War to the Knife Chapter 2

War to the Knife Chapter 2

The Rocking K Diner was quiet, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Most people in that neck of the woods had to work. John Brannigan had plenty of chores to do around his cabin up the mountain, but his situation was a little different. And the message he’d gotten from Mark Van Zandt had been more than a little intriguing. Brannigan threaded his way between the tables toward the back, trading a friendly wave with Ginger, Mama Taft’s granddaughter and permanent waitress, who would probably inherit the diner whenever Mama passed away. Granted, Mama Taft was hard as nails, and probably wouldn’t die until Death himself came and dragged her away, cussing and punching him in the face. It would be a long time before Ginger inherited, but the cheerful, bouncy young redhead was fine with that. Van Zandt was sitting in the corner booth, all the way in the back, nursing a cup of coffee. He’d dressed down a bit since the first time he’d come to the Rocking K, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. The first time, he’d been in slacks and a corporate polo shirt. Brannigan and Van Zandt had a

War to the Knife Chapter 1

War to the Knife Chapter 1

There was no warning. Miguel Jurado was a heavy sleeper, especially when he’d eaten well and had downed about half a bottle of aguardiente. So, he didn’t hear the door open, despite the noise outside. He was dead to the world until he found himself shaken roughly. “Mayor Jurado! Mayor Jurado, you need to wake up, Señor!” He cracked one eye, his head already starting to pound. He couldn’t handle the aguardiente as well as he had when he was younger. It took a moment to register that it was Sebastian Casas, his chief of security, who was shaking him. That can’t be good. He sat up in bed with a groan, squinting against the light that spilled through the open door. He wasn’t really fat, not yet, but his body was going soft as he got older and balder, and for some reason, that meant that he always hurt when he got up, despite the alcohol. Maria, his third wife, twenty years his junior, didn’t have that problem. She was sitting up in bed, covering herself with the sheet, staring at Casas with large, dark, frightened eyes. “What is it?” Jurado peered blearily at the clock beside the massive

The Guns of “War to the Knife”

The Guns of “War to the Knife”

One of the fun aspects to writing the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series is the gun porn. It’s always been a staple of the Action/Adventure genre. I do try for a bit more authenticity than some of the older works in the genre (which will remain nameless), while at the same time avoiding the multi-page descriptions, so as not to bog down the story. Featuring a wide variety of weaponry is still cool, though, which is why I’ve been running this series of posts since the series started. Most of the time, the Blackhearts use a common service weapon in the Area of Operations where they’re working. War to the Knife is no different. Their local contact gets them IWI Galil SARs, which have been an issue service rifle in the National Army of Colombia. There are also a couple of the 5.56 version of the IWI Negev light machinegun. And Flanagan gets a chance to use a Galatz sniper rifle. The Green Shirts, the narco-communists who have taken over San Tabal, carry a mix of weapons based on many carried by the FARC. That means a mix of mostly M16s and AK-47s for rifles (mostly either captured from the Colombians or trafficked in by

Thunder Run Chapter 3

Thunder Run Chapter 3

A week and a half later, I walked into our TOC in Fort Grodzisko. The bunker hadn’t gotten much warmer since the winter, though it had gotten brighter, as more work lights were brought in. We still did some planning and intel collection on computers, but given how fast and how nasty the cyber war had gotten—not to mention how often power grids were being targeted, on both sides of the Atlantic—we used paper maps, whiteboards, and as much analog stuff as we could. And those needed light. Brian Hartrick was waiting in the “Grex Luporum Corner,” along with Shane Tucker and Bobby Burkhart, the other two Grex Luporum team leaders in country. There weren’t a lot of us, and we were in high demand in the States—and there were whispers about new ops in the Western Pacific, though those were extremely hush-hush at the moment—so Shane, Bobby, and I were it for the moment. We were also all understrength. We’d taken losses over the last few months since all this started. None of our ten-man teams were sitting at more than eight bodies. “You made it.” Hartrick’s sardonic tone always sounded like he wasn’t sure if what he was

Thunder Run Chapter 2

Thunder Run Chapter 2

The Territorial Defense troops were piling out of the Star 266 trucks where they’d pulled over on the side of the road, and the first couple of squads had already started to spread out into the woods as Chris and I rejoined Scott and the rest of the team. Scott and Arkadiusz had already deconflicted and linked up with the Poles. The two of them were standing near the lead truck, talking to Jaskolski while Reuben guided the Light Infantry point elements into the woods. It would not be a good thing if they stumbled on us in the dark and the wrong people got shot. I glanced over the men and women spreading out into the trees. They were better equipped than the raid force had been, but that wasn’t saying a lot. Load bearing vests worn over bulky, early 2000s era body armor turned even the fittest soldier into a lumbering pear shape, and not all these boys and girls were lean and mean studs to begin with. They at least had night vision, monoculars mounted on old MICH helmets. The Territorial Defense Brigades had gotten a lot of the Wojska Lądowe’s old FB Beryl 5.56 AKs, as

