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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    C James
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  • 6,864 Words
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Changing Lanes - 45. Ragnarök


Chapter 45: Ragnarök


 



 

 

D minus 2:54:00

Suitcase in hand, Keith strolled up to Eric and Jansen, who were sitting by the pavilion’s pool in boardshorts, their shoes and socks strewn under the table.

Taking a seat, Keith said, “I’ve got some spare clothes in here. You guys might want to get dressed; I hear the other side of the island is covered by ash. It’s gonna be a rough trip, I guess.”

As Jansen opened the suitcase, he replied, “Yeah, when we were over there, it was a mess. Everything is covered by ash, and if a car drives through it, or there’s any wind, you get choking clouds. It’s gritty, gets into everything. Thanks, Keither.”

Keith walked away to check on Jon, who was still manning the AK-47.

As Jansen fished out some jeans and shirts for Eric and himself, Eric leaned close and said in a quiet voice, “Last night... what we did... don’t think that was just the tequila. It wasn’t.”

Jansen looked into Eric’s eyes, and smiled.

 

 

Yuri blinked at the outline of The Scar's plan, wondering if it was feasible. Deciding that there was a flaw, he said, “Can one bomb do such a thing? I know that a conventional explosion on the ground loses most of its force due to it being directed upwards. Would a nuclear explosion have the same limitations?”

Grinning, enjoying the riposte, The Scar replied, “But of course, Yuri. It would indeed. However, I have discerned the solution. In fact, it was you yourself who told me what I needed to know in order to overcome that particular limitation. I have yet to see it, but according to the map it is just ahead.”

Yuri’s mind whirled for a moment, and then he understood. “The tunnel... it runs through the northern flank of the mountain and is very deep as it passes under the ridge... and an underground nuclear detonation would be very much like an earthquake.”

“Indeed, Yuri, indeed. We shall use one of our precious bombs as a mere trigger for the far greater power of nature herself. Now, for the practical details to which we must first attend. We must emplace a bomb in the tunnel at its approximate midpoint. I recall that long underground road tunnels most often provide emergency pull-in spaces every few hundred yards, to allow for vehicle breakdowns. Under the present circumstances, I doubt that anyone would pay much heed to some debris in such an alcove, particularly if demarked with the road-hazard triangles from the police car. Thus, we shall place our bomb. We are nearing the tunnel and can choose our desired location.”

Yuri nodded, seeing the tunnel in his mind’s eye. “Yes, there are such pull-ins. Attaching a timer and shaped-charge trigger to the bomb will be a simple matter and take but a few moments. I have, as you ordered, already placed a triggering charge on the first bomb we captured, so I know that it can be done with ease.”

The Scar smiled coldly. “Call Lieutenant Survov. Tell him to be prepared to move out instantly when I give the order. He will be taking the bomb on the truck, along with his entire force, to meet us at the airport.”

The Scar listened as Yuri made the call. Once he was done, Yuri said, “Their location is not far from the tunnel, perhaps four miles. He should be there within half an hour of receiving your command.”

“Alert our plane to take off in precisely half an hour.” The Scar said. He looked out across the as-yet untouched landscape, and smiled. “It will be a thing of wonder, Yuri. It will also serve to send a message that we are not to be trifled with, should it be discovered, as well it might, that the eruption and its consequences were wrought by human hand.”

Just before reaching the tunnel’s entrance, Yuri completed the call to Flight Two.

The Scar reflected upon another item, one he found pleasing. “Fate is indeed kind, Yuri. It shall not be merely America, nor even the other nations of the Atlantic Basin, who shall feel my vengeance. That band, which has so oft bedeviled me, perhaps along with the traitorous bitch and Bradson, are yet stranded at the resort. I wonder if they shall die in the initial volcanic blasts, or if perchance they will survive a few moments more to ride the land upon which they sit to the bottom of the sea?”

Several tense minutes later, Yuri was able to pull into the indicated breakdown alcove, which was roughly at the tunnel’s midpoint. They both climbed out, and The Scar began looking around in haste, cursing the inadequate lighting provided by the tunnel’s emergency system, barely supplemented by the headlights of passing cars. “Yuri, we need a strong tie-down point. Check the walls, even the ceiling, for anything that we can tie the towrope to.”

