Morning PT crushed the entire team. To warm up, the team ran barefoot two miles down the beachfront and then back. It was a slow, comfortable pace, but everyone knew what was coming next. With a barbell they took turns doing three repetitions of the power snatch which involved lifting the weight above your head and squatting it. They increased the weight every three reps until failure.
Then they did the same for the power clean, which was a similar exercise, but the barbell was only brought up to under the chin with a reverse grip. The power jerk was done for the same repetitions and was also similar, but from under the chin, the barbell was then snapped above the head in one popping motion. Next was the clean pull. From the squatting position, the lifter snapped up with the bar held in an overhand grip until he was standing on his toes, and then lowered the bar back to the ground.
Repetitions were increased to five for the front squat. Again, more plates were added after each repetition. Holding the barbell under the chin, they did five squats for one set. Last but not least was Bill’s favorite, the bench press. About half of the Liquid Sky team puked this time around. Deckard managed to hold it down but had to wonder what the point was. They could probably take turns kicking each other in the balls and get the same result. They wrapped up with a two-mile cool-down run. Most of them took water bottles and tried to rehydrate as they jogged up and down the beach.
After dragging ass back to his pad, Deckard took a shower, tried to pound down some more water and stretch out. He found it funny that Liquid Sky was so careful about their operational security, but six physically fit men running and swimming around a residential area was a signature in of itself. Apparently the guys just told the locals that they participated in adventure racing around the world, sponsored by some jockstrap company or something.
Sitting down on the couch, Deckard began to plan his next move. He didn’t have any time to waste. Bill had mentioned during PT that he would be reviewing a series of new contracts to bid on that afternoon. A comment like that made Deckard wonder how many other teams might actually be out there. He would have his hands full taking this enterprise down as it was.
Deckard had to hand it to Liquid Sky. These guys were not fighting some one-sided firefight against chicken-shit terrorists in Tikrit or Ballad. They were skating the edge, almost for the sport of it. And they were winning. They were good, but the lack of discipline would catch up with them. Back to the operational security again. The war crimes were not just unprofessional, they also violated OPSEC by creating a signature. If they were scalping or canoeing bodies on every objective, then eventually someone would put two and two together and realize it was the same team conducting these hits all over the world.
He knew that more than likely, some intel agency somewhere had already done just that and had Liquid Sky on their radar because of it.
The next phase of Deckard’s operation was to find out who this retired General was that Bill was getting his contracts from. Once he had that name, he could call in the cavalry and get this job over with. In the meantime, he tried to kick back and relax. Making the hard sell didn’t work in human intelligence operations. If he came off as over eager and overplayed his hand, then Bill would figure out what his game was. He had to take his time, build rapport with each member of the team, and slowly gather each piece of the puzzle. It was frustrating, but necessary. Their odds of taking Bill alive in a direct confrontation and forcing the information out of him were slim to say the least.
Deckard just hoped he could run this charade long enough, because sooner or later, this whole house of cards was going to come crumbling down.
“Come here,” Bill said with a smile on his face.
Night had come, and with it there would of course be another party. The girls were on their way, and then everyone was going to go out dancing at some disco somewhere on the island.
“You know why you are still here, Deckard?” Bill asked him. “It is because you understand something about combat that very few even in elite units seem to get. Combat isn’t just about being technically and tactically proficient. It isn’t even a game of luck. You know what our game is?”
“Making the biggest grandstand play. That’s what you did in Manila. Threw your balls on the table and made it happen. I respect that.”
“I’m just happy to be on a team that knows how to get work done,” Deckard said playing up the bravado.
Just then the girls showed up at the front door. They all took a couple of cabs out to a night club set up inside a nearby hotel. The boys were cutting some rugs on the dance floor and everyone took turns going to the bathroom to blow lines of coke. Deckard agreed to partake, but brushed the cocaine he was given onto the floor when no one was looking.
He was getting pretty drunk on rum though. As the partying continued deep into the night, he quietly slipped out knowing that he wasn’t going to get any further intel off the guys this night. He had no desire to hang out with any of them if he didn’t have to.
Hailing a cab, he had the driver take him back to his bungalow on the coast. He paid the driver and went inside. Sitting down on his couch he began to feel something deep inside of him, something bubbling to the surface. He pushed it down.
Henderson had kept a sizable liquor cabinet above the sink. Deckard dug around until he found what he was looking for in a green bottle. Laphroaig whiskey, aged 18 years. He poured a glass and sipped it. The whiskey tasted like a burning church. He stood over the counter with his hands bracing himself over the bottle. He finished the glass and poured another one.
Before Liquid Sky, that last mission in Mexico had been rough. Deckard had been to some dark places, darker than he ever imagined existed, but Jimenez had pushed him somewhere he had never been before. When Deckard and Samruk International started putting pressure on his cartel someone struck back in the most flamboyant way possible to try to get a reaction out of Deckard, to try to get him to make mistakes. They executed an entire Christian mission, murdering the priest, the nurses, recovering drug addicts, and large number of mentally handicapped patients in cold blood.
Deckard struck back and picked apart the cartel, and later another player called The Arab. But when he caught up to Jimenez, things got ugly. Deckard not only killed him, but hacked his head off and displayed it to the surviving members of the cartel. He didn’t do it for pleasure. It served a purpose. It made for no doubt in the cartel member’s minds that their war was over and Deckard had won. They got the message and retreated.
His act might have been justified, he might have been able to explain it to himself, but it was still in the same league as the war crimes that Liquid Sky committed on a daily basis to satisfy their own petty emotional needs.
