Kat thought the wormhole was no fun. Ash had explained how the shield was going to interact, “He thought”; it was worse. The heat was higher yet not critical, the problem was that in cloak mode she had no idea who had made it or where they were.
The cloak obviously worked for they were by the observation shell the UNWG or the dammed Rogons had put up. She was drifting in at, to her a comfortable 2 G’s perceived; which was now 200 G’s real was someone else’s problem.
Finally she was far enough in system and in open space that she could drop cloak and shed heat. In mere moments four more MK V-A’s appeared to her Alchibah grade sensors. They had all made it, Kat looked at her right seat and asked, “You ready for it Connor?”
From the jump seat came the disgruntled voice of Connor Benjamin, “I should be going down there or Emon at least.”
Gaberial Benjamin rumbled from the right seat, “Brother one more time. No one goes down there that is on the UN watch list. Jai is clean, we are not and no we can’t take anymore space more than that absolutely necessary for crew. We are here to haul Belters home.”
Connor grumped, “Has Andy been coaching you on what to say?”
Gabe turned and beamed at him, “Of course, that and Histy!”
“Shooter to borrow a phrase of yours, I will be double dipped in shit. Our accounts are still there,” was Mariana’s stunned statement.
“Of course,” said Andy, “it’s a honey trap looking for activity. That’s why you have to make it look like the Resistance got in and stole it. This whole thing is supposed to look like it is a cover for this transaction.
“We wait till we are sure Ash is safe and ready to ride cover for you. 450 million New Credit’s moving have to get their attention, you know we could have stayed there and lived well?”
Mariana’s face was stunned, “Yes and died childless and in chains. I did not marry the man who would have stood for that! Nor did you marry a woman who would sit around a twiddle her thumbs all day.”
The communication system chimed on the new secure crypto channel, “Ready when you are Big Sis!”
Andy glanced across the cockpit, “When was the last time I told you I love you? Now go mess with the system and give us the first layer of cover. Got the shopping list ready?”
“Damn Skippy, this time I get me a full Level 5 Lab,” Mariana grinned.
Andy grinned, “Just don’t forget my Molecular Beam Epitaxy gear. Hell, send the rest of the dough to the resistance accounts. Hunter is due with those Dragon Heads in 10 minutes.”
Mariana began a frantic stream of keyboard commands tied into the System Economic Network. A fortune began to flow into dubious accounts that were linked to the Alliance of Free States, courtesy of Connor Benjamin. UNWG scanner Bots and some on shift Humans tried to interfere; they were stopped cold by the uber hacker Ashcroft Andrews. The entire UNWG security network went on alert 180 degrees away from where they were going.
Andy had sent a bank draft and a letter to a Private Investigator recommended by Connors friends. The reply was very promising:
Jason York is a “Person of Importance” to the Alliance of Free States. As such he is watched wherever he is. Expect confirmation of whereabouts in 4 to 8 hours.
Andy could live with that.
Shifting channels Andy spoke to Connor and Ari, “OK, Connor get through to the Alliance and see what they have for cleaner bank accounts than what we have. Ari see if your Abba has a clean account, we can send his group 30 million or so.
“Then Connor get on the belters channels and find out where we pick up the non-combatants Break; Larry you make it?”
“Yeah Andy, we are here but I am not taking the Galileo out of cloak till we are ready to make the pick up. We are big enough to be seen even out here.”
“Sounds good Larry, we have plenty of time. Let’s stay cool, get everything set up and have you on your way back in plenty of time for us to make Hunter’s schedule. We have a couple of days to kill anyway. Let the BOD shock wear off.”
UN Space Traffic Control
Quito Ecuador 17:00
The screen began flashing with two unknowns approaching high and from the south; a second later the icons changed identifying both intruders as Rogon Dragon ships.
The operator turned to the watch officer, “Shall I challenge them for Ident, and clearance?”
