Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Troublemaker 16

The Troublemaker-Part 2

Chapter Sixteen-Travels

The drive to the EHW or Explosives Handling Wharf took about 20 minutes. The EHW is located on the Cumberland Sound and for obvious reasons is away from the main base.

“Jack, when is Lauren due?” Rob said as the mild spring air flowed through the Blue Accord.

“I think she said November 25th” Jack paused for a moment, thinking about his new baby “November 25th, isn’t that close to Thanksgiving?’

“A Thanksgiving baby, very nice. Do you think you’ll be able to tear yourself away from the football games long enough for the birth?” Rob smiled at his long time friend

“I’m just hoping to be alive when he’s born, I’ll deal with football games when that time comes.” Jack said morosely and thoughtfully

“So…you think that you’re going to be worm food before your baby is born? Come on why would you say that?” Rob chuckled at Jack

“Oh, I don’t know...let’s see three subs gone and NOBODY wants to get to the bottom of it! I CANNOT for the life of me see how we can just let 300 men and 3 to 4 billion dollars of equipment go missing and NO ONE wants to say anything other than it was ‘operator error” or whatever the fucking excuse they feel is convenient.” Jack was more than angry he was livid.

“I know what you mean; we’ve been strung out so far all over the world that it takes two weeks to put any kind of a team together. Now, it seems that every time we have any kind of an assignment, we are hit with another “accident” which, like you say, turns out to be ‘operator error’ after their quick bullshit investigation.” Rob paused for a moment “Jack we’ve lost over 200 guys in the past 3 months and because it’s a few at a time here and there in the armpits of the world, nothing is said or done to assess and correct the situation. Do you know how long it takes to replace Spec Operators?”

“So, if it takes two weeks for you to get your team together, then how did you manage to get your group here on such short notice?”

“They aren’t all here yet; they’ll be arriving later today and tomorrow on different flights and in a couple of cars. I got a call from Admiral Berkshire in the Pentagon; he put it the orders together and made it very clear what my assignment is.” Rob said as his voice trailed off in thought.

“I know the Admiral, he’s a damn good man who’s definitely old school. I’ve spent some time at his house in Virginia and had dinner with him and his wife. If he knows something more than we do…” Jack thought for a moment and both he and Rob said together “…let’s give him a call.”

Jack pulled the Accord off to the side of the road and looked up the Admirals number which he still had in his cell phones memory, Finding the number he dialed.

The cell phone buzzed and picked up “Berkshire” The Admiral always answered with just his last name.

“Admiral Berkshire, this is Jack Miller” Jack said

“Hold on Jack” The phones they were using were secure Iridium satellite cell phones. It takes just a few seconds for the tell tale beep which lets the users know that their conversations are digitally encrypted to anyone trying to listen in. The phone beeped on both ends “Jack! How are you doing? How’s Lauren?”

“Admiral we are doing fine, actually sir we are doing fantastic. Laurens pregnant!” Jack’s mind allowed a bit of joy to enter into the conversation.

“Way to go! I always knew it would happen sooner or later, good for you both and make sure you tell Lauren that Miriam and I send our blessings” The Admiral paused momentarily “I know you didn’t call me about Lauren, Jack.” Again the pause “Did Rob Toland make it down ok?”

“Yes sir, he’s sitting next to me right now…” Jack looked at Rob “…we are on our way to the EHW; they’re finishing our load out today.”

“Jack…hold on for just a second” The Admiral took a moment and then returned to the conversation “…sorry about that Jack, the walls seem to be sprouting ears …among other things here lately…Jack there’s something rotten going on and I just want to make sure that you and Rob remember who’s side you’re on…” The Admiral paused as if someone was nearby and he was trying to disguise his conversation “…Jack it’s really good for you to call about your baby…”

Jack looked confused at the abrupt change from the Admiral.

“…Do you remember that golf game we had with that Congressman from Connecticut, Jack?”

Jack was really confused now “Yes sir, I do.”

“Things are just like that now Jack.” The Admiral paused again “I am glad that you and Rob bumped into each other again. I’m sure that you two can figure out how to fix up the baby’s room.” Another pause “I’m taking an early retirement Jack, so you and Lauren come up to visit us in Maryland…soon, ok? I’ve got to go Jack, you be careful…understand?”

The phone clicked dead and Jack was stunned at the very strange conversation “What the hell was that?”

