by Chris James
Back to Chapter Seven
On to Chapter Nine
Rated Mature 18+
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The Transall C-160 aircraft came in for a long slow approach to the Colorado Springs airport and touched down on all ten wheels like a graceful mother bird. Tim and BD were both surprised by the camouflage paint on the aircraft's skin thinking this might attract a lot of attention, but it was all part of the disguise.
The Bird, as Rick called it, had been purchased by Bozeman Security five years before and even then the plane was considered ancient by modern standards. Built for the German Air Forces, it was an ideal platform for military transport of equipment and for inserting paratroopers. Boze had wanted it because it didn't look like an American military aircraft.
The plane had a fiberglass body to cut down on radar detection and a rear ramp that could open in flight to allow a steady platform for jumpers. Jocko and Rick had both jumped from this plane, they just wouldn't say where or why.
But although the plane was used for covert operations, it was also considered an antique and Boze flew it to air shows across the country just for the fun of it. Should anyone ask, the flight log indicated this plane had participated in Operation Desert Storm. But no one asked, Boze already had a pedigree with the FAA and it was stamped Top Secret.
Jocko had spent the day before contacting the five team members and giving them the go ahead to rendezvous at the San Diego Naval Air Station, Halsey Field. This is where the C-160 was parked in a hanger belonging to the CIA, but only Boze, Jocko and Rick knew that.
Although Jocko had not been in the military of any nation for almost ten years this security business with Boze certainly was more militaristic than he had first imagined. The anti-terrorism aspect of the work was usually covert and lacked publicity. In and out and home for dinner his old sergeant used to say.
Military skills were a marketable quality and Jocko was quite happy with the money they made. He was approaching forty and when he got there it would be time to retire. Jumping out of planes was a young man's game.
The five men who boarded the C-160 for the flight to Colorado Springs were all ex-something or another, either Seals or Special Forces. Boze interviewed them and Jocko vetted them before hiring. All of them had at least five years active duty and a good deal of combat experience, but none of them was over thirty years of age.
Rick had honed their skills in everything from infiltration to standing quietly by the door in a tuxedo on a security detail. Mission specialists they would be called in secret circles, but that was a denial of their real ability. They were not trained as assassins but they could handle that if necessary, and at some point they would probably need to perform that role.
The embassy rescue a few years ago was a perfect example of their skills. Jocko and six men, one of them being Rick, had spent half the night creeping through buildings and across open ground to the embassy walls. They positioned a two man sniper team observation post on the roof of a church across the street.
The small African nation was being overrun with terrorists, most of them homegrown with little military background. The embassy had been in the process of shutting down and all non-essential personnel were already gone, but there were still six State Department people onsite and a few Marine guards. They were getting ready to evacuate the rest of the staff when the attack had occurred without warning.
Jocko, Rick and their boys had just finished a tricky mission somewhere in the Middle East when the call came in. At least they were in the area so Boze made the assignment. Jocko could see it wouldn't be hard to get inside the embassy grounds because the terrorists had blown several huge holes through the walls.
As they approached the target they heard the loud banging of drums indicating a celebration was underway and the noise rocked the neighborhood. They could probably have dropped from a helicopter without being heard, but Jocko was taking no chances.
There was one way in and two ways out. Pick a hole, Jocko thought, and he did. There were copters standing by to pick everyone up, and as a backup there were two school buses stationed on the edge of town.
This should have been a mission for the Navy Seals but they were slightly busy at the moment with a raid, something to do with Osama Bin Laden. Into the zone, Jocko ordered, and his men moved in for the kill. No time to be nice, just eliminate as many as possible along the way to the embassy building.
Bullets flew, grenades were thrown, and at least a dozen of the terrorists immediately fell before the team hit the building. The American hostages were all tied up in one room so Boze ordered a sweep of the building. Anything that moved was fair game, but most of the resistance had been swept aside outside the building.
The sniper post called in reporting that some terrorist reinforcements were on the way. Jocko ordered the evacuation and the choppers dropped down on the road out front. Above the roar of the helicopter engines Jocko could hear the .50 caliber sniper rifle snapping off rounds at incoming vehicles.
Decision time: Jocko waved for the choppers to lift off, taking the hostages to safety while he and his men stayed to help recover the sniper squad and retreat. No more crawling away, now they all ran for the bus. The car chase that ensued was like a Hollywood movie and they could laugh about it now.
The image of the snipers lying in the aisle of the bus blasting away through the rear door and destroying the terrorists in their trucks was worthy of a Hollywood moment, but that would never happen. Their mission was covert, it had never happened, no one would talk about it.
