The Elimination Threat
Release Date: August 24, 2021
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BARNES & NOBLE
Michael Laurence delivers The Elimination Threat, the next installment in a series described as “Jack Reacher falling into a plot written by Dan Brown.” —James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible
For centuries, a mysterious syndicate known as the Thirteen has staged a silent coup, infiltrating governments and manipulating the course of world events. It’s more powerful than any nation, deadlier than any army, and only FBI Special Agent James Mason and his longtime friends stand in its way. After narrowly preventing the release of a toxic chemical weapon, they find themselves pitted against their most terrifying adversary yet: a mass murderer with a twisted signature and a true believer in the cause of the Thirteen known only as the Dragon.
With the fate of the nation’s capital hanging in the balance and the threat of nuclear destruction on the horizon, Mason’s team must unravel a conspiracy involving a greedy investment bank, a sadistic drug cartel, and a Russian energy company before it’s too late. And the secret to doing so lies buried in the past, in a dark union between the financial sector and an apocalyptic cult hellbent on remaking the world in its own image. Can Mason expose the lethal machinations of the cabal in time, or will the Thirteen finally make good on its elimination threat?
58 MILES OFF THE COAST OF CANCÚN, MEXICO
Slate Langbroek woke from a sound sleep and sat up in bed. He was certain he’d heard something. A thudding sound, like someone dropping a heavy object onto the floor above his cabin. He concentrated and listened.
The yacht rose and fell gently on the still sea. Waves broke softly against the hull. A gull cried in the distance.
He glanced at the clock. 4:12 A.M. The sun would be rising soon.
The chef was already at work in the galley. It smelled like roast pork. Or maybe a whole pig, if the faint scent of singed hair were to be believed.
A minute passed.
Maybe the sound had been part of his dream, which was always the same. He was standing on top of a ruby red staircase, a tower of digital billboards behind him. Each displayed his image, larger than life. The crowd filled the streets below him. Their eyes were upon him, their cheers as loud as thunder. A woman emerged from their ranks, dressed in samurai armor and wearing a conical straw hat that concealed her face. She extended her arms to either side and spoke without moving her mouth. A single word cut through the roar, penetrating his very being.
His heart pounded in his chest and he couldn’t seem to draw a breath. The voice hadn’t been part of his dream. He’d definitely heard it, spoken aloud from just outside his range of sight. And there were only twelve people who called him by that name, eight of whom would sacrifice their firstborn to claim it as their own. He’d prepared for this contingency though, planned every detail so meticulously that there was no way—
The sound originated from beyond the foot of his bed, right outside the sliding glass door. The curtains billowed on the gentle breeze. He suddenly regretted leaving the door open so he could fall asleep with the cool air on his face.
Langbroek jumped from his bed, the marble tiles cold against his bare feet, and darted for the door. Slammed it closed and locked it. Finally caught his breath.
His hands were shaking so badly he could barely draw back the curtains.
The body lying on the deck outside of his cabin looked like it had been cooked. He recognized his private captain by the epaulettes on the shoulders of his uniform shirt, which was still burning in places. His hair was gone and the upper layers of his skin were charred.
“Jesus,” he whispered, letting the curtains fall from his hands.
He staggered backward. Clipped his bare heels on the tiles. Landed on his rear end. Kicked at the ground to propel himself up against the bed.
A creak of transferred weight on the deck outside the door.
Langbroek climbed onto his bed and hit the button to engage the electromagnetic locks. He stepped back down to the floor and walked to the center of the room. The walls were reinforced with steel plates, the windows made of bulletproof glass. His cabin was even equipped with a self-contained air supply in the event the boat sank. There was no way anyone could get to him in here, especially not in what little time they’d have once he triggered the emergency transponder and private military contractors stationed on both sides of the Yucatán Channel converged upon his location.
He felt a surge of anger. How dare the other twelve make such a brazen move against him. If they wanted a war, then by God, that was exactly what he was going to give them.
Langbroek strode to the door and ripped open the curtains. The body of his captain was gone. In its place stood a figure wearing a full-body metallic silver suit and clutching an apparatus that looked like an underwater camera in its gloved hands.
Quintus saw a distorted reflection of himself on the golden face shield of the intruder’s helmet.
“Tertius Decimus sends his regards,” the assassin said.
The aperture opened and a greenish blue light bloomed from behind the lens of the device.
Quintus shielded his eyes.
Felt the heat, even through the glass.
Screamed as his skin blistered.
And started to burn.