Golden Dawnby Thomas M. Kostigen
Golden Dawn is a high-octane international thriller from a seasoned journalist and New York Times bestselling nonfiction author Thomas Kostigen.
Trailing his IRA bomber uncle, journalist Michael Shea stumbles onto the biggest story of his life: a plot to smuggle nuclear material into Iran. Discovered and marked for death, Shea flees the Iranian/p>/i>/i>… See more details below
Golden Dawn is a high-octane international thriller from a seasoned journalist and New York Times bestselling nonfiction author Thomas Kostigen.
Trailing his IRA bomber uncle, journalist Michael Shea stumbles onto the biggest story of his life: a plot to smuggle nuclear material into Iran. Discovered and marked for death, Shea flees the Iranian secret service. His only help comes from the beautiful mystic Neda Ghazali, a member of the ancient sect of the Golden Dawn. For centuries, the sect has guarded a secret prophecy of the End Times--a prophecy that international terrorists and Iran's president are exploiting for their own gain.
Shea leaves a trail of bodies behind as he rushes to reveal the truth--before Neda's cataclysmic prophecy comes true.
Kostigen bears witness to the adverse impact of wasteful environmental practices, then writes riveting passages about how our consuming lifestyles are causing monumental catastrophes...we need crash courses like this one, from knowledgeable authors who educate instead of preach.
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By Thomas M. Kostigen
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2012 Thomas M. Kostigen
All rights reserved.
The voice was as scratchy as the static on the telephone line that connected them across continents.
"I never make a mistake. I know it is him; your uncle. He's working for us now." The voice was rushed. The information came in staccato-like bursts.
British News's star foreign correspondent Michael Shea gripped the phone in his hand tight and pressed it hard against his ear. The noise of the London newsroom that usually reminded him of why he liked to report from the field was lost, shut out. He was focused on the words coming through the phone. Shea was consumed by the possibility that for once he might be able to catch his uncle, Sean O'Shaughnessy, in the act, the act of terrorism.
"My uncle is in Chechnya?" Shea asked quickly, fearful the line would go dead.
He needed a location. He began to write things down. He'd get there, wherever his uncle was.
"Dac, no. He's in Iran. A meeting is set. I have the details. I can tell you ..."CHAPTER 2
He was standing across the road. In plain sight. Seemingly unarmed. An easy target. After more than a decade and through the dozen countries he had been chased, Shea's uncle now stood within a stone's throw.
His informant had been right. "Lake Urmia. Northern Iran. Just over the Turkish border."
Shea had sneaked into the country easily.
His uncle was standing next to one of the more powerful Chechen rebels, the commander, it was reported, who was directly responsible for the infamous Moscow subway bombings.
It was no secret within certain underground circles that Iran was supplying Chechen rebels with arms and training. But why remained something of a mystery. Moscow had been a staunch ally of Tehran in the face of international criticism over Iran's nuclear power program. And as the world knew, Russians and Chechens were enemies.
Shea snapped another photograph of the Chechen commander, Alu Abramov, standing next to his uncle. It was difficult to see much of the Chechen's skin. He had a full beard that curled down to his chest. His dark hair covered much of his forehead, too, touching down to meet his unibrow, and fell below his shoulders. His eyes looked black. The fur on his hooded parka blended in so much that Shea had to focus his lens on Abramov's flat nose to find anything remotely light-colored on the Chechen's face.
He pressed the shutter on his Canon PowerShot SX20 that he had switched off auto mode to make sure he got the shot. Click, the face. Click, Alu shaking hands with his uncle. Click, his uncle.
He and his uncle looked frighteningly alike, despite the twenty-year age difference. Shea, thirty-three, his uncle fifty-three years of age. They both had dark brown wavy hair. They both were six feet tall and about the same weight: one hundred eighty-five pounds. Solid. Muscular. Their strength also resided in their chiseled cheekbones, and their eyes. Their eyes were deep-set and smoky. They were tools that could stare a man down with a flash, or, with a twinkle, catch a woman's fancy.
Shea zoomed in on his uncle's. He tried to gauge them. Chariots to the soul, he thought.
His uncle's eyes were searching.CHAPTER 3
Shea often wondered how two people who physically looked so alike could see the world so differently: Shea, a prominent correspondent for the leading British news service, and his uncle Sean, one of the most famous terrorists alive. One trying to enlighten the world, the other trying to light it afire.
He zoomed the lens back out and took another wide shot with his camera. Click — nothing but black. Shea took the camera away from his face to see what had blocked his view.
A twenty-four-vehicle motorcade had arrived in front of the single-story brownish stucco building that looked as if it dated back to the Ottoman Empire. Shea's uncle and Abramov were standing in front of it, and a motorcade had pulled up. The black cars waving the Iranian flag and the black sunglasses of the security team that jumped out were giant clues to who had just arrived.
The Iranian president's arrival was unexpected and just landed Shea the biggest story of his career. It also put him at unexpected and extreme risk.
Shea began to rub the back of his neck.CHAPTER 4
"Down!" Shea barked, slumping in his seat. Munjed, his cameraman, was seated next to him on the driver's side. Shea pressed on Munjed's shoulder, urging him to quickly duck low.
