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Mercy and Mayhem Men of Mercy

By:Lindsay Cross

Mercy and Mayhem Men of Mercy
        Author: Lindsay Cross

       
         
       
        
1





Damn C-130s. Colonel Mack Grey wasn't a fan of flying under the best of circumstances. Riding in one of these babies was like off-roading in the sky-every air pocket would shake the entire cargo hold like hitting a gigantic pothole in the sky.

He'd rather sit his tired ass in a smooth commercial jetliner any day.

But this wasn't any day.

This was the day he would finally kill Jack Mankel, aka Mr. J.

Mack followed his team, Task Force Scorpion, all packing high-tech, top-security-clearance tactical gear, across the tarmac, the Cameroonian sun shining overhead hot enough to cook a damn egg on the cracked concrete under his boots. Secret CIA airports were all the same-in an attempt to make the tiny airport look like an unimportant shithole, they'd gone overboard to the point of nearly unusable.

Crumbling cracks spilling over with jungle weed fractured the discolored concrete, making the tarmac look more like a patchy stone field than a runway for airplanes. One giant rusted metal hangar held court at the end, pieces of tin peeled back by the latest monsoon and just enough locals working on the joint to keep it from completely falling down.

The whole place was a picture straight out of Dante's Inferno, à la military style.

This location would make a Marine cringe and was the perfect setup to scare off any innocent civilians wandering around. But Mack had circled hell already and come out alive and kicking. He was more than ready to suffer through any hazard to take down Jack Mankel.

He hefted his HALO, High Altitude Low Opening, parachute pack on his shoulders with a grunt and ascended the grated metal steps leading into the belly of the idling C-130.

Stepping into the shade resulted in an instant ten-degree drop in temperature from 130 down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sweat dripped into his eyes and he wiped a hand over his face. Damn heat.

The rest of his team already stood in the cargo hold of the plane, not faring much better. Sweat had popped on every single one of their faces.

"Colonel, you need a walker to get up those steps a little faster?" called out Riser Malone, his medical sergeant and unconventional warfare specialist.

Although mid-forties wasn't exactly old in Mack's book, wisecracks about his age were common in this line of work. A lot of colonels would get their panties up in a bunch at such disrespect and insubordination, but Mack knew his men joked around to loosen up before a mission. And he didn't need them kissing his ass to know they respected him. Which was probably why he felt comfortable enough to return fire with fire. "Pretty sure this old man was the one who pulled your ass out of that gunfight in the town square yesterday."

Even though the team had arrived in country completely incognito, Cameroon wasn't exactly a resort area. Gunfire was about as common as malaria and both were in high abundance. 

The rest of the team chuckled. Riser's blond brows dipped into a deep V and he scowled. "The guy was supposed to be selling Snickers bars."

"That boy was selling Snickers bars. It was the thug on his heels who pulled the gun on you." Mack took the three steps down into the plane's belly, the corrugated metal floors clanking under his boots as he crossed the five feet to his men. They'd set up temporary headquarters around the netted crates of cargo running down the center of the plane. Someone had already laid out a topographic map on one of the crates. Mack set his HALO backpack on the floor next to his feet.

"Told you that sweet tooth was going to get you killed." Hunter James, the massive black-haired team leader, typically wore a frown, but nobody could miss out on ribbing a teammate.

Riser crossed his arms. "Your brother was jonesing for that Snickers just as bad as me."

Ranger shrugged good-naturedly. He and Hunter weren't blood brothers, and they were a study in contrasts-Ranger's hair as blond as Hunter's was dark. Nearly the largest men on the team, they had been with Mack the longest, and he wasn't ashamed to admit he'd developed a special bond with them. It almost felt like they were his sons.

Especially since his own son couldn't give two shits about him.

"Candy bar or not, it's no excuse to lose your situational awareness. Everyone on this team needs to be operating at 100 percent if we are going to complete this mission and take Mr. J down," Mack said.

The joking air in the cargo hold vanished and every face turned to their commander.

Mack leaned in and grabbed the corners of the waist-high crate in front of him. The rest of the team circled around, pulling in tight. There wasn't a single man in this plane who hadn't been personally attacked and nearly killed by Jack Mankel, aka Mr. J. Their ex-CIA liaison had turned traitor to his country and team over two years ago now. He'd been on the run ever since. After their last encounter with the villain, Task Force Scorpion had discovered that Mr. J's treachery extended much longer and deeper than they'd realized.

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