Freedom's Sons: Section II, Chapter Eight
[First draft sample chapter. This is by way of apology for my senile faux pas of the other day when I posted the same chapter twice. - HAC]
(12 years, seven months, and 27 days after Longview)
The air raid sirens went off in Missoula, Montana at around nine forty-five on June 19, but the civil defense radio and television had been warning the citizens of the Republic for several hours beforehand that the long-awaited American invasion was on its way. There was no panic. The streets were a hive of orderly and purposeful activity as all but essential personnel evacuated the city and went to their assigned military or civil defense posts or other SRPs, Secure Retrenchment Positions, where they would hopefully be out of immediate danger and they could not only survive, but keep NAR society functioning. The Northwest Republic had been preparing not just its military, but its people for this event for many years. Virtually every adult citizen had some kind of part to play in Plan 17.
The public call for reserve mobilization had gone out early that morning, but many of the military reservists for Missoula County were already in uniform and with their units in various places around the country. The call-up had in fact begun months before, covertly and in small numbers, with selected reserve units being activated on a variety of excuses for “special exercises,” firefighting, equipment inspection or some other pretext, and then not sent home but kept on active duty. A more extensive callup throughout the country had begun almost a week before, but quietly and without public fanfare, the citizen soldiers being notified by telephone and personal contact. Over the past three months, the NAR had managed to mobilize almost a million men, get them under arms and into the field without the Americans picking up on it, a testimony not only to the enemy’s lack of human intelligence on the ground throughout the Republic, but also to the limitations of satellite surveillance. Most of the Republic’s major weaponry, aircraft and helicopters, artillery and tanks, and the few precious batteries of Russian-made missiles the country had been able to afford to buy, had been dispersed and was now in position. Large numbers of inflatable dummies and a lot of apparently motiveless troop movement back and forth across the landscape had added to the confusion of the American intelligence analysts, many of whom were negro or Third World affirmative action employees who were poorly trained and had little aptitude for the task. In cubicles in the Pentagon and at Langley, they peered at the blurred satellite footage half the time without any idea what they were looking at. The Americans were already beginning to trip over one solid and inescapable biological fact: the races of mankind are not in fact equal in intelligence and reasoning capacity.
The University of Montana’s chancellor, Jason Stockdale, had reverted to his reserve military rank of colonel on receiving his mobilization orders. He was now on the staff of the commander of the NDF’s Fourth Army, the force responsible for squaring off with the American Combined Group South of army, marines, and air force which was expected to cross the border within 48 hours. The Fourth Army was led by Major General A. J. Drones, an NVA veteran who had been the commandant of the Missoula Brigade during the War of Independence; it would not have seemed right for Jason to outrank him. To the north, the Third Army under Major General Zack Hatfield of Oregon Wild Bunch fame was covering the Flathead region of Montana out of Kalispell, and preparing to confront the enemy’s Combined Group Center, while the Second Army under SS General William Jackson was centered on the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane areas, preparing to repel Group North coming down from Canada. The First, Fifth, and Sixth Armies were deployed in Oregon and Idaho, along the Republic’s southern borders with California and Nevada, to deal with the Mexicans who would be invading the country from Aztlan. The Seventh Army under General Conrad Baumgarten waited in the wings in Wyoming, poised to launch an attack on the enemy’s left flank.
All of this looked very neat and logical on paper, as if the war was laid out like some kind of board game, but this was not the case. In actual practice, it was as the American general Scheisskopf had predicted: the invaders would not be confronting one or two large concentrated forces that could be designated by flags or pins on a map, but hundreds of smaller ones that would nip at their heels like a pack of wolves chasing caribou.
Alone of the Northwest ground forces, the Special Service or SS was formed into divisions. The regular army was based on the older formation of the regiment, comprised of self-contained and self-supporting battalions, all of which were now at full strength, or would be within a matter of days. Certain regular regiments of professional soldiers, such as the International Brigades which consisted of such outfits as the German Panzer Grenadiers, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the French-speaking Régiment Charlemagne, etc. moved and fought with their three battalions only, all together.
With support personnel, a battalion of regulars mustered almost two and a half thousand men apiece. The headquarters column of each army consisted of a core force of between twenty and twenty-five thousand men, most of them regulars. The headquarters column was the hive, so to speak, while the battalions were the bees. All the rest of the strength was spread out over the landscape for miles, like swarms of bees, so never was there any huge concentration of men and materièl for the Americans or the Mexicans to attack, from the air or otherwise. Even had they maintained their satellite surveillance and air superiority, the Americans would have found it difficult to inflict debilitating casualty numbers on the NDF. The overwhelming number of NDF regiments of the line were comprised of three regular battalions and at least six or seven each of reservists, on the average about 5500 to 6000 men per regiment. The battalions moved, billeted, and fought separately, although often brigaded together into perfectly coordinated and highly trained regimental strike forces.
