Matt was sitting behind his desk going
over the paperwork for the bar. It was a nightmare, how the hell
did he ever get into this mess in the first place. His left leg
was propped up on an open desk draw. The last mission had been
a killer. He'd twisted his ankle, tripping over a damn dog no
less and it still hurt like hell.
He groaned as a loud knock sounded on
the door. He debated on answering it. But the knocker entered
without an acknowledgement.
"Trout," Matt groaned.
"At least this time I knocked,"
the older man said smiling.
"You were suppose to wait until
I invited you in," Matt said huffily.
"I didn't think you were going
to," Trout smirked.
"I wasn't," Matt, murmured
"Now that you're in, what can I
do for you? But before you ask let me just say one thing - NO!!
What ever it is the answer is NO. Not only NO but HELL NO!! Three
lousy missions in a row, my team needs a break, and I'm going
to see that they get one."
"It's a simple delivery, Matt,
nothing strenuous, nothing sinister."
"No," Matt growled, "if
it's such a simple delivery, why don't you have your secretary
Matt jumped out of his chair wincing
as he landed wrong on his ankle. Limping from the room he slowly
negotiated the stairs to the ops room in the basement. Trout
followed, droning on about how easy and simple the new assignment
was going to be.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm being
hustled," Matt questioned?
"Matt," Trout said his expression
full of hurt indignation. " I wouldn't hustle you, couldn't
even if I tried."
Snorting in disgust Matt steps down
into the room. Seeing Benny Ray sitting at the table putting
his Glock 19 back together, Matt grins at the Sniper as the cloth
in his hand smoothly caressed the gleaming metal.
Looking up his eyes filled with amusement,
Benny Ray asks, "What's up boss, how's the ankle?
"Hurts," Matt mumbled, rolling
his eyes he points over his shoulders as Trout steps into the
room. Before Trout can even say a word Benny Ray gives him a
hard look and growls, "NO!!"
Throwing his hands up in disgust, Trout
sits on the couch watching the sniper clean his weapon.
"Coffee," Matt asks as he
limps into the kitchen.
"Small one for me Matt," Trout
Scowling at him Matt pours three cups,
placing Benny Rays on the table at his elbow. Handing Trout his,
Matt accidentally sloshes it over the side.
"Sorry," Matt says grinning.
"NO," they both yelled in
"You didn't even let me finish,
I'll throw in two weeks - all expenses paid to Rio - for your
Matt groaned, two weeks in Rio, would
be heaven. Benny Ray's hands stopped in mid stroke, his eyes
Knowing he had them now, Trout plunged
on, "I need someone to escort a young lady and her companion
back to Brazil. Her father is the Brazilian Ambassador to the
"Why doesn't the ambassador provide
her escort," Matt questioned?
"Food poisoning," Trout answered.
"Her regular guard came down with food poisoning yesterday
and the ambassador asked me if I could provide someone."
"What about the Secret Service,"
Benny Ray asked, "They could escort her."
"I tried," Trout grumbled,
"but every agent in the country has been assigned to the
economic summit in Montreal."
"Please Matt," Trout coaxed?"
Matt was tempted to say yes, two weeks
all expenses paid in Rio, but with a bum ankle he wasn't moving
too fast. Sitting beside him Benny Ray saw the indecision as
the Major glanced down at his ankle.
"I'll deliver your package Trout,"
Benny Ray growled.
"Wonderful Mr. Riddle, the plane
leaves in two hours,"
Raising his eyebrow, Benny Ray shoots
him a look of disgust.
Tossing the packet on the table Trout
hurries out of the room before he can change his mind.
Thumbing through the packet, Benny Ray
groans, "Fifteen," he mumbles sarcastically, "The
young lady and her companion are fifteen. I just signed up to
be a babysitter." A look of horror crossed his face as he
stares at the pictures. He shuddered when he thought about having
to spend the next 24 hours in the company of two giggling schoolgirls.
Looking at the sniper, Matt wanted to
burst out laughing, but he knew Benny Ray would deck him if he
He watches as Benny Ray starts throwing
things into his bag, mumbling the whole time. Pulling himself
together he snatches the packet off the table and stuffs it into
his pack. Looking up he catches the amusement in Matt's eyes
and grins sheepishly.
"Stay in touch, I want to hear
from you every six hours," Matt states.
"Roger that Sir! Meet you in Rio
day after tomorrow, Major," he states. "If I don't
kill a giggling teenager first," he mumbles beneath his
breath as he walks up the stairs.
Benny Ray went silent as he moved into
protective mode. He checked the plane and all it's compartments
for any items that looked out of place or didn't belong. So far
he had found nothing. The plane was clean. The pilot and steward
matched the dossiers in Trout's packet and they were already
onboard. The pilot was finished with his preliminary checks all
that was missing were the two girls.
The Lear Jet was built for both speed
and comfort. The dark blue metallic paint glowed in the sunlight.
