April 7, 2028
Safe House Runway, London, England
The bleak early morning in London was not a comfort to anyone. Menacing grey clouds shrouded every inch of the once beautiful sky. The sun’s rays could not penetrate the foreboding weather. It felt like a curse to those who stepped outside, one that could or would betray them within a mere instant. Captain Ira Byrne and his squad walked out of the confined underground bunker. They breathed in the fresh, bitter air. A few yards away, General Allen was in a deep discussion with two pilots as they studied a map.
“Ah,” Allen greeted as he noticed his team exit the underground. “Captain Byrne, we were just talking about this. There has been a change in the plans. You and your group are departing in two hours.”
“Two hours?” the captain’s shocked expression reflected on to his fellow’s faces, “Sir, I thought the whole idea of leaving in the evening was so our arrival would go unnoticed?”
“That was the intention,” Matthew nodded thoughtfully, “but we just received word from our men in Hamburg. It is storming like hell over there; with the clouds, rain, and thunder it will be darker and louder so your cover will work. You still need to enter through the moat; the stronghold is surrounded by it, except for a single bridge, but that is kept under twenty-four hour surveillance.”
Byrne still had doubts, but through discipline, he was able to conceal them. Instead, he turned his attention to the two men with whom Allen was speaking.
“Captain, this is Senior Airman Gibson and First Class Airman Hart. They are the best for this particular job and are willing to help.”
The men shook hands earnestly and each expressed a small grin. In this current and dark time, they knew to make friends whenever possible.
The general went on, “I suggest you all get ready. You are departing in two hours, or sooner if possible.”
The seven men marched diligently back underground and into the small armory. The pilots went over to the short wave radios and conversed quietly until one of the team members, Chris Ayers, also known as Oak, broke the silence as he slammed a full cartridge of ammunition into his side arm.
“Pie is right. If we are compromised, snipers and pistols won’t be enough. You saw the blue prints. Six dozen guards against five men?”
“We just need to play it by ear and stay calm," Ira responded stoically. He looked to the pilots for reassurance. “If we are compromised, will you be able to help?”
Gibson half glanced at his partner, then back at Ira, “We will be able to. Here are ear phones; we’ll be able to hear you from miles away.”
Hart handed out small security earpieces and said in a slow voice, “We’ll be within forty kilometers. We have a belly-mounted Gatling gun and, if we need it, there’s a machine gun on the loading ramp.”
“Thank you,” Ira said warmly even though his voice was hollow.
He and his team inserted the earpieces snugly. The men tested their only form of communication.
Once ready, they organized and gathered their ammunition and arms and made their way back to the runway where they boarded the Osprey.
Just as the engine turned over, the team heard, “Men.”
Allen walked briskly to the large bird. Ira, who had one foot on the large ramp at the rear of the aircraft, halted and turned around.
“This is a dangerous mission and I just want to wish you good luck and a safe flight.”
“Thank you, Matthew.” The team leader managed a genuine smile to his superior and longtime friend.
The general and captain shook hands briefly before the bird took off.
Allen stepped back and watched the craft disappear in to the threatening storm clouds. He started to head underground when he stopped and turned again to look at the cloud coverage with higher hopes than yesterday and the years preceding.
“Godspeed, men. And Ira, let's hope you keep your wits about you,” he gravely humored himself as his mind once again fell on the prisoner.