Posts Tagged ‘Special Forces’

dan-maturedDan could see the light covering of snow out the windows of the plane as it touched down at Budapest airport. He listened with one ear to the repeated exhortations by the purser for the passengers to stay in their seats and estimated the minutes until he could sneak a fag. No matter how many times he had to chew those nicotine gums, he still got the cravings during the bloody long flights.

At last, the plane taxied to the terminal and came to a shuddering halt, and Dan unbuckled his safety belt as the light went off.

He felt more anxious to get off the damned plane and into the city than usual. It wasn’t every day an old, scarred battleship like him would soon become…he couldn’t even think that word that should be impossible. The expected date was still a few weeks off: plenty of time to get used to the idea.

Dan went through the mercifully quick – for once, he wondered what was wrong – queues to the baggage claim and, after an extremely quick fag, was in the car sent by his usual hotel. He turned his phone on again, and as always, it took some time to pick up its messages, once it had started roaming. Eventually, a couple of messages from Kisa appeared on his screen. He sat up straight and tense at the first one, but then relaxed at the second. False alarm it said. She was still in the hospital, but only for observation – and, he figured, because she was a private patient with all expenses paid for by her husband’s annoying but conveniently wealthy family – and he should meet her there once he’d checked in.

The holiday traffic was irritatingly slow, not helped by the light, yet steady snowfall, but eventually Dan arrived at the hotel, where he was ushered through the check-in procedures with the courtesy and efficiency of a frequent guest. What he liked most about the country, and the hotel, and generally just about any place in Hungary, was that he could still smoke. Until January, he was told, but he wasn’t going to look a Christmas-gift-horse in the mouth.

A leisurely fag later, Dan arrived back at reception to wait for a taxi to the hospital. He’d picked up enough Hungarian over the years to have basic conversations, and while he wasn’t as quick on the language uptake as he had been, back in Afghanistan, he still had the knack for it.

The concierge indicated that the taxi had arrived and held the door open as Dan stepped out into the cold. The taxi-driver gave a semi-grunt of surprise at Dan’s request in Hungarian, but pulled out into the traffic, heading west. After a pause, he told Dan that it would be about forty-five minutes with the wet roads.

Dan nodded at that statement, comparing the increasingly falling snow and the white roads to one particularly harsh winter in the Afghan mountains…but he better not think about that freezing encounter, since Vadim wasn’t due to arrive for another two days, on Christmas eve.

Settling back in his seat, Dan watched the winter scene unfolding outside and told the driver to take his time if he needed to.

Dan was thumbing through his emails as the taxi exited the freeway and drove up the long drive to a large building, set in the middle of what looked like expansive grounds. This place looked less like a hospital, at least not from his fairly extensive experience, and more of a stately home.

He paid the driver, then took care when exiting the car. It would have been easier had he fitted his cane with the spike he’d acquired for winter weather, but while he was an old man according to most peoples’ standards, he wasn’t going to behave like one.

Dan snorted with amusement as the door was held open for him by a uniformed doorman. The serene marble-floored foyer wouldn’t have looked out of place at a fancy hotel. Nothing so plebeian as a nurse’s station, there was a long reception counter and a number of very comfortable sofas, mostly empty. This was pretty much like any hotel he’d ever known, and unlike any hospital he’d ever had the displeasure of staying in.

The immaculately coiffed receptionist smiled as he approached. “May I help you?” she asked, in American-accented English.

Dan flashed a smile. “I’m here to see my daughter, Kisa Krasnorada.”

The woman smiled in return and tapped something into her computer, frowning for a second while Dan remembered that Kisa might be using her married name. He was about to correct himself when she looked up and asked: “that would be Mrs Kisa Farkas?”

“Aye, that’s her. Sorry, I forgot her married name.”

The woman nodded. “Mr Daniel MacFadyen?” she asked. “Could I trouble you for some sort of photographic identification? I shall have someone show you to her wing.”

Dan’s brows shot up to his hairline, both at the ‘Daniel’ and at the request for ID. Particularly the latter, but he wasn’t going to cause a scene and had vowed to be the most well-behaved impending grandfather imaginable – there, he’d thought it. “Dan, it’s Dan McFadyen.” Still smiling his smile, albeit more strained now, he produced his passport proclaiming that ‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.’ Never had it been more apt, he figured.

The woman took it and typed a few more numbers in before returning the little dark red booklet. “Thank you. Lt. Farkas is still here, though Madame Krasnorada left half an hour ago.” Clearly they were used to delicate family relations here, and as Dan nodded, he was damned thankful for Katya having already left. Their truce didn’t mean he would ever forgive her for an unforgivable deed, despite the joy its consequence had brought.

“Miss Molnar will show you to the ward,” the receptionist added.

A second young woman appeared near the lift, seemingly from thin air.

Dan followed her after another polite nod at the receptionist, and was taken to a plush looking level.

