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Chaos in the Ashes [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the fiery aftermath of apocalypse, America, as we knew it, disappeared-and was reborn as the Tri-States. Under the Rebel law of Ben Raines, there are no slums, no gangs, and no crime. But a new breed of anarchists and malcontents have banded together to destroy everything Ben Raines and his army have risked their lives-and the future of a new America-to build. As devastating civil war turns race against race, brother against brother, and the nation's once-peaceful citizens into a modern-day barbarians, the ...
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Chaos in the Ashes

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Overview

In the fiery aftermath of apocalypse, America, as we knew it, disappeared-and was reborn as the Tri-States. Under the Rebel law of Ben Raines, there are no slums, no gangs, and no crime. But a new breed of anarchists and malcontents have banded together to destroy everything Ben Raines and his army have risked their lives-and the future of a new America-to build. As devastating civil war turns race against race, brother against brother, and the nation's once-peaceful citizens into a modern-day barbarians, the Tri-States explode in a firestorm of violence and chaos. Now it's up to Ben Raines and his Rebel Army to put the Red, White and Blue democracy back into business…before the red dawn of Armageddon. 
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497623255
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Series: Ashes , #22
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 175,273
  • File size: 1,002 KB

Meet the Author

Bill Johnstone was the leading author in Kensington's line of men's adventure fiction for more than 25 years. Besides the four long-running adventure series ("Mountain Man," "The First Mountain Man," "Ashes" and "Eagles") he also wrote more than a dozen novels on suspense and horror themes. Always on the cutting edge, Johnstone had his own author website early on at WilliamJohnstone.net.

William W. Johnstone died February 8, 2004. 
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Read an Excerpt

Chaos In The Ashes


By William W. Johnstone

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1996 William W. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-2325-5


CHAPTER 1

Ben was glad when he could no longer see the smoke from the fires of discontent. The big transport plane had entered Rebel-controlled territory. For hundreds of miles, the scene had been even worse than Cecil had described.

"We should never have left the country," Ben muttered. "I went against my own philosophy."

But he knew that even had he stayed, he could not have changed the course of events.

Ben dozed off and was awakened by the pilot's voice. "We'll be landing in about twenty minutes, General. The airport is secure."

"Landing into what?" Ben whispered.

Chaos. Rebellion. Upheaval. Mindless acts of violence and destruction. Civil war. Mobs of people running amok, after having reverted back to barbarism. Burning and looting and killing and raping. White against black. Black against white. White against white. Black against black. Senseless brutality involving all races.

"Everything we fought for, destroyed," Ben whispered. "The nation in ruins."

Again.

Back to the ashes.

Ben looked at his reflection in the window. His hair was streaked with gray. He was middle-aged and, for a man his age, in superb physical condition—but now, for the moment, he felt old.

As the plane slowly descended, Ben allowed himself to wallow, briefly, in self-pity, something he almost never did. His personal team, Jersey, Corrie, Beth, Cooper, and the teenage girl he had adopted while in Europe, Anna, sat away from him. They knew that when Ben was in a lousy mood—as he was now and had been ever since receiving the communiqué from Cecil—it was best to leave him alone.

Ben's plane was the first one down, a dozen other huge transports coming in right behind his. Ben stood up and stretched the kinks out of his muscles and joints and deplaned. He spotted Cecil Jefferys standing on the edge of the tarmac and walked over to him. The men stood in silence for a moment, content to look at each other, as good and old friends will do. Ben had to struggle to hide his shock at Cecil's appearance. The black man's hair was now completely white, his face deeply lined.

Cecil put out his big hands and gripped Ben's shoulders in an unusual display of affection. "God, but it's good to see you, Ben."

"Same here, Cec."

"I've got a fresh pot of coffee, some food. We'll talk while we eat. Come on."

In a private room off the main terminal building in what had once been a major American airport, the men sat and talked and ate.

"What happened, Cec?"

"The whole damned country just fell apart, Ben. With practically no warning."

