Fire Owl [James Foster Adventures Book 3]
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by Gerald W. Mills
Category: Suspense/Thriller EPIC eBook Award Winner
Description: Wealthy, brilliant and highly respected, Secretary of the Interior Benjamin Howland believes America can be restored to world greatness only if he takes over government and declares martial law. All it will take is a healthy dose of national panic and upheaval...
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: May 2006
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [436 KB]
Reading time: 288-403 min.
"Suspense and spine-tingling, non-stop action await you. An excellent knowledge of electronics, fast-moving scenes, believable characters and sparkling dialogue combine to make this a book you won't want to put down. Like watching a 007 film, it will grab you by the throat till the end. Though the book stands fine on its own, I would recommend reading the first two books in the series, No Place for Gods and The Mudslinger Sanction, if only to become more acquainted with the protagonist's struggle to understand and control his own nature."--Mayra Calvani for The Midwest Book Review.
"Electronics and science buffs will enjoy Gerald W. Mills' precise description of the deadly owl aircraft. Add to his scientific and engineering expertise his mastery of narrative and language, of suspense, taut drama, and character creation, all of which rise to a peak of excellence in this tale of conspiracy, murder, and arson at the highest levels of government."--Dr. Florence B. Weinberg, author of The Storks of Caridad
Highly recommended reading for any reader searching for excitement with a difference. A book you won't want to put down and one you will want to read more than once..."--Anne K. Edwards, author of Death on Delivery
The handler had two options. If he ran, he'd be shot. If he didn't, they might kill him anyway, an example for the others.
He'd lost an owl.
There were to be three sensor drops this night, his most important assignment yet, and now there'd be none. None! What excuse could he use? He ran the pre-flight tests as carefully as ever, the evening air was calm and he launched at the specified time. His flight monitor was working as it always had, recording launch-point coordinates, time, barometric pressure and flight data sent from the bird. Everything was perfect for the first three miles of flight. Then the bird abruptly plunged one hundred twenty feet, and all motion stopped. There'd been no time to release the sensor package.
Aghast, he watched the owl's Global Positioning System coordinates change ever so slowly on his monitor display. They continued changing--sometimes faster than a walk, other times not. Twenty minutes later the changes stopped. Someone must have shot the bird down and taken it away. Why was it flying that low? Why hadn't his monitor warned him something was wrong?
A tiny red light showed the bird's recovery beacon still working, but it no longer mattered. Recovering the owl was a task for others in the Movement. He was only a handler. Where could he run, hide so they'd never find him?
He swallowed hard and began writing down every detail he could think of, everything he could still see in the deepening dusk. Then he packed away the recovery gear with trembling hands and headed for the rendezvous. He crouched there in the blackest shadows, sick with dread, and waited for his partner with their car. He'd have to report the loss, and quickly; follow his training or be shot like a rabid dog. No handler ever knew when enforcers might be monitoring a flight, so it would not do to alter facts. If he chose not to run, he'd have to stick to the truth.
But he wanted to run.
He made the damning report in code, from the car. Without a backup bird, the two men could do nothing but wait. It didn't take long. Instructions were returned in code, spelling out coordinates and a time. The car's GPS directed them to turn off the highway onto a secondary road with no route marker or name, then drive half a mile. They stopped, turned off the headlights and stared into the darkness. Neither man spoke.
They'd achieved fifty-four nights of success in twelve northwestern states, one hundred thirty actual sensor deliveries, and this was their first mishap. No bird had ever been lost when instructions were followed precisely, or so they were told. Was it true? Were they the first to lose one? Would that make them an example for others?
There was no way to verify that claim, for each team reported to just one individual. All teams understood the reasons for secrecy, and methods used to achieve it. All teams were dedicated to the Movement, and that was enough. They had no reason to know others. They needn't know how many handlers there were, or how many birds, or even whether other birds had been lost or damaged.
They knew only that several handler teams were assigned to larger territories, so one might guess there were dozens of birds and teams. Another team might be no more than a few miles away. They wouldn't know; no one would tell them. While such facts were not important, the loss of a bird was. A bullet in the head was.
A black sedan with headlights off eased up behind them, and a man in dark clothing got out. He was a stranger.
"Get into the other car," he ordered, taking the driver's seat and starting the engine. The handler started to object, but thought better of it. He avoided looking at the man, got out and entered the other car. His partner followed. Both were hooded, then handcuffed to a steel bar behind the front seat.
The handler felt the engine start. "Where are you taking us?" he wanted to ask, but didn't. Perhaps running would have been the better choice after all. Death would have seemed farther away--for awhile.
The crowd at Niels' Place was typical of weekends, but this was a Tuesday night. Patrons were crowded in the lobby; others smoked outside.
Tricia tugged at Jim's sleeve as they approached. "Good thing we reserved our table, Mr. Foster."
He twisted his mouth. "Looks like we might not get it."
"But… you bribed the headwaiter."
"Mm-hmm. Trish, our name tonight is Adams, not Foster. You forgot."
"Bribe him enough, Mr. Adams?"
"The game changes when crowds are big. You know that."
Copyright © 2004 Gerald W. Mills.