Chapter 28

October 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm (The Job)

Leland finally exited his room at a quarter to eleven. He headed straight for the dining room to scrounge up an early lunch, but ran into Ingram in the hall. Ingram motioned him outside, where they could talk freely. He brought Leland up to speed on Donovan and everything else that was happening in the jungle.

“So those gorillas could do our job for us,” Leland said.

“It’s possible, but I don’t want to count on that. We should try and get the vote started early.”

“How are we supposed to do that?”

“I don’t know, you think of something.” Ingram was annoyed enough to bark at Leland for being so weak-kneed. He’d shown a brief spark of intuition hiring Simon to follow Parker, but it hadn’t made a damn bit of difference in the end. Simon had double-crossed them and helped her instead of killing her. Now he was helping Donovan get through that fucking battle zone.

And Leland was practically quaking in his boots at the idea of Donovan surviving. It was enough to make Ingram consider quitting the agency and leaving the island immediately. The only thing that stayed his hand was his belief that they still held the upper hand. He had twenty men on the cliff top focused on the only entrance point. If Donovan made it this far, he’d be slaughtered the minute that elevator door opened.

“I can talk to our host, but he seems to follow a pretty strict schedule,” Leland said. “Unless I had a really good reason for the request, I doubt he’d change the time.”

“If we’re all awake now, what difference does it make to have the vote now or in two hours?” Ingram demanded.  “Have it now, get it over with and then everyone can go back to having a good time. I’m sure those girls are still around here somewhere.”

Leland brightened at the idea that they could have another party like the previous evening. He’d chickened out on trying a couple of things that he was wishing now he’d tried. Still, he’d had one hell of a wild night. If convincing their host to move the vote schedule up could bring on the party, he’d do it.

“Do you know where Leinster is?” Leland asked.

“No, I haven’t seen him yet this morning and I have no idea where his suite is.”

“I need to get some breakfast and then I’ll see about finding him. What are you going to do if Donovan gets up here?”

“He won’t get past my men.”

Ingram’s confidence in his men’s ability was stronger than Leland’s was. He had men down on the island and yet Donovan still roamed free. “Can we do anything to distract them long enough for the vote to happen, if I can’t get Leinster to speed it up?”

“What more do you think we can throw at them?” Ingram demanded. “There are giant gorillas and giant crocodiles and God only knows what other giant beasts are down there. What do you suggest?”

“Petrillo? Can he be used as bait?”

“He would only be bait for Parker and maybe Simon. Donovan would still head this way. It’s his mission in life to fuck over our plans. And what would you have me do, dangle him under a chopper and drop him into the middle of the jungle?”

“Could you do that?” Leland asked.

Ingram bit back the angry retort and gave the idea some thought. Even if it only distracted Parker and Simon, it might give Graff’s men the chance they needed to kill Donovan. It was worth a second look.

“I’ll think about it. You just focus on getting Leinster to cooperate.”

***

Leinster practically had his nose pressed to the screens in his office. There were several cameras inside the gorilla village. It paid to keep an eye on the beasts. To know how their numbers were growing; to see if they were getting overpopulated or taking over too large a portion of the island. Several times, Leinster had ordered his men to cull the herd, as it were. It was never difficult to lure a small pack of gorillas to the edge of the island where a large and heavily armed force was waiting for them. If none made it back to the village alive, then none could ‘report’ what happened. The bodies were removed by his men and sent to his lab for testing. Often, his scientists wanted live specimens, so Leinster’s men would have to tranquilize as many of them as they could safely manage. Wagner wasn’t the only man on the board who headed up a multinational pharmaceutical company.

Leinster could see Donovan’s team working around the boulder in front of the prisoner’s pen. He watched as Parker took the rest of the soldiers and headed around to the far side of the village. He could assume what they were going to do, but decided to watch instead. He was a little worried that they would take out the entire village, but gorillas were easy to replace.

As he waited for Parker’s team to get into place, he flipped over to the camera that had recorded Ingram’s conversation with Leland. He could see Leland now, heading for the dining room and his first meal of the day. Reviewing the digital file, he decided that the best way to prevent Leland’s awkward attempts to convince him to bump up the time schedule was to avoid running into Leland altogether. He would have to begin preparations for the vote soon enough.

