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Tag Archives: action-adventure
Now that I’m in the final stages of finalizing the cover and back cover art, I am announcing the release date for Direct Action. Look for it on the 21st of February in both paperback and ebook formats. I can’t know exact pricing for the paperback until the book is constructed, but expect it to be very similar to the previous two books. Probably $15 for the paperback and $4 for the ebook.
I’m excited about the release and look forward to the response. Some people are going to be seriously offended by the content of the book and many will want to string me up for it. But I didn’t write Direct Action for shock value, the book is directly influenced by factual events. My previous novels were about writing the ultimate action adventure tale but Direct Action is different. This book is about sending a message to a very particular and specific group of people. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I had friends tell me that I would be killed simply for investigating the subjects I wrote about in this book. There is a lot of money, prestige, power, and legacy tied up in these events, and some people will do anything to cover up criminal activities.
Lets move on to somewhat better news.
Fans have been asking me for Deckard/Samruk International hats, t-shirts, ect for a long time now. The hats and patches are both on their way. Here are some preview shots for those interested.
They will both be offered on this website sometime later this month so stay tuned for that. Again, I’m excited to finally release Direct Action and get it into reader’s hands. I think it is my best written, and most important, book to date. Deckard will return for book #4, but right now I’m going to be focused on finishing up college over the summer and a few other projects I have going on. For instance, after the release of Direct Action I will be working on the release of a Danish SOF operator’s memoir which I’ve been having translated into English. I’ve also got some great articles planned for SOFREP.com that I need to get cracking on.
The exfil was more like a all expenses paid vacation. Liquid Sky quickly forgot that they were still on a mission, relaxing on the pump boats that ferried them south. All of their kit was sunk to the bottom of the ocean the moment the opportunity presented itself. Their pilot had headed for the South China Sea where he could hide out for a while. The assault team took a separate route, using a ratline that Ramon had established prior to them arriving in the Philippines.
They were called banka boats and were used for fishing and as water taxis between the various islands in the Philippines. The Liquid Sky mercenaries sipped on beer and worked on their tan while they were transported in a lazy, winding path that took them generally south. Unlike air travel or even vehicle traffic, maritime transportation was the least monitored and allowed for low-visibility movements over long distances.
After a week of cruising alongside some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, they island hopped over to Sabah in Malaysia where their pilot met them on an airfield in his Twin Otter. From there they flew back to Dawin, Australia.
Back at the staging site, Bill ordered his two non-performers to tear apart the mock up of the objective. Rick for failing in the simulator and Paul for failing to make it to the target during the mission. They grudgingly went about their task. The others prepared for an epic beer blast. The pilot and the technician who ran the simulator for them were both invited.
That night all the wood from the mockup was piled up and set ablaze.
The technician was coerced into drinking a bottle of vodka. Zach was less successful in coercing Nadeesha to give the tech a lap dance but eventually she relented. Cheers went up as she began grinding on his crouch. The beer and liquor was flowing and everyone was finally relaxing for the first time in weeks. The technician promptly stood up as Nadeesha was rubbing his face in her cleavage. She fell into the grass as the gentlemen stood with a big dumb smile on his face as he projectile vomited a half gallon of vodka into the bonfire.
That got even more cheers than the lap dance.
Their pilot was buzzed out of his mind from smoking marijuana and could only muster a half assed applause.
“Deckard, I need to talk to you,” Bill said as he walked up to him.
They walked off to the outer edge of the fire while the party continued. Bill snorted through his nose and spat a snot ball onto the ground. When he turned to Deckard, his face was half concealed by the dark, the flickering light of the fire lighting the other half of their faces.
“I didn’t want to talk to you until we were back to safe ground about operational details. That was some ballsy shit you did back there.”
“All of it. Sticking the landing for one. Then jumping onto a chair while sliding across the room firing on full auto. That was was some Bruce Willis shit. I can’t believe you pulled it off.”
“We ran out of options, that’s all.”
“The only reason why I left you on that rooftop was to make sure you could survive when you were really in a tight spot.”
“I didn’t know the girl’s parachute was going to get shot the fuck up obviously. Again, pretty ballsy getting her off the roof like that. I’m shocked that you two are alive or at least not rocking a full body cast.”
“I’m hard to kill.”
Bill held out his hand. Deckard took it.
“Welcome to the team.”
“250,000 dollars will be deposited in a Mauritius bank account for you. Payment for the three ops you’ve done for us. Don’t let me see you sober again tonight.”
With that, Bill walked off to find another beer.
Deckard stood by the fire, his eyes getting lost in it for a moment.
“Don’t let it go to your head Deckard.”
He turned and to his unsurprise he found Rick lecturing him. He was obviously half in the bag, already shaky on his feet and slurring some of his words.
“Your amazing one combat operation with us. That other bullshit doesn’t even count.”
“Yeah, whatever man. That’s all you got? I know you Deckard, I’ve seen your type and you are not prepared to go all the way.”
“Obviously you missed my crash landing. Two jumpers, one chute, C4 burning down on the way out.”
“You don’t have the balls to do everything that is necessary. My old unit has been fighting this war for a long time. That’s why all the SEALs on this team know how it is done. We know how to show those savages who is the alpha dog. Killing is the only language that makes sense to them. That’s why we take scalps. Its about sending a message.”
“I thought it was a hobby.”
“Its about establishing street cred. Simple as that. We don’t believe in target discrimination, if you’re brown, you’re down. We go over the high walls, we blast down the doors, everyone inside dies. Period.”
“Everyone. We cleared out entire compounds in Afghanistan on the reg. Standard Operating Procedure. Men, women, and children. They’re all terrorists. We start clearing rooms, and we really clear fucking rooms. The kids make for smaller targets. Its funny, because they don’t understand that they’ve been shot. Just like a dog or something, they will try to get back up so you have to shoot them again.”
