“Feverishly paced…Fury isn’t afraid to portay a flawed hero.”
Still recovering from his near-fatal wounds suffered at an American nuclear plant, Delta Force commander Major Kolt “Racer” Raynor is thrust into a new battle with some of the toughest killers he’s ever faced: U.S. Navy SEALs. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are contemplating an austerity measure that would either combine Delta Force and the SEALs into a single unit or eliminate one entirely. Kolt’s career is in jeopardyand the final say rests in the hands of men who want to see him gone.
“Step aside, Jack RyanKolt Raynor is the true hero of the new millennium.”
James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author
Meanwhile, a new terrorist threatmore deadly than ISIS and al Qaedalooms. Kolt earns his call sign as the action has him racing across the globe, from Syria to Ukraine and back again, on hunter-killer missions to eliminate the terrorists before they can enact their mission. But can Kolt get the support he needs back in Washington to thwart a devastating nuclear attack? Violently applied force is needed nowbefore there’s no tomorrow.
“The action [is] rapid-fire, realistic...locked and loaded.”Kirkus Reviews
This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback.
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One Killer Force
A Delta Force Novel
By Dalton Fury
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Dalton Fury
All rights reserved.
425 nautical miles northeast of Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Atlantic Ocean — March 2014
A small, dark shadow flitted across the waves under a waning quarter moon. Casting the shadow was a MH-6M Mission Enhanced "Little Bird" helicopter of the 1/160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, its outer skin a dull matte black that absorbed both light and radar. Riding on the starboard pod of the bird, Delta Force Major Kolt "Racer" Raynor leaned into the headwind and wished like hell he'd never seen an episode of Shark Week.
Kolt accepted that putting his life in danger was just part of the job. Hell, it was one of the main reasons he loved being a special operator. Still, there were times when it felt like he was pushing his luck, and skimming across the cold, dark ocean was definitely one of those times.
Tonight particularly sucked for a number of reasons, which Kolt had way too much time to ponder as the Little Bird tempted fate over the ugly-looking waves way too close to the bottom of its skids. Scuzzball Iranian terrorist Marzban Tehrani and a group of jihad wannabes had hijacked the Queen Mary II in the middle of its cross-Atlantic cruise. As bad as that was, the intel update made it a whole lot worse. It was believed, though unconfirmed, that Tehrani had managed to get ahold of one, and possibly two, North Korean–made miniature nuclear warheads, the legendary suitcase nuke that had been a constant fear of Western governments for decades. There was credence to this, as Marzban was known to have ties to the North Korean regime through the illicit trade of nuclear technology between North Korea and Iran.
Whatever Marzban and his compatriots had in mind, assuming it wasn't simply a massive suicide bombing, they weren't talking to the FBI's hostage negotiators. No, they were either oddly shy or operationally savvy. So far, they were only communicating through the cell phone belonging to an elderly woman from Buffalo who was on the cruise as a gift from her children. The NSA had quickly provided all the information they could find on Mildred Angelica Swanson, age seventy-three, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, graduate of Vassar College, widow of one Jonathan Merle Swanson, mother of two adult children, and frequent visitor to Trump Casino in Atlantic City as well as several of the Native American–run casinos in upstate New York. Their information on Tehrani wasn't nearly as detailed.
Kolt rolled his shoulders an inch or so higher inside his rubber dry suit to close up the opening near his neck. The suit was far from a custom fit. Unlike the suits worn by the SEAL team he was flying along with, his suit was a SEAL Team Six supply-room handout, and whoever had cut out the neck area must have been endowed like Hulk Hogan. Now, the piercing winds coming off the choppy ocean water seemed to be collecting right under his Adam's apple.
Through his headset, Raynor heard the OPSKED, the code word for the helicopter assault force, or HAF for short, as they reached the point of no return. "All stations, all stations, I send Gettysburg. I say again, Gettysburg."
Kolt tilted his head forward, moving his eyes higher in their sockets to get a glimpse of the target vessel. With Gettysburg called, he figured he might be able to pick up a faint silhouette as soon as they cleared the horizon. No dice. Three MH-47 Dark Horse heavy-lift helos, the meat of the HAF, were flying staggered trail right and roughly a hundred meters in the lead, preventing Kolt from gaining eyes on the target.
