Authors: Don Pendleton
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Fiction, #det_action, #Military, #Vietnam War, #Vietnam War; 1961-1975, #History, #Men's Adventure, #Bolan; Mack (Fictitious character)
Frank Edwards, a busted CIA agent, was trafficking with terrorists in Europe. His illegal-weapons supplier was a Defense Department contractor in Massachusetts. His European connection was a high-ranking British Intelligence Officer.
Macks task: eliminate all of these bastards. He blows the hell out of an armament factory in New England, flattens a munitions warehouse at Londons Heathrow airport. Then on to Frank Edwards base to bring hell on earth.
The man from blood moves with the speed of a shock wave. To the Executioner, there is no worse scum than a turncoat agent.
Mack Bolan stood immobile in the darkness of the New England night. He was listening to the voices of the past. Before him the slow-moving waters of the Concord River lapped at its banks.
Behind him stood a man. The man wore a rolled-brim hat, a leather jacket with tucked-up sleeves, trousers of homespun. A thong around his left shoulder held a powder horn, its tip sealed with a cork. In his right hand was a long-barreled flintlock musket, primed and loaded and tamped.
This was a man who would live free or die. Mack Bolan turned to regard the bronze figure and murmured, "Live large, Brother." For yeah, this man and the others he represented were indeed brothers of the man known as the Executioner, brothers in soul and spirit, the kinship sanctified in blood and gunpowder, the bond spanning two centuries and a great nation's history. The date was September 26, 1774, when the citizens of the Massachusetts hamlet of Concord resolved at their town meeting "that there be one or more Companys Raised in this Town by Enlistment, and that Said Company Stands at a Minute's Warning in Case of an Alarm." Could those people have known that these Minutemen, as they came to be known, would be the vanguard in the war for American independence?
The warm night breeze whispered the words of Minuteman Captain John Parker to Mack Bolan's soul: "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!" It was a hard and brave philosophy. Its application had not changed in the intervening two hundred years. Mack Bolan did not seek war, but like for certain being fired upon, along with every other man and woman who cherished the freedoms that those soldiers of the long ago had fought to establish. The enemy then was the British Redcoats, whose ideologies were nationalism and empire. Today the enemy was the international terror-mongers, incomparably worse, whose ideologies, indefensible and altogether from another age, from now, were enslavement, torture, death. In front of Bolan, the narrow deck of the old North Bridge reached across the river. Here it had begun.
Here, on April 19, 1775, four hundred Minutemen had faced and repulsed the hated Lobsterbacks. Dispirited, discouraged, hurting, the British retreated toward the safety of Boston.
By the time they reached Meriam's Corner, a mile east of Concord, they believed they had made it.
They sighed their relief, and thinking themselves secure once more, marched on.
Instead they walked into a hellground.
Without warning the woods exploded. The flash of primer, heavy reports of musketfire, made dense clouds of black powder smoke that drifted on the still midday air.
Heavy .75-caliber lead balls tore through Redcoat flesh. White with fear, hovering on the brink of wild-eyed panic, the British tried to return fire but there was nothing to shoot at. The Minutemen had melted back into the forest like specters.
Mack Bolan smiled grimly in the darkness.
He heard the boom of gunfire, saw the soldiers marching on through the countryside, their red wool uniforms drenched with sweat despite the spring coolness, terror marching at each man's right hand.
A tree, a house, a stone wall anything big enough to hide a man and a musket could spell death.
Yeah, the Redcoats had learned the same lesson that Mack Bolan was teaching the human predators of the twentieth century: how the icy touch of dread really felt when the oppressor turned into the oppressed. The feel of that bony finger along the spine.
And so began the American Revolution. In its parts it was a war like any other war in warrior mankind's history, filled with pain and death, heartache and futility. Yet from it arose a greater nation than had ever before existed.
Those "embattled farmers" of the past, those citizen-soldiers, had not asked for war. But when it became the only way to stand up for tneir rights as free men, they did what must be done.
Mack Bolan could do no less than fight to preserve that same nation, that idea, that kind of war.
He stood upon the hallowed ground and listened to the night-voices speak of goodness and truth and independence, and he felt a kinship with the past.
A night-voice whispered: "Good hunting, Brother." Bolan turned and looked up to the Minuteman on his pedestal. Then he turned again and slipped into the shadows, drawing the night around him like a protective cloak.
