After two bloody years of war…
… America has united for one common cause.
The global conspiracy to dismantle the country is finally exposed. The perpetrators of these heinous acts are being hunted down and dealt with by JSOC and the CIA Special Activities Division.
Knowing the war is lost, the Chinese begin to implement a complete scorched earth policy across large swaths of America. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are becoming complete wasteslands. A genocide of biblical proportions is taking place and the death toll climbs into the millions.
America responds with unparalled wrath as it unleashes a new superweapon.
The countries of Britain, Poland, Romania, Columbia, Japan, and India join America in waging total war on China.
The time for retribution is now. America will not be denied its pound of flesh.
If you love fast-paced action and political intrigue, you’ll love this fifth and final installment of the Falling Empires Series.
Get it now.
The Falling Empires Series is best read in order, as each book builds upon the previous work. The reading order is as listed:
Book One: Rigged
Book Two: Peacekeepers
Book Three: Invasion
Book Four: Vengeance
Book Five: Retribution
Release date: May 30, 2020
Publisher: Front Line Publishing Inc
Print pages: 535
Content advisory: No profanity or sexual content
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
“Is there anything we can do to stop them?” NSA Robert Grey asked, his glasses low on his nose as he looked up over their rims.
CIA Director Marcus Ryerson shook his head in frustration. “I don’t see how.”
“What are our options?” Grey pressed, unhappy with the response.
“We’re doing everything we can, Mr. Grey,” General Markus replied. “Some things are just outside our control. I’ve lost tens of thousands of soldiers, airmen, and Marines these last three weeks in Texas. The Chinese are fighting like fanatical maniacs; they dig in when any sane man would withdraw.”
The general was frustrated by the lack of progress on many of the fronts, but more than anything, he was frustrated with the losses they were continuing to sustain, which were very high. They were also losing equipment and aircraft at a prodigious rate—equipment they couldn’t readily replace.
“What’s the assessment of Houston so far?” asked President Sachs. “How bad is the city?”
Vanderbilt, a colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers who had just returned from Houston eight hours ago, spoke up. “When the Chinese first captured the city several months ago, they began dismantling our petroleum refineries, oil and natural gas import and export terminals and other pipeline equipment. At the same time, hundreds of their engineers started to dismantle much of Houston’s electrical grid. They removed transformers, routers, and switching stations from around the city and the local area; they took down the electrical lines and even ripped out many of the fiber-optic wires from the ground.”
While Colonel Vanderbilt was explaining this, he displayed several slides on a PowerPoint that showed what he was talking about. General Markus couldn’t help but feel that the sight was incredible. Images of dismantled petroleum facilities and electrical poles suddenly absent of any wiring almost seemed unreal.
Could that really be Houston? he wondered in awe.
“What are they doing with the equipment?” asked President Sachs. “I mean, if they wanted to destroy it, they would have just blown it up, but this was done in a very methodical manner. So clearly, destroying it was not their intent.”
“Our best guess right now is they took everything apart so it could be shipped back to China,” Colonel Vanderbilt answered. “This equipment is incredibly valuable and complex to make.”
“I can buy that explanation,” said NSA Grey. “It makes sense. But why are they systematically destroying Houston’s infrastructure? I mean, they’re stripping the city down to bare bones.”
“Sir, a month or two ago, it became clear the Chinese weren’t going to be able to hold Houston for much longer. When that became apparent, their engineers started destroying the water treatment facilities, power plants, and even the city’s water mains and sewers, knowing it would leave the city in complete and utter rubble. They’re leaving us with an extraordinary humanitarian crisis we’ll have to divert resources to, when we could really use those resources elsewhere.” He paused for a second before adding, “I’m afraid they’ve so thoroughly destroyed the infrastructure across much of Houston that I don’t believe it’s livable. It’s going to take a lot of effort to restore parts of the city so the residents can even return.”
For a moment, everyone sat there in stunned silence. They had all expected destruction in the occupied zones, but no one had anticipated this. When they’d liberated Santa Fe and Albuquerque, they hadn’t encountered this level of destruction.
This is a whole new playbook, thought General Markus.
“Do you think we’re going to see this kind of destruction in more of the major cities, or do you think this was a one-off because they wanted our petroleum equipment?” asked Grey. He shot the President a concerned look.
