Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book II
Broad Stripes
and Bright Stars

by Ken Barber

In Progress

Chapter 8

Posted: 31 Dec 15

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars
Dawn's Early Light Book II

Copyright © 2015 by Ken Barber and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

13:45 EST 20 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, Maine

Broad Stripes LogoThe helicopter landed as close as it could to the field hospital without getting in the way of the incoming Medevac choppers. The skids had barely touched the ground before Doctor McCray and Doctor Campini were sprinting across the tarmac, with Admiral Norris and his security team right behind them. As they entered the building, Norris stopped and watched the two doctors wade into the cluster of casualties, barking orders at corpsmen, like two generals marching into a battle.

Norris kept his team back as he observed the scene. The smell of blood and charred skin assaulted his nose, while the sounds of crying mixed with occasional screams reached his ears. He could see pools of blood on the ground and the medical teams moving as quickly as they could to attend to all the patients. Norris's gaze settled on a corpsman reaching with his hands to apply pressure to wounds on two separate patients. Norris walked over snatched a pair of gloves out of the box on a cart, stretched them over his hands and removed the corpsman's hand from one wound.

The corpsman looked up and without flinching said to the admiral. "Lots of pressure on the wound Admiral. If you think you may be hurting him, apply even more pressure."

Norris nodded. "Understood." He pushed down on the gash on the man's leg and heard a gasp come from the patient. Norris looked up and into the fearful eyes of a teen boy. Norris leaned in. "Relax, son, I know it hurts but you're safe now. The doctors will be here soon and get you fixed up."

The boy tried to put on a brave face. "You're not a doctor?"

Norris chuckled a little. "Not even close, just lending a hand. My name is Aggy, what's yours?"

"Kyle." The boy got out between gritted teeth.

"Kyle, if you feel up to it, can you tell me what happened?"

Kyle nodded and fought back the tears. "Field stuck at the hotel...we saw them sink the Constitution...teachers decided we should try to make it back." He paused to take a deep breath.

Norris used his free hand to reach up and wipe the hair out of the boy's eyes. "It's ok Kyle you're doing fine, take your time."

"Guards at a checkpoint stopped us. Mister Kimms tried to talk to them...they didn't understand English....Oh my God they shot Mister Kimms!" The boy began crying and turned his head away. "Why, why did they have to shoot him? He was a really nice guy."

Norris did his best to comfort the boy as the corpsman came back over and removed Norris' hand from the wound and looked at it, then the boy. "Ok, I heard your name is Kyle, I am Corpsman Darren Little, I am going to give you a shot for the pain. It's strong so you might pass out, ok?"

Kyle looked at him. "Wait... Mister Grady told the driver to go...we took off...they chased us. Everyone was screaming...they were shooting at us. The bus crashed."

Admiral Norris held onto the boy's shoulders. "We know the rest Kyle, let the corpsman do his job now."

Corpsman Little used a large needle to inject a clear liquid into the boy's thigh and slowly the boy fell into unconsciousness. Doctor McCray stepped beside Corpsman Little. "Little, let's see the wound."

Little pulled the bandage back and blood began oozing out of the twelve inch gash in the teen's thigh. McCray quickly grabbed a large gauze pad and placed it over the wound. "Little, I need a trauma surgical kit. We have to clamp off the arteries or this kid will bleed out. Find me Doctor Campini. Norris, hold here and here." He grabbed Admiral Norris's hands and placed them on the edges of the wound. "Dewitt, get on the horn and send a chopper to Maine Health, I need more blood, O negative stat." McCray looked up and saw Myers walking in. "Myers, get the medical records of all Military personnel at the command center off my laptop, any with O negative blood need to donate now."

Myers paused and looked at the admiral, who did not even acknowledge the situation, before she trotted over to McCray's laptop.

Little appeared out of nowhere with the cart and Doctor Campini. "Admiral, I can relieve you now and assist the doctors, thank you very much for your help sir."

Norris nodded, stepped back, stripped off the gloves dripping with blood and surveyed the scene. There were three stretchers covered completely out of the sixteen that came in. He took a deep breath and spotted a lone civilian adult standing off to the side just staring at the carnage.

