The Pandora Effect Ch. 04byboneams©
To those of you who follow my work, thank you in advance. Dawn, once again, great job and I'll get number 5 to you quickly so you don't have to wonder. Please don't forget to leave me love notes at the end.
Situation Room, CIA Headquarters, Langley Virginia.
Jack Richards sipped at the cold coffee as his eyes traveled back and forth between two large screens showing the images of Odessa and Ordzhonikidze. Since Kristine was only worried about some small merchant ship, he had the spy satellite zoomed in on the vessel and loading area.
The one on Odessa was panned out farther to allow the trained operator to view most of the shipping traffic there. With one of Garrett Brown's Intel teams there, hopefully nothing would get by them. Jack knew it was a long shot to find three terrorists in such a large port and he kept going over escape plans in his head, trying to figure out their next move.
Suddenly something caught his eye on the screen displaying Ordzhonikidze. A group of fifteen men carrying duffel bags strode onto the gangway to board the ship. Jack fumbled with the idea that maybe they were just part of the crew, but if that were the case, why did they all carry large briefcases with them?
He placed the cold coffee to the side and worked a large dial on the face of his console. When he still couldn't get the resolution correct for a clear image, he pressed his mike button. "Billy, can you see if you can clear that up on screen two any further?"
"I'll try Jack, but that damn thing is two hundred miles up," his assistant replied.
As the image faded in and out, Jack's frustration grew. Finally, it settled down and Jack started to make out facial images of the men that stood on the main deck and looked around. They were looking as if they were studying the vessel instead of boarding for trip. He saw a tall well-built man, look down at the pier, and nod his head.
When Jack turned the view towards the pier, he almost came out of his seat. He saw the distinct image of Bashir Haddad talking to Mansur Alba. Then a woman walked into the view but she had her back to the satellite. With the two men in plain view, it could only be one female, Rashida Turk. As he reached quickly for the phone, he knocked the cup of coffee over, sending its cold contents to the glossy floor.
When the station's operator came on, he practically screamed into the handset. "Get me Director Brown, and hurry it up!"
Mansur Alba felt very uncomfortable with the large backpack strapped to his body. Even though the virus was safely contained, he still wanted to stow it and get away from the deadly disease as fast as he could.
"Okay Mansur, I'm trusting you to accomplish this. If anything should go wrong, kill everyone on board and bring the virus back to us."
"I know the plan Bashir. You've had me go over it for the last two days now."
Rashida touched her mates arm to get his attention. "Don't worry my love. I'm sure the Americans are looking for us in Odessa. Your plan is fool proof and we have covered every detail a hundred times."
"I know you believe that Rashida, but no plan is ever fool proof. With any luck, in a week or so no one in the world will be able to stop the mass hysteria that will arise from the bodies of the dead scattered about the world."
"Well then, I guess I'll see you two in Gibraltar, in a few days," Mansur said as he shook hands with his team leader.
"Just be sure to trap the crew in one of the holds. You should stop hearing them scream in a day, after that, let the Americans find their rotting corpse lying there. If you want, keep one of the women alive long enough to play with, you've earned it."
Mansur turned to board the Naqada and start the first leg of a mission that had been in planning for two years now. As he looked up at the mercenaries gathered on the main deck, he wondered if they realized none of them was ever going to get off the small merchant ship alive.
Garrett Brown hung up the phone and then quickly picked it back up and dialed the Marriott Inn. When the front desk answered, he asked to be redirected to Adam Dawson's room.
"Ummm – hello."
"Dawson, wake and get your team together. Don't use the cars I provided, I'll send a van to pick you all up."
"What is it Garrett?"
"Jack found the packages."
Adam shot out of bed and reached for his pants. "Have that van here in fifteen minutes."
Kevin smiled brightly as he saw Laura chasing the two small children around the front lawn. All three of them laughed and screamed at each other as he rocked back and forth on the porch swing. When he looked up into the sun-filled sky, he thought he heard a noise.
He turned his head to try to tune it in, but it sounded like a phone ringing. "That's impossible, we live in the middle of nowhere, and we don't have a phone."
