Wow! It has been a long time since I was last here! Very glad both old and new users are editing like always. Here's my next project, the SILO files. Enjoy! This is not in the same universe as the LANCER Project.
Inspired by Clive Cussler's Oregon Files. Mr. Cussler, you're my hero!
April 15, 2016
Mothball fleet, in California
Seaman Ned Ingalls woke up in a yawn. Looking at his clock, he saw another five minutes in his shift.
One of the most boring and desolate places in the Navy was the mothball security. In Suisun Bay, the largest US mothball fleet rested. Creaked ships dating back to the second World War along with simply decommissioned vessels that were deemed in fighting shape were stored here.
Ingalls had been enlisted for four years and done an amazing job serving aboard the USS Chung-Hoon while it was in Pearl Harbor. The vessel was one of the finest, participating in conflicts including Libya and Syria civil wars. His operation of the Tomahawk missiles had earned him a commendation and among the best of the Arleigh Burke destroyers in the fleet.
But something happened, his downfall was as rapid as his ascent. Files of a supposed murder of his younger sister brought him down to a seaman. Although he managed to find her killer, he was still deemed of charges, so he took the next best job avaliable to him. Mothball sentry.
The best ship in the mothball fleet was the USS Iowa. Bearing her famous guns, she was the pride of the fleet in World War II. A symbol of hope to the Americans and cold fear to whomever stood against it. Those guns were among the largest in the world. Almost nothing could withstand such a powerful attack from the 16 inch turrets. BB-61 would one day be put back into service with the Russians and their powerful vessels.
Ingalls met with Steven Bryce, who was heading the recomission.
"We shall get started?" Bryce asked, his naval uniform nicely cleaned and pressed, unlike Ingalls.
"Sure." Both walked out to the Iowa.
"Hold on." Bryce said as they began to approach the battleship. "This is the New Jersey. These ropes are fresh and Iowa's were never changed since her docking here."
"Are you sure?" Ingalls asked, more out of curiosity.
Ingalls was still confused. "Then if this is New Jersey, where's Iowa?"
“Her name’s Sazandora.” The man to his right said, “She’s Japanese.”
The Eritrean Patrol Boat spotted the long boat and followed, shadowing it for the past hour. The Soviet made Osa class missile craft approached the vessel. Strangely, the ship looked old, nearing the end of her time. Warrant Officer Gali saw the peeling paint, thick smoke emitting from the engines. Obviously, the ship hadn’t seen repairs for years. The red dot of the rising sun waved upon the tallest point of the vessel, above the bridge.
Gali had his helmsman park next to Sazandora’s port side. He took out a microphone and spoke. “This is Warrant Officer Gali of the Eritrean Navy. Please be noted that you are about to be boarded and inspected.” From the look of her, the Sazandora was a carrier for oil and goods that were too small to be carried by the larger freighters. Few ships were ever seen near Eritrea’s port, due to the ominous threat of neighboring Somalia and its pirates. Sazandora was a unique sight, being in the Red Sea.
Gali had one of his men mount a .50 caliber machine gun as he and his partner, Katalani climbed the ladder once the captain had given them permission to board. Katalani held an AK-74U carbine in case trouble arose.
A moment later, the door opened revealing a colossal man that must have tipped the scales at nearly two hundred and fifty pounds. Gali made a slight face at his appearance.
The Sazandora’s skipper’s gut sagged a good seven inches over his belt. He had a uniform, stained with sweat and his face had folds of skin over the cheeks. Seeing the naval officers, he twisted the red cap over his greasy black hair and fumbled to smooth out the wrinkles on his uniform. It was a failure to impress.
Gali stepped onto the deck, trying his best to ignore the scraping sound as his boots touched the rust caked floor. It hadn’t seen new paint in years. Corrosion covered the tall derrick crane behind the bridge so much it looked as if any moment it would crash down. Katalani’s palms touching his weapon were beginning to sweat.
“Welcome aboard the Sazandora.” He said, in a heavily Japansese accented English. Gali had to go through every word the man said to understand, even though English was the main language of maritime trade. “I am Captain Isokokoru Kojiro.”
Kojiro and Gali were approximately the same height, from his hunch. He began to speak first with a breath that smelled like spoiled yogurt.
“You’ve been spotted entering Eritrean waters and are now under our custody. Is there a problem?”
Kojiro looked at the containers behind the ship, which had less rust, due to the crew’s lack of maintenance. “We had the engine jammed, fourth time this year. Although your ports can’t take us in for our size, we should get it fixed and on our way by late tonight.”
“I’m going to need to see your crew’s manifest as well as the cargo’s.” Gali persisted.
“No problem.” Kojiro led the Warrant Officer and his partner down the hallways. The interior was just as disgusting as her outside. Salt crusted lights hung overhead, giving the hallway a dim, flickering glow. Peeled paint shook off with as little as a touch. Kojiro led them to the office, which had a desk cluttered with papers and dust. A sheet stained bed was in the corner and a door to the bathroom nearby. The toilet and sink were filthier than some of the slums that Gali had been to.
He made a gesture for them to sit, Katalani flicked off a dead corpse of a silverfish before he sat down.
Kojiro rifled through a drawer, saying something in Japanese every now and then. He finally handed Gali a clipboard with papers of both the cargo and crew manifest. Gali handed the cargo manifest to Katalani while he looked through the crew. Katalani only counted empty crates, but reasoned from seeing the ship’s condition. Gali saw the crew consisted of various Asian, American and Hispanic workers. Kojiro himself was from Okinawa. Gali was taken by surprise that he was only thirty eight. He looked like he was breaking the fifties. He worked for Japan’s Maritime World Shipping Service for ten years and as Sazandora’s commander for three. Nothing to be suspicious of, but Gali wanted to be thorough.
“The containers I saw before I entered your office are on the verge of collapse.” Gali told Kojiro. “I wish to inspect all of them if it doesn’t take any of your time.”
“Let me see here.” The captain peered under his desk, retrieving another clipboard. “It’s fine, I got plenty of time.”
Suddenly a loud gurgle came from the bathroom, alerting all three. Kojiro barely had time to stand when another Japanese man wearing a plumber’s outfit jabbered in Japanese in an alerting manner. Kojiro cursed and sprinted to the bathroom as fast as his overweight form would allow. Slamming the door, all of them heard a gushing sound as well as a new foul odor filled the office. Gali held up a hand as Katalani began to bring his AK-74U out from its concealed spot.
“My apologies, Warrant Officer,” Kojiro sincerely stated, “Lee had a rupture in the plumbing and went south, we still are needing parts and had to make a few sacrifices.”
Katalani whispered to Gali in his native tongue. Gali nodded and addressed Kojiro, “Well I see that you have your hands full already. I see nothing wrong, so I won’t take up any more of your time.”
“Are you sure?” Kojiro asked, concerned slightly.
“Yes. I’ll notify other patrol boats that you’re under repairs. If anything gets out of control, let the Massawa port know.”
“Yeah. Sazandora’s tired, but she still has some energy.”
Gali ignored his comment and made his way down to the patrol boat. A cast off and they sped away from the cargoship. The derelict ship fading away as they reentered the port.
“Finally.” Katalani said aloud, since the crew of the ship was not nearby to hear. “That garbage dump was giving me nightmares.”
Kojiro watched as the patrol craft was out of his sight and turned around, striding back to the office. He slid aside his chipped clothes wardrobe and pushed aside his worn garments to flip a switch. The back of the closet had a secret door that slid open. He stepped inside to reveal a cool hallway with a dark mahogany floor with rich carpeting and warm lighting, contrary to the other side.
Like the ship, the captain wasn’t what he seemed. Kojiro reached inside his mouth picking out large wads of cotton which made the fat cheeks disappear instantly. His greasy hair was pulled off in a wig and he removed nearly invisible tape, changing his eyes from its Asian appearance. His shirt was lifted and removed several balls of clothing, making him lose at least one fifth of his weight.
Another man appeared beside him in a slender and muscular frame at the same time. His blue eyes looked over the man and his shed disguises. With a nod from both, they stopped at one room and opened it.
Like the disguise Victor Havok had used to fool Warrant Officer Gali, the Sazandora hid other things. Sazandora wasn’t even the ship’s name; they had taken magnetic letters, rearranging them from its makeshift registration to Defiant, her real name.
Defiant wasn’t actually a cargoship. She was a modified Ticonderoga class cruiser that was donated to Havok when his commander at the CIA encouraged him to start SILO. Techically, Havok and his team were mercenaries, but a lot of times, they took orders directly from Havok’s ex-commander, known as SILO Actual, or Actual for short.
