A Desperate Land




SYNOPSIS

The year is 2010, and the United States has been in the grip of a military coup for two years. The coup itself was a peaceful one and even welcomed by the vast majority of the American people.
Prior to the coup, crime and violence had been rampant throughout the U.S. The once proud and envied American public school system was struggling. Long held moral values and ethics were rapidly disappearing from the American scene. The family was under siege, cities were war zones and the rate of youth crime was appalling. The media, including the movie and TV industry, were being faulted for their contribution to the problems of a lack of family values and the depreciation of ethics and morals.
Added to this quagmire was a Washington administration that was found to be morally bankrupt and worse criminal. This latter situation had been the final straw for the great mass of Americans and was regarded by most as the catalyst for the coup.
Following a period of turmoil the country is now peaceful and free from most violent crime. The war on drugs is now under control but the population is still uncomfortable without civilian rule. While Congressmen and other key positions are elected i.e. Governors and Mayors there still exists no democratically elected executive branch. All Supreme Court decisions are subject to final approval by the military plenipotentiary as are the bills and laws passed through the Congress.
The issue and major confrontation that is driving the unrest is the potential restoration of national elections. A militant faction in the military says "no". After all the country is doing better than ever before economically and socially, therefore the so-called dissidents are to be treated as criminals and traitors. The military opposition faction says "no"; it"s time for us, the military to step down. The deciding event that tears the country apart is the discovery by the underground media of a plot to distribute and infuse the cities and other areas that are hotbeds of rebellion with a new drug developed by the Army. The drug is a pacifiers dream, a permanent and powerful inhibitor of the brain. A small and ultra-right inner organization of military leaders sees this drug as the ideal solution for the urban violenceand feared Balkanization of the United States.
As the United States explodes with the revelation of the drug the country becomes increasingly unstable, minorities start demanding their place in the sun. Militant blacks pose the question of a black country in the Southeast. The Hispanics desire a homeland in the Southwest. The much discussed Balkanization of the U.S. that that started occurring in the late 90"s seems to be coming true.
Certain foreign countries see the events as an opportunity to create havoc in the U.S. and add their funds and diatribe to the increasing problems now arising in the U.S. Into this seething cauldron of discontent comes the, "Free America," movement that crystallizes the issues. They bring together the various dissident factions and tell the rest of the world to back off. This particularly is aimed at a new and stronger Mexico where there exists a possibility of invasion. The Mexicans claim it would be to protect its people already in the U.S. and to take back from the gringos its former territories.
The scale of the action is worldwide. A world that has envied the U.S. its wealth and power now draw around, some to watch and others to add fuel to the prospects of civil war. The pulling together of the country will rival the great events of that occurred during WWII. The electrifying end will satisfy the reader of this exciting page-turner.







CHAPTER ONE


Whether women are better than men I cannot say...but
I can say they are no worse.
Golda Meir

Flying F-18 Hornets on a reconnaissance run in the Persian Gulf, Lieutenant Commander Miriam 'Silky' Samuels and LTJG Spud Holcomb took on a division of four Iranian Mig-29's about to close on the USS Abraham Lincoln's Battle Group.
"Break right. Now!" Silky exclaimed to her wingman, Spud Holcomb. With his break, he set her up perfectly " in position, getting a heat-seeking tone and in-range shoot light for a kill with her sidewinders. The battle escalated and quickly grew into a vicious dogfight but one with predictable results, as the aggressive Navy team took on the poorly trained MIG pilots.
The heat seeker hummed, and she had him. "Fox One," she snapped as she pressed the trigger and the missile sped off the rail, running hot and true. Seconds later the Iraqi MIG burst into a ball of red and yellow flames, spiraling slowly to the ground. There was no seat ejection, and she knew the pilot was gone. The three remaining MIGs fled, and the engagement was over.
It was her first kill, and Samuels was initially confused by her detachment, but she made no excuses for her lack of emotion over the death of the Iranian airman. This was her job and she knew she was damned good at it. On her way back to the carrier, however, her mind began to race. Perhaps my emotions would have been stronger if I'd been face to face with the pilot when he died. But this was what I was trained to do " exhilaration, pride and love for my country and its people are what I feel. Without the armed forces America's way of life would be destroyed.
She began her final turn to land aboard, checked her wings level, line-up and speed. She then called in the time-worn tradition; "ball, hornet, 1500 pounds" and began dropping toward the carrier deck.
The LSO's laconic response, "roger ball, keep it coming."
Her F-18 sped across the deck, and as she pushed the throttles forward the tailhook snagged a wire and pulled the plane to a gut-wrenching stop. The waiting director gave her the tailhook up signal and directed her forward of the landing zone.
