Chapter One

The garrote wire slid silently under the sentry’s chin.

With an aggressive yank on the piano wire, the Colombian was snapped backwards into the jungle underbrush, his rifle falling from limp fingers onto the manicured lawn.

The large palm leaves reaching over the yard shook for the briefest of moments before going still, and the birds began to chirp again, blissfully unaware of the killing below. The assassin reached out from his concealed position, reaching for the M4 carbine the cartel henchman had dropped.

The killer shrugged into the sentry’s black combat vest adorned with extra magazines and then pulled the dead man’s ball cap over his head. The Colombian belonged to asesino, as they called themselves. The personal bodyguard of Colombia’s most wanted man.

From his vantage point he could see two sides of the villa, an expansive fortress built into the almost impenetrable jungle mountains. The compound could only be accessed by winding roads lined with villages and ranches, bought and paid for with cartel money and guarded by cartel check points.

A careful scan of the fortress revealed several teenage girls splashing each other in one of the three in ground pools on the property but no other guards in the immediate area. Emerging from the jungle, the interloper turned his newly acquired M4 rifle over, his hands drawing the bolt back to insure that a round was in the chamber.

It looked as if money talked and bullshit walked.

The Ramirez cartel apparently had enough cash on hand to arm its paramilitary force with better weapons and equipment then many soldiers in the US Army were issued, the M4 being a short barrel version of the carbine and outfitted with a holographic reflex optic for close quarter shooting.

Looking down at his watch, he could see the numbers ticking down.

For now he would hide in plain sight while attempting to locate his objective. As he moved along side the sculpted hedges, he knew that his disguise would not stand under scrutiny for long due to his being nearly a head taller then most Colombians.

He had to work fast.

Approaching the villa the assassin heard voices coming down the wide stairs that led up to the second floor. Leaning against the wall he held the M4 at the ready, listening to two voices converse back and forth. His Spanish was rusty but he could pick out that they were talking about having someone shot. Maybe this was Mr. Murder himself, Ramirez. The extra footsteps the assassin heard must belong to his bodyguards.

Whatever the case, the drug lord wasn’t his concern at the moment. Waiting for the party to arrive pool side, he disappeared into an alcove that contained a short flight of stone stairs heading into the basement.

Stepping carefully across the tile floor, he arrived in a kind of underground grotto complete with fake stone walls and hanging vines over a indoor pool. Stalactites made of artificial rock hung from the ceiling over the pool and an adjoining hot tube that bubbled with a low hum, waiting for another Colombian beauty from Ramirez’ harem.

He hoped his target was down here somewhere because there was no way he was going to search the entire villa uncontested. It was just a question of when.

* * *

Pat sat with his back against the wall listening to the buzzing of several flies circling overhead. Every now and again one of them dropped down to make a dive bombing run on his head, causing him to flinch away.

Across from him J-Rod wasn’t looking so hot.

As far as he could tell, none of them made it to the drop zone. He had managed to link up with J-Rod and Mark after stumbling through the jungle for several hours. With the Narco traffickers on their trail, they had been unable to put distance between themselves and the enemy, not with J-Rod’s fractured ankle.

He and Mark had taken turns carrying him, but it was only a matter of time before they made contact. Mark was dead, he knew that much for sure. He could only imagine what had become of the rest of the team; then on second thought he would rather not.

Now they sat in a concrete cell belonging to the Ramirez Cartel.

Waiting.

The Delta Operator looked through the iron bars at the two guards lounged back in their chairs listening to the radio, rifles propped carelessly against the wall. It could be a while until his government negotiated terms of release with the cartel. As a soldier captured in the course of what was to be a covert operation he had become the best political bargaining chip a criminal, terrorist, or dictator could ask for.

He had become Khrushchev’s Gary Powers, and there would almost certainly be a reckoning.

Constantly drilled to objectively critique the performance of himself and his fellow soldiers from the beginning of his military career, Pat kept rehashing the events in his mind over and over again. What could he have done differently? No. He forced himself to concentrate on his current situation. They had to focus on escape.

He turned his back to the guards as both of them looked up, eyes towards the corridor leading deeper into the Villa’s basement. Someone down the hall was saying something in muffled Spanish.

“A worker is asking for help with the pool,” J-Rod whispered. “Something is wrong with one of the pumps,” he said, finishing the translation.

