When military intelligence analyst Bill Lane is assigned to investigate a raid on Iran's Persian Gulf submarine installation, he uncovers a plot to start a full-scale nuclear war in the Middle East.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
PART ONE1THE PERSIAN GULF OFF THE COAST OF IRANA dim red light flashed briefly in the pitch darkness as the afterdeck hatch was opened and closed. A man dressed head to toe in black looked up from where he waited at the rail of the patrol boat gently idling in the three-foot seas. A similarly clad figure beckoned, only his silhouette visible against the nearly featureless backdrop. The man at the rail glanced toward the lights along the coast five kilometers to the north, then turned away. He didn't want to lose his night vision too soon.He examined his feelings, switching between anticipation of the job at hand, fear of failure, and a Muslim's resignation to fate. "In sha'Allah." God's will. He whispered the prayer for the future, though he wasn't sure he believed in it any longer.Jamal el-Kassem made his way forward, his thickly soled combat boots affording him good footing on the wet decks. The boat was a Russian-built Pchela-class fast-attack patrol hydrofoil. At 83 feet on deck the heavily armed boat displaced 80 tons loaded, but with a crew of twelve men she could make 44 to 50 knots raised on her hydrofoils, pushed through the water, or rather over it, by two diesels pumping 6,000 horsepower into two shafts. She was an old boat, nearly twenty years since her keel was laid, and all the more rare because she was the only ship of any consequence left to what remained of Saddam Hussein's beleaguered forces.This and two F/A-18 Jets was all they could count on, Kassem thought unhappily. Not much with which to win back a country illegally taken from them by the infidels. The memory of the last chaotic, horrible days in Baghdad before the Allied forces had entered the city and driven their Supreme leader into hiding in the desert was a blot on his conscience. If he had fought a little harder, held his post a little longer, used a little morecreativity and intelligence in his battlefield orders--if they all had tried harder--Iraq would not have been defeated in the second battle to liberate Kuwait.The thoughts were almost more than he could bear, as were the memories of his wife and children. He had personally dug their bodies out of the rubble of their apartment building at the edge of the city. They had been murdered in an Allied air strike on the second day of the war, and there hadn't been a thing he could do about it. But that was about to change. Thanks to Saddam. In sha'Allah.He began to chant the Shahada softly. "Allahu akbar; Allahu akbar; La ilaha illa 'llah." God is most great; God is most great; I testify that there is no other God but God and Muhammad is His Prophet.Kassem was not an ignorant bedouin, nor was he a rabid anti-Western fundamentalist, though he felt that he had every right to be one; he'd been educated at Princeton, had lived among the infidels for four long years, learning international law and economics, and he'd hated every minute of his exile. He'd been an outsider. He'd even been called a nigger. His dark-complected face was deeply lined and weathered from spending years in desert combat training missions. He was large, by Iraqi standards, standing over six three, yet at forty-five he still moved like a desert scorpion, ready at long last, he thought with satisfaction, to lash out with his poisonous stinger. This time the strike would be aimed not only at their Western enemies, but also at Iran--a nation of men who should have been brothers, not enemies.Two crewmen who were making the rubber raft ready looked up expectantly. "We are nearly finished here, Colonel," one of them said.Kassem checked his watch. It was 1:30 A.M. Iran time. "Five minutes," he said, and was gratified to see their smiles. Good men, too good to continue to waste their lives uselessly. All that would end.He took the ladder up to the bridge deck where his lieutenant, Karim al-Midafi waited. Where Kassem was large, and solidly built, Midafi was short and sinewy. His muscles stood out from the base of his neck like the deeply bedded roots of a willow that could withstand the most violent storm. Where Kassem looked like a rugby player, Midafi could have been a jockey. He was a night fighter, every bit as competent as his partner. They were friends."Are they ready down there?" he asked."I told them five minutes," Kassem said."The captain wants to see you.""About what?"Midafi glanced toward the lights on the distant shore, his dark eyes narrowing. He shrugged. "He wants us to understand the consequences if our mission fully develops this morning. The heathen is afraid for his own skin. He thinks that if we're caught and tortured we'll tell them how wegot ashore. Political troubles. He has to be careful now, because too much is at stake. It's money."Kassem looked into his friend's eyes. "Will he continue to cooperate?""If he doesn't I'll kill him with my own two hands.""We need him to send out the encrypted radio message. We're dead without it.""He knows it!" Midafi said vehemently. "The bastards are taking advantage of us. When we've regained Baghdad, and our oil finally begins to flow again, I say we treat them the same as they've treated us. We hold them by the balls!""In the meantime we need them," Kassem repeated gently."More's the shame," Midafi lamented. "They're no different than the Americans.""Get