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From Chapter 8
Everyone heard him sigh before he continued. "Citizens of Chicago. Bothers and sisters… This is a time where we need to band together. We are now facing the worst thing to happen to this city since the great fire that threatened to destroy her many many years ago. We need to band together, no matter what your race, your history, you past crimes, no matter what has come before, the city of Chicago MUST band together to protect herself, or surely we will burn. Stand with me, and stand with your brothers and sisters in this great country, and together, together we can make it through this long night. I will not allow the song to come true. There will be no 'Night that Chicago Died'."
The feed died, and the room was silent. Finally one of the soldiers breathed out, "holy shit."
"And that is why I love Chicago." Private Hernandez said with a grin.
Thursday November 8th 0955 (9:55 am) Mountain Standard Time
Thursday November 8th 1155 (11:55 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah
"Oh my God…" Someone shouted out in horror.
"What?" Jack said forcefully as he looked at the soldier whose face had turned pale. The soldier couldn't speak, but hit a button on his terminal, and the picture at the front of the room changed. Gasps and cries of terror filled the room. Adam was the first to recover. All he did, though, was turn the volume up from the feed the soldier was channeling into the main screen.
"I can't believe what I am seeing…" A man's voice was heard. The scene was moving, and obviously an aerial view from someone probably in a helicopter. "If you're just tuning in…" The man said in a horrified voice. He had to pause as a sob escaped. "Downtown Kansas City is gone. We were circling over a protest near the airport when the helicopter was rocked by a huge explosion. When we looked, all we could see was a huge cloud coming from downtown. When we got close… this is what we saw."
The picture was unimaginable. Even Jack, who was President during the last Mexican-American war, and had seen some pretty bad destruction, had never imagined seeing this. Some type of bomb, or some large explosion, centered in downtown Kansas City, looked to have completely destroyed at least a full square mile around where downtown used to be.
Looking at the screen that showed General Sugarhill, the Commander of DAC 5, which encompassed Kansas City, Jack could see that the man had people running in and out of the room he was in. The pale, harried look on the man's face told the entire story, even though they couldn't hear what was being said.
He looked back at the screen that showed the conference going on, quickly moved over and unmuted. Instantly many voices filled the room, before General Sugarhill started to speak. "Sir, I am going to have to cut this call. Be advised, I am setting DAC 5 to Defcon 1, and initiating Command Level Alpha 1. I would advise the other DAC commanders do the same." With no further words, they watched as he leaned forward, touched a button, and the feed to his Command Center died.
Jack looked at the other DAC Commanders and simply nodded. "Make it so." He said in a soft, yet serious voice. "Bring all Emergency Response personnel under the military command structure. Get everything you can, ready to deploy." They nodded, then they too left the conference.
Jack turned to look back at the screen, the helicopter view had been replaced by a satellite view, and that really captured the damage. He stood there staring at it, mindless of everything going on around him. Never in his time had he seen something like that. Thankfully, he was able to be seated, because he knew his legs couldn't handle him trying to stand now. He couldn't even begin to think how many people just lost their lives.
Downtown Kansas City, which he had visited many times. A place that was filled with traffic, high rise buildings, and the hustle and bustle of many other major cities, was simply gone. Not even the buildings were still standing. Everything within a mile was just burning rubble.
Already he could see people moving around on the outskirts of the blast radius. He couldn't see any real details because the satellite wasn't zoomed in close enough, and frankly, he didn't know if he wanted to see details.
Thankfully he knew the people below him were doing everything they could, and at this point didn't need him getting in their way. All around him though, people were talking to others, and sending out orders. They didn't need to come from him right now, everyone knew what had to happen.
Jack was watching what was going on around him, and every once in a while, throwing out a suggestion. Even in this mess, he couldn't help but notice how the UNIT kids were able to keep their composure, and work through everything very effectively. Their calm was also helping to keep everyone else around them calm. It was the mark of a very well disciplined group of people, that Jack still found very surprising, coming from a group of kids, most of whom weren't even able to shave yet.
General Mary Macintosh was trying to relax by taking a long hot shower. Her mind, though, just could not relax. She was trying to wrap her mind around everything that she had learned since she had showed up at this base. Genetically engineered kids. Technology that was beyond things she could even imagine. For what seemed like the hundredth time she felt behind her ear, and barely felt the 'earpiece' that was there, then, running her hand down her neck, she felt the thin band that would allow her to talk to almost anyone.
But the thing that troubled her the most, well, besides knowing that she was never alone in her own mind anymore, was the kids she had met just before Logan and his brothers had to go to a meeting, and she was left alone. Those kids, completely broken kids. And Juan, the boy that she had seen hurt, tortured in ways she can't even really wrap her mind around, he was there doing everything he could to comfort those kids, even though he was hurt, and in a wheelchair.
Shutting off the water she stood there for a second letting the remaining water fall from her body as she wondered if she had the internal strength to do what needed to be done for those poor kids. Finally, she stepped out of the shower and started to dry off with one of the huge towels. "Such hard kids, yet they have some of the nicest fluffy towels I have ever held." She said out loud. She couldn't help but smile and chuckle. "Mary, you're losing it!"
