Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lazar's Mission (Jack Lazar Series) by Kevin Sterling Chapter 1

Lazar's Mission (Jack Lazar Series) by Kevin Sterling
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A Sexy, Fast-Paced, Edge of Your Seat Thriller

The Jack Lazar Series has it all from mystery and suspense to action, humor and sensuality

Jack heads to Egypt to investigate a crash-landed World War II fighter plane that was recently discovered in the middle of the Sahara. But something remarkable was left onboard, and people will stop at nothing to possess it.

An Egyptian Girl with Blue Eyes? Just Stunning.

But Jack soon finds himself in the middle of a hornet's nest as he becomes enthralled with Dalia, an exquisite woman of Egyptian and English descent whose father is the Egyptian Head Consul to the UK, not to mention a formidable ex-agent with the Mukhabarat. The man's skills and weapons come in handy as he and Jack join forces to battle a faction that has plans to kill millions of innocent people and subject the world to their twisted ideologies.

A Race Against Time

The trail leads to Northern Europe as all hell breaks loose. And before long, it's up to Jack and Jack alone to cheat death as he struggles to save Dalia, her father, and scores of unsuspecting people from the plot of a deranged madman.

Chapter 1

June 28, 1942
“C’mon, girl… I know you can do it… Yes, that’s
the stuff.”
Royal Air Force Flight Sergeant Daniel Walker was
relieved to have managed a textbook takeoff from
Landing Ground 115 in the injured P-40 Kittyhawk, and
soon he was on his way to Kibrit Air Base, east of Cairo,
for repairs.
It was necessary to force the stick right as the aircraft
left the ground, but that was a common practice with the
P-40s to compensate for engine torque, so it didn’t worry
him much. The thing he was most concerned about was
the faulty oil pump, and he hoped it would hold on long
enough to carry him to his destination.
Truth be known, Daniel was relieved to get away
from the chaos for a couple of days. The German Panzer
Army with their huge legion of tanks persisted to drive
British forces eastward into Egypt after they foiled
Lieutenant-General Ritchie’s assault and decimated the
Eighth Army’s forces. In no time, the Germans had
punched through the Gazala line, circumvented the
Cauldron and took Tobruk in Northeast Libya, rousing
Daniel and the rest of RAF Squadron 260 from Baheira
Airfield and driving them to Landing Ground 76 near
Bir El Malla. But that only lasted a few days before the
Germans advanced again, denying the Eighth Army a
chance to regroup, and the men of Squadron 260 found
themselves traipsing eastward from one landing ground
to another across Northern Egypt as they endeavored to
provide support from the air.
In the meantime, the squadron’s role was
transitioning from aerial combat and ground attack runs
to bomber escort missions, giving rise to a new
nickname for their American-made P-40s that was really
catching on—namely, the “Kittybomber”. Of course,
they still had to ward off marauding Luftwaffe
Messerschmitt pilots, who were cleverly picking off P-
40s while they flew low and slow during air support, so
that meant aerial combat wasn’t going away any time
The Curtis Kittyhawks proved to be nimble and
effective in the North African theater, despite their
competitive disadvantages in aerial combat at higher
altitudes in Europe, but the English were still
outnumbered in the sky and outgunned from the ground,
so it was wreaking havoc on the squadron’s aircraft. And
with the addition of this new bomber support role, they
were starting to drop like flies.
Thank God the P-40s could take a beating, and this
little lady was no exception, her body full of holes from
bullets and flak, rendering the fuselage fuel tank
unusable. But at least it shifted the plane’s center of
gravity forward to help with maneuverability, and Daniel
felt confident the wing tanks alone would provide plenty
of fuel for the trip.
Then there was the issue with her cowl flaps, which
were stuck closed, causing the coolant temperature
warning light to incessantly pop on, but Daniel kept
richening the fuel mixture to compensate, hoping the
cooler air at higher altitudes would eventually take care
of the problem. Add all of that to the oil pressure issue
and a radio that no longer functioned, and he had a fine
mess on his hands. But she was airborne now, and the
gents at Kibrit would coax her back into shape in a jiffy.
It was hot as holy hell in Egypt that day, so the
bustling wind from the open canopy was a welcome
treat, and Daniel was just about to celebrate his good
