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DIRECT ACTION, Chapter Five (Part One)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Chapter Five (Part One):

Yellow flames were still licking out of the top of the burn barrel as they loaded up into the back of the janga truck.

Bill, Ramon, Rick, and the two other team members had kitted up. Deckard had been listening to them banter back and forth about who would get more kills on this mission and picked up the names of the final two team members, they were Zach and Paul. With Deckard now filling the void left by Henderson, a void created by Nikita’s sniper rifle in Pakistan, they had a six man assault element.

A young kid, maybe eighteen or nineteen, had been warming chai tea over a small fire in the court yard. Bill spoke to him and the kid responded in broken English. He would be their indigenous driver for the mission. It was a simple but ingenious infiltration method. With a local driving the janga truck, the Americans would be hiding in a secret compartment in the back. The Trojan Horse was alive and well.

After a few words with Bill, the Afghan went and opened the gate, then fired up the truck. The hidden compartment was a large metal box that had bags of rice thrown on top of it to give the truck the appearance of hauling a full load. The door to the compartment was disguised to look like the side of a crate. The Liquid Sky members took turns searching each other over to make sure none of them unwittingly brought any non-local items. The video games and Maxim magazines had to go into the burn barrel before they left. Once out on patrol, they had to be completely sterile.

Deckard handed Rick his alias passport and other false documents. The former SEAL Team Six operator tossed them in the burn barrel and then patted him down just to make sure he didn’t have anything squirreled away. He didn’t. If Deckard died on this mission it was unlikely that Pat and the others back at Samruk International would ever discover what had happened to him. They had no idea where he was or what he was doing. His body would be quickly buried by the locals who would not want to be discovered with a body, especially a white one by other Afghans or Coalition Forces.

Deckard climbed into the janga truck with the team and then Bill got inside and shut the door behind him. They would leave the compound unattended, the operations center had been sterilized and they would not be reoccupying their forward staging area after the mission.

Bill talked into his radio, “check the bug light.”

The driver hit a button under the dash board and a red light flickered on and off inside the hidden compartment. It was a non-vocal warning in case something was wrong. From inside their hiding place, the team had zero situational awareness of what was going on around them and would be relying on the driver for a heads up.

“Punch it out of here,” Bill radioed the driver.

With a squeal of metal on metal, the janga truck lurched out of the compound and rumbled down the dirt road. Where they were heading, Deckard had no idea. Wherever they were going, he was happy that the team at least had the foresight to add some air holes and install a fan inside their compartment. It was brutally hot and they had loaded an entire case of water bottles inside with them to stay hydrated.

They rode in silence, the compartment occasionally lit up as someone flipped on a pen light to check a watch or to make last minute adjustments to their gear. For the first hour, Deckard just leaned up against the metal wall while sitting. By the second hour he was starting to feel rattled due to the worn slat shocks on the truck’s suspension banging up and down on the rough Afghan roads. By the third hour he was getting motion sickness. He felt like a bug sealed up inside a tin can which was then shaken vigorously by a small child.

He was attempting some breathing exercises to help maintain his composure when the bug light went off. It was a relief to say the least.

Bill broke squealch on his radio.

“What is it?”

White noise hissed over the net before the driver answered. “Taliban check point. They make me to stop.”

“Got it.”

In the darkness, Deckard heard the guy sitting next to him grunt out several curse words. It was Rick.

“This is all you,” Rick then told Deckard.

“Huh?”

“What the fuck Deckard!” Bill’s words bellowed through the cramped compartment. “Rick just told you to take care of this shit so take care of it.”

“No problem.”

“No problem my ass,” Bill snarled. “Rick, take this fucker’s guns.”

“What-” Deckard exclaimed.

“Hand ’em over,” Rick ordered. “Let’s see what you’re made of.”

“How many of them are out there?”

“No idea,” Bill answered. “For your sake I hope it is less than a dozen!”

“Fuck me,” Deckard groaned.

The driver stopped on non-existent brake pads. The entire team lurched forward and then back in the opposite direction as the truck screamed to a halt. Rick reached over, undid a latch and threw open the door. He then relieved Deckard of his AK-47 and Glock pistol.

“Good luck bro,” he said as Deckard slid out into the night. “And thanks for the extra ammo.”

As the janga truck slowed, Deckard readjusted the pakol cap on his head and crept along the back of the truck to peer ahead. At first he had to steady himself by holding on to the side of the truck, the motion sickness fading off after a couple seconds. They were on one of the perilous mountain roads that snaked around the spurs and draws as it winded deeper into Indian Country. The side of the road terminated in a sheer cliff that went nearly vertical for several hundred feet. Deckard heard rushing water down below and could just make out the reflection of moonlight off the surface of the river. There was only a few feet between the truck and edge of the road, the Taliban had stopped them at a perfect choke point.

Deckard rounded around to the side of the truck, sticking to the shadows cast by the moonlight. There were three of them. Wearing dishdashas and black head wraps, the three men at the checkpoint each had long Wahhabi beards, the type that blow up under your armpit when you are running from AC-130 gunships at top speed. One reached over and pulled open the driver’s side door while another was saying something to their Afghan driver.

Three bad guys, three AK-47’s. He would have to act fast.

Deckard crept forward, his heart in his throat. They were distracted as they tried to shake down the driver for some kind of Taliban Value Added Tax. They needed extra money to buy acid to splash in school girl’s faces or something. Deckard just hoped he wasn’t spotted until he was on top of them. Inching forward, he saw the driver becoming more distraught. He began flashing money, but glancing back over his shoulder, Deckard could see several dark silhouettes back at the rear of the truck. Some of the Liquid Sky men had hopped out to watch him work. So be it.

Grabbing the nearest terrorist, Deckard flung him right off the edge of the road. The terrorist’s arms were pinwheeling as he stumbled and went over the edge. Deckard didn’t have time to listen to his screams. The other two checkpoint guards turned to face Deckard, the driver’s jaw was hung open as he could only watch in horror.

The closest of the two tried to bring his AK into play. Deckard pivoted away from barrel to clear the line of fire while simultaneously reaching out and grabbing the barrel with his hand. Using his other hand, he swatted away the terrorist’s support hand on the foregrip of the rifle. In one final blur of motion, Deckard swung the rifle barrel straight up where it smacked into the terrorist’s face. Temporarily stunned, Deckard relieved him of the AK and slammed the buttstock into the face of the remaining terrorist.

With the wooden AK buttstuck blasting into the side of his face, the terrorist rocked backwards and ran into the side of the truck. Deckard gave him another buttstroke for good measure and the terrorists knees began to turn to jelly and he was heading for a faceplant in the dusty road. Transitioning the AK into one hand, Deckard grabbed the terrorist by the collar and flung him down the cliff to take a magic carpet ride with his buddy.

The remaining terrorist recovered enough by this point to charge at Deckard. The American grabbed him by the wrist and elbow, then shifted and dumped the terrorist over his hip in a simple judo throw. The terrorist coughed and tried to get back to his feet. Deckard placed a shoe on his forehead and pushed him down the cliff.

He could hear the terrorist scream as he hit the nearly 90 degree slope and begin somersaulting all the way down to the river.

Deckard was hardly breathing heavy, but truth be told, his leg burned like hell from an injury he had received on his previous mission to Mexico. He went from one job to the next and hadn’t had enough time to heal.

That was when someone initiated a slow clap. There was one at every party. Deckard looked back. It was Bill.

The entire team was gathered at the back of the truck. Rick stood with his arms crossed. Zach and Paul, both with their Taliban starter beards had taken advantage of the pit stop to smoke cigarettes. Bill finished clapping and scratched his goatee.

“Not bad Deckard, but I gotta know. Why didn’t you just kill those fuck heads outright.”

“I did. None of these dumbasses even knows how to swim. If they manage to survive the fall, they will sink right to the bottom of that river down there.”

Bill frowned. His face looked like worn leather, his biceps and shoulders threatening to tear the man dress he wore open at the seams.

“Next time use a bullet. A bullet is always a good choice.”

“I didn’t want to compromise our mission in case there are other enemy positions in the area.”

“This is Afghanistan,” Rick lectured. “No one will notice a few gunshots and besides, what’s a little stray gunfire between friends.”

“Get back in the cab,” Bill motioned the driver who was still gathering his wits. “Let’s load up and get rolling. We have hard times to hit.”

Deckard walked back to the rear of the truck, forcing himself not to favor his bum leg.

Rick glared at Deckard as he reclaimed his AK and Glock before pulling himself back inside the hidden compartment.

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DIRECT ACTION, Chapter Four

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Chapter 4

Deckard touched down in Kabul where he was met by a minder, a bored looking private security contractor who escorted him to a waiting area where he sat quietly until his name was called. Boarding a CASA C-212, the aircraft took off down the runway like a shot, forcing Deckard to hold on to the fuselage to avoid being thrown out of his seat. No one bothered to tell him what their destination was. There were several pallets of supplies on board, probably destined for some remote combat outpost in the hinterlands somewhere. Deckard was just a strap hanger hitching a ride.

Drifting off to sleep, he woke with a start as the landing gear bounced off a dirt runway. The CASA spun around at the end of the landing strip as the loadmaster lowered the ramp. Hooking a thumb out into the dusty runway, he indicated to Deckard that it was time for him to unass himself from their bird so they could head to their final destination.

Stepping off the ramp, Deckard moved to the side to avoid the CASA as it powered back down the runway and soared off into the air. He soon oriented himself, recognizing where he was by identifying the aircraft graveyard off to the side of the runway. There were old Russian planes and helicopters that sat collecting rust and dust under the Afghan sun.

He was at FOB Chapman in Southern Afghanistan. He has passed through the base several times back when he used to do work for Ground Branch.

Left to his own devices, Deckard walked alongside the runway. He spotted a few contractors milling about in the distance around some of the buildings but there was no one waiting of him or even acknowledging his presence. Heat coming up off the ground created a mirage, making the buildings ahead of him seem to ripple in the morning light.

It was a long walk, Deckard undoing a couple buttons on his North Face shirt to try to get some air. By the time he walked up to the camp, a pickup truck had come through the gate and cruised up alongside him. The driver wore a pair of sunglasses and sported a half assed beard and mustache. His skin was dark, Filipino maybe.

“You Deckard?” the driver asked.

“Yeah.”

The driver got out and patted Deckard down. All he had in his pockets was his alias passport, a credit card, and the other documents that Sarah had issued him in DC.

“Get in.”

Deckard did as he was told, slamming the door as he jumped into the passenger seat. Spinning the wheel, the driver took them back out through the gate. Several Afghan guards and a CIA Global Response Staff contractor opened the gate for them. Outside, they drove onto a dirt road, up the side of a dry stream bed and onto a paved road heading south.

His escort wasn’t the talkative type apparently, didn’t even give a name. Deckard noted the Glock 19 strapped to the driver’s hip and the AK sitting on the backseat. Meanwhile, Deckard was unarmed. If shit went sideways, he’d go for the AK and it would be a mad minute. Whatever happened, happened.

He sniffed at the familiar scent that hung in the air as the pickup truck kicked up a long plume of dust in its wake. Large patches of poorly farmed plots of land zipped by on both sides, small blotches of green showing where the Afghans had managed to irrigate the soil. Large walled compounds that housed entire families sat amid the open fields.

Holding on to the handle on the door, Deckard bounced as the driver launched them down the side of an embankment, going off road. They were rumbling across the Khowst bowl. The flat lunar landscape stretched across the earth in all directions until the heat mirage blended it into the distant snow capped mountains. Those mountains could leave men dead in seconds, Deckard knew from first hand experience. He has last been in Afghanistan less than six months ago with Samruk International when they cleared out a Afghan drug lord’s enclave out of his mountain redoubt.

They drove through the morning. Deckard squinted in the sunlight but the driver wore his dark sunglasses and remained stoic, unphased by the passing terrain or his passenger. Deckard tried to place him.

Of the four words he had muttered, the accent was clearly American. He wore Solomon cross trainers, blue jeans, and an Afghanistan soccer Jersey. Even sitting down, Deckard could tell that the driver was short, maybe five foot five. His skin was brown and had probably darkened since he had been in country. Most likely of Filipino descent. There were Filipino-Americans who served in US Special Operations Forces, but it could also be possible that he was a veteran of the Filipino Naval Special Operations Group which did extensive training and exchange programs from his home country to the US Navy SEALs.

Time would tell.

The driver reached behind Deckard’s seat and grabbed a couple bottles of water. He tossed one to his passenger while unscrewing the cap on the other, locking the wheel by holding it between his knees.

“Drink up.”

It was early afternoon by the time they rolled up on their destination, a lone compound near a spur coming off the mountains. Clicking a hand held radio, the driver announced their arrival and someone inside opened the gate for them. Pulling inside the thick earthen walls, the driver parked alongside the mud and stone structure in the center of the compound. There was one other pickup truck and a large Afghan janga truck inside the compound.

Covered from top to bottom with colorful murals, ribbons, blue and yellow sashes, and hanging chimes, the trucks were used by locals for transporting materials, the outside of the vehicles painted up and decorated for good luck.

“Wait here,” the driver instructed as they stepped out of the pickup and slammed the doors. The Filipino disappeared inside the stone hut while the gate guard who had let them in strode towards him. His eyes were slits as he stared at Deckard with contempt. He wasn’t just sizing up the new comer. There was something more. He looked at him like he was a piece of steak on a table. The gate guard wore dusty civilian clothes with a AK-47 slung over his back. He readjusted it on his shoulder as he blew passed Deckard and followed the driver inside.

Leaning up against the pickup, Deckard felt that everything inside the compound had gotten a little too quiet. In the cab of the truck, he could see the rifle that the driver had left behind. It put him somewhat at ease. A loaded rifle would not have been left there if they were planning to kill him. It wouldn’t have been a bad plan from their point of view. If this really was Liquid Sky, they could run a counter-intelligence operation by luring in potential infiltrators and then killing them. It would send a hell of a message to anyone else who might have been thinking along the same lines. Who was really laying a trap for who?

A hulking figure emerged from inside the stone building. He was built like a linebacker with arms and legs like tree trunks. Coming in around six foot three, he was almost as wide as he was tall. As he approached Deckard, his eyes were drilling holes into the newcomer.

“You’re Deckard?” he asked as if his driver may have picked up the wrong person. “Tell me a story,” he said as he ran a hand over his goatee.

“What kind of story?” Deckard said with a frown.

“A Deckard story. One of the good ones. The kind I hear are so outlandish, so fucking bizarre, I don’t know what to think. I’ve seen some shit in my day but the stuff I hear about you makes me wonder.”

“What have you heard? I will tell you if its real or not.”

“Heard you are some kind of rogue operator. Deckard: used to be shit hot in Army Special Operations, got picked up by the Agency, and then you fucked up so they PNG’ed you.”

“True story.”

“Vigilante Dirty Harry shit, assassinating terrorists. Working as a singleton to rescue a Delta team in Colombia.”