Also "Clear," Bolan said in a low voice.
Herman "Gadgets" Schwarz went past him in the darkened hallway and crouched in front of the solitary inner door.
Bolan followed, his sneakered feet sinking soundlessly into deep-pile carpet. This was the upper floor of the two-story headquarters and laboratories of a company named DonCo.
Half-hidden in the piney woods off of Route 128, which ringed Boston, neither the building nor its name was particularly well known to the general public; if they thought of it at all, it was as just another electronics outfit along technology row. But, in fact, DonCo was one of the most successful and well-regarded hi-tech think tanks in the country.
Bolan pulled a high-intensity narrow-beam penlight from a belt pouch and clicked it on, focusing the arrow-thin ray of illumination on the lock set flush into the door. Gadgets leaned closer, ran sensitive probing fingers over its surface.
"Yale type." he muttered. "Double acentric cylinders, shielded turn blers." He looked up at Bolan. "One of your socalled unpickables."
"Can you take it?" Bolan asked.
Gadgets grinned in the dim light but did not answer. He was already unzipping a flat leather case the size of a pocket calculator, removing a delicate looking wire-thin instrument.
Mack Bolan had no doubt that Gadgets could "take" the lock; the cool, painstaking Able Team member had not come by his nickname lightly.
He had already performed technological magic several times this night and the hard part was still to come.
This was a softprobe only, a nighttime penetration for purposes of surveillance and intelligence.
Although both men wore concealing blacksuits and dark cosmetic goop on hands and face, neither carried lethal weaponry. The only people they might conceivably encounter within the bowels of the think tank tonight, Saturday, would be security guards, innocent folk completely unaware of DonCo's dark underbelly-noncombatants, whom Bolan had no intention of drawing into his war.
The immediate mission required that their presence go totally undetected by all means, both while in progress and after execution. If their tampering were later discovered, all would be for nothing. From the earliest days of his war against the Mafia, Mack Bolan was aware of the parallel existences of law and expediency. His respect for law was second to no man's. Yet he knew full well that expediency must rule when the ponderous workings of law conspire, however innocently, to protect a traitor's yellow hide.
Bolan heard the soft snick of tumblers falling into line. "Got it, Sarge," Gadgets murmured. "I think."
The Executioner flicked off the penlight as Gadgets replaced his lockpick and straightened.
"Wired for backup?" Bolan suggested.
"No," Gadgets said firmly. "That I'm sure of."
Still, Bolan tensed as he palmed the brass door knob. A remote alarm sounding off somewhere would be disastrous for absolute sure. Yet there was no other man Bolan would have chosen for this mission than Gadgets. Stony Man One could afford to place his fate and the fate of the entire Stony Program in the wizard's sensitive hands. Gadgets Schwarz had first proved his skill when he bugged a VC command bunker to gain intelligence from a Bolan-Zitka sniper-team operation. Ever since, this rare individual, crafty and nerveless, had been an eager recruit to the blitzing warrior's Death Squad, later to the fight against international terrorism as technical consultant to John Phoenix's Stony Man Farm, and as full-time member of the group's tactical squad, Able Team, secret heroes of three recent missions of unusually blazing intensity.
The legitimate business of DonCo was technology; it followed that its security system was of the latest state-of-the-art design. Although only a handful of people were authorized to know it, DonCo had recently been at the forefront of ongoing sensitive applications studies of the U.S.
Navy's newest sea-toground missile guidance systems. Every step had been taken to guard against just the sort of covert infiltration that Bolan and Gadgets were now carrying through.
The security facility at DonCo was proprietary, as Gadgets had explained to his boss during the preprobe briefing, and it employed a systems approach. This meant simply that security was on-site, tied in to a basement guardroom, and that the entire plant had been designed with counter-subversion in mind. The glass-and-steel-frame design embodied fixed windows, wired with alarms that signaled breakage, accidental or otherwise; ventilation came from a failsafed rooftop air exchanger. Every legitimate access was limited to the front door; fire doors on the other three sides opened only from the inside, and sounded an alarm even then. That much they knew before the probe began. Since, they had also encountered the close-circuit television system monitoring the grounds, the deceptively simple lock on the front door that served as decoy to a break-to-activate electric alarm, and the ultrasonic-wave-propagating equipment that crisscrossed the company's lobby with invisible soundwave tripwires.