He and Munjed had been almost inseparable for the past three years, coworkers and best friends. An unlikely pairing — Munjed being a short, fat, and disheveled Palestinian whereas Shea was obsessively neat and well dressed — they covered each other's butts. They had saved each other's lives too many times to count — one cautioning when the other became careless. In the Middle East, danger, like a desert wind, was sudden. And it often took more than one set of senses to feel it, see it, or hear it.
Munjed did what he was told and crouched lower in his seat. "Wow, is that who I think it is?" he asked.
"'Tis. The president of Iran. In the flesh."
Munjed whistled softly. "And here during Ramadan when he is supposed to be at home with his family praying. Tsk-tsk. What a bad Muslim."
"I hear he is really a secret Jew," Shea quipped.
Munjed laughed. "Don't let him hear you say that."
Shea thought, If he could hear me I'd say something much more offensive. Perhaps I'd ask him if he's ever visited a concentration camp.
Shea's mind sometimes wandered like this. He'd have entire conversations in his head.
Shea angled his camera lens so he could see across the street. The battered old Mercedes he and Munjed were in was parked no more than fifty yards away from the motorcade on the roadside. The Iranian president had stepped out of the back of his car and was standing on the road.
Shea and Munjed were vulnerable where they had parked. They had picked a location appropriate to spy on a clandestine meeting between two terrorists, not one that would hide them from a presidential security detail. And if they were found, they were as good as dead.
Munjed decided that he just couldn't sit there without filming. Shea apparently was thinking the same thing. "Too bad we aren't getting this," he said to Munjed, lightly masking his request.
"You got it, boss. Let's show the world." This was something Munjed said whenever he and Shea uncovered a big story. And this was no doubt the biggest story they had ever uncovered: the president of the Iranian Republic clandestinely meeting with two very dangerous international villains. The world would demand to know why.
Shea had in mind a different demand: retribution.CHAPTER 5
Munjed sat up, turned, and reached to the backseat for his camera. It was over before his fingers made contact. Bullets sprayed the inside of the Mercedes. They ripped Munjed's chest wide open, and his guts began to spill onto the floor. Shea froze, but only for an instant. He reached over for Munjed and yet another bullet spray landed. He slumped back down in his seat and looked at the man who was the closest thing to family he had in the world. "Munjed!" Shea reached for his friend. He knew it was too late. Munjed was dead and gone. His eyes were wide open in the death stare. Another short burst of gunfire hit the windshield and forced Shea to scramble out of the car. He would have to leave Munjed behind. Now he had to save his own life.
Shea stayed low and out of sight as he ducked out of the passenger's side of the Mercedes. They had parked next to a brick wall and Shea's choices of escape were limited. There was nowhere to run in front of him — the presidential security detail had parked one of its black SUVs ahead and agents were scrambling out. But behind him he had noticed an alleyway. He slinked along the ground to the rear of the car to get a better view. When he peeked his head up over the trunk to gauge just how far away the alley was, an elbow caught him in the face. A left hook then crushed his temple, and he stumbled onto one knee. The blows, though, weren't hard enough to put him down, and he steadied himself as he stood. Facing him was an agent of the Iranian Secret Service, the agency known as SAVAMA. The agent was dressed in the secret agent uniform of dark suit and sunglasses. The agent paused, and this was his first and last mistake — not continuing the assault on Shea.
In a flash, Shea pushed off his back foot, lowered his hips, and landed a front kick to the agent's groin. He then landed a brutal punch to the man's skull. A left knee to the face sent the agent to the ground.
Shea knew how to fight. As a brawler growing up on the mean streets of Belfast to the many war zones he covered as a foreign correspondent to the Krav Maga studio where he learned the technical aspects of that brutal Israeli form of self-defense, he was well schooled in close combat. Shea also knew when it was time to run. And that time was now.
He spotted the alley's entrance and sprinted for it.CHAPTER 6
Go! Go! Go! Run, Michael. But don't look back. Don't look. Just run.
Shea turned his head to see if he was being chased. He met those searching eyes.
Idiot! He chastised himself. He snapped his look away.
Three SAVAMA agents, now in V-formation, were running after him. Shea focused. He figured he had ten seconds to get lost.
He made it to the alley in five seconds flat. A staircase was just a few feet to his right, and he made his way up two steps at a time.
From his perch on the rooftop, Shea, breathless, could see down to the road and the alley's entrance. They would be coming. It would be just a matter of seconds before he was found. There was only one way to escape.
Don't think. Just do it!
Shea stood at the roof's edge on the opposite side from the stairs.
Do it. Do it now!
Midflight, he ignored his own advice again and thought about what he had just done. Words didn't come this time, only fright. He crashed onto a corrugated-steel overhang below and crashed again onto the ground. Nothing broken, just bruised; he stood and brushed himself off. When he looked up, a SAVAMA agent was looking down at him from the rooftop. It was a brief stare, not more than a second, but it sent a chill down Shea's spine. Darkness. Then the agent was gone.
Shea had landed in yet another alleyway. These old villages and towns were full of them, and some dated back to 2000 B.C.
