In the third such killing in the last six months, Senator Tyrone Billings of Michigan was killed by a VBIED outside his Ann Arbor home last night. This comes after three months of threats, following Billings’ vote against S.8853, the “Hate Speech” law that would bring the US into line with European Union standards. Most of Senator Billings’ security was killed in the blast. Police have no leads.
As I’ve written before, writing about mercs or military NGOs provides a certain freedom of action in a storytelling sense that I don’t get with writing about regular military. Call it a certain degree of wish fulfillment (I’ve characterized some of my fiction as “shooter wish-fulfillment” before), but it helps telling the kinds of stories I want to tell without the pains of dealing with a lot of the red tape and crushing bureaucracy of the actual military. I knew going into Maelstrom Rising that a small, special-operations-centered PMC like Praetorian Security/Solutions wasn’t quite going to do the trick. So, The Triarii were born.
As the 21st Century has matured, the divide in the United States has gotten more and more pronounced. While in many ways it is tribal (simply look at what either major political faction will scream bloody murder about when they are the opposition, and then look the other way when it is done while their people are in office), there is a fundamental fracture in the fabric of American society. And that fissure is deepening. More and more voices call for the utter destruction of anyone who disagrees with them, no matter how petty or nonsensical the disagreement is. A side with more and more power is demanding that things that are more and more demonstrably false and counter-factual be held up as right, true, and good, and threaten the livelihoods, or the lives, of anyone who refuses. The fracture appears to be largely along political lines. But it has become much deeper than that, a cultural divide between people who assume the worst of each other, in some cases simply because of the color of skin. And the politicians and tech giants who make their millions use that divide more and more, stoking the fires of the mob for
I first read Cauldron in high school, and at the time, I remember that it didn’t make as much of an impact on me that Red Storm Rising, Red Phoenix, or even Vortex did. A new war in Central Europe seemed somewhat more far-fetched at the time than chaos in Africa or East Asia. (I was in high school; I didn’t know nearly as much as I might have thought that I did.) But in prep for Maelstrom Rising, I picked Cauldron back up. And I’ve got to say, Larry Bond was a lot more prescient than he seemed, back in ’93. While the general scenario in Cauldron is the French and Germans enforcing their economic hegemony over Eastern and Central Europe by force of arms, effectively forming the European Union at gunpoint (referred to as the European Confederation, or EurCon in the novel), the fault lines that lead to the scenario are even now playing out, only slightly differently.
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.)
Today is the day. Doctors of Death is live, on Kindle and paperback (and the two editions are already linked, somewhat to my surprise). Missing Persons, Dead Villagers, and a Sinister Cabal When a WHO doctor goes missing in Chad, her husband is ready to move heaven and earth to find her. But most of his pleas fall on deaf ears. It’s Africa. These things happen. But his pleas eventually reach the shadowy office that arranges jobs for Brannigan’s Blackhearts. They’re headed into Central Africa, on another rescue mission. But there’s more to this than meets the eye. A private military kingpin named Mitchell Price is sniffing around Chad at the same time. Entire villages are being wiped out by mysterious plagues. And an ominously familiar group of Western shooters has showed up, both in Chad and at home. As a few people have noticed, Kill Yuan is now officially part of the Brannigan’s Blackhearts universe. Doctors of Death is also something of a minor climax to the arc started in Enemy Unidentified; some things are coming to a head, and some answers are going to be revealed. Only to lead to more questions, of course. Check it out! I
One of the fun parts about writing stories about a group of covert mercenaries is that they don’t have a standard loadout. So, I get to include all sorts of weaponry for the Blackhearts themselves, as well as their adversaries, or just the locals they have to steer clear of. Hence, we have the traditional gun porn post for each new volume, and Doctors of Death is indeed no slouch. The team gets a little split up in this one, with one element in Africa, and the other having to operate Stateside. Since the FN FAL is still in service with the Chadian National Army, Brannigan picks the FAL for their primary in Africa, though Van Zandt ends up getting the “Inch FAL,” the L1A1, for them instead. The measurements are different, but the L1A1 and FAL both use the 7.62 NATO round, though the magazines are slightly different. Fortunately, he included plenty of mags in the supply drop.
The Cessna 208 dropped like a stone and hit the runway in Abeche with a hard jolt that almost threw Dr. Elisa King into the back of the seat in front of her, despite the seatbelt. For a moment, she thought that something must have broken. The pilot immediately slammed on the brakes and reversed the props, further throwing her and everyone and everything in the cramped cabin forward as the engines howled, trying to slow the plane down. She hadn’t thought that the runway at Abeche was so short that a relatively small plane like the Cessna would need to decelerate that hard, but given what she’d seen of the pilot, maybe she shouldn’t have been surprised. It wasn’t her first time in Africa, but her first time in Chad. The World Health Organization had often sent observers to document the almost routine cholera outbreaks, but this was the first time someone with her specialty had been called for in the Sahel. The plane having finally slowed to a reasonable pace, the pilot taxied toward the low, one-story terminal. King looked out the window, taking in a part of Africa she hadn’t seen yet. It looked an awful lot
So, I’ve got to get new files for the revised Task Force Desperate cover. KDP Print is printing way too dark, and the silhouettes are disappearing into the background. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with the updated Hunting in the Shadows cover. Feast your eyes: I think it fits the title a little better. (And before somebody starts pointing out the AR, notice the profile, and remember that .300 Blackout ARs were in common use in this book as well.) Currently no similar updates in mind for the other covers; I think they’re still pretty solid. Some interior updates are happening, but they are relatively minor (reformatting, updating the “Also By” list, etc.). Once everything’s updated, I’ll probably run a Kindle Countdown deal, probably next month, see if I can’t rekindle a little interest. Drawing the Line might (might) be coming down off Amazon and turning into a free newsletter draw via Bookfunnel (like Incident at Trakan for The Unity Wars). Haven’t quite decided that yet. (And, it’s going to mean redoing interior files again to put the link in the back matter.) Now, back to the word mines.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that in many ways, the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series is a bit of a throwback to the glory days of Men’s Adventure fiction, most exemplified by The Executioner, Phoenix Force, Able Team, the SOBs, and similar series. Mark Allen’s Warlock is the same thing, if in a slightly different direction. The cover should be a dead giveaway, too; it looks like a Mack Bolan cover.