by Martin Grise
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
“Do you need anything else, Captain?” asked the major.
“No, everything’s ready,” said Augusto. He and the other five members of his team stood under the fluorescent lights of the loading dock with the roll-down door open.
“We’ll be there as soon as you call,” said the major, loud enough for all the men to hear. “We won’t need eight minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” said Augusto, looking out at the lights of Rio de Janeiro beyond the parking lot.
Finally, Caio, the medic, looked at his watch, and Augusto knew it was nearly time to go. In thirty seconds a rusted black van would pull up to the loading dock, and he could try this again.
The captain had led a platoon of elite police commandos for the past five years, the culmination of his twenty years’ service on the force. He was consistently an excellent shot; disciplined, obedient, and preternaturally cool under fire.
In his first three years on the force, he had been wounded on four occasions, each time refusing evacuation until the mission was accomplished. In one case, he left the hospital without permission before the wound was completely healed — a reverse AWOL — so that he could rejoin his unit. This earned him the respect of his comrades, who were not easy men to impress.
After the raids, in the bars of middle-class Rio, the officers met to celebrate or commiserate, depending on what had transpired. Augusto sat alone at the end of the bar. The men congratulated him but he only nodded, unsmiling. He used to smile tightly, like it hurt, because he knew it was what the men wanted to see; eventually, he didn’t bother with it.
Augusto had neither wife nor children; there was no place to go but to the bars with the men, but he didn’t engage in their chatter. The women who approached him were met with apathy, which they took for youthful pride until they saw that there were no gaps in his cold demeanor.
The rumors were that Augusto must be a bull queer, but he’d never bothered any of the men in the locker room. The men wanted him on missions with them, the same way they wanted body armor and ballistic shields, but they had more affection for the police dogs they sometimes used.
When Augusto applied for promotion to captain, the major thought twice about giving him a command, due to his unusual psychology. An analyst interviewed Augusto at length.
“Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” The psychologist, with Augusto’s records in front of him, knew the answer before he asked.
“If someone cheats you, is it your own fault for being naïve?”
“Are you often bored?”
“Not often, no.”
“Do you own a motorcycle?”
“When was the last time you were in a fight? Outside of your job, I mean.”
“I can’t remember being in one.”
“As a kid?”
“A couple times as a kid.”
“Was anyone hurt?”
“Oh, no. It wasn’t anything serious.”
“Do you like very spicy food?”
The psychologist, of course knowing better than to simply accept all of this as fact, compared the answers to Augusto’s military record and reports from other officers.
“Interesting man,” he told the major. “Asocial, but not actively misanthropic. He’s really good in combat?”
“Oh yes,” said the major.
“That’s unusual, because he’s not very aggressive. Actually,” added the analyst with a grin, “most of your men are more narcissistic than he is.”
Augusto’s tactical sense and grace under pressure, however, were beyond refute, and the major figured that respect and trust were as valuable as affective attachment. It proved the right decision.
The new captain acquired a protomythical reputation among his men, like some inscrutable samurai, who led them ably in combat but was otherwise completely unavailable, as if he was simply beyond their comprehension. And, on that warm night in Rio, he was.
* * *
Rio de Janeiro
4 May 2016
CORE OPERATION ORDER 0002-10 (OPERATION INTOXICAR) BASIC ORDER
- Maps and Charts: Series HSU, sheet F-4 (Rio de Janeiro), Edition 15
- CORE Planning Directive, 15 April 2016; TIME ZONE: UTC-3
- General: Comando Vermelho (CV) has taken six HVPs hostage and is holding them for ransom in an abandoned industrial building (code name MONTANHA, grid reference 23KPQ79465678). Negotiations are ongoing.
- AO: Rocinha Favela, Rio de Janeiro
- Enemy Forces. See appendix D-1 and current intelligence summaries.