They looked, walking the hundred-foot length of the alcove. The Scar scanned the walls and roof, seeing no protrusions that they could use, and began to mutter under his breath, trying to think of a solution. It was Yuri who found it. “Sir, look, a drain grating. Will that do?”

The Scar, slightly perturbed that Yuri had hit upon the solution first but too proud to show it, bent down to look. With his hand, he gave it a pull, and then noticed the bolts. “Yes, it appears to be firmly mounted. Well done, Yuri.”

Working together, Yuri and The Scar hauled the four heavy wooden beams out of the van, laid them side by side to form a narrow platform, and then heaved the mattress on top of it. “That should suffice to cushion the drop,” said The Scar, as he cast a wary eye at a passing car. The eastbound traffic had eased, but what remained was enough to send a vehicle past the alcove once or twice a minute.

Yuri attached the towrope to the bomb’s end and then to the heavy steel of the drain grating. The Scar stared at the beams and mattress for a few seconds, adjusted them slightly, and directed Yuri to ease the van forward slowly.

The long cylinder, pulled by the towrope, inched out of the van, tipping one end onto the mattress. As the van continued to pull away, the forward end of the bomb clattered over the van’s bumper with a screech of metal, and then thudded onto the mattress.

Yuri fished out the rucksack containing his demolition charges and timers, and quickly rigged the triggering charge on the bomb’s end, directly over its main driver charge. He mounted the charge with duct tape, checked it for tightness, and then attached the timer, which was little more than the workings from a digital watch.

Yuri gave The Scar a nod. “How long?”

“Ninety minutes should be ample, I would think,” The Scar replied.

Yuri shuddered. Glancing at the passing eastbound traffic, he said, “Sir, with all due respect, that is cutting things close. We need to get our force moving, secure the airport, land Flight Two, and then load the bombs into it prior to takeoff. We have insufficient transportation: should one of the vehicles break down, we will need to tow it with the other or transfer a bomb. There is also the matter of the ash, which makes it slow-going on the roads. I would recommend no less than two hours on the timer.” Yuri would have preferred more but did not believe The Scar would agree to it.

The Scar pondered for a moment, weighing the risks. Realizing that Yuri was right and putting success before his pride, he replied, “Then so shall it be, Yuri. Set the charge and we shall be on our way.”

Yuri programmed the timer and hit its start button simultaneously with the timer stud on his own watch.

D minus 2:00.00

It took Yuri less than a minute to toss the tarp over the bomb, pin it down with the bricks, and set out the road-hazard triangles between the bomb and the tunnel’s nearest lane. The Scar took a concerned glance, hoping that in the confusion of the evacuation, no one would bother with the covered, unmarked cylinder.

Yuri walked past the van, heading for the driver’s seat, and noticed that the gap next to the side door was now even greater than before. That concerned him, but he knew there was no point in fretting about it. He hoped that shedding half their load would ease the strain enough.

The Scar climbed into the van and Yuri pulled away, accelerating gently. The Scar glanced back at the covered bomb and smiled, picturing in his mind the havoc it would wreak.

As they exited the east end of the tunnel, The Scar looked across the ash-shrouded landscape, seeing the devastation for the first time. As they slowly churned through the clogging ash, he reflected that Yuri had been right to allow an extra thirty minutes when setting the timer on the bomb.

 

 

D minus 1:57:00

With AK-47s hastily concealed but within easy reach, Felecia’s force of mercenaries rode to the airport, churning through the ash, on the two fire trucks her men had previously liberated.

As they neared the airport, Felecia sent a team, equipped with a set of short-range walkie-talkies, forward. She could see the C-130 of Flight Three, now dusted by a grey haze of ash, sitting on the flight line near the north end of the runway. A check with binoculars revealed no sign of opposition, but Felecia approached with care, moving her force by echelon, dismounted fire teams leapfrogging forward ahead of the trucks.

Given the size of her force, she felt she had little choice. Their mission was to secure the C-130, fuel it, and get the fire trucks in position to wet down the ash on part of the runway. The additional mission of defending against an attack by The Scar’s troops was a complication, but one she felt she could deal with if she had to.

