Bunny. A story extract from my new book Raw – a sequel to War.

Formerly a tank under Russian control, Bunny the tank was now firmly under Ukrainian control.

Fighters under the blue and yellow banner had knocked out the tank only two weeks before, and Ukrainian mechanics had restored the tank to its original specs’. Some bright spark had given the tank a name: Bunny.

Bunny was a T80 tank with an operational range of 335 km without external tanks and could travel at 80 km per hour. It had a crew of three.

It was taken out with a Javelin anti-tank missile. The Javelin was particularly effective because it contained two warheads, the first destroyed the tank’s armour and the second destroyed the chassis underneath.

Dmytro was the eldest of the tank crew and his wife and children had succeeded in travelling to Rosslare in Ireland where they had been put up by a hotel, brought back to life by a humanitarian crisis not seen since the Second World War.

The second crewman was Andriy and he was unmarried. His girlfriend was also serving in a military unit. Her name was Anna. Andriy liked being called Andy.

The third crewman wasn’t Ukrainian but had volunteered to help the country when he had witnessed what was going down. He’d served in tanks before in the British Army and he knew his way around. His name was Jones and that was what he liked being called. He didn’t say much with his mouth so they had no idea whether he was married or not.

The Russians didn’t like that the Ukrainians had captured a number of their tanks and that one of them had been nicknamed Bunny. It made them look like fools in the western media and a laughing stock around the world.

Orders came down from the top in Moscow: destroy Bunny at all costs. Drones were deployed but they couldn’t locate Bunny, a tank which kept on the move. Russian fighter jets like the MiG 29 and the SU-25 were on constant lookout but again had to report no trace of Bunny. Bunny was proving elusive.

Ground troops weren’t as keen to seek out ‘Bunny’ as troops didn’t like tangling with tanks, unless there was no other recourse.

As for Bunny itself it was constantly moving throughout Ukraine and fighting Russians wherever they were found.

As well as tank rounds the tank could fire missiles and wreaked havoc wherever it went.

It wasn’t all blood and guts though. The crew could relax at times.

And that’s how they found out about the motivation of Jones. What made him tick?

They were sitting on the tank having a cup of coffee when Dmytro looked to Jones.

“So, Harry, you served on tanks in the British Army?”

He nodded. “Sixteen years.”

Dmytro nodded. “So, why us? Why fight for Ukraine? Do you like war?”

Jones didn’t answer for a very long time and when he did he looked at his two comrades and spoke in their language. They had to strain to hear him. “My wife was Ukrainian,” he explained quietly. “She was killed with her parents and our daughter in Mariupol in the opening days of the war. Shelling.”

There was nothing more to be said.

They drained their coffee cups and climbed back into Bunny.

The fight would go on.

To the bitter end.

Updates to Die Bergtruppen

I think you’d like this story: “Die Bergtruppen.” by LiamMullen on Wattpad https://www.wattpad.com/story/178402493?utm_source=android&utm_medium=org.wordpress.android&utm_content=share_reading&wp_page=reading_part_end&wp_uname=LiamMullen&wp_originator=8gOkl6%2BxP2FCpaufvMUvG9xSOcxW6NQI3c7d15QO879RkV6YfDeIP069vER0ySHYNEBlI4ayHPj5nV2JZaSrfyImZmTxB3HW34bJta7xieBNMUgogGlk9ec9l5cObKF7

A preview and excerpt of Mano in Italian.

Mano

Capitolo 1

Aveva trascorso otto anni pericolosi lavorando sotto copertura nelle triadi cinesi fuori dal centro abitato di Honolulu, e quando ebbe finito il suo incarico, il suo testimone, in tribunale, mise dietro alle sbarre della prigione di Oahu State duecento gangster, mandò in pezzi cinque triadi che trafficavano con qualsiasi cosa, dalle persone agli stupefacenti. Ora era un uomo condannato, con una grossa taglia sulla testa.

Questo preoccupava talmente tanto la sua scorta che lo seguiva ovunque andasse. Anche Mano non prese alla leggera questa minaccia. Non dovrebbe essere tollerata alcuna intimidazione al vicecapo del dipartimento; per questo due ufficiali lo accompagnavano ovunque andasse. Essi facevano parte di una squadra di protezione speciale ed erano stati selezionati dal maggiore Sean O’Malley, un enorme irlandese scarno che, un tempo, anch’egli fece parte della squadra di sicurezza del Presidente degli Stati Uniti nei servizi segreti e quindi sapeva bene di cosa si trattasse.

