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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Twelve (part 2)

Nikita

They laid down as the sun was coming up and got up eight hours later. No one had slept particularly well.

Their pilot pounded down some chow, threw on his sunglasses, and walked over to the airfield to start preparing the Twin Otter for the night’s flight. The others loaded all their gear into the van. Ramon and Bill made some last minute inspections of the objective using the remote cameras. Ramon would be able to access the cameras via a 3G connection on his tablet so he could update Bill in real time as they made their infil.

The sky was turning a hazy yellow. It was time.

Liquid Sky boarded the van and drove back to the airfield. They spent over an hour just kitting up and getting their gear exactly where they wanted it, then checked each other over just to make sure. Each team member going on the objective carried a half brick of C4 and an initiation system.

Rick and Ramon would be securing the second drop zone down on the ground, their exfil point. When Ramon walked into the hangar with his concealable plate carrier on and MAC-10 slung over his shoulder, Deckard noticed that curved knife that the former Special Forces soldier had sheathed on his belt. It was a Filipino Karabit fighting knife.

Images from Pakistan flickered in front of his eyes. One of the Pakistanis he had seen in the hospital in Karachi with a series of deep, defensive knife wounds on his body. That had been Ramon’s work.

They didn’t bother rehearsing actions in the air. After the training jumps and unending hours in the simulator, they either knew their shit at this point or they didn’t. They took off their helmets and propped them behind their parachutes to lean back on as they sat on the floor of the hangar.

Ramon and Rick got in the van and drove off to the exfil site where they would be waiting to pick up the Liquid Sky team.

The wait began. They drank bottled water and waddled off occasionally to take a piss in the grass.

Deckard turned and caught Nadeesha’s eye for just a moment. She had her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her trigger hand lay over the MAC-10 tied down across her chest. She turned away from him, breaking eye contact.

Ramon called Bill on an encrypted cell phone. They were in place in Manila and had their tablet up, watching the camera feeds. They had positively identified De Jesus when he stepped outside to make a phone call by the pool. It was almost ten at night. Bill stood.

It was their green light.

The pilot fired up the Twin Otter and Liquid Sky filed through the door.

Deckard felt oddly relaxed as the aircraft lifted off and he clipped his pro-tec helmet on under his chin. He had decided that he was going to make it to the rooftop.

They gained altitude as the pilot took them North, over the lagoon towards Manila. Bill opened the door and began spotting for their jump. It would be a short flight as the pilot flew on a flight plan that took them just East of the city. Zach, Deckard, Paul, and Nadeesha stood up to be on standby for the jump. The airplane rocked under their feet, forcing them to hold on to the seats for balance.

Sweat rolled down Deckard’s face as he steadied himself, burdened under all of his equipment. The wing suit, the parachute, the weapons, explosives, and helmet made it awkward to move around to say the least. Without thinking about it, the jumpers began closing on each other, getting nut to butt as they inched towards the door.

As they flew along the edge of the city, Deckard saw that Manila was lit up as brilliantly as any other major metropolitan city with hues of gold, blue, and yellow. They would have no problem identifying landmarks as they navigated around the city. The only problem was that unlike land navigation, there was no doubling back.

Bill had his head stuck out the door looking for their jump point. It was a flood gate on the outskirts of the city. The Liquid Sky team leader turned to look inside the aircraft. He held one finger in the air telling them that they were one minute out. Then he turned to look back outside.

The other four jumpers were now right on top of each other, almost as if they were going to push Bill out the door if he didn’t get out of the way. Bill leaned inside again, holding his thumb and pointer finger about an inch apart. Thirty seconds out.

Deckard swallowed. Everything seemed surreal, he could hardly hear anything with the turbo props going and his helmet covering his ears.

Finally, Bill gave a follow me motion and dived out of the door. One by one, Zach, Paul, Deckard, and Nadeesha spilled out into the night.

Following Bill’s lead, they glided behind him heading West, into the city. Settling into position, Deckard noted the golf course passing on his left as they continued towards the river. They had six miles to cover before reaching their target. Manila looked like a painting from their vantage point, pin pricks of gold light shown through windows, larger street lamps and signs made big blotches of star shaped light. Wind whistled in Deckard’s ears as they glided deeper into the city.

manila

Their next landmark was coming up, the river that weaved through the center of Manila. Bill adjusted his attack angle slightly, shifting left and pointing directly into the metro area where buildings jutted into the night sky like jagged teeth. The rest of Liquid Sky followed his lead as they assumed a file formation, one jumper after the other. Bill was first in the line, Deckard second. The other three were stacked up behind him.

It didn’t look like it did in the simulator but close enough. As he dumped altitude, Deckard could make out more details on the ground and see cars driving on the streets, the pedestrians below completely obvious to what was happening above them.

Deckard soared over the Rockwell building and knew he was getting close. He could see the soles of Bill’s boots has he shifted his weight again, trying to acquire the perfect angle. Deckard ignored what was going on below and focused straight ahead. He flew silently over seven more city blocks and then cleared the top of the Roxas building. It seemed like he was picking up speed, but the reality was that he had just gotten lower to the ground and his eyes could now judge how fast he was really going.

He steered carefully, making minute corrections as he blasted right through the city. The Petron Mega-Plaza towered over him on his right flank.

Steady.

He held his position and shot between the two buildings. He lost track of Bill, fixating completely on his target. The Aquino building was dead in his sites. Then he was over Velasquez Park. Deckard pulled his chute.

He had walked through the maneuvers so many times that by now it was impossible for him not to do it right. The parachute caught in the air and Deckard swept in and landed right alongside the rooftop pool, touching down on both feet.

