Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book II
Broad Stripes
and Bright Stars

by Ken Barber


Chapter 2

Published: 22 Oct 15

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

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

All Rights Reserved

0130 EST 17 November 2012
USS Ronald Reagan
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean

Broad Stripes LogoNorris looked up from the file he was reading when he heard the knock on the door. "Come in and this better be good."

Commander Rosewood stepped through the door with Lieutenant Myers right behind him. "Admiral, my apologies for disturbing you so late."

"Like I sleep, come in Rosewood and tell me what you have that requires you to come knocking at 0130."

"Thank you, sir." Rosewood sat down and put the file he was holding on his lap. "I just got a message from my nephew."

"This should be interesting. It always is when your nephew is involved."

"You have no idea sir."

"So what did Tyler have to say?" Norris stood and came from around the desk and took the other chair beside Rosewood.

"Sir, you do know that Bath Iron Works was purchased by Hydradyn Industries about ten years ago."

"I wasn't, but that is a good thing. Can we count on your family to help with repairs and updates?"

"That's not even a question sir. There is something else. The Bryce Class Battle Cruiser."

"That was a project started by Bryce and canned by Ashwood. Nothing ever came of it."

"Actually sir, the first of its Class is built. It just needs the electronics package fully installed."

Norris just stared at him for a bit. "How?"

"Hydradyn completed the ship with corporate funds. All the supplies and equipment were there and ready, we just had to put her together. The electronics package is the last thing to be installed and she will be ready." He handed the file to Norris.

Norris opened it and read it out loud. "Bryce Class Battle Cruiser, Displacement: 48,000 tons. Length: 775 feet. Beam: 98.2 feet. Draft: 27.5 feet. Speed: 77 Knots. Crew: 450 Officers and Crew. Propulsion: Three A1B nuclear reactors, two aft, one forward." He paused and looked up at Rosewood. "Three reactors? Holy Shit the original plans only had two."

"Yes sir, it's been modified a bit."

"A bit? That's the fucking understatement of the year Rosewood. Sensors and processing systems: Hydracom TDS-3D air and surface search radar, Intelacorp T4 Fully automated combat management system, AN/SQS-53C Sonar Array, Intelacorp Alpha 1 Targeting System, Electronic Warfare and Decoys: AN/SLQ-32 Communications Disruption System, AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Decoy System, eight × Mark 36 SRBOC Super Rapid Bloom Rocket Launchers. Nothing but the best electronics. You guys spared no expense on this."

"None sir, my family believes if you're going to make something, make it the best."

"Holy shit! Look at the armament, one 44lb GPS Guided HVEL Railgun, fifteen 11-inch rocket propelled guns in five turrets, three aft, two forward, twenty 76MM Melera OTO GUNS, five vertical launch Tomahawk Tubes, sixteen RGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship missiles, six 20-mm/76 cal. Phalanx CIWS, four Side Mounted Rolling airframe Anti-Aircraft Missile System. Two Mark 48 triple torpedo tubes firing six Mk-54 torpedoes. It's a goddamn floating fortress."

Rosewood smiled. "Yes sir, she will be the new Queen of the Seas."

Norris nodded and kept reading "Aircraft Carried: Two MHS-60 Seahawks, one MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Composite reinforced alloy hull, lightweight, increasing speed and reducing radar signature. Adding the Bryce Class Battle Cruiser to any strike group adds an impressive array of weapons and some of the most advanced air defense in action. The sophisticated fully automated weapons system massively reduces the crew size. The state of the art targeting system gives the main guns dead on accuracy."

Norris closed the file and looked at Rosewood. "How soon can she be ready?"

"End of November, beginning of December, sir."

Norris nodded. "Ok, Rosewood, you get in touch with your nephew and tell him to get it done by Thanksgiving. You do that and she is yours."

"Mine, sir?"

"To command, Rosewood. We will need to find you a crew but I am sure once I speak to Bryce in a couple hours and tell him about this, he will have a crew in Maine in no time if he has to fly them himself."

"Sir, my god, I don't know what to say."

"Say thank you and get Tyler's people on it ASAP."

"Aye sir, right away sir."

"You're dismissed, Rosewood."

1830 EST 17 November 2012
USS Ronald Reagan
Off the Coast of Massachusetts

Admiral Norris walked in the CIC with his entourage following him. "What's our status?"

Miller stood up and walked over to him. "Boston Harbor has two Arleigh Burkes and three Ticonderoga's sitting in a classic V defense formation. They are not maneuvering, so purely in a defensive status. We have a drone coming into view in a few seconds."

"Bring it up on the screen, please."

The picture came into focus and showed an aerial view of the entrance to the Harbor. The five ships quickly came into view.

Norris nodded. "Standard defense formation. They know they can't take us on. Look for shore fortifications."

The drone started to maneuver when Norris called out. "Stop. What the fuck was that? Go back to the south and slightly west." Everyone stared at the screen completely puzzled. "That is the USS Constitution. What the hell is she doing?"

Miller pointed at the screen. "Her Ensign is upside down. She is under duress."

"Mother Fucker, she is trying to make a break for it. SOUND GENERAL QUARTERS."

The klaxon went off immediately. "General Quarters, All hands man your Battle Stations. Set Condition 1A General Quarters."

"Miller get the Cat-5 in the air. Collins, tell the Iron Duke and Jason Dunham to maneuver in to cover her if she breaks free."

"Aye Sir."

"Ramage, Vicksburg and Gettysburg stand by to engage the surface ships. Keep that drone on the ship and give me a wider picture."

The drone increased its camera angle and gained elevation at the same time giving them a view of the entire harbor. Norris stared, willing the ancient vessel to move faster, almost wanting to blow on her sails. The USS Constitution is the oldest active duty warship in the world and was the pride and joy of the Navy. Norris watched nervously, hoping the reverence every sailor had for the Queen of the Navy would come into play and no one would dare fire on her. Then his heart stopped as he saw the 5-inch gun on one of the Ticonderoga's fire. The round flew past the Constitution and landed in the water to the far side of her. The ship had fired a shot across her bow warning her to stop. Norris watched as the crew of the Constitution ignored the warning and continued to sail toward open water and Norris's fleet. The cruiser fired again, this time it wasn't a warning shot. Norris watched in absolute horror as the round struck the side of the 215 year old wooden ship, blasting through it and coming out the other side, ripping the mizzen mast off the center of the ship and taking most of the rigging down with it. The ship immediately began to break apart at the center. The entire CIC was silent as they watched the ancient symbol of the US Naval power and a national treasure slowly slip into the shallow waters of the Harbor. They continued to stare mortified until the ship settled on the harbor floor its forward and aft masts still protruding from the water and the flag still flying.

Norris spun around "Mother Fuckers. Blast everyone of those ships out of the fucking water. Hit them with everything, and keep hitting them until they are a pile of rubble. Tell New Jersey that fucking cruiser that fired the round is hers first, hit it with a full salvo. I don't want to see an ounce of metal left."

The ships in the battle group began firing missiles almost before Norris finished giving the order. The defense fleet didn't stand a chance. They knocked down as many missiles as they could, but each ship took multiple hits. The explosions in the harbor could be heard like thunder on the horizon. Norris watched the picture from the drone as the smoke started to clear. Only one ship remained, the ship that had just single handedly destroyed the USS Constitution."

"Tell New Jersey to fire when ready."

The guns from the New Jersey barked out their report. Everyone held their breath as the rounds traveled through the air. The first round impacted on the bow of the ship nearly tossing it out of the water. The second round impacted on the stern and the third round impacted dead center. The secondary explosions obscured the view and when it returned, all that was left was a smoking and burning circle of debris in the water.

Norris looked around. "The United States of America and the United States Navy has just lost one of its most prized possessions. I will not stop until Ashwood and everyone that supports him is behind bars... or in a grave." He turned and walked out before anyone could say anything.

He sat down at his desk and just stared at the model of the USS Constitution on the side table. He still could remember the day his father took him to see the Constitution. The ship's commander gave them a personal tour and explained the workings of the ship and how important she was to the country. Years later, he had done the same with his son, the summer before he was killed. Norris looked down at the file containing the specs for the Bryce Class Battle Cruiser and smiled. "There will always be a USS Constitution."

2316 EST 17 November 2012
USS Ronald Reagan
Off the Coast of Maine

Norris was standing in the CIC with Bucky and Rodriguez. "Status Report by department."

"Air Wing ready to begin air superiority and air to ground support."

"Fleet in position and ready to provide naval gunfire support."

"Royal Marines report ready to begin air assault operations."

Bucky looked at the Admiral. "SEALs ready to reinforce friendly ground troops."

Rodriguez nodded. "1 Squadron 2nd Cav ready to hit them hard."

"Still can't raise the Maine National Guard?"

"Negative, sir. We are even sending Morse code but they are either not listening or not acknowledging."

"Let's launch Operation Northern Lights to jump off position and hold. Collins, you have to break through to them and let them know we are coming."

"Yes sir, I will keep trying."

Miller looked over at him. "Sir, drones are coming on station now. We have thermals on."

"Let's see what we are dealing with." The screen showed the thermal image on the outskirts of Portland, Maine. The defenders had constructed hasty defenses and were trying to hold off an overwhelming force. "Shit, they are about to be overrun. Have New Jersey fire on those units. CAG, get our planes over there and assist. We can't wait. Go NOW. Bucky get your team in the air."

"New Jersey firing, sir."

"I hope to hell they put their head down."

"Sir, I broke through on their radios."

Norris grabbed the mic. "Incoming Friendly Naval Gun fire, DANGER CLOSE."

The Commander of the Maine National Guard, Brigadier General Duncan Lamont looked out on the battlefield with his binoculars one more time. The enemy heavy armor was hitting the right flank hard and was about to overrun what few troops he had left. He had already committed his reserves and had no way to hold back the onslaught any longer. He had established a defensive position south of Portland parallel to Interstate 295 and hooking around the airport. The left flank had already fallen back across the bay and had blown the bridges after them. The only bridge still standing was to the north and it was the last way out. His right flank was slowly caving in and it was just a matter of minutes before it collapsed and their escape was cut off. He turned to Governor Adam Masson. "Sir, we have to fall back, we cannot hold them and you have to get out of here."

"Duncan, we are not leaving here until Portland is fully evacuated, we have been over this a million times. We have to buy them all the time we can."

"Sir, with all due respect, we are out of time I cannot hold any longer. It isn't an option." To accent his point an artillery shell landed just outside of the command center, knocking almost everyone off their feet. "That's it." Lamont looked at the two Maine state police officers with the governor. "Get him out of here now whether he likes it or not. I will buy you all the time I can."

The two officers physically grabbed the governor by the arms and, knowing he wasn't going to win this time, he begrudgingly went along. General Lamont looked back out across Interstate 295 and his heart sank. A company of tanks were charging right towards him and the only thing in their way was a company of combat engineers. He looked over at the governor. "GO NOW." Just as they were getting ready to dart out of the command center to a waiting Humvee the radio blared to life. "Incoming Friendly Naval Gun fire, DANGER CLOSE."

General Lamont launched himself into the governor and took him and his bodyguards down to the ground, just as the entire world in front of them exploded. The deafening sound left a ringing in their ears. They began to rise up, just in time to see an entire squadron of F-18s scream in from the east and hit the enemy positions with missiles and guns. Lamont pushed the governor back down as the explosions once again rocked the command center. General Lamont could barely hear the radio over the ringing in his ears. "Maine National Guard this is USS Ronald Reagan, over."

He scrambled to the radio and grabbed it. "Ronald Reagan this is Maine National Guard Actual, over."

"Damn glad we were able to reach you. Our drones show the enemy is pulling back from your position."

"Ronald Reagan you made it in the nick of time and damn you gave us a close shave."

"Be advised. Four choppers and two Ospreys coming in from the north. My Navy SEAL team is coming to reinforce you. Is the airport and port secure?"

"Roger, we still control the airport and port, barely."

"I will begin deployment of ground troops immediately. Have all your air assets pull back and let mine relieve them so we don't have any accidents."

"Understood, I don't have much left in the way of air assets." He turned and looked around at his staff. "Get our air assets pulled back and let the guys on the ground know help is coming. MOVE NOW!"

Bucky watched out the door as the chopper came in for a landing. He was the first out and stopped and looked around. Godfather was right behind him. "Get the snipers deployed first and heavy weapons on the front line. Fill their gaps wherever you can. Get ready for them to come again. They know reinforcements are coming, they are going to hit us with everything they have." Godfather turned and started ordering the team to take up positions as Bucky jogged off to the command center.

Bucky walked into the command center. "Where is General Lamont?"

