December 13, 2015

Death Merchant #59: The Burma Probe

Brink of Disaster

Deep in the heart of Burma's thickest jungle lies the deadliest military secret of modern history. After generations of strategic planning, the Red Chinese have grasped the vital key to world power. In a desperate, zero-hour maneuver the Death Merchant is given the go-ahead. Infiltrate. Destroy!

Never before has Richard Camellion encountered such brilliant defense. No loopholes, no missing links. The Death Merchant is slam up against terror on a scale far beyond the imagination of the average citizen, locked into a global game he knows will have only one winner...


The Red Chinese are planning to launch 352 missiles filled with chemical weapons from the jungles of western Burma into Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, killing millions and showing that the communist nation is a world force to be reckoned with.

As the Chinese prepare their attack, US satellites have detected activity in the Burmese jungles. A huge area has been cleared and buildings and an airstrip have been constructed. The CIA and Britian's SIS agree that a group of mercenaries should trek into the dangerous jungle and find out exactly what is going on. (For some reason, although the US satellite cameras are so powerful they can read car license plates from space, the US is not entirely sure of the location of the Chinese installation.) That means it's a job for Richard "Death Merchant" Camellion and "Mad Mike" Quinlan and Quinlan's Thunderbolt Unit: Omega team of mercs.

Camellion, Quinlan, and Krishan Darhangak head to Rangoon, posing as British film representatives, supposedly scouting locations for a film of the Japanese occupation during WWII. They are in Rangoon to meet up with Alfred Knowles, an agent who will take them to the local man who will lead them into the jungle. (Unbeknownst to them, however, Knowles has already been kidnapped.) While out walking one evening, the three men realize they are being followed by members of Chinese intelligence. Although they are unarmed, the three quickly turn and surprise the agents, killing six of the nine assailants. The local authorities are naturally suspicious, but eventually let the three men go, agreeing that they acted in self-defense.

The three men head to Mandalay to meet up with Chit Soe Kha, an Indian intelligence agent who will be their jungle guide. On the train, Camellion recalls his briefing for the mission, and we get a two-page flashback in which Camellion argues with a CIA man about the supposed accuracy of self-proclaimed psychic Jeane Dixon.* In Mandalay, they meet Kha - the Death Merchant and Quinlan have darkened their skin to better fit in - and are transported to the lower hills of the Angew Taungdan mountain range by hiding in the false bottom of two trash carts drawn by mules, a journey that was "the most miserable that Camellion had ever been forced to endure".

* Camellion offers his own predictions: "It's not difficult to predict certain events if one has a sense of history, uses logic and keeps informed on world events. ... I can predict that Mexico, about 1986 or 1987, will experience the same kind of turmoil that is going on in Iran, or that the United States is going to collapse financially, or fall entirely. But my predictions are based on real events, on facts and trends, as proven by history." Later, we read: "Camellion knew that by the year 2000, there would be only radioactive rubble where New York had once proudly stood. In fact, every major city in the United States would be destroyed by the year 2000. The old cycle would be ended, and the new cycle begun ..."

Camellion and three others must first hike to the camp of the People's Freedom Army, led by Po Dat Wol. While en route, they anticipate an ambush near a canyon pass, and Camellion and Quinlan sneak up ahead and get the drop of a couple of small groups of Chinese soldiers, killing them all. Heading back to Darhangak and Kha, they discover that they are now with Camellion's old friend Lester Vernon Cole and five others from the PFA camp.

Cole, who last worked with the Death Merchant in #47 (Operation Skyhook), is an ardent admirer of Hitler and is not shy about expressing his unabashedly racist views. Interestingly, we get the same right-wing nonsense even in the chapters that are written from the enemy Chinese's point of view, that the "stupid" United States government is turning the "land of the free" into a third world nation by "permitting all sorts of trash to enter their country", namely Mexicans and Latin Americans. Cole cites the supposedly higher-birth rates of these minorities, which he says will threaten "the continued existence of the white race". (Along the way, we also get rants against the postal service, homosexuals, the peace movement, the integration of the public school system, and Amtrak.)

