Thomas Calabrese– A young Marine took four antidepressant pills, twice the amount that were prescribed to him by the battalion aid station then laid down on his cot to sleep for the night. He woke up four hours later with a glazed look on his face. He stood up and got dressed, took his weapon, left his quarters then walked over the main gate of Camp Leatherneck and shot both guards and ran out into the darkness. The Marine stood next to a rock formation, his eyes fixated on a trail before him for several hours until he saw a group of enemy fighters coming in his direction just after sunrise. He walked toward them in slow measured steps and when he got within fifty yards, he opened fire and despite the fact he was hit several times, the Marine did not stop shooting until he was fatally wounded in the chest and fell to his knees. The young man awakened from his drug induced trance, wondering where he was and how he got there, but died before he ever found out.
It was bitter cold and the wind howled like a wounded banshee across the mountain range. The Army Rangers were doing their best to stay warm as they layered up with additional clothing. One of the men walked out of a sandbag bunker wearing only a thin cotton t-shirt and camouflaged shorts. He turned to several of his comrades with a handful of pills, “Take some of these and you won’t even notice the weather.”
The battle raged on for seven hours, although it seemed like time had stood still to the Navy Seal team who had been ambushed by a vastly superior force of ISIS fighters while returning from a secret mission in the mountainous Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan.
Air strikes and artillery pummeled the enemy’s position to help support the trapped Americans, but the situation was growing more desperate with each passing minute. The Navy Seals eventually had to leave their concealed positions and expose themselves to deadly enemy fire in order to get weapons and ammunition off the dead enemy fighters when they ran low on ammo. Several enemy fighters breeched the Americans’ position, but they were quickly killed in hand to hand combat by the deadly Navy Seals.
Having no alternative, “Master Chief Dane Travers turned to his seven man team, of which three were gravely wounded and the others including himself that were injured to a lesser degree, “Our time has come, it has been my honor, see you on the other side, wherever that might be,” Master Chief Travers then radioed in, “Broken Arrow…repeat, Broken Arrow! On our position, give us everything you got!”
Dozens of ISIS fighters charged toward the Americans’ position as bombs rained down from the sky and artillery shells whistled in from the distant positions. The barrage literally obliterated everything in the vicinity and when rescued teams arrived at the site, everyone was dead except for Dane Travers who was seriously injured and barely clinging to life. He was medically evacuated to the Camp Bastion field hospital where surgeons worked feverishly for three hours while pumping in twelve units of blood to stabilize the Navy Seal. For three days, it was touch and go for Dane as the doctors only gave him a one in ten chance of survival. They were not just pleasantly surprised, but were genuinely amazed when Dane Travers opened his eyes and whispered, “Where is my team?”
One year later, Dane was out the Navy and doing his best to deal with his physical and emotional issues, but was adamantly opposed to any treatment that included ‘black box’ medication. A black box warning is the strictest warning put in the labeling of prescription drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when there is reasonable evidence of an association of a serious hazard including suicide or homicidal tendencies.
He had read the book by Doctor Bart Billings, Invisible Scars about the dangers of prescription medications and had seen firsthand how easy it was to become addicted to certain drugs. When he began receiving treatment from Doctor Paul Kersey at the Oceanside Veteran’s Administration clinic, Dane discussed all possible options and chose Integrative Treatment. (Integrative Medicine) is a healing oriented treatment that takes into account all aspects of lifestyle and emphasizes the therapeutic relationship of practitioner and patient. It is based on firsthand evidence and makes use of all appropriate therapies.
Dane went on a strict diet that included complex carbohydrates and foods that were high in protein and Omega-3’s and his exercise routine was geared more toward cardiovascular than strength training.
Over the course of his treatment; he developed a close and trusting friendship with the former Navy doctor who was currently writing his own book, Hidden Wounds, and using Dan as his primary test subject to support his findings. Dane knew that if the protocol helped him, it could possibly help thousands of other veterans who had similar issues, so he was all in. Part of his prescribed treatment was mental activity so he enrolled at Mira Costa Junior College and signed up for two classes; American History and Criminal Justice.
