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May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

chitoryu12 posted:

Hawk Hunter's F-16 in Wingman is faster and more agile than even the lightest and snappiest real F-16 after he modifies it to carry 6 Vulcan guns and something like 2 dozen Sidewinders. Mack just handwaves it as upgrades to the engines and airframe and leaves it at that, which brings up the question of why he hasn't done his super modifications to every plane his allies get.

And also the magnificent full hull electrocution suite.

But yeah, he upgrades only certain planes, like the stupid cargo helo gunship. His flying friends? The Ace Wrecking Company's Phantoms? Naw, those guys can gently caress themselves.


Apr 23, 2014

Art imitates life...

Apr 23, 2014

I hope you guys are prepared for this chapter.

Just after midnight the next day, a mysterious rumbling like an earthquake emanates from Mount Winslow, a 2500 foot peak to the north of the small town of Campo, Kentucky not far from Louisville. Three of the people roused by the commotion are the town's temporary sheriff, plumber Bo Tuttle, and his deputized brother Zoomer and cousin Hep.

The only things of value at the top of the mountain are a Southern Bell cell tower (Mack apparently forgot it's not the 1970s any more, because Southern Bell has been defunct since 1983 with the breakup of AT&T's monopoly and was renamed BellSouth), an amateur weather station operated by the local 4-H club, and an automated radar relay dish for Louisville International Airport. Regardless, the three town "cops" head up to the summit in Bo's Chevy Tahoe to investigate. They figure it's just the swaying cell tower collapsing.


There were four bodies in all.

Two had been shot, at close range, through the head—and not by a peashooter, either. Two others had been chopped to pieces. Arms, legs, pieces of fingers and toes. Cousin Hep was a butcher, but at first sight of this he vomited up everything he’d eaten in the past 24 hours. Bo and Zoomer, too, nearly went into shock. The sight was incomprehensible.

The grisly discovery was even more baffling as the four dead men were already lying in a grave. A shallow pit, 10 feet by 10 feet, had been dug close to the radar station. All four had been dumped into it. But still, this was not the strangest thing. Because also thrown into the pit were four tiny pigs, their throats cut, their blood dripping all over the corpses and mixing with their own.

The three temporary lawmen tried to make some sense of it all, but none was forthcoming. Four dead bodies, already in a grave, with pigs’ guts splashed all over them? It just didn’t seem real. The wind was really howling up here, too, adding greatly to the weirdness around them. For years the townspeople thought the top of the mountain was haunted. Maybe they were right.

Nearby is some camping equipment and blood-stained sleeping bags. A few pieces of paper are found that had blown into some bramble bushes nearby; they're written in Arabic, with crude drawings that seem to be demonstrating how to fly something. Bo climbs down into the gore-filled grave to check the ID of the men, finding green cards that list him as Abdul Moisi, a soccer player and student from Bali despite looking to be in his late 30s.

As Bo is helped out of the pit, he calls Bob's Gas Station down the mountain. The insomniac Bob promises to call up the clinic to send the town doctor to the summit, and to stand outside and flag down the next state trooper who passes by. Before he hangs up, though, Bob has some news for Bo.


As he was probably the only person awake in Campo when the big noise was first heard, Bob told Tuttle he’d run outside his station within seconds and was astonished to see a helicopter coming down the side of the mountain, heading right for him. It was making very little noise, but it went right by the gas station, flying very low. So low, in fact, Bob was able to read the words painted on its fuselage: United States Coast Guard.

“Coast Guard?” Bo bellowed. “We’re about a thousand miles away from the nearest ocean.”

But Bob insisted that’s what he saw. What’s more, he said he had observed several men riding in the back of the copter. They were dressed like soldiers and looking out the side window as the aircraft zoomed by. Two of them waved to him. One gave the two-finger V-for-Victory sign. Then they were gone.

Looking up at the cell tower, they see an American flag flying from it.

Meanwhile, Detective Mike Robinson of the Chicago Police is dealing with his own issue: a report of shots fired at a mosque....oh God we're going in that direction, aren't we?

The mosque was given to the local Muslim community about 2 years ago in a rundown slum on the approach path to O'Hare Airport, full of crack dens and several murders a night. Those dang dirty Muslims never bothered with the beautification project they promised to do in return for the mosque, so it's a rotting wood and brick shell surrounded by burnt out buildings. The police are called to the mosque on a weekly or nearly daily basis searching for stolen goods from a nearby mall. Strangely, an American flag is hanging on the roof; we know enough by now to take this as a sign of terror.

The SWAT team barrels out of their van and breaches; the door is unlocked and simply pushed open. The air smells of gunpowder and garbage piled up to the ceiling. The SWAT team progresses to the second floor.


Both had been shot multiple times—lots of bullet wounds in the arms, shoulders, kneecaps, and groin, with one massive wound in the stomach. The candle had been positioned at the feet of the victims. Whoever did the killing wanted the two victims to suffer first. And they did, greatly. A message was being sent here; that was obvious.

But it got stranger. Both dead men had something very odd stuffed into their mouths. At first, Robinson thought it was entrails, as repulsive as that sounded. Only by bending down and looking closely did he see what it really was: handfuls of raw, bloody bacon.

He looked up at the two cops who just shook their heads, baffled. “What’s up with that poo poo?” one asked in astonishment. The two dead men were mosque members. Despite their gross wounds, Robinson recognized them both from his previous visits here. They were of Middle Eastern descent. Both were named Abu.

Robinson and the two cops moved on. Several other rooms were thick with gun smoke but empty. Instinct told Robinson that more bodies were to be found. There was a ladder leading up through the ceiling to the roof. Ladders were not a preferred means of movement among cops, especially in a situation like this. But again, duty called. Robinson went up first, chunky in his suit coat and tie, waddling in his heavy vest. It made for hard climbing.

Three steps up, Robinson lost his balance. Without ceremony, one of the cops behind gave him a mighty push on the rump, propelling him up through the open trapdoor and onto the roof itself.

He found two more bodies up here. They, too, had been shot. They, too, had had their mouths stuffed with bacon.

This book is disgusting.

Curiously, the roof (a flat tar roof) has tire tracks on it. One of the cops is ex-Army aviation and recognizes them as the marks made by helicopter wheels, and scrape marks on a nearby steel chimney and a torn clothesline corroborate this.


Robinson was more baffled than before. Dead mutts with bacon stuffed in their mouths? Helicopters landing on top of tenement buildings? An American flag, left behind, rippling in the wind? Robinson just shook his head as a jet screamed overhead on its way to landing at O’Hare.

“Whatever happened to drive-by shootings?” he asked.

Also Muslims are "mutts" now. Beautiful. We're getting worse with every passing chapter.

The next horrific murder and religious sacrilege comes from near Danson, Nebraska. Donny Elliott, the head ranger at Great Mesa State Park, gets a call on his walkie-talkie while getting breakfast at the diner. The park is unique because along with having one of the very few mountains in Nebraska, it's home to Lee Field, a small airfield for supply planes formerly set up for Strategic Air Command. The call through his radio is from his supervisor; it's scratchy and dissolves into static, but the guy seems panicked enough for Donny to drive over.

Donny tears up Route 213, heading for the 700 foot tall Great Mesa; most locals call it the Big Rock, as it's just a huge stack of rocks rather than an actual mesa. Lee Field is a quarter mile away in a natural bowl.


Eliot was at the foot of the Big Rock a minute later. He leaped from his truck, ran to the first wall of boulders, and looked up. The highest point of the mesa was a flattened outcrop that stuck up about 150 feet above the northern face. This must have been why the boss had called him. A group of people was up there—four young men, Eliot could see them clearly. They had a telescope with them, or at least they were looking through some kind of tube. Each man had a beard and a great tan.

“Christ,” Eliot breathed. “Hippies, again?” It was the bane of his existence that a local group of pot-smoking, weed-hugging kids had decided the Grand Mesa was actually a holy place. A place of harmonic convergence. A place that UFOs visited. Take your pick. It was high, and usually so were they. Eliot was forever shooing them off the summit.

He was about to try his walkie-talkie again, to raise his boss and report in, when he heard the rumbling of a large jet taking off from Lee Field. It distracted him for a moment, because when the wind was blowing right the big jets took off directly over the faux mesa. This plane was definitely heading in his direction. He turned back to the rocks. Up on the peak, the hippies were raising their telescope, or whatever it was. One had it up on his shoulder now.

And that’s when Eliot realized that these people were not wearing the ripped jeans and dirty T-shirts the hippies usually wore. In fact, two looked like they were wearing suit coats. And the two others were dressed like soccer players. Strange.…

The jet flew over a moment later. It was a FedEx plane, its red, white, and blue color scheme making it hard to miss. It went over the highway and climbed steadily toward the peak. Suddenly Eliot saw something that made no sense: a helicopter, a big white one, had come out of nowhere, and soldiers in black camouflage uniforms were jumping out of it and on top of the four young men on the mesa’s summit. Then, even over the roar of the big cargo jet, Eliot heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

That’s when he saw an explosion of red and yellow flame erupt from the top of the peak. “God drat!” Eliot screamed. What the hell is going on here?

Before he could take another breath, he saw a fiery trail rise up from the peak but then suddenly change direction, as if one of the men jumping from the helicopter had knocked it off-course at the last possible instant. The FedEx jet went over the mesa a moment later. Two seconds after that, something corkscrewed its way through the air and impacted in a wheat field back down near Lee Field’s main runway.

As the fight continues, Donny Eliot begins climbing up the rock pile, screaming at them to stop fighting. By the time he reaches the peak, one of the men has been thrown into the helicopter and it starts flying away; the rest have been beaten to death with sledgehammers and have bacon stuffed in their mouths. Being Middle Eastern men, he figures terrorism is the only explanation that makes sense.


And flapping in the breeze nearby? A small American flag, hastily adhered to a small bush, the only vegetation of any kind at the top of the Big Rock. At that moment, his walkie-talkie crackled to life, scaring the hell out of him. It was his boss again—and this time, he was coming through loud and clear.

“Donny! What the crap is going on up there?” Eliot pushed the respond button but then just collapsed to the seat of his pants.

“Boss,” he said, finally out of breath. “You won’t frigging believe it.…”

Two hours later in St. Helena, Nebraska, the only bar in town is packed with about 30 drunk people representing nearly half the population of the town. The town had prepared itself for a soccer match scheduled against some foreign team, covering the buildings with American flags and balloons, but nobody showed up. By 1:00, the tavern had been packed with townsfolk getting drunk and playing darts, and the town is rained out by a huge storm. Suddenly at 3:00 PM, the town's 95-year-old rain-soaked minister Charlie Ray bursts into the tavern: the foreigners are here....but not how they'd like them.


They met Joey the janitor in the small parking lot. Joey was not a very bright bulb, but he seemed very agitated when the townspeople arrived. They had expected to see the bus that had carried the foreign soccer players here parked in the lot, but no such vehicle was there. Only Joey. And he was almost crying. He just pointed out to the field; the crowd—now about twenty people, most very drunk—couldn’t get much out of him. So they all walked out to the rain-soaked field, this as lightning began flashing off to the west.

But there was nothing there. The field was empty; the trees that lined it on one side—and just about the only trees of any height in the county—were blowing mightily in the wind. There certainly was no soccer team out here, foreign or not. Just as the men were beginning to think this was a prank played on them by the wives, for surely they had all gathered at someone’s house to drink and talk as well, Joey led them to one of the trees about halfway down the field. He pointed up.

The crowd looked—and saw a dead body caught in the branches. Or at least it looked like a body. At this point some of the drunker men believed this was still a joke. The figure in the tree, high up at about twenty feet, was wearing a soccer uniform and was covered in blood. But it looked more like a dummy that some of the schoolkids had stuffed earlier, as a way to taunt the foreigners.

But two men, sober ones, climbed the tree and they confirmed the ghastly truth: this was a body, and it was indeed wearing a soccer uniform. The man appeared to have been beaten to death, at the very least. But most bizarre, there was what looked to be a handful of bacon—yes, bacon—stuffed down the crotch of his shorts. A small American flag was stuffed into his mouth.

Still, many in the crowd below didn’t believe it was real. On their lips was the same question, asked over and over: “How the hell did he get up there?”

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

chitoryu12 posted:

This book is disgusting.

Seldom has the label 'murder porn' seemed more fitting.

Jun 4, 2012

"For the Emperor."

There was a terrible noise.
There was a terrible silence.

Guess we know where Death Eaters come from. Change the flag and its the same thing.

Apr 23, 2014

The Sky Horse is parked on its pontoons at Lost View Lake, an isolated and foggy body of water not far from Minneapolis. In the early morning hours, the Superhawks crewing the chopper are stretching out in vain efforts to sleep. Nobody's caught more than a short nap since they hijacked the Iranian cargo plane.


Yes, this was a nasty business he was engaged in. He knew it. They all knew it, coming in. But it was nasty because it had to be. Brutal and nasty and painful and disgusting was the only language the Muslim fanatics understood, because that’s exactly the way they conducted themselves. This was what the ghost team was all about. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, American style.

Their mission out here in Middle America was long-winded but apt: If the terrorists believed that killing Americans and dying in the act would get them a ticket into heaven, with 77 virgins waiting for them—if they died without disgrace, that is—then it was up to the ghosts to at least make sure that, in addition to stopping them before they fired their Stinger missiles, they indeed must die in disgrace, as a warning to future terrorists that if the ghosts caught you, there would be no virgins waiting for you at the Pearly Gates. There would be no Pearly Gates. That’s why all the pork products. That’s why all the new fodder for his frequently disturbing dreams.

"See it's okay to be virulently anti-Muslim, because we're just doing it to scare the bad guys!"


Ryder yawned. Coffee would be better later in the day, when he really needed it. Master Chief Eddie Finch’s Care packages had been well intentioned. They were indeed stuffed with MRE field rations. (Food was not a problem—and if it ever was, well, they could always eat the frozen pigs, right?) But giving them just one jar of instant coffee was an astronomical miscalculation. With this crew, it was gone the first night.

And no cigarettes at all? That was almost inhuman with this group of smokestacks. Even Bates was smoking now.

If only Colonel Ryder Long knew that his MREs had instant coffee packets!

Ryder slips off for a minute, only to be awoken by a digital rendition of the William Tell Overture. It's Bates' Eyeball Machine, an electronic monstrosity made of laptops, Radio Shack parts, and stolen NSA gear from a mysterious benefactor's care package taking up one side of the copter's interior wall. How does it work? Well, Mack himself seems to only have the barest idea:


As Bates explained it then, the popular TIVO device had the ability to continuously search for TV programs on its owner’s cable system, pulling in shows that its memory chips knew the owner had a preference for. Bates’s machine worked on the same concept, except his preferences were to track down the Al Qaeda missile teams, and instead of scanning a TV cable system, his rig was continuously scanning all of the information-gathering computers belonging to the CIA, the FBI, the NRO, just about every U.S. intelligence agency in the alphabet soup of acronyms, including the NSA itself—and doing so quietly, of course.

Again, the top-secret software did most of the work, worming its way into those agencies’ systems, revealing everything and leaving no tracks behind. And because much of the data flowing into those systems was in real time—satellite photos, wiretaps, intercepted Net communications—the information bouncing back to the 50-year-old chopper, floating in the middle of the foggy lake, was pretty much instantaneous. For many hours of the day, the ghosts were more plugged in than 99 percent of the intelligence officials in Washington.

It also includes a gallery of cell phones taken off the corpses the Superhawks recently created; the Stinger teams are individual cells with no direct communication between one another, and they just call a fellow team's phone as a signal that they're in position. By using their illicit access to the NSA's Keypad satellite and the schedule photographed by Georgie Mann, they're able to use the ringing phones to locate Stinger teams and swoop in before they can fire. The current ringing phone is being traced to an amusement park near Minneapolis Airport.

The location is Great American Adventure Land, which currently has hundreds of people visible on their FLIR waiting for the attached water park to open. The thermal imaging shows two people standing at the top of the Space Ride roller coaster lift hill; two men in soccer uniforms wave at the chopper as it passes, and Gallant catches a glimpse of two bodies in bright amusement park uniforms on the ground below.


