What would you do for your country? In Afghanistan, a US Army patrol is devastated by an enemy with sophisticated weaponry, while in D.C., Pentagon staffer Scott Jenson tips off the ambitious young reporter Brooke Kinley about a billionaire businessman’s involvement in terrorism. But why is the White House determined to protect this businessman, and why does the answer seem to lie in the Canadian wilderness? In a dangerous journey to the remotest parts of the world, Brooke races to prevent a catastrophic attack on America, but can she uncover the real traitor?
Targeted Age Group:: ANY
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When writing Patriot, A.S. Bond drew on her experience of leading an award-winning canoe expedition in Labrador, later the subject of Lost Lands, Forgotten Stories; A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of Labrador published by HarperCollins in North America and Eye Books in the UK (written under the name Alexandra Pratt). This gives Patriot a sense of ‘realness’ that draws readers deeply into the story. And like her heroine Brooke Kinley, Bond has also lived in Washington D.C. and worked as a journalist.
When I sat down to write my adventure thriller Patriot the old advice ‘write what you know’ came to mind. I realised what I knew was wilderness survival. The first in my new series of ‘Brooke Kinley Adventures’, my novel is, in part, based on my canoe expedition in a remote part of Canada, where I travelled with just a First Nations guide through some of the harshest country in North America.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Brooke Kinley may be a journalist like me, but she is’s taller, a better paddler and a lot braver!
“Scramble Scramble Scramble!” The call came at the start of the shift. For Captain Brad Jones and his crew, every trip into combat began with those three words and a siren, now yowling over the desert airfield. Barely seven minutes later, Brad guided his AH-64E Apache gunship into the air. In the front of the tandem cockpit, Brad’s friend, Gunner Chuck Willows, sat at the controls of the Target Acquisition and Designation System.
This was a mission they had flown several times; racing to the scene of an ambush to take out a Taliban position.
“Be advised, we have a small arms fire report and three explosions.” The voice of Joe Blake, Detachment Command back in the Tactical Operations Centre, crackled in Brad’s ear. “And there are two civilian journalists embedded with the platoon.”
“Copy that.” Two miles out from the target, Brad flew the Apache above the bed of a dried up wadi. Lower than much of the surrounding countryside, he knew it would be invisible to the enemy until the last possible moment. The ground flashed by, a herd of goats fled in terror and a small boy waved a stick at the helicopter. Tomorrow’s enemy, thought Brad as he banked to the left, following the dry water course.
“Half a mile, Captain.” Chuck called out the range to target.
“Going visual.” Brad eased up the Apache to a hundred feet. Ahead, he saw smoking ruins of an Afghan compound sheltering the American patrol and the flash of gunfire from insurgents on other side of the valley.
“This is Crazy Horse One Seven, we have forty individuals with weapons, two hundred meters from the compound, over.” reported Chuck to Command, reading the screens.
“Crew, we have personnel west of your position, over.” replied Command.
“We have visual on the target. No strobes. Repeat, no strobes. Confirm position of friendlies, over.”
“Roger that. Friendlies going green, over.”
Moments later, clouds of luminous green smoke billowed up from the compound. Smoke grenades.
“Copy that Command, we have visual on the friendlies. Be advised we’re gonna set up an inbound run, over.” Brad levelled out the chopper.
“Range Mike Bravo 565888617.”
“Mike Bravo 56888617 copy that.”
“Clear to fire.”
A staccato of 30mm rounds from the Apache’s cannon sliced into the fields and the enemy fire over the compound lessened.
“Good shooting.” said Command, as Brad banked away from the immediate danger zone.
“We got multiple enemy positions here.” Chuck watched the screen and counted the heat signatures of at least two dozen more Taliban hiding in the fields. “This is gonna go high risk. There’s a group with rocket launchers at four hundred meters.”
“You got auto range on it?” asked Brad.
Chuck pressed a button and Brad felt the deck tremble as a Hellfire missile shot away from the Apache. On the other side of the valley, the missile exploded a Taliban position, taking a rocky outcrop with it and leaving a huge crater in the hillside. The smell of cordite filtered through the cockpit.
Immediately, Brad swung away the gunship, taking it out of RPG range. Flying this low and slow made them easy targets.
“We’re taking fire from the north!” shouted Chuck, as if on cue. Red lights blazed across the central warning panel in the Apache.
“What the hell?!” muttered Brad, as he instinctively pulled the helicopter into a hard evasive turn, raising the collective for full power, and pushing forward the cyclic to gain speed. Flares and chaff deployed automatically from pods, designed to confuse and misdirect any heat or radar seeking missile.
“I got visual on the launch. Incoming – get us outta here, man!”
“I’m on it.” Brad focused on flying the chopper as hard and as fast as he could towards the wadi.
The missile flew an almost perfect circle, 2000 feet above the helicopter; its internal microprocessors comparing the heat and the electromagnetic signatures from its target with the data profile in its systems. As though making a conscious decision, the missile banked over and descended towards the Apache.
“It’s on our ass, man.” reported Chuck. “Do your thing.”
“Where the fuck did the Taliban get a SAM?” Brad shouted as he drove the Apache down into the wadi, hoping to lose the missile in the tight turns and confusion of the terrain.
Behind them and closing, the missile passed through the cloud of metallic chaff, its sensors registering them as a possible target, but the electromagnetic signature detectors instantly overrode the signal. The missile pressed on, homing in on the fleeing Apache.
Brad, his hands clenched and sweating on the controls, took a bend, and glimpsed a group of insurgents hit the ground below him. A small – a very small – part of his brain registered a flash of bright blonde hair among them, then he saw the missile take the bend too.
“I can’t lose it – fuck, what is that thing? Chuck, on my mark, hit it with all the CM we have left and brace yourself. I’m gonna try something.”
Brad gave the Apache full power and headed straight towards the high bluff edge.
“3,2,1 MARK.” Chuck nailed the countermeasures button and braced himself for the move. Brad yanked back on the controls, pointing the gunship’s nose at the sky and putting it in a high vertical climb, more like a fighter plane than a helicopter. Struggling against the effects of the G force required to pull this unconventional manoeuvre, he prayed the missile would lose their trail in the counter measures and impact on the wall of the wadi.
At the same instant the missile passed through the chaff and easily made the turn up and out. The vertical climb slowed the helicopter and the missile closed the gap until it was within a meter or two of its quarry. The onboard proximity censors matched the helicopter’s EM signature and the warhead detonated. Brad and Chuck were briefly aware of an intense light, before a wave of heat and pressure enveloped them.
The Apache hurtled into the sky, its rotor blades spiralling futilely before they gouged into the sand. The fuselage continued to somersault upwards, until it seemed finally to surrender, and smashed into the hot, dry earth below.
A.S Bond is an internationally acclaimed travel writer and journalist. As the author of seven books, her own adventures have taken her around the world, from the cloud forests of Central America to D.C.’s corridors of power. A.S. Bond is a pen name.
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