Broad Stripes and Bright Stars
Dawn's Early Light Book II
Copyright © 2015 by Ken Barber and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
Author's note: This is a continuation of "Dawn's Early Light". The characters have begun to take on the role of actively fighting the second US Civil War. If you have not read "Dawn's Early Light" I would recommend you consider reading it first.
05:30 EST 16 November 2012.
USS Ronald Reagan
Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of Florida
Admiral Norris stood at the stern of the Ronald Reagan watching the coast of Florida slowly disappear below the horizon. The Reagan, its escorts and the HMS Illustrious and its escorts had started their dash to assist the beleaguered forces in Maine. The FS Charles De Gaulle and its escorts, along with the USS North Carolina, stayed behind to support the forces in Florida.
The submarines of the group had raced ahead to scout Virginia Beach and Long Island Sound. Norris was sure most of the ships stationed at Virginia Beach had been ordered out to sea before the war started. His biggest concern was the naval base in New London, Connecticut. The base had been extensively extended and refitted in the almost four years Ashwood had been in office. Most of the changes were kept secret and whatever was there could prove to be a major issue for the group. All of the aircraft carriers were accounted for, so at least they knew the battle for air superiority would be easier.
A lot of their planning was hinging on what the submarines would find. Until then their first priority was to secure Maine.
Norris watched until the coast slipped out of sight. Then turned and walked back to the superstructure. He started to head to CIC but turned and headed to the sickbay instead. He opened the door and stopped as he saw Germs reading to the still unconscious Cadet Peters. He listened for a minute and chuckled to himself. A graphic novel, sometimes he forgot that these guys were really still kids themselves.
He slipped in quietly and started to walk up behind Germs. Germs was on his feet and spun around to face him before he even made it halfway. Norris ignored the reaction and continued over to him. "How's he doing, Germs?"
"The same sir. Doc says he should be awake soon."
"Make sure someone tells me when he wakes. How is the other boy?"
"He still won't talk, but at least he is eating."
Norris nodded and started to walk towards a curtained off area to see the boy himself. He paused and turned back, he picked up two of the comics from the table beside Cadet Peters' bed. "May I borrow these Germs?"
"Of course sir."
Norris took the two and walked over to the curtained area and slipped inside. The boy looked up and then looked away. Norris smiled. "I brought you some comic books." He held them out and the boy just tried to roll further away in his bed. "I will just set them on the table here for you. If you don't like comic books, I can have an orderly get you something else."
Still the boy said nothing. Norris sighed. "Listen, I really want to help you, but you got to tell me something. Start with you name, how could that hurt?"
The boy mumbled something. "What was that?" Norris stepped closer.
The boy spun around in the bed. "I said just fucking get it over with."
Norris stepped back. "Get what over with."
"Just fucking rape me already, kill me, torture me whatever, but quit pretending to be fucking nice, it's disgusting." The boy started to cry.
Norris just stood there in shock. He pulled over a chair and sat down. "My name is Admiral Augustus Norris, Commander-in-Chief, US Naval Forces Atlantic Ocean. I promise you if anybody in my command lays a hand on you I personally will see to it they'll never see the light of day again. That includes me." The boy just stared at him. "We have removed you from the detention center in Orlando and you are now aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. I don't know how I can convince you, but we are not here to hurt you or harm you."
The boy just smiled at him.
"What else can I tell you to convince you to trust me?"
The boy laughed. "Trust you? Yeah right... Fuck off Almighty Admiral. You can do what you want to me I will never tell you where the disc is."
Norris looked puzzled for a minute. "What disc? Son, I honestly don't know what you're talking about."
He laughed again. "Well, when you are ready to get to the point of fucking me to try to get me to tell you, let me know so we can just skip all this bullshit."
Norris just shook his head. "I am sorry this is happening to you. I will be back to visit soon."
Norris stood and as he left he heard a sob. He paused for a moment but then continued on. He passed Germs and Cadet Peters and walked right out of the sickbay without saying a word. He marched into the CIC. "Somebody find me something to blow up, now." The CIC went silent and Miller stood up. He walked over to Norris and took his good arm and guided him outside.
