The Typhoon Sanction

 

The screenplay for THE TYPHOON SANCTION is available through Admiral House Publishing


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                                            THE TYPHOON SANCTION 


Be careful or CIA Field Officer Cruiser, a master at manipulating people and circumstances, will manipulate YOU in this story of vengeance, murder, and global terrorism.

 The Typhoon Sanction is Wes's homage to Robert Ludlum, who graciously hosted the launch party for Wes' best-selling thriller, THE FUND (VAPORS in hardcover) 

 Mixing spies and counterespionage with old vendettas and small town murders, this novel pits the protagonist, CIA agent Jay Stewart, against his Chinese enemy Phun , who hunts him halfway around the world to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Stewart, a master of misdirection who manipulates key people to do his dirty work, provides a whodunit element to this international story as the reader tries to make sense of four mysterious small-town murders. The more obvious the truth appears, the further the reader gets from it, ultimately being captured by the same manipulative skills that made Stewart such a successful Field Officer.            





THE TYPHOON SANCTION was chosen as one of five finalists in the Thriller Category for the GLOBAL EBOOK AWARDS to be presented to the best new books submitted by publishers in 16 countries.  THE TYPHOON SANCTION is available for all e-readers, and is available in print in the United States, and in several European countries through Amazon Europe.  
           






Reviews:
  

Fast-paced, hard-hitting action
KNB (Virginia Beach, VA) 
The Typhoon Sanction is full of international mystique and fast-paced, hard-hitting action like you'd expect from DeMott. The setting in the Outer Banks of NC made this book extra fun for me. Loved the setting. 






Chapter 1

The smog that so often shrouded Tiananmen Square was gone, carried off by the breeze that cooled the thousands of Beijing residents playing checkers or practicing tai chi on the large expanse of concrete. Hundreds more – mostly Chinese tourists – cued up for busses to The Great Wall or nearby silk market, while others stared silently at the entrance to the Forbidden City, intimidated perhaps by legend and reluctant to go in, as if the labyrinth of rooms beyond the gates were still and forever off-limits.

Alone on the steps to Mao's mausoleum, a CIA field officer, code-named Cruiser, tapped numbers into a cell phone while a signal-scrambler, piggybacked to the battery, changed encryption code two times every minute.

"Operations," came an already flat voice, further deadened and delayed by distance and unscrambling.

"Stand by," Cruiser said as two Chinese men in black pants and white shirts, one with a scar over his left eye, dashed up the steps toward him. But they passed just as quickly, the one with the scar enthusiastically recalling the bloody protest of 1989, the million students who'd swarmed the square, and the one man with a briefcase who'd heroically stopped a line of tanks.

 "Deputy Director of Operations," Cruiser said, once the men were out of range and he was safe – although safe could only be defined tenuously and with a fine sense of relativity. Sometimes it meant nothing more than a tiny pile of rubble that deflected an enemy's fire. But more often, at least for Cruiser, safe was a result of being ordinary and unnoticeable as he moved efficiently through the misdirection and espionage of his world, a world recently overrun by military firepower and overt cowboy antics. Cruiser would be one of the last field officers to spend his entire career overseas under non-official cover, and he knew it.

"What have you got?" asked Nick, a man of fine details and important specifics who was ideally suited to sit behind a desk. He had no strength or training to be threatening anywhere else, but his mind and his powerful title enabled him to orchestrate world events to whatever best suited America.

"It's Sarin gas."

 "How much?"

 Cruiser waited on the code change, using the time to compare this assignment to dozens of others, looking for similarities or mistakes or anything useful until Run into the jungle! I'm trying to help you pounded in his ears and his mind jammed.

"How much?" Nick repeated.

Cruiser pushed away that long ago tragedy. "A thousand liters. Equivalent to three hundred chemical warheads."

"Jesus. Your earlier report mentioned VX gas."

 Twelve more seconds for the change. Seven. Two. "That too, but less quantity. Works a lot faster though."

"Phun's ship is Liberian registry?"

"Yes."

