The Evolving Plan
When Marc’s enlistment in the Navy was up, he had planned to open a dive shop somewhere up the coast from San Diego. Eyan had more time in service than Marc and was ready to move on, even before Marc. He had stayed in, mainly because of their camaraderie. The bonds that some develop in the military are hard for many to understand. For those that have been there, the things they went through are incredibly magnetic, often creating friendships that last a lifetime.
A short while after opening a dive shop as partners, Marc was contacted by a member of N.S.A. (National Security Agency). At first, he wanted nothing to do with the government, but the more information that was imparted, the more his curiosity was piqued. There was a clandestine side to the agency. Marc was caught in a cross-fire; he had made a commitment to Eyan as a partner in the dive business and he was not going to dishonor it. He spoke to Eyan and explained the situation. Eyan was appreciative of Marc’s honesty and offered to buy him out. After a very heartfelt conversation, Marc said, “If I could arrange for this opportunity to include us both, would you be interested?” Eyan thought for a moment then said, “Roll the dice. Let’s see what happens.” Marc met with the Agency once again and explained it was a package deal – either both were to be accepted as a team – or neither. The following week, after the N.S.A. had vetted Eyan, an agent contacted them both and said they were accepted as a team. Within a month, they had made arrangements for a friend and former Navy SEAL, to manage the dive shop. As soon as that happened, both Marc and Eyan were on their way to a covert location for extensive training. The majority of the training was more like a refresher course. The training that they had received while becoming SEALs was, in fact, much more intensive and physical.
During the next two years, the two had proven invaluable as a team working with the anti-terrorist division. Then, on a cold fall evening in the D.C area, they had been called in to assist the Secret Service and were instrumental in stopping a terrorist group from an assault on code name “Bold One,” – the President of the United States. Marc’s sniper ability was tested beyond all likelihood. He had ended the standoff from a building top nearly three-quarters of a mile away.
Everything had been accomplished in far less than ideal conditions. It was misting lightly, with a five to six miles-per-hour cross wind, in the dark of night. Luckily, the President was to the windward side of the target. After that night, everything began to change for the both of them. The President, in a private meeting with Mark and Eyan, asked if he could do anything for them personally. Marc, in smiling jest, said, “We’ll take an island in the South Pacific, if you have a spare.” The President, also smiling, said, “I’ll see what I can do.” Sometime later, Marc and Eyan received a ninety-nine-year federal land lease document to a postage stamp-sized island in the South Pacific, virtually in the middle of nowhere, with a billing statement for one dollar. They were dumbstruck by both the attention and the absurdity of the jest being taken seriously.
Over the next few months, Marc and Eyan found themselves working almost exclusively with security details, dealing with heads of state. It was like they had been loaned out to the Secret Service permanently. They worked with not only U.S. officials, but visiting dignitaries from around the globe. Within a year of the Presidential event, they were both growing rather tired of the relentless flights. They went to all corners of the globe for what sometimes was nothing more than an overnight stay, just in case something happened. One night, after several miscommunications, events unfolded that put both Marc and Eyan in a near-fatal crossfire with foreign agents and an anarchist. When all was done, three of the agents from the host country were dead. This was the last straw on the camel’s back, as far as they were concerned.
Upon their arrival back in the U.S., they decided to return to the dive shop once again. Robin Evens, the ex-Navy SEAL that had been entrusted with running the business, had done a remarkable job. The shop was now the premiere dive shop on the West Coast and was a gold mine as a result. They planned to open a second shop farther up the coast and third shop eventually. After arriving back in California, they spent several weeks unwinding, doing some recreational diving. In general, they were re-adjusting to a “life of leisure,” as Eyan put it. They went in search of a second location for the new dive shop a few weeks later. They eventually found what they were looking for – a spot near L.A. – in Redondo Beach. During the next two months, the shop was remodeled and then opened for business. Many of the patrons were from professional dive boats and had done business with their original shop down the coast. This helped greatly in getting the shop underway. They had specialized in commercial duty equipment, always having the best and latest developments, in dive gear and equipment.
