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Tag Archives: writing
Guy Pearce still takes the top spot as the best actor to portray Deckard. He’s not the standard issue tough guy or ex-special-something-or-other dude you see in most action films. Deckard is a smart ass dude sticking it to jive ass mofo’s all over the place. Take a back seat Channing Tatum, I’ll use you as a henchmen in book #13.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a terrific actor with a huge personality. In Direct Action, Bill is described as a “human wrecking ball” so the actor that plays him can’t be some sally. The Rock has the personality and the physique but my only hold up is that I wonder if he can play a truly evil character. Because he plays the hero and since he seems like such a nice guy in real life, I wonder if he could pull it off. If I were casting, I’d definitely let him take a shot at the role though.
Rick is the team’s pretty boy, pompous ass, and self indulgent prick. Sorry Bradley Cooper, this has you written all over it. Pretty boy.
Zach is actually described as looking like Waffen SS trooper but I think Paul Adkins has the street cred to pull it off. He’s a real life fighter and martial artist so I think he’d work quite well.
Paul is another Liquid Sky mercenary, pals with Rick and Zach, who sports a nice Taliban beard. I think Ben Foster can play a different type of character, more of an introvert which would work well in contrast to Adkins, the Rock, and Cooper.
Ramon is Liquid Sky’s only member who hails from Army Special Forces. He is a Filipino-American who served in 1st Special Forces Group. Mark Dacascos fits the bill and he is also a martial artist. Plus him up with some karambit training and he would be good to go.
Nadeesha is actually from Sri Lanka as opposed to India which is where the actress Freida Pinto is from. I pictured Liquid Sky’s sole female operative is being darker skinned but I think the talented Ms. Pinto could play the role of the femme fatale.
“Gonna lay it out there… I love Jack Murphy’s work. It’s gritty, it’s fast paced, it’s got more bang than a breaching charge and it’s balls to the wall from cover to cover. Murphy’s latest, Direct Action, is all of this with a very healthy slab of contemporary world events thrown in for good measure. Yeah sure it’s a little controversial in parts but hey, it’s fiction, so it’s not necessary real…or is it? It’s the blending of fact and fiction that makes this book such a great read. If you’re interested in the murky world of SOF and the even darker world of contracting then this is the book for you. Another great read by Murphy that comes highly recommended.” -Jack Silkstone
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I just wanted to pass one some of the music I was listening to as I wrote Direct Action. I actually had a big break during the writing of the book as summer ended and the fall semester started up at school. I ended up jamming out the rest of the book during Christmas vacation. The THYX album actually really helped kick start the book.
Apoptygma Berzerk, Unicorn
Edge of Dawn, Beyond the Gate
And One, Military Fashion Show
And One, Body Company
THYX, Below The City
Stochastic Theory, What You Weren’t (Echos Virus Mix)
Conjure One, Like Ice
Somewhat Damaged, NIN
Came Back Haunted, NIN
Viper Headwear is currently working on some Samruk International ballcaps for us. These will be fitted caps and unlike the prototype below, they will be in PenCott’s “Green Zone” pattern since I’ve decided that PenCott is going to be the unofficial camo pattern for the fictional Private Military Company featured in my novels. Look for ordering instructions in about a month. Also, please keep in mind that this is a prototype. The final hat won’t have those stiff front panels.
I hit a road block in writing Direct Action until I found this new album, Below the City from my favorite band. Now I’m back on track…
Deckard woke up as he felt someone grabbing his dick. He turned around in bed and found Nadeesha smiling. She rolled on top and straddled him. Her perfect hips bulged slightly as she sat down on top of him. She was soaking wet already.
That was when her cell phone began to vibrate on the bed stand. Reaching over, she snatched it up and looked at the number.
“What the hell,” she cursed before answering the phone.
Deckard popped his hips, bouncing her several inches into the air.
“Oh!” she screamed with the phone held to her ear. “I mean, hello.”
He tried not to laugh as she had a brief conversation.