our equipment and load it aboard the raft. And make sure that we have everything, and that it has not been tampered with. I don't want to be stuck with weapons that are inoperative, or a transmitter that doesn't work.""I've already checked our gear, but I'll check it again, Jamal." Midafi nodded toward the bridge hatch. "See what he wants. Then make him understand what will happen to him if he crosses us. I swear by Allah, if he does I will somehow come back and put my hands around his neck, even if it means crawling five hundred miles over the mountains and across the desert.""I'll join you in a minute," Kassem said, and he opened the hatch and stepped over the raised sill into the bridge which was lit only by a very dim red light and the ghostly pale green raster of the radar set.The captain stood at the windows, studying the shoreline through a pair of image-intensifying binoculars. The helmsman held the boat into the chop while the radio operator listened to something on his earphones. They wore the same uniform as the captain, which was different than Kassem's."You wanted to see me, Captain?" Kassem asked. "It's nearly time for us to leave."Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet Captain Third Rank Vladislav Sidorenkov lowered his binoculars and turned his square-featured Slavic face to Kassem. "We're on station. I wanted to make sure that you were ready before I call for your air strike.""Karim is checking our equipment. We leave in two minutes.""Don't be hasty. Your government has very few assets to waste on a futile operation, or because of bad timing, or bad luck.""Leave that part to us. Just do your job."Sidorenkov's thick lips curled into a smirk. "Without us you wouldn't have gotten this far.""It is just you and your bridge crew and chief engineer. We would have drawn the personnel from our own navy."The Ukrainian laughed harshly. "From where? What navy?""Do not underestimate us."Sidorenkov laid his binoculars down, and motioned to the radio operator, who slid the headphones half off his ears."The operation begins in two minutes. Get that off to Base One.""Da," the operator replied tersely, and he turned back to his equipment.Kassem studied the Ukrainian. He knew that it was possible that they would be betrayed. That there would be no boat to return to no matter how the operation went. This one had already been paid, and he would leave to save his own skin. Later he could claim that they'd detected an Iranian warship heading their way and had to run, and he would be believed. That was the part that hurt the most: The Ukrainian would be believed by enough of those in the Revolutionary Command Council that Saddam could be convinced."Be here when we're finished," Kassem said uselessly."We'll wait until the agreed-upon time. No longer. Afterward we'll get out of here. We're brave, but not fools, Colonel.""Is that the message they give you in Kiev? Stand up to Moscow but not the Iranian navy?""There is a very large difference between defending one's homeland and that of another man," Sidorenkov said with an indulgent smile."Yes there is. I suggest you do not forget it.""I'm here by orders to help a former ally in a last-ditch stand to save itself. But I will not stick my neck out very far. Nor do I have orders to do so. Baghdad is no longer yours. None of your cities are. Nor are your oil fields, or your airstrips, or your eighty kilometers of coast line. Saddam Hussein only has his deserts, this ship, two jets, and little else. You have nothing to defend. I will not forget that.""There is honor and loyalty."Sidorenkov started to laugh again but then thought better of it. "I'll give you that much, Colonel. But this is not my fight, it is yours. Get on with it, and I'll stay as long as I think it is practical for me to do so.""See that you do."The hatch opened and Midafi was there in the darkness. "We're ready.""Wish us luck, Captain," Kassem said gravely."Even if you are successful tonight, what will it accomplish?" Sidorenkov asked not unkindly."We're seeking information, nothing more," Kassem replied at the hatch. "With knowledge there is power.""With armies and navies and air forces there is power. With money--""With oil," Kassem interrupted. "And we have the oil."Sidorenkov was about to say something when his radio operator pushed the earphones off his ears. "Base One acknowledges. The mission clock is go."Kassem left the bridge without another word, and climbed down to the gently rolling afterdeck with Midafi. The Iraqi crewmen were lowering thefourteen-foot black rubber inflatable over the lee side of the boat where the water was calm. The mission equipment was lashed to the floor of the raft in floatable watertight backpacks. Midafi handed Kassem an American-made M-16 assault rifle, and four extra thirty-round magazines of .223-inch body-armor-piercing ammunition."If we need all this we'll be in trouble," Kassem said, pocketing the magazines.Midafi grinned viciously. "In that case we'll take as many of the bastards with us as we can."His wife and children were safe in the deserts to the far west of the capital city, but he felt the pain of Kassem's loss as if it had been his own family in the rubble. He'd been like an uncle to Kassem's two daughters. But now that their training was finished and it was time to fight, he was more than ready, he was anxious.As Kassem boarded the inflatable he looked up toward the bridge deck. Sidorenkov came out and stood by the rail. When Midafi had the highly muffled 3-hp outboard motor