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Literature / Rainbow Six

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The ninth Jack Ryan novel written by Tom Clancy, and the tenth one chronologically, it was published in 1998 and takes place in 2000.

Legendary CIA operative John Clark creates an international counter-terrorism taskforce named RAINBOW. Composed of American, British, French and German soldiers, RAINBOW is the cream of the crop. Little do they know that their first few terrorist attacks are masterminded by a sinister corporation with designs that threaten the lives of everyone on Earth. Only John Clark (AKA Rainbow Six), his son-in-law Domingo "Ding" Chavez and the RAINBOW teams can prevent the end of the world as we know it.

Originally not related to the series of games by the same name, it was decided during development to base them on Tom Clancy's upcoming book. Both versions (including the first game's remake, Shadow Vanguard) feature a similar plot, though obviously the book offers more detail, including the point of view of the villains.


In 2017, it was announced that a Rainbow Six film will be spearheaded by Paramount, with Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec as the writers. In 2018, it was reported that the novel wil be made into a film after Without Remorse.

Rainbow Six offers examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Dmitriy Arkadeyevich Popov is very polite, even-tempered and enjoys a good conversation despite being responsible for three terrorist attacks that he was paid to instigate. Most of the members of the Project are this, as well - they fawn over cute rats, are active environmentalists, and want to destroy the world via a horrible flesh-eating virus. When the Project members are ambushed in Australia, the Rainbow members present note that the end of the world would've been brought to them by two unassuming everymen.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Homer Johnston delivers a deliberately fatal and painful gut shot to a terrorist who had previously murdered a cancer-ridden little girl.
  • A.K.A.-47: In a rare lapse, "the new version of the venerable MP-5, chambered instead for the 10-mm Smith & Wesson cartridge" is erroneously referred to after this line as the "MP-10"; it's actually the MP5/10, the "MP-10" designation instead used for a clone from the Philippines-based Special Weapons. There has been considerable debate regarding this given the usual amount of attention given to these kinds of details, with Clancy himself saying at one point that he had personally seen and fired the MP-10.
    • Rainbow's main sidearm is a Beretta pistol in .45 caliber. No model name is ever mentioned, but it is likely the Beretta 8045 Cougar, which was the only .45 caliber pistol Beretta had in production at the time of the novel's publication.
    • Team One sniper Fred Franklin uses a "MacMillan" .50 caliber sniper rifle. The actual name of the manufacturer is spelled "McMillan." Interestingly, McMillan didn't have a .50 caliber rifle in production until the TAC-50 was released in 2000, two years after the novel was published (although the company had been in the process of developing a .50 caliber rifle years earlier, so Clancy may have been aware of the prototypes).
  • Always Someone Better: Early in the novel, Ding finds himself doubting his capabilities when he sees that he's the least fit and worst shot (he's not bad, it's just that everyone else is insanely good) in Team-2.
  • Apocalypse How: A genetically engineered strain of the Ebola virus is designed intentionally to wipe out 99% of humanity, save for a "chosen few".
  • Artistic License: The chronology of this story doesn't line up with a plot point from the previous novels. Debt of Honor and Executive Orders both explicitly take place during a Presidential election year, and this book mentions that they happened at about a year before. But the Summer Olympics are a key event in this novel, and those are on the same four year cycle as the US Presidential elections. Which means that either all three must have happened in the same year despite explicit statements to the contrary, or this takes place a full election cycle later, which contradicts statements about the chronology in later novels.
  • Badass Bookworm: Tim Noonan, the tech expert, who shoots as well as the shooters of both Rainbow team and kills three terrorists during the PIRA attack.
  • Badass Bystander: During a terrorist attack on an amusement park, one of the performers dressed as a Roman Centurion attacks one of the gun-wielding terrorists and injures him with a spatha. Every one of the Rainbow team make a point of shaking his hand before they leave.
  • Badass Crew: The whole point of Rainbow, formed from parts of various Badass Armies, though they are portrayed as realistically badass and very, very mortal.
  • BFG: Franklin's "MacMillan" .50 caliber anti-materiel rifle is used to decapitate an IRA member and disable their escape vehicle.
