Stumbled Into Violence
Thomas Calabrese …Reece McCall was the only child of Robert and Katie McCall and was three years old when his parents were killed by a drunk driver early one Sunday morning while they were on their way to church in Vista, California. The drunk driver was already on probation for two previous accidents for driving under the influence, on this particular occasion his alcohol level was 2.3, almost three times the legal limit. Neither one of Reece’s parents were close with their families so when authorities contacted them about taking him in, they all refused.
So the young boy was put into the foster care system and grew up to be a strong and self-sufficient individual. Once he was old enough to understand what happened to his biological parents, Reece came to realize that life isn’t always fair or merciful and used those harsh facts as cornerstones of his development into a young man. He used athletics to burn up negative energy and would leave his home before sunrise for a strenuous workout before going to class. After team practice, Reece would either practice on his own or work at his part time job until the early morning hours. By the time he reached 18 years of age, Reece had lived in eleven different foster homes and become an expert at making sure that he didn’t have any free time for self -pity or self- reflection.
He made himself into an excellent athlete and a good student and was offered scholarships to numerous colleges in football, baseball and track during his senior year, but chose instead to join the Navy with the intent of becoming a Seal. While his childhood may have been far from ideal, it definitely prepared him for the difficult training of (BUD/S), Basic Underwater Demolition, Seal Training, a grueling six month course held at Naval Warfare Training Center in Coronado, California.
Reece was a rock and there was nothing that his instructors could throw at him that could break or even dent his emotional resolve. He was a rare breed of man and whatever he set his mind to, that was the most important thing in the world to him at that particular time. He would rather die than let someone take it away from him and once he set his mind to becoming a Navy Seal, failure was never an option. Reece’s strength was also his weakness for he could never let his guard down or expose any kind of vulnerability. What might have been the most amazing and ironic thing about this young man was that while he worked harmoniously in team situations, he still remained a loner.
After he completed all phases of training, Reece was assigned to Seal Team Seven and served with them for five years before applying to the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group commonly known as (DEVGRU) or Seal Team 6.
Of the 16 Navy Seals who applied from East and West Coast Teams, only Reece and one other man was accepted. Like all special operations forces unit that have an extremely intensive and high-risk training schedule, there can be serious injuries and deaths. This was the case in Reece’s class where two of his classmates were killed in a High Altitude Low Opening parachute jump at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base.
The assessment of new recruits was different than what Reece experienced in his previous assignment because most of the training tests for Seal Team 6 were mental and emotional because every candidate was already in peak physical condition.
Reece was put through a variety of advanced training courses that included free-climbing, land warfare, advanced unarmed combat techniques, defensive and offensive advanced driving, communications as well as training to pick locks on cars, doors and safes. After graduation, he was assigned to Black Squadron (Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance)
For the next ten years, Reece participated in covert operations all over the globe and developed contacts in a variety of skills including; forgery, computer hacking and money laundering. Many of these individuals soley operated on the dark web and only did business with a select few.
Jed Brezas was the Chief Executive Officer of Yukon, a multi-billion dollar internet company. His niece, Jennifer was executive vice-president and was expected to succeed her uncle when he retired. She had just finished dinner at Ristorante ai Castelli in the seaside town of Sesti Levante, on the Italian Rivera and was on her way back to the company yacht with her bodyguard detail. One SUV was in front and another was behind the vehicle that Jennifer was riding in. The front and rear vehicles were taken out by rocket propelled grenades, trapping the middle vehicle. The two former Navy Seals riding with Jennifer were killed by accurate sniper fire when they exited and she was taken captive. It was a precision type maneuver and took less than a minute to complete.
Twenty three hours later, Brezas received the ransom demand. The kidnappers wanted one billion Euros in the denomination of 500 Euros notes, the underworld currency of choice.
Jed Brezas had no problem accumulating the amount of the ransom; in fact he also volunteered to fund the entire rescue operation. Reece’s name came up as the operator to conduct the exchange and when he looked at the photos of the kidnapping site, he knew something wasn’t right. The bodyguards were professionals and there was no way they would have gotten off a main thoroughfare and taken a narrow street on their return to the harbor. Reece had been in this business too long to ask questions unless he had already had a pretty good idea what the answer was, so he kept his concerns to himself.
