Sunday, October 31, 2021

Random Musings on a Rainy Saturday

I need to give the Muse a few days off, she has been working overtime. Also, I am preparing for yet another trip to Sandy Eggo later this week. Though the task seems Sisyphean at times, it pays rather well.

The quote above from Cicero really rings true to me, as most of you know, I am something of a history buff. I was watching a documentary on Netflix called Being Napoleon. It's about the events and people leading up to the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo which was held on the field itself in 2015, the 200th anniversary of that fight.

Some of you might recall that I was at that reenactment when it was held twenty years prior to that in 1995, I wrote about that here. Seems they do it every five years, though, as I recall, it wasn't held in 2020. I think you all know why.

Anyhoo, here's the trailer for that documentary -

Now the leading quote and the documentary are tied together in the following manner ...

Thomas Jefferson and Napoléon Bonaparte are walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans ... (not really, but in the documentary they are) ... and the man playing Jefferson mentions their shared love of history to the man playing Bonaparte. Jefferson attributes to Cicero the following -

"A people must never forget their history. If they forget their history, they will be like schoolchildren all their lives, ready to be led, rather than to lead themselves."

I couldn't find that exact quote so I used the one I did find.

As to that last quote, all I can say is "Hear! Hear!"

As a people we stand to lose everything which those who fought for gained at the cost of their lives in times past. The country is currently headed down a dangerous path. Do what you can to arrest this fall. Otherwise we are all in peril.

That is all.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Mud Season

Ye Meihui knew she was lost. After escaping Albany in a stolen car, having acquired a much better firearm, she had headed west. She had tried at more than one place to get fuel for her vehicle. The first two had been deserted and looted.

At the third, a man inside the small store next to the fuel pumps had fired a shot at her, she had taken cover and yelled at the man to cease fire. All he had done was yell an obscenity and fired another shot.

She waited, she wasn't here to kill Americans, she was supposed to be helping them, but that mission had fallen apart nearly as soon as it had started.

"Don't shoot! I'm a friend!" she had yelled from behind her stolen car.

"Goddamn Chinese bitch!" had been the man's reply.

She waited, then she realized that the guy was approaching, she also felt that he'd been drinking from the way he had slurred his words.

She moved carefully to the rear of the vehicle, she leaned forward from below the car's bumper. There he was, weapon extended, it was apparent that the man had had some training, but not nearly enough. He had come into the open, exposing himself. He was focused on the front of the car, assuming she'd be taking cover behind the engine compartment.

She watched as the man stopped, she brought her pistol up and cocked it. The man seemed to sense her presence and slowly began to turn in her direction. She fired a single round at his torso. The man seemed to stumble as the round hit him in the chest.

The man coughed and dropped to one knee, she could see blood coming from his mouth. The man tried to bring his own pistol to bear, reluctantly she fired again. The man's head snapped back, she had hurried her aim, which caused the round to go high. Instead of hitting him in the chest, the round had hit him in the forehead.

"Damn it!" Ye hissed, she had wanted to ask the man questions, but he would not be answering again in this lifetime.

She moved towards him, her pistol aimed at him, she knew he had to be dead, but her trainers had beaten it into her, literally, assume nothing. She circled around the body, the man's eyes were glassy, staring at nothing, most of the top of his head was gone, still, she kicked his pistol away from the body.

Looking around, she could see a single house, up the muddy road a short way. She had no idea if anyone was home, she had to be quick. She went into the store and found some road maps of the area. The scale was too large but it was better than nothing. She grabbed a few items from a shelf, out here the looters hadn't been as thorough.

Returning to her car she was fixated on the dead man's body, she had never shot anyone before. Stabbing that policeman back in Albany had felt different, he had wanted to rape her. Shooting someone seemed impersonal somehow. It was then that she smelled gasoline. Looking under the car she saw a widening puddle.

"Damn it!" she hissed once more. The man's wild shots had holed her fuel tank.

Billy Kasparian was driving the MRAP, as he rounded a corner on the very muddy road he saw a gas station ahead. Sprawled next to the pumps was a dead man. There was a car next to the pumps as well. He brought the vehicle to a stop and woke everyone up. Something was wrong here.

Sgt. Jefferson suggested that the civilians stay in the vehicle, she would take her fire team out to investigate. Jack Bishop readily agreed.

Ye Meihui watched the military vehicle roll to a stop from her vantage point up the road. She was in the house she had seen from the gas station, a house which had turned out to be deserted.

She watched as the American soldiers dismounted and quickly checked out the scene around the fuel pumps. She wondered what they would do next. She had her answer soon enough as one of the soldiers went back to the vehicle and talked briefly with the driver.

The vehicle moved up the road, the soldiers using it for cover as the big military vehicle headed directly for her position. She had to make a decision, she needed to get out of the field and somehow report back to her superiors. But there was a very good chance that the soldiers would simply execute her.

It was obvious from the family photos around the living room that she didn't live there, they might tie her to the abandoned car at the fuel pumps and thus to the dead body.

She was at the edge of her ability to keep functioning. It was time to surrender, or maybe die. At this point, she didn't care which, she was tired.

SFC Levine rapped on the door to Colonel Tanaka's suite of offices, MACS Sorge opened the door and let him in.

