There was a harsh swishing sound as a sapling bent back on itself, whipped back into place, and six sharpened bamboo stakes, each eighteen inches long, impaled both Domingo and Laframboise where they stood. Holliday saw that the sapling was weighted at the end by a small, curved rectangular object that he recognized instantly: it was an MMI “MiniMore,” a smaller version of the much larger Claymore fragmentation mine.

“Hit the dirt!”

Holliday dropped, the gentle pinging as the second trip line pulling the ring on the mine tinkling melodically before the main charge exploded and its load of shrapnel exploded in a twenty-foot arc at roughly waist level. It sounded like a small sharp thunderclap followed by an acrid cloud of smoke and then something like the pitter- patter of hail as the projectiles within the mine hit the jungle. Then there was silence….

Also by Paul Christopher

Michelangelo’s Notebook

The Lucifer Gospel

Rembrandt’s Ghost

The Aztec Heresy

The Sword of the Templars

The Templar Cross

The Templar Throne

The Templar Conspiracy

The Templar Legion

Red Templar









Room 212, Hart Senate Building,

Washington, D.C.

Committee Investigating the use of Paramilitary Corporations, Private Armies and Private Police Forces both within and without the Continental United States, Senator Fulton J. Abernathy, Dem., Wisconsin Chairman

February 20, 2012

Room 212 in the Hart Senate Building was a multimillion-dollar chamber for interrogation people from Enron executives to possible appointees to high positions in government. There was a single massive wall of marble behind the senators’ dais, which stretched around three walls of exotic wood paneling with cutouts for press boxes like some political baseball game; a single long table faced the senators on the carpeted floor and room for two hundred or so spectators behind. There was plenty of room for press photographers to kneel or squat beneath the senators’ dais and a large UNITED STATES SENATE seal on the marble wall with a convenient swing door beneath it to allow for a television camera to get reaction shots.

The two men and their several lawyers being spitted that particular day were Major General Atwood Swann, president of Blackhawk Special Forces Corporation, and his second in command, Colonel Paul Axeworthy. Swann was dressed in the uniform of a U.S. Marine major general, his chest resplendent with medals from Vietnam and both Iraq wars, as well as Afghanistan. Swann was a big man, square-faced, his marine buzz cut going from blond to gray. Axeworthy was wearing Blackhawk Battle Dress Uniform, or BDUs, consisting of green-on-green camouflage blouse and trousers tucked into spit-shined combat boots, a bright blue scarf at his throat and a dark green beret bearing the black bird on a gold background that was the Blackhawk logo. The beret was tucked into the left epaulette of his blouse. He wore an identical gold-and-black patch on both shoulders. The two men’s five lawyers were dressed like lawyers.

Senator Fulton J. Abernathy, the committee chair, wore a dusty suit twenty years out of date, a psychedelic tie that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Sgt. Pepper’s album cover and a face like a wrinkled apple. His eyes were bright blue and extremely alert behind a pair of bright green half-framed bifocals. The grilling had already been going on for two hours, but Abernathy was still in top form and Swann hadn’t flinched once.

AB: What is your annual salary at Blackhawk, General Swann?

SW: I was informed that there would be no questions regarding personal matters.

AB: Well, I’m telling you otherwise and I’m the boss here, so answer the question.

SW: One million seven hundred and eighty-five thousand plus bonuses.

AB: What kind of bonuses?

SW: Bonuses for successful missions.

AB: Such as?

SW: Katrina for one.

AB: Katrina as in the hurricane?

SW: Yes.

AB: What, pray, was your mission there?

SW: We were hired as an adjunct to local forces to maintain order.

AB: What about your mission in El Salvador?

SW: I’m not sure I understand the question.

AB: Were you or were you not hired by the government of El Salvador to “relocate” several villages and their occupants in the interior for the purposes of a major gold mining corporation owned by the same person who controls the multinational corporation known as the Pallas Group, which in turn owns both Blackhawk Security as well as Blackhawk Special Forces—one Kate Sinclair, mother of the late Senator William Pierce Sinclair who recently took his own life?

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