Love Action Movies? Read This.

“The alarm went silent a moment later, replaced by an electronically amplified voice. ‘Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire. Safe and secure your weapons.'”

By Ryan Steck, excerpted from the book Fields of Fire

Chapter One

Matthew Redd swung the eight- pound Fiskars maul like a Viking berserker, splintering the heavy wooden door at the hinges and blasting it open.

“Go! Go! Go!” Redd shouted. As the first member of the fire team passed through the opening, Redd slung the maul over one shoulder and filled his massive hands with an M4 carbine, equipped with an Aimpoint M68 close-combat optic sight and a PAQ 4 infrared targeting laser. A second shooter went through, and then it was Redd’s turn.

But as he charged through the doorway, the blaring of alarms drowned out the staccato pop of rifle fire. Overhead lights flashed on. On both sides of the door, the fourteen members of the Marine special operations team stopped in their tracks and immediately lowered their weapons.

The alarm went silent a moment later, replaced by an electronically amplified voice. “Cease fire, cease fire, cease fire. Safe and secure your weapons.” There was the briefest pause, and then, “Redd! You broke my shoot house!”

Redd glanced up at the catwalk above. The range safety officer, Sergeant Baker, a grizzled-looking staff sergeant, face partially eclipsed by the bullhorn clenched in his right hand, glared down at him. The team commander, Captain Perez, stood next to the RSO, along with the team chief, Master Sergeant Miller.

When all the weapons were cleared, Miller’s voice boomed out. “Sergeant Redd, why do you have a ten- pound sledgehammer in your kit? Don’t you have enough weight to carry?”

Redd gripped the thirty-six- inch- long fiberglass shaft in his oversize fists and held the tool up as if for inspection. He was six foot three, two hundred forty pounds of muscle, and it looked like a child’s twirling baton in his hands. “It’s not a sledge, Top. It’s a splitting maul.” He rotated the tool, showing the heavy steel head, one side of which tapered into a wedgeshaped blade. “And it only weighs eight pounds.”

Perez coughed to cover a chuckle, then leaned out over the rail of the catwalk. “All right, Sergeant Redd. Why do you have an eight-pound splitting maul in your kit? And why use it to breach that door instead of a shaped charge? We put those in your loadout for a reason.”

“Our orders are to take Willow alive, sir. You just put him in that room. Enough demo to blast the door might be enough to kill him. That’s why I carry a maul in my kit, sir.”

“Sergeant Redd?”


“You nailed it. Outstanding.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Perez liked Redd. Though he’d only been with the team a little over a year, the kid had shown exceptional initiative. While his impressive physique led people to think of him as a typical hard-charging jarhead—all brawn, no brains— the truth of the matter was that he had brains aplenty. The stunt with the sledgehammer—splitting maul, he corrected himself—was proof of that. At first glance, it had seemed like a demonstration of macho excess, but the reasoning behind it had been solid.

Redd would go places in the corps. He was a natural leader—the kind who inspired men to follow him and would lead from the front. If he had a failing, it was his tendency to come across as aloof. He got along well with his teammates but rarely socialized with them when off duty, which probably kept him out of a lot of trouble. Where most Marines lived for raising hell, pounding suds, and chasing tail, Redd preferred to spend his free time working out or learning some obscure martial art, looking for a new challenge. None of that would keep him from putting rockers under his chevrons. In fact, Redd was already eligible to advance to E-6, but doing so would mean finding an open slot somewhere, probably in another unit, and Redd had expressed a distinct aversion to the idea of giving up his slot on the team.

“Do you want to run the exercise again, sir?” Miller asked.

Perez gazed down at his Marines, all of whom were still breathing hard and streaked with perspiration. He shook his head. “We’ve been pushing them pretty hard. Maybe we should save something for game day.”

Pretty hard was an understatement. Although they didn’t look it, the men were bone-tired. Even the indomitable Redd. They’d been running training scenarios fourteen hours a day for the last three weeks prepping for the mission, running contingency scenarios ranging from HALO jumping onto the objective to making a covert approach over land. For the last nine days, they had run endless drills in the 41 Area shoot house, which had been hastily remodeled to approximate the building they would soon be assaulting.

