Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Allright, we are back! Expect a new post in the next 24 hours, that's a promise!

See you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Short comment

Really awful that shit in Norway. Guy's a certified psycho, that's for sure. I wonder how come nobody is asking questions as HOW and WHERE he got an automatic weapon from, in Norway, of all places?
Anyway, pretty dreadful business, and to make things worst, lots of kids killed (mostly kids). Damn. We just made this quick post to express our  hope that guy burns in hell, the stupid m*****f*****.

See you soon.

P.S: Ok, we made a quick check with some friends (90% sure): that Breivik nut case had a LEGAl (yeah...) Glock-17 handgun, and a (also legal) Ruger Mini-14 (semi-automatic rifle thus not capable of full-auto fire). The Glock and the Ruger Mini-14 were the weapons he used. Despite being semi-auto only, the Ruger Mini-14 has standard 30-round clips and the Glock-17 has standard 17-round clips. Pretty nasty stuff for a civilian, if you ask me (by European standards). I wonder: they dont do any background and psychologic checks before issuing gun permits in Norway? How come they dindn't noticed the guy was a nut case??

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wednesday (4): Tragedy

Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK)
Bundeswehr Special Forces Coat of Arms

"That son of a bitch" repeated Colonel Wolfgang-Albert with a cold smile. He seemed lost in his own toughts for a moment. Nobody talked.
"Anyway" he said, after some seconds "the General briefed me on the mission details: I was to take command of 16 navy divers, in charge of the technical part of the recovery. The security detail would be formed by 12 special forces men, of the KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte). They would join us in site, and they were responsible for all the aspects of the operation not directly connected with the diving and recovery of the drums; This meant perimeter security and interdiction, and, when the drums had been recovered, to escort them to their final destination."
"And that final destination, was?..." Ed asked.
The Colonel shrugged: "I made the same question. I was supposed to be instructed about it when all 32 drums had been recovered. I tought it was a bit strange, but the Army is specialist in doing strange things. Something else I asked the General was why we were using Army and not Navy special forces in the security detail, as we were going to use Navy divers, anyway. His awnser was: "Well Wolfgang, in a matter as delicate as this one, better to get both branches involved, dont you think? Let's call it a joint operation with shared responsabilities." I understood perfectly: in case something would go wrong, nobody was going to come out of it clean, so there would not be any finger-pointing. Typical".
All three of us shared smiles: as cynical as it would seem, that's the way things work in every army in the world.The Colonel went on: "Regarding the special forces team, the General told me: "Those men are suposed to be currently in Afghanistan. That's what their families think and that's what the records are going to show. They have been confined to the base and they will be shipped back to Afghanistan as soon as this mission is over; That will keep them away from unnecessary questions." The Colonel lifted an eyebrow: "Really, when I heard that, I tought it was a bit overkill in what concerned the need for secrecy. Afterwards, I met the divers and I exchanged some words with them: they were young, but they impressed me by their extreme professionalism. They had some questions for me, details they needed to know about depth, access, possible obstructions and so on. We left Eckernförde early next morning, a column of four trucks and a command vehicle. We met the special forces convoy in the way, and arrived at Schwepnitz discreetly as advised, late afternoon. The divers unpacked their gear while the special forces set up camp and then I allowed the men some rest. Diving would begin next morning."
Bundeswehr NBC-proof Shelter

"What was the excuse for being there, in case someone showed up, Colonel?" Johnny asked.
"You mean the cover story?" The Colonel smiled: "We were supposed to be there to finish the cleanup of debris and eco-sanitize the place. In Germany we are very environmental-friendly these days".
Johnny smiled: "And was it necessary ? I mean, did someone show up to stick their nose in it?"
The Colonel waved his head: "No. Nobody was curious enough. I think nobody in town even noticed we were there."I had seen the aerial photo, and I'd noticed the forest and the trees cover between the camp site an the town, so I was not surprised.
"The work started next morning" he continued. "The men were going down in 4-men team, two helmet divers as the work team and two more for support. One of the trucks we had brought from Eckernförde had two huge air compressors and they could stay down there for as long as they wanted, but they were changing shifts every two hours."
"You had to blast your way in? I mean, all entrances were sealed, right?"
"Yes and no" the Colonel awnsered "the main entrance had been levelled and blocked with cement, but they left the work incomplete, as one service stair and a couple of breathing shafts were still open to the surface; the shafts were dead-ends, so the divers decided to use the service stairs instead, despite being too far away from the cabinet, behind wich was the secret entrance to the remaining underground levels. But it was the only viable solution, to allow the divers to enter and the drums to come out."
Portable decompression chamber
"Was it easy to get to the cabinet in the second level?" Ed asked.
"No!" the Colonel made a hand gesture to emphatize his awnser "it was a fuckin' nightmare just to get to it. Everything was crummed with garbage, desks, chairs, whatever. There was still everything down there, and the  divers had to be very careful about it. First thing they did was clear a path, moving away all that furniture and removing all the office doors, to allow the drums to pass when they would reach them. Plus, as you imagine, it was pitch black, in the beginning."
"In the beginning?" I frowned.
"We set up underwater lights" the Colonel explained "connected to the generator outside. It's the big advantage of working relatively close to the surface: we placed dozens, and I mean DOZENS of underwater spotlights, all along the the divers path".
"So, at least darkness was not a problem anymore?"
"The darkness no, but the water was extremely dirty, just the same. There was also the problem of the blast doors. There were two and they were sealed shut. One of them we managed to open; the other one, the divers had to partially cut. They used grinders powered by compressed air and thermal lances - a very powerful kind of torch that works underwater. Even so, it took two full days, working around the clock, just to go through the doors and reach the hidden entrance. The cabinet giving access to it was rusted in place, so they cut it too. I used to stay in the command car, following the work on closed-circuit tv."
"They placed cameras, underwater?" Asked Johnny.
"Oh, yes. We could see everything they were doing down there and we had voice coms, too. When they reached the hidden levels, we noticed the stairs were completely free and the elevator was on the last level. So, the divers chose to use the stairs to strech the cables through, because we were going to use the elevator shaft to take the drums out. So, they placed the cables and air hoses all along the stairs, the whole six levels to the bottom. They cut through the elevator to create a passage to the corridors of the last level and installed a winch on top of the elevator shaft.  That made things a lot easier, because the divers could go down and back up using the winch, through the elevator shaft."