While Camellion and Quinlan are at the PFA camp, the 253 members of Thunderbird Unit: Omega are relaxing in Calcutta, waiting for the call to action from Mad Mike. The Death Merchant is trying to arrange helicopters to take himself and Quinlan to the spot where they will meet the other mercs and start their jungle mission. (So why they travelled for days to the PFA camp is not really clear.) There is a traitor in the camp and he has used a transmitter to broadcast the camp's location, which prompts a furious aerial and ground attack from the Chinese.

After much mayhem, the members of the camp and the Death Merchant and his men begin an eight-day trek out to a series of caverns where they will be safe. From there, Camellion and Quinlan are picked up by two helicopters and flown to meet up with the 250 Omega mercs. It turns out that there will be no hike through the jungle. (There is only about 30 pages remaining in the book at this point.) After the other copters riddle the base with air-to-ground missiles, destroying most of the buildings, the men land right on the airstrip. The 500 or so Chinese troops are in hiding - and the Death Merchant and the 250 mercs stand around in the rain planning their strategy. The final fight is similar to the end of every Death Merchant book. Both sides let loose with their automatic weapons until they run out of ammo - at the same time! - and because they are in too-close proximity to reload, they end up fighting hand-to-hand.
You two pieces of trash should get a break today, but you won't from me! Camellion stepped lightly to his left, twisted so that the right side of his body was facing Yi'fing and ducked the stabbing muzzle of the T-50 SMG. One eye on Shuti Ju'chan, Camellion calculated his rush, then punched Yi'fing's final ticket with an expertly delivered right-legged groin kick, his foot coming up between the man's legs. Only a grenade or a bullet to one of his vital organs could have done more damage to the man. Camellion's kick had been very accurate and his foot had crushed Yi'fing's testes, broken his pubic bone and flattened his bladder to the extent that urine should have jumped from Yi'fing's mouth, nose and ears. Yi'fing couldn't even scream. The horrible agony, inducing shock in the central nervous system, was more than any human being could stand. A look of stamped, frozen horror on his wedge-shaped face, and with gurgling sounds thrashing about in his throat, Hai K'an Yi'fing dropped the T-50 SMG. His knees buckled and he wilted to the ground at the same time that Camellion turned to his left, sidestepped quickly to his right and reached out with his left hand. He had timed Shuti Ju'chan's rush correctly, to the split second. The bayonet cut the air only several inches from the Auto Mag holstered on the left side. By then it was far too late for Shuti Ju'chan. The most any enemy, face to face with Death Merchant, could hope for was one chance. Ju'chan had blown his. By the time he realized his mistake, Camellion's left hand was wrapped around the barrel of the T-56-1 assault rifle, right behind the raised wrapped-around-the-barrel sight, and his right hand was streaking toward Ju'chan's throat. In an instant it was over, and the ridgehand slam had crushed Ju'chan's trachael cartilage and CameIlion was jerking the T-50 SMG from the dying man's limp hands. His eyes almost popping out of their sockets, gurgles and burbles percolating in his throat, Shuti Ju'chan fell sideways and almost collided with Mike Quinlan who had just killed two Chinese, stabbing one in the solar plexus with an all black Tekna survival knife and cracking the skull of the second enemy with the side of a Safari Arms "Black Widow" .45 semiautomatic. The man with the cracked skull fell in front of a furiously fighting Jose Jesus Santino who was ducking a bayonet thrust by a bare-headed Che'il Kkuno who was wasting a lot of time and energy screaming, "White debil die! White debil die!"
Rosenberger, who claimed to once have been a karate instructor, gives us a long list of martial arts moves employed by the Death Merchant and his men: a three-finger Hapti Tun stab, a right Herabasemi inside ridge hand, a left Shuto knife hand, a high Mae Geri Keage front snap-kick, a right-legged Yoko Geri Kekomi side thrust kick, a Ura Uchi Ken back knuckle strike, a Hira Ken angular knuckle strike, and a right-legged Yoko Geri bill-of-the-foot kick.

Before the final fight, we learned exactly what firearms each man is carrying:
All five Thunderbolts were dressed in hot weather olive-drab jungle fatigues, U.S. Special Forces mountain boots and black berets. On the front of each beret was a silver death's head. There were no crossed bones at the bottom of the death's head. Instead, there were two crossed thunderbolts. All the mercs wore Ace type combat harnesses, complete with ammo pouches for pistol and SMG magazines. Yet each man carried different types of weapons.