Defiant then went in secrecy to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to undergo one of the most radial refits a ship ever went to. She spent a good five months in dry dock. Her old engines were replaced with the latest cutting edge power plants, using a process called metahydrodynamics and seawater as fuel and power, energy was nearly unlimited. Her new power plant could carry her up to forty five knots.
Since the new speed would take a toll on the hull, it had to be reinforced. The ship got new armor plating called AMAP. The German made battleplate was capable of surviving a direct hit from torpedoes as well as ship to ship cannons.
The refit also included new features, like a moon pool at the back of the ship which housed a submersible, a SEAL assault craft and Zodiacs. Also the top deck of the stern was extended, giving the ship a hundred and ninety extra square meters, giving the ship another ninety one feet in length. A helipad was placed at the end where SILO kept a pair of Bell 206 JetRanger helicopters. The edges of the back could fold up as a hangar to store both aircraft.
Then there was the unbelievable array of weapons. Two torpedo tubes that launched Mark 48 missiles, a prototype railgun that fired ferric tungsten shells that were programmed by an M1 Abrams targeting computer, she also sported four mounted Death Machines, vertical launchers for surface to air missiles, four 30mm autocannons and multiple 30 caliber machine guns.
For the crew, no expense was spared; Defiant had the living conditions that rivaled four star hotels. Every SILO member that operated aboard the ship had their own room customized to their personal liking. She also probably had the finest kitchen on a ship, with a staff of some of the highest trained chefs in the world.
Havok sat at his commander’s post at the conference table.
“If I were the Eritrean Navy, I’d run as soon as I smelled your breath.” Alexis Roush sneered as he sat next to her. Havok shook his head and accepted a mint from her outstretched hand. He had earlier eaten some asiago cheese to make his breath smell. He purposefully exhaled when Gali was aboard to further discourage him.
Alexis Roush was Havok’s vice director of operations and would use the ship while he was away. She had an outgoing personality and appearance. Yet despite her feminine outside, all of the crew knew to listen whenever she spoke. She served onboard another Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate before planning to retire early when Havok asked her to join SILO.
The Defiant’s senior staff sat around the table, save for Thomas Fixer, doctor of the Defiant, obviously ready to talk business. Next to Havok on his other side was the communications officer Heinrich von Schrader, Taylor Crespo a massive Ex- SEAL who headed SILO’s compliment of Special Forces operatives nicknamed by Havok as “gundogs”.
At the end of the table sat Tyler “Spectre” Vanguilder who was in charge of the ship’s vast array of electronics. Next to him sat his partner in crime, Luke Riley who operated the ship’s incredible armament of weaponry. Of course, Havok’s second in command, Rex Pyra stood at the doorway.
“I heard you had to hit the emergency button.” Pyra quipped with his usual humor.
Back in Havok’s “office” he had a series of buttons underneath his desk. One of them summoned Tyler Lee, who was ready to play the role of an amateur plumber. A few seconds later, the button automatically opened a valve and water shot into the bathroom, helped by a chemical to assist in the odor ordeal. Lee was SILO’s principal director of operations. No detail was too carefully planned out for him, which was why he was also a seasoned CIA veteran. Lee could also boast that he had survived two assassination attempts while undercover in Mongolia. Of course, Havok beat his honor by surviving four in various places around the world. He now stood at the head of the conference table with a laser pointer in hand.
“Actual to Havok. You there Vic?” A voice came from the phone. It was Actual on a secure call from the CIA’s Langley HQ.
“Yeah, just keeping the natives away.” Havok replied.
Actual paused for a second, “Nothing suspicious to report?”
“They took one look at the Commander, another at the ship and they were more than anxious to get off.” Pyra cut in, saving Havok’s skin.
“No sign of them returning?” Actual questioned.
“If we’re here within the next four hours, we’re bound to get more guests.”
“Well then shall we get on to briefing?” Tyler looked around the room. Everyone nodded.
“Seems the Saudi Navy found us our job. I forwarded the coordinates to this terrorist’s naval base. Guy’s a fool for trying to take the Saudi Navy.”
“With explosive limitation talks with Russia and China days away, we have a very narrow window to pull this off.” Actual cautioned, “If you need to delay, I’ll understand if you’re not ready.”
“Unfortunately, it’s now or never.” Havok reminded him. Rex cut in on the conversation.
“We get confirmation that this terrorist cell has its own navy, it’ll go hard to restrict both Russian and Chinese arms exports. We bring back proof that this cell’s got an Oscar II sub with Spartan torpedoes, they get busted-”
“And we get our pay.” Havok finished.
Training at the CIA had taught Havok to function completely over little amounts of sleep. Starting SILO, allowed him to sleep on command. Even without an alarm clock, he had reported to the moon pool a half hour before the mission start.
SILO was merely a couple years old. The main reasons Havok had began SILO was for a moneymaking venture, every member could easily retire with their previous salary plus that which they earned since joining. Havok himself could buy an island in the Caribbean if he wanted. In just the past year, SILO had stopped an ethnic cleansing in Panama and halted a megalomaniac’s plan to dump oil into the Pacific Ocean to halt fishing in his private waters. When one job was finished, it seemed like more were cropping up. Evil was rampaging around the globe and the world powers were straining its militaries and security to meet the rising threat.
Havok’s room was the largest onboard. He had a desk that was always neatly kept. His bed was comfortable, but it still didn’t make him oversleep. The shower had marble lining and the sink could’ve been in a Las Vegas casino. He ignored all his belongings and strode straight to his multitude of safes. Twisting the lock on the second largest one, it popped open to reveal racks of various handguns and machine pistols. He took out one of his preferred machine pistol, the OTs-02 Kiparis.
The Russian made weapon spat out 910 rounds per minute. It was a lasting piece of machinery, despite being nearly three decades old. Havok didn’t particularly care if the weapon was Western or not, if it got the job done, he was fine with it. What he liked about the Kiparis was its ability to fire smaller rounds, at least he modified his weapon to fire .45 ACP in case of a dire situation and he needed ammunition from comrades. However, the weapon would accept many smaller types of ammunition, particularly the Austrailian .45 ACP, he wanted to confuse enemies of who they were supplied with. It would be impossible to track one complete dealer who sold them all the things to complete the objective.
Screwing a silencer on his gun, Havok was good to go.
Taking an elevator down a few stories at the end of the ship, Havok saw all the others of his team, ready to go. He was going the lightest, as being the one to perform the hacking. The others if need be, would engage in combat if the plan went sour. Their transport was NOMAD, a highly tech submersible that was outfitted with a diving chamber allowing personnel to exit while submerged.
Crespo, Tyler Lee, Rex Pyra and Destiny Smith, Crespo’s gundog were already sliding on wetsuits. Alexis “Lexi” Roush was going to pilot the submersible into their drop zone. Havok walked up to her, with her arms folded across her chest.
“We good on the pre checks?”
“Good to go.” She replied merrily.
“Spec, how’s the radar?”
The line was silent for a second before VanGuilder came back on. “Radar shows nothing but a freighter moving east about ten miles out. Other than that, the terrorist port is dark.”
“Then we are clear.” Havok and the others slipped inside the Nomad’s door. Lexi, squeezed into the cockpit as the submersible was lowered into the moon pool. Before the doors opened, the lights dimmed, as not to be shown from outside. Lexi eased out from underneath Defiant’s hull, slowly pulling away.
“She’s free.” Lexi reported.
“Shutting the doors. Good luck, Defiant out.” The other link reported.
Nomad cruised smoothly for a few minutes before Lexi looked over her shoulder.
“Ladies and gents, this is your pilot up here in the cockpit. We will be cruising at an altitude of negative seventy-one feet at four knots. We will reach our destination in approximately fourty-eight minutes. At this time, you may use approved electronics and let us know if you need anything.”
“Hey. I have stale pretzels!” Crespo called out.
“I want a pillow and blanket.” Lee added.
Rex joined in, “While you’re at it, nice tequila on the rocks would hit the spot.”
The crew would use all of this humor amongst themselves before a mission. It wasn’t they were unaware of the risks; it was because they were too professional to let it get to their nerves.
When it was about 5 minutes, Havok and Crespo grabbed their gear and headed to the exiting chamber. It took a little while for the pressure to equalize and both men pinched their noses and exhaled to make themselves comfortable. Victor turned a wheel at the end of the chamber and blood-warm seawater began to fill. He sealed it shut after it was about neck height.