Kisa’s room was at the far end of the corridor and, after what seemed like an endless stretch of immaculate off-white carpeted floor, Miss Molnar stopped in front of the door and pressed what seemed to be a doorbell.

After a few seconds, the door opened a crack, and then wide, as Jakab saw who it was.

Dan looked him up and down with an increasingly knowing smirk, since Kisa’s husband was leaner and more tanned than he’d been when Dan had seen him last, and considerably more muscular across chest and shoulders. “Been anywhere sunny lately?”

Jakab attempted a smile, which didn’t quite work, and stepped aside to let Dan in, simultaneously nodding to Miss Molnar in thanks. “I don’t think it’s changed a bit since you were there,” he said.
“Aye, different sides and factions, same shit.” Dan knew, and Jakab knew, and everyone else knew who’d ever been in that hellhole Afghanistan. Soviets or Americans or Brits or anyone else, it was all a crock of shit.

Jakab closed the door behind them once Dan had stepped into the large and comfortable room. Kisa was sitting up in the bed, looking bored.

“Hey, kid,” Dan grinned. “I’m not ready yet to be a grandfather.”

Kisa snorted and leaned back on the pillows, the enormous swell of her belly more obvious because the rest of her had remained slender. “Tell that to them,” she said, brushing a hand on the bulge. “Can’t make up their minds about whether they’re coming or not.”

“They are probably trying to avoid being post-Christmas babies, because the presents would be crap.” Dan grinned and leaned down to kiss his daughter’s cheeks.

Kisa laughed and made an effort at a hug.

Dan grunted a ‘thanks’ at Jakab, who’d brought a chair close to the bed. “Apart from that, how are you?” He sat down.

“Do you mind staying for a bit, Dan?” Jakab asked from behind. “I was thinking of going back to the flat for Kisa’s things.”

“Sure, it’s not that I have anything better to do.” Dan winked. He really did mean it, and Kisa knew hat.

“Thanks,” Jakab replied and leaned past Dan to kiss Kisa, before picking up his overcoat and gloves and heading out of the room.

Kisa waited for thirty seconds before letting out an exhale. “Too bloated to do anything with everyone offering me stupid advice,” she grumped. “You’d think that nobody had ever had babies before.”

“Well, yes, but the point is that you have never had babies before.” Dan pointedly looked at her, but his attempt at a glare failed spectacularly, when he started to grin. “Right, then, tell me all about how they are annoying you and what you’d like to do to them.”

“I’d like to lock them all in a room with each other,” Kisa snorted, “and see how they like being hounded. If it’s not my mother, it’s his. Or my sister. Or his. What I’m supposed to eat, not eat, do, not do, and how no matter what I’m doing, it’s not the right way. Not to mention his dad decided to phone my boss every bloody day to make sure I wasn’t ‘overexerting’ myself. It’s a desk job at the Ministry. The only danger of overexerting myself is a papercut. It’s so irritating that I can’t even get a punch in.” She paused while Dan tried valiantly to hide his chuckle. “Better now with Jakab back to act as a human shield. He just nudges them out the room and quietly shuts the door. You should have seen the look on his sister’s face the first time he did it.”

Dan finally cracked and laughed out loud. “Damn, I would have liked to see that, but after the couple times I met his sister I rather stay on a different continent to her.” He leaned forward, murmuring in a conspirator’s fashion, “is there anything you’d like to eat and which had been deemed unsuitable?”

She returned the smirk, identical to his. “Chocolate. Cake. Ice Cream. No surprises there since it’s obvious where I got my sweet tooth from.”

“I approve of that sweet tooth. I bet there’s a cafe in this posh pile of stones?”

“First floor, turn right out of the lifts.” Kisa grinned back.

“I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Dan winked as he stood up. “You better be hungry.”

“For anything other than milk and chicken soup.” Kisa wrinkled her nose.

“That’s not something I’d ever feed you. Not that you’d want to eat what I cook.” With a short laugh Dan was out of the room and on his foraging mission.

As expected, the cafe was stocked with a large and full cake cabinet, with both single-serve and enormous complete cakes. Dan chose several of the most elaborately iced, cream-filled and chocolate topped cake slices and pastries on offer. The waitress behind the counter gave him a slightly startled look at the number he was requesting, but apparently she had decided he did not appear to be a gastric band patient embarking on a binge, when she served him. She only asked whether he was going to be having them in the cafe or taking it up to a room, before packing the cakes away in a heavy cardboard box for him, together with napkins, and good-quality disposable plates and forks.

Dan gave her his best smile and thanked her in Hungarian. He headed back to Kisa’s room, where he proceeded to lay out the cakes and pastries onto plates in a tempting offering, worthy of a Mayan sacrifice.

“I didn’t know what you fancied, so I got you one of each.” With a positively wicked grin, he held one of the pastry forks out to her.

Kisa, who had been looking at the spread with increasing awe, returned the grin as she selected a cake that appeared to be layers of chocolate and caramel.

