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Persona Non Grata Excerpt, Chapter One

This is a story about fire.

It is the kind of fire that consumes and destroys everything around it. Whether it is the kind of fire that burns down a village or the type of creative destruction that helps rejuvinate the forest, I do not know. All I can say for sure is that I exist because of the fire, because I could not exist without it.

Before that fire there is darkness, a darkness that I feel comfortable in. The darkness is not something to fear, the light is. The light is where people tell lies. The darker things are the more difficult it is for someone to hide. In the deepest darkest moments there is no where to run, no where to hide. You do or do not. The darkness is where you see people for what the really are. The light is nothing but a lie that provides those who have something to hide with a place to hide.

In the darkness, there are things that lurk, things that people don’t want to see so we pretend that they don’t exist. But the dark can also be used by a different type of person. A hunter uses it to conceal himself, the dark is where he plans, it is where he waits. The hunter steps out of the light and into the dark, because that is the place where he belongs.

We are supposed to fall into sequence and fill the role that was made for us. The world tells us that there is a way things are supposed to play out, and a position that we are supposed to fill. Our life is planned out with each of us being used as pawns in some one else’s grand scheme of things. They had it all planned out for us. A job, an identity, a nation, and a hundred other artificial constructs. You walk the same path as everyone else, wondering if this is all there is. If nothing else is out there, than why am I here? The sensation creeps into your soul at night. Why are my senses allowed to perceive things that society says I should not be able to?

The world promised us a future, a place to be fufilled and happy and content. Some people are born touching the sun but that wasn’t me. I went looking for the darkness, I went looking for war, and even for something resembling truth.

The dark waters rushed around my legs, the pressure already tightening around me as I was lowered into the sea. A white froth washed over my mask before I disappeared beneath the waves. The pressure continued to build as the launch and recovery system plunged deeper into the ocean. Small bubbles rolled across the surface of the mask. The deeper I went the harder it was for the sun to penetrate through the water. My world grew dark and an incredible calm washed over me as life on the surface was left behind.

Still, human beings are not built for life underwater. Everything done sub-surface is more complicated so you have keep things streamlined. Tight. Efficient. That’s how you have to work down here. I manuevered my umbilical around and stepped off the LAR that had lowered me down. Out on the cross bars the flashlight mounted to my hard helmet illuminated the way forward. The man-made structure looked alien, over grown and corroded, something that clearly didn’t belong here.

Few people ever get to see the world from this deep down. Inside the jacket of the rig, I was given the task of welding anods to help prevent corrosion. Without me, the rig would eventually collapse, imploding on itself. I moved slowly and delibirately, reaching for the Broco torch and wet welding electrones.

The torch began to burn, a blue orb popping in front of my eyes as I began making the welds. I was finally relaxed. Calm. As I continued to weld, my thoughts were cast adrift.

“Call in a TIC!”

Combat boots pounded across the dust, gun shots cutting through the air as the Counter-Terrorism Pursuit Team opened up on the enemy up hill from their position. Deckard took a knee next to a irrigation canal, muddying his desert tiger stripe uniform.

“Troops in contact, troops in contact,” Trey yelled into the radio as he knelt beside him.

Terraces rose up in front of the two Ground Branch operators, the enemy firing down on them from an elevated position. The mechanical ambush had been kicked off with the blast of two IEDs, then heavy machine gun fire from above that disabled three Hiluxes and killed a dozen of the Afghan CTPTs immediately. Trey, a former Special Forces soldier looked at Deckard with his handset held to his ear and shook his head.

“Fixed ring twenty minutes out.”

The deadly Little Bird Direct Action Penetrator helicopters didn’t fly during hours of day light. They would have to wait for Close Air Support.

Looking back, Deckard saw the CTPTs either firing unaimed shots, dying where they stood, or pointlessly hiding behind their thin skinned vehicles. The third Ground Branch contractor was a grizzled old Delta Force Sergeant Major who stood out in the opening kicking the CTPTs to getting them moving to cover, all while puffs of moon dust kicked up by enemy fire burst around his feet. Trey and Deckard looked on in horror as the old man of the team threatened to kill their Afghan counter-parts before they got up and ran for the terraces.

When Wes finally joined them he just took a knee and wiped some sweat off his forehead. His hair was close cropped and he was clean shaven unlike the other two contractors who sported full beards. Wes didn’t see any point in having long hair and a beard when they were running direct action operations.