She walked out of the bathroom and over to the dresser. As she started to get dressed she looked around the room and found the picture of George, as he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And the Medal itself, right next to it. As she often did, ever since he had died, she started talking to the picture.
"So what do you think George? Should I have just stayed retired? Just last week Ethel asked me if I wanted to join the 'Golden Agers' on a trip to the casino. I'm starting to think I should have taken her up on it…NOT!" Absentmindedly, after she was dressed, she started to move around the room putting the last of the belongings that she had brought with her away; all the time she kept talking. "These kids, I mean I just don't know what they want from me, or more importantly what I can do to help them. I mean really, what do they need a retired woman my age for." She couldn't help but burst out laughing. "I certainly hope they don't want me to make cookies for them. The last time I tried to bake. Well, you know how that turned out. I even overheard one of the fireman telling his buddy that he hoped she never tries to bake again. So what could they need me for."
She shook her head as she put one of her few civilian shirts in the dresser drawer, but then she stopped. "They don't need a grandmother like that… They need someone to help them, someone to be their human side. Someone to teach them, to guide them, someone to help them learn how to tap into what they all lost. Their humanity. Oh hell…"
As the realization really hit her, she found herself moving over to, and sitting down on the bed. "They have so much power. They have so much strength. But they lack direction, no.. not direction, they lack the knowledge of when to use it, and when not to. That's what they want me for. To guide them." She looked back up at the picture. "George. My God… These kids could easily wipe out a town if they wanted to. And they would, too, if I told them to." Starting to get overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, she jumped back to her feet and started pacing. "Do I really want that kind of responsibility? Can I really handle it?"
'Yes, Mary, you can. If I had any doubt, I would not have chosen you.' Logan's voice came into her mind. However, since she wasn't used to that, she spun around, expecting him to be in her room. 'No, Mary, I am up in the Command Center, which, by the way, is where we need you, as quickly as you can get up here. But, remember what I said about the link that you are now a part of. We can all pick up on your mental state and when you started to freak out there, I started to listen in. I do not do it unless I have reason to, since a person's privacy needs to be respected. At least so long as they deserve that respect. Anyways, Ashwood is making his move, and we need you.'
"I'll be right there." Mary said as she grabbed her uniform and started to quickly change.
"Missiles up!" Jeremy shouted, and everyone turned towards him, and the screen in front of him. A screen that was showing a radar map overlaid by a map of Austin Texas.
Jory, who had been silent the entire time stared at the screen then spoke softly. "There's not enough missiles…"
"What do you mean?" Tom asked quickly.
"It means there aren't enough missiles to cover the entire city." Jory said simply.
"Missile cluster munitions firing!" Jeremy said softly, but in the now quiet room, it carried.
On the screen, they saw the missiles detonating, and then grey circles started to show on the screen. "I've factored in wind speeds and everything else I could think of to show what areas are getting hit with the gas." Simon said absently. "It should be pretty close to accurate."
"Just like I thought." Jory said emotionlessly. "There weren't enough missiles." He was referring to the fact that there were several parts of the city that were actually not getting any of the gas. Small parts, but they were there, like islands in the grey cloud of death spreading down from the heavens.
Jack struggled to put from his mind what the people in Austin, and those in Kansas City were going through. It was hard, but when you are the President, there are times you need to put certain things out of your mind, so that you can more easily deal with the issues at hand. Not to mention that he knew at least one of the kids here was in contact with the kids in Austin. They were doing everything they could down there, while still trying to help others.
One thing he was thankful for was the kid that came around and was giving out water, and refilling people's coffee cups. This was going to be a long day, no matter what happened. Jack just took a sip of water when a woman almost ran into the room. She was older, and wearing a Marine Uniform with the rank of General. Jack knew her, or at least knew of her, but didn't know she was here.
From 'The Horseshoe', Logan stood up and looked down to where Mary was. "Mary, take the Watch Commander's station." He then looked at the young boy that was manning it. "Tyler, bring her up to speed, and stay with her. This will be her first time using the system, so help her out however you can."
"Yes, sir!" Tyler said as he slipped out of the seat, offered it to Mary, who sat down. The two of them started talking quickly, but in quiet voices.
"Sir, you're getting a call from Prime Minister Arrington." Theodore said loud enough to be heard over everyone.
"On screen, please." Jack said as he stood up to face the front screen just as the man's face appeared.
"Prime Minister. It's good to hear from you again." Jack started. "What can I do for you?"
The Canadian Prime Minister almost smiled, but then it vanished into a worried look. "It's not what you can do for me Mr. President. I am calling about what Canada can do to help its Southern Neighbors."
Jack actually was able to laugh, although there was no humor in it. "I think, right now, we would be grateful for any help…"
"Sir! We just lost contact with General Sugarhill!" One of the soldiers called out.
Jack looked over, but Adam beat him to the punch. "Get me information…"
"SIR! I'm getting reports of a detonation in Oklahoma City." He went silent when he placed a hand to his headset listening intently to what the other person was saying. Everyone waited in quiet anticipation for what he would say. Everyone's heart started to sink when they saw his face go pale. "Repeat that please." He let his hand fall away from the headset a few moments later as he turned his pale face towards Jack. "Dirty bomb…" Was all he said, but it was enough.
