Gray Matter Splatter: Chapter One

Here is the first chapter from the upcoming Deckard novel titled “Gray Matter Splatter.”

“I’ll tell you boys what,” the mercenary said with a grin as he told his story. “It smelled so bad that I almost didn’t eat it.”

The room exploded with laughter as his fellow mercenaries roared in approval.

“Anyway,” he continued. “That’s how I got pinkeye for the second time.”

Spinning turbines hummed outside, the buzz growing louder as the engines flared. It was one of two C-27J transport aircraft owned by Samruk International, a Kazakhstan based Private Military Company which the mercenaries worked for. Outside, the C-27J screamed down the airstrip and lifted off, its passenger successfully delivered to the remote outpost in Northern Russia.

The door swung open with a gust of arctic wind that sent playing cards flying off an overturned cardboard box which served as a poker table. In filed a dozen new recruits, big European and American dudes looking to secure their slot on Samruk International’s oil security contract with American gas and oil companies in the arctic.

The mercenaries looked at the new guys with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. Samruk was a multi-national company, split down the middle between Kazakhs and Westerners. Over the last couple of years they had seen action in Afghanistan, Burma, Mexico, and Syria. Killing was their business and a batch of new guys could prove to be a valuable asset to the team, a team that had taken plenty of casualties over the last few missions. The newcomers could also prove to be incompetent idiots who got their team mates killed.

“Lookit these new jacks,” the mercenary with a sense of humor commented. The men shuffled by to their boss’ office carrying rucksacks, black roller bags full of tactical gear, and OD green aviator kit bags.

“Welcome to the thunderdome assholes.”

* * *

“Send the first one in!” Chuck Rochenoire yelled. The former Navy SEAL sat on a folding chair next to the door. Also sitting with their backs to the wall were other leaders within the Private Military Company. Pat, Aghassi, Frank, Nikita, Kurt, and Sergeant Major Kogan sat in on the informal board which would be the final interview for the new recruits. New hires would begin training, and rejects would be sent packing.

The first recruit came through the door and set his bags down. He was tall with dark hair and a two day beard.

“It says here you served in Italy’s counter-terrorism unit?” Pat, a Delta Force veteran, asked.

“Colonel Moschin,” the Italian responded with the name of his unit.

“You were a member of Task Force 45,” Pat said looking down at the resume in his hands. “Maurizio?”

“Yes. Also deployed to Libya and Sudan.”

“You also list military free fall and sniper operations among your qualifications.”

Pat grilled him on technical and tactical data for a few more minutes before looking across the room at the CEO of Samruk International. He sat behind a desk with a mug of coffee in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. He nodded his head.

“Arctic, mountain, or winter warfare training?”

“High angle sniper courses and mountain warfare courses that my unit did with the French.”

“Welcome to the team,” Pat said shaking Maurizio’s hand. “You’re on probation for three months, meaning your contract can be cancelled at any time if you fail to perform.”

“I won’t,” the Italian soldier said, clearly happy with their decision.

The next recruit strode in as the Italian departed and stood in from of the desk.

“Name?” Pat asked.

“Jacob.”

The former soldier was built like a bull, but his muscle mass was the type built through long hard endurance exercise and training. His hair was salt and pepper and hands the size of catchers mitts.

“Unit?”

“Jaeger Corps.”

“Danish Special Operations,” Aghassi commented. “Were you on Operation Anaconda?”

“Ja, calling in airstrikes for US forces.”

“I appreciate that.”

“You were there too?” the big Dane turned to look at the former Army intelligence operative.

“I don’t remember,” Aghassi replied with a smile.

“Six rotations to Afghanistan,” Pat said interrupting Aghassi’s stroll down memory lane. “It says here you did clandestine intelligence work out of the Danish embassy in what country exactly?

The questions came hard and fast.

“We are specifically interested in your arctic warfare training,” Aghassi announced towards the end of the interview.

“We did plenty,” Jacob said. “Cross training in Greenland with Danish forces and other exercises in Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway.”

Pat probed for details for another few minutes until the CEO waved him away. Another new mercenary to add to the company rolls.

The next recruit walked in wearing a North Face jacket and Danner mountain boots.

