Target Deck - 02, страница 1часть #2 серии Deckard Series
Deckard woke up underwater.
Bubbles escaped around the SCUBA regulator clenched in his mouth as he checked the glowing hands on his wrist watch. Time can cease to exist while submerged. Maintaining neutral buoyancy, he floated, his wet suit insulating him against the cold that threatened to creep in regardless of the warm water.
Pulling the rubber sleeve of the wetsuit back over his watch, he breathed evenly, if a little too fast, recognizing the first signs of pre-combat jitters. He was burning through oxygen faster than normal.
In the darkness, the mercenary could feel, rather than see, the presence of his team. They floated alongside him in silence, waiting.
Samantha Diaz struggled against the handcuffs, rubbing her wrists raw.
“How about we play a little game.”
Jose Ortega stood in front of her, his arms folded across his chest. The ratty black mustache on his upper lip wiggled as he suppressed a laugh.
“Yeah, let's turn off the lights and play a game of who's in my mouth?”
Ortega's crew broke out laughing, anticipation in their eyes. They lounged around the master bedroom, wearing flamboyantly bright t-shirts with stenciled designs from designer labels. Their hair was identically slicked back with the same product, jeans with the same prefabricated tears and wear marks that came pre-worn from the store.
“Try not to cry like a little bitch,” the cartel leader demanded. “We already suffered enough of that from your father.”
Samantha lunged, the handcuffs digging deeper into her wrists.
Ortega bent down and grabbed her by the hair.
“You were stupid to come back,” he said with rotten breath. “Now you pay the price.”
Reaching into his pocket, he flicked open a switchblade. Running the blade under the inside of her shirt, he began slicing through the fabric to the cheers of his lieutenants.
“Everyone will know that the Diaz family produces nothing but whores.”
Several of Ortega's men got to their feet, their hands moving towards pants zippers.
The explosion was deafening.
Two walls immediately collapsed followed by smoke and what sounded like thunder strikes that were sent skipping through the bedroom.
Gunfire erupted from the multiple breach points created through the cinder block walls, screams cut off by short controlled bursts of gunfire. New voices filled the room, speaking some strange language that Samantha was unfamiliar with.
When the smoke began to clear, she saw Ortega laying on his back with splotches of crimson staining his over-priced shirt. Attempting to speak, a strained gurgling sound was the best the cartel don could manage.
The heel of a combat boot came down on his throat.
Grinding his boot into Ortega's neck, a man snarled, his lips curled back, bearing teeth like fangs.
“Get security up,” the man ordered in English. “Nikita, get those bolt cutters over here.”
A brown skinned man with Asian eyes moved forward, slinging his rifle over one shoulder, gripping the cutters in his hands. As he maneuvered the chain links of her handcuffs between the shears, she noticed that he was wearing a wetsuit, dripping wet despite the fact that they were nowhere near the ocean.
Grunting as he closed the bolt cutters the commando severed the links with a loud snap, freeing her from the bed post she was chained to.
Muffled shouts sounded from outside. One of the soldiers cracked open the bedroom door, peering outside before pulling the pin from a fragmentation grenade. Rolling it outside, the grenade exploded, the voices suddenly going silent. Taking another glance outside, the grenadier turned to the large gringo with his foot still on Ortega's throat and said something in what sounded like Russian.
Looking up from Ortega's lifeless eyes, he replied in a similar rapid fire manner in the same language.
The man who had cut her free dropped the bolt cutters and took a knee next to one of the gaping holes created by the breaching charges, his rifle at the ready, waiting for targets to present themselves.
The gringo undid a waterproof bag that had been riding over his shoulder, producing a stack of papers before moving towards her.
“Ms. Diaz, I need you to-”
“Need me to what?” she asked pressing a .357 Magnum Colt Python revolver into Deckard's cheek.
“Uh,” the mercenary paused. “Where did you get that?”
“Ortega kept it in his waistband under his shirt.”
“I didn't see you reaching for it.”
“You should be more careful, puta.”
“Ma'am, I just need you to sign the-”
“Don't tell me what to do jackass. I-”
Her words were interrupted by Nikita cutting loose with a staccato burst of gunfire, the wall he was taking cover behind was chipping away under enemy return fire.
“I don't think we have time for this.”
The ground shook as an explosion rattled somewhere in the drug lord's compound.
“What the hell was that?”
“My boys blowing the front gate,” Deckard informed her.
“You know, my mercenaries. Your father contracted us but with him being killed seventeen hours ago, I'm afraid we are now here illegally, which is why I need, I would like, for you to sign the-”
“The contract, extending its duration until we can finish the job we were originally hired for.”