All of the phones of the security team were mysteriously missing and that was another major red flag. Reece contacted Riley Krista, a woman in her mid –twenties and one of the best in the world at wireless surveillance and decryption. He had worked with her in the past and knew she could be trusted.
“Sorry to hear about J.P. and Tucker,” Riley commented as she monitored a dozen computer screens.
“Me too,” Reece sighed, “I need a favor.”
“I need to know if the security detail received any type of communications prior to the ambush. I’ve got the time of the attack and the location, is that enough?” Reece asked.
“Everything nowadays is recorded so all I have to do is find the nearest cell tower. I’ll triangulate the signal and use my special algorithm to see what was received and transmitted during that time period. Text me everything that you have and I’ll get back to you”
Riley made contact on Skype later that evening when Reece was back at his hotel room. “I can’t tell you who sent the message, but it came from here and they used three layers of encryption to block anybody finding out,” The message was designated High Priority; Have received verifiable threat about kidnapping. Take Via Cappucini, back-up is in route.
Reece then looked at the map, “What is this area with the X?”
“A CIA safe house,” Riley shook her head in resignation; “This was not just a kidnapping.”
“Somebody knew their itinerary and set them up,” Reece assumed.
“That would be my guess,” Riley seconded, “Have you considered the possibility that if you’re there to make the exchange then you might also be a target?”
“Can you put a shadow team together for me? You know who I like to work with.”
“I’ll get right on it,” Riley answered.
“I’ll be in touch with further details,” Reece said, “Exercise extreme caution.”
“In our business the day that we stop being careful is the day they bury us,” Riley replied.
As the mission was planned, Reece saw input from various government agencies that were not normally involved in these types of hostage situations, which further confirmed his suspicions that this was a conspiracy. When Senior Chief Joe Hancock and Chief Petty Officer Anthony Martino approached Reece, it was obvious that they were picking up the same bad vibes.
“I don’t like this,” Joe commented, “You’ve got to be seeing it too.”
“Yeah, what’s going on? We never do things this way,” Anthony added.
“Your concerns are duly noted, I got your backs, don’t worry,” Reece reassured them, “Don’t say anything…let them do it their way.”
The exchange was supposed to take place at a waterfront warehouse. The Navy Seals would drive a large panel truck filled with cash into the building. They were given explicit orders not to engage the kidnappers; only to make the exchange and get out. They acknowledged their orders without question.
When they got within 300 yards of the warehouse, Reece ordered his team out of the truck, “Get out and under no circumstances get any closer than right here, understood.”
“This isn’t the plan,” Joe protested.
“It is now,” Reece said.
The Navy Seals followed orders and Reece drove to the warehouse alone. The front door was already open and he entered and disappeared from sight. Five minutes passed and the Navy Seals were growing increasingly apprehensive as they watched with binoculars for a clue on what was happening. They were not used to being confused during a mission and they were definitely out of their element.
“We need to go in,” Tony yelled.
“We were told to standfast,” Joe responded.
Thirty more seconds passed before gunfire echoed through the empty building and ten seconds after that, a massive explosion leveled the warehouse. Two hours later, rescue teams were on site and searching through the debris. Five days passed and they had only recovered a few body parts, but no evidence of Reece, the hostage or the money was ever found.
One year later at a sprawling and secluded 20 acre estate near Gopher Canyon Road in Vista, CA. Reece was feeding a group of dogs in a large fenced enclosure. Jennifer Brexas was cooking ground beef in a nearby shed and preparing the bowls of food for the animals.
Jennifer was twenty–nine years old, athletic and was one of those rare women who didn’t know or care that she was beautiful. There was a naturalness and uniqueness about her that could not be faked or imitated. She was wearing cut-off jeans, white t- shirt with several stains on it and dusty work boots. Her long brown hair hung loosely around her shoulders and every time she turned her head, the breeze gently embraced it.
Reece and Jennifer made a strange combination; a man who was a task oriented loner and a woman who was bound and determined to have the world see her as more than just a pretty face and the relative of one of the richest men in the world.
“How many more bowls do you need?” Jennifer called out.
“Three more,” Reece answered as he played with the dogs.
