Cardenas was not to be bribed. President Cardenas refused to bow to Monroe's threats; he put the future of his nation above his own survival. Monroe could not get his assassins within range of the president before the brave Mexican completed the nationalization. And then Monroe could not take revenge: even if he could have killed President Cardenas, the assassination would not have regained Monroe's holdings; and further, the assassination would have risked war between Mexico and the United States, when the American government wanted Mexico as an ally against the European fascists. Secret memos revealed that only personal intervention by President Roosevelt and several senators convinced Monroe he would serve the interests of the United States and the Allies by accepting his Mexican losses.
But Monroe's compliance had a price. Unknown to the public and other defense industries, the War Department exempted Monroe's industries from competitive bidding. World War II made Tate Monroe a billionaire.
Newspaper and magazine writers created an American legend of Monroe's life. A poor boy who wrenched wealth from the Texas frontier by his own strength and daring made for sensational reading. As a man, his exploits filled the pages of the financial sections and the Hollywood gossip columns, as one day he led his workers to recapture a remote oilfield from communist revolutionaries, and the next day he took to bed an actress twenty years his junior. Heard in the rumor mills were the sounds of jazz and starlets' laughter in the primitive camps of his isolated enterprises. But there were other stories that would never appear in newspapers or magazines. Filed in locked cabinets of government agencies and the "Capitalist Atrocity" stacks of leftist agitators, these other stories detailed the annihilation of Indian tribes, spoke of "examples" made by chainsaw mutilation, "police actions" fought with Thompson submachine and Browning machine guns against machetes and rocks. The use of a "field-expedient" napalm — crude oil mixed with gasoline and dropped from a thousand feet in 50-gallon drums — became a standard device in Monroe's so-called Indigenous Education Program.
Then in the fifties and sixties, Monroe International was forced into retreat. Revolutions seized some operations. Dictators not content with bribes representing only one or two per cent of profits took one hundred per cent. But financial analysts knew that the single most significant cause mirrored the decline of the man Monroe. Earlier in his life, when an affair with an actress or model or singer took him away from his company, company profits leveled and exploration ceased. Monroe had no faith in underlings who could not equal his cunning and brutality, yet never trusted those who matched him. As his health failed — there was skin cancer, minor ailments, a major heart problem — his company operation withdrew to those sectors that could be managed by bank staff and accountants who never raised their voices in anger. Monroe lost his Latin American operations or leased them to the more dynamic multinationals.
He did not enjoy his retirement. His mind was twisted by age and medication, and Monroe ranted, for hours about how his corporation's decline began in 1938, when politics stopped his attempt to retake the Mexican oilfields.
The United States government relaxed its surveillance of the aging oilman. Monroe was seemingly an old man near death. Newspapers did not even print his rantings anymore. He was no threat.
Until the news about the mercenary army.
"And that's when the FBI tried to slip a man in," Lyons commented. "They waited until the old creep had pulled in his horns, then tried to move a man in when it was already too late. Not smart!"
"Why Bolivia?" Gadgets asked. "Monroe had some kind of operation going there?"
"Blancanales will brief us when we arrive," Brognola answered. "I think you two should get through the information here so you have time for some sleep. We have a full program for you after you leave La Paz..."
"Wait a second, Hal," Lyons interrupted. "Monroe's people have just offed an FBI man and a CIA man. He has people in the agencies, that's for sure."
"No. The agencies dropped several suspects. There's no chance there's..."
"No chance? Then what happened to the two Feds? One day they get the assignment, the next day they're dead. I want to know this: Who knows Blancanales is down there? And who knows about us?"
"No one knows. All of your team's operations are 'Top Secret.'"
Lyons looked over to Gadgets, held up a stack of forms. Each form had the photo and biographical details of an agent. Each form was stamped TOP SECRET. And at the bottom of every form, in red ink, were the notations: "Disappeared, presumed dead."
Passing the commercial airline terminals, the jet continued to the end of La Paz International's landing field. There, the military jet came to a stop among the parked aircraft of the Bolivian government and the official jets of the diplomatic community. As American Embassy personnel unloaded pouches and airfreight, Gadgets and Lyons, in military technicians' coveralls, slipped from the jet. Neither of them, bespectacled Gadgets least of all, looked like a soldier of Mack Bolan in such guise.
They carried their overnight bags into a hangar. Brognola followed a minute later in a pilot's uniform.
An airline-catering van took them from the airport. The local CIA station had prepared civilian clothes for them, including Kevlar bulletproof vests.
"What's the point with the vests?" Lyons protested. "Anyone serious will have an assault rifle or an Uzi."
"Part of the uniform," Brognola informed them. "Down here, all the businessmen and all their bodyguards wear them. Besides it gets cold at night."
"Which are we?" Gadgets asked. "Businessmen or..."
Brognola smiled. He handed them briefcases. Each contained an Uzi and several thirty-round magazines. "There's also a plate of Hotspur steel in the briefcases..."
Lyons tapped each of his Uzi mags to seat the cartridges. "A plate of what?"
"Hotspur steel plate. Konzaki called ahead and insisted on it. It'll stop all pistols, all fragmentation, and all standard auto-rifle rounds."
"Like this?" Gadgets held up the briefcase like a shield.
Lyons laughed. "Yeah, if you see a bullet coming, just quick fast block it. Uh-huh."
Brognola laughed, too. "You have something of Striker's sense of humor, Mr. Lyons."
The van lurched to a stop. The driver's voice announced: "Taxi waiting."
"Go, gentlemen. Straight out the back doors. I'll follow in another taxi."
"Where's Blancanales?" Lyons asked as he swung open the doors.
"He's there. Now go! No time for talk."
As they stepped from the van the brilliant afternoon sun blinded them. Blinking for a moment, Lyons looked around. They stood in the gutter of a narrow street. A few steps away, a taxi idled. At the corner of the block, two Indian women squatted against a pastel blue wall. A cast-iron pot boiled on a charcoal fire.
"Those Indians," Lyons marvelled. "They're wearing derby hats!"
Schwarz pulled Lyons to the taxi. "You heard the boss. Got no time to play tourist. Time to join up with the Political Man and get to work."
"But can you believe it? Derbies?"
Avoiding the city's boulevards, the taxi driver wove through the back streets of La Paz, slowing for buses and trucks, accelerating over cobblestones and potholes to race other taxis through the intersections. Soldiers marched on these streets.
Tires screeching, the taxi stopped.
"Adios," Gadgets said to the elderly Latin driver as they got out.
"And a good journey to you, men," the driver replied in bizarre Scottish-accented English. He pointed to an open shop door. "There be your address."
Then they stood alone in the street. The taxi screeched around the corner, disappeared into traffic. "Derbies and Scots," Gadgets laughed. "Bolivia's weird."
Stepping through the doorway, Lyons smelled the foul-sweet odor of excrement and blood and cordite. Death. He reached back to caution Gadgets, felt the muzzle of his companion's Uzi. Lyons slid the Colt Python from his shoulder holster, continued forward.
Past an entryway was a hallway. A skylight cast a soft yellow light on the polished linoleum. Lyons saw the doors to several rooms. All were closed, but a pattern of light marked one door and the hallway floor. Silent in his soft-soled shoes, Lyons moved closer.
He pointed to himself, pointed at the door. Gadgets nodded. Kicking the door open, Lyons threw himself against the wall, waited. He and Gadgets watched the other doors. Finally, Lyons peeked into the room.
Rosario Blancanales lay on the floor, his face bluish gray, his chest and gut ripped open by point-blank shotgun blasts.