After a mysterious disappearance, the ace fighter pilot is back, searching for answers to his missing memory—but still ready to defend post-WWIII America.
It’s been a decade since Hawk Hunter, famed American World War III hero and legendary pilot, vanished on an extraterrestrial mission to save his country. Presumed dead, Hunter found himself in a strange alternate universe where the planes were bigger than seemed possible and the dead walked the earth. Now he is back, and America needs his help once more.
The fragile new America that Hunter helped build has shattered in his absence. He has no memory of where he has been for the past ten years, knowing only that he can bring peace to his beloved country once and for all. Seeking answers at the secret research base known as Area 51, Hawk uncovers a strange new threat to his fractured homeland. There is only one thing to do. His memory may be in tatters, but the Wingman has not forgotten how to fly.
About the Author
Mack Maloney is the author of numerous fiction series, including Wingman , Chopper Ops , Starhawk, and Pirate Hunters, as well as UFOs in Wartime: What They Didn’t Want You to Know. A native Bostonian, Maloney received a bachelor of science degree in journalism at Suffolk University and a master of arts degree in film at Emerson College. He is the host of a national radio show, Mack Maloney’s Military X-Files.
Read an Excerpt
Attack on Area 51
By Mack Maloney
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2013 Mack Maloney
All rights reserved.
The UFO appeared at midnight.
Two radar techs attached to Football City's Air Force were the first to spot it. Sitting on a hill twenty miles north of Football City, their dilapidated little hut had only one working instrument: an ancient air defense radar that could detect objects up to one hundred miles away. At the stroke of twelve, it lit up like a Christmas tree.
It had been a sleepy, damp night up until then. A thunderstorm had been raging outside for hours; rain was leaking through the hut's tin roof, keeping both men on bucket duty. The hut was one of only a handful of sites that provided Football City's early warning system, and it was a small miracle that the radar was working at all. Most of the city's military equipment was so old it was practically useless.
"What the hell is that?" one tech exclaimed on first seeing the strange blip.
"It's way up there," the other replied, adjusting his screen for a better view. "But it's coming down damn fast ..."
The object was entering the atmosphere from outer space—something that was theoretically impossible. Like the rest of the world, the American continent had become so fragmented in the past decade that just getting a few ordinary aircraft in the air at the same time was a major accomplishment. Nothing had been shot into space in more than ten years; no one had the capability to do so. The only things seen falling from the sky these days were meteorites and old space junk.
But the techs knew that was not the case here. Not only did this large object appear to be under intelligent control, but it was steering its way right toward them. Used to looking for low-flying enemy aircraft belonging to Football City's host of hostile neighbors, they'd never seen anything like this.
"We better call HQ," the first tech suggested, sleepy no more.
The second man had already grabbed the phone.
"You don't have to tell me twice," he said.
Ten miles to the south, an old Huey helicopter was battling its way through the same thunderstorm when its radio burst to life.
The call was from Football City's military headquarters.
Too busy wrestling with their controls, the two copter pilots ignored the radio at first. They'd been on a routine patrol of Football City's outer defenses when the storm hit. Before the Big War, people in America knew what kind of weather was coming two weeks ahead of time. These days, violent storms always came as a surprise.
Both men were actually fighter pilots; normally, they wouldn't be caught dead flying an eggbeater. But because Football City's military was in such a degraded state, fighter planes were extremely hard to come by. That's why these two fighter jocks, JT Toomey and Ben Wa, found themselves flying copters.
Finally JT pushed the RADIO RECEIVE button. The signal was weak, but he caught enough of the message to understand how strange it was.
A huge, unidentified flying object was falling out of the sky and heading for Football City. The copter pilots could probably see it if they simply looked up.
Both pilots laughed. There was so much rain and lightning going on around them, they thought it would be impossible to see anything else.
But they were wrong.
Looking out the glass roof of the copter, they were astonished to see a gigantic ball of flame coming right at them.
"What the fuck?" Ben gasped, violently yanking the controls to the right to avoid a collision. The fireball roared by them an instant later.
A few seconds after that, the entire eastern horizon lit up like daytime.
"Christ!" JT exclaimed. "Was that a nuke?"
Their radio buzzed again; Ben immediately took the call this time. The person on the other end was shouting, saying the UFO had crashed close to the helicopter's position.
The city's military commander was ordering the pilots to the impact site to investigate.
They arrived a minute later.
They'd expected to see a huge smoldering crater—but this had been no ordinary crash. Whatever the object was, it had come in level, tearing up at least a mile of terrain in the process and creating a deep, black trench sizzling with flaming debris.
They brought the helicopter down to one hundred feet and followed the trench. At its end, they found not a flying saucer, meteorite, or a piece of space junk.
At the end of the trench was ... a space shuttle.
"This can't be!" Ben exclaimed. "There are no more space shuttles ... there haven't been since ..."
"I hear you," JT interrupted. "But look at it—what else can it be?"
