Return of Sky Ghost

Return of Sky Ghost by Mack Maloney Read Free Book Online

Book: Return of Sky Ghost by Mack Maloney Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mack Maloney
built aircraft, a huge ten-engine SuperKate transport which had been designed to look like an airborne palace. Wakisaki had taken an aerial tour of the new South America the previous day and what he saw would have made Buddha cry. Where once stood thick rain forests, now cities were being built. Oil rigs by the thousands—from the Bolivian plain to the Chilean lowlands—grew higher than the trees. Seven of the great South American rivers had been dammed extensively and now the western portion of the continent positively crackled with electricity. On thousands of acres of newly cleared land, tens of millions of cattle now grazed.
    The sight-seeing flight had brought a slight grin to Wakisaki’s face—the only hint of the delight hiding within the stone of a man. Even the most famous samurai warriors had not accomplished what he had. He was certain to go down in history as the most successful soldier ever to come out of Japan, or anywhere else.
    So the general was in a good mood when the ceremony on Callao Beach began. The millionth soldier had been carefully selected from a new division of engineering troops that had arrived off the Peruvian coast two nights before. The man bearing the magic number had to be well-groomed, well-indoctrinated, and of the correct political stature, and many hours had gone into this. A reviewing stand had been erected near the beach, a huge ornate affair located up on the highest dune, with the new city of Lima as a background. Every Japanese officer of any import was on hand for this ceremony, nearly 300 in all.
    An honor guard of no less than 10,000 troops had also been mustered. Six thousand of them were Japanese; the remaining troops were made up of native regional allies, Argentines, Chileans, Bolivians, and of course Peruvians.
    It was a bright sunny morning. The waters off Callao were sparkling like coal. The temperatures had already started to climb. At precisely 0900 hours, the ceremony began. The special boat carrying the special soldier crept toward shore. General Wakisaki grinned slightly as he got caught up in the moment. Never had a deployment of troops gone off as successfully as this, he thought for the millionth time. The boat arrived. The special soldier stepped off. Trumpets blared. Dozens of twenty-one-gun salutes were fired. A cheer went up from all those assembled.
    No wonder then that no one heard the dull roar of aircraft coming from the north.
    The first plane to come out of the sky was an enormous B-17/52.
    It was bright silver, with long, swept-back wings bearing eight engines per side. Its thick body carried no less than four separate bomb bays. As many as forty triple-.50 machine guns poked out of gun stations up and down the aircraft’s fuselage. The roar from its engines was simply deafening.
    It came in low and slow, and flames could be seen shooting from its engines as it passed over the Tower of the New Sun, the combined temple, government center, and military officers’ club located in the middle of the city. The airplane was so low and moving so slowly it looked like a gigantic prehistoric bird; this is why the native Peruvians, who had seen this thing before, called it ala del muerte, roughly translated, “The Death Wing.”
    The plane roared over the Temple of the Sun and opened all four of its bomb bays. In seconds, long streams of black sticks began falling from the great plane’s belly. The black sticks were incendiary bombs—explosives designed to start fires. Much of the new Lima was built of flammable materials: wood, hemp, plastic, rubber. Even some of the properties inside the pearl-white cement were flammable.
    The huge plane began dropping 40,000 pounds of firebombs along a one-mile strip in the center of the city. In seconds the main avenue was awash in a horrible yellow glow. Fire was suddenly everywhere. Stores, cars, trees, people burst into flame. The mechanical screams overhead were as terrifying as the human ones below. The plane

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