Bill turned around in the passenger seat to face Deckard as he terminated a call on his cell phone.
“I’ve got a geo on a dead drop you guys are going to need. One of the technical guys at the U.S. embassy stashed it a while back in case something like this came up.”
“Surprising amount of forethought on their part,” Deckard said.
“Yeah, no shit. Almost like they anticipated this situation, huh? Most of those guys couldn’t find pussy in a Mexican whorehouse.”
Bill sent a text to Deckard’s cell phone. They all carried encrypted cell phones that Ramon had set up for them back in Mauritius.
“That is the lat-long for the dead drop,” Bill told him. “Pick it up and I will get back to you with a grid to wherever the device is being stored. I don’t have it yet, but the client should get it to me soon.”
“He better if he wants it back.”
“Just do your job and let me worry about that.”
It was four in the morning when they arrived back in Cairo. The streets were a cluttered maze of brown buildings covered with satellite dishes. The streets were relatively quiet with light traffic as it was early morning. Riots could still break out at any time. Egypt had descended into its own French Revolution where Generals replaced the President; then, the next revolution saw the Muslim Brotherhood take charge. Then, the military came back into power and Colonels replaced Generals. What happened in the next stage no one knew, which managed to scare everyone, including the West.
Ramon and Deckard were dropped off while the rest of the team drove off to begin their own recon. A mission like this would usually take weeks of planning, and Deckard was all too aware that they were simply flying by the seat of their pants. Liquid Sky was half-assing it because somebody’s ass was on the line, that same ass unwilling to risk actual American soldiers to unfuck their problem because if they got compromised, it could make things even worse back in the U.S.
Ramon carried the black case as they found a building that looked to provide an overwatch position of their dead drop. Deckard had his AR-15 broken down and hidden under his shirt. Again, half assing it. At least the streets were pretty dead at this time of night. They walked a few blocks until they located a building with an external staircase that spiraled up seven stories to the top. The mercenaries had to hop a wall, but then were inside the apartment complex. Deckard snatched a bed sheet off a clothesline on their way.
Sweat was pouring off their bodies as they reached the rooftop. Both men went about assembling their weapons. Deckard’s M4 was simple to snap together with take down pins as he attached the upper and lower receiver. Ramon extended the .50 cal rifle’s barrel and slid the recoil spring into place. Then, he made sure the bolt and buffer spring were in place as he held the charging handle slightly back and attached the barrel to the butt stock and trigger mechanism, pinning it in place. They each loaded magazines.
“The sun is going to be up in an hour,” Ramon said to no one in particular.
“We should recover the dead drop before then.”
“What is it?” Deckard asked.
“The dead drop? Specialized ammunition that we are going to need to penetrate the secure compound the device is being held in.”
“What, like API or Raufoss rounds?”
“No, not like that. Come on, let’s get eyes on before sending you down there.”
Deckard spread the bed sheet over Ramon and the Barrett rifle once he got into position. It would give him some concealment in case low-flying aircraft flew by, which they would be as they monitored protests and riots.
“There it is,” the Filipino mercenary said as he looked through the Leupold scope. From their vantage point, they had a good view of the sprawling neighborhood below. Down the street was a concrete bridge that crossed over a shallow depression. “The dead drop is under that bridge.”
It looked like there were just a few feet of clearance under the bridge, enough room to scoot through if you hunched over.
“You can see that narrow opening between the ground and the bottom of the bridge,” Ramon said as he scanned. “That is your FRP for this cache according to the data Bill sent me.”
The FRP or final reference point was a fixed position which could easily be found by the person uncovering a cache. From there, he would have precise measurements to follow to locate the cache itself.
“Take a look,” Ramon said while pushing the Barrett over to Deckard so he could recon the site with the ten-power scope.
Deckard settled in behind the rifle.
“What the fuck?” he cursed.
“What is it?”
“The cache site is compromised.”
Through the scope, Deckard saw an Egyptian man wearing khaki pants and a brown button down shirt squeeze out from under the bridge. He walked up the embankment and onto the street. Deckard passed the rifle back to Ramon so that he could see for himself.
“Holy shit,” the Filipino said as he looked through the scope. “Another one just came out from under the bridge. It’s like a fucking clown car down there. This one is zipping up his pants on the way out. I guess that was what was going on. He was squaring his buddy away with creme of some young guy.”
“What idiot placed this cache?”
“Too late now. Get your ass down there to that underground homo den and see if the cache is still there. It’s up under the bridge, a small case resting on the lip of the fifth I-beam in from the entrance.”
“Looks like I’m drawing the short straw again.”
“Here,” Ramon said as he reached for something on his belt. “That AR is too big for confined spaces anyway. I smuggled this through the airport.”