Military decontamination tent and suits

"It seems dangerous" said Ed "the air hoses were not getting stuck along the shaft, when the divers were going up and down?"
"They were going up and down using small air tanks" the Colonel explained "once in the bottom they connected the hoses they had placed along the stairs." The Colonel smiled: "I have to admit it, in the beginning I tought it was going to be a lot easier. But the setup we had in place was really impressive."
"Were there problems? I mean, accidents?" Ed asked.
"No, no diving accidents, at all. The men were very careful, very professional. Once and awhile they would stay a bit longer down to finish some task, but when something like that happened, they were using the decompression chambers we had, just to be sure."
"You had a decompression chamber? But isn't that a huge thing?"
"If you're talking about the fixed installations for several divers, yes. But we had four small portable ones, cylinders with just the size of a man."
"I understand" I said. "Please, go on".
"On the third day we started to cut through the blast door lock of the sixth level" the Colonel continued. "It took around six hours to get it open. The inside compartement was flooded, of course, like all the rest. But all of the 32 drums were there."
"Intact? Not rusted?" Johnny asked.
"We could see some signs of rust, yes. But it didn't seemed as if there were any leaks. Nevertheless, we took some precautions: the divers suits were totally cleaned in a decontamination tent every time they came out, and it was decided that all drums would be brought to the first level but kept underwater until the last moment. When all the drums would had been brought to the first level, all personel - and I mean ALL, including the special forces men in charge of security - would use NBC suits while the drums would be placed inside a security container in one of the trucks."
Bundeswehr NBC-proof shelter on truck

"You still had no idea where you were supposed to take them?"
"Not yet. I had orders to radio in when all the drums were ready to leave, I mean, loaded in the trucks".
"And those trucks, were they in any way, special?"
"They had boxes able to be hermetically sealed, a  very common type of Bundeswehr NBC portable shelters; the idea was: if nothing can go inside one of those shelters, then nothing can come out."
"I see the point" I said. "And this was when...?"
"In the evening of the seventh day, we had every drum in the first level close to the exit, and we were ready to load, but the men were exausted. Specially the divers, had been working non-stop 2 hours out of every 8, in the last seven days. They were clearly on edge, awnsering funny on the radio, even wobbling a little, once and awhile; so, I decided to let everybody, but the sentries, have a whole night sleep. Next day we would load the drums and leave."
The Colonel made a pause and I was schocked when I noticed he was sweating profusely and seemed deeply shaken.
"It was during the night that all hell broke loose. It was a fucking slaughter, a massacre."
We were frozen in place waiting for his next words.
The Colonel lifted his eyes to us and they were still haunted:
"It was the divers, you understand ?"

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Again my apologies, we have been busy: we are kind of relocating and installing a cozy nice headquarters or base or home call it what you like,  lots of stuff to buy and install, some of it you dont even imagine...  And no, no action yet, but lots of new info that we have already. I'll tell you all about in the future. About the Colonel's revelations and the general terms of our contract, I'm preparing a post tonight.. So y'all out there who have been too kind to follow this blog, you can expect an extensive post tomorrow. Scout's honor. See you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wednesday (3): " I place my trust in you, Herr Oberst"

"In the years following those events, I continued my career in the Bundeswher, until this year" said the Colonel "and I was even promoted to the rank of Oberst (Colonel)"...
Johnny interrupted: "I'm sorry: Again ? I tought you were already a Colonel in GDR armed forces ?"
The Colonel nodded shortly: "I was. But when some officers of the extinct GDR armed forces were integrated in the Bundeswher, they were demoted one rank. I was Oberst, (Colonel), so I entered the Bundeswher with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. That's why, when those events took place in 1992,  I was Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant-Colonel) in the Bundeswher."
Johnny nodded: "I understand".
"So, years went by, and I was promoted again to the rank of Colonel, mostly  in charge of bureaucratic work."
The Colonel smiled briefly: "And I was getting close to my retirement, also." He made a weird and bitter expression:  "I'm now as good as retired anyway... But let me continue..."The man leaned back in his chair, the first relaxed movement I saw him do.
"In the beginning of this year, I received orders to present myself at Eckernförde".

Eckernförde, in the Baltic Sea
 "Eckernförde ?" I asked (my knowledge of German is not that extensive, so I had no idea what he was talking about).
"Eckernförde is near Kiel, in the North of Germany" the Colonel explained "it's the base of, between other things, the MITA company, a unit belonging to the SEK M".
Our blank expressions told the colonel that we were totally lost.
"MITA stands for Minentaucher; the Minentaucherkompanie are the german navy's mine clearing divers, a very elite unit wich is part of SEK M, the Navy special forces. The SEK M, equivalent to the American Navy Seals, has combat divers, the Kampfschwimmer, but also mine clearance divers. Do you understand ?" The Colonel's voice sounded a bit impatient.
"Crystal." I awnsered. "So you were ordered to meet this mine clearance divers unit at... Eckernförde, right ?".
 "That's correct." The Colonel opened both hands as to underline his point: "I was Army, you see? So you can understand my surprise, being ordered to join a Navy unit. But I went to Eckernförde, of course. When I arrived at Eckernförde, my direct superior was there. He was General A."

