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Memorial day, p.38
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       Memorial Day, p.38

         Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
 

  "And what did you say to that?"

  "I said, yes, sir, and informed the CO of Team Six of the situation."

  Rapp swore and looked out the port window at the Lincoln Memorial. "When is HRT expected to be in position?"

  "I'm hearing thirty minutes."

  It matched the same information he'd received from McMahon. "All right. I might be calling you back and asking to be patched directly through to Six's commanding officer. Any problem with that?"

  "That depends on what you want to talk to him about."

  "You know exactly what I want to talk to him about."

  "Then we're going to have a problem. I can't simply insert you into the chain of command. Not after what the president just said."

  "General," interrupted Rapp, "someone has to be calling the shots. You tell me do you think that person should be on-site or sitting in a blast-proof bunker up by Camp David?"

  "Mitch, I know what you're saying, but it's the way it has to be. If you find that boat before HRT gets up there I'll patch you through to Six's CO, and I'll tell the president we should let you make the call, but as soon as HRT is on the scene, you and I are going to have to step aside."

  Rapp had no intention of stepping aside, but there was no point in telling Flood that. "All right, general, I'll be in touch." Rapp ended the call and continued scanning the river.

  They passed over a boat headed north and his heart began to race a bit. The vessel fit the general description of the one they were looking for. As they continued past it Rapp used a pair of binoculars to try and get a read on the boat's name. The writing was in blue and he could only make out the first word. The boat was theMaryland something. It was not the one they were looking for.

  The helicopter climbed slightly as they passed over a series of four bridges and then dropped back down. Reagan National Airport was a half a mile ahead on the starboard side and they now had to contend with commercial air traffic. They were coming up on Hains Point where the Anacostia River split off to the East.

  The Park Police helicopter entered the picture flying along the opposite bank about a mile ahead of the CIA helicopter. Rapp spotted several boats, one too small and the other too big. Twenty seconds later they passed the Washington Sailing Marina. The parking lot was full, and he counted at least four boats leaving the marina. This search would get more difficult with each passing minute. They passed several more sail boats and then Rapp winced as he saw the emergency lights sitting atop the Harbor Police boat below. Rapp hoped they'd been given the right orders. Anyone who saw these guys was to make no attempt to stop them. They were to call it in and go about their business as if nothing unusual had been noticed.

  Up ahead was the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. It spanned the river carrying the Beltway traffic back and forth between Virginia and Maryland. They flew over the tandem bridge and a few more boats. None of them was the one they were looking for.

  About another mile down river the pilot turned around and said, "The Park Police chopper just said they have a possible I.D. on the boat. They couldn't get a read on the name but they said the length and make appear to match."

  Rapp looked through the front windshield at the other helicopter and then looked down at the river. There were two boats in sight. "Which one is he talking about?"

  "The one closer to us. Right in the center."

  "Slow up a bit and work your way inland a little more so we don't spook him."

  Rapp continued looking over the pilot's shoulder until they were within a quarter mile and then he went back to the port-side window. With binoculars in hand he knelt on the ground and looked down at the boat. At first he didn't think it was their boat and then realized it was the canvas sun top that made it look different.

  The two vessels passed each other, one headed north and the other south. Rapp peered through the binoculars trying to catch the name, but something was in the way. He could only catch the first letter. The writing was gold but all he could see was the letter 'S.' Nor could he make out the man who was driving the boat. He was concealed by the canvas top. Almost as an afterthought he realized what the object was that was obscuring the boat's name. Rapp focused in on the large white cooler lashed to the swim platform, and then lowered the binoculars.

  He thought of something that Paul Reimer had said and then calmly told the pilot, "Tell the AWACS controller to mark that boat, and then start doubling back far enough away from the river so they can't see us."

