Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A little technical point to be considered for American Spring

   Yesterday, I commented on "Operation American Spring," which is a "protest march" designed to oust corrupt politicians from office. Here's an issue that MUST be addressed in order to successfully remove corruption from DC.
   Until the politicians are caught and removed from their office they are still office-holders. Government is THE PEOPLE, not buildings and cities. No politician loses his office or the authority of their position simply because they are not in the capitol. To remove a corrupt goverment, you must get hold of those IN government.
   From 1775 to 1781, the Second Continental Congress moved SIX TIMES.
   May 10, 1775 – December 12, 1776, Philadelphia
   December 20, 1776 – March 4, 1777, Baltimore, MD
   March 5, 1777 – September 18, 1777, Philadelphia
   September 27, 1777 (one day only), Lancaster, PA
   September 30, 1777 – June 27, 1778, York, PA
   July 2, 1778 – March 1, 1781, Philadelphia

   They still remained the government, even though they were on the run from the British.
   "Operation American Spring" must not be restricted ONLY to DC, it must be NATIONWIDE. The second the politicians get on a plane or out of town, it is all for naught.

I'm still here! A personal look back at 2013

   2013 is coming to an end and I look back at all I've seen, thought of and done.
   Many things have happened in the course of this past year.
   January 2013 started off "bleak" for me.
   First and foremost, my mom passed away on Dec 20, 2012 and I was still reeling from that. Even though I had not seen Mom in months due to work and other issues, I still called, talked, chatted, etc.
   America was about to embark upon another 4-year excursion on the Highway to Hell. (Elsewhere, it is called a Communist Regime.) Our rights, primarily the Second Amendment, were under attack by a corrupt Regime intent on disarming us.
   All hell was breaking loose in America, it seemed. AP-Gate, NSA-Gate, IRS-Gate, Benghazi, EPA-Gate...the list goes on.
   Meanwhile in my own life, I could only stand by and watch with utter helplessness as I watched Lady Liberty be pounced upon by a malicious Regime intent on destroying the very liberties I would have died defending.
   I started to see a faint glimmer of sunlight when the Senate gave Barack Il Douche Obama and his gun grabbers the ultimate F*** You and rejected their draconian gun bills that would have surely triggered the Second American Revolution.
   Finances were a day-to-day struggle. The lack of a serious love life made me wonder if I was EVER going to meet someone worthwhile. Made me wonder even more if I was worthwhile to someone else. It's been a few years since I had a serious relationship. When you're 51 and living on the financial edge, you're old and broke. When you're not broke and 51, you are somewhat eligible. When you are wealthy, you are a very eligible bachelor. Sorry if the words hurt, but they're true, aren't they?
   My days blurred into dulling routine. Wake up. Drive. Work. Eat. Write. Go on the internet. Sleep. That's the life of a broke, single, aspiring writer. Weekends consisted of mainly writing, cleaning house, surfing the Net and sleeping.
   I simply "hunkered down," pinched pennies and continued working, hoping against all hope that I would make through the year and arrive alive and reasonbly sane at the ever-distant "finish line" on December 31st. Every day worked meant one day closer to being one less day in overwhelming debt.
   Meanwhile, in FB/Internet-land, I learned of friends and their sons who had died in Afghanistan. Since 9-11, I've lost LITERALLY 27 friends, and 13 sons of friends. Each funeral I could attend, I did. Each death reminded me that Islam is the enemy. Each funeral steeled my resolve not to let Islam's hellish offshoot, "Sharia Law" replace the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
   My views on Islam/Sharia Law have caused problems with friends. I have tried to explain to them, but if they hold a foreign belief or standard higher than the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that's their problem, not mine. I will NEVER revise my beliefs unless someone can PROVE, using LOGIC AND FACT, not emotion, symbolism or resorting to ad hominem attacks to show me my beliefs are wrong or misguided.
   August 27th reminded me of a lesson everyone forgets from time to time.
   Life is fragile and worlds can change in a second.
   I was in a truck that was T-boned by a twenty-something in a blinged out bitch-car. I had a concussion, a Type 2 knee sprain (as bad as you can get before you need surgery to fix it), and that ruined my plans to go to DC and participate in the protest march on 9-11. I wanted to go so bad, but it was not meant to be. Story of my life.
   While I'm working at writing, sad to say, my efforts have not paid off like I'd hoped. If rejection slips were paper, there wouldn't be a tree left on the planet. The only things that kept me going were the encouraging words of two writer friends, Ann Crispin and Tom Pine. Ann told me my work was "almost there" (meaning of suitable literary quality to merit publishing). Tom said basically "I can't figure out why you're not published. But keep going...you'll make it."
   September 6th taught me how much a person I never met in person meant to me. Ann died of cancer. Like a candle going out, you know? My tribute to her on these pages was probably HS writing quality at best, but I meant every word. Her passing renewed my flagging desire to become a published writer. It may take years, but I will be published or die trying.
   The lesson was reinforced in October, albeit in a lesser way.
   My oldest cat, a "fawn colored" (predominantly gray with some white/darker gray highlights) Manx (the tailless cats) died in her sleep October 26th. I'd had her since 1995, and her wheezing purr,  high-pitched meow and attitude was generally something I enjoyed coming home to. I used to hate it when she would chew/slobber all over my shoelaces. Waking up in the AM, finding cat-slobber on them---yuck. Then she'd meow and look at me with those big green eyes and I knew she was a sweetheart though I'd cuss her for chewing on my shoelaces.
   November was the first glimmer of REAL hope in my future. Things started slowly changing. A casual conversation with a co-worker brought a black bundle of energy
into my house. If I don't kill Woomi for sticking her wet nose in my eye at 3AM or walking across my head at 4 with cold paws, I might keep her forever! :)
   Hard work pays off. As bills were paid off, I found myself not worrying about "making it to payday" as much as I once did. The phone calls from creditors dwindled and hearing the phone ring is not quite the dreadful experience it once was. I resolved to keep working and put in more effort to move up so to speak.
   If I sound bitter, disappointed and such, please forgive me. I'm trying to explain in a way while 2013 was a bitch of a year, it did not turn into the grandiose disaster I thought it would be. In my own way, I've survived 2013. Some times I was down to eating Top Ramen noodles (good snack, not a good, filling meal) just before payday to make sure I had enough money to pay for gas.
   2014 is only a few hours away. I cannot help but to wonder what happens next year. I could have some "fun" asking, "Will I--"
   --be involved in freeing America from tyranny?
   --sell my writing?
   --meet a good lady?
   --be abducted by aliens?
   --pose for Playgirl?
   --develop a miracle cure for Liberalism?
   I wish I was clairvoyant so I could answer those questions.
   The most fitting line from a movie I can use to sum up my year and attitude comes from the movie "Papillion."
   The movie shows the trials, tribulations and ultimate escape of Henri Charriere. At the end, Steve McQueen is floating to freedom on a little raft made of bagged coconuts and looking up at the sky.
  The final line in the movie sums up my path through 2013 to a better life perfectly.
   "Hey, you bastards! I'm still here!"


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thoughts about "American Spring."

   There is call for yet another "protest march" on Washington, DC.

   I will post my observations under each comment (where appropriate) taken directly from the Facebook page site "Operation American Spring."

   Restoration of Constitutional government, rule of law, freedom, liberty “of the people, for the people, by the people” from despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.


Millions of Americans will participate.
Last September "The Patriots Guild" said they had 5 million people "ready to roll." Only people who were "ready to roll" were the bikers.

American veterans and patriots are energized to end the tyranny, lawlessness, and shredding of the US Constitution.

Government is not the target, it is sound; corrupt and criminal leadership must be removed.

Those in power will not hesitate to use force against unarmed patriots exercising their constitutional rights.

Patriots may be killed, wounded, incarcerated.

There is no hope given today’s technology of secrecy for the effort nor do we want it secret.

No argument with the above statements.

Concept of Operations:

Phase 1 – Field millions, as many as ten million, patriots who will assemble in a non-violent, physically unarmed (Spiritually/Constitutionally armed), display of unswerving loyalty to the US Constitution and against the incumbent government leadership, in Washington, D.C., with the mission to bring down the existing leadership. Go full-bore, no looking back, steadfast in the mission.

   This is a mistake, "ASSUMING" millions who will assemble. WHERE are they going to assemble? (Rally points. Who will guide/control the movement of people?)
   The "how" is not exactly clear here. Are we expected to sit on our asses with our thumbs up our bums and minds in neutral? The "Occupy" movement stayed MONTHS and what did they achieve? They achieved zero decimal shit.

Phase 2 – One million or more of the assembled 10 million must be prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder removed from office. The senior republican in the US House of Representatives will become Speaker of the House and the US House of Representatives will elect a temporary President and Vice President of the United States. The U.S. Senate will take action to elect a new majority and minority leader.
   Again...HOW is the "will of millions" expected to transform into action WITHOUT ACTION?

   As required, the U.S. Congress will execute appropriate legislation to convene new elections or U.S. States will appoint replacements for positions vacated consistent with established constitutional requirements.
   Again, HOW does the "will of millions" transform into resignations and removals from office without action?

Phase 3* – Those with the principles of a West, Cruz, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Gov Walker, Sessions, Gowdy, Jordan, Issa, will comprise a tribunal and assume positions of authority to convene investigations, recommend appropriate charges against politicians and government employees to the new U.S. Attorney General appointed by the new President.

*All actions in Phase 2 & 3 will be consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

I'd like to see the references to this, please!

Date of Operation: “OPERATION AMERICAN SPRING – Beginning Of Tyranny Housecleaning, May 16, 2014, completion to be determined.

