This is the opening chapters to the upcoming novel "The Bravo Project" copyright, Richard S. Goldman, 2007, currently in production and to be released in Spring, 2008.
JUNE 6TH, BRAVO DAY, ZERO HOUR
THE WHITE HOUSE
“Mr. President! Mr. President!” The President of the United States, Robert Loren was right in the middle of the morning PDB, Presidential Daily Briefing, this time on the economy when his Chief of Staff Aaron Carr came bursting into the Oval screaming at the top of his lungs. Startled, the President looked up towards his Chief and smugly asked “What the hell are you doing, Aaron, can’t you see I am right in the middle of this wonderful, albeit boring PDB?” The Economic staff chuckled at the president, knowing full well that the routine of these briefings sometimes made even the bravest of them want to crawl into a corner and go to sleep.
“Mr. President, we need to move to the PDB, right now, dammit, right now!” Carr crossed over to the President and began lifting his boss to his feet. “What the?” Loren had hardly begun to rise from his chair when the Secret Service came rushing through the outer door of the Oval and swept the President off his feet. “To the PDB, to the PDB!” The President’s feet hardly met the floor as the Secret Service was hauling him down the stairs towards the Situation Room. The President was breathless, he could hardly speak. He could barely make out what his Chief was saying, but thought he clearly heard “Under attack.”
Arriving at the Presidential Defense Bunker that is situated in the bowels of the White House, the President was finally able to catch his breath. Taking his customary seat at the head of the long conference table, the President quickly surveyed the screens that were glaring with military maps, news coverage and other cabinet members who were on smaller screens along the bottom. The PDB had within it, an exact replica and working Situation Room where business as usual could be conducted during the time of crisis. On the center screen, the President could clearly see a map of the State of Michigan, and a large “X” that looked like an impact point somewhere in the Southeast portion of the State.
“What in the name of hell is going on? Someone tell me this instant!” The Chair of the Joint Chiefs, the Kathryn Erwin rose quickly and approached her boss. “Sir, what we can tell at this moment is that there were three separate long range missile launches coming from, we think, somewhere out of the Ukraine. I hesitate, only because our maps are fuzzy, there are stats from all over the place, and we simply cannot get a final configuration of where the hell they came from.” “What? What the hell?” “Sir, I know, but please let me continue.” The President, looking wide-eyed, nodded.”
“At 08 hundred, we detected a launch from what looks like the Ukraine. This was quickly followed by a second and a third. We intercepted the first two, but the third...” Erwin’s voice trailed off for a moment, and then she quickly regained her exposure. “The third seemed perfectly aimed at West Bloomfield, Michigan.” The President’s face quickly turned gray. He knew immediately what was coming next.
“Sir, it was aimed right at the heart of the area where Secretary of State Gordon and his family were vacationing. From what we can tell, they were at their residence home when the missile came in. The missile made a direct hit right next to the home. Sir, there is a large area that has been disintegrated. The Secretary, his family, and countless civilians are gone. No estimate on the total number, but it was early, and families were home, of course. We are dispatching teams there and they should arrive shortly.” The President slowly picked up a glass of water that was sitting in front of him and held it tightly, his face ashen and his breath was coming in short gasps.
“Sir”, the Joint Chiefs Chair continued, “this destruction is large, and the casualties could be huge.” The President stammered as best as he could, trying to control his emotions. “General, let me get this right, the attack, at least you think this is an attack, was centered at the United States, hit the Secretary and his family, along with countless others, and we don’t know where the hell this came from? What kind of Mickey anty bullshit is this?”
“Mr. President,” “Kat, no. This is ridiculous. Has anyone spoken to Kuburov?” “Sir, he denies anything. He never even detected a launch.” “Bullshit, if we did, he had to! Get me that bastard, now!”
The SIT moved into heavy action with phones being picked up and voices rising. As he sat in his Chair, the President could not help to wonder if this was the beginning of World War III, or if someone, somehow, in some way had made a terrible mistake and the mighty force of the American Military Operations were caught off guard, which made him cringe even more. Nonetheless, the nation was on the brink of something, and the body count, albeit it centralized, would almost certainly grow.
