Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book II
Broad Stripes
and Bright Stars

by Ken Barber


Chapter 6

Published: 3 Dec 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

Broad Stripes LogoThe vehicle came to a stop and Rodriguez dropped down out of the turret into the vehicle. "Change of orders Bucky, you and your team are being picked up by some choppers and are ordered to report to the Reagan."

Bucky grabbed his gear. "Great, thanks for the lift Colonel." He smiled at Felix and Felix winked at him.

Bucky opened the back hatch and jumped out. "Let's go SEAL Team 4, we have been ordered back to the Reagan." Just as he finished, a group of choppers came over the tree line and began to descend.

As soon as the choppers landed, Bucky and his team loaded up and headed back to the Reagan. The choppers took them south along the river and between the two cities of Saco and Biddeford. The two islands in the river had been almost completely submerged. Bucky could see that the enemy had not reacted quickly enough and some of their equipment was left abandoned as the water levels rapidly rose. The surge from blowing the dams had been a bigger success than they anticipated, it had overtaken the islands much faster than the initial estimates. Now the Maine National Guard Bridge Crews were working rapidly to shore up the one bridge that had survived the flood and install a ribbon bridge to replace the one destroyed by the rushing waters.

0712 EST 20 November 2012
USS Ronald Reagan
Portland, Maine

The choppers landed and the SEALs disembarked quickly. Bucky headed straight to CIC while the rest headed to their quarters to get cleaned up. Bucky walked into the CIC and the first person he noticed was Major Sinclair. "Dixon welcome to Maine. When did you get in?"

Major Sinclair smiled and shook Bucky's hand. "About thirty minutes ago. Just getting caught up here."

Admiral Norris stepped up to the two. "Gentlemen, I have stopped the advance and ordered the ground troops to dig in. I am being told we need to brace for a major winter storm."

Bucky's shoulders slumped. "Shit. How bad and when?"

"It will begin tonight and last until tomorrow night. We can expect 8 - 12 inches inland and 6 - 10 along the coast."

"Damn. What about the displaced people?"

"Governor Masson is working his ass off to get those north to Canada. Here is another story and where you come in. You and Captain King."

"Who the hell is Captain King?"

"I am, mate. Captain Braxton King, Commander J-Troop 4th Squadron, Australian Special Air Services."

The very good looking Australian stuck his hand out to Bucky. "And you are Commander Albert Buchinski?"

Bucky shook his hand. "I am Captain, it's a pleasure."

King smiled a very teasing smile. "The pleasure is all mine Commander."

Bucky was a little taken aback at how forward this smoking hot Aussie was. "Please call me Bucky."

"Great, call me Braxton. Looks like we have to help the engineers get some juice flowing."

Bucky looked at the admiral, confused. "Sir? When did the Australians get involved and what do you need us to do?"

"The King and Queen Regent requested the Australians send some help. The captain arrived with Major Sinclair. I need you both to send teams out with the power engineers to the substations. They need to do their magic so we can have power restored by the time the snow starts. They have a plan to restore power to all of northern Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The Canadians are ready to reconnect to our grid and help supply some power. In a couple hours two Israeli Navy Nuclear Powerships will arrive and connect to the grid as well."

Bucky nodded. "Do we have an evacuation center for people to come to if they don't have power or supplies?"

Norris nodded. "Working on that. The Cross Arena is probably our best bet but we have a team looking at every alternative. The governor and his people are handling that. The Reagan and Illustrious and all escorts will move out to sea this evening. I am transferring my command center to the airport for the duration of the storm. For now I need you to get your team ready. Captain King will brief you on the particulars while you're getting geared up. You are wheels up in one hour." He paused and looked Bucky up and down. "I know your guys are tired Bucky but you're all I have and if we don't get the power restored a lot of people are going to die."

Bucky smiled and shrugged his shoulders. "We are SEALs. There will be time to rest when we are dead. Captain King, if you will come with me you can brief my whole team at once."

King smiled and started to follow Bucky but Sinclair grabbed the Captain's arm and whispered in his ear. King smiled and looked back at the Major. "I may be a flirt but I do have honor."

After King and Bucky left, Norris looked around. "Sinclair, get your people on the ground and into position. Myers, I want an entire command staff meeting, including the senior ground troop commanders, in one hour."

Myers jumped up. "Aye sir."

Norris started to leave and then turned back. "Oh Sinclair, I am going to need some Marines as security at the command center. "

Sinclair nodded. "Already on it sir."

Norris headed back to his quarters to pack a bag for the overnight stay ashore. As he was headed there Doctor McCray found him and stopped him. "Aggy, I want to move Brett and Lieutenant Peters to the Command Center. I think I will be more helpful if we establish a field hospital at the airport."

Norris put his hand on McCray's arm and turned him to walk down the corridor "I don't see why not. They are going to be better off under your care than on the ship. Have you talked to the ship's doctor from Illustrious?"

"Yes and Sinclair and Major Scarp's Chief Medical officers. They all agree it would be better to pool our resources. Rodriguez' medical team is going to establish a forward aid station near Saco. They will treat all minor illnesses and injuries and evac all others to us. This will also put us closer to civilian medical assets so we can support them as well."

Norris nodded. "Sounds like you have a plan. Have a couple of the key medical personnel at the briefing in an hour. That includes a civilian rep."

McCray looked confused. "What briefing?"

Norris laughed. "The one in an hour."

"First I am hearing about it."

"It's the first I am telling you about it."

"Smart ass."

Norris laughed and turned the corner to his office and McCray continued on to the Sickbay. Norris entered his quarters to see his staff busily preparing to move ashore. Lieutenant Perez noticed the Admiral first and snapped to attention.

"Admiral on Deck!"

Everyone stopped what they were doing and also snapped to attention. Norris looked around the room. "Carry on, I am just here to pack some things and then head to a briefing."

Lieutenant Perez smiled. "You are all packed and ready Admiral."

Norris let out a sigh. "Thank you Perez, but in the future I can pack my own underwear."

Perez shoulders slumped a little, slightly dejected. "Yes Admiral of course."

Norris looked down at his desk and saw a file. "Shit, Perez these are the power supply requirements that the engineers gave me. Get them to Bucky or Captain King, the Australian commander ASAP."

Perez took the file. "I will handle it personally sir." He was out the door before Norris could even say anything.

Norris grabbed the phone on the desk "James, can you get me some breakfast before I head to the meeting?"

Norris listened. "That will be fine, thank you James."

Corpsman Taylor stepped up to the Admiral. "Sir, if this is an ok time, I need to take your blood pressure."

Norris looked at him. "And if I tell you it's a bad time are your going to rat me out to the evil doctor in the bowels of the ship?"

"If he asks sir I have no choice but to tell the truth to a senior officer."

Norris smiled. "Get on with it Taylor before James shows up with my food."

Taylor began the process of putting the blood pressure cuff on the Admiral's arm. "How's the shoulder feeling sir?"

Norris rotated the shoulder a little and winced. "Still sore but it's getting better."

"Keep exercising it and after the storm I would like you to see the ship's physical therapist for a bit."

"You're just as evil as the Doctor."

"I try sir. Sir, if I may ask? Is Seaman James coming ashore with us?"

Norris looked at Taylor for a minute and could see the hope that the Corpsman was trying very hard to conceal. Norris couldn't help but smile. "He won't be needed here and it might do him some good to actually work. Have Commander Myers transfer him temporarily to the Field Hospital Kitchen."

"Yes sir." Taylor couldn't help but smile slightly. He finished with the blood pressure cuff and put it away. "Sir you blood pressure is high normal. That's something we can work on with diet. I will talk to James and get him to cut back on the red meats."

"Like hell you will." Norris stood and went to the coffee station and poured a cup. He took a sip and turned around to see Taylor staring him. "If you are even thinking about telling me to cut back on the coffee, get the hell out now."

Taylor chuckled and walked out just as James was bringing in a tray of food. He set the food down on the Admiral's desk and looked like he wanted to ask something but didn't know how.

Norris looked up at him. "Relax James, your boyfriend already asked and you are going to be temporarily assigned to the Field Hospital Kitchen. Think you can handle the work?"

James was beaming. "Thank you sir and yes, I can handle the work."

He started to turn away and his face went completely white and turned back to the Admiral with a look of pure horror on his face. "Sssir...did you say my...boyfriend?"

Norris looked up and smiled at him. "James you two have been making goo-goo eyes at each other for days now. Everyone in this office is aware of it. And honestly I don't give a shit as long as your work stays up to par."

James released a huge breath. "My work is always first sir."

Norris looked down at the food in front of him. "And you're damn good at it James, now go get packed."

0830 EST 20 November 2012.
USS Ronald Reagan
Portland, Maine

Norris walked into the crowded briefing room. The room was overloaded and most of the junior officers were standing. Norris walked up to the podium and looked out to the group.

"Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. Most, if not all of you know we are about to face our first winter storm of the season. While this area of the country is used to these types of storms and could normally handle it without any issues, our current situation is going to make it harder. The lack of power, running water and heat is going to cause catastrophic losses. It is our job to minimize the loss of life to the civilian population. We know for a fact our enemy has no regard for the civilian population and will do nothing to assist them. We have to do everything in our power to keep the people safe. As we speak, trucks filled with bottled water and emergency rations are being driven out to every corner of the territory we control. The Navy SEAL Team and Australian SAS company are escorting engineers to power substations to reprogram them. I am being told power to most of the area we control will be reestablished by 6 pm tonight." He paused to let the applause and shouting die down. "The Canadian Government is reconnecting to our grid, two nuclear powerships supplied by the Turkish government secretly through the Israelis will be arriving in about three hours." Again the room erupted in applause.

"Our military forces on the ground have begun to set up defensive position to wait out the storm. If the enemy attempts to attack during the confusion of the storm they will meet with the most organized, trained, defended and prepared International Task Force the world has ever seen." He held up his hand to stop the applause.

“The medical teams of the Canadian Regiments and our Cav squadron will establish forward aid stations. The medical teams from the Fleet, 32nd Marines and Royal Marines will join forces and establish a field hospital at the Portland Airport. The civilian medical groups will be as staffed and supplied as we can possibly get them.

"Emergency evacuation centers have been set up by the Governor and Commander of the Maine National Guard. Planes loaded with supplies from every corner of the British Empire began arriving this morning; more supplies than we can distribute to the controlled area.

"It is my opinion we are as prepared as we can be and now we just react to the needs of the people throughout the storm. Are there any questions?"

Sheila Horne stood up. "Admiral, US Senator from Maine Sheila Horne, I have a question."

"Of course Senator."

"What about the people not in the controlled area. I know I represent the people of Maine but I can't help think about the rest of the people in the northeast. Most specifically the people in the major cities, Boston, Providence, Hartford, Stamford, and even New York City. People trapped in those areas are not going to survive this."

"Senator, I understand what you're saying and it has been weighing on my mind for hours. But there is no way for us to get supplies to those areas while they are under enemy control."

An Army major in the back of the room raised his hand and Norris nodded to him. "Sir, Major David Kearns, XO, 1st Squadron, 2nd ACR. I was just thinking what about an airlift? We did it in Berlin at the end of World War Two."

Norris stood there thinking for a second and then shook his head. "The weather will be too bad for the planes."

Another Major raised his hand. "Admiral, Major Dwight Smiley, Maine Air Guard. The weather will be an absolute no go for fighter craft, but C-130's and C-5's could fly through a hurricane if you really needed them to."

Norris nodded. "I hadn't thought about that. Major Smiley, put together a task force to come up with a plan; meet with me at the airport command center in two hours. Any other questions?"

The Maine Warden Commander stood. "Sir, if we are going to do an airlift is it possible to use the cover of the storm to airdrop supplies to militia groups that have started a resistance in Ashwood held territory?"

"Colonel Clark this is the first I am hearing about such groups. Can you explain please?"

"Yes sir. It appears that small groups of militia are popping up all over the northeast harassing the Ashwood troops wherever they can. This is Commander Robert Coleson New York State Forest Rangers. He has met with one group in particular operating in upstate New York disrupting supply lines and conducting hit and run raids around the Fort Drum, New York area. Based on his report, I think the reason we have not seen a concerted counter attack is, in a big way, because this group is keeping the enemy pinned down."

Norris walked to the front of the podium. "Do we know what kind of equipment they need, and can we get in touch with them to tell them where we are dropping it? If these people are keeping the enemy from being able to operate efficiently, I would airdrop a goddamn destroyer to them if I knew how.

Commander Coleson stood up. "Sir, it's a bunch of young men from a small town outside of Fort Drum. They are using hunting rifles and improvised explosives. I have an encrypted radio frequency I can reach them on and tell them where we are making the drop."

"Colonel Clark, Commander Coleson, get with Major Sinclair and build these boys a care package. Weapons, ammo, explosives and rations, with love from the USS Ronald Reagan. Hell, include some dirty mags for them; there are enough floating around this ship."

Everyone in the group chuckled. "Ok listen carefully everyone. This is not going to be easy. Everyone needs to work together and rely on each other. Keep lines of communication open. We will be monitoring shortwave and CB radios for calls for help. Front line commanders, you need to let your people know some civilians may try to cross your line in desperation. Detain them, search them and move them to the pre-established collection points. We will get them to the evacuation centers as quickly as possible. We are sending as much emergency rations out to the field troops as we can. If you run into any group of civilians that need food or water make sure you supply them. I would like to introduce Commander Ryan Patrick of the Psychological Operations team. Commander Patrick?"

"Thank you Admiral. You all have heard the phrase 'win their hearts and minds' before and that is what we are going to do. When you encounter civilians you need to treat them with the utmost respect and care. Remember a lot of these people have been spoon fed a lot of bullshit about us and President Bryce. They don't know who to trust or turn to. This is not their fault. We need to show them we are here to help them and we are the good guys. If they need medical attention have your corpsmen and medics see to them. The civilian evacuation collections points will be heated GP Medium Shelters. For those civilians in the room, that is a general purpose medium size tent that holds about twenty people. They are equipped with a potbelly woodstove.

