Isle de la Juventud, Cuba
02:00 (07:00 GMT)
Blake opened his eyes. He had trained his mind to be his internal alarm, long before he began serving his country. An unfortunate mishap with his alarm clock, back at the University of Colorado, and no money for a new one, forced him to wake up on his own.
He pulled back the covers and let the ambient moonlight that splashed through the open window shine across the naked body of the beautiful Adriana who slept next to him.
Adriana’s room was in the main house near her father’s and Blake had managed to sneak his way in from the guest house to be with her. Vasquez’s guards weren’t nearly as on their toes as the general believed they were. Too much tequila and a lack discipline or possibly over confidence on behalf of the general. It was probably a combination of them all that had made them lazy and ineffective. If the rumors held true, he was sure that Vasquez would have them beaten or killed for their cavalier behavior. But it wouldn’t matter after tonight.
The night had become a comfortable seventy-two degrees. The smell of the sea wafted in through the open window as the curtains danced playfully back and forth, casting shadows on the opposing wall from the full moon light. The fact that Blake was supposed to be engaged in his cover didn’t stop Adriana’s desire for him. Working together every day for the past two months, he got to know her, and even though his persona was mostly a ruse, it didn’t stop Adriana from being attracted to him. She didn’t know the real man. He fought against his own appetite to be with her, but finally relented to his lust.
The odd feeling in his gut grew as they kissed passionately. Was he truly falling in love? They explored each other’s bodies with eager anticipation for what was eventually to come. He savored her touch and the gentle way she fulfilled him, which added to his guilt for what he was about to do and the pain of never seeing her again.
It had been a perfect night to make love, but it was not a perfect night for what he was about to do. Blake would have preferred for it to be as dark as possible, but knowing that he would be ridding the world of a man like Vasquez, he didn’t care if the sun was shining bright; he would adjust and get the job done.
Blake sat up on his side and gazed upon Adriana once more. It made him sick to see how peaceful and innocent, she looked. She wasn’t cynical enough yet to know there were bad people out there. People who would slip chloral hydrate into an unsuspecting girl’s drink.
Unlike Blake, whose intentions were strictly noble, others might have done things to her while she slept. He was glad he got the dose right—it would have been a shame to kill her. Unlike her scumbag father, she was at least trying to do a little good in the world.
Blake slid out of bed, got dressed and gently stepped over to the window from where he slipped into her room earlier. Outside, on the ground and tethered to a rope, was his gear. He leaned out the window and pulled it into the room.
Inside the bag, he had several tactical knives, throwing spikes, primer cord, three small magnetic mines with timers, an experimental set of night-vision glasses and a bag full of fresh cut meat. There were also various electronic items for hacking computers, alarm systems, etcetera. He strapped on a spring loaded sheath to both of his forearms and snapped a long tactical knife into each of them. He flexed his right forearm and the blade slid into his hand. After he snapped the blade back into place, he screwed a silencer onto a Glock 23 and tucked it in the small of his back.
The main home, from a bird’s eye view, looked like two Christian crosses connected at the bottom, with the top of each cross pointing east or west. The east wing of the estate was where the general, Adriana and any personal guests slept. The general’s room was the on the south tip, closest to the shore and Adriana’s was on the eastern most tip.
Blake cracked the door and peeked into the hallway. From the time he spent at the estate, Blake observed that the general enjoyed his privacy and rarely would the guards come into this wing of the home. Your love of your privacy is going to be your biggest mistake. He silently crept down the hall, careful with each placement of his feet. When he reached the general’s door he retrieved his night vision glasses. Instead of the bulky kind he was used to, these looked like normal dark rimmed glasses. Sensors built into the frames, pulled in the light and cast their familiar greenish hue.
From his pants pocket he retrieved a small can of spray lubricant and applied it to all of the hinges. We wouldn’t want any squeaks waking you up now, would we? Stuffing the can back, he firmly grasped his Glock, took a deep breath and slowly opened the door.
