False Flag: Beach Party USA (Part 2 of 3)
Painting by Demar Douglas
The next day brought a cloudy but rainless morning to the city of Honolulu. A mile and a half off the coast, a subtle, curved black tube poked up out of the waves and dropped quickly back out of sight.
In the cold, choppy waters below, the tube could be seen attached to a small undersea drone, swirling around in the currents. Much farther down, almost out of the range of sunlight in the depths of the Kaho’olawe Trough, sailed a huge stingray-shaped submersible six hundred feet wide at its longest point and four hundred feet from its tip to the start of its triple flagella tail, that stretching another three hundred feet back. About a third of the way back from the front in the center of the ship’s width, a dome like bridge rose up above the surface with foot-thick clear plexiglass-like windows on the front three sides.
Inside that dome was the bridge of this craft, called a Constrictor due to the ability of its three tails to seize and crush watercraft or adversary assets. Looking out the front viewport was a tall, lean, grizzled white man with salt and pepper hair in a crisply tailored light gray uniform emblazoned with the Union of the Snake logo on the left pectoral of his padded flak jacket. A dull gray mechanical arm extended from his left shoulder without the covering of a sleeve, and a scar ran vertically down his right eye, not enough to close it but very noticeable.
A Sea Snake, one of the endless legions of masked and helmeted types of soldiers fielded by the Union, walked up with a tablet in hand. The only differentiation notable was the three thin red stripes at a slant on the right shoulder of her uniform
"Colonel Clearwater," she said to get his attention. "We are in position. These are latest scans from the surface."
Clearwater turned to look down at her and accepted the tablet. "Thank you, Lieutenant. We’re the last ones to get to this little party, right?"
"Sir, yes sir," she replied, arms behind her back.
"All right," he said with a sigh. "That will be all, I'll have an update for the XO as soon as I check in with mission command."
The Sea Snake saluted smartly and spun on her heel, marching back to her duty station.
Clearwater reached into his right pants pocket and pulled out a small wireless earbud case. Momentarily fumbling with the tablet before getting it under his mechanical arm, he carefully used his right hand to put in both earbuds, sliding the case back into his pocket, before going back to the tablet. His left hand, looking like an assemblage of coils, tapped at the tablet and on the left side of the screen, he saw two almost identical smiling blonde white women, each with swoop bangs to the opposite side of the other, with a beauty mark on the right cheek of the one whose hair swooped that way. The right side of the screen showed a video feed from the drone and a 3D map of the ocean leading up to Pearl Harbor.
"Addison, Madison," he said by way of greeting. "The Constrictor Basilisk is in position and we are showing all green indicators for the mission."
"Excellent, thank you, Colonel," the smiling ladies returned in unison.
"With the Shop Steward’s help," said Addison, the twin with the beauty mark, "we have Ophidian Keep assets ready to take possession of the package."
Madison said, "The Shop Steward was very helpful making everything go well, given we pulled him off of vacation. We'll have to give him a badge on the intranet after this mission's over."
"I had to ride for a day and a half in a submarine after killing the Vice President of Taiwan," Clearwater said, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his left hand, "we all have a lot to do. Any reason we can’t begin now?"
"Prophecy reports that the nearest extra human presence worth noting is in New Zealand," Madison said, glancing down at her phone, "so no worries there."
Addison chuckled, "Onyx Dragon reported that he saw Raven in the area, which guarantees a DangerWatch response, but subsequent investigations showed the response available is less than impressive, matching our call sheets. As such ..."
The twins glanced at each other and smiled in unison before turning back to face him and saying together, "You are clear to begin, Colonel. Break a leg!"
The tablet went dark and Clearwater spun to call the lieutenant back, finding her standing at a respectful distance behind him.
He beckoned with the tablet, handing it off to her before yelling, "Operation 'Sign Here' is a 'go!' All Fer-De-Lance, Bushmaster and Racer operators and crews prepare for deployment! XO, signal the Merrow and the Crocodile and get the Basilisk into position!"
A bustle of activity began as the lights went from white to red. Clearwater glanced back out of the front viewport and sighed, saying, "... and I thought professional wrestling would be ’too risky.’"
The Martial stood on the upper deck of the Bowfin, looking to the horizon with binoculars. Mask down, Raven stood behind him, keeping his eye on nearby barricades with "TEMPORARILY CLOSED" in large numbers blocking off the gift shop driveway. At the Martial’s foot was a small canvas messenger bag, resting against his right ankle.
The Martial let the binoculars fall to his chest and grabbed a walkie-talkie from his belt.
"Martial to dispatch," he said. "Any word on Red Panther or the Fix, over?"
"Dispatch to Martial," the reply came back almost immediately. "No report from either, but there were police reports IDing a vehicle matching the Red Rover’s description downtown last night at around 0100 hours. Should we activate the tracker, over?"
Martial sighed, and said, "Negative, dispatch, for now, please keep me updated on any more sightings or whatever. Martial over and out."
He clipped the walkie-talkie back on his belt and glanced over at Raven, who simply shrugged in response.
"If this job didn’t pay so well ..." Martial muttered, picking up the binoculars again. He squinted into them as he noticed a push of bubbles off the coast before a huge salvo of more than fifty missiles must out of the water, each targeting coastal defenses and impacting with enormous effect in less than a second.
Grabbing his walkie-talkie and still looking through the binoculars, he yelled, "Martial to dispatch, we have contact, repeat, multiple missile launches, probable ECM and ... Jesus ..."
