Fifteen miles off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada, a Soviet-era diesel submarine off-loads four men before being intercepted by a U.S. Navy vessel patrolling the area. The men make up a team of al-Qaeda-trained specialists skilled in the black arts of terrorist warfare and are headed by a man who has billions of dollars in oil money with which to indulge his murderous fantasies. What they do next will determine the fates of thousands of Americans.
Rod Eliot, an aging ex-con turned survival expert, stands between them and one of the most devastating plots ever hatched by the deviated mind of a killer: to blow up the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge and detonate enough plutonium to contaminate the area for decades. When an encounter with the bomb-toting terrorists occurs deep in the woods of the Upper Peninsula, Eliot finds himself in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with no alternative but to go head-to-head with these murderers. Rod may be the only person who can stop them. But he’s in over his head.
Due to Eliot’s checkered past, law enforcement officials have him pegged for the crimes that unfold over the next few days. Only one, a seasoned FBI agent who is on his trail, thinks Eliot is innocent and is willing to prove it.
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The North Atlantic rippled gently under a moonless sky, fifteen miles east off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. A frothy ripple preceded the rising of a black periscope. The periscope swiveled about tentatively for less than a minute before it began to rise swiftly. The conning tower beneath it emerged above the ocean like a mythical kraken, followed by the black steel hull of a Soviet-vintage diesel submarine. The vessel had been repainted flat black, and it bore no markings of any kind.
Water still streamed from the decks when a hatch amidships opened to emit a muted red glow that would be invisible from a hundred yards away. As soon as the hatch cover was fully open, four black-clad figures exited with trained precision. Each pushed a large black duffle bag onto the deck before leaping nimbly after it. It was obvious that the duffles were heavy.
When the four men had clambered onto the deck, they shouldered their bags, and ran a few steps to where a sixteen-foot Zodiac Bombard Commando assault boat waited, lashed to the sub's deck. Each man laid his bag in the center of the boat, securing it with straps and quick-release buckles before taking his place at each quadrant.
The small crew was barely seated when the submarine beneath them began to sink. With practiced smoothness, they pulled free the quick-release mooring knots at each corner, and the coxswain started the silenced 150 horsepower Mercury outboard. As soon as the submarine had descended below propeller depth, he gunned the throttle, swinging the Zodiac around with a muffled whine until the bow pointed west toward the Canadian shore. The pilot referenced a handheld Magellan GPS, adjusted their heading a few degrees, and then opened the throttle to full.
As they skimmed westward at more than thirty miles per hour, each man pulled his balaclava up over his mouth and nose to help ward off the North Atlantic chill. Based on previous dry runs, they had precisely thirty- four minutes before reaching their landing point. Time enough for each man in the boat to reflect on his own reasons for being there.
* * *
Twenty-eight-year-old Philippe Aziz was piloting the Zodiac. He was the driving force behind the whole operation — and the money that was making it happen. Born in Saudi Arabia to wealthy parents with oil-rich relatives in Syria, Jordan, and Kuwait, young Aziz had wanted for nothing throughout his youth. Being fantastically wealthy in an Islamic land gave him license to do virtually anything he desired; since puberty, girls, and boys of all ages had been his for the choosing. Once he had strangled to death a thirteen-year-old blond American girl who he had purchased off the white slave market — while he raped her. The memory of that experience gave him an erection even now. Aziz had known the power of a god, and he liked it.
But those pig-eating American bastards, with sins far greater than any that had ever been committed under the mantle of Islam, would ban his way of life. Under the pretenses of equality and fairness, America and its puppets would outlaw his noble culture that had existed for a thousand years, and turn his proud Muslim brothers into just more fat, lazy scabs on the ass of humankind. Already the United States had begun to entice some Muslim women into shirking their most fundamental and holy duty, to serve the needs of men, who, in fact, had always controlled the world, and — Allah willing — always would.
Aziz saw himself as a holy warrior. Allah had seen fit to test his faithful by bestowing superior weapons onto the Great Satan, so he and his brothers did not meet their enemy in open battles that they couldn't win. Instead, they fought the juggernaut United States as the Hebrew King David had battled mighty Goliath. With every airliner that they brought down, with every skyscraper they crushed, with every bomb in every crowded place, Aziz and his brothers-at-arms took a toll on the great evil that was America. The Prophet Muhammad had promised his faithful rewards and glory, even after death, but Philippe Aziz intended to have both while he still lived. He meant to return to the Middle East a hero of Islam.