A middle-aged, well built man raised his hand but didn't look up from the radio console he was leaning over.

Bucky started to walk over to him when a man in his mid-sixties, and would have looked rather well kept if he wasn't on a battlefield, stepped in front of him.

"I am Governor Adam Masson."

Bucky stopped and looked at him. "Nice to meet you, Governor." Then stepped around him and continued to the general.

"General, Commander Albert Buchinski Navy SEAL Team 4 commander. I have begun deploying my men to augment your front line."

The general looked up. "I want to hug you right now."

Bucky smiled. "I have that effect on people."

The governor stepped beside the general. "Commander, how many men did you bring with you?"

Bucky looked at him confused. "Sir, I have a fifty man team."

"Fifty that's it. What the hell good is fifty men going to do?"

Bucky looked at the general and ignored the governor. "General, my men have brought some heavy weapons and snipers with them, I am deploying them first and they should be in position soon. What are your priorities?"

Once again the governor spoke up first. "The priority is to secure the evacuation lines so we can get Portland emptied before Ashwood's goons overrun us. I need you to get your men to secure the intersection of Interstate 95 and 295."

Bucky just stared at him. "Sir, my apologies and no disrespect intended, but what is your role here?"

Governor Masson looked bewildered. "I am in charge here."

Bucky nodded. "Not anymore, Sir. The entire Maine National Guard has been federalized and is now under the Command of Admiral Norris, Commander in Chief Atlantic. You sir, should see to your people and get them back to their homes."

Governor Masson's nose flared and he turned beat red. "Who the hell do you think you are, Soldier?"

Bucky looked him straight in the eye. "It's SEAL sir, not soldier, and I am the guy that is here to save your ass, so I suggest you let the professionals do their jobs."

The governor, not used to anyone pushing him aside, squared off his shoulders. "Commander, I am the rightfully elected governor of Maine and no one is going to come into my state and tell me how to run things…."

General Lamont stepped in front of Masson putting himself between him and Bucky. "Adam enough. You have done a hell of a job, but the cavalry is here and they intend to knock Ashwood on his ass. Either help us or get out of the way."

Masson still looked pissed. "Very well Lamont, but know this, you're out of a job when this is over."

General Lamont looked at him and laughed. "Governor, if I survive this, I will gladly hand you my resignation." He turned and looked at Bucky. "Commander, what do you need from us now?"

Bucky smiled at the general. "General, I need to secure a drop zone for about 1800 British Royal Marines and then we need to bring in a squadron from the 2nd ACR."

The general smiled. "Royal Marines, damn, you guys brought some friends."

"Yes sir, and we don't plan to evacuate Maine. We plan to retake and secure it. In a couple days, the entire 32nd Marine Expeditionary Unit will reinforce us and we mean to push the enemy all the way out of New England and into New York. The advance elements of a Canadian Armor Regiment are heading south now at full speed. The bulk of the brigade will anchor our right flank and the rest will move to reinforce us at key locations."

The general patted Bucky on the back and pointed at a map. "Best place to land your Royal Marines is here in this mall parking lot."

Bucky looked at the map and nodded then keyed his radio. "Romeo Romeo, this is Juliette. Deploy redcoats at 312865. I will have a ground crew on standby."

"Juliette, Roger spooling up the redcoats. Be advised light infantry unit to your front, maneuvering slowly."

"Roger Juliette, out. Godfather, light infantry trying to take a peek at us. Have the snipers make them put their heads down."

"Roger Juliette, snipers are in position and weapons free…….INCOMING!"

Bucky and the general dove to the floor as artillery rounds impacted all around the command center. Bucky looked up and grabbed the governor and threw him to floor just as a state cop flew on top of the governor to protect him. The barrage continued for what seemed like forever.

"Romeo, this is Juliette. We are getting pummeled here. Can we get some counter battery?"

"Stand by, Juliette we are getting the targeting data now. Missiles away."

A few seconds later Bucky heard the explosions in the distance and the artillery barrage stopped.

He grabbed his radio Mic. "Godfather, sitrep over."

There was nothing, "Godfather, SITREP over."

Still nothing. "Godfather, what the fuck is going on out there?"

"This is Snoops, Godfather is down."

Bucky's stomach almost lurched. "How bad Snoops?"

"He's gone, Bucky."

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