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Authors: Michael Conley

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Lethal Trajectories

BOOK: Lethal Trajectories
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LETHAL
TRAJECTORIES
R. MICHAEL CONLEY

LETHAL TRAJECTORIES
© copyright 2011 by R. Michael Conley All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, by photography or xerography or by any other means, by broadcast or transmission, by translation into any kind of language, nor by recording electronically or otherwise, without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in critical articles or reviews.

ISBN 13: 978-1-59298-454-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-59298-455-8

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2011936830

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing: 2011

15      14      13      12      11       5      4      3      2      1

Cover and interior design by James Monroe Design, LLC.

Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc.

7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101

Edina, MN 55439–2129 (952) 829-8818

www.BeaversPondPress.com

To order, visit
www.BeaversPondBooks.com

or call (800) 901-3480. Reseller discounts available.

I dedicate this book to my wife and best friend, Sharon; my daughters, Heather and Kristen, and son-in-law Todd; and my two precious little grandchildren, Keri and Sammy.

Thanks, gang, for just being who you are.

Acknowledgments

F
or some time now I have written about the threatening interplay of energy, environmental, economic, and geopolitical forces and what their collision courses could mean for humanity. The big picture, unfortunately, has often been lost in the minutiae of charts, diagrams, and PowerPoint presentations. It finally occurred to me that this complex story might better be told through the medium of a novel. The problem was that I had never written a novel before. How does one start?

My world changed the day I found Beaver’s Pond Press. Their founder, Milt Adams, gave me hope and encouragement from the get-go. I channeled my energies and enthusiasm into a draft manuscript under the patient tutelage of Managing Editor Amy Quale. Milt and Amy, how can I ever thank you enough?

I then entered the advanced rewriting phase with Kellie Hultgren of KMH Editing, and I must say it often felt like going through boot camp again. Kellie challenged and cajoled me, offered unbelievable insights throughout the revision effort, and instilled in me an appreciation for the integrity of the writing process. Kellie, you are an exceptionally talented person and I can’t imagine ever finishing this book without your help and guidance. Thank you.

There are simply too many other friends, associates, and organizations who helped make this book a reality to thank all of them individually, but you know who you are. My family helped and supported me throughout the process and patiently endured my preoccupation with writing the book. To all of you, I am deeply grateful. Last, I give thanks to the Good Lord for giving me whatever writing talent I might possess.

We are living in dangerous times, and the material covered in this book is frightening. Accordingly, I felt it was incumbent upon me to corroborate the book’s content through the research notes provided. Any similarities in names, organizations, or religions used in this book, unless otherwise noted, are purely coincidental; any errors of commission or omission, though unintentional, are mine.

Author’s Note

L
ook around. The seeds of destruction are sprouting everywhere. They can be seen in the chain reaction of uprisings in the Middle East and Africa. They are turbocharged by the economic meltdown of 2008 and crushing debt loads now plaguing many nations. They manifest in rising energy prices and tight control of the world’s oil supply by a handful of nations and cartels. Terrorism, threats of nuclear proliferation, and religious uprisings have fanned the flames, and shortages of food and fresh water, along with other climate-induced disasters, will increasingly hamper the world’s capacity to sustain its growing population. A perfect storm is brewing, and time is running out.

Lethal Trajectories
is a story about how these unchecked forces collide to produce a global crisis of doomsday proportions. I have made every effort to base the story on observable forces now in play. Extrapolating from today’s headline events, I have extended the trajectory of one possible scenario to 2018 to vividly illustrate the dangers we face. If you would like to know more about the facts behind this projection, you may find the research notes a useful resource either during or after your reading, and the afterthoughts section offers my perspective on what might be done to deflect such a disaster.

Whether or not the scenario—or one like it—will play out as suggested in this book is anyone’s guess. There is no question, however, that we are on a collision course with disaster if we continue to ignore the warning signs. This is a book about facing up to reality—while there is still time—and doing something about it.

1

The year is 2017, and mankind is on a collision course with the perfect storm of all time. A finger is on the trigger in the East China Sea, and the blast to come will set off a chain reaction of catastrophic proportions.

