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Authors: Jonathan Maberry

Joe Ledger

BOOK: Joe Ledger
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Joe Ledger:

Special Ops

 

 

 

By

Jonathan Maberry

 

 

 

 

JournalStone

San Francisco

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Jonathan Maberry

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Countdown - Originally published as an eBook by St. Martin's Griffin; August 10, 2009; © 2009 Jonathan Maberry

Zero Tolerance - Originally published in THE LIVING DEAD 2, edited by John Joseph Adams; Night Shade Books; September 1, 2010. © 2009 Jonathan Maberry

Deep Dark - Originally published as an eBook by St. Martin's Griffin, November 21, 2009; © 2009 Jonathan Maberry

Changeling - Originally published in Midnight Echo Magazine issue #9 (Australia), May 2013. © 2013 Jonathan Maberry

Material Witness - Originally published as an eBook by St. Martin's Griffin, July 12, 2011; © 2011 Jonathan Maberry

Mad Science - Originally published in LIAR LIAR; Blackstone Audio, April 2, 2013; © 2013 Jonathan Maberry

Borrowed Power - Originally published as an eBook by St. Martin's Griffin, April 30, 2013; © 2013 Jonathan Maberry

Artifact - First publication; © 2014 Jonathan Maberry

The Handyman Gets Out - First publication; © 2014 Jonathan Maberry

Inside the DMS - First publication; © 2014 Jonathan Maberry

Interview with Ray Porter - First publication; © 2014 Jonathan Maberry

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

JournalStone books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

 

JournalStone

www.journalstone.com

 

The views expressed in this work are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

 

ISBN:
 
978-1-940161-39-6
(sc)

ISBN:
 
978-1-940161-40-2
(ebook)

ISBN:
 
978-1-940161-41-9
(hc)

ISBN:
 
978-1-940161-42-6
(hc – limited edition – leather binding)

 

JournalStone rev. date:  April 25, 2014

 

Library of Congress Control Number:  2014930041

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

Cover Design:
Rob Grom

Cover Photograph © Shutterstock.com

Edited by: 
Dr. Michael R. Collings

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to Michael Homler, editor and friend. Thanks for always being there.

 

And, as always, for Sara Jo.

 

 

 

Endorsements

 

 

“Brilliant, shocking, horrifying, it puts the terror back in terrorist.”—
James Rollins
,
New York Times
Bestselling author of
The Last Oracle

 

“Jonathan Maberry is the king of the fictional occult and his Joe Ledger is a one-man wrecking crew for zombies and bioterrorists. These action-packed tales read fast and hard. Pick up this book and you won’t put it down.”—
Gregg Hurwitz
,
New York Times
Bestselling author of
Tell No Lies

 

“The hard-shelled hero, Baltimore shamus Joe Ledger, deserves to stand alongside F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack in the pantheon of genre icons. Highest recommendation!”—
Jay Bonansinga
,
New York Times
Bestselling author of
The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor

 

“Wow! Maberry’s
Patient Zero
made me pleasantly nervous for one long afternoon, when I consumed it. It’s a fast-paced, creepy thriller that’s as prickly as a hospital needle and sounds a little too convincing. This guy is good.”—
Joe R. Lansdale

 

“Jonathan Maberry has found a delightful voice for this adventure of Joe Ledger and his crew: while the action is heated, violent, and furious, the writing remains cool, steady, and low-key, framing all the wildness and exuberance in a calm rationality.”—
Peter Straub,
New York Times
Bestselling author and horror master

 

“Joe Ledger and the DMS have my vote as the team to beat when combating terrorist threats on a grand scale. Jonathan Maberry has struck upon gold, a perfect blend of military thriller and science-based horror.”—
David Morrell
,
New York Times
Bestselling author of
First Blood
and
Creepers

 

“Maberry’s prose sears, his dialog cuts like a knife, and his characters crackle with life. Joe Ledger rules.”—
Douglas Preston
, co-author of
The Wheel of Darkness
and
The Book of the Dead

 

“Hooray for Jonathan Maberry. Please give us more Joe Ledger right now!”—
Victor Gischler
, author of
Shotgun Opera
and
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