    • Oso's M60 machine gun, which he laments he never gets to use until the final fight, where he shoots out windows with it.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • To a degree. Dieter Weber shoots the machine pistol a terrorist is holding, which doesn't knock it out of the terrorist's hands, but blows the gun in half. It's noted that it's not to non-lethally knock it away (it hurts the terrorist), but it's to let Homer Johnston line him up for a gut shot in revenge for executing a small child.
    • Earlier in the book, it is noted that this is explicitly against Rainbow policy, as it is assumed that terrorists carry back ups, which is often a grenade. And indeed, Ding chews both snipers out on this later, even if he understands why Dieter and Homer did it and lets them off with just a warning this one time.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Rainbow soldiers are trained to aim for the head when hostages are present. They also shoot people in the head as a matter of practicality (the only time they aim for the torso is in the finale).
    • Sole exception prior to the finale: one of the Rainbow snipers shoots a terrorist in the liver, leaving him to die a slow and painful death. This terrorist is the same one who murdered the little girl in the wheelchair, so it's quite clear why he did it. He is chastised only slightly afterward, because Rainbow policy is to kill the terrorists, not make a statement with their deaths; it's unprofessional.
  • Bury Your Gays: "Fabian", implied to be Ernst Model's homosexual lover, is killed by Popov when the later returns to Model's hideout for the money. While the fact that their relationship is only a guess on Popov's part, Popov's suspicions that the two are gay lovers actually makes it easier for him to murder Fabian in cold blood for the money as he has "no love for people of that orientation".
  • Canada, Eh?: Puts in a brief appearance as the RCMP who pick up the would-be Basque terrorists who tried to hijack the plane that Clark and Chavez happen to be on, but otherwise ignored.
  • The Captain: Ding for Team-2, Covington for Team-1.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tim's heartbeat detector, as well as his cellphone jamming software.
    • Eddie Price's habit of smoking a pipe after a successful mission. By the end of the third terrorist incident Popov had caught on from this that Rainbow is not the country's police or special forces, but covert ops.
  • Code Name:
    • Rainbow Six: John Clark
    • Rainbow Five: Alistair Stanley
    • Bear: Dan Malloy
    • Rifle Two-One: Homer Johnson
    • Rifle Two-Two: Dieter Weber
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Sean Grady is one of the UK's most wanted terrorists and the SAS has a very special hatred of him as he captured and tortured three SAS members in the past.
  • Cold Sniper: Dieter Weber is a taciturn, utterly unflappable German who can shoot the gun out of a man's hand from across an amusement park and is described as the most physically fit of the whole team. He even speaks English without a trace of an accent, something his American and British coworkers find eerie.
  • Colonel Badass: Ding and Covington fit the spot, though not the ranks.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Recognizing that something goes against the grain is how Rainbow and Popov figure out there's an organized enemy gunning for them.
    • Terrorist incidents occurring within weeks or a month of each other was unheard of by Rainbow, which sets them looking for someone who could coax terrorists out of hiding.
    • Even though each country is claiming their special forces cleaned up the incidents, Popov notices that there's always a soldier with a very specific way of smoking a pipe in the footage. He starts considering an international team in his deliberations.
    • Popov spilling the beans entirely to Clark about Horizon's goals, and Team-2 just happening to be at the Sydney Olympics at the time, is pretty convenient.
  • Cop Killer: Foster Hunnicutt does a "smile-and-wink" admission to murdering a fish and game officer while he was living in Montana and illegally hunting during the off-season and said officer tried to cite him for it. This is one of the first indications to Popov that Horizon's "Project" is seriously bad news if it has no problems having a cop killer as one of its top men.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Horizon Corporation is an example of a Corporate Conspiracy motivated by ideology, as it is secretly an Eco-Terrorist group that plans to mitigate the inevitable fall of human civilization by quickening it through a genetically-engineered strain of the Ebola virus to wipe out 99% of humanity.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Played with - John Brightling isn't corrupt, and is honest in dealings and making pharmaceuticals that work. He also wants to murder the Earth via horrible virus.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the book's climax, the ecoterrorists send out untrained, inadequately armed squads of men against a crack counterterrorist team with sensors capable of pinpointing their exact location. Of thirty sent against eight, four survive, and more would've died if one of the terrorists hadn't fired his gun when he was killed. The Rainbow troopers are never in serious danger, and only realize after the fact that it was functionally murder instead of a combat action.
