June 2030, 0830
CPT Tim Dugan looked across the aisle of the bus he was on at the two men there. Both of them were in their mid to late sixties, and they both had the grim expression of men who had seen hardship and were on their way to see more. He looked up and down the aisle only to realize that he, at age 52, was one of the youngest men on the bus. He considered it the height of absurdity that he was in command of a company of what had become derisively known as “Fossil Force Five.” These were desperate times, calling for desperate measures; when the Chinese invaded, they did so on the heels of an economic crisis, a natural disaster, and the carefully coordinated attack on the power grid. These factors, combined with the general unwillingness of the American public to understand the situation, allowed the Chinese to roll across SE Asia with little effort. Guam and the entire Spratly chain had fallen within a matter of weeks. Australia, New Zealand, and Japan repelled attempts at landings and, along with Taiwan were under constant bombardment, but somehow, they were still holding.
No one had expected China to invade the American mainland. How and why they were able to get as far as they did was the subject of the current conversation the two men across from him were having with a female journalist that was along for the ride. The larger of the two, a man named Earl, was explaining his version of why the Chinese were here, “It all started with that son of a bitch Clinton. He sold the Chinese a deactivated Naval Base in Long Beach; one hundred and seventy-five acres of unhindered access to our country. Shit, they probably started sending their Spec Ops teams in with the first container ship. Combine that with the Bunny Huggers forcing our power generation system to centralize because of their lobbying the EPA for stricter regulations, and the Chinks knew exactly where to go to cripple our power grids. I hope every one of those fuckers is on the front line right now.”
“You honestly believe that Clinton was in on it?”
“That’s not what I said; Clinton did what he did for money and influence. He was too busy worrying about his next piece of ass to think long-term. He got millions in payback through his ‘foundation’, and the Chinks got a ready-made revolving door into this country. How do you suppose they were able to steal so much of our technology? Once they infiltrated our tech companies and got what they needed, it was a relatively short drive to pass the information along and send it home.”
“What about George W. Bush? Didn’t he contribute to the crisis with two wars?”
“Jesus! Are you guys ever gonna let that man rest? His role in all of this was his utter lack of interest in securing our Southern Border. That’s why the Chinks were so well supplied; anything they couldn’t sneak in on a container ship, they just smuggled into Mexico and paid some drug cartel boys to get them across the Rio Grande. All of the politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, pretended that the only people coming across the border were Mexican migrant workers, regardless of the avalanche of intel that indicated that the OTM’s were entering The States like rush hour in Chicago.”
“But why would China want to attack us?”
“They had to attack somebody. Look, for decades, China has had a policy of one child per family. Because they consider boys more valuable than girls, a lot of families killed their female offspring at birth so that they could try for a boy. The end result was that they had an enormous disparity of males to females, something like three to one. Plus, China’s resources were dwindling fast. Their air quality and their water quality was akin to what ours was in the Twenties. Add to that the population getting restless because of the newfound affluence that resulted from the government’s greater embrace of Capitalism, and you have a situation where people are discovering that they need less and less government. In fact, protests and riots over human rights were becoming more and more common. The Old Communists were losing their grip on the country, so they had to find a way to convince the people to unite behind them again.”
The reporter winced, “The Beijing Bomb?”
Don and Earl both nodded, “The Beijing Bomb. What better villain than someone that nukes a city full of civilians? And the US is the only country to have ever used an Atomic Bomb in a war, so….” He shrugged.
“But why would they think it was us?”
“They didn’t have to think, they knew. Or thought they did. They traced the residue back to us.”
“Where would they come up with one of our nuclear devices?”
“They don’t teach you much in journalism school, do they? You ever heard of ‘research’? At the time of the attack, there was over thirty thousand pounds of weapons-grade Plutonium missing from this country’s inventory. It doesn’t take much to create a bomb. And the plans are, or were, on The ‘Net. So, they steal the material over a period of years, build a bomb, set it off in their main city and blame us. Instant Nationalistic Fervor on a platter.”
“Why would they kill their own people?”
Earl smiled, “Ever hear of the Reichstag Fire?”