(Note from me: Here I must apologize -  the name of "General "A" must remain a secret for the time being. Let's say it's part of our "ensurance policy": a kind of "nuclear weapon" to be released only in the case of our... sudden death. I'm sure all you readers out there will understand).

Minentaucher - Mine clearance divers of the German Navy
Coat of Arms
"The General was waiting there for me" the Colonel continued "and our conversation was very short and very much to the point. "Wolfgang" he asked me "you were the officer in charge of security at Schwepnitz, when the Russians were leaving, in 92. Is this correct?" I was dumbfounded by the question but I told him that he was right.
"And you were responsable for the reception and storage of a cargo of 32 chemical drums, when you were there, wasn't so?"
"It was so, General."
The General waved his head a if he was very worried:
"Wolfgang, did the Russians told you to flood the bunkers with those drums in there ?"
The Colonel stared at us: "That's when it started to hit me that "maybe" someone was trying to pin the blame for some stupid mistake on ME. So, I told him: "Yes, General, but the instructions, despite being originally issued from Moscow, were confirmed by the Bundeswher's headquarters. I was not goin to flood a russian secret base without confirmation, not in those days!"

SEK M - German Navy Special Forces
Coat of Arms
"When I said that, maybe a bit defensively, the General tried to look friendly" the Colonel told us. "He even assured me he was not blaming me...
"Well Wolfgang, that was a mistake" he said. "Not your mistake: I'm aware that you received your orders. But someone's mistake, nevertheless. We have to correct that mistake, as soon and as quietly as possible."
The Colonel smiled at us: "I should have know that, when the army tells you things are to be kept quiet, someone's got or is about to get into a very serious shitstorm."
At this point, the Colonel shrugged:
"Anyway, the General leaned over his desk and continued to talk to me in a very confidential tone: "I hate to put you in this position Colonel, but your knowledge of this matter and the trust that I place in you, assure me that I will not be disappointed. I'm putting you in charge of  a team of special force's divers, you will go to Schwepnitz discreetly, and you will  take those damned drums out of there, Wolfgang."
The Colonel made a cold smile at us:
"That son of a bitch."

(to help you understand all those German names)

Bundeswher - Germany armed forces.
GDR - Former East Germany armed forces (it doesn't exist anymore)
Oberst - Colonel
Oberstleutnant - Lieutenant-Colonel
Eckernförde - Coastal city in the north of Germany, near Kiel.
MITA, Minentaucher - Mine Clearance Military Divers
Minentaucherkompanie - Company of Mine Clearance Divers
SEK M, Spezialisierte Einsatzkräfte Marine - Navy Special Forces
Kampfschwimmer - Combat divers

Friday, July 8, 2011

Trip to Marseille

Today we have spent the whole afternoon and part of the evening at Marseille (we just arrived) that's why I really could not post anything today. I will tell you all about it very soon.  Just in case you're wondering, we haven't seen any action yet, but we have been really BUSY. Tomorrow I'll try to post about the rest of our meeting with our (now) employers. My apologies to you all, ladies and gentlemen.

See you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Schwepnitz secret base

Aerial photo of the Soviet secret base at Schwepnitz, before 2006, when it was "sanitized" by the actual German government : above ground facilities were bulldozed and completely levelled, and underground entrances were covered with concrete. You may see the original Russian caption and the English translation made by yours truly. I apologize if I made some minor errors in the translation, but my russian is not very good...

аэроснимок Швепницы

1, 2, 3, 4 - жилые дома  5 - общежитие  6 - солд.столовая  7 - штаб и клуб  8 - двухэтажная казарма  9 - автопарк   10 - склады    11- две одноэтажные казармы    12 - подземный объект. Под землёй шесть этажа

Aerial view of Shvepnitsy (russian name for Schwepnitz)

1, 2, 3, 4 - houses   5 - hostel   6 - soldiers barracks   7 - Officers mess   8 - two-store barracks   9 - Car pool    10 - Warehouses    11 - two single-store barracks    12 - Underground facility. Six floors below ground.

Wednesday (2) : The Meeting

Ok: maybe I didn't realise we were in big trouble, not at once. But it stroke me that we were definitely into something BIG.
The two faces I recognized immediatly (as Johnny and Ed also did) were (are) both politicians, both Germans, with one difference between them: one is in power, the other in the opposition; one is center-right, the other is center-left. "Right wing, left wing" I remeber thinking quite foolishly "if we had an engine we could build an airplane". Ok, so it was something rather stupid to think at that moment but, honestly, that's what crossed my mind. They all stood up when we entered and the Swiss made the honors: "I suppose you recognize this lady and this gentleman" he meant the politicians "the next gentleman is Colonel Wolfgang-Albert, former officer of the GDR armed forces; the three gentlemen next to him are important businessman with interests in the matter at hand." Everybody nodded briefly, but nobody stretched their hands at us; I personally disliked it, but we were not there to make friends, so...
The Swiss carried on: "My name is Charles and I am into banking."
"Ah!"  I tought  "I should have guessed".
"My friends, these are the professionals we were waiting for" the man said addressing the others "but please, let's all be seated, shall we?" We all took our chairs, the three of us on one side of the table, the others on the opposite side.
"So, without further delay, I will ask Colonel Wolfgang-Albert to carry on from here. Colonel?"
The Colonel was a tall man, a bit yellowish, gray hair, with the unmistakable look of the professional military; he had been sizing us up quite openly since the moment we entered the room. He speaked in short bursts, with a heavy german accent.
"Thank you, Charles" he said, and the banker took a seat. "Gentlemen" the colonel turned to us on his heavy german accented english "the job we want to propose you it's a bit different of the type of work you use to do. In order to fully understand all the implications, I have to brief you about some background events". He made a pause, and then started:

Map of East Germany - I marked the same Soviet bunkers signalled in the original
map that Colonel Wolfgang-Albert showed us. (click on the map to enlarge)
"As my friend Charles just told you, I was a  Lieutenant Colonel in the GDR armed forces, and after that, Colonel in the Bundeswher" (GDR means German Democratic Republic or East Germany and Bundeswher its the actual german defense force, in case you readers lost it here).
"I was in the GDR armed forces during the Cold War, in the secret service. Please do not confuse it with Stasi, the secret police: I was in military intelligence." The way he underlined "military intelligence" and almost spit when he said Stasi told me our former Colonel was not very fond of the old east-german secret police.
"As you surely know,during the Cold War, the Soviet Red Army established several secret bases in east-german soil, in the event of a third world war: some of those secret bases were command and control centers, some were research centers, others were weapons sites and some were just ammunitions bunkers. Nowadays, they're not a secret anymore: some were levelled down, or converted into museums for tourists to visit, but most of it are just there to rot."
The Colonel made a pause and pushed two printed pages across the table: "Those, are satellite photo with a caption in russian and a map: In the map, I marked some of the more important of those secret installations: Mohlau, Kossa, Falkenhagen and Schwepnitz." He made another pause while we consulted the photo and the map with red dots he passed us.
"I was an officer in charge of security at Schwepnitz".
"Schwepnitz" the Colonel continued "was a command and control post, tought to serve as a second line option in case NATO would destroy one of the main stations, like Kossa. I was in charge of outside perimeter security and my counterpart, a Soviet Colonel senior to me, was in charge of the base security". The Colonel smiled briefly: "The russians always managed to outrank us, either placing a counterpart of higher rank or, at least, with more years of seniority. And the bases were always managed by soviet personnel."
"So you didn't work inside the base?" Ed asked.

Falkenhagen: Partial view of one of the chemical or biowarfare laboratories
(several years after emptied and abandoned by the Russians) 
 "No. Outside perimeter security only, even our barracks were on the outside. There were no germans inside the base, only russians. They had everything in there, besides the operational buildings, and underground instalations, there were acomodations for the soldiers, officers and families, a swimming pool, even schools for the children. Totally self contained. The underground facilities even had their own "dresscode" as I had never seen. However, that changed, in the end." He made a vague gesture with his hands: "I am sure everyone remembers the chaos in the Eastern Block after the fall of the Wall; The Soviet Union had already understood that things were going to change and they had started to quietly dismantle their bases some time before. The most delicate materials and technology were completely removed. It was the case of Falkenhagen, one of the first to be emptied: the russians started to empty Falkenhagen in 1990 and finished in 1992."
We quickly searched the map: Falkenhagen was also near the Polish border, but further to the north.
"Any of you gentlemen heard about Falkenhagen before?"  the Colonel asked.
As we awnsered negatively, he continued: "There were then, and still are, the most incredible rumours about what the russians were doing in that place. You see, during World War II, Falkenhagen was a nazi secret laboratory, bound to produce rocket fuel for the V2 bombs, new incendiaries and poison gas. After that, during the cold war, the russians took possession of it: that's when the rumours started, about the production of the most strangest things: plasma weapons, nerve gas, anti-satellite rocketry, biowarfare, chemical weapons... Most of it were only silly rumours, of course."
"Most of it ? Not all ?" Johnny asked.

