Sunday, June 30, 2024

Raven Rock¹

"Mr. President?"

Former Secretary of Defense Matthew Burleson looked up from his desk. He had a raging headache, a number of commanders he had been counting on when he had declared himself President of the United States were refusing to take his calls. Didn't the fools realize that his claim superseded that of the Secretary of the Interior? His office was sixth in the line of succession, Nakagawa's was eighth.

When Vice Admiral Thomas Washington, his closest ally at the Pentagon, had gone to the Marine Barracks at 8th and I to confer with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, another of Burleson's supporters, he had completely dropped off the grid. Shortly thereafter the President had demanded his resignation. When he refused, the President fired him.

But that last tidbit was unknown outside of the President's circle, when that President died, Burleson had quickly declared himself President and had found a Federal judge in Pennsylvania's Eastern District to administer the oath. His staff had warned him that that was premature, but Burleson had overridden them. Now that fool of an FBI Director had declared himself to be in charge!

Burleson rubbed his eyes, "What is it now, Anderson?"

"Our communications are down, Mr. President."

"What?! That's not possible, where is General Henry?²"

"We don't know, Sir. The equipment was reset with new passwords and keys, we don't have them."

"Don't tell me Henry has them."

"Yes Mr. President, he does."

"Find that son of a bitch, NOW!"

FBI Director William Sheppard was headed out of the building, he was accompanied by his two "special projects" agents, Special Agents Jack Delaney and Nancy Pelton. He had been trying to get in touch with the CIA and Homeland Security all day, nobody was answering his calls. He had tried Delaney's personal cellphone, which had been answered. Nearly as soon as he had spoken the call had been cut off. Calls from Delaney's phone weren't answered after that.

"I guess their computers have voice recognition, Sir." Special Agent Pelton said.

Sheppard glanced at Pelton and said, "Ya think?"

Pelton turned beet red, she looked ahead towards the exit, oddly enough the screeners were absent. She started to mention it, then held her tongue. The Director was in a very bad mood and she had suffered enough of his sarcasm for one day.

Delaney however, mentioned it. "Sir, where is everybody?"

Sheppard looked up from his phone, at first he looked puzzled, then he had a moment of fear. He hesitated for just a moment, but then saw his car pull up outside. He thought it might be prudent to get out of town, something was in the wind.

Delaney drew his sidearm, as did Pelton, they went through the checkpoint and out into the street. The Director's car stood there, the driver looking out at them with a puzzled look. Delaney saw nothing amiss, so he waved the Director out into the street.

"Target acquired."

The sniper was in the tower at the Waldorf Astoria, not far from the Hoover Building. He had a clear line of sight.

"Take him."

The gunman squeezed the trigger.

Pelton was startled, she had been sprayed with liquid, which puzzled her, it wasn't raining.

She had been looking to her left, the Director was to her right. She turned to see if the Director had also gotten wet.

It all happened so quickly, she had no real perception of time. From the instant she felt the spray of wetness until she turned to her right felt like a hundred years, everything was moving in slow motion.

She saw that the Director's head had snapped to his left, towards her, then she realized that the wetness she felt was from the Director's head, well, what was left of his head.

The phone rang on Burleson's desk, which he thought odd, communications were supposedly down, weren't they? He picked up the phone.


He listened for a moment, not believing what he was hearing.

"What? Say that again."

Burleson sat there, at a loss for words. He hung up the phone just as his aide walked in.

"Sir, seems our comms are back up ..." Then he noticed that the man he worked for seemed to be staring into space.

"Something wrong, Mr. President?" Ted Anderson asked.

Burleson looked at his aide, "The FBI Director has been gunned down in the street, along with two agents."


"We need to get out of here. Get me a helicopter, that bastard Nakagawa is running the table."

"Sir?" Anderson was in a state of shock.

"It's over, we need to get the hell out of here before they come for us. Move it man, get my helicopter ready!"

The President of the United States, John Nakagawa was tying his tie when Bill Aspinall tapped on the door, then entered.

