This is a story about a terrorist cell smuggling two dirty bombs into the United States from Canada. They intend on killing as many Americans as possible. The terrorists are being chased by Navy ex-SEAL John Graves and Senior Special Agent Jill Mayfield across the country following a path of death.
I hate to say it, but this could be a real situation someday soon!!
The wind pushed the ocean whitecaps into eight-foot swells. The Los Angeles-class submarine SSN 773 Cheyenne broke the surface, and pitched and rolled like a cigar in a washing machine.
The crew never liked surfacing in such weather. They were used to being far beneath the surface during conditions like these. The sub was capable of a depth of 1,475 feet. The cruising depth of the sub was four to five hundred feet. A depth the crew much preferred.
On the bridge of the sub stood Captain McClain, the Commanding Officer of the Cheyenne. Beside him was a large man in a wetsuit, his face was jet black from camouflage paint. His name was Commander John Graves, Commander of SEAL Team Four.
The crew on duty was silent. The tension level was high. Occasionally, someone would look over his shoulder at the Navy SEAL who was preparing to go ashore in a foreign land.
"Status report," Captain McClain ordered.
"All clear on radar, sir," replied Petty Officer Kowski.
"Sonar clear, sir," said another seaman.
Captain McClain turned and looked at Commander Graves for several seconds.
"Are you and your team ready, Commander?"
"As ready as we'll ever be, Captain," replied the John Graves. His stomach was in knots as he contemplated the mission.
The captain turned back to his crew. "Prepare to open main hatch!" ordered the captain. The sub was rolling so badly that everyone on board grabbed something to keep from falling.
On the bridge of the sub were eight sailors with differing responsibilities. Petty Officer Kowski stared at the surface radar screen, while another sailor was on the sonar. Another was controlling the steering, while yet another manned the descent and ascent of the vessel.
The sub's captain reassured Commander Graves. "We'll be back in 24 hours for the 60-minute window we discussed. We'll stay in the area and attempt to monitor everything that moves on the surface. If and when we see your rafts, or pick up your beacon, we'll surface and get you out of here ASAP!"
Commander Graves and his men had been flown in from the carrier group currently in the Gulf of Yemen to rendezvous with the sub. With its maximum speed being only 32 knots, it had taken another twelve hours to get to this point of departure.
"God be with you and your men," intoned Captain McClair. Commander Graves didn't respond. He just nodded in acknowledgement.
"Radars still all clear, sir! Nothing on the water or in the air," Kowski said, looking intently at the radar screens.
The captain looked at his weapons officer. "Keep the defenses up and armed for another two hours."
"Yes, sir," Ensign Hecker said. The captain then turned back to Commander Graves. "We'll stay in the area for two more hours at a shallow depth. If we see any trouble, we'll do what we can to help. My orders were quite clear, to enable you to make it to shore no matter what." He paused. "Commander, I've never heard orders received like these! To be honest, you scare me a little. I don't know what your mission is, but I wish you and your men the best of luck!"
The captain looked into the video monitor displaying the surface (the Navy had quit using periscopes years ago), then turned a dial, which enabled the screen to turn 360 degrees. Commander Graves also watched closely, and as soon as they spotted the shore, he said, "Captain, stop it there, and zoom in." The Captain focused in on the shore. It looked quiet, no buildings or any signs of life.
Graves' mind was on the upcoming mission. He knew, as did his men, that many of them might not return alive.
Commander John Graves had graduated from the Annapolis Naval Academy, and had earned his reputation in Desert Storm and Afghanistan.
He had been the Commander-in-Charge of the coordination of four SEAL teams during Operation Anaconda. He and his men had been sent three times into enemy territory on missions that they had not expected to survive, but always had. He had been wounded four times over the course of his 16 years in the SEALs, and was also awarded the Navy Cross, as well as a Bronze Star. He would have earned more medals, but he couldn't be awarded any for actions that had never officially occurred. His missions were that secret.
Graves was a large man. He stood six foot one, and weighed in at 220. He had deep blue eyes and short black hair. At the Academy, he was a champion weight-lifter, and was such a force in the boxing ring that no one ever asked for rematches.
His wife had left him nine years ago, saying she didn't want to be married to the Navy. She had decided against child support, as long as he stayed away.
John's Post traumatic Stress scared her. Often he would wake up in the middle of the night having recurring nightmares. He would see his entire team getting ambushed on some dark street in a country he didn't recognize. One-by-one they were killed and he couldn't move a muscle, he was frozen in place. He watched them all die and John was powerless to help. The last one to always be killed was always the same eighteen year old kid, who would look at John and say, "Why? Why wont you help us?" He would then fall into a pool of blood, He kept saying it-over and-over, "Why, Commander, why?"
