include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for And... There Was No Justice - The Saga ends by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.


And... There Was No Justice

Last in the Midnight Blue Trilogy

by Jay Brenner


Published by AZkatz Publishing

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Copyright Jay Brenner


Smashwords Edition 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, most places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, is entirely coincidental.


Smashwords 2019 Edition License Notes

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Library of Congress Control Number: 2017934429

ISBN 978-0-9829258-6-7


Book Interior and Cover Design by Brenda Cockrum




And... There Was No Justice

Last in the Midnight Blue Trilogy


Jay Brenner

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s own money.” Alexis de Tocqueville


“After a certain point, money is meaningless. It ceases to be the goal. The game is what counts.” Aristotle Onassis


Continental Divides


Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Awakening

Chapter 2 – Come Together

Chapter 3 – On the Mend

Chapter 4 – Hard Decisions

Chapter 5 – The Damage

Chapter 6 – Coast to Coast

Chapter 7 – The Best and Brightest

Chapter 8 – Middle America

Chapter 9 – Office of the President

Chapter 10 – Under Kansas Skies

Chapter 11 – A United Front

Chapter 12 – The Hard Part

Chapter 13 – West Coast Connection

Chapter 14 – Away from the Powers That Be

Chapter 15 – Waiting for Victory

Chapter 16 – The Gathering

Chapter 17 – Grass Roots

Chapter 18 – Risk the Fix

Chapter 19 – All May Not Be Well

Chapter 20 – So Close

Chapter 21 – What’s On It?

Chapter 22 – No Longer Part of the Country

Chapter 23 – Back in Coal Country

Chapter 24 – Accidental Discovery

Chapter 25 – Break Away

Chapter 26 – Making It Out

Chapter 27 – Making Sense Of It All

Chapter 28 – Together Again

Chapter 29 - Watching the Armada

Chapter 30 – A New Game To Be Played

Chapter -31 – The Parrot

Chapter 32 – No Paul Revere to the Rescue

Chapter 33 – Finally Ready

Chapter 34 – Surprises All the Way Around

Chapter 35 - Tell ‘em to Get ‘em Off

Chapter 36 – Survival in the Land of the Free

Chapter 37 – Red Day Coming

Chapter 38 – One Fell Swoop

Chapter 39 – It Began

Chapter 40 What’s the Skinny?

Chapter 41 – More than Territory


Chapter 42 – Another Patient Enemy

Chapter 43 – Now You Know Too Late

Chapter 44 – Country Roads Take Me Home

Chapter 45 – The Nation Mourns a President

Chapter 46 –Being Watched

Chapter 47 – Weapons from Hell

Chapter 48 – Pulling a Nation Apart

Chapter 49 - Money Buys Everything.. Almost

Chapter 50 – OK Corral-Old Doc Style

Chapter 51 – Citizens Arise

Chapter 52 – No Match

Chapter 53 – New Beginning

Chapter 54 – The Aftermath

Chapter 55 – One More Time

Chapter 56 – All in Due Time


Epilogue

Cast of Fictional Characters

References

Food for Thought

Acknowledgements

About Jay





Other Books Published by this Author


Fiction

Midnight Blue

Clues and Such

Shelly’s Flight


Non-Fiction

Arizona Treasures – Ghost Town Hiker’s Guide

A.W.O.L.


Awakening


Only a few weeks had passed since Amanda Kline received a beating ruthless enough to place her into Bethesda Naval Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Sam Haley, her fiancé, and Ellie Winter, her best friend, sat patiently by her side waiting and hoping she would wake up from her drug induced coma.

Her broken arm, legs and ribs were starting to mend. However, the built up pressure in her brain from her head injury had been severe enough to require the removal of a section of her skull to release the compression. After several days, the swelling subsided, and her brain activity and vitals stabilized. Only then did the doctors determine it was safe to start eliminating the drugs keeping her in a coma.

The doctors warned Sam and Ellie, “no two patients were the same,” and “only time would tell” when she would regain consciousness. Some awaken after only twenty-four hours, others take days or weeks, and for a few, never.

Now, for Amanda, it was only a matter of when she would wake up. When she did, the major question would be whether the brain had sustained any long lasting damage. Her neurosurgeon didn’t think she would have any permanent damage; nonetheless, the outcome would be unknown until she regained awareness.

Peter Winter, Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, had just returned from California. He stood at the window in Amanda’s ICU room wondering when the next attack on the nation would happen. The current evidence being gathered concluded it would be soon.

He wished he knew this wasn’t true. Watching the busy street below the window, the sunny day appeared to be a normal one. Vehicles crowded the street, as pedestrians hurried along on their journey for the day. Wanting to freeze time, he desired nothing more than to stop the pending attack. The country I grew up in is fast slipping away.

Knowing the situation was out of his control, he was more than overwhelmed with the recent events. For the moment, there was nothing more he could do except wait for intelligence gathering to nail down when and where the next attack would be.

As Peter turned from the window to say something to his wife, Ellie, the sky exploded with light.

Sam released Amanda’s hand and made his way to the window. “No, no, no”, issued from Sam’s lips. The light was brighter than the sunniest cloud free day. Quickly he returned to Amanda and tightly held her hand, determined no matter what, he would never let her go, even though he thought their time together on earth was about to end.

All of a sudden, the machines monitoring Amanda went silent. Quiet prevailed for the first time since she’d initially entered the ICU room. The silence made the moment feel strange.

Peter wasn’t prone to emotional displays, however, his eyes moistened and he was visibly shaken. Hurriedly, he went over to the chair where Ellie was sitting and stood behind her folding his arms around her shoulders.

Silently, he started counting. No percussion wave came. Only distant explosions were heard. There were no more flashes, no rattling of windows or shaking of the building. Although relieved, he knew this was a narrow escape, and for the time being, the country had attained a reprieve.