"Morning, Bill, what's up?"

"Just had word, Sheppard is down. The onsite team decided that an arrest wouldn't work, so ..."


"Yes Sir."

Nakagawa sighed, "I guess we better let Congress know. How about the team up at Raven Rock?"

"They're ready. Burleson hasn't moved yet, their comms were cut last night, General Henry brought the system down, changed all the codes, then left with his staff."

"I trust Billy made it to a safe location?" Nakagawa had been Henry's commander when that man was a young lieutenant.

"Yes Sir, as scheduled, comms were restored at Raven Rock and a call was made, Burleson knows about Sheppard now."

"Think he'll run or will he try to bluster his way out? There are still some folks in DC who think he'd be the better man for this job."

"He'll run, Mr. President. The man is a coward, he proved that in Yemen, to those who were actually paying attention."

Nakagawa thought back to those days, he'd been flying A-10s, that venerable bird's last campaign, his last as a squadron commander. A battalion of Marines had been trapped in the mountain passes near Al Habilayn, Burleson had been in command of Task Force Ruby, waiting off the coast aboard their Navy transports. The Marines had begged Burleson to send in his force, but he had demurred, saying that Washington hadn't authorized that.

The Marines had fought their way out, at heavy cost. No Marine on the ground, and no airmen aloft that day ever forgot that. Burleson had retired shortly thereafter and became a high priced political consultant with a defense contractor.

He remembered when his predecessor had appointed the man Secretary of Defense, his confirmation passing by a single vote.


Nakagawa snapped out of his reverie, "If he runs, take him, if he stays put, we'll have to go in. One way or the other, his time is over."

Aspinall nodded, "Yes Sir." Then he went out to make the call to the forces positioned near Raven Rock. "Time to water the tree of liberty," Aspinall muttered as he headed to the communications room.

¹ An interesting place.
² In this story he is the Air Force general responsible for communications at Site R.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

The Last Gasp of the Defeated?

J. Edgar Hoover Building
FBI Headquarters

FBI Director William Sheppard took a deep breath. He had just got off the phone with a contact on the old President's staff. With that President, who had appointed him, dead of a heart attack and the Secretary of the Interior John Nakagawa claiming to be the new President, he thought that he had a golden opportunity to take control of the government, albeit temporarily, and use that to implement the scheme the "Silver Dozen" in Congress wanted to push through.

Five men and two women from the House and five Senators, all men, had concocted this idea during the unrest of the summer before. The American people were apparently getting tired of their wages not going as far as they used to, due to what the "Silver Dozen" had considered to be rational and correct policies. Their views were not shared by the bulk of the American people.

Riots had broken out in at least eight cities, as many as twelve if you counted some of the smaller disturbances, citizens with firearms had started to show up at those demonstrations. Policemen had been threatened, many of whom had then walked off the job. It was one thing to push around unarmed demonstrators, but when those demonstrators were armed, that was another thing altogether.

It looked very much as though the country was going to explode as the temperatures soared throughout the month of August. The last straw seemed to be when a demonstration in Austin, Texas, which had started out peacefully enough, blew up into chaos. The local politicians had decided to quash what they saw as defiance of the law by a show of force. Ten demonstrators had been killed when the police opened fire.

Thirty seven Austin policemen had lost their lives when the demonstrators had fired back.

Only a sudden, and massive, storm front rolling through had broken up the fighting. Tornadoes in the area, flooding after an unusually heavy rainfall, and the fact that both sides were somewhat stunned over what had happened. Both sides were more than ready to step back at that point.

The governor of Texas had sent in the National Guard to separate the two sides. The Guardsmen, with the governor's blessing, had arrested a number of members of the city government and all of the top cops in the city, save those who had fled.

Sheppard thought the "Silver Dozen" was a stupid name, one of the women staffers had noted that all of the members of this clique were gray haired, not one was under the age of seventy. One wag in the press had referred to them as the "Silver Dozen," and the name stuck. The members of the cabal actually liked the name, one had said that it denoted wisdom. But they had promised Sheppard vastly expanded police powers in a new government, so he went along.