Reece and Jennifer were volunteering as a foster home for SPOTT Animal Rescue and when the organization had too many dogs to place in homes, they would bring the extras to the estate. Reece and Jennifer were using the name McCloud and pretending to be brother and sister.
As with many things in the world of the Intel community that are hidden in a cloak of subterfuge and deception, a straight line between two points isn’t always the shortest distance to the correct answer. It took a little time, but with Riley’s help, Reece started unraveling the mystery of the kidnapping.
Jed Brexas was using his international internet corporation to transport massive amount of drugs and weapons for the CIA. NSA was also using Yukon to launder currencies from around the world. Jed was making several billions a year on the books with his legal business and three times that much off the books with his criminal activities.
When Jennifer became suspicious of various shipments, she voiced her concerns to her uncle and immediately became a liability. Jed made up a feeble excuse about it being a top secret government contract, but Jennifer wasn’t fooled and persisted in her investigation. When some very powerful people found out about her inquiries they weren’t willing to take any chances that anything or anybody would implicate them. At first Jed adamantly resisted their idea of eliminating his niece, but was eventually convinced when he was told how easy it would be for his wife and elderly parents to have a fatal accident.
Seal Team 6 had shut down major drug supply routes and killed an army of smugglers in the process. Jed Brexas’s cartel associates saw this as their opportunity for retribution so they paid millions in bribes to corrupt politicians to have the Seals assigned to the mission. The plan was simple; Jennifer would be sent to Italy on a working vacation and be kidnapped. When the exchange went sour, Jennifer and the Navy Seal would be killed in a murderous crossfire and the billion dollars would mysteriously disappear. No one would have any reason to suspect that it was all staged. Jed even thought that it might be good for business if he played the sympathy card just right, but Reece screwed up the plan.
When Reece found out where the exchange was taking place, he had his shadow team rig the location with explosives. Since the kidnappers had no reason to think that Reece had gone rogue, they weren’t expecting to be ambushed themselves. The last thing that went through their minds was that this isn’t how it was supposed to go. Jennifer was found locked in a room and released.
In keeping with his code of conduct, Reece protected his men and achieved the mission. Even though he had to walk away from a career that he spent most of his adult life building, he’d do the same thing all over again.
Reece was sitting across from Jennifer as they ate dinner on the balcony overlooking the scenic valley from their hilltop sanctuary. “It’s been a year now and you’re safe, so it’s time for me to move on. I had some people create a new identity for you, starting with date of birth and there is nothing that will lead anybody back to you. I’ve also put 500 million dollars in several numbered bank accounts which should last you a while if you’re careful. Don’t contact anyone from your past. This is your new life, I wish you make the best.” then handed a leather briefcase to Jennifer, “Everything that you need is in here, including emergency contact numbers.”
Disappointment flashed across Jennifer’s face, “I like the life that I’ve got right now, a life that has you in it,” Jennifer responded softly, “Don’t go.”
When Reece looked into Jennifer’s eyes, he saw something that he had never seen before, someone who truly cared about him, but he had to be sure, “You don’t owe me anything, but if you feel you have to give me something , a gift card to El Pollo Loco will suffice.”
Jennifer leaned over the table and kissed Reece, “For a Navy Seal who is supposed to be an expert of surveillance, you sure miss a lot of signals.”
Three days later as they were feeding the dogs, Jennifer commented “It seems a shame to spend all those years in the Seals learning special skills then just let them go to waste. A lot of people in the world still need your help.”
“Something to think about, do you want to join me?”
“I thought that you would never ask,” Jennifer asked.
Reece imparted every bit of knowledge that he learned in the Seals and Jennifer was a talented and enthusiastic student. She continued to impress him with physical and emotional toughness.
“Very impressive,” Reece commented when they took a water break during the first half of a grueling ten mile run through the Vista hills.
“Is there such a thing as too much training?” Jennifer panted and poured water over her head.
“I guess there is, but I’ve just never seen it,” Reece answered, “Let’s go.”
“In that case, hit me with your best shot,” Jennifer took off at a full sprint up a steep incline and Reece raced to catch up.
That evening, Reece called Riley on her encrypted phone, “I’m back in business.”
“Copy that,” Riley answered.