It took fifteen minutes, but they secured a perimeter around Flight Three, and Felecia was able to bring in the fire trucks, positioning them by the sides of the plane. She detailed three men to each truck, ordering them to deploy hoses. She watched as this was done, noting with relief that her men had found a fire hydrant near the apron, close enough to the runway to use. The need for fire hydrants ­– the fire trucks’ internal tankage was insufficient to wet the ash over a broad area of runway – was something that had been overlooked until her arrival, and she breathed a sigh of relief when her men confirmed that the hydrant was still pressurized.

A fast check of the C-130 revealed no additional booby-traps, and one of Felecia’s pilots confirmed that, as far as he could tell without starting the engines, that the aircraft appeared to be operational. The possibility of sabotage weighed heavy on Felecia’s mind, but she decided that there was little that she could do about it.

Felecia checked her perimeter deployments, arrayed in an arc inland of Flight Three, and wished they were not lacking their heavy weapons. A brace of mortars and RPGs would have vastly strengthened her position, but those had been taken from the plane. That, Felecia knew, meant that The Scar’s henchmen heavily out-ranged her own firepower.

Having done as much as she could, Felecia hunkered down to watch and wait.

Ten minutes later, she received the news she’d been dreading as a sentry reported, “Troops approaching from the north, on the airport access road, seaward of the runway. Estimate twenty-plus men, on foot. AKs and RPGs.” The next bit of news was not quite so unwelcome. “They’re coming straight in, not keeping to cover.”

Thinking that they were heading for her C-130, Felecia grinned. “Let’s arrange a welcoming committee. Shift our deployments, set up in two firing positions between the road and the plane. Use anything you can for cover and camouflage, and don’t forget to douse yourselves with ash. Nothing says ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ like a good old-fashioned ambush.” Then she added, just to be sure, “Those RPGs give ‘em a reach and firepower we can’t match so keep down, wait until the last possible second. If they spot us, open up, but otherwise let ‘em come on in, then make every round count.”

Felecia’s plan was a sound one, but the flaw in it was that the Scar’s henchmen were not heading for Flight Three. They were going to the terminal building. Their orders were to seize it and then use it as a defensive position to cover the landing of Flight Two.

A little too late, Felecia, watching through her field glasses, discerned the enemy’s objective, and along with it the failure of her ambush plan. Turning to her senior man present, a former Italian paratrooper, she said, “Let’s just keep our heads down and hope they don’t notice us until the others return. Then we’ll take ‘em out in a pincer movement.”

That plan, like the other, did not last long. Once the Scar’s henchmen had secured the empty terminal, Yuri, over the phone, ordered them to deploy a few men to reconnoiter. Two of those men noticed the fire hoses snaking away through the ash, accompanied by fresh footprints, in the direction of Flight Two. There, they saw the newly arrived firetrucks.

Yuri and The Scar were still two miles inland, driving through the ash, when they received the report. The Scar, realizing the weakness of his poorly trained force, ordered Lieutenant Survov, “Take defensive positions and hold in place. We’ll be there within minutes.” Turning to Yuri, The Scar said, “To the terminal, as fast as you can.”

Apprehensive, mindful of the van’s overloaded condition, Yuri sped up, churning through the ash. After five tense minutes, he wheeled onto the airport approach road, and in the tunnel that passed under the runway’s north end, he found the truck, guarded by three henchmen. Yuri nodded approvingly: Survov had not risked the vehicle and its cargo by taking it into the unsecured airport.

Yuri pulled past the truck, waving for it to follow, and drove towards the terminal. The cloud of ash kicked up by the van provided an unplanned benefit; it obscured the truck enough so that Felecia’s lookouts did not recognize it.

Arriving at the terminal, The Scar and Yuri jumped out, and The Scar told Yuri, “I’ll handle that traitorous bitch. In case I cannot, prepare the bomb in the van for command detonation. We may need it for leverage.”

Yuri was well aware that they already had one of the two bombs at the airport rigged. Nevertheless, he availed himself of his sapper’s kit. Within minutes, he had the nuclear warhead rigged to fire and reported that fact to The Scar.