He watched as the gigantic Constrictor bursts out from under the waves, its back panels opening to let thirty Bushmaster helicopters — which looked like a motorcycle with a rocket as the back of the bike, all under a whirring rotor with a tail rotor suspended over the thrusters — burst from it like a lethal dandelion seeds let loose, each one carrying a Fer-De-Lance jeep with a crew of Snakes already peppering small arms fire at anything they saw. The sides of the front of the Constructor opened and a host of Racers (hovering one-person transports with four whirring helicopter blades giving it the ability to zoom over water or land) and Riverjacks (small attack boats with dual front facing cannons and a host of missiles on every surface) roared out towards the Pearl Harbor memorial.
"We have contact!" Martial yelled as he turned to Raven, just as an arrow came from seemingly nowhere to sink into the messenger bag. Tracing the angle of the arrow, Martial and Raven looked to the east and saw Onyx Dragon in full battle regalia putting his compound bow on a Racer, way up atop the edge of the HI-99 freeway.
Raven immediately started running and Martial yelled, "He’d never hit a bag and not us unless he was trying to distract you!" Raven ignored the yell and jumped to land hard on a W.A.R. Dance, a kind of armored motorcycle with tank tracks instead of tires, and roared away towards the south, where Dragon was heading. Behind him, the parking lot surface was raising up as elevators brought W.A.R. Dances and W.A.R. Masters (the four-wheel drive equivalent of the Fer-De-Lances, but with rear facing cannons).
"This is already out of control," Martial said as he spun and saw Fer-De-Lances get dropped on the coast, with their gunners opening up almost immediately. He jumped off the submarine and slid towards another waiting W.A.R. Dance, putting on a helmet and pulling away just as grenades landed where he was.
"This is the Martial to all DangerWatch forces," he yelled into the helmet mic, "Status red! Pearl Harbor is under attack! Deploy all forces to repel!"
Five W.A.R. Cry flying cars roared overhead, firing missiles at the Constrictor and the incoming forces as Martial rushed into battle.
On HI-99, Dragon glanced over his right shoulder and saw Raven frantically dipping and dodging through traffic on the W.A.R. Dance, trying to keep up with him. He chuckled and yelled, "Hey Scaley! Call Brother Street Sweeper!"
Across town in the Executive Center Hotel, Brown was munching on trail mix and watching college basketball. His cell phone rang and he chuckled seeing the designation. Bringing the phone up to his cheek he said, "I'm still recovering from last night. Who knew that European brother could party so hard?"
"I knew, like I knew I’d win that Prince karaoke challenge!" Dragon laughed.
Brown frowned and said, "... where are you, Dragon?"
Glancing back at Raven, who was now shaking a fist at him, Dragon replied, "I'm on the freeway, doing my part for the plan."
Brown jumped up and grabbed the remote, switching the TV off.
"I'm supposed to get the assets in place and get your ride going," Brown said fretfully, "I thought I was gonna get a text!"
"... and I figured that didn’t happen, because you know how CC is," Dragon laughed.”Shoot first, logistics later. Anyway, I’m on my way to hit my mark, so I figured I’d holler ..."
Pulling on his windbreaker to cover his shoulder holster, Brown grabbed his hotel key from the dresser and headed for the door. "Appreciate you, brother. All right, I’m gonna make sure the Keepers are all set. I‘ll holler.
Brown rushes out of the room and headed towards the elevator.
Back at the shoreline, the Martial rode the W.A.R. Dance hard, kicking up sand with its treads as he zipped around the battlefield firing mini missiles and .30 caliber ammunition from the front cannons.
In his helmet, the com chimed, "Dispatch to Martial, enemy reinforcements incoming from the west!"
Martial glanced to his right and sure enough, another Constrictor was bursting out from the waves ... and taking to the air. As it did, another flight of Bushmaster choppers swarmed out of its back and another swarm of Racers and Riverjacks raced out before it got too high. Further north, a third Constrictor was already hundreds of feet in the air, peppering the position with cannon fire and missiles.
"Martial to dispatch!" he yelled as he ran down a Sea Snake who was leveling an RPG at a clump of Defenders trying to pull a wounded colleague to safety. "Where the hell is Skywolf?"
"Skywolf to DangerWatch," a voice over the channel said, sounding almost amused, "how y'all feel about some air support?"
Fifteen W.A.R. Hammers roared into the sky. Modified from the original AH-64 Apache base, each one carried a quintet of ground effect bombs under their tail. Each one let off a salvo of missiles from their wing racks, sets of five targeting both Constrictors and groups of Bushmasters.
"I got your back, Martial!" Skywolf's voice came, giving Martial a chance to smile.
"You'd think that," a new, feminine voice said on the channel with a chuckle.
Martial pulled his W.A.R. Dance in front of the Defenders with the wounded man, jumping off and providing cover fire with his M-16. "Who the heck is that?"
A fast moving, giant sphere arced from behind the northern most Constrictor and smashed through one of the W.A.R. Hammers as the familiar cackle came across the channel.
"Hey DangerWatch!" Wrecking Ball yelled over the com channel, "guess how I'm coming in! Hahahahahaha!!!"
Martial gritted his teeth and barked, "The Keelback is on the field! Avoid close contact! Dispatch, secure this channel, Wrecking Ball still has our frequencies, we ..."
A loud "vroooom" echoed from behind him and Martial looked up to see the Red Runner jumping over the battlefield. As the Fix leveled the Racer's high tech laser apertures, disintegrating whole Racers at a time, Red Panther waved happily out of the window at the Martial.
"Sorry we're late, boss!" he yelled cheerily.
As the impractical vehicle arced over the beach, the wheels pivoted and the hubcaps rotated fo let small hydrofoils out, with the surroundings began providing boost underneath. The Racer hit the water and was immediately faster and more maneuverable than anything else out there, chopping into the Union's heavy numerical advantage almost immediately.
Glancing over at the wounded Defender, the red haired kid he saw in the mess hall, Martial muttered, "This is a whole damned mess!"
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