Castle Roland

Dawns Early Light
Book I

by Ken Barber


Chapter 12

Published: 19 Feb 15

Dawns Early Light

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

All Rights Reserved

03:35 EST 12 November 2012.
USS Ronald Reagan.
International Task Force Neptune.
Southwest of Bermuda.

Dawn's Early Light LogoThe CIC quietly watched Commander Myers pin the new rank on Admiral Norris. She finished just as Bucky walked in right behind Adam. Bucky watched with curiosity as the Marine guard let Adam, a very young boy enter the CIC.

Norris looked at them both nodded to Bucky and addressed Adam. "General Casey thank you for joining me, sir. If you will excuse me for one moment, I have something I think you will find interesting."

Adam nodded and stood there looking around. Having never been in an aircraft carrier command center, he was actually surprised at the level of technology in use and the efficiency of the layout. The room was rectangular in shape with banks of workstations running down both sides, the center section was dominated by a huge command station with a gigantic electronic tracking board. No space was wasted and all the seats were full with everyone busy.

Norris turned around and walked over to Miller. "Josh, can you get the two battle wagon captains picked up and brought over. I want to hear how they decided to get involved. Also request a face to face with Commodore Chase and Countre Admiral Surette, when the whole task force gets into Bermuda." He started to turn away and stopped. "Actually belay that order. Lieutenant Commander Myers, I am reassigning you as my Flag Aide, I need you to take care of it. And you might want to tell Captain Hollway he is going to need a new XO."

Myers smiled, knowing that as of this moment her career was tied to Vice Admiral Norris. "My pleasure sir, and thank you for the honor sir."

Norris turned to Bucky and Adam. "General Casey, my apologies for the delay, things are a little hectic as we try to figure out what the hell we are doing."

Adam smiled a little. "I completely understand Admiral and congratulations on the promotion."

Norris chuckled a little. "Thank you General, I think. Shall we go to my office?"

Adam nodded and followed Norris and Bucky to the office. Once inside Norris motioned for them both to take a seat.

"Bucky this is General Adam Casey, Commanding Officer of the Universal Next Generation Infiltration Team. I know you're confused but this is one of those times you're going to have to trust me. General Casey will brief you on the history and capabilities of the U.N.I.T. when we are done."

Bucky nodded. "Very well Admiral."

Norris continued. "General Casey, as we were in transit across the Atlantic we had some satellite reconnaissance of Florida, this was before the unexplained disruption of satellites, which by the way we are slowly overcoming. My communication technicians are learning how to bounce comms all over to any of the satellites that are left. The satellite images exposed something very shocking. If you don't mind I can show you. It will be easier than trying to explain." He handed Adam a tablet, sat and waited for him to finish watching.

Norris and Bucky watched with interest as Adam's face remained stoic. When he was finished he handed the tablet back, looked at Norris and Bucky and waited. The silence was awkward as all three just sat there staring at each other.

Adam nodded. "I am waiting for you to tell me when we are going to Disney World, sir."

Norris and Bucky both laughed. "Actually, General, we start infiltrating the area Thursday morning. President Bryce has given us the green light on the operation. We are going to start planning with senior officers in a couple of hours. I am trying to find out if we can get more intel on the layout of the base." He held up a hand and picked up the phone. "Myers as soon as Rosewood has the Fort Worth clear of Daytona I want to see him. Thank you."

"The Fort Worth is outfitted with the latest in communication and intelligence gathering assets, including drones. We may be able to get us some better intel."

Bucky stood and walked to the porthole and looked out. "Sir, no disrespect but the Marines and Cav troops got the shit beat out of them and need some rest. The SEALs are good to go but we are going to get worn out too. I understand this is a war but at this pace the entire task force will drop dead with exhaustion by next weekend."

Adam sat and watched the exchange. "Bucky, trust me I know, I am hoping we can pull off a raid style attack and get the hell out. I plan to use the drones and unmanned choppers to cover for the lack of satellites and we will use Tomahawks to take out major troop positions and Command and Control elements."

"Like I said the SEALs are in, this needs to be done, I am concerned about the Marines and CAV though, you really need to check with Sinclair and Rodriguez."

