Takedown--A Nitrous Racing Story

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Takedown--A Nitrous Racing Story

Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:04 am

Intro & Prologue

When I first started writing my Nitrous Racing-inspired stories, one of the films that I used as inspiration was Michael Mann's 2006 film, Miami Vice. I asked myself, 'What if we combined the East Coast swagger of Vice with the West Coast swagger of Velo City? Well, this story pays homage to the question........... ;)
So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! ;)

.................two years ago, Velo City private investigator Matthew Little walked away from the criminal life, vowing never to return. But when a meet-and-greet drug meeting goes badly, the Feds ask for local assistance......when his wife agrees to work undercover for them, he volunteers as well, knowing the inherent risks. it soon becomes clear that not only is nothing what it seems, but the consequences could bring everything he's ever known crashing down on him.............

(October 2011)

The pair sat quietly, nervously, in a vacant parking lot just east of Reseda Blvd., in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. They sat there in a tricked-out Hummer H2, the warm Santa Ana winds blowing lightly from the north. The lights of cars traveling down Reseda could be seen passing back and forth, but the pair ignored them. They were waiting for someone. Both were FBI agents, formerly of the bureau’s Street Racing Task Force but now assigned to a joint narcotics task force, which had agents from several different agencies. FBI, DEA, Customs; it was a quilt-board of different groups. The older of the two, sitting in the passenger seat, looked at his partner and sighed. “I wish they’d get here. We’ve been waiting for one ******* hour.”

“Relax, Sam. They’ll be here.” No sooner had he said that then several cars, mostly import tuners and muscle cars, drove into the parking lot. Parking opposite the H2, one flashed their lights several times in quick succession. That was the signal for the pair to get out; as they did, several men, including a tall man with a goatee, baseball cap and what looked like a perpetual smirk on his face. Everyone met at the center of the lot; one of the agents carried a small duffel bag full of money.

“Glad you could make it, fellows,” said the man with the smirk.
“Anytime we can do business is a good time,” the older agent said. “So, what d’ya got?”

“We got anything you want, gentlemen,” the smirk said, reeling off a list of drugs before tossing a sample to the agents. “Blackjet Tar from Mexico. 92 percent pure,” he said as one agent tasted it to make sure it was what they said it was, adding, “Not like that jumped-on **** they sell down in the Harbor.” Everyone laughed at the man’s snarkish humor. “It’s good, it’s good ****. We’ll take it,” the older agent said.

“You got the green?,” Smirk asked.
“Hey, we got the green, my friend,” the older agent said, taking a stack of 100s’ from the duffel bag and tossing it over to Smirk, who ran a counterfeiting pen over several of the bills to make sure it wasn’t fake. "What, you ain't ever seen green before?," the man said, smiling at his friend. Satisfied, the smirkish man placed it in a jacket pocket. “You got the green, we got the goods. We party,” he said, the smirk on his face even more pronounced. “Will’ll call you in the morning, set up the time and place for the deal.” As he said that, a man with a beard spoke into a radio. Unbeknownst to the two agents, the man was telling a pair of snipers located several hundred meters away on a set of rooftops to get ready to fire.

As the meeting concluded, everyone shook hands and began walking back to their cars. Just as the two agents got to their H2, Smirk called out to them. “Hey, Sammy!,” Smirk called over to them. The older agent turned to him as Smirk added, “How long have you and Carpenter been working for the FBI?” That was the signal. The two snipers opened up on them, firing their assault rifles in a rapid staccato. The agents didn’t stand a chance as nearly two dozen bullets shredded them; death was near-instantaneous. Once the firing had stopped, Smirk walked over to them and took the duffel bag, leaving their shattered corpses lying around the H2, which sported over a dozen entry holes from all the firing. As the cars drove off, the sounds of sirens could be heard in the distance, their wails echoing in the night air.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:05 am

Chapter 1

(same night, Zero Degrees Nightclub)
They say Velo City has five million stories to be told..... To be fair, the city’s broad expanse has something to do with it, but I’ve always thought it was the people and places instead. The Taravel District was no exception. Only the broad expanse of nightclubs and bars in Hollywood and West Hollywood could rival the Taravel for the excitement and glamour they brought to the city of angels. At the center of the Taravel was one of Velo’s crown jewels, Zero Degrees. Home to Exotic Ice Customs, one of the city’s three major street racing clubs, Zero Degrees carried a tempo all its’ own.

Inside, the club was full of patrons and both the first and second-level dance floors were packed. Meanwhile, I was enjoying a round of drinks with my friends; it’d been a busy week with four races and EIC had done well, winning three of four. I sat back and took a long drag of bourbon from my glass as several others at the table continued talking. All the regulars were there; Mike Smith, as always, was discussing his latest conquest with another EIC member, Michael Brewer. Close friend Mike Chevalier and his wife, Sarah, were talking with fellow EIC member Annie Luckett; about what, I had no idea. Rhino, as usual, was being his irrepressible self. As for me, I just sat back and watched the conversations going on when I felt someone’s arm slide around my back. Looking over, I smiled at the woman whose arm was around me. “What took you so long?,” I said with a grin, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Oh, nothing. Just had to change clothes, that’s all,” Kelsey said. A knockout of a beauty, Kelsey was dressed in jeans, a black pullover blouse and leather jacket, topped with a small, beige-brown Swiss Kepi. Around her neck was a light metal chain which held her VCPD lieutenant’s badge. She kept a second one which also held her department ID in a small purse. It’d been an interesting week for her as well; her command, the Open/Unsolved Unit, had been covering for the department’s Narcotics Division while their detectives were going through a quarterly round of refresher training. As she sat down, I said, “You look stunning as always, babe.”

“Matt, you always say that,” she replied, to which I replied back, “I only say it ‘cause it’s true. You are stunning, my love.” That brought a slight blush to Kelsey’s face. Seeing her blush, I added, “Oh, look. A blushing cop,” which got me an elbow for my wit. Turning to Rhino, I asked him, “So, how’s that victory at Manzanita feel? Congrats, by the way,” tipping my bourbon glass to him in respect.

“It feels great,” he said, holding a large bottle of Monster up in return. “I just wish you wouldn’t be so hard on me when we’re working on the car–“

”Now how were we hard on you, Rhino?,” I said, winking at Kelsey. “I only said we’d work with you to win–“

”Yeah, and if I lost, she’d drop-kick me into the heart of South Velo, Matt,” he jokingly replied.

“That would be cruel, Kelsey,” I finished, drawing a laugh from everyone. “Not to Rhino.....it’d be cruel to whatever pool or hot-tub he landed in,” which drew another round of laughs. As we settled down to talk, Kelsey’s cell rang. I couldn’t tell if anything was wrong......that is, until Kelsey made a beeline for the stairs and headed up towards the third floor and the roof, her face knotted with worry. Snapping my fingers towards Chevalier, the two of us got up and followed Kelsey. We got to the rooftop heliport as she finished her conversation. By the looks of it, something was wrong. “What’s up?”

“I just got a call from an old informant I used to work with up in Devonshire, Zavia Tate. He says he didn’t give me up. To who, he didn't say and that he was leaving the city. He sounded very upset and very worried; that's not like him at all. Something's very wrong, Matt.”

“Didn’t give you up on what........,” I asked.

“I don’t know, but I know from our CI logs he's been working with the Feds,” she replied, dialing another number from memory. After a few moments, all of us heard someone’s voice on the other end. “FBI, Velo City.”

“I need to speak to your SAC, please,” Kelsey replied, her face still full of concern. A couple of moments later a gruff-sounding voice came on the line. "Deputy Director Barnhart, FBI. Who am I speaking with?"

"Lieutenant Kelsey Little, VCPD. I just had an informant, someone working with your people call me on. You may have a problem which is coming down right now--"

"What's wrong?"

"A C.I. we cut loose to your task force, name of Zavia Tate. Now, he's your informant. Tate just called me a few moments ago. No one in the department's spoken to him for the past six months or so....."

"How am I supposed to discuss operations over an open phone?"

"How do I know? I got the call over an open phone line. That is the hand we have been dealt tonight at," pausing to look at her watch, "ten-thirteen. Now, we know this guy. Normally, he is cool. Tonight he is distraught. He is upset. That tells me something bad is going down. Now, I don’t know what you guys have got going on, but whatever it is, it is going bad and by the sound of my CI, it is going bad right now.”

As she spoke to the SAC, I got on my own cell and called a friend of mine who worked in SIS. “Hey, Neil, it’s Matt. Listen, did you guys ever put a transponder on an Aston Martin DBR belonging to a Zavia Tate?” As I waited, Mike asked, “What’s going on, guys?” Raising a finger as if to say, “Wait,” I heard Neil confirm that there was a transponder; my next reply was, “Turn it on as a favor to me, alright?”

Closing my cell, I turned back to the now animated conversation Kelsey and the FBI office were having. We could hear Barnhart's voice over the cell phone......“It was a preliminary meet-‘n’-greet–“

”What, you flash me yours, I’ll flash you mine,” I snorted derisively.

“Who’s that?,” Barnhart asked. Ignoring him, Kelsey continued on. “What, no HRT weapons unit out there?", referring to the Bureau's elite SWAT team.

"Correct. Deal goes down another time, another place........what did your CI tell you, Lieutenant?"

“He said he didn’t give me up to whoever found out your guys were Feds, and that he was going in the wind and you were on your own.” Closing the cell abruptly, she stormed back off the heliport, into the club, muttering something under her breath. I knew that look on her face as she walked back into the club; it was a look of anger that could've burned a hole through armor plating. It was also the kind of look that said whatever plans we had this night had just gone up in smoke.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:05 am

Chapter 2

****on the 101 freeway heading west****
After a quick discussion with Mike Chevalier and Mike Smith, Kelsey and I headed out to try to catch up with Zavia. It didn’t take long; up above us, a VCPD helicopter was following along, its’ light illuminating Tate’s Aston Martin. Flooring the accelerator, our Aero finally caught up to him passing 100mph. Getting alongside him, Kelsey leaned over and started yelling at him. “Zavia, pull over! Pull over!!” It took a little while; from the driver’s side, I couldn’t see much but what I did see told me Zavia was extremely nervous, scared, or both. Eventually, he pulled over onto the shoulder of the 101 just before the 170 interchange. As we got out of the Aero, we could see Zavia already out of his Aston Martin. His clothes were disheveled and there were zip-ties around his wrists. He looked like someone had done a number on him. As we walked towards him, he yelled out, “Get back, get back!”

“What’s wrong, Zavia?,” Kelsey asked.
He stuttered for a moment, then calmed down enough to talk. “I don’t know, Kelsey. I–I fronted their undercover guys to this cartel, like I’ve done in the past.” He got a little frantic as he continued, “They knew one of them was a Fed; they knew I knew.......I gotta’ go, Kelsey!” He started to walk away.

“Hey, wait,” I yelled to him. “Wait!”
“I gotta’ go, man. I gotta’ get to the airport, get out of the city.......” He started to ramble a bit; I walked towards him, which caused him to calm down a bit. Kelsey took over the conversation then. “What’s going on, Zavia?,” she asked in a calm voice. “Lay it from the top.”

As traffic on the 101 whizzed inches away from us, Zavia laid out the whole sequence of events for us. “Six, seven months back, these Feds come and ask me to help them with this task force of theirs’. Something about drug trafficking out of Mexico into Velo City. They said they’d cleared my help with you guys,” nodding towards Kelsey, “and all I had to do was front their undercover guys to this cartel’s people here in Velo City.”
“How’d they know they were Feds?”

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice breaking with fear and fatigue. “They knew one of them was a Fed five, six weeks ago but they kept stringing us along. I shoulda’ walked away then, but I couldn’t. Then this afternoon a couple of their thugs come to my house,” raising his arms up, “and beat the holy f*cking crap out of me! They wanted to know everything, Kelsey..........I gave them up. I gave them up......” his voice finally cracking.

“It’s alright, man,” Kelsey said to him, trying to calm him down. “It’s alright,” she kept saying as I stood and watched the traffic continue to pass by. After what seemed like forever, Zavia calmed down enough to where Kelsey could walk back to the Aero. As she grabbed her cell and made a few calls, I sat down on the concrete shoulder next to him. “You going to be alright? You need a place to stay?” He nodded; he now looked exhausted and spent, but still nervous. I got out my cell and dialed Zero’s number. One of the barstaff answered; I said, “Get me Bulletproof,” waiting for EIC’s head of security to come on the line. When he got on the line, I asked him, “Do we still have those apartments behind Zero Degrees?”