The room was cavernous. The only furniture was the general’s bed, a small desk and a couple of chairs. On the bed, Blake could see the general sleeping. This is almost too easy. Be aware of everything. He crept over to the bed and inspected his surroundings once more. His heartbeat thumped in his ears. The rush of adrenaline pumped through his veins. Very rarely did he ever get this close to one of his targets. Blake raised his weapon to the general’s head, placed his finger on the trigger and took a deep breath.
Light flooded the room. To prevent flash blindness, Blake’s glasses went black. He ripped them from his face—a fraction too late to thwart the grip on his arms. He was immediately grabbed and held tight from both sides. He curled his fists and shifted his weight. His captor’s hold tightened and a cold, steel gun barrel pressed against the base of his skull. His Glock was ripped from his hands. He glanced to his right and saw that under the covers was nothing more than pillows cleverly positioned into the shape of a sleeping body. Blake closed his eyes. Aughh! Fucking stupid!
A hidden door in the wall opened. “Small pockets behind hidden panels in the wall make for a good hiding place, wouldn’t you say, agent MacKay,” the general said in a sardonic tone.
The blood rushed to Blake’s head in anger. His heart sank. How in the… Someone tipped him off.
His captor approached him. “It seems your concerns go beyond the poor children of Cuba. Perhaps you’d like to tell me a little bit about that?”
Who the fuck told him? Who?
He saw from his peripheral, an arm extend and hand the general Blake’s Glock.
Blake stood, grasped by the two guards. His eyes were piercing toward his still intended target. At this point, the anger he felt from betrayal reached its tipping point. He looked to both of his sides and saw both guards were about the same size and each was armed with automatic weapons and a large knife tucked into their tactical vests. Two rent-a-ranger armed guards and old Fat Ass with my Glock tucked in his pants. Given the opportunity he could take them and still complete his mission. He just needed to wait for the right moment.
Vasquez stepped closer. “I opened my home to you, shared my food, my thoughts, my hospitality—and you do this shit…” The general delivered a punch to Blake’s gut. “…to me, you son of a bitch?” Another punch made Blake bend over. He coughed. The men that held him weren’t so accommodating and tightened their grasp.
The pain in his gut started to subside. “Who told you? Who let you know I was here?”
The man he’d come to kill squinted his eyes and tightened his jaw. “Let’s just say that someone does not want you to find out where I got my latest weapon from.”
Latest weapon? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The right fist crossed the left side of his cheek as Vasquez followed through. He could feel the swelling start immediately. The next two punches, delivered to the center of his chest, hurt the most.
Blake’s knees buckled and he tried to catch his breath. Shit! The other two men were still grasping his arms tight. The general took a step back. “Stand him up!”
He came in close again and pointed his finger at Blake. “Who gave the order to have me killed?”
Blake stared at the general and smiled. The slap across the face wiped it away. “Tell me now or I will make this a very painful ordeal for you.” Blake saw his captor nod to one of the men that held him. He felt two hard punches to his kidneys.
The man yelled, “Tell him—now!”
The pain he felt from the kidney shots pierced right through his body. His head spun and made it hard to stand. Blake regained his composure. Lifting his head to the general, he smirked. “The Mexican drug gangs—they want a bigger discount on their next shipment.”
Loathing eyes stared back him, the kind that condemned men saw right before they were executed. “Very amusing,” Vasquez said. Another devastating punch reached deep into Blake’s abdomen. “But, bullshit! Tell me who called the hit.”
Blake was bent over. Bile rolled around in his stomach threatening to make him spew. He tilted his head up and managed to crackle, “Fuck you. Ask whoever tipped you off.”
One of the guards behind him slammed the butt of his rifle in the middle of his back, which dropped him to his knees. He saw stars. With his eyes closed, he tried to shake away the darkness that started to envelope his vision. Vasquez stepped forward and kicked him in the upper abdomen and nearly knocked the wind out of him.
“You’re trying my patience, Mr. MacKay. Pick his ass up! Hold him!” He reeled back and punched Blake in the face twice and kneed him in the gut.
Blake dropped to his knees again. Blood oozed from the corner of his right brow and nose and seeped into his mouth. The metallic taste made his tongue salivate. Okay, I’ve got to take control. This is enough. I can’t take much more of this. He’s not going to tell me who tipped him off. He spat. He’d taken plenty of beatings in the past; for training and for real in the field. He knew his limits on just how much he could withstand and still be able to perform. Those limits were quickly closing in.
