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Children of the ApocalypseVolume 1. West Port
By D. William Manley
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 D. William Manley
All right reserved.
East of Greenland over the Norwegian Sea.
Eighth Strategic Bomber Wing B 52, tail number zero-two-seven.
"Anyone want another hardboiled egg?" asked Williams, over the intercom. "If I eat any more of these damned things I'm gonna start crappin' hard boiled chickens." Josh Muncie, the co-pilot, looked over at Ken Casey, the pilot and laughed. Casey chuckled and shook his head.
"That guy," he said. He keyed the intercom and replied, "It's a 'freakin' box lunch, for cryin out loud, Williams. When was the last time you went out somewhere and had a steak?"
"I am a junior officer in the US Air Force sir," he replied. "What's a steak?"
The other two Lieutenants on the crew, Dave Fallon and John Dane, keyed their mics at the same time, "It's something they feed Captains, ... yea, it's Major food," they said. The intercom was silent again while everyone laughed, then Williams keyed it again.
"Major Casey," he said, "Fallon says you got a steak sandwich in your lunch. Is that true?" Everyone started laughing again.
Major Casey replied, "I got two steak sandwiches, and you don't even get to smell them."
"That's it," replied Williams, "I'm punching out. What kind of steaks do they have in ... in?" He paused, "Where the hell are we?"
Lieutenant Fallon, the navigator, answered, "If I told you I'd have to kill you."
"Well, you might as well," he replied, "because I'm eating this last hardboiled egg, and then we're all gonna die."
Fallon spoke up and said, "The B-52, model G, has a pressurized exclusion system, expressly designed for protecting against a toxic gas environment."
Dane answered, "But what about a gas attack from inside the plane?"
Muncie answered, "We'd have to get rid of the source of the gas. That's what the bomb-bay doors are for." Again everyone laughed.
At that moment, a small red light began flashing and an alarm started beeping, signifying a coded message. Major Casey sat pensively for a moment, staring at the secure-com machine and watching the light flash. The unmistakable sound echoed through the upper level of the plane, and everyone went silent.
Major Casey looked at the light and said, "OK." He reached up and pressed the 'decipher' button and the wheels spun, like the windows of a slot machine, and stopped quickly, revealing five characters. He wrote them on the palm of his glove, and then reset the machine. The windows returned to all zeros. He cleared his throat and pushed the decipher button a second time and again the wheels spun, and stopped again on the same five characters. He sat for another moment staring.
"Captain Muncie," he said, "you have the controls," and he crawled out of the pilot's seat, back aft, to the safe. All was silent as everyone waited breathlessly. Major Casey spun the wheel on the safe and opened it.
A moment later, he returned to his seat with two envelopes, and gave one of them to Muncie. They both opened them and took out the small cardboard wafers. Muncie cleared his throat and said, "I have wafer number two-two-one-seven-Charlie."
Major Casey replied, "I have number two-two one-seven-Charlie. They are a set."
"Yes," Replied Muncie, "they are a set."
"Captain," said Casey, "I believe we should authenticate this message."
"I agree," said Muncie, "we should authenticate." They both broke their wafers and took out the small piece of cardboard inside, and then each, in turn, put the numbers on their cards into the keypad on the machine, and Casey pressed the "Authenticate" button. The numbers in the windows immediately spun to new characters, and they both compared the characters in the windows with those on their cards. Muncie gulped and said, "The message authenticates."
The major looked at his card and said, "I agree, the message is authentic." He then reached up and pressed the 'decipher' button a third time. The wheels spun again and stopped on the five characters that designated their mission.
The Major then removed another card from his envelope. The card had a list on it, and he found the character set on the list. He showed it to Captain Muncie and asked, "Is this our mission Captain?"
Muncie compared the characters, looked at the list and said, "Yes sir. That is our mission."
Major Casey then keyed the intercom and said, "Lieutenant Dane, key into your bomb-nav computer the characters, Tango, Easy, two, Delta, seven, and get me the information on our first target."
"Yes sir," replied Dane, "tango, easy, two, delta, seven,"
"Everyone," said Major Casey, "we have a mission. It's been double checked, authenticated and validated by both of us." He paused for a moment as the immense plane went into a wide turn onto its new course, South East. His voice got lower and more serious. "If we don't get recalled, or get another mission change," he said, "We should be penetrating enemy air space in about thirty minutes." He heaved a deep sigh, and got even more serious.
"I'll make this short and sweet," he said. "I fully expect the very best from all of you. You're all good at what you do and I know you can all do the job. In case you're wondering, I fully intend to deliver these weapons, without the slightest hesitation. After that I fully intend to do whatever is necessary to survive, without the slightest hesitation."
Lieutenant Dane keyed the intercom and said, "Kaliningrad."
