A chilling story of terrorism on a scale never before imagined. Novel, fiction/suspense. (6x9 trade paperback, pocket paperback - also available in hardback)
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Frank Mosco, Writer/Photographer
A story of intrigue and suspense - The Whitemoon Crisis is the first installment of the RAM SERIES that draws you into a world of wondering - could this really happen! Set in the latter years of the Cold War, this fictional suspense thriller introduces Commander Ramsey Lightner, Pentagon Navy Intelligence Officer, who under the threat of world war uncovers a multi-layered conspiracy of power and destruction that reaches from the Caribbean to the balmy tourists town of St. Augustine, Florida, and beyond to the highest levels of government in Washington, DC. This novel of intrigue contains all that a reader expects of a suspense novel in the tradition of Ian Fleming.
Written in 1982 and originally published in 1986, THE WHITEMOON CRISIS has proven to be an intense preview of events of our new century, raising the question and challenge of how to defend against the exceptional resourcefulness of hate driven terrorism. A must read for those who enjoy this genre of literature.
(Excertp from chapter twenty six)
The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga was twenty miles off the northeast coast of Florida, returning home to Mayport after six months of duty on the Mediterranean. Below decks a good many crewmen, instead of jawing about their homecoming priorities, entered high gear and rushed to perform their duties. Others however, moaned and bitched, a few violently, because they had just been informed they would not dock at Mayport as scheduled. Games they thought, drills, Navy bullshit. The Sara had been ordered to hold off the coast and turned into the wind. Her flight deck buzzed with action as she entered combat mode and aircraft were readied for launch.
Lieutenant James Meredith, call sign Disco, young, medium height, fair-haired and not long out of the Academy, chewed his lower lip as he left the briefing room. He was not alone in his tense anticipation of what would take place in the air over Jacksonville, a city of seven hundred thousand plus people and three naval installations. This was the real deal, he thought, and it was difficult for him to believe that his first real action would take place over U.S. soil.
The briefing was a shock, as cold and hard as the gray steel of the Sara herself. They were not told everything, only the necessary data concerning the missiles and that they would be supported by ground action and radar. The missiles were assumed to be configured for an air burst and may not be detected by radar in time for anti-missile defense due to the short range factor. In a nutshell, each squadron, each pilot, would ride a tight circular razor blade around their designated area of protection and take immediate aggressive action without hesitation to destroy anything that flew. Like a carousel, thought Meredith, or wagons in a circle waiting for the Indians to attack. He could not have known the irony of his thoughts.
On a high school football field two teenage boys were readying their homemade ultra-light motorized glider. They were proud of their new machine. It could take off and land on a dime and its swept wing design gave it an edge on speed without compromising maneuverability.
The boys were gloating, eager and gutsy, ready to test fly this second machine. Their first ultra-light did all it was designed to do but its pilot did a little too much and the machine was lost when the State Police impounded it after buzzing the Gator Bowl during the Florida/Georgia classic. Now the boys snickered confidently as they prepared a revenge flight. Indeed, they had even christened the aircraft Sweet Revenge.
"I'm gonna' fly this sucker right over City Hall," the young pilot threatened proudly.
"Right up the mayor's ass," his companion laughed. "Now remember, get plenty of altitude then cut her off and glide her a while 'cause you ain't got enough gas to make it there and back."
"No sweat, man" smiled the amateur pilot as he dawned his circa 1918 leather flight hat and goggles. "Piece of cake."
In flight less than an hour, Lieutenant James Meredith sweated nervously as he fingered the powerful hydraulics of the F-14 Tomcat. Like other pilots in the Skybird Squadron he searched the sky intensely, his rear seat companion constantly checking the aircraft's radar. And like the others, he had difficulty putting the questions out of his mind. He was defending U.S. soil from missile attack. Why? Who? If they succeeded in stopping them, what would happen next? What if they couldn't stop them? Could he live with the failure? Would he live at all? Survive the blast? Were these missiles an advance to something else, that ultimate horror which had evolved over the years into something that no longer served the defense of a free world but instead dominated and threatened? Has the no win scenario begun?
He struggled to put all this aside. Concentrate, he told himself. Focus. Do your job. It's the Army/Navy game in Memorial Stadium on that cool fall day in beautiful old Annapolis. The stadium is packed with dark blue uniforms and white hats. They chant in unison as you do your part. You're a halfback again, blocking, leading that power play that sends the fullback in for the winning touchdown. Suddenly Meredith sees seven hundred thousand faces. They line the streets of Jacksonville and stare up at him pleading, "Don't let us die, Jimmy boy! Help us! Protect us, Jimmy boy! Don't let us die!"