“Game day keeps getting pushed back,” the team chief countered. “This is the only way to keep our edge.”

“You can only sharpen a blade so much before there’s no steel left.” Perez leaned on the railing and projected his voice down into the pit. “Listen up, Marines. You’ve done good work. Now I know you’re all sick of being in a holding pattern. Believe me, I’m right there with you. But until we get the green light, that’s where we’re going to stay. We’re only going to get one shot at this.”

There were a few nods of acknowledgment from the men, but no cheers of “Oorah!” or anything else. These men had advanced beyond the need for the kind of cheerleading and chest-thumping that the grunts used to stay fired up. They were Marine Raiders. The Army had the Green Berets, the Navy had the SEALs, and the Chair Force . . . well, who knows what they had . . . but the corps had outdone them all with the Raiders.

But even Raiders needed a break once in a while.

“Get your stuff stowed,” he went on. “Once you’re squared away, I’m authorizing a thirty-six-hour liberty. Go home. Get some rack time. Hug your kids and kiss their mamas . . . if they’ll let you. Just keep your phones with you and on at all times. If you get the call, I want you back here and ready to rock in thirty minutes.”

This was a departure from SOP. Tier one units were, as a matter of operational security, kept on lockdown for a minimum of forty- eight hours before a mission, and since the go order might come at any time, letting the team wander off the reservation, even if it was only for a few hours and electronically tethered, was not without risk.

This time, the men did give a raucous cheer, which was abruptly truncated by a barked order from Miller. “As you were, Marines.”

Instant silence.

Miller leaned over the rail and singled out one of the Raiders with his gaze. “No liberty for you, Redd. I’ve got a special assignment for you.”

Redd looked back at him, uncomprehending. “Top?”

“Once you’re squared away, you need to get in that fancy truck of yours and head out to the nearest Home Depot. You owe Sergeant Baker here a new door.”

You’ve been reading from

Fields of Fire by Ryan Steck

“You know Ryan Steck as the Real Book Spy. Now, get to know him as the author of Fields of Fire, his debut thriller featuring Marine Raider Matthew Redd in a battle that will leave you speechless and begging for more. Lock and load!” —Jack Carr, Navy SEAL Sniper and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil’s Hand

Waiting to be deployed on a critical mission, elite Marine Raider Matthew Redd stops to help a stranger and wakes up hours later to learn his team was wiped out in an ambush. Unable to remember anything, Redd can’t deny the possibility that he’s somehow responsible for the information leak that led to the massacre. He’s given a deal to avoid a charge of treason, but it means walking away from the Corps and the life he loved.

As he faces his loss, Matty gets a cryptic message from his adoptive father, J. B.: “Trouble’s come knocking. . . . Might need your help.” He points his truck home to rural Montana, only to discover that J. B. is dead and the explanation for his death is far from satisfying. Determined to dig up the truth, Redd uncovers a dark global conspiracy with his hometown at the center and no team at his back—except one he might find among past friends, old enemies, and new allies, if he can figure out who to trust.

About the Author

Ryan Steck is an editor, an author, and the founder and editor in chief of The Real Book Spy. Ryan has been named an “Online Influencer” by Amazon and is a regular columnist at CrimeReads. has been endorsed by #1 New York Times bestselling authors Mark Greaney, C. J. Box, Kyle Mills, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, and many others. A resident of Michigan, along with his wife and their six kids, Steck cheers on his beloved Detroit Tigers and Lions during the rare moments when he’s not reading or talking about books on social media. He can be reached via email at

Bethany was raised on a mini farm in Indiana where she fell in love with nature, faith, and imagination. Since then, she was employed as a marketer for the Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis & Friends before graduating with a Marketing and Management double major from Taylor University and joining the ranks of Tyndale House Publishers. Among her many interests are painting, riding horses, and basically living the dream.

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