One day, not long after opening the shop, a man appeared at the counter in a three-piece suit. It was clear that he was out of his element. He asked Eyan if he knew where he might find “Mr. Bracken.” Eyan told him to go through to the back of the shop to the private office in the rear and Mr. Bracken would join him there shortly. Eyan flagged Marc down and brought him up to speed. Marc asked Eyan to stay nearby when he went in, just in case; he didn’t know what was up, but they had learned to err on the side of caution. When Marc entered the office, he left the door ajar. The man was standing in front of Marc’s desk, hat in hand. His head was cocked looking down at items on the desk. Marc made note of his curiosity, and then said, “Have a seat. You’re welcome to read anything on the desk. That stuff just puts me to sleep.” The man spun around; Marc had startled him. The man replied, “Pardon me, Mr. Bracken, I am unaccustomed to matters like this.” Now he had piqued Marc’s curiosity. “Matters like what?” Marc said. “My employer has asked me to tender an offer to you. The contract would be short-term and extremely lucrative if you accept.” Marc said, “Well, Mr.….,” he paused. The man said, “McBride.” Marc continued, “Well, Mr. McBride, we’re a bit short-handed here at the moment; we just opened the shop recently. As soon as we can gear-up our staff and work out the contract schedules, we might be able to assist you. But, as of right now, I don’t see how I can help you. What type of job are we talking, salvage?” McBride’s retort was, “Mr. Bracken, neither. We were referred to you by someone very well-placed in the world of asset protection. We were asked not to use their name, but were assured that you had the perfect skill set for the particular job we have need of completing.” Marc said, “Mr. McBride, I’ve retired from the military and, as you can clearly see, I have a thriving business to attend to. I’m sorry. Someone has pointed you in what is obviously the wrong direction.” McBride’s retort was straight to the point. “Mr. Bracken, I would be remiss if I did not say this before leaving. This agreement would require less than a week to fulfill. Two deposits would be made to your bank of choice, one up front and one on completion of agreement, each in the sum of $100,000. Ten days later, if nothing arises that would bring attention to my employer; a tertiary deposit will be made of $50,000.” Marc was finding it difficult to contain his reaction; he turned away and walked across the office, regaining his composure. He then turned back toward McBride and said, “Mr. McBride, what exactly does your employer need done?” “Mr. Bracken,” he replied, “You know I can’t give you specifics, but the man is on several country’s terrorist lists. He’s been sanctioned by both my country, and the U.S. He’s now in striking distance of gaining military control of a small Kingdom within the borders of South Africa. If this were to happen, his influence with the major warlords in Somalia would be greatly enhanced. We then fear our country would be at a severe disadvantage and in danger of being swept into civil unrest and political infighting. The East coast of South Africa is on the verge of self-destruction and we feel we must take action to ensure our survival.” Marc was aware of the turmoil in that part of the globe and knew that what the man said was, in fact, true. Marc then said, “Mr. McBride, I need some time to digest what we’ve talked about. Give me two days, then call me, and I’ll give you my answer.” McBride turned to leave, and then stopped at the door and said, “Mr. Bracken, this would be an act of kindness to thousands of people who have seen far too much violence and bloodshed. Please think of that as you make your decision.” He then turned, exiting the office, closing the door behind him.
Marc was sitting on the corner of his desk when Eyan entered the office and said, “Boy, just when you think you’ve heard it all, something like this comes along.” “Yeah, no shit!” said Marc. “A quarter of a mil – maybe we need to rethink retirement and think more about re-careering.” Eyan looked at Marc in disbelief and said, “You’re seriously thinking of doing this, Marc? This is way out of bounds; we’re not working for the government anymore – this is some serious shit.” Marc said, “Eyan, you don’t have to be involved in this. I don’t even know if I want to be involved. All I’m saying is I’m going to check this out and see what I can come up with. If the ethics hold up, that’s more money than I made in my entire military career – in one week’s work. Think about what this type of infusion could do for us; for our business.”
Marc spent the majority of the next morning on the phone trying to track down information on both who had referred him, and who was the potential target. After several hours, he had come up with some answers that were intriguing. His old commander and friend, Colonel Bach, at the training center on Coronado, was the first person he contacted. He had known him for years, including two tours in Iraq, and knew he would be straight with him when asked if he knew anything. Marc struck gold on the first try. Bach told him that a General Marshal Thomas had contacted him three days before and queried him about well-qualified personnel that had recently moved into the private sector. He told him that he had given him the name of one other man, besides Marc’s. Marc and Eyan had crossed paths with General Thomas during their special security duty assignments, but neither had ever truly met the man face-to-face. Marc did some digging and collected enough information to get a contact phone number for the General’s office in the D.C. area, and placed a call. When he finally got through to the General’s adjutant, he asked that the General return the call. He knew that getting Thomas on the line just calling in, was nearly impossible. He left his phone number and his name as “Retired Captain, U.S.N., Marc Bracken,” hoping the “retired” part would catch his eye when he perused his callbacks.
About an hour later, Marc’s phone rang. Before he answered, he looked at the caller ID. It read “Restricted.” Marc answered, “Bracken speaking.” The voice at the other end replied, “Captain Bracken, General Thomas here. I have an idea what you want, but then you know I can’t discuss it.” Marc replied, “General, I understand, but perhaps if my inquiries are generic, for instance. Is the party in need of assistance, a geopolitical friend and, is this action in the best interest our country? General, I must say that if either of the answers are to the negative, I cannot be of service. Are we on the same page General?” The General said, “Positively affirmative, are we clear? Good afternoon, Captain Bracken.” He then hung up the phone. Marc now had half of his answer. The action would be as sanctioned as any taken while on security detail. The General’s answer was obvious.
Marc and Eyan sat around the office for several hours discussing the possibilities of the action and most of all the logistics of what might be involved. Eyan was the organizer of the two and, as if a switch had been thrown, began making lists of items of necessity. Within an hour, they were so involved in the venture that neither realized they had subconsciously made a decision to do it without even discussing it further. As the reality struck Marc, he stopped, looked up at Eyan and said, “I guess this means we’re gonna do this, huh?” The look on Eyan’s face said it all. He was as taken in as Marc had been, saying as he smiled, “Well, I guess some things never change.”
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