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Visit Seller's Storefront. List this Seller's Books. Payment Methods accepted by seller. AbeBooks Bookseller Since: 20 September Items related to Tyranny in the Ashes. Home William W. Johnstone Tyranny in the Ashes. Stock Image. Tyranny in the Ashes William W. As she sat on the wooden bench with the two holes in it, she thought, Why in the world do they make these things with two holes?

Surely people don't sit here next to each other and use them at the same time. She was only half-finished when she heard the unmistakable whoop-whoop of helicopter blades overhead. Damn, she thought, wouldn 't you know it. The goddamned Army never comes at an appropriate time. She was in the process of pulling up her pants when the sound of the helicopter blades changed, becoming higher in pitch and much louder as it roared by less than twenty feet over her head.

She jerked the door of the outhouse open just in time to see the tiny log cabin virtually disintegrate under the onslaught of thousands of rounds of ammunition from the Gat-ling guns of the attack ship. She ducked back inside the outhouse as the Apache warship made a sweeping bank to the left, lined up on the cabin, and fired two Hellfire missiles into the roof. The shock wave from the explosion hit the outhouse like a mighty fist and knocked it over on its side. This probably saved Claire's life, as the outhouse was now flat among a row of bushes at its rear and covered from sight.

As the flames from the explosion died down, the helicopter landed and two men jumped to the ground, automatic rifles cradled in their arms. One of them turned and gave a thumbs-up to the pilot, and both men ran back to the helicopter. After it took off, Claire pushed broken boards off her body and struggled out of the bushes, finally getting to her feet. She ran to the house to see what the men had been looking at. She held her nose as she stood over Mrs. Holt's still-burning corpse. Those bastards were making sure a female had been killed in the attack! The sons of bitches were sent to kill me!

The realization stunned Claire as nothing else ever had. She stumbled from the burnt-out shell of the cabin, thinking furiously. She had to clear her mind and be sharp, or else she'd never survive this. She walked around the ruins of the cabin and found the pickup on its side, flames licking the rusted red paint from the metal. So much for transportation, she mused. She ran back to the outhouse, picked up the shotgun she'd carried with her, and began to walk toward the gas station. She figured she had a couple of hours' walk to figure out her next step. But one thing was sure. She was going to make that son of a bitch Otis Warner rue the day he fucked with Claire Osterman.

His malamute puppy, Jodie, took off in a lumbering run after the ball, her tongue hanging out as she panted from the workout Ben was giving her. Cooper, Ben's driver and friend, squatted on his haunches nearby. You missed your calling. You should've been a major-league pitcher.

Me or the dog. Then you could throw one for Coop to fetch, too. You're wearing Daddy out. The babes are lined up waitin' for me to ask 'em out. The jump master and his helpers shoved large wooden crates out the door, alternating equipment drops with the jumps of Ben's team so the materiel would land within easy reach of the Rebel forces.

Finally, only Coop and Jersey were left in the big C Coop gave a low bow, sweeping his hand to the side. Just before she jumped, the Big Bird hit an air pocket and suddenly lurched and dropped fifty feet straight down. Jersey was thrown out the door, tumbling uncontrollably in the updraft as the plane plummeted earthward. Her chute deployed and was immediately snagged on the tail fin of the 25 airplane, ripping to shreds and streaming behind her as she fell.

I "Shit! He turned an ashen face to Coop. I "Uh-uh, pardner, nobody dies tonight," he said, and dove out of the door after her. I He tucked his chin onto his chest and his sides to minimize drag, and blinked hundred-mile-an-hour-wind as he arrowed to catch sight of Jersey's black silk I put his hands tight I against his eyes I against the down-Iward, desperately trying against the darkness. I Jersey's body tumbled, her arms loose and flopping like la rag doll's, unconscious from the jolt she'd received when her chute was ripped apart. This saved her life, as she fell much more slowly than Coop did, and he caught up with her in a matter of seconds.

When he came up to her, he spread his arms and legs to slow his fall, and grabbed the tangled shreds of her chute, wrapping his hands around the silk. He took a deep breath, grabbed the D-ring of his chute release, and jerked. When his parachute opened, the jolt nearly took his arms off, and he felt as if both his shoulders were dislocated by the force of the sudden slowdown.

Even though the Ranger parachutes were specially made for low-level drops, they weren't designed to hold two people at once. Coop and Jersey fell with alarming speed through the night. Coop gritted his teeth and bent his knees slightly, hoping he'd be able to hit and roll without breaking a leg, or even worse, his neck. In a stroke of great good fortune, Jersey and Coop plummeted into the outer branches of a giant sugar maple tree, 26 the limbs slowing their fall enough to cause them to suffer only minor bruises and cuts. As soon as he could untangle himself from the lines of his chute, Coop took a quick inventory of his body.

