The Lucifer Crusade

The Lucifer Crusade by Mack Maloney

Book: The Lucifer Crusade by Mack Maloney Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mack Maloney
Tags: Suspense
    launchers started showing up in recon photos sitting atop the formerly luxurious casinos and mansions from Nice to Monte Carlo, the Brits knew the Faction was serious about vacationing in the south of France.
    "Now, they take potshots at passing aircraft every once and a while," Sir Neil was telling the group of officers, including Hunter, as they studied a lighted map of the Riviera. They were in the control room of a Norwegian frigate, one of four anchored in a small port on the deserted Mediterranean island of Majorca, several hundred miles to the southwest of France. "They got two airliners last week. Either their troops get bored very quickly and like playing with the ack-ack guns or it's the Faction's way of telling everyone that they've claimed some exclusive beachfront property."
    Hunter shook his head. He wondered if the battle—
    hardened soldiers of the Faction sat up all night playing roulette with the pussies of Iron Fist.
    "The trouble is that we have very little hard information about the area," Sir Neil continued. "We have to assume that, besides whatever Iron Fist can do, there might be at least a couple battalions of Red Army Faction soldiers lounging around the city."
    Three days had passed since Hunter, Heath, and Raleigh had left Algiers. As per their contract, four of the fifteen Norwegian frigates had arrived in Gibraltar during the night, where they had picked up a British Special Air Services battalion and a hundred of Yaz's men and proceeded to Majorca. RAF
    airborne combat engineers had already secured a landing area and docking facilities on the island. The frigates arrived the following night, shortly before Hunter landed his F-16 at the island's secret airbase, along with six heavily armed Tornados.
    Now, for what seemed like the one hundredth time, Sir Neil meticulously went over the plan to retrieve the Saratoga. Those in attendance in the control room with Sir Neil and Hunter included Heath, Raleigh, two SAS officers, Yaz, and the Norwegian commander-Gjaff Olson, who was also the skipper of the command frigate.
    "We have to do three things before we can even think of moving the carrier,"
    Sir Neil explained. "One, we have to suppress the antiaircraft guns in Villefranche. Two, we have to secure the beach-we'll call it Gold Beach-near where the Saratoga is stuck. And three, we have to secure the Saratoga itself.
    "Three Tornados will be responsible for the first objective. They will attack the town's SAM sites. Don't worry about whether we have justifiable prov-98
    ocation - remember those bastards have shot down airliners full of innocent people. As for securing Gold Beach, we'll use the landing crafts on frigates one, two and three, and put about 600 men of the SAS battalion ashore. The choppers from those ships will stand by for any rescue duties.
    "Once there, the SAS will set up an aggressive beachhead and occupy the three blocks of buildings right on the shoreline. This should give us a reasonable buffer zone and prevent anyone from Villefranche from getting close enough to accurately fire on the carrier.
    "The 300 remaining SAS troopers will be in' charge of boarding the Saratoga itself. We've got one helicopter to work with, so two squads of SAS will chopper right onto the deck of the carrier. If there is anyone aboard - either Fist or Faction-these troops will have to deal with them. The rest of the 300
    will be on board this vessel, frigate four. They will move up alongside the carrier and go up on ropes provided by the chopper squads. By that time the ship should be secure.
    "Once we are certain that the carrier is in our hands, we'll chopper about a hundred of the Yank sailors aboard. We'll be running the whole operation from right here in frigate four."
    The room was quiet while Sir Neil let the information sink in.
    "As you know, we'll have to hold the beach for at least six hours until the Yanks can get the carrier's primary systems running," he continued. "Captain

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