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THE DESTROYER NEVER DIES . . . .
VIVA LA REVOLUCION!
When a dozen border patrol volunteers are murdered in New Mexico, apparent victims of Mexican nationals, Dr. Harold W. Smith of the super-secret agency CURE worries the first salvo in a new border dispute has been fired. His worst fears are realized with the appearance of the charismatic Santa Ana, a uniformed, would-be despot with a silver tongue and a thirst for bloody revolution. General Santa Anna has redrawn the border between the U.S. and Mexico to fit his own twisted version of reality, and thousands of illegal aliens are drawn to his message of liberation. The Southwest is on fire, and as the revolution explodes the entire nation is at risk. It seems the brazen general has planned for every eventuality. Except one... Mostly MIA for the past four years, Remo Williams, CURE's one man enforcement arm, has returned to the U.S. just in time to prevent Armageddon. With his Korean mentor Chiun, the Master of Sinanju, at his side, America just might live to see mañana. But it turns out Santa Anna is not the only threat to The Destroyer. Remo not only must save the United States from civil war, he must square off against the only woman who ever killed him...
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Warren Murphy's books and stories have sold fifty million copies worldwide and won a dozen national awards. James Mullaney has worked for Marvel Comics and has ghostwritten books that have sold over a million copies.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE NEW DESTROYER: GUARDIAN ANGEL (Chapter 1)
Rob Scott stared up at the cold night stars, scattered like sparkling grains of sand above the vast New Mexico desert, and for the first time in his thirty-three years of life fully appreciated the sheer, mind-numbing boredom of the vastness of creation.
The light of those stars had taken millions of years to reach Rob Scott's upturned face and he felt as if he had been waiting out in the desert all that time. Of course, he had not been in New Mexico for millions of years--only five hot days and four long nights--but the desert had a way of warping one's sense of time.
To while away the incredible tedium of the late night hours, Rob thought about counting the stars. But he had tried that the previous night and had lost count as they slowly slipped behind the horizon and the desert morning bleached them from the sky.
He had brought his iPod with him and could have listened to his favorite Springsteen music, but on this night, the last of his life, he was too bored even for that.
Maybe the sky was too clear, too unobstructed. Back home in Minneapolis it was impossible to see the sky from horizon to horizon. Here though, with the great panoply of creation spread out before him, Rob, for the first time in his life, was able to see not only himself, but his planet earth, in contrast with the vastness of the universe. The desert had a way of doing that too and for the first time in his life Rob realized that he was just an insignificant speck standing on yet another insignificant speck.
"You guys ever wonder why we're here?" Rob asked.
His brief moment of introspection was lost on his companions and there was a grunt at his elbow. "Somebody's gotta keep half the population of Mexico from sneaking in here. Government sure as hell isn't interested."
The man who spoke was seated before a small computer monitor. His face was bathed in a soft green glow.
There was only one other man standing out there in the desert with Rob Scott, but he knew that five miles distant in either direction was another three-man group. Another three were stationed five miles beyond that, and so on, thirty-three men snaking out fifty miles across the desert. Stationed all along that fifty-mile stretch, straight as the crow flies, was various equipment: sound and motion detectors, as well as night vision cameras on tripods. Nothing moved in the desert without someone in that fifty-mile stretch knowing about it.
All the men were members of the Civilian Border Patrol, all unpaid volunteers, all of whom had signed up to track the movement of illegal aliens across the border.
So far that week, along their little fifty-mile strip, the CBP had spotted one hundred and forty-seven illegals sneaking in from Mexico.
Rob and the rest of the CBP could do nothing to stop them. They could only relay the information to authorities and hope that the lawbreakers were picked up by the Feds somewhere along the line. But out of the one hundred and forty-seven spotted by Rob's cohorts only two had been apprehended and were awaiting repatriation. For Rob, it was a disheartening statistic. It was as if, back in Washington, D.C., nobody in the government really cared.
But, dammit, Washington might not care but out in the heartland, real Americans did. These days there were a bunch of groups doing the same work as the CBP. You couldn't swing a dead rattlesnake without slapping some volunteer in the back of the head. Rob's group was one of the better financed, backed by the resources of Worthington International, Inc. But despite the generous financial backing they received in the form of food, supplies and equipment, even the CBP's track record was dismal.
Two catches in five days. Spot, report, and then be ignored.
Rob knew that even the two they had helped apprehend would simply be returned to the Mexican side of the border. And then they would attempt the crossing again, and next time would more than likely succeed. After all, with five hundred thousand illegals estimated to be sneaking into the country annually, the odds were in their favor.
Rob had taken some vacation time from his insurance agency to help out with the CBP. That was how committed he was to the cause. And, truth be told, he had thought that catching illegals would be exciting. He knew it was important. Instead, after less than a week in the desert, he found it every bit as tedious and unfulfilling as his work behind a desk back in Minneapolis.
