Operation: Black Pearl
Copyright © 2015 by Eric Aune, Ken Barber, Roland and The Revolutions Universe Partnership
All rights Reserved
Admiral Norris was pacing the CIC listening to all the reports from the ground. Everything had gone according to plan so far. That's what was terrifying him the most, he was waiting for something to go wrong.
"Admiral, Archer is calling in the second wave and refugee planes are beginning to take off..."
"Very well, CAG keep escorts on airdrop all the way in and then turn and escort the evacuation planes out. Get all the available squadrons to BARCAP around Disney."
"Aye sir, I have the Black Knights on escort; Sabre and Anvil with British Squadrons; Defender, Avenger and Executioner are forming BARCAP. Lancer, Striker and Bastille Squadrons in HICAP formation over the fleet. Toulon, Marfee and Cambrai Squadrons are in formation over Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force Base."
Norris nodded and turned to Colonel Rodriguez. "The British and French Marines have secured Kennedy and Patrick?"
"Yes sir. They encountered very little resistance. Port Canaveral is secured and ready to receive follow on forces."
"Ok let's start getting ready to move the heavy armor and equipment to the port. Move the fleet closer to the port, we cannot let those transports outside of our Air Defense Bubble."
"AYE sir." Norris couldn't really tell how many people responded but he knew everyone heard him and everyone knew what to do.
"Sir, multiple radar contacts coming out of Pensacola and Jacksonville."
"How many, Jackson?"
"Looks like two squadrons from Pensacola and one from Jacksonville sir."
"OK everyone, it's the second half. Tell Archer we are assuming command. Get those airborne troops deployed and the refugees off the ground. CAG send in Sabre and Executioner to intercept the bogeys coming from the north west and Toulon and Cambrai Squadrons intercept the bogeys from Jacksonville."
"Romeo this is Big Brother. Multiple long range vampires inbound from the Strait of Florida. We count twenty-five vampires."
"Fuck, activate all air defense systems, close the fleet on the Fort Worth, CAG begin long range intercept with Lancer Squadron. Somebody find me a target.
"Vampires on Radar sir."
Norris grabbed the mic. "Fort Worth standby to activate Hide and Seek at maximum range."
"Roger that, at maximum range we can only give you a couple minutes."
"Lancer tracking and engaging vampires"
"Sir, outer screen ready to engage with long range systems."
"Lancer reports splash six. Sabre and Executioner engaging enemy bogeys."
"Outer screen has splashed eight Vampires."
"Close in, anti-missiles systems engaging."
Norris looked into the night and watched as the most vaunted air defense systems in the world, created a fireworks show unrivaled by any 4th of July display. The amount of ordinance thrown into the air was awesome. The incoming missiles were being picked off one by one.
"Collins, tell Fort Worth to engage."
"Fort Worth, this is Ronald Reagan engage Hide and Seek."
The radar screen went blank outside of the electromagnetic bubble.
"Vicksburg and Cyclone outside of the bubble."
Norris spun around and watched helplessly as the four remaining tomahawk cruise missiles changed course and targeted the two ships. Vicksburg's defenses shot down three missiles but the small Coast Guard ship was too far away and didn't have any major defense system. The explosion ripped the night open like a bolt of lightning. The rapid crescendo of continuing secondary explosions sounded like a bass drum.
Norris turned to Miller and before he could say anything Miller read his mind. "Search and Rescue in the air already."
"Tell Fort Worth to deactivate and get me a fucking target now!"
All the screens and equipment picked up a flurry of activity as the electromagnetic bubble dissipated.
"Reagan, this is Toulon 1, six bogeys from Jacksonville splashed, the rest are pulling back. Two friendly aircraft damaged making emergency return to the de Gaulle."
"Roger Toulon, resume CAP over Kennedy. We will get you relieved as quickly as possible."
"Reagan, this is Big Brother we have targeting telemetry on USS Dwight D Eisenhower and escorts."
"Reagan this is Sabre 1, squadrons from Pensacola pulling back, nine bogeys splashed or damaged. Two friendly losses. Executioner 6 and Sabre 11. Sabre 11 joins their wingmen tonight."
Norris looked at the board showing the downed flights and then turned to watch as the fires on the stricken ship slowly diminished and it sank beneath the sea.