A Filipino security guard wearing a black polo shirt turned to Deckard as his parachute collapsed behind him. A Glock pistol was holstered on his hip and an unlit cigarette dangled from his lips. Deckard shrugged out of the wing suit sleeves, slapped for the MAC-10 hanging from his chest, snapped the rubber band and leveled the sub-machine gun. Flicking the safety off, Deckard zapped the guard with a suppressed burst that tore across his chest. The security guard was dead before he hit the ground.

Just then someone splashed into the pool like an elephant. Nadeesha hit the roof right behind Deckard and stumbled into him as he was unzipping his legs from the wing suit flap.

Deckard pulled his cutaway pillow to jettison his main parachute. He stepped over the body, heading straight for the pent house door. Bill was on the other side of the pool where he had put down. He took long strides, heading for the same doorway.

Zach had cut away his chute and was clawing his way out of the pool. No sign of Paul. He hadn’t made it.

They were ready to blow the door, but Bill wisely tried the knob first. He turned to Deckard and nodded. It was unlocked. He was up.

Bill flung the door open and Deckard stepped through. A half dozen guards sat at the dining room table playing cards. Deckard had the wire stock of the MAC-10 extended and tucked into his shoulder as he walked his bursts from left to right across the security crew. Bill was at his side a second later, working them from right to left. They met somewhere in the middle as the corpses slid to the floor.

That was when the other heavies rushed in from a side room. Bill and Deckard dived to the ground as pistol and sub-machine gun fire tore up the living room. A flashbang exploded, shattering one of the windows. Deckard rolled behind a couch that would offer concealment if not cover. Bill got behind a billiard table. It was one large open party space for De Jesus to entertain his guests with a dining area, hot tub, pool tables, and couches around a wide screen tv. Zach knelt down next to Bill. Nadeesha fired a few suppressive bursts as she slid in next to Deckard.

9mm bullets zipped right through the couch and ricocheted off the tile floor. De Jesus’ security detachment had better cover from behind the bar on the other side of the room. Deckard had the whole rest of his life to figure this one out. That gave him about half a second.

One of the card players at the dining room table had slipped out his chair and sprawled out on the floor. He had been sitting on an office chair with wheels on the bottom. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Bill and Zach try to pop up and return fire only to be driven back down as the gunmen sprayed them down with autofire.

They were pinned down with nowhere to break contact too and would be shot to pieces faster than they could blink.

Deckard broke cover and jumped onto the chair, rolling across the tile floor towards the bar. Holding down the trigger on the MAC-10 he fired right into the faces of the security guards as he raced up to meet them. They were so stunned by the unexpected move that the Filipinos were unable to react fast enough. He walked an line of .45 caliber rounds right across them until the back of his chair collided with the far wall.

Dropping his empty magazine, Deckard rammed a fresh stick into the pistol grip to reload. The gunfire had ceased for the moment as gun smoke lingered in the air. Five security men lay behind the bar, dead or dying. Deckard fired several mercy shots.

Bill ran for the bedroom and kicked in the door. Zach and Nadeesha were on his heels.

Deckard heard several stunted suppressed shots as he entered the bed room.

De Jesus lay on his shag carpet, bleeding out.

His chest heaved as the terrorist financier struggled to breath. Bill’s shots had collapsed his lungs. Zach stepped up and fire a couple bullets into his crouch causing him to shake and moan as blood bubbled around his lips.

Straight arming his MAC-10, Bill fired on full auto. He cycled through the entire magazine, blowing off the top of their target’s skull and splattering his brains all over the carpet.

“Cocksucker,” someone in the group remarked.

Bill reloaded his MAC-10.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Back in the living area, Deckard saw numbers on the display next to the pent house elevator ticking up.

“We’re about to have company,” Deckard warned.

“Stay here and slow them down,” Bill ordered. “Nadeesha, you cover him. I don’t want these assholes shooting us on the way down to the park.”

“Got it.”

Bill and Zach walked out to the patio next the pool and continued to the edge of the building. Deckard reached for a frag grenade in his kit and yanked the pin out while holding the spoon down. He looked to Nedeesha.

“You shoot, I’ll frag.”

“Alright,” she said as she shouldered the sub-machine gun.

When the elevator doors pinged open she raked the inside of the elevator with .45 caliber fire. Security personnel backed up into the back of the elevator, trying to hide along the sides and trying to hide behind each other. Deckard overhanded the grenade. It bounced once, then rolled into the elevator and detonated as the two Liquid Sky commandos hit the ground.

The elevator was bulged on the sides from the over pressure. Flaming pieces of insulation or foam tiling floated through the air. It was a slaughter house of torn limbs and torsos. The stench of burned flesh stung their noses.

Nadeesha stumbled over some debris. Deckard took her by the elbow and led her towards the door. Just as he was about to step outside he heard some banging behind him. Even over the ringing in his ears he could hear shouts and then gun shots. Looking over his shoulder he saw a metal door near the elevator shake as security guards on the other side fired their guns right through it.

The door shook as the guards began kicking it in, the lock barely holding.

“Shit,” Nadeesha cursed.

Deckard turned back around just in time to see Bill and Zach jump off the roof and disappear below the lip the building.

“They left us,” she said, exasperated.

He pushed Nadeesha outside as the door was kicked in. Deckard leaned back and fired one handed. The chatter box rattled in his hand as the bolt slid back and forth. The suppressor slowed the already low velocity rounds as he serviced the first target that bolted through the door. This was the security quick reaction force. They wore black uniforms and carried M4 rifles.