He pushed a series of keys on one of the connected laptops. Its screen burst to life with an icon representing the large .50-caliber machine gun mounted in the chopper’s nose. The word READY flashed on the screen. Gallant hit the enter key. The huge nose gun burst to life. Two seconds was all it took. The two terrorists, their launcher, and about fifteen feet of the top of the Space Ride’s hill exploded into a cloud of fire and metallic dust. No sooner had this happened than a Northwest 747 airliner passed over the amusement park no more than 2,000 feet high and still climbing. Ryder yanked back on the throttles as they passed over the remains of the big hill. There was no sign of the terrorists’ bodies. They’d been vaporized.

“We won’t have to waste a couple pigs on them,” Gallant said drily.

Ryder clicked the FLIR back on. The soccer cells always traveled together, four to a cell. This meant two more mooks were still down there somewhere. There was no way the team was going to let them go. “There!” Gallant called out. He was pointing at the expanded FLIR screen that showed two figures running through the park’s concert arena, heading toward the food court. “The other two—I knew I could smell them all the way up here.…”

Fox was already disconnecting one of the side door fifties from its swivel mount. They would have to do an insertion to take care of this. Bates started gathering up ammunition. Puglisi was checking his knives. Ryder and Gallant just looked at each other. One of them would have to go, too.

“My turn,” Ryder said. Gallant had done the Campo Raid and the Nebraska job.

But Gallant just shook his head. “I’ll go,” he said.

Fox is first down the ladder, ready to start hip firing a .50 BMG machine gun. Bates has two big ammo bandoleers, Gallant and Puglisi have their hatchets because they're crazy bastards, and Gallant is carrying his and Bates' guns.

The two remaining terrorists scramble in a panic behind an overturned picnic table at the water park, as the crowd outside the gates cheers and records everything on their cameras. They attempt to shoot with their pistols, but the fusillade from the Superhawks' "M15s" tears up the table and kills one of them. The second runs into the Angry Alien, but as everyone chases after him a police car shows up. Needing a way to distract the cops and keep them from interfering in their extrajudicial torture and executions, Ryder boots the throttle and zooms over the cop car at high speed, creating enough downward force that the concussion to somehow activate both airbags. He does it twice, but the cops keep rolling forward.


He booted throttles and came at the police car head-on again. Making sure he was well out in front, he let loose a barrage from the big fifty. As always, it was blinding, noisy, and violent. The stream of tracer shells smashed into the parking lot 500 feet in front of the police cruiser, tearing up a huge portion of asphalt.

Still the police car kept coming. Ryder came back around yet again and repeated the maneuver, this time laying down a barrage just 250 feet away from the patrol car. The police car kept on coming. Ryder swore again, whipping the copter around tail first. These cops were fearless. Plus they were now halfway across the huge parking lot and getting near a cluster of parked cars.

He bore down on them, not 20 feet off the ground, and put a surgically placed, noisy barrage right over the top of their roof. The concussion of the fussilade (sic) alone took out the flashing-light assembly on top of the cruiser, exploding it in hundreds of multicolored pieces.

That was all it took. The cops finally slammed on their brakes, put their car in reverse, and retreated.

Back on the ground, the Superhawk team is looking for the Sikorsky. They've got the terrorist cornered in the Angry Alien ride, but despite taking out whole squads by themselves they somehow don't want to try breaching the building. Instead, they have Fox fire the .50 at it. Whereas Mack Maloney often mistakes 20mm autocannons for machine guns that can deal flesh wounds when necessary to the protagonists, he treats an M2 like a GAU-8.


Bates immediately fed a belt of ammunition into the .50-caliber. Fox cocked the gun and then let loose a fierce barrage at the front of the fun house. He never let off the trigger. The stream of tracer bullets was frightening as the huge rounds perforated the saucer-shaped building. Pieces of wood and metal went flying, some sparkling with sudden heat. Fox just kept spraying back and forth, taking the building apart seemingly one board, one piece, at a time. It took almost a half-minute, so long the barrel of the huge gun was nearly red-hot.

But the building finally collapsed on itself; then it caught on fire. “Who the gently caress is going to pay for that!” Gallant yelled wildly.

The terrorist staggered out, burned and bloody. Puglisi ran forward, hatchet in hand. Bates had a small video camera he’d found in his care package. He recorded the mayhem that followed. The screams were horrible. Gallant and Fox had to look away. When it was over, though, they saw Puglisi stuffing hot dogs into the dead terrorist’s mouth.

“God drat,” Gallant said. “That’s freaking nasty.”

Ryder lands shortly after Puglisi is done hacking off the guy's hands with his hatchet, and everyone scrambles aboard after gathering up the weapons and cell phones. But Bates is nowhere to be seen. Where's the brainiac now?

The answer is "kicking the crap out of a cigarette machine and robbing it." I'm not even kidding. Also Mack thinks cigarette vending machines were still a thing in 2004.


Ryder let out a whoop. “Atta boy!” he yelled. “Now you’re using your head!”

May 5, 2009

This whole thing is disgusting. But the sentence


"No sooner had this happened than a Northwest 747 airliner passed over the amusement park no more than 2,000 feet high and still climbing."

is simply horrible writing that shouldn't have made it through the second pass of editing.

Apr 23, 2014

PJOmega posted:

This whole thing is disgusting. But the sentence

is simply horrible writing that shouldn't have made it through the second pass of editing.

He had an editor?

Apr 23, 2014

While all this is going on, Ozzi and Hunn are driving a rental van (on Li's credit card) into the Holland Tunnel into New York City. They also used her card to get new clothes from Kmart and over 20 burner phones so they could make a single call on each one before destroying it when communicating. Right at that moment, one of the phones in the bag rings and they dig it out. Bates communicates in "spy talk" about their car having 4 oil changes (meaning they killed 4 missile teams) and Hunn "going to get help to look for a cup of spilled coffee", which seems to negate the point of spy talk being nonchalant and mistaken for normal communication. When they're done, Hunn smashes the phone and throws it out the window because he's a litterbug in addition to being a psychopathic rage monster.


“Tell you the truth, Lieutenant,” Hunn replied soberly, “I don’t like it when things go so easy. Nothing stays smooth forever. It’s almost like bad luck to have too much good luck, all at once.”

“I hear you,” Ozzi said. “The mooks will have to figure out at some point that we’re on to them. We know they don’t talk to each other at all, beyond ringing their phones when they’re about to do something. But I’m sure they monitor all the important newspapers and watch the TV news. I mean, they expected four planes to be shot down by now. They must know something is wrong.”

“Those assholes can really adapt, though,” Hunn grumbled. “They’re like a virus. They’ll speed up their timetable, or they’ll start skipping around. Or they’ll have their ringmaster dream up something new. If they have a ringmaster, that is—and I’m sure they do. But they’ll do something. That’s why it would be so much easier just to hit the first bus.”

“If only the copter guys could find it,” Ozzi said.

Hunn wildly switched lanes again, not once, but twice, viciously cutting off several different cars.

They pull into Manhattan in the early evening traffic; Mack actually gets it right for once and points out that Hunn's crazy aggressive driving actually blends in there. By nightfall, they've arrived in at the Greater Queens Social Club in a residential area of the outer borough to meet their contact. Hunn walks up to the man, Sean O'Flaherty (distinguished by black eyes, a red nose, and singed eyebrows), like an old friend.


The huge man studied Ozzi up and down. Ozzi felt like he was looking up a side of a mountain. This guy might have been the whitest person he’d ever met. Ozzi finally shook his hand.

Mack has never self-owned quite like this before.

They had around to the back and Sean uses a secret knock to get inside. The Greater Queens Social Club is home to an old fallout shelter, and inside are about two dozen more white guys (seriously, Mack points out that they're all just as white as Sean), many in yellow utility pants and with a variety of strange facial hair like Fu Manchu mustaches. All of them are members of the Fire Department of New York City.


Ozzi would come to think of what transpired in the next two hours as historical, like signing the Declaration of Independence or drafting the Bill of Rights. It should be said, though, he would drain six more Buds in that time and that may have altered his perceptions a bit. But not by much. What happened in the tiny cement block room in the middle of Queens went beyond civil disobedience, beyond simple defiance of authority. It bordered on sedition. Not quite insurrection—though you never knew how these things would turn out. But it was, no argument, an example of pure, unadulterated American anger and true-blue patriotism.

In case you thought Mack could lionize 9/11 any more than he already has, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Hunn tells the firefighters all about the Stinger plot, including that they have proof that there's people high up in the US government helping the terrorists. Hunn comes from a long line of Queens firefighters, so he implicitly trusts these random civilians with the blackest of top secret info in the world.


He told them there was a good chance that TWA Flight 800, which had crashed off Long Island years before, as well as the more recent Flight 587 crash in Queens, not far away from this very neighborhood, were both brought down by Al Qaeda and that the government was covering it up.

For those who aren't familiar, these two crashes are very real. TWA Flight 800 from 1996 was initially mistaken for a bombing or anti-air missile hit, but investigation found that most likely a short circuit detonated vapor in a fuel tank; conspiracy theories still exist claiming things like a US Navy vessel accidentally launched a missile and the government covered it up. American Airlines Flight 587 happened a month after 9/11 so there was fear of another terrorist attack, but it was eventually determined to have been overuse of the rudder to regain control by the pilot. There's something at least a little offensive about Mack co-opting another 495 innocent deaths for his anti-Muslim propaganda.


The firefighters began to ask questions, and it didn’t take long for their mood to turn angry. To a man the jakes agreed the government had not gone after Al Qaeda as hard as it should have. Everyone in the room knew someone who’d been killed on September 11th, friends, relatives, and neighbors. While the U.S. armed forces were fighting in Iraq, it seemed like the real enemy—the terrorists—had been allowed to run wild, expand their numbers, expand their terror.

The jakes were also very pissed off at how the government had handled the whole investigation of 9/11. How were dozens of bin Laden’s family members living in America allowed to fly home to Saudi Arabia in the dark days after the attack when every plane in the United States was supposed to be grounded? Why wouldn’t the United States give the families of the 9/11 victims everything they wanted and more? The government was more interested in covering its own rear end; that was the consensus.

The further this book goes, the more Mack's personal opinions on 9/11 start to creep into the open.

They show the firefighters the image of the napkin drawing from the Drive, Shop n' Go store, hoping to have the men act as eyes on the ground to figure out which terrorist must have some connection to one of the 155 DSG stores in New Jersey. It's also here that we find out that Hunn and Ozzi are hunting Captain Ramosa, the crooked Filipino cop with gold teeth from the last book. They suspect that he went over with the Stingers and is probably the local leader, especially now that Palm Tree is decapitated.

30 minutes later, the meeting breaks up. One of the firefighters suggests to Ozzi that the flying things on the napkin look like a formation of ducks, and mentions that there's an exclusive club on a houseboat in Louisiana where lots of politicians and important businessmen go duck hunting. Meanwhile, Hunn encounters his cousin (a priest) among the firefighters. They have a quick reunion, but Hunn tells him not to reveal to his parents that he came.


They walked to the rear of the building, to the back door again. Just as they arrived there, the door opened and two more jakes walked in. They looked like they’d just stepped off their fire engine. They were in complete firefighting gear—hats, utility coats, boots. They were carrying a copy of the New York Post. They seemed to know who Hunn and Ozzi were. “Have you guys seen the headlines?” one asked them.

Hunn and Ozzi just shook their heads no. The firefighter held up the paper, and there it was, in bold type: “Secret Army Battling Terrorists in U.S.? Sources link mystery team to Hormuz, Singapore Tower.

Hunn and Ozzi just froze.

“I hope this isn’t a joke.” Ozzi said.

The firemen laughed. “Joke, hell!” one said. “You guys just became famous.”

As they cross the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge driving back to DC, Ozzi reads the article. It's a story about undocumented aliens of Middle Eastern descent found dead, with vague "evidence" pointing to terrorist attacks. Details are sketchy as only the amusement park murder was witnessed by hundreds of people and the cops, but rumors are already attributing it to the same unit as the Strait of Hormuz and Tonka Tower incidents.


They drove for a dozen blocks or so, but then suddenly Hunn screeched to a stop in front of an especially busy stretch of businesses: a grocery store, a hardware store, an OTB shop, and a liquor store. Hunn wordlessly bounded out of the van and ran into the liquor store. Ozzi could see him buying something with the last of his spare change. He ran back out and jumped into the van. He had a bottle of wine with him.

Ozzi pulled it out of the paper bag and read the label. “Thunderbird?” he asked incredulously. “Isn’t this what the winos drink?”

“That’s right,” Hunn answered. “I used to love this stuff when I was a kid.”

Hunn put the van in gear and quickly turned back into the traffic. They were under way again. “Was that OK, sir?” he asked Ozzi. “Me picking this up, I mean?”

But Ozzi was already sitting way back in his seat; he wasn’t really listening or even thinking about the news story anymore. Instead he was looking at the approaching skyline of Manhattan. With a laugh, he just said, “Ducks?

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


I'd like to see the author being chased by a mob of people defending hobo wine's good name.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Yes, the U.S. should have done more than invade two countries in three years! They should have let 9/11 families push the red button to nuke Afghanistan and lynched Muslims in the streets!

Apr 23, 2014

In case anyone feels like being Zangrelli from the first book and clearing a room with a handheld M2 machine gun:

Apr 23, 2014

Finch (the old man back at Cape Lonely) gives the Superhawks a coded message over satellite phone to let them know where they can refuel. He directs them to a tiny, forested island 100 feet off the shore of Minnebago Lake south of Green Bay. They land the chopper on the water and float it over to a dockside fueling station that looks to be an abandoned 1950s station for boats. The crew hops out and checks it out with their M15s, but it's completely empty. Amazingly, the old pumps are full of fresh aviation fuel. Sitting in a wooden box on the ancient service desk are more MREs, eight gallons of spring water, and some essentials like toothpaste and deodorant. It looks like someone was here recently to set things up for the team.


The two men just stood there, astonished by the handiwork. The floor was so thick with dirt, they were making dozens of footprints, yet none were here when they’d arrived. The service counter was dirty and greasy, too, as if no one had touched it in a very long time. Yet it had been made just to look this way, for obviously whoever put all this stuff here had to have moved some of the dust and grime around.

“I don’t think a special effects crew for a big-budget movie could have done a camo job this good,” Fox said. “Unless …”

“Unless what?” Ryder asked him.

“Unless our friends have some kind of a top-secret teleport device and they just beamed these things in here,” Fox replied with a half-smile.

Ryder just shook his head. “Don’t even joke about that,” he said.

They continued exploring the kitchen area. They found more MREs and things like flashlight batteries, extra modem cords, more “safe” cell phones, and a small combination TV and AM/FM radio set. “This will come in handy,” Fox said wryly.

They had heard from both Finch and Ozzi, in very hasty phone calls, about how the copter team had made the headlines. It came as no surprise, especially after the theme park episode. But Ryder brushed past all these things to explore the last box on the counter. It was his nose that led him to it. Inside he discovered a family-size jar of instant Chase & Sandborn coffee. It was like finding a pot of gold. Now that he had coffee and cigarettes, what else did he need?

But then it suddenly went through Ryder’s mind that this really was like the Roaring Twenties—or maybe more like the Depression years. Leaving this larder for them out here, so cleverly hidden, was not unlike the help provided by some people to the gangsters of the thirties, the Dillingers and Pretty Boy Floyds, bank robbers who became folk heroes and were aided and abetted in their efforts to evade the police by ordinary citizens. Strange times back then, indeed.

But this wasn’t a romantic notion now for Ryder. It was a scary one. Is this what the country has come to … again? he wondered. That ordinary people were so disillusioned with the nonsense in Washington that they were willing to help outlaws? Federal outlaws? That’s exactly what was happening—that and the person who did this for them, they could only assume, somehow knew the ghost team’s guardian angel, Bobby Murphy.

Fox was thinking the same thing. “He sure has a lot of friends,” he said. “For someone hardly anyone knows.”

Gallant (who's overseeing the refueling) calls them back to the chopper. One of the phones on the Eyeball Machine is ringing; the GPS hooked up to it shows the call coming from the middle of Lake Michigan. This is highly unusual to them, as every prior team was found on a high spot. They seem to have forgotten that a lake is a massive and flat open area with nobody around and that boats exist.


