Read Viper: A Thriller Online

Authors: Ross Sidor

Viper: A Thriller

 

 

VIPER

 

A Thriller

 

 

 

 

Ross Sidor

 

 

 

The product of Colombia’s dirty war,
the Viper is South America’s deadliest terrorist.

 

Cut off by former sponsors, and armed
with one of the world’s most advanced weapon systems, the Viper embarks on a
personal mission of revenge, intent on reaping a path of destruction across the
United States that will kill thousands and cause untold economic devastation.

Working alongside DEA agents, NSA
cyber-trackers, and Colombian soldiers, CIA security contractor Avery, codenamed
Carnivore, is tasked with locating and terminating the Viper.

He will pursue his quarry from
terrorist camps hidden deep in the tropical rainforest, to Colombia’s most
brutal prison and through the slums of South America’s most dangerous, gang
infested city, to the drug smuggling routes beneath the US-Mexican border.

 

The
characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to
real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Viper:
A Thriller. Text copyright © 2015 Ross Sidor.

 

All
rights reserved.

 

No
parts of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise without express written permission by the publisher.

 

Published
by Ross Sidor

 

 

 

For my dad

11/29/52—3/3/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For over five hours Avery lay still,
prone in the mud and leaf litter. Damp grass and weeds clung to his face. His
boots were soaked through to his socks. The tropical heat penetrated his
fatigues. All around him, his ears were inundated with the sounds of the rainforest.
Water streamed off leaves. Birds squawked. Monkeys chattered. Insects buzzed.

He couldn’t help
but ask himself, not for the first time, why he’d taken this job. The truth was
that he simply wasn’t able to say no when Matt Culler called with a job. Culler
ran the independent contractors, sometimes called scorpions, who CIA’s Global
Response Staff kept on retainer. Avery needed to make a living like anyone
else, and this was quite simply the only thing for which he was any good. More
important, if he declined, he didn’t want it going into his 201 file that he
was unreliable, or stepped away from a challenge, and be subsequently passed
over when the next job came along.

The previous
day, a Blackhawk helicopter had taken off from the joint American-Colombian
Palanquero military base, near Puerto Salgar, north of Bogotá, and deposited
Avery near the Venezuelan border, where he made the six hour hike to the target
in west-central Venezuela. The FARC camp was located just thirty miles south of
San Cristóbal, capital of the Venezuelan state Táchira, and ten miles southwest
of the Rio Apure River, near the foothills of the Andes Mountains. 

Upon arrival,
Avery carefully established his makeshift hide, and had remained there for the
past eighteen hours. He lived off MREs, Meals Ready to Eat. He pissed into a
bottle and shit into a plastic bag, both of which were then buried in the ground.
His muscles already grew sore and stiff from the lack of circulation that came
from remaining sedentary for so long.

From here, dug
two feet into the ground in a coffin shaped space, Avery had a perfect view of
the sprawling camp below, fifty yards downhill, and the narrow, muddy trail
that led from the jungle to the campground. Cradled in front of him, his M4A1
rifle was equipped with a suppressor and infrared scope.

The temperature that
afternoon peaked at 88°F, with eighty-one percent humidity. Avery almost
immediately sweated any water he put into his body. But he hadn’t been sweating
for the last four hours, and hadn’t pissed in even longer, so he figured he was
pretty well dehydrated by this point, and he already felt a headache beginning.
The bottled water he carried needed to be carefully rationed, since it wasn’t
like he could drink from a stream, and he wasn’t due to chug the next half
bottle of water for another three hours. His body craved that water, but it was
important to stick to the timeframe, in case anything came up that might leave
him here longer than he’d anticipated.

 Well, at least
that cup of water was something to look forward to.

Green and brown
camouflage non-glare grease paint covered his face and every inch of exposed
flesh. He was filthy and grimy. He hadn’t showered or cleaned for two days
before flying out, because the unnatural scents of soap, shampoo, deodorant,
and bug repellants carried in the air and would potentially betray his
presence, either to the enemy or to the local wildlife.

Animals
cautiously kept their distance from unfamiliar sounds and scents, and their
silence and absence would in turn alert an experienced jungle fighter to the
presence of an intruder. The only way to go unnoticed was to become a part of the
surrounding environment and meld into the animals’ natural habitat.