Kossa: Command and control center (now a museum)
The Colonel nodded, with a heavy expression on his face: "Mostly yes, but some of it was more than rumors."
"I see" said Johnny "please, carry on".
"As I was saying" the Colonel continued "Falkenhagen was between the first ones to be emptied; some of the material they had there was relocated to Schwepnitz, I never quite understood why. Maybe they hoped to keep at least some of their bases, maybe they had logistics problems, I really don't know. In 1992 we received at Schwepnitz two convoys of trucks loaded with material from Falkenhagen. The first one carried electronic material, mostly radar. That one, my soviet counterpart handled personally. The second convoy, a couple of weeks later, carried 32 drums with chemicals. Two-hundred-liter drums very carefully packaged."
The Colonel drank a bit of water and we kept silent. Afterwards, he continued: "The handling of that convoy, reception, unloading, stow away the materials, was all under  my reponsability, this time: the russian colonel  and the most part of the high-rank russian officers at Schwepnitz had been called to Moscow a week earlier, and they never returned. I think they knew the end was near. Anyway, it was up to me to take care of that cargo: so I did."
"And they told you wich chemichals were those?" I asked.
"Absolutely not" the Colonel awnsered firmly.  "The cargo manifesto only stated "32 drums of sensitive chemicals" and enclosed there was a sheet of paper with stowage instructions... In russian." The Colonel smiled: "Thankfully I read russian. Basically, we were asked to stow away the drums in the sixth underground level and keep all the precautions usually employed when handling chemical weapons. That's why we all tought it was nerve gas."
The Colonel smiled shortly: "I know now that it wasn't. But then, that's what we tought it was. So, we carried the drums to the sixth sub-basement. It is important to remember this: SIXTH underground level. The information available today, wich is not that much because Schwepnitz was never explored after beeing abandoned, mentions TWO underground levels; that is incorrect: there are SIX underground levels, and that's were we placed all the 32 drums."
"And there were problems ?" I asked.
"Not at all" the Colonel awnsered. "The drums were very heavy-duty, with reinforcement belts, and we took them down one by one, in the service elevator. That was a real nerve-wrecking task for the soldiers involved, despite the fact they were wearing full NBC protection: rubberized suits, boots, gloves, mask, everything. But it was nerve-wrecking, all the same, because we had to do 32 elevator round-trips: you see, to the sixth level there was only a small elevator capable of carrying 4 people; plus the stairs of course, but that was out of the question. So, each time we would place one drum and one soldier in full gear in the cabin and sent it down. But everything went well, no accidents."
"No spills?" Ed asked.
"No spills" confirmed the Colonel. "Afterwards, we radioed to Moscow  the task was done. The awnser from Moscow was simple: "Seal it." All levels had NBC blast-proof doors, and that level was to storage only, so we closed the doors and considered the matter finished."
"And what happened when the base was closed definitely?" It was Ed who asked.
The Colonel nodded: "I was going there. A couple of days later, we received a prioritary message from Moscow via Berlin, concerning the underground levels of Schwepnitz; Again, the request was simple: "Flood it". So we did.
"You flooded it? How have you done that?" I asked, a bit surprised.
"It was simple, really" the Colonel awnsered. "We had a huge water tower connected to the underground stores by large pipes. All we had to do was open the valves."
Probably I looked surprised, because the Colonel added: "It was standard procedure, you understand?  Many, if not all, russian bases had this system in place, to quickly flood the underground bunkers in case of fire, contamination, or to avoid capture. I know that Falkenhagen, for instance, had the same system. But, as they managed to completely empty the base, they never had to use it there."
"I understand now Colonel, thank you for your clarification" I thanked him.
"Not at all. It is amusing but, some time ago, I read in the newspaper Der Spiegel an article about old Cold War  bunkers and they mentioned that Schwepnitz had two underground levels - when they were six; that doesn't surprises me, because only a small number of the soviet there knew about those hidden four extra levels. I didn't knew! Came as a surprise to me when Moscow instructed me how to get there, using a hidden elevator desguised behind a large cabinet. The newspaper also mentioned the underground levels were flooded by rain water ! As if a russian command bunker could be flooded by rain water..." The Colonel seemed mildly amused. "Anyway, some weeks after those events my detachement was transferred further south. It came to my knowedge, some months later,  the base had been closed and, to all practical effects, abandoned. In 2006 the remaining buildings and support structures were bulldozed and the terrain levelled. I tought it would be the last time I was going to hear about Schwepnitz."
"But it wasn't ?" Ed asked.
The Colonel stared at him, very serious: "It wasn't."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wednesday: The Pick-Up

On Wednesday, the same driver arrived at the exact scheduled time. When he asked for Mr. A . Michel at the front desk, I was watching from behind one of the lounge couches. I stood up and when he saw me, he made the same polite smile: "Your car is ready, sir".
"Very well...Let's go then".
He  made a short nodd and preceeded me outside: he didn't ask for the others and I made a mental bow to the man's professionalism. The same black Mercedes was parked near the Hotel entrance. He opened the rear door for me, and took his place behind the wheel.
"Drive to the end of the street please, my friends are there waiting" I asked.
Again the same polite smile. The big Mercedes came alive and he did as I told him. Ed and Johnny were at the corner and I opened the door for them. "We can go, now".
"Very well, sir". We crossed the streets of Monte-Carlo packed with people: Prince Albert and his fiancée are getting married very soon, and I suppose the guests and papparazzi started to arrive already. It did crossed my mind that it was a good time to be in Monaco: there's always a lot of tourists here, but now, with so many strangers arriving, there is no way anybody is going to notice three more foreigners.
The roads on the hills above Monte-Carlo: the sharp drop on the left
gives you the general idea...

After leaving Monte-Carlo, the car started to climb the roads of the Principality that lead to the hills. Dozens of impressive villas and mansions passed by, most with tall gates and large walls. The monegasque population is not what you would call your average Joe, if you know what I mean. With a professional eye we noticed the remote controlled cameras and the intrusion sensors on top of many walls.
Some of the houses had French Gendarmes standing guard outside: holliday homes of either members of the French Government or foreign Ambassadors or VIP's. At a certain point, we all smiled: One of the gates had a french policeman on one side and an Arab with a Kalashnikov on the other. Funny.
The Mercedes kept climbing the narrow and twisted roads with ease, left corner, right corner, left corner, right corner... No wonder late Princess Grace (former Hollywood diva Grace Kelly) died in a terrible car accident in one of these roads.

