Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book II
Broad Stripes
and Bright Stars

by Ken Barber


Chapter 4

Published: 5 Nov 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

1245 EST 18 November 2012
Portland, Maine

Broad Stripes LogoNorris stood looking at the assembled officers. The governor and his staff had scrounged up some decent food and fresh coffee. Norris nodded as Myers handed him a cup. The governor was resourceful and that could be a big help.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, let's get started please." Just as everyone was settling down a commotion started outside the entrance. Sergeant Barnum hustled in and whispered to Myers, who then leaned over to General Lamont and whispered. The whole time, Norris just stared at them waiting. The general nodded and smiled, then started laughing.

"General, care to fill us in?"

"Admiral my apologies, it appears the Maine Game Wardens have decided to join the fight." Just as he said that, three Game Wardens entered the room being escorted by Sergeant Barnum. "Admiral, may I present to you Colonel Jeffery Clark, Commander Maine Game Warden Service."

Norris walked over and shook the Colonel's hand. "Colonel, Admiral Augustus Norris, US Navy. Glad to have you with us."

"Holy shit." Everyone's heads spun to look at Bucky. "The ATV charge, it makes sense now."

Colonel Clark smiled. "You guys were in a bind and we thought we would help out."

"Help out? You saved our asses out there! The enemy had no clue what the hell was going on. It was like out of an old western movie except for the ATV's."

Norris just looked at both of them. "I will want to hear about this later, but for now, let's move forward. Colonel, grab some coffee and take a seat please."

"Yes sir."

Norris walked back to the head of the table. On the table was a map of Maine."Ok, we have secured Portland, the airport and harbor. That pretty much stabilizes Maine from here northward to the Canadian border. We have the civilian experts working on restoring power and getting medical services up and running. What is the status of the enemy?"

Felix stood. "Our reconnaissance shows them fortifying in Biddeford, along the south bank of the Saco River. They have heavy artillery and armor emplacements on Factory and Spring Islands. We believe they have the bridges rigged to blow."

"Ok, we need to get them out and push them further south, options?"

Major Scarp of the Royal Marines pointed at the two islands. "A frontal assault on those two positions from across the river would be suicide. Could we do an amphibious landing here, at Hills Beach?"

Norris looked at the point on the map. "We have enough naval and air power to do an amphibious landing, but Colonel Rodriguez's people already did one amphibious assault they were never trained to do."

Felix nodded. "It was definitely different for us but we would be more effective if we could get our own equipment into the battle."

Colonel Clark stood up. "Sir, there might be another way. There are a series of dams along the Saco River. They are old but still work, if we blew them, then Spring Island and Factory Island would be under water in about forty minutes. At Top of Dam there is a crossing that the enemy has overlooked. Colonel Rodriguez could cross with all of his equipment there before we blow it. It would take about twenty minutes for him to move south and by the time he got there the enemy would be dealing with the flood waters."

Norris was staring at the map, "How would that affect an amphibious landing?"

"It would depend on how much of a water surge we are talking about. The LSTs and the hovercraft can handle anything under a two foot surge easily, they would struggle a bit with anything between two and five feet." Major Scarp was looking at the map closely.

Clark pointed at the dams. "It's a long haul for the water and would take about two hours total. We are not going to see a wall of water here, just a surge. Best estimate a ten foot surge at impact with the islands. The dams at Factory Island would hold a lot of it back, so at the mouth you would see maybe a one foot surge."

Scarp pointed at a spot on the map just a little ways up the river from the mouth. "What about here?"

Clark nodded. "Windmill Point. That's a straight shot from there to the mouth, so you're not looking at much more than the one foot surge. I think I know where you're going with this Major and Windmill Point is prime real estate. My teams can meet you there and guide you through the area to Biddeford."

Rodriguez leaned over. "If I deploy my squadron along these high voltage power lines and you deploy along Guinea Road, the enemy has no choice but to split and fight us on two fronts or fall back. If I were the commander, I would fall back all the way to Kennebunkport and cross the river, and reestablish a defensive line there. There is no way we can flank him there."

Scarp nodded his agreement. "And with General Lamont's troops deployed along the north shore of the Saco River, they have to fall back and when they do, we can hit their flanks and do some serious damage."

Norris looked around as he was sitting and listening to the plans. "What is the status of enemy troops along our right flank?"

Colonel Clark smiled. "Harassed, annoyed and also pulling back. Just so you know Admiral, we have not received any new Intel from Northern Vermont and New Hampshire since Friday night."

"I am afraid that would be my fault. Sorry I am late for the party." Everyone looked up to see a small group of officers walk in. The group was lead by a Canadian Colonel, but there were also two Americans, one major and one captain.

The Canadian Colonel walked right up to Admiral Norris and stuck out his hand. "The famous Admiral Norris, I presume? I am Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Major, commanding officer Lord Strathcona's Horse Armor Regiment and this is Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Huet commanding officer 12e Régiment blindé du Canada."

Admiral Norris stood up and shook both of the officers' hands. "It's a pleasure gentlemen, but I am a bit surprised. I was told you wouldn't be arriving until Monday or Tuesday and I thought your government was only sending one regiment."

Major nodded. "That was the case until Friday night when some pratt from Ashwood's military fired across the border killing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer. The Governor General ordered a full mobilization, assumed war powers, and authorized direct involvement in the conflict within the United States. Colonel Huet's troops crossed the border in the early hours of Saturday morning securing Alburg, Vermont."

Colonel Huet stepped up to the map. "Admiral, we were able to overrun the enemy very quickly as they were broken into small groups focused on population control. My regiment is stretched from Alburg south and east through Burlington and Montpelier ending at Bath, New Hampshire. This is Major Harry Rile of the Vermont National Guard and Captain Jonas Cline of the New Hampshire National Guard. With assistance from a battalion of the Royal Canadian Infantry Regiment and the remains of their units, we have northern New Hampshire secured from Bath to Conway." He pointed at each location on the map.

Norris just looked at the officers then the map and back to the officers again. "Well Merry Fucking Christmas. Outstanding."

Major chuckled. "Sir, my regiment is currently approaching Bethel, Maine and will be here in force in a few hours."

Norris looked at the map. "How quickly can your men be deployed along this route here?"

"No later than tomorrow sir."

"Good, tomorrow night we assault Saco. The only difference is we do not let the enemy slip away and get entrenched at Kennebunkport. We attack and drive them to Kennebunkport and beyond. Gentlemen, work up the plan and bring it to me. I want Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire secured by Thanksgiving. Colonel Clark and Bucky, get together and get out there and get us some real reconnaissance."

Norris headed to the door leaving the ground commanders to figure out the best tactics for the assault. As he was leaving, Major Scarp of the Royal Marines chuckled. "Colonels, welcome to the British Empire's invasion and retaking of the American Colonies."

Norris looked over his shoulder. "I heard that, Major." Everyone in the room laughed as Norris left the building and jogged to the helicopter waiting for him.

When the chopper touched down on the deck, Norris jumped out and went straight to the sickbay. When he arrived he was shocked to see Lieutenant Peters, Germs, Doctor McCray and Brett playing Axis and Allies. Peters spotted him and started to call everyone to attention but McCray held out his hand to stop him.

"Not in my house son. Admiral, good evening to you."

"Doctor McCray, I see you’re busy seeing to your patients’ health."

"Brett and I are too busy schooling these two."

Norris leaned over the table and laughed. "Germs, Peters how the hell did you let Japan capture the western US and Germany capture London? You two are screwed, but you should know the good doctor here cheats almost as bad as President Bryce." Everyone laughed. "How are you two doing?"

"I am doing well sir. Germs here has been great, he won't leave my side." Peters smiled at Germs who just nodded.

Brett chuckled. "It's like they are freaking married already, it's gross." Germs and Peters blushed.

Norris ignored him. "Unfortunately, duty calls and Germs is going to need to head back to his team tomorrow. Peters, if Doctor McCray approves it, would you be willing to attend dinner with the Governor of Maine and me tonight?"

Peters looked at Doctor McCray. "Aggy, you would have to have the dinner on this deck as he needs to be in a wheelchair."

"I will have Myers arrange it. Brett, how are you doing?"

"Fantastic I feel like I could run a marathon."

Norris just shook his head. "You're a bit of a smart ass, aren't you?"

Brett smiled at him. "One of my better qualities."

"We are getting the local hospitals up and running and I should be able to get you transferred as soon as they are prepared."

Brett's smile disappeared. "I can't stay here?"

Norris studied him for a second. "Brett, an Aircraft Carrier is no place for a teenager, especially in your condition."

Brett looked like he was about to cry. "I understand, sir. I would like to talk to you privately about some things I learned on the streets, before I leave."

Norris nodded. "Of course. As soon as we finish this next Op, you and I will sit down and talk. You gentlemen finish your game. Although Germs and Peters you should just surrender, even I couldn't figure a way out of that mess." He turned and walked out of the room.

As he approached his office, Myers was waiting for him. "Sir as you requested Governor Masson is on his way to have dinner with you. I took the liberty of inviting Commodore Chase and a few senior officers."

"Thank you, Myers, I am going to check in with CIC and will be right back." He walked right past his office, went into the CIC and saw Payne and Miller talking. "Gentlemen, what’s the status report?"

Miller looked up. "We are still running flight ops keeping the enemies heads down. They have a pretty tight air defense screen south of Saco. Bucky and the Maine Game Wardens started some recon patrols while you were en route and Commander Rosewood said he would be back late tonight with a full report."

"Ok, Miller, you're having dinner with me and the governor tonight, Dress uniform. If anything changes let me know."

The snow increased in intensity throughout the day. Miller eventually grounded all flights. Giving everyone a much needed break. By late evening the snow tapered to a flurry.

Norris took his time getting ready for dinner, relishing in the few moments he has alone. His mind went back to Brett wanting to stay on the carrier and how sad he looked when Norris told him he would eventually be moved ashore.

After he finished dressing, he looked in the mirror. The uniform perfect, hair perfect, medals arranged perfectly. His face looked old. Old and tired. This war was changing everyone and he wasn't sure it was for the better. But what choice did they have, accept a dictator? "Not on my watch." He startled himself and then laughed.

Commodore Chase, Captains Barnes, Hollway and Miller were waiting outside his office. They walked to dinner together quietly. Each dreading a meal with a group of politicians. Germs and Lieutenant Peters, in a wheelchair, were waiting outside the aft wardroom with Doctor McCray. Peters was in an Army Lieutenant's uniform.

Norris stopped and looked at him. "How the hell did you get a uniform so quickly?"

Germs laughed "Don't ask questions and we won't have to tell lies, Admiral."

Norris chuckled and then knelt down beside the new Lieutenant. "Peters, I am going to be blunt with you. I asked you to this dinner because I want to remind the civilian leaders in that room what Ashwood is doing to our country. I want them to see it with their own eyes."

Peters smiled. "You're using me politically, Admiral, I get it. And if that is all I have to offer to the war at this time then I am honored to do my part sir."

Norris patted him on the shoulder as he stood. "Spoken like a goddamn soldier."

When they entered the wardroom the governor, Senator Horne and a couple of civilians stood up. Norris walked up and shook hands with the Governor and hugged Sheila Horne. "Governor Masson, Senator Horne allow me to introduce Commodore John Chase, commanding officer of His Majesty's Royal Navy, Illustrious Battle Group. Captain Michael Barnes his Flag Captain."

Governor Masson shook their hands. "Commodore, Captain I can't thank you enough for the help you are providing. We are eternally grateful to His Majesty, the Royal Navy, and the People of the British Empire."

"We are glad we are able to assist the American People in this, their time of need."

Norris continued to introduce all the officers until he got to Peters. He paused, "This is Lieutenant Matthew Peters, US Army."

All the civilians in the room looked a little uncomfortable as they greeted Peters. Germs pushed the wheelchair to the table and exited quietly.

Governor Masson went around the table introducing his staff. The Commissioner of Public Safety, George Essex, Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Carol Brown, and the Commissioner of Transportation, David Burke were all in attendance.

Norris sat directly across the table from the governor with Peters at his right. As dinner was being served the conversation revolved around getting the hospitals up and running and the distribution of supplies and equipment. During a lull in the conversation towards the end of the main course, Governor Masson looked over at Peters.

"Lieutenant Peters, were you injured here in Maine or in Orlando?"

Peters looked up from his meal with a look of confusion on his face. "Neither sir, I was injured during the massacre in DC."

The silence hit the room like a ton of bricks, everyone turned and looked at the young lieutenant. Governor Masson broke the silence. "What massacre in DC?"

Peters stayed silent for a moment before responding. "Federal Agents gunned down everyone at the Veteran's Day Parade."

Senator Horne looked at Admiral Norris. "My God, Aggy is this true?"

"I am afraid so." He rose and picked up his tablet from the table behind them. "This is a video of the entire event." He paused and looked at Peters. "You may want to wait outside, son."

Peters shook his head. "Admiral, I think I need to see this."

Norris looked over at McCray who nodded and stood up and stepped into the corridor. Norris set the laptop up so everyone could see and just as he was about to hit play, Doctor McCray returned with Germs. Germs didn't say a word he just went and stood beside Peters.

Norris hit play, then stepped back. The moment the video started, Peters knew exactly what it was. His face paled, and he started to shake. He closed his eyes tight, trying to fight back the tears, but he didn't need to see the video, he lived it. Since then, every time he closed his eyes, he saw bits and pieces of that day.

He followed along with his mind, only needing the sound coming from the video to know exactly what was happening. He flexed his hand slightly as he once again felt the flag being thrust into it. The swell in his chest at knowing that HE was the one leading this group of veterans to the White House.

The tears started to fall in earnest as he heard the anthem being sung. He didn't open his eyes to watch the video, he didn't need to. He was living it again. Right before the gunshots were heard, he raised his hand and took Germs hand. He felt the man reach around and place his other hand on his shoulder, silently giving Peters the strength he needed.

Unashamedly he let the tears fall. He may have been the only one that didn't jerk when the gunfire started. He knew exactly when it would come. What the people watching the video could not see, was the struggle he had, even when he felt the bullets tear through him. He would NOT allow the flag to fall! Not while he could still hold it.

The room was silent for several moments, but finally Peters was able to force his eyes open. He didn't care about the tears falling from his eyes, nor the ones that fell when he looked around the room. Every person in the room was standing and looking at him. Every military member was saluting the hero they saw in front of them. They were all thinking the same thing: 'Could I have done even half as much as this cadet did?'

Peters started to struggle to his feet, quickly being helped by Germs. McCray was about to stop him, but paused when he saw the look on the young man's face. Instead, he helped him stand from the other side of Germs. When Peters was standing he went to attention, and returned the salute. He held it for a moment, before his legs gave way. Germs caught him, and gently lowered him back to his chair, then wordlessly pushed the young man towards the exit.

Just as they were getting to the door, Governor Masson stood. "Wait! Lieutenant Peters, I cannot imagine how you feel right now and I cannot imagine the torment you are going through... but I promise you I will do everything in my power to put this right."

Peters could do nothing more than nod as Germs and the doctor took him from the room.

Masson started pacing around the room like a caged tiger. "Admiral, I will rip that mother fucker's throat out with my bare hands!"

Norris sat down without saying a word and looked at everyone at the table. "Governor, I think we all feel the same way. We are doing everything in our power to stop this and everyone at this table needs to know what our enemy is capable of. They will stop at nothing to wreak havoc and destroy this country and the people in it."

Senator Horne sighed. "What is the point of this, what does he hope to accomplish?"

"Absolute power." Commodore Chase, who had been very quiet, whispered.

Everyone nodded in agreement. Governor Masson sat back down. "Admiral, whatever you need, I will make it happen. We will beat this monster and Maine will march to Washington with you. I don't know if it’s legal but the State of Maine Legislature will pass an act enabling me to create a state draft. There is precedent for it from the civil war."

Senator Horne nodded. "I don't have a vote in the Assembly but I have some influence. I will use it."

Norris nodded. "I can understand that desire but before we do any major recruiting or drafting we must first establish a training program. The winter weather is approaching and will slow down our advance. That is the best time to get new recruits trained. We are slowly being depleted with little chance of resupply or reinforcements. We will need to augment our strength with everyone that is willing. However I would prefer we go the route of recruiting rather than draft."

Everyone at the table nodded. Sheila Horne leaned forward and looked at everyone. "Governor, might I recommend you create a committee to help form a recruiting and training plan. I would be honored to serve on that committee."

Masson chuckled. "Sheila, you're not only going to serve on it. You're going to chair it. We need to act fast, get with General Lamont's training director. There are probably a lot of training plans in place already."

Norris let them talk and listened, only adding his input if it was needed. As they were finishing up, Lieutenant Perez walked in and whispered to the Admiral.

"Petty Officer Jackson needs to see you, he says it’s urgent."

Norris nodded. "Send him in."

Perez went to the door and motioned for Jackson to enter. Jackson went straight to the admiral and in a whisper. "Sir, I am very sorry but we just got a message from Bucky. He says you need to get to his position ASAP and bring the governor."

Norris turned and looked at Jackson. "Did he say what was going on?"

"No sir, that was the message."

Norris thought for a minute trying to imagine what would make Bucky that demanding but could not fathom. "Ok, tell Perez and Myers to get a bird on standby."

"Already done sir."

"Thank you Jackson; head back to your post.”

"Aye sir." Jackson quickly left wanting to be away from that much brass and politicians in one room.

Norris rose "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sorry to be abrupt but my Navy SEAL commander has just sent word he needs me ashore. I don't know what is happening, but Governor, he has also asked for you."

The governor looked surprised. "Is it an emergency?"

"I don't honestly know. But for the SEAL commander to seem so urgent, I don't want to risk it."

The Governor rose. "Senator Horne would you join me please."

"Of course Governor, with the admiral’s permission of course."

"By all means, Senator. There is a helicopter waiting for us. Commodore Chase, take command of the task force, Miller you have the strike group."

Miller and Chase both responded at the same time "Aye, sir." They rose and left without any further formalities. Norris led the governor and senator out towards the flight deck. Myers was waiting near the exit with a small stack of winter coats. She handed one to each of them.

"Temperatures are dropping and the snow is really beginning to fall."

Norris looked at her in her cold weather gear. "I presume you're coming with us Myers?"

"Yes sir, of course."

The group headed out to the waiting helicopter as they were getting near the chopper, Norris looked over and saw another chopper being boarded by a group from the Graves Registration detail and his heart sank.

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