Castle Roland

New Beginnings
Book I

by Roland


Chapter 11

Published: 8 Apr 14

New Beginnings

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

All Rights Reserved

Friday November 9th 0055 (12:55 am) Mountain Standard Time
Friday November 9th 0255 (2:55 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah

New Beginnings LogoOkay Haley... What have you got for me?" Jack asked as he sat down in his office. It had been a hell of a day, and night. Now here it was, almost 3 am on the East Coast, and Jack was just now getting time to talk to Haley Burruel. It didn't help that they had lost all the satellites somehow. He still had no clue how it had happened, but, about the same time the earthquake hit, it seemed that every satellite went offline, or was destroyed.

If it hadn't been for some of the equipment the boys had, he wouldn't have been able to do this. Somehow they had rigged it up with their power antennas so he could place this call.

"Well.. I have good news and not so good news." Burruel said. Jack had known Haley for a good long time, and never had he seen the man this tired looking. Of course, Jack was sure he wasn't looking much better. "I'll start with the bad news, since you need to know that to make sense of the good news."

"Okay." Jack said with a sigh as he leaned back in his chair. "Go for it."

"Well, to start with, we found out that the entirety of the Supreme Court, including their law clerks and staff, as well as many of the Congressional members who had not left DC, have been arrested. Supposedly for their own protection." Jack felt his heart starting to sink, but allowed Haley to finish.

"We are still trying to figure out where they had been taken. But I will let you know as soon as I do. I still have a lot of friends in the area, that are not as loyal to Ashwood as he may think." Haley smiled briefly, but it was a forced smile.

"How many?" Jack asked simply. Haley's smile faltered.

"We're not sure exactly how many yet, but we know of at least seventy-six Congressional members and some of their staffs were arrested."

"Okay. So now what?" Jack asked miserably.

"Well, that's where some of the good news starts." Haley said, again flashing his very tired smile. "We spent all day, since you gave me the go ahead, contacting as many Congressional members as we could. For some, we even twisted a few Governors' arms to appoint new ones; since we could confirm that the former ones were either held, or out of contact. All in all, we were able to come up with a majority of both Houses that could convene via teleconference. I brought up the Articles of Impeachment for both President Ashwood and Vice President Recore. Both Articles easily passed the House."

Haley paused, and both men spoke at the same time. "But the problem is the Senate."

Haley chuckled. "Exactly. The problem is in the Senate. In order to run the trial, there had to be lawyers representing Ashwood there, as well as the Chief Justice to preside." Again Haley paused, this time for dramatic effect. Just before Jack was about to speak up, Haley continued. "However, one of my clerks, who, I might add, will be getting a hell of a raise when this is over, found a very old and obscure piece of legislation from the days of the first Civil War. It stated that during a time of war, the Senate has the right to convene and execute its duties, even if all necessary parties are not available to give testimony, as long as all reasonable efforts had been made to have their participation. I personally sent an email to President Ashwood, asking if he would attend the proceedings, or if he wished to have a representative attend. Unfortunately, I never received a response." The smile on Haley's face showed just how unfortunate he really thought it was.

"As for the Chief Justice, since we know the entire Supreme Court has been arrested, we followed the Federal guidelines regarding what to do if the Chief Justice was unable to fulfill his duties. Going down the list, we found a Federal Judge that is next in line after everyone else was eliminated."

Haley sighed and sat back in his chair. "So... after a whole lot of political wrangling and arm twisting; not to mention a few things that are only somewhat legal; the final verdict is this. You need to get yourself a Federal Judge, and be ready by 7 A.M. Eastern. We will be doing another massive conference with all the free members of the House and Senate. Then we'll get this done, and make everything official."

Jack sighed heavily, leaned back in his chair, and closed his eyes, hanging his head slightly. After several seconds, he raised his head, eyes open, and met Haley's. "No."

"What?" Haley asked shocked.

Jack was shaking his head as he began to speak. "I can't do anything somewhat legally. No matter what happens, I have to stick to the law. If I don't, then I am no better than Ashwood."

"Damn you and your 'Intellectual Honesty'." Haley said as he threw his hands up in the air. "Can't you bend your morals for one moment while we try and save this country?"

"NO!" Jack said forcefully, then took a deep breath before he continued. "This nation is based on the rule of law. If I break that, even if it is to save her, then what will we have left? What other laws will we break because they are convenient. No, Haley. No matter what happens, WE must be the ones that are above reproach. If not, then we have already lost."

Haley stared at Jack for several seconds, before he slowly let a smile play on his face. "Thank you, Jack."

Now it was Jack's turn to be confused. That was until Haley explained. "There are many people out there that had questions about you. Questions about what kind of leader you would be, especially during this time. I told them they didn't need to worry about it, but they were still concerned. Almost every single free and available Congressional member, as well as many others are listening in right now, to see what you would say."

