the WESTERN FRONT
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events in this novel are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously; any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Archer Garrett.
All Rights Reserved.
No Part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, copied or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
1 Chron. 29:13
My wife, for her patience during this project.
Nick Pagano at www.thinkdesignblog.com, for the cover artwork.
Questions and comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit me on the web: www.acotwf.blogspot.com
Other Works by Archer Garrett :
The Western Front Series:
Book 1: The Western Front (Parts 1-3)
Book 2: Kratocracy
Book 3: Crescent City (prequel)
Book 4: the Nine of the North
* * *
The Blighted Series
the Blighted, Book 1
the Blighted, Book 2 (to be released Summer 2013)
* * *
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
Table of Contents
The south Texas sun had long since been replaced by the dull light of the harvest moon, but the day’s arid temperatures still lingered. The bright orange disk in the night sky appeared so close that one might reach out and touch it. The wind had refused to blow for days, only serving to amplify the heat. Despite the miserable conditions, they were relieved. This would be their final patrol before they returned to their redoubt on the tip of South Padre Island for a much-needed respite. The members of the Texas State Guard’s First Regiment were indeed soldiers, but few of them had real combat experience prior to this. The Alamo Guards were mostly known for their work in the aftermath of hurricanes and occasional support on the border. They took their new role in stride, as best they could, but none of the men in the squad had signed up for action like this. They had removed their name tapes early in the operation after reports surfaced that some of the soldiers’ families had received death threats. Now, they communicated strictly with code names.
The three-story adobe-style mansion rested on two acres just north of Lasara. It had served as their forward operating base for the past week. The estate was surrounded by fallow fields on three sides and the small southwestern town to the south. The view atop the high, flat roof was better than anywhere else for miles. The home’s cast-in-place concrete walls provided excellent protection from small-arms fire, and the surrounding eight-foot, brick wall afforded them additional cover and security. In short, it was as perfect a location as was available. They wondered who the previous owner was, and if there would ever be a time when he could return. Pictures still hung on the walclass="underline" group shots while on vacation, during holidays and other important moments in the life of the now displaced family that once dwelled there.
The owner’s decision to install an indoor swimming pool was now a welcome reprieve for the weary soldiers, and a boost to morale in between patrols. It helped wash away the memories of the south Texas heat, and fierce gun battles with men known for their vicious treatment of prisoners. The Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel had formed an uneasy alliance to push the gringos north. Once the Americans were sufficiently broken, the cartels would divide the spoils and territory amongst themselves. The Z-G, as they were commonly referred to as now, had developed a brutal reputation for flaying prisoners alive. This infamy had resulted in a mass exodus of locals.
The unit’s squad leader, now referred to simply as Barrett, leaned over the billiards table in the salon. He examined several aerial, topographic and road maps spread out haphazardly in front of him. Several of his officers stood on either side of him and discussed the specifics of their final patrol.
“…Our scouts’ve observed several hostile vehicles around Raymondville not long ago. The Z-G rarely practice light discipline, so they should be easy enough to locate. We head out in two hours; be ready. We’ll locate, identify and engage the targets, if they are, in fact, Z-G. Remember, all radio chatter is to be in coded Spanish. If our communication is being monitored by them, or anyone else, hopefully it’ll sound like just another narco squabble over the airwaves. We’re more likely to avoid a third party encounter or reinforcements that a’way. I want redundant checks on all equipment, especially the infrared lighting on the Humvees. This is our last night on vacation and we don’t need any surprises. We’ve lost too many squads already, and I’m particularly partial to this one.”
At 2100 hours, the sixteen guardsmen quietly pulled out of their lavish forward operating base and into the disputed borderlands that was once south Texas. The mood of the men was probably not unlike the mood of a different group of Texans in a small, Spanish mission nearly two hundred years prior. Barrett had even taken his namesake from a kindred soul that had fought and died in that same mission. Their plight was not much different from their ancestors’ either.