Warm salty air flows over the windshield and fills the cockpit with the fragrance of the open sea. Far into the distance the tops of the thunderstorms are illuminated by constant flashes of lightning; better than any 4th of July fireworks. Nikki lies comfortably on the divan in a half sleep and wearing only her bikini bottom, I marvel at her body. Never able to get her out of my mind, I decide to go with the fact – I am in love with her.
Meanwhile, the plan came together faster than either one of us anticipated. Nikki was prepared, all her weapons and clothing had been packed ahead of time, ready to go on a moment’s notice, the mark of a consummate professional.
I decided to take my trusty Colt Python with the 2½ inch barrel; although heavy, the weight is offset by the lethality of six 357 magnum hollow points. My revolver is stuffed into the cargo pocket of my Kitanica combat shorts in striking blue. My best Hawaiian shirt is untucked at the waist allowing me to get to the revolver with little fuss. I have several color felt tip pens in my white plastic pocket protector, which sports a logo stating, “Harold’s Septic Service, Flush Without Worry.”
When we boarded the Asp, Colonel Sky’s demeanor had softened considerably. The gravity of the mission registered with him. He may never see us again, and for what – a plan to move the Mind to a different place in the Universe – how strange is that?
Our navigation monitors flicker with activity and the Asp changes course to the south, while the GPS switches to a larger magnification. The threat assessment registers low; no traffic interferes with our new course.
The change in heading wakes Nikki, she takes the seat next to me at the helm. “How close are we?”
“About a half hour out, the last ten miles will put us into the inlet and the Sea of Cortes. I will have to slow down or we will attract attention.”
Nikki touched my arm, “I’ll go below, dress and get my weapons ready just in case of a trap; this is going too smoothly to be true.”
“I thought this was going to be a piece of cake?”
“So far it is going as advertised but fair dealing with Governments can’t be relied upon,” she replied and descended into the narrow companionway to the command and control space below.
Angel appeared unannounced to take Nikki’s place next to me at the helm. I assumed that she was either hiding on the Asp, in Silvio Caro, or both, simultaneously. I learned from Angel, time as I know it, does not apply to her.
“How’s it hanging Captain?” she asked, sarcastically.
I shrugged off her remark and asked. “Do you have any idea how this is going to go down? I would like to have some reassurance that I will get the information I need to move the Mind.”
“All in due time, Lover Boy, all in due time. Trust the Universe, your intuition and us angels, what is supposed to happen will happen. The Universe wants this plan to work and I will do my best for you.” Angel stretched and made like she was removing a bikini top. “Of course, you know this is not about you personally, so find a way to get the scientific information to Key West. And by the by, we will always be together, but maybe not in this life.”
My heart sank. “I was hoping for more.”
Whoosh! – Angel disappeared – a short moment before Nikki reappeared.
Nikki wore her Kitanica WASP cargo pants and my favorite safari shirt, several sizes too large. The extra room covered two pistols, one under her arm and one tucked in the small of her back. She strapped on her holster. I surmised it held the FN 5.7-28 painted in desert camo, the one she wouldn’t let me fire back at the range. She had sturdy lace-up shoes in place of the sandals she usually wore; I sensed she was ready for any hostile action.
“What’s the matter with you, you look a little pale, like you’ve seen a ghost?” Nikki asked, in a concerned tone of voice. Without waiting for my answer, Nikki went to one of the gun lockers strategically placed along the inside walls of the hull above the deck. She retrieved two 6.8 mm automatic rifles and extra clips; she fastened the weapons upright to the rails along the hull, ready for use on a moment’s notice.
Normal operations of this type never warrant a lesser caliber, testing in real combat environments indicated the 6.8 mm was far superior if you wanted a quick and deadly resolution to a fire fight. The caliber was chosen by the Israelis’ and the Saudis’ for Close Combat operations. The Saudis’ gold plated them for use in guarding the royal family.
She sat beside me.
“When we get back from this mission at Silvio Caro I want you to take me; not gently. I want you to kick it up a notch! And I may slap you around a little, you should know that’s how I work out my frustrations. A few bruises, some blood, nothing that will be permanent. I need to be aggressive to get off in a big way. Please persevere in accommodating my needs; don’t wimp out, it’s important to me!”
“Do you mean the sex with me hasn’t been satisfying?” I asked, hurtfully.
“You’ve been good at making love, but I need to have it a little rougher to get over my anger. Rough sex will be an incentive and a reward for completing this mission.” She patted me on the back and took off down the companionway and below.