Norris walked over and stood beside him. "Are these kids in your care?"

"What? Umm yes I am their teacher."

"I am Admiral Norris, you must be Mister Grady. Kyle told me a little about what happened. Are you injured at all?"

The man started crying. "No, just some bruises."

Norris put his arm around Mr. Grady. "Come on, let's go somewhere a little more quiet, let the medical professionals do their job." He guided the teacher out of the main room and into the corridor. There was a small office to the right just as he entered, Lieutenant Payne came jogging down the corridor. "Sir you are needed in the command center, the power techs say they will be ready in about fifteen minutes."

"Get this man a cup of coffee and find a corpsman, tell them he is here. The doctors are going to want to talk to him." He started to walk away and then turned back. "Payne, he and the kids have been in Boston for a couple of days at least. Talk to them and find out if they know anything about the city."

"Yes sir."

14:20 EST 20 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, Maine

Norris stood beside Jerry Brent in the command center. Both were waiting for the radio call that would tell them the last relay station was reprogrammed.

"Jerry, I didn't think of this before but what is going to stop Ashwood from just tripping the relay stations again?"

Jerry smiled. "Actually, we thought about it. We blocked all communication from outside our controlled area. Your Lieutenant Payne helped us put in some new encryptions he got from a group he referred to as the Chipmunks."

Norris chuckled. "Then it should be damn hard to crack."

"Tomahawk and Light Man this is Juliette. Final installation complete."

Norris nodded to the comm tech. "Juliette this is Tomahawk, return home."

Jerry picked up his radio. "All power generators standby for reconnection, acknowledge when ready."

Jerry looked at the admiral. "We have to do this all at the same time or it will put too much strain on the generators."

"Westbrook at full capacity, we are ready."

"Israeli Navy Powership Mercy ready."

“Israeli Navy Powership Hope ready."

"Lewiston Hydroelectric ready."

"Canadian Light and Power, we are prepared."

Jerry took a deep breath. "All power stations begin transmission in"

The lights flickered overhead as the generators kicked off and the power returned. Norris looked over when he heard a loud noise. A blender in a shop across the hall came on. A seaman walking by stopped and shut it off.

"Myers, get a hold of the governor; see if he can spare people to start going to all abandoned homes and shut off all appliances. Then put a detail together to comb the airport for anything running."

"On it sir."

Jerry was beaming and the room erupted in cheers. Norris patted him on the back. "One state repowered, forty-nine to go."

Jerry just laughed. "Gotta start somewhere, right sir."

Lieutenant Payne stood beside the Admiral. "Sir, we can start recording your radio speech anytime you have finished writing it."

Norris sighed. "Let's do that now."

Payne turned and looked at him with surprise. "You have already written it sir?"

"Nope, let's wing it."

Norris left the room where they had recorded his speech, started walking back to the command center but stopped and turned to the medical wing. He was approaching the main area where he had watched the medical teams react and respond to sixteen injured kids earlier that day. He looked into a room and noticed Peters and Brett sitting in beds talking. As he entered he noticed another bed with a sleeping form in it.

"Gentlemen, am I disturbing you?"

Peters sat up straight. "Not at all sir."

Brett just smiled. "Well, we were talking about you, so actually yes, but it is a lot more fun to talk about someone behind their back than to their face so...nope not disturbing us at all."

Peters' face turned four shades of red. "Sir, we were not talking about you at all. You were not even mentioned. I am sorry sir. Brett, why would you say that?"

Brett got that mischievous grin on his face. "Well at least I didn't tell him that you were telling me how cute Germs is."

Just at that moment Germs came walking through the door and stopped dead in his tracks and shrugged his shoulders. "Well shit, I am cute, so no surprise there. Admiral sorry to interrupt."

Norris shrugged one shoulder. "No interruption Germs. Glad to see you're doing well. Brett on the other hand, well he might just end up pushing the wrong admiral's buttons and end up getting left here when we return to the Reagan."

Brett chuckled before Norris continued. "I also just stopped to check in on you guys before checking on the kids that came in earlier."

Brett pointed at the sleeping form in the bed across from him. "That's one of them. He has been sleeping for hours."