"President Blanton?"

Cec shook his head. "We don't know where he is. We don't know if he's alive or dead or hurt or what. We do know that most of his staff, his inner circle, are dead. We think he and his wife might have made it out. But we don't know for sure."

"The new capital?"

"In a shambles. Taken over by malcontents. It's bad, Ben. Real bad. We've lost about two thirds of the SUSA, including the old Base Camp One. But we deactivated the missiles there before we pulled out. They can't be launched. I doubt if these idiots can even find the silos, much less get into them. In all our years of war, Ben, I have never seen anything to equal this. The slackers, the malcontents, the give-me-something-for-nothing bunch, and all the rest must have been planning this for months—maybe years. And they've got some real brains behind this movement."

"Sure they have," Ben said sarcastically. "All those ultra-liberals we read the riot act to several years back. I should have seen this coming."

Cecil stared at him for a moment. "Ben, do you really believe ...?"

"I damn sure do."

"But Blanton was one of them!"

"Was is the key word, Cec. He changed. He and I became friends. Friends as much as we ever could be. Certain members of his old party just couldn't take that." Ben shook his head. "I should have seen this coming."

"Oh, hell, Ben! Nobody could have seen this coming. We've got the best intelligence network in the world, and we didn't see it coming. If what you're saying is true, then the old ultra-liberal wing of Blanton's party just sacrificed God only knows how many thousands of people."

"They don't care about that. To them, the end justifies the means. They want back in power. They don't give a damn how that comes to be."

"That's monstrous!"

"Yes, it certainly is. I preached for years that liberals were a greater threat to individual freedom than communism. Now tell me what happened."

Cecil drained his coffee mug and sighed. "People began peacefully gathering along our borders. One day there were five thousand, the next day a hundred thousand, the next day half a million. Then they started pouring across and rioting and looting. They came across our borders in human waves, thousands and thousands of men and women and children. Hell, Ben, we couldn't open fire on unarmed civilians and little kids. We used rubber bullets and gas but they kept coming; our people were overwhelmed by the solid crush of humanity. We were spread thin as it was and the rioters broke through in dozens of places and began circling, trying to trap our people. But now they had weapons—"

"Carefully planned out, wasn't it?"

"It damn sure was. Communications became impossible. Our people had to keep falling back, fighting a rear-guard action over hundreds of miles of border. All this happened in a day, Ben—one day. Blanton's military was trying to contain the rioters in their territory, but they were spread much thinner than we and were quickly overwhelmed. Once the rioters became armed, we started using deadly force. Our field reports show that we killed probably twenty-five thousand rioters and wounded that many more before we were finally able to stand and hold."

Ben sighed and nodded his understanding. "I'm leaving a token force in Europe. Bringing the rest of them home. But it's going to be weeks before we have all of our equipment back Stateside. We're just going to have to do the best we can until then." Ben smiled. "Hell, Cec, we've fought worse odds."

Cecil leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face. "Jesus, ol' buddy, I'm tired." Then he smiled and it was the old Cecil once more. "I've been out of the field for a long time. I don't see how you do it."

Ben returned the smile. "For the most part, I've never left the field. That's how I do it."

Cecil cut his eyes to Jersey, Ben's bodyguard, standing silently by the door. The diminutive Jersey, all five feet of her, was as lethal as a spitting cobra. Trained in martial arts, she could kill with her hands, as well as being expert with gun, knife, or garrote. Everyone knew she was in love with Ben, but it was a love that was not to be, and Jersey knew and accepted that.

"I hate to hit you with this, Ben ... I know it's early. But what's the agenda?"

Ben looked down at the map before him; the territory the Rebels had lost was highlighted, and it was huge. "We start reclaiming our territory. Slow and easy. But this time we're going to be fighting a political war as well as a firefight. I hate to use the term, but we're going to have to win the hearts and minds—"

Cecil groaned and Ben laughed. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?"

