Thursday, August 15, 2013

Smiling In the Sunshine: Homeland Security

Homeland Security
Ponce Is Here!

     The twenty-five foot Defender-class Fast Boat, one of the old original Homeland Security models, was making its way across a calm sea at twenty knots. The fifty caliber on the forward deck was mounted and armed. A seaman was lounging against the gun mount, eyes on the near horizon. Inside the cabin, there was a clear image on the Sat-screen of their destination: a seventy-foot trimaran anchored in 100 feet of water. This was unusual, a private yacht of this type anchoring so far out, out here in the waters typically roamed by commercial fishing vessels; such an anomaly bore investigation. Drugs, perhaps, or perhaps the boat was disabled. Whatever the case, it was the job of the Coast Guard to look into such matters.

     Meanwhile, below deck on the trimaran in question, Juan Ponce sat fondling the big laser and thinking dark thoughts; dark and amusing (to a Conquistador) thoughts that were tinged with regret at not being able to do battle, this time. Not yet, anyway. He punched the code into the keypad on the stock of the alloy weapon and it transformed, clicking and folding and telescoping in on itself until it resembled something else, something not familiar, but nothing that resembled a firearm. Reaching overhead, he placed it into its niche in the cabin roof and the panel slid shut. He glanced around the cabin, then shut down the reactor. Only a thorough search by NASA technicians in a dry dock would be able to find any of the many things hidden on this odd vessel. The titanium alloy panels could not be opened with any manner of crowbar or ax. This boat was a spaceship, of sorts, not something routine, by any means.

     He could hear the motors now, on the Coast Guard boat. He pulled on a loose cotton shirt and went on deck to await the inevitable boarding. They would be young, the approaching crew, and they would banter with him in that jocular but serious way of cops everywhere, presenting a friendly face but cautious and ready inside. No matter. His papers were in order and there was no contraband on board the El Condor Pasa; at least nothing they would find and even if they did, they would have no idea what they were seeing. He took his satellite phone out and typed in a number. A phone rang in the pocket of a lean, shaggy haired man sitting in the boughs of a giant oak tree only a couple dozen or so miles away.

     “The boarding crew is here,” said Ponce.
      “Don't kill anyone,” said Old Phil Stine. Ponce laughed, his dark, humorless laugh that sometimes was the last thing his victim ever heard, in this world. He switched off, replacing the phone in it's holster just inside the companionway. Meanwhile, Phil Stine dialed a number and a phone rang at the local Coast Guard Station. There would be other calls, confirmations and a certain amount of frustration on the part of the Station Commander, currently having brunch as a special guest at the Ruby Beach Yacht Club.

     “How the hell am I supposed to do my job if Washington insists on tying my hands like this?” He asked no one in particular. The big group of civic leaders and rich men at the table nodded and grunted in a knowing way. The waiter came through the door to the kitchen with an overflowing tray of shrimp and lobster. Behind him was a cute waitress with a tray full of the third round of drinks.

     “What's your name, sweetheart? You must be new here.” The Commander was a regular at the Yacht Club.

      “I am new, sir. My friends call me Summer.”