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EX SUPRA Spooktacular Part 1
Hello reader! In honor of spooky season, Breaking Beijing will will showcase a standalone Halloween-themed story featuring the characters from my novel, EX SUPRA. These are standalone stories, so while they take place in the same universe as the book, they will not feature any spoilers for those who haven’t read EX SUPRA yet. Enjoy!
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1645L 26 October 2030
“Don’t they teach you Delta boys how to make a hit time?” The door swung open, and, in its place, the purple-haired assassin burst into John’s apartment with a pumpkin spice latte in one hand and bourbon in the other. Athena popped the cap on the Venti latte and set it down on the Soviet munitions crate John adopted as a coffee table. She poured the bourbon and mixed to taste. John groaned and carried on with his costume design. He could smell the bourbon from across the room.
“Try not to spill any, I just got the carpet cleaned.” The rug in question was a genuine Persian he’d lifted from his first tour in the Middle East. He could never get all the bloodstains out, but he just thought they added character. For her part, Athena corked the bourbon and tossed the bottle to John.
“Drink up, we can’t be late AND sober.” John caught the bottle with his left hand and pulled bottle of Skyy from under his desk with his right. He took a swig from both and reminded his friend that he could still keep up with her.
The former Tier 1 Operator and Medal of Honor winner had formed quite the bond since they first met over a crime scene at Georgetown. From barfights in DC to proxy wars in Africa, the duo grew closer as the world around them burned. It was now six years since the Fall of Taiwan, and the world wasn’t getting any better. The global economy remained crippled as the semiconductor industry tried to recover from the loss of TMSC, with secondary shockwaves destabilizing everything from the financial sector to basic commodities. The Second Space Race occasionally turned violent, with orbital collisions and weapons tests from Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) to Luna. American domestic politics weren’t any better. The political violence in 2024, global depression, compounded by the synthetic bio and AI revolutions led to a technophobic populist backlash that kept the rhetorical toxicity comparable to mercury.
While they couldn’t fix everything, it was John and Athena’s job as a part of the CIA’s Special Activities Center to mitigate the violence and instability around the world as best they could, while wreaking havoc for their counterparts in Beijing. It was a cat and mouse game they’d fought for years in the shadows. MSS or the PLA made something would go boom in one country, and Athena and John would make something go boom elsewhere in retaliation. The only rule both sides agreed on was no paramilitary operations on their home turf. No sabotage in Shanghai, no assassinations in New York, and so on.
Two months earlier, John and Athena were camped out on the side of a mountain in the Wakhan Corridor, the small northeastern section of Afghanistan that led into China’s Xinjiang province. The area was sparsely populated, even by Afghan standards, with the occasional goat herder crossing the valley far from the duo’s rocky outpost.
“Remind me again why we’re out here? I swore never to come back to this place after the last war.” John sighed and blinked, his smart contacts shifting from thermal back to visible wavelengths.
“Something about a satellite.” Athena gnawed at a protein bar from her MRE and flipped through the slides on her e-sleeve.
“Jesus, there’s like fifty slides here. Uh…yeah, here we go. Says here Colorado Springs needs us to recover an asset. Their nerds told our nerds that one of our Edgerunner birds is coming down right on the PRC border. Although compensating for burn-in and whatever knocked it out of orbit, can’t imagine there will be much left once it makes landfall. Ahh, says here to thermite the onboard computer and recover the flight recorder…”
“Athena, I was being rhetorical. Did you really not read the briefing slides until just now? What did you think we were doing out here?” John wasn’t surprised, he’d read only about half of the slides. The intel was usually wrong anyway, especially in this part of the world.
“I heard Wakhan Corridor and ChiCom SOF team. I packed accordingly. Speaking of…” Athena lugged the bulky green case from the back of the Hilux they’d stashed in the back of the abandoned compound. The site itself had many names and occupants over the years, including the US military during their 20-year war in Afghanistan. Now the site was occupied by nothing but rubble, trash, and howling winds…and two spooks.
“Here we go.” Athena exhaled with excitement. She popped the locks and opened the case. Inside was what looked like an 82mm mortar tube with four football-sized projectiles.
“Is that what I think it is?” Athena nodded with far too wide a grin.
“I thought DoD lobotomized and decommissioned all of those. Like. By law.” John was both intrigued and concerned as to how Athena got her hands on the bleeding edge loitering munitions banned by a technophobic, populist Congress as part of the Weaponized Artificial Intelligence legislation codified in the last decade.
