Serenity: Full Circle – Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO

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.”

Copyright © 2016; All Rights Reserved

Introducing Serenity: Full Circle -Chapter 1

This is a story about two ex-SEALs who retired from the shadowy world of clandestine work that pushed them around the globe and back — only to begin again — but not before a grateful President bestows upon them a most unusual gift.  The gift propels them into a mission that has many beginnings — but only one end.

Each week, we will publish a chapter (or two) here.  If you miss a week, catch up by clicking on the categories to the left under Serenity.

Enjoy a great read!

SERENITY

FULL CIRCLE

CHAPTER ONE

Pure Serenity

Matt Sheridan was walking along a path he had walked a thousand times before.  It followed the shore line around a small island in the center of a private lake about twenty-five miles to the northwest of Helsinki, Finland.  Matt had acquired the lake and its surrounding property more than thirty years ago.  He was, at that time, a thirty-year old computer whiz kid that had made his mark, along with the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  But unlike these icons that chose to commercialize their talents, he had chose a different path. He had amassed billions of dollars with his unique skillsets.  He was now contemplating the decisions he had made along the way.  Many had been easy, such as integrating software with ground-penetrating radar, aiding the petroleum giants of the western world in their search for oil in the Middle East.  These endeavors. while seemingly harmless, would, like most things, become distorted with time, changing the delicate balance of global economics and all the while augmenting Matt’s economic status.

Then there had been the other things he had worked on over the years; the things that most other men would never have even contemplated, but Matt’s ego had driven him to do — like rewriting code that changed targeting locations for NATO’s defensive rockets in the event of a nuclear skirmish with Russia.  He also had a hand in developing software to disrupt radio transmissions that would jam emergency response frequencies to ensure maximum collateral damage during such attacks.  He, at some point in his life, chose to simply forget the minutia and think of himself as a man of vision, if not for the world, at least for himself.

Matt loved the island.  It was a fortress of solitude, and he especially loved it when a bright unusually sunny day like this came along.  He picked up a flat stone and skipped it across the lake’s water, sending multiple circles emanating outward, one over lapping the other, in many ways mimicking life’s connective influence.

In the next second, he felt an odd sensation and his body quivered.  He looked down to see a crimson stain quickly growing upon his chest, and then he heard the resounding echo of the rifle shot.  He looked up across the lake, collapsing to his knees, then falling forward, but he never felt the earth; it was too late for Matt Sheridan to feel anything.

Marc Bracken swiftly snapped the bi-pod flat on the P.G.W. Timberwolf .338LM rifle.  He turned and reached down, picking up the ejected shell casing, still smoldering, placing it in his pocket.  Swiftly, he looked back over his shoulder before entering the dense forest, checking the footprint of his firing position; it was clean. Then he stopped in his tracks, as he looked once more at the body lying face down across the lake.  This kill was profoundly gratifying to Marc.  He smiled, and yet his eyes began to glisten as he vanished into the thick underbrush.

Marc Bracken was a man of unique qualities; those that knew him understood why he was at the helm of Serenity.  The Serenity Group was a specialized international security team that had become indispensable to many key executive and governmental agencies globally.  These various groups had become familiar with the work done for the U.S. government prior to Marc, and his partner Eyan’s, transition to the private sector as a team.

By the time he was 28, Marc had worked for more than half the governments in the western world, and a few in the Middle East; mainly the ones that were aligned with the democratic west.  Marc was a Navy brat down to his diapers.  He was born in Hawaii, during which time his father was stationed at Pearl Harbor.  He spent most of his young life at the beach, usually on a surfboard.  Then it was off to Guam for several years then back stateside to San Diego, finishing up high school.  He then took advantage of his father’s placement in Japan and attended University of Tokyo for several years achieving his bachelor’s degree.  He had achieved excellent marks as a student and had been accepted at Cambridge University in England to round out his post-graduate degree.  But before that would come to be, an old friend, also a Navy brat that he had befriended while living in Guam, had reconnected.  The two jointly decided to change their life’s objective and join the Navy.

During their first deployment working the water ways of Iraq, Marc’s friend had died on a routine detail when they were removing submersed mines at the shipping port of Al Basrah on the Arvand River.  Shortly thereafter, Marc applied for SEAL training and was accepted as a candidate.

