Area 7 is Matthew Reilly's fourth novel, and the second to feature Shane Schofield as he protects the President of the United States from a rogue Air Force unit.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
It is America's most secret base, hidden deep in the Utah desert, an Air Force installation known only as Area 7. And today it has a visitor: the President of the United States. He has come to inspect Area 7, to examine its secrets for himself.
But he's going to get more than he bargained for on this trip. Because hostile forces are waiting inside... Among the President's helicopter crew, however, is a young Marine. He is quiet, enigmatic, and he hides his eyes behind a pair of silver sunglasses. His name is Schofield. Call-sign: Scarecrow. Rumour has it, he's a good man in a storm. Judging by what the President has just walked into, he'd better be...
Summary[edit | edit source]
At the Leavenworth Federal Prison, the execution of former Air Force general Charles “Caesar” Russell is slightly delayed by his final request to watch the inauguration of the new President of the United States. Though the lethal injection is successful, 12 minutes after his heart stops beating, he is resuscitated while being taken away from the prison, his brain having been kept oxygenated due to the hyper-oxygenated blood he received during transfusions he required during his imprisonment.
Several months later, the President finishes touring the Area 8 Air Force facility in Utah, and rejoins the Marine HMX unit to make the journey to the next installation, Area 7. Assigned to his protective detail is Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, who since the Wilkes Station incident was placed in the HMX squad to keep him out of the public eye. Also with him from the Wilkes incident is Gena "Mother" Newman and Elizabeth "Fox" Gant, and among the other Marines in the unit is Buck 'Book II' Riley Jr, the son of Book. Earlier in the week, Schofield and Gant went out on a date, which though the both of them enjoyed, feel that it ended awkwardly.
After arriving at the facility, the President and his protection detail is led by Colonel Jerome Harper on a tour of the base, while Schofield and the Marines note the mean-looking 7th Special Operation Squadron members guarding the base, led by Alpha Unit's Major Kurt Logan. As the Marines Elvis and Brainiac discuss the rumours surrounding what Area 7 is for, the President is introduced to Dr Gunther Botha, who demonstrates a vaccine to the race-targeting Chinese bio-weapon, the Sinovirus. Soon, Harper leads the President and his detail into another room, asking them to wait for a few moments. Meanwhile Schofield becomes suspicious when he notes the offensive positions of the 7th Squadron men and the disappearance of the Football-holder Warrant Officer Carl Webster, however the Marines' arrogant Liaison Officer Colonel Rodney "Ramrod" Hagerty disbelieves him and threatens a court martial.
Suddenly, on Area 7's internal network, and across the Emergency Broadcast system, Ceaser appears and announces he is initiating a coup against the President, claiming he will no longer sit back and watch the country fall into ruin. A transmitter he'd had attached to the President’s heart before he was elected is activated, and so a satellite sends and receives messages to and from this transmitter, which is powered by the kinetic energy of the President’s heartbeat. If the President's heart stops, plasma-based warheads in the airports of several cities will explode. destroying these cities. As Area 7 is locked down to prevent the President from trying to escape, Caesar reveals he has also overridden the launch codes on the Football to prevent the detonation of the warheads, but the President must place his hand on the fingerprint sensor on the Football (that is being kept in Caesar's possession) every 90 minutes.
The 7th Squadron begin attacking, and all of the President's accompanying staff and many of the Marines are killed in the first instants. Schofield, Gant, Mother and Brainiac flee down a ventilation shaft to the Level 1 aircraft hanger, while Book II, Elvis, Love Machine and Calvin escape in the personnel elevator. The President and his protection detail attempt to flee to Level 6 for an exit, though 7th Squadron's Delta unit takes out most of them, forcing Juliet Janson to lead them through Level 5's confinement area, where they are joined by scientist Herbert Franklin. Meanwhile Schofield's group hijacks an AWACS plane and causes chaos to keep Charlie and Echo units at bay, until they are forced to crash it into the aircraft elevator on Level 4.
All of the groups reunite on Level 4 after an ambush from Alpha unit results in Calvin's death, though with more casualties for Logan's men, due to Schofield's group ambushing them in turn. For the moment safe, Schofield, having being surprised by the appearance of a young boy named Kevin living inside a containment cube earlier, asks what Area 7 does. Franklin and the President explain that the base is used to produce a vaccine for the Sinovirus, and that Kevin is a genetically-engineered child who's blood-plasma is used to create the vaccine.
Still needing to get the President's hand on the Football, Schofield, Book II, Janson and the President disguise themselves as 7th Squadron men as the rest of the team cause havoc in the main hanger, allowing the President to reach the briefcase and reset the timer. Since they did not expect it to be tethered in place, they are almost forced to abandon it, until Schofield gets an opportunity to remove it while helping the wounded Love Machine to safety. Now joined by Ramrod and Domestic Policy Adviser Nicholas Tate III, who had hidden in one of the helicopter during the massacre, Schofield plans to escape Area 7 now that they have the Football, only to find that Kevin has been taken from his cube.
Meanwhile, David Fairfax, a cryptanalyst from the Defense Iintelligence Agency, decrypts a message set that has been occurring from Area 7, and learns that a team of South African Reccondos are about to infiltrate the base. At this time, Schofield's group learn that Botha has used the chaos to switch of the base's cameras as he enacts a plan to kidnap Kevin and steal the Sinovirus and its vaccine using the Reccondos' help. As they prepare to go after them, the President explains that Botha is an Apartheid supporter the Americans reluctantly recruited into their vaccine program, and is a member of Die Organisasie, who will likely use the Sinovirus and its vaccine to create a white supremacist society in Africa.
As they arrive at the X-rail station on Level 6, they find that the Reccondos have taken out 7th Squadron's Delta unit, but Bravo unit arrives before they can leave. In the ensuing battle, Love Machine is killed, and most of the group, including the President, is forced to abandon their X-rail carriage as it leaves, with Schofield deciding to continue after Botha, realising too late that he still has the Football. Elvis, distraught at Love Machine's death, performs a kamikaze on the Bravo unit, taking out half its member as Gant leads the group to safety. Caesar, having learned of Botha's actions, orders Charlie unit to pursue Botha and retrieve Kevin, stating that their coup is for nothing without the boy.
Schofield, Book II, Brainiac and Franklin arrive at Lake Powell, and begin pursuing Botha and the Reccondos through the flooded canyons on a pair of bipods, however the chase is complicated by a group of Penetrator choppers piloted by Charlie unit. The Reccondos are all killed, and Brainiac and Franklin fall victim to a decoy hydrofoil that explodes. Schofield and Book II take control of a Super Stallion and locate Botha and Kevin, though Botha ignores Schofield's demand to surrender. The remaining Charlie unit Penetrators arrive and kill Botha, retrieve Kevin and sink the Super Stallion. Schofield and Book II are able to follow Botha's plan to avoid being killed also, and surface in an abandoned mine near a farm owned by a Die Organisasie member, and commandeer a biplane to return to Area 7.
By now, Fairfax's investigation has led him to learn not only of the Reccondos, but of a rogue 7th Squadron unit, Echo, which is being paid by the Chinese government to steal back the Sinovirus and its vaccine. He is then able to figure out that they plan to escape to Area 8 and steal one of the prototype X-38 shuttles to escape to the recently launched Chinese space shuttle, Yellow Star. Indeed as Charlie unit returns to Area 7, Echo unit intercepts them, kills them and take Kevin. Meanwhile, Gant decides to something about the President's transmitter, and uses a black box from another AWACs plane to build a transmitter which could keep the warheads from detonating. However, since the satellite receiving the President's transmitter signals might set off the warheads if it detects both signals, they decide to retrieve the remote which activated the President's transmitter so that they can swap the source of the signals.