The inside held a complete living suite. A small well stocked
kitchen sat across from the entry hatch. The center of the plane
was elegant and comfortable with mahogany woodwork and soft powder
blue overstuffed reclining chairs. The rear of the plane contained
a bathroom complete with shower and two small sleeping quarters,
everything money could buy.
Benny Ray was dressed casually in jeans
and a long sleeve gray cotton pullover. Dark sunglasses hid his
expressive eyes. He stood leaning against the fuselage his arms
crossed over his chest as the limo pulled up - forty-five minutes
Throwing open the door a tall, slim,
mahogany haired beauty steps out, behind her a shorter though
no less beautiful, blonde follows.
Benny Ray stood waiting as the duo came
toward him. Following them with his eyes he saw the belligerent
attitude written on the dark haired girls face, this was Carla
Santiago, the ambassador's daughter. If he hadn't read her dossier
he would have taken her for at least twenty with all the makeup.
Behind her stepped Dominique Douglas, Carla's long time friend,
companion and schoolmate. Though less lavish, Dominique's make-up
put her looks at eighteen or more. "Fire and Ice,"
Benny Ray though, pure trouble!
Stopping beside him Carla runs her finger
along his chin line. "So this is what a Benny Ray Riddle
looks like, and you're the new watch dog! Daddy sure knows how
to pick them," she purred running her hand down his neck
and across his well-muscled chest.
Benny Ray was tempted to reach out and
throttle her. Holding himself in check he ground his teeth and
growled low in his throat. But two could play at this game and
Benny Ray was no slouch when it came to seduction.
Beside her the blonde whisper, "Carla,
leave him alone."
"Oh Dom, no wonder you never have
any fun your such a prude!"
"Maybe," the blonde whispered,
"but at least I'm not making an ass out of myself."
Carla laughed delightfully as she stepped
onto the plane, waiting until Benny Ray put his foot on the steps
before sticking her head back out.
"Sweet cheeks, would you get our
bags - please," she pouted at him, her eyes dancing with
Benny Ray went still, as he slowly pulled
his sunglasses off, hot seductive fire glowed in his eyes as
they roamed up and down the girl's body. Seeing the flush steal
into her checks he smiled, that pure heartbreaking smile that
drove women crazy. Silkily, in his slow southern drawl he purred,
"Yes, Ma'am" Licking his lips Benny Ray clicked his
teeth together before turning away and putting the sunglasses
back on. Grinning to himself thinking maybe, just maybe this
trip wasn't going to be too bad after all.
Shaken to the core, Carla stumbled back
into the plane. No one had ever looked at her like that, and
it made her blush with angry embarrassment. Sitting across the
plane, Dom had watched the new bodyguard as he played with Carla.
Dom loved Carla with her whole heart, but sometimes the girl
was just way out of control. It was interesting to see her get
taken down a peg or two.
Carla was buckling herself in when Benny
Ray came on board. She never even glanced up as he walked by.
The steward quickly and efficiently
closed the hatch then checked the girls' seat belts. Feeling
eyes on him Benny Ray looked up, catching an assessing look in
the stewards' eye. Quickly the man smiled as he turned back to
take up his seat. But Benny Ray didn't like that smile, it was
slick and didn't reach the man's eyes. Filing it away, he sat
back preparing for take off.
Benny Ray stared out the window catching
short glimpses of lights as they passed over western parts of
Mexico. So far the trip had been quiet and relaxing, Carla had
ceased to play her games but he could feel the hostility emanating
Hearing faint sounds of urgent whispering
voices coming from the cockpit, Benny Ray unsnapped his seat
belt and walked to the front of the plane.
"Problem gentleman," he asks,
seeing the steward and pilot with their heads together staring
at a blinking red light on the front console.
Snapping their heads around the two
of them stumble over their words, clearing his throat, the pilot
says, "I'm not sure, it says we're leaking hydraulic fluid
but all my systems are working correctly. Just to be on the safe
side, I've called the tower in Mexico City asking for emergency
clearance. It's probably nothing, just a fuse, but I'd rather
not take the chance. We'll be landing in twenty minutes."
Returning to the main cabin he see the
girls anxious faces. His eyes mask his concern as he says. "Problem
with the hydraulics, the pilot doesn't seem to be concerned,
but he wants to be sure, he's setting down in Mexico City in
Twenty-seven minutes later the plane
lands without incident. Telling the girls to stay put, he talks
to the pilot.
"With this being a diplomatic plane,"
the pilot says, "we have first priority, it shouldn't take
more than an hour and we'll be back in the air. It would be better
if you took the ladies inside."
Benny Ray didn't like it, some sixth
sense told him something wasn't right, but he couldn't put his
finger on it. Slipping on his jacket he checked the Glock and
slipped it back into the holster, grabbing a couple extra clips
he steps cautiously out of the plane. Scanning the area he finds
nothing threatening and quickly motions for the girls to follow
him into the main terminal.