JUNE 6TH, BRAVO HOUR PLUS TWO
WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICHIGAN
Ground Zero, as the missile scene was soon to become known as, was smoldering. In two short hours, the once burning area had seen a mobilization of emergency response teams never seen before in the Metropolitan Detroit area. Teams from as far away as Detroit had made their way up Northwestern Highway to the area surrounding 14 Mile Road and Halsted. Hazmat teams also had arrived and quickly begun securing the area for chemicals or even the feared “Dirty Bomb” scenario. Hundreds of professionals and volunteers were searching for survivors and the injured.
The missile had struck in between what was once the home of Secretary Gordon, and the Runyan family. Within an instant, both homes were wiped out taking with them all of the family members inside. Homes to the right and left of the impact point were also obliterated. Counting the dead would not be easy, although a preliminary roster showed that the Rudolfsky family was not home at the time and may have been away visiting family in their native Pennsylvania. The Stiller family to the right lost 3, believed to be the homeowner Charles, his wife Sally, and their youngest daughter Andrea.
The Dubin family to the left lost 1, an elderly woman named Rose along with the family cat. Rose’s husband Albert was on the scene, having just pulled into the neighborhood shortly after impact from his dry cleaning factory in neighboring Farmington Hills. Dubin was being comforted by the Katinsky family, who survived the blast, their home being across the street, but who now found themselves without a front yard as the crater left by the blast impact was well over 500 yards wide and nearly seven feet deep.
Secretary Gordon and his wife Vivian were believed to have been in the home along with several bodyguards when the missile struck. As there was little to nothing left to be found of the home or its contents, identifying any remains would be virtually impossible for the Crime Scene Investigators and the Hazmat teams who were slowly making their way into the crater of what was once a neatly kept exclusive West Bloomfield community.
The FBI had taken charge of the investigation while awaiting instructions from the Department of Homeland Security. Most of the Agents were too busy barking orders to one another to even make a clear sweep of the area, as the usual and customary egos began to take their place amongst the “who is in charge of this operation now” battle. FBI Special Agent in Charge Kal Bandelene was stroking egos when he was approached from behind and felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Excuse me, excuse me, can someone here speak to me, dammit!” Spinning around, Bandelene found himself face to face with a handsome, tall and tanned Twenty Five year old Brian Gordon, the only child of the Secretary and his wife. “Mr. Gordon, I presume?” “You presume right? How the hell?” “I have seen you on television many times with your dad and the President. I am so sorry about this, truly, I am.” “Any clues? Were we attacked? Who did it? Why did they do it? What have you found!?” The younger Gordon was trying to maintain control but was, as expected visibly shaken.
“Mr. Gordon, we are just getting started here, please just calm down and let us do our job.” Gordon pushed himself right up into the face of the fifty-two year old FBI District Supervisor. “Calm? You want calm? Look around you Agent whoever the hell you are, does this situation look calm? My parents are gone, there are others gone, there was an attack here and you want me calm? Fuck you and fuck your calm!”
Bandelene did not move a muscle. At six feet four, he matched the younger Gordon in height, if not build. Knowing that any reaction, any reaction would set the youngster off even further, Bandelene gently put his left hand on the right shoulder of Gordon and squeezed. “Son, bitch at me all you want. You want to fight someone? Fight the bastards or quislings that may have done this. I will tell you what I know when I myself know it. Bitching at me is not going to serve you, me or anyone here any purpose. Let me do what I do and when I discover something I will tell you, promise. K?”
Stunned at the gentleness of the approach, Gordon simply nodded and stepped back. He was the only child of Robert and Vivian Gordon, Brian Michael Gordon was born June 30th, 22 years back in Detroit. Robert Gordon at the time his son was born, was a rising star in Michigan politics. A Graduate of Michigan State University, Gordon had gone on to the University of Detroit School of Law and had graduated at the top of his class. Right out of Law School, he had met Vivian Krawitz, two years younger and herself a rising star within the ranks of the Michigan Democratic Party.
Vivian had taken Robert’s breath away from the moment he laid eyes on her. A striking woman, five feet nine inches tall with flaming red hair and jewel-like blue eyes, she seemed to dwarf almost everyone in the room at the Law Firm of Douglas, Jackson and Gordon. The latter Gordon stood for Robert’s father Steven, who had founded the Downtown Detroit practice during the violent times of the 1960’s. Robert was proud to have been offered a legacy Associate’s position at the Firm, as John Douglas and Peter Jackson wanted to continue to honor the memory of their fallen partner who had died the previous summer from a hit and run auto accident on Woodward Avenue while crossing through Grand Circus Park on his way back from a lunch meeting at the famous Lafayette Coney Island. The driver was never found, and the Law Firm mourned the loss of their Partner and Founder right up until the day that Robert signed on to join them.
