Out of breath. Blood dripping from his helmet… John Gabriel Warden is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma. Standing in the middle of a dimly lit kitchen, Warden happens upon a discovery that will change his life, and the lives of his teammates forever. Will he turn away, or will he act upon this unbelievable find that most others would shy away from? The problem is, Warden is a United States Marine who is standing in a mansion that belonged to the former dictator during the red hot Invasion of Iraq.
In this thriller, Warden will have to circumvent more than the enemy in a daring journey to keep his discovery secret, and safe until the time is right. He must put his life, and the lives of his teammates on the line to reach their goal. Warden must travel across the globe in this action packed adventure, and he finds that no where is safe. Time after time, Warden and his companions will have to reaffirm their will to continue on, after facing one daunting obstacle after the other. Will merely surviving be enough to see their dream turn into reality? Warden is determined to finish what he, and his friends started.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-99
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom 1, the Invasion of Iraq. I was in the Marine Corps, and remembered hearing stories about other service members discovering gold, money, and other treasures in Iraqi palaces. My fellow Marines and I talked about what we would do in that same situation. Would we keep it, would we turn it in. How we would get it home, or how we would spend it. We never would have kept any money, but the idea of finding 100’s of millions of dollars, and becoming rich was a very captivating for a bunch of 18-20 year olds.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I created my characters out of thin air. I did incorporate traits, features, or bio info from people I knew in the past. Or even from myself. I did that as little as possible though. I wanted to create real people, not super humans with the combined attributes of 20 men. I wanted them to be regular guys, who are very relate-able.
Warden approached the door and looked at the check point. No doubt Madson and Marcs were worried. He looked back and saw Diaz as he made it to the front door. Warden drew in a deep breath, and knocked.
“Housekeeping, anybody home?” Warden asked.
He instantly regretted his decision. His thoughts started to flash by a million miles per hour in his head. He thought that he shouldn’t have come up with this plan. They shouldn’t have went across the bridge. And he should’ve just went back to the checkpoint instead of knocking. Damn, damn, damn he thought as he heard footsteps on the other side. Maybe he could still leave. The doors weren’t open yet. He saw a faint light in the window by the door, and figured the caretaker had a candle. And since he was at the door with the light, it was too late to turn back now. Warden got over his fear and knocked again lightly on the door.
“Hello in there,” Warden said.
He could hear the footsteps stop. Warden started to think that the caretaker was kind of surprised. The last thing he’d expect was an American knocking at this hour. Warden saw the door knob turn, and was relieved to see the door crack open. He saw a face and a white shirt, but no weapons.
“Open up friend, you got guests. Didn’t you get our RSVP’s?” Warden asked.
Diaz walked up, and stood by Warden. He seemed to have gained some courage, and put his fear aside. Good, that’d help boost Warden’s confidence level up. Because he felt nervous while standing there in the dark.
“Don’t be rude, invite us in bro! I’m freezing,” Diaz said.
Warden didn’t know if the Iraqi knew English or not, so he just stepped forward. The Iraqi then took a step back, and opened the door all the way. Warden saw the candle, and candle holder in the Iraqis hand. He held the truncheon from a leather strap with the same hand that he held the candle with. He was wearing light colored boxers, a white shirt, and house slippers. The man was about 5’8, and around 160 lbs. Interesting, he was well fed and had a solid build. This man had military written all over him. And judging by the black bushy mustache, he was probably Republican Guard. Warden assumed that the elite forces all tried to look like Rayiys Sharib by growing a mustache like his.
As they entered, the Iraqi turned and walked towards the kitchen. With no other option, they followed to see what would happen.
“Now what?” Diaz asked.
“Follow my lead,” Warden said.
In the kitchen, the Iraqi pointed to a chair at the kitchen table, but Warden shook his head no. He pointed at the truncheon.
“No thanks man. But you can go ahead, and put that bad boy down,” Warden said.
The Iraqi looked at the truncheon, and back at Warden. He took the candle with his free hand. Warden and Diaz both gripped their rifles, and prepared to bring them up to shoot. The Iraqi sat the truncheon on the counter top, and looked back at Warden.
“See, now we’re cooking. Go ahead, and have a seat bud. We got a bit of a surprise inspection to do. It might take a few minutes, so just relax,” Warden said.
He pointed at the chair and then he pointed at the Iraqi. Then he made a sitting motion and pointed again.
“What about crossing his legs while he sits on the floor? With his hands on his head?” Diaz asked.
Warden shook his head no. This guy was compliant, and knew who his new bosses were. There’d be no need for theatrics.
“Go ahead, and comb through this mansion. Starting with the living room. Open every drawer. If anything looks out of place, search it. Open every door, look every behind painting. Everything. Make your way upstairs, then come back here. Try to be thorough, but don’t take your time either,” Warden said.
“Got it bro, if you need anything yell,” Diaz said.
Diaz looked at the Iraqi then he walked out of the kitchen. With that, Warden turned to face the Iraqi. He stood with his rifle slung across his torso, but pointed down. He casually held the rifle in his hands.
The Iraqi caretaker looked slightly puzzled, but sat calmly in the chair. At least he wasn’t fidgety, or getting upset. So they could just wait for Diaz to finish. Warden didn’t want to talk any more than he had too anyways. What if this guy knew English, but wasn’t letting on? The guy could be playing dumb. He stood a few feet away from the Iraqi so if the Iraqi decided to lunge at Warden, he’d have time to react.
After five minutes, Diaz poked his head in the room and looked at the Iraqi, and then at Warden. Seeing that everything was ok, he continued.
“There’s nothing down stairs. This guy made himself at home, but it’s the usual house stuff. Plus his personal gear like clothes and all that jazz. Heading upstairs bro. Wish me luck,” Diaz said.
“Luck,” Warden said.
Warden watched Diaz’s head disappear from the kitchen as he turned to run up the stairs. Warden saw movement from the corner of his eye. He didn’t even have time to turn his head towards the caretaker.
He didn’t have time to think. He side stepped to the rear with his left foot, and pivoted with his right foot. As he side stepped and pivoted, he brought his rifle butt up with his right hand, pulling the front of the rifle over his left shoulder with his left hand. He was going to butt stroke the Iraqi in the side of the head. The Iraqi’s hands were out though, and he grabbed Warden’s rifle butt. He also grabbed Warden’s right forearm as they came up. The Iraqi closed the distance before Warden could fully swing the rifle. His body slammed into the rifle and both the rifle, and the Iraqi slammed into Warden’s body.
Warden was standing sideways, so he didn’t fall down. But he was pushed back hard into the wall. His back was to the wall as the Iraqi did his best to try to pin him against it, and to keep him from moving. As he struggled with Warden, the Iraqi was trying to push the rifle into Warden’s throat. He’d pin Warden, and strangle him against the wall with his own weapon. Warden was trying to push the Iraqi away with all of his strength. All of the sudden, the Iraqi quickly stepped back, and tried to pull the rifle away from Warden. Warden was jerked forward away from the wall, but didn’t fall down.
Warden was able to maintain his balance because he outweighed the Iraqi, especially with all of his combat gear on. As Warden walked forward with the rifle being pulled away from him, Warden pulled the rifle back towards himself, and brought his left foot up. He leaned back as he pulled, and kicked forward with his foot.
In a flash, Warden pointed the sole of his boot at the Iraqi’s groin area, and launched it into him. The Iraqi was too close for a good kick, but it did push his lower body and legs back. As he kicked forward into the Iraqi, Warden renewed his attempt at pulling the rifle towards him. He also lowered his head.
With his legs being kicked back, and away from under him the Iraqi lost his balance. He was still trying to pull the rifle from Warden’s grip when he got kicked, so the Iraqi’s top half started to fall forward. Warden pulled the rifle hard towards his own chest, and that set the Iraqi’s face on a course towards Warden’s lowered head. The Iraqi’s face crashed into Warden’s Kevlar helmet.
Warden felt the Iraqi’s forehead smash against his helmet with a loud and painful thud noise. At that moment, he pushed forward using all of his strength. Even though the Iraqi had blood spilling from a gash in his forehead, he didn’t let go of the weapon.
Oh shit, Warden thought. This guy might be serious. A lot of other people would have let go, and went to protect their face. Or passed out. This guy was still in the fight. The Iraqi wasn’t at full strength though. Warden could feel the Iraqi’s grip loosen on the rifle, and saw that he was somewhat stunned.