Carla slipped easily into her playful,
mischievous persona. Benny Ray had come to realize she used it
as a shield.
It was late and the terminal was sparsely
populated as they walked in. Carla was unwilling to sit in the
lounge and wanted to walk through the terminal. Benny Ray groaned
at the thought of trying to protect her in this type of environment,
but it was either that or tie her up. Forty-five minutes later,
Benny Ray was aggravated. Carla had flirted with every male between
the ages of ten and thirty. She had done it strictly to annoy
him, throwing glances at him over her shoulder every few minutes.
Dominique had basically stood back and watched her friend in
action. Carla on the prowl was a thing of beauty. She twisted
and manipulated every man that caught her fancy - except her
new bodyguard, and that made Carla mad. Dom watched Benny Ray
as well. His eyes never rested in one place too long, always
watching always moving, his face never betraying any emotion.
She had to wonder what made him tick. He moved with the unconscious
grace of a panther, lethal and silent.
Benny Ray had had enough, as Carla moved
on to a new conquest, he stepped in front of her. "Time
to go," he snapped, his eyes hard and unyielding.
"Ease up, watch dog," Carla
snapped back, "I'm not ready to leave yet."
His sapphire blue eyes turned to ice,
lowering his voice he growled, "I think you are."
Carla's eyes flashed with hatred but
she turns walking back up the terminal, Dominique following closely
on her heels.
Pulling the satellite phone from his
pocket, Benny Ray dialed Matt.
"Morning Major," Benny Ray
chuckles as he hears the sleepy voice on the other end.
"Problems Benny Ray," Matt
asks instantly alert.
"Just with the plane boss, hydraulic
malfunction according to the pilot. Once we're back in the air
it will take another seven hours to reach Brasilia. I'll call
again when we get there."
"Any other problems," Matt
"Nothing I can't handle, both ladies
are alive and well."
"Damn glad to hear that Benny Ray."
"Roger that Sir, Benny Ray out."
Snapping the phone shut he slides it back into the pocket of
When they reach the small executive
waiting room Benny Ray sees the steward standing still staring
out across the runway, his face oddly blank as the trio walk
"Fixed," Benny Ray asked?
The steward jumped at the sound of Benny
Ray's voice, lost in thought he hadn't heard the snipers silent
"Yes," he stammers in confusion.
"The pilot just cleared it with maintenance, we should be
back in the air in twenty minutes. "Please" he mumbled,
"assist the ladies back on board."
Walking out to the plane Benny Ray tensed
as he looked back to see the steward talking to several men in
overalls. He turns to find several pairs of eyes on Carla and
the hair on the back of his neck bristled. Every nerve in his
body screamed as he stepped across to guard her back and block
their view. Pushing the girls quickly into the plane his hand
reaches for the weapon beneath his jacket.
Behind him the steward stepped up eyeing
him strangely as Benny Ray's eyes scan the area. He watches as
the men walk away disappearing into the building. Releasing some
of the tension, the nagging feeling of impending disaster stayed
with him. Going back down the steps he checks the baggage compartment
for any tampering, before moving back inside and checking the
Dominique coming up to stand beside
him asks, "Is something wrong?"
Seeing the anxious look on her face,
Benny Ray smiles saying, "No ma'am, just doing my job."
Relieved at his words, Dominique gets
the feeling he's not happy about something.
Mexico City Airport
Maintenance office 0115 hours
Five men stood watching as the Ambassadors' Lear Jet smoothly
rises into the sky. A few minutes later four turn away, but the
fifth stands silently, his cold malevolent eyes watching until
the little planed disappeared into the inky black sky.
Behind him he could hear the men talking,
as his second in command taps his shoulder.
"What is it Arturo," he asked.
"Michaels seems to think the America
could be trouble."
"Michaels is getting paid to do
a job, if the American gets in the way, Michaels knows what to
do." "Come, its time we left, we will see them again
in a few hours. I wouldn't worry Arturo, Michaels knows what
will happen if he fails."
Six hours later the little jet crossed
the border into Brazil, the last several hours had shown weary
eye nothing but ocean and blackness below. The sun was rising
over the horizon, bathing the forest below in an orange glow.
Trees, miles and miles of trees extended out in all directions.
With only an hour left Benny Ray was glad that the spoiled brat
was almost home and he could go relax on the beach.
The girls had retired to the sleeping
quarters about four hours ago. The steward had dozed fitfully
in one of the chairs, but he was now sitting in the cockpit talking
to the pilot. Benny Ray couldn't hear their whispered conversation
but he was surprised to feel the little plane making a hard turn
to the left. Trout's flight plan had them flying straight into
Brasilia. Unbuckling his seatbelt, Benny Ray moved forward. Sticking
his head in he asks, "What's going on gentleman?"