Finally, like jokers in a deck of cards, there were the three élite Special Service Divisions of twenty thousand or so men each—the Viking Division, the Florian Geyer Division, and the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. The SS division of hand-picked men, each trained to the level of an American Green Beret and beyond, was an army on its own, with their own armor, artillery, and air wings. Even the Pentagon’s generals admitted (out of range of the president’s eavesdropping devices) that the SS were arguably the finest infantry in the world, albeit so far untested in full-scale battle. The three SS divisions were poised just outside Spokane, Boise, and Eugene, with orders to change positions once the word came down that Rotfungus had worked and the Zionists were blind in the sky. Indeed, there would be major troop relocations all across the fronts, to render the Americans’ last snapshot of the Northwest military dispositions invalid. The SS divisions would act as floating reserves to be thrown in wherever there was a threat that the line units might give way, or more likely a weak point detected where a breakthrough could be made. The overall strategy of Plan 17 was indeed similar to that of attacking wolves; vulnerable sections of the enemy would be cut from the herd, run down and bled to death, and when the whole beast was sufficiently weak, the SS would be sent in for the kill
Just before the air raid sirens went off, Jason Stockdale was helping his wife Jenny load up on buses her personal contingent of over one hundred small children, ranging in age from five to eleven years, along with the support staff she would need to keep them safe. Jenny’s particular reserve formation was an adjunct of the Civil Guards called the Emergency Family Protective Service, comprised almost entirely of women, who had become known as Mama Bears. The EFPS was a formation which had been created with this very day in mind.
Before Bluelight, when it was feared that the Republic would have to stand the full might of the American bombers and missiles, it had been decided that the nation’s greatest asset, its children, would not be sent down into holes to huddle in fear in underground shelters while the bombs thundered overhead, risking burial alive by American bunker-busters or asphyxiation in a firestorm. There would be no Dresdens or Hamburgs in the Northwest. In addition, the fact was that almost all the fathers and many of the mothers of the Republic’s infinite growing broods of kids would be needed at the front or on various military and war-related duties. The EFPS not only meant that the kids would be safer, but the men in uniform who were fighting off the invaders could be more confident that their kids were out of harm’s way and being looked after, in many cases by their own mothers and relations, who had formed community and church groups through EFPS for the evacuation and relocation of untold thousands of children.
The EFPS children would be dispersed in groups into the countryside, to special locations and facilities which had been built in forested areas under as much cover as possible, and near small towns in more remote areas of the Northwest Republic. Each of these camps was equipped with cabins, kitchens and sanitary facilities, stockpiles of food and water, generators, medical supplies, a small infirmary, and so on. There school could continue, the children could play and be fed and cared for properly, and they would hopefully be traumatized as little as possible beyond the separation from their parents. There were special crèche refuges for infants and toddlers, but Jenny’s group consisted of older kids who were potty-trained and of sufficient maturity to obey adult instruction, insofar as kids that age ever did. Participation in the program was voluntary, but it was estimated that in time of war almost half the young children in the NAR would be thus protected from the near-certain American bombardment of the cities and larger towns. The British and Germans had done largely the same thing with their own young during World War Two.
Someone had once asked Jenny Stockdale if, after her experience as an NVA guerilla during the War of Independence, she didn’t consider such babysitting duty in a time of national crisis to be degrading, or at least something of a come-down. Wouldn’t she rather be doing something more exciting and swashbuckling like her exploits from the old days? She replied, “Not at all. The Fourteen Words say that we must secure the existence of our people, which is what I did during the revolt, and also a future for White children, which is what I will be doing when the Americans come to try and take that future away.”
Now Jenny got onto the first bus and placed her Kalashnikov in the rack by the driver’s seat, then got stood in the doorway and shouted, “All right, kids, let me have your attention! We’ve all practiced in our after-school drills and our weekend camp-outs for this, and now we have to do it for real. Sannie Van Reenen, when the grownups are talking, you are doing what?”
“Listening, Mrs. Stockdale,” said the little girl.
“That’s right, so listen and don’t talk,” Jenny told her. “Now we are going to get on the buses. Your counselors will assign you your seats, and you will not leave them unless you need to use the toilet in the back of the bus, in which case you will raise your hand and ask first. There will be no horsing around or general monkeyshines on the bus; remember, the counselors are bringing guns for the Americans, but we also have a couple of paddles in our packs for any of you who can’t behave yourselves. When we get to camp, you will collect your evacuation bags that your parents made up for you from the luggage compartment, and we will give you all your cabin and bunk assignments, and no switching or messing around. Kids, I mean it—it is very, very important that your counselor knows where you are at all times. I also want to remind you of the rule about no touching or messing with any of the counselors’ guns or ammunition.”
“I can shoot an AK!” called one boy. “My dad taught me!”
“I’m sure he did, David, but you won’t need to shoot any of these. Now start boarding your assigned buses. Miss Winwood, please make sure Mister Christopher Benbow is seated where you can keep an eye on him and he can’t pester any of the girls.”
“Yeah, Christopher’s gross!” yelled one of the girls.
“We’ll see how you feel about that in about eight years, Nicole,” said Jenny. “Alright, everybody on the buses, quietly and in single file!” They began boarding, herded by the counselors. The kids were not wearing their usual school uniforms, but comfortable outdoor clothing and strong shoes provided by their parents. Jenny got out of the doorway and stepped to Jason’s side.
