The Secret...The ultimate weapon, a sleek silver missile that carries no warhead, just a doomsday system that will launch every nuclear device in the U.S. arsenal. No overrides. No countercommands. No stopping it.
The Terrorists...Desperate men, driven over the brink by a government they feel betrayed them, have taken over the Omega Missile system, stated their demands, and are ready to push the button that will kill us all.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||381 KB|
About the Author
Joe Dalton is the author of The Omega Sanction and The Omega Missile (Final Gambit).
Read an Excerpt
The Omega Missile
By Joe Dalton
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1998 Bob Mayer
All rights reserved.
THERE WASN'T A cloud in the sky and the air temperature in the eastern end of the Mediterranean was eighty degrees. The temperature of the water was a comfortable seventy-two. The surface of the sea was so smooth and flat that any disturbance of the water could be spotted easily. The moon was almost full and it reflected off the mirror surface, giving sixty-five percent illumination, aiding any prying eyes.
The American submarine lay eight kilometers off shore, due west of southern Lebanon. It was dead in the water a hundred feet down. On the back deck, just behind the conning tower, a hatch opened in the hull, leading to a pressurized compartment, the dry deck shelter — DDS — which was bolted onto the deck.
The two men climbing through the hatch into the DDS wore wet suits and carried their gear in waterproof rucksacks. As soon as they were inside, the hatch was closed behind them and sealed.
The two men ran through the preoperations checks on the vehicle tied down inside the DDS: the Mark IX SDV (Swimmer Delivery Vehicle). The Mark IX was a long, flattened rectangle with propellers and dive fins at the rear and a Plexiglas bubble at the front for the crew to see through. A little over nineteen feet long, it was only slightly more than six feet wide and drew less than three feet from top to bottom.
After five minutes both men were satisfied with the craft. The batteries were at full charge and all equipment was functioning properly.
The divers slid inside the SDV, closing the hatches behind them. They hooked the hose from their mouthpieces directly to the interior air valves to breathe from the vehicle's tanks.
The man on the right spoke into the radiophone which was connected by umbilical to the sub. "Amber, this is Topaz. We are ready to proceed. Over."
"Roger, Topaz. We read all green here. Over."
"Request flood and release. Over."
"Flood and release will be initiated in twenty seconds. We'll leave the porch light on. Umbilicals cut in five. Good luck. Five. Four. Three. Two. One."
The radiophone went dead. With a heavy gurgle, water began pouring into the dry dock shelter. The pilot worked at keeping the SDV at neutral buoyancy as the chamber filled. Water also flooded into the crew chamber inside the SDV where the two divers lay on their stomachs peering out the front canopy. The Mark IX was a "wet" submersible meaning that the only waterproofed sections were the engine, battery, and navigational computer compartments. The two crewmen could feel the warm water seep into their wet suits and they forced out small pockets of air, trying to get as comfortable as possible in their confined space.
Once the chamber was full, the large hatch on the end of the DDS slowly swung open. The pilot activated the twin, three-bladed propellers and the SDV cleared the DDS. The long length of the submarine lay beneath them for another two hundred feet. Once in open ocean, the pilot directed the Mark IX up and down and from side to side using stabilizers, both horizontal and vertical, that were aligned to the rear of the propellers. A throttle controlled the speed of the blades, and thus the speed of the sub.
The second diver was the navigator and he was currently punching in numbers on the waterproofed panel in front of him.
"Fixing Doppler," he announced over the internal communication link between him and his partner. The computerized Doppler radar navigation system was now updated with their current location, received from the submarine prior to departure, and would guide them on their underwater journey, greatly simplifying a task that previously was a nightmare in pitch- black seas. The SDV also boasted an obstacle-avoidance sonar subsystem, which provided automatic warning to the pilot of any obstacles in the sub's path — an essential given that at their current depth they could see little more than a foot in front of them and would be "flying" blind, trusting the Doppler and their charts for navigation. The SDV had a pair of high-power halogen lights facing forward, but they were not an option on this mission.
"Course set. All clear," the navigator announced.
The pilot increased power to the propellers and they moved away from the sub, heading due east.
"What do you think, Chief?" the pilot finally asked, now that they were alone and out of the presence of higher-ranking officers. They both wore dive masks and mouthpieces, with transmitters wrapped around their necks. When they spoke, their voices sounded strangely garbled because the mouthpiece was held with the teeth while the speaker articulated with his throat.
The navigator, satisfied that everything was running smoothly, finally looked up from his panel at his cohort. "The politicians and bureaucrats ought to get their heads out of their asses and go public with this crap. That's what I think, Captain," Chief Petty Officer McKenzie replied.
"Always the big view," Captain Thorpe said with a low laugh that sounded like gargling to McKenzie. "I meant what do you think about our chances of spotting the transfer, if there is one?"
"They'd be a lot better if we went in with a big hammer right from the start and knocked these shit-birds on the head," McKenzie said. "I hate this sneaking and peeking crap. What I really want to know is why I'm the navy guy and you're the army guy, but you're the one driving this sled?"
