A Time For Patriots
By Dale Brown
Copyright © 2011 Dale Brown
All right reserved.
I hear many condemn these men because they were so
few. When were the good and brave ever in a majority?
Henry David Thoreau
The recent thunderstorms had turned the yardif you could call
their little patch of dirt, grass, and rocks a yardinto a brown
crumbly paste, like soggy half-baked green-colored brownies. The
unpaved streets were in a little better shape, having been
compacted by automobile and construction traffic, but it was still a wet,
sloppy mess that sunshine hadn't yet been able to ameliorate.
This could have been war-torn Iraq or Afghanistan, or some
remote Chinese village instead, it was a relatively new subdivision
in the community of Battle Mountain, in north-central Nevada.
Battle Mountain began life as a small railroad depot and
mining camp in postCivil War north-central Nevada, nothing more
than a small collection of warehouses, shops, saloons, and brothels.
Although it became the seat of Lander County, the community
never got around to becoming an incorporated town, city, or even
a village. Even when the interstate highway was built nearby and
the U.S. Army set up a B-17 bomber crew training base outside of
town, the community never really grew far from its mining-camp,
And that's pretty much what Bradley James McLanahan
thought of Battle Mountain: yet another bump in his road.
Just one month away from his eighteenth birthday, tallish
like his deceased mother but husky and blue-eyed like his father,
Bradno one used his full first name except his dad unless they
were looking for troublehad had his share of moves and terrible
postings, like all Air Force brats. Although he didn't think so, he
actually had it pretty good compared to the kids of some other
officers, because he had moved just a few times in the eighteen years
his father, retired Air Force Lieutenant-General Patrick McLanahan,
had been in the service. But to his thinking, Battle Mountain
was his penalty for having fewer moves and bad postings.
Brad had been cooped up most of the morning playing computer
games and waiting for the hellish thunderstorms to blow
through, and now that the rains had stopped and the sun was coming
out, he wanted to get the heck out. He found his dad in his tiny
bedroom/office. "Dad, can I borrow the car?" he asked from the
"Depends," his father replied without turning. Patrick was
seemingly staring out the window of his bedroom, one hand hovering
in midair, his fingers moving as if he were typing on a keyboard.
Brad knewbut wasn't allowed to tell anyonethat his
father didn't need a screen because computer images were
broadcast to tiny monitors built into special lenses of his eyes so the
computer images appeared as big as if on a twenty-seven-inch high-def
screen; he typed on a "virtual" keyboard that he could call up as
well. His dad had been the guinea pig for many such high-tech
gadgets in his years in the Air Force. "Kitchen?"
"Clean, dishwasher unloaded."
"Sunday is my usual day to do the bathroom. Okay if I do it
"Picked up, bed made."
His father looked at him, trying to discern exactly what that
meant. "Maybe we should check."
"Okay." He watched his dad's blue eyes dart back and forth as
he made mouse-pointer movements by simply looking at log-off
commands on his virtual screen. He followed his dad down the
narrow hallway. Patrick peeked into Brad's bedroom across the
hall, checked, nodded approval, then proceeded past the hall closet
with the stacked washer and dryer, the kitchen/dining area, and
finally into the living room. The McLanahans lived in a double-
wide trailer, about half the size of their last residence in Henderson,
Nevada, near Las Vegas, but large and almost ostentatious
compared to many of their neighbors'.
Patrick scowled at a stack of magazines and junk mail in a pile
on the coffee table. "That stuff needs to be sorted, recycled, or put
away," he said.
"It's Gia's stuff, Dad," Brad said. His dad nodded solemnly. Gia
Cazzotto was his dad's girlfriendor former girlfriend, or wacko,
or alkie, he didn't know which. She had been medically retired
from the Air Force after ejecting from an EB-1C Vampire bomber
that had been attacked by Russian fighters over the Arabian Sea
After recovering from her injuries, Gia was sent to Washington
to face charges for her actions just prior to the shoot-down. She was
charged with causing injuries and damage to a peaceful vessel and
its crew in international waters, inciting an international incident,
disobeying orders, and dereliction of duty. Patrick went with her
to lend support and to testify on her behalf, but was barred from
doing so because he faced his own charges. She was found guilty
in a court-martial and sentenced to three years in prison, reduction
in rank to second lieutenantshe had been a full colonel, in command
of a high-tech bomber unit in Southern Californiaand
a less-than-honorable discharge. Her sentence was commuted by
President Kenneth Phoenix hours after he assumed office, but the
less-than-honorable discharge remained.
