Friday, November 15, 2013

Tech Freak

 Technology can be a powerful tool, but it can be just as powerful a weakness

            The phone call came in just before midnight. 2nd Lt. David Paul Franken had, while sitting in his comfortable home in Bainbridge, been keeping an eye on the news since the riots had started and was expecting they’d call the Guard out. He wasn’t happy about the callout but his family could use the extra money.
             His duffle had been waiting for the inevitable next to the garage door on the other side of the kitchen. Mona, his wife, had the coffeemaker going despite the thermos being filled; this wasn’t good.
            What did he forget?
            Glancing at the calendar he saw that tomorrow, no, strike that, today was circled.
            oh damn …. anniversary ….

Walking over to where she sat, at the same Formica surfaced table that he had once knelt on to propose to her, he wrapped his arms around her, kissing her head and telling her how sorry he was. She didn’t say anything, just holding on to his arm like it was the only way for her to keep from drowning. They remained like that for a time, silent.
Moments passed before she spoke, her voice low so that it wouldn’t wake their children, “Is this going to be like Iraq?”
            “How can you be so certain? The radio stations are saying the riots aren’t like anything they’ve ever seen before.”

He shifts around so he can look her in the eyes, he’s shocked to see she’s been crying for a while, she must have been listening to the radio while he was getting ready. Wiping her tears away he says, “News reporters are nearly always saying that something is new, terrible or never before seen; they just don’t understand. Americans don’t usually riot for long, when they riot. A few canisters of CS, maybe some rubber bullets and they’ll decide there are better things to do.” He kisses her forehead as she holds tightly to him, “I don’t want you to go … something’s wrong. Something about this isn’t right …” Pushing her away slightly Lt. Franken looks at her, “Don’t worry baby, besides, I’ll be commanding that new riot control cannon, the LRAD and they won’t be able to get anywhere near me. Especially since the major had them mounted on a few of our Abrams tanks instead of the pickup trucks they’d been using.” The young lieutenant gives his wife one last, long kiss before grabbing his duffle and heading out to the car.
        As he’s loading his gear into the trunk he hears his wife, inside the kitchen of their three bedroom house, crying as if her heart were breaking. A chill runs down his spine but he can’t find any logical reason to pay heed to it.
            So he ignores it ….

 He gets that same chill as he backs out of the garage and points his car towards the MP unit he belongs to, on East Washington Road, over in Chagrin Falls.

During the drive out Lt. Franken thinks about what he’d seen in the footage they’d released of the riots. His wife had been far more correct than she knew; there was a lot about these riots which didn’t make any sense. To begin with there weren’t any demands; no statement of what they were rioting for, or against. Then there was the reaction of the crowds to the measures that local enforcement had used, they’d had no reaction. It didn’t matter what was thrown at them, CS, pepper spray, water cannons, flash/bangs and even rubber bullets; the crowds kept surging forward against the police line. The other disturbing fact he saw, but something that the media seemed to be trying to keep under wraps, was that there were times when the rioters appeared to be attacking the police and sheriffs as soon as they could reach them. Whenever they came close to showing an attack happening, the cameras seemed to do a quick cut to some other action further down the line or even go to an interview with a police official or politician.

It wasn’t making much sense

But that wasn’t even the worst thing he’d noticed

The eyes of some of the rioters

He’d stopped the footage several times while he watched events unfolding on his computer, attempting to verify or deny what he thought he was seeing. Even after several hours of trying to get it nailed down with the forensic software he had on the computer he wasn’t certain enough to swear to what he thought he’d seen.

             The eyes of some of the rioters seemed to be covered by severe cataracts.

 On the off chance it could be footage that had been monkeyed with by some computer SFX wiz’ he’d checked the histogram of the video; it was clean. The video only had one layer, no special effects were indicated. 

If this was true, then how the hell were they able to see?

His mother, god rest her soul, had wound up with cataracts during the last years of her life. She’d been upbeat and jovial for the three years prior to that happening, despite the pain and the problems brought on by the cancer treatments. She’d never complained once or let anyone catch her in a depressed state, or even a bad mood, for nearly the complete first two years of her fight against her ‘dread enemy.’

Until the third year when she began to lose her sight

She’d been a painter, an artist, for her whole life. Sight and the interpretation of the things she’d seen were the touchstone of her existence. A master of the realism school of painting and a photographer, she was nearly the equal of Ansel Adams, or Thomas Kinkade. His mother had lived for the sights her eyes could bring to her; for her to record her interpretations of what her eyes brought to her and it was all for the simple passion of doing it. A creditable artist in both mediums she had made a respectable living by the doing of it, but the money was secondary.

The cataracts had made a bitter, sullen, recluse of her.

He’d learned a lot about cataracts as the result of his attempts to fight the disease for her.

There was no way that anyone could see well enough to riot with what appeared to be advanced stage cataracts on their eyes.

So how were they able to riot?

Many thoughts ran through his mind as he made the forty five minute drive to the armory. None of what he’d seen, none of what he knew, seemed to apply this night and it worried him. At the assembly area troops had already begun loading the armored vehicles onto the flatbeds for transport to the riot scene. They were a good bunch of men and you could see it wasn’t their first time for this sort of action. M-113’s with their M240/B SAW’s had already been loaded and were in the process of being chained down. The machine guns were strictly for effect; as long as the troops followed protocol there shouldn’t be any need for them. Supply vehicles and troop transports led the convoy; they’d be proceeding directly to the assembly area. Walking to the back of the line he found that his driver had lined up the Abrams to load and needed only one of the ground guides to finish the job.
SSgt. Williamson could probably have loaded and chained the vehicle in his sleep, he’d mustered out so many times. The man was well experienced with many tours in the Regular Army to his credit.
The Lieutenant tossed his duffle onto the side of the tank; climbing up easily. SSgt. Williamson waved to him lazily, continuing to smoke his cigarette as the younger man loaded and stowed his gear. Standing beside the turret the Lieutenant began his inspection of the LRAD. It nearly looked as though the unit had been meant to be there, the main gun had been removed and the LRAD mounted in its place, along with a remote surveillance camera. Not only could the operator see what was going on with the tank buttoned up, the commanders directing the action back in the Tactical Operations Center could share the same view.

“Does the Screamer pass inspection, sir?”

