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					3/30/2011ISRAELI HEAT




                           ISRAELI HEAT

                                 By

                              DJ HARDY



    No portion of this book may be copied without written

consent of the author. All rights are reserved.

    This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and

places described in this work are purely fictitious and from the

imagination of the author. Any resemblance to actual persons,

living or dead is entirely coincidental.



    danjhardy@hotmail.com

    word count = 106,389

    double spaced page count = 533
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      1




    Chapter 1

    The distant hills, dry shrubs, the ever blowing wind that

produced eerie sounds, it all spoke of emptiness. For a moment

the sun made the hills dance in his eyes. The stifling heat

evaporated whatever moisture foolish enough to expose their

minute drops on his exposed skin. Even the leathery skin of his

face knew enough to stay covered. Every drop of water that stayed

inside his clothing meant surviving until they found water.

    After weeks of trudging south through this God forsaken

country he felt exhausted.

    Now the hills danced in his mind. He knew all the signs.

They had to find water.

    The chief of the Wongos blinked his eyes and shook his head

to clear his mind. The dancing stopped. Marou then wiped his

eyes. The crumbling black shale outcrop to his right magnified

the heat of the Southern Sudan. Sharpening his vision he caught

sight of shimmering white-topped mountains. The snow covered tops

lifted, dropped, vanished, and reappeared in the rising heat.

Suddenly the images bloomed larger than life; the Dongotons.

Safety now lay in sight, maybe 100 kilometers away, yet

perilously far. Spirits lifted he felt momentarily confident and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      2

hopeful. The terrain will soon grow richer with life.

    Two days ago the shrub country his people traveled through

became speckled with dried trees. A few even carried green

leaves. He knew the region received some rain. This carried hope.

It was nothing like the dry winds, sand, and blowing dust they

traveled through during the last four weeks. In a few more days

these sparse grasses and trees will become thicker, taller, and

greener. They also must be close to the river. Once I get

everyone across the riverbed I'll have less to worry about.

    Turning to the north he studied the dust cloud rising on the

horizon. That worried him. It also seemed larger - closer.

    Returning to the south, he studied the animal trail they

followed and checked the position of the sun. Everything,

including the mountains verified that they traveled the right

path. A notch in the distant hills to his right looked natural,

not man made. It might be river cut? Can they be this close? If

so, tomorrow will bring safety.

    Right now, he and his people had to survive this day. The

sun baked the ground and he pitied the few souls who fled their

homes without proper covering for their heads.

    The crumbling black rock under his feet captured his

attention. His mind went blank and his body swayed. A few moments

later his thoughts cleared and he steadied himself. The heat and

lack of water took its toil on everyone. He raised his hand and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      3

noticed his dust covered dark skin blended in with the scrub

brush and baked soil.

    His son, Gahza, came alongside him and held his arm. Marou

thought of the notch in the hills. He forced his saliva-starved

tongue to loosen and whispered. "Give them the last of the water.

Two swallows. Let them drink it all."

    Marou's eyes locked onto the son of his old age, before

saying, "Make sure no one drinks someone else‘s portion; just two

swallows - no more."

    "If they drink that much, Father, we will have nothing

left."

    Gahza's protest correctly diagnosed the dilemma they faced.

"We have two hundred souls who need to survive this day," the old

tribal chief said. "We are very close to the river, maybe the

border. Tonight we may have plenty." He looked down at his people

clustered in the shade of the few trees that dotted the

landscape. "Give them the water." He'd wait until everyone had a

meager swallow of water before taking his. Quietly he hoped

there'd be some left over when it came to his turn.

    Stabbing at the black shale with his sandal he decided to

encourage his people. Ten meters away sat a flat-top outcrop that

rose two meters higher. Turning to his aide who stood behind him,

he whispered. "Give me the staff." He then climbed the boulder
  ISAELI HEAT                                                       4

and reached toward his aid.

       The aid uncovered the ancient symbol of authority and handed

it to his chief. Marou's fingers gently and firmly grasped the

carved wooden pole. Two intertwining golden serpents with their

heads facing outward topped the staff and shined brightly in the

sun.

       His fingers roamed over the spiral history of his tribe. A

three fingers wide span remained uncarved at the bottom. Above

the smooth area, the inscribed sections told the history of three

thousand years of clan authority.

       With the majestic staff held high for all to see, Marou had

trouble standing steady. Gahza appeared by his side. His strong

arms gave strength to his father. Holding his son‘s arm with one

hand, he said quietly as he wavered again. "A chief and his son

must not look weak in front of the people. I pushed them hard

today,

       "You pushed yourself too hard," Gahza said.

       "I fear that evil is very near."

       Marou's eyes glanced back at the dust cloud.

       "You are like this rock," Gahza said. "You will always stand

steady and tall to give encouragement to them and to me."

       "They trust me, Gahza. Help me not to fail them."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      5

    "You are more than my father; you are my chief. I will

always be with you."

    Marou looked down from the outcrop. His face revealed the

strain of command and seventy-years of life. He managed a smile

and tugged at his son's arm as Gahza started to back away. "Stand

with me so all will see."

    As he gazed down at his people, his heart ached for the

relatives, friends, and neighbors who fled the village with him.

"Fifty days with little food. Now I give them dust to drink."

    The chief shielded his eyes from the blazing sun, searching

the northern horizon.

    "There it is," He pointed at the tan cloud shimmering in the

heat. "There, toward the north."

    "I see it," Gahza said. "It has floated above the horizon

for ten days. It follows us. It cannot be the army. They would

have caught us days ago."

    The old chief sighed with the frustration of not knowing as

he looked down at his villagers. He spied Yolli, his wife of

fifty years. She stood strong helping the weak and the children.

Lifting the staff high above his head he waved to encourage her.

    "It has been four days since we sent a runner to

investigate," Gahza said. "Maybe another village follows our

tracks."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      6

    Marou heard the hope in his son‘s voice and saw the

innocence in his eyes. "I fear that our scout has been killed. It

is Colonel Nimeiri and the tall white man. I curse them after

what they did to our village."

    The chief slid his fingers over the strings of knots tied to

the tribal staff. One string of knots represented each name of

those who died fighting for the village. "These twenty-seven will

never be forgotten." A second, longer, string represented the

days of their flight. He turned toward the south. "Soon, we will

be safe. We will be free of the butchers."

    "We chased them from our village, Father. We can do it

again. This time we have rifles." Gahza raised high the captured

AK-47 he picked up from Colonel Nimeiri's panic stricken men.

    "Yes. We drove them out. But you saw the hatred in that

jackal's eyes. The only thing he understands is to kill all who

reject his authority and faith. I fear those who refused to leave

with us have been destroyed, along with our village."

    Gahza smiled. "My eyes still see the face of that butcher.

We fled for our lives, but I will always treasure the memory of

Wongo Springs. We will return."

    Marou rested a hand on his son's shoulder. "When this evil

passes, as all evils do, we will surely return." The northern

winds shifted and the old chief sniffed a familiar scent. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     7

studied the notch between the hill and the trail to the south.

"Water! I think I smell water. Do you?"

       Gahza turned and inhaled. "I smell it too. We made it."

       "Not yet. I think we have three to five kilometers to

travel. But it is close. Quick give everyone the water. Tonight

we may cross the river." He turned back and studied the dust

cloud floating above the northern horizon. "It seems larger and

closer. I think a game is being played, but for what purpose? Are

we a mouse on a salt field? Let us hope the hawk does not

appear."

       Gahza pointed at the trail they followed. "Father, this path

seems much too new. Is it possible that we missed the one you

told us about?"

       "Perhaps, but every time I sent a man to search for it, the

rumble of a distant battle frightens him and forces him back."

       "Is it possible we are being herded?" Gahza speculated.

       "Once we get across the border, it will not matter. The

rebels will welcome us, and we will be free." Marou studied the

distant Dongoton Mountains and felt his spirit revive. "Come, we

must continue. Rainfall, good soil, freedom, a new life awaits

us."

       Marou's eyes followed the path south and spied a distant

ridge. He heard about a ridge from traveling merchants. It lay
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      8

just across the border. For sure the river lies close by.

    "We are almost there," he called to encourage his clansmen.

"We must not stop until we reach freedom!" He waved for the tribe

to start moving again. They needed water. In another day the very

young will begin perishing. But the smell, the ridge, the notch,

everything pointed to abundant water.

    The women lifted large bundles above their heads as the men

carried the tribe's meager food supply, those that could not

walk, and hundreds of empty plastic water jugs. Following the

people, young boys prodded a herd of fifty starving cattle. With

great optimism, everyone expected the animals to provide the

wealth to begin life in a new land.

    Marou smiled as he spoke through parched lips. "Tonight we

will swim in water." He looked down at his feet and saw his

shadow to his left and back. Seven hours of daylight remained. He

again searched the south and his eyes stopped at a long sliver of

brown that sat almost hidden by the shrubs.

    "The river!" he yelled with relief. "We are closer than I

imagined." The sliver of brown poking from behind the bushes

represented the dried riverbed. The river also signaled the

gateway to rebel held territory. The sight gave life to his

limbs. It lay a mere three hundred meters away.

    At this time of year, he thought, the river will be nothing
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      9

more than a wide strip of hard-crusted sand. Just below the sand,

protected from the heat, there will be mud. Below the mud there

will be life giving water. It has to be there. He can smell it.

While he lets the cattle drink muddy water, everyone will dig

farther up stream for themselves. The water will energize us for

the journey to Sogondy Lakes, fifty kilometers farther south.

    The thump-thump beat from approaching helicopters shook him

from his rejoicing and he turned toward the north. Three black

locusts, dots in the sky, grew larger. The beat of rotor blades

grew louder, and without warning, a string of bullets raised dust

plumes behind the cattle.

    The hawk has arrived.

    He spied Gahza running and waving instructions. "Hurry!"

Marou cried. "Get everyone across the river!"

    The emaciated cattle moved first as frightened children

slapped them with branches. Ahead of the cattle, in one mass,

men, women, children, turned and ran in terror toward the river.

Marou watched them suddenly stop.

    "Get across," he yelled, hoping they heard him. "You'll be

safe. The army never goes past this border." He pumped his arm up

and down to signal for them to go.

    Bullets struck the shale below his feet. Silhouetted against

the blue sky in an act of desperation, he waved his people on
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     10

with the staff held high for all to see. Plumes of dirt rose

among the cattle and two cows collapsed, bellowing in pain. The

he saw a villager flying into the air.

    "The machine guns are in range!" he yelled. "Get to the

other side. Water and safety await you. Run!" His heart skipped a

beat when his wife waved to him then led the way down the slope.

His son appeared helping those who could not walk. He too

vanished over the side along with the rest of the tribe and

cattle.

    Rocket fire exploded between Marou and a few stragglers,

producing a shower of rocks, shrubs, and sand. He knew the

explosions prodded his people more than any words he'd speak.

    Marou jumped from the boulder as strings of bullets sent

dirt leaping skyward on both sides of the outcrop. It is time to

flee. Slipping and tumbling he sacrificed his body to protect the

staff. Reaching the bottom, he ran.

    He imagined a mass a hundred meters wide of tribesmen and

cattle slipping down the embankment onto the hard crusted

riverbed. Bundles of clothing spilling as villagers ran for their

lives. Children would be stopping to help the elderly pick up a

few meager possessions.

    Tripping over a bush his eyes spied a faded sign with skull

and crossbones. It lay hidden and almost buried in the dirt. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     11

gasped at the barely readable warning in Arabic: "Mine Field."

    "Stop!" he cried as he struggled to his feet and forced

himself to run, his warnings lost in the thumping roar of the

approaching helicopters. He made it to the river's edge in time

to see his villagers and cattle halfway across the wide riverbed

running in a mass one hundred meters wide. Sprouting up from

among the people puffs of dust erupted, flinging villagers to the

side.

    His eyes settled on a mother grasping her child. Both lay

withering in pain on the sand. The sand around her legs turned

crimson red. The child rolled from her arms and lay still. A

rapid series of explosions pulled his attention back to the mass

fleeing destruction into destruction. Endless eruptions of brown

puffs killed people and cattle.

    "Yolli," he yelled as his old eyes searched for his wife.

The dust, explosions, and chaos made it impossible to find her.

Marou glanced across the river, pleading for help. Surely the

rebels will help.

    He watched in horror as a long string of buried land mines

exploded at once and caught the leading wave of men and cattle in

a swath of whizzing metal. The people turned and ran parallel to

the riverbank. From beneath their feet, detonating landmines

flung people and baggage into the air. Marou collapsed to his

knees and cried as the last detonation echoed off the hills. Few
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     12

survived the crossing. On the distant riverbank, a rebel soldier

waved the survivors toward his position.

    Marou frantically searched the carnage. He never found his

wife and son. The dead and dying lay strewn across the riverbed

covered in dirt. All lay intermingled with dying cattle. Great

patches of sand turned dark from the blood. A few of the dying

villagers dragged their bodies forward to a final resting-place.

He closed his eyes and wanted to cry. No tears came from his

parched eyes. He buried his forehead in the dirt. All around him

the sounds from approaching helicopters grew deafening.

    Sand blown by whirling helicopter blades stung his head. The

burnt smells from explosives, flung by the man-made whirlwinds,

singed his nose. As the helicopters quieted, he again heard the

cries of the wounded. His hands covered his ears to block out the

sounds. A familiar face appeared by the nearest helicopter. Marou

murmured, "The butcher."

    A tall white man dressed in desert fatigues jumped from the

second craft. He held a rifle. Four more white men and five

Sudanese soldiers formed a protective shield. The white man

stopped and waited for the butcher.

    Marou's eyes burned as Colonel Nimeiri walked toward the

white man. The Colonel adjusted his beret and cleaned his

sunglasses as he studied the carnage.

    Hatred seared Marou's soul. He wanted to fight, to kill this
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     13

hated colonel, but what can a seventy-year old man do against the

likes of him?

    Four soldiers surrounded Marou. He studied their eyes. Their

cold black gazes told him everything he needed to know. The old

chief glanced to the north and heard the sound of trucks. The

dust cloud arrived. The viper's brigade must have raced across

the desert. They better not be late. The Colonel is not a

forgiving man.

    Marou stiffened himself to his full height with the help of

the serpent staff. The ancient symbol of authority gripped

tightly in his hands.

    He gazed into the impersonal blue sky and prayed while a

ceaseless wind whipped his hair. Stroking the ancient wooden

cross hanging from his neck, he saw a meteor flash across the

clear sky. A thin smile etched across his parched lips. His

prayer of vengeance had been answered.

    General Vorshkov glanced up to see what the old man had

stared at. He saw nothing. Returning his attention to Nimeiri, he

watched the Colonel smash the old man in the mouth with his

pistol.

    Marou stiffened from pain, but he wouldn't give in. Blood

spilled from split lips. Still he held steady. Unless they cut

the legs out from under him, he'd never bow.

    "Chief Marou, what a pleasure. It is so good we meet again,"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     14

Nimeiri announced before turning to the General and asking, "If

you would do me the honor, sir." He held out his pistol to the

General. "This old chief has been a thorn in my side for years.

His type must be removed or they will destroy everything we

believe in."

    Vorshkov approached the old chief and studied his eyes. Pain

plainly evident, yet the old man did not cry. The chief stood

erect and straight. Something else radiated from the man's eyes.

The old chief gave the look of expectation, like a kid excited

about a special treat. There seems to be a peace within him. He

had to be in pain. It didn't fit the circumstances.

    Vorshkov glanced at the Colonel and wasn't surprised to see

a face energized by sadistic delight. He took Nimeiri‘s pistol

and saw the blood on the barrel. With quiet resignation, Vorshkov

put down his field glasses.

    "It will be my honor, Comrade Nimeiri." Vorshkov checked to

see if a bullet sat in the chamber as two soldiers held Marou's

head. Vorshkov plunged the barrel of the pistol between Marou's

bloody lips. Without further delay he motioned to the two

soldiers. Both backed away as he squeezed the trigger.

    He knelt over the body and wiped the bloody barrel on

Marou's clothing before handing the pistol back to Nimeiri.

    The Colonel yanked a small bloodied cross from Marou's neck

and looked past the riverbed to the nearby hills. "After we
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     15

capture their water hole, the rebels will retreat one-hundred

kilometers, back into the jungle. We have made a fine victory."

He held up the chief's wooden cross for his soldiers to see.

    Loud wobbles and cheers erupted from the soldiers.

    "Another one for my collection," he said laughingly. Those

who heard him speak laughed and cheered loudly.

    General Vorshkov smiled at the Colonel's victory. "You have

learned my tactics well. I congratulate you, Colonel. You have a

safe two hundred-meter wide path through the rebel minefields.

Remember, keep your helicopters low. Their ground-to-air missiles

are ineffective close to the ground. Now I must leave you. I have

a meeting in Damascus."

    "You will be missing the completion of this mission."

    "Yes, that is true, Colonel." Vorshkov reached down and

grabbed Marou's tribal staff.

    "Is this staff what you are searching for?" asked Nimeiri.

    "Yes," General Vorshkov replied. "I think it is."

    He studied the bronze double headed serpents attached to the

top, and his eyes traced the carving just below the serpents. He

stopped at a carving of a box within the symbol of a mountain.

His jaws tightened in confirmation as he read the name. Even in

the ancient dialect of the Wongos the mountain still is called

Nebo.

    Turning to the Colonel he knew what needed to be done. In
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     16

his mind, the image of Kendra Makray appeared. "I have a pretty

lady to kill and very little time to get it done," he said. Then

thinking of the nation of Israel he added, "I may have a nation

to destroy."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     17




    Chapter 2

    Pete switched off his miner's lamp and started back to the

rest of the team who worked noisily at the end of the dimly lit

main section twenty yards away. A movement, something out of the

ordinary, caught his eye and made him freeze. Listening and

searching he didn't have to wait long.

    A stranger appeared at the opening of the darkened branch

that led to Pete. The man turned and looked toward him. Pete felt

the hair on his neck stiffen as he froze all motion. Not seeing

Pete in the darkness, the stranger turned his attention to the

main cave and the sounds from the team. He seemed to be

listening. When the man started moving again, Pete caught a

glimpse of a yellow reflective glint in the man's right hand. The

dim light produced by the weak lamps hanging from the stony walls
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     18

produced another flash of subdued orange light. For a moment Pete

saw the shape of a long knife. At first he hesitated, yet a sixth

sense warned him of danger. The intruder didn't belong in the

cave and what he held in his hand was not the tool of an

archaeologist. At first Pete decided to back away and stay

hidden.

    The intruder stopped again and appeared to be listening. Had

the man heard his movement? Faint laughter floated in the air.

The man looked ready to spring. Yet he held the knife behind his

back – hiding it from view of anyone approaching him. The man was

ready to kill in a surprise move. No one appeared in the cave and

the man started forward.

    The intruder passed another light and Pete thought about

calling out a warning, but decided to size up the man. He seemed

to be stocky build and strong. In the dim light he guessed him to

be Middle-Eastern and well fed. So far he did not know he was

being watched.

    With heart racing Pete knew he needed to act fast. "Well,"

he said to himself. "Let's not stand here. This guy is prepared

to hurt someone. In his mind's eye he saw Kendra Makray coming

around the bend and this guy sticking that blade into her.

    Fear of that possibility sent waves of heat coursing through

his body. His vision improved. The light in the cave brightened,

and the sounds he heard became clearer. Nothing in the cave
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     19

changed, but Pete experienced this trait before. "Heck," he

mouthed as the hunter within him focused his senses on the

intruder. "You ain't gonna hurt anyone."

    For a moment the image of Kendra being hurt knotted his

stomach.

    Moving forward he felt the muscles in his body tighten. The

animal instincts he always valued in wild animals surfaced.

Slowly moving closer he planned to launch a surprise attack of

his own. For a moment he swore he heard the pounding of the guy's

heart.

    Possessed with a phenomenon that his old Marine buddies

envied he moved closer. His unusual animal-like traits first

appeared while in the Marines on night patrol. Somehow the pupils

of his eyes enlarged greater than normal. Doctors told him that

his eyes contained more rods than normal. This night vision

ability gave him headaches on overcast days, but at night, under

the stress of combat, he found himself able to see delightfully

well. Even his ears shared in this increased sensitivity. Hence

they nicknamed him "Wolf".

    He got within an arm's reach of the guy when something made

the man spun around.

    With the element of surprise gone, Pete sprung into action.

At the same time he kept an awareness of the knife. "What are you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     20

doing here!" he yelled and watched the stranger stiffen.

    The guy's right shoulder tightened and Pete saw the man‘s

shirt move. He instinctively sensed the rising knife. Now Peter

Meirs, ex-marine turned archaeologist, a man proficient in

Shotokan Karate exploded into action. To delay might bring death,

and he had been close to death many a time. It became a deadly

serious game he actually enjoyed.

    Without thinking he lunged forward, swept his left hand

down, connecting with the man's rising right wrist, and parried

the knife. At the same time, Pete's right hand shot up with an

open palm and smashed into the killer‘s chin. The intruder's head

snapped back just as Pete‘s knee hit its mark. The killer rode

the force like a saddle, flipped in the air, and momentarily

floated level to Pete's chest.

    With everything in slow motion, Pete struck again. This time

he smashed the palm of his right hand into the guy's face and

drove it down. The man's skull smashed into the rocky floor with

a thud. The loud knock filled Pete's ears with pleasure. Before

the guy's feet hit the ground Pete twisted the knife away and

threw it to the side.

    The man's eyes rolled back into their sockets. The fight

ended as fast at began.

    Pete's eyes darted around looking for another threat. He saw
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     21

nothing. No one else followed. Only the cold stone walls

remained. Behind him the voices from confused members of the team

called out to him, wondering about the yelling.

    Soon his fellow archaeologists stood around him. Pete went

over and picked up the knife and stuck it in his belt.

    Returning to the man, Pete studied the guy's pox scared

face. Watching the man's eyes he saw no movement. Pock-Face lay

out for the count. Then the man's left arm twitched. Pock-Face

might not lie still much longer.

    Untying Pock-Face's bootlaces, Pete roughly rolled the man

onto his stomach and tied the guy's hands behind his back. Pete

ignored the barrage of questions from the team who now surrounded

him. Instead he yanked Pock-Face‘s feet up and jammed them back

toward the man's hands. In a half-a-minute, with hands and feet

tied together, he stood, reviewing his work. This guy wasn't

going anywhere.

    Standing over the defeated, he surveyed the scene feeling

proud of his work as the muscles in his arms and legs quivered.

The light in the cave darkened and Pete knew his heightened

senses had returned to normal.

    "I found him in the cave," he explained in a shaky voice as

he tried to control his shivers. With a pause to clear his

throat, Pete asked, "Does anyone know who he is? He pulled a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     22

knife on me. Someone better call the soldiers. Maybe they can

make sense out of this."

    Pete grabbed the human bundle by the back of the pants, and

dragged the man closer to a light. Dropping him against the wall,

he knelt and turned Pock-Face onto the side as the guy regained

consciousness with a start. The man protested with cries of pain

as he struggled to break free. Pete stopped the movement by

planting a knee in the center of Pock-Face's throat.

    "What's this all about?" demanded the dig's director, Doctor

Huntington. "What are you doing to that man? You're hurting him."

    Pete thought he had given an adequate answer. Besides it now

seemed clear that it is more important to restrain Pock-Face. The

knee stayed planted as the man gagged. Pete smiled with

satisfaction until he saw Kendra. She appeared alongside the

Director. Confusion clearly filled her face. Pete quickly wiped

the smile from his face.

    Looking straight at her, Pete asked, "Is this the man in

your dreams? The one coming to kill you?"

    Kendra stared hard at the face and shook her head. "No."

    Dr. Huntington‘s voice erupted loud and clear. "I think we

better take a break. Someone go back to camp and get the

soldiers. They'll know how to deal with this."

    "I need to get warmed up," Pete said as shivers fought to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     23

control his arms and head. "I'll wait outside."

    Handing the man's knife to Dr. Huntington, he went back to

where he worked and retrieved his backpack. As he passed the

archaeologist his eyes caught Kendra's. Smiling at her, he walked

toward the opening.




    Approaching the front of the cave, suspecting that a friend

of Pock-Face might be waiting, he searched for anything out of

the ordinary. Finding nothing out of the ordinary he exited the

cave and stood alongside the gasoline powered electrical

generator. Still he continued scanning every bolder and bush

within three hundred yards of the opening. Imprinted in the dirt

he saw the man's footprints. A single set lay mixed among his

friends. This killer came alone and from the East.

    A clear blue sky sat overhead and he soaked up the desert

heat. Ever so slightly his charged muscles loosened. "I'm getting

soft," he muttered as he realized getting the shakes made him

feel week. "Don't play around next time."

    He took the army surplus sun glasses from the backpack and

pushed them close to his eyes. He again scanned the mountain,

searching for signs of human movement. Seeing no one, he sat on

the ground, took a deep breath, and raised his face toward the

western sun.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     24

    Pete dug his fingers into the soil, his eyes filling with

tears as his head drooped. The memory of the one-car accident

that killed his family flashed across his mind out of nowhere. He

shook off the thoughts and images. Forcefully he concentrated on

relaxing. Is this what my life is all about, he thought, people

dieing. Two lives, his wife and child, the only ones who meant

something to him, they were all dead. The rest of the people were

just so much trash in an overstuffed suitcase. At least this

stupid contest ended in his favor.

    The image of the first man he killed appeared for a moment.

His drunken neighbor lay on the kitchen floor with the butcher's

knife in his back. His mother lay in the corner with her face

bloody and swollen. In a whisper he said, "Now there's someone

who deserved to die."

    The muscles in his shoulders softened as his eyes fixed

across the Jordan Valley and then at the city of Jericho. He

enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees filling the city and the

surrounding irrigated fields. The springtime rains brought life

to the area. He used to like Jericho. Now the political situation

had changed for the worst. Someday it will change back.

    For now plants blossomed to life, and flowers carpeted large

sections of the surrounding area. Even Mount Nebo where he sat

was alive in color. If Jordan always looked like this, he'd think

about moving here.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     25

    Brushing dirt from his hair and stretching, he let the heat,

the desert, and natural beauty work its magic on his disposition.

Across the valley thunderheads formed to the West.

    He looked at his watch. "Two o'clock. The clouds are

building a little earlier." Thinking about the team, he thought

out loud. "Better check their tie-downs. Don't want anyone

getting hurt." For a moment the man in the cave haunted him by

the danger he represented. The Jordanian's will take care of this

guy. They have ways their own ways of getting answers. "Right now

the danger looks like it might come from nature."

    Marveling at the glistening white tops of the darkening

clouds, he watched the slowly growing. A few words from a poem

appeared in his mind as he studied the changing shapes of the

clouds. Poetry always lifted his spirit. My boy, he thought, you

are a strange romantic.

    Hearing the sound of voices, he turned and saw fifteen

mystified archaeologists and summer volunteers streaming from the

cave. All spoke of the stranger with the knife. He waited for

Kendra Makray to appear and felt a smile appear on his lips.

    A full-time volunteer, she became his closest friend, and

someone he trusted without feeling like a fool. She possessed

extraordinary beauty, a high degree of wisdom, and infectious

laughter. She also had a weird side. It was something about her
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     26

talking with God. Most of the time he found that subject was easy

to ignore. But once in a while it made him uncomfortable. Oh

well. No one's perfect.

    That wouldn't stop him from using her tale of a supernatural

vision in the speaking tour he hoped to begin once the dig ended.

The thoughts of the fees he'd earn gave him a comfortable

feeling. Right now, all he owned sat in a Tel Aviv safe deposit

box: five hundred dollars and an open return ticket to

Philadelphia. After two years in the field, his stint at

archaeology proved to be no way to get rich. But college students

might want to hear him speak. Coupling his exploits in the

marines with Kendra's supernatural tales of a vision, he'd make a

great storyteller.

    Yes sir, Kendra will be back in her hometown of Denver,

Colorado, and I'll be on the East Coast climbing the corporate

ladder to success.

    His mind stopped working when she emerged from the hole.




    "Pete, are you all right?" she asked in a voice that changed

his thinking as fast as the hot sun worked on melting his

tension. He fixed his eyes on hers.

    The smile on his face widened. Her emerald green eyes locked

onto him and made his heart skip a beat. Even his knees weakened.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    27

He forgot his plans for tomorrow. How does she do it?

    Now he loved the way her sandy blond hair and tanned skin

made a perfect match. He once visited a tribe in South Africa

that carried these features.

    As distant and detached as he tried to be with her, he

always found himself drawn closer. It all began two years ago.

She arrived on a supply truck ago, and her magical pull inside

him never weakened.

    A poem came to mind when she stepped alongside, so he smiled

at her and began reciting.

    "The Prophet stood on the high mount,

    And saw the tempest cloud pour the fierce

    whirlwind

         from its reservoir of Congregated gloom."

    Pete paused to search through his memory, before continuing

with the last half.

    "The caverened earthquake burst forth from its prison,

    And the mountain rocked even to its base.

    The topmost crags were thrown,

         With fearful crashing,

    Down its shuddering sides.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     28

    Unawed, the Prophet saw and heard."

       He stopped and waited for the sound of her voice. It came

  a second later.

       "You're something, Wolf. What prompted this?"

    The nickname "Wolf" came from the Marines. After he admitted

to being a sniper and let his name tag slip, she discretely began

using the name "Wolf". He enjoyed her playful use of the name. At

least that's the way it began. Even in the desert, the wind has

ears. He didn't mind the good-natured razzing from the team, but

Pete knew that their use of the name "Wolf" carried a far

different meaning.

    "Am I a prophet?" Kendra asked.

    "If you discover that golden box, you will be, and this

region of the world will never be the same. For your info, the

poem belongs to Whittier and is titled, "Deity". I think it sums

you up pretty well -- your hopes, your dreams, and maybe your

destiny. As for the Ark, I doubt if it's mystical or has any

power except for some historical value. Maybe it will prove to be

a radio to extra-terrestrials. On the other hand it may prove to

be a big fat nothing, an elaborate creation of Moses for

superstitious minds."

    His stand on the Ark already gave him access to people he

liked, people who possessed lots of money and influence. If she
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     29

succeeded, and the Ark proves to be something spectacular, he'd

be part of the greatest find of all times. He felt comfortable

with his win-win position.

    "Enough about me," Pete said. "You're the one who looks like

someone who needs cheering up."

    "And that poem is cheery? How do you remember these things?"

    He moved beside her as they followed the team up the mile-

long mountain trail. The camp sat above them, just below an aging

monument to Moses.

    He shrugged his shoulders. "Wish I knew. They just happen. I

find they say a lot about my feelings, so I collect poems."

    "You never cease to amaze me Wolf. You're blessed."

    He liked the way "Wolf" rolled off her lips.

    "I think of it as a curse. Whatever. It's become my hobby. I

never told you, but I collect first edition originals of early

American poets. They're my retirement policy."

    He watched a far-away look freeze itself on her face. "A

penny for your thoughts?" He moved closer and just wanted to

touch her lips with his.

    She stopped walking and stared across the valley. "That

scar-faced man from my vision," she said. "I just felt the

sensation that he is very close." She gave Pete a weak smile.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     30

    He caught her attempt to hide the fear churning inside.

    He figured the guy in the cave resurrected her fear of being

assassinated. "Have you seen something?" he said, trying to

placate her fears. "Maybe that guy in the cave's a touch of

poetic justice."

    "What?"

    "Well you think someone is coming after you. Maybe it's that

guy." He threw a thumb back toward the cave. "You know how it is

when criminals get too sure of themselves. Something comes along

unexpected and the best plans go poof. They get killed by an

accident of nature."

    "Or maybe they get squashed by you," she added.

    Pete wasn't sure how to answer that. The way she said it

didn't come across right.

    "So," he replied in an effort to return to her imaginary

fear. "You still believe there's someone out there who wants you

dead?"

    "I know he is. I still see him in my dreams. I‘ve got the

overwhelming sensation that something is about to happen, and I

can't do anything about it. As for poetic justice I believe in

that also. God has a way of bringing it about. Sadly the person

first injured never sees it take place."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     31

    Pete sighed, gave her a hug, and looked across the valley.

He wished he could do more.

    Tracing her body with his eyes, he wanted to do more. As far

as this fear she carried within her, it all began with a vision

back in the States. Everyone on the team heard the story. One

part contained the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. The

second part told of a scar-faced man who wanted to kill her.

    The sounds of birds calling to each other made him look up.

A flock of sea gulls circled overhead.

    "Where'd they come from?" he asked.

    Two gulls swooped toward them, and he waited for them to

veer away. Strange, they keep flying down, aiming for Kendra. He

pulled her against him just as they swooped past. Holding her

close he smelled her and wanted to bury his face in her hair.

    "Do you have a poem for that?" she teased as she grabbed his

arm and hurried up the trail. "This has happened once before,"

she panted, "back home. We have to get back."

    "What, the birds? What happened back home?" he asked as he

stared at the gulls circling overhead. "What do the birds have to

do with you?" Seeing that the gulls kept their distance, he

slowed her to a walk. "This is a story I want to hear."

    She ignored his request. "I think we better get back to

camp." A white spot splattered next to her foot. She looked down
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     32

at the guano and laughed, "I might become like Lot's wife."

Looking at him, the expression on his face said he didn't

understand. "Another white statue," she explained with a smile.

"I'll be fertilizer, instead of salt."

    "Oh!"

    Pete saw her looking up when a volley of guano splattered

around them.

    "We'd better get under cover," she said. "I'm suddenly

feeling tired."

    He took her hand and led her up the trail until she stopped.

Turning he saw her glazed eyes. Her face glistened from

perspiration. Beads of water appeared on her forehead as her

tanned complexion drained away.

    "What's wrong?" he asked, thinking that her lunch may have

turned sour.

    She grabbed his arm, her strong fingers digging into his

skin. "The mountains," she cried. "They're, they're gone! It's

beginning!"

    Pete stared at her in bewilderment until he noticed her eyes

soften and her fingers relax.

    "I'm okay," she said. "Weird, huh?" she added. "Don't tell

anyone about this."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     33

    Pete bit his lower lip and thought about drugs, but that

couldn't be. She's not the type. Maybe it's food poisoning. She

said she didn't like lunch. He checked the vanishing line of

archaeologists hoping for help. They were all gone. He was alone

with her. Frustrated, he stubbed the toe of his boot into the

dirt.

    "I don't know how to help," he admitted with sincerity. An

idea tickled him. "We could go back to the cave." A mischievous

smile crossed his lips as he hoped the humor would lift her

spirits. On the other hand, he also hoped she'd take him up on

the idea. His hopes ended when he saw her eyes. They were filled

with pain and suffering. This time he felt sorry for her, and

truly wanted to help.

    "It's back," she cried. "And no, we won't go back," she

snapped.

    The sharpness in her voice startled him as he said a silent,

"Whoa." He wanted to draw her close, but remembered another time

when he did just that. That incident almost got him kicked off

the team. He tagged her from the first as tough and independent.

Then he discovered the lady lived by a strict moral code,

something he didn't understand. It involved purity, chastity, and

honesty. Honesty, he accepted. As for chastity, it had very

little meaning.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  34

    He winced as her frame slumped. She usually carried her

hundred and twenty-two pounds of firm muscles with a bounce. Now

she looked beat.

    "You've been working too hard," he said as he tried to

dismiss what happened.

    "You're right. You go on. I need to be alone," she whispered

and dropped to her knees as everything around her spun.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     35




    Chapter 3

    An exhausted Kendra sat in the dirt with her back to the

sun. Her forehead sat cradled in her hands. The heat warming her

back helped a little, but only a little.

    "Are you okay?" Pete asked. She looked exhausted. He had

never seen her this way before. Normally her face carried a

smile, and her personality just bubbled with enthusiasm. The lady

looked terrible. Shock was his only answer. The lady carried all

the signs of being in shock.

    What am I doing here?"

    Pete looked at her in bewilderment. This is a strange

question. Confused, he decided to play along. "Why, you're here

to uncover the Ark of the Covenant," he said light heartedly.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     36

"It's the reason you came to Jordan. You said you read about the

cave in a newspaper and you came."

    She thought about the newspaper article that appeared three

years ago. A thunderstorm had uncovered the opening to the cave.

A young Jordanian girl from a nearby farm cleared the opening and

found pottery. All of the clay pots contained scrolls. Her father

sold the sculls and their original location to whoever paid in

gold.

    "That isn't what I mean," she answered as her mind cleared.

    Regaining her strength she prayed she'd remember everything

she saw. The last time a loss of memory did not come along with

the vision. She remembered everything then, and she hoped she

remembered everything now. Realizing she was sitting in the dirt

she stood up and brushed herself off. "Let's get back. I need to

write everything down."

    "The excavation began a year later," Pete added, not knowing

that she now felt fine. "Do you remember when you nearly got

killed as a section of the roof collapsed, trapping you against

the wall."

    "It's a miracle I wasn't killed." Darting a look toward him,

she wondered what he was talking about.

    "I'm glad you weren't, but as you said it turned out to be

providential. Doctor Huntington, discovered bits of plaster

mingled in the dirt floor."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     37

    Kendra smiled. "Plaster is confirmation that this is the

right cave. It is Jeremiah's cave. This is the cave where the

prophet hid the Ark of the Covenant before the Babylonian Empire,

led by King Nebuchadnezzar in 625 BC, began their final assault

on Jerusalem."

    "I hope you're right," Pete said. "I know you listened as

Huntington expressed your exact thoughts. I can still hear him

saying, 'The prophet received orders from God to hide the Ark of

the Covenant. He and the remaining faithful priests, those who

carried the Ark on their shoulders from place to place so it

would not be defiled by the evils of the last three kings of

Judah, traveled to this mountain and hid it in a plastered cave.

    "A few years later, around 627 BC, Nebuchadnezzar captured

Jerusalem. Jeremiah went into captivity and the whereabouts of

the Ark vanished. Yet Jeremiah did write letters. A portion of

one letter ended up in the second book of Maccabee.'"

    "Three years," she said in amazement. "Has it been that

long?" A shiver swept across her head and arms.

    "There are times I questioned my sanity," she admitted. "Yet

every time the Lord has encouraged me."

    "You have been an encouragement to me, as well as the

others," Pete admitted. "Tomorrow we start drilling through every

section of plastered flooring we've identified. The Radar has

identified a hollow spot beneath two sections. We'll start
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     38

cutting holes in their tops to see what's buried below."

    She smiled and nodded, yes, as a wave of vertigo forced her

to stop walking. Her eyes closed and she felt nauseated. Pete's

strong hands grabbed her by the arms.

    "Is something wrong?" He saw her swaying with her eyes

closed. "Can you hear me?" Now what, he thought.

    She blinked both eyes until the cobwebs vanished. She felt

sure a vision lay just out of her reach. Something was opening

up. Yet it seemed hidden, as if hidden by a fog. She thought

about the prophet Daniel and his prayer that did not get answered

for twenty-one days.

    Determined to put on a happy face she smiled just as his

right hand reached under her chin. She looked into Pete‘s eyes.

She sensed she saw a touch of compassion. Maybe he does care a

little bit, she thought. I wish he wasn't here. What's he going

to think of me now?

    "You okay?" he asked. "What happened? I timed you. You stood

staring at the ground for over a minute. Everyone's back at camp.

The soldiers came and took our intruder away. I kept asking you

what is wrong, but you never answered. Think you can make it

back?"

    "We better go," she said, wiping away the tears in her eyes.

The fingers of her left hand curled into his right. She squeezed,

felt better, then let go.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     39

    "God, I'm tired," she answered. "I'm only now getting rid of

the chills." Yet she knew these same symptoms occurred earlier.

Fortunately, at that time, she sat in a parking lot within her

car. Now she just wanted to get to her tent and be left alone.

    The rising hot air from the Dead Sea made it hard to

breathe.

    She watched Pete vanish before her eyes, appear, then vanish

again and again. Her head swirled. She fought the dizziness

sweeping over her and refused to pass out.

    "Hurry," she managed to say. "I've got to get to my tent."

Inside she also knew it was too late.

    The blackness came suddenly.

    Pete grabbed her around the waist.

    "You okay?" he asked as he used his whole hundred and

ninety-five pounds to steady her. Her body, now dead weight,

almost slipped from his grasp.

    The flu-like symptoms of the approaching vision sent waves

of nauseating pain through her back, neck, and head. She thought

about Pete. He often said, "I've seen it all, done it all. I'm an

ex-marine sniper who just lucked into a degree in archaeology. If

God cared about the people's suffering, where is he?"

    Now a collage of images flashed before her and she stopped

worrying about what Pete might think. Now she concentrated on

trying to understand what was being revealed.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     40

    The mix of fast moving scenes ended, settling on one that

unfolded before her. From experience she expected other details

to be revealed as time went by.

    Her mind rationalized that she stood on Mount Nebo, yet the

vision came from another place. The air, the smells, the sounds,

the pavement under her feet, it all felt real enough. Looking

around, standing in a parking lot, she saw a pool of water below

that reflected the blue of the sky. Maybe two hundred yards lower

sat a complex of three-story apartment buildings. People ran from

the buildings.

    A sprawling, fog-shrouded city lay beyond. The fog stretched

to the left and spread to the horizon. An ocean or a plain, she

guessed lay under the gray. To the right, the fog spilled into a

large bay. Two tall orange suspension towers poked through the

fog and suggested a large bridge.

    The air smelled moist, fresh, and sweet, not like the

stifling Jordanian desert. A quarter mile to her left stood a

very large three-legged red and white painted tower. Three

smaller and closer towers sat to her right.

    Everything vanished and she found herself looking down at

the earth from a height many times higher than any aircraft flew.

At first she thought of a space shuttle.

    Millions of non-twinkling stars appeared as the coast of a

large landmass came into view. As the earth rotated she saw the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     41

coast of Central America and knew the vision had her above the

South Pacific Ocean.

    From the star-lit blackness of space, a mountain of rock

appeared. It streaked toward her. The mountain burst into a

blinding white light, and she threw up her hands to shield her

eyes. The mountain sped pass and the sounds of shrieking,

crackling, and popping made her skin crawl. Squinting through her

fingers she saw the mountain explode. Below, the earth turned.

Now she saw the western Mexican coast, the Baja, and the

southwestern coast of California.

    She looked back at the remains of the blazing mountain and

saw thousands of incandescent white lines streaking toward the

American coast. Smaller pieces of the mountain exploded high

above the Pacific as two huge sections of the mountain streaked

further north.

    The largest exploded an instant later. The second piece

disappeared into the ocean to be replaced by a massive mushroom

shaped cloud.

    A heartbeat passed and she now found herself again on the

hill overlooking the city. The wailing of sirens filled the air.

Thousands of people covered the hill.

    The fog over the city lifted and moved toward inland

mountains as if swept by an invisible hand. The ocean and city

became visible. At the ocean's edge, the city lifted as the land
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     42

rolled inward. Wave after wave of half-mile thick three hundred

foot high ocean swells appeared and sped on shore. As the hill

she stood on lifted, dropped, and then lifted again tsunami waves

pushed their way around and over the lower hills and buildings,

each wave growing larger than the one that flowed before it.

Screams filled the air as thousands of panicky people rushed up

the hill. Waves of water and debris followed.

    A swirling ocean swept into the panic stricken masses and

carried hundreds of stragglers up the hill. Very few managed to

stay on the hill as most were swept back to the sea. She looked

away in horror as the roar of the waves mingled with the screams

of the survivors.

    The roaring and moaning below her feet increased. The three

small towers to her right swayed and snapped their support wires.

All smashed to the ground. A piercing metallic screech filled the

air as the larger tower twisted in slow motion, violently swayed,

then crashed among the helpless souls that survived the waters.

    The ground jumped again. All the buildings in the higher

levels of the city crumble, sending fiery explosions bubbling

into the sky. Jet-black puffs of smoke floated away as the

thunderclaps from thousands of natural gas explosions shattered

the air.

    The vision ended and the hot dry air of the Jordanian desert

brushed her face. The call of sea gulls and Pete's voice grew
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     43

stronger.

    "What's happening? Can you hear me?"

    "It's a vision," she said in a surprisingly strong voice,

even though tears streamed down her face. Mesmerized with the

scene, she watched a gigantic swell appear and speed across the

Pacific Ocean. She winced when the American west-coast began to

change.

    "I'm with you," he said. He touched her face and wiped away

the tears.

    She perceived a humming sound. It came from Pete.

    "Is there something I can do?" he asked.

    Kendra didn't answer. Instead she concentrated on the sight

of Pete lying on the ground with his chest bleeding.

    A moment later the sights and sounds ended. She found

herself staring at the glistening Jordan River flowing two

thousand feet below. She wanted to relax and splash in the

refreshing water.

    Staring across the valley at Jericho, she stared at the low

white buildings visible within the dark green palm trees. Her

eyes cleared and the nausea and pain that dug into her head

ceased. "I found myself on a hill overlooking a city," she said

softly. "I'm sure it's San Francisco."

    She looked into Pete's face. Her hands wrung together in

nervous grief.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    44

    "I then found myself in space." Her eyes widened as she

described the scene. "I saw a very big object, a glowing

mountain, streak toward earth. Most of it exploded, but one piece

hit the ocean. Massive earthquakes followed."

    Fascinated by what she said, he asked. "I don't know

anything about visions. Do they last long? When is this going to

happen?"

    Kendra felt herself shiver and looked at Pete, remembering

him on the ground and bleeding. "I saw a huge tidal wave hit a

coastal town," she said, her voice sobbing from the memory. "Most

of the people escaped, driving up into the hills. I'm sure those

who stayed behind died. All must have been swept out to sea."

    "You're safe here. All you've seen happened far away."

    "God help me," she sobbed. She forced herself to stop

crying. "My country can't take more of this."

    Her mind dredged up all the natural and man-made disasters

that occurred over the last few years. The ferocious hurricanes,

tornados, and Al Qaeda Muslims detonating two briefcase nuclears

in the nation led to a lot of deaths, panic, and misery. The

economy, all ready terrible, suffered a massive heart failure.

The action also turned very dangerous for anyone thought to be a

Muslim. A year later nothing had recovered. The government spent

money that it had no way of receiving. Unparalleled inflation and

a depression sent gangs of looters roaming through cities and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     45

neighborhood. Government curfews had little effect until the

looters were killed or sent to internment camps.

    "What will this vision do to everyone?" she wondered and

feared for a time that seemed to have vanished.

    Breathing heavy to clear her head, she wiped her face. "I

know He‘s helping me. I remember the first time I asked for help.

I lived in Denver at that time. I slapped the television set,

hoping it would fall from its stand. Instead, I turned it on.

Someone on the channel said 'God loves you.'

    "A month later, I walked into a church. A strange light, a

golden shaft of light appeared in the center isle. It came from

the ceiling where no light existed. It thickened. People standing

next to me never saw it. The preacher didn't see it, but I did,

and so did a few others. Then it started shrinking.

    I walked towards it. It was almost gone when I and another

person stood in it. The next day came my first vision. I know

more than ever these are not figments of my imagination."

    "Did the other person have a vision?"

    "I don't know. I should have found out."

    She prayed for strength and as always the tension seemed to

vanish. A final haunting image flickered before her. Her body

stiffened as she looked into the face of a mysterious scarf aced

stranger. This time he wore a uniform. A man she sensed wanted to

do her harm. Finally, the last fragment of the vision faded.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                       46

       She relaxed until she looked at Pete. Stumbling over her

words, she said, "I saw you. There is a war. You lay on the

ground hurt and bleeding. I fear something terrible is going to

happen to you."

       "Don't worry about me." Pete put on his best macho-man

imitation. "I don't volunteer for wars anymore. If one breaks

out, I promise you I will be among the first to leave."

       He scanned the skies looking for gulls. "The birds are gone.

Think they have anything to do with you?"

       Kendra didn't answer.

       "Sure are strange birds," he said softly. "I remember sea

gulls when I grew up in Chicago," he said, and realized that he

just dredged up his long forgotten childhood disaster. "My mom

divorced Dad after I turned twelve. There were a lot of new

daddies after that. None treated us nice. As for my real dad, he

remarried and moved to Las Vegas. He sold aluminum siding and

promised to send for me."

       His voice cracked from the angry memories. "Dad's new wife

didn't like me and I didn't like her either. It was trouble from

the beginning. Still, Dad announced whenever we were alone, that

I am the best little guy in the whole world. I felt safe with

him.

       "When Mom died, a drug overdose I was told, I went to live

with Aunt Margaret. She had her own troubles, and prayed for Dad
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     47

to call, but he never did. When the time came, Aunt Margaret put

me on a bus to Las Vegas, a letter pinned to my shirt. The trip

terrified me, but Dad was waiting. He hugged me and swung me high

above his head. I remember him saying, 'I am the best little guy

in the whole wide world.' I felt great. No one would throw me

away again. I never took my arms from his neck, even as we drove

away.

    "We arrived at a huge house. Sea gulls flew around a

steeple, just like in San Diego. He dropped me off with some nuns

and told me that he'd be back.

    "They led me into a room full of sleeping kids. After

showing me a bed to sleep in they left. I looked out a window

toward the gate. It was raining, and I couldn't stop crying. That

was the last time I saw my American dad, the red taillights of

his car vanished as he drove out the gate. He never came back."

    He looked up at the seagulls. Eyes filled with tears. He

managed to hide his face from her. "I hate liars." He stared at

the birds and felt the same disgust." He brushed away the tears

flowing down his cheek. "I hate liars and I hate those birds. I

hate them both with a passion."

    His face turned hard as he flicked his eyes toward her. "I

have to admit something to you." His throat constricted as he was

about to reveal things long hidden. "I'm not who you think I am.

My name is really Sean Mickey O‘ Siennase.‖ He gulped as the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     48

sound of speaking his given name. ―I was born in Derry, Ireland."

He wanted to stop himself but everything just bubbled out of him.

He couldn't help himself. It also couldn't help anyone by

revealing his buried past. Relief swept over him when he noticed

she hadn't heard a word he said.

    Not knowing what else to do he fumbled for something to

console her. "You know I haven't cried since my best friend at

the orphanage drowned in an irrigation canal. He was a nobody.

Just like me."

    He toughened himself. "While I live, someone does remember.

I remember."

    Pete fought back the suppressed pain of his youth and felt

stupid over even talking about his early life. Frustrated, he

cleared his throat and gave her a hug. "Everything's going to be

alright. I'm here with you."

                                *   *   *

    "There's the trail." Gamnel Agsaa pointed to the jeep

tracks, which led to the top of Mount Nebo. "The archaeological

camp is just below the hill."

    Rushad slowed the car to a stop, but it didn't help. A white

cloud of fine Jordanian dust enveloped the car and everyone

inside.

    Gamnel and his team had used this trail a month earlier when

they planted the golden box. In the back seat, Serhan struggled
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     49

to keep the weapons clean and covered.

    "The ravine is a kilometer away," Gamnel said while brushing

the dust from the arms of his black shirt. His brown face and

curly black hair retained their white dusting. "It is on the

left. Drive slow. Do not miss the spot. After the storm tonight,

we will complete our mission and feed the earth with fresh

blood."

    The car moved forward until the ravine appeared. He pointed.

    "Turn here," Gamnel commanded. "Drive slowly. We shall find

two large boulders with small rocks sitting on them. Our

Jordanian contact will be waiting there, and our orders will be

under one of the boulders. After planting that cursed box, let's

see what is next."

    Two hundred meters up, Gamnel saw the boulders.

    "Stop here," he ordered. Beads of perspiration on his face

evaporated as quickly as they formed. "Next time we steal a car,

make sure the air-conditioner works."

    The men left the car, flapped their shirts to cool their

bodies and stood next to the boulders. Gamnel shoved the left one

away as Rushad and Serhan cleared away the other.

    "Search. Dig. Find It."

    Gamnel pulled out a waterproof package hidden under his
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     50

bolder.

    "Here it is," he said and opened it.

    He passed the first photograph to Rushad. "This is our

primary target. A pretty girl - no?" He passed along another

photo. "This is what the Director looks like.‖

    Everyone studied the photographs – a young lady and a

grizzled old man.

    Serhan asked the question everyone thought. "I wonder what

they did to receive a death sentence."

    Gamnel looked at the car. "Let's get it covered."

    He walked to the back, lifted the trunk lid and pulled out

camouflage netting. "Hand me those pictures again. Our orders are

very specific. She is our primary target. Whatever she did

doesn't mean anything. After we kill her, we kill the man and

anyone else we care to use a bullet on." He passed the orders

around for his men to read. Then he burnt the paper.

    "Intelligence from the Jordanian Institute of Antiquities

indicates they may succeed in finding the ancient Jewish Ark of

the Covenant."

    Gamnel wondered why they were ordered to plant a

representation of the ark. He read on. "Intelligence rates this

girl's vision very high. Her powers to see visions, particularly
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     51

this discovery, will pose a serious danger to Islam." A fake, he

thought. We planted a fake. They are to find the fake.

    "While in Damascus intelligence briefed me on the growing

Jewish political pressure to rebuild a temple. They are convinced

that if the real ark is discovered, it will upset the political

and military balance in the region. Even the land gained at Oslo

will be lost. I pray to Allah that this deception discredits

these temple fanatics."

    Rushad handed the orders to Serhan and said, "Our people

will someday discover that the very existence of our holy El Aqsa

mosque, Dome of the Rock, rests on our shoulders. No Jew temple

will ever desecrate the mountain."

    Serhan cooled Rushad's anger with, "Our orders are simple.

Eliminate the girl who sees visions, and kill the camp's leader."

He handed the orders back to Gamnel. "We will not fail."

    After camouflaging the car, Gamnel led the team around the

mountain. Each man moved from bush to bush with an eye for any

observers. On the top of the mountain a television tower sat

surrounded by a fence. Two Jordanian soldiers, stationed at the

tower, may be sleeping, but he dare not take that chance.

    Below the hill that capped the mountain, and the road that

traveled to the top, they‘d find the camp. Three soldiers

assigned to work with the archaeologist placed their tent closest
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     52

to the road. Gamnel‘s planners laid out a path that threaded its

way between both groups.

    The camp came into view and he ordered his men to hide

within a large clump of bushes. With the sparse flowers and semi-

arid terrain, even a casual observer would pick out their

movement. Now, concealed from view, Gamnel and his team scanned

the camp with binoculars.

    "We wait!" Gamnel demanded. He saw Rushad beginning to crawl

toward another bush. "Stay there. We do not want to attract

attention. We'll wait for our contact from Maddaba."

    Gamnel took in the details of the camp. "No guards," he

said. He knew a look of satisfaction filled his face. "They do

not suspect." He scanned the mountain above him. The base of the

tower and the soldier‘s hut sat beyond their view. If we cannot

see them, they cannot see us. This is a good spot. We wait for

the signal. Soon we and Allah will bring the evening storm."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     53




    Chapter 4

    Colonel General Nicoli Vorshkov's plane landed at the

sprawling Hakaba military airfield, two hundred kilometers north

of Damascus. A late afternoon thunderstorm unleashed its fury as

the aircraft rolled up to a guarded hanger. "An omen," he said to

no one in particular as he looked at the dark gray skies. "An

omen of what I am about to unleash."

    His thoughts turned to the invasion rehearsals being

conducted east of Ash Shaddadah. He looked east, but a dark storm

prevented the distant hills from being seen. Behind those hills

lay the reproduced UN controlled Golan buffer zone.

    He entered the darkened waiting car as a Syrian officer
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     54

handed him a report on the exercise.

    He read the report of one-hundred thousand troops composed

of division size detachments from Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Libya, a

fragmented rebuilt southern Iraq, ten thousand Russian advisers,

and thirty thousand volunteers from every Moslem state of the

Russian confederacy. He needed to see the results of the unified

command and control. He also knew American satellites studied

every result of the exercise.

    Little did the Amerikans realize that the confusion they saw

via satellite was a major test of the command and controls needed

to insure Russian success.

    The Amerikans and their Israeli friends would never realize

that the troops they watched will soon form the core of a massive

invasion. Besides, with yesterday's death of the latest Catholic

Pope, the world is riveted on a seeing white or black smoke rise

from a Vatican chimney. Pope Benedict may not have reigned long,

but for General Vorshkov, Benedict's death produced an omen for

success. His death could not have been at a more opportune time.

The more diversions the world took notice of, the better it will

be for the forces he was massing. Stealth and secrecy are two

more names for success.

    Good command and control also spelled success. Without it

his forces stood little chance of defeating the Israelis. Control
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     55

is the key. With it, or the lack of it, the war will be won or

lost. He'd allow no repeat of the 1973 Al-Owda plan. That

invasion was well conceived and executed. Arab expectations of

failure, along with an ingrained distrust among the sons of

Ishmael, took its toll. As a result the Yom Kippur War turned

into a disaster for the Moslems.

    To turn the tide on this invasion, the Iranian government

offered the use of twenty nuclear tipped missiles. Vorshkov

didn't know where they got twenty. Only six month ago, they mated

all the parts to make their first warhead. A month earlier they

exploded a weak device deep inside a northern mountain.

    Either way to prevent a nightmare from occurring, and his

planned war from spinning out of control, his government, under

the direct control of President Dimitri Shaposdev, authorized the

use of major Russian forces. Behind the scenes, he knew that old

bear, Dimitri, was still directing the moves.

    Ninety thousand Russian airborne had been authorized for

this campaign. Three brigades of Spetnez commandos, and a hundred

clean, small, nuclear warheads carried by cruise missiles will

guarantee victory and satisfy the Iranian demands.

    Vorshkov closed his eyes and thought for a minute. His

earlier orders to secure a transportation route to Iran from

Groznyy to the Iranian border met with success. These diversions
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     56

for international consumption easily mask the military shipments

to Tehran. If all went well with the war, the break-away republic

of Georgia will slowly cease to exist. The mighty Caucasus

belongs to Russia and will always be Russian.

    To allow for the survival of the regimes in Iran and Syria,

Vorshkov's plan permitted selected national divisions be held

back for the protection of heads of state. Iraq will be forgiven

because of the small American presence and the construction of a

new United Nations Headquarters close to the Babylon tourist

center. Since most of the American forces have returned home,

though one regiment has relocated to Jordan, the southern section

of Iraq will be usable for the massive convoys from Iran.

    After the 2003 war and the change of regimes came another

terrorist attack over New York City. This time a deadly chemical

bomb contaminated the U.N. environment and a dozen blocks around.

Fourteen thousand people were killed from that attack, many

worked at the United Nations building. The U.N. takes its

personal security very high. Threatened with more deadly attacks,

and unable to protect themselves, they temporarily moved to

Switzerland. The headquarters will eventually move to Iraq.

    Vorshkov opened his briefcase. The photograph of the pretty

girl wearing khaki walking shorts, a shirt with out sleeves,

white socks, and well worn hiking boot gave him a moment of

passing sadness. She'll become just another casualty within the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     57

confines of a major war. At the same time she might also be the

key to his failure.

    "Another time, another life, another place, you might have

been my daughter." He paused to consider his decision to kill

her. "Sorry Kendra, in this life and in this time of history, you

are too dangerous to live. You must die."

    The car entered the Abella medical supply factory. A series

of short, dark-brown hills appeared. The car wound its way

between them. The smell of ammonia from mountains of decaying

manure stung his nose. Just like the Syrians to place a major

installation underneath a manure pile.

    The asphalt road led his motorcade between two abandoned

manufacturing buildings and into a fire-gutted warehouse. They

stopped under an awning, which extended to keep him dry from the

storm.

    Syrian security ushered him into a stainless steel lined

elevator, which slanted away from the entrance. His aide carried

two sealed boxes of computer disks. As the elevator doors closed,

he caught sight of the awning being retracted. American

intelligence satellites never located the rumored underground

facilities.

    Thirty meters beneath the surface and hundreds of meters

away from the entrance, away from the dilapidated warehouse, lay
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     58

the heart of a multi-layered command center. He hurried to a

lavish conference room. Entered the well-lit room and nodded to

the men sitting around the circular conference table.

    His aid followed and sat the sealed boxes, containing the

computer disk holding the detailed invasion plans, along with

every conceivable contingency on the table and separated the

contents.

    General Vorshkov greeted the Syrian and Iranian generals. He

sat down. Opening his brief case the General handed folders to

four men: General Laban, Syrian Chief of Staff; General Hiakeim,

Chief of Intelligence; General Mustafo, the nation's Minister of

Special Action, and finally to General Darus, Chief of Iranian

Black Operations, who also had control over the Iranian missile

field east of Damascus. That field located within the 1300 meter

Abu Rujmayn mountain range held seven mobile Shehab missile

launchers. Each had been fitted with a nuclear warhead. To

Vorshkov, General Darus may be the most dangerous of the five.

    As each man opened his respective folder, they found a

glossy 20 x 25-centimeter picture of Kendra Makray. Below that

photograph lay the picture of an older man.

    General Mustafo spoke first. "I see no reason why we should

deny your request. The golden replica of the Ark of the Covenant

has been planted as you instructed. The dig has just resumed
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     59

after being stopped for 90 days. Our team planted it during that

time. It now waits to be discovered. Our planners have also made

the necessary arraignments to complete your second phase. It will

be a small thing to kill this woman and the camp director."

    Vorshkov noticed how Mustafo studied the full-length

snapshot of Kendra. "Pretty girl," Vorshkov announced as he

smiled at Mustafo's lust.

    General Mustafo re-read the dossier. "It is possible you may

be right about this girl. She could be the key to the Jew dogs

gaining limitless power. We have a team in place for such a

contingency. They can carry out this mission whenever you wish.

This Doctor Huntington, does he know of the plans to plant the

box?"

    Vorshkov smiled at the use of the word box. "Yes and no,"

Vorshkov replied. "The dig's benefactor suggested the idea to

him. One of my agents has supplied a financial stimulant. Doctor

Huntington first protested, but lacking funding to continue the

excavation changed his mind. The good doctor still believes the

cave is the resting place of his precious Ark, but if success is

out of his grasp he will be led to the imitation."

    Vorshkov used the formal name of the ark and watched the

irritation it produced in the general's body language. He enjoyed

watching the slight squirm they found so hard to control. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     60

thought about their perpetual conflict with the Israelis. Syria

still considered Israel to be lower Syria. Beginning with the

United Nations incident in 1948, the war that followed and

created the state of Israel, is recognized in the Arab world as a

catastrophe. Now this current battle, beginning in 2006, is going

nowhere. The Hezbollah lost too much Lebanese ground and the

Israelis have kicked their butts. They've even lost support with

a number of Arab nations. Their so called "War-To-The-Knife" is

at an impasse. The Iranian and Syrians need a final solution to

the state of Israel, but they are incapable of having the

patience to get it done. Now he has to keep the two nations from

doing something stupid – like getting Russia directly evolved.

Unfortunately Russia was being drawn into this war whether he

liked it or not. Burying the Ark and discrediting the Israeli

nation is one little nibble that might produce a political

solution. Yet every time a path has been created for them, the

Arabs screw it up. This war looked inevitable.

     "As you will read in my report," continued Vorshkov as he

went back to the business of the meeting. "We can have the

director killed. The ark is already buried in his cave. Someone

else can discover it. We have determined that this Doctor

Huntington has too much character to be trusted. Killing him and

Kendra will end this nonsense once and for all. But that creates

a problem for us. It may take years before the ark is discovered.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     61

We need to have this discovered this year. Once it is determined

to be a fake, we will have knocked them down a peg. A forensic

examination of the box will discredit any further searches.

Israel may be a little more demoralized. The world will be

disgusted, and just maybe we will move a little closer to your

dream of eradicating that nation from your land."

    "You never cease to amaze me, Comrade Vorshkov," added

General Mustafo. "Your planning is a credit to your nation. But

even in the simplest of operations, there are elements of danger.

The unknown may surface and ruin the best of planning. We cannot

let that happen. My people need something faster. They need the

destruction of Israel now."

    "Patience," Vorshkov said. "You will get everything you

want. Just be patient." He saw where this meeting was going. They

wanted the Russian government to commit a larger military force

to this coming hot war. He decided to give them something so to

change the discussion in the meeting. It wouldn't be something

outrageous. Maybe something the Syrians couldn't buy on the open

market. "Maybe I can get my government to make a little

concession." He saw the look in their eyes. They were taking the

bait.

    General Hiakeim smiled. "Could the Russian High Command

provide a few items? Then we can proceed to the team we have at
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     62

Mount Nebo."

    Vorshkov feigned a stern look and then said. "Yes, of

course, Comrade," he answered and felt like shooting the minister

for wasting his time. He‘d known for some time that they wouldn't

turn down his request.

    Vorshkov looked at the fleshiness of the generals seated

before him and compared himself. I'm fifty-eight and physically

fit, and this guy becoming a pig.

    He felt a contented smile of self satisfaction develop

within him but suppressed it and went back to the report. "Let's

revisit page three."

    The change in subject made the four generals squirm.

Everyone knew something extra had to be given.

    "As a precursor," Vorshkov continued. "Let me explain what I

have learned. My planning and tactical executions in Afghanistan

were brilliant. My direction of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

proved successful. My goal to transfer to the Supreme Russian

council two billion Amerikan dollars worth of confiscated wealth

went as scheduled. For a time, even Amerikan prestige suffered.

As you know Amerikan intervention drove us out. The invasion of

Kuwait collapsed again because of Amerikan intervention. As for

Iraq, the American forces stationed there will soon be gone.

    "As you will recognize," Vorshkov continued. "I have studied
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     63

the hourly accounts of the Iraqi-Kuwait situation. During my

research, I discovered some puzzling occurrences. The first

abnormality began with the winds. As the Americans marshaled

their forces, the wind blew to the south, giving us the perfect

condition for chemical warfare. The day before the Amerikans

attacked, the winds changed direction, increased in ferocity, and

uncovered hundreds of thousands of our land mines. Nature

prevented us from using biological and chemical weapons. After

the Amerikan ground forces attacked the Iraqis, the winds

reverted back to their normal flow.

    "My defensive plans called for the Kuwait oil fields to be

set ablaze and the greasy soot to blind the Amerikan tanks.

Instead the winds shifted again and blew the greasy smoke into

our own tanks, rendering our laser sights useless.

    "As a final insult, a report arrived at my desk telling of

five Iraqi tank commanders surrounding an Amerikan Abrams M1

tank. The M1, stuck in soft sand, would have been an easy kill.

Still, the Iraqi commanders surrendered without one bullet being

expended. This was the first war. The second one, the one that

brought down the government, was even worse. Iraqi's appeared out

of nowhere, speaking perfect English, and directed the Amerikans

to government strongholds."

    "We know all about that," said General Laban. "We do not

accept cowerdance from our soldiers."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     64

    "Yes, but you may not know that these Iraqis, the one who

led Amerikan troop to the right locations, also vanished into

thin air. Over and over," Vorshkov continued. Dozen of reports

describing stranger incidents came to my attention." He snarled

his distaste of what had now become a historical footnote. "It is

no wonder the Amerikans won the war. Instead of the disaster they

deserved, the Amerikans received two great victories.

    "I correlated intelligence reports that detailed Amerikan

religious leaders' prophetic utterances. It is possible that the

Amerikans won by supernatural interference. I have never

considered myself a religious person, but the forces, gods,

whatever you calls them, all aligned against Iraq.

     "Now," he continued, "lying in front of you, is my report

concerning an attractive Amerikan girl. She too sees visions," he

sneered. "Her vision, if it is fulfilled, will turn the Middle

East balance of power to Israel's side. We must stop her. She is

the key to the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. That is why

I delivered to you a beautiful and very expensive copy of what

the Ark is thought to look like. I am pleased you have already

planted it in the cave. We must stop this woman before she

succeeds. We must dicredit this group of archeaologist."

    General Mustafo cleared his throat. "Let us remove this

woman, this obstacle for you. I have read your advance report. We

have two three-man teams prepared to execute the last phase of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    65

your request," he said excitedly. "The primary team, as your

intelligence already knows, is in position. Its leader is very

capable and his unit is experienced."

