“Hey,” Pat said as he stood in the doorway. “What do you think of the new guys?”

“They’re good,” Deckard said. “Except for that one guy.”

“We need all the help we can get with this arctic warfare business. This is a different ballgame than we’re used to.”

“I think we ran a pretty good winter warfare course for our guys,” Deckard added. “But two weeks isn’t enough to understand how to fight in this kind of terrain. The cold and the distances add up to serious issues when it comes to maneuverability.”

Deckard finished his coffee and looked inside his mug as he set it down.

“You want the boys to brew some more coffee?” Pat asked.

“Good idea.”

“How do you like it?”

“The way I like my women.”

“Black and strong?” Pat joked.

“Ground up and in the freezer.”

“Holy shit,” Pat laughed. “It’s good to hear you joking again. You’ve been in the dumps for weeks.”

“Fuck you talking about?”

“Come on, man, it’s obvious to everyone that something is bothering you.”

“Shit,” Deckard trailed off. “I guess I’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve been doing here.”

Preview: Gray Matter Splatter, a Deckard Novel

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“This oil security contract?”

“No, the whole thing. Our entire careers.”

“I know that last one was rough,” Pat said making a statement rather than asking a question.

“If even our own guys are sinking to these depths, then yeah, it makes you wonder what the hell all of this is for,” Deckard said, referring to his last mission.

Deckard had gotten on the trail of a very dangerous group of former SEAL Team Six operators known as Liquid Sky. They were cold-blooded killers. Samruk International put them out of business once and for all in the killing fields of Syria six months ago. Deckard had recovered from that mission—physically, at least.

“You know just as well as I do that those guys are outliers,” Pat warned. “Crazies who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. That’s not who we are.”

“Then who are we, Pat? We’re the guys who spent the last 15 years landing helicopters on rooftops and shooting dirt farmers in the face, as if that is even that difficult. What the fuck for? It hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We haven’t made any progress and there is no victory.”

“That’s bullshit, Deckard. Especially in this company. We’ve gone toe to toe with some evil motherfuckers and walked away from it. Even our own kind when they stepped out of line. I know you didn’t expect a ticker-tape parade.”

“Of course not, but….” Deckard trailed off.

“You of all people should know better, Deckard. With Samruk International, we took no shit. We got right down in the mud with the nastiest people out there and gave them the business. Stop this self-loathing bullshit. You’re not a pussy, so don’t act like one.”

“I’m not throwing in the towel, Pat, it’s just that—”


“I don’t know what to believe anymore.”