Within seconds of the flash, the machines monitoring Amanda’s vitals came back to life. Something had caused the equipment to hiccup.

Releasing Ellie, Peter returned to the window and watched as the eastern sky slowly settled back to its normal blue. He let out a sigh of relief knowing the Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse, or NEMP attack on Washington had not been successful. In his mind, and for the moment, he credited the United States Navy with stopping yet another attack.

Peter spoke to Ellie and Sam, “It looks like we got this one. I think we’re safe for now.”

Knowing there’d be a briefing, he nestled Ellie’s auburn hair in his hands, savoring the jasmine smell, then kissed her on top of her head, “I’m sorry I have to leave, but you know I have to go to Langley. Stay here with Amanda and Sam and I’ll let you know more about what just happened as soon as I can. I love you.”

Peter turned, and before he could leave, Ellie caught his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. He turned back and looked into her emerald green eyes as she said to him, “Likewise.” Letting him go was difficult for her. She let her eyes follow his lean trim frame out of the room. It was hard for her to think about what he might have to do, knowing firsthand in all probability he would have to leave her again.

Ellie looked across Amanda’s bed with asking eyes, “I wonder if what we saw was the only one on this coast? If not, do you think they were able to stop all of them Sam?”

“I don’t know Ellie. Peter can only tell us so much; we knew they were going to try again.”

Sam picked up the remote and turned on the TV. “We won’t have long to wait, I’m sure the news wires will be buzzing. However, to get the real story we’ll have to wait and see what Peter finds out, and how much he will be able to tell us.”

As Sam ploughed through the Washington D.C. TV channels, he noticed every one of them was running the Emergency Broadcasting System tickers advising people to stay inside and stay tuned for further news.

He finally found one of the major cable news channels reporting on the incident. The commentator was in mid-sentence, “... As yet, it’s not clear who is responsible for the attack. Unconfirmed sources claim it wasn’t an attack, only war games off the coast. We’ve contacted the White House and the Pentagon. For the moment, neither has given us any useful information we can report. However, we have been promised an official report within the hour. For now, stay inside, and stay tuned to CZN. This is Leslie Adams reporting.”

Doing a poor job of hiding his concern from Ellie, Sam said, “Let’s hope Peter can tell us what’s going on soon. Something tells me this is far from being over, and I’m definitely not buying into it was only war games off the coast.”

Ellie closed her eyes, lowered her head, and managed to quietly say, “Why, Sam, why. What did we do to make them hate us so much?”

“It’s not that they hate us so much. It’s they want control of what we have, and the authority over us to go with the power. Unfortunately, even if they were successful in destroying us, it wouldn’t change anything for them. We’d only be a land conquered, and they’d move on to the next. Warring man has done this for centuries.”

A clearly distressed Ellie replied, “That’s plainly a sad statement for their lack of humanity.”

Before Sam could answer, he felt movement in Amanda’s hand. He leaned in close to her ear and quietly said her name. “Amanda.” He felt another movement, this time a slight squeeze from her hand.

Somewhere in the foggy distance, Amanda thought she heard Sam calling her name. Trying hard to answer, all she could manage to do was think Sam, I’m here, come and get me. In addition to her thoughts, she managed to squeeze out a tear.

Ellie noticed the tear roll down Amanda’s cheek. “Sam, look, I think she heard you!”

Sam felt another squeeze, this one firmer than the last. Once again, he leaned down, and whispered in her ear, “Amanda, you’re safe, I’m with you now.”

This time the haze clouding Amanda’s thoughts slowly cleared. Instead of drifting back into the dark, she was able to open her eyes, and in lieu of only thinking Sam’s name, she was able to say it.

Come Together


Before Peter left the hospital parking lot, he decided to place a call to Chief Charles Coangelo, Division Chief of the NSA’s satellite and communications operations.

After buckling his seat belt, Peter reached over and touched the screen in the middle of the car dash. He selected the Bluetooth link to his phone, and when his contact list appeared, he touched Coangelo’s name. The connection rang and instead of Chief Coangelo answering, the call went straight to his voice mail.

At the tone, he left his message, “This is Pete, call me as soon as you can, I’m on my way over to Langley.” After leaving the message, Peter touched the screen again, and this time he selected Sierra Love.

He’d just returned from California delivering the news of the death of one of her covert operatives. Knowing Sierra would take the news of Delta Lyon’s death badly, the least he could do was deliver the news in person. Moreover, he couldn’t shake the feeling he’d been responsible for her death.

Sierra’s organization was one of a handful of trusted outside sources used when the NSA, CIA, FBI, or other Homeland Security forces needed deniability on select operations. After the death of her twin sisters, it had taken a herculean effort on Peter’s part to convince Sierra to reinitialize her covert operations business.

Over time they had become more than business associates. A strong family like friendship bond between Peter and Sierra had been forged through adversity. They’d been supportive when personal losses took a toll on both their lives. She’d kept him from falling to pieces when he’d lost his first wife and only child. He’d held her together when she’d lost her twin sisters in a covert operation gone wrong. This double whammy had caused great pain to Sierra, as her twin sisters were the last of her family.

Instead of connecting with Sierra or her voice mail, he received a canned pre-recorded message stating, “Service to this area is not available at this time. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Please try your call again at another time.”

Next, he tried his West Coast CIA contacts with no luck at any of the western locations. He then tried Sierra’s operatives, starting with Celia, and didn’t stop trying until he attempted to reach all of them. None of the Valley Operations women answered. Instead, each time he was met with the same pre-recorded communication. The same kind of message one would get when trunk lines were down. It wasn’t unusual for telephone systems to go down when the lines were jammed with too many holiday or major incident calls. He hoped the latter wasn’t the case, however, deep down he felt there was another reason. He didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but his assumption was this time the Chinese may have been partially successful in their attempt to cripple the country.

Having close alliances with the Iranians and North Koreans, China had managed to form a strong coalition with the sole purpose of bringing the United States to her knees. Until Peter could connect with Coangelo, he didn’t know how extensive the damage was. For the moment, the country appeared to be in limbo.

After not being able to reach any contacts on the West Coast, Peter decided against returning to CIA’s headquarters in Langley. Instead, he turned around and headed to the National Security Agency. He needed to find out what information Coangelo’s people had managed to gather and where they stood in the process of putting together communication counter measures.

The sooner they could find out the extent of the damage done, the quicker they could get control of the situation and come up with a viable plan to counter any further destruction. Like an Amber alert, the first few hours were crucial.

Parking in the NSA visitors’ area, Peter made one more call. This time the call went to Valerie Wilson, his second. She managed to answer right before the call went to her voice mail.

Glancing at the caller ID, Wilson answered the call with, “Hello Deputy Director Winter.”

“Hello Wilson. I need to have you go over to the FBI and get with Marshall. Make sure our Midnight Blue operation team is back at full strength. I know we have been working long shifts trying to find and prevent NEMPs from reaching us, not to mention all the other nasty attacks yet unidentified. We need a damage assessment as soon as possible.”

“I’m ahead of you Peter. We’re already on our way over to the NSA.”

“Thanks Wilson. I’m afraid we’re going to have some even longer days ahead of us. Please make sure the staff understands this.”

“Believe they’ve already figured that out, sir.”

Peter asked, “I don’t suppose you’ve been able to contact any of our agents on the West Coast. It’s urgent we get back on line out there.”

“No, and it’s not for the lack of trying. It appears the entire communications network is down in the Western region. Do you know what’s going on with the rest of the country?

With a discouraged voice Peter responded, “No I don’t. I haven’t had any contact with our West Coast agents. Nor have I been able to get in touch with our black-ops out there. I can’t raise Sierra or anyone else on her team either. I get the same pre-recorded service message with all the calls.

“I’ll meet you and Marshall over at the NSA. We can continue our joint efforts there with Coangelo’s personnel.”

There was a short pause before Wilson continued, “Do you know how much of the East Coast has been affected?”

Peter replied, “Not yet, I only know we obviously have some spotty communications problems. Some may be iffy and some may be down. We’ll know for sure when Coangelo runs his diagnostics. Also, I don’t know how much of the power grid has been affected. We’ll need to discern how well our hardened communication systems held up. One good thing is I don’t believe the communication satellites were affected. I’m sure Coangelo can confirm this.

“I’ve just left the hospital. That’s where I was when I witnessed the initial flash. There were only a couple of blinks on the lights before they steadied. I didn’t stay long enough to see if power had returned or whether the hospital’s generators had kicked in. I can’t say for sure, but it seems the power grid in the metro D.C. area has held. We’ll know more shortly. See you soon.”

“Roger that Peter.” Wilson rang off wondering what, if anything, the rest of the country had suffered.

On the Mend


Ellie reached up and pressed the call button to alert the nurse’s station. Almost immediately, a nurse was by Amanda’s bedside. When the nurse entered the room, Amanda’s eyes were open and she was quietly weeping.

Quickly checking Amanda’s vitals, the nurse asked, “Are you in a great deal of pain?”

Amanda softly answered, “Only a little.”

Puzzled, the nurse asked, “Why the flood of tears?”

“I’m so very happy to be alive!”

Looking at Sam the nurse told him, “I’ll get in touch with the doctor. It’s not for me to say, but I think you’ve figured it out already. This is a great step forward in her recovery. I’m sure Amanda is on the upswing, and with a little in-house physical therapy she’ll soon be out of here!”

The nurse left the room, and Sam settled back down by Amanda’s side, happy she had returned to them and was finally on the road to recovery.

Soaking in the sight of him, a distressed Amanda managed to say, “Sam, I didn’t tell them anything.”

“Tell who? What do you mean Amanda?”

With shallow breaths she replied, “I didn’t tell the woman and men who took turns beating me. They wanted to know how to defeat the satellites.”

“Oh Amanda, you didn’t need to be so brave. We only had one piece of the puzzle at World Tech. Nothing matters to me except you being all right. I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to protect you.”

Amanda was able to rationalize, “Sam, it was an impossible situation, there were too many of them. If you’d been with me, no one would have known for hours, maybe even days that I had been taken. Besides, if you’d been with me they would have beaten and maybe killed you too. It makes no difference now. I’m safe. We’re safe.

“It may be we were only one piece of the puzzle, nonetheless, our one piece could have been the missing one they needed. You never know.”

Wanting to bring Amanda into the present, Ellie smiled and said, “Welcome back to us.”

“I’m glad to be back. Was Peter here earlier or did I dream that? I’m not sure.”

Lightly touching Amanda’s arm Ellie replied, “Yes, he was. He left not long ago.”

Sounding concerned, Amanda asked, “Did I hear him say something about an NEMP?”

Although Sam didn’t have any real information he replied, “Yes, however, I think we were able to stop them here on the East Coast. What we did at World Tech did make a difference. Now it’s up to Peter, Coangelo, Marshall, and the rest of Homeland Security to stop them. I only hope Congress lets them do what has to be done. Another two or three years of bickering won’t get us anywhere. It’ll only leave us more vulnerable.”

A bitterness weighed heavily on Amanda and she commented, “I know forgiveness is necessary, however, I hope they show the Wangs no mercy, or at the very least do unto them as they have done unto me.”

Sam asked, “The Wangs?”