“DoD had to get rid of ‘em. But nobody ever actually asks about our arsenal. They don’t want to know about it. Besides, we’re Russians for this op, remember?”
“Yeah, how could I forget.” It was just a cover, but John hated even pretending to be Russian. Their invasion of his homeland in 2014 set him on his path of blood and violence some sixteen years ago. He felt around for a smoke, he’d quit after Taipei, but the urge hit him whenever he thought too much about his past. He shook off the trauma and lifted the surprisingly light launcher from its case instead, focusing on the future. This’ll do the job, nicely.
Located just about an hour outside of DC, Mountain Shadows Winery transformed itself into a haunted house and hayride for members of the intelligence community one weekend a year. Resting at the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, the winery was owned by one of CIA’s former Deputy Directors of Operations, Brianna Hurley. A famed veteran of the Global War on Terror, Hurley sponsored the event for members of the operations side of the house who were “stranded” on stateside tours. As such, the haunted house and hayride were a bit atypical. The barn remade as a haunted house was actually a haunted shoot house with Kevlar reinforced walls, an assortment of weapons loaded with simunitions (paintball rounds), and ghostly noises and targets pumped into the rooms to disorient shooters as they competed for the best course time. Athena held the course record.
Meanwhile, the hayride was indeed haunted...and a test of one’s ability to manufacture a cover. Every passenger wore a Halloween costume, handmade, with the accompanying documents and electronic signature. Fail to pass scrutiny by a ghoulish gang of security, and you had to walk back to the farmhouse. Someone always took it a little too far every year, but that was part of the fun and the challenge to keep cool under pressure while heavily intoxicated. The night concluded with a bonfire and lots of booze, and a toast to those who fell in quiet service to their country.
Bri Hurley and her wife Alyssa greeted each officer as they arrived at the winery. Bri was dressed as Lana from Archer and Alyssa as Kim Possible. No one ever suspected a bunch of spies to be dressed as…spies. Langley has a weird sense of humor that way. John, dressed as Jack “Ryan” O’Lantern, hugged the couple. He’d first met them more than a decade prior on assignment in Mindanao with 1st Special Forces Group when Bri was Chief of Station for Manila. Athena followed, dressed as Major from the classic anime Ghost in the Shell, bottle in hand and weapons holstered.
“Athena, is that really necessary?” Alyssa asked with a smirk. Athena was the best shot at the party and probably the whole paramilitary section of CIA. If anyone should be armed, it was probably her.
“Someone’s gotta protect Jack here. He’s just an analyst, after all.” Athena ribbed John and slapped the back of the ridiculous Pumpkin-skull that John wore for his costume. “Why the hell are you wearing that thing anyway?”
“It’s Halloween, Athena. You can be anything you want.” John threw a glance at the couple and strolled over to the complimentary wine selection.
“And you chose a pumpkin-headed desk jockey?” Athena took a swig of the remaining bourbon and shifted her attention to debating red or white.
“I liked the play on words. Besides, we can’t all pull off purple hair and a chest rig.” John grabbed a bottle of red without reading the label, Athena snatched up a white and they cheers’d each other to an evening of chaotic fun.
At around 0200 local time, the sky lit up above the Wakhan Corridor and a bright orange arc screamed down into the floodplains in the valley. Well-armed and prepped for retrieval, John and Athena held their ground. Running full speed into an impact zone, knowing that Chinese special operations soldiers would be doing the same, was not the best idea. Instead, the plan was to wait for the ChiComs troops to reveal themselves and then wipe them out before they made it back over the border. The impact crater smoldered at the base of the valley, on the south side of the Wakhjir River. Within minutes, John could hear the faint whop-whop of a PLA helicopter approaching from the east. The sound grew closer, echoing through the valley, flying dark so it was basically unseen to the naked eye at this time of night. John and Athena’s RealColor night vision devices could see all, however. The Z-20W stealth helicopter flew no more than 100 meters from the surface. It resembled the American Blackhawk helicopters with a few notable technical differences but none that mattered to the paramilitary officers.
