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.“Do any of you speak English?” Eddie asked as he cuffed the three Africans.“I do,” one said, the tag on his blue jumpsuit showing his name was Kofi Baako.“Okay, Kofi, like I said we’re not going to hurt you, but I want you to tell me how to open the emergency floodgates.”“You will drain the reservoir!”Eddie pointed at a multiline telephone; four of its five lights were blinking.“You’ve already contacted your superiors and I’m sure they’re sending additional people.The gates won’t be open for more than an hour.Now show me how to open them.”Kofi Baako hesitated for another second, so Eddie yanked his pistol from its holster, making sure it was never pointed at the three men.His voice went from reasonable to savage.“You’ve got five seconds.”“That panel there.” Baako nodded at the far wall.“The top five switches disengage the safety protocols.The next five close the circuits to the gate motors and the bottom five open the gates themselves.”“Can the gates be closed manually?”“Yes, there is a room inside the dam with big hand cranks.They need two men to turn them.”With Linc still at the front door watching for any more guards, Eddie flipped the switches in turn, watching the jeweled lights that were built into the control panel switch from red to green with each toggle thrown.Before he started on the last row he rested his throat mike against his neck.“Chairman, it’s me.Be ready for it.I’m opening the gates now.”“Not a minute too soon.Abala transferred the mortars from the Swift boats and has set them up on shore.A couple more rounds and they have us ranged.”“Stand by for the big flush,” Eddie said and threw the last set of switches.With the last toggle in position a noise began to rise, low at first, but building to a rumble that shook the building.The gates were coming up and water was thundering down the face of the dam in a solid wall.It hit the bottom and exploded in a roiling cauldron that grew into a solid wave eight feet high that swept down the river, inundating the shoreline and ripping out trees and shrubs as it accelerated.“That ought to do the trick,” Eddie said and emptied his clip into the control panel.The rounds punctured the thin metal and shredded the old electronics in a blaze of smoke and sparks.“And that ought to buy us some time,” Linc added.They left the technicians cuffed to a table and made their way back down the staircase.The sound and fury of the water pouring over the dam’s face was a palpable sensation while spray soaked their partially dry clothing.By the time they reached the bottom and dragged the Zodiac to the river’s edge, the water had settled enough for them to launch the inflatable and start heading downstream for their rendezvous in Boma.Back aboard the Oregon, Juan was getting concerned.Abala had realized the Swift boats were too unstable for the mortars so he’d unloaded them and now his men were dialing in the range.The last explosive had hit less than twenty feet from the starboard rail.To add to his problems, more and more native boats were arriving from upstream, loaded to the gunwales with rebels.While the water cannons were performing flawlessly, there were only four of them—and two were needed at all times to prevent the buzzing helicopters from getting close enough for the men aboard to jump down onto the freighter.Juan had called Hali Kasim back from the radar dome to coordinate communications so Linda Ross could lead Eddie’s shore operations fighters.Using only shotguns and pistols, they rushed to the side of the ship where Mark Murphy said a boat was getting too close.They fired down on the rebels while ducking blistering fire from both the shore and the pirogues.“All right,” Hali exclaimed from the comm station.“My techs have the radar back.”“Will you be able to see the wave?” Juan asked him.“Sorry, Chairman, but with the bends in the river I won’t see it until it’s almost on top of us.”“Anything’s better than nothing.”Another mortar dropped near the ship, this time missing the port rail by inches.The rebels had them bracketed.The next rounds would fall with impunity all over the Oregon and her decks were not nearly as heavily armored as her flanks.“Damage control teams, get ready,” Juan said over the shipboard net.“We’re going to take some hits.”“Holy God,” Hali shouted.“What?”“Brace yourselves!”Juan hit the collision alarm as he saw the wave on both the radar screen in the corner of the big monitor as well as the feed from the stern cameras.The surge stretched from bank to bank.Rearing up more than ten feet and easily traveling at twenty knots, the roiling wall of water bore down on them relentlessly.One of the Swift boats tried to twist away and race ahead of the swell, but was caught midway through its turn.The wave hit the vessel broadside.The patrol craft flipped instantly, tossing men into the maelstrom where they were crushed by the rolling hull of their boat.Pirogues simply vanished with nothing to mark their passing, and the rebels lining the shore taking potshots at the Oregon fled for high ground as water washed away everything in its path.Juan took his hands away from the controls a moment before the wave slammed into the Oregon, flexed his fingers like a pianist about to perform an impossible overture, and lightly rested them back on the keys and joystick that would maneuver his ship.He brought the unclogged drive tube up to twenty percent just as the swell lifted the stern of the Oregon out of the mud.Like being caught in a tsunami the vessel lurched from a dead stop to twenty knots in an instant as a pair of mortar shells exploded in her wake, shots that would have blown through her rear cargo hatches and destroyed the Robinson R44 helicopter stored on a retractable elevator.Juan scanned engine readouts, pump temperatures, speed over the bottom, speed through the water, and his position and course, his gaze darting from one screen to the next in an unending cycle.The ship was actually making only three knots through the water but was racing down the river at closer to twenty-five, borne onward by the tremendous pressure of water escaping over the Inga Dam.“Max, tell me the instant that second tube clears,” he called out.“I don’t have enough steerage speed [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]