The Mountain (Event Group Series #10)

The Mountain (Event Group Series #10)

by David L. Golemon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250057655
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Series: Event Group Series , #10
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 108,614
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author


David L. Golemon is the author of the Event Group Thrillers, including Event, Ancients, Leviathan and Primeval. Legend, the second book in the series, was nominated for a RITA award for paranormal fiction. Golemon learned an early love of reading from his father, who told him that the written word, unlike other forms, allows readers to use their own minds, the greatest special effects machines of all--an idea Golemon still believes. The only thing he loves more than writing is research, especially historical research, and he sees the subtext of his Event novels as being that understanding history allows us to create a better future. Golemon grew up in Chino, California, and now makes his home in New York.

Read an Excerpt

The Mountain

An Event Group Thriller


By David L. Golemon

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 David L. Golemon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-05763-1


CHAPTER 1

CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, D.C. SEPTEMBER 16, 2005

The eight members of the Senate Oversight Committee were stunned to silence. The same could be said for the press seated inside the crowded room. Even military officers were visibly shocked at the comment uttered moments before by the United States Army officer seated before the panel. As the room burst into chatter, several of the higher-ranking military men, mostly army officers, glared at the man seated at the table with his JAG attorneys and then angrily left the chamber. The U.S. Army lawyers were all still shaking their heads at his statement as the men implicated in the cover-up stormed out. After all, it wasn't every day that one of the official wunderkinds of the U.S. military so readily committed career suicide in front of the entire nation.

Senator James Kellum, head of the Joint Armed Services Committee, hammered the gavel several times to quiet the observers and guests.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I will clear this chamber if there is one more outburst like that. This is not a soap opera with good guys and bad guys. This is an investigation into the charges of misconduct by supreme command authority in a combat area. People's lives and careers are on the line here and I will not let these proceedings devolve into anarchy."

The C-SPAN cameras seemed to be locked on the tired and scarred face of the young army major sitting beside his JAG counsel at the table. The man didn't seem to hear the commotion that his last statement had unleashed. The major pursed his lips and shook his head as he must have been feeling his career slipping out from underneath the polished chair he was sitting in.

He calmly poured himself a glass of water from the decanter before him. He sipped from the glass and waited for the senator to regain control. On the television screens of millions of viewers nationwide the C-SPAN cameras had zeroed in first on the green beret that sat upon the tabletop and then the rows of ribbons on the left breast of his green uniform jacket. The camera's sharp eye focused on the first ribbon on the top row. It didn't look like much, but the powder-blue ribbon with five stars represented the Congressional Medal of Honor. The camera's lens lingered and then slowly moved to the heavily tanned face of the army major who wore it. Although he appeared unfazed, the few men and women who knew him also knew the major was dying moment by moment. The chamber finally became still as the last of the high-ranking officers left the room.

Major Jack Collins calmly waited for the hearing to continue.

The senator from Missouri broke in before the head of the committee could continue his line of questioning, which drew the ire of the representative from New York. "Major Collins, to clarify your last, rather harsh statement that the decision to alter the highly detailed plans of the assault were ordered from CENTCOM," he demanded as again the raised voices of questions sprang from the onlookers inside the chamber. "Can you explain why someone would override a battle plan that had already been approved by the commander of Central Command?"

The young major thought before he answered. He knew that the question was a loaded one that had been specially prepared by the only man on the committee whom Major Collins trusted, the senator from Missouri who had asked the question now so it could not be shunted aside by the oversight committee chair, Senator Charles Fennel of New York. Collins, without glancing at his fidgeting JAG representatives, leaned forward, as did half of the nation toward their television screens as he prepared to end not only his career but possibly many others in and out of uniform.

"The answer to your question, Senator, is not an easy one. It took me seven months to get to the truth after my assignment in Iraq was completed. By then the people responsible thought it would have been put to bed, or as they hoped, forgotten."

"From my understanding, the investigation into the debacle had been completed eight months before, soon after the events had taken place," the senator from Missouri noted. "Which was a little faster than I thought it should have been, but the results of that investigation did not sit well with you, am I correct in saying that, Major?"

"You are correct. When you're speaking about the lives of twenty-seven men — men who I trained, worked, and lived with, no sir, the investigation in my eyes fell far short of the truth."

The head of the armed services committee, James Kellum, was staring at his colleague from Missouri, as were the C-SPAN cameras. Everyone in the country could see that the senior man from New York was as angry as anyone had ever seen him.

"I'll ask you directly, Major, were numbers of Apache Longbow gunships and Blackhawk helicopters allowed for in the planning of Operation Morning Glory adequate for the mission to succeed?"

"In my original operational plan there were more than enough evac and support ships to cover all aspects of the mission in Afghanistan. Every soldier on that raid should have been lifted out safely from the area after the operation was complete."

"Yet almost two full squads of Special Forces personnel, including twelve Army Rangers, were" — the senator from Missouri looked down at his notes momentarily for emphasis to his question — "in your words, Major Collins, 'left on the deck' because of inadequate evac response. Is this more or less correct?"