The steward snaps his head around panic
in his eyes as raises the weapon in his right hand pointing it
at Benny Ray's chest. "Back up," he croaks!
The pilot grimaces as he sees the gun
in the steward hand saying, "Take it easy Michaels one shot
in here and we're all dead."
"Shut up," Michaels yells.
"Just do your job and get this thing on the ground now!"
Benny Ray went still, his eyes cold
and hard as he stares into Michaels eyes. The man was terrified,
and terrified people were unpredictable.
Moving slowly backward Benny Ray assesses
his opponent. Michaels was slightly taller and less muscular,
but his terror would make him a formidable enemy. Beneath him
he could feel the little plane beginning it's decent.
As they reach the main compartment,
Michaels waves the gun toward the seat, saying, "Sit."
But it was enough for Benny Ray stepping to the side his right
hand coming down on the Michaels gun arm, his left coming up
he catches Michaels off guard, twisting he sends Michaels to
the floor the weapon falling away. Hitting the floor hard Michaels
kicks out catching Benny Ray above the knee before he can draw
his weapon. With a grunt of pain Benny Ray falls to the side
as Michaels reaches for his weapon. Kicking out Benny Ray pushes
the weapon out of his reach. Desperately Michaels throws himself
on top of Benny Ray swinging crazily he catches Benny Ray in
With a quick twist, Benny Ray slams
his right fist into Michaels face, snapping his head backward.
A punishing left follows and Michaels falls to the side. Picking
himself up Benny reaches for the fallen gun as he's slammed from
Hearing the scuffling from the main
cabin the pilot had put the little jet on automatic pilot. Seeing
Michaels on the floor, he slams his fist into the back of Benny
Ray's skull. Stumbling forward Benny Ray turns pulling the Glock
from beneath his jacket, but unwilling to fire on the pilot.
Behind him Michaels retrieves his weapon spinning to face Benny
Ray he fires but the shot goes wide of its mark. Dropping to
the floor Benny Ray brings his gun around and squeezes the trigger.
Michaels body snaps backward, his face registers shock as his
finger reflexively pulling the trigger several time more. Swinging
back to face the pilot Benny Ray swears as he sees the blank
look on the pilot's face and the spreading bloom of blood across
his chest. Slowly the pilot sinks to his knees before falling
face first to the carpet.
Hearing the gunfire the two girls come
running out gasping in horror at the two bodies lying on the
Just then the plane rocks uncontrollably
as the automatic pilot kicks off. Running into the cockpit, Benny
Ray grabs hold of the wheel trying to steady the little plane
and keep it flying straight. But Michaels stray bullets had found
their mark and the controls were badly damaged.
Behind him Carla and Dominique stand
in the doorway shock and horror written in their eyes. Ever the
optimist Dominic asks Benny Ray, "I don't suppose you know
how to fly this thing do you?"
Without taking his eyes off the controls
Benny Ray says, "No Ma'am, I don't!" Beneath his breath
he mumbles, "But I do know someone who does."
Looking over his shoulder he says, "There's
a phone in my jacket pocket
before he can say any more
Carla turns running for his jacket. Seconds later she comes back
pulling the phone and mike out of the inside pocket. Plugging
the jack into the phone she hands him the earpiece. Telling her
the number he waits as the phone connects. The line connects
and Benny Ray heaves a sigh of relief, "Chance, I have a
little problem on my hands."
"And what would that be Amigo,"
Chance asks sleepily?
"I'm sitting in the cockpit of
a Lear Jet, 20,000 ft in the air and ummm, there's no pilot!
"Your what, Chance asks incredibly?
"But the bad part
Ray continues, "The controls are all shot to hell and we're
going down fast."
Chance knows the odds of Benny Ray landing
the crippled plane and surviving were pretty damn slim. Benny
Ray's one flying lesson didn't include landing.
"First thing you need to do is
look for a place to set it down."
"That could be a problem,"
Benny Ray whispers, "I can't see anything but treetops for
"Well, we'll face that when we
have to," Chance answers. Chance goes on to ask a myriad
of question, the answers weren't always satisfactory and he cringed
at the though.
"Altitude," Chance asks a
few minutes later?
"Down to 10,000 ft," Benny
Chance works diligently, telling him
how to get the landing gear down, the necessary air speed and
how to lift the nose of the little plane on landing.
Behind him he hears Carla's voice, "There,
there," she yelps, "To the left, I can see a small
Turning Benny Ray winks saying, "Buckle
yourself in ladies this is not going to be pretty." Side
by side the girls buckle themselves in, holding hands they close
their eyes and wait.
With the information Benny Ray is relaying
Chance knows that they are going in too fast and too steep. "Slow
her down Benny Ray, and keep the nose up. Line her up in the
center of the clearing. When she touches down, throttle all the
way back and hit the brakes."
