Quest for Honor
by David Tindell
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"I love the name of honor, more than I fear death." ~ Julius Caesar
Jim Hayes lives a quiet life in Wisconsin, training in martial arts and studying the warrior ethos. Unable to prevent the murder of his wife six years earlier, Jim is determined that the next time he is called upon to act, things will be different, and he can restore the sense of honor he believes he has lost.
His estranged brother Mark, an Army colonel commanding a firebase in the mountains of Afghanistan, sees his career winding down and wonders what lies in store when he comes home. After years of dedicated service to his country, he fears nothing else will measure up when he removes the uniform for the last time.
In lawless Somalia, al Qaeda chieftain Yusuf Shalita, tired of endless jihad, has decided to defect, in one last attempt at redemption. But Shalita has only met one American he has ever trusted, so he tells the CIA he will surrender himself to Jim Hayes, his old friend from their college days in Wisconsin. That demand will bring the Hayes brothers back together in a way they never imagined, as they fight to prevent a new and devastating terror attack on the very heart of America.
Every night, he saw the children. No matter how tired he was, no matter how preoccupied he was from the events of the day, no matter anything, he dreamed. And in his dreams, they came for him. Pain and supplication filled their eyes; a shadow, dark and menacing, loomed behind them. Sometimes he could hear its wicked laughter, smell its fetid breath.
On this hot night, he woke up screaming. “No! Save them! Save them!” Bolting upright, the bedclothes fell away, drenched with his sweat. He was panting. The shadow had gotten close to him, as the children milled around, and he felt its cold tendrils snaking around him, drawing him closer…
There was a knock at the door, then a muffled voice. “Yusuf! Are you all right?”
He didn’t answer, and the door edged open. The face that peered in was that of Amir, his most trusted lieutenant. Did the man never sleep?
“Are you ill, Yusuf? May I get you anything?”
Yusuf shook his head, banishing the last wisps of the faces, knowing they would be back, perhaps as soon as he nodded off again. “Thank you, Amir, but I am fine. A bad dream, that is all.”
“Shall I prepare some hot tea? It often helps me sleep.”
Yusuf started to object, but said, “That would be good. Please, bring it to the library, and join me.”
He rose, pulled on a dry robe, switching on the light. The lone overhead bulb sputtered but stayed on. At least the electricity was running, he thought. Otherwise it would be candles and lanterns, as it was some nights. How could this truly be part of the land of Allah’s people if it could not consistently provide even the bare necessities? Ah, but what necessities are we thinking of, Yusuf reminded himself. The ones you enjoyed back in America, at university? Or the ones the true believers scraped and scavenged for every day, here in the barren countryside, the crowded cities, that made up the lands of the Prophet, blessings be upon him?
In the library, which was little more than a room with some shelves laden with books, a desk and his precious computer, Yusuf sat on one of the pillows along the walls as Amir joined him with a steaming pot of tea and two cups. They sipped in silence for a few minutes, and then Amir cleared his throat nervously. He was always so respectful, rather surprising for a Libyan; as a rule, Libyans tended to look down on central Africans, like Yusuf.
“What is it, Amir?” Yusuf said. “You may speak freely, my friend.”
“I—well, these dreams of yours, Yusuf, they must trouble you. I frequently hear you cry out.” Amir lowered his eyes. Men did not often speak of such things, especially the proud and, let’s face it, the arrogant men Yusuf worked with and led. In spite of himself, Yusuf smiled, his white teeth showing starkly against his black skin. He reached over and clapped Amir on the shoulder.
“Amir, you are my brother, do not be embarrassed. It is proper for brothers to speak of such things with each other. Privately, of course.” He chuckled, and Amir, relaxing, did as well. Yusuf sighed, took another sip of the sweet Turkish tea, and said, “It is the same dream. It is about Katabolang.”
Quest for Honor is a five-star military thriller set both in Afghanistan and in protagonist Jim Hayes' home state of Wisconsin in the United States. The story involves love and loss, and the inner turmoil it creates in Hayes' life. Jim longs to prove himself as worthy and honorable as his younger brother, who is playing a vital role serving his country in Afghanistan. Little does Jim know he'll soon get that chance when an al Qaeda chieftain, educated in the United States, chooses to defect on the condition that he is allowed to surrender himself to Jim, a friend from his college days. An intriguing read!
About the Author
David Tindell was born in Germany and grew up in southern Wisconsin. Today he lives up in the northwestern corner of the state, in a log home on a lake with his wife Sue, their Yorkie and two cats. After a career in radio broadcasting, Tindell went to work for the US Government and resumed the writing career he'd started in college.
His first novel, Revived, was published in 2000, but after that he put the pen aside for a time to train in the martial arts, earning a black belt in the Korean art of Taekwondo and instructor status in the Russian art of Systema. He currently trains in Ryukudo Kobujutsu, an art that combines karate with Okinawan weaponry. Like his protagonist in The White Vixen, Tindell is a linguist, although not as accomplished as Jo Ann Geary; he's conversational in German and has also studied Italian and Russian.