Dan was about to tuck into a strawberry and cream tart, when he turned his head towards the window. “Holy shit, when did it start turning from gentle snowfall to fucking great big snow white-out?”

Kisa followed his gaze to the large window, which was now completely white. She fumbled with the remote control before turning the television onto the weather report. The radar report showed a huge band of white settling over the city. “Crap,” Kisa exhaled.

“What?” Dan swallowed a mouthful of strawberry and pastry, while focusing on the TV screen. “City can’t deal with this weather?”

Kisa gave a rude snort. “Course not. Too much like actually doing their job.”

“Good thing it was a false alarm, then.”

“Yep,” Kisa replied, going back to her cake. “Hope he gets home, though at least it’s the Volvo and not my old car.

“Course you got a Volvo.” Dan rolled his eyes like a particularly ridiculous six-year-old. “My daughter is a walking talking cliché. When the fuck did that happen?”

“Around the time this, “Kisa indicated the bump, “did.” She put the empty plate and fork aside. “Don’t worry, no Labradors or Hermes scarves…yet.”

“I’m going to de-daughter you if I ever see you with a poncy silk scarf.” Dan pushed the cakes with a fingertip. “Which one next?”

Kisa laughed and picked out an elaborate sculpture of cream and pastry. “How have you been, anyway?”

“As expected,” Dan shrugged while wiping his lips with a napkin. “I’m an old, mangy dog with creaking joints. Well, except for the high-tech ones, those are hunky-dory.” He leaned back in his chair. “I don’t kill or maim anymore, nor get shot at. It’s boring, really.”

Kisa snorted around a mouthful of cream. “Only you would think that an absence of mayhem equals boredom.” She hesitated a moment, changing the subject abruptly. “It pretty much sucks being the one left at home.”

Dan looked closely at her, a smile on his face. “What are you planning to do once the twins are here?”

“I’ve got a year off to decide properly. The job’s good – considering I only got about three months in on it before they started being difficult – and they’re surprisingly short of good Russian speakers,” she exchanged a grin with Dan. “I might see if there’s a chance I can transfer the job down to Szolnok. I mean, there are Intelligence positions down there, just not quite the same as what I’d be doing in Budapest. It would save the travelling, and we could get a house.”

Dan had been nodding along, but tracked back to the beginning. “Aye, makes all sense, but a whole year? Nothing but babies? You’ll go insane.”

“I think that’s a given, what with the genetics of these babies, don’t you?” Kisa said drily. “And Jakab’s gone rather extreme in avoiding it all, though admittedly he did manage to get the rest of winter off before he goes back to you-know-where.” She paused. “Short of good Russian speakers.” she repeated, quieter.

“Damn shame he’s so good at it, aye?” Dan’s smile was soft.

“Yeah,” Kisa fiddled with her fork, “still, I suppose that’s part of what was always going to happen since it was sort of inevitable I’d go for a blond special forces type.”

“At least you didn’t go for an enemy.” Dan huffed a laugh then cast another glance at the weather outside, which seemed to be getting worse.

“No, at least there’s that.” Kisa finished her second cake. “I hope that stops soon, or the city’s going to be one great big squelching mess tomorrow.” She gave a little wince, as though she’d been kicked. “Stay,” she told her stomach sternly.

“What’s up? Too much cake?”

“No, just one of them’s probably having a sugar high,” Kisa’s hand rubbed the bump. “They’ve been running around in there and kicking and probably having fights for weeks. But they’re still not cooked yet.” She sighed. “I feel like a beached whale. I’ve forgotten what my feet look like.”

“Like feet.” Dan deadpanned, then went to pack the cake and pastry pieces back into their cardboard box. “Did I tell you about Hooch’s latest venture? In case he hasn’t told you yet.”

“No,” Kisa shook her head, “we asked whether he and Matt might want to be part of the horde of godparents, but he went all quiet after that.”

Dan let out a soft sound while finishing the re-packing of the desserts. “Godparents equals church, aye? He doesn’t do church, as far as I know.”

Kisa shrugged a shoulder. “Neither do I, but it’s important to Jakab. For tradition, really, more than any real observance. That stopped – a long time ago.”

“Well, is there a need to have Hooch as a godparent? He could just be Uncle Hooch.”

“Not need,” Kisa replied slowly, “and he’d be great either way. Just we thought it would be nice, show that we did want some sort of official connection. Also,” her grin was sly, “gives him and Matt and Uncle Matyas a great excuse to keep in touch and for them to stay with Matyas when they visit.” She tried to leer, and failed.

“Kisa!” Dan pointed an accusing finger at her, “you may be my daughter, but that doesn’t mean you should be thinking of ‘such things’.” He couldn’t hide the grin, though.

