Captain Mohr asked Jim to sail on to St. Petersberg after watching the missiles fly. The captain had become more forthright and believed Jim and Erin would no longer share too much with anyone after the events before Narva. It would take them roughly 20-22 hours to reach St. Petersberg.
The majority of the men from the Henson are on there way there by land. There are some going South East towards Moscow. They will draw the most attention, on purpose Mohr noted, and those going to St. Petersberg will probably not get noticed as much. Ideall he said they will get to St. Petersberg without anyone knowing. We, he smiled, are kind of a small back up plan and a possible exit strategy he noted.
There were three boats leading the way to St. Petersberg, but the other 10 did make it out of the marina after dropping off supplies and some of the soldiers. In total about 25 marines were on board the 13 boats. There were also about 30 civilians and other military personnel including Captain Mohr.
Before we get there, Mohr noted, the world will begin to see what the governments of Russia, China and some of their allies did the United States he smiled. They will also get the full story on what they’ve been doing to Americans’ all over the world since. The people of the world will finally have access to the video tape of the Dublin airport. They’ll see what happened to that diplomat in London. They will see that we repelled a bloody attack on the Vatican City in Rome. There will be thousands of pages of data and the axis that destroyed America won’t be able to shut it down without their control of the nodes. And they don’t control them right now.
Unfortunately, Mohr went on, there is a center near St. Petersberg that it wouldn’t have helped to strike. It was not a node but it's quite a center. It's an office complex where the state controllers managed the Internet. In fact if we hit it they’d just go to work from their homes and take back control of the web. They have the software, but we want them to go back to the office. We need them too, Mohr said, because we need to strike them when they are there in force.
Since we destroyed the nodes a few hours back, and since the free news is now flowing we believe the Axis will direct these controllers to the center. In a few hours a tactical group from the Hensen will strike them at the center. Ideally we’ll kill enough of them that the Russians’ won’t be able to control the web any longer. The same effort is being played out in China right now, but they have several centers. Our goal is to smart bomb those once enough operators or controllers show up. The ones we miss will wreak havoc on our ability to get the news out so we don’t want to miss that many.
The night and the next day went by faster than Jim could imagine. Everyone managed to sleep some. The lack of food, constant work of the sails and fighting the currents kept those awake hard at work. When the time came for sleep few had trouble managing it.
The boats drew close to Gorka, Krasnaya a 100 + year old military base for the Russian empire decommissioned. The base was now a western tourist attraction for cruise ships. That ended several months ago after the wreckoning, but the staff kept the base up like it was still being toured. Mohr noted that he felt like the base was built to attract the enemy. Most “enemies” he noted would like the landing zone at Gorka. They’d land there and be slaughtered thanks to the artillery on the base. In the early 1900’s the base would have the capacity to stop any ship from entering the straights into St. Petersberg itself.
One of the soldiers on the Beneteua worked hard at monitoring the web. He reported to Mohr every hour on the ability to reach the real news and it's reach. It's reach meant how many people had seen it - it crossed 80 million at 12 hours he smiled. They were hoping for 3x that Mohr knew. Still it was alive and they were getting to St. Petersberg.
The primary center is destroyed he noted, but there is a crew in town working hard to get it down. Mohr recalled intel of an older “center” that might still be operational in the heart of St. Petersberg near a university. It was a site, that if targeted by the submarine, would likely kill thousands of civilians. One could hardly imagine American’s caring about that after the destruction of the United States as they knew it.
It was about 5 pm as the boats arrived off Gorka, they’d made great time. Jim really managed to get all the sailboat crews in line with tacking into the wind and traveling at just the right path to cut off several hours on the sail. “Gorka” is secure, the soldier reported to Mohr. This meant that US Soldiers and acting civilians from the Henson, the sub and the flotilla were in charge of the ancient base.
Mohr directed a small group to stay with the sailboat flotilla. He offered the detail to Jim and Erin but they declined. The couple wanted to go ashore and be part of what ever was next. Staying with the boats was the safe bet, but a dramatic event had occurred and this group needed to follow up on it. Mohr advised them to leave rifles behind, and the same for all of the troops. Hand guns were fine. We need to blend in, Mohr noted. We’re going into town.
Once at the Gorka base Mohr and the others met up with close to a hundred soldiers and civilians that had been part of the mission. To keep the controllers from stopping the message from reaching the people online the invaders had been cutting power, cutting phone lines and attacking cell towers surrounding St. Petersberg. A larger contingency of troops and civilians as working it's way from Narva directly to Moscow. They were intently showing up on CCTV monitors, but they were destroying as much power and communications infrastructure as they could. The goal was to make the Russians think this group was the one to worry about. They’d dispatch aircraft and reserve troops to stop them. This group would run as soon as they could back to Narva. The distraction didn’t need to be long.
