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Chapter 01 September 1, 1986 9:23AM

"Yes, Delta Force." He looked exactly like Thomas Jane in Punisher, but more buff.

"Are you allowed to tell me that?" The bureaucrat sat in the fifties era office chair behind a fifties era desk in a fifties era office.

"Yes. I can't talk about missions but I can say I was in Delta." He said it like he's said it a hundred times and wishes he never had to say it once.

"You understand, everyone SAYS they are Delta." The tall thin weasel faced man looked out from behind his black framed glasses with no sense of the insult obvious.

"Which is why I don't normally, but I'm trying to sell myself here, I'm saying I know I have no experience in the specific skills for this job, but I can learn as I go and still be ten times more productive than any other hire you are going to get, and I'm saying I can do that because I was previously doing a job at the very highest level of proficiency possible." Delta was getting more and more flustered.

The weasel faced man looked down at the resume and made some negative sounds with his teeth. He pursed his lips and made a face like he was picking his teeth but he wasn't actually picking his teeth. there was a long uncomfortable silence and Delta shifted in his chair uncomfortably.

At the same time they both spoke; the weasel man said, "We don't have anything for you here." and Delta said "Fuck I knew it you fuck."

Delta stood up and looked about to rage and clenched his fist and said, "FUCK" loudly. The weasel man stood up with Delta's resume in his hand and held it out like he was going to hand it back to him. Delta stopped and composed himself and went to take the resume back and the bureaucrat let it loose from his hand falling to the floor. Delta stood and paused with a disappointed look on his face.

They both watched the resume fall to the floor. The flourescent lights shown down bleak and blue and with an annoying humming sound. The office was no different than a hundred other government offices, filled with bureaucratic sheep no different from hundreds of other bureaucratic sheep.

"Nice" Delta said.

"Sorry" The sheep's smile was so fucking punch-worthy.

"Yeah you are." Delta's words raged sarcasm.

Delta leaned down and picked his resume off the floor. A long angry sneer was aimed straight at weasel-man as he opened the door and backed through, still glaring. A passing scretary ran into him as he backed out and she dropped a cup of coffee. Delta like a lightning bolt grabbed the coffee cup in mid-air without a drop spilling on the floor, but his resume took a bit. The secretary smiled and straightened up and semi-awkwardly ran her hands over Delta's stomach and smiled again.

"Here, Miss, sorry, Ma'am, I mean the southern ma'am." Delta handed the lady back her coffee cup.

"Not at all, my...pleasure" She gave him her most seductive look.

"You are still a fuckhead." Delta pointed with his coffee stained resume at weasel man.

Weasel man glared back as Delta stormed off, the secretary watched briefly as he left and smiled broadly, then looked back at weasel man and tried to hide her smile as she continued on her way.

Delta hit the street, as he moved through the building's exterior door, he slid left out of the door's profile and scanned the street in a quick sweeping action. He had finally broken himself of reflexively touching each extra mag on his vest, mostly anyway. The feeling enemies lurked in every shadow was always there, keeping him alert and safe, warm and comforting like mother's milk.

"How long you been back?" The hot dog vendor said from a few yards away. His hot dog cart steamed hot in the springtime air.

"What?" Delta looked around for trouble as he approached the cart.

"I do the same thing. Been back for eleven years, still do it. Check the exits, get out of the doorway and scan. I got a buddy, he says he stopped the minute he got back, but not me. I kind of don't want to." The hot dog man put a dog in a bun and lathered it up with kraut and mustard, then handed it to Delta. "Too many enemies."

"You and me both pal." Delta took the hot dog and said, "Look man, I'm broke right now and I can't-"

"Don't sweat it man, where you from?" The hot dog man made an identical dog for himself and savored it.

"Detroit. and not the good part." Delta said between bites.

"There are good parts in Detroit?" The hot dog man said.

"Brother, there are good parts everywhere, just not for the likes of grunts like us." Delta finished his hot dog and nodded a thanks and moved on down the street.

Breezes and smells and sounds, both like home and not like home, assaulted him from all sides. He walked through the city with humanity flowing like a river around him on their busy tasks. The hyper-awareness was still there like when in country, but the anxiety was not. There was danger to be sure, but it wasn't all targeted right on his back. Broke wasn't as bad as broken, he could rough it out in the wild for a few weeks. He'd done it before, he'd do it again. Delta stopped for bearings and noticed an advertisement on a paper hanging precariously off a store's window. He grabbed it for some reason and read, then looked around and saw the address across the street.

"Why the fuck not." Delta whispered under his breath as he started to cross the street.

Chapter 02 Job Interview

Delta stepped into the dingy thirties office and slid right. The only visible exits where the door and picture windows. Huge windows, basically the whole front wall was glass with wood framing around it, easy to secure a quick exit with a chair or piece of equipment. Building code said there had to be a back exit, he quickly surmised a likely path. The secretary was watching him. She fit the decor, with her hair in a bun and thick rimmed black plastic framed glasses in the Soviet industrial style. There was a man sitting among a row of chairs on the window wall writing on a clipboard.

"Hi, fill this out, is that your resume?" the secretary said.

A door opened behind the secretary's desk and a man walked out clearly military. They traded glances as Delta walked up to the secretary, handed her his waded up coffee stained excuse for a resume.

"Is this your real name?" The secretary said while looking up from his resume.

"Yes? Why wouldn't it be?" Delta said.

"Really? He's famous." The secretary smiled as she handed Delta a clipboard with a mass of pages full of dense questions and long lines for answers.

"Not anymore, not since my grandpa's day." Delta took a pencil from a cup on her desk as he responded.

"I think he's sexy." the secretary smiled as she stood up.

"You wouldn't if you met him." Delta said as he watched her take his resume into the back room.

"Don't be too sure." She smiled back.

Delta took his clipboard and pencil turned and moved to the row of wooden chairs against the wall of windows. He looked at the door the secretary had disappeared into as he sat and grimaced.

"Not looking good." Delta mumbled under his breath as he sat one empty chair away from the clipboard man busily filling in spaces.

"Tell me about it, pal." The clipboard man was young and semi-good looking for a hollywood type, which he clearly was, hair coiffed and soft skin perfumed.

Delta glanced right, then began filling out the forms. He paused, looked right at the clipboard man. Started to talk, then paused for a second and began again. "Aren't you Ryan Reynolds?"

"Yes... Yeah... I am." Ryan fumbled his words.

"You're famous, why are you here? and... here?" Delta waved his hands at the old office.

"You know, movies dry up, and there's other... I don't want to talk about it, alright." Ryan went back to filling out his forms.

"Alright, sorry." Delta went back to his forms as well.

The back door swung open quickly and the bun-haired secretary walked out, letting the door shut itself closed ever so slowly on an ancient pneumatic arm.

"You can go on in." The secretary wasn't looking at either of them, but was walking slowly towards her chair with the staccato click-clack of her heels hitting linoleum.

"Finally" Ryan Reynolds said as he stood, trying to not drop any of his papers.

"No, not you... you." The secretary pointed at Delta.

"What? are you fucking kidding? I've been here four hours and this is the second guy you let in ahead of me." Ryan was incredulous and stayed half crouched clutching his clipboard papers. Delta looked at him, then at the secretary a bit confused, then got up.

"I'm just the secretary." Just the secretary said.

"I doubt that." Delta mumbled as he walked by her desk putting the clipboard down as he passed. The secretary clicked her tongue in answer.

"Fuck this, I don't need this shit. I'm a big deal!" Ryan Reynolds said as he threw his clipboard down on the chair he was seated in and stormed out into the street.

The secretary let loose a subtle smirk and went back to her paperwork. She pursed her lips as the door opened and Ryan Reynolds came back in quietly and picked up his clipboard and carefully organized his papers, re-tightening the toothy clasp to better hold them. Ryan sat down sheepishly looking up at the secretary who took no outward notice. Ryan's yellow pencil began it's busy scrappings on the clipboard as the clock ticked loudly away.

Delta walked into the small interview room, he tried not to slide left, but couldn't help himself. The secretary's desk must have come with the rent, because the interview room was completely bare except for a folding table and two folding chairs.

"I'm Frost, come on in, George." The blond man stood up from one of the folding chairs as he spoke, holding out his hand.

Delta crossed the room and shook Frost's hand as he looked down on the table full of randomly shuffled papers including his own stained resume, sort of flattened out still horribly crumpled. Frost was blond-haired, blue-eyed, average height, average weight, somewhere over forty and buttoned-up tight, screaming company man from head to sockless penny-loafers. He wore a white suit with a sea-foam blue shirt like he just walked off the set of Miami Vice as Don Johnson's meth addicted older brother's stuntman.

"Sorry about the resume, I-" Delta spoke as he lowered into the chair opposite Frost.

"Resume is shit, George, not going to lie. Not to worry, though, I actually know you." Frost sat down and continued, "Well, not personally of course, but I almost chose you for half a dozen ops, more probably. Your name was always in the list of prime operators." Frost finished with a long drag of a half smoked cigarette.

"So this is a company thing?" Delta sat rigid as he spoke.

"No, actually I just retired to the private sector. So this is pretty important to me George. There are people watching this one." Frost ashed his cigarette on the floor as he continued, "Standard protection op. We protect the package for three days, deliver it to the shipyard and we are done. And you, my friend, are sixty thousand dollars richer."

"Sounds like a lot of money for a three day protection job." Delta looked askance as he spoke.

"Hell, if there weren't complications, they'd hire the girl scouts, am I right?" Frost chuckled, then paused and looked at Delta who was placidly still. Frost took an awkward drag off his cigarette and continued, "Ok, well, the package is somewhere in the range of fifty million dollars cash and there will be someone coming for it. Someone good."

"R-O-E?" Delta said.

"This is local, with lots of civilians around, no shooting if we can help it." Frost spoke as he looked intently at one piece of graph paper.

"Alright, I'm in." Delta made the easy decision.

"Great." Frost reached under the table and brought out a neatly tied bundle of cash, "10K now and the rest on completion."

Delta picked up the money as he stood and walked towards the door. With his hand on the doorhandle, he stopped and thought for a second.

"Do you mind if I ask why?" Delta turned back to Frost as he spoke.

"Huh?" Frost looked up from his papers.

"Why did I not make the cut so many times?" Delta asked.

"Oh, uh, G2 said you were problematically moral." Frost looked at Delta as he spoke.

"I see...", Delta paused and thought with his hand on the doorhandle, " I am, you know."

"What?" Frost looked up, probably not hearing Delta.

"I am... problematically moral." Delta continued.

"Don't worry, my man, this is not going hot. It's in the middle of the USA, right? What could go wrong?" Frost said.

"Famous last words." Delta turned back to the door looked down at the stack of cash in his hand.

"I know right? so, you still in or not?" Frost mouthed his next words silently as Delta continued to stare at the cash, "He's in"

"I'm in."

Delta pulled open the door and a tall heavily muscled man stood in the doorway. Delta was sideways with his right side back, and his right hand instinctively went for his backside knife. The tall man moved, ever so slightly, his right hand twitched towards a concealed holster, but both men stopped themselves. After a few seconds of staring at each other the tall man moved sideways to allow Delta to pass. With a sly shuffle, Delta moved past him and out into the larger room. As he cleared the door, Delta stepped backwards slightly out of the doorway, but keeping eye contact with the big man. Moving laterally instead of a normal walk, Delta moved in a way to keep an eye on the target until both men reached a point at the same time where they accepted there was no threat.

The big man entered Frost's office walked to the chair and sat down ramrod straight. Frost shuffled some loose papers and brought one up.

"I received your resume yesterday. I thought it might be a joke." Frost started.

"No joke." The big man spoke with a thick accent.

"So, you're a local boy?" Frost asked, "Buck Steelman?"

"Yes, I am local boy." The big man's accent was not local at all.

"Huh... because that accent definitely sounds Hungarian." Frost continued.

"I come from Amish area in Kentucky." There was no hint of sarcasm or irony as the placid faced man continued to stare straight at Frost.

"The Amish speak Dutch, and that is definitely Hungarian, and not Budapest, I think probably a rural area closer to Nadlac?" Frost continued, "You see, I spent a great deal of time in Hungary, so I feel I am a pretty good read on Hungarian dialects."

"Dutch." The big man said, then after a few seconds of silent pause, he added "dialect."

"And this is your real name? Buck... Steelman?" Frost said.

"That is my real name." The big man answered with the minimalist of effort.

"Really? Buck. Going with that are you?" Frost smiled.

The big man locked his giant square jaw closed and said nothing, betrayed no emotion at all, but stared straight at Frost.

"I'm going to stop busting your balls, Buck, but really, you should think up a better name." Frost reached under the table as he spoke.

"That is my Christian given name, no thinking is required." Buck moved slightly, uneasily, his right hand twitched slightly as he watched Frost's hand intently as it dove under the table unseen.

"You don't remember me? Caracas? A few years back. Everything went fuck-all and we had to shoot our way out? We were back to back at one point, blasting away, remember?" Frost brought up a stack of neatly wrapped bills as he spoke.

"I have never been out of Kentucky... local boy." Buck relaxed visibly as he saw the cash in Frost's hand was not a weapon.

"Come on man, it was pretty memorable. We were a great team there, enemies on all sides closing in, bang, bang, thank god the jungle was so close right?" Frost was actively storytelling with waving hands and making a gun with his fingers as he fired imaginary shots in the past.

"I am local boy from Kentucky, I went to Lexington once." Buck said placidly.

"We were in the jungle for two weeks together!" Frost leaned forward becoming more emotional, "I told you things, personal things, it was meaningful, wasn't it?"

"I saw the horses race in Louisville with my mother once." Buck said.

"Alright, alright, have it your way Buck. 10K up front, 50 more at completion." Frost gave up his interrogation.

"Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Frost." Buck took the money and purposefully strode out into the lobby.