Yesterday’s heavy
downpour had given way to a light rain. After a day, Avery was soaked, even
through the jungle camouflage netting blanketed over his hide, and the water
pooled beneath him. Large beetles and fire ants crawled over him, some biting at
the exposed flesh of his hands and wrists with tiny, razor sharp mandibles. Worms
emerged from the saturated soil to become lost in the inch-deep puddle of water,
and some found their way squiggling down his shirt and into his pockets and
against his chin and lips. Tiny gnats flew into his ear canals and nostrils.

To make matters
worse, there was a three hour old pile of rain soaked shit from a capybara,
essentially a 145lb guinea pig, just six feet away from his face, and every
breath he took carried the fetid, fecal smell to his nose, along with the
jungle’s usual tepid, musty scent of plants and moss.

But worst of
all, the occasional snake slithered past. The last one, long and black, came
within just two feet of his face, with its little fork tongue flickering out of
its mouth. It took everything Avery had to remain calm and completely
motionless. He detested snakes, and South America was teeming with the legless
reptiles. Here they came in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and
temperaments. They dangled from branches, unseen until you were only feet away.
They hid beneath the leaf litter, where they were easy to step on, which they
didn’t react well to.

On the way in
from Colombia, Avery had stopped in his tracks at the sight of a fifteen foot
long green anaconda devouring an equally ferocious looking alligator on a
riverbed. He’d spent time in many Third and Fourth World hellholes and had seen
his share of oddities, but he couldn’t shake the twisted spectacle from his
mind.

Everything in
this environment, from the plants and terrain to the insects and animals, was
biologically designed to poison, maim, kill, or eat a man, or even do all four.
Even the frogs were poisonous, and the monkeys were cantankerous little thieves
who had already tried to steal from his backpack when he’d stopped to rest
during his hike.

To keep his mind
off the discomfort, Avery focused on the task at hand.

The camp
occupied about a half square mile clearing in the rainforest. Only the first
layer of canopy growth had been cut down, leaving the top canopy layer in place
for concealment against satellite and aerial surveillance. A fence composed of
spiraling strands of razor wire spaced about a foot apart and attached to seven
foot high wooden posts ran along the perimeter of the camp, with a guard shack
at the front gates and a twelve foot high watch tower in the rear of the camp.
Behind the security fence, there were several small, ramshackle wooden huts
with tin roofs, two larger barracks style structures, a communications shack
with a satellite dish mounted atop the roof, and an outside mess area comprised
of rows of long picnic tables with bench seating beneath a wooden-framed, tarp-covered
terrace. There were also three large, rectangular tents and an outdoor firing
range. Wooden planks on the muddy ground formed a sidewalk throughout the camp.
There were no vehicles. The camp was only accessible by foot. Camouflage
netting and tarps were spread out over the huts and tents, to further help conceal
the camp from the air.

The guerillas
numbered about two dozen, Avery estimated from what he’d so far observed. They
belonged to the 10
th
Front of FARC’s Eastern Bloc.

The fifty year
old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC (
Fuerzas Armadas
Revolucionarias de Colombia
),
was far better organized and disciplined than the
typical al-Qaeda or Iraqi amateurs playing insurgents. These guys almost looked
like a legitimate army by the manner in which they moved and carried
themselves. They were lean, muscled, physically fit, and confident. Their
uniforms even included ranks, badges, and unit patches, and they carried their
M16 assault rifles like they knew how to use them.

Avery tried to
keep track of the faces, but so far there’d been no sighting of his target.

 Emilio Reyes
was a senior ranking member of the FARC Secretariat with close ties to the North
Coast drug cartel. He was born in the Colombian port city of Buenaventura
forty-eight years ago to an uneducated docks worker and a maid. Before he was
eighteen years old, he was already a member of the Colombian Communist Party
and full of socialist idealism. He joined FARC in his early twenties and
quickly rose to the political leadership in the Secretariat.

Although he looked
like a meek, bookish doctor or lawyer, Reyes had personally ordered the deaths
of over a hundred people. The Colombian government sentenced him in absentia
for the killings of seven police officers, four judges, two congressmen, two
presidential aides, and one minister of culture.

