During the next 30 hours, I would be keeping in touch with our intelligence providers via my special satellite connection, Eve. She would be keeping me informed about any changes at the compound, no matter how small. The Eve team at Langley had enough influence to get an intelligence satellite to make a pass over the villa every few hours. At our last report the analyst still went with 20 or so mercenaries and Estavante’s 4 personal guards in residence. According to Eve they could pretty much identify Estavante himself by his actions and the build of the man in the images. I did not ask about his family, because I did not want to know.
“So Martin, what rabbit are you going to pull from your hat today?” I asked as the sun came up. Our men were sprawled all over the hard deck. Most of them were wrapped in light weight blankets stolen from the White House Tourist Court.
“Hey I told you all to dress warm. You have a blanket. Every one of them had a chance to slip one in their pack as well.” he said.
“It looks as though most of them did. I guess they are all smart enough to know they won’t be humping it into the jungle. They know that they will be on the yacht, or dead next time they get any real sleep. Anyway that was then this is now, what are we going to do for food?”
“In about an hour our Air Force will make a drop. It will be food and weapons. Later today it will be more weapons and boats.” It was obvious that Martin was a much better planer than me.
“Fair enough, I do hope Smiling Jack has coffee in that load.” I knew better. The small scout plane could carry very little cargo. Those boats and weapons were more important than our comfort.
We picked up both boxes of the first air drop without any problem. At least the food was Helen’s version of the MRE. She even included a packet of freeze dried orange juice in the breakfast one. I was about to eat the egg and corned beef packet cold, when Eve took it from me. She disappeared into the cabin of the boat. Ten minute she returned with my packet.
Helen’s concoction was warm. I looked up at Eve the question in my eyes, “Engine block,” she said.
“Damn robo slut, you are pretty damn smart,” I said affectionately.
“Thank you carbon based slut,” she replied for the first time. Then she added, “I scanned the satellite data and there is no change at the Villa. Estavante is still there. So are all of his men.”
“Then I suppose we are still go. Is the weather holding?” I asked.
“Still possible showers, but no fronts or storms in the area,” she said. I was pretty sure Martin was getting the same information over his secure line to Swamp Thing.
“Did you sleep well,” Eve asked.
“I did indeed considering how uncomfortable the deck of this boat is,” I replied.
“Good,” Eve replied. “I raised my operating temperature a bit to keep you warm,” she whispered.
“Ah well I do appreciate that. I hate being cold,” I said to her.
I actually enjoyed the first few hours of wakefulness. It was kind of nice to feel the warm air and the wind blowing, but to be honest it wore out quickly Long before noon, I was just plain bored. I kept asking Eve, “Is there any news?”
“Nothing has changed,” she said to me each time.
All of us sat around telling each other half truths. I had the most stories, because shit always seemed to happen to me. “I have no idea where all the bullshit in my life comes from,” I said to a small group of our operatives gathered around me.”
“I’ll tell you where,” Alex said. “It happens to you because you are out there. It’s like the kid in the convenience store hold up. It wasn’t just that you were in the store, but that you put yourself out there to do the right thing. The same thing happened with the preacher and the Chinese restaurant. You could have ignored it and turned away, but not you. Some people try to live a long life. I think you try to live a full life.”
“Sounds way to grand to me,” one of Alex’s sailors said. “I think, it’s like Max said. Shit just happens to her. Some people are just shit magnets.”
“I’ll drink to that,” I said taking a sip of the bottled water from the supply drop.
After the story telling, we moved on to card games. We went from games and bullshit to more games and more bullshit until dusk. It was an hour before dark when the last air drop came. That drop had the remainder of the LAW rockets and a supply of weapons, along with Helen’s version of Plumpy nut. Her version was held together inside an easy to eat, while on the move, chocolate bar.
There were three, four man rubber boats as well. Eve and I would use one. We would also leave the mother ship first. Then Martin, Smith, Anya, and Vlad would follow in a few minutes.
“Since you are the naval commander Alex, the Dutchman’s captain is your responsibility. I would prefer that you didn’t kill him, but do what you think is best.”
“Once we secure the Yacht, I am going to put him back on his boat and give him a chunk of cash. I will explain that he should probably keep quiet, or Estavante will come looking for him. Once you guys are on board the yacht, we don’t give a crap, if they know where we are, do we?” he asked.
“Well it would be better if they didn’t know, but I guess we can manage,” I said.