“Why bother? They won’t answer, and we won’t send interceptors against Rogons.” He looked at the course projection intersecting Mexico City, “Just more snakes going to the bullfights…turn off the alert.”
Dragonhead #10 Revenge
The Mexican coast was coming up fast in the viewport. Hunter St. James turned to the man in the medical assistance chair, who was also steering the ship, “Ok Guy, make your turn and take her as low as you can.”
“Aye Aye! My Capitan and thank you,” came the Spaniards gentle reply.
“Nonsense Lieutenant, no-one in the Navy has more low level flight time over Baja than you; just try not to kill too many fish.”
Jai Benjamin gave the Commodore a quizzical look.
Hunter St James explained, “I met Lieutenant Anselmo, when I did a tour as C.O. of the fighter wing at Luna base. I soon found out that Mr. Anselmo doesn’t like his head any further off the ground when he flies, then it is when he walks. Every time he flew down here, his bird would come back smeared with pasted fish.”
Guy was not bothered by his Captain’s joke. He was a man blessed by God with a new life. Guy loved to fly, and for all its 200 meter length and bulk, the Dragonhead flew just like a fighter.
The two ugly vessels raced up the Gulf of California barely a hundred meters above the water. When they reached Estrella, the ships crossed over land and flying just over the crest of the mountains, directly into the setting sun, soon came to rest in the surf by a desolate beach beneath towering cliffs, a little south of Ensenada.
The big cargo doors in the flat tail of each ship quickly disgorged two UN combat hovercraft, all of which were soon seen departing towards the North.
One of the aforementioned vehicles peeled off, and headed into the Ensenada docks, but the three others continued north at close to 200 kilometers an hour. It was not long before they made landfall and proceeded at a slower rate up the banks of the Tijuana River.
A couple kilometers inland the last in line briefly stopped beside an old rusted fence line, as it sped away to catch the others, it could be seen that three people now stood in the desolate bush. A more out of place group would be hard to imagine, as this trio consists of a man and women in UN Navy dress uniforms, and another man in the coverall of a UN mechanic.
Nothing was said as the man in coveralls removed tools from his bag and quickly cut away a section of fencing. All three walked across the empty zone that once had been a landing strip.
The rating on duty at the Diversity Beach service and support center’s motor pool did not expect any visitors tonight. He quickly put away the pictures he had been looking at when the man walked in “My god, it’s a full Captain” he thought, for in fact he had not seen a full Captain in years; his hastily executed salute was sloppy at best.
The Officer in question wanted a staff car and a utility vehicle and his charge codes were good, no one questions Political Directorate needs.
In the bush southwest of Diversity City
The three hover craft had settled into a grassy area next to a line of gnarly trees. Several scraggly looking youths had been occupying the field but took off running when they saw the armored hovercraft.
Lew DeWalt surveyed the field. “What do you think top sergeant…will those punks report us?” He asked the iron jawed older man.
“Right Major, they’ll run right to the cops and complain how the goonies ran them off their illegal drug crop.”
Both men had a brief chuckle, but there was little time for that.
“OK let’s get those one-twenties set up!” There was a flurry of activity as the men and women in UN combat armor got to work.
United Nations Central Cybernetics and Communications
The guard on duty at the main desk, raised his eyebrows when he saw the tall man in full dress uniform enter the lobby, “Wow a full Captain” He thought “Been a while since I’ve seen one of those, and look at all those ribbons.”
The Captain stopped at an authorization terminal and began entering passwords, the guard monitored the process on his screen, and everything was good… “Oh Political Directorate, so the uniform and ribbons were fake! Damn PD bastard!” The guard looked away as the man in question proceeded into the building.
Hunter St. James had been here years before, and the layout hadn’t changed much, he quickly found an alcove on the main gallery with a private terminal and set to work.
Removing from his briefcase a memory module he logged on, using one of Richard Redmond’s codes and began an automatic search and download program to pull all the files from the UN system that were on the must have list. All data on the Rogons, Rogon-tech, the resistance, and Alchibah, for starters.
