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Part 1

Benny Ray Riddle’s Apartment
Hermosa Beach, California
0800 hours

The loud buzzing of the alarm woke Benny Ray from a sound sleep. He rolled over and hit the top of it until it turned off, being careful of the cast still on his arm. ‘Only two more weeks until I get this thing off,’ he thought, trying to remember why he was getting up so early.

After getting dressed, which took twice as long as usual one-armed, Benny
Ray headed into the kitchen to get breakfast. He saw the reminder for the
x-ray appointment sitting by the phone. ‘Riddle, you’re losing it.’ The
news was running the usual stories about car wrecks, murders, and what local politicians had done over the weekend. Benny Ray half listened until one
story caught his attention.

"Our continuing coverage of the latest hostage situation in Iraq continues
with our Saudi Arabian correspondent, Heather Sanderson."

"Thank you, Andrew. Here in Riyadh, the capital, is the closest we can get
to a potentially explosive situation. Reports are that three journalists in an
unarmed helicopter were shot down on the Iraqi side of the No-Fly Zone.
The Iraqis are claiming that they are American spies and that they are to be
executed in two weeks time, after a trial. The United States government has
been working through the UN and diplomatic channels to obtain the release
of the journalists. No outside sources have been able to confirm the condition
of the prisoners or even if they are still alive. This is Heather Sanderson, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."

Benny Ray shook his head and went back into the kitchen to clean up. A
knock on the door interrupted him. The sniper went over and opened it,
finding Matthew Shepherd on the other side.

"Well, g’mornin Boss. What’re you doin’ out so early."

"That’s what I needed to talk about. How’s the arm?" Matt asked.

"Doing much better. Rico says I need a few more weeks and I’ll be good to
go. Now what’s going on?"

Matt sat down on the couch, looking out through the balcony doors at the
ocean. "Look, I don’t know how to say this, but..."

"Major, I’ve been watching the news. It’s the hostage thing right? Trout
gave you a call." Benny Ray fixed his intense gaze on Matt.

"Yes he did. As you probably know they’re not journalists."

"When do you leave?"

"Now. I wanted to tell you personally." Matt struggled for words. He
hated telling any one of his team members that they had to be left behind.
But Benny Ray was in no shape to go on a mission. The sniper clearly knew
that, and wasn’t upset, but Matt knew it would bother him to not go. The
team was that close, they had gone through so much, that it wasn’t natural
for them all to not be there.

"You set on hardware?"

"Yup. Margo has a contact there." Matt paused and said something into his

"What’s that?"

"Nothing...hang on a sec."

Benny Ray turned as he heard the door open. CJ  Yates and Chance Walker
stepped in.

"Hey, nice joint." CJ looked around.

Chance grabbed Benny Ray in a bear hug, being careful of the sniper’s arm.
"Damn good to see you again, amigo!" Benny Ray said, a wide grin on his

"Yeah, well, the Major thought he could use the backup, and it’s the rainy
season in Hawaii."

"Sorry we don’t have time to stay longer," Matt said. "There’ll be plenty
of time to visit when we get back. Our flight leaves in an hour."

"No problem. Watch yourselves." Benny Ray closed the door behind them,
then went over to the window in the kitchen. He watched the Suburban pull
away down the street, staying there long after it had disappeared.

* * * * * * * * * *
Part 2

Iraqi Desert
0200 hours local

The team moved in on the low concrete building. It was poorly lit, and had
shadows everywhere. They were outfitted for a night op and were all but
invisible in the dark. CJ couldn’t help but think this looked too easy. He didn’t
say so aloud, concentrating instead on laying the explosives.

"We go on my mark, three, two..."

They moved in rapidly, CJ blowing the doors. He had the diversion ready
for their escape. Two guards sat just inside the door, smoking. They were
quickly dealt with. Proceeding down a steep set of stairs the team found
themselves in a darkened room. Going to night vision, Matt could see cells
lining the walls. A voice called something out, but was quickly cut off.

Suddenly, bright lights came on overhead. Another voice called for them to
drop their weapons. When the spots cleared from Matt’s vision, he found
themselves surrounded by soldiers holding sub-machine guns.

