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Raven StrikeA Dreamland Thriller
By Dale Brown
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Dale Brown
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSoutheastern Sudan, Africa
It felt as if God himself were hunting him,
circling beyond the clouds, watching every movement.
An angry, vengeful god, a god obsessed
with obliterating him. It felt as if God had singled
him out above all to be the focus of his
persecution, the modern-day Job. Except that this
Job must die, and die harshly, in bloody fire and
unimaginable pain. To survive, this Job must do
nothing less than outwit God.
Such thoughts would have been blasphemous to
a believer, but Li Han did not believe in the Christian
god, let alone the vengeful, twisted Allah his
paymasters had created from their own misinterpretations
of scripture. To Li Han, all conceptions
of god were superstition, tales told to children to
get them to bed at night. Li Han had no religion
except survival, and no ambition beyond that.
Once, he had dreams. Once, he'd even had
desires beyond staying alive.
He was going to be rich. He desired this so
badly that he would do anything for it. And he
had. Like a fool.
Too late, he learned that wealth and comfort
were illusions. The simplest facts had taken so
long to understand.
The pilotless aircraft droned above. Li Han
could hear it above as he rested at the side of the
mine shaft. He had constructed a passive radar
device to tell him where the aircraft was, but it
wasn't necessary now. All he needed were his ears.
Li Han waited as the engines grew louder. He
saw it in his mind's eye as it came overhead. It was
the shape of a dagger, sleeker than the UAVs he'd
seen farther south, different than the one in Pakistan
that had fired at his car but missed.
It was a special UAV. He flattered himself that
the Americans had built it just for him.
The noise grew to its loudestGod's angry
voice, calling him out.
The drone banked. The sound began to dim.
"You will go when I tell you," he said to the
man standing near him.
The man nodded. He knew he was a decoy,
knew even that he was very likely to die. And yet
he stood there willingly, prepared to run,
prepared to take the drone away.
The sound lessened as the UAV banked toward
the farthest edge of its track above.
"Now," whispered Li Han.
The man pulled the scarf over his head, pitched
forward and left the cave.
Excerpted from Raven Strike by Dale Brown Copyright © 2011 by Dale Brown. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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