“Nate,” Pat began. “Served in Force Recon until you guys got absorbed into MARSOC, huh? How did that go?”

“It was a total nut roll,” Nate answered. “But we eventually got our shit straightened out.”

“Did you go through Derna Bridge?”

“Later yeah.”

“And MTSC?”

“Yeah, to learn the spooky shit.”

“How many deployments?”

“Nine, including the Indonesia deal.”

“What about arctic warfare training?”

“I did some of the mountain warfare and cold weather training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in California.”

The Samruk boss took a sip of his coffee and nodded before stubbing out his cigarette in a ashtray.

“Next!” Rochenior yelled.

In walked another towering European.

“You served with Norway’s FSK?”
“Yeah,” the Norwegian guffed.

“Dag is it? It says here you worked in an intelligence cell for your unit for several years. Tell me about that.”

Pat grilled him before asking about arctic warfare experience.

Dag laughed.

“We get plenty of that. A third of our country is inside the arctic circle.”

The CEO nodded and Dag was sent out to sign his contract with the others.

“Bring in the next-” Chucks words were cut off as the next recruited floated into the room. He had shed his cold weather gear once inside, opting for something more comfortable. He wore capri pants and and vibram five soles so that his little toes could stretch out. His shirt had some ironic pop culture reference on it that the other men were to old to even understand.

“Please tell me you are not American,” Pat pleaded.

“Whah-ut? Of course I am,” the new guy replied.

“Jesus. Throw me a bone and tell me you were one of those West Coast SEALs or something?”

Rocheniore’s eyes narrowed.

“I was Special Forces man.”

Pat rested his face in his palm.

“Why are you guys so aggro?”

The boss slammed his coffee mug down on his desk.

“Get the fuck out of my office.”

* * *

Third time.

Third time.

One more time.

Harold wrung his hands as a smile crossed his face. His eyes lit up, stars dancing around in them as he looked at the white building behind the black iron fence. The path was clear and nothing would stop him this time. Not like the last two attempts. This time he was going all the way.

Jump!

Harold sprang into action, launching himself at the fence. Filled with excitement, he bounded over the fence with little difficultly and hit the immaculately manicured green grass on the other side.

Success!

On the last two tries he was stopped on the lawn, brought down and tackled to the ground by the bad men. But not this time. This time he was going all the way, all the way to the big white house where the important man lived.

His legs pumped, propelling him across the open lawn like a gazelle. He hadn’t been this excited in a long time. All the lawyers and all the judges scolding him like a child, calling him crazy, saying mean things about him. This time he would prove them all wrong.

And he did.

Harold sprinted across the lawn like an olympic athlete. He had even surprised himself with his speed, struggling to slow down before he plowed right into the side of the white house. His hand wrapped around the brass door knob. He twisted and the door opened.

Finally!

Harold stepped inside. This was the furthest he had ever made it. Now he just had to go and find the important man. Harold had big ideas about economics and social issues to share with him. Looking around, he found himself inside an empty room filled with chairs. It looked like maybe it was set up for press conferences with a big podium standing on a stage at the end of the room.

But where was he?

Harold walked out into the hall. Pictures and paintings hung on the white walls. Fresh flowers leaned out of a glass vase which sat on a oak table.

Boring!

Harold went down the hall opening doors, finding little of interest until he stepped into what looked like a living room. Overstuffed leather chairs sat around a table, more paintings were hung on the walls. This was where the important man did important things.

A staircase!

Harold smiled. The important man must be upstairs. He walked towards the stairs, his hand caressing the wooden railing as his shoe landed on the first step. That was when the doors burst open and the bad men in black suits rushed him.

Not again!

Harold screamed as the bad men slammed him to the floor.

* * *

“Hey,” Pat said as he stood in the doorway. “What do you think of the new guys?”

“They’re good,” Deckard said. “Except for that one guy.”

“We need all the help we can get with this arctic warfare business. This is a different ballgame than we’re used to.”

“I think we ran a pretty good winter warfare course for our guys,” Deckard added. “But two weeks isn’t enough to understand how to fight in this kind of terrain. The cold and the distances add up to serious issues when it comes to maneuverability.”

Deckard finished his coffee and looked inside his mug as he set it down.