  • Dashing Spaniard: Francisco De La Cruz, who attempts to kill a terrorist with an UZI using only a sword, injuring him. Every single member of Rainbow makes a point of shaking his hand after they finish the mission.
  • Death by Sex: Part of the villains' testing of their lethal-if-not-vaccinated biological agent involves getting uninfected captives to have sex with infected ones while both sides are drugged with aphrodisiacs. True to form, said virus can be spread by intercourse.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Shiva virus.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The Shiva virus is initially tested on the homeless by men posing as the local charity group.
  • Double Tap: Rainbow uses the "MP-10" (actually the MP5/10) as their primary weapon set to 3-round burst mode, and terrorists generally take multiple rounds to drop. The most classic example of this tactic is when Tim Noonan ambushes 3 PIRA terrorists; while he is able to kill two of them with headshots due to the element of surprise, the third man requires a Mozambique Drill to put down: two to the chest and one to the head.
  • The Dragon: Willian Henriksen is one for Brightling.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Let it be known that Irish terrorists aren't known for their driving skills. Among the vehicles that get involved: two Jaguars, a moving van, and a Black Hawk.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Horizon is a world threatening terrorist version of this trope: utilizing a Batman Gambit in setting off attacks to gain attention, then getting their own soldiers as security to unleash a virus to wipe out the human race, then spreading said virus masked as a vaccine after the initial outbreak.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Rainbow is made up of Special Forces commandos from around the world (Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Green Berets, Mossad, Special Air Service, GSG-9, and Delta Force).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Popov will organize terrorist attacks, get people who trust him killed, murder, and steal, but even he balks at The Project's plan - despite being safe from it, learning that it's meant to kill the vast majority of humanity prompts his Heel–Face Turn, shooting the Horizon exec who told him this and running to warn Clark and Rainbow of what they are planning.
    • He also makes sure Clark understands that he had nothing to do with the attack on the amusement park, which resulted in the death of a little girl.
    • This very trope is how Paul Bellow tries to negotiate with the last PIRA holdouts in the hospital assault. Bellow plays a lot on their morality, specifically that of Timothy O'Neal, trying to convince him that their actions are not that of a soldier, but of criminals and killers. After surrendering, O'Neal vehemently denies Ding's accusation that they were planning to rape Patricia Chavez during the hospital assault, and insists the PIRA does not and has never done anything like that.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Clark and Ding are hardened special forces badasses who've done many questionable things. Clark in particular has carried out creatively vicious Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. Nevertheless, they find the Curb-Stomp Battle against the ecoterrorists so one-sided it's pure murder.
    • Clark says, in the wake of the IRA ambush on the Rainbow compound, all the investigators involved who were sympathetic to their cause weren't as sympathetic when they found out this branch of the IRA ran drugs.
  • Evil, Inc.: Horizon; however, this is revealed in the epilogue to have only been the case with the top executives, as after they are gone, Horizon goes on to produce an effective method of stopping heart attacks and age-delaying medication.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: The Horizon executives get to experience the wonderful jungle without any tools (or clothes!) as a means to commune with nature. Clark notes that jungle survival is tough as nails for him, a hardened Navy vet, even with state-of-the-art survival gear, and gives them a month to live, tops. Sure enough, satellite recon shows none of them got out of the jungle.
  • The Fettered: Dr. Weiler, staff physician for Worldpark. The terrorist who killed the little girl in the wheelchair, who was shot in the liver and left to die slowly and painfully, is lying in front of him. Dr. Weiler treated that little girl and was enraged to the point of Tranquil Fury over her death. No one present will say a word if he just leaves the guy to die, or is even a little slow in responding. The good doctor hesitates exactly zero seconds before opening his medical bag and doing his best to save his patient's life, and after determining that his wounds are too severe to allow him any hope of survival, gives him a morphine shot so that he won't die in pain. One of the watching soldiers is both simultaneously disappointed that Dr. Weiler is doing anything other than letting the terrorist bastard suffer in agony and respecting the hell out of him for his personal integrity.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: "Team Rainbow," a collection of the World's Biggest badasses.