He waited for the next code change, making a last mental run-up of the actions he was setting in motion. Nick would immediately brief the Director of Central Intelligence on the plan. The DCIA would, as usual, bypass the National Intelligence Director and go straight to the White House and brief the President. The President would, in all likelihood, approve it.

If the President didn't approve it, the CIA would build a somewhat thicker layer of deniability and execute it anyway, secretly pressuring a foreign navy to sink Phun's freighter as it crossed the Pacific, or cutting it in two with one of their own freighters, sinking both ships if necessary. Anything to keep Phun's floating bomb from making port in Norfolk.

"Phun bought the ship with his father's money," Cruiser said. "He got the toxins off the missiles Russia destroyed under treaty with us."

 "That son of a bitch killed his old man for that money. What kind of an animal is this guy?"

 "A rabid one."

"Shipping out of what port?"

 "Vladivostok. Phun didn't want to move that stuff across the border."

Eight seconds until the code changed. Cruiser looked around. One of the two men on the steps snapped a photo of the other, and then they laughed as they walked back down to the square.

 "It's a single hull ship with five tons of explosives spread throughout the hold, just above the water line. The explosion will propel the gas into the air, and depending on the wind he expects to contaminate all warships at the Naval Operations Base and kill a million or so people in Hampton Roads."

"Okay, Cruiser, it's about a twenty day ocean crossing. We'll intercept the ship. You take care of Phun. He's been a nuisance before, but now I'm sanctioning him."

"I understand. No problem."

 "Killing Phun? You can't be serious."

 "Of course it's a problem. But I'll handle it."

"Lots of unfortunate things happen at sea that can never be explained. I'll see that his sunken ship is one of them. Let me know when you're completed."

 "Roger that. Good luck with the intercept. I'd hate to see America dirty-bombed."

 Cruiser hung up and walked toward home, surprised he'd just used such a useless word as hate. Words like fear, shame, and terror, most often shrouded or sanitized by much nobler words like courage, necessity, and expedience, all fit neatly into the puzzle of his life, but hate was awkward because he had carried his for so long and unknowingly. The only way that could have happened was by his refusal to face it, which meant he'd allowed something so ugly to fester inside him, dormant and waiting.

As he walked toward home he tried, as always, to see his surroundings as others might. More tourists were arriving at the square, pouring out of the subway and busses and crowding kiosks to buy souvenirs, but noticing nothing other than the obvious. A few were white and round eyed, searching constantly for anyone with whom they could communicate in English, yet instinctively suspicious of the dozens of choppy translators offering to serve as tour guides.

Soldiers stood ceremoniously on guard, keying on the attention they received more than the possibility of an attack. Their job was to serve as a deterrent by being an obvious threat, whereas the career Cruiser had chosen required that his actions were never obvious, and the results never carried his fingerprints.

 But had he really chosen his career? If he was truly running – no, he was running – his career had been nothing more than an escape from something that scared him rather than to something he wanted.

It took ten minutes to get to his safe house, which was nothing of the sort. Down a tight alley and through a door with broken hinges, the small, dirty room was not even part of a house, nor was it anything close to safe. Rather it was a small old office building that had long ago worn out and then served as a whorehouse until its derelict appearance scared off the patrons. Ever since the girls left and the illegal bar closed, the rooms had been let on a daily and cash only basis.

 But it was perfect for Cruiser because he had nothing to hide that he didn't carry around at all times, and the safety and comfort he sacrificed was more than offset by his invisibility. People disappeared into places like that and no one ever cared or came looking for them.

 He'd seen enough of the CIA's new breed to know they would never settle for anywhere so perfect, trying instead to stay unnoticed in hotels with familiar names, maids who searched everything, and bellmen whose primary source of income was information. It was a new CIA these days, one in which Cruiser had very grave doubts, but he was determined not to concern himself with its success or failure once he got out.

He changed into clean but worn-out clothing before going to work at the vendor's market, all the while hoping it was actually possible to kill Phun, and trying to ignore the reality that headquarters could have assigned an entire team of elite operators to kill him, and even they couldn't guarantee success against someone invisible.