Upon opening the hatch, she was met with deafening cheers. She jumped nimbly from the wing of the F-18 and removed her helmet, revealing a cloud of black curls and sparkling blue eyes. Flushed and happy, she stood, while her mates pounded her slender back and shook her hand, until finally she fled the mob with shouts of "way to go, Shooter," ringing in her ears. Her colleagues" respect was the sum of her goals as a professional, and she secretly basked in their esteem. This was what she had worked for all her life. When she fired the missile that destroyed the Iraqi plane, Miriam Samuels became the first woman fighter pilot to score a kill in aerial combat and became a legend.
Days later, Admiral Mark Dennison, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), sat at his desk on the E-ring of the Pentagon and read the "after action report" of the MIG shootout. He smiled thoughtfully and scrubbed his palm across his white brush cut. Well, Miriam is justifying my belief in her.
The admiral had watched this exceptional young officer earn a distinguished record in the training command and then, to her mother's shock and her father's grudging approval, go on to fly fighters with the Navy.
Dennison and Miriam's father, Senator Jake Samuels, had been friends for years, even before the senator's troubles, and the admiral had promised to keep an eye on the young woman he had once shown how to run with the wind in a 36 footer. Now a gifted pilot and a fine naval officer, he had reported back to the Samuels family that their daughter had found a home in the Navy.
Jake was pleased with his daughter's success and proud of her achievements, but her mother was not pleased with what she considered a "risky" profession. As the only daughter, Miriam had suffered her mother's attempts to guide her into more ladylike endeavors and her pique when she failed, but even Marta Samuel's best efforts were not enough to keep her child out of a plane. Over the years the admiral had watched sadly as the relationship between mother and daughter deteriorated. Miriam's temper often got the better of her, and the two sometimes didn't speak for months.
After reading the report, the admiral sat back, cupped his hands behind his head and enjoyed one of those rare moments that occur when you learn about something going well for someone you care about. She'll do well with this, he thought, in spite of the obstacles that await her.
Within weeks Miriam's fresh young face graced Newsweek and Vogue. Her countrymen put her on a pedestal and adored her, her youth and beauty accentuating her achievement. Although Miriam dealt well with the sudden fame very well, it would be a daunting challenge even for the most mature. At sea the task was easier in the closed squadron environment; however, she knew that this life would soon end with a shore assignment.
Jake, who had at one time served as a Democratic Senator from New York, worried about his daughter and took her into his library one Sunday afternoon after dinner whole she was on leave. There, where they had often spent time together over the years, he faced his daughter for a quiet chat. Samuels himself had been guilty of a lapse of judgment years before and knew only too well how the fickle system worked.
'miriam," he began thoughtfully, fingers steepled before his face, "For a few rare individuals there can be a moment that changes the rest of their lives. The stronger the individual, the more powerful the event will be." He tapped his fingertips together as if punctuate his statements.
"Your life," he went on, "has changed forever. Now you belong to your country and its people. You can't go back to what you were, and whatever you do with your life, you'll still be theirs. Everything you do will be watched and critiqued. For you, even your choice of a mate must be more than just an ordinary man if you are to be happy."
Miriam, lean young body clad in jeans and an old sweatshirt, listened carefully, leaning forward a little as he spoke. She sat on the ottoman at the side of her father's chair, as she had when she was just a little girl. Their relationship was warm and loving, and she had the greatest respect for his judgment.
Samuels leaned his white mane back against the chair, took a deep breath and went on, 'the partner you choose will have to be a special person: a strong leader, honest, a man of high character, and, of course, someone who will be your equal. Anything less will not be enough.
'this new life won't be easy for you, but perhaps you already know that. It may be challenging, not only because of the fame but also the notoriety. You've become a symbol of strength and respect for the women of the country, and you'll have great power. You'll have to learn to use it wisely."
Miriam, aware of her father's mistakes, knew how difficult it was for him to say these things. Without replying she put her hands over his on the arm of the chair and lay her head on his shoulder. "I know, daddy. I'll do my best."
"I couldn't ask for more," he replied and kissed her pink cheek.
After their chat, Jake continued to worry. Miriam had grown up in a privileged background in a large home outside Baltimore and had always had the best the senator's wealth could provide. Although she was smart and capable, in many ways she was still an innocent. Where will she go from here, and what will the rest of her life be like after a triumph like this at such an early age?
After Miriam's sea-duty tour, the Navy assigned her to the Pentagon as a Navy liaison officer to the Congress. Each morning she tamed her curly locks, tucked them into a cap and donned her uniform. Working in this notoriously difficult and demanding environment was bad enough, but she also knew she served as an emblem, a symbol of a successful female fighter pilot. There was also the fact that she was the daughter of the former Senator Jacob Samuels, a helluva combination.