With broken breaths, Amanda said, “Yes, I know it was Lei who gave the order to abduct me, I heard my captors talking about her. The worst part is I saw them murder a man who’d refused to kill me. Instead, they put a bullet in his head instead of mine. After I witnessed that, everything went blank.”

Sam thought Amanda was getting too agitated for her fragile condition, “Shush… you don’t have to think about it now, you’re safe.”

Amanda squeezed Sam’s hand, “I have to tell you what they did to me.”

Sam placed his other hand on top of hers, “Rest, you can tell me later.”

Obviously upset, she continued, “No, please bear with me. I want to tell you about it, and then I can put it in the past. She pressed his hand lightly, and then continued.

“They usually beat me upstairs, and then when they tired of me not giving them whatever information they were looking for, or I’d pass out, they’d drag me to the basement. What was down there was horrible, my worst nightmare.”

Amanda shuttered, closed her eyes, and took a long pause before continuing. “I don’t know how long I would be down there before I’d wake up in pain. Often I’d awake to find a rat nibbling on me. The last time this happened, I know I screamed. I wished I hadn’t because then they would know I was awake again. When no one came down, I realized I no longer heard any noise from upstairs. I tried to get up, but nothing worked.

“My whole body hurt so unbearably I was wishing for a quick death. I didn’t think I could take another beating. All I could do was keep thinking of you Sam. I thought if I kept thinking about you, somehow you would sense where I was and find me.

“After what I believed were my last thoughts, I don’t think I was awake long before I blacked out again. Time became a blur after the first day, so I don’t know how long I was down in that basement before Valerie Wilson found me. I vaguely recall her picking up my arm. I think she was checking for a pulse. I thought I remembered her saying I was alive, but I wasn’t sure it was real. I could hear her talking to her counterpart Agent Marshall.

“By this time I wasn’t feeling any pain, so I thought surely I’d died and was having an out of body experience. I imagined I could feel something being laid on top of me, a blanket, or maybe a coat.

“I’m fairly sure it was agent Wilson who was by my side when it all went dark again. That’s all I remember until now.”

Sam was overwhelmed with what had happened to her. As gently as he could, he raised Amanda’s hand to his lips. “Please don’t think about anything now except getting well, and know how much I love you.”

Before Amanda could say anything else, exhaustion overcame her as she slipped into the blackness again, except this time she fell into a peaceful slumber.


****


The West was having their own issues, and unfortunately, their problems were far worse than what the East was experiencing.

Hard Decisions


Unfortunately, there had been no time to evacuate the multitudes in cities. With only hours before detonation, and telling the public about what was going to happen would lead to panic and a mass exodus of major metropolises.

President Edward Cameron had to make a decision as to whether to tell the public about what might occur, or let the situation ride out. His long–time friend, and most trusted advisor, Carley Gemz, convinced him the upper echelon military advisors were not telling him the truth, or at the very least they were exaggerating the situation.

Casually sitting down across from the President, Gemz shrugged his shoulders, “Look Ed, the military needs a war to justify their existence. Don’t let them start one.”

Still grieving the loss of his wife, Cameron had more or less been letting his friend Gemz make the difficult decisions. For the moment, what he advised seemed to make sense.

So far, Gemz had been successful keeping the President at bay. He owned nine-tenths of the news stations in the nation, so he didn’t need to persuade the powers-that-be in the government what would be in the news reports. He controlled the airwaves, so owning most of them made it easy for him to have editorials faked and published.

President Cameron reasoned Gemz had the country’s best interests at heart, however, he couldn’t see leaving the governors out of the loop. “Come on Carley, don’t you think at the minimum I need to get the governors involved in this decision?”

“Absolutely not, Ed. Think about it. Not one of them has the resources you have. They’re not able to look at the overall picture like you can. Besides, most are not capable of making rational decisions concerning the union to begin with. They only think in terms of their own state.” Gemz replied.

This meant playing Russian roulette with far too many lives and the president wasn’t comfortable thinking about it.

Gemz walked over to the president and put a firm hand on his shoulder. “Come on Ed, you know I’m right.”

Not wanting an argument, the president replied, “I suppose you are.” He decided should there be the unlikelihood a major attack actually happened, no matter how it played out, there would be no way to avoid a substantial number of civilian lives that would be lost.

As much as it pained him, he asked his secretary Bertha Hill, to send in Mary Hoffenberg, his press secretary.

The president pointed to a chair and Mary took a seat.

Gemz had laid out what the president should tell his press secretary and Cameron willingly complied. “Mary, I need to have you leak a story. We need to make some kind of statement, and I have an unsubstantiated report that the Republicans started a nasty rumor about an imminent attack. To my knowledge, all that’s going on is war games. Under no circumstances will the White House confirm this rumor. I intend to take a wait and see stance. If it turns out this wasn’t the case, I’ll deal with the downfall later.”

Mary’s jaw dropped, but no words came out.

The president continued with a casual dismissal, “That’s all.”

Mary wasn’t sure what to think of what just came out of the president’s mouth. Regardless, she would do as he ordered.

Gemz smiled at the president, and gave him a gentle pat on the back, “Look, the harsh reality of the facts will be the best we can hope for is containment of the situation in the aftermath.”

Sighing heavily the president replied, “These are the types of dilemmas no president should ever have to face.”


****


Once again, undercover agents Geoffrey Toole and Rosa Cruz were assigned to help protect Sierra Love and her operatives. In other words, help protect assets.

Providing services such as this usually meant sitting or standing around waiting for something that may never happen. To prevent death by boredom, Geoffrey posed as Sierra’s butler, and Rosa as her cook, which were additional roles both agents had chosen to perform and gladly implemented.

Anytime the need arose for further household services, the pair would take on the role of overseeing any additional approved personnel.

After Delta’s death, Sierra could not have been more conflicted about her feelings toward her group’s covert activities. Rationally she knew the risks, yet she reminisced about Delta and the news Peter had delivered about her untimely passing. She swore she’d have no regrets, but the loss stung.

When Peter delivered the news he first allowed her to vent, letting her jump to the conclusion Delta’s cover had been compromised and she’d been murdered. Once she’d calmed, and he thought she was ready to listen, Peter told her about the accident and the drunk driver.

She felt as though he had delivered a blow hard enough to put a crack in their solid friendship. Any kind of death of her operatives made her regret standing up her organization again. She took it personally.

Hurt deeply by the death of Delta, Sierra had asked Peter to do everything he could to make sure when her operatives Celia Branson and Jessica Adams returned to California they would bring Delta’s body back with them.

After allowing her to absorb the news about Delta and after she’d calmed, he imparted the most current information about the pending NEMP attack.

Jessica was working with Peter’s CIA personnel sorting through mountains of information obtained via snail mail and email intervention. Some of the material, which had been intercepted, laid out a trail leading to the Chinese embassy and a few sketchy details about a pending attack.

Delta and Celia’s mission had been to attend a party at the Chinese Embassy and obtain information the FBI knew was being hand carried to the plenipotentiary the evening of the party. Their job was to document the information.

The pair had been successful in obtaining the data, and on the way back to their hotel, a drunk driver ran a red light and broadsided their vehicle. Peter was driving. Celia and Delta were passengers in the rear. Just as Delta had unbuckled her seatbelt, and was in the process of handing Peter’s phone back to him, their car was broadsided. Peter blamed himself for allowing her to unbuckle her seat belt. Returning his phone could have waited.

As promised, Peter booked a charter flight from Washington D.C. back to California for Sierra’s operatives. In addition, he had Delta’s body prepared for the flight home. To relieve Sierra from further anguish, he also arranged for the flight to be met by the funeral director who’d taken care of other members of Sierra’s family. The director would personally pick up Delta’s body and take her to the crematorium.

The next day, Stan, Jessica’s husband, joined Geoffrey, and together they traveled to the airport to pick up Jessica, Celia and Delta.

As soon as Peter left California to return to Washington, Sierra scrambled to get ready for an event most Americans were not aware was coming. Peter had given her as much information as he had on the pending attacks. After he had imparted this information, Sierra no longer regretted reactivating her organization.


****


The flight from Washington was on time. The crematorium director and personnel were ready and waiting to receive Delta’s body.

Once her remains were given over to the crematorium personnel, Geoffrey informed the travelers about a quick stop they would be making. Arriving at the back of Sierra’s Rodeo Drive shop, he parked the car and requested Celia and Jessica remain in the car.

Geoffrey removed a large and medium-sized compartmentalized padded case from the trunk. He then closed the trunk and asked Stan to join him inside the shop. They passed through Sierra’s workroom on the way to the showroom.

The empty cases Geoffrey carried in were light. He sat the larger one on the display cabinet closest to the back wall of the show room. Pointing to the porcelain vases on the wall, Geoffrey asked that Stan carefully set them beside the case. As the urns came down from their resting place, Geoffrey wrapped and packed them carefully into the foam lining in the case.

Stan queried, “If we are in such dire straits, was this stop necessary?”

Geoffrey replied. “Yes, this is Sierra’s family.”

“For crying out loud, they’re ashes.”

Geoffrey whipped around and faced Stan, “If you didn’t know what your future held, would you leave Jessica, even if she were only ashes?”

Humbled, Stan replied, “Okay, you made your point.”

Geoffrey zipped up the case and double-checked the locks on the case before picking it up off the counter. As they started to leave the showroom Stan queried, “Aren’t you taking any of the jewels?”

A curt reply flew in response, “These are of no real personal value to Sierra. She has the originals at home. I’d say you have a lot to learn about what is important in this life.”

Passing back through Sierra’s workroom, Geoffrey stopped and opened the smaller case. In it, he placed several small boxes, which contained many of the custom-made tools that had been used by not only Sierra, but also her mother and grandmother. As he was closing the smaller case, he said to Stan, “Come on, we have what Sierra asked me to come for.”

Stan followed close behind and held the cases for Geffrey as he locked the thick ironclad door. Pressing on the key fob, the car trunk popped open as the men approached the rear of the vehicle. Once the cases were safely settled in the trunk, no time was wasted in returning to Sierra’s mountain home in Calabasas.

Geoffrey only hoped the crematorium could ready Delta’s ashes and deliver them before Sierra’s group had to lock themselves away from the outside world. Wherever Sierra’s family place of honor would end up being, Delta’s ashes would surely join them.


****


Rosa, standing beside Sierra, waited for the printer to spit out the checklists. The only difference this time, the upcoming use of the safe room wasn’t a drill.

At the top of each page was a name. The immediate tasks would be performed by Sierra, Rosa, and her operatives Anna Clark, Bernadette Patterson, and Rita Wheeler.

Sierra removed the last printed sheet and handed it to Rosa. “When Geoffrey returns, everyone will help finish the preparations. As soon as you get everybody started with his or her tasks, please meet me in the safe room and help me make sure the legacy communication systems are still fully functional.”

“Okay, I won’t be long”, replied Rosa.

Before Rosa could return to Sierra, she heard Geoffrey pull up in the driveway and met him at the mansion side door. Addressing him, “Geoffrey, we’ve already started. Most of the materials have been mapped, however, we haven’t started moving anything down yet. Sierra’s in her office finalizing the checklists. All of you need to join her there.”

Geoffrey replied, “Thanks Rosa, we will.”

Jessica, Celia and Stan got out of the car and stood by the trunk. As it opened, they waited until Geoffrey removed the padded cases. Reverently holding Sierra’s family, he said to the group, “Get your travel bags, and follow me.”

Each of the women removed their small carryon bags. Apparently, what Geoffrey had said to Stan earlier had given him food for thought, and he held out his arm for Jessica to hold as they, and Celia, followed Geoffrey into Sierra’s study.

Entering the room, Sierra stopped and looked up from what she was doing. She noticed the cases and said to Geoffrey. “Thank you so much, I know it added time to the trip here, but I don’t think I could handle leaving them there not knowing what the future might hold.”

“Now that we’re here Sierra, what would you have us do?” replied Geoffrey.

Before answering him, Sierra said, “Celia, you do have Delta’s handbag?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Good, all of you follow me.”

In the back of Sierra’s home was an enormous butler’s pantry. In it was a substantial cache of additional food stores that would help provide sustenance to those sheltered in the sub-basement below.

Buried four levels deep in Sierra’s canyon home was a safe room large enough to hold ten people. The room had the potential to sustain life, if necessary, for several months.

Before Sierra opened the hidden door in the back of the pantry she asked, “Rosa, please make sure everyone has their task list.”

Double-checking what had been given to the group members, Rosa replied, “We’re all ready.”

Sierra continued, “Please notice there’s a large number at the top of your list. As you can see, while Geoffrey was picking up our travelers at the airport, the rest of us have started organizing what needs to go down to the bottom sub-basement level. This room will become our operational safe room.

“Stan, I know you haven’t been cleared, so I will assume your clearance by proxy. I trust if we all survive what I’ve been told is about to happen, you must never divulge what you are about to see. We will be going down four levels. As we encounter the levels you will notice each serves a different purpose.”

Sierra didn’t wait for Stan to answer. Going to the back of the pantry, she placed her foot underneath a shelf at the bottom of the wall near the baseboard. Tapping gently on a special spot caused the wall to slide to the side leaving almost the entire back of the pantry open.

Reaching over to a wall switch on the right, she flipped the light switch on, causing the flight of stairs to be flooded with a bright light. Turning to face those behind her, Sierra continued. “We will start with the first list. Whoever has the first one, please read off the items, and the rest of us will start carrying them downstairs. When we finish with this list, we will continue with each of our assigned lists. Please be mindful of the steps.”

The first basement level contained a collection of some of the finest wines and cheeses available anywhere in the world. Behind the long row of glass doors, wines were refrigerated on the left, and racks of waxed cheese wheels were on the right. Each was kept at a precise temperature designed for long-term storage.

Stan was puzzled why there was such secrecy about this room, as he would have expected something like this to exist in a mansion of this size.

In a calm voice, Sierra said to the group, “Let us begin.”

Each numbered list was read. None of the items on the checklist was missing, proving the value of the checklists. Although there were only nine persons going down to the shelter, they would carry enough additional food stores to sustain ten. When they reached the first vault door on the second level, Sierra turned and said to the women, “I see you have done as I asked and brought the purses I made for you. If you would please remove your lock piece, I will call you when I need to have you insert your piece.

“Celia, please give me Delta’s piece. I will insert hers at the proper time.” Once Sierra was in possession of Delta’s piece she moved the latch cover aside, exposing the lock mechanism. Looking straight onto the lock, its face seemed to have a circle of strange patterns embedded on the device, almost hieroglyphic like.

Due to the proper order in which the pieces were to be inserted, the women lined up and Sierra continued, “Bernadette, please insert your piece, then the rest of us will follow, except I will go after Anna with Delta’s piece.”

Bernadette took the small silver owl out of its storage case and turned the piece so it would address the lock pattern butt first. As previously trained, she inserted the piece and quickly stepped back.

Anna inserted her mocking bird, tail in first, followed by Sierra inserting Delta’s rabbit piece feet first. In quick succession, Rita inserted her bear butt end in, followed by Celia and her leopard’s piece head, then Jessica addressed the lock with her elephant piece held sideways. The last part of the key was Sierra’s piece. Instead of addressing the lock butt or head end first, she carefully laid her piece flat with the raven’s wings spread open. She gently pushed her piece into the center of the lock and stepped back.

A loud click filled the first chamber room and a low rumble could be heard as the heavy vault door slid into the side of the wall. Exposed now were three oversized step landings leading to the second sub-basement room. This room was filled with shelving holding numerous Plexiglas boxes full of various documents and currencies.

Once the others were inside the room, Sierra turned and faced the door they’d just walked through. On a small shelf beside the door, lay a velvet-lined tray. She pushed a button beside the tray. A low hum could be heard as the women’s lock pieces, one by one, fell onto the tray. Without a word, the women retrieved their piece and returned it to the special box kept in their purses.

In this second level room, Stan stared at the shelves in awe, almost unable to fathom the boxes filled with numerous types of documents. If this wasn’t amazing enough, the sight of numerous kinds of currency left him speechless. Between the vault door and this room, the stark realization of his wife’s involvement in this group was slowly starting to sink in.

Sierra turned and addressed Geoffrey, “May I ask you to go to the pantry and verify we’ve left nothing. When you are finished checking, please close and lock the pantry door from this side.”

When Sierra heard the lock engage on the pantry and Geoffrey return to the stockpile of goods she continued, “Okay, ladies and gents, we’ll form a brigade line and again, each of you will read your list while the rest of us move the goods to the next sub-basement level.”

Stan wasn’t sure what his wife had gotten into, but regardless of what it was, if something bad was about to happen he wasn’t sure he wanted to be trapped so far underground. He knew she traveled with her job and everything in their life seemed to be normal. Now he knew things were far from normal. Watching Sierra approach the back wall of the document room, he saw a device sticking out of the wall that looked like a French type door handle, except longer.

Sierra had designed this door to open with a series of back and forth rhythmical motions. If the moves were not performed to the designed precise beat and motion, the door would not open. She’d trained her group of women how to use this rhythm to open the door.

As this third level door slowly opened, a room was exposed with walls lined with weapons. As done previously, all the goods were moved to the back of this room. Sierra instructed her operatives, “Before we continue to the safe room please retrieve your weapons bag.” Each woman quickly retrieved her pre-packed bag and shouldered it.

This time only a simple red button opened a heavy metal door to the fourth and last sub-level. The group quickly carried the goods to this room. Even to the untrained eye, it was obvious the first intended use for this room was a firing range.

Stan commented, “What the…”

Before Stan could finish his statement, Sierra interjected, “Obviously, this fourth and final level is normally used for a practice firing range. However, for our current situation, this is not its purpose.”

Sierra opened a panel on the inside of the room. The first button she pushed caused the rear wall to illuminate, revealing that the wall extended far beyond the back of the targets, more than tripling the size of the room. Next, the wall targets moved to the rear of the well-lit wall.

Another button pushed caused the murphy beds, five on each side of the room, to be exposed. From the ceiling, a concealed rail allowed partitions to slide between the beds. These were designed to divide each sleeping area. This space would serve as their sleeping quarters, and when properly deployed, the individual areas could be used as additional workspace. Although the partitions allowed for no soundproofing, they would provide a modest amount of privacy.

To the right side of the entry door, another button pushed exposed a compact kitchenette area. Pressing the last button, doors on the opposite side of the kitchenette slid open to uncover an oversized giant pantry. Pointing to the storeroom, Sierra said, “Okay, let us keep in mind it’s important to stow our stores as mapped. The things on the last list will be the items we will need to move to the far end of this room. This is where our lavatory facilities are and those are important items to be used for sanitation purposes. Now, quickly, let us please move our goods in.”

No more than an hour passed and all the goods had been moved to the safe room and stowed. Handing a floor map to the undercover agents Sierra asked, “Rosa, Geoffrey, I’d appreciate it if you would please see everyone is settled into their own space. I’ll see to the common area.”

In unison Rosa and Geoffrey said, “Done.”

There remained only two items outside the safe room. The padded case containing Sierra’s family sat on the shelf in front of the ammo. On top of the case was a smaller one containing her heirloom jeweler’s tools. Before bringing the cases into the safe room, she commanded, “Down table.”

As if by magic, support legs dropped down from the ceiling first. Then the table, which had been tightly concealed in the ceiling, began to descend. This was a large octagonal table where they would share their meals and work. It would also serve as a place of community where, in their downtime, they could share their stories, or engage in a relaxing activity.

Sierra picked up the padded case, and by the time she turned to reenter the safe room, the table was in place. She set her precious cargo on the table. She then placed her hands on top of the case and for a moment was lost in her thoughts.

Breathing in deeply, she directed her words to what remained of the occupants inside the case, “Well done Sisters, Mom and Grandmamma, well done.”

She turned to the others and gave one last instruction before closing and locking the last door. “I know we are all weary, however, I must ask we move all our weapons and ammo to the back of this room. Although it is unlikely, if we do have to make a last stand, I want to make sure we have the fire power to do it.”

Without a word all complied. They were nearly ready.

The Damage


For the first time Sierra was almost speechless. Facing those who had joined her in the safe room she uttered, “We’ll be okay here.”

Rita could tell the events had taken their toll on Sierra. She walked over to her and placed a consoling arm around her. “This too will pass.”

In the solemn moment, Sierra gently returned Rita’s comforting embrace. “Thanks, I needed that reminder.”

To the rest of her team, Sierra nodded toward the table, “Please, all of you join me.” Next, she commanded “Lights up.”

Stan asked, “Wow, what else do you command by voice?”

“I only started the conversion last month. So far only the table and lights in the common area have been programmed,” replied Sierra.

Moving the chairs on the concrete floor delivered a low scraping echo in the cavernous room. The bright LED lighting added to the stark solemnness of the room. There was nothing on the bare walls to soften the feeling of being shut in.

Once everyone was settled at the table, Sierra began, “Here’s what I know.

“When Peter left here yesterday he was certain we would be under attack within forty-eight hours. While I don’t consider myself an alarmist, I have no reason to doubt what he told me.

“It appears the Chinese are not finished with us. As you know, a couple of years ago they almost pulled off their plan to kill a vast number of our youth. Had their plan succeeded, anyone present in the majority of our learning institutions more than likely would have died. They were quite ingenious in planting a genetically modified airborne Ebola virus into something every public building has. As you know, state fire codes across the nation require fire extinguishers be installed in public buildings every few feet.

“After analyzing the event, the CIA and FBI believe it took three to four years to plant enough people into the right places in order to pull off the planned destruction. Many of those complicit in the event were placed as janitors and building engineers, and some even held positions such as administrators, teachers and professors.

“The only thing the infiltrators had to do was to take off the top mechanism of the extinguisher and replace the apparatus with a modified unit that could receive signals from NSA’s communication satellites. All the gages would be fixed to show the unit was full, eliminating the extinguisher being taken away for inspection.

“Then, when the designated hour came, the NSA’s hacked application, which controlled the satellites, would send a signal causing the virus to be released simultaneously nationwide.

“In order to replace the fire extinguisher parts, and not draw attention to what was going on, meant the Chinese had to be able to ship parts manufactured in their country, and then have the ability to distribute the modified parts countrywide here.

“They achieved this by being able to control the West Coast shipping docks. The inspectors who were employed by them guaranteed the parts could be transported nationwide. These small replacement parts contained the receivers in addition to the engineered virus, all being contained within the same replacement part.