“And you,” she said as she hung up the phone. “We’re flying to Egypt. Everyone needs to be standing by to drive to the airport in twenty minutes. Sounds like some kind of an emergency.”
“How big an emergency?”
Nadeesha rocked gently on his lap and placed his hands on her hips.
“Nothing that can’t be put off for another nineteen minutes.”
* * *
Liquid Sky boarded a Gulfstream private jet that morning and went wheels up, flying to Jordan. They carried their cover identity passports and no weapons. There was no time to plan a more complicated clandestine entry. This was a crash mission, thrown together on an ad hoc basis in response to an emergency.
Nadeesha sat a few seats in front of Deckard. She looked back a smiled at him before turning away. They both preferred to keep their recent…situation private.
“What’s the story boss?” Zach finally spoke up.
“We’re all going in as NGO workers,” Bill said as he stood in front of them. “Half of you will be going in with a cover as working for some feed-the-kids bullshit and the other half will go in as human rights observers. We’ll take separate flights out of Jordan so that we stagger our arrival into Cairo. Its sloppy, but our timetable is extremely limited.”
“What’s the job?” Paul asked.
“Nothing special. Just a no-notice hostage rescue in a city besieged by fucking savages protesting the other savages running their country which is on the brink of civil war with a follow on asset recovery mission for some classified tech that fell into the hands of the Egyptian military.”
“Oh, that’s all,” Ramon laughed.
“We need to procure weapons on the ground,” Bill told them.
This got better and better.
“Then the main element will strike the prison where these three kids are being held. They are frat boys back in the United States and apparently one of them is the son of somebody which gives this mission added priority.”
“And what is this device?” Rick asked.
“Some high speed tech dreamed up in a DARPA lab I guess. It causes blackout and allows one to penetrate computer networks. I don’t know, I didn’t ask for information I don’t need to complete the mission but the three college kids were using it when they got popped by the Egyptians. Now which of you went to the SEAL sniper course?”
Paul threw his hand up.
“I’ve been to SOTIC,” Ramon offered. The Special Operations Target Interdiction Course was the Special Forces sniper school at Ft. Bragg.
“Okay fine. Ramon, you take Deckard with you. He is still the cherry on this team so you make him go in and snatch the device. I made some phone calls about where we can find weapons and we will get something for you to pull over watch with.”
“Got it,” Ramon confirmed. With so little information, there wasn’t much to discuss. They were making this up as they went along.
“The rest of us have the prison. Its going to be a shit show one way or the other.”
“That’s why they are using us,” Rick said. “Delta or Dev specialize in missions like this, why not use them?”
“Because we’re expendable,” Nadeesha finished.
“You got that right,” Bill said. “I’m not here to blow smoke up your ass. But some of us might even survive. I’ll have a exfil point worked out by the time we do our hits, which will have to be executed simultaneously. Probably a boat that can get us into international waters but right now we need to take it one step at a time. First you need to clear customs, then we hit a weapons armory I’ve located.”
Three college students and a mysterious device.
Deckard realized that the reason why US counter-terrorist units were not being sent in for this mission wasn’t just because of the political ramifications of sending US troops into Egypt but because of the target itself. What were the three kids doing with the device in Egypt in the middle of the Arab Spring?
Author note: Thanks for reading Direct Action so far. By now I am getting around the halfway point with writing this book so it is time to take it back underground. I will have some updates here and there and will post the final version of the first 17 chapters as a preview down the line but I won’t be publishing the rest of the book here. The release date will probably be sometime around Christmas but hopefully sooner. Thanks!
Deckard walked under the sign that stretched across the road on two sign posts on either end. It announced that he was entering China Town. China Town in Port Louis. He walked his Surveillance Detection Route through the city, visiting a number of shops along the way. They had only finished breaking down the staging area in Australia and landed back on Mauritius a few hours prior. By the time he got to the third shop, he realized that he had picked up a tail.
Stopping at a fruit stand, Deckard picked a kiwi out of a basket and tossed it into the air several times. The person tailing him stopped alongside and picked up a mango.
