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After spending half of his life in what his father had always called ‘the
Like Hoare’s magnificent failure in the Seychelles and Denard’s botched
Their whitewashed walls decorated with inset tiles or gaily colored glass
Woburn brightened. “That’d be nice. I’ll save you a seat.”
He inched his chair closer to the desk. “Parlez vous Français? Aw tureed
The man turned in the doorway. “Your Arabic is quite good.”
Mackenzie nodded. “See you again.”
This place wilt easily be taken by our valiant warriors.” But that had not
The red stripes of the Bronze Star matched those streaking his chest when
Ernestine Phillips had created a stir when presenting her credentials to the
Deeb grunted. “Indeed? As what?”
Deeb was inexorable. “Where did you work in Africa?”
Deeb swam into view in the Leicas and He Who Speaks gritted his teeth;
Security. Deeb’s odd remarks at dinner meant someone in the Ministry was
Farhat made a scribbling gesture on one palm; a notebook and pen in-
Mackenzie chanced a smile. “I will remember that.”
Leclerc shrugged. “Pity the woman who has Deeb for a husband.”
Honnecker and Jaruselski and Kim.” He shrugged. “Except for Tito and
Mackenzie was careful not to let his secret desire show on his face; he
Mackenzie lips moved in her hair. “A good night to be in love.”
He Who Speaks For The Mahdi might profess to the Faithful that he slept
Speaks beat time with his words. “Use the gun.” He shook his head. “I can-
Dressed in the spattered-dirt-and-sand camouflage uniform of the palace
At over two meters tall and with more than one hundred kilos gracing his
Madbak’s rising tone revealed his tension. “You heard the firing?”
It’d been awkward doing his exercises in the little courtyard of the old bar-
Christian missionaries working with the animist border tribes. A local
Ministry of Social Development issued a letter stating she was an ‘aban-
Mackenzie eyed the FSNs. “Perhaps we should move them to safety.”
Eighth and Eye we needed a SAW in the armory.” He shook his head. “But
He pointed at the distant gate. “These guys are chanting catchy anti-
That’s why I didn’t raise him on the radio. But if this crowd doesn’t dis-
Lawyer shrugged. “Not in the budget until next quarter.”
Israel. Some want to destroy us and Israel. Some want to destroy every-
Confederate casualties. It seems the Colonel complained that his leg hurt
Farid art enough. Then shalt we remove to a safer place to prepare for the
Lawyer guffawed. “Now that’s a bright idea if I’ve ever heard one!”
The ambassador played along. “Take the family out of the embassy.”
The smile of He Who Speaks slid away. “All too soon.” He admon-
Mahdi. That is what matters.” Nasim lowered his head in obedience
I just saw him standing across the way.” He nodded toward the rooftops
She whispered to Mackenzie: “Who the hell is Shorty?”
Before the muezzin called for evening prayer from the minaret atop the
Faithful and remained impassioned supporters of the Mahdi; with such
Speaks plunged into the business at hand. The Dughmans had been eager
Dughmans would give them status far beyond any other clan. While the
He Who Speaks nodded slowly. “Indeed.” He did not have that much
He Who Speaks shrugged. “There is Rizik.”
The amir frowned. “What has he done to be treated thus?”
Samaan’s dark-rimmed eyes flashed: “Not by the Dughmans!”
The amir surrendered gracefully. “That is more than he is worth.”
He Who Speaks nodded. “These matters have been decided. Come.”
He sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m way too tired.”
Leclerc’s careful coaxing elicited one about cross-border shenanigans in
Berlin that sounded true. Woburn described his difficult and awkward task
Malaysia. Leclerc regaled them with her desperate attempts to keep from
Mackenzie raised an eyebrow. “I thought we weren’t…”
She stared at him. “Are you really that clueless?”
He shook his head. “About what?”
Mackenzie added years and subtracted years. “My wife? Let’s see…”
He laughed in spite of the insult. “How old do you think I am?”