No major bones seemed to be broken, and other than a deep gash on his left thigh, which he wrapped with a piece of silk from his chute, he seemed in fair condition. When he was satisfied the bleeding from his leg was controlled, he scrambled through the darkness to where Jersey lay, still unconscious. He gently unwrapped her from the shroud of silk covering her, and spread her out on the ground. He was running his hands over her limbs and body, checking for major wounds or broken bones, when she opened her eyes and stared angrily at him.

Coop sat back on his haunches. He leaned forward and took her leg in his hand, untied her combat boot, and pulled it off, causing her to shout in pain. It was black and blue and grossly misshapen. Slowly, he moved it through a complete range of motion, again bringing tears of pain to her eyes. As she stared at him, her eyes glistening with moisture in Ithe half moonlight, he explained what had happened, and how her chute had fouled on the tail fin of the C She shook her head.

She snorted. I'd sooner be alone with a snake than with a lecher like you. Mine got ripped off when I sky-dove to catch up with you. Looks like we really are alone. Do you have any idea where we are, or where the rest of the team is? After the plane hit the air pocket, we could have turned in any direction. There is no way of telling where we are, at least not until daylight. We can use the silk from the chutes to form a windbreak, and maybe we won't freeze to death before the sun comes up.

He helped Jersey to her feet, putting his arm around her to support her weight. She took his hand where it lay against the side of her breast and moved it down on her ribcage. He shrugged. She lay on the pine needles, her back to him as he gently covered her with a piece of parachute silk. She moaned once, and her breathing slowed as she fell asleep, leaving him wide awake and acutely aware of her breasts pressing against his back.

I told you thank you for saving my life already. What more do you want? When they walked through the door, they found Dr. Lamar Chase, Ben's team doctor, waiting for them. It was a well-known fact that Coop, who feared almost nothing else on earth, was deathly afraid of needles. Doc Chase held up his hands. Last time I had to give you an injection, you used up my entire supply of smelling salts. Ben had often said they ought to get married, as much as they fought. Both Coop and Jersey acted aghast at the very idea. Doc Chase nodded.

Ben shrugged. Cec Jeffreys says Warner and his new cabinet are much more reasonable to deal with than the Osterman regime was. Ben wagged his head. There wouldn't be any use anyway, 'cause the treasury of the USA is just about empty. The hideously high taxes they've been collecting all these years have been used to support the vast bureaucracy of their government and their stupid welfare programs instead of for the good of the working citizens who are paying them.

It goes against all human nature," Ben said. He was always kidding Doc about his quest to break on the golf links around the base. Doc smiled. I've got this new driver that is guaranteed to let me hit the ball three hundred yards. Corrie, the team's communications expert, looked up from one of the portable headsets she was fiddling with.

Take up golf like Doc Chase?

Ashes (Series)

It seems human beings just can't seem to get along for any length of time with each other. If it's not the color of their neighbors' skins that causes them to go to war, it's the fact that one nation has something another wants and doesn't want to work to get it. It's always easier for politicians to send us in to do their dirty work rather than have the courage to pass laws that are painful to the voters who keep them in office. So, no, I'm not going to take up golf. I'm going to keep my. She stood the shotgun in a comer and walked into the office. The proprietor, a tall, skinny man with several days' growth of whiskers on his face, looked up at her from under the brim of a large, black, flop-brimmed hat as he cut a piece of tobacco off a plug with a pocketknife.

Long-distance calls ain't exactly cheap, ya know. Damn, she thought, she'd forgotten to take the stash of money Bettye Jean Holt had squirreled away in her sugar bowl, hidden from her husband. I'll tell him to bring the money to pay you back for the call. What the hell, she thought, 33 r I was that old saying, any port in a storm. I The owner of the station stared at her body, thinner than? I "That might git ya some food, but yore not near pretty I enough for a long-distance call, lady.

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H Why, that lousy no good son of a bitch, she thought, humiliI ated at the rejection. I "Okay, have it your way," she said quietly through teeth? I She turned around, picked up the Holts' shotgun, and opened the door. After making sure no one was around, she whirled and pointed the barrel at the man. He looked up, eyes widening at the sight of the scattergun pointing at his face. He held up both hands, as if he could stop the buckshot if she fired.

