Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Troublemaker 28

Chapter Twenty Eight-The Other White Meat

 The World Police Headquarters, Mid-Atlantic Region, is located in a large gray-white concrete blocked building near the headquarters for The World Naval Forces, Atlantic Region. In what used to be known simply as Norfolk, the two entities shared the same military base and although they differed in their individual mission and objectives, the overall larger mission or big picture was one in the same.

  In a darkened room at World Police Headquarters and sitting at his computer console almost a thousand miles to the north of Kings Bay Submarine Base, Khalid Mahmod looked at his wrist watch and knew he was close to being late for midday prayers. Khalid started to shut down his system for a couple hours when the display on his computer screen abruptly changed to a “System Alert” screen. This alert screen was different than a regular alert in that the normal red band at the top of the screen which identified an illegal civilian Encompass violation was an orange band. They didn’t get many of the orange band alerts, as this was the indication of a military Encompass alert. Looking over to the soldier manning the console next to him “Kahlil, what do you make of this?” Khalid asked

  Peeking over the cubicle “I don’t know, I haven’t seen many of those orange alert screens, do you think it is another glitch?”

  Computer aberrations or false reports were becoming commonplace with the Encompass system. “I don’t know…” pausing to read the information on the screen “…it says that this is from a Captain Haki…” reading further “…it says he was martyred last week in Maryland.” Looking at his watch again and realizing the amount of time needed to process this report would not only preclude him from his mid-day prayers, but also from the teachings that immediately followed. “How many of these glitches have we had in the past week, Kahlil?”

  “I’ve had a couple…how about you?”

  “I’ve had a couple too…” turning away from the screen “…today Imam Al-Mahood is speaking on ‘How we are to make best use of this land.’”

  “That’s right; it should be a great sermon.” Kahlil said dreamily “This is the second part of his sermon on ‘What is rightfully ours, as Conquerors.” The occupying troops chatted excitedly amongst themselves about their victory and to the man starting making their personal claims on property, whether that property was land, homes, vehicles or people. Infidel prisoners to the conquerors; also represented property. Kahlil then asked “Do you think that he will address ‘The Joke’?”

  Kahlid laughed “I would hope so; it is so time consuming to continue with that.” ‘The Joke’ is the name given to the World Legal Authority which made up rules for the UN World Police Forces. If those rules were violated and the person was caught, they would be transported back to their home country for trial and punishment. ‘The Joke’ was that there weren’t any trials or punishment, simply a return flight back to the United States a few weeks later. The soldiers had hoped that rules regarding rape, theft and murder of the infidels would be tossed out, freeing them up to openly act out their barbaric tendencies. There were still no rules regarding the burning or destruction of churches or synagogues, unless there were worshippers inside who were killed when the ‘righteous’ act took place.

  “This report will be here when we return…right?” Khalid asked in a way where he could justify to himself and Kahlil postponing any action on the security breach. Khalid then reached out and turned the power off to his computer monitor, leaving the page still in his computer. If someone walked by they would see a powerless, blank monitor. Khalid told himself that he would deal with this later today…however when he returned later that afternoon, unbeknownst to him, the chip which was recently powered up; was destroyed, thereby leaving a blank page. The report went unsent due to this ‘glitch’.

  The Reagan Battle Group command officers stood in front a large multi-colored LCD screen showing their relatively small Battle Group. Each officer could plainly see their own ship made visible by their GPS locators, the IFF or Identify Friend or Foe system and other electronic identifying systems. The Los Angeles class subs were shown with yellow ‘post it’ notes as they were underwater and used no identifying signals that would give them away. The “guests” changed their thoughts on their supposed invisibility and they knew that they could be visible to The World Naval Force headquarters.

  Captain Warner addressed the group and specifically the two submarine Commanders. “Ok, Chris and Matt, if you were to take out the Nebraska…where would you do it?”

  The commander of the Jacksonville stepped forward and looked at the map thoughtfully “If I had operational control of the Kilo’s, I would want two here…” Commander O’Neill took two post it notes symbolizing the Kilo’s and placed them slightly to the northeast of where The Cumberland Sound met the Atlantic Ocean and along the Continental Shelf “…and then I would have two more here…” he then placed two more, one slightly to the southeast of the Cumberland Sound and the other directly east of where he thought the Nebraska would enter deep water at the Shelf.

