Chapter 8 - Si vis pacem, para bellum



ABC News-CNN Conference Call


Marty Maier, ABC New York: “Have you guys seen the stuff that Newman and Larken brought back from Colorado?”


Steve Dulles, CNN Atlanta: “Hi Marty. Yeah, it looks like pure gold. When the twins sang that old Simon and Garfunkel song I cried like a baby and I’m three marriages and twenty years past jaded.”


Tony Clark, ABC New York: “Are those kids for real or are we being set up?”


Kelly Newman, CNN: “There’s no way anybody could have staged this. Our helicopter practically crashed in their front yard. I had our research team check out the Ross family and everything Tom told us checks out. The presentation he gave the Colorado Guard people on the Air Quality gadgets is even on U-tube. Our sources say that Homeland Security has got the whole West coast network running now.”


Walter Eagen, ABC Washington Bureau: “Did you get a load of Hollister and Sanchez? Two House members breaking down and crying on camera and saying that quote we had it all wrong? Politicians never admit they’re wrong about anything. It’s just not done.”


Paul Larkin, ABC: “I have to say that it was the damnedest thing that I’ve ever seen. A 14 year old quoting Lincoln completely waxed two senior members of the House.”


Steve Dulles, CNN Atlanta: “We’ve got something here that is magic-in-a-bottle gentlemen. It’s good for the country when we need it the most and it’ll kick our ratings through the roof.”


Marty Maier, ABC New York: “What do you have in mind Steve?”


Steve Dulles, CNN Atlanta: “Let’s call it a joint project. A thirty minute special: the Ross Family- three generations of heroes. We start with the grandfather, the father and then the kid. We use the quotes from the kids, the quotes we got from that Colonel and the congressmen and close with the kids singing.”


Marty Maier, ABC New York: “Kelly, did you say you had background on the father and grandfather?”


Kelly Newman, CNN: “The Grandfather served in WWII, and was in line to drop the third bomb. The father is a famous epidemiologist that fought diseases on 5 continents and saved God knows how many lives and… well you’ve seen Tom.”


Marty Maier, ABC New York: “OK, I speak for our network on this one. The joint project is a go. We want this to air Sunday night primetime. Our legal teams can work out the details. I’ve got a feeling that the Disney people are going to want the movie rights.”


Steve Dulles, CNN Atlanta: “Fine by me Marty. We don’t do movies but this is one that I would go see.”



Bradbury Middle School

Frederick, MD- 5 years ago


Tom’s first day of middle school at Bradbury was a complete disaster.  His father transferred to USAMRIID at Fort Detrick, Maryland after spending many years with the CDC in Atlanta. The culture clash caught Tom completely by surprise.


After spending so many years in Atlanta, much to his mother’s amusement, Tom had developed a distinctive Southern accent. To make matter worse, he wore a Falcons jersey into the heart of Redskins County. He endured shoves, taunts and inquiries about his family lineage.


Tom was a good natured kid and was raised to be polite. He had never faced such ugly and overt hostility and didn’t really know how to handle it. When he tried to explain that he didn’t even have a sister, they only laughed louder and called him “Cousin Tom”.


It wasn’t long before a few bullies decided to have fun tormenting him. One or two of them would grab him and the others would punch him while his arms were held. The school broke it up when they saw it so the bullies just made sure that they didn’t.


To make matters worse, some of the teachers thought that Tom was stupid because of his accent. They accused him of cheating and made him take tests over. Finally he got tired of that and got in trouble for telling one of his teachers, “Just because I’m from the South doesn’t mean I’m an idiot!”


One October afternoon two of the bullies thought that they would have an easy time of it and caught Tom alone. One grabbed him from behind and the other came around to rough him up. Tom snapped. He head butted the kid behind him hard in the nose. He squared off and kicked the guy in front of him as hard as he could in the balls.


