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Peering Skyward: Looking Up from the Bottom of the Research Rabbit Hole by T. R. Hendricks

The InfiltratorT. R. Hendricks’s Derek Harrington returns in The Infiltrator, an adventure of man vs wild—and the domestic terrorists hidden there.

One year after the clash with his former students in upstate New York, retired Marine Warrant Officer and SERE instructor Derek Harrington is the tip of the FBI’s spear in their mission to eradicate the domestic terrorist group known as Autumn’s Tithe. After several successful operations, intelligence points to one final camp in the remote Kentucky wilderness, and Derek prepares to take down Autumn’s Tithe for good.

At the same time ex-FBI Special Agent Hannah Kittle, or Sarah as she is known to the group, devises a plan to meet Derek and her one-time Bureau colleagues head on. Yet her benefactor’s faith in Sarah’s ability to lead Autumn’s Tithe is waning, and other plans are being enacted. Knowing full well what it means for her should those plans succeed where she has failed, Sarah will stop at nothing to see that she is the victor.

As the competing agendas unravel, events place Derek and Sarah on a collision course, setting the stage for a confrontation that will bring Autumn’s Tithe right to Derek’s doorstep.

Read below to see T. R. Hendricks’s take on what it means to do in-depth research for the sake of writing, and how falling down ‘the research rabbit hole’ is paramount in developing precise details that’ll help build an excellent story!


By T. R. Hendricks:

Chances are that if you’re on this website right now, you’re just as familiar with the jokes and memes about writers and their research as I am. The ever classic, “If the FBI ever saw my search history,” elicits no small number of chuckles, but it also rings true with dogged perseverance. Yes, we all go down the rabbit hole at times, but in this context it is done so in the pursuit of those elusive details. The ones we know that once discovered will add an extra layer of authenticity – even credibility for having done the work – in turn elevating our manuscripts to the next level.

In the, “this will surprise no one category” there was no small amount of research into prominent components such as survival skills, military equipment and weaponry, and even the psychology of cults when writing both THE INSTRUCTOR and THE INFILTRATOR. But the devil is in the details, and those details at times required lengthy stretches searching for them. I can recall specifically with THE INSTRUCTOR (we’ll keep it here to avoid sequel spoilers) numerous ventures into the undiscovered country that is the world wide web.

There was one iteration researching the Yankees schedule in early summer of 2018 that resulted in a blowout win. In a podcast I recently did, I explained how I had to spend an hour searching for the USMC regulation articulating the number of folds and measurements of each for the sheet and blanket on recruit racks (beds) just to be certain my Army upbringing didn’t skew that point. “How long to bleed out from a puncture wound of the femoral artery” I’m sure made a great addition to my NSA watch list tally, especially since I made one of those memes I mentioned earlier out of it.

The physics of beaver dams. Velocity of a ball bearing fired from a slingshot. Man traps utilized by the Viet Cong. The physiology of envenomation by bamboo vipers and timber rattlers on the human body. Fun times.

I’m of the opinion that this research, even if delving into hours-long rabbit hole sessions, not only counts as writing, but is indicative of talent that manages to blend them into the story so that they are seamless rather than just window dressing. It may be that the research is limited in its application. For a recent project I’m working on, I spent two weeks getting the details down for a single chapter. Other times the research may result in only a paragraph, even a sentence. Sometimes you’ll never use them at all, because the idea that spawned the search didn’t materialize in the story. Other times you’ll nail it, and then have to kill that precious research bunny darling in the editing phase.

My point being, the rabbit holes are a necessary process (provided you stay on topic and don’t miss deadlines because of it – looking at you, TikTok.) The time put into research early on will manifest into productivity later because you know exactly what you want to say with the details to back it up. Moreover, that single chapter/paragraph/sentence could mean all the difference between readers saying, “this author gets it” and “this author hasn’t the first clue what they’re talking about.” Yikes. I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re all trying our damnedest to avoid the preposterous-induced eye roll.

All that said, I thought it might be a fun take to show you how I arrived at the bottom of a particularly long hare hollow. This journey relates to both preliminary overall plot construction and specific scene orchestration elements for the yet-to-be-title-revealed third installment in the Derek Harrington series. Reader beware: beyond this point is a front row seat to how my mind chains stuff together.

