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Raider

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Blurb

Miranda Chase—the heroine you didn’t expect. Fighting the battles no one else could win.

 The US Army’s brand-new S-97 Raider reconnaissance helicopter goes down during final acceptance testing — hard. Cause: a failure, or the latest in a series of cyberattacks by Turkey.

 Miranda Chase, an autistic air-crash genius, and her team of NTSB investigators tackle the challenge. They must find the flaw, save the Vice President, and stop the US being forced into the next war in the Middle East. And they have to do it now!

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Prologue
Prologue Ankara, Turkey Siberkume – Cyber Security Cluster Subbasement #2 Metin struggled against the collapsing code racing up his computer screen. The American satellite’s onboard software was self-correcting—constantly checking its synchronization and alignment. His right-hand computer screen showed the geographic shift he’d managed to induce in seven of the thirty-three satellites in this single system. It wasn’t systemic but, exactly as required, it was very localized. On his central screen, the American code he had decrypted was about to rotate. Every hour, the encryption routine scrambled itself. He’d had one hour to decrypt and infiltrate his own code before the door closed again, and he’d have had to start over from scratch. It had taken fifty-seven minutes for his program on the left screen to crack that code. That had left him only a three-minute window to alter the data broadcast that the satellites beamed downward. After three months of trying, his first successful hack had finally told him which path he’d needed to pursue. A week to break down and rebuild his code had taken out the element of chance that had let him crack it the first time. It still wasn’t an easy task, but he’d done it! In under the required hour and targeted the exact location called for in the new mission profile. But, between sixty minutes and sixty minutes-and-one second, the window into the American’s code imploded once more into encrypted gibberish. Metin collapsed back into his chair, drained as if he’d been on the attack for sixty hours, not sixty minutes. The noises around him came back slowly, the same way Gaye Su Akyol eased into her Anatolian rock videos. Siberkume was humming tonight, though with a very different tune. In the big room’s half-light that made it easier to stay focused on the screens, there sounded the harsh rattle of keys, soft-murmured conversations, and quiet curses of code gone wrong. It washed back and forth across the twenty stations crammed into the concrete bunker like a familiar tide. The sharp snap of an opening Red Bull can sounded like a gunshot. He liked that the Americans—all it took was watching the many eSports players Red Bull sponsored to know he belonged—were running on the same fuel he was, but still he’d beaten them. He snapped his own Red Bull because he definitely needed something to fight back the shakes from the sustained code dive. Siberkume might not have the vast banks of hackers like the Russians or Chinese, but he was part of a lean, mean, fighting machine. General Firat came striding up to his station like he owned the world. Since he ran Siberkume, he certainly owned Metin’s world. “I’m sorry, General. That was the best I could do this time.” It was the Cyber Security Cluster’s first real test of their abilities against a force like the Americans. He was the one who’d done it, but it was better to be cautious with the military. Their moods were more unpredictable than his sister’s crazy cat. “No, Metin. That was a very good start. Very good. You are çacal—‘like the coyote’.” General Firat thumped him hard enough on the shoulder that his keyboarding would be ten percent below normal speed for at least an hour. But “Metin the Coyote”? He could get down with that. It was seriously high praise. “I’ll get the effective window wider, General. I don’t know if I can beat the hourly reset. But now that I know how to get in, I can hone my code. I’ll make it faster so we have more time.” Though he had no idea how. He’d already streamlined it with every trick he knew to beat that one-hour limit. Unless he could talk his way onto the Yildiz SVR supercomputer… Wouldn’t that be hot s**t? (He loved American slang and ferreted it out whenever he could sneak online.) “Yes, yes.” Clearly the General hadn’t understood a word of what he’d said about what could and couldn’t be done. Metin considered simplifying it, but he wasn’t sure how. It didn’t matter; General Firat didn’t pause for a breath. “Be ready. You have one week for the next level test. You are the very first one to make it through. Your skills have not gone unnoticed. Well done, Çacal. Bravo!” The general must mean it as he said the last loudly enough to be easily overheard by the ten closest programmers before striding off into the dim shadows of Siberkume. Metin grinned across the aisle at Onur. Onur groaned, but Metin didn’t rub it in too much. Onur’s sister Asli was the most lovely girl in the world, and his ability to visit with her, without appearing to visit with her, depended largely on Onur’s continuing friendship. But to rub it in a little, he rolled back his shoulders and pushed out his chest like Blackpink’s Rosé being so nice and just a little nasty. They’d watched all of the group’s K-pop videos over a totally illegal VPN to YouTube. It was one of the luxuries of working at Siberkume: access to the outside world—if you didn’t get caught. I’ve so got the stuff. Onur snorted and gave him an Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yeah, right! look. Onur didn’t look anything like Ewan McGregor, even with the expression. Of course, he himself didn’t look much like the superhot Rosé.

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