As I talked to him, I flashed a thumbs-up to Zavia. He smiled briefly and seemed to calm down some more. Closing my cell, I sat back and waited for Kelsey to finish on her end when suddenly Zavia started to stand up. As I got up, he turned, as if to say something, but before either of us could say a word, he walked onto the freeway right into the path of an eighteen-wheeler. Both of us turned away from the gruesome sight as we heard the semi’s brakes screech down the highway, a bloody trail in its’ wake. For several moments Kelsey and I just stood there, horrified at what had just occurred; traffic slowed down to avoid the semi but I just kept staring at the long bloody trail along the freeway.

***ninety minutes later, Downtown Velo City***
After being interviewed by CHP troopers for what seemed to be forever, Kelsey and I headed back into Velo City, towards Tate’s last known address in the heart of Mid-City. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any stranger, the Bluetooth in the Aero chirped. Checking the number, Kelsey answered; it was her boss, RHD Commander Chris Egan. “Where are you at, Kelsey?”

“Couple of blocks from Tate’s address on S. Bronson near 17th Street,” she replied.
“Turn around,” came the abrupt reply.

“Why, Commander,” Kelsey retorted. “Zavia was a good friend of mine and a trusted CI–“
”Turn around. I’ll explain later. Meet me in the parking structure next to St. Vincent’s Hospital.” The connection abruptly cut off and I looked over at her, asking, “What was that all about?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” Doing a Texas U-turn there on S. Bronson, it was a quick trip up to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Driving around behind the hospital, I parked the Aero on the third level of the garage. As we got out, a large sedan flashed its’ lights. As we walked over, two broad-shouldered men got out of the sedan and walked towards a concrete stanchion. We soon joined them. As soon as we reached the pair, Commander Egan pointed to the other man. “He needs to talk to you, Kelsey,” he said.

The other man introduced himself. “I’m Deputy Director Barnhart; I spoke to you on the phone earlier.” This got Kelsey started.
“So, this was your operation? What, you get some amateurs involved in something they couldn’t handle? What the hell were you thinking–“
”I lost two agents–“
”And our informant–“

”Hey, knock it off! Alright!” Commander Egan spoke abruptly; I looked over at Kelsey. You could see the fire in her eyes; she was ticked off at the Fed. I didn’t blame her; I had little use for the Feds as well. When the tension eased, Barnhart continued. “This was an inter-agency operation; FBI, DEA, Customs. The leak coulda' come from any one of them. I gotta’ assume my operational security’s blown–“

”Blown,” I snorted in derision. “Sir, your op-sec’s about as alive as Michael Jackson right now, okay?”

“So, what was so important you had to use one of our informants?,” Egan asked the Fed.

“Follow me.” The three of us followed him to a wall where he opened up a Panasonic Toughbook laptop. “About a year ago DEA agents started seeing a very high-grade form of heroin coming in from western Mexico. They call it Blackjet Tar on the street. Eight months ago, we started a task-force to try to get a handle on the drug, try to stanch the flow into Velo City. Now, this Blackjet Tar is rumored to be around 90 percent pure; the samples we’ve gotten confirmed the percentage.” I whistled; a kilo of 90 percent pure heroin is worth several hundred thousand on the street, easily worth killing someone over if it got in the wrong hands.

“At first we thought they were bringing it through the Harbor, but we started to pick up indicators that it was coming in over ground from Tijuana through San Diego. Eight weeks ago, our task force found evidence tying the distribution network to this individual,” Barnhart said, bringing up a photo of a tall man with what looked like the biggest, dumbest smirk you could have. “His name is Jason Owens; intel thinks he’s the Sinaloa Cartel’s boss here in Southern California but we’re not certain.”

“So, how do we,” Kelsey asked him, “figure into this?”
“They don’t know you,” Barnhart replied. “VCPD wasn’t part of the task force.”
“So, you want to recruit me,” Kelsey asked, “or us?,” motioning over towards me.

“Preferably both,” Barnhart said. “Yes, I know your husband’s not VCPD but there are some of us in the Bureau who are happy he.....took care of a few of our problems here in the Southland a few months back.” The irony wasn’t lost on any of us over what he said. Egan spoke up then.

“That’s why I didn’t want you going to Tate’s residence, Kelsey. Whoever found out he was working for the Feds might have the place staked out. FBI, Metro and Robbery-Homicide's out there as we speak. If any of them are the leak, I didn't want them to see you there."

“Presuming both of us help,” Kelsey added, “what does this Owens need? Money laundering, transpo–“

”Transpo,” Barnhart said. “The Sinaloa Cartel gets its’ product from both Colombia and Guatemala, transships it through Mexico into the Western U.S. Once in the U.S., it can travel from San Diego all the way up the Pacific Coast to Portland and Seattle.” He pressed a few more buttons; a FLIR video image of several go-fast boats appeared. “This was taken by an Marine Osprey AWACS’ bird out of Camp Pendleton of someone’s go-fast boats running in an Owens load into Velo City.” We watched the video for several seconds until Barnhart closed the laptop. “Anything else?”

None of us said anything; Barnhart thanked us and began to walk to his car. “Sorry for your loss,” I said to him. He turned and nodded, then continued on. The three of us stood there for several long moments before Commander Egan spoke. “What do you think, Kelsey?”

“Matt’s the expert on go-fast boats,” she replied. Looking over, I picked up the conversation. “Whoever’s boats those are, they got some serious skill sets. Two, three cig boats running that close that they look like one.......” Rubbing my forehead for a moment, I added, “There’s one guy in the Harbor that I know runs those kinds of boats on a regular basis. I can talk to him, see if he’ll help us–“

”And if he doesn’t–,“ Egan started to reply.

”Don’t sweat it. He’ll help us,” I said. We soon took off, Egan in a sedan and Kelsey and I in the Aero. As we drove away, I thought to myself, Looks like I’m going to have to walk the criminal life again. Question now is........will I know which way is up when it’s all over?

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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:06 am

Chapter 3

***EIC warehouse, South Velo, a few nights later***
From the outside, there wasn’t much to the non-descript warehouse at the corner of E. Gage and Avalon Blvd. in the northeast corner of South Velo. To the outside world, it looked like another South Velo warehouse. On the inside, it was a whole other world. The expansive warehouse housed a good chunk of EIC’s engineering, computer and intelligence knowhow. EIC hadn’t become one of the great street racing clubs in the Southland by winging it all the time. As the whirr of activity continued, I sat in one of the chairs and watched the computer techs at work.

It was weird to watch them constructing a fictional criminal history for both myself and Kelsey. To be convincing to the Cartel, they were going to have to be impossible to crack. I looked over towards the other end of the room; Kelsey and Commander Egan were talking; about what I had no idea. Sitting in the room with me were some EIC members, all of whom had pensive looks saying, “what the **** are we doing here?”. I didn’t give them much thought; most of the guys from my old crew were in the room; if this was going to work, I was going to need their help. Then I heard a loud cough; all of us got up and walked over to the other end of the room.

Besides myself, Kelsey and Commander Egan were two members of my old crew, Mike Chevalier and Michael Smith. The three of us had pulled some big scores in our past and we still had the skills to survive to go with them. After all the introductions, Egan spoke quietly and quickly.

“Okay, I’ve talked to Barnhart and he’s agreed to let us have a crack at the Sinaloa Cartel. Since his security’s been blown, he doesn’t want to know how you two,” pointing to both Kelsey and me, “do what you do. Know this, though......the minute you guys leave the U.S., you’re on your own. There’ll be no backup, no support. You get into trouble, you’ll have to fight your way out.” As he spoke, someone walked over and handed Egan, myself and Kelsey a set of papers, complete with fictional pasts. I nodded to Billi as she walked by; I took over the conversation.

“Okay, for this to work, we gotta’ look the part, record speaking. I mean, with these records......Kelsey and I get hooked, its’ straight to County in a heartbeat.” Starting with my wife’s record, I began. “Okay, Kelsey......I didn’t you were such a bad-a#%, babe. 2-4 at Chino for aggravated assault, 3 more at Valley State for trafficking cut down from 5-8. Hey, when you were at Chino, didn’t you have a cellie who was a member of the Manson Family?” That got a one-fingered, laughing response from Kelsey and chuckles from Chevalier and Smith. “As for me.......oh, this is nice. 3 visits to the B-wing at Folsom, 8 month stint in the SHU at Pelican Bay during a 4-7 for trafficking and gun-running.” Pausing for a moment, I continued. “After both us of got out, Kelsey and I hooked up on a gun-run from Portland to Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. a few years ago using go-fast boats and we’ve been working ever since.”

“How secure are these?,” Egan asked.
“Billi?” We turned and looked at her. “We’ve run the records three, four times through both state and federal databases. They’re steady,” she said, a smile on her face as she said it.
“That’s good enough,” Egan said. Turning back to us, he added, “So, how are you guys going to infiltrate the cartel?”

Kelsey took over the conversation. “Matt’s got a contact in the Harbor, a man named Colin Manly. Manly runs go-fast loads for the cartel every so often. The Feds have looked at him for years and not gotten an inch from him. He knows Owens and the cartel’s players here and in Mexico. If we can get him to set up the initial meet, that’s our ticket in.”

***next morning, the 405 freeway***
It was a clear, sunny Velo City day as Kelsey and I headed down to the Harbor. Between us in the Aero were a couple of cellphones with cloned SIM cards; I grabbed one and dialed Colin’s number as Kelsey floored the throttle to the floorboard. After a few moments, a man’s voice answered, “Hello?”
“Colin, my friend. How’s life?,” I said.
“Fine, Matt, And you, brother?”
“Fine, fine. Listen, my associate and I,” winking at Kelsey as I spoke, “want to charge up your cash flow some. Hold on.” I slid the cell into a center-panel holder and hit the speaker button. Kelsey continued. “Colin, my ace. I was wondering if you could help us with something......”

***Colin’s residence, Portside***
To say Colin Manly was nervous was an understatement; he was sitting in the living room of his palatial Portside residence in the Harbor District, sweating profusely. Behind the tall, ten-foot windows, you could see cargo ships plying their trades throughout the Harbor and its’ myriad of ship channels. I turned around and got the dance started. “So, Colin, tell us about OC–“

”Will Williams? Do y'all know who he is? He’s a Provo, man, used to work with the AUC down in Colombia, before he became head of the Cartel. He is vertically integrated–“

”What, you mean he walks around with a constant hard-on?,” Kelsey asked in a flippant tone.
“No, his cartel farms, processes, produces–“

”We know what it means,” Kelsey said in turn. She took out a slip of paper and tossed it onto the glass table in front of Colin. “You see that? That paper......,” Kelsey said, leaning down behind Colin. “That’s a no-bail arrest warrant. For you, my ace. You don’t help us.......we call the moment we leave, you get hooked up and go to Men’s Central.” Then Kelsey spoke in a evil stage whisper. I smiled as she continued. “Think about it, Colin. Nice, petite white boy such as yourself, Colin..........Matt, how long do you think it would take for somebody in County to make Colin here their girlfriend?” I chuckled for a moment. You had to give Kelsey mad props for threatening someone in such a devious manner. “I don’t know............frankly, I doubt he’d make it through booking,” I said, an evil smile crossing my face.

Colin blanched at the thought. “Alright, alright. I’ll help. But you gotta’ know, OC won’t deal with you directly. He goes through intermediaries like me. I’ll set up the meet. Wherever he wants the meet to happen, that’s where it’ll happen. But only when you’re on the ground, will he give me the exact location to give to you.” He was still pasty-white, but the color was returning to his face. Just to be sure he’d help, I took out a CD-ROM disk and held it in the air. “See this, Colin? This disk? You **** us over and we don’t come back, this goes to the U.S. Attorney’s office. You think the state’s bad as hell..............let the Feds get a crack at you, I doubt you’ll ever see the outside again.” It was a calculated risk; he could just as easily burn us as help us. My intuition, though, told me he’d help. If the Cartel found out we weren’t who we said we were, he’d burn just as easy as we would. “Don’t sweat it, Kelsey. He’ll make the call.”