So the Sergeant already had a nickname for the boxy looking device, guess that made his acceptance of it official. The Lieutenant grins as he climbs into the Tank Commander’s hatch and begins running the diagnostic routines on the panel inside the hatch, “Well, it looks good so far …” he throws a few more switches and notes the computer’s response before powering everything back down again, “… but we won’t really know anything until we fire this baby up and let fly on those rioters.” The Sergeant chuckles, “Ain’t that the truth of it, L-T, ain’t that the truth of it …” The two men sit there, quietly enjoying each others’ company until the call comes down the line for the officers to report for their briefing. The Sergeant grins as the Lieutenant clambers down and says, “I wouldn’t be in so much of a hurry sir, they might think you’re a junior officer or something if you come running into the briefing …” and he begins laughing raucously. Lt. Franken thinks about it for a moment, then straightens his cap saying, “You know Sarge, I think you may have a point there …” and walks off. As soon as he clears the line he can hear the Abrams firing up its diesel and revving before it drops back down to idle, hmmmm, the ground guide and transport crew must have shown up.
             The briefing went pretty much the same as any other briefing for civil unrest except that the Colonel made particular mention that they weren’t to hesitate if it appeared the SAW’s were needed. After the briefing, all fifteen minutes of it, Lt. Franken approached the Colonel and attempted to let him know what he had thought he’d seen on the news reports. Before he’d even really begun to voice his concerns on the subject, the Colonel cut him off with a dismissive wave of his hand and a comment about the lieutenant letting the sight of “miscreants with special effects contacts” in a volatile situation get to him. Lt. Franken, rather than become argumentative about it, simply saluted the senior officer and proceeded out to the troop transport with the rest of the men.
             The L-T is so absorbed in his own thoughts and the tacit refusal of his commander to discuss the matter, that he doesn’t see the fear in his colonel’s eyes as he leaves the room.
              Contrary to depictions in the movies, the ride out to a trouble spot doesn’t necessarily consist of a lot of macho talk with the veterans telling the greenhorns all manner of nonsense. Among a few who are accustomed to working together you might get that; if they know one of the greenhorns he might get the business but it nearly always gets quieter as you get closer. Unnecessary chatter goes out the window nearly completely as you close on the assembly area. Every one is listening, every one strains to hear what he can above the roar of the diesel. Everyone, absolutely everyone, wants all the information they can get before they step off the truck and onto the firing line. What the movies show you is a lie, the machismo chatter, the rough jokes, are all things done in the comfort of a secured area. Predominant during an insertion is silence, because chatter can block out the cues you get from the surrounding area, chatter blocks out the cues you get from nature, herself.

Chatter … cuts you off from information you might need …

Information is life

A lack of information is death

No soldier, anywhere, wants to die

A soldier’s mission, according to General Patton, is to make the other dumb son of a bitch die for his cause …

So the men ride in silence
            A good part of the ride takes them down I-480 westbound; by the time they get off the interstate and start gearing down for the ride through town a large knot sits in the stomach of each and every one of the men. For the old hands this is a welcome feeling, they know as soon as they step off the truck they’ll be ready. The first timers, the ‘cruits, only know they aren’t real happy and some of them are wishing they hadn’t eaten before boarding the transports.
               The rally point is a construction supply place on Brookpark road. It’s the only area close to the scene of the action that’s large enough to handle the vehicles coming in. When they get there they can see their vehicles still on board the transports, waiting to be offloaded. What none of the men have anticipated is what they hear on arrival.

Near silence greets them

There is none of the usual noise you’d hear at a riot. Instead, off in the distance, they can hear occasional shouts, shots being fired and sometimes even screams. Other than that there is a strange, low pitched moaning and a weird sort of rubbing sound. Nearly what you might expect from thousands of children sliding their feet across pavement in an effort to produce noise. As they prepared their weapons, their riot gear and unloaded their vehicles the men looked at each other uneasily. The officers and non-comm’s circulated among them. Answering questions, making jokes; doing anything they can think of to keep their men’s nerves under control.
The problem is that all the little cues saying that this isn’t a normal crowd control operation have come to dominate the minds of all involved and none of them yet believe what they were told about this situation.
             Not the officers, not the sergeants; not even the lowest private among them were so unwise as to still believe what they’d been told at their briefing.
            Privately, many of them wonder if they’ve finally, actually, inserted their most personal male parts into the meat grinder, as has been so often joked, and pushed the ‘on’ switch.
After the last vehicle has been unloaded and all the vehicles are staged, their captain sounds twice on his whistle, summoning the men to gather around him. The non-comm’s float through the area sweeping the stragglers in to where he waits; even the Captain, despite his well known mania for timeliness, was unwilling to hurry on to this assignment. As soon as the men are gathered around him, the captain begins …

“Listen up … as you all know, we’ve got a bunch of rioters who think they’re a bunch of badasses, using special effects makeup, high tech protective gear and a lot of other bullshit to bluff the local cops into thinking they’re fighting some sort of Saturday night movie monsters …” he pauses for a moment, “… but what they aren’t expecting, what they can’t possibly know, is that we’re an even bigger, badder, more effective bunch of monsters, AM I RIGHT?” the men around him give up a rousing cheer, “… The scene of the action, ladies, is about a mile …. about one and a half klicks for you veterans … up the road from here … we will roll in, we will take control of the situation and we will dominate the rioters until they’re all cuffed, stuffed and loaded, IS THAT CLEAR?” The men cheer once more, the Captain’s words are infectious, reassuring, the kind of talk they’re accustomed to hearing before moving in to take over from local law enforcement. He has a record of wins that would be the envy of any police chief and his bravado gives them the feeling that he’s right, that this is just another bunch of punks trying to run a con on them. He holds his hands up and they fall silent once again, “OK, the line of skirmish here is a bit long but it’s not undoable as long as we use the locals to support our line, try to get one or two in between each of you as we move in to reinforce them. M113’s will act as anchors on either end of the line and the Abrams, with their bright and shiny new toys will be on station every one thousand feet, or so. Our line will be a mile long, give or take but we’re going to force them back and into a bottleneck as soon as we’re positioned …” he looks at Lt. Franken, “… Lieutenant, your LRAD’s will sweep down the line before the main group, you’re going to soften them up for us because as you move to take your positions, your LRAD’s will sweep the line with their cannons …” he looks the lieutenant straight in the eye, “… I want the highest safe setting you’ve got … get your beams on them ASAP and keep them cooking while we give the boys in blue a break from the shit they’ve had to put up with ….” The Captain surveys the men gathered around him before looking back at the Lieutenant, “Let’s mount up and move out, LRAD’s on point and let’s see those rioters cooked!” Moving at a fast trot the young officer and his men mounted up on their spanking new riot control vehicles, preparing to give relief to the beleaguered police officers trying to restrain the crowds surging against their lines.
                The modified Abrams tanks, now with the nomenclature Riot Control Vehicle or RCV, which were being deployed were prototype vehicles. They were first of their kind; being a radical departure from the M113 APC’s or MWRAPS formerly used by the MP’s for crowd control. Abrams tanks were chosen solely for the purpose of utilizing their bulk to counter-balance the barriers mounted to the front of the vehicles and to provide a stable platform for the massive three hundred fifty pound sound units mounted on the turrets. Slightly beneath the twin speaker arrays of the LRAD’s was a camera unit. The cameras were acoustically isolated from the LRAD by means of what the movie industry once called a ‘blimp’. The men crewing the riot control vehicles took one look at the camera unit mounted below the speakers and came up with a far more prosaic name for the assemblage.
One which we need not dwell on ….