Cecil said, "I don't believe these people we'll be fighting, many of them, even want a government, Ben."

"Maybe so. But this nation can't exist without some form of government. We certainly can't have anarchy. And the liberals don't want that either ... in the long run. But for now they're using anarchy for their own gain. We have a government, Cec. As long as there are people working together to make something better, to pull something useful out of the ashes, we have a government. But when we start our push, we're going to take it easy. We're going to talk to the people and listen to what they have to say. That's something that hasn't really happened since town meetings went out of style. Maybe we'll never be able to put this country back together again. Maybe we'll die as old men trying to do it. Maybe we'll die tomorrow trying to do it. But we've got to try. It can't be business as usual. We did something wrong, Cec. Blanton did something wrong. But our basic Tri-States philosophy works; we proved that. At least it works for us. But how about the millions of people who say they can't live under that type of open government? What about them? Is it that they can't live under our rules, or that they won't live under them? We won't be able to solve the problem until we understand it."

Cecil stared at him for a moment, then chuckled. The laughter took years from the man. "What is this, a new Ben Raines?"

"In a way, perhaps it is. Might be better, might be worse. We'll just have to see." He looked over at Jersey. "What do you have to say about it, Little Bit?"

"Well, the way I see it, we're going to kick them in the ass and then extend a hand to help them up."

Ben laughed. "That about sums it up. Now let's go see if it works."

CHAPTER 2

The transports never stopped except for maintenance. As the days drifted slowly into weeks, the Rebel battalions were gathering strength, back on American soil. Still Ben made no moves against those malcontents who now controlled—or thought they did—much of what used to be called the Southern United States of America. The SUSA. He would not move until he was up to full strength.

Ben had left three battalions in Europe for a time, to assist and advise the growing European forces: Batts 21, 16, and 17. He pulled everyone else back to the States.

Ships began docking at safe ports, unloading thousands of tons of equipment, including tanks and Hummers and helicopter gun ships and the souped-up P-51s that made up much of Ben's air force.

Ben was almost ready to move.

Ike McGowan's 2 Batt was the last one to leave Europe. When the ex-SEAL's ship docked, a plane was ready to take him to Ben's HQ, now located in what used to be known as Alabama.

After shaking hands, the two men poured mugs of coffee and got down to business. "Is it as bad as the reports I've been getting, Ben?"

"Worse, Ike. We've got a lot of territory to reclaim. And it's going to be a nasty business. We're up against hundreds of thousands of malcontents—for want of a better word—and we've got fifteen battalions to do it with. We've got the Gulf to our south, the Atlantic to the east, and facing the enemy west and north. I've made contact with some of their leaders, but they refuse to negotiate any terms. No compromise. For one of the few times in my life, I'm willing to compromise and bend some, to prevent blood-shed, and the enemy won't hear of it."

"So we start kicking ass and taking names, right?"

Ben sighed. Ike could see that he was clearly troubled. "It's not that simple any more. I wish it was. But I can't go in and start killing kids. The malcontents know that. I wish I could think of a better word than that, for malcontent just doesn't fit many of these people. I am firmly convinced that many are really good, decent people ... solidly opposed to the Tri-States philosophy."

"But they are also people who won't practice live and let live, Ben," Ike said softly.

"You're sure right about that. The same types of people who, a decade ago, supported gun control, more government interference in private lives, higher taxes for some totally worthless social programs, etc., etc."

"So what's the plan, Ben?"


Ben met Ike's eyes. "That's the problem. I don't have one."

Ben was stymied and he would be the first to admit it. He worked up and then rejected a dozen plans over the weeks while he waited for all his people and equipment to be made ready.

But when everything was ready, his people sitting on "Go," Ben still did not have a plan.

Mike Richards, the Rebels' Chief of Intelligence, had hit the road moments after his plane touched down right behind Ben's, and he and half a dozen of his spooks had vanished into the countryside.

