Authors: Loren Mathis
Pushed to the Edge
(SEAL Team 14 #1)
by Loren Mathis
Pushed to the Edge ©
2013 Loren Mathis
All Rights Reserved.
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This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events
or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
This novel is dedicated to my wonderful family for their
continual love and support
October 12, 2011, 0230 hours
ieutenant Junior Grade
Joshua Laurent had a bad feeling that he just couldn’t shake. It wasn’t a
feeling of fear. Joshua was a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs and his relentless
training had managed to pound the fear out of him. Instead, what he felt was a
cool apprehension. The type of sneaking feeling that made him even more aware
of his surroundings.
Tonight, he and his team were about to embark upon
the type of mission that they had completed multiple times before. However, as
he double-checked the cartridge in his M60 machine gun, he couldn’t rid himself
of his feeling of unease.
Joshua looked around the cabin of the plane and at
the seventeen men surrounding him. Each one of them was dressed in black BDUs
and had on black camouflage face paint for their mission. He had known each of
these men for at least a year—some of them he’d known for almost a decade. Hell,
these men were his family . . . his
As the highest-ranking SEAL Team Fourteen member,
he was their
leader on this assignment, a job that he took very
seriously. It was his objective to see to it that all seventeen men made it
back home to their loved ones at the end of this mission—alive, breathing, and
in one piece.
Joshua and his teammates were currently traveling
to their drop site on a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The Osprey had been a popular
military aircraft since its introduction in 2000. The Osprey was especially
popular among the Special Forces because it was equipped with a tiltrotor.
This mechanism allowed the aircraft to convert from plane functionality to helicopter
functionality. This last capacity was essential to a SEAL team’s ability to
extract itself from an operation while they were under fire.
“Do you think he’s still alive, sir?”
Joshua turned his head to his left to look at
Ensign Jack “Jax” or “Jackbird” Manners, who was enthusiastically chomping down
on an energy bar. He had managed to mumble out the question between bites. This
behavior wasn’t out of the norm. Of all of Joshua’s teammates, Jax had the
quick metabolism of a hummingbird.
If you closely observed him, at any given point in
time, you were bound to find crumbs somewhere on his clothes. Jax was on the
tall side at 6’3,” but he should have weighed at least 300 pounds considering
all the food that he put away on a daily basis.
The young SEAL also had a deceptively laid-back persona
about him. He usually had a smile on his face, but when he got pissed off,
everyone knew to steer clear until he cooled down. Having been born and raised
in small coastal town in VA, he lived on the beach when he wasn’t on active
Despite Jax’s surfer boy appearance, he was
incredibly smart, and the Navy had snagged him right after his graduation from
Virginia Tech. Unlike most the Team Fourteen members, who had majored in some
type of liberal arts degree, Jax had majored in electrical engineering. That unique
skill-set had made him an incredibly useful asset during many of their past
“Hard to say at this point,” Joshua replied dryly,
“the good news is that he hasn’t been held by them for a very long time.”
After news came in over the wire that an extremist
group had kidnapped a former U.S. Congressman, Richard Henning, Joshua and his
fellow team members had been pulled from their special training assignment in
the Philippines. Joshua and some of the other members of SEAL Team Fourteen
had been selected to perform the hostage rescue operation.
Team Fourteen was an elite group within the U.S.
Navy SEALs that specialized in high stakes hostage rescue, counter-drug
operations, and counterterrorism. Team Fourteen had performed dozens of rescue
operations in the past, but none involving such a high profile U.S. citizen.
The Haqqai network had quickly taken
responsibility for the kidnapping. The group had taken Henning, a former
seven-term Congressman from Texas, during his “goodwill” tour of the Middle
East and Southeast Asia. The group abducted Henning after ambushing his motorcade
that was en route to a meeting with a key Pakistani official.
Ironically, the meeting had been slated to discuss
the continuing problem of extremist Islamic groups that maintained strongholds
in North and South Waziristan, despite foreign diplomatic intervention. North
Waziristan was a district in a very mountainous tribal region of northern
Pakistan. South Waziristan was one of seven districts in southern Pakistan.
Twelve people had been killed in the brazen
daytime attack, which had been carried out by two simultaneous missile
strikes. The missile strikes had targeted the first and last cars in Henning’s
motorcade. The attack ended with an assault rifle blitz that had killed the
four remaining passengers in the vehicle that contained the former Congressman.
The U.S. State Department, Pentagon, and the CIA had been quickly notified of
the attack. All of the departments had made the concentrated effort to avoid
leaking the events to national media outlets for the time being.
Before releasing the abduction information to the
news, U.S. officials preferred to come up with the answers for the
questions surrounding the attack. Although government
officials were aware of the name of the group that had copped to the
kidnapping, they still knew very little about the group’s individual members.
From the information that intelligence agents had
gathered, the Haqqai network was relatively unknown in the region. As far as
Joshua knew, it hadn’t even been on the CIA’s radar screen as a potential
threat to the United States. Within hours of the incident, U.S. government
officials had received an official ransom demand of ten million
dollars—apparently the going rate for a former U.S. Congressman these days.
However, it was unlikely that the terrorist group would release Henning, even if
his family paid the ransom. Executing a senior U.S. official would be a bigger
statement for a new terrorist group that was trying to prove its toughness in
CIA operatives located in North Waziristan had
supplied the United States Special Operations Command with reliable intelligence
information that Henning had been relocated from Miranshah to the neighboring
town of Karak. Karak was located only a hundred miles from Peshawar and it was
a more ethnically diverse seat of Pakistan that had been known as one of the
more peaceful areas in the region until recent months.
During the past few weeks, at least one extremist
cell had started to infiltrate the region.