Athena climbed atop the rocky outcrop next to the abandoned FOB and synchronized her headset with the four loitering munitions. Emplacing the firing tube on a stable position, Athena prepared for launch. As the PLA helicopter approached the Edgerunner crash site, she pulled the trigger. The launch was less dramatic than expected, no fiery burst of a rocket motor but instead a subtle thump as the bird left its cage. Codenamed “Skimmers,” the smart munitions flew like a small drone and could loiter on target for hours if needed. The VR headset enabled the user to have a near-real time birds’ eye view of exactly what the Skimmer could see. The real improvement, however, was in the targeting module. All Athena had to do was provide the general parameters of the priority target and the Skimmer would do the rest. Knowing the general size, surface temperature, and decibel level of the target almost ensured a direct hit. Flares could distract from heat seekers, and there were reflective devices to disrupt laser targeting, but the Skimmer wouldn’t detonate unless instructed by the user or when it made contact with its target. The only way to kill it was to shoot it down, and PLA rotary aircraft weren’t yet outfitted with such precision countermeasures. And so, the Skimmer flew, the PLA helicopter completely unaware of what was coming, while Athena watched the whole thing with bated breath. 3…2…1…impact.
The Z-20W burst into a flaming wreck about a mile from the Edgerunner, skidding through the floodplains until finally resting in the river. Not wasting a moment, Athena launched the second Skimmer and placed it in overwatch mode. She packed up the remaining gear and threw on her hazmat gear as John brought the Hilux around. The lack of viable roads and rocky terrain meant the two klik ride to the Edgerunner crash site took more time and more tolerance for back pain than either of the spooks would’ve liked. But once they arrived at the crash site, they made up for with a speedy pace for retrieval. The hazmat suits weren’t the most protective of their kind, but they were bulky enough to support body armor and would protect John and Athena from exposure to the variety of toxic chemicals that vaporized in the flames. Athena pulled security, with one eye to the sky in the Skimmer and the other scanning the perimeter. John dismounted and ran into the flames. His AR visor scanning the wreckage and comparing it with the Edgerunner schematics. Gotcha. John found the orange lever that released the flight recorder and gave it a hard tug, releasing the box. Package recovered, John returned to the truck, gave Athena a thumbs up, and grabbed the thermite charges from the bed to ensure all internal electronics were fried beyond recovery or identification. The PLA might be able to recover some of the chemical coatings, but that was the risk they’d have to take. The last time they stole a chemical coating from a wreckage certainly didn’t help them much. The stealthy Z-20 wreckage with likely a dozen ChiCom soldiers burned alive was proof of that.
Athena swept through each room of the shoot house as smoothly as she was drunk. Adrenaline pumping, the alcohol did little to slow her reflexes, hitting target after target, and not wasting a single round. Since her standard Glock 21 sidearm was loaded with live ammo, she picked up an MP5K submachine gun from the table and two extra magazines which she stuffed into her chest rig. For this challenge, shooters could only use their biologics, no smart lenses or headsets. No ear protection either, the haunting sounds pumped into the farmhouse were meant to purposely disorient the shooter as they navigated the wood and hay barrel maze. She’d hit the start clock herself and burst into the main room, clearing several before encountering her first obstacle: a 12-foot tall, swinging skeleton blocking her target. She smiled and squeezed off a single round, the 9mm round flying clean through the chest cavity and hitting her target. The next few rooms were filled with exploding pumpkins, shrieks of torture from recovered Russian interrogation tapes, and flash bang grenades that did little to disorient Athena. The course culminated with a swinging, 4-inch target in a pitch-black room illuminated only by the small streak of moonlight passing through a hole in the barn roof. Athena didn’t blink, she timed the seconds in between glimpses of the target. She squeezed off round 30, the last round in her magazine, and nailed the target dead center just as it reappeared. Athena switched the weapon to safe and exited out the back of the barn.
“New course record by three seconds. 30 for 30 with zero collateral damage. Damn girl, you’re a machine.” Athena smiled at Bri and pulled a flask from her chest rig. Tertia Optio, read the engraving. It was the motto of the Special Activities Center: for when the military won’t do, and diplomacy won’t work. There was Athena.
“The real challenge is when the targets shoot back.” Bri nodded. She’d had her fair share of that from Kabul to Karachi but still marveled at Athena. She was a machine, and that she could set course records while absolutely hammered and in a cosplay outfit was simply dumbfounding.
“Alright, onto the hayride! Hey, don’t go easy on Johnny when he runs the course. No handicaps for pumpkins.”
At the front of the barn, John grabbed his favored 1911 chambered in .45 ACP from the rack and set himself up aside the left of the barn door, awaiting the start signal. He took a deep breath and tried to recall the data he’d collected from listening in on those who went before him. The time between shots, the times for when a shooter was disqualified, his likely blood alcohol content and how he’d compensate for that. This really was an insane contest. Give the world’s best operators alcohol and guns and make them compete against one another while dressed in ridiculous costumes. Why the hell did I choose a pumpkin head? This thing has no peripheral vision. I should’ve went as Mitch Rapp, all I needed was a tracksuit, Glock Nano, and a fanny pack. I’m gonna get my ass kicked. As John contemplated all his decisions, Alyssa gave the signal to start, and John kicked in the door without hesitation.
Riding down the four-mile loop around the property, Athena felt herself sobering up a slight bit. She chatted with Chris and Shelby who were on loan from Berlin Station to the Psychological Operations desk. They were nice enough, and certainly more fun than the dozen other officers on the ride. The late night and alcohol were starting to wear on the older officers, and the young ones hadn’t learned quite enough to hold their liquor to Agency standards. Athena leaned back and tried to take in the scenery. Bri and Alyssa really went all out, the course was lined with animatronic monsters, creepy music, and hey what was that? Just beyond the wood line, Athena caught the shadow of someone in the moonlight. The shadow people are your friends. She blinked a few times and shook off the vibes. Shouldn’t have had that Absinthe. Shit always makes me see things.
The tractor rounded the corner and approached the halfway point of the loop. Now it was time for the second challenge, the tractor would be halted by the “security forces” of Halloweentown and each rider interrogated about their identity and cover. Those who passed scrutiny were rewarded with pie and a ride back to the bonfire. Those who failed were turned around and had to march the two miles back in the dark. Athena hellbent on not having to walk anywhere.
“Everyone off, now. That’s an order.” Hmm, that’s odd. Usually, the security forces greeted them with some obnoxious screed about the glory of Halloweentown, instead they were just ordered to dismount. Athena’s instincts were starting to kick in, but the alcohol and adrenaline comedown numbed them ever so slightly. Hallucinating a man in the woods was one thing, a change to script was another. Both possibly just circumstantial, though. The true red flag came when one of the older case officers: Stan Black, dressed as George Smiley, was hit with the butt of a rifle for moving too slow. There was never physical contact, even if someone always took their role too far. Alright, something’s up.
Athena spun around, hoping to talk to the man in charge, only to find herself staring into the business end of an assault rifle. Shit.
John was three rooms into the shoot house when he heard the screams and gunfire. At first, he thought it was just the course audio, but these were fainter and muffled by the Kevlar-lined walls. His instincts kicked in, thinking someone had accidentally discharged a weapon in their drunken state or gotten into a brawl. He bypassed the 12-foot-tall skeleton and made for the exit as fast as he could in the dark. Hitting the rear barn door, he peered out without moving the door too much. In the moonlight he saw one body, likely Bri. Shit.
John crouched and slowly slid the barn door open just enough to peek his head around. He didn’t see anyone and scrambled over to Bri. He checked her pulse and she groaned.
“Bri, you hit?”
“Shit, yeah. John is that you?” She rolled over and pulled herself up against a hay barrel. “Round hit me center mass. Hit my armor. Lucky, I don’t trust any of you to shoot straight. But this old bird definitely has a few cracked ribs.” John hugged his old friend and checked for any blood or signs of concussion.
“What the hell is going on, Bri?”
“Hell, if I know, Johnny. One minute I’m waiting out here for you to fall short of Athena’s time and the next, I feel like I got hit by a truck.” She wheezed and coughed; a little blood came up. Yep, definitely cracked ribs and internal trauma.
“Where’s everyone else?” John poked his head around the corner with little luck.
‘I think I heard them, whoever they are, force everyone back to the house. Sounded like Mandarin, maybe…Shanghai accent.” What the fuck is going on. John instinctively checked his ammo count only to remember that he only had paint rounds. Motherfucker.
Athena stared down the barrel of the modified AR-15 without the slightest display of fear. She swayed ever so slightly, but that was from the booze.
“And just who the fuck are YOU?” Athena stared into the man’s headset hoping to get a glimpse of a soul. She found none.
“We are not important. You on the other hand, are a wanted woman. Athena Lucente.” How the fuck…Athena decided to play it off like it was still the game.
“I don’t know who that is. I’m Major Mira Killian, Public Security Section 9. Now again, who the FUCK are you?” Athena was growing impatient, and she was ready to start swinging. She looked around, the rest of her Agency colleagues were now also held at gunpoint. She counted four shooters, all well-armed, body armor, night vision, the works. The man’s English was quite good, she tried to place the accent. She couldn’t see skin tone behind the balaclava and the gear looked all top-of-the-line American.
