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D. J. STEPHENS
In this sequel to – HALO – by D. J. Stephens - The year is 1965 - Jeff Barkil leads a six man team of highly trained special service operatives on a mission – Code Name –“Tarnished Halo”
In this sequel to – HALO – by D. J. Stephens - The year is 1965 - Jeff Barkil leads a six man team of highly trained special service operatives on a mission – Code Name –“Tarnished Halo” to terminate two of the Golden Triangles top drug lords. The problem, the drug lords are to be attending a meeting across the Burmese border in China. The team’s radio is destroyed during a river crossing early in the mission leaving them with no contact to the outside world. The team has to fight their way across the jungles of Laos and North Vietnam to reach their objective. Then they must rely solely on their small arms and combat expertise to fight their way back home. There will be no option of capture or surrender and there will be no rescue operation.
Excerpt: TARNISHED HALO
Without warning, three open military vehicles appeared, racing around the bend, heading straight for us.
The men in the vehicles were all laughing and hanging on as the cars bounced over the ruts. A few wore uniforms of tribal mercenaries, the rest were Pathet Lao. From what I could see, they appeared to be drunk, but all of them were holding automatic weapons. The dense jungle had muffled the sound of their racing engines until they burst upon us.
Instantly we went into the trees. Hairston and I instinctively went left and the others went right. The men in the lead car evidently saw us, they began shouting and pointing. The vehicles slowed momentarily, then the driver in the lead car must have changed his mind and accelerated down the trail directly at us. The other cars immediately followed, there was a withering amount of automatic weapon’s fire erupting from the vehicles. When the first car drew even with Bradley, he fired a long burst from his Sterling. The windshield exploded. The two men in the front arched back in the seat then slumped forward. The car careened to the right, glanced off a huge rock, rolling to a stop in front of me and Hairston. The second car crashed into the first bringing it to a stop. The third swerved off the opposite side of the road and hit a tree.
“There are four to a car.” Conley shouted.
The first car had separated me and Hairston from the rest of the team, but it shielded us from the other two vehicles.
Two men were still alive in the first car. One jumped out though the open top and ducked behind the vehicle. The second was searching frantically for his weapon.
“I’m going up.” I yelled to Hairston.
As I sprinted out of the trees, I could hear Jimmy laying down covering fire. The man behind the car never saw me coming. When I was within fifteen feet of him, I let go a blast from the shotgun, shooting from the hip, still at a dead run. The man was nearly cut in two. I turned my attention to the second man. He had found his weapon and was scrambling to get out of the far side of the car. Before I could fire, he flew backwards into the car, hit in the chest by a blast from Hairston’s MK.
Jimmy ran up and dropped down beside me. The men had piled out of the other cars and were firing across the road, unaware that Hairston and I were at their backs. When Conley saw us fire at the second car, he broke out of the trees and headed for the third vehicle.
“Conley’s moving!” Morgan shouted.
While Hairston laid down covering fire, I pulled back into the trees and sprinted past the second car toward the third. Conley was opposite me on the other side, firing exposed from the edge of the road. He had killed two of the four men in the third car, the other two crouched down on my side, firing wildly in Conley’s direction. When I came out of the trees behind them, Conley broke into a run, racing directly at them. Both men stood up to fire. I went straight at them from the rear. A warning shout from the second car gave me away. Suddenly the men were trying desperately to look in both directions at the same time. I ran a zigzag course, changing directions four or five times in the seventy-five feet that separated us, without firing once. When I was near enough to know for sure my rounds would hit the targets and not Conley, I fired and worked the pump action twice more as fast as I could, blowing both men off their feet. I was so close to the second man that his blood and chunks of flesh were splattered on my tiger stripes. I raced past the bodies, searching for more targets.
Thirty seconds of deafening automatic weapons firing was interrupted by the roar of three grenades exploding in quick succession. I dropped to one knee and looked around. One of the grenades had blown the sides out of the second car. All sounds and movement had ceased as suddenly has it had begun.
“Sound off!” I shouted. One at a time all five members of the team hoarsely replied, still trying to catch their breath. No one was hurt.
“Gather weapons and personal effects.” I hollered.
It would be senseless to hide the bodies since the vehicles could not be hidden. I hoped by stripping the men it would appear they had been attacked by a rival band of tribal mercenaries.
I was covered with blood from the two men I had killed, but there wasn’t time to clean up properly. I pulled the bandana from around my neck and tried to wipe the blood and pieces of skin that were rapidly drying on my face.
The others were already gathering weapons. I pulled a body from one of the cars and quickly searched for his wallet and tossed it into the brush without even opening it. I also threw away his watch and a ring.
A shot rang out. I dropped down beside the car and brought up my weapon. I saw Morgan with a pistol in his hand standing over a body. He must have found one of them still alive.
“Save your ammo, use your knife.” I said.
I stripped two more bodies then carried the booty in my shirt to where Conley had dug a small hole in the thickest underbrush. I tossed the things into the hole and went back to help gather weapons. Within ten minutes we had hidden everything some fifty feet from the road in brush so thick it might never be found.
Knowing any natives in the area would soon get up the nerve to come investigate, we faded into the trees and headed for higher ground.
I looked back for a moment at the devastation we were leaving behind. Not one of us was even scratched. Right then I knew for sure I had chosen the right men for the team. It was as if we were reading each other’s minds. I had not been told Conley was going to expose himself and draw fire, yet I was on my way almost before he moved. I didn’t ask Hairston for covering fire, but he was throwing out a hail of bullets when I went up on one knee. The fire patterns we laid down were like nothing I’d ever seen, it was as if we were communicating with our weapons as extensions of our arms.