“I’m black!” Deckard yelled as he ran onto the patio and took cover behind a concrete planter.

Nadeesha picked up the rate of fire from a kneeling position next to him.

Deckard loaded his last magazine. They were only carrying enough gear to last them for a five minute surgical operation. Now they were in combat and running low on ammo fast. Letting the Ingram MAC-10 hang by the elastic bungee chord, he went back into his kit and quick attached the initiation system to the half block of C4 he carried. Pulling the time fuse, he stuck the charge in the planter.

Sixty seconds of time fuse.

It was to be used in case De Jesus retreated into a safe room they had missed during recon. Now the charge would cover their withdrawal.

Nadeesha went empty on her sub gun. Now it was Deckard’s turn to fire.

“Bound back,” he ordered Nadeesha between bursts.

The return fire was getting intense as a couple dozen guns for hire wearing full SWAT team get ups stormed the pent house. 5.56 rounds zinged and popped around him, many chipping into the planter he was taking cover behind. The kitchen windows exploded outwards as gunmen inside found new firing positions.

Nadeesha reloaded on the move and took a position next to a large heating and air conditioning unit on the roof near the pool. Deckard threw his last hand grenade at the open door as a couple security guards attempted a break out. Ducking behind the planter, the explosion stopped them dead in their tracks. At least for a few more seconds. As Nadeesha fired, Deckard ran back to her position.

“Jump!” He yelled in her ear over the gun fire. “I’ll cover you.”

She looked up at him with wide eyes.

“Okay.”

Deckard popped around the corner of the HVAC unit and took single well placed shots with the MAC-10. He was almost out of the ammo and by his estimation, only 30 seconds of time fuse left. He caught another muzzle flash in the kitchen window so he fired a shot there and the muzzle flash seemed to go away.

Nadeesha turned to run for the edge of the building. She let out a scream as enemy gunfire hit her from behind. She stumbled and fell to the ground alongside the pool. Sensing wounded prey, the gunmen inside the penthouse fired on her, bullets chiseling the tile next to her and making splashes of water in the pool to her flank.

Deckard ran out into the open and laid down a suppressive fire with what he had left in the MAC-10 to quell their fire. The gun cycled empty and Deckard dropped it on the pool. Without slowing down, he scooped Nadeesha up and dragged her forward. He propelled both of them back behind another concrete planter. It was their last piece of cover, they were all out of building. A few feet away was a fifty five story fall to the streets below.

He tore her MAC-10 off her kit and shot a burst over the planter without sighting in on anyone specific. The guards were bounding out of the doorway and moving towards them. He could hear them trying to coordinate their movements in Tagalog.

Deckard looked over his partner. The rounds had tore apart her second parachute, the reserve she would need to get off the building.

“Fuck,” he cursed.

“Go,” she mumbled. “Just go.”

Time to go.

Deckard grabbed her hands and put them around the main lift web on his own parachute.

“Don’t let go for anything.”

Wrapping an arm around her, he dropped the MAC-10 and grabbed the ball on his parachute that pulled free the pilot chute.

He heard the enemy shouts as he stood up. Two steps forward and he was off the ledge and into the night.

Nadeesha’s scream died in her throat.

Deckard released the pilot chute as they dropped.

The C4 detonated as his parachute caught in the wind, clearing off the top of the Aquino building. The parachute popped open as they flashed by still lit offices in the building under the pent house. Nadeesha hung on to his parachute harness, her legs kicking in the empty air.

“Don’t let go!” she screamed.

“I have to!”

They were tracking forward and were seconds away from impacting the adjacent building. Deckard could see the desks and swivel chairs inside as they were about to slam into the window.

Releasing his hold around Nadeesha, he reached up and grabbed the parachute toggles. Yanking down hard on his right toggle, they cut a hard turn. The two of them dangling under the parachute, they nearly brushed up against the office building.

Nadeesha looked like she was about to panic. She pulled herself up as she held on to the harness and wrapped her legs around him.

Deckard knew they were burning altitude fast. The street lights below swirled like a kaleidoscope as he twisted and turned the parachute, angling towards the Ayala Gardens.

A military parachute was designed to safely carry two entangled jumpers and their equipment to the ground. This wasn’t a military parachute.

They were coming in hard, their feet passing just a couple meters above the Paseo Center before they cleared it and went out over the gardens. Deckard wanted to make an adjustment to keep them out of the trees but nothing he did mattered at this point.

The ground came up to meet them. Deckard grunted as he made impact and slid on the wet grass. Rolling, his vision redded out for a second when the back of his head hit something. He felt a weight on his chest as the parachute collapsed on top of him.

He opened his eyes to see Nadeesha almost nose to nose with him. Her pink lips were next to his as they both took short ragged breaths. It was dark underneath the parachute, everything forgotten for a moment.

Nadeesha buried her face in Deckard’s neck as she held on to him.

“Ho-ly she-it,” a low pitched voice said.

“Did they come in on one chute?” another asked.

“That was some gangster ass shit.”

Deckard tried to sit up with Nadeesha on top of him.

Bill and Ramon tore the parachute off of them. The accidental tandem jumpers were now hopelessly entangled in their parachute and the suspension lines.

“Fucking hell,” Rick said as he ran up to them. “It was like the entire rooftop blew up as you fell off.”

Zach came up and joined Bill and Ramon who were using their knives to cut through the suspension lines. Deckard sat up with Nadeesha on his lap.

“Thanks for covering our withdrawal,” Deckard said dryly.

That snapped Nadeesha back into the zone.

“Yeah, thanks for nothing you assholes.”

