When an inexplicable wave of energy slammed into North America, millions died. In the rest of the world, wars erupted, borders vanished, and the powerful lost their grip on power. Against this backdrop, with a conflicted U.S. president struggling to make momentous decisions in Seattle and a madman fomenting rebellion in Texas, three women are fighting their own battles--for survival, justice, and revenge.
Special agent Caitlin Monroe moves stealthily through a South American jungle. Her target: a former French official now held prisoner by a ruthless despot. To free the prisoner, Caitlin will kill anyone who gets in her way. And then she will get the truth about how a master terrorist escaped a secret detention center in French Guadeloupe to strike a fatal blow in New York City.
Sofia Peiraro is a teenage girl who witnessed firsthand the murder and mayhem of Texas under the rule of General Mad Jack Blackstone. Sofia might have tried to build a life with her father in the struggling remnants of Kansas City--if a vicious murder hadn't set her on another course altogether: back to Texas, even to Blackstone himself.
Julianne Balwyn is a British-born aristocrat turned smuggler. Shopping in the most fashionable neighborhood of Darwin, Australia--now a fantastic neo-urban frontier--Jules has a pistol holstered in the small of her lovely back. She is playing the most dangerous game of all: waiting for the person who is hunting her to show his face--so she can kill him first.
Three women in three corners of a world plunged into electrifying chaos. Nation-states struggling for their survival. Immigrants struggling for new lives. John Birmingham's astounding new novel--the conclusion to the series begun in Without Warning and After America--is an intense adventure that races from the halls of power to shattered streets to gleaming new cities, as humanity struggles to grasp its better angels--and purge its worst demons.
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April 10, 2012
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Excerpt from Angels of Vengeance by John Birmingham
FORMER URUGUAYAN-ARGENTINIAN BORDER REGION, SOUTH AMERICAN FEDERATION
Staff Sergeant Michelle Royse of the U.S. Army's much diminished 160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion, scanned the northern banks of the river delta as the Black Hawk pounded up the narrowing channel over dark, choppy waters. Through her night vision goggles, the slightly fuzzy green imagery of heavily wooded banks was blurred even further by the shuddering of the helicopter as it roared along above the wave tops. A solid nor'easter was blowing directly up the mouth of the river, adding an extra thirty knots to their airspeed but demanding extreme levels of concentration from Captain Tim Lindell and his copilot as they guided the chopper through hostile, if poorly guarded, airspace. Far behind them, no one paid their improvised helicopter carrier much mind--a battered and rusty container vessel salvaged from Mexico. Royse didn't like to ponder what would have happened if the vessel had been detected by the South American Federation Navy.
Hell, probably not much to worry about, she consoled herself. It's just a paper navy at best. Most of their top ships laid up in docks anyhow, just rusting away.
A bit like the U.S. Navy nowadays, she thought.
Lindell had not spoken for five minutes, which still made him a hell of a lot chattier than their passenger: the spook. Michelle knew the woman had to be a spook because in spite of the faded summer-weight BDUs she wore, the kit they had loaded for her was all high-spec exotic stuff, the sort of gear the military simply couldn't afford nowadays. No way the army or SOCOM was running this operation. They were just providing a bus service for some ghost recon superwoman who'd drifted down from far above the upper reaches of the tier-one food chain.
Michelle snuck a sideways glance at the passenger. The woman wasn't unfriendly, not like some of the ego monsters she'd met while shuttling T1 operators around. But she was entirely self-contained; she spoke only when necessary and had a way of discouraging questions without actually asking you to mind your own business. She stood maybe an inch taller than Michelle, but even in her BDUs, body armor, webbing, and equipment, she seemed . . . well, not slighter--perhaps more wiry. There was a tightly wound intensity about this spook that made being in her presence distinctly uncomfortable. Impossible to guess her age under all that kit, but Michelle thought maybe early to middle thirties. The woman's physique looked totally ripped, but her eyes were old beneath a stray lock of dirty blond hair.
Royse looked away quickly as their mystery passenger shifted position. She was happy enough to attend to her duties while Jane Bond sat in a furious still-life study of cold impacted rage.
For the moment, those duties mostly involved scanning the shore- line north of the river. Nothing appeared to move out there on what once had been the Uruguayan side of the border. Not now, though. Now it was all part of la Federaci�n. A few bright emerald pinpricks of light burned in a cluster about ten miles inland, but the shoreline was dark. The Black Hawk banked gently a few degrees to the northeast, taking them over land for the first time. Michelle craned her head to peer over her shoulder into the cabin, which glowed like a child's idea of a fairy cave in her night vision goggles. Far ahead of them, she could make out a faint dome of opalescent light on the horizon, marking the location of the Federation Navy's fleet base.
She would have sneered at the vanity of the pompous title "fleet base" if not for the fact that their own aircraft was held together with hundred-mile-an-hour tape, bailing wire, and promises and that most of the U.S. military bases she'd flown out of in the close to five years since March 2003 had all suffered from the same air of neglect and making do. Salvaged gear left exposed to the elements or in compromised warehouses and storage depots took you only so far.
Yep, two paper tigers staring each other down in a burning barn--that's the world of tomorrow. What a fucking joke.
"Five minutes to insertion."
Captain Lindell's voice barely registered in her earphones over the roar of the engine and the deep thrumming bass note of the chopper blades. It was as though the tension had strangled his voice down to a clenched murmur. Royse held up her hand with all five fingers splayed and nodded at the spook. She was already preparing herself but nodded back, anyway. Michelle had watched the woman take inventory of her load before they lifted off from the container ship, three hundred miles off the coast. She watched her repeat the performance now that they were almost at their destination.
A minute later, obviously having reassured herself that she had not forgotten her passport, wallet, or Gerber Mark 2 fighting knife, the woman closed her eyes and let her head loll back until her helmet touched the bulkhead behind her. It was the first human gesture, the first intimation of weakness, or fear, or exhaustion that Michelle had seen her make, and as quickly as it came, it passed. Her head snapped back up. Her eyes blinked once.
"Two minutes out."
The woman chambered a round in her HK417, a metallic Kerrchung that never failed to lay a cold finger at the base of Royse's spine. The 5.56-mm HK416s she had seen here and there, but the 417 with the heavier 7.62-mm round had been a rumor until tonight. The spook's brand-new Heckler & Koch was another sign that she wasn't your standard issue self-loving spec-ops asshole whispering, "For I am the baddest motherfucker in the valley." No piece-of-shit M16 or M4 for this chick.
Fuck it, she figured. Another day, another dollar.
Michelle readied herself at the door, training the electric M134 mini- gun over the treetops, which rippled beneath her feet at 140 knots. Her knees bent to compensate for the sudden twisting, diving flight path as Lindell began to track the nap of the earth, heading for a small clearing marked on their maps as Objective Underwood.
The Black Hawk pivoted, seeming to turn on a dime, as if Lindell were trying to throw them both out the rear hatch by way of momentum. The woman braced herself against the bulkhead, holding tight to a grab bar over her right shoulder. Royse sank deeper into a squat until her knees were bent almost at right angles. Then the inertia bled away swiftly as they came to hover over a patch of field between two clusters of trees. Michelle checked the ground beneath them and reported that the aircraft was clear. She signaled to the woman to step forward and hook up.
The spook needed no help attaching herself to the fast-rope apparatus. Royse had one second to look into her eyes before she stepped out and dropped away into the night. The woman did not look scared, but there was something haunting her eyes. Something in the back of the deep, clenched lines that made her face appear unusually long and drawn in the low-light amplification of the NVGs.
One brief nod.