The Scar had made good use of the time. He’d sent Survov to break into the control tower, from where he had a commanding view. Survov hadn’t spotted Felecia’s troops easily, but their tracks in the ash, when seen from an elevated position, had given her away. As a result, he’d been able to tell The Scar of Felecia’s deployments and approximate strength.

When Yuri arrived by his side, The Scar brought him up to date on the tactical situation and then checked his watch. “We have forty-five minutes. Keep Flight Two circling offshore for now. We outnumber and outgun the opposition and this is no time for finesse. Send the men forward, frontal assault. Tell them to avoid damaging the plane; Felecia will defend it as long as it is intact and that pins her in place, leaving us as the sole possessors of tactical mobility.”

 

 

At Flight Three, Felecia watched with anger and dread as The Scar’s force began deploying for an attack, making no secret of their intent. Her force, redeployed between Flight Three and the terminal, using whatever cover availed.

Knowing that she may never get another chance, Felecia checked in with General Bradson and told him of the situation. Felecia then summed up the situation succinctly with a muttered, “We’re fucked.” To her men, she shouted, “Let ‘em get close, then make every round count.”

General Bradson, pacing in the pavilion, clutched at his phone and said, “Fel, get out of there. You can’t defend that plane.”

“No option, Walter. It’s our only way out of here. You know what the authorities would do if they captured my men. It is also the only way to safety for my people, you, and the people with you. I think Frankenstein wants to seize it, not destroy it. We’re within his mortar range now; he’d have taken it out already if that’s what he intended.” A glance through her field glasses prompted Felecia to shout an order to her men, “Prepare to engage!”

The order was suicidal; they were about to be pinned by a superior force, but Felecia could see no option. Fortunately, someone else could. “Fel, remember what we did to the Iranians, with the aircraft engines? Wet down the areas under the wings and forward of the wings, then give ‘em an ash storm, right in the teeth,” General Bradson said, thankful that he’d parked the aircraft facing north.

Felecia snapped out the orders, putting the plan into effect, praying that they had enough time.

While the ash was being wet down by the fire hoses, The Scar’s henchmen began to advance at a run, shooting their AK-47s from the hip for cover.

Fighting back the urge to wince at such amateurish tactics, and thanking providence for the ignorance of her enemies, Felecia ordered the pilot, “Fire up the engines!” Felecia also muttered a prayer of thanks for the fact that the AK-47 rounds were unlikely to do serious damage to the aircraft.

The hurricane force of the propwash tore at the ash covering the tarmac, sending a thick, choking cloud howling into the oncoming troops. As the ash cloud began to spread out, the sea breeze carried its seaward edge northward, back towards Flight Three, forcing Felecia to order the engines shut down in order to avoid fouling them.

Seeing her chance, Felecia told her troops, “Sun Tzu once said, ‘On death’s ground, fight!’ This is death’s ground and I think old Sun Tzu needs a bit of an update, so I say: On Death’s Ground, attack and kick their fucking asses into the sea! Follow me!”

Tearing towards the enemy, Felecia’s mercenaries had the element of surprise, combined with superior training and skill. Emerging from the billowing cloud of ash and falling upon the confused lead elements of the henchman’s stalled charge, Felecia’s force began, with practiced ease, to kill with single shots of aimed fire.

Leaving ten dead or dying men behind, the henchmen retreated in panic, driven by the mercenaries’ onslaught, racing for the presumed safety of the terminal building. Yuri saw the rout in progress and knew that if Felecia’s force stormed into the terminal, the panicked henchmen would be easy pickings. He had to stop Felecia’s force before it reached the terminal. Yuri leaped forward, snatching up the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) that had been taken from Flight Three. Taking cover behind a planter, he flipped open the SAW’s bipod mount, flicked the selector to full auto, maximum rate of fire, and pulled the trigger, sending a hail of bullets tearing downrange at a rate of a thousand rounds per minute. Using the tracers – which were one bullet out of every four – to guide his fire, Yuri swept a fusillade of fire over the runway, just a few feet over the ash.

Diving for cover, as were the rest of her force, Felecia knew she couldn’t charge a machine gun, and was well aware that she was still outnumbered and outgunned. “Pull back,” she ordered, while targeting Yuri’s position with her AK and laying down covering fire.