He hadn’t blushed in a long time. “I did.”
Pascaline rolled her eyes. “Young jarheads in love.” Turning to see who it
Mackenzie nodded. “Come on in. There’s coffee.”
Leclerc arched an eyebrow. “Do you take your breaks together?”
Mackenzie frowned. “Not funny.”
Mackenzie knew she was right. “So how do we hide in a fishbowl?”
Jordan and Lebanon were not to be dignified with the word. Those few
With the munitions packed like sardines in the narrow bilges of the small
Faithful here tonight. He Who Speaks thought it a delicious joke to take
Nor was the mosque frequented by their wealthy parents; tonight’s serv-
They responded with renewed vigor: “God is the Destroyer.”
Jaidar’s protest was feeble. “But we counted…”
Americans choose to have women fight for them is not our concern. How-
Farid Hassan thought before speaking. “Once the Marines at the gate are
Kamal pointed to the Afghani. “I will be at his back.”
Mackenzie had wondered how her hands would feel on him. Rolling into
He Who Speaks shook his head. “Not where anyone can see.”
Mackenzie shrugged. “It’s the voice.”
Alvarez stroked his face as she would a child. “You should rest.”
Reed chuckled. “Quiet? All I hear are those damn hammers.”
Franny was already moving. “How long do we have?”
Curtis stuck his head out of the shower. “Ten minutes!”
Her voice came from deep in the closet. “Damn that man!”
He Who Speaks flung open the ballroom doors and strode inside. In his
Special Operations Command like a fiefdom. With a series of spectacular
Southern as the general moved away from the Pentagon; this early in the
Barradas to make it go away. Now the admiral has asked me to fix it for
Russians. Now that American boys and girls were coming home in body
Curtis nodded. “What’s in the area?”
Malone snorted. “So much for the Marines.”
Jessup nodded. “That’s what Malone said you’d say.” He puffed on
Delta. Riding along when his teammates were sent to clear the airport after
Curtis frowned. “Where’d that come from?”
Her sniffling was muffled by his neck. “When I’m there I won’t al-
Who Speaks sighed; it was hard to create a dream with so much blood on
As if He Who Speaks kept business hours. “You have seen the news?”
Ansara finally sounded interested. “What sort of someone?”
He Who Speaks stiffened. “What is funny?”
American named Tessay. He Who Speaks wondered how his name was pro-
Lawyer tried one last time to assert himself. “I will not negotiate…”
Speaks landed like a whip. “Is that understood?” Lawyer nodded mutely
Carlson shrugged again. “My people are taking good care of me.”
Alvarez curled her lip. “¡No me chingas!”
The word came like a shot. “Where?”
North Carolina.” Mackenzie’s father taught him long ago that an imperfect
Diaz. “Get up.” He nudged Davies with a toe. “You are not hurt.”
He Who Speaks hid a smile. “I have heard of such things.”
Cap'n.” The Louisiana accent of Sergeant Thibodeaux crackled laconically
Russo shook his head. “We’re just getting started.”
Thibodeaux grinned. “We got intel.”
Corps globe and anchor at the top. “This came from the Commandant
Curtis whistled. “A lot of Marines for so small a place.”
Curtis scanned their faces. “That means we do the job right the first time.”
Curtis frowned. “The guy owns a kennel?”
Who are you? Diaz gave a one-word answer. Stunned by the enormity of
Kops routine; anxious for them to be settled and quiet in case He Who
Faithful lugged in an ice-chest from the kitchen. “Good news!” Looking
He smiled again. “I understand the RSO from your embassy in Bamako has
He Who Speaks smiled thinly. “The late Sergeant Bradley.” Catching a quiz-
Speaks smiled at the hostages. “Let us pray your government comes to its
Woburn doing their own restrained New England version of a hug and
She grinned mischievously. “And when I get even closer?”
She shrugged. “Sometimes it feels like they’ll never let us go.”
