Best-selling columnist Brad Thor will absolution his latest Scot Harvath thriller, Use of Force, on June 27. This chapter follows Harvath, a Navy SEAL angry buried counterterrorism operative, who is assassin by the CIA on a atramentous arrangement afterwards a anatomy is begin off the bank of the Mediterranean Sea.
EW is captivated to acknowledge not abandoned the awning for Use of Force, but additionally an absolute excerpt. Thor tells EW of the jacket: “With the projects we accept activity in Hollywood, we capital a awning that not abandoned conveyed the activity and artifice of the novel, but additionally drew absorption to our cast as we aggrandize into blur and TV.”
Check out the anorak and bastard blink axial the book, below.
Italian Bank Guard Headquarters
Maritime Accomplishment Coordination Center
An access of barrage befuddled the architecture as Lieutenant Pietro Renzi, dressed in his Navy whites, answered the buzz in advanced of him.
“Mayday. Mayday,” a articulation said in heavily absolute English. “My breadth is N, three, three, four, nine.”
Renzi airtight his fingers to get his colleagues’ attention. “Three, three degrees?” he asked.
“Four, nine,” replied the caller.
This was absolutely the affectionate of alarm Renzi and his aggregation were worried about tonight. Arctic African smugglers were subhuman. All they cared about was money. Once they had been paid, they put their cartage into unseaworthy boats, tossed in a ambit and a accessory buzz preprogramed with the emergency cardinal of the Guardia Costiera, and acicular them adjoin Italy.
Rarely did they accommodate them with abundant ammunition to accomplish the journey. Rarer still, did they argue acclimate forecasts. Swells as aerial as fifteen meters had already been appear tonight, and the storm was abandoned accepting worse.
“Thirty-three degrees, forty-nine account north,” Renzi repeated, acknowledging the caller’s position.
“And below that? I charge the cardinal beneath.”
“Please,” the man implored. “I do not accept abundant battery.”
“Sir, calm down. I charge the cardinal beneath.”
The man apprehend the numbers from the screen: “One, three. Dot four, one.”
Renzi entered the abounding coordinates into his computer: 33°49’N–13°41’E. The afflicted vessel’s position appeared on the behemothic awning at the advanced of the operations center. The baiter was 120 abyssal afar from the island of Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost territory.
“Please, please, you charge advice us,” the accession implored. “There is abundant baptize axial the boat. We are sinking.”
“Sir, please. We will accelerate rescue, but you charge to be calm. How abounding bodies are on board?”
“One hundred and fifty persons. Abounding women. Abounding children. Amuse hurry. We are in danger. We are sinking.”
An Italian Bank Guard helicopter was out of the question. They were too far abroad and there were too abounding people.
Lieutenant Renzi advised the awning at the arch of the room. It showed ships and boats in the axial Mediterranean Sea. He searched it for one abutting abundant to advice aftereffect a rescue.
There was nothing. Seasoned captains had already fled the storm’s path. It would booty hours to get any blazon of barge to them.
“Hello?” the man said. “Hello? Do you apprehend me, please?”
“Yes, I still apprehend you.”
“The after-effects are actual high. All of the bodies are sick. We charge your help.”
“Sir,” Lieutenant Renzi repeated, aggravating to assure the man, “we are sending a address to accomplishment you, but you charge breach calm.”
“Now, how abounding abutment accessories do you have?”
“Flotation devices?” the man replied.
“Life jackets,” said Renzi. “How abounding activity jackets do you have?”
There was a abeyance as the man shouted out a catechism in his accent to the bodies on his boat. Aback he came aback on the line, his acknowledgment algid Renzi to the bone. “We accept no activity jackets.”
Burning Man Festival
Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Two Days Later
Scot Harvath wasn’t declared to be here. The CIA was banned to conduct operations axial the United States—especially the affectionate he was about to undertake. Atrocious times, though, alleged for atrocious measures.
The seven-day Afire Man accident was an extreme, weeklong summer acme anniversary captivated on a flat, aged lakebed three hours alfresco of Reno, Nevada. Outrageous apparel were encouraged—as was “tasteful” nudity. Apparel ran the breadth from Mad Max to Carnival in Rio.
As fit as he was, he could accept gotten abroad afterwards acid abundant of anything. That wasn’t his style, though. It additionally wouldn’t accept fabricated faculty for his assignment.
Instead, the five-foot, ten-inch Harvath, with his albino amber beard and his glacier-like dejected eyes, wore a Continental Army accoutrement and a abounding face of Cherokee war paint, abashing his handsome features.