Thunder Run Chapter 1

Thunder Run Chapter 1

Chris was on point, about five yards ahead of me, when he suddenly froze and put up a clenched fist. I followed suit instantly. When you’re in hostile territory, you pay attention to what your point man does. While every man in a small team has to be alert at all times, the point man is the team’s eyes and ears. And while we were still on the Polish side of the line, I definitely considered where we were “hostile territory.” Staying in place, I scanned the woods around us carefully. We’d switched night vision in the last month, having gotten a new supply shipment in when the convoys carrying the Army in had arrived. I wasn’t entirely sure about losing the thermal capability, but the clarity and the depth perception the PS-31s provided were a lot better. Unfortunately, even with the better NVGs, I couldn’t see what had prompted Chris to halt. The woods were dark, despite the faint lights from Mamonovo about two and a half miles to the north. We’d picked a new moon on purpose. The PS-31s turned the darkness into pale grays, but they couldn’t show me what I didn’t have a line of sight

Thunder Run Prologue

Thunder Run Prologue

Calls for Terrorism Hearings Concerning Texas Representative Amelia Anderson-Pugnoli has openly called for hearings in Congress regarding the recent clashes in West Texas which saw the Texas National Guard seize control of the West Texas oilfields. She and the nearly one hundred twenty Representatives who back her have said that the actions of Texas Governor Hollis, the Texas National Guard, and the right-wing organization that calls itself “The Triarii” amounted to insurrection and international terrorism. “This kind of violence amounts to nothing less than a betrayal of everything America stands for! Texas is not a sovereign country, and even if it were, the attacks on international companies and Mexican nationals are crimes against humanity, and must be punished.” Governor Hollis has issued no statement at this time. Violence Continues on West Coast   Seattle is in flames again tonight, this time in reaction to the alleged killing of a local community activist near Capitol Hill. While the Capitol Hill area has been an epicenter for unrest since 2020, the latest spate of violence appears to be between several local activist groups. As this article goes live, it is still unclear what prompted the latest dispute, but it may have been

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 4

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 4

“How’d you even find out about this?” Santelli eyed the small studio from across the street warily. “The dumbass tried to recruit me.” There was wry contempt in Mario Gomez’s voice. Which was more than Gomez usually expressed; he was a quiet man, and rarely spoke, much less showed much emotion. “I guess he thought the quiet guy would make a good wingman, or something.” Santelli shook his head, frustrated. Even so, this was more the kind of problem he was used to as a Senior NCO. This was the sort of thing he’d wrestled with for years as a First Sergeant, and later as a Sergeant Major. “Well, let’s go corral our wayward prodigal.” He wasn’t sure if he was using that combination of words right, but it sounded right. Santelli knew he wasn’t the most eloquent or well-read of the Blackhearts, but like most men of his background, he tried. At least he had never flubbed things to the level of one First Sergeant he’d known, back when he’d been a Corporal himself, who had tended to say, “It would be the who of you,” when he’d meant to say, “It would behoove you.” Of course, if he’d

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 3

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 3

Carlo Santelli straightened up, wiping his hands on a rag, and eyed his handiwork with some satisfaction. It had taken a lot to get this particular specimen finished. Finding parts for a ’67 Fury III had proved to be more difficult than he’d expected, but it had been worth it, especially since he already had a buyer for this particular car. And the man was eager enough for it that the price tag was going to more than pay for the parts, never mind the paint job. He nodded with a sigh. This little side business had been working out better than he’d ever expected. He’d needed to do something. It had been months since the Argentina mission, and while he and Melissa weren’t exactly hurting for money yet, he’d needed to keep his hands and his mind occupied. And not just because he missed the action. If he was being honest, he wasn’t sure how much he really did miss the action, right then. He missed Roger Hancock more. Roger had been short-tempered and volatile, but he’d been one hell of a professional soldier. He’d been one of the pillars of Brannigan’s Blackhearts. And only after his death did

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 2

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 2

“Dad, we need to talk.” John Brannigan looked up from his coffee cup and stared levelly at his son across the table. He wasn’t particularly surprised or perturbed by the words; he’d known they were coming for a while. Hank Brannigan had been out of the Marine Corps for about two months. He’d spent most of it up here, at his father’s cabin, helping out where he could. He’d chopped wood, taken his turn at the cooking, and helped with several projects that Brannigan hadn’t been able to get to, mostly on account of their needing a second pair of hands. Brannigan had welcomed his son and asked few questions. He knew what it was like, taking his first steps into the civilian world after the Marine Corps, and also knew that Hank hadn’t parted with the military on necessarily the best of terms. The younger man, lean and rangy, didn’t look much like the Marine officer he’d been only a few months before. He’d let his hair and his beard both grow, though the latter was considerably scruffier. The elder Brannigan could easily have grown a bristling spade of a beard, but Hank had gotten his hair from his