Jack sat back dumbfounded, almost missing what Haley said next. "Judge Albert T. Ralkin, the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is standing by to come to your location, wherever that may be. Make sure you're ready by 7 A.M. Eastern." Haley simply nodded to Jack one last time, then cut the signal. Jack sat there for several minutes not knowing how to really take in what just happened.

Friday November 9th 0300 (3:00 am) Mountain Standard Time
Friday November 9th 0500 (5:00 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah

Adrian stood back and watched as Juan dealt with the slave kids that had been brought back from Texas. Even though his stomach turned every time he thought about what the kids had endured, he was mostly fascinated by watching Juan deal with them. What the kids did not know was that Juan had opened up his mind to allow Adrian to 'feel' what the kids were feeling. Adrian had questioned what Juan was doing earlier. Instead of arguing, Juan invited him to get a first hand glimpse into what the kids were feeling, in an attempt to make Adrian understand why Juan had to do what he was doing. It worked.

When Juan had them all busy working on things, he walked over to Adrian and flashed him a brave smile. A smile that did not reach his eyes at all. He motioned for the man to follow him out of the room, Adrian nodded, knowing he didn't want to stay in the room with those kids longer than he had to.

"Are you gonna be able to leave them here?" Adrian asked as soon as they were out of the room.

"Yeah..." Juan said. His voice betraying just how tired and sore he still was. "Not only do I want to make sure that Mike and Sammy are set up right, but I need to get outta this base." Adrian looked into Juan's eyes and saw the same thing he saw many times before, something he was sure very few other people have seen. Juan, the scared little boy. "I gotta get in the saddle again..." Juan said before he turned and walked away. Adrian stood there thinking about what Juan had just said. Then it hit him.

Juan was scared, no, he was petrified. Adrian didn't know what to think about it, so he went to find Janet. She had told him several times that Juan was beyond difficult to understand, but if he had questions, Adrian could come to her, so that's exactly what he did.

"Janet, do you have a moment?" Adrian said when he found her.

"Of course Adrian. I take it our little warrior is getting ready to go?" She said as she sat down, and motioned for him to as well.

"Yeah, and that's kinda what's got me worried..." He said with a sigh.

"Why's that?"

"Well, I mean it's only been two days since he was hurt, and hurt bad. Is he ready to be out and about already?" Adrian cut right to the heart of the matter with his question.

"Medically, as a doctor, I will say, no he's not." Janet said meeting his eyes. "However, as his mother I have to say yes." Adrian was obviously confused, so she explained more. "With these kids, they have an instinctual need to be out there doing something. Especially after they had been injured. I am not sure if you know this, but this is the first time that Juan has been really hurt in combat." She smiled and then launched into something seemingly unrelated.

"I was reading your file, and I saw that you used to surf a lot, right?" Not having any idea where she was going with this, Adrian simply nodded in agreement. "Did you ever wipe out bad? Almost ever drown?"

"Yeah... I did a couple times where I got pulled under by my board. Didn't know which way was up or down."

"Obviously you survived..." She said, stating the obvious. "As soon as you got to the shore, and got your strength back, what did you do?"

Sudden insight hit Adrian like a bolt of lightning. "I went right back in..."

"Exactly! You had to prove to yourself that you could still do it, even though you probably shouldn't have. That's exactly what's going on with Juan. Physically he is not 100%, he can not get into a full on combat situation. While the outside of his body is fully healed already, the organs take much longer to heal. They won't be 100% for several more days. But unless he gets out of that wheelchair, and out of that bed, and especially out of this base, he may never be able to again." She sighed and Adrian saw the tears that came to her eyes. "Every fiber of my being wants to force Juan to stay here, to recover and be the 10 year old boy that he is. But that's not who he is. He's a warrior, and I can not imagine what would happen to him if he became a warrior with a broken spirit."

Friday November 9th 0400 (4:00 am) Mountain Standard Time
Friday November 9th 0600 (6:00 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah

"Jack..." Theodore said quietly as he shook Jack's shoulder. The man had been trying to catch a little sleep before the events that would be coming, but unfortunately, war times don't allow much in the way of sleep.

"What..." Jack said as he opened his eyes. "Theodore... What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong Sir, actually I have some good news for you. But you're needed in the Command Center." The boy said with a grin.

Jack sat up and swung his legs out over the edge of the bed. "Are you gonna tell me what's got you smiling so much, or am I gonna have to wait?" He asked while rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

Theodore giggle softly, trying not to wake Linda who was still asleep in the bed, trying to recuperate from having given birth only hours before. He grabbed on of the suits and handed the pants to Jack as he spoke. "Well, let me ask you this. Do you remember a man by the name of Captain Augustus Norris?"

Jack was half way through pulling up his pants when he stopped, looked at Theodore and grinned. "Aggy? Yeah I know him."