We are past the point of no return, thus must move forward with an effort to save our nation, as there is no other choice. We are asking, pleading with you, and any others that have resources, national voices, email lists, blogs, FB, Twitter, to call for a non-violent American Spring on May 16, 2014 in Washington D.C. We must appeal to ten million and more American patriots to come and stay in Washington, D.C. to stop the White House and Congress from total destruction of the United States. It’s now or never. God help us.
   "Stay in Washington D.C. and stop the White House and Congress from total destruction of the United States." How? With WHAT? Good intentions? Waving placards?
The law of nature rules. A fluffy, cuddly lamb gets eaten by a mean old wolf is not an illegal or immoral event…the law of nature. When some greedy, self-serving occupant of the White House or Congress, or elements outside America, is threatening our existence, our freedom, our liberty, our Constitution, our life resources, our America, then we fight back to destroy the threat and there is nothing immoral or illegal about it. When the government becomes lawless, then “we the people” no longer are obligated to follow the government … there is no law when government picks and chooses for political purposes or personal agenda. At this time the government is performing as a lawless entity……
   Show up without guns/the means to back up your talk with force and you're the fluffly, cuddly lamb that gets eaten.
A duck cannot be turned into a fox; an elephant cannot be turned into a flea; the laws of nature will not permit.

Likewise, a nation ordained and principled by the laws of nature, sovereign, free, with liberty for all cannot naturally become a nation guided by royalty, decrees, tyranny, elitist, self-serving criminals. The former has proven desirable, the latter has proven human pain.

“We can become a nation guided by royalty IF “we the people” beguiled by the government in surrender to our lusts for that which we have not earned –for what is not natural –if we have become intoxicated by unbroken success” as Lincoln proclaimed in March 30, 1863 call for fasting, humiliation, and prayer–we can very easily heap to ourselves leaders, and with itching ears, be turned from the Truth to become enslaved by the LIE.”

The United States of America (elephant) while embracing the “LIE” is teetering on the abyss of becoming a sniveling, blood sucking, undesirable nation (flea).

OPERATION AMERICAN SPRING will be a gigantic step in removing the flea infestation that is sucking the blood out of America.

We see no reasonable, hopeful sign that indicates there are honorable, loyal, mature, critical thinking, experienced people in government that understands the chaos about to rain down on America, nor do they care….our only hope is that “we the people” call, organize, and draw a few million patriots to stay in D.C. for an “American Spring”. It would be the catalyst to draw the line and bring to a conclusion a decision on the out of control government, one way or the other. America will rise up or surrender … for me, I only go to my knees in the presence of God Almighty … my knees will not touch the surface as a result of some piss ant occupant of the White House or a corrupt legislator, or outside element … I will fall to my death standing if necessary.

There is not much time and the only planning necessary is to select a starting date, which we will do soon, and then show up in Washington, D.C. on that date, and plan to stay for the duration. The goal is restoring the US Constitution as the law of the land, removing the lawless leadership. Will this be a cake-walk? No, it will be painful, and some people may die because the government will not be non-violent; some of us will end up in a cell, and some may be injured. If that’s what it will take to save our nation, do we have any choice? Freedom loving Americans will say there is no choice, we must begin the second American Revolution. Not with guns, but with millions of Americans demanding a return to constitutional government and the resignation of Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi and Holder as a start … then the constitutional restoration process can begin. An AMERICAN SPRING can be avoided only if the above mentioned officials resign.

Will our national patriot leaders step forward and declare, “send me”, I’ll lead? There are millions of veterans and patriots ready to follow and have said “I will go”.

I urge all organizations, groups, particularly veterans and military retirees begin planning to visit Washington, D.C beginning May 16, 2014. Keep tuned to Constitutional Emergency/Patriots for America www.patriotsforamerica.ning.com for updates and guidance.

'INVITE' and BRING EVERYBODY, to Operation "American Spring" who believes in Saving Our Constitution, Our free and sovereign STATES and The Republic by restoring the Rule of our Ninth and Tenth Amendment Supreme Laws of The Land, which limit them to only the eighteen powers and spending granted them as itemized under Article I Section 8 of OUR Constitution, UPON our elected and wannabe elected Republican and Democrat enemies of OUR Bill of Rights. Bring our Rights, wages and salaries back home to our States and the people, which have been incrementally usurped by our elected Republican and Democrat despots since the 1913 Trifecta of Tyranny and Treason.

Please bathe this effort in prayer as there is no personal agenda or gain save liberty, freedom, and restoration of constitutional government for “we the people”.

There are several organizations, in addition to this fb Event, organizing Operation "American Spring".

   Now that you've seen it, here's my OVERALL view:

  On the surface, it sounds all wonderful and powerful, yes, millions of UNARMED citizens milling about, hoping to do something creative and positive.
  Get fucking REAL.
   There is no provision to respond to government violence. NONE. Is this the "plan?" Set up a Tianamen Square kind of massacre to justify a call for ARMED REVOLT?
   The ONLY way you are going to see ANYTHING happen from this is if those "millions of patriots" SHUT DOWN DC IN ITS ENTIRETY. Shut down the roads, streets, schools, EVERYTHING. Nobody gets in or out of DC. People don't even go to the grocery store. You have to shut down EVERYTHING--including the government's ability to function.
   You MUST have the MEANS to defend yourselves and enforce your will. Those without guns get pushed around and ignored. Just ask the students at Kent State or Tianamen Square how not having guns helped them further their protests and causes. Those with guns make the rules. If you don't have guns, you're screwed.

   Some people who are reading this will be shocked, but I've been burnt once. I openly, eagerly supported the Patriot Guild's "March on DC." They said 5 million people were expected to show up. The expected patriots didn't show up.
   I was planning on going, but I had an auto accident and couldn't. But that didn't stop me from participating. I did what I could and started a (now-discontinued page) called "EMarch on DC" where angry cits would send petitions via phone, Email, FB, Twitter, etc., to get their point across. I only got 60 or so supporters. About 1/3 didn't send anything. Most sent something, which is better than nothing.
   If this march is SERIOUS about "Spring Cleaning" they won't waste time with BS speeches, petitions, etc. They will bring GUNS and have NO PROBLEM with using them to save America. That's what the Founding Fathers intended.
   Wake me when the REAL revolution gets started. I've had enough false hopes, promises and starts from the bullshit artists and wannabes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Some snippets from "None for Tribute"

   None for Tribute is about combatting space piracy.
   A decade after the devastating civil war and the Intervention by the Alliance to restore peace, Aster's World is becoming a thriving planet once more. The Treaty of Exmouth limits the number of ships and restricts the types of ships the Asterians can build.
   Bad mistake.

Chapter 1

April 15, 2559
Exmouth, Aster’s World:

   President April Guinn pulled a chip from her terminal with a gloved hand. She wiggled her finger experimentally and frowned as the seam of the gray glove chafed the skin on her left ring finger. Not again. She touched a button on her com.
   “Yes, Madame President?” the secretary outside responded.
   “Holly, would you ask Saundra to bring a pair of gloves, please?”
   “Yes, ma’am,” the secretary replied.
   “Thank you.”
   A moment later, Saundra Tiernan entered the room with a fresh pair of gloves.
   “Chafing, Ma’am?” the valet asked.
   “Yes, the seam on the left ring finger.”
   “I’ll take care of it, Ma’am. Do you require help?” Saundra asked as she laid the freshly laundered gloves on the desk.
   “No, thank you,” Guinn asked as she reached up, brushed a lock of light brown hair from her eye and waited for Saundra to look away. Guinn took a deep breath and awkwardly peeled the left glove off and glanced at her scarred finger on the scarred hand that once held a glimmering ring. She snapped out of her reverie at what was lost and quickly put the custom-made gloves on. “I’m finished,” Guinn said politely.
   Saundra turned around and looked at the inside-out gloves and saw a tiny blood spot on the glove Guinn spoke of. “I’m sorry about this. I'll speak to the tailor about it."
   “It’s all right,” Guinn said as she smiled at Saundra.
   Saundra picked up the old gloves, put them inside the packet and left the office.
   Guinn looked out the window and saw several genetically-engineered “hunting” butterflies resting on the window ledge and idly wondered how they got so far from the wheat fields the Rodinans tried to destroy during the war. A faint smile formed on her thin lips as their wings shimmered in the morning sun.
   A flat brown Rodinan wheat-moth was attracted to the shimmer and flew towards the butterflies. One of the butterflies rose from the ledge and flew at the wheat-moth. The moth flapped its wings frantically as the butterfly swooped down. Guinn could imagine the tiny legs of the butterfly grasping the wheat-moth tightly while it injected its venom. The butterfly flew upwards as the moth spiraled towards the ground, its wings flapping weakly.
   She picked up another chip and put it into the computer terminal. She looked at the monthly shipping losses as reported by the Secretary of Interstellar Commerce. The Asterian Merchant Marine was a shadow of its former glory due to the ten year Restoration of Peace. Guinn frowned and summoned the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Interstellar Commerce to her office immediately.