Vivian Krawitz had herself joined the Firm as a law clerk, having made her way, although begrudgingly, through Wayne State University’s Law School program. Law was not her first choice by any means, but like her father Adam before her of blessed memory, Vivian had vowed to help others of lesser means if she could.
Their romance was one for the history books. The storybook ending that so many dream of was theirs. It was Vivian who had asked Robert out one evening some two months into Robert’s new position, and the whirlwind had begun. Only six months later, the two announced their engagement, beginning a partnership that was both equal and respectful of each other’s strengths.
Robert had wanted Vivian to run for office first. Of course, this was still Michigan in the times of the Equal Rights Amendment fight, and the mere thought of a woman of strength was still yards away from reality. Vivian instead encouraged Robert to run, begging him to shy away from local politics in the City of Southfield where they had purchased their first home, a beautiful suburb then of North Western Detroit. No, Vivian had told Robert, he needed to make a mark, take a chance, do something great for the State of Michigan that he so loved.
Michigan’s Republican Governor at the time Phil Henry, was a man of high intellect and little people skills. He was a two-time electee to the office, and was running for as third and final term. The Michigan Democratic Party had no candidate it could think of running, figuring that a third term was a lock for the semi-popular Henry. It was Vivian who was perhaps the only person in Democratic politics who thought otherwise.
Vivian orchestrated a campaign for the ages. She presented Robert as a young, vibrant, educated and ethical man, one who could restore confidence, grace and beauty to the State. Robert was at first the reluctant candidate, but as his popularity grew, so did the man behind the candidate. Money was no object for the campaign, and once announced as a candidate, the law firm poured in cash, as did the wealthy friends of the Krawitz family, a popular restaurant owning clan that owned and operated over twenty restaurants in the Detroit area alone.
Gordon has no opposition, as the Democratic Party around the State was pleased that someone, anyone would have the gumption to take on the Governor. Even Vivian could not have expected the outcome.
Robert Gordon, at age 30, a father of an infant child born during the campaign, won the Michigan Gubernatorial election by a landslide. Taking nearly 65 percent of the vote statewide, Gordon was elected by the largest margin in state history, and one of the largest margins ever for a state governor in the nation. Charm, wit, looks, intellect, a magnificent partner, all of it added up for Gordon who swept into office and stayed there for two terms.
Gordon would have stayed a third, he would have been easily elected, but the National Party had other plans for him. At thirty-eight years of age, he made a gracious national presence, and he soon found himself being named as the Secretary of Education under President Mark Rutherford, who had become impressed during his campaign with the educational programs and initiatives that Gordon had instituted around Michigan, making the state ranked number one educationally amongst the fifty states.
Gordon continued to rise in the Party ranks, and by the time he accepted the post of Secretary of State under the current President Loren, he was one of the most widely respected leaders within either party in the nation. Gordon had declined becoming Vice President under Loren, instead, wishing to utilize his worldwide knowledge to bring what he called “a goodness to the world.” Under three administrations, Gordon had served as Education Secretary, Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, National Security Advisor, and finally had risen to Secretary of State.
Along the way, while there were many friends, Gordon also had made numerous enemies within the framework of the Pentagon. Gordon was a no-nonsense leader, a “stickler for perfection” as Former President Whiteman had called him, and constantly clashed with the old ways of the military to bring out the new. Gordon had struck down the old policy of preventative attack, instead believing that one-to-one contact with his adversaries around the world, would alleviate any and all problems.
It was Gordon who was responsible for Middle East Peace, it was he alone that was credited for ending the war in Iran, and it was he alone that was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize just two years previous to the end of his life, for bringing an end to the world-wide threat of nuclear war, by having all major and minor nations of the world agree to a unilateral disarmament project that led to the end of all nuclear weapons across the globe with a complete melt-down of all weapons of mass destruction. Gordon had created a watchdog group called the “Bravo Project,” a group of worldwide-trained military leaders that constantly monitored the globe for any possible nuclear threat that had been missed, or any other weapons that could be created.