Mohr was directed to a museum like facility by the troops. Jim and Erin followed and were not turned back by anyone let alone Mohr. He appeared to welcome the civilians into the facility. Once inside there were dozens of soldiers clamoring for Mohrs attention. The message finally got through:
There is a protest going on at the university, and low and behold it's right in front of the center. It would seem the old digital center they can use to attack the web is now a main hall for the school and there is a protest going on right in front of it. Troops have the building surrounded, but I don’t know how we get passed the protest and the troops on Lt. spoke frankly. There are center operators going in. We have about 8 teams watching the events now. Since we’ve cut a lot of lines and towers it's hard to communicate with them except by hand helds and we don’t want to alert anyone that it's being watched.
The Lt. went on; I don’t see how any kind of assault on the center will succeed. No offense Captain, but we have about 80 soldiers and, as he looked around, about 30 civilians here. They have probably 3x that many troops in front of the center where the crowd is and several dozen more on each side. Those on the sides are focused at least those in front have a crowd bothering them.
That is the way in, Jim blurted out, and the military officers looked intently at him. We blend in like protestors, Jim said, we get right up next to the soldiers as close to the buildings entrance as we can. On que we shoot our way in front and center. They are looking at protestors not people with guns. We have a lot of hand guns amongst us, Jim said. We work our way through the crowd to the center. We shoot our way in. The soldiers with rifles then cover us as they try follow.
Dangerous the Lt. noted, but I don’t have another idea. Mohr looked at Jim and the crowd. Some won’t make it he noted. There will be loses in such a direct attack. But, as the Lt. noted, I don’t see another way. The group began to focus in on a paper map of the area they had with them. The protest is here, the Lt. noted, and the last I heard it was growing. What’s the protest over, Erin asked? It's over the Russian governments attack on west and control over the Internet. Everyone knows the main hall of the college there was once a control center for the Internet - it's a landmark Mohr noted. Word got out they were sending operators / controllers back to the center and people started protesting it. The people are on our side, Erin said. Very much so, Mohr noted.
Send about 15 of your rifle bearing troops to a neighboring building where they can launch into the centers corners. Send 15 more right in behind the crowd because once shots are fired they will run, Jim went on. Let them run, take up secure positions, wait for the crowd to disperse and the Russians will be trying to get in the front door behind us. “Us” Mohr said? You need civilians Jim said to work there way up to the front. I say 25 or 30 bearing handguns. On a mark they each take out a couple of soldiers and converge on the centers front doors fast. We will need snipers to take down those who survive the onslaught and try to stop us. Maybe we can get the crowd to push closer to the entrance so we don’t have so much open space to cover. Jim knew he wasn’t that fast on his feet.
Do you have any MP5’s in the group Jim asked? The Lt. noted there were a dozen or so. We need men in long jackets to carry them in on the edges of the attack group. Once we make our move the need to hit the troops on the sides hard. They have to buy enough time for the attack group to move inside the building. Once inside they’ll frantically try to follow and that is when the troops need to unload on them. Those MP5’s on the sides of the group though; that will buy the time needed to get in.
There isn’t much time, Jim noted, who knows when they disperse the crowd. It was already a little past 6 pm their time. Jim had overhead the Lt. noting they were 20 minutes from the site in St. Petersberg, but that there was little traffic and they have vehicles at the ready. Mohr gave it a green light. He instructed several officers to pull teams together for the corners, a group of serious Marine types would take up the MP5 positions, and he would lead the back up rifle team to the group he labeled the invaders. He asked Jim to lead the invaders.
Get inside the building. Block the entrance behind you. Use half of those who get in to go to the centers’ hall where the operation of controllers would be. Use hand grenades there, Mohr said, they have to be killed and as much equipment destroyed as possible he said. Since the group assault teams were using school buses they were almost all divided by team. Jim and Erin would lead the invaders and were in the first bus. There were 28 on board. Even the driver was able to listen.
We don’t spread out very far, Jim noted. Just an arm lengths apart really. Once there we press, press and press the crowd forward and we work our way to the front. Be pushy, Jim said, don’t fall behind. If you see a neighbor struggling block for them and help them move up. Switch if you must. Don’t take your time this needs to happen fast. Part of that, Jim recognized, was to get over the fear of what would happen next.