“Maybe.”

“Rumors going around that you almost started a war with the Chinese in Burma, cleaning out one of these Hadji drug lords from his mountain fortress,” the man motioned to the Hindu Kush mountains that towered above them. “Even heard you were involved with para-military operations in Mexico.”

“Some of those stories are exaggerated.”

“What about this tale people whisper in hushed tones about some cruise liner in the Pacific Ocean. The one that sank with all hands on board, the ship packed with high level shot callers in government and business. Was that you?”

“They call it one of the world’s largest public safety accidents.”

“Public safety accident?”

“That’s what they say. Like the Hindenburg.”

“Like the Hindenburg?”

“Fucking Nazi Zeppelin.”

“And I suppose that story just a tall tale.”

“Must be. Can’t believe every conspiracy theory you hear.”

“You can call me Bill,” he told Deckard while reaching into his pocket and pulling out his Oakley sunglasses. “I run this outfit. Here is the deal. You check out as legit, some ugly shit in your past but that is the name of the game. We’ve only had a day to prepare for a mission that is probably going to go down tonight. You are tagging along. Probationary status only. You kit up, go where you are told, do what you are told. No questions. My team does the op. You just pull security and make sure we don’t get our asses shot off. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Come with me.”

Bill led him inside the stone building which served as their operations center. The conditions were spartan inside. Some gear and weapons were stacked up against one wall. A couple desks had been improvised by laying plywood on top of stacked cinder blocks. Deckard’s driver sat at one of the desks looking at an open laptop that displayed satellite photography. He had a Iridium satellite phone pressed to his ear, a wire from it leading out a window to a up link antennae on the roof.

“You’ve met Ramon,” Bill informed him. Now he had a name to go with the face. Deckard was taking it all in. Who was Ramon on the phone with? Someone back in Kabul? Someone in the field? As Bill had pointed out, it wasn’t his place to ask questions.

“This is the team you’ll be working with,” Bill waved towards the men lounging around the room. “You’re gear is in the corner over there. We go in like Indig. This is a low-vis operation so everyone will be sterile when we leave the wire. If you die, we will try to recover your body, not because we like you but in order to protect our OPSEC. If you get left out there for the enemy to pick over, you will be presumed to be a white mercenary as you will have no identification papers on you and no American weapons or gear.”

Bill sat down in front of another computer and opened his email.

“Get your kit together. We are standby to launch at 2230.”

The three other Operators on the team stared at Deckard. They were sizing him up like a piece of meat. There were no handshakes or high fives. It wasn’t just a professional distrust that stemmed from them not having any past experiences together. Deckard felt like he had just walked into a meeting with the mafia. There was no brotherhood, just a nest of vipers who could turn on him at any moment.

He had expected nothing less but the question remained, was this Liquid Sky?

Recognizing one of the team members as the guy who had opened the gate for them, Deckard tried to piece together who these guys were. This one had long slicked back hair, looked like he was well manicured even out in the field. He was the pretty boy on the team. He had a mobile game console fired up and was engrossed in shooting up space aliens or something, not even bothering to look up at Deckard again. The other two were built like Bill and looked like they had been drafted from an NFL lineup. One of them snorted at Deckard before going back to flipping through a magazine. The other was busy cleaning his Glock pistol.

Deckard went to the pile of gear that Bill had pointed him towards as being his for the mission. There was a locally made man dress, the dishdasha that Afghan men wore. There was also some el cheapo concealable body armor made in Latin America, a Glock with locally procured cloth holster, a AK-47, a Chinese chest rig for spare magazines and a few other odds and ends. It wasn’t much to work with. If their mission was to be completely denied then they had to use local weapons and kit, no high tech on this mission.

It got him thinking again. Why the need for deniability? US Special Operations Forces were still conducting counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan on a regular basis. With Conventional Forces withdrawing, it was left to Special Operations to perform maintenance on any Islamist fools who went passed a certain threshold. Once a terrorist started acting up too much, they would send in shooters to sort him out. Or a drone strike. It had become such a sport that Delta Force was even sending their students from the Operator Training Course to Afghanistan for their final exam, a live combat operation.

So what was the need for this team and their plausible deniability?

Deckard spent an hour and a half squaring his kit away. He had a small commercial radio which he made sure was charged up with a full battery. He loaded up five AK-47 magazines from a box of loose ammunition before loading up his Glock magazines as well. Then he field stripped both weapons and conducted functions checks. He was careful and deliberate about this final task, it was possible that Bill had his weapons rendered inert by messing with the trigger mechanism or filing down the firing pins but both weapons were good to go.

After getting his kit together the way he wanted it he went off and found a cardboard box full of bottled water. Twisting off the cap he downed half a bottle in one gulp. He needed to be hydrated if they were going to be out all night cruising through ‘vills and scaling ridge lines.

As he sipped the rest of the water he tried to place Bill and his team. It seemed that his intuition had been correct about the team he was after being former US Special Operations but which unit did they come from?

Each unit had their own culture, their own bravado, and their own way of doing things. Rangers were typically younger guys. Hard charging door kicking maldoons who took no shit from no one. Special Forces guys were usually older. Often with age they brought some more maturity to the table and the ability to operate in small teams. Most of them were pretty laid back dudes, a character trait needed when conducting their primary missions, Unconventional Warfare and Foreign Internal Defense. The Ranger mentality didn’t exactly lend itself to training foreign third world soldiers. While the team sized up Deckard, he had sized them up as well. These guys were not former Rangers or Special Forces.

The other Army Special Operations unit was Delta Force and that was a whole other animal. Trained for Counter-Terrorist operations ranging from Direct Action raids to aircraft take downs, Delta drew talent from both Special Forces and Rangers then polished their combat skills to ridiculously high levels. Delta was known for being the military’s most professional unit. The team he was with now seemed a little too non-nonchalant, like they had an expectation of victory. That sense of entitlement didn’t exist in Delta.

The Marines had Recon, Force Recon, and their new Special Operations component, MARSOC. Marines were brought up the right way, starting at boot camp at Paris Island. The Recon and MARSOC shooters in the Marine Corps were clean cut but straight shooters who knew how to take the fight to the enemy. Their sense of tradition, esprit de corps, and discipline along with their Infantry background placed them closer to Rangers than Special Forces. Deckard frowned. You could pick a single Marine out of a crowd of a hundred people and none of these people were one of them.

Then you had the Navy. He already suspected that Ramon was a US or perhaps Filipino Navy SEAL. Deckard had worked with and respected many men on the teams but had to wonder. The linebacker physic that most of them had came from an obsession that many SEALs had with jacking steel in the gym. There was one particular Squadron within SEAL Team Six, the Navy’s equivalent to Delta Force, that was known to specifically recruit the biggest guys out of Green Platoon. It wasn’t much to go on though. Finishing his bottle of water, Deckard knew he’d have to wait and see, develop the situation, and see what shook out of the woodwork.

Hopefully he wouldn’t die in the meantime.

“So you’re here to pick up the slack for Henderson?” A voice said from behind.

Deckard turned to face him, thinking fast. It was a dude with the slicked back hair who had been playing video games.

“Henderson?”

“Made a non-verbal withdraw from the course on our last op. Ate one to the facepiece.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Why?” he asked with a shrug of his shoulder. “Fuck do you care.”

“Just saying. I didn’t know him.”

“Just try to hang with us tonight and don’t step on your crank with golf cleats. If you fuck us, we’ll leave your sorry ass out there.”

“I understand.”