"Brains," Thorpe said. "Brains over muscle. You SEALs can do push-ups until the sun goes down but I'm a Green Beret. We got the brains and the looks."
"Yeah, right," McKenzie growled. "If you're so smart, how come you're in here with me?"
That was a good question, Thorpe silently acknowledged. Although they were from different branches of service, as McKenzie had pointed out, they, along with several dozen other members of the military's elite special operations forces, had been co-opted to form covert Department of Energy SO/NESTs teams — Special Operations Nuclear Emergency Search Teams.
At least that was the official jargon on their orders and the explanation given to the congressional oversight committee. In reality, he and McKenzie represented the spear point of much more than simply a search team.
They were actually part of the unit the Department of Defense used to patrol the world to keep the cauldron of nuclear weapons and materials from boiling over. Regular DOE SO/NEST teams were designed to clean up the mess after a nuclear problem occurred. They were reactive. DOD SO/NEST teams were proactive. People like McKenzie and Thorpe searched out potential nuclear problems before they escalated and a mess had to be cleaned up. So far they had been successful, but all it took was one failure and no one on the teams dwelled on that. The pressure was intense and men serving on SO/NEST rarely lasted more than a couple of years before they burned out.
Thorpe had been with SO/NEST for six months. McKenzie was the senior man in the group, with over four years of experience. The stress had aged him.
"You ever think about the insanity of what we do?" McKenzie suddenly said.
Thorpe was startled. That wasn't exactly the sort of question one asked on the inbound leg of a dangerous operation. "It's our job," he replied.
"Job?" McKenzie said. "Cutting grass, now that's a job. Being a doctor, that's a job. A doctor does an operation that saves somebody's life everybody thinks he's a god. He gets paid like one, too.
"We save millions of lives and what do we get? Shit, that's what we get. Hell, we don't even get hazardous duty pay."
"We don't get hazardous duty pay," Thorpe said, "because then the Department of Defense would have to tell Congress what we do in order to authorize it. And what we're doing is not exactly legal in the eyes of U.S. or international law. Not only are we not supposed to be operating overseas like this, it would scare the piss out of the civilians if they knew how close things get sometimes."
"Maybe the civilians need a scare," McKenzie argued. "Everyone thinks the world is safer now that the Cold War is over, but they're fooling themselves. Everything's gotten a lot more dangerous. Too many bombs, too much nuclear material floating around. Too many people playing shady games.
"You know I got passed over on my last promotion, don't you? The promotion board OK'd me, but then some fucking civilian oversight board noticed that I'd been at Tailhook. Fuck, I wasn't even in the goddamn hotel when those aviators were doing their stuff. I was representing SEAL Team Two at the convention."
"Sorry about that," Thorpe murmured, keeping his eyes on the control panel. He'd known McKenzie for the past six months, but had never worked this closely with him. Listening to him, Thorpe was beginning to wish he wasn't on this mission with the man.
"Fucking civilians," McKenzie said harshly, drawing a concerned look from Thorpe across the flooded chamber. "They're talking about chaptering me out, taking away my pension. We're the ones getting screwed while they sit at home and bitch about taxes and cut our fucking benefits. Fuck them all."
"Nav update?" Thorpe asked, trying to draw the older man's attention back to the task at hand.
After McKenzie gave him their present location, they both lapsed into silence. While his hands were steady on the controls, Thorpe felt the tension in the rest of his body and had to force himself to relax.
Thorpe's six-foot-two frame was cramped in the limited space allowed him. Under his wet suit, his body was well muscled, the result of a fierce daily workout routine.
His face, hidden by the mask he wore, was the deep brown of a man heavily exposed to the harshest of the sun's rays. He already carried the deep lines and crevasses that signaled late middle age. Only his blue eyes hinted that he was just thirty-four. If he had allowed his hair to grow beyond the thick, short stubble he favored, it would have been dark and liberally sprinkled with gray.
Next to Thorpe, McKenzie had a better lengthwise fit at slightly less than five-foot-six, but his barrel chest and massively muscled arms made it difficult for him to move around. Before joining SO/NEST, McKenzie had carried the label of strongest man in the SEAL teams, quite a feat among a group of men who prided themselves on their physical conditioning. During physical training Thorpe had seen the older man bench press over three hundred pounds. McKenzie had as much pride in his body as a two-thousand-dollar-an-hour-model.
Both men stayed as still as they could during the run in, trying to keep the trim of the SDV steady.
"Running clear," McKenzie eventually said in a level voice. "I put us at three klicks off coast. Change heading to one-one-zero degrees."
"One-one-zero degrees," Thorpe confirmed, as he manipulated the controls. He glanced at his partner. The earlier outburst seemed forgotten, as McKenzie's demeanor slid into an automatic, professional mode.
McKenzie checked some numbers. "ETA forty minutes."
