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Tag Archives: Jack Murphy
Guy Pearce still takes the top spot as the best actor to portray Deckard. He’s not the standard issue tough guy or ex-special-something-or-other dude you see in most action films. Deckard is a smart ass dude sticking it to jive ass mofo’s all over the place. Take a back seat Channing Tatum, I’ll use you as a henchmen in book #13.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a terrific actor with a huge personality. In Direct Action, Bill is described as a “human wrecking ball” so the actor that plays him can’t be some sally. The Rock has the personality and the physique but my only hold up is that I wonder if he can play a truly evil character. Because he plays the hero and since he seems like such a nice guy in real life, I wonder if he could pull it off. If I were casting, I’d definitely let him take a shot at the role though.
Rick is the team’s pretty boy, pompous ass, and self indulgent prick. Sorry Bradley Cooper, this has you written all over it. Pretty boy.
Zach is actually described as looking like Waffen SS trooper but I think Paul Adkins has the street cred to pull it off. He’s a real life fighter and martial artist so I think he’d work quite well.
Paul is another Liquid Sky mercenary, pals with Rick and Zach, who sports a nice Taliban beard. I think Ben Foster can play a different type of character, more of an introvert which would work well in contrast to Adkins, the Rock, and Cooper.
Ramon is Liquid Sky’s only member who hails from Army Special Forces. He is a Filipino-American who served in 1st Special Forces Group. Mark Dacascos fits the bill and he is also a martial artist. Plus him up with some karambit training and he would be good to go.
Nadeesha is actually from Sri Lanka as opposed to India which is where the actress Freida Pinto is from. I pictured Liquid Sky’s sole female operative is being darker skinned but I think the talented Ms. Pinto could play the role of the femme fatale.
“Gonna lay it out there… I love Jack Murphy’s work. It’s gritty, it’s fast paced, it’s got more bang than a breaching charge and it’s balls to the wall from cover to cover. Murphy’s latest, Direct Action, is all of this with a very healthy slab of contemporary world events thrown in for good measure. Yeah sure it’s a little controversial in parts but hey, it’s fiction, so it’s not necessary real…or is it? It’s the blending of fact and fiction that makes this book such a great read. If you’re interested in the murky world of SOF and the even darker world of contracting then this is the book for you. Another great read by Murphy that comes highly recommended.” -Jack Silkstone
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I just wanted to pass one some of the music I was listening to as I wrote Direct Action. I actually had a big break during the writing of the book as summer ended and the fall semester started up at school. I ended up jamming out the rest of the book during Christmas vacation. The THYX album actually really helped kick start the book.
Apoptygma Berzerk, Unicorn
Edge of Dawn, Beyond the Gate
And One, Military Fashion Show
And One, Body Company
THYX, Below The City
Stochastic Theory, What You Weren’t (Echos Virus Mix)
Conjure One, Like Ice
Somewhat Damaged, NIN
Came Back Haunted, NIN
Because you guys kept asking for them, I now have patches and hats in for all of you. Please note that the ball caps are fitted so when you order I need you to make a note as to what size you require. I sunk a good chunk of change into having some high quality stuff done up and am selling it just above cost, so I hope you guys enjoy! The order links will go live on the merchandise page on Friday morning. You’ll also be able to purchase signed copies of Direct Action, along with past books.
Viper Headwear is currently working on some Samruk International ballcaps for us. These will be fitted caps and unlike the prototype below, they will be in PenCott’s “Green Zone” pattern since I’ve decided that PenCott is going to be the unofficial camo pattern for the fictional Private Military Company featured in my novels. Look for ordering instructions in about a month. Also, please keep in mind that this is a prototype. The final hat won’t have those stiff front panels.
Deckard walked under the sign that stretched across the road on two sign posts on either end. It announced that he was entering China Town. China Town in Port Louis. He walked his Surveillance Detection Route through the city, visiting a number of shops along the way. They had only finished breaking down the staging area in Australia and landed back on Mauritius a few hours prior. By the time he got to the third shop, he realized that he had picked up a tail.
Stopping at a fruit stand, Deckard picked a kiwi out of a basket and tossed it into the air several times. The person tailing him stopped alongside and picked up a mango.
“How long have you been in country?” Deckard asked.