“You want the boys to brew some more coffee?” Pat asked.

“Good idea.”

“How do you like it?”

“The way I like my women.”

“Black and strong?” Pat joked.

“Ground up and in the freezer.”

“Holy shit,” Pat laughed. “It’s good to hear you joking again. You’ve been in the dumps for weeks.”

“Fuck you talking about?”

“Come on man, it’s obvious to everyone that something is bothering you.”

“Yeah,” Deckard trailed off. “I’m just wondering what the hell all of this is for.”

“This oil security contract?”

“No, the whole thing. Our entire careers.”

“That last one was rough for you,” Pat said making a statement rather than asking a question.

“If even our own guys are sinking to these depths then yeah, it makes you wonder what the hell all of this is for,” Deckard said referring to his last mission.

Deckard had gotten on the trail of a very dangerous group of former SEAL Team Six operators known as Liquid Sky. They were cold blooded killers. Samruk International put them out of business once and for all in the killing fields of Syria six months ago. Deckard had recovered from that mission, physically at least.

“You know just as well as I do that those guys are outliers,” Pat warned. “Crazies who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. That’s not who we are.”

“Then who are we Pat? We’re the guys who spent the last 15 years landing helicopters on rooftops and shooting dirt farmers in the face, as if that is even that difficult. What the fuck for? It hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We haven’t made any progress and there is no victory.”

“That’s bullshit Deckard. Especially in this company. We’ve gone toe to toe with some evil motherfuckers and walked away from it. Including against our own kind. I know you didn’t expect a ticker tape parade.”

“Of course not, but…” Deckard trailed off.

“You of all people should know better Deckard. With Samruk International we took no shit. We got right down in the mud with the nastiest people out there and gave them the business. Stop this self loathing bullshit. You’re not a pussy so don’t act like one.”

“I’m not throwing in the towel Pat, it’s just that…”

“What?”

“I’ve got nothing left to believe in.”

* * *

Jake Reynolds leaned back in his seat, thinking that it was going to be a long night. These types of trips didn’t happen to often, but they were the entire purpose for which the 25-year-old former Ranger had been employed. Another nine contractors sat with him in the back of the truck’s cargo compartment. They had served in various Special Operations units, a few of them were still in 19th or 20th Group, the Special Forces National Guard components.

Highway 70 was long and lonely at three in the morning, which was exactly why the convoy was traveling on it. Five blacked out SUV’s surrounded a tractor trailer truck that cruised along just over the speed limit. The Department of Energy vehicles only traveled in the dead of night when transporting highly sensitive cargo. Just behind the convoy, and several hundred feet up in the air, a little bird helicopter provided overwatch.

The contractors were locked in the back of the truck with the cargo, the last and final line of defense. They wore OD green flight suits, body armor, and had HK 416 rifles slung around their necks. The reality of their job was that it was boring as hell. Mostly just qualifying out on the range with the occasional long distance transport job. Despite the mundane nature of the job, the cargo was so sensitive that the US government hired the best to ensure its safety.

The highway they were on cut straight through the state of Missouri as they drove from one secure DOE facility to the next. The ex-Ranger chugged some more water and sat patiently. It was times like this he missed the excitement of rolling out on midnight raids with 2nd Ranger Battalion.

There was no way he could have known that tonight would be hairiest mission of his career.

Jake was rocked back in his seat as the entire vehicle shook, his rifle swinging up and smacking him in the face, opening a ragged cut above his eyebrow.

Outside, the entire highway split into pieces and rose up into the air. The two SUV’s in the lead floated into the night like matchbox cars, turning side ways and then upside down before gravity could inevitably bring them back down to the ground. The tractor trailer driver slammed on the brakes then jerked the wheel in a desperate attempt to prevent the truck from jack knifing.

Several more Improvised Explosive Devices were detonated, taking out two more SUV’s. The remaining escort vehicle slid to a stop as the first two that had been propelled into the air crashed back down in a rain of debris. The doors on the surviving SUV were flung open and more contractors in OD flight suits jumped out, just as a linear ambush along the side of the road initiated with fully automatic fire.

