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Книга Army of Devils. Содержание - 17

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Leaning her weight onto the knee, Flor asked, "The truck will go to that address. Are there any codes or passwords?"

"No. The radio is coded. No one else could send a message to the truck but…"

Holding the AK by the pistol grip, Flor put the muzzle to the tip of Shabaka's nose. His eyes wide with panic, he pleaded, "No, no. I am your prisoner. No!"

"Are you telling the truth?"

"Yes, I am telling the truth. Please don't shoot, I am your prisoner, I have told you everything…"

Turning to the medics, Flor motioned them to resume their care. She limped away from Shabaka without a backward glance. "Now we go to the border."

"Not you," Lyons told her.

"Why not?" his lover demanded.

"Your leg. You've been shot."

"It is nothing. A bullet fragment. I took it out with my fingernails. Come, you three..." Flor signaled the three men of Able Team. "With your help, I can stop this horrible drug. We can stop all the killing and the nightmares. Come."

Barefoot, she broke into a limping run to the helicopter.


A sea of wind-shimmering lights defined the city of Tijuana. Straight lines of lights marked the boulevards, snaking tongues of lights marked the coloniasof cardboard shacks in the hills and canyons. To the west, the lights of ships sparked from the vast mirror of the moonlit Pacific.

To the north, the city's lights ended abruptly at a boulevard. Then came a land of darkness and searing points of xenon white, the no-man's-land marking the southern border of the United States.

There, in the sand of the dry rivers and dust and mesquite of the hard-dirt hills, the United States border patrol fought the never-ending police action to stop the flow of Central Americans to the restaurants and factories and barrios of North America.

Every night, with the aid of all the technology of the United States — trucks, radios, remote audio sensors, infrared scanners, magnetic sensors — the officers of the border patrol arrested and deported thousands of the would-be workers.

And every night, the hopeful workers tried again. With the skills learned through generations of poverty and revolution and repression, of running, hiding, stoic endurance of pain and hunger and disappointment and courage, the tide of seasonal immigrants surged into the no-man's-land again.

Though the violent cholos — street punks from Tijuana — and the coyotes, who smuggled the illegals for pay, forced the border patrol to carry weapons and replace their trucks' window glass with steel mesh, the officers did not consider the losing battle against the illegals dangerous. Their work became dehumanizing — every night they had to arrest, process and deport thousands of people guilty only of hope. Often they laughed at the futility of their responsibility even while they struggled to enforce the law.

"Like trying to hold back the ocean with your hands," Patrol Agent Miles said through the helicopter's intercom. "That truck you want will come through the freeway gates over there."

The hard-muscled, good-humored young agent pointed to the complex of offices and inspections booths below them where the freeways of U.S. Highway 805 and Mexico Highway met at the border. The headlights and taillights of semitractor trailers carrying cargoes north and south streaked the freeways. Then he pointed to the lights of San Ysidro.

"And there's where it'll go. If you knew what the truck looked like, we could spot it at the border and follow it north. Eliminate any chance of a screw-up."

"We don't know what it looks like," Gadgets told him. The Stony Man electronics wizard pointed to the captured long-distance transceiver. "We only have the radio. I could transmit and backscan to their signal when they answered, but they know the voice of their man. We could blow it."

"Let's wait until they show up at the drop," Lyons advised.

"When exactly do you expect the delivery of the dope?" the patrol agent asked.

Flor spoke. "They didn't say a time. The one in the truck said they were making good time north. Said they were a hundred miles south of the border."

"A hundred miles?" Miles said. "When was this?"

"Two hours ago."

"Hey, friends," Agent Miles laughed. "Your people might be waiting for you. Trucks move fast on those Mexican highways."

"The Drug Enforcement Agency's already watching the address," Flor countered. "I gave them the address when I requested the unmarked cars."

"Those unmarked cars," Gadgets asked, "will they look like cars? Or will they look like unmarked police cars?"

"No way, hombre," Miles bantered. "They'll look like people cars. Your associate..." Miles nodded to Flor "...has the right credentials. The DEA operates its own used-car lot. They use them once, then sell them off. They buy cars, sell cars, take trade-ins, and they go straight into the war on Dope International. Always good cars. We use them to put the snap on coyotes."

The pilot of the National Guard helicopter returned to the border patrol's base. Flor and Patrol Agent Miles went into the office to confirm, via border-patrol radio, the waiting unmarked cars and the surveillance of the drop address.

Able Team gave their equipment a final check as the helicopter's rotors revved. When Flor returned from the office, she slipped her Kevlar Windbreaker over a denim jump suit. She put the fourth secure-frequency hand-radio in one of the Windbreaker's pockets. As she strapped on a bandolier of Uzi mags, Lyons shouted to her over the rotorthrob, "We need someone to stay here to coordinate."

"If you think you must, then you must," Flor told him. "The three of us can take them without you."

"I mean you," Lyons told her.


"You're already wounded. No more talk. Pilot, up! Take it up!"

Lyons shoved her backward out the side door. Falling to the pavement only two feet below, she grabbed at the skid as the helicopter floated away.

Lyons looked down as Flor cursed him, her words unheard over the roar of the rotorblast.

* * *

A hundred feet above the parking lot of the Drug Enforcement Agency offices in San Diego, they saw a man in a suit run through the streetlights.

He stood in the rotorstorm as the helicopter touched down. Lyons jumped to the asphalt and helped Gadgets and Blancanales unload suitcases of weapons and electronic gear. Reaching the helicopter, the DEA officer stopped them.

"I just got a report from the stake-out cars," he shouted to Able Team as the rotors turned above them. "The truck waited there for an hour or so. Then two carloads of Federals showed up and escorted the truck away."

"What!" Lyons gasped.

"Yeah, Federals they said. Described them as..." the DEA field officer read from the report "...unmarked Dodge with blackwall tires, institutional white, no trim. Antennas for radio telephones and police-band communications. Four Caucasian males. Crew cuts, suits, no sideburns, mustaches or beards. Second car was a pickup truck with blackwalls, no trim, antennas for radio telephone and police bands. Two clean-cut Caucasians in suits. What does that sound like to you?"

"Federals," Lyons agreed. "Or someone trying hard to look official. What do they mean, 'escorted'? Did they arrest them or what?"

"No, nothing like that. They helped the Mexicans back out the truck, and now they're all out on Otay Mesa Road. Our cars are keeping them in sight."

"Where does the road go?"

"The airfield."

"Got to stop them!" Lyons said as he climbed into the helicopter. They heard him shouting to the pilots.

Blancanales, swinging their equipment back into the Huey, asked two questions of the field agent. "Those Federals. They show anybody any identification?"

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