None of the other men cared about the time schedule. They were all enjoying the beautiful weather. Some lounged in the hot tubs. Others had chosen to lie in the sun and roast their bodies. Some of the ladies from the previous evening were in residence to assist the men in any way they desired. He thought it a little tacky for the board members to be carrying on so publicly, but it was what they preferred. Leinster never stuck around the parties once his host duties were seen to. He brought the women in and he left. He wasn’t a prude, nor was he particularly faithful to his wife of thirty years. He simply preferred to take his pleasures in private.

Leinster decided that he could spend another hour watching Parker’s team in the jungle before he’d have to start the vote proceedings. It would provide a certain amount of entertainment while killing some time. He didn’t mind the side benefit of watching Ingram and Leland squirm. If he was a betting man, and he definitely was, Leinster would bet the farm on Parker getting Donovan to the meeting on time. If they made it through the jungle safely, there were a couple of things he could do to assist them in their ascent to the cliff top.

With that thought in mind, he picked up the phone and called his head of security.

***

The calm was starting to spook him. Graff and the others had gathered up the wounded, made litters for each man who couldn’t be hauled over a shoulder and continued on their path toward the electrified fence. Graff’s shoulder wound prohibited him from carrying a man, but he had little difficulty dragging Hager on his litter. The only troublesome part was the overall fatigue growing in him. And he knew the others were feeling it, too.

Their pace had slowed the further they’d walked through the sand. The sun beat down on them, robbing them of precious moisture. They didn’t have enough water to replenish it. He cast a bitter eye toward the crashing surf. The water looked so inviting, so refreshing. It would be deadly to dip in there and take a few gulps. But it continued to mock them with each crash upon the shore.

Graff kept half his attention on the man in front of him and the other half on the jungle beside him. The apes had appeared out of nowhere, the blackness shrouding them in its depths. They could be there right now, watching him as he tried to search for them. Apes were thinkers, just as humans were. The apes that had returned to the village might decide to take another swipe at them. They understood prey. They knew when theirs was wounded and suffering.

Graff tapped the code into the radio and switched over to the private channel. He knew that the rest of his team would be listening, but he needed to talk to Ingram. He didn’t hold out much hope that they’d make it the next five miles without dying of exhaustion or getting set upon by gorillas again.

“Ingram, we’re going to need assistance with the wounded.”

“Why?” Ingram demanded. He moved outside to avoid being overheard.

“We’re each hauling a wounded soldier and we’ve run out of drinking water. It’s very slow going and we’re getting tired. Can you send a few men down to assist us?”

“I’m not sending any of the men from the cliff down there. I need them up here in case Donovan makes it through the jungle.”

“We don’t need many,” Graff argued. “Just a few men to give us a reprieve.”

“The answer is no. If you want a reprieve, dump the men where they are and carry on.”

Graff was astounded at the suggestion. Even he, with the cowardice that ran through him, wouldn’t think to leave a man behind. It was akin to asking a soldier to shoot himself with his own gun. You were more likely to get yourself shot for the suggestion.

“We’re not leaving them behind,” Graff stated firmly. “We need assistance.”

“And I needed you to take care of Donovan. In fact, I believe that was the only job I asked you to do. Has that job been completed yet?”

“No, Donovan is still alive.”

“And why the fuck is that?” Ingram yelled into the radio, making the men around him cringe and adjust their ear pieces.

“We haven’t had the opportunity, sir,” Graff said, stiffly.

“Fuck that! You’ve had countless opportunities! How many of my men are with him right now?”

“There are three men on that team and the rest are with me.” Graff refused to call them Ingram’s men.

“Three men and not a single one has had a shot on him yet? I don’t fucking believe it,” Ingram muttered. He paced back and forth in front of the house’s main door, unaware of the growing annoyance in the men guarding the cliff. “What are they doing down there?” he demanded of Graff.

