Physical training with Liquid Sky put Deckard in a world of shit. He was a hybrid athlete as necessitated by his lifestyle. As the leader of a para-military mercenary unit, Deckard led from the front, often doing body weight routines and kettlebell workouts with the Kazakh mercenaries in the gym, ruck marches with fifty pound packs, and five-mile runs in full combat equipment.
Liquid Sky took masochism to a whole new level.
At dawn they dived into the ocean for a swim. Deckard was a strong swimmer, but the former SEALs were like fish as they cut through waves that knocked him back and forth in the water. Bill took them out past the breakers and then turned around to head back to shore. Deckard was the last one to the beach. Even Ramon, their former Special Forces member, was out in front of him.
Washing up on shore, Deckard jogged across the beach and up to Bill’s bungalow to catch up. They were already spotting each other as they cycled through on the bench press.
“You’re up,” Rick told him just as he climbed up onto the deck. Soaking wet, he knocked out five repetitions on the bench. He was tired from the swim but could hang in there. Coming from the Army side, he was a runner and ruck marcher more than a swimmer.
Next they did Renegade Man Makers with 25-pound dumbbells. A weight was held in each hand while hitting the ground and doing a push up, then you shifted your weight and executed a row, bringing the weight level with the chest, then repeating it on the other side. Next, you got to your feet with the weights and pressed them above your head. That was one repetition. They did five reps.
Next came five box jumps. From a standing position, you had to jump on top of a wooden box that was two feet high. Also for five reps. Then came five reps on the dip bars. After that came five Goblet Squats which were done holding a 25-pound kettlebell. Then, they did 25-meter sprints down the beach to shake it out. That was one set. There were four more to go.
Deckard was sucking. Most of the other guys were on steroids and were blowing through the exercises at first. Rick was actually the first one to puke. The entire workout was done for time and now it was starting to catch up to them. Ramon puked off the edge of the deck during their third time through the Renegade Man Makers. Deckard puked third, this time during the sprints. Zach got it on the last set, barfing into the ocean as he staggered away after the box jumps.
After the fifth and last set they all lay around panting. Except for Bill. He was a human wrecking ball. Deckard saw that he was covered in sweat but didn’t even seem to be breathing that hard. The Liquid Sky leader picked up a water bottle, swished the water around in his mouth, spat it out in the sand and walked inside.
“Fuck me,” Deckard said to himself.
When he finally managed to get to his feet and walk back to his beach house he was just in time to see Nadeesha glide out of the waves and stride up the beach in a blue bikini. She was on her own PT program and the guys simply left her to her own devices. She made eye contact with him for a split second before turning and walking down the beach to her place, not even acknowledging his existence.
Deckard stood in the cool morning air for another minute before going inside and taking a shower. Most of the food in the refrigerator had gone bad and had to be thrown out but Deckard downed some cereal he found in the pantry. His body was starving and he’d have to make sure he got some more food in his system soon to help recover from the workout. He also drank several more glasses of water.
After he got dressed, Deckard locked the door and walked a few blocks to the main street. He was on his own time until the team party tonight. It was time to get to work.
Hailing a cab, he told the driver that he wanted to hit up the market in Port Louis, the island’s capital located about twenty minutes away from where he was on the northern tip of Mauritius. The cab driver nodded. Almost everyone seemed to speak English here.
On the way into the city, Deckard observed the port. It really was a multicultural island with many faiths and people living on top of one another without any real problems. It wasn’t just the churches, mosques, and temples, but even the port was filled with run-of-the-mill fishing vessels and Chinese junks. There were also naval ships, which looked to be retrofitted with stealth characteristics.
Paying the cab driver, he walked into the center of the city. Port Louis was second world, but perfectly comfortable and the people very friendly. Still, he couldn’t help but notice that like most countries he traveled too, the tallest buildings in town were the ones reserved for the banks and private financial institutions. Like Malta, Mauritius was an off shore finance nexus.
Deckard walked a long surveillance-detection route, winding his way through the city blocks and stopping several times. He had to make absolutely sure he wasn’t being followed.
The market was a large two-story building in the city center. Produce filled baskets in every stall with bright orange, green, red, and yellow fruits, along with various nuts, stalks, and roots. Looking through the breezeway up to the second story, Deckard could see clothing and other household goods for sale. Climbing the stairs, he pretended to look at a few stalls before stopping at a stall that sold electronics.
He bought a Samsung cellphone with cash and picked up a SIM card while he was there. Outside, he found a vender selling phone cards and bought several from him. Deckard again took a long meandering route that would allow him to see if he was being followed. Finding a pizzeria, he ducked inside and asked the waiter to be seated in the back of the restaurant.
Ordering a pizza and a drink, he went to work as soon as the waiter walked away. Slipping in the SIM card, he inserted the battery into the phone and found that he had a half charge. Good enough. Scratching off the code bars on the back of the phone cards, he typed them in and put minutes on his phone.
Furiously, Deckard began hammering out an intel report with his thumbs.
