A civil war rages in
Bougainville, a war of independence or a war of copper
Greedy mercenaries need this bloody conflict to continue. They
eagerly await their deadly cargo of Russian weapons and attack
Off Bougainville, the Empress Maru transports peace negotiators
– and a fortune of refined platinum. The freighter is hijacked
by a ruthless rebel splinter group supported by the mercenaries.
A horrific rampage of rape, torture and murder begins.
A rescue team of pilots are recruited, supported by elite
commandos. Using helicopter gunships, they recapture the ship
and platinum. But a ruthless predator, a rogue Hind helicopter
piloted by determined mercenaries foil their plan and the
rescuers are shot down.
Surrounded in the jungles of Bougainville, time is running out
as eager bands of savage rebels and brutal mercenaries close in.
They thirst for blood, women, butchery and platinum. The Hind,
the mercenaries’ lethal bird of prey, haunts the sky above. The
deadly ordeal that follows is a harrowing gauntlet of terror,
death and destruction.
|At Darwin airport in
Australia, Victor Ryker slid his Dutch passport across
the desk to the Aboriginal Customs official. As the
officer checked the declaration form, he looked the
burly blonde man over. ‘Mister Van Heer - no smoking in
the arrival’s hall.’
Ryker paused briefly, caught out by the use of the false
name in the passport. He said nothing, then used his
mechanical hand to grip the small cigar, took a last
drag and stubbed it out on the side of the customs desk.
The malice in the stranger’s pale blue eyes checked the
Customs officer’s rebuke. ‘The binoculars you’ve
declared, value - $600? I’ll have to see them.’
Ryker unzipped his bag and lifted them out.
‘Yeah, special night vision binoculars . . . for
The officer stamped Ryker’s card and cleared him
through. He checked Leonid Berkei’s passport. Strangely,
the Bulgarian document was stamped, ‘not valid for
Africa’. The officer glanced at the huge man with the
Stalin moustache. He stood motionless; an unshaven
tattooed chunk of chiselled Bulgarian basalt. He wore
khaki fatigues; the shirtsleeves rolled up revealing a
tattoo of an owl brandishing a dagger. The Customs
officer could not identify the emblem. Only one in a
thousand westerners would recognise the symbol of
Russia’s SPETSNAZ and the destructive force it
represented. He cleared the Bulgarian and Kim Hysan, his
North Korean travelling companion through.
They were picked up outside by a well-built Australian
in a Land rover. Steve ‘Semtex’ Saggers was an ex-SAS
commando and like the other three mercenaries, a highly
trained Special Forces soldier.
Ryker wasted no time. ‘Did you get everything, Semi?’
Saggers partly avoided the question. ‘I’ve leased the
biggest low-loader I could find. It’s got a power winch
and rear ramps to take the ‘dozer.’
‘How big is the bulldozer?’ Berkei enquired.
Kim Hysan joined the questioning. ‘Will the bucket carry
enough broken rock as specified?’
‘No worries.’ Saggers stopped the Land rover outside a
fenced yard, just across the highway from the airport.
The low loader, bulldozer and a helicopter all waited
inside. ‘The only problems are the helicopter and foil
weather balloons. That’s the only chopper I could lease
on short notice, an old Bell 47 used for cattle
mustering. It’s a three seater though and should do the
Ryker studied the equipment then turned back to the
Australian. ‘What about the weather balloons?’
‘Couldn’t get ‘em, but there’s a stack at the weather
station over there, on the far side of the airport. No
real security, shouldn’t be a problem . . . but I’ll
need some extra cash.’
‘Same with Tindal airbase. Unbelievable for a military
installation, no surface radar, no perimeter alarms or
patrols - just a three metre fence topped with doubled
barbed wire and a drainage trench.’ Ryker paused. ‘Why
do you need extra cash?’
‘It’s been difficult organising this and besides, I had
to bribe additional parties.’
‘Another twenty thou’ should do it.’
Ryker suppressed his anger and sidestepped the issue.
‘You still an ace with explosives, Semi?’
‘None better. Why?’
‘I’ll agree to your price if you’ll do some extra work.’
Saggers looked elated and relieved. ‘You name it.’