“They’re all going to grow up to be terrorists, huh?” Deckard remarked, trying to see how much more Rick would divulge. He was drunk, angry, and suffering from small dick syndrome after their last mission.
“Americans don’t want to know what we do, they just want us to do it,” Rick informed him. “We get shit done. Cleanse the earth of these savages. Dump the kids and there are no future terrorists. Tell the entire family to go back inside, everything will be fine. Then drop a five hundred pounder on their fucking heads. Babies too. You know why?”
“Because fuck you, that’s why.”
“You’ve still got a lot to learn in this outfit and I still don’t think you have what it takes.”
Rick stumbled off, tiring of not getting the responses he wanted out of Deckard.
Fucking Nazis, Deckard thought to himself. How the hell did this happen?
Special Operations soldiers were not choir boys by any stretch of the imagination but these SEAL Team Six guys were completely out of control. Deckard knew that something like this didn’t just happen over night. It had to be a long standing cultural issue within the unit, a pervasive attitude that allowed these war crimes to occur.
Deckard looked back into the fire, remembering Bill’s words.
Welcome to the team.
Rick pushed a piece of plywood into position and held it in place for Deckard. While holding a half dozen nails in his mouth, Deckard began nailing the plywood into the wooden frame that they had spent the day constructing. Each of the Liquid Sky members were covered in sweat, their clothes soaked through while they labored in the Australian heat.
Nadeesha weaved her way through the mock up they were building with a clipboard in her hand.
“When you finish with that I need you two to help Paul frame out the dinning room.”
Rick and Deckard looked at each other as she walked off. She was taking her role as foreman a little too seriously. Using the pictures that Ramon was taking of the objective area, they were building a scale model of the rooftop apartment they were going to raid. Once they finished building it they would be running through it for training with guns that shot paint pellets.
Nadeesha kept pushing them to work faster. They still had a mission brief to do and then it was back into the simulator until they didn’t suck anymore.
Deckard finished nailing the plywood in place and then they went to go find Paul.
* * *
Back in the warehouse everyone was relieved to be able to sit in the air conditioning for a while. Nadeesha had just gotten off the phone with Ramon and was now ready to start the brief. A map was laid out on the table alongside some over head satellite photography taken from Google Earth. The next step would be to make a three dimensional model of the city to help conduct talk throughs of the mission.
Bill turned on a tablet and passed it around. It showed a thirty-something Filipino with a goatee and wearing eyeglasses.
“This is our target, Kanor De Jesus. He runs a finance network for the moose limbs. Some of them are targeting the Royal families in the Gulf States so the client wants this guy out of the picture. The problem is that various players, including JSOC, have already tried to kill him. Five botched assassination attempts in the last two years. These days he doesn’t ever leave his rooftop apartment. The building is locked down with security from top to bottom. It would take a battalion of soldiers to fight their way up to the top. He knows there will be another assassination attempt and has taken precautions.”
“For some reason De Jesus just doesn’t sound like a Muslim name,” Zach remarked.
“It isn’t. This guy is a businessman; not a moose limb. His MO is providing financing to individuals and small cells that conduct terrorist attacks back in their home countries. Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, and so on. He has a network that goes out and buys pre-paid cards. You have to show identification to buy the cards, but not to reload them. So De Jesus has some local patsies buy the cards, then he has his men reload them with cash, all the way up to 10,000 dollars which is more than enough to get into the Middle East and run a small scale terrorist operation. Sometimes he will hand out multiple cards anyway.
“The thing is, these attacks he is funding are becoming so frequent that each country’s intelligence services are having a hard time countering them. He is using swarming tactics. Remember those anus bombs?”
“Butt bombs?” Paul asked.
“A couple moose limbs stuck HME,” Bill said referring to Home Made Explosives. “Along with a cell phone detonator right up their poop chute.”
“These fuckers have lots of practice playing butt darts so I’m sure it wasn’t that big a deal. They almost killed the intelligence minister of Jordan a few months ago with one of those attacks. The other went off and killed a bunch of people in Riyadh during Ramadan.”
“Killing their own people,” Zach remarked. “Fucking savages.”
Deckard said nothing. He wasn’t at all surprised. That was how groups like Al Qaeda operated. Muslim or not, you, your wife, and your kids were going to be turned into corpses if you didn’t believed in AQ’s bronze age worldview.
“The thing about these pre-paid cards is that they are an easy way to transport large sum of money across international borders and they are completely untraceable. It allows terrorists to access funds in ways that would set off trip wires otherwise. If they were moving cash around in some other manner it would get picked up by banking software and red flagged by American and foreign agencies.
“There was also an IED that injured a Saudi prince a couple months back. The scale of the attacks is increasing while the duration between them is decreasing. De Jesus is handing out these pre-paid cards to moose limb motherfuckers like it is going out of style. But this is what really has the client freaked out,” Bill said as he grabbed the tablet and flipped to a new picture.
“This guys works for the People’s Liberation Army with the General Staff Development’s Third Department.”
“The what?” Rick asked.
“Uh, its like China’s version of the NSA.”
“Not really,” Nadeesha chimed in.
“Well, then tell us knuckle draggers what the fuck this guy represents.”
“He goes by the name Dai Kexue, a mid-level executive with a state owned manufacturing consortium. His real name is Major Shen Banggen.”
“And what does he do for Red China?” Rick asked again.
“He facilitates certain programs and projects, only a few of which we know anything about. We do know that the Third Department is invested in securing China’s cyber infrastructure and protecting its national security but it isn’t anything like the NSA. The Third Department takes a more holistic approach to national security calledinformatization. This means that their cyber security initiatives work in tandem with China’s efforts to secure its place in the global marketplace, continue its economic growth, and compete commercially.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Paul asked, clearly frustrated.
Deckard leaned forward and began to speak.
“It means that Major Banggen is tasked with ensuring that China has total information dominance for political, economic, and military purposes. Baggen is clearly working with De Jesus as part of a Chinese shaping operation. They are facilitating outcomes in the Middle East that they feel are favorable to China and dis-favorable to the United States.”