A throat cleared nearby. When Rob glanced down from contemplating the heavens, he saw that the man at the monitor had shifted forward on his little folding stool. His finger, cast in an eerie green glow, tapped the screen.
"Beaners at ten o'clock," the man said softly and giggled.
The Civilian Border Patrol had members as old as seventy-eight and as young as nineteen. In its ranks were whites, blacks, and even some people of Mexican ancestry. With a group so diverse there were bound to be a few racist idiots, but thankfully they were few and far between.
Most of the CBP volunteers were men legitimately concerned about the nation's porous borders. For those like Rob Scott it had nothing to do with cheap labor or lost jobs. It was not a coincidence that these groups had formed after 9/11. Rob had an image of two burning buildings forever emblazoned in his memory.
Rob Scott was worried about who--or what--might someday sneak across the Mexican border into the U.S.
On the monitor screen, three...four...no, five bright blobs were making their way toward Rob's camp. The monitors picked up the heat cast by warm bodies in the chill desert night. The group on the screen moved tightly together.
"Wish I had my M16 here," the man at the screen said, giggling again, and then sighed wistfully. "Look at 'em cluster. I could kack those wetbacks easy before they got within a hundred miles of the nearest welfare office."
"Shut up, Eric," Rob said and reached for the camp walkie-talkie.
They had strict instructions not to approach, not to impede. If the illegals came within five feet of them, Rob and the others were to step aside and let them pass, like doormen politely ushering the lawbreakers into a nation that had set out the good china dinnerware in anticipation of their arrival.
Rob was not without compassion. He certainly didn't blame these men and women for trying to sneak into the United States. A vacation trip to Mexico back in his college days had left him stunned at the poverty that existed just off America's back porch. It was only the luck of the draw that had placed him at birth on this side of the border, and Rob was thankful every day for it. But none of that made a wrong thing right and none of it erased Rob's security concerns.
Rob was about to report the sighting when something strange happened. The blobs on the screen stopped moving.
Rob lowered the walkie-talkie. "What's happening?" he asked. "Why have they stopped?"
The man named Eric shrugged. "Beats me. If they were bending over I'd say they were picking lettuce. Maybe one of them just plopped out another baby." The broad smile on Eric's face lasted only a few brief seconds.
There was a bright flash on the monitor screen. A split second later, the monitor erupted in a burst of sparks and flying shards of glass. Rob heard the report of the first gunshot only after the bullet had passed through the monitor and into the grinning face of Eric Bozeman Collins.
Eric was flung backward off his stool, a gaping hole where his nose had been. Rob Scott could barely see him. His vision was blurred by a splash of brilliant white, the result of the monitor flash. Blinking away stars, still in shock, Rob was only startled to action by the second shot.
The gunshot cracked like thunder in the clear desert night.
Rob threw himself to the ground. The walkie-talkie fell out of his hand and slid away in the dirt.
"What are they...they're shooting at us!" Rob cried to the third member of their small group.
His vision was clearing. He saw that the third man--a produce manager from a Wyoming grocery store--had dropped to the ground as well. Rob crawled over to him.
"What are we going to do?"
The man didn't answer. Frantically, Rob shook the man's shoulder. His hand came back damp and sticky.
The second shot had been clean as well. A bull's-eye dead center in the man's heart.
Rob heard voices nearby. Hushed, but closing in.
He took in a hiss of breath. Night vision goggles. The CBP had them. These strangers who came out of the night and hunted unarmed, apparently for sport, must have had similar equipment. That's how they had found Rob's CBP camp, that's why the only two shots they had fired had managed to find their intended targets. Which meant that they could more than likely see Rob as well.
The equipment was partially blocking him from the gang that was somewhere out there. Maybe, he thought hopefully, they could not fire off a third clean shot.
There was a chance. Rob made a best guess where the men must be by now and, keeping the tents between him and his invisible stalkers, he began crawling on all fours in the opposite direction. As he crawled, his hand landed on a small, square object.
The walkie-talkie. He snatched it up, stuffing it in the pocket of his fatigue jacket.
His eyes were clear now. Starlight illuminated the ground an ethereal blue.
Fifteen yards along, the sand thinned and his hands started to scrape across rock. A dark strip stretched out in either direction before him. Rob tumbled over the edge of the old dried-out riverbed. Rocks and sand slid with him to the bottom. His feet went out from under him and he hit hard on his side, smashing his elbow on a sharp boulder. He nearly cried out in pain but swallowed the sound.
Scrambling upright, he pressed his back hard against the dead river bank. With shaking hands he fumbled the walkie-talkie from his pocket. He had barely brought it to his face when he heard a noise up above. The scuffing of someone's foot.