“I am thinking with the SEALs and U.N.I.T. troops we won't really need many of the Marines. I don't want to use the CAV guys at all. We are going to need them rested and ready when we hit Maine."

Bucky spun around "Maine?"

"President Bryce's orders, Maine is in full rebellion against Ashwood but barely holding on. We have to be in place by Saturday evening, otherwise they will collapse."

"Well, fuck sir, it's cold in Maine." Bucky was laughing.

Adam damn near choked when he laughed. Norris just shook his head. "Bucky, sit your pansy ass down, the issue right now is Orlando, we can deal with Maine later."

Bucky laughed. "Yes, sir, Admiral, sir."

"General Casey, if you're willing to help in this mission, I would like your input on the planning."

Adam nodded. "Yes, sir of course."

Norris sat for a second. "Bucky, can you excuse the General and I for a moment please."

"Of course, sir."

Norris waited for Bucky to leave. "General, may I be frank."

Adam was confused. "Of course Admiral."

"You have to stop addressing me as sir." Adam looked at him very confused, so Norris continued. "Adam, may I call you Adam?"

"Of course Si.....uh Admiral."

"Adam, please when it's just you and I, it's just Adam and Aggy. When anyone else is around I address you as General or sir and you address me in any way you see fit. The correct protocol would be for you to address me as Admiral or Norris." Norris paused. "The rank structure and Chain of Command is extremely important in the US military. We don't lead by virtue of strength or physical prowess or even intelligence, trust me, I have met some pretty dumb Admirals." Adam laughed a little. "We lead by virtue of Law. The rank structure and its regulations are stronger in the military than the ten commandments."

Adam sat for a minute thinking. "It's very different for us in the U.N.I.T., technically if someone challenged me in combat and beat me, they would take command of the U.N.I.T.."

Norris just stared at him for a second. "You kids never cease to amaze me. Adam, when you're dealing with us in the military you have to project authority, not demand it. The rank gives you authority but respect is built. Every time you address me as sir you are deflating your rank, while I am desperately trying to hold it up."

Adam nodded. "I understand Aggy, thank you."

"Adam, you guys are going to experience a lot of doubt from the military around you. Many of the people serving currently are battle hardened veterans, that have seen shit that would make you want to puke. All they see when they look at you, is a kid playing soldier." Norris held up his hand as Adam tried to cut him off. "I am not one of them, so don't get defensive. President Bryce is way beyond battle hardened and he vouches for you, so that goes a long way in my book. The rest are going to need some proof, what you guys did in Camp David and Detrick should be proof enough, but there are many here that won't believe it without seeing it for themselves."

Adam sat up a little straighter. "We have been getting that a lot lately."

"It even goes against my nature to use you guys in combat. We are suppose to protect children, keep them out of harm's way, while nurturing and teaching in the hopes that someday there will be no walls to stand guard on."

"Aggy, children are not as defenseless as some would think."

"Oh, you're right there. But I didn't say shelter them, I said keep them out of harm's way. Sheltering kids from reality is just as bad as ignoring them."

"Aggy, thanks, your military is very different than we are and typically a show of force is what we use to prove ourselves."

"I don't think that is needed but we could set up some interforce competitions. Might be good for Morale."

Adam laughed. "I don't think you want to embarrass your people like that."

Norris raised an eyebrow. "Well you sure as hell have the cockiness of a soldier, I like it and will take that as a challenge. I will have Myers plan some sort of challenge that will also create some cohesiveness between our teams."

Adam nodded, then Norris watched him struggle with something for a moment. Then Adam spoke up. "Aggy, there are a few things I really feel you need to know. However, I think my telling you would not be the best way. I think showing you would be." Norris nodded, so Adam continued. "If you would, I would like to ask one of my team members to come up here. He will be the perfect example of what I want you to know. His name is Chase."

"Absolutely Adam, but before I do, is this something you are comfortable with Bucky knowing? You guys will be working very closely with each other over the next couple of days. And I can tell you I trust Bucky with my life. Admiral Buchinski, my predecessor and Bucky's father, is in the brig on this ship because Bucky arrested him when he found out the Admiral was planning a mutiny in this battle group."

"Absolutely. I was going to suggest that as well. The reason I feel you need to know these things is because of how closely we'll be working together."

