V Plague (Book 11): Merciless, page 1
V Plague Book Eleven
Text Copyright © 2016 by Dirk Patton
Copyright © 2016 by Dirk Patton
All Rights Reserved
This book, or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the copyright holder or publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in a critical book review.
Published by Voodoo Dog Publishing, LLC
2824 N Power Road
Mesa, AZ 85215
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2016
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, brands, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Also by Dirk Patton
Sample of 36
Also by Dirk Patton
The V Plague Series
Unleashed: V Plague Book 1
Crucifixion: V Plague Book 2
Rolling Thunder: V Plague Book 3
Red Hammer: V Plague Book 4
Transmission: V Plague Book 5
Rules Of Engagement: A John Chase Short Story
Days Of Perdition: V Plague Book 6
Indestructible: V Plague Book 7
Recovery: V Plague Book 8
Precipice: V Plague Book 9
Anvil: V Plague Book 10
Merciless: V Plague Book 11
36: A Novel
Thank you for purchasing Merciless, Book 11 in the V Plague series. If you haven’t read the first ten books you need to stop reading now and pick them up, otherwise you will be utterly lost as this book is intended to continue the story in a serialized format. I intentionally did nothing to explain comments and events that reference books 1 through 10. Regardless, you have my heartfelt thanks for reading my work and I hope you’re enjoying the adventure as much as I am. As always, a good review on Amazon is greatly appreciated.
You can always correspond with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and find me on the internet at www.dirkpatton.com and follow me on Twitter @DirkPatton and if you’re on Facebook, please like my page at www.facebook.com/FearThePlague .
Thanks again for reading!
Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries
Fall Out Boy – Centuries
“What do you want?” Russian Admiral Chirkov asked.
Packard smiled a tight smile when he heard the question.
“All Russians off US soil immediately. Full withdrawal of your military to within your borders and a cessation of all hostilities. If I so much as think I hear a submarine coming shallow to launch a missile, I’ll rain fire on you until there’s not a fucking thing left. And turn that goddamn plane around that’s carrying Major Chase. I want him back on US soil. Now!”
There was a loud click followed by a brief electronic squeal.
“What happened?” Admiral Packard asked the comms specialist.
“He disconnected, sir,” the woman answered.
His face clouded over in anger as he turned to Jessica.
“Seaman. Load the next four targets into the system, but hold for my order,” he barked.
“Aye, sir. Next four targets are loaded and holding for your order,” Jessica answered smartly.
“Commander,” the Admiral snapped. “Are you tracking Admiral Chirkov’s plane?”
“Yes, sir,” the man answered immediately. “It departed McChord Air Force Base, near Seattle, two hours and eleven minutes ago. It was inbound to Oahu, but while you were speaking with the Admiral it turned. Currently, it is over the Pacific, nine-hundred miles southwest of Seattle.”
“Do we have any surviving assets in the area?” Packard asked.
“Both carrier strike groups were severely damaged and are not combat capable. The aircraft they launched diverted to Alaska or California, depending on their targets, after delivering their strike packages. They are currently on the ground at Edwards and Elmendorf Air Force Bases.”
“Scramble them,” Packard ordered.
“Aye, sir,” the Commander said, motioning to a Chief Petty Officer to transmit an alert. “Their orders?”
“Splash Admiral Chirkov’s plane. And force the one carrying Major Chase to land or return. Be sure they understand there’s an American on board and they cannot engage the aircraft.”
The Commander turned and leaned over the CPO’s station, quietly issuing specific instructions to be passed on to the fighter pilots. He finished quickly, all eyes turning to watch one of the large monitors at the front of the room. Within seconds, the two Air Force Bases were highlighted with blue, pulsing dots.
Only a few minutes later, two adjacent screens changed to show satellite views of both locations as Navy jets streaked down the runways and into the air. Two squadrons from Edwards, in California, turned north. A large KC-135 tanker was already orbiting and they quickly queued up and refueled.
Tanks topped off, they spread out as the pilots shoved the throttles to the firewall. Rings of white vapor appeared around each aircraft as one by one they broke the sound barrier in pursuit of the plane carrying Russian Admiral of the Fleet, Chirkov. Over the frozen forests of Alaska, two more squadrons rocketed to the northeast. Chasing the plane carrying the Major.
“Sir, the flight leader of the squadron in pursuit of Major Chase’s plane is asking for clarification of his orders. If they are unable to force the plane to turn around or land, are they to allow it to continue into Russian airspace?”