After a short silence, Muncie replied, "Say again?" and as Dane repeated himself, Major Casey mumbled along with him, "Kaliningrad."
Muncie looked up and saw the major staring blankly.
"What's Kaliningrad?" he asked.
Casey turned slowly and replied, "A million people, home of the Baltic Fleet, two naval air stations, and it's not in Russia."
"Not in Russia?" asked Muncie. "Who are we going to war with?"
"Dane keyed the intercom again and said, "That's not in Russia, sir. It's Between Latvia and Germany."
"Yes," replied Casey. "Apparently everyone has chosen up sides, and I'm betting that Russia has gone with the Muslim half of the world."
Williams keyed in to the conversation and said, "And I guess we went with NATO and the friends of Israel?"
"Looks that way," replied the Major. "I always wondered if it would start in the Mid-East."
After another reflective moment, the Major keyed the intercom and said, "OK," pulling himself back into the moment. "The first order of the day is we owe ourselves to this mission, whatever it takes. After these four weapons are delivered, we owe nothing to anyone, except ourselves. So stay with me, and I will do everything possible to see that we all survive this day, you have my word on that."
All was silent for a moment, and then Williams said, "I'm with you sir."
"Count on me sir," said Dane.
"Me to," said Fallon, and all was silent again.
Muncie was reading the mission orders from his envelope and announced, "There is a post-mission landing and assembly area we're assigned to. These coordinates look like somewhere in the North Pacific, south of the Bearing Straight." He studied the numbers and continued, "Absolutely nowhere." He continued staring at the coordinates, and then said, "The Aleutian Islands? Is there a secret landing strip out there?"
"I certainly hope so," replied the Major, "if we're going to be looking for one."
Muncie continued reading from the combat orders, "Sadanka Island," he said. "The landing strip runs northwest to southeast at one hundred eighteen degrees. It is color camouflaged and has an instrument landing system on channel two forty five point three. Arriving aircraft use GPS or radio compass to approach coordinates and watch for sea lions and birds on the runway."
"Did everyone hear that?" asked the Major. "The Aleutian Islands are going to be our new home for a while." He then released the intercom button and turned to Muncie, "Sea lions?" he asked.
"And birds," replied Muncie.
"Dear God," he muttered. He opened the intercom back up and shouted, "Williams."
"Here sir," he replied.
"You get your toys fired up and tuned in. Once we hit enemy air space, I want updates on our electronic situation every sixty seconds. I want you to try to keep me informed of the threats as you're dealing with them, but only to the extent that it doesn't break your concentration. If you think we're being targeted, or if you smell a missile site or an enemy fighter, I want to know about it less than one second after you do. We've done this dance before, and you know the drill."
"Yes sir," replied Williams, enthusiastically.
"Fallon," yelled Casey.
"Yes sir," he replied.
"You keep track of secondary targets and be plotting alternate courses. If we can't hit a primary target for some reason, and have to go to plan B, I don't want to waste time figuring out where the hell it is."
"You got it sir," he replied.
"Dane," said Casey.
"Here sir," he replied.
Casey paused intentionally. "It's up to you, Lieutenant," he said solemnly. "You tell me when you want control; you tell me when you need control. Remember that while we're on the deck, under all the action, we're relatively safe, and that's where we want to stay as much as possible. Give us as much warning as you can before we climb to altitude for a drop, and play it as close as you can. People are gonna be really angry at us once we commit to this tour, and they're gonna be willing to take all kinds of chances to get a shot at us. 'Kamikaze' missions will be a distinct possibility."
"I will sir," he replied.
He turned to Muncie and pointed at the radarscopes. "Eyes," he said. "You are the eyes, Captain. I'm gonna be way too busy with terrain avoidance to watch for things. If we take damage or have a problem, I'll fly the plane and you do the analysis and corrective actions."
Muncie nodded and said, "Yes sir."
He keyed the intercom again and said, "We have about twenty two minutes before we get down to Terrain Avoidance altitude and combat speed. Until then, I want everyone to do checks on your equipment. I want all the toys up and running before we approach enemy air space. I'm starting an accelerating decent."
Dane's voice came over the intercom. "Come to a new heading of one-two-one magnetic," he said. "We'll stay on that course until we're well within enemy air space." He paused, momentarily, wondering if the Terrain Avoidance system that sounded so marvelous in theory, would actually work at five hundred miles per hour, six hundred feet above the terrain.
"This will be our first terrain avoidance corridor," he said, with obvious concern in his voice. Casey eased the aircraft out of its long turn, onto the new course.
Dane announced, "Our first target is four seven one miles out and we will be on target one approach on my mark." All was silent for a moment, and he said, "Three, two, one, mark."