Norris walked over and looked down and smiled. "It's Kyle."

"You know him sir?"

"Not really Brett, just met him, before his surgery."

"So you wouldn't have asked if he is gay or straight would you, cause he is super cute?"

Norris looked down and noticed Kyle's eyes were open and there was a huge smile on his face. The admiral turned and looked at Brett. "That is a question I would never ask even in the best situations."

A corpsman walked over and looked at Kyle's chart then went to check his IVs. "Ah, I see you're awake, how are you feeling?"

Kyle turned over and tried to sit up. "I am feeling super cute."

Brett turned beet red and Norris busted up laughing. "Someone that can make Brett blush, I like this kid."

Norris headed to the door and stopped. "Germs, take a few minutes here with Peters and then grab Bucky and Snoops and come find me. I want to see what we can do about getting eyes on or in the major cities."

"Yes sir."

Norris started to walk out. "Admiral. Hold on for a second."

Norris turned around and saw Brett nervously chewing on his lip. He kept glancing at Kyle. "What is it Brett?"

"Aggy, I think I can help with that."

"Help with what Brett?" Norris was walking back into the room.

"Finding out what's going on in the cities." Norris stopped in his tracks.


"No offense sir, but I would rather discuss it in private." Brett glanced at Kyle again.

Norris looked from Brett to Kyle and then it dawned on him. "Understood. Germs, have a couple of corpsmen get Brett into a wheelchair and bring him with you."

17:20 EST 20 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, Maine

Norris watched the snow piling up on the tarmac as the ground crew fought a losing battle to keep it under control. This mid-storm airlift was really beginning to worry him.

Bucky walked into the room the admiral was using as an office. "Sir, you wanted to see us?"

Norris turned to see Bucky and Snoops enter the office, followed by Germs pushing Brett in a wheelchair. "Everyone take a seat."

Brett smiled. "Not much choice for me."

Norris stared at him and then smiled. "Ok, that's enough smart ass stuff, we need to be serious here Brett."

"Yes sir, sorry, it's kind of natural for me."

"I noticed. Brett you told me you could help get intel from the cities."

"Yes sir, and I don't know how helpful it's going to be but I have a couple of really good contacts in New York City. If anyone knows what's going on, these guys do."

Norris nodded. "How do we contact them?"

"That's the problem sir. Someone is going to have to go to them."

Norris stood up and walked back to the windows. "I am not sure we can take the risk."

"Now just a second sir." Bucky stood and was pacing. "That's what we are trained to do. If Brett knows where to find these guys, we could send in a team and make contact, get all the info we can and get out."

Norris turned around and faced them. "Brett, if we do this, how are we going to find them in that city?"

"That's the easy part sir. I know right where they are. The first is in an old unfinished subway extension below the 126th Street bus station in Harlem. There is a service entrance at the rear, right beside it is what looks like a sealed door. It still opens and leads to an access ladder. At the bottom of the ladder the tunnel goes left and right. Go right for about fifty feet and take a left about twenty-five feet down. On the right is an abandoned maintenance room. They will be there, should be at least five people, they have been living there for about five years that I know of and no one has ever found them. They will still be there."

"The other is easier, he has an apartment, 211 West 111th Street. He is eighteen and his uncle is the NYPD Central Park North Precinct Commander. After he came out to his parents he lived on the streets for a few years until his uncle found him. The uncle set him up in a small studio apartment and got him off the streets. He is a fitness trainer for the NYPD and knows a lot of cops. Most of which are good guys, it's just a few dicks that make the rest look bad. His apartment is ground floor with outside access to the courtyard. You knock three times and then three more then once. That is his signal for a kid in trouble.

"Him and the 126th Gang will not want to help you until you tell them Shortstop sent you. That's me. They will help you with anything."

Norris looked at Bucky, Snoops and Germs. "What do you three think?"

Bucky had stopped pacing. "We get in make the contacts and get the hell out. If the contacts are not there we snoop a little to get a feel of the city and then get the hell out."

"How do we get you in?"

Germs chuckled. "With the airlift."

Norris turned to him. "You want to jump in?"

Germs nodded. "Glide suits. We wait until the pallets are off and the plane starts to climb then we glide in. We could time it so we land on top of the bus terminal and rappel down the side."

