Largo was sitting on the hotel bed watching Kimiko put the finishing touches on Piro's disguise when Piro's data pad beeped and then started blinking red. Piro motioned for her to stop, then picked up the pad and started reading. Kimiko moved over towards Largo, who now looked like a Mexican villager thanks to her, and asked him in a hushed voice, "Doesn't red mean urgent orders?" Without taking his eyes off Piro, Largo replied, "Yes." Kimiko looked at Largo somewhat nervously and said, "But our first mission isn't until next week." Largo turned to look at her and just shrugged.
Erika was oblivious to what was going on because she was inspecting Kimiko's handiwork in the bathroom mirror. When she heard Piro call, she immediately came out into the main room. Once she joined them, Piro began, "Ok people, there's been a change of plans." He paused for a moment to look each person in the eye, "A situation has come up, and Command wants us to do some reconnaissance. A transport will be here in ten minutes to take us to the airstrip. I expect everyone to have their gear packed and be ready when it arrives."
Largo began packing his gear with enthusiasm, while Erika packed with her usual air of detachment. Kimiko was the only one that lingered. "Sir?" she started to ask before he cut her off. "Not now lieutenant - we'll get debriefed on the trip. Right now, time is of the essence." She hesitated only a moment before replying, "Yes sir," then she quickly began to pack.
As Piro packed his gear he couldn't help but worry about Kimiko. He knew she was an excellent solider, but he also knew she had been placed in a team a little early because of her other skills. Kimiko was a master of disguise and an excellent actress. She was the ideal match for him in undercover missions, which was supposed to be his team's specialty. He knew this sudden change of plans had put her on edge, but there wasn't much he could do about it. He'd help her as much as he could, but he couldn't play nursemaid for the whole mission. Hopefully she'd rise to whatever challenges awaited her.
Forty minutes after receiving their orders, MT was in the air. Piro was disappointed that the team had to leave Mexico early. His team members, especially Erika and Largo, needed extra practice at blending into a crowd and acting inconspicuous while in disguise, but there was nothing to be done about it. Instead, he needed to focus on getting his team prepared for its new mission.
Immediately after takeoff, Largo worked with a member of the flight crew to setup the video conference equipment. Once completed, they initiated a link with the command center where Colonel Sonoda had a mission specialist ready to brief the team. Before the specialist started, each team member was given a packet with an intelligence report, maps and aerial photography of the target area. She began by reviewing the details of JT's mission, and then she went over the specs of the experimental weaponry. When she finished, Largo let out a long low whistle and said, "Very impressive weaponry - What security systems does it have?" The specialist replied, "The weapon has sophisticated biometric scanners that only allows one person to use the weapon. Also, each weapon has a tracking device that should allow you pinpoint its location if you get within three to four miles of the device. There will be tracking equipment included in your gear."
After a short pause Erika asked, "Do you have any information on what security systems Escobar is using?" The specialist checked her notes, and then answered, "We only have limited data; there should be a spec sheet included in your package. Even though he is a minor drug lord, expect him to have good security, especially around his residence. Hopefully you won't need to go anywhere near it." The last question of the briefing was asked by Kimiko, "What are our orders if we find that Escobar has possession of the weapons and our people?" The specialist looked aside, and then moved out of the way so Colonel Sonoda could respond. After brief consideration he replied, "I'm going to leave that decision up to Captain Piro. Situations like this are nothing new to him, and he knows your capabilities better than anyone, and I trust his judgment. Just keep in mind that the loss of these weapons would be devastating, and that even though backup is on the way, it's at least eight hours behind."
When the briefing ended Piro addressed his team, "Alright people, there is going to be an SUV waiting for us when we land. The airstrip is about sixty miles north of our target. I don't expect to interact with any locals today, but just in case I want everyone looking like tourists. If we do have any interaction, let me and Kimiko do the talking if possible. Remember we are two newlywed couples vacationing together, and all our credentials are in the vehicle." He paused to see if there were any questions then he looked at Kimiko and said, "You did a fine job on these disguises, it's a shame we didn't get to use them." He then addressed the group and said, "If there aren't any questions, let's get changed."
The rest of the plane trip was spent making themselves look like tourists and reviewing their information packets. They landed and got their vehicle without any complications, and within minutes of touching down they were on the road.
On a cursory inspection, the SUV looked like an ordinary vehicle, but in reality it was packed with hidden tactical equipment and weaponry. Piro drove and Kimiko sat in the front passenger seat. Kimiko pulled the wireless keyboard out from under her chair and activated the vehicle's in-dash navigation and tactical displays. Largo sat behind Piro and began setting up his workstation. In the back of the front seats were two hidden touch screen monitors and a keyboard. Largo folded one monitor out and left the other, and Erika did the same on her side. Piro gave everyone a few minutes to familiarize themselves with their systems before asking, "This is a different model than the one we trained on, does anyone foresee any problems?" Largo was the first to respond when he said, "This is a newer model. Configuration is a little different," then after pause he continued, "I foresee no complications in compensating for the differences." Erika and Kimiko both agreed.
When they were about ten miles from their target Piro took advantage of the SUV's four wheel drive and found them a nice secluded spot that wasn't visible from the road. Once situated, it only took Largo a few minutes to prepare the reconnaissance drone for flight. Kimiko hand-launched the drone, then remained outside the vehicle to keep watch in case someone wandered by. Largo flew the drone from his workstation while Erika controlled the cameras and monitored the sensors from hers. Piro sat in-between Largo and Erika to observe their progress.
After a half-hour of searching it was becoming obvious that there was no trace of JT or any of their equipment in the areas where they should have been. After accepting what that meant, Piro said, "Alright Largo, fly over the drug processing compound." When the drone made it to the compound Erika announced, "I'm picking up a tracking signal." Piro asked, "Is it coming from the compound?" Erika adjusted the controls and examined both displays before responding, "No sir, not from the compound. It's coming from somewhere west of the compound." There was no need to say any more, they had all studied the maps, Escobar's residence was due west of the drug compound.
Largo flew the drone over the residence to verify the signal was coming from there and to gather whatever tactical information they could. After Piro was satisfied that they had gathered all the information they could, he started to tell Largo bring the drone back when Erika exclaimed, "Damn!"
"What is it?" Piro asked. Erika's fingers flew over the controls as she responded, "I've lost the signal sir."