Tag Archives: Target Deck

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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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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The Weapons and Equipment of “Target Deck”

Grayman Sub-Saharan

sub-sahresize

The Sub-Saharan from Grayman knives is made for killing. I searched far and wide but was unable to find a Nazi, communist, or terrorist to sink this blade into. I killed the s**t out of a downed tree for you though to give you an idea of the kind of damage this knife can deal out. The picture above shows the tree after maybe five or six chops on each side. The Sub-Saharan has more in common with a Roman short sword than the type of fixed blade knives that most of us are familiar with.  Deckard makes short work of some cartel trash in Target Deck.  It is also the knife depicted on the cover of the book.

Carl Gustav

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Admittedly, the M3 Carl Gustaf isn’t the sexiest of weapons among the 75th Ranger Regiment’s rather extensive arsenal.  This is especially true when you have to pack this giant metal tube into an AT4 jump pack with cardboard honeycomb and exit a C-17 during a Mass-Tactical airborne jump at night.  Getting hung up in a MH-60 with the Goose slung over your back while fast roping and dangling 50ft in the air ain’t sexy either.  Don’t ask me how I know that…  I’ve written about being Tank Sniper and elaborated on the training and tactical issues surrounding the Gustaf in the past, so take a look!

In Target Deck, the mercenaries of Samruk International utilize the flechette round against a hoard of cartel gunmen.

HK 417

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The HK 417 is the 7.62 big brother of the 5.56 HK 416 developed at the request of a certain Special Mission Unit and now used in various SOF units.  Chambered for the larger 7.62 round, Nikita makes good use of the 417 as a sniper rifle in Target Deck.  You will also get a lesson in the intricacies of making a high angle shot.

Hooligan tool

hoolie

Basically the Hooligan tool, or Hoolie, is a high speed pry bar for mechanical breaches.  Useful for making a quiet entry…

MK48

Mk48Rgr

The most memorable remark about the Mk48 that I ever heard was, “That is the lightest heavy machine gun I’ve ever seen!” As a Corporal, I was a Gun Team Leader in Ranger Battalion where my team made great use of the Mk48 in training as well as combat. The Mk48 is the size of a SAW but packs the 7.62 punch of a M240B. It’s small size makes it perfect for immediate support by fire in dismounted, urban environments.

Chromacamo

Chromacamo is a name I invented for the next generation of camouflage uniforms, those that actually change their color to mimic their surrounds.  The idea for it is based on SMARTCAMO developed by Hypersteath which I have written about previously on this blog.

Improvised breaching charge

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IVbagEver wonder what you can do with a flashbang and an IV bag?  Some MacGuyver shit, that’s what.

AK-103

AK103

Pencil

pencil

Alone and un-armed, Deckard has to improvise a solution when trapped in a room with a very dangerous Lebanese money launderer and his bodyguard.  A pencil laying on his desk makes a handy weapon, especially when jabbed into the soft tissue of the body guard’s neck.

MK-19

mk19

On my last deployment, we were no longer permitted to use the MK19 inside the cities, so these were left to collect dust in my weapons shed until myself or my Junior Weapons Sergeant gave them a cleaning every so often. While fun to shoot, I always found the 40mm rounds to be under powered, not providing sufficient explosive impact. Then again, I never had the chance to use the MK19 against dismounted infantry. I did have a friend who was a MK19 gunner in Afghanistan when his convoy was ambushed. He rotated his turret and let it rip on the enemy positions to devastating effect. One point to remember with the MK19 is that you have to charge it twice, that is to say, rack the charging handles, drop the bolt, and then repeat the procedure once more to seat the first round all the way down onto the bolt face. Not knowing how to do this properly can result in an accidental discharge, or worse yet, leave you firing on an empty chamber during a firefight!

Improvised tank

Yeah, this bad boy makes an appearance in the book as well…

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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.

shootemup

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:

The-Expendables-2-Jason-Statham

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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Reflexive Fire: What Came Before Target Deck

ReflexiveFire_LR_Final

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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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