The pilot of the little bird pulled hard on the stick, bringing the agile little helicopter back around on the convoy. The two contractors riding on the external pods attached to the side of the little bird spotted the muzzle flashes coming from the treeline, but the pilots could not identify any white-hot thermal signatures on their Forward Looking Infra-Red system.

The pilot clicked his mic to transmit over their secure communications net.

“Prairie Fire, I say again, Prairie Fire!”

The distress code was the final word that the pilot was able to get out before a SA-7 surface to air missile slammed into the side of the helicopter. The little bird was knocked out of the air and crashed into the forest on the opposite side of the highway in a brilliant ball of red and yellow fire.

In the back of the tractor trailer, Jake wiped at his forehead and tried to blink blood out of his eyes. As he reached down and undid his seatbelt, he realized that he couldn’t hear anything. His ears were ringing, but he wasn’t sure why.

The other contractors were coughing and struggling with their seat belts. A few of them fell out of their seats as they tried to stand. Jake struggled to his feet and jacked a round into the chamber of his HK rifle.

Over the ringing in his ears, he could now make out the staccato bursts of gunfire from outside. Rounds were thudding into the side of the truck. Thankfully, the armored cargo compartment kept them safe, at least for the time being.

Their team leader, a retired Sergeant Major, was already barking orders as the other contractors were racking rounds into the chambers of their rifles. He was pointing to the door at the end of the compartment.

Even though he couldn’t hear him, the message was clear to Jake.

They were the last line of defense.

* * *

Deckard set down his second cup of coffee and opened his laptop computer. The reality of running a Private Military Company was that there was a lot of mundane bullshit to take care. Samruk International had expended a lot of human and finance capital lately. He had been reduced to selling off two of the company’s mammoth An-125 cargo jets. Now they only had the one An-125 and two C-27J’s left in their aviation wing. At least the C-27’s had been bought dirt cheap. The U.S. Air Force decided they didn’t want them anymore after wasting millions of tax payer dollars.

They had taken the oil security contract in the arctic to keep the revenue coming in. Maintaining a small private army wasn’t cheap and this wasn’t the way most companies did business, usually they just hired independent contractors from job to job. Deckard was instead running a de facto military unit and he wanted to keep his team intact.

However, as it turned out there could be many interesting tasks rolled up under a oil security contract. Not only could those tasks include static security around off-shore oil rigs, but also involve training other security personnel, and maybe even killing off those would would threaten the business interests of said oil companies. Threats like the Russian mafia who had recently been acting like arctic pirates.

Deckard’s office door swung open again. Rocheniore looked up at him with a grin.

“We got the green light.”

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“Everything is prepped and pre-staged, correct?”

“You know it.”

Now it was Deckard’s turn to smile.

“Spin the boys up.”

The giant black man turned around in the doorway.

“DROP SOCKS, GRAB COCKS. IT’S A GO!”

Deckard flung open his gear bag and began donning his kit. The first layer was thermal clothing, then a bare plate carrier which rode underneath his heavy winter jacket. Over his clothes he wore the new Samruk uniform for their arctic contract, a winter camouflage pattern made by PenCott called Snow Drift. Finally, a chest rig loaded with ammunition and grenades went over his chest. Picking up his AK-103 rifle, Deckard walked out into the the warehouse.

About eighty mercenaries were going through the same routine, kitting up for combat. The mission had been planned and re-planned for weeks. They were just waiting on approval from the Russian government. Mob ties ran deep in the halls of power and getting the political ducks in a row took some time. At the end of the day it was all about business and the pirates were costing both the government and private industry millions of dollars in extortion fees. Someone had finally gotten fed up.

Using a Private Military Company that had a Kazakh face rather than an American one made the job more politically acceptable, and kept the Russia military out of the firing line when things went pear shaped, which of course they always did.

“What about the new guys?” Kurt Jager asked as he spotted Deckard walking out of the office. The former GSG-9 commando spoke flawless English.

“Take them along. It will be on the job training. Keep them with the security elements so they can observe how we do things without getting them overly involved on their first op.”

“Got it.”

Deckard slung his rifle and pulled a white watch cap over his head. Pushing open the door, he pulled his hood up as well. The sunlight stung his eyes. As outlined in the stipulations of their contract, Samruk International was based out of a unused warehouse leased to house oil drilling equipment, and the occasional private army.