“Long enough brother,” Aghassi responded. “Long enough.”
They walked into a nearby Chinese restaurant and immediately sat down at the table they wanted without waiting for a sever to seat them.
“You look beat dude.”
“I’m hanging in there.”
“This is starting to come together. You won’t have to do this much longer. I’ve done the forward reconnaissance of the address you gave me and scoped out all those Bungalows. We can get a platoon from Samruk in here within a week and clean this nest of vipers out. Pat is already talking to people in Madagascar about it.”
“No,” Deckard said. “Not happening. It’s not enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“We need to effect an enterprise takedown.”
Aghassi nodded. They had recently conducted one in Mexico. One particularly nasty cartel was giving them a hard time in the Mexican province of Oaxaca. However, once they got their hands on a source, the cartel’s money man, they had racked and stacked the entire organization in a night. Jimenez, the cartel boss still held out in his fortress and had to be dealt with, but the cartel itself was functionally dead after that one night of non-stop raids by Samruk International mercenaries.
“We’ve been here before. After we took down Jimenez, we followed the flow of guns upstream. The problem is that we thought we were dealing with one rogue operation. We didn’t realize that the weapons trafficking into Mexico was but one program run by G3 Communications. We shut down the weapons pipeline and killed their MEK terrorist proxies in Nevada but at that time we didn’t know about the other arm of that enterprise.”
“Right. I’ve confirmed that they are no longer working for G3, their CEO cut sling load on Liquid Sky after we hit Area 14 in Nevada in order to distance himself. Now they are working contracts coming out of the gulf states, with a retired American General acting as a cut out, proxy, and pay agent.”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know yet. I was only taken off probationary status after this last mission. Maybe now I can dig a little deeper but if we bring Samruk in now and clean out Liquid Sky then we will never find out who the puppet masters are.”
“Once we know that, then we take down the entire enterprise,” Aghassi finished for him.
“With pleasure,” Deckard told him. “I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be. Speaking of which, what did you find out about these dirtbags?”
“Shit,” Aghassi said. “How much time have you got?”
“Start at the beginning.”
“Myself and Pat have been making phone calls. Cody has been digging through the net as well. We found the phone number in your kit and have called Dusty and Flakjacket but haven’t heard back from them yet.”
“Probably still deployed off the coast of Somalia.”
“Here is what we do know. In 2007 the US Navy commissioned a study on retention rates within Naval Special Warfare Development Group AKA SEAL Team Six. Guys were popping smoke left and right, not re-upping even if they were only a few years away from retirement. The study concluded that it was because of a ramping up in private sector contracts.”
“They were getting out to do private security contracting. That was happening long before 2007 though.”
“Yeah, but this is what the report didn’t uncover, a former SEAL Officer who was running a Private Military Company at that time was offering big money to SEAL Team Six operators who came to work for him. He was pitching individual operators in person at one point. He would pay them three times their normal salary, plus the equivalent of their military benefits and pension after twenty years.”
“No wonder why they were leaving for greener pastures.”
“You said in your text that the leader of Liquid Sky is named Bill?”
Aghassi took out his smart phone and brought up a picture to show to Deckard.
It was Bill’s DA photo from the military.
“He was one of the first to take that offer and jump to the commercial side. Bill Geddes. A rock star operator in Dev Group. Got into some real nasty shit in Afghanistan when another recce team had their OP overun. Both elements were denied air support and their Quick Reaction Force because of some political bullshit going on at the time.”
“They got hung out to dry.”
“Oh yeah. Bill got out as a Master Chief with 18 years of service with the SEALs, nine of it with Dev. After that he went to work with that one former SEAL but they had some falling out over a botched operation in Liberia. He jumped between contracts but it gets difficult to track him as these programs are hidden behind both corporate proprietary as well as levels of classification. Who knows what the fuck he was doing.”
“He mentioned that Liquid Sky was not his first team, that he burned through his others guys.”
“That seems to fit his personality.”
The former ISA operator brought up another picture on his phone.
Deckard looked at it for a second. He was a little younger in the picture but still a good looking blonde kid who could have jumped off the cover of a surfing magazine.
“Zach Larson. I talked to a team mate of his. He wasn’t a SEAL actually but a Navy EOD guy,” Aghassi said referring to Explosives Ordinance Disposal. “They are allowed to apply so he got picked up, went through Green Platoon and spent ten years in Dev.”