Felecia’s hail of bullets forced Yuri to duck, but his job was done: he’d stopped the rout.

Felecia and her troops pulled back to their original positions, and then said, “That hurt ‘em, but they’ll be back. We can’t count on ‘em coming in dumb again.” She did a fast nose count, relieved that all of her men had survived, though she could see that a few were bleeding from minor flesh wounds. She’d been damn lucky, and she knew it.

The first battle for La Palma airport had been fought to a tactical draw. Looking towards the terminal, Felecia knew that all she’d done was buy her men a little time.

 

 

D minus 00:31:00

In the terminal, The Scar glanced at his watch while Survov deployed his men in defensive positions within the building. The Scar snapped out a string of orders, sending ten men out to guard the truck and van. They were on the far side of the terminal from Flight Three, but The Scar was taking no chances with the bombs.

It was apparent that the poorly trained henchmen were not up to the job of offensive operations, so The Scar walked out and crouched down by Yuri. “Thirty minutes remaining. Tell Flight Two to land, dead stick and short field, on the south end of the runway. The bitch would have to get through us to get at it. Put the vehicles into position and when Flight Two touches down, drive the van and truck into the cargo bay. We’re running out of time. We need to be ready to light the JATOs and take off when the volcano blows.”

Yuri gave the order to Flight Two, and then said, “One problem. Felecia’s troops could get close enough to fire at the engines. If she only has AKs, their 7.62-millimeter rounds are less likely to do serious damage to the engines, but we don’t know what else she has. A few heavier rifles were with her when she took off from Somalia, and they were not aboard the plane when our men searched it here.” Yuri had no way of knowing, but those rifles, along with the men carrying them, had been lost in Iran. Yuri then added, “She may also have RPGs. I would suspect those weapons would have been in evidence during her attack if she had them, but we have no way to be sure.”

Nodding, The Scar replied, “Indeed, but we too could fire at their engines. I think it is time to acknowledge that we have a standoff. We must all be pragmatic. They wish to leave and so do we. We do, after all, have what we came for. The traitorous bitch is at the north end of the runway and we will be at the southern end. We’ll deploy a line of men here, near the terminal; she’d need to attack and penetrate a defended position. I doubt that she will. Her goal will be the same as ours: leaving the island. She won’t risk an exchange of fire against the two aircraft; doing so would imperil her precious men.”

Felecia, looking south with her field glasses, saw the approaching Flight Two, its propellers windmilling to a halt, on a steep final approach from the south. “So, that’s the bastard’s game,” she said. “Mexican standoff. Their plane is vulnerable and so’s ours, plus they have weapons that outrange us. I don’t see how the hell they think they can take off without wetting down the ash... crap, I see JATOs mounted... looks like seven per side.” What Felecia was seeing was a result of The Scar’s improvisation; he’d ordered the pilot to attach three extra JATO units per side, fixing them in place with steel straps and epoxy over the previously mounted four per side. The result was fourteen JATO bottles, in lieu of the standard eight units used for an assisted takeoff. Felecia wasn’t sure, but a quick call to General Bradson revealed exactly what that meant. She relayed the news to her men. “With that rig, he can take off without engines and do an air-start once off the ground and clear of the ash. That answers that. Much as I’d love to punch Frankenstein’s ticket, letting him and his goons go might be the best answer; gets ‘em out of our hair and leaves us a way out when our other people get here.”

 

 

 

When Flight Two came to a halt, south of the terminal, Yuri had one of the henchmen drive the truck aboard while he followed in the van. Gritting his teeth, far from confident that the overloaded chassis would take the strain, Yuri circled around and lined up with the ramp, hitting the bottom of it at five miles per hour. As the van’s rear wheels reached the ramp, Yuri heard a deep, rising groan of protesting metal, coming from behind him. In desperation, he floored the accelerator.

The van’s chassis gave way as Yuri approached the top of the ramp. In a shower of sparks, metal ground upon metal as the van’s chassis buckled at its midpoint. Only the added forward motion allowed it to slide into Flight Two’s cargo bay. Relieved, Yuri clambered out and checked his watch. Then, he thumbed the aircraft’s intercom and told the pilot, “Prepare for takeoff, northbound.”