"Good, because he's sent a message, through the Russians... something about letting you win a pool game."

Jack barked out a quick laugh, then looked over to make sure he hadn't woken Linda. "I'm sure he did..."

Theodore giggle softly. "He says the entire Ronald Reagan Battle Group is steaming for the East Coast, and wants to know what the plan is."

"Oh hell..." Jack said as he rushed to get dressed.

"Yeah." Theodore said grinning widely. "Admiral Cathcart is about peeing his pants!"

Jack chuckled as he finished dressing, then, with Theodore at his side, he jogged out of the room, and up to the Command Center.

When he got there, Jack noticed Admiral Cathcart, Adam, and Logan were there. Mary, the CnC commander, was also there. On the screen was the Crest of the Ronald Reagan Battle Group. Jack looked down at Alvin who was sitting at the main control station, and nodded.

"Coming in now sir." Alvin said, then added. "At the moment, the only people that they will be able to see are you and Admiral Cathcart." Jack nodded then faced the screens.

A moment later the face of Captain Norris, as well as two others in uniform, came across the main screen. "Captain Norris. It's great to see you again!" Jack said.

Captain Norris sat up straight. "Mr. President, Admiral Cathcart. I have with me my new XO Commander Jessica Myers and Major Sinclair, commander of the Marine Unit. Mr. President I am happy to see you are okay. We heard about the attempt on your life, are Linda and the kids alright?"

Jack sighed. "They're getting better. Linda and Chris are doing better. I'm not sure if you knew, but Linda was eight and a half months pregnant when we were attacked. Little Theodore came a little early, but he's doing well. Thankfully we met up with some very skilled doctors, who were able to save Linda." Jack sighed, as the emotions played on his face. "I almost lost her Aggy."

Captain Norris paused in reflection "But you didn't Mr. President and I am happy to hear it. Congratulations to both of you. I am sure Theodore will be following in his daddy's footstep in no time. Mr. President I don't want to be impolite but could someone please tell us what the hell is happening?"

Jack actually laughed. "That's the Captain Norris I know. No time for bullshit." He looked off the screen for a moment, and caught Adam's eyes. After a brief moment, Adam nodded back. Jack nodded as well, finishing their silent conversation, then looked back to the screen, and stood up a bit straighter. "Captain Norris, What I am about to get into is classified to the highest level. The people with you are fine, and you may feel free to tell those that you feel absolutely must know, however, I am asking you to keep this to as few people as possible." After a moment, Captain Norris nodded, so Jack continued.

"You already know about the attempt on my life, and I am sure by now that you know we were rescued by some unknown but very capable troops." Again Aggy nodded. "I am about to introduce to you the commanding officer of that group. Before I do though, you need to know a few things about them. First off, disregard what your eyes tell you. Yes, they are young. They escaped from a government lab that was trying to genetically engineer super soldiers. Those doctors very much succeeded, and for that fact I am very grateful."

"Sir, I am not sure I follow you. Are you telling me you have genetically engineered super soldiers working with you?"

"That is exactly what I am saying." Jack said completely seriously. He then looked to Adam. Adam nodded, then stepped to Jack's side, coming fully into the picture.

"Hello Captain Norris, I am General Adam Casey. Commanding Officer of the Universal Next Generation Infiltration Team." Adam said standing at full attention.

Captain Norris was shocked and sat there for a second. "Well General,it's not often that I am speechless and while I'm very intrigued about this group of yours, I feel we have more pressing matters than my curiosity to discuss."

"Of course sir." Adam said as he stepped backed a bit, leaving Jack in the foreground.

"The reason I brought them up is this. They have graciously allowed us to stay within their base, so, if in the future when you contact us, and get a young person, you will not be that surprised." Jack said wanting to make sure that Aggy knew what to expect.

Aggy nodded. "Sir, we have a huge issue here. President Ashwood has authorized us to use Nuclear weapons on our European allies should they, and I quote here, "move to intervene with this administration's attempt to maintain control of the United States."

"Fuck me running!" Jack said softly, but still loud enough for everyone to hear. Normally he would never have said anything like that, but the shock of hearing Ashwood was seriously considering the use of Nukes on the allies, throwing this civil war into a world war, shocked Jack to the core.

"My thoughts exactly, Sir." Norris actually chuckled slightly. Only one person is in the room noticed that Alex Draper silently exited upon hearing what was said.

It took Jack a moment to regain his equilibrium, and then to think through the problem. Of course he was thinking out loud when he said. "We can't tell them, since they may decide to hit us first. But can we leave them in the dark if Ashwood decides to launch?"

"We had considered a warning sir, however the chance of a First Strike order was too great. As of now Ashwood's people can still launch the missiles remotely. We have taken the first step to prevent that by putting all our nuclear assets in maintenance mode. However we do not know how many ships received the order."

