Lethal Agent - Vince Flynn,Kyle Mills




MITCH Rapp started to move again, weaving through an expansive boulder field before dropping to his stomach at its edge. A quick scan of the terrain through his binoculars provided the same result it had every time before: reddish dirt covering an endless series of pronounced ridges. No water. No plant life. A burned-out sky starting to turn orange in the west. If it were ninety-five below zero instead of ninety-five above, he could have been on Mars.

Rapp shifted his gaze to the right, concentrating for a good fifteen seconds before spotting a flash of movement that was either Scott Coleman or one of his men. All were wearing camo made from cloth specifically selected and dyed for this op by Charlie Wicker’s girlfriend. She was a professional textile designer and a flat-out genius at matching colors and textures. If you gave her a few decent photos of your operating theater, she’d make you disappear.

A couple of contrails appeared above and he followed them with his eyes. Saudi jets on their way to bomb urban targets to the west. This sparsely populated part of Yemen had become the exclusive territory of ISIS and al Qaeda, but the Saudis largely ignored it. Viable targets were hard to engage from the air and the Kingdom didn’t have the stomach to get bloody on the ground. That job had once again landed in his lap.

Satisfied they weren’t being watched, Rapp started forward in a crouch. Coleman and his team would follow, watching his back at perfect intervals like they had in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Syria. And just about every other shithole the planet had to offer.

The Yemeni civil war had broken out in 2015 between Houthi rebels and government forces. Predictably, other regional powers had been drawn in, most notably Iran backing the rebels and Saudi Arabia getting behind the government. The involvement of those countries had intensified the conflict, creating a humanitarian disaster impressive even by Middle Eastern standards.

In many ways, it was a forgotten war. The world’s dirty little secret. Even among U.S. government officials and military commanders, it would be hard to find anyone aware that two-thirds of Yemen’s population was surviving on foreign aid and another eight million were slowly starving. They also wouldn’t be able to tell you that hunger and the loss of basic services were causing disease to run rampant through the country. Cholera, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and even diphtheria were surging to levels unheard-of in the modern era.

And anyplace that could be described using words like “forgotten,” “rampant,” and “war” eventually became a magnet for terrorists. They were yet another disease that infected the weakened and wounded.

An unusually high ridge became visible to the northwest, and Rapp dropped to the ground again, studying it through his lenses. He could make out a gap just large enough for a human about three hundred yards away.

“Whatcha got?” Coleman said over his earpiece.

“The cave entrance. Right where they said it would be.”

“Are we moving?”

“No, it’s backlit. We’ll let the sun drop over the horizon.”

“Roger that. Everybody copy?”

Bruno McGraw, Joe Maslick, and Charlie Wicker all acknowledged. The four men made up about half the people in the world Rapp trusted. Probably a sad state of affairs, but one that had kept him alive for a lot longer than anyone would have predicted.

He fine-tuned the focus on his binoculars, refining his view of the dark hole in the cliff face. It was hard to believe that Sayid Halabi was still alive. If Rapp had been any closer with that grenade, it would have gotten jammed in the ISIS leader’s throat. But even if his aim had been way off, it shouldn’t have mattered. The blast had brought down a significant portion of the cavern he’d been hiding out in.

The collapse had been extensive enough that Rapp himself had been trapped in it. In fact, he’d have died slowly in the darkness if Joe Maslick wasn’t a human wrecking ball who had spent much of his youth digging ditches on a landscaping crew. Oxygen had been getting pretty scarce when Mas finally broke through and dragged him from the grave he’d made for himself.

Despite all that, the intel on Halabi seemed reasonably solid. A while back, someone at NSA had decrypted a scrambled Internet video showing the man standing in the background at an al Qaeda meeting. The initial take had been that it was archival footage dredged up to keep the troops motivated. Deeper analysis, though, suggested that