Wendy Peffercorn, Derious’s girlfriend, had the shakes as Hyena slowly carressed her knee.
She had watched Hyena work on Derious. Hyena wrote sonatas with synchopated rhythms of pain, promise of reprieve, more pain, hope and anguish. Hyena was the breaker of souls.
Benicio directed Wendy to broadcast that the command-and-control center had issues with the antenna due to a large explosion and that it would be on-and-off-line until it was fixed. That would assure the hostile troops that nothing was amiss.
In fact, the explosion of the fuel truck had occurred several hundred yards from the safe-house, just the other side of the freeway.
“Requesting status update.” Wendy broadcast to the troops who bypassed Capiche for targets that were farther west. She was not able to keep the quaver of fear out of her voice.
If the fighters west of Capiche noticed, they didn’t say anything. They were dog tired.
“Objectives achieved. No resistance encountered. Loading trucks.” the fighter said.
“Objective achieved. No resistance. Loading trucks. Copy that.” Wendy said.
“Continue loading trucks. Contact me before starting back.” Wendy said. Looking over at Hyena she added “We may direct you to stay put and hit another target in the morning. Copy?”
“Copy that.” the weary voice on the other end said. “These people aren’t much of a threat and a full night’s sleep would be appreciated.”
“I will pass that on.” Wendy said. One of Benicio’s people was recording the entire exchange.
When Derious regained consciousness, Hyena would verify the information he extracted in the last session. Derious was a congenital liar. The stories would never totally match but with enough repetitions they could get a fix on what was probably true.
“Tie their hands with coat hanger wire or fence wire.” Donnie said. Four feet of bare, steel, 14 gauge wire, snugged-up enough to cut deeply into the flesh, is virtually impossible for a prisoner to worm his way out of, especially if the loose ends are cut short so there is nothing to grab a hold of.
Then Donnie had the prisoners wired back-to-back by their hands and made them sit on the ground. None of them were looking very peppy. Donnie didn’t know it, but some of them were bleeding out, internally.
Once the prisoners were under control, he radioed in that he several runners that had gotten away and would keep Tim appraised of the situation.
After a moment of thought, he turned to Miguel and asked, “Are there any refugee camps around here?”
Miguel said “Yeah. Most of them are on the other side of the river, though.”
“What do you think the odds are that some of them will end up over there?” Donnie asked.
“Pretty good. That is where everybody who is down-and-out ends up.” Miguel said. “If I were one of them, I would drift back to where I came from, hoping to link up with a unit and evacuate.
“Would you be ‘OK’ going over there and telling them to be on the lookout for the gomers who got away?” Donnie asked.
Thinking about the massacred refugees, Miguel said “I think somebody should tell them. These guys are armed and dangerous.”
“Hang on a sec” Donnie said.
He radioed C-n-C. “I gotta guy who volunteered to hit up the refugee camps on the other side of the river in case our runners show up over there. Any chance we can offer them some money for the information?”
Wade Hawk picked up the mic. “Do you think they can get across the river?” Wade hated spending money.
“Hell yeah. It is ankle-deep in places. They can walk across and barely get their shoelaces wet.” Donnie replied. Shit, get more than three miles from the river and they didn’t know a thing about it.
Wade conferred with Chernovsky. Chernovsky shot from the hip.
Wade radioed back “Tell them we will pay five silver dollars for information about hostiles IF we are able to capture them.”
Donnie looked up at Miguel. “Did you hear that?”
“Yes sir! Five silver dollars for the person who gives us information that leads to the arrest of a gomer.” Miguel said.
Donnie looked at Miguel, critically. “I hate to tell you this, but you better lose the rifle and backpack. Otherwise, you look just like a regular kid.”
“I will do you one better, boss.” Miguel said. “I wanna swing by camp and pick up some rations to put in a bag. The refugees will hear me a lot better if I show up with food.”
“The other thing is, can I take Scoundrel?” Scoundrel was the camp dog.
“Why would you wanna do that?” Donnie asked.
“How many soldiers do you see walking through the woods with a curr?” Miguel asked.
“Point taken. Take the damned dog with you.” Donnie agreed.
Donnie gave Miguel one more look-over. “Pull out your shirt-tails. You ain’t a soldier any more. Plus, you wanna make sure nobody sees you are carrying a pistol.”
Miguel shot him a quick smile. In another lifetime, Miguel would have been a world-class poacher. He had just been ordered to do what he did best.