Thunder Run Chapter 3

Thunder Run Chapter 3

A week and a half later, I walked into our TOC in Fort Grodzisko. The bunker hadn’t gotten much warmer since the winter, though it had gotten brighter, as more work lights were brought in. We still did some planning and intel collection on computers, but given how fast and how nasty the cyber war had gotten—not to mention how often power grids were being targeted, on both sides of the Atlantic—we used paper maps, whiteboards, and as much analog stuff as we could. And those needed light. Brian Hartrick was waiting in the “Grex Luporum Corner,” along with Shane Tucker and Bobby Burkhart, the other two Grex Luporum team leaders in country. There weren’t a lot of us, and we were in high demand in the States—and there were whispers about new ops in the Western Pacific, though those were extremely hush-hush at the moment—so Shane, Bobby, and I were it for the moment. We were also all understrength. We’d taken losses over the last few months since all this started. None of our ten-man teams were sitting at more than eight bodies. “You made it.” Hartrick’s sardonic tone always sounded like he wasn’t sure if what he was

Thunder Run Chapter 2

Thunder Run Chapter 2

The Territorial Defense troops were piling out of the Star 266 trucks where they’d pulled over on the side of the road, and the first couple of squads had already started to spread out into the woods as Chris and I rejoined Scott and the rest of the team. Scott and Arkadiusz had already deconflicted and linked up with the Poles. The two of them were standing near the lead truck, talking to Jaskolski while Reuben guided the Light Infantry point elements into the woods. It would not be a good thing if they stumbled on us in the dark and the wrong people got shot. I glanced over the men and women spreading out into the trees. They were better equipped than the raid force had been, but that wasn’t saying a lot. Load bearing vests worn over bulky, early 2000s era body armor turned even the fittest soldier into a lumbering pear shape, and not all these boys and girls were lean and mean studs to begin with. They at least had night vision, monoculars mounted on old MICH helmets. The Territorial Defense Brigades had gotten a lot of the Wojska Lądowe’s old FB Beryl 5.56 AKs, as

Thunder Run Prologue

Thunder Run Prologue

Calls for Terrorism Hearings Concerning Texas Representative Amelia Anderson-Pugnoli has openly called for hearings in Congress regarding the recent clashes in West Texas which saw the Texas National Guard seize control of the West Texas oilfields. She and the nearly one hundred twenty Representatives who back her have said that the actions of Texas Governor Hollis, the Texas National Guard, and the right-wing organization that calls itself “The Triarii” amounted to insurrection and international terrorism. “This kind of violence amounts to nothing less than a betrayal of everything America stands for! Texas is not a sovereign country, and even if it were, the attacks on international companies and Mexican nationals are crimes against humanity, and must be punished.” Governor Hollis has issued no statement at this time. Violence Continues on West Coast   Seattle is in flames again tonight, this time in reaction to the alleged killing of a local community activist near Capitol Hill. While the Capitol Hill area has been an epicenter for unrest since 2020, the latest spate of violence appears to be between several local activist groups. As this article goes live, it is still unclear what prompted the latest dispute, but it may have been

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 4

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 4

“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

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 3

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 3

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

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 2

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 2

“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

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 1

Enemy of My Enemy Chapter 1

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

Fortress Doctrine Chapter 2

Fortress Doctrine Chapter 2

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,

Fortress Doctrine Chapter 1

Fortress Doctrine Chapter 1

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

Strategic Assets Chapter 2

Strategic Assets Chapter 2

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