  • Former Regime Personnel: Popov, who is Ex-KGB.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After the Bern mission, Dr. Bellow explains to Chavez the difference between "Bad Terrorists" - like the one they just faced - and "Good Terrorists". The good ones believe in their ideology in much the same way an adult at church does, and are far more careful about how they approach a task, but devoted to what they do and go all in. The very next group of terrorists Rainbow faces, of course, matches that exact definition.
    • After the mission at the mansion, and with now two successful missions and no casualties (during Rainbow's involvement), Ding feels pretty good. Dr. Bellow and Clark both warn him that the day may come where he has to let the terrorists kill a hostage, because the situation doesn't allow them to act without risking more casualties. This happens in the next mission, where a child hostage is executed while Ding and Covington are scouting the area right around the corner.
  • Four-Star Badass: John Clark has effectively earned the simulated rank of a Major General as thanks for his years of service.
  • Friendly Sniper: Both Team Two snipers are like this.
  • Fun with Acronyms: M.I.C.E, which stands for Money, Ideology, Conscience and Ego, the motivating factors that drive people to action. Popov tries to apply this to his boss, but finds that short of eliminating the first and last as possibilities, he doesn't know enough to apply the second and third.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Team Rainbow celebrates each successful mission at a local pub.
  • Good Is Not Soft: A Discussed Trope and largely played straight in the novel, subverted in the games. It's addressed that every member of Rainbow is a family man, Ding's wife, a doctor, is upset that he's a soldier and killer and he tries to rationalize his job, and the team always try for a non violent solution and take it when they can. When it comes down to taking out the Big Bad, Rainbow feels no joy and a little disgust that who they fight is just not good at fighting at all, refuse to surrender and are only too happy to go out in a blaze of glory despite being completely outmatched.
  • Helicopter Blender: Lampshaded and averted, in a scene where a terrorist leader is escaping down the freeway in a Jaguar, and Rainbow's unarmed transport helicopter is the only unit available at the moment to pursue him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Covington and Team-1. Most of Team-1 go unnamed. Covington himself gets to assist in a few incidents And gets ambushed by the bad guy along with Team-1.
  • Hypocrite: The ecoterrorists have this in spades, with relentless lampshading. As just one example, they have chosen the Hummer, one of the most fuel inefficient vehicles in existence, as their main mode of transportation for their bases in Kansas and Manaus, Brazil. Considering that these people supposedly love nature so much, you'd think they'd pick something more economical.
    • There's also the fact that they denounce modern human life as being at odds with pure, good nature, yet seemingly think nothing of the fact that they benefit from modern human innovation. For instance, their headquarters weren't made from tar and twigs, after all. Being villains, they probably Hand Wave this as a necessary evil to achieve their goals. They do explicitly note that they don't personally have to be as careful with nature, since the "large-scale" destruction won't be going on much longer.
    • Foster Hunicutt killed a fishing and game officer who found out he had been hunting during the off season. Yes, the militant environmentalist killed a law enforcement officer who caught him breaking laws meant to protect the environment. He retains his position in their ecoterrorist ranks, and they regard the story as an amusing anecdote best heard over drinks.
    • And, of course, the Irish terrorists claim to be anti-drug, but they deal cocaine as a way of funding their operations.
  • Idiot Ball: The ecoterrorists flee the U.S. for South America, looking to stay out of American hands long enough to bring a legal defense into play, despite the fact that being inside the US was their only protection against being hunted down by the military, who have far fewer restrictions than American law enforcement. For example, they aren't required to read you your Miranda rights before leaving you in the jungle to die.
    • One can handwave it in that their plan just fell apart at the very last minute, and they had no contingencies to either being found out and the plan failing, so late in the game, so they figure taking some distance to build their legal defense. They also likely never figured RAINBOW would immediately muster against them - prior to this RAINBOW had only responded to incident in progress. They are in fact sort of right in their expectation - Clark is told the military won't move right away, but RAINBOW can. It's an idiotic decision made on wrong assumptions by people out of their elements who are panicking.
