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Arctic Wargame Jones Ethan




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Also by Ethan Jones

Tripoli’s Target (Justin Hall # 2)

Carved in Memory: A Justin Hall Story

Burying the Truth

The Last Confession

Fog of War — coming out on June 4, 2013

Praise for Arctic Wargame

“Arctic Wargame puts unique characters in an unusual place, which is becoming more important to the entire world. There's a lot of action in a very cold, but very important part of the world.”

— Larry Bond, author of New York Times bestselling thrillers Vortex, Cauldron, and The Enemy Within, and co-author of Red Storm Rising with Tom Clancy.

“Loved the book and would like to read the next one.”

— D. P. Lyle, MD, author of the Samantha Cody thriller series and the Dub Walker thriller series.

“Laden with action, compelling figures, and intriguing settings, this is a great read.”

— David Freed, author of Flat Spin and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

“Always looking for new series, and this one is a great intro to Canadian Special Forces man, Justin Hall… Smooth with dialogue and paints a vivid picture, with great pace.”

— Adrian Magson, author of the bestselling Harry Tate spy thriller series.

Praise for Tripoli’s Target

“Tripoli's Target is a great read, but I kind of lost track of who was double-crossing who. Ethan makes it all come out straight in the end. And there are race cars…”

— Larry Bond, author of New York Times bestselling thrillers Vortex, Cauldron, and The Enemy Within, and co-author of Red Storm Rising with Tom Clancy.

“There's a lot to like in Tripoli's Target. It starts with a bang with action in Tripoli… The descriptions of the locale are good and give a nice feel to the action.”

— Andrew Kaplan, author of the bestselling Scorpion spy thriller series.

“Taut, exciting and bang on the genre… very well done indeed.”

— Thomas Mogford, author of Shadow of the Rock.

Dedication

To the brave women and men defending our country,

whose names we will never know

Acknowledgements

This work would have not been possible without the great support of my wife and son. I would like to thank Ty Hutchinson, Kenneth Teicher and Claude Dancourt for their helpful suggestions. I am also thankful to my great editors and proofreaders at Last Draft Editing.

Prologue

Ghadames, Libya
Six months ago
October 10, 3:00 a.m.

The sand dunes sank into darkness as a curtain of clouds dimmed the glow of the crescent moon. Justin limped closer to the small barred window of his prison cell. His bruised chest pressed against the rough surface of the bloodstained wall. He squinted and tried to stand on his toes for a better look. The rusty shackles clawed against the scarred skin of his ankles, and the heavy chain rattled on the cement floor.

“Quiet. Be quiet, you bastard infidel,” a guard growled in Arabic from down the shadowy prison hallway.

Justin stood still and drew in a deep breath, the cold night air of the Sahara desert filling his heaving lungs. Everything went silent again. No rapid steps rushing to his cell. No swearing bellowed by other inmates. He lifted his head, wrapped his free hands around the iron bars, and clenched his teeth, ignoring the jolts of pain from his fingers. With his eyes about an inch over the windowsill, Justin scoped the landscape, searching for the long-awaited rescue team.

Abdul, his connection within Libya’s Internal Security Agency who lay in the cell next door, had confirmed their escape was to take place early that morning. Their previous attempt the night before had failed, despite the inside help of one of the terrorists. Justin hoped this time their plan would be executed with no glitches.

At first, he noticed nothing except the rugged outlines of the steep dunes and the whitewashed walls of the sleepy town. Straining his eyes, he peered again. A small shadow slithered toward the prison wall. Justin blinked to clear his vision and stared at the approaching figure.

Bent at the waist, the shadow advanced at a rapid pace. It quickly disappeared from his sight, and he wondered whether the man had encountered a guard.

Justin’s heart pounded. He placed his ear to the wall and sensed a low grating noise. Someone, the shadow he hoped, was scaling the wall.

The window was at least twelve feet above the ground. He wondered how long it would take the shadow to reach it. A long minute dragged by and Justin was still alone. He breathed faster and faster and urged the man on the freedom side of the wall to make good time.

