Chapter 30

October 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm (The Job)

The explosion rumbled through the ground. The sound of the blast almost blocked out the tremendous cracking sound that split the rock. Caputo watched as a third of it came apart from the whole. The larger half rolled over, out of the way of the cage. The smaller section crashed against the door of the pen.

“Shit, let’s get that thing off there,” Simon called out. The three men put their backs against the rock and used the side of the pen as leverage to get it moving. Calved from the larger boulder, it wasn’t as heavy, but it still took all three of them to budge it.

Gunfire from within the pen heralded the arrival of the three gorillas. They came clamoring around the bend, faces contorted with rage. The prisoners took out one, but the other two gorillas bounded forward, unharmed. One pushed against the smaller section of rock, trying to crush the men beneath it. The other gorilla jumped up onto the larger half of the rock, prepared to leap at them.

Scrambling out from underneath, Simon brought his rifle around and shot the gorilla on the rock. He didn’t have a head shot. He loosed a volley of shots aimed at the gorilla’s knee and blew the cartilage to dust. As the ape crashed down, Simon nailed him with several more shots aimed at the head this time. The rock hitting his arm screwed with his aim, but the job was already done.

The remaining gorilla pushed the rock toward the men, trying to catch them under it again. Caputo egged the beast on, letting him move the rock far enough away to get the door open. Meanwhile Donovan crouched in front of the rock, walking forward as the gorilla pushed. At Caputo’s signal, Donovan stepped out from under the lip of the rock and opened fire on the gorilla. Combined with the assault from the prisoners, the gorilla was shredded where he stood.

On the other side of the village, as Caputo was pressing the detonator on his bomb, Kern let the RPG fly. There was a knot of gorillas fifty feet away and he targeted one that had its back to them. The RPG exploded on impact, roasting several of the gorillas on the spot. The concussive force of the blast threw the remaining gorillas backward ten yards. Flames caught fur. The acrid smell of burning hair soon filled the air.

Several grenades were tossed into smaller pockets of apes. A lone gorilla fell from a tree straight down to the ground after Parker shot it. She scanned the neighbouring trees for movement. Two more gorillas fell from the trees before some sort of signal was passed and the remaining gorillas turned to the south, staring straight at Parker and her team.

“Oh shit,” Kern whispered. “They fucking spotted us, man.”

“Look sharp people, here they come,” Parker called out. She stood tall and began firing at the roaring pack of apes as they charged forward. Palming one of her grenades, Parker judged the distance, waited an extra few seconds and then tossed it. Her timing had been dead on. The ground churned up and all but buried a few of the gorillas. Several were badly wounded. They tried to pull their bodies along, but made no headway. She fired several rounds and put them out of their misery.

“I got a group to the north of us,” Kern called into the radio. “I’m taking the shot.” Pulling the trigger, he launched the RPG.

The prisoners freed, Simon’s group headed across the village toward the eastern edge. Kern’s warning came in just as they were nearing the northern most point of the village. They ducked as the rocket shot past them and broke into a run to avoid the backlash.

The rocket struck the ground next to a group of female apes and their young ones. The explosion ripped the land apart and sent a fireball roaring back over the gorillas. The momentum from the rocket carried it ten feet beyond the edge of the village, digging a large trough into the dirt. Water immediately started trickling down the trough into the village. The trickle quickly turned into a gushing stream as the lake found new territory to claim.

Simon’s team had to cross the stream before they could continue heading for the east edge. The gorillas that had been in the path of the rocket had been obliterated or incinerated. The water had Simon thinking of a new threat and he turned toward the lake to confirm his suspicions. A crocodile came splashing down the trough into the village. Several more were right behind it.

Simon had just crossed the stream with Caputo when the crocs entered the village. Donovan, Hinckley and two of the other three prisoners moved quickly, but Preston wasn’t as lucky. The first crocodile started running the minute his slide ended and grabbed Preston’s leg in its massive jaws. Clamping down, the croc began shaking its head back and forth. Preston lost his balance and hit the ground. The croc, sensing victory, moved in for the kill.

Simon opened fire on the beast. The high-powered rounds had no trouble penetrating the tough exoskeleton and reaching the soft innards beneath. He walked closer, shooting near the crocs brain. He shot an eye out before the croc’s brain registered that it was dying. It tried to snap its jaws closed over Preston’s head, but only managed to grasp his arm as Preston blocked the move. The powerful jaws snapped his forearm before its body relaxed in death.

Screaming in agony, Preston tried to wrench his arm free. The excruciating pain was too intense and he blacked out. Simon gripped the upper jaw and pulled it open. Carefully, he removed Preston’s broken arm. Mule came over to see to Preston’s wounds. Another of the team’s junior medics, he was twelve hours of practical experience and one test away from getting his full status. If he lived through this mess, he promised himself that he’d have that status before he left on his next mission. And maybe he’d take some of those exotic upgrades that the agency offered. Who knew dealing with crocodile bites would be useful in the field?

Mule strapped Preston’s wounded leg to the other leg to keep it immobile. Using the barrel of Preston’s rifle as a splint, he carefully bound the broken arm to it. Mule strapped the rifle to Preston’s body so that it wouldn’t jostle the arm around. When he was finished he grabbed Preston by the armpits and started hauling him east. Caputo and the others had dealt with the remaining crocodiles. No others had come down the trough yet, but they weren’t going to wait around for new arrivals.

“We’re on the move, heading east,” Simon whispered over the radio.

“Roger that,” Parker responded. “We’re working our way to the rendezvous point.”