He then inserted a program wafer and toggled the run key. Within seconds every computer on the UN secure net was sent a message:
ATTENTION ALL USERS A MANDATORY SYSTEM RESTORE AND UPGRADE WILL TAKE PLACE AT 21:00 ALL ACTIVE SYSTEMS WILL BEGIN BACKUP DATA TRANSFER
THIS EMERGENCY MEASURE IS TO PROTECT THE SYSTEM FROM THE ORION WORM.
“OK got some time to kill, let’s monitor local security comms,” he thought.
North Island Secure Housing Complex
The UN police officer on duty at the night gate was surprised to see the utility vehicle approach. Maintenance never made calls after dark; he’d have to check this one out.
The first surprise was the pretty young Ensign with the Shore Patrol arm band driving, he was about to ask for ID when the passenger spoke up.
“Hey Dean-O! Remember me? How’s about a big kiss meshogah?”
The lady officer was obviously, a little ticked. “So my charge is a friend of yours, officer?”
“No ma’am! That dirt bag used to work around here a few years ago, I know him, but he’s no friend of mine!”
This seemed to relax the lady a little, “Well that’s one good thing, now we have to make a repair run for some bitch with enough clout to get her doorknob replaced at 7 at night, so let’s get jumpin.”
Officer Dean snapped a crisp salute even though, being a civilian, he wasn’t required to. “Yes ma’am, proceed,” as they drove off he couldn’t decide if he felt sorry for her…or jealous of him.
Jaisa Benjamin was nervous as she knocked on the apartment door, “If I blow this, everything will be ruined.” She thought, “I’m a fighter jock not a spy.”
The door opened and an attractive woman with dishwater blond hair opened the door. If she was surprised to see a shore patrol officer and a handy man, she gave no indication. Jai spoke up, “Mrs. St James, I have an important message for you, can we please come in?”
Sharon St. James heart gave a little flutter, but no, this was not that message, she opened the door wide to admit her unexpected guests. If she was surprised to see the man take out a bug detector and begin scanning her apartment, again she said nothing.
Jai was quick to begin, “Ma’am I work for your husband…I have a message.”
Sharon cut her off, “My husband is an awful long way from here young lady…”
Jai interrupted. “No he’s not, he’s only a few miles from here, he gave me this,” and she opened her hand to reveal a strange object.
It was an ancient Chinese coin, the kind with a hole in it. Sharon took it and looked at it closely. Jai couldn’t wait. “He said to tell you…Cherry Blossom!”
Sharon stood frozen for a moment. “Excuse me please.” She walked to the doorway of the next room, where her twin daughters were lounging on the floor, watching tri-vee. “Girls! Evac Code Red… this is real…move!” she said in a voice that would do a drill sergeant proud. The girls jumped up and raced to their rooms.
Sharon St. James had followed her man many places, Belgium, The Moon, Ecuador even Mars, and Hunter had taught his family one thing…when the locals started acting up…be ready to run…fast! Sharon had a bag packed in her closet; she added a few items from her dresser and pocketed the 9mm automatic from under her pillow. She then rejoined Jaisa and Ari in the main room.
“When are we leaving?” she asked.
“Actually we have about an hour,” Jai answered. “But, well…I have a list,” Jai handed the paper over to the older woman.
Sharon looked it over quickly, “These are the expedition families,” she said. “OK this will take some doing, toughest first.” The two sisters entered the room wearing rugged clothes, hiking boots and carrying backpacks. “Girls go to aunt Carmen’s and run Evac Code Red on her and those kids…and if Carmen makes a fuss tell her it’s my orders!” The girls raced out the door.
“Now let’s see…I need Teresa DeWalt to get the new families together.” She reached for the phone “Honey why don’t you and your aide sit down and have a cup of tea?”