Although he trusted Nick and usually gave Langley the benefit of the doubt, Cruiser had seen enough in his career to wonder if someone had already devised a plan to win regardless of whether it was he or Phun who died. After all, Cruiser knew a career's worth of lies that had moved men to upper floors with windowed offices, as well as the truths that could send them back down again, or worse. As sweaty nights continued to spin into new and dangerous days, Cruiser understood how the Assistant Directors would also hate his ownership of the facts behind their ascensions. That kept him watching his back, although there was nothing new about that.

 But there were other things that were new, and this mission was one of them. Before the attacks of 9/11, headquarters would never have sanctioned an individual like Phun, because for all of Phun's well earned reputation for cruelty and stealth he was really nothing more than a rich and powerful brat lining up to take his shot at America. He wouldn't normally have justified the political risks or international fallout involved in assassination, but the U.S.G. had been sanctioning high-threat loonies like Phun more and more often because ignoring them was just too risky.

 From the beginning, Cruiser knew that Operation Typhoon – some analyst's careless play on Phun's name – would challenge the best of his abilities by pitting him against his toughest target ever. Phun was not only a savage, he was at least as much a ghost as Cruiser. No verifiable photos of Phun existed anywhere in the media or Chinese archives, and no one was able or willing to give a description. The only thing Cruiser knew at the start was that Phun was an outstanding warrior who loved nothing more than to stain his hands with the blood of his victims. Phun disseminated that information widely and with proud delight, like a threat to all potential challengers.

It had taken months just to learn that Phun had a wife and kids, and where they all lived. So for the three months since, Cruiser had risen each morning in his tiny room, cleaned himself as best he could in the stained sink down the hall, and then hobbled uneasily to the market on Phun's street, where he posed as a crippled vendor, hot in his makeup and disguise, his legs cramping as he kneeled on a woven mat and chanted his sales pitch in Mandarin.

 But even with his finely honed ability to alter his appearance, he could never look Chinese. So as he'd done so often in so many other countries, he'd created a mixed-breed disguise that served him well enough. His mother could have been Chinese and slept with an American businessman in Hong Kong or a Merchant Marine in Shenzhen. Perhaps she'd been a Caucasian who'd slept with a traveling Chinese athlete or entertainer. It really didn't matter what people thought when they saw him, just as long as it kept him from drawing attention. Kept him invisible in plain sight. Vanilla.
 
Week after week he'd blended just barely into the homogenous covey of retailers who hawked fake Rolexes and knock-off Timberlands from wooden carts and tiny storefronts, and Cruiser worked just as hard to sell his black market DVDs – a product he'd chosen specifically because the growing crackdown on intellectual property rights would prove him a criminal if he ever needed to convince one of Phun's men.

 Within a week, the other vendors accepted him fully as a handicapped product of miscegenation who wasn't selling much from his mat, and so whenever they ate a meal they traded their best scraps and meatiest castoffs for whatever movie was least likely to sell, trying to help him survive without offending him. Cruiser lived on those scraps so he would not only look but smell like the peasant he pretended to be.

 But he never saw anyone he thought might be Phun or a member of his family, even with near-constant surveillance on the fortressed home across the street. All he'd managed to do was secretly click photos of the men who visited.

 His only break came a few weeks back when the local police arrested one of Phun's men for murdering an American businessman. Cruiser immediately called Nick, who once again did the impossible, and in less than an hour the man was free to go, or at least would be once Cruiser had his chance to interrogate the doomed soul.

Under Nick's specific instructions, two uniformed police officers marched the man ceremoniously down the street in full view of a very curious public. They opened the door to the empty office Cruiser had found on short notice and pushed the man inside. Then they left.

"Have a seat," Cruiser said in Chinese from the deepest shadows of the darkened room. "Tell me what you told the police in order to get released."

 "I said nothing."

 "I don't believe that and Phun won't either. You know he's not one to take chances,"

 "Of course not. He will kill me."

 "There's nothing I can do to stop that."

 The man's eyes stayed level as he clenched the fingers of his trembling hand.

 "He will kill your family too."

   "There is no question."

 "He'll show more respect, though. Less savagery than the torture you'll endure."

