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Wayne has also provided an exclusive excerpt from the book, check it out below!!
Three hours after the successful raid on a shipment of Ukrainian girls that arrived in the coastal city of Rayong, the Snow Devils were unwinding with beers under the thatch-roofed patio of a local pub. The popular tourist drinking hole overlooked a wide, white-sand beach.
“It says here that Rayong province is renowned for its pristine beaches, spectacular waterfalls and shopping.” Billy Mankowski shared the information from the tourism brochure he was perusing. Mankowski did not fit the usual lone wolf mold of the typical sniper. He was the most social of the group and a big hit with the ladies.
“Well, they certainly weren’t exaggerating about the beaches,” St. Jean chimed in, as the group spotted a group of young, bikini-clad Thai women wandering past. The emerald water lapping at their toes.
“Sand, sun and surf,” Captain Andrews said, raising his beer. A second later it was joined by four others as the heavy glass tankards clinked together above the table. John Andrews was the only married man in the group. And while he’d rather have been on his way back home to see his wife and three year old son, he recognized that the unit could use a little R and R. The team had earned a few days in the sun. He swallowed the last of his beer and waved at the pretty barmaid, whose English language skills were quite good.
“Another round for my friends,” he indicated towards the three guys on his left, and then looked at the man to his right. “Oh, what the hell, you can bring one for him, too!”
Everyone laughed as PB punched his buddy in the shoulder. Reese enjoyed the close-knit camaraderie of the guys in the unit and did not for one minute regret his decision to leave the NHL and join the Patricias. Despite being the youngest and newest man on the team, his extraordinary abilities had earned a lot of respect from everyone. In truth, while Captain Andrews was the coach and play caller of the team, PB had become the go to guy in the field. The team was stronger since he’d become a part of it and everyone knew it.
“This is pretty good beer,” Reese turned the label towards himself and read the brand-name out loud, “Singha.”
“It is pronounced Sing,” a familiar woman’s voice interrupted from behind the group. “The ‘h’ and ‘a’ are both silent,” Janet pointed out as she strolled up, wearing a short-sleeved white linen blouse and khaki shorts. She slid into the empty chair waiting beside Reese.
“On top of everything else, the woman even knows her alcohol,” St. Jean said, winking at Janet. “This girl is a keeper, PB.”
PB leaned over and gave her a welcoming kiss. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
A full-fledged romance had developed between PB and Janet over the past two years, despite the limited time spent together. PB was head over heels and pretty certain Janet felt the same.
Captain Andrews gestured to the waitress to make it six beers.
“How’d the interrogations go?” PB asked his girlfriend.
“We got a solid lead on the Austrian.” This got the table’s attention. The man known only as the Austrian was believed to be the brains and leader of the human trafficking ring they’d been chasing.
“Did you get a name?” St. Jean asked on behalf of the group.
“No, but we got a description and his location,” the British agent reported.
“Good work,” Andrews patted her shoulder as the beers arrived.
“Not good enough,” Janet explained to the group. “He’s staying in a villa twenty kilometers outside of Izmir Turkey, but twelve hours from now he’ll be in the wind, again.”
“Let’s go get the bastard!” St. Jean pounded his fist on the table.
“I wish it was that easy. I just spent an hour and a half trying to arrange transportation. It is impossible to get to Izmir from here in time.”
“These beaches don’t look that pristine.” Mankowski crumpled up the brochure and tossed it at Johansen with a devilish smile.
Reese touched the ring box he was carrying in his left pants pocket. A waterfall might have provided a great place to pop the big question, he thought, with a touch of regret.
Johansen snatched the crumpled paper out of the air. “I hear that Turkey is lovely this time of year.”
“Didn’t you all hear me?” Janet asked. “I can’t get us there in time!”
PB put his arm around her shoulders. “We can get you there, though.”
“High hoe, hey hoe, it’s off to work we go!” Bobby St. Jean sang a line parodying the Sleeping Beauty classic. This brought a few chuckles around the table. He raised his frosted mug toward the sky and the guys quickly followed suit.
