Angel

By: Irish Winters
An SOBs Novel




Prologue


It was an ordinary day. Weather was good and skies were clear. The operation was supposed to be hands-down easy. Retrieve the package. Waste any and all tangos on the way in. Bust ass to the extraction point on the way out. Exfil in record time. Job over. Go home. Kick your boots off. Kill a few beers.

Wasn’t working out that way.

Chief Chance Sinclair and his eight-man SEAL team had been tasked to retrieve a kidnapped missionary, a woman, Gillian Enright, from a band of Shining Path guerillas outside Lima, Peru. Where once the Shining Path wanted world domination and communism, now they wanted control of the country’s drug trade. Being converted to Christianity by bible thumping do-gooders from the heart of North America wasn’t on their agenda.

Mrs. Enright’s husband Reed had died fast and hard, but they’d taken Gillian hostage instead of hacking her to death by machete. They wanted three million from the Peruvian government for her release. Since the Enrights were Americans, the President of Peru contacted the President of the United States. In turn, he called an admiral friend.

When talks between the guerillas and the United States disintegrated, Chance’s SEAL Team won the lottery—and a CIA escort to Peru. There hadn’t been sufficient time to rehearse this extraction like they usually did, not with the woman’s life on the line. Chance had done enough of these rescues. His team knew what to do. So why was his gut pulling a U-turn on him when they had maybe twenty yards left to engage the tangos?

Because he had yet to spot any.

One step on dry land, and he’d already fisted his hand, signaling his men to stand fast. They’d just climbed out of the murky, snake-infested river at their rear. Geared-up as only Navy SEALs could be, with grease paint, waterproof grenades dangling from their belts, enough weaponry to start a war, waterlogged and crawling with mosquitoes and flies, they snapped to and held position.

Chance popped one of the peppermint candies he always packed around with him into his mouth to negate the after taste of the dirty river. He couldn’t shake the prickly sensation of spiders crawling up the back of his neck. He and his men were being watched. He was sure of it.

One quick look at the three POS shacks straight ahead made the sensation worse. No concertina wire. No lookout towers. No guards. Not even a curl of smoke from the fire pit to prove this band of Shining Path guerillas had recently been here. Yet this was the place.

“Something’s up, Chief,” Jimmy Superman Olsen whispered at his six, his voice of steel as firm as if this mess were just another bump in the road. “She was supposed to be here. A couple dozen assholes, too.”

“Then where is everyone?” Gerard Hot Shot Rowe bit out. Hot Shot was forever short on patience, hence the nickname. Both men had served with Chance for years. They knew each other’s moves, brews, and whether the other wore boxers or briefs. He owed them to do this right and to get them home safely, but Chance was no quitter like his old man. He owed that sister missionary safe passage out of Peru, too.

“Our fuckin’ intel’s wrong,” Kevin Chill Frost advised. The blood ran as cold as ice in the team’s best sniper’s veins.

Possibly.

It shouldn’t be wrong. It came straight from their missing CIA Agent Card, aka The Dick, not his real name. Assigned by higher-ups beyond CO Tom Bratton’s pay grade, this op had been screwed from the get-go, once the spook got involved. Central Intelligence didn’t play well with others. Neither did The Dick.

Like a privileged frat boy off-campus, he came and went as he pleased, offered random updates at the last damned moment, then ghosted when the going got tough. He’d been late for take-off, too. Made Chance’s team wait two hours on the tarmac for his sorry ass like they had nothing better to do. Like now, when seconds counted. When lives hung in the balance.

“Where’s Card?” Chance asked, his eyes still parsing the scene ahead.

“Said he had to take a leak a mile back,” Merrick Ears Wong, his communications guy, reported. “You were underwater by then, or I’d have told you. Thought the shithead’d be back by now.”

“What? He couldn’t pee in the river like everyone else?” Darrell Texas Contreras grumbled.

Chance understood why Ears hadn’t reported sooner. Helmet mics might be waterproof, but a man still couldn’t speak underwater. It figured Card would wait until then to take off. “Contact him, Ears,” Chance ordered. “I want his ass with us when we go in.”

Ears adjusted his headset, and dialed The Dick. A grim shake of his head told Chance all he needed to know. Card wasn’t answering. As usual. A man could only hope an anaconda or something just as lethal had swallowed the sniveling bastard whole for all the good he’d been. Not that it mattered. The primary goal of this mission was to rescue this lone woman from the Shining Path, not to save Card’s ass. Chance didn’t intend to deviate.

Superman cleared his throat, an outright question in spec ops lingo: Are we going in or bugging out?

Chance stalled, still quarterbacking the scene, second-guessing and not willing to risk his men for what sure as hell felt like an ambush. He damned well knew it, but this crap was what SEALs did every single day. The impossible.

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