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March 3rd, 2012
The third chapter of Book Three of.
Following an alliance between the U.S. military and the BDA, the Rogues declare open war. After the Rogues launch an attack on New Orleans, the Leader and Elite leave to intercept them.
The room grew silent as the camera started rolling. On the screen, it showed an older man sitting at an ornate desk. Behind him were the flags of the United States and the seal of the President. The man appeared almost exhausted, but to the people across the nation, he was only resolute in his message. The country grew silent as the President began to speak.
"Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.
The victims were in airplanes or in their offices -- secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors.
Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.
These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.
Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.
Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C., to help with local rescue efforts.
Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.
The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow.
Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."
With a flick of the wrist, the rock wall in front of him dropped to the floor, creating a makeshift door. George Tenet, director of the CIA, stormed into the Leader's office. The Leader, sitting at his simple wooden desk, sighed and crossed his arms.
"Mr. Tenet, this is an unexpected surprise." the Leader said calmly.
"Don't give me that, you know darn well why I'm here." Tenet fumed.
"No sir, I'm afraid I do not."
"You told me you would stop him! You promised me!" Tenet roared.
"Ah yes, bin Laden. I assure you sir, we did all that we could. I couldn't risk the safety of my agents, however." the Leader replied.
"You're telling me you had no influence in threatening him? With the full might of the United States behind you, you had no sway in calling off the attack!"
"That would be true, except that I do not have the full might of the U.S. behind me. Only my own agents."
"Don't give me that! You have power! You could've stopped this from happening! You promised me you would! And now I have the entire world at my doorstep, criticizing me for intelligence failure, lack of preparation, heaven knows what else!"
"Perhaps if you would let me explain, we could work this out?" the Leader suggested.
Tenet sighed. "Fine."
"Please sit." the Leader motioned to a stone chair near his desk. Tenet sat down, staring at the Leader.
"Mr. Tenet, did you know that there was a colony in New York."
Tenet appeared stunned. "A colony?" he repeated.
"Yes sir. An airbending colony." the Leader responded.
"What does this have to do with the attacks?"
"Because sir, al-Qaeda was not the only organization involved in the attack."
Tenet sat with his back straight in the chair.
"Are you telling me that the colony in New York was responsible as well?" Tenet asked timidly.
"Just as much as bin Laden was. If not more."
"How could they have been involved?"
"They provided schematics for the Twin Towers, flight times, passenger count, passports. Everything al-Qaeda need to infiltrate the country and pull off the attack."
Tenet was silent. The Leader's heart beat against his chest heavily. The lie was weak, and he knew it. All that remained was Tenet's reaction.
"And where is the supposed colony now?" Tenet questioned.
"Most of them were killed in the attack." The Leader answered.
"Then how could they have done it!" Tenet yelled, rising from his seat.
"It was a suicide attack, was it not?"
"Then they killed themselves in the attack."
"All of them?"
"I would think not. Some of them are still undoubtedly in the city." the lie came off of the Leader's lips as easily as a sunflower seed.
"And you can prove it?" Tenet pried.
"If I have the right resources."
Tenet stared at the Leader for another moment, then took a deep breath.
"What do you need?"
"Now live in New York, Sue Simmons, WNBC." an announcer droned as the station's logo went over the TV. The screen changed and showed an older woman with brown hair, sitting behind a black counter. The skyline of New York city shined brightly behind her. An elderly man with a grey suit sat beside her.
"This is NBC News at Eleven reporting live in New York. Today is October 24th, 2001. I'm Sue Simmons." the woman announced.
"And I'm Chuck Scarborough."
"We're reporting live on an interesting development here in New York. Today, the head of the CIA was informed by an undisclosed source that a terrorist cell in New York is partly responsible for the recent attacks on the World Trader Center and the Pentagon. Just hours ago, the President of the United States placed New York under martial law as the 30,000 strong New York Police Department raided the city for the alleged terrorists."
"After two hours of the raids, 92 people were detained by the NYPD from all five boroughs of New York City. Most came quietly, but some gave strong resistance. The NYPD gave us this video showing one of their raids. This was taken at a machine shop in Brooklyn."