“Hey hoe!” the soldiers repeated, before taking a swallow of Thailand’s best beer.
“Hey hoe,” Janet was just a beat behind, as she brought the frosty mug to her lips. Then she noticed everyone grinning at her. “What?”
“H A H O stands for high altitude high opening,” PB explained to her. “It is a parachuting term.”
“Oh,” she replied before fully understanding the ramifications of his words. She was taking a deep pull from her ice cold beer when it sunk in.
“Oh, no, no, no!” She shook her head violently. “Me, jump out of a plane?”
“Jumping out of an airplane never hurt anybody,” Mankowski started the old joke.
“It’s the landing that kills them!” Janet filled in the punch line, morbidly.
“Don’t worry,” PB assured his girlfriend, “we’ll be right there with you the whole way.”
Fifty-one minutes later, her briefcase and overnight bag in hand, Janet was staring at a small jet. The Bombardier Challenger 601 was a permanent loaner to the team from a very grateful Canadian Provincial Premier whose son had been liberated from an Iranian prison, where he’d been facing trumped-up drug trafficking charges. Originally designed as a small passenger commuter, this particular plane had undergone two major renovations -- the first of which turned it into luxury transportation for the Premier and up to nine other dignitaries, plus two staff.
The second set of renovations had customized it further for the Canadian Special Forces squad. An additional fuel tank had been added. Some seating had been removed to make a rear storage room for rapid deployment equipment. The six leather seats, that remained, reclined flat for sleeping or additional seating space. The exit door had been removed and a taller, wider one installed. The cockpit, the small well-equipped galley kitchen and upgraded lavatory had all been left unchanged from the first renovation. The exterior of the small jet was painted flat black. A small Canadian flag adorned the tail, while a Royal Canadian Air Force emblem was displayed on the nose just below the pilot’s windshield. The white identification numbers displayed on the engine, plus the six small darkened cabin windows were the only other things visible on the fuselage.
Air Force Major Hank Avery walked up to Captain Andrews from the back of the plane. He had just finished the visual inspection. The tall thirty-four-year-old man looked trim and very handsome in his perfectly pressed uniform. The Aviator glasses he wore above a neat brown mustache reflected the setting sun as he arrived.
“She is fuelled and all the necessary arrangements have been made, John.”
“Thanks, Hank.” Captain Andrews then introduced their extra passenger to the major. “Major Hank Avery this is Interpol Agent Janet Porter.”
“Major Avery, it is very nice to meet you,” Janet began.
“Call me Hank, everyone else does.” His handshake was warm and genuine.
“Alright, Hank, you can call me Janet.”
“So you’re the one that the boys are always going on about.”
“Tell me Hank, just what do these boys say about me when I’m not around to defend myself?” She turned and shot a stern look at the soldiers.
“Many terrible and awful things like: you shoot like Wyatt Earp, swear like a drunken sailor, fight like Bruce Lee, you’re smarter than a German rocket scientist and you look like a movie star.”
“I don’t swear like any damned drunken sailor,” she retorted, as her face reddened.
“Wyatt Earp probably wasn’t that good of a shot,” St. Jean piped in, “and if I’m not mistaken, Bruce Lee died, so he’s not much of a fighter anymore…”
“And by movie star looks, we were talking about Clint Eastwood,” Andrews added.
“She has more of an Ernest Borgnine look, don’t you think?” Johansen asked, as he framed her face between his thumbs and fingers in the classic director pose, bringing a round of guffaws from the rest of the guys.
“Okay, okay, you guys,” Janet laughed along with the group. The embarrassing moment passed by.
Hank indicated his approval of Janet holding his thumb up while she was turned away and managed to squeeze in a wink to PB.
“Hank is our transportation specialist-extraordinaire,” PB explained. “He gets us wherever we need to be, by land, sea or air.”