"My team and the Reagan's public relations team will be spread out among the collection points. During any interaction with civilians it's imperative we do not, I say again we DO NOT speak negatively about former President Ashwood. We need to slowly deprogram these people from the massive amount of horseshit they have been exposed to. Bashing Ashwood in front of them may cause conflicts and hard feeling that will make it harder to overcome. If they ask who is supplying the food or equipment, the answer is the United States Navy. If they ask about who we are fighting for, the answer is 'right now we are only concerned for your well being', after the storm is over and everyone is safe then we can deal with the political struggle the country is faced with. Nothing more than that. This is extremely important."

Colonel Rodriguez stood up. "Commander, if the civilians insist they know whose Navy we serve what should we say?"

Commander Patrick smiled. "The United States Navy, Colonel. If they insist further and ask who you are supporting then answer, the People of the United States. Then tactfully extract yourself from the conversation. Listen I know the soldiers and Marines out there are not going to want to take shit from a bunch of civilians, especially if they supported Ashwood, but they need to remember that we are, in fact, here for the People, not a President."

Admiral Norris stepped up beside the Commander. "Well said Commander Patrick. If an altercation happens between our troops and any civilians, let Patrick know ASAP. His team and the PR team are trained to deal with it and will attempt to defuse the situation as quickly as possible. But I am counting on the officers and NCOs to prevent any altercations from starting.

"All of you have a lot of work to do so I will not keep you any longer. Colonel Rodriguez is forward command, General Lamont is rear command, Doctor McCray is medical command. If you need anything, send the request up the chain. Keep your troops and the civilians safe throughout the storm." Norris paused and looked at his notes.

"Shit, I almost forgot, Thursday morning President Bryce will be arriving. He will be touring the hospital and emergency evacuation centers. And then will be serving Thanksgiving dinner to the troops in the main mess center at the airport. Barring an enemy activity, all of you will send a delegation platoon to dinner."

There was a massive groan from the room. Norris smiled "The president wants to make sure the troops' morale is strong and wants them to see they have his support. He has arranged for turkeys to be flown in with some of the fixings. After he is done serving the troops the senior officers and personnel will have dinner with the president before he flies back out. I know this is a security and logistical nightmare but you will smile and get it done. Besides who isn't looking forward to some turkey with mash potatoes and gravy? Task Force Dismissed."

Norris watched as all the officers filed out of the room. Doctor McCray was chatting with a couple of the civilian doctors so Norris walked over. "Doctor McCray?"

"Ah Admiral Norris, this is Doctor Samuel Harkins, Chief of Medicine at Maine Health Center and this is Doctor Tiffany Varner, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Hospital. Doctor Varner is assuming the role of Chief of Emergency Medicine at both hospitals for the moment."

"Doctor Harkins, Doctor Varner it's a pleasure and may I say it refreshing to see you work so closely together."

They both shook his hand. Doctor Harkins smiled and nodded. "The pleasure is ours Admiral. Maine Health has a much larger emergency department but our former chief was not inclined to stay around when this all started. Doctor Varner is an amazing doctor and administrator, so it was only logical that we join forces. Maine Health will handle all the critical patients and we will transfer all the non-critical and long term care to Mercy."

Norris looked at Doctor Varner and smiled. "I am glad you decided to stay and help out." The woman standing before him in a very neat skirt with lab coat over the top almost took his breath away. He had not seen a more beautiful woman since his Linda had died. This woman was in her mid-fifties but was stunningly well groomed and physically fit. She had jet black hair with a couple wisps of gray, deep brown eyes that spoke of years of taking care of people. Her passion and concern was written all over her face. Her stance, her squared off shoulders, warned anyone near her that she was a no nonsense person and if you got in her way she would run you over without looking back. Norris realized he was staring and quickly averted his eyes.

"Admiral the pleasure is mine and I was hoping I could accompany you to the president's dinner Thursday night."

Norris just stood there in shock for a second. Did this woman just ask him if she could be his date. "Umm...of would be my honor."

Tiffany smiled slyly. "Well, that will give me something to look forward to during the chaos of the next couple of days. We should be going; it was a pleasure to meet you."

"You as well, Doctor Varner. And of course you too Doctor Harkins"

Norris watched them both walk away and only after they left the room did he regain his composure and turn to look at McCray, who was staring at him with raised eyebrows. "What the hell is that look for?"

McCray chuckled. "Oh nothing, I just think the Great and Mighty Admiral Norris may have just met his match."

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