Authors: Don Pendleton,Stivers,Dick
Tags: #Fiction, #det_action, #Men's Adventure
"Photographs, notes," she replied.
"The information is not in the automobile. We have a rented apartment in this city. Would you take me there? I could give..."
"We'll discuss this," Blancanales interrupted. He glanced at Lyons and Gadgets. "Conference time."
They went to a far corner of the garage. Blancanales covered the young woman where she sat against the car.
"What do you two think?" Lyons asked them. "You both know Vietnamese people better than I do."
"That woman is one of the smartest people I ever ran up against," Gadgets told them. "And I know,
, it isn't the way she says."
"It's lies inside of lies," Blancanales concurred. "But you'd better believe they want those people dead. Exterminated."
"We need the information she's talking about," Lyons told them. "I want the photos. I want the notes. Even when we do get the psychos inside the Tower, that won't mean we've got their
"Right," Blancanales said. "I've got a folder full of punks and crazies, but none among them is the mastermind."
Inside the satchel slung over Gadgets' shoulder, a hand-radio buzzed. "Hardman Three here," he responded.
"Mr. Taxi relaying a message." All of them could hear the voice coming from the hand-radio. "There's a man named Brognola screaming for you all. He says to get back to the Tower,
. I mean, he is pissed. Over."
Lyons keyed the hand-radio. "Tell him we're coming back real quick. Tell him there's been significant progress."
"Things must be critical over there," Gadgets said. "But so is this."
"Okay, you two go back," Lyons offered. "I'll go with her."
"I can send back my info with Gadgets," Blancanales countered. "You'll need backup if you're going to find out what she's talking about."
"You two be careful now," Gadgets warned. "That chick is dangerous."
Lyons checked his watch. Thirty-six hours remaining. "Five o'clock, gentlemen. Time sure flies when you're having fun."
On the fifty-third floor of the World Financial Corporation Tower, in the offices of Eastern European Accounts, the afternoon went very slowly. Charlie Green, as reluctant commander of his office staff, prepared the women to defend themselves if the terrorists came to their floor.
First, he went to the custodian's closet and kicked down the door. He found a few tools, a set of master keys for the floor, and coveralls. He stripped off his running clothes and slipped on the coveralls. If the terrorists got him, he didn't want them to think he was an executive. The coveralls also gave him pockets for the .45 automatic and the tools and keys.
Opening an office near the elevators, he posted Diane as sentry. She seemed to be the coolest of the three young women. He placed her so that she had maximum concealment and safety. "Sit in here, keep the door open only two or three inches, and watch those elevators. If anybody, I mean,
— crazies, police, phone company, security guards — comes out on this floor, you let out a scream, then close this door. They'll have to break it down. That'll warn us. I'll be back in a few minutes to work out an escape plan for you."
"You mean they get me so that you others can get away?" Diane asked sarcastically. "I think you ought to get another volunteer."
"Only for awhile," he assured her. "Then we'll have a better plan in operation."
Green returned to the other women. As the director of the department, Green had the largest office on this floor. There was a large work area for clerks and computer workers, a reception area with Mrs. Forde's desk, then his private office.
"Jill," he told the terrified young woman in thick glasses, "go to the janitor's room. The door's open. There's a dolly for moving furniture in there. Bring it here. Sandy, go to my office and tear down the drapes. Separate the nylon cord from the hardware, coil it up." Green waited until the young women left the office.
"Now, Mrs. Forde," he said, turning to her last. "We plan an ambush."
For the next half hour, they moved filing cabinets, shifted furniture, improvised booby-traps. Green briefed each woman on her role. "It's not necessary for us to kill them all. We don't have to kill any of them. We'll just give them a surprise, and that'll slow them down while we retreat. These three offices will be surprise number one. Then we go up into the ceiling and into the other offices. And the more time they give us before they come searching this floor, the more surprises we'll have ready for them..."
Leaving Mrs. Forde in charge of the "surprise," Green roamed through the other offices of the fifty-third floor. He ripped down drapes, pasted sheets of computer printout against the plate glass. He wanted the police to know people were trapped on the floor.
Perhaps rescue was possible. But he doubted they could be rescued before the police recaptured the Tower.
In fact, it was with some relief that he doubted the value of any preparations to avoid the terrorists. The Tower had a hundred floors, a thousand offices, many thousands of rooms and cubicles. If the terrorists had hostages to guard, police to watch, demands to negotiate, they wouldn't have time to search the Tower. There would have to be a hundred terrorists.