Kisa grinned back. “Ah, they didn’t tell you? Quite interesting: the three of them took off for a spontaneous two week driving holiday in Croatia two days after the wedding. Never seen Uncle Matyas look so relaxed as he did the week after he got back. Then he got into another shouting match with the Prime Minister and he was back to normal, but still…”

“My daughter is having a vivid imagination about her uncles getting it on.” Dan fake-sadly shook his head and let his shoulders slump. “Never did I think would I live to see a day of such horrors.”

Kisa burst into giggles, but then stopped abruptly. “Dan,” she said, voice soft and quite serious, “I think I might need the nurse now.”

“What?” Dan tensed, ready for action, as if all those years of retirement hadn’t happened.

“Can you…push that button,” Kisa panted. “I think…urgh! …I think my waters just broke.”

“Fuck!” Dan’s hand flashed towards the button, pressing it. “I’ll phone Jakab.”

“Thanks,” Kisa nodded, but there were beads of sweat already forming on her forehead as the door opened to a stern-looking matron.

Dan had his phone in hand, still as prepared as he had been during his active service, and speed-dialled his son-in-law’s mobile.

The name at the other end of the line, when Jakab answered, sounded a little different, until Dan realised that it was the proper pronunciation and not the Anglicised one Jakab used around English-speakers. “Yes?” Jakab continued, realising it was Dan.

“Kisa thinks her…uh, her waters broke. That means the birth is going to happen now, aye? You better get here ASAP.”

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then a single, exhaled word. Dan wasn’t up on all the Hungarian swearwords yet, but he got the idea. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Jakab said, too calmly, with the tone of a man seriously considering a mad run through a blizzard.

“Aye, shall I call anyone else in the meantime? Anyone closer? Katya?”

A noise before Jakab took a breath and answered. “No, she’ll be on the other side of the river by now and it’s packed. Thanks, but I’ll text her.”

It was one of the times that Dan was glad Jakab was so logical and got to the correct answer (that Dan would have preferred to avoid any contact with Katya if at all humanly possible) by the incorrect, but most reasonable route (the little matter of Vadim, to be precise).

“Anyone else?” He kept a close eye on the nurse who was still checking Kisa, asking her quiet questions that he couldn’t understand.

“No,” Jakab said after a pause, “I’m not too far, I’ll get there as soon as I can,” he repeated.

“Aye, just me then. Got it.” Dan flashed a smile at his daughter when she caught his eye, trying to reassure her. “Looks like your kids have decided to be here earlier than expected, but I’ll hold the fort.” With that he terminated the call and turned his full attention onto Kisa, who was getting more agitated at whatever the nurse was telling her.

The nurse made a gesture over to Dan, and Kisa’s reply made the older woman’s eyebrows go up to her hairline, before Kisa said, slowly and clearly enough in Hungarian that Dan could understand.

“He’s my father.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Dan huffed, then remembered the one word in Hungarian that was going to be very important very soon. “Grandfather.” He glared at the nurse for good measure.

The nurse at least had the grace to look slightly embarrassed, before turning her attention back to Kisa, and then going to the internal phone to call someone. “Delivery Room,” she said curtly in English. “You come?”

“What?” Dan’s eyes flicked to Kisa, confused. “Kisa?”

Her eyes were huge, and the closest he’d seen to being frightened. “Will you?” she asked.

“Aye. Of course.” Dan didn’t hesitate for another second. He’d gone into enemy territory on his own, he could bloody well go and be at his daughter’s side, no matter how much this freaked him out. He got up and nodded to the nurse, “lead on, McDuff.”

The relief in Kisa’s eyes was worth it. The door opened to the arrival of two orderlies, who went to take the breaks off the bed. Dan followed the procession, as Kisa was being pushed along corridors and into a different room, not too dissimilar to her own one. It was cheerfully decorated, but had a variety of furniture and equipment in it, which confused the heck out of Dan. Accepting his utter ignorance came fairly easy. Holding his daughter’s hand – that was something he could do easily, as long as he didn’t have to witness the more messy aspects.

Shortly after they arrived, the doors opened again to another woman, older than the nurse, with an air of efficient confidence. She sent a questioning look at Dan, who merely uttered “grandfather” in Hungarian once more.

She started asking Kisa questions in rapid Hungarian, too quick for Dan to follow, before putting both hands and feeling, soon starting to frown.

Her frown caused an unfamiliar sensation in Dan’s chest, and it took him a while to acknowledge it as fear. Before it could turn into anything worse, there was a flurry of movement and orders, as equipment was rolled to the bed Kisa was on, and the doctor started to examine in earnest.

All Dan could do was hold onto his daughter’s hand and smile reassuringly at her. Which, he figured somewhere in the back of his mind, probably looked more like a grimace, but she didn’t seem to mind.

What he hated most was the very obvious pain she was in. He really, completely, loathed it, and all he could do was squeeze her hand tighter.