"It was a setup!" Chance growled.

"Drop ‘em people. There’s nothing we can do," Matt whispered.

There was a brief struggle from the top of the stairs, and Nick was dragged
down by two of the guards. He was only half conscious, and bleeding from a
head wound. Matt started forward but was stopped when a handgun was pressed to his head.

"Best you do not move, American," a harsh voice snapped.

Coronado Naval Hospital
1655 hours

"That’s great. One more set and you’re done for today," Rico said.

Benny Ray laughed. "Best news I’ve heard so far, compadre."

Trout watched through the window in the office room. He sighed, not looking forward to what he had to do, and opened the door. "Rico, I need to have a
word with Benny Ray. If it’s okay with you."

"Sure. Do all twenty, no cheating."

"Yes, sir!" The smile on Benny Ray’s face disappeared when he saw Trout.
"Spill it. What happened?"

"I don’t really know how to tell you. Matt and the others were taken prisoner. The Iraqis were waiting for them. I’m sorry, Benny Ray."

Benny Ray put the weight he had been working with on the floor. His eyes
never left Trout’s. "What? How did they find out?"

"I don’t know. I’ll find out..."

"And when you do, I want to know. When are we getting them out?"

"We’re not."

"Come again?"

"It’s just the way things are. I regret it too, but we can’t risk an international incident. Matt knew the risks. The government will deny it ever knew of them."

It was a few moments before Benny Ray said anything. He couldn’t believe
what he was hearing. "You regret it? Is that all? We can’t just hang them out to dry, if that was you, the Major would be the first one on a plane, you know that!"

"I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do."

"Everybody comes home. Matt knows that, he knows if something goes wrong someone’ll pull him out." Benny Ray spoke in a low, dangerous tone. "And that someone’s me. Soon as I get this cast off, I’m going for him. I owe him, big time. We don’t leave our own behind, you know that."

"Out of the question. I hate to do this but I will place you in protective custody if you make a move. We can’t risk it."

"Is that a threat? Because if it is..."

"Take it easy, Mr. Riddle. I can’t allow you to take any action."

"You just deny you even heard of me. Like you’re doing to the Major."

Trout’s eyes narrowed. "I don’t deserve that. You know I’d try if I could. My hands are tied."

"Mine aren’t. I’m going, and if you want to try and stop me be my guest!"
Benny Ray turned his back and walked off, shutting the door behind him.

* * * * * * * * * *
Part 3

The Silver Star
1800 hours

Rico carried the bags of takeout from the Chinese restaurant, waving hello to Debbie. He headed down to the basement, surprised to find the sniper not there. He expected Benny Ray to be cleaning one of his weapons, as he often did so when he needed to think or unwind. Thinking Debbie would have seen where Benny Ray had gone, Rico left the food on the counter and went back upstairs.

"Debbie, did you see Benny Ray leave?"

"Yup, sure did. He headed down to the beach, said he’d be back in a little while."

"Thanks." Rico went out the door, noting the van sitting down the street as being out of place. It had been there since he had gone to the restaurant. A little long if they’re just waiting for someone, he thought. The sun was setting, and it would be dark soon. Rico scanned the beach, checking the volleyball courts in case Benny Ray had gone to watch. Nothing. He headed toward the rock jetty, thinking that maybe his friend had gone for a walk. Rico climbed the rocks, and spotted the sniper sitting on one at the end of the jetty, staring out over the ocean.

"Want some company?" Rico asked, carefully making his way over the wet, slippery rocks.

Benny Ray turned to see who it was. "Hey. Sorry to disappear on you. I
needed to think and this is a good place to do it."

"Any word on the major yet?"

"No. And somehow I don’t think there’s gonna be. Two weeks and I’m gone. Trout’s already having me followed. I’m going to go get them."

"Not you. Us." Rico looked at the sniper. "Like you said, we don’t leave
our own behind."

"Thanks, amigo."

"I’ve got dinner back at the Silver Star. We have our work cut out for us."

"Don’t I know it. If you need cash, get it now. The last time, remember,
Trout froze the accounts. I know Major Shepherd created a secret account in the event that happened again, so money won’t be a problem but I don’t want to use it unless we have to."

