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Silent Death

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Old 01-24-2007, 03:30 PM
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Here is my latest story, entitled Silent Death. I don't want to give away much, only that it's about a US Black Ops unit and it begins in November, 2008. Comments and critiques greatly appreciated. Thanks.





Prologue



“Shadow One-Six, this is Olympus Two, do you copy, over?”

“Olympus Two, this is Shadow One-Six, go ahead, over,” whispered Major Patrick O’Reilly into the mouthpiece of his communications headset tucked underneath the bottom of his black woolen stocking cap. He could feel the warmth of the massive water heater pressed up against the side of his left leg, contrasting with the cold metal of the lightning rod against which his right leg sat. His right eye was pressed up against the long scope of his heavily-modified M40A3 sniper rifle as he scanned the streets below. In addition to his black wool cap, he was dressed entirely in black combat fatigues to help him hide more easily in the sparse shadows of New York.

“Shadow One-Six, are you in position, over?” asked the voice again.

“Olympus Two, I am in position, over,” replied O’Reilly quietly.

“Roger that, Shadow One-Six,” said the voice. “Stand by for full brief.”

A moment later, a deeper, scratchy voice came over the radio, “Shadow One-Six, this is Olympus Six, do you copy, over?”

“Olympus Six, this is Shadow One-Six, go ahead, over.”

“Shadow One-Six, your target will be arriving in the hot zone in approximately three minutes,” said Olympus Six. “The target will be coming in a yellow cab marked trey-kilo-six-niner, do you copy, over?”

“Trey-kilo-six-niner, I copy, over,” whispered O’Reilly. He slowly began to use his scope to scan the cabs below, looking for the marking on the side doors of the passing cabs below as Olympus Six continued to speak.

“Your target will not, I say again will not be escorted, so take your time and confirm the pounce, over,” said Olympus Six.

“Roger that, Olympus Six, over,” replied O’Reilly.

There was a pause, and then Olympus Six said, very sternly and seriously, “This target is a Class-Bravo threat. We need them pounced on the first opportunity. We cannot afford to miss this, over.”

“Roger that, Olympus Six, over.”

“Good luck, Shadow One-Six, Olympus Six out.”

“Shadow One-Six out,” replied O’Reilly, and the radio went silent. O’Reilly knew that he was still connected to Olympus Six and the rest of the Olympus team, but if he wanted to talk to them, to confirm anything, he would have to be the one to initiate the conversation. They were now in radio silence until the “pounce” was completed. As he scanned the taxis below, O’Reilly thought about what Olympus Six had said: the target was a Class-Bravo security threat. Class-Bravo meant that the target was a security breach and needed to be eliminated before they could cause any more damage than they had already done. However, it also meant that the target in question did not know that they had been discovered, and thought their transgressions had gone undetected.

Questions raced through O’Reilly’s mind, nothing serious, just normal human curiosity perking up. Who could it be? Was it a member of the team? Was it a member of support? If so, why had he chosen to “go rogue” as it was termed? Who could he be working for? What would his compensation be? The last question bugged O’Reilly most of all: how did the man think he could have kept O’Reilly and the others in the dark?

Then, suddenly, he saw them, the ominous black numbers painted on the side of a yellow taxicab: 3K69. That was the target’s cab. It pulled out of the heavy traffic and slowed to a stop right in the middle of the “hot zone.” There was a moment of anticipation as O’Reilly centered his crosshairs just above the roof and waited for the target to pay his fare and step out. The door opened, O’Reilly centered his crosshairs and...What the hell? “Olympus Two, this is Shadow One-Six, come in, over!” whispered O’Reilly frantically. Sitting beneath the center of his crosshairs was a beautiful woman with long, blonde hair.

“Go ahead Shadow One-Six,” replied Olympus Two, shaving off some of the less-than-necessary radio procedure.

“What gender is the target, over?” asked O’Reilly.

“Target is female, Shadow One-Six; I say again, the target is female, over.”
O’Reilly felt his heart sink as he watched the woman pull her bag out of the back seat of the taxi, thank the driver, and close the door. She was young and beautiful, no older than twenty-five, with an infectious smile and bright, happy, blue eyes. The world was at her feet, and in a moment it would all be over, just because she had chosen to betray her comrades. I wonder what her name is.

“Shadow One-Six, have you pounced, over?”

O’Reilly centered his crosshairs on the back of the woman’s head as she began walking towards the hotel across the street, and slid his finger between the trigger and the trigger guard. Here goes, he thought, and began to squeeze the trigger. However, he stopped mid-squeeze, on the perilous edge of firing.

“Shadow One-Six, have you pounced, over?” repeated Olympus Two.

“Olympus Two, confirm the target is female, blonde hair, blue eyes, mid-twenties, over,” whispered O’Reilly.

“Shadow One-Six, I confirm the target is female, blonde hair, blue eyes, mid-twenties, over,” replied Olympus Two.

O’Reilly sighed in sadness; there was no way around it. Still, it did not seem right, just to kill her right there, without warning.

“Shadow One-Six,” came a deep, stern voice, “this is Olympus Six. What is the matter? Pounce immediately, I say again, pounce immediately, over.”

O’Reilly breathed deep and said, “Roger that, Olympus Six, pouncing.” He took another deep breath and held it in, centered the crosshairs on the back of the woman’s head once more, and began to squeeze the trigger for a second time. This time, he reached the hold point, applying three and a half of the four pounds of pressure needed to fire the weapon, and thought, This is it. He applied the last needed half-pound, and the weapon fired. He absorbed the recoil of the weapon as only a professional could, taking the brunt of it and holding the weapon steady as the muffled barrel emitted only a silenced thuppa. On the street below, the .338 Winchester Magnum struck the back of the woman’s head, cutting through her skull and smashing into her brain, sending a nauseating shower of red and pink mist spraying across a five-foot radius. The woman’s body snapped forward from the shot and collapsed on the ground, mere feet from the door which would have been her safety. Passers-by froze in shock and stared at the body, and O’Reilly immediately began crawling backwards away from the edge of the roof. “Olympus Six, this is Shadow One-Six. Pounce is hard and fast, over.”

“Roger that, Shadow One-Six,” replied Olympus Six. “Good work. Move to waypoint Expert.”

“I copy, Olympus Six, Shadow One-Six out,” said O’Reilly, now crawling forward on his belly across the roof, moving to the exfiltration point where he would be picked up. Upon reaching the access to the fire escape, he paused a moment to field-strip his rifle and pack it up into what looked to be a tool box. He then pulled a Velcro patch out of his pocket and attached it to his left breast. It read: “Hello, my name is MARK.” Below this it said, “Davis Plumbing.” To anyone who saw him, he would appear to be no more than a plumber just getting back from a job.