“Not by coincidence, one of our country’s largest warehousing and distribution firms is owned by one of China’s richest businessmen, Zhou and Lei Wang’s son. Knowing this now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the shipments managed to get into the country without inspection and then be distributed nationwide.

“Had it not been for two World Tech employees, Amanda Kline and Sam Haley, who discovered the rogue code embedded in the program, the virus would have been released.

Fortunately, the pair was able to convince Deputy Director Winter something serious was about to happen. The CIA joined with the FBI and the NSA, in a consolidated effort and this disaster was avoided. But mind you, just barely. What we now have proof of is this does go much deeper than the part the Wang’s have in it.

“So, here we are again, dealing with not only the Wang’s, and the nation of China, but they have partnered with other countries in their efforts to destroy us. The North Koreans and Iranians have combined forces with China and their ships are now waiting off both our coasts ready to hit us with nuclear weapons. They now have the capability to release NEMPs all over the entire country.

“If they succeed, I can’t imagine what chaos will ensue. Most of the people in our nation are unprepared for a disaster of this nature.”

Stan piped in with, “Why don’t we deal with the ships now instead of waiting for something to happen.”

Sierra replied, “Because, unlike many nations, we follow the rules of engagement. These ships are sitting at, not within, the twelve-mile demarcation. If we hit them now, we could start World War III, and as we know all too well, we’ve lost too many allies already. We have to wait until they display an act of aggression toward our country before we can engage.”

“So we sit here like ducks waiting to be killed,” commented Stan.

“Yes, more or less. However, be comforted in knowing our military forces are watching closely and will, if necessary, be ready to act.”

Stan shakes his head in disbelief.

Sierra takes a moment before continuing, “While we are waiting to see what, if anything happens, we need to go back over the files of the Midnight Blue incident. We’ll look for any clues and such that may have been missed with the first Midnight Blue incident. There has to be something else that has been missed since obviously the Chinese had a fallback plan.

“When Peter came out to tell me about Delta, he gave me a heads up on what is to likely happen in a couple of days, maybe less.”

Sierra walked over to a cabinet beside the room’s exit point. She picked up a miniature rectangular device. It was smaller than the palm of her hand. Holding it up she continued, “When Peter was out here last, he brought this petabyte drive which contains not only the Midnight Blue incident files, but other files which may or may not be related to what they think is about to happen this time. We need to scour the files. No matter how absurd you consider a link, it may be potentially tied to what we think is about to happen, so please, document it. We have to paint a picture here folks!

“Geoffrey and Rosa, I will depend on you to continue to help me with my group. I suggest we get started, the quicker and more eyes on the better. Here’s what we will do first.”

Pointing to the left wall Sierra described the well-designed beds. “Sorry you won’t have more privacy, but these side and frontal curtains will allow a modicum amount of seclusion.”

Rosa walked over to the wall housing the nearest sleeping quarter and demonstrated how the Murphy bed worked as Sierra described the mechanics of the bed. “Notice the handle three quarters up on the bed back plate. When you twist the handle and pull to this down position your bed will release. It’s designed with shock pistons to deploy slowly, however, I recommend you stand clear.”

Sierra waited until Rosa returned and locked the bed back into its storage position before she continued. “Eighteen inches below the first handle is another handle, which will release a worktable.”

Rosa demonstrated the built in work table and then returned it to its upright position.

“As you can see, this affords us the necessity of a sleeping place as well as an independent work space. Quarters are tight, although I’m sure we can manage. Rosa, would you please pass out the external drives.”

When everyone had been given one of the external hard drives Sierra continued. “As soon as Peter left, Geoffrey and Rosa backed up the information he’d given us on these external drives. For safety reasons, I have stored the original drive in a hardened case. In addition, I stowed four extra laptops should the ones we will be using receive an unlikely EMP hit. I believe we are fully protected from such an event, but I learned many years ago to follow Franklin’s advice. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’”

Jessica’s husband Stan, commented, “Sierra, I’m an electrical engineer. Now that I know what may happen I’m not comfortable down here in a potential firebox. If we are hit by a Nuclear EMP there’s a good chance your wiring will burn up and cook us where we stand.”

“No, it won’t. Trust me Stan. We are over thirty-five miles from LA’s city limits, which extends a comfortable distance from the city center. As long as we don’t take a direct hit, we are well prepared for nuclear fallout as well as an EMP strike. If it makes you feel any better, I can show you how.”

Stan replied, “Yes, I’d like that. If it is what I think it is, it won’t work.”

Sierra motioned for Stan to follow her. At the far end of the massive room was a slim looking metal cabinet. She opened the door exposing the electrical wiring panels. “Notice the panel enclosure is designed to defeat a major solar flare, or more importantly, an EMP attack. Above ground is the first layer of protection and the power backup generator is protected too. Should the power grid go down, we will remain fully functional.

“I will assume you know a nuclear burst close to the ground isn’t all that damaging to electronic equipment because the ground absorbs the burst and any damage done would be localized. Since there is nothing in the atmosphere to act as a buffer, it’s the NEMP exploded high in the atmosphere I’d be worried about.”

Stan’s brow wrinkled and he remained thoughtful. Then he asked, “How about the rest of the country? I know many of the power companies have pretty much ignored this type of threat and only a few have made the necessary changes to protect their systems. It takes the government years to decide to move on anything without seemingly decades of study. How prepared are our government entities?”

Sierra replied, “Military wise I believe we are and have been ready for some time. However, due to costs and time to retrofit major transformers on the grid… well, only time will tell how many of these power centers are ready. I believe most are. Does this make you feel better Stan?”

“Not really. I still don’t like the idea of being trapped down here.”


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-33 show above.)