The blacksuits and some nimble footwork defeated the TV'S, while Gadgets's sharp eye and some coaxial cable and alligator-clip probes took out the electric alarm. A sweep with a superheterodyne receiverstdetector revealed the frequency of the UWP transmitter, and a transistorized feedback device neutralized it without causing a "systems failure" readout in the guardroom.
Mack Bolan was willing to risk both of their lives, and his New War, on the correctness of this analysis by his comrade.
The cold metal of the doorknob turned easily in his hand. He pushed open the door and stepped into the deeper darkness of the office.
Gadgets was hot on his tail, shutting the door, running his hands swiftly along the jamb, his sensitive fingers searching for yet another device that could knock them out. Bolan heard him breathe out relief. "Clean as a Stony Phone," he grinned.
They were in an outer office, a reception room.
It was completely dark. Bolan waited until Gadgets had relocked the outer door, then flicked on his penlight for a quick-check recon. In the sharp beam and its attendant half light, they scrutinized the decor. The receptionists secretary's desk was a thick slab of butcher-block hardwood set on stainless-steel legs, with a white leather swivel chair. On the desk were a white-leather-edged calendars blotter set and a matching appointment book, a white pen in a white holder, a white telephone with three rows of pushbuttons and nothing else. Set to one side on a lower table with two drawers was a computer terminal with a video display tube. There was a file cabinet against one white wall, a white sofa with two matching chairs, and a couple of coffee tables on which magazines were arranged in neat overlapping rows. The only real color came gloomily from a couple of abstract framed paintings that looked like microcomputer schematic. Gadgets was already checking out the door set into the wall behind the desk. The intelligence reports that had gotten them this far had the room beyond as the private office of Frederick Donald Charon ( president of DonCo, theoretical scientist with a PhD in cybernetics, mathematics, and computer applications, and holder of an NSC Priority-One clearance.
Charon was an extraordinary man, for sure, with, perhaps, merely a single flaw.
The guy was guilty of treason.
Back up a bit. As was common knowledge, over half the staff of the Soviet embassy in Washington were intelligence agents under direct control of the KGB. One of these agents, a medium-ranker named Tuholske who worked in the legal counsel's office, had secretly defected years earlier.
Though hardly privy to everything that went through the embassy, he was occasionally able to answer on some interesting tidbits for the U.S. Not twelve hours earlier, Tuholske had reported to his control that he had encoded a message to the Kremlin reporting one Frederick Donald Charon offering to sell some unspecified but highly classified defense information for a great deal of-money. Was Moscow interested? Probably. Washington sure as hell was.
The fact that the intelligence was, in fact, three weeks old was unfortunate but unavoidable.
Tuholske was under strict orders to make contact only on a rigidly randomized monthly schedule, as a precaution against his being discovered. What made things more difficult, more urgent, was that Charon's present whereabouts were unknown, and inquiries through normal channels had been uniformly stonewalled by DonCo personnel.
This softprobe, therefore, had two purposes.
One was to secure hard evidence of Charon's evident treason. The other was to discover his whereabouts, hopefully in time for a regular field agent to interdict the scientist before he could carry through on his offer to the Russians. And the key to both goals was behind that locked door.
A quick little shimmer tingled the Bolan spine. He stood relaxed in the dark zone, but alert, legs apart in his skintight combat blacks and soft black shoes. He watched in the darkness now, taking position in the very background of the gloom as the wizard played his own penlight over a panel set into the wall next to the entrance to Charon's office.
The panel held a keyboard, and above it an LED display.
"Automatic access-control system," Gadgets said. He punched a digit at random.
It appeared in the display. Gadgets hesitated, punched another, then a third, fourth, and fifth.
Next to the five figures the display began to flash "ERROR," like an accusation. Gadgets hit the "clear" button and the display returned to darkness.
"Exactly one hundred thousand possible code combos, pal, Colonel Phoenix, sir!" Gadgets smiled. Then his brows knit in concentration as he made rapid mental calculation. "It would only take us maybe 28 hours to go through them, hitting one a second." He shook his head to himself. "There's another way, though, Sarge. Risky, but..."