Colonel Vanderbilt lifted his chin up. “I suspect we’ll see this kind of damage in some of the more strategic cities but not all of them. The level of effort required to do what they did to Houston is something I’ve never seen before. It’s actually far more destructive than if they had just bombed everything. At least in the rubble, we’d be able to recover components and parts that could still work. In this case, they’ve simply removed everything. It’ll take years to rebuild what’s been destroyed—”
“What about the people?” the President interrupted. “Surely there were some survivors, people who got caught behind the lines. How many are there? How are they surviving given the destruction of the water, sewer and power services?”
General Pruitt, the Army Chief of Staff, answered this question. “The Chinese enforced a pretty tight curfew on the city, Mr. President. No one was allowed outside after dark. If you got caught, they shot you—no trial or arrest. But toward the end, they started shooting anyone they saw. People did their best to stay hidden when a Chinese patrol was nearby. Many of the residents that were armed continued to carry out guerrilla attacks against them; however, for every PLA soldier that was killed, they killed five civilians. By the time our forces had liberated Houston, things had become pretty medieval, sir. They’d run out of regular food supplies months ago. The civilians had been killing birds, pigeons, cats, dogs, anything you can think of for food. We even heard stories of cannibalism. Practically anyone we found alive was just skin and bones, sir.”
“My God. How could they have done this to our people?” Robert Grey asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
“It’s payback for us destroying the Three Gorges Dam,” Admiral Smith said under his breath.
“What?” Sachs inquired indignantly.
All eyes turned to Admiral Smith, whose face promptly turned red. “Sir, when we destroyed that dam, we wiped out a huge swath of their own electrical grid. It’s been estimated that more than ten million people were killed in the ensuing flood, and more than eighty million people lost their homes. I think what the Chinese did to Houston is some sort of revenge.”
“Maybe,” Sachs responded hotly. “But we made it clear to them what would happen if they attacked us. And they didn’t just attack—they used nuclear bombs on us! Four of them! They still haven’t stopped the practice of kidnapping our women or executing our citizens in the occupied zones, even after we began bombing their major cities. How many of our people have been killed in the occupied zones because we can’t liberate them fast enough? Too many. We need to find a way to convince the Chinese that this war has to end. They have to stop.”
General Markus was exasperated. “We’re already bombing their major cities, Mr. President,” he countered. “Heck, we’ve already practically demolished six of them. We’re attacking the enemy lines so hard right now we’re grinding both our armies into the dirt. I don’t know what more you think we can do to get them to capitulate, sir—not without placing some seriously drastic and, frankly, evil options on the table.”
Sachs paused for a moment before responding. “We’re not going nuclear. That’ll cause more harm than good. So let’s remove that from consideration. Besides, I think there are far better ways to bring them to heel than by using nukes. We went after the dam because it provided them with a tremendous amount of hydroelectricity. The secondary effect we got was the flooding and damage it caused to several critical manufacturing cities. How can we further turn the lights off in China? How can we further wreck their infrastructure and grind their country to a halt?”
While General Markus was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he had previously been the head of the US Air Force. Given his history, his first thought was logistics. “We go after their ability to feed their people and the energy resources needed to keep their country running,” he responded.
“And how do we do that?” asked the President. “How is what we’re currently doing different than what you’re proposing?”
“Right now, we have twelve B-2s and our lone B-21 carrying out the bombing campaigns in China. We need to shift their focus,” Markus explained. “Instead of bombing a city each day, we go after their food stores. We go after rail tunnels, bridges, pipelines, ports, and storage facilities. We hit everything that’s critical to the survival of the regime.”
Sachs held a hand up. “That’s fine. You can shift the focus of the B-2s. But I want our lone B-21 to continue its strategic bombing campaign. Make sure you’re rotating its target cities so it’s hitting locations all around the country, but keep it up.”
General Markus nodded.
“Also, when will the new B-21s start coming off the assembly line?” asked the President.
“We have four of them entering service in a couple of weeks,” Markus replied. “The crews are fully trained, and they’ll be ready for combat before the end of the month.” The general smiled at his own good news.
Sachs nodded his approval. “OK. When those four enter service, here’s how I want them used. Two of them are to focus their raids on Beijing—I want that capital turned to rubble for what they’ve done to our nation. The other three are to carry out random raids across the country. I want one bomber to hit a city, then the next day it should be pounded by the second bomber and on the third day, the third bomber should take down even more targets. Then they can move to the next city. That way, the residents of that province get a feel for what their country is doing to ours. I want them to pressure their government and clamor for an end to this godforsaken war.”
