Somewhere In the Andes
Four dune buggies roar through the jungle clad slopes on trails that could only be called roads by their lack of competition. As they come into a small clearing by a stream a man in the lead buggy calls a halt with a hand signal. Twelve soldiers clamber out of the overloaded vehicles and stretch and groan even while setting up a perimeter.
“Everyone do your final checks while the link is set up.”
The men are wearing the weapons and equipment of the modern soldier. Some men stand watch while the bulk of the men check their gear and then they exchange places with a partner. One soldier puts together a video satellite up-link. “Com’s up sir.” He then begins checking his other equipment.
“I’m getting too stinking old for this,” the Captain mutters to himself. He walks over with a slight limp and while waiting for a response from the satellite link.
A face comes up in the screen, “What’s your situation Tango Leader?”
“We are about 5 clicks from the target and doing our final checks before going in. Any new intel about these scum-biscuits?”
“We haven’t been able to turn up anything useful. The locals are terrified, and satellite reconnaissance has turned up at least seven local villages that have been completely emptied. That’s why the Colombians have contracted us to find out what the cartel is up and put a stop to it if possible.”
“Oh? And can you tell me which side of the blasted border this compound is actually on?”
“Let’s just say the border is nebulous in this area and leave it at that.”
“Wonderful. I’ll get back to you after we’ve done a recon sweep. Tango leader out.”
“Good luck and stay safe.”
He turns off the screen and stretches and takes a deep breath. “Everyone listen up. Stash the buggies and gather your gear. We’re hoofing it the blanking rest of the way in.”
* * *
Sometime later the Captain crawls up beside his advanced man who is lying on the crest of a hill studying the target with binoculars. “Well?”
“It looks like we already missed the action. No movement and I count at least three corpses.” He presses a button and there is a sound while the lenses change. “The only thing I’m picking up on IR is hot spots where something is or was burning. This target already seems to have been neutralized.”
The Captain backs up behind the hill and calls several men over. “I need a consensus here. The basket cases we were sent after have already been toasted. We have every right head home and pop open a cold one, but something about this has the few remaining hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Do we check it out or do leave it for some other band aid to deal with?”
Five of the soldiers reply with, ‘I’m in’ and the last is the radio man.
“If this is enough to set you on edge, I want to set up a streaming link while we’re going in.”
“Well then get you butt in gear and we’ll go in as soon as you’re set.”
The radio man climbs a tree and cuts away a branch so that the dish he sets up has a clear line of sight to the sky. In another tree something moves so that it has a clear view of him.
* * *
“Alright sir. The link is secure and my camera is rolling with a high quality live feed. All the other cams are sending two second snapshots on a secondary channel.”
The Captain nods and gives the hand signal for everyone to move out. They move quickly across the open field to the wall around the compound. A pair of men split off in each direction to follow the perimeter, while the rest go in the front gate, which opens at a push. While the others secure the grounds and the out buildings, the captain and radio-man stand watch while the medic checks over a body that lies just inside the gate.
“Sir, whatever killed this man, it wasn’t a bullet. He’s got a nasty burn on his shoulder, but it shouldn’t have been fatal.”
“If you’re sure he’s gone, move on to the next one. I need a survivor.”
The teams begin to move into the main house. Signs of a battle are everywhere in the form of bullet holes and burn marks, and the occasional hole that says some larger ordinance was used.
“This is Tango six, I have a survivor. I’m taking her to the back of the house.”
The captain moves quickly and arrives to see a terrified little old lady babbling to one of his men. “What’s she saying?”
“Hell if I know. She’s obviously terrified, but she’s talking in one of the local dialects and not Spanish.”
“Find a quiet corner and some alcohol and see if you can calm her the flap down. We’ll take her back with us if we can.”
A little while later, the Captain faces the camera on his radio-man’s shoulder. “We’ve secured the compound, but I have no flanking idea what’s going on here. I have twelve bodies and one survivor and no clue who or what did this or what happened to the rest of the people who should be here. It’s obvious that this place is not the blooming cause of the disappearances, but had the same thing happen to their own assets. The place has been ransacked, but a lot of obvious valuables have been left behind including computers.”
The medic steps up next. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Six of the bodies show severe burns, many of which are in areas that should not be life threatening. Four of them show obvious shrapnel wounds, but when I collected some of the fragments, they are like nothing I’ve ever seen.” He holds up a plastic bag in which there are two bloody purple objects that look something flower petals. “The last two corpses looked like were literally ripped apart by some massive force as well as having large puncture wounds of unknown origin.”
The radio-man turned back to the Captain who says, “As soon as we finish our sweep, I’m bugging the flip out. We’re bringing the survivor as well as one of the burn victims along.”
“This is Tango four. Sir, I found something behind the compound that I think you should see.”
“On our way. What is it?”
“I’m not really sure.”
They arrive to see the soldiers standing watch over a blackened lump sitting in an area of burned grass that is still smoldering in some places along the edges.
“I thought it was a dead animal and had passed by it several times before I took a good look at it.”
The Captain toes the oddly shaped lump and it rolls over. The lump becomes identifiable as a large arm attached to a three fingered hand with large claws. “Bag it and let’s get the hell out of here. We’ll let the lab boys back home worry about where it came from.” As the medic kneels down and gets a body bag from his pack as another radio call comes in.
“This is Tango eight. I have large-scale movement in the brush to the south!”
The Captain looks in that direction and sees a medium size treed start to topple and a huge form can be seen through the brush. “What the f…”
“And that’s where we lose the transmission. The area where the trees were moving was right by where the satellite link was set up. It either got hit by something accidentally or was taken out deliberately. It’s been four hours since then and we’ve had no further contact with Tango group.”
“Tony, what about your people?”
“My people are still analyzing the footage from all the cams. Most of them are as completely baffled by what they’ve seen as the people on the scene were.”
“You said most. I take it that there’s another opinion.”
“One of my Savants thinks it might be dinosaurs.”
“He said that from the apparent size of the object in the undergrowth and its effect on the trees that whatever is causing the disturbance is both larger and more massive than a bull elephant. Furthermore he said that the hillside there is too steep for even tracked vehicles. He then pointed out that the arm has three fingers and claws like some dinosaurs and he swore that he can make out three toed tracks in some frames. He’s now trying to match the tracks and arm to known dinosaur fossils. No one else believes him, but they also don’t have a better explanation.”
“According to Sherlock Holmes, ‘once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’ There have been unconfirmed reports of living dinosaurs for a long time, including some in the Andes. As interesting as that would be, dinosaurs attacking people in the area still wouldn’t explain everything. What forces do we have in the region?”
“Just the battlesuit training group near Bogotá.”
“Pull them and send them to the pick up point. Have them prepared for a hot extraction or possibly a rescue mission.”
“I’ll get right on it Director.”
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