Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book II
Broad Stripes
and Bright Stars

by Ken Barber

In Progress

Chapter 9

Posted: 27 Jan 16

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

Copyright © 2016 by Ken Barber and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

08:00 EST 21 November 2012
St Paul's Church
New York City, NY

Broad Stripes LogoBucky and his team stumbled into the room Father Mahoney gave them to get some rest. St Paul's was quickly established as Bucky's base of operations for the duration of his stay. The old priest, Father Doug Mahoney, was shocked to see a couple of teams of Navy SEALs leading gang-bangers and cops to the table together, however he quickly jumped in and became the moderator. He kept them at it for three hours until they had reached an agreement. Then Bucky stepped in and laid out his plan. They immediately saw it as doable; and began to fill in the details using their intricate knowledge of the city.

Now after a quick meal of MREs, Bucky and crew had refused the church's meager food, they needed some rest before tonight's fireworks. As they settled down Bucky sent a longer message to the task force giving some of the details of the plan. He set an alarm on his watch for 10:30 so they could all listen to Norris's speech.

08:10 EST 21 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, ME

Norris read the message from Bucky and laughed, he looked up at Myers and Sinclair. "Bucky, send him to New York, for a simple recon mission, and he recruits all the gangs and the NYPD to help take back the city."

Myers was shocked. "Seriously?"

"Yes they start their attack tonight. What I want to know is how he got the NYPD and the gangs to work together, that is astounding!"

Sinclair shrugged his shoulders. 'With him anything is possible. He should consider running for president."

Myers laughed. "Only problem he has interpreted 'Speak softly and carry a big stick' to ‘Shut up and hit anyone you see with a baseball bat’."

Norris and Sinclair busted up laughing and had to catch their breath. Norris finally regained his composure. "Ok moving on. All the airlifts were a success and all planes but the one New York plane made it back. Weather team tells me the snow should start tapering off around noon. As soon as it does, I want recon flights along the enemy lines. I want to see if they were prepared for the storm or not. If they were not, we attack Thursday or sooner if possible. We start with artillery and air attacks. We hit them with everything we have; pound them mercilessly. Then send in the ground troops, my only concern is the fighter wings out of Fort Drum. We have put a beating on their air support already but haven't seen the fighters out of Drum yet."

Sinclair handed over a tablet. "And you might not. This is from Commander Coleman of the New York Rangers. Looks like that militia group did a number on some armor units and an air wing a few days back."

Norris read the report. "Damn, I am going to pin a medal to those boys' chests. They did this before they got the supplies we sent?"

"Yes, sir."

Norris handed the tablet back to Sinclair. "Well they are going to keep that rear guard busy for us. Hopefully the commander will pull some troops back to try to find them, leaving us an opening to exploit. I want to be in Boston by Sunday."

"That should not be a problem sir. About President Bryce's visit; the SWAT team from Daytona is on its way with a large group of crewmen from the Gravely. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are also sending a tactical unit. Governor Masson has the local law enforcement ready and they will be securing the route from here to the hospital."

Norris nodded. "Good, Myers you arrange to have some troops here to have an early dinner with the President. Make sure they are the most trusted we can find. After he returns from the hospital, we have the officers' dinner and then he is on Air Force One and out of here. Any questions?"

Myers and Sinclair both shook their heads no. "Ok good, Sinclair grab Rodriguez and get with Payne. He is building an intelligence portfolio on Boston. He says he has some really good intel from the kids on the bus."

"Awesome. Anything else sir?" Sinclair was already starting to stand.

"That's all for now. Keep me in the loop on the security plans for the presidential visit. You're dismissed."

Just as they were leaving, James came in carrying a tray of food. Norris looked up at him. "I thought you were assigned to the Field Hospital Kitchen."

"I am sir, but Doctor McCray told me to bring you some breakfast otherwise you wouldn't eat."

Norris laughed. "He is worse than having a wife."

James looked at him out of the corner of his eye and smirked.

"Don't you smirk at me, Seaman. Doctor McCray has been a nag to me since our first assignment together. He was a duty doctor aboard the Abraham Lincoln, I was a squadron commander. I had a minor injury playing golf in the Med and Doctor McCray kept me off flight duty for two weeks. My CAG was pissed and went to chew him out. He laughed at the CAG and I will never forget what he said. "Sir, if the dumb shit had listened to me he would have been back on duty a week ago. So don't get all pissed at me. Tell your young hot shot squadron commander to stop being a dumb ass. The day he gets a Medical License, is the day I fly a jet."

