Warriors (9781101621189) by Young Tom

Warriors (9781101621189) by Young Tom

Author:Young, Tom
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin USA
Published: 2013-06-11T16:00:00+00:00


18

AT DAYBREAK, the Rivet Joint lifted off the runway at Sarajevo and climbed into Bosnian skies. Sunrise lit the horizon as if the gods had ignited a signal flare. In the cockpit jump seat, Parson squinted, unzipped the left breast pocket of his flight suit, and reached for his aviator’s glasses. On the ground below, the misting waters of the Miljacka meandered in cursive lines.

“Motown Six-Four, Sarajevo Tower,” a voice called on VHF. Slavic accent but confident English. “Left turn heading zero-eight-zero, contact departure. Safe flight.”

To Parson, it still felt strange to take off from Sarajevo under reasonably peaceful circumstances, equipped only with a headset, his flight suit sleeves casually rolled up. A couple decades ago he wore a flak jacket and survival vest with a Beretta on his side, the hums and squeaks of the radar warning receiver sounding in his flight helmet. And as a last resort, parachutes hanging in the cargo compartment, straps pre-fitted for each crew member.

He’d flown with such gear pretty recently in Afghanistan. Would he ever lift off from Afghanistan in a time of peace? And here in the Balkans, how fragile was this peace?

When the Rivet Joint leveled off at altitude, Parson unbuckled and headed aft. In the back, Gold sat next to Irena. Both wore headsets. On the console before her, Irena placed an open checklist and a notepad. Thus far she’d written nothing on the notepad; her pen rested on a clean sheet of paper. Parson took a crew seat at an unused station beside Irena and plugged his headset into an interphone cord.

“Can I get you anything?” Parson asked. Not a question lieutenant colonels often asked junior enlisted personnel, but as an observer, Parson had little to do. Irena, by contrast, had important tasks right now.

“No, thanks,” Irena said. “Just waiting to see if anybody wants to talk to me.”

“Anything yet?”

“No, sir. Not a peep, or at least not one that we care about.”

Parson didn’t understand all of this crew’s procedures, but he did know that, in a way, they were not just listening but hunting. If the Rivet Joint crew wanted you badly enough, they could find you, listen to you, and get information about you to other people on the ground. The machine’s information processing capability, Parson mused to himself, represented the ultimate revenge of the nerds.

He sat silently as he watched Irena do her job. She chatted with crewmates, usually about technical matters he could not follow. Occasionally she tapped a button on her console. Parson heard several conversations in Serbo-Croatian, none of which seemed to interest Irena. At least an hour passed with nothing happening, and Parson almost dozed off, slouched in the crew seat with his harness adjusted loosely.

Irena’s body language brought him wide awake. She sat bolt upright, glanced at her watch, and wrote the Zulu time on her notepad. The young linguist froze, listening hard, her pen poised in the air. Her manner put Parson in mind of a bird dog trotting easily



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