I didn't mean no disrespect, ma'am. Go ahead an' use the phone. Why do you want to know? The shotgun exploded, kicking back against her shoulder as the buckshot took Kyle Truman's head almost completely off at the neck, blowing his body backward to land spread-eagled on his desk behind the counter. Claire walked around the countertop and punched the No Sale key on the cash register. When the drawer opened, she pocketed the two hundred dollars in bills and as much of the change as she could stuff in her pockets.

When the register I was empty, she walked to Truman's cooler, took out a couple of beers and three Butterfinger candy bars, and carried them 34 to the phone. As she dialed, she tore the wrapper off the chocolate bar and popped the top on the beer. She drank half the bottle down in one long gulp, thinking she hadn't tasted anything so good in a long time. After several clicks and some static from the satellite connection, Claire was finally connected to the correct department. I need to talk to Herb Knoff. He used to be assigned to President Osterman's staff.

Knoff's mother has had a heart attack and she's requested that we notify her son. Lieutenant Knoff has been assigned to the motor pool. I'll connect you. Claire thought. So that bastard Warner is getting rid of anyone who might still be loyal to me. After another series of annoying bursts of static, a surly voice came on the line.

This is quite a surprise. Of course I am. Here's what I need. Find as many men as you think you can trust and commandeer a couple of HumVees and as much small arms and ammunition as you can get your hands on. Who's staying in my old apartment? I've got some cash and a black book with the account numbers and bank locations where I've stashed enough cash to finance my return to power. Don't even think of taking it for yourself. The book is in code and you won't be able to get your hands on the real money without me.

You can stay a mechanic, or you can join forces with me and be my second in command. Nothing is more boring than the prospect of peace to a soldier. He should be ready to do anything to get rid of that bitch of a wife of his. Where do I meet you? She figured she could find a local farmhouse to hide out in for the time it would take him to get the vehicles and make the journey to Tennessee. He was demoted from a warrant officer for insubordination, so he'll do whatever I ask to get the chance for some payback.

I also want you to get Harlan to give you the file on Perro Loco. You mean that crazy rebel down in Nicaragua who calls himself Mad Dog? I was in negotiations with him to attack Ben Raines from the south just before my plane went down. I think he's moved his headquarters to Belize, and we're gonna need some help to finish what I started and get my old job back.

Anything else? I'm hornier than hell and can't wait to see you. Just bring me some hard sons of bitches and some guns. I'll do the rest. Figuring the authorities, if there were any in this godforsaken state, would check out Kyle Truman's house and then leave it alone, she took his driver's license and keys and went out the back door.

Just the type of car I'd expect a bubba like Kyle to have, she thought as she climbed up into the driver's seat and put the key in the ignition. The motor started immediately, and the engine had a deep, throaty growl to it. Now she had to find out if he was married. There'd been no way to tell from the papers in the station, but at least there were no pictures of a little woman and rug rats on his desk.

She glanced at his driver's license, and headed for what passed for the nearest town, Harveyburg. As expected, there were only a couple of streets, so she had no difficulty finding Kyle's. She parked his car around the corner and walked to the house with his address on it. Walking around to the back of the house, she carefully peeked in a window. The place was a mess. Beer cans, cardboard pizza containers, and garbage of every type littered the table, and even some areas of the floor.

If Kyle was married, his wife was an even bigger slob than he was. So, now that she had her hidey-hole, all 38 she had to do was wait for the police to come and make their routine check of the premises; then she could move in. She planned to pass the time at a local restaurant, since the beers and candy bars had done little to curb her appetite. Sure enough, after she'd finished eating a greasy fried-chicken steak and french fries at a nearby diner named Bell's Place, she returned to Kyle's house and found the front door sealed with tape bearing the sheriff department's logo. She quickly put Kyle's truck in his garage and slipped in the back door.

After cleaning up the worst of the mess, she discovered the refrigerator was at least stocked well enough so she wouldn't have to go out to buy groceries for a while. Claire spent the week and a half waiting for Herb Knoff to make the trip from USA headquarters to Tennessee working on her weight and physical conditioning. The remark from the gasoline station owner had stung her more than she cared to admit. When she was the leader of one of the two most powerful countries in the world, no one had ever dared to speak to her in such a way, and she had become complacent both with her body and her conditioning.

She now knew she was going to be in for the fight of her life, against both her former comrades and Ben Raines, so she needed to get in fighting trim. She had a head start on the weight loss, since the Holts' food supply had been meager and Billy Bob was anything but generous with the helpings. At Kyle's, she threw out all the fatty foods, cooked only low-fat, nutritious meals, and exercised three times a day until she was covered with sweat and her muscles ached and knotted with cramps.