“Why am I always stuck in this room with the biggest guy on the team?” He asked Lexi.
“Because, Rex’s ass is too big to fit in there with Taylor and Destiny and Tyler would be squashed like an ant.”
“You’re lucky that I don’t take deep breaths in here.” Taylor threatened in his deep voice.
Both men put on their respirators as the water went over their heads and their legs came off the ground. Victor eased open the sub’s door and they exited, swimming towards the faint lights. Their goggles had a night vision feature upon darkness, allowing them to see what most couldn’t.
Bubbles rose from the other side.
Rex, Destiny and Tyler were out as well. They saw Havok and swam to him where he gave signals to follow his lead. All gave thumbs up, acknowledging the order. The sub pen was easily visible as they swam closer, the lights reflecting off showed an Oscar II submarine. The submarine was among the deadliest and most feared in the Soviet Navy. Her stealth systems were sophisticated enough to bypass most enemy radar, putting the US Navy on edge. She was the top predator until the Ohio class of the US and the Soviet Kilo class.
The presence of a powerful submarine already proved that the cell was a threat. Seeing that waters around Saudi Arabia were dangerous to venture through, the United States and several other nations maintained a strong naval presence here. Plus submarine attacks on merchant ships as well as Iran’s predator Kilo-class submarines made the place even more notorious.
A shadow lunged at Havok and he instinctively had his dive knife in hand. The rest of the team tensed at his movements. A baby shark eyed them before swimming off into the depths.
“It’s a good thing we met him now and not in a few years.” Tyler Lee said.
Havok was jumpier than expected and signaled his team to move forward while he tried to calm down.
A few minutes more of swimming when the first pipes were spotted. Security wires were behind the iron bars that protected the base. Immediately, Crespo descended to a trio of rusted pipes joined together and reached for a pair of bottles in his dive belt. When he produced the acids, they burned through the pipes enough for him to snap them free. Upon closer inspection, Havok saw bolts holding the wires down. Those had to be removed before they could tamper with the alarm.
The team had neglected to bring a screwdriver, so they had to remove them manually. Pyra did one end while Havok handled the other. One particular bolt refused to unscrew and Havok’s muscles strained and his vision blackened.
In a searing pain, it came out, but not before Havok looked at his finger. There was a small cut about two centimeters long and blood exited in a cloudy appearance.
“Are you trying to make the shark come back?” Rex teased.
“As long as your ass is between me and him, I’m not complaining.” He shot back.
With movements of ninjas, Havok and Destiny Smith spliced the wires, blocking the signal and transmitting it falsely while they roamed freely to complete their mission. Smith gave him thumbs up and he edged around a grate. A long bay with a dark shape indicated the Oscar II was berthed here. One of the deadliest subs in the Soviet Navy, this submarine was among the largest and most lethal. The mere presence of it set the team on edge.
The darkness covered their approach as a pair of bored watchmen was at the end. Making sure to keep his element of surprise, Havok and the others exited the water, stashing their gear. The team drew their assault rifles. Suppressed Indian INSAS. The team enjoyed them most because of their low recoil and pinpoint accuracy. Unlike his team, Havok wasn’t armed to the teeth. They would only kill if needed, shooting at nonlethal areas like the arms or legs.
Both teams already knew what to do. Destiny Smith and Taylor Crespo snuck up a walkway where they entered the sub. Crespo removed a portable jammer and stuck it under one of the stations. Calling for help from a nearby base would be cancelled by the jammer.
Havok spotted his first two victims, a pair of bored looking sentries. One was shuffling cards while the other was drinking from a bottle of water. Taking a deep breath, Havok strode out into the light.
The guards never sensed his presence until he was nearly five feet away from them. One twisted his eyes in his direction and instantly, the AK-74 was out. Fortunately, that was the only weapon either terrorist had.
“Stay where you are and put your hands up!” The man with the weapon said in Arabic.
Havok did no such thing. He raised his arms and the terrorist relaxed when he saw the lieutenant bars on his uniform.
“What? It takes forever to get out of that huge sub.”
The man shook his head and asked him why he was out so late.
“Well I lost track of time and I had fallen asleep in one of the bunkers.”
Both still had suspicion, even though in the presence of a superior officer. The unarmed man asked to see Victor’s identification. He handed it over and watched as they looked at the small card. While they did this, Havok took a box of cigarettes from his pocket. He lit one and let it drag.
Although not one for smoking, he saw the other two and it prompted him to hold it out along with his lighter in the same hand. The terrorists were strictly enforced not to smoke and the officer holding out the pack invited them to do a temporary violation, as the lieutenant would likely not tell the head of the cell.
They only had one second to look at each other before the narcotic dosage hit their systems immediately. Both men crumpled wordlessly to the ground.
Havok tucked all evidence into the Oceanside. Usually his cigarettes would be lethal, but he had the armorer tone down the dosage to render them drug addicted and unconscious for a few hours. For the terrorists torpedoing merchant freighters and punishments for disobedience, Havok didn’t even feel a trace of pity to the hapless men he had tricked. SILO tried making their operations as nonlethal as possible. It didn’t mean they wouldn’t kill though.
Havok spotted the objective on a nearby loading platform. Three Spartan torpedoes. Among the quietest and fastest underwater, their name was dreaded by nearly all captains of all ships. Spartan torpedoes had a different shaped nose, starting out as a bulbous front and a sharp nose cone. The feature allowed the Spartan to cut through water with nearly no friction. Lacking a propeller and using the kinetic generator stored inside the explosives made it ten times less audible than an average sub.
“Begin to load.” Havok motioned to Rex. He stealthily crept up to the crane.
Inside the submarine base, a half-asleep watchman sagged into his chair. A half-drunk cup of coffee was in his hands when he woke up. One of the screens looking at the stern of the Oscar II showed a moving object. It was only a trace in the top right corner and lasted for maybe half a second.
Thinking better of it, the watchman woke his partner and they took Makarov pistols on their holsters.
“Best not to wake everyone up at this time of the night.” He said as they entered the sub pen.
“Kill the lights.” Havok whispered quietly to Smith. She tore open a wall, finding a wire to the lightswitch. With precision, she inserted a small device the size of a matchbox. As soon as it was installed, the lights went out.
To the guards, they would have likely suspected a power outage. Even if they checked the lightswitch, the device Smith had installed would neutralize any signal traveling through the wire. Of course, it could easily be countered by adding a wire around the circuit, but the crew would be long gone by them. The crew donned NVGs and minimized the glowing green lights to keep attention at bay.
Both of the guards had only one Makarov pistol each. Not much of a threat by themselves. Havok still didn’t take a chance. One alert could send one man back for help and the horde of armed terrorists would complicate the operation a hundredfold.
Havok had already made his decision and raised his weapon.
By the time the guard’s partner realized that he was alone, Havok’s hands closed around his mouth. He flailed, causing the hands to squeeze tighter in a vicegrip. The man was out within a second.
“Alright.” Havok whispered quietly, “Smith, radio NOMAD for pickup. Rex, take Lee and divert any more curious guards away from here. Crespo, on me.”
The team moved to their assignments.
Crespo whistled as he saw the trio of Spartan Torpedoes. He slapped one with his free hand. “6 million apiece.”
Havok said nothing as he climbed into the crane, putting a round in the sleeping operator’s head. The controls were easy enough for him to use and he lowered the swinging claw to the top of the pyramid. Crespo grabbed the metal piece and fastened it to the top torpedo.
“NOMAD, we are ready for pickup.”
“Affirmitave,” Roush responded, “Coming up.”
With a bubbly surface, NOMAD emerged and quietly entered the dock next to the dormant Oscar II. The tiny craft barely fit the torpedoes plus the crew. It was dwarfed by the Soviet made watercraft, but still got things and SILO from point A to point B.
Havok lowered the torpedo inside the cargo door there Roush arrived and secured it. Havok repeated the process as Crespo boarded NOMAD to assist. All three torpedoes were on when Smith boarded the submarine. Havok’s nerves were edging when Rex and Tyler Lee didn’t appear yet.
“Commander.” Pyra’s voice came on the com. “The base is on alert. Let’s board and go!”
“Roush.” Havok keyed over to her, “Get Pyra and Lee, dive immedieately!”
Gunfire exploded out of the shadows as well as crisscrossing flashlights. The terrorists had no idea where exactly they were, but sounds was now their main sense and were still dangerous as ever.