"Vicksburg reports Cyclone is down. Lifeboats and rafts in the water."
Norris took a deep breath to control his rage. "Collins?"
"Get me communication with the USS Dwight D Eisenhower."
"Aye sir, sending secure comms request now."
"CAG get those refugee planes out of the hot zone. How soon until the airdrop is complete?"
"Sir, I have Admiral Lahmer on secure radio."
"Airdrop needs twelve minutes to finish. Landing at the port begins in thirty-five minutes."
"Let's keep Lahmer's attention on us. Lahmer, another pig headed idiot. Seems to be the trend with Ashwood's supporters. I want a report from search and rescue now." Norris picked up the headset. "Eisenhower, cease fire, you have just engaged and crippled a US Navy warship; I say again cease fire or we will be forced to return fire. Stand down your weapons and set course for Port Canaveral for investigation."
"Reagan, this is Eisenhower. You, your officers and your crew have been charged with treason. Stand down immediately."
"Lahmer, we can keep this verbal pissing match up all night. I do not want to take the lives of more sailors tonight. Surrender now and I promise the Navy will be lenient on your crew."
There was nothing but static. "Sir, they ended the communication." Collins looked nervous as he took the head set back from the Admiral."INCOMING VAMPIRE!"
"Just one sir."
Norris picked up the headset. "Collins can they hear me if I transmit?"
"Lahmer, is that all you've got? Come on hit me with your best shot, fire away."
There was no response "I take it that is his answer. CAG have Lancer squadron take out the missile."
"Big Brother, I need targeting for the Eisenhower."
"We have it now sir."
"All ships, fire fully loaded complement. Simultaneous salvo, all targeted on Eisenhower."
Everyone in the CIC paused. Miller stood up. "Admiral that is two hundred and twelve missiles."
"I am well aware of that, Miller." Norris paused. "We cannot afford to let our sensibilities get in our way nor can we afford to hesitate, because our enemy damn sure won't. It's all or nothing now, no half-assed measures. Fire at my command."
"Aye sir, all ships report at launch ready status."
The light from the missiles being launched was so intense everyone had to shield their eyes, the heat from two hundred twelve launch pods raised the temperature in the air for a moment. The missiles streaked away from the fleet, towards the unseen enemy ships. Norris walked over to the electronic board and watched all two hundred and twelve missiles fly towards their target.
"INCOMING VAMPIRES I count forty-eight no make it fifty-two Vampires."
"CAG Lancer Squadron to intercept."
Collins stood up. "Sir, Eisenhower requesting emergency communications."
"Ignore them Collins, he had his chance. They all made a choice, they started this war and we are going to end it."
"Missiles approaching enemy AO. They are scrambling everything they have."
"Lancer engaging vampires"
"Outer screen engaging."
Norris watched as the two swarms of missiles like opposing groups of mosquitoes passed each other in the air. "Fort Worth can't hide us this time so we have to take them all out."
"Sir, Lancer and outer screen have knocked down twenty-two vampires. That leaves thirty sir."
"Our point defense systems can handle thirty."
"Iron Duke has shifted her position and is now horizontal to us. The remaining missiles are all targeted at Reagan."
Norris continued to watch as his missiles were being knocked down one by one. The Reagan's own air defense system began engaging the incoming missiles. He looked out and could see the streaks of fire flying toward him. "HOW MANY LEFT?"
"Incoming six. Outgoing one hundred and eight."
Another small explosion closer this time signaled only five threats left. The HMS Iron Duke's point defense system opened up and ripped into the remaining missiles taking out four. One got through and there was nothing left to stop it, except the Reagan's own point defense system. Norris watched as the Phalanx system began firing at the missile. Essentially creating a wall of lead in front of the threat. The missile exploded about one hundred meters off the port bow; it was close enough to hear shrapnel rain down on the bow and to feel the heat of the explosion.
"All Vampires destroyed. We still have sixty-four on target. Twenty seconds to impact."
"Fifty-seven left fifteen seconds" …
"Forty-two, ten seconds." …
"Thirty-eight. Five seconds" …
"Twenty-seven IMPACTS on Eisenhower." …
The room erupted in cheers.