Warden lifted his left foot up higher this time, and brought the sole of his boot into the stomach of the Iraqi in a forceful forward kick. This caused the Iraqi to fall backwards, and release the rifle as Warden pulled back on the rifle with all his might.
As the Iraqi fell backwards to the ground, Warden ran forward. He slid to a stop near the side of the Iraqi, and stomped on the guys’ chest. As the Iraqi tried to sit up while holding his chest, Warden kicked him as hard as he could in the ribs. The Iraqi rolled onto his side to protect his torso, leaving his head wide open. Warden stomped on the side of the Iraqis head, making the Iraqis head slam into the floor. The Iraqi man cried out, and grabbed his head. But didn’t make any effort to move, or to get up. Warden tensed, and brought his rifle up to shoot as Diaz came sliding into the kitchen with his rifle held up.
“What the fuck man, this dude jumped me! What took you so long?” Warden asked.
Warden lowered his rifle, and bent over. He needed to catch his breath. He felt sick to his stomach, and his legs were shaking.
“You didn’t yell! I was running up the steps to get the search over. I didn’t hear anything. Not til I got to the top. Then I had to stop, and listen to be sure. I heard you guys wrestling around, so I had to start running back down the stairs. And I almost fell, and busted my ass. You got him though, good for you bro,” Diaz said.
“Yeah, this fucker… I should kick his teeth in. There was a split second there when he almost pulled the rifle out, and I would been fucked. He also damn near pinned me to the wall with the rifle against my fuckin throat,” Warden said.
The Iraqi moaned and held the side of his head. He was coherent, but didn’t look like he had any fight left in him.
“So what now?” Diaz asked.
“Watch that fucker. If he looks like he may move to get up? Kick his face in,” Warden said.
Warden was bent over with his hands on his knees, taking deep breaths, because he used so much energy. He looked over, and decided that he earned a seat in a chair. He walked over, and sat down with his rifle laying on his lap.
“Oh my God man… I can’t believe that just happened. That was something out of a movie… I know we train for this and all that… But I never ever had to fight for my life before,” Warden said.
“You alright bro?” Diaz asked.
“No man… That was intense! He almost killed me. It was an actual struggle! Sure we wrestle back at Lejeune. And put on sparring gloves, and helmets so we can box. Or try to tap each other out when we do sustainment. But that guy wanted to literally take my life. I actually just fought a bad guy hand to hand… I think I need a moment, or something. My legs are like jello, the adrenalin is running out. I think I just drained all the strength from all of my muscles,” Warden said.
“Maybe you should carry an e-tool, and hit the next one over the head with it,” Diaz said.
Diaz looked at his friend sitting at the table, and felt like shit for not getting there in time to help. And he felt worried that Warden may have been affected too heavily by the fight.
“Next time? No I think next time I’m gonna zip tie the person’s hands behind them. Then I’m gonna put a sand bag over their head,” Warden said.
“Yeah. That is the standard operating procedure for enemy prisoners of war. But at least you whooped his ass. You shoulda butt stroked him, or something though,” Diaz said.
“You think! Man I tried to butt stroke him. I stepped back, and pivoted. Swung my rifle and everything. I shoulda taken his jaw off,” Warden said.
“How’d you miss?” Diaz asked.
“The guy closed the distance as I was swinging. Before I could hit him, he was on me. Then I couldn’t hit him with my swing, or anything. He slammed against me, and pinned me to the wall,” Warden said.
“Damn I thought butt stroking was easy,” Diaz said.
“I guess it is if you’re both standing still. And he just waits for me to swing. But seeing how he’s a human not wanting to get hit, not a stationary armless dummy or heavy bag? He only had to move a lil bit. He could’ve ducked, and I could have tried to smash my rifle butt into his face as he came up. Or something like that. Anything if he just stood still, or stood back. But he was smart enough to run at me, and he took the rifle out of action. Fuck!!!!! Damn. Well. Ok enough of this shit. Let’s get back to business. I’m ready for this shit to be done with man,” Warden said.
Warden stood up, and stretched. He was tired of talking about the life, and death struggle. He needed to put it behind him.
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