Authors: Mack Maloney
MILE, YOU'RE ON CANDID CAMERA
. . . .
Amid the gunfire and growing racket, someone else screamed: “It's coming back!”
An instant later, the huge airplane roared over once again, this time even lower and trailing even more of an ear-splitting noise behind it. Everyone could see it this time. It was big and black. And yes, they all saw the cameras this time too. Not only a huge lens in a bubble located on the belly of the plane, but people in black uniforms were aboard the plane, hanging out open windows, taking pictures with hand cameras!
The Chief started screaming at his men again to shoot at the airplane. But it was already too late. The plane was gone, heading back from where it came, the mountains to the north.
Suddenly everything was quiet again. People were just standing around, dazed, in shock. Nothing like this had ever happened in Khrash before. Even though they were Al Qaeda, they were protected here. Or at least they thought they were.
And as the Chief and Saheeb the Syrian watched in horror, Jabal finally lost it.
“Allah, have mercy on my soul,” the terrorist gasped. “The Crazy Americans . . . They are coming to get me!”
“Maloney's page-turning plots are what everyone would like to see in real life: direct, decisive action against the Al Qaeda killers, without ceremony or pretense. Maloney has his finger on the pulse of the nation. As he sends his Superhawk heroes into the global fight against terrorism, his grasp of modern technical detail combines with the most authentic presentation of terrorist forces, making this the top action series in the market place.”
âWalter Boyne, author of
Operation Iraqi Freedom:
What Went Right, What Went Wrong, and Why
“Mack Maloney has created a team of realistic characters that pulse with patriotic fervor . . . Maloney hasn't just crafted a great war story, he has set a new standard for action-packed thrillers.”
âRobert Doherty, bestselling author of AREA 51 series
St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles
by Mack Maloney
Superhawks: Strike Force Alpha
Superhawks: Strike Force Bravo
Superhawks: Strike Force Charlie
STRIKE FORCE DELTA
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
SUPERHAWKS: STRIKE FORCE DELTA
Copyright Â© 2005 by Mack Maloney.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / December 2005
St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
10Â Â Â 9Â Â Â 8Â Â Â 7Â Â Â 6Â Â Â 5Â Â Â 4Â Â Â 3Â Â Â 2Â Â Â 1
There was enough plutonium in the suitcase to blow up half of West Africa.
The suitcase was locked in the trunk of the old battered Land Rover, wrapped in lead blankets and ducttaped over and over, more than a hundred times. At the moment, it was leaking only a small amount of radiation.
Six men were riding in the Land Rover. They were all carrying AK-47 assault rifles and machetes. They were members of the Angolan Popular Front, hardened veterans of insurgency and jungle warfare fought over the past few decades against a variety of enemies, including the armed forces of South Africa.
There was another Land Rover driving in front of this one. It was painted white with huge red crosses on its hood and doorsâbut this vehicle had nothing to do with the International Red Cross. It, too, was filled with armed men. They were mercenaries, many of them ex-members of the British SAS.
The third vehicle in this strange parade was a doubly
armored Humvee. Eight men were jammed inside this tanklike truck. They were members of Delta Force, America's premier Special Forces team. They were the most heavily armed group of the three.
It was midnight. It was raining hard. The three vehicles were speeding along a muddy winding mountain road very close to the border of Nigeria and Cameroon.
The three disparate groups were not compadresâfar from it. They were three parts of an exchange team. The plutonium, partially enriched and near weapons grade, was being swapped for 16 pounds of uncut diamonds worth $70 million. Russian-made and in the possession of the Angolans via a very circuitous route, the nuclear material would be disposed of at sea once the insurgents were paid. The diamonds were being provided by Central Bank of Paris; the United Nations had purchased them via a secret bank account. The British mercs had arranged the transaction; they were in for 10 percent. The muscle, needed as insurance that the deal actually got done, was being provided by Delta Force.
The plan was simple, this after months of intense negotiations. The plutonium and its caretakers would drive to a point just over the border into Nigeria where officials from the United Nations' Non-Proliferation Group would be waiting. They had the diamonds, plus bags full of cash. The Brits would be paid their $7 million, then sent on their way. The plutonium would be surrendered to the UN group and the diamonds would be handed over. Then the Angolans, too, would be allowed to disappear.
