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The Scope of Justice
By Williamson, Michael Z.
Avon BooksISBN: 0060565241
"You will use ten kilograms of semtex, which will be provided to you by another. Messages regarding it will be delivered to the safe house," Rafiq bin Qasim said to the man before him, concluding the briefing. "Are there any questions?"
"None, sir. I go with God!" replied the man. His name wasn't important. Allah knew his name. Soon he would be dead, then others would know it, too.
Bin Qasim's office was unusual. The brand-new computer and flatscreen monitor, fax, several TVs and radios, all wired into uninterruptible power supplies, set on modern desks and staticreducing mats, were in sharp contrast to the poured-concrete walls and hazed glass in the single, small window. Woven mats covered the rest of the floor, lit at present by the four-tube fluorescent can overhead.
"Go with God, brother," he agreed, dismissing the man to his fate. He was neither bright nor highly trained, but he was dedicated to the cause and that was enough. If all he could do to help was die, bin Qasim would send him to die.
There were others like that. There were also those who didn't want to die, who had to be led to believe such plans were nonlethal. But martyrs were necessary to the cause, and it was annoying that so few of them were intelligent enough to bother with. Some were the type to accomplish great deeds, and others only served as role models. This man was just bright enough for the latter.
That done, he watched as his three assistants, the only ones allowed to be armed in his presence, escorted the future martyr out of the building. A car would take him to the airport, he'd fly a circuitous route through increasingly more respectable countries until he reached Egypt, then Germany.
Shortly thereafter, an explosion would destroy a nightclub. A place filled with sexual music and rutting, filthy women, alcohol, drugs, and best of all, American tourists and soldiers. Bin Qasim would see to it that as many of them as necessary were blown up to force them out of the Islamic lands.
Perhaps he could arrange for a day-care center next. Any American who didn't grow up was a good American. Pondering that, he looked over the office, and focused on the pliers atop the tool-box. He'd been too distracted earlier to finish. Now, perhaps.
He rose, retrieved the pliers, and said to his guards, "I shall be some time. You may leave."
They nodded and filed out, grinning in amusement, but not in front of bin Qasim, for his temper was legendary.
Bin Qasim took the pliers with him into the back room, where the British woman reporter still waited, whimpering. He'd taught her her place, in fear and suppliant to God, then Man. Now to let her show her enthusiasm for that place.
"Sergeant Monroe, right face," came the voice on the radio. Sergeant First Class Kyle Monroe did so, and waited for further instructions. He knew what they'd be: the sniper trainee was clearly visible. But he was damned sure going to be letter-of-the-regulation fair to the student who was about to fail this exercise. The observer at the end of the range had to make the call, Kyle was only a marker for him.
But this kid was as obvious as a hooker in church.
Kyle sighed, feeling old again. He had fourteen years of service, and still felt physically capable and flexible. He hadn't slowed down when he hit thirty, the way everyone said happened. Inside he felt worn, though. It wasn't the years getting to him, but the mileage. But he had all his hair and none of it gray, a taut physique and clear eyes. After tours in Bosnia and the first Gulf, Ranger and Airborne Schools as well as Sniper, and a few miscellaneous radio courses, he felt that his physical condition was still decent and quite an accomplishment. He'd feel a hell of a lot better if he could lose the guilt over that event in Bosnia, which was something everyone said wasn't his fault. It felt that way to him, though. It didn't help that he had been an instructor here at the school since then. It was mere coincidence; they needed some of the best snipers to teach others, and everyone said he was that good. But he couldn't escape the timing. It felt like a punishment, no matter how much he really did like teaching the kids.
"Three meters," he was told, then, "left face," which he did, leaving him facing the boots of Corporal Samuel Merrick, clothed in a shredded burlap ghillie suit and hidden in deep weeds.
At least he imagined he was hidden in deep weeds. "Two meters forward and tell Merrick he's a corpse," was the next radio transmission.
"You got 'im," he confirmed for Staff Sergeant Dick Rogers, who was one of the "targets" the students were trying to "shoot."
"Stand up, Merrick, you're dead," Kyle said. Merrick sighed, heaving himself up as if a pile of weeds suddenly assumed human form. "Figure out what you did wrong?" he asked.
Merrick said, "The sun came out."
The boy was exasperating. "Sun came out, my ass. Relying on the light is luck. If you rely on luck here, you'll rely on luck in combat. Dead! Get me? Dead!"
Merrick looked slightly chagrined, but Kyle was still talking. Merrick likely wasn't cut out to be a sniper. He could shoot, he could hide, he could observe, but he just couldn't coordinate them with the patience required to be a true professional. He even took it lightly, wearing a grin.
"I'm not smiling, Merrick," Kyle said yet again. "Look there!"
The kid was a bit more attentive now. He turned to look behind him, where Kyle was pointing. Predictably, he let his heavy M-24 rifle -- a highly modified Remington 700 in 7.62mm NATO -- swing across his legs as he turned ...Continues...
Excerpted from The Scope of Justice by Williamson, Michael Z. Excerpted by permission.
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