Authors: Randy Wayne White
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Randy Wayne White writing as Carl Ramm
It didn't anger James Hawker that Con Ye Cwong, head of North Vietnam's secret police during the Vietnam war, had become a millionaire drug kingpin and warlord on one of the South Pacific's Solomon Islands.
And it didn't make Hawker angry that Cwong still hated Americans and American soldiers enough to order his drug pushers to single out servicemen on bases around the world, supply them with cheap drugs until they were hooked, then up the price until they were out of dough â¦ or dead.
And if the American servicemen didn't have money, military secrets might be traded for a week's supply of cocaine or, for the really adventurous, heroin or opiumâif the military secrets could later be sold to, say, the Soviets.
For Cwong, the war in Vietnam would never be overâ
never be over. He didn't just hate American military men; he despised them. He loathed them.
He wasn't satisfied with just killing them. He wanted to humiliate them as well.
And he made use of his drug network to do just that. Several hundred jobbers around the Western world worked for Cwong, most Vietnamese, many former North Vietnamese soldiers. Cwong's base operations bought and processed the dope, then saw it safely to the jobbers, who sold it wherever they could but preferred American servicemen as targets. Cwong's jobbers quickly became wealthy, riding in Cadillac limos, living on expensive estates. And Cwong, just as quickly, became rich, a millionaire many times over because he got a cut of everything right down the line. And with his drug monies, he reinvested in armaments. He compiled a major military arsenal right there in the Solomons, and he sold his weapons to the highest bidderâas long as the bidder was a communist. After becoming one of the black market's most successful drug dealers, he just as quickly became one of the world's largest military arms dealers. He was the major supplier of weapons to the terrorist organizations of Iran, Libya, Eygpt, Israel, and any other country that had an outlaw group whose goal was the total destruction of Western civilization.
No one ever tried to short-change Cwong. He was absolutely merciless when someone got in his way. It was whispered among the drug haunts even in the U.S. that to cheat Cwong was to invite the same kind of physical torture he used to torment American prisoners of war.
If someone did try to cheat him, he never tried it again.
But none of this angered Hawkerânot the drug running or the gun running or the torturing or the killing. And yet it was Hawker who had been called upon to stop it. It was Hawker who had been orderedâsecretly, of courseâby the United States government to declare private war on Cwong's men, on Cwong's drug trafficking. He had been hired, in short, to assassinate Cwong and take along as many of Cwong's men as he could.
But, for all of this, Hawker couldn't let himself generate any anger toward Cwong, and for one simple reason: Anger was for amateurs.
And when it came to private warfare, James Hawker was anything but an amateur.â¦
Hawker's first target was a private estate on Lynnhaven Bay, not far from Norfolk, Virginia. It was one of those huge stone mansions on grounds the size of a park, on the water, built during the days when the Chesapeake Bay was the place where eastern seaboard millionaires came to shoot ducks, drink good whiskey, and enjoy their wealth.
Cwong's men had bought the place to stockpile the drugs they were dealing to sailors from the naval base. They usually brought the drugs up the coast from the Carolinas, then either into their private dock by vessel or their private runway by plane.
The local law had figured it out long ago. It had made two raids on the house, come up with plenty of dope and bags of cash, enough fail-safe evidence, in fact, to put the Vietnamese running Cwong's Norfolk operation behind bars foreverâexcept none of them ever saw the inside of a jail. Those the judges didn't let go free on technicalities, Cwong's bank of high-priced American lawyers got off. Racial discrimination, the lawyers called it, picking on the poor Asians just because of their colorâwhich was nonsense. But then the news media picked it up, all about the racist WASPs, and that was that. End of case, end of story.
Finally Norfolk's local cops gave up in frustration, swallowing their pride and dignity and letting the madness go on because they knew better than almost anyone else that, when lawyers and big money and the news media get involved, law rarely has anything at all to do with justice.
But then the Norfolk cops began to hear the rumors, began to hear the whispered stories of a dark-haired man who had come to town, a stranger who would take care of everything if he was just left alone, left to his own devices. And when he got done, said the rumors, there would be no drug stronghold left, let alone Vietnamese punks to sell the drugs.