"Activate the Radiological Response Team out of Dallas!" Jack ordered. "Everything gets diverted from Oklahoma City 'till we know how bad it is."
"Done!" Another soldier called out. Jack looked back to the Canadian Prime Minister who was almost as pale and shaky as Jack felt. Jack opened his mouth to say something, only to find words escaping him.
The Canadian Prime Minister nodded slowly. "I understand, Jack. Be prepared, we are sending everything we can down to help you. We mobilized our Urban Search and Rescue Teams… all of them. I'll have someone contact your DAC Commander when they are ready. I am also mobilizing as many relief supplies as we can, and will have the first shipments to you as soon as we can."
Jack nodded and with heartfelt sincerity, he spoke. "Thank you, Gustave."
"Think nothing of it. When things calm down a bit, and you're ready to go after the bastard that did this, let me know. There's more than a few people up here who want a piece of his ass."
Even with everything going on, Jack was able to find a smile and nodded as the connection broke. His face then hardened as he turned and looked at Adam, before he squared himself. "General Casey. I do not order you guys, or anything like that. You are not a part of the United States Military." He waited while the room fell deathly quiet, and Adam studied his face. When Adam nodded in agreement, Jack moved on. "I want that fucker to pay."
"Yes, Mr. President." Adam said with a single nod. "Once we have dealt with the current… situations… he will pay… dearly."
Thursday November 8th 1030 (10:30 am) Mountain Standard Time
Thursday November 8th 1230 (12:30pm) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah
Several minutes had passed since Adam had agreed to take out President Ashwood. The Command Center was organized chaos as people were doing what they could to help coordinate the rescue efforts in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Austin. Even with all of this going on, plans were being passed between the core Unit members on how exactly, they were going to get to Ashwood, and what they would do when they got him.
Finally, Adam turned the entire planning session over to Juan, not because Juan was any better at that sort of thing than Adam was, although he arguably could be. But Adam knew that unless he did something soon, Chang or Mom would have to sedate him. As it was, Juan was freaking out over what was going on in Austin. His friends were in danger, and there was nothing he could do. Of course, the one time he did try to really move, he had cried out in pain, which was something Juan rarely did. That probably made it clear to him just how badly he was still hurt. Of course with the time he took with the temple kids, Juan was not doing as well as he might like others to think, but Juan can't hide things in the 'Link'.
"Sir! I am getting some really strange reports from the Boulder Colorado area!" Courtney Hayes called out.
"What do you have?" Adam said as he walked over and stood behind her.
At the same time Simon called out. "We're getting a data dump from the Austin Geeks!"
"There's a… hold on…" She said as she listened to what was being said in her headset. She started talking again, but it was obvious that she was still listening as well. "There's a lot of strange 911 calls happening in and around Boulder. People reporting burning in their eyes, nose, mouth…" She stopped and looked horrified up at Adam. "I think they were hit with a blister agent of some sort. They're complaining about blisters and skin lesions, burning to eyes, ears, nose, throat. Difficulty breathing, and some people are even reported to be going into seizures."
"That fucking bastard." Adam said in a tightly controlled voice. "Even with some of the.." Adam slipped into Russian for a moment, "Huesos's we knew before we came here, I couldn't imagine any of them using a blister agent, especially on civilians!"
Adam calmly walked over to a wall, growled softly then hauled back and punched the solid stone wall with everything he had. Not only did he crack the wall which made every non-UNIT member's jaws drop, but they also heard the crunching of the bones in his hand.
Adam turned around holding his broken hand while grinning like a madman. "Dammit, Adam…" Janet said as she walked over to him. Without a fight, he held out his hand for her to look at. She sighed deeply, grabbed the fingers, and everyone heard even more crunching as she moved the bones back into the correct place. Adam did wince, but other than that, kept a very controlled face. Once the bones were set, she took out the tricorder and ran it over his hand. She snapped it closed and looked at him sternly. "Adam… don't do that again…"
He simply shook his hand, then his head. "I had to hit something, and I figured the wall would be able to handle it."
"Kids…" She said as she moved back to the work station she was using. Without another word, all the UNIT kids went back to work. Mary though, brought everyone back to the task at hand. "Sir. The people in Boulder still don't know what they got. Should I let them know. We have the information from the Austin Geeks, as well."
Janet spoke up before Adam could. "I am sending everyone information to their station. Make sure the people you're in contact with get this information. The Agent can be delivered three ways; gas, powder and liquid. Not sure what they got there, but this will help prepare for all, what they need to do to prevent further contamination, as well as treatments." No one hesitated. As soon as they got the information, they were back to talking, and sending the information out. Several of them sending out orders to send rescue teams to Boulder from nearby towns.
Everyone buckled down and went to work, but in the backs of everyone's mind was one question; was that the last, or were there more mass attacks still to come. It kept everyone on pins and needles, but they pushed through it. This was a time that training and steel nerves were needed, and everyone in the Command Center was showing that they had all of that, and more.