Once again Pat damned the Army for deciding he should learn Thai when he spent all his time in the Middle East and South America.

One of the guards got to his feet, grumbling something that needed no translation and headed down the corridor.

Pat leaned back against the wall. It was more then just a little disconcerting that the drug lord had a small private prison under his villa. There were several other cells. The floor and walls stank with the blood and feces left behind by former inmates. This wasn’t his first rodeo. If it came to that and he couldn’t find a way to escape, he’d be damned if he let a similar fate happen to himself or J-Rod.

With his head down, a new guard came walking out of the corridor, his blue ball cap obscuring his face. Even though Pat had his watch confiscated by the cartel gunmen during his capture, he knew that the guards rotated in two hour shifts, this guy being about an hour early.

The guard listening to the radio looked up at the newcomer and must have sensed that something was wrong. He attempted to get to his feet but never made it. The stranger struck first.

With his hand creating a knife cutting edge, he jabbed his fingers into the indentation under the guard’s larynx depriving the Colombian gunman of oxygen, Pat recognizing a basic atemi. With the guard already gasping for air, he easily put him into a choke hold until he passed out. The newcomer locked the hold in place as the man’s face turned blue. He didn’t seem worried about the second guard coming back any time soon.

Easing the corpse back down onto the chair the stranger turned towards the prisoners.

“Deckard?” Pat said, squinting his eyes. “Is that you?”

“Hey, Patrick,” he replied, approaching the cell.

“Who the hell are you?” J-Rod demanded. “Where is the rest of the rescue team?”

“They called up the best and the brightest for you guys,” Deckard replied. “But their risk mitigation worksheet had an improper heading on it, so they are still grounded on the tarmac at Ft. Bragg. You got me instead.”

“Who is this guy?” J-Rod demanded.

“The guy who was available,” Pat answered. The younger Delta operator had been expecting an entire squadron of fellow Delta operators, backed up by a battalion of Army Rangers, not some guy wearing a Televida ball cap.

“We need to hurry. The Agency is jumping the gun and sending the Colombian military to crash the party. We only have a few minutes to clear the area.”

“The guy with the cell keys is upstairs,” Pat said, not wasting any time. “He opens the cell when they bring us food. Saw him down here an hour ago when the guard shift changed.”

“What does he look like?”

“Curly hair, mustache; today he’s wearing jeans and Michael Jackson T-shirt.”

Deckard looked at him sideways.

Pat shrugged as a halfhearted response.

“The rest of the team?”

Pat shook his head. “One dead, don’t know about the rest.”

Nodding his understanding, Deckard turned towards the stairwell leading upstairs. There wasn’t anything else to say. Leaving the dead behind was a tough pill to swallow, but intellectually Pat knew it was the only option. The Colombian military could recover the bodies later even if he couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud.

Picking up a small shaving mirror that lay on the stool next to the radio, Deckard used it to peer up the stairs from behind cover, looking signs of the enemy. Satisfied with what he saw, he moved up the stairs, M4 rifle leading the way.

“You know that guy?” J-Rod asked, while they waited helplessly in their cell.

“Yeah, we were in the same unit for a while.”

“Who does he work for now?”

“Fuck should I know,” Pat grunted, “and if he gets us out of here, I don’t care.”

Hearing a series of bumps, they turned to see Deckard dragging their jail keeper down the stairs, his heavy cowboy boots clunking down every step as Deckard held him under each arm. All three of them winced at the noise even though no one else could hear it over the radio, still blasting salsa music. Finally he set him down next to the other corpse, the dead man’s faded Michael Jackson shirt pulled up over his hairy belly.

The asesino member’s throat bore a ragged wound that looked to have sliced completely through his windpipe and carotid arteries, dark crimson stains now obscuring Michael Jackson’s visage.

“Right front pocket,” Pat informed him.

Deckard dug around and came up with a key ring, the cell key being an old fashioned type for warded locks. Turning the key, Deckard swung open the barred door, wincing for a second time at the sound the rusty hinges made. J-Rod limped out with Pat supporting him with one arm.

“How bad are you?” Deckard asked, giving him a once over.

J-Rod was white in the face. His ankle was blown up like a soft ball.

“I can manage.”

“Its a fracture,” Pat clarified. “We aren’t going anywhere fast.”

“I might have a way cleared out for us.”