“What the fuck ever,” he said as if there was a period after each word. “I heard the RUMINT on you and I don’t fucking buy it. I think you’re just a shit head Army fuck who bolo’ed his ops. You don’t even belong here. You’re not one of us.”

“You mean because I wasn’t in the teams?” Deckard dropped it, intentionally trying to elicit information.

“Fuck the teams. That’s vanilla shit. We operate on a whole different level, even before we left the Navy.”

Gotcha, Deckard thought.

“Hey!” Ramon interrupted from across the room. He was on the satellite phone again.

“We a go?” Bill asked as he looked up from his computer.

“Overwatch has eyes on the target. He just arrived at the objective. This should be his bed down site unless overwatch reports him leaving.”

“That’s a green light,” Bill confirmed. “Everyone kit up, we roll in ten.”

Deckard’s antagonist with the pretty hair swung back around to confront him one more time.

“You stay on me while we are out there cheese dick. You’re going to pull black side security on the objective and make sure Hadji doesn’t skull fuck us while our backs are turned. I’ll release you once we get close to the target compound.”

“Okay.”

“Grab your shit and let’s go.”

“What’s your callsign on the net?”

“What the fuck is this callsign shit? Just call me Rick.”

Deckard ditched his civilian clothes and slipped into the dishdasha, then shrugged into his chest rig, holstered the Glock, slung his AK-47, and clipped his radio in his collar. Ramon was already taking all of the documents and maps from the operations center and dumping them into a burn barrel outside. Lighting a match, it all went up in a golden glow that burned in the early evening light.

Deckard headed outside.

Now he was convinced.

It was going to be another one of those nights.

Deckard was now rolling with Liquid Sky.

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DIRECT ACTION, Chapter 3

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Washington DC:

This is the dumbest fucking idea you’ve ever had.

Deckard thought over Pat’s words to him before he had stepped on the airplane. The passenger plane he was on had just touched down in the bizarre city where every other jerk off had a degree and a plan to save the world.

It wasn’t that Deckard disagreed with what Pat was saying, he just didn’t see any other option. With no trails to follow, the only path left was to put one of their names out there into the netherworld as seeking employment and see who called. Both of them began making phone calls to certain former Special Operations and Intelligence professionals who served as personnel feeders for various black projects.

Pat insisted that it should be him going in, not Deckard. Deckard was the CEO and leader of their Private Military Company, Samruk International, and he wouldn’t be leading anything while working undercover. Deckard insisted. There was a big difference between Pat and him. Pat was something of a legend in the Special Operations community. He retired out of Delta Force as a Master Sergeant. He was a rock star operator who was loved and respected by the community.

Deckard on the other hand was completely disgraced. When shit got ugly between him and the CIA they had completely disavowed him. Today he was considered Persona Non Grata in many circles by people who were pissed at him. Some were angry over things he actually did, others were angry over baseless rumors they had heard. Still others were just angry.

They were trying to infiltrate a rogue group of para-military contractors. Bad ass operators like Pat with sterling reputations wouldn’t cut it. Not on this op. Liquid Sky would never even consider someone like that. They would want someone who was already on the fringes, maybe someone who was already guilty of something. They both knew that Deckard was the right man for this job.

You always had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, Pat had reminded him as he boarded the plane.

Deckard unbuckled his safety belt as the flight attendants opened the doors and he made his way down the aisle. He didn’t have any bags with him. It was another one of those trips.

* * *

After floating his name out there as a freelancer looking for work, Deckard received a phone call in less than twenty four hours. He had no idea if it was Liquid Sky or some other group that was trying to recruit him. He just knew that Liquid Sky would be looking for a warm body and threw the dice.

Some times you just have to let them bitches roll.

His instructions, received via e-mail were to report to a nondescript building near Embassy Row for processing, whatever that meant. Pushing through the glass doors he spoke briefly with the receptionist before she took his photo with a web cam and printed off a black and white photo building pass for him.

“You want to go up to Jorge Bio-Medico on the 5th floor,” she instructed him.

Getting on the elevator, Deckard punched the button for the 5th floor.

When the elevator doors opened, Deckard walked to the door with the Jorge Bio-Medico logo on it and hit the buzzer. “Please look directly into the camera,” a female voice instructed through the speaker system.

Looking up, he saw the CCTV camera mounted in the corner of the hallway and looked into it. After a moment the door buzzed to allow him in.

A stunning redhead rounded the corner and came to meet him at the door. Deckard was honestly flustered for a moment, at a lose for words. She wore a tight dress that left little to the imagination as to her profile along with a collared shirt with the top buttons undone. Her smile lit up the room, her features framed by flowing red hair.

“Hi Mr. Deckard,” she extended her hand. Deckard held it a little longer than he should have. “My name is Sarah.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said with a grin that he hoped didn’t betray him.

“Just this way,” she said, still smiling as she spun around and led him to an office.

A bank of computer terminals was set up along with a series of different electronic scanners.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“I just need to take some biometrics.”

Sarah instructed him to place his hands down on a glass scanner which read his finger and palm prints. She sat down at her desk and followed the computer prompts to save Deckard’s bio-metric data.

“Now please stand up against the wall Mr. Deckard.”

There was a large white sheet tacked up to the wall like where you get your passport photos taken. He stood right in front of it. A camera mounted into a ball shaped casing rotated up and down on a pivot mount until it focused in on Deckard. He could see the shutter in the lens taking his picture.

It seemed like the entire office was empty except for him and Sarah. What was this place?

“Okay, now we need to get voice. Please state your full name.”

“What is all this about?” Deckard asked.

“We are just gathering your bio-metrics Mr. Deckard.”

“You don’t already have all this stuff on file somewhere?”

“We are a private firm Mr. Deckard. Various entities contract us and we have no access to your military or other service records,” Sarah explained politely. “Can you say your last name please?”

“Deckard.”

“First name?”

Deckard opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted.

“Never mind. It was recording the entire time and it looks like the system has enough of your vocals on file now.”

“Great.”

Bio-metrics was a game changing technology that measured various biological characteristics. Fingerprints had been used by law enforcement for years but today advanced sensors could also measure other unique details from person to person such as the distance between a person’s eyeballs, his gait, the shape of his face, conduct voice spectrum analysis, or match DNA samples. The technology could help the government and corporations secure their property by ensuring that only authorized people were given access, but bio-metrics also carried with it a historical baggage.

The Nazis had used eugenics, racial hygiene, and other types of junk science to catalog human beings for extermination. Another holocaust, this time in an era of advanced bio-metrics, would make the extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany pale by comparison. Big brother was watching, and even professional spies were feeling the heat. In a few years the technology would be so pervasive around the world that it would be impossible for the CIA to plant covert operatives into foreign countries.

While Sarah continued to work on another camera which was recording his specifications, Deckard just had to grin and bare it. It was a high tech cavity search, painless until it wasn’t.

Grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, she wrote something down, folded the paper, and walked towards Deckard with her heels clacking across the floor. She slipped the paper into his shirt pocket and smiled again, her blue eyes showing an interest.

“There is a Greek restaurant not far from here,” she whispered. “I wrote the address down. Meet me there in three hours.”

“I’ll be there.”

She held the door for him on the way out.

“See you soon!” she beamed.

Deckard walked to the elevator wondering what had just happened.

* * *

It was a beautiful sunny day in Washington DC but Deckard decided to show some discretion and chose a table in the back of the restaurant rather than sit outside. He had no pressing need to get all spooky but if Liquid Sky had people watching and assessing him, they would lose respect for him for meeting with Sarah while using sloppy trade craft.

He ordered a beer and told the waiter that his friend would be along shortly.