"What about the Constitution?" he had asked.

The senior Senator, from Oregon, had shook his head and said, "The Constitution says what we want it to say. We've allowed that piece of paper written by old white slave-owners to govern our actions for far too long. Take away their guns and the masses will settle right down. Mark my words."

An unusually cold autumn and the very early onset of a brutal winter had settled things down. No one wants to protest in the cold. But now things were heating up again, it was time to act.

He picked up his phone, barking at his administrative assistant, "Get me the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the phone."

Shirley Watson paused, then said, "Of course, Director. I'll connect you."

She didn't have the heart, or the courage, to tell him that the phones at the Pentagon were not being answered. She'd keep trying until he asked what the hold up was, then she'd tell him.

Leroy Jackson had been on the phone all morning, things were apparently going nuts in DC and some guy in West Virginia was claiming to be the President. From the calls he had made, apparently the man in West Virginia, one John Nakagawa formerly the Secretary of the Interior, might actually be legitimate.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramirez had returned to his motel, he had thought about heading back to Baltimore but word of one President dying and another one taking office not fifty miles from Cumberland, made him stick around.

As he had told Jackson, "I want to be close to the action."

Of that there seemed to be damned little for the moment.

He walked down to the barracks area, where the on duty staff could sleep and rewind. Ramirez wanted Choe and Chapman close, he didn't think they'd run but he wanted them close at hand. So he had had them put up in the barracks.

Captain Choe was sitting in the break room, wearing tan slacks and a Naval Academy sweatshirt. He looked up from his coffee when Jackson walked in.

"Chapman sleeping?"

"Yes, she is. It's been a rough couple of weeks for her. So, this business with the new President, you buying it?"

"Can't see that I have much choice. Did you know that the FBI Director claims to be the new acting President?"

Choe laughed, "Based on what? Does he think that knowing secrets will give him power?"

"Most of the folks he thinks he has his hooks in are in the wind. Hell, almost half of Congress went home as soon as things started to go south. The ones that stayed seem sincere in getting the country back on track."

"Is that even possible at this point?" Chapman had walked into the room, disheveled and tired, she couldn't sleep for long. Her old back injury made sure of that.

Jackson sighed, before he could answer, his cellphone chimed.

"Jackson. Seriously? All right, I'll send what units I can spare."

Hanging up he looked at Choe and Chapman, "Seems the former SecDef had one more roll of the dice in him."

Choe asked, "What can he do?"

"For starters he's sent out orders over an unencrypted frequency for the Air Force to attack Site B."

"Where Nakagawa and the current government are at?" Choe stood up abruptly, the look on his face worried Jackson.

"Yup. He seems to think that the folks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and also at Seymour-Johnson are under his control. If he does, that's big trouble. That would give him four squadrons of F-15Es, the Strike Eagles, and three of F-22 Raptors. Do you have any sources at the Pentagon which might still be active?"

Before Choe could speak, Chapman interrupted, "I know a guy at Homeland, he's a Marine Reservist, he knows people, Master Gunnery Sergeants often do."

Jackson pulled out his cellphone and handed it to her, "Call him."

Friday, June 28, 2024

So Help Me God ...

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

John Takehiko Nakagawa lowered his right hand and turned to the other people in the room. He had a slight smile on his face as he nodded to those who had witnessed him taking the oath of office as the President of the United States.

The ceremony took place two days later than Nakagawa had hoped it would, primarily because it had taken time to gather the people he wanted, in fact needed, at the ceremony.

Gathered in the small auditorium on the grounds of the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, WV were five of the nine Supreme Court Justices, the hastily reconstituted Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military, and, a near miracle, 285 members of Congress. Barely enough to constitute a quorum in both houses, but enough so that outside observers should agree that the ceremony was legitimate.

Nakagawa stepped to the podium and addressed those in attendance.

"I call upon the former President, Mr. Herbert Norville, to step forward."