Matt Ring was an unusual type of fisherman. He was trained to catch gilltails and cold perch, his gear configured to haul up these fish that tended to stay down near the bottom of Lake Michigan. This meant his 35-foot boat carried extra-large nets, long poles, and a deep holding pool full of ice water for his catch. But truth was, Matt Ring hadn’t caught a fish in years.

This had to do with underground economics and the fact that Lake Michigan was an unusual body of water. A few hundred miles up from Milwaukee, through the Mackinac Straits, the lake just touched the edge of Canada, only for 50 miles or so, around the Manitoulin Island region. This toe step into another country was significant, though. Things were so much cheaper up there. Liquor. Cuban cigars. Cigarettes. But mostly prescription drugs—the newest “hot” commodity of the twenty-first century. Ring could pack his boat with more than 50,000 dollars’ worth of eproximin, dicodin, and lobrutrin and still haul another 10,000 dollars’ worth of cigars and booze and still not give a hint to an unsuspecting observer that he was catching anything more than fish.

Again halfway down the western shore of Lake Michigan was Milwaukee. Not far inland was Mitchell Field, the beer city’s airport. This proximity worked greatly to Ring’s advantage, too. Many of the people who would eventually buy his contraband lived nowhere near Milwaukee. He had a deal with the manager of an overnight air delivery service based at Mitchell Field though. Ring would get his stash from his Canadian associates, make the journey 350 miles down to Milwaukee, and unload said stash into air shipping boxes waiting for him at the nearby marina. The boxes would then be flown out—without inspection—to places all over the United States, to people Ring did not know, who would split up the pharmaceutical booty from there.

For every trip he made Ring earned himself $20,000, paid to him by the owner of the airfreight service. Ring made one trip every two weeks. He lived the good life of a smuggler. At 55 he’d once smuggled pot. But the way the drug companies were gouging Americans these days, moving pharmaceuticals was a lot more profitable. Still, it was a risky business. There was always a chance the law might stumble upon you.

That’s why Ring was so concerned this particular morning to wake up and find a Coast Guard helicopter coming right across the water at him.

The Sky Horse keeps on going over Ring's boat, heading for a beat-up yacht moored about 200 feet to his port side just off the Milwaukee shore. In the early morning sunrise, the helicopter hovers over the deck and the Superhawks on board rappel down. They engage in a wild gunfight on the yacht, ricochets pinging off Ring's boat. The helicopter opens up with its .50 cals, shredding the boat and one of the men aboard. This is all happening in full view of the expressway, and cars are stopping and people are running down the marina to watch. They convince the last man alive to surrender and turn over the Stingers and cell phones....and then shoot him 6 times in the throat. Less than 2 minutes after it began, the helicopter is gone and the yacht is aflame.


Ryder and Gallant pushed the big copter up and to the left. Their escape plan was all set. They would pass over South Milwaukee and then back around to the north, to the Rock River beyond. They’d already scoped out its banks for some good hiding places, of which it had many, as it turned out. The most ideal was a grove of willow trees overhanging an isolated portion of its banks. With the pontoons inflated, the crew could maneuver the Sky Horse under the covering flora, where they would wait until dark or until they heard someone coming and had to leave in a hurry.

And everything was going well toward that aim. They went up and over the expressways and over the working-class neighborhoods of South Milwaukee. The more wooded areas lay just over the horizon. Milwaukee air traffic controllers were frantically trying to contact them, but they ignored these calls. This looked like it was going to be another clean escape. Until …

“Shiiiiiit …” Gallant said slowly. Ryder didn’t like the sound of that. “What’s up?” he asked Gallant, quickly glancing at the control panel. Everything was green. Their power plant was OK.

But Gallant wasn’t looking at the control panel. He was looking at the bank of TV monitors for the handful of video cameras placed around the Sky Horse. There was nothing directly in front of the helicopter. Nor was there anything off to their sides or above them, looking down. But the monitor showing the view behind them was not so empty. In fact, it was turning a very bright blue.

“drat,” Ryder whispered. A TV news copter was coming right up behind them.

It was a Bell Textron, a very fast, very modern, very nimble, if smallish, helicopter. It was really bright blue with the logo TV3 Sky Eye painted on it so large, it could be seen from a mile away. Even before the pilots noticed the other copter on the TV monitor, the swift little aircraft was moving up on their left side.

As the ambiguous Bell helicopter zooms up behind them, they quickly remove the heavy machine guns from view right on time as a cameraman hangs out the side with a video camera to capture everything. The three guys in the back put on their ski masks and hold out the Gadsden flag they got from Cape Lonely, giving V for victory signs to the news. Puglisi lets them get a good shot of their 9/11 themed unit patch before Gallant puts the engines into overdrive and sends the chopper zooming away.

And then two A-10s come in behind them. It looks like they're coming in for an attack run at first, but they swoop in on the right side of the helicopter. Both pilots salute and then turn away. An eagle cries somewhere in the background.

The next chapter cuts to Washington DC, as we close in on the halfway point of the book.


The traffic in D.C. was a nightmare. It was late morning, a Thursday, and every intersection within four blocks of the White House was gridlocked. This was bad news for the person driving the heavily armored limousine code-named for this occasion Lollipop.

He had to get to the White House or, more accurately, the Executive Office Building, which was right across the street from the presidential residence. But why all the traffic? Or better asked: why more than the usual traffic snarl?

It was the drat military vehicles. Hummers and troop trucks. They seemed to be everywhere lately. Washington was already overflowing with Lincolns, Cadillacs, SUVs, and tourists’ cars. The crowded streets didn’t need an endless parade of Army trucks, driving around and around, making a bad situation worse. But that’s exactly what was happening.

The limo driver finally fought his way through the jam-up, reaching his destination only five minutes late. But considering who he was working for, those five minutes might cost him his job. Or worse.

The car pulls into the side entrance of the EOB (which is actually next door to the West Wing and separated by a small parking lot rather than across the street), surrounded by Secret Service agents, uniformed guards, and snipers. Inside Lollipop (who chooses these names?) is a woman and 7 children ranging in age from infant to 15. It's General Rushton's family.

They're escorted to the Presidential Service Office, which has been decorated and set up for a family photo. Only problem is, the general is currently nowhere to be found.


Up two more floors from the service room was a particularly dark and gloomy hallway. It served as an outer office, but the secretary’s desk here was covered not with paper clips and staplers but with ammunition for weapons: M16s, Glock 9s, Uzis. Yet another squad of security men was on hand here. Dressed in dark green combat suits, they were private hires from a firm called Global Security Inc., a company with blatant CIA ties. They’d been on guard here, around-the-clock, for the past five days.

Ah yes, the infamous "Glock 9".

Two of Rushton's aides come into the hallway, ending up on the wrong side of a gun barrel until they flash their IDs. They've been sent up to find Rushton and bring him down for the photo if he's inside. They find him standing in the corner of the dark, library-like office in front of the TV, talking on a cell phone. As soon as he realizes he's not alone, he drops the phone and smashes it underfoot.


“I’m sorry, General,” the aide finally spoke up. “But we have to get you downstairs. Your family is waiting. The press is here. And people are arriving in the function room.”

Rushton tried unsuccessfully to kick the remains of the cell phone under his desk. “How many guards were out in the hallway when you arrived?” he asked the aide harshly while turning off the TV.

“Six, sir,” the lieutenant replied.

“How many teams escorted my limo over here?”

“Two teams in two trucks, sir.…”

“And downstairs?” “Two teams of Secret Service, plus White House police. All the roofs are covered as well.”

“Did it seem like enough people to you, Lieutenant?”

The young officer hesitated a moment. “Yes, sir,” he finally spit out. “For the time being—for this occasion.”

Rushton’s red face went to a deeper shade of crimson. “‘For the time being?’” he asked icily. “Why don’t you realize I need these people around-the-clock? Those fanatics are doing everything they can to get to me. To my family. That’s why I need so much security. Why do you have problems with that?”

As you can probably guess, Rushton is paranoid as hell about the Superhawks. He's supposed to be sitting with an interview shortly after the photo with The Washington Times, which Mack describes as "very conservative", after arranging for a memo to leak that claims a 50-50 chance of terrorists detonating a nuke in the United States within the next week. Rushton is trying to use reverse psychology by doing the interview and denying the contents of the memo, which is supposed to be his way of really saying that it's true, like how you say that you don't have any plans to run for president when you really do. He's also been obsessed with finding a missing Iranian cargo plane for some mysterious reason.

As he heads downstairs, the aides see that he's been watching the news coverage of the Superhawks on loop.

Rushton ignores the press with a smile as he heads down for the photo. Someone notices that the presidential seal was accidentally left up on the wall, and Rushton noticeably hesitates before ordering its removal. As soon as the first shot is taken, he suddenly gets up and walks out of the room to take an elevator to the top floor, everyone shouting after him.

The general is throwing a private affair here, the "secret lunch", with a dozen senators from both parties, FBI and DHS higher-ups, the commanders of every military base within 50 miles, and 3 Supreme Court judges and their clerks. He leaves two lieutenants on guard at the door, and walks in to thunderous applause.


“All those heavy hitters in there,” one said. “How he was able to keep something like this under wraps in this town for so long I’ll never know.”

The other lieutenant just shook his head, “I don’t want to know,” he said.

Dick Trauma
Nov 30, 2007

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

You're going to need some sort of healing ritual to cleanse your spirit of the taint from this terrible, terrible book. :ohdear:

Apr 23, 2014


New York firefighters Mike Santoro and Mark Kelly had both been injured on 9/11.

They’d just come on duty that horrible day when word reached their firehouse in midtown Manhattan that the first plane had hit the towers. Fifteen minutes later, both men were on the scene. They saw the horror firsthand. The flames, the smoke, people jumping to their deaths rather than be burned alive. Twenty firefighters in their company, including Santoro, Kelly, and their lieutenant, started walking up the stairs, heading for the top of the first tower. They met the initial wave of injured coming down around the thirty-third floor. With the stairwells filling with smoke and the electricity starting to fail, the lieutenant told Santoro and Kelly to lead the most seriously injured out to ambulances. Santoro carried one man down the three dozen sets of stairs.

Then the second plane hit the second tower. Now back out on the street, both Santoro and Kelly were struck by falling debris and wound up riding in the same ambulance as the people they’d just rescued. They never saw anyone else in their fire company again. Eighteen close friends killed, trying to save others.

Santoro and Kelly were now sitting in Kelly’s Ford Ranger, drinking coffee and eating junk food. They were parked in a Drive, Shop ’n Go store in East Newark, New Jersey, not far from the Garden State Parkway. Though this was a very rundown neighborhood, the area surrounding the store was somewhat wooded, trees planted to shield those traveling the Parkway from having to see the likes of East Newark.

It's closing on 8:00 PM. All of the brave, heroic, purebred American firefighters are stationed at DSG stores around New Jersey. A beat-up white Chevrolet sedan pulls up and a man with a dark complexion, oily skin, and creepy eyes. They take a photo of him and compare it to their notes on what Ramosa looks like, rating him 8/10. Only problem is, they've seen 23 people who they rate 5 or higher for similarity to the profile; turns out dark-skinned ugly dudes are actually really common in New Jersey. I can't tell if this is some hint at self-awareness regarding the inefficiency of racial profiling on Mack's part or his idea of a sick burn on New Jersey.

Sean O'Flaherty is sitting at his daughter's computer while all this is going on, receiving the photos from three dozen DSG store stakeouts. None of them look exactly right, and the number of photos coming in is threatening to freeze the computer (finally, a bit of 2004-era technology that Mack gets right!).

Having a stroke of intuition, Sean checks the 140+ photos to see if the same person appears in any of them. He notices that one guy with a Mets cap pulled low over his eyes appears repeatedly, with the timestamps on the photos showing that he visited five stores in less than an hour. He calls up Hunn and Ozzi to track down their man.

We cut to one of the DSG stores in East Newark, which is staffed by Ahmeen Dujabi. I'm gonna warn you right now, this is going to get really disturbing really fast. Before we continue, I want to remind everyone that 10 days after 9/11, a crazy Texan with a shotgun went on a killing spree of brown-skinned convenience store staff in revenge against Muslims. This book dredges up enough bad memories to run the risk of causing PTSD flashbacks for anyone who survived.


An emigrant from Lebanon, he had no valid passport, no visa, no green card, nor any other kind of legal immigration documentation. Nevertheless, Dujabi had been promoted to night manager at the Drive, Shop ’n Go just three months into his tenure. He was making nearly $50,000 a year in salary now. With another $25,000 in overtime, a lot of money for someone who didn’t have to pay taxes, he was wealthier than 90 percent of the people who walked through the front door.

There were risks, though. Dujabi had been robbed 14 times in those 10 months, shot at twice, hit once, and he’d also been stabbed. It got to the point where he could spot a robber as soon as one came in. They had that certain look about them. However, he never expected to see two soldiers in ski masks walk through the door.

It was just after midnight. Both men were heavily armed. Dujabi saw one M16 clone and a large-caliber rifle, a gun that could literally blow him away. The two men were also wearing body armor and strange, somewhat dated helmets. And one of them was gigantic. They strolled in very casually, but their guns were up in Dujabi’s face in an instant. He knew these were no ordinary criminals.

“You speak English?” the large masked man asked Dujabi. The clerk was so stunned at their strange appearance, he couldn’t talk. “You speak the language?” the large one screamed at him again, putting the barrel of his gun right between Dujabi’s eyes. Again Dujabi tried to say something but couldn’t. He began nodding furiously instead.

“Are you … Immigration!” Dujabi heard words finally spill out of his mouth.

Suddenly the big man’s gun was making a dent in his brow. “Why? You got a problem there, sa-hib?” Dujabi clamped his mouth shut and opened the cash register drawer. He took out several hundred dollars in small bills and pushed them across the counter at the two armed men. But the gun muzzle just went deeper into his forehead.

“We don’t want your filthy money,” the large man said, throwing it back into Dujabi’s face. In a flash Dujabi was looking at a crude pencil drawing of a man with bad hair, bad skin, and very criminal eyes. His own eyes went wide open.…

“So?” the large man said. “He’s a friend of yours?”

Dujabi tried pushing the money on the two men again. But this was an act of desperation; he suddenly knew who these two men were. News traveled faster on the Al Qaeda network than on the U.S. media sometimes. Dujabi had already heard about what was happening out west. Could these people be the Crazy Americans, too?

Dujabi is too petrified to respond;. Ozzi barely talks Hunn down from shooting Dujabi in the head right then and there, so Hunn satisfies himself with firing his gun past Dujabi's head (bursting his eardrum), breaking his jaw with his rifle butt, and cracking two vertebrae by smashing the cash register on his head. Meanwhile, Ozzi steals all the disposable phones from the counter case.

Police Sergeant Ernie Capp gets a call from some cops about the armed robbery, and he speeds over to the convenience store. But his officers on the scene have an excuse for why they aren't chasing the bad guys:


“They were the ghosts, Sarge,” the officer reported, this as the supervisor was still traveling at high speed to get to the scene. “You know, the guys in that secret war against the Muslims.”

“You can’t be serious,” the supervisor replied.

“They told us everything,” was the explanation. “Whomped the Arab clerk a bit, too. But—”

The supervisor had had enough. “Just hold the suspects until I get there,” he told the officer. But then came the very unusual reply: “Well, we can’t do that sir.…”

“Why not?”

“Because we let them go,” the officer said. “They had places they had to be. That’s what they told us.”

The supervisor couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Are you crazy?” he screamed into his microphone.

“Sarge—these guys are heroes!” the officer came back. “We can’t arrest them. They’re trying to save us from the terrorists.…” And then he added: “But don’t worry, Sarge. We got an autograph for you, too.…”

The bolded bit is Mack finally coming out and saying what he's wanted to say from the start.

10 miles down the road at Jack & Jill's Truck Stop, Jerry Shakes the trucker is sitting at a bar waiting for a hooker he's hired. He and the bartender have just been watching the news footage of the strange helicopter from Milwaukee on repeat. The hooker, Tiffany, shows up; the fiftyish woman has been meeting Jerry twice a month for three years.