Norris picked up the phone on his desk. "Myers, General Casey would like to see one of his men, Chase. Would you please have UNIT member Chase escorted to my office." He set the phone back down and walked over to the door opened it and waved Bucky back in.

Bucky took his seat and looked at the two of them. "No offense General but typically when Admiral Norris excuses you from a room that means he wants to talk about you."

Norris laughed. "Jesus, you're full of yourself. General Casey and I needed to discuss some matters of protocol and now the General is going to fill us in a little on his team."

They bantered for a few moments before a knock was heard. Norris nodded to Bucky who opened the door. Standing there was a small figure still wearing his full armor, including his helmet. Bucky stood back, allowing Chase to enter the room. "Thanks for coming Chase." Adam said, to which Chase only nodded. Adam then turned back and looked at Norris and then to Bucky.

"Okay. So... What only a few people, including the President know, is this. We are not from this world. As a matter of fact, the world we come from, dimensional travel is well known to some. We are still trying to figure out why and how we got here, and how we are being blocked from going home." Adam could see both Norris and Bucky were staring at him open-mouthed, so he turned to Chase and nodded.

Chase reached up, undid his helmet, then pulled it off, showing his ferret like features. "Hello Shiny Admiral!" He said in his normal squeaky voice.

Bucky stood and stepped back a few steps, "What the fuck is that?"

"It is me! I am Chase! I am the Death Ferret."

He said with a grin full of small but very sharp teeth.

Bucky just stood there staring and Norris shook his head. "Okay...what the fuck.... I mean.... How the fuck... What the fuck?"

"Well. When one mommy ferret, and one daddy ferret ask the Great Shiny... then a Chase is born."

Bucky took another step back. "How the fuck is this possible, this is out of this fucking world."

Before anyone could respond Norris stood. "Lieutenant Commander Buchinski, stand at attention." Bucky snapped to attention. "I understand this is unbelievable, but you will maintain your military bearing and treat our guest with respect. Am I clear Lieutenant Commander?"

Bucky nearly shouted. "Sir, yes sir! My apologies General and, um, Chase."

Norris nodded. "Take your seat Commander. Chase please feel free to have a seat and I am very sorry about our reaction. This is highly unusual for us and a little overwhelming."

Adam sat there for a moment watching Norris and nodding. "Admiral Norris, what I just saw showed me more about your protocol than any words you could ever say. Thank you for that. Now, do not worry about your reaction to Chase, mine was very similar when I found out about the Hybrids. If you will indulge me, I would like to tell you a short story?"

Norris nodded "Please do General."

Adam stood up and started to pace as he pulled his thoughts together. When he started talking his eyes were straight ahead. "There was a young boy who was forced to live on the streets. For a while he was doing okay, since most of the other homeless people tried to protect him. That was until the government decided to come and take him. This was the United States Government, but remember what I said, not the one on this world." Norris and Bucky both nodded.

“That boy underwent a large number of medical procedures to alter his DNA, mixing his human DNA with that from a large cat. This boy became smarter, stronger, faster, and tougher than any other human. Tougher to the point that he took a point blank shot from a handgun to the chest, and was up and back to full duty in less than forty-eight hours.

“Following that he went into very intense training on command and special forces tactics. They were creating super soldiers, using people that would go unnoticed in the normal world. Children. They made a mistake though, they underestimated me, and over estimated the control they had. I escaped and then I began to rescue the rest of my 'family'. Most of us were not given names, only identification numbers. I had a name, but it was not the one I was born with. They called me Adam for biblical reasons." Again the two men nodded.

“We were able to rescue not only others like ourselves, but we also made it our mission to find those children being abused, train them, and allow them to help others. Only a little more than half of the people that came over to this universe are enhanced.

One of the reasons I am telling you this is because of my parents. Janet Hayes and Joe Casey. They adopted all of us, trying to allow us to be actual kids when we could. Most of us have taken their last names. So to the rest of the UNIT, I am known as General Adam."

Norris looked right into Adam's eyes. "Adam if I ever happen to somehow meet the people that did this to you guys I will have a Tomahawk prepared to shove up their asses. Now getting that off my chest I am glad we have you and can make use of your skills. The one thing I noticed earlier in the wardroom was your teams shock at the tactics and ferocity of the fight at Camp David and Fort Detrick. I can tell you are trained and enhanced to make you some of the best damn warriors ever imagined but you're not soldiers, yet."

