Tom Clancy Thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore's Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. Read more>>

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Now Available! Tom Clancy Power and Empire

A Jack Ryan Novel

A newly belligerent Chinese government leaves US President Jack Ryan with only a few desperate options in this continuation of the #1 New York Times bestselling Tom Clancy series.


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BOOK EXCERPT

From Tom Clancy Support and Defend

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2

Arik and Dom crossed the crushed-seashell driveway between the cars in a low crawl, both men scraping their knees and hands in the slow and painful process. Dom was in the rear, his eyes shifting between Yacoby in front of him and the little he could see of the backyard of the property, hop- ing like hell neither of the men back there heard the noise and came to investigate. Arik was trying to keep some awareness of the men at the front of the property, but his main attention was on moving as quickly and as quietly as possible on his way to the house.

They made it to the side door, Arik rose just enough to get a hand on the latch, and he turned it slowly. A third shout emanated from upstairs in the bungalow, but this time it was a man's voice, and Arik could not understand the words. He used the yelling to mask his movement, and he slipped into the dark and empty kitchen.

Caruso moved in behind him, then he and Yacoby both pulled carving knives out of a rack on the counter. The men did not speak, Arik just disappeared down the dark hallway toward the main living area with the staircase to the second floor, and Dom moved to the one place in the kitchen where he could see both entrances. He was thirty feet from the front door, fifteen from the kitchen door, and, frankly, in no good position to engage armed enemies at either entrance if it came down to it. The best he could do was prepare himself and hope Yacoby made it to his family, or to his gun, without generating enough noise for the enemy to send reinforcements into the house.

Weighing his options, he moved back to the knife rack and pulled a second weapon—this one a well-balanced high-end paring knife—and he returned to his post.

This still might be a suicide mission, but Caruso wasn't going down without a fight.

Arik Yacoby had no idea how many opposition forces he was up against, but he'd come to the conclusion that the downstairs was clear. He could hear only the one man above him, shouting questions at his wife, who now shouted back just as angrily.

At the bottom of the stairs he kicked off his sneakers, then he began moving silently up by ascending close to the wall, where the boards would not creak.

When he reached the top of the stairs he could barely see down the hallway that traveled the length of the second f loor like a spine. An open bathroom door halfway down on the right allowed some moonlight to filter into the hall, and by this he could tell that his bedroom door was open at the opposite end of the hall. There were no moving shadows in the moonlight, indicating to him that either the bathroom was empty or anyone in there was perfectly still. Ahead on his left, the two doors were also open, and the rooms beyond them were pitch-dark. The first was his private office, and the second was his kids' room.

His blood ran cold, but he began moving up the hall with the knife at the ready.

He heard the man questioning his wife in the bedroom now. He spoke English, asking, not for the first time, apparently, where her husband had gone. He sounded frustrated, nearly desperate, and the crack of an open hand across flesh and a cry from his wife told Yacoby the intruder wasn't getting any answers from Hanna.

Arik again checked the light in the bathroom for signs of a presence there, but still there was no movement. He had to clear the two rooms on his left before making it down the hall, but just as he began moving to check his office, a man appeared out of the black, stepping into the hallway. He wore a black ski mask and was several inches taller than Yacoby. Their eyes met for an instant, Arik sensed a weapon in the man's hand, but he didn't take time to focus on it. Instead, his own hand shot out like a piston, he stabbed the man in the arm but lost his grip as his victim spun away. Yacoby recovered by lunging forward with the dexterity and skill of a Krav Maga master. He pushed the slung machine pistol away from the masked man, then ripped it out of his hands and turned it around, pointing it high in his adversary's face. The masked terrorist tried to raise his hands to defend himself, but Yacoby thrust the short-barreled rifle forward, shoving the flash hider into the man's eye socket, knocking his head back again. As the gunman stumbled back into the office, the Israeli leapt on him, covered his mouth with his hand, and f lipped him around on the f loor. He snapped the man's neck with a wrenching twist, severing his spinal cord.

The Israeli lowered the body the rest of the way to the floor, then quickly unfastened the Uzi from its sling and turned to check the room for other threats.

The office stood empty, but when he looked back up the hallway a figure appeared in the doorway to the master bedroom. Arik could barely make it out in the moonlight, but it was clearly an adult male, and he saw the man's arm rise quickly in front of him.

In that instant Arik knew he'd have to fire the Uzi, and this would alert every one of the armed men on his property. He aimed and squeezed off a single round, and the armed intruder in the doorway spun away with a cry and grabbed his neck as he fell. Arik began running up the hallway now, knowing he was racing against time to get to his family. He held the smoking Uzi out in front of him as he spun toward the last darkened doorway on the left, checking for any movement. This was his children's room, and he was glad to find it empty. That they weren't here meant to Arik that his wife had had time to move them into the bathroom off the master bedroom.

He had just started to turn back to check the hall bathroom behind him when he heard a man scream. Before he could turn around, a figure flew out of the bathroom, crashed onto his back, and pitched him forward, slamming him into the wall of the hallway.