“What did he say?”

“I think it’s what he didn’t say.” Jack paused “He acted like he was afraid someone was going to hear the conversation, but who?” Jack pauses ”he said that there was something rotten going on and if you and I remember whose side we’re on…” pausing again “What do you think he meant by that? Of course I know whose side I’m on right? I mean, don’t you?”

“I’m not so sure any more Jack” Rob said

Jack continued before he forgot any of the conversation. “He also asked about a golf game we had with this Congressman from Connecticut.”

“What about it?’

“We played with some members of Congress; it was me and the Admiral and this guy from Connecticut who is on the Appropriations Committee. Anyway, this guy cheated the entire game. I’ve never played with someone who so blatantly and easily cheated the way he did. He even had a hole cut into his pocket and would just drop a ball through it. At the end of the game he claimed a 78, it was really well over 100. His cohorts slapped him on his back and really blew smoke up his ass over such a great game…the Admiral said this was just like that.”

“A deception?” Rob asked and Jack nodded yes

“The Admiral also said that he is taking an early retirement.”

“Admiral Berkshire? Early retirement? that’s bullshit! The only way he would get out is in a pine box. That guy was born Navy!” Rob exclaimed

“He also wanted Lauren and me to come to Maryland to visit him. He lives in Virginia…” Jack thought a moment “…that’s the second time today that Maryland has come up...” another pause “…he also said that you and I could figure out how to put together the baby’s room?”

Jack and Rob thought over the puzzling conversation with the Admiral and came to the realization that they were joined up as part of the Admirals plan, which for some reason he couldn’t come right out and say. “Do you think he is warning me that someone is really trying to kill me and take out the Nebraska?” Jack asked as they headed towards the Explosives Handling Wharf.

“They better have a small army if they plan on getting by me and my men. My guys coming in are some of the best shooters and looters that I have ever worked with.” Rob said very confidently

They arrived at the main security gate for the Explosives Handling Wharf and stopped to show their passes. An immaculately dressed Marine with his M4 automatic rifle stepped to the driver’s side window, while another Marine stood to the passenger side, at the ready.

“ID sir” The marine ordered. Jack produced his red plastic-coated TOP SECURITY badge and handed it to the Marine. “Very good Captain” and handed it back to Jack. The Marine looked over to the SEAL Commander and said “ID sir”

“I’m sorry Marine, I don’t have mine with me”

“Sorry, sir I can’t let you through” The Marine was adamant

“Marine, he’s with me and I can personally vouch for him” Jack said

“If you don’t mind sir, I’ll call over and see if they’ll authorize it.” The Marine left and walked into the guard shack, never taking his eyes off of the passenger. Picking up the phone he had a conversation and returned. “Sir, Chief Petty Officer Adams will be out momentarily.” The Marine motioned to the Captain “You can park over there sir.”

Jack moved the car to his assigned parking slot and the pair walked back to the guard shack. “I will need to stop by Security and get a Clearance pass when we finish here Jack” Rob said

“Here comes ‘Popeye’, Popeye runs the EHW, and he runs a very tight ship.” Jack said to Rob

The two watched as a stocky, rock solid Chief Petty Officer with massive forearms walked over to the shack The CPO was trailed by another sailor with M16 at port arms. Rob could certainly see where this guy got his nickname from as he had an uncannily resemblance to the cartoon character. The CPO saluted the Captain and then the Commander. “Who ya got with you Captain?” the sailor asked looking directly at the SEAL Commander.

“CPO Adams, this is Commander Rob Toland SEAL Team 2. I’ve known Rob for years and he is my shadow until we ship out.” Turning to Rob “Rob this is Popeye…” pointing to the massive building the sat over the water “…and this is Popeye’s house”

The CPO squinted at the CMDR and nodded approval. “Alright, but let me tell that if you touch anything, anything at all…” looking at the sailor guard “…he’ll shoot you on the spot” The sailor guard nodded to the trio. Walking along the EHW the trio with their escort came to the entrance of the massive over-the-water building in which sat the Nebraska. They went into the building and immediately became aware of the huge cranes and hard hatted personnel performing various chores on the large sleek black submarine. They also noticed Navy divers along the side of the massive submarine inspecting every inch of the black tube.