Pat sat up in his chair as his cell phone vibrated across the table.
Samruk International was still working out of a hangar at the airport in Astana, Kazakhstan. Frank and Sergeant Major Koran had flown in with the Kazakhs from Mexico and made sure they were paid for services rendered before putting them on two weeks of leave. Now the troops were filtering back from across the country. The problem was, Samruk International didn’t have a new contract for them yet. The Kazakh mercenaries were re-fitting, and Korgan was drawing up a training plan, but they still needed to find work.
Now that Frank was back to his old self and walking around without crutches, he was setting up business meetings with the Kazakh government to bid on a counter-narcotics contract. Something local would be nice for a change.
Snatching the phone off his desk, Pat typed in his PIN and saw that he had a new text message. As the former Delta Force operator began to read, he immediately knew what he was looking at.
“Aghassi!” He called across the hangar. His voice echoed through the open space. A massive An-125 Russian cargo jet sat in the middle of the hangar, its twin brother was outside on the tarmac. They were expensive as hell to operate, but necessary for a highly mobile private military company.
“Get over here!”
Aghassi and Nikita were currently tasked with training-up a six-man recce cell but this was critical. They had a man in the field. Under and alone.
Pat scrolled through the message:
Operating out of Mauritius
Seven operators incl/ me
Last tgt in dubai told he was money for terr org
Previous tgt in afghan said they ran dope for karzai
guy in Pak named Henderson girl back home?
others, Bill, Paul, Zach, and Rick. Former SEALs. Bill 1IC
Ramon. former 1st sfg CIF
Nadeesha. not sure, jsoc intel maybe
nasty group, witness war crimes in afghan.
still on probation w/ tm
“Ho-ly shit,” Pat said. “Fucking Deckard. He did it.”
The assassination in Dubai was all over the news. Fingers were getting pointed everywhere, but mostly at Mossad. No one could prove anything, of course.
“I’m catching the first flight out tonight,” Aghassi said. He was now reading the message over Pat’s shoulder.
“Got it. I’ll get in touch with Cody back in the States for the electronic piece.”
Cody was a hacker that Samruk had contracted previously for the Mexico operation.
The next text message was an address to the place where Deckard was staying on the island. Aghassi wrote it down and then opened one of the laptops sitting at their ad hoc command post and began making arrangements. The phone vibrated one more time.
There is a # in my kit. pocket on plate carrier i used in MX
Remember the two NSW guys we ran into down there
Call them. find out who these guys are
want to know what the fuck happened to them.
Pat texted him back to acknowledge the message. He didn’t hear back. Deckard was probably already throwing the cell phone into the ocean. The last text referred to two SEAL Team Six operators that they had crossed paths with while they were sniffing out an arms trafficking pipeline in Mexico. The two Spanish speaking SEALs were acting as advisers to the Mexican forces battling it out with the cartels. Tearing through Deckard’s combat gear in the corner of the hangar, Pat found the piece of paper with their numbers on it. Dusty and Flakjacket were their nicknames.
The last two weeks had been spent waiting for Deckard’s corpse to turn up somewhere, in which case they would be lucky because it was far more likely that he just disappeared into the ether never to be seen or heard from again. Now that they had an inside man, it was time to start getting inside the enemy’s decision-making cycle. Pat sat back down and starting making some calls.
Deckard erased the phone’s memory, then removed the battery. He devoured the pizza, his body still starved from the morning workout. Paying the bill, he made his way back towards the port and tossed his cell phone over the railing and into the Indian Ocean. The city’s main shopping mall was right across the bay so Deckard walked over and bought some food and other household items he needed for the duration of his stay. However long that might be.
Taking a cab back to his pad, Deckard put away the groceries. He had to be careful not to get comfortable here. It was an island oasis that Europeans flocked to on vacation, but for him it was Bad Guy country. It didn’t even have to be his mistake. A few phone calls to the wrong people in the United States for instance. If certain information began to fall into Bill’s hands, Liquid Sky would start to get suspicious. Suspicion would quickly give way to paranoia. You could never be too careful in this line of work. That paranoia would lead immediately to Deckard being executed. He could never let his guard down here. He was always operational, even when not on an operation.
He continued to wonder if his entire house wasn’t wired for sound and video with someone playing voyeur as they watched him on a closed-circuit television screen. If that paranoia did set in with Liquid Sky, he would never see it coming once they decided to do him in. He could improvise some weapons like in Dubai, or better yet, secure a gun somewhere on the island, but for now, secrecy was his security.
Back at his bungalow, he took a long nap on the couch with the television muted. Late into the afternoon, he woke as someone banged on the screen door that faced out to the ocean.
“Hey,” Zach said, “team meeting before the party. Let’s go.”
“Sure,” Deckard said as he rubbed his eyes. “Be right there.”
Deckard opened the screen door and stepped outside.
Mauritius was a relatively tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Isolated, it was tucked away from all the distractions and complications found elsewhere. The waves broke on the shore, pulling the beach out with it as the tides changed. It felt like he was standing on the edge of the world.