- Friendly Forces:
- ESCUDO: 1 and 2 Platoons, 2 MAVERICK armored vehicles, 4 trucks, 1 Huey UH-1 Helicopter
- FLECHA: 3 and 4 Platoons, 1 MAVERICK armored vehicle, 4 trucks
- FANTASMA: 6-man team, with 1 van and 1 driver attached
- Other elements:
- CHAVE: Informant with Comando Vermelho
- PAPOULA: 6 HVP Hostages
Commander’s intent: The primary objective is the rescue of PAPOULA. Secondary objective is the pacification of MONTANHA.
CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS:
This operation will be conducted in three phases:
PHASE 1: FANTASMA, dressed as civilians, will meet CHAVE at RP ALPHA and proceed to MONTANHA.
CHAVE will lead FANTASMA into MONTANHA and take the unit to the location of PAPOULA.
FANTASMA will secure PAPOULA and strongpoint the position. FANTASMA will then contact command to begin PHASE 2.
PHASE 2: ESCUDO will surround MONTANHA, cutting it off from reinforcement. It will also provide suppressing fire against MONTANHA at the orders of FLECHA and FANTASMA.
Concurrently, FLECHA will ingress to MONTANHA and enter. FLECHA’s primary objective is to reach FANTASMA, PAPOULA, and CHAVE and escort them out of MONTANHA. The secondary objective is to eliminate all resistance in MONTANHA.
PHASE 3: FANTASMA, PAPOULA, and CHAVE will egress from MONTANHA under the protection of FLECHA.
PAPOULA will exfil in FLECHA’s MAVERICK armored vehicle to CORE HQ, while FANTASMA and CHAVE will exfil in the van attached to FANTASMA.
FLECHA commander will decide whether to continue with the secondary objective or exfil with ESCUDO at this point.
* * *
Augusto and his team rode in the back of the van as it twisted up the hills and through the mazy streets of the ever-expanding favela. The driver pulled them into an alley just wide enough for the van and turned off the lights. Augusto slid back the door, stepped out, and walked to the back of the van.
The men followed silently. They were dressed as civilians, but they were burly men with crewcuts in large coats obviously covering body armor and weapons. Caio was carrying a duffel bag full of medical supplies and assorted tools, and Tomás had an aluminum case filled with loaded magazines. They would attract more attention than uniformed police if they were spotted.
Augusto approached the source of the voice. The informant was a thin young pardo dressed in a dark hooded sweatshirt and frayed jeans. Augusto was careful not to betray his emotions when he met the informant’s humorless gaze.
The CV thought they had scored a phenomenal success by raiding a fundraising dinner of the Police Wives’ Auxiliary Association. They had planned the operation for months and placed a few of their number with the company catering the dinner. It was not terribly difficult to smuggle weapons into the rented hall with the food.
They captured six women, all wives or fiancées of police officers, and escaped. Not only was it a great propaganda coup, but the group also expected that the police would be willing to pay a hefty price for the women’s safe return.
On that point, they were correct: the police found enough money to buy an informant in the CV and grant him immunity. With a bit of sniffing around, you can always find the one willing to sell out the others.
The team followed their contact through alleyways and streets, over waist-high cinderblock walls and piles of trash bags.
“Wait,” said the informant.
The officers knelt behind a pile of cardboard boxes while a patrol with automatic rifles passed in the street in front of them. To Augusto they appeared a sad group, just teens in sneakers and track suits, with bumper stickers on the butts of their rifles and cheap, gaudy, knockoff jewelry around their necks.
The officers held their breath, but Augusto was unimpressed by this bit of theatre. After they passed, the informant silently waved them on, and they crossed the street to the back of MONTANHA.
The informant looked around nervously as he produced keys from his pocket with much jingling and unlocked a metal door. The squad entered an unlit room. Weapons slipped out from under coats and fingers flipped safeties off. The informant switched on a light in the empty storage room, crossed the floor to a door on the other side, and the captain put his hand in his jacket pocket.
Just before the informant put the key in the lock, Augusto drew a silenced Taurus and fired one shot into the back of the informant’s head. The informant quietly collapsed, and the captain picked up the keys, carefully avoiding the pooling blood. He would leave tracks if he stepped in it.
Behind him, the officers were watching him with mouths agape.
* * *
Copyright © 2017 by Martin Grise