Pandora's Legion: Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc. (Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc. (Paperback))

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9781400154074: Pandora's Legion: Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc. (Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc. (Paperback))
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In this explosive new series from New York Times bestseller Harold Coyle and noted military author Barrett Tillman, a new type of war is being fought by private paramilitary companies at the beck and call of the highest bidder. With the military and intelligence agencies spread thin, the US is constantly calling upon the services of these organizations-and Strategic Solutions Inc. is among the best.
Members of Al-Qaida have set in place a vicious biological attack. Men and women infected with the highly communicable and deadly Marburg virus have been sent to major cities and sensitive locations throughout the world in hopes of creating a deadly, global epidemic.
The dedicated men and women of SSI, led by former Rear Admiral Michael Derringer, are consummate professionals, nearly all ex-police or military, and are the among the best in the world at what they do. But the mastermind behind the living bio-weapons, Dr. Saeed Sharif, is more deadly than anyone could have possibly imagined. Spread throughout the globe and thwarting attacks on their home facilities the staff at SSI soon find themselves engaged in a frontline game of ground warfare. And to make matters worse, two infected Marburg carriers are heading straight for the United States. Using every resource it has, SSI launches an all-out search for the walking plague carriers before thousands more become infected and die.

Posing a frightening scenario that could become all too real in the near future, and filled with the details of the military world that have made Coyle's books bestsellers, Pandora's Legion hits the front lines of the new war against terrorism in this engrossing, high-stakes novel.

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About the Author:

Harold Coyle is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ten Thousand and More Than Courage. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PANDORA'S LEGION
PART I1HEATHROW AIRPORT, LONDONThe traveler had a secret.He was a young man with an American passport; one of 155,000 travelers who passed through Heathrow Airport west of the city that day. The British customs official in Terminal Three personally dealt with scores of them at a time, and she had become expert at sizing up people. Patrice Assamba was Jamaican by birth and British by her first marriage. She was also the senior agent on her shift by virtue of thirteen years' experience.Assamba accepted the youngster's dark blue passport and began her initial examination. Another screwed-up American, she told herself. His appearance was unremarkable: early to mid-twenties, slight build, close-cropped dark beard, blue eyes turning watery behind John Lennon glasses. He wore the headgear common to many Islamic males--a brimless cloth cap of nondescript shape, vaguely khaki in color, pushed back on his head.The traveler standing before Agent Assamba held the passport of one Youssef Ibrahim, but he certainly had been born with another name. Apparently a convert to Islam, his hometown was listed as Berkeley, California. That figures, Assamba sneered. She had been through the "People's Republic" several years before, helping a friend guiding a U.K. tour group. Free airfare and accommodations in the San Francisco area for four days and three nights. Hell of a deal. The scenery was marvelous, and Fisherman's Wharf alone was worth the effort.Young Mr. Ibrahim's hand trembled when passing his documents, but Patrice Assamba attributed that to initial nervousness. Gauging by the stamps in the passport, he was new to international travel. Apparently he had gone from California to Saudi Arabia, via Frankfurt, thence to Pakistan for two months. Evidently the boy was on some sort of personal pilgrimage.Assamba looked closer at the supplicant. She noted his pale, clammy skin and the watery eyes that seldom fixed on her. She read the signs: He's trying to appear relaxed by body posture but he won't look directly at me. Keeps glancing away.Youssef Ibrahim probably was hiding something.Assamba's accent bore the carefree lilt of the Caribbean. "Welcome to Heathrow, sir." She gave him a gleaming smile and perky tilt of the head. "Are you staying in England for long?"Ibrahim shifted his weight, placing his hands in his jacket pockets. "Uh, no. Ma'am. No, ma'am. I'll just be here a few days." He glanced away again.Agent Assamba decided to play this strange fish before reeling him in. "After Pakistan, you must be glad to be going home."A brisk nod. "Yes, ma'am. You bet." Mentally he excoriated himself. You bet. The slangy residual of a wasted California youth.In fact, Youssef Ibrahim loathed the very existence of Berkeley, California. After all, that's where his parents lived. He felt an onset of queasiness, uncertain whether it was caused by parental disdain or the effects of his secret. He swallowed hard, keeping the saliva down only by conscious effort. His mouth now was drier than ever before. He damned himself for shivering visibly. The headache that had begun as merely annoying hours before was a growing, insistent pressure behind his eyes.Now the customs agent was examining him more closely. She suspects something. Well, let her look. They can't find what I'm hiding. No way, man."Sir, you don't look well. Would you like to sit down? Could we get you some water?"Ibrahim opened his mouth, intending to decline the offer, when he felt the sudden rumbling in his bowels. He contracted his sphincter, desperately needful of a lavatory. He turned away, not sure where to go, realizing it was already too late. He turned back to Agent Assamba, beyond embarrassment at confiding his crisis to a strange woman. An infidel woman. He felt the first liquid tracking down the back of his legs, squeezed harder, and failed. The eruption announced itself to everyone within twenty feet.ST. EDMUND'S HOSPITAL, LONDONDr. Carolyn Padgett-Smith resembled a practitioner of neither medicine nor immunology, though she possessed a master's degree in the latter. Tall and slender, at forty-one she could have passed for thirty-five, and it took most of her male colleagues a while to get their egos around the fact that a woman with large, violet eyes and high cheekbones knew more about infectious diseases than most Ph.D.s. None would have been surprised to learn that she had paid much of her college tuition by modeling; few realized that beneath her stylish clothes she had the muscular agility of a passionate rock climber."CPS" had planned on grading some postgraduate papers but the call from the Home Office changed all that. Because she had been on the short list for notification in the event of a communicable disease crisis, she was summoned to St. Edmund's, a well-equipped teaching hospital of 1960s vintage.Padgett-Smith was met by a security officer she knew slightly, Richard Eversole Carruthers. She knew him to be professionally competent but, like too many coppers of her acquaintance, prone to situational ethics. "Hullo, Mr. Carruthers. What've we got?""Nice to see you, too, Padgers." Carruthers had long since abandoned hope of getting anywhere with Carolyn Padgett-Smith,burdened as she was with conventional morality and an attentive husband. Forsaking all others, that sort of thing. Pity. "The boy arrived yesterday on the PIA flight from Islamabad. He collapsed at the customs station and was brought here because it's closest to the M4 access to Heathrow.""Ebola?""Likely that or Marburg, I'm told."CPS muttered some fervent Anglo-Saxon monosyllables, none encumbered with a fifth letter. Then she focused her attention. "I shall need to see a blood sample to confirm the virus."Carruthers nodded in his curt fashion. "Right. They're ready for you in the lab." 
 