The cameras, as previously mentioned, allowed both the tank commander and the officers at the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) to see the effects of the cannon on the rioters in addition to providing a second set of ‘eyes’ to whatever takes place at an incident.
Riot barriers mounted to the front of the tanks were meant to work with the standard K-rails being used for many purposes by cities and corporations everywhere. To look at one from the front you wouldn’t see much difference between the barrier and the average K-rail except that the K-rail is constructed from concrete and the barrier itself is crafted from a titanium/steel alloy. There are the usual methods for connecting the barrier to two K-rails, but they’re left with a two inch gap on either side of the barrier to allow for the barrier to be disconnected by simply raising it with the bulldozer style hydraulics.

Last but far from being the least of the modifications, was what the engineers did to the turret to assist with crowd control. The turret’s drive was equipped with a motion control box very similar to what they used on CNC metal working machines. The tank commander had the capability to automatically sweep a crowd with the LRAD if he should decide it was needed. Once the program was set in motion it would continue until either the commander interrupted the cycle or the Abrams’ power system quit.

The only other riot control equipment on board was the usual CS dispersal unit. The engineers had considered it an archaic response, so great was their faith in the vehicle they’d created but they’d included the device due to the insistence of the advisers from the military police companies whom they’d hoped would purchase the units. The engineers had conceded only after they were threatened with having the contracts withdrawn.    
               These technological behemoths were the hope of the governor who’d dispatched them to the riot to get order restored before the morning rush hour began. Things had not been going well for the police at the scene. Between the reports of what the officers saw, the raw video footage which was not ever going to be seen by any civilian and the reports beginning to drift in from the hospitals; the governor was rightfully concerned that even these marvels of riot control technology might not be enough.
They were, however, the best hope anyone had at the moment.
              So, unknown to the men who were on their way to the riot which was causing upset all the way up to POTUS, everything seen by their cameras was being routed from their TOC, to the NSA and from there to every ranking politician at the federal level.
Prayer was suddenly thought to be very fashionable at the federal level once again.
              Lt. Franken, SSgt. Williamson and their men, however, were blissfully unaware of any of this; their only concern was to bring relief to the officers who currently stood the line.
            Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them
            Cannon in front of them, volley’d and thunder’d
            Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred

Some military traditions don’t change

It’s a damned shame that they don’t
         As the tank commanders mounted up the drivers began running through their check lists, guaranteeing their machines would function as ordered. Revving the engines while listening to the heartbeat of the mammoth beasts which served and protected them; running the hydraulics through their range of motion, extending and retracting the riot barrier; tilting it until it was fully against the tank’s hull as additional protection against theoretical anti-armor munitions which, incidentally, was also the storage position for the alloy plate. Until finally all five of the drivers waited for instructions from the tank commanders in their turrets.
             While the drivers were engaged in their pre-mission checks the tank commanders were no less busy, powering up the LRAD units; verifying that the intricate systems they were about to unleash in a live situation for the first time all read in the green. Running checks on the IVRS and chatting with the Commo Section in the TOC about how well the video feed was going through; making last minute adjustments to their comm-links and asking Tactical if their beacons were reading correctly. Questions were asked; then answered and last minute adjustments were made on both sides.
             By the time the radios at last became silent, the Captain was in the TOC watching the multiple feeds from the Riot Control Vehicles’ cameras; watching their positions on the situation map displayed on the main plasma screen mounted directly above their separate screens and listening to their chatter on the link between the IVRS and the TOC. Despite his feeling of uneasiness he tapped the button on his headset, linking him to his men and gave the order, “Move’em out …”
               The gigantic armored vehicle containing SSgt. Williamson and Lt. Franken smoothly moved forward, turning right onto Brookpark road and proceeding west at a steady pace. The LRAD was warmed up and showing green on all boards. Half murmuring to himself Lt. Franken absently toggled the switch on his headset, “All RCV’s report …” A soft murmur as the tank commanders gave the status of their vehicles and weaponry, he replies, “Roger that Green Team … light up the LRAD’s, give me two niner zero zero hertz at one four eight delta bravo, copy?”  Once again the headset channels the soft murmurs of assent. Bringing up the local map on his console he studied it intently for a few moments then keys the mike again, “On my mark we’re going to button up all RCV’s until we have the area secured, copy?” Another wave of assent, “Keep me updated people, transmit anything you see that you think I might need to know about and ask questions about anything you aren’t sure about, copy?”
              The men conn’ing the RCV’s give their consent; as they do so the tanks roll on up to West 130th street, the lieutenant is engrossed in checking the view from each of the cameras under his command so SSgt. Williamson quietly keys the IVRS saying, “Mark …” clangs can be heard down the line as each of the vehicles secures their hatches. Keying the internal channel the lieutenant says, “Thank you Sergeant …” Smiling the older man responds, “It’s my job to watch out for you sir, that and help you take care of the men ….” The two men continue their ride in silence, no words are necessary because the pair have been working together for over three years. Lt. Franken has learned in that time that despite his having graduated from The Point, he really didn’t know that much; he’d come close to losing the gold colored bar on his lapel completely, a couple of times and if it hadn’t been for the intercession of SSgt. Williamson he might have found himself demoted the full way down the line.
All the way down to buck private.
               Coming up on the commercial bus company at the edge of the riot, SSgt. Williamson quietly gave the order for the tanks to hold on station; then he keyed the internal system and said, “Sir, I think you need to take a look at this …” Without a word the L-T brought the camera system on his main screen; then zooming in on the riot in front of them. A quiet “What the …” escaped his lips before he became absorbed in studying the scene before him.
The full length of the police line visible from his vantage point was chillingly quiet. Officers looked at each other and then back to the mob massed before them uncertainly. There was a certain amount of pushing against the riot shields which the officers held in  position but it was largely as a result of the crowd being pushed forward from the back; not from any active resistance by the rioters.
                The officers were confused, this wasn’t what they’d come to expect and their confusion about what to do next was clearly written on their faces.

