THE ANGRY DOVES
By Dorian Scott Cole
Copyright 1980, 1987, by Dorian Scott Cole
This book is copyright material, not public domain, and all rights are reserved. This book may not be reproduced in any form, in any media. This book may not be sold or included in any collection. The reader may make a printed copy of this book for his personal use.
All characters in this book are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental
Brad rose from his sitting position and stretched. He looked at his watch. "It's twelve thirty, almost lunch time. When do they feed you?"
"Oh, just call room service, and they'll bring it right up." William said sarcastically.
Brad smiled at William's obvious jest. "How's the menu?"
"Fine if you like rat. I suppose that's what it is. Rat soup for breakfast, rat soup for dinner. And a quarter loaf of delicious bread."
William heard a truck engine start. He rose and moved to the corner under the window, saying, "Give me a hand up."
Brad made a stirrup of his hands and boosted William to the window. William grasped the bars and pulled himself up until he could see out. Several more trucks started in succession.
"Truckloads of men and supplies. Looks like more are leaving camp." He dropped to the floor.
"What does that mean?" Brad asked.
"It means they'll soon be using that gallows out there."
Brad faced him speechlessly for a moment, then said, "That doesn't leave us much time. There must be a way to get you out. By God, I'll think of something!"
William looked at him compassionately. "Don't take it too personally.
There really isn't much you can do, and I accept that."
Brad hit his fist into his hand. "There has to be a way." He began to pace back and forth furiously.
Hoping it would calm Brad, William continued the story as Brad paced...
* * *
They flew into Beirut, Lebanon where they picked up the truck, Kenza's chemicals, supplies, lasers, mortars and other equipment. Gerald checked each over carefully to make sure they were all according to his order and none were damaged. Then he hid the mortars in the special compartment constructed in the walls of the truck sides beside the tool box.
The truck was well used. It had an appropriate collection of dents and bruises, and the rear bumper looked like it had been in a tug of war. It had the appearance of genuine oilfield equipment.
They headed for Lebanon's northern border with Syria. The border crossing held no cause for anxiety since they all used their real passports, and with a major oil pipeline crossing the area, and a local oil company logo on their truck, they appeared very legitimate.
They stayed on the main road, changing to an unimproved dirt road when near the area. Paul drove the unimproved trail with the obvious experience of a man accustomed to similar roads in South America. Kenza sat up front with Paul in the six passenger truck cab. William and Gerald scrutinized the terrain carefully as they drew closer.
After a few hours, William thought someone might be following them, but he knew it was easy to begin seeing the ghosts you are looking for by looking too hard. "Gerald, are you seeing any small dust clouds or an occasional metallic glint behind us?" William finally asked.
"I've seen enough to make me suspicious."
"Paul, over this next rise, pull over, and we'll see if we catch someone by surprise," William ordered.
As soon as the ground behind them rose enough to obscure their vehicle, Paul pulled off the road. Sure enough, in about three minutes a motorcycle appeared at the top of the rise, and immediately slowed, then accelerated past them. They continued to watch. At the next rise, he appeared to have motor trouble and pulled over. He fiddled with the motorcycle for a minute, and then finally got it going again, and went on.
William looked at Gerald. "What do you think?"
"I think he's following us."
"What if we follow him?" Paul asked.
"He could ride on forever," William replied.
"He can easily hide somewhere ahead of us and tail us again," Gerald added. "It will be nearly impossible to shake him in this open country."
"At least we know were being followed," William stated.
"Who is he?" Kenza asked.
William shrugged. "He may have a watch post back there for the terrorist camp. Maybe KGB. PLO. He may even be one of ours, CIA."
Kenza rolled her eyes expressively.
They continued on and arrived at the site they had designated as their base camp at six PM. They saw no further sign of their pursuer, but felt certain he knew their general whereabouts. They set up camp swiftly, had dinner from cans, and then Gerald grabbed Paul and they stalked off to see if they could find any sign of their friend on the motorcycle.
William made a quick check of everything, and then crawled in the tent beside Kenza. He had made a mental note to himself that Kenza had been quiet all day. He decided to check it out and ward off any problems.
"What's the matter, Kenza? Tired?"
"Scared. This is serious business, isn't it."
William nodded. Kenza was getting her first experience with field work.
"This is old hat to you, but I've never been out here like this. It sounded daring and exciting... especially to be with you... " She looked away. "Now I feel like I've been swept along into this thing without even thinking about it. I'm in the middle of a desert with three men I hardly know, on a dangerous mission I don't understand." She looked up at him, fearfully. "I wish I was home."
"Let's talk about it," William said reassuringly.
"Aren't you ashamed of me?"
"No, not at all," he said with a smile. "I get scared, too, when I get in a dangerous spot. I would think it was awfully strange if you weren't the least bit frightened."
"How do you handle the fear?" she asked.
"I guess it's mostly by past experience - knowing I've always come through somehow. But I try not to dwell on the things that can go wrong. I just prepare for them and think about the things that will help you get through."
"Oh? What are those?"
"For one thing, know your limitations. Don't get in situations that will be too much for you. We'll take care of that for you."
"What about wild animals?"
"This isn't darkest Africa. There's nothing bad here except scorpions and snakes."
She shuddered. "That's bad enough." She paused for a moment, thinking. "What about the man on the cycle?"
William sighed. The man on the cycle presented a real problem. "Don't
worry. Someone will be with you at all times."
She was visibly relieved for a moment, and then her smile faded again. "She held him tightly. "Don't let anything happen to you," she said anxiously.
He kissed her forehead and stroked her hair until she relaxed.
Paul and Gerald returned a short time later.
"Any sign of the cyclist?" William asked.
They shook their heads.
"Paul, you didn't want to get too close to that terrorist camp, did you?" William asked.
"The farther away, the better," he answered.
"Tomorrow, you stay here then. With that cyclist around, I need someone here with Kenza."
Gerald looked miffed. "This just isn't the place for a woman," he said with disgust.
* * *
The next morning William and Gerald drove to within five miles of the terrorist camp, and then hiked the remainder to avoid the truck being seen. From atop the ridge that surrounded two thirds of the camp, they got a clear view through binoculars. The few palm trees didn't hide much. The number of tents and vehicles hadn't changed. They explored the horseshoe ridge around the camp and viewed the camp from every angle, but learned nothing new.
William surveyed the steep slopes and broken terrain. "Do you think we could get the truck up here and maneuver around easily?" he asked Gerald.
"Sure," he replied confidently. "There's one area on the way up we might have to use the winch to assist us - just lasso a tree and the truck will pull itself up with the winch. Once up here, we can drive all the way around."
"How about at night?" William asked.
Gerald thought for a moment. "I wouldn't want to try this slope at night."
"Then let's find a good access slope now. I want to get up here tomorrow night and sneak in."
They located a slope that they thought they could get up safely at night, and then returned to the base camp. Paul and Kenza greeted them with news before they could get out of the truck.
"The guy on the motorcycle made contact with us while you were gone," Paul told them.
"What did he want?" William asked.
"Kenza talked to him in Arabic - lucky break she speaks Arabic, because he didn't speak English. Go ahead and fill him in, Kenza."
"About two hours after you left, the cyclist, an Arab - possibly Syrian, I think - rode in like we were expecting him or something."
"How old was he?" William interrupted.
"About twenty three, I suppose. He claimed he was a student."
"And he didn't speak English? I doubt he was a university student," William remarked skeptically. "Did he give any reason for stopping?"
"At first he said he was a geology student, a rock hound. He said he was taking rock samples. They're always doing that. He said he was curious why we stopped here and made camp."
"That sounds like a good cover story," Gerald muttered.
"What did you tell him we were doing?" William questioned.
"He kept asking about that; he was very interested. I finally told him we are a survey crew for an oil pipeline company. I pointed out the communications laser and told him we use it to check distances."
"Did he buy it? The cover story and all?"