“I thought you were covering our withdrawal,” Zach insisted.

“We did and were hoping you might do the same.”

“Whatever,” Bill said cutting in. “Stop complaining. You’re alive.”

Nadeesha shook her way out of the suspension lines and stormed off. Deckard undid the buckles on his harness and dropped it. Police sirens were approaching in the distance.

“Time to boogey,” Ramon said.

Deckard left the tangled parachute as they ran for the van. They didn’t have time to police it up and none of the gear could be traced back to them anyway. As the first red and blue lights came flashing up to the park Ramon fired a burst into the hood of the police car. The cops got the message and did not pursue, opting to call for back up instead.

Liquid Sky piled into the back of the van. Ramon took the wheel and began navigating through the Manila streets as they left the gardens.

The police had already thrown up one road block heading out of the metropolitan area. Ramon threw a light jacket on over his kit. The others stayed in the back of the windowless van so that they would not be seen.

“A little something for you,” Ramon told the cop in Tagalog as he handed him a folded bill.

“Have a good night,” the policemen said with a smile.

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Filed under Action Adventure, Military Fiction

Direct Action: Chapter Ten (part one)

Nikita

Chapter Ten:

Deckard launched himself off the ramp of the airplane and into the darkness. He still had trouble stabilizing as he exited the aircraft and rocked from side to side for a few moments as he rode the hill of air down through the sky, his body riding along with the forward throw the the plane on exit. Seconds seemed to stretch on to forever but he finally got stable in the air and assumed a position that would be called a high lift track position in normal parachuting, that is, with his arms extended but swept back and his legs extended all the way out.

Unlike a HALO jump in the military, he was wearing a wing suit which would provide additional lift, and therefore, more forward glide during free fall. The sheets of material stretched between his legs and out from his arms. An ancient dream was now achievable: human flight.

Turning his head slightly, he could make out the sleek forms of four other Liquid Sky members flying behind him in the moonlit night.

Pivoting his hips and shifting his legs, Deckard was able to steer by using the wing suit like a giant rudder. Splotches of gold floated beneath him as he soared over the city. Manila.

He got on azimuth, heading West, over the city and pointed towards the ocean beyond. He was dumping altitude, dropping a meter for every couple of meters that he traveled forward. The wind howled in his ears as the cityscape below him shot by.

Angling himself downward, he picked up speed as he flew towards his target. Through the wind goggles he wore, Deckard could now make out the outline of the Aquino building. He was moving at nearly a hundred and twenty miles and hour and the rooftop was the smallest dropzone he had ever had to hit in his career.

It was coming up fast.

The other Liquid Sky members floated alongside him, each maneuvering slightly away from each other to clear their airspace. In the night they looked like giant flying squirrels in their wing suits. One operator dropped his hips to try to adjust his trajectory. At this point they were all trying to make small adjustments to get on the right track before deploying their parachutes.

To his right, one of the wingsuit parachutists peeled away from the formation. He was too far off the required fight path and was having trouble getting stable. He would have to deploy his parachute and land safely at a secondary landing zone on the ground. Deckard didn’t noticed, he was completely fixated on his target.

The leading edge of the target building was coming up. Deckard reached back and deployed his pilot chute. The drogue caught in the air and yanked out his main parachute. Everything was a blur of motion as Deckard’s world swayed, his parachute opening above him. He was looking down into the lights inside the rooftop swimming pool.

He was too low.

Deckard reached up to grab his toggles to try to steer while he still had some space to maneuver. Below him, he saw another jumper slam right into the side of the building and through the plate glass windows. His parachute never had a chance to deploy at all.

Deckard reached out but the edge of the roof was still a good ten feet away. He sunk beneath the lip of the roof and was staring at his reflection in the windows. His heart was in his throat as he made impact.

The scene froze in front of his eyes.

Feeling his boots make contact with the floor, he stood up. The harness had lowered on its pulley system at the end of the scenario. The blinking word RESET flashed in his goggles. He flipped the visor up on his forehead and looked across the dark room. Everyone was quiet. It was their tenth time through the same scenario and none of them were getting any better.

He squinted as the lights came back on.

“Not a single person made it on to the roof top,” Bill scolded them. “Take it from the top.”

Deckard stretched his neck and then his arms and legs as he was still secured in his parachute harness and couldn’t start walking around while tethered into the metal frame.

Each of them wore a parachute and black S-Bird wing suits made by TonySuit. Following the Special Operations adage, train as you fight, they used the same gear in the simulator that they would use on target. The S-Bird wing suit would allow them the forward glide they needed to jump from an airplane, fly into the restricted airspace over the city of Manila, and then land on their objective. This model wing suit also came equipped with escape sleeves. Normally the wings of the suit had to be unzipped manually after the jumper deployed his parachute so that he could reach up and grab the toggles on his parachute in order to steer it. There would be no time for that on this gig, they would be right on top of the objective by the time they got silk over their heads.

Later, they would add their combat equipment to their rigs. At the moment the kit loadout was still being finalized as Ramon collected intelligence on the target in the Philippines. As it stood, it didn’t really matter what kit they carried on objective if none of them could even get there in the first place.

A gray haired technician sat in the corner of the warehouse. He was behind a computer, clicking away with his mouse as he began to reset the training scenario.

The simulator and the software were created by a company called ParaSim. The scaffolding structures were lined up next to each other, five in a row for the Liquid Sky operators. Nadeesha was working intel and logistics for them at their staging area and would not be going on target.