 

“Jonathan Maberry has created a new genre. Mixing technology, thrills, chills, and procedural noir, Maberry shows why he is one of the freshest voices in fiction. Every reader will want to ride shotgun on Joe Ledger’s adventures.”—
Scott Nicholson
, author of
The Skull Ring

 

“[Maberry] weaves science, police procedure, and modern anti-terror techniques into a unique blend, and tops it off with a larger than life character who is utterly believable. I couldn't put it down.”—
Jerry Pournelle
,
New York Times
Bestselling co-author of
Footfall
and
Lucifer’s Hammer

 

“Smart, scary, and relentless!”—
Jon McGoran
, author of
Drift 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

Countdown

Zero Tolerance

Deep Dark

Material Witness

Changeling

Mad Science

Artifact

The Handyman Gets Out

Borrowed Power

Inside the DMS (character profiles)

Joe Ledger Reading Chronology

Interview with Ray Porter

About the Author

 

 

 

 

Countdown

 

 

NOTE: This story was written as a teaser for the impending release of
Patient Zero
.

The storyline here picks up in that novel.

 

Chap. 1

 

I didn’t plan to kill anyone.

I wasn’t totally against the idea, either.

Sometimes things just fall that way, and either you roll with it or it rolls over you. Letting the bad guys win isn’t how I roll.

 

Chap. 2

 

When I woke up this morning it was going to be another day on the job. I’ve been Baltimore PD for eight years now. I did four in the Army before rotating back to my life with a Rangers patch but no ribbons for doing anything of note because nothing of note was happening at the time. I got out right before 9/11.

It was different on the cops. Baltimore’s been a war zone ever since crack hit the streets during the 80s. Families fell apart, kids took to the street in packs, and every corner belonged to one of the drug gangs. Down there, “murder” is so common a word it doesn’t even give people pause. I wore the blue and knocked a few heads, made some busts, climbed the ladder. Couple of times it got Old West on me and there was gunplay. They taught me well in the Rangers, and the other older beat cops taught me even better. It’s never been about who draws fast or draws first—it’s only ever been about who hits what he aims at. I’m good at that. And if the scuffle is hands or knives or broken broom handles, well, I’m okay there, too. Baltimore isn’t the richest city in the world, and it definitely has its issues, but it doesn’t breed weaklings. The streets taught me a lot I didn’t learn from the Army or in a dojo.

In the years since the planes hit the towers, every police department in the country grew an umbilical cord attached to the bureaucratic monster that is Homeland Security. Shortly after I got my shield I got “volunteered” to be part of a joint task force that was cobbled together by lend-lease cops from Baltimore, Philly, and D.C., all of us on Homeland’s leash. We profiled suspects, invaded a lot of personal privacy, listened to thousands of hours of wiretaps, and tried to build cases—mostly against people whose closest ties to Middle Eastern terrorists was a collection of Sinbad movies at home. Every once in a while we’d get a minnow, but we never even caught a whiff of a shark.

Until we did.

I was sitting wiretap on a warehouse down by the docks. Our big break started as a fragment of info here and another fragment there—sketchy stuff, but we started seeing some movement patterns that looked covert. Conversations over the tapped phones started sounding like code, people talking about importing agricultural products when the warehouse was licensed to a shoe business. Stuff like that. Then somewhere in the middle of the night I caught a brief conversation on a cell phone line that was hardly ever used. Just a little bit of back-and-forth in which one of the players dropped the name “El Mujahid
.
” The immediate response from the other party was to hang the hell up.

El Mujahid.

The name was so frigging big that I had about three seconds of thinking it was a joke, like everyday Schmoes might drop the name Bin Laden into the middle of a conversation or as the punch line to a joke. We all do it. But this didn’t have that feel.

The transcript of the line I’d heard was this: “. . . that will all change when El Mujahid—”

At which point the other guy curses in Farsi and hangs up. Farsi’s one of the languages I know. Actually, I know a lot of languages—that stuff’s always been easy for me.

BOOK: Joe Ledger
2.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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