Just as Ben was planning to tear his umpteenth plan to shreds, Mike casually strolled into the CP, pulled a mug of coffee, and sat down.

"So nice to see you," Ben said drily.

"Thanks," Mike said with a small smile. "Good to be back."

Ike walked in, shook hands with Mike, and then took a chair.

Mike took a sip of coffee, set the mug down, and said, "Billy Smithson is dead. What was the free state of Missouri is now in the hands of rabble."

"Damn!" Ben said. "That explains why we haven't been able to contact him."

"Both President Blanton and his wife were wounded. They're going to be all right, but it will be some time. They're in Canada ... or what used to be Canada. Parts of that country blew up, too."

"Does Homer need any help?" Ike asked.

Mike shook his head. "No. They're safe and well-protected. But the Joint Chiefs are dead. All of them. National Security Council—such as it was—dead. Most senators and representatives were caught in session in the capital. They're dead. We have no government. None."

"What started it, Mike?" Ben asked.

"It was a well-planned coup, engineered by the old left wing of the President's party. Many of whom were voted out of office a decade back ... but still stayed active in the shadows. Their plan was to control, to one degree or the other, everything east of the Mississippi River, and Simon Border and his forces most certainly control quite a bit of territory west of the river."

Mike left it at that, drained his coffee cup, and stood up, pulling himself another mug. He sat back down and exhaled wearily.

"You look hungry, Mike."

"I could eat."

Ben sent out for sandwiches.

Mike wolfed down two sandwiches, sipped his coffee, and leaned back in his chair. "Well, Harriet Hooter and her bunch helped plan the coup, but it backfired on them. The rabble turned on them. They couldn't control the mobs when they went on a rampage, as mobs always do. Some of the left-wing were killed in the first few hours of rioting. We don't know if Harriet and her immediate cronies are among the dead or not. The capital was sacked, looted, and burned by those mindless goddamn mobs of heathens. And they were of all colors. No placing the blame on any one group. Now the movement, if that's what you want to call it, has splintered into several dozen smaller groups, each group controlling a certain section of territory. And each group vowing to fight right alongside the other if need be."

Mike paused for another sip of coffee and Ben asked, "I was always under the impression that Simon Border was a big fan of Harriet Hooter and those that follow her; couldn't she have taken refuge with him?"

Mike sat his mug down on the desk. "It's a possibility, providing she and the others could get to him. But they were all in Charleston when the riots began, and Border is headquartered in Colorado. Harriet thought she was going to just walk right into the New White House and take over. She didn't take into account a mob's mentality. And there's something else—my people have uncovered a coup within a coup. Border was playing both ends against the middle. For a couple of years now, he's had people roaming all over the nation, quietly talking with citizens. And when we pulled out for Europe, Simon's people really went to work. When they were through, they had convinced most of the more or less reasonable-thinking men and women to come over to his side. They left Harriet and her group of fruitcakes the rabble, the punks, the gangs, and the hardcore criminal element."

Ben held up a hand. "Let me see if I can finish it for you. Drink your coffee and relax. Simon knows it's going to take us some time to deal with the groups on the east side of the river. While we're doing that, he's going to be hard at work building up his army and defenses, right?"

"You got it."

"And Simon Border's people helped arm and supply the rabble, right?"

"Give the man a ci-gar."

"That no-good, hypocritical son of a bitch!"

Mike smiled. "Right again, boss."

Ben drummed his fingers on the desktop. "Scouts reports that since the takeover, those on the east side of the Mississippi River, most of them, have turned once clean, quiet little towns into nothing more than filthy squatters' camps."

"Right again, for the most part. There are a few who have maintained the towns and villages, but damn few. Most don't know how to keep the sewerage and water plants working, and don't know jack-crap about power plants. It's pretty dismal. We're just about back to ground zero, Ben."

"We won't be for long," Ben said, a grimness behind his words and a hard glint in his eyes.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Chaos In The Ashes by William W. Johnstone. Copyright © 1996 William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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