Deckard disappeared back into the corridor, stepping over the body of the first prison guard he eliminated. Reaching for the door, he could hear the laughs and shouts of the two girls who he had seen in the outdoor pool, now joined by several male voices.

Hurrying back to the prison, he looked back up the stairs.

“What’s up?” Pat asked.

“That way is no good, too many people in the grotto.”

“The grotto?”

“I don’t think you’re invited.”

Deckard crept back up the steps.

J-Rod propped himself up against the wall while Pat handed him one of the unattended rifles and picked up the other for himself. No extra magazines, but the situation was already looking better than it had a few minutes ago.

Coming up the steps, Deckard was crouched at the top motioning for them to stop. Quickly looking under the bannister and into the room, Pat could see that the cartel don had spared no expense. It was a formal sitting room lined with mahogany walls, Italian leather furniture, and a large plasma screen television on which another guard was now watching a muted AC Milan game.

Rolling up his left sleeve, Pat saw that Deckard was using an interesting but somewhat anachronistic weapon, a garrote wire. On his left wrist Deckard wore a leather bracelet around which was wrapped some medium gauge piano wire that led to a small wooden dowel on the other end. At the moment the dowel was held in place by a rubber band on the bracelet.

Releasing the rubber band, the dowel fell away as Deckard unrolled the piano wire wrapped around the bracelet. It was a technique the Delta operator had never seen before, most garrote wires, as commonly thought of were two wooden handholds attached by a few feet of wire. Deckard’s was one handhold, the other secured around the leather bracelet which would protect the wrist.

Remaining in a crouch Deckard moved heel to toe, gaining ground over an immaculate Persian carpet while keeping his target in sight. Only a highly skilled operator could stalk within striking distance to make a nearly silent kill with such a weapon. Pat considered the garrote obsolete; these days weapons manufacturers had entire secret divisions of their production facilities dedicated to developing proprietary weapons for Delta, DevGroup, and the CIA, such as subsonic ammunition and guns with integrated sound suppressors.

In the pit of his stomach Pat knew Deckard didn’t have access to such hardware because he was simply making all this up on the fly.

Successfully reaching striking range without alerting the guard, Deckard came to a high crouch, his left hand hovering just behind the guard’s neck. The Colombian cartel heavy grunted at something on the television as the American flipped the garotte wire over the man’s head with his right hand.

Deckard immediately pressed his left hand with the wire attached to his wrist against the back of the guard’s neck while simultaneously powering straight back with his right hand, grasping the garrote’s handhold in an iron grip. It was a virtually instantaneous and silent kill.

While he lowered the body to the ground, the Delta men climbed the rest of the way up the stairs. Deckard rewound the garrotte wire around his wrist. Taking the rifle off his shoulder by the sling, Deckard eased open one of the sitting room’s two doors, knowing he had to backtrack through the mansion to find a suitable exit.

Deckard shook his head at the further signs of tasteless extravagance. The next room appeared to be a large open air entertainment area with more television screens mounted everywhere and an artificial waterfall trickling down one wall. More asesino members were sitting and standing around the screens watching the soccer game, a few shouting at something happening in the match.

Blinking a few times to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, Deckard watched another cartel member walk into the room from outside, guiding a large black jaguar on a chain leash. Ramirez was known to maintain a private zoo, yet another sign of wealth and status, but this was starting to look like a movie set.

On reconsideration, maybe that was the point.

There was no backing down now. They had to get out and didn’t have time for anything slick before the assault began.

Ignoring the squad of men standing around the plasma screens for a moment, the Deckard sighted in on the Jaguar handler. The Columbian was telling the others in Spanish that the boss wanted the animal around during the party. With the red dot in the M4’s holographic reflex sight hovering on the animal handler’s chest, the former soldier gently squeezed the trigger.

The handler spun around with the strike of the 5.56 bullet impacting his chest, the chain leash falling to the ground before the handler dropped. The other guards turned from their game, their minds still processing the unexpected. Exploiting their hesitation, Deckard swept the muzzle across the room from left to right, firing into the center mass of each gunman he could index, a few missed shots shattering the wide screens behind them.

The jaguar let out a blood curdling roar that instantly filled the room as one of the guards struggled to his feet, tearing a Beretta pistol from his holster. Now agitated and masterless, the jaguar did what large predators do best. Moving like liquid across the floor, he gained momentum before jumping onto the back of the asesino gunmen, large paws straddling his shoulders, claws sinking deep into the flesh.