I had to think the exchange over. I really thought I had been a good lover, sensitive to her needs while adjusting my timing to keep her satisfied. We had varied the positions and acted playfully as very few lovers ever do. Besides, it wasn’t me who initiated the start of our sexual relationship.
Stop thinking about her remark; soon we’ll be in a risky and hostile place. Focus on the job, focus on the job, focus on the job.
As usual, my brain began to wander. Why is life like this? Just when I am feeling good about myself and my abilities something comes along to knock me back. Dammit, I should have kept my relationship with Nikki on a professional level.
Nikki came back to the helm and took the navigator’s seat next to me. Her confidence that we would get the job done and survive, lifted my spirits.
“Sometime tonight, they are going to try to assassinate us and the others. I can’t let that happen,” Nikki said. “I love you like I have never loved any man. Please forgive me but when I tell you to go, you must run to this boat, get the hell out of Cuba and into the open water. Use the missiles, and the electronic countermeasures and anything else including the JATO to save yourself. Understand?”
I could hardly believe what she said to me. I nodded affirmatively.
Nikki held my head in both hands, kissed me and said, “I love you.”
Within 3 seconds of her loving gesture, she became a different person, reverting to the cold-blooded killer she spent her lifetime becoming. I found Nikki’s love can be off again and on again in a moment’s notice.
I decided not to tell Nikki about the second application on the laptop, the one that showed the players and their positions around the meeting house. That information might give me the edge I need to get the thumb drives, and get them back to the Cause. It is a selfish thought, but it may save the mission at the expense of Nikki and the others. If I can warn her in time without compromising the mission, I will.
“Look, this is going to work out for both of us. The Governments will get their money and we will get the information we are being paid for,” I said with unusual conviction.
The Asp slewed to the west, a new window opened in the Nav screen showing the inlet into the bay at Silvio Caro.
“Let’s forget what might happen and trust ourselves that we can complete this mission and get home alive. Here is the entrance to the inlet, I’ll steer us in, keep an eye out for obstacles and let me know if you see any threats.”
I put the future out of my mind and concentrated on navigating the turbulent entrance into the bay. The sea and currents were worse than I anticipated. I switched the Asp to auto-pilot and let the electronics control the boat as I directed the course to keep the Asp aligned with the stipulated route to the meeting place.
“The depth is good on this course,” Nikki stated. “I will call out any differences I see verses the programmed route.”
The ride smoothed out, we moved steadily to our destination.
“We didn’t even get wet, all that turbulence. The Asp adjusted on its own to keep us steady, what a boat. Maybe I can buy it when we get back, I could take you to some quiet place, we can make love any way you want,” including rough sex, I added to myself.
Nikki ignored my comment. Our screens switched to higher magnification, the dock at the meeting house appeared on the Nav screen.
“That’s the place, I’m switching my screen to night vision,” Nikki said. “Ah, oh! Look at those heat signatures, there seems to be a whole army waiting for us.”
My blood ran cold, I looked at Nikki’s screen, she was right, armed personnel were around the dock and the meeting building.
“Here is where the rubber meets the road!” I exclaimed.
I maintained a slow and steady speed along the assigned route. When we were abeam the dock, I used the joy stick to rotate the Asp so it pointed in the direction we had come from. Using the steering jets, I jostled the Asp sideways to the dock. Flood lights came on and illuminated us.
“Smart move heading the Asp back out,” Nikki said in a low tone of voice. “Be ready to hit the throttles if this is a trap, I’ll cover our retreat.”
I maneuvered the Asp and popped the cleats, while armed men came out of the shadows with fenders and ropes. A handsome man in a military dress uniform stepped up to the Asp and extended his hand in greeting. Perfectly attired with gold braids and campaign bars, shiny medals adorned his wide, brutish chest. He exuded the confidence befitting his rank of senior officer.
“Welcome Nikki,” he said in a commanding voice. “Nice to see you again after all these years, you are just as beautiful as ever. Give me your hand.”
“Who is Cluck-Cluck Colonel Sanders?” I asked, under my breath.
“You mean I have been sleeping with a married woman?”
“For you?” Nikki whispered. “What else is new?”
I heard her reply, but I was diverted with surveying the dock and surrounding area. Well behind us in the shadows, a seaplane was tied farther to the west side of the dock.
Funny, this all seems so familiar. Where have I seen this before?
(To be continued…)