Deadly Payload [Stony Man Series] [Secure]
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by Don Pendleton
Description: STONY MAN.... Unflinching duty and patriotism stand at the core of the covert operations group known as Stony Man. Answering only to the Oval Office, and with a mandate to strik before the world suffers, the clandestine field and cyber operatives work without a warrant and outside the law, enabling them to strike down those who obey no law. LETHAL SOLUTION.... A powerful U.S.-based consortium has begun a full-scale assault to take over the world. Attacking on multiple fronts, this secret cadre has enough high-tech weaponry to push nations to an apocalyptic standoff--and now China, Russia and the Middle East are poised to unleash swift, savage and bloody nuclear retaliations. Stony Man teams are spread thin, racing to stop the unthinkable as the world is pushed over the edge of reason, and an unseen, perhaps unstoppable, enemy brings the planet seconds closer to flash point.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Gold Eagle,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [499 KB]
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"So why are we investigating the destruction of a terrorist camp in Syria again?" T.J. Hawkins whispered to Calvin James as the Zodiac boat hummed toward the Lebanese coast. "If you ask me—"
"Well, I didn't," James retorted.
"Well, if you did, whoever took them out did us a favor," Hawkins answered.
"Really, mate?" David McCarter asked as he scanned the shore with his field glasses. "A chemical weapons attack on an unfriendly country, using American materials. That's a favor to the U.S.? I'd hate to see what you'd call a slap in the face."
"The PFRLL were some of the sickest bastards in the Lebanese equation, though," Hawkins stated. "They never cared about civilian casualties when they made their attacks. It'd have been our job, sooner or later, to take them out."
"Sooner or later, sure," Rafael Encizo answered as he worked the rudder's till, keeping them on course despite a crosscurrent. "But then, we also need to figure out who has a small automated air force. The drones responsible for the attack could end up in the hands of someone who might turn them against a city."
"Well then, that'd be a whole new mess o' pig shit," Hawkins admitted.
Encizo nodded, returning his attention to guiding the inflatable raft. The muscular little Cuban's steady steering was born of years spent by the sea, either diving or working boats. Between him and Calvin James, Phoenix Force had the training to handle almost anything on the water. The inflatable raft would be collapsed on the shore and buried before they went inland. If necessary, the raft could be dug up and used to exfiltrate from the country, but McCarter had other avenues out of Lebanon, just in case the investigation took them on a new path.
"Welcoming party," Gary Manning announced as he spied the beach through the scope of his Heckler & Koch PSG-1 rifle.
Hawkins's hand tightened on the grip of his G-36, but his trigger finger rested on the receiver.
"Keep your booger hook off the bang switch," he remembered his drill instructor bellowing in basic training. It was second nature for the Southerner, by now. Even as a Ranger, he practiced as a professional, not until he got it right once, but until he never got it wrong. That mentality was pushed even further as a veteran member of Phoenix Force, one of the most elite combat units in the world. The five handpicked Stony Man warriors had been chosen for their experience and ability. All of them were highly trained commandos.
"They spot us yet?" McCarter asked Manning.
"No. They seem to be waiting for someone else," Manning said. "Their attention is more to the north."
McCarter drew his finger across his throat and the Stony Man commandos fell silent. Only the muffled Mercury engine made any sound, and even then, it was a soft hum that was easily swallowed by the lap of waves. Phoenix Force lowered its profile, lying in the bottom of the raft, only Encizo and Manning breaching the tops of the inflated Kevlar pontoons to steer and to observe the mysterious group on the shore.
McCarter pointed to James and patted the grip of his knife. He nodded to Encizo. The stocky Cuban flicked a thumbs-up to the fox-faced Briton and adjusted their course a little farther to the south.
So much for the plan of burying the raft, Hawkins mused. With unknown forces on the shore, they would have to scuttle the inflatable raft, slashing through the rigid nylon pontoons. The weight of the motor would drag it down, and Phoenix Force would swim a hundred yards to shore.
Hawkins fed Encizo's rifle into a water-tight bag, since he was steering. He did the same for Manning's PSG-1, while the powerfully built Canadian switched to McCarter's field glasses to maintain surveillance of the unknown enemy.
"There," Encizo stated softly. He turned off the engine and James slashed the inflated tubes to starboard while McCarter took out the port side. The raft collapsed almost instantly, Mediterranean seawater rushing in and engulfing Hawkins. Within a few kicks, Phoenix Force had swum free of the sinking raft, and Hawkins handed Encizo and Manning their waterproof packs.
So far, their plans had been preempted, but then, an average day of work for Phoenix Force rarely went as they hoped. However, the team had been formed to take care of things when nothing had gone right. Adapt and overcome was their forte.
* * *
HERMANN "GADGETS" SCHWARZ was no stranger to Central America, and he was no stranger to the morass of its constant threats and violence. Going over the files that described the evidence of the Panama assault, he tried to gain the measure of who they were up against this time out. In the past, the warriors of Stony Man Farm had battled all manner of threats in the canal nation, from renegade secret policemen who killed for their fascist beliefs to Chinese espionage agents trying to gain control of the canal to drug dealers who had flourished under the former dictator. Often, multiple parties entwined, and even forces theoretically on the same side, like Communist rebels and the Red Chinese government, were at odds against each other. Then again, whenever Able Team went south of the border, it was never simple and easy.
"Never a lack of targets on these operations," Carl Lyons said. "Shoot in any direction and you'll hit a bad guy."
"Just the way you like it," Schwarz replied sardonically, putting the file away. "Simple and bloody."
Lyons grunted. "If I wanted to fuss over geopolitics, I'd have joined Phoenix Force."
Rosario Blancanales, fondly known as Pol, looked back at the pair from the balcony and sighed. "As if a caveman like you could run with that bunch."
Copyright © 2008 by Worldwide Library.