Authors: ANDY FARMAN
Copyright © 2013 Andy Farman
All rights reserved.
This book is a
work of fiction and as such names, characters, places
incidents are the products of the authors’ creation or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual
persons, whether living or dead, is coincidental.
There are two very special
people who turned
life around and are keeping it on the right track;
therefore it is only fitting that the third volume, which was begun after our
son was born, is dedicated to my
Jessica and Edward Eric.
I have had a lot of help and encouragement in writing this
series, in particular with this, the third part of the series. Retired bomber
pilots, snipers, SFX experts, current helicopter pilots, a glamour model,
serving and retired coppers, ex-servicemen and a former company commander
Oddly, suggestions for a fifth and sixth book have
been trickling in
, and you do not even
know how the story ends. I may be reluctant to write out the appearance of last
minute characters such as moody teenage daylight walking vampires, and good
looking vegetarian High School zombies. You know how trendy I am!
My thanks go to my Father Ted Farman and Andy Croy for
editing. Andy and I both served in the Wessex Regiment in the 1980’s, but we
To my niece Helena Brackley for research on Guiana
and the European Space Agency.
To Bill Rowlinson, Nick Gill, Tracey
Elvik, Tobi Shear-Smith, Maxine Shear-Smith, Ray Tester, Steve Enever, Stuart
Galloway and Chris Cullen for test reading; proof reading, advice on how to
shoot, stab, blow stuff up and still show a well turned ankle.
To my cousin David Farman, currently the only practicing Biggles
with a current instrument rating in the family.
I hope he settles into
his new role of ‘Gentleman Pilot’ with ease, and a little élan. Thank you for
the technical advice of the CH47 Chinook.
Finally, but by no means least, to
Haydee Velasco Flores for generously offering to
her professional fee in order to translate the books into Spanish.
It is on my wish list Haydee.
Well I am in a
different place now to the one I was in back in 2002 when I first put pen to
paper to scribble down the opening lines of ‘Stand To’ on the back of a blank
I was sat in the Police Room in the basement of the
ILCC, Inner London Crown Court. It was bitterly cold outside
, the cold and damp were having an adverse effect on
my knees which had taken a beating when I was an infantryman, running up Welsh
mountains carrying my own weight on my back. They ached eight months out of
twelve, they were certainly aching that day and I had a cold. Hell, everybody
had a cold, it was January in England.
Eleven years on and I’m not a copper any more, I
did my thirty but I’m still working on the same book, just a different volume
and four hundred and fifty thousand words further along with it.
It is 92
outside and my knees are fine these days as it is always summer here.
The first two books were something of a learning curve
and I learned a few things about who likes what, and who does not.
Teachers concentrate on paragraph structure and syntax
whereas their former pupils
just to read an entertaining story.
You may recall the foreword in volumes one and two
about my reasons for writing this yarn?
Well I did not know how the story would be greeted across the water in America.
It is a global story and the USA shares the stage rather than being a one man
band as she is in so many military fiction tales.
Helpful suggestions have been sent my way that I carry
out a re-write for the American market with the Coldstream Guards becoming a US
infantry regiment and HMS Hood as the US ____ have also included a wish that I
would cease misspelling so many words.
Well if I did re-write the book somewhere down the
line then I certainly would not keep the title in fact it would be an entirely
I have made some
friends in America over the years and they come from various and diverse
backgrounds, just like everyone else. They tend to come from law enforcement,
the military and the film industry. They are capable, professional and heroic
as are their opposite numbers in other countries and they have the same
motivations and drives as their opposite numbers. This series however,
Armageddon’s Song, is not about America saving the world it is a team effort
that also shows the other guys viewpoints on occasion, and it is not full of
misspellings either, it is written in English, not American, and it is staying
When I started writing this tale I had an idea of what
should happen, where it should happen and how it should end. I did not aim to
write a standard 80,000 word novel I aimed to write a detailed story which
people would enjoy. I just hoped it would reach 80,000 words.