***EIC safehouse, Taravel District/behind Zero Degrees***
If I look hard enough, I can see my house from here, I thought to myself as I stood on the balcony of one of the club’s safehouses. I could feel the warm Santa Ana winds blowing down off the hills and around me. Looking upward at the night sky, I could make out some of the constellations; off to the west, I saw a shooting star flash by. An omen of good luck, perhaps? Below, I could see several of Bulletproof’s guards walking around; they were armed to the teeth with assault rifles and pistols. Along Kensington the traffic was light for mid-week. I don’t know how long I stood out there before Kelsey joined me on the balcony. I looked at her for a long time without speaking; she was wearing her long silk kimono robe and she looked adorably beautiful. “What’s wrong?,” she asked as she slid an arm around my back.

“I don’t know,” I replied, drawing in a deep breath. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m imagining things–“
“And..........I’m drawing a blank, hon.” I looked back at the night sky, then back at Kelsey. “I remember someone once told me that if you saw a shooting star,” pointing upward, “that it was a sign of good luck. If you saw two, though, all bets were off."

We must’ve stood there for a long time until we walked back off the balcony into the safehouse. As I walked back inside and closed the balcony doors, I thought about my life and thought, if we make it through this assignment............the next thought I dismissed as I walked back to the bedroom; I wanted to enjoy tonight, for who knew what would lie ahead tomorrow.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:06 am

Chapter 4

***Avenue Reforma, Ensenada, Mexico***
The flight down to Ensenada for the initial meeting with Williams wasn’t bad, I thought. As the five of us headed towards the meet in a stretch Escalade, I looked at everyone. Up front in the driver’s seat was Billi; Mike Chevalier sat in the passenger seat. Both of them were armed with SA-80 bullpup rifles. On top of that, Chevalier had two pistols stashed in the glove compartment. Kelsey, Mike Smith and I sat in the back. Smith was also armed with an SA-80; Kelsey and I were unarmed, though. Since we were going in to meet Williams, we both decided to remain unstrapped, in case anyone frisked us. After a quick drive up Reforma, Billi turned right onto Lago Norte and we headed towards what looked like a nightclub. Correction, I thought, a shabby nightclub, with cheap neon lights and dirt-floor entrances. After a few seconds, I told Billi to stop and let Kelsey and I out. “You sure, Matt?”

“Yeah, Billi, go ahead and stop.” The Escalade came to a stop and everyone got out except Billi, who pulled over to the side to wait. Kelsey and I began to walk towards the nightclub, our faces confident and expressionless. Right as we got to the entrance, a Mexican with an MP5 stepped over and told us to stop; several others did a quick frisk to check for weapons. As soon as they were finished, the Mexican pointed to the entrance and held the door open. Both of us stepped into a darkened interior; cheap signage hung from walls and there wasn’t anyone around. All of us walked to the back of the club, where several armed guards stood around a table. On the other side of the table sat the man we though ran the cartel, Will Williams. He motioned to a couple of seats. “Please, sit down, both of you.”

Both of us sat down and looked at Williams. It was one thing to study a person on paper, but it was another to see someone in person. Williams had been a Ranger for several years before leaving under questionable circumstances. Broad-shouldered, he looked as though he'd played college or pro football for a few years. However, his whole demeanor, his persona told me Williams would throw down at the drop of a hat...........just as Kelsey and I would if we had to. “So, Colin tells me you want to run loads for us? But.......how do I know what’ve you done in the past? I mean, other than Colin, who the **** knows you?”

There was an edge of tension now; we were both dancing on the razor’s edge. I looked square at Williams. “Well, my parents know me.......”

“And we don’t audition for business! Business auditions for us...........and knows who we are before they call and knows they want their load run by us..........,” Kelsey added.

“So we don’t waste AvGas or our ************* time!,” I said, finishing that line of thought. Just then, there was a commotion at the door. Standing there was Billi, who tossed an object over to Kelsey and me. It was a live hand grenade; I caught it in mid-air, pulled the pin and slammed it hard on the table. Only my iron grip on the grenade kept it from detonating. As I stared at Williams with steel eyes, Kelsey leaned over the table.

“You know, now that we think of it, who the **** are you? You got some kind of side deal with the FBI, Customs? You looking to open up the West Coast trade by popping a couple of runners? Like us......” As she said this, she began ripping open Williams’ shirt to check for a wire. “You wired? Huh?” As she finished checking Williams for a wire, I took a quick glance around the room; Williams’ security had their weapons pointed at Kelsey, Billi and I. Billi had an SA-80 pointed right at Williams’ chest. One slip, one wrong touch.........

Feeling the tension in the air, Kelsey continues..........”You know, amigo,” glancing at me, “people are going to walk in here and they gonna’ look at the wall and say, “Whoa, that’s some crazy wallpaper up there.....What is that, Salvador Dali....Jackson Pollock?’”

“No, amiga,” I added, “that’s Will Williams blown all over his damn wall.”
“Now,” Kelsey added, her voice as icy cold as an Alberta clipper, “we can close each other’s eyes real fast, right now.....but then, nobody makes any money.” Williams looked at one of the bodyguards and nodded. As his people to point their weapons down, Billi did the same as well. The tension, though, is still thick in the air. “What equipment you use?”

“Adam A-500s for low-level flight. Composite carbon, push-pull propellers, 1600 nautical mile range. We also use Gulfstream and LearJets’ for high-level flight. On the water, go-fast boats for transshipment from larger vessels. Small containers; easier to hide on a boat,” I said. “On the ground, anything from muscle to luxury cars; large shipments by 18-wheeler. One caveat.......once its’ on the ground in the U.S., our people handle the load. No tweakers, first-timers, whack-a-loons. They didn’t do time with either of us, they ain’t doing any crime with us.”

“What you’ll get,” Kelsey added, “is a date and a time, like, ‘there’s an 18-wheeler behind the Best Western on Sawtelle just off the 705. Keys in the ignition; you pick it up and you drive away. Smooth.”

“And the money is done ahead of time,” I said, “‘cause you mix guns and money together, things can get very violent, very fast.”

Williams chuckled. “You afraid of violence, amigo?”
“I am not Superman and she,” referring to Kelsey, “ain’t Wonder Woman. We are not superheros. We’ll throw down if the play calls for it. But we’re into making money and doing business.”

“And violence costs extra,” Kelsey added. “So, what’s it going to be?”

“I don’t know,” Williams said, “‘cause how you do things, I don’t know......maybe this don’t work–“
”Then it don’t work,” I said.
“What happened to your last runner?,” Kelsey asked.
“What do you care?,” Williams threw back at her.

“Red light, green light......” I said, wondering why we’re still talking to this character. Right then, Williams leans back, arms crossed.

“You know, when I was living in Bogota, my associates referred to me as ‘Cochi Loco’. Crazy pig.” His Irish accent was more pronounced now. “Why? Cause I run security and intel. I get people to tell me things they never, ever, want to tell me. That side of me, you never want to see.” Pausing to sip on an espresso, he continued. “Others negotiate prices and weights. Go and no go....”

“So what the hell are we talking to you for?,” Kelsey asked. As she said it, the tension ratcheted up again.

Leaning in towards her, Williams continued. “I had to lay my eyes on both of you.” He let the silence hang in the air forever; had he made us already? Then he said, “You,” looking at Kelsey, “I trust. But him.........,” looking over at me, “I don’t like how he looks.”

Kelsey couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What the **** you care what he looks like? You want to **** my partner or do you want to do business with us?” I shot her a “what the **** did you just say?” look but Williams relaxed and the tension eased back down.

“Wait by the phone,” Williams said. The meeting was rapidly coming to an end. “Maybe you get a call, maybe not. Until then, you can go back to your lives in Velo City.” As we got up to walk out of the nightclub, I turned and looked at Williams. “Here’s your present,” I said, tossing him the hand grenade. He turned ghost-white as he caught it, but nothing happened. While we were talking, I had put the pin back in. Kelsey, Billi and I walked out of the club; now all we had to do was wait for a call. If it came, we were in business and the assignment was on. If not.....
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:06 am

Chapter 5

***EIC safehouse, Velo City***
“You think it’s going to work?” Mike Smith let the question hang in the Velo air as he and several other EIC members sat in an office inside the safehouse.

“Well,” I said, nursing a small glass of Old Forester bourbon, “we made it back in one piece, Mike, theatrics notwithstanding.”
“I’ll say,” Billi added. “What the hell were you doing with that grenade, Matt?”

“Making sure they didn’t do anything stupid,” I replied, a hint of cockiness in the remark. Outside, traffic was plying its’ way up and down Kensington and the surrounding streets. All around the safehouse were members of EIC security. It had been a couple of days since we had returned from Ensenada and we’d heard nothing. Nothing at all. I was beginning to wonder if the assignment had flopped; maybe Williams didn’t trust us. All I knew was that if we didn’t hear from them in the next day or so, then it was a wrap. Finishing the rest of the bourbon, I set it down on the table and got up. “I’ll see y’all in the A.M. Hopefully they’ll call, we’ll get back to being our criminal selves.” As the others continued talking, I walked out of the room and headed up the stairs to a third floor bedroom. If the call did call in, we were going to have a very busy day tomorrow.

***next morning***
My senses woke up with a start; on the nightstand next to the bed, a satellite phone was ringing. Throwing the covers back, I sat up and answered the phone. “Matthew, my friend,” the man on the other end spoke. It was Colin; as he continued, I could feel the bed move next to me. I glanced over; Kelsey had propped herself up on the bed, the sheets barely covering her body. “You’re on. The meeting’s in Culiacán. Once you and your friend’s on the ground, you’ll get the directions for the meeting.” As the phone clicked, Kelsey asked me who was on the line. “That was Colin; we’re up.”

***evening, outskirts of Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico***
The long convoy of Humvees’, Escalades’ and Ford Explorers’ snaked its’ way through the narrow streets of Sinaloa’s capital. It looked, I thought, like a scenescape from Iraq; narrow streets, cobblestone walkways, checkered-painted curbs. I was dressed in my usual attire....light sport shirt, Dockers and Sketchers. Kelsey was sitting in the passenger seat next to me, dressed in jeans and a light-colored blouse. In the seat directly in front of us facing towards the back was one of Williams’ security guards, staring ahead menacingly, cradling a short-barrel HK-416 rifle. His whole demeanor screamed ‘mercenary’. As we drove towards the edge of town, I opened my cell and looked; to my surprise, the signal strength was zero. I showed it to Kelsey; she checked hers’. No signal strength either. “No signal strength,” she whispered.

“This is the kind of stuff the CIA does in Baghdad and Kabul,” I whispered back. “What’s it doing on a dope deal?” We didn’t say anything else until the convoy reached the first of what liked military checkpoints. That didn’t surprise me; it was long rumored that elements of the Mexican military were working with the cartels, but I didn’t believe it.....not until we passed through a second checkpoint.

Once we got there, the merc inside the Explorer motioned for us to exit the vehicle. As soon as we did, several large men in sport suits and carrying rifles and SMG’s searched us from head to toe. These guys looked to be ex-SAS, ex-Green Beret, top of the line mercenaries. They could’ve doubled for operators from Blackwater, Armor Group, Triple Canopy, etc. That sent chills through my spine. The kind of money you’d spend on these guys meant this wasn’t some low-level gang we were going to work for. These guys could throw down in an instant and you’d never have a chance against them. One pointed to a line of Black Explorers about a hundred yards away. “See the second one there? Go there now.”

Kelsey and I began walking towards the line of Explorers, our every move shadowed by at least a dozen mercs. Unbeknownst to us, there were also several sniper teams watching us as well, each armed with Barrett .50 caliber rifles and each one zeroed on us as we walked over to the Explorers. Kelsey looked at me as we walked; I knew that glance. We were in a kill zone. One misstep or attempt to run and we’d be dead before we even moved an inch.