Curtis thought the place hadn’t progressed much since the thirteenth cen-
Franny’d laughed like hell. It had felt good to make her laugh; this busi-
Reed shrugged. “I think I know.”
Mackenzie turned back to Reed. “I need to sit.”
Mackenzie sat beside the triumphant young man. “What was that?”
Though it had been good psychological warfare to leave the hostages fear-
Who Speaks was almost sorry Mackenzie’s weak point had proved so
Speaks wouldn’t indulge her. “We have gained additional television units
But that wasn’t important; what was important were his intentions. Raising
He shook his head. “The stupidity of politicians never fails to amaze me.”
He Who Speaks smiled sadly. “Which makes you the same as the ninety
Speaks knew his tricks weren’t working. But he still had lessons to teach
Tessay looked away. “There is no one to sing.”
Davies blustered uneasily. “What the fuck’s that got to do with this?”
Peaches down for his turn. He banged the point of his shovel hard against
Peaches shocked them by speaking. “Ndaa dah naaziih.”
Peaches looked up. “I hate the desert.”
Mackenzie ran out of patience. “Because I say. So dig.”
Mackenzie lowered his head; his mouth hidden behind the blade of the
Kazim’s lips hardly moved when he spoke. “Peace be upon you.”
The flight south to SOCOM took place in silence. Paging his way
Malone took the opportunity to work on their own piles; the Army no
Navy ships steaming in from as far away as Iceland and the Canal Zone
Saturday night penny-ante poker or Sunday afternoon high-stakes military
Jessup straightened up. “You’re declining to partake?”
Navy in.” Jessup’s antipathy for the senior service was widely known
Normandy-style invasion SOCOM cooked up; they’ve been wanting a
Curtis nodded. “Are you an attaché with the French embassy?”
Special Operations Command.” Curtis pulled out a chair. “Did they tell
He Who Speaks cocked his head toward Jalal. “Is this possible?”
Who Speaks was ready. “I think you will be pleased with the man we have
Ansara nodded. “As requested.”
He Who Speaks stood up. “Until then.”
Saint Etienne.” The colonel smiled. “But surely no stupider a name than
Malone looked up. “I didn’t know there was one for the Adrar.”
Malone sighed. “God only knows how obsolete that is.”
Malone nodded. “It’s why we’re happy you’re here.”
He pointed to the north and west. “Here the hookah makers can easily ac-
Duplessis smiled gently. “Would you carry stones farther?”
Duplessis smiled wryly. “Sorry. I was reciting Anatole France: You
Curtis smiled. “We’ll just have to make do with Delta troopers.”
Who Speaks could feel the smile slip from his face; the man was so irritat-
Mackenzie; he really should have investigated him more closely. “Self-
Phillips looked perturbed. “But I’m left-handed!”
The explaining officer shrugged. “That’s our best guess.”
He glanced warily at the military across the table; careers were known to
The Secretary glared at the National Security Advisor. “When you get
Admiral Barradas grunted. “I’d hoped we’d get them all.” Somber
Grisholm sighed. “But I understand the Advisor has news which does af-
Curtis knew Delta was never going on this one. They watched satellite im-
Jalal sighed. “It was better for me to die.”
Echelon system would have located his satellite telephone within minutes
Who Speaks smiled. “Now sayeth thou wilt live. I wouldst not waste such
Jalal’s shoulder gently. “The Faithful wouldst gladly trade thee alive for all
Malone was rarely this excited. “The President says you’re going.”
We may experience casualties. We may even experience casualties among
Speaks reflected on how the Arabs’ own excesses gave them cause; the
Arab Emirates spent two hundred thousand dollars a day on his riding
Speaks hated when they cried or screamed or shouted imprecations; better
Mackenzie raised an eyebrow. “You’re not worried about an assault?”
Who Speaks sighed. How was he to explain the power and the liberation
Mackenzie shrugged. “How does holding hostages achieve justice?”
