Thursday, December 25, 2014

OPERATION UNHOLY ALLIANCE

Undisclosed location, US Navy Special Warfare
December 25, 2014/0408 Zulu

I’ve seen some strange shit in my day, but this one tops the list.  Two days before Christmas we were getting ready to stand down and have a nice couple of days off.  Christmas was falling on Thursday this year, and the skipper decided to give most of the group liberty the day after.  The nice long weekend would be a welcomed break after all the traveling I’d been doing and give me a chance to catch up with my family. 
The command staff had planned a big outing today, and our mission would be one that didn’t have us armed with weapons; we would be carrying presents to a few places in town where the kids were having a rough Christmas.  Our group would divvy up the work with a Marine Recon group who had recently stood up at a nearby base.  My dive buddy and I were in the break room wrapping presents right before the shit hit the fan. 
               “So what’s the plan for Christmas Day?”  Shaq asked. 
               “Give me a few with the family in the morning, we’ll get Christmas between us out of the way then come on over around noon,” I said.
               “Are you finally getting an Xbox One?” 
               “I don’t have to, you’ve got one.  I’ll use yours.”
               “Man, you suck. You’re so behind the times. By the time you get one, something else will be coming out.”  
               “When in hell are you getting a PlayStation 4?  Every time you come over that’s all you want to do.”
               “Because that’s the only decent gaming system you’ve got.” 
               “If you lame dicks go any slower, we’ll be delivering these next fucking Christmas!  Move it!”
               Shaq and I looked toward the door.  Master Chief stood there looking like a Christmas nightmare.  Since he already had the white hair thing down, the captain decided he could be Santa.  There he stood, full white beard in a Santa suit.  He wasn’t thick like Santa but the rest came pretty close. The crazy thing about this whole get up was he loved being Santa.  I make that sound nice; he begged to be Santa.  
               “Nice suit, Master Chief,” Shaq said. 
               I started praying that my dive buddy didn’t get me into some serious shit.  I didn’t like the tone he’d used, and any second now his mouth would get us into trouble.  Master Chief’s eyes narrowed.  Nothing slipped past him, and he’d caught it, too.  I looked at Shaq and shook my head and gave him a don’t fucking do it look.
               “You think so?”  Master Chief asked as he walked toward us. 
Correction, stalked toward us.  I felt like a rabbit about to be pounced on by one mean hungry wolf, and there’d be nothing left of me when he was done. 
“Would you like to be one of Santa’s elves, JG?” 
FUCK NO!  I’ve been one of his elves before, and I still have nightmares about it. 
“Aren’t we?  We’ve been wrapping presents for two days straight,” Shaq said.
Master looked the mountain of presents up and down. 
“You call that wrapping?  I’ve seen better wrapping by blind two year olds.   I should tear that shit up and make you two rejects start all over again,” he said reaching for one of the presents.
               “OW!  Son-of-a-bitch!” 
               As hard as I could, I came down on Shaq’s boot with my heel.  I’d managed to get Master Chief’s attention.  My dive glared at me, but I’d done it to keep Master Chief from carrying out his plan of making us rewrap over three hundred gifts.
               “What the fuck’s wrong with you now?”  Master Chief growled.
               “Hey!  You three in the briefing room, now!”  The captain said from the door. 
               Thank God!  The captain disappeared from the doorway and left us staring at each other.  I dropped what I had in my hands and reported as ordered.  When we got to the briefing room, several of us had already arrived.  In all there were about thirty people, and while Shaq and I sat waiting, I overheard the captain tell the XO that the Recon Marines were on their way.
 A sinking feeling came over me as I waited to find out what the captain wanted.  I just knew my Christmas would be spent away from my family, again.  Last year, I’d been in Afghanistan and had missed so much.  I scanned the room and met a beautiful set of brown eyes across the room.  She sat next to Badass and they were huddled talking with their little group.  My heart sank because I didn’t want her to miss Christmas at home, too.  Over the years, we’d missed too many Christmases together, and this would be a first and very special one.  The Force Recon Marines arrived, and the XO went to the front of the room.  
               “We’ve been tapped to support a mission.  I will be your mission commander.  Our liaison will arrive shortly and brief you on what needs to be done,” Commander Corbin said. 
               “What the hell’s going on?  Do you know?”  Doc asked.
               “No clue, captain showed up at the break room and told us to report here,” I said. 
               “Man, this is not the way I wanted to spend Christmas,” Shaq complained. 
               “Then get another job, JG.  You signed up for this,” Master Chief said. 
               The XO glanced behind us and waived the person in the back forward.  I didn’t turn around but there was something familiar about the footsteps.   I shivered and Doc’s jaw dropped, when our liaison passed by.   
               “Good morning ladies and gentleman.”
               Bella? What the…
               Could I be seeing this right?  I had to be.  The tension in the room amped several notches as we waited for the rest.  If this was someone’s idea of a joke, I can tell you the humor was lost on the group gathered in the room.  The room got unnaturally quiet and no-one moved.
“Holy crap on a cracker …” Master Chief whispered. 
               “What the hell is she doing here?”  Doc said. 
               “Thank you for volunteering for this mission,” she said. 
               And was Bella Juarez really standing here without the whole room erupting in a riot?  Wait a minute…  Volunteer? Mission?  I hadn’t volunteered for shit! I especially hadn’t volunteered for anything having to do with HER!  What the fuck was she doing here, and what the fuck was happening to my world? 
               “Wake me up, mama.  This is a bad dream,” Shaq said in disbelief. 
               “Shut up dumbass!”  Master Chief said.
               “Yesterday, at 1652 Zulu, the NSA intercepted a distress signal coming from 89.97 degrees north and 0.0 degrees west.  Contact was made with the station and the threat assessed.   Information was passed on to the JCS who recommended that the President sign an executive order to take action in the region. The President signed an executive order authorizing action code name Operation WHITE OUT.    Our Canadian allies have agreed to assist by allowing us to utilize RCAF Station Gimli …”