The time after midnight was dragging. I could actually smell the land as we closed in on it. First we saw the mooring lights of the Yacht, then the outlines of the fishing boats docked along the small town’s sea wall that ran out into the gulf fifty or so feet. I had no idea where Estavante’s launch was located, but I was sure that we could find something to take us to the Yacht, even if his wasn’t available. People with guns, tend to make their own luck in that kind of situation.
“Eve, when we get ashore, we are going to mine the road first. Then follow the route I set in the animation to the airfield. Once we get there, I want you to fire the LAW rockets. You have better night vision,” I said.
“Not a problem,” she said. “Why are you splitting the load?’ You know I can do ten times more work than you.” She asked it because as we spoke, I was filling up the packs.
“Yes but if you get a drop of water in your circuits and I have to go on alone, I can’t carry all that.”
“Ah I see,” she said.
“You are going to be the artillery for us, and I am going to be your covering fire. I’m going to take in the .30 carbine just in case they manage to get organized. Seeing through a scope at night is a bitch,” I said.
“The attack plan at the air strip is you need to hit the gasoline cans stored by the tool shed with the first Law. Then you need to hit the Gulf Stream as many times as it takes to get a fire ball. Finally the tool shed. By that time they should be under attack by the Air Force as well.” I added.
“When we have neutralized it all, I will check with Martin to see how it is going there. If none of the guards is headed to reinforce the air strip, we head to the ambush site and wait.” I explained yet again.
“I know Maxine, I know, how many times are we going to go over this?” she asked.
“If we had time, we would be doing it again, but that looks like land up ahead. Go help Alex and the Captain to get in position to drop us off. I demanded.
The boat went in with the throttle set at almost idle, and with the lights out. Eve said, ”Now,” and I pushed the rubber boat over. There were two small oars tied to the boat as well as our packs. The Dutchman was low enough so that we could climb down the short ladder a couple of rungs, then slip into the boat. I went in first and held it for Eve. She came down with all the grace of a cow. It didn’t look like they had practiced ladder climbing before they turned her loose on me.
What Eve lacked in grace, she made up for in pure strength. She could easily have paddled that rubber boat by herself for a couple of days. I did help her to make it a little more efficient. It took us about ten minutes to reach the mouth of the creek. “Time,” I whispered to Eve.
“2:43 local time,” she whispered back to me. She immediately returned to paddling like hell up the creek. She knew exactly when it was time to pull over to the bank. She pulled herself onto the bank using a small tree for support. I watched the jungle closely for any signs of humans. I didn’t see anything to I passed the equipment up to her.
Without a word Eve held the rubber boat’s rope, while I finally scrambled ashore. She didn’t need my help to tow the boat onto the bank. There was no reason to hide the boat. We would either be gone before anyone came along, or we would be dead.
I led, but Eve touched me to guide me along. She was very close behind me even though she was lugging all the weight. There was almost 150 lbs of equipment between the two packs. We hiked for about ten more minutes before she pulled on my black tee shirt stopping me from proceeding. I looked carefully ahead then dropped to my knees. We were within a few feet of the clearing which surrounded the one lane dirt road.
There was nothing and no one in sight or hearing of us. Even so we crawled in the jungle side of the tree line. When we found the big palm tree that leaned over the road as it grew toward the sunlight, Eve planted a charge on its trunk. It took twenty more minutes to finish the wiring of two more trees. Once we were done we headed to the air Strip.
I had guarded Eve while she mined the trees, then covered her as she ran across the road with our two bags. She didn’t have a rifle to cover me as I ran across, because I still wasn’t sure what she would do in a gunfight For that reason I hung on to both of the rifles. We both cleared the road without incident. Another ten minutes of hard humping and we were at the airstrip.
I took a three minute break before I called the other teams. “Time?” I asked as I gasped for air. 2:58 local. I waited until my breathing was under control before I called Martin. I looked from our cover spot and saw the gate and two guards sitting on the ground about thirty feet away. They sat in the dirt with their knees up. They were almost in a fetal position. That’s a fitting way to die.” I thought.
Since there was much more light than I had expected, I said to Eve, “Let me hit the guards before you fire.” She nodded.
“Irish where are you,” I whispered into the radio shack walkie he had provided everyone.
“In place, you?” he asked.
“Likewise I’m sure. Ivan where are you?” I asked.
“Just arrived and taking a few deep breaths.” he said.
“Jackie?” I asked.
“On station, let the games begin.” he said.
“The fireball will be everyone’s signal to begin,” I reiterated yet again.
I turned to Eve and said, “Are you ready?”
“Just as ready as a Roomba 5000 can be,” she said smiling. There was that almost human spark again.