"That's correct sir." Adam said as he ran a hand through his hair. "When we first got here we started looking at the history of this world, as compared to the history of the world we came from. The one thing we noticed, but I did not consider until now is, you have had many more wars. What I am thinking is that what we have faced were troops that did not have the battle hardened edge that I am seeing from the troops here." Adam paused and looked around. "So, you are right. We were trained to be warriors, and I would put my group up against twenty times our number, in the world we came from. Here, I am not sure yet."

Norris sat thinking for a moment before reaching over and picking up the phone. "James, can you bring in some cold drinks and do you still have those pizzas you were prepping earlier. Good, two of them please." He hung up the phone. "Sorry, I am starving. Adam based on what little I have seen of what your team accomplished in the recent op, I would still put my money on you guys. Your skills and abilities are not in question at all. It's how you deal with the loss of friends and react to the enemy's tactics I am referring to. Bucky has seen more combat than any of us and I think he can really help you guys understand how to deal with real combat more. You need to know this is not something anyone can teach you. You either adapt to life as a combat soldier or not. We have a saying here, ‘It's not right for everyone'."

"I understand that sir. Frankly, I have no concern about my troops. Each and every one of them had been abused, or has rescued kids from horrible abuse, most of them both. WE can handle the combat, what we need to learn is how to integrate with normal military, and how to deal with the loss that comes from combat."

Norris smiled. "Well sir, I am hoping Bucky and his team can help you get a better understanding of that." There was a knock at the door and the Marine on guard outside opened it and let Seaman James in with a food cart. He placed the cart to the side.

"Will there be anything else Admiral?"

"That will be all, thank you James." As James was leaving Norris turned to Adam and Chase. "I hope you like all the meats, because I know Bucky does."

Bucky just glared at the admiral.

Adam nodded and grinned. "Yes, it's great, thank you. And for the record, it will take all of my people a long time to get over calling adults sir and ma'am, since we are still children, and we have been taught to be respectful. We will get there but we will slip up."

Norris smiled as he handed out slices of pizza.

"Completely understandable. Eat and let's talk Orlando, How many men do you have available?"

"Honestly I am not sure. I know we had injuries, but I have not heard how many or how bad. We had about sixty total on the rescue." Adam patted himself for a moment then looked at Chase. "You got a radio on you."

Chase smiled as he stuffed the rest of his pizza in his mouth, then reached into his armor, pulled out his radio and handed it to Adam. Adam took the strange looking radio, pressed a few buttons, then spoke in a language that neither Norris or Bucky knew. Moments later a response came back. Adam nodded then looked at Norris. "Right now we have just over twenty that are cleared for duty. We lost eight and another five will take a while to recover."

Norris nodded. "I am sorry for your losses, tomorrow at Bermuda we will be having a Memorial Ceremony for those we lost. I would be honored to include your fallen team members as well."

"Thank you Admiral. That would be appreciated."

Bucky and the two boys began discussing the Orlando plan in earnest and after a few minutes Norris excused himself to check on the condition of the fleet. He walked into the CIC and it seemed almost relaxed compared to a few frantic hours ago. Norris walked over to Deputy CAG Captain Shaffer. "Hey Tom everything going ok?"

"Yes, sir. A carrier without airplanes is a strange thing." He chuckled a little.

"Thanks Tom, Have we heard from Gravely lately?"

"Yes sir, Myers has the report but she is plugging along. Dunham, Vicksburg and Fort Worth are escorting her, we are overtaking her now. If we were to leave New Jersey and North Carolina with her we could make Bermuda a few hours earlier."

"Good point Tom let's make it happen. After I speak to New Jersey and North Carolina."

"Got it sir, Myers went over in a chopper to pick them up and bring them back."

"Okay I am going to nap for a few minutes, have someone wake me when they get back."

"You got it sir."

"One other thing Captain Hollway has assumed command and Captain Peterson is on route back to Jason Dunham."

"Good deal. Send him a message to join me when New Jersey and North Carolina arrive." Norris left and went back to his state room. His head hit the pillow and finally allowing himself to succumb to the exhaustion he immediately fell asleep. It seemed like moments later he awoke to a buzzing sound. He looked at the clock, he had been asleep for two hours. The buzzing noise continued and he reached for the phone. "Norris."

"Admiral sorry to disturb you, New Jersey, North Carolina and Ronald Reagan are waiting for you in your office."

Myers sounded exhausted.

"Thank you Myers, I won't need you for a bit get some rest."

"Yes sir."

Norris got dressed, checked his uniform, and started to head to the office across the hall. He stopped and picked up the phone. "Wilson, where's James?.....No, that's not necessary, let him get some rest. I just need to make sure there is coffee in my office. Thank you."

Norris crossed the hall and entered the office. As everyone started to stand he waved them back down then he noticed the two battleship captains. "Charles what the fuck? I thought you retired?"

Captain Charles Marshall, US Navy, Retired laughed. "Well it's good to see you too Aggy. I am retired, now a civilian employee."

Norris laughed. "Well shit, the last Battleship Captain in the Navy retires and takes command of a retired Battleship."

Marshall laughed. "Technically New Jersey is not retired, she is active duty reserve, same with Carolina. Aggy this is Captain Andrew Swan, USS North Carolina."

"Captain Swan it's a pleasure to meet you, Captain Marshall, Captain Swan, this is Captain Hollway, Jay has just taken command of the Reagan and is my Flag Captain." They shook hands and Aggy sat behind the desk. "I am extremely intrigued how it is you got here."

Captain Marshall nodded. "It's a hell of a tale Aggy."

"We have hours before we will be needed."

Marshall and Swan laughed. Marshall settled back in his chair. "Tuesday afternoon we pulled into Wilmington, North Carolina to help the North Carolina celebrate her 75th. We are always kept combat loaded but this load includes a lot of blanks because we were scheduled to do a bunch of salutes. Anyway very early Wednesday morning.....

0023 EST 07-NOV-12
Wilmington NC,
Aboard the USS New Jersey Iowa class Battle Training Ship.

The USS New Jersey and the USS North Carolina sat side by side on the pier. The two hulking giants had film crews installing cameras and running cable everywhere. The New Jersey had arrived that morning to help the North Carolina celebrate her 75th anniversary. The two ships had been taken off active combat status years ago, but were turned over to the Department of the Navy, Naval Education and Training Command. After going through refit and some upgrades, they began teaching cadets. The ships were crewed by veterans and retirees, from as far back to the Korean War. They had been hired as Department of Defense civilian employees to command and conduct training aboard the ships. Twice a year the Naval Academy in Annapolis sent the Cadet Junior Class to the Battleships for two weeks to live aboard a ship and experience how a ship runs. Each session ended in a live fire exercise where the cadets were taught fire control. It always amazed the crews of the ships how many cadets had to hide an erection after they fired a full broadside at an old hulk.

The 75th Official Celebration ceremony would be on the following Monday and would include the New Jersey firing a twenty-one gun salute to the North Carolina. However there were lots of little events before that. On Thursday after the election, it was family day. All the relatives of former officers and crew were invited to come and get private tours of the ships. On Friday there would be a parade of ships, where civilian ships would escort the North Carolina and New Jersey down the Cape Fear River to Fort Fisher for the rest of the celebrations. Sunday morning the ships were being used as the starting point for the local veterans day parade and would fire a twenty-one gun salute.

Sunday night the two ships would leave Fort Fisher and head out to sea. On Monday afternoon they would return to the mouth of the Cape Fear River and sail back up to Wilmington. After the ceremony Monday night they were scheduled to depart North Carolina and head to Annapolis to pick up the newest group of cadets.

The captains of both ships sat in the New Jersey officers' wardroom discussing the election, as the camera crew from the Discovery Channel were finishing up in the New Jersey. Discovery had brokered a deal to do a documentary on the two ships and would be with them during the gunnery exercise with the cadets. So far it looked like Bryce had won but Ashwood had not conceded and with power outages and the lack of information available, all they kept hearing was that Ashwood had declared President Bryce an international terrorist. The captains continued to plan the celebration but talk of civil war was being heard by crew members and the film crew. On Thursday morning the captains got the report that martial law had been declared. They cancelled the celebration and decided to move down the Cape Fear River and dock at Fisher Island. The reports of protests and riots was disconcerting and both Captains decided it would be prudent to move away from the city. They sat at Fisher Island trying to keep up with as much detail as possible.

