(Answer My Prayer)
Air Force One was in the air in less than thirty minutes and President Trask was already halfway through the service record of Joe Kingdom, “Ten years in the Navy Seals, two Navy Crosses, three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts. After he left the Seals he worked for the CIA in black ops for five years then he just quit, why?”
“They sent him on a mission where a hundred civilians were needlessly killed. When he got back and found out that politicians countermanded the strategic plan after he had been inserted behind enemy lines, he just walked away,” Captain Caldecott responded, “We still use him on rare occasions, but only if we’re prepared to let him do his way.”
Joe was sitting on the couch in his house with his two dogs when the intercom rang, “Yes.”
The close surveillance camera showed two clean cut men in dark suits standing at the gate, “Secret Service, we’re looking for Joe Kingdom.”
“You found him,” Joe answered.
“You need to come with us.”
Joe was a seasoned operative and for the time being, he saw no reason to ask his escorts any questions so he sat quietly in the backseat of the SUV with one agent while the other one drove down Ammunition Road through the Naval Weapons Station to the Camp Pendleton airfield. Joe saw Air Force One sitting on the tarmac as they crossed over Basilone Road.
When they got to a helicopter hangar; it was heavily guarded by Marine Corps personnel. Captain Caldecott was waiting when Joe exited the vehicle, “Joe.”
“Charlie,” Joe responded casually, “the landing strip is a little short for landing a 747.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,”
Joe entered the hangar and directly walked over to a large table almost as if he was drawn by a magnet. The table had dozens of photographs and blueprints on it and Joe immediately studied them.
“I think I got everything you need,” Captain Caldecott commented.
“I’ll let you know if you missed anything,” Joe responded without taking his eyes off the table.
President Trask entered and walked over to Joe, “Thank you for coming, Mr. Kingdom.”
“You are welcome, Mr. President.”
“Have you been briefed?” President Trask asked.
My initial assessment of the situation is that you’ve got a hostage situation on the Neptune Angel and since your daughter is one of the passengers, you wanted to be more hands on. You don’t know who is involved in the hijacking at this time and they’ve demanded money and something political.”
Captain Caldecott interjected, “one hundred million and release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.”
President Trask was amazed, “And you determined all this in what?…less than two minutes.”
“The pattern is not that unique, Mr. President,” Joe responded.
“Can you do anything?”
“I can,” Joe answer was calm and confident and thirty minutes later, he had his plan, “I’ll go in by dolphin, board the ship and take out the perpetrators on deck first then take the bridge second and move down the ballroom where I’ll free the hostages. I’ll need to do this in ten minutes or less…beyond that it will arouse too much suspicion, especially when they start losing radio communications.”
Why will they lose radio communication?” President Trask asked.
“They won’t actually lose radio communication, but they’ll be dead and can’t answer, Sir,” Captain Caldecott explained
“Oh sorry, that makes sense.”
“How fast can you move on this?” Captain Caldecott asked.
“Is right now fast enough,” Joe responded.
Captain Caldecott turned to President Trask, “It’s your call, Mr. President.”
President Trask hesitated for several seconds then said, “Do it.”
Joe walked away and pulled out his cellphone and made a call, “I might be gone for a little while. Do you think you can take care of my dogs?”
A fourteen year old girl named Mia responded, “Sure thing Joe, I’ll get my things and go right over to your house”
“Thanks, I get in touch when I know more.”
As Joe was walking back, President Trask whispered to Captain Caldecott, “Is he really that good?”
“If it was my daughter, this is the man I would trust to get her out.”
Air Force One took off from Camp Pendleton and was only in the air a few minutes when Joe approached the part of the plane where President Trask was sitting and was stopped by Secret Service agents. The President waved him through and Joe sat down across from the Commander-in Chief, “I’m a serious political liability, Mr. President.”
“I am aware of that fact.”
“You won’t be able to keep this quiet for long,” Joe said, “Your enemies will destroy your political career for using somebody like me.”
“I’ll choose the life of my daughter and the lives of the other passengers over my career any day,” President Trask replied, “I read your service record book and Captain Caldecott speaks highly about you, but there’s more to it, isn’t there?
“I’ve got a high tech radar for evil. I can sense it when it is near, but there is a part that many people find very distasteful and especially troubling,” Joe said.
“And that is?”
“I can kill efficiently and without hesitation or remorse,” Joe answered.
President Trask swallowed hard, “Another time, that would bother me, but in this case, I find that strangely reassuring.”
Joe got up and gave President Trask another statement that could be taken as reassurance, “The only way I’ll fail is if I’m dead… and I won’t die easily.”
