First the Liberals took all the guns. Then they took away the people's freedom. Now, Ben Raines and his patriot army are driving a weakened United States government into full-fledged retreat. Emerging as an unstoppable force, the Southern States are winning over one strategic ally after another, from the states in the American Northwest to the Canadian provinces-all wanting to be a part of a society based on law, justice, and old-fashioned values enforced by the barrel of a gun. But to be recognized by the world community, the Southern States of America must pay a price. The U.N. wants Ben Raines's warriors to play cops in a world overrun by criminals, gangs, and cannibalistic punks. Now, Raines and his army must engage in an all-out war of liberation across a crime-ravaged Europe, one bloody mile at a time...
Ben walked the long, seemingly endless lines of Rebels. Battalion after battalion of Rebels stretched out before him--and these were the ground troops. The MBTs and Dusters had long since departed the SUSA for the north, transported by Lo-Boys. Tanker trucks filled with diesel and gasoline stretched out for miles and rolled day and night toward the north.
Dan Gray's 3 Battalion, Georgi Striganov's 5 Battalion, Jackie Malone and her 12 Battalion, and Ben's son, Buddy, and his special operations group were already on the ground in Maine at the staging area.
Ben was filled with a strange mixture of pride and sadness as he passed in front of the long full ranks of Rebels. There was a time when he knew the name of every Rebel. No more. Now there were thousands and thousands of dedicated men and women ready to give their lives at Ben's command. It was an awesome feeling, and Ben had never been entirely comfortable with it.
Ben's personal bodyguard, the lovely, diminutive, and deadly Jersey, walked a couple of steps behind him, her M-16 at the ready. Ben saluted his batt coms as he passed.
"Ike, you old bastard," Ben called in a stage whisper to his longtime friend, a former Navy SEAL and commander of 2 Battalion. "You ought to be in a rocking chair."
"Screw you, Ben," Ike returned the stage whisper. "You're older than I am, you old goat."
Both men were middle-aged.
Ben laughed and kept walking.
Ben returned the salute of the mercenary, West. "Ready to go, Colonel?"
"As always, Ben," West called. West's 4 Battalion was made up exclusively of mercenaries who had come over to the Rebel side. To say they were mean dirty fighters would be a clear understatement.
Ben gave a thumb's up to Rebet, commander of 6 Battalion, and returned the salute from the French-Canadian, Danjou, commander of 7 Battalion.
He winked at his daughter, Tina, who was in command of 9 Battalion. Pat O'Shea, commander of 10 Battalion, gave him a salute that was indescribable at best. Ben laughed and waved at Greenwalt, commander of 11 Battalion. Raul Gomez, commander of 13 Battalion, snapped to and Ben returned the crisp salute. Jim Peters, whose 14 Battalion was filled with men from the New Texas Rangers, saluted as he walked past. Buck Taylor was the new CO of 15, Mike Post CO of 16, and Paul Harrison the CO of 17 Battalion.
Ben walked back to the center of the huge parade field, where his personal team was waiting: Beth, the record keeper and the person who kept the team running; Cooper, the wisecracking driver; Corrie, the radio operator.
There was nothing left to say. Everything had been said the afternoon before this dawn. Every Rebel had said his goodbyes to family and friends. Many would not be coming back except in body bags--whenever that was possible--providing all the pieces could be found. Many others would be buried in lonely graves in faraway places--lonely but never forgotten by the men and women who served with them.
Ben looked at Corrie. "Mount 'em up, Corrie."
Some of the Rebels went to trucks for the long ride north, others would be off-loaded at wailing planes at the airport. Thirteen thousand men and women heading north to join four thousand more at the staging area in Maine.
"You want me to have communications radio Blanton that we're moving?" Corrie asked.
Ben shook his head. "He'll know it soon enough. He may be a liberal, but he's not a fool."
The team members exchanged glances, and Ben caught them and smiled but said nothing. It was highly unlikely that any resident of the SUSA would have anything good to say about President Homer Blanton--for they knew that even though Blanton had officially recognized the SUSA as a separate and sovereign nation, and had signed treaties, Blanton and those in his administration hated Ben Raines and anything, everything, and anybody associated with the Southern United States of America. They were also well aware that given the slightest opportunity, Blanton would destroy the SUSA if he thought he could.