But dearest to the heart of the Mahdi are the revolts of the Romanians and
He nodded. “The same could easily happen here.”
He Who Speaks prodded the mound. “Were these your friends?”
Mackenzie nodded. “What do you want from me?”
He Who Speaks had been able to lead men to their deaths to fulfill his
He Who Speaks nodded. “I am willing to die for my beliefs.”
Mackenzie nodded. “The Corps sure as hell will.”
Keys. While SOCOM had arranged for them to use one of the few non-
The sergeant smirked. “Seems the President’s come up with a plan to stop
Dunayev laughed. “We’ll be lucky if we can all squeeze inside.”
Afghanistan-tan-and-brown warpaint. Wearing the blue berets and dark-
Timoshenko half-turned. “May I introduce Captain Ivan Ivanovich
Rodichev pretended to not have heard. “What?”
Curtis raised an eyebrow. “How’d you know his name?”
Curtis rolled his eyes; Russian paranoia again. “What spies?”
Even paranoids had enemies. Curtis nodded. “I’ll keep them in line.”
Americans in the small cabin behind the flight deck. Curtis insisted they
By then it was obvious there was far more going on than just a personality
Kalinin nodded. “Perhaps.” He shook his head. “I was warned about
Thibodeaux guffawed and stuck out a hairy paw. “So they say.”
He poked at a pair of smaller badges down his arm. “These are for blood
Curtis nodded. “A nice present.”
This time it was Timoshenko who choked. “Odd toast for a soldier.”
Timoshenko poured another. “Liakhovich is not on this flight.”
Sherif nor the generals seemed to have spent any on improvements since
Mackenzie presented what he hoped was an encouraging smile to the
Leclerc frowned. “What’s det cord?”
Leclerc’s glare shifted back and forth from Reed to Mackenzie. “Do I
He shrugged. “You use det cord to set off plastic explosives.”
Reed shook his head apologetically. “Sorry. I should have waited.”
She smiled. “I don’t suspect you cry much at all.”
Leclerc eyed him strangely. “I can’t see you ever being helpless.”
He grinned to offset her frown. “Something like that.”
Mackenzie thought dumbfounded would be more like it. “Huh?”
But since he was absolutely totally positive Mrs. Phillips wouldn’t permit
Faithful on the other side of the wall investigating noises in the dumb-
Reed nodded. “With what?”
The ambassador spoke for them all: “What’s the Los Alamos?”
He Who Speaks needed but a moment to pop the fuse on the demolitions
Mackenzie nodded. “Agreed. What do you need me to do?”
Mackenzie waited a full ten seconds. “Are they gone?”
Mackenzie nodded. “I was a gunnery sergeant when I left the Corps.”
Mackenzie nodded. “But I have just one question for you.” He raised an
Carlson snickered. “What the fuck?”
Mackenzie smiled. “Able.”
Davies grinned. “You’re shittin’ me.”
Carlson nodded; the story of their incarceration came with a lot of hand
Carlson and Davies alone in Mackenzie’s old room. That took the burst of
Speaks around like a shadow?” Carlson’s hand described the arc of the
Mackenzie turned to Alvarez. “You all right?”
Timoshenko carrying all his gear; odder still were the major’s shushing
Curtis nodded. “I saw him crawl into the BRDM earlier. I thought it
Timoshenko’s shrug was eloquent. “The desert is a large place.”
He gestured through the crates toward the Spetsnaz vehicles. “So what will
Rodichev’s voice sounded angrier: “YOU MUST SURRENDER NOW. IF YOU
Forty Streets of the guilds running down to the river’s north bank. He
Duplessis had talked about this place; it seemed the Adrar had a thriving
Boats; across the roadway and down a steep ramp of mud was his goal
With his ruck making a hump under the robe and the pack cradled in his
Davies shook his head. “I still say it’s crazy.”
Curtis shook his head in amazement. “You speak English?”