    "I pray he will honor them with that." 

"I might be able to save them."

 "I assume that's why we're talking."

 "You'll need to go to Phun, as though to plead for their lives. You'll die there, of course."

 "You'll save my family?"

 "I will."

 Cruiser put the man in play two days before calling Nick because he was sure Langley was going to authorize Phun's killing. If they hadn't, he could probably have called his asset back, but that hadn't happened and so Cruiser kneeled on his mat and waited. His legs ached, pumped full of adrenaline yet forced to stay still as his assassin went into Phun's house. If everything went better than Cruiser had any reason to hope, in a few minutes his murderer would blow himself and Phun to pieces in his study.

 A young woman stopped to buy a DVD, standing directly in front of him and blocking his view of Phun's house. He glanced up and forced a quick guess as to whether or not she might be part of Phun's countermeasures, but there was nothing to support that suspicion so he gave her a smile and the DVD, rushing as though closing shop and anxious to leave. She ate up twenty seconds, perhaps a little less. His assassin couldn't have gone more than a few steps into the house.

Suddenly the bomb exploded in the wrong end of the house, somewhere near the kitchen. The huge blast shattered shop windows all along the street, blowing over vendor's carts and hurting Cruiser's ears. Everyone panicked as huge pieces of Phun's house filled the air like bombs while smaller pieces became shrapnel.

 As Cruiser abandoned his handicapped pretense in order to dodge a flying piece of timber, two men stumbled out of the less-damaged shambles at the far end of Phun's house. They were coughing up dust but they had their guns out and ready to fight off whatever attack might be coming. 

He'd seen both of them before and felt pretty sure that neither man was Phun, and no one else ran out of the house. So either Phun wasn't home or he'd evacuated to a bomb shelter or escape tunnel. He was definitely alive, though. The two men wielding guns would never run that risk of arrest unless Phun was still alive to save them.

Cruiser was still searching the scene when an old woman plowed into him as she ran with a bloody child in her arms. The kid was badly wounded, but if he lived there didn't appear to be any other serious casualties outside of Phun's house, and that meant Cruiser's attack was in line with his personal mandate that no one died who wasn't associated with the threat. He could have blown up the whole block to kill Phun, and perhaps that's what he should have done, but that price was too high for Cruiser, just slightly higher than failure and therefore un-payable, although it forced Cruiser to stare now into the eyes of failure for the first time in his career.

 Nick would still be able to sink the freighter on the open ocean, but Phun was rich enough to buy more ships and weapons, or find even more damaging ways to attack America. He had to be killed, but Cruiser had failed to do it, and now Phun would abandon the wreckage of his home and completely disappear, becoming more of a ghost than he'd been his whole life, his already intense hatred of America amplified by the attack he would guess came from the States.

 Cruiser took a last look at the men with guns and then chased after the old woman who was halfway down the next block and running in the direction of the hospital.


Three Months Later



 Jay Stewart sat in his Jeep near Hatteras lighthouse, dry and comfortable on the rainy morning as he watched surfers between swipes of his windshield's wipers. Their youth gave him another dose of satisfaction that the little boy in China had lived and was perhaps even now having a similar kind of fun with his friends.

 A shard of a large kitchen knife had exploded out of Phun's house and ripped through his guts, but even as the hysterical old woman stood screaming for help inside the hospital, Cruiser was calling in favors and making threats to make sure the kid got the best medical care available anywhere, every bit as good as a military general or political minister. If he hadn't, the jagged chunk of stainless steel would have killed the boy.

But that happened months ago in what was truly another life, just one more closed chapter of his Cruiser era that ended the moment he kept his promise to his assassin by resettling his family in Houston.

 The food, language, worn clothes and dirty rooms were all dark memories on which Cruiser had thrown the switch and turned out the light. It was finally time for him to be Jay Stewart, remembering, if possible, how to be a peaceful man who thought innocently of those around him, stopped worrying about drawing suspicion, and moved without expecting attack – all things about which he'd fantasized since his murderous romp through the jungle.

