I fell in love with reading and writing at an early age, and knew by age 12 that I wanted to tell stories I could share with the entire world–stories that transcend culture, race and ethnicity, and are timeless. My work has been described by some as “provocative and entertaining international tales of intrigue that also inspire.” But most importantly, I strive to bring my readers unique tales that are lightning-fast, packed with action, loaded with suspense and surprises, and deals the reader an intensely deep emotional blow that’s unforgettable. While I use the Freedom of Expression quite judiciously, there have been instances where I’ve had to kick self-censorship in the butt in favor of “creativity originale”. I am thriller novelist and filmmaker, Paul Roberts. Thank you for delving into my world.
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Disguised as “Humanitarian aid,” a fraternity of corrupt U.S. politicians is using American tax dollars to fund ethnic cleansing in a fictional African republic, in return for millions of dollars in kickbacks. An unsuspecting U.S. President authorizes a covert mission to end the genocide by taking out leading war criminals, who repeatedly blocked the United Nations’ peace efforts. In order to protect their kickback scheme with the war criminals, the ruthless U.S. officials promptly betray the mission, and hire an army of foreign mercenaries to ambush and destroy American commandos sent to carry out the assassinations. Barely surviving a bloodbath in the jungle, leader of the commando unit, Brett Collins finds out about the shocking conspiracy, rogue CIA agents, and high-ranking UN diplomats who accept bribes to vote down UN military intervention while thousands of innocent and defenseless men, women and children are slaughtered daily. Forming an alliance with a stunningly beautiful British Intelligence agent, Agatha Cornwell, and an idealistic African soldier, Major Danka, whose wife and children were burned alive as punishment for challenging the war criminals, Brett would take on the transcontinental network of powerful men and their assassins in order to liberate, avenge, and also prevent a sure-fire nuclear “dirty-bomb” attack on two million Americans by angry, surviving victims of the genocide.
Inspired by actual, true-life events, Permanent Enemy is a bullet-fast, action-packed international thriller, filled with nail-biting suspense and stunning surprises. It’s the first novel in a series.
AUGUST 27, 2004
BRETT COLLINS AND his commando unit had no idea that his covert mission would turn into a bloodbath. It was eleven minutes past midnight in sub-Sahara Africa. The vast and remote tropical jungles of the Republic of Dargombi lay in semi- darkness about 15,000 feet below as a camouflage- painted MC-130H special operations transport aircraft snuck toward the drop zone. A smiley half- moon cast an eerie illumination from a clear, stark- naked sky.
Inside the cockpit that was jam-packed with electronic indicators, the pilot made a scrambled radio transmission: “Bravo-Alpha approaching drop zone. Over!”
A raspy and commanding voice belonging to a middle-aged man filtered through the pilot’s earphones.
“We copy Bravo-Alpha! All clear on LZ. Proceed to next phase. Over!”
In the partial-darkness of the aircraft cabin, the heavily-armed twelve-man commando team in jungle camouflage fatigues and face paints was now making final preparations, checking and re-checking their weapons and gears—M4 assault rifles, Glock 9mm pistols, pineapple grenades, rocket launchers, commando fighting knives, Night Vision goggles…
Brett Collins casually glanced at the eleven camo-painted faces in black berets and headsets, and reminded himself once again that these were men he could depend on, specialists who knew more than a dozen ways to kill with their bare hands, let alone with a gun, knife, explosives or an improvised weapon.
He also knew they were all aware that they could depend on him. They would follow him into a hellhole if he asked. Brett felt a sense of pride, mixed with an unusually deep feeling of apprehension, which nobody around him could detect. A premonition of danger was manifesting itself far too early in the mission. Brett knew that his sharp and well-developed survival instincts rarely sent a false alarm. Something’s very wrong, he thought to himself. He wondered what it might be.
IN THE DENSE tropical jungle below, under barely perceptible streaks of light from the half moon, about 100 heavily-armed men in black private army uniforms were maneuvering secretly through the bushes with AK-47 assault rifles at the ready. Led by a sinister-looking, 51-year-old, American mercenary notoriously known as The Colonel, the army of foreign mercenaries slowly and cautiously inched their way toward a field in the middle of the jungle. The Colonel wore an olive green sabotage uniform without an insignia, a dark-green beret, and a black eye patch that covered his right eye. Spread out over a large area in the jungle, the advancing army scrambled for deeper cover as the unsuspecting American aircraft flew past overhead.
