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Phoenix Rising Firebase Freedom
By William W. Johnstone
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2012 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhen Mehdi Ohmshidi was elected President of the United States, he campaigned on the promise of "fundamentally transforming America," and that is exactly what he did, carrying out that promise in a way that few could imagine. The result was devastating; a complete breakdown of America's infrastructure to include a total rupture of the power grid; dissolution of the military and law enforcement; the destruction of all commerce to include distribution of food, clothing, and services; as well as the cessation of all newspaper, radio, television, telephone, and Internet access. Paper money lost its value, and hundreds of billions of dollars lay undisturbed in worthless trash piles. Taking advantage of the collapse, Islamic terrorists detonated three nuclear bombs, and the United States ceased to exist.
All across the nation millions of Americans died, and their unburied, decaying, and putrefied bodies not only created a horrific landscape, but spread diseases that took the lives of millions more. One third of the remaining population became homeless, while nearly as many turned to crime as their only chance for survival. Within one presidential term, what had been the most powerful nation in the twenty-first-century world, was thrust back into the eighteenth century.
Here and there across the country, groups of Americans had formed enclaves of mutual assistance, and one such team was headed by army veteran Jake Lantz. Jake Lantz, a major when the army collapsed, was thirty-two years old. A helicopter pilot and flight instructor in the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, he was at the peak of physical condition, having scored a perfect 300 on his last PT test, maxing out on the three required events: push-ups, sit-ups, and the two-mile run. A not-too-prominent scar on his right cheek, the result of a wound he received in Afghanistan, ran like a bolt of lightning from just below his eye to the corner of his mouth. He had blue eyes and he wore his light brown hair closely cropped in the way of a soldier.
Raised in the Amish community, Jake had no reason to doubt that he would be a farmer, as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been. Like all Amish boys, he had learned the skills necessary to live in a world that shunned modern conveniences. He was a good carpenter, he knew farming, he understood nature, and he knew what wild plants could be eaten and what plants would have medicinal value.
But even as a child he used to watch airplanes pass overhead and wonder about them. One day an army helicopter landed in a field nearby. The occupants got out, opened the engine cowl and made a few adjustments, then closed the cowl, got back in, and took off. Jake knew on that day that he wanted to fly a helicopter. He also knew that such an ambition was not for an Amish boy.
When he was eighteen years old, Jake, like all eighteen-year-old Amish, went through rumspringa, a period of time in which they were exposed to the modern world. Once this coming-of-age experience was over, the Amish youth would face a stark dilemma: commit to the Amish church—or choose to leave, which meant severing all ties with their community and family forever. Jake made the gut-wrenching decision to sever those ties.
Because of that, he was excommunicated from the church, and being excommunicated meant being shunned by everyone, including his own family. When he went back home, in uniform, after graduating from Officer Candidate School, his mother and father turned their back and refused to speak to him. His sister shunned him also, but he saw tears streaming down her face and he knew it was not something she wanted to do.
After OCS, Jake went to college on the Serviceman's Opportunity College program, getting his BA degree from the College of William and Mary in two and a half years. After that, Jake attended flight school, fulfilling his ambition to be a pilot. His love for flying was not diminished, even though he had three combat tours; one to Iraq and two in Afghanistan. There he flew the Apache armed helicopter and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as the Air Medal with "V" device for heroic action against the enemy. He also received a purple heart when a shoulder-launched missile burst in front of the helicopter, killing his gunner/co-pilot, and opening up gaping wounds in Jake's face, side, and leg. He managed to return to his base, but had lost so much blood that when he landed, he passed out in the cockpit, not regaining consciousness until he was in the hospital. That was where he met the nurse, Karin Dawes, who was then a first lieutenant.
Jake had never married, partly because before he met Karin, he had never met anyone he wanted to marry. He had been giving a lot of thought to asking Karin to marry him, but with the nation in turmoil, he wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.
* * *
If you had asked any of Captain Karin Dawes's childhood friends about her, they would all say that the last thing they ever expected was for her to wind up in the army. Would they think of her as a nurse? Perhaps. All agreed that she was someone who tended to look out for others, but nobody expected her to become an army nurse. And certainly no one ever thought of her being in a combat zone, though not because anyone questioned her courage or her physical stamina, because she had always been very athletic.
Karin was a distance runner and a cheerleader, both in high school and at the University of Kentucky. She continued to run after graduating from college, and the last year before the collapse of America, she came in first place among all women in both the Atlanta and the Chicago marathons.