Erin made sure each person had two hand grenades and had them confirm the loads on their hand guns. Let’s do this at 7:40 Jim said, for the 4th of July sort of he smiled. Set your watches and timers to 611 pm in 3-2-1 now. At 7:40 you pull your weapon. You kill at least one if not two of the soldiers in front of you, and you run like hell for the buildings main entrance. The soldiers behind us will do the best they can to cover us. Get in there fast. The closer we can push to the entrance before 7:40 the easier it will be to get inside. Once inside, Jim pointed to a map he carried given to him by the Lt. there is a hallway. Down the hall way about 40 feet starts the entrances to a main hall on your right. First one’s in don’t wait - GO there - use the grenades and shoot anyone that moves. Throw the grenades as far in as you can if you are first. Then get down and let the next person do the same. It is a big hall about 160 x 160 so splatter the damn room so the world can see our story. Don’t let anyone stop you. Once you have thrown grenades if there is no room for you to take up cover and go after the operator return to the front. We’ll need to stop them from coming in after us.
Does anyone not get this, Jim said almost with a hint of anger? Tell know if you don’t get this? I get it, a young man said. Jim realized he’d pass well for a college student, but can I ask - how do we get out? Jim smiled. I had been told by Mohr and the Lt. that they’d clear one of the two sides of the building from enemy soldiers but didn’t know which one would clear easier. Once that happened they’d signal Jim or any survivors to exit that side and retreat back to the vehicles.
We wait, Jim said, for our soldiers outside to clear one of the sides. You’ll have to keep an eye out for them to signal us and follow their lead. Together we’ll get back to the vehicles, back to Gorka, back to the boats and out of this freezing hell hole. There was a bit of a chuckle to that. The young man looked up at Jim with a smile; sounds like a plan. In that voice Jim heard what he and everyone else thought - no way in hell they really make it out. Erin had a slight tear in her eye as she was probably realizing it now more then ever. Jim hugged her, and leaned into her ear, now listen here, Jim said, we are going to make it. They are going to clear one side, we are going to get back to the buses and we are going back to our boat. You hear me, Erin nodded, but without the enthusiam Jim wanted. I’m serious, Jim said, we can do this we just do not stop do you hear me. We do this and we get back to our boat. The nod from his wife was a bit stronger he noted. We can, she said, and out loud she repeated, we can do this people. We can.
Soon the buses arrived and with out words the teams were in movement. The soldiers in secondary buses rushed out of sight to side streets. The invaders, 28 strong, walked quickly to the back of the sizeable protest ahead of them. Six others wearing long coats walked down each side of the street behind them. Captain Mohr and a group of soldiers with canvas packs hiding rifles and other gear followed. There were a dozen of them Jim surmized.
The 740 mark neared. Jim and Erin were 3 to 4 feet apart and had managed to reach the front of the line. Jim noticed there were three soldiers in front of them. One almost directly in front of Erin, one slightly to Jim’s left and one about 7 or 8 feet behind them. They were using a barrier to keep the crowd back. It was all of about 60’ from the barrier to the front door - not that far Jim thought.
With five minutes left on the clock Jim urged the crowd to move the barrier. He expected resistence from the soldiers, but they seemed nervous and unwilling to stop them. The moved the barrier a couple of feet forward. The soldiers just backed up. Others did the same. Jim could see that other members of the invader group saw his lead and were moving barriers forward. It was 7:38.
Jim turned his body towards Erin. He drew from the side to his right which would be hidden from the soldier just inches away from him. The alarm sounded.
The Berretta 9mm came up quickly from the draw, in the corner of Jim’s eye he noted Erin has no trouble with her draw and they both raised their weapons with out hesitation and fired. The shots were so simultaneous with the others know one knows who was first. 28 rounds fired within a half a second and each with just inches to their targets. Jim wasted no time on the soldier he shot and moved the gun sights onto the one 8 feet back and fired two round hitting him center mass first and then temple of the head second. He scoured left and right for another target but found not a one. He jumped the barrier as Erin crossed hers and he could se others doing the same. They rushed towards the double doors 50 some feet ahead.
The rounds of hand gun fire dispatched the panicked crowd in all directions but the center ahead of them. Only the invaders pushed ahead to that direction and not one of them was challenged on the way. A small group of soviet troops came from the side of the building with rifles at the ready, but were quickly dispatched by snipers and the side force with rifles.
Two men managed to reach the doorway ahead of Jim and Erin was just a few feet behind. The doors were not locked, and they rushed inside. When Erin cleared the door Jim directed her to a side hallway to cover it, and then he covered her. The others came rushing through and down the main hall as planned. Another 70-80 feet to the entrance of the centers computer hall. The invaders covered the ground without any resistance.
When the doors of the interior hall opened the invaders found large groups of cubicles. Operators in each one were ducking under their desks already hearing the shooting outside. They didn’t know what was going on. One of the invaders, a soldier from the US Army had studied the center and knew the primary servers were in the back of the room - a good 200 feet or more away from the entrance. He encouraged two other invaders to flank him on each side. They rushed through the unarmed operators for the server room. At the midway point the first rounds inside the building were fired. A group of soldiers had come in from a back entrance and began firing at the 3 invaders. It was all they could do to hit the floor surrounded by unarmed nerds they called operators.