Claire Osterman had a lot of faults, but lack of resolve had never been one of them. When the time came to go meet Herb, she'd lost all of her excess weight and was beginning to get some muscle definition in her arms and legs. Her belly, while still not flat, no longer hung over her belt, and she could run in place and do sirups and pushups for long periods 39 of time without becoming winded. She was ready to face her adversaries. Claire drove to the gasoline station outside of town at ten o'clock, after it was closed for the night by the new proprietor.

She didn't want any witnesses to her meeting with Herb. He wasn't supposed to make his appearance until midnight, but she wanted time to search the vicinity and make sure there was no one hanging around. When Herb's small caravan finally arrived two hours later, Claire was sitting in the station, calmly drinking a beer.

He walked into the room, a. She got to her feet and walked over to him. Seeing there were men watching them through the plate-glass window, she didn't take him in her arms as she wanted to, but stuck out her hand. I'll give you a proper welcome later, when we're alone," she said as he shook her hand formally. Twenty-two men joined me, including one you know very well," he said, pointing to the lead vehicle. Harlan Millard opened the door and stepped out, a weak grin on his face. Claire smiled, relieved he'd been willing to come.

Herb was a great bodyguard, and not too bad in bed, but she needed someone with brainpower and cunning at her side, and Harlan was a natural-born conspirator who knew all the tricks of the trade when it came to wielding power 40 and making the most of it. She hadn't realized how much she'd depended on him until she thought she might lose his services. She stepped to his side quickly, her hand outstretched. He was clearly happy with what he saw. Claire knew she would no longer have to threaten him to make him go to bed with her.

There were definite benefits to this new body she was sporting, she thought, as a tiny tingle started between her legs. Yes, she was most certainly looking forward to working very closely with both Herb and Harlan. Herb lined the men up in front of the HumVees for Claire's inspection. What do you mean? He says there's no place for Gestapo tactics in a free nation. How does he expect to keep the citizens in line without a show of force? Have you found a place for us to use as our base? He nodded. There's an old base at Gatlingburg that was downsized after the plague killed most of the 41 troops there.

About all that's left is a small contingent of ex-Blackshirts who were left in place 'cause Warner didn't know what else to do with them. They're as pissed as these men were to have their jobs and their rank taken away from them. The communications gear was left in place and is up to date, with all the scrambling equipment and satellite connections still usable. We should be able to talk to just about anyone in the country without Warner knowing about it.

Let's get moving to our new home. There were no men present at the guardhouse at the entrance to the base, so Claire and her men just drove onto the base. Herb led the caravan to the barracks area and parked in the middle of the street. Bradley Stevens, Jr. In a running crouch, Bradley led them toward the barracks. He stopped, squatted in front of the door, and with a wave of his hand sent his men in a sweeping circle around the building. Once they were in place before the windows, he stood up and walked through the door. After five minutes, when there were no shots fired, Claire and Herb entered the building.

They found Bradley standing before a line of twenty men in their underwear, some still 42 trying to wipe sleep from their eyes, but all standing at strict attention. That means you know the meaning of the word discipline. My question to you men is, are you going to work with me to regain my Presidency and carry on the war against the Southern United States of America? General Stevens, will you see to the disposition of the men while my associates and I go to the Admin Building? Now they are subject to the same laws and restrictions as the regular police are.

If we tell people we're going to reinstate the old order and give mem back their jobs and their authority over the citizens of the USA, we'll have plenty of soldiers and Blackshirts and FPPS men clamoring to join us. But we've got to keep a very low profile until we're strong enough to repel any attempt by Warner and his minions to kill us. Now, get me to the Admin Building so we can get started on my plan. He's a crazy bastard, but he's got lots of men to throw at Raines and keep him busy and out of our hair while we work on getting rid of Warner and the rest of those traitors he's got with him.

Both speak excellent Spanish and know the southern areas well. They shouldn't have any trouble crossing Mexico and getting to Belize. Get them what they need and give them the scrambler codes and frequencies we're going to use here and get them on their way. Make sure they take a portable satellite transmitter and keep in touch with us so we'll know their progress. The sooner we find out if he's willing to help us, the sooner we can take steps to regain my Presidency. While they're on the way to Belize, I and a team of men to go out into the surrounding countryside you can recruit some more men for us from the other bases in and the adjoining states.

We're going to need all the men we together if we're going to succeed. The only signs of life he and Arnold Mendoza had seen for the past two hundred miles driving across the back-country of Texas had been a few scraggly cattle, some jav-elinas, and a family of white-tail deer. Arnold, whose real name was Arnoldo, climbed in the back of the HumVee and cranked up the portable satellite transceiver. As it warmed up, he activated the Unitel Model scrambler attached and dialed in the code numbers to the matching scramblers at the base in Gatlingburg.

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Grimes, who had carrot-colored red hair, stood outside the HumVee applying sunblock to his freckled, fair skin. Arnold shook his head, smiling. He liked Randy, even though he was a cracker from Georgia and about as hick as they come. Arnold, who'd grown up in a household where English was rarely spoken, could speak better English than his bubba friend Randy could.

She'd been our maid, an' was twenty year younger'n my daddy, but he up an' married her anyways. I's only four or five at the time, so I jest kinda naturally picked it up over the years. We can pick up what passes for the Mexican freeway, the Camino Real, at Monterrey, an' then it's clear sailin' all the way down to Costa Rica.

Tyranny in the Ashes

Randy was always trying to tell him what he already knew. Still, the boy had a good heart and he wasn't too bad to travel with, other than the fact he snored like a buzz saw. Arnold had taken to stuffing his ears with cotton so he could get some shut-eye. Ben Raines was jogging down one of the roads around headquarters, Jodie running alongside him, when his personal SUV pulled up. He stopped, leaning over with his hands on his knees blowing air, while Coop stuck his head out of the window. Now what's so important that you interrupted my quality time with Jodie?

From the USA? Corrie was rewinding a tape recording she'd made of the transmissions. Corrie grinned. Those dumbbells in the present USA either don't know they're there, or aren't smart enough to use them properly. They can hear virtually every radio transmission around the world. It has a distinctive whistle to its interference, so I managed to find one in a closet and hooked it up.

He realized he wasn't yet through with that bitch Claire Os-terman, and the thought chilled him to the bone. When the recording was over, Ben got up and began to pace around the room, as he often did when he was thinking a problem through. She was sitting on the edge of Ben's desk, slowly running the edge of a K-Bar assault knife over a whetstone. Jersey was part Apache Indian, which may have explained her penchant for killing with a knife when silence was required.

Ben stopped walking. Ben shook his head. No, I think someone in Warner's administration tried to take her out, and failed. Now she's out there working to get control of the government back. I've never heard the name. Why don't you tell us about this Loco guy," Ben said. Mike Post sauntered into the room, moving in his usual manner as if he hadn't a care in the world. In his job as Ben's Chief of Intelligence, or Intel, it was his job to know everything there was to know about the leaders of the opposition to the Rebel forces.

Which included not only the USA but most of the other governments around the world. The SUSA form of government was extremely unpopular with most other countries, since it concentrated power in the people instead of in the hands of a few dictators or kings or sultans, or whatever they happened to call themselves nowadays. Mike grabbed a seat in front of Ben's desk, pulled out a battered, scorched pipe, and began filling it with a tobacco that was so strong it was almost black. Corrie glanced at Coop, who nodded, walked to the window, and pulled it up in anticipation of the clouds of foul-smelling smoke that would soon be produced.

Once Mike had his pipe going to his satisfaction, he leaned back, crossed his legs, and began to talk in the manner of a college professor giving a lectuue to undergraduates. Like so many of the places down there in those times, the area was under the sway of one of the local 'rebel' leaders, a man named Santiago Guzman. Guzman was more like a tribal warlord, exacting tribute from the villagers in the form of food, money, and sometimes the young men of the village when he needed them to join his forces.

Guzman was known as 'El Machete," The Knife, because he always carried a long machete he used to execute those who disobeyed his orders. Mike nodded. The world was going through the adjustment to the holocaust 50 of the Third World War, with very few governments able to function at all. There were literally thousands of El Machetes around the world, and no one to keep a check on them.

He said he needed the boy to come with him. Dorotero's father declined, saying the boy was needed at home to take care of his mother and sister while the father worked the fields. El Machete didn't argue, he simply walked over to the boy's mother and sister and beheaded them with one swipe of his long knife. When the father fell to his knees, cradling his dead wife in his arms, El Machete killed him too. Then he turned to the boy and said, 'Now you have no reason to stay in this miserable pigsty of a village.

Mike smiled. He told the man he needed to go into their hut and gather his things. When he came out, he walked up to El Machete, pulled a sickle his father used to cut ribbon cane from beneath his shirt, and buried it in El Machete's chest. Guzman had time for one swipe with his machete and he laid Dorotero's face open with it before he died. As he stood there in the clearing in the middle of his village, one of the neighbors is said to have whispered, 'Perm loco,' meaning mad dog. Dorotero took that as his name, and vanished into the jungle, where he began recruiting his own gang, which soon became 51 known for their ferocity and viciousness and utter lack of mercy towards their enemies.