Jack had almost forgotten about Mike on the teleconference. He was the only one left, and had been watching what was going on, as well as doing what he could from there, mainly helping to get information out. The Redding bunker was fully stocked and staffed, and able to do many of the things that the UNIT base could do, although not as well.
"How is it going over there, Mike?" Jack asked.
"Not too bad. We're sending in medical supplies and personnel to both KC and Boulder. We just got word that the first supply planes from Canada have been dispatched to KC. We've also been told that Russia, Japan, and Australia are readying relief supplies. To quote the Russian President. "President Bryce sent us more aid than one would have thought wise at the time. Now Russia shall repay her American friends."
Mike got a grin on his face before he delivered his next line. "He also said to tell you that, just because you are in the middle of a civil war does not mean that you can forget about the rematch you promised six years ago."
Jack smiled as he thought back to when he first met the Russian President, and how the two men had brought the two nations together, through blood, sweat and tears.
"Are you sure you wanna do this already Jack?" Leonard asked in a careful voice.
"Yes Len. I need to get back into things. You know as well as I do that Nancy would kick my ass if I kept moping around like this." It had been almost nine months since his wife, Nancy, had died. She was carrying their first child, but it was a complicated pregnancy, and she had problems. Jack hadn't been able to be there when she passed, something that would haunt him for the rest of his days.
He spent six months after her death mourning her, and passing most of the duties of the President off to his close friend, and Vice President Leonard Nimoy. He had taken up as much as he could, leaving Jack to only have to handle the things that needed the President's personal attention.
The country, like Jack, had mourned Nancy's passing. Before her death, her approval ratings were in the high 80%. The country loved her, and had seen the love the two had for each other. Even Jack's greatest critics were very careful about casting a bad light on him at this point in time. One person had tried, and was almost lynched by his constituents.
Now here it was, nine months after her death. Jack had taken back most of the duties he had passed off to Len, including the welcoming of foreign dignitaries. This meeting was going to be especially important.
Adrik Ivanov was the newly elected President of Russia, and had inherited quite a mess. It had only been a little over seven years since the USSR split apart, and Russia itself was still in turmoil. Adrik was billed as a leader that could change that, and bring Russia back to being a strong nation. But he had a huge uphill fight ahead of him.
Jack's predecessor, Clifton Eastwood, had done a lot to try and heal the relations between the two countries, but there were a lot of hard feelings left between the two populations. The Cold War was not something that could have been forgotten about over night.
Now though, the new President was coming for his first official visit to the White House. So, Jack straightened his tie, and moments later, a young new staffer named Linda, part of the Public Relations team, came and got him. "Mr. President, the Russians have arrived. They are waiting for you, if you are ready."
"Of course." Jack said with a smile. "Please lead the way." She turned and led him to a small room off of the Oval Office.
The 'official' introductions lasted several minutes with the two Presidents having plastered smiles on their faces. Then came the small talk. It was a political game the likes of which are hardly seen outside of high level politics. It wasn't until two days later, once all the official functions, state dinners, photo ops, and other requirements were done, that the two men could take off their suit coats, roll up their sleeves, and really get to talking.
"I hope I will not offend you if I have a bit of a stiffer drink." President Adrik Ivanov said with a small smile.
"Only if you will not be offended if I do not." Jack said with a chuckle as he sat down with his coffee cup.
Adrik smiled and saluted Jack with his glass of vodka. Jack saluted back with his coffee, and they both sat there for a few moments in silence. Adrik finished off his glass then looked at Jack with a grin. "You know, I could not admit this to many people, but I really do not like Vodka. However, I have learned to drink it. I would never have gotten elected had I not been able to throw back a vodka every so often."
"How very un-Russian of you Adrik!" Jack said with a matching grin. they were already to the point of using first names. Jack found in Adrik a kindred soul, who much preferred informality when it was possible.
After a few moments to stop laughing, Jack looked seriously at Adrik. "Okay, let's get down to business. I know we got all the diplomats working on things, but let's do this the right way. What can the US do to help Russia?"
Adrik sat back and framed his answer before he spoke. "Frankly the biggest obstacle we have right now is the economy. We have so much ability in Russia, so many resources and fertile land for farms, but we can not build the infrastructure to handle it all. We spent so much on the military over the last several years, but have let the rest of the country go. We have workers, but no way to get them to jobs. Even if we could get them there, there is no money to pay the workers. I am afraid that shortly we will become even less than we are now."
Looking over to make sure that Linda was nearby and taking notes, he spoke a little louder. "Tell you what. I think it would do a lot of good for both our countries to work together. Give me a few days to work something out, but I have a few ideas that I think will work to both our benefits."
Adrik nodded his understanding, then looked around the room. something caught his eye, and he smiled again. He got to his feet causing Jack and Linda to both jump to theirs. He walked over to something on the wall, then smiled as he read the words inside the special frame.
"Golden Gloves winner dah?" He asked as he looked over his shoulder at Jack.
Jack blushed a bit but smiled back. "Yeah. I've been boxing since I was a kid. Continued when I went into the military, and after I got out. Made my way through college, and after years of training, was able to get back into boxing, and won the gloves when I was 30. Almost went pro, but then… well you know how it goes, life got in the way."