  “So, you think that they have more than two Kilo’s?” Captain Warner asked

  Commander O’Neill answered “If it were me, I would…” the Commander paused “…if I were them, and knowing that the Nebraska will simply disappear if she gets to deep water, I would do everything I could to take her out as she is making her initial dive…” he then added “…that’s when the Nebraska will be the noisiest and most vulnerable.”

  Commander Burke continued with Commander O’Neill’s assessment “If it were me, after the attack on the Nebraska…that’s when I would come after the Reagan.”

  Captain Warner rubbed his chin as he thought. “What do we know about the capabilities of the Kilo’s?”

  Commander O’Neill answered “The Kilo is a very quiet diesel sub sir, almost as quiet as ours. If this is the export variant, and not Russian, I would assume that they would have the Club anti-ship missiles with conventional warheads and possibly the Shkval or ‘Squall’ underwater missile. We know that the Kilo’s have been upgraded for both.”

  “OK, so how do you think they will attack us?” The Captain knew what was going to follow, but need to have their assessment before deciding on his defense.

  “Well, if it were me…”Commander Burke started to explain “…and if I had the 3M54E variant of the Club, I would start my attack about 60 miles out with the cruise missile and then slip inside for a shot with the Squall.”

  “I would do things a little different…” Commander O’Neill said “…I would use my Squall’s close in first and then use the Club’s as I was leaving…”

  Commander Jones looked at Commander Benson and spoke softly “Here we go again. You take two sub drivers…and tell them to go from Point A to Point B and you’ll get two different answers, both will be right, yet both drivers will argue that their version is the right one…”

  Captain Warner held up his hands to the pair and stopped the exchange as the two attack sub Commanders tried to convince each other that their way was the best one. “Alright, let’s just say that both of you are right…” argument halted “…tell me about the Club and the Squall.”

  “Yes sir, The Club is an anti-shipping missile system with a few variants. Most likely the ones being used are the 3M54E. This is a three stage long range subsonic cruise missile, with a terminal stage of mach 2.9. This is a bad boy, sir. The terminal stage starts about 25 miles out and zig zags on final approach. I don’t know if the Cowpens can handle that, especially if they use multiple weapons at once.” Commander Burke explained

  Commander O’Neill added “The Squall is a supercavitating underwater missile or torpedo. What this means is that it produces a layer of air around its body, which allows it to not be slowed down by water contact. The range is about 7500 yards or 4 miles, however when it’s launched, the transit time is about one minute. The Squall isn’t a very agile torpedo, but at 260 miles per hour, you don’t have to be.” The two sub commanders began talking to each other about how the carrier group was going to have a rough time against the weapons of the Kilo’s.

  Captain Warner looked back at the large display and spoke to the commanders of The Sullivans and the Elrod. “Dick, I want you and Terry to go after the Kilo’s to the southeast and east of the Cumberland Sound…” he pointed to an area east and somewhat south of the Sound “…You two will be on ‘point’…” looking at the commander of the Frigate Kauffman “…Bart I want you to be on the outside of The Sullivans and Elrod…’ pointing to an area southeast of the Destroyer and Frigate “…between the Cowpens and the Reagan.” Captain Warner thought for a moment and with emphasis added “Dick, you and Terry really need to put those Kilo’s down…after you do and after the Nebraska hits open seas…then you two sprint back to this area…” pointing to the area between the Kauffman and the Cowpens “…once you are here, then Kauffman will take the point.” Captain Warner thought again and added “Now, if we can get the Nebraska to head south after she leaves the Sound, that should pull at least two Kilo’s right into your lap.”

  The commanders nodded at the plan…with the exception of the two attack sub commanders. “Sir, I know that you think we won’t be able to do much good for you…however, Chris and I both know that we can help out.” The commander of the Hampton stated.

  “And just how would that be Commander?” Captain Warner questioned

  Commander Burke looked Captain Warner directly in the eye “Sir, there’s no way that those remaining Kilo’s are going to do the same thing with us that they are going to try to do with the Nebraska.”

  “How so?” 

  “First of all sir, if The Sullivans and the Elrod can take out two Kilo’s…” Matt pointed to the pair of post it notes that possibly represented the easterly and southern Kilos “…then the other two will hear the kills and the two ships sprinting back towards the Reagan. They might not know that it’s a fall back position and decide to proceed with an attack on the carrier group. At that point sir…they won’t try to pound the water with their sonar’s trying to set off our ADCAP’s. If they do, everyone will hear them and kill them…” pausing momentarily “…no…they will be very quiet and try to work their way in to kill the Reagan and anyone else nearby.”

  “Interesting” Captain Warner said “So, tell me how you can help.”

  “Well sir, both Commander O’Neill and I know that we can get at least one shot off. So let’s say that we dump our other fish…” Matt went over to the situation screen and pointed to an area to the north and west of the carrier battle group. “…we each keep one. Now, we patrol in this area here…we go deep and slow…then if we hear them attack you from this area ….boom…boom, game over.”

  “Why do you think they’ll attack us from there?”

  “Because that’s where I would, sir.” Matt said as Chris also nodded agreement with his brother submariner.

  “So, what you are saying is that you have to wait for them to attack us, before you can act?”

  “Yes sir, again, the Kilo’s are very quiet. Unless they make a mistake, our first opportunity should come when they flood their tubes; and definitely when they launch their weapons.” Chris answered and then continued to the group as a whole. “Now look guys…”he pointed to each of them “…don’t shoot us, ok?”

  The commanders smiled tauntingly at the two submariners. “We wouldn’t think of it…would we fellow’s?” Dick Benson said laughing 

  Chris looked at the group and was very serious, uncharacteristically so “Ok, so if you hear three quick pings…that’ll be us, ok?”

  Matt added “Now, I got a chance to see the marketing video of the Squall torpedo in action. Pretty impressive, for sure. When it is launched from the tube, it uses six small rocket nozzles to steer and direct it towards target acquisition. Once it has acquired the target…the main rocket motor ignites and…” looking at the men “…well, let’s just say it really hauls ass.”

  Chris added further “Your sonar techs will hear a strange sizzling noise…that’s the steering nozzles. When they hear the main rocket motor, it’s pretty unmistakable as to what it is…” turning to Captain Warner “…Sir, you should let them know that if they hear a sizzling noise…to steer directly towards it immediately, as your bow will present the smallest area. Maybe you can get your turn started and finished by the time it acquires you…if you are truly lucky…they might miss.”

  “You aren’t too optimistic about this are you?” Captain Warner asked

  “Captain, I have a buddy on one of our….um…”special subs”, you know the kind that have men with no names on board…anyway, they were up north in…um…“unnamed” waters and close in to a test firing of this system. Let’s put it this way. My buddy is a ‘stone cold, no shit believer’, sir…’ Chris added to the others “Now, I would direct the helo pilots to look for a V-shaped line of bubbles. If they see that, then drop their MK 50’s at the head of it immediately…you see, the Squall is so fast that the firing sub can’t move away quick enough from the bubble signature. That’s your advantage…again it’s after the fact.”

  Captain Warner took the information in and nodded approval to his two submariners. “Ok, you two work out your plans…and be careful with those ADCAP’s”

  “Aye aye sir.”

  Captain Warner turned to Commander Benson “Now, you said you have some ideas about how we can make ourselves disappear, I’d like to hear them.”

  “Sir, I was thinking that we could take the GPS equipment and anything else that gives out our location and if we remove it while keeping it powered…we could put it all on life rafts and slip it off the ship. That way, the Blue Hats would still see the signal, but we could then make our move and be miles away from it.”

  “I like that idea.” Captain Warner said and turned to the figure in the back of CIC “Master Chief…you’ve heard what’s being said, can this be done?”

  Master Chief Marjorie Bunker, Command Master Chief for CVN Ronald Reagan nodded “Yes sir, I think that it would work. I’ll have a team on it ASAP…” she then added “…Sir? What would you have us to do with our ‘guests’?”

  Bull Warner grimly nodded “Our ‘guests’…get the Marines and round them all up, put them in the brig. After the GPS and other systems are ready to be set off in the life rafts, then bring them down to the aft flight deck elevator…I want to have a little chat with them.”

  Master Chief Bunker smiled and said “Aye aye sir.” She then turned and left.

  Captain Warner turned to his battle group commanders. “Well, we all know what we have to do…and we all know the stakes that are involved….lets get it done.”

  Gary had finished his talk with the Reagan Battle Group and felt somewhat relieved as he sat on the aft deck of the Nebraska. Even thought there was plenty of activity around him, he was mesmerized by the water lapping against the hull of the black instrument of war, a momentary disconnection of the mind. Unnoticed, XO Arlen White approached. “Kind of peaceful in a crazy way, isn’t it?”

  Gary came out of his fog “Yeah it sure is.”

  “Do you know what you’re sitting on Martin?”

  “A big black can of whoop-ass?” Gary smiled and glinted up at the XO with one eye.

  “Yeah, it is that…you’ve got your butt perched on Number 23…”

  Arlen paused as the Troublemaker looked beneath him and saw on the sealed hatch he sat on; ‘23’.

  “…we carry 24 Trident D-5 nuclear missiles. Each missile has 8 warheads and each warhead is rated at 150 kilotons…” XO paused “…Do you know what that means?”

  Gary shook his head no. Although he had an idea of the power of these weapons, he went along with XO White.

  “I like playing with numbers; here is what you are sitting on. Each warhead has 150 thousand tons of explosive capability, right? That translates to 300 million pounds of TNT rated explosive power. Now, let’s say that a typical hand grenade that you carry has…what, about 6 ounces of explosives. Let’s round up to a half a pound, ok?” Arlen paused to let Gary grasp the numbers “that means that each warhead is the equivalent to 600 million hand grenades, and that’s just for one warhead and each D-5 carries eight. Our entire missile payload Martin is the equivalent to about 115 billion hand grenades. That’s some serious whoop-ass, wouldn’t you say?”

  “15 Billion? Lets see, that about what…12 for every man, woman and child on earth?”

  “Closer to 16…but who’s counting?” Arlen smiled a broad grin. The tall lanky officer knew he got through to Gary

  Gary nodded “Yeah, that’s serious alright.” Gary thoughts went south momentarily “That won’t do anyone any good though unless we can get you out to sea...right?” Gary stood up and extended his hand “I’ve gotta go Arlen, you take care.”

  “Mr. Martin…you take care too.” Arlen shook Gary’s hand and the two parted.

  Gary turned back “Arlen…remind Jack about, 3pm, ok?” Gary walked through the security and to Jefferson’s car, a late model black 7 series BMW. The drive anywhere in a car as powerful and responsive as the BMW should have been pleasurable; however the relative short distance to the Miller’s seemed unnaturally long as Gary’s mind wasn’t on the experience of the vehicle, but of the upcoming missions. Pulling into the well maintained driveway which was bordered by manicured flower beds and a razor perfect grass yard, the house which was occupied by the Captain of the most powerful and devastating machine on earth, seemed so out of place with what was surely shaping up to take place within the next few days.

  Gary sat in the quiet confines of the BMW as he thought about the missions; mentally he checked his ‘lists’ trying to make sure that he had covered all of the bases. As he was thinking, Ruthie’s soothing voice came to him. “Don’t be afraid, Daddy” Gary snapped out of his thoughts and smiled “I’m not honey…thanks.” Gary launched out of the leather and wood appointed German luxury car and bounded towards the front door. Opening the door he exclaimed in a 1950’s TV voice. “Honey I’m home…is dinner ready?”

  April stood smiling and just shook her head “You are a smart aleck aren’t you?”

  Gary and April hugged and kissed as if they had been separated for a month, instead of hours. “Maybe one day, when I come home, then this will be how it is.” Said Gary. “Are you both ready?”

  Lauren walked into the den dragging a couple of suitcases, which made a click-clack sound on the tiled floor; she was obviously stressed and looked as if she hadn’t had sleep in a week. “I think I have everything.” She said exhaustively and sadly.

  Troy Graham also came into the den; Gary in his preoccupied thoughts had missed Graham’s truck parked along the street. “Let’s get Mrs. Millers stuff into the truck.” Troy looked at her “You can come with me.” Lauren looked around her home, and started to cry, not that she would miss Kings Bay or their home, the cry masked the fear for her husbands safety.

 Gary read her thoughts and tried to assure her. “Lauren…”Gary looked at the woman and her tear filled eyes “…Jack’s got some help coming.”

  She choked out “He does?”

  “Yeah he does. I was on the phone earlier with the Captain of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Battle Group. They are going to help Jack….you’ve got to trust them, ok?”

  Graham looked somewhat surprised “The Reagan Battle Group…” Graham smiled “…nice!” Graham looked at Lauren and nodded his approval.

  As the group loaded up, Gary went into the back bedroom and brought out his Garand rifle along with their back packs. He handed the Garand to April. “You hold this for me, alright?”

  “Aren’t you going to need it?” April questioned

  “The Marines hooked me up with another weapon.”

  “The Marines?” Both ladies said at the same time 

  “Oh, yeah…I guess I forgot to tell you about them...” Gary paused and smiled at his love “…I guess we’ve got a little help too.”

  April felt a huge load lifted off of her shoulders as she felt that any help for Gary and the SEAL’s would be a ‘God send’. “Is there anything else that you forgot to tell me?”