In the Mojave Desert, twenty five miles from Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, (DARPA) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States Department of Defense maintained a secret research facility. Scientists were working on developing a special formula to increase the performance of military personnel in combat situations. The program was called Ultimate Warrior, and it was being tested on naive patriotic young men who volunteered for the ‘so called’ elite unit, while expecting something much different than being used for guinea pigs.
A hybrid Anabolic steroid that consisted of Creatine, Human Growth Hormone, Erythropoietin, Androstenedione, Peptide Hormones, Morphine and Heroin was mixed into their food. It increased the strength of the Marines tenfold and made them impervious to pain and discomfort. Their endurance levels far exceeded their hearts capability to pump enough blood into their enlarged muscles and a few of the side effects from the drug mixture were cardiac arrest, homicidal and suicidal tendencies. The drugs were so potent that the Marines could only keep them in their systems for a few days before they had to be given a powerful detox diuretic to flush the poison out of their system before it killed them. They were also subjected to ‘blood doping’ where their contaminated blood was pumped out, purified and replaced with a highly oxygenated version. Fatigue and exhaustion overwhelmed the Marines after these procedures and they would fall into a catatonic state, barely able to move for forty eight hours as medical personnel monitored and documented their vital signs and recovery process.
Naval Physician Doctor Peter Harbison was told that this was a top secret operation and ordered not to discuss it with anyone when he was transferred from Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. It only took him a few months to realize that he could not be a part of these heinous experiments and despite the explicit orders; he needed to a find a way to expose the activities at the secret installation. He kept detailed records of everything that transpired and when he went into town, he would stop off at an internet café and send the data about Ultimate Warrior to his friend and former medical school roommate, Doctor Paul Kersey in Oceanside.
As he was leaving the cafe one day, Doctor Harbison handed a ‘burner’ phone to the man at the desk, “I’ve already programmed the phone, if something happens to me, would you follow the instructions on it?”
The young employee had been around computers and the internet long enough to have an overly suspicious nature and vivid imagination about lurking dangers and conspiracies so he was more than willing to comply, “What’s happening?”
“I’m on a top secret mission,” Doctor Harbison responded with a wink of his eye. He thought that he had sufficiently covered his tracks, but he was dead wrong. There were men at the installation that were extremely proficient at detecting security breaches, no matter how well they were disguised, and then correcting them. Their methods were brutal and decisive.
The Palm Springs Police Department had no reason to suspect foul play and the official investigative report was that Doctor Harbison had carelessly stepped off the curb on Palm Canyon Drive and into the path of the water delivery truck on a warm Saturday afternoon.
“We need major damage control, code double red on this one,” William Pike ordered his subordinates when he was notified about Doctor Harbison’s outside communications.
Doctor Kersey sent an e-mail to his friend that evening, but did not receive a reply and sent another one in the morning before leaving for work. He was driving on South Santa Fe Avenue after leaving his home in Vista on his way to the clinic, when a black sedan pulled alongside his Toyota Camry just as he passed the Guajome Academy. Out of the corner of his eye, Doctor Kersey saw the man in the passenger seat point a pistol at him and he instinctively swerved off the two lane road into the open field. The sedan skidded to a stop then followed him across the grassy area.
What the two men in the sedan did not realize was that Doctor Kersey had a concealed/carry permit with a Glock 17 in his possession. He exited his vehicle, found cover behind the front fender and returned fire at the approaching vehicle. The driver was struck in the forehead and lost control, and the car rolled over several times. All of a sudden two more vehicles raced into the field, picked up the wounded passenger and dead driver and left before law enforcement arrived.
When the Oceanside Police arrived, they were told to stand down by an official from Homeland Security who took jurisdictional control of the scene. The government official approached Doctor Kersey, “This is a matter of national security and we’ll handle it from here. Do not discuss this matter. Can we count on your cooperation?”
Doctor Kersey was still hyped up from the encounter and didn’t know how to respond except to say, “Yeah, sure.” and the man was gone.
The Toyota Camry had several bullet holes in it, and Doctor Kersey wondered how he was going to explain the damage to his insurance company since he was ordered to not to speak about the incident.
When he arrived at the clinic, Dane was sitting on the bench outside the building, waiting for his scheduled session. He immediately detected that something was wrong when Doctor Kersey approached, “Are you alright, Doc?”
“Sorry I’m late, I had a traffic accident,” Doctor Kersey replied.
“Nothing serious, I hope.”
“I don’t think so.”
As they walked down the hall toward the back of the building, Dane sensed that Doctor Kersey was more upset than he was letting on. “Do you think you can give me a few minutes to get things organized before our meeting?” Doctor Kersey asked.
“Absolutely, take all the time you need,” Dane answered and sat down in the waiting room.
“Thanks,” Doctor Kersey, “I won’t be long.”
When he got into his private office, Doctor Kersey shut the door behind him and went through a series of slow exercises to decompress. These were the same relaxation techniques that he developed and recommended to stressed out combat veterans; such as breathing deeply and focusing on serene thoughts.
While waiting in the lobby, Dane noticed two men walking toward him and they immediately aroused his suspicions. He had been coming for treatment in the morning for several months and he knew by sight the other veterans that showed up during the same time period, even if he didn’t know them by name. These two men were not here for treatment, they were dressed in similar clothing and Dane noticed that they were wearing tactical boots, a clear indication that they were on duty.
There was a slight bulge under their jackets and Dane made an educated assumption that they were ‘packing heat’ which meant they were carrying weapons. He had seen enough of these kinds of men during his career in the Navy Seals to know that they were security contractors. Almost all of them were former military and pretty decent guys, using their specialized skills to make a living, but there were a few that had gone rogue, cold blooded mercenaries who sold their services to the highest bidder and didn’t care what they had to do to earn a dollar. Dane could not determine which category that these men fell into, but they definitely warranted his further attention.
One of the men walked up and down the hall and carefully looked into each waiting room and it was obvious that he was scouting the area. The other man sat down behind Dane.
Doctor Kersey opened the lobby door, “I’m ready, Dane.”
The employee at the Internet Café saw the photo of the pedestrian who was killed on the news and followed the instructions exactly as they were given to him; he took the phone from a box hidden in the counter, sent a message and exited through the back door. He dropped the phone on the asphalt, smashed it with the heel of his boot, picked up several shattered pieces and dropped them in different trash receptacles before returning to work through the front door.
When Dane got up, he made eye contact with the man behind him and the hairs on the back of his neck bristled, “I need to wash my hands. I’ll be right back.” On his way to the men’s room down the hall, he nonchalantly picked a screwdriver from the maintenance man’s work cart.
Doctor Kersey’s cellphone rang as he entered his office and looked at the text message; Doctor Harbison is dead. He said be careful!
The man in the waiting room inconspicuously slipped past the receptionist at the front desk while she was talking to another patient. He found his way to Doctor Kersey’s office and drew his weapon as he stepped in, “I need all your correspondence with Doctor Harbison.”
Doctor Kersey hesitated and the man’s voice became threatening in less than a second, “I could kill you and find it myself, but I was hoping you would make easy on both of us.”
Dane came up behind the armed man and stabbed him in the carotid artery while holding his hand over his mouth to keep him from making any noise, then set him down in the chair where he died in a few seconds. “You’re in some kind of trouble, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I think you’re probably right.”
“I saw one more in the hallway and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more. You can explain what this about after we get out of here.” Dane took the man’s pistol, pulled out the magazine then re- inserted it. This was a habit he picked up in the Navy Seals about never going into battle without checking his weapons first. “Is there another way out of here?”
“Follow me,” Doctor Kersey said.
The two men left through the fire exit and had almost made it to the employee parking lot when a group of men opened fire on them. Doctor Kersey started the car and Dane shot two of their attackers before getting in. The car raced out of the parking lot and down Ocean Ranch Boulevard and parked behind the Belching Beaver craft brewery. Both men entered the building and Doctor Kersey set his laptop on the table and turned it on, “Take a look at this while I get us a couple beers…any preference?”
“Dark and cold,”
Two hours and three beers later, “This is pretty heavy stuff,” Dane commented when he finished reading the information on the laptop.
“What do you think we should do?” Doctor Kersey asked.
“I should be surprised by what they’re doing to our military, but I guess that I’ve gotten too cynical to be shocked by anything that people do anymore.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“I’m not sure you’re going to like what I have to say,” Dane responded.
“Try me,” Doctor Kersey said, “Right about now I’m open to anything.”
“If I was in their position, I would designate you a serious liability that needed to be eliminated.”
“Don’t sugarcoat it for me.”
“Once they find out that I’m with you, they’ll try to kill me too,” Dane grinned, “It’s not like you’ll have to die alone.”
“I’m sorry I got you into this,” Doctor Kersey apologized.
“No big deal, I’ve spent most of my military career with people trying to kill me so this feels like a homecoming.”
“I can give the information back and promise not to say anything,” Doctor Kersey suggested, “You think that would work?”
“They don’t have any way of verifying that you didn’t make copies or told somebody like me. They won’t take that risk,” Dane pondered, “They’ll not only kill you, they’ll discredit your reputation in the process and probably make it look like I killed you in a fit of rage then committed suicide. They’ll publicize your treatment techniques as radical and dangerous and me as deranged and delusional. We were a volatile combination that was bound to turn out badly and nobody will ever find out the truth.”
“You’re very good at profiling these kinds of people.”
“I call it a necessary survival tool. The more I can predict my adversaries’ intention, the better chance I have of developing a strategic plan to defeat them,” Dane answered.
“So do you have a plan?”
“More like a vague outline of one,” Dane shrugged.
Two weeks later, Dane, Doctor Kersey and twenty former Navy Seals were hiding in the brush outside the perimeter fence of the DARPA facility in the Mojave Desert “So this is your idea of a plan?” Doctor Kersey asked.
“Best defense is a strong offense, besides this should be the last place that they would ever expect us to show up,” Dane surmised.
“We’ll catch them by surprise then?” Doctor Kersey asked.
“That surprise should last all of a few seconds. These men are professionals and will react accordingly. Hopefully your friend’s Intel about this place is accurate; because that is all we’ve got to go on once we get in.”
The former Navy Seals cut through the chain link fence while making sure that they did not trip the security sensors. The building where the Marines were being kept was several hundred yards away and this was the point of the mission where things really got dangerous. There were ten armed guards between them and their destination.
“Ten men with me and the Doc, the rest stay and engage,” Dan raced off in a full sprint and was followed his group. When the armed guards opened fire on them, the other men returned fire and kept them pinned down. The surprise attack was now officially over and the objective had to be taken. When they reached the building, Dane shot the first man at the door and they entered. The medical and research personnel were not trained or equipped for a fight so they quickly surrendered. One of the armed guards stepped out of a closet and came face to face with Dane, both men had their weapons pointed at each other, “How are you doing, Dane?”
Charlie Wilson was a former Navy Seal and had served with Dane in Seal Team Seven, years earlier. “I heard you went into private security, it’s a shame that you picked this place,” Dane commented.
“They pay well, what else can I say. I learned a long time ago about asking too many questions when it comes to this kind of work. You’re in over your head on this operation, Travers. A lot of powerful people from the deepest of the deep state got their grimy hands in this cookie jar,” Charlie commented.
“I figured that much…how do you want to play this?” Dane asked
“It’s a good day to die,” Charlie replied.
“See you on the other side,” Dane prepared to fire, when suddenly Doctor Kersey came up behind Charlie and put a bullet through the back of his head then turned to Dane, “I owed you.”
“Thanks Doc,” Dane sighed as he looked at his former comrade lying in a puddle of blood, “See you later, Charlie.”
The other guards quickly surrendered and the former Navy Seals took control of the facility. Doctor Kersey checked the Marines who were being held and found that while a few were very sick, most of them were just weak and disoriented.
Three hours later, a battalion of Marines from Twentynine Palms base and dozens of media personnel arrived at the facility. There was no way to hide what was going on now and over the next year, there were dozens of investigations and even more indictments handed down.
The opiod crisis was growing worse and it wasn’t just confined to the military, it had touched every part of the country. Doctor Paul Kersey and Dane Travers appeared before Congress and their testimony had a major effect in passing new legislation to control the use of dangerous narcotics.
However what they were most proud of was that they dealt a major blow to the Pharmaceutical Weaponization of our military.
This is a work of fiction and the product of the author’s imagination.