With both of his tormentors down, Tom kicked them and punched them when they tried to get up. One of them told Tom that he was going to kill him. Tom told him who said that I was going to let you live?  Tom beat on those two kids for twenty minutes before a Coach found them and broke it up.


Both of his “victims” were taken to the hospital for broken ribs, concussion and generally getting beaten to a pulp.



The school called his parents in and Tom was going to get it- until they asked him why. Tom told the whole story about the harassment, beatings and the death threat. Tom’s father was furious, especially with the teachers that made his son take his tests over and over until they were satisfied that he wasn’t cheating.


The Principal asked him, “Why did you beat them so bad?”


Tom answered: “You weren’t paying attention and I had to end it.”


The school didn’t have a chance to expel him. Tom was transferred to another school the same day. Bradbury Middle School was asked to explain their negligence to the Ross’s attorney.



Eagle Rock


After supper that night, Tom said, “Hey guys, stick around after we get the kitchen squared away. Something has come up that we need to talk about.”  They quickly cleaned up the kitchen and the dishes and regrouped around the kitchen table to hear what Tom had to say.


Tom looked around the table at the four fourteen year olds that he was responsible for. He couldn’t imagine any one of them shooting someone. Worse than that, carrying around the knowledge of ending another life could destroy even the strongest of people.


Tom said, “This afternoon Colonel Gaddis told me that a group of raiders is operating in the mountains to the North of us. The closest place they’ve hit is 30 miles North at Sioux Springs. Most of what they have hit has been isolated or deserted houses. Yesterday they upped their game. They hit the small town of Pine Lake and killed all 20 people that lived there.”


Nobody looked happy to hear that.


“The good news is that the Guard is out looking for them at night. They’ve got gunships with low-light gear and strike teams standing by at their base. The bad news is that if they came here, we would have to hold out long enough for help to arrive. We aren’t trained soldiers and we’re not going to be able to shoot it out with these guys.”


“First things first: we’ve got to become a 24/7 operation. That means having someone on shift at the radio and security system at all times. I know it’s a pain but we’ve got to do it.”


“Another thing: I found some portable radios downstairs. I’ve got them charging up in the office. They’ll be helpful when we’re out on the grounds.”


Brian asked, “Have you got a plan to deal with the raiders?”


Tom said, “I’m thinking about it but I’ll need a lot of help, especially from you.”




“Yes, you Brian. You’ve got electronics knowledge and I need that. This afternoon I thoroughly went through what we have in the basement and the barn. We’ve got two cases of dynamite and blasting caps that we use to blow out stumps and clear rock slides. We’ve got a couple of hundred gallons of gasoline in storage, a bobcat…”


Ronny asked, “What’s a Bobcat?”


Jimmy said, “It’s like a little bulldozer that you can configure to do different jobs. What we usually use it for is to clear rockslides from the road but it can do other things.”


Tom produced a hand drawn map of the grounds. “The road stops at our gate and we have a long narrow road that comes around the foot of the small peak behind us- the Eagle Rock itself.”


“We can cause a rockslide and block the road at any point from here to here and cause a bottle neck.”


Brian said, “I see where you’re going with this. Once you get them stopped, you’re going to blow them off the mountain.”


Tom said, “That’s the plan in a nutshell. The dynamite is good and it makes a big boom but we need more. Downstairs I found a bunch of big heavy duty plastic sacks called bladders used for storing liquids like water or gasoline. I also found about a million Styrofoam cups. Add gasoline and Styrofoam and we’ve got napalm and we can store it in those 5 gallon bladders.”


“When my Grandmother was alive she had the great big 30 gallon black iron pots that she used for landscaping. I was thinking: we put five sticks of dynamite, and three 5 gallon bladders full of home made napalm…”


Bobby interrupted, “Jesus Tom. I’m glad you’re on our side.”


Jimmy said, “That would make one very nasty bomb and there’s at least a dozen of those big black iron pots in the barn.”


