Prelude (An Alec Winters Series, Book 1)

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Chapter 21

In the meantime, Alec’s army career had begun with ten weeks of basic training at Fort Knox in Louisville, Kentucky. He not only passed, but also excelled at everything thrown at him during the grueling training. While others groaned and complained, he kept his head down and concentrated on the finish line. Life in New Orleans was only a distant memory as he worked hard to dispel the suspicions and gossip that had been synonymous with his name back home. Army life was the fresh start he craved and he took full advantage of it.

“You’ve got a medical aptitude, boy!” Sergeant Willis announced at the end of the first obstacle course known as boot camp. “Seems like the army wants you trained at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Your orders are for a ten-month Special Operations Combat Medic Course. You leave in two days. Let’s see how well you do there!”

By the time Alec had completed his medic training, Sabrina, Chaz, and Danaé were on a private senior trip to the Grand Bahamas. After witnessing the outlandish abuse at the graduation ceremony, the Lamberts paid for Chaz and his two friends to enjoy a couple of weeks away from the city at their timeshare. It was the last occasion that the trio would be together because Danaé left right after that for Rhode Island.

Alec was fully qualified to offer medical treatment to wounded soldiers. He accompanied army units during training and deployments to provide initial emergency medical care and to assist physicians on the battlefield or in military installations. Although he was technically a field medic, and received the Combat Medical Badge for saving lives during live action, Alec proved himself through bravery. He ran into the gunfire to rescue injured soldiers. His courage served him and his wounded comrades very well.

“Who’s your best medic?” Chief Warrant Officer-4 Joey Atwood asked.

“That’d be Alec Winters over there,” Sergeant Jones pointed.

“He’s your best medic, but is he any good with weapons? Is he fearless?” Atwood briskly questioned.

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Every army unit wants him on their team. He has a way about him that makes being deployed feel safe. Take a look at him yourself…You can’t miss him. He’s the one with the brightest blue eyes you’ll ever see. Some of the soldiers even call him ‘angel eyes.’ They openly admit that miracles happen when he’s around.”

“He sounds like the man I need,” Atwood replied. After several long moments of looking over Alec and reviewing his records, Atwood boisterously proclaimed, “I like him. I want him on my team.”

“Better get in line, Sir. There’s a lot of brass ahead of you already on the list to get him,” Sergeant Jones advised.

“That’s all right,” Atwood replied. “I usually have a way of getting what I need.”

That was all that it took. Immediately, Alec Winters became a valued member of Atwood’s counter-intelligence operations.

“Who is that guy?” Alec asked when he got his new orders.

“He’s the closest thing the army has to a spook,” Sergeant Jones responded. “That crazy bastard is the one who slips behind enemy lines to extract critical intelligence. He finds out where and when a target will be, and then he moves in like a ghost to get them.”

Later that week, Alec met with Bubba and Willy in the armory. As Private First Class (PFC), Alec supervised weapons assembly for Private Second Class (PV2) soldiers.

“We heard you got some new orders, Sir,” Bubba commented.

“Yep, I’ve been assigned to Chief Warrant Officer Atwood’s detachment.”

“That’s a crack-pot team of ten soldiers who do some crazy shit,” Willy commented.

“What do you know about them?” Alec asked.

“I heard some of the officers talking while I had KP duty,” Willy replied. The other soldiers grew quiet and the metal gun parts ceased to click as Willy continued, “Atwood is some kind of genius. The army recruited him during his second year at Georgia Tech. It seems he’s real quiet, but crazy smart. Get this, his parents taught him to be a ‘free thinker.’ That’s a really valuable asset to the army right now.”

“Are you saying he’s a hippie?” Bubba threw out. “Was he home-schooled?” Loud snickers chased the sarcasm.

“You can laugh all you want, but no, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying he is very peculiar. He solves problems because of the way his folks raised him. He thinks outside the box and the army uses his talent to get certain jobs done, if you know what I mean,” Willy tried to explain. “He plans his missions based on the information gathered from regular intelligence sources, but he uses counter-intelligence methods to detect and stop terrorist threats…to get what he’s really after. They say he is a true patriot and that he’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

“What else did you hear?” Alec inquired.