The wind swept snow across the desolate coast line, the cold already stinging Deckard’s cheeks. By the end of this deployment he knew they would all be sporting lumberjack beards just to try to keep themselves a little bit warmer.

A few hundred meters away was their new ride. It was a monstrosity of a ship, a chimera that never should have existed, but did thanks to a failed U.S. Navy and Marine Corps experiment gone awry. But just like the C-27J airplane, Deckard saw an opportunity to purchase some hardware that fit his needs and at bargain basement prices.

Renamed the Carrickfergus, the ship was a one of a kind. Sharing the characteristics of both a barge and a catamaran, the ship rested on two massive pontoons with the bridge of the ship, housing the captain’s control center, joining the double hulled design. On top of each hull were two passenger compartments.

It was big, it was blue, it was ugly, and it wasn’t even that fast.

But it was an ice breaker with a cargo deck which lowered from the center which accommodated beach landings. During travel, the deck would be raised and then lowered again along with a ramp when the vehicles onboard were ready to drive up onto the shore. Currently, the deck was lowered and waiting to take on the passengers. Under the tarps were eight Iveco assault vehicles, six snow mobiles, a few kayaks, two Zodiac boats, and a small connex container filled with ammunition.

“Let’s go!” Frank yelled, ushering the mercenaries out the door. The former Ranger was about as wide as he was tall and had been with the company since the beginning.

The Kazakh mercenaries were led out in a orderly fashion by one of the two platoon Sergeants, named Fedorchenko. He had started with Samruk as a Corporal after being recruited from a Kazakh special police unit. Since that time he had more than proved his metal. He had been leading a platoon since Mexico and had done an outstanding job.

Integrated into the platoons of Kazakhs were Westerners from units as diverse as Polish GROM and the French Foreign Legion. Initially, they had been the trainers and mentors but now they were assaulters fighting alongside their former students who were every bit as good as they were.

The mercenaries boarded the Carrickfergus and began climbing up to the passenger compartments. Inside, the seats had been torn out and the space converted for military purposes. Gear and weapons were everywhere, white boards with task lists scribbled on them were hung on the walls, and the soldier’s individual equipment, bags, and boxes of military rations were neatly stacked on plywood shelves that they had constructed. The ship was set up not just as a means of transportation but also to act as a mobile staging ground.

Designed to ferry 130 passengers, there was enough room for two platoons of mercenaries, plus Samruk’s intelligence, mortar, recce, and headquarters sections but it was still cramped inside. Deckard walked up the ramp and climbed up the ladder to the bridge as the captain began raising the deck and preparing to get underway.

The ship was a hulking beast at 59 meters long and looked like it had been cobbled together from the left over parts of other ships. As Deckard reached the bridge, the twin motors that powered the hydrolic system which lifted the deck switched off as it was locked into place. Walking inside the helm, he was confronted with the dizzying array of dials and instruments on several consoles.

The old salt that captained the Carrickfergus stood behind the wheel. He wore a battered old sweater from which his beer belly swelled out from under, revealing a stained white t-shirt underneath. His beard was almost fully gray and his shoes were a beat up pair of loafers.

“Hey Deck!” he exclaimed. “Glad you could make it.”

“Thanks Otter.”

They had been calling him by his sea name long enough that no one really remembered what the real name was on his file anymore.

“Time to go kill some commies, huh?”

“Organized criminals,” Deckard carefully corrected.

“Same difference,” Otter said as he grabbed the wheel with one hand. In the other was a coffee mug which looked like it hadn’t been washed in years. Unlike Deckard’s coffee, Otter’s was always spiked with something a little more fun.

“Can you get us to the beach landing zone without killing us.”

“We’ll find out,” he chuckled.

The four Diesel-fueled engines churned and the Carrickfergus began reversing out into the icy waters. This close to shore, there wasn’t much ice to cut through this time of year, but they would still be traveling relatively slowly. The ship’s top speed was only 20 knots. By comparison, most commercial shipping vessels traveled at 25 knots, although most deliberately slowed to 20 to keep fuel consumption down.

Deckard looked out to sea and was greeted with a sight that would have been impossible just a few years ago. A half dozen commercial cargo ships loaded with connex containers, or sitting low in the water because they were filled with oil, could be seen in the arctic sea with the naked eye as he swept his gaze across the ocean.