Less than two minutes later, the Colonel, who hid behind a mahogany tree, whispered instructions into the mouthpiece of his headset:
“All units, this is the Colonel. Maintain radio silence from here on. Hold your fire until the enemy is at treetop level.”
IN THE NIGHT sky above the jungle, the aircraft’s rear ramp door opened, causing a gush of warm tropical wind to surge into the cabin as Brett Collins and his commando team shuffled forward and began jumping out in the semi-darkness. Less than a minute later, all twelve warriors were freefalling toward the jungle below. Their Black Spider parachutes began opening up shortly thereafter, filling the foreboding night sky. The MC- 130H transport aircraft banked and made a wide, 180-degree turn, and departed from the area. The twelve unsuspecting CIA contract operatives slowly drifted downward…
Far beneath them in the jungle, the Colonel and his foreign fighters began maneuvering hastily to have the landing zone surrounded.
CLUTCHING HIS M4 rifle at the ready as he drifted downward under the wide parachute canopy, Brett’s sharp eyes scanned the jungle below through his Night Vision. He quickly detected movements— several armed men darting through the bushes.
“Mission is compromised!” he yelled into his headset mouthpiece, “Hostiles on LZ!”
His M4 was already blazing away with ferocious intensity. The floor of the jungle suddenly lit up with spectacular and deadly muzzle flashes and tracer bullets from out-going gunfire as some fighters began dropping dead from in-coming volleys. Firing and taking hits while still airborne, the commando unit blazed its way down into the hell below, crash-landing under fire.
In the field that served as the landing zone, half of Brett’s men, six, lay dead still attached to their parachutes. Three others had multiple gunshot wounds in the lower parts of their bodies but were still in the fight, engaging enemies on their flank with fierce gunfire, and rocket attack, killing, and forcing some of the fighters into a momentary retreat. Brett and two commandos survived the landing safe and sound; they were now busy cutting down anything that moved outside the perimeter.
Brett sprang to his feet with hellish fire, going on the offensive, and cutting retreating men to pieces. Some of the enemy fighters scrambled up tree branches as others, who were laying cover fire, began dropping to the forest floor like flies under fast and furious slaughter fire from Brett. He directed his fire upward cutting men from tree branches and treetops, splintering wood and foliage. A few yards ahead of him in the semi-darkness, a fighter threw a grenade. It landed on the forest floor about two feet in front of Brett, who saw it, dove at it in a flash, and, in one swift motion, grabbed and hurled it at the fleeing group of fighters. Half a dozen men flew to pieces in a blinding fireball explosion. Already flat on the forest floor, keeping his head low behind the cover of a tree trunk, Brett quickly reloaded his M4 rifle as he yelled into his headset mouthpiece while heavy firefights raged around him.
“Intruder Romeo to Control Delta: ambush on LZ! Fifty percent KIA! Mission aborted! Requesting immediate extraction! Over!” A throaty voice quickly came through his headset. “Control Delta to Intruder Romeo: negative! Extraction not possible! You must cease transmission immediately. It’s an order! Godspeed, Intruder Romeo! Over and out!” “Control Delta! Fuck you!” Brett Collins cursed into his headset mouthpiece. Then, he sprang to his feet with fearsome rapid-fire, running through the forest with maddening rage, killing, dodging, knifing, blasting, terminating… And then, he ran out of ammunition for his M4. He quickly pulled his sidearm, a Glock 9mm, and kept shooting and dodging as enemy fighters relentlessly popped up from behind every tree in front of him, and from his left, and right flanks as he pursued them, killing with precision single shots and two-shots. Then a bullet hit him in the back, just below his bulletproof vest. He lurched forward and fell…
AS HIS BODY met the forest floor in the semi- darkness, his left hand pulled a pineapple grenade from his waist belt. He pulled off the grenade pin with his teeth as he was struck again, this time in the buttocks. A group of enemy fighters surged out of hiding a few yards ahead of him to finish him off.
Brett threw the grenade at them, the Glock pistol still in his right hand. He buried his face in the forest bed as the explosive detonated in a thunder blast killing several of them.
Brett winced with pain as he quickly dragged himself up, but fell again as an AK-47 stuttered from his left flank, putting three bullets in his left arm, just above the elbow. The shooter started sneaking closer to Brett’s position. Brett fired a single shot through the foliage, hitting the shooter dead-on between the eyes. The man dropped to his knees and collapsed to the forest bed.