"The plan called for all personnel to be evacuated at the same time. The Taliban insurgents have a bad habit of waiting for the initial first wave to lift off and then striking at those troops left uncovered in the LZ, or landing zone. That was why the extra Apache Longbows were allotted, the added firepower to assist those left on the ground until the second wave of evacuation Blackhawks lifted off the last of the rear guard. The second attack group of gunships never arrived. The Apaches that were there had RTB because of fuel concerns. My men were left out there with no air cover whatsoever with over three thousand Taliban insurgents in the mountains surrounding them."

"How many of the twenty-seven American boys made it off of that mountain, Major?" the senator asked as the chamber fell silent.

"None."

"Major, what happened to those men?" the senator continued.

"Six were taken alive into the mountains. We found their bodies three weeks after my return to Afghanistan."

"The rest?"

"The description of their condition the next morning is not something I will go into here. Suffice it to say these men were massacred."

"During your personal investigation what was it you uncovered in regard to the missing element of air cover on April 6, 2005?"

"That three Apache and six Blackhawks had been reassigned in my absence for escort duty by CENTCOM, not in Afghanistan but in Florida through MacDill Air Force Base."

Again the gavel silenced most of the shocked and angry people watching inside the chamber.

"The decision was not made in theater, but at MacDill? Is that unusual, Major Collins?"

"Highly. Someone at CENTCOM changed the orders on the logistics of Operation Morning Glory to provide security in another area of responsibility."

"And what area of responsibility is more important than the lives of twenty-seven American soldiers?"

Collins stayed silent as the head of the armed services committee grew red and he began to fume as he awaited the fall of the guillotine blade. Thinking now that this committee should never have been formed, and wouldn't have if that bastard from Missouri hadn't taken it to the press, Kellum slammed the gavel down again as he angrily silenced the room. The major looked from the tabletop to the man glaring at him from the center of the podium.

"The commanding general at MacDill changed the orders to provide security for a fact-finding inquiry from Washington on the conduct of operations in the Kabul area. This committee was escorted by the six Blackhawks and my three missing Apache Longbows. The area commander in Kabul ordered the helicopters to leave the investigative committee at a secure location and proceed on mission for dust-off of my men. The order was overridden from Kabul after the senators and committee complained about staying over in a small village. Because of their comfort concerns twenty-seven men won't be coming home."

It had been the former CENTCOM commander who had angrily left the chamber a few moments before when he realized Collins was not going to play the game. The threats to Collins and his career had not had the desired effect on the obstinate major.

"Major Collins, according to your investigation, what civilian personnel were involved in the fact-finding mission to Afghanistan that month?"

Collins looked straight at the head of the senate oversight committee. "Senator James Kellum and several civilian contractors from various corporations."

The gavel slammed on the table again as the room erupted. The senator from New York shot to his feet as the wooden gavel fought for order. "I pray you have proof of that statement, especially after the commanding general of CENTCOM cleared my committee of all of these rumors."

Collins smiled, reached down and retrieved his briefcase, and placed it on the table before him. The room hushed as Collins removed a plastic-covered sheet of paper. "Yes, Senator Kellum, I do have proof." Jack held up the paper and placed it on the desk before him. His JAG lawyers frowned as they all knew Collins had just officially ended his military career. "The order was issued by the commander of CENTCOM and countersigned by yourself, Senator."

That was it. The statement was out and entered into the official record. The first soldier to turn on a four-star general and the civilian senator who controlled the purse strings of the military. As the words and career of Jack Collins faded, the eruption inside the senate hearing chamber exploded into a cacophony of shouts and gasps. The major easily slid the memo over to the front of the table where a senate aid removed it for the committee as the room continued to erupt and Senator Kellum kept slamming down his gavel.


EVENT GROUP COMPLEX, NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEVADA

Almost a full mile beneath the sands of the abandoned World War II target range was an ancient underground sea that had vanished more than six million years before. All that remained was the largest cave system in the continental United States. While dwarfing the Carlsbad system of caves in New Mexico, the Nellis system was not a park or recreational site. The cave system was never placed in any registry of geological wonders like its sister in neighboring Mexico's desert, but had been kept secret since its discovery in 1922. The reason for this silence was rumored to have been built in 1943–1945 by the same men and women who had designed the new Pentagon building in Washington. Their final architectural drawings would never see the light of day in any public or federal planning office in the nation, though.

The cave system was home to the darkest organization in American governmental history. Department 5656 was officially a part of the U.S. National Archives and was more obscure than most aspects of the National Security Administration. The department, unofficially named the Event Group, was assigned the task of discovering the truth behind world history. To investigate how and why we got to where we were. To avoid mistakes of history so they could never be repeated. The head of this group now sat inside of his office on the seventh level of the complex that was situated above seventy-five more levels of archives, specimen vaults, and engineering and science laboratories.