  Gary smiled, shrugged his shoulders “I don’t think so.” The group loaded up the two vehicles and paired off. The drive to JR Stevens Farm took about 20 minutes; as the two vehicles ignored the local speed limits on the country roads. As they were driving in Jefferson’s car, Gary and April held hands. “So, Jack has some help…and you guys now have Marines helping you…” April paused and her thoughts focused on their morning separation“…I missed you Gary…”April clamped onto Gary’s hand like a velvet covered vise “…please be careful…”

  Gary looked over at April and saw her wipe a tear. “Listen, you know I’m going to be careful…” Gary paused and redirected the conversation “…you’ve got a lot of work to do. The Marines are going back with you, Lauren and Graham…”Gary took a breath “…you need to help Will and Terri prepare for the worst.”

  “What is the worst, Gary?”

  Gary told April of the possible scenarios and what was planned.

  April looked over with fearful wide eyes and blankly nodded ok. “Do they all know?”

   “No…” Gary shook his head as he paused “…when you get on the truck, you tell the Marines and Graham what I just told you…Graham will know what to do when you get to Terri’s place. You won’t have any time to mess around, so try to get your rest in the truck, ok? I’ll tell Rob what I just told you, after you all are on the road.”

  The black BMW ate up the miles smoothly, leaving the blue Ford pick-up a distant speck in the rear view mirror. Gary slowed as they neared where the farm turnoff was supposed to be. The blue and white painted plywood sign read ‘JR Stevens Meats and Produce’ Gary slowed and turned left onto the roadway. Moving along the dirt and gravel road Gary saw Grahams truck pull in behind, leaving a pale white dust trail swirling behind. Gary looked at April and they spoke at the same time.

  “What’s that smell?”

  “OH MY GOD…that’s awful!” April scrunched her nose and then pinched it with her fingers. JR Stevens Meats and Produce; is a hog farm.

  Driving into the main farm parking area, Gary saw NASCAR Larry’s red Chevrolet and an almost identical gloss black copy of the same vehicle parked next to it. Twin red, white and blue tractor trailer trucks were parked side by side facing outward toward the road. The trucks, with their Confederate Battle flag decals on the doors, were filthy with hog feces and urine splashed down the sides of aluminum trailer. The trucks side advertising declared “Pork, the OTHER White Meat.”

  Gary parked the car as April sat inside still holding her nose. NASCAR Larry was talking to a tall well tanned and tawny young man; they both looked over and walked to the BMW. “Mr. Martin, this is Jimmy…he’ll help with any driving that needs to be done.”

  Jimmy extended his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you sir.”

  “Nice to meet you too Jimmy, you don’t sound like you’re from the south.”

  “I’m from California. I know Larry from the racing circuit.”

  A very large man dressed in blue coveralls and wearing a months worth of sweat and dirt stepped forward and introduced himself with a deep southern drawl. “I’m JR Stevens, pleasure to meet you.”

  Graham pulled next to the group and exited the pick up, Lauren stayed inside as Graham had the air conditioning running full blast. April saw Lauren and made a quick exit of Jefferson’s car and jumped into the Ford…still holding her nose.

  “Whew…it’s a bit ripe here isn’t it?’ Graham said

  “Actually, you’ll get used to it.” NASCAR Larry smiled

  While the group was standing, other cars started piling into the lot. As the men came out, the reactions were all the same. Popeye Adams pulled in and exclaimed in his loud salty voice “Smells like a God-dammed Tijuana Shit House here!” Everyone laughed as greetings were made. Captain Miller was the last to pull in.

  “Ok Larry, where is the transportation?” Gary asked

  NASCAR Larry pointed to the nearest truck which had its engine idling. “Right there.”

  Gary looked at NASCAR Larry and said “Are you serious?”

  JR stepped forward “Let me show you what we got heah.” JR and everyone else walked to the rear of the trailer and watched as he began to winch down the ramp. With the gate fully down it exposed a three tiered interior. The top two tiers were for the hogs. In the lower tier was a large aluminum container which had its own well sealed door. The lower tier had enough area where hogs could be on the outside of the container thereby blocking an outsider from viewing the illegal cargo. Stepping into the trailer, JR opened the door to the interior box revealing a sparkling clean and cool storage compartment large enough for at least 20 people. JR was certainly proud of his design and construction. “They is room enough heah for all ya’ll, and yo stuff. We’ve got air conditioning and lights and an intercom with the driver. The vent comes from the front of the truck, so ya’ll won’t smell the hogs…even though they be stand-in right on top of you.” JR smiled and finished “Them A-rabs won’t mess with hogs.”