fortune when he realized the directional gyro heading
was wrong. It had to be. If he was flying 45 degrees due
east as the thing suggested, the Mediterranean Sea would
be visible to his left. But there was nothing but sand
around him as far as the eye could see, and he chastised
himself for not paying closer attention.
He glanced down to the compass, even though he had
already confirmed in preflight that it had blown out
weeks ago, and he wasn’t surprised to find it void of
fluid and lifeless. He banked the plane right, keeping his
eye on the directional gyro as he completed a sweeping
test turn—at least one hundred and eighty degrees—but
the instrument hardly moved. Not good.
Daniel had plotted his course in the tent before
heading out, as usual, but without a way to determine his
heading, it was for naught.
Why didn’t the blithering oaf of a pilot who last flew
this contraption report the issue with the damned
directional gyro?
What about using the sun? A great idea if it were not
straight up in the sky without a hint of which way it
intended to go next. If he had only departed first thing in
the morning as he had originally planned, he could have
turned toward the sunrise, found the Nile, and followed
it north toward Cairo. But not at this point.
Daniel’s thoughts turned to last night when he
revisited his favorite P. G. Wodehouse novel for the
tenth time, and he was now strangely able to relate to a
line from Bertie Wooster, who said, “I’m not absolutely
certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare
who says that it’s always just when a fellow is feeling
particularly braced with things in general that Fate
sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.”
Stifling an anxious chuckle, Daniel pondered the
issue at hand and concluded he had been traveling
southward. North would have plopped him over the
Mediterranean, west would have thrown him into direct
fire from the Afrika Corps, and east would have set him
on course. But hopefully his test turn had pointed him
back in the general direction whence he came, so it made
the most sense to keep the aircraft straight and level to
the best of his ability and hope he found the sea
again…that is, before he ran into a Messerschmitt.
Yes, the P-40s gun magazines were fully loaded, but
his damaged plane wouldn’t stand a chance against a
German fighter in her current condition.
A red light blinked on the instrument panel.
Bloody hell! Now what?
It was the coolant temperature warning light again,
but Daniel quickly discovered it had nothing to do with
the cowl flaps this time as the engine began to bog
down, and black smoke puffed out of the exhaust stacks.
His RPMs and manifold pressure were dropping despite
his moving the throttle to full, and he knew there was
only one explanation. The oil pump had finally failed,
and he was in a heap of trouble.
Dash it all!
There was only one choice—put the aircraft on the
ground before the engine seized up and left him piloting
the equivalent of a bloody anvil with wings. He nosed
the P-40 downward toward the endless sea of sand
below, the hands on the altimeter spinning counterclockwise
as the plane pushed under 2,000 feet and
plummeted fast.
A pit seized Daniel’s stomach as the RPMs persisted
to drop and even more smoke billowed out of the
exhaust stacks. It was becoming clear that he may not
have enough thrust for a proper landing, assuming the
engine managed to stay alive that long at all. The anvil
scenario was starting to look more likely than not.
But wait. What if he utilized the momentum of the
dive, pulled up a few hundred feet above the ground,
glided until his speed dropped below 175, extended the
flaps, and set her down on the desert floor? That way, he
wouldn’t be so dependent on the engine alone, and
whatever thrust he had left would just help things along.
Yes. That was good. His wheels were already down
since the main hydraulic system for the landing gear was
shot, and he had decided after takeoff not to go through
the trouble of using the hand pump to crank it up and
down, especially since the flight wouldn’t involve any
combat. So he didn’t have to mess with that and could
just concentrate on extending the flaps. And fast.
Then it occurred to him that the gear might rip off the
underside of the plane when he touched down. Or even
worse, would it dig into the sand, cause a sudden stop,
and catapult him end over end?
A pang of terror hit his midsection as the image of a
fiery, tumbling crash raced through his mind, foretelling
his imminent demise.
But what other options were there?
The parachute? Maybe. But who knew when it was