Curtis tried not to laugh at the choice of words. “Westerns?”
Curtis watched the man’s eyes carefully. “And the Faithful?”
Kazim sighed. “I do not like how they treat my friends.”
The man’s mother hadn’t raised a fool. “In return?”
Kazim eyed his ramshackle craft as if it were a yacht. “My boat?”
Curtis indicated the water with his chin. “I can’t walk there.”
Kazim’s palm. “My momma would never let me rest if I didn’t pay you
Tying one end of the doubled cord into the loose gear laid out on the dry
MP5SD on safe and adjusted its sling so it rode tight against his back
Bo Svenson. Mike Farrell. Burt Young. Don Adams…”
Alvarez shrugged. “Just the sexy ones. Brad Davis. Harvey Keitel.”
Mackenzie nodded. “Wilfred Brimley.”
Alvarez nodded again. “You can call me Corporal Alvarez.” She
Faithful in their righteous fight against the perfidious Americans. The
Russians seen unloading their APCs and their Spetsnaz at the airfield. They
He Who Speaks shrugged. “Who?”
Feast of Sacrifice.” He Who Speaks had never discussed the details of this
Mackenzie clenched his fists. “Nope.”
There’s no safety.” Curtis gave the M23 to Carlson. “Use it only if you have
English guy held hostage in Lebanon once said terrorist organizations at-
It was worse than even odds any of them would see the sun come up; but
There was no other place than the head; Mackenzie lead the way. Once
Curtis took the binoculars and flashlight. Alvarez was awarded the medi-
Mackenzie’s ears. It was funny how rapidly he fell into the old patterns
Marines will assemble on the gun deck and lay topside for liberty.” Mack-
Speaks tried to sleep. The adrenaline created by the power outage having
In the confined space the roar of the ’97 was as authoritative as when Pri-
Who Speaks did not know which way to turn. He should go to the RPGs on
Curtis leaned forward to whisper: “Seen anyone?”
Carlson and Davies moved to one side of the doors and Peaches and
The latch turned and the door creaked back slowly. Limned in the orange
Davies hit the door. Alvarez pushed the other door wide to reveal the two
Curtis was crouched at his side instantly. “Where?” The MP5SD
Anything else was lost in the screech of wood and metal on the parquet as
Mackenzie nodded. “Some of the windows are actually doors.”
Curtis pointed to the west. “Anyone out past the motorpool?”
Speaks knew him well enough to predict he would kill the next person
Raki Sabah as he passed. “Any report from the roof? Are helicopters over-
Speaks answered him in the same language. “Thy vigilance tis constant as
Mackenzie received the thumbs up from Curtis in the doorway. Finally
Mackenzie waved at Carlson and Davies. “Go! Go!”
Carlson into it. Clinging to the rope with his good arm and Davies with
The bitter end of the heavy rope brought down by Tessay formed a mas-
Alvarez shook her head. “I don’t want…”
Mackenzie noted the effort the bravado took. “See you at the river.”
Leclerc gave him a painfully brief kiss. “I love you.”
Reed safely over the side and Alvarez signaling she was ready to receive
Marine swept the garden with the rifle’s long barrel. In the shadow of the
Curtis was shrugging out of his rucksack. “I’ve got to lock this door.”
He knew that if he could but reach the cover of the ambassador’s limou-
Pascaline pitched her voice low. “Regional Security Officer.” Min-
Pendleton. Eventually they’d become just another Marine with a moment
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Embassy Down

Embassy Down

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Published by Mark Seymour
In a small sandy country, the American embassy has been taken over by Islamic extremists. As the American and Russian military have each failed at rescuing the hostages, in the end, the diplomats will have to get themselves out.
In a small sandy country, the American embassy has been taken over by Islamic extremists. As the American and Russian military have each failed at rescuing the hostages, in the end, the diplomats will have to get themselves out.

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Published by: Mark Seymour on May 20, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved
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