A few minutes later Sharon looked at Jai, “You’re one of the rebels aren’t you?”
Jaisa couldn’t lie to this woman “No Ma’am, not anymore, I am a citizen of Alchibah,” was all she could say.
But Sharon had another question, “Will my daughters like your world?”
Jai was on firmer ground with this one. “I think so…my little sisters love it…we’re free.”
Chula Vista Mexifornian Republic
The delivery van driving through the parking lot of Julio’s Mini Mart, barely stopped as the doors popped open and a large object thudded to the ground.
As the van sped away the man in the shotgun turret on top could see a crowd was already forming.
In this neighborhood, anything unusual was a cause for celebration, and this was better than most. A big piece of sewer pipe with a manhole cover welded to one end and a couple old fence poles for legs at the other. No-body knew what to do with it but everybody wanted to take it home. A couple fights soon broke out, and the children began a game trying to roll the thing around on its base.
The local police patrol soon had the scene under observation, but from a safe distance. These officers knew better than to get involved with something like this, especially when the warehouse across the street was the clubhouse for one of the most dangerous criminal gangs in North America.
United Nations Central Cybernetics and Communications
Explosions had begun to rock the base a few minutes before, it took the shocked security detail several minutes to realize they were being hit by heavy mortars, but once they did they immediately called for help.
Hunter St. James placed a hold on the security alert, a few quick modifications and out it went.
The security police on Coronado received orders to pull all officers from their posts and proceed to UNCCC, ASAP, to confront an approaching mob of looters. The bridge across the Coronado Crater was to be retracted behind them in order to secure the Island. Within a few minutes UN police cars began speeding over the bridge and down the causeway. By 19:45 the bridge was slowly swinging aside.
North Island Secure Housing Complex
The calls were all made; Jai and Sharon were finishing their tea when Ari’s scanner started beeping. “Someone’s tapping the phone now?” asked Jai.
“Hmmm…no, some one,s accessing the call logs, someone local… they’re on to us,” said Ari.
“Who? The police?” asked Sharon.
“No, the cops should be gone, but a third of the people living on this Island are UN civilian workers, probably some PD spies in the bunch. We gotta move, they’ll be here any minute.”
Sharon grabbed an old field jacket with commanders insignia on it. “We have to stop them before the families start to move, we can’t risk the children.”
They all left the apartment and started down the stairs. “Just let me handle this,” said Ari. “I’m a soldier and we train for this kinda thing.”
When they reached the lobby they could see two shapes approaching through the glass door.
“Sharon over there,” Jai pointed. “Make a call.” Beside the open doorway to the building managers office was a directory and a phone for visitors. Sharon made herself look busy, as the men opened the doors.
“Corporal! One more insolent word out of your mouth and you’ll be back in the brig so fast your shadow will rate flight pay!” Jai blasted the hapless handyman before pretending to notice the intruders, “Hey! Who the frack are you?”
The men wore dark suits and were obviously armed, one with a 3 barrel shotgun, and the other with a machine pistol. Both weapons were in hip level firing positions.
“We’re UN Political Directorate agents,” the talker said. “Now put your hands up and show some I.D.”
Ari’s hand was in his tool bag ready to pull out the Ingram 15. “Need a distraction” he thought “so I can make my move.”
“My hands are up and this is all the I.D. I need!” Said Jai, pointing to the SP arm band on her left arm.
“Great,” thought Ari. “Everyone’s a showoff.” The PD goons eyes shifted towards Sharon, Ari followed their gaze to see a man stepping out of the offices with a pistol in hand. Ari started to draw his Ingram.
Crack! Crack! The silenced rounds were loud enough from 2 foot away. Jai was standing with arm outstretched, and a small Stainless Steel .45 in her hand. Ari looked back at the goons.
It takes three eights of a second for a dead man to fall, one was almost to the floor, and the other was halfway there.