At that moment, all power in Area 7 is cut off, as the auxiliary power supply has run out due to damage caused to the junction box during the chaos on Level 1 earlier. Unfortunately, this also disables the locks on the prisoners' cells. As Schofield and Book II make their way back to Area 7, Book II inquires about Schofield's risky tactics, wondering if that was what got his father killed. Schofield tells Book II as much about Book's death as he is able, and the younger Marine begins to respect him. Upon returning, they are able to reunite with Gant and the President, narrowly resetting the Football's 90 minute countdown, however they (aside from Book II, Ramrod and Tate) are captured by the escaped prisoners. Harper and Bravo unit are also captured, and as Caesar and Alpha unit escape Area 7, they find the bodies of Charlie unit. Seeing that Charlie unit's leader has left a bloodied capital E as a message, Caesar had Echo unit tracked and starts following them to Area 8.
The prisoners, led by Seth Grimshaw, gather their captors, in the process revealing that Webster is among them, having given Caesar the Football. Grimshaw orders them to fight to the death, and during the battle, all of the remaining Bravo unit members are killed, as is Webster, leaving Harper on his own. Desperate, and having been immunised with the vaccine along with all of the base's staff, Harper launches a Sinovirus grenade and flees, which begins killing all of the prisoners, save for Grimshaw and Goliath. Schofield, Mother, the President and Book II (Janson is Eurasian and thus immune) manage to use the vaccine obtained earlier from Botha's gear to immunise themselves, but the separated Gant is forced to take shelter in the hanger's offices. Book II and Janson go after Grimshaw and Goliath, who have the Football, while the others go after Echo unit and Kevin. Tate joins them, and tells them that Ramrod disappeared, and they realise that he has been taken by the final remaining prisoner, Lucifer Leary, but reluctantly decide to leave him behind.
As they travel on the X-rail, the President reveals what he believes is Caesar's plan; in addition to eliminating the President, he intends to use the Sinovirus and it's cure to reset America to it's pre-civil war state. Indeed the plasma bombs are not all over the country, but rather in the Northern “pro-black” capital cities, and Caesar believes that with his use of the Air Force's superior military might and the support of the southern states, he can create a new, racist, Confederate America. Mother also inquires as to why Schofield didn't kiss Gant at the end of their date, and encourages him to do so the next time he sees her. Gant, meanwhile, locates the remote that activated the President's transmitter, but is surprised to see two switches, and at the same time sees on a lone monitor that Area 7's self-destruct mechanism will activate in an hour unless disarmed, but at that moment is knocked from behind.
Book II and Janson defeat Grimshaw and Goliath, retrieving the Football, but are badly wounded in the process. As they arrive at Area 8, Fairfax interrupts Tate's cellphone call, and informs Schofield of Echo units plan to escape. When they arrive in the main hanger, they find that Caesar's men have engaged Echo, who are in the process of powering up the plane what will launch the X-38. Schofield and the President manage to board the plane while Caesar's men apparently kill Mother. After the X-38 launches into space, Schofield and the President disguise themselves in order to get close to Kevin, then take control of the X-38 and land it back at Area 7.
Entering a stand-off with the remaining Alpha unit men, Schofield sends out the President and Kevin, before ejecting from the shuttle and takes them out with a RPG even as the X-38 is blown up with the Echo unit men inside. Knowing that their coup has ultimately failed, Caesar and Logan re-enter the base, and Caesar sends out a broadcast, revealing that he too has a transmitter on his heart, and is going to allow himself to die in the base's destruction, which will still set off the plasma warheads. With the President, the Football and Kevin secured, and with Book II and Janson injured, Schofield decides to go back into Area 7 to prevent Caesar's death and find Gant.
Schofield finds that Leary has captured Gant and Harper in addition to Ramrod (though Harper is already dead), and manages to find her, and following Mother's advice, kisses her. Unfortunately the moment is covered by Leary's return, who attacks Schofield, but luckily the Marine is able to drop the prisoner into a mass of Komodo dragons. Schofield then frees Gant and Ramrod, and while the latter is told to flee the base, Schofield and Gant go after Caesar. Logan attacks the pair whent they locate him, and ultimately falls to his death in the elevator shaft. Once Gant turns off Casaer's transmitter and switches on her decoy, Schofield is free to fatally wound Caesar. Having been too late to switch off Area 7's self-destruct mechanism, the two flee on the final X-rail vehicle, narrowly avoiding the blast while Caesar, still barely alive, is vaporised along with the base.
As friendly Marine forces arrive, Schofield and Gant reunite with the others at Area 8, where they find Mother is alive too. The President reveals that Caesar's broadcasts were never made public, since a 45 minute delay on the EBS and the destruction of a critical junction box during Schofield's earlier antics in the Level 1 hanger means that they were only shown on Area 7's network.
After the remaining prototype X-38 is used to destroy the Air Force satellite controlling the plasma warheads, the President undergoes surgery while under Marine protection to remove the transmitter from his heart. Later, a private ceremony is held in the White House, with the President bestowing Schofield, Gant, Mother, Book II, Janson and Fairfax with Congressional Medals of Honour for their heroic actions. Afterwards, Schofield and Gant go on another date, which ends with Schofield revealing that he will be looking after Kevin until a permanent home is found for him.
Characters[edit | edit source]
Schofield's Team[edit | edit source]
- Lieutenant Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield
- Gunnery Sergeant Gena "Mother" Newman
- Staff Sergeant Elizabeth "Fox" Gant
- Sergeant Buck "Book II" Riley Jr
- Sergeant Wendall "Elvis" Haynes
- Corporal Gus "Brainiac" Gorman
- Sergeant Ashley "Love Machine" Lewicky
- Captain Tom "Calvin" Reeves
- The President of the United States
- Special Agent Juliet Janson
Cesaer's Forces[edit | edit source]
- Lieutenant-General Charles "Caesar" Russell
- Colonel Jerome Harper
- Major Kurt Logan
- Captain Bruno "Boa" McConnell
- Captain Luther "Python" Willis
- Captain Lee "Cobra" Carney
- Warrant Officer Carl Webster
- Captain Robert Wu
- Lieutenant Chet Li
Other Allies[edit | edit source]
- David Fairfax
- Liason Officer Rodney "Hot Rod / Ramrod" Hagerty
- Nicholas Tate III
- Herbert Franklin
- Special Agent Francis Cutler
- Colonel Michael "Gunman" Grier
- Lieutenant-Colonel Michelle Dallas
- Lieutenant Corbin "Colt" Hendricks
- Special Agent Curtis
- Special Agent Julio Romando
Other Characters[edit | edit source]
- Gunther Botha
- Leon Roy Hailey
- Seth Grimshaw
- Lucifer Leary
- Lew Alvy
- Eugene Wisher
- Jeremiah Woolf (Mentioned only)
- Buck Riley Sr (Mentioned only)
- Paula Riley (Mentioned only)
Animals[edit | edit source]
Locations[edit | edit source]
- United States of America
- Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary
- New York State (mentioned only)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (mentioned only)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (mentioned only)
- La Guardia Airport (mentioned only)
- O'Hare International Airport
- California (mentioned only)
- Los Angeles International Airport (mentioned only)
- San Diego (mentioned only)
- San Francisco (mentioned only)
- Massachusetts (mentioned only)
- Boston (mentioned only)
- Pennsylvania (mentioned only)
- Philadelphia (mentioned only)
- Michigan (mentioned only)
- Detroit (mentioned only)
- Louisiana (mentioned only)
- Baton Rogue (mentioned only)
- Alaska (mentioned only)
- China (mentioned only)
- Changchung Biowarfare Facility (mentioned only)
- South Africa (mentioned only)
- Antarctica (mentioned only)
- Wilkes Ice Station (mentioned only)
- Indonesia (mentioned only)
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Reilly's stand-alone novel Temple is referrenced when the Marines discuss the conspiracy theories involving Area 7, with the Supernova being mentioned, as well as the thyrium.