“You’re trying my patience, Mr. MacKay!”
Blake spat more blood onto the floor.
“For the last time, you’re going to tell me what I need to know and you’re going to tell me…” the general drew his foot back, “Now!” The blow landed square in the middle of Blake’s chest and knocked him back. The air emptied from his lungs like a punctured balloon. His eyes opened wide as he gasped for air. Both guards quickly regained their grip on him.
He started to panic as he fought for breath. That one did it. I’ve got to get control.
The general prepped himself for another kick and said, “You’re going to die tonight, but not before you tell me what I want to know!”
As the general cocked his foot back, Blake managed to hold up his hand. “Wait!” He coughed. “Please.” Blake held up a single finger while he still fought for air. “Wait, I’ll tell you.” He swallowed hard. “Just please—let me—catch my breath.”
The general gave a nod to both guards to let him go. Oh, you just screwed up now, fat ass. He’d got the wind knocked out of him, but had already composed himself. I’ve got to stall them just a little longer. Keep coughing and gasping for air. This bought him a little time, maybe ten or fifteen seconds.
“You had better tell me everything that I want to know, Mr. MacKay.”
Blake held up one finger as he continued his charade of coughing and wheezing. “Please.” He took two deep breaths. “I promise I will. Just a few more—seconds.”
Blake sat on the floor on his knees and acted as if he was still struggling for breath. He looked at both guards. Each had a Heckler & Koch sub-machine gun. Excellent weapons, but unfortunately, neither of them had silencers. Where are all of the other guards? Neither of these two are carrying radios. Why? If none of the other men know about this, I still have a chance of getting away. I can’t let them fire their weapons. If either of the guards fired a shot, that would grab the attention of all of the other men and there would be almost zero chance of him getting out alive.
Blake leaned over and put his hands on the ground. Blood dripped from his cuts and nose.
“No more time! Tell me now,” Vasquez demanded.
He acted as if he was still having problems breathing. He motioned for the general to bend down. In a crackled whisper he said, “Please, come closer. I can talk better like this.”
As his target bent down, Blake released the tactical knife in his right sleeve. It sprung down into his right hand. Vasquez moved in closer. Now you’re mine. Blake jammed the knife up the middle of the soft tissue under the general’s jaw and in toward the middle of his brain. He twisted it and removed it quickly. His target’s eyes were wide with fear as blood pulsed out of the wound and sprayed the room. Die, you Son-of-a-Bitch! Blake savored the satisfaction of seeing the fear and surprise in his victim’s face. Vasquez’s hands went up to his neck and all he managed was a gurgled plea.
From Vasquez’s waist, Blake retrieved his Glock and shot the guard to his right with three silenced shots to the chest. The guard fell backward, letting his weapon fly out of his hands. He dropped to the floor like a sack of meat.
The other guard was standing right behind Blake. Still on the ground, Blake lurched up and backward with all his strength, and hoped to throw the guard off balance. He didn’t realize how close he and the guard were to the wall behind them and his force slammed the guard into the wall. Blake spun around, grabbed the guard’s arm holding the H & K and slammed it into the wall three times until he finally released it. When it dropped to the floor, it discharged a single shot. Oh, shit! I’ve gotta get outta here fast.
Blake grabbed the man’s arm and flipped him over his shoulder and slammed him to the floor. As Blake adjusted to make his next attack, the guard rolled over onto his back and kicked Blake in the lower abdomen then delivered a leg sweep that dropped him back to the ground.
Blake glanced over as the man pulled a combat knife from his hip. Dammit! You’re a better fighter than you look. Time to end this. His assailant lunged at him. Blake righted himself and delivered a side kick to the front of the guard’s left knee. The knee popped as the ligaments and tendons ripped. Blake watched with vengeful satisfaction as it sent his assailant to the floor withering in pain as he clawed for his weapon.
Still on the ground, Blake spun around and kicked the weapon out of reach. He heel kicked the man in the kidneys twice. He lifted his leg and dropped it down on the man’s chest. The guard’s eyes were wide as he gasped for air. Blake lifted his leg once more and drove his heel down on the man’s throat and crushed his windpipe. The guard was sprawled on the floor and grasped his neck. Blood gurgled out of his mouth. Blake got to his knees and slid in behind the man’s head. With both hands, he twisted hard to the right, snapping it. Blake looked up. There was no other movement around the room.
He stood and breathed heavily. Sweat and blood ran down his face. What about the shot? Did anyone hear it?
Floodlights illuminated the room and alarms pierced the once silent night.
Time was not on Blake’s side before more men flooded the room. He wished he had at least a few more to recover from his beating. He bolted over to the general’s desk and rummaged through the drawers. There’s got to be something here. He found a thumb drive and put it into his pocket. Dammit! I’ve got to get to his office! He ran to the door and cracked it enough to see six guards running towards the room. Blake closed the door and locked it. He scrambled for a chair and brought it back to the door and jammed it under the door handle to buy a few precious seconds.
He grabbed his Glock, night-vision glasses, the sub-machine gun and extra ammo from the dead guards and hurried out onto the balcony. It was wide, with stone rails and columns. His breathing still labored. He hid behind the closest column when he heard the dogs’ barks approaching. He peeked out to see them running in the opposite direction, on the far side of the pool. Gotta go, now.
To his right was a copper downpipe. He slid on his backpack and winced from the pain in his ribs. With the rifle slung over his shoulder he grabbed hold of the downpipe and shimmied to the ground. A thick row of bushes provided ample cover.
A quick peek over the shrubs gave him a better clue as to which direction he should go. As he headed toward the west side of the mansion, he heard a thundering crash in the general’s room as the guards burst through the door he’d blocked. Voices were yelling orders in Spanish. He knew they’d ratchet up the search when they discovered the bodies. The meat! He reached into his pack and took out the bag of fresh cut sirloin and scattered it on the ground where he squatted.
As he moved on, he came to the edge of the veranda that looked out over the pool. Two guards stood in the center, in front of the wide glass doors. Both were armed with automatic weapons. I’ve got to get to the other side.
He searched on the ground and found a medium sized stone and tossed it to the other side of the veranda. One of the guards put his hand out to stop the other from speaking and raised his weapon. As they both slowly walked toward where the stone landed, Blake drew his Glock and ran across. His first shot found its target in the side of the farthest guards head. The closet man turned toward Blake and raised his weapon. Blake dropped to his knees and slid while he fired. Two rounds silently split through the second guard’s forehead. His body dropped, rolled down the steps and into the pool. The crystal blue water became stained from the blood seeping from the dead man’s head.
Blake jumped off the opposite side of the veranda. He stayed low to the ground and did his best to stay in the shadows. Now on the western side of the mansion, he was closer to Vasquez’s office. More shrubs along the rear of the house helped his concealment. Voices from two guards kicked Blake’s already pounding heart into overdrive. Quickly dropping to his belly, he waited for them to pass. Both men ran by, unaware of his presence. Wishing he could stay there a moment longer and recover, the barking of the dogs convinced him otherwise. Shit! I hope they find that meat.
Blake crawled along the rear of the house and kept heading west toward the general’s office. Up ahead was another doorway into the house near his intended destination. A lone man stood guard. Dammit! Can’t I catch a little break?
He gingerly removed his backpack and slid out one of the throwing spikes. Couched down, he moved closer and silently to get the perfect angle. When the guard turned away, Blake stood up and threw the spike. It embedded deep into the man’s right kidney.
Before the guards thrashing and bellowing alerted others of his distress, Blake leaped to the portico, grabbed the man’s head and slit his throat. He eased the body into the shadows on the ground. The door was ajar and Blake entered the mansion. To his left was the hall that led to the general’s office. Blake casually walked to the closed double doors so as not to draw attention if the hallway was under electronic surveillance. His all black attire matched those of the guards searching for him.
They were locked. A quick pry with his knife did the trick. After entering the office, Blake sighed a breath of relief.