The Colombian let out a scream of his own as the ebony jungle cat easily wrestled him to the ground. The last the gunmen shouldered his own rifle and took aim at the jungle cat.

Deckard blasted the guy twice in the chest for targeting an endangered species.

The trio tiptoed around the bodies and the jaguar to the next room, emerging in a wide foyer with a row of marble columns on each side. The Ramirez villa was like some kind of bizarre fun house someone with a bad sense of humor had dropped in the middle of the rain forest.

By now the small army was alerted to the prison break, and armed men began pouring through the doorway on the other side of the foyer.

Deckard sprinted towards cover, Pat taking longer as he helped J-Rod hop behind one of the pillars. Pivoting at the hips to expose as little of himself as possible, Deckard indexed one of the enemy shooters coming through the door on the opposite side of the room. He fired, several rounds punching through the man’s face and dropping him, his head bouncing off the ground like a basketball.

Ducking back behind cover, he took a knee, changing his elevation as he engaged an enemy behind the opposite row of columns. A burst from the Colombian’s MP5 sub-machine gun broke apart large pieces of the pillar Deckard was behind as he returned fire, walking several rounds across the shooter’s neck and head in an aerosol spray of blood.

The sustained bursts from one of the Delta operator’s ceased just as he heard Pat call out to him.

“I’m black!”

Reaching down Deckard tore a magazine from his combat vest and slid it across the floor to Pat’s position. Snatching up the full magazine Pat expertly reloaded his weapon and continued to fire, this time at a gunmen above them on the balcony.

Sensing movement, the former soldier realigned his sights towards the open doorway just as another gunman came rushing through, oblivious to the situation he had stumbled into. Pat, J-Rod, and Deckard simultaneously triggered bursts that riddled the man with holes before depositing him on the marble floor, a pool of blood quickly growing under him.

With the bolt of his M4 locked back on an empty chamber, Deckard quickly recharged his weapon while nodding towards the french doors that led out towards the pool where he had made his infiltration from. Helping J-Rod to his feet, they moved towards their exit as shouts could be heard deeper in the villa.

Clearing the french doors, the three men began down the wide stairs to the lawn. The humidity hit them like a brick wall, the smell of the adjacent jungle was strong outside.

Halfway down the steps, Deckard cringed at the sound of gunfire, anticipating enemy bullets that never came. Spinning around he saw both of the Delta men leaning over the railing, raining down a hail storm of lead. Below, several of the Don’s bodyguards were exchanging gunfire with them from the entrance to the grotto.

Two bodies were already piled on top of each other in the doorway, a third man vying to join them as he wildly fired his Uzi one handed. Stepping beside them Deckard flipped the selector switch on his rifle to automatic and laid on a brief salvo of fire, causing the gunman to duck back down into the passage.

Marble chips tore across his booted foot as an enemy gunshot narrowly missed. Looking over his shoulder, Deckard focused on an cartel gunmen scurrying around the drug lord’s helicopter like ants around an ant hill on the far side of the gardens, several of them taking pot shots with pistols and sub-machine guns.

Fast work. The pilot must have been under orders to kick the rotors the moment any shooting began, to prepare for the Don’s escape. Kneeling, Deckard carefully aimed at one of the two hundred and fifty meter targets. Squeezing the trigger, he watched as one of the gunmen went down, his hands flailing in the air.

The rotors on the helicopter were beginning to gain momentum, but the pilot couldn’t leave until they had Ramirez safely aboard, and that wasn’t happening with the Delta men pinning him down with suppressive fire, effectively trapping him in the grotto.

With another bullet zipping over his head, Deckard shot the second gunmen in front of the helicopter, the single rifle round coring through his neck before bouncing off one of his vertebrae and creating a fist sized exit wound on its way out the back.

Turning his attention on the helicopter, he began spraying fire across the pilot’s windshield. It would have made for the perfect escape in slightly different circumstances. Deckard could fly a small single engine plane, but attempting to fly the helicopter would be nothing short of a death wish. With the windshield beginning to spiderweb from the pounding of 5.56 rounds he resigned himself to the fact that if they weren’t leaving, neither was Ramirez.