At that time, we had intel that Osterman was trying to contact Perro Loco to try and make some arrangement with him, the details of which we never learned. We suspected at the time she was going to use him to open up a second front against us, but her plane went down before they could finalize their plans. Mike shrugged. One radio transmission isn't much to go on, and Perro Loco has been keeping a pretty low profile down in Belize somewhere. After a few moments, he pointed it at Coop. Coop, I want you and Jersey to head down there and make sure Perro Loco, or Mad Dog, or whatever he calls himself, doesn't live to give us any problems.

You won't be able to get close enough to do the job personally, so you'll have to hire it done. Every leader in South America has plenty of rivals or enemies who want his job. It shouldn't take us too long to discover some who'll take Perro Loco out if we give them the right equipment to do it with.

Those women all carry knives and know how to use them, and they just love gringos. And try and figure out if he knows it already when you talk to him. We don't need anything getting in the way of this new peace proposal. His given name was Dorotero Arango.

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A long scar crossed his right cheek. Since the wars began raging all over the world, he'd become known as Comandante Perro Loco. In Spanish, the term simply meant Commander Mad Dog. He liked the nickname. It fit his temperament, his style. His closest associates called him "Loco. He commanded a mercenary army, more of a marauding bandit gang than a group of organized soldiers.

Today, at the Gray Gull, he had begun to plot one of the boldest moves in his life with his second in command. He spoke to Paco Valdez, a Belizian assassin with a fearsome reputation of his own. Perro Loco spoke English. Belize was an English-speaking country since its days as British Honduras so long ago. Now is the time to reap the spoils. Raines is far to the north. We can gather a huge army from all over Central America, for many men here are hungry, desperate.

I'll promise them riches. I can make them rich men. With Raines and his forces occupied thou54 sands of miles away, no one has the military capability to stop us. He was tall, powerfully built, with an old bullet wound in his forehead. Former soldiers from Guatemala and Nicaragua have no money, no food, no jobs, no hope.

They will listen. I have heard reports that there are twice that many jobless men in Costa Rica and El Salvador. Most of them will be willing to fight for our cause. Food, and the promise of a small amount of money, will bring them to us. They will be ready to die for a chance to make money and to get food for their wives and children. And do not forget the starving men in Honduras. There are food riots in the streets of Tegucigalpa.

Women and children are starving to death in the jungles. The government treasuries are virtually bankrupt. Now is the time for us to strike, before they grow any stronger north of the Mexican border. It is the Rebel Army of Ben Raines that we have to worry about. He will be a formidable adversary. We need guns and ammunition. Trucks to carry our soldiers across Mexico. Starving men cannot march more than thirty miles a day. Trucks and gasoline will be of the greatest importance. Eduardo is working on the captured Blackhawk, a good fighting machine.

Loco shrugged. If we lose a few thousand soldiers, it is the price to be paid for victory 55 over the Martinez government in Mexico and this Rebel General Ben Raines. And we have so few trained pilots who know how to fly these killing helicopter machines. Since the final war began, many of the refineries have closed or been blown to pieces by Rebel bombs. The Federates have been reduced to a few hungry soldiers who have not been paid in months, even years. They will not put up much of a fight In fact, many of them will probably join us.

An AK47 on a leather strap dangling from his right shoulder, he walked toward the table where Paco and Perro Loco sat. We found them trying to cross the border at Corozal. The other is a latino named Mendoza. We surrounded them in a jeep in the Orange Walk district, only a few miles from the Yucatan. It has been many months since we last spoke and she has not contacted me since. I will kill one of them now. The other one will tell you the truth when he sees his friend die. He will speak true words when he sees his companion die slowly. Two young American soldiers sat against a wall of the bar, bound hand and foot.

One of them, a boy with red hair, had a deep gash across his forehead and he appeared to be only half conscious, his eyes vacant and staring. Four of Loco's uniformed soldiers stood around the pair, rifles aimed at the prisoners. Loco leaned over them, examining their faces.

Paco was beside him, grinning, his eyelids drawn into narrow slits as he stared at the prisoners.

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She has an offer she wants to make you, and she wouldn't risk trying to reach you on a shortwave radio transmission unless it was scrambled. We didn't know what frequency to use. We have been driving across the Southwest and Mexico for two weeks, trying to reach you. What kind of meeting? Our casualties have been very high. We lost valuable equipment Despite the fact that Ben Raines has won, his arms inventory is seriously depleted. Our intelligence sources tell us that he is pulling his men back.