"SILENCE!" Norris's voice bellowed out over the cheers. "Taking the lives of 5000 of our fellow sailors is not something we will cheer about. We succeeded here but at a terrible cost."
Everyone settled down and got back to their stations. Norris walked over to the comms board. "Collins get me whoever is left in the Eisenhower group."
"Yes sir, give me a second."
Captain Miller waved Norris over "Sir, Bishop is making an emergency landing at Animation Studio. The Osprey took some damage."
"On board sir with others including the British Ambassador."
"Tell my security detail to get a couple of Sea Stallion Medevacs ready, I am going ashore."
Both Myers and Miller started to protest but Norris held up a hand cutting them off. "Collins, have you reached anyone yet."
"Sir I have Captain Thomas of the USS Stockdale."
Norris grabbed the headset. "Stockdale this is Reagan, You have your hands full so I will be short. Commence rescue operations, land any combat aircraft at Homestead. All ships, planes, choppers and ordinance will not cross 25.8 degrees latitude and we will cease all hostile actions on your group. You deviate from this at all and I will sink every ship in the group. Do you understand?"
"Reagan this is Stockdale, We understand and will abide by your conditions. USS Stockdale out."
Norris turned everyone was staring at him. "I said we will not hesitate and we will make our enemies feel our wrath but I did not say we wouldn't be merciful. They are hurt, wounded and confused. Let them conduct their search and rescue."
"Lieutenant Perez, you have my team ready?"
"Good let's go pay a visit to Colonel Shelton and his team. Myers, Rodriguez, you're with me. Captain Hollway has command of the Strike Group and Commodore Chase the Task Force."
Three Sea Stallion Choppers lifted off from deck of the Reagan and raced west. In the clouds above them two F-18s slowed to keep pace, the pilots knew who was aboard and they were determined that if anything even looked at those choppers they would be toast.
On board the chopper, Lieutenant Perez was briefing his team.
Norris tapped Myers on the shoulder to get her attention and then pointed at the headset telling her to put it on.
"Get the pilots to connect you to Shelton, I want him and all the senior commanders to meet us at the detention center. That Includes Adam, Bucky, Sinclair, Christine, and Tony. Also the Infantry Battalion commander."
Norris pulled out his tablet and looked at his notes. The easy part was over, the hard part was coming. Lieutenant Perez and Sergeant Barnum unstrapped themselves and approached the Admiral and Myers with a bag.
Barnum began pulling out a helmet and body armor. Norris began to shake his head no but Perez wasn't having it. "Sir, this is standard issue gear, nothing out of the ordinary and everyone in the AO is required to wear it, that includes you."
The pilot's voice came through the headset. "We are fifteen minutes out. Everyone get geared up. The flight path is suppose to be clear but we are coming in hard and fast anyway. Perez, there is security on the ground and we are being told the area is fully secured."
Perez looked at the Admiral and reached up and keyed his headset. "Thank you sir, but still the Admiral does not disembark until I say so."
"Roger that LT. Chief, you got that?"
"Roger, Admiral stays put until Lieutenant Perez says otherwise."
Norris laughed and shook his head. "What the hell is the point of being in charge around here."
"Ok, we are dropping to the deck for final approach. Chief, make sure everyone is buckled up and their seatbacks are in the upright position and tray tables put away."
"Yes sir, cabin and passengers secure."
The pilot pushed the helicopter down as far as he dared, the tops of trees almost scraping the bottom of the big bird. They broke from the tree cover as they crossed into Disney World. The pilot never slowed until he reached his designated landing zone and pulled up short and brought the chopper down in a perfect landing. Perez and his team were at the back ramp before the chopper even touched the ground. The security team deployed in a semicircle around the back of the chopper. The officers and soldiers waiting for the Admiral knew to wait until the security team was confident the area was secure. Perez signaled to Lance Corporal Fayette and he motioned for the Admiral to follow him out.
Admiral Norris, Rodriguez and Myers stepped out into the light drizzle that was falling and immediately began walking to the assembled officers. Colonel Shelton and Logan were there with a couple staffers.
"Admiral glad to see you here."
"Thanks Bryan, Logan glad to see you're doing well. Bryan you got the senior officers assembled?"
"Still gathering them up. I have a space in the Induction Center cleared for you to use. But I thought you might like to see Dr. McCray and his patients first."
"Yes I would."
The sound of small arms fire from the distance made Norris pause.
"Couple of scattered groups still putting up resistance. Major Sinclair has his teams on it, backed up by the choppers. He has one platoon he is using as a Rapid Response Force. Whenever we run into one of these groups, that team moves quickly to pin them down and the choppers go in and finish them off."
"Sounds like you have everything under control."
They began walking toward the main building. "Oh Admiral, you should know Adam and his team rescued the British, French and Italian Ambassadors and their families. The French and Italians are resting in a lounge we found. The British Ambassador is with Dr. McCray."
"Is he or his family injured?"
"No but his wife has some minor medical experience and insisted on helping with the wounded."
Norris nodded in response as they entered the building. The main lobby had been turned into an impromptu field hospital and McCray had taken command. Norris stopped in front of a small group of wounded enemy.
He nodded to the Marines guarding them and knelt down. "You guys doing ok, are my men treating you ok?"
A First Sergeant tried to stand. Norris put his hand on the wounded soldier's arm and guided him back down. "Easy there Top, just rest. You the senior man here?"
"As far as I can tell Sir."
"Ok well, are your men being taken care of?"
"Yes sir we have all been treated for our injuries. But the men are concerned, what is going to happen to them?"
Norris stood and looked over the group. "I don't have answers for you. This is new territory for us all. For now know that my men will treat you with respect and make sure you're taken care of. Just focus on what you need to do to heal, the rest will work itself out."
The men all mumbled their thanks and Norris began walking off. McCray was waiting for him.
"Admiral, I would ask what the fuck you're doing here, but I know I would get some bullshit 'it's my duty' answer, so why bother."
"Great to see you too, Leo. What's the status?"
"Still counting wounded and dead. Won't have a final tally for a day or two."
"How is the boy?"
"Cadet Peters is in stable but watched condition. I want to get him back to Reagan ASAP but he is the least of my concerns. There is another boy, teenager, no name, won't speak to anyone. Not sure if it's PTSD or he thinks he can't trust us."
"Take me to them."
McCray nodded and lead them to a room that had been an office. The room had been emptied and only two stretchers on banquet tables were in the room now. Each stretcher was occupied by a young man. The first was obviously Cadet Peters and he was sleeping soundly with Germs standing silently watching over him.
"I have him sedated. He has been through enough, he doesn't need to see all this."
Norris brushed the hair out of the cadet's face and looked at him. "We are taking you home, son." He turned and looked at the other boy laying on the other stretcher. The boy was looking at him.
Norris crossed the room and noticed right away that the boy seemed to be too short. McCray saw the puzzled look on Norris's face and pulled back the blankets. Norris was shocked, both of the boy's legs were missing from right below the knees.
"What the hell happened?"
"We don't know and he won't tell us."
Norris looked up at the young face and as soon as they made eye contact the boy averted his gaze.
"Son, take as much time as you need, but we are the good guys and we are here to help. We need to know who did this to you and why."
The boy turned his head away and didn't respond.
Norris just nodded. "Get them both loaded up and back to the Reagan. Are you needed here Leo?"
"No I think I am in the way, more than I am a help. The Marine and Army doctors are all very competent and know what they are doing."
"Go with them, they are your priority."
Norris started to leave and stopped and turned to Germs. "You stay with them too. Keep them both safe understood."
Germs nodded. "I had no other intention sir."
Norris stopped at the door to the office and watched Bucky come into the building. He spotted Norris and walked over to him.
"Admiral, it's good to see you."
"How are you doing Bucky?"
"I have been better sir."
"Flex is here somewhere."
"I am better already."
Norris leaned in and whispered "Bucky, round up your team, Major Tony Guilipo from Blood's Honor. Make sure Germs is included."
He turned to Colonel Shelton. "Logan, can you get Adam and Christina and as much of their teams as possible to meet with me as soon as I am done with these guys. Bryan, I would like you to join us please."
"Consider it done Admiral." Shelton turned and looked around. "Captain Harris, can you show the Admiral to the old employee lounge please."
"Of course, sir. Admiral right this way sir."
The young Captain led them to what appeared to be a former employee cafeteria. It was in shambles but would work for what Norris wanted.
Norris leaned over and attempted to straighten a flipped table. He groaned in pain and Lieutenant Perez and Sergeant Barnum raced over and grabbed the table from him.
"When are you going to learn to listen to me?" Doctor McCray called out from the doorway."When you out rank me."
McCray just shook his head, walked over and sat beside the Admiral.
Norris just looked at him. "Did I ask for you?"
Leo chuckled. "Nope, thought I would crash the party since you are going to talk about these warrior children behind their backs."
"How the hell did you know that?"
"I didn't, you just told me."
Norris just stared at him for a second and then laughed. Over the next couple of minutes everyone wandered in. Colonel Shelton was the last one to arrive and closed the door behind him.
Norris stood. "Everyone, I know you're busy as hell so I will try to keep this brief. Over the past week, and more so over the last couple of hours, you all have worked closely with UNIT kids. They are an unknown to us. We are getting to know them and their abilities but I want your honest feedback. How do they perform under stress, in combat, as a team? How did they work with your units? Bucky I want your report first."
Bucky stood. "Of course sir. First I am sure the Admiral does not want to hear any concerns about their age, that's our issue to get over. Admiral I have to tell you, I was extremely impressed with the group I worked with. They followed instructions and gave unbelievable support. We found ourselves in a couple of sticky situations that I don't think we would have gotten out of as easily without them. I really don't have anything negative to report."
Norris nodded. "Snoops, how did it go on your end?"
Snoops smiled and stood. "They are undisciplined, rash, and like to show off. They will make perfect Navy SEALs."
Everyone in the room laughed. Norris nodded at Tony. "For everyone that doesn't know him this is Major Tony Guilipo, commander of Blood's Honor."
"Thank you Admiral. It has been a pleasure to fight beside all of you. This is one of the most fierce battle teams ever gathered. As for the kids, their combat skill cannot be questioned. They are some of the most skilled warriors I have ever met. They do tend to make rash decisions and have an almost 'I am immortal' attitude. I would still be thrilled to have them on my flank anyday."
Norris looked over the room. "Germs, you and the good doctor here worked very closely with Adam's group. Give me your feedback."
"Sir, it's true their skill in combat is incomparable. However, their willingness to just rush into anything and count on brute force to get out of it can be dangerous. They work really well in small groups or as individuals. But I would be concerned about large group interactions. They have a tendency to go off on their own a lot. With that being said I would welcome them to fight at my side anytime."
Norris nodded. "Thank you for your honesty. Dr. McCray anything to add?"
"When have you known me to keep my mouth shut?" Everyone laughed. "They are teenagers, plain and simple, passionate, arrogant, know-it-all teenagers. But they are also loyal, trusting, compassionate and emotional teenagers. My one word of caution is treat them like you would any other soldier in combat but when the bullets stop treat them like the kids they are. They have secrets and they have their own way of dealing with stress. They are trying harder than you can imagine to adapt to our way of doing things. Give them a little latitude."
"Thank you Leo. All of you are going to be working with them again whether you like it or not. Accept them as fellow soldiers and treat them with the respect they deserve. This is not their fight, yet here they are by our sides spilling blood for our country. Underestimate them at your own risk. That is all. I will meet with senior commanders as soon as I am done talking to the UNIT soldiers. Captain Harris would you show the commanders the briefing room and send in the UNIT."
"Of course, sir."
As everyone was leaving, Dr. McCray stood to go until Norris shook his head no and the Doctor sat back down. The room emptied and quickly refilled with the UNIT members. As Adam entered, Norris motioned for him join him at the front. Once everyone settled down. Colonel Shelton closed the door again and sat down beside the Admiral.
Norris stood up. "Thank you all for coming. I know it's been a long night and it's nowhere near over, so I appreciate you taking time to come listen to an old man ramble for a few."
There were a few chuckles from the room. "As you probably saw I just met with all the folks you guys and gals worked with on this mission. I asked them to tell me how you did." The tension in the room cranked up a notch. "Now I want you to tell me how they did."
Christina stood without being asked. "Sir, while I feel like you are asking us to spy on our fellow soldiers, I will tell you what I noticed. They were reluctant at first but when the bullets started to fly their professionalism and honor took over. They acted like soldiers should. I was proud to fight with them." she sat back down.
"Thank you. Anyone else want to comment?"
Josh stood up. "Admiral we understand how hard it is to accept the fact that a bunch of teenagers are fighting beside you and we even put up with a little push back. We have dealt with it our whole lives, it won't stop us from continuing to do what is right. Commander Bucky is one of the best military commanders I have ever seen in action and he treated us like soldiers, and showed that he cared. I would follow him into battle anytime."
From the back of the room Norris heard a mumbled. "Look out Jamie, sounds like Josh has a new crush."
Josh turned around and glared at the speaker.
Norris ignored it and continued. "Thank you for that Josh, I appreciate your candor. Bucky is the finest soldier I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I have a crush on him and I am straight. Before I let Adam have his say, I want to share with you the highlights of what the others had to say about you." He looked around the room and saw some nervousness these kids were not used to getting this kind of feedback. "They followed instructions and gave unbelievable support. They are undisciplined, rash, and like to show off. They will make perfect Navy SEALs." Some of the room chuckled at that. "They are some of the most skilled warriors I have ever met. They do tend to make rash decisions and have an almost 'I am immortal' attitude. I would still be thrilled to have them on my flank anyday." Norris paused, "Here is something you might learn from, 'Their skill in combat is incomparable, however, their willingness to just rush into anything and count on brute force to get out of it can be dangerous'. As my teams learn to work with you, you must also learn to work with them. As I told the others, you will be working together again whether you like it or not, so get used to each other, count on each other's strengths and cover each other's weaknesses. Adam, the floor is yours."
Adam sighed and stood up. He took a moment to adjust the shirt he was wearing, then looked around, first at the UNIT troops, then to Norris, Shelton and McCray. "The place where we came from did not see much in the way of war for the last several decades. Sure, there were minor skirmishes, but nothing like what we've seen since we've been here. You might say that the place we came from was, to use one of Juan's favorite terms, 'all white light and fluffy bunnies'." Everyone laughed, including the Naval officers.
"It has been rough for us to adjust to an enemy that fights just as hard as we do. With you and your troops, we've found a group that can push us to be the best we can be, and I believe that we push them to be better than they were. As much as I would never have believed that normal humans could push us, that is exactly what is happening. I count that as a good thing."
"I hope you also understand that we are not used to working within a chain of command like you have set up here. It will take us some time to truly get used to it. I do not think it will be a problem, but I do ask for some latitude as we learn to work within your command structure."
Adam paused and looked at Logan who gave him a nod. "We found some very disturbing information at the secondary detention facility. If the information turns out to be accurate, then there will be things that we will deal with, as soon as we find out anything more."
Adam didn't flinch when he saw Norris and Shelton both stiffen at his words. "Could you explain a little more please?" Norris asked, and Adam knew he was holding back his anger.
"My mother is currently caring for three children who were at the Wilderness Lodge. These are kids that were taken from here, and moved there, when it was found out that they have certain genetic markers." Adam paused as he struggled to say what he needed to. Finally he just shook his head, and looked at Logan, who nodded and stood.
"Please forgive Adam, he has a lot of difficulty speaking about this without needing to find something to break. What Adam is trying to say is this. You have doctors here, that are working on creating kids like us."
Norris paused gripping the edge of the table until his knuckles turned white. He looked at Adam. "Understood, please continue when you're ready General."
Adam nodded, waiting for a few moments before he continued. "When we get some actionable intel on any of this, whether it be labs, or personnel working on the project, we will find them, and take them out. My hope is that we can stop it before they have any 'successes'. But please understand, we will be shutting this down as quickly and as hard as we are able to. However, with your support, I do not see that, or anything else you need us to do, as being a problem. The men and women that we have fought with already, are some of the best I have ever seen, and the UNIT would be honored to fight by their sides again."
Norris rose when Adam was finished. "Thank you, Adam. We have started a new partnership, a partnership founded on loyalty and honor and forged in blood. Together I believe we can overcome any obstacles our enemies throw in our way. Thank you all for your dedication, bravery, and commitment. That is all. Adam, can I speak with you and Logan for a moment before the command briefing?"
Adam took a step in front of the table. "Everyone get back to work. Those with medical training report to Mom and the military docs, help where you can until we get ready to roll out on the next mission. Dismissed."
The group quickly left the room leaving Adam, Logan, Shelton and McCray standing, facing Admiral Norris.
Norris walked around the table and sat in one of the chairs facing the front of the room. He sighed and rubbed his forehead and looked up at everyone standing in front of him waiting.
"For Christ's sake, sit down already." He waited until everyone found a seat. "This info about the genetic testing is terrifying, but it's not my first clue. Right before we started the mission a refugee handed the Vice President a disc with all the names of the 'undesirables' identified. The information could be up to two weeks old but it gives us a good base for identifying the enemy's targets. The disc had a special list 'Primary Genetic Markers Found' with a note saying this list was of interest to AOG." Norris missed the glances between Logan and Adam. "We have no Idea what AOG stands for or what it is. But if it's a person or organization that is interested in genetic manipulation we have to find it and stop it." He paused and looked Adam and Logan.
"Make it your mission to find this out. Use you best intelligence assets to find this AOG, find out what they are up to and how far along they are. Find their base or bases, find out who is helping them. Once we have the intel we will develop a plan to stop and annihilate them. Can you handle that?"
Logan cracked a smiled. "It's what my people do best."
"Good, Payne and his group will continue to look into it as well, they will share any intel with you. You're the lead on this, Logan. There is a secondary Detention Facility like this aboard prison ships in Newark, NJ. Find it and get some recon on it we need to shut it down ASAP."
Logan just nodded as Norris continued. "Bryan, use the combat assets of the UNIT kids… soldiers as best you can while you have them. They are going to be the primary shock teams for this new fight. Adam, you and your soldiers will get your chance to stop this, I promise."
Adam actually cracked a smile. "You wouldn't be able to stop us if you wanted to."
Norris chuckled, "Colonel Shelton, would you be so kind to show us to the briefing room so we can get out of your hair. Adam, Logan see to your teams and then meet us there."
Adam nodded, "Yes sir."
Norris and McCray followed Shelton past the organized chaos of establishing a combat command center and field hospital. Norris noticed Dr. Hayes looking over what appeared to be three children and detoured over to her.
"Dr. Hayes? Are these the three from the medical facility."
"Yes Admiral they are." Her voice had a tone of resignation and frustration in it.
Norris took her by the elbow and guided her a little ways away. "How are they?"
She sighed and then took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. "Not good, the process used was rudimentary at best. Their bodies are rejecting the manipulation and they are in immense pain.
Norris looked back, over his shoulder at the three small figures. "Is there anything you can do for them?"
Janet shook her head. "Yes, I could complete the transformation."
Norris shook his head. "Not an option, No one in this command or President Bryce's administration will authorize that."
"Then I can try to make them as comfortable as possible but anything short of a lethal dose of morphine will have a minimal impact on their pain."
Norris stared off for a second and then looked her right in the eyes. "Doctor Hayes, this is a combat hospital we only treat those we can save. Those that can't be saved are treated as humanely as possible but ultimately the United States Navy Medical Corp is authorized to euthanize all mortally injured patients. If you cannot make that call, Dr. McCray will. Please understand that this hurts me as much as it does you but we cannot force those children to endure that kind of pain and we cannot afford the time, materials and energy to treat them. Those are the realities of this world, Doctor."
The rage smoldering in Janet's eyes was clearly visible. "Admiral, I am well aware of the limitation of our resources, however I will not use resources as the excuse to terminate the lives of three children."
Norris paused and looked at her. "Then use your compassion as an excuse, Doctor. I don't give a damn how you rationalize the decision but you already know what has to be done. Keeping these kids alive any longer than necessary is plain torture and that will not happen under my command."
Norris paused and let out a deep breath. "Janet, this is the toughest thing most of us will ever have to do. Which is why our doctors go through serious psychological training in disconnecting themselves from their charges. We cannot let them suffer, every bone in our body wants to hold on and fight for them but this is not the way to do it. Let them rest. We owe them that. Pardon me if I seem unemotional but that is my burden to bear. Now I must get to this briefing and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know."
"I know you were only trying to help Aggy but this is weighing on me like you could never imagine."
Norris reached out and patted her on the shoulder. "Janet you cannot begin to imagine the amount of times I have ordered people to their deaths and those are my demons I must face every night. There is a really good shrink in Bermuda, you should look her up when you get back."