No shit, there I was (obligatory Army vernacular to start the story) sitting down to an afternoon free of obligations, save for the blank page on my screen and the keys beneath my fingers. First I needed a remote location to set the scene, but not too remote. There needed to be an airport nearby and a town large enough to accommodate the presence of a VA hospital or clinic. I settled on a place in Michigan, which then led to the next need, a Mom and Pop coffee shop in said town, complete with their menu and specialty caffeinated concoctions.

To work another angle, I drifted into U.S. Government Accountability Office reports and a congressional mandated assessment on the current state of Veterans Affairs infrastructure (stimulating reading, by the way). For a conversation in the upcoming scene, I needed to search for terminology denoting the study of the way in which certain body movements and gestures serve as a form of nonverbal communication (it’s kinesics). Obligatory hardware searches into the Army’s next generation rifle followed, so as to give my sentries the latest in available weaponry.

Do you know what corner of the U.S. government handles experimental web hosting? Yeah, neither did I. To facilitate the ensuing conversation resulting from the kinesics dialogue, I then went diving for that little nugget. Turns out there’s a whole organization called the Defense Information Systems Agency. Who knew?

The set up for a character introduction turned into looking up the various departments within the FBI, most notably what would be considered Internal Affairs for the Bureau. However, as I wanted this character to be a woman of Israeli-American descent, I then ventured into dual citizenship requirements between the two countries, which chained into female combat positions within the IDF, which prompted a prolonged search for a PDF copy of a Krav Maga combatives manual, and ultimately landed me in a search for the top ten most beautiful Israeli women in the world to model my character’s appearance after (I can assure you that any lingering on this last search parameter was purely for character development).

To make a comparison to turbulence, I wanted to reference a mechanical bull. My next search was, “Average mechanical bull ride times for beginners.” However, to accurately place the bull in Derek’s backstory, I had to spend the next few minutes venturing into the location of the USMC’s School of Infantry. After finding it was Camp Lejeune, I had to then research what the School of Infantry’s weekend liberty policy was, to see if it was even feasible that a young boot Derek would be allowed to venture into a bar in nearby Jacksonville, North Carolina to witness and/or participate in a mechanical bull ride.

Since I had now introduced turbulence during a flight – a flight involving a prisoner transfer – further down the tunnel I went. Stick with me here. I started with the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System utilized by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This turned into research on the aircraft assets available internally to the Department of Justice, which subsequently led back to another GAO report on the misappropriation of DOJ aircraft (again, riveting stuff).

Thus ruling out the government’s air transportation, I turned to researching the types, range, passenger capacity, and cost of chartered private jets. These planes had to then be cross-referenced with the size of the airport in the town I picked in Michigan, plus the nautical miles necessary to travel to New Jersey, to ensure that the jet I chose would both have the fuel to make the trip and capability to land on the runways in both locations.

Having arrived at the end of my three and a half hour writing session, I saw that the research rabbit hole had allowed me to produce a whopping 309 words. However, they were 309 highly detailed and accurate words that lent themselves to not only authenticity, but also critical and convincing components to the story. Do I wish I had put more down that day? Sure. Do I regret spending that much time burrowing? Not at all.

This is how I like to write. It’s the level of exactness I want to get to. Sure, some details could be fictionalized. I could easily extend the runway in my Michigan town if I needed to. Things like that fall in the reasonable suspension of disbelief all the time, and I make allowances for them when necessary. But for the others, the ones that shouldn’t be glossed over, this is the pursuit that in my humble opinion, takes a story from good to great.

So yeah, stop worrying about time spent searching. Go ahead and follow the rabbit to that elusive tidbit. This session might have only been 309 words, but having done the work, future sessions would be in the thousands. If it’s your style, look for those details until it makes your writing pop and your heart content. Just make sure you don’t branch off (at least not too much).

Gal Gadot is quite distracting. I get it.


Click below to pre-order your copy of The Infiltrator, available April 23rd, 2024!

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Excerpt Reveal: The Infiltrator by T. R. Hendricks

The InfiltratorT. R. Hendricks’s Derek Harrington returns in The Infiltrator, an adventure of man vs wild—and the domestic terrorists hidden there.

One year after the clash with his former students in upstate New York, retired Marine Warrant Officer and SERE instructor Derek Harrington is the tip of the FBI’s spear in their mission to eradicate the domestic terrorist group known as Autumn’s Tithe. After several successful operations, intelligence points to one final camp in the remote Kentucky wilderness, and Derek prepares to take down Autumn’s Tithe for good.

