Gary’s eyes immediately widened to the size fifty cent pieces. He knew that there was no way out of his situation; as he felt the person behind him remove the Kimber from his rear waist.
“Mistah…you’ah gonna turn around…and real slow. If you don’t do exactly what I tell you…we’ll kill you.” Jefferson stepped back a step to give his prisoner some room to turn.
Gary turned around, still holding onto the ceramic tray where half of the cooked burgers were on, the other half were still cooking on the grill. Looking at the man in front of him with the pistol centered on his forehead; “You need to improve your people skills” Gary said to the unmoving SEAL.
“Shut yo mouth. You will talk only when we say…you understand?”
Gary nodded yes and noticed that to his right and left two other men had their weapons focused on his head. The man in the center came up behind the one directly in front and slipped a pair of nylon handcuffs into his hand.
“Now Mistah, you gonna set that tray down real nice and easy like, and then you gonna get flat on your belly…I don’t need to repeat that we will kill you if you make a dumb move…undah-stand?”
Gary nodded again and slowly set the tray of burgers down and then lay prone. Once down, the SEAL aggressively kneed him in the back and forcefully pulled his arms around and cuffed him tightly.
“Clear!” said Jefferson into the microphone. He then started to frisk the prone prisoner, taking the knife clipped inside his pocket and removing the two spare magazines for the Kimber. Feeling no other weapons, the SEAL stood up as the others gathered around.
“What are they doing to him?” April exclaimed. Lauren and April wrapped their arms around each other in fear.
The look on Robs face told her to mind her own business.
“Rob…what are you doing?” Lauren said “Where’s Jack?”
“He’s in the back of the house Lauren, who’s your friend?”
“This is April; a former student of mine from Maryland, and that’s her friend Gary, also from Maryland.”
Rob looked at Lauren “Maryland, huh?” Rob had heard that state mentioned too many times in the past 24 hours for this to be coincidence.
Jack came around the corner and into the kitchen “Lauren are you alright?”
Lauren broke away from April and ran to her husband and hugged him “What’s going on Jack?”
“Lauren, Rob and his team are here to protect me…there’s someone out to kill me.” Jack said looking at April
“You don’t think that we’re here to kill you do you Mr. Miller?” April said shocked
“You look familiar, what’s your name?”
“I remember you now, from Simmonsville, right?”
“Yes, Lauren was my History teacher” April paused for a moment “Mr. Miller, we’re not here to hurt you.” April pleaded
“Well, missy. Then what’s your friend doing out there with that cockamamie name and carrying a weapon?” Rob interjected
Outside on the patio; the prone Gary and the SEAL’s were silent. Rob walked out side and kneeled down to Gary. “What’s your name and what are you doing here?”
“My name is Gary Martin” Gary said as he tried to roll over and see who was talking to him. Jefferson’s foot was squarely on Gary’s back and made that movement impossible. “I’m here to see Captain Miller...is that you?”
“No I’m not, and you’re not getting within a stones throw of the Captain.” Rob paused “Now, I know that you’re here to kill him, so why don’t you save the talk and just admit to it.”
“Kill him!” Gary was shocked at this mans accusation “You got it wrong, pal.”
Another team member came out of the back and spoke to the Commander “Skipper, he’s got a fully loaded Garand, a pack with frags and this…” SEAL member Jose Espinoza held up the Ruger pistol. “…a .22 with a hush puppy, sir.”
“Thanks Spic” Rob said and again spoke to Gary “I guess that you’re here for a social call, right...” Rob looked at the prone man “…and you just happen to carry a silenced pistol with you” The team Commander paused again “You have about thirty seconds to tell me what you are doing here, or my guys are going to take you over to those woods and put two into the back of your head.”
“I am here to see Captain Miller…I am NOT here to kill him.” Gary was adamant, but did not know who these people were or whether they could be trusted with his information.
Rob spoke to Jefferson “Kill him”
“Yes suh.” Jefferson pulled Gary up to his feet by his wrists and forcefully shoved him towards the side gate of the back yard.
“What are they doing to him?” April was upset and looked as the men were taking Gary out the side gate. “Please don’t let them hurt him Mr. Miller!” April started to cry “He’s here to HELP YOU.”
Lauren looked at her husband and nodded her agreement with April “Jack?!”
Jack stepped out the back door and said “Rob…stop.”
Rob called back his men and walking over to Jack “Jack…he’s here to kill you.”
