The Pandora Effect Ch. 08byboneams©
Thank you to the women that helped guide my progression from fledgling author to; he's got potential: Dawn, Nulli, Mistress of the shadows, Jaz Cullen, and MizT, thank you for the lessons. Who would have thought a few years ago I'd end up like this. To the fans that have followed my stories, thank you, your support is overwhelming, and I'm truly humbled by it. With all my hopes, enjoy the conclusion of 'The Pandora Effect'.
Victorian Seaways, an hour and thirty minutes out from Ramsgate, United Kingdom.
The first class lounge was spacious, with various pieces of nautical artwork adorning the mahogany covered walls. The ambience of the soft lights was overpowered as the bright sunshine streamed in from the pair of large glass windows on either side of the bar. Two dapper servers tended to the small group of passengers that surrounded the waist-high bar. When the commuters had their drinks, the taller of the two bartenders grabbed a silver serving tray, and headed out to wait on the seated guests.
His first stop was a corner table, placed next to one of the large glass panes where an older couple rested, holding hands, and staring out the thick glass window towards the calm English Channel. The server took the couples' order as the once ebony haired woman laid her head against her husband's thin shoulder. Her silver highlights made her look even more majestic as the two shared a special moment between them. The server smiled to himself at the romantic intimacy the husband and wife shared, oblivious to presence of the other passengers around them.
As the well-groomed server weaved through the tables with practiced ease, he stopped to pick up a discarded napkin off the royal blue carpet. Something caught his eye and he glanced over at the passengers' shoes that occupied one of the tables located along the port wall. They all wore some type of military style boots, and he chuckled to himself at the lack of fashion exhibited by the gruff trio.
"Would you gentlemen care for anything from the bar? We have a fine selection of..." the courteous server tried to ask.
A muscular looking man with his back to the wall indicated for him to leave with a quick gesture of his hand. The other two brawny men remained silent, as they stared out at the other passengers with cold forbidding eyes. When no indication was given that his presence was needed, the server shrugged his shoulders and walked off with unhurried steps.
"It figures -- no fashion sense, OR manners," he thought as he carried out his duties.
His last stop was at the very end of the lounge, near one of the thick oak doors. A young looking man dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt sat back against the plush red cushions while he read a fishing magazine.
From his vantage point above the small table, the server could see the inside of the ceramic mug placed on the table. A small trace of coffee was all that remained, which made him wonder why someone so young would be drinking coffee. The college students that frequented the ferry preferred to drink water, or on occasion, one of the upper shelf liquors.
The server cleared his throat to get the young man's attention. "Excuse me Sir, would you like anything from the bar? We have a fine selection of wine, or perhaps something stronger?"
Randy Cross looked up from his magazine, as he smiled at the thought of having a mixed drink. He placed the magazine down next to him and grabbed the almost empty mug. As he held it up, his smile became bigger. His small dimples made the Navy SEAL Chief seem even more youthful.
"Just some coffee, black with two sugars if you would Sir," Randy requested with an air of politeness.
The SEAL watched the server place the mug on the tray, and with an acknowledging gesture of his head, return towards the bar to fill his orders. Randy stole a few moments to look over at one of the tables against the wall. It was the same table he had been monitoring since entering the upper most lounge area where three sturdy looking men, dressed in all black, rested during the crossing.
Shifting in his seat, he pretended to get comfortable as he glanced towards the other side of the lounge where another husband and wife sat waiting for the crossing to end. The small SEAL did not have to worry about monitoring that particular couple; someone else in the room was shadowing them.
Randy stretched his legs out and sighed with genuine boredom as he retrieved the dreary magazine. After flipping the page, he checked his watch then went back to reading.
"Thank God, only about an hour left of reading about fucking lures, and bass," he thought as he looked over the top of his Field and Stream towards his charges.
Frederick Konr scanned the room, his attention snared by the nervous glances toward the exit from one of his colleagues. He wasn't sure if the other man was sensing danger, or if the pressure of their current assignment was just getting to him. After four years of doing various missions with the anxious mercenary, he'd learned to recognize when he was becoming nervous; he'd also learned to place faith in the other man's sixth sense. "Karl, is there something bothering you? It can't be the security; so far, it's been nonexistent."