The pilot, who had heard the cacophonous noise of the van’s arrival, emerged from the cockpit, staring in horror at the two heavy vehicles in the cargo bay. He stuttered at The Scar, “S-sir, weight is critical for takeoff. With those vehicles aboard, we won’t clear the ground before the JATOs burn out and I have to start the engines. We’ll crash, sir. We have to remove the vehicles.”

Nodding, The Scar replied, “I’ll take care of it personally.”

The Scar walked aft, finding Survov shouting orders at the men. The Scar interrupted him by saying, “We have a weight issue and need to get the van and truck off the plane. We’ll need most of your men for this. Remove the warheads and lash them down by the side of the hold, then use the truck to shove the van out the back.”

Survov gave the orders and watched as his men swarmed the van. He did not need to order caution; thanks to hearing Helen’s news conference on the radio, his men knew what the bombs were. It took ten minutes, but one after the other, the bombs were wrestled out and secured. Using the truck to shove the broken van down the cargo ramp proved to be an easier task.

 

 

D minus 00:12:00

The Scar suddenly realized the implications of a northbound takeoff and countermanded Yuri’s order to the pilot. He then said to Yuri and Survov, “Have the men turn the plane. I do not wish to take off over the head of the traitorous bitch’s force or they might take potshots at us. With a southbound takeoff, the backblast from the JATOs will block her view with ash the instant they are lighted, giving us further cover.”

Yuri and the pilot exchanged a worried glance; the plane was within two thousand feet of the south end of the runway, which was marginal for a JATO takeoff, even one with engines running. The pilot thought it over for a few seconds, and after an appraising glance down the runway, which confirmed there were no obstructions, decided that the enhanced JATOs would probably be enough, if he had a few hundred extra feet. Taking a deep breath, for he feared his employer’s temper, the pilot asked that the plane be moved northward five hundred feet.

The Scar simply nodded and revised Survov’s orders.

Survov used the truck to shove the van to the side of the runway, and then used the truck, aided by a few towropes taken from the van, to assist his men in pulling the aircraft northwards as instructed, and then turning it.

The Scar turned to Yuri and asked, “I’d like to give that traitorous bitch a going-away present. It would have to be done the moment before we ignite the JATOs, otherwise we risk return fire. We can’t fire a mortar or RPG from inside the cargo bay, and she’s out of range of the latter. Have we nothing that can wreck their aircraft, or at least the engines, from this range?”

Yuri paused thoughtfully, staring out across the ash at Flight Three, which was nearly a mile to the north. To The Scar’s intense displeasure, he replied, “Sorry, I can think of nothing that we could do in that timeframe. We could leave some men behind, but I doubt they would do our bidding.”

Without a word, The Scar stalked down the ramp, intending to see if Survov had any ideas.

Yuri made a fast survey of the cargo bay, making certain that the bombs, the spare JATO packs, and armaments boxes were secure, and then he ordered the pilot to run through the pre-flight checklist again.

Looking down the cargo ramp, Yuri saw The Scar and Survov making their way up. Yuri could tell by the scowl on his employer’s ruined face that Survov had not come up with a plan for attacking Felecia’s plane.

Yuri smiled as he told The Scar what had occurred to him. “Sir, I do not think we need to worry about Felecia. The backblast from our JATO rockets will kick up an enormous amount of ash, making it impossible for her to take off for at least several minutes. By that time, she will be trapped here by ash falling from the eruption. This runway is right next to the sea, and though the tsunami will be beginning on the far side of the island, the radio said this side of the island will be hit as well. She and her men will not survive.”

The Scar, in a rare display of affection, clapped Yuri on the back and said, “You are quite right, Yuri! Thanks to your insight, we shall now enjoy our departure in full, sated in our knowledge that nothing here remains unavenged.”

Glancing at his watch, Yuri’s eyes flew open and he said, “Three minutes!” Only he and The Scar knew what he meant.