“Bring him over here “Jack pointed to the patio table. The SEAL’s turned Gary around and shoved him towards the table where his Kimber lay; slide opened and locked back and the magazine out of the weapon. Hebrew picked up the Kimber and magazine and then stood back.
Gary sat down and the team surrounded him with their weapons at the ready “Alright mister, what are you doing here?” Jack asked
Gary looked at the Captain and saw his name tag “You’re Captain Miller, right?”
“It’s good that you can read, now answer my question…what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to help you, Captain.” Turning to the SEAL Commander “and you too, Commander.” Gary paused again “and then maybe you can help us.”
Rob laughed “You’re here to help us?” chuckling again “Look around Mr. Martin, I think you’re the one that needs help.” That brought a smile to the other SEAL’s “You see this uniform, Martin? It’s the United States Navy uniform; Martin…and the United States Navy don’t need your help.”
Gary looked at the Commander “Is that so?” pausing “Then tell me Commander, why it is that your men are so spread out that you couldn’t mount an attack on a Seven Eleven without two weeks notice?” Gary’s retort took Rob by surprise and he continued “Tell me Commander why is it that whenever your men climb into a helicopter or aircraft, they crash…and why is it Commander that the investigation results are always; ‘operator error’?”
“You’re not telling me anything that I don’t already know Martin.” Rob said angrily
“So, Commander…how many of your men HAVE you lost?” Gary statement hit home and Rob took a minute before answering
Rob looked at Gary with pure anger “Too many, Mr. Martin…way too many”
“Yeah, I know. That last group of forty seven that got killed…that must have been a shock, wasn’t it?” Gary wasn’t trying to be insolent, just stating the obvious
“Forty seven?” Robs eyebrows rose
“Yes...forty seven. Forty seven special forces troops killed in the crash of a Chinook helicopter in Africa; Tanzania to be exact.”
Rob looked at Gary “We haven’t lost forty seven men or a Chinook, Martin”
Gary looked down and grunted “Hmmm” Looking at the Captain and continuing “You’ve lost four subs…ever wonder how they are killing you?”
Jack came back quickly “Martin, I don’t know what you are smoking, but we haven’t lost four boats, frankly the information on our losses is widely known; we have lost three…not four. Again Martin…it seems you’re wrong.”
“Then the fourth hasn’t happened yet, but it will.” Gary said sadly but with assurance
“Ok, Martin, I’ll play your game…tell me, what subs have been lost?” Jack wasn’t impressed with Gary’s information
Gary thought for a moment and replied “I don’t know the name of the first one, however, the second and third ones are the Maryland and the Wyoming…the fourth I don’t know the name of that one either…” before he could go any further Jack jumped back into the conversation
“Just as I thought, you’re fishing…you don’t know anything” Jack was smug and not willing to give Gary the benefit of doubt
“As I was saying, I don’t know the name of the fourth sub, but I did hear some of the crew names.”
“What are you talking about?”
Gary spoke without the concern of how he knew “Ok, not the Commander of the sub, but the guy who is his second in Command, he was called ‘Skeet’s’”
Jack did a double take and looked at Gary “What did you say?”
“I said the Sub Commander called him ‘Skeet’s’” Gary paused and thought about the dream for a moment “The other guy was the sonar operator and his name was ‘Gunderson’” Gary paused and looked at Jack “Do any of those names mean anything to you?”
Jack sat back and rubbed his chin. “I don’t know where you heard the name Skeet’s, which is the nickname of Rick Adams. Rick is the XO or Executive Officer of the West Virginia, Blue crew.” Jack thought a moment “You see Martin; the force is split into two separate teams, Blue and Gold. Each tour that the teams go on is three months long, so to keep the boats out as long as possible and to keep the men as fresh as possible; we have two teams. When one team finishes their tour, the other then goes out, do you understand?”
Gary nodded yes
“I don’t know whether I am amazed that you know Rick’s nickname or whether you got this information from someplace else. Rick’s nickname is from his complete lack of ability to hit anything with a shotgun.” Pausing for a moment “A bunch of us would get together and shoot trap…”Skeet’s” couldn’t hit the broadside of a bulls butt…that’s where he got the name, and as you can well imagine; not too many people called him that.” Again a pause “I don’t know why I am telling this to you” Jack said in exasperation “…and do you know what I think Martin?”
Gary shook his head “No what, Captain”
“I think you’re full of shit, that’s what. Now, I don’t know where you got this information, but your game is over. You made a mistake…a big mistake Martin, you see, the sonar operator that you say is named Gunderson…his name is Chuck Gunderson.” Pausing to explain Gary’s error “Chucky is on the Gold team Martin, so he cannot possibly be on that boat.” Pausing again “Martin, I don’t what con game you’re playing, but you cannot explain this one away…and I want you out of my house.” Jack got up and left to talk to Lauren about this new situation.
