A novella companion to the bestselling Delta Force series
In Dalton Fury's All Lines Black, Syrian militant leader Abu Hamam al-Suri wants to defect from ISIS—an action which will in all likelihood bring about the end of the insurgency. He just wants one thing first. The head of the American commando who killed his son in a raid two years ago.
Newly-appointed Secretary of State Bill Mason isn’t above sacrificing American lives to satisfy his ambition, so when al-Suri’s back-channeled demand falls in his lap, he senses an opportunity to settle the score with his old nemesis, Delta Force squadron commander Kolt “Racer” Raynor.
When Raynor gets the order to lead a mission into Syria to bag the new ISIS money man, his gut tells him something is fishy, especially since he has been ordered to personally lead the mission. Raynor doesn’t mind leading from the front. In fact, he prefers it. But as soon as the assault team is on the ground, Kolt knows his gut instinct was dead on. The mission is a setup, an ambush intended to take out Raynor and his men.
Now Raynor has a new mission: Find out who set him up and why. But to do that, Raynor and the Delta team will have to run the gauntlet—an entire city controlled by enemy fighters.
About the Author
DALTON FURY was the senior ranking military officer at the Battle of Tora Bora. As a Delta troop commander he led ninety-one other Western special operations commandos and support personnel and helped author the operation to hunt and kill bin Laden. He told his tale of that mission in the book, Kill Bin Laden, which went on to become a national bestseller. Dalton Fury passed away in 2016.
Read an Excerpt
All Lines Black
By Dalton Fury
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Dalton Fury
All rights reserved.
Ramadi, Iraq — July 2016
Something about the tone of the shout caused Delta Force Master Sergeant Clay "Stitch" Vickery to look up from the screen of his Toughbook computer. War zones were by nature chaotic, filled with lots of shouting and shooting and other sounds that could turn a person into a nervous wreck if they didn't learn how to filter out the noise. It was an essential survival skill that could only be learned with experience, and Stitch had plenty of that, which was why he cocked his head to the side for a better listen.
Though Stitch's Arabic wasn't great, the phrase was a common one — roughly translated: Stop, or I'll shoot — but it was the pitch of the Iraqi soldier's voice that pinged Stitch's attention. The soldier was frightened. He sounded ready to make good on the threat, which meant this was more than just some typical background chaos that Stitch could afford to ignore. He stood up, grabbed his HK416 off the tabletop, and headed up to the roof of the recently recaptured police station where the Iraqi troops he was shadowing had set up a temporary operating base from which to root out the last remaining ISIS fighters in the outlying villages.
Ramadi had been the rope in a bitter two-year-long tug-of-war between Iraqi and ISIS forces for control of Anbar Province. Officially, the city was now once more under Iraqi control, though as victories were measured, it was a little like burning down a house to get rid of a termite infestation. Hundreds of buildings and homes had been destroyed, along with roads, bridges, and everything else that would have made habitation possible. Not that anyone was really trying to inhabit the rubble. Most of the civilian population had fled at the start of the struggle. Many of those that had stayed had been killed during the subsequent ISIS occupation, either directly in brutal executions or as collateral damage in the non-stop fighting with Iraqi forces.
Still, it was a win and the administration made sure it played that way on CNN. The termites were mostly gone.
More importantly, it had been a serious blow to ISIS's morale. Local walk-ins shared that defeated ISIS fighters who had tried to flee to nearby Mosul had been rounded up by their leaders and burned alive in the town square. The last few remaining pockets of resistance were being dealt with, and the American government wanted to ensure that the tug-of-war did not continue, which was why Stitch and his Delta sniper team were in Iraq. Unofficially and off the books. Again. Not that it made a shit's difference to Stitch. Twice divorced — blame Army happenings, Jody next door, and of course, the long wars — he always preferred the loner, away-from-the-flag-pole-type missions anyway.
He was, after all, a typical Delta sniper.
As he topped the stairs, Stitch flicked his long dirty-blond locks away from his eyes, hunched his barrel chest over, and duckwalked to the low parapet at the edge of the roof. The shouting was coming from street level, about thirty meters away. That estimate wasn't based on Stitch's keen sense of hearing, but rather because he knew that was the distance at which the Iraqi troops had placed the concrete T-walls to establish a secure perimeter around the police station.
Stitch raised up for a quick peek. Two seconds, no more. Just long enough to take a mental snapshot of the scene below.
As he had surmised, the shouting was mostly coming from the Iraqi soldier manning the checkpoint entrance. The increasingly strident commands were directed at a small figure wearing a dirty white salwar kameez with a matching taqiyah prayer cap, who stood a good twenty meters farther out. Stitch guessed it was a preadolescent boy based on size and slight build, but that in itself did not make him any less of a threat. The loose pajama-like garments could easily conceal a suicide-bomb vest, and ISIS militants did not hesitate to use innocent children as IED mules, particularly the children of poor tribal villagers who had not been especially quick to embrace their rabid vision of Islam.
Stitch felt a pang at the thought of what the soldier might have to do. If the kid didn't back off, the man would have to make good on his threat, and then spend the rest of his life thinking about it, particularly if the boy was just there to beg for food or medical assistance for a family member.
