Monday, June 24, 2024

Busy as a Bee!

 I'm not sure what this is called. It's been so long I've pretty much forgotten what it's called.  I think it's something like Vacay, but since Blogger put a squiggly line under it, that can't be right.  My 4 years of HS Spanish says it's vacaciones  and since I can say "Hello" and "One more Beer, please" in Spanish I'm virtually fluent, right?  Google translate says that's "vacation".  Huh?  What's that?

End Sarcasm

So, Mrs J and I, along with Little J, LJW and Miss B are traveling to College Station to visit MBD, The Rev and the other two grand kids.  Additionally, we will be honing our construction skills, as that slavedriver, MBD, would like her laundry room improved. 

She wants a clothes folding shelf in there.

Your wish is my command.  

I am looking forward to a new project as I have finished the two that I have been working on.

First, the Quilt Display

 


I think it turned out pretty well.

I also turned a rolling pin for Mrs J and she asked me to create a place to store it while still keeping it handy (I think the urgency might involve the rolling pin and my head as she tries to hammer some sense into me.  Good luck with that, Honey!)

But, this also turned out pretty well.



Unfortunately, this is going to take all weekend with RTB on Monday.  So...This is the best I can do for a post as scheduled.  

I suspect this will be very similar to my actions come Monday PM.


Peace out, y'all.  Bigger, Better, Faster next week.  Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

juvat

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The President

Source
The aide entered the Oval Office and paused, the Secretary of Agriculture stopped talking as those few members of the Cabinet actually in attendance saw the man enter. The President looked up and gestured for the aide to come over.

The aide leaned over and whispered in the President's ear, "Sir, your detail says you need to leave now. Marine One is inbound, they are very worried, Sir."

The President looked annoyed, he was already angered that only six members of his Cabinet were actually present. Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy were all represented, the Attorney General was also present. The Vice President was out of town and the other members were conspicuous by their absence. The country was in crisis and most of the President's advisors were apparently out of town or otherwise unavailable.

"I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we need to adjourn at this time. Apparently there is a viable threat to me personally and the Secret Service insists I leave. I recommend that you all go to your designated safe locations and await further word from me."

The people in the room all turned to see the big Marine helicopter setting down on the South Lawn, they also noticed that there were three helicopters, not just one.

Treasury asked, "Sir, what is going on?" But he was talking to the President's back as his detail rushed him out of the room.


"What the hell is going on?" the President barked at his Chief of Staff.

"Sir, we've been told that the Vice President and the Speaker of the House have both been assassinated. The SecDef called in and reported that a coup d'état was happening and that he no longer had control over the U.S. military."

"That's ... that's preposterous. Is Burleson over at the Pentagon?"

"No Sir, he's at Site R."

"Where the hell is that?" the President was rattled and confused, things were not happening as smoothly as his staff had assured him they would.

"It's up in Pennsylvania, Sir. It's also called Raven Rock, it's a nuclear proof bunker under a mountain, you've been briefed ..."

"Where are we headed now?" the President wondered where his wife was, he wished he could talk to her.

"We're taking you to Andrews, Sir. We need to get you airborne on the NAOC.¹ Apparently all the roadways in and out of the District have roadblocks on them."

"Who, who would do that? Armed gangs? Is it the Mexican cartels?"

"No Sir, the Army and the Marine Corps have shut down the city. It's our own people."


Major Alicia "Tusker" Taylor, United States Air Force was leading a two ship of F-22 Raptors out of Langley AFB, Virginia. They had launched not thirty minutes ago and were patrolling the skies over the capital of the United States. There were a lot of clouds, but visibility wasn't that bad. The thing which had worried her was the fact that they had launched armed with live ordnance. AMRAAMs², Sidewinders³, and a full load of 20 mm for the internal gun.

All the Command Post could tell them was that a coup was in progress, fighting had broken out in northern Maryland and certain Army and Marine units were attempting to seize control of Washington DC. Their job was to keep the skies over the District clear. Other units were being called in to deal with the rebel forces.

Those words struck home, "rebel forces," American units attempting to seize control of the government. Her great-great-great-grandfather had been an aide to Robert E. Lee during the War Between the States. as her maternal grandmother called it. Her paternal grandfather always had called it the War of Northern Aggression. One did not use the term "rebel" lightly in the Taylor household when she was growing up.

