Here is the intro:
The trick to walking around in someone else’s body is not getting caught.
That doesn’t mean you have to hide. You can walk down the street in broad daylight; you just have to give people a plausible reason why the man in the hoodie and sunglasses is not their old friend Jeff who’s been in a coma for six months — Jeff had dark hair and no mustache — and people will assume it’s just someone who looks like Jeff. If they notice at all.
The trick to busting up a drug den, on the other hand, is not getting shot.
On a warm Saturday in May, John Regent failed at both.
According to the army, the trick to surviving a gunshot wound is to stop the bleeding and get immediate medical attention. That means keeping still and putting pressure on the wound. That’s what they teach in basic training, and it’s true. As far as it goes.
But then, people who are scared and angry enough to shoot other people tend to keep shooting, so the real trick to surviving a gunshot wound is to keep moving and not go into shock. The best way to avoid shock is prior inoculation: being shot before, preferably multiple times.
Luckily for his host, John Regent had been shot before. He’d been trained for it. In fact, it was in training where he took his second bullet. Not basic training. Not Ranger training. Not even Special Forces training, although they feigned it.
It was after that, at the training that had no name for a unit that had no insignia. The training that had no manual, no base of operations, no weekends or holidays. The training where John had been drugged and blindfolded, shot through the arm by his instructors, dumped from a helicopter, and told to find his way through the swamp without a map or compass or anything. “Oh,” they had said, “and there are guys on the ground hunting you. With dogs.”
It wasn’t until the clouds parted a few hours later that John saw the stars and realized he wasn’t even on the same hemisphere anymore, let alone the same continent.
That was Day One of the training that didn’t exist. Things got progressively harder from there.
But John survived. And he learned. All kinds of things. He learned that the first trick to hostage rescue is getting inside. Standing on his borrowed legs, bleeding against the door frame of some asshole’s second floor apartment, John was already inside.
See? he told himself. Stop complaining. Hard part is already over.
Of course, it helped that when he hitched, when he was in someone else’s body, John Regent could control the pain. And the fear. And the doubt. All the tricks your genes use to keep themselves alive. Riding someone else’s bones, John was in total control like he never was, like no one ever was, in their own skin.
The trick to disarming someone is making them want to drop their weapon. There are several ways, but if you’re reasonably sure your target hasn’t seen combat — this kid looks like a tool, John thought, with that bandanna so low he can barely see — then a firm strike to the top of the forearm usually does the trick. You know the place: where the skin runs thin over the bone and good whack sends a shock of pain to the hand. It’s a reflex, like dropping a scalding hot pan. You can force yourself to hold tight, but only if you know what’s coming. And only if you can take it.
That takes more than training. It takes experience, knowing what to expect, partially from the pain, but mostly from yourself.
That’s the trick to heavy combat. Knowing yourself. You feel things in war people never should: the spasms of skin in your fingers as you strangle a stranger before he strangles you, the cold lightning of a knife in the back, the splatter of warm red mist across your face as a chunk of your buddy explodes in front of you — or if you’re very unlucky, a chunk of yourself.