“And even more importantly, Hank always gets us back out and safely home,” Captain Andrews pointed out and brought the focus back to the time-sensitive mission. “PB, you give Janet a quick tour of the plane and then set her up in my seat. I’ll fly up front with the Major. Billy and Rick do an equipment check. Bobby, the galley is yours.”
Half an hour later the Bombardier jet was twenty thousand feet above the Indian Ocean and rising.
Captain Andrews appeared from the cockpit and made his way to a plastic-coated world map attached to the wall in the rear of the cabin. All eyes fell to him. He grabbed an erasable marker and put an X on the shore of Thailand.
“We’re taking a mostly water route to our destination.” He drew a line that curved well below India then back northward through the Arabian Sea. “Hank got permission to fly through Yemen and Egyptian airspace, but not Turkey. We don’t want the Austrian tipped off. Therefore, Turkish authorities have been left out of the loop for security reasons,” he explained as the marker’s thick line continued through Yemen, up the Red Sea, and through the Mediterranean Sea and past Turkey. “We’ll deploy at twenty-eight thousand feet, ten kilometers off the coast near Izmir.” He added another X at the drop zone.
“Clear skies, with a light eight kph breeze out of the southwest are projected at drop time. This will give us the ability to land up to five kilometers past our target, if the need should arrive.” He marked an X on the target location. “Deployment will be at 04:20 local time. Hang time will be approximately fifty minutes, give or take. I’ll drive the train. Reese, you and Janet will be tandem on the caboose. Our extraction point will be one kilometer north of Izmir on the coast at 10:00 hours. The Major has made arrangements for a commercial fishing boat to take the team and any guests we may have accrued, from there to Athens. Are there any questions?”
None were voiced, as a few eyes wandered over to Janet for her reaction. She nodded her approval to the plan.
“Good,” the captain said, then looked over at St. Jean and raised his eyebrows.
“Chow in 20 minutes,” Bobby answered the silent question and the briefing was over.
After an amazing meal of seasoned sockeye salmon served over a stir-fried medley of seasoned yellow and red peppers, onions and summer squash, most of the team settled in for a few hours of rest. PB was fitting Janet with jump gear in the equipment room.
“Do you guys eat like that all the time?” Janet asked.
“Bobby can cook,” he answered. “Though, I think he was showing off, just a little, tonight.”
“That was the best tasting salmon I’ve ever eaten,” Janet marveled.
“Don’t say that too loudly; he’ll get a big head.”
“Too late,” Bobby said, poking his nose into the equipment room. “I’m brewing some tea if anyone would like some.”
Both declined the offer and went back to outfitting Janet.
PB inspected the thermal jump suit Janet was wearing. “How does that feel? It looks like a pretty good fit.”
“The arms are a bit too long.”
PB rolled up the cuffs for her, then grabbed a size small helmet and face mask from the rack and helped her put them on. After a few adjustments he was happy with the fit. He then attached a small hose.
“We’ll be breathing pure oxygen for the first half of the drop,” PB explained, while he showed her the regulator dial. “You don’t have to worry about the adjustments; I’ll take care of them.”
“We’ll really be travelling almost thirty kilometers at night without getting lost?”
“These airfoil-style chutes are very easy to steer. With the right coordinates, an altimeter and compass, John could land us on a proverbial needle in a haystack. We’ll be dropping in, what we call, stack or train formation with John in the lead. The rest of the boys will follow about thirty meters apart, one behind the other.”
“What about us?”
“We’ll be just a little further back. Our chute is both larger and slightly slower. But, we’ll be close enough to maintain visual contact. Plus, we’ll have radio communication with everyone.”
“What about…” Janet started to ask.
“The chutes and our jumpsuits, as you can see, are all black,” he said anticipating her next question. “We’ll be virtually invisible from the ground at night.”
PB explained the entire drop to Janet, step-by-step, to help her feel comfortable with the impending jump.
