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Monday, May 16, 2011

("People don't know the difference no more between right and wrong. Gonna to be a cold dark night when the creeper comes along")Molly Hatchet

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc



Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty

Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro California…Saturday, April 16, 2005…1am

Jack waived to Sandy from the helm of assault boat number one, affectionately dubbed Pixie as he piloted half the team back into the marina. Sandy gave him a two fingered salute from the helm of Dixie, also known as assault boat number two. The practice run could not have gone any smoother! It was 180 degrees of the previous try that almost got us busted or worse. Everything went according to plan, even Jack's cloaking device, which was a pleasant surprise to all of us, let me tell you! Randy, Wesley, and Roman had arrived exactly on time with the mirrors with my Pop in tow. We off loaded the equipment in less than 30 minutes allowing us to put to sea on time as the sun sank into the ocean.

The only element we were not in control of was the weather, but lo and behold, the clouds parted as if following a script and the full moon started its rise. Five miles off sore on calm seas we reduced our speed to 2 knots while the mirrors were installed and positioned. Jack supervised the Pixie and Papa manned the installation on board Dixie. By 2100 hours we were ready to take Jack's brainchild from the drawing board to the proving ground, skipping the qualification phase and going straight to implementation. Each team went below decks while Jack and Sandy remained at the helm of each craft respectively. Pixie went first, increasing speed steadily, leaving Dixie behind in its wake heading due east until it was a dot on the horizon. Jack's voice squawked over the radio letting us know that he was starting his run.

The plan was to run hot straight and normal just like a torpedo right at Dixie with the device engaged, going all stop and running silent at some point before reaching us. If everything worked as planned they would glide right by us unseen and unheard. Sandy remained topside with a powerful pair of binoculars while Papa and I stayed below deck to scan the surface for Pixie's arrival, my dad on the port side and me starboard. In the simulations Jack explained how the spinning mirrors would use the moonlight to reflect the ocean surface onto the benign coloring of each assault boat so that in theory at a reduced speed and on a silent run all anyone would see is water, and even if the sonar picked up their approach they would pass for a pod of porpoises or a whale swimming by the larger ocean liner. That was the theory and it looked good on Jack's Apple laptop but would it work? Even I was skeptical, hopeful, but skeptical.

Papa and I each had stop watches and we had started them on Jack's mark, estimating his speed and distance to his expected arrival. We knew relatively how far he had ventured, roughly a mile and a half. We had to guess at his speed though, that was the random element. We figured he'd cut the engines about three hundred yards before reaching us. The rules of engagement were that he had to come straight at us and then drift by one side or the other. If we saw him then the mission would be buster and we'd go back to the drawing board. If he somehow snuck by us then the mission was a go and we'd cruise out to the shipping lanes to play tag you're it with one of Peck's smaller vessels, the Princess Margret steaming toward Ensenada. I looked across the salon at Papa and pointed at the stopwatch in my hand. He nodded and held up two fingers. By his calculations Pixie should be on us in two minutes, give or take a couple of seconds. We both placed our binoculars up to our eyes and scanned the surface for signs of its approach. Part of me wanted to catch the arrogant little shit, it's a guy thing I guess, we're all born competitive. But most of me was hoping for nothing but dark through the lenses.

"Hey, you guys see anything yet?" Sandy hollered from topside.

"Shut up dumb ass! Just keep your eyes straight ahead, he should be on us in a minute or so," I shouted in a harsh whisper.

I counted down the seconds silently as the one minute mark came. Sixty seconds give or take I thought, straining my eyes as I scanned the surface for any evidence of a passing vessel. Thirty seconds now, and my eyes were aching from the pressure I was placing on them as I pushed the binoculars further into my head. At ten seconds I started an audible count down, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…nothing? Papa started a negative countdown right after, minus 1, minus 2, minus 3, minus 4, minus 5, minus 6, minus 7, minus 8, minus 9, minus 10…still nothing? We looked at each other then raced up the steps topside.

"What did you see Sandy?" I asked spinning 360 degrees in the cool night air looking for a sign of Pixie.

"I didn't see nothin and I didn't hear nothin. Maybe he broke down?" Sandy replied.

I was about to say something sarcastic when the silence was broken abruptly by the revving of Pixie's twin Mercs. It rushed at us from about 100 yards aft of our position and pulled up along our starboard side. Jack had a shit eating grin going from ear to ear. Hell, so did Randy, Wesley and Roman for that matter as they tossed us a line to tie off beside us. The Dixie crew stood speechless while the Pixie team whooped and hollered. The damn thing worked beyond anyone's expectations, even Jack seemed surprised at how well his invention performed. He looked like a six year-old winning a blue ribbon at the school science fair.

"Can you believe it?" he asked rhetorically.

"Are we ready for the main event then?" I asked everyone at once.

"Let's kick this pig!" shouted Sandy.

The run on the Princess Margret was as successful as Pixie's maiden run at Dixie. We took positions at three nautical miles ahead of the large ocean liner and waited for Jack's signal. Pixie was on point with Dixie 100 yards astern. At exactly 11pm we started our run reaching 45 mph on the choppy surface, and engaged the cloaking devices two nautical miles from the target. At 500 yards we cut the engines and split up, Pixie taking the starboard side and Dixie taking the port side. As the vessel approached we started the engines, pulled along side and tagged each side of Peck's ocean liner with a volley of paintballs and then disappeared into the ships wake. They never saw us coming, they never saw us leave.

The run was perfect! The plan was no longer plausible it was now possible. A few more practice runs and we'd be ready to take on the Prince Vigo. It was time for phase two, setting up the ghost organization that all of the loot would flow through to those who needed it most. For the first time I allowed myself to breathe. For the first time I felt confident that I could keep my promise to my family. That felt good, I hadn't felt good in a long time.

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