While in college, Karin fell in love and planned to be married upon graduation. But only three days before the wedding, Tony Mason, her fiancé, was killed in a car wreck. Karin was so distraught that she joined the army. She was sent to Afghanistan immediately after her training, and there she encountered a captain with severe wounds to his face, side, and leg. The wound in the captain's leg got infected and there was a strong possibility that it would have to be amputated. Karin made a special effort to tend to the wound, keeping him dosed with antibiotics, keeping it clean and aspirated, and treating it with antiseptic—sometimes spending the night in the room with the patient in order to attend to it—and the captain's leg was saved. His doctor told the wounded officer, Captain Jake Lantz, that Karin had saved his leg.
It was not entirely by coincidence that when both returned to the States, they wound up at Fort Rucker, Alabama: both had applied for the station. Karin thought she would never feel about another man as she had felt about Tony, but Jake Lantz had changed her mind. She would marry him in a minute if he would ask her, and if he didn't ask her, she might just ask him.
Seeing the coming collapse, Jake assembled a team of survivors, starting with Karin Dawes.
Marcus Warner was a helicopter mechanic who worked on the flight line. In all the time Jake had been in the army, he had never run across a better helicopter mechanic. He was also one of the most resourceful men Jake had ever met, and he knew that he wanted him to be a part of his team.
Sergeant first class Willie Stark was thirty years old. An avionics specialist, Stark could practically build a radio from scratch. He knew all the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of any radio, and he could read and send messages in Morse code. Stark, who others referred to as an "electronics geek," was also a wizard with computers.
Sergeant Deon Pratt was a powerfully built black man who had been an instructor in SERE, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape course at Fort Rucker. The consummate warrior, Deon was skilled in hand-to-hand combat. He was also an expert in firearms and explosives. Deon had won a Silver Star in Afghanistan for killing fifteen enemy fighters and rescuing, under fire, his captain and first sergeant who had been wounded and trapped beneath a collapsed building. Jake had thought long and hard about including a combat expert, but he realized that if there was a complete breakdown of civilization, Sergeant Pratt would be a good man to have on his side.
Sergeant Julie Norton had been Karin's recommendation. She worked in the hospital with Karin, primarily as a clerk, but the beautiful twenty-two-year-old black woman was an organizing genius, an efficiency expert who had taken the post hospital from a barely functioning mess to one of the best organized hospitals in the army.
These were the members of the group that reconstructed a Vietnam-era Huey UH-1D helicopter, which had been on display in the Army Aviation Museum, and used it to leave Fort Rucker and begin a new life.
* * *
It was not just happenstance that the group Jake assembled wound up at Fort Morgan. Fort Morgan is an old fort, built long before the civil war, at Mobile Point, a little spit of land that separates Mobile Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. During the Civil War Admiral Farragut's famous line, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead," was delivered while he was under the guns of the fort, and facing the torpedoes that blocked the entrance into Mobile Bay.
When Jake and his team showed up at the fort, there was nothing there but old casements and stone walls. Jake had chosen Fort Morgan for a number of reasons, number one being the most obvious. It was a fort, and Jake knew that as conditions deteriorated even further in the country, it would spawn armed bands of hooligans, preying on anyone they thought might have something they could use. As Jake and his group were going to be well off, relatively speaking, he knew they would be a prime target for such groups. He knew, also, that the fort would provide them with protection against such groups.
Inside the fort was a rather large area of arable land, probably the only place down on the beach that had real soil, rather than sand. Immediately after arrival, Jake and the team planted the seeds they had brought with them. There was also plenty of fish, and there was a considerable amount of game, from rabbits to possum to alligators.
Once the group reached Fort Morgan, they encountered three families who were living in beach houses, next to the fort. One was Bob Varney, a retired army warrant officer and former helicopter pilot, who had done three tours in Vietnam. Bob was also a novelist, who, until the collapse of the nation and currency, had been doing quite well. Now, however, money was useless, and Bob welcomed the invitation from Jake to join his team. James Laney and Jerry Cornett were the other two families Jake and his team encountered. Laney was a jack of all trades who could fix anything, and Jerry Cornett was a consummate sportsman who, very early, proved his worth in providing the little survival group with fish and wild game.
