Read Tom Clancy Under Fire Online

Authors: Grant Blackwood

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #War, #United States, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Military, #Suspense, #Thrillers

Tom Clancy Under Fire

BOOK: Tom Clancy Under Fire
8.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



The Hunt for Red October

Red Storm Rising

Patriot Games

The Cardinal of the Kremlin

Clear and Present Danger

The Sum of All Fears

Without Remorse

Debt of Honor

Executive Orders

Rainbow Six

The Bear and the Dragon

Red Rabbit

The Teeth of the Tiger

Dead or Alive
(with Grant Blackwood)

Against All Enemies
(with Peter Telep)

Locked On
(with Mark Greaney)

Threat Vector
(with Mark Greaney)

Command Authority
(with Mark Greaney)

Tom Clancy Support and Defend
(by Mark Greaney)

Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect
(by Mark Greaney)


Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship

Armored Cav: A Guided Tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment

Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing

Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit

Airborne: A Guided Tour of an Airborne Task Force

Carrier: A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier

Into the Storm: A Study in Command

with General Fred Franks, Jr. (Ret.) and Tony Koltz

Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign

with General Chuck Horner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz

Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces

with General Carl Stiner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz

Battle Ready

With General Tony Zinni (Ret.) and Tony Koltz

G. P. P

Publishers Since 1838

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

Copyright © 2015 by The Estate of Thomas L. Clancy, Jr.; Rubicon, Inc.; Jack Ryan Enterprises, Ltd.; and Jack Ryan Limited Partnerships

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Blackwood, Grant.

Tom Clancy under fire / Grant Blackwood.

p. cm. — (A Jack Ryan Jr. novel)

ISBN 978-0-698-40486-1

1. Ryan, Jack, Jr. (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Intelligence officers—United States—Fiction. 3. Missing persons—Investigation—Fiction. 4. Political fiction. I. Clancy, Tom, 1947–2013. II. Title. III. Title: Under fire.

PS3602.L3259T66 2015 2015012181


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



Also by Tom Clancy

Title Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49


Tehran, Iran

how you spend your time. You never get it back.

Of all the lessons he’d learned from his father, this one truly resonated with Jack Ryan, Jr.—no small feat, as he’d received the advice as a teenager with little more on his mind than girls and football games.
Go figure,
Jack thought.

In this case, with his lunch appointment predictably late, Jack was playing a round of “watch the watchers,” a game introduced to him by John Clark. His location, Chaibar, an outdoor café on a quiet Tehran side street, made the game more challenging. Nestled in the courtyard garden of a renovated villa, Chaibar was full of couples and small groups seated at wrought-iron tables. Jack caught glimpses of muted flowered murals behind potted plants and hanging vines. Overhead, boughs cast the courtyard in dappled sunlight. While most of the murmured voices were speaking in Arabic or Persian, Jack also caught snippets of French and Italian.

The premise of “watch the watchers” was a simple one: He’s in the field for Hendley Associates, aka The Campus. He’s under surveillance. But by whom? If you’re largely unfamiliar with the nuances of casual Iranian interaction, how do you spot that one pair of eyes paying too much attention to you, or someone whose mannerisms are out of sync with the surroundings? With this checklist in mind, Jack studied faces, body language, banter between this couple, or forced banter among that group.

Jack thought. None of Chaibar’s patrons set off alarms for him. In real life, a good thing; for the purposes of this game, not so much.

If Hendley Associates, aka The Campus, were in fact what it seemed, a privately held arbitrage firm, Jack’s game would have been one of fantasy, but The Campus’s true purpose went much deeper, as it sat squarely in the grayest of areas in the espionage/counterterrorism world—an off-the-books intelligence group answerable only to the President of the United States. Where the CIA was a bazooka, The Campus was a stiletto.

“Pardon, sir. Another coffee, please?”

Jack glanced up. His waitress was a petite twentysomething woman in black-rimmed glasses, her hair completely covered by a light blue scarf. Her English was heavily stilted.

She wore no niqab. Perhaps Kamran Farahani wasn’t simply giving lip service to his administration’s moderate platform. Hell, even a year ago Chaibar might have been subject to a police raid; to the previous government, coffee shops were incubators for youthful subversives.

Jack glanced down at his empty cup. The shop’s version of coffee made a Starbucks dark roast seem like weak tea.

“No, thank you, two is enough for me. Hopefully my guest will . . .”

As if on cue, over his waitress’s shoulder, Jack saw a man with wild, curly black hair walking into the courtyard, his head turning this way and that. There was no mistaking that mop.

“Here he is,” Jack told her, raising his hand to get the man’s attention. “Give us a couple minutes.”

“Of course, sir.”