Adrik nodded yet the smile never left his face. "Do you still fight?"
"I try to stay in shape." Jack said simply.
"Well perhaps sometimes we could touch gloves. In Russia, boxing is very big. I was the champion from my town when I was a teenager."
"Perhaps." Jack said with a smile. As always happens at a time like this, one of his advisers, flanked by two of Adrik's came over and started to discuss how to bring the two nations closer together. However, as usual with political bureaucrats, the ideas were more on a 'feel good' level then something that would actually help.
It was two weeks after the Russian contingent went back to Russia that Linda approached Jack. "Mr. President?" She said after knocking on the door to his office.
"Yes Linda, what can I do for you?" He said motioning her to come in.
"Well sir," She said as she walked into the room and sat down. "I have an idea for you?"
Jack nodded then stood up before she could begin. He walked over to a small table before looking over his shoulder. "Coffee?"
"No, thank you, sir." She said, to which Jack only nodded then prepared his own. Tasting it to make sure it was the way he liked, he sighed in contentment before he moved back to the desk and sat down. "Okay, so let's hear it."
"Well, sir, I am sure you remember President Ivanov's comment about the two of you sparring sometime?" She said hesitantly.
"Yeah." Jack said not sure where this was going.
"Well…" She said, then paused as she reached over and handed Jack a file. Jack took it, opened it up, and started to look it over. Meanwhile she started to go over her idea.
Within a few moments, Jack knew that he had to give her the time she needed. so he canceled his dinner plans with a few uptight Senators, and gave her all the time she needed. By the time they were sharing desert, Jack was absolutely stunned by the sheer brilliance of the idea, and the way her mind worked.
"Mr. President…" The reporter started. "Is it true what we've heard. That you and Russian President Ivanov are going to have a boxing match?"
"Yes, yes it is. When he was here last month, we found out that we both have a love of boxing. As normally happens when two guys who love boxing talk about it; we started talking about who was better than whom. obviously there is only one real way to find that out. So, I invited him to Madison Square Gardens over Christmas break. The day after Christmas, known to those in England as 'Boxing Day', we're going to have a match. Amateur rules of course, and we invite everyone that wants to watch, to attend."
"But sir… You're the President of the United States." The reporter said, almost stumbling over her words.
"And that means?" Jack asked her with a mile wide grin. Instead of waiting on her, he continued. "Ms. Parsons, I know it's something strange that has never happened before, but honestly, I think I can take him. Yeah, he may be a year younger then I am, but honestly, with the people in this country behind me, and the people I have that are helping me train for this, I think I can beat him."
"But sir," She started, thankful for the moment to get her thoughts back. She had thought it was just some weird rumor that the President was going to debunk with a laugh, not confirm. "What happens if you get hurt?"
"Ms. Parsons, I could just as easily get hurt, if not more so, every time I walk down the stairs. Yes I am the President of the United States, but I'm still a man. With this great country behind me, I know we can win. I know that with everyone's support, there is nothing that I can't do."
Jack looked over her shoulder to see Linda waving him over. He nodded to her, then looked back to the reporter. "I'm sorry Ms. Parsons, but I have to go. Thank you."
"So are you ready for this?" Linda asked while Jack sat in the dressing room in Madison Square Gardens. It had been a busy several months since they decided to have this match. Linda had played everything beautifully. The entire arena was jam packed, and it was being broadcast live to all corners of the country.
In almost every city they had places where large numbers of people could go and watch. It had truly become a spectacle, which is exactly what we wanted.
Linda had made sure that there were cameras watching Jack train. Cameras were watching him spar, every aspect of this match was caught on camera and given to the American people, and they threw themselves behind their President, their national hero.
In Russia it was much the same. Adrik had been training hard, and taking this match very seriously. In Russia it was something that brought everyone together. That, combined with the new trade packages that Jack and Adrik worked out, were really starting to have an effect on the country.
Back at home, Linda came up with the brilliant idea of bringing some kids from Russia, young boxers, and having them stay with families here. It was the first 'Boxing Foreign Exchange' program. And it was a big hit. Of course the fact that everyone in the families, as well as the Russian children, received good tickets to see the fight, was also a plus.
She had also made sure to have plenty of seats available for Russians that wanted to come and watch. Much of it was paid for by wealthy donors, so many of the Russians that came didn't have to pay for the travel. This meant they had more money to spend in the local area, making this even more of a boon for the economy.
"Yeah." Jack said in response to Linda's question. He stood up and allowed her to put his robe around his shoulder. He was still conflicted when it came to Linda. She was in her early twenties, and yet had made a hell of a name for herself in the White House. Even more than that though, she made him feel things that only one other lady had.
They had been at the arena all day, watching the events from inside the locker room. Linda's other big idea was to have matches happen before Jack and Adrik had theirs. It ended up being an all day thing, with the first matches starting at nine in the morning.