Suddenly the aircraft exploded in a plume of orange fire that rose into the air, the entire fuselage lifting off the ground under a tower of fire. The helicopter crashed down on the concrete helipad, the blast washing over them as a larger Blackhawk attack helicopter peeled off from its gun run with another coming in right behind it.

Above them they could hear more gunfire, followed by shattering glass as Ramirez’s private army began firing on the Colombian military helicopters from the villa’s second floor.

The second Blackhawk nosed up into the air at a vicious angle before seeming to crest an invisible ridge like a roller coaster. Now the pilot brought the helicopter screaming down towards the villa, opening fire with 2.75 inch Hydra rockets, and strafing the entire side of the building.

The concussion shook the ground beneath the Americans feet sending them ducking for cover as glass and cement showered down from above, the rockets pounded into the mansion. The settable fuses on the rockets allowed them to detonate somewhere deeper in the mansion, flames erupting from the windows above them. Gunfire could still be heard sporadically, but it was clear that the gunship had significantly reduced the enemy’s numbers.

Groaning as he got back to his feet, Deckard brushed concrete dust and glass shards off his shoulders.

“Aw, fuck,” J-Rod groaned.

Like a giant dragonfly, they could hear the rotor blades buzzing through the air. Someone had cleared the twin gunships for immediate re-attack. However, across the lawn Deckard could see the silhouette of someone up on top of what had been the maintenance shed for Ramirez’s helicopter. The large caliber anti-material rifle the man lugged onto the roof was unmistakeable even at a distance.

As the AH-60L helicopter lined up for another gun run, the cartel sniper opened fire; .50 caliber Raufous rounds echoed across the compound with each shot. The exploding anti-armor incendiary rounds flashed with each strike against the helicopter’s metal fuselage.

Seeing the splash off the helicopter’s fuselage, the sniper continued the lay the fire on, each shot rocking the barrel to the rear on its internal recoil absorbing springs until the ten round magazine had been exhausted. Getting closer to its objective, the Blackhawk amazingly seemed to withstand the barrage of gunfire, if only for a moment.

Deckard and the two Delta operator’s turned and stumbled back into the villa as smoke began to billow from the rear rotor, the gunship literally going into a tail spin. The pilot desperately auto-rotated the aircraft the entire way down to the ground before it smashed into the ground and spun onto it’s side.

Rolling over, the rotors chewed into the grass lawn before they broke off into pieces, flying as red hot shrapnel, a few landing in one of the above ground pools with a hiss of steam.

With the wreckage of the first AH-60L still smoking, the second bird continued its assault, walking a line of .30 caliber fire from its M230 chain gun across the top of the maintenance shed in a single stunted burst. Sustained fire from the heavy machine gun created a yawing effect when long bursts were fired, the recoil pushing the aircraft of target making shorter burst necessary.

The blast caught the sniper completely exposed and tearing him to pieces, leaving nothing but cauterized flesh and a red vapor mist as evidence of his presence just a second before.

With J-Rod limping along with agony spilling across his face, Deckard ran up behind and didn’t give him the chance to protest as he threw the operator into a fireman’s carry.

“Take point,” he said to Pat, as they dashed through the foyer.

Pat nodded, stripping another fresh magazine from Deckard’s combat vest.

The foyer took up the entire center of the villa, the now pockmarked marble columns standing in front of a half dozen shelves containing what Deckard hoped were just forgeries of Inca artifacts. The stone faces glared at them as they ran passed through shattered display cases. More buzzing, more muffled gunfire could be heard outside.

The three men shouldered their way through the front door to find another two Blackhawks hovering outside. These were transport helicopters, buzzing like giant bubble bees over the front lawn and driveway. Behind the pilots in the cargo area, rope masters were giving the order to drop ropes.

The thick, green nylon fast ropes were dropped from the helicopters, the excess coiling below on the ground under the spinning rotors. With the rope hanging from a boom attached to the side of the helicopter, camouflage clad counter terrorist soldiers from Colombia’s Agrupacion De Fuerzas Especiales Urbanas began sliding down, like they were on a fire pole.

The Americans didn’t waste any time watching the commandos descending on the drug lord’s villa. They ran directly for the oblong warehouse made out of corrugated metal, the garage doors giving away its purpose.