‘I want you to cover our trail so any investigation is
‘What’s the requirement?’
‘Four separate half kilo Semtex packs, each with
integral radio activated detonators and two remote
control transmitters to detonate them.’
‘Piece o’ piss. You need me to set ‘em?’
‘No, you’ll be flyin’ the chopper back. I’ll set ‘em
after we take what we need and you can detonate ‘em once
we’re all clear. I’ll need the Semtex tonight, that
‘No problem.’ Saggers replied as he dropped the three
men off at the Darwin Hilton.
Within six hours, ‘Semi’ Saggers returned with the
specified explosives and remotes. ‘Right, it’s all set
up and ready to go. All you need to do is arm it.’ As he
handed the packs over he changed the subject. ‘Viper,
when do we get paid?’
‘After the job’s done, fly back to Darwin. Meet us here
at the bar ten next morning.’ Ryker packed up the
explosives. ‘Make sure you get the balloons tonight. I’m
headin’ off now, I want to check the truck and ‘dozer
over before we go and especially the chopper.’
‘Right, when do we go in?’
Twenty hours later each man attended to his pre-arranged
duties. Saggers knew the top end well and drove
confidently down the Stuart highway, heading for
Katherine with fifteen newly acquired metal foil weather
balloons and a large amount of block ice. He steered the
Land rover off the main road onto a dirt track. Saggers
found a shady spot in the bush, just north of Tindal Air
Force Base. He turned off the Land rover and relaxed,
daydreaming about how he would spend his newfound
Kim Hysan trailed Saggers by three hours. The slim
Korean sweated behind the wheel of the big low-loader
hauling the huge Caterpillar bulldozer. He had stopped
only briefly to pick up a load of tarpaulins, then at a
disused quarry to brim the bulldozer’s bucket with
crushed rock. Hysan soon found the prearranged meeting
point and settled back awaiting Saggers arrival.
Ryker had flown nearly every type of helicopter
currently in military service. The old Bell 47 seemed
primitive, compared to the hi-tech combat machines he
was used to. Though one of the most skilled gunship
pilots in the world, he had lost his edge. The powerful
mechanical hand responded correctly but never matched
the skill and dexterity of his arm blown off in Angola.
The special rechargeable nine-volt batteries amplified
muscle and nerve response a million times over.
Featuring a wrist with 360-degree rotation, it provided
little more than a novel party trick and unbeatable arm
wrestling. That was his well-kept secret. He survived on
Accompanied by Berkei, he flew the Bell from Darwin to a
secluded spot between Katherine and Tindal air base.
Night approached as they waited for the arranged
Typical of the tropics, the sun set quickly and
dramatically, resulting in a very dark moonless night.
Ryker switched his sophisticated radio to the air base
As ordered, Saggers inflated and tethered each foil
balloon to a nylon string bag containing a ten-kilo
block of ice. He repeated this process fifteen times in
a random pattern along side roads to the north of Tindal
air base. The predetermined melt rate before auto
release of the balloons then lift off was five hours.
At 2300 hours, the Tindal radar controller began
alerting aircrew. ‘All flights, advise four unidentified
flying objects to the north east of the airfield. Remain
clear north east quarter and Blackhawk helicopters
operating in that area to investigate’.
Ryker turned to the Bulgarian and started the engine of
the Bell. ‘That’s it, time to go.’
They both fitted nightscope goggles and armed their
machine pistols. The helicopter lifted off and charged
forward at treetop level, well below the airbase radar.
The confused air base controller continued. ‘All flights
except Blackhawks, advise seven unidentified flying
objects, all moving south and climbing. Hold positions
southern circuit area.’
The base security seemed totally absorbed by the
apparent sudden invasion. Ryker smiled. 'All warfare is
based on deception', he quoted Sun Tsu's Art of War.
They crossed the perimeter fence on the sparsely
occupied western boundary and dropped lower to avoid the
base radar. The Blackhawks were out of sight, probably
well off to the east. Ryker flew directly toward the two
isolated hangars and their confiscated cargo. They
landed half a kilometre to the north and shut down. Both
mercenaries checked their knives and automatic weapons
then climbed out into the quiet humid darkness.