“I still don’t get it,” Paul said rolling his eyes.
Nadeesha blew air through her teeth.
“It means we have to kill De Jesus,” Deckard said.
“You should have just said that in the first place.”
“You guys can go bone to bone and see who is bigger later on,” Bill told them. “Nadeesha has been compiling the intel that Ramon has gathered so far and will brief you on the general layout of what you will find on the roof top of the Aquino building when, and if, you make it there.”
* * *
They slept in cots right there in the warehouse. The team was cut off from the rest of the world and kept in isolation. The technician who ran the simulator would bring them food in the morning and other odds and ends they requested.
Bill woke the team up at nine in the morning. Using replica M4 rifles that shot paint ball pellets they began clearing the mock up that they had begun constructing the previous day. Most of De Jesus’ apartment was framed out but it still needed some work. Still, they were just familiarizing themselves with the floor plan. Bill only set up a few paper targets inside for them to shoot at.
Deckard had to give it to Bill, as unprofessional an outfit as it was, Liquid Sky had a pretty squared away training plan for this mission. He was using the crawl, walk, run method to train up the team and prepare them for their mission in the PI. The simulator, the mock up, using the kit they would have on the mission, it all made sense and greatly increased their probability of success.
After a few hours in the mock up, Bill called them back to the warehouse before they got burned out and lazy running through the wooden structure again and again. The human mind reached the point of diminishing returns after a while.
Then it was right back into the simulator.
Bill was the first one to stick the landing on the rooftop. Deckard was the second but was still hit or miss. Then Paul made it in the next couple simulations. Zach made the landing once, but just barely. Rick still had a big goose egg for a score in the simulator that night. It was early in the morning when Bill decided they were done for the night.
They were getting better.
At least they had a high degree of confidence that their target wasn’t going anywhere.
After lunch they drove out to a nearby airfield with their parachutes and wingsuits. A small prop plane took them up. It was basic familiarization with their equipment. Some of them, like Deckard, had hundreds if not thousands of jumps but never used a wingsuit before. It wasn’t exactly standard issue after all.
As they waited for the plane to spin up, Deckard heard Zach and Paul talking about how they wished Nadeesha was coming along so they could sabotage her parachute and be done with her once and for all. Liquid Sky wasn’t like a military unit. It wasn’t a brotherhood. It was like the mafia. Everyone was guilty and that guilt was the only thing that bonded them together. That and fulling their own self-satisfaction. For drugs, for money, for pussy, whatever it was.
Finally the pilot indicated that he was ready for the first lift. They set their altimeters and got on board. They quickly rose to 12,000 feet. When Bill opened the door the air that rushed in was damn cold. They would have to glide to their drop zone.
Tucking his limbs in, Deckard dived out the door of the plane then extended his arms and legs to begin tracking forward. With his arms swept back and his legs fully extended he could feel the lift being generated by the wingsuit. He was tracking several meters forward for every meter that he dropped. With the rest of the Liquid Sky team, he glided towards the drop zone.
As they dropped in altitude it really became possible to see how fast they were moving in relation to the terrain below. With a wing suit a jumper could get going up to a hundred and twenty miles an hour. That became apparent as the shrubs and desert of the Australian outback below blasted by. At four thousand feet they deployed their parachutes.
These were much smaller parachutes than the military used. The T-10C static line parachute and MC-5 HALO parachute had to be able to carry two entangled jumpers to the ground, with all of their combat equipment. By contrast, civilian parachutes did not have any such requirements and were true sport parachutes. They deployed faster and dumped altitude faster. The margins for error were also much smaller.
A MC-5 had 3,000 square feet of material in the parachute. Their civilian parachutes had about 500 square feet. [fact check].
The reality was that they would be deploying their chutes about 500 feet above the target. That wasn’t a small margin of error, it was no margin of error. They knew this. There were no high fives or woots when they touched down on their drop zone. Everyone knew that had been child’s play.
* * *
That night was spent diving through Manila in the simulator.
They had perfected the variables at this point. The jump altitude was finalized, the approach path was on target, now they just had to learn to compensate for the variables that they couldn’t control, like wind speed. They also had to have split second timing when it came to deploying and steering parachutes. They only had about ten seconds from the time they pulled to the time they were hitting the deck on top of the Aquino building.
Bill was hitting the rooftop about half of the time. Deckard was hitting it about the third of the time, but he was quickly getting used to the wingsuit’s aerodynamics. Zach and Paul were still hit or miss. Rick hadn’t stuck a single landing.
It was the eleventh simulation that night. Deckard zoomed over metro Manila, letting the gold lit buildings guide his way. He had every landmark, every hit point memorized by now. Crossing the river was his first heads up, then the oval shaped One Rockwell East Tower told him he was getting closer.
The ground was coming up to meet him. He was gliding and dropping at the same time. Running out of air, running out of time. It had to be perfect.
He cruised over the helipad on the top of the Roxas building, just a hundred over the roof. The Petron Mega-Plaza passed on his right flank. He shifted his legs to steer left. Next he blasted right between the Four Seasons and the Grand Soko Makati. Suddenly he was over Velasquez Park.
This was it. Reaching back, he yanked out his pilot chute and released it into the wind. The parachute deployed, the pulleys on the simulator lowering him from a freefall position to a vertical position as if he were really under canopy. The Aquino Building was right at his foot tips.
Only under canopy for a few seconds, he steered as close to the center of the building as he could with his toggles and yanked down on them at the last moment to brake. The suspension lines on the simulator suddenly went slack, dropping Deckard to the warehouse floor to simulate a real landing.
The screen froze.
Chalk up another touchdown. In the VR goggles, the other jumpers were listed as they hit their assigned dropzone. Bill, Zach, and Paul all made it to the top of the building. Rick was still shitting the bed.
“Rick,” Bill bellowed in the empty warehouse. “Unclip from the simulator and de-kit. You’re done.”
