Authors: Robert Michael
Tags: #Jason Bourne, #Sidney Bristow, #james bond, #spies, #Alias, #assassin, #Espionage
Copyright 2013 © Robert Michael
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical, real people or real locales are used in a fictional manner. Other names, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To all my supporters. You know who you are. I love you.
Pieces of a Broken Life
he rain spattered the windshield. They sat in the bulletproof Suburban, quiet and introspective. Hallie held Macy in her arms. Jake stared at Maury Childs, their Secret Service Agent assigned to the family.
They were the only ones left.
The nation mourned, confused and frightened by the threat they perceived. The death of President Vine had been attributed to a domestic issue.
Senator Swane was in the vehicle ahead of them. Swane’s assistant had messaged him ten minutes ago, indicating that the Senator would like to meet Jake in private after the ceremony.
They had stood in the rain, joined by good Americans who loved their leader. Even his political enemies had shown up out of respect and camera time. Good PR trumps old grudges, especially in death. Once the public finally filtered out of the cemetery, Jake, Hallie, and a few select close individuals would be allowed to re-enter the cemetery to pay their respects in private.
Jake glanced at Macy. She seemed bored, mostly. She had not known her grandfather, but she had understood that she should be sad. That had lasted for a half hour. Then, she started asking awkward questions. Hallie had come to the rescue and removed her from the graveside.
Jake was most nervous about the cameras.
He felt safer in the Suburban, but not much more comfortable. Something about the rain was appropriate. Instead of cleansing, it felt like punishment. Standing in the cold and stinging rain, Jake enjoyed his penance. Conversely, the vehicle was muggy from the humidity and all the breathing in close quarters. The windows were fogged.
“I think Macy needs to stay in the vehicle and take a nap,” Hallie suggested.
He nodded. He did not want to argue. In the end, it mattered little. He glanced at Agent Childs, who smiled thinly.
“The cemetery is surrounded by security and the public is being escorted past the perimeter. I think I can stay with Macy,” he offered.
“Thank you,” Hallie managed.
Jake blinked slowly and stared down at his phone.
Macy reached across the seat and took his hand.
He looked up at her deep green eyes and expressive face.
“Are you sad, Daddy?”
He smiled at her, reassuringly.
“Of course I am, honey. It is ok to be sad sometimes.”
“Your Daddy was a good man. Agent Childs said so.”
“He was. He was a good man, Macy. A hero. Our whole country is sad.” He wished he could believe his own words. Macy deserved the truth, but was too young to process it.
She nodded, her face serious.
“I heard that on the news. The news woman was crying.”
He squeezed her hand. Kissed her forehead. Swallowed hard and tried not to let his anger and resentment for Gabriel ruin this perfect moment.
A knock came at the driver’s door.
“It is time,” a gruff voice sounded from outside above the pattering of the rain.
“Ok. I will gather them up,” Agent Nash said. She had been assigned to drive the family’s vehicle. She was an ex-Marine with service in Afghanistan during the Obama administration.
She glanced back and touched Hallie on the shoulder. When Hallie turned, Nash nodded with a grim set to her face.
“We will be right back, honey. Please stay here with Agents Childs and Nash,” Hallie instructed.
Macy nodded. Her realization of the weight of this situation was evident in her face.
The side door opened. It was flanked by two Marines at attention. An aide held the door and offered Hallie a hand out of the tall vehicle.
Rain splattered into the vehicle. Jake shivered. He wore only a tailored suit. No one had given him a weather report this morning. It may not have mattered if they had. He was like a zombie, barely walking through the motions.
He wanted so badly to hate his father for dying.
Jake had worked so hard to save him, only to fail. He could not abide the failure. His father was just collateral damage in that respect.
He knew he was being unfair.
Jake stepped from the vehicle and was greeted by Hallie, who took his arm and hunkered near him. He welcomed her warmth and softness. The rain was cold running down his neck.
The day was dark and dreary. The clouds were low and angry, fiercely spitting near-ice projectiles from their midst. He blinked against their tirade.
“Here, take this. We will hang back and give you the privacy you need,” the aide said, handing him a massive umbrella.
“Thank you,” he managed.
Jake realized how surreal this must feel for the agents. Just a few days ago, Jake was a threat to the President. Now, Jake was the honored griever at his funeral.
He and Hallie trudged up the hill, the ground soggy beneath their feet. His shoes filled up with rainwater. The umbrella was good protection, but the noise drowned out conversation.
“It’s cold!” Hallie complained.
It was her first complaint today.
“We won’t be long,” he assured her, yelling over the rain smacking the umbrella.
She looked up at him, her eyes expressive. He could see where Macy got her looks.
“Take your time. I will be fine,” she said.
“Senator Swane may join us at some point.”
She looked up the hill toward the expansive cemetery. The bone white tombstones were grey against the darkened sky.
“I know,” she said. “I invited him.”
Jake was not surprised.
