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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Twelve (part one)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Chapter Twelve:

The Twin Otter lifted off in the morning with six passengers on board. Rick had extra hair gel applied today and his ear plugs in, listening to music and not talking to anyone. He was still bitter about being bumped from the mission and moved to the support role.

The pilot, the one who had flown for their training jumps was a drug runner who routinely made illegal flights from the South China Sea to Darwin and knew the routes in and out of the area well. The Liquid Sky members had their wing suits and parachutes with them. In the unlikely event that they were stopped along the way, they would appear as nothing more than sport jumpers.

Deckard leaned back and watched fluffy white clouds float by the window. Was he scared? Scared of what? Jumping out of a blacked out aircraft over a major metropolitan city, gliding between buildings while wearing combat equipment, deploying a parachute at the very last second, landing on the smallest drop zone imaginable, then explosively breaching a door, and getting into a shoot out with dozens of goons, killing a terrorist financier, before parachuting off the roof down to the streets? What was there to be scared of?

At least a couple of them were going to die on this mission according to Deckard’s calculations. Bill didn’t seem very conflicted about that fact after basically admitting it to him. Who was he kidding, they were all going to die on this mission. Deckard closed his eyes and tried to get some sleep. He had been there before.

They landed at a remote airfield in Indonesia to refuel before continuing on to the Philippines. Some of the guys slept, others watched movies on portable DVD players.

It was late at night when they landed at Barradas airfield, a dusty airstrip not far outside of Manila. Under the cover of darkness, the team policed up their gear and walked to a waiting van. As they approached, Ramon got out from behind the wheel and shook hands with Bill.

“I have the team house set up and ready to go,” Ramon told him.

“Where?”

“About a hundred meters away from the airfield, just a short drive around the block.”

“What about our weps,” Zach asked.

“Good to go,” Ramon assured him. “Test fired all of them myself last week.”

It took the pilot half an hour to get the Twin Otter into the small hangar on the airfield and power down but then they all crammed into the van and drove off. True to Ramon’s word, the team house he had secured was all of three minutes away. It was a one story deal and had a garden around it that was well attended too.

Each of them had a simple cot to sleep on and Ramon showed them where the food was so they could cook themselves some dinner while he went over preparations with Bill.

“We’re on a reverse sleep schedule from here on out,” Bill told them. “Do all your preparations for the op tonight and sleep during the day.”

The hit was laid on for the following night.

Wooden boxes were filled with the combat gear they would need for the mission. There was a Ingram MAC-10 Sub-Machine Gun for each of them. Chambered for the .45 caliber round, each gun came with a threaded barrel for screwing on the suppressor. They had three 30-round magazines each. The sub guns and the cans for them were in “pre-owned” condition but Ramon said he tested them himself. Deckard picked one up and racked the charging handle on the top of the box shaped weapon. On inspection, it looked clean. He then conducted a functions check, so far so good. He would have liked to have fired it himself prior to the mission though.

Nadeesha reached for a box of ammo and started jamming magazines. The others sat down on their cots and did the same. Their next course of action was to rig up in their wing suits and parachutes and figure out how to run their combat load with it. They had small chest rigs that they could wear under the parachute harness but slinging the MAC-10 was problematic.

Among the supplies laying around the team house, Deckard found an elastic bungee chord that he hooked around the wire shoulder stock of the sub-machine gun. The other end of the bungee he looped around the chest strap on his parachute. Next, he screwed the suppressor on the MAC-10 and routed a rubber band under his waist strap and looped it over the suppressor, holding the MAC-10 in place diagonally across his body.

This kept the weapon secured while being able to quickly bring it into play when he hit the ground simply by snapping the rubber band when he yanked on the gun. The others saw what he did and began rigging their weapons in a similar manner. Even Rick was kitting up on orders from Bill. If one of them got hurt, got sick, or got dead between now and the hit time, then Rick would be taken off the bench and put back into the game.

Meanwhile, Bill and Ramon sat in front of an open laptop. Ramon’s remote devices were still running off batteries and would be for the duration of the mission as they kept an unblinking over watch on their objective.

The apartment was situated in the middle of the rooftop, a pent house that included a pool and party area outside. Sometimes De Jesus’ security people patrolled the pool area but usually they stayed inside unless they came out to have a smoke. A couple times a week De Jesus would send a few body guards down to Air Force One to pick up some girls and they would throw a massive rooftop party. Bill was adamant that they not infil on one of those nights, it just added to the number of things that could go wrong.

The good news was that from spying through the glass windows in the apartment from two separate angles, that it did not appear that De Jesus had a safe room. Liquid Sky would bring explosives anyway, just in case.

One by one, they found their way to the kitchen to find something to eat. The preparations went on deep into the night. With Bill’s permission, they went outside one by one and popped off a few suppressed rounds through their MAC-10’s into a dirt mound to make sure everything was kosher.

Zach dug into the explosives cache that Ramon had secured for them. It was mostly industrial explosives that had probably been stolen from a mining site before they turned up on the black market. That was sketchy as hell. He could test the time fuse but they were too close to civilization to test the detonation chord and plastic explosives. Worst case, they would shoot through the windows and enter the apartment that way. They also had a half dozen hand grenades that they could use to breach if need be.

As they laid their kit out one last time before donning in the following night, the Liquid Sky members joked with each other, pretending that they weren’t scared of smashing into a building at a 120 miles per hour.

“Shit dude, we could be the biggest bugs on the world’s largest wind shield if we fuck this up,” Paul said, his huge Taliban beard shaking as he chuckled to himself.

“Unfortunately this mission doesn’t come with any fringe benefits,” Zach complained.

“Oh, you mean like that pile of pirate’s treasure we pulled out of Abottabad?” Paul asked.

“Right now I think Rick has the pirate’s treasure,” Paul joked while curling his shoulders in. “The sunken chest!”

“Don’t forget to lick my balls while you’re down there,” Rick said as he got red in the face.

“What do you think Nadeesha?” Zach said. She hadn’t said a word all night.

“Suck my dick.”

The room exploded with laughter until Bill told them to shut up.

Deckard saw his opening.

“You guys were on the Abbottabad mission?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Zach answered. “Got a large haul off that one.”

“Intel?”

“Fuck no. The Agency has been playing that angle up. We hardly got anything. Old boy hadn’t been operational in years. We got a big haul of gold though,” Paul told him.

“He had a stockpile of gold?”

“Yeah. Spanish, French, and Italian intelligence services had been paying the Taliban in bullion for years and years not to attack their troops so there is a influx of gold bullion in Afghanistan which eventually filters into Pakistan.”

“The Euros pay off the enemy because casualties would upset their shaky coalition governments and you rake up the fruits when you hit the targets.”

“Fucking A,” Zach answered. “The CIA has been paying their Taliban informants with blue pills unfortunately, so they are not helping us at all.”

“How do you get all that gold back?”

“Teeny Weeny Airlines. Dev has their own aircraft.”

“Shit, sounds like a good deal. And old boy goes into the ocean on the flight home, huh?”

Zach smiled.

“You really think we just dumped his body in the ocean dude?”

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Eleven

Nikita

Chapter Eleven:

Liquid Sky explosively breached the mockup with a flex linear charge. The explosion sent wooden splinters everywhere as the door burst into six or seven pieces. They put Deckard up front as the first man through the door, reminding him that as the new guy on the team, he was still nothing more than cannon fodder.

Ramon had called back to the staging area to tell them that he had secured Ingram MAC-10’s with suppressors for the mission from the Philippines’ extensive black market. They would just have to make do in training with the M4 paintball guns. It was an imperfect world.