"Roger that Compadre!" Benny
Ray had never faltered before and he wasn't about to start now,
but looking at the tiny little field in front of him made him
shiver. He could hear Chance's comforting voice in his ear as
the little plane touched the ground. The plane bounced hard several
times before the wheels finally settle to earth. The clearing
is strewn with rocks and debris and Benny Ray can barely hold
her straight. He can hear the sounds of muffled screams, as the
girls get jolted and jarred by the landing.
The clearing is just too short, as the
front wheel support gives way beneath them the nose of the plane
plows into the earth, sending the plane skidding sideways, it
crashing into the trees, the sounds of breaking glass and crumpling
metal ripple through the little glade. Seconds the later the
plane comes to an abrupt halt, the nose crunched beside a huge
Silence echoes through the forest as
the plane comes to a halt. Too frightened to move, Carla and
Dominique sit in shock. Slowly raising their heads they realize
they actually survived. Unbuckling their seatbelts, they look
around at the broken little plane. Shattered windows and broken
branches tell their story of destruction. Carla listens for sounds
from the cockpit, but only silence greets her. Stumbling from
her chair she slowly makes her way into the front of the plane.
The cockpit is a shambles of twisted metal and glass. Benny Ray
was silent his body slumped forward over the control panels.
Feeling for a pulse, she is relieved to find it pumping erratically.
Her voice is filled with fear as she
cries for Dominique to come help.
Benny Ray had lost consciousness as
the plane made its final stop. He woke slowly hearing familiar
voices beside him. All he could feel was the pounding in his
head and the blinding flashes of pain that course through his
Opening his eyes he looks down, his
hand is covered in blood as it rests on his left thigh. The twisted
metal of the torn hull is buried deep in the muscle about six
inches above his knee.
Groaning he lifts his head to get a
better look. The twisted metal had hooked him good, if he pulled
straight off he knew he'd tear his leg to shreds, his only option
was to move backwards and try to slide out from beneath it. He
couldn't do it alone.
"I'm so scared Dom, what are we
going to do," Carla's whispered words catch Benny Ray's
ears as he looks up seeing tears coursing down both girls cheeks.
"What do we do," Carla asks
as she sinks to her knees beside him.
His voice cracks as he says, "I
need to go backwards to slide out of the seat and I need your
help. I need each of you to grab an arm and pull as hard as you
"I can't." Carla whispers.
Putting his hand on her chin his pain
filled eyes lock with hers, "You have to Carla."
"No," she cries, "Help
will come they can get you out better than we can."
Taking a deep breath he says, "Carla,
someone tried to hijack this plane, they wanted something, my
guess would be you. We can't stay here. The pilot was looking
for an airstrip close by. The kidnappers are probably already
on the way, if we stay they will find us. Do you understand?"
"Yes," she cries leaning her
head against his shoulder.
"Come," he says cracking a
smile, "This is going to hurt me a helluva lot more than
it's going to hurt you."
"Wanna bet," they mumble in
Entwining their arms beneath his their
hands lock. Taking a couple of deep breaths he closes his eyes
and grits his teeth before saying, "Go!"
Pulling with all their might the two
girls can hear the ripping of skin as his leg slide from beneath
the metal. He cries out as the sharp metal rips through flesh
sending waves of white-hot searing pain coursing through him.
He goes limp in their arms as the darkness claims him and all
three fall to the floor.
Now its Dominique's turn to take over
as she barks orders, "Carla, grab the first aid kit and
a bunch of towels out of the closet. We need to get the bleeding
stopped. Tearing the fabric of his jeans, all she can see is
blood. Beneath her touch Benny Ray doesn't move. It's nearly
ten minutes before the bleeding is finally under control and
the ugly wound cleaned and bandaged.
Taking the ammonia capsule from the
first aid kit she breaks it, wrinkling her nose at the smell
she turns her head away waving it beneath Benny Ray's nose.
He rises to consciousness quickly, coughing
and waving the hand from in front of his face. He can feel the
lethargy setting in loss of blood had already sapped his strength.
Pulling himself up to a sitting position
he ignores the throbbing in his leg as he spots the phone beneath
the flight console. Reaching for it he's amazed to see it's still
"Dominique, get my pack,"
Dialing Chance's number he listens as
The voice on the other end goes wild
with joy at hearing his voice. "Where are you Benny Ray,"
"Northern Brazil, somewhere,"
"Hold on Benny Ray, here's the
"What's your situation, Benny Ray."
"The package is safe sir, we are
currently still in the plane, but we'll be moving out shortly.
The steward, Michaels and the pilot made an attempt to hijack
the plane. Michaels accidentally killed the pilot and shot up
the controls. I get the feeling whoever started this is going
to come looking."
"And you," Matt asks, hearing
the strain in the snipers voice."
"Bum leg and a headache Major."
Beside him Dominique puts his pack on
the floor beside him.
"What's your location?"
