After losing his son in the September 11 attacks, wealthy industrialist Joseph Simpson forms the Intervention Force (IFOR) -- a surgical strike team led by former Navy SEAL Garrett Walker. Officially, the group is a rogue operation with no government affiliation. But when the impossible becomes absolutely necessary, IFOR is...
THE MERCENARY OPTION
Shortly after the terror attacks on America, the American president announces the construction of an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. To stop this, and deter further Western encroachment in Central Asia, a vindictive Saudi prince retains ex-KGB terror broker Pavel Zelinkow -- a prime mover behind al Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Zelinkow plans to steal two nuclear weapons, detonating one of them among the pipeline construction crews and their military guardians, while the target of the second bomb is a mystery. U.S. special operations forces cannot be used against the terrorists hiding in Iran, so IFOR is called into action for the first time on a mission that will test them to their limits: take out the terrorists, recover the nukes, and get Zelinkow -- dead or alive.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Mercenary Option by Dick Couch
A tall, sparse man stepped slowly from the limousine. A blowing northeaster tugged at his thick, well-groomed hair, occasionally pulling the silver thatch away from his ample forehead. It had snowed the previous night, but much of that had melted, leaving scattered patches of soggy, wheat-colored grass pushing through the icy crust. Light rain and large flakes now slanted down from the brooding sky. A somber, well-tended man in an expensive topcoat and bowler hovered at the tall gentleman's elbow.
"This way, please, Mr. Ambassador."
He proffered a large umbrella and, walking slightly ahead, led his charge from the limousine up a shallow rise through several rows of granite markers. Another man, a clone of the one with the umbrella, quietly closed the door of the limo and followed a few steps back. Barnett & Sons had handled these affairs for the Boston Brahmins for close to two centuries. The firm was by no means an inexpensive funeral director, and had the reputation of always being discreet and thorough. Joseph Simpson, former Ambassador to Russia, now made his home on Martha's Vineyard, but he was still considered a Bostonian. Barnett & Sons had known of the death well before most in Boston; they made it their business to know when there was a death in a wealthy or important family. When the call from Simpson's office came, they asked a few polite questions and then quietly set themselves to making the arrangements.
Joseph Simpson was an impressive man in his late fifties. Normally, he exuded confidence and authority, but not today. His features were drawn, and his blue eyes, usually sharp and highly focused, were now clouded and myopic. He moved stiffly, as if with great difficulty, and he looked old and vulnerable. If Simpson seemed lost and lacking direction, the man from Barnett & Sons did not. He guided Simpson to the open grave and stepped quietly to one side. The careful distribution of artificial turf around the rectangular opening in the earth did nothing to blunt the coldness or finality of its purpose.
At Simpson's request, there had been a simple burial mass and now a small graveside ceremony at the family plot. There was no striped awning to protect close friends and business associates of the bereaved. They gathered around the grave site under a sea of umbrellas. Moments later, Simpson was joined by a stunning young woman, dressed in black. She stood near Simpson, but not too close, and clung to the arm of another man who bent to comfort her. Then six men, all but one in their mid-thirties, struggled forward with a polished walnut coffin and slid it onto a trolley at the foot of the grave. After they had joined the band of mourners, two Barnett men guided the casket smoothly over the opening. With a faint creaking, the nylon lowering straps took the strain. For several moments, the water-beaded wooden box claimed their attention. Then an elderly priest at the head of the grave cleared his throat.