"Scorpion's Reach". Part one.
Somewhere on the east coast of the North Island.
The tide had turned, but the wind hadn’t. It was picking up, causing the waves to grow as they came in on the beach. The two vehicles raced across the sand to the meeting point. The sea wasn’t too rough, but it was choppy, and not a night to be out.
“They should be coming in over there,” the man in the passenger seat of the lead vehicle, a black Ford Ranger spoke. They were here to meet someone, or something, being brought in by helicopter; they had no idea who they were meeting, apart from ‘They must be important’. The passenger pointed to a slight outcrop. “We need to set the HLS up over there, by the flat piece of beach” he pointed to where the beach was at its widest.
“Bloody idiots must be nuts trying to land in this damn wind” the driver, a big man probably in his late thirties with dark leathery skin and a beer paunch replied, “I mean, it must be a bloody cross wind of thirty miles an hour. What the hell’s the rush?” he hated these kinds of jobs. Just “Be there at this time and keep your trap shut” kind of thing, “And don’t ask what you’re unloading” etc was the rule and a damn good idea to stick to it, which stifled the next question he had.
“I know what you’re thinking” the passenger a slightly older man in his early forties with lighter skin and a scar on the left cheek just below the ear. “Don’t go there, and I’ve no idea anyway!” he scanned the skies for signs of the aircraft they were supposed to be meeting. “Not here yet, pull over and kill the lights” they did so, the vehicle behind did the same.
As soon as they stopped and the lights were off the man in the vehicle behind got out, took a moment forward to their to light a cigarette and sauntered forward like he hadn’t a care in the world, in reality he was scanning everything, making sure no one was watching, he stopped at the driver’s side, then pulled two other cigarettes out and offered them one each.
“These things will kill you!” Sam, the driver spoke as he took the cigarette and lit it, they all smiled.
“At least these will take a while to do that” he replied, “This job can do it in seconds, and without bloody warning.” They all gave a small chuckle. “Any ideas what this is about?” he stopped for a moment; knowing he shouldn’t really be asking, but it wasn’t as if they were going to tell the bosses: they’d all be in the shit if anyone did.
Waiting patiently on the beach
'Not a clue bro'
“Not a sodding clue bro,” the passenger who went by the name of big Jake replied. He was their leader, “The last shipment was only a couple of days ago, so I doubt it’s a shipment; unless the dumbass trendy set in Auckland have been buying up large” that brought a chuckle from the others, but he carried on scanning the horizon, “But must be important if they want it, or them, delivered this quick!”
“Come on, let’s get these damn things out and set up so they come into the wind” the older man spoke to the other two as they headed round to the back of the first Ranger, he unlocked and opened the back hatch, they had five lights for the Tee and another special one that would guide the aircraft down, all ex military surplus, designed to give an instant landing pad for a helicopter but with the advantage that unless the ‘aircraft’ came in on the exact bearing the lights couldn’t be seen, and the other advantage of using these was that the one coming in wouldn’t need any landing lights.
They set the lights out in the form of a ‘T’, with the long part running east to west along the beach, each light about three meters apart. Only small perforations on one side where the light would shine through, unless you were almost directly in front of them there’s no way you could see the lights, they were designed for landing a helicopter when you don’t want people to know you’re coming, or don’t want people like the local authorities to find you, not so good if you’re looking for the hele landing site without knowing what bearing you need to approach on. That’s why the bearing and information were so important.
Next, Big Jake, took another box that looked like it had a torch welded to the top and flicked the switch, that one would give the pilot his/her height as they came in, a simple red, yellow and green system. If the light was red the pilot was too low, if it was yellow they were too high, but in the middle was the green that as the pilot stayed in the green by the time they got close to the light they’d see the beach coming up to meet them and be literally about four feet from them right at the end, and all without landing lights!
“All set?” Jake looked up and spoke just loud enough to be heard by the others who were heading back to the vehicles.
“Yep, all done” the one who’d driven the second vehicle, a younger guy with gang tattoos on his right cheek spoke up, “Just getting my stuff from the Ranger”
“Okay, I’ll send the text” Jake spoke up again. He took a small mobile phone out of his pocket, one tap and the screen came alive, two more taps and he was putting the phone away, the message sent. “Now we wait” was all he said after that.
