Drone Command

Read Drone Command for Free Online

Book: Read Drone Command for Free Online
Authors: Mike Maden
soldiers nearest him in a plume of blood.
    Pearce snatched the woman’s wrist and bolted down the hill.
    Now they were stuck behind this log.
    Too fast, too quiet, too disciplined for regular soldiers.
    Special ops. Pearce was certain.
    He ought to know. He’d been one of them, years ago. He and his best friend, Mike Early. God rest him.
    The Chinese were good.
    But back in the day, he and Mike were better.
    Dr. Pham warned Pearce the Chinese might try to recover the drone on the trek up the long winding hill. He believed her. Apparently the lieutenant didn’t. The lieutenant looking to him now for answers.
    Pearce shook his head. His silence itself a warning. Not safe yet. Signaled with his fingers. Soldier talk.
    They’re out there. Hunting.
    The lieutenant checked his illuminated watch.
    What the hell. You late for a movie?
Pearce wanted to say.
    The lieutenant whispered in the ear of the researcher. She nodded. Leaned over to Pearce. He smelled her sweat. Felt the heat of her body. A strange intimacy in a dangerous place.
    She whispered in his ear.
    â€œHe says we must leave now. He will cover us.”
    Pearce shook his head. Whispered in her ear. “Not without him.”
    She glanced at Pearce, frowning. Leaned in close again. “He says we must go now, so we go.”
    The lieutenant gave a short, curt nod. An order. His eyes, a plea.
Save the girl
.
    Pearce nodded.
Okay
.
    The lieutenant pulled back the bolt handle on his well-oiled assault rifle, slowly, quietly, not making a sound, then reversed it just as silently, putting a round in the chamber. Another curt nod to Pearce.
    The lieutenant leaped to his feet and opened fire, spraying the tree line above them.
    â€œRun!”
    Pearce grabbed Pham’s wrist again and dragged her away from the roaring AK-47. They made it a few steps. Pearce heard the familiar pop of suppressed fire.
    The lieutenant cried out. Stopped firing.
    â€œNO!” Pham broke Pearce’s grip and turned back up the hill.
    The young lieutenant was down.
    Her brother.
    The mission was now officially a goat fuck.
    Pearce grunted and reversed direction. Laid a massive hand on her back and pushed her down into the dirt. Fell on top of her. Growled in her ear.
    â€œShut up. Stay here.”
    She nodded wordlessly.
    Pearce listened. The lieutenant moaned ten yards up ahead. No other sounds. The birds and bugs had more sense than people.
    Pearce bolted tree to tree, squatting low. His thighs burned. Knees creaked. He was too old for this shit.
    But he loved it.
    Saw Lt. Pham on the ground. Crept toward him.
    A twig snapped.
    Pearce reached for his pistol. Not there. The Vietnamese colonel took it back at the base. “You won’t need it,” he said.
    Shit.
    Pearce leaped for Pham’s rifle, lying in the leaves, still charged. Rolled. Fired. Three shots. Mag empty.
    But it was enough.
    The Chinese operator clutched his throat, fell to his knees.
    Pearce threw down the rifle, dashed for Lt. Pham. Heaved his light frame over his shoulder and ran like hell.
    â€”
    P earce and Dr. Pham cleared the tree line on a dead run, the wounded lieutenant still slung over Pearce’s back. Rotor blades up on the mountain behind them strained.
Pulling up the drone wreckage
, Pearce thought.
    The low, hellish moan of jet engines blasted the night sky. Deafening.
    A pair of Vietnamese twin-ruddered Sukhoi fighter-bombers roared toward the mountain. Seconds later, an eruption of boiling liquid fire. The night sky burned an angry orange, licked by a cauldron of flame, like a scene from one of Pearce’s favorite movies. He wanted to shout, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” because he was a sick bastard, but he didn’t. Dr. Pham wouldn’t get the joke, or if she did, she might be offended. Besides, he’d smelled napalm in the morning and he hated it. The stench of burned flesh and gasoline always made him want to puke.
    Twenty minutes

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