We finally reached the Explorer; a merc got out of the front passenger seat and opened the rear passenger door. “Get in” was all he said. Both of us climbed into the back of the vehicle; sitting across from us were two people, a blond woman dressed in a Tom Ford suit-dress and an older man with a beard and rugged, outdoor-type clothing. “Thank you for seeing me on short notice; I appreciate the opportunity to meet new people such as yourselves.” That brought a smile to the rest of it. Then he got serious. “I will try you and your friend out on one load. To build trust. In all matters, when you work for us, you must do exactly what you say you will do. If you say you will do something, you must do exactly what you say. I buy a result, not a service. If all goes well, then you will prosper beyond your wildest dreams back home in Velo City.” The blonde woman opened up a purse and handed Kelsey and I a business card; we saw there was a name on it......Raoul Courvosier. He continued on. “In all matters dealing with security and intel, you will work through Mr. Williams. In all matters dealing with scheduling, you will deal with my assistant here, Patricia Mann,” tilting his head towards the blonde. We both shook hands with her. Courvosier added, “I look forward to doing business with you. Whether or not we do more than one run, it is unlikely we will see each other again. Thank you for visiting me and I extend my best wishes to you and your friends back home.” That was the signal for us to leave the vehicle; as we stepped aside, the line of Explorers began to pull away; the window nearest us on the Explorer we’d been in was still down. As it drove away, I caught a glimpse of Ms. Mann in the vehicle; she, too, looked back towards me. I followed her sight until the Explorer was gone.

After the Explorers’ had gone, we walked back to the convoy and it took off, back towards Culiacán. As we returned to the airport, Kelsey and I exchanged almost subterranean looks. Not only had Barnhart lied about who was running the Sinaloa Cartel, we had just met the cartel’s kingpin. There’s going to be some hell to pay, I thought to myself. When or how wasn’t the concern; it was more like, where.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:07 am

Chapter 6

***dirt-strip, near the Guerrero Negro mountains, Baja California Sur***
Several days had passed since our meeting with Courvosier, and it was now time for the test load. The plan was simple. Kelsey and I would fly down in the A-500 to a dirt airstrip in the southern Baja, pick up ten bundles containing a total of 3,000 kilos of Blackjet Tar heroin, then fly back to Southern California to an airfield near the former Marine Corps base at El Toro, where we would drive up the 5 freeway to our destination, a warehouse in the Harbor.

Now we were in the Baja, where the sun beat down on everything with a clear, burning alacrity. I stood alongside the 500, watching several campesinos’ load each 300-kilo bundle into the plane. Inside, Kelsey and another campesino were making sure every bundle was tied down and strapped tight; the last thing anyone needed was for the load to shift in the air. It seemed to take forever but they got it done after several hours. Taking out a roll of 50's, I peeled off several and handed them to one of the farmers’. he demurred, saying he couldn’t accept unless I took his hunting knife in return. As we’re standing there negotiating, Kelsey walked over to the door. “You ready, partner?,” she says, a grin on her face.

“Yeah, hang on, babe,” I yelled as I turned back to the farmer. “Gracias, senor”, I said as I hopped into the A-500. As planes went, the Adam A-500 is a smuggler’s dream aircraft. Lightly built with carbon-fiber composites, it’s a twin-tail, push-pull aircraft with propellers in front and back. It’s very maneuverable and can fly up to 18,000 feet, but for our purposes, it wasn’t going anywhere above 10,000 feet. Once we were off the ground, we’d link up with Mike Chevalier and Annie Luckett, who were in a Gulfstream G650 wide-body business jet. Once linked up, Kelsey and I would fly to within 50 feet and stay there the whole way up the coast. That way, if AWACS or air traffic radars picked up the Gulfstream, they’d never see us in the A-500. It was classic Oakland Raiders’ style football. The Gulfstream was the blocker, we were the running back.

“King Air 3710, this is Kilo 000, how copy, over?,” Kelsey said into the headset.
“Triple Nuts, this is 3710. Solid copy,” came the reply from the Gulfstream. As Kelsey flew the A500, I put on another set on headphones and listened to the voice traffic between the Gulfstream and all the air traffic controllers. Everything was going alright.......until we got between San Diego and Velo City, when I heard the controller at Lindbergh Field say, “King Air, check your right side towards the rear. Is there another aircraft in view?” Both Kelsey and I sweated a few nervous moments as Chevalier looked over and replied, “Negative, San Diego. No aircraft visible from here.” Still, we waited til’ we were certain no one had spotted us. Eventually, we reached our breakaway point; Kelsey banked the A-500 away from the Gulfstream and thirty minutes later, we were on the ground near El Toro, where Billi, Rhino and a couple others were waiting to help us load the bundles onto a van for the trip up to the Harbor. All in all, a successful run. But we had a surprise for Williams and the Cartel..........

***late night, Harbor City***
We did it, I thought to myself. We ran a cartel load into Velo City; got it past AWACS, Customs............life is good. All of us were standing near a small house in the Harbor City area of the Harbor District and had just finished off-loading the 3,000 kilos of Blackjet Tar when my sat phone rang. It was Will Williams. “Oye, Matthew. Client got delivery of the product. Your money’s being wired to the Swiss account as we speak.”
“Good, but we had a problem. Couple of Aryans’ tried to jack the load from us en-route to the delivery point. We took care of them, then traced them back to their location. You know a chop shop in Harbor City, along East H Street?”
“I do,” Williams replied.
“Be there,” I came back at him, “ten a.m. tomorrow.”

***next morning, Harbor City***
Right on time, I thought, watching the jet-black Ford Explorer pull up to the curb. Out came Williams and one of his Blackwater guards, toting an SMG underneath his jacket by the looks of it. All of us stood inside the chop shop, watching them come up to the front entrance. Kelsey motioned for Billi and Luckett to open the door; once done, they stepped back, letting Williams and his guard walk in. As another guard walked in, Mike Smith stopped him. “Only two,” he said in a low voice. As he shut the front entrance and locked it, Kelsey and I motioned to an interior room. Williams, his bodyguard and both of us walked into the room........”When we traced the Aryans’ back to here, we found this.” In the middle of the room stood 800 square kilo blocks of North Valle cocaine; what Williams didn’t know was that, before our initial meeting with him(or for that matter, before our meeting with Colin), our crew had ripped this exact same load from a group of Aryans’ who ran loads into the city for Courvosier. In other words, we had ripped Courvosier’s cartel off before we met them.

But we had one more surprise for Williams. “He’s the leader of the Aryans’ who tried to take your load,” Kelsey said, pointing over to someone behind Chevalier. Williams walked over to the man, who laid on the floor, hog-tied and bleeding. His mouth was taped shut and his eyes were full of fright at what would likely become of him. “What should I do with him?,” he asked.

“It don’t matter to us,” I said. “Violence isn’t our thing. He’s all yours.” After a few minutes, I nodded to both Smith and Chevalier, who cut the ropes off the Aryans’ ankles and dragged him over to Williams’ guard. All of us watched them leave with the Aryan; hopefully, we had proven our bona-fides’ to the cartel, which in turn would give us more loads to run and allow us to work our way further up the ladder.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:07 am

Chapter 7

***San Felipe, Mexico***
“I see you! I see a load we lost three weeks ago! All in the same place........now, what is wrong with that picture?” As usual, Will Williams was pontificating on what he’d seen back at the Aryan safehouse; sitting next to him in a conservative, light-beige pantsuit, was Patricia Mann, who looked towards the windows in the mansion all of us were in with a bemused expression. Kelsey and I were sitting opposite of them, wondering what he was bitching about this time. “Well, if you don’t like us finding your load for you, we can go and lose it again for you,” I said with a tint of disgust in my voice.

Kelsey picked up on it. “What other conspiracies have you masterminded today, huh?” That shut him up; it wasn’t often any of the cartel’s runners said anything like that to him and we’d just told him, up front, to shut the hell up. As he sat back in his lounge chair, he leaned over to Mann and whispered, “Ask them how much they want for finding the load.”

She thought about it for a moment, then spoke. “Obviously, we want our product back. How much.......”
“How much?”, I said, staring at her. “For the load?”

“Nothing.” We turned and looked over at Kelsey; I gave her a “what?” kind of look, but her face revealed nothing, no emotion, no anger. Both Williams and Mann looked at her quizzically; for that matter, I thought the same as well for an instant.

“Nothing?,” Mann repeated, continuing her stare towards me.
“Nothing,” Kelsey returned. “Consider it.........a first step.........”
“.....in the future,” I added, “of a fine.......business........relationship.”

As I spoke, Mann took her shades off and stared even harder at me. If Kelsey noticed it, she didn’t say a word about it.

“It’s yours,” Kelsey continued, “because what’s yours is yours.......and what’s ours is ours. Like, the second part of that payment you owe us, Will, my ace.” As if on cue, Williams slid over a satchel full of 100's; Kelsey glanced down but didn’t look at it or open it.

“So, what’s up? Is this a one-time only thing or do you have future business?,” I said, still continuing to look over towards Patricia.

Mann leaned over and talked to Williams for a moment, then to both Kelsey and me. “There’s a shipment of guns and meth precursors entering Mexican waters on the 24th. Will’ll fill you in on the details.” Without hesitating, she rose from her chair and began walking towards the nearby dockside quay. After a few moments, I did likewise and followed her towards the dock; both Kelsey and Will looked over towards me as I walked away, wondering what I was doing. Kelsey turned back to Will as he began. “........you’ll get the longs and lats for a transhippment point off the Baja Pacific coast............”

***Dockside quay, San Felipe mansion***
As I quickly caught up to Patricia, I kept thinking to myself, ‘what the **** are you doing, Webster?’ I banished that thought as I caught up to her. “Patricia!”

She turned around, wondering just what I was doing. “For the risks my partner and I took in recovering your load.......let me buy you a drink.” She stood there for an instant, the sun highlighting her graceful appearance. She looked at me, then at the Bernucci Blur, the 85' catamaran-style deep-V hull boat Kelsey, myself and a couple of others had traveled to San Felipe on from Velo City. It was a single-hull boat with two cat-like spars on either side; it drove like a deep-V hull go-fast boat but was luxurious inside. “How fast does that go?,” she said, her eyes looking right at the boat.
“Very fast,” I said confidently.

She then turned and looked at me almost seductively and said in a low voice. “Show me.” As we walked away, I heard Kelsey call over. “Wait up!”

I motioned for Patricia to wait, then turned back around. “What’s up, partner?,” Kelsey asked, a hint of concern in her voice.

I winked at her. “Don’t sweat it, babe. I know what I’m doing,” turning back toward Mann. Kelsey walked back into the mansion, thinking to herself, ‘now why does that worry me, Matt?’; while she was heading back in, Williams was staring out towards the quay. “........Okay, Will. The secure satellite comms, transshipment points, signals encryption, that’s all good. But I need a vector, not a location. Ships move; that’s why they call them ships. Ship stops, it’s trying to impersonate the Empire State Building at sea. That’s bad news; attracts the wrong kind of attention.........Navy, Coast Guard, AWACS, all bad......” As they spoke to one another, they kept an eye on both myself and Patricia as we walked towards the Blur.

***Aboard the Silver Ace, exiting San Felipe***
As we walked aboard the Silver Ace, I signaled for Billi, who had flown down to San Felipe with both Kelsey and I, to undock the boat from the quay. Seconds later, I fired up the engines and we left the docks, proceeding out towards the Gulf of California. Both Patricia and I were on the small but spacious top-side bridge, standing behind a small console-style table that showed everything; speed, navigational direction, engine temps, the whole bag of tricks. Pressing a few buttons, I soon had the convertible-style bridge cover reeled behind us and we were both standing in the open gulf air. Reaching over to a nearby console, I grabbed a pair of shuttle-like headphones; light and comfortable with the capability to hear anything said. It took only a second for me to get mine fixed; after that, I reached over and adjusted Patricia’s so that they’d fit. As I adjusted them, my fingers passed over the nape of her neck, just above the collar of her red-magenta silk blouse. An incidental touch, but it felt like I’d been zapped by a high-voltage wire. After a brief moment, I got both headsets plugged in and off we went.

Off in the distance, the clouds rose like silent sentinels, the hint of a far-off thunderstorm visible by the far-away rumbling of the sky. By now we were cruising along the gulf waters at around 75 knots, the boat seeming to leap over every swell and land gracefully, launching itself through the water. I held a steady grip on the throttle and steering, while in the co-pilot’s seat Patricia sat, legs crossed, looking over and watching me pilot the boat. “So, what do you like to drink, Matthew?,” she asked.