McCray entered the room as if on cue. "You still telling that story. The thing he leaves out is how the injury happened. We were playing golf together and I hit a birdie and he got so pissed he slammed his club into the ground and shattered the shaft. It shattered and an eight-inch splinter went into his forearm. He couldn't hold a beer, never mind the control stick of an F-14."

Norris laughed. "I don't remember it that way."

"Of course you don't, you were trashed."

Both men started laughing. "Damn McCray that was a long time ago."

McCray nodded. "A long time and a whole different world."

"Did you need to see me?"

"We are getting ready to chat with Brett about the prostheses. Just thought you might like to know. Any word from Bucky?"

Norris chuckled and handed him the report. McCray read it and raised his eyebrows. "What are we going to do to support him."

"I have the Royal Marines loading up already. They are going to attack and take Montauk Point, supported by HMS Illustrious. HMS Queen Elizabeth is sailing south with escorts to take up Illustrious’ position and mission. We are going to hammer the enemy front lines here with artillery and air. That should pull everything and anything toward us."

"Stretching us kind of thin though?"

"A little but I have another infantry battalion coming in from Germany so that should bolster us and help us push to the Vermont, Connecticut borders with New York."

"You're the tactician I am just the Doctor."

"It's all prayers and hope at this point."

"Tell Brett I wish him luck."

"Will do."

11:00 EST 21 November 2012
St Paul's Church
New York City, NY

Bucky and his team, along with a couple senior NYPD captains and senior members of the major gangs, sat in the Bible Study room of St Paul's with the six-man demolitions team that had fled Fort Hamilton. Lieutenant Paris and his men had just briefed the entire room on how to take out a couple bridges, disrupting any reinforcements moving into the city. Now they all waited patiently with a radio tuned to 1640 AM. There was only static but every time someone started to ask what they were waiting for Bucky just held up his hand to stop them. Father Mahoney sat off to the side and smiled every time.

The static cleared. "Free American News Test ...Free American News Test... Free American News Test"

The radio went silent for a moment before three tones were heard. Then the music started and everyone in the room rose to their feet.

"Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

"Citizens of the United States, this is Free American News, the only news station not controlled by Ashwood's government. This is our inaugural broadcast. I am Dan Mobley reporting from the State of Maine. Last night United States Navy Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Vice Admiral Norris recorded a statement for everyone this broadcast can reach. Over the weekend, Admiral Norris arrived with his fleet and a massive ground army to bolster the beleaguered Maine National Guard. Maine has been under attack by Ashwood controlled military forces since last week, after the people of Maine and Governor Masson refused to accept Ashwood's declaration that the election held on November 6th was void. Admiral Norris and his loyal soldiers and allies have been fighting non-stop to push the Ashwood forces back out of Maine. Their efforts have been greatly successful and most of Maine is now secure. Power has been restored to many parts of the state, as well as the northern halves of Vermont and New Hampshire. Medical services and public safety have resumed operations.

"Here is what Admiral Norris has to say to you:"

"My Fellow Americans, that means something different today than it did when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt first said it to the American people during his inaugural address in 1933. The country, our country, was at that time also facing a great crisis. Today our crisis is, like then, created by greed. But that is where the similarities end. The Great Depression was caused by a greed for money. Today's crisis is caused by greed for power. Power and absolute control. Control of you, my fellow Americans.

"Former President Ashwood has ignored, trampled on and corrupted the very founding principles and morals of this great nation. He has used smoke screens of religious fervor and ideology to hide his true intention. He intends to seize control of the People of The United States and install himself as a dictator.

"This is evident in his complete disregard of the United States Constitution, the basis of this experiment of self government that has withstood the tests of 224 years. He has ignored the rulings of the United States Supreme Court, the body of judges chosen to ensure the Constitution is observed and understood. But most importantly he has forsaken the will of you, the American People. The election boards of this great country have confirmed that President Bryce was elected President two weeks ago. The American People for many years have been deeply divided by politics but never have they outright ignored the Election Process, the process that our founding fathers created to ensure that this country would never bow to a tyrant again.