At the same time ex-FBI Special Agent Hannah Kittle, or Sarah as she is known to the group, devises a plan to meet Derek and her one-time Bureau colleagues head on. Yet her benefactor’s faith in Sarah’s ability to lead Autumn’s Tithe is waning, and other plans are being enacted. Knowing full well what it means for her should those plans succeed where she has failed, Sarah will stop at nothing to see that she is the victor.

As the competing agendas unravel, events place Derek and Sarah on a collision course, setting the stage for a confrontation that will bring Autumn’s Tithe right to Derek’s doorstep.

 The Infiltrator will be available on April 23rd, 2024. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


CHAPTER ONE

The time had come to hit the hammer against the anvil, instead of just letting them feel the fire of the forge.

It’s simple. They’re not getting the picture. Not his words but they roll around inside his head all the same. Passed down from higher-ups, the sentiment preceded the new shift in strategy. A harder approach. Time for a pounding.

Easy to say when you’re in a conference room back in D.C.

Derek Harrington, retired Marine Force Recon and wilderness survival expert, now press-ganged into service with the FBI, doesn’t have that luxury. As point man in the effort against the domestic terrorist group Autumn’s Tithe, not only does he have to watch the hammer fall, but he has to be the one to swing it.

Raising his binoculars, he scans the hilltop directly west of his position. He’s in a good spot. Slightly lower than the hill across from him but the difference in elevation is negligible. Derek can still observe everything. The West Virginia trees and foliage provide ample cover as he lies in the prone position, glassing the enemy’s camp.

A long, low saddle runs between the hills. Off to his left a twotrack dirt road winds its way from west to east through the forest floor. Just enough of a break in the canopy allows him to see along its length. For his part, Derek only has to turn his head slightly and he can observe the entirety of the path as it weaves past his hill and continues on. The perfect vantage point for viewing comings and goings as well as the compound.

Across the way he can see their silhouettes moving through the trees. The larger shadows of cabins and workshops fill in the spaces between the pines and oaks. It’s a clear morning and although the sun shines down, a mountain chill hangs in the air. Perhaps it’s the air, or perhaps it’s just him. Maybe he’s getting soft in his old age. These people are trying to commit mass murder, after all, but still. Some of those shadows across the way are no bigger than his boy back home.

The thought intrudes despite Derek’s operational disposition. Michael. His boy. His poor boy. A pang of heartache ripples through him. Will his son ever be the same after what happened? Michael seems to be a normal, happy kid so long as he can stay in his bed and play video games most of the time. Venturing out of his room, much less the house, could be a crapshoot with how he would respond. Getting him to school was difficult on the best of days and downright impossible on the worst. The only things that Michael regularly enjoys are playing baseball and fishing, no doubt reverting back to those activities for the comfort they brought to him before his kidnapping. Derek would need to keep easing him out there. Helping Michael to adjust to life outside the walls of the home.

They’re not getting the picture. Send them a message.

The directive pulls Derek back to the mission at hand. The intel developed from the logging camp in upstate New York had given the FBI enough of a lead to put him into the field eight weeks later, this time in northwestern Pennsylvania near the Allegheny National Forest. It didn’t take long for Derek to track down the second compound and call in the cavalry. The group there had received a lot of support staff from the first camp and had barely begun preparations for any sort of attack before HRT rolled them up without a shot being fired.

The subsequent interviews and plea deals divulged even more intel, which when processed and war-gamed by enough people in suits standing in rooms making themselves feel important, gave Derek his next foray. That time it was into a little no-man’s-land where the southwestern tip of Pennsylvania meets the West Virginia border.

Word from the mastermind still at large had reached this cell ahead of him, despite what the Feds would discover later as an attempt to alter their tradecraft and forgo the use of electronic communications. The people there were well on the way to staging their attack, but in their haste they overlooked other logistics. When Derek called it in and the FBI arrived, the entire camp threw themselves at the feet of their apprehenders, begging for food, clothes, and an escape from the brutality of winter.

Still, the correlation was apparent. Not only was Autumn’s Tithe growing more sophisticated, they were accelerating their operational timeline. Whereas that crazy old bastard, Marshal, had wanted each cell to carry out an attack every fall until he brought the United States government to its knees, it seemed Sarah—Hanna—was pushing the individual groups to launch against their targets as soon as possible. Maybe it was because of his interdiction that she felt the need to act quickly. Or maybe it’s because she’s a ruthless maniac bent on murder. Either way it didn’t really matter. After the third camp was neutralized, the Feds had her and the group on the ropes.