"Aggy, not the kind of thing we want to hear from an Admiral with nukes at his disposal."
"I know Miller, but if you had been in the room with me talking to that kid. He is protecting something and he is willing to die protecting it. He is just a kid, for Christ's sake."
Miller nodded just as Payne walked up. "Sorry to interrupt Admiral, Captain, but we finished analyzing all the data from the list the VP gave us. It's really just a list of people considered undesirables. No hidden code or data. The list is extensive and we are going to transmit it to all front line commanders and refugee centers as quickly as possible. I can tell you this, who ever got that disc to the VP just saved a lot of lives."
Norris nodded and then froze. "The FUCKING DISC." He turned and started jogging back to the sickbay while yelling over his shoulder. GET ME THE VICE PRESIDENT, NOW!"
Norris barged into the sickbay, causing Germs to vault out of his seat and start reaching for his weapon. "Germs get Bucky and get some Marines on this kid 24-7." He pointed to the curtained off area.
Doctor McCray came out of his office. "Aggy, what's going on?" Norris just waved him down and threw open the curtains.
"The disc, we have it already, it's over, we have it."
The boy started crying. "Did you kill him?"
Norris looked puzzled. "Kill who? No you don't understand, I work for President Bryce, whoever you gave the disc to is safe in Washington State with the Vice President."
He stopped crying for a minute. "Please tell me this isn't some cruel torture method?"
"I promise it's not. The list is in safe hands and for god's sake son, you're safe."
"Why should I believe you, how do I know you're not just like the rest?" Payne had just stepped into the sickbay.
Norris held up his hand for Payne to wait. "How about I show you, I will be right back."
Norris walked over and took the tablet Payne offered him. On the screen was the Vice President. "Just a moment longer, sir, I am sorry."
The boy watched him step into the hallway and looked around the room. Everyone was quiet and waiting for the Admiral to come back. It took about five minutes of awkward silence before Norris walked back in smiling.
He walked over to the boy and handed him the tablet. "There is someone that wants to talk to you."
The screams from the tablet and sobs from the boy were overwhelming to everyone in the room and most turned their heads and tried to hide the fact that they were wiping a tear.
"Kevin, oh my god, please tell me you're ok, please!"
"But I saw you get blown up, I thought you were dead, damn you Brett, I thought you were dead."
"I thought I was, too, I am so glad you're ok Kevin. I miss you so much." The two started crying again and it took a minute for them to settle back down.
"Kevin, where are you and what did you do with the thing I gave you?"
"Brett, I did it... I made it to Washington and gave the disc to the man in charge, the Vice President. He is in charge there. I gave him the disc."
Brett started sobbing again. "Little Man you did good. We are safe now."
"Brett.... when can I see you? Where are you? Are you Ok? Are you hurt?"
"I am fine Little Man. I am on a navy ship with some good people, I will get to you as soon as possible."
"Brett the picture is getting fuzzy, I miss you so much, I love you, come here please."
"I will try Little Man, I love you, too."
Norris stepped up and whispered. "The satellites are moving out of range."
"Kevin, we are going to lose the signal, I love you, be strong."
The tablet went dark and the boy handed it back to Norris. "Brett."
"My name is Brett."
Norris smiled. "Brett, I am Aggy, welcome aboard the USS Ronald Reagan." Bucky and Flex walked in disheveled and still tucking in uniform shirts.
Bucky looked at the Admiral. "You wanted to see me, Admiral?"
Norris chuckled. "I see you're taking advantage of the fact your bunk mate is not here to interrupt you two."
Bucky blushed, Flex laughed. "Not in front of the kids Admiral."
Brett was looking at them oddly.
Bucky stood beside the Admiral. "What did you need, sir?"
"I want guards on this kid 24-7. No one gets near him unless I approve it."
"Yes sir... right away, sir."
Norris turned to Brett. "Brett, this is Bucky. He is the Navy SEAL commander and is going to make sure you are kept safe."
Brett looked at Bucky. "You're a Navy SEAL?"
"Yes sir, I am."
"And you were just screwing the Army guy?"
Everyone nearly choked. Bucky straightened his back a little. "Regardless of what you may have heard, the Army and the Navy often work well together and as this is my boyfriend we prefer to call it love making."
Brett blushed. "I didn't mean any disrespect. It's just in my world all the gays in the military hide it and then hire someone like me because I keep my mouth shut... Well I don't talk."
Norris walked over to the bed and sat down beside Brett. "Brett, that life is over, you are in a safe place now. We will watch out for you. Now can you tell me how you came across that disc?"
He laughed. "It was easy, as General Connors' favorite rentboy, he assumed I was only good for one thing. He thought I was stupid and I overheard him telling one of his aides about the disc. After he was done one night and passed out snoring as was his normal routine, I slipped out of bed and stole the disc. I left and that is the night we tried to get out of DC. He caught us and I gave myself up. I had a blank disc I used as a decoy and I distracted him long enough for me to toss a grenade behind him. My brother Kevin and some friends ran. Kevin had the real disc. The concussion of the grenade threw the general forward shielding all but my legs." He paused and looked down and started to tear up.
McCray stepped up. "That's enough for now Admiral, let the boy rest."
Brett looked at the doctor. "It's fine, sir I can keep going."
"The hell you can. These people maybe telling you the world is going to be wonderful and filled with rainbows and unicorns, but I am not going to pull any punches you have a lot of healing to do both physically and emotionally. You need to rest now."
Norris stood and looked around the room. "Bucky, you and Felix watch over this young man like hawks. Brett, get some rest, we will talk again soon."
Norris walked back to the CIC and went straight to Collins and Payne. "Any word from the subs?"
Payne looked up at him. "Not yet, sir. They should be settling into their positions now. Ohio will be further out and will transmit all the data they collect."
"Let me know when they start transmitting. Myers, get Commodore Chase and Major Scarp over here, then get Bucky and Colonel Rodriguez and bring them all to my office. Miller you're with us as well."
06:09 EST 16 November 2012.
USS Rhode Island
Long Island Sound
"Captain we are in position."
Captain Tristan Cole nodded. "All stop. Run up the antennae. All silent, Sonar, start recording and identifying signatures."
"Helm, we are at all stop."
"Comms, antenna is up ready to receive and transmit."
The boat's XO, Commander Rick Walker entered the CON. "Captain all of the subs in the squadron should be in position, Sonar has their positions marked."
"Thank you, Rick. Now we wait."
06:12 EST 16 November 2012.
USS Ronald Reagan
Ensign Collins waved to the Admiral. "Sir, we have received burst ELF transmission from Ohio. All subs in position. HMS Regent and HMS Prince report Norfolk Defense Vessels in defensive screen non aggressive."
Norris nodded. "Good, now we wait. I will be in my office."
On the way to his office Norris ran into Bucky and Flex. He nodded to them. "Walk with me. Brett resting?"
Felix smiled. "He is sound asleep. He tries to sound tough but the kid is a mess."
Norris smiled. "Look after him as much as you can, please."
"Already planned on it, Admiral." Felix was actually beaming with pride. "The kid needs to know he has friends and he needs to know he can be loved."
Bucky smiled at him and put his arm around him as Felix started to cry a little. He wiped his eyes. "Sorry Admiral but Brett has no family, no one to turn to. He has dedicated his life to looking out for his brother, it's time he lived his life, it's time he had a reason to live himself. It's going to be even tougher with his legs and all."
Norris had stopped and was staring at him. "Why Colonel Rodriguez I do believe your paternal instincts are taking over. Now let's get to my office and get some coffee."
As they entered the office Seaman James was just setting the coffee and some muffins out. Lieutenant Perez and Sergeant Barnum were off in the corner talking and Corpsman Taylor was helping Seaman James.
James fixed them all coffee and then shooed the rest out of the office. Norris just shook his head. "I feel like some damn baron with people fussing around me all the time. It's getting annoying."
