“Base: insert successful. Moving,” Boyd said.
He whispered into a microphone, hardly larger than a pinhead, that lay on his right shoulder. An earbud in his right ear gave him the audio.
“Roger, Dark Angel is watching,” Russell said.
So, the Reaper UVA was nearby. The drone was so quiet Boyd had not noticed. It was good to know he had the aircraft as a backup, although he had another one no one else could know.
The vampire shifted his rucksack to a comfortable position and started into a loping, effortless trot, moving faster than unaltered humans who carried no weight.
Kincaid had shown Wil the target on a photo taken that morning. Dostrem’s men had erected a car-lot size tent. Two SUVs were parked, nose to tail, on the south side, those were the white and the black. A longer-range image, at an angle, showed the red vehicle under the tent. The encampment was slightly more than three miles away.
As he jogged, he recalled the briefings from the afternoon.
Intelligence sources indicated that Dostrem considered himself a Sheik. He wanted the Taliban buyers to come to him at his court. He wouldn’t go to them for fear of having his merchandise stolen.
Assassination was a dark cloud shadowing his mind.
A spark flickered and disappeared. Boyd stopped, moved behind a rock outcropping and listened, extending all senses.
Tobacco smoke. Men, where there should be no one. Then a scrape of metal on rock touched his ears.
Holding the texting device connected to his radio, his thumbs danced across the keys. He needed no light.
“Base. People ahead. Target is still 500 meters away. What does Dark Angel see?”
As he waited for a reply he slipped the safety of his MP-7 to the Fire position. The machine pistol held a 40-round magazine and sported a suppressor. According to Russell, the sound would be like a spurt from a compressed air can.
Boyd was more than a match for any man, but sometimes the enemy had to be killed at a distance.
The texting keyboard vibrated. With no light other than moon and stars, he read the message.
“Dark Angel’s heat sensors show at least ten men encircling Dostrem’s camp. They aren’t guarding the camp. Not there for a friendly visit, They’re moving in for an attack. Can you get past them without being detected?”
“Think so, they’re sloppy and loud. Proceed as planned if I get inside?” Boyd sent.
“Wait,” came the reply.
After four minutes had crawled across Wil’s wristwatch, the texting device vibrated again.
“Spectre and Dark Angel both see you. There’s only one man between you and the camp. Execute plan.”
The final approach had to be slower. Sliding in darkness past the man who tried to hide his cigarette was simple. The soldier couldn’t see. The vampire made no noise and moved like a part of the night.
As he approached the hillock holding the encampment, the sensation he’d first felt when looking into the Village Elder’s compound returned. Again, legions of impossibly small caterpillars seemed to slither along his nerves.
He moved silently, but directly up the trail toward the big tent. A guard had looked up as he approached. Now the Taliban soldier lay in the rocks beside the trail, gushing the last of his life’s blood as his feet drummed diminishing final tremors in the dust.
Boyd drew a deep lungful of chill mountain air. He found the leather box Anna had given him, took out one of the crystal blood gems and snapped off the tiny curled top.
When the droplet of her blood touched his tongue, the jolt was as if he’d been hit with an electroshock device. Muscles and nerves, already enhanced by the adrenaline rush of battle, stepped up intensity. The crawling sensation remained, but was more easily suppressed.
He opened the texting keyboard and sent the message base was waiting for.