Deckard stepped over the broke door and cleared the first corner. It was a wide open living space, framed out by bare plywood walls. Second hand furniture had also been placed inside the mockup. Ramon’s intel was that De Jesus routinely hired hookers from Manila’s most famous upscale whore house, Air Force One. Regularly attended by Ambassadors and Generals, Air Force One was where you went to score some “Tier One ass” as Bill had put it.

Deckard also noticed that although they were expecting civilians on target, all of their targetry in the mockup were shoot targets. None of the silhouettes were no-shoot targets. Everyone in the apartment was being marked for death.

Point shooting the first target, Deckard put two blue paint rounds center mass. He and Zach then cleared the kitchen area, taking down another two targets. Practicing a form of room clearing known as free flow, they had the entire apartment cleared in seconds.

The worst part was that they had to clear the entire objective while still wearing their wing suits. There would be no time to take them off, just unzip a slit between the legs so they could walk and escape from the wings by rolling back the sleeves. Once they hit the rooftop they would release their main parachute via a cutaway pillow and begin the killing. How the MAC-10 and spare magazines would be arranged on their kit was something that was still being worked out.

Then, once the apartment was covered in blood and spent brass they had to exfil with their reserve parachute, a stunt chute designed for base jumpers in this case. The entire mission was Hollywood as hell in Deckard’s opinion. The only reason why it would work was because no one would be expecting it.

Liquid Sky hit the training objective five more times. Nadeesha had her jet black hair pulled back and was now covered in sweat like the rest of them. So far, she was keeping up on target. No one was talking to her though, she was considered an outsider to the assault element.

After dropping their kit, the team guzzled bottled water from a cooler they had brought along and piled into a van to head back to the warehouse. They ate an early lunch and then went into the simulator. Ramon had left remote devices in two rented offices in buildings near the Aquino building. They knew the target was on site. Meanwhile, Ramon had secured their weapons and was building up their logistical infrastructure for the operation.

They were making progress in the simulator. Everyone was itching to do the hit.

Deckard bailed off the ramp of the virtual reality airplane and into the night for what seemed like the thousandth time.

He counted off the numbers.

River.

Rockwell building.

Petron Mega-Plaza.

Thread the needle between Four Seasons and the Grand Soko Makati.

Velasquez Park.

Pull!

Deckard’s body screamed into the target as his parachute joltingly interrupted his descent and he crashed onto the rooftop.

This time the entire team made it to the rooftop. It was the decisive point of the entire operation. If they successfully infiltrated to the objective, then the breach and room clearing aspects would be fairly straight forward by comparison. Then there was the exfil.

That could go either way.

 

* * *

 

“Deckard, come with me,” Bill said. They were just finishing dinner. “Grab your kit.”

Tossing his paper plate and Styrofoam cup into the trash, Deckard shouldered his parachute and wing suit. Bill had his gear as well and opened the back doors to the 10 pax van they had outside. They both dumped their kit inside and Bill got behind the wheel.

“Where are we going?” Deckard asked as he took the passenger seat.

“Practice jump.”

“Just us?”

“Yeah, you are the most switched on so you’re coming with me. Consider this a feasibility study.”

“You still don’t think jumping with night vision goggles will work?” Deckard asked him as they pulled off down the dirt road towards the airstrip.

“Too many lights in the metropolitan areas of the city. If your night vision whites out for even a second, that second is more than enough to kill you.”

“There should be enough cultural lighting to find our way to the objective,” Deckard agreed.

“Let’s find out.”

Bill stopped the van. The Twin Otter turbo prop was spun up and waiting for them on the airfield. The pilot opened the window and waved them forward. Picking up their gear, Bill and Deckard climbed aboard and set their altimeters. It was pitch dark in the desert when the pilot lifted off. The two Liquid Sky operators began donning their wing suits and parachutes.

Bill seemed huge inside the aircraft, as if the plane had been built for midgets. He got bigger just by looking at weights. Deckard knew he must have been going crazy without being able to hit the gym and drink a steady stream of protein shakes. As the plane leveled out, he leaned in close so that Deckard could hear him over the noise of the turbo props.

“What do you think the chances are of us actually pulling this off?” he asked.

“It all depends on whether or not we can get to the objective. If so, I would say 95 percent,” Deckard answered.

“What do you think are the odds of getting to the objective then?”

Deckard shrugged.

“50-50.”

“Fair enough. Let’s find out.”

Bill turned and sat down, taking up two seats.

Deckard sat down and checked his equipment over. He started getting nervous when he realized they were heading North. They were flying towards Darwin, one of Australia’s northern most cities. By plane, it was about an hour away.

They sat in the dimly lit cabin, the plane vibrating beneath their feet. Finally, Bill went up and said something to the pilot. Coming back into the cabin he leaned in to yell into Deckard’s ear.

“I found a building in Dawin that is about the same dimensions as the Aquino Building. It is the Marrakai apartment building. Just follow me. We’re going to prove that this can be done tonight. Illum is bright so we should be good to go.”

Should be.

“Roger.”

To say that Deckard had reservations was the understatement of the century. He had learned to control his wing suit very well but didn’t know any of the landmarks in Darwin. All he could do was follow Bill and hope for the best. If he missed the target building he would have to deploy his chute and land in the street or something, hopefully avoiding any electrical lines.

Bill opened the door on the side of the aircraft. Cold air rushed in, an old familiar feeling.

Deckard put on his helmet, strapping it under his chin. Then he reached up to swing down his VR goggles. He was glad that Bill didn’t see him make that subconscious mistake. There was nothing virtual about this run.

Bill placed his feet at the edge of the door and carefully leaned out to spot for their job. Looking at the lights of Darwin in the distance, he motioned Deckard forward. Deckard look at the back of Bill’s neck, right where his spinal chord connected to his skull. He wished he could kill him now and get it over with but he had to find out who Bill was working for. Otherwise, his handlers would just spin up another team after Liquid Sky had been eliminated. A minute later, Bill leaned in and gave him the thumbs up.

Stepping forward, Bill jumped out into the darkness and disappeared.

Deckard took a deep breath and followed him out.

A rush of wind took him out into the night sky. He saw the moon wobble in front of him for a moment and then got stable in the air. Assuming the correct body position, he began gliding. It took a moment for him to spot Bill in the moonlight. he was just a black splotch floating through the sky. Deckard maneuvered behind him as they nosed over the harbor towards the city.

Deckard began to relax a little. Everything was quiet and peaceful as he floated over the harbor. They had about ten miles to fly before they reached their drop zone. Down below, he spied the lights of a few oil tankers heading into port. Up ahead, Bill began adjusting his angle of attack. Darwin was coming up fast.

They soared over the port, coming in low. The city scape all looked the same, low laying structures and houses everywhere except for two towers straight ahead. One was the Holiday Inn. The other was their target building. Deckard shifted his position to the left, offset of Bill. Getting caught in each other’s canopies was a serious concern.

The two jumpers were nearly side by side when they deployed their parachutes. The pilot chute pulled out their main parachutes, ribbons of suspension lines going taunt above their heads. Reaching up and grabbing his toggles, Deckard made final adjustments. The roof of the building was dark, but the apartments below had their lights on, providing a perfect outline of the top of the building for them.

Bill and Deckard’s canopies were nearly touchingmas they landed parallel to each other. They touched down on the roof feeling feather light for once, both landing on their feet. The parachutes collapsed next to them as they quickly reeled in one brake line to make sure it didn’t get caught in the soft sea breeze.

“That’s it,” Bill said as he scooped up his parachute. “This can be done. My guys are just mind fucking themselves at this point. They’ve got enough training. It is what it is.”

“It is doable,” Deckard agreed as he policed up his own chute.

“Find us an exit,” Bill ordered him. “Then you hot wire a vehicle for us. Consider it urban escape and evasion training.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Deckard took off his parachute harness, rolled up the chute like a sleeping bag and shoved it into its deployment bag. He could repack it later.

