“Alright gentlemen, please be seated,” Special Agent Clede said to the men filing into the mobile command tent. “I would like to thank you for arriving so quickly. EXOCorp has never let us down in our 25-year working relationship. I am Special Agent Clede…”

18 large, muscular men, covered in tattoos, bearded, and wearing a mix of hipster and tactical clothing sporting an array of exotic weaponry, sat down.

Brad Mann, the largest among the group, bored, checked the safety on his chopped DSArms FAL.

Clede continued, “…I would like to introduce my second in command, Special Agent Travis Russo, who will be accompanying on this mission. As you have heard on the news, this city is under a state of martial law. What you haven’t heard, and the reason for bringing you in, is that the city government has taken steps to countermand the federal state of emergency…”

Briefs always irritated Brad; he had already read the e-mail. Yeah, get to the details, you dipshit, he thought.

“Since we can’t use regular military personnel to effect a neutralization of American civil officials, we’re calling on your team. If anyone has an issue with this, speak up now and I’ll have an agent give you your NDAs and you can go back to your hotel.”

Comanch, a half-breed from Oklahoma who did his time with the 1st Infantry Division, raised his hand. “So let me get this right: the local city government and police department aren’t playing ball, and you want us to whack them?”

Clede fixed his ice-cold stare on Comanch. “Short answers, yes and yes. If it needs to happen, it will. Do you have a problem with that?”

“Fuck no,” Comanch answered, followed by a chorus of nos assenting to the mission parameters.

All except one: Choi, a hard nosed ex-Marine gunnery sergeant, “I do have a problem. Suppressing rioters or looters is one thing, but killing city councilmen and cops?” Choi turned to Brad. “Brad, did you join the Corps to serve your country or to kill American civilians?”

Brad shrugged his shoulders and said, “I ain’t in the Corps anymore. I work per the contract, get my money, and fuck it.”

Clede spoke up, “Mr. Choi, is it?”


“Well, see Special Agent Tomkins at the tent entrance. He’ll have your NDAs and I will notify the EXOCorp director of operations of your decision. Thank you,” Clede said as Choi left.

“Now, down to the details. The situation is as follows: the deputy mayor and city council have been holed up in city hall for 48 hours with the remaining elements of the city police. The mayor’s office has been directing street operations using the remaining SWAT, members of the detective’s bureau, and the district attorney’s investigative branch. They have been employing street activists from the black bloc and antifa in disruptive sabotage raids. Most of the activity has been directed at Army and federal assets in the AO operating during the hours coinciding with dawn and dusk, when there is light but target prime activity is nil.”

Clede droned on, presenting slides showing the layout of City Hall and dossiers on the SWAT and detective commanders.

Brad’s full attention was riveted to the operational details.

“…and with that, we will be mounting the operation at 2100 hours as they are preparing defenses for the overnight watch. Special Agent Russo will be accompanying you on this op. Now if that is all…”

Get some. Oorah! Brad thought.


The convoy of armored suburbans rolled through silent city streets ruled by the dead. Brad watched as they passed through the Airborne’s checkpoints. Armored scout vehicles patrol. The occasional sound of gunfire and 30mm cannon blasts echoed through the downtown canyons.

Ahead, the city blocks were dark. The power cut in preparation for the op.

Evans commented, “Shit, now they know we’re coming.”

Agent Russo said, “Use flashbangs; their SWAT use night vision devices. Won’t affect our thermal vision. They’ll be blind and deaf. Like shooting fish in a barrel.” At this, he smiled, a smile that split Russo’s hatchet face and pulled his sallow, putty-like skin taut. It reminded Brad of a predatory shithouse rat.

Stopping and dismounting within two blocks, Brad took point on Blue Team.

“Yo, Russo, you and your boys coming with?” Brad asked.

Russo just sat in the front passenger seat of the suburban with the federal tactical officer.

“Nah, Mann, I’ll be coordinating from the convoy.”

Typical little government pencil-neck spook. Willing to send men into danger but never risking his worthless ass, Brad thought.

Brad turned away in disgust.

They got quiet, they got dark.

The world shimmered in negative through the thermal tubes, the glass windows of the skyscrapers pitch black, the stonework and street pavement a soft gray from the heat of the day. Here and there, stark white objects glowed hot: the embers of a garbage fire, rats scurrying back into the sewers.

Brad held up a clenched fist. Blue Team halted behind him.

For a second, he puzzled over something 70 meters to his three o’clock. He held his crosshairs over a dark, man-shaped figure.

Keying his bone mic, he called Special Agent Russo. “I have a target prime subject forward my position. Permission to engage?”

Russo whined, “Can you avoid it?”

“Maybe. Probably not.”

“Permission granted. Use silenced weapons only.”

“No problem.”

Brad took up the slack on his FAL’s trigger. The butt plate thumped his shoulder. The bullet cracked through the air and impacted the side of a building.

“I missed. Let’s double-time it.”

Padded footfalls dribbled along the sidewalks as the PMCs worked their way to within 100 yards of City Hall.

Evans took position next to Brad. Training night vision binoculars on the building, he took a few minutes to scan the exterior through the green glow.

“Just like Delta and Aerial said, no external guards, no rooftop lookout. They must be deep inside the East Wing shitting themselves.” Evans paused then added, “Why stay?”

Brad said, “Some people are attached to home.”

He thought to himself, I don’t get it. After I left home for the Corps, after Iraq, I could’ve cared less. Fucking shit-for-brains bureaucrats.

Blue and Red Teams made a break for the west side of the building, cutting the glass out of four ground-level windows.

18 men hoisted themselves over and inside in less than a half a minute.

The interior was shades of gray and black as the teams moved past bullet-riddled and blast-marked walls and doors.

Brad halted again, motioning Phillips to come forward. He pointed to the tripwires lining the access hall’s intersection to the main passage.

Silent, Phillips disarmed the trip wires that were attached to ten flashbang grenades.

Man, they’re fucking scared.

A minute closer to the East Wing and Brad saw the white footprints of two sentries on the floor. He used two fingers to motion “two sentries patrolling at my nine o’clock.”

Brad drew his silenced .45. The others followed suit.

The trail led to a pair of SWAT officers at the end of the hall.

In the tomb-like confines of the hall, Blue Team sneaked through the shadows. Brad lined up a shot at the base of one man’s neck.

Two quiet barks marked the SWAT officers’ departure from this world.

As Brad returned to Blue Team, a burst of submachine gun fire erupted at them from the opposite branch of the hall.

Phillips’ face exploded and his jaw splattered on Brad’s combat rig. Firing from the hip, Brad winged one of the second pair of sentries as all hell broke loose.

Somebody was screaming; the rest of Blue Team joined in, filling the hall with lead. Brad emptied the mag of his .45 into one SWAT officer before the pair was obliterated.

“Okay, fuck stealth. Move fast and blast it if it moves,” Brad keys his mic, “Red Team, we are hot, they know we’re here. Hit the East Wing hard.”

Brad holstered the .45 and shouldered the FAL. “Get some, boys!”

Down the main hall, he caught the fleeting heat signatures of SWAT taking up position. He lit up a security desk, pumping out round after round of 7.62 NATO.

Hathcock, on point for Red, announced over the radio, “Red Team converging on the atrium from the North Wing. Fuck the flashbangs, were dropping frags on their asses.”

“Good call. We’re hitting heavy resistance. Will be sending smoke,” Brad replied.

Like wolves, Blue Team stalked towards the atrium taking fire.

5.56 projectiles ricocheted off the walls.

Comanch dropped down behind his M60, unleashing heavy bursts of suppressing fire, shredding the atrium’s marble interior as Blue Team picked out targets and bounced smoke grenades on to the police positions.

In two seconds, the atrium was filled with billows of smoke.

The M60 fell silent.

SWAT waited in the haze, crouching tighter.

A few moaned as they hunkered down with bullet wounds to their extremities.

Some readied flashbangs, others tried to orient themselves.

Whispers passed in the dark.

“They were dead ahead.”

“Do we retreat?”

“Retreat where? You know the way back through this shit?”

“Who the fuck are they? Mercs? Radio back to the captain.”

One officer crept along the floor, stealthily, AR-15 ready. The smoke and his night vision turned everything into milky green fog; the IR light mounted to his weapon only glared back at him. Killing it, he waited in the darkness.

A clink of belted ammo.

The SWAT officer sprayed a burst in its direction, yelling out as he advanced, “On me I have them at my twelve o’clock!”

Others followed the muzzle flashes through the haze.