“What do you mean I’m done?” Deckard could hear the voices talk back and forth before he flipped up his goggles.
“Exactly what it sounds like. You are not hitting the dropzone. You’re done.”
“That’s fucking bullshit.”
“What’s bullshit is that the most cherry fuck on this team is hitting his targets and you aren’t,” Bill said referring to Deckard. “I said, fucking de-kit!”
Deckard flipped up his goggles in time to see Rick unclip from the simulator and unceremoniously drop his goggles and parachute on the cement floor. Tearing off the wingsuit he tossed it and stormed outside, the heavy metal door slamming shut behind him.
“Nadeesha!” Bill yelled. “Kit up and get in the simulator. The rest of you are done for the night.”
Nadeesha looked up from the folding table where she had been going over intel reports and working on the layout of the objective.
“You waiting for a second invitation sweet pea? Kit the fuck up. You’re in for an all nighter.”
“What the hell is this,” Zach said in shock. “You’re taking Rick off the team for some squall?”
“I need pipe hitters on my objective, but that pipe hitter can’t even get to the objective. If Nadeesha can get her piss flaps to the top of the fucking building than a squall trigger puller is better than no trigger puller.”
“She does intel not operations,” Zach said as if Bill needed reminding.
“She only has to be operational for all of five minutes on target and I don’t have time to find someone new. Ramon has the remote devices on batteries to watch the target but he is now busy working logistics for our infil and exfil.”
Apparently Nadeesha didn’t need to be told twice. By the time Deckard had unclipped from the suspension lines and shrugged out of his parachute, Nadeesha was already set to go in what had been Rick’s simulator station.
“So since you don’t think she is up to it,” Bill told Zach. “I want you to brew a fresh pot of coffee for her.”
Then he turned to the technician working the computer.
“Feed her a cup after every five simulations once she starts getting tired. I want her going all night. She has a lot of catching up to do to get up to speed with the rest of us.”
Deckard unzipped his wing suit and set it down next to the parachute. Nadeesha was being pulled up by the pulleys into the free fall position. The VR goggles were down over her eyes. The wing suit was going to need some further adjustments for her smaller frame but they would work that out later. Rick wasn’t that tall to begin with.
Fuck that dude anyway.
Deckard erased the phone’s memory, then removed the battery. He devoured the pizza as his body was still starved from the morning workout. Paying the bill, he made his way back towards the port and tossed his cell phone over the railing and into the Indian Ocean. The city’s main shopping mall was right across the bay so Deckard walked over and bought some food and other household items he needed for the duration of his stay. However long that might be.
Taking a cab back to his pad, Deckard put away the groceries. He had to be careful not to get comfortable here. It was an island oasis that Europeans flocked to on vacation, but for him it was Bad Guy country. More dangerous than Afghanistan or Iraq, his own team mates were the enemy and all it would take is one slip up. It didn’t even have to be his mistake. A few phone calls to the wrong people in the United States, if certain information began to fall into Bill’s hands and Liquid Sky would start to get suspicious. Suspicion would quickly give way to paranoia. You could never be too careful in this line of work. That paranoia would lead immediately to Deckard being executed. He could never let his guard down here. He was always operational, even when not on an operation.
He continued to wonder if his entire house wasn’t wired for sound and video with someone playing voyeur as they watched him on a closed circuit television screen. If that paranoia did set in with Liquid Sky, he would never see it coming once they decided to do him in. He could improvise some weapons like in Dubai, better yet, secure a gun somewhere on the island but for now secrecy was his security.
Laying down, he took a long nap on the couch with the television muted. Late into the afternoon he awoke as someone banged on the screen door that faced out to the ocean.
“Hey Zach said, team meeting before the party. Let’s go.”
“Sure,” Deckard said as he rubbed his eyes. “Be right there.”
Deckard opened the screen door and stepped outside.
Mauritius was a relatively tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Isolated, it was tucked away from all the distractions and complications found elsewhere. The waves broke on the shore, pulling the beach out with it as the tides changed. It felt like he was standing on the edge of the world.
Walking down the beach he crossed Bill’s workout area on the deck and stepped inside. Zach and Paul were shooting the shit about some French tourists they had banged the night before.
“This island is a pussy buffet bro,” Paul laughed.
“Fucking Euro girls don’t lube up right when they’re drunk though. Gotta help ’em out a little,” Zach complained.
“Give them a break,” Rick cut in. “I’m sure she did fine with what little she had to work with.”
The Liquid Sky men roared with laughter as Rick high fived Paul. Everyone went quiet as Nadeesha entered and sat down in a chair in the corner. Bill was sitting on his couch with his laptop open.
“Now that everyone is here,” Bill said as he eyeballed Nadeesha, “we can get started.”
Deckard noticed that Ramon was missing.
“I know everyone has been nervous about the client. Recent events back in the States scared him off and his company decided to abandon a number of classified projects including some indig proxy force they were training out in Nevada. After we got hung out to dry I had to find us employment elsewhere. Pakistan was for a Prince in Bahrain. Afghanistan was a one off, that was a Agency contract. Then Dubai was for the Yids.
“We had a couple interested parties who were going to pick us up on a permanent basis like G3 Communications did but some of those fell through. A lot of the players had experience with BW and the executives over there left a lot of scorched ground between the decision makers and the contractors. I almost set us up working directly for a group of princes in the Gulf States but now I think I got something better.
“A retired American General is going to pick up Liquid Sky and his ‘leadership academy’ or what-ever-the-fuck-ever will sponsor us covertly. This way, his group acts as the middle man between the princes who have plenty of work for us to do. This Arab Spring thing is really fucking up their jive. That’s where we come in. Between them and these Wahhabi sand niggers they got their hands full and a bunch of inept A-rab soldiers in their military who sleep most of the day and spend the rest fucking their boyfriends. So we won’t be hurting for work.”
“So what are we looking at?” Rick asked.