Packard drew a deep breath and held it as he thought. He had started his career in the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom, flying bombing missions over the jungles of Viet Nam. Had been within a month of forced retirement when the attacks had occurred. He’d battled Russian Migs, flown by North Vietnamese pilots. He’d been shot down and spent two years as a guest at the Hanoi Hilton. More than anyone, he knew how difficult it could be to force another aircraft to do something when you couldn’t use your weapons.
“Put the flight leader on speaker,” Packard finally said.
A moment later, the roar from inside the cockpit of an F-18 filled the room at Pearl Harbor. The Commander informed the flight leader that CINCPACFLT actual wanted to speak with him.
“Lieutenant Commander Hervis, sir,” the Commander said to Packard in a quiet voice, letting him know the pilot’s name.
“Commander, can you hear me?” Packard asked loudly, making sure the microphone could clearly pick up his voice.
“Affirmative, sir. Five by five.”
“Commander, I realize the difficult situation I’m putting you in. Sending you into a hairy situation with your hands tied behind your back. However, you’re a Navy pilot. You and your flight are the smartest, most capable and best trained pilots in the world. I am confident you will succeed in forcing that Russian bastard to land or turn around.
“I do not want you to lose sight of the fact that there’s an American Army Major on board that plane. He’s one of us, and I’ll be goddamned if the fucking Russians are going to get to keep him. However, you cannot fire on that aircraft and risk his life. Whatever else you can do is authorized. Am I clear?”
“Crystal, sir,” the pilot answered.
“One final thing, Commander. You are not to sacrifice yourself or one of your men. We’re not trading a life for a life. Do what you have to, but bring everyone home.”
“Yes, sir. Understood.”
“Godspeed, Commander,” Packard said, then made a slashing gesture across his throat to tell the comms specialist to cut the connection.
It was quiet in the room for a few moments as everyone absorbed what the Admiral had just said. As much as they all wanted the Major safely returned, they recognized and understood the orders Packard had issued. Those of them that had been in combat also understood that the pilots would ignore their own safety to rescue their fellow American.
“How long to intercept?” Packard asked.
“Eighty-eight minutes to Admiral Chirkov’s plane, two hours and three minutes to the aircraft carrying Major Chase,” the Tactical Action Officer (TAO) answered immediately.
“What’s the Major’s location?”
“The Russian plane is flying a great circle route, sir. From Idaho, they headed north, northeast. Over Canada to approach the pole and curve over northern Greenland to reach Moscow. At the moment, it’s approaching the Northwestern Passage.”
“Where will we intercept?”
“Estimated point of intercept is over Baffin Bay. That’s if they remain unaware of our pursuit and do not change their heading or speed.”
“Very well. Commander, I’m going to step out for…”
Packard was cut off by a shout from Jessica who was intently watching a monitor on her station.
“Sir! I’ve got movement on the ground at target Alpha Seven!”
Packard and the Commander rushed to her station to see the screen. She was looking at an image from a satellite over Russia, zoomed onto a seemingly empty stretch of the vast steppes that stretched to the east of Moscow.
At first, the Admiral didn’t see anything, then a glint of light caught his eye. A large, multi-wheeled truck was slowly emerging from underground, driving up a gently sloping ramp from where it had been hidden beneath the featureless terrain. A long trailer with a fat missile was being pulled into the open.
“What’s Alpha Seven?” He asked Jessica.
“High probability nuclear, sir,” she answered. “The location was identified and tagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency two years ago.”
“Can you target and deliver a Thor payload before they can launch?”
“Unknown, sir. I don’t know the specs on the missile, so I can’t estimate how long it will take them. But I can sure try.”
Jessica’s fingers were already flying across her keyboard. In less than a minute, she received confirmation that one of the orbiting Thor satellites had locked on to the target and was ready to release one of its rods.
“System calculates eleven minutes, twenty-three seconds to impact,” she reported.
“Release authorized,” Packard said.
Jessica sent the command, a few moments later confirming that the weapon was on its way to the target.
“Any other indications of preparations to launch?” Packard asked the room in general.
Several different operators answered that they weren’t seeing any attempts by the Russians to retaliate for the previous Thor strikes. He shook his head, not understanding why only one missile was being prepared.
On his order, the view of the Russian soldiers scrambling to launch their weapon was transferred to one of the larger screens. Everyone watched as the truck-mounted launcher slowly raised the nose of the missile.
“Can you guess at a target?” He asked.
“I’ll try, sir,” Jessica answered.
She opened a fresh window and began running calculations. As she worked, the crew began inputting targeting coordinates into the missile’s launcher. The Admiral checked the countdown clock, wishing the Thor rod would fall faster. Seven minutes remaining.
“This is just a best guess, sir,” Jessica said, sitting back and looking up at Packard. “But based on the initial trajectory, it appears they’re targeting us.”
