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Operating undercover at the President's command, the expert soldiers and cyber techs of the Stony Man team fight for freedom and the rights of the innocent, opposing terrorism in all its deadly forms wherever the need arises.
The killing of U.S. operatives in Turkey threatens to jeopardize U.S.–Turkish relations. Committed to putting an end to the murder before another agent is assassinated, Phoenix Force heads overseas, only to discover the dead agents are just the beginning. Extremists have stolen nuclear devices and set targets in both Turkey and America. With the countdown to D-day already started, Phoenix Force must race to stop the bombs from detonating in Turkey while Able Team must do whatever it takes to neutralize the threat in the U.S. Failure is simply not an option.
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Don PendletonExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Stony Man Farm, Virginia
David McCarter, the commander of Phoenix Force, was already seated at the conference table in the War Room when the rest of the team entered. The lean, tanned Briton, casually dressed as usual when off duty, set a chilled bottle of Classic Coke in front of him. He watched as the group filed in and took their places at the table.
Hal Brognola, the director of Stony Man Farm, placed a stack of folders on the table as he sat. He had a resigned expression on his face that warned the assembly they were not about to be overjoyed at what he had to tell them. Last into the room was Aaron Kurtzman, the Stony Man cyber boss.
"This doesn't suggest we're about to play happy families," McCarter said.
Barbara Price, the honey-blonde, attractive mission controller, said, "On the button as usual, David."
"Comes naturally." McCarter grinned. "Like second sight. I know what's coming."
Since stepping up to take command of Phoenix Force, the Briton had maintained a confident, often brash character. Out in the field, when the time came for holding a team together, there was no one better than David Mc-Carter. He knew Brognola was about to spell out the upcoming mission and, as always, McCarter was more than ready to take it on board. That didn't stop the irrepressible man from making his flip comments. The former SAS officer had a forceful personality that was hard to ignore. His irreverent humor vanished when Phoenix Force became involved in official business; then he became a skilled fighter with few equals.
With everyone settled, Brognola distributed the folders, sliding one along the table to each man. With that done, he leaned back in his seat and unwrapped one of his trademark cigars and clamped it between his teeth. No one could recall the last time he'd actually smoked one of them. He simply chewed on the cigar, using it like a tobacco-based worry bead. As head of the Farm, Harold Brognola had plenty to be worried about.
Silence reigned for the next few minutes as the teams absorbed the contents of the files.
"Two undercover agents killed?" Carl Lyons, the Able Team commander, queried. Powerfully built, the blond former LAPD cop was a full-on, no-nonsense fighter who seldom took prisoners unless there was a good reason to keep them alive. "In Turkey?"
Rosario Blancanales, Able Team's infiltration specialist, followed up. "Both teamed on the same investigation?" Nicknamed "the Politician," Blancanales had the skills and confidence of a negotiator coupled with his enduring combat qualifications.
Calvin James added, "Hell of a security breach." The black Phoenix Force warrior was tall and leanly powerful. A former Navy SEAL, the Chicago-raised man was also the Phoenix Force medic. James was ferocious in battle, never giving an inch, yet in the aftermath would give as much of himself again to tend to a wounded individual—friend or foe alike.
"The President feels the same way," Brognola said.
"He's already had talks with the Turkish president. There's a lot at stake here, people. So he's passed it along to us. Wants to keep it under the radar, if possible, until it's sorted."
"Nice of him," McCarter said. "Question is why?"
"The bottom line seems to indicate a conspiracy aimed at disturbing the U.S.-Turkish alliance," Rafael Encizo said, tapping his copy of the file. "No definite proof but an overall suggestion. And we can't ignore the reference to possible nuclear ordnance mentioned in the reports. Some kind of blackmail threat."
The Cuban had an earned reputation as being one of the most skilled knife-fighters around and had a fertile, probing mind. He was tenacious, a relentless fighter who never backed down. He still bore the scars from a term in Cuba's infamous Principe prison before he made his break for freedom to the U.S.A. He had never forgotten his imprisonment, the memory still in his mind and the physical scars on his body. One of Encizo's proudest moments was when he became an American citizen. His commitment to Phoenix Force was one of the ways he offered his thanks.
"Nor should you," Brognola said. "Turkey has been a U.S. ally for a long time. That relationship has come under attack on a number of occasions. Their location puts them in a delicate position and the U.S. doesn't want to lose that advantage. However, certain groups in the country don't like the closeness to us. They make their feelings known whenever the opportunity comes up. But the suggestions in the report veer toward more than just protest groups and staged rallies. Top of their agenda has been the removal of our base at Incirlik."