A week before the attack, Gordon had visited the Ukraine, setting forth a new policy for the recently elected Democratic government there that would finally put an end to their long range missile program. All of their weapons were of the non-nuclear capacity, and each could make it around the world in no time. Using stolen American technology, the “Ukies” as Gordon called them, had over two two-hundred missiles , each carrying the capacity to destroy large targets with ease.
Gordon had met stiff resistance in the Ukraine. He had dispatched ten members from the Bravo Project to supervise the dismantling of the missile program, and at the time of the attack, it was thought that Bravo had nearly all of the weapons under their control with the exception of perhaps eight or ten. The “Ukies” had no reason, so Gordon was advised, to launch weapons of any sort, as their borders were secure and their people free from any attacks from the other nations surrounding them.
Two nights before the attack, Gordon had received a communication from the NATO Commander in Europe that the “Ukies” were up in arms over the final inspection process for dismantling. President Kuburov, the new leader of the Ukraine, wanted to keep for his army at least three missiles, so that if “God’s forbid we are attacked, we can destroy our enemies swiftly.” Gordon had placed several calls to Kuburov from his West Bloomfield home, reporting back to the White House that Kuburov seemed more and more agitated each time they spoke. Gordon had planned to fly out to visit his new friend the day after the attack commenced.
Gordon had another fight on his hands, this coming from the Directors of the Bravo Project, who wanted more and more control over the Ukraine project and the rest of the “European Theatre” as he liked to call it. Reigning in the Generals-in-Charge of Bravo was a headache to Gordon, and his last conversation with them had ended in a warning to the Generals to not cross the line too far and let the “Euros” maintain some semblance of control just to placate them. The Generals were to a man not happy, but had agreed to put their “collective brakes on” until after the next Ukraine visit, which Gordon felt confident on that he could convince Kuburov to simply “shut up” and maintain the accepted status quo of dismantling all of his missiles once and for all.
When his life was ended, Gordon was on the line in a conference call with Secretary of Defense Michael Rayburn, and General Larry Orbach of the Bravo Project, going over last minute strategy for the Ukraine visit. Rayburn was never warned of the missiles in the air, but Orbach was, screaming into the phone that something was wrong and that Gordon needed to “get the hell out of there.” Rayburn would swear later on in the day that as the line went dead at Gordon’s home, he heard a what he thought was a gunshot before the lines failed. Rayburn tried like hell to call both Gordon and Orbach back, but the lines were down, and all hell was breaking loose, and he was almost immediately being swept away by Secret Service Agents into the basement bunker of the State Department.
Agent Bandelene found himself being spun around with force. Agent Stephanie Hawkins had rushed up to her boss almost breathless. “Kal, there is nothing, I mean nothing left anywhere. What the hell do you want us to do? We need some direction here!” Catching his balance, Bandelene looked sternly as his young Agent. “First of all Agent Hawkins, how about a healthy does of shut the hell up? You see him? Bandelene pointed directly towards Gordon. “This young man just lost his family. Try a little less hyperactivity and get a grip!” Gordon smiled at what Bandelene was saying. Perhaps this guy was decent after all, the youngster thought.
“Sir, look, I’m sorry. But we have nothing here to work with. There is nothing left sir, it is all gone. Just a little debris and that’s it. What the fuck are we looking for?” “Anything and everything, Agent Hawkins, the little piece, the littlest detail. The fate of the world may hang on this if we were indeed attacked by a foreign power. You got it? Anything at all.”
Hawkins looked sheepishly at her boss. “Yes, I got it. Sorry, Sir. This is just too devastating. I mean, hell, has this ever happened? Have we ever been attacked by missiles or the like? Here? In America, let alone in Michigan?” Snickering glumly at his Agent’s lack of geographic sense, Bandelene shrugged. “Hun, no, this has never happened. But, if it is what it seems like then may G-d help us all. Your job, my job, hell all of our jobs is to figure this thing out and figure it out quickly. Millions of lives may depend on what we do in the next several hours, millions of them. Now get your ass back into that, that crater and try to find something!”
Agent Hawkins moved away quickly and began her decent into the crater, moving along side of what now numbered over one hundred men and women, who were slowly sifting through the rubble of all that was left of the Secretary of State’s home and that of the others.