At the top of the scaffolding was a series of electronic pulleys and servos that moved the suspension lines that each parachutist hung from during the simulation. The suspension lines would reel themselves in and out and reposition the jumper’s body based on what was going on in the simulator. It would even release and drop the jumper down to the floor when he landed on the ground in the simulation.

Sensors were hooked up to the parachute ripchord and toggles so that the jumpers actually used his gear in physical reality, and got real time feed back inside the virtual reality simulator. A modified night vision goggles headset was worn by each jumper with a flip down virtual reality screen. The simulator could replicate all sorts of different scenarios based on the inputs added by the technician behind the computer.

Windspeed, jump altitude, weather conditions, and much more could be adjusted on the software side to give the most realistic experience possible. In this case they had the sub-contractor, where they were now located in Australia that ran the staging site, program the exact scenario they had in mind for their mission. It was constantly being updated based on the feedback sent from Ramon who was already watching the objective.

They were still working out what their jump altitude should be, what their pull altitude should be, and what their angle of attack should be as they came in on the objective building. Beyond that, they were all still having trouble controlling their wing suits.

“Come up five hundred feet on the jump altitude,” Bill told the technician.

“Got it, resetting now,” the technician announced.

Deckard flipped down his VR goggles as the suspension lines began to retract and pull him up into a free fall position.

“Don’t fuck it up,” he heard Bill say, his voice echoing in the warehouse.

Then they were jumping out of the back of an airplane over Manila and blasting over the city again. Deckard overshot the target and slammed into another building.

Everybody else died too.

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Filed under Action Adventure, Military Fiction

DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Eight (Part Two)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Sometime during the flight they both drifted off to sleep and only woke up when the flight attendants turned the cabin lights on as they prepared to land. Looking out the window, Deckard could see the city lit up in blue and gold in the night. As the Emirates Airlines jet pulled up to the terminal, Deckard and Nadeesha grabbed their carry ons. The terminal was ultra-modern with slick chromed metal everywhere, mirrors on the ceilings, and artificial palm trees lining the courseways.

They paid no mind to the shops or roped off Ferrari’s parked in the middle of the terminal. Although neither of them knew it of each other, both had been through this airport and operated in Dubai previously.

After clearing customs with their man and wife passports, they rented another car. This time Nadeesha took the wheel. It was her mission and she was going to be running it. Good thing they were not in Saudi Arabia, Deckard recalled. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been allowed to drive even if she wanted to due to the strict Sharia law in place.

Hitting the road, it was only a twenty minute drive to their hotel. They checked in and got a room with a single king sized bed to stick with their cover. It was a five star hotel, not far from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Deckard sat down on the bed and flipped on the television. He was starting to get used to the idea that he was just along for the ride and would have to react to whatever his team mate threw at him.

“I have to get ready,” she said as she opened her suitcase. “He will be here in a few hours.”

“Who will?”

For once she didn’t blow him off.

“The target. He stays in this hotel whenever he flies in to Dubai for business. He is a financier for some bad people who do bad things in this part of the world.”

“I’m used to improvising on the fly, but I should tell you that like anyone else I can perform better when I know what my task and purpose is ahead of time.”

“You are my overwatch element,” she said as she swept her black hair over her shoulders. “Our information is that he stays here every time and that he likes to indulge in things that are hareem back in his home country.”

“Russian hookers.”

“And alcohol, but if I throw myself at him he will forget all about the hookers.”

“I imagine.”

“You just keep tabs on me downstairs in the bar or wherever he wants to take me. I need you to go out and run some errands before he gets here. Buy a couple cell phones, SIM cards, and then gas them up with phone cards. I need a way to alert you if something is wrong.”

Deckard nodded and took his passport and some local currency with him. Driving to the nearest shopping mall, he parked and walked through the sliding doors. It was absolutely freezing inside. Apparently the royal family wanted to show off to the rest of the world that despite living in the desert they had the best air conditioning that money could buy.

He found an electronics store and picked up a couple cellular phones, installed the SIM cards, and then bought a bunch of phone cards. Back at the hotel he plugged both phones into the electrical outlets to make sure they had a charge.

The bathroom door opened and Nadeesha walked out with a towel wrapped around her body. She had just gotten out of the shower. A red cocktail dress hung in the closet on a hanger.

“If you need to take a shower, do it now because I need time to get ready.”

She wasn’t kidding. A makeup kit was laid out on the bed.

Deckard figured she was trying to drop a hint on him and took a shower and changed into some fresh clothes. Henderson had made a postmortem clothing donation, Diesel jeans, another button down shirt, and black shoes. When he came out of the bathroom, still drying his hair, Nadeesha was standing over her makeup case. She had somehow fit herself into the impossibly tight dress, the shoulder straps were undone and hung off her brown shoulders. Her chest looked like it was about to burst out of the dress at any moment.

“Come here,” she said as she turned around.

All business, Deckard told himself as he zipped up her dress.

“Take one of the cell phones. I programmed each phone’s number into the other. There is a app on the phone that you can press with one tap and it will bring up a distress message on the other phone. There is also a geo-location feature in case you lose track of me.”

Then she turned her head to look back at him out of the corner of her eye.

“Don’t lose me,” she stated flatly.

“I won’t.”

“Good. Now go find something to do and be ready for me in the bar downstairs in forty five minutes. I have to take care of a few things.”

“Which of us is going to take this guy out, or both?”

“I handle that. I will call you when its done and for a pickup.”

Deckard grabbed one of the cell phones and pulled out the charger. Nadeesha tugged at the top of her dress to try to get comfortable in it. She did sexy amazingly well, but clearly she felt more comfortable doing shorts, a t-shirt, and a sub-machine gun. He didn’t blame her.