Taking a sip from his Heineken, he looked up as Sarah slipped into the chair across from him with a sigh. She tossed her hair back and smiled.

“Hi.”

“Howzit?”

He felt like an idiot for reverting back to slang from the place where he was born. Nobody talked like that, including himself.

“Good,” Sarah said handing him a manila envelop. “I think you are all set.”

Deckard popped open the envelop and slid a handful of documents into his hand, a blue US passport staring up at him. It was a full identify package, and on short notice too. Flipping open the passport, he noted his picture alongside the name Sebastian Rothrock.

“Hell of a name,” he commented with a frown.

Sarah shrugged.

“Not my decision. Let’s get something to eat.”

Deckard ordered the lamb souvlaki and Sarah had a Greek salad. Before slipping the false identification documents away, he noted the plane ticket. He was already electronically signed in for a flight later that day. He was going to Kabul, Afghanistan.

They talked while waiting for the food to arrive. Sarah asked a lot of questions about Deckard’s background, much of it he lied about or was otherwise evasive. She picked up on something and steered the conversation in another direction. Deckard asked her similar questions and found out that she had a degree from Georgetown and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She had spent a lot of time in Iraq and Afghanistan using her bio-metrics background to help intelligence agencies and Special Operations units locate enemy fighters.

“You know,” Sarah said as she finished her salad. “I see guys like you come through here every so often. Usually a lot of spooks, people who need covert or clandestine covers but sometimes former Special Operations guys, which I assume you are, heading to one place or another.”

“We’re all looking for work these days.”

“I never know where you are coming from,” she continued. “Usually I don’t know where you are going either. I just process the paperwork and never see you again.”

“Sounds like you are getting sentimental about the job,” Deckard said with a smile.

“Maybe,” Sarah said as he rested her head in her hand with her elbow up on the table.

“If it makes you feel any better, we usually don’t know what the hell is going on ourselves.”

“But you make it sound so romantic.”

“Trust me,” Deckard laughed. “The honeymoon ends fairly quickly.”

“Then why keep doing the job?”

“Everyone has their reasons. Most people will tell you it is patriotism, and yeah, there is a little of that but mostly they do it for the money. There are lots of jobs you can do as a patriot that don’t involve thousand-dollar-a-day paychecks sitting behind a computer in some third world shit hole, jobs that pay better too. But there is a certain amount of path dependency, soldiering or spying is the only life they’ve really known.”

“But you’re above all that now?”

“I don’t need the money if that is what you are asking and I don’t hide behind the American flag. I do this job because I like it. Even when I don’t like it, I choose my own missions, take the jobs that are personally important to me.”

“Like this one?”

Deckard wondered if she was trying to draw him out. Maybe she already had. He was going after his own kind this time around. Rogue operators assassinating democracy advocates around the world. This may not be the most important mission he had ever committed too, but he knew it would be the most challenging mission of his entire career. And the most personal.

“Like this one.”

“You’re an interesting guy Deckard.”

Sarah pulled out her business card, clicked a pen, and wrote a phone number on the back of it before sliding the card across the table to him.

“That’s my personal number,” she told him. “Give me a call when you get back.”

Deckard watched her as she turned around and headed for the door. Her hips rocked gently as she put on her sunglasses and walked out into the sunlight. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at him one last time before turning back towards her office.

Damn.

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Two (part two)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

The team followed him back down to the ground floor. Liquid Sky had tried to bail out a side exit to make their escape but Nikita had that angle in his field of fire. They retreated back into the hospital but now it was a question of whether they would hard point it and wait for extraction or attempt another breakthrough and escape. They could hear the shouting just ahead of them.

Women were screaming. Somewhere in the fray a man’s voice could be heard.

“Get the fuck outta the way!” the voice echoed.

Bursting into the burn ward, Deckard shot glance over the front sight of his 1911 and caught a flash of the enemy as the Liquid Sky member moved into the next room. Sprinting between occupied beds, several patients turned to look at him. Others were in no state to do anything other than let a machine breath for them. Rear security hadn’t spotted Deckard yet and he pushed into the next room.

His shot blasted through a hanging IV bag, spraying the fluid into the air. The .45 caliber round ricocheted off the metal pole that had held up the bag, saving his target from growing a third eye. The shooter ducked and dived through a doorway after his comrades.

A flashbang grenade rolled into the room and spun across the floor towards Deckard’s feet. Without hesitating, Deckard kicked it back. The distraction device made it halfway back to the door before it went off. Even through he knew enough to turn away, the flash was momentarily blinding. The bang was enough to rattle all three of the mercenaries for a few seconds.

Shaking away the spots in his vision, the three mercenaries ran through the orthopedic department and out into the courtyard just in time to see the trail Liquid Sky member slip over the wall and out onto the street on the back side of the building. Their blind spot where Nikita and Pat had no coverage.

“Shooter-One, Gunner-One,” Deckard called out Nikita and Pat’s callsigns. “Secure the body you made and get to the extraction site. We are going to pursue.”

Without waiting for a response, Deckard ran at full speed towards the high wall. Leaping into the air, he planted a foot on the wall and pushed off it, vaulting himself up onto the the lip of the wall where he grabbed hold. Pulling himself over the top, he stayed low as he slid over the wall and dropped down into the dirt and trash on the ground.

Five shadows moved down the street ahead of him. The third world stench was thick in the air as burning trash, body odor, and diesel exhaust combined with the stifling heat. The shadows were in a mad dash, no doubt having shifted their extraction point by radio. Kurt and Aghassi dropped down along side him as they scaled the wall.

Staying in the shadows cast by the wall, the Samruk mercenaries ran after Liquid Sky. They didn’t get far before a white van blasted around the corner up ahead and screeched to a halt. Red brake lights blinked as the van rocked forward before settling into place. The sliding door opened and the five shooters piled inside.

Deckard stepped out into the street, leveling his pistol. With Aghassi and Kurt, the three of them unloaded their handguns into the van. Bullets pockmarked the metal siding, one taking out a rear light as the van sped away but none of them seemed to strike the driver of the getaway vehicle. Now under fire, the van took the first right hand turn to escape the killzone.

Cutting up another side street, Deckard’s lungs felt like they were about to collapse on him. He still wasn’t fully recovered from his previous mission. Although a week and a half had done a lot to help him heal up he still wasn’t nearly at a hundred percent. For a moment, it seemed futile. Back on the main boulevard he turned his head. Sweat stinging his eyes, he spotted a single break light. The van was caught in traffic.

Kurt Jager moved to the nearest car as the driver slowed. Tearing open the door, he grabbed the mustached Pakistani by the head and tossed him out of the vehicle. The mercenaries got in and slammed the doors. Seeing the firepower they were carrying, the driver decided to leave well enough alone.

As Kurt took the wheel, Deckard keyed his radio again.

“We’re heading West,” he announced. Towards the port.

As Kurt began nudging cars out of the way and driving up on the shoulder to get ahead, the driver of the van noticed that they were still being pursued and did the same. Spinning the wheel, the driver took them onto another side street, finding an alternate route to the port of Karachi. By now they were less than a mile away from the port. The van driver now slammed on the accelerator, slowing down enough to prevent the vehicle from spinning out as the paved road turned to dirt.

Kurt Jager downshifted. Experienced in rally racing, Kurt got everything he possibly could out of the third world jalopy. It wasn’t much. Deckard held on to the door to prevent himself from being thrown around the back seat. They were gaining on the van but now the plume of dust kicked up in its wake was obscuring Kurt’s vision. He was forced onto the shoulder of the road, otherwise he would be driving faster than he could see.