“He take the same offer as Bill?”
“Nope, they kicked him out. Remember when all those Dev Group guys got the boot because they were consulting with a video game company while still active duty?”
“I’ve been a little out of the loop.”
“Well, it was a breach of military ethics at the minimum if not completely illegal. They were giving this video game company sensitive Dev Group tactics to use in their game, putting on capability demonstrations for them, all kinds of shit. Zach took it a step farther and was doing public speaking engagements. He did one in Las Vegas just a few months after getting back from the Bin Laden raid, the speech itself was all about the Bin Laden raid. It was for the Forbes 100 set and was supposed to be about leadership but he divulged all kinds of classified information. That was the final straw so they kicked him out of Dev. He could have gone to the regular SEAL teams but with your reputation ruined like that not too many guys want to face that. He separated from the Navy and went to work with Bill.”
Aghassi brought up another picture and showed it to him.
“Rick Teague. A half dozen DUI’s. Got pulled over with automatic weapons out of the armory and C4 explosives in one case. Naval Special Warfare swept it all under the rug. I talked to one of his team mates as well. Rick went through a messy divorce. For years he was on the outs with her. He kept volunteering for deployments because he thought it would save his marriage by giving him and his wife some time apart.”
“He never struck me as the type. He is the most narcissistic of the bunch.”
“Not always. He tried hard to save his marriage but of course he was trapped in a vicious cycle. Deploying in a misguided attempt to save his marriage, going back to the ‘stan over and over again. Loaded up with PTSD, the only one of this Liquid Sky group who actually sought help at one point, there was no hope for him. His wife took their kids and bailed. He left the Navy with fifteen years in and found work with GRS.”
GRS or Global Response Staff, was the CIA’s para-military force that acted as a security detachment for their case officers and targeting officers. They also did static security and occasionally worked operations.
“That gig ended for him when he was speeding around Kurdistan in an up-armored SUV and ran over a kid. No one knows for sure if he was drunk or not. GRS tried to cover it up but the case officer dropped dime and got him booted. Bill must have picked him up sometime after that.”
“God damn,” Deckard said shaking his head. “These guys were a train wreck before they even left the military.”
“Big time. That guy Nikita whacked in Pakistan-”
“I’m wearing his clothes right now.”
“Well, that’s special.”
“Isn’t it.” It was a statement rather than a question.
“Henderson was on meth, coke, and hard liquor pretty much every day from what I understand. Suspected of stealing weapons from the unit a few times but that got covered up as well.”
“Of course. He had a girl?”
“Back at Virginia Beach. She doesn’t know where the fuck he is.”
“And she never will.”
They had dumped the body into the Indian ocean.
“Next up,” Aghassi said changing the subject back to the living. “Paul.”
Aghassi showed him the picture he had.
“That’s him but without the Taliban beard he has now.”
“Guess he really liked Leonidas in 300 huh?”
Deckard rubbed his forehead queuing Aghassi to continue.
“Okay, so his name is Paul Paul.”
“Who the fuck were his parents?”
“Mormon missionaries actually. He was holy roller back in the day. That’s actually how he got his job in Dev. The commanding officer of one of the squadrons in Dev was also a holy roller, into all that crusader shit. He hand picked Paul from Green Platoon because they were both taking Jesus pills.”
“Don’t know when he fell off the wagon. It sounds like greed got the best of him though. He ordered a lot of individual components for Night Vision Goggles while he was overseas and then legally brought them back to Dam Neck with him. Once back in America, he had all the parts but they were not on the property books because they were not assembled and had no serial numbers. He put them together and was selling them for 500 bucks a pop. He was also suspected of shipping captured Taliban weapons home in ISU-90 shipping containers. The real kicker is the gold.”
“They told me a little about that.”
“Yeah, they had it down to a science apparently from raiding so many compounds. Put a gun to the wife’s head and make her open the safe. They would get the shit home on their own private airline. But some red flags started going up when these guys came home from overseas and started buying brand new Land Cruisers and in-ground swimming pools in the backyard for their kids. They asked him to leave before someone initiated an investigation.”
“What the hell was going on in that unit?”