"I couldn't tell. But he got friendly then; said his name was Ahmed and
he asked if we needed help. Naturally I said no, we had more than enough."
Paul continued the story. "He left, going back north. I watched him for about ten minutes from that rise. What do you think? He sounds legit."
"They always do," William sighed. "There isn't much we can do about it except be very wary in case he works for the terrorist camp. We'll stick to a tight schedule, before this guy brings trouble. Let's get everything ready. We'll slip in tonight and get the information. Tomorrow we'll try to make contact and do what we have to do."
William looked at Kenza, studying for a moment. "Kenza, tonight you come with us. You'll have to handle the chemicals and help Gerald operate the laser. You follow Gerald's directions implicitly, no matter what. If anything goes wrong, stay with the truck and get out of there fast."
William turned to Paul. "Tonight you be the lookout while Gerald and Kenza operate the equipment. At the first sign anyone is near you, get out of there. I can walk back if I have to."
Paul nodded. He and Gerald went to work lashing everything into the tool box so it would make no noise while William and Kenza installed the tripods for the lasers in the truck bed. Gerald removed the bulbs from the trucks rear lights. They left at nine, as planned, creeping slowly across the flat arid area with their headlights off, which made travel nerve-racking.
Several times they ran into small trees, often breaking them with a loud cracking noise. William winced each time they made noise. They made it up the slope with a minimum of bouncing and noise, and eased quietly to the top of the ridge.
William got out of the truck and looked at the valley below where the terrorists were. It was in inky blackness. Going over that steep ridge on foot looked like descending into outer darkness - scary as hell.
"Do you want me to come along, in case you run into trouble," Gerald offered
"No, but thanks. The toughest part is going to be getting down this hillside in the dark," William said, lying.
Kenza put her hand on William's shoulder. "I'm frightened... the chemicals were my idea. Maybe they won't work." She was getting jittery.
William gave her a kiss. "They'll work," he said reassuringly. "But right now, I'm just going to spread the stuff."
The moon was rising, but was hidden behind a layer of clouds. William was going to have minimal light to operate by. It was going to be rough. He strapped an image intensifier to his forehead, grabbed his equipment and went to the edge.
"If I'm not back by midnight, I'm playing cards late with the boys," he joked. He knew Gerald would catch the clue about the time. Something had gone wrong if he wasn't back by midnight.
He cautiously stepped down into the darkness. The image intensifier was little help on the slope. He slipped and fell, sending rocks and pebbles down the slope, apparently unheard. The canister of knockout powder hit his shin, nearly crippling him. He got up and hobbled on, holding the canister away from him, making his balance precarious.
As he neared the bottom, hands and arms aching from the strain, he slipped on loose gravel and fell, landing hard on his back, his head lashing back and hitting a rock. He lay there stunned, the wind knocked out of him, with the pain growing worse and worse until his head felt like a watermelon about to explode. He broke into a cold sweat. He was sure he had a concussion. What if he blacked out in the camp?
Walking slowly, painfully, toward the camp, he could see a small light burning in the distance, which guided him. Reaching what he thought was the perimeter, he observed the camp for several minutes. He couldn't see the
guards with their dogs, but decided to risk going in without knowing their exact position, hoping that with the image intensifier he would be able to see them if they got close.
He reached the tents undetected and groped around until he located the main tent. Feeling along the bottom edge, he found it open for ventilation. His head pounded as he bent over, and he had to fight the nausea which enveloped him. The canister spout was wrapped in sound padding to keep it quiet. He poured a trail of powder beside the tent, carefully avoiding tent spikes and cables.
Next, he went to the north end and poured a six foot circle solid with fluorescent powder. He moved to each side doing the same.
Just as he finished at the south end, a guard arrived with his dog. As William stood up, he heard the dog growl, indicating he had heard something. William slowly knelt to keep his profile low, and froze, breathing shallowly. He could hear the guard moving slowly, and stopping frequently, but no light went on.