“Respectfully, strategic bombing isn’t enough, sir,” interjected CIA Director Ryerson. “We need to crack through their electronic firewall and show their people the truth about what started this war. They need to know what their leaders are doing and that this entire war has been predicated on a lie. If we can sow division among their own people, like they’ve attempted to do with us, then I think we can collapse the regime.”
General Pruitt nodded. “I agree, Mr. President. We have to make this a multidimensional war. If the Air Force can go after their food stores and the CIA and NSA can crack through their electronic firewall, we may be able to break the leaders’ hold on the country. If we can make that happen, it’ll end this war a hell of a lot faster than trying to slug it out with them like we are now.”
The President blew some air out through pursed lips. “All right,” he said. “I guess we need to figure a way to burn the Great Firewall of China to the ground.”
Vice President Powers toured the ruins of the Ford Motor plant with the company’s CEO, Todd Ripper. As he stepped over some of the rubble, Powers was amazed at the level of destruction surrounding him. It had been months since US forces had retaken Detroit, yet huge swaths of the city’s industrial heart still lay in ruins.
“When do you start construction of the new plant?” Powers asked.
“Next Monday,” Ripper answered with a smile. “Once we’ve cleared all the rubble away from the structure, we’re going to rebuild the plant from the ground up. Only this time, the plant will be designed to allow us to retool the factory from one model of vehicle to another as consumer preferences change and demand for each model fluctuates.”
“Really? How will that work?” asked the Vice President, his interest piqued.
“So right now, when we want to build, say, trucks, we manufacture them in one plant while we fabricate Mustangs in another plant,” Ripper began. “In the past, each plant had been configured to build a certain model of vehicle. While that worked in the past, it’s not efficient now. Consumer preferences change. The old plant structure didn’t allow us to be flexible and adjust. For example, when we stopped producing our small vehicles, we couldn’t just swap out the tools to have them produce trucks. The plant wasn’t designed to build trucks, so we ended up closing the whole plant to retool it. That costs money and time and there’s nothing to say the demand for trucks may not change in the interim period.”
“So I take it you found a way around that?”
“We did,” Ripper responded with a nod. “We’re essentially building a modular plant that’ll allow us to shift from one production line to another by simply swapping out a couple of modules within the plant.”
Todd motioned for one of his people to come forward. The woman handed him a tablet they had preloaded for this very discussion. “If I can, Mr. Vice President, I’ll show you exactly how this works,” he said, motioning for them to walk over to the hood of a nearby truck.
The two stood there with the tablet on the hood and watched a short video that showed Powers exactly what the CEO was talking about. Tools, equipment, and molds were all changed out almost seamlessly.
When the video ended, Ripper explained, “While the destruction of our plants here in Detroit has hurt our business and the city, it’s actually going to allow us to build a better, more efficient production facility. This new plant will help us produce more vehicles at a cheaper price than our old facilities.”
“That’s great, Todd,” Powers said with a smile. “How long will it take to get the facility up and running, and about how many people will this new megafactory you’re building employ?”
“We’ll be building this new factory complex in four phases. Each phase will be built simultaneously and employ a total of eight thousand construction workers. It’ll take about eighteen months to build. Once constructed, the entire factory will employ some eighteen thousand autoworkers. The community and support functions for the factory will create roughly one hundred and ten thousand additional jobs.”
Powers beamed with excitement. Despite the war raging in the southern half of the country, President Sachs was adamant about getting the industrial Midwest rebuilt. The country needed jobs, it needed an industrial base to rebuild its depleted military, and the country needed hope and healing. Rebuilding what had been lost and putting people back to work would accomplish all that.
“The President is going to be pleased, Todd. Is there anything we can do to help?”
“No. That’s OK, Mr. Vice President. The government’s been helping us with everything we’ve requested up to this point. You guys just focus on defeating the Chinese and restoring our country and we’ll handle rebuilding our factories,” Ripper replied with a smile.
The two talked a bit longer before they headed back to the airport. Powers was flying to Toledo, Ohio, next to meet with another group of industry leaders and CEOs to talk about the reconstruction efforts in Ohio. He’d spend the night there before traveling to Pennsylvania and New York. Once he completed a five-day tour through the Midwest and Northeast, he’d be able to report back to the President on the status of the reconstruction efforts a lot better than some briefer who hadn’t been on the ground to see things firsthand.
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