Nikita lobbed a grenade through the breach and resumed firing.
“What job?” she yelled over the noise.
“To take care of your drug cartel problem.”
Outside it sounded like the fourth of July back stateside where she had attended university in Texas.
“What the fuck is going on out there?”
“My platoons just drove their assault trucks into the compound. They are in the process of mopping up the rest of Ortega's men.”
“I can't sign a contract with mercenaries, I'm a deputized police chief, not the provincial governor.”
“Actually, he was killed twelve hours ago.”
“The provincial judge?”
“He was with the governor,” Deckard said looking out of the corner of his eye towards the door, with the massive revolver still stuck in his face. “The chief prosecutor too.”
“Yeah, so if you could just sign here,” he said handing her a ball point pen.
“And you work for me?”
“That's the idea.”
“And we clean these motherfuckers out?”
“Precisely what I had in mind.”
Samantha snatched the pen out of Deckard's hand and signed on the dotted line.
Another explosion sounded.
“Okay,” Deckard said flipping through the stack of papers. “Initial here.”
Samantha grimaced, sketching her name all over the papers.
“Right, and one more time right here.”
“That should do it,” Deckard said sliding the papers back into his bag. “But do you mind getting the cannon out of my face?”
Samantha looked at him long and hard before lowering her newly acquired pistol.
The mercenary posted next to the door leaned out, sending a barrage of gunfire down the hall.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Deckard said, taking her by the hand and helping the woman to her feet. “We've got work to do.”
Outside, a dozen assault trucks were arrayed around the compound. The vehicles looked like porcupines with machines guns pointing outwards in every direction.
A final ratt
The compound itself was situated on top of a narrow plateau, built up by Ortega to act as the fortress from which he ran his cartel. Inside the stone walls were his personal villa, a barracks, a cafeteria, garages, and even an Olympic-sized swimming pool. With the kind of money the drug lord had, virtually no expense was spared. This was reflected by gaudy statues of horses and scantily clad women in the courtyard.
Nerves still frayed, Samantha stared wide eyed at the bodies of the drug lord's minions littered around the plaza.
“How did you get in here in the first place?” she asked Deckard as they walked down the steps from the villa. The compound had been heavily fortified with machine gun nests, guards on the high walls, and heavy gates at the entrance.
“They let us through the front gate,” he answered flatly, nodding towards the tanker truck parked on the far side of the compound.
“Once I found out that Ortega still had contractors digging a well, we knew he had to be getting weekly water shipments given the amount of people he housed here.”
“We rode inside the water tank itself,” he said kicking at some bushes alongside the villa.
Bending down he picked up several sets of oxygen tanks normally used for recreational SCUBA diving.
“We borrowed these from a dive shop down on the coast. The driver never even knew that we were inside the water tank that he was transporting.”
“I hope that isn't a complaint,” Deckard said with a smirk.
“Not at all,” she said forming fists with her hands, trying to control the shakes.
“As you can imagine, we didn't have a lot of time. We weren't scheduled to hit this place for a couple more weeks, after we had gathered more intel and did some mission planning.”
“You came for me? Why?”
“Give me a minute and then we'll head down to the police station.”
Deckard walked between mercenaries scurrying across the compound in desert fatigues as they carried out their assigned tasks. He searched the back of several of the assault vehicles before finding what he was looking for and dragged out a green duffel bag.
Samantha turned around, unsure exactly why, as the American began to strip out of his wetsuit. While he dressed, a black Mercedes with tinted windows pulled into the court yard.
“Hey, Deck!” someone yelled from the car window.
“We found Ortega's vehicle. It's got level seven armor, in case you want to go outside the wire with a little less visibility.”
“Sounds good,” she heard him say. “Prep two of the trucks to run a few minutes behind us in case anything happens. They can circle in a lager route just outside the city.”
“You got it.”
When she turned around, the commando had exchanged his wetsuit for a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. Sitting on the tailgate of the truck, he pulled on a dry pair of boots before shrugging into body armor adorned with various pouches for ammunition and grenades. Throwing the duffel bag back on the truck, he slung his Kalashnikov rifle over one shoulder.
Ortega's armored luxury vehicle purred as the driver sat on the hood, checking the load in his pistol before sliding it back into its holster.
“How far out are the logistics vehicles?” Deckard asked.
“Any minute now,” the driver said.
“Take the wheel, let's get out of here.”
The driver motioned for her to follow. Samantha slid into the backseat next to him as the driver snapped on his safety belt. Slamming the doors shut, the car weaved through the wreckage of what was left of the fortress' heavy metal gate. Accelerating down the dirt road on a decline, she could see a pair of headlights trailing them in the distance.
