Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves is Matthew Reilly's tenth novel, and the fifth story to feature Shane Schofield.
This time, the U.S. Marine is sent to disable an old Soviet facility taken control of by a mysterious army.
During a routine re-staffing of Dragon Island, an old Soviet weapons installation in the Arctic, a Russian Spetsnaz team comes under fire from an unknown enemy. Vasily Ivanov, a researcher assigned to manage Dragon, manages to send out a distress signal before his plane is shot down. This distress signal is intercepted by an American listening station in Alaska.
Subsequently the President and the heads of American's security agencies are briefed on Dragon Island; it was once the cornerstone of Soviet weapons research, a place where cutting-edge weapons were designed by scientists with a blank cheque. It has now been seized by an organisation calling themselves the "Army of Thieves", led by the enigmatic Lord of Anarchy. Self-proclaimed anarchists, the Army is made up of enforcers of the Pinochet regime, Sudanese Janjaweed militants, Islamic fundamentalists and narco-terrorists. They are planning to unleash Dragon Island's centrepiece, known as the Tesla weapon. Experiments with rocket fuel and samples of acids acquired from the atmosphere of Venus have created a compound that, when ignited, can set fire to the atmosphere. The Army of Thieves have activated the preliminary stages of the Tesla weapon. The Russians launch a nuclear missile to destroy their own island, only for the Army to divert it back to its silo. Following this, the Americans are asked if they have any teams nearby who might be able to stop the Army of Thieves.
At this time, USMC Captain Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, has been reassgined to a small equipment-testing project in the Arctic with civilian contractors (including "Bertie", a mutli-functional, independently-intelligent robot). Although cleared for active duty, Schofield was seen as a liability by the Corps, and has spent most of his time teaching new recruits. His situation has been further complicated by an outstanding bounty on his head; although members of the Majestic-12 conspiracy are dead, the French government has offered to pay the bounty as retaliation for the events of Ice Station and Scarecrow. With him is Mother, Billy "the Kid" Thompson, Vittorio "Mario" Puzo, and the civilians Zack Weinberg, Emma Dawson, Jeff Hartigan and Chad.
Schofield's team is one of just two units close to Dragon Island; the other is a Navy SEAL team stationed on the USS Miami, a Los Angeles-class submarine. Ira "Ironbark" Barker, the leader of this unit, warns Schofield to stay away from Dragon Island or else risk being caught in the crossfire. Schofield decides to check out Ivanov's crashed plane, while Hartigan decides to remain at the team's camp. While Ivanov is found to still be alive, the SEAL insertion is a disaster, with every member of the team being killed off by the Army. The Army then attacks Schofield's team, however, they are interrupted by the arrival of a French submarine; the French government has sent an assassin known as Renard after Schofield. Realising the threat posed by the Army, Schofield saves Renard and two members of the French commando team sent after him, and they escape to a research facility on an islet near Dragon.
Renard reveals herself to be Veronique Champion, cousin to Luc Champion (a French researcher killed in Ice Station), and she agrees to help Schofield stop the Army, but pledges to kill him once the threat is over. Mother finds that one of the French troopers, Jean-Claude Francois Michel Huguenot, or Baba, is her match and is attracted to him despite her now rocky marriage to Ralph. They question Ivanov, who reveals that in order to fire the Tesla weapon, the Army needs to seed the atmosphere with the acid-rocket fuel mixture, before firing a battery of missiles armed with red uranium into the cloud. Schofield decides that their best option is to target the red uranium and dump the spheres into the Arctic Ocean.
As Schofield and his team begin to fight their way through the installation (resulting in the deaths of Chad and the other French trooper, Dubois), David Fairfax - his friend in the Defence Intelligence Agency - begins to research the Army and Dragon Island. He meets with Marianne Retter, who has been studying the Army since they first came to light, and they are both suspicious that an irregular army such as the Army of Thieves would be able to carry out a string of attacks against high-value targets to arm themselves. Their suspicions are confirmed when Retter is nearly kidnapped by CIA agents, leading them to discover they find that a CIA operative named Marius Calderon was writing about Dragon Island before the Soviet Union built anything there. The Lord of Anarchy is actually Calderon, the CIA's foremost expert on psychological operations and gifted with extraordinary foresight; Calderon predicted the rise of China as an economic superpower by 2010 as early as 1982. Calderon, with the CIA's approval, let the Soviet Union discover the plans to the Tesla weapon, and that the acid-rocket fuel mix will be distributed by the jetstream over China, India and Europe; once ignited, these regions will be decimated, but the United States will be relatively unaffected and able to preserve its position as the world's only economic superpower.
