We're Not Gonna Take It
Copyright © 2015 by Al Norris and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
Thursday, Nov. 15th, 12:10
Wanakena, New York
Ranger School Mess Hall
"I tell ya, it's a single group."
"Can't be, Esteban. The two targets are simply too far apart. There's no way that they could hit Fort Drum and make it to Cranberry in an hour and blow both the dam and the bridge." Lieutenant Maxwell argued.
"And that is exactly what they want everyone to think, Maxwell." Staff Sergeant Esteban said, as he was eating his sandwich. "As it is, those damned idiots are all over the place looking for them." Esteban pushed his tray back. "The foreign troops are looking for two groups of militia. They don't have a clue where they're gonna pop up next. There are simply too many targets between Fort Drum, Plattsburgh and Syracuse." Esteban drew a triangle on a paper napkin to emphasize what was going on. He drew some lines to represent the major roads between the three main targets. Next he made some crosses with numbers on the napkin to indicate where the hits had been made.
"We know that Edwards was the first target hit. Two guard positions, roughly a mile and a half apart. I think this was just a test. It made sure they could accomplish a mission and trust their communications to coordinate the attack."
Esteban looked up to see if Lieutenant Maxwell was following and noticed that half a dozen people had congregated, including Commander Coleson. "At this point, they made a direct beeline to Canton, where they took out the railroad crossing at both ends of town. It is what actually happened there that I can conjecture what this group is doing." Esteban raised a hand and began ticking off points on his fingers. "We know that the two over-crossings blew within a few seconds of each other. That alone suggests that they were using timed fuses.
"From what we have overheard on the radios, even before that, these people took out a road-guard on the east end of town. That suggests that the road-guard was a diversion..."
"Why?" Maxwell interrupts.
"Think about it. You've split your group up to cover both ends of town. You're setting up timed charges to blow the overpasses. Yet you take out a road-guard over three quarters of a mile away. Looking at the topo-maps, those guards were no problem for the folks on the east end of the town. So why take them out? No reason unless the team on the west end was somehow compromised and couldn't egress from their position. A hasty diversion, at the east end, was the ticket to get the west end team out. There was really no other reason to take out that roadblock."
"Okey… That sounds plausible. By diverting attention away from the western end of town, that team is able to exfiltrate…"
"Exactly. And since the eastern team was three-quarters of a mile away from the roadblock, they would have had an easy time leaving, with or without the diversion. From this, I conclude that the western team was in some sort of predicament that called for a diversion." Esteban now returned to the hasty map he had drawn.
"We know that the foreign troops began a search of the area that paralleled Highway 11, from Fort Drum up to Potsdam, the next likely target. But what if Potsdam wasn't the next target? What if the next target was an alternative route to supplying Plattsburgh?"
At this point, everyone was listening to this conversation. Another of the instructors had gotten actual topo maps and laid them out on the now cleared table. Lieutenant Maxwell then began tracing out routes across the Adirondacks. "If you were to take out the bridges at Cranberry and Long Lake, you've just cut off Plattsburgh from all resupply, except by air… or a very long ground route across the southern end of the Adirondacks. Now if this is just a civilian militia, they won't be able to go up against Long Lake. There is an armored platoon guarding the bridge and the junction of Highways 30 and 28N. I don't see how they are going to take out armored vehicles."
Commander Coleson decided to get into the conversation at this point. "Maxwell, these guys have to have a network of people that are helping them. There's no way a small group of militia could carry enough explosives to take out two train trestles. Nor could they have disabled the heavy equipment at Canton, as seems to have been done. At least, not in the time frame we are looking at."
"Right Commander." Esteban beamed. "So, we know that they have access to timed charges. They have help. We have to assume that they know the situation at Long Lake. Knowing these things, what would you do, Lieutenant Maxwell?"
"You are saying that they set charges at Cranberry to go off near sunrise, then hightailed it back to Fort Drum to destroy as much of the air-cover as they could? How does that solve the problem at Long Lake?" Maxwell suddenly looked like he had an idea. "Blowing up the aircraft at Fort Drum was another diversion!"
"Yes." Esteban continued, "Fort Drum also has an extensive ammo dump. Ordnance for the aircraft and small arms and munitions for the 10th Mountain Division. I don't know how much explosives it would take to breach the munitions bunkers, but I think that is what they were really after. There has to be something in those bunkers that will take out the armor at Long Lake."