His disguise complete, O’Reilly began his trip down the fire escape, emerging onto the street a minute later and heading towards the nearest intersection away from the “hot zone.” As he walked, two police cars and an ambulance sped by, heading in the opposite direction. O’Reilly noted their presence and then ignored them, focusing entirely on reaching the exfiltration point. He reached the intersection just as a beat-up red pickup truck pulled up. The man driving looked at O’Reilly before rubbing his eyes as if he was tired and coughing lightly into his hand. O’Reilly reached forward, opened the door, and stepped into the truck before it sped away, melting into the late-night New York City traffic.

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Old 01-24-2007, 06:40 PM
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Hello - just wanted to offer a few comments on your story. (Great critiques, BTW, I read a few of your comments for other posters yesterday, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to do so).

Comments in text, summary at the end. Portions without comment are snipped out. These are only my opinions as a reader, so please disregard any of my comments if you disagree.

Crit:

...snip....

“Trey-kilo-six-niner, I copy, over,” whispered O’Reilly. He slowly began to use [He used] his scope to scan the cabs below, looking for the marking on the side doors of the passing cabs below as Olympus Six continued to speak. [Long sentence, wordy. Suggest cutting 'slowly began']

“Your target will not, I say again will not be escorted, so take your time and confirm the pounce, over,” said Olympus Six.

“Roger that, Olympus Six, over,” replied O’Reilly.

There was a pause, and then Olympus Six said, very sternly and seriously,
[Suggest: 'There was a pause. Then Olympus Six, stern and very serious, said,] “This target is a Class-Bravo threat. We need them pounced on the first opportunity. We cannot afford to miss this, over.” [*Note cut adverbs whenever possible to be more concise]

“Roger that, Olympus Six, over.”

“Good luck, Shadow One-Six, Olympus Six out.”

“Shadow One-Six out,” replied O’Reilly, and the radio went silent. O’Reilly knew that he was still connected to Olympus Six and the rest of the Olympus team, but if he wanted to talk to them, to confirm anything, he would have to be the one to initiate the conversation. They were now in radio silence until the “pounce” was completed. As he scanned the taxis below, O’Reilly thought about what Olympus Six had said: the target was a Class-Bravo security threat. Class-Bravo meant that the target was a security breach and needed to be eliminated before they could cause any more damage than they had already done. However, it also meant that the target in question did not know that they had been discovered, and thought their transgressions had gone undetected. [Could use a more direct explanation of what's going on - with all the radio speech, I'm sort of losing track of what's going on regarding the reasons behind O'Reilly and his need to acquire the target]
Not much to nitpick here!
Good writing mechanics and good pacing. Some sentences could be shortened a bit for a little quicker pacing for an action scene (I pointed out a couple of them, above) but overall it read very well to me. Some backstory about O'Reilly and his hesitation about shooting the woman is in order. Why his hesitation? Because she was pretty? A true professional wouldn't care one way or another. It does hint that maybe he's slowly but surely losing his 'edge' when it comes to acquiring targets. After he shoots her, though, it's back to business as usual. As a reader I'm a little confused at the plot. The scene itself was done very well, with just the right amount of description, dialogue, etc. However, I didn't see why the target was important and at some point before the chapter ends, O'Reilly needs to know why that target was chosen. Why did his gut instinct to not shoot a female kick in? Also, the scene ends without a solid 'hook' for the next chapter. If there's more to this chapter, disregard that last comment. But if this is where it ends, you need to leave an open-ended question for the reader to consider and want answered (a hint at the plot to come), giving them a reason to keep reading. You've hidden the focus of the story a little too much, I think. Maybe have O'Reilly begin to seriously question his command's choice of target. Drop a hint here and there about the core plot and this chapter will be just perfect.

Best wishes & keep writing,
Jillian
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Last edited by OnceUponATime; 01-24-2007 at 06:45 PM..
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:44 AM
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(Great critiques, BTW, I read a few of your comments for other posters yesterday, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to do so).
Thanks. I'm going to try to critique as much as I can.

Thank you very much for taking the time to critique it. I intentionally tried to keep the prologue vague, but it seems like I went a little too far. I just found it hard to justify giving any more information because it is from O'Reilly's point of view, and as you'll see in Chapter One, the operatives are mostly kept in the dark as to most specifics about their missions. Any idea how I could get around this? Thanks again.
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Old 01-25-2007, 03:49 PM
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I enjoyed reading it.

The only comment I have is the part where you are describing his position. The "where his right leg sat" sounded funny to me with the word "sat." Maybe use lay instead (or is it lie? I can never get those right)? Also, I think the prologue is okay plot-wise. I don't think that the prologue has to set up the story necessarily, since it should be relevant later in the story somehow. Just MHO of course!

Do you have the next part written yet? Inquiring minds want to know what happens next!
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:02 PM
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Thank you very much for reading, and I do have the next part written. Here you go. BTW, I am going to start each chapter with a small excerpt from an imaginary document or article that would have to do with what is happening in the story. I would appreciate it if you could tell me what you think of this. Thanks. Also, I will not be posting the entirety of chapters all at once; they will come in parts, as I know it's much easier to read short parts than long ones, and I don't want to drive you away with long updates.




Chapter One



“...The purpose of this organization is to plan and conduct covert operations which are conducted and sponsored by the United States Government against such threats that are deemed highly critical to the security of the United States, but which are so planned and conducted that any United States Government involvement is not evident to unauthorized personnel, and that if uncovered the United States Government can plausibly disclaim any knowledge or support of them…”
--Excerpt from the National Security Council’s instructions for the creation of Force Shadow




The night was supposed to have been perfect. She was to meet him just after nine o’clock in the presidential suite of the Crowne Plaza hotel on the east side of New York city. However, she had never arrived, leaving Marcel Hermann sitting alone at the ornate dinner table in the suite, running his hands through his short blonde hair and wondering what had gone wrong. Why had she decided to stiff him? They had been dating for nearly a year before Marcel had proposed to her, and they had now been engaged for a little over a month. Why, then had she chosen not to show up? What had he done that could have made her this mad? The sound of sirens wailing somewhere in the city reached his ears. At first, he thought nothing of it, but the sirens grew closer and closer, until finally Marcel could hear them clearly and could see the red and blue lights blinking on and off outside the window.