Gia was never the same person after that, Brad remembered.
She was angry, quick-tempered, restless, and quiet. The charges
against his father were dismissed by the president, which only
seemed to make her angrier. The president could have completely
pardoned her, but he didn't, saying that in good conscience he
couldn't overturn a jury verdict, even if he believed what she did
was in the best interests of the United States of America. That
made her even angrier.
When his father accepted this job in Battle Mountain, she
accompanied them for a while, helping to set up the trailer and watch
over Brad while his father worked, but she was definitely no fun to
be around like she was in Henderson. She started drinking: good
stuff at first, top-quality Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonsBrad
always got a little tastethen when the money ran low and she lost
her job, it was whatever was cheapest. Soon after, she started
disappearing, first for a couple days, then a couple weeks at a time. Who
knew if she'd ever be back?
"Sorry. Don't worry about it," Patrick said, straightening his
shoulders. He nodded toward the desk with the drawer with all
the keys in it. "If it needs gas, you know what to do. Watch the
speed limits. And no driving on the interstate. Got some cash?"
Patrick nodded. Damn, he thought, his son was grown up,
almost his own guy. What in hell would living in this trailer feel like
without him? "Call if anything happens."
"I know, I know, I will," Brad said. "Thanks." Like all of his
friends, Brad got his learner's permit at exactly age fifteen and
a half on the dot because a car meant real freedom in an
isolated place like Battle Mountainthe nearest town of any size
was Elko, more than seventy miles away and accessible only by
the interstate, unless you really liked serious off-roading. The cops
knew that, and they liked to ticket kids who drove at night or used
the interstate highway, which was not allowed for drivers with only
The phone was ringing as Brad dashed out the doorno one
he wanted to talk to right now used the home phone, so the quicker
he could get away, the better. He had made it to the car and was
just opening the driver's door when he heard the front door to the
trailer open and his dad shouted, "Brad!"
"Gotta go, Dad," he shouted, not stopping. Sheesh, he thought,
who calls the home number for him on a Saturday afternoon?
All his friends used his cell number. "I'm meeting Ron and he
"Squadron recall," Patrick said. "Actual. Everyone. Seventy-two
They did. All thoughts of freedom disappeared as he dashed
back into the house. Hanging out with his friends, driving, playing
computer games . . . all good, but they were all pretty lame
compared to this.
Patrick and Brad raced back into the trailer, and within
moments reemerged from their bedrooms dressed in completely
different clothes. Patrick wore a sage-green flight suit and black
leather flying boots. The black leather nameplate above his left
pocket had a set of Civil Air Patrol wings, his name, the letters
CAP in one lower corner and his Civil Air Patrol rank, COL, on
the other (even though Patrick retired from the Air Force as a
lieutenant-general, the highest rank he could attain in Civil Air
Patrol without earning advancement points was colonel), along
with Civil Air Patrol and Nevada Wing patches. Brad wore a
camouflaged battle-dress uniform with blue-and-white cloth name
tapes with MCLANAHAN on one side and CIVIL AIR PATROL
on the other, along with a green camouflage cap, an orange safety
vest, and black leather combat boots. Both carried backpacks with
extra gear; Brad carried a smaller pack on his web belt. "Ready to
go, big guy?" Patrick asked.
"Ready." Like the costumed heroes Batman and Robin heading
to the Bat Mobile, the two raced to Patrick's four-door Jeep
Wrangler and drove off.
The roads in the trailer subdivision were muddy from the
recent thunderstorms, but the Wrangler handled them with ease.
The subdivision was a temporary trailer housing settlement built
during the expansion of the air base located nearbyat least it was
meant to be temporary, until the sudden and dramatic downturn
in the economy and the new president's response to the crisis made
the trailers permanent. The roads were still unpaved, and now half
of the trailers were empty.