Norville stepped forward, nodding to the Chief Justice and to President Nakagawa.

"Mr. Norville, I hereby nominate you for the office of the Vice Presidency, do you accept?"

Norville, for once in his long career in business and in government, was at a loss for words. He nodded and said, "Yes, I accept."

The Speaker of the House and the new President Pro Tempore of the Senate looked at each other, the Speaker said, "If you would excuse us ladies and gentlemen, we need to vote on Mr. Norville's appointment. 25th Amendment you know, we do have a quorum, so it will be a valid vote."

The vote had been close, very close, Norville's nomination had passed by three votes total, one in the Senate, two in the House. But the proprieties and legalities had been observed. Shortly after that, when everyone had rejoined the members of Congress in the auditorium, the Chief Justice walked to the podium and administered the oath of office to newly appointed Vice President Herbert Michael Norville ...

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

A number of witnesses noticed the differences in the respective oaths, especially the lack of a "so help me God" in the Presidential oath. But it was done, the government of the United States had been reconstituted, now to see if the rest of the nation would accept it.

William Aspinall, who still headed Nakagawa's security detail over the objections of the Secret Service, noted that that there were only three members of what someone could roughly describe as the media. A woman representing CNN was present, as was a junior staffer from Fox News, a third person, another man, represented the Nippon Television Network a major news source in Japan. Not surprising as Nakagawa was the first person of Japanese descent to be the President of the United States.

He was so intent on watching the small crowd that he jumped when President Nakagawa took his elbow and asked, "Care to join us, Bill?" in a soft whisper.

The President looked at the men and women sitting at the conference room table, he needed them on his side, as he thought of it, in order to get things back to something approaching normal. The toughest sell would probably be with the acting leaders of the two houses of Congress.

"Madame Speaker, Senator Helmsley, what do you consider to be the first order of business in settling things down? I have reports of fighting breaking out in Boston, Cleveland, and New Orleans between government forces, mostly police, and armed groups calling themselves 'militia.'"

The new Commandant of the Marine Corps shifted in his chair at that, to which the President said, in a cold tone, "It's not your turn General, stand down."

Lieutenant General Mark Attleboro muttered, "Yes Sir." He was visibly unhappy, but some in the room saw that as perhaps stemming from the fact that his job required him to have four stars, his three looked paltry compared to the other officers in the room.

Admiral Jack Whalen leaned in and patted the Marine on the shoulder and whispered, "Patience, Mark, it's early days yet."

Senator Judson Helmsley cleared his throat and glanced at the Speaker, Marion Sullivan, who nodded as if to say, "You first."

"Mr. Secretary, I'm sorry, Mr. President ..."

"It's alright, Senator, I'm not used to it either."

Helmsley smiled, then spoke, "I think the first order of business is to lift this idiotic declaration of an insurrection taking place and revoke martial law in both Virginia and Maryland. Get the military back to their bases and the Guardsmen back to their homes."

Sullivan nodded and said, "That's a solid first step. We also might want to consider making an announcement of some sort of amnesty in certain cases. Passions are running high but certain acts, which didn't involve anyone getting hurt, could be forgiven in that light."

Nakagawa gave her a puzzled look, so she added some clarification. "There have been at least two instances, that I'm aware of, of private citizens defying the orders of police to disperse having been arrested."

Nakagawa instantly said, "Yes, Madame Speaker, I agree. Bruce, see to that, won't you?"

"Yes, Mr. President. Madame Speaker?"

"My aide has a list, he should still be outside," she said.

The meeting didn't adjourn until well after midnight. Not everyone was happy with certain decisions which had been made, but all agreed that things should be taken slowly, only addressing the most egregious events immediately.

One outstanding question which had taken some time to be resolved had been proposed by the junior Senator from New Hampshire. The question was whether a nationwide referendum had ever been held. Certain states had provisions for referendums, but nothing specific was mentioned in the Constitution itself.

A Congresswoman from Alabama pointed out that something called the national initiative had been proposed back in the early part of the 21st century but had never gathered much steam. "My point is, there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits seeking the opinion of the American people, though a referendum of this nature would be more that just an opinion."