After each one of these episodes he would snap awake covered in sweat. Immediately he was hit with a severe Anxiety attack, most of the time he never went back to bed. He just couldn't take the chance of having the dream again. He refused to see the doctors, he feared they would take his command away.
John had a daughter he hadn't seen in seven years. He suspected his wife was more worried about his meeting her new husband, whom she had married six months after the divorce was final. John had always suspected that she had been having an affair when he was deployed, and the quickie marriage confirmed it to him.
John's wife knew how violent he could be and feared for her new husband's safety. She told John if attempted to see his daughter she would make it known about his PTSD to the base doctors.
A sailor pushed some buttons on his console. "Deck hatch ready to open, sir!"
"Open hatch!" ordered Captain McClain.
A sailor climbed up the ladder and started to open the securing latches, when a wave hit the sub, and the sailor fell nine feet from the hatch to the deck. He was out cold, with blood coming out of the back of his head.
"Get him to the infirmary!" ordered Captain McClain. Two sailors rushed over and helped the injured sailor to the infirmary.
"Petty Officer Tames, open main hatch for our friends!"
Tames climbed up the ladder and finished opening the hatch. The second he pushed it open, gallons of water gushed in.
Commander Graves went to the hatchway where his men waited outside the bridge. They wore wetsuits, masks on their heads, and fins at the ready, their faces painted black as well--except Petty Officer Rodriguez, who had stripes of white and green paint as well. "We're set to go, any questions?" Commander Graves asked. Each man only nodded. They were well trained. Each man knew his job.
SEAL Team Four crawled out of the deck hatch, and pulled their gear behind them. The ocean was rough. The sub was three hundred and sixty-two-feet long, with a width of only thirty-two feet. Every time a large swell hit the boat, it would roll twenty five degrees, and almost throwing the SEALs overboard prematurely.
After lowering the inflatable rafts into the water, twelve of the SEALs jumped from the wet, pitching deck into the rough seas. Once they were in position, they pulled the CO2 cords to inflate the rafts, and then struggled to climb aboard each one.
The two remaining SEALs on the deck of the sub then threw the four large oblong waterproof bags into the water. They jumped in, and made it aboard their assigned rafts. This wasn't difficult for the team, as they'd practiced in much worse weather.
They started up the silent, powerful outboards, and made their way slowly to shore, looking back to watch the submarine drop out of sight, deep down into the ocean depths. It was eight o'clock in the evening. There was a little sunlight left. But in another half-hour, it would be pitch black with no moon. In the distance, they could make out the outline of the beach, with sand dunes beyond the breaking waves.
They opened the waterproof canvas bags containing their M-16s, grenade launchers and ammunition, along with their medical supplies and water. Onshore, several headlights lit the road by the beach. Commander Graves suspected it was a military caravan. The headlights then retreated ominously farther down the beach.
Commander Graves was in the first raft, along with Petty Officer Rodriguez, whom Commander Graves called "the ghost," and Petty Officer Putman, the explosives expert. The next raft was piloted by Ensign Wright, who was number two in command behind Commander Graves. He had Petty Officer Loop, demolition expert, and Seaman Baines, underwater demolition expert (BUD) in his raft. The third raft held Senior Chief Dewalter, Petty Officer Holgren, the team sniper, Petty Officer Pitts, weapons expert, and Petty Officer White, computer expert. The fourth raft held First Class Petty Officer Williams, demolition expert, Seaman Turner, underwater demolition expert, Petty Officer Morales, who was the team medical corpsman and Seaman Prescott, also an underwater demolition expert.
In SEAL training the first step is to become a BUD, Basic Underwater Demolition Expert. After that training was completed they would move on to further specialty training such as above ground demolition, sniper, reconnaissance, weapons expert, etc. Every SEAL had intensive training in combat. The specialties made the team a whole fighting force.
Most the team had worked and trained together for several years, although Seaman Turner and Seaman Prescott were the two newest members of the team. They had recently replaced a team member who was discharged, and another who was killed in a motorcycle accident while on leave. This was their first mission, and the excitement and fear showed on their faces.
The SEAL team sat a quarter-mile offshore, waiting for total darkness. Not a word was spoken. The ocean was so violent they had to tie the rafts together, and then continued to wait. Each man's eyes were on the deserted beach watching for any movement other than the breaking waves.