The ‘text’ was a simple set of letters and numbers. The receiver was wired into the pilot’s console in the aircraft; a Bell Jetranger that right at that moment was approaching the coast further up North East.
he pilot was flying by instinct with all his external lights off and the lights in the cockpit dimmed as much as he could get away with to minimize the effect it had on his eyesight, the more light in the cab the less he’d see outside. He also knew he was only about fifty feet above the top of the waves (one hundred feet above sea level), one slight twitch, and they’d been ‘in the drink’ and sinking so fast that even a life jacket was useless, they’d be pulled under still clipped into the chopper and blades still spinning above them, ready to chop everything and everyone in half who tried to ‘bale out’ choppers aren’t that good for ‘ditching’ like that.
He could see the coast ahead and was heading for the beach when he heard a beeping, it was the message coming through.
“Message for you” a voice spoke into his headset, it was the computer in the phone he’d wired into the system, one of the latest Iphones with a few little extras added.
“Read” he spoke back to the phone, the passenger he was carrying gave him a quizzical look, then, realizing that he wasn’t actually talking to him turned and carried on ignoring him, he was just the ‘delivery boy’ after all.
“Charlie, Bravo, two four zero, ten, one hundred” the voice, a female voice devoid of all feeling came back, it was meant to be functional, but also not the kind of voice you’d expect in a machine so that it forced you to pay attention to what it was saying.
He understood the message perfectly, it was his directions to the landing site telling him “At the coast turn bearing two forty degrees for ten miles, stay at a height of one hundred feet” he knew that using the lights they were using for landing he’d see the red ‘guide light’ first telling him he was too low, he’d see that from about five miles away but keep going and the others would come into sight.
Eventually the light will turn green, and that’s when to begin the descent, the rest was simple. Just slow down and stay in the green and the lights will do the rest; he’ll feel the skids touch the sand and that’s the time say goodbye to the passenger, that wouldn’t be too hard as this passenger hadn’t been the most talkative he’d had.
“If you’re in the red, you’ll soon be dead” he mumbled to himself, ‘What’s the rest of the saying? Yellow so high you need a Halo, Green you’ll be seen and come in mean! Something like that anyway’ he finished the thought off in his head.
A good holiday location
The whole forty five minutes of the flight they were the first words he’d spoken, not even a greeting at the beginning, even the drug mules taking the shipments ashore, as hyped as they usually were still at least gave a greeting; as if to steady their nerves. They never really knew what was waiting for them at the other end, but this guy was a whole different kettle of fish.
It wasn’t that he was wary, or at least didn’t seem that way, to him it just seemed as if he was going to a regular job, he just gave the impression that to ask what that job was, might be more than your life was worth. Carlos was glad he was getting rid of the ‘package’ and good riddance.
The Helicopter’s skids touched the sand, the passenger hit the release button on his five point harness, he opened the door, with his left hand and climbed out, closing the door, he opened the back and took out a heavy suitcase. As soon as he had the case he closed the door and without even looking to the pilot to get the ‘OK’ he just headed out forwards from under the rotor blades.
As soon as he was clear he headed for the Ranger and opened the driver’s door looking for the electronic key that would open the back of the Ranger.
“Arrogant prick” Carlos thought to himself as he lifted back off the ground, “Not even acknowledging the ride!” He was angry, but knew there was no point making any noise about it. They paid well and didn’t give a shit what you thought of them. Just as long as he delivered the good when they told him to.
And money was what he needed. A struggling business and a willingness to, do anything that helps pay the bills was what got him the job, at first it seemed like a good job to have, ferrying a few things around so the cops didn’t know where they were, a few plants and stuff, then it got slowly more serious until they had him ‘by the balls,’ and he was carting the hard stuff for them. Always at a moment’s notice. He’d get a call and would have to drop anything that was planned to get the job done, asking questions wasn’t an option.
As soon as Carlos was airborne he turned on a fresh bearing that would take him out to sea, ten minutes would see him fifteen miles off shore, then he’d be able to climb to five hundred feet and come back onto radar for the little charade that fitted with his flight plan.
The road from Auckland to Thames had been reasonably busy with the cops patrolling and people keeping their speed down, still it had only taken about two hours for the hundred mile trip, but most of the traffic was turning right just before Thames and heading to Whitianga or Whangamata. 'Where the wannabes go' he thought to himself.
Cavell had a place in a secluded spot right on the beach halfway between Coromandel Township and Colville. A million dollar plus place that, well probably better the bank didn't know about it as they might get worried just what he was doing with the clients money.