As the wind kicked up again, he pulled a brace of Steampunk goggles over his eyes and captivated a keffiyeh about his face. Clouds of the fine, acrid dust that covered the playa were bouncing everywhere. Afterimage was dropping.
“Fifty meters,” a aerial articulation said over the accessory pushed abysmal into his larboard ear. He kept walking, scanning from larboard to right.
Burning Man took abode in a acting “metropolis” congenital in the Atramentous Rock Desert, alleged Atramentous Rock City. With added than seventy thousand attendees, BRC was alert as abutting as the City of London.
Seen from above, the anniversary was laid out in the appearance of a behemothic letter C, or two thirds of a circle. It looked like a adapt for the Death Star with a acceptable block absolute away.
It was a mile and a bisected across, and a division mile out from the centermost of the C was the “Man”—a behemothic amount that would be set on blaze Saturday night.
There were no apartment in Atramentous Rock City, abandoned what you hauled in (and hauled aback out) yourself. “Burners,” as attendees were known, spent months in beforehand planning elaborately themed camps and villages. Abandoned the ultrarich showed up on Day One, usually via helicopter, to luxury, turnkey camps that had already been complete for them.
Almost as arguable as the camps of the ultrarich was article alleged Kidsville. It was one of the bigger camps at Afire Man and was for families with children—an absorbing best at such an developed festival. Nevertheless, this year there were about a thousand kids in attendance.
An army of volunteers, aggrandized by clandestine security, had buried anniversary agent as it entered the festival. Occasionally the volunteers were assisted by clandestine law enforcement.
The massive breeze of traffic, in accession to the laid aback atmosphere of the event, though, fabricated it absurd to do annihilation thorough. It was added aegis “theater” than annihilation else.
Local and accompaniment law administration patrolled the festival, as did Park Rangers from the Bureau of Acreage Management. But as connected as you weren’t aboveboard accomplishing drugs or accouterment booze to minors, it wasn’t difficult to breach off their radar. They had their easily added than full. It was no admiration Afire Man had angled the absorption of terrorists.
The articulation batten afresh in Harvath’s ear. “You should be able to see it now.”
He chock-full walking, aloft a canteen of baptize to his mouth, and acclimated the befalling to attending around.
Banners and accoutrement flaps blew in the wind. There was a makeshift bar alleged 7 Deadly Gins, article alleged Affected Woo Woo, addition abode alleged No Bikini Atoll, and an ascendancy alleged Toxic Disco Clam. Aloof above was the dejected RV.
“I see it now,” said Harvath, casting the baptize bottle.
“Hey!” a woman abaft him complained, but he abandoned her and kept moving. He had appear too far to let Hamza Rahim escape.
Through the dust, the black air was ambrosial with the smoke from bonfires and bake barrels. Music thumped from every direction. Hidden out of sight, agent generators rumbled their low growls, powering turntables, complete systems, and massive ablaze shows. Dancers on the playa spun ablaze orbs on connected chains. Rolling art exhibits, blithely lit from end to end, argument blaze into the night sky.
He did a apathetic bend about the affected that independent the dejected RV. Everyone seemed to be congregated in a ample tent, agreeable to affair and delay out the dust storm accident outside.
After a accumulation of bicycles covered in synchronized LED lights passed, Harvath approached the RV.
There were no lights on inside. He approved to associate through several windows, but the blinds were drawn. A accoutrement covered the windshield.
Pressing his ear adjoin the door, he listened. Nothing. If there was anyone inside, they were actuality actual quiet.
He approved to accessible the door, but it was locked.
Removing a set of picks, he looked over his accept to accomplish abiding no one was watching. No one was. Within abnormal he had the aperture unlocked, had added the suppressor to his Sig Sauer pistol, and had slipped inside.
Even through his keffiyeh, the RV smelled terrible—like dried cigarettes and a toilet that didn’t alike well. Afterwards he bald off his goggles, it took a added for his eyes to adjust.
Plates of half-eaten aliment sat on the table. Dishes were ample in the sink. A white artificial debris bag, overflowing with garbage, was angry to one of the drawer handles. The upholstery was torn, the carpeting was stained, and there was playa dust accoutrement everything. Hamza Rahim lived like an animal.
Noticing article on the floor, Harvath angled over and best it up. Pieces of electrical wire. His affection amount went up.
As far as anyone at the CIA knew, Rahim had been beatific to Afire Man for pre-attack surveillance. His job was to accumulate intelligence and augment it aback up the chain. Harvath’s appointment was to snatch Rahim and breach his arrangement by any agency necessary. The wires, though, appropriate the CIA’s intelligence ability accept been alarmingly off target. Raising his pistol, Harvath crept adjoin the rear of the vehicle.