They head to the attached motel and go to open her room, only to hear voices and the TV playing inside. Shakes shoulder rams the door down, only to find two men in black fatigues and ski masks with rifles watching the TV. They hold Shakes and Tiffany at gunpoint while they "borrow" his TV, which has been hooked up to an electronic device playing 8 different security camera feeds. Spotting a license plate number on one of the screens, they quickly write it down and then shoot the machine to blow it apart before running off.

Finally, we come to a brothel in southern Baltimore, because apparently Mack spent too long writing Wingman books and thinks there's just brothels all around the United States?

At almost 2:00 AM, the night is shattered by a scream and gunshots. The people inside scramble to escape, the most sensible thing anyone's done when the Superhawks arrived. In room 5 on the third floor, the occupant rolls off his mattress and grabs a pistol hidden in the bottom drawer of the corner dresser.


Captain Ramosa looked up just as the heel of the boot came down on his temple. He was thrown across the room. Somehow the light got turned on and he was astonished to see in its very bare glow not just one but two men in military gear in the room with him.

Suddenly one of them was right in Ramosa’s face. He lifted up his ski mask and at that moment Ramosa knew he was finished. He recognized this man, his angry features, his gigantic stature. They had met before—back in Manila. The man was from New York, a place called Queens. And of all the Crazy Americans, he was, hands down, the craziest.

“Remember me?” Hunn hissed in his face.

Mack, as usual, deviates to explain to us how the prior events came to be over the past 7 hours. Watching security camera footage showed that Ramosa had hushed conversations and transactions with at least 5 DSG managers, suggesting that they're all Al Qaeda operatives. He likely met with Palm Tree and made the napkin drawing at one of these locations. After getting the license plate number of Ramosa's car, Hunn made a call that he didn't let Ozzi see (he guesses it must have been Bobby Murphy related) to get info on the rental Ramosa was driving around; the rental company puts transponders in their cars, even the junk ones, so it was a simple matter for the Superhawks' super technology to track him down.

While Hunn holds him down, Ozzi searches the room. He finds 20 new cell phones, about $2000 in small bills, and a collection of stolen and counterfeit credit cards.


Hunn produced a newspaper photograph he’d been saving since the first few days in Washington, D.C. It showed Palm Tree’s car, or what was left of it. Blood could be seen splattered all over the burnt upholstery, the windshield and fenders perforated with hundreds of gaping holes. “See what happened to your friend?” Hunn taunted him. Ramosa looked at the photo but said nothing.

“Yeah, too bad you didn’t get to say good-bye,” Hunn went on. “But I think you two will be seeing each other again, real soon.” For emphasis, Hunn forced his boot even deeper onto Ramosa’s throat. Bones started cracking.

Now Hunn had a printout of the napkin drawing dangling in front of Ramosa’s eyes. “Recognize this?” he bellowed at the cutout. “That’s how we caught you, you dumb poo poo. You should really eat at better places. That junk food will kill you.” Blood started running out of Ramosa’s ears and nose. Hunn just pushed his boot farther into his gullet.

“Now, if you want to explain this little picture here,” Hunn said, still in a growl, “then maybe the way you’re going out won’t be as painful.”

Ramosa laughed, and strangely, so did Hunn. He knew there was no way Ramosa was actually going to decipher the drawing for him. But he was interested in how Ramosa reacted to seeing it. What came next, though, threw both ghosts for a loop.

“You Americans are all psychotic,” Ramosa gurgled, fixated for a moment on the napkin. He obviously recognized it. “You think you’re all so clever that you’ll go to any lengths just to prove a point. Whether it’s a scribble on a piece of paper or invading an entire country. You people are crazy!”

Ramosa just continues taunting the Americans. He explains how the Americans will never be able to defeat the Muslims because--oh holy poo poo.


"They are breeding faster than you can eliminate them. Don’t you get it? It’s in the numbers, man. That’s why I joined them. They have money. They have great friends, and they paid me well. That’s the new reality. Not loyalty—money. You and your pretty flags and your movie star heroics. You are the old way. They are the future. You’re already coughing up blood."

This rabbit hole goes deep, my friends.

Ozzi unveils that he found Ramosa's laptop hidden under the bed, and shows him the screen so he can see all the files they just captured. For the first time, Ramosa looks scared. He may or may not pee himself.


Voices approaching in the hallway told them it was time to go. There was nothing else for them here. Boot still on Ramosa’s throat, Hunn took a pillow from the bed, put it over the man’s face, and stuck his gun barrel into it. Then he pulled the trigger three times, sending bloody feathers everywhere.

“Sweet dreams, rear end in a top hat,” Hunn said.

muscles like this!
Jan 17, 2005

Good thing the convenience store night manager they traumatized just happened to be secretly a terrorist and wasn't some poor immigrant or 2nd generation Arab-American citizen.

Apr 23, 2014

muscles like this! posted:

Good thing the convenience store night manager they traumatized just happened to be secretly a terrorist and wasn't some poor immigrant or 2nd generation Arab-American citizen.

Or, as we discovered with the real life guy who went on a rampage against brown convenience store staff in revenge for 9/11, actually Indian.

May 5, 2009

muscles like this! posted:

Good thing the convenience store night manager they traumatized just happened to be secretly a terrorist and wasn't some poor immigrant or 2nd generation Arab-American citizen.

And making 75k all untaxable. God drat the hate is so layered throughout this.

Internet Wizard
Aug 9, 2009


It may surprise you all to learn that the only Arabic word that Mack uses in these books that's even close to correct is haboob. Crazy Americans would be more like amrykyyn majnoonyn, "sharfa" isn't key, it's balcony, and his phrase for "new friends" is just gibberish. Almost every name is nonsense as well.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

I wish I was surprised. :eng99:

Apr 23, 2014

Internet Wizard posted:

It may surprise you all to learn that the only Arabic word that Mack uses in these books that's even close to correct is haboob. Crazy Americans would be more like amrykyyn majnoonyn, "sharfa" isn't key, it's balcony, and his phrase for "new friends" is just gibberish. Almost every name is nonsense as well.

Out of curiosity I Googled a few of the words and names, and I couldn't find any results coming up except for online versions of the Superhawks books.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

I have a hard time recalling the last time I hated a protagonist as much I hate Gunn, and this includes both Secret Dick and Ghost the Kildar. I won't claim to have never had violent fantasies about, dunno, cat killers, but this guy is so petty and stupid...

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 15 returns the narrative to Li. Remember her?


Coffee is made up of phenolic polymers, polysaccharides, chlorogenic acids, caffeine, organic acids, sugars, and lipids.…

Li felt her stomach do a flip. No wonder the stuff drives people crazy, she thought. The words scrolling across her computer screen seemed more like a formula for car wax. Definitely not something to put in one’s body. Good thing she liked tea.

It was nearly four in the morning. Outside, the fog had rolled into her backyard again, arriving like the tide from the reservoir beyond. Li was upstairs, in the old house’s master bedroom, the place that had been turned into the ad hoc operations center for “ghost team east.” Her computer was here, along with two other laptops and a snake pit of wires. Her TV, her DVD player, and her Bose radio were here as well. She had her cell phone close by, too—and her pistol. Neither was very far from her side these days. She was in this thing deep now. Very deep. Harboring federal fugitives. Possession of classified material. Possession of military weapons. Accomplice to murder.…

She’d wanted Fox to put her in the loop, and in the loop she certainly was. She’d even skipped work all week—not that there was anyone around to notice, not with the way D.C. had been these past few days. It still seemed so crazy, though. She felt like she was at the center of a storm, looking out at everything swirling around her, as if she’d bypassed that iceberg and sailed right into a hurricane. God only knew what kind of a prison sentence awaited her if and when they all got caught. What would her parents think of her then?

Li has the TV on in the background to provide some noise as she works. She's researching the chemical composition of coffee in the hopes of removing the stain from the image of.....hang on, what?


It always came back to the coffee stain. That was the problem. There seemed to be some kind of writing underneath it; everyone agreed on that. But trying to determine what it said was almost impossible. It’s like the Shroud of Turin, she’d thought more than once. You think you know what you’re looking at—but then again, maybe you don’t. Was this the most important piece of intelligence of the new century? Or was it simply a piece of trash? She didn’t know.

Since midnight she’d been working on a new strategy; she called it the Archimedes principle. The ancient Greek scientist wrote one of the greatest books on mathematics, only to have it lost for centuries after some monk, thinking it was scrap paper, scribbled prayers over it. When Archimedes’ book was eventually found again, some brilliant minds used a computer to get rid of the monk’s writing on top, finally revealing the great man’s words beneath. Li’s thought maybe this could be done to the napkin.

Okay, this is a legitimate scientific thing. Imaging science has improved so that we can use things like X-rays, 3D imaging, and other technology to digitally "peel back" layers or even "unravel" scrolls that are sealed tight and can't be unrolled without destroying.

This is a picture. Remember that they got this as an image off Palm Tree's PDA? They don't have the actual napkin in their possession! There's no goddamn way learning about the fats and lipids that make up coffee is going to help you digitally remove coffee stains from a picture of a coffee stain, any more than you can rotate an image from a camera to see around a corner.

Amazingly, Mack actually knows this himself! Li is completely unable to find anything to help her digitally remove the stains from the image; I'm more amazed by how dumb Mack makes his sole female supporting protagonist. However, she does get a stroke of genius to reverse the image colors to a negative to make the stain invisible. I don't think this would work very well myself, since any latent images would also have their colors flipped and are likely to be just as illegible. Hidden underneath is a circled number 74 and some smaller writing which isn't quite clear enough to read.

As she continues, Hunn and Ozzi return. They exchange information on what they've uncovered, but there's the sound of tires crunching up the gravel on the way to her house. Being given a lesson in Safe House 101 by Fox, she knows that the appropriate response to an unexpected guest is to answer the door normally and pretend that nothing odd is going on.


Amazingly, she found herself staring out at a very unexpected sight. She laughed out loud.

It was her car. Her little beat-up Toyota. The last she’d seen it, the five ghosts were driving away in it, heading back down to Cape Lonely. Never did she think she’d see it again. Yet here it was.…

Something was odd here, though. It was her car; there was no doubt about that. But where was the rust? The bent fender? The cracked windshield? She came down off the porch carefully, making sure no one was around. Once she was reasonably sure she was alone, she walked out to the car and inspected it thoroughly. She couldn’t believe it. New interior. New radio. Nice, smooth body. Even a new set of tires. It was still warm from being dropped off, and even the engine smelled new. But how did this happen? How could this be?

She opened the passenger’s door and found a baffling explanation.

On the seat was a note that read: We thought you might need this back. It was stapled to a bag of doughnuts.

Our story returns to the Sky Horse crew. They're in the cold mountains somewhere in the Midwest or South; Ryder isn't entirely sure where they've landed. They've been camped in this forest clearing for the past 36 hours, laying low and monitoring the Eyeball Machine. Puglisi has been struggling and failing to get the combination TV/radio/flashlight/strobe light/heat lamp/panic buzzer/clock/compass they were given at the island working. All the intel coming in has been about the leaked nuke report from Rushton's office and official denials that any rogue special ops units are hunting down terrorists in the country.


It was now about 4.00 A.M. central time. They were drinking coffee around a fire when Bates finally climbed out of the helicopter, taking a rare break. He had Finch’s flag with him. It was no longer pristine and neatly folded. It was now battered, wrinkled, and embedded with dust and grime. They had hung it on the inside of the copter’s interior wall, where fumes and oil and all kinds of things were in the air. The flag had got dirty quickly. Without saying a word, he passed the flag to Fox. He held it briefly in his hands, then began folding and unfolding it, nervous play, almost unconscious. Then he passed it over to Ryder.

Ryder held it to his face and thought of his wife. Then came the vision of all those killed on 9/11. The people on the first two planes. All the cops and firefighters who went into the towers and never came out. The people at the Pentagon. The people who fought with the terrorists on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. A lump came to his throat—this always happened. His eyes, already tired and bleary, misted up nevertheless. This was why they were out here, outlaws in their own country. They were fighting for the memory of Al Qaeda’s innocent victims, fulfilling the mission that Bobby Murphy had sent them out on so long ago. See it to the end, Ryder thought now. No matter what happens, just see it to the end.

“Let’s get a little more luck out of this thing,” he said softly. The team had come to think of the old Revolutionary War flag as their good-luck piece, responsible for their not acquiring more than a scratch in their little undeclared war. Puglisi put the TV/radio away and took his time with the flag. Only Gallant, stretched out nearby and asleep, missed out. Uncertain if the little ceremony had raised the spirits of the ghosts, Bates took the flag back.

But it was strange—because the moment it went back into his hands, they heard a phone ringing.…

The phone is Ozzi. Info from Ramosa's PDA indicates that a sleeper agent is supposed to meet with the other Greyhound in 36 hours in the Texas panhandle. There's also a missile attack scheduled for the airport in Denver, at least 400 miles away. They need to do both jobs one after the other to completely stop the terrorists.


Abdul Ahmed Ashmani had never been camping before. Though he was from Saudi Arabia and his extended family included much Bedouin blood, he’d never even slept in a tent, never mind tried to live in one. But that’s what he’d been doing, he and three others—two guys named Muhammad Abu and his cousin Azi.

They’d been staying in two tents on the edge of the Whispering Falls campgrounds for the past two days. The tents were very small, made of thin plastic and cord, and though easy to set up, they had a tendency to collapse if the wind blew too hard. And due to the campsite’s location, the wind seemed to be blowing hard just about all of the time. This was not Ashmani’s climate, not his pleasure, not his country.

He’d gained entry to the United States three years before the 9/11 attacks, paying a French-speaking tour guide to allow him aboard a ferry leaving Quebec for Portland, Maine, without having to show a passport. The bribe was just $100. He worked as a cabdriver in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, before eventually moving west to Buffalo and finally to the large Arab enclave of Detroit. Here he lay hiding among a sympathetic population, avoiding U.S. government sweeps following 9/11, working as a busboy, a waiter, and a used-car salesmen.

Two weeks ago, he was contacted by an Al Qaeda operative posing as a U.S. correspondent for Al-Jazeera TV. His orders were for Ashmani to move farther west, to this campground, and hook up with his fellow operators. Many rides on many Greyhound buses followed. When he arrived in the nearby town of Horseshoe, he was as surprised as anyone to find his cousin Azi waiting at the bus stop to pick him up.

I like the implication that even US correspondents for Al Jazeera are terrorists in disguise, and that secret Muslim terrorists could be anywhere.

They're here with two Stingers on a mountainside campsite, overlooking Denver International Airport. Their instructions are to shoot the biggest airplane to take off within 10 minutes of their burner phone ringing. They're concerned by the lack of reports of other airliners being shot down and the news reports of a vigilante group charging around the United States turning Muslims to mincemeat, but they take an "I just want to shoot this drat thing and go home" attitude instead of running for the hills.

At 8:00 AM, their phone finally rings. They quickly insert the missile into the launcher (how, I have no clue) and begin prepping for launch.


Ashmani double-checked the missile, another of his duties. The sighting device was turned on. The battery indicator showed a substantial charge. The weapon needed a few minutes to heat up. The two Muhammads took up a position right behind his tent and just 10 feet from the edge of the cliff. A small green steel barrier, similar to a guardrail on a highway, was located here, driven into the rock. It made for a perfect aiming spot.

Once they were set, Ashmani rushed back to his tent and grabbed his laptop. He’d downloaded many regular flight schedules for the airport below. Their orders were to shoot down the biggest plane possible. Only the big airline companies flew the very big planes—except for the odd charter or cargo plane. Ashmani ran his finger down the list for this morning, this date: United. American. Delta. Each had at least one plane departing within the next 15 minutes. Perfect.…

Ironically, the Stinger "warming up" is actually cooling it down; the battery you insert is the Battery Coolant Unit, or BCU. It cools down the missile, I think with liquid argon, so that it can more easily identify heat sources. Fun fact: it heats up to the point where you're not supposed to throw the spent BCU into dry brush or you risk starting a fire!

Ashmani looks at the big airplane with his binoculars, waiting to signal the strike.


Ashmani whispered another quick prayer, then took the glasses from his eyes. The next thing he saw was a bayonet, reflecting the early-morning sun, coming right at him.