Tom said, “We put white marble chips on top of the bladders and those old fake cactus on top, it looks like plain old tacky but harmless common landscaping. When the dynamite goes off, it ignites our napalm and blows chunks of iron and marble chips everywhere.”


Ronny said, “This is sounding very lethal. Are we sure that we’re doing the right thing?”


“The raiders may not come here”, Tom said. “This may all be for nothing and I hope that it is. If they do come, it’s them or us. I’m not looking for a fair fight with a bunch of thugs that already have over twenty murders to their credit. I’m looking to wipe them out and it is not going to be fair if I can help it.”


Brian asked, “What have we got in the way of wires?”


Tom said, “I’ve got 2 spools of Cat 5 network cable that have never been opened in the barn. My Dad and I used it when we upgraded the security system and computers in the house. We’ve also got power hookups out on the grounds in places you might not think for things like floodlights and the electric fence.”


Jimmy said, “Whatever we do, we’re going to have to test it first to make sure our concept is going to work.”


Brian said, “How about we build one of the bombs and test it in the morning. Then we can put it into mass production.”


Tom said, “That sounds like a good plan. Another thing that I want to discuss is how to handle the gasoline. That’s the most dangerous part of it all.”


Ronny said, “It’s not the gasoline that’s dangerous, it’s the vapors. I suggest that we mix the Styrofoam and the gas directly in the bladders and cap it right there. That minimizes the vapor and gets the sticky polymers mixed in one step.”


“This is what I was hoping for. We’re putting out brain power against their guns and we’re going to kick them off of our mountain. Now, let’s talk about our ignition system and safety…”



USS Seadragon, Deep Water between the Philippine Islands and Taiwan


“Con Sonar: Aspect change on the targets. Goblin-331 and Goblin-332 are turning starboard and going deep: 050 degrees, 055, 060, 065, 070, 075, 080, 085, 090. Make their new course 090 and their prop rate is coming up too. They are increasing speed to 30 knots at 350 meters.”


Summers said, “Navigation this is the Con, Change course and speed to continue the tail on those boomers. Plot, calculate our speed to close within 5000 meters over the next 16 hours.”


The Executive Officer, Lt. Commander Harry Dawson said, “Well that tears it. They are heading for blue water in a very big hurry.”


Summers replied, “What are they doing Harry? That’s not the way boomers operate. They are pounding along at 30 knots like they don’t care who hears them. They sure as hell can’t hear anything on their sonar at that speed.”


The XO said, “Maybe they are headed for a position on the opposite side of Taiwan.”


Summers said, “That doesn’t make sense either. If the Chinese take Taiwan, they have to take it in one piece. They don’t want a bombed out radioactive wasteland. They want the economic power of the islands modern industry. Given the range of their missiles on those boomers, how long before they are in range of the West Coast?”


The XO had his calculator out and began crunching numbers. Finally he said, “They are already on the outside edge of their range envelope. For optimal attack position: two, maybe three days.”


Summers said, “Send an update to CincPac. Maybe they know something we don’t.”



Bitterroot Canyon, Colorado


Jeb Hutton had been riding with the Diablo’s since his last stretch in prison ended in 2005. The Diablos were an affiliate of the prison gang Aryan Nation and a natural outlet for his hate. Hutton never paid too much attention to the ideology but it gave him access to contacts everywhere and recruits that would do anything they were asked without question. Hutton had risen through the ranks quickly because he knew how to cook crystal meth better than most chemists and could kill without batting an eye.


The war was both an opportunity and an annoyance for the Diablos. His contacts in Denver and Los Angeles were out of reach so he couldn’t spend his cash or sell his meth.  The upside of the situation was the cops were so tied up with the big cities; they had pretty much ceded the mountains to anyone strong enough or bold enough to take what they wanted.


The first few days of martial law, the gang cooked meth until they ran out of raw materials. Then they did meth. Then they got the bright idea to try a few home invasions. Law enforcement was spread thin and isolated homes in the country were easy pickings. One in particular was an excellent hit. An old man that was a survivalist had a collection of weapons in his basement with which Jeb was able to arm his little band like a small army.