"I don't think these troops even know that the bunkers were targeted." Sergeant Mallory, one of the other instructors commented. "From what Esteban has said, these foreigners have almost no radio discipline. They seem to broadcast everything in the clear. If that is really the case, then we would have heard something about the ammo dump by now."
Commander Coleson straightened up and addressed everyone. "There are other changes in the wind. How many of you would volunteer to help our militia, if we could?... Wait a sec' before you reply... how many of you would volunteer to help fight against Ashwood in another state?" This caused everyone to give questioning looks at each other. "Lieutenant Maxwell, would you tell everyone the call we got this morning?"
"Men, about three hours ago, I intercepted a radio transmission from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). Essentially, they have asked for any Rangers from neighboring states to come to their aid in keeping Ashwood and his troops out of the state. From what I could hear, the State of Maine has declared open war on Ashwood's administration. The governor has activated their Guard and they are now fighting a battle against these foreign troops from taking Portland."
"Thank you, Lieutenant." Coleson nodded to him. "As I see it, we have a couple of options. First is a clear option to help out our brothers in Maine. The second option is to wait around here, hoping we can make contact with this militia and help them out, however we can.
"Personally, I like the first option. Helping others to combat Ashwood is preferable to waiting around on my ass. Maxwell, on the other hand, wants to help out our homemade militia. So, everyone that wants to stay here, assemble around Lieutenant Maxwell. Those that want to try their hand in helping the State of Maine stay free, come on around by me."
It only took a couple of minutes, before it was clear that the majority of the Rangers were going to Maine.
Maxwell, Esteban, Mallory and two rookie Rangers were all that elected to stay behind.
Commander Coleson looked at everyone. "Well, we have our job cut out for us. Sergeant Esteban, if you would unlock the armory and get everyone arms and ammo, including yourselves, the rest of us will begin getting our gear together. Figure on extreme cold weather, both quad runners, snowmobiles; trailers and 4-Wheel trucks. We have until dinner to get it together. Then we will leave under cover of darkness. With any luck, we can make Portland by Sunday."
Between the late breakfast and lunch, the guys had retired for a couple of hours of sleep. Jonathon had awakened them, when their families had gathered for lunch in the main house.
The table had been cleared and everyone was now sitting, drinking coffee. "So the idea of blowing up over half the flight line at Fort Drum was a mere diversion?" Bill asked.
Peter laughed. "Yeah. We needed some stuff that was being stored in the ammo bunkers. What we didn't figure was that our little 'diversion' would destroy so much of the air capability of Fort Drum."
"That may well work to your advantage. They are so pissed at losing all those air assets, that I suspect they aren't aware that the ammo bunkers have been compromised." Bill stated. "At least, there have been no radio transmissions that they are."
"Well, you've dealt them a serious blow, however you look at it. They're gonna be seriously looking for you now." Colin said. "How long do you figure you're staying here?"
Lee looked at all the adults, then said, "As much as we would like to stay here for a while, we have to keep the pressure on. We think it best if we get some more sleep, and leave come nightfall… you know, 'places to go and people to harass'!"
Colin stood up, "I think you're right, son. Folks," Colin announced, "let's get out of here and let the boys get some much needed rest. I know we would all like them to stay, but if they are going to do what they seem to be good at, we need to let them go."
Reluctant goodbyes were said and everyone but the Bradfords left.
Jonathon walked with the guys to Lee's house. "Boys, you rest up. I'll come and get y'all a couple of hours after sunset. Y'all can eat some dinner then be on your way. Sound OK?"
"That sounds good, Dad." Lee said as they all walked into the small house.
"Lieutenant Maxwell!" Sergeant Esteban called out.
Maxwell looked up, "What is it Esteban?"
"I just listened to a transmission from someone called 'Strider' to someone called 'Stormcrow'. 'Strider' said that Cochise was on the warpath and had stolen a longbow. 'Stormcrow' said he would tell 'Striker' about it." Esteban then got a smile on his face. "The one called 'Strider' signed off by congratulating 'Striker' for silencing most of the drums."
"Hmm… Do you think you just heard an intel report meant for our militia guys?"
"Yes sir, I do" Esteban said. "I think that whoever this 'Strider' is, he knows where the next strike is going to be and was giving some kind of information to 'Stormcrow', who is in direct contact with the militia."
"OK. If we work under that assumption, then we want to tell this 'Stormcrow' that we would like to help out. How do you think we should phrase that?" Maxwell was thoughtful for a few moments. "Esteban, let's call ourselves 'Smokey the Bear'. Just one time. After that, we can just use 'Smokey' to identify ourselves."
