Read Orders of Magnitude (The Genie and the Engineer Series Book 2) Online

Authors: Glenn Michaels

Tags: #Genie and the Engineer, #wizards, #AIs, #glenn michaels, #Magic, #engineers, #urban fantasy, #Adventure

Orders of Magnitude (The Genie and the Engineer Series Book 2)

BOOK: Orders of Magnitude (The Genie and the Engineer Series Book 2)
3.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

Published through Amazon.com, Inc.

 

This is a work of fiction. The personalities, characters and
people herein are purely products of the author’s overactive imagination which
was ensnared in the grip of nightmares in the wee hours of the night. Any
resemblance of the characters herein to real people, either living or dead, should
be a cause of serious concern for their welfare and a critical indication of
their need for immediate professional therapy. (Just those that are still breathing,
of course.)

 

Engineer – Wizard

 

Orders of Magnitude

 

December 2015 printing

 

Text copyright © 2015 Glenn Michaels

 

Cover Design by Katie Griffin

 

All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or
distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not
participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights.

Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Works by Glenn Michaels

 

Genie and the Wizard

The Engineer Wizard

Orders of Magnitude

 

Dedication
:
To our son, Jarrett

June 10, 1985 to October 7, 2015

 

College graduate,
accountant, composer, pianist, guitarist, air-soft competitor, fluent in three
languages, conversant in two more, basketball player, mountain-biker, Iron-man
marathon athlete, teller of endless Dimitri jokes, and much much more.

 

You took the
music with you. We miss you.

 

Glenn Michaels

 

Author’s notes:

 

Please
note that this book,
Engineer Wizard: Orders of Magnitude
, is the sequel
to
The Engineer Wizard
. It is not necessary to read the first book
before reading this one but it is highly recommended. This book picks up where
the last one left off and thus the first book lays out much of the background
needed to appreciate the nuances of the events, plot, and characters of this
one (at least for the first few chapters).

 

In
addition, a few of the first individuals who sent in nice emails complimenting
the first book were offered the opportunity to have minor characters named
after them here in the second one. A couple of them accepted the offer and they
will find their namesakes included.

 

Also,
readers should be advised that, like the first book, there are quite a few sci-fi
quotes, technical, scientific, and geographic references and historical figures.
Therefore, readers are encouraged to check such information by way of their
favorite web search engine.

 

One
other noteworthy caution: like the first book, this one is a blend of both
urban fantasy and science-fiction. As such, it is betwixt and between, neither purely
one nor the other. Please keep this in mind when delving into the pages herein.

SECTION I
TRAGEDIES
ONE

 

A dry desert lake bed

106 miles southeast of Esfahan, Iran

June

Thursday 4:30 p.m. IRDT

 

I
t
was a bright warm sunny day, but former Lieutenant Colonel Grigory Kuzman of
the Russian Air Forces, dressed in standard Iranian camouflage fatigues with the
Safariflage DPM pattern, felt a chill deep in his bones.

The Russian was tall, six-foot-four, and well-muscled at 220
pounds, with dirty blond hair cut short, a wide jaw, and large hands. Except
for the jagged scar on one cheek, he was practically recruiting poster
material.

“How’s your cold?” ex-Starshina Leonid Burkov asked him, as
he dropped into the trench beside Kuzman. By contrast, Burkov was short, thin,
and wiry, though exceptionally strong. His hair, while also cut short, held tight
jet-black curls. And that nose! Almost twice too large for his small face.

Grigory lowered his binoculars and turned to face his
longtime friend and business associate. “The worst I’ve had in ten years. My
head feels as if it will explode any minute now.”

“When those sinuses start to drain, you are going to need a
box of tissues close by,” was Burkov’s wry observation. He raised his own set
of binoculars to scan the sky. “It shouldn’t be long now. Omar just got word
from the pilot. He’s on his approach run.”

“That’s good. The sooner this is over with, the sooner we
can get back to civilization.” Kuzman glanced around, noting that no one else
was close by at that particular moment, either in the trench or out of it. “The
set up here is wrong. I can feel it. You better have your—you know what—ready,
just in case.”

Burkov took a brief glimpse around as well. “It’s funny that
you said that, I was about to make the same comment to you.”

Whatever else Kuzman might have said was interrupted by the
arrival of Omar.

“Well, gentlemen it won’t be very long now,” the terrorist
leader said as he dropped into the trench beside the two of them, a portable
radio in his hand. “What a glorious day it is for a bombing! However, I’m sure
the two of you would like to have this done and over with so you can go on to
other profitable ventures.”

Kuzman did not bother to reply but simply nodded and raised
his binoculars back to his eyes.

“There,” said Burkov, pointing to the northeast.

The glint of sunlight from the late afternoon sun could be
seen reflecting off a metal object high in the sky above them. Through their
binoculars, they could clearly see the slow lumbering approach of the Hercules
C-130C aircraft. Now they could hear it too, the droning of the aircraft’s
engines far off in the distance.

