Protocol Six

Protocol Six: Chapter Twenty-Four

Overhead, the old SuperCobra banked hard left, evading fire from the Apache’s minigun, and the Army pilot’s annoyance carried over the radio.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Four-Charlie; he’s a slick sumbitch.”

“Ahh-ffirmative, Aerial,” answered the Staff Sergeant, as he steered squealing out into traffic, weaving through cars on both sides of the avenue. David, still on the floor of the vehicle, felt Agent Diaz rolling off him in the tight turn and instinctively wrapped an arm around her waist. Suddenly realizing, he started to let go, but Rebecca caught his hand.

“No, hold on to me,” she said.

But the driver’s skills notwithstanding, their pace was slowing too much, and the car took several hits along the passenger side, the thumping of the projectiles this time accompanied by a burst of air.

“Aerial, they’ve got my tires. I don’t know if we’ll make the river.”

“Acknowledged; let’s get you out of traffic before he starts shredding the civilians. I can’t get a lock yet.”

The driver screeched into a narrow residential street, ahead of the horns of oncoming traffic.

“Why the hell isn’t he firing?” groused LeMoyne.

“Dogfighting isn’t an Apache’s thing, sir,” answered the Marine. “They’re mostly for air-to-ground attack. He probably has a couple of Sidewinders, but his minigun and two-seven-fives won’t be much use. In fact he’d probably take out a few bystanders if he tried those.”

“So what’s the plan?” shouted Diaz from the floor.

“These tires can run another forty, fifty miles flat, but not at speed, ma’am. We’ve got to keep moving and give him time to get a lock-on.”

“And pray our Number-One Fan up there isn’t packing missiles of his own?” asked David.

The driver grimaced. He’d hoped his passengers wouldn’t catch on to that possibility.

Upstairs, the Army pilot was trying not to let frustration get the better of him. His Apache was a nightmare to handle if the pilot wasn’t a master of multitasking. Add to that a target as mobile as the SuperCobra, and it was all he could do keep his adversary too harassed to fire at the limo. At one point he was reduced to making direct runs at the target, thirty-millimeter chain gun blazing, whenever the assassin seemed to be lining up an angle for the door gunner.

His own gunner was cool and focused. At each charge, his firing was brief and carefully aimed. The pilot was sure they’d struck with a few rounds by now, just evidently not to any personnel or critical systems yet.

But the other pilot was talented, neither flinching nor overcompensating, maintaining course only, ever, just long enough to grant the door gunner another strafe and then… wait…

“Satch, did you catch that?”

“I got it, sir.”

The psychic link between pilot and gunner was working as always. Their prey went vertical — damn near perpendicular heading from ground — after the shot. He was certain now that the other pilot had done that after each shot, and clearly the gunner had caught it too.

Perfect.

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