Finally, a hushed voice whispered in Arabic, “Abdul, Abdul, it’s me, Bashir. You there?”

“I’m Justin,” he replied softly.

“You’re the Canadian agent. Where’s Abdul?”

“In the other cell, around the corner, but that one has no window.”

“When did they move him?”

“A few hours ago, after they gave him a good beating.”

“Can he walk?”

“I think so.”

Bashir went silent for a moment. Justin looked up, but could not see the man’s face through the window. He asked slowly, “Bashir?”

“Shhhh.”

A few seconds later, he heard a scraping sound. Bashir was offering him a large metal key through the window bars. “That’s for the shackles,” Bashir said under his breath, “and this is for the guard.” He produced a black dagger.

Justin grabbed the handle and weighed the weapon in his weak hand. A ray of moonlight glinted off the ten-inch blade.

“Can you do this?” Bashir whispered.

“Yes.”

“You have only one chance. I’ll wait for you and Abdul in two black Nissans by the main gate. Then we’ll drive across the border to Tunisia.”

Justin frowned. “What about the hostages? The two Canadian doctors?”

“The Algerians moved them from their safe house to another location, out of the prison but still in town. My men are on their way there.”

“And Carrie?”

“Yes, your partner is with them.”

Justin breathed a sigh of relief. “OK. I’ll make sure Abdul and I meet you by the gate.”

“You’ll have to be quiet. About twenty men are guarding the prison, and we can’t defeat them all.”

“OK.”

“Abdul knows the way, but if you can’t free him, walk down the stairs and go left. The hall will take you to a small courtyard on the ground floor. There will be a guard or two by the gate. You need to cross into the house next door.”

“Downstairs, then left, then to the house,” Justin said, finding it a bit difficult to concentrate on Bashir’s words.

“Yes. Get to the roof of the house and drop down along the side facing the mosque. Follow the road leading to the main gate. Is it clear?”

“Yes, it is.”

Bashir’s clothes rubbed against the wall, and then silence returned to Justin’s cell. He stared at the key and the dagger in his right hand. Stepping back from the window, he was careful not to jerk the chain and alert the guard beyond the solid metal door. The key fit into the shackles’ padlock. He coughed loudly as he turned the key to cover the dull clunk of the lock snapping open. Now almost free, he removed the metal loops from around his ankles.

First imprisoned in Tripoli after their hostage rescue operation went wrong, Justin and Abdul were subjected to torture by the Algerian hostage takers for two days. After Justin and Abdul attempted an escape and killed a guard in the process, the Algerians — with the help of the Libyan secret police — moved them to Ghadames, an isolated and less risky place in their minds.

Justin wasted no time. He took a deep breath, gripped the dagger tightly, and called out to the guard, “Hey, open the door.”

“Shut up,” the guard roared back.

“I need to talk to you.”

“No. Just shut up.”

Justin banged twice on the heavy door.

The guard’s voice grew louder as he drew nearer to the door. “What’s the matter with you? You want me to break your leg?”

Justin slammed his fist against the door.

“That’s it. You asked for it,” the guard shouted.

Keys clattered as the guard struggled to find the right one to unlock the door. Justin stepped to the side and lifted his dagger high, waiting for the right moment. His hand shook. The weapon felt heavy, straining his muscles.

“I’m going to beat some sense into you now,” the guard barked.

As the guard shoved open the door, Justin thrust his hand toward the man’s throat. The blade slashed deep under the man’s thick chin, severing his windpipe. The guard dropped dead into his stretched arms, blood sputtering from the man’s mangled neck.

Justin used the guard’s black robe and turban to wipe the blood stains from his face and his arms. He stripped the man of his keys, his side arm — an old Beretta 92 pistol — his AK-47 assault rifle and two magazines. Justin dragged the body to a corner of his cell and locked the door behind him.

He tiptoed to Abdul’s cell. On the second try, he found the right key. As he opened the door, the powerful stench of sweat and urine almost twisted his stomach inside out. Abdul was lying against a wall, asleep.

“Abdul, Abdul, wake up.” Justin rustled him.

“Huh? What?” Abdul mumbled with a big yawn.

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