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Target Terror: Confirmed Kill: Chapter One

       Last updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2005 23:23 EDT



    Sergeant First Class Kyle Monroe tried to think about other things than an impending parachute jump.

    It wasn’t that he didn’t like jumping. He did. Though he preferred “admin jumps” to maintain proficiency, or an occasional civilian free fall, to a combat jump over hostile territory. At least he assumed so.

    He’d made over a hundred jumps. He’d been in more than enough combat, too, but this was the first time he’d jumped in to meet it. It was also the first time he’d done a free fall military jump outside of the High Altitude Low Opening course he’d been rushed through in a few days. HALO was supposed to be a four week school. He’d done it in nine days.

    Officially, that was impossible.

    That was the Army. There was never time to do it right. But there was always time to do it again after screwing it up the first time…if they could replace him.

    Of course, they’d also have to replace his buddy and spotter, recently promoted Sergeant First Class Wade Curtis, sitting next to him. Replacing the third member of their team, Colonel Joseph Melville Wiesinger, who was sitting across from them, wouldn’t be hard and would be a very good idea, Kyle thought. He had no idea why the man was along, except to grandstand and try to hog glory. That was typical of this type of officer, and likely the only reason he had come. It wasn’t as if Wiesenger had a lot of depth to him.

    The C-141 wasn’t the most comfortable craft to ride in, though there were a lot worse. Still, the inside was all metal and harsh. The steel frame had an aluminum skin, with tracks and padeyes for pallets on the deck. Harnesses and webbing hung here and there. The latrine was much like a porta-potty, tucked under the cockpit. They were pressurized for now, but it was still cold. The USAF jumpmaster and flight engineer wandered through periodically to check the craft, and they were happy to share the huge cauldron of coffee they had with the three soldiers.

    The problem was that Kyle and Wade tried to avoid caffeine because it affected their nerves. As snipers, they needed to be and wanted to be as steady as possible. While the coffee would warm them, it was contraindicated.

    Wiesinger was theoretically a sniper, too. He was drinking coffee by the gallon. Kyle studied him again. The man looked very unmilitary, as did Kyle and Wade. The two NCOs had learned to do that as camouflage, so as to blend in. It was often useful to look like grubby bums rather than soldiers. In Wiesinger’s case, he was simply a slob in uniform, or out. Overweight, shaggy-haired and with little regard for his uniform or civilian clothes. Kyle grimaced again. Amazing how fast things went to hell every time.

    As usual, it had started out with a good idea…



    Kyle had previously been an instructor at the US Army Sniper School. He’d been pulled out for two temporary duty missions to stalk and kill terrorists, first in Pakistan, then in Romania. Following that, it had been decided, and he concurred, to reassign him to avoid damaging the class schedule again and again. Wade Curtis had changed units twice in that time, from 10th Mountain Division to 3rd Infantry Division, and he’d also been given orders. The two of them were now assigned to an innocuous numbered detachment from Fort Meade, that sounded like an administrative position. That put them closer to their boss General Robash, made deployments a lot easier, and let them use the range at Aberdeen Proving Ground for practice, as well as getting some face-to-face practice time with the outrageously highly paid professionals from Blackwater Security, who State Department hired to guard foreign leaders against terrorists and rebels.

    Those worthies had even tried to recruit him. He’d been offered $300,000 a year plus expenses, based on his experience. He’d thought long and hard before turning that down. Perhaps when he was ready to retire in a few years…

    Though honestly, it was more likely he’d be forced out with High Year of Tenure than voluntarily retire. He couldn’t say why, except that the Army was his life and he was a patriot. Why else would he let them send him to exotic, distant lands to meet exciting, unusual people and kill them?

    Unless he was a masochist?

    He’d come into his office one cool, crisp morning, feeling very comfortable and confident, and found Wade and General Robash already talking. The general nodded and indicated a chair. Kyle would have stood otherwise, out of respect, even though he knew the general was casual about such things.

    “We have another one?” he asked, sitting easily in his Army standard swivel chair.

    “Indonesia,” Wade said. “All expense paid tropical vacation. Gorgeous Balinese dancers, equatorial sunshine, fine crafts and artifacts…”

    “Kraits, saltwater crocodiles and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists,” Robash had finished. Even when he sprawled, he looked professional.

    “Endangered species,” Wade grinned. It was a cheerful grin, but not one to reassure potential enemies. Wade was a hair over six feet, a coffee-skinned black man with rock solid lean muscles and the quiet confidence of a man who didn’t need to prove how good he was.

    “Not endangered enough,” Robash said, his expression half smile, half grimace. The general was broad and bulky with a gravelly, resonant voice that rarely needed a microphone. He’d aged a bit over the last two years, directing the two snipers and possibly other units—they didn’t need to know—to hunt down, dig out and exterminate terrorist leaders and bombers. The massive activity in the Middle East was proof it was working. The enemy was getting desperate as real professionals closed off avenue after avenue, closing inexorably in toward what would be a bloody finale.

    Then it would have to start all over again. Old enemies changed and evolved, new ones were created. But as long as there’d been civilization, there’d been those who hated it and wanted to tear it down. It was job security for those who defended it. A security many of them would be happy to do without.

    “Good,” Kyle said. He took professional pride in his part. He and Wade would never be known in any history book, but the results were their trophy.

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