The camera shifted to the video. The shaky camera showed a small, dirty machine ship in Borough Park. The sign above the door read "Sánchez Machine Shop". An officer dressed in Kevlar went to the door and pounded on it.
"NYPD, open up!" he shouted.
No response came from within. The officer backed up and aimed a strong kick. The flimsy door caved into the shop. Officers rushed into the shop, fanning throughout the dark interior. The camera followed.
"Keith, run!" a voice screamed from further within the shop.
An officer went to the back of the storefront and opened a door to the shop in the back. As the door opened, an enormous arc of flame burst through the door, stunning the officer.
"He's armed!" the officer shouted. The army of police backed up and swarmed through the door while the camera stayed in the storefront. Gunshots rang out along with further bursts of flame. A few seconds later, the tired and singed officers came through the door, dragging three Hispanic men with them. The camera switched again to the anchors for the news agency.
"The three men were identified as Don Rubén Sanchez, Matias, and Rodrigo Sanchez. The three men, we are told, moved to the city sixteen years ago from Mexico. They were refugees from the explosion in San Juan that took the lives of over 500 people. They, along with 89 others, are currently being held by the NYPD for further questioning." Sue reported.
"And before we move on, I'm getting a message from our affiliate in Washington D.C. We'll turn there now to see what's going on." Chuck said.
The screen changed again to show a man with grey hair and in a black suit. He stood in a crowd of reporters waiting in the press room of the White House.
"This is Tom Sherwood, reporting live from the Press Briefing Room of the White House. We have just received word that the Director of the CIA, George Tenet, will be speaking to us momentarily about the raid in New York. We don't know what else will be brought up, but..."
"Shh!" sounded throughout the room as a middle-aged man with black hair entered and stood behind the podium. The reporters stood silently. A camera occasionally flashed as Tenet began to speak.
"I'm sure all of you have questions about our operation in New York City today. This morning, I received word from someone within our Special Activities Division. The information disclosed that a cell of the terrorist organization, "al-Qaeda" had hidden itself within New York City. Shockingly enough, I was informed that they were only a small branch of an enormous terrorist organization hidden throughout America. I was told that they were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center that claimed the lives of thousands. I was advised to place the city under martial law while the city was searched for the insurgents.
As a result of our search, we have detained 92 insurgents hiding within New York City. They will be taken to a federal prison for interrogation. Starting tomorrow, at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, martial law will be lifted from New York City. Cleanup efforts at Ground Zero will resume and we will begin our questioning. We will keep the American public informed as to what we learn.
Along with today's events, I have been granted permission to expand the Special Activities Division of the CIA. The American public can rest in peace knowing that this expansion will be used towards the defense of our country. Our expansion will include use of ships from the U.S. Navy, air traffic control over the continental US, and use of our satellite system. They intend to use these to..."
Call to Arms
The Leader sat at the back of the briefing room, the Elite beside him. There, in the briefing room, the entire fighting force of the BDA had gathered to watch the broadcast. The full ranks of the Enforcers in rows of metal chairs, watching the large screen on the wall in front of them. Currently, it showed George Tenet talking to the press in Washington.
"...permission to expand the Special Activities Division of the CIA. This will include use of ships from the U.S. Navy, Air traffic control and use of three of our satellites. They intend to use these to..."
The screen turned to sudden static. The men and women in the room looked around, confused. The Leader stood slowly, still pained from Kumara's escape.
"Silence!" the Leader commanded. The room went silent.
"Morgan, what's going on?" the Leader asked Morgan, who sat beside him.
"There must be a problem with the transmission." Morgan replied uneasily.
The screen still blared the noise of static. The Elite gathered around as well, watching for any change. Suddenly, the screen cleared up and showed a different image. On the screen, a beautiful woman in her forties stood at the podium. She stood with one of her hands raised slightly above her neck. Every few seconds, a drop of liquid would fall from the air above the camera and onto her red robe. The sound of gunshots and screams permeated through the speakers.
"Well, this certainly says something about the security these days, doesn't it?" the woman said with a grin.
"Is it..?" Adam asked.
"It's Her." the Leader said through gritted teeth.
The Mistress smiled and laughed, exposing luminous white teeth.