“Only one? That doesn’t make sense,” Packard said in surprise.
“Maybe, sir. I’m sorry but it’s very difficult to calculate with the missile still on the launcher. All I can do is extrapolate from the initial direction it is pointing and the angle of the launcher. I’m not familiar with the weapon and do not know its range or capability for in-flight trajectory adjustments.”
“Actually, sir,” the Commander interjected. “It does make sense if they aren’t aware we’ve identified this launch site. With our degraded surveillance capabilities, if it wasn’t being watched, that missile could be in the air and nearly on top of us before we detected it.”
The Admiral fell silent at that point. Rooted in place, he intently watched as the Russians completed readying the missile. A check of the clock showed less than two minutes remaining to impact.
One of the technicians completed his work, closing the access panel that protected the launcher’s computer interface with the missile. He turned and sprinted away with two other soldiers, disappearing down the ramp beneath the ground. A single man remained, and he reached out with a large key.
Inserting it into a lock on the trailer, he turned it 180 degrees. Several sets of restraining arms folded away from the body of the weapon. He had just completed the final step in preparation for launch. Turning away, he began running for the tunnel, stopping and looking directly up before he reached the shelter. To the people in Pearl Harbor it seemed as if he was looking directly into the satellite camera.
“What’s he doing?” Someone asked quietly.
“The Thor rods are hypersonic,” the Commander explained without taking his eyes off the screen. “It’s much closer than the shockwaves it’s creating, but he still hears it coming. It probably sounds like the atmosphere is being ripped apart.”
The man suddenly looked over his shoulder, then sprinted for the underground shelter. Vapor and smoke began to appear, obscuring the launcher from view. An instant later, as the Russian reached the safety of the tunnel, a brilliant bloom of fire appeared and the missile streaked off the rails of the launcher.
A second later, the Thor rod arrived. There was a brief, intense flash of light as it struck the ground and penetrated the surface. Traveling at greater than six kilometers per second, the 18,000-pound tungsten rod released all of its kinetic energy into a single, massive explosion.
Jessica widened the view as dust and debris filled the air at the target location. A scale embedded in the display indicated they were viewing a two hundred kilometer area of the Russian steppes. The concussion from the detonation raced out from the point of impact, picking up more dirt and blasting it into the atmosphere. A secondary explosion was briefly visible, then all that remained to be seen was the top of a dirty brown, mushroom cloud as it boiled skyward.
“Confirm the missile was destroyed by the shockwave, sir,” a console operator reported to the Admiral.
“Seaman, you have aut
“Yes, sir,” Jessica acknowledged, fully understanding the level of trust Packard was placing in her by pre-authorizing the utilization of the weapon at her discretion.
The Russians started going ape shit several hours into the flight. I had no idea how long we’d been airborne. I’d been picked up by a Russian helicopter and flown to an airfield where I’d been transferred to a hulking Antonov jet. Once aboard and in flight, the exhaustion from the past few days caught up with me. Between the warm air from the cabin heater and the lulling monotone of the engines, I’d fallen asleep.
I had been awakened when there was a loud announcement over a speaker bolted to the ceiling of the plane. I didn’t stand a chance in hell of understanding the rapid fire, emotionally laced Russian voice. Looking around at the four Spetsnaz soldiers guarding me, I could tell from their expressions that something significant had just happened. But good or bad?
Good, for the US, I surmised a moment later when one of them leaned out and slammed the stock of his rifle into the side of my head. The high-impact plastic opened another cut on my already savaged skull and blood began running down my neck and underneath my collar.
“What’s the matter, Ivan? Bad news from home?” I grinned, earning a big right fist to the face.
More blood. In and on my mouth. You’d think by the time I’d gotten to be as old as I am, I’d have learned not to poke the bear. Well, sometimes that smart-ass teenager that’s buried deep inside just has to come out.
The only officer present, other than the flight crew, barked at the soldiers. They had been getting to their feet, probably intent on beating me even more senseless than I already am. But the Major’s tone of voice didn’t leave any room for questions and they resumed their seats and settled for shooting me dirty looks.
Not the kind of dirty looks you might get from the bully in the locker room or on the playground. No, these were full grown, very dangerous men. They didn’t have anything to prove. When they stared at someone like this, it only meant one thing. I am going to fuck you up so bad your own mother won’t recognize you.
DIRK PATTON SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Precipice: V Plague Book 9Days Of Perdition: Voodoo Plague Book 6V Plague (Book 13): ExodusRecovery: V Plague Book 8Voodoo Plague (Book 10): AnvilCrucifixion - 02Fractured: V Plague Book 1536: A Novel
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