Code Name: Camelot (Noah Wolf #1)

Code Name: Camelot (Noah Wolf #1)

David Archer




“If you live among wolves you have to act like a Wolf”

– Nikita Khrushchev





PROLOGUE

Juarez, Mexico

The street was one of the seedier places in Juarez, a place where gringo tourists didn’t usually show their faces. The tall American who was leaning against the bar was out of place, but as long as he didn’t mind spending fifteen dollars for a bottle of beer, the bartender wasn’t going to object to his presence. He was already on his third bottle, and Felicita had been sitting with him for quite some time. She liked the gringos, and seemed to have a special knack for getting them to pay attention to her.

As long as she also got them to pay the twenty dollars required for one of her blowjobs, that was fine.

This gringo had been coming around for several days, and Eduardo Hernandez, the bartender, had gotten to know him pretty well. The white man was tall, a couple of inches over six feet, with neatly trimmed blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was obvious from his general condition that he worked out regularly. His name was John Baker, he’d said, and he was in town on business. Considering that the town was Juarez, Mexico, it was no secret that the business involved drugs.

Again, that didn’t matter much to Eduardo. A substantial number of his customers were in that same business, which suited him fine, since that meant they could afford the ridiculous prices he had to charge just to stay afloat. He had seen more than a few of them having private conversations with John the gringo, and though he hadn’t seen money change hands, he knew without a doubt that it had.

John hooked a finger at Eduardo, and when the bartender looked, he pointed at the glass in front of Felicita. Eduardo grinned, then reached for the special bottle reserved for the drinks the customers bought for the whores, the watered-down drinks that cost Eduardo only pennies, while he charged the customers as high as ten dollars each. He was fully aware that John liked to keep the girl happy, and since the girl went back to his hotel with him almost every night, he suspected that they may have come to some private arrangement that was cheating the bartender out of his cut of the money she made.

She knew how things worked, though, and as long as she could keep John buying those drinks, she knew Eduardo wouldn’t complain about her keeping the extra money she made in the night. She made it her business to keep John smiling, flirting with him and promising even more exciting pleasures to come. It was working, and her glass was staying full, which meant that her purse would not be as empty as it often was.





ONE





Nine Months Earlier

Noah Foster had been an exemplary soldier for more than five years. After joining the Army shortly before turning eighteen, he had demonstrated a willingness and ability to learn his craft that very few had ever matched, at least in the opinion of his instructors. He’d also demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt to almost any situation, to remain calm even in the face of overwhelming problems, and to carry out his orders without hesitation or delay.

Second Lieutenant Abigail Mathers, of the Judge Advocate General’s office, read through his file with interest. Sergeant Foster was sitting in the stockade at that moment, preparing to face a court-martial that would almost certainly find him guilty of multiple counts of murder and other crimes, and sentence him to die. Lieutenant Mathers had been assigned as his defense counsel and was fervently wishing that she had never even heard his name.

It was a hopeless case. Sergeant Foster, according to the witnesses against him, had willingly and with malice aforethought killed First Lieutenant Daniel Gibson, Corporal James Mathis, Pfc. Charles Mason, Pfc. Jack Lindemann, Pfc. David Clark and Pfc. William Gould, apparently to try to conceal other crimes. The biggest problem was that there was no question of whether he had killed them, because he had already admitted to it in his own statement. The only matter to be settled in court-martial was whether he had done so in order to cover up the fact that, as some members of his unit had reported, he had killed five civilian females, or because—as he claimed—his platoon leader and several other members of his unit had engaged in the recreational rapes and murders of several young Iraqi girls, girls whose only offense was the fact that they were alone and unprotected when Gibson and the others came upon them.

Mathers read through the general details of Foster’s statement, essentially the report that he had made after walking into his unit’s rear area with several members of his platoon disarmed and under arrest.

His story was that he had been assigned as cover fire, positioned as a sniper as his unit advanced in suspected ISIL territory, but there had been no firefight. Instead, the platoon had found five unaccompanied civilian females, who seemed to be engaged in some sort of agricultural chores.

Foster had made his report, he said, with the assumption that the guilty would be punished. He claimed he had absolutely no idea that it would be turned around and used as evidence to charge him with committing murder to cover up the very crimes he said he was trying to report.

Mathers closed the file and got up from her desk, then left the JAG offices and headed across the compound toward the stockade. Foster was a prisoner there, and she wanted to look him in the eye and hear his story for herself.

The duty officer at the stockade said it would take a few minutes to get Foster up to the interview room, and invited her to have a cup of coffee. She passed, and went to wait in the interview room for her client. Foster was brought in about ten minutes later, and took the seat across the table from her.

“Sergeant Foster,” she began, “I’m Lieutenant Mathers, with the JAG office. I’ve been assigned as your defense counsel, and I’ve just started working on your case. Looks pretty nasty, so far. Can you tell me your side of the story?”

“I’ve already told it several times. Isn’t it in the file?”

Mathers nodded. “I read it,” she said. “Reading a formal statement and hearing it straight from the man’s mouth are two different things. Personally, I’m inclined to think that I can discern the truth more easily by watching your facial expressions while you speak. So how about it? Gonna tell me what happened?”

Noah shrugged his shoulders. “I had been assigned as a sniper that day,” he said, “to provide covering fire as my unit moved in on what was supposed to be an outpost of ISIL terrorists. Instead, the lieutenant and the platoon found a number of civilian females, and decided to let off some steam with them. Some of the girls, judging from their bodies after I got there, looked to be as young as twelve, maybe thirteen, and only one of them was still alive by then. Lieutenant Gibson had called me down from my position and offered me the opportunity to join in the fun with the last one, but instead, I attempted to put a stop to the situation.” He smiled, sarcastically. “The lieutenant didn’t want to hear my objections.

“ ‘Sergeant Foster,’ he said, ‘these are ISIL sympathizers, and as such they are to be treated exactly the same as enemy combatants. As it happens, we decided to attempt interrogation and met with resistance. Now, I’m offering you the opportunity to engage in some interrogation of your own.’

“I stared at him, and tried to figure out what was going on. I said, ‘Lieutenant, we can’t be doing this.’

“He acted like I hadn’t said anything of importance. ‘And why not, Sergeant?’ he asked. ‘Do you see anyone else around here, to make any objections? How I run my unit is up to me, and this looked to me like an opportunity to let my men get some much-needed R&R. There’s one left, are you going to take advantage?’

“I looked down at the girl that was being held by both arms, and I could see the look in her eyes, pleading with me to do something to save her life. I turned back to the lieutenant.

“ ‘No, sir,’ I said. ‘I can’t be a participant—’ but he cut me off. He held up a hand to stop me, then called out, ‘Anyone else?’ When no one answered, he looked back at me, shrugged his shoulders, and then shot the girl through the head.”

“Wait a minute!” Mathers said. “You’re saying your platoon leader actually murdered this girl, right in front of your eyes. Is that what you’re telling me?”

Noah looked at her, one eyebrow lifted. “I thought you said you read my interrogation report? That would’ve been in it.”

Mathers nodded slowly. “Go on,” she said.

“Well, I stepped back, because I was startled at what just happened. The guys who had been holding the girl, they jumped back, wiping off the blood that splattered them, and I stared at them all.

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