“I’m too old for this shit.”

We were trapped on the wrong side of a narrow valley, in a country we were not exactly supposed to be in. The Haqqani network realized they had hit a gold mine ambushing the CTPTs and no doubt spotted their American advisors dressed like commandos out of a Soldier of Fortune magazine. Pinned down and under fire, twenty minutes seemed like a life span, theirs specifically.

The terraces crept up the side of the valley like a set of steep basement stairs leading to a series of mud huts built into the side of the valley.

“I’ve seen you do some pretty gnarly physical training,” Trey said to Wes.

“Down for a frontal assault under machine gun fire?” Deckard asked as a stray round kicked up some dirt just above his head.

The old man smiled.

“I’ll beat you two pussies to the top. I’m on point, Deckard you stay on my coat tails and try not to die. Trey, you push these maldoons up behind us.”

Just like that, a bullshit plan came together.

“Get the CTPT’s to lay down some suppressive-” Wes’ words were cut off as Deckard jumped over the edge of the first terrace. “God dammit!”

Squishing his way through the mud that used to grow rice for the village above, Deckard came to the next terrace wall. Popping over the top, he leveled his M4 rifle and looked down his Aimpoint sight, cracking off shots into the windows of mud huts and then swinging his barrel to light up several rocky outcroppings above his position. The enemy answered back, sending Deckard ducking down. He had to identify where that machine gun position was. The blast of the Dskh 12.7 caliber rounds was hard to mistake for anything else.

“Hey, high speed,” Wes said grabbing Deckard by the sleeve of his fatigues. “If you do anything like that again, I’ll shoot you myself.”

“Roger, Sergeant Major.”

None of them held military ranks anymore as contracted CIA employees. They were a deniable force behind enemy lines. No Geneva Convention was going to save them now.

“Smart ass.”

Trey got a very reluctant CTPT element up onto the terrace and returned fire. The DShK swept their position, racking back and forth. One of the Afghans had put his faith in Allah rather than cover and concealment. He quickly paid the price as a 12.7 round nearly sliced him in half. The pulped mound of gore toppled backwards into the irrigation ditch.

“Trey, get the RPK and PKM gunners up. We need to keep up our momentum,” Deckard yelled.

“What momentum?” the OGA contractor asked sarcastically, his words lost in the gunfire.

Wes stayed as low as possible as he pushed off the wall in front of them with the toe of his boot and rolled up to the next level. Deckard sprung up after him. The Haqqani machine gun above chugged through belt after belt of ammunition, delaying the American and Afghan soldier’s progress. During delays in the bursts of fire, they moved knowing that the terrorists were reloading the gun or clearing a malfunction.

Deckard risked another look above the terrace, trying to figure out exactly where the machine gun emplacement was, but the enemy had done a good job at digging it in while maintaining a wide field of fire.

FWOOOSH!

Deckard and Wes both hit the ground as a RPG rocket sailed over their heads and exploded in front of what was left of their Toyota Hiluxes down on the valley floor. The CTPT’s returned hopelessly inaccurate fire, but hopefully it gave the enemy something to think about.

“I’ll cover you,” Wes said.

He began firing at what he thought was the machine gun position, making bold corrections as moved his gun sights laterally as he fired. Deckard jumped the terrace, his heart thumping in his chest and sweat streaming down his face. Despite being behind the wall, a splash of mud was flung against his ankles. Looking up he saw a lone shooter up on a rocky peak to their flank.

“I got this,” Wes said as he came up along side him.

“You got this? That dude is like five hundred meters away which is why he isn’t hitting shit-”

Wes exhaled and gently squeezed the trigger on his M4. A single 5.56 round punched through the AK-47 weilding terrorist. He flopped over and took a nose dive off the cliff. The two OGA contractors watched him splash down, face first, into the dried river bed below. His body lay twisted in a very unnatural position.

“Never mind.”

Turning, Deckard fired through the rest of his magazine, and then stopped to reload, yanking a fresh magazine from his olive green nylon chest rig. Wes accerated his rate of fire, then bent down to reload himself once Deckard was ready to resume shooting. Trey was leap frogging up behind them with a couple dozen Afghans while Deckard and Wes closed the distance. As they visually identified the muzzle flash of the DShK, both began dumping their mags into it. 5.56 rounds sparked off what was probably the feed tray cover and the gun went silent. The two men surged forward climbing up the five foot tall terraces to close the distance.