"That sounds about right. It tells whoever 'Stormcrow' is, who we are. Assuming we make contact, what else do we say?"
"That broadcast you heard? How much time did the whole thing take?"
"Less than ten seconds total."
"Okay. They're trying not to get traced. Send this once: 'Stormcrow this is Smokey the Bear. If Striker needs to hibernate, we have a cave.' then just listen. Don't transmit again unless they want an acknowledgement. I'm gonna get one of the rookies to hightail it over to Sabattis and set up one of the empty houses for these guys. We're gonna need to get some snowmobiles for them, if they don't already have them. But we won't know how many until we can meet with them."
"I agree. Not a lot of folks, outside of Scouts, know about Sabattis. I would think very few to none of the Army at Fort Drum know about it, and it's damned certain those foreigners don't know about it. How about we send four snowmobiles and two sleds to haul their gear? That's a good start, I think."
"Slow down Esteban, one thing at a time. We have to find out if they need or even want our help. Then we can see about what we can supply them with. First thing is to set up the 'cave' should they need to 'hibernate'." Maxwell stood up from his desk. "I'll round up the rookie. You get that message out and monitor the radios. I'll send a relief as soon as I can."
"Oh, and Esteban," Maxwell said as he was walking out of his office, "whatever you do, if you answer a call, keep it as brief as you can and do not say who we are or where we are in the clear!"
Esteban went back to the radio room where he toggled his mic, "Stormcrow, this is Smokey the Bear. If Striker needs to hibernate, we have a cave." He unkeyed his mic and waited.
A minute later he heard, "Roger Smokey. Do you have 256 AES capability?"
"Switch to 155 high and standby to negotiate."
"Roger. Out." Esteban switched over to the desired frequency and waited. A moment later, he could hear the radios synching up.
"Smokey, because the last was in the clear, let's go to 167 low and renegotiate."
"Roger Stormcrow. Switching."
The process was repeated and they now had a secure channel. "Smokey, use this channel to communicate directly to Striker. I will inform them of your message. They will contact you when they are ready, over."
"Roger Stormcrow. We will wait for their call. Be advised that the majority of the Ranger school will be heading out to help in Maine. There will be five of us staying here to help you guys, however we can. We have a safe haven and can supply snowmobiles when needed. Smokey, out." Esteban wrote down the frequency and the encryption codes, got up and reported this to Maxwell.
Maxwell was already talking to Commander Coleson. "Commander, Lieutenant, I've made contact with the militia. They are using a VHF sideband and 256 bit AES encryption. Commander, here are the particulars." Esteban handed a paper to Coleson.
"That's pretty sophisticated equipment to be using for most folk." Maxwell noted.
"Pretty slick, if you ask me." Esteban said. "Oh, and from the response Stormcrow made, it is only a single militia unit."
Maxwell raised an eyebrow. "How did you come to that conclusion, Esteban?"
"Stormcrow said that 'Striker' would contact us directly. Singular, not plural."
Maxwell smiled. "Still not conclusive. I suppose we'll just have to wait."
Since the sun had set an hour and a half earlier, it was now fully dark. The crew had been awake, eaten and were preparing to leave the Bradford's. Jonathon had come out to the barn to say goodbye and give them an envelope. "Ben, Bill came by, just before curfew, and handed me this envelope to give to you. He said it was something you guys needed to see and something I didn't need to know." Jonathon shrugged as he gave the letter to Ben and then headed out the door.
Ben tore open the letter and read it out loud:
Received a message from Strider, warning that there are a couple of Apache choppers at Long Lake, in addition to the 6 Strykers. Not sure how you will deal with that, but they will have to be taken out first. If they get airborne, you guys are toast. They are staged at the soccer field, south of the outfitters & school.
I also received a transmission from the Rangers' School at Wanakena. Call sign: Smokey. They said they can help you with a place to "hide" if you need it. They can also provide you with snowmobiles, when the weather gets bad. To that end, I have set channel 4 up as a way to communicate with them. It's got a separate encryption code. Most of the Rangers are pulling out to help with the State of Maine staying free from Ashwood's control, but 5 Rangers are staying back to help you guys in any way they can.
Good hunting and Godspeed.
"Well, that's a game changer." Ben said.
Peter and Tom looked at each other before Peter said, "On two fronts. If we are to take out that bridge at Long Lake, we absolutely have to take out the choppers first thing. If they get airborne, they will use their FLIR to spot us. We don't have SAMs, so we have to destroy them first, while they are still on the ground."
"Do we trust these Rangers?"