    • Rainbow itself has one. Before the IRA attack, Rainbow gets a conversation between the head spook of the UK Russian Embassy and his superior mentioning that Popov is looking up Clark and RAINBOW. They also have a picture of a man whom they are fairly certain is Popov (it is). They also have Popov's full name and know he's a retired KGB guy who handled terrorists. They also have an idea that someone, most likely ex-KGB, is going around activating old terrorist cells and groups and sending them on missions that are doomed to fail. After the IRA attack, the surviving terrorists mention that they were hired by a man called Serov, whose first and middle names are very close (and share initials) with Popov. None of Rainbow's members ever consider linking the two investigations and make the logical link that Serov is Popov. No, the mystery is unraveled when Popov himself tells Clark.
  • I Have Your Wife: the IRA terrorists take Clark and Chavez's wives hostage at the hospital they work in.
  • Instant Death Bullet: This generally happens only with large-caliber bullets, usually fired from a sniper rifle at the head. One notable example that happens with a handgun is when Popov takes Hunnicutt's revolver and kills him with a single shot. In this case, this is because the firearm in question is a Colt M1873 revolver chambered in .44-40 and he shot him at near point-blank range in the heart.
  • Invisible President: Despite this taking placing during Ryan's presidency, he does not appear or get mentioned by name. He is only referred to as 'The President'. Despite this, it's pretty clear that he is the president in question, as some political appointees he selected during Executive Orders do appear in the book, as are references to the events in that novel.
    • In one scene, Dan Murray refers to the President as "Jack" but does not say his last name.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Invoked. As part of a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, Ding Chavez employs this style, threatening to chop off the penis of an IRA member, so that John Clark can seemingly talk him down.
  • Karma Houdini: The instigator of terrorists for the whole plot, Popov. Despite getting people that trusted him killed, and despite organizing the death of several Team-1 members, he gets away unpunished. In fact, he becomes rich(er), thanks to taking over a ranch from one of the Horizon executives that's sitting on a considerable gold deposit; the previous owner refused to open a mine on the property since it would affect the environment (needless to say, Popov does not care about the environment).
  • Karmic Death: The villains are ecoterrorist nuts who believe Earth would be better off without evil humans destroying everything with war and pollution. They construct a survival compound in the South American rainforest and plan to sit out the apocalypse they have set into motion. In the end, Rainbow destroys their base and leaves them stranded in the wilderness they loved so much to fend for themselves. The epilogue suggests this didn't end well for them.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Oso is often mentioned as being the largest, most musclebound member of RAINBOW yet Ding often notices how this does not slow him at all, or make him any less nimble. As a terrorist learns when Oso comes down a rope, kicking a window and landing on top of him in perfect balance before punching then shooting said terrorist dead.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: The terrorists at the theme park specifically launched the attack for this purpose, to pressure the French into releasing their worst prisoners, even killing a sick girl to stop Rainbow from launching a rescue effort and threaten to kill more if their unreasonable demands are not met, to the point of not allowing time for them to be met. Dieter and Homer plan to shoot the terrorist responsible for the girl's death in the stomach, Ding halfheartedly calls them out on it and John allows it when he's worked it out, but brings up them acting out of policy as a matter of coursenote .
  • Majorly Awesome: Ding's simulated rank (simulated because Rainbow is technically not military) is Major.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Invoked by Popov when recruiting terrorists from left-wing radical, formerly Soviet-backed groups to convince them that by carrying out the raids he's recruiting them for, they'd be front line soldiers of a much larger cause. Technically, Popov never lies to them - yes, they would be serving a much larger purpose by signing up with him, yes, he is only the front man for much more powerful backers, and no, he will not tell them who these backers are. He does, however, heavily imply that they are hard-liners working to restore communism in the former Soviet Union, rather than wealthy capitalists pursuing a genocidal eco-terrorist agenda. He doesn't even know that last bit himself.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Popov's greatest talent is arguably this - he knows exactly what to say to people to get them to do what he wants. He tailors a story to every one of the terrorist teams he sends out based on their personality to make sure they will take the mission. And he even does this on his own bosses (despite, by his own words, having trouble understanding their motivations and actions, originally because he assumes they come from a capitalist culture). He manages to say the right things to weasel his way into their plans and eventually get one of them to spill the entire scheme. Even after revealing all the stuff he's done to Clark, the man comes out the other side free and rich.
  • Mauve Shirt: Team-1, to Team-2. Only a handful of them are named, and those with names are either fine or simply injured during the PIRA ambush.
  • The Men First: John Clark believes in this.
  • Mugging the Monster: Early in the novel, terrorists attempt to hijack a plane transporting three Rainbow operatives: former US Navy SEAL, former British SAS, and former US Army Special Forces, respectively. They're also licensed to carry firearms on airplanes.
    • The PIRA terrorists who are tasked with killing the members of RAINBOW - a multinational anti-terrorist task force. It ends up for them as well as it sounds - though they do kill a few Team-1 members (none of them named characters) and injure some others.
  • Multinational Team: The titular Rainbow organization. Just as well - they're specifically an international anti-terror team, who appear when countries can't send in their own special forces for any reason.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Horizon's plot involves staging a number of terrorist attacks to convince Australian government to grant a security contract for the Sydney Olympics to them, which would give them an opportunity spread the Shiva virus. However, the Australian government also requests Rainbow to be present at the games as well to provide counter-terrorist security.
  • Nom de Guerre: Dan "Bear" Malloy, and Julio "Oso" Vega.
  • No Such Agency: Officially all Rainbow's operations were performed by special forces units loyal to the country they occurred in. Unfortunately various commonalities between the operations eventually lead Popov to the realization that they're all one unit.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: John Brightling. He believes human civilization is doomed to collapse within a century anyway, so he plots to hasten its demise with a genetically-engineered Ebola outbreak, engineering a "controlled crash" so that it won't inflict mass ecological devastation on the way out, and ensuring that his handpicked followers will survive the fall.
  • One Steve Limit: An aversion with Timothy Noonan, who is Rainbow's tech guy, and Timothy O'Neal, one of the PIRA terrorists. There's also John Clark and John Brightling.
  • Only in It for the Money: Popov is entirely motivated by getting enough money to live like a king for the rest of his life. He goes along with his new employer's strange requests since Popov can take both his high consultant salary and the money he was supposed to pay the terrorist teams with, once they inevitably fail.
  • Overranked Soldier: Command of Rainbow is regarded as a Major General's posting, with team leadership being a Major's posting. This despite the fact that the entire unit, including support staff, is company sized at best, with both teams of field operatives combined making a platoon's worth of soldiers. Clark and Chavez actually expected to ranked as Colonel and Captain, respectively. All the enlisted shooters in the unit are various flavors of sergeant, but this is justified by the fact that they're all special forces soldiers on loan from their home units, and in order to even be considered for a spec-ops posting, you need to have served at least one tour of duty with distinction, which naturally brings some promotions with it.
  • Papa Wolf: All the men of Rainbow are fathers and become especially worked up during the Worldpark operation because the hostages are children. Once the rescue is complete, the operators fuss over the children and insist on treating the few minor scratches themselves.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Homer's shooting of the terrorist in the liver for the murder of the girl in the wheelchair. Gut shots are extremely painful, and the team is disappointed when the medics apply painkillers to the wound.
    • Early in the novel, Clark and Stanley relate the story of an Ethiopian airline that was hijacked by terrorists. The Ethiopian air marshals subdued the hijackers and cut their throats right on the plane. No one has ever messed with that airline since.
  • Pen-Pushing President: John Clark laments that he's a bureaucrat and not an elite counter-terrorism soldier like his men. Rainbow jumps out of helicopters and trains to put bullets between eyes with perfect accuracy, Rainbow Six sits at his desk and has to justify the dollar value of each bullet.
  • Pink Mist: Clancy, for all your realistically gory headshot descriptions. This is especially prevalent in Rainbow Six, because counter-terrorists are always trained to go for the head. When PIRA terrorist Roddy Sands gets shot with a .50 caliber bullet, the text explicitly notes his entire head above his jaw is gone.
  • Real Person Cameo: Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (a.k.a Carlos the Jackal) appears as a minor character in the story. He tries to get his terrorist comrades to secure his release from prison by taking innocent people hostage. But thanks to RAINBOW they are unsuccessful.
  • Red Herring: Actually played in-universe. At one point, Popov wonders if his backer is hiring him to flush the world's remaining Soviet terrorists out of hiding to be slaughtered by the elite Counter-terrorism teams of Europe, as a sort of agent provocateur or stalking horse, because those terrorists had wronged his boss somehow. After researching his employer, Popov realizes he's not serving a vendetta against terrorism by proxy, but his employer is somehow benefiting from the aftermaths of the terrorist attacks themselves.
  • Red Shirt: RAINBOW's only casualties are two members of Team-1, who are conveniently never named.
    • Redshirt Army: Only three members of Team-1 actually are named in the story, the rest are completely unnamed. And pretty much the only time Team-1's nameless members take part in the action, they get ambushed, several are injured or killed.
  • Renegade Russian: Popov, an intelligence mercenary of sorts who started being a "consultant" to terrorist groups after the USSR dissolved, manages to pull this off twice.
  • Serial Escalation: The terrorist threats that Rainbow deal with have a steady progression in terms of both scope and danger, with the first group of terrorists being bumbling buffoons, to the last being the PIRA of Ireland.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The terrorists faced through the book fit the trope to a tee. Each subsequent terrorist raises the bar in terms of skill, danger posed, and even in terms of "Evil".
    • The first group of terrorists in the prologue are so inept their plan had no chance of success in the first place; the person they were trying to kidnap wasn't even on the plane and they didn't check for this before pulling their guns. They had no prior experience, managed to do nothing more than temporarily hijack the plane, and were quickly thwarted by equally unprepared people of superior skills.
    • Ernst Model is also inept, but is more dangerous and actually kills a hostage. Ultimately his own sociopathy and hair trigger temper are what sinks his own operation. He's taken out by Rainbow on their first mission and serves as a Warmup Boss to Ding, who at this point is struggling with confidence issues over his own command skills due to working with people with more solid anti-terrorist experience than him, like his own number 2 and the head of Team-1.
    • The Communist couple fit Dr. Bellow's earlier description of "Good Terrorists"; they are the first whom, ignoring their goals which they were tricked into by Popov, don't commit obvious tactical blunders. They, for the first time in the story, pose a challenge to Rainbow as they realize they forgot to acquire a helicopter, forcing them to improvise. While less kill-crazy than Ernst, they have far more ideological dedication to Communism and thus will not even consider backing out, refusing to negotiate or give up their hostages at all. While Ernst killed when he lost his cool, these are ready to kill anything and anyone between them and their goal.
    • The terrorists at the Amusement Park are again a step up, being the largest group encountered so far, have the largest amount of potential hostages, and tied to a Real Life terrorist of known danger and skill (The Jackal). They show there are no lines they will not cross to accomplish their goals when they take sick children hostage and then execute one. They also pick the most complex locale for Rainbow to assault. For the first time both teams deploy.
    • The PIRA is a known terrorist group earlier used to build the Badass credentials of several Rainbow members who had previously spent years fighting them. They also have even more members than the previous group. They target Rainbow itself, and are willing to resort to morally dubious plans to achieve this; targeting their families and hitting a hospital. They are defeated almost entirely through the luck of Noonan having just acquired software to block cellphone communication, killing their ability to coordinate their forces, and their lack of knowledge that there are two Rainbow teams, not just one - so that when they ambush Team-1, they are unaware that Team-2 is just up the road. They push Team-2 to the limit, forcing them to go in without a plan at all. They are also the only group to actually wound and kill Rainbow members.
    • Then the main villains, who seek to kill the entire human race (except themselves). They are only thwarted because their plans are so horrific Popov is willing to risk exposing himself to Rainbow and Clark (whose wife he had just arranged a mission against) than let them complete their mission... but they are only the most dangerous due to their plan, as they are actually the weakest enemy in direct combat.
    • Each foe the teams face is also larger than the last. The hijackers have three men, then Ernst's team has four. The couple that raid the private home have themselves and four mercenaries. The team that attacks the amusement park has ten, the PIRA has fifteen. The group in the jungle at the end has fifty four, though only thirty five actually fight.
  • The Squad: Team-1 and Team-2. Especially the later.
