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Surface To Air “Kev! Up!” Wade had pivoted, bringing his MCX up as the second helo made a pass at the stern. Bullets smacked into steel and fiberglass around them, and both Blackhearts ducked, Curtis throwing himself flat just below the lip of the helipad. He rolled over onto his back as the bird went by, wrenching the EVOLYS around and sending a burst at the receding aircraft’s tail. He couldn’t tell whether he’d hit it or not. Levering himself to his feet, he hauled the EVOLYS up and searched for the helo. It was nose down, making tracks fast, banking off to the west, far astern of the yacht. I still might be able to hit it. He shifted to the aft rail, bracing the machinegun and tracking in on the fleeing helicopter. He squeezed off a burst, but his range was off. Red tracers arced just beneath the bird, which jinked hard to avoid the fire and dove even closer to the water, turning away from the Dream Empire and banking violently from side to side to avoid the gunfire. He fired one more burst, but between the helicopter’s motion, the widening range, and the yacht’s own rolling
Joe Flanagan scanned the water carefully, considering the angles. There was a good spot just upstream, where a sizeable boulder lay just beneath the surface, visible only as a slightly more noticeable stirring of the water. He saw another spot closer to the bank, though, where a fallen tree and a partially collapsed overhang had formed a sheltered pool. He stayed where he was, motionless, quiet, set back from the bank so that he wouldn’t cast a shadow on the water, and watched for a while. After a few minutes, he circled around toward the pool formed by the fallen tree. Crouching down by a pine, he watched the water carefully for a few more minutes, before finally casting into the end of the pool. It took a couple of casts, but finally the line tautened and the tip of the rod bent. He flicked upward, setting the hook, and then started to work the fish in toward the bank. Even as he reeled in his catch, he heard the crunch of gravel under tires, the sound of a motor stopping, and then a door being shut. Despite the battering his hearing had taken over years of gunfire and helicopters,
“Dad? Looks like Uncle Hector’s here.” John Brannigan looked up from the table. Hank, leaner and shorter than his father by several inches, was peering out the door at the driveway, noticeably staying out of the light, off to one side, where a newcomer shouldn’t be able to see him. The boy had been an officer, but he’d learned. He should have, given the fact that his old man had been something of an infantry legend. Still. He’d learned even more since he’d left the Marine Corps and become a member of the secretive mercenary team that called itself Brannigan’s Blackhearts. Brannigan shut the ledger in front of him with a faint frown and got up to step around the table and move to the other window. Sure enough, that was Hector Chavez’s car pulling up the driveway. “That’s weird. Usually he calls ahead.” “Maybe the cell signal’s not working up here again.” “Wouldn’t that be a shame,” Brannigan growled. The only reason he had the infernal device in the first place was because of the Blackhearts. Otherwise, he would have been perfectly happy to go completely off grid up here. Thrusting his .45 into the back of his waistband,
The attack was swift and completely unexpected. Carl Hild hardly noticed the roll of the deck beneath his feet as he headed below, toward his cabin. He was still miserable. I never should have taken this gig. The money wasn’t bad. The job itself, though… Hild had been to just about every port in the world over the last twenty years. He’d sailed with all kinds of crews, from the good, to the bad, to the incompetent and depraved. None of them quite matched this nightmare. Not that the crew itself was bad. Even the captain, drunk though he was, knew his business and generally treated his subordinates fairly. Even the route wasn’t bad. No, it was the client. The Tonka Canyon wasn’t the biggest oceangoing cargo ship out there, and her cargoes often only just about broke even. This time, though, the container at the forefront of the hold was supposed to pay for the whole voyage by itself, and that was leaving aside the other stuff they’d taken on to fill the rest of the hold. It just didn’t feel worth it. The container had come with its own security detail and supervisor. And that was where the
Returning to the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series once more, it’s time for the traditional guns post. There’s slightly less variety this time around, but it’s a more contained sort of story, too. Once the Blackhearts get aboard the ship they’ve been hired to protect from an advanced group of pirates, they get issued weapons by the client. That means all the same primaries, namely SIG MCX Virtus carbines in 5.56×45. The sidearms are all issued, as well. The client’s security coordinator goes for the basics, with Glock 19s. Initially, that’s all they get, to Kevin Curtis’s fury. However, once things start to get kinetic, it turns out that the client was slightly more prepared for the well-equipped, well-trained pirates than it appeared. With money to burn, too. Curtis and Bianco both end up wielding FN EVOLYS ultralight machineguns, also in 5.56. The pirates are a little more black market. Their primary weapons are South African Vektor R4s in 5.56. For machineguns, they have a few Vektor Mini-SS 5.56 belt-feds, presumably from the same shipment the R4s came from. Pistols are a little bit more eclectic among the pirates. We don’t necessarily get to see many of them, but the pirate chief, Cain,