The doctor stepped away for a few seconds to pull on a pair of gloves and let one of the orderlies tie the apron on, before returning, feeling around the lower part of the bump, as Kisa squeezed even harder on Dan’s hand. The doctor’s eyes flickered to Dan, before deciding he was one degree too removed for her to explain things to directly, before going to speak to Kisa. Her expression and voice grave, but calm.

Kisa’s eyes widened and the grip on Dan’s hand tightened even further.

“What?” The fear immediately notched up to panic, an entirely new experience for Dan. This was about his daughter; his grandchildren. This was more important than anything had ever been. “What did she say?”

Kisa swallowed audibly. “One of them’s around the wrong way, blocking everything up. It’s going to have to be a Caesarean.” She gasped as another contraction hit and Dan lost all feeling in his fingers, but he didn’t care, not one bit.

“When? I mean, now? Oh shit.”

An orderly emerged behind Dan and had to tug quite hard before he noticed. The man started miming putting on a hat, and after a few seconds Dan realised he was to follow to an adjoining room.

“I’ll see you in a moment.” Dan smiled his best reassuring smile at his daughter, who looked increasingly frightened. A sight that made him feel worse than anything ever had.

The scrubs he was handed were clearly the largest size they had – tall enough for him, but far too wide. He fumbled with the help of the orderly who had been waiting in the room, before getting completely suited up, except for a mask.

By the time he emerged and was taken through to the operating theatre, it seemed that a whole lot of new people had joined the enormous cast at Kisa’s bedside. There was an empty space left near her head, and the orderly pointed in its direction, indicating that was where Dan should place himself.

With heartfelt relief that he really was going to be as far away as possible from the ‘messy end’, Dan sat down and took Kisa’s hand in both of his. He could feel the slight tremor in hers, so much more slender than his calloused ones, and he squeezed gently. “Hey, kid, never thought you’d be stuck here with me, huh?”

“Thank you.” Kisa breathed, the sweat beading on her forehead. There was a little screen set up shielding the scalpel sight, but the surgeon bending over was hardly much of a reassurance. While Kisa couldn’t see herself, Dan could, if he lifted his head. Something he was determined not to do.

“You’re my little girl, even though I never met you as a little girl.” Dan patted her hand, guessing she was being prepped for the anaesthetic right then. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you – and your kids. Nothing, aye?” He leaned closer, murmuring with a soft grin, “I might not be fast anymore, but I’m still a great shot.”

Kisa tried to laugh, but it came out as more of a moan, as matters picked up pace at the other end of the table. There was an intense discussion between Kisa’s obstetrician and the surgeon that was too fast and too low for Dan to pick up. Besides, he had decided that distracting Kisa was his job just then.

“At least you don’t have to push. Honestly, squeezing a kid, let alone two, through that?” He opened his eyes as wide as possible, in not-so-mock horror.

Kisa tried to laugh, which turned into a little groan, and Dan felt his finger-bones crunching. At the other end of the table, he could sense more than see, a flurry of movement.

“Are you in pain?” Dan’s words were toppling one over the other in his haste. “I tell them to wait, give you more anaesthetic.Tell me!”

Kisa didn’t reply at first, just moaned and almost-whispered “get it over with,” just as a thin, furious wail penetrated the room.

Dan’s head whipped up to come face-to-face with a blood and gunk covered red and wrinkly bundle that flailed with more force than a gunky-bloodied-wrinkled thing should be able to. “Oh fuck,” he gasped out, “it’s a baby!”

Kisa gave a gargled chuckle. “Really? What else did you think it was going to be? And wait, there’s more…“

“Aye, of course, a baby, sure, but shit, it’s really, I mean,” Dan stood up, unthinking, looking at the controlled flurry of gloved hands and blood, skin, flesh, movement, child and fluids and body and open and tiny hands and head and…the sound his unconscious body made as it crashed into the chair and onto the floor had everyone stop in their tracks.

After a moment, the bigger orderly crouched down at Dan’s side, slapping his face none too gently a couple of times. When Dan jerked awake, disorientation immediately replaced with embarrassment, the orderly shook his head, commenting drily in heavily accented English, “I’ve had fathers do this, but never a grandfather,” as he helped Dan up.

Kisa was looking as though she was about to burst out laughing, no bad thing when the activity had resumed and a second screaming, flailing bundle emerged. A moment later, the first-born was laid onto her chest, bundled up warm.

By that time, Dan had made his way back onto the chair. Face a blotched mix of sheet-white and flaming red, as he held onto his daughter’s hand once more. “Don’t you dare tell anyone!” He pleaded. His eyes fixed onto that remarkably ugly bundle of tiny human that couldn’t have been more precious to him, unless he counted the second one that was soon placed beside the first.

They were tiny, with heads of dark hair and screwed up faces, and a mighty wail. Evidently very unhappy at being so unceremoniously introduced to the world.

“We’ll stitch you up now,” the surgeon spoke in English for the first time. “All went as it should be and we’ll move you back to your room.”

“They are…” precious, wonderful, tiny, amazing, a complete miracle, “ugly as fuck.” Dan grinned shakily at his daughter, “but I guess they will have to do.” The twinkle in his eyes wasn’t caused by emotions that made his voice just as shaky as his grin. Honest.

Kisa understood the true meaning behind his words. “Amazing,” she breathed out, “they look so much smaller than they felt.” She brushed back the hair of first one, and then the other, who had by then calmed with the contact.

“Aye, amazing.” There really wasn’t another word that could describe those miniature humans. Dan looked up as the orderly who’d coerced him back into consciousness gestured at him. “I’ll be right with you, just getting de-scrubbed.” He leaned down to brush a calloused fingertip oh so carefully over each of the tiny, messy heads, then kissed Kisa’s clammy forehead. “Thank you,” he whispered.

Kisa looked right back. “Thank you,” she replied, still looking at her babies in wonder. One of the nurses hovered at the other side of the bed, keeping one eye on Kisa and one on the concluding procedures.

“Anytime.” Dan winked as he stood up, and added, “just never again, please.” With a grin at Kisa’s tired chuckle he watched her being taken out of the operating theatre, before he went into the side room to change clothes and splash water into his face. He really was never going to live this down; he, Dan McFadyen, ex-SAS and ex-Mercenary, fainting at the sight of blood.

Both T.A. and I were unwell at the end of last year, at different times, which meant that we were two months behind, and obviously, the December 11 publication date didn’t happen. Sure, I could have logged in and let everyone know by posting a blog entry, but, well, I didn’t. Sorry for that.

However, I do have some very concrete news for anyone waiting for Deliverance.

– letting the novel rest for 2 months was a good thing to happen. While not planned, I’ll definitely plan this in the future for anything I/we write, because the distance to the text is excellent.

– we have been editing like fiends, and while doing so, we realised that we have to write an additional part, which we are currently working on.

So, all in all, things are moving forward at a mighty pace. Most is edited, some is being written right now to be added, and then when that is edited and everything is put together and then proofread, we shall have Deliverance ready for publication.

I don’t want to raise hopes that we might not be able to fulfil (again) and thus I’m on the safe side and say March.

I am writing again!

Co-authoring in fact, and having a blast. Writing in the Special Forces universe, Hooch and Matt’s story will soon be available. We are close to the finish, and it is going to be novel length.

Deliverance is the story of Hooch, a US Delta Force soldier and Matt, his Jarhead lover. It is a spin-off from Special Forces and spans the years 1998 to 2011.

Both Hooch and Matt were created by Marquesate as secondary characters in the epic Special Forces (© 2006-2009), but they took on a life of their own. Hooch in particular became a firm favourite of many readers, especially after chapter 64 in Veterans.

When Marquesate met TA Brown, it was time to finally tell the untold story of these two men.

For Hooch and Matt’s story before 1998, and to understand context and references, you must have read Special Forces.

Deliverance is co-authored by Marquesate and TA Brown © 2011. All rights reserved.

Some might say I am a bit late with this (a bit…? Ahem…) but others, well, I (!) say better late than never, and there’s no cut-off point anyway, because readers continue to send feedback for Special Forces, which truly is a constant source of joy for me.

So, I finally did long overdue website updates today (must be the spring weather that’s giving me the energy) and not only did I create a special contact form for Forum account creations (I had to lock down account creation because of constant spam, up to over 50 accounts a day, despite Captcha and admin activation) I also added a page with recent reviews of Special Forces. It was a real pleasure to do so, making me want to re-read it all, of only I had the time. 😉

I am truly happy to report that Marquesate’s Fund Raising page raised a whopping £480.82 when it closed at the end of December 2010. Thank you, everyone, for your generosity and charitable spirit. From readers of the free epic Special Forces, the Haiti charity auction winner, to buyers and readers of Beyond Her Majesty’s Men, and finally to all the friends I made through my writing.

I believe strongly in the work they are doing, and like the International Red Cross, they are one of the biggest and most widespread charities that are nondenominational, and that operate everywhere in the world – especially in those places where most of us wouldn’t want to be, and where medical support is most needed.

I ran a charity auction for MsF and Haiti at the beginning of 2010 and the generosity of the winning bidder – and some losing ones – was overwhelming. All profits (£0.40 per ebook) of Beyond Her Majesty’s Men will continue to go to MsF. I donate the profits once a year.

If you read Special Forces for free, and if you feel you would like to give something to the brilliant work that MsF does, you can donate to Médecins Sans Frontières’s international sites. Thank you, once again.

Marq

What, did you think I was joking? Of course not! While I very much enjoy the simplicity of clear and simple covers and layout, with images that embody the story, I also love colour coordination. And to prove that the whole epic will look gorgeously coordinated in your bookshelves… 😉

This is it, it is done. The complete Special Forces epic has been published in paperback in its original version, and for non-profit print costs only.

