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Serialization of Dark Fire; Yesterday’s Tears

September 24, 2015

For those of you who have not yet gotten around to reading DFYT, good news! I’ve decided to serialize it. Reproduced below is the Prologue of the book. This will be followed in a couple of days by Chapter 1 and then every few days by each succeeding chapter (of which there are nearly 40).

Enjoy! And if you get hooked, feel free to buy the e-book or the paperback at Amazon.

 

 

DARK FIRE: YESTERDAY’S TEARS

A Novel by

David Benson

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 Copyright © 2015 by David M. Benson and Bruised Peach Productions. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

ISBN 978-0-9885815-6-2

FOR LAURA, AGAIN (AND AGAIN)


Prologue

The odds suggested that there would be a day like this, but they did not give any hint of what the mortar shell would sound like as it screamed toward you or what would go through your mind as it did.

Their unit had been at it for over a year, since her twenty-third birthday, cleaning up after failed missions or taking on the ones that could not be allowed to fail. The kind of missions you could never talk about afterwards and that, if you died performing them, your loved ones would never have the comfort of knowing how much evil you had prevented.

Most of Jane Garrison’s days were not the sort that a former high school valedictorian, cheerleader and Fulbright scholar typically graduated to. But Garrison was not typical, and even compared with the average American soldier who found herself there, her days in Afghanistan were anything but routine.

Hers was officially a non-combat unit, which would explain why women could be part of the team. But it did not explain the M4 carbine that was slung across her chest, or the Glock 19 holstered at her waist. Or, for that matter, their very specialized computer and communications gear or the MK47 grenade launchers carried by several of their number, let alone their DARPA-developed tools, most still in beta, tools that Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency leadership entrusted only to them.

The insignia on her faded camouflage uniform suggested she was a captain, but then again so did the uniforms of each of her comrades. And instead of their actual names, the name patch on each of their jackets simply read Death, written in the abjad farsi lettering understandable to most Afghanis.

Their very specialized orders were developed in a darkened room deep inside the Pentagon and delivered by encrypted e-mail, and the individual assignments were then fleshed out among themselves. No one could recall the last time they had had received a live briefing and an outsider would be challenged to figure out who among them was the team leader. And while Jane was not the youngest of them, she was not far from the oldest.

They rarely interacted with other units but when they did it was only to request support of one kind or another, requests that were never denied. They were likewise seldom asked to explain their role or at whose behest they were acting. When suppositions were made that they might somehow be aligned with Delta Force or the Rangers or Special Operations Command, perhaps even the CIA or a private defense contractor, they neither confirmed nor denied the possibility.

They were all savants of one kind or another and bringing them together had been a stroke of genius not often demonstrated by our military. They had received highly specialized training and their mission planning was unparalleled. The attention to detail was reflected in the team’s unusually high success and low casualty rates. They kept to themselves when not on a mission and traveled to their target zones in two stealth helicopters, the noise suppression aspects of which were much more highly valued than their radar evading capabilities, and their arrival was always a surprise. They were all patriots, of course, but they were committed less to what they were doing than to the manner in which they were doing it.

But despite how strongly the odds might have been stacked in their favor, how thoroughly they parsed the details, how many satellite images they and their handlers in DC studied, there were an enormous number of variables to be accounted for in each of their missions. Every member of the team knew that variables were just that, and that for any given assignment on any given day there was always one or two that could not be anticipated and accounted for, aberrations of some sort.

Such was the case early one morning as Garrison and five of her colleagues crouched outside a small, once brightly colored stucco house with peeling paint and crumbling walls while six more of their brethren entered the house and quietly took the lives of two Taliban government ministers and their security guards. Garrison should have been piloting one of the helos but it had been too long in her view since she had gotten dirty and this seemed like as good a time as any to correct that. So she had traded places with another of their half dozen pilots.

Their first step on any foray was the deployment of highly sophisticated airborne jamming equipment, capable of shutting down all forms of cell and internet services in a target area, while they were still on their approach. But today their quarry had apparently managed to get off some sort of SOS and scant minutes after their arrival a barrage of mortar fire rained down on the dusty front yard where Garrison and her comrades watched and waited while the assassins were still inside.

It was the usual imprecise, scattershot affair, but the bad guys got lucky that morning. As Garrison raced to reach cover, a round exploded directly in front of her and wreaked outrageous violence on her young, fit body.

Please let me die quickly was the last thought that went through her mind as her brethren hauled what they thought was her corpse to the helo and the pain mercifully shut down the agony.

 

***

 

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