Warren Murphy: Arabian Nightmare

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Warren Murphy Arabian Nightmare
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    Arabian Nightmare
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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The Maddas Touch Everything that Maddas Hinsein touched turned to blood as the mad-dog dictator of outlaw Irait pursued his plans of conquest by taking over tiny oil-rich Kuran. Only Remo and Chiun could stop this man who was up to his mustache in gore. But Remo was possessed, slave to his immortal nemesis, the death goddess Kali. And the feeble Chiun was merely a shadow of his former awesome self. Unless CURE's terrific twosome could be restored to their full powers, Maddas Hinsein would turn the whole into one...

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Destroyer 86: Arabian Nightmare

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Chapter 1

The entire world knew that Maddas Hinsein was dead.

They had seen with their own eyes the Tyrant of Irait, the sacker of peaceful Kuran and self-styled Scimitar of the Arabs, being assassinated under the gigantic crossed scimitars of Arab Renaissance Square in downtown Abominadad.

CNN had picked up the Iraiti Information Ministry news feeds. The Iraiti government was determined to show the anti-bait coalition-particularly the United States-that it did not fear their armies and sanctions. Moreover, it would not allow the murder of its ambassador to the U.S. to go unpunished. The late Turqi Abaatira had been shipped back to Abominadad in an aluminum coffin, the victim of a car accident, according to an apologetic U.S. State Department, which had reluctantly surrendered the remains.

But when President Maddas Hinsein himself had flung open the coffin to see the ambassador's empurpled face, his blackened tongue draped over his chin, and a yellow silk scarf-the symbol of the American human-shield hostages-knotted tightly around his strangled throat, Maddas Hinsein had ordered two of the most prominent of the so-called "guests under duress" to be publicly executed before the world.

The instrument of this dangerous order was no less opposite directions. And their voices made millions of hands reach for volume-control knobs.

"I am created Shiva the Destroyer; Death, the shatterer of worlds! Who is this dog meat who stands before me?" So howled the assassin.

"I am Kali the Terrible; the devourer of life!" screamed a voice no one could possibly recognize as belonging to Kimberly Baynes. "And I claim this dance!"

Howling, they began to drum their feet in unison.

Then pandemonium broke loose. The reviewing stand collapsed in a splintering ruin. The upset cameras veered in every direction, capturing running, panicked feet, blue sky, and one of the Brobdingnagian steel scimitars as it came crashing free of the huge bronze forearm that held it aloft.

Then the satellite feed went black.

No one outside of Abominadad knew what had happened after that. No one knew the fate of Don Cooder or Reverend Jackman, or of the hundreds of U.S. hostages still held at strategic locations throughout Irait. The world held its breath as it wondered what would be the President's response to this latest Iraiti outrage.

But of one thing everyone was certain.

President Maddas Hinsein was no more.

Chapter 2

"His name is Remo," Dr. Harold W. Smith said into the dialless cherry-red telephone.

"Better refer to him as the Caucasian," returned the President of the United States in a cautious voice. "No telling who might be listening in."

"Mr. President," Harold Smith said in a lemony voice, "I assure you this line is absolutely secure. Absolutely."

"Back to the matter at hand," the President said, still guarded. Smith imagined him in the Lincoln Bedroom, where the dedicated line that connected the White House to Folcroft Sanitarium, the headquarters for CURE, was kept in a nightstand drawer. The tension came across the wire like electricity.

"Sir," Harold Smith said wearily, "I watched the same tape you did. It seemed to me that Remo-"

"The Caucasian."

"Our . . . ah . . . operative assassinated Maddas Hinsein. "

The President's voice perked up. "Does that mean he was a double agent? I mean, that he wasn't a double agent? It looked for a while that he had become Maddas' personal assassin. His face was on all those threatening Iraiti broadcasts."

"Mr. President, I regret I cannot read into the situation any more than I have. We know that Remo apparently fell under Iraiti control shortly after he went over there."

The President asked, "How is that possible, anyway? He was our best hope of averting war."

"I can offer no opinion on that score," said Harold Smith stiffly. What could he tell the President? That Remo Williams, the human superweapon who for two decades had safeguarded America's shores, had all along been, in reality, the unsuspecting avatar for Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction? That he had fallen under the sway of Kimberly Baynes, a thirteen-year-old girl who had somehow blossomed into a mature woman with four arms, and who might now be Remo's counterpart, the human vessel of the goddess of death, Kali?

No, Harold Smith was not going to volunteer that himself. He could hardly believe it. How could he expect the President, who shared his own salt-of-the-earth New England roots, to accept such a fantasy?

Instead he said, "The problem before you, Mr. President, is determining your best course of action in the aftermath of Hinsein's death."

"I was mentally preparing myself to launch an all-out attack if Abominadad went ahead with a public execution," the President said slowly. "But without knowing if Cooder and Jackman are dead too, I can't jeopardize our other humanshield hostages over there. The way it looks to the world, the guy the Iraitis have claimed is a renegade U.S. agent turned around and clobbered their leader. That makes us the bad guys. It's a mess."

"The question is, what will Hinsein's war council do?" mused Harold Smith. "Will they agree to withdraw from Kuran, blaming it all on a misadventure engineered by their maverick president, or will they willingly carry out his deadfall commands?"

"That's the part that scares me up a tree," the Commander in Chief admitted ruefully. "If he did leave behind deadfall commands, what were they? To launch terrorist attacks on U.S. targets? To attack our troops in Hamidi Arabia? To gas Israel?"

"knowing Maddas Hinsein," Harold Smith said soberly, "all three."

"If only we could get a fix on the thinking in Abominadad. "

Smith cleared his throat before saying, "Perhaps we can."

"How? Both your people are out of commission. The old Oriental is dead and the Caucasian is missing in action. Our only assets over there are the hostages."

"Correction. The Master of Sinanju is, contrary to earlier reports, alive."

"What?" The President's modified New England accent went south and acquired a startled Texas twang.

"He is recuperating from his coma," Smith added quickly.

"What coma? I understood he was nuked out by Palm Springs. "

Smith swallowed uncomfortably, his Adam's apple bobbing out of sight. "If you recall, Mr. President, the situation was this: a jury-rigged neutron bomb had been programmed to detonate in Palm Springs. Remo and Chiun-"

"The Caucasian and the Oriental," the President said quickly.

"-were rushing the neutron device out into the desert to save the population. Time ran out. The . . . um . . . Oriental took the weapon from the other man. The neutron device detonated. There was no trace of the Asian found after the radiation abated."

"Then how-?"

"You'll remember that this matter had to do with a real-estate swindle involving weapons of mass destruction. Near the detonation site was the underground condominium development that was at the heart of the entire matter. "

"The Condome, yeah." Smith could visualize his President nodding thoughtfully. It was the President who had helped prepare the cover story that explained away the detonation of a nuclear device in the California desert as an Atomic Energy Commission snafu. Through his society contacts, he had arranged with the parents of the student physicist who had built the device to quietly leave the country. And so Sky Bluel was packed off to finish school in Paris.

Smith went on. "Apparently the Master of Sinanju, knowing that this development had accumulated standing water on its lower floors, dropped the neutron device just before it detonated and found shelter in the flooded floors almost two hundred feet below ground. The combination of sand and water shielded him from the worst of the neutron bombardment."

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