“When we get back I’m telling Ramon that we are coming in tomorrow for the hit. We jump and whoever makes it makes it. Whoever dies, dies. Its not like this is my first crew.”

“This isn’t your first team?”

“Fuck no. I broke all the others.”

Deckard tried not to dwell on that as he looked for a way to bypass the lock on the roof top door.

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Direct Action: Chapter Ten (Part Two)

Nikita

Rick pushed a piece of plywood into position and held it in place for Deckard. While holding a half dozen nails in his mouth, Deckard began nailing the plywood into the wooden frame that they had spent the day constructing. Each of the Liquid Sky members were covered in sweat, their clothes soaked through while they labored in the Australian heat.

Nadeesha weaved her way through the mock up they were building with a clipboard in her hand.

“When you finish with that I need you two to help Paul frame out the dinning room.”

Rick and Deckard looked at each other as she walked off. She was taking her role as foreman a little too seriously. Using the pictures that Ramon was taking of the objective area, they were building a scale model of the rooftop apartment they were going to raid. Once they finished building it they would be running through it for training with guns that shot paint pellets.

Nadeesha kept pushing them to work faster. They still had a mission brief to do and then it was back into the simulator until they didn’t suck anymore.

Deckard finished nailing the plywood in place and then they went to go find Paul.

* * *

Back in the warehouse everyone was relieved to be able to sit in the air conditioning for a while. Nadeesha had just gotten off the phone with Ramon and was now ready to start the brief. A map was laid out on the table alongside some over head satellite photography taken from Google Earth. The next step would be to make a three dimensional model of the city to help conduct talk throughs of the mission.

Bill turned on a tablet and passed it around. It showed a thirty-something Filipino with a goatee and wearing eyeglasses.

“This is our target, Kanor De Jesus. He runs a finance network for the moose limbs. Some of them are targeting the Royal families in the Gulf States so the client wants this guy out of the picture. The problem is that various players, including JSOC, have already tried to kill him. Five botched assassination attempts in the last two years. These days he doesn’t ever leave his rooftop apartment. The building is locked down with security from top to bottom. It would take a battalion of soldiers to fight their way up to the top. He knows there will be another assassination attempt and has taken precautions.”

“For some reason De Jesus just doesn’t sound like a Muslim name,” Zach remarked.

“It isn’t. This guy is a businessman; not a moose limb. His MO is providing financing to individuals and small cells that conduct terrorist attacks back in their home countries. Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, and so on. He has a network that goes out and buys pre-paid cards. You have to show identification to buy the cards, but not to reload them. So De Jesus has some local patsies buy the cards, then he has his men reload them with cash, all the way up to 10,000 dollars which is more than enough to get into the Middle East and run a small scale terrorist operation. Sometimes he will hand out multiple cards anyway.

“The thing is, these attacks he is funding are becoming so frequent that each country’s intelligence services are having a hard time countering them. He is using swarming tactics. Remember those anus bombs?”

“Butt bombs?” Paul asked.

“A couple moose limbs stuck HME,” Bill said referring to Home Made Explosives. “Along with a cell phone detonator right up their poop chute.”

“Sounds painful.”

“These fuckers have lots of practice playing butt darts so I’m sure it wasn’t that big a deal. They almost killed the intelligence minister of Jordan a few months ago with one of those attacks. The other went off and killed a bunch of people in Riyadh during Ramadan.”

“Killing their own people,” Zach remarked. “Fucking savages.”

Deckard said nothing. He wasn’t at all surprised. That was how groups like Al Qaeda operated. Muslim or not, you, your wife, and your kids were going to be turned into corpses if you didn’t believed in AQ’s bronze age worldview.

“The thing about these pre-paid cards is that they are an easy way to transport large sum of money across international borders and they are completely untraceable. It allows terrorists to access funds in ways that would set off trip wires otherwise. If they were moving cash around in some other manner it would get picked up by banking software and red flagged by American and foreign agencies.

“There was also an IED that injured a Saudi prince a couple months back. The scale of the attacks is increasing while the duration between them is decreasing. De Jesus is handing out these pre-paid cards to moose limb motherfuckers like it is going out of style. But this is what really has the client freaked out,” Bill said as he grabbed the tablet and flipped to a new picture.

“This guys works for the People’s Liberation Army with the General Staff Development’s Third Department.”

“The what?” Rick asked.

“Uh, its like China’s version of the NSA.”

“Not really,” Nadeesha chimed in.

“Well, then tell us knuckle draggers what the fuck this guy represents.”

“He goes by the name Dai Kexue, a mid-level executive with a state owned manufacturing consortium. His real name is Major Shen Banggen.”

“And what does he do for Red China?” Rick asked again.

“He facilitates certain programs and projects, only a few of which we know anything about. We do know that the Third Department is invested in securing China’s cyber infrastructure and protecting its national security but it isn’t anything like the NSA. The Third Department takes a more holistic approach to national security calledinformatization. This means that their cyber security initiatives work in tandem with China’s efforts to secure its place in the global marketplace, continue its economic growth, and compete commercially.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Paul asked, clearly frustrated.

Deckard leaned forward and began to speak.

“It means that Major Banggen is tasked with ensuring that China has total information dominance for political, economic, and military purposes. Baggen is clearly working with De Jesus as part of a Chinese shaping operation. They are facilitating outcomes in the Middle East that they feel are favorable to China and dis-favorable to the United States.”

“I still don’t get it,” Paul said rolling his eyes.

Nadeesha blew air through her teeth.

“It means we have to kill De Jesus,” Deckard said.

“You should have just said that in the first place.”

“You guys can go bone to bone and see who is bigger later on,” Bill told them. “Nadeesha has been compiling the intel that Ramon has gathered so far and will brief you on the general layout of what you will find on the roof top of the Aquino building when, and if, you make it there.”

* * *

They slept in cots right there in the warehouse. The team was cut off from the rest of the world and kept in isolation. The technician who ran the simulator would bring them food in the morning and other odds and ends they requested.

Bill woke the team up at nine in the morning. Using replica M4 rifles that shot paint ball pellets they began clearing the mock up that they had begun constructing the previous day. Most of De Jesus’ apartment was framed out but it still needed some work. Still, they were just familiarizing themselves with the floor plan. Bill only set up a few paper targets inside for them to shoot at.

Deckard had to give it to Bill, as unprofessional an outfit as it was, Liquid Sky had a pretty squared away training plan for this mission. He was using the crawl, walk, run method to train up the team and prepare them for their mission in the PI. The simulator, the mock up, using the kit they would have on the mission, it all made sense and greatly increased their probability of success.

After a few hours in the mock up, Bill called them back to the warehouse before they got burned out and lazy running through the wooden structure again and again. The human mind reached the point of diminishing returns after a while.

Then it was right back into the simulator.

Bill was the first one to stick the landing on the rooftop. Deckard was the second but was still hit or miss. Then Paul made it in the next couple simulations. Zach made the landing once, but just barely. Rick still had a big goose egg for a score in the simulator that night. It was early in the morning when Bill decided they were done for the night.

They were getting better.

Slowly.

At least they had a high degree of confidence that their target wasn’t going anywhere.

After lunch they drove out to a nearby airfield with their parachutes and wingsuits. A small prop plane took them up. It was basic familiarization with their equipment. Some of them, like Deckard, had hundreds if not thousands of jumps but never used a wingsuit before. It wasn’t exactly standard issue after all.

As they waited for the plane to spin up, Deckard heard Zach and Paul talking about how they wished Nadeesha was coming along so they could sabotage her parachute and be done with her once and for all. Liquid Sky wasn’t like a military unit. It wasn’t a brotherhood. It was like the mafia. Everyone was guilty and that guilt was the only thing that bonded them together. That and fulling their own self-satisfaction. For drugs, for money, for pussy, whatever it was.