The two men strained as they climbed higher and higher up the side of the valley. Each carrying around fifty pounds of weapons, ammunition, and gear, their muscles burned with lactic acid. Wes down half of a bottle of water and handed it off to Deckard who finished it while they waited for Trey to catch up again.

“Get the fuck up here Trey,” Wes bellowed.

Deckard squeezed off round after round as gunsmoke stung his eyes. He hesitated, seeing something flash in his periferal. A oblong round object flew through the air and landed at his feet. Instantly recognizing one of those green football shaped Soviet deals, Deckard threw his weight into Wes, taking him to the ground just as the grenade exploded. A plume of mud and dust burst above them.

Wes squinted, in obvious pain from the ringing in his ears.

“Get the fuck off of me, it isn’t man love Thursday.”

Deckard rolled off and snatched a M67 frag grenade from his chest rig. Peeling off the 100 mile an hour tape used to secure the pin, he twisted and yanked it out. Over handing the grenade, he ducked back down behind the terrace. The explosion resulted in the satisfying screams of agony from at least one Haqqani terrorist.

Then another grenade landed near their position on the terrace just above them. The two men ducked as it detonated. The former Delta operator lobbed a grenade of his own as the fire fight devolved into a full on frag party. Deckard threw one and another came back. The OGA contractors hit the ground but the enemy frag didn’t go off this time. Dumbass probably forgot to pull the pin while he was in some kind of battle haze.

Trey and his men finally arrived and began suppressing enemy positions, automatic fire tearing into the mud huts above them where they had seen muzzle flashes. Deckard pulled himself over the next terrace, Wes following after. As the CTPTs struggled their way up behind them, the Americans suddenly came under fire from their flank. Several terrorists popped up from a well concealed fighting position camouflaged into the side of the valley, raining PKM fire down around them.

Several CTPTs collapsed and rolled down the terraces as 7.62x54R bullets sought them out like angry hornets. Green tracer fire streamed through the orange hued valley as the sun began to sink below the horizon. Deckard slammed a fresh magazine into his mag well and dropped the bolt, chambering the first round. Without thinking twice, he jumped over the last terrace and dashed away.

“Deckard! What the fuck!”

Wes was furious, but Deckard didn’t hear him.

Moving towards the DShK, the red dot inside his gun sight hovered around the chest of a Haqqani terrorist, the AK in his hands already moving towards the American. Deckard quickly squeezed off two shots into his chest. A spray of crimson arced through the air as the bullets sliced through his heart. He collapsed in a cloud of dust. Deckard jumped over the body, got behind the aging Russian machine gun and swung the heavy barrel around towards the gun position up in the side of the valley.

Man handling the charging handle, he pressed down on the trigger and began slicing the enemy pillbox to pieces. The PKM up on the hill went silent, but more muzzle flashes were seeking him out. Deckard tried to turn the weapon on the mud huts were other Haqqani fighters were shooting from, but he was unable to traverse. The position had been carefully set in between two boulders.

Abandoning the machine gun, he charged towards the huts, hosing them down with suppressive fire from his M4. He spritined right across the ridge at the top of the valley where there was a narrow path, but he silloutted himself drawing fire from all across the valley. With his bolt locked back on a empty chamber, he dove down, squatting behind a rock to load his second to last magazine. He was out of the US-made frag grenades, but did have something special from OGA.

Taking a couple deep breaths, Deckard broke from cover for one final movement right up to the first hut. As he approached, he cracked off more shots from his M4 through the open door to his front. Coming up against the earthen wall, he reached into his kit and palmed what looked like a plastic black golf ball. Pulling the pin on the Dutch mini-frag, he tossed it through the door. It popped off with a muted explosion by comparison to the other grenades but would do the job inside inclosed spaced. Peeking inside, Deckard pumped a couple insurance shots into the body of a dead Haqqani fighter who had been inside.

Skirting around the side of the hut, he came to the next structure and repeated the process, fragging it. While he was making progress on the huts, he was isolated and alone. The enemy took notice and gunmen around both sides of the valley were now trying to vector in on him with their gun fire. The first mortar landed, but was hopelessly inaccurate, slaming into the reverse slope of the ridge he had just been on.

The automatic gunfire was now so intense that Deckard had to take refuge inside the third hut. Bullets were kicking up puffs of dirt all around him. Gasping for air, he suddenly wondered if he had made the right move by getting so far ahead of his team mates. The sun was going down, and the mortar fire was slowing behind walked in on his position.

That was when the A-10s finally showed up. The low grumbling BRRRRRRT of the aircrafts GAU-8 machine gun. Glancing downside, he saw the 30mm tearing through the frontlines of the enemy as the A-10 pilots did gun runs across the valley. No doubt Trey was talking to the pilots. In minutes, the enemy was off their backs again, running down the opposite side of the valley in hopes of surviving to fight another day.

Deckard strode out from the mud hut, locking and loading his final magazine. As he walked back to the terraces he overheard Wes yelling at Trey.

“Go find that kid,” he said angrily. “And wipe the fucking blood off his lips while you’re at it.”

“Deckard just so you are aware-”

The voice over the radio snapped me out of it. I was only about a third of the way through the job and had plenty of welds left to do.

“What is it?” I said back, frustrated, almost as if I had been disturbed in the middle of a dream.

“Fuck! Heads up, heads up!”

“What the fuck is it?” I demanded. The broco torch went silent as I turned it off, the helmet mounted flashlight cutting a column through the darkness.

“Jesus, half of the super structure just cut away, the crane went into the water!”

“What the fuck are you-”

But it was too late, my words cut off as I felt, rather than heard a giant sucking just behind me. My umbilical tugged, dragging me off the cross member and plunging me into the dark. Then it was severed and I lost my audio, video, and oxygen all at once. I was sinking to the bottom, unable to see, but knowing that I was tumbling end over end, down into sub-surface pressures that would quickly kill me.

I snarled in anger, and reached for my bail out bottle.

Read more exclusive excerpts at the Samruk International Facebook Group.

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SEAL Team Six: When War Crimes Become Standard Operating Procedure

In 2014 I wrote a novel called Direct Action about rogue SEAL Team Six operators.  The plot of the novel was a work of fiction, but within it I laid out a number of themes, anecdotes, and bits of information which were truthful.  Most of my novels are written to be fun reads for a audience that appreciates military fiction, and hopefully educates a little bit along the way.  Direct Action was different in that I wrote that particular book in order to speak to the choir.

It had been my hope that people within the Special Operations command structure would take notice, and realize that some things were leaking out even if it was disguised inside a work of fiction.  With luck, maybe someone would have taken action and begun to clean things up before the situation got even further out of hand.  In retrospect, I was naive.  These commands had already taken numerous steps to systematically cover up war crimes committed by SEAL Team Six.

I suppose it was inevitable.  The truth behind the matter has begun to emerge.  Over the last two years the New York Times published a few pieces eluding to a dark under current within the unit.  Yesterday, The Intercept published a story titled “The Crimes of SEAL Team Six” which gives a clear picture of how Dev Group operators carried hatchets onto objectives, disfigured the dead, recorded “bleed out” films, engaged in the practice of splitting skulls open, and much more.

I wish these things were merely a work of creative fiction, but no such luck.  What more motivation the Department of Defense needs to begin reforming this unit I cannot begin to fathom.  There are still darker secrets that have yet to be revealed in the media and it would be far better to take action now rather than drag this scandal out over the next decade as major media outlets publish story after story.

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The time has come…for a new author website

2017 is almost here and and I’ve decided that it is time for this website to get a make over done by an actual professional.  I threw this blog together myself back around 2010 after I got out of the Army while I was still writing my first novel, Reflexive Fire.  A lot has happened between then and now and this humble blog needs to be revamped in a bad way.

The new website should obviously be a better representation of myself and my work (yes, it’s my website so I won’t pretend that this isn’t partly a excercise in self indulgence) but I wanted to ask the readers out there if they have any special requests for features on the new site.  I’m sure there will be a blog, that I will try to write for monthly, some special features, freebies, etc.  What do you want to see on the site?  What do you like on the current site?  What should I get rid of forever?

In the meantime, please go take a look at the Facebook group I created for fans of the Deckard series where you can find some exclusive excerpts from the current novel in progress called Persona Non Grata.

