Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Spotlight: Aftershock A Novel by Joe Lane

by Joe Lane

Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Bancroft Pr (July 4, 2014)
Amazon Paperback Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 3822 KB
Print Length: 288 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Bancroft Press (June 23, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link

About the book:

A wild and suspenseful thriller, AFTERSHOCK is the story of an unlikely team of women who are determined to destroy the despotic power of Wall Street’s masters and their political supplicants. Somewhere between the television series Leverage and the film Thelma & Louise, this team of elite women, led by Air Force veteran Penelope Baldwin and Marine Senior Chief Tessa Montgomery, calls themselves The Wa (Cultural Restoration Society) ―and prove early on that they aren’t squeamish about spilling blood to get their point across. 

Together they become the most lethal predators the American political and financial elite has ever encountered. Like Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, these women were trained by their own government to become the deadly forces that they are, but now find themselves fighting against powers they no longer recognize to extract a terrifying retribution from those who have long made it their business to mangle the American ideals of justice, equality, and freedom.

About the author: 

Joe Lane is an international business man and filmmaker and the author of AFTERSHOCK, a political thriller about the 2008 financial crisis and its aftershock for many Americans. Joe splits his time between the U.S. and China where he launched Spango, a new pizza chain in Shanghai. A renaissance man, he's been as a contract consultant for new product development, a speaker, Yale graduate, works with animal shelters to raise awareness for veterans, raises funds for animal therapy in hospitals, and he's been a pilot for over 45 years. 

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Colonel Ben Selby, inside his command tent, was just beginning to issue next-day orders. “Major, you’ll fly lead. We want the number four bird tucked inside the V.”

“Colonel, Al A’Zamiyah is heating up daily. Flying at that altitude will expose my crew to everything from RPGs to rocks. Do we really need to do the mission at eight hundred feet?”

“Major Baldwin.” A man dressed in civilian garb stood as he spoke. “You’ll be moving plenty fast to avoid any risk. At that altitude, you’ll—”

“Pardon me, sir. We haven’t been introduced, but it’s clear you’ve never flown a mission over hostile territory here.”

“Major, what I have or have not done here is of no concern to you. I’m sure your commander—” he paused and looked at Colonel Selby —“will explain to you that this mission is set and you’ve been selected to fly lead. If you think you aren’t up to the task, I’m sure Colonel Selby has other pilots who are.”

Major Penelope Baldwin turned to the Colonel and, in a soft voice devoid of emotion, said, “Pardon me, sir, but who is this cretin?”

The man’s face turned deep red even though the temperature in the room was only about 45 degrees. A crisp breeze was blowing outside, and the tent’s gas heaters offered limited resistance to the desert night’s deep chill. 

The civilian started to speak but Colonel Selby held up his hand. “Major Baldwin, Mr. Foster is from Mr. Brunigg’s office. While you’re correct that he’s never flown anywhere here except from the airport to the helipad in the Green Zone at about eighty-five hundred feet, he speaks for Mr. Brunigg, so please refrain from voicing criticism, however appropriate it might be.”

At this, Herman Foster went livid. “You better listen very closely, Colonel Selby. I will not be talked to in this manner. You had—”

“Herman,” Colonel Selby interrupted, “I know your position and I know you’ve advised Brunigg that this mission is without risk to anyone. I also know you’re full of shit. And you can tell the viceroy I said so. Or, for that matter, I’ll tell him personally. However, I do know an order when I see one, so let’s dispense with the drama and get the necessary planning done.”

“You’d best listen to me, Colonel. Your troops and your insolence will cause you more headaches than you can imagine. I’ll—”

“You know what, Herman? I think to ensure the success of this mission, and the safety of Mr. Brunigg and his passengers, you need to fly in the lead bird with Major Baldwin.” Ben looked towards Penelope with an almost imperceptible nod as he picked up his phone. “That way you can advise Mr. Brunigg immediately if we see any hostiles. Keep him safe.” 

“Excellent, Colonel,” Penelope said. “My number-two gunner is due to rotate out in two days. Mr. Foster is about the same size, so the Kevlar jacket and chaps should fit fine.” She turned to Herman Foster with a smile that would cause a grizzly to reconsider messing with this woman. “If you’ll report in about twenty minutes before departure, I’ll have Lieutenant Parker suit you up. It’s a hell of a view at that altitude . . . sir.”

Foster was preparing to launch a fierce tirade warning of unimaginable retribution when Colonel Selby spoke into the phone. 

“Sergeant, get me Mr. Brunigg’s office. I have crucial information about our mission I need to discuss with him.”

