***Blaise Diagne International Airport, Senegal***
DJ Smith paced the small hangar, “What the fuck is taking so damned long?”
Dec laughed and shook his head, “Besides lack of landing clearance, British passports, our military history, and the fact that most of the world is in utter chaos right now? We can be damned glad of that too. Otherwise, we’d probably be in some fucking holding cell somewhere.”
“Any more news?” Darren was fiddling with something on the plane. The ride had been bumper than most that DJ had been on, even military jump ones.
“How much cash do we have left?” Dec shook his head and looked up. Each of them carried their own supplies, in case they got separated. That included money as well as packs with the essentials.
“Five,” Damien leaned against the tail of the plane.
“Eight,” Darren didn’t even bother looking up.
“Seven,” DJ added.
“And I have another two in pounds, plus five in euros, and four ounces of gold,” Dec smiled. “The question is who to bribe and how much.”
Darren finally lifted his head from whatever he was tinkering with, “Well, you better take into consideration finding a new vehicle. If we even make it as far as Brazil. At least there’s a life raft in the damned thing.”
“Should we find another plane?” DJ’s pacing increased with each word.
His youngest brother shook his head, “We don’t have that kind of money. I’m probably exaggerating things, but only a bit. We should just about make it to Brazil, but I don’t think she’ll hold together beyond that.”
“Fuck,” the fact that came from Damien said more than the word itself.
“What’s our options then?” DJ had assumed control for most of their lives, and he saw no reason to change now.
“If a miracle happens and she holds together, then we can almost make it to Isla Mujeres after one more refueling. But I doubt there’s anywhere to land something this big.”
“How long would that take?”
“Another five to seven hours depending on winds. But there’s a lot of variables here. If we attempt it and crash or have to land somewhere, we’re….”
“Screwed,” even Mister Positivity and peacemaker seemed to grasp the situation.
“We could try trading for something smaller, but we might end up just as bad off….”
“Or worse?” Damien ran his hands through his hair.
Darren just nodded. “Our other options are water. Assuming we can find a boat, that might work best since the damned convent is on an island. But that’s three, maybe four days. And….”
“And worst case, Cumbre Viaja goes, and we, as well as Sarah, are fucked.” Dec only nodded to Damien’s assessment.
“The easiest and perhaps the safest option is by land. If we travel by car, the roads are mostly far enough inland not to be a concern. But then we’d have to find someway, a plane or boat to get to Isla Mujeres.”
“How long would it take to drive it?” DJ knew he wasn’t going to like the answer, and he was right.
“Somewhere between five days and a week.”
“Do you have anything more positive to add, Mister Sunshine?” DJ’s hands were fisted at his side as he faced Damien. His brother shook his head and held up his hands.
Dec assumed his younger brother’s usual role of peacemaker, “Right now, we need to worry about getting refueled and out of here. That’s our first priority. Like Darren said, there are too many variables. Knowing our options and their limits is good, but not if we lose our focus.”
“I’m going to have a chat with the commander. Darren, do what you can with the old girl until I get back. DJ and Damien, try not to fucking kill each other. It’s going to take all of us to pull off this one.”
They paced the hangar in silence for much too long as Darren buried his head in the guts of the plane. DJ was about to give up and go after his brother when Dec and another man came walking into the corrugated metal furnace where they and the plane sat.
“This is Lieutenant Ndoye. Darren, the dispenser will be here in a moment. We good to go?”
Their youngest brother nodded, “She’s as good as I can get her.”
Dec smiled as he shook the man’s hand and spoke to him in French. DJ followed Damien into the plane and strapped in. His fingers slipped into the front pocket of his pack and released the safety on his Glock. He looked across to see his brother doing the same. “Can’t be too careful,” smiled the peacemaker.
DJ nodded as Dec crawled through the door and took the co-pilot seat, “How much?”
“Much more than I’d like. All two thousand in pounds, half my Euros, and three ounces of gold.”
“Fuck!” He and Damien seemed to be in agreement for once.
“If we don’t get out of here, then we can’t get to Sarah. So, at this point, whatever it takes.”
DJ couldn’t disagree with that logic. Besides, if worse came to worse, he’d learned to hotwire almost anything that moved before he was even in secondary school. A fact that he had carefully kept from his mother. But in this situation, he would do whatever it took to get to her. That was all that mattered.
Darren entered the plane. His face was as grim as the odds they faced. Their baby brother buckled into his seat. The engine sounded a bit better than before as he maneuvered the plane out of the hangar and towards a small landing strip on the far side of the airport.
“He couldn’t get us tower clearance for that. So we’re on our own here, boys. I know none of us is the church-going type, but a few prayers now wouldn’t be a bad idea.” His eyes never left the tarmac as the plane picked up speed. Rapid-fire French exploded from the radio as the front wheels left the ground. “Fingers crossed, Macapa is our next stop.”
What came then was anyone’s guess. Assuming they even made it that far. Between the state of this tin box and five hundred foot megatsunami waves racing across the Atlantic from the coast of La Palma, it was enough to make DJ clutch the St Michael’s pendant that hung alongside his dog tags.
Sarah had given them to him a few days before he left for basic training. He had visited her at that horrible place. He was never sure how she could afford them. He had tried to give her all the money he had saved from working summers, but she wouldn’t take it. He had deposited it into her account anyway. Though he knew his parents sent money every month to cover her basic needs.
As they walked the square in the center of the complex, the place looked almost like any modern school or office complex. But when he looked over his shoulder, DJ was reminded that this was a prison by the high fence laced with barbwire. Sarah never belonged in a place like that. She was the victim in the whole damned thing. Then the courts made her a victim again.
His mind was spiraling down a road he knew better than to take. He was even glad when turbulence rocked him from that path. He had let her down back then. They all had. Sure, he understood the position his father found himself in. How did you report your commanding officer for domestic violence? But if the old man had found the balls to do the right thing, then….
His father and especially his mother had done their best to rectify the situation when it blew up. But it was too late then. He never had forgiven his old man for that. Or getting his arse blown to hell and leaving their mother to finish the job of raising his brats alone.
Sure, she was happy, and more importantly, safe right now, with her new family. But there had been some incredibly rough years. Their choices to follow in the old man’s footsteps hadn’t helped her peace of mind. But he had to give the woman credit; Jill Smith Monroe understood duty as well as any Royal Marine.
He knew that she would understand this too. “Dec, did you have any luck with getting through to Regenesis?” No use to worry the old girl needlessly.
His brother half turned in the co-pilot’s seat. “I sent emails to both Daniel and convent. The question is whether the satellite feed will get them through.”
Another unknown to deal with. It almost made him glad that their girl was on better terms with some god – if there was one. They could only hope that Sarah’s prayers would be enough to keep her safe until they could get to her. Because the truth was DJ didn’t trust any god with the woman he’d loved his whole life, any more than he did his shit-faced brothers, and he was pretty sure they loved her just as much as he did. “Hold on, sweetheart. We’re coming for you.”
“Amen to that,” for the first time that day, Damien actually smiled. That was good. They could sure use some peacemaking and positivity. Especially if the world as we know it was coming to an end.