But as Ben had just said, Blanton was no fool. He knew that Ben Raines had nuclear weapons, and many of them were pointed directly at Charleston, West Virginia, the new capital of the United States. Blanton was also very much aware that another president a few years back had tried to destroy Ben and his Rebels. Ben had sent K-teams out after that president and his close associates and killed them all.
Homer Blanton reckoned that General Raines was about the meanest son of a bitch he had ever encountered.
Ben stopped by his house for a moment to play with his dogs and say goodbye to them ... for he did not know if he would ever see any of them again. His husky, Smoot, would not be going on this trip.
There was no woman in Ben's life. Not lately. Ben was certainly not celibate, for there were women he visited from time to time to "take the edge off," as Jersey put it. But since Jerre had died, Ben had been unable to sustain a relationship more than a few months.
"They'll be well taken of, General," one of a group of Rebels standing in the yard told him as he was leaving.
Ben nodded and kept on walking, trying to ignore the frantic and sorrow-filled barking coming from his pets. He got into his Hummer and told Coop, "Go!"
Late that afternoon, Ben and his team stepped off the plane in Augusta, Maine, and were met by Colonel Dan Gray.
"Everything quiet up here, Dan?"
The Englishman smiled. "Except for our occasional forays across the border into Canada to harass Revere's troops, yes."
"He's up there now with some of his special ops people. As a matter of fact, he's rather deep into enemy territory. He just reported this morning."
Ben started to say that he hadn't given any orders for any of his people to cross borders. Dan anticipated that and held up a hand.
"Revere's troops crossed over first and attacked us at our listening posts, Ben. They hit us five times at five different locations before I gave the orders to cross and pursue."
"Fair enough, Dan. The bridges still intact across the Saint John?"
"Surprisingly, yes. Plans, Ben?"
"We start our move into Quebec day after tomorrow. I want to give Buddy time to get into place. Let's go to your CP, I want to look at some maps."
In the command post Ben shook hands with Georgi Striganov and Jackie Malone, then studied the maps of Revere's strongest points for a time.
"Georgi, you spearhead the western attack. Dan and Jackie will be right behind you. Take tanks and artillery and head out at first light. Go up here to 201 and take it straight up to the border." He did not have to tell the old soldier to take all the supplies his people could stagger with, for the Rebels almost always outdistanced their supply lines.
"Ike and Rebet will come with me into New Brunswick. We'll clear that and cross over into Quebec. By that time the rest of our people will be in place and ready to smash through at these locations." Ben X'ed them out on the map and smiled. "I've sent small contingents of Rebels into Manitoba and Ontario with enough things that go bang to confuse the hell out of Revere's scouts. If it all works, he won't know where in the hell to shift his people. They'll start diversionary tactics at my signal." Ben tossed the grease pencil on the map table. "Let's get something to eat. I'm starved."
Several hundred miles to the north, General Revere sat in a lovely old chateau, meeting with his officers. The overall mood was not good. Revere broke the glum silence after his intelligence people read aloud their assessment of meeting the Rebels head-on.
"There is no point in us sitting around here looking like Chicken Little waiting for the sky to fall," Revere said. "We've got the Rebels to fight, and that is that. We know that Raines asked Blanton's armed forces--such as they are--to form up a line behind his own, but to stay in the States. Even if our people did manage to break through the Rebels, we'd have the American army to deal with, and we'd be in such weakened condition, plus outrunning our supply lines, that we wouldn't stand a chance. So we have no choice, gentlemen: We have to stand and slug it out with Raines."
Revere waved him silent. "I know, Karl, I know. Our losses are going to be unacceptable. But let me tell you all something--if we were to attempt to fight Raines's Rebels in an unconventional type of war, we wouldn't stand a chance. I know Ben Raines. I've known him for years. I've personally watched him fight guerrilla wars and know how he thinks. Believe this: The Rebels are the finest guerrilla fighters in the world. Raines would just love that. No way, people. No way. It might come to that for us to save our own asses, but only as a last resort."