"Anything yet?" Levine asked her.

"We just had a document messengered over from the Capitol. Seems that somebody in the State Department has a pet judge over at Superior Court. The warrant was sworn out by the White House Chief of Staff, some goon over at State vouched for him. Those bastards need to be rooted out." Sorge was rather vehement on that point.

Colonel Tanaka came out of the office along with interim President Rutherford and Admiral Fairchild, who had been reinstated as the Chief of Naval Operations. Tanaka had grown to trust the man, the Navy and most of the Marine Corps seemed to have actually paid attention when they had taken their oaths. However, the Commandant of the Marine Corps was one exception which had nearly broken Tanaka's heart.

The Commandant was being held in an empty office in one of the basement levels, he was being guarded by sailors. Gunnery Sergeant MacAllister had cautioned against using Marines, the consensus among them was that the Commandant was a traitor and should be shot.

"Thank you, Mr. President, we'll take care of this." Admiral Fairchild looked at Tanaka and said, "You better update your uniform Jeff, er, I mean Commandant."

Tanaka gave the admiral a sick grin, "Not how I wanted to get here, Harry. Senior Chief Sorge, call down to the barracks, we're going to need a platoon and a couple of vehicles, armored if we have any."

"Roger that Sir." Sorge got busy.

Tanaka turned to look at SFC Levine, "Are you going to stand around looking stupid, or are you going to go update your uniform?"

Levine looked puzzled, "Sir?"

"Let's go Sergeant Major, you and I are heading over to the State Department. It's time to kick some ass. Diplomatically, of course."

Friday, October 29, 2021


"Gospodin prezident¹, it is so very good to talk with you once again. How may I be of service?"

"Vasily Aleksandrovich², the pleasure is mine. I was very happy to see that you had been appointed to be your country's ambassador to the United States, you have always been a forthright and honest man. Blunt at times, but that, to me at any rate, is refreshing in a member of the diplomatic corps."

"Well as you know Sir, I was not always a diplomat ..."

"Yes, Captain First Rank Volkov, you were once a feared submariner!"

"Garri³! You old seadog, why are you not in jail!"

Admiral Harry Fairchild laughed at that, Volkov had already been one of the Russians' best submarine commanders at around the same time Fairchild had been given his first command. After the incident in Ukraine, the Russians and Americans had sat down and peace, after a fashion, had been negotiated. At the negotiations Fairchild and Volkov had been members of their country's respective naval delegations. In the manner of sailors everywhere, the two parties had gotten along famously. To a sailor the first enemy is always the sea, the vast oceans of the planet do not respect ideology of any kind.

"I might ask the same of you, Captain Volkov."

After a short chuckle, Volkov got straight down to business, "Mr. Rutherford, I was under the impression that you were no longer the President of the United States, however, we here at the Russian Embassy are by no means ignorant of what is happening in your country right now. Are you part of this, this coup?"

Rutherford thought for a long moment, then answered the Russian Ambassador to the United States, "Yes, Vasily Aleksandrovich, I suppose I am."

"Are you one of the leaders?"

Rutherford looked at Colonel Tanaka, who nodded.

"Yes, I suppose I am Mr. Ambassador."

"Excellent, my government has a message for you."

"Conn, Sonar."

The Officer of the Deck (OOD), Lieutenant Lance Pendleton picked up the microphone, "Sonar, Conn, report."

"That contact that's been fading in and out at relative bearing 227, it's back and a lot stronger. I think we need to check the Sound Velocity Profile (SVP) for this area, I think the layer has moved."

Pendleton switched circuits, "Captain to the Conn, strong sonar contact 227 relative."

Moments later CDR O'Bannon entered the control room, "Captain has the Conn," the OOD announced.

"What do we have, Lance?" The captain stepped over to one of the Fire Control consoles and looked at the display.

"That contact has been out there for hours Cap'n, he thinks he's being sneaky. We updated the SVP, salinity and temperature have changed, this guy," the sailor on the console pointed at the contact, which was labeled S320, "doesn't seem to realize it."

O'Bannon picked up a the microphone, "Sonar, this is the Captain, you got a classification on Sierra Tree-Two-Zero?"

"Computer says it's a Sui-class boat, one of their older ones. My gut tells me it's Changzheng-24. We listened in on her trials a couple of years back, that boat had some odd flow noise characteristics, almost as if she had something sticking up from the hull, like something wasn't installed quite right."

"Thanks Chief." Heading back to the Conn, O'Bannon ran into the XO. "Tom, we have a recording of the time around we barely dodged that Shkval, right?"

"COB's got it cued up, Cap'n."

"Let's give it a look."

Vice President Robert Fallon had sought asylum at the Russian Embassy when he had been headed for the White House and noticed the significant military presence around that building. His own intelligence apparatus had warned him that a military coup was imminent. He had been too far from the Chinese Embassy to try and get there, so he went to the Russians.

They had been cordial at first, then when things had started to go south, they had become more formal and had restricted him to a small room used by the embassy's overnight staff for sleeping. He had demanded to be escorted to the Chinese Embassy under diplomatic cover, but had been refused.

A very serious man, Fallon suspected that he was FSB, their Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, had questioned him closely about why he had sought asylum. When Fallon had told them that he was working with the Chinese for "world peace" the Russians had stopped communicating with him altogether.

Now he was being led out of the room, he had a bag over his head and his hands had been zip-tied. "What is this outrage? I am the Vice President of the United States and I demand to know just what the Hell you think you are doing!"

He received no answer, he felt the cold air as he was led outside, he was beginning to be very worried. He heard what had to be the gate to the Embassy grounds being opened. He was pressed up against a metal pole, which he assumed was a light pole. Then his hands were released, then wrapped around the pole and zip-tied again. He heard the two men who had practically dragged him outside walking away.

"What, what is this?! How dare you?"

He then heard one of the men say, "Udachi tebe dolbanyy predatel'."

From the tone of the man's voice, Fallon realized that he was in deep shit.

Captain Xue Xiaotong was preparing a report to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party when the alarm went off. He rushed to the control room of his command, the submarine Changzheng-24.


"Captain! Torpedo in the water, we think it's from the American!"

"How the Hell could they know we are here? Navigator! Are we still below the layer?"

The navigator checked his instruments, then rechecked them, "Captain, I apologize, the SVP has changed drastically, probably because of the large storm which passed through yesterday. There is a clear sound channel to the American submarine."

"Maneuvering ..."

Before Xue could deliver his order, the Mk 48 TI1 detonated when it detected the Chinese submarine. The shock of the explosion actually "bent" the Chinese boat and caused massive flooding throughout Changzheng-24. Her crew never had a chance.

Colonel Jeff Tanaka knocked on the interim President's door, which is how they were referring to Rutherford at the moment.


"Sir, we have the Vice President!" Tanaka placed a sheaf of documents on the desk in front of Rutherford.

The interim President studied them briefly. One document was from the Russians, it had dates, times, and even photographs of Fallon's meetings with the Chinese. The last document at the bottom was Fallon's resignation from the office of the Vice Presidency.

"Has a copy of this been sent over to the acting head of the Senate?" he asked Tanaka.

"Yes Sir."

"Have we had a reply?"

"Just verbal Sir, they are asking permission to contact the President at the White House to inform him and ask for his nomination to the vacated office. They made the suggestion that your name should be considered. The implication was that your name would be the only one the rump Senate would approve."

"How many Senators are going along now?"

"Sixty-four Sir. More than a quorum from my understanding."

"That's right Colonel, the Constitution says a simple majority in either house constitutes a quorum. Any idea when the current President will answer the Senate?"

"Negative Sir, but we're monitoring the situation."

"Thanks Colonel, hopefully this all works out well."

"Yes Sir ...," Tanaka hesitated, then said, "Sir, I must inform you that I have been told that there is a warrant out for my arrest."

"From who?" Rutherford looked outraged at that.

"My sources are trying to find out, Sir."

"Keep me posted, don't leave the building if you can help it Jeff."

"No Sir, I won't."

¹ Russian for "Mister President," (Господин президент).
² I borrowed the name from this man, who is certainly worth remembering.
³ Harry in Russian sounds something like Gary in English, the phonetic spelling given by Google Translate is "Garri," in Cyrillic it's spelled "Гарри."
⁴ FSB = Russian: Federal'naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti
⁵ KGB = Russian: Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, Committee for State Security
⁶ "Good luck you f**king traitor.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Roadell Hickman

Commander Riley O'Bannon was watching the COB¹ as he checked the systems on the computer screen in front of him. The COB had a great poker face, there was no telling what was going through his mind by watching him, it could be great news, it could be terrible news, but O'Bannon had learned to wait for MMCM² Charlie Vickers' reports, he was nearly always dead on.

Vickers turned and looked at his Captain, "We're good Cap'n, all systems are up and running, including comms."

"Thanks COB. Sonar, Conn, are we clear?"

"Conn, Sonar, one passive contact at 227 relative, very weak, keeps fading in and out."

"Jenkins, let's get the mast up and see if anyone is around."

"Clear all around Cap'n, no contacts."

"OOD, you have the Conn, I'm going down to the Comms shack."

"Aye, OOD has the Conn, Captain is off the Conn.³"

CDR O'Bannon looked over the message he had written out for the Comms operator on duty. It looked good, it explained succinctly what was going on with his boat and what he made of the situation around his position in the Sea of Japan roughly a hundred miles south-southeast of the Russian port of Vladivostok.

They'd been lying low for two weeks repairing the damage they had sustained when they had had a near miss by a torpedo which had been on top of them so fast that they had had little time to react. O'Bannon was convinced that they had had an encounter with a Shkval or some variant of that Russian torpedo. Thing was incredibly fast, thank God it wasn't that maneuverable.

Now he had his top sonar guys going over the recordings leading up to the encounter. They had detected nothing until the torpedo had been less than ten minutes out. Was it Russian, or did the Chinese have a copy of that damned thing?

He really needed to know.

"Colonel, good news." MACS Sorge handed Colonel Tanaka a message flimsy.

Tanaka opened it, read the brief message than shouted over at Harry Fairchild, who was asleep on the office couch, "Harry! Gudgeon is alive!"

Fairchild snapped awake, a habit he had learned in his many years at sea, and grunted out, "Damn that's good news. Do we have a report from the captain?"

Sorge answered, "Still being decoded Sir. First message just said, 'Gudgeon alive, repeat, Gudgeon alive. Details to follow.' The second message is pretty long Sir."

Tanaka nodded and before he could speak, Sorge told him, "They'll have it to you as soon as possible, Sir."

Jack Bishop woke up, he swore he could smell coffee, real coffee, and, damn, was that bacon? Rolling off the cot he'd slept on he felt a twinge in his lower back, reminding him that he wasn't getting any younger.

"Mornin' Major." Sgt. Jefferson had taken to calling Bishop "Major" when she had learned from Ida Kasparian that Bishop had been medically retired from the Army as a major. He'd served "only" twelve years before being badly wounded in Ukraine, badly enough that he had been forcibly  retired from active duty.

"Sarge, is that real coffee? And bacon, where did we get bacon?"

Sgt. Jefferson smiled and said, "Don't ask," nodding over at Billy Kasparian.

Billy saw the exchange and said, "Hey, Mr. Washington 'found' a pig, I knew how to turn said pig into bacon, I mean come on, I am a farmer."

Bobby Washington came in with an armload of firewood and put it down near the fire. "Yeah, I found a pig, sounds better than 'I stole a pig' I guess."

As Bishop loaded his plate with bacon, he smiled and said, "Wherever and whatever Mr. Washington, this is good stuff. Thanks. What's on the agenda for today?"

Washington nodded at Pablo Mendoza and said, "Pablo heard a rumor that there's a few gangbangers in his old neighborhood. We think it's high time we drove 'em out."

"Are they armed?" Bishop asked.

"They sure are, do you think they'll hang around once you open up on 'em with automatic weapons? All they've got, according to Pablo's neighbors, are pistols and a couple of shotguns. They think they've got it made since the police up and quit." Washington said.

Billy Kasparian looked up from his breakfast, "The cops quit?"

"Sure did," Washington explained, "wouldn't you if they stopped paying you and released the criminals you brought in?"


"Serious as a heart attack, Mr. K."

Tanaka read the decoded message from USS Gudgeon again, looking up at Harry Fairchild he asked, "A Shkval torpedo?"

"It's Russian for 'squall,' damned things are really fast, but you have to hit dead on as they don't turn worth a damn." Fairchild answered.

"But it is a Russian torpedo, for sure."

"Nope, could be Chinese. Before all this nonsense started we had intel indicating that the Chinese stole the design and actually made some improvements to the reliability of the beast. The chief sonarman aboard Gudgeon analyzed the recordings they had, system does that automatically, and he said it didn't look like the Russian version of the thing. Could be a new variant, but it's 'probably' Chinese, not Russian." Fairchild looked around the room.

"But it's fishy, the Russians are sheltering the Vice President, who is suspected of treason, and now this. It could be the Russians, or it could be the Chinese. But Gudgeon is alive, so is her crew, that's the important thing right now. Which raises the question, what's our next move Colonel?"

"Did Gudgeon ever penetrate Russian territorial waters?" Tanaka asked, his face said 'don't you dare bullshit me.'

Fairchild looked at the floor then back up at the colonel, "It's possible, we do it a lot. Usually our boats get in and out without anyone being the wiser, I've done it myself on more than one occasion."

"So it could be a Chinese attack or it could be self-defense, sort of, on the Russians' part?"

"Yup, I can't think of a third possibility."

"Where's Gudgeon headed now?"

"Yokosuka. We'll have a full report when she pulls in, couple of days probably."

Tanaka nodded then said, "So we wait."


"What's up Sarn't Jefferson?"

"We're getting low on ammo, Sir. We need to get back to base. I think Mr. Washington and his team have things under control here."

Bishop nodded, they had moved into Pablo Mendoza's old neighborhood and driven the gangbangers out of the buildings they were holed up in. Once in the open they had tried to surrender, Mendoza's neighbors weren't having it. All of the 'bangers had died. Bishop had counted twenty-seven dead, among them three women. He felt sick but the locals were jubilant.

The downside was that they couldn't stay, they had expended a lot of ammunition in the brief firefight. The intention had been to overawe the gangbangers, which they had. Now they had to restock their ammo, he had asked, but there was no ammunition available within twenty miles of Albany. So back to base.

"All right, let's mount up people. Mr. Washington, you gonna be okay?"

"I think so," he stuck his hand out, "thanks for the help, Major."

Bishop shook Washington's hand, "I wish there was some way you could contact us if you need us again."

"Unless the Chinese come back, I think we'll be okay. Drug dealers just want to sell drugs and make money, fightin' wars ain't what they're about, least not when the other side is organized and shoots back."

"Good luck Sir." Bishop left to climb into the MRAP, he'd let Ida drive this time. She was better at it anyway.

¹ Chief of the Boat - The senior enlisted sailor aboard a U.S. submarine.
² Machinist's Mate Master Chief Petty Officer
³ I probably have the verbiage wrong, anyone care to correct?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Reckoning

El Tres de Mayo
Francisco de Goya

The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an Army four star, had seen better days. His uniform was filthy and he needed a shave. The consequences of having been imprisoned for a long period of time with limited means of washing or getting clean clothes. Colonel Jeff Tanaka was somewhat appalled at the sight of the man he had once looked up to, he took SFC Levine off to the side.

"Joe, what the Hell?"

"He did it to himself, Sir. He's been refusing to eat, shave, or change his clothes for at least a week now. Apparently he's protesting what he calls his 'unlawful imprisonment.'"

"How are the other prisoners behaving?" Tanaka was a little concerned with General Mileris' condition, but if he had done this to himself, that was different.

"They're behaving. I think most of them understand why they're being held, they're not happy, far from it, but I guess they realize that committing treason was probably a bad idea from the get-go." SFC Levine answered the colonel's question, but the look on his face showed that he was having second thoughts about the proceedings.

"Look Joe, we've had a ruling from the lawyers on whether or not these people committed treason. They all gave aid and comfort to enemies of the United States ..." before Tanaka could complete the sentence, Levine chimed in.

"Sir, we're not at war, are we? Doesn't Congress have to declare war?"

Tanaka thought for a moment, then said, "Again, our lawyers say that we are in fact, at war with the People's Republic of China. They invaded the United States under a false flag, claiming to be UN peacekeepers on the one hand, and on the other, they actually landed troops on the coast of California. Just because Congress refused to consider a declaration of war, doesn't mean that we're not at war. These assholes assisted the Chinese to do these things, if that's not treason, I don't know what is."

SFC Levine had been in the United States Army for seventeen years, had been in combat, two tours, one in Afghanistan, one in Ukraine, and had been decorated. It used to be enough to trust that the officers over him, and the government, had the best interests of the people of the United States at heart. He'd learned, much to his sorrow, that that hadn't been the case in recent years.

"Okay Sir, I'm good with that."

"What the f**k is that?" Jack Bishop brought his rifle to his shoulder as a small group of people came out into the street about a hundred yards down the street.

"Look like gangbangers to me." Billy Kasparian blurted out.

This earned him an angry look from Sgt. Heather Jefferson, "Why, because they're not white?"

Billy turned beet red, "No, it's the way they're dressed, I mean come on, they're all wearing those damned hoody things."

"Damn, you need to get out more Mr. Kasparian, that's just how kids dress, besides which, it's still kinda cold, a hoody keeps your head and neck warm. Hell, your parka has a hood, are you a gangbanger? Besides which, look again, those aren't kids." Jefferson glanced over at Ida, Billy's wife, who rolled her eyes.

Before Billy could utter another word, Ida said, "Put the shovel down Billy, the hole's deep enough." She then spoke to Jefferson, "My husband is rather clueless when it comes to modern things in the cities and suburbs and what the kids are doing these days. We are kinda isolated out where we live."

"Sorry Sarge. But it does look, I don't know, kinda suspicious."

Jefferson nodded and said, "It's okay, Mr. Kasparian, none of us have had enough sleep and I'm kinda cranky right now."

Bishop was still watching the people walking towards them, they were oblivious to the presence of other people until one of them noticed the MRAP. At first one, then the others, all raised their hands in the air to show that they weren't armed, at least not obviously armed.

"Sarge, you want to handle this?" Bishop asked Jefferson.

"Nah, you go ahead Sir, I mean you were in the Army and you sure as Hell outranked me."

Bishop called out, "Okay you folks, that's close enough. Who are you and where are you going?"

General Martin Mileris stood calmly as he was tied to a makeshift post in the Pentagon courtyard. He thought back over his career, he'd made sure that he had had the right assignments, he had made sure that he'd spent time in combat zones, he had all the right checks in the right boxes and he had been promoted for that.

He looked across the yard at the men and women who had volunteered for the firing party, they looked no different from the thousands of soldiers he'd served with over the years. He didn't feel guilty about what he had done to get to his station in life, it was only when the temptations of power and money had been dangled before him that he'd gone off track. He didn't think that he was an evil man, just greedy. He looked to his right as a colonel came up to him.

"Would you like a blindfold, General?"

"Who are you?" Mileris asked gruffly.

"The man commanding your firing squad, why?"

Mileris studied the man's uniform, pretty standard stuff - jump wings, Ranger tab - he had those himself, but there was one thing on the other man's uniform that he didn't have, a Combat Infantryman's Badge. Odd to see that stuff on a Marine uniform, guy must have served a joint tour, probably more than one.

"What's your name soldier?" Mileris asked, "I guess I should know the name of the man who's having me shot."

"Jeffrey Y. Tanaka, Colonel, United States Marine Corps, and I'm not the one having you shot, your actions are the reason you're being shot. Do you want a blindfold?"

"No, not necessary. The sun's coming up, I want to see that."

"Very well."

The Senate Majority Leader jumped when he heard a loud bang just down the hallway. Jesus, he thought to himself, that sounded like a gunshot. He heard footsteps coming down the hallway, then a set of keys rattled, then a door being opened. He heard the voice of the House Majority Leader quite clearly.

"By whose authority are you doing this?" he demanded, loudly.

"Stand up," was the only answer he received.

"How dare ..."

Another loud bang, the Senate Majority Leader suddenly realized that someone was apparently executing the Congressional leadership. The rebels had locked them up three days ago in separate offices, he was in an office next to where the House Majority Leader had been locked up. He heard the footsteps again, he heard the keys, he heard the door being unlocked to the office he was in. He wet himself.

The people in the street were locals, they had seen the uniforms of U.S. soldiers and had been overjoyed. After listening to the Guardsmen tell them the news of the outside, they related their own harrowing tales.