Padgett-Smith pulled on a gown, mask, and rubber gloves before stepping to the microscope with the blood in the high-quality plastic tube. She appreciated the caution: Glass could shatter if dropped, possibly spreading a deadly virus.CPS focused the eyepiece more sharply and looked into the microscopic world. She felt a slight chill run down her spine, as if she had locked eyes with a cobra.A layman would have seen a riot of cells, hardly recognizable one from another, though the sick ones outnumbered the healthy. But Dr. Padgett-Smith immediately discerned the dying cells: discolored, pale, swollen. Some had already burst apart.Something had caused them to explode.Padgett-Smith looked up at the lab director. "Filovirus?"The man nodded. "I'll show you the microphotographs. We're also running tests to see if the patient's blood reacts positively in other samples. We should know before long." 
 
Padgett-Smith returned to the lobby, ordering her priorities to coordinate with Carruthers's."Who had contact with the patient?" she asked."Well, the customs agents of course. And the ambulance attendants; probably some others.""I shall like to see all of them.""Of course. You can start with the point of contact, Agent Patrice Assamba.""Give me the short version first.""She seems a reliable observer. At first she suspected this so-called Ibrahim fellow was merely nervous because he was hiding something. Then with the sweating and chills, she thought he had malaria or a bad fever."CPS nodded slowly. "Yes, that's the trouble with Marburg and Ebola. The onset is similar to far lesser illnesses with comparable incubation periods." Then she focused those violet eyes on his hazel orbs, two inches lower than hers. "You said 'so-called Ibrahim.' Is that an alias?""Well, it's the name on the passport, for what that's worth. We're checking with the Americans." CPS suspected that when drinking with his mates at the Hare and Hounds, Detective Carruthers said "Americans" with the same sneering tone as "wogs.""He's been in Africa? Exposure to monkeys?" she asked."Arabia and Pakistan. About two months, apparently." The dick shrugged his sloped shoulders. "Don't know about any bloody apes."Dr. Carolyn Padgett-Smith extended a manicured hand and patted Carruthers's cheek. "Why, I'd expect you'd know all about the great bloody apes, dear. Friends of the family." 
 
Jason Scott Lamunyon knew the end would be bad. Dr. Ali had warned him, but "bad" was a vast understatement. The Californian remembered collapsing in a pool of his own excrement, blood, and vomit, regaining consciousness hours later in the isolation ward. Nobody came near him without a biohazard suit and respirator. He realized that he was dying a putrid death: the kind of blight he sought to inflict upon arrogant, decadent Western Civilization.A nurse approached the bed to replenish the IV drip. He wanted to raise an arm, beckoning her--or him--to bend closer. So weak. Can't lift much. He barely nodded his head, and the attendant leaned down. The patient's lips were moving; apparently he wanted to say something. Dr. Padgett-Smith would need to knowabout it; the American had been unconscious when she first looked in.Through the morphine haze, which only dulled the soaring pain, Jason Scott Lamunyon tried to speak. It was doubly hard since the virus had attacked his tongue, which was shedding skin at an alarming rate. He croaked something almost unintelligible: "Sorry. So sorry."With an exertion of will, he moved his right hand to his left forearm and flexed his right thumb. Then he raised two fingers.The atte...

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