The preparations were busy-work, for the women and for him. Panic was their greatest enemy. If he gave the women plans to remember and positions to hold, they would have less time to be afraid.
He knew from his tours in Vietnam that waiting created fear. When trouble came, it came fast. It was life or death. But in the hours or days or months of waiting, the imagination created terrors. He'd had some bad times over there, but some of the worst times were the nights without action, without contact, when there was only darkness and fear and imagination.
Finding a transistor radio in one of the offices, he started back to the women. He paused to test Diane. Part of the "surprise" was her new position as sentry. She sat in the corridor where she could watch all the elevators. If anyone were to come onto the floor, either from the elevators or from the emergency stairs at each end of the corridor, she was to run into the office, set the plan in action.
She saw him, started, but recognized him before she gave a false alarm. "You trying to scare me?" she asked, giggling nervously.
"Take a break," he told her. "Switch with Jill or Sandy. Time to listen to the news."
Back in his office, Green scanned the rooftops of the nearby buildings. Almost invisible in the shadows of a building's air-conditioning stacks, a black-clad sniper waited. "That's the police," said Green with assurance.
Switching on the radio, he spun the dial. But they heard no reports of terrorists on Wall Street, or of shots fired at executives, or of a hostage drama in the financial district.
"Don't they know what's happening to us?" Jill asked. "Are they keeping it a secret? What's going on down there that they have to keep it a secret from everyone?"
Green sat her down in his desk chair. "Calm, kiddo. Be cool. Nothing secret's going on. Why don't you stay here at the window and let us know what happens down there? Just watch, okay?"
It would be a long afternoon. He knew he could keep his staff calm for a few more hours; but what if the siege went on into the night? What if the terrorists cut the lights in the upper floors? What if the terrorists came searching for them in the pitch darkness of a blacked-out Tower? Who would keep
* * *
In the second-floor office of Tower security, Zuniga listened to a federal agent speaking calmly and patiently of negotiation. He leaned back in the swivel chair, held the phone's hand-set away from his ear. The voice droned on.
"With the Puerto Rican elections so close," the agent reminded him, "do you think an incident like this will promote your cause? Your own sympathizers might support your action, but what of the millions of Puerto Ricans who are not so certain in their opinions? We should resolve this incident quickly, before something unfortunate turns those millions of your people against you. Your seizure of the Corporation's Tower will give you international publicity, that's for sure, but..."
Operating through a different circuit and switcher from the other phone lines serving the Tower, the security office's line remained open because neither Zuniga's squad nor the police had cut it. Ana had been trained to jam the building's main switcher without destroying it. She had later bypassed the jamming to test for outside interference. All the lines were now jammed from the outside also. Zuniga was sure that if he attempted to call out, the number and conversation would be monitored. But that did not disturb him. Communication with his leader was unnecessary.
"...loss of life and terror won't help your cause with other nations. After all, the United States has anti-terrorist treaties with most of the nations of the world, even Cuba and the Soviet Union."
Zuniga's walkie-talkie buzzed. He covered the phone's mouthpiece, keyed the walkie-talkie. "Squad leader here."
"Calling from the lobby. We have movement in the plaza."
"Watch them. I'll be there soon." Then he spoke into the telephone. "This is what we want. I'll repeat it again. One, freedom for Puerto Rico. Two, freedom for all Puerto Ricans in the jails and prisons of the fascist Federal States of America. Three, a ticker-tape parade for myself and my squad!"
Laughing, Zuniga slammed down the phone, left the security office. He took the elevator up one floor to the auditorium. There, Julio watched the doors of the auditorium, from time to time unlocking the doors to glance inside.
"Any problems?" Zuniga asked him.
Julio laughed. "Crying and screaming. People begging me."
"Any of them try to make a break?"
"I wish!" Julio caressed the steel and black fiberglass of his M-16. "You see that fat man I greased? Just like someone dropped a bagful of shit and guts. All over the floor."
"Anyone give you trouble, wait until I come up. We'll do something interesting."
"There's a stage in there, right? We'll make an example of them. Give the Yankees something to watch."
Going down to the first floor, Zuniga saw Rico scanning the plaza surrounding the Tower, standing exposed to view. The squad had no fear of federal snipers. Zuniga had warned the agents watching the Tower that shooting one of his soldiers would mean death to ten hostages.