“The what?”
Rather than answer, Earl just rolled his eyes, “Look it up.”
Suddenly, an alarm on Earl’s watch went off. He shut it off and yelled, “Time!” Immediately, most of the people on the bus reached into their fatigue pockets and pulled out various and sundry pill containers. They all took their respective pills and followed it with a generous drink from their water supplies.
“So you think that this has been planned for thirty years?”
Now the other man, Don something or other, spoke up, “The Chinese have been planning this since the eighties. You have to remember that they think of things in terms of decades, not years. This plan was set into motion during the Reagan Era, and they have been working on it ever since.”
CPT Dugan muddled that over. He knew the country was vulnerable when the power grid went down, but he, along with those in leadership, didn’t know how vulnerable. As things became clear, it turned out that by the time there was any semblance of order restored, the Chinese had seized Puerta Vallarta, landed a large scale force in Western Mexico, and used it as a staging area to attack. Mexico’s Army folded like a cheap suit, so there wasn’t much resistance there. The Chinks rolled them up in a couple of weeks and proceeded to attack the USA. Those forces, combined with thousands of operatives within the US border, created such confusion that it was months before a solid defense could be mounted. The one bright spot was the California National Guard. Because of their proximity to the main thrust, they learned of the Chinese incursion into Mexico before the power went out. As a result, they went on full alert and were ready and waiting for the Chinese. While they weren’t able to stop them cold, they repeatedly bloodied their nose, completely throwing off their timetable.
Just how perilous the current situation was became clear as the military called up manpower. When the Reserves and the National Guard were called, no one thought much about it; both components had played a part in every war since WWII. When they recalled the Individual Ready Reserve, it became obvious that this was a serious crisis. When they recalled everyone under the age of 45 that had ever served in any capacity, it showed that the situation was critical. When they reinstated every veteran serving time in prison, the public became afraid. Finally, when they conscripted every able-bodied person from those same prisons, it was under stood that the Fecal Matter had definitely impacted the impellers.
In the end, when it became apparent that the Chinese weren’t going to go away without a bitter fight, the military had begun recruiting anyone and everyone who could do something. It was not unusual to see cargo trucks driven by people who would otherwise be retired, guard posts manned by men and women in their 60’s and 70’s, and any job that didn’t require a young, strong, body was filled by whoever, wherever.
Tim had fallen into a gray area; too old to be recalled, but too valuable to be ignored, he ended up as the Company Commander of a Provisional Militia Unit made up of some veterans, but mostly just volunteers that were willing to man a post. His own sons had enlisted, one flying helicopters for the Marines, and the other in the 82nd Airborne’s recently reactivated Long Range Surveillance Unit. He hadn’t heard from either of them in over two weeks.
Shaking his head, he stuffed his apprehension about his sons and concentrated on the current situation. Looking around, he noted that this militia unit looked every bit like a rag-tag army. The only common items were their uniforms and load bearing vests; leftovers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they served to bring some sort of commonality to these people. Weapons? Whatever they had, they brought with them. His knowledge of firearms having been a byproduct of his enthusiasm for shooting, provided no comfort as he spied what each person had brought. The two men across the aisle, Earl and Don, each carried a civilian version of the AK platform, updated to include optics and rails. They each also had a long rifle case, very much like his own. CPT Dugan’s contained the latest iteration of the rifle that had been handed down through generations. It was still the same VZ-24 action, but it was now bedded into a synthetic stock, and had a stainless steel barrel chambered in 6.5X55 ‘Swede’. It had also been Cerakoted black, and then painted in a camouflage pattern. He had sat near these two because they both brought rifles of the same caliber as his; Don’s being a CZ557 and Earl’s a custom Remington 700. In addition, they had sidearms, knives, and, even though they didn’t think anyone knew, each had a small 5-shot, .38 Special revolver tucked away “just in case.” Tim knew this because he was “kitted up” in a very similar fashion. His own weapon was an AR15 that he had set up to be an all-around rifle, and a Glock 19 at his side. Instead of a small revolver, he opted for a Glock 43 to eliminate having to carry another caliber ammo with him.