Bucky looked around and spotted the maps on the table to the side. He walked over and rifled through them and brought one back. "It's amazing someone still uses paper maps."

Norris glared at him. "Get on with it smartass."

Bucky laughed. "Yes sir. We use two boat crews; one glides onto the bus terminal and makes the link up there; the other glides onto Great Hill, Central Park, hoofs it through the wood line here." He pointed at the map. "Cross 110th Street, down this alley to the back door of the second contact."

The admiral leaned over the map and studied it for a second. "Ok, you have three days. You will rendezvous with the USS Rhode Island where the East River meets the sound. That appears to be the closest the RI can get without surfacing. I will have Captain Cole review the charts and see how close he can get. Bucky, get with Payne and get a message to Captain Cole on the RI. How soon can you be ready?"

Snoops smirked. "We are SEALs, we are always ready."

Norris nodded. "Somehow I expected that answer." He flipped through some papers on the desk. "The planes to New York depart at 23:50, have your teams on board."

"Yes sir.” All three chimed in.

"Dismissed, Bucky hang back for a minute. Brett nice work. Tomorrow I want to sit with you and talk about all your contacts out there. No names, just some background info. They may have a lot of intel we can use."

The two men and teen left the room, leaving Bucky and Norris sitting there. As soon as the door closed Norris stood up and started pacing.

“President Bryce has issued a target of opportunity order on Richard Ashwood. We have no actionable intel but as soon as I send the order to intel they will start the search. If he is spotted by any special operations group they have a standing order to neutralize him.”

Bucky smiled. “Understood, sir. About fucking time.”

Norris stopped and stared at Bucky. “I am not sure it's the right call and will ask the president to reconsider when he arrives on Thursday, but until then you have your orders, dismissed.”

Bucky stood up, “Yes sir” and started to leave just as Myers and Sinclair came in. Norris looked up and nodded as Myers closed the door.

Major Sinclair took a deep breath. "Sir, I am not sure the president coming here Thursday is a good idea."

"You and me both, but I have a feeling for different reasons."

"Sir, I am concerned about his safety. Myers got a message from the head of President Bryce's detail, they do not have enough men to send an advance team."

"So we are completely responsible for securing the area?"

"Yes sir."

"And how much more do we need to secure it than it already is?"

Sinclair looked at him for a second. "I don't follow sir."

Norris sighed and sat down. "Never mind, I am just being a grumpy old man. Dixon, do everything you can, make sure he goes from Air Force One to the terminal directly. Make sure the plane parks as close as possible. Once in the terminal we control access to him. We have lunch with him making a spectacle out of some roasted turkeys. Then we go to the Maine Health Center... shit, that's the danger point."

Both men just stared at each other. Myers stepped up beside the desk. "Take him there in an armored vehicle. Major Sinclair, your command vehicle is a LAV-75 right?"

Sinclair looked over at her. "That could work. Kind of like showing him the vehicle and how we operate but at the same time surrounding him with a couple of inches of steel. Best idea all day Jessica."

Norris nodded. "Do me a favor, don't get the president killed while he is here."

"We will do our best sir." Sinclair said as he was hustling out the door to make the plans.

Myers stood in front of the desk. "Sir, what about the SWAT team that Bucky pulled out of Daytona? As far as I know sir they are still in Bermuda."

"Good idea, also get with the governor here and pull whatever he can spare for security on the president."

"Aye sir."

She left the room and Norris just stared at the door, waiting for it to open and someone else to come in with a problem. When no one did, he closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. When he opened them again, his head was resting on his desk and the sun was already down. The snow continued to fall and was piling up.

23:20 EST 20 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, Maine

Norris entered the command center. "Status report?"

Major Smiley smiled and handed the Admiral a cup of coffee. "First planes are moving into position now. These two will hit Buffalo, New York. The storm is a bigger badass than initial projections. Which is a mixed blessing. The pilots are going to have a harder time but the ceiling and cloud cover are so low they should be able to fly in, make the drops and fly out before anyone notices."

"Any additional safety concerns?"

"Of course sir, but each and every pilot has been asked over and over again if they are sure they want to fly this mission, no one is walking away."

