Jack West Jr and the Chinese Splashdown is a short story by Matthew Reilly set in the Huntsman Series.
In 2006, some time after the Capstone mission and Jack West Jr adopted Lily as his daughter, the pair head out from the farm in the Great-Sandy Desert to check in on Jack's lone neighbour, Wally Ferguson. As Jack explains, Wally is a former astronomer who had a nervous breakdown and took to living in Simpson's Crossing, and spends his time looking for "zombie satellites", the abandoned satellites which still orbit above Earth's atmosphere.
Though Lily finds him a little odd, she does come to enjoy Wally's suggestions for music to listen to, namely Hooked on Classics. Wally also mentions to Jack that the Chinese are sending up more and more satellites with heavily encrypted signals, which Jack finds interesting.
In December 2007, Wally watches in alarm as Chinese paratroopers supposedly taking part in an exercise descend on Jack's farm, but is relieved to see Jack escape in his plane. When Jack returns a few months later to collect his things to move into his new farm in the Simpson desert, he pops in to visit Wally. Over the next several years, Jack makes the odd call to see how Wally is, though the old man is sad to have no one visiting him any more.
Years later in 2016, Wally has been kidnapped by Chinese Special Forces from his home and taken to the Fiery Cross Reef military base in the South China Sea, after having intercepted an encrypted transmission of theirs from the moon. Though Wally promises not to say anything if they let him go, the lead kidnapper orders him to be quiet and that the Sky King is coming to interrogate Wally, which the Australian doesn't understand. Luckily, help swoops in as the gull wing-equipped Jack takes out the kidnappers holding Wally. After retrieving the old Australian's hard drive, Jack enacts his escape plan, launching himself and Wally in a fighter's ejection seat and being snagged by the Sky Warrior's capture cable.
Jack takes Wally to an A.S.D. communications facility on West Island of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, where they and General Eric Abrahamson have Wally's hard drive decrypted. Listening to the transmission on it, they hear two persons discuss an operation which saw a Chinese rover land on the moon in the Sea of Rains in order to photograph an object on the lunar surface on behalf of their unnamed master. However, in order to prevent anyone intercepting the data it retrieved, the rover is being brought back and will soon be splashing down in the Indian Ocean, wherein it will be manually transported away on the Wuhan-II.
Hours later, Jack, Wally and Abrahamson watch a live satellite feed of the moon lander splash down in the ocean and the Wuhan-II's crew recovering it and extracting the camera and laser rangefinder. From the satellite feed, Jack and the others are shocked as they watch as the Chinese troops are wiped out in a covert strike, undertaken by a team of American troops. After the team leader reports in to his home base, the Australians overhear him being ordered to take the camera and rangefinder to Diego Garcia, where Caldwell is awaiting to see them.
The American SEALs proceed to scuttle the Wuhan-II and depart in an aerosub, a submarine-seaplane hybrid that Jack hadn't thought anyone had perfected yet. At Abrahamson's questioning, Jack confirms that the Caldwell mentioned is most likely Garrett Caldwell, the leader of the Caldwell Group, and because of the lengths they just went through to get the camera and rangefinder, Jack suggests that that they intercept the aerosub and take the lander's data for themselves.
Since the aerosub is slower than a standard seaplane due to its own compromises, Jack is able to use his gull wings to glide over the craft as it passes nearby, and after landing on it empties a canister of knock-out gas into the aerosub's air pressure system. Once the SEALs have passed out, Jack takes the camera and lander before leaving the aerosub to resume its course so that when the craft eventually reaches Diego Garcia, the only things left inside are the groggy SEAL troops.
Jack returns to West Island and they begin trying to decrypt the images from the camera, however, the level of encryption means they are only able to view a static-riddled image of an altar on the moon's surface. Jack suggests that Abrahamson take the data back to Pine Gap, where the facility's decryption software will have a better time decrypting the images without the static and allow for proper analysis. Wally protests not being able to see them since he was the one who found them, though Jack reminds his friend that he's lucky enough to still be alive and to have seen this much, and suggests that he move away somewhere he won't be found again.
A week later, Jack makes his way to Pine Gap to further investigate the images, only for Abrahamson to be killed and Jack and his friends drugged and kidnapped before the matter can be brought up. During the Great Games, the Kings of Sea and Sky converse politely, but neither brings up the splashdown.
Meanwhile Wally, having taken Jack's suggestion and moved to an unknown location, continues to post online regarding his zombie satellite hunting finds.
- Jack West Jr
- Wally Ferguson
- Lily West
- General Eric Abrahamson
- Sky Monster (mentioned only)
- General Lau Lieping (mentioned only)
- Vulture Six
- Garrett Caldwell (mentioned only)
- Kenzo Depon (mentioned only)
- Seven Ancient Wonders
- The Six Sacred Stones
- The Five Greatest Warriors
- The Four Legendary Kingdoms
- The Three Secret Cities
- The Two Lost Mountains
- Jack West Jr and the Hero's Helmet
- Jack West Jr and the Chinese Splashdown
- Jack West Jr and the Chinese Splashdown is set between the events of The Five Greatest Warriors and The Four Legendary Kingdoms, akin to the Hell Island novella of the Scarecrow series, but features content relevant to the series' future stories.
- Just before the novel starts, an exert from The Three Secret Cities is included, noting part of the conversation between Mae and Hades. The exert itself has Mae question if the moon landings were real, to which Hades confirmed that they were, but the fourth landing was the important one. This suggests that the fourth lunar landing was a mission to locate the mysterious altar.
- Jack's method of extracting Wally from the Chinese, using a fighter plane's ejection seat to launch them into the air before being snagged by his plane's capture cable, is the same plan he improvised to ensure his, Lily and Iolanthe's escape from Diego Garcia in The Five Greatest Warriors.
- During the part set in 2006 after the Capstone mission, Lily is mentioned to be nine years-old. However, Lily was born in March 1996, while the main story of Seven Ancient Wonders took place in March 2006, and didn't start living with Jack until late April of the same year. Therefore, she she should in fact be aged 10, not nine.
- At the very end, Jack is mentioned to have arrived at Pine Gap to find it in ruins and Abrahamson dead before being kidnapped. However, The Four Legendary Kingdoms had Jack arrive at the facility and be debriefed on the approach of the Hydra galaxy before Redbeard killed Abrahamson as gas was leaked into the facility.