Having nothing better to do now that his night was ruined, Marcel grabbed his jacket and walked out of the suite, stepping into the elevator and pressing the “1” button. After having to stop several times to allow more passengers in, the elevator finally reached the ground floor and Marcel, sticking his hands in the pockets of his jacket, began to walk towards the front of the hotel, where a large group of people were crowding, illuminated by the siren lights beyond. At that moment he felt the incessant need to see what was going on, although he did not know why.

Reaching the back of the crowd which had formed at the front door, Marcel began to push his way through, using his six-foot, two hundred-pound frame to force a path for himself. “Excuse me,” he muttered to people as he passed them, often bumping them or even knocking them aside. Finally, he reached the front and found that the crowd was being held back by a small group of New York Police officers, holding their hands up and telling everyone to get back. Beyond the line of officers, Marcel could see a team of paramedics shaking their heads and covering their eyes as two men dressed in tan trench coats examined something on the ground. Marcel craned his neck around, trying to see what or who the men, who seemed to be detectives, were studying.

Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of blonde hair, and an icy fear gripped his heart. “Lindsay,” he whispered to himself. He moved over to try to see past the policeman standing in his way and finally saw who was lying on the ground; it was a woman with blonde hair, dressed in a white blouse and black skirt with tan stockings and black high heels. The back of her head had a large hole in it, and on the ground around her was a sickening puddle of blood sprinkled with small chunks of flesh and bone. However, it was her face that caused Marcel to go weak in the knees and almost fall over. “Lindsay!” he screamed, and immediately rushed forward. One of the police officers tried to stop him, but Marcel pushed the man aside and continued forward, screaming again, “Lindsay!” Upon reaching the body, Marcel fell to his knees and reached out, touching what remained of her blonde hair with his trembling hand.

“Excuse me, soir,” said one of the detectives in a thick New York accent, putting his hand on Marcel’s shoulder.

“Get away from me!” shouted Marcel, shaking the man’s hand off.

“Soir, please, we’re troing to conduct ahr investigation,” said the detective sternly.

“And I’m…and I’m…” stammered Marcel, but before he could finish his sentence he was cut off by a sudden shower of tears that erupted from his eyes. Burying his face in his hands, he sat there on his knees and wept. Why would anyone do this? he wondered in anguish. What could she have done to them? He was able, after several moments, to control his sobbing and look at the body once more, and only then noticed how peculiar the entry wound was. It was a huge wound, having blown away a third of her skull and nearly half her brain. Wiping his eyes, Marcel leaned closer, examining it.

“Soir?” asked the detective.

Marcel ignored him as he looked at the wound, and suddenly said, “What do you think happened?”

“What?” asked the detective.

Standing up, Marcel wiped his teary eyes once more and asked, “What do you think happened to her? How do you think she was shot?”

“We’ya not entirely shuya,” said the detective.

“What the hell does that mean?” asked Marcel, sniffing to try to keep his tears from returning. He had not cried in over twenty years, not since he was seven or eight, but for some reason he was not ashamed of crying now; his only reason for holding back his tears was so he could hold a respectable conversation with the detective.

“It means we don’t know what heyppened,” said the detective, clearly uncomfortable discussing the case with someone not in the police force.

“What did the witnesses say?” asked Marcel through gritted teeth, trying to keep his composure. The pain of seeing Lindsay lying there, murdered and missing the back third of her head, was driving him crazy, and it took every ounce of his self-control to make sure he did not lash out right then and there against everyone around him.

“I haven’t toiked to them yet,” said the detective forcefully.

“Goddamn it, what the hell are you doing, then?” screamed Marcel, and he lunged at the detective, wrapping his hands around the man’s neck. “Do your Goddamned job! The woman I love was just shot in the back of the head and you…don’t…know…anything?”

At that point, two police officers grabbed Marcel and pulled him off the detective, wrapping his arms around his back and saying quietly, “Colm down, soir, please colm down. We undahsteynd that yah hoitin', but colm down."

“I’m doin’ everything I keyn!” shouted the detective, rubbing his throat and eyeing Marcel angrily.

“No you’re not!” shouted Marcel, but tears finally broke through his mask of composure and streamed down his face, and he said quietly, “No you’re not…”

“Please, sir, if you’ll come with me,” said one of the officers.

“Not until you make sure that he’s going to do something about this,” said Marcel, pointing at the detective as tears continued to trickle down his face.
“It’s my jahb to figure this out; I’m not gonna not do it, okay?” asked the detective.

Marcel stared at him for a moment before wiping his eyes, nodding and saying, “Okay.”

“I’ll letcha know as soon as we find anythin’ out,” said the detective.

With a sniff, Marcel nodded and said, "Thanks."
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:30 PM
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I'm going to have to read more of this: so far, I can't see where it's going. It's writen nicely, and that's always a good thing: the detective's accent goes a bit too far at times, but it's nothing too bad. Also, O'Reilly is a bit too melodramatic in his sympathy for the woman. You might want to make it a bit more subtle.

Also - just a thought - these stories go very well in shortly-written chapters rather than longish blurbs. It's entirely up to you, but if you ever feel an urge to change your style (I know that happens to me a lot), you might want to go for short and sweet action cuts.

Hope that helps! And good luck with your writing!
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:30 PM
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Really nice! I feel really bad for Marcel; he recently asked her to marry him and she's killed... So, is he going on the hunt for revenge? Or, maybe he'll find out about a double life she led? I'm one of those people that like to read the ending first.

I just have one question...Would a sniper rifle really do that much damage? For a third, I'm thinking of a hand size blown away. Of course, I have no experiene with sniper rifles besides what they portray on TV. *shrug*

Pertaining to the above poster's post, I have to agree. At times, it was hard to figure out what the detective was saying. Also, I liked the blurb at the beginning of the chapter. It makes you wonder if our government has an organization similar. I wouldn't put it past 'em.
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Last edited by kyrja; 01-25-2007 at 04:35 PM.. Reason: forgot something
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ronoxQ View Post
Also - just a thought - these stories go very well in shortly-written chapters rather than longish blurbs. It's entirely up to you, but if you ever feel an urge to change your style (I know that happens to me a lot), you might want to go for short and sweet action cuts.
First off, thank you very much for the critique; I really appreciate it. I would, however, like some clarification on what you said in the above quote. Do you mean that my chapters should be short (ie as long as the above post), or that the above post is too long? Thanks again.

So, is he going on the hunt for revenge? Or, maybe he'll find out about a double life she led? I'm one of those people that like to read the ending first.
That would be ruining it.