"To those of you who do not know me, I am the leader of the Rogues, a branch of the so-called "terrorist organization" hidden in America. But I ask you, since when are normal people living in peace branded as terrorists? We are benders, normal people. It is they who are the terrorists. The BDA is in league with the United States. Together, they have started on the path of our complete extermination. And with this final act of betrayal by our leaders, I realized it was time to act.
I, as leader of the Rogues, hereby declare war on the United States. To those of you who have been oppressed, who have been taken, who have been subjected to their cruel rule, I say that our time is now. The call to arms is now. If you wish to join us, you know where to find us. If not, stay out of our way. I promise you that we will not differentiate between those who stand against us and those who are in our way of liberation. Make your choice, I will be waiting."
With that, the Mistress stepped back away from the camera and dropped her hand to her waist. A body dropped from the air and onto the floor. The Mistress walked out of the view of the camera.
"Make sure the Leader sees who it is." the Mistress' voice called out on the screen. The camera shook for a moment before rotating downwards. There was a collective gasp as the body came into view on the screen.
The room erupted into talking as the Leader gazed at the image on the screen. Morgan stepped forward.
"Quiet!" he roared.
The room took a second before resuming silence.
"You will report back to the barracks until further instruction. Now."
The Enforcers filed out of the room in lines. When the room was empty, the Leader took a deep breath and walked towards the screen. The screen showed the body of an elderly man. He had grey hair, a goatee, and long strands of a mustache. His face had a friendly look about it. Blood poured out of the body through a stab wound in his abdomen. His throat was also slit.
"Jordan." Adam said solemnly.
A knock, seemingly for the millionth time, came to the solid wall that stood in front of the Leader. The Leader, sitting at his desk, sighed and flicked his wrist, forming a door in the wall. Morgan stood there, waiting.
"What is it Morgan?" the Leader sighed, rubbing his temples.
"Tenet's on Line 3. He said it's urgent." reported Morgan.
"Alright." the Leader said.
Morgan walked away from the Leader's office as the Leader reformed the solid wall. He picked up an old phone on the corner of his desk.
"I need you to go to New Orleans." Tenet's voice came over the phone.
"Why, what's going on?"
"We've received a tip that the Rogues are going to attack it."
"I have a company of Enforcers guarding the city, I'm sure they'll be fine." the Leader said, preparing to hang up.
"No, you don't understand. We have another problem that is making me more worried about this alleged attack." Tenet pleaded.
"And that is?"
"After the attack at the World Trade Center, one of our aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise, returned to the Persian Gulf and was helping to dispatch al-Qaeda training camps there."
"And?" the Leader pressed.
"The ship was supposed to report back to Norfolk Naval Base on the tenth of November. Today is the twelfth, and the ship has not returned."
The Leader sat stiff in his chair.
"You think that the Rogues have control of a fully armed aircraft carrier?"
"That's not possible. There must be over 5,000 men on that ship. The Rogues are supposed to have 400 in their ranks."
"The same Rogues who infiltrated the White House and defeated the United States Secret Service?"
The Leader sighed and closed his eyes.
"Have you located the ship yet?" the Leader pressed.
"No. There's a hurricane growing off the coast of Florida. We believe the Rogues are using it to hide the ship's movements."
"And you can't send anyone to look for it?" the Leader yelled.
"I can't risk the safety of my men. The storm is growing too quickly, sending any planes in there would be suicide."
"Mr. Tenet, I understand your concern, but I can't go up against an aircraft carrier alone. Are there not any ships you can send to assist?"
The phone was silent for a moment.
"I'll send two guided missile destroyers, the Arleigh Burke and Ramage."
"Do you not have any carriers you can send?" the Leader said, exasperated.
"Most of them are deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of our operations there. I don't have one that can make it there in time."
The Leader sighed, rubbing his forehead.
"When do you expect the Rogues to attack?"
"Three days. The hurricane is off the coast of Florida and heading west. When can you make it there?"
"If we hurry, we may be able to intercept them."
"God speed, and good luck." And with that, Tenet hung up the phone, leaving the Leader at his desk, clutching a phone and staring into empty space.
The Intrepid sailed slowly but surely towards New Orleans, chugging black smoke as they went. Two destroyers sailed along either side of the ship. The edge of a great, black storm loomed over them, darkening their view of the city. The Leader stood in the bridge at the top of the command tower, overlooking the ship. The Elite stood behind him. Forty Enforcers waited on the deck below, shivering in the cold wind and increasing rain.
"She's definitely there." Vayu observed, watching the storm as it intensified.
"The question is, what is She doing?' Adam wondered.
"Check the scanner." Morgan said.
Adam walked to a console on the left side of the bridge and turned it on. A sudden stream of voices spewed from the old, beaten speakers.
"Threat is sailing west, intercept at 30 degrees."
"All call signs, report in."
"Fighters, fly south, the ship is turning southwest."
At this, the Leader turned and looked at the radio.
"What direction are we sailing?" the Leader asked the captain.
The commander of the Intrepid, Captain Tyler George, turned from the command console.
"Northeast," he said.
"They're coming right at us." Morgan said, an edge to his voice.
"Should we sound the alarm?" the captain said.
"No. Not yet. Get me the binoculars." commanded the Leader. The captain walked to the back of the bridge and returned with a pair of binoculars. The Leader took them and looked to the northeast. His eyes widened at the sight. Sailing towards them was the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Though it was the ship, it was drastically changed. The entire ship had been painted in purple and blue. The colors of the Rogues.
"Sound the alarm, it's the Enterprise!" screamed the Leader. Morgan ran forward and turned on the ship microphone system.
"Enforcers, battle stations! Rogue ship approaching from the northeast!" Morgan reported.
"Do we have anything to fight them off with?" Vayu asked the captain.
"Only your destroyers. The ship is unarmed."
Morgan swore loudly and turned his eyes to the northeast, to the now visible carrier coming at them.
"Get us out of here, now!" the Leader screamed.
As the Leader had said, the entire ship was painted. The hull and flight deck were purple while the superstructure and guns had been painted blue. A fully armed aircraft carrier was now in the hands of the Rogues.
A score of fighter jets, Tomcats and Hornets, flew off the deck of the ship in droves, threatening to collide with each other. There were almost sixty jets in all, flying haphazardly around the carrier. The Leader smiled as he noted a full wing of U.S. fighter jets moving towards the aircraft carrier. After the Rogue jets had moved into position, they ignored the U.S. jets and flew towards the Intrepid.
The Leader watched, heart hammering as the full wing of fighter jets sped towards them. He looked to the sky, to the full squadron of U.S. fighter jets speeding towards the undefended carrier.
"What're they doing? They're leaving their carrier completely unguarded." Silas noted.
"They don't care about the carrier. They only needed the planes to attack us." the Leader explained, eyes still trained on the Rogue jets.
The captain turned on the radio and issued his orders.
"Intrepid, full stop. Arleigh Burke and Ramage, position in front of us, port side facing the enemy."
The engines grinded as the Intrepid stopped in its tracks. The Leader and Elite watched out the rain swamped window as the two destroyers steamed in front of them. The enemy jets divided in the air. 30 swarmed on the Arleigh Burke while the other 30 attacked the Ramage. Both of the destroyers aimed their guns and began to fire.
Anti-aircraft fire boomed in the air, taking planes down with them. As one Rogue jet crashed near the bow of the Intrepid, the Leader took the microphone.
"All Enforcers, retreat below decks." he called out.
The Enforcers gathered on the rain filled deck below filed into the ship. The Leader turned his attention back to the fight in front of them. The Arleigh Burke was suffering from the fight. A flight of jets swooped in and attacked the bridge, littering the deck below with broken glass and blood. Another score came in and fired missiles. The bridge went in flames as the guns below stopped firing. The remainder of the jets successively attacked the destroyer, obliterating it in minutes.
With the Arleigh Burke in flames, the jets turned their attention to the Ramage. The ship was damaged as well, but was still fighting. The Leader watched, awestruck, as the jets came in again and again, each avoiding the anti-aircraft fire and striking their targets. In less than five minutes, the ship was destroyed as well. The Rogue jets reorganized into one strike group, arcing in the sky to face the Intrepid head on.
"They never wanted to attack the city." Vayu realized.
"No. They wanted us." the Leader finished.
The flight of jets flew towards the bridge of the Intrepid and fired. Scores of missiles and bullets flew towards the bridge. The Leader closed his eyes.
To be continued...
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