Four SWAT officers, blind, charged towards where the enemy was.

Magazines went dry.

Precise fire erupted from the hall. The hammer blows of heavy AP rounds punched through ballistic vests, split open helmets.

The steal rattle of grenades filled the atrium.

Blasts shook the atrium.

Men already wounded, unable to reach cover ,screamed as fragmentation grenades tore away arms and legs.

Most, though, remained silent as shockwaves liquefied their brains and obliterated faces before a sound could be uttered.

Detective Northcote hid behind a pillar. He clutched three CS grenades, muttering, “Come on. Come on.”

“Beautiful job, Red Team, looks like grenades did the trick. You clear up top and rally on the council chambers. We’ll clear any survivors in the atrium.”

Brad had watched SWAT’s futile blundering, their white hot heat signatures visible through the smoke. Blue Team just had to wait and fire from cover.

As Blue Team moved through the atrium, Evans paused over the cooling body of a fallen SWAT officer. He paused and gave thanks that the thermal imaging couldn’t show the American flag patch over the right shoulder.

Someone muttering quietly behind a pillar interrupted his thoughts.

“Motherfucker. Come on. Motherfucker. Come on.”

Evans glided towards them, leveling his H&K UMP. Silent until his boot caught some spent brass.

With a tinny chime, they rolled away from his foot.

“Yeah, there you are. Going to have me some fun!” The voice blurted out as clicks preceded the clatter of three white hot canisters rolling into view.

Evans felt his eyes begin to tear up. His nose began to run.

“GAS! CLEAR THE ATRIUM NOW!” he shouted.

He followed the running form of Detective Northcote firing a burst while trying to clear the noxious gas.

A string of fire caught Northcote in the low back and planted him on the ground.

Northcote rolled onto his side and fired his service pistol.

Muzzle flashes illuminated the dark form of Evans emerging from the smoke.

Northcote aimed for Evans’ hips and pressed the trigger twice as the H&K was emptied into his torso.

Hacking and bitching, Blue Team closed in on Evans groaning in a growing pool of blood.

“Medic! Get up here, we have wounded. It’s Evans.”

They watched as the medic and Brad tried to staunch the copious bleeding from Evan’s severed femoral arteries.

After a minute, the medic turned to Brad, blood up to his elbows. “It’s no good. He’s gone.”

“Well, fuck. Break out the saline solution and get this CS shit out our eyes.”

Red and Blue Teams stacked up, flanking the main double doors leading to the council chambers. An unearthly calm settled over the remaining 16 men.

No thoughts passed through their heads beyond the next ten seconds to come, when breach would be affected.

Breathing steadied even as the remnants of the CS gas burned their skin.

Pulses slackened as the det cord was wired to the doorframe.

Pupils dilated as Jones counted with his fingers.

Three…two… one…

A sharp bang; the heavy oaken doors flew outward, crashing to the ground. Booted feet trampled over them.

Men button-hooked into the council chambers, fanning out along the far wall.

Brad found his targets in an instant: a bailiff and one remaining SWAT officer stood in the direct line of his FAL’s muzzle.

He sent 147 grains of deliverance to their chests.

Muzzle blasts buffeted him from the sides as the other PMCs wasted the remaining cops.

It was over in 19 seconds.

Red and Blue Team cleared the rest of the chamber, finding the nine-member city council and deputy mayor hunkering under seats and tables.

There was crying.

Individual shots rang out now; each council member was killed where they hid.

There was begging.

One prayed in vain for it, only to be answered by a high-caliber bullet.

There was resigned silence.

Brad closed in on the final heat signature, a middle-aged council woman who managed to get out in between sobs, “You can’t do this.”

Brad put the reticle on her forehead and said, “Boogaloo, boss lady, boogaloo.”

The shot echoed through city hall before all fell into stillness.

“Agent Russo, City Hall is pacified. Do you read?” Brad keyed the command frequency.

No answer.

Jones called for Brad’s attention. “Uh, Mann, our ride’s fucking gone.”

“You got be shittin’ me. That little fucker Russo!” Brad said.

“No shittin’ and we’ve got a problem. Outside is crawling with target prime activity. I count at least ten.”

Comanch uttered, “Oh fuck. We’re at least seven hours from sun up.”

Jones turned to Comanch, “It gets worse. Some of them are armed.”


For all installments of “PMC,” click here.