Kolt knew the SEALs would be roughly thirty seconds in front of the 47s, cutting a deliberate path through the ship's rough wake. The boat assault force, or BAF, cross-loaded on four low-profile gunmetal gray Mark V Special Operations Crafts, was perfectly positioned, steering for the target ship's fantail with nobody on board the wiser.
He turned to look at the SEAL seated behind him, leaning backward, hiding from the headwind as much as possible. The SEAL was tucked in nice and tight, taking advantage of the few inches he was able to gain inside the open cabin, allowing Kolt to block every bit of headwind. The SEAL's kit was definitely custom, perfectly waterproof and buoyant.
Son of a bitch!
Kolt turned back around, moving his eyes past the fast rope hooked to the overhead, the rest coiled and lying in the cabin just a foot away, then back forward past the pilots in the bubble-glass cockpit, before leaning slightly aft to look through the opened cabin and focusing on his troop sergeant major, Slapshot. Ice-cold sea water whipped up by the pounding 47 blades, mixed with a sea squall rain, seeped into his lower neck area, running down between his pecs and settling in his belly button. Kolt wondered if Slapshot was having the same problem.
Slapshot, like Kolt, had been given the shit spot, too, just on the other side of the Little Bird. A second recruiting-poster-perfect-dressed SEAL, along with a very unfriendly-looking Belgian Malinois, were hooked in behind Slapshot.
Kolt made eye contact with the alert K9, Roscoe, a fully kitted out bomb dog. Roscoe's black, marblelike eyes reflected the waning quarter moon like a pocket mirror. Kolt shivered and looked away.
Kolt reached up with his gloved nonfiring hand to adjust his inflatable horse collar. The tactical life preserver was must-have kit when flying a bird's-eye view of the ocean, but it had already rubbed his neck raw. Embedded with hydrostatic inflator technology, the vest would automatically inflate within seconds when submerged in four or more inches of water. In an overwater emergency, with HIT, keeping your head above water was a certainty, but breathing was something altogether different.
Giving up on finding much comfort with the life vest, Kolt checked the positioning of his helicopter emergency egress device. A compact and lightweight mini-scuba bottle, the HEED III was snap-linked into his assault vest's nonfiring shoulder strap. Kolt gripped it lightly, slightly repositioning the mouthpiece toward his own mouth. Taking a quick glance down at the waves, he mentally rehearsed saving his own life. Unlike the horse collar, the HEED bottle had no auto-activate technology inside. The only way it would work was if you were conscious and had your shit together.
The bird rose and dipped before settling back into level flight. Kolt's stomach caught up a few seconds later. He knew the pilot gripping the collective inside the bubble cockpit of Twister Two-One, Chief Warrant Officer Three Stew Weeks, was one of America's best, the gold standard of helicopter pilots for sure. All the same, flying nap-of-the-earth at 152 knots, only a hundred feet above the frigid sea swell of the North Atlantic, at night, bordered between careless and reckless.
As the Killer Egg, as the Little Birds were also nicknamed, dipped dangerously close to the waves before climbing, Kolt wished he'd been more aggressive in scoring a spot on one of the 47s. Being in one of those big-ass birds was like riding in an M1 Abrams compared to this little toy.
Kolt began to regret pushing to get clearance for operations from the doctors. Only a few months before, he'd been a human guinea pig as they dosed him with experimental antibiotics along with a hematopoietic stemcell transplantation at Raleigh Duke Medical Center. Kolt had tried to follow all the medical jargon and finally gave up, hoping that whatever they were doing would save him from the radiation he'd received at the Yellow Creek Nuclear Power Plant.
Hawk. She was there for him through every procedure, every fever-racked reaction to the drugs, every —
"All stations, I send Sumter, Sumter."
Shit. Turn the switch, Kolt.
Kolt shook his head, releasing the spell. He looked ahead, over the choppy Atlantic Ocean.
There, just visible above the ocean's flat horizon, were the soft yellow lights of the seventy-six-thousand-pound Queen Mary II. Kolt looked down and saw they were already flying over her wake. The helo banked and lined up directly aft of the ship and their target, the Grill Terrace, a five-star restaurant.
