That was when Deckard woke up.
His chest heaved as he tried to catch his breath, his mind taking a few moments to recognize his surroundings. He was in an apartment in Las Vegas, a temporary safe house where he was waiting out a different kind of storm. Forty-Eight hours ago Deckard and his crew had smashed through a conspiracy that stretched from Mexican drug cartels to a Private Military Company that had been training Iranian terrorists in the Nevada desert. Since clearing out of Area 14 on a Department of Energy training site, Deckard and his team mates from Samruk International had been in hiding. No casinos for them, not while half the world was wondering what the hell had happened out in the Nevada desert.
He stretched his back while he lay on the couch and felt his back pop.
Deckard and Samruk International were what had happened. They had taken on the cartels and their puppet masters. They walked away from that fight, the enemy didn’t. But they had walked away with something else. While busting into a top secret facility, a special activities center for the G3 Communications corporation, they had retrieved several bags worth of sensitive documents.
Pat had made a phone call to an old girlfriend in town and secured them a place to stay until some of the heat died down. After spending an entire day sleeping and eating, Deckard, Pat, Aghassi, Nikita, and Kurt began moving around the apartment. With little else to do, they sat around the coffee table pouring over the intelligence material they had collected while Nikita busied himself cleaning his HK 417 sniper rifle.
Sitting up on the couch, he felt the soreness deep in his muscles and joints. He had run himself ragged during the campaign in Mexico, until he literally collapsed. After getting a few bags of saline solution by intravenous drip, he went right back into the fight. When they first got to the apartment, he collapsed onto the couch. It was less like sleep and more like a coma. When he woke up he was dehydrated and his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth.
But after a few solid meals, sleep, and drinking lots of water he was starting to feel a lot better even though his body was still recovering from the wounds and abrasions he had taken along the way. Meanwhile, the rest of his Private Military Company, Samruk International, had been flown back to Kazakhstan. Having left Frank and Sergeant Major Korgan in charge of the two platoons, they had paid the men and then put them on leave for some much needed R&R.
Deckard looked at the files and folders strewn across the table.
The CEO of G3 Communications was still out there. Deckard would attend to him, but at a time and place of his choosing. Right now, the CEO was no doubt prepared for him after learning about Samruk’s hit on Area 14. The documents they had recovered pointed in other directions. G3 was not just running illegal operations in Latin America but also in the Gulf States. One document in particular caught Deckard’s interest. It was a company roster for a G3 subsidiary based out of the United Arab Emirates.
The roster listed over a 150 employees by name along with their pace of birth, passport number, phone number, blood type, and their duty position within the company. Interestingly they were all coded into the roster under the number 11. When looking at the index for the roster, number 11 listed that position as “maintenance”. Deckard had a hard time believing that employees from the Ukraine, South Africa, Pakistan, and England were all hired and flown to the UAE simply to be janitors.
More curious, there was a small cell isolated within the roster. They were not listed by name but rather an alphanumeric designation ranging from O-1 to O-7. The cell name was Liquid Sky. No passport numbers were listed but they were all Americans, aside from one of them who’s place of birth was listed as Sri Lanka. They were only Americans working within the entire company in fact.
Deckard sat alone in the early morning light, unable to fall asleep after the nightmares. What he had uncovered in the documents thus far was grinding at him anyway.
There was also a target deck within one of the binders of people who appeared to have been eliminated by Liquid Sky. Pat’s gal pal was a nurse and still at work so Deckard logged into her computer and downloaded some software that would allow him to search the web anonymously. He started tracking down the names in the target deck. Many of them did not come up in any of his searches, to be expected if they were third world terrorists or for that matter intelligence professionals who didn’t want to be found in life or death. Some names did produce search results.
One was a Saudi prince who disappeared and was found a week later in the desert with a bullet in the back of his head. It was written off in the media as a inter-familial feud within the royal family. Another was a Somalian warlord who had been reported by the Associated Press as being killed by a Predator drone strike but according to the logs in the target deck he has actually been killed two weeks prior. A third target was an Al Qaeda terrorist emir in Yemen. They were bad guys or at least baddish until he got halfway down the list.
The turning point seemed to be in 2011 when the targets shifted from being exclusively Islamic extremists and corrupt Arabs to pro-democracy demonstrators, protest leaders, and human rights advocates in the UAE, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and throughout the Arab world. Just as the Arab Spring picked up momentum, it seemed that Liquid Sky had received new taskings. The client had to be the leaders of the Gulf states who wanted both Islamic extremists and anti-monarchist, anti-dictatorship protestors off their backs.
The fat cats in the Gulf states were content to rake in oil money and gang bang Russian hookers but needed American expertise to maintain their position in society. American Special Operations expertise. Who was holding down the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East? Who was helping to keep the Arab world a dictatorship which made for a breeding ground for terrorism? It looked like one arm of that apparatus was called Liquid Sky, a group of renegade military contractors.
There was one name listed in the target deck that had not reached his expiration date. One that was scheduled in for service within a weeks time. Would Liquid Sky be alerted that their OPSEC was blown when Area 14 had been set ablaze? Deckard scratched the stubble on his face.
Liquid Sky’s next target was currently located in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
He was the last name on the list.