Walking down the beach, he crossed Bill’s workout area on the deck and stepped inside. Zach and Paul were shooting the shit about some French tourists they had banged the night before.
“This island is a pussy buffet, bro,” Paul laughed.
“Fucking Euro girls don’t lube up right when they’re drunk though. Gotta help ’em out a little,” Zach complained.
“Give them a break,” Rick cut in. “I’m sure she did fine with what little she had to work with.”
The Liquid Sky men roared with laughter as Rick high-fived Paul. Everyone went quiet as Nadeesha entered and sat down in a chair in the corner. Bill was sitting on his couch with his laptop open.
“Now that everyone is here,” Bill said as he eyeballed Nadeesha, “we can get started.”
Deckard noticed that Ramon was missing.
“I know everyone has been nervous about the client. Recent events back in the States scared him off and his company decided to abandon a number of classified projects including some indig proxy force they were training out in Nevada. After we got hung out to dry, I had to find us employment elsewhere. Pakistan was for a Prince in Bahrain. Afghanistan was a one-off paid for by some ex-Agency guy working a private network in Pakistan. Then, Dubai was for the Yids.
“We had a couple interested parties who were going to pick us up on a permanent basis like G3 Communications did, but some of those fell through. A lot of the players had experience with BW, and the executives over there left a lot of scorched ground between the decision makers and the contractors. I almost set us up working directly for a group of princes in the Gulf States, but now I think I got something better.
“A retired American General is going to pick up Liquid Sky and his ‘leadership academy’ or what-the-fuck-ever will sponsor us covertly. This way, his group acts as the middle man between the princes who have plenty of work for us to do. This Arab Spring thing is really fucking up their jive. That’s where we come in. Between them and these Wahhabi sand niggers they got their hands full and a bunch of inept A-rab soldiers in their military who sleep most of the day and spend the rest fucking their boyfriends. So we won’t be hurting for work.”
“So what are we looking at?” Rick asked.
“They’ve got something for us to start on now. Ramon finished his pre-mission prep and has already moved into the target country to begin operational preparation of the battlespace. Tomorrow, the rest of us move out to the staging area. The targeted individual has already had five assassination attempts on him in the last two years, so he is paranoid as fuck and is prepared. He knows someone will try again and will be waiting for us. This is going to take some brass balls to pull off, but what the fuck else is new.
“Don’t worry about that shit now. Party it up tonight. Tomorrow we fly out to begin training and it is back to business.”
A couple whoops went up and the boys began dragging out a keg that they had on ice. The next time Deckard turned around, Nadeesha had already disappeared. Bill tapped the keg and started passing out beers. Paul got a few dozen shot glasses and lined them up on the kitchen table. The other guys were making phone calls to some of the expat girls they knew on the island.
Zach shotgunned four shots back-to-back and the party was started. Deckard was pretty drunk by the time a half dozen women showed up. Four were from France, one from Switzerland, and another from Germany. They brought drugs with them, too.
Bill did a couple lines of a blow off one of his billiard tables. Deckard was starting to get nervous. Former operators filled with booze and coke and haunted by the wars they fought in was not exactly a great combination.
Sitting down with a fresh beer, one of the French girls came over and sat down on his lap. Deckard had no idea what the blond was saying to him and he cared even less. Across the room, one of her girlfriends was grabbing Zach’s crotch as they took turns downing shots. She frowned at her and then went back to Deckard, kissing him on the lips. They seemed to be in competition with each other.
Rick fired up a couple lines of coke between vodka shots.
Now the French chick had pulled out Rick’s cock. It was Deckard’s turn to frown. The Prince Albert piercing had to hurt. Getting down on her knees, the blonde girl’s friend went to work, deep throating Rick right there in the middle of the party. The European girls cheered, a few offering advice on how to improve her technique.
The blonde was clearly pissed over something and jumped off Deckard’s lap to go use the bathroom. When she came back, her pupils were huge, dilated from whatever pills she had swallowed.
By then, Bill had bent the big-titted German girl over a billiard table, dropped trou and was drilling her, the moans drowned out by the loud deathmetal music blasting over the stereo.
Jesus Christ, Deckard thought. When he was a young soldier they used to have Squad parties. He recalled his Squad Leader doing keg stands all night, throwing the keg off his back deck, and then doing donuts around his house in a beat-up Toyota pickup truck. All of that seemed pretty mild compared to this cocaine-fueled orgy.
Once Bill finished with the German, the blond pillhead let her jean shorts fall around her ankles and bent over the pool table to wait her turn. Soon, her finger nails were tearing up the billiard table’s upholstery.
Deckard could take a hint, if he stuck around much longer there was a good chance that one of these nymphos was going to handcuff him to a radiator and shock his balls with a couple wires attached to a car battery. He made a hasty exit as Paul and Zach swapped girls and were going for their second round.
Later on, he couldn’t remember stumbling back to his beach house. He woke up in the early morning hours, still wearing his clothes while laying in the bathtub with the shower on, soaking wet.
“What. The. Fuck.”