 There were a few challenges ahead before he could get there, and they kept him from joining the surfers as the heavy rain that battered their faces – the last rain the Carolina coast would get before the approaching hurricane hit – glassed over the six-foot waves that broke in clean lefts. His first purchase after settling in Buxton, even before buying his home, had been a new surfboard that he'd carefully leaned into the corner of his motel room, and took out surfing a few times. He wanted to go home and get it now, but he still had too much to do as he learned his new career as a realtor. So he'd exiled himself from the water.

 When he'd turned fifty a month ago, surfing – finding the emotional balance to be in harmony with nature – once again became a top priority. Ride waves for a couple of hours in the morning and then go for breakfast and talk about different breaks with young surfers who would accept him without really knowing him, the way surfers always did if no territorial issues were at stake.

But in reality, they did know him, or at least knew of him. Since he'd moved back from China he'd heard the story several times, and seen his picture in every souvenir store and tourist trap on the island.

"True photo," the surf shop owner told a wide-eyed kid who interrupted the conversation he and Stewart were having about sales figures and inventory. "Not one of those computer enhancements."

"Outrageous," said the young surfer as his buddy bragged about having the same picture hanging in his bedroom.

"That was one hell of a hurricane," the shop owner said. "Destroyed the coast, flooded the eastern seaboard, and sank tankers with sixty-foot waves. Yet that guy paddled out. He was the only one who dared it."

Stewart glanced at the photo of him in a full banzai stance, feet wide apart and arms stretched out, screaming down the face of the biggest wave he'd ever seen anywhere, including magazines. Both the weather and the wave were dark and ominous like they were out to kill him, nature in a bad mood and refusing to be tamed, while his white board looked like an angel or ghost, an ethereal specter in the raging clutches of disaster.

"Naah, it's gotta be fake," said the kid. "How could he even paddle out in that mess?"

 "I was there," the storeowner lied. "Nothing fake about it. Just a gutsy guy going way over line."

 "Wow," said Stewart, just to make them look at him as a test of recognition, something he'd done thousands of times as Cruiser, and usually with the same empty result. "Crazy bastard."

The kids turned back to the photo without giving Stewart another thought, and although that satisfied him it also showed how powerfully his past still ruled his present. He'd always loved doing dangerous things for which he was recognized by the smallest number of people – none, if at all possible – but he needed to accept being recognized if he ever wanted to have friends in his new life.

As he waited for the kids to leave, he doubted he could ever change. It seemed rooted too deeply, one of his few character traits that was original issue and not a product of training. He'd been secretive since his youth, and so the Agency had nothing to do with it beyond their skillful manipulation.

 But who knew for sure in a situation like his, when after twenty-five years of service to America the amorphous Cruiser, who existed only in shadows and rumor, was about to disappear altogether?

It was Nick – his boss at Langley – who first suggested retirement when Cruiser returned from Beijing.

"You really want people shooting at you when you're fifty-five or sixty?"

 "I didn't really fail in China, if that's what you mean. I did manage to divert Phun's attention from war with America, Nick."

"Sure. Now his only interest is killing you, the guy who murdered his family."

"Certainly makes him predictable and lowers his threat level."

 "It also creates a problem that highlights the advantage of retiring. God knows how easily you could slip into obscurity in that little Carolina town you love so much."

His cell phone rang and a woman with an English accent said, "Hello, Mr. Stewart?"

 As he sat in his Jeep he fought the instinct to stay silent, or to confirm her identity or clearance, trying to imagine what kind of a person he might have been if his life hadn't been derailed by that first sight of a life draining through two bullet holes in a man's head.

"Yes," he answered, but despite his hope to sound engaging it still had that flat, give-away-nothing monotone he'd spent decades perfecting.

 "Uh…bad time? Did I catch you at a bad time?"

 He tried again. "Sorry. Yes, this is Jay Stewart with Hatteras Realty."

 He almost laughed about how pissed off his dead enemies would be to know the ultra-professional government agent who'd killed them was now hawking sand and lumber and summer rentals for something to do just to stay busy.

 "It's Jennifer. About the house on the sound. I met some nice people in town and lost track of time and now I'm running late. Terribly bad manners, I know." 

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