Read an Excerpt
Pierre Lahoud stood and smiled. "At last, you have arrived," he said to Wahamed Duar, perhaps the most hated man in the world. They embraced in a cold, distrusting, automatic manner. They crossed warily to the single table sitting in the middle of the candlelit room. Duar took the far side of the table, the side facing the single door. He sat slowly, scrutinizing everyone. His men were dispersed throughout the room, their weapons at their sides.
Acacia controlled his expression of shocked disbelief. Where had Duar been? All the buildings had been searched carefully. They had been waiting for him in this abandoned building in the remote desert of Sudan for two hours -- how could ten men show up out of nowhere?
He stood and moved slowly toward the exit. He had to transmit the signal to the American Special Forces circling overhead, waiting for this meeting, waiting to catch Duar.
Duar saw him. "No one leaves this room," he said in Arabic with unshakable authority. His light eyes were fixed on Acacia.
"I have to relieve myself," Acacia protested with a faint smile as sweat formed under his arms.
"I don't care if you piss on your feet. No one leaves this room."
Acacia nodded and shrugged as if it didn't matter, but he had to activate his pen. It would put everything else in motion. He took it out of his pocket and opened a small notebook as if preparing to take notes.
"No notes," Duar said, still looking at him, staring into his eyes.
Acacia looked at Lahoud, his boss, who nodded.
Acacia glanced up. His pen had to acquire GPS satellites to get a fix and transmit that fix in a burst transmission. Latitude and longitude. It was all they needed. The existence of the signal would tell them the meeting was under way, and the numbers in the signal would tell them where. But he had to get outside. The roof of the building had been destroyed in whatever action had caused this crossroads to be abandoned, but the thick stucco walls were high, perhaps three stories, with bare crossbeams. There was some chance he could acquire two satellites through the destroyed roof; he had no choice. He pressed the end of his ballpoint pen and moved it slowly to his pocket.
Lahoud's six other men sat on the floor in random places, much like Duar's, with their weapons next to them. Their faces were equally full of distrust. Others stood guard outside the building.
Acacia examined Duar, a man neither he nor Lahoud had ever met but knew by reputation. He was nearly six feet tall, thin, and good-looking. He was a native of Sudan and had worked with Usama bin Laden when he was based in Sudan. When bin Laden had been asked to leave by the government of Sudan, Duar had stayed behind to start his own organization to accomplish the same objectives independently. He had been shockingly successful in his grisly business. He was now the most sought-after terrorist in the world. The Americans wanted him badly, obsessively. The bombing of the American embassy in Cairo had been the final straw. It had caused the deaths of forty-six Americans including the ambassador. Fifty-five Egyptians had also been killed outside the embassy compound by the enormous blast. It had been seen for what it was -- a simultaneous attack on America and Egypt's secular government.
Duar had finally agreed to the meeting with Lahoud, one of the world's leading arms merchants, because Lahoud could deliver what Duar wanted most -- weapons grade plutonium. Lahoud claimed to have enough to make a nuclear weapon. Duar was buying. Today Lahoud had only a microscopic amount, just enough to prove he could bring more.
The instant Acacia triggered his pen it searched for the L band GPS transmissions from the twenty-four satellites. Two were high enough to be useful deep inside the dim room. The pen quickly calculated its position and fired its encrypted burst transmission. He hoped to God the transmission went out and was heard, but he knew if the Americans received his signal all hell would break loose.
High over Sudan, Lieutenant Kent Rathman, Rat as he was known, waited with the rest of his SAS team, a Special Operations group of the CIA, as they orbited in one of the Air Force C-17s. He stomped his feet on the hard deck against the cold and looked at his watch again. He paced back and forth in the belly of the noisy jet. The other team members watched him. They were accustomed to his boundless energy and intensity.
Rat leaned on one of the Toyota Land Cruisers painted as Sudanese Army vehicles. The Toyotas would be the first out the door if Rat's team was the lucky one, the closest team to the agent on the ground known to them only by his code name Acacia, a name selected by the CIA's random word generation software that had come to rest in the tree section.
The four C-17s were strategically placed. Each carried an American Special Forces team in a quadrant of Sudan. Each was ready, eager, to jump out of the large cargo planes as soon as the meeting was located. The meeting was expected to last only thirty minutes. No more. They knew they wouldn't have time to fly across the country to get to the meeting. They had to hope one of the teams was on top of the location when the signal was received.
They had waited the night before but never received the signal. This night they had launched again. Their hope had waned as they orbited past eleven, then past midnight. Rat squinted in frustration at Groomer in the low light. He didn't need to say anything. Groomer had worked with Rat for three years, first in Dev Group, the Navy's secret counterterrorism team, then in the SAS ...Secret Justice. Copyright © by James Huston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.