It’s release day for Concrete Jungle, and we’ve got a special guest on the American Praetorians stream tonight. Alex Aaronson is James Rosone’s co-author on the Monroe Doctrine series, and just came out with the first of his alt-history series “Soviet Endgame” this month. We’ll be talking Blackhearts, Alex’s take on an alternate late Cold War, and whatever else comes up on the stream tonight. As always, we’ll be live on YouTube and Facebook, with the recording going up on Rumble tomorrow. (If the Rumble account gets to 100 subscribers, we can stream there, too, making this operation more independent of the Big Tech mafia.)
No Favor Comes Without Cost… …But Sometimes the Payback is Worth It When a power play threatens the life of a queen of the global underworld, she has quite a few options. There’s only one she really trusts, however. She calls on Brannigan’s Blackhearts. It won’t be the first time the mercenaries have operated in a city. This is going to be one of the hairiest such clandestine ops yet, though. Because it’s not just Erika Dalca’s mafia rivals who are gunning for her. There are bigger players involved, and things will get deadly very quickly. Will any of them make it out of the concrete jungle? You’ll love this fast-paced action thriller, because the twists and turns come as fast as the bullets! Get it today. *** So, the seed of this story has been kicking around since about 2016-2017. Originally it was going to feature The Broker from the American Praetorians series. Then I wrapped that series up, but the idea was still there. It seemed like a good fit for Brannigan’s Blackhearts. I should also note that while Amazon still has not pulled Marque and Reprisal from Ingram, Concrete Jungle is out in paperback on Amazon, just like it’s
Tomas Fiero was nervous. Short, built like a fireplug, and with cauliflower ears and a nose that had been mashed flat more than once, Fiero didn’t seem like the kind of guy who should get nervous. Especially not when he had an HK VP9, three knives, and a garrote under his suit jacket. He was the kind of man who made other people nervous. Something about this setup bothered him, though, in a way that he hadn’t experienced since he’d been a simple street enforcer, almost twenty years before. The meeting place was the first part he didn’t like. He turned in his seat to address the stunning blond woman in the back seat. “Signora, this is a bad place. After everything that has happened between us and Garin over the last two weeks, we should be meeting in a public place, with lots of eyes around.” Erika Dalca, CEO of Ciela International and also the queen bee of one of the biggest and most secretive underworld networks on the face of the planet, was a woman of somewhere between thirty and fifty years of age. Her skin was flawless, her slightly angular face as perfectly symmetrical and lovely as
Brannigan’s Blackhearts doesn’t have an official patch. They don’t have an official anything. But after the Burma mission, some of them worked up a logo, anyway. *** The Blackhearts group was easy to pick out. They were, by and large, more fit than anyone else in the room, and at that moment, also considerably louder. Aziz, Jenkins, and Wade were arguing over a war story, specifically who had been where at what time. Childress immediately identified the place as the village in northern Burma where Doc Villareal had been killed, and they had gone into a system of tunnels after the North Korean advisors to the Kokang Communists/drug runners. It sounded like they were avoiding actually getting specific about the place, but this was bad enough. Santelli stalked toward the table, murder in his eyes. Jenkins looked up as he and Childress approached. The former SEAL looked a little glazed; he’d clearly had a few already. “Hey, Childress, check it out!” he said, pulling his sleeve back. He’d gotten a new tattoo, still under a wrap of clear cellophane. It was a black heart, with a fighting knife through it and crossed rifles behind it. “We’ve got a logo, dude!” Santelli was
While Concrete Jungle is, in a way, much more of a covert operation than many of the Blackhearts’ past missions, there’s still a pretty wide variety of guns in use. Concrete Jungle goes down in the Czech Republic (or Czechia), and so there are a few more options available than in some other places. Erika Dalca, as the CEO of Ciela International, can afford some pretty high-end security. Her detail in the beginning are all armed with HK VP-9s in 9mm. Those are the weapons on their persons, of course. In the vehicles, they all have short-barreled HK 416s, the piston-driven Heckler & Koch version of the M4. Since Dalca and her security have thought ahead, they have overwatch, one member of whom is armed with a GM6 Lynx .50 caliber, bullpup anti-materiel rifle. When the Blackhearts first get on the ground, the first weapons they get their hands on are FN FNX-9s. A few more of Dalca’s security are also equipped with B&T MP-9s for more discreet work. Of course, as it becomes more evident that they’re not just up against well-armed Russian mobsters, they need a bit more firepower. That’s where the CZ 805 Bren A2s come in, Czech-designed and
Steve Diamond is an old friend, met through our mutual friend Larry Correia. He’s a great storyteller, an aficionado of horror, and co-hosts the Writer Dojo podcast with Larry. This month, he joins us to talk about spooky stories. Because it’s October, so it just makes sense. Furthermore, The Alchemy of Treason came out this month, and it’s got some really spooky stuff in it (to the point that one reader told me he had to put the book down so he could finish his lunch). I got my start as a storyteller around campfires in the woods, giving Boy Scouts nightmares. It’s a tradition I like to continue from time to time, whether it’s in the Jed Horn series, The Lost, or some other upcoming series. So, come join us, on either FB or YouTube. (I have a Rumble account now, and the recording will be uploaded on Wednesday. I can’t stream there yet, because Rumble requires 100 subscribers before it’ll allow livestreaming.)
I’ll be live on the Galaxy’s Edge channels tonight at 1800 PST/2100EST to talk about Wargate Books, The Lost in general, and The Alchemy of Treason somewhat more specifically (without undue spoilers). We’ll also have Jeremiah Humphries, the cover artist for Swords Against the Night, The Alchemy of Treason, and the upcoming The Rock of Battle on tonight as well. Come on by and join the peanut gallery.
The World of The Lost gets a little darker, in The Alchemy of Treason. *** I got as low as I could and continued my inch-by-inch skull drag, moving into a slightly lower fold in the ground, shielded from the sentry by several stands of nearly two-foot-tall grass. I still had to move very slowly—even more slowly than I already had been for the last two hours. I was a good twenty yards away from him, but that was plenty close enough to get spotted or heard if I wasn’t careful, even in the deepening dark. I might have heard something off to my right. Maybe a grunt, suddenly cut off. Santos was supposed to be over there. Maybe he’d moved faster than I had. The last of the faint remaining glow in the west had faded and the stars were glittering in the black sky overhead when I finally rose to a low crouch. Firelight glinted faintly off the dark, satin steel of the Bowie in my fist as I quickly scanned my surroundings before padding as silently as I could toward the sentry, his back now to me. The fire still flickered, though most of the Avurs were now proned
No special guest this month, and not really much of a set agenda, which is why I’m calling it the September Peanut Gallery. We might talk war, worldbuilding, writing, or just go off on tangents brought on by audience questions. Bring what ya got.
King Wu inquired of the T’ai Kung: “I want to attain our aim [of overthrowing the Shang], but I have three doubts. I am afraid that our strength will be inadequate to attack the strong, to estrange his close supporters within the court, and disperse his people. What shall I do?” The T’ai Kung replied: “Accord with the situation, be very cautious in making plans, and employ your material resources. Now in order to attack the strong, you must nurture them to make them even stronger, and increase them to make them even more extensive. What is too strong will certainly break; what is too extensive must have deficiencies. Attack the strong through his strength. Cause the estrangement of his favored officials by using his favorites, and disperse his people by means of the people. “Now in the Tao of planning, thoroughness and secrecy are treasured. You should become involved with him in numerous affairs and ply him with temptations of profit. Conflict will then surely arise. “If you want to cause his close supporters to become estranged from him, you must do it by using what they love–making gifts to those he favors, giving them what they want. Tempt