The small, balding man looked over at the former head of the agency who was sitting across from his large desk. The tall man had a black eye patch over his right eye and his cane was propped against the director's desk. The bald man shook his head sadly as he watched the developments on C-SPAN. He looked across at the six-foot-six silver-haired man who had stayed on long after his official retirement four years before to assist in the daunting task of assisting the new director in navigating his way through the ins and outs of keeping the facility, its duty, and its personnel secret above all government agencies.

"So, I wonder who assisted Major Collins in obtaining that top-secret memo?" He smiled at his former boss and the man who had recruited him fifteen years before. "I suspect it had to have been someone who knows where to find such things inside the Washington trash heap."

Former United Sates Senator Garrison Lee of Maine smiled and shook his head in the negative.

"Nah, my days on the Hill, absconding with the secrets of others, have long been over."

"How about the old OSS days? You still know how to get things others don't."

"The Office of Strategic Services would have resented that statement. We were as honest as the day was long, Director Compton."

"Uh-huh, just like its little bastard offspring the CIA?"

Garrison Lee laughed as the double doors to the office opened and a woman with silver hair and gold-rimmed glasses hanging from a chain entered. Alice Hamilton, assistant to the director of the Event Group, came toward the desk and placed a file on the top.

"There you go. The major's orders have been cut and the president has signed off on them."

Garrison Lee reached out and picked up the flimsy set of papers. "You don't know how many favors I had to give up to get that signature. The president is not real happy with our Major Collins."

"I wonder why," Alice said, never afraid to speak her mind, especially after serving with the Group almost as long as Lee himself. In fact, speaking her mind was just why she was retained by the newest director of Department 5656, Dr. Niles Compton.

"Well, the president's and the army's sad demeanor toward one of its own means that we get the man we wanted all along." Lee stood and with the assistance of his cane walked toward the far wall to pour himself a cup of coffee. "Did you put in the correct date of Major Collins's arrival in Nevada?"

"Yes, as you requested. He has the needed time off — two weeks to think about what a mess his career's in should allow the major to at least listen to your pitch to join our underground ship of fools," Alice Hamilton said as she headed for the double doors, but she stopped before opening them and turned to both men. "But you better be careful just what it is you wish for, gentlemen, because this Major Collins is unlike any soldier you have ever met. I mean, what other officer would throw it all away out of principle and dedication to his fallen men? I would think that would make him dangerous to bureaucrats like yourselves."

Alice smiled, batted her eyelashes as was her irritating trait, and then left the large office. She hoped that they understood that they were about to deal with a career officer who was shockingly, to the army's dismay, a man of deep convictions on the right and wrong of things. It was what they were looking for, and the two men in the office knew they were just like Major Jack Collins; therefore they were comfortable with their choice.

"That damn woman is as irritating now as when she worked for me," Garrison Lee said as he sat back down into his chair facing the director. "But she's right as always about one thing," Lee finished as he sipped his coffee.

"What is that?" Compton asked, really not wanting to know.

Lee smiled and placed his cup on the desktop. "Men like Major Jack Collins have a very low tolerance for people like us."

"You really mean people like me, don't you?" Compton asked.

"Not at all. But one thing I do know, if we hadn't interfered, Colonel Collins would have had this shit pile land right back on the president's desk as being ultimately responsible for the fiasco in Afghanistan. I'm just glad my old friend from Missouri changed his avenue of attack and left the president out of it."

"Your point?" Niles asked, getting a little nervous.

"Just the same as Alice's point, I guess. If the man was willing to bring down the president of the United States, do you think he would hesitate to do the right thing in this agency if we let him or his men down?"

"Well, you took a lot of years of research to find out just what kind of man he is. Now you know. With this new insight into the major's character, do you still want him to lead the security department?" Niles asked with a smirk.

"Absolutely."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Mountain by David L. Golemon. Copyright © 2015 David L. Golemon. 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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The Mountain 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I started this book, my first thought it was going to be a rehash of the Jack Collins becoming a member of the Group, and for the first few pages it was. Then the fun begins as Mr Golemon takes us back to the very beginnings of the Group as he has alluded to in all books. Truthfully for the first time in a long time I found myself totally involved in the story. What a great read, is it perfect, no, is it exciting, absolutely, I found myself checking thevpage numbers hoping beyond hope that the 483 page mark would change to a much higher number. Thank you David for a wonderful few days, my only wish is that your next novel will be just as mesmerizing and exciting as "The Mountain". Thank You again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! Didn't want to put it down. I was interested in all the characters. Hope to see more books of the event series coming out. Don't want it to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice to get some back story on jack but would have been nice to have the current day characters in the book a little more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesomness berween these covers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another Event Group Winner. Never a bad tale from this author. Major Collins deserves his place among fictional heroes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters were hard to keep straight for all but the epilogue. I hope Mr Golemon keeps to the present going forward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And I think this is my favorite so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago