|Posted by Andy on August 22, 2016 at 11:10 PM|
Director Ryan couldn't tear his gaze from his screen. There it was, the early stages of a deal he had been tracking for some time, using various overt and covert sources in Elbonia and elsewhere. The moving images he was seeing were black and white and grainy in places, but he was grateful for any means that allowed him to track what was happening in this Elbonian backwater.
Thank the stars for an old Octagon satellite that was still operational, geosynchronously, over this part of Africa. Part of the Octagon Program of the mid 90's, Octagon 7 should have been retired along with the rest of these older tech spy satellites, but the Agency kept one or two active to cover areas of the world that most folks within the Beltway considered to be too remote or backwards to care about. Elbonia was just one of those places. Ryan was pretty certain that President Wubaqui would take egotistical pride in the fact that a US spy satellite was regularly trained on his country, even if it was a technological relic by today's standards, forgotten by most of the American intelligence community.
The images Ryan was seeing were of a small bridge over a rather insignificant but rather swollen stream some dozen miles outside Kantwellabu. He knew, from the intel they'd been able to collect, the time and place this "deal" was to happen, one of the latest shady deals negotiated by that scumbag Max Killimov. What he wasn't certain about was who was dealing and for what.
Ryan's worst fears were confirmed quickly as he was able to clearly make out US Army issued uniforms on the men on the north side of the bridge. Octagon 7's maximum resolution wasn't going to cooperate with him and afford him the ability to recognize faces or insignia, but he could make out one Bradley IFV and one US Army truck, with what appeared to be a tarp-covered cargo.
It was difficult to get a definite count, but Ryan estimated there were about ten men dressed in US Army uniform. Careful scrutiny of the live video, as it slewed and changed its FOV every few seconds, led him to also estimate a similar number of unidentifiable figures on the other side of the bridge. Their informal dress would have suggested they were rebels or some other para-military or mercenary organization, perhaps local gangers.
It was soon evident that two men were approaching each other, planning to meet half way across the bridge. What Ryan would have given to be the proverbial fly on that bridge. At first the discussion between the two men seemed cordial enough, if body language was any indicator, but it soon became a little more animated. Perhaps there was something about this deal that was off or not going as all parties had planned?
It wasn't long after the two had become more animated when there was new commotion on the US Army side of the bridge. The activity caught the attention of the Octagon 7's delicate, finely tuned, sensors, and the device trained its FOV to focus on this new source of commotion. At that point Ryan, leaning in closer to look at his screen, could just make out what appeared to be three separate groups of new "actors". One group had opened fire from the underbrush and palm groves off to the northeast of the bridge, a second group had opened its assault from a rocky ridge off to the northwest, while a third team appeared from the palms to the southeast of the bridge, to assault some of the "Rebels" taking cover behind field walls.
Zooming in as much as he could, given the 7's older technology, Director Ryan could just make out that the newly arriving teams were uniformly attired and clearly working together. He estimated there were four or five men in each of the three new teams, and their tactics, uniform, and the fact they were here at this place and at this time, led him to believe that these were Elbonian Special Forces, perhaps Wubaqui's fabled Golden Lions themselves.
The renegade American soldiers and unidentified Rebels were returning fire and seeking what safety they could find behind the walls near the bridge and in the fields covering the bridge. The Bradley appeared to also be gearing up to engage the new force, as its crew quickly buttoned up and started moving their vehicle.
It wasn't long after that that Ryan could see several RPG rockets go off, fired by what he was certain were now Elbonian SOF. One was able to take out the truck but repeated shots directed at the Bradley were ineffective. Several of the Americans were seen to be popping smoke, as they were at a distinct disadvantage, with no eyes and ears nor external support, they were not in a position to withstand a protracted engagement, particularly if the Rebels attacked them as well.
It was at this point that Ryan noticed a new development on the bridge. The "American" negotiater was down, possibly shot, as Ryan just caught a glimpse of his bridgemate lowering a weapon. It seems things had now gotten worse for these renegade US soldiers.
Ryan zoomed out a little to get a larger picture of the action. He could clearly see the "Rebel" on the bridge standing over the "American" and the two Army teams taking cover on either side of the road just north of the bridge. The Bradley was beginning to engage the SOF group closest to it, just as several of the soldiers seemed to realize what had happened on the bridge, and the Rebels seemed newly driven to entrap the Americans and avoid the Elbonian SOF elements altogether.
What Ryan had to respect in these men as the warrior's creed of "never leave a man behind", seemed to drive a couple of the soldiers onto the bridge towards their fallen comrade and subsequently drive the rebel leader off the south side of the bridge and into his own cover.
As the pressure continued to mount on both the Americans and the Rebels, it appeared that both groups had reached the same conclusion at the same time. Cut your losses and bug out. With the Bradley tryng to provide some cover, most of the surviving Americans headed north up the road, only abandoning the Bradley as it finally succumbed to an Elbonian RPG.
Ryan didn't notice what happened to the surviving rebels, as the Elbonian forces were about to swarm the bridge from both sides. He was more concerned about identifying who the Amercian soldiers were and who their leader might be. Unfortunately, the Octagon 7 just hadn't given him enough resolution to postively identify the suspects.
Close to giving up and having to turn to other investigative means to identify who the renegade Americans were, Ryan saw something that tipped him off to their identity, certainly the identity of one of the soldiers... As he was panning the 7 back towards the bridge, Ryan saw movement along the bridge wall at its northwest corner. There, hunkered down, one lone American boy, who had been one of the men who had gallantly rushed the bridge to the aid of a fallen comrade, only to be pinned by intense rebel fire, still clung to his position.
Director Ryan could only imagine what must have been going through that boy's head. Capture, torture, embarrasment for his family, death? But then something happend and, despite knowing that these Americans were criminals and would need to be punished for what they had done, Ryan found himself rooting for this young lad. What the boy did next was remarkable, instinctual, and gave him away to the spying eye of the Octagon 7. The boy quickly shed his helmet, webbing, and shoes, tossed his weapon in the creek, and leapt into the creek himself, even as the Elbonian forces swiftly approached.
From the vantage point of low earth orbit, CIA Director Lawrence Ryan, a former competitive swimmer himself and an ever-avid fan of the sport, knew he now had his man. One stroke, then another, then another, told him everything he needed to know. The technique and rhythm were unmistakable. This wasn't just any young soldier, this was none other than Matthew Jefferson himself, one time Olympic freestyle champion.
Now he had a name... now he would track down and deal with the man responsible for this crime against his beloved country, for leading Matthew and the other once-loyal soldiers astray.
Categories: Modern Africa