They hovered just above the smoking spacecraft. The size, the shape—there was no doubt it was a space shuttle. But strangely, it was still pretty much in one piece, hinting at a controlled-crash landing.
Then, viewing the wreck through their night-vision goggles, Ben and JT saw movement inside.
Slumped in the pilot's seat, surrounded by smoke and flames, a bleeding, smoldering figure was gamely trying to undo his safety harness.
"Someone lived through this?" JT gasped.
"Goddamn, it looks that way."
JT didn't hesitate. He put the helicopter down on top of the spacecraft, set the controls to idle, and immediately jumped out. Ben followed close behind. Suddenly, they were standing in a whirlwind of smoke, steam, and fiery sparks. The thunderstorm was still going full blast.
The pilots had to shout over the noise. "I don't see any kind of a hatch," JT yelled. "Do you?"
The spacecraft began shuddering. The wet, smoky air became thick with the odor of leaking fuel. Ben and JT knew what that meant. The shuttle was going to blow up at any moment.
"Whoever's inside, we gotta get him out right now!" Ben yelled.
Again JT didn't hesitate. He ran back to the copter, retrieved its weapons box, and extracted a shaped charge. Setting it in place, he took out his side arm and shot one round into it.
Ben had barely enough time to duck before the charge went off with a mighty boom! The smoke quickly blew away, revealing a jagged hole on the top of the wrecked spacecraft.
"Christ! Give me a little warning will you?" Ben yelled.
But JT didn't hear him. He was already climbing down through the hole.
Ben quickly joined him. They found themselves in a darkened, smoke-filled chamber, wreckage all around them.
Turning their night goggles to full power, they could see the weak light of the flight deck about fifteen feet ahead. The person they'd spotted was still moving around, but not as much as before, as if life was draining out of him.
The spacecraft shuddered again. The stink of heated fuel once more engulfed the copter pilots.
"We gotta move fast, brother," Ben said.
But again JT was already in motion. He began picking his way through the debris separating them from the flight deck.
Ben followed him, but it was hard work, especially in the smoky darkness. Then the spacecraft shook again, and this time, they were nearly overcome by the steaming fumes.
"We've got maybe thirty seconds here!" JT yelled. "Then this thing is going up like a bomb ..."
They pulled the last piece of debris out of the way and finally clambered up to the flight deck.
The pilot was still strapped into the seat but was no longer moving. He was wearing a thick spacesuit and a helmet, but the suit and the helmet were smoking in multiple places. There was blood on his hands and on the legs and shoulders of the spacesuit.
JT and Ben desperately began cutting through the safety straps, the fumes now clogging their throats. Even if they were able to free the man, they would still have to carry him back to where they'd blasted the opening in the fuselage; boost him up through the hole; get themselves up and then back to the helicopter; and fly away—all before the spacecraft exploded.
And that was just seconds away.
They finally cut through the straps, yanked the pilot out of the seat, and dragged him back to the access hole.
But the hole was five feet over their heads, and the unconscious man seemed too heavy for just one of them to lift. His bloody spacesuit alone must have weighed fifty pounds.
Ben yelled, "How the hell are we going to do this?"
Again, JT simply reacted. He picked up the unconscious man by the shoulders, screaming at Ben to pick him up by the boots. It was awkward and unsteady, but somehow they were able to push him up and out of the hole.
Then JT, the taller of the two, boosted Ben up through the opening as well. Ben had never seen his friend display such strength. The spacecraft shook again, the most vicious tremor of all. The sound of hot gas rushing through the wreck became deafening.
That's when Ben reached down, grabbed JT by the arm, and, displaying some great strength, pulled his friend out of the spacecraft.
They dragged the man to the Huey, threw him inside, then jumped in themselves. They didn't bother strapping in; JT just grabbed the collective and hit the throttles. The copter went straight up into the storm.
Three seconds later the spacecraft blew up.
The blast was so powerful it hurled the copter up another hundred feet before JT regained control.
But he wisely continued the murderous ascent for the next half minute, finally outrunning the flames, smoke, and massive concussion.
Only then were they able to devote attention to their unconscious passenger.
"Is that guy even alive?" JT yelled, exhausted from the rescue effort.
Ben climbed into the back of the helicopter, where the lifeless body lay. He managed to turn the man over and reach under his helmet for a pulse. He found one, but it was weak.
"He's still with us," Ben yelled back to JT. "But not for long."
With some difficulty, Ben unfastened the man's helmet visor and rolled it up.
He saw the man's face and gasped.
"I don't believe this ..." he yelled over the roar of the copter and the storm. "I don't fucking believe this ..."
JT took a moment from wrestling with the controls to look back at the rear compartment.
"What are you talking about?" he yelled.
But Ben just shook his head, still kneeling over the unconscious body.
JT yelled again. "What the fuck is going on?"
Ben finally looked up, pointed to the man lying on the cabin floor, and said just two words: "It's him ..."CHAPTER 2
The old huey landed on the roof of Football City's military hospital ten minutes later.
A small army was waiting for it. Medics, nurses, soldiers.
The helipad's landing lights cut brightly through the ferocious rain, illuminating the chaos on the roof. Word about who the injured person on board the copter might be had reached the hospital. But it seemed impossible, too good to be true.
The helicopter was barely down when a half-dozen medics ran forward. Ben pulled back the rear door and the unconscious man was lifted out and placed on a gurney.
The medics rushed him across the windswept helipad, through the nearest doorway, and headlong down the hallway. Running alongside was a team of nurses. Some were trying to take the man's pulse, others were trying to cut away his spacesuit and remove his helmet. But the spacesuit was still smoldering and his helmet proved impossible to get off.
Still, they were all thinking the same thing: Could it really be him?
The medics reached the hospital's intensive-care emergency unit and wheeled the gurney inside.
A group of doctors was waiting. They were experts in treating combat wounds from working on Football City soldiers hurt in the city's numerous low-level military actions. Once known as St. Louis, Missouri, Football City was now surrounded by enemies. Fragmented states, criminal enclaves, and outlaw territories formed its borders. Firefights were a daily occurrence. The most seriously wounded soldiers were taken to this ICEU.
But as heroic as those soldiers were, none had created the buzz this patient was generating.
The ICEU doctors began working on him, dousing his spacesuit with water and cutting away the chest area. At that moment, a man in an all-white military uniform arrived. Louis St. Louis, military commander of Football City, was tall, had a shock of gray hair and a ruddy complexion.
He approached the gurney just as the mystery man's helmet was finally lifted off. St. Louis saw the man's face—and suddenly had to sit down. Even the hard-line military doctors gasped in astonishment.
St. Louis looked up at them. "Am I dreaming this?"
One doctor replied, "If you are, then we all are ..."
The doctors went back to work. Shocking though his presence was, the man in the spacesuit was still seriously injured and needed attention immediately.
The assisting nurses couldn't help themselves. They stole glances over their shoulders at the anxious group of coworkers waiting on the other side of the ICEU's glass wall.
Finally one nurse mouthed the words everyone on the other side of the glass wanted to hear: "It's really him ..."
News traveled quickly. Through the hospital, then over to the adjacent military base, and, from there, to the city streets beyond.
Within minutes, a crowd was gathering outside the hospital. They'd heard it was nothing short of a miracle. That a man lying in the hospital's ICEU was none other than the long-lost savior of the American continent ... Hawk Hunter.
But this was impossible.
The Wingman had been dead for years.CHAPTER 3
Hawk Hunter was last seen more than a decade ago, climbing aboard a Zon spacecraft, the crude Russian version of America's space shuttle.
Blasting off into outer space, his mission was to track down the super criminal Viktor, who was reportedly holed up in orbit, using the old Russian Mir space station as his base. Just about everything bad that had happened to America since the Big War could be laid at Viktor's cloven feet, which was why people considered him to be Satan incarnate. Hunter had fought him many times before and had hoped the trip to space would be their final battle.
In the midst of this pursuit, a giant comet was spotted heading toward Earth. Moments before humanity would have been obliterated, Hunter took the Zon and waylaid the comet by detonating a trail of nuclear mines in its path. Though he saved the planet, Hunter was killed in mid-space by the massive explosion.
Or, so everyone thought.
To say Hunter, dead or alive, was an American hero was a vast understatement.
He'd attained icon status in the dark days following World War III, a vicious conflict the United States had won on the European battlefield, only to be undermined by the traitorous US vice president, who, proving to be a Russian mole, took down the nation's ballistic missile--defense system just long enough for Russian ICBMs to obliterate the middle of the American heartland.
Though his country was beaten and defenseless, Hunter was able to put together a military force called the United Americans, and eventually won back the homeland from an assortment of enemies, including Russians, neo-Nazis, and Asian warrior cults, as well as armies of homegrown fascists, many of whom had infiltrated America's National Guard.
It had been a remarkable achievement for a man regarded by friend and foe alike as the best fighter pilot who'd ever lived. It was well known that Hunter didn't just fly airplanes; he became one with them. His brain overrode their flight computers; his arms and legs became their ailerons and elevators. He could fly higher and faster than any man alive—and in battle he was absolutely fearless. In the old days, any fighter pilot who shot down five enemy airplanes was considered an ace. Hunter had shot down hundreds of enemy airplanes. The skill and bravery he showed in aerial combat was also displayed on the ground, as he proved to be a superb tactician and military strategist.
He was also known to be extremely lucky. So when he climbed into the Zon spacecraft ten years ago, many were sure he'd simply return to Earth shortly afterward with the super-criminal Viktor in tow.
Later, when it was thought that Hunter had died sacrificing himself to save the planet, no one was surprised.
Excerpted from Wingman by Mack Maloney. Copyright © 2013 Mack Maloney. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Yeah right bich
If you are like me and grew up with the Wingman series, this novella is for you. Although short as I wanted more about Hawk and why he was gone, this is the book for you. It fills in a bit between Wingman and Starhawk. Entertaining as usual and just hope Mack will write more Wingman books after this.