It took about five minutes to get back on paved surfaces, and
then another ten minutes before reaching the outer perimeter of
the airfield. The perimeter was a simple sign and chain-link fence,
designed more to keep tumbleweeds and coyotes out, and an
unmanned guard gate. But Patrick and Brad both knew that their
identities were already being remotely determined and recorded,
and their movements carefully tracked by the air base's high-tech
security sensors. Joint Air Base Battle Mountain didn't look much
different from the surrounding high desert, but at this place, looks
What was now Joint Air Base Battle Mountain had a colorful
past, most of which the public was unaware of, or at best indifferent
to. It started life as Tuscarora Army Air Corps Field in 1942
to train bomber and pursuit crews for service in World War II.
After the war, the airfield was turned over to Lander County, and
some of the government land south of the field sold to mining
companies. A few businesses and an air museum tried to make a
go of it at the isolated airfield, but there simply wasn't that much
business in remote north-central Nevada, and the airfield seemed
But the underground elevators, buildings, rail lines, power
distributors, and ventilation systems that popped up around the
airfield were never meant for miners: the U.S. government secretly
constructed a vast underground cave network beneath Tuscarora
Army Air Corps Base. The facility was designed to be a government
reconstitution command center, a base far from population
centers to which the heads of the U.S. government and military
would escape and ride out a Soviet or Chinese nuclear-missile
attack. After the attack was over, the officials at Battle
Mountain would broadcast instructions to the survivors and begin
rescue and regeneration efforts for the people of the western United
The facility was the ultimate in 1950s technology: it made its
own power, air, and water; it was built to withstand anything but
a direct hit with a one-megaton nuclear warhead; it even boasted
an underground hangar with elevators that would take aircraft as
large as a B-52 bomber belowground to safety. The base was so
isolated that most miners and ranchers never realized the facility
But when the Cold War ended, Battle Mountain was shuttered
until it was reactivated in the early twenty-first century
by General Patrick McLanahan as the headquarters for a new
high-tech aerial attack unit called the Air Battle Force. The Air
Battle Force contained some of the most secret and amazing
air combat machines ever built: two-hundred-ton bombers with the
radar cross section of a flea; bombers fitted with lasers that could
shoot down ballistic missiles and satellites in low Earth orbit; even
multiple flights of unmanned bombers that could fly supersonic
combat missions halfway around the world. Still, the little community
and its mysterious underground base went almost completely
unnoticed by the rest of the world . . .
. . . until the American Holocaust, when the United States
was attacked by waves of Russian bombers launching hypersonic
nuclear-tipped missiles. Almost the entire fleet of American long
range bombers and more than half of America's intercontinental-
ballistic-missile arsenal was wiped out in a matter of hours. But
Battle Mountain's little fleet of high-tech bombers, led by Patrick
McLanahan, survived and formed the spearhead of the American
counterattack that destroyed most of Russia's ground-launched
intercontinental nuclear missiles and restored a tenuous sort of parity
in nuclear forces between the two nations.
Battle Mountain emerged from the horrific tragedy of the
American Holocaust to become the center of American air-breathing
strategic combat operations. All of America's surviving heavy
bombers, intelligence-gathering planes, and airborne command
posts were relocated to Battle Mountain, and a fleet of long-range
unmanned combat aircraft began to grow there. The base even became
a staging area for America's fleet of manned and unmanned
space planesaircraft that could take off and land like conventional
aircraft but boost themselves into low Earth orbit.
Even during the deep global economic recession that began in
2008, Battle Mountain grew, although the community around it
barely noticed. Because of its isolation and dirt-low cost of living,
many bases around the world were closed and relocated to Battle
Mountain. Soon Battle Mountain Air Reserve Base became JAB
(Joint Air Base) Battle Mountain, hosting air units from all the
military services, the Air Reserve Forces, the Central Intelligence
Agency, and even the Space Defense Force.
Excerpted from A Time For Patriots by Dale Brown Copyright © 2011 by Dale Brown. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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