Unlike this little gambit, Jocko thought. They wouldn't be here if Boze had been a little more careful. That made him smile as the C-160 rolled off the runway and onto the tarmac beside the hanger where they stood. It was always nice to rescue the boss…made him feel appreciated.
The five men who walked off the plane were dressed in various kinds of civilian clothing. Tim gave them the once over and decided he had never seen a more fit bunch of guys. Jocko greeted the men as if they were his long lost buddies, or the favored local rugby team.
Tim and BD had come along with Jocko and Andy to pick the men up at the airport. Bill had again noticed the two boys were beginning to become inseparable, especially after yet another night together. But the day was scheduled out with briefings, some recreation time and a good dinner for one and all. There would be an early bedtime since they had to be back at the airport for a two-thirty flight time in the middle of the night.
Rick, Jocko and the team would fly off and only Rick and the pilot would return at some point later on. At dawn the State Police would arrive and haul away the militia members. Bill thought they might have to provide transport for the three kidnap victims but Matt said that would be unnecessary.
The police would probably have a small army of vehicles on the site, plenty of room for three passengers. It was suggested that the kidnap victims should be taken to the hospital for a checkup and Bill agreed. All that would work in their favor when this mess got to court.
Andy had arranged for them to use the Larkspur meeting room at the hotel because it could handle up to thirty people. So while Jocko and Andy went to pick up the team, Mitch and Bill had carried Rick's equipment into the room and set up for the meeting.
The hotel had provided coffee, juice and water, but Bill told them to skip the pastries. They would order in lunch if the meeting ran long, and he knew all of that would be added to the fees for the room. This is going to cost a good deal more, Bill thought as he booked an additional three rooms and paid for the meeting space.
Matt would be bringing Captain Willows to the meeting, and then they would have their own planning session with the SWAT members who would perform the pick-up chores once Jocko was done. But the two outfits were never going to meet as Jocko and his guys would melt away and meet Andy in the van.
The sooner they were out of town the better, and by dawn the C-160 ought to be halfway back to California leaving the Colorado State Police in charge. It was for this reason that Willows would attend a meeting about an event he wasn't supposed to know about.
The group gathered about the table after introductions and Rick picked up what looked like an electric guitar case and opened it. Inside was a rifle unlike anything Tim had seen before. The barrel was about thirty inches long, the trigger was where it ought to be, but that is where the similarities ended.
"This is the air rifle which delivers the flechettes ... um, darts," Rick said. He pulled an air cartridge out of the case and a slim black casing of the darts. "Accurate range is about fifty yards but anything closer is preferred. The magazine holds thirty darts and the cartridge is good for about fifty shots.
"As you can see the weapon is lightweight and sturdy. With so few moving parts it rarely jams even if it gets wet." With that he handed Tim the rifle. Bill watched Tim's reaction and saw the boy's fascination with the weapon. The last time Tim had held a rifle there had been dire consequences, but this seemed different.
"The cartridge goes here," Rick said, showing Tim how the cylinder fit into the frame and screwed in place. "This is the charging handle which you pull back to puncture the cartridge. The magazine slides in here, but you never do that without engaging the safety…that button right there."
"Do the darts hurt?" Tim asked.
"A major sting, like a wasp. But within seconds the drug takes hold and the target is knocked out so there is no source of constant pain. This is a very humane weapon since no one dies…well, unless they're sitting in a tree and fall."
"So it works every time?"
"The dart has a thin plastic membrane at the tip. Inside is a tiny injector device that uses the inertia of the hit to push the plunger and inject the drug. But if you were to hit a hard object such as a wallet in a breast pocket, then it wouldn't work. The best aiming point is neck, arms, legs or buttocks."
Tim cradled the rifle for a few moments and then placed it back in the case. "Thank you," He said.
Captain Willows asked the first question. "How certain are you that none of the militia will die from this attack?"
Jocko took that one. "No guarantees. The darts should do their job but we will each be carrying holstered weapons as well for personal protection. The surprise factor is on our side and if we stick to protocol then they'll be down before anyone can raise the alarm."
Jocko smiled. "Be assured, Captain, we've all done this before. No operation goes strictly to plan, there are too many variables. But if we can get on the ground without being seen then the militia will lose." With that statement he picked up a piece of paper on the table and rolled it tightly into a tube. Putting it to his lips he made a spitting sound, blowing a puff of air down the tube.
"That's about what it sounds like. The barrel has internal suppressors, a honeycomb that absorbs the blast of air so the weapon is nearly silent. The dart is only two point five inches long and very aerodynamic. It was developed by your government, but I can't tell you when or why."
"Probably the CIA," BD said a little too loudly.