Finally the pilot indicated that he was ready for the first lift. They set their altimeters and got on board. They quickly rose to 12,000 feet. When Bill opened the door the air that rushed in was damn cold. They would have to glide to their drop zone.

Tucking his limbs in, Deckard dived out the door of the plane then extended his arms and legs to begin tracking forward. With his arms swept back and his legs fully extended he could feel the lift being generated by the wingsuit. He was tracking several meters forward for every meter that he dropped. With the rest of the Liquid Sky team, he glided towards the drop zone.

As they dropped in altitude it really became possible to see how fast they were moving in relation to the terrain below. With a wing suit a jumper could get going up to a hundred and twenty miles an hour. That became apparent as the shrubs and desert of the Australian outback below blasted by. At four thousand feet they deployed their parachutes.

These were much smaller parachutes than the military used. The T-10C static line parachute and MC-5 HALO parachute had to be able to carry two entangled jumpers to the ground, with all of their combat equipment. By contrast, civilian parachutes did not have any such requirements and were true sport parachutes. They deployed faster and dumped altitude faster. The margins for error were also much smaller.

A MC-5 had 3,000 square feet of material in the parachute. Their civilian parachutes had about 500 square feet. [fact check].

The reality was that they would be deploying their chutes about 500 feet above the target. That wasn’t a small margin of error, it was no margin of error. They knew this. There were no high fives or woots when they touched down on their drop zone. Everyone knew that had been child’s play.

* * *

That night was spent diving through Manila in the simulator.

They had perfected the variables at this point. The jump altitude was finalized, the approach path was on target, now they just had to learn to compensate for the variables that they couldn’t control, like wind speed. They also had to have split second timing when it came to deploying and steering parachutes. They only had about ten seconds from the time they pulled to the time they were hitting the deck on top of the Aquino building.

Bill was hitting the rooftop about half of the time. Deckard was hitting it about the third of the time, but he was quickly getting used to the wingsuit’s aerodynamics. Zach and Paul were still hit or miss. Rick hadn’t stuck a single landing.

It was the eleventh simulation that night. Deckard zoomed over metro Manila, letting the gold lit buildings guide his way. He had every landmark, every hit point memorized by now. Crossing the river was his first heads up, then the oval shaped One Rockwell East Tower told him he was getting closer.

The ground was coming up to meet him. He was gliding and dropping at the same time. Running out of air, running out of time. It had to be perfect.

He cruised over the helipad on the top of the Roxas building, just a hundred over the roof. The Petron Mega-Plaza passed on his right flank. He shifted his legs to steer left. Next he blasted right between the Four Seasons and the Grand Soko Makati. Suddenly he was over Velasquez Park.

This was it. Reaching back, he yanked out his pilot chute and released it into the wind. The parachute deployed, the pulleys on the simulator lowering him from a freefall position to a vertical position as if he were really under canopy. The Aquino Building was right at his foot tips.

Only under canopy for a few seconds, he steered as close to the center of the building as he could with his toggles and yanked down on them at the last moment to brake. The suspension lines on the simulator suddenly went slack, dropping Deckard to the warehouse floor to simulate a real landing.

The screen froze.

Chalk up another touchdown. In the VR goggles, the other jumpers were listed as they hit their assigned dropzone. Bill, Zach, and Paul all made it to the top of the building. Rick was still shitting the bed.

“Rick,” Bill bellowed in the empty warehouse. “Unclip from the simulator and de-kit. You’re done.”

“What do you mean I’m done?” Deckard could hear the voices talk back and forth before he flipped up his goggles.

“Exactly what it sounds like. You are not hitting the dropzone. You’re done.”

“That’s fucking bullshit.”

“What’s bullshit is that the most cherry fuck on this team is hitting his targets and you aren’t,” Bill said referring to Deckard. “I said, fucking de-kit!”

Deckard flipped up his goggles in time to see Rick unclip from the simulator and unceremoniously drop his goggles and parachute on the cement floor. Tearing off the wingsuit he tossed it and stormed outside, the heavy metal door slamming shut behind him.

“Nadeesha!” Bill yelled. “Kit up and get in the simulator. The rest of you are done for the night.”

Nadeesha looked up from the folding table where she had been going over intel reports and working on the layout of the objective.

“You waiting for a second invitation sweet pea? Kit the fuck up. You’re in for an all nighter.”

“What the hell is this,” Zach said in shock. “You’re taking Rick off the team for some squall?”

“I need pipe hitters on my objective, but that pipe hitter can’t even get to the objective. If Nadeesha can get her piss flaps to the top of the fucking building than a squall trigger puller is better than no trigger puller.”

“She does intel not operations,” Zach said as if Bill needed reminding.

“She only has to be operational for all of five minutes on target and I don’t have time to find someone new. Ramon has the remote devices on batteries to watch the target but he is now busy working logistics for our infil and exfil.”

Apparently Nadeesha didn’t need to be told twice. By the time Deckard had unclipped from the suspension lines and shrugged out of his parachute, Nadeesha was already set to go in what had been Rick’s simulator station.

“So since you don’t think she is up to it,” Bill told Zach. “I want you to brew a fresh pot of coffee for her.”

Then he turned to the technician working the computer.

“Feed her a cup after every five simulations once she starts getting tired. I want her going all night. She has a lot of catching up to do to get up to speed with the rest of us.”

Deckard unzipped his wing suit and set it down next to the parachute. Nadeesha was being pulled up by the pulleys into the free fall position. The VR goggles were down over her eyes. The wing suit was going to need some further adjustments for her smaller frame but they would work that out later. Rick wasn’t that tall to begin with.

Fuck that dude anyway.

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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 Nine (part two)

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Deckard erased the phone’s memory, then removed the battery. He devoured the pizza as his body was still starved from the morning workout. Paying the bill, he made his way back towards the port and tossed his cell phone over the railing and into the Indian Ocean. The city’s main shopping mall was right across the bay so Deckard walked over and bought some food and other household items he needed for the duration of his stay. However long that might be.

Taking a cab back to his pad, Deckard put away the groceries. He had to be careful not to get comfortable here. It was an island oasis that Europeans flocked to on vacation, but for him it was Bad Guy country. More dangerous than Afghanistan or Iraq, his own team mates were the enemy and all it would take is one slip up. It didn’t even have to be his mistake. A few phone calls to the wrong people in the United States, if certain information began to fall into Bill’s hands and Liquid Sky would start to get suspicious. Suspicion would quickly give way to paranoia. You could never be too careful in this line of work. That paranoia would lead immediately to Deckard being executed. He could never let his guard down here. He was always operational, even when not on an operation.

He continued to wonder if his entire house wasn’t wired for sound and video with someone playing voyeur as they watched him on a closed circuit television screen. If that paranoia did set in with Liquid Sky, he would never see it coming once they decided to do him in. He could improvise some weapons like in Dubai, better yet, secure a gun somewhere on the island but for now secrecy was his security.

Laying down, he took a long nap on the couch with the television muted. Late into the afternoon he awoke as someone banged on the screen door that faced out to the ocean.

“Hey Zach said, team meeting before the party. Let’s go.”

“Sure,” Deckard said as he rubbed his eyes. “Be right there.”

Deckard opened the screen door and stepped outside.

Mauritius was a relatively tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Isolated, it was tucked away from all the distractions and complications found elsewhere. The waves broke on the shore, pulling the beach out with it as the tides changed. It felt like he was standing on the edge of the world.

Walking down the beach he crossed Bill’s workout area on the deck and stepped inside. Zach and Paul were shooting the shit about some French tourists they had banged the night before.

“This island is a pussy buffet bro,” Paul laughed.