I just have one question...Would a sniper rifle really do that much damage? For a third, I'm thinking of a hand size blown away. Of course, I have no experiene with sniper rifles besides what they portray on TV. *shrug*
All depends on the weapon, caliber, and range. She was shot with a powerful rifle with a powerful bullet at what is essentially point-blank range for sniper rifles (right across the street and up five stories). The damage would be quite extensive.

Thank you both very much for your critiques; I really appreciate them.
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:18 AM
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After a long trip that included a two-hour truck ride followed by an uncomfortable nine-hour trip in the back of a Pave Low helicopter, O’Reilly finally set his feet on the tarmac of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the home of United States Special Operations Command. He was greeted at the landing site by an Hummvee, whose driver simply motioned for him to get in and waited for O’Reilly to do so before speeding off. The driver said nothing to O’Reilly, and several minutes later they pulled up in front of an unassuming brick building at the near edge of Fort Bragg. Nodding to the driver, O’Reilly got out of the Hummvee and closed the door. No sooner had he done so than the vehicle sped off into the darkness, leaving O’Reilly alone in the cold November night. He walked forward to the front door of the building, which was marked, “Sanitation Supplies,” and pressed the three correct pips in the correct order on the locking mechanism just below the door. There was a click and the door unlocked, allowing O’Reilly to open it and step inside.

The room within was pitch black, but O’Reilly knew this was on purpose, to further confuse anyone who had managed to get this far. On the far right side, O’Reilly knew, was another door, and he slowly made his way over to it, finally grasping the handle firmly. Below the door was another lock, which required a different set of three pips keyed in the correct order to unlock. O’Reilly tapped the correct pips, and this door clicked as well. Opening the door, O’Reilly was finally met with some luminosity in the form of dim red alert lights, lighting a short corridor that led to another door. This door had a keypad, into which O’Reilly quickly punched the five-digit password. Once more, the sound of the door unlocking reached his ears, and he swung the door open.

Just beyond was a staircase that led down into another corridor lit with red alert lights. O’Reilly descended these stairs and traversed along the long, winding corridor, finally coming to what he knew was the final door. He sighed in annoyance the need to now punch in a fourth completely different keycode, but told himself that it was all for the safety of the country; Force Shadow needed these precautions in order to remain as secretive as possible and to deter anyone who tried to get past their security systems. One wrong entry at any door, he knew, would set alarm klaxons blaring in the control center, which was behind this final door, and Force Shadow and their support team would go into alert mode. Troops from the 82nd Airborne would immediately be summoned, and the perpetrator would be arrested and detained until their purpose was known.

All for the best, thought O’Reilly, sighing and entering the five-digit code into the keypad. The door unlocked, and O’Reilly opened it, finally finding himself within the command center for Force Shadow. He scanned the room, filled with men and women, all dressed in matching camouflage fatigues, working hard at computer terminals or various maps, designating the locations of who-knows-what with small pins. O’Reilly’s eye caught that of the lone man who was not wearing fatigues, a tough-looking man in his late forties dressed in a green Army service dress uniform.

Nodding to the person he was currently talking to, the man walked over towards O’Reilly, who saluted when the man arrived. The man returned O’Reilly’s salute and said, “Welcome back, Major.” His collars each bore a silver eagle, and a name plaque was pinned on the pocket below his starting number of medal ribbons; it said, “ROSS.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied O’Reilly.

“If you’ll come with me, we can begin your debrief,” said Colonel Ross. He turned and began to walk through the command center. O’Reilly followed, wondering how Ross was able to navigate the obstacle course of computer terminals and the minefield of electrical wires so easily. By the time he reached Ross’s office, the Colonel was already seated behind his desk and waiting for O’Reilly. “Please, Major, take a seat,” said Ross, motioning to the two chairs in front of his desk.
O’Reilly did so, wondering why Ross continued to offer him a seat every single one of the countless times O’Reilly had been through the doors of the Colonel’s office.

You’d think it would be understood. He pulled one of the chairs over slightly and settled into it, allowing the soft leather to envelop his body and, for the first time since before the mission, he relaxed.

“Alright, Major,” began Ross, “I think we can dispense with the unnecessary pleasantries and routine run-throughs. We both know that your mission was successful; the target’s name was all over the news a few hours after the pounce, and from my sources within NYPD and the FBI, there are no leads whatsoever. I assume you were very careful in choosing your position.”

“Yes, sir,” replied O’Reilly. “No doubt the police will track my shot from the top of the building, but I left nothing behind. They’ll know where the shot came from, but not who fired it.”

“Good, good,” said Ross. There was a moment of silence before Ross said, “This is the first takedown on US soil in over nine years, and the first time we’ve used sniping to conduct the removing.”

O’Reilly noted with interest how Ross used euphemisms to describe Force Shadow’s work, dancing around the true nature of their job: assassinations. “Sir, if I may…”

“Go ahead,” said Ross, nodding.

“Who was the target?”

Ross said nothing, simply looking at O’Reilly before slowly shaking his head and saying, “There is something I wanted to talk to you about.”

O’Reilly frowned at the Colonel ignoring his question, but kept his head and asked, “What is it?”

Ross sighed. “There were some unsettling periods of radio silence from you during the pounce, as well as some questions you should not have been asking.”

“I wanted to make sure we had the right person,” countered O’Reilly.

“Major, your job is to follow orders, not to think!” said Ross sternly.

“I’m sorry, but I’d like a little more warning before I shoot an unarmed woman!” snapped O’Reilly.

“Shut your mouth, Major O’Reilly!” yelled Ross. “You are given information as we see fit! You are paid to take that information and follow whatever instructions we give you to the letter! You will not think about anything we tell you! You will not question anything we tell you! You will look through the sights of your weapon and you will pull the trigger! Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” said O’Reilly through gritted teeth.

“Good,” replied Ross angrily. Neither of them said anything for a moment, staring at each other from across the desk. Finally, Ross looked down, sighed, and said, “I’m sorry, Major.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” replied O’Reilly. “It was not my place.”

“Pat, you’re our best operative; hell, you’re the team leader,” said Ross. “I just want to make sure the person I have running things out in the field knows what is expected of him.”

“I do, sir, and I won’t question it again,” said O’Reilly.

Ross nodded and said, “Good, good. You’re dismissed, Major.”

