Ben Raines and his army won a war on two fronts, bringing law, peace, and prosperity to the Southern United States of America. But SUSA's northern neighbor and erstwhile enemy, the United States, is in chaos. And when a ferocious invader attacks the soft and crippled nation, Raines has no choice but to act!
Courageous warlord Abdullah El Farrar has risen up from the humiliated regions of the oil-rich Near East, unleashing a stunning attack against the once proud northern United States. No one in the Southern States is surprised that USA cannot defend its own land. But with northern citizens defecting by the thousands to El Farrar's forces, Raines can see the handwriting on the wall: his brave armies must go to war to save their enemy from itself.
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April 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Destiny in the Ashes by William W. Johnstone
Ben Raines sat at his desk, drinking his third cup of coffee of the morning, as his team members filed into his office. He'd called a staff meeting to discuss the latest intel on recent happenings in the USA.
Mike Post, his XO and Chief of Intel, took his customary seat next to Ben's desk, while Buddy Raines, Ben's son and heir to his command, sat on his left.
Cooper, known as Coop, was the next to enter, followed closely by Jersey, Ben's bodyguard. Coop had his left arm in a sling, courtesy of the final shoot-out in Mexico City a few months before.
The rest of Ben's team filed in and took seats around the large office, sprawling in comfortable chairs and sofas in no particular order.
After they were seated, Ben glanced at Coop's arm, then at Dr. Larry Buck, who'd taken over the previous year for Dr. Lamar Chase.
"Buck," Ben said, a wry smile on his lips, "how's Coop's arm coming along?"
Buck looked over at Coop and shook his head. "I can't understand it, Ben. All of the tests show the arm to be completely healed, but Coop still complains of stiffness and pain."
"Coop?" Ben asked, his eyebrows raised.
Coop assumed a pained look on his face. "I don't know, Ben," he said, moving the arm around in his sling. "It just doesn't feel right yet."
"Hah!" Jersey exclaimed, a look of derision on her face. "Coop's just playing it up to the hilt, Ben. He knows you've ordered us all to undergo extensive training exercises to keep in shape between hostilities, and he's using that old wound as an excuse not to run the obstacle course."
"I think a little refresher course in hand-to-hand combat might be just the thing to get the stiffness outta that arm," Harley Reno said, smiling at Coop.
"Aw, Ben," Coop complained, looking injured. "They're not being fair. I think it just needs a little more physical therapy and it'll be good as new."
Jersey's eyes narrowed. "Is that what you call it?" she asked. "Having that big, buxom Swedish nurse over at sick call rub around on you all day?"
"It is therapy," Coop said, glaring at Jersey. "Just ask Dr. Buck."
Buck shook his head, grinning. "I guess you could call it therapy, after a fashion," he said, "though Helga tells me the arm seems pretty strong to her, especially when she's trying to keep it away from various parts of her body."
"That settles it then," Ben said, laughing. "The sling comes off and Coop will take the physical training with the rest of the squad from now on."
Coop shook his head. "Traitors," he mumbled, removing the sling and stretching his arm, as if in pain.
"Now, Mike," Ben said to Mike Post. "Tell us about the latest intel from the USA."
Mike took his pipe from his mouth, tamped the tobacco a little with his index finger, then snapped a Zippo lighter and fired the pipe up.