“Fucking Euro girls don’t lube up right when they’re drunk though. Gotta help ’em out a little,” Zach complained.

“Give them a break,” Rick cut in. “I’m sure she did fine with what little she had to work with.”

The Liquid Sky men roared with laughter as Rick high fived Paul. Everyone went quiet as Nadeesha entered and sat down in a chair in the corner. Bill was sitting on his couch with his laptop open.

“Now that everyone is here,” Bill said as he eyeballed Nadeesha, “we can get started.”

Deckard noticed that Ramon was missing.

“I know everyone has been nervous about the client. Recent events back in the States scared him off and his company decided to abandon a number of classified projects including some indig proxy force they were training out in Nevada. After we got hung out to dry I had to find us employment elsewhere. Pakistan was for a Prince in Bahrain. Afghanistan was a one off, that was a Agency contract. Then Dubai was for the Yids.

“We had a couple interested parties who were going to pick us up on a permanent basis like G3 Communications did but some of those fell through. A lot of the players had experience with BW and the executives over there left a lot of scorched ground between the decision makers and the contractors. I almost set us up working directly for a group of princes in the Gulf States but now I think I got something better.

“A retired American General is going to pick up Liquid Sky and his ‘leadership academy’ or what-ever-the-fuck-ever will sponsor us covertly. This way, his group acts as the middle man between the princes who have plenty of work for us to do. This Arab Spring thing is really fucking up their jive. That’s where we come in. Between them and these Wahhabi sand niggers they got their hands full and a bunch of inept A-rab soldiers in their military who sleep most of the day and spend the rest fucking their boyfriends. So we won’t be hurting for work.”

“So what are we looking at?” Rick asked.

“They got something for us to start on now. Ramon finished his pre-mission prep and has already moved into the target country to begin Operational Preparation of the Battlespace. Tomorrow the rest of us move out to the staging area. The targeted individual has already had five assassination attempts on him in the last two years so he is paranoid as fuck and is prepared. He knows someone will try again and will be waiting for us. This is going to take some brass balls to pull off but what the fuck else is new.

“Don’t worry about that shit now. Party it up tonight. Tomorrow we fly out to begin training and it is back to business.”

A couple whoops went up and the boys began dragging out a keg that they had on ice. The next time Deckard turned around, Nadeesha had already disappeared. Bill tapped the keg and started passing out beers. Paul lined up a few dozen shot glasses and lined them up on the kitchen table. The other guys were making phone calls to some of the expat girls they knew on the island.

Zach shotgunned four shots back to back and the party was started. Deckard was pretty drunk by the time a half dozen women showed up. Four were from France, one from Switzerland, and another from Germany. They brought the drugs with them too.

Bill did a couple lines of a blow off one of his billiard tables. Deckard was starting to get nervous. Former operators filled with booze and coke and haunted by the wars they fought in was not exactly a great combination.

Sitting down with a fresh beer, one of the French girls came right over and sat down on his lap. Deckard had no idea what the blond was saying to him and he cared even less. Across the room, one of her girlfriends was grabbing Zach’s crouch as they took turns downing shots. She frowned at her and then went back to Deckard, kissing him on the lips. They seemed to be in competition with each other.

Rick fired up a couple lines of coke between Vodka shots.

Now the French chick had pulled out Rick’s cock. It was Deckard’s turn to frown. The Prince Albert piercing had to hurt. Getting down her in knees, the blond girl’s friend went to work, deep throating Rick right there in the middle of the party. The European girls cheered, a few offering advice on how to improve her technique.

The blond was clearly pissed over something and jumped off Deckard’s lap to go use the bathroom. When she came back her pupils were huge, dilated from whatever pills she had swallowed.

By then, Bill had bent the big titted German girl over a billiard table, dropped trou and was drilling her, the moans drowned out by the loud death metal music blasting over the stereo.

Jesus Christ, Deckard thought. When he was a young soldier they used to have Squad parties. He ever recalled his Squad Leader doing keg stands all night, throwing the keg off his back deck, and then doing donuts around his house in a beat up Toyota pickup truck. All of that seemed pretty mild compared to this cocaine fueled orgy.

Once Bill finished with the German, the blond pillhead let her jean shorts fall around her ankles and bent over the pool table to wait her turn. Soon, her finger nails were tearing up the billiard table’s upholstery.

Deckard could take a hint, if he stuck around much longer there was a good chance that one of these nymphos was going to handcuff him to a radiator and shock his balls with a couple wires attached to a car battery. He made a hasty exist as Paul and Zach swapped girls and were going for their second round.

Later on, he couldn’t remember stumbling back to his beach house. He woke up in the early morning hours, still wearing his clothes while laying in the bath tube with the shower on, soaking wet.

“What. the. fuck.”

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Nine (part one)

Nikita

Chapter Nine:

Physical Training with Liquid Sky put Deckard in a world of shit. He was a hybrid athlete as necessitated by his life style. As the leader of a para-military mercenary unit, Deckard led from the front, often doing body weight routines, kettlebell workouts with the Kazakh mercenaries in the gym, ruck marches with fifty pound packs, and five mile runs in full combat equipment.

Liquid Sky took masochism to a whole new level.

At dawn they dived into the ocean for a swim. Deckard was a strong swimmer but the former SEALs were like fish as they cut through the wakes that knocked him back and forth in the water. Bill took them out past the breakers and then turned around to head back to shore. Deckard was the last one to the beach. Even Ramon, their former Special Forces member was out in front of him.

Washing up on a shore, Deckard jogged across the beach and up to Bill’s bungalow to catch up. They were already spotting each other as they cycled through on the bench press.

“You’re up,” Rick told him just as he climbed up onto the deck. Soaking wet, he knocked out five repetitions on the bench. He was tired from the swim but could hang in there. Coming from the Army side, he was a runner and ruck marcher more than a swimmer.

Next they did Renegade Man Makers with 25 pound dumb bells. A weight was held in each hand while hitting the ground and doing a push up, Then you shifted your weight and executed a row, bringing the weight level with the chest, then repeating it on the other side. Next, you got to your feet with the weights and pressed them above your head. That was one repetition. They did five reps.

Next came five box jumps. From a standing position, you had to jump on top of a wooden box that was two feet high. Also for five reps. Then came five reps on the dip bars. After that came five Goblet Squats which were done holding a 25 pound kettle bell. Then they did 25 meter sprints down the beach to shake it out. That was one set. There were four more to go.

Deckard was sucking as most of the other guys were on steroids and were blowing through the exercises at first. Rick was actually the first one to puke. The entire workout was done for time and now it was starting to catch up to them. Ramon puked off the edge of the deck during their third time through the Renegade Man Makers. Deckard puked third, this time during the sprints. Zach got it on the last set, barfing into the ocean as he staggered away after the box jumps.

After the fifth and last set they all lay around panting. Except for Bill. He was a human wrecking ball. Deckard saw that he was covered in sweat but didn’t even seem to be breathing that hard. The Liquid Sky leader picked up a water bottle, swished the water around in his mouth, spat it out in the sand and walked inside.

“Fuck me,” Deckard said to himself.

When he finally managed to get to his feet and walk back to his beach house he was just in time to see Nadeesha glide out of the waves and stride up the beach in a blue bikini. She was on her own PT program and the guys simply left her to her own devices. She made eye contact with him for a split second before turning and walking down the beach to her place, not even acknowledging his existence.

Deckard stood in the cool morning air for another minute before going inside and taking a shower. Most of the food in the refrigerator had gone bad and had to be thrown out but Deckard downed some cereal he found in the pantry. His body was starving and he’d have to make sure he got some more food in his system soon to help recover from the workout. He also drank several more glasses of water.

After he got dressed, Deckard locked the door and walked a few blocks to the main street. He was on his own time until the team party tonight. It was time to get to work.