Or at least so they thought. Derek had felt the same way until he came upon this compound, nestled in southwestern West Virginia. If he hadn’t found it when he did it might have been too late. When word was sent back to higher-ups about the preparations being nearly complete, the reactions were furious. Hence the need.

Send them a message.

His radio earpiece crackles. “Hey, Slingshot.” Derek cringes every time he hears the call sign. It had been given to him by Jason and Rob as some good-natured ribbing, but all things considered, Derek would rather have something a bit less obnoxious. “Can we get a SITREP?”

Derek takes one hand off his binoculars and keys the button attached to the front of his tactical vest. “Grizzly 6, nothing new. Developing the situation further. Will advise. Over,” he whispers just loud enough to be heard on the other end.

“Roger that, Slingshot,” Jason replies. “Hopefully we get some movement soon. The aviation boys are getting antsy. Said they don’t think they can hold much longer.”

Derek lowers his binos altogether and slips the cuff of his Marine woodland pattern camouflage blouse back enough to expose his watch. He keys up again, not bothering to hide the confusion in his voice. “Grizzly 6, Slingshot 6. My count has Reaper time on station for at least another seven hours. You mean the Apaches, over?”

“Bingo, Slingshot,” Jason chimes back. “Flyboys getting nervous as usual.” His own voice is laced with a modicum of exacerbation. Not surprising given his Airborne Ranger pedigree. The swagger of line troops almost always led to no small amount of eye rolling when it came to the concerns of other branches. This was especially true amongst the straight-leg infantry types of the world.

Marine Force Recon wasn’t any different from the Army in that regard. Derek depresses his push-to-talk button. “If they’re so nervous, get me Marines in Cobras instead of these National Guard wannabees next time. Devil Dogs will fly those things on spit and harsh language if they have to.”

A few moments go by before the radio crackles again. Derek can make out the last vestiges of laughter dying out on the other end as Jason’s voice comes through. “Wilco, Slingshot. Oorah!” the former Army noncom adds mockingly.

Derek smiles as he scoops up his binos and resumes surveillance of the opposite hill. Despite their less than auspicious start together, a mutual respect and admiration had grown between the three former members of the military’s elite. Derek found Jason and Rob to be seasoned professionals capable of proficient operational planning and execution the more time they worked together. Likewise, the duo had expressed to him on more than a few occasions their disbelief at Derek’s survival skills, field acumen, and technical and tactical expertise.

The shared “mission first, people always” mindset set the stage for their successes. With each camp neutralized it was another notch on his handlers’ belts, so much so that Derek was helping make their careers for them. Jason was now the leadership element’s point man in the field, while Rob had been elevated to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the entire task force. In return, they watched out for Derek, insulating him from the inevitable reach of FBI politics and logistical nonsense, while ensuring that he had every piece of state-of-the-art equipment, weaponry, and supplies at his disposal to make his time in the wilderness as smooth as possible.

Derek had to give it to the Feds on that front. His next-gen gear capabilities bordered on near-future science fiction at times. Not prototypes, mind you. Field-tested and certified equipment just waiting on budget appropriations for widespread distribution to the military. Billions will be spent fielding the gear en masse, but for a single individual the cost was negligible.

The concept for his loadout was all about combining multiple pieces of equipment into singular units to keep Derek light and mobile. His AN/PRC-177 multi-band encrypted radio with satellite uplink gives him the ability to reach the forward command center, the helicopters holding so far out that their rotor blades can’t be heard, and the drone pilot sitting in a trailer somewhere in the Arizona desert.

A specialized wrist-top computer, essentially a glorified, encrypted iPhone on steroids, sits in a camouflaged sleeve, reminiscent of what a quarterback wears to reference plays, on his left forearm. With it Derek can send and receive text messages with his command element, upload and download content like photographs or map overlays, mark his GPS position for satellite tracking, and passively transmit his vital signs. The computer even has a flora and fauna identification scanner, complete with a database of every known species indigenous to the United States.

A woodland camo boonie hat with a harness sewn into the interior lining supports an Enhanced Night Vision Goggle Monocular borrowed from the Army. Derek carries an M38 Designated Marksmanship Rifle, an upgraded version of the Marine Corps M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, which has greater range, accuracy, and cycle rate of rounds than the standard M4 carbines that he was familiar with during his time in. A cutting-edge Leupold illuminated reticle scope combined IR beam, laser rangefinding, target designation, and live streaming capabilities into a singular optic. The enhanced rifle gives Derek the ability to see farther and shoot faster.