Taking a moment to think, I keyed the mic. “Well, I’m a fiend for tequilas.”
“I’ll take you to the best place for tequilas’ on the Baja coast.”
“Where is that?,” I asked her.
“Verdado,” she said, a slight smile on her face.
“Verdado? Where is that?”
“Just outside Guaymas. Best place for tequilas’ on the coast.” As she said that, I continued keeping an eye on both the steering and throttles. “You want to drive the boat for a little while?”

Not saying anything, she got up and stood right behind the steering column while I stood just behind her and to the right, keeping my grip on the throttles. I held onto her as we stood, keeping her right next to me. I pointed to the steering wheel; she took hold of it with a hard grip.

“No, no, light grip.........you want to let the feeling come to you through the steering,” I told her, all the while playing with the throttles as we continued down to Guaymas. The trick for a large boat like the Silver Ace was making sure not to redline the engines when they were out of the water and slamming them forward when they were in the water. Further away, the clouds were beginning to look evermore menacing, but neither of us worried about it. It was like we were racing an approaching storm, but what kind of storm was it?

other than the relative size & open-top cockpit, the Silver Ace is a larger version of the boat in the above picture
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:08 am

Chapter 8

***Hacienda de los Mirados, Guaymas***
As the morning sun rose to the east, I looked out from a balcony and saw the sun’s light cast its’ shadows on the nearby mountains of the Miramar Range west of Guaymas. I stood there, barefoot and clad only in the Dockers I’d worn yesterday, thinking about the passionate night Patricia and I had. Either I’m either one hell of an actor, I mused, or Kelsey will blow a coronary if she knew exactly where I was at this moment. Along the coast, fishermen were beginning to prepare for their daily boat runs; down the road back towards the city, a group of schoolkids were kicking a soccer ball around and whooping it up. There was a light breeze and I felt it brush along the side of the hacienda, through and around the balcony and me. The wind felt exquisite, much like Patricia did the night before. It was something I couldn’t have explained to anyone...........but it was one of the best nights I’d ever experienced in my life, that I knew for certain. All I wondered at the moment whilst staring out towards the coastline was one thought.........what else was going to happen here?

***along the Malecón, Guaymas***
I don’t know how long we walked down the cobblestones of the wide harbor boulevard, but it wasn’t long before we reached one of one numerous restaurants’ that dotted the harbor. It was one of several she owned in Guaymas; they were profitable but that wasn’t the point. They were fronts for the cartel; that’s why they existed. The moment we walked in, the doorman saw us and waved us through as if we were royalty, leading us to a table in the back. “Dos’ tequilas,” Patricia said to the barman, pointing towards the back. After a few minutes, I decided to break the ice. “So, where ya’ from?”

“Ipswich. It’s about 100 kilometers’ north of London. There was only one redeeming feature.........they have a good football team. You?”
“Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve been here, there, everywhere it seems.”
“Tell me,” she said.
“I insist,” she repeated. “Tell me.....”
“Okay. I grew up in Charlotte in this barrio’ near the airport. Wound up going to a juvenile facility at 13. Then the military, then prison ‘cause I was dumb and angry. Then I got smart. I read, studied. When I got out, I went into business.....and here I am.” I took a long swallow of the tequila; it left a burnt oak sensation which lingered for a while.
“How’d you and your partner hook up?”

“Kelsey? We ran guns up the Pacific Coast to associates in Vancouver and Victoria a couple of years back; that’s how we hooked up,” I told her. “Nowadays, if it needs moving, we can move it. Boat, ground, air....doesn’t matter; we’re better at moving stuff than FedEx.”
“I’m impressed,” she replied.
“You didn’t say that last night,” I said in turn. She leaned over the table and whispered, “I didn’t have to say anything last night, did I?,” kissing me square on the lips.
“No, you didn’t,” I said, returning her kiss with an equal amount of passion. We took our leave and headed back to the hacienda. It wasn’t a pillars of heaven type of weekend, but it wasn’t anytime I’d soon forget.

***2 days later, passing Dana Pt. towards Velo Harbor***
The evening sky glistened with the flashes of faraway lightning as I gunned the motors on the Silver Ace to the firewalls; the Blur was making near 90 knots, its’ maximum speed and every so often, the four-and-five foot swells would launch the boat several feet into the air. I thought about Patricia and the weekend we’d spent in Guaymas, much of it spent in each other’s arms. Part of me knew that I was literally walking on the tightest of tightropes, but another part of me knew differently. That part of me was the same one that helped me plan and execute numerous heists in the years before and after I came to Velo City and it was those same skill sets that were going to help me and Kelsey bring down the cartel. As I was compartmentalizing the weekend’s memories into my brain, the satellite phone rang. I plugged the connector into the headset. “Go ahead.”

“Matt, it’s Kelsey. Where ya’ at?”
“Just passing Dana Point on the coast. I’ll be entering the Harbor in about 30 minutes or so.”
“Good, because the meet with Barnhart and Egan’s set for an hour after that.” As the connection was cut, I pushed the throttles even more to the redline, running the Blur’s engines to the ragged edge. I could feel the boat knife through the water in a violent cacophony of spray and vapor, as if the boat was nothing but a knife and I was riding the tip of the knife. I thought about the absolute contradiction of the past few weekend. There Patricia was, one of the heads of the Sinaloa Cartel and advisor to the kingpin, and there I was, spending a passionate weekend with her. We were both criminals of a sort, but unlike her, mine was an act, an act that if I weren’t careful, could end very quickly, not just for me but for Kelsey and everyone else as well.

Eventually, I saw the lights of the Harbor appear and I started to slow down, throttling back every so often so as not to tax the near 2800 hp engines. Finally, I saw the harbor quay where Kelsey, Billi, Rhino and I had cast off several days before. Looking over, I could see several EIC guards standing watch as Billi and Rhino waited for me to get right up next to the dock. They both tossed several thick ropes over, which I caught and tied around anchor points along the hull. Almost immediately, I climbed off the boat and walked down the pier. “How’s life, compadre’?”, asked Mike Chevalier.

“It’s good, Slick,” I said, walking quickly past. Right as soon as I walked by, Kelsey picked up on the conversation.
“So, how’d it go?”
“We hit a few clubs, fell back to her place.”
“Huh? Fell where?,” she said, a hint of ice in her voice. “Where?”
“Where’s that?”
“Just outside Guaymas, on the eastern side of the California Gulf.”
“You making moves on her, then–“
”You’re not making moves on her, then.”

As we kept walking, I replied, “We’re making moves on each other, babe.”

“Oh, so that's supposed to make it alright then, huh?,” Kelsey said as we hopped into an Mercedes CL50 AMG for the drive over to the meet site.

***somewhere along the Santa Monica waterfront***
The meeting between Kelsey, myself, Commander Egan and Deputy Director Barnhart got off on a bad footing and it just slid downhill from there on. “What do you mean, ‘go exploring’?,” Barnhart said. “That wasn’t the original plan between us–“
”What was it then?,” Kelsey asked, a knife-edge to her voice. “There’s you and there’s us and all you’ve given us is bad intel. Will Williams and Jason Owens, kingpins? Give me a ******* break.”
“What are you saying?,” Commander Egan said.

“Got the laptop?,” I said to Kelsey. Reaching down, she picked up an HP laptop, opened it and pressed a few buttons. On the screen popped an Interpol file on Raoul Courvosier. “There’s your kingpin, Barnhart. We thought we were going to see the village priest,” she said, “and we ended up in the heart of the Vatican. Here,” tapping his face on the screen, “is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel.” She tapped a few more buttons; up came photos of Williams, Owens and Mann. “She,” tapping Patricia’s face, “runs their finances, their logistics. Williams handles security and intel; Owens, ‘Mr. Smirk’, is their local representative.”

Picking up the proverbial ball, I added, “Their operations are first-class, all the way. Security guards that could work for any high-end private security operation, almost all ex-military. SAS, Mossad, Delta, those guys. Their comms are top-shelf satellite uplinks with major signals encryption and multi-level signals jamming, the stuff you’d see the CIA’s Clandestine Service use in Iraq or Somalia. These are not minor players, gentlemen,” looking right at Egan and Barnhart. Kelsey took back the ball and ran with it. “What does that tell you? It says these guys deal in mega-tonnage and mega-cash flows.
“Out of....”, Barnhart asked.

“Mainly Central and South America. The money, we think, goes through banks in Dubai, South Africa, Switzerland,” I replied.
“And these cats deal in poly-loads,” Kelsey added. “Not just Blackjet Tar heroin from Mexico. We’re talking E from Holland and Belgium, ice precursors from the Middle East, North Valle cocaine from Colombia. And it ain’t all drugs, either. Our second run for them, we saw them transship several crates of guns and explosives with Pakistani’ markings on them, along with several individuals from that part of the world,” pulling out a small CD from her purse. “My guess is if you run their photos through both Homeland Security and CIA databases, you might find connections to some high-level terror groups in the Middle East.” As she let the implications of what she had said float in the air, I finished the line of thought. “And we can illuminate it from the inside-out.”

Commander Egan, picking up on what we were saying, went a step further. “You want to change the mission statement–“
”No!” We looked over at the FBI official. “No. We indict Owens and the Aryans up here for what’s happened up to now. We use the intel from that CD to assist the Clandestine.....” As he was talking, I tossed him a set of keys. “What the hell is this?”

“Keys to the kingdom,” I said disgustingly to him. “Go do your own ****** investigation.” Barnhart looked over at Egan with a ‘who the hell is he talking to?’ expression. “What the hell are you–“

Kelsey caught him off-guard, the same fire in her eyes that I saw during the first meeting we had with him. “What my husband is saying is that we have a shot at taking down a major cartel and he is very reluctant to abandon that just because some higher-ups’,” in a veiled reference to Barnhart, “don’t have the cojones’ to finish the job–“

”Who the f*ck are you to say that?,” Barnhart said. I turned around and grabbed him by the lapel, fist raised as if I were going to hit Barnhart. “You better watch yourself,” I said to him. “You EVER talk to my wife that way again and, so help me......” By now, Egan had stepped between us and got us separated. “Calm down, both of you–“

”Why? Don’t you see his game?,” I said, still wanting to take a piece of Barnhart’s hide over what he had said. “He wants a small, chump-change bust so he can get his picture in the Washington Post or Velo City Times so he can impress the bosses back east.....”
“You better control him,” Barnhart said to Egan.
“I’m in control, Barnhart; you wanna’ dance?,” I said, still full of anger.

“That’s it! Everybody, calm down right now!!” After a few moments, Egan continued. “Change the mission statement, Barnhart. Keep them in for now.”
“I’ll have to talk to the ADO in Washington—“
”No, you won’t. You’ll change the statement or I pull both of them out and you can go crawling to your bosses in Washington. And we ain’t waiting for approval from them, either. Every moment they’re in,” pointing to both Kelsey and I, “leaves them exposed. The longer they’re in, the bigger the risks. Give the locals a pass for now; we can put SIS, Metro and Air Support on them here and watch them ourselves.” He then turned to Kelsey. “Where are you with Matt on this?”

“Ten-tenths,” she replied.
“Good. Then keep climbing the ladder, see what falls out. I just hope you two are right about this.” With that, we went our separate ways.

As Kelsey and I headed back to the CL50, out of sight of both Barnhart and Egan, she looked at me, the fire still in her eyes from earlier and asked, “Now, Matt, what is going on here?”
“As in......”
“As in, there’s undercover and then there’s ‘which way is up?’”

I froze at the icy hint in her question. “What, you think I’m in so deep I don’t know which way’s up?” The tone of my voice said more than the words did, for Kelsey’s icy gaze fell and the woman I loved reappeared. Placing a hand on the side of my face, she said, “I had to ask. I’ll never doubt you again, Matt.”