Hailing a cab, he told the driver that he wanted to hit up the market in Port Louis, the island’s capital about twenty minutes away from where he was on the northern tip of Mauritius. The cab driver nodded. Almost everyone seemed to speak English here.

On the way into the city Deckard observed the port. It really was a multicultural island with many faiths and peoples living on top of one another without any real problems. It wasn’t just the churches, mosques, and temples, but even the port was filled with run of the mill fishing vessels and Chinese junks. There were also Naval ships which looked to be retrofitted with stealth characteristics.

Paying the cab driver, he walked into the center of the city. Port Louis was second world, but perfectly comfortable and the people very friendly. Still, he couldn’t help but notice that like most countries he traveled too, the tallest buildings in town were the ones reserved for the banks and private financial institutions. Like Malta, Mauritius was an off shore finance nexus.

Deckard walked a long surveillance detection route, winding his way through the city blocks and stopping several times. He had to make absolutely sure that he wasn’t being followed.

The market was a large two story building in the city center with produce filling baskets in every stall with bright orange, green, red, and yellow fruits along with various nuts, stalks, and roots. Looking through the breezeway up to the second story, Deckard could see clothing and other household goods for sale. Climbing the stairs he pretended to look at a few stalls before stopping at a stall that sold electronics.

He bought a Samsung cellphone with cash and picked up a SIM card while he was there. Outside he found a vender selling phone cards and bought several from him. Deckard again took a long meandering route that would allow him to see if he was being followed. Finding a pizzeria, he ducked inside and asked the waiter to be seated in the back of the restaurant.

Ordering a pizza and a drink, he went to work as soon as the waiter walked away. Slipping in the SIM card, he inserted the battery into the phone and found that he had a half charge. Good enough. Scratching off the code bars on the back of the phone cards, he typed them in and put minutes of his phone.

Furiously, Deckard began hammering out an intel report with his thumbs.

* * *

Pat sat up in his chair as his cell phone vibrated across the table.

Samruk International was still working out of a hangar at the airport in Astana, Kazakhstan. Frank and Sergeant Major Koran had flown in with the Kazakhs from Mexico and made sure they were paid for services rendered before putting them on two weeks of leave. Now the troops were filtering back from across the country. The problem was that Samruk International didn’t have a new contract for them yet. The Kazakh mercenaries were re-fitting and Korgan was drawing up a training plan but they still needed to find work.

Now that Frank was back to his old self and walking around without crutches, he was setting up business meetings with the Kazakh government to bid on a counter-narcotics contract. Something local would be nice for a change.

Snatching the phone off his desk, Pat typed in his PIN and saw that he had a new text message. As the former Delta Force operator began to read, he immediately knew what he was looking at.

“Aghassi!” He called across the hangar. His voice echoed through the open space. A massive An-125 Russian cargo jet sat in the middle of the hangar, it’s twin bother was outside on the tarmac. They were expensive as hell to operate but necessary for a highly mobile Private Military Company.

“Get over here!”

Aghassi and Nikita were currently tasked with training up a six-man recce cell but this was critical. They had a man in the field. Under and alone.

Pat scrolled through the message:

Operating out of Mauritius

Seven operators incl/ me

Last tgt in dubai told he was money for terr org

Previous tgt in afghan said they ran dope for karzai

guy in Pak named Henderson girl back home?

others, Bill, Paul, Zach, and Rick. Former SEALs. Bill 1IC

Ramon. former 1st sfg CIF

Nadeesha. not sure, jsoc intel maybe

nasty group, witness war crimes in afghan.

still on probation w/ tm

“Ho-ly shit,” Pat said. “Fucking Deckard. He did it.”

The assassination in Dubai was all over the news. Fingers were getting pointed everywhere, bust mostly at Mossad. No one could prove anything of course.

“I’m catching the first flight out tonight,” Aghassi said. He was now reading the message over Pat’s shoulder.

“Got it. I’ll get in touch with Cody back in the States for the electronic piece.”

The next text message was an address to the place where Deckard was staying on the island. Aghassi wrote it down and then opened one of the laptops sitting at their ad hoc command post and began making arrangements. The phone vibrated one more time.

There is a # in my kit. pocket on plate carrier i used in MX

Remember the two NSW guys we ran into down there

Call them. find out who these guys are

want to know what the fuck happened to them.

Pat texted him back to acknowledge the message. He didn’t hear back. Deckard was probably already throwing the cell phone into the ocean. The last text referred to two SEAL Team Six operators that they had crossed paths with while they were sniffing out an arms trafficking pipeline in Mexico. The two Spanish speaking SEALs were acting as advisers to the Mexican forces battling it out with the cartels. Tearing through Deckard’s combat gear in the corner of the hangar, Pat found the piece of paper with their numbers on it. Dusty and Flakjacket were their nicknames.

The last two weeks had been spent waiting for Deckard’s corpse to turn up somewhere, in which case they would be lucky because it was far more likely that he just disappeared in the either never to be seen or heard from again. Now that they had an inside man, it was time to start getting inside the enemy’s decision making cycle. Pat sat back down and starting making some calls.

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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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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Seven

Nikita(Work in progress from Marc Lee!)

Chapter Seven:

Zach was mixing the jungle juice.

“Don’t look at it,” Paul explained as Zach upended a handle of vodka into the pot. “If you don’t look at it then it is okay, it can’t get you drunk!”

Once he drained it, Zach dropped the glass bottle in the trash and began stirring his concoction of hard liqueur and juice. They were in Bill’s place for the team party. Mandatory fun in Deckard’s eyes, but the alcohol would be flowing and would help him get a bead on the other guys. He stood off to the side drinking the local brew, Phoenix beer.

Bill had to take a call outside. Of course Deckard wanted to eavesdrop, but he had to play it cool. Rick showed up with a fresh batch of hair gel in to keep his hair slicked back. Ramon walked in a few minutes later. No sign of Nadeesha.

“Drink this Deckard,” Zach said handing him a mug of the jungle juice. He was about six foot two with sandy blonde hair. Deckard took the drink.

“Thanks dude.”

Zach could have been a stand in for a kid in a Abercrombie ad or the Hitler Youth. Paul had been right he realized as he took a sip. If you didn’t know there was alcohol in the drink you’d never know what it was.

“Nice shirt,” Zach commented. “Fucking Henderson was all into that Malibu Barbie shit.”

“So you were in Army Special Operations?” Rick started in. “What’s up with that?”

“I got around,” Deckard answered.

“My thing with the Army is that all you guys know that BUD/S is the graduate level program and everything else you guys have going is just vanilla.”

“You guys were with Dev?”

“Yeah, in the same Squadron together.”

“TACDEVRON-what?”

“Fuck do you care?”

Deckard decided to back off. Rick suddenly got defensive when he asked which Squadron he had been in. But he had confirmed that they were in SEAL Team Six, also known as Dev Group depending on which way the wind was blowing that day. Meanwhile, Bill walked back inside and picked up a pool cue. He had a couple billiard tables in the living area. Must be a hobby.

“I don’t think you’ve got what it takes to be on this team. I don’t care who you were back in the Army.”

It was Deckard’s post-Army career where things got really froggy but he didn’t feel the need to mention that. Bill had before and knew bits and pieces. Nobody knew the full story of what really happened out there. Not even Deckard if he was to be honest with himself.

“Give me some work. Anybody can put bullets in a muldoon jumping over the wall on the black side of an objective.”

“You might get your wish sooner than you think.”

“Have to ask you.”

“Another question…”

“A woman on the team.”

“Not my decision.”

“Wouldn’t you love to splat a map of Hawaii on her forehead,” Zach yelled from the other side of the room. Paul spun up the stereo system.

“Look,” Rick said. “Its not for any lack of trying.”