“Captain Jack, sir. We’ve removed all of the Mark 48 ADCAP’s and replaced them with ones that we have tested thoroughly…and I do mean thoroughly, sir. My fish are perfect”

“Your fish?” Rob looked at Popeye

“That right…my fish. Let me tell you how it works...”Popeye stopped and looked at the Commanders Trident that is pinned on his chest…he was unimpressed; and then directly in the eye. “…the good people of this great country give their hard earned dollars to build this…”the CPO waved his arms towards the Nebraska “…the baddest can of whoop-ass there is. Anything on that sub that either goes bang or boom is MY responsibility. The fish…I lend to the good Captain for 90 days, he then in turn, gives them back to me…and in the same condition they left in…” Popeye smiled at the Captain and directed his comments to him “…the D5’s have all tested out perfect and you know as well as I do that we don’t have 24 of these just lying around to swap out.”

“Popeye, you’ve been doing this a long time. If you tell me that they are good to go, then they are good to go.” Captain Jack placed a great amount of trust in many of the sailors, but the men that handled their weapons he trusted most of all.

“Capn, when I was born, my mommas titties were torpedoes…I was weaned on em…you’re good to go.” Popeye said matter of fact.

“Well, Popeye that’s an image I didn’t need to have in my head right now, but I get your point.” Jack and Rob laughed at the CPO’s choice of words.

The motion of the pick up as it traveled down I-95 and the country music coming from the CD player was sleep inducing to Gary and April. Soon after the check point they both were napping in the comfortable leather rear seat.

It was night, an inky black star filled night. There were lights off in the distance, small groups of lights from groups of houses and communities scattered about the countryside. Looking down he saw a winged shape below with red and green blinking lights on the wing tips. As he looked at the winged beast below, he noticed a panel open in its side and eject a large gray-white blunt nosed pole, which fell a few feet away from its mother ship. After falling just a few feet the pole took on another shape; as the wings that were folded beneath swung out; along with the folded rudder on the top rear which snapped upright to its position. A few more feet and the small turbine engine started with a stream of black exhaust coming out of its rear. The now small pilot less aircraft electronically gathered its bearings and dove towards the ground. Once near the fields below, the craft leveled out 200 feet above the deck and made its way towards its programmed target.

Try as he might there was no way the he could get to the craft to somehow stop it, even though he was screaming for it to stop…it would not. He was suddenly pulled upwards as the craft now was flying into mountainous terrain, weaving its way through the valleys below. The unstoppable craft approached its target, a medium sized city that was sound asleep. With the light of a thousand flashbulbs going off at once, the weapon detonated…the brilliant light was followed by an explosive force equaling ten million pounds of TNT…the sleepy, quiet town was completely and utterly devastated. He screamed in agony…

“NO!....” Gary, still asleep and dreaming rolled onto the floor of the truck.

“Stop the truck!” April woke moments earlier and Will rapidly slowed and stopped the truck on the shoulder of the freeway.

April opened the trucks door and Gary flew out and landed on the ground, on all hands and knees. Gary didn’t see that two Humvee’s with flashing blue police lights had arrived at the same instant that he exited the truck, one to the front and one to the rear. April looked at the Humvee’s and then glancing at the floor board by her foot saw Gary’s Kimber that had fallen out of it s place behind his back. Quickly thinking, she nudged the pistol under the front seat with her foot and left the cab. Kneeling beside Gary April had her arm around Gary as he vomited up the mornings breakfast.

Three soldiers had also exited the Humvee and made their way quickly to Gary and April “Gray Wolf! Gray Wolf! Are you alright?” saying with a Middle Eastern accent

April whispered into Gary’s ear “Gray Wolf…the soldiers are back.”

Gary vomited again, with nothing but bile coming out. Being face down on the side of the road, he remembered the dream and having to put that behind him momentarily, he had to think of his role. Wiping some vomit from around his mouth he looked at April and said “Thank you…Sunflower, I’ll be fine”

April turned to the soldiers “My husband suddenly became sick”

The main soldier spoke “Mrs. Gray Wolf, will he be alright?”

Gary took a sitting position and looking at the soldiers “I’ll be fine, thank you for your concern”

“You must be car sick. A man like yourself might not spend much time in a car and it can make you sick on long journeys.” The soldier said. Turning to his lesser ranked cohort “Go get Mr. Gray Wolf some water…NOW!” The corporal turned and ran to the Humvee and produced a bottle of water with an Arabic label.