“Good,” I said quietly, giving her hand a brief kiss. “Now....let’s finish what we started, shall we?” With that, we headed back to the safehouse, ready to continue the operation. Now all we had to do was wait for another load to run, another dance on the razor’s edge.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:09 am

Chapter 9

***Zócalo Nightclub, Mexico City***
And I thought Zero Degrees was top-of-the-line, I thought to myself as Kelsey and I arrived at one of Mexico City’s top nightspots, Zócalo, in the heart of the city’s Centro Historico. The drive in was one of the most rapid I had ever seen; it made you think you were on one of the innumerable freeways back home but with a road network more clogged than the 101 at rush hour. But for all the opulence of the Centro’s historic nature, it was a whole other world once we stepped inside Zócalo. As we got to the club entrance, one of the bouncers recognized Will’s security chief and waved us through; as we walked by, I couldn’t help but notice the bouncer’s double-take when Kelsey walked past him. Wearing a low-cut, strapless black dress, she seemed to turn everyone’s eye as we headed towards the back of the nightclub.

After a short walk, we saw Williams sitting at a glass table near the dance floor; the sounds of Latin-infused, techno music seemed to permeate every part of the club. Right as we reach the table, he turned and saw us. “Greetings, my friends. Welcome to Zócalo.” All of us greeted each other; as we did, he signaled to one of the bartenders that our drinks were on the house. “Tres tequilas’,” he said to the man. Across from Kelsey sat Williams' security chief, a Canadian woman who was about Kelsey’s height but dressed more conservatively. Even so, I could still pick out the sidearm she was carrying underneath her jacket. “So, how was your flight in?”

“Well,” Kelsey said, leaning back in her seat, legs crossed, “I don’t know how Matt felt, but the flight in was good. And free of,” pausing to take a sip of tequila, “undue problems.”
“You don’t like to fly, Mateo’?”, Will asked.
“Other than for business, not really,” I chuckled. “In fact, I think I slept through the entire flight.”
“Slept?,” Will said.
“Slept......if one can sleep at 30,000 feet in a LearJet. Of course, with Kelsey along for the flight, I don’t think you could’ve called it sleep.” With the ice broken, all of us chatted for a while until Kelsey started on the reason for the visit. “Anyway, all this is fun, but I do think you didn’t have us come here for fun and entertainment, now did you?”

Will caught the meaning of it right away. “Oh, of course, of course. Anyway, I spoke to Patricia this afternoon; she’s here in Mexico City, working on a financial proposal with some partners of our in the Middle East. Here’s her cell if you need to talk to her,” sliding a card to us. I picked it up, noticed the number and slid it into a shirt pocket. “As for you,” gesturing to Diana, his security chief, as she picked up a ruggedized laptop and opened it, “your next run.” The laptop’s screen showed navigational charts and ship numbers. “Transshipment point is on the 2nd of November, here at 18:00–“

”Uh-uh,” Kelsey said, leaning forward towards the screen. “Nothing predetermined. Give us the headings and radio codes and we’ll talk to them directly with the longs and lats for a mid-ocean transfer.”
“Not with our loads,” Will said, looking towards us and a hint of dislike in his voice.
“Problem with pre-determined drop points is they leave you vulnerable to signals interception and unwanted attention.” As I was talking, Kelsey opened her purse and slid a Blackberry over to Diana.

“The day before the transfer, I’ll satellite page her with a website and encryption codes,” Kelsey said, looking over at them. “She’ll have ten minutes to log on and send the transfer vectors to the ships en-route. If she’s not on thirty seconds after the ten-minute delay, website disappears and you can drive the boats into Alaska for all I care.”

Feigning a nonchalance attitude, Williams spoke again. “Kuwaiti freighter. Small containers. Diana, give them the codes and headings.” For some reason, I started to get the same feeling I had when we first met Williams back in Ensenada, but dismissed it. “What’s the merch?,” I asked him.

“50-gallon drums, 32 in all. Each one has Chinese markings on them, bound for the FARC in Colombia. Don’t open them.”
“And payment for transferring......”
“You can work those out with Patricia later. The Kuwaiti freighter will have 32 fuel bladders with Blackjet Tar that were transferred to that ship from a Mexican freighter. Those go onto a Canadian cargo ship and then to a warehouse in the Harbor; I trust your sound judgment on that end, but don’t move it elsewhere until we give the go-ahead.”

“Will, my ace,” Kelsey said, “all this transshipment means lots of action. Eyes in the sky everywhere. AWACS, Customs, Coast Guard interdiction. You have anything you can contribute to the good and the welfare?”

Williams leaned back in his seat across from us. “Sure. Check your e-mail.” As Williams and his security chief left the table, I sat back and watched the buzz of activity around us, yet that same feeling of dread I had earlier came back with a start. What was I missing here? And what could it cost? What I didn’t notice, what I should’ve noticed, was the additional security around us that night. Little did I know what was bound to happen later on...........

***several days later, aboard the Canadian cargo vessel Lafayette***
It had been an interesting couple of days in Mexico City, but business is business, I mused, standing on the weather-deck of the Lafayette. Our plan for this run was not as simple as before; Kelsey would handle the Velo City end of the run, while I would handle the off-shore side. I wasn’t alone; Mike Chevalier and Mike Smith had flown down to Mazatlan, then rendezvoused with Billi in a Pirana’ cigarette boat for the trip out to the ship. Now the four of us stood on the weather-deck, watching as the transfer between the Lafayette and the Kuwaiti freighter continued. Something was bothering Chevalier and he didn’t hesitate to air it. “Something’s not right, Matt. First off, where’s Kelsey?”

“She’s back in Velo City. Don’t sweat it, though. With everything we’ve accumulated on the cartel, Slick, this operation isn’t long for the world.”
“Still, I don’t like it. Too many variables, too many moving parts.”
Smith joined in, “It’s your call, Matt.”

I stood and pondered my options; Chevalier was right, something wasn’t right but what it was I didn’t know. The alarm bells were going off but I couldn’t quite decide what they were, so I swatted them aside for now. ‘Before Kelsey left for Velo City, we got all the info for the transfer. But that wasn’t all. You got the Touchpad?,” referring to Smith’s laptop. He placed it on a small table and opened it. “Before Kelsey and I left for Mexico City, I asked Commander Egan to find out if there were any other narcs’ working inside the Sinaloa Cartel. He sent us an e-mail en-route a few days ago.”

Bringing up the encrypted e-mail, I hit the decryption keys and up came several pages of information which bore the seal of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “The Canadians, it seems, have been running an operation similar to the ones the Feds have had with about the same success. Except for one thing,” scrolling down the page and clicking on a link in the e-mail, “they’ve had two operatives who’ve made their way into very high positions within the Sinaloa Cartel.” All of us looked at the pictures of two women, one tall and blonde, the second dark-haired; one hailed from Ottawa, the other from Toronto. Both were wearing the dress uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, right down to the distinctive Red Serge jacket, boots and Stetson hats. “Both of them, my friends, are assigned to the RCMP’s Intelligence Division. “Sergeants Nox Dineen and Melissa Patten–“

”Matt?” I looked over at Billi; her face was ashen white as she looked at the laptop. “What is it, Billi?”
“That second woman, the blonde,” Billi said with a start. “Hey, wait! Isn’t that Courvosier’s financier, Patricia Mann?” I looked at the picture, then it dawned on me with a start who she was. “s.................,” I whispered. “Billi, where are they, by chance?” I was almost dreading the answer; I had visions of what Williams meant by his nickname, ‘Cochi Loco’ and it filled me with dread. I needn’t worry, though, for what Billi said made everything even more strange. “They’re right behind you, Matt,” she said, pointing towards the end of the ship's portside quarter-deck.

I turned.........and saw two women standing at the end of the quarter-deck. Both were dressed in cargo fatigues with RCMP insignia. “What the........,” Mike Smith said in a stunned, ‘am I seeing things or what’ manner. He wasn’t the only one; I was stunned also, for different reasons. “Okay, what am I missing here?”

Nox spoke first. “I’m sorry to be here under these circumstances, but Melissa and I really had no choice. Someone in your Bureau burned us last week; the news only got to Williams two days ago. There was a confrontation between us,” referring to her and Patten, “and several of Williams’s people near Juarez Airport. If it hadn’t been for your friend Billi,” nodding towards Billi, “neither of us would’ve made it. She’s one hell of a driver, by the way. You should hire her for your detective agency, Mr. Little.”
“That’s good, but.......what about this ship?”

“All the crew and officers are either Canadian navy or RCMP personnel. You and your people are safe. Except for one.” Dineen pulled out a flashdrive and inserted it into one of the laptop’s USB ports. “RCMP intercepted a satellite communication between Williams and Courvoiser last night; they flagged it on the advice of your FBI liasion in Ottawa.” It only took a few moments for the communication to upload and the audio to begin. The conversation was brief but there were a few references to the ‘gringos’ and to the American and his ‘puta’. “My guess is they were going to kill both you and Kelsey after this run,” Nox said. “Reminds me of what Pablo Escobar said he used to do with runners during the heyday of the Medellin Cartel back in the 80's. He’d hire runners, American pilots mainly, for five, six runs. Then after the sixth’ run, he’d invite them down to Medellin or Barranquilla, where’d they disappear, never to be seen again.”

“Matt?’ I looked back over at Chevalier, who now looked to be as worried as I was. “Should we continue.....”

“Like we have a choice, Slick?,” I said, turning away. “On the one hand, how the hell are we going to hide over 6000 pounds of heroin? On the other hand, Williams’ committed. Why? Simple. We have his dope. He’s not going to make a play against me, Kelsey or anyone else until he gets his product.” Little did I know how prophetic those words were going to be, for that was what Williams’ was planning. We just didn’t know it at the time.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:10 am

Chapter 10

***3 days later, 50 miles south of Velo City***
C’mon, you Habs, hurry the **** up!, I kept thinking as the cargo crew, all of who were either RCMP or Canadian Forces personnel, began off-loading the solid fuel bladders of Blackjet Tar off the Lafayette onto two Porsche Fearless cigarette boats and the Silver Ace. Down below, Sgt. Dineen was coordinating the transfer, while Slick and Billi were on both Fearless’ with a couple of crew on each to secure each load. Standing next to me was one of the CF personnel, a Lieutenant DeBoutille, along with Mike Smith. “How much long?,” I asked the lieutenant.

“Let me check.” He called down to Sgt. Dineen, who called back up with an estimate. “Nox says it’ll be another hour; they just started.” That sounds about right, I thought. I looked over at Smith, who was watching the off-loading proceed. “Mike, I’m gonna’ grab a drink, maybe a bite to eat before we take off.”

“Alright.” No sooner had I begun heading to the door when the satellite phone rang. “Mike, we expecting any calls?”

“No, Matt, not that I know of.” I grabbed the sat phone and walked off the bridge into a nearby corridor. “Who’s this?” Silence came over the line for several seconds, then I heard a television being played in the background. As I listened, Mike Smith walked over to where I was standing. He started to ask what was up; I heard a finger up to indicate I wanted silence. “Something’s up, Mike.” Then the background noise stopped and a gruff, mean voice came on. “I got someone here who wants to say high, vato.” My heart plummeted and my blood ran ice-cold as a familiar voice came on the line. “Matt? Matt?” It was Kelsey. “Some friends you got here. Since when did we start working with--............” Her voice abruptly cut with a brief scream; I jumped in my skin when I heard it. As the connection cut, I looked at Smith and said, “They’ve got Kelsey. Get Slick and the others up here, NOW!” As Smith ran towards the gangway ladder to alert the others, I stood there, trembling. I held my hand up in the air; it was shaking as if I was standing in the epicenter of an earthquake. I closed my fist several times, but it wouldn’t stop shaking. Oh, God, please let her be alright, I thought as the others entered the hallway. “What’s wrong, Matt?,” Slick asked.

Calming myself down to where I didn’t look rattled, I looked right at Chevalier. “They’ve got Kelsey. We’ve been set-up; they just sent proof of life now.” His face turned ice-cold. “Did they say anything else?”
“No, but–“ The satellite phone rang again; I answered and another voice, belonging to the cartel’s local enforcer, Jason Owens, began to speak. “Pay attention. I will now tell you how the load is to be delivered. You have forty-five minutes to proceed into the Inner Harbor. Once you arrive, I will then give you a second set of directions. We will be watching you the whole time. You **** up, we **** her up.” The phone clicked off, the silence deafening. I looked over at Slick. “How long before we’re loaded up?”

“Shouldn’t be more than a few minutes.” I knew that wasn’t completely true; I could faintly hear the whirr of the transfer lines running between the cargo ship and the go-fast boats.