A large part of the Maelstrom Rising series has been aiming at how a next world war wouldn’t necessarily look like most people think. Power Vacuum drives that home, as it becomes clearer that Thunder Run was far from the end in Europe. The European Defense Council Has Fallen… …But Peace Has Not Come to Europe Will the Chaos Only Spread from Here? The thunder run into Germany has left Matt’s team battered and borderline combat ineffective. The Triarii don’t have the reinforcements for them to stand down, however. Commitments in the US and the Western Pacific have stretched them thin. And with Europe in chaos, there is no rest to be had. Jihadis have struck repeatedly, sowing bloodshed and confusion where possible, and it appears the Turks are involved. The Russians are pushing in the east, and they may have operatives in the heart of Western Europe as well. The European Defense Corps hasn’t stood down, either. And a new NGO that’s arrived to help might be the most dangerous enemy of all… *** Hybrid Warfare. It’s become something of a buzzword. There are books written about how it became a buzzword (One in particular, that proved to be a massive waste
I hate PSD work. One of the benefits of being in the Grex Luporum teams is that we can be mobile and unpredictable, moving quickly and often invisibly through the AO to get the mission done. When the mission is to act as a Personal Security Detachment, escorting a public figure, though, especially one who might end up becoming the next Prime Minister of Germany, it gets harder to stay unpredictable. Which was why I wasn’t all that surprised when the lead vehicle blew up just short of the bridge over the Ochtum. The armored Land Rover disappeared into a boiling black cloud that slammed out of the trees on the side of the road, the heavy thud of the detonation traveling through the ground toward us. I caught a glimpse of the vehicle a moment later, slewed halfway around with its back wheels against the median, the armored glass starred and a few hundred frag holes punched into the doors, as I keyed my radio. “Contact, right.” The Land Rover that had been hit cracked its doors, the Germans who formed the bulk of Wenzeslaus Gorman’s official PSD sticking their MP7s out through the “V” and covering down on
New Russian Military Exercises in Serbia Recent reports indicate that what appears to be an entire Russian airborne battalion from the 7th Guards Air Assault Division has entered Serbia and is conducting joint exercises with the Serbian Army near the Hungarian border. So far, there have been no border crossings, but there are reports of live fire near the border. Hungarian Defense Forces are on high alert. Serbian relations with the West soured considerably following the Fourth Balkan War, in which Western forces intervened in the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo for the second time. The aftermath of that war saw Serbia drawn far more firmly into Russia’s orbit. With Russian forces pushing along the borders of Slovakia and Poland, ostensibly to create a “security buffer zone” between Russian-occupied territory and the war that erupted in Slovakia last year, this new movement presents a matter of some grave concern. Chinese Naval Forces Shift Focus Following reports of violence on and around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, including the reported—though vehemently denied by PLAN spokesperson Bai Guanting—sinking of several PLAN destroyers and severe damage done to the PLAN aircraft carrier Shandong, it appears that the
I need to get up. Joe Flanagan looked up at the sunlight streaming through the window with some bemusement. With rare exceptions, he was usually up a good hour before the sun, this time of year. But as he turned to see Rachel—now Rachel Flanagan—lying next to him, breathing softly, he took a deep breath and settled back on the pillow. It’s not every day that a man has his honeymoon, and while there were chores that still had to happen that day, he was going to relax a little. After a while, though, he started to get restless, and carefully slipped out from under the covers, swinging his feet down to the floor before quietly getting dressed and padding into the kitchen, starting the water boiling for coffee. He turned as movement caught his eye, to see Rachel, wrapped in her bathrobe, her hair disheveled but lovely, smiling at him from the doorway. “You’re not quite as sneaky as you think, hon.” While Flanagan was ordinarily something of a stoic, his wife drew a grin. She’d had that effect on him ever since Kevin Curtis had introduced them, unwittingly setting events in motion that had led to this point.