But she had gone west, to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, she considered herself an American through and through. But now it seemed the country was about to tear itself apart again. Her wingman, First Lieutenant Charlie "Buck" Owens had remarked after the briefing that morning, "Damn, who's gonna Fort Sumter who this time?"

But to her, this wasn't about state versus state, it almost seemed like the Federal Government was trying to dominate Maryland and her own home, Virginia. Violent incidents in DC, Virginia, and Maryland had occurred, blood had been spilled, but so far it had been limited.

As she scanned the skies around her, with the occasional glimpse at her instrument panel, she put those thoughts aside. Did the rebels have air assets? If not, why were they turning JP-8 into noise?

"Raptor Two-Five, Base."

"Base, Raptor Two-Five."

"Bogeys ten miles from your position, bearing 310. Investigate."

"Two-Five, Copy."


Colonel James Mackay's headphones came alive with a panicked message from ground control, "Marine One, bogeys inbound, five miles out at bearing zero-four-fife, bogeys are helos, type and intent unknown, recommend evasive action!"

Mackay barked over the intercom, "Everybody hold on tight, bad guys inbound!" then threw the big helicopter into a diving right hand turn. He was headed for the trees along Canal Road NW. (He had thought to head to Andrews in a roundabout way, now he was doubting the wisdom of that.) His co-pilot, Major Thomas Williamson was on the radio with the rest of the flight of three helicopters, Marine One and two decoys, all from HMX-1.

Ground control called again, "Fast movers, ten miles out, bearing one-eight-zero, altitude 10,000 feet and descending."

"Jesus Boss, helos and jets, who the hell is up here with us?"

As Mackay concentrated on flying the bird, jinking up and down, dipping down below treetop level at times, he managed to say, "The helos, I have no idea, but the fast movers have to be out of Langley."

"Damn it Colonel, what the hell is going on up there." Mackay recognized the voice of the head of the President's Secret Service detail.

"We've got bogeys inbound, helos down low, jets up high. I'm trying to stay low enough where we can't be picked up on radar and will be tough to spot visually."

"With that big f**king white paint job up top?" Williamson pointed out.

"Yeah, that presents a problem. Hold on."

Marine One abruptly pulled up, then rolled to the left, putting the big helicopter mere feet over the Potomac River. Mackay could hear vomiting from aft, damn it, better a soiled suit then the leader of the Free World smeared all over the landscape.


The three Zulu Cobras out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point had been in Maryland, conducted operations with local Marine Reserve units. When the Maryland Guard units had been federalized, said order being countermanded by the Governor of Maryland, the leader of the detachment, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Ramirez had been presented with a dilemma.

"Look Colonel, the Governor has ordered us to defy Washington, you guys are regulars, you gonna have a problem with that?" a Guard Colonel had asked them, the implication being that the Marines would be detained if they didn't cooperate.

Ramirez, to buy time, had said no. Now things were heating up, Marine and Guard units were allegedly sealing off Washington from the rest of the country. He found himself in the middle of a rebellion and didn't know whose side he was on, nor whose side he should be on.

Eventually he had been convinced to side with the state of Maryland. "You know they can f**kin' hang us for this shit, right?" He'd said to his Gunny.

Gunnery Sergeant Hank Bascom had simply shaken his head, "Hell, Sir, do you wanna live forever?"

"Nope, but I ain't keen on dying in the next few days either."


"Raptor Two-Five, Base."

"Base, Two-Five, go ahead."

"Intel has three Marine helos flying low up the Potomac, HMX-1 livery, turn them around."

"Turn them around?"

"Roger."

Taylor shook her head, how was she supposed to herd three helicopters back to DC?

"Buck."

"Two."

"Head northwest, we're hunting helos from HMX-1, we're supposed to turn them back to where they came from."

"Tusker, that's the squadron that carries the President around."

"No shit, Buck."

Down low, she thought she saw something about two miles to her northwest. She recognized the Potomac, then she saw the white tops of three helicopters.

"I've got 'em, my eleven o'clock, they're hugging the river."

"Roger, I see 'em, Tusker."

"Watch my six, I'm going to make a high speed pass to their left, then turn in front of them, shake them up, try and raise them on the radio, though I don't think we can."

"Contact 'em on Guard?"

"Good idea. Here we go."




¹ National Airborne Operations Center.
² The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.
³ The AIM-9 heat seeking air-to-air missile.
⁴ A special frequency reserved for emergency communications.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Field Narrows Further ...

Site B
VA Medical Center, Martinsburg, WV
Source
Secretary of the Interior John Nakagawa and his little convoy were nearly at their destination, what was known as "Site B," which was a United States Continuity of Operations facility. It shared space with a VA Medical Center. There were three vehicles, the lead vehicle, about five miles ahead was a scout team. The second vehicle had two members of the Secretary's security detail, the third, in which he was riding, also had Bill Aspinall, the leader of his security detail and two more security men they'd picked up after leaving Green Ridge State Park.

Aspinall sat up straight when a voice in his earpiece said, "I dunno, boss, something isn't right."

"What is it?"

"We're supposedly in a state of emergency, right? Martial law in Virginia and Maryland, but the gate has a single rent-a-cop, no other security. Something seems off."

"Hold where you're at." Turning to the driver he said, "Pull over at that gas station."

Nakagawa asked, "Something amiss?"

"Yes Sir, the gate to Site B isn't manned by any soldiers or Federal agents, looks like business as usual here. Isn't that odd, Sir?"

"Hhmm, maybe not. Site B was always a backup contingency, SecDef and the other heavies are up at Raven Rock, Site R. This might be a good sign."

"In other words, they expect you to join them at Site R."

"Exactly."

"Throwing them a curve ball, Mr. Secretary?"

"Uh uh, Bill, I'm throwing knuckleballs, I doubt they can hit those at all."

Aspinall grinned, he keyed his mic, "Head on in scout team."


FBI Director William Sheppard was pacing back and forth, he was not happy. In front of him were the two special agents who'd been tasked to bring Captain Alexander Choe in. It had been meant to look like a rescue, Nancy Pelton gunning down a rogue agent trying to apprehend Choe. Instead she had overplayed it and Choe had taken off like a scared rabbit.

"What the hell, Delaney, what the hell?" Sheppard spoke in a low hiss, which made the hairs on the back of Special Agent John "Jack" Delaney's neck stand on end.

"Mr. Director, I have no idea why Choe ran. I pulled him over, made sure he could see that I had my weapon out, Pelton roared up, discharged her weapon multiple times, I went down, she called out to him. I tell you Sir, it was Academy Award stuff, we made it look really good."

"Apparently not. Pelton?"

"I may have f**ked it up, Sir. I called Choe 'Skipper,' which is what a Naval aviator calls their commander, but Choe's surface warfare. I figured Chapman would use aviation terms, I didn't realize that ship captains are always called, 'Captain,' not 'Skipper.'"

"D-minus, Pelton."

Going behind his desk and sitting down, Sheppard addressed his two agents. "Okay, Choe and Chapman are in the wind. Admiral Washington is MIA, this whole f**king thing is going to Hell in a handbasket."

Sheppard's desk phone chirped, "What is it?"

"You gotta be shitting me. goddammit, what next?" Sheppard slammed the phone down, Pelton visibly jumped at that.

"Nervous in the service, Pelton?"

She gulped, "Sir?"

"Never mind, more f**king bad news. The goddammed President wants a meeting with the House and Senate leadership, the Secretary of State is nowhere to be found, and worst of all, our pet militia unit got their asses wasted up in Maryland," he turned on Delaney.

"I thought you said Johansen was good at this shit?"

"He is, Sir, he ..."

"Well, he's in custody up in Maryland. Jesus Christ!" Sheppard slammed his fist on his desk as he stood up.

He hit his intercom button, "Get Deputy Director Monroe in here, now."

"Delaney, Pelton, get your asses up to Cumberland, Maryland, that's where they're holding Johansen." the two started for the door.

"MOVE!!"


Choe and Chapman were sitting in the same interrogation room which Al Rossi had occupied not so long ago. The difference was that the door was unlocked, it hadn't been for Rossi.

"So, Cap'n, what do you think is going on?"

"I think we're with a group of cops just doing their jobs. Maryland is essentially ignoring Federal authority. Did you know that Jackson ordered the Army to bring their prisoners here? Ordered. Cops don't order the military around under martial law. Seems Governor Woodson has his people in control here. Army and law enforcement."

"Whose side are we on, Cap'n?"

"I'm kinda surprised you have to ask, Beth. The Constitution, first, last, and always."

"Copy that, Sir. We're on the same page."


Secretary of State Jedidiah Proctor was sitting in the communications center at Site B when Nakagawa walked in. He jumped up.

"John, what the hell is going on?"

"Sit down, Jed. Your day is done, your race is run."

Proctor blustered, "What, what are you talking about?"