Bucky laughed as he sipped his coffee. "Get used to it, Boss, it's not going to stop anytime soon."
06:22 EST 16 November 2012.
USS Rhode Island
Long Island Sound
"Con, Sonar, we are tracking eight surface contacts. Most are on patrol patterns, two are cargo vessels, one a Seawise Giant class oil tanker and based on its position, speed and displacement its full and will reach the mouth of the river in ten minutes. It's got to be delivering fuel to the base."
Cole looked at the charts. "Designate targets Sierra 1 though 8 and plot firing solutions. Weaps, I want targets on those surface ships." He paused and pointed at a map. "And these two bridges. If shit gets crazy and we have to pull out, we fire on the bridges first. Taking them out will slow down reinforcements to Maine."
Cole studied the charts for a couple minutes "XO, traffic is pretty heavy, have evasion routes planned just in case we need to hightail it out of here."
"You got it, Skipper."
"Captain, XO?" The newest officer on the boat Lieutenant Danzel Black walked over to the two senior officers.
"What do you have Weaps." Captain Cole replied using the traditional address for a Weapons Officer.
"Sir, if we fire on the bridges from here, our missile trajectory will pass right over those destroyers and the base. We have to assume they can shoot down most of the missiles."
Cole nodded. "Good point, what is your alternative?"
"We wait and fire further out to sea. Corsair Canyon at the edge of the continental shelf would put our missiles on a due west trajectory. We already have the targets' GPS coordinates loaded, so we could easy fire and then slip into the canyon."
Cole stood there looking at the chart. "I can't find any fault with his logic, what about you XO?"
"None at all sir."
"Good, let's call it a plan."
"CON, SONAR, FISH IN THE WATER. TWO FISH IN THE WATER. Target is the Seawise Giant, she just entered the mouth of the river."
"Signature matches Tupelev sir."
"What the fuck is he doing?"
"CON, TUPELEV JUST PUT TWO MORE FISH IN THE WATER."
"TWO MORE FISH IN THE WATER FROM PROVIDENCE."
Cole nodded. "That thing will block the mouth of the river for a long time. Weaps, standby to fire two missiles on each surface contact."
"SIERRA 4, THREE FISH IN THE WATER, targeting Tupelev. Providence is diving. Surface ships are responding. Seawise is trying to turn."
The entire submarine shuddered as sixteen missiles flew out of their tubes, up and out through the water.
"DIVE OFFICER, make your depth 85 feet 20 degrees down. Helm, come about full make your course 065."
"CON, SONAR, Seawise is hit, we count all six hits on the Seawise she going down fast."
"Sierra 3 is pinging actively and she is racing toward us."
Captain Cole never lost his cool. "Level bubble, helm left rudder to 045."
"Bubble is level."
"Tupelev is hit, we count two hits on Tupelev. She is breaking up sir."
Cole nodded. "Helm come right to 048, ahead 4 knots. Dive officer, 3 degrees down bubble. Silent ship."
The giant submarine slowly and quietly slipped into the thermal currents off the coast of Block Island. She crawled her way around the island and slipped into the deeper currents running north east until she was just about to cross the continental shelf.
Cole looked around the conning tower. "All stop. Weaps, get your targets loaded up fast. Comms, get my report sent to Reagan now."
"Sonar, how's it looking out there?"
"All quiet sir."
"Very well, let's see if there is a destroyer parked on top of us. Periscope up." Cole did a 360 degree search of the area. "Down periscope. Weaps, you ready?"
"Targeting set... Missiles in launch ready status."
This time the shudder through the boat was stronger as thirty-two Tomahawk missiles took off racing to their targets. The captain did not waste time. "Comms, transmit priority flash message to Ronald Reagan"
"Aye sir, message sent"
"Dive officer, 5 degrees on the down bubble. Helm, ahead 20 knots. Let's get a peek at Boston Harbor now."
10:52 EST 16 November 2012.
USS Ronald Reagan
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean
Admiral Norris was just finishing up going over the battle plans with the senior officers when Myers tapped on the door and poked her head in. "Sir, Priority Flash message from USS Rhode Island."