"Understood. We’re gonna need more than just the two of us. Busting into a prison with only two people..." Rico stopped talking as they entered the bar, waiting until they were safely downstairs to continue. "It's going to be next to impossible."

"You know anybody?"

Rico shook his head. "I dunno. We’ll need intel, transportation, the works."

Benny Ray thought for a minute. He looked at Rico. "I know one person."



Iraqi Desert
1215 hours

Matt shifted restlessly on the small cot. He had already been over the
cell a dozen times. Nothing at all to use as a weapon. They had been
searched and dressed in prison uniforms, so Chance’s hidden lock picks
and garrote were gone. The others were sleeping. So far, nobody had been interrogated, although Matt wasn’t holding his breath that it would stay
that way. He looked over at the cell next to him. Nick was in it, and was
delirious from fever caused by his wounds. The New Yorker would start
talking about anything, and it hadn’t taken the guards long to pick up on
the accent. Matt knew that it wouldn’t have made a difference, their
captors would have said they were Americans anyway.

The door slammed, and Ahmad Kassem entered with two of the guards. He
indicated Matt’s cell. "I think we will have a little talk, American."

Matt met the other man’s look evenly. "My people need a doctor."

"Why? After your trial, you will be executed regardless. However, we
could possibly spare your lives if you are cooperative. Your government
denies they know anything about you. They say you are all mercenaries.
Mercenaries! No honor. You all are cowards. I will find out why you are
here, Major Matthew Shepherd." He laughed at the surprised look on Matt’s
face. "Yes, I know your names. Your files were easy to get, for the right
price. But you are missing someone, yes. A Benny Ray Riddle."

"Sorry, I don’t know who that is."

"Oh, you do. Why not cooperate? It will be a lot easier if you do. There
are ways to make you talk. Everyone talks. It is only a matter of time."

The White House
Washington, D.C.
1400 hours local

"I regret that this had to happen. We do have our own extremists in this
country. They apparently decided to execute their own rescue operation.
Let me assure you, they are mercenaries, operating without the sanction of
this government. We have never had any business with these people, and have never heard of them until they were captured. Now, I would like to discuss the release of the journalists..."

Trout waited impatiently outside of the secretary’s office. The receptionist had only said that he was on the phone. Trout was hoping to get some leads on tracking down the leak. He was sure that it was the same person involved in past problems. It needed to be stopped, fast. The cell phone interrupted his thoughts.


"The subject just loaded some equipment into the truck. I suggest we take
him into custody now."

"I was afraid of this. Do it." Trout sighed as he hung up the phone. He had known Benny Ray wouldn’t sit still while his team was being held prisoner, but there really was no other way.

* * * * * * * * * *
Part 4

Hermosa Beach
1100 hours

The leader of the surveillance team turned off his phone. "We’re a go. Be careful people, he’s not going to be too happy with us."

Benny Ray started his Dodge pickup and turned up the radio. Driving
one-handed had been a challenge, but he was used to it by now. The sniper had no idea of how to track down Drummer. He had looked through Margo’s files as best he could, but had found nothing. It was a problem, but he had contacts of his own through the retired Marine NCO’s association. Maybe somebody had heard or seen the ex-SEAL.

He started to pull out of the bar’s empty parking lot when the van pulled in front of him, blocking the exit. ‘Trout,’ he thought. Benny Ray pulled the truck into a left turn, heading for the other exit at the back of the lot. Another car was ready there, cutting him off. He turned off the engine and got out, reaching for the holstered Glock as he did so. Seeing the others move to prevent him from going back inside the building, he backed up against the truck, using it for cover.

"Take it easy, Mr. Riddle. Trout sent us. I don’t want anybody to get hurt."

"Neither do I. Now step aside."

"I can’t do that. Put your weapon down. This is for your own good."

Benny Ray said nothing, the weapon never moving.

Charlie, the team leader, sighed. He knew the sniper wouldn’t fire, but neither would he back down. "Okay, Mac, take him down."

Mac nodded, shooting a dart into Benny Ray’s shoulder. Benny Ray whipped around, leading with the Glock, but his legs were already wobbly. He collapsed on the ground, trying once to get up before the sedative took effect.

"Get him into the van. Someone’ll come by and take the truck back to his apartment. We’ll continue to monitor the second subject for now."

1300 hours

Benny Ray woke up slowly. His head was pounding and waves of nausea hit as soon as he tried to stand up. Giving up on that for the time being, he laid back down on the couch, looking groggily at the man and woman who had entered the room.

"Good to see you awake. I’m Charlie, and this is Rebecca. I know you’re probably wondering what you’re doing here, and I’ll try to answer all your questions. Trout wanted to make sure you stayed in a safe spot until the situation is resolved. He didn’t tell us any more than that."

Rebecca took over. "You’ll be escorted to all doctor’s appointments, therapy, and any other medical related places. Other than that, you will stay here with us. I’m sorry, but it is necessary."

Benny Ray said nothing, continuing to watch them from the sofa. He realized that they had told him all they knew. Trout would not have told them the whole story. He also knew that getting out would probably be relatively simple.

"Now we know you will try to leave," Charlie said. He had noticed the sniper eyeing the windows. "So we took the precaution of using a monitoring device."

Benny Ray looked at him. "What?"

"It’s the same system used to monitor prisoners on parole. It tells where you are, when you are supposed to be there, and will set off an alarm if there is any deviation. It’s not in widespread use yet, but has proven quite effective." Rebecca explained. "That’s what the band around your ankle is."

Benny Ray sat up and looked for himself. It would take time, but he would escape. He knew how to wait.

One week later

Rico finished signing the forms stating that Benny Ray was finished therapy. The sniper waited quietly for him to finish. They had closed the door to Rico’s office on the basis of doctor-patient confidentiality. Benny Ray’s escort was outside.

"Okay, here’s the deal. I got in touch with some members of the SEAL
community. Drummer is in the Bahamas. Nassau, I think. He’s taken up
recreational diving. All we have to do is get in touch with him and the number’s right here." Rico handed Benny Ray the slip of paper. "You can go ahead and call from here. Don’t forget to see if he has any ideas to get rid of that monitor. I’ll schedule you for a follow up in a few days. I’ve got the feeling we’re running out of time."

"Understood." Benny Ray picked up the phone and dialed.

"What do you want?" Drummer’s familiar, if somewhat grouchy, voice answered.


"Yeah, it’s me. Benny Ray?"

"Yeah. Listen, I don’t have a lot of time. We need your help."

"Really. Well, the answer’s no. I’m enjoying my retirement too much."

"Sorry amigo, I can’t take no for an answer." Benny Ray explained the situation in a few brief sentences. "We’re going to need at least two more people. I’d rather one of them be you."

"Why didn’t you go?" Drummer heard a loud knocking on the other end.

"Listen, I gotta go. Trout’s having some people keep an eye on me. They’re using one of those parole monitoring things. Rico’ll call you back, see if you can find out ways to get it off."

"Okay, okay, I’m in. I’ll see what I can do about both problems."

"Preciate it amigo." Benny Ray hung up. "He’s in."

Rico opened the door. "Is there a problem?"

"We need to get going. Are you done?"

"Going where?" Benny Ray looked at them suspiciously.

"We’re expecting Trout to call in an hour."

Benny Ray didn’t have to say anything. The look on his face said exactly what he thought of Trout at the moment.

"Take it easy," Rico said.


Trout’s Office
The Pentagon
1500 hours

"It’s controlled information. We give the suspects the same story, with minor differences. When the Iraqis call back with the info, we will know exactly who told them."

"They know about the team. The last time they called they dropped some names and that was enough. I have lots of people asking questions. We have to plug this leak now." Trout sighed. He was at the end of his rope.

"What should we tell them?"

"We’ll have to use Benny Ray. Their negotiator, a man called al-Hassan,
will call again asking that we give in to their demands to lift the sanctions. I’ll want proof that he really has who he says he does. Tell him that there is a missing team member. If he knows who it is ask him to prove it. Make sure we stick to the mercenary story. No point in confirming what they think. Ask for the number of unconfirmed kills Benny Ray has made, if he gives the right name. We’ll give a different number, off by one, to each suspect. If my theory is correct, the leak will give him the information about Benny Ray. All of the suspects will be told, in private, about the plan to confirm the prisoners and who’s missing. The only thing that will differ is what we just talked about."

