They hadn’t gone far when Lewis was tugging on Brannigan’s sleeve. “Sir, we just got a message from Team Two,” he yelled in the Colonel’s ear. “They are mission complete, but are pinned down under fire, and cut off from the beach.” Brannigan glanced forward, where the wounded Lance Corporal Clark was lying on the deck. Time was short, but he had a responsibility to those boys down on the ground, too. He started working his way forward, stepping over and past knees, boots, M27s, and two LSATs, carefully moving around Clark’s supine form, until he got to the cockpit. “We need to divert to Shilka Position Two,” he shouted to the pilot. “Some of my boys are in trouble, and need some support.” “This ain’t a gunship, sir, and we’ve got a casualty aboard,” the copilot protested. “Don’t try to bullshit me, son,” Brannigan replied. “We’ve got a minigun and a 240 mounted for a reason, and it’s more than that team on the ground has. Take us in.” He stayed where he was, but motioned for Lewis to hand him the handset, cursing the multiple tac frequencies that went along with combined arms warfare. The recon teams were
Staff Sergeant Elias Martinez had just checked the quick release affixed to the bow of the partially-deflated Zodiac for the third time when something made him look up. There was a towering figure standing at the base of the CH-53’s ramp. Martinez instinctively straightened, then yelled for the rest of his team. There might be plenty of big Marines aboard the USS Boxer, but there was no mistaking the silhouette of the MEU Commander. Colonel John Brannigan cut an altogether different figure. There was something about the way he carried himself that set him apart and made him immediately recognizable. What was surprising was the fact that the Colonel, with the squat form of Sergeant Major Santelli beside him, was in full kit. Helmet, NVGs, plate carrier, mags, radio, blowout kit, rifle, the works. He looked like he was ready to climb right on the bird and insert alongside Martinez’ Force Recon Team. Which was unheard of, and something that Martinez suddenly found he more than vaguely dreaded. No team leader wants an officer looking over his shoulder on an op, let alone the Colonel. “Bring it in a minute, gents!” Brannigan boomed, managing to make himself heard over the
Starting tomorrow, I will be serializing the prelude story to Brannigan’s Bastards here on the blog. Brannigan’s Bastards #0 – The Colonel Has A Plan will be released in three parts over the next three weeks, then put on its own page, accessible from the home page. Stay tuned.
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
The Canyon of the Lost is out today! Check it out for a short adventure with Jed Horn and Dan Weatherby, about a year after Nightmares and some time before A Silver Cross and a Winchester.