The opening bout was between two nine year old boys, one from Russia and the other from the US. Just before that match started, while the boys were in the ring, but before the Ref started the match, Jack and Adrik went out to have a talk with the boys, and to generally pump up the crowd. It worked better than either man could have expected. They both stayed in the corner of their respective fighter, and both boys fought like their country's pride rode on their small shoulders.
It was a hell of a match, and the crowd was going wild the entire time. It came down to points, which is what most matches fought by the young boys would, and in the end it was the boy from the United States that won, barely.
The thing was, the crowd cheered just as much for the Russian boy as it did for the American. All throughout the audience, Russians and Americans were coming together, making friends, and cheering on the other country's fighters just as much as their own. All in all, the day was a roaring success, and now it was time for the main event.
Jack waited and waited, it was decided that their respective National Anthems would play as the two walked out. Since this was New York, it was decided that Jack would be the 'home team' which meant coming out second.
They waited as the crowd welcomed Adrik, then it was Jack's turn. He looked over at Linda who gave him a smile, then she started walking. He waited about five seconds, then followed her out.
It was almost deafening when he walked out, and got hit with the noise. He kept his face a mask of concentration as he walked down the aisle. People were slapping his shoulder, and shouting words of encouragement. Of course the Secret Service was out in force; however, everyone seemed to be okay with the security measures in place, and the crowd didn't seem to mind the long wait to get through security. Jack had heard that people started camping out three days prior, simply to be able to get good seats.
When he made it up to the ring, Adrik was patiently waiting in his corner, completely out of the way as Jack made several trips around the ring, arms raised and the crowd going nuts for him.
It took several minutes for the people to calm down, for the referee to be introduced, and then for the rules to be gone over. When the bell rung, the two fighters came out, and the match was on!
Since this was amateur rules, there were only four, two minute rounds, but for both fighters, it felt like an eternity. The match was scored on points, with the knuckle part of the gloves land on either the opponent's torso, above the belt, or on the protective headgear. Neither man really thought the headgear helped all that much, as they were both rocked hard by punches from the other man.
Jack was able to take an early lead on points, by using a set of hard and fast punches, trying to rock Adrick back, and keep him off balance. It worked throughout the first round, but when the bell rang for the second round, Adrik kicked it up a notch, his first blow sent Jack to his knees.
Jack was back up before the referee even got to a count of two, but it certainly made an impression in the crowd. One thing not missed by anyone was that Adrik backed off, and allowed Jack to get back to his feet. The Russian didn't come at Jack, till he nodded that he was ready to continue.
When they did go at it again, Jack was wary of the right hook from Adrik, and made sure to block or avoid it. Just before the ring of the bell ending the second round, Jack saw an opening, and was able to deliver a massive uppercut that sent Adrik back into the corner, and down to his knees. It was Jack's turn to step back, while Adrik shook off the effects of that blow. Then the bell rang, ending the second round.
"Holy shit that man can hit." Jack panted out as his trainer rubbed the sweat off his back and off his face.
"You're doing great!" Nine year old Kaydyn Shaw just about screamed in Jack's ear. After the first match, Jack asked Kaydyn to be in his corner. The boy excitedly accepted, and Jack couldn't help but smile at the boy's enthusiasm.
Now though it was Kaydyn's turn to support Jack, his new hero. "Come on Mr. President! You can do this!" Jack couldn't help but smile and nod as he put his mouth guard back in, and stood up.
Across the ring, Jack wasn't all that surprised to see that Adrik had brought the Russian nine year old to ringside. The boy was doing the same thing that Kaydyn was.
The third round was just as intense, with both men being driven from their feet at least once. Right before the end of the round, Adrik was down till the ref counted to six.
Jack stepped back and waited for Adrik to not only get back to his feet, but to shake off the hit, and get himself set again. Before they were able to go again, the bell rang, ending the round. The points were close, but Jack had a slight advantage.
"Come on Sir!" Kaydyn said when he fell onto his stool. "You got this. One round left, you're leading."
Jack didn't have the breath to say anything, just nodded his head, and concentrated on his breathing. He allowed his coach to wipe away the sweat from his forehead and face, and wasn't all that surprised to see some blood mixed in.
All too soon the bell rang again signaling the start of the next and final round. Jack pushed himself to his feet, filling himself with the energy of the crowd that was going absolutely nuts at the moment.
Jack and Adrik circled around each other for a few seconds, before Jack made his move to Adrik's left side. He went in with a flurry of punches pushing Adrik to the right, and back a few steps, all while trying to not let any of Jack's punches land. Adrik went up against the ropes, and for a moment Jack thought about trying to tie him up, but then he remember the whole point of this match, sportsmanship, bringing the two countries together, and doing it right.
He backed off allowing Adrik to re-group; Adrik looked at him, nodded, and the two men were at it again. There was blood leaking out from around Adrik's headgear, but it wasn't enough for the Ref to stop the match, or for it to stop Adrik.
The Russian came at Jack with a flurry of his own that surprised Jack. Jack stumbled slightly, just as Adrik was coming in with a huge left jab. The punch hit Jack right in the temple. The American President crumpled to the mat, unconscious.
As the memories faded, Jack couldn't help the smile on his face. "Make sure he knows that, just because he's gotten old doesn't mean I will go easy on him."