O’Reilly stood up, snapped his heels together, and saluted Ross, who returned the salute before O’Reilly turned around and walked out, although in his mind he asked himself if he really could keep his promise to Ross, if he really could continue to just aim and fire without questioning, and in response he told himself, No.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:10 PM
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Icon10 Enjoyed the read

I only read the prologue, because I tend to do my initial read and crit before reading through the other crits, but then have a quick browse through so I’m not repeating things others have said. So this is for the prologue and I’ll get to the other chapter soon.
I started reading this a couple of times and the opening put me off, but then when you critiqued mine I thought it’s only fair. So I copied the text and pasted into word to print out, as I prefer to do that with longer stories. Once I’d got over the first paragraph I was hooked. It reads like Tom Clancy to me. It’s well executed (excuse the pun). I like the build up about the target being one of his colleagues, and then the shock of being female. I wondered why he hesitated so much – did she remind him of someone or was it just a natural instinct not to kill a woman? You had me hanging on wondering whether he was going to do it or not, but it was inevitable that he was, really. I like the ending where he’s picked up anonymously. It reads like a prologue and I would expect then to lead into a story about the guy himself and his agency and eventually find out who the woman was and why she was hit, about half-way through. My initial theory is that she’s someone that the operation leader has a personal grudge against and he’s using government resources to settle it (e.g. she’s having a lesbian affair with his wife?) shucks, probably not, but that would make me read it!
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:57 PM
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That was great, I really loved it. Not a lot of critiques, just really liked it.
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Old 01-27-2007, 02:28 PM
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Thank you both, very much.

Josie, just out of curiosity, what about the opening put you off? As for your guesses and stuff, you'll just have to read on and see.

Again, thanks a lot both of you for reading it.
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:33 AM
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The final part of Chapter One. Enjoy:






The next day, Marcel was in the ballistics room of a New York City Police Department precinct, standing next to a ballistics expert dressed in a white lab coat who was staring through the lenses of a microscope at a bullet. “Ahem,” said Marcel.

The ballistics expert looked up from the microscope, grabbing his glasses and putting them on his head. He turned to look at Marcel and asked, “Can I help you?” Marcel noticed that the man’s accent was virtually nonexistent. Probably not from around here.

“My name is Marcel Hermann,” said Marcel.

“Ah, right,” said the scientist. “You’re the one who wanted to know about the bullet recovered from the woman shot at the Crowne Plaza.”

“She was my fiancée,” said Marcel.

“Oh…I’m sorry,” said the man. Shaking his head, he extended his hand and said, “My name is Peter Walsh; I’m the head ballistics expert here. You can come along over here and take a look at the bullet.”

“Thank you,” said Marcel, shaking Peter’s hand before following him over to the microscope.

As Marcel placed his eyes against the eyepieces, Peter said, “The bullet is a .338 Winchester Magnum; quite a powerful caliber with a large recoil. When fired from the right weapon, it’s strong enough…”

“To take out a grizzly bear,” finished Marcel, looking up from the bullet.

“That’s right,” said Peter. “You a hunter?”

“In a manner of speaking,” said Marcel.

“Very good,” said Peter. “I do some hunting myself; a bit of deer out in the Alleghenies every now and then, if I can get some vacation time. Oh, but I’m sorry, the bullet, of course.” He walked over to another table and said, “I assume you’ve seen the crime scene photos.”

“I was there,” said Marcel.

“Oh…oh, I’m very sorry,” said Peter.

“It’s alright,” replied Marcel. He knew that he perhaps should be mourning, but from the moment he saw Lindsey lying on the ground, the back of her head blown apart, he knew that he would bring vengeance upon whoever had killed her. He had cried his eyes out the night before, and now his eyes were dry; he could cry no more tears. All of his thoughts were focused on revenge.

“Well, then I’m sure you noticed how much damage was inflicted on the rear portion of her head,” said Peter, picking up some of the pictures and examining them. “The rear one-third of her skull was completely destroyed, and approximately half of her brain along with it.”

Marcel winced as he listened to the gruesome details Peter was providing him, but managed to control his emotions.

“From the amount of damage inflicted, I would say that the bullet was fired from a rifle, most likely a high-powered hunting rifle.”

Marcel’s eyes shot open. “Excuse me?”

“The bullet was probably fired from a high-powered hunting rifle,” repeated Peter.

“Is there any way to confirm what type of weapon it was fired from?” asked Marcel.

“We ran the groove signatures along all known types of weapons that fire .338 Winchester Magnums, but we couldn’t find any matches,” said Peter.

“What does that mean?” asked Marcel.

“It means that the weapon either isn’t available to the public or it has been heavily modified to fire bullets of a caliber other than the one that it was made to fire,” explained Peter.

“Or both,” muttered Marcel, beginning to delve deep into his thoughts.

“Hmm?”

Marcel shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Oh, alright,” said Peter.

“Do you know from what angle the bullet entered?” asked Marcel.

Peter’s eyes lit up, as if he was a child in school who had just been called upon after waving his hand around for several minutes. “Well, I thought someone might want to know that, so I set about trying to figure it out. It was very difficult given the sizeable pieces of her head that were missing, but given the areas of damage, it’s safe to say that it came from an angle greater than thirty degrees.”

“She was shot from above,” said Marcel with a nod.

“Most likely,” said Peter.

Marcel nodded again. “Interesting.”

“I thought so,” said Peter.

“What are the police saying?” asked Marcel. “What do they think happened?”

Peter shrugged. “I don’t really know. I told them everything I told you, and they’re working on it right now.”

“Who’s the head detective in the investigation?” asked Marcel, remembering the detective from the night before.

“Detective Mullen,” said Peter. “You’ll have to ask around to see if he’s here.”

“Thank you,” said Marcel. He nodded to Peter before turning around and quickly walking out.

“You’re welcome.”

Marcel pushed the door to the ballistics lab open and emerged back into the main area of the precinct. He looked around carefully, trying to see if he could spot the detective from the night before, but was unable to. Walking up to the nearest uniformed officer, Marcel asked, “Do you know where Detective Mullen is?”

“He’s in the back, woikin’ on a case,” said the officer, nodding his head towards the back of the precinct.

“Thank you,” replied Marcel.

“No prob,” replied the officer.

Marcel made his way quickly to the rear of the precinct, his eyes fixed squarely on the door that the officer had seemed to have motioned to. Upon reaching it, he knocked sharply. A moment later, the door opened and Marcel saw the detective standing there. “Detective Mullen, I presume?” asked Marcel.

“Yeah, that’s right,” said Mullen. “Ya the goil’s boyfriend, right?”

“Fiancé,” replied Marcel.

“Sorry. Look, I’m woiking on it as ‘ahd as I keyn,” said Mullen, slightly annoyed at seemingly being confronted again.

“I understand, and thanks,” said Marcel. “I just want to know what you’re thinking happened.”