"Creating chaos in the streets, gunning down Federal agents, what was going to be next, little kids and old people?"

"I have no idea ..."

"Look, you need to sign this paper," he nodded at Aspinall who set a document in front of Proctor, "after that, we'll hold you here until the dust settles, then you'll go to DC to be put on trial."

"Whoa, look here, I can't be arrested and put on trial, I'm a Cabinet level official, I need to be impeached first! In the goddammed Congress, not by you!"

"Oh, you don't need to be impeached, that document," Nakagawa nodded at the paper in front of Proctor, "that's your resignation, effective immediately."

"Bullshit, I won't sign it."

Nakagawa sighed, "You're right, Mr. Aspinall, he is a stubborn bastard. Look here, Jed, let's be reasonable, you sign the paper, go on trial, hell, they might find you innocent, or my associate here will take you outside and shoot you in the back of the head. Then we take you back to your house, leave the body there, and surround you with dead Russians."

He turned to Jason Howard, who had just walked into the room, "They were Russians, right Senior Chief Howard?"

"Yes Sir, Russians, former Spetsnaz. Out of work since the war ended."

Proctor sat down, "Give me a pen, I'll sign."



Friday, June 21, 2024

Annapolis Rock

Source
Captain Choe parked his car a half mile from his cousin's house, no sense leading whoever was after him straight there. As he walked he began to puzzle out what Chapman had told him.

He and Chapman had both graduated from the Naval Academy, the alma mater part therefore was pretty easy. But the "rock" of Annapolis, perhaps one of the more famous graduates of the "Boat School," as some termed it. But that would be a person, not a place. Maybe he would get the place from the person, a home town, or perhaps somewhere the graduate had made famous. He had no idea, but perhaps a good night's sleep and things would be clearer in the morning.

He walked up the drive to his cousin's house, he could see activity inside and thought he recognized his cousin's wife, an American girl he'd met in college. He knocked on the door.

"Alex," his cousin shouted as he saw who was at the door, "what brings you here? Come in, come in."

Choe stepped into the house, it was nice, very good sized and nicely decorated, he had to assume that Carol, his cousin's wife, had been responsible for that. He remembered well what his cousin's apartment in L.A. had looked like.

"Hi Paul, hi Carol," Choe waved towards the kitchen where Carol was preparing dinner. She rushed out.

Embracing him in a bear hug, she said, "Cousin Alex, it's great to see you!"

He gave the couple a vague story of him being in the neighborhood and he thought he'd stop by. Neither asked how he came to be in the neighborhood when where he worked was sixty-five miles away as the crow flies. But they let that subject lie.

After dinner, Choe and his cousin went out to the backyard to have a beer. There Choe let his cousin know what was going on.

"I wonder if it had anything to do with the news we've been getting out here. Apparently some National Guard outfit ran into a militia ambush out by Hancock." Paul Kim lowered his voice, the topic of all the violence in the news lately really worried his wife.

Choe sat for a moment, in shock. "An ambush, the United States Army was ambushed by a militia unit? Any word on casualties?"

"One Guardsman was killed, apparently the army wiped the militia out, killed most of 'em, captured three, according to the news."

Choe shook his head, then he was reminded of why he was here by the thought of Annapolis. "Hey Paul, a friend of mine set me a riddle, something about the rock of Annapolis and I was wondering ..."

"Don't you mean Annapolis Rock? It's a great vantage point up on South Mountain."

Choe shook his head again, Chapman liked to hike, it helped with her back injury by keeping herself in shape. A few minutes later his cousin showed him how to get there using a paper map. He had wanted to Google it, but Choe pointed out that people might be interested in his whereabouts, he wasn't sure that the government knew about his cousin, but you could never be sure.

"Hey Alex, if you're that worried about it, take my 4x4 tomorrow. They won't know about that, they'll be looking for your car, right?"

Choe nodded, no wonder his cousin was so good in business, kid was sharp.


Close to noon, Choe pulled into the parking lot which gave access to the trail leading up to Annapolis Rock. There weren't many people around as it looked like rain, the forecast called for some pretty serious thunder storms in the area during the late afternoon. There were two other cars already there, both close to the entrance. He drove all the way to the back.

There was a car parked there, it wasn't Chapman's, Choe began to wonder if his cousin had struck upon the correct answer. Then the driver of that car looked up, it was Chapman. Choe pulled in alongside the car she was driving, police-style as he called it, driver's window to driver's window.