The unmistakable sound of a grenade alerted Victor. The fist sized explosive landed at the foot of the crane. Now or never, Havok sucked in air and jumped over the dock. He hit the water at and angle so that it didn’t cause him pain. One who jumped stomach first, “bellyflopping” would later have a red mark on their ventral side. Havok entered the water headfirst just as the grenade exploded, raining pieces of metal and igniting a propane tank, casting an eerie orange glow over the hangar.
“Nice piece of work Commander.” Roush complimented, somewhere in the depths. “I rate that an eight point six.”
Havok grinned and treaded lukewarm water. “Double twist and reverse side.” He instantly dove as a hail of bullets erupted around him. He had to open his eyes and swim towards the NOMAD out at bay, ignoring the stinging of the salt in his eyes. It still stung, not matter how hard he trained to resist it.
NOMAD grew closer to him and he hooked his fingers on the door, beginning to strain for air. He hauled himself inside the door and depressed the chamber. Havok gasped for air, breathing heavily in the salty smelling room. His clothes dripped of water and he requested Lee to bring him a dry set.
The door opened slightly and a T-shirt, undergarment and shorts fell into Havok’s hand. He slipped on the dry clothes and stepped out. The air was stale, but much better than the light-headed salty scent he had breathed for the last four hours.
Roush had a steaming cup of coffee on the chair’s arm when he arrived.
“Defiant’s close by.”
Havok contacted his ship and asked the tech to patch him to Tyler VanGuilder. “Monitor the port.” He ordered, ignoring the young man’s greeting. “I think they might be suspicious and launching search craft.”
“Hang on.” Havok heard some beeping of Spectre’s computer. “Okay, the port reported a break in about five minutes ago. They dispatched small craft, but the terrorist port is tired and you guys should be out of range by now.”
He relaxed and sipped his coffee. It was completely silent the rest of the trip out.
Nomad reappeared in the moon pool after an hour’s trip. Havok ordered his crew to store the three Spartans before he turned in. Throwing off his uniform, he slipped into sleeping clothes and went straight to bed. He didn’t even bother to store his Kiparis.
Defiant was headed out at sunrise the next morning. Havok had arrived at the ops center and took his seat at “Kirk’s Chair”
“I’ve been monitoring the port chatter.” Heinrich replied, a headset glued in his ears. “They reported a break in by some mercenaries, unidentified. Stole their three Spartan torpedoes and left heading westward.”
“I’m afraid so.” Schrader continued, “Plus the traffic. To our southeast is the freighter Ferro and we have a fully loaded supertanker Victoria Reid cruising east to the east of us.” He listened some more, “The USS Richard Nixon is at anchor seven miles west with a carrier group. Probably conducting an exercise to keep the Somalian blockade in shape.”
“Well then let’s move.” Pyra ordered at Vanguilder, “We don’t want to be looking suspicious.”
“Are we still within the boundaries?”
“Tell Vanguilder to get us the hell out. They’ll want to thoroughly inspect every ship within fifty miles.
Havok heard Schrader curse in German under his breath.
“Shit. That Oscar II’s out!”
Havok banged his fist. “How’s that possible?! We disabled the damn thing! Get sonar ASAP!”
“It gets worse.” Heinrich said, his face blanching.
Roush was collected in her seat, but a look at Vic told him that she was worried about their situation more than normal. She’d been under stress before, but not like this.
“We got a fish in the water. Identified as Spartan. Headed for us!”
“I thought we took them all!” Came Pyra’s comment. Another alarming sound beeped and Heinrich called out, “We got another one, not a Spartan! It’s headed for the Ferro!”
The situation got worse as time went on.
“A third fish in the water! Same bearing and range! Homing on the Victoria Reid!”
“Havok, we need to stop them before they reach us!” Roush yelled atop the chaos at the ops center.
“We got a fourth torpedo! This one’s going much slower!”
“Shit.” Havok snarled, “I thought this day was bad already. That torpedo is looking to see what the others miss and then homes in to finish it off.”
It was going to be the Ferro or the Victoria Reid that would take a direct impact and with nearly one-hundred fifty thousand tons of crude, there was no way he would let it be the tanker.
Running through the options in his head, he needed the most was luck. He had seen this tactic used before and there was no defense against it. However, it was going to take more than luck to escape the scene alive.
With four fish rapidly approaching and the Oscar II controlling her school, Havok and Defiant had few options. He knew that his ship could take a direct hit, thanks to her extra thick armor plating. He could even have reserve power in the auxiliary power core to allow Defiant to evade and exhaust the British Spartan torpedo headed for it. However, the hitch to that plan was that it would detect the Ferro and quickly seal her fate.
“We got more problems!” Heinrich von Schrader yelled, one hand to his headset. The Indian Ocean fleet has heard the torpedo shots and the USS Richard Nixon is launching four Vanguards bearing northeast at four hundred and seventy seven mph.”
“Vanguards?” Roush looked up from her station. The US Navy’s S-5 Vanguards were the successors to the S-3 Viking countersubmarine jets. “That Oscar II is gonna have a real bad day starting in ten minutes.”
The first torpedo was headed for Defiant at about 95 knots (about 109 mph) and was about two miles out. The second torpedo was headed for Ferro at the same rate an eighth of a mile behind. The one headed for the Victoria Reid had another mile and a half cushion.The wild card in the situation was the reserve torpedo. Larssen could track the exact location, but only provided blips of the estimated spot it was in. So far it didn’t seem to home in on any of the three ships Time was limited, Havok had to act now. He had to flip the coin and take his chances.
“Helm, take us about to port. Increase by ten knots.” The masculine voice showed no trace of fear.
“Weapons, get the Death Machine spooled up. We’re going to blast the fish headed for us.”
“Roger.” Riley tapped at the console. “Damn.”
A hitch was the last thing Victor needed, “What?”
“Now isn’t the time for mistakes!” Pyra shouted. "We need to kill it before it dives down and hits the keel!"
“Come on! There! She’s primed and ready to fire!”
At the front of the ship, the M134 minigun door opened and the barrel spooled up. In only a second, the gun let out an ear piercing shriek and shot out a hundred rounds. In timing and trajectory, the torpedo, still a half mile away sped straight into the storm of bullets. Seven rounds hit the explosive warhead and it detonated, sending a massive shock wave felt within the ops center.
“Nice work.” Pyra told the crew, “It’s not over through.”
“Radioed the other ships?” Havok asked Schrader.
“I’ve sent emergency calls to the Ferro and the Reid they have the collision alarm on and are bracing for impact.”
The Ferro had a slim chance of turning to avoid the torpedo if the captain timed it correctly, but the Reid had a horrible maneuvering engine. Her frame was heavy upon loaded that she had to begin slowing when she was miles away from port.
“There really is no other way to keep them from sinking.” Pyra concluded racking his brain for ideas. “We’re finished. Innocence got away.”
Havok smiled, “Not exactly.”
“I know better to question you.”
He smiled, “Pyra, can you get the engineers to put one of the Spartans in torpedo bay two. Set a timed detonation and get it for launch ASAP.”
“What are you thinking?” Vanguilder asked.
“Since we can’t stop the torpedoes, we’ll target the sub. An Oscar II needs all the power it can get to surface when it’s damaged. If we hit the control center nonlethally, it’ll stop the connection feed to the torps.”
“Got it.” Rex keyed the crew in the torpedo bay. “How are our Vanguard cops doing?”
“They’re still at least a hundred miles southwest.” Havok was gripping the edge of his chair. “ We need to get it launched before they find us as a culprit instead.”
“It’s in position.” The tech on the torpedo deck reported.
“Helm, match bearings. Transfer detonation code to Riley. Son, drop the hatch.”
Riley hit a button and the screen to Havok’s left displayed the torpedo’s progress. The cameras on the mast showed the white trail headed north.
“Wait for it.” Riley’s hand slightly tensed at Havok’s words. He would either kiss Luke or curse him in hell in the next minute.
“NOW!” Luke depressed the green button that sent an autodestruct signal and the five million dollar torpedo detonated, the cameras showed a gap in the water fifty feet wide and equally as deep. The concussion hit the ship bow on and the Ferro leaned to starboard upon being hit. No explosion on either the Ferro or the Reid had occured. Rex's plan had worked. The screen dropped signals indicating that the torpedoes had been starved of their connections and shut down.
A loud cheer roared in the ops center. Even Havok had a grin plastered on his face. Roush pressed her hands to her headphones. "Dumping ballast! We did it, they're up to the surface!"