“We’ya not entiahly shoiya,” said Mullen with a shrug. “It mighta been a stray shot, mighta been premeditated. No way to know at this point.”

Marcel breathed out through his nose; this was not the answer he had hoped to hear, but it was the one he had expected. “Thank you for your time, detective.”

“No probs,” replied Mullen. “If ya give me a phone numbah I keyn call ya when I find out moiya.”

Marcel shook his head. “No, thanks. I’ll come find you if I need anything else.”

“Have a good day,” said Mullen before closing the door.

Putting his hands in his jacket pockets, Marcel turned around and walked out of the precinct, his eyes now angled towards the ground in front of him but not really focused on anything. He was running over everything Peter and Detective Mullen had told him in his mind, trying to make sense of it all. However, no matter how many different ways he looked at it, the unanswered questions all came back with the same answers, and one of them was much more likely than the others.

She was shot from above, thought Marcel as he walked out the front door of the precinct and down the wide stone steps in front of it. He looked up at the rooftops of the buildings around him, trying to visualize what might have happened that night. Although several blocks from the hotel, Marcel could still imagine the events unfolding. He could see Lindsey getting out of the cab and walking towards the doors of the hotel, the bullet striking the back of her head and sending her to the ground missing a third of her skull.

It was a high-powered rifle, firing a powerful bullet at a high velocity. He could almost see the rifle, a long, heavy rifle sporting a powerful long-distance scope. There would have been a bipod attached to aid the shooter in landing his shot.

The rifle doesn’t match anything in the police database. The rifle he was imagining now took on a polished, dark green finish, the kind used with military sniper rifles.

It was heavily modified. With that, Marcel had it. Everything Peter had told him suddenly all fit together, but the completed puzzle that now appeared in Marcel’s mind was as shocking as it was horrifying; Force Shadow had killed the fiancée of one of its own.
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Old 01-29-2007, 02:01 AM
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Straight away from the opening two paragraphs I could see the genre, and I have to be in the mood for this genre. Like I said I’ve read a few Tom Clancy’s, also read Dan Brown and Clive Cussler, so I’m not totally against the thriller/suspense/spy type of thing! No offence to you or your writing, it’s horses for courses. Once I’d printed it out and started reading it, I felt different about it so read on. I’m going to do the same with the rest of it and I’ll let you know how I get on.

In case you’re worried about me printing out the work – I always destroy it after I’ve done the crit.
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Old 01-29-2007, 02:44 AM
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K, thanks.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:11 AM
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The opening of chapter one is excellent, I’m really there with Marcel as he discovers that his fiancé has been shot. I have a problem with the overuse of accent when the detectives speak, however, and the scene becomes comical which I’m sure you didn’t intend. With accents, it’s best not to try to spell the words out phonetically, rather use particular words or phrasing that would indicate the person has an accent. For instance, “we understand you’re hurting” and “I’m not gonna not do my job” and later on “no prob” are ok. They convey enough of a different way of speaking without going overboard and making the dialogue difficult to read.
For the second part of chapter one I’ll put some comments ‘inline’. These are just suggestions, obviously
The room within was pitch black, but O’Reilly knew this was on purpose [change to ‘deliberate’], to further confuse anyone who had managed to get this far. On the far right side, O’Reilly knew, was another door, and he slowly made his way over to it, finally grasping the handle firmly. Below the door was another lock, which required a different set of three pips keyed in the correct order to unlock. O’Reilly tapped the correct pips, and this door clicked as well. Opening the door, O’Reilly was finally met with some luminosity in the form of dim red alert lights, lighting [repetition, change to ‘illuminating’] a short corridor that led to another door. This door had a keypad, into which O’Reilly quickly punched the five-digit password. Once more, the sound of the door unlocking reached his ears, and he swung the door open [repeat of ‘door’ change to ‘he swung it open’].

Just beyond was a staircase that led down into another corridor lit with red alert lights. O’Reilly descended these stairs and traversed along the long, winding corridor, finally coming to what he knew was the final door. [lots of repetition, rephrase] He sighed in annoyance [at] the need to now punch in a fourth completely different keycode, but told himself that it was all for the safety of the country; Force Shadow needed these precautions in order to remain as secretive as possible and to deter anyone who tried to get past their security systems. One wrong entry at any door, he knew, would set alarm klaxons blaring in the control center, which was behind this final door, and Force Shadow and their support team would go into alert mode. Troops from the 82nd Airborne would immediately be summoned, and the perpetrator would be arrested and detained until their purpose was known.
[I know that your intention here is to demonstrate how difficult it is to get into this secret office, but the logistics begin to get tedious and I’m lost already. Could you cut it down further without losing the number of lock codes?]

All for the best, thought O’Reilly, sighing and entering the five-digit code into the keypad. The door unlocked, and O’Reilly opened it, finally finding himself within the command center for Force Shadow. He scanned the room, filled with men and women, all dressed in matching camouflage fatigues, working hard at computer terminals or various maps, designating the locations of who-knows-what with small pins. O’Reilly’s eye caught that of the lone man who was not wearing fatigues, a tough-looking man in his late forties dressed [repetition of ‘dressed’ and ‘wearing’ need to rephrase] in a green Army service dress uniform.
Nodding to the person he was currently talking to, the man walked over towards O’Reilly, who saluted when the man [repetition, change to ‘he’] arrived. The man returned O’Reilly’s salute and said, “Welcome back, Major.” His collars each bore a silver eagle, and a name plaque was pinned on the pocket below his starting number of medal ribbons; it said [it read?], “ROSS.”



O’Reilly did so, wondering why Ross continued to offer him a seat every single one of the countless times [sounds awkward, but may be cultural (i.e. I’m English)] O’Reilly had been through the doors of the Colonel’s office.
….

“Good,” replied Ross angrily. Neither of them said anything for a moment, staring at each other [from delete this word] across the desk. Finally, Ross looked down, sighed, and said, “I’m sorry, Major.”

“It’s alright,” replied Marcel. He knew that he perhaps should be mourning, but from the moment he saw Lindsey lying on the ground, the back of her head blown apart, he knew that he would bring vengeance upon whoever had killed her. He had cried his eyes out [this is a cliché, you should change to another metaphor or simply say ‘he had cried enough the night before’] the night before, and now his eyes were dry; he could cry no more tears. All of his thoughts were focused on revenge.


Peter’s eyes lit up, as if he was a child in school who had just been called upon after waving his hand around for several minutes [I love this!]. “Well, I thought someone might want to know that, so I set about trying to figure it out. It was very difficult given the sizeable pieces of her head that were missing, but given the areas of damage, it’s safe to say that it came from an angle greater than thirty degrees.” [it’s difficult to say as this is dialogue and in real life people do repeat words and sound awkward, but I would change slightly to make a bit more sense, especially as you’ve said he had a very correct accent - It was very difficult given that sizeable pieces of her head were missing. Looking at the areas of damage, it’s safe to say that it came from an angle greater than thirty degrees.]

Marcel made his way quickly to the rear of the precinct, his eyes fixed squarely on the door that the officer had seemed to have motioned to [to which the officer had motioned]. Upon reaching it, he knocked sharply. A moment later, the door opened and Marcel saw the detective standing there. “Detective Mullen, I presume?” asked Marcel.

“Yeah, that’s right,” said Mullen. “Ya the goil’s boyfriend, right?”

“Fiancé,” replied Marcel.

“Sorry. Look, I’m woiking on it as ‘ahd as I keyn,” said Mullen, slightly annoyed at seemingly being confronted again [irritated at another confrontation].
….
Putting his hands in his jacket pockets, Marcel turned around and walked out of the precinct, his eyes now angled towards the ground in front of him but not really focused on anything. He was running over everything Peter and Detective Mullen had told him in his mind [His mind was running over everything Peter and Detective Mullen had told him], trying to make sense of it all. However, no matter how many different ways he looked at it, the unanswered [take out, they’re not unanswered if he’s getting answers!] questions all came back with the same answers, and one of them was much more likely than the others.

She was shot from above, thought Marcel as he walked out the front door of the precinct and down the wide stone steps in front of it. He looked up at the rooftops of the buildings around him, trying to visualize what might have happened that night. Although several blocks from the hotel, Marcel could still imagine the events unfolding. He could see Lindsey getting out of the cab and walking towards the doors of the hotel, the bullet striking the back of her head and sending her to the ground missing a third of her skull.

It was a high-powered rifle, firing a powerful bullet at a high velocity. He could almost see the rifle, a long, heavy rifle sporting a powerful long-distance scope. There would have been a bipod attached to aid the shooter in landing his shot.

The rifle doesn’t match anything in the police database. The rifle he was imagining now took on a polished, dark green finish, the kind used with military sniper rifles. [too many repetitions of rifle, you should rephrase or think of another word to use]

It was heavily modified. With that, Marcel had it. Everything Peter had told him suddenly all fit together, but the completed puzzle that now appeared in Marcel’s mind was as shocking as it was horrifying; Force Shadow had killed the fiancée of one of its own. [This is an ace hook to end on! I had begun to suspect as he knew so much about ballistics etc., but wasn’t sure if he was one of them or an enemy. Excellent! Makes me want to read more.]
Hope that helps.
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Last edited by josiehenley; 01-30-2007 at 05:12 AM.. Reason: didn't mean it to all be in bold!
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Old 01-30-2007, 10:22 AM
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Thanks a lot. I'll be putting more up soon.
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:55 PM
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I just wanted to say I saw I show on, I believe, the Discovery Channel about sniper rifles and other military technology. "Wow" is all I can say (in addition to "holy ****!"). I commented to my friend that I was watching the program with about how much damage they do as compared to in movies like Saving Private Ryan. My friend replied that technology has "improved" and sniper rifles are far more powerful. *smacks forehead* Doh! So, just wanted to share how stupid I felt. Most of the movies I watch with sniper rifles are war movies and are outdated weapon-wise when compared to today. I'm not really blond, I swear!

PS. Can't wait for more story!
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Old 01-30-2007, 03:22 PM
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Haha, don't worry. Yeah, modern rifles are pretty powerful. Like Peter said, the .338, when fired from the Model 700, can take out a grizzly bear.

Anyways, any specific comments on the story so far?
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Old 01-30-2007, 03:34 PM
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I liked it. Makes it more complicated that Marcel is also a part of Force Shadow. I was kinda getting the feeling as he was talking to the ballistics guy that he was privy to some unpublicized info. Very interesting...Can't wait to see what he does. Also, if his fiance was actually doing what they thought she was. The only thing I can point out, aside from how much I enjoyed it, is in this part of the story:
The ballistics expert looked up from the microscope, grabbing his glasses and putting them on his head. He turned to look at Marcel and asked, “Can I help you?” Marcel noticed that the man’s accent was virtually nonexistent. Probably not from around here.
The grabbing his glasses part reads funny to me. Maybe "...microscope while grabbing his glasses..." instead. Just food for thought...
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Old 01-30-2007, 03:49 PM
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Ok, cool. I'm glad you liked it and thought it was interesting. Thanks for the tip as well. I'll put more up soon.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:21 PM
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CHAPTER TWO



“…NYPD investigators are still baffled by the mysterious shooting of a woman in front of the Crowne Point hotel in the city two days ago. Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsay Pope was shot dead Friday night in what police have ruled a homicide. Police have said that the victim may have had ties to mob activities, but currently have no leads on who may have pulled the trigger. According to police reports, several witnesses have been brought in for questioning, but none have brought the detectives any closer to solving this tragic and heartbreaking murder…”
--Channel 4 News Report; Sunday, November 16, 2008




Out of the corner of his eye, O’Reilly saw the light change from red to yellow, brought his custom M-4 up to his shoulder, and stared down the M-68 red-dot sight. He could not see the light change from yellow to green, but the chime of a bell told him the exercise had begun. A wood-and-paper target, shaped in the silhouette of a man, popped up fifty yards downrange, and O’Reilly pulled the trigger. There was a silenced tink-tink-tink as three rounds cycled through the chamber and were shot out of the sound-and-flash-suppressed muzzle, all boring holes through the “head” of the target. However, O’Reilly did not pause to admire his handiwork, instead rotating towards a second target which had appeared as soon as the first had been shot down. The thirty-year-old Major pulled the trigger once again, and once again three holes appeared in the forehead of the wooden target.

A third target appeared and met the same fate as the first two. O’Reilly proceeded to shoot seven more targets, and upon putting three holes into the tenth and final target, another bell chimed and O’Reilly finally took his right eye away from his sight. He ejected his spent magazine and placed it on the table next to him before slinging his M-4 over his shoulder on its strap and wandering downrange to inspect his targets. By the time he got to the first target, the ten wooden silhouettes were all up, the computer having raised them upon the completion of the exercise to allow for the operatives who had undergone the training to see how they had done. O’Reilly was not surprised to see that every one of his targets had three holes in their foreheads, all grouped in neat, compact circles.