Living in the Capitol was stimulating, but she found the work dull and frustrating. She was now a gofer between the Navy action officers and the Hill. She sat and listened to the, give and take, on the Navy's big projects. She learned volumes but as a listener but not as a participant. She often sat at her desk, staring out at the beauty of the nation's capitol, God how I wish I were back at sea with my own kind " another world and free from the frustrations of this one.
Washington, DC
The nation's capitol this year was frigid and dismal, and today was one of those early spring days that promise better things to come but still holds on to winter. Outside the skies were as leaden and grey as cold steel, the budding branches of skeleton trees shimmering in icy gutters.
Inside the overheated Delaware Ballroom of the Shoreham Hotel, chandeliers glimmered as the low hum of voices, punctuated by an occasional tinkling burst of laughter, signaled that one of Washington's notoriously dreary, semi-mandatory affairs was in session. These soirees were attended by the movers and shakers on the House side of the Hill with a sprinkling of military liaison types " in uniform of course, to give the party a little color and to show respect for the current government. LCDR 'shooter" Samuels USN was one of these.
She had been in the capitol for six months and constantly received invitations to parties such as this one. With her family background and combat record, she was a natural choice for Navy liaison duty with the Congress. In demand as the fair-haired 'top gun" Navy pilot, her orders were to at least make an appearance. But after the social life of a Navy fighter squadron, she found these parties not only dull but a burden to attend, and she had little use for the small talk and petty chatter of the bureaucrats.
From a quiet corner she watched the dismal proceedings, as bureaucrats, lobbyists, and politicians from both parties postured and played out their mini-dramas. Then, as she moved into the crowd, she politely chatted and drifted from group to group with the requisite drink in hand. Her quick temper flared as she passed an elderly DC matron discussing 'the attractive young thing who shot down the Iraqi plane that was probably flown by an inexperienced pilot." She was tempted to unload but instead wisely moved on.
Nearby an enraged debate went on between the African-American Minority Leader of the House and the senior Republican representative from California. Washington's Democratic Party, mockingly called the Labor Party by some in the black community and liberal elite, was in a shambles, making the goading from the GOP representative even more irritating.
'that's bullshit," the minority leader bellowed in response to a snide remark made by his opponent about the imminent demise of his party.
Both men were slightly drunk, bored and unduly querulous. Time hung heavy on the Washington politicians" hands these days. Their responsibilities waned along with the loss of their prestige and authority, as the coup's military leadership took over more and more responsibility for running the country.
The Senator, a former Navy fighter pilot from a wealthy and conservative, southern California district, was a cinch for re-election, given his military background and popularity with the Pentagon. He smirked and indulged his pleasure in baiting his opponent as the furor concerning the aftereffects of the coup of 2001 continued drearily.
"But it's obvious," he countered disdainfully, knowing how this would enflame his rival, 'that the people are content with a society that's free of crime and violence and economically sound. Surely they could want little more than that."
'that's not true, and you ought to know better," retorted the House leader. 'there's a growing segment of Americans from labor, academia, the media, minorities and even students, who hold that too many individual freedoms have been lost. And, mind you, things are going to get worse if Arnheider doesn't back off!"
Miriam Samuels listened idly, but she wasn't impressed with the wrangling, any more than she was pleased with the new military government. Brad Stevens, executive assistant to the Director of the FBI, watched the striking young pilot from across the room as she wandered from group to group, obviously bored with her surroundings.
Stevens had made a name for himself as the agent who broke the case involving the bombing of the federal building in Phoenix two years earlier, and many believed the Phoenix affair had been the catalyst for the peaceful military coup that occurred shortly after. A man of action, he loved being in the field chasing bad guys, but solving this case had kicked him up the bureaucratic ladder, and he was now a "desk jockey" in the bureaucratic jungle of the nation's capitol.
Single, bright, personable and moving up the career ladder in the FBI, his credentials making him a natural for the Washington party circuit, but he too found the Washington social set appalling dull.
Drink in hand, he leaned his tall frame comfortably against against a pillar across the room. Watching Miriam he pondered what it would be like to sleep with a fighter pilot. Damn good-looking, and she certainly fills the uniform well, he thought, his eyes skimming the deep blue suit with its row of colorful decorations, and she's wearing Navy wings and the Navy Cross on her lapel . . . obviously a true heroine but young to be in that position.
The two had crossed paths socially before, and Brad had found her attractive but aloof and a little arrogant. No, definitely not my type, he concluded after further considering the possibilities.
Samuels felt someone watching her, and as she glanced around the room she saw piercing, deep-set brown eyes that seemed to see look right through her and above that a thatch of unruly black hair. As their eyes met, she remembered him from other occasions, and she frowned. She was aware that he had been part of the operation that had finished her father's career, and a crude name used by the hot dog pilots of the Tail-Hook Navy suddenly came to mind. What an "auto-asshole," she thought evilly. Already irritated and bored by the dull party and its inane guests and ready for a confrontation, Stevens" cool perusal angered her even more, and she moved across the room toward him.
