Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) go up against two competing groups of geneticists. One side is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using 21st century technology to continue the Nazi Master Race program begun by Josef Mengele. Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed, and they've drawn first blood. Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag.
ONE WEEK AGO
Otto Wirths was the second worst mass murderer in the history of the world. Compared to him Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun and even Alexander the Great were amateurs, "poseurs" who could not hold a candle to Otto and his body count.
Only one person was worse.
That wasn't his real name, and in a way he had no real name. Like Otto, Cyrus was a freak. Like Otto, Cyrus was a monster.
A week ago I'd never even heard of them. Almost no one had. A week ago they were on no watch lists, they were not sought by any world governments, their names were not muttered in hateful curses or angry prayers by a single person on planet earth.
Yet together they had done more harm than anyone. Together they had very quietly slaughtered tens of millions.
Tens of millions.
At night, when they sat down to their dinner they did not dwell on past accomplishments. A champion athlete doesn't dwell on the preliminaries. To them it was always what was coming next. What was coming "soon."
" "One week ago, seven days before I even heard of them, Otto Wirths placed a large digital clock on the wall above the elaborate workstation where he and Cyrus spent much of their waking hours. The clock was set to tick off seconds and minutes. Otto adjusted it to read 10,080. Ten thousand and eighty minutes.
One hundred and sixty eight hours.
After he pressed the start button, Otto and Cyrus clinked glasses of "Perrier-Jouet," which--at over six thousand dollars a bottle--was the world's most expensive champagne.
They sipped the bubbles and smiled and watched the first sixty seconds tick away, and then the next sixty.
The Extinction Clock had begun.
I crouched in the dark. I was bleeding and something inside was broken. Maybe something inside my head, too.
The door was barred. I had three bullets left. Three bullets and a knife.
The pounding on the door was like thunder. I knew the door wouldn't hold.
"They" would get in.
Somewhere the Extinction Clock was ticking down. If I was still in this room when it hit zero more people would die than perished during the Black Death and all of the pandemics put together.
I thought I could stop them.
I had to stop them. It was down to me or no one.
It wasn't my fault I came into this so late. They chased us and messed with our heads and ran us around and by the time we knew what we were up against the clock had already nearly run its course.
We tried. Over the last week I'd left a trail of bodies behind me from Denver to Costa Rica to the Bahamas. Some of those bodies were human. Some...well, I don't know what the hell you'd call them.
The pounding was louder. The door was buckling, the crossbar bending. It was only seconds before the lock or the hinges gave out, and then they'd come howling in here. Then it would be them against me.
I was hurt. I was bleeding.
I had three bullets and a knife.
I got to my feet and faced the door, my gun in my left hand, the knife in my right.
Let them come.
"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."
"On the Blue Water," Esquire, April 1936
Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, August 28; 8:04 am /Time Remaining on the Extinction Clock: 97 hours; 56 minutes