“They got something for us to start on now. Ramon finished his pre-mission prep and has already moved into the target country to begin Operational Preparation of the Battlespace. Tomorrow the rest of us move out to the staging area. The targeted individual has already had five assassination attempts on him in the last two years so he is paranoid as fuck and is prepared. He knows someone will try again and will be waiting for us. This is going to take some brass balls to pull off but what the fuck else is new.
“Don’t worry about that shit now. Party it up tonight. Tomorrow we fly out to begin training and it is back to business.”
A couple whoops went up and the boys began dragging out a keg that they had on ice. The next time Deckard turned around, Nadeesha had already disappeared. Bill tapped the keg and started passing out beers. Paul lined up a few dozen shot glasses and lined them up on the kitchen table. The other guys were making phone calls to some of the expat girls they knew on the island.
Zach shotgunned four shots back to back and the party was started. Deckard was pretty drunk by the time a half dozen women showed up. Four were from France, one from Switzerland, and another from Germany. They brought the drugs with them too.
Bill did a couple lines of a blow off one of his billiard tables. Deckard was starting to get nervous. Former operators filled with booze and coke and haunted by the wars they fought in was not exactly a great combination.
Sitting down with a fresh beer, one of the French girls came right over and sat down on his lap. Deckard had no idea what the blond was saying to him and he cared even less. Across the room, one of her girlfriends was grabbing Zach’s crouch as they took turns downing shots. She frowned at her and then went back to Deckard, kissing him on the lips. They seemed to be in competition with each other.
Rick fired up a couple lines of coke between Vodka shots.
Now the French chick had pulled out Rick’s cock. It was Deckard’s turn to frown. The Prince Albert piercing had to hurt. Getting down her in knees, the blond girl’s friend went to work, deep throating Rick right there in the middle of the party. The European girls cheered, a few offering advice on how to improve her technique.
The blond was clearly pissed over something and jumped off Deckard’s lap to go use the bathroom. When she came back her pupils were huge, dilated from whatever pills she had swallowed.
By then, Bill had bent the big titted German girl over a billiard table, dropped trou and was drilling her, the moans drowned out by the loud death metal music blasting over the stereo.
Jesus Christ, Deckard thought. When he was a young soldier they used to have Squad parties. He ever recalled his Squad Leader doing keg stands all night, throwing the keg off his back deck, and then doing donuts around his house in a beat up Toyota pickup truck. All of that seemed pretty mild compared to this cocaine fueled orgy.
Once Bill finished with the German, the blond pillhead let her jean shorts fall around her ankles and bent over the pool table to wait her turn. Soon, her finger nails were tearing up the billiard table’s upholstery.
Deckard could take a hint, if he stuck around much longer there was a good chance that one of these nymphos was going to handcuff him to a radiator and shock his balls with a couple wires attached to a car battery. He made a hasty exist as Paul and Zach swapped girls and were going for their second round.
Later on, he couldn’t remember stumbling back to his beach house. He woke up in the early morning hours, still wearing his clothes while laying in the bath tube with the shower on, soaking wet.
“What. the. fuck.”
It was another couple hours in the stifling heat of the closed compartment, bouncing around in the back of the janga truck before the driver stopped again. Liquid Sky disembarked the truck and Bill had a few more words with the driver, both of them taking turns pointing to a ridge line silhouetted against the starry night sky. Afghanistan had no light pollution, and unlike the Western world, you could see an entire universe of stars out in the badlands of Central Asia.
Bill slapped the driver on the shoulder and returned to the team.
“This is our VDO,” he said announcing their Vehicle Drop Off point. “We will rendezvous with the driver at the exfil point early in the morning.”
Deckard checked the knock off Rolex watch that had been a part of his issued kit. It was almost midnight and he had a feeling that they would have a long walk ahead of them. Each Liquid Sky member grabbed a couple bottles of water on the way out and shoved them into their pockets. Bill had an old Soviet map in hand and led the patrol up into the mountains.
The approach to the mountains was hazardous to say the least and suicidal at worst. They couldn’t use flashlights because the light would compromise the patrol and Night Vision Goggles were to high tech for a sterile mission that could have no hint of American involvement, mercenary or otherwise. There was enough ambient light for them to slowly feel their way up the side of the mountain but they still slipped and slid on the soft rock that broke away under their feet. Slowly but surely Liquid Sky gained in elevation as they climbed towards the ridge above that bumped across the night sky, looking like the broken spine of a dragon.
Within half an hour of climbing they were all covered in sweat, their man dresses soaked through. They drank water while on the move. The former SEALs chugged water and then tossed the water bottles on the rocks. It was bad form to leave any sign of your presence behind, but clearly these guys didn’t care. They were on a one way trip and their only real concern was getting to the target that night and doing the dirty deed. Deckard downed his first bottle of water and followed suit, dropping the plastic bottle behind him.
Their VDO had left them about a third of the way up the mountain to begin with and now they were climbing higher and higher, at some points it was so steep that they were able to reach out and grab the terrain right in front of them. Bill led the patrol, taking them in winding switchbacks that inched up the ridge when the going got too steep.
There was nothing technical about their climb, it was good old fashion LPC’s, Leather Personnel Carriers. That and a lot of sweat. Still, they were doing it like the locals, traveling with the bare essentials in weapons and equipment. They were not nearly as weighted down as American soldiers were in body armor and other equipment so at least they had that going for them.
The Liquid Sky team took a short five minute break after climbing the wind swept rock for another hour. They sipped on what water they had left and tried to let their legs rest as they sat facing down hill. Steam was coming off their over worked bodies in the cool night air. Bill was the first to stand and start the final push to the top of the ridge.
Forty five minutes later the team huffed and grunted over the ridge. Deckard’s leg was throbbing, the cut on his thigh was hot to the touch with inflammation. The rest of the team was also hunched over, grabbing their knees as they tried to catch their breath. They were in good shape and no one complained, but between the altitude and the demanding climb they were all winded.