"As a United States military officer I have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and the People of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

"Richard Ashwood has been declared an enemy of the country by the Congress of the United States and the United States Supreme Court. The current power outages and food shortages are not the result of terrorists' activity or done at the hands of President Jackson Bryce. These are the result of President Ashwood trying to keep you in the dark. West of the Mississippi and in northern New England we have been able to disconnect from the Ashwood power grid and restore power. We have been able to bring in food and emergency supplies.

"Ashwood has tried to use the power grid and infrastructure to keep you in the dark. But the truth is right there in front of you. Look at the military patrolling the streets, look closely at their uniforms. A large majority of these soldiers are not American but mercenaries from Argentina and Venezuela. Former President Ashwood has used foreign armies to invade and occupy this great nation.

"When I returned to the United States, I discovered deplorable atrocities being committed on the citizens of the this country by this foreign power.

"Make no mistake the United States is under siege from foreign powers led by a man named Richard Ashwood. This is the time that the American people must stand up and say, 'Hell No'. You, my fellow Americans, cannot take this lying down. We are Americans, known for our grit and determination. No foreign power has ever been able to hold us back throughout history and I will not allow that to happen today.

"I challenge you, my fellow American to throw off the blinders and not just yell at the Tyrant Ashwood 'WE ARE AMERICANS' but fight back. Let the Tyrant and his foreign mercenaries know what it means to awaken the sleeping giant.

"I know, no matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

"God Bless you and God Save The United States of America."

The reporter took over. "For those of you still in Ashwood controlled territory all of this may come as a surprise to you. For many you know what Admiral Norris said is true, you just didn't want to believe. I do not work for the admiral, President Bryce or the Governor of Maine. As a matter of fact I voted for President Ashwood. I saw his ideals as being strong and clear but I never would condone the things he has done. A few miles west of Biddeford, Maine there is a sleepy little New England village. I am not going to tell you the name, we don't want families out there to hear it from us. On Saturday night when Admiral Norris attacked, the Ashwood forces retreated, an unknown number of them stopped at this little village. Understand, this village was one of the few that was considered to be predominantly Ashwood supporters. The soldiers murdered everyone in the village, men, women, old and young. They stripped the bodies nude and piled them in the center of the square, and left them there. These were not the actions of American soldiers, they were not the actions of Americans, hell those men were animals.

"I have with me a Lieutenant Matthew Peters, United States Army. Lieutenant Peters was in Washington DC for Veteran’s Day and was witness to a horrific scene. Actually witness is not really a good term, you were a victim of it."

“That's correct Dan, I was shot eight times in the chest and legs, at fairly close range."

"Lieutenant, who shot you?

"Dan, federal agents attempting to stop the Veterans Day Parade, opened fired on an unarmed crowd."

"Lieutenant, what you're telling us is United States Federal Agents gunned down a gathering of US Military Veterans."

"That's correct." There was a slight pause. "I was with my dad...grandfather...and great-grandfather. I don't know if they are alive or dead." The tears could be heard in his voice. Bucky looked around the room and saw looks of anger and a few attempts to hide a tear or two.

"Matthew? Is it ok for me to call you Matthew?"

"Sure, no problem, Dan."

"Matthew, what was the crowd doing when the agents fired?"

"They were singing the National Anthem."

"Singing? No one was rioting or throwing anything at the agents?"

"I was standing in front of the crowd holding the flag. My great-grandfather was right behind me and my father and grandfather were behind him. No one threw anything or shouted anything. They were just singing the National Anthem." The sob at the end of the sentence was audible and Bucky had to turn his head to wipe a tear.

"Matthew, you are obviously upset and I do understand if you want to continue this another time."

"No it's ok." His voice cracked a little. "The American people need to know how far Ashwood will go to get his way. We were there for a parade nothing more. Then his goons gunned us down as if we were nothing."

"You sustained some pretty serious injuries and yet here you are talking to us. I don't mean to be blunt Matthew, but how did you survive."

"I am not sure how the gunshots didn't kill me outright, my doctor says I am lucky. But the story I heard later before they took me to Orlando, understand I was in and out of consciousness, but I overheard some of the doctors and nurses talking. When the paramedics arrived, the agents did not want to let them on the scene but the way I heard it was the paramedics ignored the agents and began treating the wounded even though the agents were threatening to fire on them. At some point reason won and the agents pulled back. I was brought to the ER and had hours of emergency surgery. Then I was transferred to Johns Hopkins and underwent more surgery. Eventually the doctors stabilized me and I was transported to a facility in Orlando Florida."