As they continue on, Schofield manages to come up with a plan to retrieve the red uranium spheres, and though they are successful and manage to reach a plane, it is damaged and unable to takeoff. Calderon reveals that he has another sphere (which Ivanov had claimed that no one else could know about, but due to his knowledge of the facility, Calderon did), and succeeds in firing a missile armed with the red uranium into the gas cloud, igniting it. But it is revealed that Ironbark survived the assault against his team, and was able to shut down the gas diffusion process long enough to create a safe zone, thereby limiting the ignition to only a few miles. Calderon realises he now needs Schofield's spheres, and in the subsequent assault, Ivanov is killed, Baba is captured, Zack, Emma and Mother are forced to flee with two of the spheres, and Veronique is injured. As their pane topples into the sea, Schofield manages to dispose of the other four spheres before he rescues Veronique and escapes.
While looking for a way back onto the island, Schofield and Veronique become close as they reveal their pasts; Veronique's husband was killed because of a woman informant she trusted, leading her to choose to become an asassin, and Schofield reveals that a psychologist named Brooke Ulacco helped him to deal with Gant's death. While being tracked by the Army, Mother creates a diversion for Zack and Emma to get away while she is captured. While attempting to sabotage the Army's missile battery, Mario is contacted by Calderon and offered to chance to defect, and shoots the Kid in the head. Schofield, after learning from Fairfax about Calderon and his plans, manages to get back onto Dragon, leaving Veronique in an old whaling village, but he is quickly captured and knocked out.
He and his team are tortured by Calderon - Mother, Baba and Hartigan (who was taken earlier from the team's camp) have their heads locked in wooden boxes with hungry rats, while Ironbark is electrocuted - while Calderon forces Schofield to watch and plays their tortured cries across Dragon to try and draw Zack and Emma out, whom are soon captured along with the last two spheres. Calderon, believing that he has broken Schofield's spirit, then has Schofield electrocuted and takes his signature sunglasses as a prize. However before his body is dumped into a furnace, Bertie (who had earlier been thought to have been destroyed) resucitates him and gives him Veronique's weapons, allowing him to fight back agains the Army.
Schofield finds that Mother and Baba have survived by biting the heads off the rats locked in with them (Hartigan was not so lucky) and free Zack, but Emma has been taken by a member of the Army, Bad Willy. They then give chase to Calderon before he can either launch the final missile, or detonate a warhead on board a cargo plane, but Zack instead goes after Emma and manages to kill Bad Willy. Mother and baba sabotage the megatrain carrying the last missile, and before they crash into the ocean, Mother decides that she is happy with Ralph. Schofield kills Mario and Calderon's second-in-command Typhon, while Calderon escapes by ejecting a stolen mini-submersible from his plane while preparing the plane to ignite in the gas cloud. Schofield manages to ejects the last missile from the plane before it can ignite the gas cloud.
However with Calderon having disabled the uplink that prevented the Russians from successful missile strikes before departure (having intended to allow the Russians to destroy the Army once he had no more use of them) the Russian government authorises a missile strike on Dragon Island, unaware of Schofield's success. Schofield races back to the facility and gathers Veronique, Zack and Emma in a nuclear bunker hidden under a laboratory. The missile destroys Dragon Island and kills the remnants of the Army of Thieves. Schofield and his team are found alive and well several days later, having survived the blast, as did Mother and Baba.
Schofield, his team, Fairfax and Retter are commended by the President for their actions, and the CIA claims that Calderon's submarine failed and he was found dead, while Veronique has convinced the French government to lift the bounty on Schofield since his actions saved France in addition to China and Russia. At Ulacco and Mother's suggestion, and having come to terms with Gant's death, Schofield goes on a date with Veronique. However, upon returning to the Marine barracks, he finds his stolen sunglasses in his room, implying that Calderon is alive.
- Captain Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield
- Gunnery Sergeant Gena "Mother" Newman
- Corporal Billy "the Kid" Thompson
- Lance-Corporal Vittorio "Mario" Puzo
- Zack Weinberg
- Emma Dawson
- BRTE-500 / Bertie
- Veronique "Renard" Champion
- Master Sergeant Jean-Claude "Le Barbarian / Baba" Francois Michel Hugueno
- Sergeant Dubois
- Vasily Ivanov
Army of ThievesEdit
- Marius "Lord of Anarchy" Calderon
- Colonel Typhon
- Captain Hammerhead
- Captain Mako
- White Tip
- Wilhelm "Bad Willy" Mauser
- Big Jesus
- David Fairfax
- Jeff Hartigan
- Specialist Ira "Ironbark" Barker
- Marianne Retter
- Brooke Ulacco
- The President of the United States
- Deputy Director Alicia Gordon
- Lucas Bowling
- Ralph Newman
- Polar Bears (U. maritimus)
- Despite being released eight years following Scarecrow, it is suggested that Army of Thieves takes place within months of Scarecrow and Hell Island, even though many real-life events and technological updates (as of 2011) are referenced, implying that the Scarecrow Series may exist within a floating timeline.