The halftrack grumbled to a halt with a lurch; the driver was clearly new, and hadn’t yet gotten used to the slightly different handling. In the turret above, Mertens was knocked against the double coilgun and swore. “Who let that fumble-fingered nuyak drive?” Mertens demanded, his voice muffled by armor plating. “He needs the road time,” Corporal Gaumarus Pell replied. “I remember your first few musters, Mertens. Don’t make me start telling stories.” There was a general chuckle through the halftrack’s troop compartment at that. Gaumarus looked around at his section. Well, not his section. Sergeant Verlot was the section leader. Gaumarus was just a fireteam leader. He was glad he’d gotten a chuckle though. It had broken some of the tension, and he’d actually managed to relax a little bit himself. On most days, he was responsible for two thousand acres of tillage on the Pell Family farm, both supervising the human workers and the remote tractors. The humans were easy; it was the bots that made him want to tear his hair out. Even after centuries of computer development, they were still frustratingly glitchy, overly literal mechanisms, that could plow up two months’ worth of crops in an
When a counter-piracy mission goes bad, the SOBs find themselves hunting a secret society of pirates–the Red Vengeance. This was probably one of the best of the SOBs books I’ve read recently. While it has some connection with the real world (mainly through the Vietnamese Boat People), it’s a pretty self-contained adventure, with the SOBs going toe-to-toe with some of the most evil antagonists they’ve faced yet. Published in 1986, this book touches on a rarely-mentioned part of the aftermath of the Vietnam War–the boat people. Between 1975 and 1992, almost two million Vietnamese fled what had been the Republic of Vietnam, braving the South China Sea in rickety, overloaded boats rather than endure the new Communist regime. And where there are refugees, there are those who would prey on them. Red Vengeance sees the SOBs go after some of those predators–just turned up to 11. The book starts with a mission for the Thai Royal Navy going bad. It’s not the SOBs’ fault–it had already gone bad before they went in. But it puts them in a rough spot. They failed, whether it’s their fault or not. And that puts them off contract and pissed off. But one of their
The Brannigan’s Blackhearts series drives on, with War to the Knife, the 9th book in the series, going live today. I’d had this book in mind for quite some time, now. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to writing it from the series’ very inception. Some of the inspiration came from playing Jagged Alliance 2, and its remake, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action (which isn’t nearly as bad as some old-school JA purists would say). Furthermore, the premise of a small team of mercenaries going in to liberate a city or a nation under a tyrannical government is something that all of us who have carried a gun in hostile climes has probably dreamed of, at least once or twice. It’s kind of like every red-blooded American boy quietly wishing that something like Red Dawn would happen for real, so that he could be a Wolverine (the American guerrillas from the movie, not the comic book character). Well, there’s a reason I call some of my stuff–especially the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series–“Shooter Wish Fulfillment.” I really enjoyed writing this one, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. *** A border city is in the grip of a ruthless criminal… …And he might be working for even more sinister
Nine men with weapons and gear made for a tight fit in the little van. We ended up stacked up on the street as each man piled in, trying to climb into a seat without getting rifle or pouches snagged on seats, seatbelts, or door frames. Chris was already in the driver’s seat, looking over his shoulder as I climbed into the right seat. I didn’t have to worry about the crowding; privilege of command. Chris had the heater running full blast, and I was already sweating under my jacket, despite the cold. “Come on, come on!” Chris was a bit older than I was, but he tended to be a bit more excitable. He’d been a SEAL before the Triarii, but he was now a minister in some splinter Protestant church, and an all-around nice guy. “They’re moving while we’re still sitting here!” The van rocked on its shocks as nine big men in combat gear clambered aboard. I was trying to watch every direction at once, scanning windows and doors all around us. While the obvious threat might have run to the south, I’d learned a long time before that there was rarely only one threat, and the