After 45 minutes, we came to a halt in front of a green iron gate with cameras on both pillars. The gates opened, and, as we entered a large driveway, I could see two guys in dark suits, with walkie-talkies: bodyguards. In front of the building, two more suit-like types. The three of us exchanged glances; That was going to happen a lot in the next two hours.
The house itself was what I considered a "chateau" or a large manor if you want (not that I'm an expert or anything). As the driver took us inside, I had the distinct feeling this was not a place where people would usually live: too many closed windows, no servants on sight, furniture too neat, very few tire marks on the driveway. "Probably rented on purpose for this meeting" I tought.
A man on his fifties, slim, white hair, was waiting for us downstairs: "Welcome, gentlemen" he said, with a short smile and an unmistakeable "Swiss" accent.
He waved his hand for us to follow him: "Everybody is here already" he said, while we followed him upstairs. "We were just waiting for you gentlemen to arrive". He knocked on a door, and entered, with us on trail. The room was probably tought to be used as a library, as it had bookshelves in all four walls and in the center a long table and chairs. Six people were already sitting at the table, and faces turned as we entered. I recognized two of them, a man and a woman. That's when I understood we were in BIG trouble.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I really have to apologize: Things really have been happening very fast and it was almost impossible to keep records up to date - in here, at least. Only now I have the time to sit and write about what happened on Wednesday, last week. It was what happened that day that made us take the decision to keep this kind of internet record. Because things that took place on that Wednesday, one week ago, were not that "normal" - even if the concept of "normality" seldom applies to our kind of business. Since last Friday - the day we took the firm  decision to keep records and start posting - we have been, let's say it this way, "in a shopping spree". Very entartaining and educational by the way, if you dont mind me saying it... So please just give me a couple  of hours, and you will have a new post explaining what happened. We are not in Hotel Metropole anymore, you know?

Short note: Of course we have been keeping an eye on our visitors in this blog. Surprisingly (or maybe not) our little "memoir" became very popular, very fast. Just for the record, and without too many details: we are posting through a proxy-slave with a wireless public connection, and that proxy sits two countries away - just incase. There are some things that not even the best spy programs can do, thankfully...

Ok, after this short private note, give us some time and we will have our next post in a few hours.
See you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tuesday: The Phone Call

As it turned out, I was the last one on the team to arrive 'cause Ed and Johnny were there already. I spare you the description of our get-together, except for the fact that we were all three equally puzzled by these "new guys" and also by the apparent ease they spent 30.000 Euros just to have the pleasure of a chat with us. We agreed they knew us from our intervention in the battle for N'djamena, in the Chad conflict, three years ago - kind of a no-brainer 'cause the Swiss had mentioned that to Ed, anyhow. We also agreed that someone willing to spend 30.000 just like that, would be probably a very nice employer - depending of the job they would want us to perform, obviously... I just hope these guys are not going to be part of some Al Qaeda secret cell and ask us to kill Obama, or something crazy like that. Nah... Just kidding. The Al-Qaeda doesn't hire mercenaries - at  least not our kind. They have their own system of "martyrs" I guess, but you see my point: if the task is not something irrealistic, this could very much be a dream job. What else...?
Oh, something that impressed us in a positive way, was the fact the "new guys" had left a cellular phone for us in the main desk, one of those prepaid models. That told us they were playing it super-safe: having a cell phone it's a way to bypass the hotel desk. So, we had dinner in separate tables (no need to draw unnecessary attention to our team) and it was a very nice dinner, by the way - unfortunately, being "at work" none of us tasted the great wines they had in the cellar...
Between the air conditioner and the triple sized bed, I slept all night like a baby.

The hotel swimming pool.
I can hardly believe we are being PAID to be here.
After breakfast we hit the hotel swimming pool, taking the cell phone with us. It's some outstanding pool, I'll tell'ya! Nice view too, with lots of bikinis...
The morning went by, so lunch time. After lunch, we decided to wait together in my room. The call came at 16:00 sharp. I was the one closer, so I picked up:
"Hello" said a voice with a slight accent on the other side. "Eagle seven eight ?"
I almost dropped the phone: "Eagle seven eight" used to be my radio callsign in the N'djamena deal. How in hell those guys knew that? How in hell they knew immediatly it was me awnsering, not Ed or Johnny? Well, something to think about later.
"Eagle seven eight?" The voice insisted.
"Yes, it's me." I awnsered, after recovering my voice.
"Are your associates with you ?"
"Yes, we are all here."
"May I ask you to switch to loudspeaker, please ?" The man's voice was polite.
"Of course, just give me a second." I switched the phone to loudspeaker mode and placed it on the table. The three of us got around it.
"Raptor twenty-one ?" The voice asked again. It was Johnny's callsign.
"I'm here" Johnny awnsered.
"Exordia ?" Ed's call, this time.
"I'm here too" he said.
"I hope you gentlemen had a pleasant trip and found your accomodations suitable ?"
"Yes, everything is OK, thank you" I said.
"Good. I regret to inform  you gentlemen  that one of the people who was supposed to meet with you today had some unexpected delay. So, if it is convenient for you gentlemen, the meeting will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, in the afternoon ? We will take care of all the extra expenses regarding your accomodation, of course..."
I glanced at my mates and they both nodded."No problem, tomorrow it is" I awnsered.
"Wonderful" the guy on the phone said. "Do you gentlemen need something else ?"
"Nothing, thank you. The only thing we need is more information about the job, but I suppose that will have to wait 'til tomorrow ?"
"Indeed" The man seemed almost apologetic. "In that case, a car will pick you up at your hotel, tomorrow at 18:00  if this will be convenient to you ?"
We changed glances. "We were under the impression that the meeting would take place here, in the hotel ?"
The Swiss (or whoever was the man with the accent) seemed apologetic again: "I'm afraid my employers prefer to meet you gentlemen in a place less... public. Is this a problem ?"
I checked with the others: both shrugged. "No problem at all".
"Perfect. The driver will look for Mr A. Michel on the front desk. Is this acceptable?"
" Very well. Until tomorrow then."
"'OK, bye".
When I pressed the button to terminate the call, we looked at each others:
"Heyyy! It seems we're going to have an extra day of vacations" laughed Johnny.
Ed glared at him, a bit annoyed: "Yeah, another day to wonder what this deal is all about. You guys noticed what he said about "his employers" ?"
"Yeah" I said. "Seems like our Swiss is not the boss, after all."
"So it seems, yeah. And how did he knew it was you on the phone ?"
"I wonder the same" I said. "I propose we sweep this room for bugs and cameras ?"
"I don't think we're going to find anything. Probably the guy knew your voice already."
I remembered the driver saying he had seen my picture: If they had pictures, probably they had recordings too. "Maybe you're right".
"So, we have one more day to kill" commented Johnny. "What about ?"
"Pool, dinner, sleep, breakfast, pool, lunch, rest" awnsered Ed, concisely.
Me and Johnny both pretended to be very disappointed: "No Monte-Carlo night-life, then ?"

