Maverick USAF pilot Patrick McLanahan returns in a turbocharged new adventure packed with breathtaking flying action and cutting-edge technology. Pavel Kazakov, a Russian oilman with close ties to organized crime, has an audacious plan. Build a huge pipeline through the Balkans, get the Russian army to back him and everybody gets rich. He knows there will be an outcry, but he expects little military opposition. After all, the new US President has just vowed that America will no longer be the world's policeman. But Kazakov hasn't reckoned with Patrick McLanahan. The young Air Force general is sent on a mission deep into Russia to rescue a spy. And as events spin rapidly out of control, he will have to decide whether to obey his isolationist President - or to follow his instincts and create havoc...
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Former USAF captain Dale Brown was born in Buffalo, New York. He was still serving in the Air Force, as a navigator-bombardier, when he wrote Flight of the Old Dog, the first of his thirteen novels. His most recent are The Tin Man and Battle Born.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Zhukovsky Flight Research Center,
near Bykovo, Russian Federation
The next evening
Even with many high-intensity lights ringing the area, it was almost impossible to see the big transport plane through the darkness and driving snowstorm as it taxied over to its parking spot. Its port-side turboprop engines, the ones facing the terminal building, the honor guard, a small band, and a group of waiting people, had already been shut down, and as soon as the plane was stopped by ground crews with lighted wands, the other two engines were also shut down. The ramp suddenly became eerily quiet, the only sound that of a long line of hearses' wheels crunching on snow. On one side of the transport plane's tail, seventeen hearses waited; on the other side were seventeen limousines for the family members, plus several official-looking government vehicles. From the official vehicles, two men surrounded by security guards alighted and took places beside the honor guard.
The transport's cargo ramp under the tall tail motored down, and the receiving detail marched over and stepped up the ramp, as the first limousine pulled out of line and maneuvered over to receive its passenger. The band began to play a solemn funeral march. A few moments later, the receiving detail slowly wheeled out the first casket, draped with the flag of the Russian Federation. As the honor guard and officials saluted and lowered flags in respect, a woman clothed all in black, wearing a black veil under her black beaver pelt hat, stepped forward from the line of limousines and reached out with both hands to gently touch the casket in silent greeting, as if wishing to not to disturb its occupant but to welcome him home.
Then, suddenly, her grief turned to anger. She cried aloud in anguish, piercing the frigid, snowy evening like a gunshot. She pushed the attendants aside, then grasped the Russian Federation flag in her gloved hands, pulled it off the casket, flung it to the ground, and rested her right cheek on the smooth gray surface of the casket's lid, sobbing loudly. A young man, tall and clothed in black as well, held her shaking shoulders, eventually pulling her away from the casket as it was escorted to the waiting hearse. The young man tried to comfort and support the woman as he led her to her own waiting limousine, where other family members were waiting, but she pushed him away. The limousine drove off, leaving the young man behind. The commander of the escort detail picked the flag up off the snow-covered ramp, quickly folded it, and gave it to one of the limousine attendants, as if unsure of what to do with it now.
The young man remained behind. He watched silently as the remaining sixteen caskets were escorted out of the big transport plane and placed into their hearses, and he remained, ignoring the snow falling heavier and heavier, after all the limousines, the escort detail, and the color guard had departed. None of the other family members spoke to the officials, and they did not attempt to speak with the family members. The officials returned to their limousines as soon as the last hearse drove away.
The young man saw he was not alone. A tall, distinguished-looking older gentleman, also in a black fur beaver-pelt hat and rich-looking sealskin coat, stood nearby, tears running unabashedly down his cheeks. They looked at each other across the snow-obscured ramp. The older man approached the younger and nodded politely. "Spakoyniy nochyee, bratam," he said in greeting. "K sazhalyeneeyoo. Kak deela?"
"I've been better," the younger man replied. He did not offer his hand in greeting.
"I'm sorry for your loss," the older man said. "I am Dr. Pyotr Viktorievich Fursenko. I lost my son, Gennadi Piotrievich, in Kosovo."
"I am sorry," the young man murmured. There was a glimmer of recognition in his eyes.
"Thank you. He was a lieutenant, one of the security officers. He had been in the army only eight months, and in Kosovo only two weeks." No other comment from the young man, so Fursenko went on: "I assume the unit commander, Colonel Kazakov, was your father?" The young man nodded. Dr. Fursenko paused, looked at the younger man, waiting for an introduction, but none was forthcoming. "And that was your mother, I assume?" Again, nothing. "I am sorry for her as well. I must tell you, I can't help but agree with her sentiments."