“I heard that for a thirty-five year old, he has the respect of the White House. I also heard that he trains the Navy Seals, Marines, and CIA in martial arts. I heard he’s the guy you send to kill James Bond…Isn’t that enough?” Willy proclaimed.

“You’re either the luckiest bastard here or the unluckiest, Alec,” Bubba added. “Not sure I can envy your new assignment, but you’ll certainly have more opportunities to see the world.”

During his twenty plus years of service, Alec completed college and studied every close-hand combat technique and tactic his commanding officer suggested. His team, inserted into every major US military conflict from 1993 to 2012, convened in Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan to await their instructions. Orders to kidnap this diplomat or rescue that dignitary soon followed.

Alec’s primary job was to attend to the injuries of nine other soldiers on his team. On only one occasion did he treat Joey Atwood’s injuries. Dropped in by helicopter, the team stealthily moved into Afghanistan. As they slipped quietly through the night on foot, Atwood was shot in the left shoulder just below the clavicle from a rapid burst of artillery fire. A mortar blast separated him from the rest of the soldiers. Joey was pinned down and none of the other men could reach him. Alec rushed into the ensuing live action to get Joey. After dragging him to safety, Alec removed the bullet.

“You’re a crazy son-of-a-bitch,” Joey commented. “You could’ve gotten yourself killed. You should’ve let the team pick me up on the way back.”

“You’re the only one who can identify the target, Sir,” Alec reminded. “We needed you.”

“True,” Joey conceded. “Still, that was pretty ballsy of you to rush into the fray like that to get my sorry ass. You were like a blur of white light or something…not sure how to describe that.”

“You’d do the same,” Alec concluded ignoring the reference to his angelic persona.

It was also Alec’s job to patch up any wounds sustained after the capture and torture of extracted informants and prisoners. It didn’t matter how brave or how well trained these captives were, they all talked by the time Atwood got through with them. They all needed medical attention too…if they survived the interrogation.

Due in part to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Alec’s detachment also landed on domestic soil from time to time such as in the Oklahoma City bombing, the Waco, Texas siege of the David Koresh group, Branch Davidians, and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The Posse Comitatus Act, which initially was put into effect to limit the powers of the federal government, prohibited military occupation by U.S. troops in former Confederate states by the U.S. Army during Reconstruction. After the violence and fraud disputes during the Presidential election of 1876, stopping federal interference was a big deal.

Although revised and amended several times, the Act was used primarily in conjunction with the Enforcement Acts. It was a tool used by the President to call up troops whenever the state authorities were either unable or unwilling to suppress violence and opposition to the constitutional rights of the people.

Although he would never discuss his activities while in the army, the strategies Alec learned to kill an opponent served him well. He had plenty of opportunities to use those killing methods while serving in other states and countries. There were pedophiles, rapist, murderers, serial killers, and sexual predators worldwide. Although he was the first international redeemer in the Saguache family, no matter where stationed, Alec prowled the streets during his free time to punish men and women for their heinous crimes against children and innocent victims. Without mercy, he destroyed the ones who took advantage of the helpless, hopeless, and fragile. He redeemed the ones who prayed for a savior and feared their prayers went unanswered.

By the time Alec was thirty-three years old, he had attained full adult stature. He was solidly built, fit, and muscular at six feet tall. Weighing two hundred pounds assured that his biceps and thighs were thick and hard. Without flexing, his abdominal muscles were strong and well-developed. Alec’s most remarkable feature was striking, aquamarine eyes, but even those often disappeared behind sandy-brown lashes when he grinned. Alec, satisfied with his life, and away from the slanderous reports in his hometown, grinned a lot.

He was especially happy as he marked off the months and years before his permanent return to Sabrina, his family, and the city he loved. Although he missed them very much, he only returned to New Orleans once a year and never at the same time. It was an effort to protect the ones he loved. Any hint of his presence caused a new outbreak of reporting that invariably rehashed his father’s death and renewed the public’s hostile, insulting speculations about that night. To avert such chaos and spare them, Alec used various disguises during his annual visits. Knowing that, if spotted at the Carrollton Avenue home, a nosy neighbor would alert the press he was forced to meet Cassidy and Sabrina at other venues. To see Catalina, he called Madeline O’Day. The understanding guard allowed Alec to slip in the back entrance to see his sister.

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