Chapter Three of The Grunt 2 takes you inside a covert USMC Force Recon operation in Afghanistan. From the first word of the chapter, you are there with the six-man team as they leap bravely from an HH-60 Pave Hawk during a HALO (high altitude, low opening)jump. As a civilian, I have never jumped out of a plane, though I’ve wanted to. I have a fascination with the sky and the bird’s ability to soar through the air. I’ve even had dreams of flying in my sleep, which usually leads to me accidentally kicking Shag. But I’ve never, as a core function of my job, been asked to jump from a moving object into the sky and fall thousands of feet (strategically might I ad) to land on the ground without a scratch. It’s pretty epic stuff.
As it turns out Force Recon is spectacular at jumping out of planes. And I could not, in good conscience, write this book without including a little of Recon’s awesomeness in it.
Check out this rough draft excerpt:
The Grunt 2
Latrivia Nelson ©
Dressed out in full tactical uniforms, camouflage, aviator gloves, go-packs and parachutes the Recon Unit assembled quietly inside of the HH-60 Pave Hawk in preparation for their HALO (high-altitude, low-opening) parachute insertion jump. It was everything that kids across the country dreamt of as they played their video games, and everything wannabe’s lied about when trying to impress women.
However, this was the real shit; there were no video cameras for reality tv, no theme music for a movie, no turning back for sake of life over country.
Standing by the hatch already let down for their departure, Brett looked down the line at his men standing at the ready. Each one of these men were brave and had shown valor in the face of death a hundred times. Joe, Bear, Rusty, Geek and Hound. He would die for either of them, all of them, if needed. But he hoped that their training would prevent the need to make that decision.
Right before they reached their mark, Brett stepped out where he could see his men and made his normal speech. It was the same one every time, but each time it was warranted, needed to remind each man of why he was there, especially when after long months away from home there were more questions than answers.
“No one on this plane rang that bell three times in training. No one gave up then. No gives up now. You know why they sent us, devil dogs? It’s because we’re the baddest motherfuckers they could find.”
“Oorah,” the men replied in cadence. Their voices boomed like lightning against the black night as the wind from the open hatch ran across their faces.
Bear, their Irish ginger good ole boy from Alabama, spit his brown snuff out on the floor beside his boot and coughed. It was his normal routine and had not changed since their first op together. It was Bear’s way of saying that he was ready.
Joe made the sign of the cross and rolled his neck. He was ready.
Rusty kissed the picture of his son.
Hound scratched his balls.
Geek stood stoically focused on the hatch.
Each man had a thing, and now was the time to do it.
Brett’s jaw clenched as he moved to the open hatch, the wind pushing and pulling at him like a rag doll. Anticipation coursed through his veins like an angry drug. The veins in his neck protruded as he screamed, “Let’s go to work!”
The twinkling stars and the full moon in the sky looked close enough for the men to reach out and touch them, and the ground so infinite below looked like it was a million miles away while they dwelled somewhere in the middle of this world and the next.
If one had never thought about their mortality before, they thought about it then being as small as ants in a world so vast that it could suck them up before anyone could notice.
Brett stood by the hatch, hitting each man on his back as they plunged out into the night in a free fall.
They looked angelic as they fell, but in fact, they were killers, the whole lot of them, going to do the government’s bidding.
With a nod toward the birdman, Brett prepared in his own way. Checking his gear and his watch, he clasped the sides of the entryway, looked out at the vast world behind him, imagined his family back home, and made the unreturnable leap toward danger.
With his arms splayed wide, he cut through the thin clouds in a perfect arch, feeling his body become one with the air around him. His massive, muscular frame, while formidable on land, dropped through the heavens like penny off a tower.
Balancing himself out, he fell hundreds of feet before he checked his wrist detector and pulled the rip cord on his parachute when he had reached the right altitude.
The parachute exploded violently in the night, giving him a small jolt as he navigated it down.
Brett bent his knees as his boots hit the ground. Dust billowed up around him as he crunched dry soil below him. Releasing himself from the parachute, he pulled his earpieces from inside of his tactical gear as he knelt in a crouched position and looked around.
It was dead silent. No motion. No lights. No people.
“Check in Eagle team,” he said, listening as all the men sounded off. They were all right around him, but with no light, they were nearly impossible to see, save the light coming off some of the men’s tactical watches.
As soon as his voice registered on the radio, the command center back at the base went live. Captain Lawless, who had been leaning on his desk glaring impatiently at the blank wall of monitors, popped up and put his coffee down.
“Eagle four to Nest, we are live. I repeat, Eagle team is live,” Brett said, just below a whisper as the men gathered together, ready to move on the Captain’s command.
“Do we have eyes on our men yet?” Lawless said, looking at his comms specialist.
Staring at the young captain too long was like looking directly into the sun. He was intimidating even when he wasn’t trying. The young man quickly adverted his eyes to the monitor as the black screen in front of them linked to the satellite and produced a night vision picture.
“We are live, sir,” the young man said, typing into his computer.
Lawless turned to his second-in-charge. “Get the general now,” he ordered, taking a wide stance in the middle of the floor and watching the operation from the vest cameras installed on each man. This was what he did best. In this command room, he was a warrior, a strategist and a swift hand for the U. S. Marine Corps. The sudden pride that always overcame him made him want to sing God Bless America, but for now, he’d just settle for kicking some ass.
“Zoom into Eagle four,” Lawless said flatly. He slipped his earpiece on to communicate with the team. “Eagle four, we have eyes. Satellite says you’re good to go. No bogies. Proceed.”
“Copy that,” Brett said, making a knife hand motion for the men to advance toward the house.
Don’t worry. The book is coming soon. Check in regularly for more information on the chapters as they are completed.
When you read a book, you want to identify with the woman. When you read an Interracial Romance (bw/wm), you expect to identify. All of us can’t be supermodels, millionaires or even a size 2 (I like being curvaceous), but we can all see the strength of a character or be motivated by that strength in a book.
My readers have taught me through their feedback over the years that they demand strength. When I first wrote Ivy’s Twisted Vine, a part of exploring what it was like to be an impressionable young woman was writing about Ivy’s weaknesses, but The World in Reverse was clearly about her strengths.
I’m committed to showing African-American women in a strong positive light through my books. Strong heroines are not just wanted, in this day and age, they are needed. Even in our entertainment and imagination, we must visualize ourselves as pillars of strength. Now, does that mean that you can’t be loving, caring, warm and even have moments of weakness? No, that would you inhuman.
However, I will say that if we are to project an image of strength into the media, we have to start in books. We have to damage/destroy the negative stereotypes of African-American women by re-writing ourselves.