From there the material would be taken aboard a French Army helicopter for its trip two hundred miles out to sea to be dropped to its watery grave. The UN
group would then combine with the Delta escort and together they would drive to the port city of Oran, where a U.S. Navy cruiser was waiting offshore to take them aboard.
The three vehicles were right on schedule, crossing into Nigeria just a few minutes after midnight. The meeting point was at a border station next to the Okewa Bridge, a place conveniently abandoned by Nigerian troops for the evening. The tiny convoy pulled up to find the UN group already there. Four men wearing blue windbreakers with the letters
emblazoned on the back were waiting on the porch of a tiny cement block building. They had a strongbox containing the diamonds; they also had the $7 million in cash for the mercs. A French Army Alouette copter was parked nearby, its rotors spinning, its crew looking out on the proceedings anxiously.
The rain had stopped by now and the full moon was coating everything in a pale silver light. Some passwords were successfully exchanged, shouted over the rumbling of the copter's engines, this as the plainclothes Delta soldiers set up a defense line in front of the border station. The mercs got their payoff first. Ripping the fake Red Cross symbols from their truck, they promptly left, driving back across the bridge and into Cameroon. The Angolans then took the lead suitcase from their trunk and, ever on guard, walked it over to the UN group.
One of the UN representatives was a nuclear physicist. He tore open the duct tape, cut away one layer of the lead blankets, and then took a long, noisy sniff of the suitcase. Like a connoisseur testing his favorite Bordeaux, he gave a dramatic thumbs-up. The Angolan
fighters relaxed. The diamonds' strongbox was turned over to them; they jumped back in their Land Rover and were quickly across the border, too. The UN scientists then put the suitcase aboard the helicopter, and with little ceremony, the aircraft prepared to take off.
That's when the Al Qaeda fighters showed up.
They came out of the jungle directly behind the helicopter, dressed in black and carrying German assault rifles. Using the copter as cover, they'd been lying in wait, hidden under mats made of flora, sticks, and branches. The first thing they did was brutally gun down the four members of the UN team, shooting each man many times in the head. Then they shot out the engines of the two remaining vehicles, rendering them inoperable. All this happened in a matter of seconds.
A firefight instantly broke out between the Delta soldiers and the Muslim fighters. Their backs to the Okewa River, the Americans pushed their disabled Humvee over on its side and took up firing positions behind it. Though they were heavily armed, it was clear from the start the Delta crew was vastly outnumbered, as more than three dozen Muslim fighters had emerged from the jungle.
Nevertheless, the Americans began spraying the terrorists with M-60 machine-gun fire, grenade launchers, and M16s. Two of the Delta guys were armed with enormous Mossberg shotguns; each time their triggers were pulled the night would light up as bright as day. But by this illumination the Americans could see even
Muslim fighters materializing from the forest. The Americans were mowing them down in the most methodical fashion, but like a horror movie, every time a
terrorist went down, two more would take his place. Soon their bodies were piling up in front of the overturned Humvee like cordwood.
The terrorists' strategy was clear. These guys weren't really assault soldiers, nor were they Al Qaeda's version of a special ops team. They were just suicidal mooks with guns, fodder, to be cut down for one reason only: to cause the Americans to run out of ammunition by shooting at them.
It was a steep cliff down to the river; there was no way the Americans could go that way safely. They were cut off from the bridge and were too far from the thick jungle to make a strategic retreat into the overgrowth.
In other words, they were trapped.
The eight men took down more than 50 of the raidersâbut finally ran out of ammunition. A vicious close-quarters fight ensued with knives and bayonets, but again the sheer numbers overwhelmed the Americans and soon they had no choice but to give up. Curiously, the terrorists did not kill themâin fact, they took great pains
to kill the Americans.
were the prize, not the plutonium. All eight were quickly taken prisoner.
While all this was going on, the crew of the French Army copter simply watched, offering no help even though their aircraft was heavily armed.
The Americans had their hands tied with electrical wire and were led off into jungle.
Only then did the French military helicopter take off and slowly fly away.
It was called the Extraterrestrial Highway.
It ran for miles into the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas, up toward the mysterious towns of Tonopah and Rachaelâmysterious because they were relatively close to Groom Lake, the top-secret U.S. military base also known as Area 51.
There was a stretch of this lonely roadway known as the Straight Snake. It ran for nearly 40 miles with barely a curve. At night, cars could be seen pulled over to the side of this road, their occupants looking up into the sky, hoping to spot a UFO or a top-secret U.S. military airplane. Sometimes they saw both.