As he was inspecting his final target, O’Reilly heard a bell chime and suddenly a target popped up five yards away. His hand instinctively shot to his silenced MEU SOC .45 pistol, sitting in his thigh holster, and a moment later the target was retracting, three holes punched through its wooden frame. A lonely set of hands began to clap from back in the firing area, and O’Reilly turned to see Colonel Ross standing there with a wide smile on his face.

“Good work, Major,” said Ross, stepping past the safety line and walking downrange towards O’Reilly.

“Thank you, sir,” said O’Reilly, replacing his pistol.

“You seem pretty handy with that,” said Ross, motioning to the pistol.

“Yeah, well when you’re in the Marines you learn to love these things; accurate and powerful,” said O’Reilly with a smile.

“That’s what I don’t get about the Army,” said Ross with a shake of his head. “We still cling to the nine millimeter only because it has a larger magazine. The boys in charge need to realize that the stopping power is worth it.”

O’Reilly shrugged and said, “The Marines chamber the MEU SOCs to hold fourteen rounds instead of seven; kinda kills the Army’s arguments for the nine millimeter, huh, sir?”

Ross shook his head. “I don’t get it. Anyways, nice work on the shooting. You boys never cease to impress me with shooting like that.”

“It’s why we get paid, sir,” said O’Reilly.

“Of course,” said Ross with a laugh.

A short silence passed between them, prompting O’Reilly to say, “Sir, I get the feeling you didn’t just come down here to compliment me on my shooting.”

“You’re right, I didn’t,” said Ross, shaking his head and looking down. “I’ve been trying to find a good way to put this, but…Lieutenant Hermann has gone AWOL.”

O’Reilly’s eyes went wide in shock. “Marcel?”

With a nod, Ross said, “He was due back at twelve hundred today but never showed. He’s been AWOL for eight hours.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” asked O’Reilly frantically. “Something might have happened to him! Do we have people out looking for him?”

“We’ve dispatched some, yes…”

“How long ago?” asked O’Reilly.

“About five hours ago…”

“Why didn’t you do anything sooner?” asked O’Reilly. “We need to--”

Finally, Ross raised a hand to silence the Major. “Pat, please.”

“Sorry, sir,” said O’Reilly, realizing he had lost his composure. He looked down slightly, not wanting to meet Ross’s steely eyes.

“There’s something you need to know.”

The tone in which Ross said the words caused O’Reilly to involuntarily meet the Colonel’s gaze. “What?” he asked.

Ross took a deep breath and said, “Do you remember the target you eliminated two days ago?”

“Yes,” said O’Reilly, not understanding what this might possibly have to do with Marcel’s disappearance.

After taking another deep breath, Ross said, “That woman’s name was Lindsay Pope, and she was Lieutenant Hermann’s fiancée.”

O’Reilly felt like someone had just punched him in the testicles with a set of brass knuckles. He felt as if he was going to throw up, but was somehow able to keep himself from doing so. Holding his stomach, he walked over to the table next to the primary firing position, pulled out the chair which operatives used when cleaning their weapons, and sat down. His eyes were wide open, staring downrange, but he was not looking at anything. The thought that he had killed the fiancée of his best friend made him want to kill himself. Scenes played through in his head, memories form his long relationship with Marcel.

The two had met twelve years prior in 1996. Both were Plebes at the United States Naval Academy, eighteen years old and ready to take on the world, or so they both thought. There they had struck up a friendship that would continue through their four years at the Academy and beyond, even when O’Reilly went into the Marines and Marcel into the Navy. O’Reilly remembered the elated calls they had given each other when Marcel had passed BUD/S, the Navy SEALs’ training course and O’Reilly been accepted to Force Reconnaissance, the Marines’ Special Forces; he also remembered the sobering phone call on that fateful day of September 11, 2001, when they both resolved to help hunt down and kill whoever had done this to their country. The memories that were the strongest of all, however, were those of the past four years, when they had worked together in Force Shadow, first as squadmates, and then, when O’Reilly was promoted to Major and received the command of Team One, as team commander and team XO. Now, after all the two had been through, after all the killing, sweating, and bleeding that they had done together, O’Reilly could not believe that he had pulled the trigger and killed the fiancée of someone who was like a brother to him.

Ross walked up and put a strong hand on the troubled Major’s shoulder. “Pat, I’m sorry, but it had to be done.”

O’Reilly said nothing for a moment, trying to sort his thoughts out before he replied. Finally, he was able to ask, “Why?”

“She was a security risk,” said Ross. “Lieutenant Hermann was hiding her from us, and there was a reason for it.”

“What was that?” asked O’Reilly in a non-believing tone.

“She was hanging out with too many of the wrong people,” said Ross. “You’ve seen the news reports; where do you think the police got the idea that she was involved with organized crime? They didn’t make it up, Pat. The FBI provided us with that little piece of intel, and they did the same thing for NYPD. We couldn’t have Marcel marrying a Mafiosa. Do you understand what kind of a problem that would create for us? Who knows what kinds of things would slip out?”

“Marcel could keep a secret, sir” said O’Reilly darkly. “And if you wanted her gone, all you needed to do was tell Marcel to end it.”

“Come on, Pat, you know Marcel better than anyone,” said Ross. “Do you really think he would have stopped seeing her?”

Knowing the Colonel was right, O’Reilly said nothing.

“It had to be done, Pat, for the good of the country.”

With a sigh, O’Reilly shook his head and said, “That doesn’t make it any better.”

“Well it needs to,” said Ross. “I can’t have the leader of Team One bugging out on me because he killed someone.”

“Well, sir, you’ll have to forgive me if it takes a while,” replied O’Reilly angrily. “I’m putting in for leave.”

“Denied,” said Ross.

“Sir?” asked O’Reilly, finally looking up at the Colonel.

“Your request is denied.”

“How can you deny my request for leave without me even submitting it?” asked O’Reilly.

“Save the paper, Pat, I’m not going to approve it,” said Ross. “We need to find Lieutenant Hermann and bring him in. I want you running point on this.”
O’Reilly shook his head. “You can’t have me do that, sir.”

“I need you to,” said Ross.

Looking up at the Colonel, O’Reilly shook his head again and said, “Please, sir, don’t make me do this. There are plenty of other people you could ask. Just please, not me.”

Ross sighed, but nodded. “Alright, Major, I’ll put someone else on it. Go and sort yourself out, but try to be ready to go as soon as you can; never know when we might need you.”

“Thank you, sir,” said O’Reilly, getting up. He gave Ross a crisp salute before picking up his M-4 and the spent magazine and walking into Team One’s weapons locker to begin cleaning his weapon and trying to figure out what he had done.
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