According to this same operative, a HVT
(high-value target) was being held in a heavily guarded rural compound. Even
though the United States refused to negotiate with terrorists, a covert raid by
SEAL Team Fourteen was a viable course of action. After all, Uncle Sam was not
just going to twiddle his thumbs and sit idly by, hoping that the bad guys
would realize the error of their ways.
Their current plan was to deplane (otherwise known
as parachuting down) about one and half miles from the compound. The eighteen
members of the strike team would then travel the rest of the way to the
compound on foot.
Based upon intel they’d received, the compound was
being guarded by at least twenty tangos, also known as enemy combatants, at any
given time. Satellite photos of the compound showed that there were four feasible
points of ingress and egress to the main portion of the building where they
believed that the terrorists were holding Henning captive.
“Hey Pope, look alive.”
Joshua shifted in his seat on the plane and glanced
at his fellow comrade, Will Castle, who sat across from him in the pitch-black
cabin. Joshua’s team members had given him nickname “Pope” because of his
ardent Catholic upbringing. The nickname was something of a misnomer now. Joshua
hadn’t been to church in years.
Will was one of Joshua’s best friends. His other
best friend, Malcolm Clarke, was also a member of SEAL Team Fourteen. Joshua
and Malcolm had decided to try out for the SEALs teams together after becoming
friends at the Naval Base at Coronado in California. They had both made it
through the rigorous six-month BUD/s training course and helped each other to
resist “ringing the bell” during Hell Week. Once Will joined Team Fourteen two
years later, all three had become fast friends and they were now as thick as
“What man?” Joshua asked, pulling himself away
from his thoughts. In reply, Will raised his right index finger toward the
back of the plane as the rear hatch began to open. It was as they say, “Go
Maybe his “Spidey sense” was off. Despite his
earlier sense of unease, Joshua and his fellow team members had successfully
picked up Richard Henning who was, more or less, in one piece.
After deplaning, the group had silently trekked
the distance from the drop site to the compound. The compound itself consisted
of three structures. The central building was fortunately all one level, but it
was still rather large, covering an area of roughly 2000 square feet. Two
small buildings flanked either side of the main structure, both of which were
equidistant from each other.
The surrounding buildings were approximately fifty
feet from the central structure. Relying on their night vision equipment, Joshua
and his team had been able to identify ten security guards patrolling outside
of the main building and six additional guards patrolling the surrounding
The high guard presence meant it was likely that
the terrorists were holding Henning hostage inside of one of the rooms in the
central structure. Fanning into the yard in a triangular formation, the team
had easily taken out the guards that flanked the smaller edifices.
Once inside the main structure, they had
methodically swept through all of the rooms, killing or disabling six more
guards. Henning had been found tied to a wooden chair in the back room off the
kitchen. His legs and hands had been shackled with thick metal chains. Even
in the dimly lit room, it was easy to see that both of Henning’s eyes were
swollen shut, and that he had an assortment of cuts and bruises on his face.
Duck tape and what looked like a scarf had been place over the man’s mouth,
crudely gagging him.
Now under the dire circumstances, Richard Henning looked
a lot different from the photograph the soldiers had been shown of a slightly plump,
older white male, in a nicely tailored business suit. The last thirty-six
hours had obviously taken a great toll on the man’s appearance to say the least.
Henning had been guarded by two tangos of average
height, whom Will and Josh had easily taken out upon entering the room. Henning
had been nonresponsive, but breathing. Two of the team members had carried him
out of the room and rushed him to the awaiting pickup plane.
Joshua pivoted around with his rifle in his hand, just
in time to see Jax stumble forward. Jax was gripping his right thigh. Will adroitly
transferred his Glock 37 to his right hand as he moved backwards to help Jax.
About ten feet behind Jax, a lone militant crumpled to the ground. Two nickel-sized
bullet holes were in the center of the man’s forehead. Will had double tapped him.
Joshua knew from his experience with large caliber
bullets that the back view of the man’s head was a tangled mess of broken bits
of skull, hair, and seeping brain matter. The militant was dead before he hit
Hey Lt. Laurent we have got some company,”
Ensign Luke Russo yelled, pointing to the right of the plane. Joshua saw two
black four door SUVs about 150 yards away hauling ass toward the plane.
Apparently, the terrorist whom
Will had just taken out had managed to call in the cavalry before he took two
to the dome.
. Joshua fired an almost musical
spray of bullets from his automatic rifle, covering the way for Jax and Will. Both
men were running for the pickup plane as hard as they could, considering Jax’s injury.
An alarming amount of blood spurted from the bullet hole that Jax tried to
cover with his right hand as he lurched forward.
. With that amount blood squirting out
of Jax’s thigh, it could only mean one thing: he had an arterial bleed.
Arterial bleeds were particularly dangerous because arterial wounds were not
self-clotting. This meant that the injured person could bleed out in a matter
“Move it! Hustle! Hustle!” Joshua yelled as Will
and Jax raced toward the plane that was beginning to lift off. Joshua and Luke
hung out of the door of the aircraft, laying out another covering spray of
bullets aimed at the approaching vehicles.
Joshua emptied his cartridge, reloaded, and
continued the rapid fire of the automatic assault weapon, which was locked on
the approaching vehicles.
Both Joshua and Luke took hold of Jax as Will
thrust both himself and the injured soldier inside of the plane.
“Power up! Let’s get the hell out of here,
Griffin,” Joshua shouted. He didn’t have to say it twice. U.S. Air Force
pilot, Petty Officer Second Class Reginald Griffin had already started the
plane; the propellers were whirring loudly overhead as they took off.
Up, up, up the plane catapulted into the dark
night. Lucky for them, the tangos’ cavalry hadn’t had the forethought to bring
a grenade launcher.