   “This is the fourth ship captured inside of three months. We are being deliberately targeted by pirates,” Guinn said bluntly.    “Why?”
   “There are many reasons,” Audrey Tuttle, the Secretary of Interstellar Commerce, replied carefully. “Mainly because the Treaty of Exmouth forbids our merchant vessels to be armed beyond a certain extent after many of our ships armed themselves and preyed on Alliance shipping during the Restoration.”
   “What weapons do our ships carry?”
   “Heaviest caliber permitted is ten centimeter guns in unprotected, manned mounts forward and aft. CIWS, or Close In Weapons Systems to handle shuttles,” Tuttle replied. “If we put anything remotely offensive on them, the Alliance will consider them warships in violation of the Treaty of Exmouth, and deny them Wormhole access until weapons packages conform to the treaty.”
   “Secretary Gillis, why hasn’t the Alliance done anything about this?”
   “Because the Narrows sits between the Mombasan League and the Imperial Chinese Empire. May I?” Gillis asked as he gestured to a tablet of paper and a pen. Guinn nodded.
   Gillis drew two arced lines facing each other on the paper. On the left is the Imperial Empire, the right is the Mombasan League. The gap between the two represents the Narrows. Down here--” Gillis said as he drew a circle underneath the two lines “--is Talbot. Up here--” Gillis drew a circle above the arced lines “--is Ariel, which is the furthermost outpost in the Alliance. The Narrows is the fastest route between Talbot and Ariel.
   “The Imperial Chinese Empire is exploring, but they’re looking more towards Rodina than the Mombasan League. The Alliance is using Ariel as a base for further exploration. The Imps know closing off the Narrows to us is a declaration of war.
   “Depending on how things work out, The Alliance might take the Mombasan League down and guarantee the Narrows remains open.”
   “What do the Imps think about piracy?”
   “As long as their ships are not detained, they don’t care.”
   “Detained is a mild word. Held for ransom is what happens. And the pirates are using the Mombasan political situation for safe harbor and the Narrows as their hunting grounds,” Tuttle interjected.
   “Why doesn’t the Alliance get involved?”
   “The Alliance does not want to anger the Mombassans by a show of force. The Imps might perceive it as a prelude to war. Also because the Mombasan League is not a stable government.
   “As a result of the politics, the Alliance retains a token and ineffective presence in the Narrows. A destroyer and two destroyer escorts with logistical support. They patrol, but not aggressively. The Alliance would do everyone a service by ending the illusion of protection. The pirates know if they attack the patrol, the Alliance Navy will put significant units there and end piracy,” Gillis explained as he saw the light of understanding in Guinn’s eyes.
   “Is there a way to avoid the Narrows?”
   “Going through the ICE is not an option because they are fanatic about security. The ships would have to take established routes and that would add as much time to the voyage. Then there is the inevitable customs hassles,” Tuttle said.
   “Ships leaving Tichenor for Ariel can risk the Narrows or take the long way around, circling behind the Mombasan League. That adds six to ten weeks time to a voyage,” Gillis said.
   “Would you care to venture why our ships are being targeted?”
   “They--” Gillis said, his voice trailing off.
   “Proceed, Roland. Truth is all I require.”
   “The pirates know that our Navy is being kept deliberately small by the Treaty. The Narrows is two hundred light years distant.”
   “Why can’t we protect our vessels? We have warships.”
   “The Treaty of Exmouth states we can have a Navy. The Alliance puts intense diplomatic and economic pressure upon any Alliance world that offers us first-rate or even second-rate warships. Thus we are stuck with buying new ships from non-Alliance worlds at inflated prices or making do with scrap the Alliance generally gives us. All have to conform to the treaty. No shuttle carriers. No battleships. No long-range destroyers. They remember how we mauled them when they invaded our world.
   “The Alliance fights even harder against us acquiring modern logistical support ships. Without logistical support, we cannot effectively project force. That is, we cannot send combat units outside of the Cluster and then keep them supplied. If we sent warships to the Narrows, it would take six weeks to get there with what we currently have and after they arrived, they could only stay two weeks before having to return for food. If we had a logistical chain, we could keep the task group supplied practically indefinitely.
   “Furthermore, our defenses here would be compromised. Our efforts are focused on watching the Rodinan, Laux and Leavitt Wormholes, and the Alliance shuttle carrier battle groups in the Cluster. Sixty ships can only do so much.”
   “I know, Roland,” Guinn said kindly, for rebuilding a battle-worthy interstellar fleet from scratch had never been done.
   “Do you have estimates on how much this costs us financially?” she asked Tuttle.
   “Every month, we lose two ships and their crews permanently. Every month, one ship requires dockyard work for repairs. Not counting cargoes lost to piracy, higher crew pay, missed sailing dates due to desertions, and increased insurance rates on our hulls and the cargoes we transport. I estimate at least twenty five billion credits every four months.”
   “It’s cheaper to order our ships to surrender and pay ransom,” Guinn said bitterly.
   “We’re not the only ones who can see our merchant vessels are being targeted. There has been a subtle publicity campaign by the Rodinans to question our ability to deliver the goods. And it’s working.
   “Reports of ships arriving at a port to find its scheduled cargo has been cancelled--and nobody has a cargo they want shipped on an Asterian ship. Those needing cargo shipped are more likely to use non-Asterian ships to transit the Narrows. We can only estimate the lost revenue.”
   “One hundred seventy five to three hundred billion credits every year in cargoes we don’t move.”
   Guinn placed her gloved hands on her temples and rubbed her prematurely graying hair. “My God! The tax revenue on that alone could further our rebuilding efforts without another tax!”
   “Yes, Ma’am.”
   Gillis watched the former teacher compassionately as he tried not to stare at her scarred wrists. One cuff of her sleeve moved to reveal the fringe of the scars few were allowed to see. Guinn saw his look and hurriedly lowered her hands and pulled the glove tight.
   “Mister Secretary, do we have any ships that could handle a mission to the Narrows?”
   “Not at this time, ma’am. Not without logistical support.”
   “I see,” President Guinn mused as she looked out the window again and saw the butterflies had gone.

Chapter 2

   “Unknown ship, this is the Asterian warship Camperdown. Heave to immediately or be fired upon!”
   “Warship Camperdown, this is Mombasan Dispatch Ship Cheetah, with Special Ambassador Okembe Dibo on board,” a thickly accented voice said.
   “Dispatch Ship Cheetah, heave to now, or be fired upon. This is your final warning!”
   The Cheetah slowed down dramatically, its Captain and crew fully aware of being under the guns of the cruiser.
   “Heaving to, Camperdown. Special Ambassador Dibo wishes to consult with your President. Flashing code to verify diplomatic status.”
   On the Camperdown’s bridge all eyes focused on the Tactical Officer.
   “Sir, receiving tattletale. Diplomatic code is valid from both our State Department and Alliance Ministry of State, sir!”
   “Very well,” Captain said resignedly. “Cheetah, our apologies for our response, for we did not expect you to exit the Rodinan Wormhole unannounced.
   “Welcome to Aster’s World. Proceed on course three two seven, mark zero zero zero for two seven minutes at twenty thousand Kay Pee Aitch. Your escort ship and shuttle will guide you on this frequency.”


   Ambassador Dibo smiled as he clicked his long fingernails together. “They never change, still thinking of the Rodinans,” he said smugly as the Cheetah’s hidden intelligence systems gathered information on the ships in orbit. “Fools.”


Government House,
Aster’s World:

   The Mombasan League of Worlds had duly issued Special Ambassador Dibo’s credentials. After his credentials had been verified by the State Department, Special Ambassador Dibo requested a meeting with the President. The State Department noted that Dibo had met with President Fontaine twice during his two terms in office and apparently nothing had come of them. The decision to bring Dibo to Government House was made.


   Dibo noted the secretary was new. The secretary worked on her computer terminal, her fingers moving efficiently. While he waited, Dibo mentally undressed and ravaged the secretary a dozen times while her effeminate fool of a President looked on in envy.
   The Ambassador clicked his long nails again and imagined the secretary working efficiently to please him. He felt a stirring in his loins and forced himself to wait for the President.


   Holly Reeves redefined the concept of “multi-talented.”
   Not only could she type ninety words a minute, she could draw her pistol from the concealed holster, deliver two head shots at a threat, replace the gun in its holster and resume typing in the time it took to type twelve words.
   Holly wasn’t typing a memo, she was relaying her observations to the security staff and President Guinn.
   “Overdressed, long nails, possibly sharpened for slashing.”


   “Madame, if you put him in the chair by the mirror, we can cover you perfectly,” the leader of her Protective Service detail said on the com as he saw Holly’s words on his computer terminal.
   “Then that is where he will be seated. Nobody knew why this man seen President Fontaine or what they discussed. I believe we will know shortly. Holly, define his manner,” Guinn said.
   “Came in arrogant until he sat down. Spent a few minutes undressing me with his eyes. Is focused on his task. He is starting to show signs of agitation," a bodyguard relayed from Holly.
   “I’ll see him in two minutes. Position the interior guards.”