He apparently does not intend to occupy the territory he has conquered. The President feels that if a strong attack came from the south, from Mexico, Raines would be unable to defend two fronts. She would like to talk to you about an alliance. She has only recently recovered from her injuries enough to resume leadership of our country.

President Osterman wants to talk to you in person about the details, for even a scrambled radio message might be intercepted by the SUSA, but she believes there would be enough spoils of war if Raines was defeated to divide between the USA and your armies. She thinks the alliance would be good for everyone.

You can contact the President yourself if you have any doubts. She asks that you send a scrambled message. I have the encoding 58 information with me. I also have it memorized. I can send your reply myself, if you wish. President Osterman will only discuss the details of an alliance with you in person. She does not trust the radios or our codes. There have been spies among us.

Most of them are dead now, or gone into hiding. Drive through the mountains so no one will see you. Bring them to my hacienda. I will stop at the airstrip to see about repairs to our captured Blackhawk helicopter. Make certain neither one of these men escapes. They will not escape. It has been weeks since I killed anyone with it. For a man to have a good day, he should kill someone before breakfast.

I should be at San Ignacio in a couple of hours.

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You can see the cut on his forehead. If you'll untie my hands, I can help him to the jeep. It had been over a week since he'd murdered anyone and he was getting impatient, as an alcoholic does when denied the chance to drink. Coop took his eye off the rutted, potholed, miserable excuse for a road they were on long enough to raise his eyebrows and plant an innocent look on his face. Why would I do that," he said, speaking loudly so he could be heard over the coughing, sputtering engine of the fifteen-year-old Ford Falcon they'd bought in Campeche, Mexico. There they would purchase an inconspicuous automobile with a trunk big enough to hold the sniper rifles, car-bombs, and the handheld Stinger antiaircraft missile they had with them.

After they had their cover in place as two ex-soldiers of the Mexican Army now out of work, they would drive across the peninsula to the small town of Chatumal, just across the border from the Belizian city of Corozal. Ben's contacts in the friendly government of Mexico had identified some men in Corozal who wouldn't be averse to seeing Perro Loco have an unfortunate accident, or so they'd been told. Jersey grinned. You're pissed off 'cause Ben put me in charge on this mission.

It's no reflection on your vaunted manhood. She threw back her head and laughed. You've been puffed up like a toad for the past two days. And when you didn't even make a cursory pass at that cute little secretary in the Mexican Counsel's office, I knew something was seriously wrong. She was under thirty, female, and had huge Jersey folded her arms and leaned back against the seat. She quickly pulled the cloth away from her breasts and sat up. We're almost to Chatu-mal an' if you go to our meeting with these rebels lookin' like that, they ain't gonna be thinkin' about Perro Loco.

They'd gotten the clothes from the Mexican government to fit their cover story. Now, when we get into town, see if you can find a 62 bar named La Gazapera. That's where we're supposed to meet our contacts. What's that mean in Spanish? One is Warren, as in rabbit warren. Don't any of these guys use real names down here? We're here in southern Mexico, the land of Macho, spelled with a capital M. Most of these leaders and their followers are less than one generation away from being peasants, fighting for enough food to keep from starving.

It's the motivation that's driven countless revolutions over the years. Now, when we meet this guy, he's bound to have a couple of tough bodyguards watching our every move. They don't trust anyone down here, and if we make one false move, they'll kill us without batting an eye. What's the word for pussycat?

Sometimes she wondered if all Coop's brains were in his nether regions, down below his belt. At least it seemed as if that was what controlled his thinking. Coop took a left turn just past the city-limits sign, which read Chatumal, and drove down the main street, which was made of dirt and just as potholed and rough as the crosscountry road had been.

Jersey followed his look. You can see why the people down here are ready to follow anybody who says they can deliver them from this squalor. He pulled the Falcon to a stop in front of the doorway. We might come back to find the tires missing, but they won't be able to get in the trunk where the interesting stuff is. Coop replied with "arrogant bitch" as he followed her into the darkness of the bar. Both wrinkled their noses at the heavy smell of stale beer, 64 old smoke, and marijuana and the stench of open toilets in the rear of the place.

A heavyset man with a shiny gold tooth in the front of his mouth grinned at Jersey.

From the ashes of democracy, tyranny rises | Opinion | M&G

Jersey didn't answer as she took a seat on a tattered bar stool and swiveled around to check out the occupants of the room. Coop didn't sit, but stood next to her, his fingers flexing in anticipation of grabbing his. Several of the tables were occupied by middle-aged men, all of whom looked beaten down by life and seemed to be trying to drown their misfortunes in large beakers of beer. At the very rear of the room, in a corner even gloomier than the rest of the place, Jersey spied three men at a table. The one in the middle was younger than the others and had the look of danger about him.