“How long have you been in country?” Deckard asked.
“Long enough brother,” Aghassi responded. “Long enough.”
They walked into a nearby Chinese restaurant and immediately sat down at the table they wanted without waiting for a sever to seat them.
“You look beat dude.”
“I’m hanging in there.”
“This is starting to come together. You won’t have to do this much longer. I’ve done the forward reconnaissance of the address you gave me and scoped out all those Bungalows. We can get a platoon from Samruk in here within a week and clean this nest of vipers out. Pat is already talking to people in Madagascar about it.”
“No,” Deckard said. “Not happening. It’s not enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“We need to effect an enterprise takedown.”
Aghassi nodded. They had recently conducted one in Mexico. One particularly nasty cartel was giving them a hard time in the Mexican province of Oaxaca. However, once they got their hands on a source, the cartel’s money man, they had racked and stacked the entire organization in a night. Jimenez, the cartel boss still held out in his fortress and had to be dealt with, but the cartel itself was functionally dead after that one night of non-stop raids by Samruk International mercenaries.
“We’ve been here before. After we took down Jimenez, we followed the flow of guns upstream. The problem is that we thought we were dealing with one rogue operation. We didn’t realize that the weapons trafficking into Mexico was but one program run by G3 Communications. We shut down the weapons pipeline and killed their MEK terrorist proxies in Nevada but at that time we didn’t know about the other arm of that enterprise.”
“Right. I’ve confirmed that they are no longer working for G3, their CEO cut sling load on Liquid Sky after we hit Area 14 in Nevada in order to distance himself. Now they are working contracts coming out of the gulf states, with a retired American General acting as a cut out, proxy, and pay agent.”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know yet. I was only taken off probationary status after this last mission. Maybe now I can dig a little deeper but if we bring Samruk in now and clean out Liquid Sky then we will never find out who the puppet masters are.”
“Once we know that, then we take down the entire enterprise,” Aghassi finished for him.
“With pleasure,” Deckard told him. “I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be. Speaking of which, what did you find out about these dirtbags?”
“Shit,” Aghassi said. “How much time have you got?”
“Start at the beginning.”
“Myself and Pat have been making phone calls. Cody has been digging through the net as well. We found the phone number in your kit and have called Dusty and Flakjacket but haven’t heard back from them yet.”
“Probably still deployed off the coast of Somalia.”
“Here is what we do know. In 2007 the US Navy commissioned a study on retention rates within Naval Special Warfare Development Group AKA SEAL Team Six. Guys were popping smoke left and right, not re-upping even if they were only a few years away from retirement. The study concluded that it was because of a ramping up in private sector contracts.”
“They were getting out to do private security contracting. That was happening long before 2007 though.”
“Yeah, but this is what the report didn’t uncover, a former SEAL Officer who was running a Private Military Company at that time was offering big money to SEAL Team Six operators who came to work for him. He was pitching individual operators in person at one point. He would pay them three times their normal salary, plus the equivalent of their military benefits and pension after twenty years.”
“No wonder why they were leaving for greener pastures.”
“You said in your text that the leader of Liquid Sky is named Bill?”
Aghassi took out his smart phone and brought up a picture to show to Deckard.
It was Bill’s DA photo from the military.
“He was one of the first to take that offer and jump to the commercial side. Bill Geddes. A rock star operator in Dev Group. Got into some real nasty shit in Afghanistan when another recce team had their OP overun. Both elements were denied air support and their Quick Reaction Force because of some political bullshit going on at the time.”
“They got hung out to dry.”
“Oh yeah. Bill got out as a Master Chief with 18 years of service with the SEALs, nine of it with Dev. After that he went to work with that one former SEAL but they had some falling out over a botched operation in Liberia. He jumped between contracts but it gets difficult to track him as these programs are hidden behind both corporate proprietary as well as levels of classification. Who knows what the fuck he was doing.”
“He mentioned that Liquid Sky was not his first team, that he burned through his others guys.”
“That seems to fit his personality.”
The former ISA operator brought up another picture on his phone.
Deckard looked at it for a second. He was a little younger in the picture but still a good looking blonde kid who could have jumped off the cover of a surfing magazine.
“Zach Larson. I talked to a team mate of his. He wasn’t a SEAL actually but a Navy EOD guy,” Aghassi said referring to Explosives Ordinance Disposal. “They are allowed to apply so he got picked up, went through Green Platoon and spent ten years in Dev.”
“He take the same offer as Bill?”
“Nope, they kicked him out. Remember when all those Dev Group guys got the boot because they were consulting with a video game company while still active duty?”
“I’ve been a little out of the loop.”
“Well, it was a breach of military ethics at the minimum if not completely illegal. They were giving this video game company sensitive Dev Group tactics to use in their game, putting on capability demonstrations for them, all kinds of shit. Zach took it a step farther and was doing public speaking engagements. He did one in Las Vegas just a few months after getting back from the Bin Laden raid, the speech itself was all about the Bin Laden raid. It was for the Forbes 100 set and was supposed to be about leadership but he divulged all kinds of classified information. That was the final straw so they kicked him out of Dev. He could have gone to the regular SEAL teams but with your reputation ruined like that not too many guys want to face that. He separated from the Navy and went to work with Bill.”
Aghassi brought up another picture and showed it to him.
“Rick Teague. A half dozen DUI’s. Got pulled over with automatic weapons out of the armory and C4 explosives in one case. Naval Special Warfare swept it all under the rug. I talked to one of his team mates as well. Rick went through a messy divorce. For years he was on the outs with her. He kept volunteering for deployments because he thought it would save his marriage by giving him and his wife some time apart.”
“He never struck me as the type. He is the most narcissistic of the bunch.”
“Not always. He tried hard to save his marriage but of course he was trapped in a vicious cycle. Deploying in a misguided attempt to save his marriage, going back to the ‘stan over and over again. Loaded up with PTSD, the only one of this Liquid Sky group who actually sought help at one point, there was no hope for him. His wife took their kids and bailed. He left the Navy with fifteen years in and found work with GRS.”
GRS or Global Response Staff, was the CIA’s para-military force that acted as a security detachment for their case officers and targeting officers. They also did static security and occasionally worked operations.
“That gig ended for him when he was speeding around Kurdistan in an up-armored SUV and ran over a kid. No one knows for sure if he was drunk or not. GRS tried to cover it up but the case officer dropped dime and got him booted. Bill must have picked him up sometime after that.”
“God damn,” Deckard said shaking his head. “These guys were a train wreck before they even left the military.”
“Big time. That guy Nikita whacked in Pakistan-”
“I’m wearing his clothes right now.”
“Well, that’s special.”
“Isn’t it.” It was a statement rather than a question.
“Henderson was on meth, coke, and hard liquor pretty much every day from what I understand. Suspected of stealing weapons from the unit a few times but that got covered up as well.”
“Of course. He had a girl?”
“Back at Virginia Beach. She doesn’t know where the fuck he is.”
“And she never will.”
They had dumped the body into the Indian ocean.
“Next up,” Aghassi said changing the subject back to the living. “Paul.”
Aghassi showed him the picture he had.
“That’s him but without the Taliban beard he has now.”
“Guess he really liked Leonidas in 300 huh?”
Deckard rubbed his forehead queuing Aghassi to continue.
“Okay, so his name is Paul Paul.”
“Who the fuck were his parents?”
“Mormon missionaries actually. He was holy roller back in the day. That’s actually how he got his job in Dev. The commanding officer of one of the squadrons in Dev was also a holy roller, into all that crusader shit. He hand picked Paul from Green Platoon because they were both taking Jesus pills.”
“Don’t know when he fell off the wagon. It sounds like greed got the best of him though. He ordered a lot of individual components for Night Vision Goggles while he was overseas and then legally brought them back to Dam Neck with him. Once back in America, he had all the parts but they were not on the property books because they were not assembled and had no serial numbers. He put them together and was selling them for 500 bucks a pop. He was also suspected of shipping captured Taliban weapons home in ISU-90 shipping containers. The real kicker is the gold.”