Monday, afternoon: The Trip

I showed up very early in the cafe, warned the owner that someone would leave a package for me, and dropped him a 20 note "for your help". Then, I sat in the terrace of another cafe in front and took breakfast. A very long breakfast in fact, 'cause the UPS guy only showed up around nine. I let slip a couple of minutes  and went to get my package.
My pal was not lying: those guys were for real. Inside a large sized envelope I found an airplane ticket to Nice, via Paris, depart within two hours. A first class ticket, in Air France, no low-cost companies here... Also a small package with 10.000 Euros and a printed card: "Car with driver will pick you up in Nice airport. Room reserved in Hotel Metropole, Monte-Carlo, under the name of Mr. A. Michel. Please wait for call."
"Hotel Metropole, huh?" I tought to myself. "Well, well, well..." 
I had to run, to make it on time to the airport: I sure was glad I had packed already.

The Eiffel Tower through the airplane window.
Let me tell you, the people of Air France have some REAL respect for passengers holding first-class tickets: they practically carried me to the airplane and a very nice stewardess made sure  "Mr A. Michel" was really confortable, that I had all the magazines and drinks I wanted, that I knew how to change channels on my personal LCD, the works. I reclined my seat and stretched the leg rest:  in first class the seats have so much leg room that you can almost park a Volkswagen in there.
The flight to Paris toook some time, but I was asleep most of it. The stewardess woke me up when the Airbus started the final approach to Orly airport and I took a look through the window: I was able to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and then the landing gear touched ground.

With some time to spare until my next flight, I parked my butt in one of the airport bars, sipping coke and thinking about life. I was curious about this deal. A bit worried, but curious. What about this Swiss guy my pal told me about? The only Swiss I talked to in my entire life was my banker. Who ever heard about a Swiss trying to hire mercenaries? I smiled to myself: maybe the competition between swiss banks is getting rough? Of course this alleged "swiss" could be as fake as Mr. "A. Michel". I gave up thinking about it. Everything would be explained soon, so, why try to guess ?

Metropole Hotel in Monte-Carlo.
Now, THIS is impressive.
Another Air France bird took me to Nice in less then an hour, a short jump. I didn't sleep this time. When I peeked through the airplane window, I could see the Mediterranean glittering, and the city of Nice spreading along the coast. I tought that, if I could, I would try to have some beach time - although I doubted that would be possible. The air was warm and you could feel the scent of pines. When I came out of the VIP lounge, the sun made me blink.

A quiet guy in a dark suit was waiting for me holding a card spelling "Mr. A. Michel". He took a look at me and made a courteous smile:
"Monsieur Michel ?"
"Oui" I awnsered in French. "How do you know me ?"
"I saw a picture of you, sir" he awnsered, as if it was obvious.
"Of course" I tought. I declined his offer to carry my bag and he drove me to Monte Carlo in a big, black, silent Mercedes. The hotel Metropole it's a five-star as you can only find in the Côte d'Azur: a "Palace" with rooms the size of tennis courts. If the objective was to impress me, they suceeded. I was impressed.

Monday, 2 a.m. - The Beginning.

Everything started just a couple of days ago, last Monday. It was late, maybe 2 or 3 in the morning. I had fallen asleep in front of the laptop, browsing the net in search of news. Well, news there were plenty, but nothing definitive: The French and the Brits are still pounding the Lybians, but running out of steam fast, or at least so it seems. The Italians, choking with refugees, are  crying out loud for the end of the "disastrous NATO intervention". I can sympathize with that. Ghadaffi does not seem to be on the run anytime time soon, and the Italians are picking up the tab of all those refugees by themselves. If NATO "gets the hell out of Dodge" - as the Americans use to say - maybe dear Colonel Ghadaffi will need some seasoned mercenaries - not the kind of african fourth-rate guns-for-hire that he have now. We'll see.
There was something else on the news and this was very promising: apparently, in the Kingdom of Bahrain (this is in the Persian Gulf, for those not much into geography) part of the population thinks that it's about time for the old king to go. The king strongly disagrees of course, so the tanks are on the streets, and so are the rebels. This is very, very good. It's allways nice when those Middle-East kings and Sultans get scared: that usually leads them to spend money - and with all the rioting and  regime-throwing going on, in and around the Persian Gulf, they all start to think that it might be a good idea to have some muscle handy, just in case.

Persian Gulf - You can see Bahrain and Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates)
The crown Prince of Abu Dhabi had that same idea some months ago (clever guy) and started to form a foreign mercenary unit - kind of a Praetorian Guard - somewhere in the desert. The inicial idea was to hire around 800 guys, but they settled for 580 - at least so they say. I'm on the waiting list for that one. I bet the recent events in the (until now) quiet kingdom of Bahrain will help him to decide to boost that outfit - just in case the people of Abu Dhabi starts to have some funny ideas. Good move from his part - I would do the same. I was reading all this and thinking to myself that probably very soon in the future I would have a nice gig again (possibly in the private army of His Highness the Crown Prince) and I fell asleep.