“Here is the thing Deck, all these guys served in the same Squadron in SEAL Team Six. That is how they all know each other and why Bill brought all of them on board. It is the other members where things start to get really interesting.”
“Yeah, I was wondering how Bill got a girl on the team.”
Aghassi pulled up the picture.
“Hotter than a pistol.”
“I don’t have to be told.”
“Nadeesha Senevirathne,” Aghassi said pronouncing the last name syllable by syllable. “She came into the Army with very high test scores and got brought into Counter-Intelligence. She worked in a couple different Top Secret programs in Iraq, most of them I’m familiar with because I had to liaison with these guys when I was with ISA. She did real work, ten deployments to Iraq and Kurdistan, two to Colombia, one to Bangkok, one to Egypt. She was assigned to a special cell of female intelligence operatives within JSOC who would be drawn from as needed.”
“She’s pretty young, to have that many deployments she must have been drawn out everyday.”
“31 years old actually and you’re right. They run roughshod over these women because there are so few of them. When I called my buddies back at Ft. Meade they told me that she was for real, pulled her weight operationally, did her job. I don’t know why but she separated from the Army on her own. Probably it was just burn out from being deployed so often without time to decompress.”
“Happens more often than anyone wants to admit.”
“The connection to Bill comes from a counter-terrorism operation that SEAL Team Six ran in Colombia. Bill was the Team Leader and Nadeesha was attached to them to run intel. That must be where they first met.”
“What happened to her?”
“Don’t know but her test scores are off the chart. It freaked the people at the JFK Special Warfare Center out. She almost maxed out their IQ test. Speaks like a half dozen languages.”
“And she is of the right ethnicity. She can blend in with dozens of cultures. No wonder why JSOC jumped all over her.”
“It is this last guy that really bothers me.”
“Yeah, Ramon Pascua.”
“He is the most solid of any of them. They sent him forward to prepare the battle space. He’s a former 1st Special Forces Group guy from what he told me.”
“That’s true. After growing up in the Philippines he came to the United States with his father. He was a Warrant Officer in 1st Group and deployed with the CIF Team to Baghdad. He was a good operator by all accounts. Aside from running Direct Action missions with the CIF, he did low-vis work all over South East Asia.”
“So what is the concern?”
“That he appears squeaky clean. A guy like that would never work with a team like Liquid Sky. Are they blackmailing him or something?”
“It is bizarre because the only other thing I can think of is that whatever he fucked up, wherever he stepped out of line, had to be so bad and so sick that the entire chain of command buried it and simply asked him to leave for the sake of all their careers. I can’t find shit for dirt on this dude.”
“I will probe the wire a little more. I have good rapport with him.”
“Do that, because this creeps me out. Nadeesha should be working for DARPA or JPL but I get why she is here. Ramon doesn’t make sense to me at all.”
“I’ll get another burner phone and text you whatever I find out. Keep Samruk on standby. If you can pre-stage in Madagascar that is great, but no further than that. Not yet.”
“I’ll let Pat know. But there is one other member of Liquid Sky we haven’t covered yet.”
Aghassi looked across the table at him as their Chinese food arrived.
“So what’s your deal?”
The Twin Otter lifted off in the morning with six passengers on board. Rick had extra hair gel applied today and his ear plugs in, listening to music and not talking to anyone. He was still bitter about being bumped from the mission and moved to the support role.
The pilot, the one who had flown for their training jumps was a drug runner who routinely made illegal flights from the South China Sea to Darwin and knew the routes in and out of the area well. The Liquid Sky members had their wing suits and parachutes with them. In the unlikely event that they were stopped along the way, they would appear as nothing more than sport jumpers.
Deckard leaned back and watched fluffy white clouds float by the window. Was he scared? Scared of what? Jumping out of a blacked out aircraft over a major metropolitan city, gliding between buildings while wearing combat equipment, deploying a parachute at the very last second, landing on the smallest drop zone imaginable, then explosively breaching a door, and getting into a shoot out with dozens of goons, killing a terrorist financier, before parachuting off the roof down to the streets? What was there to be scared of?
At least a couple of them were going to die on this mission according to Deckard’s calculations. Bill didn’t seem very conflicted about that fact after basically admitting it to him. Who was he kidding, they were all going to die on this mission. Deckard closed his eyes and tried to get some sleep. He had been there before.