  Everyone was impressed with the creativity and craftsmanship of the design. Gary looked at JR “That’s pretty slick.” The Marines started to unload their gear from their cars and stack it into the front of their compartment. Gary noticed a M47 Dragon anti-tank missile launcher with spare rounds and plenty of small arms, SAW machine guns, grenades and packs of explosives. The Marines came well equipped for a fight. Gary spoke with the Major and his Sergeant “Here is a map of where we need you to be, it’s marked ‘Site R’. Recon this area and stay out of sight of the Predators. When we get back from the Kelley Support Center, we will come to Ft. Ritchie…at that point we should know which area has the Control Trailers for those Global Hawks…” Gary paused as the Marines looked at the map “…now Site R is an underground communications center, that is supposedly to be nuclear proof. It is also rumored that the President, her staff, Congress and the Senate are bunkered there…” Gary paused as the two Marines looked and grinned in a foul manner “…We will use the satellite cell phones to communicate, we can also text message, ok?” Gary looked at the two “Any questions?”

  “What about the President?” Major Simmons asked

  “Well…if she likes it so well inside that hole, then let’s oblige her…for a long time.” Gary grinned and the two Marines understood exactly what he meant.

  JR came over and motioned to a beat up mini van, whose side door was open showing two large coolers. “My wife packed some food and drinks for your travel. Mary Beth even put in some playing cards and magazines if ya’ll get bored…”JR looked at the men “…now Willie’s going to drive ya’ll, and Willie don’t stop, so…” JR held out a roll of toilet paper “…there’s a trap door in the floor of the container, if you need to do your business.”

  “JR…thank you.” Gary said with the Major and Sgt Boltz agreeing and shaking his hand. Gary turned to the pick-up and motioned for April and Lauren to come out, and to come over.

  Jack walked to Graham’s truck and held Lauren as she exited. The two walked slowly holding hands, looking not like a couple about to be split up by war, but like a couple on their first date…oblivious to all around them. Graham went to the truck and brought all of the gear and started to load it into the trailer.

  April held Gary for dear life. Gary would not forget the smell of her hair or the softness of her skin, as she would not forget the strength of his shoulders or tenderness of his touch. They looked at one another for one last time, kissed and parted. As April started up the ramp she turned and said “You better come back Gary Martin.”

  “Don’t worry about that…you’ve got my Garand and I never leave a good rifle behind.” Gary smiled as April smirked at his joking attempt to hide his own sadness.

  As the Major and Sgt were ready to enter the truck, Gary thought of something “Major Simmons, Sergeant Boltz…I want you to read something before you go.” Gary took a folded envelope out of his back pocket and removed its contents, which was a letter he had written earlier that morning. Handing it to Major Simmons, he waited for his reply.

  Major Simmons read it and looked at The Troublemaker. “Did you write this?”

  Gary nodded yes.

  “That’s good…that’s real good…” the Major paused “…would you mind if I sign on in agreement with this?”

  Gary nodded yes. “I don’t mind at all Major.”

  Major Simmons took a pen out of his top pocket and signed the letter, and then handed it to Sergeant Boltz. As he did, Rob and all of the SEAL’s came over. Sergeant Boltz also took a pen and signed his name. Within a few moments, everyone wanted in on the letter reading and signing, including JR Stevens. The letter chain ended with Jack, who read it…smiled and penned his name. Jack took the letter and gave it back to its author, who then folded it and handed it to the Major. “Make sure that Jonathan gets this, ok?”

  “Who is Jonathan?” Major Simmons asked Gary

  “April will explain it all to you.”

  As they were speaking, Willie strode over and pointed at his watch. “We better get on the road.”

  The northbound group was then sealed into their container, the squealing hogs were loaded and the truck, belching black exhaust out of its two vertical chromed pipes, slowly pulled out for the drive north.
  As Gary watched the tractor trailer move out down the graveled drive, he thought about something he had seen on TV years ago. It was a black and white newsreel of an aircraft carrier, plowing through heavy seas, trying to launch its cargo. The aircraft carrier was the Hornet and its cargo consisted of sixteen B-25 medium bombers. The bombers struggled mightily to get enough airspeed to be airborne…they succeeded, and the first strike against the Japanese homeland was started.

  The Troublemaker smiled grimly as their first strike was now on its way.

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