The rioters, almost appeared to be asleep
        This was a massive change from the intel’ they’d received and required gathering new intelligence.
               “Stand down on the LRAD’s … be ready to use them on my order but do not, I say again, do not engage without a direct order from me …” quiet assent again traveled through the headset. Then another instruction on the same channel, “SSgt. Williamson, take me to their operations center, all other units take your positions and hold until you receive further instructions …”
            “Shouldn’t we be giving the order to disperse?”
            “Not until we find out just exactly what’s going on …”
             “Yes sir …”
             “Proceed with my orders, now …..”

Moving at a dead slow pace the armored giants take their places along the riot line. At each location they carefully move into position; emplacing themselves precisely thanks to the GPS beacons on each vehicle and the coordination by their TOC control team. The officers cautiously opened spaces between themselves as the behemoths move in to give them what protection they can. The rioters try, uncertainly, to insert themselves into the space left vacant by the officers only to find themselves being gently forced back by the riot shields attached to each of the vehicles. No resistance is offered which further adds to the confusion on the part of all the law enforcement personnel gathered there, not one of the officers can take their eyes off the rioters on the other side of the skirmish line. Their behavior has been so atypical and bizarre that no one is sure what to expect next.
               Lt. Franken is as uncertain as anyone standing the line as he dismounts then makes his way into the operations center searching for the officer in charge. It doesn’t take long, the PD command center is laid out pretty much the same as his own command’s TOC. The Officer in Charge is easy enough to pick out, he’s clearly a veteran of many years and is dressed in SWAT tactical gear. The important distinction is that unlike some officers who go straight from college, to the academy and immediately fasten rank to their lapels, his equipment is worn; well used. The deference given him by the other officers would have been sufficient clue by itself but his appearance cinched it.

His weariness at the present situation is also evident

The man is slouched back in the ‘command chair’ studying the video feed of the situation outside while the cameras pan back and forth but the situation remains the same across the entire line.

You could take a slice of the scene from any point of the line and it would be indistinguishable from the rest.

Quick glances at his uniform reveal that he’s a captain and his name is Sanderson, Lt. Franken approaches him, “Captain?” Cpt. Sanderson looks up then studies his uniform, the man’s voice is a low growl, “You seen action before, Lieutenant?”
            “Two deployments, sir …”
             “How come you’re only a butter bar?”

Wincing, Lt. Franken replies, “Conflicts between duty and good judgment sir ….” Cpt. Sanderson studies him a bit longer, “Good judgment won, I take it?”
             “Some folks might say that sir …”

Cpt. Sanderson returns to his study of the video screen before him, motioning at it and he asks, “So what do you think of what we’ve got here?”

Turning to view the screen for himself, Lt. Franken watches as it completes two slow traverses before answering.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before sir, I’ve no idea what they might have in mind …” turning back to the senior officer, “… did they make any demands? Is there any clear cut reason for the riot to have started to begin with?”

Cpt. Sanderson gazed at him steadily as he said, “No sir, there is not … as a matter of fact, this whole thing seems to have started as some sort of brawl at a local restaurant. The odd thing is that most of the injured weren’t hit, kicked, stabbed or shot; they were bitten.” The lieutenant stared at him incredulous, not quite understanding, “Bitten?”

Lt. Franken gave the matter some more thought before asking, “… and it went from just a few people to …” he gestures at the screen, “… this, in how long?”

Reaching for the coffee sitting on the map table the captain tells him, “It didn’t take long, really, the whole fight started when three or four drunks were refused service at the restaurant because they were, well …” he sips the coffee, “… drunk …” settling back into his chair he resumes eye contact with the younger man, “… the waitress called us as soon as they were clear of the door. That’s their protocol … when she saw what was going on outside though, she called us back and told us that we’d better get there fast and bring ambulances too …” he took another sip of the coffee as he watched for the younger man’s reaction, “… when the officers arrived, it looked like something from one of Romero’s movies, one of the creeps was trying to gnaw on the throat of a drunk. Another drunk already had part of his throat ripped up but he was lucky, his buddy was a paramedic and had one of those blood clot things, he’d slapped it on the guys throat and was trying to call his unit for the pickup …” Sipping more of the coffee the captain continued, “… so we’ve got the drunks with their throats ripped out, or with people trying to rip their throats out. The would be killers trying to either rip some throat or mob the drunks to rip their throats out and some very scared witnesses inside an all night restaurant. Then the boys in blue roll up, sirens blaring and jump out of their cruisers, yelling orders … so what do you think happens next?”
           “What do you think happens next? Guns are drawn and the officers are shouting orders …”

The lieutenant shrugs, “Normally I’d expect for the attackers to stand down and lie down on the ground … but I’m getting the feeling they got something else.”

Nodding the captain said, “… and you’d be absolutely right, what they got was for the assailants to forget all about the drunks, and try to attack them … the officers, of course, taz’ed them in an effort to get compliance but the freaks didn’t so much as flinch.” He stared at the camera feed, “… then one of the officers opened fire on them; emptying his mag’, reloading and again firing until his weapon was empty …” he continued to stare at the screen. After a few moments Lt. Franken asked him, “Did he get the perp?”
Absently the captain responds, “Oooooh yeah, he got ‘em alright …”
            “How badly were the perp’s injured?”
            “There were two of them …”
            “How bad?”

“He nailed them both in the chest, seventeen rounds in each one, center of mass, real easy to count all the holes, real easy …” the captain’s eyes never left the monitor as he fell silent once more.

“Sir, how’s your officer handling the shooting? I understand a lot of times it can be very stressful …” The captain’s reply was not quite audible …. Lt. Franken cleared his throat, 

“Sir? I’m sorry but I didn’t quite catch your answer …”
            “I guess you could say he’s handling it OK …”
            “I’m glad to hear that sir, what about the families of the perp’s?”
            “Oh, they’re OK, just a little confused …”
            “What’s to be confused about?”
           “About how two grown, normal, healthy men can go from being good family men who go to church every week; to being throat chewing psychopaths bent on killing anyone in their path …. and all in less than twenty four hours …”


            “Then there’s the other thing that’s confusing everybody …”
            “… what else could there be?”

“Come with me …” the captain rose from his chair and the lieutenant followed him; as they passed through the tent’s entrance the cold air hit Lt. Franken with a refreshing sharpness. He was glad for it, the weirdness of the present situation was beginning to get to him. He’d arrived on the scene with the impression he knew exactly what was going on, now Lt. Franken wasn’t that certain he knew anything at all. The cold reminded him of reality, that some things just don’t change, you shoot a man in the chest, he goes down.

You shoot him a bunch of times he goes down quicker, always.

Seventeen times was a bit much, but given what the rookie saw he could sure understand expending that much ammo. It had to be pretty tough for a virgin to go out on a call like that and find himself staring into the face of madness.
            The captain hadn’t said, but it had to be a rookie, right?

The two men walked around to the back of the command center and stood beside a large paddy wagon. The captain grasped the handle and looked at the lieutenant for a moment then said, “This is what the families, and the rest of us find so baffling …” then pulled the door open.

There were four men in the wagon

Well, they looked like men, anyway …
              Their clothing was disheveled but none of them appeared to notice. The moment the outer door of the wagon opened the four lunged at the door, eyes blank; drooling while reaching for the two men on the other side of the bars as if their lives depended on it. Lt. Franken stepped back involuntarily, his hand covering the Beretta at his side without any thought on his part. They made an odd rasping shriek as they tried to force their way through the bars. Lt. Franken felt a hand cover his as soon as it hit the Beretta; his head whipped around to see who it was, the captain stood there with a grim expression on his face as he pinned the soldier’s gun hand down, “You won’t need that, son … they’ve tried to get through those bars every time the door’s been opened. They don’t want and won’t accept any food or drink we put in there with them. It’s like they don’t see it at all.” He looks back at the paddy wagon, with the prisoners pushing against the bars, “… the only thing they seem to respond to is human noise and as soon as we caught on to that and ordered silence on the line, they quit trying to fight us …” looking back at the lieutenant again, “… they tell me these super high tech cannons you boys have will do the job, force them back to someplace we can contain them and let us gain control of them …” he slams the door shut on the foursome and steps forward, as much in the face of the lieutenant as any drill instructor has ever been, “They say these things will even drive animals back into their pens, so … tell me this son … will those things do the job? Will they keep my men alive and help us protect our citizens?”

Without hesitation Lt. Franken snaps out, “Yes sir, without a doubt …”

Captain Sanderson stood there a moment longer then turned away, as he walked back into his command center he called back over his shoulder, “Then let’s get this show moving lieutenant, I want my people to be able to eat breakfast knowing they did a good night’s work …” and then he vanished into the command center.
             Lt. Franken stood there for a moment, trying to get his bearings; then walked off to his RCV, making calculations and estimates as he walked.
             His walk back to the RCV is uneventful, but thought filled, the RCV is now parked in position at the center of the line; SSgt. Williamson is sitting on the edge of the driver’s hatch as the lieutenant walks up. Both men remain silent while the L-T mounts the great beast; by the time the tank commander has regained his post the driver has put his headset back on. There’s a moments silence before the internal comm system kicks on; as usual, the SSgt is waiting for his officer when the mike is keyed.
            “What’s it look like out there?”
            “It’s the damn quietest riot I’ve ever seen …”
            “How are the local’s handling it?”

The silence is notable before the SSgt speaks again, “They’re as scared a bunch as I’ve ever seen sir, and it’s not like most of them don’t have a fair amount of experience at this sort of thing …” another pause, “… they’re seeing something they’ve never seen before, and frankly sir, neither have I …” The lieutenant bites his lip pensively then keys the IVRS, “ Green Team this is Green Team Actual, we’re going to handle this one a bit differently than normal …” with that advisory he begins to explain the part of what he’d learned from Captain Sanderson that they need to know; then concluding with, “… and since that’s the case, we’re going to open the LRAD’s on them with no warning. We’ll also ramp up the decibels to two zero zero, copy?” Murmured assent comes down the line, “On my mark, bring the LRAD’s on line, three, two, one, mark …” The massive sound cannons begin their muted whine as the circuits driving them warm up, in a few moments the green ‘ready’ light comes on. The lieutenant secures his hatch then waits a few more moments to allow for all units to have reached the same stage before giving the next order, “Set LRAD controls to ‘synched’ …” this meant that the action of the turrets would be controlled from his turret. The MP’s and police holding the line outside the RCV’s were then instructed, “All support personnel, set riot shields and take position on my mark, three, two, one, mark” with that instruction the entire riot line dropped back one step, bracing their shields on the ground with their weapons ready behind the shield. They also drop their heads below the edge of the assembled shields. This will give them additional protection from the effects of the sound cannons preparing to launch their assault against the force assembled on the opposite side of those same shields.
             If the assembled mob had any idea of what their actions meant, they gave no reaction, other than to slowly drift forward into the now vacant space.
             With the sound cannons now on line, Lt. Franken gave the order, “Fire!” and with that order sound poured from the massive speakers and the turrets began a synchronized dance with the outer four vehicles performing synchronized sweeps across the immense crowd arrayed before them. The command car was performing slightly differently being out of synch with both the right and left flank and concentrating most of its attack on the center of the mob.

The attention given to this seminal event was record breaking, ranging from the grizzled, road weary sergeant in the police command post, to the captain  apprehensively taking in the view  from each RCV’s cameras and all the way up the chain of command to POTUS herself.

