by C.J. Wells
story by Andrew G. Watters
An exchange officer from the Australian SAS experiences a moral dilemma implicating the full spectrum of honor, duty, loyalty, and country on a controversial mission with his American counterparts.
The gentle whirring of jet turbines fades in to a black screen. In the blind belly of this C-17, all anyone hears for conversation is a whisper.
Click. A set of quad-tube night vision goggles turns on, turning blackness into a green panoramic glow. LIAM and his colleagues emerge, packaged in their HALO gear and sling chairs along the sides of the aircraft. The cargo section is occupied; a loadmaster triple-checks the ATV’s and motorcycles in their stealth enclosures, and a bunch of netted equipment pallets carrying angry-looking black cases rest further up the deck.
Liam, our window into this black mission, turns next to him. ARMIE’s IR-activated American flag patch flashes patriotic. The Australian doesn’t care; he salutes his own flag first, just like everyone else on this aircraft. The Americans are just observers here, even if they get to shoot to kill…