“Later,” he said as he closed the door behind him.

* * *

Outside, Deckard returned to their rent-a-car. Inside he quickly rolled down the windows and blasted the air conditioning.

He did have something to do before they got started. While at the shopping mall he had also picked up an 11-piece steak knife cutting set. Using some duct tape he had got at the hardware store, he cut pieces of cardboard and made improvised sheathes by folding the cardboard back on itself.

Then he rolled back his sleeves, put the steak knives in their sheaths, and pressed them under his forearms while ringing rolls of duct tape over the cardboard and around his forearms. Once both knives were in place he rolled his sleeves back down. He would have to be careful. The improvised weapons would be concealed better if he was wearing a jacket, which he would if they ended up in another venue with mega-air conditioning but otherwise it would just look out of place in the desert heat.

Even at night, the temperature would only drop from about 110 during the day down to about 95 degrees. It still felt like you were staring into a blow dryer and it was almost 11pm. Locking up the car, he made his way back into the hotel and took a seat at the end of the bar.

As he walked back into the hotel his cell phone vibrated. It was Nadeesha texting him to announce that she would be down in a few minutes. Deckard walked into the bar and sat at a table where he could keep an eye on the entrance, the bar itself, and most of the tables. When the waitress arrived he ordered a beer. Drinking was permissible for non-Muslims.

As he sipped the beer his mind staggered for a moment as he wondered who was mean mugging him across the bar. He didn’t even recognize his reflection in the mirror anymore. Although he was still in his thirties, he had grown old, gone through several more life cycles than most people do. He was bitter. Angry. Unable to function in society. Restless.

War was the only time the world made sense to him. Putting boots to asses was the only satisfaction he really had. It was something he was good at and something he kept doing because he enjoyed it. There were a lot of assholes in this world and he liked putting them out of business.

His self reflection was thankfully broken as Nadeesha walked through the door. With her hair and makeup done up she could have graced the cover of any magazine she chose. Whoever this Arab financier was, he didn’t stand a chance. She’d probably murder him and then Deckard in their sleep before the night was over.

Nadeesha slid on to a stool at the bar with her back to him. She ordered a drink and shot down two men before it even arrived. They were fat Arabs, but not the right fat Arab.

Ten minutes later he showed up. The Arab financier had the physique of a hippopotamus and a head shaped like a perfect egg. He wore a blue trainer outfit and tennis shoes. He clearly didn’t do much training but this was the fashion in some parts of the world. Deckard pegged him as Lebanese. Probably Hezbollah.

As the bartender brought him a Martini, Nadeesha slid off her seat and approached him.

That was when a British expat decided to introduce herself to Deckard.

“Hi, I’m Audrey,” Deckard reached out and shook her hand, smiling back at her.

“Jon,” he said, using the alias name on his passport. “Would you like to have a seat.”

“I thought I might trouble you for a light, but yes I would.” She sat down across from him.

Deckard didn’t mind, he kind of stood out sitting by himself.

They made small talk while he occasionally eyeballed Nadeesha and her prey. Audrey was in Dubai to spend a semester teaching English in a girls school. Technically she was doing her fellowship for her PhD back in the UK but she needed to pick up some scratch in the meantime. Deckard offered vague details about himself, gave his cover without mentioning that he was “married” to the woman across the bar for obvious reasons.

Twenty minutes later found Nadeesha and the target walking out, arm in arm. Deckard sincerely hoped that this was a wham, bam, thank you ma’am type deal because he didn’t want to chase the would be love birds all over town. No need to wine and dine.

“Be right back love, have to find the rest room.”

“Oh, see you soon!” Audrey said.

Yeah, right.

Deckard was relieved when he saw the couple heading for the elevators. He watched the digital read out above the elevator tick up and stop at the 21st floor. She was keeping this easy by making sure she took him to their room. He had the key card so if it got ugly he would be inside the room in seconds.

Jumping in the second elevator he hit the button for the 21ist floor. The doors opened and Deckard stepped into the hall just in time to hear the door to their room slam shut. He hung out by a vending machine, pretending to try to jam a bill in it whenever someone walked by. He kept his keycard under the Dirham bill.

Then the cell phone vibrated. Deckard looked at the screen which displayed a single word

Red.

In a half dozen long strides, he was at the door and shoving the key card in the reader. The LED on the door flashed green and Deckard flung the door open.

The Arab was stripped naked and had Nadeesha pinned against the wall, holding her by her neck. The woman’s brown arms and legs struggled against his weight as he pressed her into the wall. Deckard used the edge of his shoe in a downward strike that nearly separated the Arab’s calf muscle.

Nadeesha fell to the ground. She only wore a black thong, apparently well into the game of seducing the Arab.

Deckard didn’t notice as he fixated on his target, knocking him to the ground. With both hands, the American commando reached for his inner wrists and seized the knives by their handles. Tearing both free from their sheaths, he held the steak knives in a reverse grip. The Arab struggled to his feet, favoring his uninjured leg, both hands clutching his chest.

Deckard assumed a boxer’s stance. He was about to go to work.

“Wait!” Nadeesha shouted at him. “The Sux is starting to take effect.”

“The what?”

The financier staggered back to the ground. He looked as he was having a heart attack.

“Succinylcholine,” Nadeesha informed him as she picked up a empty syringe from the floor.

As their target squirmed on the carpet, Deckard looked back and noticed her nakedness. He pretended not to note that she was a perfectly endowed woman, in all the right places.