Judging the direction to be to his left, he turned his head slowly and saw two dark objects standing not ten feet away. He tried to determine the wind direction to tell if the dog could smell him, but couldn't because there was too little air movement in the valley. He prayed the moon would not break through the clouds.
The guard and the dog silently moved on the alert. William continued to breathe shallowly, his head pounding from the fall, and joints aching from being in a frozen position. The dog whined. William knew he was caught. But instead, the dog pulled his master a few feet further away. William stood, regained his flexibility, and took a few careful steps away, trying to make no noise with his footsteps. He moved slowly until he reached the perimeter, and continued back to the slope.
Climbing was difficult. Each step made his head explode, blurring his vision and affecting his balance. Half way up his feet slipped as a large rock moved from under them. He fell forward, striking the side of his head on a rock to his left, and rolled down the slope, passing out after the second roll.
When he awoke, he was laying flat on his back with his head downhill. The moonlight, coming through the image intensifier was bright as the sun, blinding him. He closed his eyes and tried to rouse himself. The blinding light pierced his head like an arrow. He pushed the intensifier off and checked his limbs for damage or pain.
He thought he heard footsteps on the slope. He laid quietly. He heard them again, coming closer. He dared not make a noise. And then the footsteps were beside him and a huge bulk blotted out the moonlight. The man with the sword?
"It was naptime."
"Are you OK? You've been gone two hours. It's midnight."
"I think I'm OK."
"Thank God I brought this infrared night scope, or I never would have found you."
Gerald helped him to the top of the slope. William's head pounded in two places and his shoulder ached, but nothing was broken, and the moon made the climb much simpler. At the truck, Kenza threw her arms around him, holding him for a long time.
He sighed and relaxed. "Those dogs came close to nailing me! Whew! Lucky there was no wind. And that slope came even closer to getting me!"
"I was worried sick about you," Kenza said.
William patted her. "Well, let's get started." He knew he had no time to nurse wounds and tell sad stories.
They climbed into the back of the truck and Gerald put on the image intensifier. Gerald turned on the medium power laser and began to sweep the areas they had outlined earlier. Each time he struck a circle, it glowed softly. After a few minutes, he had coordinates for each area with powder.
"Any breeze down there?" Gerald asked.
"None at all." William replied.
"I think this is going to work."
Kenza took over. "How long is the strip beside the tent?"
"About thirty feet," William replied.
"Make the sweep from end to end last ten seconds. Heat it for five minutes, and then we'll come back to it later," she instructed Gerald.
Gerald did as she directed. "Now what?" he asked.
Make one of the circles light, and wait until we see one of the guards coming toward it. And then we'll heat the full circle." Kenza watched through the infrared night scope.
Gerald aimed the laser. It didn't take long before a guard noticed the strange glow and came to investigate.
"Jiggle the laser and warm the powder now." Kenza directed. "...he's there... We're warming his buns, inch the laser down... it's working, he's laying down. So is the dog. Hurray! Ok, give him a few minutes and we'll come back and make sure he stays out. Aim the laser to the middle guard."
Gerald aimed the laser.
"I don't see anyone in the area," Kenza reported.
"Go on to the other side," William directed.
Kenza searched the other side. "No one there either."
William took the scope and looked the area over. "He's gone. Go on to the south end."
Gerald aimed the laser at the south end.
"There's no one there either!"
They searched for the other guard.
"He's nowhere to be found!" Kenza said with alarm.
"Just wait for a moment and watch the camp perimeter," Gerald said knowingly.
In a few minutes the guard reappeared. "There he is," Kenza said with a satisfied smile.
"Nature calls," Gerald remarked.
They heated the powder, and the guard and his dog laid down. They moved the laser back to the mid position, and searched both sides of the camp. The third guard didn't reappear.
"What now?" Gerald asked.
"Keep watching for him. I'll have to go in and be careful."
Kenza looked at William apprehensively, then turned back to Gerald. "Now we just have to keep the powder warm, to make sure everyone stays out."
"Please do," William responded. "If I disturb their slumber party, I'm afraid those hostile gentlemen will have no sense of humor at all."
