Thursday, January 14, 2016

Start with Vengeance by Orson C. Gawne

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Join Seth Grieves as he hunts a killer through the pulsing streets of New York City

Everyone uses social media nowadays, even killers. And when the Hashtag Ripper claims to have left a body in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Seth and his colleagues are swept away on an adventure of the resulting search.

However, amidst the mayhem of Hurricane Sandy, what appears to be a straight forward case of find the bad guy, will degenerate into a desperate scramble for life, freedom and the American dream.

As his friends are endangered and is own freedom is put at risk, this simple Aussie will unearth the conspiracy that has hidden in plain sight for centuries.

Can he settle the score and return power to the most powerful person on the planet?

Or will he succumb to the vice-like grip that has choked the United States for so long?


Agent White was waiting for us by the police barrier as we arrived. She shook the last drops of rain from her coat, spraying the two very serious officers standing to either side. As she persuaded them to let us through, I caught sight of Agent Collins at the rear of the SWAT van.

I’d never considered him to be capable of happiness, but as he strapped on a bulletproof vest, lovingly stroked a sub-machine gun and chambered a round, positively he beamed with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disturbed by the sight of anything in my life. And the thought of Collins with a loaded weapon, creeping around somewhere behind me in the cold, dark interior of the storage facility could only be described as bone chilling.

We pulled in and parked at the side of the road under the cool gaze of the men securing the perimeter. They looked anything but happy, having to wrangle a growing crowd of ‘Hashtag Hunters’, as they were calling themselves, in the rain. But Fiona slipped the bouncers a twenty─or flipped the cops her ID─and got us in, then directed us to the SWAT surveillance van and introduced us to the team leader.

Commander Jay Watson was only slightly shorter than myself, his buzz cut coming up to my brow. Broad muscular shoulders framed a bulging chest over what I’m sure was a solid eight pack, but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Everything from his chiseled jaw to the sculpted biceps straining against the sleeves of his shirt seemed carved out of granite. The guy was a machine. Disciplined, deliberate and completely at ease despite the building excitement. I was glad to have him in charge instead of Agent Collins, who at this very moment, was endeavoring to upgrade to heavy artillery.

Looking us over he said, “I hope you guys don’t think you’re goin’ in there, ‘cause this ain’t no playground and I ain’t no babysitter.”

By this time Agent White was getting used to me and didn’t even blink when I asked, “What about Yosemite Sam over there?” indicating Agent Collins just as he spun around, wielding an M4 assault rifle under each arm. “You really want that guy going in with you?”

“He won’t be takin’ point, so don’t you worry nothin’ ‘bout it.” Pressing a finger against his ear, “Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got a party to organize.”

He nodded and gave a gravelly response through his larynx microphone, then strode over to his team with a determined set to his shoulders. Retrieving the tools of their trade from the back of the van, the team snarled into life like a pack of wolves catching the scent of their prey on the wind.

There were the young males, making a show of their bravery with over confident banter and boisterous growls of anticipation. The Grizzled old grey hair sat carefully preparing himself, loading his Mossberg 590 shotgun for the breach. Slightly off to one side, two sets of cold determined eyes flashed through the crowd and latched onto my own, sending a shiver down my spine. And at any other time, I would have found the females of the pack quite striking and wandered over for a chat. But right now, they just scared the shit out of me.

Agent White tapped on my arm to get my attention, “Come on, we can watch everything from in here.”

She led me to the back of a generic looking truck. Perfect for surveillance I guess, as you could change the signage from baked goods to adult toys in a matter of minutes. I clambered up the metallic staircase, doing my best not to stare at Fiona’s rear end, and stumbled through the door, straight into a sci-fi movie.

Scratching my head, I stuck my head back out for a second glance to make sure I wasn’t still completely sleep deprived or just plain losing my mind. Nope, I wasn’t nuts, somehow they seemed to have made the interior larger than the exterior. I suddenly had visions of a flashing police box, but it turned out to be the multitude of screens flickering on as the SWAT team’s helmet cameras resolved into shots of each other’s faces.

A number of occupants dotted the landscape. Or rather, there were a few people in the back of the truck, and all of them were wearing headsets. They might have been chatting to themselves, or somebody on the other side of the planet, we’d never know. Anyway, judging by their tans, they rarely exposed themselves to direct sun light. Something I can relate to, as I usually spend my time playing with expensive toys in a windowless soundproof room.

Now, it’s a common misconception created by cop shows, that surveillance personnel are all nerdy, balding, and greasy little guys with buckteeth. I have personally met some stunning individuals on various stakeouts. In this case, however, the stereotype applied.

A friendly looking blondish, balding man directed, “Alright, Commander Watson, you are good to go. Proceed to unit 112─that’s unit one, one, two─when ready. Clear as you go.”

Agent White leaned on the desk and gestured toward him like a model on The Price is Right, and behind door number two was, “Greg McKinley,” she attracted his attention, “has been kind enough to make everything here available to us during the breach.”

“Howdy, call me Greg. We’re pretty relaxed around here." He smiled, giving a feeble wave followed by a round of flaccid handshakes.

I grabbed his hand, giving it a vigorous shake, “Hey there, thanks for letting us hang out while we wait.”

“It sure beats getting shot at, hehe. Let me introduce my colleagues.” He turned, “On my left is Cassie.”

Busily typing away, the petite, frizzy haired young woman glanced over her shoulder and threw a hand up, “Hey.”

I asked, “Don’t you guys use cool call signs, like Bulldog or Red Leader?”

“Nah,” she replied, “we just use an encrypted radio channel and we all know each other by name. It’s easier and faster that way.”

“And on Cassie’s left is Herman.”

The big barrel-chested guy smiled broadly from his big round face, “Call me Fridge.”

“Fridge!?” burst the unexpected cry from the door. “You killed me and camped my corpse on World of Warcraft last night. You…”

Shoving me aside, Edwards stormed to the back of the room and unleashed on Fridge, who in turn defended himself admirably, but soon resorted to abject apology. And having established that the battle wasn’t going to spill out onto the streets from their virtual world, we relaxed and returned to the mission at hand.

“So, what are you guys doing here, anyway?” asked Greg, as the team entered the building on the screen behind him.

Raising an eyebrow, I smirked, “Well, this delinquent,” motioning to Stacy, “can send text messages like no one’s business.”

Hearing a break in the argument behind me, I began turning in order to give her a wink when I received a smack in the back of my head. A moment later, the squabble continued on.

I smoothed my hair back and pointed at Eddie. “This guy…” I squinted and asked, “Who are you again?” Then I shook my head, “I don’t even know this guy.”

Eddie chuckled softly and rolled his eyes.

“As for me,” I crossed my arms and leaned back, “I just stand around looking pretty.”

Agent White flushed to Agent Pink, obviously thrilled at the way I was assimilating.

“Just messin’ around, mate.” I grinned, “The suspect seems to have impressive computer skills, so we brought Edwards there to deal with any encryption issues. And Eddie here is a profiler and handy in a tight spot.”

Greg tilted his head to the side, “And you?”

“Hey, are you trying to tell me that I’m not pretty?” I winked.

“Hah, I like this guy,” said Greg to Agent Crimson, his eyes snapping to the screens, “Hup, here we go.”

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