Canadian-born, thirty-year-old Paul Richarde was an Al Qaeda-trained explosives expert and the team's guide through the wilderness forests of southern Canada and northern Michigan. Born to an unmarried sixteen- year-old Canadian girl in southern Ontario, Richarde, too, had grown up hating America. His birth father, whom he had never met, had been an American Coast Guard sailor. His mother, a young farm girl alone and unable to support herself and her baby, who was castigated by the people of her ultra-Christian home community, emigrated with her bastard son to Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, just across the border from an American town of the same name.
Growing up in the "Twin Soos" had been a nightmare for Richarde as a boy. With no street savvy and little sense to boot, his adolescent mother had been easy prey for petty criminals on both sides of the border. In almost no time, she had been lured into drug addiction. Crystal methamphetamines were plentiful from the Michigan side, where impromptu manufacturing took place in ramshackle mobile homes, and even in the rented motel rooms that dotted its sparsely populated, heavily forested Upper Peninsula. The Canadian government, for all its rhetoric about law and order, enabled its citizens to have access to virtually unlimited quantities of high-potency marijuana. Ironically, the alcohol that had killed his mother before she'd reached thirty-five years old had always been available and legal on both sides of the border. His mother was the reason her son wouldn't touch alcohol to this day.
Young Paul hadn't had much of a chance at life. At barely thirteen years of age, he'd come home from school one day to find four American sailors in the small apartment provided by his mother's pimp. Hard drug use had robbed his once pretty mother of her good looks, and she found herself having to perform ever more degrading sex acts just to make grocery money. The filthy American vermin he walked in on that day were using her like an animal, making her perform any sex act they desired. In shock, young Paul had tried to escape the naked free-for-all, but one of the sailors, a fat, hairy gorilla of a man with yellow-stained teeth had grabbed the boy's hand on the doorknob.
"Where ya goin' kid?" the sweat-beaded man slurred, with breath that stank of cigarettes and whiskey. "Don'tcha wanna join the party?"
Richarde was horribly sodomized and his screams for help went unanswered by his mother, as she pretended not to see the agony that was being inflicted on her only child. The fat sailor had scarred him emotionally and physically; he'd bled from his rectum for weeks afterward. The nightmares had gone on for years after that. Even now, he was suffering with painfully inflamed hemorrhoids that only made him hate Americans all the more.
Peter Grigovich was a thirty-three-year-old, Bosnian-born Canadian citizen whose parents had fled his homeland in 1993, when the once peaceful socialist republic of Yugoslavia had fragmented into ethnic and religious violence. His father had been a quality engineer for the Yugo car plant when the Soviet Union had collapsed under pressure from the United States, and with it fell the only stabilizing force in that part of the world. With no job and no prospects for the future in his homeland, the elder Grigovich had applied for a work visa to the United States, believing that he was a shoe-in for an engineering position at Ford or General Motors.
But that wasn't the case. The American automakers had refused to recognize his father's engineering degree from the University of Belgrade, and after six months, the State Department had refused to renew his work visa. For him, the land of the free had become a trap. Unable to return home to a country that no longer existed, his father had been imprisoned indefinitely in a windowless jail "pod" in the American Sault Sainte Marie with drug addicts and thugs, even though he'd never committed a crime in his life. His equally blameless mother had been imprisoned in another federal holding facility — Peter never found out where — while her ten-year-old son was sent to a foster home.
His foster parents were devout Baptists, strict to the point of being slightly abusive, and downright pious in their claim to a Christian life of self-denial, although it soon became clear to Peter that they applied their religious philosophies more often to him than to themselves. To them, he wasn't a little boy who needed love and guidance in a frightening new world; rather, he was a means of placating their own guilty consciences. When they ordered a pizza, he was allowed to eat only their discarded crusts. There was a padlock on the refrigerator; but his caseworker from the Department of Social Services seemed not to notice. He ran away once when he was fourteen years old, but there was nowhere to escape, and the American police who caught him had handcuffed his wrists so tightly that his thumbs still ached from nerve damage. Then they had held him in a filthy jail cell until his foster parents retrieved him two days later. He was punished physically and mentally by them for several months for that transgression. His foster parents actually told him that someday he'd thank them for the way they abused him. He never did.