There was a momentary lull in the firefight around Brett, but sporadic gunfire still echoed through the forest from the landing zone area. Painfully, he dragged himself up with a grunt. He was in a bad shape—his back and buttocks were now drenched with his blood. The bullet holes in his left arm furiously dripped blood. He turned and began to limp agonizingly through the forest, heading back in the direction of the distant, weak, but on-going firefight at the landing zone.
He came upon a dying enemy fighter in his path, who roused slightly on the jungle floor. Brett raised his Glock and pulled the trigger to finish him off, but heard a familiar click sound.
“Fuck!” he cursed. “Now, I’m totally out of ammo. Good grief.” He re-holstered the pistol, and pulled his commando fighting knife from a scabbard on his waist belt as he limped along wincing with pain.
THE LANDING ZONE was being overrun. Dead bodies of Brett’s men and those of enemy fighters littered the clearing as the last two commandos left standing—and wounded—lunged at the enemies with fighting knives, having run out of ammo and grenades. The Colonel and his remaining fighters, about twenty men opened fire at almost pointblank killing the two men. They crumpled to the ground in the overkill.
And then, all was quiet…
The American mercenary and his foreign hired guns began slowly inspecting the eleven fallen CIA commandos, at times, using their feet to turn the bodies over and make certain they were dead. Standing over a body, a fighter called out in a heavy foreign accent, “Colonel! I think this one is pretending.”
At this moment, hiding in thick foliage outside the perimeter, Brett Collins flung his commando knife at the fighter. The cold steel blade darted through the air and buried itself deep in the fighter’s throat. He staggered backward, dropping his AK-47, and fell dead. The Colonel and his men reacted quickly; they turned and opened furious fire. Brett Collins was already tearing through the bushes in a painful, life-and-death zigzagging. He tripped over a stump and fell. Bullets puffed off dirt and foliage around him and zipped past his head in close calls as he rolled onto his feet in the semi-darkness. Wincing and grunting with pain, he tore through the jungle growth. Several yards behind him, the Colonel and his fighters mounted a hot pursuit; some of the men reloaded their rifles without stopping as they gave chase.
Brett made a sharp turn in the jungle, disturbing a swarm of fireflies; he tore through with unbearable pain and suddenly came upon a swamp river infested with over-grown crocodiles. He stopped abruptly at the river’s edge, almost falling over headlong. “Fuck!” he cursed. Six of the large crocs scuttled toward him with lightning speed. Two of them rushed out of the water as Brett leapt into the air with a grunt and caught a tree branch high enough, as both crocs swung their open jaws to bite off his legs. More of the crocs rushed out of the river excitedly, and began gathering under the tree. Perched precariously on the tree branch, Brett glanced over his shoulder in the semi darkness. He could see his pursuers closing in.
He was trapped.
DRAGGING HIMSELF HIGH up the tree limb as fast as he could, and at about 12 feet above the crocodile-invested river, Brett began painstakingly crossing by leaping from one connecting tree branch to another in a heart-stopping high-wire act. Not far behind him, his pursuers stopped dead in their tracks as they came upon the crocodiles. They opened fire on the reptiles.
AT SUNRISE, THE sub-Saharan tropical jungle brightened up as rays of sunshine streaked through the jungle canopy and penetrated all the way to the forest bed. The cries of wildlife harmonized with the gushing resonance of a magnificent waterfall crashing down the side of a 200-foot, vertical cliff that was covered with lush, evergreen foliage. Soaking wet from head to toe, and barely alive, Brett Collins found himself at the foot of the waterfall. He’d been drifting in and out of consciousness for some time now. He’d lost too much blood. Extremely weak and dying, he crawled with difficulty, inching away toward dry land. He had struggled and stumbled through the wilderness for several miles through the night, successfully evading his pursuers. But now, he was lost in the middle of nowhere, and was quickly losing his cognition. No search-and- rescue aircraft was hovering overhead. No sign of an approaching and friendly search party beating through the jungle either. I’m fucked! From jungle treetops around him, colorful birds and a school of baboons observing him cried animatedly.
An adult leopard napping on a nearby tree branch became alerted. The big cat turned its head in Brett’s direction, saw him, and promptly descended from the tree, leaping into nearby foliage. Dazed and shivering from head to toe, Brett Collins was vaguely aware of the predator. By now, he’d managed to drag himself to dry land, but was too sick and exhausted to continue.
The leopard started moving very slowly through thick foliage that framed the open clearing, stalking him in a semi-circle. Brett lay face down in the undergrowth and fought desperately to stay awake, but he lost consciousness again.