The night vision glasses once again filled his view with a green hue. At the general’s desk he found a few folders full of worthless papers. Another flash drive sat in a drawer. He shook his head and scanned the room. Where’s his damn laptop? There’s gotta be a safe in here somewhere.
Blake felt for a button under the edge of the desk. A bead of sweat, mixed with blood dropped onto the blotter. He wiped his brow with his arm. Behind him he pulled books off the shelf and looked for a hidden panel. He flipped up the pictures, but found nothing. Voices outside the door made him freeze; his finger ready on the trigger of the H&K. They faded and he exhaled. Fuck—me. He swept the room with his eyes. Where would I keep it? They stopped on the statue of the horse. Gotcha.
The statue was bolted to a large slab of granite. It had real horse hair for the mane and tail. The saddle was a scale model of the one the general used and was made of leather. Blake felt under the belly, the saddle, in the horse’s ears and under the mane. He felt back behind the horse’s thighs and up the rear. Dammit. Where is it? Blake lifted the tail, found the indentation of where the horse’s asshole would be and found the button.
Allowing a quiet chuckle, he smiled. I’ll be damned.
He pressed the button, heard a click and saw the saddle move slightly. With a slight pull on the underside of the saddle, it opened on its hidden hinges and was soon sitting upside down, resting on the horse’s side. Inside was the door of the safe. He hadn’t the time, nor the inclination to try and crack it.
Blake glanced at the door and listened for anyone coming while he removed a roll of high-yield primer cord and a blasting cap from his pack. He wrapped the cord three times around the edges of the door where it met the body of the safe and inserted the blasting cap. Detonator in hand, Blake moved to the other side of the room and ducked behind a couch with his finger on the button. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Well, they’ll know where I’m at now.
The blast, which was concentrated on the door of the safe, peeled back the sides of the bronze statue like and onion. The smoke and heat sensors in the room immediately set off the alarms. Blake rushed to the smoking statue, opened the door and removed all of its contents, including a laptop, and shoved them into his backpack as fast as his arms would move. Voices and footsteps filled the hallway outside the office as they ran to the room.
Gotta move, gotta move. From his bag, he removed one of the mines and set the timer to fifteen seconds before chucking it to the middle of the room. He picked up a bust of Fidel Castro off of a table and threw it through the rear window of the office. The guards were just outside the room as he jumped through the window and out onto the west lawn of the estate.
A quick roll onto his shoulder and then immediately to his feet. He sprinted the short distance to the massive garage and got to the door just as the mine exploded. Screams of several men filled the air. The heat from the blast warmed his back as it rolled out the window. The door to the garage closed behind him and he looked up as he heard debris from the explosion pepper the garage roof.
Inside the garage were a menagerie of vehicles; from motorcycles to Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Blake could hear shouting and the footsteps of more guards as they closed in on the garage. “Look in the garage!”
Shit! Blake’s eyes darted back and forth inside the building. Shit, where is it? Finally, he found the car he hoped would be there; the bulletproofed AMG Mercedes CLS.
As Blake approached the car, the side door burst open and guards opened fire. Shielded by the car, Blake returned fire with the H & K and sent the guards diving back outside. Blake got into the Mercedes, hit the start button and nothing happened. Yeah, I didn’t think you’d keep the key in here. You had to make things more difficult for me didn’t you?
Three guards were hunched over as they carefully stepped back in. They fired. Bullets ricocheted off the glass and trunk of the Mercedes. The window of the Ferrari next to him shattered. Blake unzipped a pocket in his bag and retrieved a small box. He reached under the dash and connected it to the ODB port and turned it on. As it ran through its sequencing, he shot a glare to the guards as they cautiously made their way closer to him.
The small screen on the box was lit: Step 1… Step 2… Step 3…. His adrenaline pumped as his head turned on a swivel looking out all of the windows at the approaching men. Come on dammit! Hurry up!
The welcoming sound of a chime made Blake turn his attention away from the guards. The screen read, Start Car. He pressed the start button. The forceful V-8 roared to life. He pulled out another mine and set the timer for five seconds. He rolled down the window and tossed it through the shattered window of the Ferrari. Blake floored the pedal and burst through the garage door just as the mine erupted into a brilliant ball of flame.