Black Lion

Michael Alexander Harris

Mike was thirty-two years old and held the rank of major in the US Army. He had become an officer through the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) at the University of North Carolina and the OCS (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Benning. Now he was team leader. He had earned the nickname “Black Lion” on account of his excellence, strength, courage, and leadership capabilities.

Mike grew up on the street. He never met his father. His mother was a slight, blonde waitress from Iowa who had been simply too young and too much a drinker to take care of him. She could barely take care of herself. Mike was the result of a spring fling, her short but intense relationship, with a young Army lieutenant who hung out at the bar where she worked part time.

Mike read anything that fell within his grasp.

He was a fighter. He was convinced that he did what was right for his country and that; above all, he was fighting for freedom so that all people could have a better life in this hard world.

Marcie Dagmar Johanssen

Barely thirty with a PhD in economics from Harvard, Marcie was one of the most highly paid executives of the powerful European Central Bank.

She had been born into a fabulously wealthy family, scion of one of the largest fortunes in Denmark. The Johanssens’ media empire spread throughout Europe. Marcie, nevertheless, had decided to make her own way. She went to the prestigious boarding school of Le Rosey, in Rolle, Switzerland, sometimes nicknamed the “School for Kings” because of the number of scions of European royalty who had graced its classrooms.

She then went off to the United States for an MBA at Princeton University, New Jersey. Without returning to Denmark, she worked for two years at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and then went to Harvard for her doctorate. Marcie had also created a foundation to help African orphans, which she directed, sparing no effort or time. She was, by nature, a pacifist. She hated everything that involved war, bullying, and injustice.

Benito Manuel Alcalá

Middle-aged man who had been born and raised in the most dangerous neighborhood of the Bronx. He was self-made, from the bottom up. A son of Spanish immigrants, he was white and stood over six foot two with a linebacker’s build. This had won him the respect, and sometimes fear, of his neighborhood. When he turned fifteen, Benito had dedicated his life to the church. He was ordained by the Jesuits and had served as a US Army chaplain, side-by-side with the troops in more than one war, including Grenada in ‘83, Panama in ‘89, and the Gulf War in ‘90. He was the counselor and guide for many otherwise homeless children.

Alman Anuad El-Sahiri

He was a Muslim from a poor background who had been born and raised in Baghlan, a tiny hamlet in the northern mountains of Afghanistan. Like the rest of his family, he was a Pashtun and had been in combat in the offensives against the Americans as an ardent sympathizer of Communist Russia. He had grown up among fanatical and vengeful men and with a code of ethics very different from those of Western culture. Nevertheless, Alman was a highly trained man with an innate ability to lead large groups of men. His fanaticism only nourished his growing defiance of all aspects of Western life.

He was a man of middling height, overweight, with a flowing gray-flecked beard that was almost always dirty and the flushed red cheeks produced by too much alcohol. He had a characteristic birthmark on his forehead. He had no scruples whatsoever: He was an extremely dangerous lunatic.

Rudolph Anton Württemberg

Colonel Rudolph Württemberg was the chief of the KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte), the German Army Special Forces.

He was a typical Prussian military man. Tall, at over six feet, he was in perfect physical shape and trained in every kind of combat and anti-terrorist warfare. He was only thirty-eight years old, but he had an unimpeachable military record, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had trained in the US Army together with the Green Berets. He had been appointed chief of the KSK just three months earlier. He had a beautiful physician wife and three little girls—ages ten, eight, and six—who he loved madly and who, without a doubt, were the great weakness in his life.

Richard Arthur Norman Miller, Jr.

He was a West Point graduate who had gone through a meteoric military career as a Special Forces liaison officer and had been engaged on the battlefield of many different theaters of operations. Miller was, above all, a soldier, a defender of his country who, like Mike, fought for freedom and a better world. His chain of command believed in him. He was respected by his peers and admired by his subordinates. Of Scotch origins, he was the archetype of a career military officer, with a military bearing worthy of a Prussian Junker. He was of medium build and in very fine physical shape. Miller, like Mike, was convinced that good always won out in the end and that they fought for the good of all humanity.