The machine pistol spilled out of Arik's hands as he went down.

. . .

Dom assumed the gunshot above would bring at least some of the men from outside into the house, but he had no idea which door they would come through. His eyes shifted back and forth between the kitchen door and the front door down the hall. He was certain he was about to engage the enemy, but not quite sure how he would go about it.

It was quiet for only a couple seconds, and then came a wild scream and the crashing thuds of men slamming into one another in the hallway directly above.

As Dom kept an eye toward the living room, the front door flew open and a man burst through. Dom could see little more than a single figure; he didn't have time to register if the man was carrying a weapon, but he wasn't going to take that chance.

He threw the paring knife in his right hand overhand as hard as he could, aiming high at the man's face, because he knew a thirty-foot throw would take a lot of power off the strike.

The steel blade buried itself into the intruder's torso, just below the collarbone, and the man stumbled back, out through the doorway. Dom saw him collapse in a heap in the front yard before the door shut on its springs.

Now the kitchen door creaked behind him. Dom had just turned to the noise, ready to check this attacker for a weapon, but a burst of automatic fire settled the question for him. Dom dropped low to the ground, dove behind the island in the middle of the kitchen, and then he crawled across the floor, trying to keep the island between himself and the man in the doorway.

Another long burst of gunfire told him the intruder had not moved from the doorway, so Caruso stayed low, came around the island to the man's left, and then rose with the carving knife in his right hand. He covered the last five feet in a head- long dive, plunged the blade handle-deep into the man's side, burying it between two f loating ribs, and body-checked the armed man into the open pantry by the door, using his hip and arm to keep the Uzi directed away from himself.

The man cried out in pain; as Dom's face pressed against his nylon mask, he could smell the fear and the sweat, and he thought he could smell the sea in the fabric of his clothing. Almost instantly, Dom felt the taut muscular body begin to soften as the armed attacker's brain went into shock. Dom knew the blood loss would take some time to kill the masked intruder, but already he was able to pull the Uzi out of his weakening hands. The gun was slung around the man's neck, however, and Dom had just begun to unfasten it when the kitchen door opened again, less than five feet behind him. He looked over his shoulder and saw a man in the doorway silhouetted by the moonlight. He held an Uzi high in front of him toward the room and was clearly surprised to find a target just feet away on his right. He swung his gun in Dom's direction.

Dom gave up on getting the Uzi off the man he'd stabbed; there was no time. He reached back behind him for something he could throw. This was his training taking over. He had been studying Krav Maga, living it for the past month, and he'd learned from Arik to use whatever tools he had at his disposal to disable an imminent threat.

Krav Maga is not a classically attractive martial art, but its beauty lies in its cold efficiency.

Caruso was hoping to get his hand on a knife. Instead, his fingers closed on the rim of a metal pot, and he swung it around, threw it through the air, striking the Uzi and the hand holding it, and knocking the shooter off target.

He rushed to the attacker, drove a fist to the man's midsection, and then tried an elbow to the face that glanced off and did no damage.

The armed man tried to back away to raise his gun again, but he was blocked by the island in the middle of the room.

Dom threw another punch at the man's torso. It connected, but now the attacker managed to get around the edge of the island and back up and away.

Caruso flung a rolling pin from the island at the figure in the dark, striking him in the chest and knocking him back on his heels into the refrigerator on the far side of the room.

He knew he'd bought himself no more than a second, so he fell back into the pantry now, onto the man with the knife in his ribs. Dom grabbed the Uzi, spun it around, pulling the dying man by the sling around his neck, managing to get the gun out in front of him at hip level. He squeezed the trigger. Flame filled the pantry and the kitchen as he fired fully auto- matic, a long burst toward the space the armed man by the refrigerator occupied. Sizzling ejected cartridges bounced off cans of vegetables in the pantry and then rained back down on Caruso, singeing his bare torso, but he kept firing. He'd spent the past two hours in near total darkness, so the sustained f lash of the short-barreled weapon felt to his eyes as if he had been enveloped by the sun. He could see nothing of his target, so he kept the gun up and the trigger pressed and the bullets spraying until the weapon emptied.

Dom's eyes were completely whited out by the muzzle flash, he rubbed them with his free hand, and he shook his head in a futile attempt to battle the ringing in his ears. It took him a moment to find the target through his burning pupils, but he was happy to see the masked man lying dead on his back on the floor.

Dom knew he had to get upstairs to help Arik, and he also knew he needed a loaded firearm to do it, so he started to kneel down to take the Uzi from the dead man, but just as he did so, another man burst through the kitchen door.

This man wore no mask, he was clean-shaven, young, and he looked wild-eyed and terrified. But he was close, contact distance to Caruso, who was kneeling with his back against the kitchen counter.

Caruso rose and punched the man in the midsection with his empty hand, and his fist slammed into a surprising hardness there. It felt like the intruder was wearing a chest rig of ammunition for a rifle under his jacket, presumably as a way to keep it hidden from view.