Mike couldn't help but laugh, but the laughter was cut short. "What the?" Mike started to say. Jack and everyone else looked, only to see the room that Mike was in start to shake violently. Behind him things were thrown off shelves and people were falling all over the place. "MIKE!" Jack cried out as he shot to his feet. But the signal died before Mike could respond.
"WHAT HAPPENED?!" Jack cried out. "MIKE!" He called out again, then spun towards Logan. "Can we get him back?" He exclaimed.
"I'm working on it, sir!" Logan said with a look of concentration as his fingers flew over the keyboard.
"Find out what's going on!" Adam said to everyone, who were already working on just that.
"Getting lots of reports from all over California. I think it's an Earthquake!" Someone called out.
"That's what I'm getting, too." Theodore said as he turned and looked at Adam. "It's a big one, too. I'm getting reports from all over California, as well as Nevada and Western Arizona."
"Where?" Adam asked but all eyes went to Logan.
"Screw it!" Logan said in frustration as he stopped typing, closed his eyes and didn't move for several seconds. Jack was about to say something, when Adam held up a hand and stopped him. The room was silent as those who could were watching Logan, while the rest were still gathering information.
The one person who was watching him the closest was Mary, fascinated by finally seeing the boy in real action. But… well there really wasn't anything to see; he was just sitting there with his eyes closed.
Alvin had put up a map of the Western United States, and started plotting the reports, trying to figure out what got hit. By the looks of it, almost everything did.
Logan slumped back in his seat, a look of clear exhaustion on his face. He looked over to Jack and smiled gently. "Sammy's hurt and unconscious, but not too bad. He was with all of his family except Mike when whatever it was, hit."
"We think it was an earthquake." Adam said, to which Logan nodded and smiled at him.
"That sounds about right." Logan then looked back at Jack. "Sammy'll let me know if Mike is okay as soon as they find out. I didn't want to tie him up too long, since they are all trying to rescue people. The place got hit pretty hard."
"Okay, we'll need to find a new place for them." Jack said as he started to think.
"Sir… I am just getting unofficial reports. The University of Denver reported a minimum 8.0 earthquake, centered in or around San Francisco."
"Dear Lord…" Jack said as he literally fell back into a seat. Several of the soldiers, as well as a few of the UNIT kids crossed themselves when they heard the news.
Adam, though, even though he was feeling wound up tighter than almost ever before, was able to keep his calm, and tried to focus people. "OK.. someone get me satellite coverage of the area. Everyone else, track and plug the holes in their response network. Get the DACs to help you. I want every call fielded, while we get a handle on what happened." Adam then turned to Jeremy. "Jeremy, I want you on the Hoover Dam. Find out if that had any damage." Jeremy nodded and went to work immediately.
It was only ten seconds later when Simon called out over the din of voices. "Satellite coming up!"
All eyes moved to the screen as a blurry image came up. Simon worked his magic and soon the picture started to zoom in and clear up. "Holy shit…" Someone breathed out. The picture was centered over what used to be the Bay Bridge. It wasn't there, neither was the entire city of Oakland. Rubble was the only thing that could be seen; rubble, and fire.
The Satellite, now controlled by Simon, panned over San Francisco, taking in the complete destruction of the once vibrant city, then he moved it east, almost afraid of what he would find. It was just as bad as he thought. Moving across the San Francisco Bay, they saw the mainland, and the city that sat there, or at least what was left of it. Fire, smoke, collapsed buildings, vehicles thrown around like rag dolls. It was as if a giant hand had reached down from the heavens, and smashed everything that was there. Here and there, buildings that had survived the initial quake, were starting to tumble under the destruction that happened around them. It looked like something out of a horror or sci fi movie.
"Dear Lord…" Jack breathed out. "Does anyone know if this was natural?" He asked, not knowing how such a thing could have been man made, but the timing…
"That is unknown right now, sir." Adam replied just as quietly. "We may never find out."
Adam was silent for several moments, and everyone could tell he was planning something. All around the room, people were calling out reports, ranging from casualty counts from the different attacks that happened, to military readiness reports. All through it all, Adam was silent. Finally he nodded to himself, then turned to Jack. "Sir, may I please speak to you in private?"
"What the hell!" Simon cried out. "The sat…. it's gone!"
"What do you mean gone?" Adam demanded as he spun towards Simon.
"I mean it's gone!" Simon said with out breaking his stride as his fingers flew over the keyboards. "They're all gone… just gone!"
"How?" Adam asked.
"I don't know! But… dammit… I'll figure it out!" The boy growled out.
Adam nodded, knowing that nothing would stop the boy. "Alvin, you're with me. Get Jory and Will in here ASAP." Adam said as he followed Jack into the office, Alvin hot on his heels.
As soon as the door was shut, Adam motioned for Jack to sit behind the desk, while he sat down across from him, Alvin standing at attention behind Adam. Once everyone was settled, Adam sighed before he started to talk. "Sir, we need to move Mr. Reynolds as well as his family. However, I have looked at all the other bunkers we have available to us, and sir, I do not feel it would be a good idea to send them there."