The McLaren was cruising along just in second gear at the one hundred kilometers or sixty miles an hour speed limit. Frustration was beginning to show, he just wanted the chance to 'open her up.' That would come just after Thames, followed by hairpins and enjoyable roads as he tore along scaring the life out of anything he would meet on that road.
They pulled up at the last set of lights in Thames right next to a Porsche 911 Cayman, the other driver gave a look that clearly meant "not impressed" and revved the engine, it wasn’t even a contest. The Porsche can do standing start to sixty in just over three seconds, the McLaren does it in two and a half!
They stayed behind the Porsche until they got round the first bend, the other driver must have thought he had them beat; but on the long straight stretch Cavell let her loose. The McLaren growled with delight, wheels spinning she blew past the other car as if it was parked, the long face and dropped jaw on the other driver said it all. She was flying. Cavell eased off the accelerator but she kept accelerating faster and faster as if the foot was to the floor, eating up road like a ravenous beast devouring prey; He tried the brake, really sluggish, something wasn't right, they should have responded well. He tried again, even worse. Pumping the brake nothing happened, the brakes failed and the throttle stuck open, not good.
“Not good at all” he was beginning to panic
"James" Denise, the girl with him was looking worried. "Don't you think you should slow down?"
"I'm trying" he wanted to shout, it didn't come out as a shout though, more like a whisper he was concentrating so hard, he grabbed for the handbrake and began pulling, they'd reached a hundred and ten miles an hour and she was still accelerating, a slight right hand bend fast approaching, crashing the car crossed his mind except one side was rock and the other a twenty foot drop, neither were good options
“The accelerator’s stuck” was all he could say, he was pumping the pedals as hard as he could, nothing was happening, “and the brakes aren’t working”
“What?” she looked across at him worried.
The car was doing over a hundred and twenty miles an hour now and still accelerating hard. There was no way they were going to make the hairpin that was coming up, the only hope they had was for him to try and ‘drift’ the car round the bend, but with the traction control still engaged the chances of drifting were much reduced, there were people at the bend that he was probably going to hit, there was nothing he could do about it, it was either him or them and he knew whom he’d choose. The bend was fast approaching. He swung the steering wheel hard to the right to try and make the bend, still pumping the brakes to try and get the last ounces of fluid to apply the brakes just enough to get them round the bend, there was no time to worry about what next.
The car turned and slid sideways, the McLaren was so low on the ground and the centre of balance was so low that there was no way it was going to roll, but centrifugal force did take over and the car instead of going forward was now moving sideways; tyres squealing, rubber burning and inching forward, but every inch forward meant a foot sideways with the crash barrier fast getting closer.
The four people at the bend were trying to dive out of the way as the passenger side of the car slammed into the crash barrier with a force that ripped the crash barrier clean off the support posts like tearing through a paper barrier and kept going; airbags deployed instantly but the force of the impact still threw them violently sideways almost snapping their necks.
Denise bore the full impact of the crash, the door moving back into her body and breaking every rib, two of them puncturing her left lung and a third going straight through her heart, she was killed instantly. Cavell wasn’t so lucky; he was still alive when someone found him.
The vehicle came to a stop on its roof at the bottom of the incline. Cavell wasn’t sure how long he was ‘out for’ only that when he came too he was upside down, held firmly in place by the four point harness that was the vehicle seat belt, a proper racing harness similar to those used in racing cars.
There was blood on just about every surface inside the vehicle, He tried to open his eyes, but only one obeyed, a misty red scene awaited him as he tried to look around, searing pain in his lower abdomen told him there was probably some serious internal damage, he could feel his feet, but not move them, he was trapped.
Out of his good eye he could see Denise, she was a mess, blood covering most of her face, and she was clearly dead. As he looked at her he saw another moving round the vehicle, a man wearing all black. He didn’t get a clear view as the man seemed to be keeping his face out of sight, what he did see was a very slight build that seemed to move with grace and purpose round the vehicle.
“Help” Cavell tried to shout, but all that came out was a whisper, he looked for his ‘Angel’ to see what he was doing. He felt strong hands moving round his neck. “Checking my injuries” he thought to himself.
His sense of relief turned to alarm as those hands grasped a firm vice like grip on his neck and gave a violent twist severing his spinal column at the base of the brain. The last thought he would ever have didn’t have time to form before oblivion descended forever.
From the author
What the hell just happened? I can hear the questions, well' all will be revealed, but you'll have to wait a few days.
Hope you enjoy the story, and don't forget to leave a comment.