Special Forces – Veterans in paperback.

This print version is the original version of Special Forces (1st edition), as it was edited at the time of first publication on Marquesate’s website. The Veterans cycle was published between November 2008 and April 2009. The ebook versions are available for free download and the original chapters remain on Marquesate’s website: http://www.marquesate.org/special-forces.html

This is the only version that is authorised by Marquesate.

Special Forces – Veterans is 447 pages and is £8.88 print-cost only.

Special Forces – Mercenaries Part I: the Original Version and Special Forces – Mercenaries Part II: the Original Version are now available as paperback. The Mercenaries cycle is so large, that it had to be published in two parts.

Special Forces – Mercenaries is the second cycle of the Special Forces epic, the first cycle is Soldiers and the third one is Veterans.

This print version is the original version of Special Forces (1st edition), as it was edited by the authors of the time of first publication on Marquesate’s website. The Mercenaries cycle was published between May 2007 and November 2008.

This is the only version that is authorised by Marquesate.

The print versions of Special Forces – Mercenaries Part I and Special Forces – Mercenaries Part II are strictly non-profit and print cost only. The ebook versions are available for free download (Part I and Part II), and the original chapters remain on Marquesate’s website: http://www.marquesate.org/special-forces.html

Mercenaries Part I has 607 pages and is print-cost only £11.60 and Mercenaries Part II has 565 pages and is print-cost only £10.89.

Just to remind you, if you are ever being charged more, and especially for less pages, then whoever charges you does receive a profit. It’s quite interesting to see what the actual print costs are, isn’t it? I am publishing Special Forces in paperback as a labour of love for all the wonderful readers who have shared their of this story with me over the years, and to all the fantastic friends I made through writing Special Forces. 🙂

The third cycle, Veterans, is currently being prepared and will be published soon. Currently available in paperback are:

Special Forces – Soldiers

Special Forces – Mercenaries Part I
Special Forces – Mercenaries Part II

The pictures speak for themselves, aye? It’s a wonderful feeling to hold the first tome (of four!) in my hands.

Download is free and the paperback is (print cost only) £10.78. The printing costs aren’t the cheapest, because Lulu doesn’t do bulk discounts unless we are talking BULK, but with 559 pages there’s a lot of book for one’s money, and the quality is lovely.  Just to fondle the book … mmmmm … 🙂

Special Forces – Soldiers: the Original Version, is now finally available as paperback.

Special Forces is the story of a Scottish SAS soldier and a Soviet spetsnaz soldier. Two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union’s last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow … but that’s only the official version. This epic spans across over twenty-five years of their lives.

Special Forces – Soldiers is the first cycle of the Special Forces epic, the second cycle is Mercenaries and the third one is Veterans.

This print version is the original version of Special Forces (1st edition), as it was edited by the authors of the time of first publication on Marquesate’s website. The Soldiers cycle was published between July 2006 and March 2007. This is the only version that is authorised by Marquesate.

The print version of Special Forces – Soldiers is strictly non-profit and print cost only. The ebook version is available for free download, and the original chapters remain as on Marquesate’s website: http://www.marquesate.org/special-forces.html

soundtrack-special-forces-mercenaries

Drum Salute: Well, that’s obvious, it’s all for Dan, our Scotsman. I couldn’t find the Royal Scots Dragoons, but have a brilliant Drum salute from Shotts:

Bakara: Dan as Mad Dog, with a hip shimmy. 😉 Can’t find it on YouTube, though.

Kalasnjikov (Goran Bregovic): This one’s totally crazy, and I love it. Bregovic is a Bosnian composer of Serbian and Croatian descent, and my dear friend told me about his music. This is the perfect music for some of the lighter parts in the Balkans, for Dan and Vadim.

Sands of Kuwait: I already blogged about this one. It’s a beautiful and haunting piece of music, and so apt for the Gulf.

All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix): Do I need to say anything? Dan’s crazy idea to play the tape at full volume to disorient the troops in the beleaguered town, while attacking the tanks with molotovs. I “wrote” this whole action scene in my head while listening to the song over and over and over again in my car.

Barra Barra: Rachid Taha (Hans Zimmer, Black Hawk Down) This is so Dan in Mercenaries. This is the absolutely perfect Mad Dog piece of music. I always so him saunter along in his flip-flops and a towel round his hips, shades over his eyes and fag hanging from the corner of his mouth, coming out of teh showers in the camp in the Gulf.

and here is Rachid Taha singing Barra Barra live (I love the sound of the language!). The live version is fantastic, much better even than the studio one, which I already love to bits.

An Algerian poster gives us the translation. Barra Barra means “outside outside” and the lyrics are:

It’s Algerian Arabic Slang accent , wich means people from the middle east or the other arabic countries can not understand us at all.

Barra barra (outside) = bb
Sadness, hate and the reign of arbitrary
Bb
Destruction, jealousy ; there is no trust left
Bb
Thirst and people are unlucky
Bb
No honour, but oppression and slavery
Bb
Rivers were dried up and seas have ruined everything
Bb
Stars are switched off and the sun went down.

I am so glad I finally know what it means.

This is my personal soundtrack for Special Forces, the Soldiers cycle. Why don’t you share yours, if you have any music/soundtrack?

soundtrack-special-forces-soldiers

There are two pieces that are actually scene music. Both are from the fantastic soundtrack to Black Hawk Down by Hans Zimmer. The rest just made me think very much of the characters.

Dan, this so so very much Dan, even more so than Flower of Scotland.
Amazing Grace: The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Vadim, of course, and isn’t it great to have a 1984 video of the Red Square? I remember the height and the end of the Cold war well.
Soviet National Anthem. Red Square (1984)

This is an example of some of the music that would be Dan’s kind of music. Later on, in Mercenaries, he buys some CDs and I mention in the narative which ones those are. Happy hunting.
The Pusher: Steppenwolf

I couldn’t find this particular Moya lyubov on YouTube, I’m afraid. If anyone can find it, please let me know. It’s an incredibly sexy piece of music with such a cool voice. This, to me, embodies the time when they’ve accepted their attraction as in: it’s more than crazy sex.

Now we come to the music that is real soundtrack music, i.e. music I created the scenes in my mind to. Synchrotone, this is when Dan saves Maggie’s Life. He spots the car and then he runs not for his life, but hers, and gets blown up and at the end the almost dream-like scene of her over him, calling his name but then he succumbs. All of this is perfectly set to this piece of music. I must have listened to it hundreds of times, and I saw the scene and “wrote” it in my head before I ever put pen to paper AKA fingers onto keyboard. I could see it all very clearly.
Synchrotone: Hans Zimmer (ignore the actual video, it’s the best quality audio of Synchrotone that I could find on YouTube)

And here I made a mistake for the next one, because the next one actually belongs into “Mercenaries”, but alas, I don’t want to redo the screenshot and the whole blog entry. 🙂 It’s Gortoz A Ran, an incredibly haunting piece of music, and this is the music when Dan waits for Vadim’s execution, the scene in his room in the embassy, which he then thrashes. Again, I saw everything clearly before I wrote it down.
Gortoz A Ran – J’attends: Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard (Hans Zimmer, Black Hawk Down) I think the language is Breton

So, tell me yours!

title-specforce

I finished editing the last chapter of Special Forces, Chapter 70: The Sum of All Things.

With this chapter, the editing of the entire epic is done and all unedited chapters, both in html form and as PDF files, have been eliminated.

I re-converted all 70 chapters into PDF files, to reflect formatting updates and to include the five last chapters that had not been edited at the time all chapters had to be uploaded in one batch.

You can find individual PDF files of each chapter on the PDF page for Special Forces, which allows for e-book reader friendly reading. I have included a table of contents.

I also re-zipped all 70 chapter PDF files, including the table of contents, which can be downloaded in a single file (12.5MB).

This marks the end of 3 years of work for now.

Enjoy!

Marq

hooch-sexysHooch in Special Forces has become one of my favourite characters of mine. In fact, I dare say that these days he is the favourite character of all the characters that I wrote in Special Forces.

Don’t get me wrong, I will always love Dan, ex-SAS, ex-PMC, and very much Scotsman, but after having lived with him, so to speak, for almost three years, it is Hooch who fascinates me the most, because he has not been explored as deeply as Dan has.

Picture – for illustrative purposes only – is of the character of Hoot in Black Hawk Down, as played by Eric Bana. © Sony. Without permission.

24947008This is an excellent and very up-to-date book with over 150 illustrations. The book is by Chris McNab and Martin J. Dougherty and it is from 2007.

I found this book in a bargain shop of all places in a small village in the Scottish Highlands and of course had to buy it, because it seemed essential for my writing research. It is, indeed. Some of the chapters include Infantry Firepower, Infantry Tactics, Tactical Terrain, Special Forces, and Counter-Insurgency Warfare. I am particularly impressed by the diagrams and illustrations in addition to the photos.

To quote from the UK Naval & Military Press website:

There are chapters on weapons, tactics, heavy support, – such as air, armour, and artillery – as well as on special situations facing a battlefield commander – including commanding an air strike; handling and firing weapons in conditions of extreme heat or cold; rescuing hostages; amphibious assaults and evading capture. To bring the manual bang up to today’s wars, there are also chapters on counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency – with pictures of a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan to match. Illustrated with more than 150 action photographs and artwork, with examples of real ambushes and battles this is a book for real soldiers and armchair enthusiasts alike.
Quote copyright © Naval & Military Press

Of course, what they forgot to mention is how useful this book is for researchers and researching writers!

Buy COMBAT TECHNIQUES: THE SAS & ELITE FORCES GUIDE: Modern Infantry Tactics, Weapons and Systems from