Now a preview from Issue #4, PROMIS: Lebanon:
Spirals of black smoke rose above the ruins, back lit by the occasional stream of tracer fire.
The city looked like a sick experiment in pre-emptive archeology, human civilization dashed against the rocks well ahead of its time. What was left in the wake of war were the hollowed out remains of what had once been human dwellings. Shattered concrete cast ragged shadows with twisting metal rebar poking out in all directions. Human forms darted between buildings in the night, pausing only long enough to return fire at enemies, real or perceived, in the darkness.
At the shore front, the captain of the small ship cast a line to the dock hand that had been waiting on them since they ran naval blockade, coming in from Cyprus. Lashing the boat to the dock, a suspect looking wooden plank was lowered for the travelers to cross on.
Slinging his pack, Sean Deckard stepped across the gangplank and into another war zone.
He’d prevented a war in South Africa only to be rewarded with another. Smelling the heavy stench in the air, he knew this one would be different. Automatic gunfire thundered, echoing down the streets. RPG’s thudded somewhere in the distance. A single shot reverberated across the urban battlefield, the muzzle blast sounding as if it originated everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.
The sounds of war greeted him home.
James hefted an oblong dufflebag and carried it off the boat to stand next to the American.
“Here we go again, mate.”
Robin picked up his own bag and joined them, running a hand through his sand colored hair.
“Think this is what Jo-Burg will look like in a few years?”
The awkward silence was broken by another sniper shot off in the distance.
“Probably,” James and Sean answered at the same time.
“Jo-Burg and the rest of the goddammed world,” Sean said, spitting the words.
“Just stay locked on a little while longer,” James cautioned. His friend had been fuming since the three of them had been exiled from South Africa. Sean was quieter than usual, and it was clear that murder was on his mind. Normal men were dangerous in that sort of mental state. Abnormal men like Sean were a human wrecking ball once they derailed. James would know, he’d done hard time for it himself. “We do our job and let Gert do his. When this is over, we will go and find her. Together.”
“I think this is us,” Sean said, nodding towards a jeep that had pulled up in front of the docks, successfully changing the subject.
Gert told them that once the team hit the ground that one of his deep cover operatives would meet them. His code name was Afonso, a former South African intelligence officer who worked external operations, mostly intelligence gathering. The code name was probably a reference to his Portuguese origins. Not every South African was a Boer after all.
“Nice night for a stroll in the park,” Sean said as he approached their contact men. James and Robin remained a cautious distance behind him, their hands sliding inside their bags for weapons, just in case it went south.
“But it does not look like a nice night for a swim in the ocean,” the contact responded with the correct bonafides.
Sean waved his teammates forward.
“Get in,” Afonso ordered, the squat man cocking his round head towards the jeep.
The three commandos tossed their bags into the open-top jeep and piled in.
“Where now?” Robin asked.
“Don’t worry,” Afonso said. “I’ve got a safe house not far from here.”
Shifting into gear, the intelligence officer gunned it down the street, zigzagging across the road to avoid debris as much as incoming fire.
Five minutes later another jeep pulled up to the docks. A young South African approached the dock hands, slipping some money into their palms as he asked about three new arrivals. The boatmen told him that they had just departed with someone else.
The South African looked exasperated.
He had been late only because of a militia checkpoint that had kept him delayed. He had a relationship established and arrangements made, but at the last minute they had detained him and detained him just long enough to make sure he missed his contact time with the team.
Getting back into his jeep he stared at the windshield for a moment, contemplating his next move. Why hadn’t Gert’s Directorate-K team waited for him? If they didn’t leave with their contact then who in the hell had they left with?
Brian Feirra, code name Afonso, shook his head.
What the hell was going on?
An incoming mortar round exploded in the ocean not fifty meters from the dock. The spray of water rained back down around the shore, reminding him why a simple plan had turned to bat-shit at the last possible moment.
Any damned thing could happen in a city like Beirut.