A number of people began to talk at once, the President spoke up, "Ladies and gentlemen, order, order, this is not a bad idea ..." he turned as his Vice President nudged him and pointed towards one of the Congressional aides present.

"You there, young man, you are?"

"Hank, er, Henry, McClellan, I'm an aide to Senator Shimada, from California."

"You have something to say?"

McClellan turned beet red, cleared his throat then spoke the following:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

"Mr. President, I think the young man is on to something, quoting the preamble to the Constitution should remind us that the people established the Constitution, we are simply their representatives in Congress. I move that we hold a referendum, see what the people have to say, then let the lawyers fight it out, if they have the guts for it." Senator William Shimada sat back down after his little speech. Shimada was not a lawyer and had little regard for that class, having been in the medical profession, he was a doctor, prior to being elected.

The Speaker of the House looked around, the Congresswoman from Alabama nodded and said, "I second the motion."

"Thank you Annabelle, ladies and gentlemen, there is a motion before this joint session of Congress, how say you?"

It was a simple voice vote with only two naysayers.

President Nakagawa stood up and announced, "Let's do this, can our combined staffs get this ball rolling?" He turned to the news people, "Can you put this out on the news?"

The CNN and Fox reporters looked at each other, both nodded.

"Let the people speak then. Madame Speaker, Mr. President of the Senate, I leave it to you to adjourn your session. I thank you for your service in this matter."

When the President, the Vice President, and their staffs gathered in the office the President had taken over, the phone rang, Bill Aspinall answered it. Listened, then turned very pale.


Aspinall swallowed, tried to collect himself, then said, "Two things Mr. President, first, uh, the President, your predecessor, died 30 minutes ago, Secondly, the Director of the FBI has announced that a coup has been put down and that for now, he will be acting as President."

Nakagawa stood up and walked over to Aspinall, whispering he said, "Can we get to him. Tonight?"

"Do you want that to be your first act as President, Sir?"

"This will be my second, appointing a new Vice President was my first."

"Yes Sir, we can do that."

"Make it happen."

As Aspinall picked up the phone, Nakagawa told the others what was happening, then he said, "I have made an executive decision to have the man arrested, barring that, he is to be killed."

No one said a word. Within minutes the leadership of the Congress had been briefed, the Speaker of the House had simply said, "No one likes that bastard anyway. Mr. President, you have our blessing."

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Under New Management

OAFS Photo
The former President of the United States sipped his coffee as he stood near the big windows which covered the front of the house. He looked out towards Chesapeake Bay and pondered the things which were occurring in the capital. He knew of events which had happened not even twenty miles from where he stood.

Federal agents murdered in the performance of their lawful duties, he shook his head and took another sip. It was just too bad that those duties were actually unlawful under a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Small consolation to the families of those dead agents.

Congress had overplayed their hand, declaring that an insurrection was underway in Maryland and Virginia was weak at best, foolhardy. The governors of both states, well, technically Virginia was a Commonwealth, had rejected the order from the White House federalizing the Guard in both those states. Active duty Army units had been sent in, and promptly, with a few exceptions, joined the "rebels," as the media liked to call them.

The media was silent at the moment, "rebels" in a number of states had seized broadcast facilities and newspaper offices, rather than broadcast their own message, they simply shut them down. Now the Internet was rife with rumor and speculation, bloggers were having a field day.


The former President turned to his chief aide with a questioning look.

"Phone call in your office, Sir."

"Thank you, Tony."

Closing the door to his small office, he walked to the desk and sat down. He still had a wonderful view of the bay as his office was in the front of the house. He sighed, then answered the phone.

"Sir, this is Secretary Nakagawa, calling from Site B, I am flying down to DC as soon as my helicopter, your old helicopter, gets here."

Herbert Norville sat up straight when he heard that.

"What's the occasion, Mr. Secretary?"