The SDV slid through the water, the propellers leaving no trace fifty feet below the surface. As they drew closer McKenzie directed Thorpe nearer the surface as the ocean floor rose beneath them.
"We have one hundred feet under us," McKenzie announced. "Thirty above.
"Eighty down, twenty up.
"Sixty down, ten up. Hold vertical."
Thorpe slowed their forward speed and held their depth steady.
McKenzie was watching his screen intently. "Forty down. Route still clear."
Thorpe slowed until they were at a crawl.
"I've got solid contact," McKenzie said. "Shoreline," he confirmed. "New heading, eight-zero degrees."
"Eight-zero degrees." The SDV turned slightly left.
"Easy, easy," McKenzie muttered as he watched numbers tick off on his screen. "On my mark. Ten down, ten up. Hold."
Thorpe brought the SDV to a halt, then slowly let the craft sink until it rested on the bottom, in twenty feet of water, two hundred yards from shore.
Thorpe reached out and flipped a switch on the control panel. "Beacon on." He checked what looked like a large wristwatch strapped to his left forearm. A small red dot glowed. "I read the SDV beacon six by six."
McKenzie did the same. "Six by six."
Thorpe was doing everything by the book, following a checklist taped to the left side of his compartment. "Begin shutdown."
Each man turned off their parts of the SDV until all that was functioning was the beacon and the air supply.
"Switch to personal air," Thorpe ordered before he turned off the SDV's air supply. He glanced over. McKenzie pulled out his air hose, which also disconnected him from the internal communication system. McKenzie gave him a thumbs-up. Thorpe switched on his own rebreather then flipped a switch cutting off the internal air.
They pushed open their hatches and slid out, pulling their waterproofed rucksacks with them. Leaving the Mark IX resting on the bottom, they swam toward the shore, the rucksacks towed on six-foot lines attached to safety lines at their waists.
The two men ascended until they were just below the moonlit surface. Their fins flickered back and forth, propelling them smoothly toward shore. Thorpe held a nav board right in front of his face, following the azimuth determined from their mission briefing.
After a few minutes both men could feel the sea change. They knew they were close to shore from the increasing swell. Thorpe tapped McKenzie on the shoulder. McKenzie held position while Thorpe surfaced. Thorpe rode a wave up and looked shoreward. He could make out lights to the left but the shore ahead was dark. Thorpe hoped their underwater navigation had been accurate. He returned to McKenzie.
Together, they moved forward until they could feel the tips of their fins hit the bottom. Thorpe edged ahead, the surf lifting him and then slamming him down into the sand. Before the water pulled him back, Thorpe dug his hands into the sand and held his place, then scuttled forward a few more feet. He could feel McKenzie behind him, pulling off his fins. McKenzie then crawled to his side and Thorpe returned the favor. Each retrieved his rucksack and unfastened the submachine gun tied to it, pulling back the slide and making sure there was a round in the chamber, ready to fire, then pulling the muzzle plug out. They slipped an arm through the shoulder strap of their ruck and lay at the edge of the surf, listening carefully.
Thorpe stood and sprinted across the sand, McKenzie right on his heels. They reached the concealment of the dunes. The dry desert air felt good against their faces, the only part of their skin exposed.
Thorpe carefully unsealed his ruck, making sure it made no noise. He pulled out a small handheld device and turned it on. The GPR — Global Positioning Receiver — quickly accessed the nearest three DOD satellites overhead and pinpointed their position to within five meters.
"We're four hundred yards south," Thorpe whispered. He didn't think that was too bad for an eight-kilometer underwater infiltration. Both he and McKenzie donned their night-vision goggles. Thorpe waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the slightly green and depth-distorted display.
Thorpe shouldered his ruck. He stood and led the way, carefully moving through the dunes to the north, McKenzie behind him and to the right.
They now heard another noise over the pounding surf: heavy diesel engines. Thorpe slowed, searching for the guards that would be near. A high dune lay across their path and they crawled until they could just see over it.
"Shit," McKenzie muttered. Four large military-style trucks were parked with their open tailgates pointed toward the beach. But the trucks were not the focus of McKenzie's comment. Rather he was referring to the two tanks, one with its main gun aimed out to sea, the other guarding the sandy road that led inland.
"They're Merkavas," McKenzie said, confirming what Thorpe had already determined from their distinctive shape. "What the hell are the Israelis doing here?"
Thorpe didn't have an answer. His and McKenzie's need-to-know had only extended to a rumor that there would be transfer of a large amount of weapons-grade plutonium. The plutonium, supposedly smuggled out of Russia, was to be delivered to the buyer tonight on this beach. They had not been informed who was doing the smuggling or who was doing the buying, but the assumption that an Arab group was involved on the receiving end had seemed likely since they were lying on Lebanese sand.
Excerpted from The Omega Missile by Joe Dalton. Copyright © 1998 Bob Mayer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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What People are Saying About This
Rogue politicians, a maniac scientist and the Doomsday weapon -- The Omega Missile comes screaming down on target. A great action read.