running and they were heading away from the patrol boat, Kassem looked back again. This time Sidorenkov waved once and went inside, the brief flash of red light all that was visible of the boat which was rapidly swallowed by the blackness of the sea and the jumble of lights on the offshore oil rigs several kilometers to their southeast.They made it to the stony beach in slightly over fifteen minutes, where in silence they carried the inflatable a dozen meters up into the tall sea grasses and brush above the high-tide line and crouched out of sight of any chance patrol that might be passing. Midafi stood watch while Kassem checked their exact position with a handheld GPS (global positioning system) navigator.They were within ten meters of their planned landing spot, which placed the Iranian navy base of Bandar-é Emn Khomeini three and a half kilometers up the beach to the east.Kassem took a pair of binoculars from one of the packs and rose up high enough out of the grass that he could make a complete 360-degree sweep of their position. The lights were confusing at first, making it hard to distinguish between the navy base, the town of Bandar Ma'shur, which had been renamed Bandar-é Emn, and the dozens of oil platforms dotted just offshore. But after several moments he could pick out the lights along the base's perimeter fence as well as those around a low, heavily barricaded installation a few hundred meters from the coastal highway. It was where electricity for the navy base was generated. The feeder lines, like most of the station, were underground to protect them from missile attacks. But the station did have one exploitable weakness. The ventilator intakes that supplied outside air to the diesel generators had to be out in the open, hidden only by camouflage paint and netting. Finding their exact location had taken nearly five months and had cost the lives of three very goodmen, all of them Kassem's friends. But without that information tonight's mission wouldn't have had one chance in a thousand of success.Midafi unlashed the equipment and he and Kassem strapped on the heavy packs. Keeping low, and with M-16s at the ready, they raced up from the beach grasses, across the open ground studded with scrub brush and other beach and desert flora, toward the east.They stopped twice so that Kassem could study the power station through his binoculars. Fifty meters away he could finally pick out the four air shafts clearly enough to make a positive identification. Their locations and configurations were exactly as he had studied from the photographs and diagrams they'd been supplied. He checked the luminous dial of his watch."We're still on schedule.""Good." At home Midafi was garrulous, but in the field he was a man of very few words.Crouching on the hardpan, they unslung their packs. Midafi's contained four lightweight tripods that stood less than a meter tall and were painted flat black for low visibility. Each was equipped with an operator-set firing pack that would spit out an electronic spike after a delay of 0 to 600 seconds. He set the tripods up two meters apart in a straight row.Kassem's pack contained four specially modified American-made M72 A2 antitank rockets. He took them out, one at a time, extended their cardboard tubes, and handed them to Midafi, who set them on the tripods. Working swiftly, but carefully and methodically, Midafi aimed the rockets at the four ventilator shaft heads which were disguised to look like small fishing shacks, attached the firing harnesses, and set the firing delay for 300 seconds."This'll give the bastards something to think about," he said."If the jets are on time," Kassem replied softly. "In sha'Allah."He checked his M-16 to make sure it was ready to fire, then headed parallel to a dirt road that connected the power station with the service and supply gate into the base, Midafi falling in beside him in a deceptively slow but distance-eating gait.They were at their most vulnerable now. A chance patrol might discover them. Motion sensors could have been installed since the last time one of their operatives had been here. Or, and this was the most chilling possibility in Kassem's mind, the Iranians might have planted land mines. It was not uncommo...
In this fast-moving spy thriller, set principally in the Middle East of the near future, a James Bond-like character plays cat and mouse with a ruthless assassin and an exiled Saddam Hussein. Edward Lewis makes the best of this rather thin material, mostly by keeping it moving. His youthful voice is undistinguished, but his delivery is well focused and free of distractions. He voices characters lightly but consistently, with satisfactory accents for various nationalities. This novel is mostly about what's going to happen next, and he keeps it working on that level. J.N. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Forge, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0312852568
Book Description Forge, 1996. hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1996 NY: Forge First edition, first printing, new/unread in flawless dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # FLAKILO11
Book Description Forge, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312852568
Book Description Forge, 1996. hardcover. Book Condition: New. Author Signed Hardcover Book. 1996 NY: Forge First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author. Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover. signed by author. Bookseller Inventory # FLAKILO01