As the dust cleared, Kurt immediately yanked the steering wheel to the left to avoid a giant crane the size of the tractor trailer that was parked on the side of the road.

The van driver realized he had an accidental weapon on his hands and began swerving back and forth to kick up an even bigger dust cloud. Leaning into the next turn, Kurt was forced to slow down or risk slamming into another crane or pallet of bricks.

Deckard gritted his teeth, the dust coming through the window sticking to his lips. His suspicions had been confirmed in triplicate. Liquid Sky was the real deal and they were about to slip outside his grasp for good.

Kurt veered left with the road and the dust finally cleared. Looking at a parallel running road, they could see that they had missed a turn. The van was racing towards the end of the port and now there was a set of train track between them and their target.

The port was lit up in a golden glow at night, the shadows wavering through the sedan as Kurt struggled to stay on their query. Tanker ships bobbed in the dark waters, the golden flow from their deck lights bouncing gently on the waves. Connex containers and oil containers flashed between them and the van as they ran parallel paths.

The former GSG-9 commando finally found a passage over the tracks and cut the wheel. The van was doing the same, nosing towards the towering cranes that indicated a commercial shipping yard. The vehicles shot through the connex container storage area and out onto the loading docks. The van stopped near the first crane and the five shadows spilled out. They driver jumped out as well for a total of six.

Anticipating their next move, Kurt put a small administrative building between themselves and Liquid Sky. Gunfire chased them until they reached their cover. Bullets continued to streak through the thin sheet metal walls and shatter windows. To their flank, Deckard heard the roar of a high powered boat engine gassing towards the dock. The long slick craft passed them and slowed down alongside the dock. The mercenaries kicked open the car doors before they had even slowed to a stop.

Taking a knee, Deckard broke cover from behind the structure and returned fire. At forty meters, it was a long shot with his .45 caliber pistol but at least it gave some maneuver room for Kurt and Aghassi to move.

The motor boat pulled up alongside the dock and one by one the Liquid Sky shooters dropped down into it. When the entire team was aboard the boat peeled off. The mercenaries ran for the edge of the dock, firing after the boat but it was too late. The boat powered off into the night, leaving them behind.

Deckard stood with his pistol in slide lock, trying to catch his breath while reloading.

That was when the van exploded and knocked them to the ground.

The sides of the van bulged outwards, tearing at the seams to let an orange fireball escape from inside. The fire curled into air and became black smoke. Deckard groaned as he pulled himself to his feet. He was sweating profusely and now dust was stuck to every inch of exposed skin. He could feel the heat from the fire on his face.

A black SUV pulled up behind them, no doubt vectored in by the giant fireball which gave away their position. Pat got out of the drivers side, hefting his PKM machine gun out with him. Nikita got out of the passenger side with his HK 417 sniper rifle.

“We lost them,” Aghassi said shaking his head. He wasn’t accustomed to losing his targets. As a Special Operations soldier he had lived as a nomad in Afghanistan where he watched terrorists for weeks and months, living like a local. He was once placed in a Pakistani prison in order to eavesdrop on imprisoned Al Qaeda operatives in an attempt to locate Osama Bin Laden. Everyone knew that Aghassi was someone who got the job done when it came to Human Intelligence. He had proved it to Deckard in Mexico.

“We lost them,” he repeated. They all knew that they didn’t have any other leads. They were on the trail of a black ops team that specialized in two things, killing and not being found.

Deckard slammed home a fresh magazine and thumbed the slide release. He said nothing as he holstered the weapon.

“Take a look,” Nikita said to him, reverting back to his native language of Russian. Deckard was still learning that one but understood what the sniper meant.

Nikita opened the SUV’s rear door. Inside was the body of the Liquid Sky shooter that he had killed when they had initially exited the hospital. The 7.62 round had smashed his face pretty good, enough to leave it unrecognizable in a photograph.

On the other side of the wharf, red and blue police lights were flashing.

“Get us out of here,” he told Pat. The entire Samruk International team got inside with Deckard crawling into the back. As they began driving, he pulled out a small LED red light to look over the body. He he was a big dude, Caucasian, definitely lifted weights.

Underneath his clothes, the shooter wore concealable body armor. Over it was a locally procured chest rig that held magazines for the MP5 sub-machine gun that he had been carrying. It looked like the tags had been cut from his clothing and kit, predictably, the team had gone in sterile.

Deckard suddenly realized that he might have known this man in another life. Was he rifling through the body of a guy he had gone to Special Forces selection with? A Ranger buddy from back in the Regiment? Was this a former team mate who had gone over to the other side? He pushed the thought away.

As the police lights closed in, Pat positioned the SUV between two connex containers and cut the headlights. A half dozen police cars screamed by towards the scene of the explosion. Once they had passed, Pat crept back onto the road, turned on the headlights, and began driving towards their safe house.

The corpse also had tattoos. A red crusader cross on the forearm. SPQR tattooed on the shoulder. Stripping off the chest rig and body armor, Deckard located a black rectangle on the ribcage. It was where Nazi soldiers would get their dog tag information tattooed during World War Two. Many modern day soldiers, including Americans, had adopted the practice. This soldier had gone back to a tattoo studio to have that information blacked out rather than pay for a laser removal.

He had nothing. Maybe dental records if he could get access to military databases but even that seemed doubtful. Half the guys in the military had similar or identical tattoos.

Deckard leaned back against the side of the SUV as Pat navigated the back roads of Karachi. Cold sweat tickled down his neck and seeped into his clothes. It hit him like sucker punch.

He was trying to analyze what he had to try to find a lead where there was none. What he did have was a body. What he did know for a fact was that Liquid Sky had just had a member killed in action. What he had was an opportunity, an opportunity to entice Liquid Sky into finding him.

Come tomorrow morning, Liquid Sky would be looking for a new Operator.

Deckard grinned.

He knew just what name to drop in the hat.

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter One (part 1)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Chapter One:

Present Day

Deckard fell down towards the earth, nearly going end over end as he struggled to maintain a positive body position. Glancing at his altimeter, he waved off at 6,000 feet, looked back at his altimeter and then reached for his rip chord at 4,500 feet. When he gave it a yank, his head snapped to the side. He had been pulling on the tube running from his oxygen mask to the bottled O2 strapped under his MC-5 parachute. Making another attempt, he reached in and snatched his ripcord. He pulled it but nothing happen, the metal grip separated from the steel cable which would have pulled the pins and released his parachute.

He didn’t bother to look back at his altimeter but knew he was burning altitude fast. Tracing the main lift web on his parachute harness he grabbed the floating cable and pulled as hard as he could. He was pins out somewhere around 2,000 feet. The pilot chute was out but caught in a wind bubble on his back where it bounced around but failed to catch in the air and deploy his main parachute.

Then the CYPRES system detected the barometric pressure at low altitude, indicating that something was wrong. The computer was a fail safe in case the jumper was knocked conscience or a similar emergency. The reserve parachute deployed just as the pilot chute finally pulled his main parachute out of its deployment bag.

Two parachutes, both with forward drive, were now over his head, his reserve and main parachute snaking around each other and becoming intertwined. With two canopies over his head, cutting away and pulling his reserve was out of the question. All he had was a main and a reserve and they were both deployed already.

Deckard reached up and and grabbed the suspension lines of the reserve parachute, desperately trying to prevent it from entangling itself around the main parachute. If his main chute was collapsed by the reserve there was no recourse or corrective measure which could save him. His biceps were burning as he pulled and separated the suspension lines but the reserve chute was still trying to drive forward and since it was anchored to the parachute harness, and to Deckard, it kept trying to make a u-turn back into his main chute.