"The President has had a serious heart attack and is in a medically induced coma, most of the leadership in the line of succession is missing, has resigned, or has been disqualified by the Supreme Court as being in open rebellion against the government."

"I didn't know the Supremes had such a power."

"Well, Sir, Secretary of Defense Matthew Burleson, perhaps I should say former SecDef Burleson, is at Raven Rock, up in Pennsylvania, he has called for the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware to callup their Guard units and move on Washington DC."

"He can't do that, that's the President's call."

"Yes Sir, that's correct. Burleson claims that he is the President by virtue of the President being disabled, the Vice President and the Speaker being dead, and ..."

"What?" Norville stood up, that news shook him. Though he and the Vice President were on opposite "sides" politically, he counted Robert Cousins as a friend, he'd been fishing with the man on more than one occasion. He'd even stayed here, at his retreat on the Eastern Shore, multiple times.

"Vice President Cousins and Speaker Morrisey were on a fishing trip to Louisiana, their aircraft went down shortly after takeoff. No survivors."

"The President Pro Tempore of ..."

"Nowhere to be found, Sir. He left town last week, not even his advisors and staff know where he is."

"So let me get this straight, John. You're heading to Washington to be sworn in?"

"No Sir, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is flying in to administer the oath. I'm the interim President for now. I've heard from the President's Secret Service detail, the doctors all say that the President is probably going to die. The damage to his heart was too extensive."

"That's terrible, with the country in such turmoil, has anyone heard what the Russians and the Chinese are up to? They must know of this disruption to the government."

"The Admiral commanding USSTRATCOM¹ has convinced the service chiefs, with one exception, to allocate forces to him in order to deter nuclear war. Sir, we're at DEFCON 2². For now the Russians and Chinese are being very, very quiet."

Norville was shaken to his core.

"John, what do you need from me?"

"I've dispatched a helicopter to your location, along with a fighter escort. I want you to be my Vice President."

Norville could hear the media howling at that prospect. Many people in the country felt that he had not lost his bid for re-election, but had been cheated via ballot rigging and other illegal means. The investigators he had hired agreed with that assessment, for the most part. One of the investigators said that while things looked shaky, there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the election. He was the lone voice supporting that claim.

But Norville had stepped down, congratulated his opponent, then watched the country spiral into massive inflation and unemployment. But what else could he have done? What some conspirators were doing now? Throw the country into further chaos?

"I shall see you in Washington, Mr. President."

Nakagawa chuckled, "Not quite yet Herb, but soon. And thank you, shall we meet at your old office?"

"I'd like that."

"See you then, Sir."

¹ United States Strategic Command (link).
² Defense Readiness Condition 2, the only higher condition is 1. This is the next to last step prior to actual nuclear war. Armed forces are ready to deploy and engage in less than six hours. Missile and bomber wings are at full alert. Orders have been dispatched to the nuclear missile submarines at sea to prepare to carry out the SIOP, Single Integrated Operations Plan, the U.S. strategic war-fighting plan for the use of nuclear weapons that contains the specifics of targeting orders, scheduling, and needed weapons.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Who's In Charge?

"Accura¹ Niner-One, Acrobat on Guard." As soon as 1st Lieutenant Owens had switched to Guard frequency, he heard someone calling him. Checking his kneeboard, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, Acrobat was a Secret Service callsign!

"Tusker, hold off, I've got Acrobat on Guard."

He radioed his lead, she too switched to Guard and heard the call.

"Acrobat, Accura Niner-One."

"Niner-One, abort mission and Return to Base, immediately."

"Sir ..."

"Immediately, Niner-One. Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Four, Zulu."

She checked her kneeboard, the guy was legitimate. That was the correct abort code.


"You heard the man, Niner-Two, Romeo Tango Bravo."


Colonel Mackay breathed a sigh of relief when control notified him that the Raptors had been called off. He looked to his left at his co-pilot, Major Williamson just shook his head. At that moment a voice from the back of the aircraft came over the intercom.

"Colonel, where's the nearest hospital?"