Kuzman swung left and snapped another quick examination of
the target area through his binoculars. The assemblies of wood, aluminum piping,
and sandbags scattered around the location looked decidedly out of place here
in the middle of the desert, not to mention the irregular placement of
life-sized dummies and the peculiar metal posts sticking vertically out of the
ground. From what he could see, everything appeared to be in readiness, and the
area had been cleared of all personnel—not that it would make any difference at
this point. Omar would not postpone the test for the mere life of one of the
Iranian soldiers in his charge. If anyone was still in the target zone at this
point—what did the Americans call it? Yes, a stupid tax. How appropriate. Kuzman
himself could care less about the target area or the soldiers either. His major
concern was the cargo about to be dropped by the approaching plane.

The C-130C dropped lower in the sky. Kuzman could not see it
from this angle, but he knew that the rear cargo door would be wide-open now,
the pallet sitting on skids ready to be pushed out.

The plane now thundered by overhead, a huge object dropping
from the rear, tumbling slowly in the late afternoon sun. As the plane scurried
away, a drogue chute deployed from the package, slowing its fall through the
air, aiming for the target area more than half a mile away.

“Heads up! Fire in the hole!” yelled Omar at the top of his
lungs. Up and down the trench, men hunkered down, hands over their ears. Kuzman
and Burkov followed suit, not willing to risk exposure to the blast that was
about to take place.

The bomb was still two hundred feet off the ground when the
first detonation went off. The charge blew liquid contents in all directions,
thoroughly distributing the fuel over a very wide area.

“Allahu Akbar!” screamed Omar.

Then the second and much larger detonator exploded, igniting
the mixture of fuel and air for a thousand feet in all directions.

The ground beneath them heaved savagely, knocking all of
them flat. The shockwave followed by the blast was deafening, and despite his
fingers in his ears, Kuzman felt a sharp pain stabbing both sides of his head. The
wind howled over their heads, sand blasting over the trench with incredible
force. For a moment, he feared that he had miscalculated and, despite their
distance, that the trench was too close to the blast. Indeed, he suddenly found
it too difficult to breathe with the depletion of oxygen in the air and all the
dust swirling around him.

But then the ground stopped shaking and the noise faded
slowly away. He came staggering out of the trench coughing, his eyes stinging
from all the dust and smoke. As soon as he could wipe away the grime and see
again, he noted the presence of Burkov at his side.

“Don’t get me wrong, gentlemen,” Burkov noted with that wiry
sense of humor of his, “and perhaps it is a bit premature, but I would hazard a
guess that our test was at least partially successful.”

• • • •

The Hercules had landed and the sun was now set. The desert
night sky was brilliant with stars, the Milky Way Galaxy peeking well over the
southeastern horizon. The moon was not present and would not rise until well
after midnight, but the stars all by themselves were bright enough to cast a
few shadows across the landscape.

Kuzman and Burkov were standing in the outline of a set of
landing lights, not far from the open door of a French Dassault Falcon 20. The
business jet sat on the desert sand, one of its engines idling in readiness to
leave. The two men were most anxious to go up the ladder, but a large-framed
Iranian guard of the Quds Special forces would not allow them to board the
aircraft. They were therefore waiting on Omar to finish with his inspections of
the blast site.

“What you think?” Burkov asked nervously. “Is he going to
pay us what he owes us? Is he even going to let us leave here alive?”

“Both good questions,” agreed Kuzman. “We should never have
agreed for both of us to come observe the test.”

“He insisted, remember?” Burkov reminded his friend. “Just
in case anything needed our personal attention, he said.”

“How convenient,” noted Kuzman sarcastically.

“How long are we going to have to wait?” Burkov asked,
fidgeting.

“No longer, my friends,” boomed the voice of Omar from out
of the darkness as he approached, entering the edge of the lighted area. “I
have finished my preliminary inspections. The rest will have to wait until
tomorrow, when we have full daylight again.” The terrorist laughed happily. “Your
bomb obviously worked as designed. Congratulations, gentlemen! The target area
and everything in it was totally obliterated! It was everything that you
promised. Perhaps even more so than I expected. You have done us a great
service!”

“So we can go back to base now?” Burkov asked. “And you will
pay us the rest of what you owe us?”

Omar laughed in reply. “I understand your concerns,
gentlemen. I’m afraid I must admit they are well-founded. I can’t let you go
back, knowing what you know. I apologize for that, gentlemen. It is not
civilized. But it is the way that it must be.”

“I knew it!” growled Burkov.

“Steady, old friend,” Kuzman hissed before turning back to
Omar. “Killing us is not necessary. We are professionals. How long do you think
we could stay in business if we revealed anything about our client’s business
affairs?”

“I am sorry. I simply cannot take the chance,” the terrorist
leader replied. “And if you knew what we intend to do with the other detonators
that you designed and built for us, as well as the bomb design you’ve kindly
provided us, then you probably would tell the Zionists or the Americans.”


Nyet
,” Kuzman protested angrily. “We left enough
information in a secret and secure location, in case something like this
happened. You would be wise to let us go and pay us what you owe us. Let us
pretend that this conversation never took place.
Vy soglasny
?”