Kevin smiled at Laura as she looked up from being tackled by the two small children. He stood and went inside and followed the ringing sound. When he went into the kitchen, he saw a large old style phone sitting on the counter next to a large salt and pepper grinder. He had a puzzled look on his face as he picked it up.
"Kevin, get dressed and meet the team in the lobby in ten minutes. We're heading out," Adam Dawson said quickly.
"Lobby? Heading out where? Who is this?"
"What? Kevin, snap to it damn it. What the hell's wrong with you?"
Kevin shook his head and looked around. He saw his love Laura sleeping quietly in the large bed. "Huh, um – sorry Adam, I'll be right down."
Kevin hung up the phone and grabbed his pants. Laura began to stir and rolled over on her side. As she raised herself up, the crisp white bed sheet slipped down, revealing her small breasts. He reached over and turned a small lamp on beside the bed.
"What is it Kevin?" she asked in a sleepy voice.
"Duty calls sweetheart. I tried to tell you what my life as a SEAL was like. Now you get to see it firsthand. Go back to sleep and you can head back to Little Creek in the morning."
"I love you Kevin. Please be..."
"Laura, don't make this out to be anything but what it is – my job. I'll be just fine and I'll see you as soon as I can." Kevin leaned down and kissed her lips softly, than darted out of the room.
Laura lay back down and hugged the pillow that her soul mate slept on. As she hugged it close, a single tear rolled down her cheek and finally dripped of her small button nose. When she closed her eyes, she tried desperately to slip back into the peaceful dream she was having. The laughing and playful children that tackled her to the ground as Kevin looked on from the front porch swing.
0300 hrs, Sub level two briefing room, CIA Headquarters.
The room was dimly lit as the still photos of the Naqada took up most of the white screen. Alpha fire team studied every detail of the photo as Garrett pointed out the large number of rigging lines and obstacles.
Next up was a photo of what could only be described as hired mercenaries. Garrett pointed out a number of briefcases, probably containing automatic weapons. V-man saw one of the men had a long black bag slung over one shoulder. He memorized his counterparts face, as he was sure to come across him again.
"...and the latest Intel has the Naqada leaving port a little less than an hour ago," Garrett said as he turned the lights back on and turned towards the SEAL team.
"We could use a HALO insertion to board the ship. We could probably take out half the mercs before even touching down," Jake said quickly.
"All that rigging makes it a risky insert. We get tangled in that shit and we might as well shoot a flare up to signal our arrival," Bob Holiday added.
Garrett walked around the large conference table and stared hard at Adam Dawson. Their eyes locked on each other and Adam could tell he was unsure about how to proceed. This was his best chance to take down at least one of the elusive terrorists; he did not want to fail.
"Thirty years in the Army didn't make me much of a water guy. This is your team, so you make the call Dawson."
"Well we could have the local police slow the ship down some in the straits by Istanbul, but that might tip our hand. That moron could let the virus out once he realizes that we know where he's at. I think a HALO drop is our best option for surprise."
"Your team Chief thinks the rigging would get in the way," Garrett said as he looked over at Bob.
"I'm not talking about landing on the ship. We land a few miles behind the ship after it enters the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy always has a Los Angeles class sub in the Eastern Med. We get word to them to pick us up and we insert from behind them with a zodiac."
Every member of SEAL Team Two Alpha squad looked at the team leader. Bob Holiday had been a SEAL for a long time and never had he ever heard of such an insertion. He was well versed in High Altitude Low Opening jumps, along with deployment from a submerged submarine, but never together.
"Um – L-tee, I don't want to sound like a rookie here but I don't remember practicing that one," Bob said.
Adam stared hard at Garrett Brown. "You haven't Chief, I just made it up. Anyone who has a concern should speak up now."
When no one spoke up, Adam looked at Jake Newton. He was well trained when it came to Force Recon, but could he handle keeping up with the Navy SEALs, even if he was part werewolf. Jake showed no emotion as he sat back in his chair.
Garrett turned to look at his own trusted point man. "Jake, you up for this or do you want to sit this one out?"
"I'm up for it. I was just thinking about how fun it would be to try something out of a James Bond movie."
"Okay people, let's get our gear and assemble in the loading area in thirty minutes. I'll have the G4 standing by at the airfield. The insert aircraft will be a C-130 out of Sigonella Italy. Kristine, you run Intel and ops control from here. I'm sure Jack could find you a chair to use next to his terminal," Garrett told the assault team.