  • Strawman Political: John Brightling's circle, who are extremist environmentalists literally engineering the death of the human race due to ecological motives. No sympathetic character takes their motives even slightly seriously, and Carol Brighton in particular is subjected to condescending paternalism from the very administration that hired her to lead the EPA, unintentionally making similar strawmen out of their adversaries.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Dmitri Popov sets up a Swiss Bank Account for the terrorists he's hired, as a secure way to transfer their payment to them. Once it becomes obvious that they're going to fail at the mission, he transfers all their money to an account he set up for himself.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When they realize they have been found out, the Horizon executives flee to a South American compound. What do they do when they find out that Rainbow, a team of highly trained special forces soldiers are after them? Send out groups of men armed with G3 assault rifles and with zero combat experience (who are under the impression that their years of hunting game in woodlands and savannahs that are nothing like the jungle puts them on the level of a special forces sniper) into the jungle to hunt them down! What can possibly go wrong?
    • Extra dumb points are awarded for them because in this continuity, the last group of people who attacked the US with biowarfare — very recently in-universe — set off a chain of events that ended with the US government making a public threat to use nuclear weapons if their terms of unconditional surrender were not immediately met, something the US government hasn't done since World War II. Brightling's group, which included a former senior supervisory special agent of the FBI and a former Presidential cabinet advisor, should not have for a nanosecond believed that refusal to surrender to law enforcement custody immediately would result in anything less than their certain deaths at the hands of a full-scale US military assault — which almost is what happens to them.
  • Twenty Minutes In The Future: One of the few novels that specifically tells us when it takes place, the events in the book happen largely through early- to mid-2000 and eventually center on the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: John Brightling's goal.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The book has a tendency to repeat certain points over and over. Such as the villain's goals, or just how gosh darn elite the members of Rainbow are.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Clark muses on this principle as one of the difficulties of running an antiterrorism unit.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Brightling's group wants to save nature... and will kill all humans to do it.
  • Western Terrorists: The novel involves Spanish and French Fascists, German Communists, and the IRA who are all (except the fascists) being backed by an eco-terrorist corporation trying to unleash The End of the World as We Know It. There's also a Basque splinter group in the prologue.
    • The books is, in its vision of terrorist threat, very "90s". More concerned with the IRA and remnants of communist groups from the previous decade, and various regional independence armed groups. No mention is made of Islamic terrorism (Which wasn't exactly unknown at the time, the first World Trade Center attacks having occurred). Rainbow's training and entire philosophy is based around terrorists who take hostages to make demands or advance a point, and not those who, say, are solely concerned with killing as many innocents as possible. Ironically, the main villains in terms of methodology are much closer to this model. Still, reading this book post 9/11 is sort of jarring in its vision of what the world threat on terrorism in 2000 should've been.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A subplot that goes nowhere involves NYPD detectives investigating the kidnapping of one of the girls who became a test subject of the villains, eventually dying of their engineered plague. That investigation leads them to finding a probable culprit... but with nothing but circumstantial evidence the subplot just sort of ends there. All that plot ever brings up is later in the book when Popov gives out the entire scheme to Clark, one of the detectives recognizes one of the names Popov mentions as being the suspected kidnapper, which has no real effect on the plot since at that point no one knows of the human trial tests the villains did.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Invoked – albeit (presumably) involuntarily – when a freed Swiss hostage describes one of the hostage-takers' accents as: "Mixed. Something of Hamburg, but something of Bavaria, too." Not only is this linguistically implausiblenote , but it also hardly describes what that accent or dialect is supposed to sound like. Translated into an US-example that would be like saying: "He spoke with a bit of a Brooklyn accent, but there was some Downtown-L.A. in it, too."
  • Xanatos Gambit: Regardless of whether the eco-terrorist corporation backed terrorists succeeded or failed in their goals Horizon Corporation would still benefit (the real goal was to increase awareness of terrorism so the conspirators' front company would get the security contract for the Olympic Games where they planned to unleash the Shiva Virus).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Subverted, as Horizon allows Popov in on their "chosen" group of survivors as reward for his help - unfortunately for them, he turns out to find their end goal so completely horrible that he immediately tells Rainbow about it.


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