Operation; Unknown Angel – Margaret Kay

Danny ‘Mother’ Trio’s brand-new silver Ford F-150 pickup truck followed the stream of vehicles he was all too familiar with. They inched their way deep into the second subbasement level of the parking garage, to the private Shepherd Security area which was hidden behind a secure gate and two garage doors that required a palmprint scan and security code to enter. He had been enjoying a rare day off at his place when he received the alert. Report to HQ immediately. And his team was not even on call. Charlie Team was. He was assigned to Delta Team. Behind him, he recognized Jackson’s car. Jackson was assigned to Alpha Team. That meant three teams were called in. He knew it couldn’t be good. He hoped it was just a training drill to see how fast they could all get there. They hadn’t had one of those in a long time. His teammate, Gary ‘the Undertaker’ Sloan’s car was in front of him. He saw two people inside.

He assumed the other to be one of his other teammates, Brian ‘the Birdman’ Sherman, as he knew Sherman and his fiancé were hanging out with Sloan and his fiancé at Sloan’s place when the alert came. Sherman, his fiancé Brielle, and his brother Bobby had been staying with Mother at his townhouse. It would only be a few more weeks until Sherman would close on his new place. Mother didn’t mind his houseguests. He had a three-bedroom place and welcomed the company. After he parked, he pulled his go-bag from the backseat. He glanced around. Cooper, Shepherd Security’s second in command and his wife, Madison, both of them Operators on Alpha Team, exited one of the agency’s SUVs. Cooper might have some inside info. “Coop, do you know what this is about?” Sherman yelled to Cooper in his Louisiana drawl before Mother could ask. Cooper shook his head. “No, but all three teams got scrambled. It’s big.” “So, you don’t think this is a training exercise?” Mother asked. Cooper shook his head again.

“I don’t think so.” Mother evaluated Cooper’s tense tone of voice and the serious look on his face. No, John Cooper didn’t think this was a training drill. He decided to not ask any more questions. He followed his teammates into the stairwell and up to level five where Shepherd’s office was. Colonel Samuel ‘Big Bear’ Shepherd sat at the head of the conference room table watching the men file in. The monitor on the wall was cluttered with maps and data. Mother studied the maps as he settled into one of the comfortably padded chairs. West Africa, more specifically, Algeria. Well, damn if that didn’t ruin his day. He glanced at Landon ‘Lambchop’ Johnson, his friend and team leader. Lambchop was studying the monitor too. His lips were set in a thin line. Lambchop was no happier than he was. “The U.

S. has been asked, unofficially, by the government of Algeria to raid a large human trafficking network on their soil,” Shepherd began. “This is too touchy of a situation for our regular forces to go into as the Algerians want it to be unofficial, so we have been contracted to conduct the mission.” Mother glanced at the twelve other Operators seated in the room. It must be a hell of a human trafficking operation necessitating three full teams. He also guessed it had to be a real thorn in the Algerian official’s side to call the Americans in. He knew Algeria never wanted any foreign forces on their soil. Not to mention that those operating the human trafficking network were probably close to the officials in Algeria, known businessmen, friends, even relatives. They wouldn’t want to act against their own. That was another reason a foreign force was called in. “We’ll fly you into Moron Air Force Base, Spain and then shuttle you aboard the USS George H.W. Bush which is currently deployed in the Mediterranean just off the coast fromAlgeria. You will launch from the George Bush. We’ll be working on your mission plan as you travel to the region.

What I can tell you is that the activities are taking place at the large port of Algiers.” The monitor showed satellite surveillance pictures of the port. “It is a huge container port on the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of victims of human trafficking are being kept at that port with a shipment date of the day after tomorrow to many locations in Europe.” Mother intently listened to Shepherd. He figured his face as well as many of the other’s must have registered the same unasked question when Shepherd continued. “Do not ask where this intel came from, and yes, it is reliable. We will even have the exact location of the victims and the approximate number of Tangos before your mission commences.” Mother knew this meant the Algerian government was receiving information directly from someone in the human trafficking organization. This would either go smoothly or it was one big cluster-fuck just waiting to happen. Cooper passed a box to Jackson, who sat beside him. Jackson removed his dog tags and placed them in the box with Cooper’s. The box made its way around the table. Since this was an unofficial mission, there would be nothing that identified them. They’d even remove the American flags from their uniforms.