last checked or which of the brilliant blokes on the
ground had packed it. Several times now, he had seen
pilots eject during combat, only to fall to their deaths
after their chutes didn’t open, so he wasn’t about to stake
his life on that.
No. He would somehow get this injured bird on the
ground without killing himself, no matter how scary the
prospect seemed, and it was critical he put everything
else out of his mind now.
The ground came at him like a speeding train, and he
heaved back on the stick as he reached 800 feet. The
plane felt like it weighed a ton, but he continued pulling
as she finally leveled off around 300. The airspeed
dropped quickly after that, hitting 175 MPH in just a few
seconds, and he started losing altitude again as he
frantically yanked back and forth on the hydraulic hand
pump to extend the flaps. The propeller was still turning
as the engine spat and popped, but it probably wasn’t
doing much good anymore, so it was all up to his
ingenuity to get her safely on the desert floor.
Daniel felt like everything was happening in slow
motion as the P-40 briefly leveled off and skimmed over
the surface before slamming into the Sahara, skating
across the sand and rocks until the landing gear buckled
and collapsed.
Another sudden drop, an even harsher impact, and he
pitched forward into the seat harness before snapping
back, the noise deafening as the ground tore the
underside of the aircraft to shreds. The control stick
shuddered in Daniel’s grasp as he watched the propeller
rip off the nose and cartwheel over the right wing before
disappearing behind him. A menagerie of chaos and
destruction swallowed him, taunted him, and it seemed
inevitable that his death would be the finality of it all.
But in a heartbeat, the plane stopped, leaving him
alive but gasping for air as a cloud of sand settled around
him, only to be replaced by wafts of black smoke.
Somehow, but for the grace of God, he was alive.
And like flipping a switch, the blazing heat of the
desert returned, the intense sun baking his face and
promptly turning the cockpit into an oven. He could
smell burning oil and hear the hiss of the overheated
engine as it finally seized, and he couldn’t think of
anything better than getting the hell out of that damn
cockpit, hopefully never to find himself in an airplane
He uncoupled the seat harness, which had done its
job nicely, and he tossed the straps to either side. The
blessed thing had held strong, most likely saved his life,
and prevented him from receiving any serious bumps or
bruises from the crash landing. If he actually managed to
get home alive, he vowed to send a letter of thanks to the
boys at Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company in the
He emerged from the cockpit and jumped to the
ground as he scanned the area around him. The terrain
was mostly sand, of course, but he was surprised by how
much solid rock there was. That explained the frightfully
loud landing and why, after the gear collapsed, the
propeller ripped off.
Judging from the skid marks, the plane hadn’t
traveled all that far on the ground, but at least it stayed
upright and didn’t burst into flames. The propeller sat
just a few yards behind and to the right of the rear
stabilizer, each of the three blades curled at the tip as a
result of impacting the rock. Black smoke continued to
trail into the air from the engine compartment, but it was
finally starting to wane.
Daniel could hardly envision what his next step
would be, but one thing was for sure. He needed shelter
from the sun.
He peeled off the backpack, drew out the parachute,
and draped it over the aircraft’s rear stabilizer, anchoring
it to the ground with anything he could find to fashion a
crude tent. It was awfully sheer and still allowed heat to
radiate through, but it was better than nothing.
Then he pulled the radio from the plane along with
some batteries and closed the canopy to protect the
cockpit from sand and sun. Logically, he knew the plane
or any components inside it would never be used again,
but it seemed like the right thing to do.
Huddling under his makeshift shelter, Daniel tinkered
with the radio for a while, hoping for just a few seconds
of functionality to make a distress call, but it was a
fruitless endeavor. The blasted thing didn’t even eke out
a spark of static.
He let out a deep sigh.
There he was, in the middle of the Sahara with no
mode of communication, God only knows how far from
the nearest settlement. It was the sort of predicament he
had read in many stories, and his recollection was that
they never ended well.

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