    The minister turned toward the Syrian Chief of Staff,

General Laban, and received the nod he expected. "Bring me the

file on Gamnel Abu Agsaa," Mustafo ordered. "The second team will

soon infiltrate Jordan via truck traffic. They will guarantee the

kill with their lives."

    General Vorshkov nodded approvingly. He looked at the three

Syrian Generals. "Your understanding and concern for this project

is exemplary. I shall not forget." For a moment he understood

Colonel Nimeiri's hatred of the black Christian tribes in his

country. The potential of untapped oil wealth in the southern

region may or may not be real, but the fear of a religion that

contradicted Islam breeds a hatred that is runs deep. Now this is

something he never envisioned, fighting against a girl whose

religion, faith, and vision the Moslem hierarchy feared. If what

she see comes true, it may very well destroy Islam. It might even

change the world, forever.

    Vorshkov looked at the men seated around the table. They

were like little boys frightened by their inadequacies and an

uncertain future.

    "Here are some personal items we require," said General
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     66

Hiakeim. He handed the list to General Vorshkov. "These will

prove effective in our world wide struggle to silence all

traitors."

    Vorshkov looked over the list. "You are requesting two

thousand of our latest remote listening devices and fifty cases

of +P pen bombs. Those pens have the explosive equivalent of

three sticks of dynamite. And you want the current communication

codes used by the Israelis on the Mount Hermon intelligence

post."

    Vorshkov drew a line through the pen bombs and wrote twenty

cases. "If that is acceptable?" he asked. "As for the rest, I

think we can supply most of it."

    General Hiakeim glanced at his Chief of Staff. "It is

acceptable."

    Vorshkov reached over to shake hands. "Everything we have

agreed upon will be here by the end of the day. I read a copy of

your request last week."

    Everyone at the table broke into laughter.

    "Do you have anything else?" Vorshkov said.

    No one answered.

    "Then I wish you well my friends," said Vorshkov. "Make this

mission a success, and I shall see that you are rewarded. Send
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     67

your signal. Tell them also to be aware that one of the members

in the archeological team may be working in American Military

Intelligence."

    "Who is this person?" Asked General Laban.

    Vorshkov shoved over a picture. "His name is Peter Meirs.

Our files tell of him being a Marine sniper/spotter. He entered

Military Intelligence. The KGB almost had him until the Soviet

Union fell apart in 1991. He may be very dangerous."

    "We will watch out for him. The men we have sent are also

very good and surprise is on our side. He will be no problem.

Now, let's have something to drink."

    "As a contingency," Vorshkov added as he stood up, "I have

ordered in a very efficient Spetnez unit from Amerika. They have

been used to remove obstacles from the path of our strategic

policies. Two have been ordered to Israel for a short vacation.

They will act as backup. If Gamnel succeeds, my team will get a

tan and return to Amerika. I know you Syrians are very good at

what you do. My team will add an extra layer of success."

    General Vorshkov Studied the Syrian General's for a moment.

"I have asked that our Iranian friends send a representative to

this meeting. As you know, I have been planning a very special

military operation. If it is required and I am so ordered it will

disassemble the nation of Israel."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     68

    Vorshkov held up his hand to still the unrest building in

the Syrian Generals. "Let me finish. Better yet, I believe it is

better that I let the Iranian delegate tell why he has been

invited. What he has to say will fill your souls with delight.

But first I must ask that what we say must not leave this room. I

must request that all our aids leave the room. Only we five will

remain."

    After a moment of confusion the military aid to each general

left the room. Once the doors were closed General Vorshkov

motioned to General Darus to present his plan. Energized by what

they heard, the Generals who had thought the meeting was ended

listened in amazement and delight.

    "In conclusion," General Darus said. My nation and the North

Koreans have specially developed these warheads. The cargo ships

are already at sea. When the time is right they will both steam

toward the American coasts. One will approach the West Coast, off

of the Los Angeles area. The other freighter will go to a point

off of New York City. From a position of about 400 Kilometers

east of the city they will raise the short-range missiles they

carry. They will then begin a coordinated firing sequence. When

launched, the rockets will speed to an altitude two hundred

kilometers above the earth. They will then detonate there nuclear

payloads. The resulting Electromagnetic Pulse will blanket most

of the cities along the coastal area. The affect will effectively
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     69

destroy the American economy. To prevent any trace of the

freighters being found the captain will scuttle the ship. A

passing Saudi owned freighter, maybe ten kilometers away, will

pick them up and steam back to friendly territory. In the event

that this is not possible, all in the water will sacrifice their

lives for the sake of Allah."

    General Vorshkov interrupted for a moment. "What General

Darus is presenting is the effective removal of the Amerikan

nation from the world scene. The result of those two detonations

will plunge that nation back to horse and buggies. Tens of

millions will starve to death. Millions more will die from the

lack of medical care. The Great Satan will have its knees cut

off. Though they will look for the perpetrators, no hard evidence

will be found. In event that they discover who executed this

deed, booth nations have accepted the possibility that a few

Amerikan nuclear weapons might fall upon their great nations.

They both have accepted the risk."

    General Vorshkov watched the Syrian Generals surround the

Iranian asking for more details. Contented with what will soon

take place, he sat back and poured himself a cup of English Tea.

                         *      *    *

    Gamnel looked at the setting sun. "We'll wait until it is

down. The man we wait for is not coming. We will deal with him

later." Gamnel motioned for his men to get ready. Dressed in dust
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     70

covered dark fatigues, with a black headdress draped across his

face, the leader of Allah El Whid (The Soldiers of God) waited.

    "When it is dark, we must crawl across the road and into

camp. It is possible that the soldiers above and below have night

vision devices. We must move slowly, yet stay on schedule."

    He studied the camp, looking for the military tent and

located the three guards. They sat around a man who lay on the

ground with his hands tied behind his back. "I think I we have

found our man from Maddaba." Gamnel pointed toward the tent and

the guards.

    Satisfied with what he found, he then focused his

observations onto the line of archeologists climbing the trail

from the cave.

    "Infidel pigs," Gamnel snarled. "Three kilometers to go.

Soon we will cleanse our land of all who profane the name of

Mohammed." He scanned the top of the mountain and found the stone

marker. "The monument! I see it."

    Serhan and Rushad turned to see what Gamnel saw.

    Gamnel explained his discovery. "A copy of the serpent's

staff made by the prophet Moses sits high on the hill. Seeing the

monument is a good omen."

    He looked into the sky to reaffirm his righteousness. "At

that spot," he pointed to the monument, "the prophet is said to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     71

have looked across the river, and Allah gave him all he saw. Then

the Israelis turned their back on the one true God. We have been

trying to cleanse the land ever since. Legend says that after

Moses died, God buried him at the base of this mountain. It may

even be in the cave these infidels desecrate with their digging."

    The sound of Rushad murmuring curses comforted Gamnel. "This

mountain belongs to Moses." Gamnel spit the next words with

venom. "It is why these infidels have come to our land," he

sneered, more for Rushad and Serhan's pleasure, than for himself.

"They believe the cave holds a Jewish treasure."

    He liked building their excitement for the killing that

would follow. "Our people have been fighting these dogs for three

thousand years, and we will be fighting them until the end of

time. No peace treaty will ever erase that."

    He studied Rushad and Serhan and formulated a plan of

attack. "Tonight, if we are ordered to attack, we must be swift,

silent and deadly. We will dip our hands in their blood. Each one

we kill will help satisfy the souls of those who cry from their

graves for justice."

    Gamnel watched Rushad break into a wide broken tooth grin.

Serhan kissed the knife blade he held in his hand and nodded his

approval. The eyes of his men sparkled with excitement.

     He closed his own eyes for a moment and thought of this
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     72

assignment. "I've lost count of the missions deemed critical. But

this one, I rate as the most important. This operation pits the

very soul of Islam against Judaism. The holy men teach that Allah

is greater than the God of the Jews. Someday we will destroy

Jerusalem and prove Allah is greater. He is finished with giving

the Jews time to understand. Mohammed is the final prophet and

Islam will sweep the world. If the archaeologists succeed, it

will say to the world that Allah is not finished with the Jews,

that they have a legitimate claim to this land, and our teachers

are wrong."

    Gamnel opened his eyes and squirmed with the irritating

thought that Islam was in error. "No!" he muttered through

clenched teeth. "That will never be. The Jews will never have

their day. Islam is the wave of the future. Our mission is right.

It is God ordained. We must succeed. And we will all come home

safely. I, Gamnel Abu Agsaa, will not fail. I do not lose men on

missions. I did not lead them from Damascus, through the desert

to Amman, then to Maddaba, steal a car, and bring them to this

mountain to fail. Because of the righteousness of our cause, we

will be more than conquerors."

    Serhan watched Gamnel's moving lips. "Fighting with

yourself, Gamnel?" Serhan laughed and shot a glance toward

Rushad.

    "I am fighting with Satan," Gamnel shot back. "He wants your
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    73

pig soul. I will not let him have it. I have fought and I have

won."

    To his left, fifteen kilometers away, three kilometers below

him, Gamnel stared at the salty waters of the Dead Sea. Across

the winding Jordan River, and hidden by wind-driven dust, the

town of Jericho lay twenty-five kilometers to the West.

Irrigation from the Jordan turned the valley into a green jewel.

All he saw belonged to his people. His home, then his nation all

were stolen first by the Jew dogs and then later by the

Palestinian Authority.

    Gamnel pointed at the route they would crawl. "From that

outcrop, we must cross a shallow ravine. We will do it under

cover of darkness. This will be very dangerous as it has many

loose stones." He looked up into the sky and gave a silent

prayer.

    "Do not dislodge any rocks. The clatter will alert the

camp."

    Gamnel looked at the thunderstorm brewing. "It is good that

it is still the rainy season. This evening's storm will help

cover our approach. Is it not Allah's will that we have such a

powerful ally?" Gamnel's smile turned into a frown. "It will not

be good to leave tracks in the wet soil, but it won't matter."

    Serhan pointed down the hill. "Look," he whispered. "Don't
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     74

move. There are two of them."

    Gamnel's heartbeat raced and a nervous flush brought sweat

on his brow. The he spied the two Ibex goats. Long curving horns

sparkled as they ran in front of the terrorist. Gamnel relaxed

and let the tension evaporate.

    "I haven't seen those for years," Gamnel remarked. "Our

people tried to protect the Ibex, but the western intruders

hunted them almost to extinction." He tucked his black Kaffiyeh

around his face until only his eyes were visible.

    Above, the sky became dark indigo. Farther east it turned

purple. Soon the darkness he needed will arrive. In the distance

Bedouins already lit their kerosene lamps. He suspected they sat

eating their evening meals. In his mind he saw a large plate of

Misshi Malfuf.

    The image of rice and ground lamb steaming under a covering

of cabbage brought saliva flowing. As a weak substitute, he

reached for his canteen of warm water and a candy bar. After

swallowing a shallow drink, he stared at the Israeli side of the

river and spit.

    A vibration inside his shirt pocket caught his attention. He

pulled out the compact communicator. A code became visible on the

liquid crystal display. "The mission is a go," he said with

satisfaction. He looked at the mountains on the western side of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    75

the valley. "The evening storm is growing. The clouds are moving

in our direction. We'll wait for the sound of thunder. Then we

move. Rest. Dream of victory. I'll keep watch."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     76




    Chapter 5

    Gamnel watched the bright crescent moon flowing through a

sea of black then disappear behind churning clouds. He thought of

the symbol of his god, Allah. The bright star to the right

reminded him of the angel that brought the Koran to the prophet

Mohammed. This was a good omen. The prophet and the angel are

above him, covering him with their power.

    He also kept a wary eye on the storm moving toward the

mountain. A loud clap of thunder shook him awake, and he felt the

sting of sand against his face. The storm came closer. He must

have slipped off to sleep. This was unacceptable.

    He glanced at his watch and Rushad and Serhan. Feeling

secure they hadn't caught him napping, he thought about letting

them rest. They need to stay sharp. They seem to be able to sleep

through anything.

    He reconsidered, and tossed stones in their direction. When

they looked up, he gave a paternal smile. "How do you two sleep
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     77

in this stuff? The storm is moving closer." He pointed to the

approaching clouds that rumbled with magnificent power. Lightning

danced between two clouds, and he counted.

    "Twenty-five seconds. The storm is on our side of the

valley, seven or eight kilometers away. Try to stay dry."

    The nearest cloud glowed pale gray as lightning flashed. He

looked and then looked again. There was something about the way

the clouds looked.

    He studied the boiling formation and caught sight of a

hideous floating face. He turned away laughing at the way the

cloud formed before closing his eyes. Still the sight nagged him.

He looked again. Another flash lit the cloud and he looked with

shock as two hideous dark spots appeared as eyes. Below, a gaping

fanged mouth hung open. He stared in disbelief when another flash

made the dark eyes glow yellow.

    A cord of fear stabbed his soul as he remembered his

recurring nightmare of a demon coming closer. He fought through

the haunting dream and tried to concentrate on the attack.

    Still, he couldn't shake the feeling of the presence of

evil. He'd seen this enemy of Allah a thousand times. It always

ended the same way. An angel from Allah carried a glowing sword

and handed it to him. Then the dream ended. Yet the nightmares

never stopped. Over and over, since childhood, he replayed this

battle between good and evil. Always he was victorious. Yet he
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     78

feared that someday his luck might run out.

    "It's just a storm," he growled as he turned to his team.

    "Let's get to shelter," he commanded gruffly. Without

waiting for a reply, he headed down the hill to an outcrop. His

left hand carried the Ak-47. The other reached out to maintain

his balance.

    A flash lit the ground and he caught sight of his

shirtsleeves covered in mud. It made him feel good to be

invisible. "I'm one with the earth," he said. The sight

reinforced the righteousness of the mission. Looking back at the

trailing Rushad and Serhan, he smiled. "Soon," he grinned. "In a

few hours, my brothers, we will complete our mission and be going

home."

    They reached the outcrop. The white rock looked to be eight

meters in length and two meters high. Deep water-cut channels ran

past each side. A few hardy bushes and a scattering of short

stemmed flowers grew at the base.

    The deluge of rain, once the storm swept up the mountain,

will turn every gully on the mountain into a raging torrent. He

planned not to be in the rushing water. The rock outcrop will

protect them from the water and the lightning strikes.

    He searched for the camp, but it had disappeared behind an

advancing wall of water. "This is going to be fierce," he

grumbled and prepared for the onslaught.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    79

    Eyes! Gamnel saw them again. This time the cloud holding

them seemed closer. The eyes appeared cold, bloodless, and a pale

gray. The mouth changed before his eye revealing what looked like

two long fangs. He dug his heels into the dirt and pushed closer

to a bush. "Cursed nightmare," he snarled. "Am I still asleep?

Never have I seen this while awake."

    Then the face formed a snake-like forked tongue. As he

watched, it turned blue. A truncated crack filled the air. A pale

blue-white light blinked around him. For a short instant he

caught sight of a lightning bolt striking a few meters away.

    He looked up and saw yellow eyes staring at him. "This is a

dream," he yelled and slapped his face to create pain. A short

plant next to him appeared to turn black when another bolt of

lightning turned the ground pale white. The air chilled his soul.

    Despite the cold he felt sweat rolling down his chest. His

heart pounded. He wiped a hand across his face. As the grotesque

evil approached the mountain, he felt trapped.

    Jaws clenched tight, he looked up. Something long and gray

reached for him. In his nightmares, a scrawny bone-like finger

pointed toward him.

    He glanced at his two friends. They sat with their heads

tucked into their rain covers. A swirl of bluish mist coiled

around them and drifted away. He looked into the cloud above his

head.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    80

    "This has to be my imagination," he growled. "This is not

real." As he looked, a bony finger came close enough to touch - a

touch that in his nightmares brought excruciating pain. At the

height of his pain, there came blackness and death.

    A bolt of lightning struck close. The blast boomed against

the mountain and shook the earth.

    The air seemed filled with supersonic explosions and the

rumbling from unseen gods. In the pale light he saw the finger

move closer, about to touch. His feet pushed him into the outcrop

until his back rebelled in pain. He wanted to run, but where?

    Unconsciously, he went into a fetal position and sobbed in

terror. He fought this battle a hundred times, yet he still

couldn't control himself. The demon taunted him.

    Closing his eyes, he longed for his mother and the comfort

of his childhood bed. He also wanted his father, and the security

of the farm. Only he survived.

    "No!" He screamed through clenched teeth with a fighting

will to live. He kicked at the ground and uncoiled. "You will not

have me. I'll fight you." He felt his eyes ablaze with defiance.

    He grabbed his knife. Everything within him wanted to kill.

"You'll pay," he screamed and hurled off his poncho. "You'll all

pay. I'll kill you all." He snarled, then felt his voice calm,

thankful that the storm covered his outburst. A quiet

determination settled upon him. "I will not die until my
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     81

vengeance is complete. I will kill all who destroy."

    He looked into the yellow eyes. "Attack! Demon dog," he

yelled then whispered. "Do what you must. Attack! You won't take

me without a fight." The hideous face rolled back its head and

laughed. Gamnel's hand reached for the handle of his survival

knife. "I fight for Allah," he growled. "You will not succeed."

    He slashed the air in front of him, the twenty-centimeter

blade pointing at the finger. Jumping to his feet he ignored the

rain stinging his face. His arms steeled for mortal combat. As he

looked into the face of death, his stainless steel blade turned

iridescent blue.

    He saw it coming. Two lightning bolts exploded at the same

time. One hit above his head. Rock chips peppered his back. The

second hit in front of his feet. A tingling sensation flowed

through his body.

    In front of the demon, the ghost-like figure of a man

appeared. The sight thrilled him and lifted his spirit. The man

is an angel from Allah. The man also held a glowing sword. The

angel turned and handed the sword to him. "The angel of Allah,"

Gamnel yelled and bowed with his face in the mud.

    A voice spoke to his mind and Gamnel knew there was no time

to waste.

    In a blaze of movement, he shifted the knife to his left and

grabbed the handle of the sword with his right. The demon lifted
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     82

him from the ground.

    Gamnel swung the sword, desperation fueling his swings. Then

he fell to the ground. The demonic face laughed. Gamnel‘s mind

went blank as a blinding white light removed all thought.

    The electricity from 100,000,000 volts of lightning spread

around him and vanished into the soil. He rolled against the

outcrop, dazed and wondering if he was still alive.

    When his eyes cleared, he focused on the knife in his left

hand. The blue glow was gone as well as the tip. The demon eyes

taunting him vanished. Only the boiling clouds of the storm and

wind-driven rain remained.

    "Whoever you are, I've beaten you. With the Sword of Allah,

I’ve beaten you. Allah is greater."

    He wiggled his toes to see if they still moved. Satisfied,

he yelled, "I've conquered you. You‘re just my imagination. Now

you‘re nothing but a storm. You can not kill me."

    Rotating his neck, he felt pleased that everything seemed to

be working. He reached for his poncho and stretched his legs.

Wrapping the rain gear around him, he felt at peace as he looked

into the sheets of rain. Even the brilliant flashes of pale light

held no threat to him.

    Mission planners deemed a storm useful for his success. Now

his mind turned to the task ahead. The guards will be drinking

hot coffee and talking among themselves.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     83

    This was just like his last mission. That one took place in

the mountains of Ararat. He and his team once crossed the

northeastern Turkish frontier. Their mission and target was a

kidnapped Iranian counter-intelligence operative. His team

approached the interrogation team under the cover of a fierce

winter storm.

    After a quick firefight, most of the Turkish soldiers died.

He also found they arrived too late to save the operative. As

retribution he had stripped the surviving Turks and burned their

winter clothing.

    As he led the team home, he smiled at the thought of those

left behind freezing to death. That mission was a tactical

success even though its main objective had failed. Tonight‘s

mission demanded that he save no one. Just the opposite: after he

killed the targets, he could move on or kill everyone if he

wished.

    A cold breeze swirled around him, bringing shivers and goose

bumps to his skin. He got a whiff of himself and knew he needed a

bath. At the same time he snuggled closer to the bush as thick

waves of rain pelted him. "It is Allah's way for me to be

ceremonially clean for the destruction I am to inflict," he

whispered. A delightful resignation swept over him as he pulled

the poncho tight around his head.

    He searched for eyes; none existed. Beautiful sheets of rain
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     84

remained. As self-confidence and vengeance returned, he willed

himself to relax.

    The hair on his head and neck began to tingle. He steeled

himself. A short supersonic crack sounded and a white flash lit

the sky. "One last blast of nature's fury," he laughed. "I laugh

at you."

    "Allah! You have tested me," he said with a feeling of

insight. "To see if I am worthy. I am ready. For the God of all,

I live to kill."

    The winds changed directions and water began blowing through

a small opening in his rain gear. Gamnel closed the opening when

another appeared. The rain streamed unchecked into his poncho.

Disgusted, he gave up and wrapped the plastic poncho around his

face as water rolled down his neck.

    Small rivulets appeared on his chest, shoulders, and back.

"Only the back of my knees," he laughed, "will be dry when this

ends."

    He noticed the storm weakening. The lightning that struck,

and mysteriously destroyed the tip of his knife, moved away. As

if in answer to his prayer, the winds even stopped. "Thank you,

Allah," he said enthusiastically. "The storm has ended."

    Raising his head, he wiped water from his eyes and looked

around. He made out Rushad and Serhan in the blackness. The

fierce sounds of rolling thunder moved away, and light drizzle
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     85

signaled the end.

    "Allah is good," he whispered. His spoken words covered by

the sound of rushing water. The gurgling refocused his attention

to the sides of the outcrop.

    Meters away, a river of muddy water rushed past on its way

to the valley. His shivering vanished. Soon he would kill.

    When I return to Damascus, I will thank the planners. But

now, I must get moving. When the rains end, the rushing waters

will become a trickle. We must be ready before the guards return

to their posts. He motioned his men to move forward.

    The whitish vapor from his breath revealed that the air now

turned cold. The earlier sweltering temperatures now felt as if

he were inside the ice lockers back home. He willed himself to

ignore the cold, took a deep breath and blew a rocket-like vapor

trail of heated air into the night air.

    "I love the way the desert smells after a storm," he said.

Looking down at his feet, yet he felt an irritation at the trail

left in the mud. He spit at the imprints. Now the Jordanians will

know how many men attacked their camp.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     86




    Chapter 6



    The moon slipped from behind a trailing cloud as Gamnel

peeked over the wall. The rumbles of perpetual thunder moved

east. A pebble bouncing off his shoe alerted him that Serhan was

ready. Gamnel signaled Rushad to crawl a little farther down the

wall. All three watched the guard stand and stretch.

    Gamnel couldn't believe his luck as the guard sat within

easy reach of Serhan and lit a cigarette. The small orange glow

brightened, and then it ebbed as the sentry exhaled. The smoke

drifted in Gamnel's direction before rising ghost-like into the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     87

air.

       At another time Gamnel would have laughed, but not tonight.

He signaled Serhan to attack. He and Rushad would remain in

position. After that, they‘d sneak into the tent, kill the girl,

look for the Director, and kill everyone in between.

       With a little luck, he thought, if this guard doesn’t

gurgle, the ones on the other side will not know what happened

until daylight.

       He watched as Serhan crept closer. Eight meters. Five

meters. Soon, the sentry would be dead. They‘d be in Maddaba by

sun-up. A week later, they‘d be in Damascus receiving a hero's

welcome. I'll be home for my daughter's birthday.

       He watched the Jordanian stretch, exposing his back to

Serhan. The guard's shadow fell across the nearest tent.

                                *    *    *

       Kendra awoke soaked in sweat. A nightmare brought on by her

last vision left her heart pounding. She tried to remember the

details of the dream, but everything vanished when her eyes

opened. Frustrated, she stared at the top of the tent. Moonlight

turned the top a bright silvery-gray.

       "I hate nightmares," she grumbled. For a moment she wondered

if this was the beginning of another vision. "I'm too tired for

this," she growled and threw off her blankets. "Why am I the one

who gets this stuff? I don't want it anymore."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     88

    A shuffling noise outside the tent quieted her words and

made her look to the side. The shadow of a man glided across the

wall. She squinted to read her watch, five past four. Logic said

it was a guard on his patrol. Her eyes returned to the hazy

bright spot above. The beacon called to her and prevented further

sleep.

    "Get hold of your self," she growled and threw off the

blanket. The cold night air of the desert made her shiver.

Reaching for her boots, she shook them out, slipped them on, and

then wrapped her robe around her cooling body.

    Once outside, the cold damp air refreshed her. She breathed

deep and looked at the quarter moon appearing between the clouds.

It seemed brighter than usual. "No wonder I can't sleep," she

murmured.

    A myriad of brilliant stars filled the sky. The Milky Way's

wispy whiteness streamed across the black canopy, and she began

to think of other things. "Somewhere, up there, the object I

heard about is getting closer to earth. That is, if those stories

are ever true."

    A dark movement caught her eye, and she saw a guard stretch.

He didn't look familiar, yet he wore a Jordanian uniform. Her

heart jumped when a black figure sprang toward the guard.

    Kendra watched the man grab the guard and pull him
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     89

backwards. She wanted to call out a warning, but the action left

her stunned and speechless. It didn‘t seem real.

    Moonlight glinted from the knife in the man‘s hand as it

slid across the guard's throat. She heard the faint sound of

metal scraping metal. The killer, whoever he was, ignored the

sound, and with one continuous motion, shoved the knife into the

sentry's back.

    Something in Arabic sounded in the night. Before the man

could stab again, two quick phut-phuts sounded. The attacker and

the guard froze in motion. Both figures collapsed to the ground.

    She watched in amazement. Everything seemed surreal.

Something told her this is no dream. She prayed and dropped to

the ground. "God, if this is real, protect me, send angels - big

ones."

    A short distance away, Gamnel saw Serhan and the Jordanian

guard fall. The moon disappeared behind a small cloud. When it

reappeared, he looked at the girl in the white bathrobe. The

moonlight gave her an eerie glow. Gamnel blinked to clear his

eyes. Something familiar about the woman made him stare longer.

He felt joy when he realized she was his target. He wanted to

shoot, but something stopped him. Danger radiated around her and

filled his mind.

    At that moment he spied Rushad leaping toward the girl. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     90

wanted to call a warning, but Rushad called out something that he

didn‘t understand.

    Gamnel tried to move, but a sixth sense warned him to stay

concealed. The two phut-phut sounds that broke the silence of the

night may have been from a guard's weapon. If so, his friend may

have just died. He hoped Rushad killed her. At least the mission

would be a success.

    Again the silence was broken by the phut-phut sound. Gamnel

sensed something wrong and quickly dropped behind the wall. He

now knew what created the sound. It came from a muffled Uzi, and

the guard didn‘t carry that type of gun. He scurried along the

wall to change positions and hoped Rushad was taking cover. A

millisecond later, convoys of nine millimeter death ricocheted

over his head. Trap, thought Gamnel.

    He found another hiding place and wondered how to escape. He

expected a rush of defenders to attack his position at any

moment.

    When the expected squad of Jordanian anti-terrorist soldiers

didn't appear, he pointed his rifle over the wall and toward

Kendra. To hit her he needed to turn on the laser sight. "No," he

said in silence. "Someone will see it and locate me."

    As he peeked over the wall, he saw Kendra standing as if in

a trance. In the distance, a howl from a desert jackal sounded.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    91

    Hoping for a sign from Serhan or Rushad, Gamnel tossed a

stone in their direction. It clinked against metal. It told

Gamnel his aim was true, yet no response came from either of his

friends.

    Rushad broke the silence and said, "I‘m hit."

    Gamnel hoped it wasn‘t serious.

    Rushad whispered Serhan's name. Again he called, but there

came no reply. The distant jackal sounded again.

    "The jackal must be them," Gamnel whispered. He hoped it was

loud enough to be heard by Rushad and Serhan. "We can't stay

here, waiting for the sun to rise. Kill her," he ordered.

    Gamnel rose to one knee. The fear he sensed radiating from

the girl also excited him. With sheer willpower, he controlled

his desire to run and instead aimed his rifle. She just stood

there, not moving. She’s a fool. A quick hand signal to Rushad

and he waited.

    Rushad rushed forward just as a loudspeaker crackled to

life, shattering the stillness.

    "Stop where you are," ordered a harsh voice in Arabic. "We

have you surrounded. Your comrade is in paradise. Do you wish to

join him? Drop your weapons and stand still. NOW!"

    Gamnel watched Rushad ignore the words.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     92

    Rushad's rifle flash suppresser exploded with three-pointed

flashes toward the sound of the voice. He'll kill them all.

Gamnel was certain of it.

    A moment later Rushad ran up to Kendra. The girl stood as if

in shock. He watched Rushad dump his clip and reload.

    What are you doing? Gamnel‘s mind screamed with confusion.

Shoot her.

    In a flash Rushad turned and aimed in the direction of the

bullhorn. He fired and flames of hot gas from Rushad‘s AK-47 lit

Kendra's face. Thirty rounds of destruction streaked past her

midsection.

    Gamnel conquered his fear and aimed at Kendra. His thumb

flipped his fire selector to semi-auto and he squeezed the

trigger. He heard the hammer strike, but nothing happened —a

defective cartridge. He cleared the weapon just as the bullhorn

sounded again, and he saw Rushad swing his rifle back toward the

target.

    Gamnel stared in disbelief. Everything Rushad did was

contrary to his training. Then Gamnel saw three red dots appear

on Rushad's fatigues. Red dots from lasers found his friend.

    "Die! You motherless pig," Rushad screamed. "I'll extract

something from this..."

    Submachine gun fire erupted before Rushad finished speaking.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     93

    "I'll kill you all," Rushad said. His voice was defiant yet

weak as bullets tore his life away. "To Allah be the glory," he

gasped. The words from his voice vanished as his lips moved

without sound.

    Gamnel saw the last rounds from Rushad‘s rifle hit the dirt.

The bullets threw rock and dirt toward Kendra. Then off to his

right, he saw flashes from enemy gunfire form a steady line of

fire. Bullets hit the dirt in front of his position. He gave a

quick glance at Kendra and saw what appeared to be a sword. It

was the one in his nightmares - the sword he used to kill the

demon. Now it sat above her head and pointed up.

    Blinking the image away, he ducked and crawled. Ten meters

later he peeked over the wall.

    He saw her slip to the ground. It didn't look right. It was

too slow. She did not fall as if hit by bullets. The tip of the

sword swung forward, but not at her. It swung toward him.

    Rushad must have hit her, he thought. He had too. How could

she escape his attack? Unless. The realization hit him hard. It’s

the Sword of Allah. He gave another glance and stared in

disbelief. The tip of the sword was swinging toward him. He

dropped down behind the wall. Bullets bounced off the rocks next

to where he hid.

    He ducked and crawled away. When the shooting stopped, he
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     94

looked above the wall. The sword pointed toward where he hid. It

followed him. The realization frightened him. God is protecting

her. The Sword of Allah is fighting for her. I don’t know why,

but I’m fighting Allah.

    In an instant he knew his plan. This simple assassination

had become too confusing. He needed time to think. Never in his

wildest moments would he dare fight Allah. God was his life, his

purpose for being. Everything he did, the sacrifices, the

killing, everything was for God.

    He knew the escape route to their car by heart. He also

sensed that the enemy would be waiting. Instead, he turned and

scurried down the mountain. A hundred meters further he rose and

ran with abandoned fury. If he could make the Jordan River, he

might escape.

    The sound of dogs reached Gamnel‘s ears. Without hesitating,

he threw his rifle away and ran faster.

    Gamnel's legs ached and his fatigues stuck to his body when

he fell headlong into an irrigation ditch. The barking grew

closer. Exhausted, he plunged below the water. Survival instincts

made him scurry to the muddy bank and dig with his hand. In a

precious minute he squeezed into the excavation and covered

himself with mud.

    The baying of dogs and their handlers appeared above, on the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     95

bank of the canal. Moments later, the voices and dogs moved away.

Yet someone may still be near. If they discovered him, the dogs

will chew him alive. After that, the clubs from the guards will

beat him senseless. If he survived, the drugs and interrogation

will have rung every bit of knowledge from him. His body will

then be thrown in the nearest dump.

    His thoughts jumped to his daughter. I must survive. I ran

away. I must save Tasha. She will be made an example for the

others.

    He heard movement on the bank above. Through mud-covered

eyes, he watched the lights appear in the canal. They were

searching for tracks. It dawned on him that if he held onto his

rifle, he'd have shot it out with them. Tasha would die with no

one to protect her. Allah wants me to live, wants her to live.

    He watched the lights. Men and dogs, they all moved

downstream. A lifetime went by as he waited. He couldn't believe

his luck and began sliding more mud over his body. I must live

till morning, I must find clothing. I must get to Tasha.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     96




    Chapter 7

    Pete whispered Kendra's name and searched the area in front

of her. On moonlit ground lay three men. Two moved, struggling to

get up. He had to stop them. If it turned out to be a wrong move,

he‘d apologize if he over-reacted.

    He leaped forward and kicked the closest man in the face

before smashing a solid Karate chop to the back of the neck. If

he broke the man's neck, well so be it. The man grunted and

collapsed like a sack of potatoes. A rifle fell from his hand and

landed at Pete‘s feet. Like old time, Pete thought.

    The second man was almost to his feet when Pete grabbed the

weapon and swung. The rifle cracked against the man's skull.

    Without waiting to see if anyone moved, he dove back to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    97

Kendra, pulled the clip out and inspected it to see if it held

bullets. A bullet sat ready to be used. He slammed it home,

yanked the slide back, and waited.

    "Here goes my speaking tour," he mumbled. He lay beside

Kendra trying to shield her from the unseen. His logic warned him

about his tactical position. He also realized how attached he was

becoming to her.

    Slowly aiming the rifle from side to side, he searched for

anything that moved. He saw nothing. No sounds. Yet he knew they

were out there. For some reason this reminded him of the time he

hid from the police.

    After he killed his father he hid out in the slums of Derry,

Ireland. The Derry police searched for him for three months.

Mother may have been a whore, but father had no right to beat her

every time he got drunk. The man deserved to die. A year later

she died from the hands of an Irish Army Major. His given name

was, Sean Mickey O'Bradaish. With the help of the National

Liberation Party he found where the officer lived. Two months

later he killed the Major.

    "Kendra," he whispered. "What happened?" At the same time he

kept a wary eye on the three men. She never answered. Her

breathing seemed steady. That made him feel better. He roamed his

hand over her body, looking for blood but found none. Then he
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     98

heard her moan.

    "You‘re alive. That's all that matters," he whispered

quietly to himself, "Thank God."

    He felt a twitch in his chest and a pain. It subsided. A

heart attack, he wondered? He disposed of that thought. I'm too

young. Besides he took care of himself.

    "What happened here?" he asked. "Who hit you?"

    In the moonlight, he could see the dark welts forming above

her left eye. He cradled her with one arm and kept a firm grip on

the rifle with the other.

    He listened for anyone moving around. He heard the guards

calling, checking the tents. The cries from his frightened

friends sounded unreal. Then a loudspeaker blared in the night,

asking everyone to stay calm.

    Pete's hand tightened around the rifle's pistol grip. His

finger slid inside the trigger guard. Friend or foe, no one

better make a sudden move.

    All my life, he thought, I've tried to be strong, wondering

just how tough I am. Ireland, the killings, escaping to Chicago,

being set up with a stepfather, going to Las Vegas, being

abandoned, joining the marines, sniper training, Judo, Karate,

military Intel, moving to Denver, getting his degree in
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     99

archaeology. He always felt self-sufficient. Now he felt totally

helpless. He couldn't even help the only person he cared about.

    "Stop thinking," he said under his breath. "It's bad for

your health. It'll get you killed." Instead he concentrated on

what laid before him. A quick twitch of his head cleared away the

thoughts.

    "Feeling sad will get you killed," he muttered.

    The hair on the back of his neck tingled and he recognized

the warning signal. Someone was approaching. He turned and found

three familiar faces moving toward him, members of the camp's

Jordanian guards. They crawled next to him and waited.

    "What's this all about?" Pete whispered.

    They didn't answer. One held his finger to his lips for

silence.

    Pete looked into Kendra's face and kissed her. She squirmed

and began fighting to get loose. He placed his hand over her

mouth to still her cries. "Kendra," he said. "Lay still."

    She moaned as he held her.

    "Be quiet," he warned. "It's me, Pete. I've got you. You're

safe."

    A grating sound from a loudspeaker shattered the night. "Do

not be alarmed," a voice said. "We are from Jordanian Internal
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   100

Security. We are here for your protection. We are sorry that we

disturbed your rest. Please forgive us. We'll explain everything

in a few moments."

    Pete counted ten men emerging from the darkness. One of the

camp guards put his hand on Pete's rifle. "They are friends. We

have nothing to fear. It is over."

    The men walked forward, red laser beams knifing through the

drifting smoke and dust. The beams stayed on two of the three

fallen figures. From behind Pete there came a deep voice.

    "I am Colonel Abu Ali Ahmed. You attacked my prized

lieutenant."

    Pete sized up the barrel chested camouflaged soldier. The

Colonel's thick mustache stood out even against a face darkened

by grease.

    Ahmed reached for the rifle in Pete's hand. "I hope you

didn't kill him," he said in a tone that carried warning.

    "What this all about?" Pete growled. "I‘m on your side.

Remember?" His face felt hot from anger. He wanted to fight, to

protest, and to tell his side of the story. But this was not

America. Frustrated, he stared at the men walking among the three

lying on the ground. The laser beams blinked off.

    Brilliant flashlights appeared. One light illuminated a

machine-gun armed soldier kneeling beside an unconscious man.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    101

Pete assumed that was the lieutenant. He heard something being

said in Arabic followed by a chuckle from the Colonel.

       "He's unhurt," said Ahmed.

    Pete felt relief and took a deep breath. Then he realized

his stomach was queasy and his hands shook. He started humming,

but stopped himself.

    The Colonel's hand tapped Pete's shoulder. "Just bruised. I

won't tell him you attacked him. He'll think one of those dogs

hit him, that is, until he reads my report." He chuckled. "I'm

sure he has a sore jaw and a headache. Later he might like to

thank you."

    Pete saw a strange look in the Colonel‘s eyes.

    "If he doesn't laugh it off, it may be wise for you to visit

Jerusalem. I've read you are called the Wolf. Tonight I shall

call you El Shugaa Sareer. As for us, we are - how do you say it

in English - the Tigers? We are very proud to be our nation's

elite. We are the finest of all the counter-terrorist squads. We

thrive on competition and excellence. We do not take coming in

second lightly."

       Pete studied the Colonel‘s face. That sounds like a

  threat.

    "For three days," the Colonel continued. "We have tracked

these infiltrators. They came across the Syrian border, near
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    102

Salkhad. Our team followed them and even walked among these dogs

after we found them hiding beneath the sand in the desert, east

of Al-Mafraq. We let them go so to discover their target. It is

not uncommon for these men to prepare a phony target in case they

are captured."

    Ahmed walked over to the two bodies lying on the ground and

spit at them. "The one you hit with the rifle butt has died. The

other looks like he died before he hit the ground. A third man,

one of their team, has escaped. We are already tracking him. He

cannot get far." Two soldiers helped the lieutenant to his feet.

"These will lie here until sunrise," said the Colonel. "We will

photograph and videotape the area before we clean up. I'm sure

this killer felt confusion when he tried to slice my lieutenant's

throat." He kicked at the lifeless body of Serhan. "He died

before he knew what happened. My lieutenant carried chain mail

around his neck and torso. He is a very courageous man."

    "I think that is an understatement," Pete acknowledged. "I

don‘t know if I could have done the same."

    "He has almost as many medals as I do," Ahmed said with

unconcealed pride. "He is, as you say, a young-bold warrior. Many

times, my biggest struggle is to see that he becomes an old and

not so bold warrior. Today it worked. Tomorrow, only Allah knows.

I must make him Captain before his luck runs out.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   103

    "Lieutenant Fadi stayed in communication with us up until

they attacked. I don't know if you saw him light a cigarette. It

is another of his life gambles. The glow lured these killers to

him. My lieutenant is very much a man."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    104




    Chapter 8

    In the tent Colonel Ahmed stood beside a resting Kendra. He

handed her a bullet-punctured picture saying, "This was taken

from one of the men." As the Colonel spoke, he studied Kendra's

body language for whatever it might reveal.

    "I don't know where they got this," she said. Her face

carried the look of honest confusion. "Why would they have a

picture of me?"

    She looked at the Colonel. He stood dressed in camouflaged

battle fatigues, with a Beretta 9mm pistol hanging on his hip.

Over his left shoulder hung a gun that Pete described as a

silenced HK MP-5 9mm submachine gun. The lethal end dangled next
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    105

to the man's knee.

    "I must admit. In my twenty-eight years of protecting my

nation, I've never heard anything like this." He looked at Peter

Meirs. The American sat patting Kendra's hand. Ahmed smiled and

thought. Keep her relaxed. She will talk more freely.

    "Your description of prayers, possible angels and super-

natural visions, has left me wondering if you might have been

hurt worse than we think. Maybe, I should not include this

information in my report? I've never met anyone who sees

visions," he said with honest curiosity, hoping she would say

something contradictory. "I'm fascinated, and you have captivated

me with your sincerity. But I must be candid with you. What

you've seen frightens me. It appears Allah is influencing you in

ways that I don't understand. You are very different."

    Kendra wondered about her visions and being singled out for

death. Someone powerful believed in her and wanted her stopped,

regardless of the cost.

    "Did any of the men have a scar across his right eye?" she

asked.

    "No. None of them carried such a scar. When we catch the

last one, we will look and let you know."

    Kendra's descriptions of visions produced a level of

confusion in him best left to the holy men. He concentrated on
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    106

what he could touch and feel. As he thought of the King and

another victory ribbon for his wall, his spirits lifted and a

thin smile appeared.

    Ahmed completed his report and slid it inside a briefcase.

He saluted Kendra and Pete before leaving the tent. He led his

men across the northern desert, and waited for the infiltrators

to identify their destination. Once that target was identified,

his team hid within the camp and waited.

    His mind rehearsed a short speech he would give to those who

controlled his promotion to general. All the events would be

placed in chronological order and descriptions given in detail.

This strange testimony, from a girl who sees visions, left him

confused.

    What was clear though was that the terrorists targeted her

and the director. The photographs revealed that. She was very

lucky to be alive.

    He decided that Allah must have special plans for this holy

woman. Only from America can this phenomenon occur. In his nation

it would be unthinkable for a woman to have such blessings. The

social ostracizing would be severe and end in her death.

    The women seemed strong, he noted, more like a Bedouin.

"This one is propelled to move on, past this unfortunate

incident. She has a mission from Allah."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    107

    He returned to the tent, compelled to look into Kendra‘s

face one more time. As he entered, he saw Pete holding Kendra‘s

hand.

    "I have one more thing to show you before I go," Ahmed said.

"When I return to Amman, I will listen to our interview again.

Maybe there is something I missed. Maybe the American embassy can

offer some information." He handed her a small photograph.

    "We found this out there, lying next to the wall. It is of a

young girl. Do you recognize her?"

        Kendra shook her head.

    "For the moment, our guess is that she is another target or

maybe one of their relatives. We don't know for sure. We also

found another photo of you and the director. Both of you have an

'X' across your faces. You both were singled out for termination.

Under your photo is the word, ‗visions.‘"

        "How did they know about my vision?" Kendra asked.

    "Someone must have told them. You must have frightened

them," he said stone-faced. "We will station men around the

mountain. You'll be safe while in my nation, but once you go to

Israel, I cannot vouch for your safety. We will, of course, pass

all information on to them. You know we are all in this war to

stop terrorism." He studied her for a moment then said, "You are

a remarkable girl, Kendra Makray." Then he smiled and retrieved
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    108

the photo.

    "These men consider you to be a grave threat to Islam. But

this was a futile attempt to change the future. All who fight

against the will of Allah deserve death. The Middle East produces

men like these by the thousands. Such is their psyche that they

have become a very dangerous warrior class. Twisted by the

hatred, they hide behind our religion to justify their acts. They

debase the will of Allah with their hatred. If your vision is a

prelude to the discovery of the Jewish Holy Ark, I am sure the

Jews will rally around that artifact like bees to honey. I fear

for the future if you succeed."

    "I‘ll praise God if I succeed," she said. "I know the vision

that I have seen is true."

    His eyes bored into her. "If you remember anything more, or

have need of me, please know that you can call my office day or

night. They will contact me."

    He handed her a business card after writing a telephone

number on the back. "This is my private number. Your

radiotelephone can reach me. If you remember anything else or

just wish to talk, please call. I mean this sincerely. In my

business, trivial items can lead to important solutions."

Reaching for her hand, he lifted it to his lips and kissed it, a

murmured, "A quaint custom I picked up while attached to our
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    109

embassy in Paris."

    Colonel Ahmed turned to Pete. "You are very lucky, El Shugaa

Sareer. These men are dangerous. In a world where life is cheap,

they have no regard for those who stand in their path. Your

valiant effort is very commendable, but were we not there, it

might have been fatal. I have requested additional guards for

this camp, although I don't think we'll see any more trouble. You

can continue your work in complete safety. Our security forces

are very good at their job."

    The Colonel smiled. "Allah grant you success in your

mission. If it is from Allah, then I bow to his will." He turned

off his tape recorder, saluted, and walked from the tent.

    Pete turned to the doctor. "What did the Colonel call me? El

Shu... something?"

    "El Shugaa Sareer," the soldier called Doc responded as he

completed his medical report.

    "What does that mean in English?"

    "I would translate it as a young warrior. A brave soldier

who is on a journey."

    Pete thought about it for a moment and smiled. "A warrior,

huh?"

    "Small warrior," the Doc added. The chuckle in his voice

ended with a sincere expression. "But, it is still an honor."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    110

    Pete's sucked in his stomach with pride. "I still like Wolf

better. At least I know how to say it." He studied Doc for a

moment then smiled. "Well I, Peter the Wolf, El Shugaa Sareer

want to know about the woman who sees visions."

    "She's fine," replied the Doc. "Like I told the Director,

she needs a couple of days of rest. Her head took a real beating.

A good night's sleep will do wonders. If the headaches continue

or she starts to feel dizzy, I want to know immediately. I have

permission to call for a helicopter and fly her to Maddaba for

medical tests. For the moment, she can go to her tent." He looked

at Kendra. "You take it easy. No work! I mean it." His hand went

across his throat. "Or off with your head."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    111

    Chapter 9

    Two Jordanian soldiers, members of the Tigers, on their

hands and knees, searched around Kendra's tent.

    "Why are they after you?" asked Pete as they watched the

soldiers. "I understand them, the terrorist, not wanting you to

find the Ark of the Covenant, but that's a discovery that's only

a possibility. There has to be more to this attack than I'm

hearing." He looked at Kendra hoping for a better explanation.

"Got any ideas?"

    "I do, but I couldn't tell it to the colonel. He's a Moslem

and I don't think he'd like to hear it."

    "Well I'm not Moslem, how about telling me."

    "There is a great storm coming," she said as they walked

toward her tent.

    Pete looked at the sky and thought about last night's storm.

"I doubt it will get any worse."

    "There's a great war coming," she added after seeing him

search the skies. "It's been brewing for 1300 years and it's

about to reach its climax. It about who is god."

    "I don't understand."

    "There is a war coming between a god named Allah and a God

named Yahweh, who is the God of the bible. When it is over, many
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    112

Moslems will turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob.

They will turn to Jesus and they will be saved. I can even tell

you what war it will be that brings this about. It is the war

described in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39, and when I

discover the Ark, the discovery will be the straw that breaks the

camels back. The Mullahs fear it and I guess they fear me. What

they fear is Yahweh and the possibility that he is real."

    She looked again at the soldiers crawling around her tent.

"What are they doing?"

    "They‘re searching," Pete answered. "They're policing the

grounds, looking for cartridge cases, anything that might have

been dropped during the attack."

    Pete felt her shiver. "They're looking for anything that

will help them answer who these guys are and where they came

from."

    "Not that," she replied. Her forehead wrinkled from concern.

 "None of them had the scar."

    Pete felt her legs weaken and caught her in his arms. The

strength she showed with the Colonel, it's gone. She's wiped out.

     He noticed a folding chair leaning against her tent and

carried her to it. "We'll just have to wait and see. Maybe the

scar is under a disguise. One thing for sure, you need

protection. From what I've heard from the colonel, the Lieutenant
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   113

positioned himself close to your tent waiting for them to attack.

Never did anyone realize you are the target."

    Pete rubbed his throat. "Can you imagine someone waiting for

a person to cut your throat? I don't consider myself a big

coward, but to do that is more than I can imagine."

    Kendra breathed deeply. "Maybe we should find him and thank

him. He saved our lives."

    Pete pictured the chiseled face of the lieutenant rubbing

his jaw and talking to the colonel. "Maybe later," he said,

hoping that moment never came.

    The sound of crunching gravel caught their attention. Both

turned to see a solidly built soldier walking toward them.

    "Hello," said a strong voice with a noticeable British

accent. "I'm Lieutenant Fadi, Abdul Fadi. We met last night."

Fadi rubbed his neck and jaw.

    In a glance Pete sized up the lieutenant with the instincts

of an attack dog. At least Fadi didn't have his hand on his gun.

Pete offered a wary smile and extended a hand of greeting to the

man who might kill him.

    "I'm sorry about last night," offered Pete. "Hope you'll

accept my apology."

    Lieutenant Fadi grabbed Pete's hand. Fadi's dark brown
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    114

unyielding eyes locked onto Pete's.

    "It is accepted," Fadi squeezed Pete's hand a little

tighter.

    Pete stood still. He felt like a spring under tension not

knowing what might happen. When Fadi's words registered, Pete

relaxed and felt the tension evaporate as if he plunged into the

river. Feeling better, he smiled.

    "Good. You have relaxed," Fadi said. "We must compete some

day. I've read your file. You have a lot of training. CIA?

Military Intelligence? My colonel calls you, Baby-Warrior. I

think he may be underestimating you. I saw you coming toward me

last night. You are very smooth."

    "Thanks." Pete smiled. He ignored the questions. "I didn't

know you were watching," Pete lied. "What happened? I saw Kendra

lying on the ground. Then someone moved. I'm sorry it was you. I

just reacted. I hope you accept my apology?"

    Fadi raised his hand. "Do not concern yourself. Your apology

is accepted. Just do not do it again. Last night you did the

right thing. My own men lost sight of me during the struggle. By

keeping me down, you may have saved my life. You may also have

saved your own. Only Allah knows."

    Kendra reached out her hand. "I want to thank you also," she

said. "I am so glad you weren't killed. I've heard about what you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    115

did last night. You are very courageous. I thank God that it

worked."

    Fadi's eyes softened as he held Kendra's hand.

    Pete waited to hear his explanation for the attack.

    Lt. Fadi guessed at Pete's question. "I can't give an answer

anymore than my Colonel. But, it is believed that the mission of

this excavation will be successful, and these men wanted it

stopped. If her vision from Allah comes true," he looked at

Kendra, "this area of the world will be turned upside down. To

the fanatic, Israel's a threat - just by its existence.

    "On the other side of the coin, the Israeli Jews are

arrogant. With possession of the Ark of the Covenant, they will

be very hard to live with. They will believe themselves

invincible."

    "Don't you fear its discovery?" asked Kendra.

    "As my colonel said earlier, if it exists, and you discover

it, then it is the will of Allah. I will not fight Allah."

    A distant whistle blew from the interior of the camp. "I

must leave you. Allah go with you, young American warrior." He

stooped down to Kendra. "A woman who sees visions from Allah must

be protected. I wish you great life and many children. Goodbye

for now. We are done here. Another task awaits us."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   116

    Fadi disappeared among the tents.

    Pete watched a while longer. "There goes a man whose mission

is to protect his people from those who live to destroy."

    Kendra looked over the Jordan valley and spoke softly. "I

feel very pleased that they have acknowledged my visions."

    "I know what you mean. If this all comes true, it might get

crazy around here." He thought of something that made him

chuckle. "I like the sound of my new name. El Shugaa. It makes me

feel Arab - like Lawrence of Arabia. You have a mission,

discovering things. As for me, I'm still searchin."

    "Taking care of me," she replied without looking at him. Her

hands went to her head as she tried to think. "Where's everyone?"

she asked. "Even the guards are gone."

    Pete looked around. "Everyone's back to work. Guess life is

back to normal. It's just another day at the dig with El Shugaa."

He said it for humor then saw the look of stress written across

her face.

    "Would you mind if I just sat here, alone?" she asked. "I

don't want to hurt your feelings, but I need to rest and search

my soul, maybe read my Bible."

    "You want me to go to work?" Pete asked. He shook his head

to protest. "You might need something. You might get dizzy?

Something might happen?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   117

    "Go on. I'll be okay. Truly."

    Pete took a deep breath. "Maybe you're right. With all this

excitement and talk about visions, I guess the team better hurry.

Your desire to find this thing has infected all of us."

    "Please help them," she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Help them Mister El Shugaar." Her hands grabbed her head. "That

hurts," she moaned.

    "Can I get you something?"

    "No. It's time for me to lie down."

    Pete helped her into her tent. Beams of sunlight streamed

through eight bullet holes. Her cot lay overturned, the bedding

strewn across the floor. Three new holes in the cot revealed

where bullets traveled.

    Pete stuck his finger through the holes. "They're bullet

holes all right," he replied to her astonished look. "Being

outside probably saved your life."

    Her face turned white as Pete straightened the cot and

helped her to lie down. He felt her cheeks for a temperature.

"You're perspiring. I'll straighten things up before I leave." He

cleared his throat. "You know, last night I was scared."

    "You? You're never scared."

    "Last night I was. I thought I might lose you. I even felt
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    118

helpless."

    Tears welled up in her eyes as she touched his lips.

    Pete kissed her fingers and didn't say a word.

    She waved him off. "Now go. I need to rest and think. Go

ahead. They need you in the cave. I'll be just fine. I feel as if

I've been up all night. But I have a question."

    "Shoot."

    "You said something a while back."

    "What is it?"

    "You said you were born in Ireland. Did I hear right?"

    Pete froze in motion. Without answering he turned and said.

"I'll be back at noon to check on you," he said with concern for

her welfare. "I love you, Hon. We can talk then." As he walked

away he wondered how much more she had heard or remembered?

    Giving her a gentle hug, he kissed her cheek. As he left the

tent, the Wolf looked back and saw her eyes already closing.

    Two hours later, Kendra stood before the mirror, holding her

head. Waves of depression swept through her as the image of what

she looked like reflected back at her.

    "I used to dress in fashionable clothes and eat at fine

restaurants," she said. Her eyes winced at the reflection she

saw. "Now I'm dirty, and my meals are cold."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   119

    She fought back tears, but they came anyway. "Why me, Lord?

You could have gotten someone else. Where am I going? The vision

I saw about this place is driving me crazy. My life's a mess. If

I'd been college material, I wouldn't be here. God help me."

    Stepping closer to the dusty mirror she felt overwhelmed by

a feeling of uselessness. She raised her hand to slap the mirror

and remembered the time she slapped a TV set.

    "Kendra!" A clear strong voice said.

    Her eyes opened wide as she looked into the mirror. She

stopped sobbing, wiped her face, and listened. It was a voice

she‘d never forget. "Yes, Lord," she said, hoping to hear more,

but nothing more was said.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   120




    Chapter 10

    Exhilarated by the voice, Kendra giggled loudly. A moment

later she stopped and grabbed her head. She waited until the

throbbing subsided. "The sheep will know my voice," she

whispered. "God doesn't waste words, but I wish He'd hold a

conversation." Tears filled her yes. The joy of hearing God‘s

voice made all the agony she felt vanish. Knowing it was hopeless

to see more in the mirror, she wiped her eyes. Her vision cleared

and she moaned at her reflection.

    "I need a shower." She let herself laugh, though her head

protested by increased throbbing. She studied her hair and

fingernails. "My hair's a mess," she said. Holding her nails up

to the mirror, she gazed at the top of the tent. "Look at these.

What have you gotten me into?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    121

    She went outside into the sunlight. On both sides of the

tent sat two wooden buckets. Both held petunias, and she touched

their petals.

    "Got to take care of my two little babies," she said. The

affection in her voice was meant for her flowers. Reaching for an

empty plastic water bottle, she hurried to the water tank. "I'll

get my babies some water."

    The sun felt good as it warmed her body. When she returned,

she poured water around the flower stems. She then thought about

herself. "Now it's my turn to get cleaned."

    She stood under the solar heated water barrel and let the

water drain over her body. The water splashed onto her face as

she looked up at the blue sky. "God doesn't waste time on futile

things. Neither will I," she said. The impulse to shout almost

overwhelmed her. Instead she managed a quiet "Thank you."

    She finished with her shower and let the sun and desert air

do their magic.

    As she dressed, an idea tickled her. "Think I'll go down to

the cave. Shouldn‘t be too hard to get there. I won‘t do any

work, Doc's orders." She ran a finger across her throat. "Or it's

off with my head." In a few minutes Kendra headed down the path.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    122

    "Hello!" Lt. Fadi called. "Like some company?"

    Kendra turned to see who called her. Before she answered,

Lt. Fadi came alongside.

    "My men are watching from all the high places. You, little

holy woman, have nothing to fear."

       Kendra wondered if he was teasing.

    "My colonel thinks a lot about you. You amaze and frighten

him. May I walk with you?"

    She saw him rub his back. "Does it hurt much?" she asked.

When she glanced at the back of his shirt, her eyes fixed on the

dried blood surrounding the cut cloth in the center.

    "There's nothing more they can do," Fadi replied.

    Kendra studied his face looking for pain.

    "It must weep," he said. "We found that the tip of the

assassin's knife possessed poison. I have received antibiotics,

and an antidote for the poison. Now it must cleanse itself."

    She felt the Spirit prod her with a thought. She asked, "May

I pray for you and your healing?"

    Lt. Fadi looked at her with a puzzled expression. "I do not

accept your Jesus. No man can live after he has died. Dead men

don't heal."

    "If he is dead, He cannot do much of anything," she replied.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    123

"But if He's alive, maybe He wants me to help? It won't hurt you,

and it might just help. Let me pray."

    "You have my permission."

    Kendra saw the playfulness in his eyes. "Are you teasing

me?" she asked.

    "No. I‘m not making fun of you. It‘s just that no one has

ever prayed for me."

    "A first time," she said. A smile broadened her face. "Let‘s

stop walking. This will take a minute."

    Kendra placed her hands over the wound on his back. She

prayed aloud. When she finished she ended with a firm, "In Jesus'

name, Amen."

    "That‘s it?" Fadi asked. "Don‘t you scream and shout, or do

something more energetic?"

    "No," she said with laughter. "God hears the prayers of the

righteous. He heard mine."

    They walked the rest of the way to the cave in silence.

    "Here's your excavation," he said and pointed to the hole in

the side of the mountain. "May Allah grant you abundant life and

many guards over you."

    Kendra reached up and gave the lieutenant a kiss on his

cheek. "Thank you. I appreciate that." She felt sure she saw a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   124

blush appear in Fadi‘s cheeks.

    "Now go," he said. "I too must return to work. Allah can

heal," he said defiantly. "Yet maybe the Word of Allah will have

mercy on me."

    Kendra felt the wooziness in her head clear as she entered

the coolness of the cave. A few steps inside, she paused to let

her eyes adjust to the dimness. Sunlight reflecting through the

entrance lit the cave for the first fifty feet. After that, the

light came from a string of small twelve-volt bulbs and miners'

hats.

    A dancing light moved toward her. She moved against the

wall, then recognized Pete. It must be his turn to empty the

wheelbarrows.

    She lowered herself to the floor and watched him push the

load past her.

    "He's already got tunnel vision." She chuckled.

    Earlier in the week it was her turn to empty the

wheelbarrows. After going back and forth a dozen times, she

developed tunnel vision. Now it was his turn, and he became

unaware of her presence.

    When he returned, she giggled and called out, "Hey, Wolf,

Indiana Jones never did this."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   125

    Startled, he looked around for her voice and straightened

up. "Kendra! What are you doing here?" He reached for the small

of his back and moaned. "I had a feeling that someone was here.

Are you all right?"

    "I feel fine, as long as I don't move fast."

    "Aren't you supposed to stay up top and rest?"

    She saw a lopsided grin as he revealed the enjoyment of her

being here.

    "A breath of fresh air in my life," he said. "I didn't see

you sitting there."

    "I know," came her happy reply. "Thought I'd come and watch

you work for a while. Got something to tell you. Sit down and

I'll rub your back."

    "How's the head?" he asked.

    They sat against the wall, and he reached to touch the

bandages.

    "Better not," she said and stopped his hand. "It's still

throbbing. Tomorrow I'll be better. The coolness in the cave is

helping. I've got something to tell you."

    "Pretty exciting night wasn't it?"

    "Hey Pete!" a voice from back in the cave called. "We've got

a couple of loads for you."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    126

    Pete shrugged his shoulders. "Got to get back to work. Sit

here and wait for me. I'll be back in a few minutes. What did you

want to tell me?"

    "The Lord spoke to me. It's fantastic Pete! His voice was

clear as a bell, like the first time. I'll tell you about it when

you return."

    She heard a crack from one of his knees.

    He looked down at a leg. "I think I'm getting old." He

lifted the handle of the empty wheelbarrow. "Two hundred more to

go," he said.

    She watched him disappear into the darkness. She wanted to

ask him about Ireland, but it will wait.

                              *    *       *

    General Vorshkov read the report. Filled with rage he threw

it against the wall. "Both teams," he growled. "Sent to

assassinate one defenseless woman. They couldn't get it done.

Israeli security can't be that good."

    He looked at his second-in-command, General Brezhnev, and

continued. "At least their touted first team, with this Gamnel

fellow as their leader, made it to the camp. They accomplished

nothing except get themselves killed. If the Minister of Special

Action stood in front of me right now, I'd shoot him. Their

second team made it across the border on the Trans-Jordan
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    127

highway. They never arrived at their contact point. All are

presumed dead. Incompetent fools. If I want it done, I knew I'd

have to do it myself." He shook his head in disgust. "At least

they planted my ark." He picked up the report and felt relieved

that there was no mention of his deception being uncovered.

    Vorshkov lowered his head and thought about his reassigned

Spetnez. "They must get here immediately. This woman must not

live another week."

    He pounded his fist on the desk. "If she succeeds, it will

be almost impossible to prevent the crazies from using their

nuclear weapons. Our own weapons! Stolen from us! And they are

using them to blackmail us into supporting this crazy adventure."

    Looking at the giant wall map of the Middle East, his mind's

eye began to see large letters emblazoned with dripping blood. He

also saw the possibility of wealth, power, fame and glory. His

attitude changed at the looming opportunity. "By the god of all

forces, this is what I was born for."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    128




    Chapter 11

    Lora Makray, Kendra's older sister, looked around at the

number of cars facing the sea wall. Every spot was taken. They

continued driving hoping to find a parking spot. She also kept an

eye out for wandering children. "Here‘s one," she said and

pointed to a place just wide enough to enter.

    Stephen Talon stopped the car and backed up. "I wish they'd

stay between the lines," he said and parked with his front bumper

against the sea wall. The San Francisco Ocean View beach and

Pacific Ocean now sat before them.

    "Come on, let's sit on the hood," he said and reached for

his video camera. He noticed the people sitting on the sea wall.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    129

He looked at Lora and said, "This place is crowded."

    Lora held her bottled water and slid herself over the hood

toward Steve.

    Waves of meteors produced brush strokes of white lines in

the hazy gray-black night sky. A few silently exploded in the

black emptiness with a brilliant cold-white light. Whenever a

large flash occurred, the sound of "ohs" and "ahs" swept over the

watchers. Behind them, the light pollution from street lamps, row

homes and the city washed out all but the brightest streaks.

    Lora twirled her ash-blond hair around a finger as a

brilliant flash turned everything white. She saw her tanned legs

turn icy white. She glanced gleefully at her boyfriend, Steve.

His strong jaw, blond ponytail, and fair complexion looked

ghostly as a pale-white flash of light filled the sky.

    She remembered her college course in astronomy and guessed

that the average meteor measured a few microns across, about the

size of dust. When dirt traveling at sixty-miles per second,

collides with a molecule of sparse planetary gas, an explosion

resulted which is the equivalent of a large firecracker.

    All stones that measured one or two inches across produced a

fiery trail ten miles long. Large boulders and house size chucks

of ice dug deeper, exploding with near nuclear force.

Fortunately, most of this action took place twenty-five or more
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    130

miles above the earth.

       She reached for Steve's hand. "Think Kendra sees these?"

    "I doubt it," he replied. "The Middle East is too far away.

Besides, it's daylight there." A series of red and white streaks

filled the sky. "Now that's something." He turned to Lora. "We

should get married. What a fireworks display."

    Lora looked at him and shook her head. "We don't have a

license. Sorry." She smiled and secretly hoped that day would

never arrive. "Maybe when we get back," she said in an effort to

hide her fear and to change the subject. For the last two years,

she sidestepped his request, and Steve never pushed the issue.

It’s not for me, she thought. I don't like being poor.

    She looked around at the crowd and the hundreds of people

lounging in the parking lot and on the beach. A solid row of

cars, vans and pick-up trucks sat facing the ocean. The vehicle

next to her was a rusty bucket of a car. Inside, on the front

seat, eating from a bag of popcorn, sat a mother and her two

children. Lora smiled at them when the mother noticed Lora

looking in her direction.

    "Probably a single mother struggling to make ends meet," she

murmured. "Not me. I'll be done with my internship in two months,

and I'll make a good living before someone gets me pregnant," she

said defiantly. "Hello Boulder-Platt Child Development Center.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    131

Here I come. No more four day old stale left over food in the

refrigerator." She smiled at the thought of a decent income.

    "You say something?" asked Steve.

    "No. Just getting excited about a decent wage."

    She cleared her thoughts and watched the waves roll onto the

shore. At the horizon, a quarter moon hung just above the ocean.

Shafts of moonbeams streamed through the humid air and plunged

into a black sparkling ocean. It was a picture postcard of

tranquil beauty. Steve videotaped the view. But the sounds, the

smell, the panorama would never be the same on TV. Sitting off

shore, to her right, two large rocks surrounded by water appeared

ghostly in the moonlight.

    Lora inhaled and wished life could always be this way. The

quiet pulsating roar of the gentle surf splashing against the

sandy beach left her dreamy.

    The radio from the car with the kids described how the dual

comets, named Kano-Ishikawa, disintegrated when they traveled

around the sun. "...thousands of mountain-sized fragments have

been created," the reporter said. "Many of the fragments have

pass close to the earth were the earth‘s gravitational field has

captured millions of pieces. The larger fragments are continuing

on their return trip outside our solar system. Most scientists do

not expect the remains of Kano-Ishikawa to return for another
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    132

thousand years. The scientific community," he said, "is convinced

that the earth is in no danger. Any large ice or rock fragment is

expected to explode in the upper reaches of the atmosphere."

    Earlier in the day, Lora remembered looking out their hotel

window. She heard someone on television sound excited at this

chance of a lifetime to witness such a natural occurrence. "It is

unlikely," she remembered him saying, "that one of the large

snowballs will crash into the earth." Just as she heard those

words, she saw two bright streaks high above the Ana Hotel.

    She told Steve about what she saw, and for some reason,

described the mysterious object Kendra wrote about. Kendra‘s

letter described a strange object passing through the orbit of

Pluto. "It's believed to be heading for earth," she wrote.

"Somehow, it has managed two course corrections and is pulsating

with gigantic amounts of thermonuclear and electromagnetic

energy."

    Lora chuckled to herself. "Sis has an overdeveloped

imagination. Working in the desert has sent her off the deep

end," she whispered. "Searching for some hair-brained ark, the

whole thing has scrambled her brains. And now she writes about

some guy named Wolf. When I get there, I'll straighten her out."

    "I heard that," Steve laughed. "Are you again fighting with

your sister, when she's not even here?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    133

    "What?" she asked, preoccupied with her own thoughts.