“Sir, they’re attempting to get the prisoners out of the cage in the gorilla village. They can’t shoot Donovan. It will ruin their advantage.” Graff couldn’t believe how little Ingram knew about tactics.

“They’re wasting time on those fucking prisoners. Who told them to go after them anyway?”

“That was my call, sir,” Graff admitted, though in truth it was Caputo taking the decision out of his hands.

“It was a stupid call. The only thing that concerns me is Donovan. I want him dead and I want it done now, do you understand me? If Donovan makes it up to this cliff top, you can all find new jobs.” Ingram disconnected his ear piece and strode through the front door.

Graff didn’t know what to say to get his men to comply with Ingram’s order. Threatening their jobs had been a stupid move to make, but it was done and now it fell to Graff to deal with the repercussions. And they were quick to come in.

“Why the fuck should I risk my neck for him?” Billis whispered. He didn’t need Parker, or anyone else for that matter, overhearing this conversation. “I take that shot and the whole village will descend upon us. We’ll get slaughtered.”

“I think that’s the idea,” Kern whispered. “Ingram doesn’t care who dies, as long as Donovan is one of them.”

“It’s bullshit,” Billis muttered, “but I need this job.”

“I do, too,” Kern admitted. “I can’t believe they would put that asshole in a position of power, man. He has no skills for Ops.”

“He’s not Ops,” Graff reminded them. “Jack Tunn is head of Ops and he knows nothing of this.”

“Well, maybe someone should fucking call him and fill the man in,” Kern suggested.

Graff rather liked that idea. It would serve Ingram right if Tunn came and took control of this Op. But he wondered if Tunn wanted Donovan dead, too. That would put his men right back where they’d started from. And what could Jack Tunn do from stateside?

No, they’d have to address the issue on their own. But he did wonder what would happen if Donovan made it not only to the cliff top, but to the meeting as well. With him in charge, he could overrule any decisions that Ingram made about their employment. And with his men assisting Donovan instead of hindering him, Donovan might feel obligated to side with them against Ingram.

The longer he thought about the idea, the more Graff liked it. It just made sense to him. If it backfired and Donovan didn’t take their side, they’d lose their jobs anyway. He didn’t see that they had much else to lose.

“Ok, guys, listen up,” Graff began and then laid out his idea for them to think about.

***

Billis wasn’t sure about Graff’s plan, but it seemed better than the bullshit that Ingram was spouting. It was bad for morale to hear your leader say that you were, essentially, expendable. Every soldier knows it on some level, but to hear it said so plainly? Billis didn’t care for that at all. It was fine by him if they altered their directive and assisted Donovan to the meeting instead.

He and Kern were hunkered down in the brush, their attention focused on the village. Parker had given Kern the RPG and told him to aim for the largest pack of gorillas. Once the first RPG detonated it would be a madhouse in there. She suggested he use the RPGs sparingly, since they only had a half dozen of them. Everyone else had several grenades apiece and orders to add to the mayhem. They awaited the OK from Caputo.

Caputo chose to put the C4 at the base of the boulder, nearest the cage. If the explosives didn’t destroy the boulder entirely, he wanted the area nearest the door to the pen to be effected. He considered the damage that the pen would take and decided it would be minimal. The door itself wasn’t locked, so they didn’t have to worry that any warped steel would jam it. If the steel warped, it would likely provide an opening for them to squeeze through.

He conferred with Hinckley who was their other demolitions expert. Both agreed that the amount of C4 would not bother the men in the cage if they moved to the very back corner before the blast. Caputo had placed the bomb close to the ground. If nothing else, he hoped that the explosion would move the rock away from the pen.

Caputo motioned everyone a safe distance from the bomb. Hinckley ushered his pen mates into the back corner where they huddled as close together as possible. He was about to signal Parker’s team when her voice whispered in his ear.

“We’ve got movement heading your way. Looks like three gorillas coming to check out the pen.”

“Roger that,” Caputo replied. “The bomb is ready. Everyone has moved to a safe distance. The RPG?”

“Ready, man,” Kern replied.

“Let ‘er rip on my mark.” Caputo counted down from three. “Mark,” he called out and pressed the button on his detonator.

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