“They told me a little about that.”
“Yeah, they had it down to a science apparently from raiding so many compounds. Put a gun to the wife’s head and make her open the safe. They would get the shit home on their own private airline. But some red flags started going up when these guys came home from overseas and started buying brand new Land Cruisers and in-ground swimming pools in the backyard for their kids. They asked him to leave before someone initiated an investigation.”
“What the hell was going on in that unit?”
“Here is the thing Deck, all these guys served in the same Squadron in SEAL Team Six. That is how they all know each other and why Bill brought all of them on board. It is the other members where things start to get really interesting.”
“Yeah, I was wondering how Bill got a girl on the team.”
Aghassi pulled up the picture.
“Hotter than a pistol.”
“I don’t have to be told.”
“Nadeesha Senevirathne,” Aghassi said pronouncing the last name syllable by syllable. “She came into the Army with very high test scores and got brought into Counter-Intelligence. She worked in a couple different Top Secret programs in Iraq, most of them I’m familiar with because I had to liaison with these guys when I was with ISA. She did real work, ten deployments to Iraq and Kurdistan, two to Colombia, one to Bangkok, one to Egypt. She was assigned to a special cell of female intelligence operatives within JSOC who would be drawn from as needed.”
“She’s pretty young, to have that many deployments she must have been drawn out everyday.”
“31 years old actually and you’re right. They run roughshod over these women because there are so few of them. When I called my buddies back at Ft. Meade they told me that she was for real, pulled her weight operationally, did her job. I don’t know why but she separated from the Army on her own. Probably it was just burn out from being deployed so often without time to decompress.”
“Happens more often than anyone wants to admit.”
“The connection to Bill comes from a counter-terrorism operation that SEAL Team Six ran in Colombia. Bill was the Team Leader and Nadeesha was attached to them to run intel. That must be where they first met.”
“What happened to her?”
“Don’t know but her test scores are off the chart. It freaked the people at the JFK Special Warfare Center out. She almost maxed out their IQ test. Speaks like a half dozen languages.”
“And she is of the right ethnicity. She can blend in with dozens of cultures. No wonder why JSOC jumped all over her.”
“It is this last guy that really bothers me.”
“Yeah, Ramon Pascua.”
“He is the most solid of any of them. They sent him forward to prepare the battle space. He’s a former 1st Special Forces Group guy from what he told me.”
“That’s true. After growing up in the Philippines he came to the United States with his father. He was a Warrant Officer in 1st Group and deployed with the CIF Team to Baghdad. He was a good operator by all accounts. Aside from running Direct Action missions with the CIF, he did low-vis work all over South East Asia.”
“So what is the concern?”
“That he appears squeaky clean. A guy like that would never work with a team like Liquid Sky. Are they blackmailing him or something?”
“It is bizarre because the only other thing I can think of is that whatever he fucked up, wherever he stepped out of line, had to be so bad and so sick that the entire chain of command buried it and simply asked him to leave for the sake of all their careers. I can’t find shit for dirt on this dude.”
“I will probe the wire a little more. I have good rapport with him.”
“Do that, because this creeps me out. Nadeesha should be working for DARPA or JPL but I get why she is here. Ramon doesn’t make sense to me at all.”
“I’ll get another burner phone and text you whatever I find out. Keep Samruk on standby. If you can pre-stage in Madagascar that is great, but no further than that. Not yet.”
“I’ll let Pat know. But there is one other member of Liquid Sky we haven’t covered yet.”
Aghassi looked across the table at him as their Chinese food arrived.
“So what’s your deal?”
“It happened again.”
Admiral Corbett looked up from his desk and set his reading glasses down so he could see his J3 officer. The Admiral always left his door open, a literal open door policy. Where he worked, he needed a team more than he needed a hierarchy.
“You’re kidding me,” Corbett said as he sat back in his chair. “Again?”