Deckard finished the glass and poured a third. Holding the whiskey bottle in his fist, he slammed it down on the counter.
“Motherfucker,” he cursed under his breath.
They were all wrapped up in this conspiracy in some way or another. He had heard the stories about SEAL Team Six back in the day when he was a para-military contractor in Afghanistan, but didn’t really know what to make of them. There was no way that he ever could have suspected that some of them were this far gone. Everyone hits that burn-out point. Scientists had found it in Special Operations soldiers, astronauts, and Olympic athletes but Deckard didn’t accept PTSD as the rationale behind the war crimes. There was more to it than that. A decision had been made, by all of them.
Deckard took the glass and walked out onto his back deck. He stood looking at the horizon for a moment.
He was no saint. He was nobody’s role model, but he had to be the one who stopped this insanity. This cancer had to be destroyed. He would burn every bridge he had, do whatever it took to make that happen. He wasn’t saving anything for the next mission. This was it.
That was when he noticed a lone form standing on the beach in front of the crashing waves. A small sarong on her hips blew in the wind. Deckard took another sip of the whiskey before setting it down and walking towards her.
“Out here all alone,” he said as came up behind her.
“You too,” Nadeesha said without moving an inch and keeping her back to him.
“Got tired of the party.”
“I’m surprised it took so long.”
“From what I hear, you are a card-carrying member of the team now.”
“So they say.”
“You saved my life. Up there on the building.”
“That is what we do.”
“Actually it isn’t. You saw how Bill and Zach bailed. Any of the others would have left me to die. That is what we do.”
“That isn’t what I do.”
Nadeesha turned to face him, her hair blowing in the wind.
“And that’s why I hate you.”
“I thought I was the loveable rogue on this team,” Deckard tried to joke.
Nadeesha closed her eyes as she shook her head, ignoring his comment.
“Fuck you. You are the worst out of any of them. I’ve seen enough of you. You’ve been to some shitty places but managed to hold it together. Not like me. Not like them.”
“You’re saying I’m not on the same page?”
“Not even close. You’re still a soldier. Where the fuck did you come from? Who are you?”
“Like you said, a soldier.”
“You don’t belong here. Going back for teammates like that.” She said it like a curse. “I saw the look in your eyes in Dubai. You came through the door to save me, not to eliminate the target. You’re not one of us. You’re a fucking boy scout.”
“I do my job. I thought that was all that mattered.”
“You can’t fake the funk forever. You’re disgusted by all this bullshit. Taking scalps, mutilating bodies, you haven’t even seen how bad it gets yet. This is nothing.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Why are you here?” She repeated.
“For a fucking paycheck. What do you care?”
Nadeesha pulled away, kicking sand with each of her footsteps. Deckard saw an opening. It was a long shot but he took it.
“It isn’t just that it is morally wrong,” he told her. “It’s unprofessional. That isn’t soldiering.”
Nadeesha spun towards him with her teeth bared.
“Unprofessional? Are you fucking kidding me Deckard? Listen to yourself. You’ve seen the same shit we have.”
Nadeesha stabbed a finger right into his chest.
“Fuck. You. When I ran intel for JSOC I used to be like you. I woke up. I was running a source, a village elder in Afghanistan. He married off his eight year old daughter to another village elder. On their wedding night he wanted to fuck her but a god damn eight year old doesn’t know shit about sex. I found out all about it after the fact.”
“She cried for hours as he tried to shove his dick in because her pussy was too small. You know what he did? He took a knife and slit up her pussy down to her asshole and up into her stomach, then fucked the bloody hole. The girl went into shock and bled out, dead the next morning with her hands clenched in front of her from saying her fucking death prayer.
“That is what we are fucking dealing with so who gives a fuck how many scalps these assholes take? Who gives a fucking shit how many heads they cut off, how many people they execute, how many dicks they cut off. With these fucking savages, nothing we do can even begin to compare!”
“Fuck you,” she snarled. “You’re the worst of all because you know better.”
She stormed off to her bungalow, leaving Deckard alone with the tide and the wind off the sea.
He stood there for a long time, just watching the waves come in and then wash back out into the ocean.
She was right. In some ways he was the worst of any of them. He had options; he could go in other directions in life. This was the life he had chosen and he would not apologize for it. He had a mission and he would complete it.
Unless he never heard the retaliation when it came.
Deckard clenched his teeth. He didn’t expect to hear it. Adrenaline surged through his system. It was going to be a fight.
Pivoting in the sand with one foot in front of the other, he brought his fists up in front of him but not fast enough.
Nadeesha’s arms circled around the back of his head as she pressed her lips to his. Her tongue went into his mouth as they kissed deeply. She let out a soft moan as he lifted her up and they both fell onto the sand.
Deckard tore the knot that held the sarong in place, then untied the laces that held the bikini in place on her hip as they kissed. Her hands tore at his pants and opened them. She reached inside and grabbed him. As he pulled her bikini bottom to the side her legs wrapped around him. They were both already short of breath.
With her heels on his hips, she drove him into her.
Deckard climaxed immediately. He could see the veins in her neck go taut as she began to shake in his arms. So had she.
He pulled away slightly and tore away her bikini top, grabbing her chest with one hand and her hair with the other. Slowly, he began grinding his hips into her. After a few moments, she was able to speak again.
“Holy shit,” she whispered. “Deckard. I’m not used to someone this big.”
She had another orgasm and her body shook again. Her arms and legs got shaky as she laid her head back in the sand. The waves were at their feet when they came together again a third time.
As the tide came in, he picked her up in his arms and carried her inside.