That's our man, she thought, and pushed off the stool and walked to approach their table, letting a little swagger enter her gait. The man at the table glanced at her, then directed his attention to Cooper. Typical Hispanic attitude, Jersey thought, thinking the male has to be the one in charge. As he spoke, the two men with him stood and flanked him, their hands inside their coats, ready to draw if they saw any threat to their leader. Jersey sat down, while Coop remained on the bodyguards, letting them know El Gato, letting him see her examine rules of their relationship, and she second-fiddle.

He was short, as most standing behind her chair, his eyes he too meant business. She studied him. It was time to set the ground had no intention of playing of his people were, and his face 65 showed scars of adolescent acne and some other rather interesting scars. Either he'd been severely abused as a child, or he'd spent considerable time being questioned by someone who didn't much care if he survived the ordeal. Probably a little of both, Jersey concluded, considering the man's present occupation and hatred of Perro Loco.

Finally, Gato smiled, though it didn't change the overall impression of danger he exuded like some exotic aftershave. Evidently he didn't want the other patrons of the bar to be able to understand their talk. Jersey nodded and also spoke in English. Jersey leaned her head closer and whispered, "Perro Loco. Your information is correct. I would not shed too many tears if I learned of his Tell me of your offer. And the offer will concern not only you but your wife, your children, your friends, and everyone who has ever known you. Do I make myself clear?

El Gato licked dry lips and held out his hands when Coop eared back the hammer. I was just joking, for it is as much to my benefit as it is to yours to see that bastardo Perro Loco killed. Then we understand one another," Jersey said in a soft voice, all hint of the hardness of a moment before gone. Just pull around the corner and you can follow us into the jungle. There are too many prying eyes in town to make the switch here.

In my high school he would have been called Pizza Face. I have a feeling anyone who called him that would wake up minus important parts of their anatomy. Anyone who lives down here and has the cojones to go up against the local bandit leader is plenty tough" They drove around to the rear of the bar, and saw a large 67 four-wheel-drive pickup with large knobby tires on it parked there. As it drove off, they followed, bumping and bouncing over the ruts in the road.

Then she felt under her inside left pants leg to make sure her K-Bar was loose in its scabbard and ready for action. Coop watched her with interest as she went through these motions. As much as he teased and kidded, and at times lusted after Jersey, there was absolutely no one he'd rather have at his side if there was going to be serious trouble. She was a stone killer when need be, and if she ever felt the slightest fear, she'd never shown it to him.

The truck they were following turned left at the end of the alleyway, and followed a road that soon deteriorated into not much more than two ruts in the red dirt of the jungle. As bushes, elephant-ear plants, and trees closed in on both sides of the trail, brushing the sides of the Falcon, sweat began to pop out on Coop's forehead. Me neither," she answered, her eyes flicking back and forth, watching the thick foliage on both sides of the car, her hand resting on the butt of her. It has two turbine engines. If a SAM missile takes out one of the turbines, a good pilot can still fly it in safely.

Since the British pulled out many years ago, there had been no protectorate agreement for tiny Belize and the country was all but lawless. Small bandit gangs had roamed the streets of Belize City, looting stores, taking whatever they wanted. But that was before Comandante Perro Loco came from Nicaragua with his armies. His best soldados slaughtered leaders of the gangs during a nationwide manhunt.

Order was restored. In spite of the bloodshed, often including the killing of innocent bystanders, Comandante Perro Loco was a Belizian hero to the masses. The streets of Belize City were quiet now. Loco examined the dark gray aircraft. Eduardo shook his head. They will have to be used sparingly. They are small air-to-ground rockets of a special type. They will be very hard to find, although they have very powerful warheads, or so we are told. Will this machine fly the way it is?

But there is little fuel. A helicopter such as this requires large amounts of fuel and has very limited range. The Mexican government has big underground storage tanks close to Mexico City. One of our first objectives will be to capture those fuel reserves and the tanker trucks to haul them. It won't be a problem. The Martinez government is weak and corrupt. We should take their military bases easily. We will march through Michoacan to take the capital in a few weeks, but we will need this Black-hawk and the other helicopter gunships to give our grand troops and armored divisions air support for the attack.

I need less than a week to make the changes. It will fly now, but there are problems with the Heads Up Targeting. I can fix it, but I will require a few more days.