The aboriginal affair he arrested was a baby closet. It was abounding with junk. Above from it was a set of applesauce beds—both of which had been slept in. Bad sign. Rahim was declared to be alone.
Beyond the applesauce beds was the adept area. That bed had additionally been slept in.
There was abandoned one abode larboard to search: the bathroom.
The aperture to it was shut. Taking up a position to the side, Harvath boring approved the knob. Locked.
He listened for any sound, but all he could apprehend was the adduce of the ball music beating outside.
Stepping in advanced of the door, he aloft his cossack and kicked beeline through the knob, ballyhoo the lockset, and abrogation a aperture breadth it acclimated to be.
As the hinges were on the outside, the aperture was meant to beat abroad from the bath into the RV.
Harvath took one duke off his pistol and accomplished for the door. That was aback it exploded.
A Middle Eastern–looking man axial the bath kicked the aperture accessible and threw the capacity of a ample artificial cup breadth he anticipation Harvath would be standing.
The awful acerb cocktail of cesspool cleaner and domiciliary achromatize absent Harvath and splattered above the bank and window blinds to his left.
Harvath answered the advance by slamming his pistol into the arch of the man’s nose.
Immediately, his adversary’s knees went anemic and began to buckle. Harvath swept in abaft him, captivated his larboard arm about his throat, and demanded, “Where’s Hamza Rahim?”
The man, who charge accept apparent Harvath peeking in the RV’s windows, or heard him as he came in, struggled.
Harvath addled him again, this time in the ancillary of the head. “Where is he? Where’s Rahim?”
The antagonist connected to resist, so Harvath acicular his pistol at his larboard bottom and apprenticed the trigger.
The consistent scream was so loud, Harvath had to awning his aperture for abhorrence the man’s cries ability draw absorption over the anguish of the music outside. “Tell me breadth Rahim is or I’ll shoot the added one.”
The man clawed at Harvath. As he did, Harvath noticed that he was missing two fingers on his larboard hand. Harvath’s affliction fears were confirmed. This guy was a bombmaker.
Harvath now had alike added questions, but his eyes, nose, and throat were afire from the poisonous billow of gas the man had created with his bath achromatize bomb. They bare to get the hell out of the RV.
With his larboard arm still captivated deeply about the man’s throat, Harvath jabbed the pistol suppressor into his aback and pushed him adjoin the advanced of the vehicle. They had abandoned fabricated it center aback addition appeared at the door.
The amount was dressed in what looked like a monk’s bathrobe with a characterless affectation fabricated from chrome. The amount additionally had a weapon, and afore Harvath could react, he began to fire.
Harvath acclimated the bombmaker as a absorber until he had to bead his asleep anatomy and dive for cover. Circuit from the antagonist in the chrome affectation connected to bite up the RV.
Harvath capital to acknowledgment fire, but he couldn’t see. He couldn’t alike breathe.
Shooting out one of the rear windows, he raked the burst bottle with his weapon and leaped out, landing adamantine on the ground.
His instincts told him to cycle below the motor home for concealment, but he knew chlorine gas was added than air. If any of the chlorine gas was aperture out, it would basin below the vehicle. He bare to move abroad from the RV, fast.
Spraying the advanced of the agent with suppressed circuit from his Sig Sauer, he accolade abaft a adjacent pickup, acquisitive the dust storm would advice adumbrate his movement.
At the truck, he pulled his goggles aback up about his eyes, anchored his keffiyeh, and approved to bolt his breath. His lungs were burning. How abundant was playa dust and action adjoin chlorine gas, he had no idea. All he knew was that his chest aching like hell.
“Rahim’s not alone,” Harvath coughed over his radio. “There was addition abroad in the trailer.”
“Who?” the articulation replied.
“A bombmaker. They’re not actuality to scout. They’re actuality to attack.”
“Jesus. Did you get them?”
“The bombmaker’s dead,” Harvath said, “but Rahim’s on the run. Dressed in amber apparel with a chrome faceplate. Get the bombinate up.”
“It won’t survive the storm.”
“I don’t care. Get it up. Now.”
“Roger that,” the articulation responded.
Inserting a beginning annual into his weapon, Harvath issued a final command afore rolling out from abaft the truck. “Tell the abstraction aggregation to breach up. We accept to acquisition Rahim.”
“And aback we do?”
“Take him out.”
With that, Harvath concluded his manual and began moving.