"I think we are going to have to, Lee." Tom answered. "Actually, I think it would be a good idea to contact and meet up with them, before we go looking at the setup at Long Lake. They are bound to have better maps and maybe a better idea of how to attack this problem. What do you think, Ben?"
"I agree. If we take the old Goose Pond Road, cut north to Jayville Road, then over to Star Lake…" Ben was visually thinking the route, "yeah, that makes it about thirty miles in the dark, instead of twenty. But it takes about the same amount of time. What do you all think? Cross country or backroads?"
Paul spoke up, "I think it will be better to save wear and tear on the equipment. Take the road." After a moment of thought, everyone else agreed and nodded.
"All righty then." Ben said as he grabbed his mic and changed channels. "Striker leader to Smokey."
Almost immediately they all heard, "This is Smokey, wait one."
After about a minute they heard a different voice, "This is Smokey Leader, go."
"Smokey, Striker. I think we need to talk. We are three hours out. Can you have some coffee on?"
"Roger that. We'll be waiting. Smokey out."
Ben replaced the mic and mounted his quad. "Let's get going guys."
"I'll get the doors and bring up the rear." Lee said, as he walked to the entrance of the barn and opened one of the big doors.
Lieutenant Maxwell gave the mic back to Sergeant Mallory, who was manning the radio room. "Well it looks like we are going to meet our local militia in a couple of hours."
"With that wind blowing out there, you might want to have one of the rookies make some sandwiches to go with the coffee."
"Hmm, grilled cheese and tomato soup is always good on a cold night."
It was dark, cold and windy as the guys took to the trails. The moon was a thin crescent and although it was waxing, there was more light from the stars overhead. This was enough to see the trails though. Since the trails were devoid of vegetation, they actually stood out in the dim light.
Considering the extra weight that they were carrying, it was probably a good thing they didn't go overland. All the extra bouncing around might have damaged something.
As it is, there was enough bouncing on the graveled trails. Tonight though, it was the wind that was the biggest factor in traveling. While the daytime temps had been in the mid to upper forties and the lows had rarely dipped below freezing, it seemed the Indian summer was coming to an end. It had been above freezing when they had left Harrisville, it was now freezing or below. Coupled with the wind chill, it was getting downright nasty. The further into the Adirondacks they traveled, the colder it was going to get.
Still, they had made good time.
Their trail had taken them south of the small community of Star Lake and then northwards up to Sunny Pond, where they hopped onto State Route 3. From there it was a short three mile ride to the turnoff at County Road 61 down to Wanakena and the cutoff to the Ranger School.
As they proceeded to the main building at the Ranger School, Ben keyed his mic on the alternate channel, "Smokey this is Striker actual."
Sergeant Mallory was on duty at the comm station. "Striker, Smokey, over."
"Roger Smokey. We are almost at your backdoor. We have seven heavy quads, where do you want us, over?"
"Striker, come on around to the backside of the east wing. We have coffee and a meal ready for you. We can sort out everything else, once you have had a chance to warm up, over."
"Roger, Smokey. Be there in less than five mikes, out."
Mallory keyed the intercom, "Lieutenant Maxwell, the militia is about to arrive. Better get the soup and sandwiches warmed up."
"Thank you, Sergeant. Get ahold of Commander Coleson on our secure channel and let him know that the package has arrived." Maxwell got up from his desk and walked down the hall to the auxiliary mess in the east wing. Entering the room he called out, "George, Ron, make sure the soup and sandwiches are warmed up. Emilio, get outside and make sure their quadrunners are under the awning."
The two rookies went into the kitchen and made sure the steam table was keeping things toasty, while the Staff Sergeant went to the back door to direct the newcomers.
A couple of minutes later, Emilio came back inside followed by seven men. "Why don't you guys grab a table or two over there. We have some soup and sandwiches ready for you."
As the guys walked over to the tables, Maxwell started the introductions. "I'm Lieutenant Maxwell, assistant to Commander Coleson. He and most of the Rangers are on their way to Maine to help keep them free from Ashwood's goons. Staff Sergeant Esteban met you outside. Sergeant Mallory is manning the comms right now, and Rangers Hardy and Anderson are getting your meal together."
Ben reached out and shook Maxwell's hand. "Pleased to meet you guys. I'm Ben Stoddard, the elected commander of our group." Ben pointed to the others as he named them off.
With introductions out of the way, the two Rangers came out of the kitchen. George was carrying a large tray of grilled cheese sandwiches, while Ron carried a pot of tomato soup. Everyone, including the Rangers, began to dig in.