"How did you end up here?"

"Admiral Norris and his men captured Orlando and the facility and brought me home to Maine. This is home for me even though I don't have any family mom and baby sister were there in the crowd as well."

"Oh dear God."

"Dan, I am sorry I can't go on."

"Lieutenant Peters, please don't be sorry, I cannot even imagine the pain you are suffering, both physically and emotionally. Thank you so much for sharing with us today."

"In a few minutes we will have Governor Masson, live. We have an hour of programming and then the broadcast will repeat every hour until tomorrow morning. For now, here's Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA'."

Bucky turned the radio down but kept the music playing in the background. "Anyone have any doubts now?"

No one in the room said a thing at first. Finally Rico looked up at Captain Roger Murtaugh. "Look, after this is all over, we are going back to being on opposites sides, but for nows this shit has got to stop."

Murtaugh smiled, nodded and looked down the line of officers sitting with him. "Rico, I don't know if anything will go back to the way it was, let's take this one day at a time." He stood up and reached across the table and shook hands with Rico.

Bucky stood up. "Ok, make sure your people get plenty of rest. We need everyone ready at 0200. I got a message from my task force, the admiral you just heard. A group of British Royal Marines will be attacking Montauk Point and securing the Montauk Airport at 0100 hours. At the same time the main force in Maine is going to launch an all out offensive. That should keep all the enemy forces looking everywhere but here. Once they have the airport secure they will be sending in an infantry battalion from Germany. Any questions?"

No one said anything. "Good, NYPD you take Lieutenant Paris and his team and get ready to destroy or retake the bridges and tunnels. Rico your people and my team are going to move to Brooklyn and attempt to ambush the reinforcements as they move out of Fort Hamilton. Gentlemen there is going to be a huge fireworks display in Long Island Sound and New York Harbor. Task Force Neptune intends to hit every naval asset around us with cruise missiles and air attacks as well as submarines." He paused and looked at Father Mahoney, "Father, we are about to go into battle would you be so kind as to lead us in prayer first?"

The aging priest stood and walked to the head of the table. "Gentlemen join me in prayer. Our Father we call upon you in this our time of great need. These many men and boys are about to take up arms against their enemy. In their hearts they know they are fighting a just fight but I ask you to ease their minds and bless them with your Spirit, for they march against greater numbers and better trained and equipped soldiers. Yet they march anyway because they know they must. They have answered your call for warriors to protect the innocent and save this great nation from the scourge that has infected it. Bolster their morale, lift their spirits and fill their hearts with the saving Grace of your Son, for they go to fight the agents of evil itself. Anoint them with your Glory, guide their hearts and minds. Father hear our prayers in the name of your only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, Amen."

A chorus of Amen's sounded from the group and they all rose to leave. Father Mahoney stood at the door and blessed each one as he left. "Go with God, in nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritu Sancti."

11:45 EST 21 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, ME

Norris looked up from the security plan for President Bryce's arrival as Lieutenant Payne came darting in.

"Sorry for the interruption sir, but you need to see this."

The admiral reached up and took the file from him. "What is this." He opened the file which was filled with aerial photos.

"The snow cleared for a bit so we got some recon flights and drones up sir. This is the front line."

"Where the fuck is the enemy?"

Payne reached over and pulled some of the pictures out. "Here, here and here."

Norris just stared at the pictures for a second. "Mother fucker. Get me all senior commanders now."

"Aye aye sir." Payne snapped to attention, spun around and practically ran out of the office.

"MYERS!" Norris bellowed out. "Get me Bucky on the sat phone"

"Yes sir!" She yelled back.

12:00 EST 21 November 2012
Portland International Airport
Portland, ME

Norris walked into the briefing room carrying a satellite phone. He waved everyone down as they started to stand. "Ladies and gentlemen we have a little problem. Overnight the enemy used the cover of the storm to reposition themselves. They have pulled back and moved into defensive cantonment positions. Payne, the map please. As you can see the enemy commander made a brilliant move by creating defensive circles around all the major cities left in his control in New England. This creates a twofold problem for us. If we move against any one defensive position, our flanks are exposed to the other positions. If we maintain a linear battlefield we will be attacking fortified positions with inferior numbers. Let's figure out how to get out of this."