Another voice, high-pitched and fainter, reached Stitch's ears. The kid, shouting back. Pleading. Stitch only understood part of it. He distinctly caught the word amriki — American. Something like, Give this to the Americans.
Stitch peeked over the wall again, this time peering through the EOTech HOLOsite scope affixed to the top rail of his carbine. He spent only a moment looking at the boy, just long enough to see that he was holding something in his right hand; it looked like a mobile phone.
Is that what he's talking about? Give the phone to the Americans?
Stitch did not let his gaze linger on the kid. He moved his red dot from side to side, sweeping the rubble beyond, up and down the street, for other potential threats. If the boy was a walking IED, there would almost certainly be a follow-on attack.
Maybe it was just a kid, turning in a phone he found in the ruins, hoping for a reward.
A loud rifle report brought Stitch's attention back to the standoff. A faint cloud of settling dust marked the spot where the soldier's warning shot had struck the ground, a good two meters to the left of where the boy had been standing a moment before. The kid was already gone, rabbiting down the street, but he had left the phone behind.
Stitch let out his breath in a sigh, relieved at the outcome.
Below, the soldier at the entry point started forward toward the discarded phone but an urgent shout from one of his comrades stopped him. He turned and shouted back. Stitch didn't linger on the roof to watch the conversation unfold, but picked up and headed back downstairs, grabbing his interpreter, a young man named Amir, on the way to the exit.
By the time he reached the gate, the discussion had grown both in size and intensity. An entire squad of Iraqi soldiers was clustered together in a gaggle around the phone.
"They think it is a bomb," Amir explained, unnecessarily. Stitch had figured as much.
"Good thing for them it isn't," he remarked. "If it was, they'd all be dead already."
It almost certainly was not an IED.
In 1995, Israeli Shin Bet agents had used a cell phone packed with fifteen grams of RDX to assassinate Palestinian bomb maker Yahya Ayyash, but mobile phones had gotten a lot smaller in the two decades since. Stitch doubted there was enough room in the little Motorola V197 flip phone to hold more than a few grams of explosives wrapped around a blasting cap. Maybe enough to give you a headache if you held it up to your head and tried to make a call, but probably not even that. No, it was just a regular mobile phone.
The debate abruptly ceased, and in the unexpected silence that followed, Stitch could hear a trilling sound issuing from the device.
The Iraqi soldiers just stared at it, utterly flummoxed. Stitch stared, too. The ringing continued, a long series of generic electronic chirps followed by a moment of quiet, and then more chirps, over and over again. After several cycles of this, the phone went silent, but after no more than thirty seconds, it started again.
Stitch continued forward until he was standing right over the phone. The Iraqi soldiers backed away nervously, as if the Delta operator's six-foot-three-inch frame was more intimidating than their earlier suspicions about the phone. Stitch ignored them. He raised his eyes and scanned the surrounding area again, looking for an enemy observation post or sniper position, then knelt down beside the phone. He could see the message displayed on the tiny LCD screen.
"No shit," he muttered.
The message vanished and there was another short pause as the call terminated, but after just a few more seconds, the phone began ringing again.
"Persistent fucker," Stitch said as he picked up the phone with his four-fingered left hand — he'd lost the pinky digit during a high-risk but ultimately successful aircraft takedown over India years earlier — and weighed it in his palm. It felt about right, but as he slipped his thumbnail between the halves of the flip-out device, he could not help but think about Yahya Ayyash's final phone conversation. He also recalled what the boy had said moments before dropping the phone and running away.
Give it to the Americans.
"Shit," he growled, and then repeated, "shit."
With a flick of his thumb, he opened the phone and held it up to his ear. There was a faint crackle of static. "Hello?"
"Yes, hello?" The voice on the other end was male, and spoke English albeit with a heavy Middle Eastern accent. The man sounded almost startled, as if he had not really expected anyone to pick up. "To whom am I speaking?"
Stitch frowned. "You called me, buddy. You go first."
"You are American? CIA?"
Stitch said nothing, hoping that his silence would prompt the caller to reveal more. One thing was certain. This wasn't just a random phone found amid the rubble. He wished the Iraqi soldiers had taken the young delivery boy into custody, rather than frightening him off.
The caller spoke again. "Are you authorized to negotiate?"
Negotiate what? Stitch wondered silently. Terms of surrender? Ransom demands for the life of a hostage? Local gas prices?
He found himself regretting the decision to answer the call.
"That depends," he said, "on who you are and what you want?"
There was a brief pause, and when the man spoke again, he sounded irritated. "What I want is to speak with someone who is authorized to negotiate. I will call again in three hours."
"At least tell me —" A beep, signaling the end of the call, cut him off.