Suddenly, the leopard was standing directly behind him, only about two yards away in the clearing. The hungry cat glanced around. Then, in self-assured strides, it began to close in…
THE DEAFENING RIFLE shot scored a bull’s eye hit that crashed a high-caliber bullet deep into the brain of the leopard. The big cat was flung to the ground by the deadly impact. It lay motionless as blood oozed from the hole between its eyes. It was excellent marksmanship by the stunningly gorgeous woman in safari outfit emerging from the bushes, and accompanied by two middle-aged armed men, who carried powerful hunting rifles as well. Agatha Cornwell and her companions were British. She was an impressive 29-year-old with blond hair, full bosoms, and wide, curvy pelvis. As she moved toward Brett’s body, she could tell he was a tall, handsome Caucasian with blond hair like hers, although he was covered with dirt and blood.
THE MEDEVAC HELICOPTER with International Red Cross markings flew out of the jungle less than a half hour later, and headed North toward the sprawling refugee camp along Dargombi’s northeastern borders with the smaller African republic of Sudini. Inside the short, narrow cabin, Brett Collins lay unconscious on a gurney with intravenous drips from IV bags as Agatha desperately performed a CPR—he’d gone into a cardiac arrest. Two Red Cross medics—a young Frenchman and a Dutchwoman—were assisting in the urgent efforts to revive him. “Come on, bloody stranger!” Agatha yelled in a heavy British accent, “Don’t you die on me!”
“Dr. Cornwell, he’s flat lining,” said the young Frenchman as he monitored an EKG machine. “We’re losing him—” Then, he quickly added, “Disregard, he’s pulsing again.”
Agatha heard the familiar electronic beeping sound from the EKG machine and stopped CPR. She quickly grabbed a two-way handset, “Unit B, this is Dr. Agatha Cornwell. Surgical Theatre Four is expecting me,” she transmitted. “I have a high trauma patient with multiple gunshot wounds. Vital organs may have been damaged. I need to operate immediately. Trauma Team Four is already on standby. Over!”
The chopper landed on a wide helipad at the center of the massive refugee camp, its noisy rotor blades kicking up a cloud of red dust. Nearby, three long lines of about 700 African refugees waiting to obtain food and medicine curled around large Red Cross tent structures. Thousands of smaller tent structures dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see in every direction, occasionally punctuated by unpaved access roads with relief truck convoys coming and going.
As Brett was being transferred from the chopper to a makeshift hospital on the enormous camp, a scrawny-looking old man, who wore a load of graying and unkempt beard, watched the flurry of activity from a discreet distance as he swept rubbish from a pathway. The old African knew right away that he had to report this incident to his handlers— the soldiers who came across the border in plainclothes and paid him for information at discreet meetings outside the camp. The government in Dargombi needed to know what went on in these camps, particularly amongst the White men and women who operated them. The old man watched and noted that it was a severely wounded White soldier, who was being rushed into the camp’s hospital. He knew that was enough information to earn him money for a keg of palm wine. He could not wait to contact his handlers using the secret cellular phone they had provided him.
UNDER ANESTHESIA A few crucial minutes later, Brett Collins was fighting for his life as Agatha, assisted by a surgical team, carefully began extracting bullet fragments from his body. As she worked painstakingly, she had serious doubts that Brett would survive.
FIELD MARSHALL HASSAN Itabuna had been a war criminal long before the United Nations declared him one. Forty years earlier, in a different “war”, he had been initiated as a child soldier at the age of ten by being forced to murder his own mother and father in cold blood with a machete while they were tied up and pleaded for their lives. Having lost his soul after that harrowing incident, like a zombie, he followed the rebel “army” that had stolen his innocence on a five-year killing rampage, where he took innocent human lives on a daily basis. At 15, after the “war” ended and the rebels lost, he found himself in a Catholic orphanage which expended all efforts to rehabilitate him.
But Hassan Itabuna and four of his fellow former child soldiers were beyond salvage. Three years later, at 18, and with minimal education and zero job skills, they joined the government army as another armed conflict was breaking out in sub- Sahara Africa’s perpetual retaliatory conflicts often stemming from tribal and religious differences. Soon, they became known in the army as the Gang of Five for their ruthlessness and efficient brutality.
Decades later, they had all risen through the ranks. And after mounting a bloody and successful military coup, they gained control of the army. And, in the Republic of Dargombi, the army controlled everything else. Itabuna proclaimed himself a Field Marshall and Head of State. He appointed his four cronies as Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, and Military Intelligence Chief.