"Wait one sir," he says as
he pulls the hand held GPS from his pack. Finding it undamaged
he actives it, punching in the code he reads the coordinates
"Twelve hours Benny Ray!"
"Roger that sir, I'll check in
every few hours with new coordinates."
"Hang tight Benny Ray, we'll be
there as soon as we can.
"Roger sir, we'll be waiting."
Hanging up he hands the phone and the
GPS to Dominique, showing both of them how to activate and obtain
the precious coordinates.
"Carla, you need to grab blankets
and the first aid kit. Dominique, we need food and water - Go,"
he whispers quietly.
Checking the contents of the pack he
finds several clips for the Glock and a box of shells for the
rifle. Pulling the Glock he checks it before settling it back
in the holster, putting the clips in the pocket of jacket. Loading
the rifle he sets it down on the seat beside him as he pulls
himself to his feet placing as little weight as possible on the
injured leg. A wave on nausea and dizziness was over him and
everything goes black. Tightly gripping the seat beside him he
waits for it to pass.
Seeing the map in the pocket of the
pilots' chair Benny Ray pulls it out stuffing it into his pant's
A few minutes later the girls are beside
him, loaded and ready to go. His first step on the injured leg
sends bolts of agony shooting through him, gritting his teeth
he takes another step pushing the pain to the back of his mind.
As they pass through the main cabin,
Benny Ray looks around for Michaels weapon, but he can't see
it, probably thrown around during the landing. Cautiously the
trio make their way out of the plane
Silver Star Hotel
Matt's heart had taken a dive when Chance
called him. Benny Ray his mind screamed, his best friend, his
second-in-command and the best damn man he'd ever met. He couldn't
loose him not like this. He called Trout, ripping the man apart.
"I want the fastest plane you've got ready to go in an hour,
Matt yelled. Trout was silent as Matt "s rage crashed around
"It will be ready when you are,
"It better be Trout or I'll come
find you personally. Furiously he hangs up vowing that someone
was going to pay.
Calling the rest of his team he explained
the situation, knowing none of them would refuse to help search
for the missing sniper - their friend.
Matt had nearly cried when the second
call came through. He was so relieved to hear Benny Ray's voice
he'd stammered. Pulling himself together he slid back into the
leadership role, finding out and assessing the situation. Now
all he had to do was come up with a plan and put it into play.
Twenty minutes later the team was at
the airport, True to his word, Trout had put a plane and an extra
pilot at their disposal. If all went well it would get them to
Brazil in a little over 11 hours.
The trip was going to be long and fraught
with questions that none of them had answers for, but as long
as they knew Benny Ray was alive they'd press on. They could
all feel the urgency of the situation and hope that they'd make
it in time.
100 Miles North of the Crash Site
Arturo stood in front of his commander,
amazed at the calm demeanor of his superior. He had expected
the man to rant and rave at the incompetence of his co-conspirators,
but he remained calm. The man's eyes were cold and empty as he
stared out the window.
"Ready the choppers, get men out
there now, we know where the plane went down. If they are still
alive I want them brought here. Send men here and here he said
pointing to several small black dots - villages - on the map."
His name was Maxwell Stuart. He had
spent too many years plotting his revenge to be stopped now.
If the girl were alive his revenge would be complete he would
send her back to his one time friend in little pieces. But dead
was just as good. The bastard would suffer a thousand deaths
knowing he had caused it. The deaths of his wife and son would
In the distance he could hear the sound
of the helicopters as their engines were started. Men shouting
and Trucks rolling were music to his ears.
His instincts were on overload they
screamed danger. Doing his best to cover their trail Benny Ray
moved as quickly as he could driving them in a southeasterly
direction. The map had indicated a river and a small settlement
about twenty miles away. He doubted his leg would carry him that
far, but at least he could get the girls as far away from the
plane as possible.
Arturo and his men arrived at the crash
site a little over two hours later. He wasn't surprised to see
Michaels and the pilot dead. The American was good, damn good,
to have landed the plane with the controls shot to hell. From
the amount of blood in the cockpit, the man was hurting and badly.
Outside he gave orders for his men to find the trail. But Benny
Ray, hurt or not had done his job superbly, Arturo's men could
not pick up their trail.
Radioing back to Stuart, Arturo apprised
him of the problem. The line went deathly quiet before Stuart
started swearing and ranting about incompetence. "Dogs,
Arturo, did you think to take the dogs with you. NO! I suggest
that you come get them!"
Hanging up, Arturo shot orders to his
men to keep searching. Climbing back into the chopper he cringes
at the thought of facing Stuart.
The first hour the three weary travelers
found it rough going through the dense underbrush, the lush tropical
forest making it very difficult to move quickly. They climbed
for nearly two miles before the landscape began to change, becoming
rockier the underbrush less dense. They had been on the move
for nearly four hours, Benny Ray had taught them a few things
about covering their trail and moving silently. Carla and Dominique
began to see it as a game, a deadly one, but a game they knew
they had no choice but to win if they thought about it they would
From the map Benny Ray knew they had
covered less than half the distance to the river and he was tiring
fast. If they could just reach the river they had a good chance
of shaking any pursuit. He had no intentions of taking the girls
into the village, whoever was after Carla would probably have
"Hurry Boss," he whispered!
Stuart was waiting as the helicopter
landed, the dogs one bloodhound and two Rottweilers sat patiently
beside him. His face was cold and implacable as Arturo stood
in front of him. Handing him the leashes Stuart climbed into
the chopper, waiting impatiently as Arturo and the dogs settle
in. With a nod to the pilot Stuart sits quietly staring out into
morning sky as they head back to the crash site.
The dogs quickly picked up the scent,
but Benny Ray had again done his job, sending the girls off in
circles to confuse anyone who might be following. Several time
the dogs split off from the trail and Stuart's frustration grew,
a dawning respect for the American was kindled. An adversary
Benny Ray knew his tricks had only slowed
the pursuit, someone wanted Carla and they wouldn't give up easily.
Nearly ten hours had passed since they had left the plane, his
body protesting every movement. Beside him the girls were tiring,
but he drove them relentlessly. They were scared, he could see
it in their eyes, but they knew the consequences if the tango's
caught up with them.
In front of him Dominique stumbled,
her feet slipping on the rocky trail. Carla reached out to steady
her friend. A few minutes later Benny Ray called a halt, they
needed a few minutes to catch their breath and eat. Pursuit was
not far behind he could feel it.
Ten minutes later they were back on
the trail. Another hour and they would reach the river.
Plane Crossing into Brazil
Chance had pushed the plane as hard
as he could making up for lost time. Another hour would put them
close to Benny Ray's position. The pilot Trout had assigned to
the plane was sitting beside him. When the time came Chance would
make the jump with Matt, Margo and CJ then the extra pilot would
set the plane down in a small field near the village. The last
call from Benny Ray had been three hours ago. His voice had betrayed
his exhaustion, Chance knew the sniper would push himself and
girls hard, he just hoped the tango's didn't catch up to them,
Benny Ray was in no shape to deal with an assault.
Matt sat quietly only the drumming of
his fingers showed the frustration and apprehension he felt.
Beside him Margo put her hand in his, feeling the pent up tension
coursing through him. "We'll make it in time Matt,"
she whispered encouragingly.
His head swiveled toward her catching
the hope and optimism in her eye. Benny Ray was survivor and
he would make it through this.
Nearing the River
He approached the river cautiously pulling
the binoculars from his pack he scanned the riverbank and the
surrounding area for any sign of movement. So far they'd been
lucky, the jungle had allowed them safe passage though several
times he'd heard the unmistakable sounds of a big cat-prowling
Pulling the little phone and GPS from
his pack, getting a fix on their location he dialed Matt. The
phone didn't have much power left in her battery he just hoped
it held on long enough to get the new coordinated passed. Several
rings later Benny Ray is relieved to hear Margo's voice. Copying
the coordinates Margo could hear the pain in his voice. "Margo,
we're headed south following the river."
"Twenty minutes Benny Ray,"
she informed him, "we'll be on the ground in twenty minutes."
"Roger," she heard him say
before the line went dead.
Breaking cover Benny Ray cautiously
slides down toward the river's edge. It was the dry season and
the river was fairly low and flowed gently to the south. That's
when he heard the sound of a hound baying. They were close now,
too close. Hurrying the girls into the river he headed downstream.
The little village was east of their position, but he knew if
they were to reach the village they would have to go around -
a straight on approach would only get them captured.
The peaceful river was deceptive, beneath
the smooth surface the water dragged at them, the uneven surface
making it hard to maneuver safely. Behind them he could hear
the sound of men and dogs growing closer.
Stuart stood at the rivers edge his
face impassive as he looked up and down the river. The dogs had
ceases they're barking and sat sniffing at the waters edge. Motioning
for the handler to take the dogs across to the other side he
waited but the dogs could not pick up the scent. Pulling a coin
from his pocket Stuart flips it into the air, catching it he
opens his hand, the tail lay face up. "Arturo," Stuart
snapped, take half the men and two of the dogs and go north,
I will take the others south. I want them alive, even the American,
do you understand me?"
"Yes Mr. Stuart," Arturo replied.
Waving one man to each side of the river Arturo and sets them
to combing the riverbank while he and six others wade into the
river, Stuart did the same. Stuart and six men move downstream.
The men walked quickly along the bank but the Rottweiler failed
to pick up a scent.
Benny Ray knew he was out of time he
was exhausted and his leg wasn't going to hold up for much longer.
Parts of the bank were overgrowing with brushy leaves cascading
over the edge into the water. Pushing the girls beneath the leaves
he arranges the brush to cover them completely. "Stay low
and don't make a sound," he warns them.
Wading about 20 feet further down he
pulls himself out of the water taking up a position beneath some
brush with a decent view of the river. Brushing the back of his
hand across his eyes did nothing to clear his vision. Closing
his eyes he takes several deep breaths before steeling himself
for the coming battle. High above him he could make out the sounds
of a plane but the forest around him was too thick to catch a
glimpse. He knew in a few minutes the girls would be safe and
that was all that mattered.
Inside the plane Matt gave the order.
Seconds later four bodies were hurtling through the door and
four chutes billowed above them. They soon settled to the ground
below. Dropping their chutes, Matt motioned for them to move
quickly toward the river. A few seconds later the sound of a
gunshot echoes through the trees. "Damn, Matt whispers,
"Lets move it people."
The rottweiler raised its nose into
the air. The breeze along the river swirled beneath the trees
and the dog caught the scent. Lips curled menacingly showing
razor sharp teeth as the dog growled low in his throat. Jerking
the lead from the man's hand the dog leaped into the water heading
toward the far bank where Benny Ray lay hidden. Taking aim, Benny
Ray fired, the dog squealed in pain and changed directions going
back the way it came, but Stuart had seen the dog and the direction
of his attack. Reaching dry ground, Stuart motioned his men to
He was tired his body was numb and his
vision was beginning to blur, he saw men spreading out moving
to get behind him. Turning left Benny Ray fired one shot, hearing
a grunt of pain as his target went down.
Stuarts voice rang out, "I know you are there American,
I suggest you come out or I will have my men open fire."
With Matt on the way Benny Ray took
a chance and slowly climbed to his feet leaning heavily on the
tree beside him. With hands raises he turns to face the voice.
Quickly crossing the distance between them Stuart pulls the weapon
from his hand and drags Benny Ray out onto the trail.
"Where are they," Stuart ask
his voice low and threatening.
Sapphire blue eyes stare coldly at the
man in front of him. "I won't ask you again," Stuart
Steeling himself for the blow, Benny
Ray shivered as Stuart takes the butt of the rifle and pounds
it against his injured leg. Gasping as the fiery pain races through
him Benny Ray fall sideway as consciousness begins to fade.
Moving silently into position across
the river, with Margo beside him Matt sends Chance and CJ across
the river and behind Stuart's men.
"Take them out people," Matt
states, giving the order. Behind him Stuart's men begin to shout
in alarm firing wildly at an unseen enemy. Pulling a sagging
Benny Ray back to his feet Stuart moves into the trees using
Benny Ray's body as a shield.
Frantically Stuart searches the forest
but he can't find the attackers. Yelling at the top of his lungs
he says. "I'll kill him, do you hear me. I'll blow his brains
"Put the weapon down," Matt's
voice rings out, "and you'll live to see tomorrow."
"No," Stuart yell, "I'm
leaving and I'm taking him with me."
Carla trembled as she pulled Michaels
gun from her pack, she'd found it lying on the floor outside
the kitchen. She couldn't let him kill Benny Ray, she couldn't.
Quietly she crept from beneath the leaves and climbed onto the
bank. Moving closer she raises the weapon aiming it at Stuart's
Hearing the rustling of brush from behind
him, Stuart hears a quavering voice from behind him. "No
you're not Mr. Stuart"
A frenzied light comes into his eyes
as he recognizes the voice and the figure of the girl standing
behind him. Releasing his grip on Benny Ray he pull the weapon
around as shots ring out. Pulling the trigger Carla fires three
From across the river Matt had been
unable to get a clear shot, but the man suddenly turned releasing
Benny Ray. Squeezing the trigger he watches as Stuart's body
Limping slowly across to the trembling
girl, Benny Ray takes the gun from her hand as she sags against
him tears streaming down her face. Carla hugs him close as relief
washes over her.
Crossing the river Matt stands quietly
beside the sniper putting a steadying hand on his shoulder.
"Howdy Major you're late,"
Benny Ray chuckled dryly, before the darkness claimed him.
Catching him, Matt lowers him gently
to the ground.
Two days later
Benny Ray lay basking in the sun, his
injured leg stretched out in front of him on the lounge chair
propped up by several pillows. With Carla on one side and Dominique
on the other Benny Ray was enjoying their pampering. The girls
looked different today, leaving off the heavy gaudy make-up had
done wonders. Their skin was fresh and clean and they looked
young and carefree.
Swinging her legs off the chair Carla
kneels beside him. "I'm sorry," she whispers sincerely.
Reaching up Benny Ray slowly takes off
his sunglasses his eyes filled with laughter and tenderness as
he catches her eyes. Smiling ruefully Carla continues, "For
being horrid and saying all those stupid things when we first
Benny Ray's eyes searched her face,
liking what he saw Carla had done a lot of growing up out in
the jungle and he was glad of the change.
End of Line
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