The Mercenary :: Brazil

Keith peeked out from under his lean-to in the Brazilian jungle. After Rome, SAD had sent a grab team to Madrid and snatched the ULA cell leader, Cortez. He gave them all kinds of information. One item of particular interest was mention of a training base in Brazil. So now Keith was in the middle of the rainforest. Cortez hadn’t known, or at least hadn’t told, the exact location of the base, only the general area, so Keith had to find it on his own. He had been searching in a weaving pattern for two days and his fur was grimy and matted with mud and sweat from the exertion. The day before, Keith had come across a small road and he was now paralleling it off to one side. It appeared to have been used by a number of trucks recently, but he did not one see or hear anyone on it now. Keith crawled out of his shelter and got to his feet. He stretched briefly, then packed up his little camp. When that was finished, he removed an energy bar from his pack and ate it as breakfast. As he was eating, he checked his map. He was nearing the center of the grid area in which the base was supposed to be located and dodged a few patrols, so he was convinced he was getting close. Within an hour, he spotted another patrol and ducked into a mass of undergrowth until it passed. He pulled himself out of the bushes, brushed himself off, and continued. Just a few minutes later, his foot struck wood. He brushed aside the grass, revealing a trap-door. Keith had considered the possibility of an underground complex, but had not thought is very likely. He quickly scanned his surroundings, and opened it. It opened into a shaft about 20 feet deep with a ladder on one side and light at the end, so Keith began climbing down, closing the trap above him. About halfway down, gunfire rang out. Keith froze. Automatic weapons fire sounded beneath him again, then again. Keith realized he was listening to a firing range, started breathing again, and resumed climbing. A few feet from the end, Keith stopped to listen. His ears told him that the firing range was not directly beneath him, but there were a few men in the room that was. They sounded like they were occupying themselves with some sort of entertainment. Keith thought about his options for a moment, unslung his Sig 552 with one hand, and then let go of the ladder. As he fell clear of the shaft, he saw four men sitting and standing around a table. One of them saw Keith falling, and started at the sight. The others turned to see what the commotion was just as Keith landed. He dropped fluidly into a firing position and strafed them right to left, two rounds each. Each round hit and the four men fell. Unfortunately, one tensed as he collapsed, clenched his fist, and discharged his weapon, riddling the ceiling with a burst of submachine gun fire.

Keith cursed under his breath and analyzed his situation. There were two tunnels coming into the room he was in. One in front of him, and one to his left. He could hear men shouting, picking up weapons, and running so he overturned the table to provide concealment from both angles. He knew the wood wouldn’t stop a bullet, but it could hide him from sight, so he ducked behind it and listened. Just moments later, he heard a troop running up the tunnel in front of him. He broke cover, shot the first in the head, and laid down a base of fire on the rest. Of these, one managed to duck back around the corner. Keith charged after him, reloading. He turned the corner into a room just as a group of guards came in on the other side. They were surprised and Keith took advantage of their momentary confusion to open fire. He strafed them at chest level and they fell before they could return fire. Keith stuffed his spent magazines back into his bandoleer, and then moved from room to room, clearing the complex. Keith passed through a communications room, an armory, and the firing range he had heard earlier. After a few minutes of dashing from room to room, laying fire into anyone he saw there, he found himself back where he began. He didn't hear any movement so he made another sweep of the area to make sure. Convinced that the area was secure, Keith ran to the communications room. He grabbed papers, books, and anything important looking and stuffed them into his backpack. He made a note of the channels the radios were set to, and set off for the armory. There, he counted the weapons and ordinance by type, and noted it on a scrap of paper. He took a block of C4 and placed it next to the ammunition cases, and another on a pile of rocket propelled grenades. Keith had planned on destroying the training camp from the start and brought ten blocks of C4 for the purpose. He enjoyed a good explosion. He placed two more in the communications center and one in each of the remaining rooms. He wired them to a timed detonator in the shaft room, set it for three minutes, and clambered up the ladder with a fury. He reached the top in about thirty seconds and high tailed it away from the area. At two minutes he stopped and hit the dirt. There were still patrols in the jungle, and Keith wanted to be thorough. After a very long ninety seconds, there was a deep rumble, quickly followed by a massive explosion. The C4 placed in the armory had set off the stockpiles of explosives stored there, which magnified the fireworks. As the thunder died down, Keith uncovered his ears and heard what he expected. The patrols were running full-tilt back to the recent location of the base. Keith ran back as well, but stopped at the newly cut tree line. He watched as three patrols crashed into the new clearing and stood staring, stupefied into the crater that yawned up at them. Keith seized this opportunity and lobbed over a grenade. It went off in the back of the group and killed four of the nine soldiers outright. He gunned the rest down before they figured out what was happening. His business concluded, Keith ran back to where he had stashed his vehicle. The distance had taken him two days to cover on the search, but now, with caution

behind him, Keith covered the distance in three hours. He heard a few helicopters pass over, but the jungle canopy hid him completely and he did not slow. He reached his jeep and floored it back to the city. Two hours later, Keith opened the door to his hotel room. He dropped his backpack just inside the door and stripped off his filthy jacket with it. He went straight to the TV and turned it to the news. Unlike Mogadishu, where no one had noticed his activity, or Rome, where the situation had been covered but Keith’s involvement had not, this was on every news station he found. Keith now got a really good look at the crater he had made and was more than a little pleased with it. He also listened to the speculation of the commentators and was mildly amused by how wrong they had everything. After a while of watching reporters babble, Keith left the TV running and booted up his laptop. He logged on and started talking to the SAD liaison officer. They were delighted with the outcome of the mission. They told Keith that the local news groups would find nothing to suggest outside involvement, and the incident would be passed of as a strike from one drug gang on another. The camp’s proximity to Columbia made this a very believable story. Keith forwarded him his notes from the communications room and the armory, noting that the ULA was very well equipped and organized. He also told the liaison about the road and its recent use. The officer agreed with Keith’s assertion that a sizable unit had trained at the camp and left not long ago. SAD's signals intelligence section would try to find out what the ULA was up to and notify Keith when they did. Keith was happy with that arrangement. He signed off and went to clean himself up. He had spent three days in the hot, humid jungle and his fur was matted and absolutely filthy. He got the shower water hot as he undressed. He now was able to fully assess the condition of his fur. It disgusted him. Mattes were everywhere, and he couldn't find an inch without grime or filth of some sort dirtying it. Once the water was hot enough for his liking, he stepped in and began cleaning himself. This turned out to be quite an endeavor as it took the better part of an hour to clean the offending matter from his fur and almost as long to dry it off enough to work with. It took Keith another full hour to untangle all the mattes. He then spent thirty minutes in front of a fan drying it all off. By the time he was finished it was night. He had been out in the heat for three days and every minute of it had been physically and mentally strenuous. Keith was very tired, so he hauled himself onto the bed, and unceremoniously passed out.

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