“No, you are Athena Lucente. American terrorist and assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency. The bio scan confirms it. Do not lie. You were in Afghanistan two months ago. You killed my men.” Fuck. He’s PLA. Wait. Did he say bio scan? Athena’s thought process was interrupted by a gunshot. She looked to her right; Stan was bleeding out. So, this is an execution. She’d figure the details out later. Time to go to work.
Athena grabbed the ChiCom’s rifle barrel with her right hand and pulled it past her head, using it as a counterweight to swing her left leg into the man’s chest, knocking the wind out of him and separating him from his weapon. Before the others could react, Athena put the rifle to her shoulder and aimed down the line of PLA. Four shots, four kills. Then two extras in each body for good measure. Athena drew the FN FiveSeveN pistol from her holster and handed it to Shelby. Chris, a former Special Forces medic, tried to revive Stan while the others disarmed the deceased PLA and hauled their bodies onto the wagon. The wound was straight through the heart.
“So, what’s the plan?” Shelby asked as she inspected the bodies. Athena dropped the rifle and replaced it with a fresh one, racking the slide with rage as she looked over again at the now deceased Stan. Rest in peace, George Smiley.
“Go back to the house. Link up with John. Contact Langley.” Athena fitted the leader’s headset and visor to her own face and started searching for information.
“And if there’s more PLA goons?” Athena smiled at Shelby. There was only ever one answer to that question.
“Kill ‘em all.”
John figured he could still stun, if not disable, the mystery opposition at close range with the paint round. Headshots only. He was facing an unknown number of enemies with a non-lethal weapon and, judging by the caliber that hit Bri’s chest, they were all armed with assault rifles. They outranged and outgunned John’s 1911 by what might as well have been miles. He’d have to use stealth to his advantage.
The massive country house, which now had more than a few lights on, was about a quarter mile from the barn, uphill and protected by a stone retaining wall and with nothing but open field between them, John was in the worst position imaginable to assault the house. He looked back at Bri; she was holding up well, but she was also older, and this wasn’t the first time she’d been shot. Shit, she got blown up twice in Manila. She can handle this. As John continued to contemplate his plan of action, he heard the faint echo of shots from the wood line. He counted about a dozen of what sounded like an AR-15 in the cool October air. Athena.
One of the other officers drove the tractor, Athena standing on the right-side step like she was leading a cavalry assault, as the others rode in the back and tried not to think too hard about what their other colleagues might be going through back at the farm. Athena, for her part, hoped John was leading some sort of resistance effort. The visor she picked up off the ChiCom bodies told her there were another 8 shooters on the grounds of the winery. Two by the garage and six in the house. If they hadn’t yet killed the other CIA officers, they were likely holding and interrogating them in the house. There weren’t any vehicles marked on the display, so it was most likely that PLA black ops team had hiked onto the property. But how the fuck did they know they were here, and how did they know her name? Langley’s computer nerds went to great lengths to erase and replace identities in the digital age and Athena was pretty careful. They mentioned the Edgerunner recovery. This was clearly a revenge op, but the only rule the two sides lived by was no fighting on the home front. You dealt with your differences in third party countries, and you didn’t send kill teams after each other for what was considered fair play. Athena wondered if one of the PLA soldiers on that helicopter was the son of someone important. That would certainly change the stakes. If it was dead dickbag’s team who she’d killed. Well, now I’ve killed two of his teams. It was possible someone important dispatched him to recover his honor or face his own death by coming to kill Athena and company. But HOW did he know where and who she was?
“Approaching the farmhouse, everyone ready up.” Athena’s mind returned to the task at hand.
“Alright, stop here. Everyone dismount and stay alert. As far as we know, they think these headsets still belong to their team. Stay out of view. Shelby, you’re with me. Let’s check out the barn first. There might still be a few flashbangs left for us to use.” Shelby and Athena had no choice but to run as fast they could to the farmhouse. It was a couple hundred meters of open field, but cloud cover reduced their outlines from the moonlight. If the visor display was accurate, the barn was free of ChiComs.
John collected the last of the flashbang grenades from the shoot house and stuffed them in his jacket pockets. Jack Ryan O’Lantern really was the worst possible costume. As he popped back out to check on Bri, he heard footsteps approaching from the east. Knowing he could only have an effective shot at very close range, he hid behind the hay barrel and waited for his targets to present themselves.
“OK, do you remember what room the flashbangs were in?” The hushed but unfamiliar voice asked. Huh.