“Slick, let’s go ahead and take off. They got us on a timeline. We have to leave now.” As soon as I laid down the phone, Chevalier tossed over my Bren Ten .45; I checked to see if it was loaded and placed it in its’ familiar hiding place. “Let’s go.”

***aboard the Silver Ace, enroute to Velo City***
After all of us left the bridge, I headed down to the Silver Ace and hopped aboard; right on my heels was Mike Smith along with both Sgt. Dineen and Sgt. Patten of the RCMP. It was hard to believe that either of them had made it as high up as they had in the cartel, but it didn’t matter at the moment. As Billi and Slick cast off the ropes and hopped aboard, I grabbed one of the headsets, plugged it in and then hooked the sat phone connector to the headset. Dialing in an emergency number, it only took a moment for Commander Egan to come on the line. “Go.”

“Chris, its’ Matt. They took Kelsey. I don’t know where they’re holding her, but its’ got to be close to the Harbor.” I could hear the sounds of a helicopter on the other end; Egan was in an Air Support chopper. “What did she say? Did she say where she was at?”, Egan asked.

“Connection cut out before she could give a location---”
“Did they give you a new drop point?”
“Not yet, but its’ a safe bet they’ll have surveillance on us. By the way, thanks for the heads-up on our allies,” giving the Canadians a wink and a nod.

“No problem on that, but let’s find Kelsey first.” As the line went silent, I slammed the throttles to the firewall; the Silver Ace took it as a challenge and took off at full speed. Maybe we can beat them to the drop site. Looking up, I could see the chopper’s navigation lights; for all our efforts on the grounds, it was up to them to find the target.

***30 minutes later, Pier 47, Inner Harbor***
There was a nervous tension in the air as we jumped off the Silver Ace onto the pier; above us, the night sky seemed charged with electricity, despite the absence of clouds anywhere. Almost as soon as I could, I ran towards the Audi parked on the dock; Billi was behind the wheel, having gotten off the boat first. I motioned her to pop the trunk; reaching inside, I grabbed an M4 carbine, loaded it and charged the rifle. As I was doing so, Slick, Dineen and Patten ran towards the Audi, jumping into the car as I hopped into the front passenger seat. Above, the Air Support chopper kept its’ airborne vigil, searching for wherever Kelsey could be. We’d no sooner began to leave the harbor when the satellite phone rang again. This time, it was Williams. “Oye’, Matthew. I hear your friend’s in trouble—“

”Cut the ****, Williams. What do you want?”
“I want my product back. Otherwise, I’ll introduce your lady friend to some associates of mine named Black & Decker.” The way he said it made my blood chill but outwardly I was unfazed. “You still there?”
“Yeah, I’m still here.”

“The drop point’s on the north end of Van Nuys Airport. Be there, three hours time.”

“I’ll Be there, Williams. You be there also,” I said with a glint of anger. As the connection, I dialed another number from memory. Commander Egan answered it on the first ring. “Go ahead, Matt.”

“We got the drop site. North end, Van Nuys Airport. It is,” looking at my watch for a second, “11:48pm, so the drop’ll be around 3am.”
“Got it. Doesn’t EIC have a safehouse in that area–“

”Unfortunately, no. The Valley’s Rising Sun territory, Commander.” There was an unspoken rule regarding the three major street racing clubs in regards to how Velo City. The valley and everything north of the 101 and west of the 170 was Rising Sun’s part of the city. Everything from the Harbor up to where the 5 and 10 freeways connected was Musclebomb territory. Everything else was EIC country. For a couple of seconds I kept thinking of where to rendevous prior to the meeting. Then it hit me, there was a place.........”Commander, there’s a parking structure behind the Petersen Automotive Museum along Wilshire Boulevard. Meet me there.” Hanging up the phone, I gave Billi the directions and told her to step on it. Everything was now time-critical and the clock, as they say, was now running.

***12:20am, 7 Nov. 2011***
If the concrete of the parking garage had carpet on it, there’d be a hole where I’d been pacing the floor, waiting for Egan’s people to arrive. Besides myself, Billi stood on the driver’s side, a Beretta 9mm holstered at the hip. Mike Smith and Mike Chevalier stood with a pair of SA-80 rifles, while both Sergeants’ Dineen and Patten stood towards the rear of the car, both carrying Canadian model C8 rifles. As the six of us stood there around the Audi, two large sedans, Crown Vics’ by the looks of them, drove up onto the same floor we were on. They came to a stop and Commander Egan got out, almost at a running trot. As he got to where we were at, I introduced them to both RCMP officers. “At least we got something right,” he said in an effort to break the tension.

“By the way, who was the mole, Egan?,” I asked.
“Take one guess......and no, it wasn’t Barnhart. The leak and the mole originated out of FBI headquarters in Washington. District police arrested the man as he attempted to leave via. Reagan International. Anyway,” pausing to spread out a large map of the northern end of Van Nuys Airport, “there’s an huge parking lot on the north end of Runway 16R. Two buildings,” pointing to marks on the map, “within 600 meters should provide us with cover for sniper teams to watch over you and the others. How do you think they’ll set it up?”

Looking down at the map, I went back to all the heists and scores I had pulled off and thought, if I were Williams........”Alright, here’s what I’m betting they’ll do. The nearest major boulevard to that end of the runway is Roscoe Boulevard, here. If I were them, I’d want to have a rapid get-away, so that’s where they’ll enter the lot–“
”We could place a sniper team at this location here,” said a SWAT officer standing nearby, “and a second there, with a third in high cover for observation.”
“That’s good, but........my guess is that they’ll try an L-shaped ambush, meaning they’ll have to set up their shooters on the north and west sides around the lot. Thing is,” I added, “they won’t fire at us ‘til the money and dope have changed hands. If I can stall them just long enough so that your teams can find their snipers, then we can even the odds.”

Commander Egan turned to the SWAT officer. “Lieutenant, get your teams into position; I’ll accompany team three to the observation post. How are you and your people, Matt, going to get into position?”

“We’ll come in from the west, off of Raymer here,” pointing to a side street near the north end of 16R, “and cut onto the airport roadway and head to the rendevous. This time of night, all the airport police will likely be patrolling the south end–“

”Don’t worry; we’ll have Metro units patrolling that area in their stead. One thing, though. Don’t fire until we’ve got their shooters out of the way.” He waited for anyone to object, then left to set up the observation posts around the drop site. As he walked away, I motioned for everyone to gather around the Audi. “Alright, I know we’ve been through some rough stuff in the past, but humor me on this one. Watch your sectors, but don’t fire until Egan’s shooters have taken out their shooters out. Okay?” After waiting a couple of seconds, I added, “Let’s suit up.”

Without even waiting, Billi reached inside the Audi and popped the trunk, revealing several long-barrels rifles and shotguns and a half-dozen pistols; several boxes of ammo were also in the trunk as well. I took a quick glance at my watch; it was almost 1am. Hopefully I know what the **** I’m doing, I said to myself as I picked up one of the SA-80s and loaded it, making sure to keep the safety on. As I got everything set, I kept asking myself, what did I miss earlier? What warnings didn’t I pick up on.........followed by a simple thought: all that doesn’t matter now, Webster. There’s only one person that matters right now and she’s depending on you and your crew to get her out of this. I know, I know, I thought to myself in reply, looking over at the two Canadians, who were also getting ready to go as well.

As I got one of our crew’s mobile earpieces in place, I kept asking, why is it that they were able to infiltrate the cartel sans’ any problems. 2 answers crept into mind; one I dismissed outright, the other felt like a warning of sorts.......what, I wasn’t certain. Maybe the RCMP’s going to set up shop in Velo City, I mused. Wouldn’t surprise me; Velo City was the modern-day version of Casablanca and with rare exception, nothing surprised me anymore.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:10 am

Chapter 11

****En route to drop site, near 3am, 7 Nov. 2011****
‘Once more into the breach’, I whispered to myself..........’cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’. I sat back in the front passenger seat as the Audi blew through intersection after intersection on its’ way up into the Valley. If Billi thinks this is exciting, driving like a bat out of hell, wait ‘til she hits Laurel Canyon as it winds through the Santa Monica mountains, I thought as I sat back and watched us fly up the road. As we continued up towards the Valley, I wondered what was going to happen; did we think of everything. Someone once told me during my time in the Corps, “All plans disintegrate at first contact.” How true that can be at times; the same similarities that one saw in the military or in law enforcement were true of private investigators also. I also knew the risks were there; you didn’t dance on the razor’s edge forever and not fall off. Those that thought they could live forever usually didn’t and I didn’t intend to dance forever on that edge; too much was at stake now.

Eventually we made our way through the mountains which bisect Velo City; out in the distance I could make out the lights of the101 freeway and the 170 nearby. After letting everyone know, I checked the GPS to see where we were at. “Alright, Billi; stay on Laurel Canyon ‘til we hit Sherman Way, then head west to Woodley.”

“Got it, Matt,” she replied, promptly stepping on the throttle as the Audi rocketed its’ way forward. Sitting back in the seat, I posed a question to Sgt. Dineen. “So, now that your cover’s been blown, what does the RCMP have in store for you and your colleague?”

“I don’t know. There was talk when we took the assignment that they were going to open a liaison office in Velo City, ostensibly to assist the local authorities in protecting the Canadian consulate. On the other hand, they could assign us as liaisons’ to your city’s police.”
“Sort of like ‘Due South’ but here rather than Chicago?”
“Sort of like that.”
“Let me ask you this. Why RCMP on this; why not Canadian SIS or JTF-2?”

“You may not believe this, but we Mounties’ have one of the best intelligence units of any national agency in the world. Even your FBI sends its’ agents to Ottawa every so often to learn from us.”
“I’m impressed,” I said. “You know, I dated an FBI agent for several months–“
”Stephanie Harrington; I know. My condolences,” Dineen said.
“How the–,” I asked.

“When you and Kelsey went to meet Courvosier, Will asked me to background both of you. That’s how I found out; by the way, it only took three hours for me to determine you two were not who you said you were.” As I turned around at the news, Dineen laughed. “Quit worrying. I kept that info hidden from Williams; he would’ve killed both you and your wife in Ensenada if he’d known.” I whistled at that bit of news; I looked over at Billi, whose face looked flush red with embarrasment at the news that her’ work on our aliases’ had been burned that fast. “How did you know about—“

”Simple; you’ve had RCMP assets and FBI agents watching you ever since Ensenada.”
“Why the extra secrecy?”
“When I found out who you and Kelsey were, I talked to my handler in Mexico City, Inspector Thatcher. She talked to your Commander Egan and Deputy Barnhart; you two had agents watching you ever since that day.” I sat back and thought about it; then it dawned on me......no wonder we were never touched on the first two runs. “I have to ask. Did you follow Melissa and I that weekend......”

Dineen laughed for an instant; so did Patten. “For the record, no. When I saw you chase after Melissa that day in San Felipe, I got on the horn to our watchers and told them to back off. Oh, they were still watching but from afar. There was one exception; that restaurant in Guaymas. The bartender was a local asset.” As she said it, I thought back to that day. I wondered why the bartender winked at both of us......now I know.

“Let me ask you this. How close are you guys to shutting down the Cartel?”
“With the evidence both myself and Sergeant Patten have accumulated over the past 15 months, there’s enough evidence to bring down a good portion of it. Your country’s not the only one concerned with the Sinaloa Cartel. In our case, it has to do with the ties between the Cartel and the street gangs in Vancouver and Toronto. Someone was supplying them with high-grade heroin and we didn’t know who.”
“What’s it going to be like going back to the mundane after all this time under?”

Shaking her head, Dineen thought about it for speaking. “I’ll worry about that after tonight–,” but before she could finish, the satellite phone rang. It was Commander Egan. “Matt, all our people are in position. Where are you at right now?”
I checked the GPS before answering. “We’re on Sherman, just passing under the 210.”
“Good; we’ll be watching.” The connection cut off. “Alright, we’re in position; might as well get ready.” With that, all of us except Billi began checking our weapons. Right behind us, Mike Chevalier, Mike Smith and Chris Vick were in a second Audi; I grabbed the rover from the center panel. “Hey, Slick, you still with us?”

“Right behind you, Matt. How come you get to ride with the ladies and I’m stuck with Tsar back here?”
“Bad luck, I guess,” I said, laughing at the thought of Slick and Tsar having to share the same vehicle. “Listen, when we get to the drop site, park to the right of us, okay?”
“Got it, Matt.” I put the rover back down and sat back; there really wasn’t anything left to do but wait ‘til we got to the drop site.

***3am, drop site, just north of VNA Runway 16R***
Here we are, I thought, as both Audi pulled to a stop in what appeared to be a vacant parking lot just past the end of the runway. Off in the distance were several large buildings, but my focus was on the line of Escalades’ and H2 Hummers’ opposite us. “Ready, everyone?” I said to Billi, Nox and Melissa. “Let’s go then.” All four of us, along with Slick and the others, got out and walked in front of the Audi.; likewise, Williams, Owens and several Aryans’ walked out in front of their vehicles. I could faintly hear Egan talking as he and a SWAT spotter looked for Williams’ shooters. As I stood in front of the Audi, hands gripping the SA-80 I had, I didn’t see Kelsey anywhere. As I continued to look, Williams yelled out, “I see you made it, Matthew,” emphasizing my name as if it were an expletive. Part of me wanted to go over and beat the ever-living crap out of him for what was occurring, but I tempered it by thinking, ‘He’ll get his in the end. Just wait.’ “You got my product?”

“I got it. You got Kelsey over there?” Moments later two Aryans’ walked into view, each one holding Kelsey. She looked uninjured but the grip they had on her suggested otherwise. As I looked over at her, her eyes locked with mine, as if she were trying to say something. Time to get this dance started, I thought. “Billi,” I said, looking over towards her. “Check the money; make sure its’ there.” As she started to walk over there, Williams motioned for Owens to do likewise. “No!,” I yelled.

“Why?,” he replied. “What difference does it make, Matthew?”
“Listen to me, *******. I do not want that ************ anywhere near me,” pointing over towards Owens, whose smirkish grin had disappeared, replaced by a snarl. “You want your dope? Send Kelsey over............or it travels.” That seemed to shut Williams up for a brief instant; he motioned to the two Aryans’, who released their grip on Kelsey. As she walked towards us, Billi walked towards Williams and his people, a long-barreled Mossburg pump shotgun at the ready. As they passed, I could hear Egan’s voice over the earpiece........”Got one shooter in sight; looking for number two.”

Finally, Kelsey reached our side of the lot; I walked over and hugged her very tightly, as if I were holding onto a piece of debris from an oceanwreck. “You alright, babe?,” I asked, brushing a stray hair aside. She was breathing very rapidly but didn’t seem injured. “Yeah, I’m alright. Just scared to death, that’s all,” she said, half laughing, half crying.

“It’s alright, it’s alright,” I said in a nervous yet hyper-sensitive tone. Inside I was happy but I also knew everything could go belly-up in an instant. Just then, Egan’s voice came over the earpiece. “Second shooter spotted.” Several seconds later several loud cracks could be heard and all hell broke loose as everyone opened up on each other. A cacophony of rifle and pistol sounds could be heard as we all dove for cover. Sighting down on one of the Aryans’, I squeezed off several rounds, dropping him as if he were a marionette with the strings cut. Off to my left, I could see both Dineen and Patten firing from single-knee positions, both firing Beretta 9's in a rapid-fire manner.

As I dove for cover, I could hear the bullets from Williams’ people pinging off the sides of the Audi; off in the distance the sounds of sirens could be heard. Over the din of the bullets I could hear the loud blasts of Billi’s shotgun. I looked for a brief moment but didn’t see her. C’mon, kid, get out of there, I said quietly. Suddenly, I saw her break from the far side of one of the Hummers’; behind her a trail of bullets hit the lot, sending up sparks but not hitting her. “Run, run!” I yelled over to her. As she ran back to our side of the lot, she stopped and fired several rounds at the cartel’s people, hitting one of them in the leg. He yelled down, screaming bloody murder. It wasn’t long, though, as a shot from Slick’s rifle silenced him. After a few more agonizing seconds, Billi dove for cover behind a set of tires and stayed there for several moments before firing once again at Williams’s crew.

Eventually, their numbers began to decline as more and more of his people fell to rifle and pistol fire; this was evident in the slowdown in firing from our side. Just as I was reloading, several Bearcats roared onto the parking lot from our side and the north end of the lot. Finally, the cavalry’s arrived, I thought as a dozen or VCPD officers clambered out and began firing on the cartel’s people. It wasn’t long before the firing died down completely and Williams' people began tossing their weapons on the ground. Above, the lights of several choppers could be seen, their searchlights piercing the late night sky. As things began to settle down, all of us walked towards Williams and his crew, still wary and cautious. Reaching behind me, I pulled my .45 out and pointed it right at Williams; he was sitting on the ground, his back propped up along one of the Escalades’. He looked at me contemptuously, spitting on the ground in front of me. “I wouldn’t breathe easy, vato,” he said about as contemptuosly. “You’re a marked man. Don’t think this is the end; we’ll get you–“

”Well,” I said, grabbing his arm and jerking him up on his feet, “you know where to find me, vato.” I began to walk away, looking over towards Commander Egan, who was barking out orders on a rover. Nearby, both Sergeants Dineen and Patten were talking to Egan’s deputy, while Billi, Slick and the others were leaning on one of the Audi’s. I walked back behind him and saw Kelsey sitting down, a dull-gray blanket wrapped around her. I sat down beside her, not saying anything as she leaned over, her head resting on my shoulder. “You alright?,” I asked her.

“Yeah,” she said, looking far older than she was. I’d seen that look before, on the faces of people who’d been through stressful situations in the past. If I’d looked in a mirror right then, chances are I would’ve looked the same also. As we sat there, shaking from all the adrenalin and nervous energy of the past few weeks, Commander Egan came over and sat down near us. “Is it over?”, Kelsey asked, her voice breaking with a nervous twinge.

“It’s over,” I replied, continuing to hold her next to me. In the distance, we could see Williams and what was left of his crew being led to one of the Bearcats as Commander Egan undid the straps holding his flak vest together, setting them on the ground at his feet. “Normally,” Egan said as the three of us leaned back against the Audi, “we’d try to start the debriefing process as soon as possible, but considering everything that’s happened the past few weeks, especially the past few days..........we’ll hold off on the debriefing for a day or so.”

“Let me ask you, Commander,” I said to him. “How much of the Cartel did we take down?”
“We won’t know for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but my guess is that, when you combine what you and Kelsey did with the work the Canadians’ did, the Sinaloa Cartel will be a fragment of its’ former self when it’s all said and done.”
“What about Williams and his crew?”
“If they’re smart, they’ll turn state’s evidence. Chances are, it’ll be a race between him and Owens to see who goes to the U.S. attorney fastest.” He sighed and sat back against the Audi; the air seemed thick with cordite, the sounds of sirens and people barking out orders were everywhere. “Matt, let me ask you something,” I looked over towards Egan, wondering just where he was going now. “How come you never wanted to be a cop?”

For a moment I looked up at the sky, then began laughing uproariously. After a few moments Kelsey joined in and Egan was at a loss.....”Well?”

Pausing to look over at Egan, I replied, “Commander Egan, there are three groups of people I don’t trust in this world. I don’t trust politicians, I sure as hell don’t trust lawyers and with a couple of exceptions, I don’t trust cops.” It only took him a few moments to understand that bit of sarcasm and he began to laugh as well. Taking one last look towards the other end of the lot, Egan got up, dusted himself off and helped Kelsey and I up off the ground. As the three of us walked away, I looked over at Egan, pulled out a Zero Degrees honorary guest card and said to him, “You know, Commander, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

He looked over at me, took the card and started to laugh; pretty soon, both Kelsey and I joined in. Time to rejoin society, I thought, taking one last look back towards the parking lot. As I did, I swore that this was the last time I’d walk the criminal life. They used to say, “Once in the life, always in the life.” Well, not after tonight. Maybe there is a little bit of truth to the idea of walking the straight and narrow. Then I thought, what.......and give up the street racing life? Yeah, right.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:11 am


AP NEWS...................Officials Cite Cooperative Effort in Breaking Cartel---November 2011
(pictures are of U.S. Atty. Gen and Canadian Justice Minister during announcement of Operation Black Sands in Washington, D.C.)
..................officials in both Washington and Ottawa have begun releasing information concerning a two-year effort to break one of the major Mexican drug cartels. According to sources within both the U.S. Department of Justice and Canada’s Ministry of Justice, the operation, code-named Black Sands, has struck a major blow to the Mexican-based Sinaloa Cartel. Law enforcement personnel across North America began arresting members of the cartel this week based on intelligence and information gathered by a multi-national task force; although officials were cautious in their optimism, sources close to the AP hinted that the scope of the arrests could reach well inside Mexico, possibly to include members of the Mexican government..........

So what did eventually happen?
~~~When the dust settled, over 60 members of the Sinaloa Cartel were arrested, tried and convicted in both Canada and the United States for crimes ranging from money-laundering, drug trafficking and other crimes. Sentences ranged from five years to life without parole.
~~~Sinaloa kingpin Raoul Courvosier fled Mexico for South America, where he bounced around from Brazil to Chile, eventually landing in Venezuela. The U.S. has requested his extradition several times in the past year; each time it has been refused by the Chavez regime. He currently remains on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Listed.
~~~For their 16-month efforts in helping to bring down the Cartel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeants Nox Dineen and Melissa Patten both received commendations for their work; both were later assigned to the Canadian Consulate in Velo City as liaison officers to the Velo City Police Department..............

***Zero Degrees Nightclub, New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2011***
New Year’s Eve; the club was packed with hundreds of people ready to celebrate the New Year. Grabbing a glass of champagne from the bar, I headed over to a nearby table, where everyone was chatting as the time counted down. One of the new widescreens’ showed tens of thousands of revelers’ in downtown Velo City near City Hall; there was an unabashed air of celebration all around. Reaching the table, I said almost comedically, “Since when did we allow Vick to drink champagne?”

“I don’t think it’s going to kill him,” Kelsey said, “and it is New Year’s,” she added, leaning back in her chair with an almost sly, relaxed manner. “Besides, if he does get out of line.....”

“What, and have us subject the people of South Velo to Rhinor? Isn’t that considered torture in some countries?,” I replied, leaning down to kiss her. Taking a nearby seat, I sat down, watching the widescreen’s count down towards New Year’s. As I was sitting down, Mike Chevalier looked over and asked, “Everything back to normal?”

“You could say that, Slick,” I replied. After that night in Van Nuys, Kelsey and I had gone through nearly two days’ worth of de-briefings by local and federal authorities, not to mention they’d wanted to place us under police protection, which we’d grudgingly agreed to. Indeed, I looked back towards the bar and saw two of Kelsey’s detectives, standing at the bar trying to look nonchalant. “Any way, Matt,” he added, "you think the cartel’s gone for good?”

“Probably not. Someone else will take the reins sooner or later; it always happens.” As we continued our conversation, a couple of others gathered around. By now, our corner table was packed; besides Kelsey and myself, Mike Chevalier and his wife, Sarah, were there opposite us. The “kids” of M-K Investigations, Chris Vick, Michael Brewer and Annie Luckett, were their animated selves’. Mike Smith and Melissa Marquis, the other principals within the agency, were joking about something; what it was I had no idea. As the time approached midnight, I raised my champagne glass and got everyone’s attention. “A toast,” I said, pausing as everyone raised their own glasses, “to good friends!”

“To good friends!,” came the reply; as everyone took a sip of champagne, the clock passed one minute ‘til midnight. “Any last wishes before New Year’s?,” I said as the seconds counted down. As the seconds wound down, I thought about the year that had passed and the year that was about to arrive..................”Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!,” cried out everyone. As everyone celebrated throughout the club, I turned to Kelsey and whispered, “Happy New Year,” cupping her face in my hands and kissing her passionately. Returning it just the same, she replied, “Happy New Year.” As we turned back around to celebrate the New Year, I couldn’t help but think about the path my life had taken to that point, with all the twists and turns in it. I thought, I am one truly lucky individual. I’m married to a very beautiful woman, I’ve got some of the best friends one could have and I’m a member of the best damned street racing club in Velo City. Yeah, I thought to myself as I finished the small flute of champagne.............life is good.
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