"Paul," a senior officer said, "is it true that he's got factories down in the SUSA cranking out models of the old P-51?"
Revere nodded his head. "Incredible as it may seem, yes. It's a version of the old Mustang. This new one is called the P-51E. Has a top speed of around five hundred miles an hour and carries an enormous payload of rockets and bombs, plus it has six .50-caliber machine guns. Bear in mind that during the Korean War, the P-51D shot down Russian MIG jets!"
"But we have SAMs," another officer protested.
"We have reason to believe our SAMs will be of very little use against the P-51E," Revere's intelligence officer said.
"Why?" Revere asked.
"They come in right on the deck," the intelligence officer said. "Far too low for our SAMs to be of use. They stay low until they've done their work--and that will be very fast--and then they're gone, staying at treetop level until they're out of range of anything we can throw at them in the way of missiles."
"Wonderful," Revere said sarcastically. "That goddamn Ben Raines has brought the art of warfare back to World War Two levels." He shook his head. "P-51's for Christ's sake!"
Rebels continued coming in all that night, off-loading at the airport and quickly forming up. The Rebels started moving out at dawn, and Revere's troops along the border tensed as they got the word from recon. So far, in Canada, these men had faced only small groups of civilian resistance fighters. Although many of the men in Revere's army were professional soldiers, mercenaries, and combat tested, they all knew they had never faced anything like what was now coming at them. For the Rebels were known all over the world as the toughest, meanest, hardest soldiers to be found anywhere. And they weren't known for taking many prisoners.
For two days and two nights, all along the western border, Revere's troops waited and waited. But nothing happened. What they did not know was that Striganov had halted his people many miles from the border and was sending them across on foot in tiny groups. Those crossing the border on foot were carrying, in addition to their regular equipment, blocks of C-4, silenced pistols, and some were equipped with Haskins long-range .50-caliber sniper rifles. In the hands of a skilled marksman, the Haskins rifle is accurate up to a mile and a half. The 1.5-ounce bullet leaves the muzzle with more than five times the energy of a 7.62-mm round. Depending on the type of round used, the rifle is also capable of penetrating four-inch-thick armor. The tip of the bullet, loaded with incendiary material, detonates high explosives right behind the tip, shattering the steel body into shrapnel. The Rebels were flitting into tiny villages--most of which were deserted except for contingents of Revere's troops--and taking up position. A few unsuspecting throats had already been cut.
Meanwhile Ben was moving his people toward New Brunswick. Ben had ordered Buddy and his special operations group into the Gaspé Peninsula to prevent Revere's men from escaping that way.
"They're scared," Corrie said, after receiving word from communications. The Rebels had tapped into Revere's frequencies and were monitoring everything. "Revere has only two or three battalions here in New Brunswick, and they're all running north on Highway 2, heading straight for Edmundston."
"North?" Ben questioned, looking at a map.
"Yes. Stupid move if you ask me."
Ben was silent for a moment. "They don't know about Buddy and his people. They're scared to come into northeastern Maine because of the terrain ... and us. How big a town was Edmundston?"
"About thirteen thousand."
"They'll have some sort of airport. Revere might have transports there; probably does. That's why they're running. Order the 51's up and tell them to go to work."
It was a scene right out of World War Two as the newly built and highly modified P-51E's roared through the skies at almost 500 miles per hour. Coming in right behind them, although much slower at about 180 miles per hour, were the Rebels' attack helicopters, Cobras and Apaches. The Apache packed a heavier, more devastating load of firepower than many World War Two attack bombers. What the P-51's didn't kill or destroy, the Cobras and Apaches would.
The souped-up and highly modified P-51's caught Revere's old transport planes on the ground and cut them to smoking shards of twisted metal. The Apaches and Cobras found the retreated troops of Revere's army and chopped them to bloody bits. The 51's circled back and came in right after the attack helicopters and finished the job.
Revere lost three battalions of men, about a fourth of his planes, and the Rebels suffered not one scratch.
Revere sat in his chateau and stoically took the news from communications. He turned to one of his senior officers. "Raines might well take Montreal, but he'll pay in blood for every inch of it."