With polar ice melting, a new trans-actic sea route had been opened. The opening of the North-East passage in the spring in summer months in Russia was already saving European companies billions of dollars and cutting days off their shipping times to Asia. The opening of the North West passage in northern Canada was having a similar effect for commercial shipping. More than that, the melting ice was also opening up the region to other commercial ventures. From oil drilling to the mining of rare earth minerals, the arctic circle was now ripe for the taking.

But with that came arctic sovereignty disputes, and the further militarization of the arctic as great powers like Russia and the United States eyed each other across their frozen shores. Of course, with the advent of commercial interests in the arctic, along came crime. That was what brought Samruk International to the arctic in the first place.

But what really shifted commercial maritime traffic up into the arctic was ISIS. Once the Jihadists had launched terrorist operations around the Suez Canal, sinking several ships, the insurance premiums for ships traveling through the canal sky rocketed. Churning through the arctic was cheaper in more ways than one.

Looking through the window to the deck below, Deckard could already see the mercenaries throwing the tarps off their vehicles and mounting PKM machine guns in swing arm mounts.

“How long?”

Otter snorted.

“I’ll get you there by EENT,” he said referring to End of Evening Nautical Twilight.

He could have just said at dusk, but the U.S. Navy has a way of institutionalizing sailors.

Deckard ran the numbers in his head.

“It’s almost too good to be true.”

* * *

Seventy Special Forces commandos assembled at the tarmac kitted up for war.

A C-17 waited for them in the distance, surrounded by the airfield’s blue lights. The turbine engines hummed as the pilots went through their pre-flight check list as quickly as possible.

“Gather around,” Major Thomas shouted. “We’ll do this right here.”

The C/1/10 CIF commander got the orders just an hour ago but the Commanders-In-Extremis Force was designed for no-notice deployments. The Green Berets belonged to a specialized direct action company within 10th Special Forces Group. While Special Forces soldiers specialized in training foreign troops and conducting unconventional warfare, the CIF’s sole purpose in life was counter-terrorism.

“You’ve probably figured out by now that our mission training the Croatian counter-terrorism unit is on hold until further notice. The latest reports out of Nairobi are that the U.S. embassy is under siege. At least half of the compound is now in enemy hands. Intel is shit but what else is new. No one knows if it is Al-Shabaab, Al-Hijra, or someone new to the game. After we hit the ground, the Kenyan government has already cleared the way for us to drive straight to the embassy grounds. We’ll clear the exterior of the embassy and secure the area. Flight time is seven hours and the boys from Bragg should be just a hour behind us.”

The multi-cam clad Special Forces soldiers understood the mission immediately. They had trained for it countless times, but had never gotten the call.

Until now.

Once they secured the perimeter of the embassy, Delta Force would breach the buildings and conduct the hostage rescue mission.

“Size, strength, and disposition of enemy forces?” one of the Team Sergeants asked.

“We’re expecting close to a hundred crows,” the Major said using their internal code word for enemy combatants. “Expect them to be armed with AK-47’s, RPGs, and PKMs. Remember that the bad guys in this AO have a history of using suicide vests. The IED threat is assessed as high. Diplomatic Security Services and the contractors pulling static security were quickly overwhelmed so that should tell you something. CNN is reporting small arms fire and several explosions.”

“CNN is reporting?” one of the Weapons Sergeants asked.

“You know the deal,” the CIF commander replied. “We’re going in blind to act as the eyes and ears for the main effort.”

“Roger that.”

The Major looked down at his watch.

“We’re wheels up in fifteen, you know what to do.”

The CIF team members turned around and jogged over to the aircraft. Their plate carriers bounced slightly with each step. Getting closer, they pulled on their Peltor headsets and snapped OpsCore helmets over their heads. They had already received their basic load of ammunition and explosives. The gun trucks were already tied down inside the plane with ratchet straps.

As the CIF team took sat down in the red seats lining the inner fuselage of the C-17, Major Thomas went over to the loadie. The flight crew member wore a khaki flight suit and helmet with a long black wire linking his headset into the aircraft’s comms system.