               Shaq and I exchanged glances because those coordinates were a long friggin’ way from where we sat.  In fact, those coordinates were at the top of the world, the North Pole.  What the hell kind of distress signal could be coming from there?     
               “A terrorist group calling themselves the GAC has taken hostages and your mission will be two-fold:  free the hostages while securing their compound, and isolate the enemy.  Our goal is to attempt to capture as many of the GAC as possible for interrogation.  Senior Chief Walsh, your team will be needed for interviewing all captured enemy.  Lieutenant Colonel Thompson, your Marines serve as the hostage rescue team.  Master Chief Jones, your SEAL teams will responsible for securing the compound and rounding up as many hostiles as possible.” 
               “Did you say GAC?”  Badass asked.
               “Yes, I did …”
               W-T-F
I couldn’t believe it.  Badass and Bella Juarez were having a civil conversation.  Captain O’Malley sat as if this were a normal everyday occurrence, and who the hell was the GAC?  I felt a little out of the loop here.  Had I been dropped into the Twilight Zone?  Bella is an NSA liaison?  Really?  
Oh yeah, I’d landed deep in the Zone.
Our briefing ended, and we went gathered with our respective teams to do some mission planning and determine how to take this enemy down.  After several hours I found myself along with my team on a C-130 with Recon Marines heading for one of the coldest places on the planet.  The weather forecast for Gimli was twenty-four degrees with snow and for 89.9 degrees north and 0 degrees west, it was negative two with definite snow.  We’d be fighting in the dark, and I still wasn’t clear about the enemy they called the GAC, no-one seemed to be talking about that.  Our intel had been limited, making our planning broad and our time tables loose.  That was the worst kind of mission planning.  The intel on the compound and hostages seemed solid, but fighting in the dark against an unknown enemy wasn’t my idea of fun.   
Before I knew it, we were fast roping in front of the Recon Marines into a snow covered compound at the top of the world.  The icy wind that hit me as I shimmied down the rope and made me quit breathing for a second because it was so cold.  When we hit the ground we went around sweeping what seemed like an empty compound.  We reached the first building and waited a beat before going inside. 
When we poured inside after kicking open, the door the sight in front of us made the six of us responsible for securing that area pause.  The long building had three long wide tables with stations that lined the tables on both sides.  There were bins behind each one of the stations filled with toys.  Several rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows were on rolls at each station.
“What …” Friday said behind me.
               Passing me, he walked to one of the stations and pulled out wrapping paper that had the old time Transformers images on it.  He stared at it for a while.  I walked up next to him and asked,
               “What is it, man?” 
               “This paper…” 
               “What about it?” 
               “It was the wrapping on all of my Christmas gifts until I was ten.  No matter what home I went to, it was always the same paper,” he said staring at the wrapping. 
               Friday had it rough growing up in foster care.  He’d never known his mom or dad and had been bounced from home to home until he’d joined the Navy when he turned eighteen. 
               “LT!”
Before I could look up, all hell broke loose.  Something came pouring out from the walls and under the tables but before we could figure out what the hell we were dealing with they’d attached themselves to our legs. 
“What the fuck!”  Friday said shaking his leg to try and get them off. 
“Do we shoot? What the hell do we do?”  Shaq yelled from behind me. 
When I looked down to figure out what had attached itself to me, I blinked and shook my head.  It looked like something out of Lord of the Rings or Gremlins; something out of a fantasy movie.  When they opened their mouth to scream, they had pointy teeth.  They were greenish gray with very little hair. 
“OW!  Fuck!” Friday screamed.
I watched him use the butt of his weapon and bop one of the creatures on the head.  The thing released him and ran away.  Suddenly I saw stars and felt blinding pain to my shin.  Son-of-a-bitch had bitten me!  So taking a cue from Friday, I did the same thing rifle butted the little bastard on the top of the head.  I couldn’t shoot myself, and our orders were to take as many of them alive as we could. 
“The bait!” 
Throwing the bait we’d been given to the center of the table seemed to get them focused somewhere else.  The shiny silver and gold balls bounce around as the creatures tried to catch them.  We’d been given nets to throw over them and to catch them but there were too many.  I had to think this thing through and stop reacting.   Then I remembered during our briefing we’d been told our enemy didn’t like bright lights.  I dug out a flare from my vest and threw it at the door so those little fuckers couldn’t get out.  It worked, they huddled together shying away from the light.
“Use the flares to get them bunched together,” I called out to my group. 
After we’d figured out how to capture them and rounded them up, we met at our designated landing zone or LZ.  It was the biggest building at the compound.  We walked inside and met Master Chief who was talking to guy in a camo Santa suit.  Now that I had time to think about the mission we’d just completed, I realized how surreal this whole thing had been.  I went to one of the crates where these little things were being kept to see if this was real.  The first word that came to my head to describe them was … goblin
The Recon Team leader came in with a creature who was human sized but looked just like the little ones we’d captured.  I joined Master Chief near a big table in the hall where we gathered.
“Kris, this is our SEAL team leader­–“
“Ah yes, red autobot transformer fire truck with a changeable spare tire, 1987.  Daniel you’ve grown into a fine man,” he said holding out his hand. 
I blinked.  The man had just described my favorite Christmas present, ever.  I remembered asking for that autobot when I was six years old.  My mom had set me up for disappointment because when they went back to get it, the store had sold out.  That had been the only Christmas I’d written a letter to Santa Claus begging for that truck.  I promised that I would donate all my other toys to kids who wouldn’t get any that Christmas if I go that Transformer.  Christmas Eve I had my mom take me to the police station where I gave away all of my toys to Blue Santa.  I remembered my mom and dad trying to talk me out of it because they’d told me I wouldn’t have anything to open but I’d seen it through.  Christmas morning, my autobot was there and so were all of my other presents.   