“Well, it could be worse,” said Jason tightly. “They could have attacked in the middle of winter.” All of a sudden the air raid sirens went off all across town, the low wailing up and down that had been the signature theme of so much of the past hundred years of glorious democracy. It was not a new sound to the children, since the sirens were tested every Saturday at noon and they were all used to it. Only a few of the older ones understood what the sound meant, and glanced apprehensively at the sky. “Christ! I never thought we’d have to hear that sound in this country!” hissed Jason. “Looks like the bastards are already on their way!”
“If so, then we need to be on our way too, Jace,” said Jenny, her face grim.
“I know, honey,” he said. “What’s that?” He shielded his eyes, looking at the sky to the south. It was a sunny day, but for several minutes there seemed to be some kind of eerie light show far southward, like lightning flickering in the distance, with blue lines nipping into the sky and fireflies winking and blinking high in the stratosphere. The Mama Bears continued shepherding their young charges onto the bus, and in a matter of minutes they were all seated.
“We better roll, Jace,” his wife said. Then all of a sudden the sirens stopped and there were three long honks, then three more, and then a final three. “What?” she exclaimed. “The all-clear already?”
Jason’s phone bleeped and he opened it. He was hooked into the special high-echelon command tweet. “Well, I’ll be hornswoggled!” he said with a grin of joy and relief. “Looks like that new anti-aircraft weapons system we’ve heard about works! Thirty-four planes and missiles headed for Missoula are now headed for the dirt! Looks like out of their whole first wave targeting this area, not a single one of the sons of bitches got through! Hot damn!”
“Oh, thank God!” said Jenny with a small sob. She looked up at Jason with tears in her eyes. “Jace…”
“We’ve been here before, Jen,” he said softly, kissing her forehead.
“I know. And it was always hideous, back then too. Never knowing if this was the last time.”
“We always met again, honey. We will this time, too,” he assured her.
“Sure,” she said with a wan smile. “But I thought the bad times were over there for a while. I really did. I convinced myself that they would leave us alone.”
“They can’t do that,” said Jason. “Free white men are a flaw in the pattern they cannot abide. Our very existence is an affront to them. It drives them insane. We’re living proof that their way is wrong, wrong, wrong, and every day that our society succeeds while theirs fails is another nail in history’s coffin for them. They had to try this someday. ”
“I know,” said his wife, her eyes hardening. “But I will never, ever forgive those Zionist scum for making us go through this again!”
* * *
About five miles away, a group of around eighty men and boys in uniform was assembling on the tarmac at the Missoula airport. Half of them were aging or downright elderly men wearing NDF camouflage and collar tabs bearing the letter B. The other half were kids and gangly teenaged youths wearing dark green fatigues and garrison caps with green and blue neckerchiefs. This group included several twelve and thirteen-year-olds. In front of them stood a chunky yet fit-looking man in his early sixties, with a shock of white hair. “All right, come on, form up there!” he snapped at them. The two groups got into ranks. “Attention!” Both groups snapped to a passable attention. “Stand at ease!” They did so. The man spoke to them.
“For those of you kids who don’t know me, I am Sergeant First Class Eli Horakova, Northwest Defense Force Category B Reserves. That’s us old farts. For you old farts who don’t know these youngsters, this is C Troop of the Missoula Battalion of the Young Pioneers. Their troop leader is my son Thomas.” He pointed to 17-year-old Tommy standing in front of his troop. “Tommy just graduated from Missoula High School a few weeks ago, and normally he would be headed for the Labor Service and then on to basic training, but given the present emergency he and the rest of his troop volunteered to become part of the NDF’s Military Auxiliary Corps, otherwise known as the Cradle and the Grave.” There was laughter. “For the record, we are now Company A of the Third Battalion, Fourth Army MAC.”
Eli went on, “My other son Ed is with his own army unit down along the Bitterroot someplace. My daughter, my daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren are being evacuated by the EFPS as we speak. Our family fled to this country after Longview with nothing but the clothing on our backs, and with the Chicago cops hot on our trail over a small matter of a dead nigger. We’re not going to run away again, and neither will any of you, or I’ll shoot you myself. I know we’re not full-blown soldiers, although some of us have been in the past, including two of our B-Specials who fought with the NDF during the Consolidation, and a lot more of us who were with the American imperial forces in the Middle East. I myself did two tours in Iraq back in the day, and some of these older guys have campaign ribbons from there and Afghanistan and Iran and Gaza. You young men from the Pioneers, remember that. Some of us old guys got that way because we made it through a couple of wars. Listen to us, because we know what the hell we’re doing. You B-Specials, don’t be afraid to make use of the Pioneers’ youth and strength. We may not be over the hill, but we’re on the downward slope, and we need to face that fact. Don’t any of you give yourselves a hernia or a heart attack lifting something that’s too heavy for you or doing something you’re no longer up to physically, because you want to play iron man in front of the youngsters. Like any military unit, we have to work as a team. Everything we have in the world depends on it. We will be assisting the NDF basically as gophers, doing all the little odd jobs that need doing, here, out in the field, wherever they send us. Everything from directing traffic, to KP and serving chow in the mess tent, to running messages, to counting buttons and acting as supply clerks, to driving ambulances or trucks, anything that will free up one more combat soldier for the fighting itself.”