Bill was racking the billiard balls and was about the break.

“I would do things to her that I wouldn’t do to farm animals,” Paul confirmed.

“She’s a bitch,” Rick continued. “A woman has no business on this team other than getting passed around the team room.”

“You think she likes to scissor with girls?” Deckard said playing along. “Lez it out and shit?”

“Who the fuck knows? Maybe uncle bad touch fingered her no-no place and now she’s got some kind of fucking complex.” Rick rolled his eyes. “She just does intel shit for us, can go places and suck dicks that we can’t. Bill recruited her and ordered us to leave her the fuck alone so it is what it is.”

“I understand. I was just wondering. We didn’t have them anyplace that I worked in the Army.”

“What?” Zach said. “Split tailed females?”

“Yeah, except when they got passed around our team houses.”

Zach, Rick, and Paul laughed this time.

“Yeah, well,” Zach said. “You would have better luck getting inside Margaret Thatcher’s pussy. If you want to fuck Nadeesha you better slip her a Roofie-Colada.”

“If this jungle juice doesn’t do me in first.”

“Man up,” Rick sneered. “PT tomorrow unless you’re too pussy.”

“I am what I eat.”

“What the fuck ever.”

Rick was a hard sell. Didn’t like Deckard because he wasn’t from the right tribe. Ramon was on the other side of the room having a drink and messing the tv.

“You from the PI?” Deckard asked as he approached.

“Born and bred,” Ramon answered in a matter of fact manner. Deckard was hoping he had built a little rapport with with him up on the ridge line.

“You were there in 2006?”

“Why?”

“Because that is when JSOC was doing the killing.”

“You got it all wrong man, I was a Warrant Officer in 1st Group. You?”

“The Legion.”

Ramon laughed as he flicked channels until he found a soccer game on the satellite tv. “Yeah, I was an intel guy for the CIF.”

“How did you get tied in with these frogmen then?”

“Bill brought me on for a specific mission in a country where I had a lot of local experience and connections. I helped stand up Group 14 after I left the CIF. Ever been to Cambodia?”

“Yeah.”

“When you were with GB? The Agency funded all that.”

“No. It was a commercial endeavor.”

“If you say so. I don’t know what to make of you man. No offense but people say some weird things about you.”

“Some of them are probably even true.”

That was when the door opened and Nadeesha walked in like she owned the joint. She had changed into a spaghetti string top and a pair of jeans that clung to her body in all the right places. Deckard found it impossible to avert his gaze as her hips gently swayed. She blew all of them off and walked straight over to Bill.

Over by the billiard tables she started talking to Bill, her hands flying through the air.

“That girl is something else,” Ramon said as he sunk into the couch. “Maybe you should ask her about the PI. She was part of an intel cell for JSOC. Or so I’m told. What do I know? I was just a Wobbly One straight out of the WOC.”

Deckard noticed Bill nod his head towards him. Whatever he was talking about with Nadeesha involved him somehow. She didn’t look happy. She had both palms up in the air and was having words with Bill. Despite the hardass SEAL persona that he ruled over Liquid Sky with, Bill seemed to take Nadeesha in stride. He never lost his cool with her and Deckard noted it. Bill was a thinker, he could think several steps ahead. He knew how to manage personalities and play the long game. He was a step above Rick and the others. That was probably why he was in charge.

“It took you guys a while to get into the fight didn’t it?” Deckard asked Ramon while pretending his didn’t notice the conversation about him.

“Yeah, it did. We finally got the CIF in country and doing some good work. We had some other teams up north in Kurdistan too.”

He kept things going until he heard Bill call out for him.

“Get over here Deckard!”

Setting down his drink, Deckard walked over to the pair.

“You’re going to Dubai,” Bill told him.

“I don’t fucking need him there,” Nadeesha cursed. “He will just get in the way.”

“We are being hunted. We got hit hard in Pakistan. I’m not letting you go alone.”

“This is my op.”

“And it is my decision.”

Nadeesha brushed her long dark hair over her shoulder as she shook her head and then crossed her arms under her breasts.

“When can he be ready?” Nadeesha said looking at Bill.

“I’m ready now,” Deckard interjected.

“Good,” Bill responded. “This is Nadeesha’s op. She leads, you follow. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Not this guy,” Nadeesha pleaded. “Why not Ramon?”

“I need him for mission prep in the PI. Only he can do that job. All of my boys are assaulters, they are no good for Dubai and you know that as well as I do.”

The female intelligence operative sighed. Deckard again wondered what her story was.

“I have several other identity packages for Deckard that Sarah sent us from DC. That is good enough to get both of you to Germany. I will make a call tonight and have her overnight a new package for the two of you with the same surname to pick up once you arrive in Berlin. Your cover will be husband and wife. Its only for twenty four hours and should hold up fine.”

“What do you need me to do?” Deckard asked.

“Watch my ass,” Nadeesha explained.

Deckard’s eyebrows shot up.

“Oh?”

Nadeesha simply turned and stormed out of the house. She was pissed at being forced to drag Deckard into an operation that she was going to run as a singleton.

“I just want a overwatch element in case she gets into trouble,” Bill said. “On our last mission before we picked you up in Afghanistan we got some unexpected resistance. That is how we lost Henderson. Whoever they were, they were good. I’m just sending you as a precaution. She should be able to handle the operational aspects of the mission on her own. You are just there to get her out of trouble if shit really hits the fan.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Finish your drink and then get to bed. Meet Nadeesha here at seven in the morning and I’ll have flight confirmations for you to Germany and than on to Dubai.”

“See you then.”

Finishing his drink and bullshitting with Zach for a few more minutes, he realized that he would have no opportunity to break away and get a message out to Pat and Aghassi, not without breaking his cover and sneaking out in the middle of the night. It was doable but if he got caught then his infiltration would be compromised, he’d be killed or on the run and be no closer to understanding who the powerbrokers behind Liquid Sky were.

Shit.

He was heading back into the fray.

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DIRECT ACTION: Chapter Six

SEAL_Samruk_130304

Chapter Six:

The entire Liquid Sky element was passed out as they flew commercial air to Germany and then on to Italy. They had changed out of their mission clothes and into civilians provided by the staff at FOB Chapman. The team was still bleary eyed as they boarded a private aircraft in Milan to their final destination. Deckard tried to discern where they were going but found no indication and no one was telling him. Rick, Zach, and Paul bought some hard liquor in the duty free shop before taking off, pounded a couple shooters of Vodka or Whiskey and passed right back out. The others just gave Deckard the cold shoulder. Ramon read a magazine for a few minutes before falling back asleep. Nadeesha looked at Deckard like he was lower than dog shit before she drifted off to sleep.

Tough crowd, Deckard thought to himself. Before long, he fell asleep as well. They were all exhausted from the operation and Deckard was especially jet lagged from bouncing between time zones.

He came awake to the sound of laughing and screaming. After their cat nap, the Liquid Sky team had taken to watching an in flight movie in their Gulfstream aircraft. It looked like the comedy movie Superbad was keeping them entertained. Zach and Rick were giggling like school girls. Paul recited the movie line for line in a never ending stream of commentary. Nadeesha kept to herself, flipping through a copy of Flashbang magazine.

Uninterested in the movie, Deckard wished he had a book to read but he had always been someone who was comfortable with his own thoughts, if restless in his actions. Sitting around with nothing to do over long periods of time made him uncomfortable but he knew how to manage it. There was an on board refrigerator so he helped himself to a bottle of water.

Deckard watched out the window as they landed several hours later. The terrain was fairly flat with low laying vegetation and black top roads crisscrossing throughout. Disoriented, Deckard had no idea where they were. They landed at a substantial modern airport with a large terminal complex. The private jet taxied off towards the private hangers where a white van was waiting for them. Everyone piled in. If this was another operation, it didn’t feel like it.