Lieutenant General Matthew Powers served thirty years in the Marine Corps with honor and distinction and after he retired, he started an international consulting firm and had clients from all over the world including Russia and China. Department of Justice lawyers falsified evidence and indicted General Powers on tax evasion and money laundering in order to pressure him into testifying against a Senator. It was a dirty underhanded trick and that was costing an American Patriot his entire life savings to defend himself.
Ten Department of Justice lawyers were having lunch in a plush Washington D.C. eatery when Reece walked in and set a folder in front of each man, “Sorry to interrupt your lunch. The files that I have set before you contain incriminating evidence about you or members of your family. You are guilty of fabricating and falsifying evidence against General Powers. It would be in the interest of justice if you corrected the grievous error by dropping the case and reimbursing him for his legal fees.” You are illegally using the immense power of the government to go after an American patriot and my associates are very angry about this misconduct. As long as Powers is your target then you’ll stay in our crosshairs. So if you want a fight, we eagerly await the opportunity to burn you to the ground then flush you ashes down the toilet. You can take this as either a friendly warning…or a hostile threat,” Reece was gone before anyone could compose themselves enough to answer. Jennifer was waiting around the corner for him, “How did it go?”
“Good, I always like it when I can make a group of lawyers speechless,” Reece answered.
The case against General Powers was officially dropped the next day.
Reece and Jennifer were sitting a car outside a bar in Tirana, Albania. Several men walked passed their vehicle and Jennifer got a good look at their faces, “Those are two of the men who kidnapped me,” Jennifer commented.
“I’m a little thirsty…care to join me for a drink?” Reece suggested.
Jennifer checked her pistol and slipped it back into her jacket, “Love to.”
When Reece and Jennifer entered the bar, all eyes turned to them. They sat at a table in the back and a large muscular man with a thick beard approached. “We would like to see a drink menu,” Reece said.
The man replied in a deep voice and broken English, “This is not a place for tourists.”
Jennifer interjected, “What about kidnappers?”
The man reached for his weapon and Reece shot him in the forehead. Jennifer shot two more men and Reece finished off three more. When the bartender reached for a shotgun, Reece and Jennifer both shot him and he fell over the bar. Jennifer picked up a bottle of wine on the way out and looked at the label, “Good vintage.”
Over the next nine months, Reece and Jennifer and their shadow team executed an all-out offensive on Jed Brexas and his associates. Drug and weapons shipments were being hijacked and warehouses were being destroyed all over the world. Leaders in the conspiracy convened an emergency summit meeting to discuss their options. Crime bosses began arriving at the fortified compound in the San Jacinto Mountains in the community of Idyllwild, California as armed guards patrolled the perimeter. While the meeting was going on, a fire broke out in the area and with the dry and windy conditions; mandatory evacuations were ordered for the residents.
Jed reassured his associates, “Do not worry…we have a full fire department on site and state of the art equipment.”
Farther down the highway, Reece flashed a fake I.D. and badge to the Deputy Sheriff at a checkpoint “I need to get in.”
“The fire is moving quickly, be careful, you don’t want to get trapped,” The Deputy Sheriff warned.
“Thanks,” Reece responded.
They drove for several miles in through a smoky haze until they came upon a ‘firenado’ ( a whirlwind induced by a fire and made up of flame or ash that develops in a tornado-lie vortex that sucks in burning debris and combustible gases) coming toward them.
Seeing no escape, Reece pulled off the road, opened the trunk and pulled out a large fire resistant blanket. He ran with Jennifer until they found a ravine and they jumped in and pulled the blanket over them. The roar of the fire was deafening as it passed overhead.
When they thought it was clear, they came out from their shelter to see a blackened and charred landscape and their vehicle melted into the road. “I guess we’re walking from here,” Jennifer commented.
Back at the compound, dozens of men were fighting the fire as it approached the perimeter as Jed Brexas and his associates watched from a safe distance. During the confusion, Reece and Jennifer were able to breech security then killed four guards once they got inside the structure.
Jed turned to his criminal cohorts and reassured them, “I told you that there was nothing to worry about. We’ve got everything under control.”
Reece and Jennifer opened fire at that moment. Somewhere along the path called life, Reece and Jennifer took a Detour To The Greater Good and Stumbled Into Violence.