“Will we be issued weapons, Dad—I mean sergeant?” asked Tommy.
“Affirmative,” said Horakova. “Not Excaliburs like the line units, but M-Sixteens from the older stock the NDF has kept stashed away. They have tens of thousands of them, and plenty of five point five-six ammo. Just because we’re supposed to be support personnel doesn’t mean we may not have to fight. All of you who aren’t Middle East vets from back in the bad old days have had at least some training, either through the B-Cat course or the Pioneers, and all of you should be familiar with the Sixteen. God knows, I remember it well. That’s what we’re going to do now, get issued with weapons, magazines, ammo, and cleaning kits. Then we spend the rest of today guarding the perimeter around the airport and digging foxholes for shelter during the bombing attacks which are on their way, although maybe not. I was just informed before I came out here that the first wave of enemy bombers and guided missiles which was launched at Missoula has been completely destroyed by some new kind of ray gun that our National Mad Scientist Doctor Joe Cord came up with.” Cheers and rebel yells rang out along the tarmac
Eli went on: “When you’re out along the perimeter here, you will notice two groups of vehicles, including some flatbeds with funny electronic gear on them, things that look like satellite dishes and big movie projectors. That’s them. They have been assigned to protect the airport against aerial attack, although so far they haven’t been needed because our guys further south and east of here have already stopped the enemy aircraft from reaching Missoula. Each of those units will have NDF soldiers assigned to guard them. Do not approach these vehicles, engage in any conversation with their personnel, or ask any questions. These weapons are still top secret, and as far as you are concerned, they do not exist. They’re just part of the scenery. Are we clear on that?” There were some nods and mumbles of agreement. “I can’t hear you!”
“Yes, sergeant!” shouted the men and boys.
“Good. Now we march over to Hangar Twelve like as if we were proper soldiers, which we are, where we will be issued our own weapons. Company, tenhut! Left face! Forward, march!”
* * *
At six p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, President Hunter Wallace, attended by certain Cabinet and White House staff members, took his first official briefing from the Joint Chiefs in the White House Situation Room. The mood was somewhat less than ebullient. Bluntly put, the first day of the invasion had been a disaster, and it wasn’t over yet. “The first thing I want to know is what the fuck happened to our satellite communications?” snapped the president. “Why am I still turning on CNN and finding nothing but a picture of me with my mouth open, barking like a dog?”
“The enemy have uploaded some kind of computer virus onto the onboard hard drives and telemetry systems of every one of our birds, and they’ve not only knocked out our entire orbiting surveillance, they’ve wrecked almost the entire world satellite communications network,” said Admiral Hector Brava. “Every American and European orbital communications and ground surveillance satellite is out of commission, and that barking dog shot of you is now the only thing on hundreds of millions of television and computer screens from here to London and Johannesburg. The only exception are the Russian satellites, whose orbitals appear to still be functional. In view of their cozy relationship with the Northmen, that comes as no surprise.”
“Mr. President, could we please establish some conversational protocols for our meetings?” demanded an exasperated Janet Chalupiak, Secretary for Northwest Recovery. “The use of the term Northwest American Republic is bad enough, since it implies that we are dealing with some kind of actual country, but ‘Northmen’ is just as bad, because it gives the impression that these people are a real nation. They are not. They are a small group of racist, fascist and homophobic white male sociopaths who have been engaging in a criminal conspiracy against the lawful authority of the United States for the past seventeen years, and that’s all they are. We must not allow them to control the narrative with this absurd notion that they are a legitimate nation.”
“How about we just refer to them as those guys out there in the north woods who are kicking our ass?” suggested Vice President Hugh Jenner. He had just enough Oregon left in him to find Chalupiak’s patronizing political correctness and insistence on controlling the narrative herself for them all to be irritating.
“With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, that’s a damned lie!” said Marine Commandant Louis Battaglia. “United States Marines don’t get their asses kicked, not by anyone.”
“I think the late Delmar Partman would disagree, general,” said Jenner acerbically. “Wake up and smell the coffee, ladies and gentlemen. In under ten hours we have lost almost four hundred American air crews and six hundred aircraft, if we include Cruise missiles. We have inflicted only minimal damage. In fact, so far as we know, we have destroyed not a single designated target. I fail to see how that can be spin-cycled into victory. We’re damned lucky most cable TV is out, otherwise the talking heads would be crucifying us!”
“Wait until our boys get their boots on the ground, Mr. Vice President, and then you’ll see,” said General Albert Scheisskopf.
“Speaking of which, do we have a single soldier inside the border of the racist entity yet?” demanded President Wallace.
“Not yet, sir,” replied Admiral Brava. “Because of your—because of the advancement of the schedule, it’s going to take a lot longer for the ground forces to get where they’re going. More distance to cover on their Baghdad Boogie. Group South was already in its staging area around Billings when you moved the mission forward this morning, so they’re set to roll, but Group Center is way out of position. They were supposed to start their push on Kalispell from the staging area on the Belknap Indian Reservation, but now the cat is out of the bag thanks to our lunatic CIA director, they have to begin their advance from Minot, North Dakota, which will put them almost three days behind. Group North will be even further behind, because they will be starting their northward flanking movement through Canada from Fargo instead of from Minot.”