Jack stood there for a moment thinking then shook his head. "Thanks Aggy, I'm not sure yet what we're gonna do, but we're gonna have to do something. By the way, what is your operational status?"

"Sir we are fully operational minus a few officers. Admiral Buchinski attempted to start a mutiny on most of our ships using a few key officers. He asked his son Lieutenant Commander Buchinski, SEAL team 4 commander, to assist, but Bucky wanted no part of it and tried to arrest his father. The Admiral shot him in the shoulder before my Marines could intercede and arrest the Admiral. The Admiral is being held in my brig. I will need to discuss Admiral Buchinski's fate with Admiral Cathcart later. I currently have the entire battle group sitting off Bermuda, with the exception of the Providence and Olympus which are submerged off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida. The Russian Federation made contact and attached two Yasen class subs to me which are screening the northern approach to Bermuda. The HMS Illustrious carrier group is screening south of Bermuda. SEAL team 4 has been inserted in and around Daytona, Florida and linked up with the first squadron 2nd Cav. That unit was dispatch to take and hold Daytona Beach International. President Ashwood's commanders think it's loyal to him, however it's not and I have that on good authority they are with us. So Sir we hold Daytona and Bermuda."

Jack stood there stunned for a second. Adam, though, was smiling and nodding. Cathcart was also stunned, but he recovered quickly. "Well... um... Captain, it looks like you have yourself a hell of a Battle Group there."

"Agreed." Jack said with a smile. "For now Captain, I will ask that you hold station and wait for further orders. At this moment I do not have the authority to issue you any orders, but within two hours, that should be remedied."

"Thank you for understanding that Sir, it was something I was concerned about. However Admiral Cathcart does have that authority. And I am glad to see he is working with you. I had planned to put the 32nd Marine Expedition Battalion on the ground in Daytona to augment the Cav and SEALS. I could also move to be in range for counter strikes should Ashwood attempt any further WMD strikes."

"That sounds good. We will be getting back to you when we have an idea of how we are going to use you, and when I have the authority to do so. Do you need anything?" Jack asked, his mind already swirling with the possibilities.

"Other than a new Admiral to take command, a few more planes, maybe another carrier a couple of destroyers and some more subs. Oh, and if you have any spare junior Naval Officers laying around and throw in some more marines, I will concede that you beat me at that pool game fair and square."

Everyone near by burst out in laughter, Jack being the loudest. When he calmed himself back down he nodded. ."Aggy, no promises, but I'll do everything I can to get you what you need. I can start by giving you your Admiral."


"Admiral Cathcart? If you would be so kind?"

"Certainly, Mr. President." Cathcart stepped forward and cleared his throat, "Captain Augustus Norris, Honors, Sir!" At this, Norris and those within the room came to attention, as if pulled by strings. Cathcart continued, "By the authority vested in me, by the Congress of the United States, acting in time of war, and recognizing the gallantry and duty above the ordinary, I hereby order Augustus Norris to receive the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half, until such a time that a board of promotion may be convened, selected, appointed and confirmed by the President of the United States." Cathcart smiled, "Congratulations, Aggy!" Cathcart then stepped back.

Jack, smiled as he said, "You don't need a new Admiral to be in charge of the fleet, because I am looking at the new Admiral in charge of that fleet."

Admiral Norris paused for a moment, as the full implication of what was just said struck him, he then nodded, solemnly. "Well thank you sir." He then looked over as someone else spoke to him, then back to the screen. "Mr. President we are in very good shape all things considered, however, I am being told that we are about to lose the last satellite in range. We will do everything in our power to provide whatever assistance is needed.”

"Understood Admiral Norris. It is good to see you, and we will speak soon." Jack said with a soft smile.

"We are standing by for further orders. This is the USS Ronald Reagan signing off. God Bless the United States."

Friday November 9th 0500 (5:00 am) Mountain Standard Time
Friday November 9th 0700 (7:00 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah

"You sure you're up to this Juan?" Logan asked as the three of them waited for Alvin, Simon, and their guests to arrive.

"I'll be fine." Juan whined. While, on the outside, he was fine. He was still recovering internally from his injuries. "All I'm doing is going up there, helping with the security setup, computer setup, and shit like that. It's not like I could get into a fight up there, even if I wanted to. Mom already talked to Adrian."

Logan sighed, and shook his head, he was about to say something else, when the incoming Huey dropped it's stealth, and suddenly they were awash in the noise of a landing helicopter. Juan quickly walked off to stand with Adrian and the crew that was going to load up the Huey with the equipment Juan was taking with him, while its passengers disembarked.

"Thank you for coming." Jack said as he held out his hand.

"It is my pleasure, Mr. President." Judge Albert T. Ralkin said as he shook Jack's hand. The older gentleman looked rather harried, but then again a fast flight from Los Angeles to Kettle Falls, then helicopter ride from there to here, would explain that. This man had never had to deal with that sort of thing before. He was seventy-eight years old, and didn't have much longer on the bench. However, he was the leading member of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the highest ranking Federal Judge in the western half of the United States.

Jack was so focused on the judge in front of him, that he never saw who else disembarked from the helicopter till he heard a voice he knew very well. "Where is that daughter of mine!"

Jack spun as his tired smile grew to one of pure joy. "Kurt!" He jogged over to the helicopter, just as his mother-in-law stepped gently out. "Lana! What are you guys doing here!"

"We can talk about that later." Kurt said after he released Jack from a big bear hug. "For now, both Lana and I would like to look in on Linda and the boys."

Jack gave Lana a hug as well then turned and motioned for one of the Secret Service men to come over. "Nick, please show Mr. and Mrs. Reed to my family's pod. They will be staying with us, for now at least."

"Of course Mr. President." The clean cut man said with a smile, as Jack turned back to the elderly couple.

"I wish I had time..." He started to say but Kurt interrupted him.

"We know. Mr. Ralkin briefed us on the way here, you do what you need to do, and when you can, we need to talk," Kurt said seriously. To which Jack nodded, then held out his arm, indicating they should follow the agent. Jack then turned back to the judge that was patiently waiting with a small smile on his face.

"I hate to say this, but we only have about twenty minutes before we're needed in the conference." Jack turned to Logan who was standing next to him in normal fatigues. "This young man is Logan Hayes. He'll conduct you to a room where you can prepare yourself. I am very sorry about the short amount of time, however, I am sure you understand."

"Of course I do, Mr. President." The elderly man then looked at Logan with a grandfatherly smile, and winked. "It seems we have gone back to the old Civil War tradition of recruiting them young."

"Yes sir." Logan said with a genuine smile. Thankfully Juan wasn't there, or the man may have gotten hurt. However, Logan knew there was no malice to the man's words, and in a way, it was a great compliment. He took the man's arm, picked up the small bag he had, and helped him to a small bedroom off of one of the secondary offices. He then showed him to the small bathroom inside. "Please let me know if there is anything you need." Logan said as he put the small bag down on the floor.

"I think I should be all set, young man. Thank you for your help." Judge Ralkin said with a smile.

"I will be waiting out in the office for you. As soon as you are ready, I will lead you to the conference room that we will be using." Logan said as he backed out of the room.

Some minutes later, Judge Ralkin stepped out of the bedroom part of the office, dressed in a newer suit with his black judicial robe overtop. He smiled at Logan who was standing by the door patiently waiting. "I do believe I am ready."

"Very good, sir, if you would follow me, we'll take the elevator down to the third level where the auditorium is located." Logan said as he opened the door, then stepped to the side to hold it open for the man.

Once outside, Logan took the lead, and Ralkin fell in beside him. They were both silent for a few moments before Ralkin spoke up. "I must say I am impressed."

"Oh?" Logan asked easily.

"Well, if I didn't know better, I would almost have to believe that you are a lifelong soldier… and a high ranking one at that." Ralkin said, waiting to see what kind of reaction he would get.

"May I ask what makes you think that?" Logan said with a small smile. It was time to see just how good this man was.

"Well, it's simple, if I disregard what my eyes tell me. My eyes tell me that you are a young man, barely into his teenage years if I had to guess." Logan nodded, and the man continued. "But as I said, if I disregard that, I see a very self assured young man, one that is not at all impressed by someone of my position, or even that of the President. That only comes from someone who is used to dealing with people of high rank."

Logan nodded as he pressed the button to call the elevator. "Interesting. But that could also come from someone who has a parent that is high ranking, and is used to dealing with important people."

Ralkin smiled. "Yes, I had thought about that, but I then looked at the way you move, and the way you hold yourself. It shows someone who is not only dangerous with his hands, but also VERY comfortable with the pistol you have concealed under your jacket."

Logan actually looked surprised, then laughed.

"I may be old, but when you sit on the bench for as long as I have, you learn to judge people pretty quickly, as well as spot things that others don't."

Logan nodded as the doors to the elevator opened.

"This way." Logan said as he led the judge out of the elevator. They were silent until Logan stopped outside a door. Ralkin opened his mouth to speak, but Logan stopped him. "Please sir, don't. You have already earned my respect. I try very hard not to lie to people that I respect, and like. However, there are some things that are going on here that anyone who is allowed to leave can not be told about. If you ask, and I answer, then you may not be able to leave till the war is over."

The judge held Logan's eyes as he considered the words. Finally he sighed. "War it is to be, I guess."

"Yes sir, it is. Honestly, it has already started, and I expect the next several weeks will see things that this nation has never had to face. Things that this country's citizens are not prepared for, and frankly, no matter what happens from this point forward, the United States that you knew is over. What is being fought over now is the future."

They held eye contact for a moment before Ralkin smiled and nodded. "Very well, young sir." Logan smiled and opened the door, leading Judge Ralkin into the crowded auditorium.

Friday November 9th 0530 (5:30 am) Mountain Standard Time
Friday November 9th 0730 (7:30 am) Eastern Standard Time
UNIT Base, Utah

"I move that we suspend discussion on this topic, and move to a vote." The Senator from Arizona spoke seriously.

"I second the motion." The South Carolina Senator spoke in her normal clipped voice.

"Very well." Claude Troxe, the Senator from South Dakota, as well as the President Pro Tempore of the Senate said with a sigh. "As was done in the House, I now ask that all members who feel that President Richard Ashwood is guilty of the charges of Treason, Abuse of Power, and Murder, please vote yes. For those that do not feel that President Ashwood is guilty of these crimes, please vote no. I remind the members that a two thirds majority of all those present is required to remove President Richard Ashwood from office."

Jack watched passively as the members logged into their systems and voted. Thankfully, somehow the UNIT boys were able to rig it so that the members of both the House and the Senate were able to vote in the normal, official way, so there would never be any question of the legitimacy of the vote.

Claude looked up after a few moments, and nodded. "Due to the strange way in which this vote is being taken, and due to the need of this vote to be beyond reproach, I will now poll every member. I remind all the members that this vote is being broadcast live to as many people as can see this. The vote now stands at 64 votes of guilty, 0 votes of not guilty. Again to make sure that no one can ever say this was rigged, I will now call on you by name, and by the state you represent. I simply ask that you respond with either guilty or not guilty."

Over the next several minutes, Claude polled each of the 64 surviving members of the Senate. Just like when they did this for the Vice President earlier, every member voted guilty. Jack didn't know how many people were watching this across the country, but he knew that the numbers were probably high, and even higher were the number of people listening in as each and every member voted.

After the last member was polled, Claude looked into the Camera and spoke softly and solemnly. "The Senate has voted. Richard Ashwood has officially been removed from the Office of President of the United States of America. All protections granted to him by that office have been stripped away." He paused for a few moments before he spoke again. "Mr. Speaker, it is my duty to inform you that as you are next in the line of succession, it is now your duty to undertake the Oath of Office so that you may take your place as the President of the United States of America."

Haley Burruel stood up from behind his desk, as a figure in black robes stepped around the desk, holding a bible in one hand. "Please raise your right hand…" The Judge spoke, as Haley placed his hand on the bible.

Moments later, it was Jack's turn as he took the office of Vice President. The entire convoluted plan that Haley came up with was now being played out. Haley became President, then appointed Jack as Vice President. As soon as Jack was confirmed by the Congressional members, Haley then officially resigned as President of the United States, making him the shortest termed President in History.

Linda sat in her wheel chair right next to Jack, and held the bible that Jack had placed his hand on as he repeated the words that Judge Ralkin said. It wasn't like the last time, when he was all smiles. Now, even though he had his boys there as well, it was not the joyous occasion that he remembered.

Then it was Jack's turn to once again take the Oath of Office, this time it was as the President of the United States. As soon as he was done, Mike took the oath of office as the Vice President on video conference. Jack almost had to laugh when the bible was handed to Eric. It was always the spouse that held the bible. Eric was the first male to ever hold the bible for the Oath of Office. At first Mike had trouble because of his arm still being in the sling, however, even though it obviously caused him a bit of pain, he made sure that he did everything properly.

Then finally, after over an hour of procedural items, Jack finally was able to sit down behind his desk in the UNIT base, and speak to the people of the country, only this time, he was officially the President. But first Jack took a moment to hug his family, and those near him, however it was not a joyous affair in the slightest. There were no cheers, no applause, just a solemn affair. Finally, standing behind the podium, he looked directly into the camera.

"Several hours ago, after I found out what was going to happen here, I sat down and did some serious soul searching. It is never an easy decision to become the President of the United States, but even more difficult at a time like this. After a while, I decided that I needed to speak to you all, right then, to make sure you knew what was truly in my heart. With that in mind, I recorded a statement that I would like to play now. I wish to share with you what I was thinking when I decided to go ahead with this plan." Jack looked off to the side, and nodded.

Twenty four year old Owen Baker was watching what was happening on the TV with his new wife, Shelly, their 3 year old daughter asleep in her arms. Both Owen's and Shelly's parents were also sitting there, having just recently been woken up. The men had been taking shifts staying up, listening to news, trying to get an idea of what was going on. Owen had been the one on 'duty' when the emergency alert signals went out, and the impeachment proceedings began. Of course, he woke up the entire family to watch.

After over an hour of official proceedings, it was time to see what the President had to say. Unlike when he took the Oath, President Bryce was was wearing a simple button down shirt, and a pair of jeans, and was sitting behind a desk.

"My fellow Americans… That takes on a new meaning today, I think. When I first decided to run for political office so many years ago, I never dreamt that I would become President." His voice was soft, and everyone crowded around the TV could tell the emotion and sincerity in what he was saying.

"Then I was elected, and all I could think about was how I may not be the right man for the job. But everyone else thought I was, so I tried. Then I lost my Nancy. My rock was gone, far too early in her life, she was gone. Taking with her our unborn child. For a long time I didn't think I could go on. How do you get over losing the love of your life, how do you get over losing the person that means more to you than you do to yourself? How do you keep going after losing a child? It felt next to impossible." Tears were flowing down his face now, but they could tell he really didn't care. This was the man that Owen had met all those years ago, and knew to be one of the most sincere he'd ever met.

"But I found the strength to move on. I found it in a woman named Linda, who is now my wife, and the mother of my seven beautiful boys. Yes, last night Linda gave birth to our seventh. A healthy baby boy that we named Theodore, after someone who has once again shown me what it means to be a man, to forgive someone who made a stupid mistake, and to help heal the wounds that have been caused recently."

Jack took a moment to wipe away the tears, before he looked again into the lens of the camera. "We have been wounded, wounded greatly as a country. Greed and lust for power has driven this country to its knees, threatening to destroy everything that we have struggled to create. Worst of all, it was not the machinations of some foreign power that has driven us to our knees, but the very people we elected to guide us. To keep us safe, and to do our bidding. They forgot that this country was formed on the premise that WE, the elected, are here to do the bidding of the people. Not the bidding of those with money. Not the bidding of those that would rule the people. We are here to do what the people want, and what is in their best interest, not ours.”

"As I am sure you all know by now, former President Ashwood has been impeached and removed from office. By the time this plays, I will have taken the Oath of Office. I am now the first President in over one hundred years to be President during a civil war. Make no mistake, as of this moment, the United States is fractured, and we are at war with each other.”

"Every night I go to sleep praying that when I wake up, I find that this was all just a terrible nightmare. That my wife and oldest son were not shot while we tried to escape from an assassination attempt. That those I love were not hurt, simply because I was running for President. These things should not happen in this country, but they did.”

"All across this great nation of ours, people are hurting. They have lost loved ones, they have lost friends, and in many cases, they have lost everything. In one afternoon, several million people lost their lives in the opening salvos of this war. Even now, I am getting reports of even more people who are being rounded up and imprisoned or worse, simply because of who they are.”

"That is something that we, as a country, turned away from many years ago. We all spoke in one voice saying that we will not allow anyone to be harmed simply because of their race, religion, sexuality, or anything else that was beyond their control. We rose up and in one voice declared that we are all human beings, and because of that, we would not tolerate others being harmed because of something outside of their control. It was not right, and we would not tolerate it.”

"Now though, people all over the country are being rounded up and imprisoned simply because of who they love, who they call God, or the color of their skin. They are being rounded up because someone has arbitrarily decided that they are not good enough. That kind of attitude is NOT something that will be tolerated in the United States. That message was sent before, and it MUST be sent again.”

"In our very own Pledge of Allegiance, we say that we are 'One Nation, Under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL'. Are those just pretty words that we speak, or do they mean something? To me, they mean EVERYTHING.”

"I spoke of the Civil War earlier. Not to sensationalize what is going on, but to let everyone know that we are indeed at war. Not with another country, a thousand miles away, but with those that would impose tyranny and slavery on their own people. We must NOT allow them to succeed. If we roll over and allow them to win, they will not stop at those that are different from them, they will move on to those who are not what they consider to be 'good enough'.”

"I am calling on every person in this country… man, woman, and child to rise up and help us beat back the Forces of Tyranny. To rise up and show those that would take our way of life from us, that we will not go quietly into the good night, that we will fight back, and we WILL take back what is rightfully ours."

"Thomas Jefferson once said that 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.' That saying is very true right now. We will beat them back, and we will, once again, become the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. But we will need the help of everyone, both young and old, it doesn't matter about age or experience.”

"At this time, I am calling on everyone to step up, and to help each other out. Just to name a few of the groups I am calling on. All members of the Civil Air Patrol, please report to your assigned duty stations. Those who are a part of a Junior ROTC program. Report to your officers and trainers for assignment. Assist the Military as much as you can. Free up the soldiers to do what they do best.”

"Retired and Ready Reserve. If you have the ability, please report to the closest military unit, and re-join. We need all hands on deck right now. No matter what you can do, please go and help out. Even if all you can do is teach others what you know, it will be of great help.”

"Scouts, both the boys and the girls, gather together with your troops. Many of you have training in survival and experience living without the modern conveniences that we no longer have. Help teach those near you what you know. Prepare them as well as you can, to live off the land. The children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow… it is often said. Well, now those children WILL be the leaders of today. Listen to them, help them where you can, but most importantly, learn. It will be some time before things are back to normal. The government will help where it can, but for now, you need to learn how to rely on yourselves.”