Mike Haney was a acute guy. The CIA had airtight him up two years ago. Afore abutting their awful backstairs paramilitary disengagement accepted as the Appropriate Operations Group, he’d been a Force Recon Marine. Harvath knew that he could calculation on him.
The abstraction aggregation was fabricated up of four additional, awful accomplished appropriate operations personnel: Navy SEAL Tim Barton; Delta Force accessible Tyler Staelin; Green Beret Jack Gage; and Matt Morrison, who, like Haney, had additionally been a Force Recon Marine.
While Haney ran aggregate from the ample bout bus they were application as their abject of operations, the abstraction aggregation was a brace of blocks over in a heavily modified, six-person golf cart.
Though Atramentous Rock City was advised for pedestrians and bicycles, they’d been able to get the barrow in by accouterment affidavit “certifying” one of the aggregation associates as disabled.
Beneath one row of seats was a accumulator breadth aloof ample abundant to adumbrate Rahim and bootleg him out. Below addition was the hidden alcove they had acclimated to bootleg in their weapons.
Using aerosol paint, Christmas lights, and basin noodles purchased on the way in, they had “decorated” the cart. It looked like shit, but none of them cared. As connected as it did its job, that was all that mattered.
Rahim couldn’t accept gotten far. Unscrewing the suppressor, Harvath alternate his weapon below his accoutrement and confused from accoutrement to tent.
Near an art accession of accessible telephones announcement “Talk to God,” he gave a description of Rahim’s apparel and asked if anyone had apparent his “friend.”
A woman acid a motorcycle helmet, ski goggles, and not abundant abroad said she had, and acicular him bottomward a alley to the left. Harvath thanked her and took off.
Clouds of dust were still alarming through Atramentous Rock City, but afterimage was accepting better. Harvath relayed his position to Haney and told him to accept the abstraction aggregation associates alpha closing in. No eventually had he relayed his instructions, though, than he saw a robed amount up advanced with a chrome faceplate.
Quickening his pace, Harvath approved to abutting the ambit amid them. The man weaved through one affected afterwards another, bottomward amid anchored vehicles, tents, and endless of supplies. He was accurate not to get angled in any accessible spaces. Addition had accomplished him acceptable tradecraft.
“Where’s my drone, Haney?” Harvath accepted as he leaped over a bassinet of bottled baptize and kept moving.
“Inbound. Thirty seconds.”
“This guy’s gonna be gone in thirty seconds. Bustle up.”
“Got him,” addition articulation said over Harvath’s earpiece. He accustomed the voice. It was Staelin, the ex-Delta operative.
“Where are you?”
Staelin gave his position.
“You’re still two blocks away,” Harvath replied. “You’ve got the amiss guy.”
“Bullshit. I’m attractive appropriate at him. Amber monk’s robes, chrome faceplate.”
“Stay on him,” Harvath ordered, not abiding what the hell they were up against. “But don’t let him see you.”
“Roger that,” Staelin replied.
“Haney—” Harvath began, but he was interrupted.
He pulled a small, bittersweet alarm from his accoutrement pocket, and abrupt it to his accessory as he kept moving. “Got me?”
“Stand by,” Haney replied, as he acclimated the drone’s bittersweet camera to chase for Harvath’s strobe. Finally, he came aback over the radio and said, “I’ve got you.”
“Rahim is appropriate up advanced of me,” Harvath stated. “Same bearing. Affective like he’s backward for a job interview. See him?”
Haney paused afore replying, “Negative. I don’t see anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I don’t see him. The drone’s not acrimonious him up.”
Suddenly addition articulation bankrupt in. It was Morrison, the added Marine. “I accept eyes on.”
“What’s your position?” Harvath asked.
When Morrison gave his location, Haney said, “You’re not alike abutting to Harvath. You guys are block three altered targets.”
Shit, anticipation Harvath. “Everybody, strobes on,” he ordered.
A choir of “Roger that” abounding the radio as the men activated their bittersweet devices, arresting abandoned to the bittersweet camera aboard the drone. “Strobes on.”
Based on the wire clippings and the attendance of the bombmaker, article bad was in the works. But was it in the works for tonight? Or were they aloof accepting the lay of the land, conceivably cat-and-mouse for two nights from now, aback there’d be the better absorption of Burners in one spot? There was no telling. All he knew was that at atomic one of them was armed. And if one was armed, the others apparently were too.
Getting aback on the radio, Harvath instructed Haney to locate the added two figures. In his mind, he approved to account the blueprint of Atramentous Rock City. Breadth the hell were they headed? And alike added important, did Rahim accept added agents out there?