  * * *

  Ninety

  Rapp tried to recall the bomb-damage assessment Reimer had given him while he waited for the senior energy official to answer his phone. This thing was supposed to be in the fifteen-kiloton range, with a warhead roughly the size of a volleyball. It would leave a crater a half mile across and vaporize everything above ground for one and a half miles. The blast effects would cause damage as far away as ten miles, and the radioactive plume would go as far as the prevailing wind could take it.

  When Reimer finally answered, Rapp asked, "Paul, we've found the boat, and I spotted something lashed to the aft swim deck. Would this device fit in one of the those big fishing coolers?"

  Reimer was at the DOE's Germantown facility with his top people. "It would depend on what they were using for an explosive charge, but yes I suppose it would."

  "All right "

  "Where is the boat?"

  "It's about a mile south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge traveling north."

  "Hold on, let me look at the map. A mile south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge," Reimer repeated. "That's eight miles from the White House and the Capitol, and seven from the Pentagon. Mitch, we have to stop this boat as soon as possible. I won't waste your time giving you the details, but there is a consensus between our scientists and the Russians that this thing will not reach its full yield of fifteen kilotons. If we can keep the device outside a six-mile radius, I think we can save everything north and east of the National Mall. The Pentagon also stands a good chance of surviving the blast because of the way it's designed."

  "What about the radiation?"

  "The wind is from the east and it's picking up. Rural Virginia and possibly West Virginia would get hit hard with fallout, but if the wind stays constant, downtown Washington should be spared."

  "So the sooner we stop this thing the better."

  "Absolutely."

  "Where's your Search Response Team?"

  "One's on their way back up from Richmond, and the other one's downtown by the National Mall."

  "Get the one downtown a helicopter ASAP, and I'll call you back with further instructions."

  Rapp closed his phone and poked his head up into the cockpit. "The AWACS give you a speed yet?"

  "Twenty mph."

  "Ask them how long it'll take for the boat to reach the Woodrow Wilson Bridge."

  The pilot asked the question, and about five seconds later he had an answer. "They'll be at the bridge in three minutes and twenty seconds approximately."

  "Where's that Park Police chopper?"

  "He's still headed downriver."

  "Tell him to turn around and hightail it back up here. I want him flying low and fast right up the east side of the river."

  SEAL Team Six was still a good fifteen minutes away, and the HRT would take even longer. At twenty mph they would cover a mile every three minutes. By the time SEAL Team Six was here, the boat would be within three miles of the White House. He looked out the cockpit window at the Beltway and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and said, "All right, here's the plan."

  RAPP EXPLAINED INdetail to the pilots exactly what he wanted to do, and then did the same with the four men from the CIA's SWAT team. The helicopter landed at Jones Point Park on the western bank of the Potomac, just north of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge where they were well concealed from the river traffic. Two men got out and ran down to the river's edge while Rapp and Brooks hit the quick-release latches on the helicopter's starboard and port doors so they could take them off and get them out of th
eir way. Rapp then jogged down to the riverbank with his phone to his ear. He didn't have time to call all the people who he should, so he decided to just call one.

  When Flood came on the line Rapp said, "General, I'm down here under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and I think I've found our boat."

  "The Woodrow Wilson Bridge? Where in the hell is that?"

  "It's where the Beltway crosses the Potomac River about six miles south of you."

  "And where is the boat?"

  "About a mile south headed upriver."

  "Jesus Christ!"

  "I know. I just went over everything with Paul Reimer. He says it's crucial that we stop this bomb before it gets any further north. I've got a four-man tactical team with me from Langley and I'm going to take this boat down when it comes under the bridge. That is unless you want me to wait around for the HRT to arrive in which case you should be able to look out your window at the Pentagon and watch the takedown in person."

  "If you think you have the assets to handle the job, Mitch, then do it and do it quickly."

  "I thought that's what you'd say. Just in case something goes wrong, your AWACS has a bead on this boat. So if we fail, have them vector Six's strike team in on the target, and tell them not to hit the cooler sitting on the aft swim deck because I think that's where the bomb is." Rapp reached the edge of the river and looked out past the bridge's concrete supports. Traffic was whizzing by overhead on the six-lane interstate. "I've got to go now, general. I'll call you back in a few minutes when I'm in control of the vessel."

