A SEAL's Desire

By: Tawny Weber

1

“RIDE ’EM, COWBOY.”

The cheer rang out across the sun-fried desert, making Petty Officer Christian Laramie grin as he blinded the second security camera perched high atop a rocky cliff.

Of course, his grin was only on the inside. On the outside, he was too busy rappelling down a hundred-foot vertical drop. With nary a crease or crevice in the sheer stone, he had to rely on the soles of his boots to control his descent.

He barely saw the laser flash in time to jerk to the left and kick into a spin. He circled too fast to see where the shot had come from, so could only judge by its trajectory. Close. Too close. Instead of wasting time trying to figure it out, or worse, having to dodge more fire, Laramie unhooked the D ring from his harness, tightened his grip and risked fast-roping the last twenty feet.

Not as easy as it would have been if nobody were shooting at him. Granted, the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Sensor gear meant the hits wouldn’t be fatal. But that wasn’t the point.

Because he was already free from his harness, the minute Laramie’s boots hit the ground, he rolled for cover. Crouched behind a large boulder, he jerked his shoulders to shed some of the sand. This was a communication-free maneuver, so he had no headset, couldn’t ask his teammates for input. Instead, he listened carefully.

There. To the west, the sound of fabric on stone. Laramie angled his head around his boulder, assessing. Miles of hot sand were interspersed with rock formations, some tall, some wide. He watched the grouping to the west, eyes narrowed. Not on the rocks themselves, but on the sand to their left.

And booyah.

A shadow.

Grinning this time, Laramie kept to the rocks, skirting around behind the shadow’s cluster and coming up behind.

He didn’t need to see the man’s face to know who he was up against. The man’s size said it all. Laramie took a second to calculate how he was going to take down a man a good thirty pounds heavier and a hell of a lot more experienced than he was.

He had no doubt he could do it.

The calculations were simply to figure out how to do it fast, before he lost the element of surprise. He didn’t have a clear shot from here, and if he moved he’d be spotted. So he went for the dive, low and fast to hit the man’s knees. The element of surprise didn’t last more than that, if the fist that swung around at his face was any indication.

The fight was down and dirty, each man struggling to hold the other and reach for their weapon. Laramie got a grip on his, pulled the SIG from the holster strapped to his thigh, but a swift chop to his hand sent it flying. He let it go, and using that brief moment of distraction, Laramie used an armbar manipulation to bring the other man’s face to the ground, where he pinned him with a choke hold.

Knowing a captive was worth twice as many points as a dead body, Laramie dug in his heels and, choke hold still in place, shifted to bring himself and his combatant to their feet. About halfway up, though, the guy made as if he’d lost his balance. The move pulled them both forward into a roll, with Laramie hitting the ground, back first. He was on his feet in time to watch the other man finish his own flight through the air, land with a thud, then twist to roll to his feet in a single smooth move that Laramie had to admire.

Until he saw the pistol in the guy’s hand.

For a guy with the call sign Auntie, Castillo was one hell of a fighter.

Laramie grinned.

His eyes locked on the weapon, he anchored his hand to the rock, bending low and taking a deep breath as if the fight had left him winded.

He came up with a jump round kick, sending the gun flying. He feinted a palm heel strike to the face, wrapped his arm around the man’s neck and took them both to the ground. Before they hit, he had the knife out of his boot and carefully pressed the dull side to the man’s neck, tapping the sensor on his laser-engagement device to sound the hit.

As he did, a loud beeping sounded, then an air horn blared loud and shocking in the gritty air.

“Calling the win.”

“That means you’re dead,” Laramie said, as he reached out a hand to the body on the ground. “And you owe me a beer.”

“Dude, what’s with the backup blade?” Clasping Laramie’s outstretched hand to lever himself to his feet, Castillo gave the dirt on his fatigues a quick slap, then threw his arm over Laramie’s shoulder.

Now that the battle was won, they were teammates again. The sixteen-man platoon had split into two, each side battling “to the death” to test some new equipment. Laramie, O’Brian and Eckhart had led their side against Castillo, Morelli and Thorne’s team.

“Know your enemy. I figured your team would have some heavy hitters and I’d need everything I could bring to the game,” Laramie explained with a shrug. “That, and I saw the sheath inside the new boots and figured I’d try it out.”

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