He could only imagine what the man had in mind. It was his connections and checkered past that had inevitably led them to their chase after the ViVeri Consortium. They had managed to cripple what amounted to a small arms manufacturing plant, had assisted in the destruction of the New York offices of the Galbraith Alliance, and had eliminated some key personnel in the process.
The costs had been too great.
Friends dead in their wake. Some of these deaths could be laid directly at his feet. The greatest loss: his father, the President.
He ground his teeth. Partly from the cold, partly from his frustration. He knew he should be overcome with emotion. He was, but the wrong kind.
The ground near the grave was smooth from the masses who had stood here in reverence and respect just an hour ago. He felt cheated. Disillusioned. Alone.
This was unfair to Hallie and he knew it. He drew her close to him.
“I am so glad you are here.”
“Me too. Cold, rainy day. Sad day. And you so torn and distant. You need me. Let me be your rock.”
She said all this while looking ahead, her voice just audible over the pounding rain.
He almost buckled then. Something she said struck a chord with him. He relied too much on himself. He was fiercely independent.
Jake had a wife by his side that had demonstrated her willingness and ability to risk her life for his. He glanced down at her and thought of their child in her womb. He felt the tug of emotion pulling at his throat.
He breathed deeply and hugged her. Kissed the top of her head. Her hair tasted like rain and apples.
The American flag draped over the casket was soaked through. The pewter and brass coffin gleamed with a dull light from the gas lamps around the cemetery.
He saw some movement near the tree line. It was a sentry moving position. He was posted looking the other way. Jake was just glad no one was carrying a camera.
He was a celebrity now. If the stunt at the Washington Nationals Stadium was not enough to get him noticed, then the death of his father, the President surely did the trick.
“They say the ghosts here are thick,” a voice behind him announced.
Jake noted the sadness in the Senator’s words.
Hallie took the Senator’s arm without a word and drew him into a hug.
They stood like that in the rain for several seconds. Jake felt foolish holding the umbrella, standing back from them. Hallie seemed to be drawing strength from the old man. He shivered.
When he looked back at him, Jake noted the moisture running down the Senator’s cheeks was not just rain.
“Glad you came, Senator.”
“I would not miss this for anything,” he said, a sad smile creeping across his face.
“How are you holding up?” Hallie asked.
“As well as can be expected,” he intoned. His voice was hollow. Jake watched him swallow. “She went peacefully the day Gabriel died.” The statement rang untrue to Jake’s ears. He decided to let it drop.
“When was her funeral?” Jake asked.
“Yesterday. We scattered her ashes on the beach by the house. She always loved that place and enjoyed watching the sun come up along the ocean in the morning.”
“I loved that, too. Will we see her from the back porch when we visit?”
“I sold the compound and I am moving down to North Carolina to her family’s beach property. Smaller place. Simpler life. You can join me when this is all over.”
“All over?” Jake asked.
Swane leveled his gaze at him.
“You do not believe this is done, do you? I thought you were smarter than that.”
“So it goes deeper than Clarence and Galbraith?”
“Son, it goes deeper than America. This is a global cancer. We cannot treat it here. We need to come together with other countries and band together to stamp this out. We are the largest target and the linchpin in the process, but we are not the breeding ground.”
“Where is that?” Hallie asked, her eyes bright.
“Europe. The Middle East. Russia. High in the Alps.”
“What are you saying? Who are these people?”
The Senator’s lip trembled. His eyes gleamed in the half-light of the stormy day.
“Monsters,” he said.
“Where do we start?” Jake asked.
“That is why I wanted to visit with you. We need to gather a multi-national team of anti-terrorist and quick-response slayers and move against them with violence. The best defense is an aggressive offense.”
“How do we fit in?” Jake asked.
“I want you to lead a team,” he said.
“I am not a leader,” Jake contended.
“If you aren’t, then I am a Yankee,” Swane argued. “Besides, I have already assembled the team. We just need your help to organize it and lead it.”
“You are kidding, right?”
Hallie nudged him in the ribs.
“Hear him out,” she urged.
He looked down at her, a mixture of awe and respect filling his chest.
“You are behind this?”
She made a face.
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Mr. Monday.”
“We meet in Berlin in two weeks. I have permission from President Walker to remove you from your Secret Service post effective immediately,” the Senator continued. “You will have everything you need. Hallie and Macy will go into a witness protection program for the first six months and then we can discuss future arrangements based on how the task group is operating.”
Jake was shaking his head. His hand was numb from holding the umbrella.
“My family has given enough, Robert. You cannot ask us to do this. You certainly can’t just force it on me,” Jake said. The anger in his voice surprised him.
Swane pursed his lips and did not talk for a moment.
Hallie stared at her feet.
He had stepped over a line and he knew it. He sounded petty. It was expected of him because he was capable. It was expected of him because it was his father. It was expected of him because he had the skills that mattered.
He scrambled for another excuse. Hundreds of qualified men and women existed who could do this as well or better than he could. None of them were the President’s son. None of them had trained as an assassin or had been subjected to memory manipulation and brainwashing. He had every reason in the world to be motivated to exact revenge.