"At first the gangs ran wild, the police refused to do anything, the mayor said on the television that the folks doing the rioting, looting, and shooting had been oppressed for years, now it was their turn. Pretty soon the thugs grew tired, there wasn't much to loot after a while, so they all headed south, to the city. Well, most of 'em anyway." The speaker, an older black man, nodded to his compatriot, a Latino man in his '30s.

"What Bobby says pretty much sums it up, these bastards were trashing our neighborhoods, not the places where the mayor and city council folks lived. So we took up arms and defended ourselves, Mr. Kim here told us about L.A. back in '92. How his folks and their neighbors took to the rooftops to defend their shops and homes from the rioters. Damn if it didn't work here. Right Mr. Kim?"

Teddy Kim had been born and raised in California, both of his parents had been born in Korea. He'd been a little kid in 1992 during the Rodney King incident and its aftermath. He remembered the stories his Dad and his uncles had told him.

"Didn't take much to get these folks to defend their homes, especially when the cops were looking the other way. Well, not all of 'em, but enough to make us fear for our lives. Couldn't have done it though without Bobby and Pablo, these are some badass dudes right here!"

Pablo Mendoza laughed then asked Jefferson, "So where's the rest of the Army?"

"For now, we're it, the rest of my unit is patrolling back home to make sure the Chinese don't come back." Jefferson answered.

"Where's home, Sarge?" Bobby Washington asked. When Jefferson told him he whistled and said, "Hey guys, these troopers are the real badasses, they chased the Commies out of New York! Damned fine work Sarge, I'll bet your Momma and Dad are real proud of you."

Heather Jefferson was a little embarrassed but she confessed that her Dad had convinced her to join the Army. He was a veteran of the Second Gulf War, and proud of that fact. "Thanks Sir, they are, but it's gonna be dark soon, you got a place to hole up for the night? I feel kinda exposed out here."

"Sure do, it's right over there in that cluster of buildings in the park. Good lines of sight and the 'bangers know better than to come anywhere near us."

For the moment the trip to Albany was looking promising.

Jeff Tanaka had wanted to get drunk, very drunk, but how would that look to the troops? He felt sullied after the execution of Mileris. He had to give the man credit, he may have been a greedy traitor, but he died well.

But still and all, Colonel Tanaka bemoaned the fact that he had ordered the execution of a general in his own military.

"Colonel, it was necessary, I hope you don't mind me saying that Sir." MACS Sorge came into Tanaka's office unannounced and uninvited, she brought freshly brewed coffee though, which Tanaka was grateful for.

"Thanks Senior Chief, it's been a long night and yeah, it was necessary. Any news of what's happening over at the Capitol?" Tanaka took a sip of coffee, damn it was strong. What they said about coffee from the goat locker¹ was true.

"I talked to Captain Pearson about an hour ago, the assignments were carried out, the Senate president pro tempore, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Majority Leader were all executed in the rooms where they were being held. Word got to the rest of the Congress critters in the Rotunda and you wouldn't believe how quick those spineless bastards caved and started pointing fingers at each other."

"How's the Captain and the men he selected taking it?"

"Sir, he did the deed himself, said it was only right, he said something about a guy named Ned Stark. You know him?"

"He's a character in a book, and a TV series, 'He who passes the sentence should swing the sword.' Game of Thrones, you familiar with it, Senior Chief?"

"Negative Sir, but that's a good quote, is that why ..."

"I commanded the firing squad, gave the late general the coup de grâce²? Yup, seemed fitting. But now, what about tomorrow? I think we've cleaned house, time to put things back together I suppose." As Tanaka said that, Harry Fairchild came into the room with a grim look on his face.

"What's up Harry?"

"We've lost a boat in the Pacific, USS Gudgeon, SSN 815, Virginia-class, she hasn't reported in in over two weeks. Pearl has reported her lost, presumed sunk."

"What the Hell? Accident? Do we have any information?" Tanaka got up from behind his desk and walked to the maps on the wall.

Fairchild walked over and pointed out the last known position of Gudgeon.

"Damn, that's within spitting distance of Vladivostok. Do you think ...?"

"I do Jeff, I suspect the Russians are jumping in." Fairchild guessed.

"Goddamn it!"

Notes on Treason from the Constitution:
Article I, Section 6, Clause 1
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Article III, Section 3, Clause 1
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

¹ Tanaka knew the term from an assignment to a Joint Staff billet in Hawaii, where he had served mostly with sailors.
² a final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The "Simple" Answer


"So if the President is removed from office, I assume using the 25th Amendment, obviously the Vice President takes over." SFC Joe Levine was trying to understand what his officers had in mind. The idea that there were eighteen people in the line of succession to the Presidency boggled his mind. Seemed like overkill to him.

MACS Janet Sorge said, 'Right now the Vice President has taken refuge in the Russian Embassy, of all places. So I'm kinda guessing that removes him from consideration. So next up is the Speaker."

"That geriatric witch?" Levine blurted out, "Sorry but I think she's a traitor. I've seen documents with her signature requesting UN intervention during the last election."

"But unless she's removed from office ... " Sorge began.

"Then we're stuck with her I guess."