“That’s it,” Bill said pointing down into the valley.
Below them was a small archipelago of walled compounds. Pin pricks of light could be seen in the darkness from morning fires being lit in the courtyards. Bill was pointing to the nearest compound at the base of the mountain. That was their target.
“Let’s get down there and clean the place out,” he ordered.
Liquid Sky scrambled down the side of the mountain for the better part of two hours, the way down actually being more strenuous than the way up. It was almost four in the morning by the time they bottomed out in the valley and walked along the edge of dry river bed. It was a wide, rocky gouge in the earth that looked like it hadn’t seen water since the Triassic Period but when the rains came in once a year water would come rushing down the river bed like a deluge and sweep away anything in its path.
Bill picked up the pace as they moved out in a single file. They had to make up some time to get into position, hit the compound, and move out before the sun came up. Moving from the river bed, they crawled over a rock wall and walked through a terraced field. Finally, they were within a hundred meters of the target compound.
“Listen up,” Rick whispered to Deckard. “You are our black side security so that means you need to position yourself where you can see the back of the compound.”
Deckard knew what black side security was but merely nodded his head.
“Find a good field of fire so you can waste anyone who tries to go over the high walls and escape.”
“We will be preparing to breach. Radio us when you are in position.”
Deckard skirted around the edge of the compound, weaving between scraggly trees that barely clung to life. It only took a few minutes for him to find a shallow depression that he could lay in where he would have an open lane of fire on the back side of the compound with his AK-47. He pressed on the push to talk button on his radio.
“This is Deck. I’m set.”
“Okay dude,” it sounded like Rick.
They would not be explosively breaching the compound’s gate, that would give away the American presence. Deckard didn’t see any mechanical breaching equipment like battering rams or hoolie tools, none of them would want to have carried that crap up the side of the mountain anyway. He did see Zach with a locally procured double barrel shotgun over one shoulder, so he knew it would be a ballistic breach.
The radio crackled and hissed so Deckard turned the volume down a little bit more.
“Standby,” came the call.
Two shotgun blasts punctured the night. Deckard tucked the stock of his AK into the pocket of his shoulder and waited. There was a long silence as the Liquid Sky mercenaries began clearing the compound. Then came the gunfire, first in spurts and then full auto blasts. It was a one sided fire fight, Liquid Sky no doubt catching the enemy stumbling out of bed in the night. More auto fire sounded, then silence, then a few single shots here and there. Finally, everything went quiet again.
Then a Afghan dropped down off the back wall and crumbled to the ground.
Deckard confirmed a pistol in the Afghan’s fist as he attempted to run away out into the fields. Pushing the selector lever one click down, he aimed low at the runner’s legs and triggered a full auto burst of gunfire. Three of the five rounds he let off spun the Afghan around and sent him staggering to the ground.
As he lay in the prone he began to get cold. The last few hours before dawn are usually the coldest and his soaked through clothes were only adding to the problem. Fifteen minutes went by before he heard anything over the radio.
“Black side security,” It sounded like maybe it was Bill. “You got anything?”
“One down crow,” Deckard reported.
A few minutes later Rick radioed that he was coming out to meet Deckard. He stood up and whistled to Rick when he heard him getting close.
“Where is he?” Rick asked.
“Over here,” Deckard said leading him over to the body. Rick fired a couple more shots into the body. It never hurt to make sure corpses were still corpses but then Rick loaded a full magazine. Taking a step back, he aimed at the dead body and fired at the Afghan’s head on full auto. His gunfire blasted the top of the terrorist’s skull clean off and splattered his brains in the dirt. The Liquid Sky member held the trigger down until the rifle cycled through the entire thirty round magazine.
It was a completely unnecessary and unprofessional gesture. Rick had effectively turned the top of the Afghan’s skull into a canoe.
“What was that for?” Deckard asked absently.
“Sending a fucking message,” Rick scolded him. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Deckard followed Rick back around the compound to the breach point. Zach was outside smoking a cigarette. His man dress was splattered with blood, his AK slung over one shoulder. Paul came walking out of the compound with two floppy pancakes in his hands. It took Deckard a moment to realize that the pancakes had hair. Paul had been inside collecting scalps.
“I got two,” he told Zach with a smile.
“Just the woman,” Zach replied, motioning to the clump of long hair and concealing blood at his feet.
Deckard had no illusions about who he was dealing with. They were out murdering democracy advocates and helping to suppress the Arab Spring but this was off the charts. Even among those who went off the reservation, this was pretty much unheard of. He was shocked and would not have believed it if someone had described the scene to him in a bar.
Bill came out with another scalp in his hand and a bloody hatchet in the other.
“Fucking savages never had a chance,” he grinned.
Deckard still couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Ramon came out carrying a plastic bag filled with documents and computer hard drives he had collected on the objective.
“Get rid of that shit,” Bill told him. “Sterile means nothing goes on the objective and nothing comes off. Zero evidence that we were ever here.”
“This was a major command and control node for the network,” Ramon insisted. “We can ball up the entire network based on what these guys have here.”
“Not our problem,” Bill said. “Let the fucking knuckle draggers in Big Army sort this bullshit third world country out. We work contract to contract.”
Ramon looked pissed, but walked back into the compound with the bag of sensitive materials he had collected. Rick followed him in and returned back with a couple scalps of his own which he dropped at Zach’s feet.
“There is my two.”
Bending over, he wiped the blood off his hatchet on Deckard’s man dress.
“Thanks bro. Gotta make sure this bad boy is ready to go for next time,” Rick informed him.
“We got a pickup inside the compound,” Ramon said as he walked back out.
“Good, that will save is some time,” Bill replied. “Deckard, go hot wire that fucker and get us out of here.”
“Wait a second,” Paul said stopping him. “Let me give you a hand.”
Reaching into his pocket, Paul pulled out a dismembered hand and threw it at Deckard. It bounced off his chest and thumped between his feet in a cloud of dust. The Liquid Sky team burst out laughing at the look of disgust on his face.