"Captain." Chapman looked terrible as if she hadn't slept in a while.

"Beth, where'd you get the car?"

"It's my aunt's, what happened to you in DC? I was following. When the cop pulled you over, I just kept driving. Sorry, Sir, I didn't know what else to do."

"It's okay, it was a set-up of some kind, a woman pulled in behind the guy who stopped me, not a DC cop, I think he was a Fed of some flavor. She yelled out to me, called me Skipper, claimed she was you. She shot the guy who pulled me over."

Chapman's face blanched, "Jesus. 'Skipper,' she actually yelled that out?"

"Yup, it's what gave her away."

"Who was it?"

"Beats me, I ran, went to my cousin's place in Hagerstown, this is his 4x4. Any thoughts on what we should do?"

"I haven't got a clue, I think that ... Oh shit." Choe saw three Maryland State Police cruisers pull into the parking area, blocking them in.

"Captain?"

"Take it easy, at least they're not Feds."


The troopers were from Barrack "O" in Hagerstown, they'd received a call from Cumberland alerting them to a pair of people wanted in conjunction with a shooting incident in Washington DC two nights ago. A middle-aged Asian male, short hair, Naval officer, and a white female, blonde medium length hair, an agent with Homeland Security.

The senior trooper got on his public address system and asked the two individuals to come out of their vehicles, keep their hands in sight at all times, and face away from the troopers. These people weren't suspects, exactly, but they had been referred to as "persons of interest" by a source in Washington DC.


Chapman and Choe sat in the back of one of the cruisers, not handcuffed, but unable to get out of the car as the doors only opened from the outside. For the moment they were alone.

"Do you have any contacts in the FBI other than Johansen?" Choe asked.

"No, just him. Why?"

"I think the FBI is after me, you too probably."

"The coup?"

"Yup. I'm hoping these troopers are on the side of the angels, we're a long way from home. With Maryland and Virginia under martial law, it would be easy for us to be 'disappeared.'"

"Seriously, Sir? As in murdered and dumped somewhere?"

"Yeah."

"Son of a bitch ..." Chapman stopped as she saw another police vehicle pull in to the parking lot. "What are we, Sir? Bonnie and Clyde?"

A very large black man got out of the SUV with Maryland State Police markings and walked over to the car they were sitting in. The trooper outside the car opened the door at a nod from the big man.

"Captain Choe, Special Agent Chapman, sorry for this inconvenience. Please step out of the vehicle."

They did so, the man extended a hand and introduced himself, "Captain Leroy Jackson, Maryland State Police commanding Barrack "C" in Cumberland, we have a mutual, let's say, acquaintance."

Choe, then Chapman shook Jackson's hand, Choe spoke, "And who might that be, Captain?"

"One Ephraim Johansen, we have him in custody at the hospital in Cumberland. He was in a wreck, t-boned by a drunk driver, lost his leg. Before surgery, and after, he was in and out of consciousness, but kept saying to 'contact the Bureau,' as in the FBI. We did, they denied he was one of there's. But he had FBI ID on him, and DHS as well."

Chapman shook her head, "We worked together, he was seconded to DHS from the FBI a few months back. He told me he had infiltrated a militia unit in Virginia ..."

"Who ambushed a Guard convoy yesterday, Guard cut them to pieces. One soldier died though, so the grunts were a little, shall we say 'rough' with the surviving militiamen, only three survived. We found a notebook with lots of details on one of the dead militiamen. Johansen's name was in it, just once, it was circled with a question mark next to it."

"So they suspected he was an infiltrator?"

"Maybe, the dead guy shot his own guys and blew the ambush. Otherwise the Guard would have been chewed up and spit out. They had a rocket launcher, two machine guns, and lots of automatic weapons. We're guessing the guy had second thoughts. Takes a lot for a Marine to betray his country, he didn't have that in him I guess."

Choe looked at the police captain and said, "There's a guy at the Pentagon, a Vice Admiral Washington, he was acting awfully sketchy last time I was at work. There were rumors going around about a "revolt of the admirals," over funding and budget issues, just like back in 1949."

"I read about that at the Academy." Chapman chimed in.

Jackson shook his head, "Does your service often revolt against their civilian bosses?"

"No, Sir, but this so-called revolt only involved three admirals and allegedly a Marine general. That's all I know." he turned to Chapman.

"I was going to tell you at some point, but, you know, need to know. I guess you both need to know about this now."