Right then, at that moment, every man jack of them was engrossed in prayer; hoping that these new riot control systems would live up to what their creators had claimed they would. Every test, every round of eliminations had shown these new weapons to be effective on nearly every living thing they’d ever been tried against. It didn’t matter what species it was, the LRAD had driven it back to whatever area the controllers had designated for holding.

This was to be the greatest victory of this riot control system

But there was one, small problem

An unprecedented difficulty

Their new, high tech weapons system had only been tried against living organisms …

This, was an unprecedented opponent

The living dead
              As the invisible beams swept across the crowd slow changes began to take place. Initially they became restless, looking around and seemingly trying to detect the source of their irritation. The point of origin of the sound they were hearing. The people observing the reaction were dumbfounded, it had not been their experience that anything alive would merely look around when hit by the sonic beam. Compliance had been easily gained with settings only half of what they were presently using; orders came down from the very top, increase the power to the beams and remove any safeties that would prevent all available power from being used.

Lieutenant Franken was far ahead of them though, inside the modified Abrams tank he was seeing what Captain Sanderson had hinted that he might; he was already disabling the safeties, “All units, all units, disable safety interlocks and take your outputs to maximum. I say again, disable safety interlocks and take all outputs to maximum.” Soft voices confirming his instruction came back through his headset just moments before his own captain’s voice came in on the channel directing him to proceed with that very instruction. Inside each of the specialized vehicles his instructions were being followed, and in seconds all five of the RCV’s were howling their fury at the crowd in front of them.

Huddled behind their riot shields the military and civilian police officers gave thanks for the protection offered by the counter wave earmuffs they’d each been supplied with. Hunkered down inside their 113 personnel carriers the infantrymen were equally thankful. None of them, not even one, could have anticipated what was about to happen.

Experience, training and political expedience were the keys to the judgments being made about how to handle the apparent riot in front of them. The fact of atypical behavior was not a factor in their decision, the powers that be, who were directing the operations were under the impression that this was all theatre; being played out on a grand scale with the assistance of high tech toys. The ability to conceive of a change of such significance was beyond their ability.

Nothing … had changed since the charge of the light brigade.

        At no point did the reaction of the crowd come even a little bit close to what the LRAD’s designers had anticipated. At no point did any of their models, tests, or even experiences parallel what was about to happen, to any degree. When the sonic beams first raked across the crowd they appeared confused, not discomfited or in any degree of pain, merely confused. Then their heads began to swivel around seeking out the source of the sound. Eventually they found the source of the sounds. They discovered the existence of the LRAD’s and the Abrams tanks the devices had been mounted on. Slowly the assembled thousands became focused on the five tanks, the two armored personnel carriers and the mere hundreds of police and military personnel arrayed against them. One by one the rioters began to howl their own protest, screaming their rage at the forces they’d only just become aware of …. and that was when all hell broke loose.
            To those watching things seemed to change suddenly; one moment the crowd seemed docile, nothing more than an inconvenience to be driven back to their homes before breakfast and then in the merest tick of a clock they became a ravening horde intent on the destruction of everything before them.

In less than a second the massed wall of humanity inundated the men and women sworn to defend their city. Some were trampled before being stripped of their armor and bitten to death, others managed to get off a few rounds from their weapons before having their throats ripped out by teeth yearning for the blood and flesh under the armor.

For the first few moments of the assault the crews of the armored fortresses were stunned into inaction by the sudden change and ferocity shown by the attackers. Lt. Franken was one of the first to regain his equilibrium, slamming his hand against the button controlling the CS gas as he shouted into his headset, “Gas them! Gas them! Gas them! Full dispersal of riot agents immediately!” He knew that the troops outside the armored vehicles wouldn’t have a chance to mask up but he was counting on their training to buy them the time they needed. Civilians wouldn’t have that training and the gas should shut them down immediately. Clouds of smoke billowed out from each of the tanks and obscured any chance of seeing what could be happening to the troops on the line.

At video display terminals across the country, governmental leaders sat at the edge of their seats, holding their breath; hoping against all evidence they’d seen to this point that the riot control gas would work as the men using hoped it would.

The problem is, that riot control agents were meant to be used against people with functional nervous systems.

They weren’t engineered to be used against the dead
              As the smoke drifted from the scene it was very clear that things had gotten even worse. The Abrams tanks were completely covered with people working feverishly to wrest the LRAD units from the turrets. Whole sections of the line had been torn apart and what could be seen of the police command center was being dismantled by waves of humans trying to get inside. Small groups of people could be seen attempting to maintain cohesion as they came under assault by the mass of attackers. The crews of the 113’s had unbuttoned and attempted to bring down the numbers of the undead now engaged in their killing frenzy with their SAWs. Not even sweeping the crowds with 7.62 death was enough to stop them, as a matter of fact it didn’t slow them even the slightest bit and the crews had been torn from the personnel carriers and ripped to shreds.
           Inside the turret of the command car Lt. Franken was frozen by the scene, nothing they’d thrown at these people had made any difference and the channel linking him to his own commanders was silent, whether from the antenna being ripped from the vehicle or … something else … he didn’t even want to guess. He was in a quandary, they had the best equipment, state of the art, the best troops possible and police officers with tactical gear that knew no equal in the free world.

But they were being decimated by a force armed with nothing more than bare hands and teeth …

So he sat there frozen by the horror and ferocity of the scene before him, right up until the camera was disconnected; rendering his only contact with the outside world the IVRS and the turret’s periscope. As he sat there, protected by the steel cocoon around him a voice came over the IVRS. A voice with screaming and weapons fire as it’s background, a voice of relative calm within the sea of insanity.
             “Lieutenant …”

He stared unbelieving at his microphone …..
             “Lieutenant, are you still there?”

Dully, he replies, “Yes ….”
            “Have you got any resources left, son?”
            “No sir ….”
            “Then run them over with the armor, run the bastards the fuck …” then the headset went dead.

A moment passed and then he keyed the microphone again, “ All units, all units, if you can hear me … if you’ve nothing else … begin rolling on the bastards, I say again, if you have nothing else left, roll the bastards into the ground, move, move move!” He switched to the internals but the Abrams was already moving, he could almost see the Staff Sergeant grinning, “ ‘bout damned time you woke up, sir …” the immense vehicle swung in a neutral pivot, “… let’s get some …” 
              Slowly, ponderously, the massive vehicle put its treads into motion. Rolling forward after the riot barrier was raised and retracted into place. There were slight hesitations that caused the hydraulics to whine slightly as ‘obstructions’ were encountered; then summarily crushed under the alloyed steel plate. Soon, however, the Abrams was freed of obstacles and moving.
               As it swung past the former riot line Lt. Franken became concerned with how little he could see of what was going on outside. They were in a close combat situation but there was no way to discern who the ‘bad guys’ were or how to find their own troops. Clicking over to the internal intercom system again he asked his driver, “Williamson, how the hell do we keep from running over our own men?” Brief laughter answered him before the sergeant responded, and the tracks swung in another neutral pivot … swerving noticeably past the point where the sergeant had stopped the tracks, 
           “Sir, when I was with the 2/64th we didn’t worry too much about the support troops …” the transmission made its protest evident as the sergeant suddenly stopped; the vehicle slid forward about two feet and then just as suddenly reversed direction, “… they were taught to keep eyes on us and follow our lead, no matter how crazy it looked …” The sergeant then put the tank through a series of sharp starts and stops followed by a few turns. Every time he did so, the response of the vehicle seemed to get a bit sloppier, a bit more ‘mushy’.
           “The only people with anything to worry about are the people trying to do us good people harm …” he then threw the vehicle into a sudden reverse spin.
Despite being fairly certain he knew the answer Lt. Franken looked out the periscope mounted in front of him, it was completely obstructed by, something. Pounding could be heard on the hatch, 

“Sergeant, why exactly does the tank’s response appear to be getting sloppier?”

Grim laughter followed by, “Trust me sir, you just don’t want to know …”

A moment of thought … and Lt. Franken was sure that he knew the reason … the realization was causing his stomach some issues.
            Shortly after the line of men attempting to quell the perceived riot was over run, all video feed from the vehicles assigned to the ‘problem’ was completely cut off. Video feed from remote cameras and personal helmet cams was spotty at best, coming in, in fits and starts while occasionally cutting out entirely. Most of the view was obscured by the rush of bodies through the area but when the video signal was clear, one thing was shockingly clear.
The human race was in serious trouble
           The cameras showed each man, or woman, who’d taken on the duty of defending the city being mobbed by more attackers than anyone could have imagined. They were literally being buried by the sheer numbers of attackers and not one of the firearms they had brought into play were making even the smallest dent in the numbers.
          Even those occasions when there was a clearly visible hit no blood was evident and the bullet didn’t do much more than push the attacker back momentarily; who then resumed attacking what, or who, ever was immediately in front of them. Several of the rioters could be seen to have been shot down by the powerful M240/B machine guns mounted on the 113 personnel carriers; the seven point six two rounds having literally ripped their bodies in two …. but it didn’t do much more than slow them down, even cut in half they continued towards their intended targets.
The worst of it though, the most horrifying aspect of the entire scene set before the governmental observers wasn’t necessarily the ferocity or the determination shown by the rioters. There was an aspect to it all which chilled them to the bone …

The rioters were not only attacking the people before them with everything they had; they didn’t just rip limbs off and bite their throats open. One aspect of the attack left every politician watching wanting desperately to be told the entire thing was a sham, a con job. A cheap and tawdry way to elicit more funds for the police and military; if they’d thought for a minute that everything would come to an immediate halt on the delivery of additional funding for those stalwarts they would have signed the bill and delivered the checks themselves.

You see, the rioters weren’t just killing the soldiers and police … they were, they were … well … eating … them.

There were occasions where something happened and a rioter would go down; then stay down but those were few and far between. Camera resolution was not sufficient to show what the difference might have been so they were left with a hope that something was possible but no information as to what that was which made the difference. That information would have to wait for the after action investigation.
               Which didn’t appear to have a chance of happening any time soon.
           On the battlefield, Lt. Franken and SSgt. Williamson had an even worse view. Despite the sergeant’s best efforts their periscopes were completely obstructed by the people who were mobbing them; attempting to batter their way through the Chobham armor and, well, do something to the people inside the tank. Even more worrisome were the sounds coming from the turbine driving them and the readings from his gauges. The driver was doing his best but even with the advanced skills he could muster there didn’t seem to be any way to avoid their attackers, let alone defeat them. Eventually, the air inside grew close and the protesting turbine had to be shut down or risk the destruction of their engine.
              Even through the six hundred millimeters of armor the angry crowd could be heard howling for their blood …. and flesh.

Inside the now overheated vehicle the two men looked at each other resignedly, both are exhausted at all levels. Neither one is certain what to do or even if anything can be done. SSgt. Williamson removes his helmet, laying back against the cold steel of the tank’s hull; closing his eyes and undoing the top of his shirt and body armor. Lt. Franken takes his headset off; tossing it to the floor as he leans against the tank commander’s post. Both men are silent for a few moments.
            Without opening his eyes the older man sticks his hand out and says, “My name’s Frank, I worked in Commo before I got a taste for these big bitches … went from being a boy to being a man on C’s and then heavy metal …” The younger man took his hand, shaking it and says, “I’m David … I’ve got two of the best little girls a man can have and another baby on the way. We never thought this would be anything other than a way to have some extra money in the house …”
            “Two  and a half kids, huh?”
            “Guess that means your wife is pretty damned good lookin’ too …”
            “You know it Frank, you damn sure know it ….”

More time passes while the two men sit there, silent …
            “I had a wife once …”

Minutes pass before the lieutenant asks, “Mind if I ask what happened?”
            “She just wanted the bennies and the green card …”
            “Damn …”
            “Yeah …”

The crowd outside the stalled vehicle continue their clangor as the two men sit quietly. The air grows increasingly stale inside the tank. After the humidity can be felt increasing the two men lock eyes, staring at each other as naked as two men can be when faced with the fury of nature.
Almost two quietly, too calmly SSgt. Williamson asks, “So David, got any ideas on how we can get you back to your wife and kids?”
            “None at all, you got anything?”
            “Not a damned thing”

Frank removes a cigar case from his fatigue pocket, pulls one out and inhales the aroma of it deeply before looking at David, “You mind?”
            “Got another?”
            “You smoke?”