That was the one thing they had going for them; ammunition wasn’t really a problem because, in the cargo bay beneath the passenger compartment of the bus, there were approximately 15 reloading presses and who knows how many components for the various rifles and pistols available. It was an immediate solution to a long-term problem. Until the supply chain could get around to equipping them, they pretty much had to ‘run what they brung.’ The story was pretty much the same in all of the twenty-odd buses in the convoy; a bunch of elderly volunteers that brought whatever arms, ammunition, and skill they had, with them.
CPT Dugan’s attention was brought around to the journalist, a very intense thirty-something woman, that was tapping him on the knee, “Captain? What about you? Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?”
Dugan pondered this for a moment, “Yes. The Chinese underestimated our capabilities. Our Air Force has all but swept them from the skies of CONUS. We always did have the best pilots in the world. Plus, our submarines have disrupted their seaborne supply lines and reinforcements. And I don’t think they ever expected the level of resistance that the main thrust of their invasion has met. The California Guard has been augmented by Guard units from across the country and, though the Chinese have made advances, they have paid for every inch in blood.”
What about their Canadian Offensive? Coming over the North Pole seemed to have surprised everyone.”
“Not so much. It just seems that way because there are vast tracts of empty land up there, so they moved mostly unopposed. Once the Canadian Rangers spotted them, the Canadian Armed Forces rose to the occasion. Right now, they’ve been halted just above our common border, and their Great Lakes Offensive was a total failure thanks to the submarine force there.”
“Submarine force? I thought that the Treaty of Ghent prohibited warships in the Great Lakes?”
“It did and it does. However, we have a large Coast Guard contingent stationed there. There is, or at least was, the USS Silversides at Muskegon.”
“The Silversides? I’ve never heard of it.”
Earl leaned across from his seat, “Remember Captain, you’re dealing with a journalist. What she doesn’t know is probably a lot.”
Dugan nodded, “Got it. Okay Miss-?”
“Ramsey. Diane Ramsey from the Post.”
Dugan gave a perfunctory, “Nice to meet you.” The press were not his favorite people. Like many in the military, he viewed them with suspicion. Still, talking to her broke up the boredom, “The Silversides is a Diesel Sub from World War II. It was on static display in Muskegon as a tourist attraction. The people that took care of it doted on it like a newborn child. They kept it in perfect working order, but they kept the screws in storage, so as not to violate the treaty.”
“Oh, I’m sorry; the propellers. Well, once the hostilities commenced, those that tended the sub came up with the idea of going operational again. Not in the ocean since, logistically, that would have been impossible. And the Silversides wouldn’t last two weeks against a modern sub-hunter. BUT, patrolling the ‘Lakes as the only submarine in the water? That might come in handy. So, they contacted the Coast Guard and ran the idea by them. The Coast Guard, oddly enough, thought that that was a great idea and inducted the sub ‘crew’ into the Coast Guard on the spot. No reason not to; they knew that sub as well as any who had sailed on her during the war. Plus, the Coast Guard sent a bunch of volunteers to help with maintenance, arms and whatnot. They even managed to create full complement of torpedoes thanks to the efforts of a bunch of boat mechanics and machinists in the area. Sure, they were just ‘point and shoot’ but they were better than nothing. As it was, they were enough to stop the Chinese smuggling troops into the area.”
“How so?”
“Just ‘Google’ ‘USS Silversides’ and ‘Battle for Lake Michigan.’ Either that, or put me on the payroll and I’ll write up the whole account for you.”
June 2030, 1630
By the time the bus came to a halt, CPT Dugan was so restless that he was ready to jump out of a window to get out. Instead, he simply stood, grabbed his gear, and got off in an orderly fashion. Once off, he grabbed the rest of his gear from the cargo compartment of the bus and looked around at their new duty station; Rapid City Regional Airport.