Alexander Pratt carried an Israeli Galil assault rifle. On his hips were two 9mm Sig-Sauer P220 auto-pistols in black nylon holsters. Strapped to his narrow chest was a short machete; on his left leg was strapped a steel tomahawk.

Rene DuBois, the Frenchman, was armed with an FN-FAL A-R, two Star M-28 auto-pistols and a USAF survival knife. In addition, he carried five Marauder throwing-combat knives. Double-edged, the Marauder had a guard that terminated in two sharp points. Three more points were at the end of the handle, two perpendicular, one horizontal.

Other than his shotgun and Valmet assault rifle, Santino—quick, keen-eyed—had two Llama .44 magnum revolvers in tan leather shoulder holsters. At his waist, a large SHIVA knife was holstered on the right side. A holstered Colt .45 auto-pistol was on the left side.

The Peppermint Kid sat holding a Steyr AUG 5.56mm A-R upright between his legs. Two H/K P7 pistols were strapped around his slim waist. A Buck custom commando dagger and a SEALTAC-I knife were in sheaths fastened to a wide strap across his chest. What fascinated Darhangak the most was the huge canvas holster hanging from a heavy cord around O'Malley's neck. In the holster was a 9mm semiautomatic Linda pistol with a long magazine that contained forty-three rounds.

Finally there was the huge Bruckner who, to Darhangak, looked like a giant box with arms and legs—and a bullet head. Bruckner was holding a Heckler & Koch MP 5K submachine gun in his lap. In two shoulder holsters were P-38 Walther autoloaders; a curved jambiya Arab dagger, in a metal sheath, was stuck in his belt. To his right front thigh was buckled an M16 bayonet.
At the very end of the fight, Camellion learns about the Chinese high officials and officers hiding in the underground cavern, and he and his men rig the air shaft and entrance with RDX. The mammoth explosions trap the men inside, burying them alive. While the other mercs debate the pros and cons of being a mercenary in the 1980s, Camellion is already thinking of his next mission ... in Germany!


"The Death Merchant had not been impressed with the visit to the Shwe Dagon, mainly because of his realization that all things existed only for a moment and that the only real constant was change, with the real Universe occurring as a series of instantaneous occurrence on a moment-to-moment basis."

"Mad Mike twisted his body slightly to the left and his left leg came up as his left arm streaked outward, the tip of his Chukka boot catching Lung Ting-yi where the sun never shines and the moon never casts a shadow, the short but deadly snap-kick crushing Ting-yi's testicles with the force of a sledge hammer slamming down on a slice of lemon."

FN: "Hindus are very prejudiced against nursing ..."

FN: "This writer has always warned that the West has more to fear from the Chinese than from the Russians."

"Frig a frozen frog!" ... "Shit on a shiny shingle!" ... "Beaver balls!"

Camellion's Law Number Three: "Aim for perfection. Half right is always half wrong." [To my memory, Rosenberger has never revealed Laws One or Two.]

"Red Chinese strategists had planned well, reasoning with typical Oriental logic that while the only two nations capable of stopping them were the United States and the Soviet Union, neither the U.S. nor the USSR would interfere."

FN re opening, reading, and resealing someone's mail: "Burmese intelligence is behind the times. American intelligence, the F.B.I. and Postal Inspectors use a chemical, a 'letter bomb visualizer,' that turns most papers transparent for thirty to sixty seconds. They don't have to open the letters. The chemical costs about $40.00 per bottle, but liquid Freon, purchased from photographic suppliers, will do the same job. Yes, there is a way to circumvent 'letter bomb visualizer.' I'm not going to explain how, however."

December 5, 2015

Death Merchant #58: The Silicon Valley Connection

Computer-Age Counterplot

GA-1—Yankee ingenuity has triumphed again, creating a revolutionary supercomputer and missile guidance system. But in the hands of the Russians, the computer could spell Armageddon for the free world.

A specially trained group of KGB agents has managed to pull off a daring midday kidnapping of the inventor of the GA-1, Dr. Burl Martin, from near his laboratory in California's famed "Silicon Valley". Aided by a slick and ruthless motorcycle gang, Satan's Gentlemen, who "make the Hell's Angels look like Boy Scouts," the KGB plans to bring Martin to a Soviet submarine waiting off the Pacific coast. The CIA is short on time, and even shorter on clues.