Jackson said, "Let me make a couple of calls while we're driving back to Cumberland. That's not a request, by the way. Just follow me, the other troopers will follow you."

Choe looked again at Chapman, "Don't see how we have much choice, do we?"

Chapman nodded, "If they wanted us dead, we would be. I want to know what Johansen knows, f**ker seems to be playing both sides."

"Fence sitter, trying to steer events for his own benefit?" Choe asked.

"Maybe, let's see if we can talk to him in Cumberland."

The trooper whose car they had been sitting in walked over, "Sir, Ma'am, you can follow in your own cars, I'll be right behind you."

Choe grimaced and looked at Chapman, "In for a penny, in for a pound?"

"If you say so, Cap'n."



Thursday, June 20, 2024

Crime Scene ...

Source
Lieutenant Colonel Ramirez and Captain Jackson of the Maryland State Police rolled up onto a scene which seemed right out of World War II. Shattered bodies on either side of Interstate 68 and an Army Humvee parked off to the side of the road, it's front tires shredded by small arms fire.

Three soldiers were standing near the Humvee, a senior sergeant, Jackson couldn't make out his rank but from the guy's age and grizzled look he had to be senior, and two lower ranking men, weapons held at the ready.

The sergeant held up a hand to wave down the police vehicle.

"Pull up over there, Jeff." Ramirez said as he tapped Sergeant Jeff Hildesheim on the shoulder.

The two officers got out of the vehicle and walked over to the sergeant, Jackson could see his rank tab now, guy was a Sergeant First Class named, oddly enough, Jackson.

"Whaddaya got Sergeant Jackson?" he continued while holding out a hand, "Captain Leroy Jackson, Maryland State Police, out of Barracks C over in Cumberland."

"Cap'n." the sergeant said, nodding. "We came up through the pass, we were traveling pretty fast, Governor wants us on the border with DC yesterday. Some sumbitch opened up with a Javelin as we came up to the Welcome Center up there on the hill on the left. Funny thing though, it wasn't aimed at us."

Ramirez watched as his forensic team started to go over the area. He directed one of them and a trooper to go up the hill behind the Welcome Center. "That's where the Javelins were fired from, see if you can't recover anything, heck, even an empty launch tube might give us a clue as to where these people got this hardware."

SFC Jackson stepped over to Ramirez, "Sir, we saw the rocket launch, I was in the second vehicle but I think we all figured that we were screwed. When the first rocket hit short of us on the side of that hill," he pointed to the right, the brush was still smoldering, "I figured the gunner didn't know his business. Then the second rocket hit the other side of the road," again he pointed, this time to the left, there was smoke but Ramirez didn't see any flames. "then things got busy."

"Busy, Sarge? Seems like things were pretty busy already."

"Nah Sir, we started taking small arms fire from either side of the road, from under the bridge. Killed the gunner in the lead Humvee and shot the shit out of the front of the vehicle. Driver was hurt as was the squad leader in the front passenger seat, but he manned the Ma Deuce anyway and began returning fire."

"Ma Deuce?" Ramirez wasn't familiar with the term.

"The M2 .50 caliber machine gun, most of our Humvees have them, except for the two which carry the Mark 19 grenade launcher."

Ramirez nodded, just then Captain Jackson's radio squawked.

"Yeah?"

"You and the Colonel need to come see this, we found the command unit and two launcher tubes. Better yet, we found a dead guy farther up the hill. He has a notebook, crammed with information about these tangos."

"Well, I'll be damned." Ramirez said. "Let's get up there, Sergeant Jackson, are your guys going to hang around?"

"We're out of here as soon as the Shithook shows up. Ah, think that's her now." Jackson pointed off to the west.

"Shithook?" Ramirez asked with a puzzled look.

Captain Jackson filled him in, "CH-47 Chinook, so of course the grunts call it the 'Shithook.' Great big helicopter, they're probably going to haul that busted up Humvee out of here."

As they walked back to their vehicle, Ramirez stopped and turned back to SFC Jackson. "Sarge, where are the three men we heard you guys captured?"

"We took 'em out by helicopter about two hours ago."

"Where?" Ramirez had a very no-nonsense look on his face now.

"Camp Baker, out in ..."

"I know where Camp Baker is, Sergeant. Notify your commander that I want those prisoners transported to State Police Barracks C in Cumberland. Today."

"Well Sir, they attacked ..."