“Sir,” I said taking his hand.  
“Thank you for saving Christmas.” 
“I wouldn’t go that far, sir.  Christmas was coming no matter what.” 
“Not for everyone, Daniel.  It nice to see the goodness in some people never changes, you still put others before yourself.  You’ll never know how much you impact the world every time you put on your uniform and leave your family.  Thank you.”
               A lump formed in my throat at the thought of my family at home without me.  There was nothing for me to say so I nodded and moved away. 
God, how I wanted to be home...
“LT, we need to decide what to do with this one, he’s the leader of the GAC,” the Recon Team leader said. 
“Gabriel, why?”  Kris asked. 
“Why?  Why indeed! “ 
 “I don’t understand…” 
Kris looked confused and hurt.  Gabriel shook with rage, and I prepared to get in the middle.  I just knew the green monster would go for Kris’ throat.
“Mother favored you, always giving you all the glory while she banished me to a life in the shadows!”
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Kris turned to us and asked, “Gentlemen, may I have a private moment with my brother?”
Brother?  Holy shit!  Something got into that DNA woodpile and went south.  We shrugged and gave them some space.   We watched as they had a heated discussion then the green guy’s shoulders slumped and he put his face in his hands.   Kris put his hand on the guy’s shoulder and Gabriel nodded. 
“Master Chief, what’s going on?” 
“Family feud.  Gabriel is the Goblin king and the leader of the GAC.  We still need to take him in and have Badass talk to him to find out if he’s still a threat.”   
“Okay, what the hell is the GAC?” 
“Goblins against Christmas, a terrorist organization we’ve been tracking since ’89.  We’ve been able to contain the other threats.  The GAC was the only unknown until now.” 
By now I had accepted the fact that I was either dreaming or completely delusional.   I knew my Navy career would be coming to an end and I’d be locked in a room with lots of comfy pillows around me.  But I figured if I was going totally crazy, I needed to at least have a complete story. 
“Other threats?  What other threats?”
“Boy, have you been living under a rock?”  Master Chief growled. 
I knew he was already certifiable so this conversation seemed perfectly natural now. Master Chief sighed and shook his head. 
“In 1955, we had a first confirmed sighting of Kris Kringle.  NORAD verified that he was a friendly and an ally. We set up a listening post here in 1960.   In ‘69, the compound was attacked by the Abominable Snowman, then six years later, by Jack Frost.  We’ve been able to neutralize all threats except this one,” he said pointing to Gabriel. 
“You mean to tell me Santa Claus, the Abominable Snowman, and Jack Frost are real?” 
“What the hell do you want me to do?  Throw you in the Ivan’s cave?  After he bites you in the ass, maybe you’ll be convinced.  And Santa Claus is standing right fucking there!”  Master Chief said pointing at Kris. 
“Master Chief, I’m losing my fucking mind right now so you’ll excuse me if I want to hang on to what little sanity I have left!” 
“I know, I felt the same way the first time I had to deal with this.  But believe me, this is real and you’re not crazy.  Ask yourself something, who else knew about your bebot?”
“My what?” 
“You know that truck bebot thing Kris told you about.” 
“You mean autobot?  That’s Optimus Prime!  He’s not a bebot–
“Whatever, the point is how many people know the details of that story?” 
No one knew, not even my wife knew and I’d known her since the second grade.   By the time I’d come into the SEALs, I’d forgotten all about it until now. I had to admit, he had a point.  This was also Master Chief, and he had a way of finding things out.    In a very uncharacteristic move, Master Chief put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“Before we leave here, you’ll know it’s real and so is Santa Claus.”
Before I could say anything, Kris interrupted us.   
“Jimmy, we’ve worked everything out.  Gabriel will be staying here. He and his goblins will run the night crew.  Let Gavin know as soon as the rush is over, Gabriel has agreed to meet with him and debrief.  But right now, I can’t do without him. Tell Charlie, he has my word that the GAC has officially been changed to the GFC,” Kris said taking out his watch and shook his head, “I’m so far behind schedule.  He’ll be making the deliveries to the north and I’ll go south.  Line up the men who’ve come so that I can thank each one privately before I leave.”
“Yes, sir, I’ll get right on it,” Master Chief said. 
I grabbed Master Chief’s arm before he could move, “Wait a minute, we’re leaving our tango and those … things here?  What happened to our orders?”
Master Chief frowned and took out his satellite phone. 
“Dixie?  Kris says ‘hey’ and he also wants me to tell you that he and his brother have worked things out.  Gabriel has agreed to talk to Badass right after Kris gets all of his presents delivered.  He’s behind scheduled and needs some help.” He listened for a minute and said, “All right, I’ll tell Kris, Badass will be here on Tuesday.  Merry Christmas, admiral,” he said as he ended the call. “Are you okay with that, Lieutenant?”  
“Yeah,” I said shaking my head, “Whatever the admiral wants.”   
“Come on, boys.  Line up, we’re burning daylight!”  Master Chief shouted as he gathered the teams up and led us to the back part of the building. 
I felt like a kid again standing in line at the mall.   Only this time there was no way in hell I would consent to sitting on Santa’s lap.  I turned around and looked at my dive buddy behind me.  He was surveying the building.  By trade he was a structural engineer and whenever we went somewhere he always studied the buildings around us. 
“This place is old.  Look at the timbers, they’re almost petrified.  Early Norse engineering, like the great halls, it’s built to withstand the weather and keep the heat in,” he said.
“Shaq, are we dreaming, or have we gone nuts?”  I asked. 
Frowning, he asked, “What do you mean?  Don’t you believe in Santa Claus?”
“When I was a kid but seriously do you?”
“I never stopped believing.  Well I guess I did for a while, and those Christmas’ were the worst ones of my life.  They were empty.” 
“What do you mean?  Like no presents?”