The team filed out but Kevin grabbed Kristine's arm softly. When she turned around, he had a serious face. No words were spoken, as he pulled her hand out and placed an envelope in her palm. She turned it over and read the single word on the outside – Laura.
"No Kevin, I can't – I can't do this. There must be someone else who can..."
"Outside the team, you're the only one I trust who could do it. Don't look so shocked, someone has one for you too," Kevin said as he touched her cheek.
"Do me one favor then, Kevin."
"If I can."
"Kill that fucking werewolf and bring my husband back."
24 hours later, over the Eastern Mediterranean, altitude 31,000 feet.
The team sat quietly as they collected their thoughts. Adam looked over at his team's medic, John Balch. Normally he would have checked him out in all aspects of an insertion before joining the team, but his impressive medical skill made him an easy choice. He unstrapped his seat belt and walked over to him.
"GQ, I know you haven't been through this to an extent to where you're qualified yet. Are you going to be up for this? I need to know I can count on every member of my team," Adam said in a voice loud enough to get over the engine noise.
"Piece of cake Sir. It's just like doing it at 10,000 feet except you're on oxygen for this one. I just hope you guys don't slow me down any, I'd hate to show you old farts up on my first mission," he replied with a smile.
Adam smiled back at him and was about to respond to his improved bravado when the aircrafts Crew Chief tapped him on the shoulder. He leaned in close and told the team leader they were three minutes out from the exit point. Turning to the assault team, he held up three fingers and screamed out to do an equipment check.
Everyone stood up and checked each other's chutes and oxygen equipment. Once the checks were complete, everyone gave a thumbs up. Kevin reached down to the weapon that was strapped to his leg and checked the security of the Desert Eagle. Once he was satisfied that it would stay put during the three and a half minute free fall, he tightened the mask on his face.
The Crew Chief walked aft and actuated the ramp and hatch. He held tightly to the bulkhead as the air rushed out, then waited for the pilots command. Adam looked behind him at the faces of the team. They seemed to act as if this was just a normal day. Garrett and Jake looked relaxed, but their eyes gave them away – the nervousness showed.
He turned back and stared into the moonless night. The low overcast clouds would conceal any stars that might silhouette their bodies as they entered the water. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the green jump light come on and immediately dove out into the eerie blackness.
Lieutenant Adam Dawson tried to control his body position as he fell back to earth at 226 feet per second. The wind whipped at his insulated suit and he tapped the glass face of his altimeter to clear the ice off. He turned his head to the left to see Jake staring back at him. He gave him a thumbs up to show he was okay.
As he looked around at the others, he could see their bodies buffeting against the force of the air hitting them like a shotgun blast. He looked to his immediate right and found the new medic, John Balch. He nodded his head and then began clapping his hands rapidly.
Adam laughed into his mask. He knew if John could take off his mask, he would have a big smile on his face. Probably would look like a dog with his head stuck out of the window as his owner drove down a country road.
Dawson checked his altitude again, as he broke through the cloud cover. They were at 8700 feet and he could start to make out the running lights of the Naqada. He gave the team the signal and everyone flew their bodies to a safer distance for opening the chutes. They continued past the merchant vessel and when they reached two thousand, every member of the team pulled the ice-cold metal handle of their ripcords.
As the black chutes appeared, Adam did a count and he was one short. Carl Werner was tumbling out of control as the fouled parachute fluttered uselessly above him. Bob also saw the troubled gunner falling rapidly. He was helpless to do anything but watch as Carl continued downward.
"Pull the reserve God damn it! Pull – pull the fucking cord Carl!" Adam screamed into the night air.
Suddenly, they could make out the reserve chute deploy and billow open a mere hundred feet above the water. They all watched as the muscular black SEAL hit the water hard, but it was too dark to see if he got clear of the silk chute.
When the team splashed down, John quickly released his Koch fittings and swam under the water for a few yards. When he thought he was safe, he surfaced and swam as fast as he could to Carl's impact area. He saw his new friend had cleared his chute but was floating face up as the water splashed around him.
John quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him around. "Carl – Carl can you hear me, Carl!"