Sam Dickinson

The Dickinsons’ neighborhood was a typical American suburb: lovely houses, from middle to upper middle class, quiet streets, a gateway and security, good schools, and friendly neighbors always ready to give a helping hand.

Farid Hakim Fuad Al-Zwar

Farid was the attaché for Energy Affairs at the Saudi Royal Embassy in the United States and had been living in a plush area of Washington, in a spacious apartment that was very close to the Embassy.

He was thirty-five years old, a scion of the Saudi Royal Family, like his late cousin, Osama Bin Laden. He lived by the lax code available to Arabs of exalted rank. He was a man of medium height, with a gym-toned body, and dressed like a British dandy. He was quite handsome, and his success with women was due not only to his good looks, but to his impressive financial endowment. Farid enjoyed life enormously.

He had been educated in the U.S., first at Stanford, where he had obtained a degree in international economics; after that, he got an MBA at Wharton, at the University of Pennsylvania, with the highest honors granted by the university.

Daiki Hinata

Daiki had been born in the United States and raised by Japanese parents in Honolulu. As soon as he was old enough, he had joined the Army and eventually the Green Berets. He had excelled in training and, upon graduation, served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he came home, he left the Army and returned to Japan to comply with the mandate of his ancestors. He was a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi family, in which he was a kumicho of the Yakuza hierarchy. His family honor required him to play this role to the best of his ability.

Despite representing one of the most feared criminal organizations in the world, Daiki Hinata had a deep sense of duty and responsibility and, in his own way, was an honorable man with an unshakeable belief in the duties of friendship.

Harald Johanssen

He was the scion of one of the wealthiest families of Denmark. He was related to the thousand-year-old Royal Family, then-headed by Queen Margrethe II. The Johanssen Group had major interests in some of the largest Danish companies. Harald was the omnipotent CEO of the Rassmurberg media empire, which was wholly owned by the Group. With over forty thousand employees, Harald’s firm owned newspapers, television stations, and other related firms throughout the United States and in almost every country of Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

He and his wife, Ingrid, had a daughter, Marcie, and four sons, Gustaf, Frederic, Otto, and Henrik.

Ernst Robinson

Robinson was fifty-eight years old. His father, Percy, had retired with two stars as a major general in the Army and had served his country in combat in Vietnam and Korea. After retiring from active duty, he had turned to politics.

General Robinson was, at that time, one of the most respected and decorated members of the military and one of the few living soldiers with the Congressional Medal of Honor. For twenty-five years, he had served in the Special Forces, and he had fought, on countless occasions, in every kind of overt and covert conflict around the world.

Aside from being in charge of Special Operations at the Pentagon, he was part of the National Security Council that gave advice to the President, and in the corridors of Washington, it was whispered that he would be the next general to pin on a fourth star and would be appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Alexia Isabella Blomhoven

She was the daughter of Anker Blomhoven, an industrial magnate, and of Jane Robinson, an American author who was General Ernst Robinson’s first cousin. Marcie and Alexia had known each other since the age of three, since their parents were close friends. They were in primary school together in Copenhagen, and later on, both went to Le Rosey, in Switzerland, for high school. While Marcie was at Princeton, Alexia was at Yale, and lived in Washington, D.C., where she was an economist for the World Bank. She was an intelligent woman, cultured, charming, and amazingly attractive. She was five foot eight with brilliant blue eyes and long blonde hair that fell below her shoulders, and she dressed with the utmost elegance. Just as happened with Marcie, men keeled over when they saw her walk into a room.

Bahir Burhan

He was Alman’s second in the organization as well as a nuclear physicist with a PhD from MIT and a background in research and technical work that had made him a candidate to the Nobel Prize in Physics three years ago. He was in charge of operations at the COMA. He had forged his identity and personality over long years of sacrifice and study, and of fundamental surrender to the principles he considered to be just.