“No, I always get presents, but sometimes they don’t mean anything, its stuff.  Real presents come from the heart.  The best present I ever got was the scarf the little kids from that tribe of nomads we rescued made.  I’ve never gotten anything so valuable in all my life.  They didn’t celebrate Christmas, but they understood the meaning.  They loved the idea of Santa Claus and unconditional love.”     
My dive buddy had a point.  I still had that autobot at my sister’s house.  Of all the presents I’d ever received, it was one of the few things I’d kept from my childhood.  When had I stopped believing in Santa? I was a little ashamed of myself because it had to be about the time I started taking things for granted.  Somewhere along the way I’d grown up and had stopped counting the blessings in my life.  Before I knew it, I got ushered into a room where Kris sat in a chair that looked right out of the Middle Ages. 
“Come here Daniel,” Kris said. 
“Sorry Santa, I’m not sitting on your lap.” 
Kris burst out laughing, “You haven’t lost your sense of humor.  Give me your hands.  I want you to think about what you really want for Christmas.” 
Reluctantly I put my hands in his. I swallowed hard because all I could think about was being home with my family.  That was all I wanted at the moment.  He bowed his head and closed his eyes then he suddenly raised his head. Letting my hands go, he reached into a bag beside him.
“Still thinking of others,” he said handing me something small.
I know my jaw dropped when I looked at what I’d been given.  It was the diamond bracelet I wanted to give my wife for Christmas. 
 “She’ll love it, not because of the price tag but because of the sacrifice behind it.”
At just past two am, I walked through the front door of my house.  Before doing anything else I went to the room down the hall from mine and knelt next to my son’s bed.  I watched him sleep for a little while before I kissed the top of his head.  This was why I wanted to be home.  This Christmas was the first one he’d understand.  I couldn’t believe how incredibly blessed my life had turned out.  I was proud that I had career that allowed me to protect the future of my family.  I curled up next to the love of my life and wrapped my arms around her.  Cuddling next to her warm body after being so cold was heaven.  I realized that since she’d come back into my life, I had everything I’ve wanted every day.    
“Danny?”
I must’ve woke her with all my moving around.
“Go back to sleep, babe.”
“I’m so glad you made it home in time.” 
“Me too,” I said kissing her shoulder. 
As much as I wanted to enjoy being close to her, I passed out before taking another breath.  When I woke up the next morning, my bed was warm and so was my soul mate lying next to me.  Her eyes opened and when she smiled at me I leaned forward and kissed her good morning.  Before I could even think of getting the Christmas present I really wanted, I heard little footsteps running down the hall.  Then …
“Daddy!  Daddy!  Daddy!”  My son screamed as he jumped in the middle our bed. 
Before he could really do some damage with all of his jumping, I lifted him so he could go into his Superman pose. 
“Take me to my presents,” he said squirming.
“Is today Christmas?”  I asked him.
“Yes!” 
“No! Not yet.  I think its tomorrow.”
That statement made him go still and disappointment crossed his face.  He looked to his mom for reassurance.
“Momma?”     
“Danny!  Stop it.  Come on mijo, let’s go open your presents,” his mom said getting out of bed. 
I remembered that feeling.  I’d be up before anyone and itching to open all my presents.    No-one had to tell me it was Christmas; I knew.  While I followed my wife and son down the hall, I wondered when I’d lost that excitement.  This last mission had changed the way I see Christmas and why it was so important.  The gifts didn't matter but the thought and love behind them did.  This needed to be a time when everyone took a time out and just enjoyed being close to the people who mattered in their lives.  Mostly I learned it was about reconciliation and starting a clean slate for someone who is lost.  While I watched my son drink in the magic of Christmas I knew I had a new mission, and it would be to make sure that he always believed and never lost his way like I had.  After he’d opened all of his presents, I dug into my ready bag that I’d left by the breakfast bar and took out the present from Kris. 
“This one’s for you, babe.” 
“Wow!  Did you wrap this?” 
I laughed and said, “Na, I had some help.”
Kris had his crew wrapped it so beautifully that the box could’ve been used for a decoration.   When she opened it, her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.  She’d told me not to get that bracelet because it had been a little beyond our budget.
“Why?”  She whispered.
“Because you deserve it.”
“We have to pay for school ­–“
I leaned over and kissed her before she could finish. 
“Don’t worry, it’s paid for.”
My wife quickly wiped away a couple of tears.  That was something to see because my lady is strong.  When I saw the gift had touched her that much, I knew Kris had been right and it really was special to her.   
“Daddy, yours,” My son said pushing a box toward me. 
My wife giggled when I picked up the heavy box. 
“What’s this?”  I asked before opening it. 
“It’s something Mikey and I picked out for you and the real reason I didn’t want you to get me the bracelet.  I’d already bought this.” 
When I opened the box, I swear my heart must’ve stopped for a minute.  It was something I’d wanted so bad when it had come out a couple of months back.  During my single days, I wouldn’t have thought twice about going out and getting it.  Now with a mortgage, a kid, and paying for her to finish college the almost seven hundred dollar Xbox One collector’s bundle had been out of the question.  When my heart started again, I said,
“Jeez, babe, this is a seven hundred dollar gaming bundle.  We couldn’t afford it when it came out, remember?  What about paying for school?” 
“I found one in the original wrapping at a Game Stop, the person who ordered it never came for it so the store called me.  The gift cards I got from my family covered some of it and I’d put aside the money for the rest–“
What had she just said?  I remembered what Kris said about sacrifice.  And yes this gaming system no matter how old and outdated it got would stay with me.    Running my hands over the box, I realized she’d spent the most of we’d set aside for our presents and used her gifts from her family on me.  To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. 
I couldn’t do that to her… she deserved a nice present and I was so glad he’d given me that bracelet.  Now I understood why it had touched her so much.  She’d given up a lot to give me something I’d wanted but had put aside. 
“Babe–“
Putting her finger to my lips she said, “You deserve it.” 