"Yeah I can hear you GQ. Keep screaming at me like that, and so will the tango's you dumbass," he whispered, as the medic ran his hands skillfully over Carl's body.
Adam was the next to reach the two SEALs. "Carl, Jesus Carl you okay?"
"I will be when the rookie here stops feeling me up like I'm his prom date. That was fun Boss, can we do it again after we kill all the bad guys?" he said with a large fake smile.
"Sure Carl, just for you buddy. Everyone else okay?" he asked the assembled team.
"Alright Dawson, you got us all wet and we're now three miles behind the ship. Where's our ride, or do you intend on floating around until the sun comes up?" Garrett asked.
"Don't get your panties in a wad just yet Garrett." Adam produced what looked like a normal flare, but this one had a button on the bottom of it. After he pressed the rubber coated switch, Adam let it dangle from his equipment harness about two feet beneath the surface of the water.
USS Tarpon Springs (SSN-745), 4 miles behind the Naqada.
Commander Michael Reinhardt studied the charts he had strewn across the table. As he flipped through them, he dropped the flash message he received on the deck. When he reached down to pick it up, he suddenly found himself staring at a pair of shinny steel toed boots.
He stood up and glared at his Executive Officer, Lieutenant Jack Walsh. "What is it XO? More stupid requests from the higher ups?"
"Skipper, sonar reports two splashes in the water a thousand yards ahead, bearing 090 degrees. He said he had on small one and about five seconds later on really big one."
"Could be the target we're shadowing just throwing out the trash. Was there anything else?"
"Just the splashes Skipper. I'll have sonar track..."
Suddenly a voice came over the squawk box. "Con, sonar."
"Go ahead Richardson."
"Con, I have a submerged pinger bearing 090. Sounds like it's in the same spot as the splashes I just picked up."
"Roger that Richardson. Report all contacts."
"Sir, my only contact is tango 137, six thousand yards, bearing 089."
"Sounds like the crazy fuckers we have to pick up are here. XO, bring the boat to periscope depth and move us to within fifty yards of the contact. Once you have us in close brings us up nice and quiet."
Commander Reinhardt tossed the flash message on the table and picked up his cup of coffee. As he took a long drink, he had but a single thought. "I'm going to get these guys on board, whoever they are, and then I'm gonna beat the shit out of them for compromising my boat."
Jake floated over to Kevin, who was watching the Naqada as she moved farther away. "Um – I don't want to sound ungrateful for getting me out of the office, but are we getting out of the fucking water anytime soon?"
"Take it easy Jake. What would you want to do, change and howl into the water?" he whispered.
"That's not a bad idea. I like it when I'm my real self."
"You are your real self. The other part is what scares the shit out of people to where you have few, if any, real friends," Kevin shot back.
"Dude you really need to get in touch with your inner..."
"Hey, if you two are done contemplating the meaning of the universe over there, you might want to look for a submarine that might be nearby," Bob said sternly.
"Sure think Chief," Jake replied as he stuck his head underwater.
When he came back up, he shook his wet hair out of his eyes. "Sorry Chief, I didn't see one around, but I'll keep looking."
"Dvorska, remind me to stick a pencil flare up his ass when we get on board," Bob replied sarcastically.
Quickly, Jake turned towards a strange sound coming from behind them. With his acute vision, he saw bubbles coming up from the rolling water. A few moments later a large black sub rose eerily out of the water. They had no lights on, but the team could make out the silhouette of a Los Angeles Class Attack Sub floating about fifty yards away.
"What did I tell you Garrett, curb side service at its best," Dawson laughed as he began swimming towards the sub.
Reinhardt spun slowly in a circle as he peered through the night vision capable periscope. When he saw the area was clear, he called for his Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Jerry Stewart. "COB, get a team together and get those dumb fuckers inside quickly."
"Aye, aye Skipper."
"One more thing COB, if they give you any shit, toss them back in the water and shut the hatch."
"Yes Sir, not a problem."
The dark haired angel looked down into the mist with a worried look. He knew this might be the human's last chance to stop the destruction of their race. He could only pray that the addition of the two peaceful werewolves would be enough to stop the evil. His thoughts were interrupted when Gabriel walked slowly towards him.