Tom Grace: Spyder Web

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Tom Grace Spyder Web
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    Spyder Web
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    Шпионский детектив / на английском языке
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Spyder Web: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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An unexpected wave of nostalgia swept over Dawson as Kilkenny reported for duty. They’d first met six years earlier, when Ens. Nolan Kilkenny reported to Coronado for BUD/S, Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEALs training. Dawson had taken one look at this wiry redhaired college kid and saw nothing more than a future Pentagon technoweenie who’d wash out before the gruelling middle-stretch of the nine-week program known as Hell Week. Dawson had been wrong.

‘Take a seat, Lieutenant,’ Dawson ordered as he returned Kilkenny’s salute. ‘Nolan, do you remember why you became a SEAL?’

Kilkenny knew this wasn’t small talk, and he wondered about the motivation behind Dawson’s question. ‘Yes, sir, it was the challenge. I knew that command of the SEAL squad would test my limits, both physically and mentally.’

‘And do you remember who encouraged you to undertake this challenge?’

‘Yes, sir. Rear Adm. Roger Hopwood.’

Like Kilkenny, Rear Admiral Hopwood was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Hopwood had also swum for the Academy, and Kilkenny’s performance with the team during his senior year caught the admiral’s attention. The admiral was also a decorated SEAL, and he now served as NavSpecWarGruCom, commander of the navy’s Special Warfare Group.

Upon learning that Kilkenny was both an accomplished scuba diver and a black belt in the Isshinryu style of karate, Hopwood took the future ensign under his wing and encouraged him to join the SEALs. It was Hopwood who also made sure that Dawson, who then oversaw SEAL training in Coronado, received a carefully edited file regarding Kilkenny’s background. It wasn’t until Kilkenny flattened the hand-to-hand combat instructor that Dawson became suspicious. Roger Hopwood loved surprises, and the quiet Ensign Kilkenny was a ringer. Kilkenny not only survived SEAL training, but excelled and eventually became one of Dawson’s most valued squad leaders.

‘That’s right, Admiral Hopwood is one of your sea daddies. Now here’s the situation.’

‘Situation’ was Dawson’s polite way of saying that the Pentagon had an ugly job that needed to be done quickly and quietly.

‘How well do you remember Haiti?’

‘Well enough to get around if I had to, sir, but why Haiti now? I thought things were pretty quiet down there.’

‘Take a look at this tape and I think you’ll understand.’

Dawson punched the play button on the VCR and the image of a Haitian fishing village filled the screen. Center frame was the recognizable face of Jean Arno, the junior Republican congressman from Florida. Arno was smiling and talking in fluent Haitian French, which was no surprise, since the lawmaker was the youngest son of Haitian immigrants.

Accompanying the congressman were his aides, relief workers, and a few military officers. An officer near the rear of the group caught Kilkenny’s attention; it was Admiral Hopwood. The whole scene looked like a wellchoreographed photo opportunity designed to show the viewing audience at home how well American aid was working in Haiti. A loud popping sound from the jungle preceded a dizzying spin by the camera before it struck the ground. Though now skewed at a bizarre upward angle, the camera kept rolling, recording the screams of people and rapid blasts of approaching gunfire. Legs rushed past the lens, captured in their panicked flight. Then a group of men in black emerged from the jungle, spraying bullets wildly into the crowd as they entered the camera’s view. Soon, the only sounds to be heard were those of gunfire and the cries of the dying.

One of the figures in black stood alone in the center of the village, dispassionately watching the carnage unfold. What struck Kilkenny most about the man was his eyes; they displayed nothing save a ruthless efficiency.

Are those my eyes in battle? Kilkenny wondered.

Three minutes into the massacre, several of the blackgarbed men dragged Arno and the surviving Americans before their leader. This man looked over the prisoners, stopping at the congressman, whom he viewed with disgust.

‘Fool!’ he spat in Arno’s face. ‘Will you never learn that your kind are not welcome in Haiti!’

Arno and the others remained silent, denying the man any satisfaction he might find in their pleas for mercy. The leader studied his prisoners carefully as he finished a cigarette, weighing their fate in his mind. A flick of his fingers sent the smoldering butt arcing to the ground. He stared down for a moment, then pulled the machete from his belt and swung furiously into Arno’s neck. The others joined their leader, quickly hacking the Americans to death in an orgy of blood and violence.

Once the Americans were dead, the leader raised his bloodstained machete and ordered his men back into the jungle. The raiding party left with their plunder and several female captives. Soon, the only sound that remained was the buzzing of flies under the hot Caribbean sun.

Kilkenny swallowed back the bile in his throat as Dawson stopped the tape.

‘What you just saw happened yesterday. The central figure in this massacre is Etienne Masson, the leader of a tribe, for lack of a better word, that controls a large piece of rain forest surrounding Jacmel. He was a twenty-year veteran of the Haitian military and even attended the Green Beret program at Bragg before going native.’

‘So he’s not one of those cardboard generals we usually find in Third World hellholes.’

‘Just the opposite. Masson doesn’t seem to be after anything. While our troops were there, he laid low. He doesn’t care who is ruling Port-au-Prince as long as they stay out of his way. His cabal doesn’t even have a name, but the people living in their shadow call them la Mort Noir, the Black Death. What you just saw was the first bit of carelessness on Masson’s part.’

‘The camera,’Kilkenny answered, the gruesome images still playing in his mind.

‘Right. His men took out the cameraman first, but nobody bothered to get the tape. This is the first time that anyone outside of Haiti has seen Masson in nine years. The Haitians have tried to deal quietly with him on their own, without much luck. After yesterday, the Haitian government not only approves of the United States taking action; they expect it. We’ve got carte blanche, as long as we’re quiet about it. Everyone over there is scared shitless of this guy.’

‘Understandably so; it looks like he actually enjoys killing people.’

Dawson sensed something beneath the surface of Kilkenny’s comment. He knew that Nolan was taking his mother’s death hard. He’d experienced similar feelings of self-doubt following his own parents’ deaths several years ago.

‘Masson does enjoy killing, and he’s good at it, but he’s not like you and me. We’re trained to kill, but we do it only when we have to. Masson is something else altogether.’ Dawson slid a folder bearing the CIA logo across his desk to Kilkenny. ‘Here’s the intelligence briefing on Masson. What’s known of his activities reads like a voodoo version of Apocalypse Now, with Masson playing the role of Colonel Kurtz.’

Kilkenny began thumbing through the intelligence report. ‘Fine, what’s the op?’

Dawson slipped a thick binder of materials across the desk to Kilkenny, then leaned back in his chair. ‘Quiet in, quiet out. You and your squad will launch in minisubs from the Columbia, six miles off Haiti’s southern coast. You’ll land on a remote beach and go hunting incountry. Your orders are to seek out and destroy the enemy.’

Kilkenny looked over the preliminary mission time line. ‘A three-week op in December is cutting it a little close, sir. My tour is up at the end of next month.’

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