The Columbian Coast
Pedro Alvarez was not the youngest of men. He was forty-two years old, with graying hair, browning eyes and a distinct dislike for waiting. So he was not happy to be sitting on a rock, waiting for a transmission. The ship carrying the Special Forces was scheduled to check-in at 0800. It was now 0807. He checked his radio, but it was working fine.
“Blast, this is not good.”
He rubbed his face. In his twenty-two years in the Intelligence Directorate, he had learned that missing a check-in was as good as a death sentence. Pedro waited until 0815, then he made a decision.
“Time to go to Plan B.”
He packed up his radio and walked away. This was not good. It would take time set up Plan B, and he had a feeling that they didn’t have any.
Marcus had caught a lucky break. He had found a small hill that had given him a chance to get a clearer view of his surroundings. And, he spotted a road. The road was bound to lead somewhere, so he headed towards it. But his luck ran out before he could reach it. He was about forty meters from the road when he spotted the parachutes. There were four of them, neatly folded and inside a hole. He passed them, then heard the click of weapons being readied. Seconds later, he felt the cold barrel of a Glock 17 pistol in his neck.
“Hello Marcus.” Adam said. “Turn around.”
He turned around to face Adam.
“Where is Rina ?”
“She’s dead. Our truck crashed. How did you find me ?”
“There’s a tracking chip in your left shoe. It has a range of ten kilometers, so don’t bother trying to escape.”
“What are you wasting time with him for !?” One of Adam’s team-mates snapped. “He’s a dead man, anyway !”
“Calm down, Anton.”
Anton drew his weapon and pointed it at Marcus.
“He a traitor and now we know he’s also a murderer ! Truck crash, my ass ! Rina figured out who he really was, so he killed her.” Anton cocked his weapon. “I say we kill him right here.”
“That’s enough !” Adam snapped. “We will…”
That was as far as he got, because then two bullets hit a nearby tree.
“There he is !” Somebody shouted. “That’s the bastard who stole my truck !”
“Run !” Adam said. “Now !”
They bolted from their position. Marcus looked over his shoulder and saw an angry mob armed with rifles, pitchforks and Molotov cocktails. In short, like they had walked out of some bad western. Then he looked forward again. They had a lead on the crowd, but not much. It was far from over.
Pedro walked into his house and headed straight for the kitchen. He opened a drawer and took out a leather suitcase. Inside the suitcase was a folder containing a full briefing on the mission. He walked out of the house and stepped into his Volkswagen Beetle.
“Okay, let’s get this over with.”
He took out a cell-phone and speed-dialed a number. It rang twice.
“This is McNamara. Talk.”
“This is Pedro Alvarez. Operation Echo has been green-lighted.”
“Okay, you know where to go.”
Pedro hung up the phone. Then he put the car into gear and drove away.
The Mossad team had managed to increase its lead on the crowd. But now they were looking at a new problem. There was an electrified fence in their way.
“Did you pass something like this on the way in ?” Adam said.
“No, the other side of the settlement was hemmed in by a large swamp.”
“Great. Just great.”
“Why wasn’t this in the mission briefing !?” Anton snapped.
“Because it is camouflaged. They placed it so that the trees hide it.” Marcus said.
The group took a left and spotted a way out. A large tree stood near the fence, and its branches went over it. They began to climb it.
“You realize we’ll have to jump to get down, right ?” Marcus said.
“I know. And I also know that we could break something jumping that far.” Adam said.
They reached the lowest branch and began the crossing. The others made it in one piece, leaving only Adam and Marcus. Marcus jumped as the crowd arrived.
“Get down !” Anton shouted.
Bullets hit the tree, but Adam managed to jump clear in time. The crowd reached the fence and skidded to halt. There were shots fired and a couple of Molotov cocktails were thrown over the fence. But nobody tried to follow them.
“Why aren’t they following us ?” Anton said.
“I don’t know.” Adam said. “And I don’t want to find out either.” He checked his compass. “Let’s keep going.”
“What about Marcus. Our orders….”
“Will have to wait. Something tells me we are going to need every set of hands we can get on this mission.”