"Let's have it."
She walked in and handed him the message. Norris was quiet as he read the message all the way to the end. He looked around the room before speaking. "Captain Ruslan of the RFS Tupelev saw an opportunity to bottle the enemy fleet at harbor in New London. A Seawise Giant Class super oil tanker was entering the mouth of the river fully loaded with fuel. Ruslan fired four torpedoes and the USS Providence joined in with two. All six torpedoes found their mark and the Seawise has sunk in the mouth of the river, effectively blocking the naval base."
Commodore Chase smiled. "Damn brilliant of the chap, You will have to give him a medal."
"I will except it will be posthumous. The surface fleet returned fire and sunk the Tupelev."
"Oh Hell... My sincere apologies Aggy."
"Not necessary John. He knew what he was doing. He was surrounded by a fleet of six surface ships." Norris stood up and walked around the room, everyone was quietly watching him. "We have lost a valuable asset, and a valuable ally. The Crew and Officers of the Tupelev will be honored. Their sacrifice will allow us time to deal with the largest Naval presence in the Northeast." He paused.
"Gentlemen, let's get back to our commands and start preparing for tomorrow night. I have to reach out to the President, he is going to need to inform the Russians of the Tupelev's heroic sacrifice."
Just before lunch the communications team was able to patch together a signal to reach President Bryce. With no satellites in range they had to use the Transoceanic carrier signal to a Canadian naval station in Nova Scotia, Canada. The naval station boosted the signal and sent it on over a closed military network to a station in Vancouver. The station in Vancouver resent the transmission to the US through relayed burst radio transmissions. Admiral Norris received a reply thirty-eight minutes after he sent the message.
Will inform the Russian Federation
Norris looked at the message and then handed it to Myers to file. "Things are almost getting back to normal. Direct and to the point, as it should be." As Myers was opening the door to head back to her office, a very nervous Corpsman was standing there.
"Commander Myers, Doctor McCray told me to get the Admiral immediately. Cadet Peters is awake."
Norris didn't even respond, he stood, picked up a file on his desk, and marched out the door. He didn't say a word as he entered the sickbay. Doctor McCray, Germs and a couple corpsmen were hovering over the cadet. Bucky and Rodriguez were standing next to Brett's bed watching.
Norris walked up and stood at the end of the bed. "All able personnel, Attention to Orders." Everyone stopped and stood at attention. Cadet Peters was staring up at him. "Cadet Matthew Peters, By Order of the President of The United States, Jackson Bryce, for Extraordinary Heroism, Exemplary Courage, Fortitude, Honor and Loyalty in the face of overwhelming odds, it is my honor to present to you the Distinguished Service Cross. I have also been granted the privilege of presenting you with your Presidential Commission to Officer of the United States Army rank Second Lieutenant." Norris paused. "Colonel Rodriguez, I think it more fitting for an Army Officer to administer the Oath."
Felix nodded. "Yes sir, my pleasure." He stepped up beside Norris who turned slightly to the side. "Lieutenant Peters, raise your right hand, please." He started to raise his right hand but everyone could tell it was weak, Germs reached over and held his hand in the air. Norris nodded for Rodriguez to continue. "Lieutenant Peters, repeat after me please.
"I, Matthew Peters, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated in the Rank of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."
By the end of the Oath, Peters had tears streaming down his face. Norris stepped beside the bed and looked around. "Everyone out now." Everyone obeyed except Germs who stood his ground, Norris looked at him smiled and sat down on the side of the bed. "Lieutenant Peters, I am Admiral Augustus Norris, I know you still have no idea what is happening, but you have been the hope and drive of a lot of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen for the past week. We have scoured the whole East Coast for you and when we finally found you, we were prepared to move heaven and earth to rescue you. I will let Germs here fill you in on the details when the time is right but I have one question for you. Will you join us in the fight against those who did this to you and your family?"
Peters stared into Norris's eyes and with every ounce of conviction and strength he could muster. "Until my dying breath escapes my lips, sir."
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