During the day, Jeb sent out riders in the morning to do reconnaissance. When they spotted a target they would hit it at night between 12 to 3 am. They would take anything they could find: money, drugs, guns, bikes, trucks and items that they could fence.


After hitting Pine Lake, Jeb decided to take a day off to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The pharmacy in the little town had provided enough raw materials so they could start cooking again and they had taken a great deal of loot.


Hutton was having the time of his life. He was able to take out his rage which grew while spending most of his life in prison on the objects of his hate, which was pretty much everybody: the rich, minorities, the government or anyone who crossed him.


Hutton was living better than he ever had his entire life. His gang had spent the last two days holed up in the mansion built by the life’s work of Simon and Sarah Rosenthal whose brains decorated the room that he brooded in; doing more and more meth, becoming more and more psychotic and planning his next move.



Sierra Hotel


The raiders gave General Braddock a huge political headache. Two of the raider’s victims had been a retired, but still influential state senator and his wife. He was under pressure from the Governor to act quickly and decisively to stop the raiders. 


Since he had found Colonel Gaddis to be a capable officer that could get things done, he assigned Gaddis to Operation Bouncer: the elimination of the raiders. He provided Gaddis with a pair of Apache gunships, a pair of Blackhawks and a two fully armed combat teams. Over the next few nights they would be looking for the raiders.


During the days the Guardsmen sometimes saw single riders on the mountain roads. The riders would always take off cross country and the Guard wasn’t equipped to chase them.


The Guard and Colorado State Troopers were finding more and more of the bloody carnage that the raiders had left behind. So far they had killed over thirty that authorities knew about. Others were bound to turn up.


Sooner or later they were going to get caught. It was a just question of when and how much damage that they would do in the meantime.



Eagle Rock


The next morning the boys created one of the bombs that Tom had devised and found a nice secluded place on the other side of the mountain to test it.


They moved the bomb with the Bobcat and placed it in a depression that would contain most of the blast. Brian used the network cable and the battery from the Bobcat as the power source. The boys finished their set up and took a position 750 yards from the test area.


After connecting the wires, Brian said, “We’re ready.”


Tom said, “You can do the honors.”


Brian said, “No, that honor belongs to you. The bomb is your design. Touch this nail to this terminal and it will go off.” Brian had created a simple control board out of a 2X4, nails and wire.


Tom said, “Where did you get the idea for this?”


Brian said, “I saw it on the Science channel. It’s how they control big fireworks displays.”


Tom took the nail connected to the battery on the Bobcat. It had electric tape covering the top third of the nail acting as insulation and securing the electrical connection.  He said, “Fire in the hole!” and made the contact.


There was a huge roar and fireball as the dynamite and homemade napalm ignited. The boys watched over the rise as a ball of fire rose in the air. Seconds later they heard debris landing around them. After a few minutes, the fire subsided but there was still a large plume of black smoke rising from the test area.


Tom said, “It looks like our bomb works. Let’s go take a look at the site.”


They walked to the edge of the depression where the bomb had gone off. Debris was still burning and there was a smoldering crater six feet deep and 10 feet across.


Ronny looked over the devastation. He pointed off to the left and said, “Hey, look at this.”


The boys walked over to find a pine tree two feet in diameter neatly chopped off at chest height. The top of the tree had fallen down and was lying in the forest. Tom looked at it closely and saw chunks of black iron embedded in the wood. They also found the ornamental white marble chips embedded in tree bark all around the area.


He said, “How far is it to the crater from here?”


Brian said, “About thirty feet. What did it?”


Tom said, “Shrapnel from the pot. Sliced through it like a lawnmower. OK. We’ve got an effective weapon, a controlled way to ignite it and a plan that looks like it will work. It’s up to you guys. Go or no go?”


The vote was unanimous. They began deploying the ignition wires that morning.


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