The man walked over to the table. Jack stood up, the iron legs of his chair scraping on the cobblestones. They shook hands, shared a quick bear hug, then sat down.

“Sorry I’m late, Jack.”

“I’m used to it. What would a lunch be with an on-time Seth Gregory?”

It had been that way since high school. If the movie started at seven-twenty, you told Seth seven o’clock.

“Yeah, yeah. It’s my only failing. And if you believe that . . . How’s the coffee?”

“It bent my spoon.”

“Puts hair on your chest.”

“How’ve you been, Seth?”

“Sharp stick, my friend, sharp stick.”

Jack smiled. This was Seth’s standard response to such questions. Translation: Doing better than if I had a sharp stick in the eye.

“Glad to hear it.”

“I’ve been here before; I know what I want. The
asheh gojeh farangi
—that’s a tomato stew with onions, meat, peas, spices. Delicious. Huh . . . still no alcohol on the menu, I see.”

“That might take longer. Farahani can’t shock the old guard too much, too quickly.”

The waitress returned. They both ordered the stew. “And we’ll share a basket of barbari bread,” Seth added. The waitress collected their menus and disappeared.

With elbows on the table, Seth reached across and gave Jack’s hand a couple of gentle slaps. “Jack, you look good! I’ve missed you. How ya doing?”

“Never better.”

“I was surprised to get your call.”

“I was thinking we’d have lunch the next time you were in the States. I had no idea you were in the area.”

Seth shrugged, waved his hand. “How’s the family? Olivia? And El Presidente . . . Il Duce?”

“Fine, all fine.”

Jack had to smile, and not just because Seth was one of the few people who called Sally by her given name and refused to call Jack’s father by his correct title, but because this exuberant and near-frenetic questioning was pure Seth Gregory. His friend not only was the quintessential people person, but also suffered from ADHD—emphasis on the “hyperactivity disorder” part. Seth had struggled in school. Jack had been his unofficial tutor.

Jack had always sensed an undercurrent of sadness behind Seth’s gregariousness. Despite having known the man since St. Matthew’s Academy, Jack always felt there was a part of Seth he kept hidden not only from the world, but from Jack as well. Jack had few friends at St. Matthew’s, as most of his classmates had either shunned him as the stuck-up Golden Child of then CIA bigwig Jack Ryan or had been intimidated by the ostensibly lofty circles in which “Spy Boy” orbited. Of course, neither scenario had been true, and Jack had spent his first year at St. Matthew’s trying to prove so, to no avail. But Seth had accepted Jack for who he was—an awkward teenager just trying to find his way like everyone else. Looking back at that time, Jack knew Seth had saved him from withdrawing into himself and spiraling into self-isolation. Seth didn’t give a shit who Jack’s father was, or where he lived, or that he rubbed shoulders with foreign royalty and heads of state at grand dinner parties. In fact, invariably, Seth’s only question about such affairs had been whether there’d been any hot girls at the event and whether Jack had hooked up with any of them in some über-secret room at Langley.

Jack had always regretted not telling Seth how much his friendship had meant to him. Perhaps now was the time. Before Jack could do this, Seth continued his rapid-fire interrogation. Sometimes having a conversation with him was like being in the middle of a verbal tornado.

“What’s going on with Olivia?”

“Sally?” Jack replied. “You haven’t heard? She’s an astronaut.”

“What? Oh, that’s very funny, Jack. You’re quite the commode-ian.”

Jack laughed. “Man, you’re still saying that? It wasn’t even funny when we were fifteen.”

“Oh, it was funny, and you know it. So: Sally?”

“She just finished with her residency at Johns Hopkins.”

“Underachiever, that one. Are you still at that place . . . that financial group?”

“Hendley Associates.”

“Right. Making tons of money?”

“Doing okay,” Jack replied. The true answer was yes. Though the investment side of Hendley Associates was merely a cover for The Campus, Jack and his cohorts had in fact made hundreds of millions playing the world’s markets. Of that revenue, only a fraction paid their salaries. The rest funded the off-the-books intelligence organization.

Seth said, “And how about—”

Jack laughed and raised his hands in mock surrender. “Enough, Seth. You’re wearing me out. Tell me about you.”

“Still consulting. Been on contract with Shell for the last eighteen months. I was based out of Baku until about eight months ago, when they moved me here.”

After high school Seth had snagged a Gus Archie Memorial Scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Engineering. Now, apparently, he was parlaying that into big bucks.

“I like it in Tehran, actually. My condo’s within walking distance of here. Great place.”

“What’s your specialty?” asked Jack.

“Mostly looking at drilling rigs and refining plants. It’s a nice gig. I spend most of my time in Central Asia.”

