" Do I have the go-ahead ? I have the target in my sights ? " " Hold your fire, I repeat, hold your fire, we have directives from above. We cannot...." The grim voice of Air Chief Marshal Adam Logan was suddenly replaced by a smooth, silky voice. " This is Agent Friar from Echelon, Division 6. Flight Commandant Eric Lester, you have direct orders to stand down. I repeat, stand down. It is imperative that the target remains alive for our purposes. Sheikh Hafiz Omeidi is not a thr..." BOOM ! BOOM ! Flight Commandant Eric Lester never heard the rest of Agent Friar's admonitions, because his F-22 Raptor had just been hit repeatedly by heavy artillery. Eric just about managed to stabilize the plane, just in time to see the Sheikh scurry into another of the caves surrounding the mountain side. Almost reflexively, Eric fired an Arrow missile to follow the Sheikh . . . and regretted it almost instantly. Hoping that he had somehow missed, but knowing that the mere explosive power of the Arrow would vaporize the Sheikh, Eric waited for the blast. It never came. Confused, Eric tried to take the plane a little closer to the mountainside, and eventually he saw a man come out of the caves. But he was not the Sheikh. This man was stocky, well-built, with salt-and-pepper hair and a leather jacket that should have been to hot for the desert. What Eric did not know was that this man was nt even a man. He was Vorbios, son of Grimaldur.