When the box reached Mother, he pulled his tags off, over his unshaven neck and through his outgrown black hair. His dark eyes studied his brothers as the box completed its circle around the table. It got to Madison last, as she was seated beside Cooper. “Shepherd?” She asked, her dog tags still around her neck, but gripped in her hand. Shepherd nodded. “Yes, you are going in on this one.” Mother watched her remove them, pulling them over her long, blond ponytail. She added them to the box. Mother had been on a few prior missions in Muslim countries with Alpha Team. Shepherd often stationed Madison as liaison between their team and the regular military at a base of operations rather than sending her into the field. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Madison was running point for them onboard the Bush. “Shepherd, will the Algerian Military be either pulled from the area or ordered to stand down?” Lambchop asked. Shepherd nodded. “Once we get the intel on the exact location of where the raid will take place and notify them of our arrival time, Algeria will remove their military and police from that section of the port. They will be nearby though, so you don’t want to go out of your way to draw their attention.

And if any of your Tangos slip out of your mission zone, the Algerian forces will not assist, so keep your theater contained. Even though we are going in with three teams, treat this as you would any other stealth operation. Get in and out within thirty minutes. Neutralize your targets, free the hostages, and leave no trace of your identity.” “Do we have any indication of the hostage’s health?” Gary ‘the Undertaker’ Sloan, Delta Team’s medic, asked. “None whatsoever,” Shepherd said. “We do not know how long these women have been held, or from what countries they were imported from. This port was described as a human trafficking distribution hub in the briefing I received. Go in expecting the worse.” His eye swept from Sloan, to Alexander ‘Doc’ Williams, to Mike ‘Powder’ Rogers, Alpha and Charlie Team’s medics. The three medics exchanged glances. They would work closely together in preparation as well as in execution of the mission. “Okay, that’s it. Gear up in desert camo but bring your night fatigues. We don’t know what time of day or night you’ll go in.

M6 Carbines and a full armament of support weapons are authorized on this mission. Ryan is loading your ammo now. You’ll fly out of O’Hare as soon as you are loaded and ready to go.” The Operators stood, knowing they’d just been dismissed. Shepherd rolled his wheelchair away from the conference table and watched them file out of the room. At the stairs, the three medics went down. Their offices were on the fourth floor. Mother and the others went up. Their offices were on the seventh and eighth floors. Inside his office, Mother grabbed his combat pack and transferred items from his go-bag into it. He stashed his Xplore Rugged 2-IN-1 Tablet computer in the padded section of his combat pack. His mind went to his early days as a young Marine, fresh out of bootcamp. A rifle, combat boots, a helmet, and body armor were all he needed back then. The Marsoc Raiders didn’t even exist yet. The special forces arm of the Marine Corps came into being in two thousand six, and thankfully, Mother had established himself as an exemplary Marine in combat at that point and was accepted into the first class of volunteers for the elite unit.

Throughout the many years he served in that capacity operating alongside SEALS, Delta, the Rangers, and Green Berets, he never needed a computer in the field. Those at HQ ran the missions with the latest high-tech computer technology. The grunts on the ground were well equipped with the latest military weapons, but not all the computerized gadgets they had now. Things in this organization were different. Shepherd had assembled a unique team of highly skilled Operators. Not only were their combat skills kept honed to battle-ready perfection, Shepherd expected them to all stay abreast of current events. They had to be aware of new terrorist threats, know about pockets of political unrest around the globe, and have detailed knowledge of the latest military weaponry and tactics. Shepherd also expected each of them to be able to run point on any operation, including the planning of the missions. Everything about how they operated came from Special Forces Team philosophies, which was where Shepherd came from. He’d been a West Point graduate and spent the majority of his impressive career under the Special Forces umbrella. He spent the last years of his official active duty career in JSOC at Fort Bragg, at the Pentagon, and in D.C., establishing the connections he needed to make this team a reality. He was retired on paper only, with the rank of Colonel. Mother and the others on the team all respected the man immensely.

