It all starts when maverick billionaire, Adrian Garland, finds a
mysterious sphere composed of an unknown metal at one of his mining
sites. He orders his men to drill into it. They try and the drill
breaks. At this point Adrian decides what any sane person would. The
sphere is from an alien civilization. He has his secretary, Mrs.
Whisper, contact his personal mercenary team. He wants his team to
break into a DARPA research facility, codenamed Mind Shaft, to steal a
top secret laser called, The Lighthouse project. You're never quite
sure how he knows about this super secret laser. Perhaps at some point
he needed to tarnish the reputation of a professor by popping a
massive amount of popcorn in his house from space. In that case, it
would make sense that he knew all about the Lighthouse project but the
book is a bit unclear. What is clear, is that even with a billion
dollars the quality of mercenaries in this day and age is quite poor.
Adrian's team is led by Frank Edwards, a professional thief who suffers from a bit of a Fezzik complex. Frank only steals from countries or very large corporations. When he tries stealing from just one person or a single bank he fails miserably. It was one such bank heist in Atlanta that has Frank down on his luck. He can outwit countries but not the local FBI who did such great work in the Richard Jewell case.
Miguel is the tech guy. He is on the run from the Cuban government after they caught him double crossing them. He lives in a shack. The fact that the people's computer defense network, were able to gather around their 486 and track him doesn't seem to worry anybody. Undoubtedly Miguel simply updated his Facebook page with, "Right now, Miguel is ripping off the Cubans." by accident.
This leads us to The Darkness. The Darkness is an amalgamation of every cool, bad-ass killer in every movie you have ever seen. He tracked down 241 secret agents across Europe and killed them in 70 days. He is the leading cause of death in Africa. He walked up to a CNN reporter one time and the reporter died of fright. The Darkness is in every nightmare Chuck Norris ever had. While he is a genius at killing, he isn't very discreet. German agents found his family and killed them all. When we meet him, The Darkness is very dark indeed.
Finally we have Lisa Johan. She is a cute little Swedish woman who can control the minds of the weak willed and unfocused. She is not a regular part of the gang. Lisa is being held captive in the basement of Gina's Sex Plex, a strip club. Her captors are auctioning her off to the highest and most unsavory bidder. Since strip clubs are known for being bastions of order, good judgement and iron will she is unable to control anyone's mind and escape. The team decides to recruit her even though they are wary. As Miguel so cleverly puts it, "Women can't be trusted. A woman with mind control means you can't trust anybody and everybody trusts somebody."
This B team makes some fake Id's and attacks the DARPA facility. It only takes a few minutes for all of the Keystone Cops guarding our nations secrets to be killed, tricked and humiliated. Then the sex starts. Being such a predictable book, I was surprised that it had taken so long for the cute Swedish psychic and The Darkness to get it on. I had hoped for something a bit more exotic than sex on the getaway plane. Something involving mind control induced fantasies of dragons flying into the sun or at least a clever catch phrase but it wasn't to be.
Since our government looks down on people attacking us, The Secretary of Secrecy, Teresa McDonald and other officials activate the Special Operations Teams. Team Raptor is a collection of super-hero like caricatures that you have seen in a hundred other bad books and movies.
Colonel Sam Reed is in charge of Team Raptor. He's a hard-nosed military man who lost his Family in the 9/11 attacks.
Suzie Matthews is ex-CIA and leads the team missions. She doesn't have any powers, which makes her an interesting choice as mission leader.
Stephen Pachinko is an angry Russian with the power to heal from his left hand.
Sgt. Kim Maddox is a tiny Korean woman with superhuman strength.
Tom Bane can alter the flow of time.
Kelly Burke is the colonel's secretary. She can read minds in a 100' radius but falls on the floor convulsing if she is around more than 20 people. This makes her a lot of fun at parties.
Finally we have Dale Winston, he's in charge of gadgets. Miguel has a run for his money when it comes to worst tech guy, thanks to Dale. With all the funding of the US government, Dale has come up with infra-red glasses that can tell when someone is lying and a gun that has two clips. That's a whole extra clip of ammo people, think about it.
It takes the government a few seconds to figure out who stole the laser and even less time to figure out where it is being held. Finally, the collection of cliches and the team of caricatures face-off to decide once and for all who is the most predictable. Frank, Miguel and Suzanne die immediately, proving that normal people aren't very good at fighting people with super-powers. Everyone who survives the initial fight scatter, in the hopes that something interesting will happen. It does.
The Laser finally burns through the sphere. Three Aliens walk out. They try to communicate with the assembled scientists, researchers and technicians. When it becomes apparent that the humans can't understand the strange visitors, the aliens become frustrated and turn all the metal in the room into dust. When the dust settles they kill everyone, including Adrian. The aliens now have some privacy to talk things over. We learn that they have been trying to fix their ship, the sphere, for the past decade. They were almost done when the humans burned through the magnetic drive shields. Now they are stranded. Although their people have mastered interstellar flight and have created atomic and phase disruptors, they haven't invented roadside assistance. My new favorite characters in the book decide that their best bet, is to find someone with a knack for diplomacy and make a deal before more humans show up and dissect them.
Everyone knows the best way to get people who hate each other to cooperate, is to introduce something else they can hate together. The aliens serve this purpose. Team Raptor joins up with Lisa and The Darkness to fight this new and more interesting foe. Kim and one alien are killed in the melee that follows. All the rest of the humans are on deaths door so they escape. The Aliens re-group and stumble upon Mrs. Whisper, who has been hiding this whole time. She doesn't try to stab, shoot or set them on fire, so they take an instant liking to her. At this point they remember that they have a translator in the ship, which makes the murder of the scientists earlier seem like a waste that could have been avoided, if the author could have known what he was going to write a chapter ago. In any event they strike a deal with Mrs. Whisper, who has all of Adrian's bank account info, and escape before more humans, who would actually shoot an alien and not try to fight him hand to hand, show up.
A few months later we find the survivors of Team Raptor's first mission training hard with a new purpose, to destroy aliens. They even have a few new recruits, a clone, a woman who shoots fire from her fingers and one Lisa Johan. The government, having forgotten that she can't control alien minds, has pardoned her. (To be fair to our fictitious elected officials, I believe this is due to the author forgetting what he wrote earlier again.) Team Raptor is going to need everybody when they see what the aliens have been doing with their free time. Not being the kind of aliens who are content to sit on their laurels, our aliens have hatched the most diabolic plan mankind has ever seen. With the help of Mrs. Whisper, they are making a corporation that hires only felons, single parents and the uneducated. They are building company stores, schools and housing for their employees. This way they can pay someone $15k but give them benefits that equal a $60k job. They plan on placing officials in government with the voting power of their employees, covertly teach the children to fly spaceships and offer a laser in the face severance package to anyone who won't toe the company line. They plan on using the power of an alien human resources dept. and intergalactic socialism to rule the world. Their studies show them that it will take less than a decade. SOTR ends here but not before Daniel A. Dawson threatens to write a sequel, Special Operations Team Raptor, The Alien Plan.
I have mixed emotions about this book. It belongs in the barrel but I get the feeling Mr. Dawson doesn't take himself or this book too seriously. You might want to waste a couple hours of your life and read it before you throw it away.