It was strange, in that fraction of a second, when he could see the glint of this very sharp blade so clearly, yet the person behind it still somehow out of focus. He thought it was his cousin Azi, about to stab him, for some long-forgotten incident of their childhood. But then, in the next moment, he realized it could not be Azi, because he was lying on the ground next to the campfire with another bayonet sticking out of his neck, the wound gushing blood like red water from a garden hose.

The big white Sikorsky is overhead, the Superhawks jumping down with fixed bayonets. As they beat the terrorists to death, the one attacking Ashmani stabs him in the thigh. Ashmani falls onto his attacker and they roll around, nearly ending up in the campfire. The helicopter is silently hovering in front of the guardrail on the edge of the cliff, the pilot firing a rifle at the brown dudes....until one of the Stingers goes off.


All fire and smoke, it went right through the helicopter’s open cargo door and smashed into the interior fuselage.

There was a violent explosion. The noise was tremendous. The remains of the missile went one way and the helicopter, on fire and spinning out of control, went the other. The copter plummeted to the plains below. In a second, there was nothing left in the air but thousands of sparkling ashes and a cloud of black smoke. Ashmani found himself laughing—it had all happened so quickly, it almost seemed comical.

But then he looked up and saw a gun barrel pointed right between his eyes. And the man behind the gun was not laughing. He looked at Ashmani coldly, almost as if he didn’t realize his helicopter had just been blown out of the sky. Then he mouthed the words: Remember Nick Berg.…

Then he pulled the trigger—and for Abdul Ahmed Ashmani everything just went to black.

Internet Wizard
Aug 9, 2009


chitoryu12 posted:

Out of curiosity I Googled a few of the words and names, and I couldn't find any results coming up except for online versions of the Superhawks books.

It won't give you much of anything for the names unless the names are derived from a verb or noun (like how Jameel/a means handsome/pretty), but this app is pretty handy for taking a roman alphabet spelling of a word and showing all of the possible Arabic alphabet words it might be.

You won't get much for pretty much any of these words though.

Apr 23, 2014

It's not even 4:00 PM yet, but Rushton's family limo is caught in the worst traffic jam of the week in DC. Scores of military vehicles are tying up every intersection and Constitution Avenue is completely shut down; the limo driver needs to hop a few curbs and run a few red lights to get within sight of the White House.


t had been a long trip in from Bethesda, and the driver was thankful the limo came equipped with a soundproof glass partition. He really didn’t want to hear what was going on in the back of the car today. He was transporting the entire Rushton family once again, this time with the general included. That would make eight times in two days the driver had been on the Rushton hump. Even through the glass barrier, he could still hear the littlest one screaming madly. And maybe a few of the younger ones were crying, too.

The Rushton family had been traveling with the general almost around-the-clock these days. The limo driver had brought them to the photo session at the EOB, to various meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill, to awards banquets, to more meetings. They were the general’s new entourage.

Why the sudden closeness to family? The limo driver had read the blurbs from a few D.C. reporters who’d noticed Rushton’s recent unusual behavior. The General knew something bad was coming and wanted to be with his family when the terrorist-induced disaster hit. Or the General almost resigned a month ago because he wasn’t spending enough time with his family, so the President gave him permission to take the wife and kids anywhere he wanted. Or the General was home-schooling his kids, infant included, in something called “history firsthand.”

The limo driver had his own theories about all this. But he knew, in his business, it was best that he keep them to himself.

The limo finally reaches the southwest gate of the White House. The vehicle is barely stopped before Rushton herds his family out, chastising them to stay bunched up around him. A White House photographer manages to snap a few quick photos before being shooed away. Leaving his family behind, he heads into an elevator to the subbasement that's home to the National Situation Room, AKA The Bunker. Somehow, Rushton is important enough to declare the President's panic room off-limits to everyone and hold his own secret meeting here.

22 people are sitting around the conference table in the soundproof, bug-swept room. They're all veterans of special operations, some no longer in active duty. Most have close personal ties to Rushton, having been mentored by him or their careers made by him pulling the strings.


Rushton plopped into his seat at the head of the table. He was sweaty, face puffy, typically out of sorts. He didn’t acknowledge those on hand. He simply started talking: “We have a situation in Denver,” he began soberly.

“Earlier this morning, an attempt was made to shoot down an airliner taking off from the new airport out there. A missile of some sort was fired at it from a campground nearby. It missed and the plane took off safely. Within minutes, park rangers arrived at the campsite where the missile came from. It was close to the edge of a cliff. They discovered the four bodies there, probably the people who tried to fire the weapon. They also found evidence that a struggle had taken place at the edge of this campsite as well as what appeared to be animal parts."

“As you know, in the past week we have heard rumors of … well, people who are suspected of being terrorists being found murdered at several places around the country. While this is the only instance where it can be confirmed these people were trying to shoot down an airliner when they were killed, at this point we’ll have to submit that this and those other incidents are probably connected.”

Those sitting around the table were more than mildly shocked to hear this. Not that there were terrorist missile teams inside the United States—they all assumed that was true by now. But that Rushton came so close to admitting he’d made a mistake. After so long ignoring any such threat, he’d finally acknowledged that some bad guys were inside the country trying to shoot down airliners.

“The park rangers were quickly relieved at the scene by the local marshal’s office,” Rushton went on, reading now from a prepared statement. “They ordered the rangers out of their own park, intent on taking over the investigation. But the marshal’s men were quickly supplanted by the Colorado State Police. They evicted all the campers from the park, and cordoned off a square mile from everyone but their top investigators. It was the state police who found the wreckage of a helicopter that seems connected to the incident. It was lodged between two huge boulders at the bottom of this cliff. Its tail section was burned away. Its midsection was in shreds. The flight compartment was splattered with blood."

“The state police investigators weren’t sure what happened exactly. But then the FBI arrived. They got rid of the state cops and confiscated all of their evidence, including some photographs and videotape that had been taken at the scene. My contacts in the FBI called me immediately. Besides the attempted missile shot, they confirmed what many others have suspected these last few days: that some kind of a rogue special ops team has been roaming around the country. Apparently they showed up at this campground, too. They may have even prevented the airliner from being shot down by getting shot down themselves.”

Another surprise for those gathered: Rushton actually admitting that an unauthorized special ops team was operating inside the United States.

Rushton reveals that along with the Colorado National Guard being deployed, he has a special mission for the 22 men gathered here today. He claims to suspect that this renegade special forces unit is secretly in league with the terrorists, which goes against what everyone had been led to believe; because all of them are close to Rushton, they implicitly believe him even though it's the opposite of what they've seen and been told about them. Rushton's group is being ordered to bring the ghosts to justice by any means necessary, rules of engagement be damned.

One of them asks what intel they have, but Rushton just says they'll know exactly where the ghosts will be in 3 days' time without elaborating further. He also clarifies that even the president doesn't know about their mission. With that, he dismisses them. The only one to remain is.....Pershing Nash, Li's boyfriend who appeared on the phone at the beginning of the book and hasn't done anything important since.


Rushton's family takes the limo back home to Bethesda (a place renowned for far better storytelling than Mack could ever accomplish). A mob of defense and security contractors are gathered on the front lawn for a catered barbecue at the family's house.

Parked across the street from the bottom of the gravel driveway is a simple, unmarked white van. Ozzi is behind the wheel, dressed in his Kmart clothes; they stole a bunch of flowers from the cemeteries in the area (holy poo poo guys) to make it look like a flower delivery van. As Ozzi pretends to make a phone call and look at a clipboard, Hunn is in the back doing something that once again reminds me of some unsavory history.


The Delta soldier was lying atop a bed of dying lilies, facing a hole they’d drilled in the van’s rear door. A balancing bar fashioned from an armrest taken from an old chair in Li’s house was duct-taped to the floor. A pair of very cheap binoculars was jammed into an indent on the other side of which the van’s license was fastened. Two holes had been drilled here as well. Hunn’s eyes were pressed up against the binoculars, looking up at Rushton’s mansion. The house was painted white, the perfect background for what Hunn was about to do.

They’d been parked here most of the afternoon. No one had questioned them; no one had given them as much as a second look. They knew the always-moving Rushton would have to return home sooner or later; this was better than trying to track him down all over D.C. On first coming here, they’d thought they’d probably have to wait until nightfall, in hopes of catching Rushton then. But when they saw the crowd start to gather on his lawn shortly after they arrived, they felt their luck was staying good.

And good luck was essential for any sniper mission.

As everyone here probably remembers, the DC Beltway area in 2002 was terrorized by a series of sniper attacks. They used a car with a similar setup to Hunn and Ozzi's van as a mobile sniper platform to kill 10 people and injure a number more. While Ozzi and Hunn plan on using their white van to blend in with the traffic of DC, there was a real scare during the sniper attacks that the snipers were using a white van and it caused a ton of paranoia. I'm not sure if Mack is doing this to try and prove some edgy point or if he's just horrifically out of touch.

Rushton comes outside, but Hunn is unable to fire because Rushton keeps his kids surrounding him at any given time; as you may have guessed earlier, he's been using his family as human shields like some darn dirty Muslim.


Finally, Hunn just gave up. “drat, this is no use!” he cursed, pulling the gun in. It was like all the air suddenly went out of him.

“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” he said to Ozzi. “But I just can’t take the chance of shooting a kid.…”

You literally shot a civilian bus with grenades and threw innocent teenagers out of a helicopter in the first book.


They drove around Bethesda for the next three hours, keeping an eye on Rushton’s house, watching for any new developments. They kept the van’s radio turned on the whole time, tuned to the news. They’d heard the first sketchy reports that an airliner was almost shot down out in Denver—it sounded as if their comrades had stopped another Al Qaeda missile team from fulfilling its mission. But then came the rumors that the special ops team might have been killed in the incident. At the very least, their infamous big white copter had gone down somewhere near Denver Airport.

This was a blow; Ozzi felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. They scoured the radio dial, hoping to learn more, but it was not to be. The FBI had put a news blackout on the entire incident, so all they heard was the same initial report over and over again. Finally, they just turned the radio off. They knew that the first reports from any kind of incident like this were usually wrong. And the copter crew was resourceful; they’d been to hell and back several times without getting singed. But even if it was a disaster and the copter team had all been killed, Ozzi and Hunn would still have to carry on with their own mission. Not to do so would make the whole enterprise a waste of time.

They tail Rushton's convoy, just barely keeping the limo in sight. At 9:30 PM they reach the area of the White House as thunderstorms sweep over the area, but the car begins circling around and eventually runs a red light. Ozzi follows, the limo nearly causing crashes as it goes through red lights and makes sudden turns. It looks like they've been made, but they're confident that the large number of white vans in the area will make it hard for Rushton to identify who's tailing them.

Suddenly, a cop pulls them over, a big black guy with a red stud in his ear. He saw them running the red light earlier. Hunn somehow charms the cop into believing that they're delivery guys in a rush and Ozzi is the new kid who got a little anxious, so he lets them off with a warning. Somehow the roid raging maniac has charisma enough to get off with a warning.

Five minutes later, the limo finally pulls into the alley next to the Oak House, an extremely exclusive club for Washington's elite. Rushton ducks into the side door alone, and Hunn and Ozzi drive to a parking garage a block away. The garage is right next to the buildings on the opposite side of the alley from the Oak House, so Hunn and Ozzi make the 6 foot leap across the gap to the opposite roofs (Ozzi freaking out and landing on his face).


They crept to the opposite side of the roof. It overlooked the alley and the side entrance to the Oak House. It seemed to be the ideal sniper’s post. They could set up, get a good aiming point down in the alley, and still remain in the shadows. What’s more, the other roofs around them were very dark, too.

“Perfect,” Hunn whispered. “We might be able to put two into him from up here.”

Ozzi helped him set up the rifle rest. A few loose bricks on the roof’s artifice further stabilized the weapon. The thunderstorms had passed over, and even though the roof was wet, the sky above was clear and the stars had come out. Two fighter jets passed over, their engines sounding muted and dim, even though their navigation lights were flashing madly. Somewhere off in the distance, a siren was blaring. The limousine was still parked in the alley below, its engine running. This led them to believe that Rushton might be in the club for only a short time.

Hunn checked his weapon over and over again. The bolt, the ammo supply, the armrest. He was a hulking individual, big hands, big head, big everything. But he handled the gun like a mother handled a newborn baby. Ozzi thought perhaps all this attention was a way to divert the fact that he was about to take a human life. A repulsive human life, but a life nevertheless. But to get that deep with the big Delta soldier was the last thing Ozzi wanted to do at the moment.

They lay in wait for the next 15 minutes, getting their clothes wet, not speaking, Ozzi counting the number of times the two fighter jets passed overhead.

Ah yes, we all know how hard it is for Hunn to take a human life. It's a good thing he pops amphetamines and blows up civilians standing too close to the bad guys. As long as they're brown, they don't count as human to Hunn!

As they go over the egress procedure again, a cop appears on the roof holding a flashlight and his service revolver (apparently in the Superhawks world, the Capitol Police are still using revolvers in 2004). And it's the exact same goddamn cop who pulled them over earlier.


“I knew you guys were kind of queer,” the cop said. “Who’s delivering flowers this time of night? Dying flowers at that.…”

Ozzi was speechless. But not Hunn.

“Shut your loving mouth, will you!” Hunn hissed at the cop. Ozzi was stunned. The cop was, too. So much so, his flashlight started jiggling.

“What did you say?” he demanded of Hunn.

“I said shut the gently caress up—and keep your voice down,” Hunn replied harshly. “We’re part of General Rushton’s security team. We weren’t about to tell you that back there. But we’re up here covering his flank.”

The cop lowered his pistol, just a little. He looked like he believed Hunn. But then he yelled, “Hey … everyone … are these guys with you?”

At that moment, Ozzi saw about a dozen heads pop up from the roofs of the other buildings surrounding the alley. All of these people were dressed like him and Hunn, in black camo gear. All of them were also holding huge rifles. He couldn’t believe it. There were other sniper teams up here. Three alone were stationed on top of the Oak House. In fact, there were sniper teams on every roof around them but theirs. Ozzi smacked himself upside the head. How dumb could they be? There was no way Rushton would have let his security lapse for such a long period of time. He’d just redistributed it to another place.

“They’re not with us!” someone across the alley yelled.

“Who the hell are they?” came another voice in the night.

“We’re absolutely screwed,” Ozzi said under his breath.

Hunn whips his hunting rifle around and points it at the cop. They try to convince him that they're on a special operation, but the cop isn't having it and fires. His revolver round hits Hunn right in the chest, and his rifle breaks into pieces as it hits the roof because apparently he bought the styrofoam rifle from Kmart.

Ozzi fires his assault rifle over the cop's head, causing him to stumble and fall on his rear end. He then jams a "hot clip" full of tracers into his rifle and dumps the entire mag on full auto into the air, the spectacular fireworks display causing everyone to duck for cover. When they look up again, the two assassins are gone.


One of the sniper teams atop the Oak House roof was just able to see what happened. After dropping down to avoid the fusillade, they saw the little guy pull the big guy to the edge of the roof—and then jump off.

But Ozzi and Hunn didn’t miraculously fly down to the alleyway. Instead, Ozzi somehow managed to drag Hunn, all 260 pounds of him, out of the fire coming from the sniper teams and over the edge of the roof. Twenty feet down was a very rickety fire escape. It was their only chance. Ozzi lowered Hunn down first, or at least tried to, as they both really toppled over together, the rusty iron of the fire escape ladder breaking their fall. Hunn nearly crushed the life out of Ozzi on landing; it was all he could do to get himself out from under the big soldier.

But no sooner had Ozzi done this when he felt himself falling again. It seemed for an instant that he was stationary and the rest of the world was moving. But then he realized what was happening. The fire escape ladder itself was going down, as it was designed to do, five stories to the alleyway below. He landed hard, again, and then Hunn came down on top of him—again. Once more, he had to crawl out from under the monstrous soldier. But at least they were on terra firma.

They’d hit the alleyway not far from the limousine. Ozzi could still hear its air-conditioning cranking at high speed, the silhouette of the driver visible just beyond the windshield. Ozzi saw the eyes and faces of the sniper teams and the D.C. cop looking down at him. He let loose another barrage of blinding tracers, almost giddy that he’d made such a dramatic escape.