When Air Force One landed at North Island, Captain Austin Collins of Navy Marine Mammal Program was there to meet President Trask on the tarmac, “We’re ready to go, Mr. President,” then saw Joe walking down the stairway, “I guess I don’t need to ask who is the operative on this mission”
“Hey Austin,” Joe responded, “I bet you didn’t expect to see me so soon.”
Twenty minutes later, they were looking at a map of the San Diego coastline, “Drop me off here with the dolphins,” Joe pointed to a place on the chart that was a mile east from the cruise ship,” then circle around until you are one mile west side of the ship. Send a signal to the dolphins and when they pass by the Neptune Angel I’ll drop off and make my way aboard.”
“What are you going to use for weapons?” Captain Collins asked.
“Just a twelve inch ice pick, if I need anything else, I’ll appropriate it from the terrorists. I will need a pair of suction cup gloves for scaling the hull of the ship and a Quantum Stealth cloak.”
A stealth cloak is augmented reality technology that creates an optical illusion where light bends and bounces around it to camouflage it from view, simulating a flat mirror.
The Neptune Angel had changed course and was now headed in a southeast direction at five knots. This information was relayed to Joe as he prepared to leave North Island with the dolphins.
“They don’t want to be caught in open waters so they’re headed to Mexico where they’ll scuttle the vessel off shore and make their escape during the confusion,” Joe deduced, “We need to move quick because they’re not going to wait .”
The special Navy ship left port with five bottlenose dolphins while monitoring the movements of the Neptune Angel on radar. Joe was patiently sitting below deck when Captain Caldecott sat down next to him, “Want some company?”
“I wanted to wish you good luck.”
“Thanks,” Joe answered.
Both men sat next to each other without speaking a word. Theirs was a mutual respect that transcended verbal communication.
Back on the Neptune Angel, Abubakar Asiru looked at his watch and saw that it had only been twelve hours when he turned to one of his men,” Contact the President.”
“I thought you were going to give them twenty four hours?”
“My father advised me to alter my demands during negotiations to keep the infidels off guard,” Abubakar Asiru smiled.
Five minutes later, Asiru was in communications with President Trask, “I will give you three hours to deliver one hundred million dollars to the deck of the ship.”
President Trask responded, “You said twenty four hours, this is only fifteen.”
“This is a sign of good faith; I’m still going to give you the original amount of time to release the prisoners.”
“You’ll have it,” President Trask replied without argument since he was prepared for the change.
The dolphins were placed in the water and the one named Tuffy was fitted with a special harness that allowed Joe to hold on with both hands. Joe jumped in the water, slipped his googles over his eyes and gave the thumbs up signal after he got a good grip on the harness. The command for the dolphins was given and the mammals quickly reached the speed of fifteen miles per hour. In the distance, Joe saw the Neptune Angel.
The terrorists inside the bridge of the ship detected the dolphins moving in their direction on the sonar screen and discounted it as a normal occurrence. When Joe got within twenty five yards of the ship, he let go of the harness and began swimming at an angle to intercept the vessel. He was a powerful swimmer, but Joe knew that if he miscalculated his interception point and the ship passed him by, he would never catch up to it and the mission would fail. Joe swam as fast as he could then treaded water as the ocean liner came straight at him then reached out with his right hand and the suction cup adhered itself to the hull of the vessel. It dragged him through the water for twenty yards before Joe pulled himself up then reached out with his left hand. Once he had both hands on the hull, he easily climbed up to the deck. He waited until the helicopter got above the ship and hovered. When it lowered the money, Joe quickly came over the railing and hid under a lifeboat. He took off his wet suit and googles and radioed in, “I’m on board.”
“Roger that,” Captain Caldecott responded and smiled at President Trask who was nervously sitting across the table.
Joe was already wearing the stealth jumpsuit so he had to do was remove his wetsuit and pull over the hood and face mask. The twelve inch ice pick was taped to his side and he removed that and held it in his hand. He felt the ship pick up speed and radioed in again, “The ship has picked up speed, confirm.”
Captain Caldecott responded, “Confirmed, still headed toward Mexico.”
Joe moved quickly, with not a wasted step and the first two terrorists barely caught a glimpse of a shadow before one was killed when the ice pick went through his heart and other the one was the recipient of powerful thrust of the simple weapon through the base of his skull. Joe carefully placed the dead men next to each other, to give the impression that they were sitting. One by one, the terrorists perished quickly. Joe had a thorough knowledge of the human anatomy and its kill points so each attack was deliberate and deadly with not even a fraction of an inch off target.
When he got to the bridge of the ship, four terrorists were conversing in Arabic and Joe looked at the control panel which indicated course and speed. He stood completely motionless and blended into the background and visualized how the next thirty seconds would go down and then proceeded to carry out his plan. Like a whirlwind, he killed three men with the ice pick and when the fourth man sensed something was wrong, Joe snapped his neck. Everything went down exactly as he thought it would. He changed the course of the ship, ever so slightly as to not to arouse suspicion, “Bridge secured,” Mike radioed in then raced below deck.