Stitch held the phone at arm's length for a moment, then snapped it shut and shoved it into a pocket. "Someone authorized to negotiate," he muttered as he headed back inside the police station. "Someone else's problem."CHAPTER 2
One of the advantages of being an uncontroversial political appointee in the waning hours of a lame-duck presidency, thought retired Admiral William Mason as he passed through the east exit of the Harry S. Truman Building and jaywalked across Twenty-First Street, was that nobody paid much attention to you. There were no reporters waiting to ambush him with gotcha questions, no protestors railing indignantly about some obscure foreign policy decision, no lobbyists lurking to slyly buttonhole him in order to curry favor for whatever corporation or cause had hired them. Even his obligatory Secret Service protection detail appeared completely indifferent to his presence. No one seemed to care at all about the man who was now fourth in the line of succession to the Presidency of the United States of America, and that was just fine with Secretary of State Mason.
Like the tortoise in the fable, his relentless yet utterly unremarkable plodding pace was going to win him the race while nobody was paying attention.
Mason came from old money, though he was not so well-off as to invite undue scrutiny. Influential, but not enough so as to attract the spotlight. His naval career had been a perfunctory success. He had checked all the blocks, made all the correct political decisions, and generally avoided controversy. He had come within a whisker of reaching the highest office in the force, but bad timing and entrenched devotion to antiquated tradition had kept him from becoming chief of the Navy. Still, even that seeming setback had worked to his advantage, allowing him to sidestep into a political career. As a reward for his sturdy leadership of the Joint Special Operations Command, he had received a presidential appointment as ambassador to Tungsten, an ultrasecret counter-terror action group. Tungsten, with Mason at the helm, had been critical in thwarting a terrorist plot to destroy the Yellow Creek nuclear reactor, and later in stopping a North Korean nuclear strike dead in its tracks. There had been a couple of close calls, incidents that nearly derailed the train of his career. Strangely, they always seemed to involve a certain pseudo-insubordinate Delta Force officer named Kolt Raynor....
Mason's face twisted into a snarl at the mere thought of Raynor. Despite all his fuck-ups, Kolt Raynor was now a Delta squadron commander, frocked as a lieutenant colonel. Fortunately, Mason had not only survived the shit storm caused by Raynor's rogue ops, but come out of it smelling like a rose. The only downside, at least as far as Mason was concerned, was that Raynor had, too.
Mason's successes had prompted the president to give him one more promotion. While Tungsten had saved the day, the restless American electorate needed someone to blame for the intelligence failures that had made the nation vulnerable in the first place, particularly with a contentious election looming on the horizon and the president's desired successor banking on the outgoing administration's high approval ratings as a way to grease the skids on election day. So with less than twelve months left in his term, the president had decided to shake things up by replacing the entire upper echelon of his intelligence, military, and diplomatic machine. The cuts started at the top, with the ouster of several cabinet-level officials. Admiral Bill Mason had been tapped to fill the vacancy at the top of the State Department.
He had no illusions about this being anything but political theater. Even if the president's candidate won the election — and that was by no means a foregone conclusion — there was little chance that Mason would survive long past the transition. But just as he had done all throughout his military career, Mason was going to flash his gaudy Naval Academy ring around and turn this apparent dead end into a path to even greater things.
* * *
A week ago, the Speaker of the House of Representatives had reached out to Mason with an audacious proposal.
"I don't have to tell you that our nation is in some deep shit with this election," the Speaker said.
Mason didn't need to ask him to elucidate. Both of the candidates nominated to head the major party tickets were deeply flawed.
"They're both toxic. People always talk about having to choose the lesser of two evils, but this time ... There is no lesser evil. We cannot allow either of them to win the White House."
Mason shared the sentiment, but didn't see a way to prevent it from happening.
"So, we're going to give the American people an alternative," the Speaker finished.
"A third-party candidate?"
This was technically incorrect. Although most Americans did not realize it, there were several active political parties in the United States — Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, just to name a few — and each put a candidate on the ballot in the general election. In practical terms, however, the parties represented fringe ideologies, and the handful of votes those candidates netted were generally seen as protest votes. Alt-party candidates could sometimes swing an election one way or the other by siphoning off votes from the mainstream candidates, just as Ross Perot had done in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 2000, but outright victory was never in the cards.
"That's a waste of time," Mason went on. "No matter how bad the party candidates are, the voters simply don't take third-party candidates seriously. Not enough for them to win at any rate."
"An independent," the Speaker clarified. "Nonpartisan. Someone handpicked. And our candidate doesn't need to win electoral votes or even a majority of the popular vote."
"I don't follow."
"Are you familiar with the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution?"
Mason thought he was. "It refined the electoral college system."
"The amendment states that in the event that no candidate wins a majority of available electoral votes ... two hundred and seventy is the magic number ... it falls to the congress to choose the next president from the top three candidates. It's happened before. In 1824, Andrew Jackson trounced his opponents in the election, but because he won less than half of the electoral votes, it went to Congress, and they chose John Quincy Adams to be president."
Now Mason understood. The Speaker was planning an end run.
Despite his populist appeal, the candidate representing the majority party in Congress was loathed by members of the political establishment. If party moderates were given an alternative — not just a protest candidate, but an actual viable third option — it just might be enough to send the election to Congress. And if that third candidate was handpicked by the majority party ...
Excerpted from All Lines Black by Dalton Fury. Copyright © 2017 Dalton Fury. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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