Tri Border Tangos
Berringer pulled up another PowerPoint diagram and moved a red laser light across it to the largest of a dozen thatched huts set back three hundred yards from Casa Urraca. “This hutch is where they hold our girls. The best NRO images we can get shows that they take what appears to be fourteen of them, outside in shifts for regimented exercise and sunshine. Keeping up their health and appearance keeps the price high. These images are yesterday. We take the hutch when they are all inside so they don’t scatter when hell breaks loose.”
Berringer gave Hawke and his team a somber look, his eyes flashed hatred and vengeance. “If we can save fourteen innocent young Aryan girls from a brutal hell at the hands of these rabid jackals, however short or long their life would be, it will make it all worthwhile. Otherwise, we lose them, and must wait for their next shipment in a couple of days. I want our girls today, and I want their operations stopped.”
Berringer flicked the PowerPoint screen and a front elevation of the main building came up. He moved the red laser in slow circles around the four story high windows spanning its entire three hundred foot width, separated with vertical steel reinforced columns of rock every fifty feet.
“This is where the meeting is talking place, in this large reception area. Scum of the earth from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico… there will be twenty four of them, emissaries from each nation as well as their confidant staffs.” Berringer looked at Hawke. “This is where Bogi Talon and his team will cause the diversion, enable them to land the S-76, get the girls from you and get out.”
Berringer paused and looked each of them in the eye and held their gaze before moving slow to the next. No one spoke; they watched him and jolted in their seats when Berringer shouted. “They will all get out safe and alive if you do your SpecOps as planned, do you understand that… god damn it?!”
Hawke got out of his chair and walked closer to the screen. “Diversion you say? What will that be?”
“You will know when it happens.”
Hawke walked forward, a threat in his cold blue eyes. “Bullshit. What diversion?”
Berringer pointed his outstretched cane. “Mr. Hawke, I know these people, what they are capable of and we need your full attention on your ground game, not what might happen or when it will happen. When it happens, you will know. You will goddamned know, okay!”
Their pilot closed the door behind them, settled into the pilot’s seat and ordered everyone to strap into their harness. He radioed the tower for takeoff clearance, taxied to the runway, stopped at the end and squared up to the centerline. He ran the bird through all its controls and lowered his head in a silent prayer. The others did the same.
O’Malley raised his head, kissed his fingertips and patted the dash. He reached to the center console and eased a bank of throttles forward. The massive twin radial engines roared to life as the PBY, Patty Belle Yonder accelerated down the runway.
Moments later, her wheels came off the tarmac, retracted into the side of the fuselage, and the cumbersome behemoth she was on the ground became a graceful craft headed toward the open green of the Brazilian jungle with power and authority.
Their flight was six hundred and seventy miles over desolate, uninhabited jungle, rivers, and swamps. They headed toward the world’s most deadly terrorist training camps, supply and staging grounds of the Tri Border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
O’Malley eased back on the throttles, nosed up a bit and set the PBY down as graceful as a Canada goose gliding onto a glassed over lake. The sudden sound of water rushed past the hull, a welcome change from the monotonous drone of the twin radials and reality of the mission rushed into their quickened minds.
Everyone sat forward as the PBY motored toward a small gray beach, backed by dense trees where they unloaded the gear for five men, two women and seven TajTel modified, oversized-fat-tire Honda trail bikes. The bikes would get them as close as possible to the complex without detection, seven miles northwest; five through jungle and two through open agriculture fields that surrounded the casa that they must do on foot and crawl where necessary.
Two of Ike’s imports from Australia, both seasoned door gunners that worked as a team on UH-60 Black Hawks in Afghanistan, stayed aboard to man the PBY’s upgraded waist guns, two 7.62mm Miniguns under slung with semi-auto M75 grenade launchers. They were the same setup as the helicopters. O’Malley would handle the twin .50 caliber front turret guns.
Ralph and his men at the IOSX machine shop equipped the bikes with NRO-grade surveillance detection scanners that monitored a broad range of infrared, radio and microwave signals that would be part of any perimeter warning system. RogueOps Lightning Strike electronics would jam those signals without alerting any Tri Border surveillance monitoring stations. McChafin would not cut off their various signals, but intercept them, relay them to the TajTel CRAY computers via satellite to the IOSX ControlCenter. That looped the signals back to the Tango stations at the speed of light with corrupt but believable data. They would be unaware that anything was wrong.
Maddox, Inga, Drake, Annika, Rico, Chev and Hawke loaded the Kydex saddlebags with gear they didn’t already strapped over their shoulders, and checked their radio and communications jamming equipment mounted on aluminum racks in front of the handlebars. They saddled up and headed down a small game trail under the dark green canopy high overhead.
Two miles in, Hawke pulled the lanyard out of his black mesh vest, looked at his SatCom imaging and spoke into his helmet mic. “I’m getting live feeds from TajTel now. There is a marshy slough about one hundred yards up. GPS elevations show that it is too deep to cross, but we can get around it to the south if we cut a forty-degree angle here. “Hawke found another animal trail and the others followed, swinging machetes and cutting away as much overhead and side brush as they could. The going was slow and the insects shielded from any breeze swarmed them.
It got darker, the brush denser and the closer they got to the slough the insects got thicker. Hawke stopped. They all took out cans of repellent from their Kydex saddlebags; pressure dusted themselves and their bikes and tossed the cans into the heavy brush. It helped, but the onslaught continued, getting into their clothing and bit at everything as they struggled against the poison that killed quickly.
Hawke slapped his sleeve and smashed a large intruder against his firearm; slimy ooze stained his shirt. Inga cursed and slashed a snake in half that hung from a low branch with her Busse Parange combat machete. Not fifty feet off the game trail, each of them noticed a large gold and black spotted Jaguar that watched them from its lounge in the crotch of a large tree. It seemed casual and without a care, arms hanging down with paws as big as saucers, but it seemed keen on something other than them. A sudden crash through the brush told them what that was. Two wild boars charged out of nowhere and slammed into Hawke and Inga as they launched off their foot pegs and threw themselves to the other side. Hawke was not quick enough. The first boar had his boot and lower leg caught against his overturned bike and struggled to get its own legs away from the hot engine and out of the framework. Hawke pulled himself to a sitting position and smashed the heel of his left boot into the boar’s snout. Blood gushed out with every kick, having little effect but frenzy the two hundred pound beast. It sank its teeth harder into Hawke’s calf high multipurpose SpecOps boots, ripped and tore its head sideways and wrenched Hawke’s ankle and knee with every violent twist.
If he didn’t do something quick to stop it, he would have a broken leg, or a ripped knee or ankle or both, or a ripped out throat. Hawke tried to get at his H&K 9mm but it was wedged in the soft and spongy dirt under his right hip. His Parange machete lay five feet away, he knew he couldn’t reach it and pulled his Fallkniven combat knife, slashed at the animal, but he was a foot short. The boar bit harder, twisted at his boot. He leaned as far forward as he could, slashed again and missed. The boar let go of his leg as its own came free and then lunged at Hawke’s head. Two feet from his face, he could smell the putrid, foul breath and braced for the hard impact certain to be his chest and head. Four muffled shots sang past his left ear, close enough the shockwave knocked his ballistic glasses off as he watched the beast’s right eye explode in a pink mist. Chunks of brain matter and bone blew outward as two more holes appeared in its forehead.