Prologue & First Chapter
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © 2017 G. Allen Mercer
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Again, this book is a work of fiction, and is also not an official guide to being prepared for emergency situations, or how to safely handle any type of weapon. Don’t text and drive and don’t video chat the Pentagon and drive…its dangerous!
Cover design and text by G. Allen Mercer.
“Real treasures are the joys of experience that compose the story of our life. Never let someone steal those treasures from you!” - G.A. Mercer
--The last few minutes of Collapsing World – Kill Zone –
“We have a bird landing in the field!” Clark reported, his voice horse from yelling. “They’re offloading troops.” His trigger finger pulled as rapidly as he could in an attempt to drop the soldiers before they could put their boots on American soil. Three of the troops dodged his fire, and ran towards the barn. “Shit!” Clark hit one of the men from a hundred yards; his body tumbling to the ground, but he lost sight of the other two. “Damn it, they’re getting through!”
“We’ve got to hold them!” Dukes reacted, scarcely audible over the constant sound of warfare.
“Bastard,” Clark uttered, ignoring Dukes. His focus turning to the pilots of the helicopter, before it lifted. Clark filled the bird’s windshield with 7.62 armor piercing rounds, eviscerating the two pilots just as the bird was rotating off the ground.
With no control, the helicopter veered sharply and then nosed over completely, slamming into the barn. The explosion shook the ground, and washed the area in yellow and orange light. “No!” The barn was awash in a ball of flame.
“Dad! They’re almost at the house!” Penny yelled, panic filling her voice.
Clark turned from the destruction of the barn and back towards Penny’s location; the enemy was swarming her. He shot one soldier trying to climb up to her tree stand, but there were too many. He couldn’t do anything more, but just kept shooting.
“Specialist Clark, this is the United States Air Force C-130 Long Runner over your position, can we be of service?” Clark heard across his radio. He had no clue how he was hearing them on the citizen band radio. “We are broadcasting on channel 25 per Senior Airman Perez at the Pentagon. Over,” The pilot reported.
“Long Runner, this is Specialist Clark; hell yes you can help! We’re heavily engaged with the Chinese army. There’s a structure, a house, which is under our command, but is on the verge of being breached. There are children in the house. We have four snipers in heavily camouflaged tree stands. Anybody else moving is the enemy. Over.”
“There’s no way for us to confirm our targets from this angle. We can hit the area, but you need to be in cover that we can read. Confirm. Over.”
“Clark, this is Dukes. Before sealing the hatch on your stand, light the flare in the box and put it on top of the box, that’ll mark us for them! Penny, you do the same! Over,” Dukes ordered, seemingly to have thought of everything.
Penny was too busy to respond and ready to use the last weapon at her disposal, a remotely detonated IED. She put her empty rifle down and pushed her fear aside. With the flip of a switch, she engaged her detonator, igniting an IED filled with 500 ball bearings; the explosion of shrapnel and steel shredded the soldiers below her stand, causing instant death. She then lit her flare, tossed it on top of the structure and closed herself in. “I’m out of ammo, but the flare’s up, and I’m secure for now! Over.”
Clark watched the bloodbath happen at the base of Penny’s stand from his location. “Good girl,” he whispered and then put his flare on top of his enclosure and closed himself in the box. The action immediately exposed his position and he could feel multiple rounds pinging off of the box.
“This is Dukes, my flare is up, over.”
“This is Ed,” a very weak voice spoke. “My flare is up but the box is shredded and I’m hurt. Over.”
“Ed, we’re coming to get you,” Clark yelled on the radio. “Just hold on! Long Runner, this is Clark, you should have visual on four flares? Over.”
“Specialist Clark, this is Long Runner, affirmative. We have visual on four flares. Over.”
“Dukes, Penny, and Ed duck and cover.” Clark warned. “Over.”
“Holy shit, roger that,” Penny acknowledged.
“Roger, that,” Dukes reported.
“Roger, that,” Ed groaned.
“Long Runner, this is Specialist Clark, rain hell on these sons of bitches! Over.”
“Specialist Clark, this is Long Runner, commencing firing run. God speed! Over.”
Colonel Horn held the strap tethering him to the safety of the helicopter. The rotor wash felt good against the Southern heat and humidity, as he leaned out of the door of the Army Blackhawk. With a heavy heart, he looked at the lake homes as they zipped by, wishing that life had been as he planned. If so, his wife would still be alive, and for retirement, they would have bought one of the houses on this very lake. But, life, as so often is the case, had more sinister plans in mind.
"Sir, we're coming up on the farm now," the pilot informed his commander, over the intercom.
"Copy that,” Horn acknowledged, tucking the feeble thoughts away in a corner of his mind.
The pilot circled the area looking for a place to set down. Horn studied the surroundings around the main house from the air; and was amazed that anyone had survived. He had nearly thirty years of experience commanding troops, and he had seen his share of war zones, but to see the results of war on American soil turned his stomach. This was the first record of enemy troops engaging Americans in close proximity combat, and from what he knew, it was a victory for the good guys.
The battle had happened 36 hours earlier, which was plenty of time to receive a briefing by the Pentagon on the results of the engagement. The outcome gave Horn hope for the resolve of America, and American's as defenders of their own homeland.
As the bird descended, Horn could clearly see the civilian built sniper towers; once fully camouflaged, they now stood out as square lollipops in a land of straight branchless trees. Along the dirt roads, he could see where blood had mixed with red clay, marking the place where bodies had been cut down. It was the work of the snipers, with the air cover from the mighty Hercules C130 that had made this victory possible.