"One thing to keep in mind, the United States has more resources than any other country, and I am not just speaking about natural resources. Think about it. How many people do you know that are homeless? Or have to live with little. They know how to survive. Go to them, help them, and they will teach you what they know.”

"Together, my friends, we can NOT fail. It will not be easy, but we will not fail. We will rise to meet this, just like we have always risen to the occasion. When your neighbor falls, stop and help him back to his feet, and together you will be stronger.”

"Remember one thing, though. This is not a time of lawlessness. This is not a time for vigilantes to run amok and create new laws. We are a nation of laws, as you have all just witnessed, and without those laws, we are no better than the people we are fighting against."

Jack paused as he looked directly into the camera. When he spoke again, his voice was strong and clear. "Make no mistake, there are hard times ahead of us. I and the people in my administration will do all we can to help everyone, but we have limited resources at the moment. You are not alone, but you will have to help yourselves for a while. I have faith in each and every one of you to help each other, teaching them the skills that you have, and learning from others the skills you lack. We need everyone to come together to help their neighbor. With all of us working together, we can not be stopped." He paused once more before he finished. "May God bless each and every one of you, and God Bless the United States of America."

"My God." Owen's mother breathed out as she sat there, being held in the strong arms of Owen's father. Across from them, the other older couple sat there, also holding each other. Before anyone else could speak though, the TV blinked for a moment, and the picture cleared showing The President's wife, Linda, who was once again the First Lady, sitting there in her wheelchair. She looked pale, and slightly frail.

Even though, the fire was in her eyes, and the straight backed posture she had made her a strong figure, even in the wheelchair.

"I am sorry to have to say this, but my husband just got pulled away. It seems that shortly after he took the Oath, Former President Ashwood launched several Cruise missiles, and targeted them at several points in the western half of the United States. Please stay close to your TVs or radios, and as soon as we have any information on where they are headed, we will let you know."

She paused, closed her eyes, and took several deep breaths. When she opened them back up, Owen immediately saw that fire and intensity in them. "Throughout history, the First Lady has always been criticized when they take a stand on something. During Jack's second and third terms, he was often taking heat because of the things I said and did. When I asked him one time if I should back off, he told me no way in hell. He said, "Linda, I trust you, and know you well enough that when you put your mind to something, not even all the armies of Hell can stop you, so I certainly am not about to." She paused for a moment, as a sad smile came across her face as she remembered that, but it was gone as quickly as it came.

"I love my husband dearly, but he is the President, and even though he doesn't often mince words, he does have to be careful of what he says. Me, well I don't have to be as careful. So let me tell you all a few things. Mr. Ashwood is waging a War of Terror right now. He is trying to cow the American people into rolling over and accepting what he wants to do. Obviously he does not know the American people, or their history. Over the last three years, he has done everything he can to dumb down the American people, to make them complacent, and to weaken the values that made this the greatest country in the world. In simpler terms, he tried to make you weak."

She shook her head. "Now it's time to for you, all of you, to make a decision. Are you weak? Are you going to roll over like Mr. Ashwood expects you to? Or are you going to stand up in the face of adversity, like your forefathers did before you, and tell Mr. Ashwood that he is wrong, dead wrong, about the American people."

Owen watched as Linda grinned, but it wasn't a happy grin. "I am suddenly reminded of a movie that I like. A movie that portrays a Scottish man, as he leads men against the English that have invaded his country. He was before the army, as they were about to enter battle. They were frightened, and wondering if they could win. That man, William Wallace, has to rally his troops, and he did. What he said to them all those years ago, certainly applies now.

"I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen,
here in defiance of tyranny!
You have come to fight as free men.
And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?"
"Two thousand against ten?" A man shouted. "No! We will run - and live!"
"Yes!" Wallace shouted back. "Fight and you may die.
Run and you will live at least a while.
And dying in your bed many years from now,
would you be willing to trade all the days,
from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance,
to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives,
but they will never take our freedom!"

Linda looked into the camera, and Owen could swear she was looking at, and talking right to him. "So let me ask all of you this. Will you fight? Will you do what you can to make sure that the man trying to steal your freedom, is beaten back?"

The screen suddenly went dark, as the emergency alert signals started up again. Owen stood up, and started to walk from the room. "Where are you going? Shelly asked him softly.

Owen turned slowly, then met her eyes. "I'm going to fight. I'm going to fulfill the Oath that I took." The room was silent for a moment, before both Owen's father, and then Shelly's also stood.

"Lets go," Shelly's father said with a nod. "I may not have been in the military like you both have been, but I'll be damned if I sit here and allow someone to destroy what my great great grandfather fought and died for."

With heads held high, and backs straight, the three men left the house. Once they got outside, they all stopped and looked around. Out of almost every house on their small block, men, women, and even older children were coming out of their houses, and gathering to try and figure out how to help.

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