Il maggiore era di un grado superiore al capitano e lo usava ampiamente all’interno del dipartimento di polizia di Honolulu. Inviava i suoi ragazzi a continui corsi di formazione, mostrando loro spesso scenari di vita reale come l’assassinio di John F. Kennedy oppure l’episodio dello svitato che aveva sparato a Ronald Reagan, e non si atteggiava come una celebrità in questi mesi nel dare questa esperienza di vita reale. Essi ritornavano spesso rinvigoriti e con una rinnovata consapevolezza delle molteplici situazioni. Sapevano come monitorare una folla, e riconoscere i segni distintivi di un solitario. L’uomo che all’interno di una folla non ride, l’uomo che indossa dei guanti in una giornata calda, la donna con uno zaino insolito, o un centinaio di altri segnali diversi previsti prima che una crudeltà sia messa in pratica. La squadra di protezione di Mano certamente sapeva cosa cercare, e più di tutto valutavano le intere comunicazioni, il buon lavoro di squadra, la forte consapevolezza guidata dall’intelligenza, e dalla loro glock 17.

Mano sapeva di essere in buone mani.

Risultava strano come fosse riuscito ad infiltrarsi nelle triadi, ovviamente era una cosa sospetta per gli agenti esterni, in quanto non era nato in Cina, e infatti non sembrava più cinese dell’incaricato alla Casa Bianca. Era ciò che i nativi hawaiani chiamavano howlie, un gran pezzo di uomo, con una faccia squadrata tipicamente americana. Uno sguardo tetro con un mento marcato. Occhi color mare. Richiamava un po’ un gangster, cosa che non lo scoraggiava, anzi gli dava una scusante per il suo lavoro. Non si tirava indietro se doveva indossare una felpa con cappuccio oppure abbigliamento da strada per mescolarsi in modo naturale. Era un uomo abituato a vivere nell’ombra.

Data la sua discendenza, il governatore gli aveva dato carta bianca nell’affidargli l’incarico. Aveva formato un’ottima squadra di poliziotti, il fior fiore del dipartimento di polizia di Honolulu, per aiutarlo nello straordinario compito. Sulla scia del 911, il governatore aveva stabilito una speciale task force. Le sue direttive erano semplici: tenere alla larga il terrorismo dalle Hawaii.

Ma come il governatore Watts amava puntualizzare: “I tempi cambiano, così le priorità”. L’ISIS ha preso il posto di Al Qaeda come una minaccia fattibile, avendo quest’ultimo perso potere dopo la morte di Osama Bin Laden.

A short preview of Chief Mano, currently under construction.

CHIEF MANO.

CHAPTER 1.

They had broken out the champagne for Chief Kali’s retirement, and just as the pundits had predicted, Mano had stepped into the void left by the retiring chief. A year had passed since his encounter with the ISIS terrorists led by Hakim, and he had put all those troubles behind him. The new role brought fresh responsibilities and new headaches but he was up to the task. O’Malley and his team of bodyguards still shadowed him everywhere he went because he was still a marked man because of his past as an undercover.

He had spent eight dangerous years uncovering the triads that had ruled over Honolulu with fear and by the time he had emerged from his undercover role he had put over two hundred behind bars in Hawaii, but he had also become a marked man. He was answerable to the Honolulu Police Commission, the Mayor and the Governor in his new role, a role that would bring fresh challenges and headaches.

 CHAPTER 2.

It had taken him over a year to discover the circumstances of his brother Hakim’s death and to gather together a team that would avenge those deaths. It wasn’t easy discovering what had happened with Hakim because there had been a media blackout at the request of the police authorities.

Two names stood out for Mujahid. In Saudi terms his name meant warrior, and he was built like one. He was small and squat and muscular.

Nui.

And Mano.

Both men would be made to pay dearly for what they had done. And Hawaii would pay too.

Like his brother he had infiltrated his team slowly, allowing several weeks to elapse before bringing in another team member. During that time he had to contain his mounting impatience, but he used the time wisely to build up his intelligence on his targets. 

Of his two main targets, Mano would represent the bigger threat. His security was faultless because he was already a target amongst the Hawaiian underworld. Mano had a huge price on his head but those who had tried to collect in the past had failed. He was a cop who didn’t take prisoners. Those who had tried for the bounty on his head had wound up either dead or doing long stretches behind bars, often in federal prisons.

 CHAPTER 3.

Mano looked up from a report he was reading as a knock sounded on his office door. The report was a top secret one from the FBI and had originated with from Shin Bet – the Israeli secret intelligence people – in Tel Aviv. 

The biggest of the entrants to his office was a giant of a man who jerked his thumb towards the nameplate on the door and remarked: “Looks good, chief?”

The nameplate was a new one and simply said: Chief Mano.

Mano shot a grin towards his number two on the squad and agreed with Nui’s assessment. The squad was a special one set up by Governor Watts of Hawaii in the wake of 9 11, and it’s mandate was very simple: Keep terrorism out of Hawaii. So far, Mano and his team had done just that and had had some success against ISIS terrorists in particular.It was still an uphill battle of course, trying to stay one step ahead of international terrorists and their deadly plans.

Nui took up one of the seats in his chief’s office. It was rumoured within the Honolulu police department that Nui had once trialed with the Rainbow Warriors. Whatever the truth of that he certainly had the build for it.

In comparison to his bulk, Pono was tiny. She was the only female member of the squad but she had to stay on top of her game because there were always other women vying within the Honolulu police department to emulate her success.

The fourth member of the squad was known in HPD as ‘The Seeker’.

The Department.

Work is progressing nicely on this new title. Read an extract here.

CHAPTER 1.

Detective Michael Casoni works with the New York Fire Department Investigators to track down a serial arsonist.

The crazy thing was that he had once wanted to work with the fire department.

He didn’t know where the fascination with fire had started. As a kid growing up in Queens, he’d played with matches. It had started with a craze, collecting matchboxes of all shapes and sizes. He particularly liked Irish ones, as the boxes were sturdy and held real wooden matches as opposed to the flimsy paper ones with its equally flimsy wrapping. He liked the sulphuric smell of the match that he struck and the way the flame kept burning until it hit the tips of his fingers.

In later life he had gravitated towards a career in the Fire Department of New York, but he had been rejected.  He remembered a time when on vacation in Maine he had started a forest fire on a hill and he had then driven a few miles away to watch the effects. It had been spectacular, the night sky lit up by a crazy red and orange colour that illuminated the light.

He watched in fascination as the building in front of him took hold, the flames spreading upward from the cellar where he had ignited the gas. His eyes were ablaze with a hungry look as though the flames were feeding a habit. He continued to watch as the ladder companies began arriving and busied themselves with hoses, fire hydrants, and other types of paraphernalia used to combat fire.

He smiled.

He’d have felt less smug had he known he was about to initiate one of the heaviest investigations yet into his nefarious activities.

A victim lay smouldering in the ruins. A young woman with heavy political connections. The Mayor’s daughter.

* * *

Heat could be generated in lots of ways besides fire, and both the NYPD and the NYFD felt that heat that didn’t just trickle, it flowed like an overripe lava bed dripping with molten fire, from the Mayor’s office as soon as confirmation of the dead girl’s identity was made and notified to the present incumbent of the office.

The Mayor of New York had his own protective detail and it had fallen to the shoulders of Lieutenant John Bryson to tell the man that his only daughter had perished in a fire downtown. The Mayor had heard him out in stony silence before dismissing him and reaching out to the police commissioner. The top man. The buck stopped with him.

The Mayor of New York was a powerful, political force and ruled the roost when it came to matters pertaining to the police and fire departments of the city. The Police Commissioner was summoned and was subjected to a grilling by the Mayor.

The Mayor cut to the chase without preambles. His name was Mansfield.  “My daughter is dead. I don’t want to hear anything about inter-departmental rivalries or ‘red menace’ on this one Commissioner. I want your best people working with the fire department to solve this case. Clear?”

The Commissioner coughed, as though a wisp of smoke had caught at the back of his throat. “If I may extend my condolences, sir,” he said.

The Mayor’s voice was cold. “Condolences accepted, Commissioner, but mark my words. I want your best people on this one.”

“Sir,” the Commissioner acknowledged.