Janet stared at his back as Norris turned and walked off.
As Norris entered the former cafeteria, turned into briefing room, Myers started to call the room to attention but Norris waved for her to stop.
"Everyone find a seat please." Norris looked out over the mud and blood-stained, tired faces looking back at him. "Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, we just pulled off one of the most daring attacks in US history. For a plan that was hatched less than forty-eight hours ago it was a damn good success. Epcot Center, minus a few small pockets that are still being dealt with, is in our control. The Magic Kingdom is a smoldering ruin. Our drones show only a few small groups exfiltrating out to the north. Kennedy International Space Station and Patrick Air Force Base are under our control. The USS Eisenhower is completely disabled and reports indicate it may be sinking in the Straits of Florida. We have broken Ashwood's hold on Florida.
"Now the hard part begins. First, you have to rout out the enemy forces in and around Orlando International, then take the city itself. As we speak, a company of Leclerc Main Battle Tanks supported by the French Marines are forming up to begin moving westward sweeping all resistance in front of them. A US Heavy Armor Battalion and Infantry Battalion are enroute from Germany and expected in a few hours. The Infantry Battalion will fly directly here and relieve the 32nd Marines. The Armor Battalion will land at Kennedy and reinforce the French tanks and Marines. I know you're tired and worn out, I know some of you have lost friends and brothers but we cannot stop now, we must push on and keep pushing. Once we take Orlando International we can begin funneling loyal troops from our European bases back to here to help fight the war.
"But be warned: Ashwood's commanders are not stupid; they know having an enemy stronghold in Florida is the worst thing they could have planned for. They will hit you with everything they can gather. This next week is crucial for this war, President Bryce and his commanders must push with all their might on the western front and you must hold with everything you have."
He paused and looked around. "The USS Ronald Reagan and HMS Illustrious will make for the northeast, sailing as fast as they can. Once we land troops in Maine we will begin pushing south. With the main force pushing east and you pushing north and us pushing south we will be pressing the enemies' backs against the Atlantic Ocean with nowhere to run. They will get frantic and push back hard but we will keep driving them before us, hitting them with everything we have."
He took a deep breath. "Ladies and gentlemen, I fully intend to raise a glass with all of you toasting the end of this war, on the steps of the capitol building in DC by Christmas Eve."
The room erupted in cheers. Norris let everyone settle down. "Ok everyone get out there and take back our country. Dismissed."
"Colonel Shelton, Bucky, Major Sinclair, and Adam a moment please. Colonel Rodriguez, you too."
The small group gathered around the Admiral. "Bucky get your team together and get them back to the Reagan we are pulling out soon. Colonel Rodriguez pull your security team out of Hart Island. Admiral Surette is sending in a French Naval Security team to relieve them. Colonel Shelton you're on your own for a bit. Adam take your team and the Marine Force Recon Company to Orlando International. You guys wreak as much havoc as possible and the Force Recon Company will do a full scale assault from the west when the French armor and Marines hit from the east. Keep the airport intact as much as possible.
"Shelton, as soon as your second Infantry Battalion arrives relieve Major Sinclair and send him to Maine.
"Major, the transports bringing the Heavy Armor Unit in, will be refueled and will take you to Maine via England. Your men will need to rest as much as they can in transit. You will need to hit the ground running in Maine. Colonel Rodriguez and Major Scarp of the Royal Marines will take and hold Portland International. The 32nd Marines will be our primary attack force. We will create a battle line from the southeast corner of Maine to the northwest corner of New Hampshire. A Canadian Armor Brigade is being promised to us and will tie into your northwest flank. We will begin moving southwest until our line runs from a town called Westerly, Rhode Island to Alburg, Vermont. Rodriguez you will be recon for the entire force, running screens and scouting high value targets. Bucky, you're my ace in the hole, you go where I need you, when I need you."
Bucky smiled. "I wouldn't have it any other way Admiral."
"Shelton, do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner at all times"
Colonel Shelton smiled and saluted. "Fair winds and following seas Admiral."
Norris returned the salute. "Ok now let's break up this brassfest before someone tosses in a grenade and Lieutenant Perez has to lead the war. Come on Perez, let's get back to the choppers."