Deckard walked back inside the compound trying to process what had just happened. These guys were so far gone that there was no turning back for any of them. His plan had always been to infiltrate and then destroy. Now it didn’t matter what his plan was. He was all out of choices. These were former Special Operations men like himself and so many others who served.
It was his responsibility as a veteran to clean up this mess. There was no need for him to justify this to himself, it justified itself. It was time to choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Finding the pickup truck in the corner of the compound, he threw open the door and went to work on the ignition.
As he began to pry the ignition cylinder out with a piece of metal he found laying around, Deckard felt completely disgusted with what he had involved himself in. Even if they were terrorists, this wasn’t how soldiers carried themselves. It wasn’t just about disrespecting the enemy dead, more importantly, it was about the discipline and self respect that the soldier had for himself. Once the rot of war crimes infected a military organization it would spread throughout the unit like a plague and destroy everything that they had once stood for. They would be no different than Al Qaeda and the other human savages that they fought. At that point, the war was already lost.
Just as he hot wired the truck, Deckard knew he would have to be slow and deliberate. He couldn’t allow his emotions to control him like the Liquid Sky team. One slip up and he was a dead man. He needed to play along, maybe no matter how dark this road he was heading down got. When the time was right, at a place and time of his choosing, he would drop the hammer and be done with this.
The pickup truck rumbled to life. Deckard got behind the wheel and worked the stick shift, driving out of the compound. Outside, the five other Liquid Sky operators piled into the truck, several sitting in the back. Bill got in the passenger seat and told Deckard he could flip on the headlights and white light it down the road. They just needed to make a quick exit from the target area before daylight and the risk of an ambush was fairly low. He gave him directions on where to go as they drove towards their extraction site. After driving for half an hour the sun was starting to crest above the horizon.
Bill ordered everyone out of the truck. Deckard put it in neutral and they pushed the vehicle into a creek bed where it rolled over on its side. At least it would be out of sight to any passers by. Then it was back up the mountain. They had done an off set infil, first traveling by Trojan janga truck and then moving by foot to the objective to maintain the element of surprise and absolute secrecy prior to their assault. It was sound planning, but now they had to walk all the way back to the exfil site where their janga truck driver would pick them up along a different spot along the road.
By the time they were half way up the ridge it was full daylight. The good thing was that they were far enough away from the road below and their objective that it was unlikely that anyone would spot them. They could see the smattering of compounds below, but without optics, no one was going to see a few ants climbing the side of the mountain.
By eight in the morning they again crested the ridge. Everyone was out of water. It was a short duration mission with one specific task, hunting and killing with zero American involvement as far as anyone could prove. They took five up on top of the ridge, everyone having a seat on the rocks and admiring the view. Afghanistan was really the prettiest part of hell. It would have been a nice place to visit if not for the Islamist radicals. And the occasional rogue mercenary.
Zach and Rick got into a blow by blow about who killed who and how it had all gone down.
“They were Al Qaeda?” Deckard asked Ramon.
“Naw man,” he answered. “Those were Karzai’s guys.”
“Yeah, they were tied into the President of Afghanistan. Running a huge drug trafficking network for him. Completely untouchable by US Special Operations for political reasons. That’s why we got called in.”
“No kidding. They let him get away with it for a long time but I guess he is starting to lean away from America and more towards China these days so someone wanted to give him a gut check. That’s my take on it anyway.”
“Its a good thing we took them out.”
Ramon turned to him and whispered, “Look, you did good today. Just keep your head down and they will offer you a full time job. We do a lot of killing and make good money at it. Its just harder for us Army guys to get an in with them.”
“I got it.”
But Deckard didn’t get it. He had completely misread Ramon by thinking he was a SEAL.
They picked it up and started their descent. It was a long haul through the morning as they suffered in the heat and slipped down through the dirt and debris. A few times they had to cling to the sides of cliffs and move hand over hand on their way along until they could find a wider path down the mountain. Bill was up front again and he began talking into his radio when the road came into view. There was no sign of their ride home but he was talking to someone.
They walked down a spur coming off the mountain which over looked the road and halted. Bill signaled them to stay low as they gathered around a rocky outcropping that looked like something that belonged on the set of Conan the Barbarian.
At this point they were only a few hundred meters above the road. Down below was a village with a stream running along side the road. Terraced fields were dug into the opposite side of the valley with houses and huts propped up against the sides of the cliffs at impossible angles. People lived where the water was, no matter how ridiculous the terrain might be. They learned to live there.
In the stream next to the road, a woman in a blue burka stood in the water up to her ankles, washing dishes, pots, and pans that she laid next to her one by one as she scrubbed them out.
“Where is our GI Joe Army guy?” Bill asked. “Deckard, get your ass up here.”
Deckard high crawled over to Bill and watched the scene below.
“You see that Hadji twat down there?”
“This is our extraction point and that fucking cunt is in the way. She’ll compromise us. You’re disguised as a local so I want you to get close to her and cut her fucking throat. Think you can do it?”
“Yeah,” Deckard said without hesitation.
“You got a knife?”
“No, just the kit you issued me.”
“Here,” Bill said handing him a rusty butcher knife. Another local purchase. “Make it happen. Once it is done we will come down and I’ll call in our driver.”
“Piece of cake.”
“Yeah,” Bill said dryly. “We’ll see.”
“Do that bitch Deckard,” Rick told him. “Go only only knows how many puppies she will squeeze out that will become Allah lovin’ terrorists.”
Deckard looked down at the road for a moment and plotted his route down to the stream. He figured it out in a few seconds and then dropped down below the crest of the spur, keeping the terrain feature between himself and the woman below. He stepped very carefully now as not to give away his position. Stepping from heel to toe, he slowly maneuvered his way down to the road. The small stones still ground beneath his footsteps but that couldn’t be helped.