The Americans
wanted Reyes just as badly as the Colombians, and the FBI and the DEA have been
working to that end for the past year. The State Department offered a $5
million reward for information leading to his arrest, and INTERPOL placed him
on its red list of international criminals.

Three months ago
came a major breakthrough in the manhunt. A high level penetration agent,
codenamed
Canastilla
, run by Colombia’s National Intelligence Agency,
produced a telephone number he claimed belonged to one of Emilio Reyes’
satellite phones.

One of the
National Security Agency’s Magnum communications/signals intelligence
satellites took over from there, and monitored all calls received and made by
this phone. The first intercepted call provided a confirmed voice match of
Reyes. By monitoring his phone, the American and Colombian agencies were then
able to track Reyes’ movements.

But Reyes never
stayed in one location very long. He constantly travelled between Colombia,
Ecuador, and Venezuela and never stuck to a consistent routine or pattern. If
the Colombians launched a strike to capture or kill him, they risked arriving
on target too late, after Reyes had already left, and alerting the FARC leader
to the fact that the government had a highly placed agent in his organization
and that his personal communications were compromised. He’d go to ground and
disappear.

Three days ago,
Reyes placed a call to the Venezuelan president in which he announced his
impending return to the Venezuelan camp to meet with an officer of SEBIN,
Venezuela’s
Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional
, or Bolivarian
National Intelligence Service.

This was the
first time the Colombian government possessed advance knowledge of Reyes’ travel
itinerary. President Santos authorized Operation Phoenix, a cross border military
action by the Colombian Special Forces Brigade.

Commonly
referred to lanceros, or lancers, in reference to the Colombian army’s
intensive School of Lanceros jungle insurgency training facility at Tolemaida,
the Special Forces Brigade is the elite of a military already recognized and
respected as one of the most professional and physically demanding in the
world. These troops are trained specially in counterinsurgency. They’d deployed
to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban, to return the favor to their American and
British allies who had helped them against FARC and the cartels over the
decades.

Now the
Americans and Colombians in the ops room at Palanquero anxiously awaited the
satellite burst transmission from their man on the ground that would announce
the arrival of Emilio Reyes at the camp.

Before his
deployment, Avery met with Captain Felix Aguilar and his squad leaders, so that
they’d recognize him and not accidently shoot him during the assault. Avery
trusted the competence and professionalism of the Colombians, but he also knew
that once the shooting started, shit happened. Fortunately one of the squad
leaders, a senior NCO named Jon Castillo, remembered Avery from when he trained
alongside 75
th
Rangers back in the day.

It was 14:23
Wednesday.

The intelligence
indicated that Emilio Reyes was due to arrive this afternoon, and so far it
looked like his visit wasn’t going to be cancelled. There’d been increased activity
at the camp and patrols in the surrounding jungle since first light.

Avery hoped
Reyes wasn’t delayed or called the thing off. It didn’t matter to Avery whether
the Colombians waxed their target or not, but he didn’t want to stay here any
longer than necessary. He’d also much rather be picked up by helicopter and fly
out with Aguilar’s troops than hike all the way back across the border.

 If Reyes didn’t
show, then Avery was to wait until midnight and turn on the SATCOM to receive
the word from the Palanquero ops room that would either tell him to stay in
place or exfil. This was based on the assumption that the only way Operation
Phoenix would not take place was if either Avery never reported the arrival of
Reyes or if the signals intelligence people heard Reyes announce a change of
plans.

Very close by, leaves
rustled. A twig snapped.

Avery tensed.
He’d grown familiar with the natural sounds of the jungle and knew man-made
sounds when he heard them.

His instincts
were proven correct when he heard Spanish speaking voices grow slowly louder.
One of the patrols was coming back, approaching from somewhere behind Avery’s
hide site.

Avery drew a
sharp intake of breath and held it. Every muscle in his body tensed and froze.
His rifle, machete, and Cold Steel combat knife were all within quick reach,
but wouldn’t do him any good. If someone stumbled upon his hide now, was right
on top of him, it was unrealistic to think he’d get into a firing position and
take his targets down before they got him. And to move now and be ready for
such an eventuality was too much movement and would definitely compromise him.
Besides, if he did fire, he’d be dead anyway. Even though his M4 was suppressed,
the weapon was far from soundless. The muffled shot still travelled, but at a
reduced radius, and the troops in the camp might still hear the shots.

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