Hopefully everybody had a good Christmas. I posted earlier that I was working on facelifting the American Praetorians series. That project is now complete, with new front and back matter, some edits, new covers for Task Force Desperate and Hunting in the Shadows, and standardized formatting through all paperbacks. In honor of it, and for those of you who might be new, for a limited time, here’s a chapter from the final book, Lex Talionis. Bullets and blood aplenty for the holidays. (I’m working on possibly coming out with a couple of boxed sets for the series in the next couple of months. Possibly with some previously-untold short stories.)
They hadn’t gone far when Lewis was tugging on Brannigan’s sleeve. “Sir, we just got a message from Team Two,” he yelled in the Colonel’s ear. “They are mission complete, but are pinned down under fire, and cut off from the beach.” Brannigan glanced forward, where the wounded Lance Corporal Clark was lying on the deck. Time was short, but he had a responsibility to those boys down on the ground, too. He started working his way forward, stepping over and past knees, boots, M27s, and two LSATs, carefully moving around Clark’s supine form, until he got to the cockpit. “We need to divert to Shilka Position Two,” he shouted to the pilot. “Some of my boys are in trouble, and need some support.” “This ain’t a gunship, sir, and we’ve got a casualty aboard,” the copilot protested. “Don’t try to bullshit me, son,” Brannigan replied. “We’ve got a minigun and a 240 mounted for a reason, and it’s more than that team on the ground has. Take us in.” He stayed where he was, but motioned for Lewis to hand him the handset, cursing the multiple tac frequencies that went along with combined arms warfare. The recon teams were
“Sir? We just got a message from Team One. ‘Macallan.’” Corporal Jamie Lewis stopped and listened. It had to be rough, trying to hear the radio over the noise of the Osprey’s idling props. “Wait,” he said. “There’s Team Three. ‘Buffalo Trace.’” Brannigan resisted the urge to grin. Leave it to Marines to make all of their brevity codes the names of either alcohol, sports teams, or porn stars. “Any word from Team Two?” “No, sir,” Lewis replied, the handset pressed against his ear. “Still nothing.” Brannigan nodded, and thought for a moment. Staff Sergeant Holmes would do the job if he could. But the enemy was also undoubtedly alerted now, with two of the Shilkas having gone up in smoke. “Screw it,” he decided. He reached forward, tapped the pilot on the shoulder, and gave him a thumbs-up. Then he keyed his own radio, which was on the Battalion Tac channel. “All Kodiak units, this is Kodiak Six,” he called. “Crazy Horse. I say again, Crazy Horse.” The odds of anyone listening in on a SINCGARS channel, out in the middle of the Red Sea, were minimal, but Brannigan hadn’t gotten to where he was by being sloppy. He’d
Staff Sergeant Elias Martinez had just checked the quick release affixed to the bow of the partially-deflated Zodiac for the third time when something made him look up. There was a towering figure standing at the base of the CH-53’s ramp. Martinez instinctively straightened, then yelled for the rest of his team. There might be plenty of big Marines aboard the USS Boxer, but there was no mistaking the silhouette of the MEU Commander. Colonel John Brannigan cut an altogether different figure. There was something about the way he carried himself that set him apart and made him immediately recognizable. What was surprising was the fact that the Colonel, with the squat form of Sergeant Major Santelli beside him, was in full kit. Helmet, NVGs, plate carrier, mags, radio, blowout kit, rifle, the works. He looked like he was ready to climb right on the bird and insert alongside Martinez’ Force Recon Team. Which was unheard of, and something that Martinez suddenly found he more than vaguely dreaded. No team leader wants an officer looking over his shoulder on an op, let alone the Colonel. “Bring it in a minute, gents!” Brannigan boomed, managing to make himself heard over the
Starting tomorrow, I will be serializing the prelude story to Brannigan’s Bastards here on the blog. Brannigan’s Bastards #0 – The Colonel Has A Plan will be released in three parts over the next three weeks, then put on its own page, accessible from the home page. Stay tuned.