Only Richard Camellion stands to bring the scientist back alive. But even the Death Merchant will have to use more than just his great cunning and awesome firepower to win at this deadly game of cat and mouse.


It was noted at the end of the previous Death Merchant book that Richard Camellion hated the state of California "for a variety of reasons". So I read The Silicon Valley Connection hoping for some Rosenbergerian rants about hippies, Hispanics, and homosexuals. I was disappointed. While Rosenberger's opening sentence is promising - "In Richard Camellion's opinion the only difference between Hell and Los Angeles was that one met a better class of people in Hell—and Hell was a lot safer." - he doesn't go very far with criticizing California. He describes LA as a "murderous mess" and refers to San Francisco as a "provincial" city that "cannot claim any kind of leadership in anything", except perhaps high numbers of gay men and women, but that's about it.

KGB agents have infiltrated many of the electronic firms in Silicon Valley, hoping to learn the secrets of "American military technology" and, in particular, the GA-1 microprocessor. The book opens with Dr. Norman Revlon meeting some Russians on a yacht in a Los Angeles port, where he will turn over the GA-1 plans for a cool million dollars. The FBI has learned about Revlon thanks to some recording devices secreted in the House of Pandemonium, a sleazy San Francisco nightclub run by "Dandy" Phil Butler, the head of a biker gang known as Satan's Gentlemen. But the FBI agents that infiltrated the group "vanished" and so the CIA was notified and they called in the Death Merchant ("and his efficient but usually illegal methods").

Camellion tails Revlon and sneaks on board the yacht, but is captured. However, he manages to get free of his captors, killing them all (and Revlon) in the process. Four cops, responding to reports of gunshots, are about to take Camellion into custody as he comes off the boat when the Death Merchant's accomplice (who had been waiting in a van) guns them down; a few minutes later, Camellion wipes out four more cops who arrive on the scene. Afterwards, Camellion's plan is to "black bag" Dandy Phil - Satan's Gentlemen are working with the KGB - and see what the CIA can learn. (During the meandering discussion, we get off-topic negative comments about the ACLU, Mexican immigrants, and the Freedom of Information Act. Because Rosenberger.)

At the same time, in the wake of the yacht catastrophe, the KGB decides to not lay low, but to move quickly and kidnap Dr. Burl Olin Martin, the inventor of the GA-1. The Russians offer Butler $300,000 to have his gang kidnap Martin, but Butler wants one million.

Camellion and his "Blood Bone Unit" go to the House of Pandemonium in San Francisco. While two agents pose as customers, the Death Merchant and two other men walk right into the club with fake FBI identification and go upstairs to Butler's office. The biker asks to see the warrant and holds it up to the light. He's looking for the Department of Justice watermark - but there isn't one! He yells that the men are imposters! Camellion and his two partners pull their weapons and fire, before retreating back down the hallway. They make it outside to the waiting van, but are pointed out to the cops by a nightclub employee (a "brill-o-head" that works in the kitchen). They elude the cops because Camellion unloads (from a secret tank in the van) a bunch of Superslick, a chemical compound that the cops' cars' wheels slip on while negotiating a corner, leading to a crash.

The focus then shifts to a "safe house" in a funeral home where the DM and some others discuss a file on Willis Colturvane, owner of the Big Green Mountain Outdoor Supply Company. Camelllion saw a file related to Colturvane in the nightclub office and figures that since he's got ties to the biker gang, he's probably knows something about the KGB and the microprocessor. Because why would that important information be comparmentalized? So after the Death Merchant works his magic in disguising himself and three others as "PLO terrorists", they go to the Majestic Mall to kidnap him. Things go somewhat awry - and Rosenberger spends way too much time describing the layout of the store and back rooms, which ends up being completely irrelevant information - but they make it out with Colturvane (whose name changes in this chapter to Coultervane).

Camellion learns that there is an abandoned winery that is in Coultervane's wife's name - and thinks that Dr. Martin may be being held there. So it's off to the winery - but Camellion and his men are too late. Martin was there, but he has been transferred. So they settle for shooting up a bunch of pig farmers and engaging in some deadly hand-to-hand combat. (They keep one guy as prisoner and pump him for info.)

Martin is being taken by a cabin cruiser to a Soviet sub waiting in international waters. It's a shot in the dark hoping to find the surfaced sub in thousands of square miles of Pacific Ocean, but they find it! A barrage of heavy artillery destroys the yacht and rips a hole in the top of the sub - preventing it from submerging. The Death Merchant and his fellow commandos rappel down onto the Russian sub and, after dropping tear gas canisters and grenades down the hole, clamor inside. They make their way through various bulkheads and a massive fire-fight breaks out.
The Strange One had used his ear syringe to squirt DMSO and novocaine on the back of Young's neck. In less time than it takes a tornado to blow away a house made of straw, the mixture of DMSO and novocaine penetrated Young's skin and entered his blood stream. Instantly, the goof felt as if he were being turned to stone. Here, there, almost everywhere feeling fled, and he suddenly got the idea that he was looking out of eyes that, along with his head, no longer existed! The numbness reached his lower leg, then his ankles and quickly spread to his feet. Unable to maintain his balance, he toppled.

So did Nelson "Black Charlie" Widside and Max Wittenbach, the latter of whom had tried to blow away Randy Kooney with a double-barrelled shotgun. Just in time, Kooney kicked up and out with his left leg, his foot knocking the barrels upward as Wittenbach pulled both triggers. The weapon boomed, the double blast blowing two holes in the ceiling. Before Wittenbach could lower the now empty weapon, Kooney's SIG P-210 autopistol cracked twice, the two nine-millimeter slugs stabbing Wittenbach in the chest. He was kicked back against Tag Varner, who had tried to take out Max Weems with a series of karate chops, stabs and blows. Weems had grinned, spit in his face and ducked every attack. Worse for Varner, Weems had counterattacked and had just put Varner on a merry-go-round of pain with a Yon Hon Nukite four-finger spear thrust to the solar plexus. In agony, Varner now had only one hope: that Dale "The Hammer" Vasquiez, rushing in at Weems from the right, could save him. Called "The Hammer" because he preferred to fight with a small hammer in his right hand—the kind with a series of screwdrivers in the hollow handle—Vasquiez couldn't save Varner and didn't. Weems didn't waste any time. Always short-winded, he turned the Coonan mag pistol toward the wild-eyed Vasquiez and pulled the trigger. The big weapon roared, the .357 bullet stabbing Vasquiez's stomach, blowing through his spine and hitting Nelson "Black Charlie" Widside in the lower left side. Wyatt Scronce, about to blow away Black Charlie with one of his S&W .357 mag revolvers, was just as surprised as Black Charlie when the latter let out a short "OH-UHHH!" twisted his face in agony and fell. Scronce marvelled when he saw the Death Merchant take out Sid "The Sorrowful" Uffel and Billy Valerius with a series of fast kicks—a leaping left side thrust kick that caught Valerius on the jaw, then a lightning quick spin to a "Dragon-Whipping-its-Tail" kick that was aimed at Uffel's groin. But the "tail" kick, falling short, only staggered Uffel. Snorting like an angry rhinoceros, Uffel rushed the Death Merchant who let the big dummy have a flying thunder kick squarely in the stomach, his foot almost giftwrapping Uffel's stomach and part of his liver around his backbone. Shock did the rest, and pain. The world went black and "The Sorrowful" started to sag.
In the end, Dr. Martin is found dead - having been drugged by the bikers, he was likely weak and killed by the concussion from the grenades. Still, for the Death Merchant, it's a victory: "The KGB didn't get to keep Doctor Martin and we put a big dent in the Soviet apparatus that concerns itself with the products turned out in Silicon Valley."

Early in the book, a couple of right-wing interjections come out of nowhere:
"Terminate the rest," Camellion said cheerfully. "Should one word of this leak to the general public, the stink would give even more encouragement to the Soviet Union than those ignorant Catholic Bishops and their 'ban the missiles' policy that wants to leave this country defenseless."
"It's a large area, even the comparatively small part we're searching," Baxter Lincolnwell said thoughtfully, "and there are numerous civilian ships down there. Radar can't tell the difference between friend and foe."

"In this case radar seems to be like American education which maintains everyone is 'equal' in learning ability," Tensor said.

