Force Ten Doubling the Penny: Mark Shaff
The world of technology is widespread and is supposed to help us connect with many different countries, people, places providing a plethora of information with just a flick of a mouse on our computers or the power of the enter key. Cell phones, computers, landlines, bus schedules, train and plane schedules and even computer boards at the airports and bus and train stations run on some special type of technology. What happens when someone decides to take that power away from us and hack into the internet and brings it down so that all communication stops? What happens when a storeowner makes a sale and the cash register crashes and you cannot complete the transaction or contact a credit card company?
Marcus Diablo is a member of Force Ten and his organization has been asked to look into the internet problem. With his two sons Brodie and Garrett they live in a place called The Beginning and are watched over 24 hours a day. The security level is high and the technology and abilities of those that are part of this group are quite unique and definitely some defies all others as we meet The Colonel who is in charge of this group, Force 10 members hoping to find a place to lay low as this was their top priority and they needed a training facility deep in Australia’s Simpson desert. Meet J.T. or Jonathan Tiberius whose ability to hand into anything is starling and amazing. With a monitor filled with pictures of many different people and each one showing current terrorist related attacks and conflicts, of which there are numerous daily. Marcus is tough and at times the reader might think he was losing control of his sanity, over the top and his techniques totally unorthodox but that’s what makes him tick and so unique.
Author Mark Shaff goes the back story about the colonel and how he ran black ops for the U.S. military and at which time and even in the present he has access to the latest military information and weapons technology. But, what happens as they look at the screen and it goes dark? Who created the situation where the Internet Connectivity hubs are subjected to a disruptive event? New York, L.A. and Seattle crashed first. The Internet operates through these hubs and what happens when this happens on Black Friday of all days the busiest shopping day of the year?
From the author of Redemption Road, we once again meet a striking,, colorful and hardnosed character, Marcus Diablo who lost his wife Annie when murdered during a terrorist attack that was not only horrific but televised for the world to see. Each scene is so graphically, vividly and perfectly constructed that you the reader will feel like you taking part in each and every action and mission. As Brodie and Garrett have yet to come to grips with their mother’s death, Marcus has to focus on their safety, their needs and that of someone new in his life Chaya who not only understands him but adores and loves his sons too. But, how can he move ahead when he still cannot deal with the past and to prove that Annie will always be in his life and his sons we hear her voice guiding each one in their dreams or as they visit her grave as she encourages them to forge ahead, deal with the present knowing she will never leave them and always come to them when needed. When all of the systems of communications are down, transportation is at a standstill, the markets and banks cannot conduct business Marcus needs to refocus, define and decide on his role as a member of Force-Ten a special private military contracting firm. Their brand of justice goes outside of the law as we meet some other players namely those that have cost the world the Internet but that is not their only goal. Believe it or not that was just a simple diversion what they planned is much more diabolical and deadly.
Deputy Director Nathan Reynolds and Colonel Webb discussed Force Ten’s take on the Internet problem To recap they realized that at 11 A.M. Pacific, 2 P.M. Eastern three of the largest and most interconnectivity hubs in the United States were attacked. As they started at the screen and realized the sites were The Westin building in Seattle, 60 Hudson Street in New York City and One Wilshire Date in Los Angeles where data management and storage services for diverse array of private sector business are provided. No toilets to techs and Internet transmission centers are vital so how will they find out who is at the heart of this? With these facilities locked down, Black Friday, debit and credit card transactions at a standstill and teams were on the way to figure it out but as usual and not uncommon as we see in the news today, riots, looting, fights, streetlights out, the highways and streets huge parking lots and who knows when calm will ever be restored.
What will be do without email, GPS directions and even Facebook and UTube and the social media? As author Mark Shaff takes us inside a store where the manager is trying to conduct business in this electronic store and things go haywire.