But then he looked down at Hunn and for the first time realized his chest was covered with blood.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

Boy I sure hope Hunn is buying the farm now. :pray:

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Oh yeah, I do hope he buys it.

I know it's too much to hope that at least half of the team died off screen; Mack is a poo poo enough writer to have character die off screen, but he wouldn't let his super patriots die like that.

Eediot Jedi
Dec 25, 2007

This is where I begin to speculate what being a
man of my word costs me

Sperglord Actual posted:

Boy I sure hope Hunn is buying the farm now. :pray:

Calling it now, the bullet was stopped by a thawed out piglet he'd stuffed down his shirt to stuff down Rushton's throat.

Dick Trauma
Nov 30, 2007

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

Something tells me the author could crank these books out faster if he didn't have to keep stopping to beat off to his ultraviolence. :fap:

May 5, 2009

I don't even hate that the author wrote the first one. It's disgusting, but whatever. What I hate is that there's a market for it. And it's sequels. He made money off of this. That I hate.

Apr 23, 2014


Li was eating a doughnut when the sudden barrage of sirens began.

It wasn’t like she was in love with the double-filled jelly. Truth was, it was just about the only thing left in the house to eat. She was up in the master bedroom, as usual. The place was a total mess by now. The old bed had partially collapsed due to the weight of the team’s remaining gear. And if anything, there were more wires—electrical, cable, modem—cluttering the floor, a real hazard in the nighttime. Still, the bedroom remained the center of Li’s universe. She had even taken to sleeping up here—on the floor curled up in a blanket—not that she was sleeping very much anymore.

She was still praying over the napkin image, trying to find anything else on it besides the mysterious 74 with a circle around it. She’d had no further breakthroughs since the night before, though, when the negative flipflop revealed the number. No amount of polarizing could erase the remainder of the coffee stain; it had also defied any other kind of image-altering, photo-painting software she’d thrown at it. But at least she was doing something. It was the only way she could cope in this very screwy time. The doughnuts had helped, too—their origin wasn’t so much of a mystery anymore, not after Hunn and Ozzi told her they probably came from friends of Master Chief Finch of Cape Lonely Air Station. Li tended to get the munchies when she was anxious or nervous. And she was a lot of both these days.

She’d had the TV turned on all day, this while fraught again with worry while Ozzi and Hunn were still out there, somewhere, trying to assassinate the highest-profile general in the United States. She’d seen the news reports on the Denver near miss; she’d seen the footage of the horribly twisted and burned Sky Horse helicopter. Her sense of helplessness was nearly overwhelming. She’d tried calling ghost team west many times. She had three numbers for three secure phones to use for them. But it was no use. Each time, a recording came back saying the phone was not in working order.

It would be a disaster if they lost touch with ghost team west now. The last conversation they’d had was when they passed on the news about the threat in Denver and the location where the first bus would be two days later. This was the bombshell information they’d found in Ramosa’s laptop: a detailed map of the first bus’s route, the same as contained on the Mann file, except this one had exact dates and times and mileage between the spots where the bus was dropping off its missile teams. Ghost team west had received this crucial information and had obviously acted on it in Denver.

But what about the pursuit of the first bus itself, down in Texas? How were they going to act on that now? With no copter? No Eyeball Machine? No communications?

If they were even still alive.…

As the sirens continue blaring, a car pulls into the driveway. It's a black Dodge Viper driven by Pershing Nash, her boyfriend who only just physically appeared in the last chapter and is currently wearing black combat gear (again, what is it with Mack thinking soldiers just wear black fatigues all the time?). He's there to tell Li goodbye, as he's being sent on a top secret mission in 72 hours: to kill the ghosts. He wants to also give her a warning that something deeper is going on (though he isn't sure what) and for her to be careful.


At that moment, an aircraft flitted overhead. It wasn’t a jet fighter. It was an MD-500 helicopter, a small buglike aircraft used almost exclusively by U.S. military special ops. It was heading for the reservoir and D.C. beyond.

“What is that doing up there?” Li asked Nash sternly. “I know only black ops use those kinds of copters. And these jet fighters going overhead all the time? What’s going on?”

Nash just shook his head. It was obvious he was a troubled soul at the moment. “I guess that’s what I’m talking about,” he replied.

Ah yes, the infamous black ops helicopter that nobody ever sees outside of special missions.

Li heads inside after Nash leaves, worried about what's going on with the ghost team. She comes to the conclusion that if the Nash and his team are being sent out in 72 hours when it's only 36 hours before the target bus makes its rendezvous, he must be sending the commandos to whatever event is depicted on the napkin drawing to ambush the Superhawks if they figure out what the event is and try to stop it. Following that assumption, whatever event is depicted on the napkin must be taking place in 72 hours.

She hears noises upstairs, like breaking glass and thuds, and heads up with her pistol only to find Hunn and Ozzi both covered in blood. She opens the window and drags them both inside from the overhanging roof where they had been hiding as she talked to Nash. Hunn is limp and Ozzi is barely staying conscious, but she can see that Hunn is the only one wounded.


“He was shot,” Ozzi coughed. “Back in the city, while we were trying to get Rushton. He’s hurt real bad.”

Li looked out the window to the side of the house. “But where’s the van?” she asked him as she started to tear away the top of Hunn’s combat suit.

“It’s back in town,” Ozzi told her. “I couldn’t get to it. The cops were everywhere looking for us.”

Li stopped everything she was doing for a moment. Something didn’t make sense here. “But how then …?” she began stammering. “How did you get him back here? It’s at least five miles, uphill.…”

Ozzi just looked at her. He was on his knees; they were scraped to the bone. His face was dirty; tears were cutting through the grime. His fingernails were almost gone.

“I carried him,” was all he said.

The situation isn't quite as good at the crash site.


After the small war at the campground, after the ghosts had killed all four terrorists and destroyed the remaining missile and scattered pig parts everywhere, they climbed down the cliff to the tangled wreckage of the Sky Horse, 200 feet below.

All four were crying as they lifted Gallant out of the pilot’s seat. His blood was splattered everywhere, his glasses shattered against the steering column. The rest of the copter was a total loss. All of the cell phones, all of Bates’s gadgets, their food, their water, their extra ammo—all of it gone. The only thing they found that was salvageable, strangely enough, was Finch’s Revolutionary War flag. It was seared and singed but otherwise unharmed. The team had two of the three big fifties with them, as well as their personal weapons and ammo, but only because this was the armament they’d jumped into the campsite with.

It was painful for Fox and Puglisi to relight the fire that had flared up around the copter only to go out following the crash. But they couldn’t leave any evidence behind. So burn it they did.

They take cover from the police helicopters in a drainage culvert half a mile downhill. Near a bend in the culvert, Puglisi scouts and finds a shed in the backyard of an empty house that looks like it can be a good shelter. Ryder personally carries Gallant the whole way as penance for letting him stay in the pilot's seat; Gallant insisted on staying behind and letting Ryder go down, and Ryder loves bayoneting brown people and offending their religious sensibilities (the book outright says this, I'm not just making a joke) so he didn't think twice.

They reach the shed without incident as the cops continue searching the high ground.


He laid Gallant down as gently as possible, then collapsed to the floor. Bates gave him some water. Fox lit a cigarette for him. Ryder’s combat suit was drenched in blood not his own—it had all flowed out of Gallant. And Ryder’s face was grimy, too, and his hands were cut and bruised; his shoulders were at the point of dislocation. But he had done for Gallant what Ozzi had done for Hunn. He had carried his brother warrior away from the danger.

The only difference: Gallant was dead.

As in the first book, Mack is content to let one or two Superhawks die. Just like before, Hunn (the psychopathic roid rager who blows up children and loves hacking Muslims to death and basking in their screams) survives a seemingly mortal wound while a less offensive character (Zangrelli in the first, Gallant in the third) is killed off.

At the house nearby, homeowner Jack Rucker returns from work around midnight. He'd worked a 9 hour shift as a security guard at the Denver Flats munitions plant, which tires out the 69-year-old enough that he doesn't think much of his shed door being ajar.

As he gets his meatloaf and fries from the microwave, the news on the TV starts talking about the rogue special ops team that's been on everyone's minds lately. Just as the news mentions the Colorado National Guard is on the lookout for the team, a convoy of trucks and Humvees doing just that rumble past. He looks outside and notices that the shed door is now shut tightly. After turning to get some coffee, the door is ajar again.

He heads outside, planning on shutting the door before the wind blows it open. He's quite surprised to find a pair of eyes staring back at him, as well as a rifle with a bayonet attached by a dozen rubber bands (the Superhawks can't even afford rifles with bayonet lugs?).


Just then, he heard the National Guard trucks turn the corner next street over. They were heading back in his direction. Suddenly all the backyards on his block were filled with the harsh searchlights. Rucker thought he was dreaming. This didn’t seem real.

He looked deep into the eyes of the person holding the rifle on him and realized now there was more than one person in his shed. And more than one gun pointing out at him. He was still immobile; he was barely breathing. But his mind was clear and in that moment he knew that these people were the rogue team the government was looking for. Rucker had served in the armed forces during the mid-50s. He voted Republican and considered himself a loyal American. But at that moment, he did something that surprised even him.

Just a half-second before the National Guard truck’s searchlight swept through his backyard, he closed the shed door tight, shielding the people inside.

Jack wakes up his wife, June, and leads her to the kitchen to find the 4 surviving Superhawks sitting at her kitchen table, covered in blood and grime. The old couple (whom Mack describes as looking like Ma and Pa Kettle) instantly decides that the Superhawks are the heroes of all that is good and Republican and they need to help them.

They dig Gallant's grave in shifts and replace the dug-up grass to hide the hole in the ground, allowing the Clark Kent lookalike's body to be hidden under the lawn for eternity. June Rucker is a retired nurse, so she patches up their wounds and gives them some Tylenol. Jack cooks them food while they shower and wash their clothes; the National Guard continues searching with their lights as they go.

When the team tells the Ruckers what's going on with the bus they need to stop in less than 24 hours (before it meets a sleeper agent at a rest stop along the highway), June immediately offers to drive them 600 miles to Texas.


But why? Why were the Ruckers being so helpful? Psychically bruised and battered though he was, Ryder just had to know.

He’d just finished his shower and climbed back into his now-bloodless combat suit when he approached Jack Rucker, sitting at his CB radio setup in the couple’s basement. Ryder excused the interruption and, first off, thanked him for everything he and his wife had done for them. The food. The bandages. Letting them put their comrade to rest, if just temporarily. And most important, for not turning them in. The ghosts had received help throughout their crusade across America to stop the terrorists. But each time, that help, whether it be food or fuel, had been set up, in advance, by their invisible godfather, Bobby Murphy. Could Murphy’s web of friends and influence reach down so far that it would include these two typical home folk?

Ryder asked Rucker right out: “Do you know a guy named Murphy? An intelligence agent type, back in D.C.?” He was almost surprised when Rucker shook his head no.

Ryder had only one other question to ask then. “Why?” he said. “Why are you helping us?”

Rucker hesitated a long moment, then told Ryder to wait in the basement. He disappeared upstairs for a few minutes. When he returned, June was with him; she was carrying a photograph of a Marine in dress uniform. The frame was ringed with black drapery. She held the photo as if it were the crown jewels. It was their son. Their only child.

“He was killed, more than twenty years ago,” she said. “In Lebanon. When those heartless Muslim bastards blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut.” She started crying; her husband comforted her. The rest of the team had gathered around the couple now. They were absolutely silent.

“The government was wrong back then,” she said softly. “Not the soldiers. And not the people supporting the soldiers. But the people in charge. The people in Washington. They had promised to look after my boy, to protect him while he was protecting someone else. But they didn’t. And he died for it.”

She dabbed her eyes again. “The problem is, nothing has changed,” she went on. “The people still support our country. They support our troops. They support the flag and what it stands for. It’s those egomaniacs in Washington that are the problem—the politicians, the lobbyists, and the rest. And for years we’ve always asked, Why doesn’t someone do something about it?”

She ran her finger along the edge of the photo’s frame, then looked up at the ghosts. “Well, maybe now, someone is,” she said. Jack Rucker hugged his wife; she played with a tissue she’d taken from her pocket.

“That’s why,” Jack told Ryder. “That’s why we’ll get you out of here safely, so you can do what you have to do.”

I'm going to barf.

The four ghosts pile into the back of the Ruckers' 1996 Ford station wagon, covering themselves with a blanket and trash bags. Jack hooks himself up to an oxygen tank left over from June's days as a visiting nurse and hangs a handicap sign on his mirror.

The National Guard has set up a roadblock on the way out of town. To complete the look, June holds down the brake and guns the engine to cause the vehicle to jump slightly through the checkpoint in a cloud of tire smoke. When the soldiers go to search her vehicle, she hands the tired troops a plate of cookies.


“Anyone bother you last night, ma’am?” the corporal asked her politely, peeking under the foil at the cookies. “I have to ask.”

At that moment, on cue, Jack Rucker began rasping. “Just you and your drat spotlights!” he bellowed at the corporal. The soldiers were startled and caught off-guard.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the corporal said, trying to apologize. “We’re just looking for some bad guys and—”

“I don’t give a drat who you’re looking for!” Rucker complained again, at full volume. “What is this? Nazi Germany? Iraq? I’m handicapped and I’m a veteran.… I don’t have to take this—”

“Can we go now?” June asked the corporal. “He’s always cranky on trash days.”

“Sure,” the soldier replied, starting to wave her on. “And thanks for the cookies.…”

As June drives away, one of the soldiers stops her. It looks like the jig is up, but he just noticed that Jack forgot to turn on his oxygen tank and was trying to be helpful.

As they drive down I-55, June contacts some friends on the CB radio. They pull into the Sky High Diner just outside Black Hills where they contacted a trustworthy red-blooded America trucker to take them the rest of the way. The Ruckers give them some supplies and their son's USMC service medal for good luck, and they hide in the semi-truck's trailer.

I know this is getting long but bear with me. The truck makes a 14 hour, 400 mile odyssey that gets covered in about one page. They change trucks several times with allied truckers, squeezing between everything from plaster slabs to lumber. Their journey ends when the driver drops them in the middle of nowhere in the forest and says he was instructed to just tell them to walk thataway.

After two hours of trudging through the dark forest, wondering if they'd been secretly double-crossed by the truckers, they come across a clearing created by a forest fire. They pass through it into another clearing, one with a lake.


And floating on that lake, glimmering in the dark, was an airplane.

A firefighting airplane.

Draped in American flags.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Is it a terrorist act to attack a military target?

Also, weren't the Republicans in charge during Lebanon?

Apr 23, 2014

On Route 27 in western Texas...


Maria Chunez had never been on a Greyhound bus before. She’d never had a reason to before today. Growing up in the border town of Mexiras, about forty miles south from Laredo, she’d stayed close to home, never crossing the border or even wondering what Texas was like.

But earlier that year, her niece had moved to Oklahoma City, finding a great job right away. As a Christmas present, six months early, she’d sent Maria and her two young sons round-trip tickets to Oklahoma by way of Greyhound. Maria had spent a lovely week with her niece; now she was heading home. At 35, this had been the biggest event in her life. She loved Oklahoma City; she loved the American people.

But most of all, she loved the Greyhound bus. It was so new and shiny and clean—and so pleasantly cool inside. It had a bathroom onboard, which was just astonishing to her, plus TVs, movies, and radios. All of the passengers she’d met on the ride up to Oklahoma had been very nice to her, even when Muneo, her youngest at two years, got fussy. She liked it all so much, she was already dreaming about another trip to Oklahoma City, same time, next year, riding on the big silver Greyhound again.

It was six in the morning now and the bus was heading south on Route 27. Many of the passengers who got on in Oklahoma City had got off at Amarillo. Since four that morning, it had been just Maria, her two sons, two elderly nuns, and the driver onboard. Maria had slept well in her seat during the night, as had her sons. A rest stop about an hour before had given them a chance to get breakfast, from a vending machine, another novelty Maria had never seen before. Still nearly 20 hours from home, she looked forward to spending the day watching the landscape of West Texas go by. And Maria was doing just that when she first saw the strange airplane.

