Burmese Crossfire Chapter 2

The paperback proof is here, the Kindle pre-order is up ($0.99 until Jan 20, when it goes up to $3.99), and here is Chapter 2 to whet more appetites.


The unimaginatively-named “Road-House” lay just off the highway, about twenty miles from the nearest town.  It didn’t get a lot of traffic, except for the occasional motorist stopping in to grab something to eat, either at the gas station attached to the “Road-House” or at the restaurant and bar itself.

John Brannigan nearly filled the doorway as he stepped inside.  Six-foot-four, broad-shouldered, he retained the leanness and power of a man much younger than his nearly fifty years.  His hair was going gray, as was the thick handlebar mustache he’d grown since he’d retired—not entirely willingly—from the Marine Corps, some years before.  Deep lines surrounded his icy eyes as he swept the interior of the restaurant with a practiced, professional gaze.  This was a man who had never stepped into a room without knowing the layout, who was in it, and how to get out.

It wasn’t that he was paranoid.  It was simply a fact that twenty-three years as a Marine, both enlisted and commissioned, had hard-wired certain habits into him.  And his most recent work hadn’t served to dull those habits any, either.

Hector Chavez was waiting by the bar, sitting on a stool with one elbow on the bar and the other hand on his knee, so that he needed only turn his head to see the door.  He grinned a little as he hitched himself off the stool and stepped toward Brannigan, holding out his hand.

“Good to see you again, John.”  Chavez was getting a little heavy, his gray hair thinning.  He still moved well, for a man whose heart didn’t quite work right anymore.

Brannigan shook the other man’s hand.  Chavez’ ticker might need a pacemaker, but his grip was still strong.  “Did you let Mama Taft intimidate you last time, Hector?” he asked, with a half-smile.

Chavez chuckled.  “No, though that is certainly an intimidating woman.”  He sobered.  “I just figured that establishing a pattern of life might not be the best idea.  If we keep meeting in the same diner, with different clients, somebody might start to think that you’re working as some kind of consultant.  And then they might start wondering what kind of consulting a man like you does.”

Brannigan nodded.  The reasoning was sound.  The last job that Chavez had brought him, his first as a mercenary, had been high-risk and highly illegal.  That it had been the right thing to do wouldn’t matter if the wrong people got wind of it.

He looked around for his new client, but Chavez appeared to be alone.  Noticing the look, Chavez inclined his head toward the back of the restaurant and said, “Come on.  And John?  Try to keep an open mind, all right?” Continue reading “Burmese Crossfire Chapter 2”

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Busy, Busy

I know, I haven’t been posting here much.  Need to get on that.  Probably need to do some scheduling.

But I’ve been busy.  Very.  I’ve got another new series in the works, and it’s more than a little different from anything I’ve done before.  I’ve played around with military action adventure, horror/fantasy, and heroic fantasy (though y’all haven’t seen that much of that yet).  But this is going to be science fiction.

Now, the funny part is that I originally started tinkering with writing, back in high school, with science fiction.  I still have notebooks (somewhere) of notes, starmaps, and starship diagrams from those days.  I had an entire sweeping timeline of wars between alien empires and human-alien alliances.  It was, to borrow a turn of phrase from Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, WingCommanderNotWingCommander with a leavening of StarWarsNotStarWars.  In fact, Task Force Desperate started out as a mil-fic backstory leading into the “21st Century Chaos” that was part of the backstory of what that epic evolved into.  (It isn’t anymore; the Praetorian Series became very much its own thing.)

What I’m working on now isn’t that particular epic.  It’s much more “The Clone Wars meets The Horus Heresy with a leavening of Hammer’s Slammers and Lensmen.”  It’s proving a bit more difficult than Brannigan’s Blackhearts; I’ve got to figure out more on the fly–there’s less that I can simply draw on from either quick research or personal experience.  Still, it’s coming along, and the wider series is getting quite a bit of an arc (several arcs, actually).  I’m pretty stoked about it, though it won’t be out for a few months (I’m planning on stacking the first several books before releasing the first, and I’ve got more Brannigan’s Blackhearts to write in between).  There will be a website for the series, with background notes, some free fiction, and even concept drawings and suchlike.  It’s not ready to go yet, but I’ll be spreading it around once it is.

The other thing about this series, since I’m genre-jumping, is that it won’t be released under my usual name.  David J. West, with his “James Alderdice” pseudonym has had some success in getting to an audience that he wouldn’t have otherwise.  Pen names are a long-standing tradition in pulp fiction (which, let’s face it, is what I write, regardless), and the way Amazon’s algorithm works, they are a useful tool.  In the interests of that algorithm, I won’t say what the pen name is going to be just yet, but I will eventually.

Back to the word mines.

“Burmese Crossfire” Chapter 1

Roi Tri Somboon Sirpreecha was nervous.

It had been a whole fifteen days since he had reported to his post as the youngest, least-experienced platoon commander in the Thanan Phran, the Thai Rangers.  It hadn’t been an easy fifteen days, either.  While the Royal Thai Army provided the Thanan Phran with its officer and NCO corps, many of the men had their own ideas about discipline and responsibility.  He’d long heard that many of the Rangers had been criminals, pardoned of their crimes for joining up, but he hadn’t realized just how shadowy the interior workings of the Thanan Phran could be until he’d caught one of his more experienced and respected Rangers brazenly stealing from one of the villagers when they’d passed through Ban Pha Hi on patrol.

When he’d confronted the man, he’d found himself half-surrounded by suddenly surly Rangers, all with weapons close at hand.  He’d held his ground, backed up by Sip Ek Klahan Phonarthit, and the Rangers had slowly backed down.  The culprit, Kamun Amsir, had finally handed the stolen food back to the bent old woman, giving the Roi Tri a smile that promised that he would learn how the Thanan Phran worked, or he wouldn’t be around for long.

Now he was chivvying his platoon into trucks to head for the same village, based on reports from the Border Patrol Police that the sensors they had emplaced along the border, with the Americans’ help, had picked up a sizeable group moving toward the border, through the jungle.  They weren’t going to the border crossing in Wiang Phang Kham, either.  Which meant they were probably drug smugglers.

The United Wa State Army had been running ya ba, methamphetamine pills, into Thailand for years, along with the heroin that the Golden Triangle was world-renowned for.  A good part of why the Thanan Phran was on the border was to intercept the UWSA drug shipments.

Of course, Somboon was increasingly aware that some of his Thanan Phran were probably complicit in the same trade.  It had been a problem for some time, and had led to some tensions between the Rangers and the BPP.  He had his eyes on Kamun.  The man seemed like the type. Continue reading ““Burmese Crossfire” Chapter 1″