Jager:SEALs of Steel, Book 7(3)

By: Dale Mayer

As Jager thought back, Mouse hadn’t had a superstrong constitution and had been plagued with various sicknesses since he’d joined their unit. One time Mouse had been down for over six weeks. Another time got himself badly injured during training. He had been down for months after that.

Still, it pissed Jager off to think they might have been taken in. He tried to keep the hard edge of frustration at bay. Badger had started this mission to find answers because their friend Mouse had died. The rest of the unit had heartily joined in, needing something to focus on. Jager had felt rootless and lost for a long time; this mission had given him a direction.

Watching the others at Badger’s place earlier today, all the guys with their partners, Jager understood he was alone in a way he hadn’t expected to be. He needed something to come home to. Something that would make the last couple years worth all this effort.

Watching Geir fall for Morning Blossom had been an adventure in itself. But that Morning had gotten into trouble because of their mission made Jager even more cautious.

Whoever this ringleader asshole was, the guy wasn’t giving up, wasn’t handing over ultimate control and was in no way letting this go. In fact, it was almost as if he’d refined his methodology, his system. Handing out maximum pain, a phrase the team were mulling over since it first popped up, was something that certainly applied. And to think Mouse had learned that lesson in childhood from his own mother was just heartbreaking, as evidenced by the writing on a wall in his room growing up.

Although the guys in the unit had seen parts of Mouse’s scarred body, they had put it down to an ugly childhood environment. They had had no idea how ugly. Or how close the environment. Yet Mouse had come with a solid rep after having completed BUD/S training. Only now Jager and the rest of the unit knew it was Ryan and not Mouse who’d earned that distinction. Jager struggled to understand Mouse—both the boy and the young man he’d become.

It blew Jager away that such subterfuge was possible within the navy. How had the computer files been doctored? But the only way it worked for Mouse was to take someone’s life. And, for that, Jager ached as he considered Mouse’s desperation.

Poppy had helped Mouse, probably at great personal cost to himself. Poppy would have done anything to make Mouse’s dream of being a SEAL come true. Poppy would have done anything to keep Mouse coming back to him. But, as an adult, Mouse probably saw Poppy as a desperate old man who didn’t want to give up his young lover, and Poppy’s own assistance to make Mouse’s SEAL dream come true had taken Mouse from them all. Jager wondered how long Mouse could have kept up his SEAL charade.

How long would this facade have existed before it blew up in Mouse’s face? And that was even without considering Mouse’s heightened fear of water. Obviously a lot of people overcame their fears and did great things. And maybe Mouse had exaggerated that fear to begin with. He easily kept others believing his fantasies, so maybe that was all part of it.

Taking it slow while he ran through all this mentally, Jager drove into the main entrance at the airport, parked his truck in long-term parking and lucked upon a shuttle heading to the departing flights’ terminals.

Buying a ticket for the next flight to Vail, he made his way to his gate and sat down with his laptop, seeing dozens of messages from his friends. He read them all and smiled. They understood, but they were pissed. Well, let them be pissed.

He sent Mason and Erick an email, asking if they could confirm that the person who had planted the land mine responsible for blowing up their team was in the reported mass grave near Kabul.

An instant response came from Erick. Get your ass back here, and I’ll talk to you.

I’m waiting for my flight, Jager texted. That’s our only option at the moment. I need closure. We all need closure.

His phone rang then. It was Erick.

“You can’t go alone,” Erick growled.

“I’m the only one left,” Jager said. “The only one without somebody else to get hurt and to get involved in our nightmare. I’m the best option. This asshole will get more aggressive if he’s allowed to continue, if not with us and our partners then with the world at large. I’m the only one not partnered up and have less to lose.”

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