Gary took the water and swished his mouth and spat it out. He was now gathering his thoughts as rage was starting to fill his mind “Thank you…why are you here?”

The soldier looked at Gary sheepishly “Well, sir…um, Lieutenant Hassain sent us a message that you would be coming through. The Lieutenant really likes you sir and he wanted us to make very sure that you made it to the border safely.” Pausing momentarily “sir, it would be our honor to escort you to the border”

Gary was helped to his feet by the soldier and April. Turning to the soldier “One moment please” April held Gary by his arm and the two went to the now rolled down drivers side window and speaking in a very low voice “Will, where are we?”

“About 30 miles inside North Carolina and we’re going to need fuel pretty soon.”

Turing to April “I’m alright, go ahead and get back in the truck”

April took Gary’s face in her hands which made Gary think she was just being sensitive but April whispered in his ear “Your pistol is in the truck, it fell out” Gary paused for a moment to let the ramifications of that sink in, and nodded ok and turned towards the soldiers.

“My friend…Your Lieuten-tant is an honorable man. It would be our pleasure to have fine soldiers as yourselves to escort us to the South Carolina border.”

The soldiers all beamed in excitement over his acceptance.

“I do have a request though.”

“Anything Mr. Gray Wolf; anything at all.”

“I have a change in plans for my friends. May I see your map, please?”

The soldiers and Gary walked to the Humvee and looked at the map of the state. Gary saw that the border between North and South Carolina was in red. “My friends and I will stay in Moncks Corner South Carolina tonight. Tomorrow they will return to Maryland instead of continuing on to Georgia with my wife and me. Will you provide them the same courtesy as you are providing me, and escort them safely to the Maryland border?”

“Oh, Mr. Gray Wolf…it would be an honor.” The soldier paused and said “Mr. Gray Wolf sir? May I ask a favor of you?”

Gary nodded yes “You may”

“Sir…I…I mean, we…sir, may we please have our picture taken with you? My sons have heard of In...I mean Native Americans and well…I would like to send them a photograph of us.” The soldier was turning red with embarrassment at his request.

Gary looked at the soldiers and nodded his approval, granting their request. The soldiers immediately produced a camera and one at a time they stood next to the man they thought of as Gray Wolf. When the soldier who asked Gary about the photos came over for his picture, Gary said to him as he put his arm around the shoulders of the smaller man “You make sure that you and your family come to visit us in Georgia…I will have a nice surprise waiting for you.” Gary thought to himself “and it will be your last” Gary had an image in his mind of the Jewish man and his family at one of the mass grave near Mac and Molly’s house.

“Oh, thank you Mr. Gray Wolf, this is very exciting, I cannot wait until my family arrives here”

Photos were taken and Gary said “We have to get moving, I don’t want to be on the road when the curfew starts.” Pausing “Tell me, why does your map have a red line between North Carolina and South Carolina?”

“The border is where we stop. The Predator aircraft go into South Carolina and all through the southern states, but we stop there.” The soldier didn’t realize that he just told Gary that they didn’t have total control over every state like they had portrayed to the public.

Gary got back into the truck and the group took off, letting the Humvee’s follow. Stopping at the next exit, they quickly filled the truck and bought some Burger King for lunch. Gary was in a semi state of depression over the dream, his silence was obvious. April sat next to him and had snuggled in tight, letting Gary think and process what he had witnessed in his dream. Finally he spoke “I don’t want to ever sleep again…I can’t handle this any more.”

Will and Terrie turned and looked at Gary “What’s up buddy?” Will said

“They nuked a town. I don’t know where, I just know that it’s in the mountains somewhere…maybe out west.”

“Oh sweet Jesus, they can’t do that!” Terrie exclaimed

“They can and they will.” Gary was getting his composure back as he talked it out. “I changed your plans with the blue hats. You two are heading back to Maryland tomorrow after you drop us off at Moncks Corner.”

“That’s fine, but why?” Will asked

“When they start using nukes, I want you guys to be prepared. You will need to buy everything you can for storage. Canned goods, dry goods…everything. Also make sure you get a bunch of Potassium Iodide pills…Terrie, while you and Will are heading back you can make a list of foods and medicines.” Gary paused for a moment “We are running out of time” Gary took a deep breath and morosely said “I have a feeling that life as we know it is soon going to end”

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