With: Desiree Holt
Leaving the SEALs was painful for Commander Max DiSalvo and he curse the tango’s bullet that had ruined his shoulder. But when former SEAL Silas Branson tracks him down in Maine to tell him Bone Frog Command, the super-secret division of Homeland Security made up entirely of SEALs, needs him to save the country, he’ right there. Working with gorgeous analyst Harper Shaw only sweetens the pot, if they can just survive and end up together.
Max was still looking at the photo. “So, what is it you want from me?”
“How would you like to go to a very private, very small meeting with people who want to take over this country?”
Max was sure his jaw dropped down far enough to hit the table.
“Are you shitting me?”
Si shook his head. “Not even a little. Look. I head up a unit of the DHS that’s so secret no one ever mentions it. We deal with the threats to national security that are so heavy, one misstep and the country goes to hell. We have a dangerous situation evolving here, Max, and I need you. Your country needs you. It’s not done with you yet. If you’re up for it, we need to go someplace more private to talk.” He paused. “And then if you’re in, we need to head to the D.C. area.”
It took Max all of three seconds to make up his mind. He jogged over to the bar, slapped some bills on it then motioned to Si to head out the door with him.
“Where’s your car?” he asked. When Si pointed, Max said, “Follow me.”
Fifteen minutes later they were in Max’s living room, Max sitting and Si pacing.
“First of all,” Si began, “I have this super-secret group within the DHS. It was my idea and the director supports it. A small number of retired SEAL officers who can lead a group of multi-agency operatives when needed on missions no one else can know about.”
“And what’s this group of yours called?”
Si grinned. “The Bone Frog Command.”
Max chuckled. “I couldn’t have picked a better one.”
Every SEAL knew that in the Vietnam era Navy SEALs were known as frogmen. In the early 2000’s a new image for the SEAL Teams began to emerge, a skeleton of a frog that paid homage to those earlier generations of SEALs. It became the inspiration for tattoos on many SEAL Team warriors. Max had one as did several of his SEAL friends.
“So,” he prodded, “what is it you want from me?”
“I want you to go to this meeting where there’s a good chance someone will try to kill you, get all the information you can, and get out with your skin intact so we can destroy this before it gets off the ground. And lock these people away.”
“That’s all?” Max burst out laughing. “You make it sound so appealing.” Then he looked at Si’s face and all laughter went away. “You’re serious. Okay. Let’s have it. What’s this all about?”
Si cleared his throat. “There is a group—a cabal—of five couples who live in some of the western states. They control enormous wealth and have vast, silent, almost invisible reaches of power. They think they are untouchable gods who can do anything they want.”
“And what is it they want?”
“More power. All the power. Like I said earlier, their goal is to gain full control of the United States. To get rid of the government as we know it and have every bit of power in their hands, with their own puppet at the head so they can pull the strings.”
Max whistled. “Holy shit.”
“Yeah. No kidding. There’s some kickers here.” He ticked them off on his fingers. “One. They want to get rid of everyone in key positions of power and replace them with their own people. Two. They’ve been in bed with one of the most powerful cartels for some time. The Rojas cartel. One of them had the original connection and was providing a safe passage the cartel could use to bring drugs into this country. Apparently along the way the cartel added terrorists looking for new, fertile territory to rebuild their power. Now these people are working with that cartel to smuggle some of the worst, most high value extremists over the border into this country.”
Max could feel the color draining from his face. “God. For what purpose?”
“Like I said, they have delusions of grandeur and want to take over this country. The chatter we’ve captured indicates their first step is a massive terror strike to dismantle the government. The unholy thought at Bone Frog is that the cabal has made a deal with these terrorists to be group leaders, with small armies made up of low-level terrorists and cartel soldiers.”
For a moment Max was afraid he would throw up.
“Terrorism is, as we know, a tactic. A strategy used to achieve a specific end. One effect of what they’re planning is the weakening of the American economy by forcing massive spending on security. But that’s only stage two. Others will follow as the country collapses and these maniacs take control.”
Mac dipped his head. “Go on.”
“The cabal is pandering to the desires of these animals,” Si continued, “to help create a network in this country as they’ve done as their own. Then these traitors can destroy our existing structure through fear and intimidation and take over the country. With, we assume, the cartel soldiers as backup enforcement. That gives them an open market for their drugs with. No controls.” He paused. “Think of it, Max. Their plan is to control the government, the media, the schools, the military. You name it.”
“Jesus Christ, Si.” Max could feel the blood draining from his face. He’d fought enough years in the sandbox to know what kind of governments operated when people like this were in. charge.
“No kidding. And that’s not all. One of the three top people in the government is their new chosen figurehead. Someone who already has incredible power. He—or she, I guess—is helping them with this.”
Max stared at him. “The president?”
Si shrugged. “That’s one possibility. But it’s definitely at that level. We need you to find out who that person is and so far we’re stymied.”
“You know,” Max said slowly, “this sounds like they want to take over the world where others using the same methods have failed.”
“I wouldn’t say no to that. It’s what terrifies us. And we have a very short time frame.”
“What do you mean?”
“According to the chatter we’ve picked up, the selected day for the big launch is schedule for three weeks from now.” He paused. “July Fourth.”
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