“It is a paralytic but he wasn’t about to sit still for me to stick him in a vein so I had to put it in the muscle. The drug takes longer to kick in that way.”

Finally, the Arab went still. The room suddenly began to stink.

“Son of a bitch,” Deckard cursed. “He had a jumper in the door.”

Deckard looked back, making sure he looked her in the eye. For just a moment, he saw it. The hard case was gone and he saw what she looked like when she was scared. It had been a close call.

“Pack your shit,” Deckard ordered. “We can peel out of here tonight. It will take the authorities a while to put this together if they do at all.”

“Okay.”

The female operative didn’t bother with a bra and threw on a white button down and then a pair of black slacks from her suitcase. Deckard just tossed whatever was laying around into their bags. Her make up, her hair dryer, his deodorant, he didn’t care what ended up in what suitcase. They were packed in five minutes and out the door. They left the corpse in place, resting in his own filth. Nadeesha made sure she policed up the empty syringe though.

They left the hotel without checking out. Halfway to the airport, Deckard zeroed out both of their cell phones and dumped them into the trash along with the syringe. He winced as he tore the cardboard sheaths off his forearms and chucked them into the garbage with the knives. Nadeesha got on her tablet and made sure their reservations were confirmed for their flight out. She checked them both in before they dumped the rental car and walked into the airport.

Two hours later they were in the air, catching the red eye out of Dubai. Landing in Italy, they split up and took separate evasion routes. Nadeesha bounced around for a few days Africa. Deckard flew to Bangkok and went overland into Cambodia where he dumped his married passport and reverted to his single passport. From there he caught a flight to Indonesia, and then on to Madagascar. Finally he booked a flight back to Mauritius. Nadeesha got a flight from Kenya and landed on the island the morning that the news broke in major international television outlets that someone had been assassinated in a hotel in Dubai.

The suspects were still at large and Dubai was cooperating with Interpol and other international organizations to compile evidence. A week later it was clear that the trail had run cold in Europe.

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Eight (part one)

Nikita

Chapter Eight:

Deckard and Nadeesha touched down in Berlin twenty four hours later, met a courier outside the terminal who handed off their new passports, then rented a car and drove to Hamburg. Deckard made several attempts to ask his companion what their mission was and what would be expected of him but she blew him off and made him drive while she worked from her iPad in the passenger seat.

They were flying out of Hamburg because it would raise too many suspicions if they showed up at the Berlin international airport again five minutes later with new names and passports. Nadeesha also seemed to know that the security in Hamburg was not utilizing biometric sensors, at least not today. Otherwise they would get popped as they went through security. If their biometrics were recorded in Berlin, put onto a computer database, and then their fingerprints or facial features were again read in Hamburg but attached to different names it was safe to say they would both be spending the night, and many others, in a German prison.

Deckard drove through the cold overcast weather and drizzling rain until they neared the Hamburg airport.

“What are you doing?” Nadeesha asked him.

“Hold on,” Deckard said as he parked in front of a convenience store. A few minutes later he came back with a couple disposable cameras. Getting back in the car, he shut the door and began tearing open the packages.

“We can buy a camera in the airport or once we land in Dubai,” Nadeesha said thinking he wanted one as a part of their cover as tourists on their honeymoon.

“We have to zap the RFID chips in our old passports. We can keep them hidden in our luggage but if a scanner in the airport or anywhere else picks up a second set of passports we are screwed.”

Deckard tore up the camera’s plastic housing and yanked out the chip which the camera’s flash device was mounted to. In a few minutes he had pulled some other wires out of the cameras, stripped them, used some tack he had bought in the store to create a short across the leads from the battery, and held them up to the RFID chip mounted in the covers of their old passports. One by one, he zapped them, making the chips inside unreadable. They would still work as valid passports and they could simply shrug their shoulders at customs if someone asked why the RFID wasn’t working. They could have been magnetized. Or something.

Nadeesha watched Deckard intently, the rain having matted down the hair on his head as he worked with his improvised tools.

“You learned how to do that in the ONI’s OPB course?” She asked.

“I learned how to do that from being on the run with no one else to rely on.”

With his task completed, Deckard got back outside, threw the remains of the disposable cameras in the trash and drove to the airport. They turned in the rental car, stashed away the old passports, pocketed the new ones, and then went to the ticket counter. One of Bill’s Liquid Sky cutouts, a shell company in Singapore, had already purchased their tickets with their new aliases.

Flying Emirates Airlines made any American airline company look like a dive bar with a blinking neon light in the window where all you could order inside was warm cans of Budweiser beer. There was plenty of room to spread out, even when flying in the economy class. The service and the food were first rate unlike the soggy sandwiches you get on American Airlines or Delta.

Nadeesha continued working on her tablet before reading a newspaper, an Arabic language newspaper. Deckard had some suspicions about what she did when she was in the Army but he couldn’t ask here and she wouldn’t answer him anyway. He heard about a cell of female intelligence operatives within JSOC.

She read Arabic, but didn’t look it. More likely she was from Southern India. Her skin was the darkest brown except her her pink lips. By contrast the white around her large brown eyes stood out even more, made her even more beautiful if that were possible. She stood as tall as Deckard’s shoulders. Lithe and fit, Deckard had not a single doubt that as an intelligence operative she was able to elicit any information from any man on the planet.

He would give her his M4 and his MC-5 parachute any day, all she had to do was ask.

She knew English and Arabic, probably Hindi too. With her ethnic background she was able to blend in with a multitude of different cultures. She had a mouth on her too. That came from field work, from working around people like Deckard, and probably from getting treated like shit by far to many of them.

