Conspiracy theorists have called it the Deep State and Shadow Government, but the truth is it's the Black and White Club. The hidden network of agents around the globe have been subverting democracy since the end of World War II and are now looking for their next member...
June 2012 Off the Coast of Colombia
LT Joshua Chamberlain Martin, USCG slammed the dogging handle of the watertight door to the left and exited the center island of the USS OKINAWA. The U.S. Navy's newest amphibious assault ship with a crew of 1060 sailors, an attack force of 1700 Marines, and a contingent of MV-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft and F-35B SVTOL strike fighters. The quiet of the ship's interior gave way to the sounds of an active flight deck, 844 ft. of choreographed ballet. Josh paused for three seconds and glanced down at the U.S. Coast Guard cloth tag sewn on the left breast of his Navy Working Uniform. He tapped the gold SEAL Trident, over the Coast Guard nameplate, three times for luck. Josh was fighter lean at 6' and 185lb's, his brown hair was cut razor short, and Maui Jim shades covered his green eyes. He walked to the group of men milling about a Navy MS60 Knight Hawk helo. He made a quick head count; eight plus 2, missing one. "We're down one, Chief."
"Yes, LT," Special Warfare Operator Chief Richard "Dick" Dormann said, or "Big Dick" in SEAL circles. "Banana went below to give birth to a Marine. We loaded all the gear and briefed our two guests. They're ready to go."
"Roger, Dick." Josh went over to the two gentlemen standing apart in Navy flight suits. "So, Rob, are you two ready to go?
"We're all set, Lieutenant." Rob shifted his flight helmet under his right arm.
Both men were contractors from Sea Island Security, another name for CIA. It made Josh laugh. Everyone knew they were CIA, and all SEALs had the highest security clearances, but CIA clandestine folks always worked for some defense contractor or consulting firm. A cover your butt move in case something went wrong. No blowback on the spooks. The Agency had no knowledge of this operation. It was Sea Island Security. They also could have come up with a better name. The team dubbed them "SIS" the weak sisters of charity. The first sister, Rob McDonald, was not a weak sister. He was 5'10", 220lbs, bald, and heavily muscled. He was an operator. The other sister, Nick Lacava, had the look of a weak sister. He was about 6'1, rower lean, with a manicured beard, brown styled hair, and an Ivy school look. All he needed was a cardigan and a button-down shirt, and he would be ready for the Harvard/Yale football game with Buffy. They couldn't be a more mismatched pair. Rob was obviously from the CIA paramilitary branch, and Nick was the analyst. The boys nicknamed them Mr. Rob and Biff.
"We got one guy taking a shit, and then we're wheels up." When Josh finished the sentence, the watertight door banged open, and Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Craig Peel sprinted across the flight deck.
"Let's mount up ladies," Big Dick twirled his right index finger in the air.
The men piled into the MS60 with a call sign of Reaper 1. The Pilots and Crew Chief were already in place after completing their pre-flight checks. Josh took a seat just aft of the pilot and plugged the aircraft communications link into his helmet. The Crew Chief secured the helo side door and took station behind the Co-Pilot.
In his earpiece, Josh heard, "Tower, this is Reaper 1. All pre-flight checks are complete. Request permission to take off to port. 14 souls on board, 2 hours to bingo."
"Reaper 1, this is Tower, you are cleared to take off to port, 14 souls on board, 2 hours to bingo. Take all signals from the LSO."
"Tower, Reaper 1, Roger."
The pilot engaged the engines, and the rotors began to spin. The helo started to shake as the engines ramped up. He pulled on the collective. The chopper lifted off the deck, swayed back and forth, and banked to port with a sudden dip. The pilot applied more power and aircraft gained altitude and turned southeast at 100 knots. It would be a quick trip.
Josh glanced out the side window at the expanse of ocean below. There were occasional white caps, but it was another beautiful Caribbean day.
He spent a lot of beautiful Caribbean days on drug patrols on his first cutter out of the Academy, USCGC SPENCER (WMEC). It seemed like a long time ago. Ten minutes into the flight, they passed down the starboard side of the USCGC YEATON (WMEC 914), the last of the famous class of cutters. The Coast Guard named her after the first commissioned officer of the Revenue Cutter Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard. The MS60 made a flyby at 100 knots to show off. The Coasties on deck shielded their eyes from the bright sun and strained their necks to catch a glimpse of the helo as it flew past the weather decks. The Knight Hawk pedal turned to starboard and flew back around to take station about 200 yards off the YEATON's starboard quarter.