Williamson had the answer in seconds, "Sibley Memorial is a mile behind us, that's the closest with a helipad."

Mackay called back, "Sibley Memorial, what's the problem?"

"POTUS has had what appears to be a massive heart attack, he's barely got a pulse."

Mackay brought the aircraft around and had Williamson call in the emergency.

"We'll be there in less than five minutes."

The chief of the President's Security detail came forward to the cockpit and leaned over, speaking directly to Mackay. "Make it quick, I think the President is dead."

Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Ramirez led his detachment of three attack helicopters from HMLA-167, the Warriors, AH-1Z Vipers, also called Zulu Cobras, as they penetrated the airspace over Washington DC.

So far he didn't like what he saw, the major highways into the District were blocked by military units. He went low over one and recognized the troops manning that roadblock were from the Army. Others were manned by Marines.

At one point in their reconnaissance over the city they had been contacted on Guard by someone claiming to be the Commandant. Ramirez knew the Commandant personally, the guy on the radio, even with the crappy reception, was not the Commandant. He wondered what the hell was going on down there.

2nd Lieutenant Manny Gonzalez came on the intercom, "Was that guy claiming to be the Commandant for real?"

"No, Manny, I don't know who that was. I know the Commandant, that wasn't him. Maybe they've got that old prick locked up somewhere." There had been rumors of an admiral and a general being held in the brig at 8th and I. There were so many rumors flying around now that he didn't know what to believe.

The doctor came out into the waiting room, the White House Chief of Staff stood up, expecting to hear that the boss was dead. He looked expectantly at the surgeon.

"He's stable, but he's going to be out for a while. He suffered a massive heart attack, if you'd landed two minutes later, he'd be dead now. We've put him in an induced coma and ..."

"What?" the Chief of Staff nearly barked at the doctor.

That's when the chief of the President's security detail turned to one of his men and said, "Execute Plan Omega."

The Chief of Staff whirled around, "What the hell is that?"

"Sorry, Sir, you don't have a need to know."

"Wait a minute, while the President is ..."

"Sir, with respect, you are not the President, you are not in the line of succession to the Presidency. We are notifying those in the line of succession what has happened, we will try and contact the Vice President, but he's down in Louisiana with the Speaker of the House, for now the Vice ..."

The doctor stepped in between the two men, "You didn't know?"

"Know what?" the Chief of Staff barked.

The Secret Serviceman gestured to two of his agents, who had been riding in one of the other helicopters. They immediately took the Chief of Staff into custody and removed him from the room. The Service had protocol for this, none of which involved the universally disliked White House Chief of Staff.

"Well, doc, what don't we know?"

"The Vice President and the Speaker are both dead."


"Their plane went down in the Mississippi Delta, NTSB is on the scene, they think it was mechanical failure, but all bodies on the plane have been recovered, there were no survivors."

The lead Secret Serviceman, one Sullivan Monroe, of Baton Rouge, LA, shook his head. One of his agents looked expectantly at him.

"Last I knew, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate was on Capitol Hill, can we get word to her?"

"I can try, Sir, but I'm betting we're going to have to go way down the list to find the next President. The situation is a mess out there, we've had reports of the Secretary of State resigning, the Secretary of the Treasury is nowhere to be found, the SecDef is holed up at Site R claiming to be in charge, and the Attorney General was arrested by some militia unit. No one knows her whereabouts either."

"Secretary of the Interior?"

"He's in West Virginia. He reported in just before we took off asking for orders. President told him to sit tight."

"Looks like he's it, for now. Where is he?"

"Site B."

"Can we get him to DC?"

"Sir, I'd recommend we send people there. Keep a detachment here to protect POTUS, another detachment to Site B to protect, well, I guess Secretary Nakagawa is now the interim POTUS."

The doctor, who had been listening in, asked, "Why don't you take this to Congress?"

Everyone in the room looked around, one of the junior agents spoke, "Are you sure you want those idiots in charge?"

¹ All callsigns are according to this site. And yes, I went back and updated the callsigns in an earlier post.