Somewhere in a suite in an exclusive hotel Peter Revant is meeting with the head of a cartel talking about the outages and the fact that they were spreading to Canada and Minnesota. Threats are made all around as someone makes the head of the Gutierrez and offer he thinks they cannot refuse. Enter Dameer Maro and Adriana who has another agenda in mind as several viruses are being prepared to be inflicted on many innocent people hoping to wipe out populations but why? Adriana is toxic and dangerous and her main plan is to pretend to care about him and in the interim plan just how she can use his lab skills and her talent to address what she claims are serious problems of economical manufacturing, packaging and storage. Adriana was planning her move and she and Dameer had five hundred patches similar to the ones they had been working with. Each one contained a virus of some type and when given would make the recipient deathly ill. Imagine producing bacteria or viruses not controlling them and putting her hands on any number of deadly contagious agents.
Hearing Revant talk about Visionary’s lab and the three underground stories and understanding his mission without stating why it is explained that directional antennas are the key and showing Peter a black dot in his palm and each one is the color of electrical tape: white, red, green, blue to coordinate with the colors of common electrical wiring. But, this is just the tip of the dangerous iceberg. Revant had other plans and he needed Sheikh Nazi al-Mohmoud to be on board. But, how when he wanted to do good for his people and not destroy the United States any longer? As Peter met with the Sheikh pretending to want to fin his son knowing the truth and telling him Marcus came to him while his grandson Jabril is present and would be the next victim on someone’s list. Things spiral out of control when both of Marcus’s sons are targeted, one is kidnapped and the other is forced to kill 2 people for the first time at the age of 13. Finding Garrett would not be easy but bent on doing that with the help of Chaya and his team he hoped it would not be too late. So, why someone want to pay to have him kidnapped yet not hurt? What was the master plan? Lives are on the line as Adriana puts her own plan into motion, takes out someone close to her and then leaves her position, takes another with the doctor that trained and took her in as a child and the deadly plot as only author Mark Shaff can create takes a different turn.
As Garrott is kidnapped another child is in danger as well as a master plan to hunt Marcus and to try and bring the Sheikh back into the fold in order to turn him against the United States. But, things do not always take on the turn that is expected as Garrott might be brought to safety and Brodie deals with the aftermath of killing two people and Annie focuses her dreams and her thoughts on her family and someone is about to pay for her murder.
When the realization about the thousands of people dying from Mersa, Listeria, Avion Flu and E-Coli is finally understood as the underlying plan of someone out to control and rid the world of certain populations and wanting five hundred people brought to the United States with the promise of hope, a home and a job, so many were tricked and brainwashed as Marcus and his team race the clock to not only find the Sheikh’s grandson and bring him home safely but find and stop the pandemic that seems to becoming worldwide.
Who tracked his sons and who sent them to kidnap one or both of them? With the Colonel and his connections and J.T. hoping to track them and the tracking system they had in place how could they miss? But, now adding in his brother Glen to the team, Marcus hoped that the attack on the ranch which scared him and his boys and keeping his entire family safe was not only paramount to him but first and foremost.
While they were strategizing Adriana and Dr. Koch had other plans with their medical supplies and their quest to supposedly give many people the flu vaccine. Color coding the shots was really a great innovative way of keeping track of what each person was getting. Avian Flu, MRSA, Staphylococcus, Ecoli and Listeria with bandages to match. So, how will Marcus and his team once they learn about this pandemic stop it and how does it all relate to the death of Annie? Feeds go dark. Outbreaks in Africa, deaths all around, services shutdown and Force Ten dealing with all of it and in the middle of it all are Brodie and Garrett who are trying to deal with the death of their mother, Chaya a special person in their lives and hoping that Marcus will someday open his eyes and realize they all need her.
An ending so terrifying and a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of all and to save the world from what one person has inflicted and even face his wife’s killer. As Arianna rationalizes that if the CDC did not focus on producing bacterial or viruses can they focus on controlling them. She has no remorse. Cold-hearted and evil. Will the Sheikh get back his grandson? Will Marcus realize that there is much more to life than just Force Ten? What is the significance of the Epilogue and will things change for Marcus and his boys and from what I can tell there is much more to come and just who will be brought back because this war is not over yet.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine