Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book I

by Ken Barber


Chapter 10

Published: 15 Jan 15

Dawns Early Light

Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by Ken Barber and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

21:45 EST 10 November 2012.
Navy SEAL Team 4 LRRP.
Near the Southern Shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida.

Dawn's Early Light LogoThe Blackhawk barely came to a stop before ropes flew out the sides and six dark figures descended into the wooded area of the south shore of the lake. As soon as all six men hit the ground the chopper returned in the direction it originally came from.

All six men fanned out in a circle and secured the immediate area. Snoops pulled out his map and with a low light flashlight, verified they were in the right location. They all double checked their weapons and gear and on Snoops' order moved out for their 4 hour hike. Their target was the Walt Disney Art of Animation resort. They intended to watch the resort from a small hilltop, that looked over World Drive right into the southern end of the resort, collect as much data as they could about the prisoners, then return to the extraction zone. Just another day for these guys.

They moved through the dark wetlands like wraiths, not a single noise or glimmer of light. The forest was alive with the sounds of insects and animals. The moon was behind the winter clouds, plunging the area into almost complete darkness. There should have been some residual light from the nearby metropolis but without the power, even that was gone and lots of residents had evacuated to outlying areas, leaving most of the major cities almost deserted. The only people left behind were being rounded up as undesirables. The only news these people were getting was being spoon fed from the Ashwood administration.

The team continued their trek through the marshy wetlands avoiding inhabited areas all together. Towards the end of their hike, they crossed Interstate 4 and then Highway 530 and made for the hilltop on the far side of the highway where they would observe the resort. After quickly securing the hilltop, the team set up security and started their observation using thermal sights. At that time of night, the resort was pretty quiet. But, for the three hours they had to observe, they counted guards, emplacements, rotations, and patrol patterns. The biggest thing they took notice of was the guards were all focused inward not out, a typical prison concept, and this would benefit them greatly. They also noticed SAM emplacements on top of the buildings. Those would have to be dealt with quickly. At the pre-designated time, all six members of the recon team quietly repacked their gear and headed back down the hill to exfiltrate out. No one said a word they all knew the exact route they would use to get to the extraction zone. They hurried across the only other major road they had to cross before Interstate 4, just as the sun was beginning to rise.

The walk to Interstate 4 was quick and easy as the ground was pretty solid and flat. About a half mile from the interstate, they all took a knee at the same time when a rifle report was heard a few hundred meters to their right, followed by an odd pop noise near the interstate and the squeal of tires. By the time the tire squeals stopped, all six were lying flat on their stomachs, in a circle, looking down their rifle scopes. Ghost was right beside Snoops and whispered to him. ".308 bolt action." Through the thermals, Snoops watched four men armed with what looked like hunting rifles begin to move towards the interstate. He signaled the team and they followed at a distance. The four men all crept slowly forward until they were overlooking the interstate. Snoops could see two five-ton trucks with two Humvee escorts stopped on the interstate. There were a couple of soldiers standing around pointing at a flat tire. There was some shouting, but it was too distant for Snoops to understand. He looked at the four unknowns in the brush taking up firing positions. Snoops got the entire team in an over watch formation. Based on the fact that the 5-tons were loaded with kids, he had a feeling he knew where this was going.

Snoops watched as a Senior NCO or Officer started giving orders to the soldiers around the vehicles. Four soldiers were left behind with the five-ton and the rest jumped into the two Humvees and the other five-ton and pulled away. Everything was quiet for a few minutes as they heard the roar of the vehicles fade into the distance. Snoops extended the bipod on the Barrett .50 cal Sniper rifle and waited.

As if on cue, the four unknown gunmen simultaneously opened fire on the four remaining soldiers. Two fell immediately, one dove under the truck and was using the flat tire as cover and the fourth took off running towards the woods and was hit pretty quickly. The man under the truck took his time figuring out where the fire was coming from and began returning fire from his defensive position. He was forcing the four gunmen to take cover and try to maneuver to his flanks which would expose them to his fire.

Snoops carefully reached up and unscrewed the silencer off the big rifle. He lined up the sights on the figure firing from behind the tire took a breath and released it, at the natural pause between exhale and the next inhale he squeezed the trigger. The behemoth rifle cracked out and all the firing stopped. The four unknown gunmen immediately turned around and started looking for where the shot came from. One man stood up and put his hands in the air.

"Don't shoot, based on the fact that you just took that last soldier out, and I am making a big assumption here, you're on our side of this. We don't have time to piss around we have to get those kids out and to safety before the rest return."

Snoops stood up and slung the rifle and loosened his side arm. As he walked forward the rest of the team kept their rifles trained on the four men. Snoops walked right up to the guy. "What do you plan to do with these kids?"

"Get them the hell away from the jackbooted Gestapo and to safety, That's what. And you're obviously military. Whose side are you on?"

Snoops smiled and reached out his hand "Lieutenant Zachary Douglass, US Navy SEALS."

The man took the hand skeptically. "Glenn Davidson, Captain US Army Ranger's Retired."

"Captain, let's get the kids and get out of here. We can talk once we know they are safe." He signaled to his team and they all rose and about scared the shit out of the guys.

Davidson chuckled."Damn Navy SEALs, still sneaky bastards. Let's get down there." He turned abruptly and headed down the hill towards the truck. Snoops signaled for Ghost to join him and the rest of the team to over watch. The six men quickly got the tired, hungry and scared kids unloaded and hustling back up the hill to the security team. Once back up the hill, Glenn turned and looked at Snoops. "We have to go about a click south to our first safe house, feed them something, load them in vehicles and take them to our camp on Heart Island in the Lake Conlin swamp."

Snoops nodded and picked up a girl of about nine years old. She immediately held on tight. No one noticed the tear coming from Snoops' eye. The journey was slow and they had to keep stopping to let the kids rest. The SEALs water supply was getting low but the Captain and his rangers had brought extra water. Snoops knew he was not going to make the extraction on time. So he keyed up his radio and in a whisper barely audible to anyone in the group began to transmit.

"Big Bird, this is Tweety negative extraction. I say again, negative extraction."

"Tweety this is Big Bird understood, negative extraction. Standing by for secondary extraction zone."

"Big Bird, you're going to need to bring some friends. I will advise. Tweety out."

As they approached a rundown farm house, Glenn, the group's leader took a knee and sent two of his guys forward. Snoops watched through the thermals as the two men slowly approached the farmhouse and two teenagers rose from behind the wall and challenged them. A few seconds later, the two guys motioned the group forward and Glenn trotted out and hugged one of the teenagers as he passed by. They hurried into the house with the kids and the SEALs following. The inside of the house was well maintained. What would have been the living room and dining room had been converted into one giant dining area with a large table running the length of it. Two women in aprons hurried out of the kitchen and began getting the kids settled. Glenn looked over at Snoops and nodded.

"We are pretty secure here. We have about ten guys on perimeter patrol." He put his arm around the teenager he hugged. "This is my grandson Nick and that is his boyfriend Joe. They are how this all started, The Sheriff came to take the two of them away because they are openly gay. My brother is a deputy and warned us. This place was my parents' so we hid out here, while I started gathering some people we could trust. Now your turn why are the Navy SEALs in Florida and taking out Army troops?"

Snoops looked around and took a deep breath. "Contrary to what you may have heard, Ashwood did not win the election, Jack Bryce did."

Glenn just shook his head. "Mother Fucker. So what the fuck is going on, then, why hasn't Bryce stopped this shit yet?"

"Ashwood has declared the election null and void. We are in the middle of a Civil War and the military is split. The Navy SEAL Team we are part of is here trying to get more reconnaissance from Disney World. We work for President Bryce, and I can promise you when he finds out what is going on here, he is going to want to send more than a couple SEALs."