Colonel Jeff Tanaka walked into the office after being down in the Operations Center talking with the Air Force Brigadier General who was running the show down there. Another officer who had "resigned" her commission then accepted commissioning as a lieutenant colonel in order to participate in the rebellion.

"There's a simpler solution troops ..."

Senior Chief Sorge looked up and asked, "Which is ... ?"

"We have the President order the Vice President to report for duty; when he doesn't, we take that as his resignation, dicey I know."

"So the President nominates a new Vice President which both Houses of Congress have to vote on. As if the President is going to go along with that." Levine objected.

"Look, the doctor who looked at him last said the old guy is on his last legs. He's barely coherent half the time. I think it's doable, so we get the former President nominated as the new Vice President, I mean the President actually likes the guy." Tanaka explained.

"Then the President resigns and bingo, we have a new President. But good luck getting Congress to go along with that!" Sorge pointed out.

Gunnery Sergeant MacAllister, who'd been listening in from the inner office chimed in, "Right now those Congress critters are terrified, they think they're going to be executed at any minute, well the crooked among them do. This is very doable. Of course, I'm just an old Gunny, what do I know?"

Former President Wilson James Rutherford  just shook his head when Admiral Fairchild and Colonel Tanaka explained Tanaka's plan to him. "It won't work gentlemen, as soon as you turn things back over to the elected officials who created this mess, they'll claim coercion and the Supremes will overturn all of your machinations."

Tanaka sat for a moment, eyes closed, he took a deep breath then opened his eyes. "There is an even simpler solution."

"Which is ... ?" the former President asked.

"We start executing people, those in the line of succession anyway. It may be tough to get to the Vice President, but I think we can convince the Russians to throw him out of their embassy."

"Jesus Jeff, that makes us no better than some banana republic!" Harry Fairchild came out of his seat and began pacing the floor.

"Well Harry, with the goddamn UN, then the Chinese running around in our territory, I think we have stooped to that level." Tanaka paused, then said, "When it's over, I'll take the fall, no matter what that might entail."

Fairchild and Rutherford looked at each other, there had to be some other way.

Jack Bishop was driving, he knew the roads better than anyone else. In the back were four heavily armed Guardsmen, two of Frank Teller's deputies, both men had served in Afghanistan in the Marines, and Billy Kasparian. Billy's wife Ida was sitting up front with him, she had a set of paper maps in front of her and a GPS receiver, the GPS was her backup.

The vehicle was a Caiman MRAP, which Ida had "liberated" from the police department in the county seat, saying, "What the Hell do those assholes need with a military vehicle? There's not enough crime in the county to even justify giving Barney Fife that single bullet."

Billy had laughed at that one, he stopped laughing when his wife had revealed that she'd taken the vehicle at gunpoint. "Are you serious?"

"Bastard wouldn't give me the keys ... "

As they approached Albany they began seeing lots of signs of disorder near the capital, abandoned cars, looted buildings, even the occasional dead body. Things in the city were far worse than they had heard.

Ye Meihui looked at the cheap pistol she had taken from a gang member, she wondered if the thug had ever bothered to clean the weapon. Fortunately it was a revolver, a simple mechanism which was less prone to jamming than an automatic. But before she had cleaned it, the odds of it firing cleanly would have been small.

She had been surprised at the gang activity in Albany, quite a few of them were foreign, from Quebec and also a surprising number from Central America. Of course, there were a lot of native born "gang bangers" as well. Due to the unrest in the northern part of the state the police in and around Albany had quickly been overwhelmed.

She had managed to bandage her wound and it only pained her a little. Though most of the drug stores had been looted, no surprise there, first aid materials were still available. She had been collecting just that when she had been confronted by the gang member, she assumed that he had come down from Canada based on his accent.

She had easily dispatched the man, she had had no choice but to kill him as he clearly meant to kill her once he'd had his "fun." She had been gratified by the stunned look on his face when she had crushed his larynx.

Looking back over the past few weeks, she realized that handing out debit cards to revolutionary groups, for she thought of them that way, was something which was completely ineffective now. In fact, had been so since the first "peacekeepers" had moved into the state. In her dealings with the Americans, she also realized that most of them were probably far too smart to actually use the cards. She also wondered if her superiors had intended to track the various groups through their purchases. And if so, why?

The MRAP rolled to a stop by the wrecked police car. Jack could see at least five bodies in the immediate vicinity of the wreck. One in the driver's seat of the wreck, in uniform, the other on the ground near the passenger's side, also in uniform. There were three dead civilians nearby, from the looks of their clothing, Jack figured that a bunch of gangbangers had ambushed the cops. Things in Albany didn't look good.

Jack looked at Ida, who said, "I've got a bad feeling about this." Turning to the crew compartment she said, "Hon, are you seeing this?"

Billy moved forward and said, "Damn, this is bad, really bad."

Sergeant Heather Jefferson looked at the big civilian and thought, "No shit Sherlock." Out loud she suggested that her fire team should dismount and have a look. Jack Bishop agreed.

Jefferson had Bill Winston, Kurt Jacobs, and Jennifer Taliaferro with her, all had performed well in the attack on the Chinese compound back in the winter months, she trusted them all with her life.