"Let's begin Operation White Out."

"Yes sir." Major Smiley picked up the radio. "Buffalo 1 and 2 you are cleared for departure. Special 1 move to departure point, Syracuse 1 and 2 stand by."

The planes on the tarmac acknowledged their instructions and two of the C-130's began lumbering down the snow covered runway. Watching them plow through the falling snow, hurl themselves into the air and quickly be swallowed up by the clouds was almost surreal, until the rest of the planes began to follow suit. Altogether forty-two planes took off destined for different parts of the northeast. For the next couple of hours the planes would maintain radio silence until after they made their drops and were almost back home.

00:16 EST 21 November 2012

C-130 Special 1
Over Upstate New York

The crew chief of the C-130 looked at his watch and glanced at the signal lights. He stood up and signaled his crew. They all immediately began to double-check the rigs on the pallets.

One of the men was working with the crew chief. "Chief, what's so important about these drops that we have to do them in the middle of a blizzard?"

"Some militia up here is wreaking havoc on the enemy supply lines. The admiral wants to give them some toys to play with."

"So they are kicking some ass, then?"

"That's what I hear."

The crewman smiled and pulled out a big black permanent marker and wrote in big letters on the thick plastic covering. Give them hell, with love from the United States Air Force.

The chief gave him a thumbs up, took the marker from him and off to the side wrote Kilroy was here. The yellow signal light came on. They all felt the plane roll and dive. The chief opened the back ramp letting the cold and snow fill the cargo bay. The plane leveled out and the green light came on. The crew pushed the pallets to the opening and one by one activated the chutes and watched them get pulled out of the plane. Right after the third pallet left the ramp, the plane started a steep climb and the chief closed the ramp, silently wishing the unknown allies all the best.

01:10 EST 21 November 2012
New York City

The crew chief of the C-130 gave the get ready signal to Bucky and the nine SEALs with him. They all checked their gear one more time as they felt the plane turn and start a rapid descent. The ramp opened letting in a blast of frigid cold air and swirling snow. The plane continued to descend as the crew got ready to release the pallets. The clouds parted and the first thing everyone noticed was they could not see the city. New York should have been like a glowing beacon. They leveled out and the chief gave the order. The pallets were pushed out the back, as soon as they left the ramp a cord attached to the plane pulled the chutes open. Once all the pallets were released the crew chief held up his hand to stop Bucky and crew from jumping.

Unlike the rest of the planes that went into a steep climb right after the drop, this one banked east still flying just above skyscrapers. A few seconds later it leveled out again and the green light came on. The SEALs didn't need the crew chief's urging. Before he even had the first "GO" out of his mouth they were running down the ramp and dove into the night. Each one snapped the wings of the glide suit into position and began maneuvering towards the unseen target. As they were getting close, they all noticed streaks of light racing toward the sky. They looked to the east and saw missiles flying toward the plane that carried them. The C-130 banked hard left and climbed steeply firing chaff and flares as fast as it could. It disappeared into the clouds with the missiles right behind it. The thundering explosion and glow in the clouds would have been an amazing sight if not for what it meant.

01:16 EST 21 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, Maine


Major Smiley jumped up. "Shit, did they make the jump first?"

"Unknown sir. They put out a clear distress call saying they were under fire and then went dark."

Admiral Norris was standing next to Smiley. "Did the team get dropped?"

"One minute sir. What time was the distress call and did we get a GPS fix on it?"

"The call didn't last long enough and there were no satellites in range to ping the call. The time was 0114."

"Four minutes after they should have made the drop." He turned and looked at Norris, "Sir, they should have made the drop before they took the hit."

"SHOULD Major? I need a better answer than that. We just lost an entire C-130 crew and possibly a SEAL boat crew and all you can tell me is SHOULD!"

"Sir, it's all I have. Bucky will check in via Sat phone in a couple hours."

Norris stormed out of the room and ran right into Doctor McCray. Leo grabbed his shoulders and forced him to face him. "Aggy, I heard that and you need to go back in there and resolve it. Those people are doing the very best they can and do not deserve that type of outburst."