My style of writing is to imagine a
course of events and rough it out. For example, the
cruise missile attack on London started off as less than one page, 321 words,
simply that of Janet in her office receiving a summons to meet the of battalion
wives who are on the death message rota, accompanying the Padre to break the
bad news to wives who have become widows overnight. I added detail and
conversation. What came next was the ‘how’ of the missiles arriving, which
included the Spetznaz member carrying out ‘CTR’, a close target reconnaissance
of Canary Wharf. Janet’s commute to work came next along with the collision
with the spy, and finally the missiles effects on Canvey Island, the result of
their arrival at Canary Wharf and what effect this had on Janet. That was
It is the detail which takes time to add and the
description which fills the pages.
Volume 1 was not 80,000 words
, it was 150,000 words.
By the time I was a further 50,000 words along into
volume 2 I was fairly certain I could bring in the story in three volumes but
after six months writing it was clear the European war was only going to be
done and dusted inside of three books and there was still China to address in
The physical realities of how many pages can actually
be fitted in a 4’x6” paperback book became apparent. The answer is, less than
volume 1. I had to set my paper size up to 6” x 9”, although the
Easy Reader editions require 7” x 10” for the larger print.
Four volumes and not three
will be required to finish this tale, without
scrimping on the detail. It is no longer a trilogy, but now a four part series.
I will begin the final volume, ‘Crossing the Rubicon’
the day after I publish this volume, but the
family, including the lively two year son, need a holiday as much as I
do. All work and no play makes for dull prose.
For those posting grumbles about not realising volume
1 was not the whole story,
but you should go back and read the Product Description again, the bit that
-To' is the first book ….
. The ‘Volume 1’ in gold lettering on the front cover
is also a bit of a giveaway.
Volume 3 is a deal busier than the other volumes,
indeed for some 200+ pages it felt a little as if I was writing ‘24’ as there
is so much that is going on simultaneously in different international time
zones on different parts of the planet as various threads throughout the
previous two volumes come together.
orders for policing Europe’s largest Latin American Carnival was easy in
comparison, and markedly less than the 490,000 words, 1360 pages this tale has
so far taken to tell.
I hope I cannot be accused of
Argentina: Atlantic coast.
Rio Gallegos was the home port for the 350 ton ocean
going trawler ‘
which had been enjoying a lean time of things in the
Atlantic since the big battles between the Soviet submarines and the Americans,
the Canadians and the British.
They had found fish, thousands of them,
but all were dead and stinking on the surface. Silt
stirred up by nuclear depth charges had not only ruined fishing around the
s’ normal fishing grounds at this time of year, but
had spread south to Cape Verde, spoiling the waters there also.
With the East and West at war and the
normal military presence in those sea lanes absent,
piracy off the African coast was on the rise and her skipper, Carlo Duellos,
had wisely steered clear of that side of the Atlantic.
No one would be feeding his and the crews’ families if
they were being held for ransom in the African bush somewhere.
The British on the Malvinas had itchy trigger fingers
as they half expected his country to take advantage of the war, by trying to
retake the islands again. So an exclusion zone once more sat in place barring
all but the foolish from those waters. No one was going to be feeding their
families if the bastard British accused them of spying and locked them up.
Most of the local boats had gone west through the
Straits of Magellan to fish off the Pacific coast, but Carlos figured that a
lot of boats from Panama on down would be doing the same.
They had returned from the Azores with an empty hold
and empty tanks
, and Carlos was forced to
go cap in hand to the local bank.
The bank manager
was a reasonable man and he was a local too, but Carlos was not the only one
having an unexpectedly bad season, the whole planet was, and that was likely to
last at least as long as the war, he had pointed out.
Carlos went from the bank with only the manager’s best
wishes and had arrived at the bar the fishermen used as a kind of base when in
Getting the crew together he had
laid it out for them, they had no line of credit and no gas so he, Carlos, was
willing to sell his truck if the rest of them were also going to contribute
something towards the expenses.
Their engineer quit, either unable or unwilling to
take a gamble on them finding any live fish, and a gamble it was. Worldwide
food prices had hit the roof, so a full hold would set them all up for the rest
of the year, but another disastrous voyage such as their last one would be
The remainder had borrowed from relatives or sold
heirlooms for them to fuel the ‘
enough diesel and supplies for about a week’s normal fishing, and so it was
that they had set out once more, but with Carlos doing what he could to get the
crew’s next most mechanically minded member familiar with the trawler’s elderly
seven cylinder diesels.