"Her anger at Russia, at the Central Military Committee, at the general state of our country in general," Fursenko said. "We can't seem to do anything right, even help our comrades hold on to a tiny republic in the backwaters of the Balkans."
The younger man glanced over at Fursenko. "How do you know I'm not an internal security officer or MVD, Doctor?" he asked. The MVD, or Ministry of Internal Affairs, conducted most government intelligence, counterintelligence, and national police activities inside the Russian Federation. "You could be investigated for what you just said."
"I don't care-let them investigate me, imprison me, kill me," Fursenko said, his voice filled with despair. "They are undoubtedly better at killing their own people than protecting their soldiers in Kosovo or Chechnya." The young man smiled at that comment. "My research center was torn down, my industry that I have worked in for twenty-five years has all but closed down, my parents are gone, my wife died a few years ago, and my two daughters are somewhere in North America. My son was all I had left." He paused, looking the younger man up and down. "I would say that you could be MVD or SVR as well." The SVR was the new name for the KGB, which conducted most foreign intelligence activities for Russia but was free to act inside the country as well. "Except I think you are dressed a little too well."
"You are a very observant man," the young man said. He regarded Fursenko for a moment, then extended a hand, and Fursenko accepted it. "Pavel Gregorievich Kazakov."
"Pleased to meet-" Fursenko stopped suddenly, then squinted his eyes. "Pavel Kazakov? The Pavel Kazakov?"
"I am very impressed by what you are doing at Metyor, Doctor Fursenko," Kazakov remarked, his voice deep and insistent, as if silently urging Fursenko not to dwell on what he had just figured out.
"I ... I ..." Fursenko took a moment to regain his composure, then went on "Thank you, sir. It is all due to you, of course."
"Not at all, Doctor," Kazakov said. "Metyor is a fine group." Most large privatized companies in the Commonwealth of Independent States belonged to organizations called IIGs, or Industrial Investment Groups, similar to corporations in the United States. IIG members were usually banks, other IIGs, some foreign investors, and a few wealthy individuals, but the primary member of any IIG was the Russian government, which controlled at least twenty percent but sometimes as much as ninety percent of any venture, and therefore had ultimate control. Metyor was one of the lucky ones: only thirty percent of the IIG was owned by the government. "And I am familiar with your old venture, the Soviet aircraft design bureau in Lithuania called Fisikous."
It was Fursenko's turn to look uncomfortable, which pleased and intrigued Kazakov. In conducting his due-diligence before investing in any new company, especially a troubled but high-tech concern like Metyor, Kazakov always put his extensive private intelligence operatives, most of them former KGB, to work learning all there was to learn about the previous holdings of the IIG, which in this case was a research and development institute called Fisikous. What he had found out was nothing short of astounding.
The Fisikous Institute of Technology had been an advanced aircraft and technology research facility in Vilnius, in what was then the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, now the independent Republic of Lithuania on the eastern end of the Baltic Sea. Fisikous had been on the cutting edge of Soviet aircraft design, attracting the brightest engineers from all over the Soviet Union and the non-aligned nations. The big name at Fisikous had been a young scientist named Ivan Ozerov, who'd been the resident low observable technology-stealth-expert. No one knew anything about Ozerov, except that in a short time at Fisikous, under the direct supervision of the chief of the facility, Pyotr Fursenko, and another man who most suspected was KGB, he'd become the number-one design expert in all of the Soviet Union. Ozerov was brilliant, but weird and unpredictable, occasionally launching into wild tirades in English at the slightest provocation or agitation. Scientists there had long suspected Ozerov of being either on LSD or simply psychotic-he was far more than just eccentric. But there was no question that his work, especially on the incredible Fi-170 stealth bomber, had been nothing short of genius.
But there had been problems at Fisikous. The Baltic republic of Lithuania was driving toward independence from the Soviet Union, and Fisikous represented all that was bad about life under Soviet rule. Ivan Ozerov had disappeared during some kind of military action. Some said the American CIA or Special Forces had kidnapped Ozerov. Others said Ozerov had not been Russian but a captured American scientist, codenamed "Redtail Hawk," brainwashed right there at Fisikous by the KGB, and that the military action had really been a rescue mission. Even the Fisikous-170 stealth bomber, a one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand kilo warplane, had been stolen.
"When the Union collapsed, I went back to Russia to head up some other aerospace design bureaus," Fursenko went on. "I was going to retire or emigrate to the West, because the industry had all but disappeared in the Commonwealth. But when my wife died, I ... I stayed on ... well, mostly just to have something to do."