Norris stared at him, nostrils flailing. He looked into Leo's eyes and stopped. He took another breath and turned and reentered the room.

"Major Smiley, let me know if you come up with anything more concrete. Also everyone, nice job we just did an airlift of forty-two planes during a snowstorm. You should be proud of yourselves. The planes will be returning soon and will need you to guide them in. Stay focused on that. There is nothing we can do for New York 12 now. May they Rest in Peace."

01:16 EST 21 November 2012
Roof Top 126th St Bus Terminal
New York, NY

Bucky landed and immediately dropped his gear and brought his M-4 up. He scanned the rooftop and counted the nine other SEALs taking up positions around him. Germs tapped on his shoulder and pointed out to the east, six parachutes were descending a couple blocks away.

"Listen up! Germs take Face Plant, Pee Wee and Silver Spoon. Get to that plane crew before anyone else does. Bring them back here and we will take them out with us. Everyone else on me." The team split into two and Germs' team headed to the north wall, paused for a moment and then rappelled down the side.

Bucky and the rest of the team moved to the east wall and checked out the surrounding area. Squeaks tapped Bucky's shoulder and held up one finger and pointed. A small figure darted from across the street and up to the wall. It looked around quick and went through a panel. Bucky nodded and the team threw their lines down and went over the wall one by one.

They quickly rechecked the area, found the panel, slowly opened it and entered the dark building. The access ladder was right where Brett said it would be. One by one they entered the tunnels and followed Brett's instructions. They stopped outside the door of the abandoned maintenance shop and listened.

Someone was arguing inside. "It might be a trap."

"Ryan everyone is out there grabbing as much as they can carry, look I grabbed some MRE's and some water. If we don't go now there will be nothing left."

Bucky looked back, nodded and pulled the door open. Everyone in the room froze as the team of Navy SEALs rushed into the room. There were eight kids in the room all with looks of terror on their faces. The tallest one looked at the kid he was talking to.

"Fuck Josh, you led them right to us."

Bucky stopped and lowered his rifle. "No one led us here. Shortstop sent us. We are here to help."

The tall kid, Ryan, looked at the soldiers in front of him. "Shortstop sent you?"

"Yes, he told us where to find you."

"Shortstop is dead asshole."

Bucky sighed. "He is pretty beat up. Both of his legs were blown off but he is alive. He is in Maine with the rest of my team."

"How do I know you're not full of shit?"

Bucky laughed. "Would it matter? If we are not who we say we are then you're fucked, guy. But here, watch this video." Bucky handed him a small tablet and pressed play.

The group of kids circled around Ryan and watched the video Brett made right before they left.

Ryan walked over to Bucky and handed the tablet back. "Ok so we believe you now. Shortstop says you need help, I'm guessing yous guys are here to find those Army guys."

"Which Army guys?"

"Some construction guys from Fort Hamilton. They escaped from the Fort, got across the river and have been hiding since."

"Ryan, my name is Commander Buchinski with the United States Navy SEALs. We are here to get as much info as we can. Ashwood has cut power and communication all along the East Coast, my boss, Admiral Norris wants to get things back to normal. I need to know everything you know about what's going on in the city. But first we brought more food and water with us so I want you kids to eat."

Ryan nodded. "Ok, so how do we know if what these dickwads that are guarding the city are telling us, or if what you're telling us is the truth?"

Bucky tossed him an MRE. "Because, they are dickwads."

Ryan laughed. "True dat. Listen Commander, Shortstop says you cool and that's good enough for me. I knew this was going down, so did Shortstop, motha fuckers wouldn't listen to us though."

"Ryan, call me Bucky and eat while we talk. You look like you're starving. Is there roof access we can get to easily?"

"Yes there is an old tunnel that takes you to a stairwell. Josh'll show you."

"Squeaks go with the kid and get the rest of the gear down here."

Without saying a word Squeaks followed the kid up to the roof.

Once they were out, Bucky looked around. "Come on everyone, I know you're hungry, eat."

Ryan ripped open his MRE and starting tearing into it. Everyone watched him and they started to eat as well.

Bucky sat down. "Ok Ryan, tell me about these Army guys."