"I can't quite place my finger on it Fredrick, but that kid in the corner over there keeps monitoring us." Karl shifted in his seat with a nervous edge as his blue eyes tightened at the young man's intrusive behavior. He had been studying human body language long enough to know when he was being watched. He found it peculiar that he would take note of their table and disregard the rest of the passengers.
"See for yourself Fredrick, every so often, he'll peek over the top of that magazine. I think he's shadowing us and it's putting me on edge. He's been doing it since he arrived, which leads me to believe he might be someone we might have to dispose of before leaving," Karl said to the team leader with a hint of unease in his voice.
Fredrick shifted his vision with a practiced calm and took a slow glance towards the end of the lounge. There in the corner, he saw a bored young man who was small in stature wearing a floppy hooded sweatshirt and jeans turn the page of a magazine and glance over at them for a few seconds before continuing to read.
Fredrick chuckled in amusement at the so-called operative. "What, you think that college kid is some kind of military spy or something? He doesn't look old enough to buy a beer, let alone have a strong enough build to be part of any Special Forces unit. If I was going to peg anyone as military here, it would be the older guy over on the other side of the lounge. Look at his short hair, muscular frame, tanned face; that guy knows how to handle himself. Why don't you take over for Hans down at the cars, I'm sure he could use a break."
Karl stood up and ran his fingers through his shoulder length blond hair, then moved towards the same exit door the young man sat near. As he progressed, he scanned the other passengers and then stood next to the person who was making him nervous. He rotated his head until his eyes stopped on his intended target.
Randy knew he had the ability to kill the hired gun with ease if it came to it. His instinct however was tempered by his team leader's orders: let them all have safe passage. He needed to think of a ruse to throw the dangerous man off his tail, and he needed to do it before the situation became unstable.
As the young Navy SEAL locked eyes with the tense mercenary, he gave the blond man a suggestive wink of his eye, then ran his pink, wet tongue across his upper lip with a hint of seduction. Giving a quick nod of his head toward the door, Randy indicated to him his intentions to follow him out into the passageway.
Karl watched the young man's display of affection with the sudden realization that his monitoring of them was nothing more than sexual curiosity. His callous stare remained, but now it was due to the disgust of such a proposition towards him. He felt the bile begin to rise as the young man stared back with a wanton smile. "You fucking sick little degenerate bastard. I don't fuck other men."
Randy leaned towards the merc, as his youthful smile changed into pout. "Now that is a pity, you hunk of a man. From the way you kept staring at me with those dreamy blue eyes of yours, I thought you might have been trying to get some -- alone -- time with me," he whispered. The mercenary didn't say another word as he stormed out through the doors; leaving the SEAL far away behind.
Toward the front of the lounge, Fredrick monitored the small exchange between the two men. He tried hard not to laugh aloud as he witnessed the homosexual advances toward his teammate. He made a mental note to mention it in future conversations after the mission was over. He was never one to let a good jab go to waste.
There was one other person in the luxurious lounge who also witnessed the tense moment by the exit door, Bob Holiday. The veteran SEAL picked up his own coffee mug and took a small sip of the hot bitter liquid. He returned the drink to the table and placed it just in front of him. Bob checked his thick dive watch, then leaned his head back, pretending to sleep as he thought of his fellow SEAL. "You need to get some professional help soon, Randy."
Ferry terminal, Ramsgate, United Kingdom.
Adam Dawson, and Jake Patrick, stood next to Garret Brown in the center of the driving lanes. The evacuated terminal area seemed like a ghost town, and an eerie silence hung heavy in the air. The main architect of the upcoming ambush studied the final touches with a trained tactical eye. Adam played the possible scenarios out in his mind again as he scanned the narrow space the SEALs had engineered for the arrival of their guests.