Before departing, Horn had read the Pentagon's work up on the three military men involved with the battle. He discussed the men with Admiral Faulk, the acting head of the Joint Chiefs. They both agreed that all three of the men were complete oddities, and by conventional warfare, should have failed; but they didn't.
"All three served, or currently serve their country, and all three were lone survivalist in their own right," Admiral Faulk said, on the video link to his commander in Georgia. “At least according to their files.”
Horn had suspected as much. He knew that for a leader to become a great leader they had to embrace their individuality, their creativity to solve problems and their ability to survive. Horn was famous for spotting true creativity in people and trying to get them to use it to their advantage. He was also famous for quoting one of his favorite men from history, Albert Einstein, who said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Two out of the three traits, creativity and individuality, were counter to what the military tried to squeeze out of its soldiers, obedience. It was Horn’s theory that in order to achieve the third trait, survival, you had to embrace the other two. Horn was a student of warfare, tactics and especially the psyche of the modern soldier. He knew that a soldier with pure grit and a bit of luck was enough for an individual to survive without the support of the military structure. But, it took a real creative individual to survive when there is no support and the odds are stacked against them. Apparently, the three men in the house below were examples of Horn’s theory. He wondered how he could use that to his advantage?
The giant green bird touched down in the field, its rotor wash whipping the tall grass back and forth like a high school cheerleader's pom-pom. Horn stepped off before the pilot gave him the all clear, and he walked towards the closest exposed sniper box. A small squad of soldiers deployed from the helicopter behind him, fanning out along the field. He walked with a purpose, armed only with a side arm.
From the ground, Horn could see the firing lines that were afforded the sniper in the closest box. He stopped, and pivoted, looking down the other firing line. From that vantage point he could see the remains of a helicopter sticking out of a half burned barn. His eyes drifted back to his own bird, it was in the exact same place as the enemy one had been two days earlier.
"Smart son-of-a-bitch, this one," he mumbled to himself.
As he walked further, he saw two individuals step out of the shadows of the chewed up forest, and walk forward to meet him. He was sure that there were snipers watching him. "I'd do that," he admitted, noting the earth that he walked over was stained dark with more blood than he had spotted from the air. "I'd definitely do that."
"Do you know him?" Dukes asked, his voice quiet enough so that only Clark could hear him.
"No. Never heard of him until yesterday. Why, do you know him?"
"We met at a Veteran's Day service in Atlanta a few years ago. He had just taken the post to head the Georgia Guard, and he was the keynote speaker."
"Oh," Clark nodded. "What did you think?"
"Not as political as others his rank," Dukes commented, as they watched the man make his way over to their location. "That says a lot in my book when it comes to a professional soldier."
“Roger, that," Clark agreed, and then pulled to full attention, producing a perfect salute. "Welcome, Sir."
Dukes straightened, but did not come to full attention; wrong branch, he was retired and this was his land.
Colonel Horn returned the salute while still walking. "At ease," he said almost out of habit. He then extended his hand to Clark, "Specialist Clark, Colonel Horn, and I assume you are Gunnery Sergeant Smith?"
Dukes took the officer's hand. "Yes, Sir. Welcome to our little battlefield. Please call me Dukes, Sir."
Colonel Horn nodded, and they all started walking towards the house; Clark dropped back a step or two to let the colonel and Dukes walk and talk.
"Well from the air, it looks like the Devil brewed up a batch of holy hell down here."
"Yes, Sir," Clark spoke, his voice almost robotic.
Horn stopped and waited for them both to stop in front of him. "Permission granted to speak freely and your mind," he ordered. “That goes for both of you, and anyone else under your command. Understood?"
"Yes, Sir," they both said, with Dukes tossing a sideways look at Clark.
"There’s a place and a time for the formalities, but we have a war to win, and I think we just started taking our country back right here on this farm. I want you two to be able to speak freely with me. I need your insight, your intelligence and anything else you can give me. I want every advantage I can get from these assholes, even if it means changing the rules that have bound us for so many years."
"We can do that, Sir," Clark offered, not believing the scope of the order he was just issued.
One of the soldiers from the Colonel’s squad jogged up to the group and spoke directly to his commanding officer. "Sir, the perimeter’s secure."
Horn was about to answer the sergeant when he caught the knowing smile spread across Dukes face. Without being asked, Dukes pointed to two mounds of pine straw with direct firing lines to the front and side of the house.
"Not quite, Sir." Dukes offered, lifted a radio off of his belt and pressed the button to transmit. "Red blanket." His radio picked up two double clicks signaling an acknowledgment of the order. Two wooden doors covered in pine straw and lacerated tree branches lifted up from the scorched pine floor twenty yards away.
Horn raised his eyebrows at the move and nodded his approval.
"Now, the perimeter is secure," Dukes offered. "Can I show you in, Sir? We have someone that we know you want to meet" Dukes stepped up on the front porch.
"So, it's true, you did capture one alive?"
"Yes, Sir," Clark admitted.
"Good! That's the son-of-a-bitch I want to talk to."
Author’s Suggestions: Start at the beginning of the Worst Case Scenario series and then pick up Collapsing World series. These are parallel series, and there is some overlap of situations and characters.
***One other tip – You can read all 6 Worst Case Scenario Books in one book called Worst Case Scenario Definitive…it is also a 15% savings over buying each book individually.