"Today. Or I'll have my troopers bring you and your commander in on charges of obstruction of justice."

"Sir, I think that this is Federal ..." then Jackson stopped and said, "I'll tell him, Sir."


Choe realized that his blood pressure was probably through the roof by now. He tried to calm himself down, he wondered why those people had tried to stop him. Why had that woman shot the guy who had pulled him over? Why did she want him to think she was Chapman? He reached for his cellphone, then thought better of it. At the moment he was alone, out of touch, and extremely vulnerable.

He decided to head north, then west. Out to Hagerstown, he had a cousin out that way, his mother's sister's son. Kid had a good head on his shoulders and would know to keep his mouth shut. He could hole up there and try to get word to Chapman or Johansen.

He was off the board now and things seemed to be accelerating. He needed to figure out what to do next. Good thing he'd put in his leave papers and gotten them approved that very morning. Everything was online these days, it had been easy and while not untraceable, the path from the library was cold by now.


Captain Leroy Jackson had seen the two dead militiamen with their Javelin equipment. Both had been shot in the back of the head at close range. Execution style? Why?

His men had followed a blood trail up the side of the hill. They'd found a dead man wearing an older Marine camouflage uniform. They'd photographed the body before searching it, they'd found a treasure trove of information.

The dead Marine looked peaceful, sitting there, his chin on his chest, eyes closed, if it wasn't for the smell, a passerby might think the man was asleep.

The forensics guy handed him an ID card and a notebook, the ID proclaimed the dead man to be a retired Gunnery Sergeant named Leroy Beardsley. The notebook was crammed with carefully written notes. Jackson leafed through it.

"Damn, this guy was over at the Eastern Shore Rod and Gun Club, he names names, places, what he thought the plan was, everything."

"Yes Sir, we think he shot the Javelin men, fired the rockets which destroyed two militia machine gun positions, and blew the ambush. Not sure why he had second thoughts, but it seems obvious he did. I'd bet that info is somewhere in this notebook," the tech guy said, nodding at the notebook in Jackson's hand.

"Get this back to Cumberland."

"Not headquarters?"

"Nope, I want to keep this local for now.


Ephraim Johansen woke up. He felt groggy as hell, the first thing he noticed was that he was chained to a hospital gurney. He tried to sit up, the dizziness made him lay right back down. He heard the rustle of cloth.

"Mr. Johansen, you need to move very carefully. You were in a very bad car wreck and we had to operate on you. You should be okay, but," the nurse glanced down at the bottom of Johansen's gurney, "you've got a lot of physical therapy ahead of you. I'll tell the doctor you're awake."

Johansen was confused at first, then he remembered being t-boned by a pickup truck flying out of a side road onto the highway. He vaguely remembered the cop who had come upon the wreck. But that was about it. Why was the nurse looking down there? He managed to move a bit, his left leg hurt like hell, probably busted all to ...

He nearly vomited when he saw that his left leg was gone, from mid-thigh down, emptiness. Johansen realized then and there, that his life, as he had known it, was over.

No one, to his knowledge, had come to check on him, sure he was groggy, but all he remembered was hospital scrubs and police uniforms. Maybe it was time to cut a deal, he'd wait and see what the cops knew, or suspected.


Beth Chapman was at her aunt's house in Bowie, Maryland. Her aunt had passed a couple of months ago, Chapman was the executor of her will and very few people knew about her aunt. She had come straight here after seeing Captain Choe ambushed on the street. She had been following him at a discrete distance when the unmarked cruiser had lit him up and pulled him over. She knew better than to stop.

She picked up her aunt's phone, something she'd been meaning to have disconnected, she listened. A dial tone!

She dialed Captain Choe's office, a recorded message informed her that the Captain was on leave, and wouldn't return for a month.

She thought that odd that he hadn't mentioned that to her.

She dialed Choe's personal cellphone, he answered with a sharp, "Yes."

"Cap'n, it's Beth, don't say anything, just listen. If you remember the rock of our alma mater, meet me there tomorrow at noon, if you can."

Choe spoke a single word, "Wilco."

She just hoped that he knew what she was talking about, Annapolis Rock was a nice vista in South Mountain State Park. It was up a trail, she intended for him to meet her at the trail head, where there was a parking lot. Choe was a pretty sharp guy, hopefully he'd figure it out.

She hung the phone up, she noticed that her hand was trembling. She hadn't been this pumped up since her bird had gone down in the desert.

She didn't like that feeling, not at all.