Brannigan’s Blackhearts are out for blood. John Brannigan doesn’t take too many things personally. But he’s lost three men to the Humanity Front. So, when Erika Dalca offers him a target package on one of their facilitators, he’s going to go for it, even if it takes him to the ends of the Earth. On The Hunt Flanagan and Gomez hardly needed to communicate except by a glance. They both scrambled up to their feet and rushed forward, each moving to the nearest bend in the creekbed before dropping down behind the best cover they could find. In Flanagan’s case, that was the bend itself. Gomez had to wedge himself back into a slight, crumbling overhang on the far side. He’d lost track of exactly where Jenkins was, aside from behind them, but he was more focused on the threat in front of them, as the Front shooters opened fire, realizing that their flanking maneuver was compromised. More bullets gouged sand out of the creekbed, but the two Blackhearts were already down and aiming in. Flanagan quickly tracked in on a man down on a knee, several yards behind the one Gomez had shot. He blasted him, pumping a round
What started as a rescue mission turns into a bloody shadow war! The primary US base on the Horn of Africa has fallen. America’s overseas assets have been allowed to slip. Now the survivors’ only hope is a group of hard-bitten, veteran contractors, who are willing to go into the hell of East Africa on a rescue mission. It is Praetorian Security’s baptism of fire. And the first steps they take in a shadow fight against jihadists, pirates, terrorists…and worse. With little more than grit, determination, and sheer, unadulterated ruthlessness, they wade into the growing conflagration that is the Middle East, hell-bent on taking the fight to enemies that their own country often won’t even acknowledge. And along the way, they start to draw the curtain back on even darker forces at work… Task Force Desperate, Hunting in the Shadows, and Alone and Unafraid are now collected into a single set, for a price only about two-thirds of the collected cover prices. No, I’m afraid that it’s not a physical box set. The production cost would be too high, at this point in time. If the ebook bundle sells enough, maybe it can be looked into. Maybe. I’m not even
It is that time again. Time for some High Desert Vengeance gun porn.
Yes, despite launching a new series last month and all the associated work that’s gone into that, Brannigan’s Blackhearts #5 – High Desert Vengeance is coming soon. The preorder should be up shortly. You might remember from Frozen Conflict that Gomez was having some troubles at home. Well, they got worse… Juan Gomez was elbow-deep in the old F-100’s wiring bus when a yell from the house startled him. His head snapped up, cracking his skull on the underside of the hood. He didn’t swear; it wasn’t his way. None of his children had ever heard a word of profanity pass Juan Gomez’s lips, and even fully grown, they were often the targets of his dire glare when they indulged in his house. Even Mario, Marine that he had been. Rubbing his head, he glanced up toward the house. Emilio was standing on the porch, shading his eyes as he stared south, pointing with the other hand. “Dad!” he called again. “Look!” Juan almost didn’t have to. Slowly, heavily, still rubbing the sore spot on the back of his head, he turned and looked. Sure enough, there were three plumes of dust coming up the valley. Coming from the south.
So, it took me a while to get through this one (sorry, J.T.!). J.T. Patten did warn me that he considered the second novel, Primed Charge, to be much better written. While I can see why, this book is no slouch on its own. Sean Havens is a spook’s spook. He doesn’t have a formal cover; he doesn’t even directly work for any agency. He’s a contractor, who goes to various countries as a corporate drone of some kind, blends in, learns the human terrain, and then manipulates it to a desired outcome. Somewhere nearby, people die, and he goes home to his family, completely unconnected. Except that, despite his paranoia (which is impressive, by the way), there are still people who know who he is. And they know where his family is. That leads to a personal tragedy that draws Havens into something far darker than anything he’s been involved in yet (and he’s been hip-deep in some pretty dark stuff, as you discover as the book goes on).
Frozen Conflict went live on Kindle at midnight. It’s also been available in paperback for a few days now; I approved the proof a little early. The plus side of that is that the Kindle and Paperback pages were linked by yesterday, so I don’t have to pester KDP about it, like I had to with the last two Brannigan’s Blackhearts books. Manhunt In A Post-Soviet Hellhole Transnistria. A breakaway republic on the eastern border of Moldova, and a bolt-hole for notorious black-market arms dealer Eugen Codreanu. Except that it’s suddenly turned from safe haven to prison for the man who was once rumored to be dealing in ex-Soviet backpack nukes. A shadow facilitator reaches out to John Brannigan, former Marine Colonel turned mercenary. The job: get Codreanu out of Transnistria, out from under the noses of the thousands of Russian peacekeepers swarming around the breakaway republic. The hook: Codreanu might have information about the terrorist operation in the Gulf of Mexico a few months before. The catch: there might be someone else trying to beat them to the punch. The terrorists who seized the Tourmaline-Delta platform in the Gulf of Mexico might be trying to tie up loose ends.