Net Force 5: Point Of Impact By: Steve Perry and Tom Clancy
In the year 2010, computers are the world’s superpowers. Those who control them control the world.
To enforce the Net Laws, Congress creates the ultimate computer security agency within the FBI: the Net Force. It’s up to the Net Force to find the source of a dangerous designer drug being sold on the Internet.
PROLOGUE Saturday, October 1, 2011 Atlantic City, New Jersey
“We should go outside and enjoy the sunny weather,” Mary Lou said.
“Right. We’z drove alia way from da Bronx to Atlantic City to take the goddamned sun? I can sit onna stoop at home, I want to get hot. No thankyuz, I’m happy right here.” Bert fed another dollar into the slot machine and pushed the button. He didn’t like the new electronic machines as much as the old mechanical ones, like those in the back rooms of the New Jersey bars where his father used to sneak off with him when he was a kid. Those had been fun, with the big arm you pulled down and the real wheels going round and round. Cost a quarter, was all. He didn’t quite trust the new ones to pay off–it’d be too easy for some computer geek to rig ’em so they’d keep every damned dime you put in–but it was what it was. Hell, he was up seventy-five bucks, he should complain?
Around him, the machines flashed colored lights, hummed and whirred and played crappy music, and now and then dropped tokens into a metal tray.
Mary Lou said, “There’s something you don’t see every day.” The slot’s computer screen whirled to stop on a cherry, a bar, and a picture of some dead rock star.
Crap. Only seventy-four dollars ahead now.
Irritated, Bert said, “What?” “Over there. Lookit.” He glanced in the direction Mary Lou was pointing. He saw right away what she meant. There was a fat, whitehaired old guy, maybe sixty-five, walking into the casino.
Way he moved, he was like a man with a mission, nothing real unusual there, except the dude was in a tiny red Speedo and nothing else.
“God, I’m trying to win money here, you wanna make me puke? There ought to be a law against a suit like that if you’re thirty pounds overweight.” “Prony there is. I’m pretty sure the casino rules say no swimsuits without a robe and some kind of sandals or shoes. There you go, see, the security guard is gonna toss him out.” A big uniformed guard, six five, two sixty, easy, angled toward the fat guy in the red Speedo. This might be worth watching. You didn’t get to see a guy in a bikini bottom get bounced up by a casino guard real often. In fact, Bert had never seen it before.
Speedo smiled at the giant guard, grabbed him by the arms just under his shoulders, picked him up, and threw him like the guy was a toy. The guard smashed into a slot machine with a loud, rattling crash.
“Holy shit!” Bert said.
He wasn’t the only one to notice Speedo at this point.
Two more guards came running, pulling out those expandable steel batons they carried as they ran.
Speedo didn’t seem concerned. He took a couple of steps to the nearest slot. It was bolted to the floor, so Bert didn’t know what the guy thought he was gonna do with it.
Still smiling. Speed wrenched the slot from the floor with a sound like a nail being pulled from wet wood, and threw that, too. Made a helluva noise.
Bert stared, frozen. This wasn’t possible. He hit the gym two or three times a week, kept in shape for a man pushing forty, could bench two fifty for reps, and there was no way this flabby old Q-Tip-haired dude had the muscle to do what he’d just done, no way! Nobody was that strong.
The second security guard to get there let fly with his expandable night stick, took a good crack at Speedo’s white head. Speedo reached up, almost in slow motion, grabbed the baton as it came down, jerked it from the guard’s grip, and threw it. The thing whistled as it whirled away, so fast Bert couldn’t even track it. Speedo shoved the guard one-handed, and the guy just flew into two bystanders and knocked all three of them down.
Mary Lou stared at Speedo, frozen like a deer in headlights.
Bert understood that. It was like he was hypnotized himself. He couldn’t look away.
The third guard, seeing what had happened to the other two, dropped his baton and went for his pistol.
Bert thought this was a real good idea.
Speedo took a couple of quick steps–really quick steps–and caught the guard’s wrist before he cleared leather.
Thirty feet away, Bert heard the sound of the man’s arm bones breaking.
The guard fell to his knees, screaming in pain, and Speedo stepped around him like he was doggy doo on the sidewalk.
Then things really got going. Speedo waded through the casino like Sherman through Georgia, breaking stuff, throwing it, tearing the place up. He knocked over slots, he upended card tables, he flipped a roulette wheel table completely over. People scrambled to get out of his way.
He was a human wrecking ball, he was smiling while he did it, and Bert couldn’t begin to understand how he was doing it. He just stood there and watched.
It seemed like a long time, but it couldn’t have been more than a minute or two before the local cops showed up. Six of them in full battle array.
The first couple of cops to reach Speedo tried to whack him with their batons and collar him. You’d think, after seeing what the guy had done, they’d have better sense, but they didn’t, and Speedo grabbed one and used him like a club on the second.
The other four cops were smarter. One of them fast drew his pepper spray, another pulled an air taser, and both let loose.
Speedo ran at the cops. Through the pepper fog, and from where he stood, Bert saw the two electric taser needles in the old man’s chest, and if either the fog or the juice bothered him, you couldn’t tell. Either one should have stopped him, had him gagging or jittering like a spider on a hot stove, but he never slowed. Speedo slammed into the next two cops, knocking them sprawling. He went down himself, but he was up in a heartbeat. He looked pissed off now, and he scooped one of the cops from the floor–a big black dude who probably went two hundred pounds–and shot-putted the cop at a thick plate glass partition that separated a cafeteria hall from the casino floor.
The partition had to be six, eight feet away, easy.
The partition shattered, shards of glass flew everywhere, and the cop who went through it would be lucky if he wasn’t slashed to hamburger.
“Everybody down!” one of the two remaining cops on his feet screamed.
“Down, down, down!” People hit the floor, but Speedo wasn’t one of them, and Bert stayed up watching, too.
The two cops had their pistols out by now–big ole Glocks–pointed at the old man.
Speedo looked at them and smiled, a kind of sad smile.
Like he felt sorry for them. He started walking toward the cops.
“Stop, asshole!” He didn’t.
Both cops fired, couple, three times each.
Speedo kept coming, and they kept shooting.
Bert saw the hits on the old man, saw dark puckers appear in his arms and chest, wounds that oozed blood, but he kept going.
People screamed bloody murder, but the cops kept blasting away. In some corner of his mind, Bert tried to keep count of the shots, but there were too many of them.
How many rounds did those guns hold? Fifteen?
They were going to town.
It was like some monster movie. The old guy in the red bathing suit just kept shambling toward the cops.
He was hit at least six or eight times, but he wouldn’t stop.
“Fuck!” one of the cops yelled. He turned and ran.
The other cop clicked empty, then, when Speedo was almost on top of him, he threw the Glock at the old man.
Yeah, right. Guy takes a whole shitload of bullets and a plastic pistol is not gonna bounce off him like a cotton ball? Bert stared at the cop. Whaddayuz, stupid?
The old man grabbed the cop, managed to get him five or six inches off the floor–comthen the old man finally ran out of gas. He dropped the cop and fell, landing on the floor facedown.
It got real quiet in the casino then.
“Holy shit,” Bert said softly.
“Amen, sweet Jesus,” Mary Lou said.
Sunday, October 2 Washington, D.c.
Alex Michaels grunted as the socket slipped off the hex nut and his hand shot forward, scraping his knuckles on the rocker-arm cover.