They ate their food in silence. Nadeesha then put her headphones on, crossed her arms, and watched a in-flight movie on the screen mounted to the seat in front of her. Deckard pulled out a book he had bought in the airport in Hamburg. He tried to read, but had trouble concentrating.

He couldn’t stop thinking about what he could be walking into in Dubai.

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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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Reflexive Fire: What Came Before Target Deck

ReflexiveFire_LR_Final

Get Reflexive Fire today!

For those of you who are interested in reading Target Deck but have not read the first Deckard novel, Reflexive Fire, I will help get you up to speed with this post.  First off, you can jump right into Target Deck and follow along just fine if you have not read the first book even if few references to the previous novel might not make sense to you.  That said, I will summarize for you here…

Reflexive Fire introduces the protagonist named Deckard.  He is a former Special Operations soldier who is currently on the outs with his former employers in the CIA.  At the moment he is accepting jobs from a handler, a shady Vietnam-era Special Forces veteran who assigns him targets for assassination.  Okay, so you’re thinking that you’ve seen this plot plenty of times before, I know.  That’s just the intro.

Deckard’s handler sends him undercover using an alias to Bohemian Grove.  A highly secretive cabal is planning something huge, but he doesn’t know what so Deckard is sent into the fray to find out.  The cabal of old men hire Deckard to lead a battalion of Kazakh mercenaries.  Traveling to Kazakhstan Deckard takes charge of Samruk International and begins training and equipping his own private Army in preparation for whatever plot the cabal has in mind.

The novel chronicles Deckard efforts to uncover this plot while simultaneously preparing Samruk International and accepting actual combat operations from the cabal that take him to Afghanistan and Burma.  They want Samruk to eliminate a number of drug lords around the world for reasons unknown.  For the time being, Deckard has to play along.

When he does discover the real purpose behind Samruk International and what the cabal have planned (it is real end-of-the-world type business) Deckard flips the switch on their plans.  He re-purposes Samruk International and turns them against his employers.  It will take a small Army to defeat them but that’s exactly what Deckard now has at his disposal.  It’s a real blood bath so check out Reflexive Fire if you missed it.

Target Deck picks up perhaps two months after the events of Reflexive Fire.  Deckard and what is left of his mercenary battalion are cooling their heels in Kazakhstan and expecting some kind of retaliation for the stunt they pulled at the conclusion of Reflexive Fire.  That retaliation never happens as high level members of the defense and intelligence community know they dropped the ball and are secretly thankful for what Deckard did.

Receiving a desperate call for help, Deckard leads a small element to Mexico.  A local police chief asks him to conduct some recon and prepare for follow on operations directed against the drug cartels that have taken over his jurisdiction.  In short order, the chief is murdered and his daughter (who has inherited his title) is kidnapped by one of the cartels.  With his employer dead, Deckard doesn’t feel he can leave the girl in the lurch and launches a rescue operation.  This is the first scene of Target Deck.

You can pick up Reflexive Fire today for our Kindle or in paperback and standby for Target Deck on January 1st!

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Negative Book Reviews

I try not to comment (much) when my books get negative reviews.  The review is the prerogative of the reader and it really isn’t my place to judge them for it.  Good, bad, indifferent, every reader is entitled to their opinion.  That said, some reviews just leave me scratching my head…

“If you like to waste time reading about incredible actions performed by supermen succeding against overwhelming odds, then this is the book for you. The plot is contrived and stunted with plenty of bad people, thankfully exterminated by our all-American hero.”

Dude, if that isn’t what you are looking for in a novel then why in the world would you read a book with this product description?

Reflexive Fire Military Thriller

An assassin who is in over his head.
A cabal that wants him to lead a secret army.
A conspiracy decades in the making.

“The hero is everything you could hope for in an action-adventure–intelligent, charismatic, honorable, a combat veteran from an elite unit, and just slopping over with badassity.” -Hank Brown, author of Hell and Gone.

As a freelance assassin, Deckard is no stranger to the shadow world of covert operations, but when he is summoned to Bohemian Grove and hired to train and lead a battalion of Kazakh mercenaries, he soon discovers his employer’s real agenda: a doomsday plot decades in the making.

“If you’re the kind of guy who loves action movies, but grimaces with every technical and tactical fail… you NEED to buy this book.” -a combat veteran from a NATO nation.

Now, free humanity’s only chance for survival rests with Deckard’s renegade Private Military Company. From Afghanistan, to Burma, and beyond, the clock is ticking down to global extinction.

“A military novel, written by a true expert on the subject, just takes the story to another, higher level, compared to books made up by ‘civilian’ authors with vivid imaginations.” -Frank Jones, 15-year military veteran and private security contractor.

“Fiction has a new star in the making. This awesome work of fiction (is it really..?) will rank right up there with ‘Dogs of War’ and ‘The Forever War’ in defining a new era in action/adventure novels or genre.” -JG Scott

“With Jack Murphy, you know he’s been there and done that, so you wonder where the line is between the made up stuff and where he’s drawing upon his real-life experiences.” -Dan Eldredge

I wrote this book for those of you who are ready for this genre to go to the next level, beyond superficial political messages and stereotypical terrorists wearing turbans on their heads, I hope this book connects with a different breed of reader and action-adventure fan. -Jack Murphy, author, Special Forces veteran.”

Sometimes the problem is that it just isn’t the right book for the right person.  I can’t appeal to readers who want to hear about gay vampires anymore than the authors of Twilight or Harry Potter can appeal to military veterans like me.  Thems the breaks I guess!

Oh, I almost forgot…BUY MY BOOK!

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