Running down the steps, Pat quickly led them into the hedges, careful to keep them out of sight from the commando team. From the initial gun runs on the villa, it was clear that the AFEU were weapons hot for this operation. Deckard followed with J-Rod over his shoulders, manipulating his M4 with one hand as best he could while holding the Delta operator’s legs with the other.

Pat approached the side entrance to the parking garage, finding the large metal door already partly ajar. Stepping inside they found themselves in total darkness, stumbling around as intermittent gunfire blasted somewhere on the compound.

Setting J-Rod down on his good foot, Deckard and Pat began sweeping around in the darkness for a light switch. Suddenly the overhead lights blasted on, causing them squint as their eyes attempted to readjust.

The automatic gunfire was deafening as the sound reverberated off the walls. Hitting the cement floor, a fusillade of rifle rounds punched through the thin metal wall behind Deckard as he rolled behind the wheel well of a 1966 Shelby Mustang.

Pat followed Deckard’s lead, taking cover next to him, J-Rod crawling behind a Camaro.

“Lights!” Deckard yelled.

The three Americans aimed towards the ceiling, systematically shooting out the florescent bulbs above and around them, creating shadows deep enough to hide in. Hearing a gruff voice barking orders from the other side of the garage, it was clear enough what had happened.

After heading off Ramirez and his lackeys at the grotto, and the Colombian military depriving him of his escape plan, Ramirez had the same idea they did, double backing and finding another means to make a getaway.

Deckard pulled free his final 5.56 magazine and slid it across the ground to J-Rod.

“Keep them occupied. We’ll envelope.”

The Delta men nodded, J-Rod getting to a knee and putting a few suppressive shots down range to give the enemy something to think about. Breaking off, Pat went left and Deckard went right, staying behind cover whenever possible and sticking to the shadows when it wasn’t.

Sliding up alongside a Ferrari, Deckard could hear J-Rod sending volleys of fire towards the drug lord and his bodyguards. All he had to do was keep their heads down long enough for his teammates to get into position. Moving in a crouch, he continued to make his way to the other end of the garage, weaving his way through Ramirez’s car collection.

Breaking a corner around another Ferrari, he spotted one of the gunmen taking refuge behind a BMW convertible, fixed in position by J-Rod snapping rounds over his head. Taking aim, Deckard was ready to make a head shot from less then ten feet away when the Ferrari rocked up and down on its suspension, glass showering both him and the gunmen.

Dozens of holes suddenly appeared in the roof, spilling laser like beams of daylight into the darkness of the garage. Somewhere above them the Blackhawk gunship must have been made aware of shots fired inside the garage and took action to protect the Colombian assault team outside.

Hundred thousand dollar sports cars were stitched from fiberglass hood to trunk by 30mm autofire, crumpling frames and shattering windows, the massive holes seeming to appear from nowhere. Utilizing the opportunity, Deckard fired. Acting on muscle memory, he put the round right through the bridge of the bodyguard’s nose, effectively dropping his target to the ground.

Edging deeper into the warehouse, he picked up the pace as the large bore automatic cannon above tore through the roof as if it wasn’t even there. From the sound of J-Rod lowering his rate of fire to just a shot every few seconds, he knew he had to act quick. J-Rod was almost black on rounds.

At the last row of classic cars he lay down on his side, looking under the frame of the cars for any bad guys, finding one foolishly kneeing down on the cement and occasionally firing a shot or two, attempting to seek out J-Rod’s position. Lying on his side, Deckard swung the M4 up horizontally to his shoulder and lined up the red dot sight on the man’s ankle. Triggering a single shot, the Colombian fell to the ground howling, allowing Deckard to easily deliver a fatal shot to the back of his head, spraying a wash of gore across the floor.

Another crack sounded as Pat fired on someone, just as another salvo came bursting through the rooftop from above.

Swinging out around the vehicle on one knee, Deckard gained target acquisition on the nearest asesino standing a few meters behind the corpse he has just made. His finger was tightening around the trigger when a crash thundered down in front of him, throwing him on his backside. With his finger on the trigger he accidentally discharged a round into the air.

The man had been split end from end, a 30mm round tearing down through the ceiling had sliced through flesh and bone, cracking him open like a lobster. Two arms and a leg could be made out amid the intestines strewn out across the floor, but that was about all that was recognizable. Deckard swallowed. His nose filled with the sickly smell of blood, he realized he had been hosed with bits of bone and blood.