They went from previously productive fishing grounds nearer home to those more
and more distant, seeking the fish that had left without trace.
It took time and patience, going further and further
south east with the crew sat about idle, becoming more and more despondent
On the fourth day, with the light fading and dark clouds
threatening their sonar fish detector finally picked up a large shoal of
whiting and the crew put ‘
s gear in the water for the first time that voyage.
The change in mood was palpable throughout the small vessel,
from borderline desperation to one of desperate hope. It was food on the table
for their families, but they had to fill the
hold first and they were short-handed, so with rain setting in for the
night they set to with a will.
The net came up full
and the winch strained as it lifted the catch inboard to whistles and
shouts of joy and relief. The gamble was paying off.
Again the nets went back over the side as Carlos
stayed with the twisting and turning shoal.
By 3am the seas were picking up and the rain was
gusting in horizontally but the hold was still only three quarters full.
Another full net with its flashing silver bounty was
tantalisingly just below the surface when the winch jammed, and despite
promises and threats it remained uncooperative.
Carlos called down to the make-do engineer to come up
and take the wheel so he himself could try and fix the winch.
When the proper engineer had quit he had taken his
tools with him, and he had also taken his ear defenders too, so Carlos
was relieved on the wheel by a partly deafened novice
Carlos removed the housing from about the winch
mechanism and cursed the rain and the rusty and frayed cable which had bunched
and snagged. At least, he told himself, at least they could invest in a new one
once they got back to port and sold this catch.
The radar proximity warnings strident tone registered only as a faint beeping
to the only occupant of the wheelhouse and the large return which drew closer
with every sweep of the radar repeater meant nothing to him, but similar
warnings should have raised the alarm with the watch keepers aboard the bulk
which was running without lights for fear of the
submarine threat to shipping.
was reported overdue by Carlos’s wife when the fuel they had taken on board was
obviously exhausted and neither she nor any of the other wives had received
word from their husbands as they would have done had the their boat called into
another port for some reason such as a medical emergency or a mechanical
failure of some description.
The Argentine Naval Prefecture, as the Argentinian
coast guard is known, called the harbour masters on the Atlantic coast as far
away as ‘
partially full tanks could have taken her and even
lodged a request for information or sightings with the Anglos on the Malvinas,
but the boat had not put into any port since leaving Rio Gallegos the week
Had the ‘
immediately reported a
collision which had been felt throughout the vessel, and which was subsequently
found to have left her bow damaged and scraped then the search and rescue
operation could have begun immediately, and with a precise location. However,
her master did not heave-to and did not report any collision until the ship
docked at Auckland a month later and even then the insurance claim merely
stated ‘Colliding with unknown object’ at a position some twelve hundred miles
further north than it actually had, closer to the recent fighting and therefore
easier to justify his reluctance to stop and investigate.
Gansu Province, Peoples Republic
Nothing could muffle the sound a
piton being hammered into rock, and on the few
occasions that it had been absolutely unavoidable Richard Dewar gritted his teeth
in the expectation of their discovery.
With the latest
securely in place Richard attached through its eye, one end of a quickdraw, two
carabiners with spring loaded gates and attached together by a webbing strap,
before clipping his line into the free end.
The ropes they were using were a far cry from the
stiff half inch hemp ropes Richard had first used as a Boy Scout, cliff
climbing at Black Rock Sands in Wales, these were 10.5 cm ropes made from semi
translucent man-made fibres which though not invisible by any means, did allow
them to blend more easily with the background.
Gripping the rope
he leant outwards, allowing the piton to take the strain as he peered upwards
at the eighteen foot overhang he had reached. About an arms width away a crack
in the rock bisected the overhang, and he knew from a recce through binoculars
whilst choosing this route that this led upwards, widening all the time to
become a chimney. Richard felt around his harness for another quickdraw, but
one with a locking gate to attach to his harness. The movements of a climber
can inadvertently cause something to press against the outside of a carabiners
gate, a jutting rock or another item of equipment can open a spring loaded
carabiner causing the rope or harness it was holding to be released, so he
always used locking carabiners next to his body.