Ramon handed him his karambit knife. It was curved like the claw on the hind leg of a velociraptor.
“Take care of business and get that package. The sooner you do, the sooner we can get the fuck out of here.”
Deckard left his AR-15 with Ramon and started back down the stairs to the streets below. He held the karambit close to his body with his pinky finger through the hole at the end of the blade’s handle. Walking down the street, he shuffled down the embankment to the opening under the bridge. Looking over his shoulder, he knew Ramon would be watching from his crow’s nest above, but Deckard would have no backup once he went inside.
Deckard could hear something shuffling around in the dark.
Holding the karambit in his fist, he stepped into the darkness.
Ramon lay in the prone, motionless, as he watched the scene unfold below. Observing through the sniper scope, he saw Deckard look back at him over his shoulder then turn and duck under the bridge. His partner was an odd cat, but Ramon had to admit that he was squared away and generally fearless.
Scanning the surroundings for a few minutes, he hoped that Deckard made it fast. Dawn was already approaching.
“Uh oh,” Ramon said under his breath.
He spotted one of the men they saw exiting the cache site walking down the street, heading back towards the bridge. Ramon had no way to contact Deckard since he would not be able to get cell phone coverage under the bridge.
The Filipino mercenary smiled to himself.
It would be interesting to see how Deckard handled this.
Deckard squatted in the darkness, giving his eyes time to adjust. Something was definitely moving inside the urban cave.
“Who is there?”
It was a women’s voice, asking him in Arabic.
“Who is that?”
She had also sensed that she was no longer alone. Deckard heard metal drag on metal as her feet kicked through the dust as she tried to move. Reaching into a pocket, Deckard turned on a small pen light. The white light cut through the darkness like a knife.
What he saw turned his stomach. A homeless woman wearing rags was chained to a piece of rebar sticking out of the dirt. He could only imagine why.
“How long have you been here,” he asked her in Arabic.
“How could I know? They chained me up down here. He charges men in the neighborhood for them to come down here and rape me.”
The American had seen some demented things in his travels. Unfortunately, he wasn’t surprised in the least that such activities occurred, just surprised that he encountered it in the cache site. The woman’s hair was a rat’s nest, her clothes covered in grim. She was barefoot, kneeling in the dirt with the handcuffs securing her to the metal bar.
“I’m going to get you out of those handcuffs.”
They both froze as a third voice came from the entrance.
Deckard flicked off his flashlight.
“That’s him,” the woman whispered in the dark.
“Marhaban?” This time the voice was closer.
The woman began talking to her slave master and pimp in their common language. Deckard palmed the karambit. The pimp thought someone else was in his dungeon and that the woman was running some kind of side business when he wasn’t around.
Deckard crouched in the darkest shadows and waited for him to get closer. Edging towards the middle of the urban cave, the pimp flicked on his lighter so he could see the woman. Deckard seized the opportunity, coming up from behind and wrapping a hand around the pimp’s face. With the other hand, he crossed the curved blade of the karambit along the side of his neck. Deckard then yanked both hands in opposite directions as fast as he could.
The pimp dropped to the ground like a rag doll, his body convulsing as blood streamed out of his neck like a firehose. Turning on his flashlight, Deckard wiped the blood off the knife on the soon-to-be-deceased man’s pant sleeve. The woman spit in his face as the pimp struggled for one final ragged breath. Then the pimp’s body shook a final time, and he died.
Going through the dead man’s pockets, Deckard found a key ring, but not a handcuff key. He then searched the dead man’s wallet and again came up empty. Finally, he relieved the corpse of its wrist watch and used the metal on the strap as a shim to crank open the handcuffs.
“Shukran,” the woman said through her tears. “God bless you.”
She looked up at him and for the first time noticed that he was a foreigner.
“Thank you,” she said again.
“Stay here for a moment, I have to find something. We can leave together.”
Deckard didn’t want her to run outside by herself and get shot by Ramon who would have no idea what was going on.
He quickly located the small plastic case he was looking for hidden up under the bridge and pulled it down. The case was about ten inches by ten inches and another ten deep, almost a perfect cube. There was no writing on it.
“Follow me,” he told the woman.
Using the flashlight, he navigated his way to the entrance, then put the light back in his pocket and fished around for his cell phone. He stepped outside and called Ramon, quickly explaining the situation.
“Just get back up here; the sun is coming up,” Ramon told him.
“Be right there,” Deckard said before terminating the call.
The woman slipped out into the burning night air.
“If I were you,” Deckard said as he looked at her. “I wouldn’t want to be caught here come sun up.”
She looked back at him with wide eyes.
“If God wills it,” he replied.
They turned and walked off in opposite directions.