Wearing khakis and a collared shirt left open to reveal a large gold cross, Ramirez sat at the edge of the pool of blood. His pistol lay at his side while he had both hands on his forehead, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

Snarling at the turn of events, Deckard got to his feet as Ramirez’s face suddenly bulged outwards, the back of his head disappearing as it was taken off by a gunshot. At this point Deckard was so deaf he didn’t even register the shot. The drug lord collapsed backwards, his blood mixing with that of his late comrade.

“Mission complete,” a voice said from the darkness.

Deckard spun toward the sound.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Pat said stepping out of the shadows.

The action continues in Chapter Two

8 responses to “Chapter One

  1. Great chapter, Jack.

    “Deckard blasted the guy twice in the chest for targeting an endangered species.”

    ROFL! Now that’s a memorable line that has GOT to survive whatever revisions you make!

  2. Thanks for reading Hank. Yes, everything is going to get re-written, edited, and proof read before I put the book out for publication but I put the draft up for exactly this reason. I wanted to get some feedback on the content to see what people like or dislike. I appreciate the commentary, it gives me a idea of what direction I should take moving forward with the book.

  3. Shame all those fine automobiles had to get perforated, though. 😦 Too bad that drug lord didn’t have a fetish for Scions and Hyundais and Peugots (oh my!).

    I’ll read more and comment as I find time, Jack. I can tell from this rough draft this will be a good read.

  4. Yeah, maybe a warehouse full of hybrids and Prius’ getting hosed by the attack helicopter…I’ll save that for another book. Thanks for reading so carefully. I look forward to your feedback, I’ll definitely incorporate thoughts and ideas from readers into the final version.

  5. Robert Chevrette

    “The garotte wire slide silently under the sentry’s chin.”

    And with that starts off one hell of an action-packed chapter. I wish more novels started out like this! And of course, your old time fans know that this mystery man is Deckard, ready to kick ass and take names.

    Man, there were a lot of great action descriptions in this chapter, as well as some great dialogue between Deckard and the soldiers he is saving.

    I agree with Henry Brown,…the line about the “endangered species” made me laugh.

    I also like the mention of Gary Powers, the spy plane pilot (called a U2 plane, wasn’t it?) who was shot down and captured in the former USSR and how you compare it to the soldier’s predicament.

    I enjoyed the quirky descriptive moments, as well, such as one of the soldiers noting the “Telemundo” baseball cap that Deckard is wearing.

    I learned some new terminology, too. The soldier shouts “I’m black!” to Deckard, who tosses him an ammo mag,….and then Deckard notes that one of them is almost “black on rounds”. So obviously that is some SF slang for being out of ammo. Your writing isn’t only entertaining, it’s educational, too! Lol.

    I also liked how Deckard solves the “stove-pipe” problem with the CZ-75
    pistol, using the steering wheel to cycle the slide and eject the spent casing because he was using his other hand to steer. I’ve seen several magazine articles talking about methods of solving jams and reloading one-handed so it was cool to see someting similar in your story.

    I noticed two or three minor spelling mistakes, but nothing major. I’m sure you’ll fix them during the revision/rewrite.

    Nothing else to say except it was a kick-ass chapter that I totally enjoyed. A solid beginning to Deckard’s latest adventure. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks for reading Rob. I defintely want people to get what they pay for, not five hundred pages of politics for a ten page shoot out at the end of the book. If you are writing Action-Adventure the first line of the book should read like, “Joe ducked as auto-fire chopped the foliage above his head.” You know, that kind of thing.

      Quirky is definitely a good term to describe Deckard. He isn’t Captain America by any means which was something I want to get across with the first chapter that introduces him.

      Any squad or team that works together closely develops their own Standard Operating Procedures, yelling “I’m black” during a firefight is something anyone is the special operation community would be familiar with. Also, I think I have more then just one or two spelling errors in this chapter but, yeah, I will definitely get that fixed before this thing goes to print.

  6. Zafgak

    rf – any action movie worth its salt has to start with “body count” and any action adventure must be the same.

    A stonking good start to a novel, had to laugh at the “endangered species” line. This is what action adventure is all about – body count, one liners and a broken hero !!!!

    All in all 10 points bud…

  7. Thanks for reading Zafgak!

    I agree, with the first chapter you really need to tell readers what the book is about. The very first line should be about a bad guy getting what is coming to him. Glad you enjoyed it.

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