Nice going, Michael. You jumped straight into the cradle of civilization and you don't know your way out.
The place he was in looked as if it hadn't changed in centuries. It was all dim, dank alleyways that stretched thirty or more feet high.
Shea sprinted as far as the alley would take him. He ducked right where the alley came to a T. This is what he needed — choices. The more choices there were the better possibilities he had for losing his pursuers.
Left. Go left. Jesus, you're like a rat caught in a maze. Run, you fuck, run.
He ran for several hundred feet. Then the alley came to a dead end. He heard running feet behind him. The SAVAMA agents would close in on him at any moment.
He couldn't go back the way he came. Shea's escape route was limited to finding an open door. Having spent a significant period of time in the Middle East, Shea knew that apartments lay beyond those doors. And usually the homes built into the walls of ancient cities had doors on both sides. If he could get into a home from this side of the wall he could get out the other side.
It's your only chance. Use your strength.
Shea tucked his arm into his side and put his chin against his shoulder. He pounded on several of the thick, medieval-looking wooden doors. Dust flew onto his sweat-matted hair and face, but none of the doors would budge. He had only one chance left — and he saw it.CHAPTER 7
Across the narrow alley Shea had found himself in, a door was ajar. He sprinted for it and without losing stride crashed through.
This better not be a closet were the last words he thought before he barreled in.
He rolled and then stood up. He saw an arm and grabbed it. The room was pitch black. He wrenched the arm back while simultaneously turning the wrist. Wrist pressure he knew was enough to make even the toughest of men give up. He pushed the body against the door, slamming it shut and pinning this person to it. A yelp. A small cry. It was a woman he had pushed against the door. He took a quick look around. His eyes adjusted to the darkness. There was no one else in the room. He could make out a living area, a kitchenette. "Shh" was all he said. He heard footsteps outside. He cupped the woman's mouth with his free hand. The footsteps stopped, shuffled, and then moved on.
Shea spun the woman around and looked straight into the dark brown eyes of the most perfect face he had ever seen: her cheeks high, her lips full, and those eyes dancing underneath a dark, wavy mane. She was beauty defined.
He couldn't think. He couldn't speak. His mouth went agape. Hers didn't: "How dare you touch me! How dare you break into my ... this place!" the woman yelled. "Shh," Shea said again, regaining control of her and cupping his hand over her mouth. She struggled madly. He stared at her until she relented. His eyes. She stared into them. They weren't kind eyes. Yet they weren't murderous either. They were the type of deep-set brown eyes that drew you in. They stirred emotion.
At that moment, Neda Ghazali couldn't be sure what emotion she was feeling: fear, or some type of relief. She had been locked up inside this apartment for weeks. Shea couldn't know it yet, but he was just as much a salvation to her as she was to him.
Shea removed his hand from her mouth.
"Stop doing that!" she said, this time more quietly.
"I'm sorry. I am trying to ..." He paused, not knowing how much to say. "... get safe." He noticed that she spoke English to him, and asked her why she had.
"Well, Persian isn't your color," Neda said. "Now what are you doing here? What do you want from me?"
"Don't worry. I'm not going to hurt you. I just need to get out of here. Is there another exit?" He stepped back and away from her to show he meant no harm. At the same time he checked her out some more. She was five foot eight and dressed in a loose-fitting black skirt. From the thinness of her neck and shoulders, he could tell that she was petite. Without staring, he glanced at her chest, too. It didn't disappoint.
He caught himself and looked past her and noticed on a table by the door a burka, the headdress leaving only a small slit for eyeholes.
Shame. A face like that should never be covered.CHAPTER 8
Neda interrupted his thinking. "Again, could you tell me what the hell you want? What are you doing here?" she asked loudly.
Shea gave her the simple answer: "They killed my ... friend." The emotion almost broke him, but he suppressed it for another time, another place. "And now they are trying to kill me."
"Who?" Neda asked.
Neda's eyes went wide. "The SAVAMA are here?! Why?"
"The president is here. I saw something that I wasn't supposed to. And now ... they are after me."
Many thoughts ran through Neda's mind, but she said only one out loud, and she put it into the form of a question. "If I get you out of here, will you take me with you?"
"Lady, that wouldn't be good for you or for me."
"Are you CIA or something? A spy?"
"No," Shea said, a bit too forcefully. "I'm a journalist."
A smile swept across Neda's face. She looked up at the ceiling. "Praise Allah."
Shea shook his head, "Allah's got nothing to do with this, just so you know." He moved back even farther from her and walked behind a small table with chairs that had been set up between the living area and kitchenette. Nothing in the place looked too personal. Besides the door, the only source of air was the tiny window over the door. The windows above the sink were bricked over. Something wasn't quite right but he couldn't place his finger on it yet. Shea stole another look at the door and listened hard for any movement outside; there was none.
"Why would you want to come with me?" Shea asked.
"My name is Neda Ghazali. I am being held captive. And the president, you see, wants me dead."
Excerpted from Golden Dawn by Thomas M. Kostigen. Copyright © 2012 Thomas M. Kostigen. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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