What did I tell you at the beginning?  Think I’m making this up? Nope, not one word.  I don’t think even Bella could make this one up… and she has one hell of an imagination… 

It really happened that way – Lieutenant's honor – it really happened that way. 

Gotta go!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Dressing Down for Master Chief

Undisclosed location, US Navy Special Warfare August 28, 2014/1846 Zulu

I’m sure most of you have heard, Master Chief hijacked Bella’s blog and declared war on her in the process. Needless to say, the captain wasn’t amused. When I walked in Monday morning, “hell to pay” was the standing order for the day. The captain found me before I could take my first sip of coffee.

“Lieutenant, I have a problem and I need to see you right now.”

I hated when he started a sentence like that because it never ended well. I left my cup of coffee to get cold and followed the captain back to his office. As we entered the passageway, we saw Master Chief walking towards us.

“Stop right there, Master Chief!” The captain commanded.

“What?” He asked innocently.

“Don’t fucking ‘what’ me. Get your ass in my office right the fuck now!” I moved away thinking that I had escaped the captain’s wrath. “You stay right the hell where you’re at,” the captain turned to me and ordered, “both of you in my office. Now.”

I cringed as I stood there because the captain was pissed beyond reason at the moment. I didn’t know what had caused his bad mood, and, frankly, I didn’t want to. As we walked toward the command suite, I ran through all of my potential screw-ups and a few actual ones.  None of them seemed bad enough to warrant a trip to the old man’s office to get my ass chewed.  Master Chief gave the captain his “what the fuck” expression but didn’t say anything. When you do what I do for a living, you get a sixth sense about being ambushed and that feeling hit me as I walked next to the captain. I wanted to be anywhere but where I stood at the moment.   I was unarmed, outflanked, and without a clue.  Little did I know Master Chief was the guilty bastard who'd put the captain in his current mood.  That feeling of being ambushed hit home when we arrived at the office and Friday, the captain’s admin, gave me his I wouldn’t want to be you look.  The captain slammed his door. 

“Who the hell shit in your Wheaties today, Rock?”  Masked Chief demanded.

“You! Motherfucker and your fucking around with that woman who has become my personal hell since I heard her name!  What the hell were you thinking?  What about covert and secret escape you?  WE AREN’T HERE!  What about that don’t you understand?”

“Aw, don’t get your panties in a wad.   I’m just having fun besides no one believes that shit anyway,”  Master Chief scoffed. 

The captain's eyes widened and he got that murderous look you never want to see on a seasoned SEAL, “For chrissakes, Master Chief! This isn’t a game …”

Say what?  Master Chief and Bella?  To borrow a phrase from Master Chief, holy crap on a cracker! By this time I’d tuned the captain out and wondered what kind of crazy shit Master Chief had done this time.  Last time he’d intercepted her emails and answered a bunch of interview questionnaires that ended up posted all over the internet.  Even the captain thought his antics were hilarious, until the Admiral called and told him to cut that shit out.  The captain turned back to me in all of his fury.

“And YOU, you little shit, how the hell did he get access to her blog?  What the fuck?  Isn’t that bullshit of hers secured!  How the hell ...” 

O H  F U C K.

Master Chief hacked into Bella’s blog while I was TAD? How!  How the hell did he get… Oh shit! I didn't hear the captain's rant any more as I looked at Master Chief.  He smiled at me like he used to just before he put me through the tenth level of hell in SQTs.   That evil grin sent a chill through me because I remembered what a sick, vicious, bastard he could be.  Then I remembered the bug I had put on his computer sometime back to get access to his passwords (see my back brief of that incident here).  How did he know? How did he find it and how the hell did he crack it and get it back to me?  And – 

“Lieutenant!  Answer me!”  The captain ordered.