Not surprisingly, Janet was unable to get any sleep during the flight. Her policy had always been not to jump out of perfectly good aircrafts. At 03:30, Turkish time, the cabin lights came on and Captain Andrews entered from the cockpit.
“Saddle up cowpokes!” he ordered.
Thirty-five minutes later PB had checked and rechecked Janet’s gear a few times. She was now securely attached to PB. The small jet had dropped to twenty-eight thousand feet and slowed significantly. Andrews swung open the custom door, then reached above the opening and touched a framed photo of his grandfather -- the first Captain John Andrews, and then a cloth replica of the original company flag, sewn by Princess Patricia. He shouted “Ric-a-Dam-Doo” and jumped through the opening. At four second intervals the others followed, each repeating the same ritual as they exited.
Captain John Andrews, the first, had been an early volunteer in Hammy Gault’s little army -- that would eventually became the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. During World War II the experienced soldier had been sent to Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana to train with hundreds of other Canadian and American soldiers. The men that made it through the rigorous training became a part of the world’s first Special Forces team. Their original purpose was to disrupt and terrorize the German troops.
They were good at it and would soon become better known by a couple of other names: The Devil’s Brigade or The Black Devils. All modern American, Canadian and British Special Forces units can trace their heritage back to these brave souls that would drop behind enemy lines, wreak havoc and disappear into the night.
Ahead of Janet, St. Jean performed the ritual and added “Yahoo” as he jumped. She wanted to take a step forward but her feet wouldn’t listen. Four seconds passed in the blink of an eye. PB shouted “Ric-a-Dam-Doo” over her shoulder and literally swept Janet off her feet. Suddenly, she found herself outside the plane freefalling into the night.
Janet couldn’t see a thing, nor could she feel PB behind her. Everything was black. She fought against the idea that she was all alone. The five second long freefall seemed like an eternity. Finally, with a lurch the parachute opened and she could feel PB and gravity, once again. A strong hand squeezed her shoulder and the moments of panic faded away.
Captain Andrews’ voice filled her helmet. “On target,” he reported, “with conditions as expected.”
As each of the others checked in, PB pointed them out to Janet. She was soon able make out four large rectangular black chutes against the slightly less-dark-black beneath them. The top of each double-layered chute had a small gray arrow pointing forward. The arrows were all aligned.
“This is Caboose confirming that I have a visual of the entire train.” Then he added a confirmation, “the train is on track.” After he spoke, PB pointed upward at the sky.
Janet looked up. It was as if she could see every star in the universe above her. “It’s so beautiful,” she gasped. They floated through the peaceful sky for several minutes in silence.
PB pointed to a faint glow in the distance. The chute arrows were pointed directly at it. “That is the city of Izmir up ahead. It’s the Captain’s first and easiest flight path reference.”
“Even St. Jean could find that one,” Billy’s muffled voice cut in, followed by some snickering.
“Now I’m not even sorry about putting Salt Peter on your fish tonight, Billy,” St. Jean piped back.
“When we get over land, we’ll observe radio silence and you won’t have to listen to these knuckleheads,” PB stated for everyone’s benefit.
“Do we have to wait until we’re over land for radio silence to begin?” Janet laughed.
“Hey, I resent that,” St. Jean sputtered and again laughter followed.
The glow from Izmir was getting brighter. Soon individual lights would become visible.
An inspiration hit PB. He decided that the time was right; he didn’t need a waterfall. It was such a beautiful night and he had the woman he loved right in front of him. He felt like it was now or never.
“Janet,” he paused collecting his thoughts, “I’ve never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. I love you with all my heart. I know that we are living crazy lives right now. You live in London and I’m in Canada, when we aren’t hanging over the coast of Turkey or chasing bad guys across rooftops or through sewers. The logistics aren’t exactly ideal and I’m not sure how we would make it all work...”
A few very quiet seconds drifted by as he decided how to proceed.
“Just pop the damn question,” Captain Andrews cut in. “That’s an order, soldier!”