Just twelve miles from Ellsworth Air Force Base, it was considered a second-line facility for airlifting supplies. Even though there was no immediate threat of ground assault by the enemy, they needed perimeter guards and patrols. Ellsworth had its own Security Forces Squadrons, comprised of those that had recovered from wounds and were awaiting reassignment, and those that were newly graduated from Tech School. ‘Rapid Regional’ had a small contingent of TSA personnel, one DHS representative, a few Customs Agents, and two Pennington County Sheriff’s Deputies from Rapid City. They were now augmented by the Provisional Militia to set up as perimeter defense and security. In order to simplify the chain of command, the Provisional Militia was under Federal Authority as a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Having looked at this duty as a ‘pain in the ass gray area’, the DHS rep had tapped into the Air Force to take command of the situation and basically passed the buck on to one of their Colonels.
Dugan briefly consulted with his Platoon Leaders and called a Company formation. Once they were formed up, he approached the Battalion Commander, a former Marine Officer who, now in his Seventies, was ranked a Colonel in the Militia, “We’re formed up sir. Orders?”
“Just sit tight. Our Air Force liaison is on his way.”
“Yes sir.”
Just then, a group of four Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, referred to by the troops as “Jolts” pulled up. Out stepped several Air Force Officers and NCO’s. Dugan decided to linger within earshot to see what he could learn. The Air Force personnel walked up to the Militia Colonel and salutes were exchanged. According to the new rank structure, when a Militia officer and an Active-Duty officer of equal rating met, the Active Duty officer automatically out-ranked the Militia officer. So it was here, with the Air Force Colonel outranking the Militia Colonel. The Air Force Colonel spoke first, “Colonel, when I requested base security, I was hoping for someone a little more…..current.”
“Understood sir. Exigent circumstances sir.”
One of the senior NCO’s walked up to one of the men in the ranks, “Holy-fucking- SHIT! Is that a musket? Just how old are you?”
The man, standing at ‘parade rest’ replied, “It’s a replica of a Hawken Plains Rifle, Sergeant. It was all that I was able to get to when my area was hit by the Chinks. I have plenty of ammunition for it though.”
“So, you’re gonna defend MY base with a fucking musket?”
“No Sergeant, I intend to use this-” the Militiaman squatted down, reached into his grounded rucksack, and pulled out a well-maintained OBZ95-1, the standard Infantry Rifle of the People’s Liberation Army, “-unless there is some objection.”
“How in the Hell did you get that?”
“I took it off of a dead Chink.”
“A dead Chink? Where did you find a dead Chink?”
“I didn’t ‘find’ him, I killed him.”
“You killed him? How did a geezer like you manage to kill a Chinese soldier?”
“I shot him with my ‘musket’ from a hundred fifty yards. Then I took his stuff and hauled ass.”
The men around him erupted in laughter, but the Sergeant looked at him with new respect.
Dugan looked up and down the formation and, for about the thousandth time, prayed that they wouldn’t face any serious attacks. Between the advanced age of the troops, and the hodgepodge of weaponry; a mixture of ancient rifles from both world wars, surplus rifles from Eastern Europe, a scattering of AR and AK-style carbines, and hunting rifles of every conceivable configuration, it was obvious that they weren’t top-tier troops. Or even bottom-tier. They were a last-ditch defense in case things went completely wrong.
Dugan walked back to his company where Don and Earl were waiting for him.
Don spoke up, “What’s the word Captain?”
“We’ll be shown our quarters. We’ll move in, and then we’ll get our assignments. Same as always.”
“Seems like we’re pretty far from the front. This should be an easy assignment.”
“Right. As long as we don’t cut and run, we should be okay.”
Earl looked at him, “You see any track stars here, sir? We’ll fight because, frankly, there isn’t ten guys in this unit that could run a mile in under fifteen minutes. Everywhere we go is a one-way ticket. “
“Well, the plan is to dig in and build a perimeter defense for the base.”
“I don’t think too many of us have Entrenching Tools, sir.”
Dugan just smiled, “This is an Airport, Corporal; they don’t use shovels! They use back hoes and Bobcats. E-Tools are strictly for Army and Marines.”
“Roger that, sir. My back is grateful for their generosity.”
Join us for Part 3 next week!