"Commander, one of the pilots of the Vanguards wants to know what happened." Schrader reported.
Havok stood up, "Stall him." He couldn't stop beaming at Pyra. "Excellent job! Let the torpedo modifier to look for a bonus in his paycheck!" He was always happy to hand out bonuses to those who would go over the top.
On the camera, the water in front bubbled and the blunt nose of the Oscar II emerged. Her hull plates had buckled and torn metal fell off the sides of the hull. Larssen zoomed the camera into the hatch, the Defiant already steading and countering the movement of the vessel. It was clear that the sub was taking on water. Sailors opened that hatch and poured onto the deck.
"Schrader, anything to report?"
Schlatter nodded enthusiastically. "They're calling the local port as well as a distress call to all naval ships. Her commanding officer wanted all essential personnel below deck and all the lackeys outside."
"Did they call any other ships for help?"
"Negative. I doubt they would."
Havok nodded, "True. Firing on unarmed merchant vessels unexpectedly breaks about forty international treaties."
Pyra teased in response, "So what was that we did at the port?"
On camera, it panned upwards to see a pair of the Vanguard aircraft sweep over the Oscar II. Sailors dove down on the deck as the spray rippled their clothing.
"I'm still getting a request from the Vanguard squadron leader. In addition the an Admiral George Paschal in command of the Nixon is ordering a conversation."
"Then pipe it over." Havok approached and Schrader automatically moved aside. "This is Victor Havok commander of the Defiant over."
"Commander we are sending a squad of men over for debrief and inspection. A Seahawk can reach you in a few minutes." Paschal sounded like he worked as an announcer for a football game. "If you lack a helipad, I will send the frigate Kauffman over. Ferro's and Reid's captains have already agreed."
"Admiral, with all due respect, I did not witness anything going on here. Due to my tight schedule, I need to be underway ASAP."
Havok detected a bit of tension in Paschal's voice. "I will remind you that any coalition vessel operating in these waters has the right to inspect any vessel arriving or leaving port. Stay put and expect a boarding party soon."
He looked at his crew with a smug look on his face. They returned it after he keyed the microphone. "Admiral? The helipad is under repairs currently. Send the Kauffman."
"Okay Havok, prepare for our arrival in approximately two hours."
Without a reply, Havok slit the connection. As soon as he was sure it was dead, he stood up and strode with a purpose towards his cabin. "Get Actual on the horn and tell him to get these guys off our back! Helm, take us at moderate speed to the south and proceed to the rendezvous coordinates."
Yngwie cocked his head, swinging his longer hair, "Won't we be threatened?"
"If Schrader does his job right, we'll be fine." He leered over at the comms officer who was currently dialing Actual and bent over his console. Havok grinned and looked around the ops center. "Yo! Anyone wanna bet! Fifty for the closest time!"
The crew already knew what he was talking about.
"Oh he'll call back in fifteen minutes." Schrader guessed.
"Five." Roush threw her bet in.
"That's too long." Riley challenged, "Ten sounds better."
"He won't notice we're underway in a half hour." Came from Larssen.
VanGuilder put a hand on his chin, "Same as Riley." With a nod from his partner in crime he continued, "We'll split the fifty."
"Right now." Rex Pyra leveled his eyes at his best friend.
"Commander," Havok could almost feel the concealed rage in Paschal's voice. "This is a final warning. If you do not stop, I will order the Kauffman to immediately open fire upon your vessel."
"Admiral." Havok was getting tired of dealing with him but still took it to the letter, "The Oscar II nearly sank my ship as well as two others. I'm already underway and will be out of the coalition water radius well before you arrive and there is little that the Kauffman or yourself can do to stop it."
Pashcal didn't come back until a minute later. "Commander, you are free to leave."
Actual must have pulled a bunch of strings to get SILO out of this one. It was great to have some influence in Langley. Either way, Havok was enjoying the different tone in the Admiral's voice. Seemed like a combination of awe, respect and even a little fear.
"Thank you for your assistance Admiral." Havok replied in the mic. "The Oscar II is currently taking on water and is ripe for a look inside her. Defiant out." He killed the connection and this time, strode to the edge of the ops center with a smile.
Cutting his smile short, he was stopped by Pyra's larger frame. The man wordlessly held out a hand.
Havok rolled his eyes, slapping a fifty dollar bill. A smug look and it was examined as if it were the Constitution.
"What's our ETA?" He asked VanGuilder.
The young electronics expert glanced at the charts. "We won't be there until two in the morning."
"Good. Have the senior staff on first watch and rotate every two hours until the rendezvous." He turned towards his cabin and stopped short. "As for you." He swiped the fifty from Pyra's digits. "For the plan, you now have only four million nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars left to pay from your debt."
The door clicked open and inside stepped Francois Chaveux with a plate and covering. He was so silent that Havok had not heard him approach. In fact, the sound of the opening door ran on deaf ears from his report to Actual.
"I'm going to have to put a bell on you."
The steward and chef was in the French Navy and forced into retirement because of old age. He was thin and Havok couldn't remember his age although he had joined SILO at sixty-two. His attitude was serious and always appeared neatly pressed and clean. In the time SILO was active, nobody had ever seen him sweat, shiver or even establish a paragraph of words in his dialogue.
Chareux set the service on the desk. The top revealed perfectly grilled salmon steaks with mesquite rub. Next to it were potatoes au gratin and steamed florets of broccoli. He even had drinks poured before Havok finished writing and sat down.
"Well, what's new with Mr. VanGuilder and his romance with the one in Spain?"
Chareux was updated and probably the one who did the most gossip aboard the ship. Tyler VanGuilder's cyberaffairs were his favorite.
"He's beginning to believe that both himself and the lady have more in common than he expected."
Havok ate a bite of the steak, savoring the smoky flavor. "Nice. That really isn't that bad."
"That's not what I meant Commander. I'm talking about gender. He believes that she is a man. Upon picture exchanges, he found some details to be photoshopped to hide some...details."
That's all Havok needed to burst out in laughter. "I feel bad for the kid. Can't even get a date in an online chat."
"So is he postponing a trip of Barcelona?"
"She...or he lives in Madrid. I also came to tell you that we are to rendezvous in thirty minutes. Actual also wanted a word about something urgent."
An hour later, Havok strolled inside nourished and feeling exhilirating. The ops center was at mimimal function currently. VanGuilder woke Riley, who was asleep at his station.
"How close are we to the rendezvous?" He asked Alexis.
"Pyra, all set up?"
Havok turned to Schrader. "You got anything on the scope?"
He shook his head, "Negative. Haven't seen or heard from another ship in four hours."
The exchange was to take place far from shipping lanes. In addition, Defiant was in the middle of a dead ocean. Other than seawater, there was literally no sea life. It was as if the fish never existed and they crossed into another world. They had also timed it so that a gap in overlooking satellites to keep it away from unwanted spectators.
"I got a reading." Roush reported after a few minutes of silence. "Ballast being purged." After matching a sound tape from Langley she pressed a headset to her ear. "Confirmed, USS Key West is headed for the surface."
"Helm, keep sharp." Havok ordered Larssen. "Sub's gonna come off the starboard side. Roush, conn's yours."
Havok and Pyra went to the crane, where the two Spartans were laid side by side. Peering over the edge, both made out a small agitation in the water. Key West's conning tower appeared first. She rode low in the water and nearly invisible against the inky black water.
"Careful." He warned Rex. "You dent that sub, you buy it."
"We could always use another one." He retorted, "Indomitable can get lonely."
"Better ask Surrey if he's got a sister." Havok smiled, reaching for his radio. "Helm, thrust us port side, four percent."
Yngway killed the power and the water frothed in foamy bubbles. When he stopped, his handling had put fifteem feet between the two ships.
A hatch opened on the Los Angeles class submarine and a man in a commander's uniform peered out.
"Awesome ship handling!" He yelled, with cupped hands.
"Thanks." Pyra shouted back. "Two loads ready! You guys want to begin?!"
"I thought we were going to get three of them!"
Pyra grinned sheepishly, "Well there was a slight mishap this morning in the port!"
The sub commander cocked his head, "How did it go?"