He only carries four magazines on the front of his vest in addition to the one already seated in the well of his rifle. The relatively low amount isn’t ideal, but Derek accepts the trade-off for the alleviation in weight. He knows that if he ever gets into a major firefight his greatest weapon will be the radio on his back, not the rifle in his hands. Strapped in the drop-down holster attached to his right leg platform is a Sig Sauer M18 pistol should shit really hit the fan.

The remainder of Derek’s tactical vest is outfitted with pouches containing the absolute essentials he needs should he become separated from his assault pack. A compass and maps. A trauma kit complete with hemostatic bandages and a combat tourniquet. A LifeStraw personal water filtration unit. One pocket contains tinder, lighters, and waterproof matches.

His assault pack, just a little bigger than a standard backpack, holds other items considered necessary but not essential. An insulated bivy sack to sleep in that can act as a VS-17 signaling panel if turned inside out. A larger field medical kit. A Katadyn water filtration pump to fill the integrated CamelBak reservoir. A solar recharging panel and spare batteries for his electronics. Four grenades: incendiary, smoke, fragmentation, and a flashbang. A suppressor attachment for the M38 rifle. Wire for setting snares. Tackle for fishing. Extra socks. Derek has a few emergency rations just in case, but he never starves while he is out, even in the dead of winter.

Rounding it all out is Derek’s trusted StatGear Surviv-All survival knife strapped to his left leg platform. Matched with his survival skill set, the consolidated equipment further enhances his ability to travel quickly and quietly, allowing him to infiltrate and observe the enemy with lightning speed.

The loadout was proving itself so effective that the Marine Corps procurement guys were already getting hard-ons about fielding it to larger numbers, mainly Force Recon, Raiders, and snipers.

Trucks turning over heightens his attention. Derek forgets about the equipment and focuses his binoculars. Through the trees he can see the shadows of large vehicles moving. Derek punches the button to his radio. “Grizzly 6, we’ve got movement. Going to open channel.”

He doesn’t wait for a response. Rotating the housing ring around his push-to-talk button, Derek switches his radio to the frequency dedicated to coordinating the involved parties. “All task force elements, this is Slingshot 6. Report readiness condition, over.”

“Slingshot 6, Saber 1. Redcon one.”

“Cherokee 6, redcon one.” The whir of the helicopters’ rotors can be heard in the background of the pilot’s transmission.

Jason’s voice comes over again. “Grizzly 6. Redcon one.”

“Roger,” Derek replies, “all elements redcon one. We have vehicle movement inside camp. Stand by. Saber 1, you’re on deck.”

The pilot in Arizona keys back. “Roger over. Standing by.”

Through the binoculars he can see the vehicles heading away from camp toward the west. Derek watches until the shadows and the decline of the hill swallow them from his sight but the sound of their engines never fades completely. He listens for the straining, sudden exertion of gears not meant for this mountainous terrain or navigating the steep twists and turns.

After a few moments the sounds of the engines begin to increase. Derek shifts his gaze to the base of the hill, where the dirt tracks disappear into the tree line. Sure enough, three vehicles appear. A Chevy pickup in the lead, a U-Haul box truck in the middle, and a white panel van bringing up the rear. All three amble along, rocking back and forth as they move slowly over the uneven ground.

He keys his radio. “Sabre 1, Slingshot 6. Type-three control, bomb on target. Advise when ready for 9 line.”

The drone pilot crackles back. “Go ahead, Slingshot.”

“Lines one through three, NA, break. Two eight niner eight feet. Civilian vehicles moving west to east. Grid mike lima eight four two, three niner seven, break. Slingshot laser, code one six eight eight. Northeast eight five zero meters. Acknowledge and advise when ready for remarks.”

The vehicles continue toward him as the reply comes over his earpiece. “Roger, Slingshot, ready.”

“Laser target line two three six. Final attack heading three three zero to zero three zero. Read back lines four, six, and restrictions.”

“Slingshot 6, good copy. Two eight niner eight feet. Mike lima eight four two, three niner seven.”

“Saber 1, good readback. Call in with heading.”

“Copy Slingshot. Saber 1 in, heading three three zero,” the drone pilot replies.

Derek lowers his binoculars and pulls his rifle over. Before looking through the scope he notices movement out of his peripherals. A quick glance shows the patrons of the camp coming out of the wood line to stand on the hill’s edge. They wave to the vehicles as they bounce along the road, now a little less than halfway between the two hills. “Fuck,” he mutters before acquiring the U-Haul in his scope.