William gave her a hug. The last thing he wanted to do was go back in that camp. The first trip had left him tense, stiff, and in pain. But at least the moonlight made the image intensifier work well. He started down the slope and made it down in half the time.
He sneaked past the tents with the sleeping men. Inside the main tent, all was quiet. He hesitated a few moments, trying to determine if they were out. No one stirred in his sleep. He switched on a flashlight and searched for the office area of the tent.
Locating a satchel, he pulled out maps and several letters and photographed them with a small pocket camera.
He left the tent and looked around cautiously in case the men in any of the other tents had awakened. All looked peaceful. He slipped quietly over to the single building they had decided must be an ammo dump. Examining it in the moonlight, he found it very solid with a combination lock on the door. There were no other openings.
Just as he turned to leave, two men grabbed him from each side. He was on the ground with a knife at his throat in a second. One man unlocked the door, and together they shoved him in and locked the door.
He laid there in the total darkness for a moment and tried to think of a way out. His first impulse was to force his way out. He reached up and felt a shelf two feet above him. He pushed at it with all his strength, until what must have been a munitions box fell off and glanced off his upraised arm on its way to the dirt floor.
Dirt? He felt around the base until he found finger holds and lifted with all his might. The building wouldn't budge. He tried digging in the dirt. He scraped at the baked ground with his fingers, but they were bruised in only a moment. It was hopeless; he was trapped. He closed his eyes against the darkness.
William glanced at his luminescent watch dial. It was three thirty. The little bit of moonlight that had come through the cracks between the wood planks was now gone. He heard some scuffling noises outside, then heard a sharp snap at the door. The door flew open.
"Let's get out of here."
They ran a few feet and Gerald picked up his shoes, put them on, and they
continued. As they reached the truck, Gerald explained that he had followed William's movements with the infrared scope. He was certain two men had attacked William and had put him in the building. He grabbed a pair of bolt cutters and set off for the building. As he neared the building, he took off his shoes to avoid making noise on the dry rocky soil.
Both guards were near the building. If he attacked one, the other might rouse the rest of the sleeping camp. He waited the half hour for the moon to set, in the mean time memorizing every detail of the terrain, and the positions of the two guards.
After the moon sank, in the near total darkness, Gerald approached the first guard. As soon as he bumped him, he put his hand under his chin, pushing his mouth up so he couldn't shout, and then hit him in the head with a rock. The other guard stirred and said something in Arabic. He had hardly finished speaking when Gerald bumped him also. He then released William.
William shook his hand. "I'm glad I brought you along."
After a few hours rest they developed the pictures. The letters were very informative and they were able to sort things out.
William summed it up. "From the looks of this, they are an independent movement with some grass roots support, but very secretive. Their goal is to rid Lebanon of all foreign military, including the PLO. They plan to use terrorist attacks against the Syrian troops to get them out. The Syrians will never guess the attacks are directed from inside Syria."
"Why should these terrorists care about the armies?" Paul asked. "Why aren't they uniting against Israel?"
"Lebanon is a shambles," William said. "It is unable to effectively govern itself - and remember Ishmail is a politician - because of all the foreign militaries within it's borders. The PLO has moved into Beirut and
might as well run the country. Syria dominates all activities on its eastern border. The militia, which is sympathetic to Israel, controls the southern area, except for the PLO strongholds. And with all those impediments, that leaves the Christian Philangists free to control their area and make war on the PLO and Druze Moslems. Lebanon, which used to be a very peaceful country and an education center, has become nothing less than a total war zone."
"Are you going to help them?" Kenza asked innocently.
"Ismail doesn't have a glimmer of hope. If he was lucky he would have one successful mission before one of these bigger powers stepped on him. Since he seems to be pro peace and not supportive of the PLO, he's a good candidate for working with us."
"So what are you going to do?" Paul asked.
"We'll contact him. See if he'll talk."
"And if he won't?" Gerald asked.
William thought about that for a moment. "Save his life, for a start."
Next: Chapter 12