  Rapp closed the phone and shoved it into his breast pocket. He could see the boat heading their way and behind it the Park Police helicopter was closing fast. He checked his watch and then said to Brooks's men, "I'd grab that spot right over there in those bushes."

  "I was thinking the same thing," answered the former Marine sniper.

  "All right, get ready, and don't shoot unless you see a gun or we give you the word." Rapp took one last peek at the oncoming boat and then ran back to the helicopter.

  He climbed in on the starboard side and poked his head up in the cockpit. "You guys have any questions?"

  Both pilots shook their heads.

  "Good. What's their ETA?"

  "Just under a minute."

  "And the Park Police helicopter?"

  "I don't know."

  "See if you can find out. The last thing we want is a midair collision."

  While the pilot checked with the AWACS controller, Rapp sat down in the aft-facing portside seat. He loosened the seat belt as far as it would go and then fastened it. With one of the silenced MP5s in hand he sat on the edge of the seat, shouldered the weapon, and leaned against the seat belt. He was left-handed, so the position allowed him to clear the door frame with little difficulty. He looked at Brooks, who was sitting directly across from him. The team leader did the same thing, and both men flashed each other the thumbs-up sign.

  Rapp looked at the former Ranger who had given him his silenced MP5. "Stan, remember don't draw your pistol until you hit the deck. We'll cover you. Go straight for the helm, and don't pull back on the throttles until the helicopter is clear. The pilot is going to be matching speed at twenty mph going sideways, so if you pull back on the throttles too fast you might get your head chopped off."

  The former Ranger nodded.

  "Here we go," yelled the pilot.

  The helicopter lifted slowly from the rain-soaked grass and moved into a hover twenty feet off the ground. They were now perfectly parallel with the bridge. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, they began to move forward, staying hidden behind the bulky concrete span that carried traffic from one state to another. They moved out over the river foot by foot and then stopped a little over a third of the way across. Even though it was expected, the arrival of the Park Police helicopter was startling. It blew over the bridge and then dipped back down to a mere fifty feet off the water, its engine and rotors roaring.

  The CIA helicopter began inching its way forward again, in an effort to get to the exact place where the boat would appear. Rapp was leaning out as far as he could to try and get a view of the boat as it came under the bridge. A few seconds later the bow poked out from the shadows, and then the windscreen. As the boat came into the clear the helicopter began to descend and then slide sideways. The pilots did a perfect job bringing them in right behind the boat and then matching its speed and course.

  Rapp looked through the hoop sight of his submachine gun and zeroed in on the head of a man who was staring through the windscreen of the boat at the Park Police helicopter that was racing upriver. The man slowly turned, realizing that something was now behind them. Rapp watched him intently, looking for the slightest reason to squeeze the trigger. The helicopter was closing distance on the boat. They were no more than thirty yards away. Only a few seconds had ticked by, but for Rapp, the scene was unfolding in slow motion.

  The man, who was tall and dark-skinned with short black hair, turned and looked directly at Rapp. In that fraction of a second, the man did something that was entirely unexpected given the situation. He smiled.

  Rapp had his weapon pulled firmly against his left shoulder and at the very first hint of the smirk he squeezed the trigger twice in less than a half second. Instantly, the muzzle of the submachine gun moved to the right and found the driver of the boat. The helicopter was even closer now. Just as the man was turning, Rapp squeezed off two more quick shots, both of them striking their target just above the left ear.

  * * *

  Ninety-One

  POTOMAC RIVER

  The boat started a lazy right turn that would only get worse if they didn't get control of the helm quickly. Fortunately, the two CIA pilots were good. They adjusted to the new heading and brought the portside door of the chopper right over the aft sundeck. Rapp kept his weapon trained on the cabin, and when they were hovering a manageable six feet from the deck he yelled, "Go! Go!"

