As the Air Force jet descended through clouds, Able Team looked out the ports to the vast flashing mirror of the Lago de Ilopango. Around the lake — actually the flooded crater of an ancient volcano — green fields checkerboarded the lush countryside. The clouds cast patches of darkness on the flatland fields. Brilliant sunlight on forests created scenes of luminescent green. To the southeast, the cones of volcanoes extended to the horizon.
"Wow," Gadgets gasped. "Amazing! What a postcard that would make."
Lieutenant Lizco laughed. "This is the first time you see my country? It is very beautiful. But when you learn the history, the five thousand years of cities and empires and peoples, then you will be very, very amazed."
Lining up on a runway, the jet dropped into a landing approach. The North Americans and the Salvadoran army officer took their seats and buckled their safety belts.
Despite the clouds of the approaching storm, the pilot glided down to a flawless landing. The jet taxied past the brilliant white and glass of the terminal to the white hangars at the far end of the airfield.
Everywhere on the blacktop, jetliners and private jets loaded and offloaded passengers and luggage. Gadgets pointed to the modern terminal.
"Things don't look very desperate. Could've bought a million rifles for the price of that place."
"Japanese money," Lieutenant Lizco told him. "General Romero wanted many tourists to come to our country. He built roads and hotels and the airport. But the people got nothing. And the war came down from the mountains. Now, I think only journalists use the airport. And they do not come to photograph beauty."
"No tourists?" Gadgets asked. "Look at all those tourists back there."
"They are Salvadorans. Returning from Miami and Los Angeles and New York."
Lyons watched a group of teenagers in designer jeans and silk shirts board a Lear jet. "Look at the kid in the tight pants. Doesn't your country have a draft or selective service?"
The lieutenant laughed cynically. "You expect the rich to fight for the privileges the rich enjoy? That is the duty of the poor. As it is in your country, yes?"
"No," Gadgets answered. "In Nam, I had a captain whose family was rich. Had gear from Abercrombie and Fitch in Manhattan. Shared his Chivas Regal with me. He was one brave dude. Lost a leg and eye trying to drag in a wounded grunt."
The Salvadoran apologized. "I am sorry. I should not assume your country is like mine."
"Then again," Gadgets added, "when the Army drafted all the poor kids and started calling in the rich kids, that's when the antiwar movement started. I saw thousands of rich kids on TV marching with NVA flags and posters of Uncle Ho-Ho, proclaiming the People's Republic of Yale."
"Do you know," the lieutenant mused, "that in my country's war, many of the Communist leaders are the sons and daughters of the rich. That is very strange, yes? A class contradiction, as the Marxists say."
The jet turned. Slowing, it eased into the shadowy interior of a hangar. A lurch signaled their arrival as the pilot hit the brakes for the last time. The lieutenant went to the cabin door.
"No more talk of politics," he announced. "I must arrange for our transportation to Morazan. It will take only a few minutes. Then we go."
A ramp clanked against the fuselage, and the door swung open. The lieutenant stepped out. Lyons leaned to Konzaki.
"While we put together our gear," he said, "go delay our friend. I want the Pol to be with him when he makes his calls."
"He's legit, Carl," Konzaki replied. "We checked him out. Excellent record at Fort Benning. We checked him all the way back to his high-school friends."
"You know who he's talking to? Did you check them? Did you check the telephone lines? Did you check..."
"All right, Carl, all right. I'm on my way." Konzaki gripped his aluminum canes and left as quickly as his plastic legs allowed. They heard him call out, "Lieutenant! One moment!"
Lyons leaned to Gadgets. "Got a minimike and a DF? I want that Lizco wired."
Gadgets faked a shocked expression. "But he's our friend! How could you suggest such a thing?"
"Because I don't trust..."
"Anybody," Gadgets finished the statement. He grinned as he took a hand-radio from the inside pocket of his sports coat. "Think I do?"
With a flick of a switch, the voices of Konzaki and Lieutenant Lizco came from the radio. "How exactly will you travel? Should the men change into casual clothes? Or should they wear coats and ties. I'm thinking about checkpoints. Perhaps they should wear their suits to impress the authorities."
Lyons laughed. "Okay. This is what we're going to do. The Wizard has him wired. We're going to listen to what he does and what he says."