“Dicey areas.”
Especially the two “stans” from which the Emir, aka Saif Rahman Yasin, sprang,
Jack thought. Helping to nab that son of a bitch had been not only damned satisfying, but also Jack’s first foray into the world of field operations.

Seth said, “We get good training and plenty of security when we need it—Blackwater-type guys, mostly retirees from U.S. Special Forces. Nice guys. I’d hate to get on their bad side, though.”

A sentiment most bad guys share after receiving a visit from Navy SEALs or Army Delta Force, Jack thought.

“Got any investment advice for me?” Jack said.

“No. And you wouldn’t listen if I did,” replied Seth. “You’re a straight arrow, Jack, and you know it.”

Jack shrugged. “True enough. Plus, I’ve got a healthy fear of the SEC.”

Their food came and they ate. Jack followed Seth’s lead, tearing chunks off the barbari bread and mixing it into the tomato stew. It was delicious and filling.

“I was sorry to hear about your dad,” Jack said.

“Yeah. I got your card, thanks. Sorry I didn’t say anything.”

“How’s your mom doing with it all?”

“It’s been three years. Looking at her, you’d think he died last week.”

“It’s understandable.” Seth’s father, Paul, had died of a sudden stroke. Seth’s mother had found him in the study. She’d never fully recovered.

“Man, I don’t know what to do for her,” said Seth. “My sister, Bethany—you remember Bethany, right?—lives about an hour north of her in Georgia. She took her to the doctor, who gave her some kind of prescription—Lamictal, I think.”

“Mood stabilizer and antidepressant,” Jack said. Half expecting Seth to have jumped to another subject, Jack was surprised he was being forthcoming with such intimate details. “How long has she been on it?”

“A couple weeks.”

“If it’s going to start helping, it’ll be any time now.”

Seth smiled. “The benefits of having two doctors in the family, huh?”

“Yep. Osmotic knowledge, I suppose.”

Seth dipped a chunk of bread into his stew, then popped it into his mouth. “So, what brings you to Tehran?”

“Scouting. Iranian markets are starting to open up. If Farahani keeps his course, there’s going to be a boom. Hendley needs to be ready.”

While this was true and was certainly part of the reason for Jack’s presence in the country, this was primarily an intelligence-gathering junket. While poring over the new media outlets blossoming in Iran was informative, there was no substitute for what John Clark, Hendley’s new operations chief, called a Mark I Eyeball inspection. It was a Navy term, Clark had explained. “Walk the streets and talk to people. Best tool in a spook’s arsenal.” So far Jack had neither seen nor heard anything to suggest Iran’s new president was anything but what he seemed—the first true moderate to hold office since the 1979 revolution. Whether he’d last was anyone’s guess.

Jack put that question to Seth: “You’ve been here awhile. What’s your take on all this?”

“Hell, Jack, I don’t know. I came here for the first time after the election. I can tell you this much: Nobody’s been anything but polite to me. I get dirty looks occasionally from some of the graybeards but that’s about it. No one’s ever called me ‘imperialist Satan,’ if that tells you anything.”

It does,
Jack thought. Before Farahani took office, Seth would have had minders on his tail every moment he was outside his apartment. That would’ve been the best-case scenario. And with no reports of SAVAK-style crackdowns on the population, the fact that Seth—an American, of all things—could walk the streets unmolested suggested most of Iran’s citizenry was on board with Farahani’s reforms.

Ceaseless miracles,
Jack thought.

They chatted for another hour and shared half a dozen cups of mint tea from a silver samovar the size of a small terrier until finally Seth glanced at his watch. “Shoot. I gotta go, Jack, sorry.”

Seth stood up. Jack did the same and extended his hand. Seth grasped it and then did something he rarely did: He held Jack’s gaze. “Really good to see you, man. I mean it.”

“You too, Seth.” Jack hesitated. “Everything okay with you?”

“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be? Hey, listen, my apartment’s about fifteen minutes from here.” Seth gave him the address. “It’s right off Niavaran Park. If you’re ever back in town and need a place to crash, it’s yours. Just use the key. There’re steaks in the freezer.”

“Thanks, man, that’s—”

“Travel safe, Jack.”

Seth turned and walked away, disappearing through a vine-wrapped arch.

Key . . . what key?
Jack thought. He sat back down and reached for his teacup. Sitting beside it was a bronze key.

“What the hell was all that about?” he muttered to himself.

Edinburgh, Scotland

As the only member of her team to have spent time in the United Kingdom prior to the start of the job, Helen was unsurprised by the blitz of blinking lights and cacophony of voices filtering through the van’s half-open windows.

BOOK: Tom Clancy Under Fire
8.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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