"Flawlessly." Havok replied, joining his friend at the rail. The commander nodded and motioned for his crew to prepare to get cargo. Upon his go, the technician manned the derrick and began lowering the torpedo. Although the crane looked as if it could collapse any moment, it was rated to lift seventy tons and the ramshackled appearance was really artisitcally applied radar-absorbing paint. A sailor on the opening at the back of the sub gave general hand gestures for adjustments. The first missile was the lowered into the back cavity of the sub. The tech repeated the process and after both were delivered, the large doors began to close. After a quick exchange of gestures, the submarine commander closed the hatch and water churned around the black mechanical monster. Slowly the water claimed more of the ship. The conning tower slipped beneath the surface with barely a ripple.
"Rotten way to make a living." Pyra shivered. Although not a huge claustraphobic, he couldn't stand being trapped underwater for weeks on end.
His commander shook his head, "Crespo says they're actually roomy from his experiences in the SEALs. According to him, they're as good as some of the hotels he's stayed at."
"Yeah well he's cheap. Goes for the motel hourly rates and clean sheet sort of joints."
The wind began to pick up as Defiant accelerated south towards their next mission. At full power, the metahydrodynamics would make standing on the deck like you were in an F5 tornado. Both men began securing prop crates and fed the crane's cable back into the sheath. By the time they were finished, it took a great effort on Havok's arms to pry open the door. Schrader came up to him as he took his seat.
"Just got a call from Indomitable in Seattle."
SILO's submarine was staging a sniper team on a drug and human traffiking trade that had been rampant in the port city. They had eavesdropping around the exchange and place tracking beacons on the dealer's and client's vehicles. Cassius Boateng was heading the sniper team while Brendan Surrey gave orders from his command center.
"How's their gig going?" Havok asked, nonchalantly.
"Aside from the typical freighter chatter, he noted that a large warship was spotted in the area."
The nearest US Navy port was in Everett and Navy traffic rarely ever traveled near the shipping lanes.
"Could he identify the class?"
"Yeah, it was an Iowa-class battleship."
"You're saying that we are being asked to go after whoever stole the Iowa?"
"This isn't bullshitting." Actual replied with calm ever-present in his voice. "We don't like it if someone has stolen the most powerful ship ever built."
"I'm sorry." Havok shook his head. "It doesn't add up how and why it was stolen overnight at full watch. Someone wants to do something catastrophic."
Actual paused chatting faintly to someone. "I have to go." He said breathlessly. "Vice President's meeting with the Navy needs to be scheduled." Before Havok could reply, he hung up.
At dinner, Havok excused himself from the table and approached Schrader, who held a notepad in his hand. He had dark circles under his eyes and a stain of Monster energy drink on his shirt.
"You've looked better."
"I've felt better too." He replied, mustering a grin. "Anyway, I monitored Iowa's radio chatter and it's remained silent ever since it began movement. The Navy's already tracked it down West of Panama sending an entire battlegroup."
"They are taking it a bit too seriously."
Schrader's eyes rolled. "The ship left port armed with twenty four HE shells."
"Done." The armorer said in the firing range. Havok pulled out the empty magazine of the M4A1 and slapped a new one inside.
"Alright." The armorer said, pushing another button and making a dummy move behind walls. The Defiant's armory included a small firing range at the back of the ship and had its shooters face away. It was risky putting it in because even weakened bullets could easily penetrate the ship's hull. With help from a few archtects that Havok wasn't allowed to say, they had a three lane range across the way from the armory. Even if they were professional bounty hunters, they still needed supervision by the armorer or Crespo. A computer could be programmed for easy targets using a traditional military formation, or Chinese commando movements. Time in the armory could prepare anyone for any situation.
Then there was the small arms. While Havok kept four Kiparis submachine guns in his weapon locker. The armory held over 20 different assault rifles, 15 different submachine guns and several sniper rifles. There were light machine guns and handguns as well with rockets and their respective launchers kept behind a bulletproof door. The modifications for the weapons were in another room with optics, suppressors, grenade launchers, even a flamethrower for the AK-47.
Havok had been practicing for their next mission. Using just a standard M4A1 kept him on edge if his other precision Red Dot failed. Everyone on the ship was entitled to each their own weapon preference. In his opinion, Havok hated the M4A1's heat buildup. The vents would cook the hair right off his wrists. It wasn't his favorite weapon, although on the bright side, he enjoyed its stopping power, good accuracy and manageable recoil.
SILO's next mission was in northern Egypt. The government had been trying to root out a notorious terrorist involved in the recent riots in Cairo. Unlike most nonlethal missions, this one was to annihilate him and anyone who fought by his side. He was responsible for a hostage crisis in the Nile and almost destroying the Giza pyramid.
The plan was to meet up with SILO's Canadair Regional Jet 700 at Los Angeles International Airport and fly to Cairo. Once there, they would watch the guard post at his hideout near Mt. Sinai.
"Estimated arrival time to Los Angeles is four hours." The intercom spoke with Larssen. "Bravo Team, make final preparations and report to helo platform A for LAX."
Havok hit the seat of the corporate CRJ-200. With Drew "Wraith" Barnett smirking they had been rerouted through security. It is pure shock during the event when one of the guards removed an M4A1 and the pieces in side pockets of the crew's blue duffel bags. On high alert, the police surrounded Havok and his crew only for the SILO Commander to flash his CIA badge. It was an older model, but the embarrassed police waved them through, not even bothering to check the other bags. He had been exhausted the whole way and practically crashed into the seat.
Wraith had been a pilot for the Air Force on one of their AC-130s. Havok met him in a bar and saved him from a drunk gunman that night. Wraith was intrigued by the organization and since they were short on airplane pilots, he fit right in.
He eased the CRJ into the sky and they cruised at a higher altitude. He smirked as it passed a gray passenger Boeing 767 jet in the sky.
SILO had three corporate regional jets or CRJs for short. They were positioned around the world and pilots were ready to file a flight plan at a moment's notice. Pyra was negotiating with Delta Airlines to obtain a possible fourth one. SILO-88 was the one they were aboard. The other two registration numbers were SILO-73 and SILO-29.
Upon purchase, the team took them into hangars where they spent months going through a radical refit. When it was revealed, it looked exactly the same as it did when it entered the same building. The interior and functions were completely changed. The only sign on the exterior that it had changed was the deployable ramp at the rear end.
First was the engines, the older model was taken off and sold. A pair of XCF-2.0 engines were now installed. Using less fuel to go faster made the jet nearly as fast as a MIG, a trait that only Air Force One surpasses. However, the engines had cost more than what SILO paid for the jet itself and required Havok's, Pyra's and Lee's bonuses. Due to the expense, only two of the three are outfitted with XCF-2.0s. The third had newer engines of the same model that came with the aircraft. SILO also installed a changeable paint scheme. They had signed contracts with the airline they had purchased the jets from so that their aircraft could assume the identity of its former operator while under SILO's control. This holographic skin allowed the pilot to change between the airline livery and a black coat with red stripes on the bottom of the hull, applied after purchase.
These aircraft were not to be underestimated in the interior, as there were comfortable seats and meals prepared as the crew arrived. Havok even occupied a seat with a massage mechanism on it.
The jets were also upgraded to perform in combat missions. Although rarely used, it sported twin modified M240B light machine guns at the sides where the wings met the hull. Sets of flares were stored in the front and her missile launcher had a door system, similar to the F-22's that carried eight Sparrow missiles.
"This is your pilot, we will be arriving in Cairo in approximately one hour." Upon hearing this, Havok got up, rolling his shoulders from the massage. He opened the duffel bag, beginning to assemble the M4A1. To keep those pesky LA police at bay, he had the weapons disassembled and ammunition shipped to the jet the day before. There was not much modifications he had to do, so he worked quickly and quietly, to not disturb the others sleeping or relaxing. Havok screwed a suppressor onto the barrel and slapped a red dot precision sight on the railing. Inserting a clip, he pulled the charging handle with a loud clack.
"You better make sure you have the safety on that gun." Wraith snickered on the intercom. Havok let out an annoyed grunt in return, thumbing the dial sideways.
Gunfire erupted from the cave below as Havok and his team lay prone on the dunes overlooking a shabby cavelike hideout. Being twitchy criminals, they had struck just as one of their fishing boats returned from the daily catch. With the sea in reflection, the team had approached so that it glared, hindering them slightly. Already when gunmen exited, they were taken down with precision from the four operatives led by Havok himself.
The enemies were poorly armed, sporting AK-47's that looked as if they had no more room for dents and scratches. RPD mounts were on the ground where their dead gunners lay at the mouth of the entrance. They were sand encrusted, almost as if any moment they would explode because a bullet exited the wrong way.