"You could guess all day and I couldn't confirm a thing," Jocko said. "You all know that what we are doing is highly irregular. This team has never worked in the United States before, and if things go as they should then none of this happened.
"Bozeman Security does have one advantage, we are not the military. There are laws against using the armed forces in a combat situation within the boundaries of the country. No offense to the National Guard, but something like this is way beyond their abilities.
"But homegrown units like this militia do interest the Homeland Security people. If they were involved at this point they might have come to us for help. We're not the only security organization of this sort. But in all honesty, we are the best. Shall we look at some pictures?"
Rick's presentation left no doubt that this group was armed and dangerous. Matt had seen the pictures before but Willows was not happy to see that he had a major stash of high caliber weapons in his jurisdiction. The one factor they didn't know was if these militia guys could handle these weapons in combat.
"The names BD gave us have been researched a little further," Matt said. "About forty of them have had some solid military training in the past fifteen years. The rest of them are probably just weapons fanatics who see their Christian zeal as a way to play army.
"Eighty percent of them work for a living so they must be weekend warriors. I've been trying to correlate their jobs into anything that might be useful to the militia. So far nothing stands out except for the gun store owners."
"What are the rest of them like?" Andy asked.
"Oh, accountants, truck drivers, medical equipment sales…a lot of sales jobs in the bunch."
"That doesn't sound very helpful," Bill said.
"It wouldn't be unless we knew what they are up to," Matt said.
"You still think something is going on?" Willows asked.
"I do, Boss. Their desire to capture BD is based upon keeping secrets. Even taking Boze and Ed speaks to that. It sounds like paranoia over nothing," Matt said….and then he looked at BD. "Unless they know you hacked their mails and something in that information is incriminating."
"I'll go through the logs again," BD said.
"And I'll help," Mitch said. "Maybe something will occur to me that you didn't see."
BD nodded. "It's a lot of information so we'll start after lunch."
There goes our quiet nap time, Tim thought. But BD was concerned about Monica, just as Mitch worried about his Uncle Boze. Tim might worry about Ed except that the man was so capable in tight situations.
The meeting went on, discussing the State Police's function in the mission. Willows agreed to have a dozen men and the right amount of transport. Rick noted that they had counted fifteen people in the fly over by the Shadow, but that number could vary.
"I'd guess two men in a bunker on each of the access roads, another one or two on roving patrol. There has got to be a central monitoring station, probably in that barn, so there's another one or two. The rest would be off duty, and at three in the morning they would be sleeping in a bunkhouse.
"I'll do another thermal scan before the drop, and if there's time a quick IR sweep to see if I can detect any security devices. How does that sound?"
Jocko nodded. "If the lake is shallow then we probably won't completely submerge on landing. Still, that western shoreline is a weak spot in their defenses so I would assume they have it monitored. No beach to speak of, just some rocks so the units would be just at the tree line. If we crawl in twenty or thirty yards we ought to be clear."
"BD, what's the wildlife situation like on the property?" Rick asked.
"Wildlife ... some small animals. Raccoon, fox, rabbits, maybe even a coyote, but that fence might keep them out," BD said.
"Still, I would bet any beams of light would be set at least three feet off the ground to prevent false alarms," Jocko said. "Easy enough to crawl under."
Matt and the Captain conferred for a moment and then stood up. "I guess our part in this will begin at dawn, around five-thirty I'd imagine," Willows said. "You have my cell phone number so let me know if there are any changes."
He shook hands around the table and wished them luck. Matt had a few private words with Bill and then they left so the military planning could proceed. BD and Mitch took the laptop down to the far end of the table and began looking at the mail. Bill looked across the table at the five men in Jocko's team.
Soldiers one and all, they looked relaxed, as if something like this is what they did every day. The pressure would kill me, Bill thought. A glance at Tim showed the boy was fascinated at the proceedings, but was that a good thing?
Lots of young men were attracted to military service and Tim might consider that at some point in the near future. It might finish the growing process Tim had begun at Providence, but Bill considered this a lousy time to join the military. The Middle East was still a volatile situation and any new recruits would certainly be sent there for combat experience.
No, what Tim needed now was education. He should take the GED exams and then sign up for college. The boy trusted Ed and that was certainly what the man would recommend. Even though Tim had shown interest in becoming a private investigator, those were probably the rambling thoughts of the fifteen year old he had once been.
It would take some time to understand Tim's evolution and Bill knew he had better focus on learning what his new son wanted from this life. This issue with the militia had overshadowed the father/son development, but hopefully that would soon be over. By next week Bill planned to start the adoption process and the GED preparations.