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From Gray Matter Splatter to Persona Non Grata

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for making Gray Matter Splatter a huge success, especially everyone who reviewed the book on Amazon which is a huge help.  I had a great time writing it and it is a pleasure to see readers respond to it in such a positive way.

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For a long time I had been thinking about the 5th Deckard novel which would be titled Death Blossom.  First, I envisioned a book that takes Deckard across Iraq, Kurdistan, and Syria fighting ISIS.  By now I have personal experience reporting in the region and have spent time with the YPG in northern Syria, the Peshmerga in Kurdistan, and with the Syrian regime in Damascus (where I was able to interview President Assad) so it seemed like the natural book to write.  As time went on, I knew that ISIS was not long for this world and perhaps I should shift the focus of the book to the more long term threat posed by groups like al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.  Now things are moving quickly with major offensives on going in Mosul and Aleppo.  The situation on the ground is changing so quickly that my book would be outdated the moment I write it.

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I will go back to this subject in a future novel but for the time being I plan on moving my focus to another novel I had wanted to write, one which envisions a younger Deckard launching vigilante operations against human traffickers in the United States.  The title will be Persona Non Grata.  This year I attended the International Association for Human Trafficking Investigators conference and suffice to say that our prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and social workers are fighting a war right here at home.  It won’t be a easy book to write, but with my fiction I have always strived to shed some light on things that the public would rather not hear about.

In the meantime, I have been hard at work writing non-fiction pieces for SOFREP.com.  Much of my recent work has been focused on an ongoing debacle surrounding American covert action programs in Jordan and Turkey.  I have also been writing Special Forces history pieces including a in-depth article on Blue Light which was America’s first dedicated counter-terrorist unit.  Another history piece on the clandestine Special Forces unit based in Berlin during the Cold War called Detachment A remains unpublished, held up in a DOD review process as requested by the Green Berets I interviewed.  Hopefully, we can publish that one soon.

Until Christmas, you can read all of my articles on SOFREP.com for free.  You should also nose around the website and check out everything else written by our staff of Special Forces, CIA, SEAL, and Delta Force veterans.

 

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Samruk International Limited Edition Ball Cap and Signed Books!

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Hey everyone, go take a look at the order page for some shots of the new limited edition Samruk International ball cap I had made for the release of Gray Matter Splatter!  I also updated the page so you can order signed editions of the new novel as well.

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Gray Matter Splatter reviewed by Pete Nealen

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Jack Murphy definitely has a way with titles.  Gray Matter Splatter is a title that few could pull off, particularly in a day and age of nonsensical buzzword thriller titles like True Faith and Allegiance.

But Jack pulls it off, somehow.  Gray Matter Splatter is a breakneck bloodbath in the Arctic, a bit of a change of pace from the last couple Deckard installments.

Read the rest at American Praetorians.

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Researching Gray Matter Splatter

Researching Gray Matter Splatter took longer than the previous three novels combined.  In past books I was often writing about places where I had been deployed to as a soldier, visited as a tourist, or reported from as a journalist.  In other cases, they were countries I at least had some passing familiarity with.  In any case, I at least understood urban combat tactics and such, but in this case I came into the research process knowing very little about the Arctic and next to nothing about winter warfare.

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It was only by consulting with a number of experts on the arctic, including active duty soldiers from America and allied nations, that I was able to begin putting together the pieces and then augment this with my own research.  In this post I will lay out some of the books and websites I found most helpful while writing Gray Matter Splatter.  This can also serve as a virtual library for those who read the novel and are interested in learning more about Arctic warfare and geo-politics.

Books:

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills

New Strategic Dynamics of Arctic Region: implications for national security and international cooperation

Polar Imperative

Project Cold Feet: Secret Mission to a Soviet Ice Station

The Hundred Year Marathon

The Modern Mercenary

Cyber Silhouettes: Shadows Over Information Operations

Websites:

Russia’s plans for Arctic supremacy 

Bring back the Privateers

Russian military bases in the Arctic

Canada’s Arctic Station: Alert

Polar orbiting satellites

Off shore oil drilling in Alaska

Arctic ice floes

New Canadian Arctic base

2001 Arctic report

Ellesmere Island

Camp Century

Other resources:

Camp Century documentary

The Northern Warfare Training Center in Alaska also has a great website with many Field Manuals that can be downloaded at PDF files.

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