“But Group South is in position?” asked Wallace. “Great! At least one of the columns will be on schedule! Order them to begin their attack right away, Brava! We can spin that, can’t we, Angela?” he said, looking at his press secretary.
“Sure,” said Angela Herrin confidently. “Fog of war and all that. The other two columns are a little behind schedule, but no biggie. We just tell them to step on it. I mean, they’re going to be rolling down paved highways, not route-marching over mountains.”
Brava and Scheisskopf looked at one another, appalled. Scheisskopf spoke first. “Mr. President, we’re talking about armies numbering hundreds of thousands of men and countless thousands of vehicles, not a vacation excursion in the family RV! Troop movements on that scale are complex maneuvers that have to be planned and organized like clockwork. But more than that, the whole crux of the plan as far as the ground invasion goes is that all four columns, our three and the Aztlan Mexicans, must strike together! We are going up against at least several million men on the western and northern fronts, and we have to advance on them simultaneously so that they can’t concentrate their forces on each column one by one. Otherwise, without our air power, we risk defeat in detail!”
“Did you say ‘defeat,’ general?” snapped Wallace. “Now that is a word that I will not hear in any conference or report again. Is that clear?”
“Speaking of the fourth column, how are our Mexican friends doing?” asked Jenner hastily. “Have they crossed the border from California yet?”
“Not yet,” said General Scheisskopf. “They were caught even more off guard by the abrupt move forward of D-Day than we were and they’re, uh, a bit more slow off the mark than we are. I think most of their troops are still down around Redding.”
Brava was staring at his laptop computer. “Not good,” he said. “I’ve just gotten an e-mail from our military liaison in Aztlan, Brigadier General Batista. He confirms that as of twenty minutes ago, V-3 Flying Bombs began falling on Sacramento and San Francisco. Some of them were high explosive warheads and have left impressive craters in the downtown areas of both cities, but others appear to be chemical and biological weapons. There are already reports of civilian casualties from what appears to be poison gas.”
“Where the hell are our Patriot missile batteries?” shouted Marlon Bagwell, the Secretary of Defense. “We gave them to the Aztecs to reassure them that wouldn’t happen!”
“The Patriots are firing and they have taken out a number of incoming V-3s without difficulty,” said Brava, “But apparently the North—excuse me, the racist entity had a lot more of them than we gave them credit for. Bad intel again. Batista says there are hundreds of the damned things coming at them. Not too surprising since we figure a V-3 costs roughly half a million dollars to manufacture, whereas one Patriot now runs about fifty million, what with the damned inflation driving up costs by the month. The Patriots were designed to intercept and destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads coming out of the stratosphere at supersonic speeds, not repel what amount to spitball attacks by canvas and fiberglass, low-flying junkheaps coming at them almost at ground level in mass waves like a cattle stampede, and they simply can’t stop all the damned things. It takes time to reload each Patriot missile into the launcher, and they’re simply overwhelmed.”
“A harbinger of things to come,” said Lieutenant General Frederick Selkirk of the U.S. Air Force. “We’re going to have hundreds of those nasty little Nazi torpedo boats coming at Task Force Soaring Eagle as well, thousands of those propeller planes and attack copters coming at our ground troops, and hundreds of battalion-sized units attacking our advancing troops.”
“That wasn’t supposed to happen!” cried White House Chief of Staff Ronald Schiff in alarm. “The bombing and Cruise missile strikes were supposed to take out all their rocket launching platforms and their airfields and naval facilities with the first few hours! What if they decide to attack Vancouver, Canada? There are over a hundred thousand Jews living there, many of them Second Holocaust survivors from Israel who are already terribly traumatized by the idea of rockets falling on them!”
“Do we have any idea how the hell they managed to get to our planes and missiles?” demanded Wallace.
“Apparently some kind of laser or plasma ray weapon,” said Brava. “Not many of our pilots came back from the first wave, but those who did saw something that looked like beams of blue light coming up from the ground.”
“Maybe Kanesha was right about the space aliens being on the Nazis’ side,” muttered Schiff. “Maybe she’s not so crazy after all.”
“I rather doubt it, Ron,” said Wallace acidly. “What about the second wave?” he asked Brava.
“We didn’t send in the second wave, of course,” said Brava. “I’ve also put the seaborne assault from the carriers in Task Force Soaring Eagle on hold as well, since we have no idea what we’re dealing with, and…”
“Son of a bitch!” shouted the President of the United States. “You mean we haven’t actually lost control of the air war, we’re just conceding it because we took a few losses?”
“Eighty percent casualties and over six hundred aircraft and missiles shot down is not a few losses, sir!” said Selkirk sharply.
Wallace glared at him. “I’m no military man, but I know this country’s military history. Even I can see that we’re sending the cream of the United States Army and Marine Corps into combat against an enemy that outnumbers them by possibly as much as ten to one, and if we do not establish complete control of the air and start inflicting serious damage on the enemy’s strength and capability this could turn into a nightmare! What about the parachute drops? Did you abort them as well, Admiral Brava?”