The Scar smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “We are in time, Yuri, by the skin of our teeth. The volcano will not affect us here, not immediately. Wait until it fills the sky to our west and the ash and debris cloud nears us. That will take several minutes. Tell the pilot to prepare for takeoff, but he is not to do so until I give the order.” The Scar was mindful that he’d need at least a few of his henchmen upon landing in Africa, and that leaving men outside after the eruption began would cause further disloyalty, perhaps including firing on the aircraft. Turning to face Survov, The Scar said, “Get your screening force aboard as soon as the volcano erupts, and raise the cargo bay door. The eruption will be occurring in about two minutes.” Noting Survov’s puzzled look, The Scar nodded towards Cumbre Vieja and said, “I have arranged for us the grandest show of all.”

Survov, who had not known how many bombs had been retrieved from Iran, suddenly realized that there must have been a third. Glancing towards Cumbre Vieja, which all of a sudden seemed menacingly close, he blanched.

“You have done well, Yuri,” The Scar said, leading the way into the cockpit and taking the seat next to the pilot, to whom he said, “Prepare for immediate takeoff, on my command.” Receiving the pilot’s acknowledging nod, indicating that all was ready, The Scar looked out the window to his right, which afforded him an excellent view of Cumbre Vieja. As Yuri buckled into the navigator’s seat, The Scar glanced at his watch and then gestured towards the volcano. “Let us now enjoy the glorious spectacle that I have wrought. Savor this moment, for there shall never be another like it.”

 

 

 

Inside the Pavilion, Helen paced. “What’s taking Horst so long,” she asked rhetorically, and cast a concerned eye in Jane’s direction, amazed that the volatile woman appeared at least somewhat calm.

General Bradson’s voice echoed down into the pavilion’s roof. “It’s a big green box truck, a livestock transport, with a smaller truck behind it, and it’s just passing through Las Indias, coming down the mountain. They’re here!” General Bradson scrambled down off the roof. Taking the AK-47 from Jon, he said, “When they pull in, I’ll fire a few rounds in the air. That’ll make ‘em deploy tactically, so any hostiles in the area won’t get the drop on ‘em. They’ll send a force here; Brian is with ‘em and he knows right where we are. They’ll cover us as we get on the trucks and get the hell out of here.”

Keith wasn’t aware of doing so, but his smile grew when the General mentioned Brian’s name.

Helen stood up and in a booming voice said, “They’ll be here in about ten minutes. Let’s get ready to blow this joint; gather up the food, water, and other supplies. This is it people, we’re on our way!” Helen gestured towards the mountain, where the trucks slowly advanced towards the resort that they would never reach.

A relieved and joyous cheer went up, echoing off the pavilion’s walls. It was expression of profound relief, a feeling that was destined to last but three seconds more.

 

 

In the tunnel, the nuclear warhead remained undisturbed. Yuri’s simple electronic timer functioned as planned. Reaching the designated time, the timer sent a small electrical charge to the terminal that normally connected it to its alarm. Instead, this tiny pulse closed a small relay, which in turn applied nine volts of power directly to the detonating cap within the small shaped demolition charge that Yuri had carefully positioned on the bombcase.

D minus 00:00:00

Detonation.

The white-hot jet of flame from the shaped charge lanced through the bombcase’s steel and into the pound of high explosives that served as the firing charge of the Iranian device. The results were nearly identical to what had occurred in Iran; the firing charge detonated, sending the driver and its half hemisphere of uranium surging towards its target, accelerating through four hundred miles an hour in the hard vacuum of the seven-foot long tube.

Functioning as it had been designed to do, the nuclear device generated a yield of twenty-one kilotons. The overwhelming majority of that power was still contained within the bombcase, though that would change in less than the blink of an eye.

The tunnel alcove itself, along with the adjoining areas of the tunnel and an unfortunate passing car, began to glow an unearthly blue as the gamma rays from the fissioning core lashed out, attacking the atomic bonds of everything in their path. The car flashed white and then dissolved under the irresistible onslaught of gamma and x-ray radiation.

Heat and pressure, rivaling that at the core of the sun, lashed out with a power beyond the ability of mere matter to contain.

Confined by the inertia of the surrounding rock, the immense force of the nuclear detonation – equivalent to a block of high explosive with the mass of a medium-sized ocean liner – lashed out. Within a fraction of a second, a massive cavity, over seven hundred feet across, was created within the northern flank of Cumbre Vieja.