When he turned sixteen years old, the State Department had deigned to award him US citizenship, but he was never allowed to forget that he was a second-class citizen. In school, his classmates dubbed him "Polack," even though he was almost entirely of Armenian descent. He was arbitrarily accused of every infraction by his teachers, and punished for the actions of other classmates, even when they were the culprits and he was innocent. At the only home he'd ever known, he was treated like an unwanted burden and severely punished for the most minor trespass. When he was eighteen years old, his pent-up anger found some release when he called his foster parents motherfuckers as he strode away from their door forever. With a deep hatred for them, and for Americans in general, he'd successfully applied for Canadian citizenship, and had been recruited soon after by Al Qaeda.
Timmons McBraden was a thirty-two-year-old American and the son of a retired sheriff in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He had grown up on Whitefish Point, fifteen miles from the shoreline of Ontario, across Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay. He hated his own countrymen for reasons that were different than those of his companions, but with a passion that was equally deep.
McBraden was the son of a single, alcoholic father who had used the law and the authority of his office like it was his own personal bludgeon. Even while he claimed to be enforcing it, the elder McBraden had always considered himself above the very law that he used to eliminate citizens that he didn't like. Lack of attention by the state government situated in Michigan's vastly more populated Lower Peninsula had allowed local Upper Peninsula governments to become kingdoms unto themselves, where the ruling elite pretty much had things their own way for generations.
In school, Timmons had been highly regarded among both classmates and faculty. He soon learned, however, that the respect he received from others wasn't for himself, but out of fear of his father. His grades were good, even when he didn't deserve them, and he came to expect preferential treatment in everything he did. He was made captain of the varsity football team in high school, even though his athletic prowess was mediocre. When he and his classmates had been busted for drinking beer and smoking pot after a game one night, he was driven home in a squad car, while his friends were booked and charged. When the father of one of his classmates protested the injustice, he served a year in the county jail for a felony that everyone knew he hadn't committed. He had since moved away.
After Timmons was graduated at the top of his class, he attended law enforcement training at Lake Superior State University — his father's idea, not his. Ironically, it was there that he'd tried mainlining heroin for the first time. After less than a year of college, he was inevitably arrested for drug possession, along with a dozen other students at a boisterous party. By that time, he was thoroughly addicted to heroin.
His father intervened again, and the matter was swept under the rug while he worked through his withdrawal at a private clinic in Indiana. The incident never made the local news, and even residents of his hometown were mostly unaware that he was a felon. But he was aware, and his father's perversion of the laws he had taken an oath to uphold was just another form of terrorism to him. His father had never been physically abusive to him, and he loved him as a parent, but he despised him for being a self-serving hypocrite.
* * *
The fast-moving Zodiac made the Canadian shore in less time than Aziz had anticipated. A dim red light flashed seaward from a covered boathouse when they were a mile offshore, telling Aziz precisely where to land the craft. Shining from inside a boathouse, the light would be invisible to anyone watching from land, and all but invisible to anyone at sea.
Aziz piloted their vessel expertly into the boathouse's opening, and then cut the motor. A low-intensity red light came on inside the enclosure, and a lithe young girl emerged from the shadows to grab the boat's bowline. The boat crew could see that the windows of the boathouse were blacked out with squares of cardboard as the girl deftly tied off the stern and bowlines.
Nineteen-year-old Brenda Waukonigon had become an expert at marine skills while fishing with her father on Lake Superior. A member of the Sault Ojibwa tribe, she'd learned the fine points of navigation and all- around seamanship while dragnetting for whitefish with her father on that huge freshwater sea. She was as skilled a commercial fisherman as any man she'd ever met, thanks to him.