“Sir, these things can take down B-52s, F-15s and F-22s five and a half miles up, not to mention Cruise missiles, and some of those aircraft were traveling at supersonic speeds!” protested Brava. “What the hell could they do to lumbering C-130s and other transport planes and copters flying slow enough and low enough to drop paratroopers? They’d be massacred!”
“So you’re sending three army groups in on the ground, blind in the sky and with no way to even tell where the enemy are, to be massacred instead?” demanded Wallace. “No, gentlemen, we have to turn their own trick on them. We have to overwhelm these ray gun things with sheer force and numbers! We have to get those bombs falling on their targets and get those paratrooper boots on the ground seizing their objectives and holding them in the Nazis’ rear! We especially have to start hitting their major industrial and population centers, even if only as retaliation for their goddamned Flying Bombs on Frisco and Sacramento! And above all, we have to get those satellites back on line, so we can see what the hell we’re doing and what they’re doing, and get that goddamned picture of me barking like a crazy mutt off people’s TV screens! What the hell do you think that does to our national morale, never mind mine? Admiral Brava, you will now do three things. First, you will immediately send orders for the second wave of bombing and missile missions to take off and hit their objectives like they should have done hours ago. Secondly, you will immediately order the planes from the navy carriers to take off and begin their attacks on the urban areas and enemy infrastructure along the old I-Five corridor, as they should have done hours ago. Finally, you will order the airborne assault planes to take off and drop those paratroopers. We will get this show on the road, dammit!”
“Sir, it’s the middle of June, the longest days of the year,” said Brava desperately. “The sun doesn’t set out there until almost 2200 hours, midnight our time, and that means the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne and the 75th Rangers will be dropping in daylight onto targets surrounded by large concentrations of enemy troops who have not been softened up by so much as a single bomb, ready and waiting for them on the ground! The Northmen, or whatever the hell Janet wants to call them, will be able to see them all floating down, with the western sun at their backs and mostly in the eyes of our own men. It will be a slaughterhouse!”
“Then get the second wave of bombers and Cruises in the air and soften them up!” shouted Wallace. “Jesus Christ, man, I know I’m commander-in-chief, but does that mean I have to micro-manage everything and tell you your job?”
“Night jump, Hector,” suggested Scheisskopf quietly. “Sir, with your permission, we’ll hold off on the jumps until after dark, to give the second air attack wave time to do whatever they can in the face of these ray gun weapons or whatever they are. The darkness will shield our men from ground observation to a large degree, and at least let most of them hit the dirt alive without their chutes getting shredded in the air by small-arms fire.”
“Night drops are always hard, especially if the drop zone is blacked out, and there’s always disorientation and more difficulty in re-assembling on the ground,” pointed out General Battaglia.
“I know, Lou,” said Scheisskopf. “But better that than our boys drop right into a hornet’s nest in full light.”
“Fine, send them in at night, then,” said Wallace. “In the meantime, we need to bend every effort and put every technical geek we have working for the U.S. government to work on finding some way to kill that damned virus and get our satellites back up and running. It’s not just the military aspects we need; these racist motherfuckers have screwed up civilian and commercial communications throughout the entire industrialized world, except of course for the Russians. The economic damage will be incalculable.” He looked over at Secretary of State Modlin. “Dave, could you track down Ambassador Nichevsky, apologize for the lateness of the hour and the suddenness of this request, but ask him to come and see me at nine o’clock tonight?”
“Will do, sir,” said Modlin with a nod
“I’ll at least begin the process of bringing pressure on Big Bear to let us have access to their own military surveillance satellites, which despite their denials are mostly turned on us, I’m sure. Well, us and the Chinese border, but I’m sure they have enough capacity to make up for our lost eyes in the sky, if we can persuade them it’s in their interest to do so. No doubt they’ve cut some kind of deal with the Northwest—sorry, Janet, the racist entity. We’re probably going to have to make them a better offer and buy their help, the damned vodka-sodden pigs.” Wallace looked at his watch. “Well, gentlemen, I have some things I need to take care of. We will reconvene here at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, and by then I expect to hear much better news about our progress.” Wallace got up, the rest of the people around the table rose as well out of courtesy. Angela Herrin, Janet Chalupiak, and Ronald Schiff followed the president out the door.
“What the hell does he have to take care of that’s more important than a war we’re ten hours into and already losing?” wondered Brava aloud.
“Missed his seventh inning stretch,” said Secretary of Defense.
“The hell you say!” snapped Scheisskopf. “The situation on Operation Strikeout is already critical, we’ve lost our satellite intel and a lot of our communications as well, the Jerries have some kind of fucking Star Wars light saber that’s sweeping our planes from the sky like a broom, he just tossed off a couple of casual orders that will result in the death of thousands of American pilots and soldiers when they hurtle headlong into an enemy of unknown numbers, location, or capability, and he’s taking a slut break?”
“You obviously haven’t met the fetching Ms. Halberstam,” said Modlin with a dirty leer.
