Four Pirates, a Little Lady…and Love?

Chapter 07

Outside perimeter, Base "Che Guevara," Democratic Kampuchea

Side by side, Garcia Lovelace and Rachel Lee wriggled forward through the thick underbrush, to the edge of the cleared zone around the perimeter of the Cuban base. They peered cautiously out at the wire fence that surrounded the camp. The lights were on, but the fence itself was unlit, and there were no guards in sight.

Rachel gave Garcia a hand signal they had worked out, and they scurried forward, keeping to the shadows. Garcia squinted at an electronic device Benny had rigged up before they left Roanapur. "Looks okay, Rachel. No intrusion-detection systems, at least none that this gadget can find."

Rachel grinned, looking very like her sister for a moment, before she whipped out a pair of wire cutters. In a few seconds, she had cut a big enough hole in the fence for the two of them to squirm through. They found themselves crouching behind a hut, and they smiled at each other.

"Part One of the plan's a complete success," muttered Rachel. She had known for years that whispers, with their hissing, carried farther than a murmur. She could easily hope that the normal sounds of the Kampuchean night would cover her voice.

"Now for Part Two," Garcia answered, in the same low murmur. "Finding and taking out the alarm systems." They had been selected for this because they were the smallest people available; Rachel was even a little smaller than Fabiola, and Garcia had insisted on coming along, refusing to let a girl go into danger alone. Rachel smiled to herself. Garcia's attitude sometimes exasperated her, but at other times, she thought it was very touching. She had never had anybody much looking out for her; even Rebecca tended to expect her to be able to fend for herself in most ways.

Both of them hushed as two soldiers went by, speaking in rapid-fire Spanish and paying no attention to the shadowy area where they were crouching. Rachel felt frustrated. She had thought she was middlin' fluent in Spanish, but the soldiers' slangy speech and Cuban dialect was beyond her. She gave Garcia a helpless look.

"They have no idea we're anywhere nearby," Garcia muttered. "They were talking about two blonde children. What children would be doing anywhere near here is beyond me. They sounded frightened for some reason." Garcia looked as puzzled as Rachel felt. What would children be doing anywhere near them? Of course, Rachel did not count herself, or Garcia, as children. She had heard more than enough about Garcia's adventures to know that he had left childhood behind long ago, and she considered herself fully adult in most ways.

The two friends scuttled from shadow to shadow, until they got to the shack where the main controls for the electronic security that protected the camp were housed. There was a guard on duty, but Rachel didn't worry about him; he was sprawled in a chair, and she could smell the stink of bootleg rum on him from ten feet away. She gestured Garcia forward, and soon they were inside. She grinned at her new friend. This was fun! Rachel couldn't understand why Roberta, the bigger, older maid, didn't seem to enjoy this sort of thing for its own sake. Outwitting people, slipping past them, and getting what you wanted…there was nothing like it in the world! Straight citizens' lives are dull, dull, dull!

Garcia pulled out a set of manuals that had been sitting by the controls. "I should be able to figure these out quickly enough. No offense, Rachel, but even though your Spanish is good for everyday stuff, I don't think you have the vocabulary to deal with technical manuals."

"None taken. You're the native speaker. That's one reason you're along." Rachel went over beside the door, pulling out her trusty PPK, while Garcia bent over the manuals, muttering to himself in Spanish.

While she was watching, Rachel flashed back to her days in New York, when she'd been a valuable asset to several burglary teams. With her small size and agility, she could squeeze through in places where an adult couldn't reach, and once on the inside, she could open gates and doors so that her partners could enter. She had also learned about alarm systems, and could deal with many of the more common ones. These, however, were well above her level of expertise. Better to let Garcia figure out how to defeat them.

After a few minutes, Garcia looked up, giving her a gleaming smile, and she felt her knees going slightly weak. "I think I have it. Let me try to take things down. If I've got this right, we can have the electronic defenses down without anybody even knowing what we've done."

Rachel continued to keep watch, quivering with tension, as Garcia sat down in the chair and began throwing switches. The humming of the electronics changed subtly in tone and lights began blinking in different patterns than they had been doing earlier. Garcia watched intently, all his attention focussed on the controls.

After a few minutes, Garcia pushed his chair back, wiping sweat from his brow. "There. That should have done it. Let's call the others." Suiting his action to his words, he pulled out a pocket-sized walkie-talkie they had been equipped with, since the Cambodian jungle did not have many cell phone towers. "Garcia to Black Lagoon, come in, please. Over."

The little radio crackled with static, then, much to Rachel's relief, Benny's voice came over the air. "Black Lagoon here. We read you loud and clear, Garcia. What is your status? Over."

"Mission accomplished. The gate is open. Preparing to extract. Over." Hearing the words "preparing to extract," Rachel felt a rush of relief. She always got tense on a job, and didn't really relax until it was over, but knowing that they had done what they came to do was a big load off her mind. The others were on their way, and it wasn't all on her and Garcia's shoulders any more! Rachel Lee was by no means lacking in confidence, but she was quite aware that she still was thirteen years old. When she forgot, the wounds she had taken aboard the North Korean freighter Cheonji tended to twinge to remind her.

"Come on. Let's get on out of here." Garcia nodded, and they both crept to the door, peering out cautiously. Nobody seemed to have noticed anything. Just before they crept out, Garcia leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She stared at him, and he looked back at her as though she expected her to hit him for his temerity. She winked at him to reassure him. Once we're alone, Garcia…I'll show you how to really kiss! Rachel had learned a lot of things in her years on the streets.

They scuttled through the door, heading for the nearest shadowy spot…when suddenly a pair of shadows just about their own size stepped out to block their path.

"Well, well, what have we here, dragul miu frate?" The voice was clear and pure, like a bell, or like what Rachel thought an angel would speak like. Its owner, a beautiful blonde-haired girl in an old-fashioned black dress, stepped forward, leveling a Thompson submachinegun at the two infiltrators.

"I don't know, draga mea soră. Maybe they're just thieves." The other shadow, a boy just the same size as the girl, with the same white-blond hair and dressed in the same sort of old-fashioned mourning clothes, came out, looking closely. Peering at Garcia, he shook his head. "No. I don't think they're just thieves. This boy is no Cambodian, and now that I look at her closely, the girl isn't, either, for all that she is Asian." Suddenly he produced a huge axe, swinging it up to bring it down in a lethal slash.

The girl put out her hand. "No, dragul miu frate! We've got to get information out of them, and we can't do that if they're dead!" Her expression went sorrowful. "Seems like such a pity…two nice victims, and we need to keep them alive!" She let out a piercing whistle, sticking her fingers into her mouth to produce it. For a second, Rachel considered the option of making a grab for the Thompson, but the blonde girl was just far enough out of reach to make it an impractical plan.

Cuban soldiers appeared, covering Rachel and Garcia with their Kalashnikovs. Both of them raised their hands, not fancying the odds against them. Rachel saw that Garcia had unobtrusively activated the small electronic gadget on the side of his belt, sending a signal to the Lagoon that they had been captured. It also would help their friends track them, and was difficult enough to see that there was a good chance that their captors would miss it.

To Rachel's secret relief, their captors did not seem to be interested in mistreating them. They were briskly frisked, her pistol was taken, but the search was not particularly rigorous and things like her set of lockpicks were still in her possession when the two of them were unceremoniously bundled into a shack and locked in.

Garcia looked like he wanted to say something, and Rachel signalled for quiet. She leaned close, and said: "Don't talk too loudly, in Spanish or English. I wouldn't put it past those bastards to have someone outside listening in, or to have this place bugged. Just sit tight, and keep cool. Our friends will be here directly."

END Chapter 07