Price of Duty by Dale Brown is the 21st book in the Patrick McLanahan series, where the U.S. and its Western allies come under a diabolical Russian cyber warfare attack in this action-packed military techno-thriller.
In a top-secret location deep in the Ural Mountains, Russian President Gennadiy Gryzlov has built his nation’s most dangerous weapon since the atomic bomb—a fearsome tool to gain superiority in Russia’s long-running battle with the West. From inside Perun Aerie—an intricate network of underground tunnels and chambers that is the heart of the Russian cyber warfare program—he is launching a carefully plotted series of attacks on an unsuspecting U.S. and its European allies.
The first strike targets Warsaw, Poland, where Russian malware wipes out the records of nearly every Polish bank account, imploding the country’s financial system and panicking the rest of Europe. When Stacy Anne Barbeau, the besieged American president, fails to effectively combat the Russian threat, Brad McLanahan, on some well-earned R&R with his new Polish girlfriend, Major Nadia Rozek, is called back to duty.
As the Russians’ deadly tactics escalate—including full-scale assaults on Europe’s power grid and the remote hijacking of a commercial airliner that kills hundreds of civilians—McLanahan and his Scion team kick into gear, arming themselves with the most advanced technological weaponry for the epic struggle ahead. A patriot in the mold of his father, the late general Patrick McLanahan, Brad knows firsthand the price of freedom.
With the world’s fate hanging in the balance, will Scion succeed in turning back Gryzlov before he can realize his terrifying ambition to conquer the globe? And what will the toll of victory be?
PERUN’S AERIE CYBERWAR COMPLEX, IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS, EAST OF PECHORA, RUSSIA
LATE SUMMER 2018
Wrapped in stillness and silence for over three hundred million years, the mountain’s vast inner recesses now echoed with the measured clatter of boots and echoing voices. Construction units, laboring around the clock for months in brutal conditions, had carved out an intricate network of tunnels and connected chambers—piercing layers of solid rock already ancient when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards, Gennadiy Gryzlov strode briskly along a brightly lit passage, heading deeper into the warren called Perun’s Aerie by its makers. He found the word choice entirely apt. Perun was the old Slavic god of war, fire, and mountains, famed for hurling lightning from clouds like those that so often shrouded the jagged, icy peak soaring two thousand meters above their heads.
Sentries in thick overcoats and fur hats snapped to attention as Gryzlov passed, presenting arms with a flourish and the click of highly polished boots. With thinly veiled amusement, the forty-two-year-old president of the Russian Federation glanced at the shorter man stolidly keeping pace with him. “Colonel Balakin’s soldiers appear disciplined and alert, Koshkin. I trust you can say the same about your Q Directorate people?”
Major General Arkady Koshkin nodded. “Yes, Mr. President, I can,” he said confidently. His mouth twisted in a slight smile. “While I admit that the dress and mannerisms of my komp’yutershchiks, my tech geeks, are sometimes a bit eccentric, their expertise and ingenuity are remarkable. The weapons they are forging for us prove this beyond question.”
Like most senior officers in Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB), Koshkin wore civilian clothing rather than a service uniform. Eyes bright with intelligence and ambition gleamed behind thick
spectacles. Long ago, he had concluded that cyberwarfare—the use of computer technology as a means to attack and disrupt the vital infrastructure of an enemy power—was the next true revolution in military affairs. Facing skepticism and hostility from slower-witted and more conventionally minded superiors, he had worked for years to win converts among the ranks of his nation’s rising political leaders.
Now those tireless efforts were coming to fruition. He had been given command of a new and highly secret unit within the FSB. Organized at Gryzlov’s personal orders, Q Directorate was responsible
for all covert cyberwar action conducted beyond Russia’s borders.
They came to an intersection and turned right, ending up at a solid steel door. Koshkin pressed his palm against a biometric panel. The door swung open, revealing an enormous room crowded with
racks of computers and other electronic equipment.
Flat-panel displays dominated the chamber’s walls. Power conduits and fiber-optic cables snaked their way toward a large bare patch in the middle of the tiled floor.
Gryzlov swung around, taking it all in. He nodded toward the open space. “That’s where your supercomputer will go?”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Koshkin said. “It’s a new T-Platforms machine, faster and more powerful than any of their previous designs. The unit will be installed, tested, and fully operational in a matter
“Very good,” Gryzlov said. “What about the rest of your infrastructure?”
“Mostly complete,” Koshkin assured him. He took out a tablet computer and tapped its small screen. One of the large wall displays flickered to life, showing a detailed, three-dimensional schematic of the Perun’s Aerie complex. A chamber deep in the heart of the facility glowed green. “All internal and external power needs are met by a compact 171-megawatt KLT-40M naval nuclear reactor. As a result, this complex is, effectively, entirely off the grid, connected to the outside world only by deeply buried and highly secure communications links.”
The Russian president nodded. He moved closer to the display, studying it intently. “And your primary defenses?”
“Virtually impregnable,” Koshkin replied. He tapped his tablet again, bringing up a new map, this one depicting the narrow valleys and steep slopes surrounding Perun’s Aerie. “An interlocking web of sensors—IR-capable cameras, radars, motion detectors, and the like—ensures that no enemy can approach undetected, either by air or on the ground.” More areas glowed red on the big display. “Behind the sensor network, Colonel Balakin’s engineers have sown dense, carefully camouflaged, minefields. These barriers will channel any attackers into kill zones covered by antitank, machine-gun, and mortar fire from concealed bunkers.”
“And if the enemy attacks from the air?” Gryzlov asked with deceptive mildness. Before taking over his family’s highly profitable oil, gas, and petrochemical companies and then going into politics, he had been a serving officer in Russia’s air force. And he knew from bitter personal experience the kind of horrific damage precision-guided bombs and missiles could inflict.
“Our close-in air defenses include hidden SAM and antiaircraft batteries in pop-up emplacements sited high on the mountain above us,” Koshkin replied. “In addition, Colonel General Maksimov has obeyed your orders to station interceptors at Syktyvkar, including his first operational Su-50 stealth fighters. We have a direct secure link to those air units, and fighter jets can be overhead in twenty minutes.”
Gryzlov stepped back from the display. He clapped the shorter man on the shoulder. Otlichnaya rabota! Excellent work!”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Koshkin said, striving to conceal his sense of relief. In public appearances, Russia’s youthful, good-looking leader radiated charm, confidence, and calm. Those closest to him knew the fierce temper and manic, often uncontrolled, rage that lurked behind the facade. Failing Gennadiy Gryzlov always carried a high and painful price.
From the book PRICE OF DUTY by Dale Brown. Copyright © 2017 by Creative Arts and Sciences LLC. On sale May 16 from William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
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Dale Brown, former U.S. Air Force captain, is the superstar author of 21 action-adventure “techno-thriller” novels. Fourteen of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers. He is also the co-author of the bestselling DREAMLAND techno-thriller series and writer and technical consultant of the Act of War PC real-time strategy game published by Atari Interactive and the Megafortress PC flight simulator by Three-Sixty Pacific. Dale's novels are published in 11 languages and distributed to over 70 countries. Worldwide sales of his novels, audiobooks and computer games exceed 12 million copies.