It was funny that she noticed it at all. She was fascinated by the vast cotton fields, with their red dirt and huge circular watering systems. She was staring out the window, marveling at them, when, off in the distance, she saw the red and yellow airplane. It was very low; that’s what caught her attention. It was out to the east, off to her left, flying very fast and coming right at the bus.

Maria had seen airplanes before, of course, but not one quite like this. Its bottom was shaped more like a boat than an airplane. Its wing looked like it was upside down, attached on top of the plane and not on the bottom, as she had always thought airplanes were built. It had two strange things hanging down from the end of this strange wing. They looked like two smaller boats themselves.

Why would an airplane look like a boat? Maria thought.

The firefighting plane swoops down next to the bus, lowering its landing gear and flaps to slow its speed to match the bus. Two small doors open in the side and soldiers appear in them, but then they shout something and the plane takes off into the air. It comes around alongside another Greyhound driving in the opposite direction on the highway, once again matching speed and flying next to it as the men inside stare at the bus.

The driver of Maria's bus suddenly swerves to the side, as yet another Greyhound tears rear end down the highway and nearly collides with them at twice the speed her own vehicle is going. She's somehow able to see that all the men inside are darker skinned than her despite this.

Maria's bus pulls over, along with the rest of the cars behind it. The Superhawks shoot the driver of the enemy Greyhound, causing it to crawl to a stop, then pull up and begin circling like a Spooky gunship as they pour red tracer fire into the bus. Their gunfire ignites something in the back of the bus and causes it to explode in a massive fireball.


Although many people on both sides of the highway were now getting out of their cars to see these events, some even recording it all with their small video cameras, Maria’s bus driver resumed driving again. They were about thousand feet away when they saw the airplane climb out of the fireball. It circled the devastated bus once more, then, with a roar of its engines, thundered away, heading west.

Not 30 seconds later, Maria’s Greyhound passed the wreckage of the bus. It was totally engulfed in flames. Incredibly, there were some bodies sprawled on the ground outside its front door. Several people onboard had tried to get out at the last moment, but the airplane’s gunners had shot them down as well.

As they drove by, Maria got a fairly close look at these bodies. There were four of them; two were still on fire.

All were dressed like soccer players.

Back in Virginia, Dave Hunn is unfortunately still alive. The cop had shot him with his backup weapon, a .22 caliber revolver (even the third-person narration doesn't quite know why the officer drew his backup weapon instead of a service pistol), and Hunn was wearing a Kevlar ve--hang on what.


Factor two: Hunn was wearing a Kevlar double-weave bulletproof vest given to him when the escapees first landed at Cape Lonely. Thank you, Master Chief Finch.

Factor three: Ozzi had somehow stopped the bleeding from Hunn’s wound—more of a vicious bloody bruise than a perforation—during his backstreet odyssey of carrying Hunn up to Li’s house after the shooting.

Mack what the gently caress do you think a .22 is going to do to someone? Somehow Hunn bled enough to soak Ozzi and make Li initially think both of them were injured, all from a .22 bouncing off a Kevlar vest and leaving a bruise? He bled through the vest and his clothes and yet is perfectly okay now? It's like the more frothing Mack gets with rage at Muslims, the less sense his mind starts to make.

Anyway, things aren't looking good for the "assassinate a major American politician in the middle of Washington DC" plan. Their failure has undoubtedly informed Rushton that his fears are authentic and given him plenty of reason to hide himself in a bunker for the rest of his life.


What’s worse, everything the east side ghosts were trying to prevent or solve was still up in the air. An early news bulletin that morning told about a Greyhound bus being shot up on a Texas highway. It was a scant report, but it led them to believe it might have been the west side crew finally nailing the first bus. How they did it the east side had no idea.

But this did nothing to solve the bigger mysteries here: What was up with the second bus? Where was it? What were the people onboard planning? What about this theory of Li’s, bolstered by Nash’s visit, that Rushton not only knew what the second bus was up to but thought the ghosts knew, too?

Now, this part really confuses me. From what I remember, there were only two buses: the one that was driving to meet the sleeper agent in Texas, and the one that dropped all the terrorists off at their locations in the first half of the book that the Superhawks assaulted. The way Mack was writing, it seems like the thing on the napkin was a separate attack altogether from the two buses. Now all of a sudden the Greyhound they blew up in Texas is the first bus and the second one is nowhere to be seen. Where did all those terrorists getting shot off of roller coasters and mesas come from, then?

With Hunn out of commission because he's apparently a loving hemophiliac or something, Ozzi and Li leave him with the doughnuts and the TV remote on the couch (plus one of the burner phones stolen from that convenience store where Hunn beat the poo poo out of the owner for being too brown) and take her redone car out to complete the mission shortly before 9:00 PM. The only weapon they have to try and kill Rushton is the last M15 with about 100 rounds and iron sights.

As they drive through the DC streets, they're practically empty. Trying to take a detour through a narrow street, Ozzi finds that the passage is blocked by M1A1 Abrams tanks, Bradleys, LAVs, Strykers, and various trucks. Ozzi squeezes the Toyota through, passing an M4 command vehicle about 3 blocks down. More F-15s are flying overhead, which continues to weird out Li and Ozzi; if the military was making a show of force to discourage a terrorist attack, why are they hidden in the shadows?

They finally reach the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Rushton's limo is parked out front and kids are playing on the sidewalk, but the street is lined with plainclothes Secret Service agents and a few dozen uniformed White House guards. There's a soldier in every window, snipers on every roof surrounding the block, and two Blackhawks with high tech infrared viewing and eavesdropping equipment hovering overhead. It's a little comical imagining this scene (I'm picturing the ending of the Blues Brothers movie in the bank), though I'm sure Mack thought it was badass in his head.

They head back to Bethesda and pass by Rushton's house. Just like before, there's an army of Secret Service agents and Global Security contractors and two Little Bird helicopters hovering over it. Even the President doesn't get this kind of security.


They returned to the Potomac Parkway and started back toward D.C., feeling very low. Secret Service, Global Security guards, God knows who else? That was a lot of people watching over just one guy.… Li almost began to cry again.

She thought of her parents again, especially her father. What would he think of what she’d been doing this past week? Would he think she was a hero or a villain? Smart or misled? Patriot or traitor? It was really just getting to be too much for her.

So, right out of the blue, she said to Ozzi, “I know how I can put an end to this. Once and for all.…”

Around 11:00 PM, Dave Hunn wakes up with a massive headache.


There might be not be any aspirin here, but there was something in the room that could help dull his pain. He looked over the mishmash of laptops to a shelf beyond. Sitting there, all alone, a beam of moonlight coming in through the dirty window framing it perfectly, was the bottle of Thunderbird he’d bought during his quick trip up to Queens. Hunn let his eyes focus on it a moment, just to make certain it was real. When he was sure it was, he finally smiled.

“Come to Poppa,” he whispered.

This is loving hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

Hunn hobbles back to bed, thinking back to downing this stuff when he was a teenager. He looks around at the images of the napkin drawing Li taped to the walls, his rapidly buzzed mind discounting it.


He was feeling good now, but he couldn’t just lie here. He needed stimulation to make this day of recovery complete. But what was there to entertain him in this gloomy old place?

The answer was actually right in front of him. Li’s TV and its connected DVD player. Hunn’s eyes locked on it and went wide at the same time. What were the chances she had any porn lying around? he thought, the real Dave Hunn now shining through. As soon as the notion came to him, though, he knew there was no way. He wasn’t sure Li even knew what porn was.

Jesus Christ Hunn.

Because Li doesn't have porn you loving weirdo, Hunn decides to watch the old 1930 film The Blue Angel. As he takes a swig of Thunderbird, he shoots up in realization. Blue Angels? Thunderbird? Air show! Hunn brain make good doo-doo!

Hunn rolls onto the laptop and brings up Google (about the extent of his computer literacy, since he much prefers to get blitzed and hack brown people to death with a hatchet). Just as he suspected, there's a Salute to Veterans air show at Nellis Air Force Base for July 4th. "74" on the napkin is actually 7/4.

Meanwhile, Ryder wakes up with a start after dreaming about Li showing up at Cape Lonely in the red dress his wife always wore in his dreams. He's lying on the bank of the Pecos River in the border region of Las Conchos, the firefighting airplane bobbing in the water nearby.

We get one of Mack's Famous Flashbacks to describe how they got to where they are now. The plane is an old Canadair CL-215.

They did have to swim over to the plane (a less than illustrious boarding process for something draped in American flags), but found it full of sandwiches, coffee, cigarettes, and other provisions. Whoever had secured the plane also had a lengthy printout of emailed letters to the ghosts, telling them that they're saving the American Dream by killing all those dang dirty Muslims and I just can't take this book seriously.

They somehow managed to cart two of the .50 cals from the destroyed Sky Horse along their journey in the backs of semi trucks, which they set up in doors on the side of the plane with safety straps holding them on. Bates saved all his scribbled notes on the bus's destination and timetable, so they were able to figure out where to go from there.

Bates hauls Ryder over to Major Fox, near the plane. He's got notes scribbled up and down his arms for lack of paper. Apparently the UHF radio on the plane suddenly came to life overnight, and the person on the station just started listing details on their missions that only someone deeply involved in them would know; it sounded like he was trying to give the details so he'd be believed. They have a pretty good idea that it was Bobby Murphy.

The message ended with the voice revealing that Hunn cracked the case, giving them the details on the second bus going to Nellis to gently caress up the air show.


Fox displayed the notes on the back of his right hand now. They all read them by flashlight. They included things such as flight paths, times, stops along the way. “drat,” Ryder swore softly. “When is all this supposed to happen?”

“That’s just it,” Fox replied. “He said today. The Fourth of July …”

Ryder was shocked. He looked to the east. The sun was just beginning to come up. “But that means we’ve got to get going, like right now!”

“Precisely,” Fox said.

About 10 seconds of complete silence went by, each man with his own thoughts. Then, suddenly, they were all running. Ryder along the wing and into the CL-215’s cockpit, Bates on his heels. At the same time, Fox and Puglisi scrambled back to shore to gather up their stuff. Once inside the flight compartment, Ryder immediately started the amphib’s twin engines. Bates meanwhile slipped into the seat next to him. Ryder had pressed him into service as his co-pilot lately.

“Do you think that was really ‘you-know-who’ talking to Major Fox?” the egghead asked Ryder now.

Ryder just shrugged as he revved the engines to full power. “I guess we’ll know soon enough,” he replied.

73% of the way through the book. We're close to the end!

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

I'm kinda glad only one book remains.

I think rewrites is an another thing Mack doesn't know about. He made some tension and some excitement about Hunn dying... but remembered that he can't kill Real American Wino, so just shrugged it off a bruise. Who cares that he was passed when Ozzy nearly killed himself dragging him; the moment of drama and tension is over, so those details can be forgotten.

Apr 23, 2014

JcDent posted:

I'm kinda glad only one book remains.

I think rewrites is an another thing Mack doesn't know about. He made some tension and some excitement about Hunn dying... but remembered that he can't kill Real American Wino, so just shrugged it off a bruise. Who cares that he was passed when Ozzy nearly killed himself dragging him; the moment of drama and tension is over, so those details can be forgotten.

Even better is that Hunn basically has a bruise covering his entire torso, which bled enough to soak Ozzi in blood (despite bruises not bleeding) until he looked just as injured as Hunn....from a .22 revolver bouncing off his Kevlar vest. This injury is somehow enough to put Hunn out of commission for the rest of the day.

I think not.

Apr 23, 2014


The Honorable J.C. Hood was running late this morning. He was usually out of his home and on his way to the Las Vegas central courthouse by 7:00 A.M. This was the time his limo driver usually picked him up for the 20-minute trip downtown. Almost 70 years old and a widower, Hood was a so-called day judge. His court handled anything that needed adjudicating during a normal day in Las Vegas—if any day could be called normal in Vegas. Petty thefts, to drunk and disorderly, to murder, the alleged offenders all came before Judge Hood first, who usually set bail, released them with a fine, or had them locked up.

But he was running late today because his driver, Eddie, had called in sick. This was very unusual. In the 10 years he’d been driving Hood, Eddie had never called in sick. True, it was the Fourth of July, but day court in Vegas was open 365 days a year. Still, Eddie would usually tell Hood when he was taking a day off. He hadn’t mentioned anything of the sort when he drove Hood home last night.

So now Hood was waiting for a substitute driver to be found and then a car would be sent for him. Justice would have to wait a little while today in Vegas.

Eventually a black Lincoln Continental pulls up in front of the judge's driveway, but it looks slightly different than normal. Two men step out and both pull their suit jackets back to reveal guns in their waistbands; Judge Hood used to be a loving undercover CIA agent of all things (????), so he's not too scared. One of them tells him that they're "friends of a friend" who have been asked to "entertain" Hood for a few days.


“My ‘friend’ wants you to ‘entertain’ me?” he asked. “How? Where?”

The two men smiled. “Out in Dry Springs,” one said.

Hood thought a moment. Prostitution was legal in most of Nevada, but not inside Las Vegas itself. Dry Springs was a very small town about forty miles outside of Vegas. It’s only claim to fame was that it contained the legal brothel closest to the gambling capital’s city limits.

“So, in other words, ‘my friend’ has asked you to kidnap me?” Hood asked them.

The man who did most of the talking thought a moment and said, “Let’s just consider it a short vacation.”

“And who is this ‘friend’ of mine?” Hood finally asked. Throughout his years with the CIA, he’d made many “friends.”

One of the men came close and whispered in the judge’s ear. Hood’s eyes went wide at first, but then he just smiled and shrugged.

“For that ‘friend,’” he said, “I’ll do anything.…”

Meanwhile, at Nellis Air Force Base, Captain Mark Audette is going crazy keeping everything running smoothly. It's a clear day with blue skies where 300,000 people are expected to show up for the air show; Audette is the liaison between Nellis and the civilians of Las Vegas, working with the civilian population to get the families of soldiers acclimated to life in the new community and organizing community events that the military is involved in. That also means he ends up in charge of annual July 4th air show, and this year's Salute to Veterans is expected to be their biggest yet.

Not only will the Thunderbirds be performing (will we get a cameo by our favorite Hawk Hunter from Wingman?), a C-5 Galaxy loaded with 500 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is flying in for a ceremony at the show. A special flyby is planned with combat aircraft of every kind, from F-117s to Harriers to an F-22 and a demonstration model of the F-35 (maybe the terrorist plan is to just get the F-35 airborne so it'll flame out and crash into the crowd?). They also have the Blue Angels as a sort of "mystery guest", the first time the two teams have performed together.

Audette is under stress right now because in order to avoid charges of discrimination, the military is allowing buses, RVs, and other vehicles transporting disabled spectators and youth groups to drive directly onto the base instead of parking and walking. The gate is stuck down and the sentries don't know what to do, so Audette is speeding over in an administration car to get it open.

With the timetable planned down to the minute, Audette just orders the sentries to break the loving gate open. They yank on the wooden bar until it snaps off its post, allowing the vehicles to flow through (including a few Greyhound buses).


John Cahoon was driving the last RV in line. He’d been waiting outside the Nellis access gate since ten o’clock the night before, queuing up, as many others did, expecting to be let in at the crack of dawn. He was a big air show enthusiast. But this being a military affair, he knew it might not run as smoothly as most. By the time he actually drove onto the base, it was nearly 10:00 A.M., 12 hours after he’d arrived.

That was OK, though, because as it turned out, when he reached the designated parking area for RVs and other large vehicles displaying handicapped or special needs signs, he discovered that in practice the first were being made to go last and the last were going first. Translated: the military personnel in charge of parking the large vehicles made the first to arrive park at the rear of the holding area and then filled in the area from back to front. This resulted in Cahoon getting a front row space, practically right on the flight line itself. From his point of view, it couldn’t have worked out better.

Cahoon’s wife had asthma; this was how they were able to get a handicap placard, their ticket to this piece of asphalt heaven his motor home now rested on. He was driving a Ford Super Chief, also known as the Godzilla of motor homes. It was 57 feet long and, with its side extension pulled out, 18 wide. It had a living room, a den, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a shower, a washing machine-dryer combo, plus a smoking room where Cahoon stored his scotch and beer. Both he and his wife were retired Boeing workers, out from Chicago to see this show before going on to visit their son’s family up in Reno, a few hundred miles to the north. Cahoon’s wife liked to sleep late; he, by contrast, was a morning person. So by 10:15, just minutes after reaching this primo parking spot, Cahoon was already outside, with his grill fired up, cooking some midmorning brats and pounding down a beer.