   “The President will see you now, please forgive the delay,” Holly said as she rose neatly from her chair and went to the door.
   With a grunt of effort, Dibo rose and made sure his red turban was straight, its large blue-green sapphire looking like a third eye. Then he smoothed his matching red silk robe and walked into the office.
   “President Guinn, Special Ambassador Okembe Dibo,” Holly said as Dibo’s face reflected shock, then smoothly recovered.
   “President Guinn, a pleasure to meet you,” he said, stumbling over the unfamiliar name as he held out a hand and ignored the gray gloves.
   “The pleasure is mine,” she said as they shook hands.
   Dibo gripped slightly firmer than he normally did when visiting infidel worlds and did not see Guinn flinch. Silently dismayed at the failure of his opening intimidation play, Dibo let Guinn’s hand go.
   Holly closed the door behind her.
   “Please sit down, Mister Ambassador,” Guinn said jovially as she gestured to two cushioned chairs with a coffee table in between them.
   “Thank you, Madame President,” Dibo said as he sat down, and waited for Guinn to take her seat.
   Guinn sat down and leaned back comfortably in the chair, her head subtly protected by “wings” in the sides of the back of the chair that had the finest ballistic weave material under a decorative flowery cloth. She knew an agent was behind the full-length mirror with something called a “sawed off double-barreled shotgun” aimed precisely at the Ambassador’s head.    “There seems to be a question as to whom you actually represent, Mister Ambassador.”
   “I represent a consortium of businessmen. Maximum Leader for Life Ifruli was kind enough to make the Cheetah available and provide the appropriate credentials in order to speed my journey,” Dibo replied.
   Guinn stifled a snicker at the pompous title Ifruli awarded himself. She nodded encouragingly.
   Dibo folded his hands across his immense belly. “For the past six years, your predecessor chose to avail himself of the opportunity we offered to increase the efficiency of your growing merchant fleet.”
   “You are referring to President Fontaine,” Guinn said.
   “Yes,” Dibo said politely. “In the past, Asterian shipping has enjoyed protection as they transited the space known as 'The Narrows' as a result of a private agreement between your predecessor’s administration and the Mombasan League. With the consortium’s backing, I might add.”
   “This is the first I have heard of such an agreement,” Guinn said politely.
   “Some agreements are best kept secret.”
   “By interstellar treaty, the Narrows is declared open space by the Alliance, the Imperial Chinese Empire and the Mombasan League. Naturally, there is the usual fifty thousand kilometer distance declared sovereign space around each inhabited planet as defined by the treaty,” Guinn said.
   “The agreement the previous administration signed has expired, and the Mombasan League no longer can afford to offer protection to your ships. As a result, Asterian vessels are likely to receive a lower response priority if pirates were to attack,” Dibo moved his hands slowly, opening and closing his hands carefully as he placed them on the arms of his chair.
   “Mister Ambassador, you are deliberately attempting to confuse the situation. Since you do not represent the Mombasan League, it is safe to say that you do not have the authority to speak for the Maximum Leader for Life Ifruli. Yet you use words that can be construed as speaking for him. Who do you speak for?”
   “I speak for the consortium of businessmen.”
   “And what is the name of this consortium?”
   “There is no name.”
   “Since you do not speak for the government, you are not demanding tolls. You are demanding tribute.”
   “Those are harsh words, Madame President.”
   “Those are accurate words, Mister Ambassador, are they not?”
   “They are not.”
   “What word would you use to describe a transit fee through open space? Bribery? Extortion? 'Tribute' is the kindest word that came to my mind.”
   Dibo moved his hands back to his lap as he leaned slightly forward and looked her in the eye, a basic attempt at intimidation. “The tolls can easily be handled from the President’s Discretionary Fund before I depart for my next meeting.”
   Guinn looked at the man carefully, wondering how many planetary leaders had capitulated to his demand for money. She smiled pleasantly. “And if we do not pay tribute?”
   “Your predecessor paid tolls out of the Discretionary Fund, and your world thrived. I am told there are certain elements within the Alliance who would profit from the failure of your merchant marine. Should you choose to make the necessary payments, you will be able to deny those elements a chance to profit from your loss.”
   “What if I choose not to pay tribute?”
   “Then Asterian shipping may be in greater danger as it passes through the Narrows. Perhaps pirates elsewhere will also notice the inability of Aster’s World to protect its merchant fleet and prey upon your ships elsewhere in addition to the pirates in the Narrows. Why not follow the precedent President Fontaine has established and avoid any difficulties?”
   Guinn’s normally outgoing demeanor changed.
   “Because I was not elected President to follow a precedent established by an over-educated, under-balled coward who was intimidated by the likes of you,” Guinn said as she looked Dibo in the eye. “Don’t even think I didn’t notice the little extra squeeze in your handshake, the hard eye contact, the 'claws' ready to shred an enemy, and your hints of violence,” Guinn said as she raised up her left hand, mocking his 'display of claws' earlier. Dibo’s eyes focused on her gloved hand.
   Guinn peeled the glove off. She turned it so he could see the back of her hand.
   “Rodinan State Security used a torch on my hands when I refused to divulge names of my fellow teachers who taught our youth that patriotism is a virtue. I did not divulge names under torture from experts,” Guinn said proudly. Dibo glanced at the hand briefly and saw the lack of fingernails, the bloody cracks along the knuckles where the tissue never healed, and the tendons moving under the skin grafts as she wiggled her fingers. Dibo’s brief look of horror was replaced by anger as he tried to stare Guinn down.
   “You cannot intimidate me or Aster’s World. I have just decided that the Presidential Discretionary Budget has millions for defense.”

Chapter 3

May 24, 2559
Asterian Warship Otranto
Fleming Wormhole:

   President Guinn had toured most of the first Asterian-built logistics support ship before they entered the Fleming Wormhole. Having never been offworld, she was fascinated at the actions the crew took prior to entering the Fleming.
   “Otranto, this is Fleming Entrance Control, you are approaching the threshold. Clear horizons,” Entrance Control said.
   Captain Milburn smiled at the traditional farewell between sailors.
   “And to you, Fleming Control,” Milburn said. “Helm, take us in.”
   The Otranto accelerated slowly before it was grabbed by the Wormhole’s gravity. “Committed!” Navigation said as everyone felt a momentary increase of gravity before the gravitational compensators engaged.
   Guinn looked at the twelve meter screen that relayed the image from cameras mounted in the bow. The distant stars seemed to turn into lines as the Otranto’s acceleration increased.
   The hull began to vibrate. The Captain looked at the readouts on her monitor. “Engineering,” she said as the vibration increased briefly, then ended.
   “Port stabilizer lost alignment. She’s realigned, speed light times six and accelerating.”
   “Thank you.”