A mineral-rich former British colony sandwiched between Egypt, in the East and Sudan, in the West, Dargombi gained its independence in 1965 and became a republic three years later. It had since been embroiled in intermittent armed struggles. The latest conflict had begun about ten years earlier, as soon as Itabuna and his Gang of Five seized power and declared that the ethnic minority group, the Yandes, would be exterminated. The Yandes represented about 10% of Dargombi’s population of roughly 30 million, but accounted for almost 90% of the wealth. They were simply far better educated and more industrious than the dominant ethnic tribe, the Katumus, to which Hassan Itabuna and 97% of Dargombi”s armed forces belonged.
Overwhelmingly outnumbered, the Yandes tribal members of the armed forces put up a futile resistance and were quickly crushed.
Then the horror began.
THE ENORMOUS GOVERNMENT building in the capital city of Zuma in Dargombi was heavily guarded by Katumu army troops as the Dargombi
national flag flew high on the well-manicured front lawn. A sign identifying the building as the Supreme Military Headquarters was erected outside the gated entrance in bold colors and graphics.
The coldblooded American mercenary known as the Colonel had already arrived. Now in a civilian outfit, a dark two-piece suit and a grey open-collar shirt, his face was masked with a pair of dark sunglasses as he strutted down a high-floor hallway leading to Field Marshall Itabuna’s office, briefcase in hand. Escorted by two machine-gun toting Katumu soldiers, the American could easily pass for a highly regarded international businessman. Come to think of it, he was a highly regarded merchant of death. The door to the office he was approaching was guarded by two sentries who quickly saluted him. His reputation had already preceded him.
Inside the ostentatious office, two army bodyguards kept watch, as Hassan Itabuna—a tall, slender, 50-ish man with ebony black skin and wicked brown eyes—sat behind his power desk, loading an open briefcase on the desk with bundles of fresh US 100-dollar bills. He was grabbing the money from an open top drawer. Itabuna glanced at a closed-circuit TV monitor in the room and saw the Colonel at the door. He pushed a button under his desk that caused the double doors to swing open inwards, admitting the visitor. Itabuna rose from his chair with a mischievous grin as the Colonel walked in with an equally roguish smirk.
“Good morning, Colonel!” He greeted with a firm handshake. “And thank you!”
“You’re welcome, Field Marshall! They’ve all been wiped out. I lost eighty percent of my men, but don’t shed any tears for them. They knew what they’d signed up for.”
Itabuna motioned to a chair at his desk, “Please, have a seat, Colonel. I was just preparing your care package.” He waved to the open briefcase full of money.
“It sure looks good,” said the Colonel, eyeing the money. “I love doing business in Africa. But I can’t hang around here too long.”
“I perfectly understand.” Itabuna took his seat.
Once the Colonel was seated, he said, “I’ve advised your men to go out there right away, and clean up—before the next fly over by American spy satellites.”
“They’re already on their way,” Itabuna replied. He pushed the open briefcase toward the Colonel. “We cannot compensate you enough, Colonel.”
“Thanks!” The Colonel closed the lid on the briefcase.
“I’m already being well compensated by the senator and his associates.” “I’m quite aware of that, Colonel. This is merely a token of our appreciation. We’re a very gracious people. It’s quite unfortunate that the United Nations, and the rest of the world, including other African nations, see us as bloodthirsty. They’re calling this civil war a genocide campaign—an ethnic cleansing. How absurd?”
The Colonel grinned mischievously under the dark sunglasses masking his face.
“I’m a straight shooter, Field Marshall,” said the Colonel. “You’re using an organized army to kill thousands of innocent and defenseless men, women and children per day cuz they belong to a tribe that’s better educated and has more economic power. If that isn’t ethnic cleansing, Field Marshall, you ought to have your fucking head examined.”
“I beg your pardon?” Itabuna was incensed.
“How fucking dare you insult my intelligence?” The Colonel queried. “I have just killed my fellow Americans in order to keep them from overthrowing your ass, and put an end to your madness.”
“This is uncalled for, Colonel,” Itabuna was furious. “You may leave now! This meeting is over!”
“It’s not over until I say it’s over!” The Colonel fired back. “The only reason you’re still in power is because crooked-ass senators in Washington are funneling humanitarian aid into your crackerjack government in exchange for kickbacks! American tax dollars is funding your fucking army. The same army you’re using to commit genocide! I got caught up in all these cuz I’m totally fucked up! That’s why I got kicked out of United States Army. You do not want to fuck with me, Field Marshall.”
The tension between both killers was palpable as they regarded each other in foreboding silence.