“Bridge,” Abubakar Asiru radioed, but there was no answer, “Port,” still no answer, “Starboard,” no answer, “Stern… bow” still no answer.
Abubakar Asiru looked around the ballroom and an uneasy feeling came over him and it only got worse when he saw one of his men sitting in a chair with his head hanging down and the other four men were nowhere to be found. He felt an adversarial presence in the room, “Come out or I’ll start killing the hostages, starting with the President’s daughter… I’m counting down…three…two”
Katie Trask did not cower or whimper, she stood her ground and looked defiantly at her captor. Asiru took aim, “One…, but before he could get to zero, the AK-47 was snatched out of his hands.
Joe took off his hood and face mask, but kept the invisibility cloak on his body, giving the impression that his head was floating in midair. When Asiru looked at Joe, he smiled, “I heard about this American who could get in anywhere and could kill anybody and nothing can stop him. I thought it was internet propaganda, like your comic book movies where the good guys always win… are you like Ironman…or Captain America?”
Joe recognized Asiru as the number one terrorist in the world, responsible for the death and the maiming of hundreds of men, women and children in the Middle East and throughout Europe. He also had many followers who were radicalized online and created lone wolf attacks, but this is the first time that he was personally involved in a terrorist attack in America. Joe thought to himself that at least this man had the nerve to start at the top and go after the First Family. He took off the stealth cloak then turned to the hostages, “You’re free, go topside,” when the group of people hesitated, “NOW!!”
Dozens of people frantically rushed out of the ballroom, leaving only Joe and Asiru behind, “Now it is only you and me,” Joe said calmly.
“A fair fight?” Asiru commented.
“That must be a strange concept to a man who has made a career out of killing innocent people.”
“All infidels are guilty, either by their actions or by their very existence,” Asiru responded, “We are not so different, you and I, we both do what has to be done to accomplish our mission.”
“I can agree with you on one thing… we are both committed to the other person’s death.”
Asiru was a ruthless and merciless terrorist, but he was also a highly skilled fighter who rose to his role of leadership by challenging the most dangerous men above him and allowing those beneath him to challenge his authority with fights to the death. He trained incessantly in all forms of combat so when Joe offered him a fight, Asiru relished the opportunity to kill this American.
Asiru tried to catch Joe off guard by executing a flying side kick that Joe instinctively ducked under. Asiru threw ten punches in rapid succession that Joe either blocked or backed out of the range. While Asiru took a moment to catch his breath, Joe performed, to perfection, the flying neck scissor choke and brought the terrorist to the floor then drove his elbow deep into his solar plexus.
Asiru screamed out in pain as he struggled to his feet and tried to shake it off. Joe stepped forward and hit the terrorist ten times in the face with powerful punches then smashed left and right fists into Asiru’s ribcage. At this particular point, Asiru accepted the stark reality that killing this American was not going to be as easy to kill as he first thought. Joe hit Asiru with a sidekick that sent him flying over a table and when he got up, Joe repeated the maneuver and sent him over two tables this time. If this was a mixed martial art contest, the referee would have rushed in to stop the brutal beat down, but this wasn’t sport, it was war! Joe picked up Asiru and looked him directly in his bloody and swollen face then threw him over the railing and watched him fall two decks down and impale himself on a rock monument that was installed specifically for this voyage as a tribute to the veterans on the cruise, “Mission accomplished,” Joe radioed in.
By the time Joe made it topside, naval vessels and Coast Guard ships were approaching so he sat down on a deck chair and relaxed. When Captain Caldecott arrived, he saw Joe and casually walked over. Two dead terrorists were lying on the deck chairs to the right of Joe, their eyes were open and they did not have a visible mark on them, in fact they both had peaceful looks on their faces. Captain Caldecott looked at the dead men, “Don’t get up, it’s only me,” then sat down in the chair to the left, “Hey Joe?”
Joe responded, “Hey Charlie.”
“The President is waiting to thank you.”
“He can thank me by doing a good job running the country,” Joe got up from his chair, “You think you can get me a flight home?”
I can do that,” Captain Caldecott responded.
Later, a helicopter landed on the deck and Joe boarded and it took off. Several minutes later, President Trask landed on the Neptune Angel and rushed over to embrace his daughter and son –in- law. Afterward, he turned to Captain Caldecott, “Where’s Kingdom? I want to shake that man’s hand and congratulate him on a job well done.”
“He left already, sir”
Captain Caldecott looked off into the distance and recited under his breath, “Our father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom Come.”