They exited from the private aircraft area’s gate and out into the country side. The road was surrounded on both sides by green rolling hills, sugar cane coming right up to the edge of the pavement and pressing out into the street. Palm trees also dotted the landscape. As they drove through the outskirts of a city Deckard spotted a Hindu temple and knew he must be somewhere in India. Then he saw a Christian church and finally a Muslim mosque.

Where the hell were they?

Further inland were green covered mountains stretching up to touch the blue sky. Deep into the stalks of sugarcane he also saw a few abandoned factories and other structures. It wasn’t until he saw a billboard in French of a cellphone service that he figured it out. They were in Mauritius, an island in the Indian ocean.

The van let swerved through an intersection and passed the entrance to several four star hotels. They got dropped off right along side the ocean. Waves broke against the shore and the sun was already sinking into a blue and purple sky. The smell of salt carried on the breeze. It was a residential area with bungalows lining the beach.

“Party is at my place tonight,” Bill announced. “See you then.”

The team bombshelled in both directions down the street.

“You come with me Deckard,” Bill said to the new guy on the team. “I have to give you the key to Henderson’s old place.”

Bill led him on a stone path to his beach house. The Liquid Sky team leader was so tall that he had to duck under the roof on the back deck. Deckard spotted a security guard roaming the premises. Punching a number into the keypad on the door, Bill led him inside. Like the other bungalows, it was a one story deal, but spread out with plenty of interior space. The kitchen and living room was wide open. He had pool tables and an indoor bar. Through the sliding glass doors, Deckard could see an extensive gym out on the front deck which was littered with kettlebells and 45 pound bumper plates.

Opening a draw under the kitchen counter, Bill shuffled through some odds and ends until he found a key ring and handed it to Deckard.

“You are two houses down, between Rick and Zach. We own this whole row of eight houses on the shore. Whatever Henderson had stowed away inside the house is yours I guess. No one back in the States gave a shit about him. Keep it or throw it in the trash, I don’t care. He traveled light anyway so it won’t be much.”

“Alright.”

“Our rules here are pretty basic. We work hard, we play hard. Mandatory team party tonight just like after every op we do. PT is on your own but we usually work out together. When our optempo slows down you can catch a plane to wherever you want until I recall you but I’m not sure when that will be. Shit has been picking up the last month with no sign of slowing down.”

“It’s a dangerous world.”

“And they need us to stop it from all coming apart at the seams. We’ll work on getting you set up with a bank account here on the island later on so you can get direct deposits. Mauritius is a tax haven and we got a good set up here.”

“I like the sound of that.”

“Go do what you have to do and I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“Will do.”

As Deckard turned away, Bill had one final item to add.

“Deckard, remember that you are still on probationary status until I decide if I have any use for you or not. There are some pipe hitters out there that just don’t have what it takes to be on a team like this. We’ll see if you got it or not. In the meantime, we practice strict OPSEC. Say what you need to say inside our team areas. I have this place under 24 hour guard and our houses are routinely swept for bugs. Ramon will hook you up with a secure cell phone tomorrow. Aside from that, nothing gets said outside these walls. Do nothing that will draw excess attention to our operation here.”

“Goes without saying.”

“I hope so.”

Deckard shut the screen door behind him on his way out and walked over to his new crash pad. As he continued to scope out the area, he had to admit to himself that he could have done much worse. In fact, he had done much worse. Sleeping in run down safehouses in Lebanon, crapping in plastic bags in a spider hole on the Iranian border, or sleeping in a jungle hammock in Colombia had almost became a way of life for him. This sea side secret agent stuff was a whole new world. There were some things that these former SEALs were definitely getting right.

Turning the key in the knob, Deckard stepped inside his bungalow. It wasn’t as big as Bill’s place but there was more than enough living space for several people inside. It was furnished with chairs, couches, a flat screen tv, and everything else you would want at a beach house. There was a full bathroom and another shower stall outside with a hose for washing the sand off before coming back inside after a swim.

Henderson.

The Liquid Sky member that Nikita had killed in Pakistan.

The operator who’s corpse Deckard had picked over in the back of a van looking for intelligence information. Now he was in the dude’s house, literally filling his shoes on the team. The other team members seemed resentful of Deckard, not because they took exception to him replacing their former team mate. They actually seemed completely ambivalent about Henderson’s death. Liquid Sky was just pissed that they had to break in a new guy and didn’t trust him any farther than they could throw him.

It was a still a surreal moment.

Deckard found Henderson’s ipod on the counter, where it had been laying with the headphones attached since he left on a one way flight to Karachi. It was loaded with heavy metal music like Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, and Mega-Death. They were all sterile missions apparently. He had left everything behind. He continued to walk around and examine the layout of the house, conscience of the fact that Liquid Sky probably had hidden cameras installed so they could keep tabs on their newest recruit.

In the bathroom, Henderson’s toothbrush leaned diagonally in a glass. The toothpaste tube was squeezed in the middle, the inconsiderate bastard. At least the cabinet was stocked with toilet paper. In the bed room there were some dress shirts. Deckard was still wearing the Walmart clothes that Liquid Sky had waiting for them on their way back through FOB Chapman. He found a shirt which was probably small on Henderson to show off his beach muscles but would fit Deckard normally.

Going through the dresser to find a pair of cargo shorts, Deckard found a envelop full of pictures. Inside was a whole roll of photographs of Henderson with a blonde. It looked like they were on the shore, maybe Virginia beach. They were self shot pictures, close ups of the two of them kissing and smiling.

Who the hell was this guy?

Henderson, Bill, all these other guys aside from Ramon and obviously Nadeesha had served in the SEALs as far as Deckard could discern. They were the Navy’s most elite commandos. How had they drifted so far? Throwing the pair of shorts on the bed, Deckard shut the dresser draw.

Then the more important question.

Who were they working for?

He knew from the records that he and his Samruk International mercenaries had seized that they were in business with G3 Communications somehow but the full picture remained obscured. It would take time to uncover. Time he didn’t have.

Undressing, Deckard stepped into the shower and began to scrub away days of sweat and grim. He didn’t have a lot of time because as he infiltrated Liquid Sky, they were also co-opting him and using his talent for their own agenda, to cure their own contracts, one by one. Sure, they would take him on a couple righteous kills. Do some terrorists or narco-traffickers. Once they warm him up, then they take him out on the real work, killing people like Al-Khalifa, and those who got in their way, like Al-Khalifa’s wife.

Toweling himself dry, he slipped into the cargo shorts and began buttoning the blue and white stripped shirt over his chest. Deckard caught a glance of himself in the mirror. His eyes were open, even more focused than usual. Hyper vigilant. He put on a pair of Henderson’s sandals. He was slowly transforming himself into one of them.

<Deckard's priorities of work were simple. Get away from Liquid Sky and beat their surveillance long enough to get a message out to Aghassi and Pat. Let them know he was alive, where he was located, and what he knew about Liquid Sky thus far so that they could begin working on the problem sets. It was unlikely that he would be able to take out Liquid Sky by himself, he would need some backup when the time came.
Next, before walking Samruk International into the target, he had to get to the bottom of who Bill was taking his marching orders from. Where were the contracts coming from exactly? Who were the puppetmasters behind the scenes? Only when that question was answered could they cut this head off of the hydra and move on to the CEO of G3 Communications and whoever else Liquid Sky was in league with.

As he headed out the door to attend Bill’s post-mission beach party, he found he had another reason to be glad that he insisted on doing this mission himself and not sending Pat, Aghassi, or one of the others. He was heading down a dark road. He was wearing a dead man’s clothes and working for a kill team.

Some people might find that they liked this life. Some might not want to come home.

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Filed under Action Adventure, Military Fiction