What they didn't know was how far the base went down. They found out rather quickly when an armored top down car drove out and fired upon the team. Havok yelled as he moved to be covered by Tyler Lee. He shifted over to the right. He primed a laser on his M4A1 and set the hair thin dot on the outside of the armored car. The gunner had not even noticed how close to death he was.
"Wraith 88," It was the callsign for the Corporate Jet 88, giving the main pilot's nickname and number of the aircraft. "We've got an armored car, fifty meters east down a few feet. Sparrow launch authorized at my mark."
"Roger that." Wraith replied, "On site in thirty seconds."
Lee had shifted a little to the right as the gundogs Robert Mainhart and Fredrich "Outlaw" Lavigne took out the driver, rendering the car immobile.
"Cover your ears." Barnett said moments before a white streak came from above and impacted the car. A tremendous explosion engulfed several gunmen around it. The blast deafened the team and they got up as smoke began to climb into the sky.
Havok pressed his COM to his ear, "Wraith 88, stand by. We might need fire support again."
"Alright." Havok turned to his team. "Coast is clear. I didn't get a positive ID on the target, so we'll have to flush him out. Lavigne, stay on overwatch and warn us if anyone shows up."
Lavigne silently copied and started climbing the dune to his post.
Havok cocked his head to the entrance and the three men silently approached the roof. With a swish of his hand, Havok signaled Mainhart to hang back and fire upon any threats.
The entrance had little of anything. Crates were stacked with tire markings coming from a gap between. Lee suggested that was where the armored car was parked. There was plenty of sand for sure. Havok swore he would never look at a beach the same, except maybe for women.
All three men wore Whisper boots, allowing best fit while producing nearly soundless footsteps. They took shallow breaths and let their ears percieve anything. Upon getting to the darker points, they flipped on night vision lenses and kept going.
"I find it impossible to how these guys navigate." Mainhart commented.
"Maybe they go blowtorch style?" Vic smirked, "If it's just a dead end, then I think we go another way. Down."
They found footprints leading to a patch of sand where Lee began brushing away with his foot. They opened the groaning door and instantly heard panicked Arabic down the shaft. Mainhart was about to start descending when familiar words immediately alerted the SILO commander.
The explosion followed and orange fire rushed out of the hole, illuminating the entire cave temporarily. Havok was thrown off his feet as more thumps shook the cave.
"Outlaw! The target tried to suicide bomb us! Get assistance, this cave is collapsing!"
"My eyes are tricking me! I swear?" Lavigne's Arizona accent came through the radio as shock. "There's a US battleship shelling the compound!"
Havok's heart stopped as he sprinted to the exit. Large boulders began falling down at the mouth. Lee and Mainhart were a distance in front and made it out unharmed save for Lee who was hit in the arm by a computer sized rock. Havok slid underneath, losing grip on his weapon and reached out to grab it just in time as the lethal weight settled and the rock wall formed.
Bullets peppered the sand around them as they saw a half dozen soldiers behind some outreached boulders. Immediately, the three took cover behind the cave.
Lavigne fired fully automatic, but the silencer kept the bullets from going far enough. The kicking rounds struck the sand in front, allowing the gunmen to return fire. Even from a distance, Havok easily identified the weapons as Heckler and Koch 416s. Even weaponry could display that these were no rank amateurs.
BB-61 loomed in the distance like a phantom. Even more ominous were the three long barrels pointed in their direction.
Iowa was one of the largest vessels to sail the world's oceans. Commissioned just about a year after US entry into World War II. She was unique, being a "fast battleship" having speeds compared to those of destroyers and corvettes. Combined with 12 inches of armor and 9 sixteen inch guns with several anti ship cannons and antiaircraft batteries, she was the symbol of US naval firepower. Along with sister ships Wisconsin, New Jersey and Missouri, all four were preserved, three being museum ships and Iowa herself going to the reserve fleet. She was also the only ship to ever have a bathtub, transporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was incapable of walking.
At the bridge of the ship a man stood, his face obscured by sunglasses. He had on a black beret and his expressionless face was only defined by a thin salt mustache. Next to him stood a man with the uniform of ship's commander.
"It's an impressive ship. You have my vote on it being back in the Navy. With the Task Force almost in place, we will almost be on schedule to begin the operation."
The commander laughed slightly, "Well sir, she is only the finest battleship the Navy could ever ask for. One would think that the greatest battle of all time, Yamato and Iowa!"
The shades man ignored the commander's fantasies and addressed a sailor that was waiting to speak with both. "We have signals from Sulfur 8-6 that they have unidentified contacts engaging our target. Says they're mercs."
The man grumbled, mercs. Slang for mercenaries, always got in his way and then the Pentagon got on his ass for not getting the job done. It wasn't supposed to be like that. The US always won their battles and needed to be the most superior military the world has ever seen. Recent events like disastrous defeats in the Middle East and the nuke when attempting to capture Khaled Al-Asad made him a stone cold man. He sighed, brushing aside the days when he fought alongside his own men as a major. The US military was criticized for being weak and blind with ambition. However, ambition was what the military was about.
"Tell Sulfur 8-6 to engage and kill the mercs. We'll just report to command that we did the job ourselves."
"Sulfue 8-6 here! We're engaging! Shit! Spitz is down! When in the hell did somebody get an armed jet?"
The man gritted his teeth. "Did you just say an armed jet?"
"Yes sir!" Sulfur 8-6 was out of breath and gunfire from the men's weapons chattered in the background along with a greande explosion. "It was a Bombardier Regional that strafed this area and killed Spitz! Requesting SAMs on grid Golf 7!"
The man strode across the bridge. "Get me a feed on the Predator!"
The screen at one of the stations displayed white hot thermal signatures from the orbiting drone. Six strobe signals indcated Sulfur 8-6 and his men. There were four red boxes that displayed four mercenaries labeled hostile. A shadow of a jet was over the sand and hot gunfire slapped the ground and one of the men fell over, killed by the strafing run. Seconds later, a missile warning came on the screen and a streak came somewhere off to the south. The display turned to fuzz afterwards.
"Damn it! Bring the view back up!" The man balled his hands on a revolver holstered. "Prepare SAMs for strike Lima 38 on Golf 7!"
"You're not in command of my ship!" The captain snapped back. His response was to draw his revolver and point it at the commander. "You will do as I say."
The commander was unfazed, "Shoot me, it's not even loaded."
The man pulled out a circle of six bullets and inserted them into the Magnum. He aimed the pistol again. "I don't want to kill you. My job is to find and eliminate a secret terrorist cell. I have authorization from the top brass to do anything I require to get to the cell and eliminate it. Your battleship is included, no matter how historic. Those mercs stand in my way and I'm known for destroying anything that even dares to cross me. You're making your way there."
Seeing the seriousness behind his expression, the commander hastily backed away. He returned to his post and began shouting orders. One of the SAM sites locked onto the CRJ pulling away from the site.
"We have a lock on the rogue aircraft." The weapons officer confirmed. A faint smile spread on his mouth.
The alarm screamed in the console and warning beeps did not make Wraith sweat at all.
"Flares." He told his copilot who was already reaching for a button. "Flares away."
The CRJ opened a small flap at the top its tail and released four bright green bolts. The missile homed in on the flares and it exploded several hundred feet behind the jet harmlessly.
"Quickly, get out of range!" The CRJ ascended before another missile could obtain another lock.
"Sorry boss." Wraith told Havok. "Might want to send a helo instead for extraction. Did you find anything by the way?"
Havok's voice sharply came back, "We got the guy, but nothing behind his crimes. I'm afraid we'll have to call it quits. Get back to the airport and change the painting. Bonus for you."
Wraith smiled, Havok delighted in handing out bonuses for those that took matters in their own hands and were willing to go over the top.
"The aircraft has flares!" One of the men at the bridge exclaimed. Both the commander and the other man were aghast.
"These are no ordinary mercs." He muttered. "Ready another one!" The weapons officer shook his head.
"It's out of range sir."
"Can we get a fighter squadron to take it out?" He asked the commander. "The Gerald Ford is nearby."
"It's possible, but her captain will want a legitimate reasoning, plus even with the 18's speed, they would take twenty minutes to arrive and the rogue jet would be long gone."
"Keep me updated." The man holstered his weapon and strode onto the deck, ignoring the deckhand's eyes. The sun shone brightly and heat waves rippled across the ship despite the medium speed winds. He enjoyed their puzzled look, as they wern't supposed to know why he was here. His cell phone rang and he picked it up.
"He is not located." The person on the other line said.