As Jack got up to leave, Rob’s cell phone buzzed. Taking a few steps away from the picnic table where Gary sat and looking at the display he answered “Toland”
“Sir, Graham here. I just wanted you to know that I am finally set up…”
Rob cut him off in mid-sentence. “Geek, I don’t have the time for this now. Call me later”
“…yes Sir. Skipper, you told me to inform you of any Intel or actions that might affect us, right?”
“Sure Graham, but right now I am pretty busy, can it wait?”
“I guess it can, Sir…I…I just wanted to say that there was another crash, Sir”
“Call me later” Rob hung up and took a step towards the table where Gary was, realizing what Graham had just said, Rob flipped open the phone and re-dialed Graham’s number. Graham answered on the second ring.
“Graham…what did you just say?”
“Skipper, I just received a flash message that there was another crash, killing some Special Forces operators, and…”
“Graham, what are the details on this?” Rob said hesitantly
“Well, it says” Graham paused to read the message “that a Chinook crashed, killing all aboard…forty seven Spec Ops…Green Beret’s and SEAL’s…damn sad, isn’t it sir?”
Rob paused to catch his breath. “More than sad Graham…did it say where they crashed?”
“Yes sir. It was in Africa, Tanzania to be exact.”
Rob was in total disbelief at what he just heard and as he was listening to Graham, leaned up against the patio deck railing to steady himself. “Graham…how old is this report?”
“It just came in Skipper, not ten minutes ago.”
“Thanks Geek” Rob hung up and just stared at the ground for a moment, trying to clear the buzzing in his head. The other SEAL’s looked at their Skipper and knew something was up.
“Suh…you alright?” Jefferson asked
Rob looked at Jefferson and shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘I don’t know’, turning and walking into the house he found Jack and Laura in a heated conversation over the status of Gary and April. “Jack?”
Jack looked over to Rob and said curtly “What?”
Rob didn’t care what type of conversation Jack was involved in “How sure are you that Gunderson is NOT on that boat?” Rob asked
“Jack…I think you should call Personnel and make 100% sure” Rob said
“What are you talking about Rob?” Jack looked at his friend “Do you believe what he’s saying? Come on Rob, its pure crap, and you know it”
“Jack…make the call, ok?” Rob was insistent and Jack knew that when his friend was this insistent, then it was for a reason.
“Whatever” Jack opened his cell phone and dialed his office. Looking at his watch he saw that they had about five minutes until PO3 Jones closed down for the night. The phone rang and on the third ring PO3 Jones answered.
“Wanda, this is Captain Miller. Do you have the number for Personnel?”
“Yes sir I do, would you like for me to transfer you?”
“Yes please” the phone went through the electronic switching and “Personnel, Petty Officer Stephens, May I help you?”
“This is Captain Miller, Commanding Officer of the Nebraska. I need to check the status of a sonar operator for the West Virginia.”
“Yes sir, how can I help?” PO3 Stephens said
“I need to know what team Chuck Gunderson is on, Blue or Gold.” Jack asked authoritatively
PO3 pulled the records for Gunderson and said “Captain Miller, Chuck Gunderson is on the Gold team”
“Thank you very much” Jack was getting ready to hang up
“You’re welcome Sir…by the way, that sure was a decent thing that Gunderson did, wasn’t it Sir?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh…Sir, you don’t know?”
“Well Sir, Gunderson is on the Gold team, but his counterpart on the Blue team, William Hastings, had a death in the family…it was his Mother and it happened just two days before they were to ship out. I guess that Chuck and William are pretty good friends...anyway, Chuck switched with William...so he’s on a consecutive tour. That was pretty nice of him, don’t you think Sir?” the phone was silent “Sir?”
Jack lost his thought momentarily “Yes…yes that was very nice of him. Thank you, oh by the way…who knows about this? I mean is it in any records or public knowledge?”
“No Sir. The only people that know are Captain Jakes of the Gold team and Captain Walters of the Blue team, they authorized the switch.”
Jack hung up the phone without saying goodbye and looked at Rob with complete disbelief in his eyes. “Let’s go talk to Martin” The two both walked outside and sat down at the table at the same time.
Lauren and April watched the instant change in the attitudes of the two men; they looked at one another and followed.