Moving slowly, he made it down to the road, then crossed it out of sight of the woman. With any luck, she would have finished her task and have walked back home by the time he got there. Another reason why he was in no rush.
There was no way that Deckard was going to murder a civilian in cold blood. The game was over before he had even gotten started. Bill had called his bluff. They wanted to see if he was one of them, ensure that he was a war criminal and just a guilty as the rest of the group. No doubt, the entire Liquid Sky team would have their rifles pointed at him and the woman, ready to open fire on them both if he failed to complete his task.
Crouching in a thicket of bushes, he checked his AK-47 and Glock pistol to make sure he had rounds chambered and ready to go. Once he closed on the woman, he would drag her across the stream and behind a stone wall a few meters further back. From there he would have to escape and evade, run has hard as he could, ambush the Liquid Sky team when and where he could to slow them down, and eventually find a vehicle and make his way back to Kabul. Truth be told, he’d be lucky if he lasted five seconds into that plan and he knew it.
He was a dead man walking, killed by his own self restraint.
Silently, Deckard moved through the thicken in a crouch. He cursed as he saw the blue burka through the twigs and leaves of the bushes. She could have saved her own life, if she had only known. Now they were both dead.
Deckard was on the opposite bank of the stream from her but the stream was only a few feet wide. Once he closed the distance he would be right on top of her. He could jump out of the bushes, grab her, and make a run for it. Maybe. A big maybe.
The Afghan woman bent down to wash another one of the pots. He was almost within striking distance now. The American commando readjusted the sling on his shoulder and prepared to move. He had the butcher knife in his hand up until this point, but now he stuck it in his belt.
He took a deep breath. It was now or never. His muscles tensed, prepared for what was about to happen. He was ready to execute.
Suddenly, the woman stood straight up and turned towards him.
“What the fuck do you think you are fucking doing you stupid cocksucker?” she asked him.
His jaw hit the ground.
“Get your dick beaters in the air where I can see them. What the fuck are you doing over there?” The voice coming through the burka didn’t match anything Deckard had expected to say the least but it was a woman’s voice. “Hey fucker, I’m talking to you.”
Suddenly the crackle of a radio sounded under the burka.
“Got you good this time,” Bill’s voice said over the radio. Laughter could be heard coming over the net.
“Very funny asshole,” the burka clad woman said. “Who is this needle dick you sent down here to hide in the bushes?”
“He’s the new guy,” Bill answered. “Whatever.”
Deckard was pissed.
“Who the fuck are you?” he asked the woman.
“Who the fuck am I?” she answered as if she was insulted. “I’m the one who has been pulling over watch on your fucking objective for twenty four hours dick face. I confirmed that Muhammad what-ever-the-fuck was bedding down there. Then I walked through the night to secure your fucking extraction,” she practically screamed. “That’s who I fucking am, so who the fuck are you.”
“Just a trigger puller told to do a job,” he answered honestly.
“And like a true meat head you proved to be very good at following orders. Good for you. Just squat there in the bushes and try not to piss me off any more than you have already.”
“Yes ma’am,” Deckard said as he rolled his eyes. This was getting stupid.
Exhausted, Deckard sat on the edge of the stream with his feet in the water. The woman kicked the pots into the water and cursed at him some more. They sat silently for a few minutes, Deckard unable to discern anything about her through the mesh eye window in the burka. A few minutes later the rest of the team arrived and sat down alongside the stream. The tactically correct answer was to push into the thicket and maintain a security perimeter but that didn’t seem to concern Liquid Sky.
“What the fuck was that?” the woman asked.
“C’mon Nadeesha, it was just a joke,” Rick laughed.
“And how far would you have let that joke go before that pussy sunk a knife into my back?”
She was pissed, balling up the burka and threw it into the stream. Underneath she wore spandex shorts and a loose t-shirt. That and a MP-5k Sub-machine gun. Deckard’s eyes went wide. Her skin was dark like someone from Southern India but she had almost Caucasian features and large brown eyes. The woman, Nadeesha, busted him too, seeing the look in his eyes as she swung around to point at him in her fury. She paused for a split second, also surprised by the expression on his face.
She was beautiful and none of it made sense to him.
“Fuck all you guys,” Nadeesha spat. “I quit.”
“Bullshit,” Zach laughed.
“Yeah, that is like the fifth time you’ve quit,” Paul said.
“We pay you way to much for you to quit,” Bill reminded her. “Speaking of which, where the fuck is our extract.”
“He should be here any minute,” she said shaking her head. “Where did you find this peckerwood,” the said while cocking her chin towards Deckard.
“Craigs List,” Bill said.
“What the fuck.”
Just then the Janga truck pulled up, the driver with a big toothy grin. Another successful mission and another big pay day for him. One by one, Liquid Sky crammed back into the secret compartment in the back. Nadeesha scowled at Deckard as there was limited space inside and she had to sit next to him. The truck started to move and while the door was still cracked open Rick passed out the remaining bottles of water before locking the door shut.
Five hours later they arrived back on FOB Chapman where they discretely unloaded and jumped on an awaiting CASA airplane heading to Kabul. Bill had paid the janga truck driver in cash which he happily accepted. The plane touched down in Kabul and an hour later the entire six man and one woman team flew out on an international flight.
Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan, the drug trafficking organization that they had hit during the night decided to retaliate. Tied into the Taliban, they called in fighters from all over the province, as well as insurgents from as far as Pakistan.
For the next few weeks they set up ambushes and IED’s alongside the main roads that weaved through their territory. Without any suspects in the hit on the drug lords compound and murder of him and his entire family, the Taliban simply assumed that the Americans were involved and struck back against whatever Americans they could find.
Within six days their IED’s and ambushes had killed four American soldiers. Private First Class Nelson, Specialist Rodriguez, Private First Class Thomas, and First Sergeant Harper were all returned to the United States in bodybags. A dozen others were flown to Ramstein Airforce base and then to Walter Reed with critical injuries.