“No, I do not,” Omar replied with great sadness. “Your
secure location? A former senior sergeant Zubov, perhaps? He has already been
quietly dealt with. I think the code phrase you used was ‘when the rich make
war, it’s the poor that die.’ That’s if everything worked out as planned,
right? Now, what was the distress code phrase again? Ah, yes, ‘when pigs begin
to fly.’ Yes, that was it.”

Kuzman turned bright red in anger and fear.

“A former client of yours told us all of that, gentlemen,”
Omar quietly confessed to them in a firm voice. “You really should have changed
your operational procedures from time to time, you know.” Then turning, he
shouted something in Arabic and four men of the Quds Special Forces magically
appeared from out of the dim starlit night. “Take these two men out into the
desert, away from the aircraft. Make their deaths as quick and as painless as
possible. Oh, and take two shovels with you. Bury the bodies in decent graves.
We owe them at least that much for what they have done for us, understand?
Good, now go.”

“Go with Allah, now, gentlemen,” Omar shouted, as the four
soldiers pulled the two Russians away from the plane and out into the darkness.

Burkov mumbled curses with every step, stumbling as he went,
his eyes not yet adjusted to the starlight lit landscape. The Iranians kept shoving
him and Kuzman along in the darkness at every opportunity. Kuzman kept silent,
his thoughts running madly through his head, planning the next several steps in
advance, gauging his timing and actions carefully. Two against four and those four
were Special Forces. With a grin, he realized that the odds were stacked in his
and Burkov’s favor. The Iranians just didn’t know it yet.

What the Iranians also didn’t know was that both Burkov and he
were armed. Back when they had first arrived in Iran, both they and their
luggage had been thoroughly searched for contraband and they weren’t carrying
weapons at that time. But both Burkov and Kuzman were old veterans to this type
of operation. Neither felt comfortable operating in an unfriendly country like
Iran without any means of defense.

Using his rather extensive connections in the Middle East,
in this case in Iran itself, Kuzman had arranged for a dead drop right at the
airbase they were staying at. Both of them were now carrying concealed weapons.
In a strap-on sheath beneath his right trouser leg was a Spetsnaz NRS-2 knife
with a built in silenced gun. True, it was a small caliber bullet with a muzzle
velocity of only 460 feet per second and therefore with a low stopping power.
But it was very quiet.

In a concealed hip holster beneath his shirt, he also carried
a Bond Arms Backup 45ACP, a single action derringer weighing only 18 oz and it
was just 4.5 inches long. Burkov was similarly armed.

In the dim starlight, the Russian ex-Colonel could barely
see the outlines of the Iranian soldiers. A hundred yards away from the light
of the planes, he decided that the conditions were right. Feigning a violent
sneeze as a signal to Burkov, Kuzman dropped sharply to the ground and yanked
the Spetsnaz knife free of its scabbard.

Then he went to work.

In seconds, it was over and he stood, knife in hand,
breathing hard, his heart racing from the adrenaline surge.

Burkov was standing a few yards away, his arms across his
chest. “What took you so long, old man?”

“It’s the head cold. It’s affecting my sense of balance,”
Kuzman snapped back, as he reached down to snag a pistol, a variant of the
Swiss SIG Sauer P226, from one of the guards lying motionless on the ground.
“Come on, we’ve got a plane to catch.”

• • • •

At the plane, Kuzman went around the aircraft’s nose to
provide a distraction to the guard at the plane’s door while Burkov scampered
beneath the fuselage, aiming for the guard’s back. But the guard reacted
abnormally fast. In the light of the landing fixtures, the guard recognized
Kuzman’s face and caught sight of the blood stains on the Russian’s shirt. The
Quds Force soldier swung his Heckler & Koch G3 rifle sharply around and
stepped away from the plane, out of Burkov’s reach. With a curse, Kuzman threw
his knife, aiming for the guard’s right shoulder.

The knife rattled off the G3 instead, throwing off the
rifle’s aim. When the weapon fired, the 7.62 mm bullet impacted Kuzman’s right
shoulder instead.

Then Burkov, now far enough under the plane, fired his
captured P226 twice, instantly taking down the Iranian soldier. He scrambled to
his feet and rushed to Kuzman’s side, the ex-Colonel now down on his knees and
gripping his right arm hard with his left.

“Now who’s the slow one,” Kuzman grumbled between his
gritted teeth.

“We can trade insults later, Colonel,” Burkov joked. “Those
shots were heard, I’m sure. Let’s get you on the plane.”

Helping Kuzman to his feet, Burkov shoved his gun into
Kuzman’s left hand and slung an arm around the other man’s waist, supporting
his weight as they hobbled over to the stair ramp. Kuzman grunted in pain with
every step.

At the ramp, Kuzman leaned up against the edge of the
stairs, breathing heavily, wincing with every breath. Burkov backed up the
ramp, leaning outward in order to pull his associate up and through the
doorway. But another shot rang out and Burkov, with a surprised look on his
face, fell off of the steps, landing flat on his face on the desert sand.

BOOK: Orders of Magnitude (The Genie and the Engineer Series Book 2)
3.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

7 Days of Seduction by Jaxon, Jenna
Wolf's Blood by Jane Lindskold
Natasha's Dance by Orlando Figes
Mirabile by Janet Kagan
Beauty & The Biker by Glenna Maynard