"There," Rico pointed as Zuniga joined him. "They moved from the barricade to those bushes. One of them carried something."
He took Rico's binoculars, focused the four-power lenses on a hedge a hundred yards past the plate glass of the lobby. Zuniga could not see a face, but there was a silhouette visible through the pattern of the branches and leaves.
"Do I shoot him?" Rico asked.
"Wait. Watch him. Call me if he moves again."
Zuniga keyed his walkie-talkie three times. Ana answered him. "Are you finished?" he asked her.
"Almost. A few more."
Below him, in the cavernous first parking level, Ana and Luisa worked to protect the squad from surprise assault. In the first minutes of the takeover, Ana had placed claymores to guard the squad's rear as they moved into the Tower. But those claymores were "quickies," as Zuniga called them. Now, they placed a second set of anti-personnel devices, following diagrams Zuniga had prepared in the months of planning for the takeover.
The diagrams indicated the placement of each claymore and bomb, the monofilament trip-lines or pressure-triggers, and the kill zones. The positions were numbered on the diagrams to correspond to the tags on the preassembled and individually packed devices. Zuniga knew at the outset that he would not have the soldiers to guard the parking level's street entrances. He knew also that his soldiers' limited training could not match the expertise of the New York City and FBI bomb squads. Zuniga had left nothing to chance.
He went down to the parking level to inspect their work. Ana accompanied him, pointing out each claymore or bomb, and its trigger. His planning and preparation had allowed Ana and Luisa to move quickly, simply removing each device from its container, then putting it in position.
Claymores guarded the rollaway steel doors blocking the entrance from the street. Aimed to spray thousands of glass beads across the entry, the triggers were nearly invisible strands of monofilament. One claymore would explode if someone tripped over the monofilament. But the second and third would not: the second would explode if the monofilament trigger were cut, so any officer attempting to defuse the device would be killed or dismembered. The third claymore, though on the same monofilament trigger, would not explode until three minutes later, perhaps killing other officers who came to the aid of the wounded or dying.
Zuniga had packed the claymores with glass beads because glass, unlike lead or steel, is invisible to X rays. Any officer wounded would suffer the rest of his life.
Throughout the vast garage, strands of monofilament criss-crossed the concrete. Some strands were at ankle height, others at chest height. Some trigger strands were false, only there to confuse and delay a defusing team. But many strands led to claymores.
Near the elevator doors, a thin electrical wire led from a rubber mat to a detonator set in half a kilo of C-4. But the wire was dead, and the detonator a fake. The C-4 charge would explode only if the fake detonator were pulled from the charge.
At the doors to the stairways leading up to the lobby, claymores had been placed in the pipes and wiring in the ceiling. But the devices were not triggered by tightly stretched monofilament. Instead, many tiny three-barbed fish hooks hung at waist height on transparent nylon wire. If an officer brushed past the hooks, the hooks would catch in his clothing and trigger the claymore. On the other side of the door, there were simple pull-triggers: if someone pulled open the door, he died.
As a final touch to frustrate the defusing teams, Ana and Luisa scattered bits of C-4 explosive. On the concrete, under the few parked cars, in the drains, in the recesses of the concrete ceiling. A dog trained to sniff out explosives would smell C-4 everywhere.
Their work pleased Zuniga. The two young women had secured the Tower against attack from below. Zuniga had often had discipline problems with the women in the months of rehearsal, but the thrill of their role — knowing they might kill or dismember many police officers — drove the young women on through the long hours of lessons. And now another force drove them. Fear. If the police succeeded in storming the Tower, the squad faced death or capture. And capture meant the living death of life in the high-security prisons of the enemy.
"Excellent! Excellent!" he told them.
Luisa laughed. "If the pigs try to get through here, I'm gonna come down and take a look, after it's all over."
"Now the lobby," Zuniga told them. He punched the elevator's up button. "And when you're done there, we'll put together a special surprise for our hostages. For when they escape:"
The doors slid closed. In the privacy of the elevator, he allowed himself a smile. The plan was progressing smoothly. In the first few hours of the siege, they had accomplished all their objectives. They had cut the building's communications. They had placed the explosives and incendiaries. They had captured the corporation's employees. The squad would soon be safe from police attack. The only threat to the plan was the shattering of the radio-detonator when Ana lost her pistol to the man in the jogging suit. But the loss of the detonator would not be a problem. The "escape" of the employees would trigger the charges.