The best acute catechism he had, was what had he interrupted? Were the men in the action of burying a bomb? Had they already buried a bomb? Or did they accept article absolutely altered in mind?
When Haney’s articulation came over his earpiece moments later, he didn’t accept acceptable news. “I can’t see them.”
“Is it the weather?” Harvath asked, admitting his gut told him that wasn’t the answer.
“Negative. Whatever they’re wearing, it’s acid off their calefaction signature.”
Shit. Added tradecraft. These guys knew how to abstain bittersweet surveillance. Harvath’s affliction fears were actuality confirmed.
“Based on their administration of travel,” he asked, “what do you anticipate their ambition is?”
Haney advised the anniversary map on the animate in advanced of him. “It could be anything.”
“Think like them.”
“I am cerebration like them,” Haney replied. “Almost every affair affected reeks of symbolism.”
Staelin’s articulation disconnected the transition. “Our guy aloof angled aback and took a adamantine left. Headed west now.”
Moments later, Morrison stated, “Our ambition aloof took a adjustment through two camps. Now headed east.”
Up advanced of Harvath, the hooded amount he was afterward paused and looked around, as if blockage his position, and again began affective north. They were all alteration direction.
“Where are they headed, Mike?” Harvath asked as he connected afterwards his target. “Come on. Amount it out.”
“I’m cogent you,” Haney replied. “It could be anything.”
Just then, Morrison interjected, “I apperceive breadth my ambition is headed. We charge to booty him now.”
“Slow down,” cautioned Harvath. “Where’s he going?”
“Kidsville. The ancestors camp.”
The coercion of the bearings instantly took on new meaning. They had to act.
Passing through addition camp, Harvath saw article he needed. Grabbing it from the accoutrement pole breadth it hung, he best up his clip and kept going.
“Is anyone abutting abundant to see if they’re buttoned down?” he asked.
Suicide bombers were accepted for employing what was alleged a “dead man’s switch.” It was a button that aback depressed, armed their device. If a adviser was attempt or somehow incapacitated, artlessly absolution the button would account their accessory to detonate.
There was additionally the adventitious of a “chicken switch.” It was a fail-safe that absorbed the bomber’s belong to a corpuscle phone. If the accessory bootless to go off at the appointed abode and time, a abettor could activate it remotely.
The adventitious that either technology, and possibly both, was present fabricated the bearings not abandoned added difficult, but additionally abundant added dangerous.
“Negative,” Staelin replied. “I can’t see anything. Our ambition has his easily below his robe.”
“Same with ours,” said Morrison.
Except for the breach added he had a weapon acicular at him, Harvath hadn’t apparent the easily of the man he was block either.
Tackling abeyant suicide bombers wasn’t allotment of this assignment. It was declared to be surveillance of Rahim, followed by a snatch and grab. Once they had him out of Atramentous Rock City, they were to fly him to a prearranged area for interrogation. Any abundant appropriation was Harvath’s responsibility. Everyone abroad was declared to be support.
Harvath didn’t apperceive abundant about the men he was alive with, but what he did apperceive was that they were men of honor. They did the appropriate thing, no amount what.
“Gut check,” Harvath relayed over the radio. “If anyone wants out, now’s the time.”
“Negative,” came the actual choir of replies.
Harvath laid out his plan. “Assume they’re accustomed weapons. Accept they’re all acid vests. And accept they’re buttoned down. If they appear off that switch, it’s over. So aback you go kinetic, you anniversary booty a duke and focus on it like a laser. Understood?”
“Roger that,” the men answered.
Haney knew Harvath was operating afterwards a partner. That meant he was activity to accept an alike harder job. He’d accept to get his target’s easily below ascendancy by himself. “I can be to you in beneath than bristles minutes,” Haney offered.
Looking up ahead, Harvath ample out breadth his ambition was headed. It was the better of the affluence camps—the one diehard Burners resented the most—called Crystal Sky.
It was arranged with affluent and able admiral from Silicon Valley. A acknowledged advance axial Crystal Sky would echo above the tech industry and accord to account worldwide.
“Stay on the drone,” Harvath replied. “And accept Langley get chat to law enforcement. If there’s added of them out there, we’ve got to acquisition them fast.”
Once Haney had confirmed, Harvath hailed Morrison and Staelin. “Your teams are bright to engage. Booty them down.”
From the Crystal Sky stage, he could accomplish out a techno adaptation of Super Freak by Rick James. The robed amount in advanced of him cut out into the awash street, and headed for the affected entrance. Two hundred yards added and he’d be inside.
Harvath had no choice. It was time to accomplish his move.
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