"By nuclear blackmail?" Thomas Jackson Hawkins said. "That seems to be coming through pretty damn strong."
"Trouble with threats is they can end up turning into the real thing," James noted. "Especially if they're in the hands of extremists."
"So are we taking direct action?" Hawkins asked. A Texan, the youngest Phoenix Force member was former Delta Force and was rapidly developing into a seasoned veteran. He still had moments of unrestrained enthusiasm that got the better of him, but his military experience and fighting skills had made him a valuable asset to Phoenix Force.
"Rein it in, cowboy," Gary Manning quipped. The brawny Canadian fighter held the distinction of being Phoenix Force's demolitions expert. Former RCMP, Manning had extensive knowledge of global terrorist groups. "Your time will come."
"From the little intel we've received, there's a group organizing itself for some kind of extreme protest," Brognola continued. "There was a name in the transcripts that came up a number of times. Kadir Polat is a Turkish national. He's a guy who wants to be counted when it comes to opposition against our presence in the country."
Brognola glanced down the table to where Aaron Kurtzman, head of Stony Man's dedicated cyber team, sat quietly in his motorized wheelchair. The big man had been crippled from the waist down a number of years back when Stony Man Farm had been hit for the first and only time. Despite his disability, Kurtzman had proved himself countless times by providing information that assisted the Stony Man field teams. His ongoing mission was to maintain his department as the best around, and to offer the Stony Man teams the ultimate in backup.
Kurtzman was never more at home than when presented with a complex technical problem. If there was a need for something, Kurtzman would find the solution. His understanding of the internet was matched only by his innate curiosity and the need to keep learning.
"Getting into Makerson's laptop gave us the opening we needed," Kurtzman said. "That guy had put down everything he'd sourced—names and locations and images he'd captured on his cell. He's left us a hell of a legacy."
Kurtzman used the remote he held to bring up the information on the wall-mounted plasma screen. The data Makerson had gathered had been assembled into understandable order and the Stony Man teams were able to follow it clearly.
"The first image is Kadir Polat himself." Another image flashed on-screen. "Then we have this guy— Hakan Kaplan. Polat's second in command and lifelong personal friend. Makerson has him down as the harder man of the two. Both these guys are part of Ozgurluk. Pretty well are Ozgurluk. It's Turkish for freedom, for those interested. Nice little choice of words. Their politics are well-known, and on the surface they appear as people with grievances concerning Turkey's involvement with the U.S. and NATO. Makerson had tracked them both to meetings with other activist individuals."
Kurtzman clicked to a second image of Polat. It showed a close-up of the strong-faced, good-looking man, his dark eyes seeming to actually stare at everyone in the room. The effect was unsettling. The man had a head of thick black hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. The set of his lips showed a hint of a smile.
"Polat. Early forties. A devout advocate of Turkish withdrawal from NATO and involvement with the U.S. His opposition is on record and he openly defies the elected government. He's highly visible. He criticizes the elected government for being a sycophantic ally of the U.S. He is," Kurtzman added, "an extremely popular guy. Has an immense following and the backing of influential people in business and politics."
Barbara Price studied the face, admitting to herself that Polat was more than just good-looking. There was something in his dark eyes that could easily have been tantalizing. Maybe it was the light olive complexion. His black hair. The way he stared into the camera lens. The mesmerizing expression in the deep pupils...
The Stony Man mission controller mentally shook herself, hoping her brief lapse had not been noticed. Price was no giddy schoolgirl. What the hell was she thinking? A faint warmth crept across her cheeks. She was a woman dedicated to her work and not the kind to be easily seduced by a simple photograph of an attractive man. She became aware again of Kurtzman's voice as he explained more about Polat. She realized she had zoned out for a few moments and pulled herself back to the present.
"Polat's background tells us he comes from a wealthy family. Extremely wealthy. And I emphasize wealthy. The Polat dynasty goes back decades. Very traditional Turkish. They own businesses around the country, including a shipping line. They have homes in Turkey. A villa on the Costa Brava. Run aircraft like normal people run cars. And there's an ocean-going cruiser Kadir keeps moored in the harbor outside Istanbul."
"Married?" McCarter asked casually.
It was an innocent question on the surface, but when Price caught the Briton's gaze she could see a thin smile edging his lips.
"Just filling in the background."
Dammit, she thought, had he noticed?