The hot plasma from the core of the nuclear blaze surged through the tunnel, emerging from each end as a column of actinic light and radioactive gas. Though intense, it shone only briefly, before the expanding fireball within the mountain collapsed the tunnel forever.

 

 

The shock of the sudden displacement of the huge volume of rock radiated out in all directions, its intense power shattering the ground. This seismic pulse, very much akin to an earthquake, shot out in all directions, lashing at the very core of Cumbre Vieja. It was enough.

Nature responded to the fury of man with a far greater fury of her own. Titanic forces, now awakened, rent the volcanic mountain. The eruption was underway.

Responding to the seismic shock, the western flank of Cumbre Vieja began to move, slowly at first. Driven in part by the seismic pulse, the 1949 fissure gaped open, prying apart from north to south as if torn asunder by the finger of God, tearing the ground apart for the full length of Cumbre Vieja’s fissure system in under fifteen seconds, laying open the very core of the volcano.

The superheated water, under intense pressure and accompanied by the gaseous magma, surged upwards and outwards, racing for the first opening it could find, blasting into the rift, erupting as a seething curtain of ash and fire ten miles long.

 

 

At the resort, there was no warning.

In the pavilion, the happy news of the approaching livestock transport and its promise of safety was instantly forgotten as the ground began to heave, and a deep and growing roar from the ground suffused the air.

From his vantage point near the pool, Eric clutched Jansen’s hand and glanced uphill, past the roof of the pavilion, at the volcano, seeing the first blast-clouds climbing into the sky. “It’s erupting,” he said, as the earth continued to dance.

A second ground shock, different from the first, slammed into the resort, sending the few people standing tumbling or grabbing for support. The waters of the pool surged out, smashing over the south end of the pool as a wave three feet deep, and had anyone been in its way they would have been carried along with it as it smashed into the pavilion’s southern wall.

The intense shaking eased, only to be replaced by a lurch and a sickening lightness, which several instantly likened to the beginning of the decent of a high-speed elevator.

“Hang on,” Helen yelled, knowing that it was probably already too late.

As the building began to tear itself apart around them, the desperate party felt the continuing sense of downward motion.

“We’re dropping.” Eric said with fear in his voice, as he turned his head to look behind him at the sea and saw the climbing horizon. The resort, along with the entire western flank of Cumbre Vieja, was descending.

As the massive area of land slid downwards, the growing, deepening fissure along the volcano’s crest intruded upon the uppermost magma chamber. Reacting like champagne that had had its cork removed too quickly, the gasses within the magma drove it outwards, creating a massive volcanic blast, much as they had at Mount Saint Helens, decades before, as its landslide had begun. The Saint Helens blast had scoured the land down to bedrock five miles away. Cumbre Vieja’s fury was seven times greater still.

 

The vulcanologists’ instruments, embedded on Cumbre Vieja’s flanks, dispassionately reported that the massive block of land, as feared, was on the move, slipping into the sea. The data, transmitted out via a continuous satellite link, spoke clearly to a waiting world: there could be no remaining doubt, the lateral collapse was underway.

All around the Atlantic Basin, sirens began to wail, their plaintive, dreaded tone spreading the news: the tsunami was on its way. No force on Earth could stay it from its course.

 

Wracked by continual ground shocks and sinking towards the sea, the resort began to disintegrate: its pools sloshing over, their basins shattering, pavement heaving up, fissures opening, and buildings crumbling. Eric and Jansen, like everyone in the pavilion, were scrambling for what little purchase they could find. No one was in a position to look to their north. Had they done so, they would have beheld a terrifying sight: the blast front from Cumbre Vieja, a mix of rock and searing ash, traveling at supersonic speeds, racing ever closer, sweeping across the landscape like the hand of Death incarnate, obliterating everything in its path. Nor would it have mattered had they seen it; the resort, and the land around it for miles in every direction, had begun its inexorable journey to the bottom of the sea.





 

© 2009 C James

Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

 



 



Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.

A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice , and to Captain Rick and Talonrider for Beta reading and advice .
Any remaining errors are mine alone.


Copyright © 2009 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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Holy shit, did the resort just fall to the bottom of the sea????????????????????????

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