Ari glanced back at Sharon…Her left hand was gripping the wrist of the mysterious stranger, her right, held a small black automatic pressing into the man’s eye socket. His pistol was sliding across the floor.
Jai stood at raised pistol. Ari could see her holster was not empty, “Corporal” she began…
Ari interrupted, “Hey, so I blinked!”
Jai was all business. “We don’t have time to waste. Get their guns and Idents,” she ordered.
Sharon had released her prisoner. “Mr. Winters you shouldn’t work late so much. Now, if anyone ever finds out you were here…they will lock you up for the rest of your life, trying to make you tell them things you don’t know. Maybe you should go home.” The man scurried away.
Jai scanned the Idents into her wrist-comp. “We’ll send these to the boss,” she said. “Now let’s get moving.”
United Nations Central Cybernetics and Communications
Hunter got the message from Jaisa, “I can make this fit,” he thought.
For the last twenty minutes he had been sending messages to various locations throughout the UN network. In the weeks to come, investigators would find clues, a printout here, a pay voucher there, pieces to the puzzle of the disappearances on Coronado Island.
He began to work, when the police investigators examined the crime scene they would find messages on the phones of the dead. Messages from UN Political Directorate; Orders to kill Sharon St. James and the other expedition families; and a warning that UN Internal Affairs was on to the plot, and protecting the families.
Evidence of a conspiracy would emerge, not enough evidence to convict, just enough to turn the bureaucrats against each other.
In the air over the bay
The head of the San Diego SWAT team could see the fires from the UN base…about 20 buildings were ablaze, maybe another twenty smaller fires. He knew where he would put mortars to hit those targets. As the armored air car angled down towards the Tijuana River, he examined his low light monitor. “Well…well…” he said to his pilot. “It looks like some UN heavies are already sweeping the most likely site, try swinging back around towards Chula Vista. We’ll look there.”
North Island Secure Housing Complex
They came one family at a time, with Terry DeWalt driving one big group at the end, but they all came. Sharon checked off the last just as the two hovercraft could be seen approaching up Alameda Avenue. She turned to Jai Benjamin, “Except for old Mrs. Guyton, who’s passed, and Becky DeSantos who’s shacked up with a plumber in Del Mar, everyone’s here.”
When the ramps dropped, some UN troopers jumped off and headed for the infirmary.
“We need medical supplies,” explained Jai.
“Good thinking,” said Sharon “You!” she said pointing at Ari. “Walk over there to the commissary and open that door. All the babysitters, over here!” Sharon was waving in some of the young women not busy with children. “We need diapers, baby food, some paper towels…and pick up some wine, you got 10 minutes.”
There were blankets and foam pillows in the craft; they began settling the women with babies in first. Teresa DeWalt made an art of placing families like she was making a flower setting. The soldiers were coming back from the infirmary carrying packing case with a couple young nurses tagging along. The corporal in charge smiled sheepishly at Sharon. “They want to come along ma’am,” Sharon motioned them aboard.
Ari and his little bunch came back with 6 shopping carts full of stuff and began to unload them. “Push the carts on board and pull up the ramp, wherever we’re going, I’ll bet they need more shopping carts.”
Jaisa was grateful and impressed by how smooth everything had gone. “You can sit up on the command deck, if you like ma’am,” she said.
“Thank you, but I’ll ride in back with my people.” As the craft crossed the beach and began racing south, Sharon hugged her daughters close.
15 hours earlier
The young man sleeping in the chair shivered under the heavy blankets that covered him, a moment later he was awake and cast the blankets off, before standing up fully clothed. The room was small, and lit only by the light streaming in through the window. Garish light from a big neon billboard advertising something he was neither wealthy, nor degraded enough to purchase.
He looked out to the street, “Damn…snow again”, he said to himself. His boss would be mad because he expected Jace to come in early when it snowed, not that he paid any extra. Jace looked at the two teenage girls sleeping in the bed. “Girls that age shouldn’t have to sleep together,” he thought, but there was only one bed, and the twins were keeping each other warm, their sleeping faces, barely visible behind the fur edges of their new red parkas. Reno was an easy place to make a living; Jace worked two, three, sometimes four jobs to make ends meet. He just wished he could afford to pay for a little heat up here. Maybe he should cook up the rest of the beans and rice, so the girls would have something to eat before school. A little heat from the sterno would be nice.
The girls had been taken in by the Mormon school. The Mormons gave the girls their new parkas, school clothes, and fed them at school. Every once in a while when things got real tight, one of the Elders would show up and help Jace.
Jace knew the Mormons must be part of the resistance; they were helping because Jace’s parents had been part of the resistance too. The Elders never said a word about it, but Jace knew.
The picture on the table was of a pretty brown haired girl; Emily’s parents, the Parkers, must have been with the resistance too…”Fools! Dreamers and fools,” he thought, “all that talk about freedom, they threw away everything.”
They’d been rich, he didn’t know it then, but a home in Canoga Park was way beyond the means of most people. He and Emily had secretly gotten married; they were going to spend their lives together…until that day.
He’d been at school, when he got a call from his mother. “Grab your sisters and come home right away,” she’d said. “We’re going on a trip with the Parkers.”
But when Jace got home, his house was surrounded by police…UN police. He hid the girls with some neighbors, and they ran for awhile…but they got caught. 6 months in a detention center and then out on the street, with just one word, their parents were dead…dead fools.
He looked at the picture again; Jace had tried many times to forget her, once for almost 10 full seconds, but it was hopeless. After 5 years he still didn’t want to talk to other girls.
The phone rang…”It’s 5 o’clock nobody would call me at this time,” he thought. “Hello.”
“Is this Jason York?” a man’s voice asked.
“Yes,” Jace didn’t recognize the voice.
“Jason York, who used to live in Canoga Park?” the voice asked again.
“Yes that’s me.” Jace was getting a bad feeling.
“Did you once give a girl a memory chip necklace? A Toshiba Forget-me-not?”
Jace was angry. “Who are you? What do you want?”
The voice took on a fatherly tone, “Relax son, the girl got safely to where she was going, even though you couldn’t follow…until now, are you willing?”
The voice in Jace’s mind was screaming “No! No! No!” but it was the voice from his heart that answered “Yes, just tell me what to do.”
“Who is with you?” asked the phone.
“Just my sisters,” said Jace.
“And your parents?”
“No, they’re gone,” said Jace.
“Do you have traveling money?” was the next question. Jace’s hopes began to crumble, “No.”
“Be at the Butch Cassidy 2nd National Bank in Carson City when they open. Tell the manager who you are, he’ll have money and instructions, follow the instruction exactly.” And the phone went dead.
Mo’s Diner Diversity Beach Pier
They had taken the bullet train to San Diego, and then a tube car to Diversity Beach. They’d made it to this lousy little diner at the end of this crappy pier before sundown …just as instructed. They’d been waiting almost three hours now, and the place closes at 9…15 minutes from now. They had a meal…then desert… then ice cream, and now coffee. The twins were so sugared up, they were giggling and being silly.
“I’m a fool!” Jace thought. “A stupid dreamer just like my parents,”
There were men out on the pier…cruel looking men. Jace could probably out run them, or dive in the water and swim; but the twin girls in the new red coats and shiny school shoes wouldn’t outrun anyone. So Jace would have to fight and die for chasing a stupid dream.
The door opened and a man walked in, “It’s worse,” Jace thought.
The man was tall and wore some fancy uniform with the UN Logo prominent on his chest. The holster at his side contained the biggest pistol Jace had ever seen. At least the girls became silent because both of them were terrified of anyone in a UN uniform.
“Jason York,” he said, as he handed Jace a photo. The photo was of a pretty girl with long brown hair sitting in a chair, she held a baby in each arm and was smiling brightly. “They’re your children, Jace… are you ready to go meet them?”
The angry eyed men outside pretended not to watch as Jace and the girls followed the tall man with the gun, down a set of stairs to the water. A moment later, a strange craft approached and they were pulled inside. There was barely room, as the inside compartment was full of big men in UN combat gear, or almost, because suddenly the twins were surrounded by women in UN combat gear, hugging and comforting them. Jace ended up sitting on a crate in the packed little ship.
The soldiers were telling jokes and smiling, a few bottles of liquor were passing around. Jace had never seen happy soldiers before. Someone handed him a cigarette and lit it for him.
Jace took a long pull and closed his eyes, and then for the first time in all these years, he prayed to God, asking forgiveness for his loss of faith. It had taken a while, but God had sent an angel.
United Nations Central Cybernetics and Communications
The chief system administrator was puzzle by what he saw on his screen. Half the base was on fire and it had taken him 30 minutes to get through all the extra security, but the attack had not touched the network hub. He just couldn’t understand what this “Orion Worm” was supposed to be.
The upgrade and restore program was standard UN protocol; every computer was required to make an encrypted backup and then destroy all other restore points. The memory image tables along with the encryption keys were sent to UNCCC. Then at intervals every system would have its’ memory wiped and replaced by UNCCC, with verified image tables and keys that would clear the backup files of viruses.
But this program seemed to have a defrag/reformat command built in and he couldn’t trace the routing of the backup keys. And one other thing, it had Political Directorate written all over it.
Chula Vista Mexifornian Republic
Estevan Gonzales was a fourth generation San Diego cop and after 32 years on the force, he was the third highest ranking officer. So he didn’t care what the Chief, the Mayor, or any of those news clowns said. He knew his first job was to keep this mess from getting any worse.
It started when that fat ass from SWAT reported mortars set up in the Vista, after local patrols had already verified them as fakes. Then about 300 car loads of UN police had converged on the scene with orders to apprehend and interrogate all suspects.
So now a thousand plus goonie cops were surrounded by about a 100,000 rioting vatos, and screaming for help. There is just something in a man that when he see’s the police makes him want to rob the local grocery.
From his command vehicle at Broadway and H Street, Estevan could monitor the surveillance cameras and direct his officers around the edges to stop the spread. Over a million surveillance cameras protected the country and every public safety organization was equipped with a wide array of integrated voice, video, and data communication systems to give law enforcement the edge over the mob.
And spread it will if those stupid tri-vee reporters keep making up stupid police brutality stories and other lies. If it doesn’t stop soon, by morning the riots will be all the way to Sacramento.
And the only thing that can stop this quick is a Brigade of Peaceforcers. God, he hated to call in the UN heavies; he loved these people, but they’d gone a little too far and now they were gonna get stomped.
And the surveillance cameras, police radios, telephones tri-vees, and everything electronic went dead…everywhere.
UN Space Traffic Control
Quito Ecuador 21:00
Quito Control monitored all space traffic over the western hemisphere. Anything out of the ordinary would rise to the attention of the operators.
One operator was scrutinizing two small vessels making a nearly vertical descent towards Mexifornia. The transponders were from Luna Aluminum and Tin, but that made no sense.
Suddenly all screens went black! The watch officer tried to switch to the backup…but there was no backup. The World was blind.
40 All news channels all in homes all over North America
The average household in North America has the tri-vee on 12.7 hours a day. On this particular day 137 million people were watching some kind of live action coverage of the events in San Diego. Oddly enough, no one had mentioned that the buildings set on fire by anti-Rogon terrorists, were located on a UN base.
The system that delivered this vast array of entertainment, news, and culture to the masses, was itself quite simple. All the signals were beamed up to satellites in orbit and then relayed back down to local networks. This way a few monitoring computers could insure that the people didn’t receive any misinformation.
And then every station went off the air.