Foster and Selby stared at each other for a few seconds. “Proceed with our mission as originally planned,” said Foster. “We’ll deal with this later.” 

“Sergeant,” said Selby, “cancel that call.”

* * *

After the meeting broke up, Penelope sat on the makeshift conference table. “Thanks for your support, Colonel.”

“None needed, Major. Those, ah, political geniuses are trying to get us all killed, I think.” 

“On this one, it sure seems so. May I ask what exactly is so important that Mr. Brunigg and his three, ah, passengers, need this mission carried out right now?”

“You may ask, Major, but I can’t tell you. It’s stupid as hell. I did all I could to get it aborted. But it’s above your pay grade, I’m afraid.”

“Got it.” 

Penelope started to leave when Ben put his hand on her shoulder, “Pen, you be goddamn careful on this one. I know what they’re up to and it stinks. I tried to kill it, but Brunigg is 
blind, deaf, and dumb to any ideas that aren’t his or that don’t come from the White House and their flock of so-called experts. 

A’Zamiyah is getting more unfriendly almost daily, and four birds in that formation at that time of day and altitude are going to attract a lot of attention. Regardless of orders, at the first sign of hostiles, you go emergency and protect your people and your birds. I’ll take care of any flak from the Emerald City.”

She nodded and put her hand gently over his. As his hand slipped off her shoulder, every nerve in her body radiated an intense heat. He watched her leave and wondered if she knew 
how desperately he wanted to protect her. He had been sending her on mission after mission since their deployment. Each time, the knots in his gut grew more intense. But this time, this totally FUBAR mission was being carried out purely for political reasons. Shit, if this one went south, he wasn’t sure what he would do. 

Colonel Ben Selby sat down in his chair and put his head in his hands. 

What the fuck are they thinking?

* * *

“Blue Ice Command. Blue Ice One. Over.” 

“Blue Ice One, Blue Ice Command. Whadda you got, Major?”

“Sir, we got too goddamn many people on their roofs watching us. Request permission to climb to two five zero zero.”

“Hold Blue Ice One . . . Negative on two five zero zero. Maintain current altitude and heading.”

“Blue Ice Command. Colonel, we’re coming up on that section of open ground with trees and good cov— Incoming two-thirty.”

Penelope and her copilot gave it all the left foot they had. Penelope yanked the stick hard left and back as she twisted the throttle to full power. The Blackhawk banked hard as the giant 
turbines spooled up and the rotors took ever bigger bites of air trying to get them some altitude.

“Blue Ice flight, hostiles at two-thirty. Evasive bravo, evasive bravo.”

Two of the three other Blackhawks broke hard left at angles 30 degrees apart, their turbines straining. Number four did a quick right—up to forty-five hundred feet as fast as it could and then straight back to the Green Zone. 

A second salvo of RPGs from three different rooftops caught Blue Ice Two head on. Blue Ice Three gunners cut down the shooters and continued to climb. 

“Incoming, eight-thirty.” Penelope yanked the stick hard left again to try to circle the round. They made it, but then a fusillade of small arms fire caught their tail rotor and shredded it.

“Blue Ice Command, Blue Ice One, we’re going in.”

“Blue Ice One . . . Blue Ice One . . . Major . . . Blue Ice Three, what’s your status?” 

“Sir, we’re out of their range for the moment, but Blue Ice Two is gone and Blue Ice One is down. Repeat, Blue Ice One is down.”

“Captain Sparks, can you cover until rescue arrives?”

“Affirmative on that, sir. Anybody on the ground even looks sideways at Major Baldwin, we’ll cook ’em.” 

“You do that, Captain. I’ll have rescue and backup on the way in five. You’ll be on your own for about fifteen to twenty. Can you see any survivors on Blue Ice One?”

“Negative on sightings, sir, but she put that damn thing down right-side up.”

“Alright, Captain. Make sure both of you make it back. Is that clear?”

“Roger that, sir.”

Colonel Selby put the mike down and turned towards Herman Foster. 

General Steve Crandall put a restraining hand on Colonel Selby’s shoulder. “Colonel, get your rescue team there and get those people back. I’ll deal with . . .” He let the word hang. He grabbed Herman Foster by his coat sleeve as he moved towards the door. 

“Mr. Foster, I think it’s best if you come with me.” Foster tried to pull away. “Now, Mr. Foster. Before . . .” He let his warning penetrate Foster’s arrogance in the same manner a rattlesnake tells an unsuspecting hiker it’s time to pay attention. 

Foster grunted his disapproval but hurriedly followed General Crandall out of the radio room all the same.

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