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Cassie Granger

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled


Counterterrorism is a world of gray. As soon as you open the door, as soon as you step over that threshold, there’s no turning back. Your innocence is gone and what you thought would be an interesting, exciting career becomes an inescapable lifestyle.


Hyper-vigilance becomes natural, sometimes all-consuming. Your friends and family call you paranoid, obsessive compulsive, insane, hyperactive, or any number of misnomers. What’s normal to you is abnormal to them. If you’ve been there, no one has to explain. If you’ve not been there, no words can describe it. But it’s your life.


You enter a city and you automatically sense and steer away from potentially dangerous areas. You look at a building and automatically plan how to take it out. Within seconds you’ve analyzed its strengths and weaknesses: security, penetrable windows, insecure or vulnerable entrances and exits, infil and exfil points. You’ve calculated the nearest escape route, the best place to mount or hold up during an attack, what weapon would be best to use and how long you’d hold out until backup - if it ever comes.


Most of all you learn to blend in, to be nondescript. You read body language, pick up clues from people passing you on the street. Your eyes key in on reflective surfaces: eyeglasses, windows, marble walls and countertops, mirrors, shiny doors - anything to increase your range of vision without having to glance around, and especially without acting like a spook.


It’s not only what you’ve learned from experience. It’s who you are.


Bearing the name that had roots in Marine infancy, Cassidy Ross Granger had chosen counterterrorism for reasons even she didn’t understand and questioned more than once. The thrill of the hunt? Probably. The intrigue, the puzzle? That, too. But mostly it was the satisfaction of thwarting the efforts of terrorists, small time to big time, keeping them from accomplishing their tasks in the name of creed or greed. It was the satisfaction she found in keeping the generally ignorant populace safe from things that threatened them every moment of every day. So moving from helm to commanding officer of Challenger’s Marine detachment was no surprise.


Captain Ja’Lale had known her capabilities well before she came aboard. She worked for a while coordinating teams, then she took helm. Was it a test? Did he want to get to know her better, observe her skill level, or was she just needed there? It really didn’t matter.


What did matter was that she was now in her element, able to gather, sift, sort, arrange and decipher information, plan a strategy, and assist the commanding officers of Challenger in their decisions, all the while cautioning them that whatever decision they made could just as easily be wrong.


Because the truth of counterterrorism is that no one ever knows the truth. Not even the perpetrators.

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