Pausing, holding his breath, hand clenched white around the walkie-talkie, Rob listened intently.
The desert breeze had stilled. Far in the distance, a lone coyote howled at the heavens. No other sound.
Maybe it was his imagination. Maybe these maniacs--whoever they were--had skulked off into the night. Rob heard no one talking, and there had been no gunshots as he crawled away. Maybe the nightmare had passed him by.
The vans that had brought them all out here had deposited men and cargo along the fifty-mile stretch. Rob knew that the vans were parked at a camp miles away and men drove the circuit daily, passing out food and water and cleaning and checking equipment. His two partners were dead, but maybe when the vans arrived in the morning they would find Rob Scott safe and sound. And he would get in one of them, steal it if he had to, and drive the hell out of this frightening, lonely place that forced a man to contemplate his own life and then on a whim and with a sniper's bullet, cruelly ended it.
Still no sound. The killers had left.
Rob brought the walkie-talkie back to his lips.
"Hello! Hello!" he whispered frantically. "Someone out there's shooting at us. I think they're gone now. But Eric and Phil are dead. My God, they're dead. I mean, they just came up out of nowhere and shot them dead. Someone...you'd better get the police here." He suddenly realized they would not know who he was, and remembered the protocol for reporting in. It seemed ridiculous now. Civilians playing at being soldiers. "This is Rob Scott, at checkpoint four. Please, you've...just send help, please."
He took his finger off the button. The box in his hand immediately squawked to life. Someone had been talking back while he was pleading for help.
"...donde esta el bastardo..."
Rob threw the walkie-talkie as if it were a scorpion. It cracked on a rock.
Above his head, a sharp sound. A human grunt. Rob knew that this time he was not mistaken.
On all fours once more he began a desperate crawl down the dried-up riverbed.
Behind him, a second grunt became a shout. Words were called out in Spanish. Someone laughed.
At his back, Rob heard boots scraping and rocks falling.
They were in the arroyo with him. No hiding any longer. They knew where he was.
Rob scrambled to his feet and began sprinting. His toe caught a rock and he went down on his face. A sharp stone gashed his chin, slicing to bone. He clambered back to his feet and resumed his mad dash for life.
The bullet that took him off his feet a moment later did not hurt as much as he feared it would. It was like a hard punch to the shoulder that lifted him up and spun him around.
And then he was down once more, slamming to his back onto the dust and rock of the dead river.
And there were the stars above him once more. But the universe no longer seemed like a cold, vast nothingness. Somehow that sea of infinite blackness and those same twinkling little lights that had so recently forced unwelcome and dispiriting introspection upon Rob Scott now seemed warm and inviting, welcoming him home.
When the shadow fell over him, blocking the stars, he scarcely registered it.
There was a man in a uniform. The man had Mexican features. But such terrestrial matters held little interest for Rob Scott any longer. And when the rifle aimed at his forehead, Rob did not see an empty blackness in the barrel that was darker than the New Mexico desert sky.
And then there was a flash, like the first burst of Creation itself, and Rob Scott knew nothing more.
Mitch Lansing was steering his big RV down the long stretch of unmarked blacktop and trying to tune out his wife's incessant squawking.
"We're lost," insisted Dottie Lansing from the passenger seat. She was half hidden behind a map of New Mexico. The map was rolled out on her lap, bent up over the dashboard and wrapped around on both sides of her, blocking all but Dottie's pudgy fingers and kneecaps. She rattled the map. "I hate this. So big. Why do they make these things so darned big?" she complained.
From somewhere under the unfurled map, Dottie's toy Pekinese yipped incessantly, its barking like an ice pick in Mitch's ear.
Mitch had bought the map back in Omaha, back when he still thought it would be a good idea to spend his retirement traveling the country with his wife. Maybe it would not have been so bad, maybe he could even have stood Pookie's barking, if Dottie did not seem to insist that unity, togetherness and family values demanded that if he were going to drive, she would have to be the navigator. The problem with that was that Dottie could not read a map.
She couldn't even read the map that came on the puzzle-page children's placemat at the diner back down the road. At breakfast a few dozen miles back, before she had gotten them lost again, Dottie had grabbed a pencil and tried to solve the map puzzle on the placemat but was unable to find Yogi Bear safe passage to his cave. Instead, Dottie's pencil had led Yogi straight into an alligator pit, and now Dottie's real-life map skills had led them to an abandoned stretch of highway out in the middle of nowhere.
"I'm going to turn around," Mitch intoned. "Don't say a word."
As Mitch slowed the RV, Dottie wadded up the map. She was sure that there was a conspiracy to make all maps impossible to refold along the original lines, and so when she was done with one, it was about an inch thick and could never be opened flat again.
"What's that, dear?" Dottie asked as she attempted to jam the map into the overflowing glove compartme...
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