The sound of rifle fire from the centers computer hall wasn’t what Jim expected. There was no movement of troops behind them from the street. There was nothing outside he could see, and so he gathered two of the invaders and Erin and proceeded down the side hall hoping to find another entrance to the computer hall. At about 80 feet they encountered a side doorway into the computer hall where rifle fire was now heavy. They opened the door staying low and not seeing any soldiers they moved in. While the four invaders couldn’t see the shooters they could hear the AK-47 rifles; none of the bullets seemed to be focused on them. So Jim got the three others to move to their right in hopes of reaching the servers and maybe flanking the soldiers.
At the main doorway the Invaders were stumped. One was down and likely going to die of wounds from the rifle fire. All they had were 1911’s and Berretta 9mm’s to return fire. One of the soldiers had enough and launched a grenade by hand as far as he could throw it. The round fell into the cubes of operators and detonated but far short of the soldiers. Still it stopped the rifle fire for a minute as they took cover.
The grenade blast shocked Jim. He was not accustomed to combat but Erin kept pushing forward and he couldn’t hesitate and leave her. He followed noting he was 4th in line behind the two soldiers ahead of them. The rifles blasts started up again and now Jim could see their muzzle flashes off to his left. They were at least a 100 + feet away and maybe more. They were also behind them now as the foursome moved towards the server room.
There were now blasts outside the building that got the attention of the four heading towards the server. Jim had no idea what they were other then intense. It became clear to Jim how hard it was to survive combat. He’d never really seen it before not like this and it scared him to death. He really feared losing his wife who he noted just kept going like the two men ahead of her.
Seconds later, which seemed like minutes, the two men ahead of Jim and Erin stopped. It looked like they were two cube groups of desks short of the server room on the far side of the centers’ hall. The men withdrew their grenades, pulled the pins and threw them at the glass window of the server room. A loyal operator charged after the second soldiers as he tossed his grenade, and Erin shot him center mass feet away. Then Jim handed is grenade up to the soldiers noting they could throw farther than he could, and the grenade was tossed a second ahead of the blast from the first, then the second and finally the third. That third grenade made it through the glass and into the server room, and destroyed at least a dozen machines from controlling the web.
The rifle fire had moved away from the server room and back towards what Jim considered the “front” of the operation center all. The soldiers tossed a 4th and 5th grenade into the open server room and then urged Jim and Erin to head back. In retreat they had to shoot at several nerd like operators who tried to stop them. The remaining two blasts into the server room helped to destroy almost all of the remaining machines. More explosions were heard outside and more rifle fire intensified ahead of them. What the hell do we do now Erin wondered out loud. Jim lead the two men and his wife back to the center exit where they came from. In the open hallway they had no opposition. The soldiers recommended they flank the men with rifles on the opposite side of the room. Jim planted his brick of explosive material near the outside of the first cube set and watched the two soldiers head back across the room. He’d give them a lot of time before remotely detonating the explosives. While he and Erin waited near the entrance at least three of the geek squad, nerds or whatever you wanted to call them tried to make a break for it. Jim realized they’d seen the explosives and knew the room was going up in a ball of fire. Unfortunately they were as much of the problem as the hardware and maybe even more so. They could be put to use on almost any hardware, and in that moment Jim didn’t hesitate pulling the trigger of his Beretta and dropping the first instantly. The other two were in retreat, but Erin shot one just as he turned. Even with a center mass hit he managed to run back into the center cubicles.
The battle raged for a few more minutes. The two soldiers did manage to flank a small group of Russian soldiers and engage them. There were casualties on the Russian side but several soldiers managed to retreat and take operators with them out the side exit. They were on the complete opposite side of the center from where Jim and Erin waited.
At 7:53 pm, just 13 minutes after the initial rounds were fired, the two soldiers returned to Jim and Erin. They noted explosives were in place at the main entrance, and the four left in a hurry. Outside there was a battle raging. Rifle fire, snipers and even hand held rockets and grenades were going off left and right. Unfortunately it's where they had to go. Jim lead all but about 3 of those who made it into the building right back out the front door. To his elation Captain Mohr and the troops were holding the line. This enabled the invaders to rush back across the make shift crowd control line and head for the buses. They weren’t targeted as Soviet forces were concentrating on getting back into the building through other entrances.
The moment the group cleared the block from the main building Jim was able to give Captain Mohr a hand signal. Seconds later the building behind them imploded.
The internet is free Captain Mohr noted; let us get out of here.
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