Clipping the new
to the one attached to the piton, he spread his feet and braced them against
the rock before leaning outwards, reaching up and back for the crack to explore
it with his fingers. Ideally he hoped to find a suitable seat for monolithic
protection, a solid tapered wedge or a hex to jam inside where a runner could
support his weight, but its sides were too smooth and parallel. He wasn’t as
fond of SLCDs, the mechanical, spring-loaded camming devices, or a ‘camm’ for
short, which were the alternative to monoliths as they had a tendency to ‘walk’
when not under tension and work themselves free. He had no choice in this
instance and at least the camm would be hanging vertically, a position from
which it was least likely for it to work its way loose. Richard made his
selection from the collection of various sizes clipped to his harness, and
holding the device by its stem he pushed it up inside the crack as far as he
could before releasing the four camm’s at the top end of the single SLCDs stem
which sprung outwards, the teeth biting at the rock. Major Dewar clipped
another quickdraw to the eye at the stem and tested it by applying increasing
weight. It held, allowing him to attach yet another locking quickdraw to his
harness and clip it to the free end of the one he held. Richard was now
supported in place at two points and still had both hands free, his feet were
only keeping him steady whilst he worked so should the piton and camm come
loose then only the man belayed-on at the last pitch, seventy feet below could
arrest his fall.
The wind was only blowing at about 10 mph, a pleasant
change from the 80 mph winds of the previous two days, but its wind chill
factor lowered the sub-zero temperatures even further. The snow had not abated
until about an hour ago, reducing visibility but covering their tracks whilst
it had fallen. Working in the shadow of the overhang he had removed his tinted
goggles in order
to better see what he
was doing, but the cold and wind made his eyes water, causing his lashes to
freeze into brittle whiteness. The only weapon he carried was an M4, the
shortened version of the M16, hanging vertically down his back by the butt
strapped between his shoulder blades, the weapons harness crossed over his
shoulders and added to the weight he already carried and restricted his
movements, but it was a necessity of the job.
Pulling on the piton’s
quickdraw with one hand he drew himself closer to the overhang, giving
himself enough slack at that end to unclip himself from it with his free hand.
It was that moment of truth which always made life interesting whilst climbing,
discovering if the single SLCD was up to the task of supporting him above the
abyss. Letting go of the piton’s quickdraw he swung away from the vertical face
to hang suspended below the overhang, 400 feet above the valley
Brooks and six of the soldiers were still far below on the valley floor,
forming a perimeter and guarding the kit that would be hauled up, pitch by
pitch. They were the only ones still wearing white camouflage clothing; the
remainder had stuffed them inside camouflage jackets that more easily blended
with the buff tones of the rock face until the snow line five hundred feet
Garfield lay on his back peering up at Richard Dewar
through his binoculars, admiring the almost effortless ease with which the
Royal Marine repeated the high trapeze act a further six times to reach the lip
of the overhang.
No records existed of
any climbs here and in all probability no one had ever scaled the rock face
before them. It seemed to Garfield however, that Dewar had climbed it a dozen
times, so confident and assured were his moves. The climber’s term for such a skilful
climb up a virgin face is ‘A Vue’, a clean ascent first try, with no prior
knowledge of the route.
The American lieutenant from Florida had never climbed
anything more challenging than the trees in the family’s backyard, before
joining the service.
Like every one of
the Americans he had since gone through the courses run by the US Army Northern
Warfare Training Centre at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He’d frozen his butt off on
the Black Rapids training area completing his CWLC, the Cold Weather Leaders Course,
but it was nowhere close to the – 40° he was currently working in. He had
performed assault climbs in Alaska on the Gulkana Glacier, in Vermont and the
Rockies, but Dewar on the other hand had hiked to both the north and south
poles, climbed Everest three times, once without oxygen, and had two tries at
K2, amongst other less well known expeditions to his credit. Any doubts
Garfield felt about a Brit leading this operation had been dispelled within
hours of their landing in China, the Royal Marine Commando wasn’t just
competent, he was quite expert at working in sub-zero climes and on rock faces.