***

Leinster left his office and headed for the western meeting room. He had several tasks to see to before the other members of the board would present themselves for the vote. Leinster’s staff was efficient, as always, but he liked to confirm that all of the details were taken care of. A light meal would be served once everyone had taken their assigned seats. Leinster analyzed the table settings as intensely as a general did his troops in battle.

Name cards had been placed ahead of the side plates and Leinster confirmed that all names had indeed been spelled correctly. The room was spotless, the bar was fully stocked and his staff was awaiting orders to begin serving. Satisfied, Leinster took his seat at the head of the table and reviewed his notes for the presentation.

Leland didn’t want to be late for the meeting, but he also didn’t want to be the first to arrive. He had hoped to strike up a conversation with one of the other members just before they were called inside, but the men refused to be drawn in. An hour ago they were cavorting by the pool, openly having sex and striding around the deck area naked. Now they were properly dressed in business suits and looked as stuffy as old men could. They weren’t ignoring Leland. The men weren’t talking amongst themselves, either.

Leland was a little annoyed with Ingram. He’d promised to give an update on the situation in the jungle. When last he’d talked to Ingram, Donovan had still been very much alive. If that had changed, Leland wanted to know about it before he went into the meeting. It would give him a certain amount of comfort knowing that there was no way Donovan could screw with his plans to get on the board.

Leland couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the outcome of the vote. The few members who had put his name forward had told him to vote the way they wanted, which was to vote yes for expanding the agency’s agenda. Wagner, who had been a member of the board for twenty years before his untimely death at Parker’s hands, had been quite adamant in his determination to keep the agency’s current policies intact. Those views had sparked the plan to kill him and replace him with someone who could be convinced to vote a certain way. That person was not Donovan. His views were not known and he was not a man to be swayed. If he’d voted against, there would have been a two-year wait before the board could broach the subject again.

Leland had no trouble telling the board members who had approached him that he would vote yes if that’s what they wanted. All he cared about was getting in. Once he was in, he would be a part of the money circle. He’d sell his own mother to get into that circle, if she wasn’t already dead. He tried not to fidget as he waited for the clock to tick over to 1pm.

***

Graff could see the electrified fence and the gate just up ahead. The gate was closed, which meant the fence would be active. He would have to call from the gatehouse and request that the gate be opened for his men. He was about to send Bruner ahead to get it done when the bushes next to them exploded outward. Snarling with rage, the gorillas thundered toward them.

Inside the cliff, Jack Tunn received a phone call from his chief of security. “Tunn here.”

“Sir, the group heading up the beach has just been attacked by gorillas again. What would you like us to do?” There was an edge to Chief’s voice as he expected to be ordered to sit and watch the slaughter once again.

Jack looked at his watch. He knew Leinster’s wishes, but he also knew the man’s habits. It was 12:50 and Leinster would be cloistered in the meeting room, not to be disturbed for any but the direst of reasons. The meeting room was devoid of security TVs. If he disagreed with Jack’s orders, it would all be after the fact.

“Send a patrol out and bring those men in, Chief,” Jack ordered.

“Yes, sir.” Chief fired out orders left and right, gathered his men and left the cliff in less time than it took people to place an order at McDonalds. He had been monitoring the TVs since the previous evening and each time the gorillas had attacked, he’d itched to get out there and help. It was galling to sit back and watch those men take a beating for nothing. The weapons he had at his disposal had ensured that no security personnel had been killed in the five years he’d been stationed on the island.

The electrified fence was deactivated and the gate was opened. His team sprinted down the road and took the turn at the end to head for the battle on the beach. When they were within range, Chief ordered his grenadier to deploy the smoke bombs. Three loud blasts preceded the deployment of the bombs. As the canisters hit the ground around the combatants, the smoke quickly created a dense cloud too thick to see through.

Donning their protective masks, the soldiers tromped right into the middle of the smoke. Each man they came to, they hauled out of the smoke and fitted with an oxygen mask. They had to be quick about it. The smoke was not healthy for humans if exposed to it for any length of time. It wasn’t lethal for the gorillas, but it knocked them out for several hours, which usually served Chief’s purposes.

The gorillas, once again, had ignored the men who were either dead or seriously wounded. Their attack had centered on one man, the guy who had been leading the troop down the beach. Chief thought his name was Bruner. He’d watched the earlier attack where Bruner had evaded a gorilla in the water, headed back into the jungle to save a few other men and discovered one of the gorillas hunting techniques. Chief felt he was a fit warrior and would make a nice addition to his team, if Bruner was interested in a change.

Chief had requested a flatbed trailer be attached to an ATV to secure the wounded soldiers. It arrived with several guards hanging off the sides, flanking it from attack. Chief kept a watch on the edge of the jungle while the soldiers were transferred to the flatbed, wounded and non alike. The gorillas were left where they fell.

Once the ATV was underway, Chief ordered his men to follow at a distance. If the gorillas came again, they would go for the live bait. Chief shut the gate to the electrified fence. Once it auto-locked in place the circuit was closed and the fence could be electrified once again. Chief waited until all of his men had passed through the fence on the far side and moved into the cliff through a much wider entrance that allowed for the passage of the vehicle before calling for the fence to be amped up again.

In the containment room, the computer spent several minutes observing the wounded men. It informed Chief that several of the men were dead, which he already knew. He was relieved to note that none of those who had been alive before the last attack had since died. He requested a special assessment of Bruner, since they were there anyway. It would save the man the hassle later.

Chief approached Tunn as the rest of his team assisted the wounded onto gurneys that were transported to the infirmary. “Containment says we got there in time, sir.”

“Nice work, chief. Once your men get the wounded settled in the infirmary, send out another patrol. I want Donovan in here, alive.”

“Aye, sir,” Chief replied with a grin. It made his damn day getting to do his job as intended.

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