“Aye, Captain!”  I snapped. 

Oh hell!  I hadn’t heard the question much less have an answer.  Master Chief folded his arms and continued grinning at me.  I’d gotten so paranoid about what Master Chief might have done that I’d forgotten about the captain’s tirade.  That deranged son-of-a-bitch had managed to change the whole focus of this dressing down from him to me AND had managed to crack my password hacking code and use it against ME!

Whoa!  Slow down. 

 I remember that Master Chief isn’t that smart, rattlesnake mean and dangerous, yes  Tech savvy?  No. Five year olds ran circles around him when it came to technology. He could barely manage email.  The IPhone he been given had been forced on him by the Navy.  No.  Just no.  My paranoia had run away with me.  I took a deep breath and came back to reality and quickly wished I hadn’t.  The captain looked as if he had the enemy in his crosshairs.  I braced myself and prepared for the worse.

“Did you see something shiny, Lieutenant?” the captain asked.

“No, captain.”

“Do I have your attention?  Or do you have something more important to do today?”

“No, sir.  I’m good.” 

The captain looked away, closed his eyes, and shook his head. “Get your ass back to your desk and figure out what kind of damage the dung heap reject here caused,”  he said pointing at Master Chief, “and report back as soon as you figure it out.” 

“Aye, captain.” 

“Did you hear me this time, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir, captain.”

As soon as you figure it out means by the end of day. Repeat that drop dead time so I can make sure your ADHD didn’t get in the way this time.”

“End of day, captain.”

“Get the fuck out of my sight.” 

Master Chief smiled at me as I passed and started to walk out with me. 

“Hold on, Master Chief, I dismissed the dumb-assed Lieutenant.  Not you.  Get your ass back here.” 

I closed the door just as the captain lost his shit all over Master Chief.   I walked back to my office and tried to think about where I would start.  As I logged into my computer, I remembered the password capture program I’d put on Master Chief’s computer almost a year ago.   I’d forgotten the little bug even existed until now.  I searched through my archives and found it.  Just as I called up the program and launched it my dive buddy, Lieutenant JG Harman walked in and took a seat in front of my desk.  I realized that after the last incident involving my dive buddy, I had taken those chairs out of my office and now they were back. 

“So why is the captain in a shitty mood today?” 

I really need to move those chairs again …

“I don’t know, go ask him,”  I snapped. 

“What the hell’s your problem?  Did he chew your ass, too?”  Shaq asked. 

Before I could answer, we heard an evil laugh at the door. I didn’t need to look up to see who it had come from.  That laugh had been ingrained in my nightmares, and I associated it with the worst sort of trauma. I finally looked up and saw the face of evil.

“How’s your focus now, Lieutenant?” 

“Just fine, Master Chief.”

“That’ll teach you to keep your dick-beaters out of my computer.”  Turning back to the passageway, Master Chief called out, “The answer to your question is, yes, I had help, Lieutenant.” 


Shaq and I looked at each other, stunned.  What the hell did that mean?  Then I recalled the last incident with Bella when the captain thought we had a mole in the group.  Could it be ...  No … Not Master Chief … but jasmine22 might … 


Checkout jasmine22's (aka Master Chief) latest download available from BookStrand.com


Widower and Air Force reservist, Tom Ryan fills the empty spaces in his life by building dream homes for others. When he’s invited to a client’s party, he meets the owner’s sister-in-law, a tempestuous artist, and discovers that maybe there is a wrong time to meet the right person…

Free-spirited Emily Sanchez is known for pushing the envelope in art, but meeting dependable, and down-to-earth Tom challenges her. The man has submissive written all over him, and she thinks she might be just the woman to peel back the layers and release the brilliant passion inside.

But when they are paired by Madame Eve, Tom turns the tables on Emily, because he’s always been curious about the lifestyle and if the chaotic artist is willing to surrender, they may discover their deepest desire…


Friday, August 22, 2014

Let the Hunt Begin

Undisclosed Location US Navy Special Warfare August 22, 2014/1515 Zulu

Hello?  Hello?  Did it work?  

Ha!  I’m in!  That little fucker ain’t the only one who can hack a password!  Guess who?  That’s right, it’s Master Chief. 

Capital “M”, capital “C” -- I don’t give a fuck what your English teacher taught you.  In this man’s Navy, I AM MASTER CHIEF – period.

That fuckstick lieutenant has been sleeping on the job and letting Bella run wild to wreak all kinds of destruction.  She’s punching all kinds of holes in national security.   Do you know what she’s been up to?  Neither do we, and that should scare the crap out of anyone who loves this country and wants to keep it terrorist-free.  So while the LT is out fucking around playing Eagle Scout somewhere down in Arizona with some of the other tadpoles, I’ve been charged with putting a stop to Bella. 

And I will stop her.

How? You may ask?  Well let me enlighten you … I am the biggest, baddest motherfucker there is.  The sandbox I play in is for big boys.  Bella had better be prepared, ‘cuz I will kick this up a notch like no-one has ever seen.  Tell her if you see her:  Master Chief is coming for her in the night – and not in a good way.  Fair warning. 

Aw, now don’t get me wrong or anything -- I don’t mean to hurt her, physically anyway.  Even though she did write an unauthorized biography about me. 