“I suppose you want some kind of explanation,” the American said breaking the silence.
“That would be nice.”
“With the situation here in Oaxaca deteriorating, your father reached out to us. He hired us to come in and conduct an area assessment, figure out the topography of the local cartels, collect intelligence, with the possibility of going overt. As you know, he didn't have much faith in your government when it came to cleaning up the mess down here. I came in with an advance party of five men and we worked out of a safe house in town-”
“What was he paying you with?”
“Unreported confiscations of drug money.”
“The confiscations that got him killed.”
“It was Ortega's money so it makes sense.”
“So what happened after he was killed?”
“To tell you the truth we were preparing to withdrawal. Our arrangement with your father wasn't all that legal to begin with. Then you came onto the scene.”
Samantha stared out of the window. A couple ancient deuce and a half cargo trucks came up the hill, forcing the driver to scoot over the edge of the road.
“Those are our supply trucks, we brought everything with us.”
“With you from where?”
“That isn't important right now. Once we decided to come after you, I had my two platoons fly in. The logistics vehicles left the airport staggered back from the assault element by about thirty minutes. The flight was logged as commercial air traffic. Once they got on the ground the police and airport officials were bribed or coerced, or both.”
“So now I have a question for you, why did you come back to Mexico?”
Samantha resumed staring out at the passing hills.
“When I found out that my father was killed I came to take up his post as police chief. I knew no one else would take the job. He was the third chief to be kidnapped and killed in as many years.”
“But not enough apparently.”
The woman clenched her teeth.
“Just a few hours after I was deputized, Ortega's crew picked me up, grabbed me right off the street.”
“It's in the past. With Ortega out of the way, we can go after the big dogs.”
Approaching the city, they drove under an overpass. A decapitated corpse had been strung up and hung off the side of the bridge. The message, scrawled in blood, was written on the sign nailed into the body's abdomen. This is what happens to police, dog fuckers.
“How far out are we Pat?”
“Ten minutes from the city.”
“Where can we take you that you will be safe?”
“Nowhere is safe.”
Turning, Deckard looked into large brown eyes. He had seen that look enough times to be scared of it. Ortega's .357 was stuffed down the front of her pants.
She was out for blood.
Deckard threw the door open as Pat brought the car to a halt outside the Oaxaca police station. Holding his Kalashnikov at the ready, he proceeded up the steps, striding over a body riddled with bullets as Samantha followed close behind.
A second corpse lay in the entrance, graciously holding the door ajar for them to pass through.
“Better call and cancel that guy's dinner plans.”
The female police chief snorted.
Behind them, the engine squealed as Pat peeled off to position himself behind the building, just in case everything went sideways on them.
“Alto!” someone shouted at them from down the hall.
Samantha spoke in rapid fire Spanish that was too fast for Deckard to follow.
Stepping from behind an over turned desk, with a snub nosed .38 revolver in one hand, a portly man in a police uniform crossed himself. Obviously, he hadn't expected to see his new boss again, not unless she was hanging under an overpass somewhere.
In the corner, a muted television showed a broadcast of a masked man brandishing a machete from behind a podium as he gave his speech. Deckard did not need to hear the audio
Continuing their conversation in their native language, the two police officers led Deckard into the offices. Peering into one of the adjacent jail cells, Deckard spotted the bales of narco-dollars wrapped in cellophane, safely locked behind bars.
“They didn't come for the money,” he said curiously, referring to the cartels who would want their money back.
“No, senor, the police officer on duty said. Just a few opportunists thinking they might find some easy money. Word must have leaked out on the streets.”
“They had me,” Samantha said. “They thought the money would be theirs to reclaim whenever it suited them.”
“How many police officers do you have on call?”
Samantha looked at her subordinate, who in turned shrugged his shoulders.
“One, including me. The others left, ran away. They will be swallowed up by the Jimenez cartel,” Samantha said referencing the largest and most powerful drug cartel in southern Mexico. “That or they will go to work with them.”
“Along with whatever is left of Ortega's organization,” Deckard added.
“We have to move on them fast.”
“I agree, but first we need to move the money to our new headquarters. We can keep you safe there as well, along with-” Deckard looked at the sole beat cop in Oaxaca city.
“Officer Lopez,” the policemen responded with a half assed salute.
“Right, let's get moving.”
Lopez switched back to Spanish, asking his police chief something. Deckard only caught on to one word, Inteligencia .
“I'm not CIA.”
“That's right, you're some kind of gun for hire, huh? Then what do we call you mystery man?” Samantha asked.
“Black will do for now.”
“Well, Mr. Black, I don't know-” her words were cut short as an old rotary phone sitting on one of the desks began to ring.