Marc was a quiet person when he was in unfamiliar surroundings.  In reality, he was just careful; he didn’t like the spotlight.  He preferred to observe and absorb.  His father had one time said to him, “I’ve never learned a thing while I was talking.” Marc had taken that statement to heart.  After sizing up the competition during the first few days of candidate assessment, he picked out a fellow that he had pegged to be the most likely front runner of the candidate group.  The man’s last name was Hester.  He was a large man in stature but had gentle blue eyes that, at times, seemed unbelievably piercing.  Marc eventually learned his first name – Eyan – they were to become inseparable friends and members of Seal Team 8 and, later, both had become instructors at the training facility before eventually departing the military.

 

Copyright © 2016; All Rights Reserved

Announcing an Exciting New Addition to the Blog!

I’m excited to share with you that I am going to have a new feature added to this blog!

My husband has just finished his solo book entitled Serenity: Full Circle which is a fabulous “SEALs-Black-Ops” fictional novel that is just a compelling read!

As soon as we are advised that it is officially registered with the US Copyright Office, we will begin publishing it on this blog, perhaps a one or two chapters at a time.  I am totally sure you will enjoy it, so please check back soon for the launch of this exciting event!

Between now and then — early ballots have been distributed and mailed — I cannot urge you enough to please, please, please exercise your right and VOTE!!! Remember that so many people of the world cannot influence how they are governed — but YOU can!  Regardless of your choice(s) — just please fulfill your responsibility as part of our great fabric — speak up — VOTE!

Look for the beginning of  Serenity: Full Circle soon!

Shalom ….

Of Stress and Shadows

I read a short article the other day about people feeling “stressed out” and they are pointing to the rancor of the national political forum that has been surrounding the Presidential election — as the culprit.  I couldn’t agree more.  Tweet by tweet, sound-bite by sound-bite, Facebook posting after Facebook posting … can anyone say “Enough?!”

A psychologist was interviewed for this article and offered this bit of advice: It’s OK to unplug from the constant din of the media.  It’s OK to turn off the television.  It’s OK to divert your attention away from your phone and towards something (anything!) that gives you pleasure or makes you smile.

I couldn’t agree more.

As important as it is to pay attention and as important as it is stay informed and important as it is to keep an open mind …. I am sitting here with my shooting headphones on blocking out the unending dribble of the news media following another paranoid-induced thought from Trump.

I also read an article from Deepak Chopra on the subject today (“Donald Trump is America’s Shadow”) which proved to be quite enlightening in explaining the public’s fascination with the dark side that Trump exposes which Chopra calls “the shadow,” or the dark side of all of us.  Trump lives in the shadow and therefore, by default, suggests that we all live on the wrong side, and that he, and only he, lives (and apparently “loves,” I might add) on the right side.  The more dust that is kicked up, the more gleeful he becomes.  Chopra also reminds us of the obvious — that this is a dubious, deceptive and totally manipulative environment.

Thank you for bringing that up.  These cannot possibly be the desired traits of someone who would be the leader of the greatest — free — democracy of the world!  The same man who says that a long-running hit comedy should be cancelled because it’s “unfunny.”  Really?  Is that his best grip on the concept of a “democracy?”  Yeah, well, remember, Donald …

The shadow never wins

Great Times!

The weekend started out with our family members joining us from out of town.  We enjoyed a great dinner with more laughs than we’ve had in some time. Later, we enjoyed a balmy desert evening with a hearty discussion on world events.

The next day was earmarked for outdoor activity — our favorite activity!  We headed out in a fully-packed truck to find our spot at an outdoor shooting area not too far from the city.  As we stepped out of the truck, the stillness of the desert wrapped its lovely arms around us.  It made us smile.

My nephew, Mitch, had shot a few revolvers in his life, but his wife, Julie, had never fired a weapon.  Watching her interaction turned out to be an equal mixture of apprehension and exhilaration — but nothing beat the big smile she gave us after her first shot!

Our targets were varied at a distance of about 23 feet in front of us.  The unofficial “rules” say that you have to call out which target you are aiming for.  Once the shooting commenced, so did the running commentary!  “High, left!”  “Over the target!” “Great shot!”

Too soon, it was time to go.  After bringing in the target cluster it was time for some long distance shots, just for fun.

 

Using up the last ammo for some distance shooting
Using up the last ammo for some distance shooting

We packed it all up, including our blue tarp that was now filled with brass bullet casings.  (Pack it in/pack it out!)

Packing up
Packing up

 

 

 

 

 

And so, you might ask, how did we do?  We’ll let Mitch and Julie finish the story:

The score
The score

 

 

 

 

Until we meet again ……..