"They're like bomb experts or something, right before everything went down they took off from Fort Hamilton. They were trying to get out of the city but feds got this shit on lock-down. Even 5-0 can't leave. A bunch tried a few days ago and the soldiers guarding Lincoln Tunnel shot ‘em all. 5-0 is pissed and got themselves all barricaded up in their stations."

"Who is patrolling the streets?"

"No one, now. Used to be some Spanish army guys but they all pulled out last Saturday night. What's left of the Army and some feds have all the bridges and tunnels to Jersey guarded. Most of the Army that is left went out to Long Island after some fight between ships out there. Colonel Robinson seems to think that is where the attack is going to come from."

"Who is Colonel Robinson?"

"He is the Army commander, mean son of a bitch. He sends a car for me every Monday morning and he gets pretty rough."

Bucky paused to keep himself from getting pissed. Ryan stared at him. "Hey look Bucky, don't judge me, he pays me in food, it keeps these kids from starving to death. That and whatever Rico can spare."

"Ok, who is Rico?"

Ryan thought for a minute and looked over at a small Hispanic kid. "Rico runs with the King's, right now in this area the Latin Kings are in charge. And they are trying to keep everyone in the area fed. At first they sent teams into houses and apartments that were deserted and gathered up everything they could. But that has been getting harder and harder. Now they cross the river and scavenge in Queens and Brooklyn. They hooked up with the 43rd Gangster Crips, the Queens' KGB and the LBC last Friday and ambushed an army supply truck as it came off the Verrazano. They split the food up and gave it out to anyone that needed it."

"Ok son, slow down I know the Kings and Crips and hearing them working together is a shock of its own. But who is the KGB and the LBC?"

"Damn Commander you don't know shit about the streets, do you?"

"No Ryan, I really don't; tell me."

"The KGB is the Killer Gang Bloods, and the LBC is the Lil Boy Crew. The Kings, Crips, Bloods and Crew are the four largest gangs in New York and they are working together."

"Damn, I don't know if that is good or bad." Just then Squeaks came in carrying a bunch of gear, followed by the kid Josh who was carrying a spool of wire letting it trail behind him.

Ryan stood up."What's this shit?"

Bucky looked up at him. "Relax, it's attached to a small solar panel and very powerful but small antenna. The solar panel is going to help keep you warm." Pretty Boy and Ice jumped up and starting pulling out equipment. Ice pulled out two small electric heaters and a weird looking black box. He attached to the black box the leads from the solar panel and then plugged the heaters into the black box.

Ice looked up at the kids and smiled. "This is a power cell and converter, kind of like a battery. The solar panel above will keep it charged. We fully charged it so we can draw some heat off it now. These heaters will deplete a fully charged cell in about six hours. So I advise you to just use it to take the chill off. Run it for an hour and shut it off for as long as you can, then run it again. Keep doing that during the night and you will stay a little warmer." He turned on the heaters and within minutes they began to feel warm. The younger kids huddled around them and smiled as they pulled off layers of ragged clothing and blankets.

Bucky looked at Ryan. "So what do these gangs plan to do?"

"They are going to hit Fort Hamilton. Take as much as they can and then try to break out of the city. The Army guys, I told you about, are helping them."

"Shit, they will get slaughtered, there is no way they have the firepower or manpower to take out the fort."

"They know that shit straight up, but they are desperate, they have to try something. People are going to start freezing to death, soon."

Just then the satellite phone in Bucky's hand began a soft hum. Bucky looked down and hit the receive button. "This is Vulture 1, go ahead."

"Vulture 1 this is Vulture 2, contact established. We are waiting on a contact in NYPD."

"Roger 2, I will send a message to Tomahawk, we are in place."

"Roger 1, we will advise further at next check in. 2 out."

Bucky typed a code into the phone and then sent the message. Two Vultures Stole the Apple. Six Gulls spotted, attempting link up.

Bucky sat there and thought for a minute then looked at Ryan. "You said the police are pretty pissed off that some of their men got killed."

"Really pissed, but not at us or the gangs, at the Army."

Bucky sat thinking staring off into space until the radio in his ear crackled.

"1 this is 3, inbound, six survivors, two injured."