"No," Brognola said. "Though he has been linked with some well-known women."
"Interesting," McCarter said. "Quite a bloke, then."
Price felt a flash of anger at his remark. She pushed it out of her mind instantly. She realized McCarter was simply teasing. He was well-known for his dry wit and the pointed way he could deliver his sly retorts.
"So what's Polat done that gets him in this report?" McCarter asked, his attention back on Brognola. "Is he suspected of being involved in the deaths of the agents?"
"Lots of suspicion," Brognola said. "No hard proof. But Polat is smart enough to stay in the background and surround himself with people to make his history interesting.
"Polat has a younger brother who is involved with Ozgurluk. Amal Polat. He has the family money behind him and a rep as a hothead. He's twenty-four years old but still has the willful attitude of a teenager."
They went over the files again, taking in the data that applied to each team.
"This is one of the good guys," Brognola said, nodding at the cyber boss. "To be politically correct, one of the good girls."
Kurtzman brought up another image on the plasma. This time a young female. She was strikingly attractive. Her fall of thick black hair framed an oval, mobile face. She had large brown eyes and a full mouth, light brown skin and dark brows.
"Now, she is interesting," Encizo said. "And she's on the side of the good guys?"
"Agent Berna Kartal," Brognola said. "And, yes, she is. Kartal is an agent with the NIO—the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, aka secret service. Early thirties. Did a couple of years in active military service when she was eligible. Her current assignment is investigating Ozgurluk. She had the local contact with Makerson and his partner until they disappeared. The next time she saw them was in the morgue. Dead agents push this a step up the ladder."
"So what's the bottom line here?" Lyons said.
"Polat is suspected of having a desire to push his group further along the dissent road. Behind the outer charm he's funded rallies expressing dissatisfaction with American presence on Turkish soil. He has the ear of powerful Turkish groups who also have big money behind them. Industrialists. Old-time Turkish families, like his own, who would prefer nothing better than for the country to be free from foreign influence. And there are groups within the Turkish government who have the same feelings. Kartal believes there may also be some military backing coming via General Demir Marangol."
The next photo showed a thickset man in a Turkish military uniform bedecked with ribbons. The man's broad face stared out of the picture with a belligerent scowl. His dark eyes and thick mustache gave him a powerful expression.
"Marangol. Old family friend of the Polat dynasty. Also extremely pro-Turkish independence. Makes no bones about his feelings. Wants his country independent of foreign influence. Has a lot of power behind him in the military."
"So no solid evidence of anything except hot air?" Lyons growled.
As always the Able Team leader was not shy about expressing his opinion. Carl "Ironman" Lyons saw everything in black and white; there was good and there was bad. It was advisable to remain in the good guys' camp if Lyons was on your case; he tended to subscribe to the school of "shoot first, worry about the questions later."
Lyons had little concern over criminals' rights. He was fair, but had no time for tolerating bad behavior. He'd undergone paramilitary training in preparation for antiterrorist missions. Though he had not had any military service, Lyons had worked in the LAPD as a detective sergeant. Since becoming the leader of Able Team, Lyons had gained on-the-job experience in the fight against terrorism.
"No. Speculation by the carload, but no positive proof. Until recently," Brognola said. "Kartal's report backs up what the dead agent, Makerson, sent to his home laptop. The first time there's been anything except a great deal of hearsay."
"Enough to move on?" Encizo inquired.
"When an investigation ends up with two agents dead, it becomes a possible threat we can't afford to ignore. Enough that the President has called in Stony Man and sanctioned a mission to follow through on what he's been made privy to. His advisers have given him background on the Turkish unrest. The President has taken it on board and told his people to keep an eye on the situation. But behind closed doors he felt there was enough to give Stony Man a mandate to investigate further without the State Department blocking his way. He considered all the options and there was enough to cause him concern. It seems that at one point his advisory briefings postulated at the hint of some actual physical strike against U.S. interests in Turkey."
Brognola looked around the table. "And a veiled hint that a similar incident could take place here, on U.S. soil, to back up what Ozgurluk is threatening. Now, this may be nothing more than some Turkish half-assed bullying. But when U.S. agents are murdered—agents investigating Turkish agitators advocating the removal of our base at Incirlik—it all starts to take on a shadow of reality. The deaths have been kept out of the spotlight. No point in allowing press hype to muddy the waters."
"With the background...
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Book Description Gold Eagle, 2015. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0373804504
Book Description Gold Eagle, 2015. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110373804504
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