The bomb-nav computer light, on the pilot's indicator panel, came on and several of the gauges indicated that they were now under the control of the bomb navigation system.
Major Casey threw another switch, and the terrain avoidance scope lit up with a silhouette of the horizon in front of them, and the little airplane icon showing where the bomber was. He hesitated, looked over at Muncie and said, "Ready to pull the curtains?"
Muncie returned his look and asked, "We're gonna be flying faster than a bad idea, low enough to pick pine cones, and you're gonna give control of the plane to 'Robo-Pilot'?"
He turned and looked out the window at the sunshine for, what he knew, might be the last time. He heaved a long sigh, then reached up and loosened the curtain. He turned back to Muncie and replied, "America has spent billions of dollars on that son of a bitch. I certainly hope he's all the pilot they claim he is."
They were both silent for a moment, then Casey cracked a big smile and said, "What the hell, do you want to live forever?" and pulled the big flash curtain down over his front window.
"God be with us," muttered Muncie, as he reached up and did the same.
"God be with all those poor people down there," replied Casey.
After a moment, Muncie shook his head and asked, "What did these people ever do to deserve this?"
Without turning his head, Casey replied, "And the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the heads of the children."
Muncie looked over at Major Casey and said, "That sucks!"
"Yup," replied Casey, nodding his head, "It sure does."
SATURDAY ... West Port, Utah. "Aggressive" is the name of the game in Soccer," he had always thought. Regardless of strategy or team work, when it comes down to three or four people kicking wildly at where they think the ball was the last time they saw it, someone is going to kick harder, wave their arms more violently and take more hits than the others, and sooner or later the ball is going to go the way she wants it to.
Linda Owens had three older brothers and was not at all uncomfortable getting wild on a soccer field without any concern over whose knee or nose she might break.
The Owens's were exemplary kids around the neighborhood but they were very athletic and although Linda was born a princess into a family of very handsome older brothers, she got no special status when it came to physical competition and was treated like one of the guys from a very early age.
As one would expect when the ball exploded out of the crowd of kicking, squealing fifteen and sixteen year-old girls, Linda came running behind it. Sleek and feminine, she looked out of place with her hourglass figure and long dark brown hair, running and controlling the ball with all the strength, coordination and timing one would expect from a much more muscular and rugged body. It was in her genes.
Her teammate and friend was Suzannah Tate, very tall and lean for her age. Not what you would call "cute," but obviously developing into a striking womanly stature. Her strawberry hair had a lot of body and was always wrapped or bound in something to control it.
She was the oldest of three kids with a frail mother and a very hard working father, who had two jobs and was always looking for projects that might make him an extra Buck.
Susanna took care of her mother and younger brother and sister and was her dad's salvation and he treated her accordingly. She was known by the other kids around the neighborhood as the girl with all the privileges.
She was also the most responsible kid in the neighborhood. All the local parents had no qualms about having her baby sit an infant, or leaving her their keys to watch the house, feed the cats and walk the dog in their absence. As a result of babysitting, dog walking and house watching, she always had money.
Some thought it was sad that she had so much responsibility at the tender age of sixteen, but she rose to the challenge and was proud of herself. She was bright and able and her status as an unofficial adult, along with her reputation at community functions as a great cook, was her "claim to fame." Her Dad made her social life a priority whenever possible and she accepted her lot in life graciously.
The third part of this team was Adriana Kirkbright. She was short and slight and looked quite immature for sixteen. Still shaped much more like a girl than a woman, she was strikingly "cute," with dark brown eyes that seemed too big for her face, and long dark brown hair. She was rather self-conscious about her size and more than made up for it with extra effort and energy going into everything she did.
When everyone else was standing still, listening intently to Coach Marley, she would be bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet with her eyes darting around as if the energy in her were about to boil over. She was the fastest runner on the team and wherever the action was on the field she was either in it or slightly ahead of it waiting for the others to catch up. One of her trademarks was a ravenous appetite, (she was a big fan of Suzannah's cooking).
The three of them streaked down the field with Linda controlling the ball and Suzannah and Adie on her flanks and slightly behind her. They moved like a synchronized team. When they approached the opposing team's goal at a frightening speed, Linda took an exaggerated big kick at the ball and the opposing goalie leaped in the direction she thought the ball would go. Linda had intentionally missed it. In the blink of an eye Adie, who had moved in half a step behind her, kicked the ball seemingly out from under her into a low trajectory that the goalie could only watch as it sailed by several feet away from her and into the corner of the goal.
The whole thing happened in a fraction of a second and left everyone staring in surprise. Then the field exploded in cheering and all three of the girls danced and squealed in the familiar ritual that was so often repeated.
Excerpted from Children of the Apocalypse by D. William Manley Copyright © 2012 by D. William Manley. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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