A Winnebago Gold Arrow was parked on one side of him; it was a rowboat compared to Cahoon’s rig. He could see the owners still inside, sound asleep in the driving chairs, tuckered out, no doubt, from the long wait in line. Too bad. It was Cahoon’s way to make friends no matter where he set down. But the two people in the Gold Winny looked dead to the world. He wasn’t going to disturb them. At least not yet.

On the other side, to his left as he was looking at the flight line, was a Greyhound bus. It looked almost brand-new and incredibly shiny, as if it had been sitting in a garage somewhere until today. The tires looked like they had about a hundred miles on them, tops. Even the exhaust system appeared unused. Cahoon’s brother once drove for Trailways, the Dog’s biggest competitor, so Cahoon had never heard many good words about Greyhound. But he had to admit, this bus was gleaming more than any Trailways rig he’d ever seen, even if its side windows were tinted to the point you could hardly see inside it. Things must be good at Greyhound, he would remember thinking.

As Cahoon watched, turning his brats and now working on his second can of Bud, the door opened on the big silver bus and four men stepped out. Three were dressed like soccer players; the fourth was wearing a San Diego Chargers T-shirt with the words I AM CHARGER MAN stenciled across it. The men set up four chaise lounges, having difficulty getting them to unfold properly. Once they had their seats in place, they retrieved a cooler from the bus. From Cahoon’s perspective, just 15 feet away, it looked to contain nothing but water, no beer, no bug juice. Out next came two small video cameras and a box that Cahoon guessed was filled with tortilla chips or Doritos or something.

Mexicans, he thought.

Cahoon decides to stroll over and chat with the "Mexicans", taking a glimpse at that box and seeing that it's full of cell phones. He strikes up an awkward conversation with them, wherein the "soccer players" accidentally claim to work as dealers at the Horseshoe Casino where Cahoon's son works. He's too drunk already to notice anything is up with them, so he tosses his empty beer can in a trash barrel (the bang making all four of the terrorists jump out of their skins) and heads back to his RV.

Back at the RV, he decides to be hospitable and make those poor guys some barbecue. The "soccer players" dig into their ribs slathered in barbecue sauce like they haven't eaten in days, but Charger Man is a little suspicious. After taking a bite, he spits it out and suddenly has a knife against Cahoon's throat.


“What kind of meat was that?” Charger Man roared at him in near-perfect English.

Cahoon was both frightened and confused. “It’s … it’s barbecue!” he screamed back. He would have thought this was a huge practical joke if the man’s knife weren’t beginning to slice into his throat. The three soccer players were suddenly frozen again, unable to move.

“What kind of meat?” the man screamed at Cahoon again.

“It’s ribs, man!” Cahoon shouted back as the man started dragging him toward the door of the bus. “Pork ribs! That’s all!”

It was only because Charger Man vomited on the spot that Cahoon was able to pull away from him. At that moment two more men came off the bus. They, too, were dark-skinned and wearing Charger Man T-shirts. They grabbed their comrade’s knife and literally threw him up the bus stairs, one delivering a mighty kick in his rear end for good measure. Then they turned to Cahoon. They were nervous but trying to smile.

“We’re sorry,” one said in a thick accent, fighting to stay calm. “He’s sick. Sick in the head. Been too far from home. Please forgive him and please keep this between us.”

Cahoon felt the slight cut on his neck. He was shaking. It had all happened so fast. “Yeah, sure,” he said to the two Charger men, quickly walking back to his rig. “But get him some help. That guy’s dangerous.…”

By 10:45, Captain Audette is in the volunteer tent on the flight line getting a cup of coffee. He's carrying a black briefcase with the plans for the day, including the timetable of all the plane arrivals and their planned locations right down to altitude. The current plan is for the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to fly together over the crowd from the east, surprising them with the sight of the two teams together. This would be followed by the fighters and bombers (including the C-5 coming overhead at just 1000 feet), before they turn around and the C-5 lands under its huge military escort. The vets come out to the cheers of the waiting crowd as the other planes land and the aerobatic teams perform routines.

Cahoon suddenly bursts in, talking about how he needs a cop because someone at the Greyhound next door tried to stab him over barbecue. Audette's walkie-talkie comes to life with various complaints from minor fender-benders to overflowing porta-potties, so he sends Cahoon back to move his RV and tells the nearby volunteer to just wait until a cop comes by to report it; he figures Cahoon drunkenly cut himself shaving.


There was a place on the lower part of the Nevada-Arizona border known as Stinky Valley.

This was a made-up name; it was inscribed on most maps as the West River Wash. The valley was a couple miles wide and 10 miles long. It was surrounded by mountains and high desert, unseen from the nearby AMTRAK tracks. There were no highways within a hundred miles, no houses or towns, either. Few people outside this small county even knew the place existed. It was called an oil storage plant, but this was a misnomer. In reality it was a depository for oil, gasoline, and other refined petroleum products that for whatever reason were never used, had gone bad, had got old, or were simply not refined enough.

These troublesome liquids would be quietly brought here and dumped, no questions asked. This scar across on the otherwise pristine if barren southeast Nevada landscape was highly polluted and had been for years. Yet due to legislation pushed through by the oil companies every few years, Stinky Valley was heavily subsidized by the federal government. The centerpiece of the plant was a tributary of the West River, which had been diverted and dammed into a huge pool of water, not unlike the cooling pools used by desert oil field refineries. Thousands of gallons of the toxic petrofluids were poured into this pool every day to evaporate, thus making at least some of them disappear.

The residue of this process leaked into the West River, making it one of the most polluted rivers in the country. But in a state that harbored the national radioactive materials repository and legalized prostitution, not to mention border-to-border gambling, a heavily polluted river was no big deal.

As everything is going on with Cahoon nearly getting shanked over pork, a skeleton crew (five employees and two Global Security contractors) is watching over the plant over the holiday. Suddenly, a firefighting plane flies overhead and skims along the surface of the evaporation pool, scooping hundreds of gallons of oily water into its belly. One of the Global Security guys tries to draw his pistol, but his comrade stops him before he detonates all the flammables with a bullet. As the plane flies away, he makes a call to General Rushton's security detail to inform him of what just happened.

Back in the Vegas area, the pilots for the air show at Nellis are circling over Groom Lake while preparing to organize for their flyby. Everyone gets on Show Channel One on the radio and turns off their unimportant or unneeded systems (like combat systems) to save power. Right on time, they turn and head for Nellis.

At the base, the announcer on the PA system is going over the long list of supporters to thank. Over 420,000 people have arrived, spreading across 3 miles of the flight line. The announcer finally tells everyone to look over the mountains to the east, preparing to see something that's never been done before in history.


The huge crowd did as instructed; all eyes now were looking east, ready for what they’d been promised would be a vast aeronautical spectacle. But instead of seeing a stately formation of both the latest and venerable U.S. military aircraft, they were shocked to see instead a lone firefighting airplane, painted bright yellow and red, approaching with its two engines smoking badly.

Some in the crowd gasped, but others just laughed. The plane looked like it was out of control, just making it over the top of the mountain. Many on hand thought this was part of the show. Wacky-style private aerobatic acts were not unheard of at events like this.

But there was great panic in the Nellis control tower. This plane had somehow stolen in under their radar net, undoubtedly by flying so low, and no one had any idea how it got where it was and what its intentions were. But it was definitely not part of the show. The first thing the control tower people did was warn the veterans’ flight approaching the base, saying they had a “situation unknown” at the moment. But at the same time, the control tower did not tell the flight to disperse. Too much effort and planning had gone into this; plus it was safer to keep the flyby flight together.

So instead, the flight was told to reduce its combined airspeed to just 110 knots, delaying their arrival by just 30 seconds, but keep on coming.

The CL-215 roars over the crowd at 300 feet, engines smoking. There's a delay in response from the Nellis team as they look through their clipboards for any evidence that this is an official part of the show before making a decision. It begins orbiting the RV park where the Greyhounds are parked, then buzzes it with such ferocity that spectators begin running for cover. Captain Audette runs out of the tent and stares up at the plane....and sees the damaged Gadsden Flag hanging from the front hatch. Realizing that this is the rogue team from the news, he makes the connection with the Greyhound bus and begins scrambling an evacuation of the RV park.


The CL-215 was out of control. Ryder was doing his best to keep the airplane airborne, but he knew it was a losing battle. It had to do with the toxic substances they’d sucked into the engines during their water-scooping adventure back in Stinky Valley. They’d been directed there by the mysterious radio message, well aware that what they would be taking into their belly tanks was not Perrier water but a highly flammable concoction. That was the whole idea. It was the closest thing resembling a bomb that anyone could think of on such short notice. It was the first kind of water-scooping maneuver Ryder had ever done of course. He wished more than once that Gallant was there with him; he would have made it look easy.

Hitting the top of the evaporation pool, the plane not only sucked up the gas-laden water into its engines; it also took on the 1,200 gallons unevenly. There was more of the combustible water in one tank than the other, making the plane dangerously unbalanced. Combined with the engine problems, it was amazing that they’d made it more than a few miles beyond Stinky Valley, never mind all the way to Vegas.

But here they were, and now they had one last job to do before they crashed. They could see the Greyhound bus down below them—the same one described by Mann way back when. It was shiny and gleaming and new—and once you were looking for it, it stood out as if it had a spotlight on it. It looked very out of place.

The team has realized what the terrorists are planning: low and slow aircraft tend to crash and tumble immediately after being hit by SAMs, which will cause the military flight to cartwheel through the crowd and result in tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths. All of the attacks elsewhere, from car bombings in Europe to the airliners they tried to shoot down across America, were diversions from the Next Next Big Thing.

As the plane flies overhead, the roof of the Greyhound unfolds on hinges to reveal the inside (not unlike a GI Joe toy) and 18 terrorists with Stingers waiting to fire. It's only seconds before they fire. Will the Superhawks stop the bad brown people in time?

Of course they loving do, they're not allowed to fail more than temporarily no matter how insane their plans. And this one is goddamn insane.


What happened next happened in slow motion, for Ryder, for all of them.

As soon as Fox screamed, they saw six of the terrorists below fire their missiles. They weren’t aiming the weapons exactly, just pointing them in the general direction of the veterans’ flight, which was flying right over the main runway. In combat terms, it presented a target-rich environment if there ever was one.

But at the instant that the team saw the first ignition flash for the first missile to be fired, Ryder hit the water release button on the CL-215’s control panel. The problem was, he was still in the act of turning the firefighting plane, not diving as they had intended when this outlandish bombing mission was so hastily planned out. These simultaneous actions meant that the first barrage of six missiles actually flew into the cloud of combustible water the CL had dropped.

Two of the missiles exploded on hitting the liquid; two more went right through it and exploded above. One missile corkscrewed away. The last one went through the rear of the CL plane—and kept on going. The 1,200 gallons of liquid hit the bus a second later—but not before another handful of missiles were launched. It might have been the fiery exhaust from the missiles that ignited the fire, but whatever the spark, as soon as the load of gas-water hit the bus, it went up in a tremendous explosion. Red, orange, blue, even white flames soared into the sky, climbing into an instantaneous fireball that immediately sought to envelop the CL-215. Ryder saw nothing but fire coming up at them. They’d accomplished what they’d set out to do.

But now the CL was about to be cooked. He screamed at Bates to get out of the copilot’s seat, something the egghead did very quickly. The great wash of flame hit the plane head-on an instant later. It was like hitting a brick wall.

It was weird what happened next. The windshield evaporated, covering Ryder with a hot shower of broken glass. At the same moment, he started pulling like crazy on the steering column, trying to get them out of the aerial conflagration. And in that heartbeat, he looked over at the empty copilot’s seat and it was as if an invisible set of hands was pulling up on that side of the column, too.

Whose ghost could that be? he thought crazily, frozen for a moment in time. Was it Gallant? Or “Dirt” Phelan, his wingman who’d died during the Hormuz attack? Or Woody, his old flying buddy who disappeared years ago, not far from here, up around Area 51? Or may be the Ruckers’ long-lost son, whose medal Ryder was still carrying with him. Or maybe he was just imagining the whole thing. Whatever the case, somehow the CL-215 made it through the fireball. But as a result, it was now nearly covered in flames.

I don't remember Phelan ever being called "Dirt" in the first book.

One of the Harriers is hit, the pilot steering his plane away from the crowd before ejecting. A Viking gets clipped and does the same thing, gaining some altitude and pointing away from the crowd so the pilots can eject. One Stinger corkscrews into an unoccupied hangar, and another flies off toward the Vegas strip. Ryder brings the firefighting plane in for a crash landing on the runway; as the plane smashes to a halt, the whole front end falls off and dumps the ghosts onto the runway.

They pick up Bates and run, ending up 150 feet from the burning wreckage. Puglisi even gets up and runs back to recover the flag, which somehow survived being engulfed in flames hard enough to shatter the windshield while being hung out the door. As he runs back, exactly like in a movie, the wreckage explodes behind him.

The ghosts lay on the tarmac for a bit, covered in soot and minor wounds but otherwise in one piece....and then a goddamn V-22 lands on the tarmac because this poo poo just can't end.


Its wing tilted full up, the V-22 landed practically on top of them, and a large group of heavily armed men tumbled out. They were dressed head to toe in black combat suits and were wearing huge Fritz helmets, their faces hidden by opaque blast shields attached to those helmets. Their weapons only faintly resembled M16s; they were lousy with wires and cable attachments and even what appeared to be tiny satellite dishes poking out of the muzzles. Almost two dozen in all, these guys looked like they’d just walked in from a sci-fi movie.

At the same time this was happening, a convoy of base admin cars, Humvees, and ambulances also arrived at the CL-215 crash site. They were followed by four firefighting trucks that immediately began spraying flame-retardant foam everywhere, including all over the four ghosts. Suddenly it looked like it was snowing in the hot Nevada sun. Many civilian spectators were running towards the crash site as well. The four foam-covered ghosts looked up at all these people with twin expressions of relief and confusion.

“We should get paid for this,” Fox cracked. “We’re the hit of the entire show.…”

The armed men from the Osprey immediately sought to take command. Turning their guns on everyone from the base admin people to the firefighters and the civilians, they tried to surround the four ghosts, keeping everyone else away. “You guys are coming with us!” one of them barked from behind his mask. “Those are the orders from Washington.…”

But at that moment, another base admin car arrived with a screech. It was Captain Audette. He’d seen what the ghosts had done back at the RV holding area; he was one of the few people involved who had any idea what had really happened. “You’re not taking these people anywhere!” he yelled at the black-suited gunmen. “They just saved a few thousand lives back there.”

One of the men in black got in Audette’s face. “We are in charge here!” he insisted. But instinct told Audette these guys from the Osprey were bad news.

“By whose authority?” he demanded.

“Ever hear of General Rushton?” the man in black replied snidely. “We are under his orders to take these people with us.”

Audette fired back, “Take them where?”

The man in black was suddenly stumped. He had no good answer for that.

A few hundred civilians show up and begin filming things on their phones and video cameras, which makes the men in black very uncomfortable. One of them men in black (whom Mack tells us straight up is Pershing Nash) stands to the side, his body language indicating confusion. As Rushton's men try to descend on the ghosts, Audette's men from Nellis join in and begin a fistfight with them as the protagonists watch in bemusement.

Finally, the men in black back off, their cover long since blown. Audette announces that he's going to place the Superhawks under arrest and put them in protective custody for trespassing and operating an aircraft over a military base without permission, and leads them to a waiting Humvee.


As they were passing by, one of the men in black intentionally bumped into Bates. “You haven’t seen the last of us,” the man growled.

Oh my God.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

This is so much bullshit, it only needed a "and then everyone started clapping" somewhere in there.

Apr 23, 2014

JcDent posted:

This is so much bullshit, it only needed a "and then everyone started clapping" somewhere in there.

I read through to the end because there's only like 2 updates left. There's no words for how dumb the final page is going to be.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

I'm running out of words to complain about it, so I can believe that.


Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

You and me both.

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