Delta Team’s three other members had all been Navy SEALs. Mother was definitely odd man out, but he had operated with SEALs for years, so he thought like one of them. Delta Team was an effective and cohesive team. His teammates were his brothers, and his best friends. They often worked with Alpha Team and the two teams performed seamlessly together. He’d only had a few missions with members of Charlie Team, but he trusted that if Shepherd had recruited them, they were all capable. He trusted them all with his life, and he’d lay down his to protect any of his brothers. “You about ready to roll?” Lambchop asked, poking his bald black head into Mother’s office. “Yeah,” Mother confirmed, zipping the main section of his combat pack closed. He, as the others, would finish packing up in the Team Room, where their tactical gear and weapons were kept in large lockers assigned to each man. He followed Lambchop down the hall and into the stairwell, down to subbasement level two, to the Team Room. Many of the others were already there. Mission chatter filled the room with the many voices engaged in separate conversations. Each man packed their bags, secured their weapons, and made piles behind themselves with their gear. “Attention!” Cooper yelled over the men as he and Madison came into the room.

“Be ready to move out in fifteen minutes. Ryan is just finishing up loading our ammo. Three vehicles are lined up in front of the door, one for Alpha, Delta, and Charlie, respectively. Start stowing your gear.” He pulled Jimmy ‘Taco’ Wilson, Charlie Team’s team lead over to Lambchop, whose locker was beside Mother’s. “As soon as we are given the layout of the facility and the location of the hostages, we’ll start to formulate our mission with Shepherd and Ops. The sheer number of victims is going to make this one tough, won’t exactly be a quick in and out operation.” “It doesn’t sound like there is a plan for what happens with those women when we pull out,” Mother remarked. “No, that bothered me too,” Cooper said. “I’ll be pushing for that info during our mission planning.” Cooper shook his head. “This could be one really fucked-up Op if we don’t get in and out fast.” “Hundreds of victims to sort through doesn’t lend itself to fast. It went unsaid, but like usual, if there are any American’s in that group, I assume we’ll evac them,” Mother added. “Yeah,” Cooper agreed.

He went to his own locker and began to pack his gear. Mother carried a full load of gear into the garage. Requisition Ryan was just finishing loading ammo into the third vehicle. The back tailgates were open on each, revealing a full load of ammo boxes in each vehicle. Mother made eye contact with him. “You’ve been busy.” Ryan laughed. “I keep ammo carts loaded for each team upstairs.” Mother knew he referred to the large supply room Ryan Grant managed. Ryan was responsible for every item the agency used from toilet paper to office supplies, to weapons and ammo. Never once had a needed item not been available for use. “Shh, don’t tell Shepherd or the other guys you don’t possess supernatural skills in pulling all our supply needs together.” Ryan laughed again. “Who says I don’t?” Mother chuckled as well. “Good luck,” Ryan said and then pushed the empty cart towards the elevator where two other empty carts were parked.

Mother acknowledged him with a wave. He went to the middle SUV and joined Sherman, who was already loading gear. They worked in perfect sync with each other and had the vehicles loaded quickly. Mother settled into the front passenger seat and mentally prepared his mind for the long flight to Spain as Lambchop drove the vehicle out of the garage. There would be some planning time, but the majority of the flight would be downtime. They would all try to sleep. The transfer of equipment inside the military hangar at O’Hare International Airport, in the cargo area, went quickly. The team settled into the sidewall seats of their modified McDonnell Douglas C-9. They waited in line for over a half hour for takeoff. Once they reached cruising altitude, Mother laid his head back and dropped off into a deep sleep. The Shepherd Security C-9 landed at Moron Air Force Base under the cover of darkness. They immediately transferred their gear to an awaiting Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter and took back off again only minutes after arriving. They landed on the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush, CVN-77, off the coast of Algeria, in the Mediterranean Sea.