    "Your sister," he said. "I heard you talking about her and

that guy she called Wolf. And that part about some space ship, or

something, coming to earth, I know you‘re worried about her."

    "Wait till I get there," Lora growled. "I‘ll get her

straightened out."

    "She's okay," Steve said. "Besides her ideas of a space ship

coming to earth jives with my expectations of the Space

Brothers."

    "The Space Brothers?"

    "Yeah! I once read a pamphlet telling how the people who

seeded the earth with life will return one day. They will remove

all those who have become enlightened before civilization

destroys itself."

    "I prefer to believe science will do the job. Besides,

history is on the side of us 'don't worry' crowds. There‘s too

much stuff we have no control over."

    "That's what I like about you, complex and confusing. Give

me the good old days, when life was simpler and I didn't feel so

helpless. If this world's going to fall apart, I'm going to do my

part to make sure you and I don't go down with it." Steve slapped

the side of his hip. His hand came up holding an imaginary gun.

He squeezed off six imaginary shots, reloaded with an imaginary
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    134

clip and squeezed off six more.

    "I assume that's the El Presidenta?" she asked, referring to

the name of the Practical Shooting Technique.

    "Got to do better," he said. His face frowned with feigned

dissatisfaction.

    Lora gave a sigh of resignation. She heard this a hundred

times. "Boys!" she exclaimed. "Other men like golf, but not you.

It has to be shooting."

    "Yeah, but I'm getting better. They‘ll let me use real

ammunition in a year or two." His smile disappeared. "Seriously,

what irritates me is that no one knows what's happening. All they

can agree on is that rocks and ice-balls are smashing into the

earth. They jump from one extreme to the other. Someone says it‘s

God's judgment, and another gives you some white-washed feel

good, everything-will-be-all-right baloney."

    "Nothing like letting it out," Lora quipped. "You'll never

run out of things to be concerned over, but I do believe you're

going to run out of time."

    "Whatcha mean?"

    "Well when I first met you, you were into Transcendental

Meditation, Pyramid Power, EST, the Rosicrucians and Astras. You

are the most spiritual person I know. You even whistled songs

that I sang in my mind, sort of mind reading. Well you're out of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      135

all that New Age stuff and on a different soapbox now - survival.

Once this runs its course, you'll be into something just as

interesting. When you die," she shuddered at her words, "you'll

still be fighting imaginary enemies and the dangers to the

American dream."

       "Sure! If you‘re going to add all that into my equation." He

leaned toward her. "I'm just putty in your hands." He slid his

hand along her side.

       "And that's were you belong," she said. "When I finish my

masters, you've got to let me get you on a couch." She caught the

look in his eyes. "I mean to analyze you."

       "You may not like all you find." He shuffled closer. A

devilish grin filled his face.

       Ignoring him, she continued. "I'd like to know what happened

in your childhood that makes you so distrustful."

       "It's my nature. Something in the genes," he replied.

       "Yes. I can see your jeans," she replied as he slid off the

car.

       "Let's go back to the hotel."

       "Not now," she said and slapped at him playfully. "Later.

Right now I want to watch the meteors."

       "You know," growled Steve, irritated with her answer. "Your
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    136

sister thinks there's something prophetic about this meteor

stuff. I can see her pointing to that chart of hers. She‘d be

saying that this phenomenon fits in right here. I can't figure

out her rational. But I will say this for her. She is

entertaining. If she turns out to be right, I'll apologize in

triplicate."

    Lora smiled as his voice softened. After living through

repeated beatings by two college boyfriends, a bankruptcy and

hand-me-down clothes, she thanked the day Steve came into her

life. It's been instant attraction, and with him came order and

gentleness. He always said that getting two degrees in psychology

screwed up her mind. Maybe, she thought. But today, I'm light

years ahead of where I once was.

    "You big lug." She tapped him on the arm. "Let's go."

    A grin exploded on Steve's face. "Yeah. We got a long night

ahead of us."

                              *    *    *

    The one hundred-yard wide jagged rock and ice meteor

streaked into the atmosphere above southern China. The outer 20

yards vaporized in the five thousand degrees of friction heat.

Plummeting deeper, the meteor sizzled as superheated gases cooked

the rock like bacon on a hot griddle.   The frozen water around

the core exploded and added to the trail of debrie. Increasing
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    137

atmospheric pressures dug away more fragments. In a quarter of a

second, the largest rock, twenty-five yards across, became a

white hot mass. At an altitude of 100,000 feet, a giant sonic

boom sped toward the ground. The compressed sound wave cracked

walls and windows in most of the structures along its path.

    Streaking into the ground two miles south of the village of

Kekexili, in the western province of Tsinghai, villagers watched

in stunned disbelief as a streak of light obliterated a farm. The

accompanying sonic boom and shockwave knocked everyone to the

ground and disintegrated nearby homes. A quarter-mile wide crater

appeared with its northern wall rising 300 feet above the

surrounding farms.

    Billions of tons of boulders, dirt, trees, and bits of farm

animals propelled skyward. The morning sky turned black as

ejected debris blotted out the sunlight. An earthquake of

fractured, fluid, rolling earth disintegrated the village of 300

inhabitants. All life vanished as a mountain of soil descended

over the survivors and compacted.

    The tortured earth settled. Only the wind remained.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   138




    Chapter 12

    Ten thousand miles away, just above the sea in the Mid-

Atlantic Ocean, a small, one hundred-foot, a burning, fractured

rock and ice meteor exploded with the force of five thousand tons

of TNT. Spanish military radar pinpointed the exact spot as 600

miles north of the Cape Verde Island of Santo Antao.

         Ten miles west, the fishing crews operating a fleet of

vessels heard the sizzling meteor's sonic boom. They watched the

horizon explode and the ocean leap high into the sky. A giant

ocean swell rose and moved in their direction, and the blue

eastern sky turned gray. In moments a torrent of seawater rained

upon the ships and horrified crews.

    Fighting back panic, they managed to point their boats into

the direction of the explosion. Using all their mariner skills,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    139

they fought to keep their boats afloat as the huge wave lifted

and twisted their boats before sweeping on by.

    The rains ended. The skies cleared, and the ocean settled.

Each crew sent a frantic radio warning to Santa Antao. In minutes

the Atlantic coasts of Morocco, Spain and Portugal issued an

alert.

    North American Air Defense, NORAD, intelligence satellites,

and ground-based radar stations recorded the paths of the Chinese

and Atlantic meteorites. It came so fast that ground-based radar

operators did not understand what they saw. Now NORAD deep space

radar scans recorded a slow traveling mountain of rock, 750,000

miles away. Preliminary calculations indicated it would cross the

earth's orbit but miss the planet by 15,000 miles - too close for

comfort. That represented less than ten seconds of time between a

near miss and a traumatic collision.

                              *    *    *

    George Marselle, at the Johnson Space Center facilities of

NASA, outside Houston, Texas, studied the tracking report. The

tests must be wrong; yet, as he ran controlled data through his

program a second time, the computers repeated their answer. A

large fragment of the comet Kano-Ishikawa has entered the Centers

one million-mile radar scan of near space. The main portion of

the comet fragmented a month earlier as it circled the sun. Now

the large fragment now prepared to traverse the orbit of the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      140

earth.

       The French astrophysicist accepted the results and passed

the incoming radar data to the Center's cluster of supercomput-

ers.

       In fifteen minutes, at 2.8 billion calculations per second,

the computer downloaded the data to an overhead projector. Shaken

by what he understood, George sent an urgent warning to the duty

office and his supervisor.

       "No! Monsieur, this is not a false alarm," George said. His

voice rose to stress the importance of his find. "This time we've

discovered a very dangerous object. After the dual comets

reappeared from their journey around the sun, they must of have

collided with each other and produced millions of fragments. We

now have one of those large fragments on a collision course with

the earth."

       "Let's slow down, George," ordered his supervisor. "You‘re

going too fast. Are you sure it will hit?"

       "Yes Monsieur, but not exactly. The computers show a 60%

probability of a strike. If NORAD doesn't know about this, I

think we should send them a warning."

       "Now don't get excited. This thing could be another near

miss. We've discovered hundreds of these rocks. If I remember

right, a year ago someone got reprimanded because they over
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    141

reacted when a very small asteroid only came within 50,000

miles."

    George felt angry and impatient. "Come in, Monsieur. See the

plots. The computers do not lie."

    "Okay. Okay. Go over the data again. We might as well be

sure before we get the higher-ups involved."

    Gathering around the overhead projector, a growing crowd of

engineers and scientist watched as George sent the latest track-

ing data into the plot program. The image of the earth, moon and

the fragment appeared. A curving dotted line revealed the obje-

ct's path. Off to the right, a column of figures revealed the

fragment's vital statistics.

    "It's one-half mile wide and one mile long," someone said

from the back of the onlookers.

    "Yeah! It's shaped like a huge potato," another commented to

no one in particular. A ripple of laughter erupted, and then

vanished.

    "Hey George," called an astrophysicist, named Edgar, who

worked with George. "I've got something interesting. I've been

feeding the data into my simulator. Your rock is an accurate

representation of what we believe the core of these two comets

consisted of before they broke up. The computer shows a perfect

match at 62% water, 34% stone, and 4% iron. That fragment has to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    142

be from the core of one of those comets. The stone and iron

estimates point to that conclusion."

    "What does that mean, Monsieur?" inquired George. "Is it

still not a disaster?"

    "No, it may not be as devastating as first implied. It is

dangerous, but it may not be a huge disaster. I'll go out on a

limb and state that most of this fragment, if it does hit, will

explode high in the atmosphere. Of course, that alone will be a

tremendous blast, maybe something on the order of fifty megatons.

This explosion will come from the water within the comet."

    George looked around at the faces of his co-workers as Edgar

continued.

    "As the water sublimates and explodes, due to heat and

compression, say around 50,000 feet, it will cause the comet to

fragment. This is good, but it will have a devastating effect on

anything flying within a twenty-mile radius. As for objects on

the ground, it is possible that thousands of structures will

collapse. In addition, all combustible material, trees, grass,

trash, clothing, and newspaper will ignite out to fifty miles

from the detonation.

    "Next will come the stone core within the fragment. It may

shatter during the first explosion. Increasing atmospheric com-

pression might finish the job. Mind you all this will take place
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   143

within half a second. The core might detonate around 20,000 feet.

    "Some of the water and rock will strike the earth's surface.

It is possible we will see a multitude of small ground detona-

tions. Some may have the force equivalent of a kiloton of energy.

All will be very localized."

    "Monsieur! That sounds wonderful except for those who are

unfortunate enough to be under such a thing. Maybe it will be

over the ocean. What about the 4% composed of iron? Will it also

be destroyed by these other explosions?"

    "I'm afraid not," replied Edgar. "That's the rub in my

scenario. I think some will burn and evaporate, but the rest may

crash into the earth. It all depends on the distribution within

the comet. If the core is not rock but is composed of iron, it

will not compress," the astro-physicist grimaced and shrugged his

shoulders and added. "Then we have a serious problem."

    Edgar tapped his pencil on the terminal. "It's a guess, mind

you, but I think that a metal core of that size might result in

something equivalent to a two-thousand megaton explosion."

    "A what?" someone asked.

    "Yes," replied the scientist. "That little 4 percent will be

the equivalent of an all out global nuclear exchange. At ground

level, a crater fifty miles across might be produced. I won't

even guess at the effect on the Teutonic plates. As for the dust
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    144

thrown into the atmosphere, I shudder at the thought of a nuclear

winter. Our hope is that the earth's gravitational forces will

break this thing into smaller chunks. Then my worst case scenario

may not occur."

    "Another set of figures are coming in!" George called as his

terminal signaled the completion of lengthy calculations.

    "It is traveling at the rate of 100 kilometers a second,

about sixty-five miles a second. If it continues at its present

speed, the fragment will be within the gravitational pull of the

moon within two hours."

    He looked at the data spewing from the high-speed printer.

"We should have a fix on its trajectory in about fifteen

minutes." The phone rang and he picked up the receiver. "NORAD

has been informed," he said.

    "We'll have a dedicated link within minutes," said someone

in the crowd of scientists. "We‘ll be sharing data in a few

seconds."

    George watched the overhead projector flicker as the plotter

jumped to life. They watched the two circles being drawn, the

earth and moon. A dashed line began growing at the edge of the

display. The path of the comet came close to the moon, changed

its trajectory, and then ended at the larger circle.

    "They're verifying the data," said a communication expert
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    145

working with NORAD. The President of the United States will be

informed within minutes."

    Over the next hour, George, NASA, NORAD, and a growing

number of scientists plotted and replotted the fragment's path.

Each set of computations confirmed the accuracy of the previous.

After the moon's gravity adjusted its path, the fragment's odds

of striking the earth increased to ninety-seven percent.

    "NORAD has prepared a warning for the nation. They've asked

permission to transmit," called a voice in the background.

    "It's being recalled by presidential order," he added a

moment later. "Washington is fearful that the ensuing panic will

turn the nation into parking lots. The President is demanding

more information before he authorizes a warning."

    George looked at the men monitoring the data. "At present,

no one can give a precise location for the impact. If it hits

thousands of miles away from the continent, any warning would be

counter-productive. Currently, our best calculations point to a

three million square mile strike zone somewhere within the North

Pacific."

    "The moon has it," someone called. "Radar is tracking the

fragment's path. The moon has accelerated the fragment to seventy

miles per second. It has also separated and fragmented into

hundreds of pieces. Right now I'm following four of the largest."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    146

    Nervous NASA engineers passed the latest data through a

series of plot programs. They waited, drank coffee and bit their

fingernails. All watched the computer draw a map of the

northeastern Pacific Ocean.

    George read the latest data on the fragment's condition.

"The chance of impact is now one-hundred percent."

    "A hundred percent," repeated subdued voices.

    "One of the larger pieces has accelerated to 6,300

kilometers a minute. It is calculated that it will strike within

an hour. In fifteen minutes, we will identify the impact zone.

We've also found something new. This mass is being followed by a

second. The other is continuing to break into smaller pieces. I

estimate we have over one hundred fragments. Many are being

guessed at 50 to 100 meters in size."

    No one spoke. George's heart sank as he now realized he was

reading about the end of civilization. He reread the data. "This

second object is ten seconds behind the first. That is why we did

not discover it. The second mass is smaller, about two hundred by

one hundred meters. The computers are now telling us that this

piece along with all the others will miss the earth."

    "How far will they miss us?" asked Edgar.

    "Not very far," answered George. "Maybe three hundred

kilometers. The second object is tens seconds behind the first.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    147

Since the earth is moving at 30 kilometers per second, the earth

will have moved 300 kilometers when the object crosses its path.

A third one will miss us by a greater distance. As for the rest,

they will be counted as a near miss. But, other will crash into

the earth's atmosphere. Most will explode high up, say at 50 to

60 kilometers. The explosions will surely be seen by all below.

Think of a one megaton bomb exploding high above your head. You

will see the light. Yet you will hear no explosion. It will be

spectacular and frightening at the same time."

    "As for the three largest fragments? We must presume

catastrophic consequences. The largest will hit with fearful

effect. The second smaller one will hit thousands of miles away

from the first. The third fragment may take up orbit around the

earth," warned Edgar.

    "Monsieur, it appears so. The earths is about to have a new

moon."

    "Keep tracking all the pieces," ordered Edgar to the radar

and computer teams within the room. "I want to know the orbit of

our new moon. It may also become very dangerous. Right now let's

concentrate on the fragments we know are going to hit us."

    Twenty-five minutes later someone said, "The President of

the United States has authorized a civil defense warning to the

states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. The Canadi-
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    148

ans have issued a similar warning for the province of British

Columbia."

                              *     *   *

    Lora and Steve rushed from the hotel's lobby just as the

AIR-PORTER driver closed the shuttle doors. He started to laugh

when he saw Steve's face. "Running late?" the driver asked.

    Lora replied in a loud voice. "We're going to United. Flight

1607. Got a six-thirty to catch."

    In minutes they headed south on Highway 101. "It's going to

be a beautiful morning," commented Lora as she studied the

brightening sky.

    Steve stared out the window, oblivious to everything. When

the shuttle arrived at the terminal, he nudged Lora and said, "We

can save time if you go to the check-in line. I'll grab the bags

and follow."

    Lora jumped from the shuttle and ran to check-in. After

check-in, both hurried to security. A half an hour later they

arrived at the gate.

    Lora caught a glimpse of John Demosthenes. The television

evangelist, who was leading the tour to Israel, stood next to a

flight attendant counting his flock.

    "I hope this is a good idea," Lora said with a tremble.

"Neither of us is religious. Look around. Most of these people
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   149

know each other. Suppose I say something wrong? Suppose they ask

us questions?"

    Steve squeezed her hand. "Hush," he whispered. "Your voice

is getting loud." He scanned the travelers. "This will give us a

great documentary of our visit." Taking her hand, he pulled her

toward the pastor and turned his video camera on. "We‘re going to

do just fine."

    They stood before Demosthenes as Lora rattled off a series

of nervous questions before introducing herself. "What do you

think about that stuff in Syria and Iran? Do you think it could

happen again? The shooting down of that Saudi aircraft last week

has me on edge. Is it safe? I've read that the Israeli-PLO peace

treaty has come apart. There won't be any shooting, will there?"

    Steve squeezed her hand and kissed her on the forehead.

"She's out of breath," he said to the pastor. "We've been wanting

to go to Israel for a long time. My girlfriend‘s sister is

working there; some project to uncover the Ark-of-The-Covenant."

    "Oh? You two will be traveling with us on part of the tour.

I've wanted to meet you. Your itinerary looks most interesting. I

hope we'll have a chance to talk."

    The flight attendant turned to the pastor and asked, "Are

all your people here?"

    He nodded yes before turning to Steve. "We'll talk later.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   150

I'd like to hear more." Then he gave Lora a reassuring look. "I

don't think we have anything to worry about. The military

situation is never as bad as the newspaper make it sounds. Every-

thing will be just fine. Israel is still one of the safest places

to visit."

    Steve handed their tickets to the flight attendant just as

the earthquake warning sirens sounded. "What are those?" he

asked.

    "I'm not sure," replied the flight attendant. "Please get

aboard."

    Steve looked at Lora and headed down the walkway. "I'll feel

a lot better after we get airborne."

    "The captain has been requested to leave the terminal as

soon as possible," said the flight attendant at the door of the

aircraft.

    Lora heard someone say that a meteorite struck somewhere in

China. The feeling of impending danger, which she felt at the

beach, swept across her. She grabbed Steve's hand and squeezed.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

    Steve reached for his camera bag. "If a meteor is about to

hit the bay, maybe I can get a picture of it."

         Lora gave a faint moan and closed her eyes.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 151

    "Civil defense is asking that all flights depart the city,"

she heard someone say. "The radio says everyone should get out of

the buildings and make their way to the nearest park."

    The captain‘s voice interrupted Lora. "Flight attendants,"

he said. "Get everyone seated. We‘re backing out."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    152




    Chapter 13

    George Marshall, and the room of scientists, watched the

computer-enhanced radar screen. At ten thousand miles the tidal

action from the earth's gravity fractured the main body of the

fragment into a dozen segments. Twenty seconds later everything

hit the atmosphere.

    One hundred miles above the Hawaiian Island of Maui, bil-

lions of hydrogen atoms collided with the pieces as they slammed

into the upper atmosphere. The compression of near space gases

accelerated within a millisecond from minuscule to catastrophic.

    Superheated ice and rock ripped the smaller fragments apart

like a pressure cooker exploding its contents throughout a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    153

kitchen. The pieces vaporized, leaving brilliant white trails in

the sky. Other pieces exploded with the force of small nuclear

bombs. Very few of the fragments survived the plunge toward the

lower atmosphere. Later, millions of surviving pieces rained

harmlessly into the ocean.

    Within the main body of the comet, stiffening fingers of air

resistance gouged out chunks of the central mass. A glowing tail

developed that left burning embers reaching back for three

thousand miles. Giant shock waves and soundless nuclear-like

explosions sped toward the ground. All sound vanished in the near

vacuum three hundred thousand feet above the ground.

    By one hundred thousand feet, the plunging mass-produced

concussion wave reached 300 pounds per square inch and swept the

air clear for twenty miles on both sides of its speeding path.

Aircraft, steel skinned freighters, and wooden pleasure boats

disintegrated. The tail grew to six thousand miles as it streaked

toward the Northern California coast.

    Two hundred miles west of San Francisco, a hundred fathoms

below the surface, Captain Zurkov, of the Russian Typhoon class

submarine, Khar'Kov, left the bridge of his technological wonder.

His mapping assignment of underwater canyons west of San Francis-

co was complete.

    He entered his cabin and picked up a cup of dark English
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    154

tea, when he heard a thunderous, mind-chilling roar. Before he

could reach for the intercom, the sub jerked sideways, threw him

against the bulkhead. His ship gave a chilling groan.

    Stunned, Zurkov picked himself up off the deck and steadied

himself by grabbing the bolted seat. It shot away from him as he

smashed against the steel wall. The screeching of twisting metal

filled his quarters.

    Groggy and stunned, blood streaming from his face, he

managed to steady himself before saying aloud, "It has to be

another submarine."

    Before Zurkov reached the intercom, he heard the deafening

sounds of his ship being torn apart. He watched in disbelief as

the steel plate of his cabin bowed inward. Stretching toward him

the steel split at the seam. A wall of water swept him off his

feet. It quickly became futile as he tried to hyperventilate,

hoping somehow to reach a safe area in the sub.

    In a blink ocean pressures reached one hundreds pounds per

square inch crushing his skull, lungs and body.

    The lifeless ship sank toward the sterile ocean floor. At

500 fathoms forces beyond comprehension hit the sub from below

and snapped the ship in two. Two lifeless sections of the Russian

submarine, Khar'Kov shot upward.

    An exploding ocean carried the two thousand tons of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    155

submarine into the air. Both sections were flung one-half mile

apart as the main body of ocean shot into the stratosphere. The

remains of the Khar'Kov splashed into a churning sea bound for

its final rest. Moments later, rain, fish, and massive

stratospheric chunks of ice cascaded into the ocean.

    The metal core of the comet punched into the planet‘s

mantle. Waves of gigantic seismic waves raced into the earth‘s

core. Lateral concussion waves, traveling six hundred miles an

hour, swept outward. Geological faults by the thousands ruptured

as immense seismic sparks ignited them to life.

       Radar stations along the California coast identified the

  point of impact 223 miles west-northwest of San Francisco.

                              *    *    *

    Sixteen minutes later, a thunderous explosion swept across

San Francisco. At Flight 1607, as it moved back from the Jetway,

a compressed sound wave hit the aircraft with a massive thump.

    Steve shot a glance toward Lora and saw the concern on her

face. He suppressed his anxiety and smiled.

    "This is the captain speaking. Everything is okay. Nothing

has hit our aircraft. It appears that a strong sonic boom has

pushed through the area. We will be airborne in a few minutes."

    Steve shook his head and stared past Lora at the window. All

he saw was the morning ground fog, and members of the ground crew
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    156

looking up. "They're looking up into the sky. Maybe it was a

jet?"

    The captain's voice sounded again over the intercom. "We've

been informed that there's been a tremendous explosion off the

coast. We are in no immediate danger. For safety, ground control

has requested that we leave immediately."

    Before he finished speaking, the aircraft rolled toward the

runway.

    Steve tightened his seat belt. "Well it wasn't us. Thank

God."

    They reached the runway and Lora watched another aircraft on

a parallel strip accelerate. The sounds of Flight 1607's engines

increasing in power and filled the cabin before the other

aircraft disappeared from view.

    "First time I've seen two aircraft take off at the same

time," she said in amazement. "I hope we both turn away from each

other."

    "This has either to be a mistake or something very serious,"

Steve replied. "They don't do things like this. Whatever happened

made them change the rules." He looked out the window as the

aircraft picked up speed. "Come-on, baby. Let's get airborne."

    On the intercom, the second officer introduced himself.

"We've been informed that a large meteor has smashed into the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    157

ocean two hundred miles west of San Francisco. The sonic boom we

all heard appears to have been produced by the impact. We do not

have a lot of information. I've set channels four, six and nine

to San Francisco radio stations."

    "And I wanted to get a picture," said Steve.

    Lora listened to Channel Nine as a grim look covered Steve's

face. "We'd all be dead if that thing lands closer," she said and

squeezed his hand. "I'm glad we're off the ground."

    "Two hundred miles is a long way off," replied Steve. "Still

it might trigger an earthquake."

    "Do you think your friend will be all right?" asked Lora.

    Steve looked down at the city. "I hope so." He pushed his

earphones close to his ears and switched to Channel Six. Staring

out the window to the east, he watched the steep mountains become

more rugged as their aircraft gained altitude and speed. Although

he wasn't very religious, to him, San Francisco epitomized the

nation that turned its back on the founding traditions.

    He loved reading about the Revolutionary War and the War

Between the States. Military history and war gaming sat alongside

his greatest joys. Through the games, he became aware of the

thinking, religious and moral beliefs of the principal players.

    News reports began filling his ears and he turned to Lora.

"Listen to this! Dozens of volcanoes throughout Alaska have
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    158

erupted. Major earthquakes are striking the Aleutian Islands.

Volcanoes are exploding all along the chain. Three volcanoes in

Canada have erupted." He reached for the flight magazine to find

a map of North America. "Canada has volcanoes? I didn't know

that. This is crazy. I thought it was just a meteor that hit the

ocean." He shook his head. "It must have been a big one. I think

it hit a fault line. There goes Mount St. Helen again."

    Lora listened to her channel. "Whatever's happening it's

also happening all along the Coast. Vancouver and Seattle are

reporting earthquakes."

    Steve listened to a different channel and rephrased what he

just heard. "From Coos Bay, Oregon, wherever that is," he added,

"to Valdez, Alaska, six hundred miles of coastline are being hit

by massive earthquakes." He listened some more before continuing.

"Some areas have registered over 8.7 to 9.5 on the Richter Scale.

Seattle and Vancouver are badly damaged. Buildings and bridges

have collapsed. Electricity is out. Roads are impassible."

    Lora waved a hand for him to stop. "This has to be a joke,"

she replied. "Like Orson Wells and his War of the Worlds."

    "I don't know about that, but I'm glad we‘re up here. I hope

San Francisco is okay."

    He pressed his headset closer to his ears and looked down at

the Sierra Madeira Mountains. "The coast between Aberdeen,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   159

Washington, and Cape Fattery, Washington, has dropped into the

sea. Right now it is has dropped one hundred feet and may go

lower.

    "The Chehalis River has separated wider. A large crack

through the land reaching to the city of Olympia has opened. The

waters in the Puget Sound are now flowing south." He listened a

while longer. "The area around Gray's Harbor has dropped into the

ocean. Six thousand square miles of the American Northwest is

changing shape."

    Lora reached for Steve's hand. "Here it is! It's beginning!"

she said excitedly. "San Francisco now having an earthquake.

Quick, switch to Nine."

    Through the static Steve heard, "...waves of large magnitude

tremors are rolling through the area. I-880, which had been

reconstructed and strengthened after the quake of '91, has

collapsed again. This earthquake has to be greater than an 8

magnitude. Buildings are swaying."

    Lora heard the reporter sigh. "The shaking has ended. It's

over. The city has survived again," he said with apparent relief.

A loud noise fills Lora's earphones. "Wow!" the voice says. "That

was big! We have to get out of the building." The reporter yells

something undeciperahable and the report ends. Only the crackle

of empty airwaves follows.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   160



    In the San Francisco Bay area, homes collapsed by the rows.

Residents heeding the numerous warnings hurried to the park

areas. Those who lingered died, buried under the debris.

    In the downtown business center, large skyscrapers and high

rise condominiums swayed like wheat in the wind. Some smashed

into each other. Office workers, slow to leave, found themselves

flung with their desks through the thick plate glass windows.

    Without warning, the buildings jumped upward five feet. In

the crowded parks, people smashed to the ground. Many lay injured

with fractured ankles or twisted knees.

    Building ripping apart with a horrendous sound signaled the

end. In the business area, those caught unprotected in the

streets received a shower of glass shards and concrete. Natural

gas fires erupted, and explosions raced through the rubble.

Bubbling fireballs of burning gasses transformed themselves into

balls of black smoke.



    Speeding from the impact area, a huge tidal wave swept

toward the West Coast, British Colombia, and Alaska. Propelled by

the equivalent of a three hundred megaton TNT explosion, the wave

grew in height as it rolled across the narrow continental shelf.

Four hundred feet high and one mile thick, the waters swept into

the coastal towns between Cape Mnemonic and Santa Maria. Tsunami
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    161

warnings were quickly issued for the whole Pacific basin. In

Hawaii, the governor and civil defense authorities issued ordered

demanding the evacuation of all northern coastlines.

    Earth crushing tremors smashed against the California coast.

The mighty Coastal and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges shook, com-

pressed and rose two feet then fell ten feet. The Pacific

tectonic plate broke free from the North American land locks at

Point Conception and Cape Mnemonic. West of the San Andreas Fault

everything slipped northward three hundred feet and then quickly

shifted fifty feet west.

    Relieved of the tremendous pressures exerted by the Pacific

plate pushing east, the coastal mountains shifted westward thirty

feet and pulled the San Joaquin Valley and eastern desert behind

it. Both dropped in elevation. A five hundred-mile long fifty

feet deep depression formed through Nevada, Idaho and Utah. Ten

thousand rural and major roads fractured. A thousand bridges

collapsed.

    Fault lines running along the length of the Cascade and

Sierra Nevada ranges separated, heaved, or slipped. At Mammoth

Lakes, in the high Sierras, the extinct volcano seventy miles

northeast of Fresno rumbled to life.

    The floors of every high mountain lakes along the volcano‘s

slopes, along with Crowley Lake ten miles to the east, fractured

and drained their waters through ever widening cracks as the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   162

Sierra mountain range heaved and twisted.

    Waters that took a thousand years to drain through two miles

of rock spilt in mass through enlarging fissures to the magma

deep below the mountain.

    A fiery subterranean cavern of superheated lava and molten

sulfur awaited the deluge of water gushing through the fissures.

It vaporized on contact with the lava into its components of

oxygen and hydrogen. The water that did not sublimate fast enough

developed pressurized steam.

    Huge hydrogen detonations deep within Mammoth Mountain

separated the fissures wider until a half cubic mile of water

rushed in mass into the subterranean furnace. Catapulted by the

reaction of water to two fourteen hundred degree heat, the

interior of the mountain became a giant pressure cooker.

    The mountain gave its final warnings of the approaching

catastrophe as steam vents gushed into the sky midway up the

slopes.

    Scalding, brilliant white, high-pressure vapor sprayed into

the crisp blue sky and sent camper and hiker hurrying back to

their cars, hoping that their time did not run out. Resident and

visitor in the town of Mammoth sped down the road trying to get

away from the ravaged mountain.

    Deep within the mountain, more explosions ripped apart the

guts from the mountain. Yet, through its sheer weight, the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   163

mountain held. Then strong aftershocks swept in from the Pacific

Ocean and changed the lives of the panicking visitor and

residents forever.

    A cataclysmic explosion produced by compressed steam,

exploding hydrogen and burning sulfur shot upward. Two cubic

miles of mountain disappeared in an eruption of unparalleled

intensity.

    In the city of Fresno, everyone looked northeast as a

bubbling black cloud raced upwards. A whitish expanding ring of a

concussion wave appeared for a second, spread outward, and then

disappeared.

    The remaining half of the mountain transformed itself into a

ten mile wide boiling caldera of volcanic gases, lava and smoke.

Raising above the ocean a nuclear-like plume of ash churned into

the stratosphere.

    The second fragment skimmed the upper atmosphere. Forming an

elliptical path, the fragment circled the earth once and sped

downward toward Africa.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   164




    Chapter 14

    Flight 1607 was flying over Fresno, California, when Lora

spied the dark cloud bubbling above the eastern horizon.

    "Look!" she said. Lora pulled Steve's arm to get him closer

to the window. "Can you see it? That black cloud. It wasn't there

a minute ago."

    "It looks like a nuclear explosion," he said. Looking down

at the city, he asked. "I wonder if they see it down there?"

    The aircraft's airborne radar picked up the approaching

shockwave just before it hit. Compensating for the movement, the

ship‘s autopilot re-set the craft back to its original heading.

    Slammed sideways by the force, a cup of coffee held by his

co-pilot, Mel Turner, splashed across the face of Captain Frank

Wallace.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    165

    Wallace yelped in pain as the hot drink burned his face and

eyes. The co-pilot apologized and the half-empty cup fell away as

both concentrated on controlling the aircraft.

    A moment later, embarrassed by his sloppiness, Turner

reached for the cup. The aircraft rocked again, and his hand

smashed against the auto pilot switches. In horror, Turner

watched the switches disengage.

    Still wincing in pain, his right hand hurried to reset the

autopilot, but it was too late. The aircraft shuddered, rolled

right, and dove toward the ground.



    Steve held his breath and felt his face turn hot. He held

onto the arms of his seat, fighting the wrenching feeling of

weightlessness. It helped, until one of the armrests came up.

    He saw Lora's hand. The bulging white knuckles told him

volumes. He smiled a sickly grin. A quick flash went through his

mind about his seat belt, but the belt held firm. Another glance

told him that Lora‘s seatbelt was tight.

    "Oh God!" Lora cried. Then her voice got lost among the

screams of two hundred passengers. The overhead storage doors

opened and closed and then opened again, spewing baggage

throughout the cabin.

    A woman in a pink suit screamed for help as she bounced

along the ceiling. Her ankle hooked between two opened overhead
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    166

doors and held tight. She floated above everyone for a second,

and then fell onto a passenger seated below. Steve heard the

crack in her leg.

    Among the screams, he saw other passengers smash against the

walls. The front of the cabin seemed to be slipping from side to

side. Free falling and fish-tailing the aircraft plummeted to the

ground.

    Next, he spied the flight attendant holding onto the back of

a seat. A refreshment cart slammed into her side. Steve heard her

groan as she lost her grip. Tossed against the opposite wall, she

fell into the aisle. Luggage, magazines and spilled drinks

cascaded around her.

    Cries filled the air as everyone's head jerked to one side.

The aircraft's yawing stopped. Hundreds of oxygen masks popped

from their compartments, dangling like yellow jellyfish.

    Steve grabbed a mask and tugged on it to get the air

flowing. Dribbling perspiration made it from his eyes and made

him wipe hi nose. The screams of other passengers made his body

hot. Life was out of control and he felt helpless. A hundred

yellow masks danced above his head with every shift of the

massive aircraft.

    Life was ending and he wanted to be home. "I'm sorry mom,"

he moaned. "I'm sorry dad. I'm sorry for all the hurt I've caused

you both. Other people flashed before his eyes. "I wish I could
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    167

tell you all how sorry I am. I didn't want to hurt anyone.

Forgive me."

    In desperation he grabbed an oxygen mask and pulled it over

his face. They said to tug on the tube, he remembered.

    Taking deep breath he felt a little better, but he was still

going to die.

    The thought of praying to god appeared, but he didn't know

what god to pray too. "So many gods and so little time."

    Jesus came to mind, but is he god? What about Allah, Vishnu,

Buddha? How about a tree or a rock?

    "God if you're real, help us."

    Again he didn't know who existed. How about his cherished

Space Brothers? Do they really exist?

    Confused, he grabbed the mask floating before his petrified

wife. In seconds he hooked it over her head and gave a tug. "Take

a few deep breaths."

    A little more relaxed, he placed his hand over hers and

began patting her fingers. "Slow your breathing," he yelled above

the screams. "It'll clear your head." Then he gave her hand a

squeeze and said a quiet prayer. This time he picked Jehovah. It

was a name he once heard. Jehovah was supposed to be the God of

the Jews and the Christians. At least that is what he thought.



    Captain Wallace snapped orders. "Landing gear down!"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      168

       Turner reacted immediately. "Landing gear down."

       Wallace then reached for the Speed Brake handle. "Reverse

thrust light lit. Send code."

       "Emergency code being sent. Reno has us on radar. Fresno Air

Traffic is talking to us. Everyone's having serious problems."

       Turner called out the readings. "Airspeed 520, Pitch 60,

Descent 12,100, Altitude 22,000. We've lost 11,000."

       Sweat rolled from Wallace‘s forehead. "Yaw is under

control," he said. "We've solved one problem. Let's see if we can

control our pitch. Let's have a read-out."

       "Airspeed 560, Pitch 55; Descent 8,000; Altitude 16,000."

       "Notify Las Vegas we're in trouble."

       The co-pilot continued his series of readings. "Airspeed

540; pitch 50; decent 6,000; altitude 12,000. Vegas says that

they've suffered no serious damage, but quakes are shaking things

up."

       "Oh great!" said the captain. "It'll be every man for him-

self."

       "I've finished another emergency transmission," interrupted

Turner. "Airspeed 520, Pitch 45, Descent 4,500. We've got to make

it. We've got to."

       Captain Wallace looked ahead. "If those mountains don't get

us."

       The spinning altimeter said the desert was less than 10,000
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    169

feet below, the distance decreasing at an alarming rate. In the

main cabin, flight attendants tried to help those laying in the

aisle. They carried their unconscious coworker to a vacant seat

and strapped her in.



    Lora fought the panic screaming within herself as bile rose

in her throat. In desperation, she forced herself to take a deep

breath, held it, then took another.

    Out the window, she saw the approaching mountains, and

prayed. Her eyes, drawn to the barren peaks reaching toward her,

marveled at their clarity. "It's hopeless," she mumbled. She

wanted to look away, but the desire to know was too great.

    Steve watched Lora begin rocking back and forth. Her knees

crept up, even with the lap belt cinched tight.

    "I know we're going to die," she blurted then checked

herself. "Shut up," she said with increasing determination and

forced her legs back to the floor. "I won't scream, I won't." Her

right hand tightened another notch in a death grip on the

armrest. "This can't be real," she murmured.

    Steve patted her rigid hand.

    Her glassy eyes turned toward his. Deep furrows creased her

forehead. "I'm sorry," she cried. "If we didn't make this flight

we'd be safe. She looked at her husband. His mind was elsewhere.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   170

    "You okay?" she asked in a whisper.

    "I just heard a voice," he answered with amazement. "Someone

just told me we'd all be okay."

    Lora listened to the cries of the others. "Who told you

that?"

    "I think God did. I don't know, but the words seemed so

clear. I didn't hear anything else." Feeling better he felt

himself relaxing. "I once read about people about to die," he

remarked. "It was something Hemingway wrote. Some about to be

executed couldn't move their legs. With some, their bowels

loosened. Some went blind, crazy, or smiled. Hemingway revealed

people rebelling against death. If we get out of this, I need to

do a little less goofing around and smell a lot more roses. But

first, I need to videotape this so I can watch it a hundred times

and remember." He reached for his camera and felt his stomach

convulse.

    "Breathe deeper," she ordered as she watched his face turn

white. "Take another. Once more. Don't overdo it. Guess it's my

turn to help."

    Steve cleared his throat and whispered, "I love you."

    "I'll miss you too," she whispered as tears flowed down her

cheeks. She saw in her mind's eye the single mother and her kids

sitting in the car back at the beach, but the screams around her

overpowered the image. Snapping shut her eyes she tried her best
  ISAELI HEAT     171

to concentrate.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    172




    Chapter 15

    "Remember when we went snorkeling?" Steve asked. "We were in

Maui. I became separated from everyone and went too deep."

    In his mind, he replayed the image and saw himself looking

up toward the surface. He even saw his fingers clawing for the

boogie board. "My lungs almost busted," he said. "I felt panic

like I never knew." He stopped talking and shook his head.

    "When I pulled myself to the surface, I gasped for air and

fought to stay up. I saw the boat two hundred yards away. I also

looked away so no one saw my face. No one knew how close I came

to drowning."

    "You told me about it," she added without opening her eyes.

"It was frightening."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   173

    "I survived that near-death experience, and we're going to

survive this one too," he said. His voice filled with excited

conviction as he lifted the video camera. "I‘m going to document

everything. When this is over, we're going to have something more

than memories."

    "What?" she asked and opened her eyes. "We re about to die

and you want to take pictures?"

    Steve smiled and hurried to get his camera ready. "A lot of

strange things have happened in my life," he continued. "As a

kid, I realized that God, or something like a God, was with me. I

always found money whenever I needed some. I remember finding

five-dollar bills, over and over again, until I took it for

granted. It all ended when I saw a billfold lying in an alley and

I walked past it. After that day I stopped finding money."

    "Shut up! You‘re nuts! You're driving me crazy," Lora

clenched her jaws. "What‘s gotten into you?" she yelled. "All you

want to do is talk." She swung her arms in anger, trying to hit

his face.

    She quit in disgust when all she did was hit his arm.

Wrapping her arms around her chest she began rocking.

    Steve ignored her action and thought of another time. At the

same time he concentrated on the voice and the message. "Everyone

is going to survive." The voice seemed so real.

    "I used to go swimming when I was twelve," he said. "Two
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   174

guys tried to pull me into deeper water. Something inside me said

to sway sideways with whoever was pulling. I did, and they

couldn't budge me. I believe a spirit force told me what to do."

    He pointed the camera straight ahead and began recording the

pandemonium in the cabin.

    "Sounds like you‘re having a jail house conversion to me,"

said Lora in total disgust. Her lips frowned and she closed her

eyes when she saw the approaching mountains. Somehow she managed

to growl, "Your story ain‘t making those mountains go away." She

opened her eyes and felt sick. "We're going to die. I don't want

to die. I want to go home."

    He saw her cringe in fear and thought about the mountains.

"Don't worry about them. Just stick with me, Babe," he said.

Aware of his flippant tone, he looked up at the ceiling. "Sorry,

God. What I mean is that I feel we're going to be fine." He

zoomed his recorder onto the line of dangling oxygen masks as

they swayed from side to side.

    He then turned to Lora. "The stuff I just remembered have

relaxed me. I can‘t explain it. I forgot all of them until now.

Everything‘s going to work out. Watch and see."

    Lora shook her head as if to say she half-heartedly believed

him. Feeling the bile rising in her throat, she hoped she

wouldn't get sick. Glancing out the window to gather her senses

she then turned to Steve. Looking at him bouncing in his seat, or
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    175

was it herself, she felt her stomach spasm. It took all her

willpower to keep from throwing up.

    "If you‘re not right, what am I going to do about it?" she

mumbled. "I don't want to die. I can feel jagged pieces of metal

cutting through my skin. We‘re all going to die."

    The hysteria she felt growing in her was driving her insane.

She grabbed her head with her hands. Knowing that no one would

pay attention to her, she screamed.

    Steve put down his camera and pulled her toward him. Patting

her head, he then stroked her forehead. It was cold and damp.

    Lora‘s hands came up in anger and pushed his arms away.

"Leave me alone," she yelled. "Go back to your stupid movies."

                              *       *   *



    On the tortured slopes of Mammoth Mountain, iridescent balls

of superheated gases flowed to the distant valley.   Minutes

earlier a massive overpressure from the explosion uprooted trees

and demolished buildings. Dense choking superheated ash now fell

so thick you could not see your out stretched hands. Glowing in

the impenetrable fog six brilliant lights appeared. Those

residents who somehow survived the initial blast were chocked by

over-heated ash. Some may have witnessed the hundred-foot balls

of incandescent gas rolling toward them. Like half-inflated

balloons, the all-consuming plasma of three thousand-degree heat
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    176

rolled through the remains of the Mammoth Ski Resort. One ball

flowed over the steel structure of the Number One chairlift‘s

surviving base tower. The steelwork evaporated. Glowing puddles

of molten metal remained. Another ball rolled through the

shattered remains of the steel, concrete, and wood main lodge. A

brilliant flash obliterated everything.

    Fed by fresh fuel, the ball brightened and enlarged. It then

rolled into the melted asphalt parking lot. Now tilted up at a

thirty-degree angle, the newly formed ridge arrested all six

balls of consuming death. They coalesced, like puddles of living

mercury, forming a crescent of un-penetrable heat.

    High above, at the lip of the newly formed caldera, thick

clouds of poisonous sulfuric acid sent eerie yellow fingers of

fumes toward the valley. The few luckless souls, human and

animal, who survived the explosion, the earthquakes and

superheated gas balls, found themselves facing clouds of flesh-

eating sulfuric acid.

                              *    *      *

    Plummeting through the sky, in a desperate attempt to regain

control of his aircraft, Captain Wallace increased engine thrust.

"Hope the wings stay on," he said. His forehead frowned and he

began whistling.

    Turner called out; "Altimeter just went below 8,000.

    We're at 560 knots. We've got thirty seconds."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   177

    "More than enough time." came the captain's reply. He tried

to remember every detail of his simulator training. Both men

gripped the flight wheels until their knuckles turned white. The

co-pilot braced his feet against the control panel.

    Wallace looked straight ahead. "Okay, let's pull ‗em."

    Both pilots hauled back on their wheels. What they felt was

a shuddering vibration, but the wheels in their hands did not

yeld.

    Turner lifted his feet and braced them against the control

panel until his knees locked. His safety harness held him firm as

his arms tried to push his body through the seat. "It's not

moving," he yelled.

    The control panel caved in, but Turner kept pushing.

    "Keep pulling the wheel," yelled Captain Wallace. "Give it

time. Give it time."

    Turner‘s eyes stared wide at the mountains as he pulled with

all his strength.

    "It's moving," Wallace yelled. "I just felt it. Keep

pulling."

    "I feel it," exclaimed an excited Turner. "It vibrating but

I think it's moving."

    "Stats?" Wallace called.

    "Airspeed 630, Pitch 35, Descent 9, Altitude 3."

    "Keep pulling," said the Captain. "Don't let up."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    178

    "2,500. We're still descending," Turner yelled. He continued

to force the controls back. "If we don't get the stick back,

we're all dead."



    At two thousand feet, the craggy details of the mountains

became all too clear to Lora. Time was in slow motion and she

hated the agony. "Look at this." She said and tried to compose

herself by pulling Steve's hand. "I can see someone standing by a

truck."

    Steve looked past her and out the window. "The ground's

closer," he said without concern, though he beginning to worry.

He tried to get his camera pointed to the ground and to record

the truck, but the effort proved hopeless. Besides, Lora was in

the way.

    He sat back and saw an incredulous look on Lora‘s face. He

bit his lip to keep from laughing.

    Lora stared at Steve. "You've gone nuts and shut out

reality," she screamed, then grabbed her stomach. "I can feel my

stomach quivering."

    "We'll be okay," he said softly. "But I too wish this would

end. When‘s this crate going to get straightened out?" he yelled.

Feeling better he sat back in his seat and threw a punch at the

seat in front of him. He hit it again, again and again.

    "Feeling better," Lora smirked. "What's that about?" she
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    179

asked. "Don't tell me you‘re breaking apart. I‘m glad to see

you‘re human."

    Steve never replied. He sat in his seat and stared at

nothing. Maybe he was wrong.

                               *   *      *

    The aircraft passed one thousand feet, and both pilots felt

the stiffness in the elevator end. A moment later, the controls

moved toward them.

    "We've got it," smiled Captain Wallace as his craft changed

the angle of descent. "Just like a giant string attached to the

wings. Don't overdo it," he said. His voice became soft. "We have

it under control. Go just as fast as we can do safely."

    Both men saw a jagged mountain peak pass a short distance

away.

    "Three hundred feet," the captain said. He sat back drained

of energy. "Maybe it‘s time to retire."

    Gently, then rapidly, Flight 1607 climbed away from the

desert.

    "This is your Captain," said Wallace. He gathered his

strength and made an announcement over the intercom. "I give my

congratulations to everyone. We made it. Our aircraft has been

re-routed to Las Vegas where we will land, and get medical

treatment for the injured and then check the physical status of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    180

our aircraft. The estimated time of landing is in forty-five

minutes. I have set Channel Six to Fresno‘s strongest radio

station in hopes of hearing what caused our incident. The

aircraft is now performing flawlessly. I shall keep everyone

informed of any changes." He shut the intercom off and looked out

the window. "Let's get this crate to Vegas."

                                   *       *`   *

    Lora and Steve both gave a sigh of relief and joined the

cheers erupting within the cabin. Steve recorded the jubilation

with a smile on his face then placed a headset over his ears.

Before turning to Channel Six he said happily. "Told you."

    They both watched a flight attendant try to clean up the

debris in the aisle. The Stewardess who had been hurt was being

helped forward. Steve reached up and closed the nearest overhead

storage door. He sat down and tightened his seatbelt. Clasping

Lora's hand he listened to the radio as swaying oxygen masks

dangled above his heads.

    "This is the captain. We have been given clearance to land.

Flight attendants, prepare for landing."

    Lora sat up in her seat and grabbed Steve's arm. "Listen!

It's from Fresno."

    "...outside our building there is total darkness. The

emergency generator is working. Where I'm standing, I see cars
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    181

with their headlights on. Others are stalled. The police scanner

is telling us that every highway leading out of town is blocked

with traffic. I want to go, but my car's been crushed in the

garage. Tons of thick dust is drifting down on us. Some pieces

are the size of silver dollars.

    "Ash is coming in through broken windows, and we've placed

rags over our mouths so we can breathe. I can see cars stranded

in the parking lot. A guy is looking under his hood. It's terri-

ble. I can't watch. Yet, I don't dare leave. It's so thick

that..."

    The radio transmission from Fresno stopped. Lora wondered if

someone shut the radio off. In the cockpit, Captain Wallace and

his co-pilot listened to the broadcast. Each looked at the other,

and then stared straight ahead at the approaching runway.

    "Hold on," Steve said with encouragement as he helped Lora

walk into the terminal. A jutting jaw concealed the dread he felt

about the flight. "We're almost there."

    Lora held Steve's arm. "My legs. They're like rubber." She

thought about the family at the beach. Were they safe?

    "Mine too," Steve lied. Inside he was a nervous wreck. "Be

glad we landed in one piece," he said with sweat still dribbling

down his arms.

    She looked around. "I've got to get to a restroom."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    182

    Steve helped her as far as he could go and still stand. The

tour group gathered not far away. "I'll be over with them," he

said and pointed. As he walked he hyperventilated to strengthen

his posture.

    A voice from a television set attracted his attention.

    "...Very few lives have been lost due to early warnings.

Vancouver and San Francisco have been damaged. Power and communi-

cation lines are down throughout the Northwest. Standby

generators are operating. We'll have a link for video

presentation completed in another minute."

    Static filled the screen and a different face appeared.

"We've lost contact but should be able to continue shortly. To

reiterate, The National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado, is

reporting that an enormous fragment of the comet Kano-Ishikawa

has plunged into the Pacific Ocean. The impact has produced

massive earthquakes throughout the northern coastal states. The

Center has recorded so many shocks waves it is impossible to

pinpoint any exact location. What is known is that many of the

waves reveal amplitudes between 9 and 10.6 in magnitude.

    "The earthquakes should decrease in intensity throughout the

day. The American Northwest has taken the brunt of the damage. We

will stay on the air and continue reporting. We expect to have a

mobile station in the city shortly. It is also reported that the

recently discovered Super Volcano located within the Yellowstone
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   183

National Park has just exploded. Stay tunes for further details."

    Steve looked at the milling tour group as Lora returned. He

spoke softly. "These people have lost everything, and I'm

frightened. This trip is going to be canceled. We better find out

what's going to happen. We paid by credit card. We'll get reim-

bursed, I hope."

    Lora let go of Steve's hand and reached for her cell phone.

"I've got to find a quieter place and call home. You stay and

find out what we are going to do."

    Steve joined the milling crowd and heard Pastor Demosthenes

say, "I've tried to get through to the church, but all the

telephones are down. What little I've learned is that it may take

hours before I get through. Until then all we can do is pray and

wait."

    Steve turned on his video camera and recorded the faces of

frightened people.

    "I've been informed that we must change aircraft," Pastor

Demosthenes said. He waved for everyone's attention. "The

airlines have booked everyone on different flights to New York.

Some will have to change planes in Chicago before going to La

Guardia. They assure me that we will all get to New York with

enough time to make our overseas connection. Our travel agent has

informed us that El Al at La Guardia will hold departure until we

get there. My question to you is this, do we wish to continue?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    184

    "Pastor?" A man in front raised his hand. "I live north of

San Francisco, and I'm too frightened to travel. I can't go on,

but I've already paid for the trip. Is there any chance of a

refund?"

    The tour guide spoke up. "All monies have been forwarded to

the airlines and hotels. We cannot give a refund this late in our

travel plans. I'm sorry. There will be no refunds. I'm sorry."

    "What can I do?" asked the traveler. The pitch of his voice

grew as it edged toward hysteria. "I may not have a job when I

get back."

    The man began uncontrollable sobbing and collapsed to the

floor. "I don't know what to do," he cried. "I don't know. I." He

lay on the floor as two men tried to offer some comfort by gently

patting the crying man's shoulders.

    "I'm sorry," replied the pastor to all who looked to him for

understanding and direction. "Truly I am. None of us may have a

job. My family is with me, so I know they're safe." He paused,

deep worry etched across his face. "I don't know what to do.

Maybe the best thing is to go on. Most of all I think we need to

pray." He paused as his face showed the strain he felt.

    "For those who don't want to continue," he said. "All we can

do is try to make contact with our families. Nothing like this

has ever happened before. We're in the middle of a massive

natural disaster, an End-Times disaster. All we can do is hold on
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    185

to God, pray, stay faithful, and help each other."

       Steve raised his hand, coughed to clear his voice and spoke.

 "Pastor? My friend and I wish to continue. I don't want to speak

out of turn. But, after what we've just gone through, I'm just

glad to be alive. I‘m sure we won‘t have any more problems."

       Steve looked at the frightened group of travelers. "If you

go on," he said. "At least you'll be safe and you'll have three

meals a day. If you stay here, unless you have cash, you may not

be able to buy food." The jovial spirit permeating the group in

San Francisco disappeared. "I think everyone who can go should go

on. When you return home, everything will be a lot better. Right

now there is nothing we can do to help."

       Demosthenes waved a hand. "I'd like to see a show of hands

from those who are not continuing with the tour." A few hands

went up. More of the group lifted their hand.

       Demosthenes and the tour representative counted. When

finished, he asked for a show of hands from those who wanted to

continue. After counting, the pastor turned to talk with the

travel agent. In a few moments he spoke. "We have made a deci-

sion." The commotion within the group ceased.

       "We're still going" Steve remarked to those standing around

him.

       "Two-thirds of our group wish to stay," continued

Demosthenes. "Of the fifty who will be going on, Mrs. Williamson
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    186

will be accompanying them. I shall be staying here with the

majority of the congregation. I feel terrible about everything.

I'd feel even worse if I did not stay and try to help."

    An airline official walked up beside the pastor and spoke to

the crowd of frightened travelers. "Flights have been diverted to

Las Vegas from San Francisco and Seattle. At this moment, we are

being flooded with calls to leave Las Vegas. We can hold your

reservations for another five minutes. Those who are continuing

on, please see me immediately to confirm your seating. Flight

1607 will not continue on to La Guardia. The aircraft is undam-

aged but it will require extensive cleaning. We have a flight to

Chicago in thirty minutes. I shall book as many as I can."

    The Pastor raised his hand and said. "Before we do, let us

pray."

    Steve slipped away to find Lora. "We'll take that flight,"

he said as he moved next to the airline official. Lora appeared a

minute later.

    Steve saw her and quickly hurried to her side. "We're booked

to leave in thirty minutes," he said. As they moved toward the

gate he said, "They board in fifteen. We're all set to go. How's

everyone back home?"

    "Talked to Mom," Lora answered. "So far they've had no

problems. A small earthquake hit Denver, but not much damage -

pictures falling and a few cracked windows. Hope you like
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    187

herbal." She handed a cup of hot tea to Steve. "Mom talked to a

friend in the Springs. They also felt some earthquakes, but

nothing serious." She looked at the line of people waiting to

board the flight. "Who else is going?"

    "I'm sorry," they both heard at the same time.

    Mrs. Williamson stepped toward Steve and Lora. "No one else

is going. Everyone has decided to stay. I have family back

there." She pointed West. "I can't go. With all that's happened.

I hope you understand. I'll ask again to see if anyone else has

changed their minds. Your trip is paid for, so you don't have to

worry about anything. I'll give all the tour information to you.

You'll be met at Ben Gurion. You will have no problems. After you

claim your bags, go through customs. Look for a sign with our

tour name printed on it. Explain everything to them and they'll

take you to the hotel. I know you'll have a pleasant trip. Good

luck!" She handed Steve a thick 8x11 envelope and sped away.

    "Well I'll be," Steve said as Mrs. Williamson vanished in

the crowd. He held the folder in his hand. Anger filled his eyes.

"Must be something I said."

    In the distance, Mrs. Williamson, Pastor John Demosthenes,

and one hundred and forty-eight frightened members of the tour

group disappeared among the sobbing, sometimes yelling crowd of

people hoping to go standby.

    Steve sensed Lora's thoughts. "I know. I know. You can't
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    188

trust those religious types. We've been abandoned. I guess I

can't blame them. First we received a massive recession due to

the Japanese economy and the World Trade Centers being destroyed,

back in 2001. Then we had the problem with terrorists planting

nerve gas in the D.C. subway in 2005, along with the spraying of

anthrax over Wall-Street in New York. Those actions killed 15,000

people. Now we have this. I don't know if the nation can keep

paying this price. It scares me."

    Steve handed their boarding passes to the flight attendant

and asked how many are on the flight. "The flight looks crowded,"

he said. "I thought when our group backed out, it might be

empty."

    "We are fully booked," she replied. "The casinos are

emptying. Everyone is frightened that an earthquake will destroy

their hotels."

    "Well, so much for having extra seats to stretch out in,"

said Steve as he led the way to the aircraft.



    Six hours later, Lora and Steve landed at La Guardia. They

picked up their baggage, caught the shuttle to JFK, and arrived

at El Al with an hour to spare.

    After being interrogated at security as to why they wanted

to visit Israel, and after their bag inspection, Lora and Steve

sat down in the secured waiting area.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  189



    Michael Anderson and Philip Johnson, born Micchal Stratgor-

ski and Philopas Michovich respectively sat sleepily on a distant

bench. Both had been ordered to Israel to kill a girl. Their

Spetnez field control would meet them in Tel Aviv and supply them

with the necessary weapons and details. They viewed the mission

more as a vacation than a job.

    By chance, Micchal glanced over at Lora. "That woman looks

familiar."

    Philopas stirred and looked up. They both heard Kendra's

name.

    "Let's move closer," Philopas said.

    Both assassins felt delighted with their luck.

    "I won't be surprised to see this Kendra waiting for her

sister," Micchal beamed.

    "Yes!" Philopas answered softly. "If we could, we could

strangle her in the airport and then spend the rest of the time

getting a tan."



    At Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, Lora and Steve picked up

their bags and went through customs. Their tour guide, a heavyset

woman, met them. Micchal and Philopas followed discretely behind

and listened.

    Lora studied the reaction on the tour guide's face. The lady
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    190

is cool, she thought. She knows of the problems and all the

changes. Yet she's concentrating on her job.

    Lora guessed the guide, who spoke English with a European

accent, to be around forty. After Lora explained all that

occurred, they walked to an empty tour bus.

    "Will you still be taking us to all the sites?" asked Lora.

    "Yes, I will," replied the tour guide. "Please call me Sima.

After I get you both settled, we'll talk about our schedule. From

my notes, I see that you both are going to Jericho. From there

you will take a Palestinian taxi to Mount Nebo. Is that still

your plan?"

    "Yes," replied Steve. "Since there won't be any others for

you to escort, why don't you travel with us?"

    "I think I might. Since the peace treaty, I can now cross

the Jordan River. They stoned one of our busses last week, but we

have special cars, much stronger. They have Arabic writing on

them. Tonight we'll see about getting one of these cars. If we

do, we'll drive you to Jericho and go with you to Mount Nebo. How

long will you be on the mountain?"

    "We've planned for two days," replied Steve. "Will that be

all right?"

    "Tomorrow morning I will know. I'll be at your hotel at 7:00

o'clock. If it is permitted, I shall give you an exclusive VIP

tour."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    191




    Chapter 16



    General Vorshkov read the reports of the damage to the

American West Coast. He smiled and closed his eyes and whispered.

"This is good news. The Amerikan economy is in shambles. They

will now be occupied with their own problems. Another part of

said, he wouldn't wish this on anyone. Now he knew that they'd be

slower than normal in responding to any international crisis. To

the God of meteors and comets, I salute you."

    For a moment a smile appeared then his face turned cold. "In

ninety days, I, Colonel General Nicoli Vladimir Vorshkov, will

shake the world."

    He turned to find his second in command. "General!" he

called. "I want information on the changing status of the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    192

Amerikan Sixth Fleet. I expect Washington to send them new orders

within the hour. If earthquakes sweep their land, they'll need

most of these ships to supply drinking water." He gave a sweet

inward smile. "This is fortunate. It is my destiny."

    He looked at the large clock on the wall. "My little Spetnez

team should be in the air by now. The little fly which annoys me

will soon be gone."

    Breathing deeply, and with a sense of satisfaction, he

congratulated himself. "I will make a good war."

    That evening, Vorshkov listened to news reports of major

earthquakes sweeping across North Amerika. "When their nation

settles down, those people will rebuild and be stronger than

ever. For the moment, their curse is my blessing."

    He thought about the two freighters carrying the short-range

rockets. Maybe it is time to give the Amerikan another hit.

Tomorrow will be a very good time. The Electromagnetic Pulses

will finish the job.

                          *    *    *

    "I'm finished!" said an exhausted Kendra.

    She stepped from the cave and found Pete leaning back in the

chair. His eyes half-closed. With arms folded across his chest, a

fly swatter hung from his right hand. Across his lap lay a hand-

carved walking stick, and a canteen of what she expected to be

lukewarm water.   Her task of stringing video and light cables was
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    193

completed. Now she needed sleep. A bright meteor flashed across

the night sky. She ignored it and studied Pete.

    His head rested against the wall of the cave. To her the

moonlight only accented his handsomeness. A magical attraction

rose within her as she watched him dose. In the subdued light

from a full moon, his strong physique looked bigger and more

desirable than ever. She kissed him on the top of his head to

wake him up.

    Pete opened his eyes and looked into her face. Their gazes

locked, unblinking.

    "Everything working?" he asked as he stood. The feelings

growing within him made his words, and her reply, meaningless.

Her features, lit by the moon, drew him closer; his senses

focused on her.

    Kendra stepped back, startled by the look in his eye, and

bumped into the wall. "I'm glad you came to keep an eye on me."

Her words carried a touch of tease and she enjoyed the way he

responded. A voice inside her said, "Start back to the camp." She

ignored it. Instead she inhaled and looked to the side, away from

his eyes.

    Pete felt her magnetism pulling him closer. He read her look

to the side as acceptance. "Don't mention it," he responded and

moved closer. The moonlight glowing around the edges of her hair
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    194

made his head swim.

    She turned back and stared into his eyes. Her head moved a

few inches closer. She stopped and watched him close the distance

in little moves.

    His lips gently touched hers, and then pulled back.

    "You are the most beautiful moonlit sculptured creature I've

ever seen," he said.

    Pete needed to kiss her once more.

    She looked into his face, which floated inches away, and

felt hypnotized by his eyes. Her defenses defused as she saw his

tenderness. Desire nipped at her emotions.

    Pete stared into her eyes. "The meteors are beautiful," he

said without looking up. "They're stunning, like you."

    Kendra saw his eyes drift over her. She enjoyed his

attention, yet brushed it off as playful flirtation. This time

she felt like giving him a dose of his medicine. She reached out

and touched his chest.

    "I love you too," she said, waiting for the response she

expected. The words came easier to say than she thought. These

were words she promised never to say again. They didn't hurt.

Just the opposite, they made her feel good. She said them again

as he kissed her.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    195

    She repeated the words; "I love you too."

    She felt the release of a suppressed longing surge within

her. Amazed by the feelings she wanted more. She also knew she

must pull back if her emotions rose to dangerous levels.

    Pete moved closer. Without another word, he pulled her

against him. He could feel the beating of her heart.

    "Wolf!" Almost unaware, a rush of pent-up emotions exploded

from within. "No one will ever know," she said without speaking.

Words meant to convince her. Even then something inside her

prayed for the Holy-Spirit for help. A devilish light appeared in

her eyes. "In a few minutes," she said to rationalize her

decision, "I‘ll stop."

    Pete kissed her and felt her lips soften. He held her tight

and kissed her again. The rise and fall of her breasts excited

him. His hands slid along her sides.

    Kendra felt her head become dizzy. Everything swirled as he

lowered her to the ground. She didn't care. She was in paradise

as his hand stroked her breast. Nothing else mattered.

    A thought flashed through Pete‘s mind. "I'm going to give

you a baby," he whispered before realizing it.

    Kendra heard the words clearly. Her head cleared. The

haunting image of the abortion revolted her. Energy swept into

her arms and she pushed him away. Rolling to the side, she pulled
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    196

her clothes together and hurried into the cave.

    "What?" Pete cried. "What's the matter? I love you," he

pleaded. "We need each other. We're adults."

    "No! Not like this. Never again!" She straightened her

clothes in the dark.

    Kendra pounded her hands against the wall of the cave. "I

did it again," she moaned. "I can't control myself." She thought

about the holy anointing that she received at her home church.

She felt ashamed. "I've messed that up too."

    Wiping away the tears, she sagged under the pressures of the

last days. "I'm attacked by terrorists. A guy with a stupid scar

is after me. I almost give myself away, for what? For nothing,

that's what - nothing. I'm too tired to think straight. My nerves

are gone. This place is driving me crazy."

    Her body trembled as she prayed. "If this is an attack from

the Devil, Lord, attack him for me. How can I fight this stuff?"

She thought about demons and angels and spiritual battles.

"Rebuke the scumbag demon that‘s messing with me. Send angels to

get them away from me. What spirit is doing this to me? Holy

Spirit, take charge of my life."

    The sound of scraping gravel reminded her that Pete stood

outside, waiting. "I've got to get back," she called, wiping away

the tears clouding her eyes. She wanted to continue praying, but
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    197

her heart wasn't in it. She felt stupid. "I can't stay here

forever." Her voice carried a fighting edge to it. "Can I come

out?" She called as pleasantly as she could. "This is his fault

as well as mine," she murmured. "I thought I could pull back."

    She waited for his answer. After a minute with no response,

she called again. "Can I come out?"

    Pete realized he‘d better answer or she‘d stay in there all

night. "Of course!" he answered softly. "I apologize. This is my

entire fault."

    "You bet it is," he heard her whisper.

    "We're both to blame," he said.

    She knew he was right.

    When he saw her at the entrance, she looked beautiful, but

now all he wanted to do was protect her. He felt guilty. "I hope

your anger has subsided?"

    "It has," she lied. "What am I to do with you? I almost made

a terrible mistake."

    "I know," he said. "Now you must feel miserable, being a

Christian and all that."

    He sensed a slight change of tone in her voice and accepted

it as forgiveness. "I'm sorry," he said again. "It happened so

fast. I never planned this." He knew this was a lie. "I wanted
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    198

you ever since we met," he finally confessed and extended a hand

to help her over a boulder. "Forgive me? I don't want us to be

enemies, and I sure don't want to hurt you." He watched her eyes

hoping for a positive response. "I'd like to say this won't

happen again. But I'm afraid I might be lying."

    She looked up at him. "Wolf. Let's be friends for a while

longer. As for feeling guilty, I did for a coupler of minutes.

But I know my God still loves me. Jesus always loves me. He is my

God." She felt the spirit within her grow in excitement. "He is

Adoni." She looked at Pete who clearly did not understand. "In

psalms 110 the psalm starts out with My Lord said to my lord, sit

at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. The

actual words are better said as, Yahweh said unto Adoni sit at my

right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." She paused

for a moment with a broad smile on her face. "I know you don't

understand. Someday you will. In the Greek Septuagint, that psalm

is translated by the early Jewish scholars as God said to my

God." Se looked at the puzzled looked on Pete's face. "Jesus is

the God Adoni," she said with excitement. My God, the creator of

the world, the Word who became flesh, He is my God, and He loves

me. I only hope that someday I can love him as much. When Jesus

dies on the cross two-thousand years ago, His death, His blood,

He paid it all. The weakness that is me is made strong by His

Holy Spirit. No," she added, "I feel a little ashamed of myself,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    199

but the righteousness of Jesus, His holiness, He takes the shame

I feel and nails it to the cross. His blood covers it all.

Tomorrow is a new day. This moment is a new moment. The future is

fresh and clean." She looked intently at Pete. "I won't let what

almost happened ever happen again."

    He looked at her, wondering what she said. Confused yet

captivated by her enthusiasm, he said, "I can settle for that.

Maybe a year from now," he stopped in midsentence. Instead he

thought the words to himself, "it might be a different story."

    She chuckled. "A year from now, we'll either be married or

long gone. Right now, I need some sleep."

    She pointed to her left eyelid, hoping Pete could see the

movement. "I can feel it fluttering," she said. "I think my

nerves are getting the best of me."

    "That's over the spot where you got hit during the attack."

He moved closer and prepared to kiss her forehead. Her stiffening

body language stopped him cold. "Could be damage to the muscle."

    "You‘re probably right - it's fatigue, along with everything

else."

    "Isn't your sister arriving tomorrow?" he asked.

    "Sometime in the morning."

    She forced a smile and began walking up the hill. "More than
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    200

likely it's nerves," she agreed. "After two years of digging to

clear this hole in the ground, we're close to the moment of

truth." She half chuckled at her words. "A moment ago, we almost

had our own."

    Pete looked into her eyes and grinned. The tension of the

past evaporated as he enjoyed the moment.

    "So much to do," she said.

    "We're three month behind schedule," Pete said. He felt glad

for the change of subject. He could envision his Gantt chart

showing the team‘s progress on the tent wall. "That terrorist

attack threw us a month behind. It's taken us a week just to

function again. When your sister and her husband arrive, their

visit may give us the spark to concentrate again. Nothing like

wanting to impress guests," he said.

    He thought for a moment then asked. "Aren‘t they due around

eleven?"

    He saw her nod yes.

    "If the morning's exploration doesn't uncover anything of

value," he said. "Maybe we can take a few days off and go

somewhere with them. Assuming you still want me along."

    "You're still invited," she answered.

    He watched her bite her lip and changed the subject again.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    201

"On the other hand," he added. "If we find artifacts, all bets

are off. We'll have Lora, and her friend, sign a letter of

confidentiality along with an injury wavier. Then we'll put them

to work." He watched her look up as a meteor streaked overhead.

    "I know we will find it," she replied.

    "I have to admit I'm nervous, too. But maybe your vision,

the first one, will be right on the money. Besides, not

everything will be wasted if we don't succeed," he added. "We've

done valuable research, and I met you." He watched her ignore the

compliment.

    "Two years of our lives on this mountain," she said.

    "In a dozen hours we'll know." Pete smiled as an idea gave

him something hopeful to say. "Whoever sent those thugs believed

enough in your vision to try and kill you. They feel you will

succeed. If we don't find anything soon, it'll be because we made

a wrong turn. We'll keep searching, even if I have to sell my

ticket home. It's down there. Your vision is real." Pete watched

his pep talk take effect. It even made him feel better. "How'd I

ever fall in love with you? My life is more complicated than

ever."

    "Mine too," she said.

    Pete noticed a small smile appear on her face.

    "I'm not sure of a lot of things," she said. "Let's take one
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    202

day at a time and keep on trying. This excavation may turn out to

be something we'll all cherish. I hate to see it end."

    "Maybe we can find another dig?" He kicked a rock and heard

it clattered down the mountain. "Let's get back and get a good

night‘s sleep." He held out his canteen to her. "We've got a busy

day tomorrow."

    "Thanks," Kendra replied. She drank the lukewarm water.

"Taste's good. I‘ve thought about failure, maybe a thousand

times," she said softly, "but it doesn't last long. Something's

pushing me. It has to mean something. I know we'll find it."

    Pete looked at his watch and swung around his shoulder pack.

He pulled out a small pocket radio. "Might as well listen to the

evening news as we walk." He turned the dial to a broadcast from

Jerusalem and held the speaker to his ear.

    "Ho!" he said with surprise. "Earthquakes! They're being

reported all over the world." He listened for a few seconds in

silence. "Beijing, China has been hit hard. There is serious

damage to Tokyo." He gave Kendra a stunned look and turned up the

volume so she could hear. "Something big has happened," he added.

"Hundreds of volcanoes are erupting. A thirty foot tidal wave has

hit Miami."

    He continued speaking. "Some burned out fragment of a comet,

named Kano-Ishikawa, hit the Pacific Ocean, just off the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    203

California coast. Major earthquakes have rocked the Pacific." He

looked up in time to see a bright meteor flash overhead.

    "Oh my gosh!" she cried. "The vision. My second one. It's

begun."

    Pete saw her clutch her chest and remembered the calamity

she described. "We've been out of touch," he said. "I wonder if

anyone at camp heard this?"

    "It‘s begun," she said.

    "The year 2000 came and went. Now seven years later, you say

it's begun?"

    "We never had a comet strike the earth before, at least in

my lifetime. If we discover the ark I'll be convinced we have

just three to seven years left. This is the beginning of the

horrors I've seen."

    "I think man is more in control than some supernatural

entity," he said. He also hoped he was right.

    "God's more in control than we give Him credit for. Maybe

it‘s God and man. But ultimately, God is in control. The ancient

Jewish books say that man has five paths for every decision. I

think God already knows their decisions, but He leaves it up to

us to choose. If He needs to delay things, He will."

    "Maybe? Let‘s get back to camp. You can call the hotel to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     204

check on your sister."

    He held the radio between them and they both walked.

    "...Beginning with that Chicken flu, which resurfaced in

Hong Kong four years ago, this old world has been having one

crisis after another, and now this happens. When will it ever

end?"

        The batteries in his radio weakened and Pete placed the

speaker next to his ear. "Here's something about the Jordan

valley. They're saying that anyone living along the Jordan might

experience a major tremor."

    He knew the river followed a giant riff, which terminated

deep within central Africa.

    Kendra grabbed Pete's arm. "Hurry! I need to know if Lora

and Steve are safe. I'm going to call the airport."

    "I'm sure they've already landed," Pete said. "I‘m assuming

they made the flight from San Francisco."

    "The city I saw being destroyed was San Francisco, Pete.

They've all been killed."

    "Wait a minute. We don't know that. They're probably sitting

at the hotel right now. We'll call. The batteries for our

radiotelephone aren't charged. But if we don't talk too long, we

should be able to get an answer."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    205

    Pete went to the communications tent when they entered the

camp. He watched Kendra run to get her address/telephone book.

When she returned, he dialed the operator and reached the hotel.

    "They arrived a few hours ago," answered the hotel clerk.

"I'll connect you."

    The telephone rang. "Sorry. There's no answer," the clerk

replied. "They've either stepped out or are sleeping. Can I leave

a message?" He watched relief sweep across Kendra's face. "No,

that's all right," he replied. "I just needed to know if they

arrived." He hung up the phone and switched off the batteries.

    Her mind went blank and her eyes shown heavy. "I've got to

get some sleep," Kendra said wearily. "We'll find out more in the

morning. Leave notes for the others to listen to the news."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 206




    Chapter 17

    The sound of rumbling and vibrations began slowly. Stacked

dishes rattled as Kendra rushed into the mess-tent. She ignored

the sound below her feet as she asked, "Any news from America?"

The morning sun streamed through the door as she hurried toward

Pete.

    She looked at her colloquies. No one was paying attention to

her. Instead they sat looking at their plate.

    "Shush!" Pete motioned with his hand. "Don't you hear that?"

    "Hear what?" Kendra asked. "What about the comet hitting the

earth? Remember the radio. It said it crashed off the California

coast. I tossed and turned all night from worry." She looked at
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    207

the faces of her friends wishing for their comment.

    Pete held up his hand for her to stop talking. "Don't you

hear it? It's getting stronger."

    Kendra ignored Pete and grabbed a plate to get breakfast.

She reached for scramble eggs then stopped. Her eyes stared at

the ground. "I hear it. It's below my feet."

    The deep roar intensified and the mountain vibrated. Then

the tent swayed.

    She dropped her plate and fell to the floor. One hand held

onto the leg of a table. Both she and the table bounced across

the dirt floor. Pots and pans clanked together then crashed to

the ground. She saw her friends try to stand, but the swaying

ground made it impossible.

    "Get out!" Pete yelled though standing seemed impossible.

"Roll! Roll to the door."

    She spied a tent peg spearing through the top of the tent.

The thick nylon cord attached to the peg followed as the peg

arrowed into the dirt.

    "Wolf!" she screamed. Her face smashed into the swaying dirt

floor and sandpapered her cheek. Then something heavy rolled over

her and she saw Pete laying a foot away.

    "Give me your hand," he yelled.

    She stretched her fingers toward him.

    He grabbed her hand and pulled. "Follow me. Roll to the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    208

opening," he yelled. "Try to steer a course toward the door."

    Instead they ended rolling into the pole holding up the

tent.

    Pulling Kendra after him, he saw the kerosene stove crash to

the ground. The five-gallon glass container broke on impact,

spreading kerosene across the dirt. The stove ignited the fuel

with a whoosh.

    Flames and black smoke filled the tent. Pete gagged on the

smell. Mercifully, the earth stopped shaking and he grabbed

Kendra by the arm and yanked her toward him. With a firm shove he

sent her stumbling through the opening. "Move!"

    He followed after her as the tent collapsed in flames. He

looked at Kendra. She sat on the ground staring at the fire. "So

much for breakfast," he said with a smile. "Maybe we can salvage

some of the utensils."

    "The cave," yelled Kendra. "It may be damaged!" She jumped

to her feet and ran.

    "Kendra!" yelled Pete. "Wait! It may not be safe." He looked

at Doctor Huntington then ran after her.

    He caught her at the entrance to the cave. Dust rolled out

from the opening and indicated something had collapsed.

    "We'll both take a look," he said. "Let me go first. It may

be unsafe."

    He entered and studied the ceiling. "I don't see any damage.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    209

Then he saw a notch in the wall that appeared after the

earthquake. ―What‘s that?‖ he said and pointed. The floor of the

cave also lay covered with rubble.

    The floating dust nearly obscured where Pete pointed. Dr.

Huntington appeared alongside as did the rest of the team. Pete

hurried forward and nearly stumbling over the debrie that once

had been the wall of the cave.

    ―Bring me a light,‖ he said as he moved closer. ―The object

looked metallic.‖

    ―It‘s an iron plate!‖ Dr. Huntington exclaimed. ―It might be

a box.‖

    Pete and the Huntington reached out and touched the metal.

It rocked.

    Dr. Huntington found a small area where he managed to get

his fingers alongside the metal. He pulled. The metal plate

slipped forward. Pete jumped back and out of the way as the metal

fell away.

    Dr. Huntington stayed his ground as the metal plate slammed

to the ground inches from his left foot. Safety had been

compromised by what he had jus done, but he didn‘t care. This

find will make him famous. He peered into the opening and shined

his light at the golden object hidden in the hole.

    ―Don‘t!‖ others yelled. "It may be dangerous."

    His finger reached out to touch when Pete pulled him back.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    210

    Pete gave the Director a glance. ―It might be dangerous.‖

    The Director backed off, his heart pounding loudly in his

ears. ―You‘re right,‖ he said though he could hardly control

himself.

    Kendra felt the excitement of the find and gave a quiet

prayer of thanks. She also felt the disappointment of not being

the discoverer. Then she remembered the equipment further back in

the cave. The plastered floor meant something. She left the team

and slowly worked her way back to where she had been working.

    Pete started the electric generator and flipped on the

switch. The lamps strung throughout the cave cast an eerie yellow

light in the floating dust. He looked around for Kendra as the

team congratulated each other on their discovery.

    In the distance he saw Kendra moving deeper into the cave.

Other than dust, everything seemed safe. Still, he hurried to her

side.

    ―Exciting,‖ he said. ―Well we did it. That golden thing may

be the find of a lifetime. We‘ll all be famous.‖

    Kendra only gave him a look and hurried past him and around

the dogleg.

    "Look!" she said and patted the edge of a six-foot

depression. "This wasn't here last night."

    "No it wasn't. It's not over any of the sections we planned

to drill through." He tested the depression to see if it might
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   211

collapse. "It's a little soft. I‘ll plant a marker as a warning

for the others."

    "There's another one." Kendra pointed to another depression,

farther back.

    "Two of them. And with what we just found, this is our lucky

day." He scanned the walls and ceiling looking for newly formed

cracks. "The place has held up quite well."

    Kendra knelt beside the second depression and began digging

with her hands.

    "What did you find?" He looked at her as she dug deeper.

Even in the dim light he saw that the bottom was white.

    "Plaster!" he said. "You found plaster?" He patted her

shoulder in congratulations.

    "This must be the spot," she said excitedly.

    Pete looked over his shoulder as others arrived talking

excitedly about the discovery up front. They stood around the

first depression. "We found another," he called. "Over here. We

found plaster. Bring a light and shovels. Kendra and I will begin

digging."

    Ten minutes later he and Kendra cleared the dirt from a

three-foot oval depression. The plaster section now sat visible

and well defined.

    "We'd have never found this," confided Dr. Huntington. He

stood beside Pete still feeling the excitement of his find. The
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    212

thought of another discovery was almost more than he could bear.

He will achieve immortality with these finds. Maybe he might even

be offered a professorship. This was what every archaeologist

dreamt about.

    "I'll get the others clearing the depression you marked." He

handed Pete a hand drill with a sixteen-inch drill. "See if you

can drill through." He glanced at Kendra. "Get ready to use your

talents with the scope."

    "How's the other one coming?" Pete asked as he began

drilling along the edge of the plaster.

    "They're being a little more cautious," Dr. Huntington

replied. "It seems to be softer, no plaster. It may be nothing,

but they are treating it as a find. They found no plaster, just

dirt. Wonder how deep it goes?"

    Pete noticed a look of expectation and worry in the

director‘s face. For a fleeting moment he wondered what was going

on, as if Huntington wasn‘t telling all. He turned back to his

work. "Well, this one's real and it has sloping sides," Pete

noted. "I think we've uncovered a plastered plug."

    Kendra called out over Pete's drilling. "It's got to be the

Ark." She motioned for Pete to drill at a particular spot.

    Pete cleaned the drill bit of plaster dust and drilled where

she pointed. He cut through and removed the bit. Measuring the

length of the plaster dust on the bit, he announced, "Twenty
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    213

centimeters thick."

    Pete turned to the Director and saw the confusion break into

a grin.

    "I did it," Huntington called out.

    Pete smiled, as the Doctor became excited.

    Kendra unrolled a half-inch cable containing two fiber optic

wires. She connected one to the television camera adapter. The

other line she connected to the light source adapter.

    "Great! We're ready to go," said Director Huntington. "Let's

start exploring."

    Kendra passed the flexible cable through the hole Pete

drilled. The director held the controls. He watched the

television monitor. The team digging in the first depression

gathered around. The scene on the monitor shifted and bounced as

the image went one way and then the other.

    "Kendra," Huntington said. He motioned to her. "Take these.

You've got the knack for this. I'm too nervous. This is something

I've been waiting for all my life. Now I can't stop shaking."

    Kendra stared at the monitor, and slipped the controls over

her fingers. Deftly, she worked the instruments until the motion

on the monitor became smooth. Moving the cable deeper, she began

illuminating the roof of the plug.

    "Go slower Kendra," Pete said as he took notes. "Looks like

we drilled into a timber. Move back a little."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    214

    The image shifted.

    "There's another and it's cracked, pretty badly too," he

said.

        Everyone but Kendra stepped away from the plug.

    "Up a little with the light," he said.

    The light moved to the bottom of the plug.

    "Yeah that's it. There‘s another one. It's broken. Look at

those cracks. The beams are barely holding up this plug."

    The others stepped back a little further. "Get a rope around

Kendra," Pete ordered. "That thing could give way without

warning."

    He fastened a safety line around Kendra's waist and studied

the monitor.

    "Okay Kendra. Point it down."

    She twisted the controls until the light and camera pointed

into the darkness. "The hole's too deep," she remarked. "We need

stronger lights."

    "Okay," Dr. Huntington replied. "Let‘s bring in a larger

drill. Once we lift this plug out, we'll hook small flood lamps

to the side, then we'll get a good look."

    "Wow! Look at those." Pete pointed his finger as the plug

slid away.

    Floodlights and a harness arrived and Pete hammered stakes

in the side of the well for the lights. Doctor Huntington gave
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   215

the orders for the lights and the well filled with brilliant

light.

    "What do you see?" asked Kendra. She shielded her eyes from

the light and tried to peer over the side. "I can't see

anything."

    "Let your eyes adjust to the light," Pete said. "Look

closer." He pointed toward the bottom. "See those dots down

there? There must be hundreds of them. Those are spears pointing

up at us. You can just see the shafts. So where's the side

passage?"

    "I made a drawing of a well," she said. "In my first vision

the well held a hidden passage half way down the side. That

passage led to another room."

    Pete tightened the harness around him and ordered himself

lowered against the well.

    "It should be along that side," Kendra pointed.

    Pete explored the side by striking it with a hammer. A

sliver of rock fell away.

    "Stop! There it is!" Kendra exclaimed with unbridled excite-

ment. "Point the light back a little. A little more." The light

shifted. "A little more. Stop! See it! There! There‘s a crack!"

    Pete moved closer to the fine separation in the rock.

"Kendra you're right," he said. He tapped around the spot. After

cleaning the crack with his brush, he called up. "How does it
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    216

look from up there?" He rubbed his fingers over the thin line.

    "Great!" Doctor Huntington replied. If this is another find,

his name will be among the greats. "Chisel at the bottom."

    Pete followed the line to where Huntington indicated. He

struck the bottom with his hammer. On the third strike, the stone

door slipped an inch. He hit a few more solid raps with the

hammer and the door slipped again. "Oh! Oh!" Pete cried as he

pushed away. The stone door fell away and plummeted to the bottom

as Pete swung to the center of the well.

    "Pete!" Kendra yelled as the sound of the collapse echoed

through the cave.

    "I'm okay!" he yelled as dust billowed past him. "Send down

another light." He turned on his flashlight. "There's something

in here. Kendra, I've found your passage."

    A flood lamp lowered alongside. Pete turned it on and point-

ed. "This is spectacular!" His voice echoed from the well.

"They‘re gold plates scattered all over the floor. Lower the rope

ladder. I'll start hammering some stakes into the walls. The

opening looks as if it goes back about fifty feet. I'm going to

swing inside and fasten the stakes."

    Minutes later, a rope ladder appeared and Pete fastened it

to the stakes. He attached two safety lines, and then he tested

the strength of the connections.

    More lights lowered into the chamber as Doctor Huntington
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    217

appeared. Kendra followed, holding the video recorder. She

attached another floodlight and began recording the gold plates

and utensils strewn across the floor.

    "They must have fallen from their shelves," Huntington

suggested. "Maybe from the last earthquake. Maybe from a hundred

others. Once thing for sure, all this has been hidden for 2700

years. Now it's being illuminated in artificial light."

    The director picked up one of the plates. "In a lifetime of

dreaming, I never expected such a discovery." He studied the

plate. "No dust. It was the last earthquake that did this.

There's no dust on the plates."

    "There's also no Ark," replied a dejected Kendra. Then she

remembered the other room. "Wait! There‘s another room. We've got

to find it."

    "I'm sure she's right," said Pete. "She's been right up to

this point." His voice echoed through the chamber. "If the

prophet Nehemiah built this place, he's expended an awful lot of

energy, just to hide a few hundred dishes."

    The director agreed. "But these are historic and priceless.

These are Temple plates. The gold content pales against their

historical importance. But I think Pete's right, and I'm sure

Kendra's right. Our discovery of these plates is monumental. Yet,

they wouldn't build such an elaborate place just to hide plates."

    Dr. Huntington looked toward the back of the cave. "This
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    218

room is unusually long. There might be something else down here.

Re-examine the walls. We may have overlooked something. Look at

everything, the floors, the ceilings, and don't assume anything.

Maybe the last quake loosened something. Look for unusual

cracks."

    Midway to the back, Pete noticed something strange about the

boulders strewn about the floor. "Look at this!" he exclaimed.

"Here's a circle of twelve large boulders. I'm sure they didn't

come from this cave."

    Kendra, stepped around the boulders, and worked her way

toward the back of the cave. She stood for a moment, and then the

floor sounded a loud cracked under her feet and a deep rumble

appeared.

    "Pete!" she cried.

    "It's an earthquake," someone yelled. "Get out of here!"

    A spine shivering, cracking sound froze everyone's attention

on the roof.

    Pete saw the floor shift around Kendra. In an instant, he

erupted into a sprint. Before he reached her, the floor

fractured.

    "Wolf!" she screamed.

    He watched her in slow motion, with arms lifted above her

head, drop from sight. A billowing dust cloud replaced the woman

in his life. He remembered her saying that in her vision, the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    219

hidden room was not very deep. Deliberately, he slid to the edge

of the hole and jumped in.




    Chapter 18

    Pete waved his arms to maintain some balance. Nothing

helped. He hit the bottom with a thud as rocks, sand, and plaster

cascaded around him. Rolling to break his fall, he stopped and

clawed the dirt. He feared the cliff he imagined lay inches away.

He curled up onto his knees, covered his head, and let his back

take the punishment of the falling debris. Half buried in the

deluge of sand and rocks, he waited.

    Once the fall of sand became a dribble, he rose to his feet.

One hand brushed his face clear, and then Pete pulled his shirt
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    220

over his head and used the cloth as a filter against the choking

dust.

    In the darkness, he lost his balance and squatted to steady

himself. "Kendra?" he called. The sound of sand and rocks sliding

from above gave him shivers. He listened for her voice.

    Breathing through his shirt, he felt around to make sure he

had not landed near a ledge. In the blackness, he saw nothing but

false dots of lights generated by his rattled optic nerves.

    "At least I'm alive," he whispered. "Don't think I fell too

far. Kendra?" He coughed. The dust in the air scratched his eyes

and lungs.

    Fingering through his backpack he searched for his dust

mask. He found it at the bottom, smashed between a Clip-It knife,

a half-eaten candy bar, and a baseball cap. His lungs convulsed

as he slipped the mask over his mouth.

    When his coughing subsided, he reached for his flashlight. A

sneeze caught him unprepared. "Yuck!" he exclaimed and heard the

sounds of more rumbling. "Not another one," he mumbled. "If it

doesn't stop, this is going to be our tomb."

    The rumbling ended and he twisted the lens to turn on his

light. Nothing.

    "Grrr," he growled with frustration and called Kendra's name

again.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    221

    Above, in the cave, a boiling, choking dust cloud sped past

the frightened team.

    "Dust masks," ordered Director Huntington. "Get them on."

    The director listened to the fearful rumbling sounds fade.

Pain filled his voice as the thick dust scratched his vocal

cords.

    "Where's Pete? Kendra?"

    In seconds, a wall of crisscrossing beams from flashlights

appeared in the dust filled air. Moving forward, the beams poked

bright shafts through the dust. Cautiously, the director tested

the sturdiness of the floor before taking a step.

    "This cave must have three levels," replied Dr. Huntington

to everyone's questions. "Like Kendra's drawings."

    Leading everyone to the back, he made out the faint outline

of a hole in the floor. "Be careful. We're close to where they

disappeared."




    Pete twisted the head of his light again and tapped it on

the floor, hoping to make it work. A moment later he gave up and

listened, trying to hear any sounds from Kendra.

    "Kendra! Can you hear me?" he called.

    He thought he saw the glimmer of a light and squinted. A

dull yellow glow, almost hidden, lay in front of him, just out of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    222

reach. He crawled closer, feeling the ground for a precipice.

Then his fingers touched something soft. He found her.

    "Kendra?" he asked. His voice filled with hope.

    Moving a few inches closer, he ran his hands along her hips

and back. She lay on her stomach. The glow that he saw came from

below her. It was her flashlight.

    As he pulled the light from under her, he heard the team

calling for them. "Down here!" he yelled. "The floor caved in.

Kendra's here with me."

    Shining her light over Kendra he saw a thick chunk of

plaster lying across her legs. One leg seemed bent. She moaned as

he touched it.

    "Don't move Goddess," he said softly. Reaching into her

pack, he found her dust mask in a side pocket. "You've got to get

a little more disorganized," he said in an effort to humor her,

hoping she could hear him. "I almost couldn't find it."

    He hoped her neck or back wasn‘t broken. Then he noticed the

position of her right leg.

    "You seem to have banged up a leg. How does the rest of you

feel?" he asked. He hoped she could hear him. "Let's look at your

arms, back and neck." He finished his inspection and told her,

"One leg seems to be hurt. Everything else appears okay. It seems

that I'm making a habit of checking you out," he said.

    "I can get into this," he said "Good thing we're friends."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    223

She made no movement that would indicate she heard him. He

continued talking to her. "Another good thing is your neck and

back seems to be in one piece." He chuckled with obvious relief.

"Wouldn't want your pretty neck broken." He pressed against her

ribs and heard a cry of pain. "Found a problem."

    Slipping the mask over her head, he pinched the nose tab to

make it airtight. "Now I've got to find something to make a

splint for your leg."

    She awoke with a start, grabbed his arm, and arrested his

movement with a death grip. Her move to straighten her legs made

her cry out in pain.

    Pete passed the light to her to hold. "I need to inspect

your leg." He propped both backpacks together and wedged them

under her back. "Try to sit up a little higher," he requested.

"Just don't move your legs."

    "Don't worry," she replied. Her voice winced with pain as

she pushed herself back. "I'm not going anywhere. Is it

bleeding?"

    "No, but I've got to cut your pant leg to check the damage.

Hey up there," he called. "I need some boards to make a leg

splint." He turned back to her. "They'll be down in a minute."

    "Ouch," she cried. The knife caught on a thick seam and

lifted her leg. She waved the flashlight about as she bit her

lip. Grabbing his arm, she cried, "Wolf! Look!" She pointed the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   224

light behind him.

    "I need the light here." He pointed his finger at the spot

he wanted illuminated. "I can't see what I'm doing." He looked at

her arm and pulled the light down.

    "No wait!" She forced the light past him. "It‘s ten feet

away."

    Pete turned and saw the faint outline of a gleaming golden

chest. On top sat two winged golden angels. He assumed these to

be cherubims. He studied the box. It sat on golden legs. He could

see a golden ring protruding from each of the legs.

    "Pete!" Kendra screamed under her mask. "Is it?"

    "It sure looks like it. We found it!" He shifted to move

closer and reached out. "Your visions. They've all come true.

This is like the one you drew for us."

    "Don't touch it!" she cried. "It could be dangerous."

    "He jerked back in an instinctive reaction."You're right. We

don't know what to expect."

    "Peter," called a distant voice. "Are you safe? We've got a

splint for Kendra. How bad is she?"

    "We're safe, but Kendra's leg is broken. I'm shining my

light through the hole we fell through. Can you see it? We fell

into another room. It's about twenty feet below yours. Guess what

she landed next to? It's the Ark! We're down here with the find

of the century! Of the ages! It's the Ark of the Covenant."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    225

    He thought about his now obsolete speaking tour to disprove

the Ark. This will be better, much better.

    "We see your light and the hole," replied Doctor Huntington.

"Are you sure it's an Ark?"

    Pete looked up. "That's what I said."

    "I don‘t understand," said the director. "We've found one up

here. In the depression next to the dog-leg."

    Pete looked at Kendra and shook his head. "I'm confused." He

looked up at the hole. "Then we've got two of them. Because,

Kendra and I have discovered one also."

    He looked at Kendra. "It has to be a decoy. Maybe planted by

the prophet Jeremiah."

    Pete shined his light around the walls. "They look like

they've been plastered. Looks like some robes used to hang over

there. I think there's an ephod crumbled to the side. I'm sure

its shoulder straps have deteriorated. Looks like gold and maybe

gems scattered in among the debris. We'll have to be extra

careful with everything."

    He aimed the light toward the ceiling. "Most of the timbers

look strong."

    Kendra interrupted Pete and called. "Come on down. I found

it! I found the Ark of the Covenant. This is real. I did it!"

    Dr. Huntington felt his heart skipping beats. He sat down

smiling. This was almost too much for him to take. Today is a day
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   226

of true discovery. This is something he always wanted. Did it

just slip away? He didn't like the way his stomach felt.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   227




    Chapter 19

    "This must be the place," Steve said. He scanned the tents

sitting below the road and took a deep breath. "Home sweet home."

    He grabbed his video camera and said to Lora. "Let me record

you getting out of the car." He went to the other side, and

opened her door. Then he stepped back and began recording.

    "This place is hot," she said. She looked into the camera

and said. "Welcome to Jordan." Then she turned and walked toward

the tents.

    "We are at the Kappa excavations," Steve said. His voice

became monotone as he spoke into the microphone. "Today we

witness the workings of a select group of archaeologists as they

search through centuries of rubble. The cave they explore is
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    228

reported to hold great treasure. The gold is expected to be

beyond counting. The treasured artifacts, which have been hidden

for more than three thousand years, will soon be lit by the light

of this camera."

    Steve turned to capture the dusty tents on his camera;

pleased with the story he‘d invented. He stopped recording and

turned to the tour guide. "Where's everyone?"

    Sima studied the camp for a little longer and replied in a

heavy accent, "They are working. But this is the camp you want.

People must be in the cave. I'll find them."

    As she spoke, two men scurried from a tent with a large

antenna sticking from its top. Oblivious to the new arrivals,

they hurried away. Sima called to let them know that someone had

arrived. One of the men talking into a walkie-talkie stopped and

looked at the limousine. The other, carrying a canvas covered set

of poles, waited.

    "Is my sister here," Lora asked. "I'm Lora Makray. Is this

the Kappa excavation?"

    "Yes," came a very English reply from the man holding a

walkie-talkie. "Whom might you be searching for?" he asked. The

person carrying the canvas said something and hurried away.

    "My sister Kendra," replied Lora.

    "Oh yes, we have been expecting you."

    Steve stepped toward him, "Where is everybody?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   229

    "Please follow me," the man said. Without waiting, he

hurried down the mountain.

    Steve noticed that he said something into the radio and

waved for everyone to follow.

    "This must be the place," Lora said to Sima. She waved to

Sima and the driver. "Sure you don't want to stay?" Lora asked.

            "No," Sima replied. "My family is expecting me. We'll

be back at the time agreed on. Are you sure you'll both be okay

here?"

            "Everything will be just fine," replied Steve. "Don't

worry about us. Lora's got family here."

    Sima smiled. "I too have family. They will be glad to see

me," she said.

    Lora and Steve dropped their bags next to the closest tent.

They watched a girl run into the camp and hurry into the tent

with the antenna. The girl reemerged with a camera, and a battery

pack hung over her shoulder.

    She noticed Steve and Lora then yelled her excitement. "The

Ark! We've found it." Without another word she sprinted down the

mountain.

    Lora motioned to Steve. "We better keep her in sight." Then

she realized they could see for miles.

    Steve grabbed Lora's hand and headed down the mountain.

"Nothing like jogging, slipping, and sliding over loose gravel to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    230

scare you. Wonder how far we have to go?"

    A quarter mile down the slope, Steve and Lora saw a man

crawl out of a large hole in the side of a ravine.

    Lora pointed. "That must be it." Both hurried down the path.

    One hundred yards from the cave, they noticed three men

exiting the opening. Two carried a stretcher with someone lying

on it.

    "There's Peter Meirs!" exclaimed Lora. She recognized him

from a photo Kendra mailed. She also noticed the person on the

stretcher was a woman. The hair of the woman was almost the same

color as her skin. For an instant Lora wondered who it might be.

Then she recognized her sister. "Kendra!"

    Fearing that something dreadful happened, Lora ran with

abandonment until she came closer to her sister.

    "Lora!" screamed Kendra. She watched her sister slip and

then slide on the gravel path. Kendra‘s eye‘s widened as Lora

tumbled into the front bearer. Kendra grabbed the sides as both

stretcher-bearers moved with the blow. Somehow she managed to

keep from falling.

    "Hold your horses! She's okay," Pete said. He roughly lifted

Lora to her feet and studied the lady. "Don't knock her off," he

scolded. He stopped before saying anything else when he saw the

resemblance to Kendra. "You must be her sister," he said. The

tone of his voice became softer. "Your timing couldn't be
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    231

better."

    The stretcher shifted and Kendra moaned as her leg and ribs

protested the movement.

    "May or may not be serious," Pete replied to Lora's con-

cerned stare. "She seems to have broken a leg and maybe a rib. We

don't want to make it worse."

    Lora shot a hostile look at Pete. She didn't like the way

Pete lifted her. "A government-trained killer worrying over my

sister? I don't like you."

    Pete blinked his eyes and shook his head. He was not sure he

heard correctly. "Excuse me?" he said.

    Lora felt her anger rise. "My sister wrote me about you.

You're called Wolf. Does that mean you‘re always pestering her?

Is she your latest plaything?" She glanced up at the barren

landscape. "I'm sure your infatuation will end when you‘re away

from this God-forsaken place."

    Pete checked his desire to defend himself. "Lady you don‘t

know what‘s happened around here. We just discovered the Ark of

the Covenant. Kendra got injured in the process."

    Steve saw his chance to defuse the tension. He placed a hand

on Lora‘s shoulder and squeezed. "She did?" he asked. "How did

she break her leg?"

    Pete looked at Steve and felt a sense of relief. "The floor

of the cave gave way. As for the ark, she practically fell on top
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      232

of it. I tried to save her, but the ground was so unstable, I

fell in behind her. We're taking her up to the Doc. We'll know a

lot more after he looks her over. How long have you been here?"

       Lora looked at Pete. "Sorry about my anger," she said. "I

didn't mean to say all that."

       "I take it you don't like seeing your sister hurt?" he

asked. Pete felt the anger in him wanting to burst out as he

studied Lora. He paused for a few more seconds in an effort to

keep his emotions under control. But it didn‘t work. "And that

part about the military?" he asked.

       Lora‘s face changed to anger. "That's right buster. All you

guys are a bunch of juveniles running around with loaded guns.

Since there isn't any draft, I take it you volunteered?"

       He sighed before he answered. "Yes."

       "Did you also volunteer to become an assassin?" she asked

with unconcealed sarcasm. "Sis wrote me about you being a snip-

er."

       "It is something that needed to be done," he replied. "I

didn't make this world, and one you don't understand what it

takes to survive." He looked at Kendra. "I'll see you back at the

camp."

       As he walked away, Kendra looked at her sister with venom in

her eyes. "How dare you?" she growled. Her teeth clenched as she

spoke.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    233

    "Don't get your dander up, Sis. I got some things off my

chest and saw what he's made of. Big sister's here now. I'll keep

an eye on him. Don't forget your past problems."

    Kendra shot a dagger with her eyes at her sister.

    Steve stood next to Kendra and asked, "Is it true? Did you

find the thing you came to find?"

    Kendra relaxed. "I fell through a hole in the cave," she

replied. The two stetcher-bearers started up the mountain with

Kendra as she talked. "When I fell, I landed next to the greatest

find of the century, the Ark of the Covenant. It's like it was

meant to be. I've been right all along. I knew the vision was

real."



    Lora and Steve heard that the Doc was a Jordanian soldier

trained in first aid, who also doubled as cook, night guard, and

radio operator. They watched him remove the splint and begin

probing Kendra‘s leg with his fingers.

    Pete entered the tent and stood next to Kendra. He tried not

to show his distaste for Lora. "What's the prognosis Doc? Is our

discoverer going to live?"

    "There doesn't seem to be any internal bleeding," the Doc

said. "My guess it's a twisted knee. The bruise looks pretty

nasty. We need an X-ray to know for sure. She could have a

fracture hiding inside. For the moment, I'd say nothing's broken.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   234

When she gets to the hospital, we'll know more. I've called for a

helicopter."

    "Where are you going to take her?" asked Lora. "I didn't

know a hospital was close by."

    "We'll fly to Maddaba, X-ray her leg. If there are no

complications, they'll put her in a walking cast. She'll be back

before evening," he said. His smile revealed a broken tooth.

    Steve cupped an ear. "I think I hear a helicopter."

    Pete stepped outside to look. When he returned, he entered

with a Jordanian Internal Security soldier.

    The soldier introduced himself to Doc, showed his ID and

said something in Arabic. He then turned to Pete.

    "We've been sent to help. Please get our guest ready for

transportation to the hospital."



    The Doc, four security men, along with Pete and Kendra, sat

in the helicopter. Pete made sure Kendra‘s seat belt was

fastened. The soldier who entered the tent with Pete motioned for

the pilot to take off.

    Lora and Steve waved as the chopper lifted away.

    "What do we do now?" asked Steve. A disappointed expression

settled on his face as he looked around.

    A camp guard came up to them. "You can put your things in

your sister's tent," he said. "We have been expecting you. This
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    235

incident is most unfortunate. But, this is the danger of explor-

ing the unknown. Still, it is a very exciting time." Steve and

Lora listened to the guard as they watched the helicopter vanish

behind the mountain.

    "How far do they have to go?" asked Steve.

    "The hospital is in Maddaba, about twenty kilometers away.

They should be there in fifteen minutes. She'll be just fine.

They're already expecting her. When she gets back, we'll open a

very special bottle to celebrate our discoveries."

    "Can we see the Arks?" asked Lora. "I‘ve heard there are two

of them. They must be beautiful."

    "I haven't seen it myself," the man replied. "I understand

that portions of the route are very dangerous. Maybe tomorrow.

They should have the path reinforced by then. Why don't you

freshen up? We can't offer much, as we live a pretty Spartan life

out here. Kendra has bought extra food for you. Whatever we have,

you are more than welcome to use."

    The guard led Steve and Lora to Kendra's tent. "I'll make

sure I come and get you when it's time to eat," he said. "I'll

introduce you to everyone. Our meals are simple but nourishing.

Nothing fancy."

    At the evening meal, Lora and Steve watched a dust covered

jeep sprouting large whip antennas drive into the camp. Three
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   236

Jordanian military trucks, full of soldiers, rumbled behind.

    The soldiers disembarked and stood at attention. A Jordanian

Colonel disembarked from the jeep and walked over to Dr.

Huntington. After greeting each other, the Colonel read his

orders.

    "The Arks, and all other discoveries, will not be touched,

moved, or photographed until the arrival of our team from the

Antiquities department. After the Director of Antiquities has

conducted a thorough inspection, excavation will resume. The

King, and other government officials, will be here in the morn-

ing. We are here for your protection. We are also here to protect

this cave. It is now our sacred national treasure."

    "Wonderful," grumbled Steve. He made sure he spoke so not to

be heard be others. "We'll never see anything."

    "Not true," said a guard standing behind Lora. "We will be

bringing them out tomorrow. The Colonel is just following his

orders. This is all a formality. It's all very proper and in

accord with earlier agreements. Officials from the Antiquity

Department will be here shortly. Once they complete their

inspection, the excavation will continue. Are there other

questions?"

    "I have one," answered Lora. "It's about my sister. I would

like to know more about what she did. How did she find the Arks?

I know she dreamt of discovering it. Did she ever tell you about
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    237

her vision?"

    "Everyone," he replied. "She is not one to contain her

excitement. She is very contagious. But now, it is time for the

evening meal. Please sit with me. Everyone will have a million

questions to ask. And, I believe we will be able to answer all

your questions. I am sure our director will explain everything."

                                 *   *   *

    General Vorshkov entered his war-room's dining hall. The men

seated at their tables watched him intently. As his table was

prepared, a captain rushed in.

    "The President. He has called."

    Vorshkov looked up, and thought of the stack of memos and

status reports that he needed to read. "Patch it through to my

quarters," he replied. He grabbed two sweet-rolls as he hurried

back to his office. "Have coffee sent to my room," he ordered.

    "All is ready General," answered an officer. "The communica-

tions room has been informed."

    Vorshkov didn't reply, but instead hurried from the hall to

his private quarters.

    A sullen faced Dimitri Shaposnikov, President of Russia, and

leader of the Confederation of Republics, appeared on the video

screen.

    "Vorshkov," he opened without pleasantries. "Intelligence
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    238

has reported that a team of archaeologists have discovered that

cursed ark. Do you know what this means? We have received infor-

mation that the Israeli government will soon terminate the Oslo

agreement. It will be official tomorrow."

    Vorshkov thought for a moment. "If intelligence is right, we

have no choice but to advance our timetable. By tomorrow, our

southern republics will be demanding action. U.N. peacekeeping

forces may be entering Georgia a few weeks later. If we do

nothing we will have our own revolt."

    "But," Vladmir interrupted. "The Supreme command says that

it will be months before our Arab allies will be ready. By then

it may be too late."

    "My President, we can still do it. I have foreseen such a

development. I can have things ready in five days, seven at the

latest. But I will need more air transports."

    "The command is cutting the orders as we speak. They are

empowering you to use two additional squadrons."

    "In my contingency plans, number 16B, you will see that I

will order the Iranian and Syrian high commands to accelerate

their assigned tasks. They have been aware of this possibility

and additional units are awaiting their orders. The Syrians and

Iranians will be trucking armored and mechanized divisions to the

staging areas by morning."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 239

    Vorshkov paused for a moment and asked. "One more thing

Mister President. Is there any mention in the intelligence report

of an Amerikan girl named Kendra?"

    "You are right Nicoli. She turned out to be a potential

problem. If our Syrians friends succeeded, we will have a little

more time. I understand you have ordered two men from your

Amerikan units to assassinate her. It is a waste of time,

General. The damage is done."

    "That is true, Mister President. But please indulge me. It

is now a matter of principle. I would like them to carry out my

orders."

    "As long as it does not interfere with your mission.

Vorshkov!" The President's face turned stern. "Do not fail us."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   240




    Chapter 20

    Steve tossed and turned on his cot. The whomp, whomp of a

flight of helicopters disturbed his sleep. When the sounds

registered in his conscience he jumped out of bed and shook Lora

awake.

    "I'm awake! I'm awake!" she growled.

    Steve kissed her. "It was fun last night."

    Lora looked at him with a twinkle in her eyes.

    He peered out the tent. "Come on. I think your sister has
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    241

returned. Helicopters are landing." He looked up. "They're

gunships circling the area." He ran back to his cot and found his

shoes.

    Lora threw off her blanket as Steve hurried outside. "Three

big helicopters have landed," he called. "One has an expensive

white paint job. Let's go."

    Lora slipped into her clothes, hid her uncombed hair with a

baseball cap and darted from the tent. Steve stood with his

camera pointed up.

    Both arrived in time to see Kendra being carried from the

helicopter with the colorful paint job. The markings on its side

left Steve confused as to whom it belonged too.

    "Lora, you seemed pretty tough on Pete yesterday," Steve

said. He wanted to say more, but decided not to stir the boiling

pot. He watched Pete carry Kendra away from the helicopter and

the rotating blades.

    Lora stepped forward and Steve grabbed her arm. "Not as

tough as I'm going to be if he doesn't set her down," she

growled. "Look at that cast. It goes almost to her hip. What's

that around her waist?"

    Steve guessed at the wide black band. "I think it has

something to do with protecting her ribs."

    Kendra held crutches in her hands as Pete lowered her to the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   242

ground. Once standing, she turned to face the white helicopter.

    A Colonel, followed by a squad of soldiers, formed a barrier

around the white helicopter. Reporters hurried from another

military craft and stopped against the line of soldiers. An honor

guard of well armed soldiers followed the Colonel and formed up

facing Kendra. All eyes turned to the exit door of the royal

helicopter.

    His Highness, the King of Jordan, dressed in a white uniform

stepped from the door. Behind him came high Jordanian officials

and more reporters. The Colonel saluted the King. The honor guard

snapped to attention.

    Colonel Ahmed and his Tiger unit emptied from the third

craft. They fanned out to join the security net surrounding the

camp.

    The King walked over to Kendra and kissed her on the cheek.

"My people and my government will always be indebted to you," he

said. He then gave her a warm hug.

    Jordanian photographers (and Steve) caught the event on

their cameras. Steve focused in on the pleasure in Kendra‘s face.

He then caught her squeezing Pete's hand.

    Steve shot a glance toward Lora. "I think she likes him," he

said.

    Pete leaned a little closer to Kendra as the King and his
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    243

entourage met with the camp's director. "The limelight has

arrived," Pete said. "I hope I don't lose you, Goddess. The King

means what he says."

    "I like him," Kendra replied. "He is charming."

    "I guess decades of training, and ten years as king, makes a

person smooth." Pete tried to hide the distaste he felt. "I‘m

glad he‘s not going to hang around. Probably has a dozen wives

feeding him vitamins."

    She looked at him sheepishly. "He's not that old. Besides,

if you got any smoother, I don't think I could handle it. Anyway,

thanks for being jealous."

    They both chuckled.

    Lora rushed to Kendra's side. "Is your leg broken? What did

the King say?"

    Kendra gave her sister a hug. "My leg is not broken, just

bruised. As for the King, he hasn't stopped thanking me since we

met. On the ride here, I heard that the Israeli government has

made his nation an offer to buy the arks, but, for political

reasons, he can't let them have them. The American government has

also offered to pay one billion dollars for it. I guess if the

King authorizes the sale, the Americans might then give it to the

Israelis. For the moment the discovery has brought his nation

notoriety. It has also produced one big political headache."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    244

    Pete watched Dr. Huntington and the King walk down the path

to the cave. The entourage of dignitaries and reporters followed.

    "That person on the other side of the King is the Director

of Antiquities," said Pete. "He's brought a team from his office

to inspect the discoveries. I'll be heading down in a moment.

Keep an eye on Kendra, will yah?"

                              *     *   *

    "Good morning," said a familiar voice standing behind

Kendra.

    She turned and saw Colonel Ahmed. Behind him stood

Lieutenant Fadi. Kendra introduced the two officers to her sister

and Steve.

    "Allah has written that you would succeed," said Ahmed. "I

am honored to know such a holy person." Kendra reached out and

gave the Colonel a hug.

    "Thank you," Kendra said. Her face beamed with delight.

    Colonel Ahmed held her hands. "I hear that my King is going

to give you a medal. As for seeing you again, that is my reward."

    "It is a pleasure to see you both again. What brought you

and the Lieutenant to our camp again?" asked Kendra.

    "I am here to guarantee that the wishes of my King are

fulfilled. That is my official duty. But first, let us talk about
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    245

you."

    She raised her leg to show the cast with the King's signa-

ture. "I'm going to save this. It's not broken, but I have to

wear it for ten days. I don't want to impose on you but could you

sign it?" She looked at Lieutenant Fadi. "I would be pleased if

Mister Fadi would sign it also."

    "Lieutenant," Colonel Ahmed ordered. "Send someone to find a

marker. We have a cast to sign." He looked at his watch. "But

first I must beg your forgiveness. There are important

preparations that I must oversee. I shall sign your cast before I

leave."

    Lieutenant Fadi stepped alongside and scooped up Kendra's

hand. He kissed it. "I have not forgotten your prayer for me. The

words burn in my mind. You truly are a holy woman. My wound did

not weep after I changed the bandages that night. I am in your

debt." His body stiffened as he straightened his height. "Until

we meet again." He saluted Kendra. "I will not forget the

marker." He turned and followed Colonel Ahmed.

    Kendra noticed the tables being prepared for the news

conference. "They'll be holding interviews over there," she said.

"Sometime around noon. I think they're waiting for the TV trucks

to arrive. Reporters are coming from all over the region. Right

now, I want to hear about home. The radios are reporting the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    246

disaster along the West Coast."

    "We almost got killed," replied Lora. "It all began when we

arrived at San Francisco airport and..."

    Two approaching Israeli helicopters drowned out her reply.

    A head poked out of the radio tent and yelled. "They're

going to bring out the Arks."

    Lora tugged at her sister's arm. "Quick! We've got to get to

the cave. This is great!"

    Steve looked at Kendra. "I'll carry you down the hill."

Without waiting for her reply, he picked Kendra up. "Lora! Carry

her crutches. Let's hurry."

    A convoy of vehicles arrived. Reporters scrambled out and

rushed past Kendra. A communications truck, with Jordanian

national TV written on its side, unfolded a large television

dish. Israeli officials and rabbis arriving via helicopters made

their way to the cave. The Jordanian soldiers strung along the

path politely directed everyone to the cave.

    The King emerged from the cave followed by his officials.

Reporters crowded around, asking a myriad of questions. The King

waved his hand as a Rabbi appeared at the opening.

    A quiet murmur enveloped the area. Reporters spoke into

their microphones as TV camera operators videoed everything of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    247

interest. The distant beat of patrolling helicopters gave the

gathering an air of nervous expectation.

    Another Rabbi appeared exiting the cave backward. He held a

golden pole in each hand. The Ark emerged from the cave, along

with a second rabbi, who held the trailing end of the poles.

Following behind, more Rabbis emerged, each solemnly singing in

Hebrew.

    A different group of men appeared carrying the Ark. They

stopped once they cleared the cave, holding the Ark for the

photographers. TV camera crews captured every moment as reporters

explained what was happening to their viewers.

    Pete emerged from the cave and went to stand behind Kendra.

A solemn procession carried the two Arks up the mountain and to

the camp.

    Kendra closed her eyes in quiet prayer. "One of those Arks

is real. I‘m sure the one they found in the upper level is a

fake. The one I found has to be the work of the God of Israel.

The master of the universe." She raised a hand in praise.

    Lora stared at her sister and cleared her throat. "I know

you believe in them Sis, but what I see is two gold-plated boxes.

How much are they worth? Who are the men carrying them?"

    Kendra studied her sister. "In the Levitical priesthood are

a group called the Cohens. They are the God has permitted to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    248

touch the Ark. Anyone else will be killed. As for the value, the

Ark is priceless. It has been hidden for thousands of years, and

now it has been revealed in these last days." Her eyes revealed a

distant look. "Soon it will be in Jerusalem. A Temple will be

built to house it. Prophecy is unfolding before our eyes and the

world may not be listening. To me this is a fulfillment of Psalm

46." She turned to Pete. "Do you believe the one we discovered

carries the supernatural power of God?"

    Pete looked at her and then at the officials from the

antiquity department carrying additional gold poles. "If we can

get some fool to touch it, we'd know real fast."

    Jordanian archeologists came from the cave carrying large

flat boxes. Pete explained. "Those boxes hold the disintegrated

robes and ephod. More boxes will follow holding the golden

plates. The Cherubim‘s and Mercy Seat will be here in a few

minutes. We'd better follow everyone to the news conference."

                              *    *      *

    At camp, Kendra and Pete watched as the treasured items

vanished into sandbag encircled tents. Armed guards stood

outside. Farther from the camp rings of soldiers patrolled the

mountain.

    Reporters descended around Pete and Kendra.

    Pete held up his hands. "We'll be having a news conference
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    249

within the hour," he said. "I can‘t say anything until the

conference begins. These are the rules I agreed to." He glanced

at Kendra. "We all agreed too," he added.

    "We've heard that you two are responsible for discovering

the gold plate and one of the arks?" a reporter asked.

    "Without the work of the team," Kendra answered.

    Pete shot her a look to not say anything.

    "All who have labored here during the last two years," she

continued. "None of this would have been possible. I believe God,

in His divine providence, stepped in at the last moment and made

the search successful. Without the earthquake shaking this

mountain and weakening a section of the cave, none of this would

have happened."

    Doctor Huntington stepped up and stood in front of Kendra.

"Please take your seats. We will be giving interviews in a few

moments." He turned to Kendra and placed a finger to his lips.

                              *    *    *

    The King of Jordan arrived at the table and sat behind a

bevy of microphones. Doctor Huntington sat to the left of the

King. The Director of Antiquities sat to the right.

    "From the beginning," Huntington began, "our project has

made every effort to guarantee the integrity of archaeological

procedures. Without his Majesty's belief in this project, all we
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    250

have found would have been impossible." Doctor Huntington smiled

toward the King. "We would have gone home a long time ago. We are

indebted to the King for his faith in us."

    The King of Jordan stood and accepted the applause from the

reporters. "Doctor Huntington has molded his team into a tuned

representation of modern archaeology. The success of his

directions is now sitting in those tents. They attest to his

place in history."

    "Still," a reporter called from the crowd. "The actual

discoverer always gets the greatest recognition. I understand one

was discovered by Kendra Makray. I‘d like to know how she feels

about being the first to see it in twenty-seven hundred years? If

the Ark she discovered is genuine, her name will be written in

history books."

    Kendra looked at the Doctor Huntington. He nodded to her.

    "I'm proud to have worked with such a fine team," she said.

"I repeat what I have already said. This is a proud moment for

archaeologists throughout the world. This is a glorious day for

Israel, and for all who believe God."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   251




    Chapter 21

    The King stood behind a bevy of microphones and gave his

final statement. "We are grateful to Doctor Huntington's team for

this discovery. The Ark of the Covenant is now one of my nation‘s

sacred treasures."

    He turned to Kendra and smiled. "This young lady, through

belief in Allah‘s vision, her hard work, and perseverance, is a

delightful example to all archaeologists."

    He stepped over to Kendra, lifted her hand, and kissed it.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    252

After a few words to his officials, he departed to his

helicopter. Above, circling gunships provided a defensive shield.

    "We're all done," commented a mournful Pete. He watched the

helicopters fly East and past Mount Nebo. "The Jordanian

government is taking over the site. Trucks will arrive tomorrow

and take us off the mountain. The Ark, the artifacts, all will be

taken to Amman. As for ourselves," he turned to Lora and Steve,

"we'll be going back to Israel and Tel-Aviv for a few days."

    Steve looked at Lora. "Our tour guide will be here tomorrow

evening," he said. "We're the ones who came on this trip. She's

offered us a VIP tour if we can all wait until she arrives. Why

don‘t you and Kendra come with us? Though I doubt anything will

be as exciting as this. Everything's paid for. We asked earlier

about you both joining us. She said they would let us know. After

they hear about this discovery, I'll bet they'll insist on it."

    "I'll check with the Director," replied Pete. "Ninety

percent of archaeology is record keeping. It may take several

days to record the events of these last few hours." Pete looked

over the mountain road leading toward Jericho. "There's someone

coming." He pointed to a trail of dust rising in the distance.

"I'll be back in a moment."

    The limo skidded to a stop. The door opened and Sima jumped

out. She and the driver recognized Kendra at the same time and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     253

rushed to her side.

    "All Israel has seen you and your discovery on TV," Sima

said. She grabbed Kendra in a warm bear hug.   When she stepped

back she said, "I am honored to meet you."

    Lora whispered into Sima's ear. Sima‘s face beamed her

approval. "I would be honored if you and your friend, Mister

Peter Meirs, the great archaeologist, would accompany us on a

tour. I promise it will be most unforgettable. We will leave

whenever you wish."

    Kendra looked at Pete. "The great archaeologist," she

mimicked. Her eyebrows lifted as she prevented herself from

laughing.

    Pete saw the look from Kendra and flicked his right eyebrow.

A quick guttural clearing of his throat gave him a chance to look

for the Director. "Sounds good to me," Pete said. He turned back

to Kendra. "I‘ll check with Huntington. I'll be right back."

    Lora looked at Kendra and began to giggle. "The guy‘s an

idiot. There‘s nothing great about him. If he hadn‘t been close

to you, he‘d never be anything."

    "Lora," Kendra mouthed. "He‘s as great as anyone else. Don‘t

take out your anger on him."

    "You‘re right, Sis," Lora said. "I need to cool-it. Remember

when you came out of the King's helicopter and the King gave you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    254

a hug? You said I looked jealous. You maybe right. As for Pete.

I‘ll give him another chance. Besides, this discovery is

fantastic. You‘re famous. Please. You must come with us. And you

can bring Wolfy along."

    "Lora," Kendra said. Her teeth clenched and a plastic smile

covered her face.

    "I‘m sorry," Lora said. "I‘ve got to control myself. Let‘s

change the subject. You‘ve done something that I never could have

done. I‘m proud of you."

    Kendra took in a deep breath. "You know," she said. "I've

always envied you. When you got your degree, I felt inferior.

When the doctor did that test on my eyes and found those enlarged

dead spots, I was crushed. I knew for sure I'd never amount to

anything."

    "But look at you now, Sis. You're famous. Your name will be

written in history."

    "Yeah, but when I get back home, I'll still have a hard time

finding a decent job. Discovering the Ark of the Covenant will

not put food on my table. I still have to live one day at a

time."

    Lora reached around her sister. "I'm sorry. You‘re being too

hard on yourself. I think you might be surprised as to what that

find will do to your career. Anyway, we‘re together. We can make
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     255

it."

       Kendra looked at Lora. "I wish I had your strength."

       "You do, and more baby sister."

       "Here comes Pete," Steve said.

       "Huntington has given us all a few days off. He's shipping

all tapes and documents to Amman tonight. The Jordanian

government will bring in their own people tomorrow morning."

       Sima looked around at the reporters. "Before we leave, I

must first tell you something disturbing," she said. She directed

herself to Kendra. "Your discovery has brought great jubilation

to my country. It has also brought serious problems. We have

religious fanatics in our country known as the Temple faithful.

One of the things they are demanding is that the government build

a temple on the Temple Mount. Your discovery has created a

serious crisis. I fear we may have riots.

       "If the Jordanian government releases the Ark to Israel, the

pressures from both the terrorist and our own radicals will get

worse. The Syrian and Iranians are saying that there will be war

if the Ark is given to the Israelis. Just the opposite is being

reported from Jordan. They are worried that it might bring a

curse if they keep it."

       "What do you think, Kendra?" asked Pete. "Do you believe it

will bring chaos and suffering to Jordan?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    256

    "It might," she said with a shrug. "There is Biblical basis

for that happening, and the Jordanians are aware of it."

    From the east came the sounds of approaching helicopters.

Kendra recognized the white one with the royal emblem on its

side. "It's the King," she said excitedly. "He's come back."

    The white helicopter landed first. Jumping from the two

escort crafts appeared a large number of armed soldiers, more

than before.

    A Jordanian general exited a craft and greeted the Jordanian

commander guarding the artifacts. After a short discussion and

the signing of papers, the soldiers from the helicopter

disappeared into the two guarded tents. In a few seconds they

carried the artifact to the waiting helicopters. Soon the two

Arks appeared; each still strapped to their wooden platforms.

    Reporters and cameramen swooped around the soldiers, each

trying to get closer. The two arks vanished behind the safety of

the sliding doors of the royal craft.

    Immediately, the helicopter rotors increased their speed and

pitch. It lifted off and hovered high overhead.

    Seconds later, the soldiers returned to the other

helicopters. They carried the final load and entered the crafts.

Without comment the doors slid shut. The two helicopters lifted

off. Once airborne they rendezvoused with the Royal helicopter,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    257

pointed themselves west, and flew away.

    A soldier called from the radio tent and ran to his command-

er. The commander barked orders and his men opened fire on the

fleeing trio of helicopters.

    "What's wrong?" asked Lora. "They've gone crazy."

    Pete listened to soldiers yelling in Arabic at the vanishing

dots in the sky. A reporter rushed past him. One clear word made

sense, "Mossad!"

    Sima grabbed Kendra's arm. "We must leave at once. If the

Mossad has done this, we will not be safe on this side of the

border. The guards will arrest everyone."

    Colonel Ahmed rushed over to Kendra. "Quick! You must leave.

I will get you past the guards. Lieutenant Fadi will see to your

escape."

    Lieutenant Fadi looked at Sima and the limousine. "Is that

yours?"

          Sima and the driver both answered yes.

    "Get in, drive. You have just enough time to make it across

the bridge. I will get off at the checkpoint. Quickly, we must

go. The fanatics will be screaming for blood. Once this news

reaches Jericho, there will be serious problems."

    Kendra looked at Pete. "Let's grab a few things. We can
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   258

return later."

    "We'll meet you at the car," said Steve nervously. "Our bags

are still packed. It'll take a moment."

       The driver gunned the engine as everyone jumped aboard.

    Sima turned and talked to Lt. Fadi. "We still have time to

make the Allenby Bridge."

    Lt. Fadi shook his head. "At the last intersection before

the bridge," he said. "Order your driver to turn south."

    Sima looked at the Fadi and then understood. "Lieutenant

Fadi feels going by way of Abdallah will be safer. From there, we

will pass through the southern section of Jericho. T may be

dangerous. Jerusalem has received a strong earthqake. Many

buildings have collapsed. Half of the Dome of the Rock has also

collapsed. The hot-heads will blame the Jews."

    After fifteen minutes of driving Lieutenant Fadi stopped the

car and kissed Kendra's hand. "Thank you for what you have done

for my people," he said. His hand reached for the door handle. "I

will leave you now." He turned to the door, stepped out, and

called out something in Arabic. Four soldiers ran to the gate

from the guard station.

    Kendra smiled. "Your Colonel always has a surprise planned,"

she said softly.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  259

    Lieutenant Fadi smiled and a finger went to his lips. He

turned to the border guard, took the black marker and signed his

name to Kendra's cast. "Now get down. Do not sit in the back

seat. In case someone decides to shoot. Hurry!"

    Fadi turned to Pete and said. "Protect her." He then climbed

into a waiting jeep and sped back toward the mountain.

    The limousine crossed the bridge without incident, and

headed through the southern section of Jericho. The market place,

east of town, was crowded. As the limo sped past a row of

vegetable tables, Sima spied a young boy spinning around. In his

hand, she saw a Coke-a-Cola bottle. "Duck," she yelled. The

driver gunned the engine, and the bottle sped toward the limo. It

crashed through the rear side window. Shards of glass landed in

the rear seat.

    "Has anyone been hurt?" Sima asked. She studied everyone for

signs of bleeding.

    "No one's hurt," answered Pete. "Let's get out of here

before we stop to check."

    "It has begun," said Sima. She made a call on her radio.

Without saying any words to her driver, the car accelerated.

    "Drive faster."

    They sped into the Israeli controlled checkpoint and skidded

to a stop. After cleaning out the broken glass and reporting the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    260

incident, they drove up the winding road to Jerusalem. Behind

them, the sound of heavy gunfire rose from the valley.

    "We made it through the territory just in time," said Sima

as they pulled off the road. "The radio says that rioting is

spreading throughout the region. Our military will soon seal the

borders." She looked behind them at the convoy of speeding

vehicles.

    Cars, trucks, and communication vans sped past them on their

way to Jerusalem.

    "Why don't we go to Afula," suggested Kendra. The

nervousness she felt subsided. Feeling safer now she said, "I

want Lora and Steve to meet my godchild."

    "You're what?" asked Lora. "When did you become a godparent?

You never told me."

    Pete answered for Kendra. "She did this three months ago.

Both of us knew the parents before they died. It was a boating

accident. Kendra felt she needed to do something."

    "Her name is Esther Yehezkel," Kendra added. "She's four

years old, and a darling. She has brown hair and brown eyes.

She's very bright and seems to understand everything."

    Kendra paused for a second. Her face went serious as it

struggled with revealing something distasteful. "She's crippled.

It happened during the boating accident. They found the child
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    261

clinging to an oar. Since then, she hasn't been able to walk and

is deathly afraid of water."

       "Is her handicap due to a physical injury?" asked Lora.

    "No. The doctors say her condition is from emotional and

psychological trauma."

    "Esther's grandmother's name is Margaret," added Pete. "She

likes to be called Yiayia. That's Greek for grandmother. She

arrived from Cyprus in 1950. Her husband died in the taking of

the Golan in the '67 war."

                         *     *   *

    General Vorshkov looked at the clock on the wall. "Six

days." He glanced at the letter from the Supreme Russian command.

 "We have one hundred and forty hours. It is time." Vorshkov

called his second in command, General Brezhnev to the secured

cabinet. Both typed their security codes into the electronic

locks. Vorshkov opened the top door. Sixteen hundred pages of

theater level war plans lay stacked before him. Computer disks,

CD-ROMs, maps, and a detail printout of every facet of the

invasion occupied the lower drawers.

    Vorshkov lifted the first folder. "This will be a war to

remember. He sent a cryptic message to the Iranian general in

charge of Black Operations. By tomorrow the Amerikans will be in

the Stone Age. The Electromagnetic Pulses that will destroy their
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    262

electrical grids will be catastrophic." To the gods of war he

offered a salute. "That comet is a god-send. Perfect timing is

everything."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 263




    Chapter 22

    "I'll call back in fifteen minutes," Sima said. She held the

microphone in her hand and spoke to her driver. "Traffic to

Jerusalem is under attack, stone throwers. We must take the Fence

Road. It might be dangerous."

    "We‘ll be there in a minute," the driver said. "Keep watch

for other problems."

    Sima required no prodding to look for danger.

    "There‘s the sign," the driver said.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    264

    Sima read the marker indicating the Fence Road lay just

ahead. She pointed for the driver to turn. She then explained the

reason for taking a different road to Kendra. "We rarely travel

this way," she said as she finished. "The road is good, but it

runs very close to the fence."

    Kendra explained the fence and the road to her sister. "When

the Palestinian's were given the Jericho territory," Kendra said.

"They raided nearby Jewish settlements for cars and tractors.

Terrorist also snuck across the border to kill whoever they

pleased. The Israeli government built this 200 meter barrier to

discourage the attacks. It has worked, but it is not foolproof."

       "If it is dangerous, why are we driving on it?"

    "The road to Jerusalem has become less safe than this one,"

answered Sima. "We will not stop."

    Kendra studied the fence as they drove. It set a hundred

yards east of the road. Three rows of Razor wire, a ten foot high

fence in the middle filled with sensors, two very deep trenches,

it looked impassable. "Is it patrolled by the army?" she asked.

    "Yes," answered Sima. "But a few hot heads still manage to

sneak across."

    East of the fence, in the valley, black columns of smoke

rose high in the sky. Sima motioned for the driver to speed up.

"The wild ones are burning their city."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    265

    "Self-destructing," murmured Pete with disgust. "No one can

build anything if the nuts around you keep burning it down."

    "We will drive along the fence for twenty kilometers," Sima

said. She ignored the smoke. "This road is not very fast. It is

used by the military. We will go back down to the valley before

long. Then we will drive much faster. Afula is another seventeen

kilometers."

    Lora looked at her sister. "Is this the war you expected

after Israel found the ark?"

    "No," Kendra responded. She thought about Bible prophecy.

"What you see down there is religious rioters filled with hatred

toward Israel. The real war comes later, maybe in a few years."

    "Ah, yes," said Steve. "You expect the Russians to invade

and all the Christians to be taken off the planet." He suppressed

the desire to laugh. "That is called the Christian rapture, I

believe? My belief in spaceships arriving to take us good people

off this planet makes more sense."

    Kendra looked around then took a deep breath to gather her

thoughts. Sometimes Steve was exasperating.

    "Let's see if I can tell it," she said, "without putting

anyone to sleep." Her eyes rolled over to her sister. She told

Lora her belief after the first vision. At that time Lora

responded with, "That's interesting." She didn't believe me then,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   266

Kendra thought. She won't now.

    Frustrated that no one wanted to listen to her, she wrapped

up what she wanted to say. "In a nutshell, all the prophecy

teachers on the rapture have missed it by a mile. They've simply

selected the Bible versus that fits their tradition and won't

listen to anything else."

    "Look," cried out Pete, as he pointed ahead. "What's that?"

    Everyone focused on the curling black smoke before them.

    "About a quarter mile away." answered Pete. "Someone's

burning tires on the road."

    "Stop!" ordered Sima. She reached for the radio and

whispered something. Then she motioned for the driver to continue

with caution. "It may be nothing. But we will continue." She

looked at the driver. "An army patrol will be here soon."

    Kendra sensed the danger and began praying.

    As the limo approached the burning tires shots rang out. A

string of holes surrounded by spider webs of fractured glass

appeared in the windshield.

    "Get down!" yelled Sima. The limo skidded to a stop as a

Molotov cocktail exploded in front of them. Two more landed

behind, covering the road with black smoke and burning kerosene.

    Six men appeared beyond the flames. All carried Ak-47
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    267

rifles. Each wore the caps of the Palestinian police. Two took

aim and their rifle fire shattered the front window.

    Pete knew that inside they didn't have a chance. Outside, it

wouldn't be much better, but it might make a difference.

    Bullets punched through the steel skin of the vehicle.

    "Stay on the floor," Pete yelled. He pulled on the door

handle and swung it open.

    "If I get to one of the shooters, we might have a chance."

Without another word, he dove out. Rolling as he landed, he

counted on the smoke providing him some cover.

    Steve yelled. "Hold it. Look!" But Pete had already

vanished.

    Rolling across the ground, Pete scurried into a shallow

drainage ditch. One of the shooters stood partially concealed by

the smoke. Pete charged. His eyes and ears particularly focused

on the gunman. The wind shifted. The killer's face appeared and

the man saw Pete. Before the rifle swung towards him, the Wolf

attacked.

    Twisting the gun out of the man's hand, Pete found the

trigger. He squeezed off two quick rounds.

    Before the gunman spun to the ground, Pete was beside him,

using his body as a shield.

    Screaming in Arabic, the killer grabbed his shoulder. Pete
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    268

let him get up. The temptation was to squeeze off another shot,

but Pete let the man run toward the fence.

    The other gunmen were yelling something as Pete crawled

through the smoke on all fours. The Wolf searched for his next

victim. Listening with heightened hearing, their voices vanished.

The gunmen had run back to the fence.

    Still not sure they had left; Pete scanned the boulders near

the road. Only he, the burning tires, and the vehicle were left.

He heard coming from inside the limo, "they left."

    "Heading back to safety," he murmured. He circled the limo

looking for any one hiding to kill him.

    Steve jumped from the bus followed by the others. "They're

gone," he called. "Just as you rolled from the car and shot the

one closest to you, they all started yelling. When the two in

front ran away, the rest followed. I counted seven. They've all

gone."

    "I got one of them," Pete admitted. "But I don't think the

others saw me."

    Sima and her driver appeared next to Pete. The driver

reached for the rifle in Pete's hand.

    "What made them run?" asked Sima. "Our army patrol is

minutes away. I just talked to them." She stood wondering. Her

eyes filled with amazement. "I've never seen anything like it."

    "I saw something," remarked Lora. "I don't know what it was.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    269

For a moment, I thought I saw two tall men standing in the smoke.

Weird huh?"

    "Whatever happened," said Pete. "The shooters are gone.

Let's get the road cleared."    It amused him that his voice stayed

soft. Normally he got a little excited when people shot at him.

This time he seemed relax, most unusual. "We better not wait for

them to come back."

    "We can move those two," Sima said. She pointed to two

smoldering tires on the road.



    Israeli soldiers arrived as everyone helped to clear a

driving path. After a short consultation with the soldiers, Sima

ordered everyone back into the car.

    "We must drive slowly," stated Sima. "The windshields are

gone and our radiator is leaking. We will change cars in the next

town. We'll finish this tour, no matter what."

    She turned to Kendra and said. "The soldiers saw the attack

through their binoculars. They say two very large men left the

bus and fought with the gunmen. They never saw Pete. I never saw

them." Sima looked at Kendra, hoping for an answer. "The only

person who left the car was Pete. From a distance, with their

binoculars, they must have seen him standing in the smoke."

    Kendra shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe. Maybe it was my

angels?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    270



    The wind whipping through the broken windshields increased

as the driver sped up. Sima held her hair back from her eyes with

her hand and studied Kendra. "Finish telling us why you don't

believe the Christian rapture will occur with the war described

in Ezekiel, chapter 38 and 39."

    Kendra looked into the wind. "You are aware of Bible

prophesy?" she asked.

    "A little," Sima answered.

    "I don't remember where I left off," Kendra answered. "Maybe

we should do this another time."

    "It will help take my mind off the attack," suggested Sima.

    Kendra composed herself. "God is not the father of

confusion, and all scripture is God given," she said.

    "You know about the seven seals, the seven trumpets," asked

Sima?

    'Yes I do," answered Kendra. "I once made a chart that

showed that if instead of blowing the seven trumpets one year

apart, like most scholars believed; think of them being blown

simultaneously.

    "I understand," said Sima as she drove. "That these seven

trumpets are to be blown during the Feast of Trumpets. Is that

not true?"

    "That‘s the way I believe it," answered Kendra. "I also
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    271

believe the first seal in the book of Revelation was opened back

in the first century AD. The four horseman of described in the

first four seals have been riding and killing throughout one-

forth of the earth ever since that time. As for the seven

trumpets, what if they are actually describing a global nuclear

war. That certainly will fit the text as being the worst day in

human history."

    Sima hit the brakes to miss an ambushed car burning on the

highway.

    "Sorry," she said as the limo swerved, then straightened.

    Kendra held tight to the seat to keep from being thrown

around.

    Sima looked at Kendra. "So you see this time of Jacob's

trouble, what you call the Great and Terrible day of The Lord, as

being in the middle of the seven year period?" she asked.

    "Yes, that's correct Sima. I see it all coming together in

the middle of the seven years. I see the seven trumpets blowing,

the missiles rising, and the believers all vanishing in the

twinkling of an eye. The rapture will occur just before the

destruction begins. That's Pre-Trib. The destruction and the

rapture will follow after the last trumpet. That's Post-Trib. And

the rapture will be on the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

That's Mid-Trib."

    "Now I know why know one believes you," laughed Sima. "Maybe
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    272

everyone has taken other opinions and lived with then so long,

that no one can accept anything that shakes their beliefs."

    "I guess so," answered Kendra. "Whenever I've talked about

this to a pastor or prophecy teacher, all I've ever got was a

blank stare. I quit trying."

    Lora looked at her sister with doubting eyes. "Personally, I

like Steve's idea a lot better. He thinks the Space Brothers will

bring flying saucers down to evacuate the worthy."

    Everyone laughed except Kendra. Who know looked out the

window. Suddenly she felt too tired to talk.

    Two hours later, after stopping a numerous military road

blocks, they arrived at the city of Afula. They stopped at

Margaret's house shortly after. Lora looked at the cement and

limestone block house that Kendra's godchild lived in. The faded

red tile roof jutted past the walls and provided shade from the

sun. "They don‘t make houses like that back in Colorado," she

chuckled in part from admiration.

    "We have reserved accommodations for Steve and Lora," said

Sima. "They will stay at the hotel Jezreel." She turned to Kendra

and Pete. "The hotel management would be delighted if you accept

their invitation to a complementary dinner. I told them about

Yiayia and Esther. They are also welcome."

    "A free meal," Pete said. "Sounds great to me. Let's see if

Margaret and Esther will come."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    273

    Kendra said, "Wait here, I'll go and ask."

    All watched as Kendra used one crutch to walk to Yiayia‘s

house. She entered the home and everyone waited. A moment later

she reappeared, holding Esther in her free arm.

    "We‘ll all go," Kendra answered. "What time shall we be

there?"

    Sima looked at her schedule. "They would like everyone to

have dinner at six. That gives us an hour to freshen up." Sima

winked. "Do not be surprised if they wish to honor the

discoverers of the Ark."

    Kendra and Pete sent glances at each other and smiled.

    "Can you come back and pick us up?" asked Kendra.

    Sima conferred with the driver. "We'll be here at five-

thirty."

    Kendra turned to Yiayia and introduced her sister and Steve.

The trim, gray haired grandmother invited everyone inside.

    Kendra moved the small wheelchair away from the kitchen

table and sat down. She set Esther in the chair and hobbled over

to an empty seat. Margaret came to the table with a pot of

coffee.

    "Now," Margaret said. She sat down at the table and reached

for Kendra's hand. "Tell me all that you have done. I saw you on
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   274

television. Esther's godmother, the discoverer of the Ark of the

Covenant. What an honor." Margaret beamed with delight as she

looked at Kendra and Pete.

    The limo arrived at five-thirty. Ten minutes later Sima

walked Kendra and Pete into the hotel dining room. Pete carried

Esther. In the dinning room someone announced their entry and

their archeological achievement.

    "You are guests of our hotel," the manager said. His face

beamed with genuine pride as he handed them their menus. "It is

our honor to have you dine with us. If there is anything,

anything at all which we can do for you, anything which will make

your stay here more enjoyable, please, please feel free to ask."

He pointed to the waiter standing behind him and whispered into

his ear.

    Lora looked at Kendra. "Yes, my baby sister has done

something special."

    Margaret directed a question toward Kendra. "So you think

your discovery will lead to war?"

    Kendra looked at Pete. "I'm convinced of it."

    "When?" Margaret asked.

    "I don't know," answered Kendra. She watched the waiter fill

her glass of water. "Maybe soon. Maybe it will be a few years

from now. I don't know. If the people who hate Israel are mad
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   275

enough, it could be very soon. But I don't think so. Without the

Russians, they'd suffer another massive defeat. But if they can

pull the Russians into it, then, it‘ll happen at anytime."

    "Hopefully," interrupted Pete, "the intelligence community

will know well in advance of any such attack."

    "I too pray for that," said a grim Margaret. "I have seen

too many wars in my lifetime." She looked at Esther. "If I

thought it was about to happen, I‘d ask you to take Esther to

America. She would be safe there."

    "I promise," answered Kendra. "Maybe you should come too."

    Pete decided to turn the conversation to a more pleasant

subject. He turned to Steve. "How about showing us your room

after we finish?"

    Steve picked up on the change in subject and answered. "I'd

like to see it myself. Sima has implied that we have been given a

suite. We must owe that to you two." He looked at Pete and then

Kendra.

    "Get a good night's sleep," Pete said. "I understand Sima

has a busy day planned for you both. She's even invited us to go

along." He looked at Margaret. "Can Esther come with us?" he

asked. "It will do her good."

    Esther looked up from a cup of pudding. "Yiayia. Me go?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    276

    Supper ended two hours later. Pete walked in front of Kendra

as she used her crutch to enter the hotel lobby. Yiayia and

Esther followed. All went to Steve and Lora's room to watch CNN

news. From the corner of his eye, Pete noticed a person move

close to Kendra.

    Pete saw another person, with a deep beard and dressed as a

Hasidic Jew rise from his seat next to the entrance. The man's

eyes focused on Kendra. Pete saw his right hand reach into the

coat. Pete saw the man‘s eyes squint, and knew something was

about to happen.

    When the bearded man pulled his hand from the coat, it held

a pistol.

    Pete looked at the person behind Kendra. He did not look

like a threat. Instead that man‘s eyes looked glued to the guy

coming from the entrance.

    Without another thought, he grabbed Kendra by the shoulder

and shoved her behind a chair. "Get down," he yelled. Then in one

smooth motion, Pete pushed Yiayia and Esther back into the

dinning room.

    A gunshot rang out.

    Steve reacted by pulling Lora to the floor. Pete move

quickly toward the assassin.

    The killer changed directions, pushed past two elderly
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   277

tourists, and aimed his pistol at Pete.

    Pete hit him with a flying sidekick just as the gun fired.

The man‘s arm deflected toward the ceiling and fired again. The

assassin fell to the floor. Pete landed on his feet and continued

the attack. Two more shots rang out from another direction.

    The assassin tried to get up. His legs refused to help. Pete

felt amused by the shocked look on his face. The man‘s eyes

burned with determination.

    Another shot rang out, but it wasn't from the assassin. The

man‘s face froze in a blank expression. The fire and

determination in his eyes vanished. He collapsed to the floor as

the pistol slipped from his fingers.

    A person appeared beside Kendra holding a pistol. "Are you

hurt?" he asked. "I‘m a policeman."

    Another police officer reached the fallen attacker. The

assassin's hand reached out. His fingers were searching for his

pistol. The police officer stomped on the fingers.

    Two police officers rushed in from outside the hotel. They

twisted the assassin‘s arms behind his back. Pete heard a

cracking sound. The man‘s body went limp. A police officer ripped

open the assassin's pockets, searching for identification.

    "What's this about?" demanded Pete. He looked at the person

standing next to Kendra. The police officer showed his badge.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   278

Pete turned back to the attacker. A deep red pool of blood made a

puddle on the floor. He glanced to see if Kendra was unhurt.

    The police officer standing next to Kendra moved forward.

"We've feared that someone might create such an incident," he

said. "Since my nation took possession of the two arks, the

militants have increased their violence. While you are in my

country, I have been assigned to keep an eye on both of you. Your

discovery has incensed dangerous people. It is possible that the

orders for this attack came from Iran."

    Steve helped Lora to get up. "Does this happen often?" He

asked. His arm wrapped around Lora‘s shoulder and tightened.

    Lora looked at her sister. "You‘re a magnet."

    Pete tried to relax with a deep breath. "Things tend to

happen when I'm around Kendra." He then noticed a round-faced

person staring through the window.




    Philopas turned and walked to the car. Micchal sat behind

the wheel with the motor running.

    "The idiot failed," Philopas grumbled.

    "Next time," Micchal answered. "We do it ourselves. She will

not be so lucky."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    279

    Chapter 23

    Steve rubbed his back with his fingers. It was the spot

where a hypothetical bullet had entered his back. Shaking off the

thought, he handed another glass of wine to Lora. "Drink this.

It'll help you relax. I need another myself." He drank it like

water. "You'd think I was the one who fought in the lobby instead

of Pete." He flopped on the bed and turned on CNN. He propped

himself against the pillow and stared at the TV.

       "I'm glad Sis went home to stay with Yiayia," said Lora.

    "Got to admit, this trip has been exciting. Hope you got a

lot of good stuff on tape." She saw Steve look at his camera bag.

    "I‘ve got to recharge the battery," he said. "I didn‘t get

the stuff down stairs. That would have been something. I don‘t

think anyone back home will believe all that‘s happened."

    Lora counted on her fingers. "Six more days to go," she

said. "I‘ll be glad to get home and do nothing."

    "You might miss needling Pete."

    Lora sat on the bed next to Steve. "I don't like Peter. He's

just so different from Sis. Maybe he‘ll be good for her.

Something like opposites attracts."

    Steve turned up the sound and the television report from

America captured their attention.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    280

    "...After the comet's fragment smashed into the Pacific

Ocean, twenty-five volcanoes erupted from Alaska to California. A

small volcano has formed south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. In

Yellowstone National Park a volcano has exploded and is oozing

rivers of lava. The affects from the comet is spreading across

the globe. Hundreds of South American and Asian volcanoes have

also erupted.

    Indonesia has reported thirty-five eruptions. Little

Karakatoa and Mount Tambora have exploded with cataclysmic

forces. The eruptions are reminiscent of the 1815 explosion of

Tambora and the 1883 eruption of Karakatoa. Hundreds of millions

of tons of deadly sulfuric gases are being released into the

atmosphere. Every nation along the Pacific Rim has been touched.

Hundred of thousands of lives have been lost."

    "Tell me about it," Steve remarked. "We almost got killed

when California blew up."

    "Quiet," Lora snapped. "I want to hear this." She swallowed

down the last of her wine.

    "...Earthquakes have moved eastward across the nation. The

Chicago area is watching the East Side of the city sink below

lake level. Farther south, the Mississippi River has changed its

course in two places. Up here in New York State, we are under a

constant pollution alert from volcanic dust.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    281

    "Yesterday, for example, in Poughkeepsie, the city‘s fire

fighters went out to extinguish blazes that never existed. The

fire chief blames the red setting sun refracting through the dust

for this problems. At this moment, he says the hills west of the

city appear to be on fire."

    "Must be breathtaking," sighed Lora. She filled her glass

again and drank another glass of wine.

    "Yeah," responded Steve. "But, those volcanoes are pumping

tons of ash and poisonous gasses into the atmosphere. To me, that

is more of a worry than all the auto pollution that has ever

been."

    The scene on the news station changed to the nation's

capitol. "Today," another commentator said. "The high temperature

in Washington D.C. never went above fifty-nine degrees, twenty-

five degrees below normal. Scientists believe we will be

experiencing a form of nuclear winter with a cold summer. They

believe it will last from two to three months."

    Steve looked at Lora and slid an arm behind her back. "I

think I'd like to move to Costa Rica." Then he thought about the

volcanoes in Central America. "Well, maybe it is better to be

where we are, at least for the moment."

    "...The government is worried about the nation's food

supply," the commentator said. "They do not expect anyone will
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   282

starve, but the prices are rising very fast."

    Steve felt his body sag from the bleak news. "It may be time

we buy that wheat grinder you've always wanted."

    "We interrupt this news broadcast to bring you a special

report from our affiliates in Chicago and Kansas City."

    Steve's eyes opened wide as he watched the report.

    "The eastern sections of Chicago, after enduring hundreds of

small tremors, has dropped below the level of the lake. The

natural earth barrier south of the city has also sunk. Lake

Michigan is flooding south and is cutting a path to the Illinois

River. Whole communities have been flooded or swept away."

    The scene changed to Kansas City. "Two strong earthquakes

have just hit the Missouri-Arkansas area. This is the third time

the Mississippi River has changed its course. Hundreds of

freighters and barges are now sitting in mud."

    Scenes of homes floating in the river filled the television.

"Homes caught in the new path of the river's flow have been

washed away. The National Guard is searching for survivors."

    Lora reached for the television remote and clicked to

another station. "I don't want to hear anymore."

    "But," protested Steve. "I have to know."

    "Maybe something else is on?" She got up from the bed. "I
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    283

need to brush my teeth."

    Steve waited until Lora left the room. Then he turned the

channel back to CNN. "...Oregon to California, it is estimated

that thirty-thousand people have died from the earthquakes. More

than twenty million people are homeless. Natural gas lines will

take years to rebuild. Sanitation is nonexistent. Electricity is

non-existent. The high temperatures are ten to thirty degrees

lower than normal. Mother Nature has gone wild.

    "Along the east-coast, the forecast throughout New England

is not expected to rise above forty. A portent for the summer is

yesterdays recording in Savannah, Georgia. The Jet Stream has

dipped to its winter path. The normal daytime high of 88 degrees

has plummeted to 43 degrees. Forecasters are predicting a Fourth

of July high of only 52 degrees."

    Steve turned the TV off. "You‘re right. I've heard enough.

Even with the problems we have." He looked around the room. "We

don't have it bad."

    Lora returned and jumped in bed.

    "My turn," he said. "I need a shower."

    Lora listened to the water running in the bathroom and

turned on the television set for one last time. "...There is now

a fear that the Pacific Ocean may flood into Arizona, Utah and

western Colorado. It is estimated that a 100 meter thick section
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 284

of the comet has smashed into southern Egypt. One other mass is

circling the earth. For the moment it seems to now a new

permanent moon."

    Depressed, she shut off the television set and went to

sleep.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    285

    Chapter 24

    Colonel Statski, alias Abdul Hakeem, Russian Foreign Servic-

e's covert station chief for Syria, sat beside the tall road

sign. His eyes and bushy eyebrows were all that could be seen

from beneath his hood.

    Setting forty kilometers north of Damascus, the noise of the

city lay far away. He enjoyed the wind and flat plains. Only dry

brush and sturdy grasses now kept him company as he waited. He

loved being out here. In the distance small farms dotted the

landscape and looked like an oasis of green floating among the

dry brushes. Across the road, a cow foraged among the shrubs. In

the distance, speeding from the Addula military base, a tan cloud

of dust grew larger and higher in the cloudless blue sky.

    He waited for the military convoy, mesmerized by the

approaching sight, which distorted and shimmered in the heat. The

lead vehicle appeared and disappeared. The heat magnified the

vehicle so that he saw the wheels, radiator and windshield. In a

blink just the dust cloud was visible.

    Before long he heard the distant roar of the unmuffled

motors. A moment later, the lead vehicle bloomed, as if a dream,

and the convoy was upon him. Statski tightened the turban chin

cloth over his nose and waited.

    An officer seated in the lead vehicle yelled something
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    286

abusive as he sped past. It was impossible to hear his words, but

even with the noise, Statski understood the angry glare. Truck

after truck rumbled past.

    Wind and dust engulfed him until he saw nothing but tan

dust. The roar of straining motors, exhaust fumes, and shaking

ground warned him that the convoy still existed. Then it ended.

Statski waited. One more vehicle, two kilometers back from the

dust, followed. He waited.

    "Hope he sees the sign," Statski muttered. Then the final

truck sped past. He saw the shiny silver object hang suspended in

the sun lit dust. His man did not miss. Then it dropped.

    The sounds from the convoy faded, and he hurried to the

center of the road. There is danger in waiting, he thought,

frantically searching for the silver vial, he also listened for

any approaching vehicles.

    He found it as the dust drifted away. With a swift kick he

sent the vial spinning to the road's edge.

    The blue sky reappeared as he sat in front of the vial. In

the distance, travelers worked their way onto the road.

    Raising his hands in feigned outrage at the passage of the

trucks, he yelled at the sky and uttered some meaningless phras-

es, in case someone was watching. He picked up the vial and

feigned a prayer toward Mecca.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    287

    He bowed, opened the vial and pulled out the rolled report.

    "So the Iranians purchased three more nuclear warheads and

sold them to Syria." He grumbled at the news and memorized the

message. Six battlefield nuclear warheads are being carried in

the convoy. They are being taken to a staging area northwest of

Damascus, sixty kilometers from the Israeli frontier.

    He thought of the disintegration of the Soviet Empire, its

chaos, and the rampaging crime. No one in my motherland is safe

after dark. The criminals own the cities.

    Statski never got over the death of the Soviet Empire. He

longed for the days of stability. "Whatever our faults, at least

we managed to control our weapons," he sneered.

    After the break-up, in the ensuing political and military

chaos, hundreds of nuclear warheads disappeared. Many showed up

on the black market. Others found there way into the private

arsenal of paranoid Soviet generals. The central government knew

who had them, but didn't dare fight to get them back. Now his

government found itself being blackmailed by rogue generals and

breakaway republics.

    Some were reacquired by Amerikan grant money. For others,

the price demanded blood. It was known that Iran purchased

twenty-five tactical warheads for twelve billion Amerikan dol-

lars. The nuclear warheads they have currently produced in their
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    288

weapons program are heavy and bulky.

    After Israel stole the Arks from Jordan, Iran demanded that

any forthcoming war use twenty of their coveted warheads on the

Israeli dogs. The Moslem brotherhood accepted the offer in a

festive spirit.

    He grunted in disgust, for what seemed a lifetime of futile

work. A senior member of the intelligence community, he was one

of the last original KGB station chiefs. After the breakup of the

empire, and his disillusionment with the Russian confederation

that followed, he planed to retire to a simpler, quieter, and

saner life.

    The government awarded him a small piece of land outside St.

Petersburg. He wanted to go home, maybe get married, and rest.

With the increasing tensions in the Middle East, his government

requested that he stay in place for ten more years. Those ten

years grew to fifteen. Now he wanted out. There is a war coming,

he thought. I don't want any part in it.

    His superiors always considered him a realist. He also knew

that they would not take care of him. Now they have asked him to

stay on five more years. He wondered if he'd survive long enough

to retire.

    Supplementing his pay from the Russian Foreign Service, he

sold information to anyone who paid with gold. After twenty
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    289

years, he amassed the tidy sum of 700,000, Swiss, in two secret

accounts. He used it to purchase a nice farm in Alberta, Canada.

    Buried on his lien free property was his real retirement

policy. In a spot only known to him sat 1720 one-ounce gold

Canadian maple leaf coins. In another year, if he survived, he

hoped to round it off to an even 1900 ounces. At twelve hundred

an ounce American, with no debt, he'd live a very comfortable

life for his remaining ten or twenty years. Of course if gold

went higher, say to two-thousand American, life will be even

sweeter.

    Yesterday, Moscow informed him of a Syrian/Iranian military

agreement, but that he already knew. He also knew that a Russian

Colonel-General named Vorshkov has been given ten mechanized

Russian divisions. In thirty days, six wings of fighter-bombers

and fifteen divisions of ground troops would be transferred to

him. Statski knew trouble was brewing and once it started, it was

time to vanish.

    Statski‘s orders required him to confirm all troop movement,

along with anything that looked contrary to the agreement with

Vorshkov. Iraq intelligence brokered a secret acceptance of

Iran's nuclear offer qualified as a change of plans. If the

American hadn't pulled out of Iraq in 2008 this might never have

happened.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    290

    He looked at his watch. Everything needed to be ready by

three. "Thank God the transmission will last just a few seconds,"

he whispered. "Not like the bad-old-days when I typed the reports

and sent them by diplomatic courier."

    The Colonel climbed onto his motor scooter; kick started the

engine, and headed for the dilapidated apartment where his secret

narrow beam satellite transmitter lay hidden. At three o'clock, a

passing Russian weather satellite would receive the transmission.

An hour later, it would be down linked to Moscow.

    He drove up to the transmitter house and checked for any

unusual signs. Confident that no one had found his transmitter,

he disarmed the booby-traps and entered. Sliding a table to the

center of the room he reached up and slid back the hatch that

opened to the roof.

    Lifting himself up to the roof he disarmed another trap,

opened a small storage shed and checked the twelve-volt battery.

Seeing all was well, he turned on the computer. After entering

his password, he started typing.

    When finished, he switched on the transmitter with ten

minutes to spare. A quick check of the twelve-volt auto battery

told him all was ready. It had plenty of charge.

    While waiting, he daydreamed about his farm. "It's time to

retire," he said. A smile crossed his face. "If this general‘s
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    291

war goes sour, I'm not waiting around. It is time to vanish."

    A small yellow light glowed. He placed his finger on the

transmit button. Five seconds later, a green light began pulsat-

ing, and he sent his report.

    The high frequency narrow beam transmission shot straight to

the passing satellite. Ten seconds later, another green light

came on; indicating the transmission received.

    He turned off his equipment, pulled it away from the roof

window, closed the opening and covered the transmitter with a

tarp. He scratched his bushy eyebrows. In a minute he reset the

booby-traps of explosives and gasoline that lined the apartment.

    "It is now in Moscow hands," he whispered as he locked the

door. Then he affixed a small hair to the door jam and door. Once

the apartment was secured he drove away.

                               *   *       *

    Vorshkov watched the satellite transmissions from the United

Nations Security Counsel in New York City. The emergency meeting

working out a compromise to defuse the growing Middle East

tension ended with only one resolution. A more pressing problem

filled their agenda. The comet crashing into the Pacific Ocean

and the one that hit Egypt now took all their time and energy.

    The resolution quickly passed called for the thirty-five

acre Temple Mount to be divided half under Moslem control, half
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    292

under Israeli. Separate access routes would be constructed for

each side. Two parallel walls were to be built. Neither wall will

touch the other. The worshipers on either side will not see the

others building. The resolution called for the Israeli government

to pay for all construction costs.

    A clip of riots in the city of Jerusalem came on another

screen. Vorshkov watched tens of thousands of Israelis demon-

strating and battling police. They wanted their government to

build the temple.

    "They are being swept up in the euphoria of possessing the

Ark." He then growled softly, "If she only died."

    Urgency propelled General Vorshkov. His war might still be

put on hold. He needed to call the President, and the Central

Committee. After a successful conclusion to the invasion, his

leadership within the Supreme High Command (VGK), and General

Headquarters (Stavka) would be assured. The capture of the huge,

undeveloped, northern Israeli Gonen oil field would cap the glory

he so richly deserved. The developing oil field in northern

Jordan was in its infancy. It might even someday rival the

Saudis. But for now, it was the Israelis who commanded so much

energy.

    He might even be assigned the chair of First Deputy

Commander of the Main Operations Directorate. Under his leader-
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    293

ship, he would show his genius as he updated the detailed plans

relating to all strategic operations. The invasion by the

Egyptians will not be expected. The comet that crashed into their

nation now demands their full attention. Right now the integrity

of the Aswan Dam and earthquakes need all their industrial and

military might to cope with.

    "Good afternoon, Mr. President," said General Vorshkov.

Shaposnikov's image appeared on the Tele-conference screen.

    The President of Russia glared into the camera.

    "Is there something wrong?" asked General Vorshkov.

    President Dimitri Shaposnikov pounded his hand on the table.

His face twisted with rage.

    "I am not in a good mood Nicoli. The Egyptian are forced to

pull out of your plans. Also our people in Syria have informed us

that the Syrians have added something unexpected to your plans."

    General Vorshkov felt his future dreams evaporating.

    "The Iranians have given three nuclear warheads to the

Syrians, and the Syrians plan to use them. I thought we had

guarantees that no nuclears would be used, except by us? What has

changed, you ask? Don't ask. It makes me sick. Minutes ago, I had

a conference with that Syrian devil.

    "For the moment, I have persuaded him to do it your way. But
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    294

I offered him something in return. Your plans called for none of

our stolen nuclear weapons to be used. That must still be. I am

doing everything in my power to limit this war to the Middle

East. The Amerikans are hurt, but they are very dangerous. If

that rock landed on Washington our worries would be over. But no!

It lands in the ocean.

    "I do not want to precipitate a nuclear war. Everything we

have worked so long for will be lost. In the name of peace, I

have asked the Stavka and VGA to add another option, one that is

contained within your contingencies. They have agreed to refit

our high speed air to ground missiles with .5 kiloton nuclear

warheads."

    General Vorshkov nodded as he thought. More than is

required, but it will guarantee my victory. "I thought you and

the high command did not wish to aggravate world public opinion

any more than necessary?"

    "We cannot help what is occurring. All we can do is make

this war successful and get it over as soon as possible. Our

effort at holding the confederation together is already under

immense strain. General Kazachskaja is still reporting the loss

of two hundred warheads. God knows what he's done with them.

We've traced some to Iran, but the rest are still hidden. They

are blackmailing us, Nicoli.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    295

    "Our Moslem republics are holding a knife to our throat. If

we still maintained control over all our weapons, I'd tell them

to leave us out of this. The Israelis will eat their armies

alive. But it's too late for that."

    "Mister President. If we do nothing, there will be no way to

preserve our prestige. No one would respect us. But, I believe if

we proceed with boldness, we may not only enrich our political

influence, but may create a windfall of billions of dollars in

hard currency. At the same time, we will decrease Amerikan

influence.

    "Mr. President, I believe we can destroy the Israeli nation

once and for all, and still prevent this war from becoming a

global catastrophe. It is good that you have prevented the

Syrians from using those warheads."

    "I have considered," Shaposnikov interrupted, "the assassi-

nation of the Syrian president, but that would be meaningless. By

the next day, another one just like him will have taken his

place. The America and British governments and agents are in

place. No! Assisting the Syrians and Iranians in their conquest

of Israel is our only path, and we must proceed quickly. You must

give us victory. And I want that oil field."

    The President stood. His oversized leather chair rocked

back. He reached for a folder marked TOP-SECRET.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   296

    "We have authorized you to use battlefield nuclear weapons.

I will fax the papers to you for your signature. If Hussein sees

his forces being defeated, we may not control him. If we

can't..." Shaposnikov stopped and shook his head.

    "I will not fail you comrade Dimitri," promised General

Vorshkov.

    "Pray that you don't. The safety of mother Russia rests in

your hands."

    Vorshkov nodded. "I will begin ferrying troops immediately.

I have twenty Candid and Condor transports at my disposal. As we

speak, they are delivering ten thousand of Russia's finest

airborne troops. Our Moslem republics have assigned ten divisions

for this operation.

    "When I have them in position, I will give the order. The

transports will take one hour to travel the four hundred miles to

the Jezreel valley drop zone. But, enough talk, time is precious.

We will be victorious Comrade President."

    "I hope so," General. "I pray we will."

    "We will, Mister President. We will."

                                   *    *     *

    Micchal spotted them walking into the Ben Gurion airport

terminal. "Vacations over," he said to Philopas. "There's our

target walking with Lora and Steve. Keep an eye on Peter Meirs."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   297

    Busses unloaded hundreds of tourists at the curbside.

Micchal and Philopas moved through the crowd and entered the

terminal through different door. Micchal carried a short cane in

his right hand. Philopas held a thin attaché case.

    Micchal moved closer. Two tourists stood between him and his

prey. His hand pushed a button on the cane's handle. A needle

one-centimeter long extended from the bottom. The tip was covered

with poison. One jab and she would be dead.

    Micchal knew that in the crush of the crowd she'd never feel

the jab. He looked at those standing in his way. He'd squeeze

past them and it will be over. For a moment he thought of what PF

level sunscreen to buy. Maybe a number eight.

    Philopas moved in from another angle. He pressed his thumb

on a small button in the handle of the attaché case. A ring

appeared from the top of the case. He slid his right index finger

into the ring. If Micchal's needle did not get her, he would.

    A pull up on the ring and his attaché case would unleash a

stream of nine-millimeter slugs. Inside the case lay a strapped-

down, silenced American MAC-11. A clip of thirty-two rounds would

speed through the gun in two seconds.

    After the shooting, he would shove the case into some

unsuspecting fool‘s hand. In the confusion, he would either fall

to the floor as part of the act, or work his way outside.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    298

    Philopas came into range of stabbing Kendra. A quick flick

of his wrist and the bottom of the cane would soon prick her leg.

A small scratch would do. He eased past the last couple. The

crowd shifted and another person moved between him and the

target. He reached past the unsuspecting tourist with the cane.

If Kendra reacted, the tourist standing between him and her would

hide his presence.



    A familiar face caught Pete's eye. It was Moonface, the man

at the hotel window. Can't be two guys who look like that, he

thought. He also sensed the guy wasn't a cop.

    Pete nudged Steve toward the man as the needle sped toward

Kendra. Steve bumped into Moonface. The cane twisted then hit.



    Philopas knew he made contact. With a flick of his wrist the

cane returned to his side. He turned and walked toward Micchal. A

wink in his eye said the mission was accomplished.



    Pete saw the cane hit Kendra's shoulder bag. She stood

unaware that anything happened. His eyes followed Moonface as the

man walked to the door. Pete knew the guy was up to no good.

    He nudged Steve to take a look, but Moonface stepped

outside. "We better get out of here ourselves," Pete whispered.

"That Moon faced guy we first saw outside the hotel, just tried
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   299

something."

    Steve studied the door, but never saw the attacker. "But we

have a plane to catch."

    "You got three hours before the flight. I think we better

get out of here." He looked around for the cop who was supposed

to be protecting her.

    Steve looked at the soldiers and border police. "Why not

tell them?"

    "They'd arrest me and hold you for questioning. You'd never

make the plane."

    "I'll go get the car," said Steve. "Make sure Lora knows

what's happening."



    Philopas turned to Micchal in disbelief. "I know I hit her,"

Both watched Kendra walk past the window, heading toward the

doors.

    "There isn't any chance that you missed?" asked Micchal.

    Philopas shook his head. "She was to close. I know I got

her."

    "You did poison the tip didn't you?" asked Micchal angrily.

    "You watched me. There‘s no aging problem with Rican. The

stuff stays one hundred percent lethal. This is crazy. I hit her.

I know I did."

    "One of them is watching us," Micchal warned. "I think you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    300

have been recognized. That Meir‘s guy shoved Steve into you just

as you attacked. You hit something, but it wasn't her. We failed.

We cannot report this to General Vorshkov."

    "We won't. They'll be another chance. General Vorshkov did

say there is something strange about her, like she is protected.

He might be right. But she won't be lucky the next time."



    Steve ran to the car. Lora and Kendra waited with Pete.

Kendra, looking for something to say blurted out the words

bubbling inside her, waiting to be spoken. "We're being honored

by the Israeli government. It's a lifetime award."

    Lora looked at her sister. "Pete just saw that Moon-faced

guy try something, and all you can say is your going to get an

award. You may not live to see it."

    "We heard about it yesterday," Kendra continued nervously.

"I was going to tell you after I received it. The whole team is

to be awarded Israel's highest civilian award, the Ben Gurion

medal. The Prime Minister himself will present the honors to us.

It's pretty exciting."

    "That's exciting? You get attacked once at the hotel and

maybe here at the airport and you don't think this is exciting?"

    "There's something else," continued Kendra. She ignored

Lora‘s comments. "We've heard some talk that they're giving us

the right to fly to Israel for a two week vacation every year, as
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    301

long as we live."

    "Sis. I hope you live a long life, but I think we better get

out of here."

    Pete moved Kendra and Lora toward the curb. "Here comes

Steve."

    The car screeched to a stop. Pete wrenched open the doors.

"Hurry! Get in," he said. Then he opened the trunk and threw in

the luggage. As he closed the lid Pete saw the man who had stood

with Moonface moving toward them.

    "Trouble's coming," he yelled. "Let me drive." He motioned

for Steve to slide over to the passenger seat. "I've just changed

our plans," he said. "Buckle your seatbelts. We're heading to

Afula. I'm sure Yiayia won't mind us dropping in unexpectedly."

He glanced over his shoulder at Steve. "We'll call the airlines

and get new reservations along the way."

    Micchal hurried and pressed the button in the handle of his

attaché. His trigger finger slid into the firing ring. If he

could get alongside the side windows, the sub-sonic nine

millimeters would penetrate the glass and kill them all.

    "He's almost here!" Lora screamed.

    Pete revved the engine, jumping the clutch, as Micchal came

alongside. The car leaped to life with a screech of wheels and

burning rubber. Pete heard the tink, tink of bullets striking

metal as he sped away.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     302

    Micchal stopped. To keep moving would draw even more

unwanted attention. The exhaust smoke from the busses would hide

the smoke from his weapon. He put holes in the metal of their

car, but never penetrated the glass. The bullets didn't

penetrate. If only I had my customized AK-47.   "Of course," he

muttered in Russian. "Israeli security would cut me down."

    As he walked off to meet Philopas, he snarled, "Next time."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    303




    Chapter 25

    "It‘s time," said Colonel General Nicoli Vorshkov with a

face chiseled in stone and in his best formal voice. "I commit to

the gods of war a million men, the reputation of a dozen nations,

my life, and my career. We will not fail. Now, let it begin."

    A communications expert rushed to his side. Vorshkov read

the note. Two nuclear explosions have bee recorded high in the

atmosphere. One exploded four hundred kilometers east of New York

City. The second exploded three hundred kilometers west of Los

Angeles. Both ships have been sunk by the Amerikan navy. There

are survivors.

    The Iranians and North Koreans must also be reading this

report, he though. They better be ready.

    Everyone in the cavernous war-room looked at the General.

His senior commanders, flight and ground controllers, all stood
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    304

at parade rest in front of their stations. Vorshkov folded the

report in his hand. "Good luck to them," he whispered as he

pushed away his thoughts toward the Iranian and Koreans.

    Turning to the men under his command he began. "We began

these preparations a month ago. Everything has moved too fast for

American intelligence. Now we begin the final exercise and with

it the first blow in my plans. Tonight, our training and planning

will enter the churning caldron of the real world. In twenty four

hours, the world will say, ‗We have accomplished the

impossible.‘"

    Vorshkov looked with piercing eyes at his senior commanders.

"Are we ready?" he asked. He knew the status of each arena as he

glanced at the steady green lights suspended above each

commander‘s area of responsibility.

    "Everything is ready General," replied Major General

Brezhnev. "We have finished retesting communications for each

sector. Satellite reception at the company level is excellent."

    General Vorshkov looked at the situation screen. A sea of

colored lights sat positioned south of Damascus. Each light

represented one company of men, one tank, one mechanized unit, or

artillery piece. They all glowed bright with readiness.

    "We await your command," Brezhnev said.

    "Good. That is very good. Let's not keep our enemy waiting.

The Israeli intelligence station on Mount Hermon will not be
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    305

fooled for very long."

    The display connecting his war-room to Moscow flickered. "Is

our link to Supreme Headquarters functioning?" Vorshkov asked

about the video imperfection.

    "We are picking up sun spot activity," answered the

communications commander. "It is disrupting three of the higher

frequencies. We shifted to lower channels." The main battle video

screen cleared. "All real-time channels are working perfectly.

Four back-up channels are in standby mode."

    General Vorshkov studied the display hanging from the roof.

"I see that eight rocket launch groups are not yet in position."

    "They will be there in thirty minutes. Concealing them from

prying eyes has delayed the schedule."

    He stepped around his command station. "I will be in my

quarters. Call me in twenty-five minutes. Keep everyone busy," he

ordered and walked to his stateroom.

    He reveled in the benefits victory would bring. He, Colonel

General Nicoli Vorshkov would be a kingmaker. No president or

illicit gang would be able to survive without his approval.

    Number one on his list would be the jailing of those who

sided with the Russian Mafia. Fifteen percent of the gross

national income vanished down their black hole of political

payoff and gang protection. Secondly, he would squash the seven-

percent of the population that grew fat through illicit
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   306

activities.

    "May the gods of all forces shine on me. Or whatever super-

natural entities exist out there," Vorshkov whispered as he

opened the door to his suite.

    Everyone knew Vorshkov believed in the supernatural, even

his Christian bible-believing son. He shuddered at the thought of

his son accepting the fable of the Bible as true history. "Who is

this GOG person my son wrote me about?" His lips curled in

irritation as he entered his office. "Someday, given enough time,

our scientific community will know the answers. For now, I have

twenty minutes to refresh myself, and then a war to fight."

    His eyes drifted up to his stocked bookshelf of military

geniuses. Here sat his favorite books - Alexander, Napoleon, Karl

Von Clauswitz, John C. Fuller, Alexander Suvorov, Frunze and

Zhukov. He smiled warmly.

    "These are the legends of warfare, books that I understand.

Geniuses of their time who shaped all that came after them." He

looked at the tattered Bible his son gave him. "Here I am,

standing at the moment of my greatest challenge and he sends me a

book of fables," he said and scribbled a note for his senior

commanders.

    He positioned himself in his favorite chair. "Time for a

little relaxation," he said as he closed his eyes and interlocked

his fingers. "Ha-Ring, Ha-Ring," he repeated his Mantra until his
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    307

voice drifted away. A thought appeared and he followed it to

wherever it led. When he realized he wasn't repeating his Mantra

anymore, he began repeating it. "Ha-Ring, Ha-Ring, Ha-Ring," over

and over until it again drifted away and another thought

appeared. He enjoyed the remembrance of thoughts that nagged him

during meditation. Sometimes, he identified problems in his plan

that now came to light.

    In twenty minutes, General Vorshkov became conscience, and

wiped his eyes. He began counting to himself. When he reached one

hundred, his eyes opened.

    Refreshed, he felt ready to go. He required little sleep,

only two hours each night, but somehow, after he completed a

transcending meditation, he felt more refreshed than if he did

sleep.

    He rejected the teachings that turned a relaxation technique

into an eastern religion. He believed that was for the weak

minded. Meditation was a technique, not something to worship.

     He pressed the intercom button to talk to his second in

command. "Any change to our status, General?"

    "No sir," replied Brezhnev. "Relax Nicoli. Everything is as

it should be. Our rocket units have arrived at their position."

    "Thank you. I needed to hear that." He thought about the

status of his units. "The Iranians, Libyans, Ethiopians and

Iraqis volunteers have committed what they promised?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    308

    "Yes, sir. They have even added more units in reserve.

Probably in an effort to out do each other."

    Vorshkov chuckled and tapped a command on his keyboard. A

video display revealed each nation's commitment, their combat and

reserve strength, current geographical locations, staging areas

and readiness.

     The Iranian contingent had swelled to 400,000 combat

soldiers - readiness was now at 92%. The Syrian contingent -

300,000 - readiness 89%. The Moslem states from the Russian

confederation numbered 300,000 - readiness is at 97%. Military

advisors read 33,200 - readiness 100%. Ethiopians, 20,000 -

readiness at 89%. Iraqis, 10,000 - readiness 91%, and the Libyans

are showing 52,000 at 96%.

    The page holding the rockets grabbed his attention. The

bottom line showed 60,000 in a ready state. Another 11,000 will

be held in reserve. Plus he had another 2,000 somewhat accurate

70 kilometer rockets in Southern Lebanon. Three thousand similar

rockets had been smuggled into Gaza over the years. He planned to

blanket every military airfield with these rockets. These are his

Ace-In-The-Hole card as the Amerikans are found of saying. With

them, Israel aircraft will be non existent and slowed to a crawl.

The ten aircraft always on patrol will be overwhelmed and quickly

destroyed. Enough time will elapse before their runways are

cleared that his aircraft will be at their throats before the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    309

Israelis get one plane in the air.

    He paged through the armored divisions, memorizing their

status. Then came a description of all the types, sizes, and

numbers of field artillery, and the all important short-range

rockets. He studied the readiness of the refire launchers. With

their modified rockets, they will help to neutralize Israeli air

power. 'Let's see about their air power." Screen after screen

flashed before him of Israeli air might. "Always impressive, no

matter how many times I read it. But soon, you will be mine."

                               *     *   *

    Pete stopped long enough to make a short phone call to

Yiayia. Steve received confirmation that he and Lora are still

booked on a return flight to New York. Hopefully, he thought, the

killers will not be waiting.

    As he drove, Pete described Moonface in vivid detail. When

he finished, everyone possessed a searing picture of what the

assassin looked like. He tried to describe the second man, but

the lighting had made it hard to see much detail.

    "Two people are after Kendra," said Lora. "If we ever see

them again, we must call the police. If they don't cooperate, I

think Pete should take out Moonface."

    Everyone looked at her and began laughing.

    "What did I say?" said a confused Lora.

    "It was nothing," answered Pete. "What else should we do?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   310

    Lora continued as if uninterrupted. "Steve will jump the

second guy."

    Steve looked at her and shook his head from side to side.

"What books have you been reading?"

    "Has anyone got a better idea?" she growled back. "If so,

I'd like to hear it."

    "What happens if there's more than two?" Steve asked.

    "Let's not make more trouble than we have," said Pete.

"Don't let our imagination run wild. Just be sure everyone knows

where we park our car. Maybe we can escape without a fight."

                              *       *   *

    "Our little pigeon has flown the coop," sneered Micchal.

    Philopas looked at the tip of his cane. "Lora and Steve

still have a plane to catch. We will wait."

    "If they do not come back we might lose them."

    "Let's sit in the car and watch. If they called the police

we don't want to be standing here. If they don't return soon,

we'll drive to Afula."

                              *       *   *

    "Yiayia!" Esther called, "Kendra's here. I saw her sleeping

on the cot."

    "Shish, little one," replied her grandmother. "Let them
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    311

sleep. It is not yet daylight."

    Esther listened to her grandmother then turned her wheel-

chair back into the room and peeked through the door. In a second

she was alongside the bed. Her fingers slid through Kendra's

hair. She pulled herself onto the cot and snuggled up to her

Godmother.

    Kendra stirred as she felt something pressing against her

chest. She opened her eyes and moved closer. Esther's eyes opened

and she stared unblinking. Her brown-eyed gaze was fastened on

Kendra. Both looked at each other until Kendra spoke.

    Yiayia came into the kitchen from the back yard when Kendra

arrived with Esther. Yiayia carried a dozen fresh eggs.

    "Scrambled eggs, potatoes and vegetables. I have fresh bread

in the oven." Yiayia beamed. "Today is a wonderful day, and

tonight I shall make something special."

    "Hi, Esther!" called Pete as he rolled the empty wheelchair

into the kitchen. "Boy does it smell great in here."

    Yiayia's eyes lit up as Pete kissed her on the forehead.

    Esther reached out for him to lift her. "Missed me?" Pete

grinned and gave Esther a kiss and a warm hug. He held her high

in the air and tapped her head against the ceiling.

    "Again." Esther giggled.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    312

    "Awake at last," said Kendra as Lora and Steve strolled into

the kitchen. "Yiayia, Lora has asked me if it would be all right

if she worked with Esther."

    "You‘re sure it won't hurt?" asked Yiayia.

    "No! It's very, very safe," answered Lora. "What I'm learn-

ing is that counseling isn't so much what you're doing as it is

how you're doing it." She looked at Yiayia with reassuring eyes.

"I would like to help."

    "The police will be here soon to take your statements," said

Margaret as she gave Esther a gentle hug. "We will talk about

this after breakfast."

                              *    *    *

    Vorshkov's twenty-four hour exercise began at zero-four-

hundred. Each brigade level command followed their orders to the

letter. Vorshkov planned a simple diversion and a high level of

transmitted confusion.

    He knew Israeli intelligence would be deciphering intercept-

ed communications that revealed misdirected artillery fire, heavy

mortar units without shells, trucks without gas, and units

without any men. Other pseudo-concealed dispatches told of T72

tank units rolling over forward units and crushing men in fox-

holes.

    Vorshkov tapped his pencil against his knuckles as he

listened to his intelligence briefing. Electronic intercept units
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   313

picked up the increased transmissions from the Mount Hermon site.

"Beautiful," he said and smiled approvingly. "The screams of

dying men must make them shudder. Just what I want them to hear."

He looked on as his commanders broke out in hearty laughter.

    Vorshkov looked at the Situation clock. "We have six hours

to go," he said. "I want Israel Intelligence to intercept decep-

tive radio transmissions until it is too late. Have the two

fighter-bombers been shot down?"

    Brezhnev gave Vorshkov the thumbs up. "It has just been

completed."

    "Good."

    By noon, the combined Russian Confederation and Moslem

forces swelled to 300,000 with 20,000 Russian advisors. Israeli

intelligence, using videos transmitted from the OFEK-4 military

satellite became alarmed when 100,000 additional combatants

surfacing so quickly.

    Vorshkov was convinced that the chaos within the exercise

area would help convince the Israelis that the Syrian war exer-

cise had become a disaster.

    At three in the morning, Vorshkov ordered an abrupt halt to

the war games. On cue, the Israeli government ordered all

military forces to step down from their highest alert status.

    He conferred with his superiors in Moscow and reported.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    314

"Everything is on schedule. Israeli intelligence must now be

reporting that the Syrians and their allies are no threat to

their nation."

    Moving too fast for Israeli intelligence, Vorshkov's com-

bined forces swelled to 500,000 combat troops. Along the Iraqi

and Iranian borders, 400,000 troops, 2,000 tanks and five hundred

artillery pieces sat ready to assemble.

    Vorshkov fought back the tension screaming to disrupt his

self-control. "Soon, I will know if my deception has worked," he

whispered.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  315




    Chapter 26

    Pete threw the blanket off him in disgust. The police came,

offered a few suggestions, took a couple of notes, then left. He

wanted to bang their heads together. He wanted police protection

for Kendra, and he wanted it now. Instead, the officers acted as

if they had something more important to do. He looked at his

watch, five in the morning.

    A sound in the kitchen alerted him that someone else was

awake. He dressed and went to the kitchen.

    "Hi," Kendra said. "I wasn‘t sleepy. Thought I‘d write all

that has happened in my diary. Did I wake you?"

    "No," Pete answered. "Is that coffee I smell?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    316

    "It‘s a little weak, American style, but it tastes good.

Help yourself." She nodded toward the electric brewer.

    Kendra waited until Pete filled his cup and sat down. "Want

to tell me about it?" she asked.

    Pete searched her eyes. "I can‘t hide anything from you." He

looked into the vapor rising from his cup. "It‘s the whole thing

with the police. I don‘t see them doing anything to give you

protection. "I need to get away. Let's drive to the Tel. It‘ll

help get my mind onto something else. We can wake Steve and Lora,

and drive up there before sunrise. I‘ll give them my famous

dissertation on the place. When we get back, I‘ll buy everyone

lunch at Godfrey‘s."

    "Did I hear someone say something about Godfrey‘s?" asked

Yiayia. She entered the kitchen and headed for the stove.

       "Did we wake you?" asked Pete.

    "No. Something‘s nagging at me. I laid there tossing and

turning until I thought of doing something useful, like making a

fresh loaf of bread."

    "I couldn‘t sleep either," said Pete. "I wonder what‘s

bothering us. I came out here and found Kendra already up."

    "I made some coffee, Margaret." Kendra pointed to the

brewer. "It‘s still hot. I made it the way you like it."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    317

    Lora‘s voice caused everyone to turn. "Thought someone was

up," she said. "Is that fresh coffee I smell?"

    Margaret held up the coffeepot.

    Pete asked, "Is Steve up?"

    "He‘s getting dressed," Lora answered.

    Kendra closed her diary. "Pete wants to take us to the Tel

before sunrise," Kendra said. "Got any plans?"

    "I wanted to spend some time with Esther," Lora said. "If we

can be back in a few hours. I planned on trying some art therapy.

Esther and I will be going into town to pick up supplies."

    Pete cleared his throat. "I expect to have everyone back by

nine," he said. "The stores should be open about then."

    Steve entered the kitchen. "Sounds like a morning excursion

is being planned?"

    Pete explained his plan and waited for acceptance of his

idea. No one moved. "Come on, it'll help take our minds off of

those guys. The sun will be up soon." He glanced out the kitchen

window. "It's going to be a beautiful day. We'll get there just

at sun-up, and I'll give you my special story about the history

of the place. When we get back, we‘ll drive in and get Lora some

supplies. For lunch, I'll treat everyone to Godfrey's." He looked

at Margaret for acknowledgement. "They make the best lamb and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    318

rice I've ever eaten. It's just across from the police station, a

hole in the wall, but it serves great food, and it's clean."

    Margaret smiled. "Godfrey has been a friend for a long time.

My husband and I met him when we fought against the Syrians on

the Golan." Her eyes filled with tears as painful memories

resurfaced. "My husband saved his life. An hour later..." She

didn't finish and turned away, staring out the window. "It is

almost dawn," she said. "The sun will be up soon. If you're going

to Megiddo before sunrise, you better get started."

    Pete hugged Margaret, raised her chin with his hand, and

kissed her on the cheek. "We'll be back early, by nine. Love you

Yiayia."

    Margaret smiled. "We'll be ready. Esther wakes around eight.

She'll be sitting at the door when you drive up." She handed a

lunch bag to Pete. "Some oranges for later. They'll taste good

once the sun warms the Tel. They‘ll get your digestive systems

going."

    Pete looked at his watch. "Five o'clock. Time to go. The

sun‘s up in twenty minutes." He opened the front door and saw a

sliver of brightness on the eastern horizon.

    Lora gave Margaret a hug from her heart. "I'm so glad you've

let us stay here," Lora said. "Your home feels more comfortable

than my own. And I'm glad you are letting me help Esther."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     319

    "You and Steve are always welcome." Margaret said. "Things

are not well with your home country. The radio this morning said

a high tidal wave; a ten meter high tsunami has hit your

Florida's Atlantic coast. Miami has been flooded. It all came

from an island off Africa."

    Lora held Margaret's hand as everyone went to the car. "It

is frightening. I don't know what we are going to do." Looking

into Margaret's eyes she saw the concern.   "Thanks again," she

said in an attempt to change the subject. "You sure you won‘t

come? We can wrap Esther in a blanket. I'll hold her on my lap."

    "No. You just go along. We'll be ready when you return."

    Lora gave Margaret a kiss. "I see why Pete and Kendra like

it here. My heart aches to leave. Maybe I should stay? Maybe

there's something I could do? What if those men come around?"

    "I don't think so," Margaret reassured her. "My friends at

the police station will come if I call them. Go along, you‘d

better hurry. Everyone's waiting."

    "Come on Lora," called Kendra. "It's going to be daylight

soon. Yiayia, we'll be back in a few hours. This afternoon, Pete

and I will take Esther and explore around the Sea of Galilee."




    Micchal put down the phone. "Here's the address in Afula,"

he said with a sadistic smile.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    320

    "Shouldn't be too hard to find."

    "The sooner we get this job done, the more time we'll have

to relax."

    Micchal's wristwatch signaled the time: five-thirty. "I want

to be at their house by seven. But first I need breakfast. I'm

starved. This work makes me hungry."

                              *      *   *

    In the approaching dawn, twenty supersonic Russian Blackjack

bombers approached the Turkish border. Their flight plan called

for them to fly south across the Mediterranean and make a

goodwill visit to Cairo, Egypt. The closest approach to Israel's

borders would be five hundred kilometers.

    Thirty-five thousand feet below the aircraft, the Black Sea

lay dark, and the lights of Istanbul twinkled in the west. Below

their path sprawled the port city of Zonguldak. East of the city,

a large fire raged out of control.

    Looking down from the bombers, the crews strained to get a

glimpse of the orange flames that flicked and danced through the

glowing smoke. Though the city lay shrouded in darkness, to the

East, reddish-orange light, from a rising sun, reflected from

their faces.

    Hanging below each aircraft, two AS-6 supersonic

air-to-surface missiles hung within the fuselage recess. Two
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    321

slower AS-8's hung below each wing. All carried the smallest

nuclear warhead the Russian's possessed: .5 kiloton.

    Twenty-one SU-24 deep penetration Interdiction fighters

surrounded the bombers and flew within visual range. Each Su-24

carried two external fuel tanks, two air-to-air missiles, and

four AS-14 short range nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Ten long-

range Su-27 fighters provided primary air defense.

    If Vorshkov's plan went well, the supersonic bombers and

fighters would dash into Israeli air space within the hour. In

Syria and Iran, eight hundred fighter aircraft waiting for war.

                                   *    *    *

    At zero-six-hundred, Israeli intelligence received reports

that Iraq launched their fledgling air force of ninety aircraft

against Iran.

    Israeli AWACS aircraft watched as squadrons of Syrian

aircraft lifted from their bases. The AWACS computers sent

warnings to Israeli air defense. Airborne Radar and Electronic

Counter Measure, ECM, aircraft now shadowed the Syrian flight.

From Kuwait came precautionary warning signals to Saudi and

American forces.

    As the Syrian aircraft arrived at a point ten minutes from

their home bases, heavy electronic jamming erupted from every

Israel facing radar sites.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    322

    Hidden by electronic interference, thirty of the larger and

slower bombers continued on their original course. They dropped

dozens of small radar reflecting cruise missiles to confuse

Israeli radar. The remaining aircraft executed a quick turn to

the southwest.

                                   *    *    *

    General Vorshkov watched the flights on his position map

with apprehension. If my surprise doesn't work, Vorshkov thought

grimly, this will be the shortest war on record. Israel will be

considered invincible. And I will go home in disgrace.

    "It is time," he said as a large red digital clock went

below plus five minutes. "The Israeli OFEK-4 intelligence

satellite will be over Syria in fifteen minutes. Order the Iraqis

to stop jamming. Israeli radar must see the drones." He looked at

his second in command. "Everything is right on schedule. The

Israelis should be confused by what they see."

    "The drones are still heading west," General Brezhnev

responded. "I would say that this information is already at IDF

headquarters. I have ordered the Syrians to increase their level

of radar interference. No signals are being received of unusual

activity within Israel. Your plan is working."

    Vorshkov smiled and nodded. "The Israelis should be using

their over the horizon radar scan about now. But we don't want to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   323

make it too easy for them."

    In Syria, all military airfields came to life with urgent

activity. They had sat in readiness for weeks. More than a dozen

Israeli agents reported the increased level of activity.

    Syrian fighters became airborne in five minutes. At the same

time, Iranian aircraft skimmed the desert two hundred miles south

of the Iraqi city of Abu Kama. At six hundred miles an hour, they

needed fifteen minutes to get to the Israeli border. American

radar operators in northern Iraq picked up the Iranian aircraft.

Ten minutes later they transmitted the data to Washington.

    Vorshkov sipped on his coffee. "The Israelis should be

watching our Syrian drones heading for the Iraqis border. It is

time we blind their AWACS. Turn on ECM stations A-ten, A-eleven

and A-twelve. That should hide our friends for a few more

minutes. It will be all the time we need."

    He watched the radar interference develop. "Good. Very good.

Turn on B-5. Let's add a little extra protection. Are the refires

at a hundred percent?" he asked.

    "Yes commander. Nine hundred refire launchers and sixty VX

nerve gas launchers are ready. All are waiting your orders."

    "OFEK-4 is approaching the area." Vorshkov replied.

"Hopefully Israeli intelligence has taken the bait. If so, they

are aiming their cameras at the cruise missiles heading for Iran.
  ISAELI HEAT                                             324

Soon, my two hundred fighter-bombers will be upon them.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   325

    Chapter 27

    Colonel Khanty Norodnaya, flight commander for the Russian

supersonic Blackjack bombers, sent a cryptic message to a passing

Russian satellite. The note will be read by General Vorshkov.

When he completed the transmission, Norodnaya used an open

frequency for all inquiring ears to hear.

    "Our schedule calls for us to commence ECM (Electronic

Counter Measures) testing," Colonel Norodnaya read over the

unsecured channel. "Please comply immediately." He turned to his

co-pilot. "The Israeli military should be listening. Let us

continue as our planned flight schedule calls for us to do."

    The plans given to Egyptian Air Controllers, a month

earlier, sat in a holder hooked to his seat. A different set of

plans covered Khanty's clipboard. "Yes," he said to himself. "We

will follow our Egyptian plans to the detail."

    Every crewmember knew that a copy of their bogus flight plan

sat before the Israeli AWAC air controllers. The Israeli

government protested the ECM testing, but the Russian government

guaranteed that the test will last just fifteen minutes. Khanty's

orders required him to shut down his ECM jamming before civilian

aircraft were affected.

    Three hundred miles away, Israeli radar operators following

the Russian aircraft watched as their radar screens became a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    326

hopeless scramble of dots and wiggles. The electronic snow

rendered their radar tracking useless.

                                   *     *   *

    "Excellent," replied General Vorshkov to the satellite

report from the bomber commander. "The flight is now invisible.

Israeli air defense will now dispatch two F-15's to make visual

contact."

                                   *     *   *

    Using the cloak of electronic invisibility, Khanty listened

to his navigator count out the seconds. "Prepare to execute the

turn toward the east." He listened as his navigator counted out

the seconds.

    Khanty took up the count. "Eight, seven, six, five, four,

three, two, one. Execute."

    The flight of bombers and escort aircraft made a precision

turn toward the east. Su-24, Su-27 and Blackjacks all turned as

if one.

    Khanty listened as his navigator indicated when to drop the

external fuel tanks. All the fuel used to fly to their present

position had come from the externals. Now the time arrived to

relieve themselves of the added weight and drag.

    Yet sometimes this simplest of operation did not always go

as planned. An external tank could hang on a latch. A spark could
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    327

ignite the spilt fuel. A valve might remain open and drain the

main tanks of all fuel. If any of these conditions affected one

of his aircraft, that unfortunate crew would have a one-way

mission.

    "Drop tanks," Khanty ordered. He felt the tanks latched to

his bomber fall away and heard the okay from the co-pilot. The

valves are closed.

    He listened to the rest of his command. Everyone completed

the ejection.

    "All bombers set outer wings to sixty-five degrees," he

ordered. Once they adjusted the wing angle, he knew each Tu-22M-3

Blackjack bombers would accelerate to supersonic speed.

    "On my command, ignite afterburners," and he began the

countdown.

    Bombers and fighter accelerated to Mach-2. The lead naviga-

tor counted off the seconds for the controlled burst of speed. At

a calculated distance and time, before the Israeli F-15's made

visual contact, Khanty ordered afterburners off. The flight

turned south toward its original heading.

    Moments later Khanty watched two Israeli F-15's streak

through his formation. He knew they would radio what they saw to

the flight controllers. He also knew that the electronic fog they

flew in made a position check hopeless. They will be reporting
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    328

nothing has changed.

    Unknown to the Israeli pilots, Khanty's new position placed

him 250 kilometers closer to the Israeli coast.

                                      *   *    *

    Vorshkov saw the report of an Israeli AWACS aircraft flying

above northern Israel. He knew Israeli AWACS computer operators

watched the electronic haze to their west and north. Then they

would skip their radar beams over the interference into Syria.

Their on-board computers would soon flash a warning. Alert lights

would soon begin blinking warnings.

    After double checking the indicators, the AWACS duty com-

mander would then relay the information to air defense. On-ground

operators would replay the data to confirm the warning.

    Vorshkov figured that it would take the AWAC‘s operators,

along with ground radar, a minute to confirm the findings.

    "When identified," he said. "My aircraft will be minutes

from intrusion. If they restudied the data, and ask for an

update, our fighter-bombers will be on them.

    Vorshkov sat counting the seconds. Calculations are that

Israeli Air Defense will use thirty precious seconds rechecking

their recordings. He also expected the Israelis to initiate a

yellow warning.

    In ninety-seconds, twenty F-16's from the Jezreel valley
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    329

airfield would be scrambled. Throughout Israel, sixty additional

pilots sat in their aircraft, ready to start engines.

    Vorshkov tapped his fingers on his command desk. "It is

good. Our bombers in the ocean and our fighters to the north are

still covered by electronic confusion. The first wave of Iranian

aircraft will be over the Golan buffer zone in less than a

minute. We have caught the American U.N. operators by surprise.

Once they past the Golan, Israel is ours."

    "Cruise missiles away," Vorshkov ordered as he pointed his

finger to his missile group commander. He looked at the giant

battle field video hanging from the wall.

    "Rocket launchers are replying affirmative," said Brezhnev.

"All control has been routed to your position."

    Vorshkov watched as the steady yellow lights, which repre-

sented his launch units, began blinking. He pressed the button

and unleashed all the missiles except the VX. The nerve gas would

be held in readiness to prevent any Israeli Nuclear response. One

hundred lights stopped blinking yellow and turned red. "Have them

reload," he ordered. I want them ready for Phase II within twenty

minutes."

    Vorshkov took a deep breath and tried to relax. "American

radar ground stations in the Golan buffer zone should now be

picking up the flight of missiles. But it will be moments before
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    330

they strike. Any warning sent to IADF from their AWACS operators

will be meaningless."

    Vorshkov looked at the clock. "It is time for the rest of

our surprise." He pressed a second button. Along the Syrian

frontier, two hundred refire rocket launchers sprung to life.

These accurate short-range ground-to-ground rockets shot away in

a roar of smoke and flame.

    The Palestinian liaison at his headquarters barked a

command. Vorshkov was counting on the Hamas and Hezbollah forces

to fire Twenty-five thousand Kassam-2 rockets from all over the

Palestinian regions will now spring to life.

    A vital component in the initial phase in annihilating

Israel is his neutralizing the defending Israeli air wings.

Though an imprecise weapon, the Kassam-2's twenty-kilometer range

and 15 kilograms warhead will blanket the Israeli airfields with

so much debrie that it will be impossible for aircraft to take

off. Those precious moments at the beginning of the war will be

his and his alone. A few minutes later, his assigned air force

will strike the Israeli planes as they sit helpless on the

ground.

    "Our first wave of fighter-bombers, are they airborne?"

    Blue lights, indicating the location of selected targets in

Israel began blinking.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    331

    "Good!" he exclaimed as he studied the projection of real-

time data on the wall. "Our cruise missiles are on their way. All

are targeted for aboveground command centers." He then watched

the firing of two-hundred refire rockets thirty kilometers south

of Damascus. At the same time, five wings of Iranian fighter-

bombers screamed toward the Golan. In two minutes they will enter

Israeli airspace.

    General Vorshkov listened to the intercepted warnings being

transmitted to Israeli Air Defense. He smiled. "Our deception has

worked well." He looked at the Situation Clock. "In a few

minutes, all of Israel's airfields will shake at our thunder."

    Near the Syria border, refire launch crews quickly reloaded

as their first wave of missiles roared into Israel. One hundred

high explosive missiles headed for Ramat-David. The underground

hangers and Ramat David runways in the Jezreel valley will soon

be useless. Vorshkov's plan required that this strategic base and

its runways to be destroyed immediately. Three squadrons of F16's

lay hidden in those underground hangers. He needed to guarantee

that they'd stay there. If all went well, the captured base will

become the staging area for ninety-thousand airborne troops.

    "Two minutes," Vorshkov murmured. "Just two minutes, and

those runways will be useless."

    He held his breath and blew a steady stream of nervous air
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    332

toward the ceiling. He expected, at this very moment, every

fighter pilot in Israel was starting their engines.

                              *     *   *

    Enjoying the warm morning sunlight, Lora and Steve sat

overlooking the valley of Jezreel from Megiddo. Kendra sat next

to Pete and opened the bag of fruit Yiayia gave them.