   After exiting the Fleming three hours later, it was simple to travel to the Tachibana Asteroid Belt to demonstrate the Otranto’s abilities.
   “Underway Replenishment details for cargo and liquids man your stations,” the Bo’sun’s Mate announced solemnly.
   “Helm, course two one two, mark zero, zero, zero. Speed, One Five Zero Kay Pee Aitch,” Milburn ordered.
   “Course two one two, mark zero, zero, zero! Speed, one five zero Kay Pee Aitch!” the OOD repeated.
   “Incoming laser com from the Camperdown,” Communications sang out.
   “Good afternoon, Otranto,” the Camperdown’s CO said jauntily. “Coming up on your starboard side, closing speed is five seven zero Kay Pee Aitch, distance seventy kilometers and closing.”
   “Acknowledged, Camperdown. The store is open.”
   Guinn watched the large Victoria-class battlecruiser move with an eerie precision despite the fact the maneuver never done by the reborn Asterian Navy. She felt a surge of confidence as the battlecruiser eased alongside and matched speed.
   “This is fast, isn’t it?” Guinn asked Secretary Gillis.
   “No, ma’am. The Alliance does them at eight hundred. The Neue Deutschlanders are the fastest in the Alliance. They routinely perform UNREPs at one thousand Kay Pee Aitch, and hold the record for an UNREP at twelve hundred. We’re a long way from that,” Gillis said softly.
   Guinn sensed she had inadvertently embarrassed Gillis by pointing out a shortcoming. “Sorry. I have never witnessed anything like this,” Guinn whispered.
   “Camperdown, maintain speed and bearing. Tubes coming across.”
   “Tubes are free and clear.”
   From the Otranto’s starboard side six tubes crossed the one hundred fifty meters distance between the two warships.
   “Transfer tubes connected, sir!” the Cargo Officer said.
   “Status of liquids?”
   “Water and lubricants one minute from connection, sir.”
   “Very well.”
   Fascinated, Guinn watched the camera that shown the space between the ships. Small solid fuel rockets carried the tubes and lines to the Camperdown where robotic grappling arms grasped the nozzles and connected them to water and lubricant intake ports.
   “Water and lubricant lines over, good connection.”
   “Begin transfer,” the Captain ordered.
   Guinn watched as crews in combat space suits using anti-grav units pushed and pulled pallets of cargo ranging from printer paper to a large canister that dwarfed the crew that moved it.
   “What’s that? How much does it weigh?” she asked Gillis.
   “Camperdown has a defective projectile feed mechanism in one of her turrets. The replacement weighs fourteen tons,” Gillis replied as he watched the crews push the pallet with the feed mechanism to the tube. “This is the most dangerous part of the operation, because we’re not using remotes to handle that piece. A crew will push it over to ensure it does not get loose.”
   “I see. The ancient axiom of cannons. You don’t let them get loose,” Guinn said quietly as the crew moved the pallet through the tube.
   “A crew from Camperdown is pushing the old feed mechanism through one of the tubes. Once they’re complete, and have returned, the ships will part,” Gillis explained as he gestured to the Cargo Officer’s station.
   Two petty officers watched the activity in all the tubes carefully. “Two clear!”
   “Four clear!”
   “One is closing!”
   “They’re sealing the tubes in preparation for separation,” Gillis explained needlessly.
   “I see,” Guinn whispered as the Otranto’s crew handed their pallet off to cargo handlers on the Camperdown. The Otranto’s crew climbed on board the powered dollies and raced back to the ship as the Camperdown’s hatch closed behind them.
   “Camperdown, we show all tubes clear of personnel, and tubes are secure on our end. Status of liquid transfer?”
   “Transfer of liquids complete, lines purged. Tubes clear of personnel, cargo hatches sealed.”
   “We concur, Camperdown.”
   “Otranto, thank you for the UNREP and separation at your mark.”
   “You’re welcome, Camperdown. Emergency separation in twenty seconds,” Milburn said softly so as not to be heard by the bridge crew.
   “Understood, on your mark.”
   “Mark.” Milburn pushed a button on her armrest. “This is a drill, this is a drill. Emergency break away! Emergency break away!” Milburn announced, then released the PA system button and looked at the screen.
   Camperdown detached the tubes and lines.
   “Helm, new course two zero seven, mark zero, zero, zero! Increase speed to one zero five zero Kay Pee Aitch."
   “New course two zero seven, mark zero, zero, zero, increase speed to one zero five zero Kay Pee Aitch!” the helmsman responded crisply.
   “Free and clear, Otranto!”
   “Understood, Camperdown,” the Captain said as she watched the battlecruiser increase speed and the sharpness of her turn.
   Guinn watched as the crew frantically retracted the tubes and transfer lines. Other crew members stored the powered dollies and reinforced the security of the empty pallets transferred from the Camperdown.
   Milburn pushed the PA system button. “This is a drill, this is a drill, General Quarters, General Quarters. All hands man your battle stations!”
   Guinn looked at the bridge crew, her surprise barely concealed. To her untrained eye, the crew was still responding to the emergency separation drill.
   “Tubes are retracted and secured!” the Cargo Officer said loudly.
   Three minutes later, Commander Heath sang out. “Captain, General Quarters are manned and ready, weapons are not run out!”
   “Acknowledged,” Captain Milburn said.
   “Captain, incoming tactical data from Camperdown!”
   Milburn looked at the tactical data Camperdown had sent, defining the scheduled, but undefined gunnery exercise.
   “Captain, targets identified! Shuttle carrier Moscow, destroyers Great Victory, Abakumov, Rossikovsky, with two “Worker” class logistical ships! No combat shuttle patrol at this time!” the Tactical Officer said. “Standard Rodent fore-and-aft replenishment formation. Bearing zero seven two, mark zero two four, speed eighty thousand Kay Pee Aitch!”
   “Helm, new course, three two five, mark zero two four, speed eighty-two thousand kay pee aitch!”
   “Course three two five, mark zero two four, eighty-two thousand kay pee aitch!” the helmsman repeated loudly.
   “Hang on,” Gillis said as he gestured to a handrail. Guinn grabbed the handrail tightly. One of her bodyguards approached with a waist belt and tether. “Put those on, Ma’am, we can pull serious G’s. Don’t need the President flying around,” Gillis grinned.
   “Run out!”
   “What the--?” Guinn asked Gillis as she studied the unmanned forward gun on the bow. She had expected to see the tiny weapon fire a few shots at an asteroid.
   “The Camperdown has sent our computer a tactical exercise. Theoretical fire will come from those locations, and Otranto has to maneuver and fire accordingly. If we score hits, we naturally reduce their weapons capability. If we don’t, we can get hit, and we have to shut down weapons to reflect simulated damage,” Gillis explained as “incoming fire” appeared on the screen and Otranto began evasive maneuvers.
   At eight places along the hull, large plates slid aside easily. From the superstructure cameras, Guinn saw two large turrets rise from their concealed platforms. The deck itself changed, raising in the center, yet below the upper gun turrets, forming sloping surfaces to deflect hyper-velocity rounds.
   The unmanned gun on the bow moved on its own, elevating and lowering and traversing from side to side.
   She glanced at the side cameras and saw the plates slide to one side and turrets slide out. A camera marked “Keel” shown two turrets similar to the upper gun turrets training their guns fore and aft. She turned her head to see Gillis' broad grin.
   "The Treaty of Exmouth limits weapons on capitol ships. No mention of what weapons we can put on a logistics ship."
   The Weapons Officer studied the tactical exercise data. A Hermes-class shuttle carrier’s silhouette was projected along with five other targets.
   The railguns spat out their hyper-velocity loads of death towards the Tachibana Asteroid Field.
   Gillis grinned at Guinn, who was enthralled by the unexpected display of firepower. The Otranto maneuvered as if the 'Rodinan battle group' had been surprised and was returning fire. At first, the fire was inaccurate, but eventually the Otranto was hit.
   Klaxons blared and commands were shouted as the destroyers fired desperately, putting themselves between the Otranto and Moscow. Five minutes later, the Moscow was blown in half and two destroyers were declared “combat ineffective.” The remaining destroyer circled the Otranto warily, just out of gun range. During the engagement, the Moscow had hurriedly launched fourteen shuttles that were swooping in to attack.
   “Close in crews, fire at will.”
   Along the upper and lower decks, smaller weapons appeared, clearly automated. Twenty millimeter rounds shot out to hit the computer-generated shuttles.
   “Cease fire, cease fire!” Weapons sang out when the computers indicated each “shuttle” had taken a sufficient amount of hits to destroy them before they had reached attack range.
   “Destroyed the Moscow, Rossikovsky, Abakumov, and damaged the Great Victory. All enemy shuttles destroyed.
   “The log ships got away, but one suffered a minor hit. Great Victory is trying to get away, speed eighty-two thousand Kay Pee Aitch. Shall we pursue?”
   “Negative. Damage report.”
   “Hits along port armor belt, non-penetrating, recommend reversal and repair from inside the hull, Captain. No casualties.”
   “Otranto, this is Camperdown. Exercise completed. The spirit of the Victoria lives on.”
   The bridge crew swelled with pride at the compliment.
   Guinn looked at the Secretary of the Navy as she watched the reactions of the proud, yet silent bridge crew. “Roland, I don’t understand this.”
   “When the Alliance‘s Intervention began, the Victoria was in Alliance space. She destroyed several Alliance warships and acted as a commerce raider as she worked her way home.
   She was nearly cornered several times, and after evading a Grosse Deutschland task group, she ran smack into a Rodinan shuttle carrier group.
   “She attacked, knowing the chance of victory was slim. She fought bravely, but there was too much firepower. By the end of the engagement, she had taken down two of the destroyers and one of the fast support ships that tried to ram. The Moscow spent two years in repair status. The Great Victory was eventually scrapped. Not a bad performance considering they were outnumbered, outgunned and low on ammunition.”
   “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
   “We were going to show you the gun decks, however our late start on getting aboard made us curtail the tour. Since you wanted to see a Transit, we decided to finish the tour later,” Gillis said.
   “Are we done?”
   “Yes, we are,” Gillis said as he watched Captain secure the ship from General Quarters.


   At the end of the voyage, the Otranto’s crew had assembled in the Cargo Bay, the only place the entire crew could assemble.
   Guinn stood before the crew on a raised platform with Captain and Gillis and a Cargo Handler.
   “I honestly lack the words that express my pride in your performance and in your ship. When I see this fine ship in your capable hands, I know our world is just a little safer tonight. When I see the crew, I see professionals. I pray that training exercises are the only thing you ever have to do, but I take comfort in knowing that if you ever have to fire your guns in anger, you will live up to the spirit of the Victoria. Crew of the Otranto, I salute you,” she said as she raised her gloved hand to her eyebrow in salute.
   Secretary Gillis nodded to Captain Milburn who faced President Guinn.
   “Ma’am, on behalf of the officers and crew of the Otranto, thank you for your kind words,” she said as she gestured to the forward cargo area bulkhead. A tarp covered a ten meter square section of the bulkhead.
   “We have endeavored to follow the traditions of our Navy as we remember them before the Intervention. And with our rebirth, we have instituted new traditions.
   “Every ship has a crest. Unlike many navies where a ship’s crest is designed before commissioning, our tradition holds that the crest is designed by the crew during the first operational voyage.
   “Petty Officer Layton designed our crest,” Milburn said as she gestured to the large man who stood quietly.
   Layton stepped forward and pushed a button that lowered the tarp.
   The Otranto’s Crest depicted a hand and forearm, covered with gray chainmail armor holding a double-edged sword aloft. Under the crest the simple inscription of “Nullus Pro Tributum.”
   “Shipmates! What does Nullus Pro Tributum mean?” Layton asked.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Some thoughts on book-banning and Political Correctness (NSFW!)

   I read an article online showing 49 school districts tried to or banned certain books that were "offensive."
   One of the books was "The Diary of Anne Frank," an eyewitness account of the Holocaust from one who did not survive it.
   What the fuck?
   To be fair, some books should be age-restricted, based upon EXCESSIVE sexual content, drug usage, etc. (i.e. you don't give a 7 year old a copy of American Me.)
   But what is REALLY going on with some of these schools?
   Political Correctness.
   "Political Correctness" is the modern version of the Soviet term "Political Concern." Aleksandr Solzhenytsin first wrote of it in his epic "The Gulag Archipelago." In Stalin's day, if you didn't say the right thing, kiss the right ass, the "Black Marias" (cars used by KGB) would come by and you'd get "a tenner" under Article 58 of the Soviet Penal Code. Ten years of hard labor, then ten years of "internal exile" (meaning when you got out of the gulags, you didn't go home, you went elsewhere for 10 years).
   If you don't say the right thing today, you are crucified by the "objective" media, labeled unspeakable things by people who are "offended" by what you say and hounded mercilessly. Heaven help you if you shoot one of the "concerned citizens" when they come knocking on your door to hand you a petition declaring you a slimeball.
   Solzhenytsin ran afoul of Article 58the first time for criticising Stalin in a letter to a friend. He ran afoul of it the second time for writing the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago. Only his fame in the West prevented him from getting shot.
   Like then, writing can get you into as much trouble today as speaking your mind.
   When I was growing up, "SCHOOL" was a place to educate and challenge young minds. I mean "educate" as in teaching what a student NEEDED to become a productive, contributing member of society. I don't mean "indoctrinate with BS." I mean schools taught math, science, reading, history, civics, etc., so a child could get a halfway decent job upon graduation, understand the "adult" world around him, and all that fun stuff.
   They didn't waste time teaching about "Global Warming," "Heather has Two Mommies," "Climate Change," "Daddy's Roomate," "Eating Vegan is Good for You" and "Why we should kiss Muslim ass while they blow us up in the name of their religion of peace."
   Crap like that back in the day would NEVER have made it in through the front door of the school, much less be taught by a responsible teacher. Back then, school was about teaching knowledge, not indoctrinating the kids to become good little Democrat (communist) drones.
   When I was growing up, I became a voracious reader. My parents forbid me NOTHING except for porn/erotica. I'm sure Dad didn't like me dragging Mein Kampf home. He freaked when I brought home The Gulag Archipelago at age 12. He thought I was trying to impress some brainy girl, until I told him what it was about. I was learning about our world and how it came to be in the state it was in.
   I was forming my own opinions because the SCHOOL I went to taught me one thing that is apparently hard for a lot of today's educators to stomach.
   I was taught to THINK.
   Today's "activists" use the classroom as an indoctrination center where they can spew their BS to kids who MUST remain in class or Face The POWER of The State. Eight hours of potential indoctrination a day.
   That's why "Heather has Two Mommies" and "why we should be worried about the polar bears on the growing (I meant to say shrinking, oopsie!) icecaps" (and other useless subjects) are taught in school.
   Then you have narrow-minded, braindead parents and school administration who want to ban books for various reasons.
   I was taught to THINK. When I first read The Gulag Archipelago, I thought it was too long, too wordy and too detailed. I plodded through it and began to see the subtle similarities (THEN) between Communism and Democrats.
   The similarities between Communists and Democrats are not so subtle these days. Thus to these two groups of people, I'm a threat because I won't buy into their BS.
   Thinking is definitely politically INcorrect.
   What is worse? The seriously-confused/idiotic parents who are afraid of their kids learning about the world and has to candy-coat everything. Or the activist "educator" who can abuse the power of the classroom to turn a potential free mind into the perfect Democrat.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A little "snippet" for all to ponder.