Speaking of …

If you are going to spill national secrets and write about MY escapades, at least get it CORRECT.  She didn’t tell you half of the good shit!  She didn’t tell you all about that bachelor party in St. Thomas (Rock and I do own a bar in the US Virgin Islands after that trip), or the time we all went out for a little night cap in Istanbul.  And, for CHRISSAKE get my description right!  I’m a good-looking bastard with lots of charisma – a real charmer. 

All I hear about is Rock and Badass, Rock and Dan, Rock and Doc, Rock, Doc, Rock!!!!! **Swoons** Oh those green eyes … Oh he’s a Dom … Ah, bullshit! Take a look into these baby blues, sugar.  I guarantee you will never go green again!  I taught that green-eyed streak-on-shorts everything he knows.  And Doc?  That freaky fucker! I wouldn’t trust him alone with my nekkid body, no telling what that sadistic bastard would do.  Let me die from lead poisoning, please. I can’t take credit for that one; he came to us like that.  (I did teach him how to shoot.  He didn’t know a gun from his ass when I met him, damn city boy.) 

Now me and Dixie!  That’s a pair!  The stories I could tell about the Admiral.  But unlike Bella, my lips are sealed.  Loose Lips Sink Ships.  I sincerely hope she’s not planning a book about Dixie.  This could turn ugly if she did.  The admiral doesn’t have a sense of humor like me.  Why?  Because he’s an admiral.  If she plans on telling Dixie’s story, prepare to file a missing person’s report.  She needs to put those lips of hers to better use instead of blabbing about national secrets and private lives.  Half the command staff has PPB (Post Pain Bella) although I still believe she exaggerated some of those facts. 

Last I heard she’s disappeared.  If she knows what’s good for her, she’ll stay quiet.  But if you see her, let her know she’s on MY radar and I’m scanning.  From what I understand, she’s terrorizing and spreading falsehoods about another group.  She needs to watch it – those guys play with cement.  Give her this warning, from Master Chief, with love, and let her know I had a tear in my eye: RED HORSE has cement mixers and if you go missing we will not be able to use a cadaver dog on a freshly poured runway in a war zone – we can’t risk losing the dog.

So here it is ladies, Master Chief, is back in town and searching high and low for Bella. 

Let the hunt begin …

– Master Chief Out!


You can read Master Chief’s story at http://www.bookstrand.com/tactical-error

Blurb: 
Master Chief James “JJ” Jones is at the end of a thirty-two-year Navy SEAL Career. At a chance meeting in San Diego, he meets recently widowed and retired teacher Irene Ortiz. JJ and Irene feel an undeniable attraction that pulls them together for one night. He draws passion from the lonely Irene, the likes of which she has never known.


When JJ becomes the target of a traitor, his life and his budding love for Irene are put in jeopardy. He leaves his beloved SEALs to track down the people responsible for planning his demise when he discovers a plot that could bring the United States military to its knees. JJ is recalled to Special Warfare Group Five and sets out on a worldwide chase.

Irene decides to follow her heart, and at JJ’s side, she helps him to stop fervent terrorists from unleashing a deadly pathogen. Will JJ and Irene be able to keep the terrorists from unleashing a nightmare?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bella’s Back on the Watch List

Undisclosed Location US Navy Special Warfare November 12, 2013/2017 Zulu

Hey remember me?  I know it’s been a while, I’ve been deployed.  Well I’m back now and since I’ve returned, things seemed to have quieted down a little or so it seemed until today… 

Looks like while we were gone mopping up the bad guys, Bella has been laying pretty low, too.  We’d managed to arrange it so she’d be so overwhelmed with her day job that she couldn’t breach national security in her spare time.  Apparently she found some spare time. I was walking in from having lunch off base with my dive buddy and a couple of the other guys in the group.  We decided to head out to an awesome Thai place near the base.  I was feeling pretty good until I saw double trouble heading my way.

“Hold up!”  Master Chief Jones called to us. 

“Lieutenant, I need to see you right away.  In my office, ASAP”   Captain O’Malley said. 

I searched my mind and tried to remember if there was anything I’d done to get my ass chewed.

“What the hell did you do now?”  My dive buddy LTJG Shaq Harman asked.  

“Hell if I know, we haven’t been back long enough to screw up that bad.”    

“No, it’s not you LT.  It’s Bella,” Friday said.  He was the captain’s admin and when we wanted the latest scuttlebutt we just went to him.  “He got a watch list hit on her today.  He called Master Chief into his office first and then Badass dropped by.  They must’ve decided what to do.”

A shudder of terror ran through me.  I’ve dealt with some pretty scary shit in my time and not batted an eye at the danger but when it comes to dealing with Bella I just want to scream; fuck it!  I’m not doing this anymore.  For those of you who don’t know the hell she’s caused, read the previous posts.  Let me just say this in summary, Nostradamus didn’t see her coming!  He saw every scourge to mankind in modern times, but that ancient bastard fell short when it came to Bella

Shaq put his hand on my shoulder and shook his head, “Good luck with that, bro.  Nice knowing you and I’ll miss you.”

“Thanks,” I said sarcastically.

“Come on, LT, captain’s waiting,” Friday said with concern.

I drug my feet as I walked to the command suite.  Bella had managed to achieve what even the most sinister bad guys and Master Chief couldn’t; she scared the hell out of me.  My chest tightened and I swear I was on the verge of panic.  I gave myself a kick in the ass and got my head in the game as I walked into the captain’s office. 