My laptop woke me up around two in the morning, wailing. I set up a loud  alarm in case I would receive an email in a certain email account that very few people know about. So, when the yelling of the alarm woke me up, I knew something was up. I logged in and there it was, a short email from one of my pals - one of the half dozen guys that I trust in the whole world. The message only had numbers on it - dozens of them - but I knew wich ones to look for between all that mess.
"Goddamn!" - I tought to myself. One of those numbers meant "Call me", another one meant: "NOW". Some of the others, told me where to call.
I cursed again. What is this  about? Why send me a high-priority message asking me to call at once, at 2 in the morning? It's not as if a small war somewhere, in need of mercenaries, is going to vanish before morning, right? Unless... Unless thare is some outfit ready to take off in the next few hours and they are missing someone! The tought made me jump, and in a couple of minutes I was outside, looking for a phone boot.
My mate awnsered the phone after the first ring.
"Hey man, how' ya doing?"
"How do you think I am, at 2 in the morning?" I asked.
He laughed: "Well, just called to know if you'r busy ?"
I started to get angry, but then it hit me that this was not small talk. "Nah" I said.  "Not really. A couple of ideas but nothing definitive. Why?"
"I have a proposal for you. New guys in the block, nobody any of us knew before".
"Don't tell me. Abu Dhabi ?"
"Nah, nah nah! Not the prince. Absolute strangers, I tell you. And serious, at least so it seems."
"Why do you say that ? You have a gut feeling ?" I asked, in a bad mood.
"No man, listen, to start with, they found ME, right? It's not that easy. And when I referred to you, they knew YOU, man!"
I raised my eyebrows: to be "known" is not the dream of every mercenary. "They KNOW me ?"
"Yep. And they know Johnny, too".
I kept silent for a moment.
"You there ?"
"Yeah, I was just wondering" I said. "You sure they're some new guys ? Not someone from the old days that wants to settle some score ?"
"Relax, man. I met one of the those guys, a Swiss. It's nobody from the old days. They know about the job me you and Johnny pulled in N'djamena in 2008, that's why they want us".
I smiled: our little stunt in Tchad made us three instant stars inside the restricted circle of professional mercenaries, at least for some time; after all, it's not everyday that a 3 men fire team saves the ass of a full platoon of the French Foreign Legion.
My mate kept going: "...And I know they're serious 'cause of the amount of money they're willing to spend, man!"
"What ? You settled the payment already"?
"Nah. I mean, the expense money they gave me."
"What do you mean, expense money ?"
"I mean 5 figure numbers man, plus 1st class airplane ticket, plus 5 star hotel, just to have a talk with them,
no strings attached."
"Five star hotel !? Where are you, anyway ?"
"Humm..." He seemed to hesitate for a moment. "Are you in your home phone ?"
"Of course not !" I awnsered angrily. "What do you think I am, some kind of moron ?"
"OK, OK, dont get offended, it's just that, in a deal that smells so much of money as this one, one can never be too careful, now can we ?"
I calmed down a bit: "I'm in a phone boot, so spit it out".
"OK" my mate said. "Well, I'm in Monte Carlo".
"Monte Carlo ?"
"In Monaco, stupid!" He laughed. "How many "Monte Carlos" do you know?"

Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco in the south of France)
I started to laugh too. "Monte Carlo ? Ahahahahah! Who are you, the bloody Madonna ?"
"Hehe! She's an american, man. She doesn't go to Monte Carlo, she goes to Miami Beach or something."
"Whatever. And what do these guys want, anyway ?"
"Look man, I'm giving it to you the same way this Swiss guy told me: They are a tight group of very influential men and they want to talk to us. Us, this means me you and Johnny, we just have to be in Monte Carlo this Tuesday and listen to what they have to say. Plane tickets, accomodation and 10.000 in expense money. So, what do you say ?"
I tought about it, but not too long. "I'm in. And Johnny ?"
"He's in too, they reached him before they reached me. The Swiss guy told me the only of us they couldn't reach was you."
"So, now what ?" I asked.
"I'm going to call the Swiss guy and he's gonna send you the same package he sent me, by UPS. Where do you want him to send it ?"
I gave him the name and adress off a small cafe, two blocks away from my place: those "new" guys could know me, but I'll be damn if I was going to tell them where I lived, too.
I spent half an hour packing, and went to sleep.

The Mercenaries' memory

Very unusual things have been happening lately. Lately, as in: this week. Our team is not completely strange to unusual and inexpected things; but, to be completely honest, recent events are quite staggering, even for our standards. The irony lays in the fact that the aforementioned events fall into our ordinary line of work, but in a twisted and unusual way. As things continue to unfold and, as they write in the mistery novels, the plot thickens, the team has decided the we should make a register of those events.You see, the issue is, despite the fact that we are quite thrilled about the task that we were hired to do, the  truth is that none of us is quite sure how everything its going to end. Or if we are going to come out of it. Alive, I mean. Or sane.
Thus said, this "Internet stage" will serve the dual purpose of keeping a public memory of the facts and to be a memory of us - in case things go seriously wrong. Remember that all the events portrayed here take place in present time; as much as possible, all the notes will describe actions that took place two or three days before being reported, except if safety of those involved requires a larger delay. It will become clear to the readers that every action, event, or person, will only be depicted here in the measure that it does not put in jeopardy the team, its operations or the organization to wich we now work. So, obviously, the readers will notice some flaws in the text. Those, I'm afraid, are small dark areas that will have to stay unmentioned for the time being. Please, be patient. Ad Astra!