"Right. This will work. We should have it taken care of within two days."

"I’ll hold you to that."

* * * * * * * * * *
Part 5

The Iraqi Desert
1545 hours

Margo looked at the tray the guard had pushed under the cell door. Nothing
on it was recognizable as food, at least food that she had eaten before. There was some sort of soup in a thin broth. Something floated in it. She sighed. So far, they had only taken Matt out for interrogation. She couldn’t help but worry, knowing that deep down, she still cared for him, although she would not admit it, even to herself.

"Are you going to eat that?" The man in the cell next to hers had already
finished his. The three of them had all sustained minor injuries in the
crash. One man had a broken leg.

"I’m going to try," she replied, with a smile.

"Well, it was nice of you to try to get us out. I don’t think the network will be too happy when we get back. We were supposed to get a story, not get captured."

"Uh-huh." Margo knew that couldn’t be farther from the truth. "Well, we go where we get paid to." She was sticking to the cover story the group had decided on before leaving. In agreement with what Trout was saying, they were mercenaries, hired by an anonymous citizen. The money was in place to support that, if the Iraqis wanted to, it could be checked.

"They sent mercenaries?" He looked at her.

"You do your job, we have ours. No comment."

"Sorry. I’m not used to stuff like this. My name’s Gerry. From CBS. The
guy with the brown hair’s our cameraman, Duke. And the guy with the busted leg is Jonny. He’s the field producer."

"How’s he doing? The leg isn’t too bad, is it?"

"I don’t know. We don’t have a doctor with us."

Nick, who was next to Matt’s now empty cell, had been listening. "I don’t feel so good, Margo."

"Hang in there. We’ll be out of here soon."

Chance, who was closest to the door, signaled for them all to be quiet. He
had assigned himself as a lookout for the guards.

Matt was dumped unceremoniously back into his cell. The guards left, slamming the door behind them.

"Yo, major!" Chance waited, but got no response. "You think they used drugs?"
"They haven’t, yet," Gerry said. "My guess is they don’t care what info
they get. They just want the publicity. We have a court date in two weeks, in case you forgot."

"Yeah, right." Chance sighed. "A fair trial for everyone."

The Safehouse
1600 hours

The phone rang. Benny Ray, who was sitting on the couch reading the paper, ignored it. Rebecca came in and picked it up.

"How are things?" Trout asked.

"Fine. He hasn’t said more than ten words since we got here."

"It shouldn’t be too much longer. I need to talk with him."

Rebecca turned to hand the phone to Benny Ray. The couch was empty. She walked into the kitchen, only to see the monitoring device lying on the table. The sniper was gone.

Hal’s Shooting Range
Outside Hermosa Beach, California
1800 hours

"We’re closed!" The person doing the yelling sounded annoyed.

"Hal, it’s Benny Ray."

"Oh, why didn’t you say so." The range’s owner unlocked the door to let the sniper in.

"I have a problem. There’s gonna be some people looking for me." Benny
Ray set his rifle case down at his feet. He had stopped at the Silver Star long enough to grab equipment and the Remington. He had taken three cabs, remembering something Margo had told him about losing surveillance. Both
the truck and the Big Dog would be too obvious.

"What did you do this time?" Hal, a balding man in his sixties, had opened
the range when he had left the Marine Corps. He had been a sniper during
Vietnam and had met Benny Ray when the younger man had been an instructor for the LAPD.

"Not something I did, amigo. It’s sorta a long story."

"Well, get your stuff in the truck. I got room at my place. You can fill me in on the way."

* * * * * * * * * *

Part 6

Trout’s office
The Pentagon
1605 hours

"What do you mean he’s gone?! How can he just walk out without nobody
seeing anything?" Trout listened for a minute. "I thought you had the keys
secured. Never mind. I’ll find him."

Trout made a second call.


"Deke, I have a problem."