"We will be glad to have them." He paused as the ladies brought out mugs of coffee and handed them out to the guys. "This is my daughter Kelly, Nick's mom. She runs this facility; it's the transition point for when we rescue people on the way to Disney."

Snoops nodded and took a sip of coffee. "Thank you ma'am, this is damn good coffee."

"You're welcome, sir", and she hurried back to the kitchen to get food for the twenty-three kids sitting around looking terrified. Nick and Joe were with the kids explaining how they were going to a camp where they would get to feed alligators and learn how to survive in the swamps of Florida.

"Glenn, how many kids have you rescued so far?" Snoops asked.

"This is the third group. First time we did it with such a large escort. But they are starting to beef up security on the trucks carrying the kids."

"How many kids total, so far?" Snoops was already thinking.

"Including these we have seventy-three kids and six adults."

"That's quite a few. How many can you hold?"

"The camp is pretty big, it's a really old regional Boy Scout Camp. The problem is medical supplies, food and clothing."

"Glenn, here is the deal. We have established a refugee camp in Bermuda, if you want, I can take all seventy-three kids and as many of the adults that are willing to go back to Daytona with me and then transfer them to Bermuda. The refugee center in Bermuda is actually a couple of fully stocked, fully crewed Disney Cruise ships. The kids will be clothed and fed, plus the guy running everything is a pediatrician. He also has a child psychologist working with him to help the kids deal with the trauma."

Glenn smiled. "That sounds perfect. We can get these kids ready to move as soon as they are done eating and then you can make the arrangement to get them to Bermuda."

Snoops took another sip of coffee. "I am going to send some supplies over to you as well and a radio. You keep rescuing the kids and we will keep picking them up."

Glenn walked over to Snoops and grabbed him in a giant bear hug, tears were rolling down his face. "I want you to take Nick and Joe, they are not safe out here."

Nick heard him and started to protest, but his mom, who was laying platters of pancakes on the table grabbed his arm and stopped him to let Glenn finish. "If he or Joe ever get caught they will be beat to death."

Snoops just nodded and looked over at Nick and his boyfriend Joe who had walked over and put his arm around Nick's waist. "Nick, having a couple of teens that can help keep the kids organized is going to be a big help and your Grandfather is right. Where we are taking you, no one, and I mean no one, will mess with you because you're gay. If they do, they will have to deal with my boss and his boyfriend, both are pretty high ranking military and nobody will want to cross them."

Nick smiled weakly. "I understand and we..." He squeezed Joe a little tighter to him. "...We will do whatever we can to help."

Glenn wiped his eyes and looked around. "Billy, get the bus and two Jeeps ready to roll." He shouted out the door.

"Nick can drive one Jeep and Joe can drive the other. I will drive the bus. Instead of taking a bunch of my people, would your guys be willing to act as security."

"Not a problem. We will get geared up and ready to go now."

Kelly walked up with a tray carrying plates of steaming pancakes. "Not without eating you won't." She shoved a plate full of pancakes at Snoops and started walking around the SEALs handing them all plates. Snoops just smiled and dug in.

After everyone had eaten and washed it down with a second cup of coffee, they loaded the kids up on a bus from Lake Conlin Boy Scout Camp. Snoops put two men on the bus and two men in each Jeep, with him in the lead Jeep and Ghost in the rear. Nick, who was driving the lead Jeep, led them onto a trail that followed the power lines. They had to go slow because the bus wasn't really equipped for the rough roads but they plugged along for a few hours before turning onto a dirt road with a marker that read "Heart Island and Lake Conlin Boy Scout Camp." A few hundred meters up the road they were stopped by a gate and two armed men. Nick pulled up to the gate and jumped out.

"Hey Jerry, got twenty-three more kids and six wayward Navy SEALs."

The man, Jerry, eyed Snoops cautiously. Nick chuckled. "Jerry, they are supporting Bryce and trying to get rid of Ashwood, they are on our side."

