The saga of the Pontowski clan from Firebreak (1991) and Call to Duty (1993) continues as Matt Pontowski becomes a player in a potential military conflict looming in the Far East. The factional People's Liberation Army in southern China, led by the ruthless Kang Xun, is wrestling for power with the central Chinese government and going after Hong Kong, the first conquest in a dream to control all of Asia. United States National Security Advisor Bob Carroll, eager to stop Kang right away, assembles a China Action Team of the brightest and best-connected in Washington, including Mazie Kamigami, the frumpy Asian specialist, and the preppy Wentworth Hazelton, who grudgingly joins as Mazie's assistant. The dark wing—the plane that emerges from the shadows to surprise the enemy—is found in Pontowski's 303rd Fighter Squadron, a Reserve squadron in Missouri whose ugly, slow, yet fatally precise A-10 Thunderbolt II planes (Warthogs) are in danger of becoming obsolete only to be rescued from the peace dividend because of their compatibility with AWACS, the airborne warning and command system the military would like to test in combat. The pilots of the 303rd resign from the Air Force to join the American Volunteer Group, becoming mercenaries for a dissident movement of the Zhuang people of southern China who are under the leadership of 28-year-old Zuo Rong. Zuo has arranged the release of American POW Victor Kamigami, Mazie's father, from the Vietnamese Army in the hopes of acquiring a general for his own army. The megalomaniacal, sexually deviant General Von Drexler is the head commander as these groups converge upon the southern Chinese theater. The characters are adroitly assembled as they fight in cities throughout southern China on land and in the air, creating such an engrossing tale of war that one is eager to read about the fate of the next generation of Pontowskis.
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