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(Created page with "After World War II the United States dominated the globe as a military colossus, projecting sea and air power with aircraft carriers named after what the US Navy considered to be…")

Latest revision as of 16:57, 25 September 2019

After World War II the United States dominated the globe as a military colossus, projecting sea and air power with aircraft carriers named after what the US Navy considered to be great American presidents.

One of the newer nuclear-powered carriers, the USS Richard M. Nixon and her support ships, had steamed in the waters off Barbuda in support of the ongoing combat operations there ordered by the President. At the time this represented the only combat ready carrier power on the east coast, since the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was half-way across the Atlantic embarked on a deployment to the Mediterranean, the USS Herbert Hoover was already in the Med, the USS Calvin Coolidge was monitoring the whirlpool near New Zealand, and the USS Warren G. Harding and USS William Howard Taft were both in drydock for overhaul. The remaining six carriers were based in the Pacific and were unavailable for Operation Caribbean Rage.

After nearly a week, and despite one of the most intense air campaigns in American history which leveled the port and every building larger than a hovel in the tiny hamlet of Codrington, three successive attempts to take the island by amphibious assault had failed. Invading troops would literally find the ground open up beneath their feet and fall through and nine times out of ten not even their bodies could be found.

Then the unthinkable, the unbelievable happened. The USS Richard M. Nixon was suddenly hit in so many places and sunk so quickly that the Navy didn’t even have video footage of her demise.

After the Chief of Naval Operations advised President Ford, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was ordered to make a starboard turn and steam for Barbuda, a leg that would take nearly three days. She was twenty-four hours from arriving on station when Diane Sawyer began to broadcast live from Codrington, the only reporter to manage to do so during the entire evolution of Caribbean Rage. She even covered an attempt by Marines to attack the house from where she had initially set up to do her reporting.

After discerning that Sawyer had moved to the house next door, a seemingly endless series of attempts by attack helicopters to take out this house were nipped in the bud by Church of End Dome air assets and woman-portable air defense systems, providing a great deal more fireworks for Sawyers’s crew to capture and broadcast. But with the immanent arrival of the Ike, Dory recommended that Diane Sawyer get back in the air with her again, for two reasons. One, the house would be the first target of an air-strike package from the carrier, and two, Sawyer might want to get footage of Del’s counter-response.

And so once again Dory took Diane Sawyer, her cameraman, and her producer up in her flying saucer and out over the waters north of Barbuda. There was no need to resort to night-vision once more, because the USS Eisenhower was lit up as though for Christmas for aircraft launch and recovery operations.

Most of the radio traffic monitored by Dory had consisted of scrambled fragments of voice as orders flew back and forth under encryption, but at one point a woman’s voice went out in the clear, speaking with entirely unique accent. “Alpha Whiskey this is Del of the Church of End Dome, over.”

Alpha Whiskey was shorthand for the commander of the air war, the commanding officer of the cruiser which was accompanying the carrier or at least the officer who was standing in for the CO of that cruiser. Del repeated her call, and this time there came a response. “Del this is Alpha Whiskey, state your piece, over.”

“Alpha Whiskey, this is Del, we are observing that your carrier is lit up and has turned into the wind. Be advised that the instant the first strike aircraft starts to roll down the flight deck we will sink your bird farm almost as soon as the plane clears the catapult. You might want to advise your admiral of that fact. I should think that what we did to the Nixon would establish whether I’m bluffing or not. Del out.”

Diane Sawyer noted that the coded voice fragments reached a sort of crescendo after that. Obviously Del’s comments were being weighed, but apparently not by wiser heads. One of the new F-14 Tomcat fighters started to roll off the deck and was pitched into the wind.

Hovering in the night sky over the carrier at 15,000 feet and matching her course and speed were a dozen stealthy flying saucers rigged as unmanned drones, their crew compartments filled instead with a four thousand pounds of high explosive paste. When the F-14 cleared the deck, as Del promised, these drones cut power and allowed themselves to fall under gravity.

The superstructure of the carrier sustained a direct hit that blew out the island’s windows and outer skin of steel, instantly killing most of the ship’s senior officers.

The forward elevator was hit by a second drone and warped in such a way that it could not be used to move any more planes up from the hangar deck. The blast was sufficiently powerful to throw dozens of flight crew overboard.

The aft part of the flight deck, already filled with planes fueled and armed and ready to launch, was hit by a third drone and exploded in a series of chain reactions scattering burning parts of planes and bodies everywhere.

The fourth drone dropped through the middle elevator, which was flush with the hangar deck. When it exploded, the blast set up another chain reaction of secondary explosions among the planes and ordinance being prepped down there as well as setting the criss-crossing fuel lines on fire.

With the initial damage done, the rest of the drones dropped successively in pairs through the damaged elevators and exploded one after the other, five and six, seven and eight, nine and ten, each blast opening holes through two or three more decks until the eleventh and twelfth drones punched all the way through to the ocean.

After that seawater started to flood into the red hot interior of the carrier and some of this water turned to steam. The aft end of the carrier remained more or less buoyant while the ship pitched forward at the same time she turned turtle. The Ike went under the waves so fast there wasn’t even time to call abandon ship, and there was no officer left alive with the authority to do so at any rate. All of this carnage was captured on camera by Diane Sawyer and her crew. Dory said, “Welp. A slightly different death than the Nixon, but just as fiery and quick.”

When Dory touched down back in Antigua, Sawyer, who had been shocked to utter silence since the sinking of the Ike managed to say, in a trembling voice, “At least I got the round trip you promised me, Dory. Thank you.”

Dory said, “But I don’t think you are very much safer now. Dory says that one fighter they managed to launch before we hit them went straight to the house you were broadcasting from and took it out. Essentially your pal Jerry Ford threw away an aircraft carrier and another five thousand people just to get you off the air.”

“It looks like he succeeded at doing that despite everything,” Sawyer said. “My producer tells me we’ve just been fired and my own network refuses to accept our feed. No one will see the death of the Ike.”

“Then I’d say welcome to the Swarm, Miss Sawyer,” Dory told her.

“Please. Call me Diane.”

“Okay. People trust what you say, Diane, it doesn’t matter if it comes over cable or broadcast networks or or as neutrinos in the Swarm. We’ll get your footage out there. And I have no doubt that you have many more questions about what is going on. We are prepared to provide any assistance you need as well as any protection that we can offer, which as you might have seen recently, is considerable.”

“And what is going on?”

“Only the second American civil war.”

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