“I’m afraid so, sir.”
“Who the hell is doing this?”
“We’re about to sit down in the SCIF and try to hammer that out right now.”
Admiral Corbett left his desk and followed his right hand man down the hallway. A vault door was open which led into the Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility. This was where sensitive operations and intelligence was discussed and records stored. At JSOC, practically everything was sensitive.
“Where?” Corbett asked.
An assistant J2 intelligence officer turned to his commander.
“Manila. It was Kanor De Jesus.”
“I remember the name. He was on the SIGMA-11 target deck.”
“Yes, sir,” the intel officer confirmed. “Two TF Green attempts, one TF Blue, and local competitors tried to bump him off a couple times as well.”
“We’re still trying to piece it together. We have someone from the activity on the ground working with local authorities. The police found a parachute in the park nearby which explains how the killers got off target but no one knows how they got there to begin with. We’ve had the special entry troop working this problem set for months. The building is a fortress.”
“What the hell is going on? This is our third target that someone else took out in nearly as many weeks. First those guys working for Karzai that the bed wetters in Washington wouldn’t let us touch, then Hezbollah’s main money man gets whacked in Dubai. Now this?”
“It has happened before. De Jesus had hits put out on him by both the NPA and Abu Sayaf. Whenever these guys carve out a piece of the local black market for themselves there is always a competitor who wants that slice of pie for himself.”
“Too many coincidences,” the Admiral stated. “And the hits are too precise, too well planned. The Israelis are good but they don’t have this kind of reach. Besides, they wouldn’t play in our backyard without a courtesy call.”
“What about Langley?” The J3 said as he rolled his eyes.
“They are ready for a tele-conference right now,” the J2 said.
“Put them on,” the Admiral said as he sat down at the long table in front of a projection screen.
The screen came on showing a bald headed CIA officer in a suit sitting next to a Army Officer in his class A uniform, a Special Forces liaison officer detached to Central Intelligence.
“Hey Russ,” the CIA officer said, addressing the JSOC Admiral by his first name. Technically they were of equivalent ranks but they also had a working relationship stretching back to the first days of the War on Terror.
“Francis, I need some help here.”
“I heard. Someone is working your target deck.”
“Talk to me.”
Francis shook his head. The Special Forces officer clasped his hands in front of him on the table.
“It’s not us brother.”
“You know I don’t believe in coincidences.”
Admiral Russ Corbett sat back in his chair. He didn’t ask questions that he didn’t already have the answers too. He knew Francis was telling him the truth because the CIA had hired dozens of former JSOC operators to do their dirty work. Those operators had loyalty to the home team and kept JSOC informed of everything the agency was up to around the world. He was simply hoping that Francis could help him unravel this puzzle.
“I hate to say it Russ but do you think someone over there is saying some things they shouldn’t to some people they shouldn’t be talking to?”
“SIGMA-11 is locked down. We can do an informal 15-6 just to snoop around but the CI around that program is air tight.”
“I hope so,” the CIA officer said. “Because I agree with your assessment. Someone is working your target deck and for both our sakes, we better find out who it is fast before this shit blows up in both our faces. You know how this works. Our fingerprints are on SIGMA so we’ll take the fall for whoever these chuckle heads kill.”
“It could jeopardize other programs as well.”
They both knew what programs he was referencing. Collection and sabotage in a country whose name started with an I and ended with a RAN.
“Get this done Russ. I’ll let my people know to help you however they can.”
“Thanks Francis, I appreciate it.”
The screen blacked out as the tele-conference ended.
The Admiral took a deep breath.
Someone was working their target deck but it wasn’t Special Operations, the CIA, or even an allied country. It was time for the Admiral to make a phone call to an old colleague. He had been his predecessor as the commander of JSOC. A General who had been publicly disgraced and removed after a series of revelations in the newspapers. It was known to those who knew that the General could get more done on the outside through his commercial endeavors than he ever could as military officer.
It was time to look up General McCoy and see what he was up to these days.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.