For the past two hours, the men positioned cars and equipment in the open area, creating an effective bottleneck that led to either a row of concrete lane dividers and the exit gate, or a large warehouse with a single loading dock. Regardless of which path the enemy took, the BMW's would run head on into an inescapable and blistering SEAL ambush. With just a mere seventy-five yards of area to maneuver in, it would take some skillful actions to escape the trap.
Jack Patrick looked outside the perimeter fence line to the nearby houses and apartment buildings, with lingering doubts about civilian casualties if something should happen with the virus. He knew from experience, terrorists often failed to demonstrate the politically correct actions when it came to executing carnage. "Garrett, are we sure about that housing complex over there?"
Director Garrett Brown slapped the SEAL Lieutenant on the back and smiled. "My guys and the local cops evacuated everyone within a two mile radius. The only people around are the good guys Jack."
Adam looked out towards the channel with an anxious expression. "I'm almost positive that won't be the case soon. V-man, do you have anything?"
Dan Vasquez lay prone in his selected position high atop the large water tower with a maintenance catwalk around the entire gleaming, white dome. From his vantage point behind the access ladder's safety cage, he had a clear line of fire almost straight down the exit lane. At the distance Adam expected him to engage his target, it would be sheer seconds before the back of the driver's head opened up to the outside air.
When he heard the call come in from his team leader, he adjusted the dial on the high-powered binoculars and waited for the Victorian Seaways to come into focus. With the modern look of the ferry, he recognized his three friends on board were more comfortable than he was for the moment.
"I've got them Boss. Man that sucker sure can move, and judging from her speed, we'll be knee deep in terrorists in just under an hour, maybe less," V-man muttered with a hint of pleasure.
"Copy that V-man. Wolfie, any problems from your view?" Adam asked as he looked towards a tall reddish tower.
Located discreetly behind a large sign on the viewing rail of the Port Master's station, Mark Wolfhorst scrutinized the housing area through his high-powered scope. With practiced ease, he moved the muzzle of his M-82A1 .50 caliber sniper rifle past the front gate and across the ferry terminal.
He had a perfect view of Jake Newton as he leaned back against the cinder block wall of a small building. He lifted his eye off the scope and took a rapid look around. "That's a negative Sir. The local police are keeping their distance, and Mr. Brown's associates are positioned at the front gate. Looks like the area will be quiet until we're done."
"Sounds good. Let's just hope we can do this with minimal force and destruction," Adam radioed back.
Lieutenant Patrick placed his hand on Adam's shoulder and leaned into him. "Hell Adam, I'd be happy if they just drove up and surrendered, but what kind of fun would that be right?"
"I don't think our dear friend Bashir Haddad will want to give up quietly," Adam replied with a small hint of apprehension.
"Oh well, it's his funeral buddy." Jack tapped his friend's shoulder a few times, then went to join the other two members of Bravo in the staging area.
Adam and Garrett continued to stand out in the open area looking into a bright sky and calm channel, in trepidation of the calm before the storm. Adam questioned himself again about the location of the ambush. Given the information on the party crashers, it made sense they were hired mercenaries with orders to escort the terrorists into Heathrow.
The idea of taking out four hired guns didn't worry the Navy SEAL, what did bother him was that mercenaries were as unpredictable as the weather. Adam checked his watch one more time, and then headed towards his own position behind one of the parked cars as Garrett went to the front gate one last time before joining Jake.
"Everyone check your hide, and make sure you have your masks handy," Adam said. "If this goes south, I don't want to have to shoot a bunch of zombies."
Hospital Corpsman Bill Haley leaned against the rail and watched as the channel water churned with the tremendous force of the large propellers beneath them. His mind drifted back to a time of deploying on great Navy vessels, ships that became small cities on a vast blue ocean. The amount of sheer power a few steel blades could produce, never failed to impress him. He stretched his large powerful arms over his head, and turned around to peer down the vehicle bay.
The replacement guard for the two BMWs remained where he was, leaning against the wall near the black sedans. Bill thought at first that the blond haired merc might have a touch of hysteria. Every time he would walk to the bow to stretch his legs, the SEAL medic overheard the blond haired man talking to himself.