Sunday evening Captain Swan's nephew, a paramedic with the Washington DC Fire Department showed up pierside, exhausted from a high-speed motorcycle ride from DC. He had a memory card from a handheld video recorder.

Captain Swan pointed at Norris's tablet. "Admiral, may I?"

Without saying a word Norris slid the tablet over to Swan and after a minute of setting up the video he turned the tablet around and all three captains stood and gathered behind the Admiral to watch the video that was beginning.

It was a recording of a West Point Cadet, from Maine, getting ready to march in the Veterans Day Parade with his father, grandfather and great grandfather. The family was very excited as four generations of veterans and soldiers would join together for the day that honors the brave men and women who have served their country in the Armed Forces. It was an extra special day as retired Command Sergeant Major Peters, the oldest family member was celebrating his 100th Birthday on that very same day. The Sergeant Major was also going to visit the World War II Memorial for the very first time after the parade. The parade organizers, aware of his birthday and first visit, had planned a tribute to the Sergeant Major at the monument. Cadet Matthew Peters, the youngest family member present was in full West Point Cadet Uniform, and had been given the honor of pushing the Sergeant Major's, his great grandfather, wheelchair in the parade.

The three Captains and the Admiral watched with pride as the cadet, holding the video recorder showed his family on the National Mall chatting with the other veterans and walking among the parade floats and vehicles, the number of American flags displayed was astounding, red, white and blue bunting adorned every vehicle present. As the groups began getting ready to line up for the parade, the camera abruptly changed angles and showed a large number of black SUVs pull up along Constitution Ave and immediately about twenty heavily armed government agents piled out. The lead agent began approaching the crowd with a bull horn. "The President of the United States has declared martial law, the Veterans Day Parade has been cancelled, everyone is ordered to depart the area immediately." The crowd started shouting and yelling at the agents, while an older gentleman, wearing a black cap that read "US Army Retired" calmly approached the lead agent with his hands in the air, in an obvious attempt to try to talk to him. As he approached, the agent standing right beside the lead agent brought his rifle stock around violently, and the man crumpled to the ground seconds after it connected with his head. The crowd damn near became hysterical and began moving in mass towards the agents. The agents all brought their rifles to their shoulders and the crowd, almost all veterans, knew they wouldn't stand a chance, began to back away.

Cadet Peters began frantically moving the camera around as if looking for something or someone. The movement stopped as it settled on his 100-year-old great grandfather, American flag stuck into his wheelchair, pushing himself down Constitution Avenue. The cadet ran over and the old veteran pushed the cadet's hands away from the chair, and handed him the flag. Cadet Peters handed his camera to someone and stepped in front of the wheelchair and began leading him down Constitution Ave with the flag.

The camera panned as the entire crowd began to form behind the young cadet carrying the flag and the venerable veteran in the wheelchair. They were headed towards the White House and the agents, confused by the apparent disregard of their orders, quickly got back in their vehicles and raced to get ahead of the crowd. The agents dismounted and formed a line in front of the White House lawn and the cadet faltered and stopped about fifty feet from the agents. The entire crowd stopped, everyone was silent for a moment as the two groups stared at each other, from somewhere in the crowd a voice rose.

"Oh Say can you see by the dawns early light."

More voices joined and the sound began echoing from the buildings

"What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?"

By the third verse the entire crowd was singing at full attention. The sound was near deafening.

"Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,"

The camera refocused on wheelchair-bound retired Command Sergeant Major Peters as he struggled out of his chair, stood at attention, saluted the flag and sang.

"O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,"

The camera panned to the agents as they brought their rifles up.

"Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
"Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave"

The camera changed to Cadet Peters standing at attention in front of the crowd with the flag, as tears streamed down his face.

"O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

The sound of the rifles firing filled the air as the camera dropped to the ground. When it stopped moving, the picture centered on Cadet Peters, laying on the pavement gravely wounded, but still holding the flag up. The camera cut out as the flag started to slowly fall towards the ground.

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