"Roger 3, sending up someone to help. 1 out." Bucky looked around and spotted Squeaks talking to a little girl. "Squeaks and Ricochet, topside and welcome Germs, his team and the flight crew survivors. Ryan I want to meet this Rico, any way you can arrange that?"

Ryan got nervous very quickly. "Man you talking some crazy shit. Rico ain't gonna meet with no damn Navy SEALs.”

"I think I can get him some firepower and some trained men to help."

Ryan thought carefully for a minute and then went and whispered to the Hispanic boy. A few seconds later the boy, in his early teens, bolted out of the room and shot down the tunnel in the opposite direction they all came in. Germs and the remainder of the team along with the C-130 crew arrived. Two of the crew were being carried. Soaker, who had been checking the kids' vitals and talking with them, jumped up and helped set the two down and began taking a look at them.

Bucky noticed the crew chief just standing and watching. "Chief, any of the cabin crew make it out?"

"No sir, we are lucky to have made it. We saw the plane slam into the river, the right wing and half the fuselage was on fire, there is no way any of them survived that."

Bucky nodded and patted the chief's shoulder. "They saved a lot of people by putting her into the water."

"I know sir."

"Chief, I am going to need you over the next couple of days, until we can get out of here, okay?"

"Me and my boys will do whatever it takes."

"Good. For now, help Soaker take care of your wounded." Bucky walked away and looked at the sat phone. He pressed a couple buttons and the screen showed the other team had set up their antenna and the phones could contact each other directly.

Bucky entered the security key and waited for the other team to pick up. "Albatross, have you made link up with your NYPD contact yet?"

"Yes we have. Bucky this is not good. Most of the upper management of the PD is gone. Either in hiding or left the city before all the shit went down. This captain and a couple more are all they have in charge and they are gearing up to do a major attack on the Ashwood forces here. They have had enough and want revenge."

"Good, tell your contact to meet us at," he paused and pulled out his tablet with the maps. "At Saint Paul's Church on East 117th at 0400. Just two cops no more."

"I will make it happen."

"Stay out of sight and keep your heads down."

Bucky hit the end button just as the Hispanic kid came back with another Hispanic male in his early twenties. The first thing Bucky noticed was the tattoos on his neck. A pair of .45 caliber pistols with pearl handles and embellished with a rose design engraving. One on each side of the neck starting at the back and wrapping around to the front almost like a collar.

"You must be Rico? I am Commander Albert Buchinski, US Navy SEALs."

"What the fuck is going on here? Luis said you needed to see me Ryan. If this is some sort of trap, the Kings will be looking for me real soon and then your ass is toast.”

Bucky smiled at him. "Rico, this is not a trap. We are here to help."

Rico looked around and saw the two men that were being treated by the medics. "You'se were on that plane the dickwads shot at?"

"Yes and we lost a couple men." Bucky responded.

"Sorry bout that. You part of the supplies dropped in Central Park, too?”

"Yes, the task force I am from did that."

Rico nodded. "Ok man, you here to help. How's you gonna do that?"

"I need to talk to the head of your group. I have a plan and it is going to involve you working with some people you may not like."

Rico sat down. "What do you want my peeps to do?"

Bucky smiled. "I had a feeling I was talking to the right person. I want you to work with the cops."

Rico stood up in a flash and started for the door. "Hell fucking No!"

Germs and Silver Spoon blocked the door. Bucky stood up and walked over to him. "Rico, hear me out. If after I am done you want to walk away, then I will not stop you."

The two men sat in a corner talking for almost two hours. The conversation got heated a few times and both men looked like they wanted to hit each other but both kept their cool and kept talking through it. Rico finally stood.

"I can't fucking believe I am gonna say this, but ok I will meet with the 5-0. Ain't no way they are gonna go along with dis shit but I guess it won't hurt to talk to them.”

Bucky smiled. "Good, we need to get going if we are going to make the meeting on time."

Rico looked over at Luis. "My boy, Luis, will guide us through the subways. He knows them like the back of his hand."

Luis nodded and grabbed a bottle of water. The team quickly gathered their gear, leaving the flight crew with Soaker and Ice, then headed out into the tunnels to oversee the first ever meeting of the Latin Kings and the NYPD.

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