"Then he is not dead."
The other man paused, "He is a dangerous man. Capturing him alive is like trying to cross a minefield on a pogo stick."
"Enough with the damn jokes Major. As soon as you get me a lead, I want it sent to my Inbox."
"Yes Gold Eagle." The line severed and he replaced his phone with a radio.
"Oxide, reinforce Sulfur with Disciple Six and Stallion Ten. Avatar One, move into overwatch and arm Hellfires. The mercs are going to try another form of evac. Stallion Ten, get Stingers before you move out and Warhorse Five-One prepare for exfil."
"I'm on my way Gold Eagle." The pilot drawled.
Gold Eagle made sure his Magnum was loaded by the time the Pave Low arrived at the rendezvous with his Zodiac. He was lost in a fantasy of his own as he visualized the Iowa leading a naval charge between the US and all who oppose it.
"Commander, it's Finn. I'm inbound with a Ranger and will arrive in ten mikes."
Havok breathed a sigh of relief as his helo pilot came on the radio. Pyra had finally woken up and said the general solution. "Let me guess. The old man?"
"Nope." Finn chuckled, "Roush came up with the idea. Hang in there."
There was no gunfire and the team took the time to quickly move. All of them agreed that their opponent had retreated likely gathering backup. Their belief was becoming true as they heard heavy rotors.
"Pave Low." Outlaw quipped as the familiar Sikorsky helicopter approached from the North. The team quickly scrambled up the hill and donned sand ghillie suits to blend in with the desert terrain. They didn't bring thermal masking suits, so Havok had to play his luck. It seemed to play out as the Pave Low and its twin Little Bird escorts headed to the smoking cave.
After they had trekked through the desert for a mile, Havok found a dune high enough for the JetRanger to land. He lit the smoke grenade and the yellow color rose into the clear sky. A minute later, rotors were heard as the JetRanger landed and the team climbed on with Tyler Lee covering the sides for a possible scouting party.
"Be advised." Havok told Rodriguez, "We saw a Pave Low and Littlebirds near the target site."
"We have to go through to get home." Rodriguez sounded worried. "I have little fuel trying to avoid the battleship."
Havok sighed, turning to his men.
"Load up your weapons. This is going to be a tight journey."
An hour of flying took them to the coast where Havok spotted groups of similar clad soldiers that had recently attacked them during their mission. The Pave Low was also parked on the beach and a SAM turret was being set up. The noise of the helicopter was unable to escape their hearing as a pair of soldiers pointed and immediately fired. Finn dipped the helicopter down as rounds harmlessly scythed through the air. Havok and Mainhart leaned out the window and each fired a quick burst from their silenced weapons. They saw one of the gunmen fall, clutching his arms as the others rushed to him. One however, was making his way to the SAM. Mainhart was quick to sight him in and missed his shots, due to both him and the soldier moving rapidly. He let out a full auto, finally placing a round in his opponent's eyes. Thankfully, the SAM wasn't online yet and if it was, they would need to be out of range.
"Wepps this is Havok! Let loose a Death Machine to our East!"
"Roger." Luke Riley's response came on, almost as quickly a solid white stream of nearly six thousand rounds rippled the sand. The SILO commander smiled as the gunfire stopped and he saw the SAM ripped to pieces.
"We're home free." Finn told the crew, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief. Havok was interrupted by a radar ping and the sound of a Little Bird approaching with a spooled up minigun.
The buzzing sound filled the air as the Little Bird began strafing the JetRanger. Finn banked sharply to the right as the rounds tore through the air. The motion sent Havok to the other end of the helo and his head hurt from the unexpected blow. Lavigne cover fired as Lee came to his aid. He pulled back Havok's eye which only showed whites.
"I'm out!" Lavigne shouted over the rotors as his rifle's bolt failed to fire. He opened the empty magazine and placed the weapon down.
They were hopelessly outgunned and Defiant was out of range for support. They could still hit the Little Bird with a missile, but risked hitting the JetRanger as well, since both were flying within several thousand feet of each other. The JetRanger had very thin skin which was light and durable against crashing. Versus, bullets, it fared less favorably.
Bullets impacted the helicopter, making it sound like a full on hailstorm. Rodriguez rapidly toggled his controls and banged his fist on the dashboard when they starting blaring and flashing red.
"Shit, they got the rotor! Hang on!"
The JetRanger's rotor coughed, but remained airborne. It was a miracle they were not spinning out of control, but Rodriguez had little control over its movements. It accelerated towards the Little Bird, ignoring the shots from the men inside and screeched from impact of metal upon metal. Sparks flew everywhere and both crews were too stunned to react to the other's presence.
Finally SILO reacted first. Finn slashed his seatbelt and removed his holstered pistol to shoot one of the men. The victim let out a scream and toppled over. With no ammo, Lavigne swung his empty M4 into the skull of a second man, catching his Heckler and Koch UMP to eliminate the rest of the crew.
"Now's our chance!" He shouted the rest. They all knew what he was talking about. Mainhart tossed Havok's body in the Little Bird and helped the rest of the crew in. Rodriguez hesitated abandoning his helo, but still strapped himself inside the Little Bird. The cockput glass had bullet holes scattered in it, but surprisingly, the rotor was intact and still flyable. Taking a second to familiarize himself with the controls, he broke connection with the JetRanger, sending the heavily damaged helicopter spiraling down towards the waves below.
"We made it." Mainhart finally spoke after a few minutes of flying. The crew was completely exhausted and just ready for a resting session.
It took a full hour to avoid the battleship and another half to set down on the Defiant. Not a word was spoken until Finn powered off the engine. Lee grinned, "That was a little too close."
Then he passed out.
"You're saying that you were attacked by an Iowa class battleship?"
Havok nodded, not even fazed by Actual's surprise and outrage. "Indeed. We still do not know who is in control, but they eliminated the JetRanger and fired first."
There was a pause as Actual took a deep breath, "The President is furious and battle groups are on interception. Good work Commander, at least you got out alive."
"We lost our JetRanger." Rodriguez quipped beside him. Havok just looked at him and grinned.
"Time to go shopping for something new."
The basketball sailed through the air through the hoop. Tyler Lee grimaced as Havok smiled and remained in his pose that he launched the final goal. Lee and his team shook hands with Havok's. His cell phone rang and he picked it up, moving off to talk.
"So what exactly did Actual say about the Iowa?" Pyra asked, cradling the basketball in his arm.
Roush chuckled, "It was under trials for reservice because Russian ship Kirov would be hazardous if we went head to head. So a group called Shadow Company protected it while it conducted its operations. That was the group that we tangled with."
"Hey! Rodriguez!" Havok yelled over to the helicopter pilot. "Gift from SILO, for saving our asses back there!"
Finn and the others looked to the helipad where a black helicopter was making its way to the pad. They didn't need to search for the manufacturer logo to know that it was a Kamov. It had two small wings armed with missiles and rocket pods. A small chin mounted gun was on the nose. It touched down on the helipad.
"I present-" Havok began.
Rodriguez shook his head, "I know what that helo is."
"Are we taking it for a spin?" Pyra asked as he exited the cockpit.
Havok looked at his iPad, "We just got our next mission."
Victor Havok- Commander of SILO (My Wunderwaffle iz missin)
Rex Pyra- Subcommander (My Winter's Howl iz missin)
Brendan Surrey- Commander of Indomitable (My Wunderwaffle iz missin)
Alexis Roush- Vice President of SILO (My Winter's Howl iz missin)
Tyler Lee- Principal Operations Director (EternalBlaze)
Yngwie Larssen- Helmsman (Gloryman3)
Tyler VanGuilder- Electronics Manager (Alex Martin Rider)
Luke Riley- Ship Weapons Manager (My Winter's Howl iz missin)
Thomas "Fi" Fixer- Medic (EternalBlaze)
Heinrich von Schrader- Communications (Gloryman3)
Francois Chareux- Head Chef (My Wunderwaffle iz missin)
Taylor Crespo- Head of Special Operations and leader of "gundogs" (My Wunderwaffle iz missin)
Destiny Smith- Gundog (BBP09)
Fredrich "Outlaw" Lavigne - Gundog (Unknown)
Robert Mainhart- Gundog (MerchantofDeath)
Cassius Boateng- Gundog (Gloryman3)
Drew "Wraith" Barnett - SILO-88 pilot (My Winter's Howl iz missin)
Actual- Havok's ex-CIA commander and main client for SILO (My Wunderwaffle iz missin)