"Hello Stevens. Were you staring?" she jibed in her slightly husky voice. "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" She grinned and revealed a tiny Shirley Temple dimple at the corner of her mouth.
'sorry," he replied, taken aback a little, as he was caught in his reverie, he recovered quickly, "I was admiring your uniform, and I wondered who that lovely creature was serving drinks." This remark piqued Miriam who understood only too well the derogatory reference to her uniform.
She grimaced at him and tossed her head a little. 'very good, Special Agent Stevens, but you know I'm here to add a little class to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl. Don't you "feebs" know the military's in. We can't do anything wrong. One of the crosses we bear, however, is required appearances at ridiculous soirees such as this with idiots like you in attendance." By the time she finished her statement, her temper was beginning to flare, and her voice rose.
Smart but arrogant as hell, Stevens thought, and suddenly he was annoyed with this woman, as he recalled FBI women he had known who had also committed acts of bravery and who had received none of the attention given to Samuels.
He smiled smugly and replied, "Having served in the fleet as a deck officer aboard a frigate, I know that an airdale, especially a female, could not add class to a mud wrestling event."
His comment had the expected result, and Miriam's anger exploded. "You arrogant prick! Like most black shoes you couldn't find your ass with both hands," she retorted as she turned on her heel and stalked away.
Several party-goers had heard the exchange and stared. Stevens shrugged and said quietly, 'tough lady. So much for social intercourse."
At that moment a hush fell across the room as General Marcus Arnheider, two uniformed Green Beret Sergeants who acted as his personal body guards, and several Secret Service agents entered the room. Samuels was in his path as he entered, and he almost ran into her.
Arnheider, who had a reputation for being a ladies" man, took her arm as if to steady her, and said loudly, "Well, how's our little heroine doing tonight?" He reached out to fondle her Navy Cross and brushed her breast.
Miriam drew herself up, pressing her lips together until they were white, in an effort to maintain her dignity. Another prick, she thought, but this one is on his ass. I can even smell the bourbon on his breath.
"Just fine, General. Thank you sir."
He smiled and whispered to her as he turned, "Kept your cool. I like that in a woman," as he moved toward the fawning party goers.
To hell with this, she thought and turning to leave she found herself face to face with one of the general's Green Beret sergeants.
"Not leaving are you, commander? I"d like to get better acquainted," he said, taking a cue from his boss and leering.
Miriam vented all her anger on the bodyguard. "Why sergeant, how sweet of you," she snarled. "If we ever do get better acquainted perhaps you'll explain to me why grown men wear that silly little green beany?" She left the sergeant standing there, as she stalked out of the room.
"Bitch," he mumbled under his breath, but still goddamn good lookin."
Brad, watching the whole episode thought, she may be a little coarse, but I like her style. And the FBI man stood watching as the leader of the free world stumbled across the room..
Brad
Brad Stevens, Washington bureaucrat, had been in a funk and suffering from boredom ever since the excitement of the Phoenix affair investigation had ended. Only six months in this job and already he missed the exhilaration of tracking the terrorist who had master-minded the bombing of the federal building in the large southwestern city. As the executive assistant for the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he spent his days in an office buried in paperwork.
He also carried with him a burden of guilt over the murder of his partner and lover, Pat Hughes, whose death had fueled the flames of his need for revenge. The investigation had drawn to a close with the fatal shooting of the terrorist at a small airport south of Washington in the Virginia countryside. His success in bringing this case to an explosive ending was exhilarating, but he missed Pat and found his remorse hard to shake.
Sitting at his desk the morning after the cocktail party, he leaned back, propped his feet up and let his eyes scan the distance. Jesus, my life hasn't been much more than a foot race since then. The investigation and its climax were an upper and something I'll never forget. But now I'm a fucking hero and chained to an office. Figure that out!!
The drugs and crime that had been so much a part of the previous administration, were almost non-existent since the coup. The big push in the Bureau now was industrial espionage and white collar offenses; however, there was an expanding undercurrent building in the country against the current military government. Two years ago the people had welcomed the coup, but things had changed. If these subversive activities were viewed as treason, there was trouble brewing, and the Bureau would soon find itself back in the middle of the action.
Many citizens felt the current regime was over-stepping its bounds. After all, Brad considered as he rocked thoughtfully in his chair, we're supposed to be a democratic society, but the numbers grow daily of those who talk about civil disobedience...a few are even covertly preaching revolution. There's no doubt in my mind that the current national situation is wrong for the country, and I sense that many of my colleagues in law enforcement think this way as well. It sure isn't something we want to talk about though.



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