Hunter Wallace was in bad mood, and so his session with Georgia in the executive lounge off the Oval Office was more than usually kinetic. The president had just stepped out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist when his personal phone beeped. He picked it up and glanced at it to see who was calling, then opened it. “Yes, Dave?” He listened for a bit. “On his way? Good. I’ll see him in the Oval Office in ten minutes, then. Is the Rooski bastard sober, could you tell?” He listened again. “Okay, well, maybe it’s better if he isn’t. Tell housekeeping to send up a bottle of our best vodka and put it on the sideboard.” He closed the phone. “Hey, babe, I’ve got an ambassador I need to see in there and get liquored up before I start twisting his arm. Would you mind going on up to the residence and using the shower up there?” One of Wallace’s little oddities was that outside of their multifarious deviate sexual acts, he was unfailingly courteous and considerate to Georgia.
“Okay, sure,” said Georgia, easing herself painfully up off the sofa and picking up her clothes. “Duty calls and all that.”
Wallace’s phone rang again, and he answered it. “Yes, Admiral. Good. How soon will the paratroops follow the second wave? Yes, I understand, they have to drop in after dark. All right, that’s good. I’m seeing Nichevsky now and I’ll check in with you for a progress report in a couple of hours.”
When Georgia got up to the presidential bedroom and out of range of the in-house spy cameras, she whipped out her phone and brought up Birdie’s latest home-made program, one she had been given that morning in the Zombie Master’s office. She quickly texted, Second bombing wave on the way. Paratroop drop to follow after sunset Homeland time, don’t know where. HW meeting with Russian ambassador now. She punched in a code number and a color photo of a white iron garden table surrounded by greenery appeared. There were plates of food and a large glass of iced tea on the table. The photo blinked and flickered as her text was coded and inserted between the individual pixels of the image. Then she texted again. Hi, Talia. Got to eat supper in the Rose Garden tonight. Fajitas from the WH mess, yum yum! I stay with this gig too long I’m going to get faaaat!
Georgia hit send, and then went into the bathroom to clean up and shower. The image went to Talia Halberstam, and was copied to Robert Campbell’s phone. Campbell was at Birdie’s place in Arlington, where he loaded the image onto a laptop and used a second program to decode the hidden message. He read it, swore out loud, coded the information into another program, encrypted it and sent it off to WPB headquarters in Olympia via a special uplink to a Lazarus Bird, one of the American spy satellites that the Republic’s Technical Warfare Division had hijacked and turned on its makers, and which was still operational. Within minutes the news was headed for the Northwest Defense Force General Staff, and thence to the NDF military commanders in the field. Many of them knew that the airborne troops were on their way before the officers of the 101st and 82nd themselves received their orders from the Pentagon CENTCOM.
Another order to the NDF went along with the intelligence of the impending airborne assault: “No prisoners.”
* * *
The sky over Wolf Creek, Montana was deep blue and melding into purple as the sun finally set after the long June day; a few stars were now visible. HH Battery of the TWD’s new Special Antiaircraft Weapons regiment was set up on a hilltop overlooking the old Interstate 15, now known as Border Highway. There were three short flatbed Mercedes trucks, bearing blue, white and green roundels on their doors. Each truck carried a Bluelight projector and the radar tracking and targeting system. Beside each flatbed was a smaller truck carrying the alcohol-fueled generator that powered each unit. Behind them were several more trucks used to transport the crews and miscellaneous gear and spare parts. Deployed in the brush all around the Bluelight weapons and crew was a full company of NDF riflemen and a battery of .75-millimeter fieldpieces to guard the Bluelights and their crews and prevent their capture; the Bluelight trucks themselves were equipped with explosive charges to destroy the machines rather than let them fall into enemy hands.
“Bogies coming in at twenty-two thousand feet from the northeast, sir,” called out the primary radar operator, Sergeant Marla Thompson. “Thirty miles out and closing.”
“Firing positions!” called the battery commander, Captain Billy Ray Downing. His crews jumped off the ground and out of their vehicles and clambered up onto the flatbeds. Downing was a lean and weatherbeaten Texan from Amarillo who had done five years of a ten-year jolt in Huntsville for using a forbidden racial word in public during a fender-bender traffic accident, before he escaped and headed Northwest. “How many, sarge?”
“Ten of them in a cluster, Mach 2. From the speed and individual mass looks like Cruise missiles,” she called out. “Judging from their course I’d say they’re headed for Missoula.”
“Charges?” called out Downing.
“Full bars!” called out each of the three gunners behind their projectors.
“Lock on targets!” ordered Downing. “Take ‘em in incoming sequence.”
“They’re splitting up and taking what looks like evasive action, sir,” called Sergeant Thompson.
“Probably detected our radar,” said Downing. “Distance?”
“Twenty miles and closing, sir.”
“Okay, boys and girls, wait for it. Give me a shout when they’re about six miles out, sarge.” Downing lit a cigar and puffed on it for a while.
“Six miles, sir!” called out Thompson after a minute.
“Start zapping ‘em,” ordered Downing. Blue needles of light cut through the sky. The plasma beams crackled again and again. Blossoms of flame appeared high in the air to the northeast, and the rumble of explosions rolled down like far-off thunder. “How are we doing, Marla?”