East China Sea

14 September 2017

E
nsign Inoue Makita was bursting with energy as he rushed through his battle stations checklist aboard his beloved
Harakaze.
As a young officer in the resurgent Japanese navy, he was proud to be part of an action that would bring honor to his country and boost his budding naval career. He didn’t know that his naval career—and his life—would come to a violent end in less than twenty minutes.

The
Harakaze,
an older guided-missile destroyer, could still do thirty knots while toting a considerable amount of firepower. Until four hours ago, it had been on a routine patrol with two small destroyer escorts in the contested waters of the East China Sea. Now the mission had changed, and Ensign Inoue and his fellow officers were briefed on a tactical operation that, if not properly executed, could escalate into a military conflict with the People’s Republic of China. The skipper’s briefing had been terse:

“China has attempted to dishonor Japan and its navy for over a decade. Their latest provocation has been to float a new oil platform, the
Dragon II,
to within two kilometers of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. There’s a good chance this rig will siphon off oil and gas from the Shirakaba oil field, which they call Chunxiao, and which crosses our boundary line at an underwater depth of about five thousand feet.

“We have been instructed to conduct an aggressive recon mission against the
Dragon II
platform. The platform is said to be loaded with armaments, and our intelligence wants to know its defensive capability and response time. We also want to send a signal that Japan does not take kindly to China’s attempt to monopolize this resource. We will test their defenses, gentlemen, by making a water-buzzing run at their platform.”

Ensign Inoue’s knees almost buckled. Water buzzing was a macho maneuver both navies had used earlier in the decade to flex their muscles and intimidate platform workers. He thought that the high-speed run that ships made at oil platforms, followed by an abrupt last-minute turn to slam the platform with a huge wake, was stupid and dangerous. It did no damage to the platform and was soon forgotten by the platform workers it was intended to intimidate. The Japanese navy had all but abandoned the exercise when both sides—in violation of oceanic protocols—started to mine the perimeters of their platforms at about four hundred meters.

“Relax, gentlemen,” said the skipper, sensing their concern. “We’ll be making our turn at an eight-hundred-meter distance from the platform—well before reaching its mined perimeter.”

The skipper gestured toward the oceanographic chart displayed on the bulkhead and painstakingly detailed the timetables, coordinates, and plan of action.

“You will be on full general-quarters alert. All weapons, including antiship missiles, will be battle ready. Is that clear? If we are fired upon, as we might well be, we are authorized—I repeat,
authorized
—to return fire without hesitation. Remember, gentlemen, our mission is not only to collect data
but
also to send a message to China that we are fed up with their aggression. If fired upon, we’ll be glad to let them know that we will no longer be dishonored so close to our border.”

Ensign Inoue’s eyes widened as he digested the skipper’s chilling words. This could easily turn into an armed conflict if the
Dragon II
fired on them. He knew his crew would love to fire back, and it would be a challenge to make sure they didn’t fire the first shot.

At 0015 hours sharp, the
Harakaze
throttled up for its thirty-knot parallel run along the EEZ line and, as planned, turned slightly to starboard for its final run against the
Dragon II.
Ensign Inoue knew the
Harakaze
had to be showing up now as a menacing blip on the platform’s radar screen, and his palms sweated as the tension mounted.
Can we get in and out before the platform gun crews react?
he nervously wondered.

Positioned on the starboard bridge, Ensign Inoue watched the
Harakaze
cut its graceful swath through the water. Exhilarated by the view, he felt as one with his ship. The tension mounted as the bridge called out the distance remaining until the violent port-side turn: “Twelve hundred meters … eleven hundred meters,”—so far so good, no platform fire—“one thousand meters … nine hundred meters….” He braced himself for the eight-hundred-meter call and sharp turn that would follow. “Eight hun …”

The last thing he would ever see or hear was a deafening explosion and burst of flame shooting across the starboard bow. He didn’t see the jagged piece of shrapnel that exploded toward him and instantly severed his brave young head from its torso. The hopes and dreams of Ensign Inoue’s all-too-brief twenty-three years were snuffed out in a nanosecond.

BOOK: Lethal Trajectories
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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