   For all my new FB friends, I have a surprise for you. I'm an aspiring military science fiction writer, and I more than occasionally post my writings here for fun and constructive criticism.
   The following snippet comes from a "work in progress" named "The Legion Way." I posted the original idea last summer, but I've improved it, and given today's attitudes, I felt maybe my FB friends and family would like to close their eyes and imagine...

   When the Alliance of Man formed its army, they asked member nations to cede units. France ceded the Foreign Legion on the condition its methods AND traditions would never change.
   In the year 2564, the non-Alliance planet of Alcinor is at war. The religious, feudalistic-leaning nation of Colmar needs advice to defeat the Socialist-Progressive Union, pseudo-religious Communist trash hellbent on enslaving Colmar.
   The problem is that both sides use WW2 technology and few Alliance soldiers know anything about it. Giving the Colmarans modern technology is impossible due to the non-interference treaty the Alliance has with the Imperial Chinese Empire, who is supplying advisors to the SPU.
   The Alliance sends 42 Special Purpose Forces "operators" and recruit Jon Walker from the Legion Division for his expertise in mid-20th Century weapons and tactics to advise and train the Colmarans. 
   Jon is made a Captain in the Colmaran Army and ordered to observe V Company on its first mission. After the company is nearly wiped out, the company commander is executed and Jon is put in command. 
   The Colmarans tell Jon to blend a company of tanks and a company of infantry into a new unit, trained the Alliance way.
   Jon teaches his company The Legion Way of making war. He is promoted to Major and turned loose on the Progressives.

The scene:
   When a counterattack goes horribly wrong, Visigoth Company (Jon's unit) is trapped behind SPU lines and unable to return. Jon selects a target of opportunity, not knowing Fate has selected a new target of opportunity FOR the Visigoths!

The Escape

   “Young, put me on the landline,” Jon said ten minutes after the vehicles departed.
   “You’re on, sir," the reed-thin radio operator said.
   Jon picked up the phone. “Visigoths, there is no way we can make it home tonight as a unit, nor will be we able to escape detection by staying here tomorrow. Inevitably, the Progs will come here. To avoid detection, we will go further north far to escape their sweep. Tomorrow night, we will double back and make a run for the border. When we move out, we will take up double column formation. Oracle will take point. Usufruct will be lead tank on right. Serenity will bring up our rear on the left. Kill the radios, we move in ten.”


0430 hours, 65 KM north of No Man’s Land:

   The Visigoths took up a defensive position in a patch of woods similar to those near Marx Lake. Jon ordered a dismounted recon platoon to check two barns shown on the special maps.
   Jon sent runners to bring the platoon leaders to his tank in the middle of the defensive perimeter. Naughton returned with the recon platoon quickly.
   “Sir, the barns are clear. We’ll be able to just barely cram everyone inside,” Naughton said breathlessly.
   “Are they abandoned?”
   “They’re not being used, just like we thought. They look like massive tobacco barns. Nobody will go inside them until late winter now the tobacco has been sent to market.”
   “All right, we go. I want landlines rigged between the barns pronto. Myself, First, Second, Sixth and Seventh platoons with support in the left barn, the rest in the right barn. Even though the blizzard isn’t letting up, I want each tank to start dragging pine trees behind it to help fill and cover our tracks. Once we’re in the barns, we’ll wait the day out and proceed to our target as soon as its dark.”

Information Overload

0430 hours, Haven:

   “Morning,” Beth said as she headed towards the coffee pot in the large meeting room of the house the Baron of Thessaly made available for the RouĂ© Society staff.
   “Good morning,” Doctor Everett Ames said courteously. “Did you sleep well?”
   “As good as can be expected,” Beth said. “Do we have a staff roster set up to help the hospitals with our patients?”
   “It’s on the bulletin board. You’ll be working day shift with Mercy General’s emergency room in case they need help with battlefield overflow. A car will pick you and the others up at six. Shift starts at eight.”
   “Thanks,” Beth said and poured a cup of coffee. She held up the pot. “Need a refill?”
   Beth filled Ames’ cup and put the pot back on the counter.   “Any word on when we can return to Beriah?”
   “Tomorrow, if we’re lucky,” Ames said.
   Beth headed towards the living room where several doctors and nurses watched a television.
   The Prog announcer wore a black suit with a red-fringed priest’s collar at his throat.
   “A few hours ago, our valiant forces repelled an invasion spearheaded by the Colmaran’s Second Division. The elite Lord’s Own Brigade retreated in such disorder not even the Colmaran’s enforcer company could stop them from running from the righteous fury of the Third Brigade of the Tenth Guards’ Division. Aided by the God of our forefathers, our valorous forces sent the savages known as Visigoth Company under the mass-murderer Captain Jon Walker to the hell they rightly deserve.”

The Decision

0455 hours, 78 KM north of No Man’s Land:

   “Everyone’s inside?” Jon asked Stratton.
   The tall executive officer took off his helmet. "Everyone except sweeping teams, Major. Between their sweeping and the snow, nobody will know we’re here. Platoon leaders are coming.”
   “Make sure the sweeping teams get in the barns by zero five thirty. Bring Master Sergeant Mikloth up to me,” Jon said.
  “Sir,” Stratton said and hurried off.
   A moment later Mikloth joined Jon. “Sir?”
   “Walk with me, Master Sergeant,” Jon said quietly and began walking to the far end of the barn. “I have an idea.”
   “Crusaders look a lot like T-34s and we have our fuel trucks. We can hit several targets in Scandicci at the same time and totally throw them into a panic,” Jon said with a grin. “We hit the power plant, television station, airport, the main police station and their tank turret factory in one shot, then withdraw before they figure out what happened.”
   “Troops won’t like engaging civilians. Many Colmarans have relations on the other side of the border,” Mikloth countered.
   “Civilians not engaged in war work are not to be targeted. By attacking key facilities like we did in Tuscany, we force them to redeploy forces to catch us. It might weaken their defenses on the front and gives us a chance to get back. If nothing else, it fucks them up.”
   “We could get killed for nothing.”
   “The chance does exist,” Jon said as they reached the end of the barn and turned around. “But we could get killed trying to go straight home. If we play our cards right, we can make them come this way while we slip off into the night.”
   “What if we cannot make it home, sir?”
   “The Legion fights to win. If we can’t win, we fight to survive. If we can’t survive, we’re going to take as many Progs as we can with us,” Jon said fiercely.
   “How do you want to handle it, sir?”
   “Will the troops trust me?”
   “If you can make the mission make sense, they will.”
   “All right,” Jon said and looked at the platoon leaders gathering around Stratton in front of Usufruct.
   Jon and Mikloth joined the platoon leaders and Stratton. “Hawkins, bring me the white tube.”
   Hawkins climbed down from Usufruct, a long white plastic tube in his hand. Jon took it wordlessly and unscrewed the end of the tube.
   “Don’t ask me where these came from,” Jon chuckled and passed out nine tightly rolled bundles of maps produced by the Ilya Starinov's cartography division. “Gather around,” he said and laid his map on the ground.
   The others chattered excitedly at the incredibly detailed maps of the Socialist-Progressive Union and looked at Jon. “That’s how I knew to come here,” he chuckled and pointed to his map. “We are thirty-six kilometers from Scandicci. There’s one target we can hit and totally fuck them up.”
   “What?” Lieutenant Naughton asked.
   Jon pointed a thick finger to three red-striped buildings marked “People’s Armament Company.”
   “We won’t be able to get through their defenses,” Keene blurted.
   “We’re already though their defenses. What do they have here, police? Whatever is in their transient facility on the east side of town? Whatever they have is not as good or as cohesive as we are. The bulk of their combat units are in staging areas waiting to invade. The only thing stopping us from going to Scandicci now is daylight. We’ll stay here until dark before we hit Scandicci hard enough to cause the Progs to redeploy their forces. Then we take advantage of the chaos. Ideally, they’ll be looking elsewhere for us while we slip through their lines.”
   “It would hurt their morale,” Keene said thoughtfully.
   “Given the situation, I will not order you to go to Scandicci. I ask you to follow me to Scandicci. Go back to your units and tell the men what I have in mind. Every man must decide for himself whether we go straight home or hit Scandicci before going home. I want no pressure brought upon the men at all. Any questions?”
   The officers shook their heads.
   “I want the results in fifteen minutes. Go.”
   Stratton remained behind after the others departed. “Sir, we need to talk.”
   “Go ahead.”
   “I’d never question your judgment in public, but I must say something.”
   “Say it,” Jon said.
   “After all your teaching about discipline and how leaders must be obeyed without question, you are letting the men vote on this?”
   “This is an extraordinary situation. If I ordered it, the men would do it, but there would be grumbling and doubt. Some would think I’m a glory-hound and not give us one hundred ten percent. If they think it’s a good idea, they’ll give us one hundred twenty percent. The fact that our serfs could be manumitted is a factor to be taken into account,” Jon said.
   “Do you really think we can get to Scandicci?”
   “The only thing stopping us from going anywhere is sunlight. I’ll explain the details once we find out where we’re going,” Jon said and pulled a nicstic out. He lit it and cupped the glowing ember with his hands. Stratton nodded and left Jon alone to contemplate the assault and its aftermath.
   Get to Scandicci. Observe the city, spot patrol patterns for cops. We can use the Crusaders to get in close because they resemble beefed-up T-34s. It can be done as long as we go in slow and look like we belong. The infantry will ride inside the tanks. Then we strike and haul ass before the local police and any local forces react.
   Advantages: It’s fast and will be a good psychological blow. It will infuriate the Progs and cause them to divert forces from the front to get us.
   Disadvantages: Tanks are vulnerable in urban terrain without proper infantry support. But yet, the Progs aren’t expecting us. This isn’t Tuscany; it’s a city loaded with cowed civilians and no anti-armor weapons readily available. If there’s anyone who can pull this op off, it’s us,
Jon thought as a beatific smile grew on his haggard face.
   Stratton cleared his throat, snapping Jon from his thoughts. Behind him stood the platoon leaders and Padre Gouliot. “Sir, we’re going to Scandicci. Every man said ‘yes’ within two minutes of being told.”
   “Outstanding,” Jon said, fighting the lump in his throat. “I’ve got a basic plan worked up in my head. Gather around and I’ll show you what I’m thinking,” Jon said and spread his map on the ground.
   “The concept is simple. When it gets dark, we split up to carry out mutually supporting missions to hinder the Prog’s response and create confusion.
   “Primary target will be the factory. I will take First platoon tanks, the scout platoon and Fifth platoon’s dismounts to hit that.
   “Target two will be these transient quarters here. Used as a rest stop for convoys according to my people,” Jon said, pointing to a gray-shaded building on the map on the northern edge of Scandicci. “Second and Sixth platoons along with Fifth’s vehicles will hit their compound hard and run before they can counterattack.
   “Targets three, four and five will be engaged with artillery fire. Third platoon and half of Seventh platoon will disperse to advantageous firing points. Boxers will do the shelling, the Crusaders hold fire unless armor shows up. They will shell the airfield, local power plant and telephone exchange. Don’t go hog-wild on shelling. Fire ten rounds per facility and cease fire; we’ll need the ammo later. When we send the signal that we are withdrawing, you will stand ready to throw fire on anyone trying to cut off the other forces, clear?”
   “You said half my platoon, what about the other half?” Keene asked.
   “Your platoon sergeant will command those Boxers,” Jon said and pointed to the map, ignoring Keene’s incredulous look. “Lieutenant Keene, you will take the television station here to provide chaos,” Jon said and looked at Lieutenant Royet.
   “Fourth Platoon and a few dismounts from Eighth Platoon will stand by on the outskirts of Scandicci. If we need support, you’ll provide it. Headquarters and the rest of Eighth platoon will take up a position west of Scandicci and set up our objective rally point and wait. When we return, we stay long enough to refuel and rearm. This little mesa about ten kilometers west of Scandicci should be sufficient. If not, let me know.
   “The idea is to convince the Progs a larger force is attacking than is actually attacking. Ideally, the Progs will divert units from the front to hunt us down.”
   “What about after the missions? How will we get home?”
   “For now, we go to the mesa, reload and refuel and see what the Progs do. Their reaction will determine our way of getting home.”
   “Sir, our challenge and password will be outdated,” Naughton said.
   “Correct. If any of the God’s Fist tanks get through, Colonel Obermeyer will know to use the ‘blind cue card’ we have set up. It consists of questions only we know the answers to. If necessary, I’ll lead the way across No Man’s Land on foot. We will get home, I promise you. Does this mission make sense so far?”
   “Wooot!” the officers said with matching feral grins.
   “All right. Now that you have your targets, plan your missions and get those plans to me and we will give the Progs a swift kick in the balls. Questions?”
   There were none.
   “Start planning and make sure everyone gets plenty of rest, especially you leaders,” Jon said and stood. The platoon leaders stood and headed towards their units. “Lieutenant Keene, a word?”
   “Yes, sir.”
   “Lieutenant, I have an idea on how to further fuck the Progs, but I need your help to make it happen,” Jon said.
   Jon took a deep breath. “I want you to capture the government television station and keep them broadcasting. The people must see we can hit them when we want and where we want. I think the attack will make them question how much truth they get from their government and their news outlets. I want you to call for an uprising against the SPU. I don’t care what you say or how you say it, but I want our names to be synonymous with absolute chaos.”

Dies Irae!

2000 hours, 2 KM from Scandicci:

   Jon lay on his stomach, oblivious to the snowflakes landing on his back. The city was just barely visible. The streets were virtually deserted, save for a few cars moving slowly here and there. A few snowplows moved in a vain effort to keep the roads passable. He lowered his binoculars and looked up to the snowy sky. “God, give us the strength to finish the mission and get home. Ave.”
   He moved backwards on his belly and stood up when he was certain he would not skyline himself. “Platoon leaders on me,” he said to DeLuca. The little clerk scurried off.
   “I never thought we’d get this far,” Mikloth said.
   “You and me both,” Jon said. He absently covered the binocular lenses while the platoon leaders and Padre Gouliot gathered around him. “We’re here, we’re undetected, so we’re going now.”
   “Thought we were going to wait, sir,” Stratton said.
   “I would rather get going before visibility and road conditions goes to shit and delays us further. The snowfall will drive noncombatants indoors, the cops will worry more about road conditions and domestic violence than anything else. We’ll have a better chance getting into position than if we wait. We execute in one hour.”


   “I hate that fucking song,” Jon growled as the Internationale blared out over loudspeakers mounted on light posts.
   “Something big has to be going on,” Fox said from the loader's station.
   “Boss, cop car just turned the corner and is coming our way,” Hawkins said.
   “Is he talking on his radio?” Jon asked.
   “They may have receivers only. We’ve passed dozens of telephone boxes marked, ‘Official Use Only’,” Young confidently offered.
   “Good thing the Progs wear winter uniforms too,” Jon said and tried to look commanding as the police car passed slowly. He keyed the microphone. “Tango Seven elements, keep an eye on him. Do not put him in your sights.”
   “Boss, something’s going on. Check out the electronics store on the right,” Oglethorpe said on the radio. “They’re announcing something.”
   “Find out,” Jon said.
   “Car’s out of sight, Tango.” Sergeant Ryland said from the rear of the column.
   “Roger,” Jon replied.
   “Boss, you must see this now,” Oglethorpe barked on the radio. “You got to see this!”


   “I tell you, those tanks look funny,” Officer Vernon said. “That’s the third column in less than an hour.”
   “They’re ours,” Sergeant Kale replied.
   “The last tanks are bigger,” Vernon persisted. “The turret is closer to the center.”
   “It could be a newer design to defeat the new Defender tanks.”
   “So why aren’t they on the front defeating them?”
   “The newest tanks are always put to reserve first to work the bugs out, then they send them to the front. These must have been assigned to the Union Guards.”


   “Let me get this straight. The Patriarch is in town and about to give a speech in thirty minutes?”
   “Yes,” Solomon said hurriedly. “The building is called ‘Hall of the Martyrs’ where a bunch of Progs were killed by a bomb. Said we did it and declared war.”
   “That explains the tanks,” Jon said.
   “Those are the Union Guards--the Patriarch’s special protection unit,” Solomon said hurriedly. “Battalion size, all fanatics. They are good at what they do.”
   “The building cannot be as well secured as the Progs’ capitol building is. That’s why they’re running tanks tonight. The last time he was here was when he declared war,” Naughton said.
   “Makes sense,” Jon said. “What happens when he makes a speech?”
   “The bigwigs make a grand entrance, take their seats, the choir sings their national anthem, Fiutti opens with a prayer and then begins babbling bullshit,” Solomon said.
   Jon dug out his map. “Get all NCOs, except the gunners and RTOs here now.” A minute later, the NCOs formed a horseshoe around Jon and dropped to one knee.
   “Don’t ask questions, just listen,” Jon barked and stared hard at his eager subordinates. “Patriarch Fiutti will be giving a speech in less than thirty minutes. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity because nobody will ever get two platoons of infantry and a platoon of tanks that close to him. If we drive right up, they’ll shit bricks and evacuate the building while calling the Union Guards on us. So we’ll continue the charade of being patrolling soldiers. We get within one block and Mikloth, me and six men with PPSHs will drop off. We’ll go to the carport and enter from there,” Jon said decisively. Naughton and Solomon, drop your guys off two blocks out. Double-time it to the one block mark, then walk quickly unless I say otherwise. Given the fact we’ve spotted roving armor, it’s possible there will be foot patrols closer in. Clear?”
   “Clear,” the officers said.
   “When we’ve cleared the carport, we’re committed. Keep your rifles out of general view until you get inside. Some Progs might actually know the diff between an AR64 and a PPSh.”
   Jon looked at the television showing minor politicians and bureaucrats moving towards their seats or mingling in small groups. The camera cut to the singing choir.
   “Sir, see how the podium and the seats for the Speaker and honored guests are surrounded by the choir? How are we going to handle this? Gonna have to be really precise unless you want us to kill kids on television,” Mikloth said.
   “Children, my ass,” Jon said and tapped the window. “Look at that. See those four directly in front of the podium? See how tall they are compared to the rest? They’re lip-synching. They’re there to block a shot from the journalist’s area. Look at their robes, do you see even the slightest hint of tits on the two females?”
   “Wearing bulletproof vests,” Mikloth said. “Have to make the head shot if you’re going to use your pistol. Clear them and take your best shot at Fiutti.”
   “We’re not using pistols. I’ll go in first and drop Fiutti with the first burst before they can stand up. Mikloth, give those four the full magazine when they stand. Your piece will probably shred whatever they’re wearing.”
   “How do we get to that chamber once we’re inside?” Naughton asked.
   “None of us know the layout," Solomon opined.
   “I’ll figure it out when we get there. Mount up and let’s get going.”


