“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
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
“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
Night was falling fast over the rugged hills as Shamil Mashadov took a knee under the short, scrubby pine and looked back at his little strike force. The fifty men were strung along the side of the mountain behind him, following the narrow goat path in single file. They blended in well, especially as the light failed. Much of that was thanks to the brand-new camouflage that the Emir had gotten them; the pixelated tan and green was every bit as effective as the American OCP, particularly amid the scrub and short trees of Paktika Province. Most of the men behind him, except for Dilawar Safi, his Pashtun guide, were fellow Chechens, warriors of the Aswad al Islam. They were a long way from home, but what they would do tonight would be worth it. Turning back toward their objective, he lowered the night vision goggles mounted to his helmet and scanned the valley below. The Americans had said that they would be gone from this part of Afghanistan months before, but, infuriatingly, they still had yet to withdraw. Tonight, Mashadov and his brothers would teach the infidels that they should have fled long ago. He lifted the encrypted Russian
The fact that the Triarii trucks were running blacked out probably saved their lives. Most of the stream of fire went high, bullets cracking over Bishop’s head, though a few smacked into the hood, front fender, and frame with earsplitting bangs. Two rounds punched through the windshield, spiderwebbing the glass. A hammer blow hit Reisinger in the helmet. He almost lost control of the vehicle as his head was smacked partway around, throwing his NVGs off. “Fuck!” The bellow was the only way Hank knew that his driver was still alive. He’d heard the impact and seen Reisinger’s head jerk under the blow, but unless they dealt with that belt-fed, they were all dead. Bishop hadn’t waited, but immediately opened fire. The Mk 48 roared for a second, before Reisinger jerked the wheel as he got hit, throwing Bishop’s aim off. Shell casings rattled off the truck’s roof as it swerved hard to the right. Hank reached out to grab the wheel, more afraid of a rollover than getting shot. But Reisinger was still holding onto the wheel, and rapidly getting control again, though he was still swerving toward the right-hand shoulder. He was clearly not happy. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,
It was starting to get chilly as the last of the sunset faded away. Hank Foss didn’t shiver as he walked down toward Overwatch Three, but he could feel the desert chill sinking into his bones. The nearness to the river only accentuated it. It wasn’t near freezing yet, but mid-forties in the desert at night can still sap body heat quickly. Getting old. He had to admit that he wasn’t quite as robust as a retired Gunny as he’d been as a hard-charging Lance Corporal. The cold bit a little more, his knees ached a lot more, and it took more effort to get up, whether in the morning or the middle of the night. But I ain’t dead yet. And there’s still work to be done. The gravel crunched underfoot as he and Huntsman walked down Paul Estevez’s driveway. The Rio Grande river valley was deathly quiet in the winter evening, making the sound of their footsteps strangely loud. Even the wind was barely a whisper. A coyote yipped and howled in the distance, but there was no telling how far away it was in the otherwise unbroken desert silence. The lights were off. Texas had fared somewhat
To: [email protected] From: [email protected] Subject: Current Situation Brief Sir, As requested, I’m including an overview of the last month’s significant events. As you are well aware, the Stateside situation is still volatile, and while we have troops in contact overseas, the information we are getting from Poland is necessarily sparse. As we continue to build our own radio mesh network, that should change, but the Transatlantic gap will still throttle information, simply due to the nature of long-range HF comms. So, the bulk of this report will focus on the CONUS situation. Both coasts and many of the major Midwestern and Southwestern metro areas continue to present significant operational and logistical challenges. While we have eliminated several of the IED cells that had all but brought long-range transport to a halt in many states, we still assess the threat on many major interstates as high. Another truck bomb was detonated on I-5 just south of Tacoma two days ago as of this writing, killing at least fifty people, wounding close to a hundred more, and destroying three semis loaded with food and medical supplies. The IED cells, however, while a significant threat, are not the only factor.
We were only about half a block away from Saint Augustine’s Church when the explosion shattered the morning calm. I saw the ugly black cloud of dust, smoke, and debris billow out from around the corner a fraction of a second before the ground shook with the tooth-rattling boom. Scott and I dove between a van and a box truck, getting into the questionable cover of a crooked brick wall that bordered the narrow lawn on the side of the street. I glanced up at the clear, cold, blue sky, scanning between the barren branches above for fast movers. My hand had instinctively moved for the pistol under my jacket, even though there wasn’t a blessed thing I could do with it if the EDC was bombing Wroclaw. The sky was clear, though, and no more explosions followed that first big one. Instead, gunfire rattled down the street near the church, and yells and screams split the morning air as the smoke rose higher in the sky. Scott and I looked at each other for a second before we both drew our weapons. I pulled the radio out of my back pocket. “Chatty, Deacon,” I called. “Contact at St. Augustine’s.
Yes, it’s getting close. With SPOTREPS coming out in days, Strategic Assets is not far behind. Violent Divisions Grow Sharper Across the US In the aftermath of the mass blackouts and terrorist attacks that all but paralyzed the United States in the early fall, a divide that has lain beneath the surface for years has become all the more bitter and pronounced. States have locked down their points of entry, some using the National Guard, some using a combination of law enforcement, National Guard, and private military companies. Many cities have become sharply divided by area, some neighborhoods becoming veritable fortresses controlled by local groups, which now go openly armed. The right-wing organization calling itself The Triarii has taken control of several Midwestern and Western cities, as well as major supply chains. In the meantime, considerable portions of the Northeast and West Coast appear to be all but completely under the de facto control of the left-wing People’s Revolutionary Action. PRA spokesperson Shirley Wang stated yesterday, “The fascists and racists who have exploited this tragedy are on the move. We have no choice but to act decisively, to stop them by any means necessary. The racist, xenophobic defenders of a corrupt
He went in fast, going over the corpse in the doorway and stepping right. There wasn’t a good place to move in the entryway; it formed a short hallway that opened up on the kitchen in the open central room, with a double door immediately to the left, that was currently closed. The closed door wasn’t the immediate threat, though. The two men and a woman in the kitchen, the woman coming out of the bedroom beyond with what looked like a semi-auto shotgun, were. He stroked the trigger as he moved, driving forward and slowing just enough that he wouldn’t quite clear the short wall to his right before he dealt with the three threats in front of him. His first shot took the tall, bald, heavily muscled man, covered in tattoos, high in the chest. Red blossomed on the man’s white wife-beater and sprayed from his back, spattering the woman with the bobbed hair and red shirt in the face. She blinked as the man crashed onto his back in front of her, then Huntsman put a bullet through her skull, the thunderclap of the report physically painful in the enclosed space. Hank could already feel his ears