The team spread out to cover the MRAP. The nearby streets were lifeless, lots of broken glass and looted shops, she had a grim memory of her hometown of Baltimore. Joining the Army out of high school was the smartest thing she had ever done, joining the New York National Guard the second smartest. After Afghanistan she felt that she couldn't stay on active duty any longer, odds were good that she'd be deploying to that shithole again and again. "Dumb bastards withdrew back in '21, why the Hell did we go back in?" she muttered.

"Sarge, I got movement three buildings down, left side, top floor." Private First Class Taliaferro had her rifle scope on the location in question, Jefferson checked with her binoculars, yup, at least two people. Probably looters, she hadn't spotted anything that looked like a rifle.

"Keep an eye on 'em, Tolly. Jake, do you see that overturned dumpster just past the burned out cop car?"

"Got it Sarge."

"Slide on down there, see if you can get eyes down that side street."

Private Jacobs moved out while Winston covered him. To think he'd left the Corps for a "quiet" life in the Army National Guard. "Funny the shit life throws at ya," he thought.

"He's where?!?!" the President was furious, his own Vice President had apparently defected to the damned Russians.

"Can I fire the sumbitch?" he asked.

"Uh no Sir, you cannot. However, with the evidence we have available, I'm sure you can make a pretty good case for impeachment. Fleeing to a foreign embassy during a time of crisis looks really bad. I'd be willing to bet that the VP will resign voluntarily. Provided of course that the Russians will let us talk to him." The President's Chief of Staff was getting tired of explaining the President's job to him. He was a decent guy but mentally? He'd been going downhill since his second year in office.

For the moment the President looked like a petulant child, in his own heart he knew that he was starting to lose it mentally. "Damn it!"

White House Chief of Staff Rudy Petrocelli left the Oval Office and returned to his office nearby, the Chinese were making warlike noises, the UN was demanding explanations for the attacks on their peacekeepers, most of whom were now Chinese, and the President was losing his mind. He picked up his phone, dead, so he walked down to the White House Communications Office, Jed Kelly was minding the store.

"Jed, do we have any way of communicating outside of the White House?"

"Only if we go through the Pentagon Sir, the rebels cut off all communication here and over at the Capitol. We were running couriers around, but that's finished too, seems the military is now patrolling the city."

"The Pentagon, huh?"


"Get me a line to them, I wanna talk to the head rebel I guess."

"Give me a couple of minutes Sir. The system is down more than it's up, but I think I can get through now."

Petrocelli looked around and said, "Just do it Jed, things have gone far enough, we need to make peace with whoever is running the show over there."


"Well, sure, why the f**k not? They hold all the cards now."

Monday, October 25, 2021

Big Week

 No, Beans, we're not going to discuss events that happened in Europe from 20-25 February, 1944 when  the Air Force launched ~3500 bomber missions against aircraft manufacturing plants in Germany.  I remember discussing that in AFROTC in college, but it is more "blah, blah, blah, bombers..." memory.  However, for a decent description of "War of Attrition" in action, I'd recommend this wikipedia article about the campaign.  A lot of good lessons were learned from the missions.  Including the importance of the mission my "last ride" was built for.

Yep, Beans, all that just to get a picture of an F-15 in the post.

On with the post, see I'm in a positive mood this week, as opposed to "Somebody" who seems to be more prone to an "Off with their heads" position.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  We certainly could use a bit of it. Pour l'encouragement des autres, doncha know!

Anyhow, Big Week ahead.  GC#1 is expected any day now.  MBD and her OB Doc have decided on NLT Thursday one way or another.  All is progressing normally and She (GC#1) is expected before then, but....What do I know about giving birth?  

I know there was a lot of stepinfetchit, little sleep, a lot of "No Dear, we don't ever have to do the sex thing again" involved.  With Little J, they wouldn't allow me into the OR (C-Section), so I got a couple hours of sleep with his opening act.  On the second (MBD), they also made the decision for a C-Section  after 24 hours of labor.  I was looking forward to a nap when the nurse told me to get the scrubs on and get moving.  

Gentlemen, if you ever get the opportunity to hold your wife's hand during a C-Section, I've just got one word of advice.  DON'T look on the other side of the curtain! Trust me on this!

So, MBD and SIL are the only ones authorized, other than hospital staff, to witness the actual arrival of GC#1.  Therefore, our plan is, on notification that they're headed to the Hospital and at a reasonable hour of the day, Mrs J and I will head to C-Stat and get things set up for homecoming.

Not that MBD hasn't been doing that for a while now, but Mrs J will be staying for a week or so to provide mothering help.  (As an aside, Bill, yes, we secured the electronics, only one had a password, it's been changed.)

My Job? My job is to cook several meals and freeze them, then RTB and take care of the critters as well as any paying guests we may have at the guest house.  Oh, and finish the table.

The only thing salvageable on the table was the top.  The old leg support (round) frame is beyond my woodworking skills to fix, The new, rectangular support frame will have to be cut and assembled. Replacement legs have been purchased. Then the staining part comes.  I think it'll take a week, or the rest of my life.  It's a coin toss.

Ahhh, the joys of Grandfather-hood.

Pictures of GC#1 to follow.

Peace Out, y'all.  We're winning.

**Late Breaking news update.  While I thought Thursday was the NLT Date, apparently that date is still up to the scheduling gods.  We shall see.