Dom punched again with his other fist, but he didn't make the same mistake twice. This time he went for the young man's face, striking him in the jaw and knocking him back onto the island in the center of the little kitchen.

Dom knelt quickly, scooped up the Uzi, and fired a single round into the forehead of the man lying on the island. The machine pistol barked in his hand and the room lit with the flash, then all was dark and silent again. He started to run for the hallway to the staircase, but he stopped himself, turned, and looked back at the dead man.

It only now registered. This man had carried no weapon, but he'd worn something heavy and solid on his chest.

Why the hell would he have a chest rack full of Uzi mags if he didn't have an Uzi?

Dom rushed back to the body, ripped open the zipped windbreaker, and then backed away suddenly, slamming his hips into the kitchen counter behind him.

In front of him in the dim light lay a dead man wearing a suicide vest. Long, fat rows of explosives had been stitched into gray canvas. Loose wires crisscrossed the entire apparatus.

A gasp passed Caruso's lips. "Arik."

While Dominic had been fighting for his life downstairs, Arik Yacoby had been doing exactly the same in the upstairs hallway. The man who'd jumped him from behind was now dead, his neck, jaw, and skull a wreck of shattered bones. Yacoby was hurt, too, his lips and nose dripped blood, but he pushed away the pain and exertion of the fight in the tight space, and he felt around to find the Uzi in the dark. He grabbed it with his left hand.

Behind him, his wife screamed in Hebrew. "Arik! Neshek!"

Gun!

Yacoby dove to the floor of the hallway, spinning as he dropped, and he landed on his back as a burst of fire from his bedroom sent supersonic lead up the hall in his direction. The rounds went over him; he was flat on his back holding the tiny machine pistol pointed between his bare feet and up the hall. He focused on the flash and, careful to fire only aimed semiautomatic rounds from the fully automatic weapon to avoid hitting his family, he shot at the light.

He felt his own Uzi being ripped out of his hands, and realized a round from the gunman up the hall had struck his weapon and knocked it away, probably damaging it as well. But the gunfire from his bedroom ceased and, through the ringing in his ears, Arik thought he heard the unmistakable sound of a micro-Uzi hitting and bouncing on the wooden floor.

Below him, he heard ferocious fighting. A long spray of automatic rounds, the cries of a man and the crash of bodies, but his mind was on his bedroom and what he would find there.

He leapt to his feet and ran for his family.

Dominic Caruso sprinted into the living room, heading for the stairs. As he passed the open front door he looked to the ground, expecting to see the first man he'd taken down in the engagement with the thrown paring knife. But the ground in front of the door was empty. Caruso spun into the stairwell, hoping against hope the man with the knife in his chest was not now heading upstairs, and wearing a suicide vest.

The stairwell was clear. Dom began taking the steps three at a time. As he climbed he shouted, "Arik! Bomb vest!"

Yacoby had made it into his bedroom, where he found his wife tied to a chair in the center of the room, her tousled hair hanging over her face. She looked up at him in the dark.

"The kids are hiding in the linen closet. They're fine." She gestured with her head toward the en suite bathroom near where he stood.

Arik was relieved that his family was alive, but he needed to get downstairs to help his student. He knelt down to grab the micro-Uzi on the floor next to the dead man.

As he knelt he heard a noise behind him. He looked over his shoulder up the dim hallway, and saw a young, clean-shaven man staggering toward him. Through the faint glow from the moonlight coming from the bathroom, Arik could see a knife protruding from the man's upper-left chest, but still he managed to move quickly. Arik spun toward the man, raising his gun as he did so.

From the staircase behind the man he heard a scream from D, his American student: "Arik! Bomb vest!"

Yacoby had put the sights on the center of the man's chest, but knowing he was wearing a vest changed everything. He shifted his aim to the man's head as fast as he could and, while doing so, he shouted, "Hanna!"

Dominc had almost made it up to the second floor when a wave of light and heat engulfed him from above. His brain registered the fact he was airborne, he felt weightless for a moment, and now the incredible noise overtook him. He knew he was falling backward; his bare back made glancing contact with the wooden staircase, and his legs flew up above him, and he did a reverse somersault and continued his roll all the way down, crashing chest-first through the wooden banister and then flipping to the ground floor, where the back of his head slammed down on the teak floorboards.

Stunned by the impact, he needed seconds to regain an understanding of where he was and what was happening. He choked on smoke and his eyes burned, but he pushed away the pain and focused on getting back in the fight.

He squinted in the thickening black air and pulled himself up to his feet, then moved toward the staircase again, but his legs gave out and he dropped onto the lower steps. As he tried to pull himself upward by his arms he looked up and saw roaring flames pouring out of the second floor, and above the flames, the night sky.

It looked as if the entire roof of the stairwell and hallway had been blown from the bungalow in the explosion.

Dom slid back to the floor, collapsed unconscious onto his back, fingers of black smoke enveloping his prostrate body.



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