The college girls went right to work. After a short meeting with the professor and his teaching assistant, of course. While they learned how to handle any findings they made, my team scouted the area. Four of them stayed at the dig while Gator and I did a walk about. With the aid of a satellite picture of the area we were able to tell a few things.
For one thing we learned that the bandits would most likely come over the same hill that the conquistadors used to suppress the native Indians. If twenty of them, which was about the usual number, came calling we had a chance to fight them off. That is if the local security force either stayed out of it or better still joined us. My guess was their job was extortion not to defend the camp, so I wasn’t counting on them.
I sat on a large rock by the trail and used the satellite phone to call home. “So get me the Colonel,” I said to whoever answered.
“So Sylvia, you already got troubles?” he asked.
“Yeah the guy who is running the dig is a dick,” I said.
“Really, why do you say that?” the colonel asked.
“He wanted to take our guns and force us to pay the local warlord or some such,” I said.
“What did you counter with?” the Colonel asked. I had no idea his mood.
“I offered to cut off the head of the security detachment’s leader and deliver it to him. The professor is pretty sure he can work out a deal,” I said.
“So why are you calling?” he asked.
“There is only one trail the bandit can use to sneak up on us. I was wondering if you could hijack a satellite for real time surveillance,” I asked.
“So what are the coordinates?” he asked.
“I’m sitting beside the natural trail now,” I said. “The route they would have to take leaves them in the open for a few hundred yards. It won’t give me much time but it is better than nothing.”
“You got it. Don’t judge the professor so harshly. He has to get along there after you take your toys and go home. It’s just how things are done,” The Colonel said.
“Next time you need someone to sell out, don’t send me,” I said.
“The Roman’s knew, if you pay tribute you seem weak and the weak get slaughtered. You did the right thing,” he said. “However you are going to be in country a minimum of three weeks, do try not to start a war.”
“That’s why Mexico is so damn dangerous. Nobody wants to fight a war,” I said.
“If you have to go to war with the bandits, I think you would be safe. I don’t think they have any political power in the area,” The Colonel advised.
“Well connected or not, if I have to, I will go to war with them,” I said.
“I know you will,” the Colonel said. “Keep my people safe and the client’s as well.”
“You sound concerned,” I said.
“I am never worried about you in a fight. It’s just the fucking politics I hate,” he said.
“Me to,” I replied then shut down the phone.
I went back to watch over the bodyguards and the college girls. When Boston came by I said, “We need a plan to defend this place from a bandit attack. I think I got us some warning time, so now we need a plan on how to use it,” I said.
“Well what do you suggest boss,” he asked.
“If I’m a bandit, I’m a bandit because I don’t want to plow a field or work in a factory. So if the prize is great enough, I will fight. If the price is too high, I’ll go somewhere else.”
“So all we have to do is find a way to make it too expensive to grab a U.S. Senators daughter,” Boston said.
“It’s a pretty big prize for sure. They only have three weeks to mount the abduction and we only have three weeks to defend her. So I guess we just wing it for three weeks.”
We pretty much did what we did with hotel rooms. An eight man tent held four college girls and two bodyguards on the first night. The odd two girls had one bodyguard and I tried to keep an eye on everything. I found out the first night that the night guards slept all night. So the best time for a strike was at night, probably around midnight. Give the guards time to fall asleep and do it before your own force is too sleepy to be effective.
Okay midnight till two AM would be my concentrated time, I decided. After the 3 AM deadline passed and I had no word from the swamp, I went to bed. I was up by eight. I found the kids working the pit. They were thrilled to be finding artifacts. I was wondering if the professor was salting the dig to keep the kids coming. Hell there might have been enough spearheads in the battleground so that he didn’t need to salt it.
The kids sat around the fire after dinner that night and told each other how much fun living like this really was. It’s just the second night, I thought. Just wait till they can smell each other from a yard away.
We changed the sleeping arrangements. I placed five of them in each tent with one bodyguard. The other four of us patrolled the area around the camp. That setup is how we worked it for the first two weeks.
On the second night of the third and final week the Brit Chick came to me. She was preceded by a man in peasant clothes. “I found this one scouting the perimeter,” she said.
“Was he armed?” I asked. She threw an AK-47 at my feet.”
“Nice work,” I said to her. “So how strong is your stomach?”
“We won’t know till we try,” she said.
“Go warn the others that we are being scouted. We may be probed anytime now,” I said. “Then get me Island Chick. We are going to ask our friend here a few questions.”
“You realize in this culture having been caught by a woman was bad, but to give up his friends to a woman is a crime close to murder.”
“I’ll remember that,” I said to her back as she went to gather the team. I wondered why the hell I was here in the stinking jungle when I could be home working on the hotel acquisition. The mom and daughter were technically in default of the lease yet. That being the case the lawyer was in no position to accept offers. That and the fact we seemed anxious was reason enough to go easy. It was probably a good thing I was away while the deal cooled down. Wilson sent me messages all day telling me how things were going.
I had all that mundane shit in my mind, when I started to question the prisoner. “Prisoner I do not have a lot of time, so I’m going to ask you a question. If you lie or refuse to answer, I am going to cut off a finger. When we get to the point you have no more fingers I am going to get more creative. Explain then ask him if he understands.” I nodded to Island chick.
She rattled off several sentences then she waited. When he didn’t say anything, I took his hand and used a pair of large wire cutters I had found in the camp tool box to remove his smallest finger. I left one joint so that there was enough room to tie a tourniquet. I quickly tied it on to stop the bleeding. I turned to Island Chick and said, “Ask him if he understands how it works now?”
They exchanged words. Island chick turned to me and said, “He understands now.”
“Ask him who he is with, what gang?” I suggested.
He rattled off some words I did not understand. Island Chick said, “He said he is not a bandit.”
I pulled his hand to me and quickly cut off the second finger. Again I left enough to tie a tourniquet. Even so he was seeping blood around the spot where I had cut him. “Ask him how many are in his gang,” I said to Island Chick.
Again she rattled off some words, but this time he just got quiet. I took his hand and put the cutters on this finger. Then without warning he broke. He began to rattle off information. He told us how many there were in his band. He told us how they usually operated. He told me they knew we had a U.S. Senator’s daughter, and that they wanted to hold her for ransom. He also told me they hadn’t done any other intelligence mission. One of the guards from the village was acting as a mole. He wasn’t sure which one it was, but he knew there was one. They would be trying to get a message to the leader of the Bandit tribe.
“So how many members are there in the band?” I asked.
There was an exchange between Island Chick and the prisoner. “He says there are only ten men at the moment, but they can recruit ten more since it is all family.”
“It will be daylight in an hour,” I said to the Brit Chick. She hadn’t blinked an eye when I cut off two of the man’s fingers. She was either a good operator or found an acceptable way to release her evil energy. We need to return him to his people,” I suggested.
“Yes I think that is an excellent idea,” she said. She pulled him up and pushed him toward the trail. He was on the edge of shock. “Island Chick, make sure the team knows we are on high alert from now till daylight. He may not have been the only bandit here looking for a weakness.”
I left and quickly caught up to the Brit chick. “How far into the mountains are we going to take him?” she asked.
“There is a clearing that the bad guys will most likely cross. I think we can part company with the prisoner there. We hiked on a few more minutes till we came to the opening. I stood behind the prisoner while I looked at the trail ahead. “I’m sorry neither of us speaks your language. I probably wouldn’t know what to say anyway. You just picked the wrong people to try to kidnap. If we were the village guards, you would have been fine, but we aren’t and you aren’t fine.
After I said that I stabbed him in the back. The fake pencil went into his back easily and slipped around his spine and ripping through his internal organs, but did not pierce his heart. I pushed him forward so that he lay on his stomach while he bled. I sat his more or less motionless body up and leaned it against a rock. I put the AK-47 in his mouth and held the trigger down until there was nothing but blood about his mouth. I had literally shot his head off.
“So what now?” the Brit Chick asked.
“Now I take a position over there and I kill anyone who come for the body,” I said.
“What you gonna do if there are twenty of them?” she asked.
“Die,” I said. “You go back and call a meeting. Explain to the college girls where we are. They need to leave early or stay here and maybe become pawns in some geopolitical bullshit. Either way I’m staying right here to cover them.”
You are probably going to need this more than me,” she pulled a glass sight for the AK-47. “I found it in one of the bags. It probably isn’t going to be zeroed in, but maybe it will help.”
“I’ll try to keep them off you, until they get a bus up here. Try to talk the college chicks into getting on it willingly, but get them on it.”
“I’ll come back for you boss,” she said.
“Good, bring a battalion of marines along,” I said and laughed. When the Brit Chick left, I tried to keep an eye on the body of the infiltrator.
Edited by Walt