Brenda had also learned to hate the white man — and Americans in particular. Her father, a callous-handed fisherman all his life, had been her greatest hero while she was growing up. Her mother had disappeared from their lives while Brenda was too young to remember her, and Brenda's father had never quite gotten over the broken heart she'd left him with. Amos Waukonigon drank a bit more than he should have, often crying to the shadows late at night in a drunken stupor. But he was up at the first light of dawn every morning, spreading and mending his nets. It was clear to anyone who saw them together that Brenda was his pride and joy.
One day, when she was fifteen years old, they'd come over to the Michigan side of Sault Sainte Marie to do some shopping, to take advantage of the lower prices offered in American stores. It was common for Canadians to still do that; in fact, the economy of the American Sault depended in large part on Canadian shoppers. While they were shopping that fateful day, Brenda and her father visited some old friends on the Ojibwa reservation near the village of Brimley.
It was on the reservation that they ran into trouble. A rusted old Chevy pickup truck filled with Cheemookamon rednecks had run their car into a ditch near Naokoming Creek. When her father jumped from their hopelessly mired vehicle to confront the three white men who smelled of whiskey and beer, they'd descended on him in a gang, beating him with their fists, cursing, and kicking him when he fell to the ground. Brenda tried to help her father, but one of the drunks felled her with a hard fist to the side of her head. When she regained consciousness, they were gone, and her father was dead. He was killed by asphyxiation and internal bleeding when a fractured rib punctured his lung. He died from choking on his own blood. Brenda still cried herself to sleep at night, thinking of how he must have suffered before he died.
But Amos Waukonigon was just a drunken Indian, and a Canadian citizen to boot. The Yankee police hadn't looked very hard for his murderers, and whoever they were, they probably still walked the streets of America. Meanwhile, the orphaned Brenda was forced to return to Ontario, where she lived with an aunt ever since. When Brenda met Philippe Aziz at an anti-American rally a year ago, she was willing, even eager, to join a cause against the Yanks she hated.
* * *
When she secured their craft to the dock pilings, bow and stern, the four men threw their heavy satchels onto the dock and jumped out after them. Aziz grabbed her and pulled her to him, kissing her hard on the mouth. She felt a stirring in her loins from the embrace of this dark and exotic man, just as she always had since their first meeting. For his part, there was no love, only sexual passion. She didn't mind; it was enough. Their shared passion was a mutual hatred of Americans.
"I couldn't get us a car," she said in Canadian-accented English. "But I got an extended-cab pickup truck with four-wheel drive. It'll haul your gear, and it should be comfortable enough for the four of you to ride in. Besides, I think you might need the four-wheel drive. I drove it here myself." She jerked her head toward the back wall of the boathouse, where she'd parked the truck.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Mackinac Incident"
Copyright © 2013 Len McDougall.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Insertion,
Chapter Two: The Survival Instructor,
Chapter Three: The FBI,
Chapter Four: Crossing Whitefish Bay,
Chapter Five: The Dragnet,
Chapter Six: The Survival Class,
Chapter Seven: The Encounter,
Chapter Eight: The Escape,
Chapter Nine: The Hunt,
Chapter Ten: The Killings,
Chapter Eleven: The Evidence,
Chapter Twelve: Conscience,
Chapter Thirteen: The Tracker's Wife,
Chapter Fourteen: Pursuit,
Chapter Fifteen: Reading Sign,
Chapter Sixteen: The Trek,
Chapter Seventeen: The Old Tracker,
Chapter Eighteen: The Destination,
Chapter Nineteen: Wrongly Accused,
Chapter Twenty: Waiting,
Chapter Twenty-One: Paradise,
Chapter Twenty-Two: Bombmaking,
Chapter Twenty-Three: The Interrogation,
Chapter Twenty-Four: Hitchhiking,
Chapter Twenty-Five: Planting a Bomb,
Chapter Twenty-Six: Ignored Warning,
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Murder on the Bridge,
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Through the Woods,
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Aftermath,
Chapter Thirty: The Trail,
Chapter Thirty-One: Darkened Woods,
Chapter Thirty-Two: Mackinaw City,
Chapter Thirty-Three: The Sniper,
Chapter Thirty-Four: Command Center,
Chapter Thirty-Five: Business as Usual,
Chapter Thirty-Six: Pure Luck,
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Fooling the Fools,
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Showdown,
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Parting,