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The Mercenaries: Blood Diamonds
By P. Storm
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 P. Storm
All right reserved.
"The Dog Pound"
Cebu, the Philippines
1750 Hours Local Time
"Hey, Dan? You know who called me this morning?" Mad Dog asked as he ambled into the guesthouse and crossed to the living room.
Gunnery Sergeant Daniel M. Forrest III, USMC, retired, leaned back in his recliner. "Hold on a minute. I'm in the middle of something."
Old "Diaper Dan" was checking his blood sugar, squinting at the device's little readout until he remembered to put on his bifocals. While he could no longer control his bowels and was dying slowly from complications related to diabetes (he'd already lost a few toes), he was as lucid as ever. He had spent seventy-five glorious years trouncing around the planet, having fought in Cambodia, 'Nam, Bosnia, and even the first Gulf War, serving as an advisor. He was a hard man who would go out with a tremendous fight.
When Mad Dog was thirteen, his father had passed away from cancer, and Dan, a next-door neighbor who was in the Marines, had taken Mad Dog under his wing, inspired him, served as a father and role model.
What was more, Dan was the marine who had taught Mad Dog everything he knew, a tactical genius who, unfortunately, had been left all alone in the world. His wife had already passed on, they'd had no kids, and he had a sister who had died six years prior in a caraccident.
And so, as Dan had begun the final chapter of his life, Mad Dog had taken in the old solider, promised him that he would live on the estate (aka the Dog Pound) until God called him home. Two pretty nurses, brown-skinned locals who rotated throughout the week, cared for him. Each morning when one came, he showed her his bottle of Viagra and was willing to show her more. Though wizened, he still had a thick shock of white hair and an amazing gleam in his blue eyes.
The old coot had actually sweet-talked one nurse into bed by promising her a rich woman's life, and Mad Dog had walked in on them bumping uglies. He had been forced to fire the girl--and she was a girl, just twenty--and warn Dan against taking any more pills and taking advantage of the help.
Dan had been furious, said he was leaving, but had changed his mind an hour later.
The truth was, Mad Dog didn't keep Dan around because he felt bad for the guy (although that was true) or because he felt responsible for the man (that was also true). Dan was one sharp motherfucker. Whenever a job was on the table, Mad Dog always took it to Dan. More often than not Dan would come up with tactical solutions to really complex logistical problems. The old guy knew his shit. Period.
So as he waited, Mad Dog took a moment to reflect. His dream to have the International Philippine Group Bank's interests expand into military and security operations had come to pass. He had taken on several side operations, serving as a military trainer in South America and the Philippines in order to sustain IPG's cash flow during the early years after 9/11.
IPG's success facilitated the founding of the Olongapo Procurement Center. OPC served (on a commission basis) as a Philippine Army Contractor (PAC), an advisor, and a procurer of military armaments for the Philippine Army via the international marketplace.
Tagalog Aviation was founded and became a wholly owned subsidiary of IPG. TA had a fleet of five planes providing charter and freight ser¬vices. TA charter offered vacation packages with four-star accommodations at IPG-owned hotels in a dozen key cities throughout the world.
Mad Dog tacked on freight costs in addition to commissions for ser¬vices rendered to the Philippine Army. IPG allowed Mad Dog to electronically transfer large sums of money anywhere in the world. OPC provided him with the necessary arms licenses and contacts to procure state-of-the-art hardware. TA gave him the mobility he needed to show up at anyone's doorstep, locked and loaded.
Old Dan finished checking his blood sugar. "Now what were you saying?"
"Jack Palansky. You remember him?"
"Palansky. Oh, I remember that asshole. Big Polack. Kinda dumb looking face. Little pudgy. Stupid laugh he had. Good rifleman, though, I remember."
"Yeah, well he's working for an Australian company called Morstarr. They're mining diamonds in Angola. He was hired by the CEO, a guy named Kidman, and went there to train their security force. Typical merc job, but then they asked him to stay on as head. Gave him a really fat bonus." Mad Dog crossed over to the sofa, plopped down, and scratched his head. He had maintained his high-and-tight crew cut, though it was mostly gray now. The gold skull earring betrayed his departure from the ser¬vice. "So, anyway, Jack's got a problem there. Someone stole about three to four ounces of diamonds. Stuff's worth approximately twenty-five million, that is, after expenses to cut and polish."
"And Palansky's in charge of security there? Shit, he's a Polack, all right."
Mad Dog sighed in frustration. "Listen, Morstarr needs us because the thieves are well armed and the terrain is dangerous. Jack doesn't trust all of his ¬people, and he trusts the local police and military even less."
"They'll pay an even two mil to recover--plus Jack says he'll pick up our travel expenses and bribes, but that's it. Bottom line: no diamonds, no money."
"Fuck that. You want the usual five hundred Gs just to go there and take a look around--because those rocks are long gone."
Mad Dog shook his head. "Jack thinks they're still in Angola. For some reason, the thieves are laying low."
"Angola . . . now there's a fun place. Decades of civil war, thugs running wild, fighting over diamonds. Poverty, disease, shit. You want to go there on a goose chase?"
Excerpted from The Mercenaries: Blood Diamonds by P. Storm Copyright © 2006 by P. Storm. Excerpted by permission.
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