“About fucking time!  What the hell did you do, take the scenic route and get lost?” Master Chief demanded. 

“No, I found the office just fine.” 
Nope, that cranky old bastard didn’t scare my anymore.  I was about to get it from Bella, I knew it was coming and that scared me more than Master Chief in all his fury, and that’s saying something.  Captain looked off into the distance and shook his head.  This was bad I knew that look and he was pissed. 

“I have a problem and I need it solved,” the captain said. 

“What’s the problem, sir?” 

“Bella is back and I think she has a mole in my group.” 

Holy fucking shit, Batman!  We’ve got a mole?  Someone’s been giving her information?  What the… No!  That can’t be…   

“How can she have a mole?  Everything she has is electronic unless someone gave her access and sure as hell wasn’t me.” 

“I’m not saying it was you, Dan.” 

“Unless you just want to confess now and save us the trouble,” Master Chief said.    

“Whoa!  You think it is me?”

“Shut up and quit fucking around!  This is serious.”  Captain snapped at Master Chief.

“Damn right it’s serious.  It’s seriously fucked up.  I’ll find the cocksucker responsible.  Don’t worry about that.”  Master Chief said.

Jihad had found a new definition in Master Chief’s statement.  That crazy-ass fucker declaring war was bad news. I felt sorry for the poor bastard who was the mole because deep shit didn’t cover what was about to happen when we found him out.

“I think she’s doing this the old school way, she has someone helping her.  Your new mission in life, until I tell you different, is to track every electronic device that comes in and out of this building.”

“Yes, sir,” I said as I turned to leave.

I had a hell of job ahead of me.  I had to figure out just how in the hell I would track and pair every electronic computer device that came into this building AND get hits on keywords that would lead us to this mole.  Not to mention sift through the data and try to make any sense of it. 

“Oh and Lieutenant, find out who that next book is about.  I think I saw she has one coming out soon,” the captain said. 

“Oh?  Are you a fan now, captain?”  Master Chief asked. 

“Fuck you! Master Chief, I’m doing my job not sitting around with my thumb up my ass.  I’m not the fan girl you are!” 

“You just don’t appreciate good literature,” Master Chief mumbled.

“Is that what it’s called, Jasmine22?”  Captain asked referring to Master Chief’s BookStand username.

Master Chief started to say something but I opened my big mouth faster than he could open his. 

“Can I go, sir?” 

“What the fuck’s your hurry?” 

Uh-oh, things were getting tense around here again.  I was finally dismissed and went back to my office.  I dug back into my archives.  Unfortunately the last book I had information on was for Minefield, Doc’s book.  I launched a computer program that I’d written and had perfected while I’d been gone. It gave me something to do while waiting for the next op.  This time I was sure Bella couldn’t breach it.  Within an hour, I was downloading information from her cloud storage drive.  I saw she didn’t have one book but two books coming out.  One was due out on Black Friday and apparently Bella had been busy infiltrating another military outfit, the Air Force combat engineers at RED HORSE.  No wonder she’d been so quiet with us.  I made a mental note to tell the captain that we needed to reach out to the group that was her new target. 

“So what happened?”  Shaq asked as he took one of the chairs in my office.

“Holy shit, you scared the fuck out me!”  I said nearly jumping out of my skin. 

“A little jumpy aren’t you?”  Shaq said with a frown, “Spill it, what the hell is going on?” 

“For the love Christ, Shaq, I can’t tell you.”  I snapped as I watched the last folder sync to my drive. 

I opened the drive and perused the folders.  She had at least six books in the works, one ready for release and one she was hot and heavy on.   I opened the one that was due for release and saw it was about a guy from RED HORSE.  That was cool at least it wasn’t any one here.  I opened the folder she was hot and heavy on and the blood drained to my feet, my vision got foggy, and the next thing I knew I was looking up and Shaq was keeling over me. 

“Wake up damn it!  I’m not giving your ugly ass mouth to mouth!”  Shaq screamed frantically. 

“What the fuck are you doing? And what the hell am I doing on the floor?”  I demanded pushing his hands off my chest.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?”  Shaq said helping me to my feet. 

“What’s the racket about? I’m trying to write up my research…  Are you okay?”  Doc asked coming around to help Shaq.  “What the hell happened?” 

Lieutenant Alex “Doc” Richards, the resident doctor and head of our medics started looking me over.  “You might have a concussion, look at me.”  Doc said grabbing my face. 

“Get your fucking hands off me, Doc.  I’m fine.” 

“Bullshit, what happened? Did your chair break? Is that how you fell?”  Doc asked while he felt me up.  “You might need to go to the ER.  Let me see.” 

“I’m not going anywhere.”  I said backing away as far as I could. 

“Fine motherfucker, go ahead and die from brain trauma.”  Doc shrugged and walked off.

I shook my head and squeezed my eyes shut.  I sat in my chair and leaned my head back trying to remember what had happened before I passed out.  That’s right, I was reading Bella’s latestOh fuck!  I got dizzy again.  Shaq went around and resumed his seat.  I looked away from the screen and at my dive buddy.  He’d caught a glimpse of what I was reading.  Book six was coming and it had my name all over it.

“Not a fucking word.  Do you hear me?” I growled at Shaq.

       To be continued…

Coming November 28, 2013 from Decadent Publishing

 Visit bellajuarez.com for a peek