Route 66
Somewhere in New Mexico
0300 hours

Benny Ray watched the road, realizing that the yellow line was starting to
blur. Coffee had no effect any more, only the determination to get their
teammates back was keeping the two of them going. They were in Hal’s old VW
Rabbit driving cross-country to Florida where a plane would be waiting to take them to Drummer. Rico was curled up in the backseat, sleeping. They were rotating driving in three hour shifts. With no time to stop at a
motel, they were driving straight through, all the way, a five day trip. Or
shorter, at least the way Rico drove.

A blinking sign up ahead announced a truck stop. Benny Ray pulled in, paying cash for gas, food, and more coffee. Rico didn’t wake up.

"Today’s papers come in yet?"

"Yup. That’ll be fifty cents." The bored attendant handed over the paper.

Benny Ray scanned the cover, finding no more news on the hostage situation. At least that was what the papers were calling it. ‘Hang in there, Major. We’re coming.’

The Iraqi Desert
0200 hours

Matt woke up, somehow managing to get to his feet. He looked around,
seeing that everyone else was sleeping, except for Chance, who was sitting
silently with his eyes closed. Matt was sure some of his ribs were broken.
Nothing moved in the room except a couple of rats scrounging for scraps.
They hadn’t really asked any questions, demanding instead that Matt admit he
was a spy. Saying nothing, Matt had quietly endured everything. He was
protecting his people the only way he could; by getting them to focus only
on him, they were being left alone.


"Hey. How’re you doing?"

"Fine." Chance looked at Matt, then looked pointedly at the door.

Matt shook his head no. They had no ideas for escape and nothing to use to
help them get out. The only chance would come if they were transported
somewhere, but Jonny would have to be carried. Walking would be next to
impossible because of his broken leg. All they could do was wait.


"You will comply with our requests. My superiors will execute your American spies on television." Al-hassan was yelling.

"How do I know you even have them? They could be dead already. I’m under a lot of pressure here from CBS to get their reporters back."

"I’m sure. We have all four of your ‘rescue’ team."

"You’re lying." The secretary was reluctant to push the diplomat, but Trout waved for him to go on. "There is something missing."

"Yes, Benny Ray Riddle. I know he has worked with your, shall I say,
mercenaries before."

"Anyone could know that."

"Yes, but not everyone could know this." Al-Hassan looked at the paper in
front of him. The number of unconfirmed kills was written on it, given to
him from his source in Washington. It had cost him, but it was worth it.

The secretary handed the number, written on a slip of paper, to Trout. He
looked at it and pulled out his cell phone. "I have our leak. Take care of

The Motor On Inn
South Florida
2040 hours

"If I even see the inside of another car..." Rico trailed off as they
approached the motel. The front sign was half falling off. It looked like
Drummer’s type of place.

Benny Ray motioned for Rico to be quiet. He headed around to the back of
the building, stopping dead in his tracks when he heard the familiar sound
of a safety being clicked off.

* * * * * * * * * *

Part 7

Drummer lowered the pistol as soon as he saw who it was. "Glad you finally
made it."

Benny Ray turned around. "Yeah. Rico, it’s clear."

The spotter emerged from the clump of shrubs where he had been covering
Benny Ray. Drummer smiled. "You two want to fill me in on what happened? I have a plane, we’ll go back to Nassau. I know a guy there who’ll get me whatever else we need."

"I think I know where I can get us some info." Benny Ray followed the
others back to the car.

"Don’t talk too long." Drummer passed over his cell phone.

"Speak to me."

"Deke, Benny Ray."

"Well, if it ain’t the man of the hour. Lotsa people interested in finding you. Trout called me a few days ago."

"Yeah. He tell you what’s goin’ on?"

"No, just that you’re getting ready to start a war."

Benny Ray sighed. "That’s not it. We’re not gonna start anything, just get our people back. I need intel. If it’s a no-go, just tell me now."

"What for?"

"The Major and the others are in Iraq. I need to know where."

"That whole thing on TV? Sure thing, Benny Ray. Need some backup?"

"It would be appreciated. Trout’s not gonna be too happy."

"Big deal. You didn’t worry about that, neither will I. Where can I meet

Nassau, Bahamas
1100 hours

Drummer opened the door, finding a very tall, green-haired man standing on
the other side. "This your intel source, Riddle?"