“Seven down!” called out Thompson. “Eight down! Nine!”
“Number one gun’s dry, sir,” called out one of the soldiers.
“Three’s dead as well, captain!” called out another.
“One bogey still in the air, sir!” reported Thompson. “Almost overhead.”
“Lieutenant Farina? How’s your charge?” asked Downing, walking over to one of the flatbeds.
“Two bars, sir,” said Farina raising his muzzle almost perpendicular to the ground. “One more shot.”
“Make it count, son,” Downing told him. “That bogey might be the one loaded with anthrax.” The projector crackled, the blue thread hissed upward, and a bright light like a flashbulb exploded overhead. Cheers and rebel yells around from the troops all around. “Good shooting, Lieutenant!” Downing picked up his radio. “Elvis, this is Hound Dog One,” he said. “Got your ears on?”
“I’m right here, captain,” called out the infantry company’s CO, trudging out of the bush in full field gear. “Congratulations to you and your crews on an outstanding performance.”
“Duly noted and appreciated, Captain Banks,” said Downing. “Those bad birds may have been carrying bioweapons or degraded uranium warheads, and some of the crap may be coming down with them, so you’ll need to get your boys to do some sweeps with their detectors. Most of any fallout will come down over the road on their side, but the wind might blow it over into the Republic.”
“I’ll get my men on it,” said Banks. “You got our next bug-out?”
“A deserted ranch a couple of miles south of here,” said Downing. As a precaution, the Bluelight batteries always changed positions after every firing sequence. “CMI says their satellites are still down, but those bogeys may have been tracked or alerted their bases to our position when they detected our radar.”
“I’ll start getting my guys packed up and ready to move,” said Banks.
“Any sign of movement over the road?” asked Downing, jerking his head to the east.
“I sent a couple of patrols over, and all they saw was a couple of jack rabbits. Other than that, not a soul stirring. We were at least expecting some Ranger Recons to leg it over, but apparently that hasn’t happened yet.”
“The more fools they, then. We need to un-ass this area and get set up in the new location ASAP, so we can get charged up,” said Downing. “Let’s hope the Americans haven’t figured out yet that it takes almost an hour to fully recharge a Bluelight projector.”
* * *
By dawn the news began to trickle into the Pentagon War Room, and it was unbelievably bad. The second wave of bombers and missiles on the eastern front had been decimated, this time losing almost three hundred aircraft and as many Tomahawks and Predator drones. The third wave from the aircraft carriers off the Pacific coast was hit even worse; the Hornet and the Hillary Rodham Clinton had not one single plane return to the ship. A few of the stealth bombers had gotten through and hit their targets, but even without further losses, American air strength was now crippled for the rest of the war. Not only that, but large numbers of people were now known to be keeling over and dying from phosgene gas poisoning in the streets of Sacramento and San Francisco.
Details were sketchy, but the overwhelming majority of the airborne assault troops sent to secure rear positions behind the NAR lines and draw troops away from the main invading columns died in the flaming C-130s that now littered the prairies and the forests and the mountainsides of the Inland Northwest. The transports had tried to evade the Bluelight projectors by coming in low, almost at treetop level, and by zig-zagging and other evasive maneuvers. But that had caused its own problems, and at least some of the Hercules had crashed into the ground due to pilot error in the dark. Others had fallen to extensive ground fire from artillery, shoulder-fired missiles, and small arms, and the closer they got to their designated targets, the more likely they were to run into a Bluelight battery concealed in a gully or behind a rise.
Some of the paratroopers had reached their drop zones, or somewhere near their drop zones. The evasive maneuvers had confused navigation, and in many cases whole sticks of paratroops jumped and ended up falling into the Douglas firs of the Northwest forests, or simply miles away from whatever road or rail junction or small town they were supposed to occupy and hold. The scattered NDF battalions all over the countryside homed in on the invaders wherever they hit dirt, surrounded them, and killed them all. Sometimes companies or larger units of Americans were able to seize a hill or small crossroads town and dig in a bit, but the dawn brought NDF troops and tanks and the deadly .75-millimeter and self-propelled .88-millimeter guns to blast apart whatever defenses they were able to erect. By noon on June 20th, every single unit of the 101st Airborne, the 82nd Airborne, and the 75th Ranger Regiment were out of contact, and without satellite surveillance the Pentagon had no idea where they were or what was happening. The Northwest had swallowed them up.
“Jesus wept!” moaned Vice President Jenner. “Tens of thousands of casualties on our side, and we haven’t even laid a glove on these racist motherfuckers yet!”
A rumor went around that the distracted General Albert Scheisskopf was wandering the corridors of the Pentagon, ranting and raving to himself, shouting out, “Hunter Wallace, give me back my divisions!”
D-Day, 0800 hours June 19th – 0800 hours June 20th
NDF military casualties – 32 dead, 84 wounded
NAR civilian casualties – 27 dead, 112 wounded
United States military casualties – 4,677 dead. 2,940 wounded
United States civilian casualties – 212 dead, 811 wounded
Aztlan military casualties – 890 dead, 1,366 wounded
Aztlan civilian casualties - 7,598 dead, 13,000 wounded or gassed