Jerry nodded and opened the gate and let the vehicles pass. Snoops could see the swamp on either side of the trail until the island opened up in front of them. The Island itself was pretty flat with a tree line surrounding it. Snoops nodded this was a damn good defensive position. There was one main building and quite a few cabins surrounding it. off to the west was a softball field and tennis court. Glenn wasn't kidding; the place was huge. They got the kids off the bus and into the main building where they were met by a few adults making sandwiches for the kids to eat for lunch. Snoops looked around and grabbed Ghost.

"Can we land the V22's on the softball field?"

"It looks big enough, I will have Radar and Finger pace it out."

Snoops nodded and grabbed his radio. "Big Bird this is Tweety we are going to need Fantasia Flight to pick up at the following grid, 456987. We will mark with I/R."

"Tweety Stand by."

Snoops watched as kids began streaming out of a couple of cabins and into the main building. He would have to tell them all what was going on, soon.

"Tweety, this is Oscar the Grouch. SITREP."

Bucky's voice was very clear over the radio. "Oscar, we have close to one hundred that need a ride and home. We ran into some friends out here."

"Roger, extraction time, 16:35 local no delays. We have a short window to make this happen. Do you copy?"

"Roger, Oscar, We copy short window."

"Oscar the Grouch out."

Snoops set the radio down. That meant something big was happening. He watched Ghost taking notes as Radar and Finger paced out the ball field. All three jogged back over to him.

"Looks like we can get all four V22's on the field."

Snoops nodded. "Good, I am going inside to let these people know what's happening."

Ghost smiled. "Try really hard to not scare the kids too much."

Snoops laughed. "Find us a place to get some rest, extraction is at 16:35 tonight."

Snoops walked into the main building where Glenn was chatting to some of the adults. He looked up at Snoops and beckoned him over. After introducing him to the group, Snoops went through the explanation of the refugee camp and what was happening in the Country. After he was done, he stepped outside and realized how tired he really was. Ghost was standing on the stoop of one of the cabins and waved him over.

'It's clean inside and most of the guys are racked out already. We set up a one man watch, so I am up first. Go get some rack time."

Sometime later, Finger shook him awake. "Snoops wake up man, chow time."

Snoops sat up and looked around. All the guys were up and checking their gear. Ghost was lacing his boots up in the cot next to him. "We got the LZ cleared and marked with I/R Strobes. Only thing left to do is for the Birds to get here and take us back."

"Thanks, Ghost. Someone said chow?"

"Yeah they have spaghetti and sauce in the main cabin. I tried to tell them we brought rations but Glenn wouldn't hear it."

Snoops laughed. "I am sure."

The entire team grabbed their gear and headed to the main building. Once they got there, the noise that had been deafening quieted down as everyone watched them enter. They found an empty table and set their gear down. Keeping their rifles slung across their backs, they headed to get food. Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with a big piece of garlic bread. The girls serving the spaghetti heaped the food onto their plates. While they were eating, Glenn and the adults had all the kids go get their gear and bring it to the main building.

Snoops and team ate quickly and then headed out to the ballfield. After making sure the markers were accurate, Snoops deployed his team around the field. A little after 16:00 he went and got the kids and the adults leaving with them, and got them lined up in four lines behind the backstop. A few minutes later, he could hear the Ospreys coming across the swamp.

"Tweety, this is Fantasia Flight. Approaching from bearing 056.98."

"Fantasia, we are geared and ready for extraction. Four LZs marked with IR strobes going active now."

He signaled the team and they turned on the strobes.

"Tweety, we have visual; coming over the trees now."

The four Ospreys cleared the tree tops and slowed. They settled over the softball field and slowly descended. As soon as the ramps lowered, Bucky and a couple more guys ran off and established a semi-circle around the back of each plane. Bucky signaled to Snoops, who ran over to the kids and got them moving. The adults helped them along and everyone was loaded in no time. The big planes took off and headed straight for the Ronald Reagan.

Webmaster's Note: Dawn's Early Light continues with a special nine Chapter mini-series, And Justice For All, which celebrates the second anniversary of the Revolutions Universe. Click on the link to read Chapter One.

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