The seas were relatively calm. As they stepped from the chopper, Mother looked up. He smiled, seeing the heavily clouded sky. It was one hundred hours local time. They had plenty of darkness left to run the Op this evening. Lambchop walked beside him. He too gazed at the sky before flashing Mother a smile. They were led below deck to a bunkroom with sixteen empty bunks. A small area with tables and chairs, and a monitor above the table, was at the far end of the room. A large, communal bathroom was within. One of the ship’s officers from CIC, the Combat Information Center, entered the room and introduced himself. His name was Commander Moyes. He activated the monitor on the wall over the tables and chairs. The monitor on the wall came to life, displaying Shepherd. “We have the location of the human trafficking victims,” he said, getting right to it.

The monitor display switched over to an aerial view of the port. “There are two containers near this warehouse on the far east end of the port that have been identified as your targets.” A red box was drawn around the location. “Your opposition has been identified as twelve to twenty armed Tangos. They will be in position around the containers, at the far end of the dock, and within the warehouse. The regular military and police have already been pulled from the area.” Mother suspected they had been pulled from the area before the area was alive with Tangos and victims. Not only were the Algerians not getting involved, they had turned a blind eye to the activity as soon as it began on that end of the port. He wondered what had changed that made them reach out to the U.S. The Algerian military was known to be one of the best in the region. Certainly, they could have successfully taken this on had the government wanted to intervene. And they could have done it before this many victims were loaded up and ready to be shipped out. The satellite picture of the port zeroed in on the area. It showed the warehouse with stacks of shipping containers situated all around it.

But there were two single shipping containers sitting side by side directly in front of the doors to the warehouse. “The two shipping containers are sitting between several large stacks of containers. Looks like good high places to position a few snipers,” Lambchop said. “And a crane at the end of the dock looks like a good position for Overwatch,” Jackson said. He was Alpha Team’s best sniper. He’d made shots in Afghanistan that were still classified. “I’m liking the top of the warehouse office too,” Sloan, Delta Team’s sniper and medic added. Cooper nodded. “Sloan, you and the Birdman will be Overwatch on the crane. Jackson, you’ve got the top of the warehouse office. On these two stacks of containers will be me and Taco. Between the four locations, we’ll create a kill box. We’ll take out any Tangos in the zone and be in position if any more come from inside the warehouse once the operation commences.” He flipped his hand, palm up, to view his watch, the face worn on the underside of his wrist. “We’ll go in an hour before dawn.

Get our Overwatch position secured first, followed by the three other raised positions before the remainder of the team moves in per Overwatch’s directions.” “We take out all the Tangos, crack open the containers, and free the victims before hightailing it out of there as quickly as we went in,” Lambchop added. “Keep it simple. Cover and move in standard two-by-two formation. The ground teams are team one Lambchop and Mother, team two Xena and Razor, team three Doc and Handsome, and team four Powder and Moe.” He used each member’s calls sign, which was how it would be from that moment on until the operation was completed. The CIC Officer nodded. “We can get you onto land and in position in plenty of time to have the operation begin before dawn.” He motioned to the map. “The chopper will drop you and recover you here.” He pointed to the eastern edge of the port. “Flight time is twenty-two minutes. You’re looking at cloudy skies and winds at eight knots from the south for the duration of the operation. Let me know what else you may need from us to support you.” Cooper nodded.

“Thank you, nothing right now.” “A small cargo ship, the Lions, will dock at zero nine hundred. You must be out of there before it does, or you’ll have a whole new set of assholes to deal with,” Shepherd said. “Is there someone in place to receive the freed women?” Madison ‘Xena’ Miller asked. “That’s a very good question,” Shepherd said. “After all threats are neutralized and the victims are freed, I will notify my contact who will relay the message to the authorities in Algeria that we are in contact with. We’ll find out then.” “This incoming ship, the Lions, is it the transport ship those containers will be loaded onto?” Madison asked. “Affirmative,” Shepherd answered.


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Updated: 14 March 2021 — 22:20

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