Navy intelligence analysts had focused on the Princess Grill during the mission planning. It was here, with a large heated whirlpool behind them, that the terrorists would likely set up to snipe approaching rescue boats or helicopters attempting to sneak up behind the luxury cruise liner.
Kolt mentally ran through his checklist, already preparing for the post-mission joint hotwash.
BAF planning and approach, check. HAF planning and approach, check.
The restaurant's lights were still on, slightly illuminating the massive ship's wake. To Kolt, it made the dark water look that much colder. It was surprising that the lights were on, as they would serve to backlight any terrorists on the stern, but all the better for the assault team. It was a mistake to assume your enemy would always do the smart thing. You had to be ready to adapt, especially when your foe was acting stupid. Kolt knew all too well that rational action could be predicted, but stupid had a mind of its own.
Motion in the water drew Kolt's gaze down, and he spotted the boat assault force splitting to run up on either side of the Queen Mary's stern. At just eighty-three feet long, the assault boats were like minnows in the shadow of the mammoth cruise liner.
Kolt couldn't make out the SEALs on board, but he knew several would be in overwatch, scopes and thermals up, eyes peeled for any terrorists brave enough to shove an AK-47 barrel over the ship's bulwark. The rest of the SEALs would be stacked behind the pole men, the two SEALs required to raise the pole while a third worried about scoring a positive first-attempt stick of the grappling hooks. Attached to the hooks would be lightweight aluminum caving ladders, which would allow the four boatloads of SEALs to silently climb aboard the hijacked cruise liner within seconds.
Everything was moving fast, giving Kolt little time to process his first mission since Yellow Creek. With aircraft now a difficult option for terrorists to hijack, they'd gone looking for other modes of transportation with far less security. It was no wonder they'd settled on a cruise liner. They were big, slow, filled with innocent people, and sure to capture the blinding lights of the media across the world. And adding to the nightmare, the Queen Mary was on a west–east crossing, coming from Southampton and heading toward New York City. Kolt knew that just as there were standing orders to shoot down hijacked aircraft should they pose a threat to any ground targets, the navy was prepared to sink any ship for the same reason.
Kolt scrunched his shoulders up around his ears and urged the Little Bird on. Waiting grated on his nerves. He didn't handle the middle ground very well. He wanted things to get going for another reason too. The JSOC commander, Lieutenant General Seth Allen, had done the quite remarkable by deploying both special mission alert squadrons for this mission, one from SEAL Team Six, the other nod going to Delta's Osage Squadron. While Delta didn't work in the water nearly as often as the SEALs, they could still get wet without needing water wings.
Delta and the SEALs together. It could work brilliantly, or be a brilliant disaster.
A spray of saltwater snapped Kolt back to the here and now. Scanning the restaurant area again, he detected no sign of the terrorists. Kolt shifted his focus just below to deck ten, where steady but faint lights from the outboard staterooms, the exorbitantly priced Windsor and Buckingham suites, could be seen from behind partially closed drop curtains.
He knew the assaulters would be entering those suites within a few minutes and he worried about what or who might be waiting in ambush. Delta would be clearing the high decks from thirteen down to seven, while the SEALs would be going deeper to the low decks. Marzban and his dirty bombs were expected to be down below, so the SEALs would get the hot mission while Delta drew the short straw of supporting them. Ever since the Osama raid the SEALs had taken insufferable to a whole new level.
CW3 Stew Weeks closed Twister Two-One to a hundred yards immediately aft of the Queen Mary. He slowed the bird to sixty knots to give the lead 47s time to deploy their ninety-foot fast ropes from the tail ramps and front right doors. The lead double-bladed 47 maneuvered over the Sun Deck, rotated counterclockwise ninety degrees, and dropped all three ropes simultaneously. In trail, the second 47 flared nose up over the aft end of deck twelve, mirrored the lead's rotation, and dropped three ropes on top of the shuffleboard area.
Weeks held Twister Two-One offset until the Delta assaulters were off the fast ropes and the 47s cleared to the east out of the Queen's deck lighting. The helicopter slid and darted as the pilot kept it in the dark, engaging in an air loiter roughly seventy yards off stern and slightly aft of starboard. Almost immediately the windchill temperature lowered, allowing Kolt to relax his face and focus on the ropers sliding down the nylon ropes at one per second.
Kolt quickly wiped the water beads off his eye pro lenses just as the last ropers from both 47s cleared his field of view. Seconds later, six dark nylon ropes dropped freely to the decks, cueing Kolt to listen for their signal to proceed to their insert point.
"Ropes away, ropes away."
So far so good; good op.
Immediately, Kolt felt his Little Bird's nose drop a foot or so, picking up forward air speed. Twister Two-One was following the 47s' approach route while remaining just off starboard so that they flew directly over the SEALs' two Mark Vs that were now bobbing midship.
Kolt uncrossed his ankles and looked down between his Multicam Salomon assault boots. Clearing the ship's wake, the lead Mark V peeled off, separating them from the hijacked vessel before picking up a bearing for the twenty-seven-mile run back to the mother ship, the afloat forward staging base conventionally known as the USS Ponce. Kolt knew the SEALs would have already negotiated the ladders as skillfully as triple-canopy jungle monkeys and would be moving toward the main stairwells to descend to the lower decks.
Lead boat crew, good hook, good board.
Kolt leaned forward slightly, testing the tension on his monkey strap, and spotted the second Mark V still positioned next to the ship. He knew the driver was holding the boat as close as he could, essentially attaching his Mark V like a blood-sucking leech to the ship's hull at the waterline to provide the SEALs a stable base to climb.
First hook attempt must have failed.
"You seasick yet, boss?" Slapshot asked over their dedicated frequency.
Kolt leaned back to look through the cabin and toward Slapshot. He flipped him the bird for a couple of seconds and then keyed his mike. "In case you missed my last, that was a big fuck you."
"Roger, I'm stopping by the Regatta Bar as soon as we get on board," Slapshot said.
"Might be crowded. Frogmen already boarded," Kolt said as he reached behind him to control his monkey strap snap link, found the opening lever, and gave it a slight nudge to ensure it would open quickly.
"That will be my first hotwash comment then," Slapshot said.
Twister Two-One accelerated toward the bridge, the highest point on the Queen's bow, and the quickest point of entry for Roscoe to bite into a terrorist's hairless ankle or bony forearm.
Chief Weeks slowed and banked slightly left, slipped cyclic slightly to lateral shift another few feet forward to center his customers over the fast rope point, then flared and settled to hover six or seven feet above the bridge.
"Ropes, ropes, ropes," Weeks transmitted.
Pleased with the spot, Kolt turned to see the SEAL push the coiled heavy nylon rope off the pod, allowing the twenty-five-footer to drop to the bridge wing. Kolt thumbed his snap link, releasing his tether to the Little Bird, and reached for the rope to follow the SEAL down. Standard stuff for seasoned operators like Kolt. Even though nobody kept tabs on an operator's fast rope inserts, say, like the number of HALO free falls or his long obstacle course time, for Kolt this one had to be somewhere around a thousand or two.
But this insert just didn't feel right. Kolt sensed the MH-6M was sliding left, not keeping pace with the Queen Mary's forward speed.
With both gloved hands gorilla-gripping the nylon rope, Kolt hesitated. He looked down. His instincts were spot-on. His landing point wasn't fouled, just gone, and he was staring at the small whitecaps on the right tip of the bow illuminated by the distant moon.
Kolt wasn't sure if the SEAL had successfully dropped or if he had slipped off the end of the rope and fallen into the sea. But he did know a drifting Little Bird over a moving ship was fairly common. Weeks would make the fine adjustments and get them back over the correct insert point. No drama. Kolt held what he had.
"Twister's Lame Duck, Lame Duck!" Weeks calmly transmitted.
Kolt froze. What the hell?
Excerpted from One Killer Force by Dalton Fury. Copyright © 2015 Dalton Fury. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
Not as good as Black Site but still a great read
A Great and Intense Read. I was a First Read Winner of this book, and though I rarely like to jump into the middle of a series, the synopsis had me intrigued and I was not dissapointed. I was able to enjoy it without being lost, though I have to say I would like to read the previous books in the series just to get to know the characters better and learn more about their prior missions. This book had my attention from page one and I was at the edge of my seat almost all the way through, it was full of suspense, lots of action and complex characters you can cheer for, plus I learned a thing or two about special ops missions. If you like military thrillers than this is the series for you. I can't wait to see what will happen next.