"Hey Deke," Rico called from the kitchen.

"I got all of it. Names, locations, and where they’re going to hold the
execution. We have to get going. It’s next week. On Tuesday." Deke held up airline passes. "Here’s our ride."

Drummer didn’t move. "This guy for real?"

"As real as you can get, baby."

Benny Ray stopped Drummer from taking a swing at Deke for the ‘baby’
comment. "Don’t worry, amigo. He’s for real. Thanks Deke. I owe ya one, again." The sniper hadn’t forgotten Deke’s help when his son had been

"One problem. Are the three of us going to be enough?" Rico looked around at the small group.

"I got that covered. They’ll be over in an hour. Then we’re outta here."
Drummer headed into the bedroom to get the rest of their equipment together.

The Iraqi Desert
1800 hours

"You are a spy. Admit it now and save yourself the trouble."

"You want me to talk?" Nick looked at Kassem from inside his cell.

"I think you’re going to regret that," Margo said.

"Silence! Talk now. If you do not, we have ways to…"

"Do you hear that? He wants me to talk." Nick was grinning.

CJ groaned. "That’s a really bad idea Do it in another room, for my

"Talk! You are a spy."

"If you say so. So when I was born my mom already had a few kids. I kinda
got the short end of the stick. So I found out if I talked about stuff, my
family would go crazy. One time, my friend Buddy and I went to Papa
Lucino’s after school to get pizza. He wanted mushroom, but this girl had
gotten the last slice. He had a crush on her the whole year. So he goes
over and asks if they can share."

Hassem looked very confused. He started to say something but Nick just
told him to shut it, I’m not done yet.

"She says, okay, I’ll share, and then crams the slice down the front of his
shirt. The yearbook got a picture of it and everything. Hey, did I tell

Over the Atlantic

"Here’s the prison diagrams. They are most likely being held in the
basement, but we can confirm that when we get there." Deke handed around the papers.

Drummer had recruited two of his fellow scuba instructors. Both retired
Navy, for different reasons, they had jumped at the chance to help. Nate
Masolino was a demo expert. He had brought his own gear, borrowed from the salvage business he ran in addition to the scuba school. Greg Phillips was also a medic. He and Rico were going through their gear, making a list of what they might need for any injured prisoners. They had gone through medic training together before being assigned to different units.

"If we hit the place in the middle of the night, they’ll be tired. It should be easy enough to cut electricity. Since it’s the middle of the desert, that probably has happened at one time or another. Deke, you can get us a chopper for the exfil, right?"

"Sure thing, Drummer. My contact in Saudi Arabia can help us out. If the
crew carries their own fuel for the return trip, we can meet them away from
the base. They’ll refuel and dump the drums. Weight won’t be a problem if
they trade the fuel for people. I’ll talk to the pilots when we land."

"Benny Ray, one thing. I know Matt likes to use the non-lethal option.
What’re we going to do?" Drummer looked at the sniper.

"The Major usually has a good reason for doing that but we’re not going to
have the time. Quick and fast. We need to be in and out ASAP."

"That’s why we’re not using American weapons. They can’t trace it, and
these are trained people we’re dealing with. I agree, non-lethal just won’twork this time," Phillips said.

Drummer nodded.

The Prison
1900 hours

Matt tried to see under his blindfold. Nothing.

"I have someone here who would like to say hello."

"Matt, don’t tell them any-" Margo’s voice was cut off.

"You see, I have ways to make everyone talk." Hassem spun the cylinder on his revolver. "This has one bullet in it. Russian roulette, they call it.
Talk, or I pull the trigger."

"No!" Matt couldn’t say anything. Margo’s words echoed in his head.
‘Don’t tell them anything...’

He heard a dry click as Hassem pulled the trigger. "Every ten seconds I
pull it. You have little time, Matt."

Matt struggled against the ropes holding him to the chair.

"I am pulling the trigger." The revolver went off with a loud report.

Matt yelled Margo’s name as he was dragged from the room. He received no reply.

* * * * * * * * * *

continued on next page with Parts 8 thru 14

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