I am finally wrapping up the Raising Hell ebook and podiobook. The death of my mother and dealing with the estate really took a toll on me. This is the final draft, unedited.
I am still looking for editors and proof readers. Anyone interested?
Anyway, I will post the prologue now and the first three chapters will be following on a weekly basis. Shooting for an ebook launch date of June 1.
As always I have to reminded everyone that the material below is protected by a creative commons, non attribution, no derivative, imported 3.0 copyright. The author reserves all rights.
"Razor base this is razor one over."
"Copy razor one, this is razor actual. Report."
"Razor actual we have secured the package. Need immediate extraction. Over.”
"Copy razor one, Fatback is hovering at 18,000 feet. ETA four minutes.”
Razor actual let out a sigh. He was damned glad that this mission was going off without a hitch. Razor One was a career black ops operator and in his experience this was a unnecessary mission. Someone somewhere decided to send troops into Iraq to recover an archeological artifact. Black ops boots had been on the ground since six weeks before the Iraq war started, doing the jobs no one wanted to do, and now that the war was allegedly over they were tasked to cleanup the mess the politicians had made.
He and his team couldn't discuss the missions that they accomplished with friends or family, living life that could be turned upside down with a 3AM telephone call. They were the anonymous operators that changed the lines on the map. They kept their triumphsand tragedies inside the small, tight, black-ops fraternity. His team specialized at securing high value targets and gathering intel. This was mission accomplished neither, and it concerned him that blood might be spilled for no good reason.
This team had been dispatched to southern Iraq, near the Saudi border. They were in old Babylon, of all places. There was no strategic reason to be there, or to recover this particular package. No ground could be gained or tactical advantage achieved. He had no idea why Razor One’s team had to hike their sorry asses all over hells half acre to get the thing, but he suspected that there was a political reason behind it.
They were after stolen artifacts. The fall of Bagdad included the sacking of its museums and antiquities, and intel had been intercepted that indicated some artifacts had been secreted to a cave. A cave in southern Iraq. There were no artifacts. There was one lone artifact found in the cave, and it had to be hauled to the surface and flown out as quietly as possible.
It was a half mile hike underground to retract the it, “it” being a sealed vase. Seven troops, a chinook helicopter and the chopper's crew were put at risk, and tens of thousands of taxpayers dollars were spent for a fucking vase.
One of the team members, Pete "Sal" Salazar laughingly called the vase Aunt Ethyl because it reminded him of the cremation urn his aunts ashes rested in. Charlie “Razor One” Jefferson did not appreciate the humor, and promptly told the team member to shut up and quit screwing around or he might be the one going home in an urn. There was a fine line between being too tight and too loose on a mission. Too tight made a soldier edgy, ready to shoot first, and ask questions later, which was frowned on by a political apparatus that saw the military as a necessary evil more then a cherished institution. Too loose and you got sloppy, a deadly state of being for any soldier.
The shooting war had been over for months, and Razor One didn't want his men to be complacent, even on a glorified smash and grab mission. Jefferson was all business when it was go time. It might be a simple mission, but It was still a mission, and one fuck up on a simple mission can undo a lot of careful planning and leave women and children with nothing but tears and a flag on the mantle to remember you by.
The lone vase was covered in symbols and ancient script and the team protected it as they would a flesh and blood asset as they moved back out of the depths of the cave. They carefully, quietly, retraced their steps upward. There was only one way in and one way out. If they had been followed or spotted they would have to fight their way out of the cave, hoping their enemy wasn't resourceful enough to plant C4 at the entrance and turn it into a tomb.
The depths of the cave kept them out of radio contact with the chopper, and they wouldn't know what awaited them until they were topside. They reached the entrance and initiated radio contact to receive the all clear from the chinook. They were almost home.
A mission was a lot like flying a plane, the landing and takeoffs were the most dangerous moments. The insertion had been easy enough, and Razor One didn’t want anything to go wrong at the extraction. He wanted to get his troops, and Aunt Ethyl, home safe and sound. He wanted to drink a beer and spend some quality time between the sheets with Mrs Razor One. Alcohol was severely frowned on in Muslim countries and Mrs Razor One was home in lovely North Carolina. He would settle for getting he and his men home without any trouble.
The team fanned out at the mouth of the cave, each taking a sector and covering their extraction. Razor one advanced from the cave and popped glow sticks to mark the LZ . Within moments the chopper landed 40 yards from the entrance, and the team moved fast, entering the big Chinook chopper , trying desperately to get in the air, denying the enemy an easy target. A stinger missile would definitely ruin Charlie Johnson's whole day. The Chinook was airborne in seconds and Razor one was glad to be boots up and in one piece.
They landed near Rijad, and handed to vase over to the intelligence boys. It was catalogued by them in careful reports and put on a transport, to be flown stateside in a diplomatic package, carried by a cultural attaché, who was a green as the come agency man. It took a connecting flight the get it to Washington, where it was to be studied at the Smithsonian.
It never arrived.
The cultural attaché was found dead in a Washington bar. The state of his body confounded investigators, and sent a quiet scare of a new bioweapon through Washington. His bare bones, which were pot marked with buckshot were all that was left for the authorities to sort through. The other patrons of the bar were also found stripped to their bones, laying face down on the floor.
The attaché had foolishly stopped for a beer at a seedy little bar he had hung out at as a student at George Washington University. Normally he would have ferried sensitive information from stop A to stop B, but this was not sensitive info, it was an archeological specimen, and no one would suffer if he was a few minutes late. His bladder was calling, and the thought of emptying it was all the incentive he needed to decide on the stop. No one would miss him for the extra few minutes it would take to stop, empty his bladder and drink a quick beer in familiar surroundings. It was lazy, and lazy was as good as dead in the intelligence business.
The bar that was robbed by a tweeker who needed cash to fuel his habit, and when the bathroom door slammed behind the junky the sound was more than enough to set him off. He was jonesing for a hit, and edgy beyond belief. The blast from the shotgun sent the greenhorn flying backward, his hands reaching for the package, his chest riddled with lead pellets. The vase fell with a crash.
In a matter of moments the bar filled with flies. Millions of flies. They blackened the room, their buzzing deafening the patrons. The junky’s shotgun began firing wildly into the blackness, each blast making an obscene strobe against the black mass of insects. The flies joined together slowly at first, then more rapidly, until they took the shape of a large man. Samyaza of the Grigori welcomed his reanimation. It had been a very long time since he had seen tasted and smelled.
He smelled fear from those surrounding him. He turned to the gun,man who was out of shells and twitching like a mad man, and then surveyed the bar, seeing the people laying face down, eyes wide in fear. The last thing they heard was the buzzing of flies as the flesh was stripped from their bones.