  The man leaped from a squatted position and landed as he'd been taught in jump school, with his weight evenly distributed on both feet and his knees slightly bent. He rolled to his left and came up reaching for his pistol. As soon as he was on his way up the steps to the helm, Rapp yanked his seat belt free and jumped after him. He hit a little harder than he had planned, but he ignored the pain that shot up through his left knee and moved for the steps that led to the cabin.

  His thick black silencer probed the shadows first. He could see someone on the floor, but the figure had its back to him. Rapp knew there would be a head down the steps and to his right. Other than that, there were no other places to hide, with the exception of the storage compartment tucked up under the bow. Not having the time or the backup, he jumped to the bottom of the steps, let loose an eight round burst into the closed door of the head, and then yanked it open. It was empty.

  Rapp spun and kicked the man who was prostrate on the carpeted floor. His foot caught the man square in the stomach and flipped him onto his side and then back. Rapp leveled his weapon at the man's head and studied his face. The first thing he noticed was the blood dripping from the corners of the man's mouth. Then he noticed the bulging, bloodshot eyes and the burned, blotchy, peeling skin. The guy looked like someone had stuck him in a microwave.

  Even so, there was something vaguely familiar about him. Rapp's brow furrowed and then he said, "Mustafa al-Yamani."

  Al-Yamani smiled the vacant smile of a true believer, and coughed up more blood. "You are too late," he said as blood oozed from the corners of his mouth. "There is nothing you can do to stop us."

  "Where is Zubair?" Rapp placed the tip of the silencer against al-Yamani's forehead.

  "He's dead," al-Yamani smiled, showing his bleeding gums, "and he's the only one who can disarm the weapon." He began to laugh. Almost immediately, though, his entire body was racked with a convulsive spasm that sent more than just blood spewing from his mouth.

  Rapp forced al-Yamani's head into the ground with the tip of the silencer and said, "Have a n
ice time in hell, Mustafa." He squeezed the trigger just once and left the twitching corpse to go back topside.

  Rapp burst back onto the deck and signaled for the helicopter to back off. He then took over the helm, turned the boat around, and pushed both throttles to the stops. The engines groaned loudly and the bow came out of the water a few feet. Rapp looked back at the cooler and feared the worst. What a hell of a way to die.

  Rapp grabbed his secure digital phone and called Reimer. When the voice on the other end answered he said, "Paul, we've got control of the boat, and we're heading away from the city. You got any bright ideas?"

  "Is the weapon armed?"

  "I think so."

  "How do you know have you seen it?"

  "No. I asked al-Yamani where Zubair was and he told me he was dead. He also said Zubair's the only one who can disarm the bomb. So I'm assuming it's armed." Rapp turned around and looked at the cooler again. "Do you want me to open it up and look at it?"

  "No!" Reimer shouted. "Whatever you do don't touch it! I've got a team on the way. They're lifting off from the Mall right now. Where are you?"

  "We're going back under the Wilson Bridge."

  "Seven miles from the White House," said Reimer. "How fast are you going?"

  Rapp looked at the dashboard. "Thirty-five miles an hour, and I think I'm topped out."

  "A little over a mile every two minutes. That's good. The further away you get the better."

  "Paul, I'm not some damn Kamikaze. I hope you have a better plan than me simply taking this thing as far down river as possible until it blows."

  "I do I do, but just getting you ten miles away could make a huge difference. My people are coming and the Blue Team is on its way up from Little Creek. Keep heading south at top speed for at least six minutes. My people will come up on your six and they'll find a place for you to dock. Then we'll take it off your hands."

  Rapp looked back at the cooler again. The two men he had shot were lying one on top of another where Sam had dumped them. For the moment, Rapp saw no better option than to maintain course and speed. "All right, I'll keep an eye out for them."

 
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