A huge crowd ringed the Swan Island Basin in Portland, Oregon, many with signs, most wearing all black with masks covering their faces below the eyes. Behind them were several hundred Portland PD officers, in riot gear, attempting to stay between them and a growing number of counter-protesters.
Nathan watched the water nervously as the big EU Navy ship cruised slowly towards the dock. He turned every few seconds to watch the counter-protesters, holding signs that said NO UN along with American flags. He was only twenty-five, medium build, tattoos covering his upper arms and neck, large round earrings stretching his lobes.
“Hey, Sean,” he said quietly. “This makes me nervous. There’s only one way out of here, and that’s more counter protesters than I’ve ever seen before. Why is the Portland PD letting them get so close?”
Sean’s eyes turned his direction, his cheeks rising under his black bandana, eyes smaller as he laughed. “Rednecks and retired people. I’m gonna break some heads as soon as the UN Peacekeepers show themselves.” He was smaller than Nathan, holding a long stick with finishing nails sticking out a few inches on either end, his medium-length blonde hair shining in the sun.
“I’m hearing bad rumors,” Nathan said, looking back at the ship as it slowly moved towards the dock, a crew there now to grab the ropes. A UN flag rose on the flagpole over the bridge, and a cheer went up from a few thousand black-clad people.
“Watch those Nazis crap themselves when the UN Peacekeepers come down the planks,” Sean said.
“The reactionaries outnumber the police now,” Nathan said. “At least two to one, and they’re still showing up.”
“And we’ve got sixty thousand UN Peacekeepers getting off that boat,” Sean said. “You worry too much. As soon as we get rough with those right-wingers, they’ll turn tail and run… and even if they don’t we’ll be protected by the police as usual.”
“The public is starting to see through this, you know.”
“So go home, little boy,” Sean said.
“Hey, we’d better get out of here!” cried a woman in black with a mask, her stringy brown hair hanging around her shoulders. “Look at this.”
“Shut up, Emily,” Sean shouted.
“What do you see?” Nathan asked, rushing over. She held her phone in front of him. It was news-chopper video of the area. There was a vast multitude of people heading in on all streets, crossing North Willamette Boulevard. “My God. How many people is that?”
“Let me see it,” Sean said, rushing over and looking. He laughed. “You guys are assuming that they’re not on our side.” Emily and Nathan looked at him like he was crazy.
“We know the community,” Emily said. “If there was this many people coming, we’d have known about it days ago.”
“Well run along home, then,” Sean said, turning back to the ship. It was tied to the dock now, and the gang plank was being rolled up.
“Oh, God,” Emily said, looking at her phone again. “Is that another warship. See it? Just getting to Kelley Point Park.”
“There’s more than one ship in the EU Navy, you idiot,” Sean said, looking over at the counter demonstrators again. Several black-clad thugs were rushing past the police line, attacking counter protestors as the police stood by and watched. Suddenly the number of counter demonstrators increased and the police loudspeaker warned all the protestors to go back to their sides. Sean ran towards them as Nathan and Emily watched.
“Moron,” Emily said. “Want to go? No paycheck is worth this.”
“Dressed like this, we’ll never make it past Willamette,” he said. “C’mon, let’s jump the box factory fence and get on one of the semi-trailers in the yard. We can watch from there, then slip out in the confusion.”
“Okay,” she said. They pushed their way towards the fence as most of the black-clad thugs headed to the counter-demonstrator lines. The police began to fire tear gas at the growing crowd of citizens, ignoring the thugs who raced in and attacked them.
Nathan climbed the fence, turning when he was on the far side to help Emily up. They both hit the pavement of the box factory lot and raced towards the row of semi-trailers parked at the loading docks.
“There’s one we can get on,” Nathan said, racing towards it, Emily struggling to keep up. He leapt onto a dumpster next to one of them, and jumped, getting a good hand hold and pulling himself up on top. “C’mon, I’ll grab you.”
Emily looked at him, scared to death, frozen in place.