Luna City The Moon
Luna Pilot 05:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
24 Rogon Battleships orbited the Moon, appearing on the radar like beads on a string. Each one followed the one ahead, by exactly 100 Kilometers…normally that was. This morning the 4th in line had pulled up and fallen back in orbit, to begin final approach with number 15.
The Rogons barely kept a minimum crew on board, but for some reason, had decided that the 15th ship needed some huge part from the 4th. And so this ponderous maneuver was taking place.
The controllers at Luna Pilot were nervous but not especially so. The Rogon vessels had excellent maneuvering drives and their autopilots responded instantly to every course and position update.
The final decel would take place when the two ships were 1000 meters apart and approach velocity was 100 meters/second. They would end up motionless relative to each other, at a distance of 500 meters.
And all systems failed.
The Rogons on board the converging ships didn’t realize until too late that something was wrong. In panic, the lower ship activated its main drive, which was exactly the worst thing to do.
Two 55 million ton ships collided at a hundred meters a second. The shock of impact killed every creature on board both ships, and then as they ground themselves into a single mass, began to pick up speed on a course to disaster.
Ensenada Mexico 21:15
The first hovercraft had been back for an hour, but it had only gone to pick up cargo shipped to an Ensenada warehouse. Cargo and hovercraft had already been loaded when the next two arrived.
As they pulled up on the sand, the ramps dropped, and soon women and children began pouring out. The crews began working to get the craft aboard.
Almost 90 civilians were gathered together beneath the tails of the big Rogon ships. Most had asked no questions when told to pack their most valuable possessions and get ready to move out. The Alchibah expedition families were a community within the greater military dependent population, and they trusted Sharon St. James as the wife of the senior officer. That was the way it had worked for centuries, but the Rogon ships had everyone frightened.
Jaisa Benjamin was trying to figure out how to get these scared people on board, when the last hovercraft came roaring up onto the beach and came to a stop in the flood light beams of the loading gate. When the ramp dropped, the first ones out were a shabbily dressed young man and two pretty girls in red coats and school uniforms underneath. As the three civilian led a procession of UN troops out of the craft, everyone’s attention was drawn to the girls as they walked up and stood directly in front of the St. James twins.
Two sets of twins of about the same age, stood and stared at each other in wide eyed amazement.
“It must come as a shock to find out you’re not the only person who keeps a spare around.” Sharon whirled at the sound of that voice and stepped into her husbands embrace. After a moment when she needed to breathe, she said, “I don’t know how you got here, and I don’t know where you’re going, but from now on we’re going together.”
Teresa DeWalt had let go of her son long enough for his sister Linda to give him a big hug. She looked around; not everyone was reunited with their loved ones here on the beach, but those who weren’t had figured out they soon would be.
“Well,” she thought. “Time to get this show on the road.” Terry put two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrill whistle. “You can do all that hugging and kissing when we’re on the ship, so start moving!”
Two Dragonhead’s rose from the Pacific and made course for deep space at max acceleration and no one even noticed.
Behind them the Murgo Point Orbital Defense Station and the UNCCC, disappeared in the appearance of a Nuclear Strike as four 5 CM .7C penetrators impacted the base rock of the two widely separated sites. The UNWG would spend 25 years and untold billions trying to detect Radiation that was not there.
Kat Jamos and Summer Pierce pulled out of their follow up runs and headed to rendezvous with the Task Force ships, as they watched Ghost and Reaper ravage the entire Clark Orbit. Laughing over the short comm Kat asked, “Any bets on them missing anything?”
“Nope,” Summer laughed, “geosynchronous is full of so much dust the UNWG don’t dare launch up there. Let’s catch up and go home!”
Screaming up out of geosynchronous orbit Reaper and Ghost were laughing as best you can under six G’s. “Let’s see them fix that fast,” said Ghost.
“Twenty years at least,” laughed Reaper, “remind me to buy Hunter a drink. I think I like his style!”