"Fuck a duck!" exclaimed Wyatt Scronce. "It was those damned crosstown buses and the lowering of standards to graduate apes that wrecked American education."
Rosenberger also includes a bunch of off-topic political stuff, then says it is completely irrelevant to the plot of the book:
"The problem is to find a way of insuring national security with minimal damage to the American business community," Camellion said. "It's easier said than done. The way it's set up now, the Commerce Department reviews between 80,000 and 90,000 export applications a year. Maybe between eight to ten thousand of these applications involve national-security considerations. Out of these, the Commerce Department asks the Pentagon to look over two or three thousand. What the Pentagon wants is complete veto power over Commerce, that is, complete control over any export from the U.S. that could conceivably endanger U.S. security. So far, the Pentagon hasn't gotten to even first base. It's all politics. American businessmen would rather make a bunk and risk a thermonuclear war than do what is logical. But none of that helps us with this particular mission."
Cathy frowned. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the present administration is being extra tough with the USSR!"

"I mean those nitwits in the Carter administration," Royall said half-angrily. "It was that moron Carter who gave the USSR the world's largest electromagnet. I forget the date9. I do remember it was Carter and his 'good ole boys' who committed that bit of stupidity. And it was Carter and his 'boy scouts' that gave the Russians—all in the name of 'peace'—a giant computer that the Soviets used for military research.'"

The Death Merchant cleared his throat, at the same time thinking that the Mercury, when it exploded at the House of Pandemonium, had not injured anyone.

"This is all very interesting," he said lazily, "but it doesn't help with our present problem."

"Four things have changed the 20th Century: the automobile, Adolf Hitler, television, and the microprocessor—a 'computer on a chip.' Not that it matters. The fifth will be a shifting of the poles in 1999. The human race—what's left of it—can then start over."
(Epigraph from Richard J. Camellion, Votaw, Texas)

"Double fudge! ... Damn him to Section B of Hades!"

"Spain was dead before the sound could even reach his ears, the big flatnosed bullet striking him in the forehead just above the bridge of the nose, the terrible force splitting open his skull the way a hammer would squash an orange."

"The telephone on the starboard wall rang. Men on the bridge or in some other part of the vessel? It's certainly not the good tooth fairy—and not the kind of fairies they have in 'Frisco either!"

"Julia Maria Uzhgorod was not a beautiful woman, yet with her slim figure, she did not appear Russian."

"Yet she did have good, well-rounded breasts, and she obviously wasn't wearing a bra, unless it was made of the finest of tissue paper which permitted her nipples to struggle furiously for freedom beneath her crepe de chine blouse." (Later, Rosenberger will describe go-go dancers shaking "their milk bars at moronic customers".)

"Look, this is a worse mess than being in the middle of a Chinese tupperware party."

"He let out a loud cry of fear and anger, but he had less chance to live than a Nazi war criminal in the middle of Tel Aviv."

"Roy Gomoll, the other Satan's Gentlemen, who had a face like a concrete mixer ..."

"Ollie Wogers almost reached Tensor before he ran into the Strange One's foot, the tip catching him squarely in his jingle-jangles."

"This is enough to make me want to pee at the moon! Pterodactyl terds! We're at a dead end!"

"While the Russians are backward when compared to the West, they have the same capacity for intelligence as any other people of the human race."

"The Russians are so stupid they think Peter Pan is something to put under the bed! ... Or study for six weeks to pass a urine test! ... [S]o stupid that he believed testicles were something found only on an octopus. ... [S]earch a lumber yard for a draft board."

"Faster than a wino reaching for a fifth of 'Sweet Lucy," the Death Merchant was inside the watch room shoving a fresh magazine into his MAC-10."

Rosenberger continues to have trouble with military time. At two different points, he has 3:00 AM and 3:15 AM as 1500 and 1515 hours.

Future Volumes: In Chapter 3, Rosenberger mentions a CIA agent who has written about the existence of Atlantis. A footnote cites DM #67, The Atlantean Horror. How far in advance was Rosenberger writing these things? This book is #58! It turns out that The Atlantean Horror will end up as #64. ... And later in the book, Rosenberger goes off on a multi-page rant about the "Soviet slave system" and says he will deal with this topic in #68, Escape From Gulag Taria (which will be published as #67).