“We’re up!” the commander yelled over the whining engines.

The loadie nodded and clicked on his mic, saying a few words to the pilots. The flight crew then walked down the ramp and began flipping up the two flaps that reached down from the ramp to the tarmac.

Major Thomas took an empty seat next to the rear of the aircraft and buckled himself in. His Executive Officer was sitting next to him and immediately started asking more questions about the mission.

“Hey, what the fuck!” one of the loadies yelled, his voice drowned out by the engines.

A black clad man suddenly scrambled up the ramp of the aircraft and into the interior.

Major Thomas looked up at the interloper with a frown. He held something in his hand.

“ALLLAAAAH AKBAAAR!”

* * *

The President looked away from the screen as a half dozen Secret Service agents burst into the war room and slammed the door shut behind him.

“We have a situation Mr. President,” one of them announced.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Sir,” one of his aides said trying to get his attention. “We need-”

“Perimeter breach,” one of the agents said.

“Where is-”

“Sir!” the aide screamed. “We need your authorization!”

The President swung around angrily to face the aide.

“Sir, F16s are on station.”

The President looked up at the black and white image displayed on the screen at the end of the room. It showed a tractor trailer stopped in the middle of a highway. White thermal images surrounded the truck and a bright glow came from the rear doors. Apparently someone was trying to burn their way inside with a blow torch.

“Do it,” the President ordered. “Now someone tell me why we are on lockdown?”

An officer sitting at the other end of the table wearing a blue Air Force uniform picked up a phone and relayed the President’s authorization.

“The situation is still developing Mr. President.” One of the Secret Service men said. “We were told that someone breached the White House.”

“Another fence jumper? Are you fucking kidding me?”

The President had deep lines around the corners of his eyes and a lot more gray hair than when he had taken office seven years prior. A administration plagued with scandals and an indecisive Congress could do that to any President.

Another phone rang, and the President’s aide picked it up.

“The suspect has already been apprehended sir, but we can’t take any chances.”

“This is the third time this month,” the President complained. “What the hell is the problem with-”

All eyes in the room suddenly shot back towards the screen. The tractor trailer disappeared in a massive gray cloud. The 2,000 pound Joint Direct Air Munition vaporized the truck, and everyone except the Secret Service agents knew that ten good men had been vaporized with it. It was all part of the protocol, but that didn’t make it any easier.

“It will be reported as an eighteen car pile up in the news tomorrow,” a Department of Homeland Security representative said breaking the silence. “We’ll say a chemical spill was involved to explain the clean up crews.”

“Jesus,” the President said under his breath.

“The truth is that this section of Highway 70 will be unusable for decades. The JDAM will have spread radioactive material for several kilometers. Destroying it like this creates an even bigger radioactive mess than an actual detonation,” the DHS rep said ominously.

“We just got hit in Croatia,” an Army General said as he slammed down his phone. “The entire CIF team got taken out on a airfield in Zagreb.”

“What happened?”

“We don’t know yet.”

The aide sitting next to the President set down his phone softly.

“Mr. President, a situation is developing in the arctic.”

“I don’t think we have time for that right now.”

“I agree,” the aide said, leaning on his chair closer to the President. “Sir, it is now very clear.”

“What is that,” the President said, his eyes still fixated on the smoking hole in the middle of Highway 70.

“Someone just declared war on America.”

“Who?”

“We don’t know.”

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Gray Matter Splatter: Chapter One

  1. Steven

    Jack,

    Your work is great; thanks for writing! With what we’ve read so far it looks like things are gonna get pretty aggro fast.

    Do you plan to do more Samruk themed swag/items like the patches and hats again?

    • I still have callsign patches left but the hats are only in smaller sizes. Lesson learned, next time adjustable hats. What kind of stuff would you like to see?

      • Steven

        I was thinking about some cold weather themed items like a Samruk patch with a snowdrift background or one featuring the logo that was on the hats. A beanie or watch cap would be pretty neat too.

  2. Alan

    I agree with Steven. Snow drift hat with logo to go with my other Samruk hat.

  3. BigB

    You big tease! Bad ass as always. Way to keep it relevant brother!

  4. Jack – I’m hooked, can’t wait for more Deckard and loads more Samruk swag!

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