Someone on Blogging 101 suggested I add some snippets from my chapters–an excellent idea! I’ll post things that my reviewers have particularly liked, so it will vary from scenery, character, and perhaps a bit of the dialogue.
What is The Kurdish Connection About?
Iraqi Kurdish freedom fighters have uncovered a cache of chemical weapons left over from the previous regime. Wanting to see a united Kurdistan nation, they offer these weapons to fellow Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The newly formed Bedlam Alpha team is rushed into service to head off further regional turmoil by locating and recovering these weapons. However, can they manage to do this while keeping the operation entirely hidden and without igniting further clashes? Team leader Cameron Craig MacTavish heads a small international team into the three countries to try to recover these weapons before they cause irreparable harm.
Prologue (will eventually be part of Chapter 1)
The softening of Halabja ended.
A cacophony of sound burst over the city—jet engines and a strange whistling sound like metal falling onto the ground. “Gas,” someone shouted. People panicked, trampling one another to find a place to shelter.
The aroma of sweet apples and the pungent odor of rotten eggs spread across the city. Birds began falling from the sky, small animals and later larger ones, sank to the ground. Nothing and no one was spared—humans collapsed, never to move again.
Dersim kept a safe distance from the exposed artillery shell he’d found the day before. Once past, he stopped to pull his tattered coat tighter around his slender body. Although the morning was bright and sunny, the wind brought chilly air and a hint of rain from the nearby mountains.
Dersim and Hawre began loading Dersim’s dilapidated Turkish BMC truck with salvage they’d recovered during the previous three days, mainly metal: lead, steel, iron, and on a rare occasion, copper. The truck sagged on broken springs. Cracks spider-webbed the windshield, and the paintwork was so faded it was difficult to recognize any of the original colors.
“You must swear by Allah never to say a word of what I’m going to tell you. If you promise, come see me. Now. At my house. … Swear by Allah, disaster could occur. This is the most important secret.”
Easing the vehicle back onto the road, Dersim continued his journey, albeit a bit slower. He ate a couple of green apples as he sang a song made famous by the Kurdish musician, Ali Merdann. Dersim knew most of Merdan’s songs, but Xalan forbade him singing in the house.
“Dersim, I realize you like to sing, and I like music,” Xalan said on several occasions. “But your voice… is not so nice.”
Babir unlocked the front door. They wove through narrow aisles stuffed with a hodgepodge of bins and barrels containing Iranian pistachios, dried hot peppers, various spices, and dried fruits. The aroma of garlic, saffron, and mint floated through the air.
“We need to help all Kurdish people, not just the ones in Iraq,” Dersim said.
“Yes,” Babir said. “We all believe that one day there will be a sovereign Kurdistan. Only one person can make it happen—Abdullah Öcalan.”
“But he’s in a Turkish prison,” Ismet said.
“That’s true,” Babir replied. “However, the Council will guide us. They want him released as well. There isn’t anyone better suited to unify Kurdistan. When I return to Zakho, I’ll talk to Mullah Mala. He’ll know what to do. I’ll call you when the meeting is arranged.”
Dersim carefully drove along one of the cobbled streets into the bazaar. Every driver had to be on alert; children ran everywhere while goats and sheep wandered aimlessly. The bazaar was alive with a cacophony of sound: horns blaring, vendors hawking their wares, and radios playing. Bright-colored canopies created shade for the various stalls, while along the edge of the bazaar, old, wood buildings stood like sentries. Some buildings were newly painted in pastel colors while others were in need of serious repairs.
Mullah Ahmed raised his hands to stop the chatter. He turned to Dersim. “Where is Ismet? I thought he’d be here, too.”
Dersim looked at him with a puzzled expression. I thought you gave instructions for Ismet to go to Syria. Why the question?
As Mullah Ahmed stared at Dersim, he realized the mullah was putting on an act. He was uncertain what the mullah was up to, but decided to go along, for now.
Mufti Tanreveri’s eyes narrowed as he intensely surveyed each man in the room. He proclaimed: “Our first objective remains to free Öcalan. Under his guidance, we can proceed to our final objective, a united Kurdistan, even if it means war.”
CC, woke to the William Tell Overture ringing near his ear. He rolled over and scooped up his smartphone. “Yeah?”
“Confirm full name,” a lifeless voice said.
“Cameron Craig MacTavish.”
“Tatties, neeps, and haggis.”
“Identity confirmed. Proceed immediately to Bedlam.” The line went dead.
CC realized, after a few hours of deliberation, that he missed the excitement and danger of Army life. He had been deployed undercover to Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His fifteen years of action, training, and more action had left him an adrenaline junkie, hooked as bad as any addict on skid row. No wife, no kids to worry about. He called the general. “If the offer’s still on the table, I’m in.”
“Unfortunately, we think there are some leaks in the system. Unrelated information that should be kept within the IC is showing up through foreign sources where we wouldn’t expect to see it. Until I’m convinced this is a coincidence and not coming from a hidden mole, I want to keep your operation to a very strict need-to-know basis.”
“Admiral, what’s in nine days?” Jake asked before anyone else could respond.
“March 16th—Halabja Day, the day all Kurds commemorate Saddam’s bombardment of the city with chemical weapons.”
Complete silence enveloped the room. Even the clock stopped ticking as if it understood the admiral’s announcement.
CC tossed and turned as his mind kept going over the day’s events. He thought about other missions and the men he had lost. It dawned on him that this deployment was no different, just a smaller team. Dear God, help me do the right things at the right time to lead this team and keep them from harm. Protect them from the perils we could face and guide us to a successful outcome. Amen.
The taxi weaved across every lane of traffic and even onto the sidewalk to avoid several sheep. Jake, sitting in front, closed his eyes and prayed the journey would be over soon. A few minutes later, the taxi slid to a stop in front of the hotel. Wide-eyed passengers bailed out, thankful to be alive. Jake took it in stride, having lived in Baghdad before, but he too was glad when they safely arrived at their destination.
Alpha this is Aussie.
Made it. Shaken and stirred.
Alpha this is Kiwi.
In position—Baggage missing in action. ETA two to three days.
As Ben shut down his computer, a huge explosion shattered windows and rocked the building. The lights dimmed, then glowed so brightly Ben thought they would explode, and then everything went dark.
“What the hell was that?
The officer reviewed the document, handed it back to Dersim, and climbed into the truck. Suddenly they heard the squeal of air brakes as a double tractor-trailer careened around the curve, the driver trying to avoid the stopped vehicles and the spilled load. The tractor tipped precariously as it swung outward until the tires gained a purchase on stretch of dry road—the trailers’ weight helping to pull it back down. The behemoth came to rest with its bumper kissing the back of Dersim’s truck.
He slammed on his brakes but hit a patch of fuel and went into a skid. The police officer, eyes wide, froze in place as the truck headed toward him. Dersim tightened his hold on the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. He pumped the brakes and downshifted. The truck’s tires gripped the asphalt and came to a stop inches from the petrified police officer.
© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.