When fear becomes a weapon...When a few good men go bad...America will be consumed by the fire that burns within.
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5:50 P.m., Thursday, March 4,The White House, Washington, D.C.
Three men clustered around the TV in the President's private office in the west wing. The sound was turned low and the voice of the reporter at the scene was only a murmur. The grisly image on the screen said more than any words could describe. The President hit the remote control and turned off the sound. The silence was complete as the men continued to stare at the screen. "Do they have a casualty count yet?" the President finally asked.
Kyle Broderick, the chief of staff, picked up the phone and asked the same question. He didn't like the answer. Broderick was a young man, hard and street savvy, who delighted in using the power that went with being the President's chief of staff. "I want a hard number in the next five minutes or you're history." He punched off the connection and turned to the President. "Sorry, sir. Everyone seems asleep at the wheel." Almost immediately, the phone rang. Broderick picked it up and listened. He hung up without saying a word. "The initial count is over two hundred and rising fast," he told the President.
"You'll have to go there," the Vice President said to the President. He was a handsome man who had his eye on the presidency in five years. But first, they had to survive the upcoming election. He looked at his watch "Time your arrival for early in the morning while it's still dark. Make it look like you've been up all night. We'll work the networks at this end and have you lead the morning news."
The President nodded in agreement. Again, they staredat the TV. The silence was broken by the distinctive beat of a helicopter's rotor as the aircraft settled to earth on the South Lawn. "That must be Nelson," the President said. A few minutes later, the door opened and a stocky man with thinning brown hair was ushered in. Nelson Durant was fifty-four, and his rumpled clothes gave no clue about who, or what, he was. He was average looking in the extreme and could disappear into a crowd with ease. His image shouted "wimp" but his blue eyes carried a far different message. "Thanks for coming so quickly," the President said. The Vice President moved over so Nelson Durant could sit next to the President.
"Have you seen the TV coverage on the bombing?" Broderick asked.
The answer was obvious and Nelson Durant ignored the question. Besides, Broderick wasn't worth his time. "What can I do for you, Mr. President?" Durant asked.
"We need quick answers on this one," the Presidentreplied. "Can you help?"
Durant ran a hand through his thinning hair. For those who knew him, it was a warning gesture that he was wasting his time and had better things to do. "If you're referring to the Project, we're still a month away from startup and then we're looking at another year before coming on-line."
The President looked disappointed. The Project was a highly advanced intelligence-gathering computer system that one of Durant's many companies was developing for the National Security Agency. If the Project lived up to Durant's promises, it could find and track any foreign or terrorist threat targeting the United States.
"But I'll have my people check into it," Durant said.
The President looked pleased. Durant's worldwide business contacts gave him an intelligence database that rivaled the CIA's. A discreet knock stopped him from saying more. Broderick opened the door and Stephan Serick, the National Security Advisor, stomped in.
"You need to see this," Serick said, holding up a videocassette. Stephan Serick's childhood Latvian accent was still strong, and the basset hound jowls, heavy limp, and twisted cane were famous trademarks of the man who had served under two presidents of different political parties. "Communications took it off a satellite feed." He collapsed into a chair while Broderick fed the cassette into the TV. "A tourist filmed it. Damned videos."
At first, the scene was a repeat of what they had seen before; the huge crater in Market Street, the mangled cars and the gaping hole that once was the façade of the San Francisco Shopping Emporium. Serick shuddered. "They even got BART." BART was the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway that ran under Market Street. Then the scene on the TV changed as the tourist ran through the debris following a fireman. The camera jolted to a stop and focused on a man emerging from a cloud of dust and debris, his clothes smoking. He was carrying an unconscious girl in his arms.
"That's Meredith," Serick muttered. They watched as Meredith handed the woman to the fireman, his face racked with anguish.
"Just like Oklahoma City," Durant said in a low voice. On the screen, Meredith collapsed to his knees, panting hard. A blanket was thrown over his shoulders.
A voice from off screen said, "My God, the man's a real hero."
Meredith looked up, his lean, handsome face ravaged. He pointed to four firemen wearing respirators descending into the smoke billowing from the underground BART station. "There's your real heroes." He struggled to his feet. "I had to do something. . . . I was there." The tape ended.
"Son of a bitch!" Broderick roared. Then more calmly, "Would you care to guess when this will hit the air?"
"About the time the President lands in San Francisco," the Vice President replied. Meredith was going to preempt the President's arrival on the morning news.
Broderick looked at Durant. "Can you stop it?"
"I don't see how," Durant replied.
"Well," Broderick said, "Meredith is your boy."
Durant's face turned to granite. Kyle Broderick, arguably the second most powerful man in the United States government, had overstepped his bounds. Durant's next words were spoken quietly. "Nothing could be further from the truth." Durant was seething at the suggestion he would have anything to do with Meredith. He stood up to leave.Against All Enemies. Copyright © by Richard Herman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
A former weapons system operator, Richard Herman was a member of the United States Air Force for twenty-one years, until he retired in 1983 with the rank of major. He is the author of ten previous novels, including The Warbirds, Power Curve, Against All Enemies, Edge of Honor, and The Trojan Sea, all published by Avon Books. Herman currently lives and works in Gold River, a suburb of Sacramento, California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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More like 2 and and a half stars would be an appropiate rating. In Richard Herman's eighth novel, a B-2 is sent to destroy a chemical weapons plant in Sudan, but the mission goes wrong and results in the B-2 pilots being captured and an Air Force officer back in the US going on trial for supposedly having leaked information of the mission. Overall, this was a rather dispointing book from Herman who is capable of writing a lot better stuff then this. The only portion of the book that really sustained my interest was a subplot involving the Army's Delta Force mounting a rescue operation to get the pilots out. The rest was very slow paced and seemed to drag on. Very little attention or characterization is given to the main character, a government prosecuter, or any others for the most part, and there is the ridiculous inclusion of a 'super computer'. Read Force of Eagles, Firebreak, or Edge of Honor instead, all far superior Herman books.