“Now, dammit!” Nathan shouted.
She snapped out of it and ran, jumping onto the dumpster, taking Nathan’s hand. He pulled her up, and they both stood.
“Holy crap,” Emily said, watching the hand-to-hand fighting between the black-clad people, citizens wearing casual clothes, and police, who were firing bean bags at the counter protestors now.
“Look, UN Peacekeepers!” Nathan said, pointing. “They’re coming down the gang plank in a hurry! That’ll show the reactionaries.”
Emily turned to Nathan, horrified. “They’re lining the deck with their guns out.”
“Show of force,” Nathan said. “Good. That battle is getting out of hand.”
“Our people are getting the crap beat out of them,” Emily said, watching as more and more citizens rushed in, trampling the protesters, kicking them and punching them as they tried to fight back with their clubs, sticks, pepper spray, and bags of urine.
“Look, the police are running away,” Nathan said. “Dammit. What are they doing? There’s still too many counter-protesters here!”
“Damn Mayor’s office,” Emily said. “This is complete lack of coordination.”
Suddenly gunfire erupted from the deck of the ship, UN Peacekeepers firing into the fighting crowd, hitting both sides of the battle.
“No!” Emily shouted, watching people hitting the ground. Then there were screams and yells as the area flooded with thousands of armed citizens, taking aim with their rifles and firing at the ship, killing several of the Peacekeepers as the rest dropped behind cover in shocked horror. Automatic fire started up from several groups of citizens, bullets hitting the gang plank, knocking down the Peacekeepers who were trapped there.
“Those are military weapons!” shouted Nathan. “I see M60s and M-16s! Where’d they get those?”
“You know how those white nationalists are,” Emily said, tears running down her cheeks.
“They can’t own those,” Nathan said. “Somebody gave those guns to them for this event.”
“Those sailors are uncovering the weapons on the boat,” Emily said, her eyes wide as they opened fire on the crowd, strafing with machine gun fire. One of the citizens with an M60 fired back, hitting the men behind one gun, another gunner hitting the man. Several more citizens with M60s rushed up, firing from behind cover now. The UN Peacekeepers were back, firing, hitting citizens, but also taking fire from every direction around the dock, many of them hit.
“This is horrible,” Nathan said.
“Here comes that other boat,” Emily said. “Crap, that’s a US Navy ship!”
Just as the words left her lips, several missiles were fired, all of them hitting the EU ship, blowing the top half of the ship into pieces, silencing the machine gun fire. A cheer rang out from the multitude, sounding like a huge roar.
“We’d better get out of here,” Emily said.
“Take off that outfit,” Nathan said, taking off his black shirt.
“I can’t, I don’t have anything on underneath,” she said.
“Look, there’s more of them,” shouted an old man holding an M-16, leading a group of citizens into the box factory lot. Those were the last words Emily and Nathan heard.
Daan looked out his apartment window, down at a quiet night in Brussels. He had more work to do. The UN refused to continue pumping men and materiel to the states without additional funding, and the EU leadership refused to do anything. His cellphone rang. It was the UN Secretary General. He let it go to voicemail, then walked to his bar and poured himself some whiskey. Leverage. He needed leverage. His phone rang again. Dammit. He looked. Saladin. His heart started to pound.
“Hello,” he said as he sat on his couch.
“Still in Brussels?” Saladin asked.
“Yeah, but I’ll be coming back soon.”
“Have you seen the news, or talked to any of the team?” Saladin asked.
“Oh, crap, what happened now?”
“We had a really bad day on several fronts,” Saladin said.
“Can’t be much worse than what’s happened here,” Daan said. He drank down his whiskey and got up to get another, leaning against his bar. “Let’s have it.”
“We sent a team to take out the CHP headquarters in Sacramento. They were defeated.”
“Dammit. By whom?”
“Ivan’s people in their blasted motor homes and off-roaders, and about sixty CHP officers. Somebody armed them with military weapons. They knew we were coming. Like I suspected, they broke your RFID chips.”
“That remains to be seen. They had to expect we’d try to hit the CHP before they could get rolling. All the leadership was there, and it’s a state-wide organization.”
Saladin chuckled. “So why did you okay that operation, then?”
“Hey, it was your idea, remember?”
Saladin was silent for a moment, his breath quickening on the mouthpiece.
“Sorry,” Daan said. “Don’t get pissed. We both thought it was a good idea.”
“Fine,” Saladin said, icy tone to his voice. “There’s more.”
“All right,” Daan said.
“This one should be all over the news, even there, so I’ll tell you the gist, and you can see the details yourself.”
“Go ahead,” he said.
“The EU ship bringing UN Peacekeepers to Portland was destroyed by a US Navy Aegis Cruiser. All our assets were killed, including the Peacekeepers, the sailors on the vessel, and many of our domestic operatives. Oh, and most of our people in the city leadership were rounded up and shot as well.”
Daan felt faint, gripping the bar. He moved to one of the bar stools and sat, leaning his head in his hands.
“You still there?” Saladin asked.
“Yeah,” he said, pouring another drink. “That means we can write off that state.”
“I agree,” Saladin said. “There was also action in Bend and several other of the inland cities. We lost in each location.”
“Ivan’s social media operation started it,” he said.
“Ben Dover,” Daan said. “We need to kill him. Make it a priority.”
“He’s in the middle of territory we no longer control. We’ve lost the top third of the state.”
“Dammit, we also lost LA and Orange Counties. What do we still control?”
“We don’t control any of California,” he said.
“You mean we should leave the state? Is there anywhere that the locals don’t control?”
“They don’t have control of the area from Merced south to about I-15. We still operate there, but it would be an exaggeration to say we controlled it.”
“Crap, there’s nothing there,” Daan said.
“Yes, there is. Much of their best agriculture is there, also their oil fields.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he said.
“The agriculture is more important than you think,” Saladin said. “Remember that the lines of trade aren’t in place now.”
“Except for that little body of water called the Pacific Ocean,” Daan said.
“The EU Navy is still strong off the coast.”
“And yet we allowed a US Navy ship to cruise right in and destroy one of their boats,” Daan said. “The parts of Southern California other than LA and Orange Counties are still in contention, are they not?”
“We are still active and powerful enough in those areas to keep working, but we must get that southern route opened back up. I-8 and the others. Everything depends on it.”
“On that we agree,” Daan said. “Is your caravan still proceeding south?”
“Yes, but I have them well spaced out, so they attract as little attention as possible. We’re still hitting at Ivan’s people down there. They think they have a safe place, but we attacked them there a few days ago. If we can force them to get on the move again, we’ll start to pick them off.”
“Those forces that caused us so much problems up north are still around,” Daan said. “What if they come south too?”
“Then we should try to slip people north to take it back over,” Daan said. “I could bring a lot of people in through Nevada.”
“Won’t that hurt your campaign against General Hogan?”
“Temporarily,” Saladin said, “but I no longer consider that as important as I did before.”
“Like I was saying, they cracked your RFID chips. That makes Frank Johnson a less important target than before.”
“I still want him,” Daan said. “I’ll roast him alive, but I’m not ready to accept that he’s broken the RFID encryption. If he’s done that, we’d lose all our assets in Washington DC. You know that, right? If those people are safe, we can assume that the RFID encryption is still protecting us.”
“Is it possible that they only broke part of the system?” Saladin asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Is it possible they can track location but not have access to the data payload?” Saladin asked.
“Oh. Possible but unlikely. The encryption of the device is just as rigorous as the encryption of the data payload.”
“You don’t sound convinced by your own statement,” Saladin said.
“It’s been a long day, and it’s not over yet. Now I know why the UN Secretary General just tried to call me.”
“He tried to call you? Just now? I didn’t hear any beeps.”