"So, our contact said you folks had a place for us to snuggle in, should things get too hot to be out and about?" Ben asked between bites.
"Do you guys know about a large Boy Scout camp called Sabattis?" Maxwell asked. Seeing nods from the guys, he continued. "Well, two of the four residences are empty. Earlier today, we opened up and stocked one of them. It's a three bedroom unit with an open but covered carport that should hide your quads from any overhead observation. If you know the layout of the camp, it's the first unit that is just west of the lodge." The guys nodded, as they knew exactly which house the Lieutenant was speaking of.
"As late as it is getting, I don't believe you can do much more tonight." Maxwell rubbed his chin. "So I suggest you spend the night here, and we can all make plans tomorrow. From the broadcast we overheard, I take it you plan on taking out the bridge at Long Lake? If so, I think we can help you with a little recon."
At this revelation, Ben wasn't exactly smiling. "Did that actually come over a clear channel?"
"No. But knowing what you guys have already done, the message that 'Cochise was on the warpath and had stolen a longbow' seemed pretty clear to us. Clear enough that we made contact with your 'Stormcrow', got a secured channel and told him that we were willing to help." Maxwell leaned into the table as he looked into Ben's eyes. "You can settle an argument between me and Esteban.
"Guards at Edwards were taken out." Maxwell began ticking off fingers. "Two train trestles at Canton were dropped. The assault on the Fort Drum air wing. And finally, the dam and bridge at Cranberry. Was that all just by your group, or is there another group of militia operating around here?"
Ben took a moment to look at his men, before turning back to look at the Rangers. Pursing his lips, he came to a decision. "Maxwell, with what you have already told us about where the rest of the Rangers are, what you have done to prepare a hideaway for us, I believe we can trust you."
"Thank you, Ben. We really want to help you free our state from Ashwood's control. That's why we stayed back here, instead of going with Commander Coleson to Maine."
Finished with his meal, Ben pushed his plate aside and grabbed his coffee cup. "As far as I know, it's just us."
Esteban brought over a large pot of coffee and began filling all of their cups. "I told you, Lieutenant," he gloated.
Maxwell ignored him as he addressed Ben. "So how do you plan on taking out the garrison at Long Lake? What is the actual objective?"
It was Peter that answered the Lieutenant. "The objective is to harass and delay the enemy as best we can. We know that to have control of the Canadian border, the enemy needs to control several things from Fort Drum to Plattsburgh. By denying an easy route through the Adirondacks, we force the enemy supply lines to longer routes.
"Long Lake is the last easy route across the area. By dropping that bridge, we cut off two major routes. The bridge at Cranberry takes out State Route 3 and Long Lake takes care of State Route 30. The trestles at Canton stops the supplies going north to Ogdensburg and Massena from Fort Drum. That also blocked US 11 for a couple of days. We will have to revisit that by taking out the bridge at Potsdam to block several other State Routes to Plattsburgh."
Ben took up the conversation again. "After Long Lake, some other friends are set to blow the crossing of Interstate 81 at the Salmon River crossing near Pulaski. Doesn't matter if it is successful or not, as it is just a diversion for our attack back north at Potsdam." Ben poured some more coffee, before he continued. "By getting the enemy to look towards Syracuse, they won't expect another attempt on Highway 11. If we time it correctly, we will be long gone before they can regain their balance."
Maxwell nodded. "You've certainly limited their response when you took out most of the air wing at Fort Drum."
The guys all laughed at that. It was Tom who spoke up. "Yeah. That was kind of a bonus. Blowing up the flightline was a diversion, so we could get into the ammo dump and retrieve some Javelin anti-armor missiles. That was what we were really after. We didn't expect to have to deal with a couple of Apache attack choppers at Long Lake though. That puts a bit of a kink in our plans."
"I can see where it would. You would have to take them out before they could get off the ground… do you have enough missiles to take the choppers and the Strykers?"
"We took eight Javelins to destroy the six Strykers. Our thinking was that if we had two misses, we still could get the job done. Now, it looks like Tom and Peter are going to have to make sure that each shot counts. There is no longer any margin for error." Ben told them.
"I have an idea, but I want to think on it some more, before I say what I'm thinking." Maxwell said. "Guys, why don't we all get some sleep and I will let you know in the morning, as we eat breakfast. That sound ok?"
The guys all nodded. Esteban started to get the dirty dishes together as he looked at George. "Hardy? Would you show our guests to their quarters, while I clean up this mess?"
"Sure thing, Sarge. If you're all done, why don't you guys follow me."
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