Although the national electric grid was down, James and Willie Stark managed to bring electricity to the survival group by adapting solar panels that they had stripped from some of the abandoned houses. One evening after they had been there for several weeks, they were shocked to pick up a television broadcast. And it wasn't just any broadcast, it was the broadcast of George Gregoire, a man who, in what they were now calling the "before time," had been the leading spokesman for conservative America, before the collapse of the Republic.
"Hey, you guys!" Stark called. "Jake, Deon, Marcus! Come look! We have television!"
The others hurried to the TV set to watch the broadcast.
This is a simulcast over shortwave radio, and satellite. That's right, I'm back on TV, though the size of my audience is probably less than a cable access show on the joys of scrapbooking. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of our little group of technicians who have managed to put our show up on the satellite so that those with electricity, a TV, and satellite access can see us.
First, I will bring you up to date on the latest news we have been able to gather.
It appears that the so-called Islamic Republic of Enlightenment holds only Washington, D.C. and Detroit. The fact that they hold our capital city has given them a great deal of cachet in the rest of the world, but we, here in America, know that they are unable to expand beyond that. Already there have been isolated and uncoordinated raids against the Enlightened ones, none of which, at this point, have been much more than a nuisance. In the meantime the Enlightened atrocities against our people, especially the women and children, continue.
Ohmshidi is alive and well, somewhere, we know not where. From time to time he will make a shortwave radio broadcast to rally his base.
Really? Rally his base?
Tell me, friends, does he even have a base any longer? I think not. I think that once we reestablish control, put decent Americans back to work and reconstitute our government, we will then have time to find Ohmshidi and bring him to justice for all the crimes he has committed.
That means we have much to do, America, and since last I spoke to you much has been done. I have been contacted on 5110-LSB by several groups of brave Americans who have banded together to fight this evil that has come into our midst. I will not disclose at this time how many groups I have been in contact with, where they are, or what their strength is. I will only say that for the first time since Ohmshidi was elected president, I am feeling optimistic.
It is my sincere belief that there are many, many more groups that have not yet made contact with me, so I feel that, even though Americans made the colossal mistake of sending an arrogant, incompetent fool to the White House, those same Americans are now prepared to rectify that mistake.
During those days when we existed as a democratic republic we often heard one party or another—whichever party was out of office—adopt the political slogan, Take Back America.
Well, my friends, this is no longer empty political rhetoric. This is a real and vital battle cry. And I urge you, with all that is in my being, to hold yourselves in readiness until we can coalesce as a mighty revolutionary army to do that very thing.
Now you may well ask, From whom are we to take back our country? Is it from Ohmshidi and his State Protective Service? Is it from the Muslim extremists who have captured Washington and who, even now, are persecuting Americans under the guise of their religious indoctrination? Or is it from the roving bands of brigands and thugs, people from among us, who prey upon the weak and helpless, Americans by birth, but not by any moral code that we all hold dear?
The answer, my friends, is that we must be prepared to do battle with all of them. I urge those of you who are watching this program, and those of you who are within range of this broadcast, to establish contact with the Brotherhood of Loyalists, and join forces in this new revolution.
Contact was made, and an alliance formed. It was good to know they weren't entirely alone.
Chapter TwoAfter detonation of the nuclear bombs and the complete dissolution of the United States, a tremendous power vacuum was created. That vacuum was filled by a fundamentalist Islamic sect that called themselves the Moqaddas Sirata, or the Holy Path.
Initially those Americans who had survived the total collapse of the nation under Mehdi Ohmshidi welcomed the Moqaddas Sirata because they began to restore order across the country, punishing thieves and murderers. They also brought in fuel and food, and reestablished electricity, water, telephone service, and the Internet. They even put radio and television broadcasts back on the air. Schools were reopened, newspapers were printed. The American Islamic Republic of Enlightenment applied for membership in the United Nations, and though they were denied full membership, they were admitted on a nonvoting observer status. They were accorded membership in the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Muslimabad, formerly Washington, D.C.
The governments of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia received a message from Caliph Rafeek Syed demanding that they recognize the Greater Islamic Caliphate of Allah, with him as the Grand Caliph. Every government contacted acquiesced to the demand. What had been the United States, and was, for a while, the New World Collective, was renamed the American Islamic Republic of Enlightenment, and Mohammad Akbar Rahimi was made Minister of Culture for Moqaddas Sirata in the new country.
Excerpted from Phoenix Rising Firebase Freedom by William W. Johnstone Copyright © 2012 by William W. Johnstone . Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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