“Slingshot 6, overhead. Ready for spot.”

“Proceed south. Run in three thirty to one fifty. Laser target line two three six.”

“Roger. Three thirty to one fifty for laser handoff. Ten seconds.”

“Saber 1, roger. Ten seconds.” Derek takes a deep breath.

“Slingshot 6, laser on.”

Derek steadies his aim, keeping the red dot produced by his riflemounted laser on the side panel of the U-Haul. He tracks the truck as it moves from right to left in his field of vision. “Lazing.”

After a few moments the pilot comes back. “Spot. Cease laser.”

Derek switches off the laser but keeps his scope on the vehicles so that those in the forward command unit can watch the live feed. “Saber 1, do you have contact?”

“Slingshot 6, affirmative. Contact. Three vehicles moving west to east. Box truck is center mass.”

His heart starts to thump in his chest. Despite the cool air, beads of sweat break out on his brow, and Derek can feel dampness in his armpits. “Correct, Saber, that’s your target.”

“Tally target,” the drone pilot says, further acknowledging the acquisition.

Derek has the pilot call in the attack heading again. Upon receiving the appropriate response, he pauses momentarily. Derek swallows. “Cleared hot.”

“Slingshot 6, Saber 1. Commencing engagement. Time on target, thirty seconds.”

Derek squeezes his eyes shut. He waits a few moments, letting his years and experience dictate the length of his tactical pause. A couple of counts go by before he keys up again. “All Cherokee elements, proceed to incursion points, over.”

The whir comes back through the radio. “Slingshot, Cherokee 6. Roger, inbound time now.”

Derek’s stomach gurgles. He spares a quick glance for the people watching on the hilltop. There is a steep and sudden whoosh, and then a flash. The concussive wave comes next followed by the erupting sound of an explosion.

The Hellfire missile detonates on impact when it hits the U-Haul. The contents inside, stacks of fertilizer laden with ball bearings and other forms of shrapnel, ignite immediately in a massive secondary explosion. The shrapnel and fireball produced burst through the windshield of the van trailing the box truck, engulfing it and the fully armed team riding in the back. The blast lifts the Chevy and throws it through the air like a Matchbox car, the vehicle crashing through the upper heights of the surrounding trees, severing limbs all the way back down to the ground.

Dirt and dust flies up in an all-encompassing cloud. Derek drops his head, one hand holding his boonie hat in place, the other pulling his rifle under his chest as the hot air rushes over him. A shower of shattered trees and rocks immediately follows the echo of the blast. Derek waits for the rain of debris to cease before conducting his battledamage assessment.

“Saber 1, Slingshot 6. Mission successful. Three vehicles destroyed.” He clears his throat, his mouth suddenly dry. “Estimate twelve casualties. Out.”

Derek looks over to the camp. The entire landscape is awash in gray dust save for the flaming wreckage down below. For a few moments there is absolute silence. Then the screams come.

He can’t see the families of those that were in the vehicles, but he hears their laments of shock and loss. It’s a blessing that the hum of the rotor blades from the choppers comes a few seconds later and drowns them out.

The gray dust curls away as two Apache attack helicopters race in from the west and east. They flare up to halt their speed, the pilots briefly showing the underbelly of their aircraft before leveling out. As the aircraft dip back down, rockets, missiles, and 30mm cannons are menacingly brought to bear. A moment behind them, two UH-60 Black Hawks enter the airspace and form an outer perimeter. Ropes are dropped from both sides on each chopper and members of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team begin fast-roping down to the deck.

They wear uniforms close to that of the Army. Fatigues in the operational camouflage pattern with olive drab plate carriers fastened over their chests and backs. Assault rifles and submachine guns dangle from their slings as the men zip down the lines. Once on the ground the individual teams get into wedge formations and race up the hilltop.

Derek glasses over the camp one more time. The group is in total disarray. Shock from the explosion. Staggered with their losses. Frozen by the sudden appearance of helicopters swarming all around them like a hornet’s nest that’s been kicked. As the members of HRT breach their perimeter the camp members fold, collapsing to the ground only to be put in the prone position, zip-tied, and searched. Already he can hear the sirens of the state police and fire departments making their way up the mountain road. Derek sighs.

Message sent.


Click below to pre-order your copy of The Infiltrator, available April 23rd, 2024!

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