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Don Pendleton

Firebase Seattle

The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Conduct of Life)

Watch the man and you'll know his god.

I'm just helping all these boys to that great Cosa Nostra in the sky.

Let it eat them.

Mack Bolan, The Executioner (from his Journal)

Prologue

Mack Bolan did not regard himself as a superman. He knew what he could and could not do; he knew his own strengths and weaknesses. And he had learned — in the school of life and death — that knowledge coupled with action and wedded to total commitment would elevate any ordinary man into the ranks of the extraordinary.

Superman, no; extraordinary weapon of war, yes — Mack Bolan was certainly that. He was a craftsman and his craft was warfare. It was a particular brand of warfare in which the warrior became either extraordinary or dead. Bolan remained alive. He had learned his craft well in the do-or-die theaters of Southeast Asia — and he had brought his diploma home to ply his trade in the untidy junglelands of America.

He did not think of himself as a crusader, nor even a patriot — though he was certainly both. He felt no grand exaltation in his self-appointed role as nemesis of the American underworld — though he was that, also — and he took no pride whatever in the knowledge that he himself was officially regarded by his own society as a part of that same underworld.

His name was at the top of the 'hit list' of every Mafia family in the country. Freelancers and Saturday night warriors of every stripe swarmed his trail with dreams of six-figure bounty dancing through their heads. Police establishments throughout the world kept dossiers on his known movements and activities, and he had dominated the FBI's top ten list since the beginning of his homefront war.

What sort of man, in the face of such incredible and overwhelming odds, keeps on keeping on?

In speaking of Bolan in his pre-gangbusting days, friends invariably describe him as a friendly, thoughtful, and kindly man. Aside from his programmed forays against the enemy in Southeast Asia, there exists no evidence whatever to suggest that he possessed a violent nature or even a vindictive streak. The record in Vietnam reveals again and again that he was respectful of the Vietnamese people, that he was responsive to the suffering of the children of that ravaged land, that he inspired lasting friendships and fierce loyalty from his comrades.

Military superiors respected and admired him.

The enemy — knowing him only by his code name, 'the Executioner' — feared and despised him. Enemy commands, in fact, posted rewards for his capture or death.

Combat medics dubbed him 'Sergeant Mercy,' in recognition of his repeated services to Vietnamese victims of war.

The U.S. Army psychological profile of Sergeant Bolan sketched a portrait of a soldier who was self- commanding, nerveless, and responsive to 'asense of higher morality.' Such attributes were considered mandatory for Penetration Team specialists. They had to be men of rare intelligence, self-sufficiency, and highly developed martial skills, with the ability not only to survive alone in enemy country but to wage effective warfare on an individual basis.

Sergeant Bolan was, indeed, an 'executioner.' This was his specialty, his craft, his mission. He had been credited with ninety-five official 'kills' of high-ranking enemy military and civilian officials.

Even in such an unpopular and 'immoral' war, however, Mack Bolan had never alibied his 'specialty' to anyone, newsmen and war historians included. He would and did tell them simply that he had not chosen this war; it had chosen him. He had not requested permission to kill the enemy; he had been trained and ordered to do so. He did not war against men but for ideals.

What sort of a man keeps on keeping on?

The sort, maybe, who can figuratively lay down his life, his identity, his whole reason for existence, in response to a high call to duty. Mack Bolan the man had died in Pittsfield at the gravesite of his mother, father, and kid sister. He had come home not a conquering hero but a grieving soldier on emergency leave — returning only to bury his own beloved dead.

Sam and Elsa Bolan, with daughter Cindy, had become victims of the American homefront. They had died as the victims of tyranny — the tyranny of 'the invisible second government of America' — they had died in the brutalized land of Mafia.

And the 'specialist' thereupon moved his war to a new front.

The Executioner was transported to the jungle-lands of America.

The new war was born. 'I am going to smash them,' declared one lone warrior who had learned to fight alone. 'I am going to destroy the Mafia.'

What sort of man? Bolan's sort.

1

Soft touch

Bolan wore combat black in modified paratrooper rig, a neck-slung auto pistol riding point as head weapon — snugly secured now for the jump — .44 AutoMag in backup at the right hip, belts crossing the chest beneath parachute harness to support a variety of hard-punch munitions. These were, however, 'contingency' weapons. The mission was planned as a soft recon; there were also 'soft-touch' weapons riding the military web. The hard stuff was for emergency punch-out purposes only.

Jack Grimaldi, an old friend from past campaigns, was at the controls of the Cessna skyjumper.

Conversation between the two had been minimal, geared entirely to the point of the problem at hand.

Now Grimaldi cleared his throat and shouted, 'Coming around onto upwind. Altitude four thousand. Check that mark!'

Bolan leaned groundward through the jump hatch, then angled his blackened face into the cabin to shout back, 'Correct five degrees starboard!'

The pilot made the necessary adjustment then reported, 'Check! Course is now two-eight-five!'

They had already made the wind-marker drop, using night-glo nylon to calculate the wind-drift effect. The drop zone was firm. The time was minutes short of 2:00 a.m. It was a moonlit night with broken clouds at eight thousand feet. A thin layer of stratus was forming at rooftop levels far below, like wispy ground fog. Another twenty minutes could see the entire area socked in.

Target was a small island in upper Puget Sound, just clear of the shipping lanes, with a total area of less than five hundred square yards. Smaller still Was the desired landing area — a compound one hundred yards wide by two hundred long, astrong security area protected by high voltage fencing and roving patrols.

Intelligence estimates put a standing hard force of about thirty men on that island. They had not been there for long, nor had the security compound. Until very recently, the island had served as the residence of a Seattle-area millionaire recluse. Improvements had been limited to a smallish, modern mansion and a few guest

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