“Enemy Unidentified” Chapter 3

“Colonel Brannigan, I presume?”  Contralmirante Huerta stood up and extended his hand.  The Mexican officer was in mufti, a dark suit and shiny blue shirt. Brannigan shook the proffered hand.  He towered over the Mexican admiral, who was showing a bit of gray in his slickly-parted hair and mustache, though not nearly as much as Brannigan was. Brannigan had dressed up a little for the meeting; he was wearing khakis and a sport coat, in contrast to his usual “retired” outdoor wear.  He was still wearing boots, though, and the sport coat hid the Wilson Combat 1911 on his hip.  Even with Van Zandt and Gomez in the room, he didn’t trust this Mexican officer very far.  He knew too much about how much the bad guys had infiltrated the instruments of the Mexican government. Van Zandt was in a suit, and was standing back to one side, watching the two men meet.  Gomez had posted himself up at the door, watching everything impassively with his hard, black eyes. Gomez had become a Blackheart in the plus-up that Hancock and Santelli had conducted prior to the Burma job.  Nobody knew much about him.  He didn’t talk much.  In fact, getting

“Enemy Unidentified” Chapter 2

“No,” John Brannigan said.  “Not only no, but hell no.” “John,” Hector Chavez started to remonstrate with him, “we’re not talking about some half-assed Pemex contract, here.” The two men were facing each other across a table in the Rocking K, the best—and essentially only—diner in tiny Junction City.  It wasn’t the sort of place most people would immediately think of when it came to planning covert operations, but it was the closest meeting place to Brannigan’s mountain hideaway, and so Chavez had pegged it as their contact spot, more often than not. John Brannigan was a towering, six-foot-four former Marine Colonel, his hair gone shaggy and gray on his head and his face.  He shaved his cheeks and his chin, but his handlebar mustache was bushier than ever.  He might have had a few more crow’s feet around his gray eyes, especially after his recent turn to mercenary commander.  Activities like a hair-raising mission on the island of Khadarkh in the Persian Gulf, followed by a jump into northern Burma to take down a North Korean liaison operation in the Golden Triangle, were not calculated to keep a man young. Brannigan was dressed in his usual flannel shirt and

“Enemy Unidentified” Chapter 1

Brannigan’s Blackhearts #3 – Enemy Unidentified is up for Kindle pre-order, due out the 15th.  So, here’s the first preview chapter. Officer Lou Hall had been on the San Diego PD for about a year.  He’d just gotten off night shift, and frankly wasn’t sure whether the tradeoff had been worth it.  Sure, he got to see the sun a lot more, and with the sun, in San Diego in the summertime—the winter tended to be pretty gray and damp—usually came the California girls, dressed in as little clothing as they could get away with. But his partner, Fred Dobbs, was a surly, balding cynic, he wasn’t getting paid that much more, and most of those same attractive California girls turned up their noses as soon as they saw his badge.  He’d even gotten berated by one for, “just wanting to shoot minorities.”  He was half Mexican, himself, so he didn’t know where the hell that had come from. Then he looked on social media, and didn’t have any more questions. Dobbs was grumbling, as usual, and Hall had tuned him out after about the first five minutes, as usual.  It was always the same thing.  Dobbs was in the

Burmese Crossfire Chapter 3

Well, there’s less than a week until Burmese Crossfire comes out.  One last peek before it’s go time. Joe Flanagan was not a man given to many words or noticeable outbursts of emotion.  He was often best described as “laconic,” and he took some pride in that fact.  He was a quiet man, often a gray man, passing unnoticed through the crowd, and he liked it that way.  He and Brannigan were of similar temperaments in that respect, as both preferred the wilderness to the hustle and bustle of the city. Right at the moment, though, Flanagan’s eyes were smoldering, and his jaw was tight under his thick, black beard.  He was not a happy man. He checked his watch again.  He knew he was in the right place.  The Vegas apartment complex hadn’t been hard to find.  It had been a long drive to get there, and now Curtis was late.  He would have let the man make his own way, but he’d been hiking in Utah, so he’d been close enough to swing through Vegas and pick the other man up on the way up to Colonel Brannigan’s place in Idaho.  But they still had a long way

Burmese Crossfire Chapter 2

The paperback proof is here, the Kindle pre-order is up ($0.99 until Jan 20, when it goes up to $3.99), and here is Chapter 2 to whet more appetites. The unimaginatively-named “Road-House” lay just off the highway, about twenty miles from the nearest town.  It didn’t get a lot of traffic, except for the occasional motorist stopping in to grab something to eat, either at the gas station attached to the “Road-House” or at the restaurant and bar itself. John Brannigan nearly filled the doorway as he stepped inside.  Six-foot-four, broad-shouldered, he retained the leanness and power of a man much younger than his nearly fifty years.  His hair was going gray, as was the thick handlebar mustache he’d grown since he’d retired—not entirely willingly—from the Marine Corps, some years before.  Deep lines surrounded his icy eyes as he swept the interior of the restaurant with a practiced, professional gaze.  This was a man who had never stepped into a room without knowing the layout, who was in it, and how to get out. It wasn’t that he was paranoid.  It was simply a fact that twenty-three years as a Marine, both enlisted and commissioned, had hard-wired certain habits into

“Burmese Crossfire” Chapter 1

Roi Tri Somboon Sirpreecha was nervous. It had been a whole fifteen days since he had reported to his post as the youngest, least-experienced platoon commander in the Thanan Phran, the Thai Rangers.  It hadn’t been an easy fifteen days, either.  While the Royal Thai Army provided the Thanan Phran with its officer and NCO corps, many of the men had their own ideas about discipline and responsibility.  He’d long heard that many of the Rangers had been criminals, pardoned of their crimes for joining up, but he hadn’t realized just how shadowy the interior workings of the Thanan Phran could be until he’d caught one of his more experienced and respected Rangers brazenly stealing from one of the villagers when they’d passed through Ban Pha Hi on patrol. When he’d confronted the man, he’d found himself half-surrounded by suddenly surly Rangers, all with weapons close at hand.  He’d held his ground, backed up by Sip Ek Klahan Phonarthit, and the Rangers had slowly backed down.  The culprit, Kamun Amsir, had finally handed the stolen food back to the bent old woman, giving the Roi Tri a smile that promised that he would learn how the Thanan Phran worked, or

“Older and Fouler Things” Chapter 4

Edit 2 is finished, and the preorder for the Kindle version of Older and Fouler Things is up!  It will release on September 22.  In the meantime, here’s a look at Chapter 4. Oh, and there’s a cover, too. Paul didn’t show up to breakfast, even though it was pretty late in the morning, and the sounds and smells of frying bacon and eggs were permeating the entire house.  After the events of the previous night, that was a matter of some concern.  I was about to go check on him, but Eryn put a hand on my arm. “Let me get him,” she said quietly.  “If he’s as traumatized as I think he might be, a gentle voice will probably help him a little more.  No offense, hon, but you’re better at the ‘shooting monsters’ part, and I’m better at the ‘comforting victims afterward’ part.” I just nodded, and stepped back.  I was still hovering in the hallway, though, and I still had my .45 on my hip.  The combination of Magnus’ reaction to him, the eerie activity at the witching hour that morning, and his silence and absence at breakfast were not serving to make me particularly comfortable.

“Older and Fouler Things” Chapter 3

Chapter 3   It was a long drive back to Ray’s place, and we were tired.  Fighting a demonic manifestation in a Bed and Breakfast can really take it out of you.  We stopped several times to rest along the way.  Eryn and I could switch off driving, but Kolya and Father Ignacio didn’t have that luxury.  At least Father Ignacio could go a lot farther on a single tank of gas, riding that Harley of his. Paul wasn’t helping much; according to Kolya, he was spending most of the drive sleeping, when he wasn’t staring blankly out the window.  None of us necessarily blamed him; the first brush with the powers of the Abyss can be pretty traumatic.  He’d need time. It was well after dark by the time we pulled in.  Ray’s house, a long, one-story, hewn-log building that he’d built himself, was dark, at least at first.  As the gravel crunched under our wheels, a light flickered to life in the window.  Either Magnus had heard us coming and woken Ray up, or he’d somehow known we’d be pulling in right at that moment.

Six Miles West of Nogales

If it hadn’t been for the earpiece, I never would have heard the radio over the snarl of the four-wheeler’s engine. “Hillbilly, this is Plug,” Hank called. I eased off the throttle and took one hand off the handlebars to key the radio.  “Send it, Plug.” “Can you push up to the top of that ridgeline just to the east of you and take a look to the south?” he asked.  “Tell me what you see.” “Sure thing,” I answered.  It wasn’t like we had a set patrol route, or even any particular need to be anywhere.  So far, this job had consisted of little more than long hours just hot-wheeling around the hills of southern Arizona on four-wheelers and the occasional pickup truck. I gunned the engine and sent the sturdy little ATV surging up between the mesquites and the creosote bushes toward the ridge that Hank had indicated.  It wasn’t a long climb, but it was steep and rocky, with plenty more sagebrush and creosote bushes that I had to weave around.  But it still only took a couple of minutes to reach the top. Halting my ATV, I stood on the running boards and pulled my binos