Lieutenant Colonel Rodriguez stood. "Sir, what if we did both. Our western flanks borders Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal all the way down to Hudson Falls. If the Canadian Regiments, augmented by Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire National Guard create a battle line from Burlington, Vermont south to Whitehall and then a loose screen from Whitehall southeast to Lowell, Mass, we could use the rest of the troops to hit the defended positions."

Norris looked at the map. "That leaves the 32nd Marines, the 4th Royal Marines Assault Squadron from HMS Queen Elizabeth and your 2nd Cav guys, Colonel. Major Scarp has the 6th Royals Marines getting loaded and ready for the assault on Long Island." He paused. "Colonel Huet, Colonel Major, Major Rile, and Captain Cline, your jobs will be to keep the enemy in place. If they move to intercept the attacking force or hit our flanks, you fight a delay and draw them away from the rest until one of you can counter attack into their flanks."

Colonel Huet stood up. "Admiral, if I may, would it not be better to keep one of our units in reserve and spread the other three across the front. The reserve unit could counter attack and push any of the enemy units back to their holding area fast and if they somehow get past the delaying unit the reserve could move and counter attack."

Norris nodded. "I like it. Colonel Huet, you keep your regiment in reserve, assemble them at Brattleboro Vermont, it's pretty centrally located. Commander Myers get with the power people and see if they can start stretching their coverage to all of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Captain King, your SAS commando's are still working with the power people, keep them moving. Any questions?"

Norris scanned the room and no one looked up. "Ok you have your orders, everyone needs to be in place by 0100 hours. We launch at 0130 and we have an interesting little surprise for the troops around Boston. Before you go back to your units. Lieutenant Timothy Costa and Commander Theodore Rosewood front and center please."

Both men looked at each other and smiled and then jumped up and hustled up to the front of the room.

Commander Myers stood up. "ATTENTION TO ORDERS."

Everyone in the room stood at attention. Admiral Norris stood in front of Lieutenant Costa. "Lieutenant Timothy Costa for your actions on board the USS Gravely exemplify the values of the United States Naval Officer Corp. Your actions in taking command of a stricken USS Gravely and gallantly keeping your ship and crew fighting as you withdrew from the battle saved the lives of many and helped us win the day. It is because of the valor and gallantry I have the honor of presenting you with the Bronze Star with Valor."

Lieutenant Costa snapped his hand to his forehead in a crisp salute as the Admiral pinned the medal to his uniform. Admiral Norris returned the salute and looked over at Myers and nodded.

Myers cleared her throat. "By Order of the President of the United States and the United States Congress and by recommendation from Commander in Chief United States Navy Atlantic Fleet, Lieutenant Timothy J. Costa is hereby raised to the Rank of Lieutenant Commander effective immediately." Norris reached up and removed the old rank from the now startled officer's uniform and replaced it with the new rank. Once again Costa saluted and Norris returned the salute and shook his hand.

Norris then turned and stepped in front of Commander Rosewood. Myers cleared her throat again. "By Order of the President of the United States and the United States Congress and by recommendation from Commander in Chief United States Navy Atlantic Fleet, Commander Theodore L. Rosewood is hereby raised to the Rank of Captain effective immediately." Norris stepped back after pinning the new rank onto Rosewood’s uniform and the two saluted each other.

The Admiral turned around and faced the group. "A few hours ago, the Governor of Maine and his lovely wife flew north to christen a new ship. A ship built in secrecy by Hydradyne Industries. The ship is combat ready and will join the fleet tonight at midnight. Captain Rosewood and Lieutenant Commander Costa have been chosen to command the ship. The crew was built from our other ships, a large group from the Gravely and some crew members the President and Vice President were able to gather up from the West Coast. She is fully armed, and fully functional." He paused and nodded to Myers, who lowered the lights and turned on a projector.

The screen filled with a picture of a sleek and mean looking ship. She was angled more and sat lower in the water. Guns bristled from her turrets and missile hatches dotted her deck. She looked angry, fast and powerful. Her bluish gray coloring gave the appearance of a giant water dragon.

Norris smiled. "Ladies and gentlemen meet the Bryce Class Battle Cruiser, USS Constitution, 2nd of her name."

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