The others had not heard what Matt whispered in his ear before he left, Bill was still trying to comprehend the implications of those words. "Our son is one smart kid…keep an eye on him," Matt had said.
Our son…did Matt really mean that? It had been two years since Bill discovered Matt was gay but still closeted. The State Police were bound by the Romer vs. Evans court decision forbidding discrimination against gays, all the state agencies were. But the police culture was a difficult place to enforce such things.
Matt had decided there would be no advantage to his job in being openly gay, and then Bill had come along. Their partnership had been growing stronger ever since the court case involving Tim was decided. Matt had been a big help, so empathetic, and that made him dear.
Bill had to admire the way Matt had managed their relationship around his busy schedule. The joke had always been that cops had the worst track record for relationships and marriages. But they had worked on the relationship, made the time to be together, and now…our son?
Bill smiled to himself and looked at Tim. Every boy should have two parents, even if it was two fathers. But two years ago Tim had been undecided about his sexuality, and now there was BD. The smile grew larger as Bill now understood what it meant to have a hormone charged teenager around the house.
A member of the hotel staff knocked on the door and Rick killed the projector. It was just an inquiry about lunch and Bill told the man to bring it on. Two waiters wheeled in a buffet cart piled high with cold cuts and tureens of soup. They lay a stack of plates and cutlery on a side table and then left.
"I guess lunch is served," Rick said.
The team members attacked the food with gusto as if they had been eating canned rations in the field for weeks. Jocko laughed when he saw the expression on Bill's face.
"They're growing boys so they like to eat," He said.
"I can see that. I guess there are times when a soldier doesn't get much of a meal."
Heads nodded at that and Rick looked up from a Dagwood sandwich he had been building.
"You would not believe the things we have all been forced to eat. They teach you in survival school that a man can go without food for a long time, but water is vital. What they don't tell you is that a lot of the natural food we can find in a jungle tastes like crap…"
"Oh don't tell me," Bill said, holding up a hand. "I might lose my appetite."
They finished lunch and went back to work. In just over twelve hours these men would be jumping out of an airplane into a dark world fraught with danger. The only way they had to combat the fear of the unknown was to share the plans and understand how each of them would contribute to the success of the mission.
By three that afternoon they had reviewed the images of the militia compound and assigned tasks to each man. Jocko would be the first to jump and set up the preliminary landing site in the shallow waters of the lake. The others would follow at fifteen second intervals to keep from crashing into one another upon landing.
They would crawl ashore and rendezvous before heading out across the landscape to their assigned positions. They had plenty of time because this operation would be silent. It sounded like a good plan and so they broke up the meeting.
Rick began to break down the equipment to carry back to his room. Jocko and his men wandered out to their rooms, while Mitch and BD went back to the laptop. Andy and Bill were in a discussion about something and Tim felt at loose ends.
He decided on a swim before dinner to relax. It was going to be a long night ahead since none of them would sleep while the assault on the militia compound was underway. The hotel had a nice pool and so Tim went back to the room to change into his bathing suit.
The lakes at Providence had provided a challenge to many of the boys who didn't know how to swim. There had been lessons, like it or not, because it was just another means of physical training. They swam every day until the weather turned too cold and in time Tim learned to enjoy the water.
How could anyone jump out of a plane into a lake weighed down with a heavy load of equipment? Some of these men had been Seals, the toughest outfit the American military had to offer. But surviving that conditioning was something Tim could understand, it made them proud.
He had just finished his tenth lap when two of the team members showed up at the pool. They gave him a wave and pulled off their shirts. Wow, Tim thought, talk about being in shape. He stood in awe as the men swam several laps and then slid up beside him in the shallow end.
"So, you want to be a Seal?" One of them asked.
"Don't listen to him," the other one said. "I'm Ryan and that big lug is Terry."
"I don't think I'm cut out for a military career," Tim said.
"No one really is, they just pound it into your skull until it sticks," Ryan said.
"But you left. If it was so good why did you leave?"
"Aw, the pay is better in private industry. Besides, you get tired of telling the old lady you won't be over on Saturday night because you'll be out dropping into a shithole to save someone's ass."
"We have seen some shitholes," Terry said. "You look fit, what's your game?"
Tim smiled. "I like free climbing, the higher the better."
"Sweet," Ryan said, and then he laughed. "Terry gets nosebleeds above ten feet."
"Do not. I like jumping out of planes."
"How high do you usually go before jumping?" Tim asked.
"Depends on wind and weather," Terry said. "HALO is nothing more than free fall with a quick ending. Above twenty thousand and you need oxygen and insulation, mighty cold up there."