“Including those of a dead man ?”
“Including those of a dead man.”
Adam gave the fence a last look and then signaled the group to move on.
Pedro parked the car. He reached into the glove compartment and took out a revolver. He put it in a holster under his armpit, after which he left the car. Across the street was a bar called the Yellow Flamingo. Pedro entered to find it empty. There was a bell on the bar, so he slapped it. A man in a military jumpsuit came in through a side door.
“Right on time, Mister Alvarez.” He said. “Now, what do you need ?”
“I need a village wiped off the map. And no question asked.”
“What village ?”
“Let have a seat.”
The two of them sat at a table. Thomas ‘Madman’ McNamara was forty years old. His hair was black, his eyes were brown and his heart was ice cold. McNamara had been in the SAS, until he had been declared mentally unfit. He had been discharged and founded a private security firm called Delta Blue Security. It was a collection of madmen, criminals and disgraced soldiers. They worked for the highest bidder and zero morals. Alvarez opened the suitcase and gave the folder to McNamara.
“All the Intell you will need.”
“Thank you, Mister Alvarez.”
“And remember, a thousand dollars per kill.”
“I will.” McNamara got up. “It’s been a pleasure.”
McNamara walked out. Pedro closed the suitcase, took a deep breath and then left himself.
Tom looked at their small collection and rubbed his face. They had gathered everything in one cell. (The one he shared with Jen.) There was the broom, the red piece of cloth, the button and five paperclips. At the moment, he was considering using the paperclips to somehow open the cell.
“And then what ?” Jen said.
“What ?” Tom looked up. “Did you say something ?”
“Based on the look on your face, you’re planning to use the paperclips to open the lock.”
“That was the plan.”
“So…then what ?”
“I don’t know yet. But if we can get everybody into one cell, we can cannibalize two toilets, some of the bunks and two light-bulbs.”
“It’s a start.”
Tom got to work. It was an old-fashioned lock, for a big key. That could be either a blessing or a curse, and there was only one way to find out. He took a deep breath and set to work.
Marcus looked ahead and breathed a sigh of relief. They had found an asphalt road. And it was empty. He took out the map.
“I think I’ve found where we are.”
“Show me.” Adam said.
“The only asphalt road in this area is here.” He pointed to their location. “So, we are here. And we need to get to over there.” He pointed to another point on the map. “So, now all we need is transportation.”
“Okay. Everybody towards the road.”
They moved towards the road, then took up positions near it. Ten minutes passed, then a car came by. They waited another ten minutes and three more cars passed. After twenty-seven minutes of waiting, a van came into sight.
“That’s the one.” Adam said. “Anton and Alicia, stop it.”
“Yes, sir.” Anton said.
The two officers stepped onto the road drew their weapons. There was a loud screeching noise as the van hit her brakes. The driver threw his hands up.
“Please, don’t shoot me ! I’m unarmed. Take the van, take my money ! Just, don’t shoot me !” He stepped out of the van. “Please, don’t…”
Anton hit the man, who went down. He wasn’t dead, but merely knocked out.
“Let’s go.” Adam said.
They boarded the van. Adam took the wheel, while Marcus rode shotgun. The others sat in the back. Marcus turned to Adam.
“For what ?”
“For letting me along on this mission.”
“Like I said, we need every pair of hands we have.” Adam shook his head. “So, don’t thank me. It was for the good of the mission.”
“But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed. You managed to fool a lot of security protocols. We thought what you did was impossible, and you beat the odds. Trust me, getting this far is really impressive.”
“I…I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”
They reached a fork in the road.
“Take a left here.”
“Left it is.” They made a left turn. “So, why did you do it ?”
“Because of my nephew Omar. Do you know him ?”
“Omar the Rich ?”
“That’s him. Grandpa had two sons. Dad ended up poor, because uncle Bert stole the inheritance. So Omar bought him a ticket to being a Field Agent, while I ended up as a file clerk.” He paused. “I guess I wanted to proof that field work is about skills, not about how much money your family has.”
Adam nodded. They drove on in silence.