"Why not?" Jack asked, not arguing, but trying to follow Adam's line of thinking.
"We need to open up everything we have for refugees. The remaining bunkers are stocked with everything people need to survive. Spread out the officials between them, with security. That will help keep them safe, since they won't all be in one place, nor will Ashwood know who is where. The communications blackouts will hurt him as much as it hurts us in that regard." Adam paused as he leaned forward. "In the long run you need to be seen as the person doing everything he can to help protect and comfort the people. You need to order everyone, that will listen to your orders, that they need to help the people out as much as they can, and not hole up somewhere and try to ride this out. You need to be seen taking the lead, and doing everything you can to help everyone. Use your international friends to help. We know Canada has already started to mobilize their urban search and rescue teams. Use them. Have them bring down aid wherever and whenever they can. You need to be seen as the leader of the people in the war."
Adam leaned back and gave Jack a hard look. "Make no mistake, Mr. President, you are now in the middle of a civil war. A civil war where Ashwood has just shown he will not back down from. From everything I can see, you and he are about evenly matched as far as the military goes. What you need on your side, is the people. Ashwood is going to try and subdue them through fear; you need to be seen as the one to help lift them out of that fear. This is not going to be a short term thing. Ashwood is going to try to make it one. He's proved that, but we're not going to let him. We're in this for the long haul, and you need to be prepared for that."
Before Jack could respond, the door opened and Jory and Will came jogging into the room. Adam turned and looked at Will, while they both went to attention next to Alvin, then saluted. "At ease, guys. Will, I need you to get the 'Janet' as well as one of the Hueys spun up and ready to go to California. It's a rescue mission, so load it up with everything you'll need for that. However, as soon as you're offloaded, you need to get the hell out of there with Mike and his family. Your final destination will be given to you after you have them and are in the air. Understood?"
"Yes sir." Will said crisply, then without another word, he spun and jogged from the room.
When Adam turned back around, and sat down, Jack was staring at him hard. "Where are you planning on sending them?"
Adam gave a huge grin, "I plan on hiding them in plain sight. Here's what I got in mind…"
Alvin and Simon hurried up to the Huey, just as it and the Chinook were about ready to take off. They both held several metal cases with no markings on them at all. However, anyone could tell that they were very high tech cases, complete with biometric locks. Not much could open them if the boys didn't want them opened.
They settled down next to a thirteen-year-old girl holding a rifle and wearing military fatigues. Her rank insignia was that of a First Lieutenant, while her unit badge showed her as a member of the Strike Team code named "Firebirds."
"Lt. Hughes, thanks for volunteering for this mission." Alvin said as the Huey started to lift off the ground.
Courtney Hughes grimaced as she looked at Alvin. "I understand the reason we were asked, and I have to say I agree with it; doesn't mean I like it though. My entire team had to ask Logan to help make sure we didn't kill the man on sight. He actually had to put a mental block in all of us that unless that… man… actually tried to hurt one of us, we could not hurt him."
Alvin nodded. "He did the same for Simon and me."
Simon nodded, then he spoke up. "Do you guys have all the equipment you'll need, and know what your mission objectives are?"
Trevor Hughes, Courtney's brother, as well as her second in command, nodded. "Yeah. It should be pretty cool actually. Getting to pretend to be normal kids, all the while being silent security. It should be real fun."
Both Alvin and Simon couldn't help but giggle at the glare that Trevor's sister gave him, but they both did see the small smile on her face. After that they all fell into a comfortable silence. Even to the point that many of the Firebirds were able to fall asleep on the ride.
By the time that Jack and Adam re-appeared in the command center, everything was almost as hectic as it was before they went in there. Logan had kept Adam updated on what was going on throughout his conversation with Jack. So when Adam called out "Update." He was doing it more for Jack's benefit than his own.
Mary turned, then stood up. "Sir. We have received multiple reports about the incident centered around San Francisco. It was indeed an earthquake. We do not have an official report on size yet; however, we have confirmed reports that the effects were felt as far away as Canada and Mexico. There is some speculation that it was actually man-made, but that is just rumor right now. However, we have reports of several naval vessels leaving port about two hours prior, and hauling ass as soon as they got to open waters. We confirmed that they are all Ashwood ships."
She took a deep breath, then continued. "So far as we can tell, everything within a five to ten mile radius has been completely destroyed. There is very little chance of any survivors being found. There was a huge wave that rushed away from the coastline, and we know of several smaller ships, a few ocean liners, and even a military destroyer were capsized by the wave."
Jack sat down hard in his chair while Mary was speaking. Finally he found his voice. "Do…" He had to stop to clear his throat, it had closed up on him some, as he tried to get the question out. "Do we have any idea how many casualties we're talking about, not just from San Fran, but from everything."
All talking in the room stopped as all eyes fell on Mary, but it was Logan who responded. He had decided that now wasn't the time to tell Jack about the foreign fighters instigating riots all over the country, or about how many of the bridges over the Mississippi and Missouri rivers had been brought down. No, he didn't need to hear all of it yet. For now, Logan would only answer the question asked. "Very preliminary reports say… there is somewhere between five and ten million casualties due to the events of today."