The local cops liked the stories; they liked the tales of the tough vigilante who had blasted the bad guys in Detroit and L.A. and New York and a dozen other cities where the goons, the punks, and the big-money crime bosses had taken control. They told the stories over coffee between the endless duties and calls and the numbing workload.
The stories were fun, even though no one really believed them.
At midnight Hawker got into the black Chevrolet rental car and drove through downtown Norfolk until he found Ocean View Drive. He drove slowly along the edge of Chesapeake Bay, looking at the water, making sure he was not being followed. Then he saw the turnoff, the long private drive that led to the estate inhabited by Cwong's drug merchants, and he went on past without slowing. The guards at the gatehouse sat inside, smoking and talking. They paid no attention to the passing car.
Half a mile down the road, Hawker turned into the lane he had scouted earlier that day, a public access to a chunk of scraggly beach. He parked the car and got out. He wore a black Aran wool sweater against the icy November wind, and had a navy wool watch cap pulled down low over his ears. His pants were wool too, soft British khakis with plenty of oversized cargo pockets.
He wore all wool for a reason. He knew he was going to get wet, and wool was the only thing that would keep him warm despite being soaked.
Taking a tin of military greasepaint from his pocket, he darkened his face, his gray eyes peering out. Then he opened the trunk of the car and selected his weaponry. He wanted to travel light because he knew he was going to be in the water, swimming. But he also wanted enough firepower to handle any situation. For a long gun, he chose the Colt Commando automatic rifle. The Colt was really a cutdown version of the M-16. It had been developed during Nam where a heavy-firepower weapon was needed that could be used in extremely close quarters. The barrel had been shortened and a flash eliminator had been added. The stock was telescoping; when stored, the weapon was a little over two feet long.
The Commando fired standard 5.56-millimeter ammunition from twenty-round clips. With the safety tang on full auto, it fired eight hundred rounds per minuteâif you could feed it that fast. Hawker had nine preloaded clips in the webbed belt around his waist; one was locked into the weapon and another taped to the stock for quick access.
Fixed atop the weapon was the new Star-Tron MK 303 night-vision system, the waterproof version especially developed for the navy SEALS. The scope looked like an expensive underwater lens. The Star-Tron's complex mirror system sucked in all available lightâfrom the moon, stars, streetlightsâthen amplified it more than fifty thousand times. The resulting image, seen through the scope, was as bright as high noon on a cloudy day.
Hawker switched on the Star-Tron, testing it. He pointed the Commando down the beach, and suddenly it was eerie red daylight. He could see waves feather on the cold, rough Chesapeake, and he could see the big cement dock-and-wharf complex that was controlled by the Vietnamese, a high barbed-wire fence bordering the property and running clear down into the water. He could see a brace of guards too, see them so clearly that he had to ignore the impulse to dive back into the bushes for fear of being seen himself.
Hawker switched off the scope, slung the weapon securely over his shoulder, barrel pointed downward, and returned to the business of arming himself. He belted a .45 Smith & Wesson magnum around his waist, put a few carefully selected explosives into his small canvas backpack, then took out the Cobra crossbow, a deadly weapon developed for the military that fired small aluminum arrows or bolts. With the razor-sharp killing points screwed on, the bolts had an effective killing range of two hundred meters and could travel a hundred meters in less than a second.
Remaining in the trunk was a lone M-72, a free-flight disposable missile launcher. The M-72 was a telescoping tube that fired the extremely powerful sixty-six-millimeter HEAT missile. Even fully armed, the launcher and missile weighed less than five pounds, yet carried enough destructive power to destroy a high-flying jet fighter five miles awayâor an entire building.
Hawker closed the trunk and headed off down the beach, carrying his weapons, staying low, moving quietly in the shadows of the trees that lined the beach.
Two hundred yards from Cwong's Norfolk stronghold, he stopped and hid the missile launcher in the bushes.
Then, looking this way and that, he waded out into the water, the Cobra crossbow in hand.â¦
He half waded, half swam.
The water was numbing cold, rough. He had to fight the heavy surf the entire way. But it was the only way to get within striking distance without being seen.
He had talked to enough people, had done enough research to know that entering Cwong's Norfolk compound from the front or either of the sides would be tough, if not impossible. So that left the back side. The sea side. And Hawker knew that the toughest options were usually the most effective.