    "I like the valley's ancient name," Kendra said. She lis-

tened to the peaceful sounds of songbirds chirping and calling to

each other in the morning air. "It's peaceful now, but this place

has seen its share of bloodshed." She sat on the flat-topped hill

looking at the mountains rising a few miles north. "It isn't much

to look at, but this valley will someday be host to a final

conflict, a battle between good and evil."

    "I guess I know who wins," Lora said. She slipped off her

shoes, wiggled her toes, and studied a farm. "That place over

there looks like a chicken farm."

    Kendra offered everyone an orange. She looked at the clear

blue sky, which warmed in the rising sun. "It begins with some

jerk, called the Beast," she said. "He's going to attack Israel

with the armies of the world. He almost succeeds. Victory is

within his grasp." She gestured toward the valley. "Then he's

destroyed somewhere out there."

    Steve looked at her and chuckled inside. "How can you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   333

believe all that stuff? When is this invasion supposed to take

place?" He closed his eyes and waited for her answer. "If the end

of the world comes soon," he added. "I have my money bet on the

Space Brothers."

    Steve waited for Kendra‘s answer. When it didn't arrive, he

turned to Lora. "I remember our friend Rabbi David Mondell

telling me I shouldn't worry. There are no coincidences. That God

made the good as well as the evil. Everything comes from God and

it will all end with God."

    "Yeah, I remember," Lora added. "I also remember some TV

preacher saying two-hundred million men will fight in this

valley. Think that's true?"

    Steve opened his eyes and glanced toward the valley. "The

place is long enough. I wonder what an army of two-hundred

million looks like? I once read that all the people in the world

can be crowded into the city of Jacksonville, Florida. If that‘s

true, then two hundred million can sit out there. But I don‘t

think we have to worry. It'll take years to even move an army

that large. Who's going to feed them? The logistics will be

overwhelming. It can't be done."

    Kendra looked around for more food. "All we have is three

Pepsi‘s and a few more oranges." A streak in the blue sky caught

her attention. "Look!" She pointed toward the sky. "What are
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 334

those lines?"

    Steve shielded his eyes from the sunlight. "They're not

aircraft. There's too many of them. Could be just about anything.

Reminds me of the floating spider webs we see in our backyard."

    Pete studied the lines for a minute and didn‘t like the

feeling nagging at him. "I don't like this. They could be

contrails." He glanced down to where the car sat. "Maybe we

better get back to town." He watched as hundreds of white lines

grew brighter and closer. When some began arching down, he

grabbed Kendra's hand. "Let‘s get out of here."

    Kendra saw the look on Pete's face and a feeling of uncer-

tainty made her look toward Afula. "We've got to get back. Yiayia

and Esther might be in danger."




    "Here's the lane," said Micchal. "The house sits at the

end."

    "Good," growled Philopas as he felt inside the gym bag on

his lap. His fingers rested on the silencer equipped Ruger .22.

"No one will hear me shoot her."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    335




    Chapter 28

    "They're attacking," yelled Pete. The distant thunderclaps

of exploding rockets and bombs prodded everyone to action. He

pointed north to the rising smoke. "I can see flames. They‘re

attacking the airbase up the valley."

    The roar of jet engines streaking overhead all but drowned

out the attack on the airfield. "Look," he pointed as waves of

fighters flew down the valley toward Afula. "They've got to be

enemy aircraft," he yelled. "Here comes another wave."

    The silhouettes of F-16 fighters appeared high in the sky.

"Here come the Israelis," Pete yelled. He felt like cheering
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    336

until he saw how few F-16's defenders flew above him. "They're

outnumbered. We better get out of here." He grabbed Kendra's hand

and pulled her after him. "Get to the car."

    "Pete!" Kendra yelled. "The vision! This war. I saw you

bleeding and hurt. You may be killed."

          "I'm not dead yet," he answered. "Let's get out of here."

    "I don't believe this," cried Lora. She absently picked up

discarded orange peelings. "We shouldn't have come."

    Steve ran to Lora and grabbed her arm. "Forget those. We'll

come back later. We're in real trouble." He glanced up at the

twisting aircraft dog fighting over the valley.

    "Look!" yelled Lora. "Smoke is rising from the direction of

the city. Yiayia and Esther," she cried. A dozen white lines rose

from the ground. "What are those?"

    Pete stopped for a second and looked. "They must have

batteries of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles stationed all over the

place," he yelled, "especially around the city." "I didn't see

any military stuff close to Margaret‘s house, but it must be

there."

    Pete jumped into the car followed by everyone.

    "Don't leave yet," screamed Kendra. "Wait a minute. Just in

case. Don't get out from under the trees. Not yet."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   337

    Pete stared at Kendra for a moment and saw the pleading in

her eyes. "Maybe she's right. We'll wait."

                              *       *   *

    Vorshkov ordered the third wave of eight hundred Syrian

fighters and medium bombers to streak south. "Stop all ECM

activity," he ordered. "If the Israeli‘s don't know what's

happening, they‘ve got to be dead."

    General Brezhnev called from another console. "A report from

our bombers over the Mediterranean. Israeli air defense has made

the calculated risk you foresaw and recalled their two shadowing

fighters. The bombers have begun their run."

    Vorshkov looked at the clock. He knew the Israeli ground

crews will be working to clear the runways. Both he and they

raced the clock. "I need fifteen minutes," he said. "Just fifteen

more. How are the refire launchers doing? I do not see enough

ready lights lit."

    "Computers say six hundred are operational. Twenty-seven

have been destroyed by premature detonations."

    "Commence firing," ordered Vorshkov. "We must keep the

Israelis on the ground. Use all reserves. Where is the second

wave of bombers?"

    "They are approaching the Golan," replied his air group

commander.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    338

    "Have them use afterburners," ordered Vorshkov.

    "But that will use up too much fuel," countered the group

commander. "They won't be able to stay over the combat zone as

long as we planned."

    "Nevertheless, have them do it."

    "But General, what of our plans?"

    "Do it!" yelled Vorshkov. "I want those fighters there now.

Our first wave is being destroyed!" He looked up at the situation

map and slammed his fist down onto his desk. "Of the one hundred

Syrian and Iranian fighters in the first wave, twenty-five are

still flying. Order those afterburners now," commanded Vorshkov.

"This is not a debate. I want those pilots withdrawn. They've

completed their mission. I will not permit them to be destroyed."



    Vorshkov studied the real-time satellite image projected on

the main battle screen. It showed a one hundred kilometer square,

centered west of the Tel Megiddo. "Are the refires launching?"

asked Vorshkov.

    "Yes sir."

    "Good. That will keep the airfields busy. Air status?"

    "The second wave of Iranian's have arrived. We have three

hundred Syrian fighters on afterburners. They are now over the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   339

Golan. The rest of the Syrian fighters are following."

    "Excellent," Vorshkov replied. "The second and third waves

will exhaust the ground-to-air defenses. Handheld Stingers

remain. Are the assault forces ready?"

    "Awaiting your orders General," said his ground assault

commander. "Twenty divisions are waiting your signal. One

mechanized regiment is approaching the abandoned U.N. zone. They

will be across in fifteen minutes. All Israeli observation

positions have been destroyed. In South Lebanon, two Syrian

mechanized divisions are pushing toward the border. No major

resistance has been reported."

    Vorshkov grabbed the computer mouse and clicked on an area

stretching from the Mediterranean to Damascus. A sea of green

lights revealed mechanized units loaded with soldiers. Huge

patches of yellow showed the location of division strength

infantry units.

    "They've arrived." The red dots of Syrian fighter appeared

over the Jezreel valley. Six blue dots winked out.

    "It is time," answered Vorshkov. He nodded at Brezhnev.

"Direct the incoming bombers. Send the release commands now."

                                 *   *   *

    Streaking inland, above the Mediterranean, Russian Blackjack

bombers and their escorts lined up on their respective targets.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    340

All supersonic AS-8 cruise missiles released first. Then came the

slower AS-6's. One-by-one, each aircraft completed releasing its

nuclear tipped air-to-ground cruise missiles.

    "Return to base," ordered Khanty. "Do not continue to Egypt.

Our job is done."

    The flight of bombers and fighters executed a turn and

headed home.

                                   *    *       *

    Brezhnev looked at the data from the high-speed printer.

"All AS-6‘s and 8‘s have been released. The bombers are returning

to base. First impact will be in two minutes. Israeli fighters

over the Jezreel have already expended all their missiles. The

Syrians are overwhelming them."

    Vorshkov looked pleased by the report. "Still they have

canon."

    General Brezhnev called out another report. "Israeli

aircraft are estimated to be out of fuel within ten minutes. The

cities of Nazareth and Afula are sending up heavy anti-aircraft

fire and missiles. We have lost one-hundred and fifty aircraft."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   341




    Chapter 29

    Pete started the engine and gripped the steering wheel so

tight his knuckles turned white. In front, he spied a truck

speeding from Afula. Before it reached the entrance to the Tel,

the truck vanished in a ball of flames. The burning wreckage flew

into the bordering field.

    "It's crazy," he said. "They‘re having dogfights up there

and some jerks fly down to rocket a civilian truck?"

    "Look!" yelled Steve. A large tangled piece of metal

spiraled toward them.

    "Down!" Pete yelled. He heard both girls scream as he gunned
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    342

the engine and turned the car away from the flying wreckage. The

left door window shattered, raining broken glass over him. "Get

out. Is anyone hurt?" He pushed against his door, but it was

stuck.

    "I saw the thing fly by my door," cried Lora. She scurried

out Steve's side, brushing round pieces of safety glass from her

hair. "I saw it coming straight for me. It was like slow motion.

I ducked just as it hit us, then the widow must have exploded."

    Pete slid over to Kendra's side and hurried around the car.

A giant gash, from the front fender to the rear wheel greeted

him. "The side and rear windows are shattered," he said. He

looked at the rear bumper. The outer foot was missing.

    "Get back to the Tel," Pete said. He shut the motor off and

grabbed Kendra‘s hand.

    Steve grabbed the bag Yiayia gave them. With his other hand

he reached for Lora.

    Pete watched two aircraft smash into the ground. The

thunderous explosions shook the earth, sending everyone to their

knees. To the north, he spied another aircraft, missing a tail

section, cart-wheeling through the air. It exploded on impact.

         Lora yelled through the thundering explosions. "Israeli?"

         "I'm not sure of anything!" yelled Pete.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    343

    "We've got to get out of here!" screamed Kendra. "We've got

to get to Esther and Margaret. They need us."

    "No way," yelled Steve. "You right about not leaving. We

must wait. It's getting worse. Look!" He pointed across the

valley as a burning parachute slammed into the ground.

    Syrian aircraft flying in tight formation strafed two cars

racing west with canon gun. One car exploded while the other

flipped end-over- end and landed in an empty field.

    Pete shook his head. "That's the craziest thing I've ever

seen," he said.

    "Yeah," said Lora. "No wonder they always lose their lousy

wars."

    Steve sat down under a tree and reached into the bag for an

orange. "Good thing we have these. We might be here a long time."

    Pete looked at Steve and the girls. "He‘s right. There's

nothing we can do. We better rest and eat a little food. It'll

keep up our strength." He looked into the sky at the raging

battle. "I, El Shugaa (the little warrior) am taking a break." He

reached for an orange and began peeling.

    Lora looked at Pete with an incredulous look. "How can you

eat at a time like this?"

    Steve finished his orange. "My camera," he cried. "I've got

to take videos. When we get home, they'll be priceless."   He ran
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    344

to the car and retrieved his camera. He returned just as an

explosion shooked the ground.

    Rocks, dirt, and branches landed around everyone. Another

aircraft exploded close-by, and a fireball of burning fuel lunged

toward the top of the Tel. The leading edge stopped short of

where they hid.

    A splotch of burning fuel splashed onto the tree above

Pete‘s head. "Wow!" he exclaimed. He looked around as if the

explosion was a common placed event. A burning branch landed a

few feet away. "We better move to the tunnel," he said in a quiet

voice. His hand pointed to the back of the Tel. "It'll be safer

in there."

                                *   *   *

    Seated in his underground command center, surrounded by

military advisors, the Israeli Premier, Amiran Levite Avraham,

looked at his Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Ehud Ben-

Izen.

    "Has THOR been activated?" the Premier asked.

    General Ben-Izen looked at his video display. "It will be on

line in twenty seconds."

    "Can it target the Russian bombers?"

    "There's too much interference. We can't get a good lock."

    The Premier looked disappointed. Have any ballistic missiles
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    345

been detected?"

    "None," answered the Chief of Staff. "THOR has no targets it

can lock-on."

    Premier Avraham shook his head. "Two billion dollars of

Nuclear and solid state LASER sitting idle while we are dying.

Our wonderful cutting-edge technology is useless."

    General Ben-Izen itched to give the order to fire THOR, but

until the defensive weapon had a firm target, the action would be

futile. He watched the light turn green.

    "THOR's active Prime Minister. It's ready when needed."

    Avraham thought of the tunnels under the mountain Har Beqa,

thirteen kilometers southeast of Beersheba, and wondered if the

six jet engines churned out enough electricity for Israel's

super-secret missile defense weapon.

    Originally designed by American and Israeli scientist,

disgnated Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL for short, the

sytem had potential but the chemical generated laser proved too

expensive. Then came the development of the 100 kilowatt solid

state laser. His scientist coupled it with a small particle

generator and in a blink, his nation had a super weapon. The

tactical high-energy laser weapon THOR was named after the Greek

God of lightning and thunder as a diversion from reporter and

spies. No one suspected the Jewish nation would name something
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    346

after a mythical Greek God.

    He saw in his mind the two magnetic directed canons. The

sophisticated, radar and computer controlled cannons are designed

to fire two quick bursts. The first burst sends a LASER slicing

slice through the air, clearing the way for the second. The

second burst carried packets of high-energy particles. Nothing

known to man has survived a direct hit by these particles.

    The only drawback came in the form of clouds. On a clear day

it is expected the laser and particles had an estimated range of

a two thousand kilometers. On a cloudy day, the testing indicated

maybe a one hundred. Today they were fortunate. Not a cloud in

the sky.

    The Premier moved toward the red table. He opened a case,

which contained the code and command sequences to unleash the

nation's nuclear arsenal. General Ben-Izen removed a key from

around his neck.

    "What's our condition?" the Premier asked. "Have the Syrian

fired the VX missiles?" He prayed that he would hear something

hopeful.

    "No nerve gas missiles have been launched." It may be not

necessary. All our conditions are deteriorating," General Ben-

Izen said grimly. "Prime Minister, we have no choice."

    Avraham straightened to his full height and took a deep
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    347

breath. He played and replayed this decision a hundred times, and

always it ended in a nightmare. Now the nightmare had begun. For

a decade Syrian nerve gas and Israeli nuclear might sat facing

each other. Each weapon prevented each from destroying the other.

    He closed his eyes and removed his key. "Are our commandos

on their way to destroy those launching sites?" He saw the nod

from Ben Izen. "Transmit the codes," he said.

    In minutes, his nation's nuclear tipped rockets, each

carrying three independent warheads, were computer updated for

military and political sites throughout Syria and Iran.

    The latest intelligence reassigned five missiles to military

targets in southern Kazakhstan.

    Stationed twenty kilometers away, an Israeli missile com-

mander relayed the status of his seventy multiple reentry mis-

siles. Each missile carried three warheads. The computers queried

each Q24-E-21 warhead and found each one operational.

    The Q24s, version 21, weighed one hundred kilograms and

carried a punch equivalent to forty kilotons of TNT. Sixty-five

missiles sat ready to launch. Five sat undergoing maintenance and

for reserve usage.

    Avraham thought about the destruction he'd unleash. One

hundred and ninety-five people killing, city destroying, thermo-

nuclear warheads will change the Middle East forever. "Nothing
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  348

will be the same again," he said sadly.

    Stiffly, he issued the command to fire.

    Two missile control officers completed their check list and

pressed the first button. Sixty-five hardened missile silo blast

doors slid open. Both officers looked at the green lights on

their command board. They looked at each other for a second so to

coordinate their movement.

    They turned their ignition control keys into the final fire

position. "On my countdown," the senior officer announced.

"Three!" He paused for a second. "In sixty second our job will be

done and then we are out of here. Two." His eyes glanced at his

friend. "One. Turn!"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    349




    Chapter 30

    "Intelligence has sent an urgent warning," yelled Brezhnev.

"The Israelis have started launch sequence. The VX missiles have

not stopped them."

    "But the VX‘s have slowed their response," answered

Vorshkov. "Where are our cruise missiles?" Beads of perspiration

formed on his brow as he thought about the consequences of bad

timing. "Timing is everything. If our cruise missiles are off by

thirty seconds..."

    "They've opened their blast doors," cried Brezhnev. His
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    350

voice rose in pitch with the anxiety he felt. The thought of

being buried under atomic ash made him sick. His stomach hurt.

    A display of the first cruise missile's detonation appeared

on satellite imagery. In quick succession the overhead display

revealed the detonation of scores of small nuclear explosions.

    Vorshkov looked at Brezhnev. "Oh, ye of little faith. We did

it. Too bad our satellite is moving off. I'd like to see this in

real-time."

    Brezhnev read the printout as a flood of telemetry indicated

cruise missile detonations in rapid succession. "Seventy hardened

missile sites are presumed destroyed. All warheads have detonat-

ed. One hundred cruise missiles, carrying .5 kiloton tactical

nuclear warheads, impacted within seconds of each other. The

delayed images will confirm what targets are destroyed. The few

we have seen show hits within ten meters of their targets."

                              *    *    *

    In the Israeli command bunker, Ben-Izen's face turned pale.

"They've destroyed our launch sites. How? One missile has

escaped."

                              *    *    *

    Gamnel moved closer to the apartment. He identified a lone

security policeman two days ago. No other government spy lurked

nearby. Pleasantly, he watched his daughter enter and leave their

building five times. He sighed away some of the tension he felt
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    351

and looked at his watch. She should be returning from school. His

disguise already allowed him to enter the apartment complex

undetected numerous times. He would now wait for his daughter to

return. When she opened the door to the apartment, he‘d descend

and follow her in. Then, the next morning they‘d escape.

    He made his way up the three flights of stair to his apart-

ment. Along the way, he looked at the peeled paint on the walls

of his home for many years. Slowly, he climbed an extra flight,

fighting the impulse to sit by the door. He prayed she'd be on

time.

    The padding of footsteps climbing up the third flight made

his pulse beat stronger. Please Allah, let it be her. He listened

as the steps stopped on the flight below and moved away. It must

be her.

    He descended the stairs and saw her entering the apartment.

He sprung into action and pushed the door open before she knew

what happened. The act, he knew, would startle her, but there was

no safer way.

    He pulled her toward him and squeezed his hand over her

mouth. He whispered in her ear as she struggled to scream. A

moment later her eyes looked at his face and she relaxed.

    "Father," she cried through his fingers.

    Gamnel put a finger to his lips for her to be silent. If the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    352

apartment is bugged, he hoped they did not hear their struggle.

He whispered, "I'll explain everything. But first we must pack

and prepare to leave."

    He went into their meager toilet room, pulled away the

baseboard from behind the door, and retrieved a small box. Inside

laid a portable police radio scanner, and a small police radio.

He plugged the scanner into the wall socket, turned it on and

listened. The scan stopped on the third search and Gamnel

listened.

    His face turned white as he ran to the window. Below, two

trucks of military and state security police screeched to a halt.

    "Quick princess, we must leave at once."

    Gamnel grabbed his daughter's hand, looked at the scanner to

identify the frequency the police used. Snatching up the box

containing the radio he headed for the door. A man appeared.

Gamnel attacked without thinking and threw him down the stairs.

He heard others running up the stairs.

    "Up." Gamnel pointed with his eyes and pushed his daughter

forward. At the same time he hooked the radio's earpiece over his

ear. He adjusted the frequency and listened.

    They made it to the roof undetected and wedged the steel

door to prevent it from opening. Both ran to the roof's edge. A

quick peek was all they needed. The building was surrounded. It

was a matter of time before the door flew open.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    353

    He looked at the ventilation shaft to the basement boiler.

He bolted a ladder to the inner cinder-block walls years ago.

"Over here," he called and began removing the cover.

    Banging on the door leading to the roof made him glance to

see if the wedge was holding. It was, but it wouldn't much

longer. "In here." He motioned for Tasha to climb in. He was

proud of her when she didn't balk at his orders. He stuffed the

box into his shirt. The radio blaring in his ear kept him

informed of how tight the noose was tightening.

    He replaced the ventilation cover just as the police broke

through the wedged door. AS he followed his daughter, a brilliant

white light appeared outside, and the radio went dead.

    They reached the basement and crawled through the corrugated

steel tube. The tube connected all the buildings within the

complex. In the dark, the box carried within his shirt spilled.

He scrapped up what he could and continued moving. A minute later

they entered the next building. He tried his radio again but it

would not respond. Disgusted he threw it against the wall. Gamnel

reached into his shirt and discovered that his false passports

and gold coins were gone.

    He knew he picked up all that spilled. His shoulders sagged

in the realization that the secret police had discovered his

toilet-hiding place. That meant they knew of the escape routes to

Jordan.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    354

    He pulled Tasha up the stairs leading from the basement and

peeked into the hall. It was empty. Holding her hand he hurried

to the back door. Children and parents stood outside looking up.

He mixed with the crowd before moving away.

                              *    *    *

    Brezhnev reported that a lone Israeli missile escaped

destruction. It released three warheads. "Our anti-missile

battalions have destroyed all of them at a very high altitude.

One warhead exploded. The area got bathed in an EMP wave."

                              *    *    *

    Gamnel listened to those looking into the sky. "I see

nothing but blue," he whispers to Tasha. "But something hap-

pened." He looked at the cars on the streets. Drivers stood

searching under the hoods of their vehicles. Nothing's working. A

motor scooter sitting beside a house caught his eye. "If that

runs, we have a chance." He looked back at his apartment

building, expecting to see security men chasing them. Something's

very wrong.

                         *    *    *

    Vorshkov studied the Damascus-based Russian anti-ballistic

missile reports. They fired six anti-missile missiles. All

emitted intense waves of X-rays as they exploded. Vorshkov

thought of the EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse). It will damage all

ground based electronic circuits. "Order our Syrian friends to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   355

begin a search for the fallen warheads."

    He watched as radar showed the warheads falling north of

Damascus. One landed three kilometers from his underground

command site. "They're harmless," he said with satisfaction and

relief. He turned his attention to the air war. "What is our

status, Brezhnev?"

    Brezhnev read off a short report of successes and failures

and ended with, "Israel's military airfields have seven hundred

trapped fighter aircraft. Most have been destroyed or damaged."

    General Vorshkov applauded.

    "We have," continued Brezhnev, "achieved the destruction of

Israel's nuclear capabilities and destroyed their air power at a

cost of eight hundred allied aircraft. We have expended fifteen

hundred short-range rockets and four hundred conventional explo-

sive cruise missiles. We have used two hundred small tactical

nuclear weapons, and today," he paused, "we have accomplished the

impossible. We have obtained complete air superiority."

    The command center erupted in wild applause. Vorshkov waited

a few seconds, applauded his commanders, and then waved his hand

for silence.

    "Israeli intelligence will soon confirm what I have just

heard. Comrades, it is time to commence the ground phase of

Liberation Palestine." He saluted his men. "Back to work. We have
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    356

a busy day a head of us. The quicker we complete our mission, the

quicker we can all drink a toast to victory."

    He turned to his diplomatic commander. "Are the Amerikans

still unclear about their response?" he asked. The lines in his

face revealed his concern.

    "We expect their military forces," the diplomat answered,

"to be constrained for a few more days. The main body of their

sixth fleet is too far away to interfere with us. We can thank

the destruction along their west coast for skeletonizing the

fleet. Satellite data shows the task force still in Italy,

twenty-three hundred kilometers away. I suspect their President

is talking to our President at this moment. If we win this war

within the next five days, I expect no more from them but saber-

rattling and angry complaints."

    The diplomat looked at his terminal. "At this moment, the

Amerikan response has been thirteen notes of protests, and three

phone calls from their President." He handed Vorshkov a copy of

the last protest.

    "Tape this to the inner door of the command center,"

Vorshkov ordered. "The Israeli military will be approaching total

military defeat, and the Amerikans will still wonder what to do."

    He looked at the theater level map projected on the overhead

screen. "It is time for our ground forces to show that they can
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    357

be as effective as our air power."

    On the giant battle map, two hundred modified 152mm 2S5

self-propelled howitzers blinked orange as they moved into

position. He stared at the map. "Good! In one hour I want them at

this spot." He projected a bright red dot with his laser pointer.

    "Here, ten kilometers from the northern Israeli lines. That

will increase their effectiveness. Once these tubes are in

position, direct all fire onto the surviving Israeli artillery

positions."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   358

    Chapter 31

    Steve looked down at their car as two military trucks pulled

into the parking lot. He hurried back to the tunnel and shooked

Pete awake. "There‘s people coming," Steve said.

    Pete rolled to his knees and stood. He followed Steve until

both could see the trucks. From his hiding place, he saw men

jumping from the back of the truck. They wore Israeli uniforms.

    "It‘s an army unit," Pete said. "They‘re coming up the Tel.

I think we're okay. They're Israeli. Maybe we can get out of

here." He glanced at his watch and saw that it was a quarter past

five. They've been trapped on the Tel for eleven hours.

    "I'm Corporal Goombi," said the first Israeli soldier who

entered the tunnel. "We have wounded."

    "Bring them in," Pete said. "Can we help?"

    "Unlikely," Corporal Goombi answered. He looked at Pete.

"But thanks for the offer." He motioned for his men to line the

walls. "We lost our commander a few minutes ago. I'm the highest

ranking anything left." He stared at Pete for a second.

    "You from the states?"

    "Colorado," Pete replied. He pointed with his eyes to their

car. "We‘ve been trapped here all day. You sound like you‘re an

American yourself."

    "Been here five years," Goombi said. "My family lives east

of Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota." He barked orders to the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    359

soldiers caring for the wounded.

    Pete studied the heavy cheekbones, darker face and black

eyes and jet-black hair. "You Indian?" he asked.

    "Kiowa." He paused to watch the expression and confusion on

Pete's face. Names' Paul Goombi, means Standing in the Back. I'm

also a Jew."

    "I don't understand. You're an American Indian?"

    "We have a lot in common with Judaism," Goombi added. "Many

of our customs are similar—almost identical. My brother, the

missionary, taught me that. He tried to take away my identity,

but Judaism gave it back." He looked at Pete with cold eyes. "My

brother is a fool."

    Pete shot a quick glance into the Corporal‘s eyes. "Don‘t

get mad at me," he said.

    You meet all types. An Indian Jew, Pete thought with a

smothered smile. "Think we can get back to Afula?"

    "Not today. And I wouldn't try it at night. There's too much

wreckage on the road."

    Two rocket explosions sent everyone to cover. Pete looked

around the edge of the cave and saw the burning wreckage. "There

goes our car," he said.

    Two hundred yards away, the trucks that brought the soldiers

to the Tel sat destroyed. The car belonging to Margaret that was

parked next to a building burned below the rubble.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    360

    "Nothing like the ravages of war," Pete said. His voice gave

a hint of humor. He hoped to keep Kendra and Lora from panicking.

    More soldiers arrived and Goombi ordered sentries to take up

stations on both sides of the entrance. A small group sat under a

tree by the entrance.

    "Spread out," Goombi yelled as cannon fire exploded around

them. Three screaming Russian Mig-31's streaked above.

    Pete saw two more Migs lining up to strafe the Tel's

entrance. "Here they come again."

    Lora stepped outside to see their car when Pete saw the

strafing aircraft line up on the tunnel. Pete knew rockets would

soon explode at the entrance.

    "Get her back behind cover," he yelled.

    Steve grabbed Lora by the arm and pulled. They both half ran

and half-stumbled to the other end of the cave.

    "Cover your heads," Pete yelled. "There's going to be stuff

flying all around."

     Two explosions bounced the earth as the rockets exploded at

the entrance. Pete heard the whiz of rocks and steel shards. The

two sentries guarding the opening vanished in the twin blasts.

    "They know this tunnel is here," called Goombi. "Everyone to

the top."

    Lora grabbed Steve's hand with a death grip and followed. As

she exited the rear of the tunnel, an air-to-ground rocket stuck
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      361

the front. The tunnel funneled the blast to the rear. The

shockwave killed all who stayed behind.

       The shockwave propelled Lora and Steve into a ditch just as

another rocket exploded in the middle of the Tel.

       Her face dug into the soil as rocks cascaded around her. She

curled into a fetal position. "I'll never practice counseling,"

she cried. "We‘re all going to die." She screamed for Steve. "All

my training. For what? I don‘t want to die."

       Rocks and dirt mingled with bits of asphalt flew above her

from a fourth explosion. Lora scrambled up to run.

       Steve knocked her down and pounced across her body. "Stay

down." His voice quivered from the shaking produced from two more

explosions. "We'll get out of this. Just like the airplane."

       Lora tried to breathe. Her wind had been knocked out of her

when Steve leaped onto her. "Get off," she gasped. "I can take

care of myself." Her cheeks felt wet, and she realized she might

have been crying.

       "Not yet," he said. "Don't get up."

       The tears in her eyes blurred all the images and colors.

Nothing made sense to her. Her breath still short, she needed

air.

       Another explosion shook the earth, and she covered her head

with trembling hands. "I told you to get off me," she growled.

When Steve didn't move, she kicked him with her feet. Cannon fire
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   362

swept across the Tel, and another rocket exploded, then another.

She found it impossible to move.

    She spied a bee swimming among a patch of flowers. The

buzzing from its wings seemed loud. It flew closer. "Focus," she

said. She used all her effort to control herself. "Clear your

mind," she grunted.

    A small blue flower protruding from the dirt came into

focus. Then Lora saw hundreds of blue flowers. Inside each

flower, five small yellow dots clung to the ends of thin delicate

stems. The bee floated from one flower to the other. She watched

it creep toward a yellow speck.

    The concussion from another explosion, more distant, shook

the earth. Lora tried to scream but all she could hear was

another explosion. "Oh God! Help me! Get me out of here!"

    She looked back at the bee. It flew from flower to flower,

oblivious to the war. "Scoot," she cried. Forcing her lip to

blow, she tried to get the insect to fly away.

    She blew again, but the bee wouldn't leave. She inhaled

deeply, formed her lips more tightly and aimed. She either missed

or the wind just caused the bee fly to another flower. "Get out

of here," she yelled. "Save yourself!" The buzzing grew louder as

the bee flew closer, almost to her nose.

    "Give me a set of wings and see what I'd do," she whispered.

"I'd be out of here in no time. I'd fly home. No one would ever
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    363

see me again. I'd be no threat." She realized she was pleading

with the insect. "Stress is getting to me. God help me. If you're

real, help me. Save us all."

    She felt a foot at her side, prodding her. "Get up." Corpo-

ral Goombi said. He jabbed her harder.

    The buzzing sounds from the bee faded as Lora raised her

head. Steve's hands reached under her arms and helped her up.

    "Let's go Hon," Steve said. "The Corporal wants us to get

behind some boulders. The planes have left for now. Are you

hurt?"

    "No!" she yelled. It took all her courage to stand. "Are you

sure they're gone? What happened?"

    The Corporal spoke. "Twelve dead, eleven wounded. For the

moment, we're not under attack. We have to establish a position

on top of the Tel. Anti-aircraft missiles will soon be arriving."

    She looked at Pete who knelt over a wounded soldier. But

Pete's hands could not stop the flow of blood. In seconds, the

soldier's eyes opened with an empty gaze.

    "Pick up the weapons from the dead," Goombi ordered. "We'll

need them."

    Bullets ricocheted from the rocks.

    "Enemy fire!" Goombi yelled. "Everybody down! Anyone see

where it's coming from?"

    "It's coming from across the valley," yelled a soldier. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    364

pointed to the farm in the middle of the valley.

    A string of bullets ricocheted across the road and thudded

into the rise of the Tel.

    Lora pointed to descending paratroopers. "Look! They‘re

thousands of them. Here comes the Calvary. We're saved!" She

began to laugh.

    "Paratroopers?" repeated the Corporal. "We don't have that

many."

    "I don't think they're on our side," Pete said. "Israel

doesn't have aircraft that big, and I don't think they have a

division sized airborne unit."

    "They could be Americans," said Kendra. Her voice carried

hope that ended very quickly.

    "I don't think so," Pete said. "My guess is they're part of

an invasion force. Those jets aren't attacking the transports,

just surrounding hills."

    "We better get out of here," said Goombi.

    "At least Esther is safe," Pete said. He gave Kendra a hug.

"We'll get out of here, I promise."

    She gave him a frightened look and tried to smile.

    Lying in the dirt at the base of the Tel, he saw a familiar

gun case. Without telling anyone, he dashed down and grabbed it.

Scurrying back to a pile of rocks he opened it. Inside set a

rifle that made him smile. Closing it quickly, he gripped the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    365

handle and headed to the top.

    He thought of his last target he shot. It was a boy carrying

a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Now, as he held the rifle

case, all the memories flooded back. "At least they don't hurt as

much as I do," he whispered with resignation. For a moment he

felt cold chills.

                                *   *   *

    Vorshkov picked at his fingers and paced back and forth. A

nervous tick fluttered just outside his right eye. "Is it ready?"

he asked. A quiver, just below his stomach, told him that though

he maintained a strong exterior, his sub-conscious was rebelling

from the pressure.

    "We almost have it ready," replied the communications

officer. "There. We got it. The downlink is complete."

    "Hurry man! Hurry." Vorshkov extolled. "Put it on the

screen. Zoom in on sector G-7 as soon as you can."

       "Main screen's up."

    The videotaped image of a fifty-kilometer square sector of

the battlefront appeared. Captured by one of three spy satel-

lites, videotapes from high-resolution cameras revealed every

meter of their scan.

    He stood in rapt silence at the quality of the image.

"Beautiful! This is the way to wage war," he said in quiet praise
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    366

of modern technology.

    Sector G-7 revealed the Negev desert. The black smoke from

twenty destroyed missile silos was revealed. He picked out one

silo and studied the one hundred-meter wide craters produced by

the .5 kiloton nuclear ground bursts. The silo had collapsed.

Smoke billowed from a string of access shafts.

    "Go to the highest resolution," Vorshkov requested from the

operator. "Can you get me more detail? Let me see the southeast

quadrant." Six overlapping craters lay centered in the picture.

Before the cruise missiles arrived, two hardened missile silos

and a command post once existed.

    Vorshkov stood elated. "Our missiles, our warheads, our

technology, and most of all, our genius made this a glorious day.

Let me see the Jezreel drop zone."

    The console operator worked to locate the zone ten

kilometers northwest of Megiddo. He double clicked on the mouse

as the images of the Negev craters disappeared. What appeared was

a smoldering image of a burning Ramat David.

    Two small nuclear explosions had accomplished the damage.

Black smoke from burning oil, fuel and aircraft curled up from

the concrete lip of the hanger doors. The warheads collapsed the

underground storage depot, command center, and hangers. All the

aircraft within the complex sat completely useless.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    367

    "Highest detail, please," he asked in a soft, contented

voice. He noticed the nervous tick at his eye had stopped. "Let

me see a five kilometer square. Center it on where the runways

appear from under the earth."

    He moved the computer mouse with his right hand until the

pointer was on the highway. He clicked the mouse. "Freeze that

frame." The image stopped moving. "Place this on screen 2."

    The main screen displayed scores of burning trucks, over-

turned tanks and shattered artillery pieces. Satisfied with what

he saw, he moved the mouse. "Let's see what else we've accom-

plished."

    General Brezhnev gave Vorshkov the thumbs up sign.

    "Good," Vorshkov replied. "Hopefully the stubborn Kuneitra

and Rafid Gaps will fall as easy."

       He studied the positions of his first echelon ground

  forces.

    Blinking blue lights indicated that his HIND helicopter gun

ships were clearing the way for a commando brigade to fly behind

enemy lines. Four divisions of Syrian armor and three mechanized

infantry divisions moved forward. Platoon carrying armored

helicopters, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-aircraft guns

followed the infantry. The Golan from Mount Hermon to the Tapline

route would soon crumble like dust in his hands. Syrian and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    368

Iranian armor streamed south from Kiswe to attack the southern

Golans.

    He turned to study another set of satellite video images and

then barked orders. For a moment he thought about his two Spetnez

agents. "If they don't succeed, I'll turn them into potato

fertilizer."

    General Brezhnev handed a communiqué to Vorshkov. "It's from

an old friend," Brezhnev said.

    Vorshkov took the note and read. "It's Colonel Nimeiri. He

is requesting transportation for two regiments. He is requesting

to be assigned assault duties."

    Vorshkov looked at Brezhnev. "That old dog is a glory hound.

Wherever there's blood, he wants to get his hands wet. I like

him."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   369




    Chapter 32

    "You four." Corporal Goombi pointed to Pete, Kendra, Lora

and Steve. "If you want to live, follow my orders. No back-talk.

First thing, find a hole and crawl in it."

    Pete nodded toward a cut in the Tel. "Let's go there." He

led the way.

    "Give me a minute," Lora pleaded. "I have never been so

frightened. I think a bee saved me from going crazy." Her voice

trembled with her every word.

    "Not even when our aircraft almost crashed?" Steve asked.

He gave her a contorted look. "Just a curious after-thought. But

I know what you mean. I felt the same way."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    370

    "You'll both be all right," answered Pete. "I remember the

first time for me. It isn't fun, but Goombi‘s right. Though I

think his leadership skills could be improved. Can you believe

it? He‘s an American Jewish Indian?"

    "Let's hope he knows what he's doing," said Steve. His voice

carried a stern warning. "He better not get insulting with Lora.

I'll take his gun away and wrap it around his neck."

    "Me too," said Pete. "I agree with you." He studied Lora for

a second. "You okay?"

    Lora nodded back an affirmative answer. "Just need to catch

my breath."

    Kendra hugged her sister. "Come on Sis. We‘ll get out of

this." She grasped Lora‘s hand and squeezed. "I'll help you."

    "What do you have there?" asked Steve. He noticed Pete

carrying a transit case in his hand.

    "Found me a sniper rifle. I've got one glance. I think it's

top quality. Let's go. With a little caution and maybe an ounce

of prevention, I think we'll do just fine." He smiled at Lora.

"Actually, with all the dust covering you, you've got the best

camouflage. You'll do just fine."

    He looked across the Tel. "See those soldiers lying behind

rocks. We're going to imitate them." He looked at Lora. "Keep

Lora between Steve and me. Kendra, stay next to Lora. Everyone,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    371

keep an eye out for aircraft."

    Pete looked at the Corporal, who stood ten feet away,

listening. "Time to go. Let's show him we didn't just fall off a

turnip truck." Pete slung an M-16 over his shoulder and held the

rifle case in his free hand.

    Goombi barked commands in Hebrew. Two soldiers went to find

who survived the rocket attack. He returned with three survivors.

    Steve panned his camera around the Tel. Soldiers spread out

along the outer wall to cover all the approaches. "Trapped, is my

guess," he said. "I think they and we are all trapped. There‘s no

place to go." He slid next to Lora and gave her a kiss. "This is

all new to me. I haven‘t the slightest idea what I‘m doing, but

it doesn't look good."

    Pete watched Goombi scan the valley with his field glasses.

 The corporal turned to face his men, and sunk to the ground. A

look of disbelief registered across his face. He rose and used

his glasses again. He studied the city across the valley. Pete

made a guess and explained what he felt sure Goombi was watching.

"Nazareth is being bombed," he said. "The city is burning out of

control. I don't see much anti-aircraft fire coming up at the

fighters."

    Goombi turned to look north and so did Pete. A cloud of

black dots floating earthward filled the air.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    372

    "Paratroopers," Pete explained. "They're building a landing

zone. I don't know how many men are stationed at the base. It has

to be five-thousand. Maybe two wings of F-16's are in the

hangers. What happened to them?" he asked. "Why aren't they

fighting?"

    "Because they're all dead," answered Goombi. He pointed to

two transports landing at the base. Fighter escorts attacked

everything on both sides of the landing path. "They're bringing

in heavy equipment. We'll be next."

    Pete looked at Kendra, Steve and Lora. "We have to get off

the Tel and work our way to town. Those guys landing north of

here," he said. "We'll be their next objective. After they secure

their perimeter, they'll capture the observation points. This

site will be one of them."

    "What do you have there?" asked Goombi. He looked at the

transit case. "I saw you pick it up. You haven't let it out of

your sight since you ran down and brought it up."

    Pete opened the case to inspect the weapon. "I cut my teeth

on this when I lived as a Marine. I can hit anything up to five

hundred yards. And if the winds right—eight hundred."

    Goombi looked at the rifle and called to his men. "Can

anyone here hit a man at four hundred meters?"

    No reply came from his unit.

    "Hold on to it. We may need it and you." Goombi held out his
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    373

hand for the radio. "Time to report what we've found." He began

talking to the command center at Afula.

    "Command says that a large force of Russian paratroopers

have landed to the north. We‘ll be getting reinforcements. If

they can spare them, we‘ll also get some anti-aircraft missiles."

    Goombi studied the huge aircraft landing at the base. "If I

can get a couple of those transports," he said wishfully.

    He sat back down and looked at Pete. "We have to hold

Megiddo as long as possible. There's Israelis out there and those

who are alive may try to get to us. We'll leave when we have no

other choice."

    Goombi studied Pete‘s face, then Steve‘s, then Kendra‘s and

Lora‘s. "I'm sorry," he offered. "I cannot spare anyone to take

you back. I've been ordered to hold this position and wait. I

have no idea how long that will be, but we will wait."

    Goombi barked orders to his men, turned to Pete and

whispered. "The fighting is moving our way. I want you to stay

close to your friends." His eyes flickered toward the girls.

"Keep an eye on them. I don't want any accidental shooting. Most

of all, I don't want any surprises." He looked down at the rifle

case. "I think you‘re going to get a chance to use that thing."

    "But we're not soldiers," Lora cried after Pete explained

what the Corporal's orders were. "How are we to know whose good

or bad? We don't even know what they look like. I hate shooting."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    374

    A wrinkled forehead revealed Kendra's inner thoughts. She

cleared her throat and said. "I don't think I can shoot anyone.

Maybe in self defense, but not just shoot someone in cold blood."

    Goombi ignored Kendra and Lora's plea. His face turned dead

serious. "White squaws." He was deadly serious. "No good for any

lodge." Then his face showed a little softening. "For this

moment, everyone's a soldier."

    "At least we're alive," Pete said to Steve. "Let‘s hope

reinforcements arrive soon. Stay low and follow me to that wall."

    Distant rifle fire erupted and sounded close. In minutes, a

force of forty air force personnel scampered up the Tel.

    "Survivors from the airbase's outer parameter defenses,"

guessed Pete. He looked at the darkening sky. "In another hour,

the sun will be down. Time to see what I have here." He opened

the gun case and lifted out the rifle.

    Lora whispered to Steve. "I haven't shot a gun in years. I

can't kill someone."

    Steve placed his arm around her shoulder and squeezed as he

looked at Pete. "What do you have there?"

    "It's an AWP! Arctic Warfare Police model. Made for the

British military. Back in 90's I think. This might be the best

sniper rifle in the world. I've heard that the Army and Marines

are now getting something called the M110. They may be just as

good, but this British rifle is highly respected." With a smile
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    375

on his face, he stroked the barrel and looked at the riflescope.

"A Schmidt/Bender. This is a beaut. I've never shot one. Too

expensive for the marines, but I hear they're the best of the

best. With the right ammo, and the right rifleman, it'll shoot

sub ½ inch groups at 100 yards. I saw one once. It came from

Ireland."

    "Pete," Kendra said. "You told me that you were born in

Ireland. When did you see this type of rifle?"

    He tried to ignore the question. Instead he concentrated on

searching the transit case for ammunition. His fingers found

three boxes of Federal 168-grain Match .308's under the padding.

    "You can't iqnore me forever," she said. "Are you afraid of

what you will reveal?"

    Pete checked the receiver to see if it was empty. "No I'm

not ignoring you. I just don't know how to talk about it." He

opened the lens caps, extended the attached bipods, and aimed the

rifle into the valley. "This scope goes from 6.5 to 20 power." He

adjusted the power setting for 6.5. "Stay's clear from top to

bottom. It's a beaut," he repeated. For a moment he wondered how

he might keep it. He leaned close to Steve who was obviously

waiting for him to answer Kendra's question.

    Pete tried to change the subject. "If we get out of this,

help me find a spot to hide this before we get to town."

    "And if we don't," asked Steve, "why not talk about this
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    376

Ireland thing?"

       Pete pulled himself away from his rifle. "It'll be dark

soon. I hope the Corporal has a night vision scope." He stared at

the sun hanging above the western horizon.

       "It's beautiful," commented Lora. "Wish I was back in

Colorado."

       "Me too," answered Pete. "Maybe yore all right," he said as

he thought about Kendra's question. "I was born in Derry,

Ireland. My mother did anything to keep food on the table. Dad

was a drunk and kept drinking his paycheck away. He died when I

was eleven." He purposely left out the point about his stabbing

his father to death. The part about that his father was beating

his mother to death wasn't worth talking about.

       "I lived on the street for a while. The IRA rescued me and I

went to live with them for a while. Then they sent me to America.

I was thirteen then. I lived in Chicago, changed my name and

moved to Las Vegas."

       He conveniently omitted the two killing he performed for the

IRA.

       "Changed you name?" asked Steve.

       Pete realized he had said too much. "Yes, my given name is

Sean Mickey O'Bradaish. My dad changed it to Peter Meirs when I

went to Las Vegas." Again he omitted that his first change was to

Sean Adams. In Las Vegas his dad had found a birth certificate
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      377

for a boy his age. The boy laid deed in a cemetery. There was no

point in detailing his gory past. Maybe, someday, if he lived to

be old and gray, he let them know the truth.

       "Is that it?" asked Kendra.

       "No there is a lot more, but right now I'm having a terrible

time talking about everything."

       Steve saved him from further revelations. "Good enough for

me," he said. I need some sleep," Steve pulled Lora closer to

him.

       Pete looked at Kendra, hoping that what he revealed

satisfied her pretty little head. "I'll wake you," he said, "when

it's time to go. Maybe it won't be too long. If we walk along the

road, it might take two hours to get to town." Then he remembered

the aircraft strafing the roads. "Guess that'd be suicide," he

said remorsefully. "I guess we can go through the trees, over

hill and dale. That'll take all night."

       "Or forever," replied Pete. "Or forever."

       Pete noticed Lora‘s eyes beginning to close. Steve rested

her head against his shoulder and stroked her forehead. The

distant explosions continued to boom.

       "She must be exhausted to sleep through this," Pete said to

Kendra. "Why don't you try and rest." He looked at Steve. "Maybe

we all better get some rest."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    378

    At midnight Goombi woke Pete. "There's enemy soldiers

working their way toward us, about three hundred meters away." He

knelt down and looked through his night scope.

    "We're going to set an ambush. I want you four to do as I

say. Leave the sniper rifle here. Take M-16s and get yourselves

down by the front of the tunnel." He pointed to where he wanted

them to hide. "I‘ve got a barricade built just in front of it.

There are two men waiting for you."

                              *       *   *

    Pete's sharp eyes saw the movement before anyone. An enemy

scout crawled between two trees and moved his way. Pete looked at

the two Israeli soldiers and they followed to where his finger

pointed.

    The radio held in a soldier‘s hand whispered.

    "Goombi says two enemy scouts have appeared," the soldier

said. "Hold it! He sees a third. He guesses that a hundred meters

behind them will be the others. He places the count at fifty."

Then something in Kiowa came over the radio, followed by

something in Hebrew. The soldier with the communicator gave a

weird look at Steve. "The Corporal wants Lora to giggle."

    "What for?" Steve asked. "This is crazy. They'll know we're

here."

    "That's the idea," the soldier said. "Her voice is going to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    379

be the bait. Now have her laugh."

    Pete saw the scout drop to the ground when he heard the

faint sound of laughter. The scout‘s arm moved. Pete guessed that

he signaled the men behind him to crawl toward the tunnel.

    Goombi watched through his night scope. The next part of the

plan required laughter from Pete to signal his troops. The

soldier with the radio listened to the command and tapped Pete on

the shoulder.

    Pete shook his head. "This guy's going to get us all

killed." Reluctantly, he released a weak, "Ha! Ha!"

    The night filled with automatic rifle fire. From his

vantage-point, Pete saw above him a solid wall of three pointed

flashes from the Israeli position. "Let's help out," he yelled.

He stuck his M-16 over the wall, then aimed and fired. After

emptying the clip of twenty rounds, he growled at Steve. "Stop

enjoying the show and make a little noise."

    A wave of Russian return fire sent bullets whizzing and

bouncing off the rock walls.

    "You're wasting ammo," yelled Pete. He saw Steve raise his

rifle above the wall and fire. The barrel pointed up at a forty-

five degree angle. "Change your selector to three round bursts

and aim at a flash of light. Do it. Then get down."

    A fearful minute later, the firefight ended and the night
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    380

became quiet. The incessant bombardment of Nazareth reminded them

that war still raged. The two Israeli soldiers stationed to his

left shifted closer to the tunnel.

    Pete threw a smile toward Steve. "Well our job is done.

Goombi should be pulling us out of here." He waited for the

signal, but it didn't come. He dropped his head and shook in

disappointment.

    "We're in it now," he said. He knew if they stayed, this

firefight would become round one of the main assault, a probe to

find and eliminate the defenders. The next one will be more

deadly. He sat down next to Steve. "War's not a great place to

be," Pete said softly. "It is said in a poem by Walt Whitman,

called Last in Dooryard Bloom'd."

    "I saw battle corpses,

         myriads of them,

    And the white skeletons of young men,

         I saw them,

         I saw the debris and dermis of all the slain soldiers

                of war,

                     But I saw them not as thought,

                They themselves were fully at rest,

                They suffered not,

                     The living remained and suffered,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    381

                          the mothers suffered,

                     And the wife and the child and the musing

                comrade suffered,

                          and the armies that remained suffered."

       "That says it all," Steve said with a sigh.

    Pete shook off the feeling. "Living is definitely better

than dying. Let's just don't do anything foolish."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 382




    Chapter 33

    "I'm scared," admitted Steve. "I've never shot at a person

before, just steel plates during pistol matches. This is

exhilarating, but I‘m frightened. Do you ever get used to this?"

He detached his empty ammo clip with trembling hands.

    Lora and Kendra pulled a can of ammo closer to the wall and

huddled together.

    Lora glared at Pete. "Thanks for getting us into this," she

growled. It took everything within her to keep her voice low. She

turned to Steve. Her eyes seethed with anger. "If he didn‘t bring

us to this place we wouldn't be trapped."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    383

    Pete listened to Lora‘s anger. He shrugged his shoulders and

peeked over the wall, looking for movement. Seeing nothing, he

slid over to Kendra. "I hope I‘m not acting self righteous." He

moved closer. "I do love you." He patted her arm and crawled over

to Steve.

    Pete shook his head and answered Steve‘s question. "Some get

used to war," he said quietly. "Some don't. I don't know what

makes people different. I remember the first time I found a

target to shoot. The guy carried the biggest rifle I ever saw.

The scope on top seemed unusually long. He was like me, another

sniper. He would have killed us if I didn't get him first. So I

aimed and controlled my breathing. My heart beat so hard I knew

everyone could hear it. I lined up on him and squeezed. I killed

him smoother than silk. Not the farthest I've ever shot, but

close to four hundred yards. Every now and then, I see him in my

dreams. It's something I've learned to live with."

    Pete inched a little closer to Steve until their shoulders

touched. "The second guy didn't make it any easier," he

continued, "but I had a job to do, and I got it done. I was

scared then, just like now. I read somewhere that a hero is just

an average guy who hangs in there five seconds longer. I think

I'm average." He looked over to Lora and Kendra. "I don‘t want

you girls getting hurt. Don‘t panic and reveal yourselves. Duck

when you sense it's time to duck, and roll when you think you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 384

should roll. When this is over, we‘ll have a great time telling

war stories." He focused his eyes on Steve. "Just remember when

you shoot that thing, make sure you expose as little of yourself

as possible. Aim, fire, then get down, don't John Wayne it. Stay

low and you'll do just fine. Remember, right now we have plenty

of ammo, so use it."

    "How long have you known Kendra?" Steve asked, changing the

subject.

    Pete looked over and nodded a smile. "About two years now. I

remember when she came to the site. She lacked a lot of training,

but she worked hard and learned."

    "Have you noticed anything different about her?"

    Pete thought for a while. "You mean about her religious

ideas?"

    "Bingo! That's the one."

    "It's different all right. I have never met anyone like her.

She says there are lots of people who believe like her, but I've

never met them. Guess I never visited the right churches."

    "She does get excited, doesn't she?" Steve asked with a

chuckle as he tried to sound courageous. "I've always called her

the nutty sister. She gets as excited over reading the Bible as I

do over a good football game." He paused for a second and peeked

over the wall. "Still, I wouldn't trade her for anything in the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    385

world. I'd hate to see her get hurt."

    Pete nodded his head. "I care about her too. Maybe with us

both watching her, she'll do just fine. I‘ll also keep an eye on

Lora."

    Lora growled, "I heard that. You'll get her hurt, and all of

us killed.   She continued stuffing ammo into more magazines.

"You‘re too sure of yourself," she said. "At college, I enjoyed

picketing the CIA recruitment campaigns. War kills people. The

CIA kills people." Her glare tunneled through the dark at Pete.

"Pete Meirs, you‘re the type that kills people."

    Pete winced at her words. They stung for a moment. Then his

mind focused on staying alive. He hoped the pep talk he gave

Steve amounted to something. He hated being caught in somebody

else's war. And he disliked Kendra's sister hating him. "But here

we are," he heard himself say. "Can't change that."

    The irritation and self-doubt he felt lifted. "Fight and

survive," he said to Steve. "Live by your feelings. Fight to

live. Fight to live to an old age and enjoy life." He declined to

talk about the men he killed. They may have got the better part

of the deal.

    Pete ducked as three grenades exploded in quick succession

in front of their wall. Slashing shards of steel streaked over

their heads and bounced off the wall.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   386

    Two more grenades exploded far to his left, where the two

Israeli soldiers hid. He heard their screams. Above, on the Tel,

mortar rounds exploded.

    "They're coming," Pete yelled. "Kendra, pass me another

clip. He pointed his rifle over the wall. Rising just enough to

see, he swept the area in front of him with an extended burst of

deadly fire. Ejecting the empty clip, he ducked, reloaded, and

waited for the expected return fire. None came. "They‘re sneaking

up on us," he yelled.

    A dark figure, in camouflaged fatigues, jumped over the wall

and landed beside Pete. The Ak-47 in the man‘s hands sprayed

thirty rounds of death toward the Israeli position. Bullets

ricocheted from the rocks. From above the tunnel's entrance, M-

16's fired back in the darkness. Bone ripping bullets stopped the

intruder before he turned his attention toward Pete. He fell back

against the wall and rolled next to Steve.

    Another dark figure, outlined by the stars, loomed in the

night. The thought, the best defense is a good offense, flashed

through Pete's mind. Without a second delay, he jabbed his rifle

upward and pulled the trigger—Click. Nothing happened. Pete

replaced the empty clip, but the bullet did not chamber.

    He shoved the rifle toward the dark outline. The guy was too

close. Pete jumped the wall and jabbed the barrel into the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    387

soldier‘s neck. A grunt exploded from the enemy soldier as the

barrel skidded off the sternum and dug deep into the windpipe.

Pete heard the sound of the guy's rifle dropping into the rocks.

The soldier grabbed his throat and fell back.

    Before Pete returned to the safety of the wall, a wicked

kick knocked him to the side. He twisted just in time to block

the power of a second kick. He went down with a thud. Just in

time he saw the glint of knives. Two of them.

    The first knife flashed past his face. Pete parried the

strike and shot a backhand to his assailant‘s face. He rolled

away and charged just as the second knife slashed upward. The

point swept across Pete's chest.

    Pete smashed a quick sidekick to the Russian's solar plexus

and followed up with a block to each of the attacking knives.

Moving closer, he jabbed his fingers into the enemy's Adam apple

and felt it break.

    The Russian dropped both knives and swung his arms. He tried

to defend himself, but his strength was gone. Unable to breathe,

he clawed at his constricting windpipe. Pete saw two more

Russians appear in front of Steve's position.

    Pete watched a stream of tracer bullets cut down both men

from behind. It was another kill by friendly fire. Pete dropped

to the ground then leaped toward the safe side of the wall. A
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    388

hail of bullets ricocheted off the stones above him as he glanced

toward Steve. "It's not over yet, buddy. Thanks to their

eagerness to get us, they saved our lives."

    Three more enemy soldiers appeared and rushed toward Steve's

location.

    "Steve!" he yelled. Then he realized his friend concentrated

in removing a jammed clip.

    Lora tried to help, but her trembling hands made it worst.

    "Steve," Kendra yelled. She threw her crutch away and then

tossed a loaded rifle his way. The rifle landed at his feet. The

crutch flew over the wall.

    Pete yelled against the sounds of exploding mortars in a

desperate attempt to distract the Russians. Bullets ricocheted

around him. On impulse he leaped over the wall and a bullet

burned across his back. He rolled toward the soldier and shot

from one knee. The man stood still for a moment then crumbled

into a lifeless heap. Pete emptied the clip at the other two. One

went down while the other stumbled forward.

    The closest lunged toward Steve. One of Pete‘s bullets tore

into the guy‘s body.

    Steve looked up just in time to see a large face staring at

him. Then the Russian landed on top of him. The black bayonet

skinned Steve's cheek and imbedded itself into the grainy soil.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    389

    Steve screamed as the stumbling soldier made a desperate

attempt to stab him with a bayonet. The tip of his blade

penetrated Steve's camera bag and glanced off the camera before

the soldier fell lifeless across the wall.

    It took ten seconds for Steve to recover from the shock.

When he did, he kicked and pushed at the legs lying across him.

The dead man rolled away, and Steve stared at what once was a

living soul. A moment later he grabbed both of the Russian's Ak-

47's in his hands. Sticking them over the wall, he fired until

empty. "Eat your own bullets," he yelled.

    Pete crawled next to him and cleared Steve‘s M-16.

    Fifty yards in front, dozens of three-pointed muzzle flashes

appeared and disappeared. An unending flow of death bounced off

the rock wall.

    Pete called to the two Israeli soldiers stationed near them.

Rifle fire appeared from above the tunnel. Then the shooting

ended. The assault's over, he hoped and made his way to Steve.

    Corporal Goombi called for his rear guard to escape through

the tunnel.

    Pete turned to Kendra and Lora. "Let's get out of here." He

grabbed both of them and pulled. Lora wouldn't move. He slapped

her across the face. She blinked. "It's time to go," he said. His

voice as gentle as can be. "Let me help. Don't panic. We'll all
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    390

get out of this. I promise."

    Taking Lora and Kendra by the hand, Pete led them both into

the tunnel. "Head up to the Corporal," He said. Above him,

sporadic rifle fire erupted but the intensity of the last minutes

had subsided.

    "I'll cover everyone," Pete said. "Steve, you get them up

there fast. Hurry!" He felt the burn across his chest, and his

back was wet and sticky. He knew he was bleeding.

    The distant roar of jet cargo aircraft vibrated the earth.

"Enemy reinforcements," moaned Pete. His legs felt weak as he

scurried to the top.

    "We‘d better get out of here," Goombi said. "That's going to

be our fate." His eyes flicked toward Nazareth. He followed Pete

to the top. "You saved our backside back there."

    A corpsman cleaned the dirt from Pete's wounds and sprayed

them with antibiotics. "I've got to use needle and thread," he

said. Another soldier held a small flashlight as the medic sewed

Pete‘s skin together. The medic then taped gauze over the thin

line. Then he looked at the bullet wound on Pete's back. "You'll

make it," he said. Then he sprayed antibiotic over the wound and

taped a patch of gauze across the cut. "It‘s not bleeding too

much. Just a scratch."

    Pete nodded his head in hopeful agreement. His mouth felt
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      391

dry. "Got some scars to show for my visit," he said weakly. "But

it's not over yet. We still have bogeys at that back entrance."

       "I've placed some explosives to stop them," Goombi assured

him. "Also got a few men at our end of the tunnel. Try and get

some rest. I've got other things to do."

       Goombi looked over his exhausted command and found his way

back to Pete. "Couldn't sleep?" Goombi asked. "Too much

adrenaline coursing through your veins. Like me, I think." He

looked up at the sounds of approaching transports. "My guess is

there's 60,000 of them out there. That's what I've reported to

HQ."

       Pete tried to look but the wound on his chest and back

screamed their anger. He sat still for a moment. "Our little

group won't stop them when they turn their aircraft on us," said

Pete.

       The radioman crawled up to Goombi and handed the Corporal

the receiver. Pete tried to listen but most of the conversation

seemed cryptic.

       "Yes I know," answered Goombi to an unheard comment. "We'll

move at your command."

       He looked at Pete. "HQ say's there's 6,000 Israeli defenders

stretched between us and the enemy. All are lightly armed.

They're fighting a good but weakening fight. They have a few
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    392

ground to air missiles. It's the only thing that‘s keeping the

gun ships and fighter-bombers from coming our way. But that will

change in a few more hours. Now comes the good news. Command has

ordered us to be ready to withdraw. I think they've conceded the

valley."

    "Another message for you from the Colonel," the radioman

said. He handed the headset to Goombi.

    After speaking in a whisper, Goombi handed the radio back.

"Okay, everyone, listen up. There's a small path through the

woods, a half a kilometer behind us. We are heading for it at

daybreak. I need four volunteers to scout for us. Everyone else,

get the wounded ready."

    Pete crawled to Steve and shook him awake. Then he made his

way to Lora, and Kendra. "It's time to leave."

    Kendra's face revealed troubled thoughts. "Something wrong?"

he asked.

    "I'm sorry Pete. I‘m sorry for everything."

    "Stop it. You didn‘t get anyone killed. This war is not your

fault."

    He looked at Goombi. "And the Corporal's a good man. He

knows what he's doing. We'll all get back to the city. A year

from now, this'll be forgotten. Your vision was meant to be. If

those things come from God, then God's not going to hang you out
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    393

to dry. I have a gut feeling, that no matter what happens, you'll

get through this."

    "But I want everyone to live, not just me."

    "Then we'll have to stay close to you, won't we?" Pete said.

He looked at the soldiers already moving out. "We'd better get

going."

    "Is it safe?"

    Pete took a deep breath and ignored the stiffness and pain

from his wounds. "No, it isn‘t safe. But it's better than staying

here. Leaving and living is the right thing."

                              *      *   *

    At first light, they wound their way from Megiddo and into

the woods. Once among the trees, they heard the tunnel explode.

Then a horrifying yell filled the air. Everyone turned and saw

Goombi dancing on the Tel's stone wall. He kept shouting and

pointing to the approaching enemy.

    Steve lifted his video camera and noticed the long gash

running the length of the cartridge compartment. He patted the

compartment and turned the camera on. A reassuring whine said all

was well. He centered it on Goombi and began recording.

    "What's that all about?" asked Lora. The strange sight made

her smile.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    394

    "I think he's giving the Kiowa equivalent of an old American

gesture," answered Steve. "He‘s crazy." They all watched the

Corporal scurry down the steep path.

    Pete slipped the safety off the AWP and aimed. The wounds

across his chest and back burned. They also made his motion

jerky. The Corporal made it halfway from the top when three enemy

soldiers began shooting from the top.

    Pete lined up the crosshairs and squeezed. He pulled the

bolt back and chambered another round. Aiming, he fired again,

and again. Three men went down.

    "Let's move it," Goombi yelled as he ran past Pete. They've

got an army coming up the other side. Thanks!" he yelled to Pete

as he hurried away.

    "We heard your yell. What's that all about?" called Pete as

he tried to give chase.

    "I gave them the call of a great Kiowa victory. I saw two

drop their guns and hide before I finished." He laughed and waved

everyone forward. "Let's move it!" A bullet smacked the ground

next to him. "Get down!"

    "Go!" yelled Pete. He dropped to his knee as he sighted

through his rifle. "I'll slow them."

    "How you going to survive?" cried Kendra. She dropped beside

him and kissed his neck. "You'll never make it." Tears ran down
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    395

her face. "It's all my fault. If I hadn't found the Ark, none of

this would be happening. I wish I never discovered the thing."

    Pete set his rifle down and grabbed Kendra by the shoulders.

His heart broke with her sobs. Even Lora showed concern for his

safety. The gist of a quote from Winston Churchill came to mind.

"I don't remember the exact words, but a great man once said,

'It's a mistake to look too far ahead. Take one step at a time in

the chain of destiny. It's all we can handle.' Right now, this is

all I can handle." He gave Kendra a smile. He dared not hug her

for fear of regretting his decision. "Thanks for caring," he

said. "I'll make it. This is what I've been trained to do. Now

go. All of you," he yelled. "Get out of here."

    Goombi came back to Pete and helped Kendra to her feet.

"Good luck white man. When it's time to make a run for it, follow

this trail. You'll come to a fork. Go to the right. Follow it for

a kilometer. Then go left, north through the trees. You'll find

another trail. Make a right and stay on it—about four kilometers.

I'll station a man at that point. He'll lead you to Afula. Don't

get yourself killed."

    Kendra knelt beside Pete and kissed him on the cheek. "I'm

sorry," she said.

    "For what?"

    "For getting you into this. After the arks were stolen, you
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   396

should have left for America. You'd be at some university giving

a lecture right now. I shouldn't have dragged you into this."

    "The moment you fell into that chamber, this old-world

changed. In the scheme of things, that God you believe in must be

working out something important. Our problems on this dumpy hill

don't amount to a hill of beans."

    Pete picked up his rifle and held Kendra‘s chin in his free

hand. "I'm not dead yet. Besides we had two good years. This is

just the beginning. I wouldn't change it for anything in the

world. I love you woman."

    Pete kissed her on her lips then backed away. "I'll see you

later. Now get going. There isn't much time. You're holding

everyone up."

    "Pete."

    He put a finger to his lips to say, stop talking. "Trust me.

I know what I'm doing," he said.

    Lora held Kendra‘s shoulders. "Let's go, Sis. The Corporal

can't wait much longer."

    "Go ahead," Pete said. He chambered a round in the rifle.

"Hurry."

    He watched Kendra and her sister hurry back to Steve and the

Israeli soldiers.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     397

    As they hurried away he stuck leafy twigs in his belt,

pockets and hair. "Not the greatest camouflage," he quipped. "But

it should work if they don't get too close." He gave the group

one last look before vanishing into the trees.       For a moment he

felt like a person with no one to grieve over him. "Richard

Wilder," he muttered. "The Lament of the Captive."

    "My life is like the autumn leaf that trembles in the

    moon's pale ray,

         Its hold is frail - its duty is brief - restless,

                     and soon to pass away:

         Yet when that leaf shall fall and fade,

                the parent tree will mourn its shade,

                     the wind bewail the leafless tree,

                          but none shall breathe a sigh for me.

    "Well, I ain't dead yet," he growled with a smile. "And I

ain't going to make it easy for them."

    He looked at his rifle. The he took three boxes of .308 ammo

from the case. Now he was prepared to leave. He looked at the

aluminum transit case. "I'll come back for you when the war's

over."

    He threw the case behind a bush and knelt next to a tree.

The AWP barked death. One, then two, then a third soldier

dropped. The enemy squad coming from the Tel scurried for cover.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   398

"That'll slow them down for a while," he whispered. The wounds on

his skin cried out for relief as he rolled to one side and

scurried to another tree.

    Kendra stumbled along without her crutch. She glanced up

when she heard Pete‘s rifle. "Please God, he‘s got to make it."

Her voice trembled as she prayed.

    The AWP went silent as the small deep bark of AK-47‘s

increased.

         "They‘ve killed him," Kendra cried.

    "We don't know that," Lora said. "He may be catching up with

us right now." She studied the worried look on Kendra's face.

"You love him, don't you?"

    Kendra looked up. "Oh Lora. I don't know what I'll do if he

dies."

    "He'll be all right Sis. Maybe all that stuff he's learned

is just for this moment. We'll see him again."

    Kendra thought about her worn and tattered Bible and saw in

her mind's eye, Luke 18. "Jesus told us in a parable for the

elect always to pray and not lose heart."

    Walking over a fallen branch she started speaking when the

trail became smooth enough to walk without concentrating on every

step. Her spirit lifted as she recited.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    399

    "Now will not God bring about justice for His elect? I tell

you," Jesus continued, "He will bring about justice for His

elect, and he will bring it about speedily. However will the Son

of Man find faith on the earth when He returns?"

    Crushed by the words, she asked God for forgiveness. "Jesus

is my righteousness," she said as she walked. "My only

righteousness. You are my righteousness, and I am your elect, as

are all who believe in you."

    Her eyes focused on the trail as she prayed for mercy,

salvation, protection, and for the nation of Israel - justice.

    The distant sounds of war rumbled off the hills as they

reached the fork in the trail. Goombi assigned a soldier to clear

away their tracks and to wait for Pete. Kendra kept thinking

about Luke 18 and prayed for protection and justice.

    Kendra traveled in silence until the main road to Afula came

into sight. Goombi raised a hand to stop his ragged column.

    "Take a ten minute break," Goombi whispered. "We're getting

close to the main road to Afula. There may be bogeys around. Look

where you walk. Don't step on anything that might snap and give

us away." He looked at Steve. "And stay ten feet apart. It'll

make it harder for them to shoot two of us at the same time."

    A sentry ran up to Goombi. "We've found him," he said. "The

American sniper. He's two hundred meters ahead of us. He's
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    400

wounded, but alive."

    Kendra cupped her mouth to stifle the cry when she saw Pete.

His shirt was ripped and blood soaked. He looked barely human,

much less alive. Two Israeli soldiers half-carried and half-

walked Pete to the center of the camp.

    The overworked medic studied the sutures across Pete's

chest. "They're ripped open. I've got to stitch them again. But

first you've got a broken rib."

    Pete managed to nod to Kendra as the medic cinched a belt

around his ribs.

    "Fell over some fool rocks," Pete said with a pained grin.

"I think it broke open the stitches on my chest." Pete didn't

mention that the rock he fell over had a ten-foot drop. "After

circling back to retrieve the rifle case, I crawled in the

direction of the road. When I distanced myself from the enemy, I

ran. A cliff came up on me before I knew it, and over I went."

    Steve took off his belt and offered it to his friend.

    "Feels better," Pete said as he drank a quart of water. He

cinched the second belt around the broken ribs. Exhausted, he

sat back and rested.

    Steve walked next to Pete as the corporal came alongside.

    "After I slowed them down," Pete said. "They took cover

and shot up a lot of trees. So I ran for it. Took a short cut.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    401

Stayed in the trees and kept the road to my left."

    "White man's luck," Goombi said with a broad smile. "Good

to see you."

    Pete felt the stiffness in his body tighten and stumbled.

"Get a stretcher over here," Goombi ordered.

    Goombi squeezed Pete's shoulder as two soldiers lifted the

wounded sniper onto a stretcher. "For a minute," Goombi said.

"When I stopped hearing the bark of your rifle, I thought this

girl of yours wouldn't have you to protect her."

    He gave Pete a smile. "Just hang on and rest. You may have

to get out and walk once in a while. For the most part, I want

you on the stretcher. You did your job. Enjoy the ride. We'll be

in town within the hour."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 402




    Chapter 34

    "Esther!" Kendra cried. Her face filled with terror at the

sight. "The city's been bombed." She stared at the smoke rising

from a hundred locations. It merged into a dark gray cloud that

floated above the city. Kendra stood mesmerized by the

destruction, and then jumped into action.

    "Esther, she needs us." She looked at Pete, hoping for help.

He lay unconscious on the stretcher. She turned to Lora. "We've

got to get to Yiayia's house. They need us."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    403

    Lora and Steve stepped aside with Kendra as Goombi‘s troops

filed into the city. Steve took the rifle that Pete coveted and

hid it in the rubble of a small building.

    Kendra watched Pete being carried off by the soldiers.

"He'll be taken care of," she said. "Follow me." She headed north

to Margaret‘s home.

    Men and women carried weapons. Most filled and then stacked

sandbags around undestroyed buildings. Others cannibalized the

limestone building blocks within the wreckage to form barricades.

    Steve looked on in amazement. "Where do they find these

people?" he asked. "A few hours ago this place was a peaceful

city. Now everyone looks like a soldier."

    Lora looked at the white Arab headdresses worn by some that

stacked sandbags and blocks. "Both Arab and Jews are working to

save their homes."

    Air raid sirens sounded and the scream of an approaching jet

aircraft caught their attention. Two air-to-ground rockets

exploded some distance away. A soldier rose from behind a mound

of dirt. He aimed his ground to air missile launcher. The rocket

shot towards the now fleeing aircraft.

    Kendra watched the rocket streak toward a target. "It must

be dangerous to fly close to the city." A block away, an

assortment of trucks and buses loaded children and the elderly
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    404

for their escape to the south.

    Lora noticed a large crowd of civilians huddled around a

military truck. A radio blared the news. "Let's go over there,"

she pointed. "Maybe we can get information."

    "No!" said Kendra. "We have to get to Margaret‘s. There's a

car." She pointed to a small car sitting in the middle of the

street. Its door lay open. She noticed the keys in the ignition.

"We can drive across the fields. It'll save time."

    Kendra drove into Yiayia's small yard. The house was barely

recognizable. Two outer walls lay scattered across the yard. The

ceiling hung supported by broken beams.

    "Esther!" screamed Kendra. She jumped from her seat holding

her leg and hobbled on the plastered-cast.

    Steve watched her speed past him.

    "Kendra!" he yelled.

    Steve rushed to stop her. She tried to pull away from him.

"Stop!" he yelled. "Wait a minute. The place is about to

collapse." He called for Lora.

    Kendra broke away and stumbled into the building. "Esther?"

she cried. Her voice revealed the panic, which was tearing her

apart.

    Steve grabbed her by the arm and kept her from going any
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    405

further. "It‘s too dangerous. Let me go." Then he studied the

roof. "Stand back, it might cave in."

    "Yiayia! Esther!" he called. "Is anyone here?" He turned to

Kendra. "Maybe they left before it started."

    "No. Keep looking."

    Climbing over broken furniture, he froze in shock and

stumbled backwards. He regained his balance and stared down at

the body. It wasn't Margaret. He looked at the remains of a man.

"Who is this?" he asked. His stomach felt sick at the sight.

    "What did you find?" cried Kendra. She hurried to his side.

    Steve felt her next to him and decided not to stop her. "Who

ever he used to be, his right arm is missing." For a moment he

felt sick to his stomach. He closed his eyes and said, "Appears

ripped from the socket." When he opened his eyes he saw the large

open area of the chest. He almost threw-up when he noticed the

flies feasting on the remains.

    Kendra gasped. Her knees buckled and then her stomach

revolted. She let go of everything.

    Steve fought back the desire to vomit, as he smelled

Kendra's puke. He steeled himself by reminding himself of what

Pete said earlier. "Once you‘re dead, you're just a carcass. The

real you doesn't exist anymore."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    406

    "This is something we may all have to get used too," he

said. He found a table cloth in the ruins. He held his breath and

covered the dead man. He stepped back and reached for Lora‘s

hand.

    Kendra stared beyond the dead man. A woman's foot protruded

from the rubble.

    Steve bit his lip, left Lora, and moved to the new find. "I

think we've found her."

    He cleared layer after layer of wood, concrete blocks and

roofing tile from the body. When he uncovered her face he stared

at frightened eyes.

    Clearing the dirt from her face he found a small, dark hole

in the middle of her forehead. Sticky red blood trickled past her

nose and a thick drop hung stubbornly to her chin. The back of

her head felt bloody.

    "So alive this morning," he said. Closing his eyes he fought

back tears. For a moment he saw his mother. Wiping his eyes, he

steeled himself for whatever else he might find.

    The fingers on her right hand caught his attention. They all

bent backwards. "You've been tortured. But why?"

    Kendra regained her strength and stood next to him.

"Yiayia!" she cried hysterically. She collapsed to both knees and

wept. "Esther! Where's Esther?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    407

    She screamed Esther's name and began climbing over the

rubble toward the bedrooms.

    Kendra heard the faint call. "Yiayia. I'm scared Yiayia,"

came the whisper of a voice. "It's dark. I can't move."

       Steve hurried to the sound and called, "Esther."

    "Yiayia." The faint voice called again. Kendra cleared her

head, stood and watched Steve search for the exact location of

the voice.

    "We're here," Kendra responded as she wiped her mouth. She

tried to sound as up beat as she could be.

    Steve worked frantically to remove the limestone blocks from

above Esther's voice. "You'll be all right," he said. "I'm almost

there. I'll get you out. Are you hurt?" He looked at Lora. "Over

here," he called. "Help me!"

    "She's here," Kendra screamed. Her hands threw off roofing

tile with abandon. "Steve! She's just below me." She stared at

the rubble at her feet.

    Steve listened to the little voice buried under him. Above,

he heard the sound of the roof shifting. "Don't move Esther. Just

lie still. I'll do the work."

    Roof tile, broken beams, concrete and limestone blocks flew

to the side as Steve and Lora dug. A minute later, a coffee table
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   408

appeared. A wooden roofing beam lay across one end.

    "Yiayia help me," Esther called louder.

    "She's under the table," yelled Kendra. "Esther, don't move.

We're almost there. We don't want anything to fall on you. We

have to move a little slow. Just a few minutes longer."

    Steve's bleeding fingers threw the last broken block away.

The roofing beam remained. He grabbed the end of the coffee table

and lifted. The roofing beam and table slowly rose.

    Steve glanced at Kendra. "Get a good look at Esther. Look

for blood. If you can, feel around her. See if anything's broken.

If she's unhurt, try to pull her out."

    "Esther," cried Kendra. As the table top lifted higher,

Esther‘s little face appeared.

    Esther unrolled herself from the ball she tucked herself

into for protection. Though frightened and covered in dirt,

Kendra saw that the child was unhurt.

    "I've got to lift a little higher," Steve moaned. The beam

lying across the table shifted. The table moved higher. "Quick!

Grab Esther before it falls."

    Kendra placed her hand to the back of Esther's head to

protect it from being hurt. Lora reached under the child's arms

and pulled.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    409

    "Get her out," said Steve. "I can't hold it much longer."

The shifting of the roof added urgency.

    Lora pulled as Kendra cradled the child's head and back. She

came free. Lora wrapped her arms around Esther and hurried away.

    "Quick! Get out," yelled Steve. "I'm going to drop every-

thing."

    Standing outside, Steve gave Esther a kiss and a hug. A loud

crack came from the building. They turned and watched the roof

shift. A second later, the roof collapsed in a cloud of dust.

    Esther whimpered and looked around with frightened eyes. "A

bad man hurt me," she sobbed. "He hurt Yiayia. Yiayia was

crying."

    "Take her to the car," Steve said softly. He tried to shield

the girls eyes from seeing YiaYia's body. "There's nothing we can

do here. Grab what clothes we can find." He saw a lace shawl in

the rubble. "Maybe she'll like this."

    Grim faced, they drove to the center of the city until they

came to a roadblock.

    "Step away from the car please," ordered a sergeant. "Where

are you going?"

    "We're trying to get to the police," answered Steve. "We are

also looking for a friend. We came in with him from Megiddo. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   410

was wounded and taken to some place for medical care."

    "The police station has been destroyed in an air raid," the

sergeant said. "Two rockets hit the building. Very few survived.

The police are busy taking care of their own."

    A Lieutenant drove up in a jeep and asked something in

Hebrew. After a short exchange with the sergeant, the Lieutenant

spoke in English. "I'm sorry about what has happened. At this

moment we have our hands full." He waved around at the bombed out

buildings. "Follow me and I'll take you to the medical tent."

    Steve drove the car behind the Lieutenant. He stopped at a

large park. Under a camouflage net, they saw a large tent.

    "He should be in there," the lieutenant said. He saluted and

drove away.

    Inside, Steve asked a guard standing by the entrance. The

guard directed him to a row of men lying on stretchers.

    "Pete," cried Kendra.

    He lay next to the wall on the stretcher.

    "Sorry, I can't get up," he said. He clenched his teeth as

he spoke. "Guess I'm hurt worse than I thought."

    "Oh Pete, I'm so glad to see you. YiaYia's been murdered.

We've got Esther with us."

    "Murdered? What happened?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    411

    Kendra, Steve and Lora explained what they found.

    "Poor kid," said a saddened Pete. He liked Yiayia, and he

really liked Esther.

    Kendra set Esther down next to Pete who gently stroked the

small face. "I'll take care of you. You've got family. I'll be

your father as long as you need me." For a moment he remembered

his stepfather saying something like that. "And I mean it," he

added. He looked up at Kendra. "We'll all take care of you."

    Steve and Lora left the tent while Kendra and Esther stayed

with Pete. Lora started crying as Steve tried to comfort her. As

they walked away, two artillery explosions hit the street next to

the park. The eruption knocked them to the ground. Steve felt a

sting in his leg. When he looked, his leg dribbled blood onto the

grass.

    "I've been hit," he said. He winced in pain and searched for

help. He looked at Lora. "Help me back to the tent."

    "Shrapnel!" yelled a medic. Steve stumbled back toward the

tent and fell to the ground.

    A medic rushed over and cut open Steve's pant leg. Working

quickly, he tied a tourniquet above the wound to stop the

bleeding. "Can you make it to the tent?" he asked. The medic and

another man lifted Steve and carried him to a table.

    Pete forced himself from the stretcher when he saw Steve
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    412

being carried. A blood splattered doctor beckoned to a nurse as

he pointed to where Steve lay.

    "The latest in operating rooms," Pete said with dry humor.

"Let them work."   He grabbed Kendra's hand and let her help him

walk outside. "I've got to talk to you."

    "I think I do too. Pete, I've got to tell you that..."

    "Let me go first." He looked in her eyes, and then cleared

his throat. "I love you."

    He placed his fingers against her lips and stopped her from

talking.

    "I've said this before, but I've never meant it like I do

now." He pointed north toward the Tel. "Out there, I realized

what a fool I've been, Mr. Macho. All talk and hiding behind my

mouth. The last thing I wanted to do, I may have done. I care too

much about you to be playing games. I'm sure your sister would

say that facing death has revealed the real me.

    "All the Judo, the Karate, the tough talk, they all have

their place. But when you come face to face with your own

mortality, you want only what's real. It's time I put away all

that emptiness. I can't change overnight, but if you help, I will

change."

    He cleared his throat. "I don't want to be without you and

Esther." He paused and looked at the ground. A deep breath later
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    413

he looked at her and asked. "If you'll have me?"

    He studied the uncertainty in her eyes and offered her a

gentle way out. "You don't have to answer, not now. Just think

about it."

    Tears filled her eyes as she looked at him. "I don't know

what to say," she sobbed. "I know I haven't been the best. I like

being with you, and I think I love you too, but I'm frightened.

I've had too many disasters. I've made a promise to God and

prayed for an answer, about us, but I don't know. I promised Him

I wouldn't let myself love anyone until the Holy Spirit said I

could."

    She leaned against his chest, weeping.

    Pete wanted to wrap his arms around her then hesitated. He

wanted to say something comforting, but no words came out. In

frustration, he held her shoulders and spoke softly.

    "I love you," he said. "If God is my competition, I'm not in

trouble."

    Pete saw the tears flowing down her cheeks. He felt the

tension leave and he reached for her chin. "Help me to understand

this relationship you have with God. Maybe you have answers that

I need to hear."

    "I will. I will," she said and kissed him.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    414

    Pete's smile widened. "Not bad for my first proposal. How

about another kiss? A longer one?" he asked and pointed to his

lips.

    She punched him in the arm, then dried her tears and gave

him the kiss.

    Pete cocked his head when they finished and listened. "I

can't hear rifle or machine-gun fire. They may be getting close.

Let's get back to Steve."

    The doctor handed a one inch long sliver of shrapnel from

Steve‘s leg to Lora. "Luckily it didn't go deeper. It missed an

artery by just a millimeter."

    Pete took it from Lora's hand, studied it for a minute. The

he handed it to a semi-conscious Steve.

    "You're fortunate old buddy," remarked Pete. "The Doc says

that no major arteries or veins got severed. You'll be just fine,

if no infection sets in. Antibiotics ought to take care of that.

You didn't loose much blood."

    "We got to him very fast," the doctor said. "I've given him

antibiotics. Now you," the doctor pointed to Pete. "You lie down

and rest."

    Pete shook his head in pleasant resignation. "You're the

Doc."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    415

    Kendra lifted Esther and stood by Lora. Her sister sat next

to Steve, patting his hand. "I'm going for a walk," Kendra said.

"Maybe I can relax. We'll be back in a few minutes. She limped

away without waiting for a reply.

    "Be careful," Pete called. "If you hear anything, the

slightest anything, take cover."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    416




    Chapter 35

    Esther buried her eyes into Kendra's shoulder. Her little

fingers dug into Kendra's arm. She heard the sobbing words, "Bad

man."

    "What is it?" Kendra asked. Desperate to give comfort to the

child, she stroked Esther's forehead. Kendra assumed that Esther

was having a flashback to Yiayia's torture and death. Then she

saw what Esther saw. A lone figure leaned against a demolished

building.

    The face looked familiar, his clothing a dusty black. But

today, everyone wore dirty clothes. A hundred yards or more

separated them, and yet she noticed something familiar. She had
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    417

seen that face? The guy seemed to be short, stocky built, and his

face roundish. A name boomed out to her — Moonface.

    Kendra's heart skipped a beat as she hugged Esther close to

her. Without taking her eyes off the man, Kendra asked. "Is that

the man who hurt Yiayia?"

    She felt Esther's fingers dig into her arm.

    "Did he hurt Yiayia?"

    Esther sobbed and nodded.

    Fear sent Kendra's heart racing as air raid sirens erupted

without warning.



    With a jerk, Philopas straightened up. His eyes stared

straight at Kendra. For a moment he knew he smelled her fear. It

gave him a quiet satisfaction. His pulse increased with the joy

of being superior. Killing always brought him warm satisfaction.

With slow deliberate steps, he began walking.

    It's been a long time coming, he thought. His eyes focused

on his prey. I've found you and you are mine. He smiled at the

sounds of anti-aircraft cannon fire No one will ever hear her

cries.

    Kendra watched Moonface head to the center of the street.

She screamed for help while Esther kicked and cried. The sounds
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    418

of rapid cannon fire pounded in her ears. She looked around one

more time. No one was on the street. Everyone's taken shelter.

Moonface and they remained on the streets.

    She watched Moonface draw a long barreled pistol from a bag

hanging from his shoulder. The gun hung next to his leg. A

silencer, she thought. No one will hear him kill us.

    She looked into Esther‘s eyes. "We've got to get away." A

flash of her first vision appeared and she saw the Man-In-Black

holding a pistol. "It's him!" she whispered. "That's got to be

him!"

    The blast from a near-by explosion filled the air and shook

her to action. Another explosion followed. Dirt, rocks, and smoke

filled the air. Debris rained around her. She ducked while

watching Moonface cover his head and drop to the ground.

    A thick cloud of black smoke floated between her and the

killer. Her closest hiding place was the bombed-out police

station.

    A crumbled stone wall sat half way back from the entrance.

She grasped Esther with both arms and ran. At the building she

stumbled and slipped over broken glass, furniture, cabinets and

rocks. Pulling herself with bloody fingers over the crumbled

stones, she dashed behind the wall.

    The debris stopped falling long enough for Philopas to look
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    419

around. Engulfed in a cloud of smoke and dust, he lifted himself

from the ground and hurried toward his target. He would finish

her and be done with this cursed place. The silenced Ruger .22

pointed forward. Death was looking for a target.

    When the dust drifted away, she vanished. For a moment he

hoped that Micchal would appear, but he‘d left his partner

watching the medical tent. "Stay by the tent like a good

soldier," he mumbled. Then he heard the faint sound of a child's

voice. It came from the rubble of the police station.

    Philopas cupped his ears and listened; a stupid child. He

now knew where to look. For an instant he saw a flicker of

movement—just a shadow, on some rocks, behind a half-destroyed

wall, about halfway into the rubble.

    He approached the wall. "I killed the old woman," he said.

He felt she hear him. "She even had police protection. Nothing

can stop me. I killed him as he stood with her in the kitchen.

Now it is your turn. Nothing will keep me from you."    He listened

for any noise, hoping it would reveal her hiding place.

    "My partner tortured the old woman," he continued. His eyes

scanning left and right as he approached the wall. "She cried

like a baby, begging him to stop. I shot her as the building

collapsed. The fortunes of war."

    He stopped talking and listened. The faint sound of scraping
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    420

rocks turned his head. He faced in the direction of the edge of

the wall.

    "Micchal and I survived with minor cuts. We would have

waited for you, but the place soon swarmed with neighbors." He

moved a few paces closer to the wall and listened. No sounds, he

moved closer. One hand reached out and touched the wall testing

it for sturdiness.

    "It was wonderful watching you puke your guts out. We fol-

lowed your pitiful little group to the center of the city. Now

Kendra, your friends are gone, and you are mine. The kid is of no

consequence. Let her go."

    His face lightened up as years of lying flowed from his

lips. "For the child's sake, let her go. I will not harm her. But

if you make me search for you, I will kill her. Let her go and I

will take her to safety. Do not make me harm her. She is so

young. Her life is full of days, of being a kid."

    Kendra stayed quiet, searching for an escape route. The

noise from a rock attracted her attention. She whispered to

Esther. "Stay quiet." She pleaded with her eyes for Esther to

listen. "Everything is going to be all right."

    Esther cried out. "I want to go home. I want my Yiayia.

Let's go home."

    Kendra‘s face froze in shock. She placed her hand over
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   421

Esther's lips but it was too late.

    Philopas heard the child's plea. "I heard that. You might as

well come out. Leave the child and I will not harm her. You will

be saving a precious life."

    Slowly, like a jungle cat very close to the prey, he

squatted in the rubble. He slid across a row of broken concrete

blocks. His eyes tried to drill through the wall separating him

from his prey.

    Kendra shifted her weight to hold Esther a little tighter.

Then she heard a stone block shift. He's close, just on the other

side.

    In desperation, she spied a short wall, thirty feet away.

The rubble didn't look difficult to climb. She‘d make it, if she

hurried. She grabbed Esther, took a deep breath, and ran. The

pain from her bruised leg brought tears to her eyes.

    Philopas heard the noise of her feet scraping over building

stones. He jumped around the edge. His finger squeezed the

trigger until the clip was empty. The bullets pinged off of the

rocks. But she was gone.

    "I know you are here. I heard you running." He looked at the

distant wall. "I missed you this time. I won't miss you a second

time."

    He replaced his empty clip with a full one and chambered a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   422

round. Walking slowly, he began refilling the empty clip. His

eyes stayed glued to the jagged wall in front.

    A series of rocket explosions shook the ground. A cloud of

dust billowed into the dirty sky. His concentration stayed

focused on the wall as stones and debris landed around him.

    Kendra took a series of deep breaths and tried to think. Her

eyes searched for a way to escape, but she was trapped. The way

out of her trap lay past Moonface. He'd kill her and Esther for

sure.

    Broken pieces of pipe and ceramic tiles lay strewn among the

limestone building rocks. The sound of a jet flying overhead made

her look up. A rock teetered off the wall and hit an exposed

pipe. A desperate thought flashed into her head.

    Setting Esther down behind a jumble of limestone block, she

pulled on a short section of pipe lying next to the wall. It was

stuck. She glanced back at Esther and mouthed. "Sit. Be quiet."

    Kendra moved back to her end of the wall. Somehow she knew

this was where Moonface would appear. She found another pipe and

pulled. She prayed and pulled again. "Dear God, let this come

loose."

    A shadow appeared a few feet away. Then it disappeared. The

tip of Moonface's silenced pistol appeared.

    Kendra pulled harder. There was no time to run.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    423

    Philopas heard the sound of his coat brush against the wall.

A dead giveaway, he thought. Slowly, and quietly, he backed away,

slipped off his coat, and laid it against the wall. Then he heard

the voice of a child. He had them.

    Kendra pulled again. The pipe moved but never came free.

    "Kendra?" Esther called in a frightened voice.

    Philopas smiled. The sounds came from just around the wall.

He imagined Kendra's face chiseled with fear. The sight made him

feel good, and a giddiness swept over him. Dumb kid, she got both

of you killed

    Kendra looked back at Esther. God, don't let her stand up,

she prayed while pulling the pipe harder. Why did she cry out?

Now he knows where we are. She focused all her attention on the

entrance to their hiding place, her hands wet and slippery. The

pipe slipped out of its tomb.

    The sound of something scrapping against rock delighted

Philopas. He moved to the wall.

    Kendra wiped her hands dry and gripped the pipe tightly.

Trembling, salty tears clouded her vision. Then she saw the gun

reappear.

    Moonface held the pistol in his right hand and touched the

trigger. He jumped around the wall, searching for his target.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   424

    The sudden appearance startled Kendra. Yet the trembling in

her muscles ceased and she felt in control. For a moment, an

image appeared in her mind, and she saw herself swinging a

baseball bat. Kendra shifted her weight and swung.

    Her foot slipped on a rock and she lost her balance. Falling

toward the killer, she cried, "God help me," and concentrated on

the pipe.

    Philopas saw Kendra and sneered. He adjusted his aim to put

the bullets into her heart. Simultaneously, he squeezed the

trigger.

    Kendra spun just as two shots phutted from the silencer. One

bullet whizzed past her cheek. The second punched a hole in her

shirt, just below her right armpit.

    Philopas compensated his aim, and then saw the pipe. It was

too late. He didn't feel it hit.

    Kendra saw his eyes roll back into his head and his knees

buckle. Moonface collapsed at her feet.

    Dropping the pipe, she wiped away her tears and picked up

his pistol. She aimed it at his head. She couldn‘t do it.

    Astonished at what she did, she pulled the bag from his

shoulder and stuffed the pistol inside. His face was covered with

blood. The white rocks below him turned crimson.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  425

    "He's dead. Oh God! What have I done?" She didn't know how

she did it, but she knew she just killed a person.

    Kendra nudged Moonface with her foot—no reaction. With

shaking hands she reached toward his face. Warm sticky blood

covered her fingers. She revolted at the thought of touching him.

But she needed to know. Her wet fingers wiped the blood from his

forehead. She stopped at his cheek.

    "No scar," she murmured. A wave of astonishment swept over

her. "You're not the one. Who are you?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    426

    Chapter 36

    General Brezhnev's eyes danced with excitement. "They've

begun uprising!" he said. "The PLO areas are attacking all the

Israeli outposts."

    "Good," Vorshkov said, satisfaction in his voice. "I don't

expect the self-rule areas to turn the tide of anything. I do

want the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah units to tie down two

divisions of Israeli infantry. The more they worry about the

enemy within their borders, the happier I will be." He looked at

the theater-level overhead display. "Have our airborne units met

any unexpected resistance?"

    Brezhnev read the note handed to him. "Recon and assault

units have just landed. Casualties are moderate, but within our

projections. Pockets of Israeli air force personnel have survived

our nuclear attack. Some are dug-in. We are using their own

bulldozers to bury them in their pillboxes."

    Vorshkov stared at the operation video. He watched the

twenty dots representing incoming troop transports fly toward the

Jezreel drop zone.

    A cheer from one section of the war room caught his atten-

tion. "We have a green light," cried out Brezhnev. "It's go for

the airdrop."

    "Send it!" yelled Vorshkov. The command meant that all
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    427

resistance had been neutralized. "Send it! Let's capture real

estate." He watched as the transport lights blinked green. He

knew that five thousand men from the Kazakhstan 34th Airborne

descending to the ground.

     "Next wave of transports are approaching," reported Brezh-

nev. "By tomorrow morning we will have 90,000 men on the ground.

Israel's fate is sealed."

     Vorshkov knew his invasion plan by heart, but in the real

world of combat, the unexpected rules the day. He watched the

unfolding action on live television, waiting, and expecting the

unexpected. So far, everything that went wrong had been

corrected.

     On the giant projection screen, an old satellite video of

the Jezreel valley drop zone held his attention. The scenes

thrilled him. Twenty AN-124 CONDOR troop transports airdropped

twenty thousand troops with supplies. Entering the northern

reaches of the video screen, he saw twelve IL-76 CANDID

transports, along with their escorts, heading toward the area.

Another wave of troops and supplies followed.

     Before the Condors finished their assignment, the satellite

video blinked off. He‘d wait fifteen minutes for the next

download.

     "In twenty-five minutes the Condors will return to Syrian
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    428

airspace," said the Transport commander. "They will be refueled

and reloaded within two hours."

    Vorshkov nodded his approval as he replayed the video. "Our

gun ships are late." He looked for the purple indicators. "Where

are they? We need them to provide security for the ground

forces."

    General Brezhnev punched in the information request. "They

have been delayed by stiff Israeli resistance. We lost twelve

from concealed defensive fire. It has taken longer than expected

to clear the five kilometer path," Brezhnev said. His tone was

not loaded with the irritation of reporting something negative.

    Vorshkov stared at Brezhnev as if studying the officer‘s

inner thoughts. He'd watch Brezhnev. Many a subordinate used

deception to take the glory from their commanders. He now began

watching his back. The slightest hint of rebellion and Brezhnev

will be history.

    "We've got downlink," interrupted the satellite communica-

tions officer. "First pictures will be up in seconds."

    "On the main screen, when you can," ordered Vorshkov. He

waited impatiently. The Jezreel staging area held the key to his

ground assault. With those divisions on the ground, the defending

Israeli army was now trapped. If his men stayed their ground,

he‘d control the Northern half of Israel.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    429

    A bird's-eye view of the Emeq Hula pass filled the main

screen. Burning hillside villages dotted the mountains. The towns

became victims of his five-kilometer scorched earth corridor. As

the video moved south with the satellite's movement, three waves

of HIND G helicopter gun ships appeared. Their purple indicators

were blinking rapidly.

    "There they are!" exclaimed a joyous Vorshkov. "They'll be

on station within minutes." One of the purple dots disappeared

from the screen. The ship became a casualty of enemy ground fire.

The others continued south. Their addition to the swelling forces

at Ramat David would provide needed protection and assault

capabilities. "How many troops are on the ground?" Vorshkov

asked.

    "Twenty five thousand," replied Brezhnev. "Once the helicop-

ters arrive, they will neutralize all remaining hilltop threats.

Troop deliveries are on schedule. I am sure Israelis observers

are reporting our build-up."

    "Stay on schedule. I want those men moving toward the cities

as soon as possible. If the Israelis even consider using

neutrons, I want them to worry about their own citizens."

    He turned to his senior meteorologist. "How's the weather?"

    "Clear and warm," came the reply.

    "Let me see it on my terminal," asked Vorshkov. His monitor
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    430

changed to a thousand square kilometer image. Meteorological data

centered over Israel. Computer generated isobars appeared across

the map. "Not a cloud in the sky."

    He studied the view and then asked, "Let me have a closer

look at sector twelve." A two hundred kilometer square appeared

off the Mediterranean coast.

    "What is this?" he asked and pointed to a small white dot.

    The meteorologist studied the image. "It's a cloud," he

replied. "My guess is that it's about a kilometer in size. The

exact location is fifty kilos west of Haifa. That is nothing to

worry about."

    Vorshkov looked up. "I worry about everything. Can it

explode into a storm?" Something from his childhood memories

nagged his guts.

    He shook the thought from his mind. I have time to work with

the tangible, not the imaginary. He gave one last look at the

lone cloud, then went back to winning his war.

    Brezhnev looked up from his command station. "We've received

another request from the Sudanese government. Colonel Nimeiri is

requesting transportation. His regiment is standing by. He is

again requesting an assault assignment and would appreciate

whatever you could do."

    Vorshkov‘s eyes glanced up without smiling. "Persistent
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    431

devil isn't he. Get his coordinates and tell him he's been

assigned to control the Rafid gap. We'll see what he can do after

he's on the ground. Nimeiri's regiment is ordered to protect the

slopes."

                                *   *    *

    The secret, heavily armed military convoy drove into Afula

and stopped at the remains of the hotel Jezreel. Squads of

soldiers surrounded the rubble as others went to work on clearing

an opening into the basement. When a passage cleared, Chief Rabbi

Gershon entered the building.

    "Here!" exclaimed Gershon. "This is the door." He banged on

the metal, hoping for an answer from within. None came. He turned

to the Colonel in charge of the military unit. "Make sure your

patrols keep us from being disturbed."

    A armored transport stopped outside the building and

unloaded twelve Rabbi's, who sought shelter.

    "Open the door," ordered Gershon. The Chief Rabbi wrapped a

prayer shawl over his shoulders.

    Soldiers set small explosive charges around the metal frame.

The small detonations ripped the door from the wall and revealed

a tunnel. Gershon entered first. Two soldiers and the Rabbis‘

followed.

    Gershon and the Rabbis reappeared carrying the two stolen
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  432

Arks of The Covenant. They moved without speaking and hurried to

the armored personnel carriers.

    Before the doors slammed shut, the carriers sped south.

    They climbed a hill outside the city and waited. The sounds

of helicopters from the south greeted his ears. Gershon motioned

to the priests to get ready.

    Prime Minister Avraham stepped from the craft when it

landed. He walked to Rabbi Gershon as both arks emerged from the

armored transports. The Prime Minister looked at the Chief Rabbi.

Both covered their heads with prayer shawls and followed the

Arks.

    At the top of the hill, they found a roughly made stone

altar. A fire blazed from its center. Two Rabbis, holding a

docile lamb they cut its throat.

    The Chief Rabbi and Prime Minister fell to their knees and

prayed. At the same time, the two Rabbis holding the lamb prayed

a short prayer, and then cut its throat. Others worked to

increase the intensity of the fire.

    "AVRAHAM!" called a deep booming voice that came from

everywhere. "Do not proceed until I am with you."

    Prime Minister Avraham opened his eyes and looked at

Gershon. "Did you hear that?" Avraham asked.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    433

    Both men looked around.

    "Yes, my friend. I heard it."

    A Colonel led a security detail up the hill. Behind him came

a small hooded man flanked by four armed guards. The man's head

was covered by a turquoise blue and white prayer shawl. His face

lay hidden from view.

    "Do not be afraid Prime Minister," his voice boomed. "I am a

prophet of God. I have come to bring victory. I have words from

the Lord." The hooded man approached the altar while the Rabbis

gathered around the slain lamb.

    Chief Rabbi Gershon gritted his teeth. "Another kook," he

said under his breath to Avraham. "Where do they come from?"

Gershon studied the approaching figure, looking for any hint of

hostility. How did he know to come here, he wondered? "Who are

you?" Gershon called.

    "Yes! Who are you?" asked Avraham. "And what are you doing

here? This is a restricted area."

    "I know many things and have seen many things," the man said

without revealing his face.

    His voice echoes around the Prime Minister and the Rabbi.

    "I am he who comes to prepare the way of one whose shoes I

am unworthy to carry. But first, we shall pray together. When we
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   434

are done, you will see the power of him who is to come. My master

is holy and he shall be holy in the sight of all nations."

    "The guy‘s crazy," Gershon said defiantly.

    "Ridicule me," replied the intruder. "When my God reveals

himself, your nation will loathe the ways you have defiled

yourselves. After the victory He will bring, you will know God,

and remember. And remember it is I, his instrument, which saved

Israel. He who is about to come, the Messiah, will deal with you

for his names sake, and not in accordance with your corruption.

My Lord has kindled a great victory and it will not be quenched.

The Great ‗I Am‘ is soon to be."

    The prophet stared at the Prime Minister. He moved closer

but two soldiers bared his way. "He has proclaimed a great

victory for Israel," the prophet continued. "Those who attack the

apple of His eye, stirs his wrath. A great revival will be in the

land. All the Gold is mine. All the silver is mine. I Am will

pour wealth into the land to rebuild and construct His temple."

    The prophet looked into the sky as if listening to a voice.

"We must be quick. This hill is soon to be attacked. Our enemies

know we are here."

    Avraham looked to his security chief and motioned for the

guards to stand back, but not too far.

    The Chief Rabbi stepped forward to remove the faceless
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      435

prophet's hood. "If you are for us, show yourself and pray with

us."

       "I will pray with you," the prophet said. He raised his hand

and the Chief Rabbi began struggling as if someone, something,

had hold of him.

       "I will not show myself. It is not yet my time. I have been

ordained a prophet for this age. I confirm the words which my

Father speaks."

       He pointed to the Chief Rabbi. "You doubt my calling! You

hypocrite," he snarled. "Yet rightly you should," he said in a

more compassionate tone. "There have been many who have deceived

the undiscerning. I am not of them." He turned to the Prime

Minister. "Let us pray a mighty prayer. A prayer of rejoicing. A

prayer of thankfulness, of deliverance." He knelt to his knees

and worshipped.

       The Chief Rabbi listened for a moment, gave the Prime

Minister a questioning eye, and then knelt. Avraham followed and

lowered himself to the ground. The four guards trained their guns

on the hooded figure.

       Gershon continued to look at the intruder and wondered what

held him back from touching the man. From the altar, the flames

from the altar warmed his neck. Whatever this freak is going to

do, he thought. This better be good.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    436

    The fire roared and snapped as the blood from the lamb

drained into it. When the dripping ceased, the prophet stood. He

took a broken staff from under his shawl and raised it to the

sky. The Chief Rabbi stopped praying and ducked. Avraham knelt

and watched. The guards moved closer, their rifles ready to

extinguish the life of the hooded man.

    "My God! My God! Let the heat of your cleansing fire consume

this sacrifice." His booming voice cried. "Let it be witnessed

that I am your servant and that I speak truth. Let it be known

that I, through your power, will save this nation. Let it be

confirmed that I am your prophet, and do as you have commanded.

Oh God, accept me. Accept this sacrifice."

    He looked at the two priests holding the carcass of the

lamb. "Throw the lamb onto the fire," he ordered. "Lay the bowl

containing the blood alongside and stand back."

    The two priests standing by the fire looked at the Rabbi

Gershon for instructions.

    The Chief Rabbi nodded. "Place the lamb on the fire," he

said.

    The rabbis obeyed.

    "Stand back and see the power of God," the prophet said. His

voice thundered across the hill. He stared up into the smoke

filled sky and then at the rabbis who place the lamb on the fire.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    437

    "Stand farther back. You are too close. What is about to

occur might kill you. At the very least you may sustain

neurological damage."

    The rabbis back away until they stood with the Chief Rabbi.

    The air turned a pale blue as brilliant flashes of lightning

speared the altar. It happened so quickly that Avraham, his

guards and the rabbis stood stunned. Realizing that lightening

hit the altar, they backpedaled until there was a greater

distance between them, the altar, and the hooded man.

    "Behold God," cried the prophet with hands stretched wide to

the sky.

    A quick series of lightening bolts hit the altar and

vaporized the lamb and the bowl of blood. Avraham, Gershon and

the guards shielded their eyes from the intense bolts striking

the altar.

    It ended a moment later.

    With the sound of distant battle in his ear, Rabbi Gershon

removed his hands from his eyes. He saw that the lamb and the

wood had vanished. The bowl containing the blood had turned into

a pool of molten gold. The stones of the altar radiated cherry

red with heat.

    "I have brought a fire from above to confirm my words," the

prophet shouted.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    438

    "Who are you?" shouted Avraham.

    "I am he who proceeds. After you have cleansed the land." He

took the broken staff and held the pieces above his head. "This

staff is called Favor. The God of Israel broke it twenty-five

hundred years ago. Today I rejoin it."

    A brilliant light appeared around the prophet.

    Avraham and the Chief Rabbi tried to look, but turned away

as searing white light lit the air on the hilltop. When it faded,

Gershon and the others saw a single staff in the prophet's hands.

    "Take this." The prophet handed the staff to the Prime

Minister. "It is now together. My God has granted you your

prayer. Israel will be saved. When I return, I will bring the

staff called Blessings. It too is broken. You now know that I am

a prophet with power. Soon you will see more." He pointed into

the sky. "It comes! A sign for this doubting generation."

    Avraham stood transfixed as White Hebrew letters appeared in

the darkened sky. "Israel, my Beloved," Avraham read aloud.

    The Prime Minister and Chief Rabbi watched the letters

dissipate and mix with the smoke floating above them. Their eyes

turned back to the massive bolt of lightening streaming into the

altar.   When it ended, even the altar and rocks had vanished.

    "Remember!" The prophet said. "When I return, I shall bring

the broken staff called Blessings. When they are rejoined, Israel
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    439

will be at peace and the temple will be under construction."

    "What temple?" yelled Avraham. His voice tried to carry

through the intense heat. "How will we win? Even now we are

losing our very existence."

    The prophet turned and walked down the hill.

    "Stop him," Avraham shouted. "You cannot leave." Avraham

motioned to his guards.

    Two soldiers rushed to the prophet. They reached out. From

the prophet's raised hands, bluish lightning shot toward the

guards. Both men flew backwards.

    "Do not stop me. I must go. If I do not go, Israel will be

lost. I must bring about all that has been written."

    Other guards helped their comrades rise from the ground and

looked toward the Prime Minister for instructions. Avraham waved

them off. "If he can bring lightening from space, fuse wood, and

send my guards flying, what else can he do?" Avraham looked at

the hooded face.

    "Let him be," Avraham ordered. "Hurry and do what must be

done," he called. "Every minute my sons and daughters are dying.

Hurry man! Hurry! How will I know it is you when we meet again?"

    "My finger prints are on the staff." The prophet looked at

Avraham and at the Chief Priest. "I go to prepare a victory.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   440

Order all your front line soldiers to retreat to the cities. If

you do not, I will not be responsible for their blood."

    The prophet stopped and stared at the Prime Minister. "By

this time tomorrow you will see the power of God. In forty hours,

it will be over."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   441




    Chapter 37

    "We've broken through!" exclaimed a delighted Golan sector

commander.

    General Vorshkov withheld his elation and studied the

situation video. "Quickly! Put the information on the second

screen." He smiled as the data and map appeared. His staff

exploded into cheers.

    Vorshkov studied the video display. "It's the Rafid Gap.

Excellent! If we can maintain the pressure, the whole Eastern

front will soon collapse. What are our casualties?"

    "We've lost one hundred and sixty-six tanks, eighty troop
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    442

carriers, about thirteen hundred men. Our smart bombs did the

trick. We destroyed their first line of defense—eight, Israeli

LOSAT missile launchers, and nine tanks.

    Vorshkov thought about the LOSAT's. They expelled a kinetic

energy missile at over 2000 meters per second. Extremely deadly,

he imagined all the tanks being lost to the LOSAT charges. That

also meant the western edge of the gorge now sat undefended.

    "Our commandos," the officer manning the station reported in

his excitement, "landed ten kilometers west of the narrows,

behind their lines, and destroyed them before they knew we are

there. Thirty more tanks and LOSAT's rushing to reinforce the Gap

have also been destroyed. If we keep their reinforcements from

arriving, we will win the day."

    Vorshkov felt an immense pressure lift from his shoulders.

One by one, the dominos of Israeli military might are falling.

Once I capture all the northern gaps, Israel is mine.

    "After we get through Rafid, we will control the ground. All

access to the north-south road will be in our hands. Send my

congratulations to all commanders. In twenty minutes, we will

outflank the Israeli positions south of Kuneitra."

    "General!" called Brezhnev. "We have a problem. Reports are

coming in of two explosions. They are believed to be neutrons.

One went off over our troops east of the Jezreel airdrop. The
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    443

other exploded above the Rafid Gap."

    "Missiles or shells?" yelled Vorshkov. The fear of the

Israelis unleashing hidden nuclear warhead became uncontrollable.

His best-laid plans, his career, his future, a million men, all

will die in a nuclear holocaust. He regrouped his thoughts. "Has

radar picked up where they came from?"

    "That's being computed. We'll know in a few seconds."

    "Intelligence has always believed they have such weapons,"

Vorshkov moaned. "Five or six more detonations and I won't be

able to hold the coalition together. Our Arabs allies will

execute a full-scale retreat. And I can‘t blame them. That can

not happen. I‘ve worked too hard to bring this operation

together."

    "Sir! Both shells came from hill 231. They appear to be

using artillery."

    Vorshkov thought for a moment and restudied the maps.

"They're in Jordan?" he said in total amazement.   He studied the

coordinates. "The Israelis have flown their big guns onto the

side of Mount Pisgah. They‘re using the old campsite used by the

archaeologist. "Kendra," he growled. "You will bring about my

demise."

    He rechecked the intelligence regarding the mountain. "They

did it under our noses, and we weren't even aware of it.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    444

Obliterate 231. I want it destroyed. Do we have any nuclear

cruise missiles left?"

     "We‘ve used all that is planned," Brezhnev said. "The Syrian

fourteenth fighter-bomber group is twenty kilometers away. Their

destination is an Israeli emplacement east of Haifa. Seven are

carrying smart bombs."

     "Redirect them to hill 231," Vorshkov ordered. "We can deal

with Haifa later. Neutralize those gun emplacements. What are our

casualties?"

     "Still being assessed. Preliminary count is six thousand

dead. Eighty-seven tanks are without crews. We've lost two

brigades south of Ramat David. The Kazakhstan 3rd, and the

Turkmenistan 9th."

     "Get those tanks in the Rafid manned by anyone as soon as

you can. And I want those aircraft over hill 231, right now," he

yelled. "Give it the highest priority."

     "Incoming from Hadera," called the air-defense coordinator.

"Four cruise missiles. Destination, the Jezreel drop zone. ETA -

one minute."

     "Get a fix on those flight paths. Set all air defense flak

guns to intercept those missiles." Vorshkov fought the impulse to

bite his nails. Victory, so close, and now this.

     "We're having trouble getting a fix," warned the air defense
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    445

controller. "They're hugging the terrain. Radar is useless. If

they're carrying neutrons, they'll wipe out most of the drop

zone."

    Vorshkov looked at his commander with disgust for stating

the obvious. "Order all flak guns to fire into the lowest ap-

proaches. Give me a countdown. I want to saturate the valley

approaches."

    "Twenty seconds before impact. Fifteen. Flak guns are

firing. Ten. Two known detonations. Probable hits."

    "Where are they?" asked Vorshkov.

    "West of hill 916, north of Hazbrea. All are six kilometers

from our units. Minimal damage. Fourteen flak units are not

reporting in. Presumed dead."

    "Replace those gun crews. Immediately. Any reports of the

others? What's the count?"

    "Minus twenty. No other missiles reported."

    "Hill 231 is being attacked," called the air commander. "We

are encountering heavy anti-aircraft fire. Pilots are reporting

three smart bombs on target. Two aircraft down. Three are

trailing smoke."

    Vorshkov waited. Beads of perspiration covered his forehead.

"Hope the Israelis don't have any more surprises," he said. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  446

could not hide the nervousness in his voice.

    "Five planes are down. Green leader is reporting three

direct hits. Two tubes have been identified at the emplacement."

The air-controller collapsed into his chair with a sigh of

relief. "Both have been destroyed. An ammo dump has also

exploded!"

    Vorshkov wiped the sweat from his brow. "How many more

surprises?" he asked. "Send my congratulations to the flight and

flak commanders."

    "The Syrian's have captured the Kuneitra Gap," said the

excited ground commander. "Air power has eliminated all forward

Israeli armor."

    A smile filled Vorshkov's grizzled face as he rubbed his

cheek. He had not shaved since the operation began. Relieved by

the good news, he collapsed into his chair and rubbed his beard.

The tension flowed from his shoulders.

    "Not like the last time," he said. His grin grew into a

chuckle. He looked at Brezhnev. "In 1973 our comrades lost

because they didn't control the sky. Today, I win because I do."

He saluted his air commander and controllers. "You will all

receive commendations for your superior effort." He turned to his

senior air commander. "What's our status south of Nablus?"

    "The Israelis have thirty-six aircraft left in the air. Our
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    447

forces have taken more than the predicted losses of fifty-

percent. But our loss-rate is dropping. We are wearing down their

air defenses and their pilots. All Israeli early warning aircraft

have been destroyed. The Syrians will have three refreshed wings

taking to the air within minutes."

    Vorshkov typed in a command and studied the data display.

"We must not be overconfident," he reminded himself, and Brezh-

nev. "Reminds me of the war over Britain and how a few fighters

kept the Germans at bay. Those remaining Israeli aircraft are

doing a superb job of holding our forces from sweeping south."

    "That will change when we bring our anti-aircraft guns

closer," the air commander replied.

    "What's our loss rate?" Vorshkov asked.

    The commander looked at a figure on his screen. "One air-

craft every ninety seconds."

    "I pray we have aircraft left when we need them commander."

Vorshkov picked up the phone and called the Jezreel field com-

mander. "When can we move the SAM-6's south? Israeli tenacity is

keeping us from attacking Tel Aviv."

    General Brezhnev stepped closer. His voice filled with

confidence. "Report on the push through Lebanon: the Iranian

First and Twelfth armor have reached the buffer zone. The Turkish

Second infantry division has forced the Christian forces to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    448

retreat to the hills. Shall we pursue?"

     "Leave them," answered Vorshkov. "There will be time enough

later. I estimate that the Israelis have no more than one hundred

and twenty tanks, along with twenty companies of infantry,

stationed at their borders. Our commandos have stopped all

reinforcements. The Israeli Massada complex will soon bow to our

superior force."

     Brezhnev read from another page on his terminal. "Intelli-

gence indicates that the elite Jordanian 40th armored brigade has

taken up positions on the southern ridge of the Yarmuk River. The

Iranian First and Twelfth Armored are facing them on the north

ridge. The Jordanians have sent all counter terrorist units into

their cities. Rioting has broken out in Amman. Their best unit,

the Tigers, along with a regiment of the Jordanian First Calvary

are dealing with the rioters."

     "Good! That will give the Jordanians something to do. If

they become hostile to our units, then I will deal with them.

Until then, we only watch."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     449




       Chapter 38

       Pete saw Goombi enter the tent, look around, and then head

in his direction.

       "Remember my name," Goombi said. He knelt beside Pete, a

folded sheet of paper in his right hand.    "Drive up to Rapid City

and tell my brother you saw me." He stuffed the note into Pete's

pocket. "I wrote his address on the outside."

       "You'll get out," Pete said encouragingly. In reality he

wondered if anyone would survive.

       "Maybe, maybe not." Goombi replied. "The Great Spirit knows.

The Raven may be approaching as we speak. Just do it. Promise

me."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    450

    Pete looked at Goombi and knew he needed to say yes. "It's a

promise. Rapid City. Just after I get home. Do you want me to

tell your brother anything?"

    Corporal Goombi stood and straightened his back. "Give him

the note. He'll understand."

    Pete watched the big Indian exit the tent.

                               *   *    *

    "I know I killed him," cried Kendra as the two military

officers listened politely. "I'm telling you the truth. I've been

stalked by assassins since I discovered the arks. One had me

trapped in the police station. I hit him in the face with a pipe.

I know he's dead."

    "If you killed him," answered one of the officers. "He won't

be going anywhere. We'll check your story. In the mean time, you

and the child go over to the medical tent with your friends and

wait. You're safe now. I'll go to the police station and check

out your report."

    Kendra held Esther against her and walked through the park.

The afternoon sun warmed her, but the vision of Moonface's bloody

head sent chills coursing up her body. She could see the blood

pooling in his eyes, and the blood on her fingers. "I killed

someone." By the time she entered the medical tent and sat down,

she felt sick.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    451

    Micchal saw Kendra enter the Medical tent. Knowing something

went wrong, he hurried away. He found Philopas lying unconscious

in the police station. Micchal studied the blood-covered face.

"You're still alive," Micchal said. He held Philopas' wrist and

counted his pulse.

    Turning his friend over, Micchal heard a moan. "Wake up," he

ordered. He felt rain began to pelt the back of his neck. Micchal

ripped off a length of Philopas' shirt and tied it around his

friend's forehead. He slapped Philopas. "Come on. Wake up."

    "What happened?" Micchal asked.

    Micchal searched the dazed eyes of Philopas. He reached for

a rag and wiped the blood from Philopas‘ eyes. "Sorry about your

scar. Wiping the blood away has taken off the makeup. Too bad

your kit is buried in the house."

    It took a few seconds for Philopas to get his bearings. As

the cobwebs cleared from his mind, he responded. "She out foxed

me. I think I shot her, but she nailed me with something."

    Micchal glanced at the bloody pipe. "I know where she is.

We'll still get her. Then we can get out of this cursed place and

go home. We both need a quiet assignment in some safe American

city. Can you walk?"

    Philopas nodded. "What is going on?" he asked. "We‘re in a

massive war."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    452

    "I think its local," answered Micchal.

    "What about our primary mission? We better get back to

America."

    "Hold it. Don‘t go flying off and assume too much. I don‘t

think this is the war we‘ve been trained for. The people we will

be assigned to assassinate will still be there when we get back.

I‘m sure Coffki and Anya have not received their suitcases."

    Philopas thought about the small nuclear bombs that his team

was to receive before the Big War. "They may be bringing them in

from Mexico right now."

    "You're not thinking clear," answered Micchal. "We wouldn‘t

have been assigned to this project if the war with America was

about to occur. That‘s why I think this is a local incident. All

we have to concern ourselves with is staying alive and killing

that lady."




    "Kendra," cried Lora as she saw her sister enter. "What

happened?"

    Pete forced himself to sit up. Steve looked up from his cot

with blurry eyes.

    "It was horrible," Kendra said. "Esther and I almost got

killed." She told them about Moonface. "At first I thought he was
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   453

the man in my dreams. But as he lay dead at my feet, I saw no

scar." She opened the sack holding Moonface's pistol. "I took

this from him."

    Pete pushed the gun back into the bag. "Keep that covered."

    "Moonface got close to where we hid," she said. "He said the

guy we found dead in the house is a policeman. Moonface said he

and his partner killed him. They watched us save Esther."

       A supersonic crack ripped through the air.

       "What the heck is that?" asked Pete.

    "Lightning!" Kendra said. The thunder rumbled away. Another

bolt lit the darkened sky, and a massive gust of wind swept dust

into the tent.

    Pete held his breath as a wave of dust swept past. "Where'd

that come from?" he asked.

    Lora went to the opening and looked up. "It's starting to

rain," she said.

       Kendra hurried to her sister‘s side.

    Pete helped Steve to see the darkening skies. "I hear

artillery," Steve said.

    "I bet you have a good ear for that stuff," laughed Pete.

    Both men listened to the growing intensity of the storm.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    454

    Pete looked at Kendra and Lora. Both girls stood at the

entrance of the tent watching the rain. He looked around at those

lying on the grass covered floor. A row of filled body bags

caught his eyes and he stared. An obvious child lay in one. He

thought back to his daughter lying dead beside the road.

    His shoulders drooped as he remembered Linda and Marlene.

The accident was his fault, no one else but his. He closed his

eyes to fight back the tears which always came with the sight.

    When he opened his eyes, he studied the body bags. "These

people died because of some fools idea of conquest," he said in

an angry whisper.

    His heart beat rapidly. "I‘ve got to get up," he said.

Reaching for anything to help his move, he rolled over and made

it onto his knees. Holding his breath, he stood. The wounds on

his chest protested the action. He looked down at Steve. "I‘ve

got to help. There has to be something I can do."

    He cocked his ear, listening for the sounds of battle. It

was gone. Bewildered by the lack of gun and cannon fire he asked,

"Can any of you hear gunfire?"

    Lora stared into the downpour. Her eyes saw the giant

splashes from the swollen rain drops. Nothing made sense. "I

can't hear gunfire. I can't even see the next building," she

whispered. Her eyes fixed on the river of water flowing down the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                      455

street.

       Two corpsman lifted Steve in a stretcher. Another threw a

tarp over him.

       "Where you taking him?" Pete asked.

       The lead corpsman explained their destination. It was an old

house a short distance away.

       "We'll take him," Pete offered. "You have others to look

after." He lifted the tarp and winked at Steve. "Lora and Kendra,

you two take the back end," Pete said. "Put Esther under the tarp

with Steve."

       Pete led them out into the rain. But instead of walking,

Pete started jogging. The girls holding the other end stumbled

forward and began running.    Esther squealed in delight.

       "It's time to play," he announced to everyone. "I think we

need this."

       Steve, bouncing from all the jogging, protested and held on

to the sides.

       Esther pushed the tarp away from Steve's face so she could

see.

       Pete led them around a darkened light pole. He started to

sing a poem as the rain splattered and drenched everyone.

       On the forth circuit around, he stopped. Kendra and Lora
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   456

continued on and pushed the stretcher into him. Caught off

balance by the push, Pete twisted and fell. The stretcher holding

Steve and Esther landed on top of him. Pete winced in pain from

the damage to his ribs.

    Kendra looked at Steve, then Esther, and at Lora. She saw

the expression on their faces, then at Pete's reddening face. She

fell to her knees laughing.

    A moment later, Lora's face broke into a grin as Steve

chuckled. Esther lay on his chest giggling.

    Pete benched pressed Steve, Esther, and the stretcher to the

side. He crawled out from under the weight and sat in the deluge.

    "I think I needed this," Pete said as he saw Kendra and Lora

on their knees.

    Both women tried not to laugh but found it impossible to

control. Esther stopped giggling and pulled a tarp over her head.

    Lora studied the stretcher. "Esther's the bright one out

here," she said. "We needed this. Now let‘s get Steve to the

building."

    They reached a small house that suffered minimal damage.

Huddled under the covered porch sat a dozen frightened civilians.

Inside, away from the rain, scores of the wounded lay on

stretchers. The cries of those in pain filled the rooms. Lora

stopped short of entering the door as the smell of medicine and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    457

urine hit her like a brick.

    "I can't go in," she cried. She handed her pole of the

stretcher to Kendra and ran back into the storm.

    Kendra watched her sister stop next to a darkened light

pole. Turning to Pete, "I've got to go to her," she said. After

helping Pete find a spot for Steve, she headed out into the

bullet size raindrops.

    A bolt of lightning hit a post as she neared Lora. Kendra

shielded her eyes as the transformer at the top exploded. A

brilliant blue white light glowed around the metal casing then

ebbed. Lora fell to the ground.

    "Lora!" Kendra screamed. She recovered from her shock and

slipped a hand under her sister's shoulder. She saw her sister's

forehead. Blood flowed from a wound and washed away in the rain.

Kendra looked around for help. In the dark, two ghostly figures

moved toward her.

    Kendra placed a comforting arm around her sister‘s shoulder.

"Everything will be all right," she said. "Help is coming. We'll

be home soon." She heard her words and hoped they were true.

    Lora opened her eyes. "You're strong," she cried. "Why can't

I be like you? I'm falling to pieces." She wiped her face clear

of blood and rain. "I can't control myself. I can't control

anything."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    458

    "Come on, let's get up. We've got to get back to the tent.

You're bleeding."

    Micchal grasped the butcher knife in his right hand. His

fellow assassin, Philopas, walked alongside holding a meat

cleaver. They retrieved the knives from the wreckage of a nearby

home. Both wanted to be the first to cut Kendra's throat. Both

looked back at the tent to see if anyone was watching.

    Pete stood under the awning of the medical tent as a flash

of lightning lit Kendra and Lora. He saw two men moving through

the rain toward the girls. He studied them as another flash lit

the sky. A glint of reflected light from one of the men‘s hands

caught his eye. Pete knew it was a knife.

    His heart started pounding and he saw them heading toward

Kendra. Without thinking, he hurried into the storm.

    Pete caught them just as they got within arms length of

Kendra. He landed a smashing punch into the nearest killer‘s

right ear. Micchal dropped like a rock.

    Ignoring the pain screaming from his ribs, Pete turned and

lashed out with a side kick into the chest of the one he called

Moonface. He felt Moonface‘s chest cave in, and the blow

jackknifed the killer. Moonface staggered away and fell to the

ground.

    Micchal recovered from the blind-side punch and leaped to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    459

his feet. The tip of the butcher knife missed Pete's throat. Then

Micchal swung back and caught Pete with a backhand of knuckles to

the eyes. Pete staggered off balance. Without waiting, Micchal

rushed toward Kendra and grabbed her by the hair. She screamed.

Michael‘s knife pointed toward the small of her back.

    Pete saw the knife. He kicked at the killer‘s arm. The knife

glanced to the left and slashed through Kendra‘s shirt. The

assassin turned his attack back to Pete and received a staggering

punch onto his chin. Pete saw the assassin‘s eyes glaze but the

man didn‘t go down.

    A driving strike to the assassin‘s throat sent the killer to

the ground. The butcher knife flew out of the man‘s hand and

disappeared into the rain. Pete sensed victory.

    Micchal sprung to his feet with a quickness that caught Pete

by surprise. The killer spun.

    Pete expected a spinning heel strike to his ribs. Instead he

received a crashing blow to his cheek. Pete fell back against the

darkened light pole. A solid punch from the killer caught Pete in

his ribs.

    Knife like pain from the flexing of broken ribs swept

through Pete. He gasped for air and went down to both knees. Pain

stole his wind, but adrenaline fed his body with rage. He rolled

on the ground in an effort to get breathing room between him and
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    460

the killer. To give up meant certain death. Kendra would die

seconds later.

    Micchal stepped behind Pete and pulled a garrote from his

belt. He snapped the steel wire around Pete‘s neck.

    Just in time, Pete saw the wire come over his head and

caught it with his hand. He drove backwards into the killer‘s

chest. They both fell back with Pete landing on top. Pete

continued his move and rolled over Micchal's head. The garrote

came loose.

    Pete twisted the wire from his throat and jabbed the heel of

his foot into the killer‘s heart. Pete smiled.

    The killer rolled to the side, jumped up, and sent a

crushing kick into Pete's ribs.

    Pete gasped and crumbled to the ground.

    As lightning filled the sky Micchal spied the butcher knife

lying in a puddle. He picked up the weapon and turned toward

Pete.

    Kendra jumped on Micchal‘s back and clawed her fingers into

his eyes. Micchal swung her like a rag doll, slamming her knees

into the pole.

    Micchal tried to clear his eyes when a jarring punch sent

him back against the light pole.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    461

    Pete tried to hit the killer again but his last punch left

him weak. The needle pain in his ribs became too much to

overcome.

    Micchal cleared his eyes and leaned against the lamppost. He

saw Pete standing motionless, holding his breath.

    "To think you amateurs might beat me." He snickered. "I'm

the master of this game."

       Pete heard a short crack and saw the blue-white light.

    One hundred million volts of lightning hit the post before

Micchal moved away. His body froze as every nerve in his body

short-circuited. Thick sparks of super heated air and electricity

jumped between arms and legs. His feet lifted from the ground as

two brilliant arches completed their connection to the ground.

    Pete watched as the killer fell to the ground a smoldering

corpse. Billows of steam and smoke rose from the roasted body.

Then he remembered Moonface. He spun around, expecting the killer

to be attacking. Moonface had vanished.

    He then looked at Kendra. Gritting his teeth he stumbled

beside her. "Kendra?" he whispered.

    Reaching down to help her up was too much for him. He

collapsed to his knees and rolled onto his back. "I'm empty," he

whispered. Rain blurred his eyes until he saw her face leaning

over him. "I've got nothing left," he gasped.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   462

          "I love you Peter Meirs," she said. "Don't die."

          She leaned down and kissed his face.

    Pete‘s body went limp in the mud. He wrapped both arms

around his ribs for protection. Peter (The Wolf), El Shugaa

Sareer (the young warrior) Meirs closed his eyes and savored the

moment.

    Then the smell of cooked flesh began to overwhelm him.

"That's a smell I've never liked."

    Kendra helped Pete crawl toward Lora.

    "Let's get back to the building," he said in such a calm

voice that it even amazed him. "There's nothing more we can do."

    Steve looked up from his stretcher as they told him what

happened. "Did you get a good look at the guy who got fried?"

    "I think he's the one who came after us at the airport,"

Pete answered. "I recognized Moonface, but he escaped. He must be

the only one left." He looked at Kendra who sat rubbing her legs

and comforting Lora. "They almost had me old buddy."

    The nurse returned with a set of crutches for Steve. "I

found these," she said. "Let's see how they fit."

    Steve groaned as he reached out for a hand. "We're a great

pair. Two cripples who can barely walk."

    A jeep pulled up outside and a Colonel walked into the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    463

medical tent.

    "Peter Meirs, Kendra Makray," he called. Pete and Kendra

turned around.

       "I'm Peter." He pointed to Kendra. "She's Miss Makray."

    The Colonel held a photograph of Pete and Kendra and walked

over to them. "I've got an assignment and I need your help.

Please follow me."

    "I can't go," Kendra said. "I've got a young girl to take

care of. I'm not leaving her. And my sister and her friend are

with me."

    The Colonel looked at everyone. He replied with an answer

that Kendra suspected had been rehearsed.

    "We don't have much time," he said. "Bring everyone along."

                              *       *   *

    "General Vorshkov!" called General Brezhnev. "We have

captured Eli'Ai. The transports have arrived carrying Colonel

Nimeiri's regiment. His units will be available within the hour."

    Vorshkov looked at the wall clock. "Send a message to the

Colonel. Tell him that he will see plenty of action, but first I

want him to protect the Rafid Gap."

    Vorshkov's chief meteorologist looked at Vorshkov in amaze-

ment. "Sir. Field reports are coming in. The Jezreel valley has
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    464

clouded over. It can't be water vapor. No weather front is close

enough to create clouds."

    Vorshkov looked at his weatherman and then back at the

satellite technician. "Have we the latest images?"

    "No sir. We won't be receiving them for another five min-

utes."

    "Put the last set on the main screen," Vorshkov ordered. He

looked at his meteorologist with distrust. The satellite videos

revealed a clear sky.

    Vorshkov searched for the little fist-sized cloud that

appeared off the coast of Haifa. "It's moved. Find that cloud,"

he ordered.

    "There it is. It's over the bay," reported the meteorolo-

gist. "But how? How did it move so fast? How did it get there?

The winds are blowing out to sea. This is impossible!"

    "Maybe," said a worried Vorshkov. "But it's there. Get those

videos up as soon as you can. Let me know if its smoke, dust,

or... He turned to his meteorologist with angry eyes. "If you

have made an error..."

    "Videos coming in," called the Satellite officer. "We have

received reports of heavy rain."

    "Main screen," ordered Vorshkov. "Quickly!"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    465

    "General!" called the Golan ground commander. "Both entranc-

es to the Rafid Gap are in our hands. Two Israeli underground

command centers have buttoned up. We estimate four companies of

defenders are in them. I have told our troops to surround the

entrances but not to attack."

    "Very good commander. Which of the Syrian forces can be

redirected north to the Kuneitra pass?"

    "The Seventh and Ninth Mechanized Infantry can be there in

an hour. The roads are clear."

    "Get them moving as soon as you can. When the Syrians reach

the eastern shore of the Galilee, send them south to help clear

the Khaad-Id Gap. I want the Iranian First and Twelfth Armored

division through there by nightfall. I need them to consolidate

our control of the southern Galilee. Then we will attack Afula.

After it falls, we will control half of Israel."

    The chief meteorologist moved closer to his commander.

"Ground details are almost obscured, sir. I'm shifting to the

infrared spectrum to see what the temperature of that haze is."

    The color of the haze became blue. "It's water," said

Vorshkov grimly. He didn‘t wait for an interpretation. "Increase

the field of view. Include all of northern Israel. Stay Infra-

red."

    The screen flickered.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                     466

       "Everything's blue," said the astonished meteorologist. "But

how?    I've never seen anything like this."

       Vorshkov turned to his senior Jezreel field commander. "How

much rain are your units reporting? Can they attack Afula? We

cannot wait for our forces to break through the Khaad-Id gorge."

       General Brezhnev read the note from his transportation

commander. "Colonel Nimeiri's regiment is being transported to

the Rafid Gap. The rain is slowing the helicopters down."

       Vorshkov's chief meteorologist scribbled in a notebook.

"Look at the size of those thunderheads," he said. A delightful

amazement filled his eyes. "They must be twenty thousand meters

high. I have to record this. It's unbelievable!"

       Vorshkov stared at the man as if he was crazy. "I don't give

a damm about your data," he yelled. "I've got two hundred

thousand men out there. This storm is not supposed to happen, you

incompetent fool! You said the weather would be clear. My planes

cannot fly. My army is bogged down. You have jeopardized this

operation." Vorshkov reached up to clear the data from the

screens.

       "No!" yelled the meteorologist. He swept Vorshkov's hand

away.

       Vorshkov's eyes blazed with anger. He pulled his HK MP 7

nine-millimeter pistol and then the trigger.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    467

    The meteorologist fell to the floor clutching his chest.

    "Get this garbage out of here," yelled Vorshkov. He pointed

to his security detail. He hoped the American high-tech bullet

ripped the meteorologist's heart to shreds.

    Vorshkov ignored the stunned commotion as the body was

removed. "What's the status of my armored divisions?" he asked a

frightened General Brezhnev. The war room which had become silent

now buzzed to life.

    Brezhnev stared at the blood on the floor and sent a frantic

stream of data to Vorshkov. "The Iranian First and Twelfth

armored are reporting heavy rain. The First had crossed the

Israeli border and was bombarding the village of Ramot. They've

had to stop because of heavy rain. Forward units of the Special

Forces Brigade have destroyed Israeli installations along the

road to Safad. The Twelfth has attacked the village of Bar'am.

Special Forces have set up ambush points north of Har Meron.

    "The Syrian First is on the road to Afula. Last reported

location is seven kilometers west of Tel Bet Yerah. Forward units

are meeting heavy resistance south of Mount Tobb and the divi-

sion, along with the Syrian Seventh Mechanized, has turned north

toward Mispa. The Third armor has captured Capernaum. Both

divisions will be in position to attack Tiberias within the hour.

All are reporting poor visibility.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    468

    "The Iranian Ninth and Syrian Fifth Mechanized are following

the Syrian First Armored. They have been directed to take Mount

Tobb and continue toward Afula. The Iranian Twelfth Armored has

turned north toward Mispa. They have destroyed the villages of

Poritta and HaZore. Minimal resistance. Strong rains are slowing

their drive.

    "The Iranian Twelfth armored along with the Syrian Ninth

Mechanized are both battling heavy flank resistance on the road

to Bet Shean. Heavy rain is being reported." Brezhnev stopped.

    Vorshkov smiled in satisfaction. "Please continue."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   469




    Chapter 39

    A deep-throated vibration sent his fine china teacup dancing

across the desk. Vorshkov watched it fall to the floor with a

sharp crack. From above, a fine shower of dust drifted onto his

desk.

    "A small earthquake," someone called with weak laughter. "No

damage."

    The general composed himself and returned to studying the

weather map. "It's raining from Jerusalem north," he said.

Unbelief and frustration filled his voice. "Look at these

photos," he ordered to no one in particular. "Look! You can see

where the storm ends. The southern half of the country is sunny."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   470

    Brezhnev coughed in response.

    "How long is this to last?" asked Brezhnev.

    "I don't know," replied the frightened new chief meteorolo-

gist. "This storm has a life of its own. It isn't moving, yet it

grows in intensity."

    A deep thump from the ground boomed through the war room.

    "Another quake," Brezhnev called mechanically. "Nothing to

get worried about." His eyes shifted to Vorshkov as he hoped for

confirmation.

       The general never looked up from his command post.

    "Golan commanders are reporting major earthquakes," said an

officer monitoring communication.

    A heavy thump jolted the war-room. Chunks of concrete

dropped from the ceiling.

    Vorshkov slumped to the floor. A meter square slab of thick

concrete spun off his shoulder and smashed into the desk.

    Sitting dazed on the floor, he witnessed a detailed vision

of his army, his career, his life. Blood flowed unabated across

both eyes from the gash in his forehead. He sat watching nature

going mad.

    The decaying bodies of his army lay exposed on the ground.

Soldiers lay covered by mud or volcanic dust. Others lay stacked
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    471

like cordwood along dry riverbanks. Tanks and trucks burned to

the horizon. Smoldering boulders littered the field.

    An image of a person appeared. It was himself. He was

sitting in a chair with eyes glazed and lifeless, the back of his

head drying on the wall. For the first time in his career he knew

fear. He shook off the arms holding him and yelled "Retreat!"

    The generals, monitoring the war from the safety of Moscow,

asked Vorshkov to repeat his command.

    Vorshkov stood as tall as he could, and then straightened

his jacket. His vision still blurred, he squinted at the

Teleconference screen and said one word, "Retreat," and then

Vorshkov collapsed to the floor.

    "But General." Vorshkov heard Brezhnev's distant voice. "It

is an earthquake. We can wait it out. The storm will pass. We're

winning. Israel is ours."

    Vorshkov collected his thoughts and mumbled. "They have the

ark, the real one. They have the power of God."

    Brezhnev knelt in front of Vorshkov. "I can't make out what

you‘re saying. Your words are not clear."

    Vorshkov repeated his words.

    "I can't understand what you‘re saying. Your lips are moving

but no words are coming out."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   472

    "General!" Brezhnev heard the communications officer call.

"A massive quake has occurred. Preliminary reports are that it is

centered north of the Sea of Galilee. It will take us a minute to

assess the damage."

    "Fire and brimstone," Vorshkov mumbled from his daze. "That

will be next. We are all doomed."

         He heard the distant voice of General Brezhnev. "Moscow

has transferred command to me. Take Vorshkov to the infirmary."

    Vorshkov tried to protest as soldiers lifted him from the

floor, but no sounds came from his throat.

                         *       *   *

    The shaking ground jarred Colonel Nimeiri to his knees. The

roaring from inside the mountain lasted a full minute. He stood

to brush the mud from his uniform. "First rain now earthquakes."

He looked around at his command. His assignment to guard the

Rafid Gap was not prestigious. He‘d write a glorious tale to this

episode when he returned home.

    Company commanders reported via radio their fears of the

rain, mud and quaking earth. Nimeiri just sneered. "Superstitious

goat herders! I will discipline them later."

    Below, on the road running through the gap, came the

thunderous sounds of Syrian mechanized units speeding into

Israel. He loved the smells and sounds of military might.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    473

    Around his neck hung the hand-carved wooden cross taken

weeks earlier from the Sawo tribal chief. He wore it upside down,

in mockery. "Until I can replace it with another," he said.

    He pulled his rain gear around him. "After this war, all of

the Sudan will belong to the Brotherhood. No one will stop me."

He shook his fist skyward. "No one."

    He grinned with his plans for tomorrow. "The brilliance of

General Vorshkov will see to it."

    He felt the ground thump upward. The suddenness and strength

of the earth movement knocked him off balance. At first he

guessed it came from the artillery bombardment south of his

position. Hr regained his balance in time to see the south face

of the gorge break away and slide to the bottom. "Quickly," he

barked. "Check all company commanders. See who got caught in that

slide."

                                    *   *    *

    Gamnel walked the rocky beach of Ugarit's fishing harbor

searching for a boat. He wanted a boat that will carry him and

Tasha north to Turkey. Behind him, a Syrian military patrols sat

watching from the road looking for Israeli infiltrators. He

doubted any would be found. He knew about the invasion of Israel.

Even with the normal exaggerations by the state-controlled press,

he knew the Israelis are taking a beating. They had their
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    474

problems and he had his.

    Once Tasha and I get to Turkey, we will go to France, maybe

the U.K.

    A sturdy fishing boat in need of fresh paint caught his eye.

It sat away from the pier, two hundred meters from shore. The

anchor held it in place. The lone fisherman seemed to look around

whenever a Syrian patrol boat cruised by. Gamnel found what he

wanted. He headed back to the marketplace, and Tasha.

    Nightfall arrived and the lights from the city to the south

lit the clouds. He waited for a patrol of soldiers to pass before

slipping into the waters. The waves lapped against the shore as

he entered the water. He ignored the chilliness.

    Tasha slid into the water without a sound.

    A small breeze pushed in from the sea as he grabbed his

daughter's hand. She did not swim. The life vest he "found"

allowed him to pull her along.

    They reached the fishing boat and climbed up the stern,

making an effort to keep the boat from rocking. Once aboard, he

motioned for Tasha to follow. The only sounds came from water

lapping against the hull.

    He turned on his waterproof flashlight and went below. The

door squeaked on rusty hinges. The last thing he saw was Tasha

closing the door.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    475

    He awoke with his hands tied. A person with a long bushy

eyebrow sat staring at him. A short pistol, with an extended

barrel, lay across his lap. Tasha leaned against the closed door,

both hands tied to her feet. The fisherman glanced at Gamnel's

documents.

    "Who are you?" the man asked. "These papers are forged. Even

a fool can see this. Answer me." He gave Gamnel a kick. "I have

no time to waste with you. Answer me now or I'll kill you both."

    Gamnel watched the fisherman screw a makeshift silencer onto

the pistol.

    "Answer me or I'll kill you now and dump your bodies into

the sea."

    Gamnel saw the look in the man's eyes and tried to work the

ropes off his wrists.

    "Stop trying," the man said with the glimmer of a smile. "I

know how to tie a knot."

    Gamnel stopped struggling. "I am Gamnel Agsaa," he began.

"The papers you see are forgeries. I have lost our passports and

must leave the country. I, we, need your help. As you can see, I

do not have much money."

    "Who do you work for?"

    Gamnel watched the man's fingers tighten on the pistol grip.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   476

He thought about the government security forces searching for

him. If they catch us, we will die for sure. If I don't bare my

soul, this man will kill us. We’re dead either way. "Where do I

begin?" Gamnel asked.

    Tasha listened as her father described his work and

exploits. An hour later, she watched the fisherman offer her

father a drink.

    The fisherman checked the ropes holding Tasha then pulled

her across the floor. Her back rested against her father's. The

man uncoiled more rope, then tied Gamnel and Tasha to the center

beam. "That will hold you both until I check out your story. Now,

get some sleep. It will be daylight in a few hours."

    Tasha's moaning woke Gamnel from a horrible dream. His back

and head felt broken. His wrists and ankles felt numb. Every part

of him ached. He knew Tasha felt the same, maybe worse.

    "Tasha," he called just as the door to the cabin opened.

    "So you're Gamnel Abu Agsaa. The Syrians are very interested

in you. I know beggars who would make a lot of money by turning

you in. Have you anything to say for yourself?"

    Gamnel looked at the man and shook his head. "I've said all

I can. My life is in the hands of Allah."

    "Allah, maybe. Mine for certain. As for the war to the

south, it will soon be over."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    477

    The fisherman sat down. Gamnel noticed the gun tucked in the

man‘s waistband.

    "Maybe we can help each other," the fisherman said.

    "What must I pay?"

    "Nothing." He looked at Tasha. "You have nothing I want."

    Gamnel looked at him quizzically as the fisherman untied

Tasha. He lifted her in his arms and carried her to a cot.

    "Not that," Gamnel shouted. "Leave her alone."

    "Quiet fool," the fisherman snapped.

    Gamnel watched him leave then return with a cup of water.

"Maybe it is I who can't trust you." He offered the cup to Tasha.

"Now I must go. I have plans to complete. Your daughter can untie

you when life returns to her hands. If you stay, you can come

with me. Do not worry. I will not bring the police, but do not

steal my boat. I have it rigged to explode." He turned and left

the cabin.



    The sun sat overhead when Gamnel‘s benefactor returned. The

smell of hot food greeted the fisherman as he entered the cabin.

Gamnel lay untied and resting on the floor. Tasha boiled

vegetables in the small galley.

    The fisherman ambled over to Gamnel and prodded him with a

kick. "Wake up. Your daughter has prepared food."

    Gamnel‘s eyes popped open. He saw the fisherman‘s hand grip
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    478

the pistol.

    "We leave within the hour." The fisherman motioned for

Gamnel to sit.

    After eating the soup, the fisherman explained part of his

plan. Tasha cleaned the empty bowls with seawater. He looked at

his watch. "It is time. Stay below until I call for you."

    Tasha described to her father the sound of thumping she

heard while he slept. "When I looked out of the window," she

said, "I saw bubbles traveling away from us. What does it mean?"

    The fisherman looked at Gamnel and scratched his eyebrow.

    Both men said the word at the same time. "Frogmen."

    "We must get off," Gamnel cried.

    "Quickly. Get a life vest on your daughter," the fisherman

ordered. "Don‘t jump until I say."

    Gamnel watched the man rush topside. In a few minutes the

boat began moving.

    "I've got to get into the harbor channel," the man called

through the open door. "Pray we have time." He then ordered

everyone to crawl on deck.

    "Get over the side," he ordered. He threw a rope after them.

"Hold on until I get close to that freighter." His eyes pointed

to a weather-beaten ship moving out to sea.

    The fishing boat passed the harbor entrance and entered the

channel. The freighter moved in their direction. "It will pass
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    479

one hundred meters away. You two must swim."

    The fisherman gave the orders to go. "There will be a line

hanging from the side." He steered his boat into the path of the

freighter. "Grab it and hold on."

    Gamnel pulled his frightened daughter behind him. They held

onto the rope trailing the small boat. The fisherman tied off the

wheel and sat over the side. His legs splashed water when an

explosion propelled him into the air.

    Gamnel turned and saw the fisherman hurtling through the

air. The fisherman landed twenty meters away. He floated face

down. Gamnel saw no motion. He knew he could swim for the

freighter, or he could help his mysterious benefactor. The man

might already be dead.

    Gamnel made his decision. He reached the fisherman just as

the man slipped below the waves. Pulling the stranger up by his

hair, Gamnel saw a bloody gash on his head. He was bleeding but

still alive. Gamnel spun to find Tasha. She bobbed up and down.

Her life vest held her above the water. "Swim," he yelled and

looked at the freighter. No rope hung from its side. We are

doomed.

    A portal opened from the side facing them and Gamnel saw the

barrel of a shotgun pointing at him. In a moment, the report of a

shot reached his ears. Gamnel expected the water to spray with

pellets. Instead, he saw a safety-line whiz past him and fall a
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    480

short distance away. It lay between Tasha and him.

    "Swim for the line," he yelled. He fought to keep the

fisherman's head above water. With all his energy he side stroked

toward the line. Relief swept over him when he saw the rope grow

tight. Tasha held one end.

    The steamer moved past them and he watched Tasha being

carried along. He kicked with his legs. If he didn't move faster,

he would be left behind.

    Gamnel saw the rope moving in the water. Safety lay a few

meters away until he saw the end of the rope coming up fast. He

screamed and kicked. His fingers grabbed the line. His muscles

burned as he pulled the fisherman closer.

    The wet rope slipped through his fingers. He released his

hold a little and twisted the last of the line around his wrist.

Pain shot through his arm as the rope cut into his skin. He dared

not let go.

                              *    *    *

    "We have stored the arks in Afula," said the Colonel. He led

Kendra and Peter to the demolished hotel. Esther, Lora, and Steve

stayed protected in a troop carrier. "What I am about to reveal

must not be repeated. The two arks sat on a hill south of the

city. The hill got attacked. The Prime Minister and most of the

Rabbis have been killed. Rabbi Gershon and I saved the Arks. We

brought them here for safety. Can you help us?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    481

    Pete and Kendra followed the Colonel through the rain and

into the basement. Water poured down the steps. They sloshed

across the floor toward a dark passageway. They stopped at a

metal door.

    "Are they in there?" asked Pete.

    "Yes." He unlocked the door and swung it open.

    Pete helped Kendra slosh across the foot deep water-laden

floor. They entered the door behind the Colonel. Four soldiers

followed.

    Once inside they walked down a long tunnel. At the end of

the tunnel a dim light glowed ever so faint.

    The Colonel, Pete, Kendra, and the soldiers entered a large

room. Rabbi Gershon turned up the wick on the kerosene lamp.

    Pete noticed ten tables spread around the room. Each held a

crate containing an ark, golden plates, or other artifacts. Pete

looked at the water-covered floor.

    "The first thing is to get everything out of here. We must

find a drier location." He turned to the Colonel. "Can you get us

some trucks?"

    "What we have here is more precious than life. I can get

whatever we need."

    "Is the city surrounded?" asked Pete.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    482

    "No," the Colonel replied. "But the roads south, and to the

east, are blocked by landslides."

    "We'll have to fly. Three copters ought to do it. The storm

will make it dangerous. But if the city is captured, the arks

will be destroyed."

    "Wait," cried Rabbi Gershon.

    Pete looked at the Chief Rabbi, who was looking at the door.

Pete turned and saw a strange little man with a prayer shawl over

his head. Two guards tried to stop him. Both soldiers dropped to

the ground as if hit by an unseen force.

    "Let him enter," said Rabbi Gershon. "We still do not know

your name."

    "I am the prophet who is. I have prepared a place for the

arks. It is not far." He turned to leave. "Have your soldiers

carry them and follow me."

    Rabbi Gershon motioned to the Colonel. "Do as he says." The

Colonel nodded his acceptance.

    The military tunnel bored into the hill. Impervious to all

but the largest bomb, the little caravan stopped close by. All

got out. Within the opening sat a complex of armories. They

walked deeper and entered an empty storage room. The prophet

directed the arks to the center of the biggest room. Pete and

Kendra watched as the strange man stood over one. Then he floated
  ISAELI HEAT                                                 483

his hands over the other. He began chanting and drew a circle on

the floor.

    "Do not cross this line."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    484




    Chapter 40

    Kendra sat on the concrete floor. Her eyes and face drooping

from exhaustion. She needed sleep, yet knew she wasn‘t going to

get any. Rubbing her bruised leg to keep awake, she sat watching

the so called prophet. He sat in the chair facing her with his

eyes closed. She knew he was faking. Farther back in the cave,

she saw Pete searching for anything to make a fire.

    "My God," she prayed. Thunder reverberated through the

cavern as the downpour outside continued. "You are so Holy," She

said without sound. "None of us are worthy. By your grace do we

even have life. In our ignorance we try to bring you down to our
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    485

level. Everything we do is in hopes of relating to you. Yet, you

understand us better than we understand ourselves. You sent your

Son to save us. In Him can we call ourselves righteous."

    She felt the spirit within her soul energize. She sensed

that God heard her prayer. Through the broken window she stared

into the rain and finished her prayer with, "Protect us all."

    Turning back to the two arks, she saw a man standing by the

one to her right. "Who are you?" she asked.

    The stranger looked at Kendra. "A friend. Do not loose

heart. God loves you," he said. "Your ordeal will soon end. No

one will loose their lives. But they must stay close to you."

    Could this person be an angel from God? Lack of sleep might

be making her hallucinate. "When will it be over?" she asked.

"How will I keep everyone alive?"

    "You will live. All will live. Much goes on within the world

you cannot see."

    A clap of thunder pulled her attention back toward the rain.

When she looked back at the man, he was gone. "I must be

hallucinating," she murmured. She looked at the arks. Another

face appeared where they sat.

    "Esther!" she cried. "Don't touch them."

    Kendra leaped from the floor and ran toward the arks.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  486

    The prophet‘s eyes sprung open and he jumped to his feet. He

snatched Esther‘s arm and yanked her from the table.

    Kendra caught Esther's fall and held her tightly.

    "She must die," the prophet yelled. "She touched the arks."

    Kendra held her godchild in her arm. "No!" She looked into

Esther's face. "She touched one, and it didn't kill her. And

neither will you."

    The prophet moved closer. "She must die. And if you protect

her, you must die."

    Kendra remembered what the stranger said "That no one will

die."

    Pete spun the prophet around. "Leave them be. If God didn't

kill the kid, you're not about to."

    The prophet stretched his hands toward Pete.

    "Wolf!" Kendra yelled. "Watch out!"

    Kendra saw Pete jerk back. Something grabbed him from

behind.

    Pete bounced against the wall as if a million tiny hands

pushed him.

    Kendra saw Pete‘s eyes. He was stunned by the shove but

still fighting mad.

    "Stop!" she yelled. She turned to the prophet. "The Lord
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    487

rebuke you. You'd kill this little child. You‘re no prophet!" she

sneered in disgust. "You're evil."

    The prophet spun toward Kendra and stopped inches away from

her face. "How dare you talk to me like that." His eyes blazed

with anger. "I have the power to kill. I can kill all of you."

    "You've got nothing," Kendra screamed. She moved closer

until her nose almost touched his. Face to face, she locked her

eyes onto his. "You‘re nothing but a joke. A fraud. Get out of my

face."

    The prophet stepped back and stretched his hands toward

Kendra. "Die," he snarled. His eyes turned red with anger.

    Kendra moved closer until her shoulders touched his hands.

"I've got more power in me than you'll ever have."

    A massive bolt of lightning struck the front of the cave and

lit the inside of the building with a blue light.

    Kendra stared into the prophet's eyes. "Do it," she taunted.

"You've got nothing." Her eyes glared at him their anger. She saw

a confused look cross his face.

    The prophet shoved his hands at Kendra again. "You will

die," he growled.

    "Something wrong?" Kendra yelled as she held her ground.

Then her face filled with a rock solid smile. "You need someone
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   488

to help you?" she chided.

    The Prophet dropped his arms in exhaustion and searched the

palms of his hands.

    "Maybe it‘s time to wash your hands," Kendra taunted.

    "I will not forget," he growled. "I will avenge this

humiliation."

    "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

    She watched him hurry from the room, and then turned to

Pete. He stood against the wall staring at her, his mouth open.

She patted Esther‘s back and set her on the floor.

    "Go sit with Lora," she said, and watched her godchild curry

to her sister.

    Steve and Lora sat on the floor without saying a word.

    "You‘re a fighter," Pete said. "What happened? He couldn't

do anything to you. I ended up against the wall like I was

nothing. You're a fighter," he repeated. "What happened to me?"

    Lora rose and went to her sister as Esther sat on the floor

in Steve's arms. "You were wonderful, Sis. How did you do it?

Your face is glowing. I'm sure that nut saw it."

    "My guardian angels, I guess," Kendra answered. She thought

for a moment about the man by the arks. "I think I saw one,

standing next to the ark on the right. He said we will all live."

    Pete looked at the ark. "That freak said that Esther touched
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    489

the one on the left. It didn't hurt her. Maybe there‘s no power."

    "I think we know the real one," Kendra said. She nodded

toward the one on the right. "That's the one you and I found in

that hidden chamber."

    They all looked at the two arks, and especially the one to

the right.

    A deep rumble came from below their feet. The table holding

the two golden boxes jiggled across the floor.

    "Earthquake," Pete yelled. "Get outside." He fell to the

floor as he lost his footing. He saw Kendra fall next to him.

    It ended with patches of concrete and a steel beam falling

from the ceiling. The military guards, and the Prophet, rushed

in. The Colonel and more soldiers followed.

    Pete helped Kendra to her feet. Steve sat on the floor

holding his leg. Lora knelt beside him. Esther ran over to Kendra

and held onto her.

    "That's the worst yet," Pete said as he fanned the air to

clear away the dust. A second steel beam fell from the ceiling

and raised a dust cloud from the floor.

    Kendra lifted Esther and hobbled around the debris. "The

arks are unhurt." She studied the roof. "Is it safe to stay

here?" She saw the strength of the ceiling where Lora and Steve
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   490

sat. She took Esther to them and set her down.

    The Prophet pointed to Kendra. "This is your fault. I warned

you not to cross the circle."

    Pete surveyed the arks, looking for damage. "We have to get

them south," he said to the Colonel. "When will those copters get

here?"

    "Tomorrow morning. We can‘t fly them out any earlier."

    "Give me a minute," Pete said. He walked to the entrance and

stepped around a stream of water cascading into the entrance. He

looked at the puddle that formed. "At least the water is draining

outside." He peered through the glassless windows. Two guards

stood outside, under the overhang, next to a fire. He stepped

outside, warmed his hands for a moment then returned to the

Colonel.

    "That will have to do," Colonel. "But if we get another

earthquake, it might be safer to place the Arks in your personnel

carriers."

    "I agree," the Colonel said. He left with his men. The

Prophet glared at Kendra. He followed the military from the room.

    Esther tugged at Lora's arm and pointed at the picture she

drew in the dust. It looked like smudges, but to a trained

psychologist it shed a glimmer of light on the child's

subconscious thoughts.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    491

    Lora studied the picture and wished she could keep a copy.

"Can you draw me another picture?"

    Kendra smiled at Pete as she held out strands of her hair

for him to see. "Look. I've gotten white strands. I‘ve been more

frightened than I admitted."

    Pete put his arm around her shoulder. "I think that streak

looks becoming. I wouldn't be surprised to see that my hair has

turned white."

    "Me too!" added Steve with a chuckle. "Though I wish I was

home, in bed, watching all this on television."

    Pete looked toward the front of the building, the broken

door and windows. "I found some wood to make a fire. Let's get

some sleep."

    Morning came with Pete watching the darkness vanish into a

windless gray sky. A sliver of pink glowed to the east, revealing

that the storm had past.

    Pete studied the pinkish glow. "There's still a sun up

there. I think the storm is gone." He looked around for the two

guards assigned to the entrance. Everyone was gone. His eye's

searched the room. The Colonel and the Prophet were also gone.

Something seemed wrong.

    Philopas watched them throughout the night. Huddled under a

massive slab of concrete, he memorized Meir‘s every move. Steve
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    492

still limped and Pete held his ribs. Nothing went unnoticed.

    Pete is the most dangerous. The last confrontation confirmed

that. The other man might give him trouble. But, he needed

crutches to even walk. He‘ll be no problem. He'd watch out for

Kendra. His fingers touched the lump on his forehead. As he

waited, he wiped his knife clean. He did not want the knife to

slip.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   493

    Chapter 41

    The edge of the cliff slipped away and plunged into the

gorge. Colonel Nimeiri hurried farther back. The volcanic

eruption, and accompanying earthquake, turned the Rafid Gap into

a deathtrap. A never-ending series of rockslides buried

everything at the bottom.

    "Order all units away from these edges," Nimeiri yelled. Hot

volcanic rocks fell around him as he scrambled to safety under a

truck. "We must abandon this position. I cannot protect something

that the gods are destroying."

    The sound of wrenching earth drowned out the roar from the

distant volcanoes. "Call Brezhnev, let him know our situation."

    He looked at the glowing rock, which plowed into the ground

in front of him. "I can't fight this."

    He looked at his radioman. The guy was talking to all

company commanders at the same time. He motioned for his second

radioman to follow.

    He crawled out from under the truck and dove under one

sitting by a large boulder. He looked back in time to see his

radioman under the truck vanish in the flames of an igniting gas

tank.

    "We've lost all communications with the south side," said a

frantic radioman.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    494

    Nimeiri pointed to his ears. The radioman scurried closer to

his Colonel. The shriek from incoming boulders drowned out all

but the loudest voice.

    He studied the south ridge. Nimeiri made out his men

scurrying from the Israeli emplacements.

    "They're retreating," yelled the radioman. "All south ridge

units are abandoning their positions."

    Nimeiri stared at the ridge. Four hundred men looked like

ants running across the sparse shrub covered terrain. "They are

sons of pigs, all of them." He studied their movement for a

moment. "Try to raise them. Order them to hold their position."

    "Incoming!" yelled the radioman. He pointed up.

    Waves of hot boulders smashed into the ridge. A massive

earthquake shook the area. Nimeiri noticed that the north side of

the gorge was closer to his position. Immediately he saw the side

slid away.

    "That's it! There's nothing here to protect. The road has to

be blocked." He turned to his radioman. "Order a withdrawal."

    Nimeiri ignored the falling rocks. He climbed onto the

flattened roof of the truck for his men to see. He hoped to give

them courage.

    Of the five hundred men, which made up the four companies on
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    495

his side, he guessed that maybe only one hundred men have

survived.

    A path led down the slope toward Syria. He would send his

men through it. "Israeli mine fields are all over the place," he

yelled. "Be careful." He pointed at the yellow markers which

Syrian engineers had hammered into the ground. "Stay between the

markers."

    To the south, he saw the survivors of his command running

down the slope. Puffs of smoke erupted within the unit. He saw no

yellow markers near them. "Fools," he growled. He motioned for

his men to form-up on him. Then he ran.

    The road leading away from the Gap drew closer. "We're

almost there. A few more kilometers."

    He scampered up a rocky outcrop to direct his men toward the

path they should follow. "Get to the trucks." A rain of burning

rocks descended on his fleeing men. "We must get away from this

hell."

    He guessed all units along the invasion front ran for their

lives. "If anyone hesitates in this chaos," he said to justify

his abandonment of the Gap, "they are dead men."

    He spied some of his men running in the prohibited areas.

    "Stay within the markers," he yelled, but no one heard his

warning. An image flashed before his eyes of the Sudanese chief
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    496

he killed.

    A massive explosion sounded above the incessant rumbling. A

gigantic eruption north of the Gap propelled stone, lava, and

smoke high into the sky. Nimeiri fell to the ground as the

outcrop beneath his feet swayed and threw his body to the left

then right. His fingers clawed into the dirt, trying to find

something secure.

    He made it to his knees and yelled at his men. "Get up! Get

up you lizards. Run! Run for your lives."

    In mass, those who heard his orders, started to run then

hesitated. "Go!" Nimeiri motioned. "Don't stop. Keep moving," he

yelled. Though few heard him, all knew the meaning of his arm

signals. "Once we get to the road," he yelled, "We are departing

this cursed land."

    A glowing boulder smashed into the ground at the base of the

outcrop.

    Down the hill, a puny man-made explosion caught his

attention. He looked for yellow markers. They're gone. A buried

land mine blew two men through the air. "Stop!" he yelled, but

the deafening roar from the volcano swallowed his cries.

    His men ran down the slope toward the road, oblivious to the

detonations around them. Nimeiri collapsed to his knees as he

watched his command tumble to the ground by strings of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   497

detonations. Three hundred frantic men vanished into puffs of

dirt. When it ended, a pitiful few stood on the road.

    They looked back, waved, and disappeared in the smoke. When

he saw them again, only three were climbing into an abandoned

truck. It sped away toward Damascus.

    "Allah is good to me. They've cleared the minefield for me,"

he said with a bittersweet smile.

    A volcanic boulder whizzing over his head prodded him into

action. He jumped from the outcrop and then something hit his

right leg. He flipped in mid-air and landed dazed on his back. In

the sky, he saw a rain of death. Nimeiri cried out in pain, and

found he was unable to rise. This is not good, he thought.

    A small hot boulder crashed into the ground less than a

meter from his head. He rolled away and caught a glimpse of a

foot lying to his side.

    It took all his strength, but he lifted himself to see the

damage. Blood squirted across the ground from the bottom of his

right leg. His foot was gone. He pulled off his belt and used it

as a tourniquet to stop the blood squirting from his leg.

    When he finished, he lay back exhausted. Staring into the

sky, he saw a red dot streaking toward him. "Allah is greater,"

he screamed. His last thoughts came of the black Chief he killed.

The man died smiling, looking up into the sky. Nimeiri tried to
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    498

smile but couldn't. Instead he now saw the chief laughing just

before the red/orange glowing bolder hit.

    The red-hot three-hundred pound boulder plunged through his

chest, separating his neck from his body. A dark, blood dried

wooden-cross catapulted through the air and landed on top of the

outcrop. It ignited upon contact with the glowing rocks. Soon a

raging inferno enveloped the ridge and cleansed the land with

fire.

                              *    *    *

    General Brezhnev felt the room thump and rattle as energy

from a nearby quake swept through the area. "Report!" he yelled.

"Has anything been damaged? What about our forces?"

    General Azov studied his data screen. "There's been a

massive explosion close to the Iranian armored divisions. Iranian

forces are reporting burning rocks raining from the sky. We've

lost contact with the Syrian Sword of Allah division."

    "Reestablish contact," commanded Brezhnev. "What aircraft do

we have in the area? What are they reporting?"

    "We have lost contact with all forces in the Eastern sec-

tors. Aircraft flying south of Damascus are reporting billowing

clouds rising all along the frontier. They've counted seven

separate plumes."

    Brezhnev looked at his ground controllers. "Seven plumes of
  ISAELI HEAT                                                  499

what?" he asked.

    "Reports from the Syrian Seventh battalion are arriving.

It's the Ninth armor. Two separate volcanic explosions are

pummeling their position."

       "Volcanoes?" shouted a confused Brezhnev. "What

  volcanoes?"

    "Iranian forces are trapped in mudslides," Azov continued.

"Water soaked slides have buried many positions. Twenty companies

have disappeared. Command believes all are dead."

    Brezhnev looked at his controllers and then at his second in

command. "Moscow! What does Moscow say?"

    General Azov looked at the interactive terminal tied to

Moscow. "They are studying our reports. They have never seen

anything like this. They will get back to us in a moment."

    "Great!" Brezhnev yelled as he looked at Azov. "Bring

Vorshkov to me. I want him to look into the faces of those men in

Moscow."

    Vorshkov arrived, flanked by security, and stood at the

bottom of the command platform.

    "General Vorshkov! Moscow has directed me to return command

to your authority. I want to say, for all to hear, that the

action to remove you from your post was not of my doing. For
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    500

Mother Russia, and the good of all, you will now resume senior

command of this operation. I shall be leaving immediately."

Brezhnev said with finality. He saluted and walked away.

    Vorshkov shouted at Brezhnev. "You have killed hundreds of

thousands of my men. Arrest that man."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    501




    Chapter 42

    Vorshkov slammed his hand on the table. The anger seething

from him made his skin hot. He looked around the room, and then

typed in a command on his keyboard. "Let's see what damage has

been done." General Azov stood next to Vorshkov, visibly shaken,

and waited.

    A real-time transmission from a weather satellite filled the

screen. "The storm has cleared," Vorshkov said. He saw the little

satisfaction in his voice made Azov relax. He smiled at the photo

interpreter standing next to Azov and motioned for him.

    He typed in another command. An analysis of his battlefield

units appeared. He closed his eyes from the shock of what he
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    502

read. "It's over," he muttered softly. The reality of the data

filtered into his mind. "The army is destroyed. So many men."

    On the big screen, across the war-room, he looked at the

computer enhanced satellite video images of northern Israel. Huge

fires raged out of control in every sector. Cities lay in ruins,

but uninvaded.

    The photo-interpreter pointed out the hail-covered terrain.

Computer enhanced reddish-orange circles dotted the landscape.

    "What are those?" asked Vorshkov.

    The interpreter looked at the screen. "Volcanic calderas.

They run north from the Horns of Hittin for fifty kilometers."

The interpreter used a laser pointer to point out the calderas.

"All of these extinct volcanoes came to life."

    Computer generated coloring revealed boiling lava. Color

enhanced graphics indicated 1800-degree temperatures. A gigantic

splash jumped from the largest caldera.

    "Nothing can live under that," said a grim faced Vorshkov.

"It destroys everything it hits."

    His terminal blinked. The data requested on Tel Dan

displayed itself. "Twenty-five thousand," he moaned. "Men and

material, everything was gone. Get me a status report. I want to

know about every surviving unit, as soon as you can."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    503

    Vorshkov opened his desk drawer and removed a picture of

Kendra Makray. Ripping it to shreds, Vorshkov dropped the pieces

in a wastebasket.

    "General!" called his communication officer. "We have an

urgent request from the Presidents of Syria and Iran. They demand

to speak with you."

    Vorshkov saw it coming. He knew what they wanted. His effort

to prevent a nuclear war lay in shambles. "Put them through," he

growled as each President's image appeared.

    "General Vorshkov." The President of Iran began. "My nation

is crippled by our losses. You had Israel by its throat. We had a

great victory. Now we have been crushed by defeat and shame. We

cannot allow the Israeli government victory. The Jew dogs have

won their last five conflicts. We cannot allow them this one. My

country, all of Islam is at a crossroad. The Koran says that

Allah is through with the Jews. Yet it seems that nature,

computers, and those stupid codes written in their Holy book

fight against us. If we do not win this war, what will become of

our religion? Allah does not lie. Will you make the prophet into

a liar? Israel cannot be permitted to exist."

    The President of Iran interrupted. "Your government prevent-

ed me from sending nuclear bombs over their illegitimate country.

You have ten SS-24's at your command. You must use them. We
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    504

cannot let the dogs win this war. The honor of your nation, my

nation, all your southern republics, demands that you act before

it is too late. The honor of Allah commands you to act."

    "Kendra!" Vorshkov whispered as he stared at the two

leaders. "All because of you and that cursed ark. The war between

Allah and Yahweh has been fought. Are they both real? Are they

all pretenders?"

    Vorshkov thought about the strangeness of what has taken

place – the storms, the volcanoes, the earthquakes. "Maybe my son

is right. Yahweh is the only God and Allah is a pretender."

    Softly shaking his head he thought about what he just said.

"Is everything I've worked for been a lie?"

    The voice of the grim faced Syrian President sounded above

the others. "I have received a report that Israeli commandos have

destroyed all my nation's VX launchers. We have killed all of the

attacking dogs, but I cannot launch the gas against the Israelis.

Instead, my people are suffering from the release of the VX

brought on by these butchers."

    Vorshkov listened as the three Presidents tried to out shout

the other. But his thoughts centered on his place in history. If

I fail, no one will remember what I accomplished. If I use my

missiles, my government will disavow me. Yet, my only chance to

redeem this war is the nuclear destruction of Israel. They must
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    505

die. Vorshkov waved his hand to quiet the haranguing.

    "Gentlemen." He laughed at his choice of words. "You are all

right. At this moment, I am unleashing my final solution. Today

may not be my finest hour, but it will be one the world will

remember. And it may redeem your governments and your precious

religion."

    The Presidents of Syria and Iran smiled as their screens

went blank. Vorshkov turned to General Azov with renewed purpose.

"Bring your key," he ordered. Vorshkov reached inside his tunic.

    Vorshkov walked to a small metal box. He lifted the

protective cover and waited. When his aid arrived, Vorshkov

inserted his key. General Azov followed the set procedure. In an

instant, a series of top-secret security codes flashed via

satellite to Moscow.

    The ten men sitting in the Moscow war-room knew that

Vorshkov was exercising his last contingency. President Shaposni-

kov nodded his approval and picked up the phone. "Get me the

President of the United States. We have a nuclear-armed general

who has gone mad."

    Fifty kilometers south of the Caucasus mountain range, east

of Krasnodar, ten mobile SS-24 missile launchers sat in standby

mode. Each missile carried three thirty-kiloton nuclear warheads.

    Vorshkov typed in the next command. General Azov completed
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   506

the instructions. Vorshkov then flipped open a red lid. His

finger rested on the button. He looked at General Azov. "You are

officially relieved of command," Vorshkov said. "Please have

everyone evacuate this room and prepare to return to Moscow. For

what I am about to do, I take full responsibility. Now leave me

comrade, while you have time."

    The General of Generals, Colonel General Nicoli Vorshkov

watched as the war-room emptied. When the last man exited the

room, Vorshkov squeezed his trigger finger.

                                 *   *   *

    General Ben-Izen looked at the newly sworn in Prime

Minister. "We've got confirmation of missile lift off from

American satellites. Ten missiles have taken off from the

Northern shores of the Black Sea. They are believed to be the

older mobile SS-24s. Depending on configuration, each missile

will be carrying either two or three warheads. There is no

indication that the Rujmayn sites have activated."

    "At least we don't have to worry about the Syria – yet. Can

we use THOR on the Russian missiles? Can it reach them?"

    "Yes, sir. All guns are online. We should be picking up the

missiles on ground-based radar within seconds. First they have to

reach an altitude of one hundred kilometers. After that they will

fire."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   507

    "If any miss, you say we have another opportunity?"

    "Yes sir. The capacitors need five minutes to recharge.

That will give us an additional two minutes before the warheads

arrive."

    "What about the Syrian site? Have they begun launch? What if

the Shehab 3's leave their storage? Can we take care of them? The

Iranians are not that controllable. Their President has got to be

suicidal with all that is happening."

    General Ben-Isenberg face resembled chiseled stone as he

continued. "We have set the computers for an overlapping three

shot burst on the warheads from Russia. When we're finished, we

will have charges left for ten more shoots." His stony face went

glum. "If the first shots don't get them, we may need the rest."

Izen‘s face took on the color of white limestone. "I don't know

the answer for the Iranian threat. Pray that we will have enough

time." He turned to an aid. "Get me the latest Intel on the

Iranian site. We will deal with them if we have too."

    The Prime Minister searched the General's face. "What is it

commander?"

    "We've never tested THOR on something this far away. The

computed accuracy for a distance of one thousand kilometer is

plus or minus five meters. Our chance of destroying anything at

this range is under sixty percent. Much depends on our computers
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    508

and magnetic mirrors. If we're off by as much as a micron..."

    "We have missile lock," said a technician operating the

firing console. "Targets are traveling at five thousand

kilometers per hour."

    Ben-Izen lowered his hand. "Fire when ready."

    The operator pressed the auto-fire button.

    The THOR system came to life. An invisible, slightly reddish

beam, of tuned free-electron Laser light blinked twice. Sub-

atomic particles traveling at 99.99% of the speed of light filled

the second beam as the first cut a searing path through the

atmosphere. Computers and magnetic aiming devices worked in

concert to direct the beam of destructive energy to distant

missiles. It didn't take long to read the displayed report.

    "Four have been destroyed! Another appears damaged and is

heading northeast," called an ecstatic technician interpreting

the technical data. "It's working!"

    The firing operator looked at General Ben-Izen. "THOR is

firing again."

    The general leaned closer to the Prime Minister. "Five down

and five to go."

    Everyone waited, uncertain of the fate of the five missiles.

The radar interpreter broke the silence.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    509

    "Three near misses," he said. "Two are untouched. The near

misses are showing erratic courses. We must have hit them"

    "Are they dangerous?" asked General Ben-Izen.

    The radar operator's shoulders drooped as he relaxed.

"Computers are showing two missiles turning north. The other is

going straight up. All are currently no threat to us."

    "That makes four over their own country. That's eight to

twelve warheads. What about the two heading our way?" asked the

General. "Keep track of those waywards, but give me continuous

status on all incoming."

    "All four waywards will reach discharge point in thirty

seconds," called the radar operator. "Once they release their

warheads, we'll know what to expect from the two incoming."

    "Can THOR fire again?" asked the Prime Minister.

    "We have one solid state system partial charge left,"

answered Izen as he read the power indicators on the console. "We

are at 30%. We will have full-charge in five minutes."

    The Prime Minister looked at the data coming in on the

detonation points for the wayward missiles. A sickening feeling

gnawed at his stomach. "Gentleman, we cannot reveal that we have

THOR. Many people will soon die. In minutes, more will follow-

innocent people are about to perish."

    He looked into the General's eyes. "We must never reveal
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    510

that we have THOR. If it is known that we caused this

calamity..." The Premier shuddered. "We must deny its existence

no mater what. It is a good thing the LASER is invisible."

    General Ben-Izen nodded in agreement. "World opinion will

turn against us like hungry wolves once the suffering begins. I

agree. The world must never know about THOR."

    "We have locks on six warheads," called the technician.

"Each missile carried three. All are active. We will commence

firing in ten seconds."

    The Prime Minister studied the screen. Red circles indicated

the exact points where the warhead existed. "They are one-hundred

kilometers above the earth, and heading our way."

    General Ben-Izen studied the computer tracking for the six

warheads. "One had as its destination, Nazareth. Two headed for

Haifa and Akkoro. The last target was Afula. Four cities." He

felt sick as the seconds ticked away. "Are we ready with THOR? We

cannot make any errors."

    "We're firing," called the firing operator. "Two shot bursts

for each warhead." Before he continued, the screen filled with

electronic hash.

    "Did we get them?" asked the Prime Minister as dots and

squiggles blotted out any information. The intensity of the

electronic hash increased as more warheads exploded.

    "We shall know in a minute," replied the operator. "It
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    511

appears that we destroyed the others. Radar is useless above

twenty-K. There's too much interference. But we're following the

projected path. If we see something at nineteen thousand, we can

fire again. All guns are following the computed trajectories."

                                *   *   *

    Pete found the two guards. They've been dead for some time.

    He ducked behind some debrie and searched the area, looking

for any movement. For some reason everything reminded him of when

he was military intelligence.

    His time in the marines was fairly short. Yet somehow they

obtained information about his past. They all knew he understood

Russian. Soon after he was transferred to Intel and shipped off

to Turkey. From there he entered the old Soviet Union and did

some sabotage. Once Russian security almost found him as he hid

under the rubble of the building he just destroyed. They followed

his trail of dead counter-agents and army personnel to the

border. The next year, while on another mission, the Russians

seemed to know what his mission was about and were waiting for

him. He survived only because the Soviet Union disintegrated as

on queue. He escaped in the confusion that followed. His mission

was never completed, but it didn't matter anymore.

    Pete peaked out through the window in time to see Moonface

running towards the door. Pete reached the broken door just as

the killer slammed it open. Machine-gun fire sprayed through the
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    512

room. Pete deflected the rifle and followed up with two hard

punches to Moonface's kidneys. Pete knew his taped ribs weakened

the hits.

    Philopas reacted with a lightning kick into Pete's ribs.

    Pete countered with a perfect lunge punch into the

assassin's stomach. The killer exhaled from Pete‘s blow but

managed to jam the rifle barrel into Pete's ribs.

    Philopas threw the empty gun away. A hand grabbed him from

behind and spun him around.

    Steve sent a punch into the killer's jaw.

    Standing on one good leg, Steve held his balance. Moonface

drove a kick into Steve‘s groin.

    Lora jumped onto Moonface's back. One hand wrapped around

the killer‘s neck. The other dug into his eyes.

    Philopas yelled in pain and smashed a backhand into Lora's

face. She lost her grip and fell unconscious to the floor.

    Pete hit Moonface behind the neck.

    Philopas spun away and sent a reverse heel into Pete's ribs.

Pete froze with pain. His eyes wide as his lungs convulsed. He

crumbled to his knees, defenseless, unable to breathe.

    Philopas smiled. "You loose," the assassin said. His

laughter was cold with the pleasure of killing this conquest. He
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    513

grabbed Pete's chin and head in preparation to snap the neck.

"This game is finished," Philopas grinned.

    Steve yanked on Moonface's foot and twisted.

    Philopas lost his grip on Pete and went down.

    Pete reached out to help but couldn't move.

    Philopas jumped toward Steve, and smashed down with a

massive elbow to Steve‘s jaw.

    The blow stunned Steve. Staggered, his street fighting

instincts reached out to protect himself just as a boot knife

appeared in the killer‘s hand. He grabbed the wrist holding the

knife, and head-butted the killer.

    Kendra stared into the assassin's face. "He's got a scar,"

she screamed. Her heart leaped with the realization. "He is the

one." Pete glanced at the face as pain ripped through his chest.

    Philopas scrapped his foot against Steve's sutured leg.

Steve felt the pain. He head butted the killer's nose. Blood ran

from the killer‘s face. Steve freed one hand and smeared blood

into the man‘s eyes.

    Blinded, Philopas backed off. At the same time he sent a

snap-kick into Steve's chest. Steve fell against the wall. As he

tried to rise, Philopas grabbed a chunk of concrete and crashed

it down on Steve's head. Philopas watched Steve's eyes roll into
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   514

his head. Then Steve collapsed.

    Both of the men maybe down, yet Philopas knew they still

lived. "First I cut your throat," he said coldly. Steve tried to

rise, but couldn‘t. "Then it's your friends‘ turn."

    Pete saw his chance. He managed a shallow breath, steeled

his body, and attacked. The Wolf leaped forward and grabbed

Moonface‘s knife hand in a death grip and twisted, hoping to snap

the elbow. Philopas moved fast and hooked Pete's leg. Both fell

to the floor with the killer on top.

    Pete's eyes went blind from pain, the knife inches from his

throat.

    Philopas saw Pete's eyes go glassy and transferred all his

weight onto his knife arm. At the same time he jammed a knee into

Pete's broken rib.

    Philopas smiled as he watched the pain deepen in Pete's

face. He lifted his knee and smashed it down again; enjoying the

agony he was creating.

    "God help them," cried Kendra. She reached for the bag

holding the gun.

    The Wolf felt his muscles weaken. He used his last ounce of

strength and pushed the killer's knife to the side. The blade

speared itself into the concrete floor and broke.

    Philopas threw the knife away and jabbed his fingers into

Pete‘s eyes. He made sure his fingernails cut into the eyes.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    515

    Pete cried out from the pain and Philopas knew Pete was

blind. He stood above his crippled foe, ready for the final blow.

The one which would kill.

    With Esther in one arm, Kendra aimed and fired. The phut-

phut sound continued until the gun was empty.

    Philopas felt the punches in his chest. The special Kevlar

bullet-proof vest held, though he knew his chest would be

bruised. He also realized the gun in Kendra's hand was now empty.

He ignored her.

    The Wolf tried to see, but his eyes screamed in pain and

filled with tears. For an instant he made out where the ark on

the right sat. He hoped this idea would work. Blinded by

Moonface‘s fingers, he felt helpless.

    He staggered between Moonface and the table, and positioned

himself in front of the ark. It was the ark Esther hadn't

touched, the one on the right side. He waited and tried to see.

    Philopas looked at Pete and spit. "What do you think you can

do? I have you beaten. You can‘t even see."

    Pete waited for the assassin to attack. He didn't have long

to wait.

    Kendra slammed a fresh clip in and fired. Ten bullets

punched into Philopas, stunning him. Three bullets penetrated the

vest.

    Pete the Wolf sensed a look of astonishment on Moonface.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    516

Through eyes filled with water, he saw the killer stagger. The

Wolf somehow blocked the kick from Moonface and grabbed him by

the armpits.

    A punch smashed into Pete‘s face, but Pete held on. The Wolf

pulled the killer down and dropped onto his back. He jabbed a

foot into the killer's stomach. The movement sent needles of pain

into Pete's chest. The Wolf screamed as he kicked up and pulled

the killer toward him.

    Moonface flew over Pete and somersaulted into the air. His

feet slammed into the ark on the right. He spun around as a

brilliant white light washed out his sight. Then the light was

gone. Now, something dark and horrible approached.

    Pete tried to get up but Moonface fell back across him,

pinning him to the floor. Panicked by Moonface‘s attack, Pete

pushed away, but all he could do was gasp for air.

    Unable to see, Pete realized that Moonface did not move.

Pete freed an arm and wiped his eyes. He saw the ark. "Did it

work?" he asked.

    It took a minute before he could free himself from the

assassin. The only sounds in the cave came from Esther's crying.

    Though pain and tears filled his eyes, he somehow made out

Kendra holding the pistol.

    "I had to do it. Wolf, did I kill him? "

    Pete wiped his eyes again and looked at Moonface's bloody
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   517

chest. He pulled open the assassin‘s shirt. "You didn't kill

him," he said. "You shot him, but you didn't kill him." Pete

closed his eyes and wiped his face. With watered eyes he turned

to the ark on the right. "But, I think it did."

    Pete helped Steve and Lora stand. They left the room and

went outside, leaving the dead assassin on the floor.

                              *    *    *

    "Radar indicates warheads," said General Ben-Izen.

    "Firing!" relayed the console operator. "Altitude, seventeen

kilometers.

    Both THOR‘s guns fired megawatts of energy until empty.

High-energy particles smashed into the six warheads. Three fell

harmlessly to the ground. Their firing circuits melted into a

useless glob. Two others detonated with blinding fury. The final

warhead glided toward Afula. Its firing mechanism damaged.

    "We got them!" yelled a jubilant Ben-Izen. "We did it!"

Cheers filled the control room.

    "Any damage?" asked the Prime Minister.

    "Two exploded when they got hit. Four fell harmlessly to the

earth."

    "Will they be dangerous?" asked the Prime Minister."

    "Only if their casings break open. Our clean-up crew will
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   518

contain any radiation they find on the ground."

    "Can any explode?" asked the Prime Minister.

    "Very unlikely," Izen replied. "Our tests have shown that

when THOR hit those warheads, not much survives."

    "What about the two that exploded?"

    "They‘d have been dangerous to those who looked directly at

the blast. Other than that, the detonations are too high to

create serious damage."

    The Prime Minister looked at his Chief of Staff. "Remember

Izen, what we have done. No one must know of THOR."

                              *    *      *

    General Vorshkov stared in disbelief at the telemetry

revealing the premature destruction of five missiles. "How?" he

asked. "What happened?"

    "We don't know." The voice came from the worried missile

commander. "We're researching. We believe nothing went wrong.

Something hit them."

    "Something hit them? That's impossible," yelled Vorshkov.

"Have them reload."

    "We will have the launchers reloaded in one hour. The

carriers are bringing up our reserve missiles."

    "General! Radar says two missiles are heading north. Each
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    519

has released their warheads. A third has released its warheads

over us."

    Vorshkov froze. "No!" he yelled in disbelief. "When will

they detonate?"

    "Three warheads have just detonated west of Tula," the

commander in the Caucus said. "Three have detonated over northern

Kazakhstan. Precise coordinates are not yet in. A missile heading

toward the Ukraine has not released its warhead. Computers are

indicating three more will detonate south of Moscow. The

President has been warned."

    "What about the missile over you?" asked Vorshkov as he

studied the telemetry report.

    "Indications are that the warheads will explode between

Sevastopol and Kerch. They will be thirty kilometers from the

coast, and very close to each other. All are programmed for

ground burst."

    "Warn the coastal areas," Vorshkov ordered, though he knew

it was already too late. What happened?

    President Shaposnikov came online. His eyes filled with

rage. "What have you done Vorshkov?" He spat out the general's

name. "I never want to see you again. You have killed millions of

our people!"

                                *   *     *
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    520

    A brilliant light appeared above Afula.

    Pete saw the brilliance even with his eyes closed. He peeked

out through closed eyelids. No colors existed but white. He shut

his watery eyes in a desperate act of self-preservation. For a

moment his life passed before his eyes. Growing up in Derry,

killing his father, running from the police, joining the Irish

Republican Party, becoming their child assassin, the killings,

escaping to America, changing his name to Sean Adams, becoming

disillusioned with the IRA, changing his name again to Peter

Meirs, who was a dead kid in suburban Chicago, moving to Denver,

joining the Marines, his life in Military Intel, the killings,

becoming an archaeologist, meeting Kendra, discovering the Ark,

the killings over and over, now this war. Will it ever end? This

had to be the end.

    "Don't turn and look," he yelled, hoping everyone heard him.

    The intense light lasted a long, frightful, fifteen seconds

then faded. Pete didn't bother to open his eyes, but only

squinted. "Quick! Back into the cave."

    Kendra stood holding Esther.

    He pushed Kendra forward. Then he grabbed Lora by the hand

and followed. Steve stayed behind, fascinated by the shrinking

fireball.

    "Stay in here," yelled Pete. "That was a nuclear explosion."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    521

    Steve stared at the expanding compression ring of moisture.

This is better than any sci-fi film. He turned on his video

camera and aimed.

    The heat and radiation from the exploding warhead weakened

as the remaining clouds above the city provided absorbing

protection. Exploding eight miles high, the thirty-kiloton blast

produced no radioactive fallout, but a tremendous concussion wave

rammed its way toward the ground.

    "Oh my God!" exclaimed Kendra. "We're dead."

    Though nearly blinded, Pete moved everyone farther away from

the front of the building and into another room. He called one

last time for Steve.

    A white ring of compressed moisture swept across the ground

as Steve recorded its approach. Fragmented trees, buildings and

loose debris, flew through the air at two-hundred miles an hour.

    Steve turned to run. A gigantic hand slapped him from

behind. The destructive pressures of two hundred pounds per

square inch arrived.

    Steve flew through the air, smashing against the rain soaked

dirt around the cave's concrete opening. Flying debris speared

the soil. Dazed, Steve slid to the ground.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    522




    Chapter 43

    Vorshkov sat in the empty war-room staring into nothing. In

the background a radio broadcast from Tel-Aviv floated in and out

of his hearing. The drunken face of President Shaposnikov filled

the Tele-conference screen. The General sat up and tried to pay

attention, but it was impossible. The voice from the radio was

more important.

    "They're calling it the three-and-a-half day war," the

commentator reported.

    Vorshkov tried to concentrate on his President but found

himself tuning off the angry voice. Instead he heard something

from Israel that interested him.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    523

    "...Israel has dealt the invaders a massive defeat," the

commentator reported.

    Vorshkov spit in disgust, and felt an empty sliver of

satisfaction as the news commentator revealed Israel's near

destruction.

    "I had your nation by the throat," Vorshkov sneered with

weak delight. For a hollow moment, he relived the disasters his

forces inflicted on the Israeli military.

       "...lifeless humanity..."

    Vorshkov listened as the reporter described his invincible

army lying strewn across the landscape.

    "...decaying like discarded refuse... What we have found,"

the commentator announced.

    Vorshkov stared at the face of his President. "...maybe a

natural form of poison gas from the volcanic eruptions. We will

know in time."

    Vorshkov forced himself to turn from the broadcast and stare

at Shaposnikov. The President looks so dishelved, Vorshkov mused.

I hope Dimitri, leader of the gang of ten, commits suicide. None

are worthy to be a commander of a great nation. Vorshkov's

attention wandered again until he heard his name being called.

     "Are you listening General?" Shaposnikov growled. His

blood-shot eyes tunneled into Vorshkov‘s.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   524

    Vorshkov studied the face of his nation's drunken leader.

Ten tired old men sat behind the President. He even saw Dimitri.

The bear look terrible. Vorshkov managed a weak smile at the

sight, the true power within Russia.

    "Comrade Nicoli," Shaposnikov continued. His voice was void

of feeling.

    Vorshkov knew ruthlessness existed for what need to be done.

    "We needed a victory," Shaposnikov said. "You delivered a

disaster. To die on the battle field for one's country is an

honor. To come home in disgrace is unforgivable. The shame that

all Russia feels will affect their family's for generations -

most of all yours. Now I have given orders to the Iranian's.

Their missile field in western Iran may yet save the day."

    Vorshkov winced at the veiled threat to his family. He

didn't care anymore what the Iranians would do. He suspected that

Israeli jets were already on their way to Iran. Instead his

family became the most important people in his life. He knew to

take any threat from the ruling committee seriously. That old

fox, Vorshkov thought. He knows how to guarantee I'll follow

orders.

    "...Our government will never recover from this error. You

know what must be done."

    "Yes. I understand Comrade President." Vorshkov replied as

calmly as he could. He heard the ten men dispassionately express
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    525

their approval.

    The President spoke again. "Your family will want for

nothing," he said. Shaposnikov paused. His manner softened.

"Nicoli," the President's eyes filled with genuine sorrow.

    Vorshkov stared into Dimitri's still cold eyes. He can

switch his tone to suit his needs.

    "Your plan was brilliant. We gambled and lost. Now we must

protect our nation — our reputation. We have reported you as a

rogue general. You know what must be done. Good-bye my friend."

    Vorshkov watched the screen go blank and wondered if he

could escape. Maybe I can rebuild my life in a quieter section of

the world.

    That hope vanished when the doors of the war-room opened.

    He watched as General Azov and three armed security officers

entered the room. Their machine guns pointed in his direction.

    "Here to guarantee my acceptance of the plan, Azov?" Escape

was no impossible. General Azov shrugged acceptance.

    Vorshkov knew what they expected. He pulled the 9mm pistol

from his holster as the enforcers from security aimed their

automatic weapons. Vorshkov waived them off. "I threaten nobody,"

he said. They lowered their guns, slightly. "I've been a soldier

all my life," Vorshkov whispered. He straightened his tunic. "I

shall die a soldier."

    He turned the pistol toward his eyes and spied a dark piece
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   526

of lint in the barrel. "I must keep my weapon cleaner," he

whispered. A quiet fatalistic peace took over and his eyes

settled on the Sudanese staff hanging on the wall. He had taken

it from the chief he killed. His left hand moved up to reach for

it and then fell back to the desk. "It doesn't matter," he

muttered as dropped the staff. His trigger finger tightened.

                              *    *    *

    In the Israeli war room General Izen ordered the firing of

Thor. Seven missiles had been detected rising from the Rujmayn

field east of Damascus. All the missiles had been hit. Five

immediately exploded at an altitude of 50 kilometers. The

remaining two went off course and appeared to be coming down in

the vicinity of Damascus. For a moment he thought about warning

the Syrians of the impending doom, but he knew it was too late.

In six minutes it would be over.

                              *    *    *

    George McDowell smiled as he remembered his ex-career as the

senior Russian intelligence chief for Iran. "Colonel Statski is

no more." He chuckled and sung "Old Mac Donald had a farm..."

Driving his near-new pickup with his windows down, he saw the

turnoff to his farm. He smiled at the blue sky and wind wiping

his face. "God it feels good to be free."

    He turned the car off the paved road leading south from

Calgary. After bouncing over the gravel road for a minute he
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    527

slowed and wondered if the heater-block wire, dangling over the

front bumper, needed tying up. He would check it later when he

reached the farm. That wire will be a necessity when I visit the

mall in the dead of winter.

    He slid out the cup holders from the dash and thought about

the coin operated electric power meters filling the parking lots.

His fingers patted the coin holder. I better fill them up with

quarters. Don't want the car to freeze up while shopping.

    Statski laughed at having so many new things. He glanced in

the rear view mirror and smiled. A dusty rooster-tail of red dust

rose and billowed into the sky. No one can drive down my road

without me seeing them.

    Colonel Statski spent the morning visiting his Canadian

neighbors. "No. I won't be going away, anytime, for any reason,"

he told them. "I'm here to stay."

    George gave the sons of his neighbors each a shinny gold

Maple leaf coin. They protested, but he insisted. The boy's

accepted their prize for looking after Statski's farm while he

was away. After a morning cup of coffee, they all went to church.

After the last war, he finally knew who is God. Now, as his

wheels bumped across the farms rusty cattle guards marking the

entrance to his home, he tooted his horn. In the distance a man

stood up. Behind him, a young girl waved.
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    528

    Gamnel held high the potato he dug up and prayed to Allah

that his father could see him. After watching Statski's car stop

next to the farmhouse and the old Colonel get out, he relaxed.

Retirement as George McDowell, Canadian farmer, wears well on

him. Truly, we have found freedom and a home.

    "Someday soon," he prayed, "I too will feel safe and stop

carrying this cursed rifle over my back." He shifted the canvass

bag holding the Ak-47. "Yes. Someday I shall feel safe." Gamnel

said. He brushed the dirt from the potato. "Allah, allow my

father to see me now. I am what he always wanted. I am a farmer.

Today, I chose not to practice death anymore. Today, I live to

give life and peace. I now live forever to make things grow."

                              *    *    *

    Israeli soldiers and members of the Mossad rushed into the

room. The Prophet stared at Kendra and glared. In a minute, the

two arks vanished with the soldiers. The army and the Prophet

followed.

    Pete wiped his eyes. They were alone. His eyesight was

improving. "It must be safe to go out," he said. He tried

squinting to clear his vision. It helped a little. He reached for

Kendra's hand and felt immensely tired. "Help me outside. I‘m

having trouble seeing."

    Kendra looked at the sky. "I know I'm free. The Man-in-

Black," she said. "He's gone. I don't have that fear anymore."
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    529

    Pete nodded his head. "I hope so."

    Kendra saw Lora sitting by Steve. They were staring at the

destroyed buildings. The city lay in ruins.

    "What a smack," Steve said. He rotated his neck and twisted

his back. "Every muscle hurts."

    "Are you hurt?" Pete asked as he stumbled toward Steve. Pete

sat down beside his friend. His body hurt too. He was tired and

desperately in need of a deep soaking hot-water bath. Depressed

by all the fighting and killing, he most hated being caught up in

somebody else's war. He felt himself sinking deeper into despair.

    Kendra sat down besides him. "A penny for your thoughts,"

she said. "You look like you're worrying about something."

    "I'm just tired," Pete answered.

    "At least we aren't bored," she added.

    Pete looked over at this beauty sitting next to him. A smile

appeared as he replied. "No. We aren't bored. There was a lot

going on." He leaned his shoulder over to nudge Kendra's. The

feeling of depressing vanished in a moments time. Thinking about

all that had taken place beginning with the discovery of the Ark.

"We did all right," he said with a smile. "We did all right."

    "We're lucky to be alive," Steve said. He pushed himself

away from his resting-place and stood on wobbly legs. "I don't
  ISAELI HEAT                                                    530

ever want to do this again."

    Lora clung to Steve and gave him a hug. She kissed his muddy

cheek. "Marry me?" she asked.

    Steve looked into her eyes. Without hesitating he answered,

"Yes."

    Pete smiled through closed eyes, and then gave Kendra a hug.

He looked up and tried to see through his watery vision. For the

flicker of a second he made out the drifting moisture cloud from

the high altitude nuclear airburst. A wave of burning needle like

pain filled his eyes and forced his head down and eyes closed.

    The pain subsided and he remembered Kendra‘s comment on

being free.

    "I think your right." He turned toward her with tears

streaming down his face. "Maybe that guy who haunts you is

finished." Another wave of sand-like pain sent its notice of

damage to his eyes. Pete winced, closed his eyes shut and faced

toward the sun. The sun's warmth felt good. A poem from William

Blake appeared in his mind. As he went through the script he

recognized the lines and changed a few lyrics.

    "To Kendra and Esther," he began. "Love seeketh not itself

to please,

         nor for themselves hath any care,
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   531

    But for this wounded worrier they offered me ease,

         And build a heaven in hell's dispair.

    So sung this little clod of clay,

         Trodden under by men's feet,

    But a peable of the brook,

          Warbled out these meters meet.

    Love seeketh not self to please,

          It binds another to its delight,

    And refuses joy in another's loss of ease,

          But builds heaven in hell's despite."

    He wanted to kiss them. He needed to kiss her. He wanted to

kiss everyone. Life wasn't all that bad.

    Steve rubbed his shoulder and dug his video camera out of

the mud. Hobbling back to Lora he held his camera high for all to

see. "I think this thing is finished."

    Kendra sat a dirty face Esther next to Pete who hugged the

girl.

    Esther wrapped an arm around Pete's neck and pulled back her

head to speak. "What is the password?" she whispered.

    Pete wrinkled his forehead. Through tear filled eyes he

studied Esther‘s face while clearing his throat. "What password?"
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   532

    "The red sun in the sky lingers," she said.

    "Did you hear this?" Pete bit the bottom of his lip to

control his delight.

    Kendra's eyes widened as she studied her godchild. "The red

sun in the sky lingers," she repeated.

    "Yes. That's my password poem," Esther said, glancing up at

the sky. "It's my password for tomorrow. I believe it will be

better than today."

    "You're something," Kendra said. "I think Pete's poem

reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote that there

are just two things important in life. One is to worship God. The

second is to enjoy life while you have it." She kissed Esther and

then Pete. "And yours, my little one." She gave Esther another

kiss. "You are my unexpected delights."

    Pete‘s left eye saw a little clearer, and for a second he

saw Linda and Marlene standing before him. He wiped the tears

away and squinted. Kendra stood before him. He looked up into the

sky and whispered, "Another chance."

    The sun warmth continued to bring him pleasure. One arm went

around Kendra‘s waist. The other squeezed Esther. "You‘re another

poet," he said to Esther.

    He paused for a moment as peace filled his heart. "My

girls," he said as he hugged them both tightly. "It's great to be
  ISAELI HEAT                                                   533

alive." Feeling good about himself, his eyes smiled as he tried

to see the clearing sky. A fast moving twinkling white light

appeared in the warming sky. It quickly vanished over the

northern hills.

    High above the earth the large fragment from the comet that

hit the earth made another elliptical orbit around the earth.

Captured by earth's gravity, the fractured mountain of snow, ice

and rock slowly inched closer to an appointed time.

				
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