As the the main parachute began to collapse, Deckard felt weightless, the ground rushing up to reach him. Somehow he managed to survive the landing. Shrugging out of his parachute harness he put his M4 rifle into operation and moved out.

The enemy was quickly advancing. Joined by his team mates, Deckard opened fire. A single round fired from the rifle before it jammed. Deckard executed the malfunction drill by muscle memory without consciously thinking through the steps. Slapping the magazine, he racked the bolt and tapped the forward assist. Pulling the butt stock back into the pocket of his shoulder, he aimed down the sights and squeezed the trigger on the first enemy he spotted. The hammer dropped on the firing pin but the rifle did not discharge.

Now his team mates had to pick up their rate of fire to compensate for Deckard’s weapon being out of action. He performed the malfunction drill again. Slap, rack, but no bang. The man to Deckard’s left went down under a hail of gunfire. Slap, rack, but nothing. Deckard dropped the magazine, pulled the bolt to the rear and inspected the chamber. It looked clear. Loading a fresh magazine he fired again. Nothing.

His other team mate on his right side collapsed like an empty coat. Deckard slapped the magazine, racked the bolt, and squeezed the trigger but the weapon still would not fire. The enemy was right on top of him. He was still attempting to get his rifle back online when the terrorists swarmed in on him.

That was when he woke up.

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DIRECT ACTION: Prologue

SEAL_Samruk_130304

The prologue for the upcoming third Deckard novel called Direct Action:

Afghanistan, 2005:

Navy Chief David McAtee was alive when the Jihadists moved in. They were Chechens. Foreign fighters who had over run the hide site he had occupied. With three team mates he had tried to escape and evade down the side of the mountain. There were simply too many of them for him and his recon team to successfully break contact and escape.

Chief McAtee was alive when the enemy started picking over his body, beginning to strip him of his weapons and equipment to divide amongst themselves. Shot through one lung, both legs, and through his cheek, he was in no condition to be able to defend himself. His arm was limp, he couldn’t even feel any sensation in it as one of the Chechen’s undid the clasp on his wrist watch and then let his arm flop to the ground.

Chief McAtee was alive when the Chechens cut the gear off his body and yanked his M4 rifle off him by its sling. He struggled to breath. His three comrades were dead, that much he knew for sure. He had watched them die one by one. Now he knew that they were better off.

Chief McAtee was alive when the knives came out and they began the cutting.

 

 

* * *

Wind howled down the side of the mountain. Snow streaked crags of rock poked up from beneath the white ground, forcing the team to negotiated their way around them. The windswept mountain was an even bigger obstacle than the enemy, the terrain slowing them as they moved uphill through knee deep snow.

Master Chief Bill Geddes saw the world through a green tinted lens. The PVS-14 Night Optical Device limited both his depth perception and his field of vision but he was walking point and needed to be able to see the enemy before they saw him. Although the wind was blowing snow drifts off the side of the mountain, the night was clear with a full moon hanging over their heads. The added illumination would make it easier for Master Chief Geddes to spot the enemy, but it would also make it easier for the enemy to see his team.

For what seemed like the hundredth time, he wiped snow off the lens of his NODs so that he could see.

The word to describe their current mission was anger. Another descriptive term would be frustration. As members of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, they had been assigned to lay up in a hide site over a valley and watch for suspected enemy activity. Intelligence indicated that large numbers of foreign fighters were moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan through the valley and the brass at Bagram wanted a heads up as to what was coming their way.

A second reconnaissance team, led by Chief McAtee, had occupied another over watch position where they had a vantage point over a section of the road running through the valley that Bill’s team couldn’t cover. Four hours ago McAtee’s hide site had been compromised. From what they could gather from the radio transmissions, the team had been on the run ever since. Two hours ago, they had lost radio contact with McAtee’s team. Bagram couldn’t get them on comms and neither could Bill.

Troops in Contact had been called over the net, but higher said it was a no-go. There was a storm moving in and they could not risk flying in close air support or the SEAL platoon that had been standing by as a Quick Reaction Force. Last month a CH-47 filled with Rangers had been shot out of the sky by the Taliban. It had turned into a big fiasco on the news networks back home and now the commanders were risk adverse about sending in helicopters on another rescue mission.

They could write off a small four man recce team, but another downed CH-47 could cost some Colonel his star.

Pissed. That was another adjective that described how he felt, Bill thought to himself.

Since the cavalry wasn’t coming and they had no overhead surveillance, Bill decided to take the initiative. His four man recce team abandoned their hide side and began trudging through the snow towards the last known location of McAtee’s team.

Bill and his men had hardly slept since occupying the hide site several days prior. Now they were dehydrated from snaking their way up the side of the mountain. Most of them were big guys, weight lifters with a lot of upper body strength. Now they were paying the price as those large muscles required a lot of oxygen during exertion, oxygen that wasn’t available at high altitudes. They were exhausted, but Bill knew that as SEALs that there was no way they would turn around, no way they would quit, not without bringing their comrades home with them.

His legs dragging trails behind him, Bill was perhaps the most tired of all as he was up front breaking through the thick snow and making their route selection. Time seemed to standstill in the night, their faces having gone numb from the cold wind, their heads beginning to hang as sleep deprivation set it. Maybe it was another forty five minutes, maybe an hour and a half, during the After Action Review Bill was unable to recall with any clarity, but he saw four silhouettes in the night.

The Master Chief could see them clearly through his PVS-14’s from several hundred meters out. They wore thick jackets and Afghan pakol caps on their heads. The four of them had AK-47 rifles slung over their backs as they squatted, huddled around something. There was no camp fire. Adjusting the the focus on his night vision monocle, Bill could see their long ratty beards blowing in the wind.

The firefight was nothing spectacular. The SEAL Team Six operator had his men get on line and they opened fire as one, cutting down the four enemy fighters in half a second. No fancy tactics were going to be applied with the men exhausted and in such difficult terrain, and none were needed. Their M4 rifles cracked through the night. Two of the Jihadists dropped like marionettes that had their strings suddenly cut. Another was struck in the shoulder, then tried to get back up and run until Bill emptied the rest of his magazine into the Jihadist’s back. The last fell face first into the snow. At first he tried to push himself back up, then thought better of it it, laid back down, and promptly died.

Bill dropped his expended magazine, inserted a full one, and then dropped the bolt on his M4 to chamber the first round. The other three SEALs on his team did the same.

Moving forward, the mountain planed out into a small ledge. As they grew closer, the SEALs put a few insurance shots into the Chechens just to make sure that they were well and truly dead. Closing on the bodies, the SEALs were able to see what the enemy had been crouching around. Bill slung his rifle and ran to the prostrate form. Laying face down, the snow around Chief McAtee had been stained a dark shade of crimson.

The seam down the back of McAtee’s fatigues had been sliced open with a knife. His ass was bloody where the enemy had been sodomizing him. Bill took a knee and rolled his friend over on to his back. Reilly, the team medic dropped his aid bag and began digging into it.

As Bill rolled McAtee onto his back, his blood ran colder than the wind blasting down the side of the mountain. McAtee convulsed in his arms, in a deep state of shock. He was not conscience but still technically alive. When Bill cradled his friend in his arms, the SEAL’s head hinged backwards with a jagged second mouth opening at the neck. McAtee was shaking in his arms.

Reilly crouched over him with bandages but there was nothing he could do. He was a Special Operations trained medic and now felt utterly hopeless as there was nothing they could do for their comrade. They could hear McAtee gurgling as he struggled to breath.