With his stomach twisting, tightening, he flashes to his girl. She's down there somewhere doing what she does each day at the bank. She must be thinking of him, probably even planning to get off early because she was going to meet him at Cecil Field when the squadron flew in ahead of the ship. What was it she wanted to do tonight at that place on the water? Now he remembered. It was...
"Radar contact! Bogie, coordinates..."
"I've got it! Skybird Three to Skybird Leader. I've got bogie. Going down now," Meredith snapped as he rolled the Tomcat left. The F-14's wings swept back and he felt the exciting surge of power as the aircraft moved to intercept.
"Locking on bogie," Meredith stated mechanically. Damn, he thought, it's inside. It's inside the perimeter. How the hell did it get inside?
His target was not visible but it was there, miles away, beneath the clouds.
"I've got him. I've got a lock. I've got him. Now!" His heart raced as his own missile burned away from beneath him.
As Meredith's missile sought out its target another F-14 soared in down through the clouds at a lower altitude to confirm the hit.
"Oh shit!" came the squadron leader. "Jesus Christ!"
Above the St. Johns River the small engine purred steadily as the young pilot played his ultra-light left then right to take in the view. He had just buzzed the Gator Bowl and set his sights on the big glass tower. He used the wind, circling, soaring, his adrenalin surging. He felt as though his lungs were going to burst as he breathed the fantasy of free flight. Yeah, this is great! This is better than sex, he thought, somehow forgetting he'd never had sex. Barely touching the clouds now, he was about to cut the engine, bank left into a three-sixty then right and circle the towering glassy Independent Life Building, the tallest in the state, when he heard the deep cat-like scream of the F-14. It came out of nowhere, powerful, impressive, steadily arching wide until it leveled toward him far in the distance. Someday, thought the young delinquent flyer, I'm going to pilot one of those bad mothers.
He angled the ultra-light for descent and at that same moment Meredith's missile shot through the clouds dead on target. For all the boy knew, it was a shadow, a seagull, anything. His eyes saw it but his mind never had time to identify it. The explosion ripped the frail ultra-light and its pilot apart as easily as a stick of dynamite in a paper bag but with hardly enough debris to resemble confetti as it fell above the riverbank parking lot.
On the upper levels of the nearby Independent Life Building, clean, quiet, stylish offices became chaotic as massive heavy plates of tinted glass shattered inward from the blast. Pieces of missile and glass penetrated furniture, walls, computers, and of course, people. Some screamed, some simply sat in amazement. Those unlucky few who had the choice space with the scenic river view had been sliced like prime steak, their bodies separated, their eyes still open and minds still wondering.
"Base, this is Skybird Leader. Be advised, we have just killed civilian ultra-light. Expect heavy damage to Independent Building. Many friendly casualties probable."
"Skybird Leader. We copy. Be advised, all flights maintain. Repeat, all flights maintain."
"Roger, Base. That's affirmative," acknowledged the squadron leader. "Disco, how goes it?"
Meridith, having listened to Skybird Leader's dark assessment to base was frozen, his stomach turning.
"James, my man. You okay?"
Meredith hesitated then finally responded, "Affirmative, Skybird Leader. We... we're okay here."
"Maintain status Skybirds," ordered the squadron leader. "This party ain't over."
In the Whitehouse situation room the reaction over the Jacksonville incident was matter of fact. This was the second such incident in as many hours, the first taking place near San Diego when an Air force fighter took out a small civilian jet. There were near incidents as well over Norfolk and Philadelphia.
All civilian aircraft in these critical areas which just about included the entire east and west coasts had been notified and either grounded or diverted under various guises in order to avoid such incidents. Some were simply escorted away without explanation.
The Whitehouse war room reeked of anxiety as military brass and cabinet members paced the floor, listened to situation reports and monitored the large screen that seemed to give the pending crisis all the character of some elaborate fictitious video game. Subordinates manipulated computer consoles, answered telephones and were already processing that data necessary for effective retaliation against whatever part of the globe was unfortunate enough to get sucked into the limited or unlimited exchange of destruction.
Unlike the others, the President took...
(this chapter is continued in the book, The Whitemoon Crisis)