The exfil was more like an all expenses paid vacation. Liquid Sky quickly forgot that they were still on a mission, relaxing on the pump boats that ferried them south. All of their kit had been sunk to the bottom of the ocean the moment the opportunity presented itself. Their pilot had headed for the South China Sea, where he could hide out for a while. The assault team took a separate route, using a ratline that Ramon had established prior to them arriving in the Philippines.
They were called banka boats, and were used for fishing and as water taxis between the various islands in the Philippines. The Liquid Sky mercenaries sipped on beer and worked on their tan while they were transported in a lazy, winding path that took them generally south. Unlike air travel or even vehicle traffic, maritime transportation was the least monitored, and allowed for low-visibility movements over long distances.
After a week of cruising alongside some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, they island-hopped over to Sabah in Malaysia, where their pilot met them on an airfield in his Twin Otter. From there, they flew back to Darwin, Australia.
Back at the staging site, Bill ordered his two non-performers to tear apart the mock-up of the objective. Rick for failing in the simulator and Paul for failing to make it to the target during the mission. They grudgingly went about their task. The others prepared for an epic beer blast. The pilot and the technician who ran the simulator for them were both invited.
That night all the wood from the mockup was piled up and set ablaze.
The technician was coerced into drinking a bottle of vodka. Zach was less successful in coercing Nadeesha to give the tech a lap dance but eventually she relented. Cheers went up as she began grinding on his crotch. The beer and liquor was flowing, and everyone was finally relaxing for the first time in weeks. The technician promptly stood up as Nadeesha was rubbing his face in her cleavage. She fell into the grass as the gentlemen stood with a big dumb smile on his face and projectile vomited a half gallon of vodka into the bonfire.
That got even more cheers than the lap dance.
Their pilot was buzzed out of his mind from smoking marijuana and could only muster a half-assed applause.
“Deckard, I need to talk to you,” Bill said as he walked up to him.
They walked off to the outer edge of the fire while the party continued. Bill snorted through his nose and spat a snot ball onto the ground. When he turned to Deckard, his face was half concealed by the dark, the flickering light of the fire lighting the other half of their faces.
“I didn’t want to talk to you about operational details until we were back to safe ground. That was some ballsy shit you did back there.”
“All of it. Sticking the landing for one. Then jumping onto a chair while sliding across the room firing on full auto. That was some Bruce Willis shit. I can’t believe you pulled it off.”
“We ran out of options, that’s all.”
“The only reason why I left you on that rooftop was to make sure you could survive when you were really in a tight spot.”
“I didn’t know the girl’s parachute was going to get shot the fuck up, obviously. Again, pretty ballsy getting her off the roof like that. I’m shocked that you two are alive, or at least not rocking a full-body cast.”
“I’m hard to kill.”
Bill held out his hand. Deckard took it.
“Welcome to the team.”
“250,000 dollars will be deposited in a Mauritius bank account for you. Payment for the three ops you’ve done for us. Don’t let me see you sober again tonight.”
With that, Bill walked off to find another beer.
Deckard stood by the fire, his eyes getting lost in it for a moment.
“Don’t let it go to your head, Deckard.”
He turned and to no surprise, he found Rick lecturing him. He was obviously half in the bag, already shaky on his feet and slurring some of his words.
“Your amazing one combat operation with us. That other bullshit doesn’t even count.”
“Yeah, whatever man. That’s all you got? I know you, Deckard. I’ve seen your type and you are not prepared to go all the way.”
“Obviously you missed my crash landing. Two jumpers, one chute, C4 burning down on the way out.”
“You don’t have the balls to do everything that is necessary. My old unit has been fighting this war for a long time. That’s why all the SEALs on this team know how it is done. We know how to show those savages who is the alpha dog. Killing is the only language that makes sense to them. That’s why we take scalps. It’s about sending a message.”
“I thought it was a hobby.”
“Its about establishing street cred. Simple as that. We don’t believe in target discrimination. If you’re brown, you’re down. We go over the high walls, we blast down the doors, everyone inside dies. Period.”
“Everyone. We cleared out entire compounds in Afghanistan on the reg. Standard Operating Procedure. Men, women, and children. They’re all terrorists. We start clearing rooms, and we really clear fucking rooms. The kids make for smaller targets. Its funny, because they don’t understand that they’ve been shot. Just like a dog or something, they will try to get back up so you have to shoot them again.”
“They’re all going to grow up to be terrorists, huh?” Deckard remarked, trying to see how much more Rick would divulge. He was drunk, angry, and suffering from small-dick syndrome after their last mission.
“Americans don’t want to know what we do, they just want us to do it,” Rick informed him. “We get shit done. Cleanse the earth of these savages. Dump the kids and there are no future terrorists. Tell the entire family to go back inside; everything will be fine. Then, drop a five-hundred pounder on their fucking heads. Babies too. You know why?”
“Because fuck you, that’s why.”
“You’ve still got a lot to learn in this outfit, and I still don’t think you have what it takes.”
Rick stumbled off, tiring of not getting the responses he wanted out of Deckard.
Fucking Nazis, Deckard thought to himself. How the hell did this happen?
Special Operations soldiers were not choir boys by any stretch of the imagination, but these ex-SEAL Team Six guys were completely out of control. Deckard knew that something like this didn’t just happen overnight. It had to be a long-standing cultural issue within the unit, a pervasive attitude that allowed these war crimes to occur.
Deckard looked back into the fire, remembering Bill’s words.
Welcome to the team.