Gary sat at the table and was ready to get up to vacate the Miller’s residence when Jack and Rob walked out at a brisk pace and sat down. Gary saw on their faces the look of shock and confusion, a look that changed from confidence which was borne from denial.
“Martin...how did you know?” Jack asked
“First…untie me” Gary commanded “and I want my Kimber and knife back. Also, where’s Larry?”
“The one in the Monte Carlo? He’s tied up in the garage” Rob said
“Untie him and bring him out here…we’re going to need him.” Gary said
Rob looked at Jefferson and nodded to the surprised soldier, who came over and with his razor sharp blade severed the nylon handcuff.
Gary looked at Jefferson and rubbing his wrists said “Jefferson, I’m not your enemy…I am here to help you guys” Gary paused “and believe me when I say that we’re going to need all the help we can”
David “Hebrew” Goldberg came over and set the Kimber and the knife on the table with the extra magazines, and went into the garage to untie the bound and gagged NASCAR Larry.
Gary looked at April and managed a slight smile towards her. Turning to Jack and Rob “My name is Gary…Gary Martin” holding his hand out, the two officers shook his hand, then formally introduced themselves. He then sat back down and addressed them both “Gentlemen, they are targeting and killing you and your men.” Gary paused and looked at Rob “Rob, they are shooting down the aircraft that your teams are flying on. They know when you put in a request for a helicopter or aircraft; after all you have to put in a request, right? They also know who’s onboard from those requests…and they shoot you down using that new Global Hawk with air to air missiles. They then control the accident reports and label them “Operator Error” or whatever.” Gary paused “Every time you get into an aircraft Rob, you are rolling the dice.”
Gary turned to Jack “Jack, they have been planning this for years. They are making your torpedoes blow up inside your subs. A few years ago you had some software changes made to the Mk 48 ADCAP’s right?”
Jack nodded “It was with a company called BAE Underwater Systems in Great Britain. They upgraded the targeting software on all ADCAP’s”
“There was a software engineer that was an espionage agent; he was paid to install a few lines of code within the software change. This software change somehow makes the torpedo explode when it is still inside the sub. I think that there is some kind of signal that is sent from another sub to set it off.” Gary explained to Jack who sat in complete disbelief. Not that he didn’t believe Gary; it was just too much to really comprehend the ramifications of it all. Also the method of attack on his subs was brilliant, as no one would suspect a software change to destroy the subs. This left Jack with a huge question of exactly ‘how’…’how’ did they do it, and ‘how’ do they verify this bit of information.
Gary took another breath and spoke to the now gathering SEAL’s, Larry, April and Lauren. “Now listen up. These guys are also murdering civilians. There are mass graves and the evidence clearly shows they are targeting Jews…” Gary looked directly at Hebrew “…and Christians, and probably anyone else that doesn’t buy into their program. I have personally found four of them.”
No one said a word. Jefferson finally broke the silence “Skippah…if what Mr. Martin sez is true…I mean, Suh...dis ain’t right” His SEAL brothers nodded in agreement, as did Rob and Jack.
Taking a deep breath Jack asked “How do you know this?”
“Know what? The sabotaged torpedoes; and the shot down aircraft? Or the mass graves?”
“All of it” Rob interjected
Gary paused “I was there”
All of the gathered SEAL’s and the two officers burst out in laughter, while Gary, April, Lauren and Larry didn’t. “Oh. Martin…that’s funny as hell!” Rob said as he finished his laugh. “Well, at least you have a sense of humor” Rob looked at Gary who wasn’t smiling. “Come on, you can’t be serious…you don’t expect us to believe…” Rob and Jack quickly turned quiet.
Gary took a breath, looked at the two and with the seriousness of a surgeon about to pronounce bad news “I know what I’m going to say to you is hard to believe…I didn’t ask for it…I didn’t want it…I was just given it. “Pausing again “Let me fill you in on the background, and then you can determine what you want to do with it...fair enough?”
The group nodded yes.
“Before I start, do you think that someone might want to take those burgers off the grill?” Gary smiled and they all looked at the round black rock hard lumps of meat that lay smoking on the grill. That brought a laugh. “Jack…do you mind if I have a drink of your whiskey?”
Jack responded “Martin I think that’s the smartest thing you’ve said so far.” Jack looked at Lauren and April who went into the rec room and produced two full bottles and a tray of glasses and ice, one each for everyone.
Everyone got their drink, with the exception of the pregnant Lauren, and had a quick swallow…April made a choking noise in the background. Gary looked over at her and smiled as she made a face back at him. “Let me start from the beginning”