“No, before you called,” Daan said. “I didn’t want to talk to him. Now I don’t have a choice.”
“What happened back there?”
“The UN leadership dug in their heels on increased funding to stay in the fight, and the EU leadership refused to cough up more money.”
Saladin laughed. “So, go work it harder. You know how that goes.”
“After what just happened, my job is even harder than before.”
“Mine too, my friend, but we have to roll with the punches,” Saladin said.
“All right,” Daan said. “Anything else?”
“Fortunately, no,” Saladin said. “Talk to you soon.” He ended the call. Daan grabbed the bottle of whiskey and his glass, and headed for the couch. He hit the Secretary General’s contact.
Seth and Kaitlyn sat at a table against the wall in the Dodge City Saloon. Most of their friends were up at the bar, having a drink and chatting.
“Go ahead,” Kaitlyn said.
“You brought the laptop for a reason. Plug it in and get it warmed up. Then you can monitor your new program while we’re here.”
“Okay,” he said. “You can go hang with Megan and the others while I check, and I’ll be along.”
“I’m with the person I want to be with right now,” she said, putting her hand on his arm. “Trust me. I’m interested in what your program is showing too, so fire it up. I’ll go get you a beer if you want.”
“Sure, that’d be great, as long as I just have one.”
“Nobody’s drinking a lot,” Kaitlyn said as she slid out of her seat. “Be right back.”
Seth put his laptop on the table and set it up, plugging it into a wall outlet next to him. After it was running, he took out his phone and activated the personal hot spot. The laptop connected, and Seth navigated to his server, hitting the report download button. Excel started, and his report populated after a couple minutes. Kaitlyn came back, holding two beers. He took his and had a sip.
“Not bad,” he said.
“Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised,” Kaitlyn said, sitting back down. “Is it still working?”
“Yep,” he said. “I downloaded a report into Excel. You could probably help with this part.”
“Let’s see,” she said, watching as he turned the laptop to face her. She studied it for a few minutes. “I see what you’re doing here. I couldn’t have done much better, honestly. Maybe I could automate it.”
“You see any quadrants where we’ve had RFID chips disappear?”
She studied it again for a moment, eyes furrowed, until she found the right column and understood what it was saying. “Yes, I do see something funny.”
“Crap, really?” Seth asked, getting up and looking over her shoulder.
“Is that what this means?” she asked, moving the cursor over a column.
“I set it up so at least four had to disappear without them being someplace else.”
“What if they just left?”
“It’s looking at a hundred square miles,” Seth said. “Unless they were right on the border of that, they couldn’t move out of range fast enough. He took a closer look. “This one is okay. The text would show up red if the rules applied. These folks were close to the border.”
“Can you move it to make sure?”
“Yeah, but I’ll have to run the report again.”
“Do it,” she said. “I’m interested.”
He nodded. “I’ll show you how, in case we need it run and I’m not around.” He walked her through the procedure, and they ran the report, moved over to pick up the area nearest to where the missing hits were.
“That’s them, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Looks like it.”
“We don’t have a problem, then?”
“Not yet,” Seth said.
“Why don’t you look at a larger area?”
“It’s harder to analyze,” Seth said.
“You see, that’s where I can help,” she said. “Let me mess with the reporting for a while. Can you set this to run for, say, a thousand square miles?”
“Sure, but it’ll take a while to run.”
“Dammit, I was due at the cinema in ten minutes,” she said.
Seth laughed, and she shot him a smirk. “Let me help you, okay?”
“Okay,” Seth said. “You know how to set the scope – go ahead and adjust the settings and run it again.”
“We won’t have history for all of it, though, will we?”
“Nope, but we’ll run it that way and start gathering the history,” Seth said. “Mind if I watch you? I could use better knowledge of Excel.”
“Be my guest,” she said. He pulled up a chair next to her and watched as she worked.
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas Book 1 is now just 99 cents in the Kindle Store! Free in Kindle Unlimited! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
To be continued…
Copyright Robert Boren 2017