When Bill noticed the mercenary walking towards him, he tensed in anticipation of possible hostility. "Now what the fuck is his problem? I wish I could just kill this guy and put him out of his misery."
Bill checked his watch and then sighed as he slumped against the rail in a nonthreatening posture. He thought if he seemed bored, the merc would just leave him alone. He shifted his eyes towards the side of the ferry as the guard approached him and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.
"Hey, you got a light?" His tone indicated he was irritated about something, and Bill braced himself to react with deadly force.
The SEAL reached into his pocket and pulled out a plain silver Zippo and stroked the serrated wheel against the flint. As the flame danced around in the light breeze, the aggravated guard placed the end of the cigarette in his mouth and inhaled deeply. As he blew the smoke out, he looked at the burly medic.
"Thanks." The hired gun walked away and once again started mumbling to himself. "Little son of bitch. Do I look like I date men? Why would that little prick think I would want to do something like that? Women find me..."
Bill shook his head. "If this is the talent of the mercenaries we gotta take down, this is gonna be a cake walk." He was jolted out of his thoughts of an easy take down as the public address system came on line with a striking female voice.
"May I have your attention please? The Victorian Seaways will be making her final approach to Ramsgate soon. The Captain has requested that passengers please return to their vehicles, and would like to remind everyone to leave your engine off until the debarking ramp is in place. Thank you for sailing with Victorian Seaways, and we hope you have a pleasant day in the United Kingdom."
Bob watched his fellow SEAL get up and move in behind an elderly couple as they made their way out into the passageway. He stood and stretched as he rolled his head in small circles, then made his way towards the bar. When he came upon Bashir Haddad, he stepped aside with a courteous smile and allowed him to pass with his wife.
When he reached the bar, the proficient SEAL ordered a bottle of water and turned to watch the two terrorists who were in control of the world's deadliest virus exit the lounge. As they walked out the door, they were flanked by three muscular men dressed in black who Bob knew would never see another sunrise.
Senior Chief Holiday picked up his water and tossed a few bills on the bar. With a relaxed stride, he made his way towards the exit of the lounge. Pulling the thick oak door open, he stepped out into the hallway with just a single thought on his mind.
"And so it begins."
Bill monitored the unsuspecting civilians as they made their way to their cars. When he saw his team Chief, Randy Cross, enter the bay, he began an unhurried stroll not far behind him towards their sedan. Just as he passed one of the steel doors leading topside, Bob exited and followed him onward. When the two reached the vehicle, Bob moved into the driver's seat as Bravo's beefy medic slid in beside him.
"When we reach the ramp, I'm gonna jam the car sideways and block the exit. I can't do anything about the civilians in front of us, so let's hope the team allows them to pass before opening up on the bad guys," Bob said to his small team.
Bill saw the thin ebony semi driver get out and check his vehicle over. Since leaving the port of Oostende, Belgium, the driver never exited his vehicle. The medic figured he was like every other truck driver, sleep when you can. He narrowed his eyes, as a cold chill engulfed his rugged frame. "You guys notice anything different about our truck driver Abdul up there?"
"I'm not sure I follow you Bill, what do you mean?" Bob said in a hushed tone.
"I could be just losing my mind, but wasn't he wearing sandals back in Belgium?"
Bob glanced at the driver's shoes. "Well fuck me with a flagpole. Those aren't steel toed work boots; they're the same top of the line combat boots the guys in the lounge had on."
Holiday watched as the driver made eye contact with one of the mercenaries standing by the driver's door and gave him an affirmation of his head. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he contemplated the unsuspected twist in the upcoming assault.
"Gentlemen, you know you're getting too old for this shit when assholes like this get on your last nerve. Randy, don't make a big show of it because we still have civilians walking around, but you better let Alpha know about the truck. After that, I guess you better pull out the hardware, this is gonna go thermal in a hurry."
Adam heard the squeal of the Sat-Com radio and reached over between himself and Carl Werner. He held the handset to his ear and listened for a brief moment, then lowered his head in frustration as the news of the truck came over the airwaves. "Oak leaf copies all. You three watch your six -- out."