They landed at a remote airfield in Indonesia to refuel before continuing on to the Philippines. Some of the guys slept, others watched movies on portable DVD players.
It was late at night when they landed at Barradas airfield, a dusty airstrip not far outside of Manila. Under the cover of darkness, the team policed up their gear and walked to a waiting van. As they approached, Ramon got out from behind the wheel and shook hands with Bill.
“I have the team house set up and ready to go,” Ramon told him.
“About a hundred meters away from the airfield, just a short drive around the block.”
“What about our weps,” Zach asked.
“Good to go,” Ramon assured him. “Test fired all of them myself last week.”
It took the pilot half an hour to get the Twin Otter into the small hangar on the airfield and power down but then they all crammed into the van and drove off. True to Ramon’s word, the team house he had secured was all of three minutes away. It was a one story deal and had a garden around it that was well attended too.
Each of them had a simple cot to sleep on and Ramon showed them where the food was so they could cook themselves some dinner while he went over preparations with Bill.
“We’re on a reverse sleep schedule from here on out,” Bill told them. “Do all your preparations for the op tonight and sleep during the day.”
The hit was laid on for the following night.
Wooden boxes were filled with the combat gear they would need for the mission. There was a Ingram MAC-10 Sub-Machine Gun for each of them. Chambered for the .45 caliber round, each gun came with a threaded barrel for screwing on the suppressor. They had three 30-round magazines each. The sub guns and the cans for them were in “pre-owned” condition but Ramon said he tested them himself. Deckard picked one up and racked the charging handle on the top of the box shaped weapon. On inspection, it looked clean. He then conducted a functions check, so far so good. He would have liked to have fired it himself prior to the mission though.
Nadeesha reached for a box of ammo and started jamming magazines. The others sat down on their cots and did the same. Their next course of action was to rig up in their wing suits and parachutes and figure out how to run their combat load with it. They had small chest rigs that they could wear under the parachute harness but slinging the MAC-10 was problematic.
Among the supplies laying around the team house, Deckard found an elastic bungee chord that he hooked around the wire shoulder stock of the sub-machine gun. The other end of the bungee he looped around the chest strap on his parachute. Next, he screwed the suppressor on the MAC-10 and routed a rubber band under his waist strap and looped it over the suppressor, holding the MAC-10 in place diagonally across his body.
This kept the weapon secured while being able to quickly bring it into play when he hit the ground simply by snapping the rubber band when he yanked on the gun. The others saw what he did and began rigging their weapons in a similar manner. Even Rick was kitting up on orders from Bill. If one of them got hurt, got sick, or got dead between now and the hit time, then Rick would be taken off the bench and put back into the game.
Meanwhile, Bill and Ramon sat in front of an open laptop. Ramon’s remote devices were still running off batteries and would be for the duration of the mission as they kept an unblinking over watch on their objective.
The apartment was situated in the middle of the rooftop, a pent house that included a pool and party area outside. Sometimes De Jesus’ security people patrolled the pool area but usually they stayed inside unless they came out to have a smoke. A couple times a week De Jesus would send a few body guards down to Air Force One to pick up some girls and they would throw a massive rooftop party. Bill was adamant that they not infil on one of those nights, it just added to the number of things that could go wrong.
The good news was that from spying through the glass windows in the apartment from two separate angles, that it did not appear that De Jesus had a safe room. Liquid Sky would bring explosives anyway, just in case.
One by one, they found their way to the kitchen to find something to eat. The preparations went on deep into the night. With Bill’s permission, they went outside one by one and popped off a few suppressed rounds through their MAC-10’s into a dirt mound to make sure everything was kosher.
Zach dug into the explosives cache that Ramon had secured for them. It was mostly industrial explosives that had probably been stolen from a mining site before they turned up on the black market. That was sketchy as hell. He could test the time fuse but they were too close to civilization to test the detonation chord and plastic explosives. Worst case, they would shoot through the windows and enter the apartment that way. They also had a half dozen hand grenades that they could use to breach if need be.
As they laid their kit out one last time before donning in the following night, the Liquid Sky members joked with each other, pretending that they weren’t scared of smashing into a building at a 120 miles per hour.
“Shit dude, we could be the biggest bugs on the world’s largest wind shield if we fuck this up,” Paul said, his huge Taliban beard shaking as he chuckled to himself.
“Unfortunately this mission doesn’t come with any fringe benefits,” Zach complained.
“Oh, you mean like that pile of pirate’s treasure we pulled out of Abottabad?” Paul asked.
“Right now I think Rick has the pirate’s treasure,” Paul joked while curling his shoulders in. “The sunken chest!”
“Don’t forget to lick my balls while you’re down there,” Rick said as he got red in the face.
“What do you think Nadeesha?” Zach said. She hadn’t said a word all night.
“Suck my dick.”
The room exploded with laughter until Bill told them to shut up.
Deckard saw his opening.
“You guys were on the Abbottabad mission?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Zach answered. “Got a large haul off that one.”
“Fuck no. The Agency has been playing that angle up. We hardly got anything. Old boy hadn’t been operational in years. We got a big haul of gold though,” Paul told him.
“He had a stockpile of gold?”
“Yeah. Spanish, French, and Italian intelligence services had been paying the Taliban in bullion for years and years not to attack their troops so there is a influx of gold bullion in Afghanistan which eventually filters into Pakistan.”
“The Euros pay off the enemy because casualties would upset their shaky coalition governments and you rake up the fruits when you hit the targets.”
“Fucking A,” Zach answered. “The CIA has been paying their Taliban informants with blue pills unfortunately, so they are not helping us at all.”
“How do you get all that gold back?”
“Teeny Weeny Airlines. Dev has their own aircraft.”
“Shit, sounds like a good deal. And old boy goes into the ocean on the flight home, huh?”
“You really think we just dumped his body in the ocean dude?”
Liquid Sky explosively breached the mockup with a flex linear charge. The explosion sent wooden splinters everywhere as the door burst into six or seven pieces. They put Deckard up front as the first man through the door, reminding him that as the new guy on the team, he was still nothing more than cannon fodder.
Ramon had called back to the staging area to tell them that he had secured Ingram MAC-10’s with suppressors for the mission from the Philippines’ extensive black market. They would just have to make do in training with the M4 paintball guns. It was an imperfect world.
Deckard stepped over the broke door and cleared the first corner. It was a wide open living space, framed out by bare plywood walls. Second hand furniture had also been placed inside the mockup. Ramon’s intel was that De Jesus routinely hired hookers from Manila’s most famous upscale whore house, Air Force One. Regularly attended by Ambassadors and Generals, Air Force One was where you went to score some “Tier One ass” as Bill had put it.
Deckard also noticed that although they were expecting civilians on target, all of their targetry in the mockup were shoot targets. None of the silhouettes were no-shoot targets. Everyone in the apartment was being marked for death.
Point shooting the first target, Deckard put two blue paint rounds center mass. He and Zach then cleared the kitchen area, taking down another two targets. Practicing a form of room clearing known as free flow, they had the entire apartment cleared in seconds.
The worst part was that they had to clear the entire objective while still wearing their wing suits. There would be no time to take them off, just unzip a slit between the legs so they could walk and escape from the wings by rolling back the sleeves. Once they hit the rooftop they would release their main parachute via a cutaway pillow and begin the killing. How the MAC-10 and spare magazines would be arranged on their kit was something that was still being worked out.
Then, once the apartment was covered in blood and spent brass they had to exfil with their reserve parachute, a stunt chute designed for base jumpers in this case. The entire mission was Hollywood as hell in Deckard’s opinion. The only reason why it would work was because no one would be expecting it.
Liquid Sky hit the training objective five more times. Nadeesha had her jet black hair pulled back and was now covered in sweat like the rest of them. So far, she was keeping up on target. No one was talking to her though, she was considered an outsider to the assault element.
After dropping their kit, the team guzzled bottled water from a cooler they had brought along and piled into a van to head back to the warehouse. They ate an early lunch and then went into the simulator. Ramon had left remote devices in two rented offices in buildings near the Aquino building. They knew the target was on site. Meanwhile, Ramon had secured their weapons and was building up their logistical infrastructure for the operation.
They were making progress in the simulator. Everyone was itching to do the hit.
Deckard bailed off the ramp of the virtual reality airplane and into the night for what seemed like the thousandth time.
He counted off the numbers.
Thread the needle between Four Seasons and the Grand Soko Makati.
Deckard’s body screamed into the target as his parachute joltingly interrupted his descent and he crashed onto the rooftop.
This time the entire team made it to the rooftop. It was the decisive point of the entire operation. If they successfully infiltrated to the objective, then the breach and room clearing aspects would be fairly straight forward by comparison. Then there was the exfil.
That could go either way.
* * *
“Deckard, come with me,” Bill said. They were just finishing dinner. “Grab your kit.”
Tossing his paper plate and Styrofoam cup into the trash, Deckard shouldered his parachute and wing suit. Bill had his gear as well and opened the back doors to the 10 pax van they had outside. They both dumped their kit inside and Bill got behind the wheel.
“Where are we going?” Deckard asked as he took the passenger seat.
“Yeah, you are the most switched on so you’re coming with me. Consider this a feasibility study.”
“You still don’t think jumping with night vision goggles will work?” Deckard asked him as they pulled off down the dirt road towards the airstrip.
“Too many lights in the metropolitan areas of the city. If your night vision whites out for even a second, that second is more than enough to kill you.”
“There should be enough cultural lighting to find our way to the objective,” Deckard agreed.
“Let’s find out.”
Bill stopped the van. The Twin Otter turbo prop was spun up and waiting for them on the airfield. The pilot opened the window and waved them forward. Picking up their gear, Bill and Deckard climbed aboard and set their altimeters. It was pitch dark in the desert when the pilot lifted off. The two Liquid Sky operators began donning their wing suits and parachutes.
Bill seemed huge inside the aircraft, as if the plane had been built for midgets. He got bigger just by looking at weights. Deckard knew he must have been going crazy without being able to hit the gym and drink a steady stream of protein shakes. As the plane leveled out, he leaned in close so that Deckard could hear him over the noise of the turbo props.
“What do you think the chances are of us actually pulling this off?” he asked.
“It all depends on whether or not we can get to the objective. If so, I would say 95 percent,” Deckard answered.
“What do you think are the odds of getting to the objective then?”
“Fair enough. Let’s find out.”
Bill turned and sat down, taking up two seats.
Deckard sat down and checked his equipment over. He started getting nervous when he realized they were heading North. They were flying towards Darwin, one of Australia’s northern most cities. By plane, it was about an hour away.
They sat in the dimly lit cabin, the plane vibrating beneath their feet. Finally, Bill went up and said something to the pilot. Coming back into the cabin he leaned in to yell into Deckard’s ear.
“I found a building in Dawin that is about the same dimensions as the Aquino Building. It is the Marrakai apartment building. Just follow me. We’re going to prove that this can be done tonight. Illum is bright so we should be good to go.”
To say that Deckard had reservations was the understatement of the century. He had learned to control his wing suit very well but didn’t know any of the landmarks in Darwin. All he could do was follow Bill and hope for the best. If he missed the target building he would have to deploy his chute and land in the street or something, hopefully avoiding any electrical lines.
Bill opened the door on the side of the aircraft. Cold air rushed in, an old familiar feeling.
Deckard put on his helmet, strapping it under his chin. Then he reached up to swing down his VR goggles. He was glad that Bill didn’t see him make that subconscious mistake. There was nothing virtual about this run.
Bill placed his feet at the edge of the door and carefully leaned out to spot for their job. Looking at the lights of Darwin in the distance, he motioned Deckard forward. Deckard look at the back of Bill’s neck, right where his spinal chord connected to his skull. He wished he could kill him now and get it over with but he had to find out who Bill was working for. Otherwise, his handlers would just spin up another team after Liquid Sky had been eliminated. A minute later, Bill leaned in and gave him the thumbs up.
Stepping forward, Bill jumped out into the darkness and disappeared.
Deckard took a deep breath and followed him out.
A rush of wind took him out into the night sky. He saw the moon wobble in front of him for a moment and then got stable in the air. Assuming the correct body position, he began gliding. It took a moment for him to spot Bill in the moonlight. he was just a black splotch floating through the sky. Deckard maneuvered behind him as they nosed over the harbor towards the city.
Deckard began to relax a little. Everything was quiet and peaceful as he floated over the harbor. They had about ten miles to fly before they reached their drop zone. Down below, he spied the lights of a few oil tankers heading into port. Up ahead, Bill began adjusting his angle of attack. Darwin was coming up fast.
They soared over the port, coming in low. The city scape all looked the same, low laying structures and houses everywhere except for two towers straight ahead. One was the Holiday Inn. The other was their target building. Deckard shifted his position to the left, offset of Bill. Getting caught in each other’s canopies was a serious concern.
The two jumpers were nearly side by side when they deployed their parachutes. The pilot chute pulled out their main parachutes, ribbons of suspension lines going taunt above their heads. Reaching up and grabbing his toggles, Deckard made final adjustments. The roof of the building was dark, but the apartments below had their lights on, providing a perfect outline of the top of the building for them.
Bill and Deckard’s canopies were nearly touchingmas they landed parallel to each other. They touched down on the roof feeling feather light for once, both landing on their feet. The parachutes collapsed next to them as they quickly reeled in one brake line to make sure it didn’t get caught in the soft sea breeze.
“That’s it,” Bill said as he scooped up his parachute. “This can be done. My guys are just mind fucking themselves at this point. They’ve got enough training. It is what it is.”
“It is doable,” Deckard agreed as he policed up his own chute.
“Find us an exit,” Bill ordered him. “Then you hot wire a vehicle for us. Consider it urban escape and evasion training.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Deckard took off his parachute harness, rolled up the chute like a sleeping bag and shoved it into its deployment bag. He could repack it later.
“When we get back I’m telling Ramon that we are coming in tomorrow for the hit. We jump and whoever makes it makes it. Whoever dies, dies. Its not like this is my first crew.”
“This isn’t your first team?”
“Fuck no. I broke all the others.”
Deckard tried not to dwell on that as he looked for a way to bypass the lock on the roof top door.
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.
So something I’ve always had a passing interest in is improving the human system. I’ve never used steroids before as I got scared off by seeing how they effected some of my Army buddies. From ‘roid rage to dude’s growing permanent “bitch tits” because they weren’t cycling properly. It is too bad the FDA over regulates this stuff because if it were not illegal than doctors could professionalize steroid use so that soldiers, athletes, and regular people could use them safely.
But more interesting to me personally is improving the cognitive process. There are many ways to do this of course, if you never stop learning we can supposedly tack on an additional 10 IQ points to our score every decade. There are other ways to achieve balance and clarity such as Yoga and meditation. I was interested when I heard about a supplement called Alpha Brain which claims to increase focus, clarity, increase creativity, and also induce lucid dreams.
I ordered the smaller 30 tablet bottle and began taking two pills a day for two weeks. The first day I noticed a clear difference. The two Alpha Brain pills mellowed me out big time. Not like I was lazy and sitting around all day, but as I was going around doing things I felt very laid back. I can see how this effect would be helpful when you have a task at hand that requires you to focus in and not be scatter brained. However, I only experienced this the first day I used Alpha Brain. These results were never repeated again.
One other effect that Alpha Brain had was inducing lucid dreams. In this sense the product lived up to the advertising. One night I popped two pills just before bed. I had some insane dreams. I was a spy and had to pass off a secret message that was hidden in one of those red Netflix envelops. Bob Barker was my handler and I spent a lot of time hanging out on the set of The Price is Right. Betty White was one of my targets. I had to retrieve critical information from her but had a difficult time sorting through all her Cosco cards to find it. That dream was pretty funny, but I found that when I took the pills during the day I would still have some lucid dreams at night. To tell you the truth, it got to the point where it made it uncomfortable for me to sleep. I don’t remember those dreams very well but they were unsettling enough to wake me up. One that I do remember was a guy getting his face cut off and he continued to scrambling around looking for help.
I won’t be ordering Alpha Brain again. It was interesting to try out but the day time effects wore off very quickly, perhaps because my body chemically adjusted to the contents of the pills but I’m not a doctor… Taking a couple before bed in an interesting experience but otherwise the dreams they induce prevented me from getting a full night’s sleep. It seems my quest for cognitive enhancement will continue. Right now I feel like the dude in the Bourne Legacy who’s Army recruiter tacked ten IQ points onto his test so that he could make his quota.