"That guy Baumgartner jumped at one and a half miles up last year and he hit Mach 1.2 on the way down. I watched that on television," Tim said.
Ryan shook his head. "He was also wearing a spacesuit for survival. No, we fly high and lightweight. Landings are hard enough if you have a full load."
"Ever get hurt?"
"Not from the jump, but sometimes you encounter hostile fire and you feel like a sitting duck under the chute." Ryan lifted his leg and showed Tim a scar on his calf. "Round from an AK-47 did that as I was coming down so I bombed the bastard."
"You bombed ... ?
Ryan laughed again. "Yeah, once the covert nature of the mission is blown the real fun starts. I dumped my whole load of grenades on the fools below me."
Tim looked at the scar before Ryan put his leg back in the water. "I guess that's a Purple Heart right there," He said.
"Yeah, you'd think, but it isn't in the world of black ops. Secrets have to be kept so all you get is a pat on the back and a piece of paper in your file which no one is allowed to see. I do recall some hospital time, but the nurses were not friendly. At least Terry and the guys threw me a party when I got out."
"Boze seems like a nice guy to work for," Tim said.
"Oh yeah, he knows how to take care of us," Terry said. "So, you want to come with us in the morning?"
"Uh, I'll pass on that. But I'll be listening in."
"If the Bird stays up then you'll get to see it all happening," Ryan said. "The helmets have a video feed and Rick can relay that back if he wants. Of course it will be a dark image until someone turns on the lights."
"Yeah, enjoy it while you can because if everything goes well we're supposed to be home for breakfast," Terry said.
"I wish you guys all the luck. They have my good friend Ed in that bunker," Tim said.
Ryan placed a hand on Tim's shoulder. "Don't worry about him…this is what we do for a living, and we do it well."
BD appeared on the pool deck and gave Tim a come here gesture. Tim climbed out the pool and grabbed his towel.
"What's up? Did you guys find something?"
"Not yet. I left Mitch prowling through old invoices…he loves that stuff. I thought we might have time for a nap before dinner."
Tim smiled. "Now you're talking."
As a restful nap time the next two hours was a dismal failure. Rather than calming things down the meeting had just wound BD up. His fears about Monica's safety were once again in the forefront of his thoughts and it took Tim a good while to calm the boy down.
"I don't see the point of going through that mail again," BD said. He was pacing back and forth in the room, too agitated to lie down beside Tim.
"Mitch is a good reader, maybe he'll see something," Tim said.
"It's just a lot of hate speech ... propaganda. I'm beginning to think my father is just being used by Joab. There are files of sermons that were presented that don't sound like my father at all. I don't think he wrote them."
"How can you be sure?"
"As Bishop he has always quoted text from the King James Bible. But some of these sermons change the context and give a new interpretation. The Old Testament has always been his source for some of the ridiculous assertions he makes about homosexuals, but some of these sermons are all New Testament.
"Look, he's an old man, maybe he can't think straight anymore and someone has to ghost write his sermons. But when I was younger his words were all about Christ's love and compassion. The church had a different feel about it then and I almost thought my father was doing the right thing.
"But that all changed and became angry, hate filled speech. He delivers the message in the same way as he always did…only the words have become different. The congregation has changed, too, and I think that's because this militia has infiltrated his church. He's being used."
"At least the money he raises is supporting this militia," Tim said. "Can you see any shift in funding through his bank accounts?"
"No, it's a family corporation so just looking at the signatures on checks doesn't give me any clues. There's always been a lot of electronic shifting of funds which has to be my brother or one of the accountants. My father is not that computer literate and email is about as sophisticated as he gets."
"Your brother ... ?"
"Barry, the oldest, I already told you about him."
"If we could prove that church money went to suppliers for some of these illegal arms the militia uses your brother could be in big trouble if he deals with the money," Tim said.
BD smiled. "Yeah, wouldn't that be sweet."
"Then that information should be in the files you hacked."
"No, it wouldn't be that easy. I only got into the files my father could see or access with his account. The organization is much larger so it stands to reason that there are other files he doesn't see or know about."
"And where would they be?" Tim asked.
"In an office, on a server, anything that Joab might access ... he's got to be the key."
"But we don't know who he is."
"I think we will," BD said, and looked at his watch. "We will in about twelve hours once the compound is liberated. We have to get in there, Tim. I need access to their computers."
"Whoa, boy, the State Police are going to own that ground when the sun comes up. They won't let us anywhere near the place."
"We don't know what they're going to find in there, they might just need us," BD said.
He stopped pacing and flopped down on the bed. Tim had been waiting for this moment and took the boy in his arms.
"I need something," BD said.
"And I have just what you need."
On to Chapter Nine
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