"Shark 914, this is Navy Helo Reaper 1. Request permission for Vert Rep, followed by 11 Pax transfer, followed by cargo transfer. Please pass numbers, over," via VHF secure.
"Reaper 1, this is Shark 914, course 350T, speed 7 knots. Wind 270, speed 10 knots, pitch 1, roll 1, cutter ready for Vert Rep, followed by 11 Pax transfer, followed by cargo transfer, over."
"Roger, Shark 914, copy all. All Vert Rep checks complete. Request green deck for a Vert Rep, followed by 11 Pax transfer, followed by cargo transfer."
"Reaper 1, you have a green deck."
Josh saw the green light illuminate on the flight deck light tree as the MS60 started its approach. The helo made a straight glide to the stern of the cutter, and the crew chief called the progress.
"Over the fantail, over the flight deck."
The pilot executed a quick pedal turn to port to catch the wind on the nose and settled into a perfect hover 20' off the deck. No indecision, no hesitation, and no wasted back and forth. The crew chief yanked open the door and tossed a fast rope to the cutter flight deck below.
Josh unhooked his seat harness, unplugged his communications link, and edged over to the helo door. He grabbed the rope with his heat-resistant gloves, swung out the door, locked it between his boots, and slid down the line to the rolling Coast Guard cutter. He checked his descent with his gloves and boots, and landed on the flight deck, with hurricane winds generated by the helo trying to launch him over the side. The downdraft from an MS60 exceeds 100 knots. He powered through the forces pushing him overboard and reached the safety of the ship's hangar. His platoon trailed behind with their uniforms stuck to their bodies by the strength of the rotor wash blowing down on the deck. Mr. Rob and Biff followed the team across the gray non-skid with Chief Dormann bringing up the rear. When the last team member was in the hangar, Josh turned back to watch the cargo transfer. The tie-down crew took a position to receive the cargo offload. He had spent a lot of time engaged in flight ops as a landing signals officer on USCGC SPENCER his first cutter out of the Academy. He was familiar with the operation.
Once the Pax transfer was complete, the crew chief retrieved the fast rope and started the equipment transfer by a winch. He moved black duffle bags and Pelican cases to waiting hands on the cutter. The crew retrieved each piece of gear with a grounding rod to prevent static electricity buildup before it impacted the steel surface of the flight deck. When an equipment bag landed, the tie-down crew fought through the wind to move it inside the skin of the ship, until they finished the offload. For the opportunity to lose your life in a helo mishap, each crew member received an extra $150 in their pay allotment, provided they got eight landings or takeoffs in a month.
"Shark 914, Reaper 1. Mission complete. Request permission to depart?"
"Reaper 1, Shark 914. You are cleared to depart to port. Red Deck."
"Roger, Shark 914. Good hunting." Reaper 1 gained altitude and banked hard to port.
Josh surveyed the hangar. Not much had changed. It felt like home. Bungee cords fixed a Bowflex machine in the middle of the compartment, and the crew stowed two exercise bikes and one elliptical machine in the corner. In addition to being a hangar, it doubled as an exercise room, if the cutter was not carrying a helicopter and detachment. Overhead was a 60' x 60' cargo net holding about 300 orange life preservers for use in migrant operations. There also was a supply of blankets, beans and rice, a tarp for shelter, and two portable toilets. Josh turned right at the sound of a passageway door banging open to see the ship's XO, LCDR Jeff Davis, bound through the door into the aviation space.
"Jesus H. Christ. Look what the cat dragged in, and out of uniform." LCDR Davis was a former Academy rower with short blond hair, a full mustache, and a Scandinavian complexion. "Glad to see you boys made it out of the helo. The H60 always kicks up a lot of wind."
"Afternoon, XO. Thanks for letting us come on board." Josh shook hands with the XO. "This is my team chief, Dick Dormann."
"Morning, Sir." Chief Dormann extended his hand.
LCDR Davis shook his hand. "Welcome aboard, Chief. What can we do to help? We don't have much of a mission brief other than receiving you folks and providing whatever assistance you need."
"XO, we'd like to stow our gear in the aviation stateroom and the hangar," Josh said. "We're required to complete weapon and equipment checks, and we'd also...