   Ten minutes later, Jon looked at the men crouched behind Usufruct’s turret, all clad in white snowsuits.
   “Dismount!” Jon said and took a confident step off Usufruct a block from the National Assembly building. One by one, the soldiers jumped off the tank. Jon started brushing off his snowsuit. “Get my back.”
   “Hold still,” Mikloth said and brushed the snow off Jon.
   Jon drew his .45 and screwed the suppressor onto the threaded barrel while the other men brushed themselves off for the neater appearance needed to approach the entrance. He slid the AR64 behind his back to hide it from general view and looked around.
   “Ready,” Mikloth said and unslung his PPSh.
   “Party time.”


   “Hope this works,” Mikloth murmured three minutes later as the eight men moved up the neatly plowed drive in two rows of three with Mikloth leading with Jon slightly behind him.
   “Me too,” Jon said and continued the charade of being a radio operator doggedly following his officer.
   The two guards in dark blue uniforms fringed with red watched the eight men approach. One guard snapped to attention, his hand resting comfortably on his holstered pistol.
   “Now,” Jon said.
   Mikloth stepped smoothly to his right as Jon segued into a shuffling movement known as “slide and glide” that reduced bouncing and increased accuracy on the move. The .45 ‘chuffed’ twice, ending the first guard’s life. The second reached for his pistol and turned towards the door when the pistol chuffed again.
   “Go,” Jon said tightly as the second guard’s body fell backwards. Mikloth and Abiel pulled the bodies behind several snow-covered bushes. “Look for cameras!”
   “Looking,” Dobra said purposefully. “Looks clear!”
   Oleander and Caleb took their places by the door and peered inside. “Clear. No guards visible,” Oleander panted.
   “We have crossed the line of departure,” Jon said into the microphone suspended from his helmet webbing. Anyone picking up the brief message would associate it with something else. If it was picked up at all.
   “We’re moving up to the line, White Able Fox,” Solomon said on the radio. “Grid six one four, two nine seven.”
   “Still clear,” Oleander said.
   “Let’s do it,” Jon said and opened the door. Scrunching his face up at the smell of heavy incense, he went to the right of the hallway, followed by Young and Deluca. Mikloth walked down the left side of the hallway, followed by Caleb and Oleander.
   A woman stepped out from a restroom, purse in hand, a brief smile on her face until she spotted Jon. Her cry died in her throat as Jon raced forward and shoved her against the wall brutally, the pistol at the back of her neck. “You want to see tomorrow?” Jon hissed.
   “Oh, Lord in Utopia, help me now,” she babbled, her eyes closed.
   Jon slapped her on the back of the head with his free hand. “Shut up and listen. If you want to keep living a pain-free life, you do what I tell you. Tell me how to get to the auditorium.”
   Jon pressed the pistol to the outside of her right eye. “A shot won’t kill you at this angle, but you will be blind for life. Tell me how to get to the Patriarch.”
   Jon flipped the safety off. “Last chance before the lights go out. How do I get to the Patriarch?”
   “Nobody will know I told you?” the woman said frightfully.
   “Nobody and you will live afterwards, unharmed and untouched by me or my men, I swear by God’s holy name. Where is the Patriarch and how do I get to him?”
   “The auditorium. Go down this hallway, turn right, first left, then you’ll see a little alcove.”
   “How many guards?”
   “Two or three. It’s the journalist’s entrance.”
   “On the line, catching up, George Nine Six,” a new voice reported. Jon knew Solomon’s men were entering the building.
   “If you’re lying, I’ll have my men do worse than blind you. Are you telling me the truth? Last chance.”
   “Yes, please do not hurt me.”
   “Check the bathroom,” Jon said firmly to Caleb then frisked the woman for hidden weapons or a portable phone. Finding none, he tossed her purse down the hallway.
   “Clear,” Caleb announced.
   “Stand guard on her until Solomon’s crew catch up, then rejoin us. Don’t be late for the party.”


   “We have learned the oppressed serfs are not eager to pursue the war with the vigor their noble masters desire. A communication our forces intercepted indicates ‘Visigoth Company’ was recruited for the purpose of keeping the oppressed from deserting or surrendering. Under the command of an offworlder mercenary, this unit was given special perks and benefits in exchange for enforcing their master’s will over the oppressed.
   “Not even the psychotic Visigoths could stop us from fulfilling our solemn promise to deliver the heretics to Him for their Day of Wrath,” Patriarch Fiutti said as the choir rose for the next song.


   “Usufruct, this is Mother Fokker. Contact at our hold point. Looks like a flying column of sorts. Engaged one tank so far, but there’s more with it,” Lieutenant Grenier said over the clanging of the spent shell case in the background.
   “Damn it,” Jon muttered softly and keyed his microphone. “Mother Fokker, do what you have to do to keep them away from here, but keep moving and keep me informed. Do not let yourself get trapped. Break. All elements, stand by to execute!” Jon said urgently and hurried to the intersection where two guards protected the elite of the Progressives’ society.
   Applause drowned out the four shots Jon fired into the guards’ heads. Absently, he reloaded and stuck the pistol into the holster while the choir profaned one of the holiest songs of Jon’s religion by singing it in the name of an oppressor on the other side of the door. Caleb rejoined the team quickly.
   “Prisoner handed over. Solomon says his men are covering our primary egress route and can have the tanks here in forty seconds,” Caleb said.
   “Good, on my signal open the door.”
   I am Your Instrument of Vengeance. Give me the power to deliver Your Wrath!
   Mikloth put his hand on the right door handle, Caleb on the left.
   This is my moment in time. The world will be changed because I changed it!
   Jon looked behind him and saw Solomon’s men moving up confidently, eager for the fight ahead. Jon made sure his balaclava was in place and snugged the butt of the AR64 against his shoulder, the muzzle pointed towards the ground in the “forward low ready” position and keyed his microphone. “Execute.”


   Beth stared at Fiutti on the television, her teary eyes narrow, hateful slits as the choir accepted the ovation. A few seconds later, they took their seats as the applause ended and the double doors to their right opened.
   A man in a white snowsuit entered, his rifle raising towards the Patriarch as he shuffled across the floor gracefully. “Dies Irae, motherfuckers!”

Situation Room, Haven, Colmar:

   General Aram Goudeau’s eyes focused on the lead man’s equipment. He wore a backpack radio, the microphone attached to his head with helmet webbing. The black sheath of a saperka was strapped to the outside of the dark green backpack radio, the pale wood handle accessible to the right hand. The muzzle of the AR64 rose a split second before the bodyguards directly in front of Fiutti could block the shot.


Residence of the President of Colmar:

   Simoneau watched Fiutti’s white shirt turn crimson. After delivering a second burst into the crumpling body, the man fired a burst into Fiutti’s wife wearing the red-fringed white robe of the Speaker of the People. Her body fell onto Fiutti’s as more men entered the room, PPShs, light machine guns and AR64s firing.


   “Stay down!” Jon shouted at the terrified children over the roar of Mikloth’s PPSh blasting the four tall bodyguards directly in front of Fiutti’s podium. Solomon’s platoon followed Jon, their weapons blazing fury as they efficiently secured the exit doors and began the slaughter. Fourteen seconds later, Naughton’s platoon entered from the western-most doors and opened fire on the Prog elite in their sectors. A few lucky people managed to escape through the double doors in the rear before Naughton’s men moved up the center aisle and prevented further escapes.
   “Verify your targets and do not waste ammunition!” Naughton bellowed.
   “Aim low! Shoot through the seats!”
   The commands of his subordinates faded in Jon’s mind as he raced up the stairs to the right of the Patriarch’s podium, the muzzle moving left to right.
   “On your six!” Mikloth said and smoothly changed magazines.
   “Gotcha!” Jon shouted without looking behind him. Primitive rage commanded him to exterminate every Prog in range for nits made lice. Professional ethics demanded he execute the mission with the highest level of perfection while minimizing non-combatant casualties.
   Professionalism won.
   Mikloth fired a finishing round into one of the bodyguards, oblivious to the terrified children mere meters away, huddled behind their chairs. “Front four, clear, going left!”
   Jon reached down and pulled the Speaker’s body off Fiutti’s, then emptied the magazine into both so there would be no doubt the reigning duo were dead. Absently, he pulled the empty magazine out of his rifle, turned it to access the second one taped to it and inserted it into the rifle smartly.
   An Oriental-descendant man in a black uniform fringed with gold rose from behind a chair, his right hand pulling a pistol from a shiny black-flapped holster.
   Jon smoothly shifted the rifle to his left hand, half-spun and grasped the saperka’s handle with his right. “Shangxiao!” he shouted to distract the Colonel and flung the balanced entrenching tool with all his might, expelling his breath with a loud grunt.
   The pale wood handle became a spinning blur before the matte-black head punched through Kuang’s sternum to the handle. Kuang stared dumbly at the handle protruding from his chest before the rising muzzle of an AR64 entered his line of sight.
   Kuang raised his head and forced himself to stare into the sea-blue eye peering through the sight aperture. Kuang blinked to clear his vision in the hopes of saving his life by looking his killer in the eye. The pistol in his hand grew heavier and fell to the carpeted floor a second before a three-round burst blew Theng Kuang’s head apart.
   Jon pulled the saperka from Kuang’s chest. “Have a nice day, bitch.”