"I understand," Kazakov said sincerely. "I think that's important." "They had better kofye and romavaya babas in the labs than could afford as a pensioner anyway," Fursenko admitted with a faint smile. "There's not much money in Metyor, but we're doing important work, incredible things. I didn't mind not getting paid as long as I could keep on working and get real coffee. No offense, sir. It is rewarding work, but the pay is terrible."
"No offense taken. My mother made the best romavaya babas when I was a kid," Kazakov said. He sighed. "Now I think she would use a handful of them to choke me if she had the chance."
Fursenko didn't know what to say or do-he was afraid to smile, nod, or even move. He was very surprised and a bit wary after hearing the apparent warmth in Kazakov's voice-not something he had ever expected to hear at all. "I couldn't help but notice, your mother ... seemed rather upset at ... well ..."
"At me, yes," Kazakov admitted. "She does not approve of what I do."
"And at Russia also."
"She blames the Russian government for the sloppy way it supports our troops overseas," Kazakov said. "She blames me for everything else."
Fursenko definitely did not feel comfortable discussing this man's personal life-that was an area he had no desire whatsoever to explore. He extended his hand, and Kazakov took it warmly. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Gaspadeen-" Fursenko had used the more modern post-Union breakup, more "politically correct" term for "mister," but he automatically stopped himself, then said, "Tovarisch Kazakov." That was what most Russians had called each other back when there was a strong, fearsome, proud empire: Comrade.
Kazakov smiled and nodded approvingly. "My condolences for your loss, Tovarisch Fursenko."
"And to you, sir." Fursenko turned and quickly strode away, feeling very uncomfortable with that man knowing his name or even standing behind him.
Kazakov stood by himself on the ramp, reflecting on this very strange evening. First the death and return of his father in shame, without any honors; his mother's outburst and her rejection; and then this chance meeting with one of the Cold War's most famous and brilliant weapons designers. Pavel Gregorievich Kazakov didn't believe in fate-he wielded too much power to believe that anyone else decided your future-but there had to be a reason, some definite path, that this chain of events signaled.
At one time, Doctor Pyotr Viktorievich Fursenko had been considered the finest and most imaginative aerospace and electromagnetodynamics engineer in all of Europe. Since the age of thirty, he had been the director of several Soviet aircraft and weapon design bureaus, building the most advanced military aircraft, missiles, bombs, avionics, and components imaginable ...
At least, they had thought it was the best. Fursenko's word had been considered physics law until Ivan Ozerov had shown up at Fisikous. When Ozerov had started working at Fisikous, completely shattering the old beliefs and understandings, the Soviet scientists had realized exactly how far behind the United States they were on advanced warplane technology, especially low observable airframe, devices, systems, and counter-stealth technology.
This had only spurred Fursenko to even greater heights of genius. Even though the collapse of the Soviet Union meant the collapse of big, super-secret, well-funded agencies like Fisikous, it had also meant that Fursenko could travel and attend classes and seminars all over the world to learn more about modern warplane technology. When Ozerov had disappeared, probably back to whatever planetoid or genetic-engineering incubation tank had spawned him, Fursenko had again taken the lead in Russian aircraft and weapons design.
And now Kazakov knew where he was, had met him, and could even be called his boss-because Kazakov owned over sixty percent of Metyor Industrial Investment Group. The genius Fursenko had been at his disposal all this time, and he hadn't even know it! But how to take advantage of this development? His mind began racing....
Only when the cargo ramp was finally raised and the transport plane made ready to be towed back to its hangar did Kazakov finally turn toward the three government vehicles behind him, which had also remained.
The middle and left side cars suddenly started up and drove off, leaving one car behind. A guard in a dark suit, wearing a machine pistol on a strap, emerged from the remaining vehicle, a stretch limousine, and opened a door for the young man. Kazakov brushed snow off his shoulders, then removed and brushed snow off his hat, revealing a shaved head, and stepped inside. The door closed behind the young man with a heavy CHUNK! that revealed its heavily armored doors and windows. The limousine drove off.
Inside was one man, a military officer in his early sixties, seated on a side-facing seat. Before him was a communications console, complete with satellite transceivers and television and computer monitors. A very pretty uniformed female aide sat in the forward aft-facing seat, with a similar console before her. She glanced at the young man, gave him an approving half-smile, and returned to her work.
"You did no...
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Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800071098690000000
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0007109865
Book Description 2002-01-02., 2002. Book Condition: New. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. New Ed. Paperback. Book: GOOD. 588pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1712420
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110007109865