Finally, the ravaged SEAL convulsed for the last time and lay dead in Bill’s arms. The four SEALs stared at the ground in shock. Each of them was a veteran of countless battles. Ship seizures in the Persian Gulf, covert operations in Somalia, targeted killings in Colombia, and direct action raids in Afghanistan but none of them had ever experienced anything like this. This was different. This was crossing a line from which they could not return.

Bill laid McAtee down in the snow. Digging into his kit he found a space blanket that he used to cover the remains with. He then began camouflaging the body under snow with the other SEALs joining in. Reilly got out his GPS and wrote down a ten-digit grid location to where the body was cached. A snow storm was quickly blowing in from the West.

Getting to his feet, Bill slung his rifle in front of him and looked up the side of the mountain. They had three more SEALs to recover. They were up there, somewhere. With the Chechens.

Bill looked over his shoulder at his recce team. His gaze cut right through them.

“From this day forward,” he shouted over the wind. “It is an eye for an eye.”

The SEALs nodded.

“Every single day. For McAtee and the rest.”

Master Chief Bill Geddes ground his teeth and stepped off in search of the others.

“Its blood for blood,” he yelled up the mountain at anyone who would listen.

Three SEALs followed close behind their team leader and disappeared into the snow storm.

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Target Deck Makes the Grade with Peter Nealen and Jack Silkstone!

I was hoping to get a review of Jack’s first novel, Reflexive Fire, up before this, but it’ll have to wait.  Suffice it to say that it’s awesome, but Jack has ratcheted things up a little in this latest installment of the Deckard novels.

The aftermath of the bloodletting in Reflexive Fire has Deckard’s PMC, Samruk International, pared down to little more than two platoons.  Those two platoons open the book with a successful strike on a south Mexico cartel leader, followed by signing a contract with the surviving police chief in the area to take care of the cartel problem.  It’s sort of a “sign this, now,” sort of arrangement, but she doesn’t seem to mind later on, as Deckard and his boys start savaging the cartels in southern Mexico.

A lot of what is happening as background for the book will be familiar to anyone who has kept an eye on the deteriorating situation in Mexico.  While Deckard’s operation is in the south, in what is presently disputed territory near Guatemala, the Zetas and Sinaloa cartel are featured prominently in the background.  The Zapatista rebels in Chiapas even make several appearances.  Jack even brings Fast and Furious into the mix, along with questionable black operations being run by shadowy individuals in the corridors of power.

Read the rest on American Praetorians!

So recently I’ve been copping a bit of heat regarding PRIMAL Fury. Fans have been messaging, emailing, tweeting, Facebooking… I’m surprised I haven’t had a damn carrier pigeon arrive at my house. The crux of it is this, you guys want PRIMAL Fury and you want it now. I’ve got some sad news for you team, it ain’t ready. It will be ready soon but clearly that’s no good to those of you wanting to read now. So in the meantime you can check out a few of my buddies who have new books out that are ready to go. These guys are independent, ex-military and pumping out some hard core action.

Jack Murphy’s latest is Target Deck. It’s high speed low drag violence. I recently caught up with Jack in Vegas and spent some time swapping stories over beers. This guy’s got his finger on the pulse.

Read the rest on the PRIMAL blog!

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Mailing Out Your Books

bookshipment

Thanks everyone who ordered, the response was pretty overwhelming!  I’ve only got three more Target Deck paperbacks available at this time and then I will have to order another shipment.  On the other hand, I’ve got three boxes filled with Reflexive Fire novels…

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Casting Target Deck

One of the questions I get asked a lot is who I would cast to play the characters in my novels if they were to be made into movies.  I usually resist answering for two reasons.  First, I don’t offer a whole lot of physical description of my characters.  This is especially true of Deckard, my protagonist.  I like to let readers fill in the blanks for themselves.  Second, I don’t like Hollywood and wouldn’t want them messing around with my books to begin with.  To tell you the truth, I’d rather have my books made into video games that movies anyway.  I think games are where its at these days and the creative teams behind them are doing a better job at story telling in my opinion…but that’s another post.

Since people are so curious I will go ahead and try to cast a few characters in Target Deck.

Deckard isn’t like most action heroes.  He isn’t Captain of the football team material, isn’t “all-American” or any of those stereotypes.  His motivations are different and this sets him apart from the rest of the pack.  He understands the absurdity going on in the world and can approach it with a sense of humor.  He has a strong sense of justice, but is a smart ass and doesn’t have much faith in the system as it were.  I think anyone playing Deckard has to be more than the Channing Tatum Dallas Cowboys Quarterback stand in.  A lot more actually.  The actor playing him has to be able to not only play a tough guy but play a smart ass.  Two candidates that come to mind are Guy Pearce and Clive Owen.

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Clive Owen does Gonzo pretty well, maybe too Gonzo…

Owen can play even the most absurd roles with a completely straight face and break people’s balls along the way.  You get the sense that there is a lot in life that he doesn’t take all that seriously.  Take the movie “Shoot ‘Em Up” for instance.  Guy Pearce is another great candidate because he comes off as being highly intelligence but with a sense of humor.  If you watched him in “Lock Out” you can see how well he plays the hero who is just winging it and flying by the seat of his pants the entire time despite the high stakes involved.  That’s Deckard material right there.  Pearce gets my endorsement for the lead role but I still like Owen as an actor.

Guy-Pearce

Guy Pearce plays the loveable rogue…

Casting a lot of these characters from my book is difficult because they are mostly composite characters of people I actually know but I will try to continue.  Another character, really Deckard’s right hand man, is a former Delta operator named Pat.  Pat is the archetype Senior NCO that we would all want to serve with in the military.  He is also the guy who has to reign Deckard in when he gets out of control.  For the role of Pat, I see no reason to beat around the bush.  The guy who comes immediately to mind for this role is Dale Comstock.  Dale served for almost thirty years, ten of those years in Delta Force, in addition to 82nd Airborne and 3rd Special Forces Group.  He’s been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.

dale-comstock

Dale Comstock: don’t sass him or he will reach through your computer screen and choke you.

Kurt Jager is a character I borrowed from Rob, a buddy of mine as a way of thanking him by interjecting Kurt into the books I write.  Think of it as a little “insider baseball” for people who have been reading my stuff for a long time.  Kurt a former German GSG-9 Counter-Terrorist commando and judging by the feedback I get from readers, he is one of their favorite characters.  I reached out to ask Rob who he could envision as playing Kurt Jager:

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Jason Statham as former GSG-9 commando Kurt Jager?

Aghassi is Samruk International’s HUMINT (Human Intelligence) specialist.  With an Middle Eastern background, he can blend into foreign cultures.  Having served in Army Special Operations he was then picked up by the secretive Intelligence Support Activity.  I would go with Saïd Taghmaoui for this role.  He has played a number of different roles that call for an Arab, I think he could do a great job playing an Arab-American spy.

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Saïd Taghmaoui as Aghassi, SOF super-spy

I was pretty stumped as to who would play the role of Samantha, the female police chief who inherits the job after her father is killed by a drug cartel.  It is not like there is any shortage of attractive Mexican women (also another post) but I think Tamara Feldman is a great candidate for the part of the gutsy Mexican police officer.  For those who think this character is just too impossible for fiction, you’re right.  She is based off of a real female police officer in Mexico.

Tamara

Tamara Feldman playing an unlikely police chief in Mexico? Why not.

Now what about Nikita, the rogue sniper from Kazakhstan who is barely under Deckard’s control half the time?  Who do you think could pull it off in a movie?

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Jack Murphy’s Target Deck is now PUBLISHED

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