“Yes, Sir,” PB answered and then asked the million dollar question. “Janet Porter, will you marry me?”
“Well,” she answered slowly, “you’ve put me in a very awkward position Sergeant Reese.”
“Oh, no,” slipped out of Bobby’s mouth before he could stop it.
“Because, I really want to kiss you right now!” she added.
All five men let out a collective sigh of relief.
“Of course, I’ll marry you! I love you with all my heart, PB!”
After several congratulations were exchanged the Captain brought the focus back to the mission. The shoreline was no more than a mile ahead. “Let’s get back to the job at hand everyone.”
“Once we land, I’ll set up shop on the hilltop north of the house,” Mankowski reported. This location would afford the sniper good sightlines of the rear of the house and the outbuildings, including the large detached garage on the property, provided their Interpol intelligence was accurate. It would take him less than a minute to get his rifle and sight assembled, locked and loaded.
“Johansen and I will flank the perimeter of the property and get quietly acquainted with any guards we meet. Then, we’ll rendezvous at the back door to assist with retrieval,” St. Jean added.
“I’ll make entry at the rear of the house, taking care of any bogeys in that area. Then find our target and escort him out the way I entered,” Reese stated his part of the plan.
Janet had been on enough missions with the team to know that her new fiancé was usually first in. He seemed to have the ability to melt into his surroundings and then all of a sudden appear just where he was needed. If he hadn’t already had a nickname, they’d probably have called him Houdini. The whole team was in awe of the ninja-like stealth he possessed. PB took the point on most missions.
“Agent Porter and I will secure the garage,” Captain Andrews said, ending the final run-through of the plan. “We’ll appropriate suitable transportation and meet you at the house.”
“Radio silence will begin in one minute,” he reminded everyone.
PB and Janet had drifted a little behind the others but were well within sight range. He squeezed his arms tightly around his fiancé.
“The train is still on track, Sir,” he reported as the shoreline approached. The remaining few minutes of the descent was spent in silence.
Janet had never in her wildest dreams imagined a night like this. Everything was happening so fast. Part of her wanted to keep sailing through the stars, forever. Part of her wanted PB to turn their chute and find a secluded spot so she could tear his clothes off… It was more than just physical, though. He was the strongest, kindest, gentlest man she’d ever met. For a person with only a high school diploma, he was well-read and intellectually stimulating. This had surprised her more than almost anything. They could talk for hours. Well, if she was honest with herself, their first kiss had been electrifying. She’d felt it right through to her toes. And the first time she saw him without his shirt… Had it been love at first sight? Maybe? He’d certainly caught her attention right away. He was the one! She’d known that for quite some time.
Another part of her wanted to keep going with the mission; she’d never been so close to her goal of catching the Austrian. She’d been obsessed with closing down his cruel organization for the past three years. The slippery son-of-a-bitch had ruined the lives of thousands of young women and men, not to mention tens of thousands of their loved ones.
She said yes! PB felt like the luckiest man on the planet. He marveled at the circumstances that had allowed a boy from the Canadian prairies to meet a girl from London, England, in Eastern Europe. Somehow, he’d fallen for her on that first rainy night in Yugoslavia. He’d never met a woman like her before. She was tough as nails, yet so compassionate. Her dark flashing eyes and smile captivated him. He loved that she could take a ribbing from the tight-knit team and fire it right back in spades. PB never tired of talking to her. There were several things he never tired of doing with her. With Janet he’d learned the difference between sex and making love. Sex had always been good, but sex with the person you’re in love with was ten times better! Janet made him feel whole.
The Special Forces soldier realized they were drifting a little. He reluctantly let go of his fiancé and brought them back on line. He would kiss Janet and properly present the ring once their mission was completed. With only a few minutes until touchdown, he began something that he could do as well as anyone alive. PB brought his complete focus to bear on the task at hand. For the next few hours his fiancé, Agent Porter, would simply be a part of the team.