“Sixth room left side. They’re probably stashed in a dispenser along the wall.” Athena? John thought for a second.
“Don’t they teach you Ranger girls how to make a hit time?” John? Thank God.
“About as well as they teach you Delta boys. Glad to see you’re still alive Johnny. Got Shelby here with me and about a dozen officers in the wood line. Most armed.” John popped out from behind the hay barrel and gave Athena the “What the fuck is going on?” look.
“Bri’s here, she’s hurt but she’ll pull through.” Bri nodded and tried to stand up but just smiled at Athena and Shelby instead.
“Glad to see you’re alright Bri. Where’s Alyssa and the rest?” John hesitated. He explained what he’d seen and heard and agreed with Athena it was likely they were all still being held at the house. No doubt the remaining PLA were trying to figure out where John was if the reason was the Afghanistan job and why comms with the rest of their team were down.
“So, what’s the plan?” John leaned up against the barn and sighed.
“Beirut?” Athena suggested with a smirk.
“You always want to do Beirut.” And it always ended with John being bait.
“We might die, Johnny. Might as well have a little fun.” Beirut it is.
It took about 30 minutes to get everyone in position. Once everyone was set, John played his part. He approached the back of the house, where he was immediately lit up by spotlights from the security system. The soldiers took notice.
“Stop where you are.” Then there was a pause and they stared at him for a moment.
“You are John Petrov. CIA. Yes?” John blinked.
“Yep. That’s me. Heard you guys were out for revenge. Thought we had an agreement. We’re all safe on our own soil. You don’t come to my house and kill me. I don’t blow up your car in Shanghai or wherever the fuck you’re from.”
“You and your partner killed the grandson of the General Secretary. It has been decided that rule was counterrevolutionary.” John smiled, that was one hell of a bullet point to add to the resume.
“So. If I walk in there and surrender, you gonna let all these people go?”
“Perhaps.” That’s a no. John tried to gauge the conditions of the hostages. Some were a bit bruised and bloody. No doubt from interrogations. He needed to end this now. He slowly reached for the flashbang grenade and pistol strapped to his back.
“OK. I fucked up. I deserve this. I’m coming in.” The soldiers kept their sights locked on John. His hands appearing as if they were clasped to the back of his head and neck. Athena and Shelby had already snapped the necks of the two ChiComs near the garage. Only the six in the room with the hostages remained. One soldier opened the door and let John inside. Click. John pulled the pin on the flashbang. “Get down!” John rolled and tackled the soldier opening the door as the grenade rolled right into the center of the wet work team. The CIA officers that were coherent enough to pay attention ducked and tackled those that weren’t. The room lit up with blinding white light and an ear bursting bang. John pulled Athena’s FiveSeveN from his back and fired one round into the soldier’s throat. He spun around and hit one more before the sharpshooters on the ridgeline finished off the remaining four. In a matter of seconds, the crisis was over.
Around midnight, the cleanup was finally over. The PLA soldiers were stripped of their gear and packaged in the wine cellar for shipment to Langley for identification in the morning. Chris patched up Bri and the others, as Athena and John collected the remaining booze and gathered everyone around the bonfire. The duo still couldn’t shake the notion that they weren’t seeing the whole picture. How did the ChiComs know who to look for, how did they know it was us and not the Russians, how did they have our bio scans?
Usually, this would be a time of celebration and commemoration, bragging and excuses, and passing out drunk in a vineyard. Now, it was simply a time to get warm, embrace your colleagues, and mourn those lost in the battle.
“To our fallen comrades. To the stars on the Wall. May they forever watch over us and live on forever in our hearts. To Jeremiah. To Krystin. To Stan.” John and Athena toasted their fallen friends and added one more line as the group solemnly stared into the raging fire.
“To the new rules.”
If you enjoyed this story, check out my novel, EX SUPRA. It’s the story about the war after the next war. From the first combat jump on Mars to the climate change-ravaged jungles of Southeast Asia, EX SUPRA blends the bleeding edge of technology and the bloody reality of combat. In EX SUPRA, the super soldiers are only as strong as their own wills, reality is malleable, and hope only arrives with hellfire. Follow John Petrov, a refugee turned CIA paramilitary officer, Captain Jennifer Shaw, a Green Beret consumed by bloodlust, and many more, as they face off against Chinese warbots, Russian assassins, and their own demons in the war for the future of humanity.
And if you have any suggestions for topics for future newsletters, please send them my way on Twitter @Iron_Man_Actual.
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