            “Nah, but I was planning on trying one before I die, anyway …”

Frank pulls another cigar from the case, he shows the younger man how to clip the cigar and light it; then they sit there watching the roof of the tank. Listening to the screaming and pounding on the outside of the hull; wondering how many of their company are left. Time drags on as the air becomes increasingly stuffy and smoke filled.
                Finally, Frank stands, as best as he can in the cramped quarters of the tank; then walks over to one of the storage compartments lining the walls. As he puts his hand on the catch he says, “You know, I would have preferred to die in bed with some woman half my age, twice as smart as Dr. Suzuki and good looking enough to make my ex jealous as hell …” he undoes the catch, looking at the duffel bag stuffed inside, “… but, I guess we don’t always get much say in the shit, do we?” He pulls the duffel out, setting it on the floor between the two of them before crouching down and unclipping the lock ring, “I was saving this stuff for my retirement, a way to have some fun every now and then, remembering some of the guys I knew when we still used these …” Reaching inside the bag he pulls out a pair of M3A1 submachine guns, “They phased these out back in ’92 but I had an armorer friend of mine slip me the parts for these two. A part here, a part there, no one ever noticed …” Two magazine pouches followed as the sergeant walked his lieutenant through the process of loading and charging the automatic weapons. “These babys’ll spit lead at about four hundred or so rounds a minute …” Williamson smiled at Franken, “… it should make quite an impression on our new friends …” he hands the second magazine carrier to the lieutenant who gravely fixes it to his web gear.

Frank eases the duffel over to get the last few items out of it, four pineapple style hand grenades, David looks from the grenades to Frank, “Will those things even still fire?” Frank shows David the top of the grenade, “Took the old fuses out, rethreaded the top and then installed modern fuses …” carefully he hands two of them to David, “I also removed the original explosive and filled them with PETN …” he smiles as the lieutenant comprehends what this means, “Yeah, they’re probably somewhere around one and a half times more powerful than they used to be …” he tosses one of them in his hand, catching it, “… just make sure you’re not where they’re going to land when you throw them …”

After gearing up, the two crouch at the base of the commander’s stand looking at each other. David breaks the silence, “Frank, I just want to tell you …” The larger man grins and claps him on the shoulder, “Yeah, I know …. same here …. “ he looks up at the hatch, “So what do you say we go get some fresh air?”

Back at the White House the command center is buzzing with activity. Murmuring conversations as information is exchanged, sorted, collated, digested and instructions are given. Cleveland, Ohio isn’t the first but for some unknown reason it is the worst. All the activity centers on the group of people seated at a ‘U’ shaped marble table in the center of the room. A monitor and keyboard mark each seat; while food and drink dominate the center edges of the table.

Even the coffee in the insulated carafes has gone cold and no one has noticed enough to order more out.

The center position is held by POTUS and she is at a loss about what to do, this is something that no one could have prepared her for; even her grandfather was at a loss as to what would be her best option. He’d been a Navy officer himself and was loathe to order troops in without them having every tactical advantage he could produce for them.

It was maddening …

The equivalent of two reinforced companies cut down without the opposing force losing any discernible number of their own people. As a matter of fact their numbers seem to have increased. Resting her hands on the table in front of her she bows her head and prays as she searches within her mind for a possible solution to this ugly, ugly problem. The men around her remain silent, they learned during her first term how harsh her tongue could be when she was disturbed unnecessarily. While Madam President had never taken to the field as her grandfather had done, she too was a graduate of Annapolis.

Without moving she asks, “Have the comm’ links been re-established?”

Punching the keys on his terminal an admiral checks; then looks up at her, “No ma’am … everything is still down …”
             "General Trasker, does Space Command have any recon satellites in the area?”
"Yes ma’am, we began positioning some of the SMDC series as soon as the situation began to get ugly, the visual isn’t the highest resolution we’ve got, but it is the quickest eyes we can get on the problem ….”
           “Problem? Hmmmm …. I suppose that’s one way to refer to it … put it up on the situation board as soon as they’re available …”
              “Yes ma’am”
Inside the tank the two men position themselves on either side of the hatch. Grinning, Frank puts his hand on the release handle; then looks at David, “Are you ready for this?” David takes a deep breath then re-positions the two grenades in his hand. Making certain the levers are firmly against his palm he pulls the pins and nods.
            Inside the Command Center General Trasker checks his terminal once again and finds that the satellites are available. His hands fly over the keyboard as he first sends the image he’s seeing to the main screen that dominates the center of the room. Silence grows throughout the room as he increases magnification without waiting for the order from his Commander.
            He understands what she needs to see …
            He needs to see the same thing himself, what happened?
            Why was there no response from their men?

As the image closes in on ground level gasps are heard throughout the room, the image grows closer and several people are heard choking then leaving the room. Others begin crying and one brave soul even empties the contents of his stomach into a nearby wastebasket. Those who remain in control of themselves are transfixed by what they see and cannot remove their eyes from the scene developing before them.

When at last the view is as close in as it will get General Trasker whispers, “That’s it, that’s all the more magnification we can get from these …”The Commander in Chief is stunned by what she can see and tells him, “That’s fine General, I think we can see quite enough …”
            The scene spread before them could have been from some drugged imagining by Dante himself. All across the area death, carnage, both words paled into insignificance against what they saw. Bodies ripped apart and partially eaten, other bodies bitten until they bled out and having done so while they tried to crawl away from their attackers. Many of the attackers had been turned into a fine liquid pulp that even from Low Earth Orbit appeared to be inches deep. The graveyard and surrounding area had been turned into a blood soaked wasteland. Armored vehicles which had once been the hope of the assembled politicians and staff officers were scattered; their high tech weaponry ripped from them by method or means unknown. Their cooling vents appeared to be obstructed, although the magnification wasn’t enough to insure a clear view, by bodies and body parts having been forcefully rammed into them. Two of the tanks had even caught fire, possibly from their drivers attempting to clear the vents. Their turbines burned fiercely until at last the magazine of one exploded from the heat; the flare from it lighting the entire screen briefly.
             The rioters were wandering the area, seemingly unconcerned by anything that had happened. No one could be certain but their numbers appeared to have increased.
            “Who do we have in the area?”
          “I want regular Army and Marines sent in … don’t give me any talk about Posse Comitatus, this is far beyond anything they might have imagined when they wrote that …”
            “Ma’am, are you sure that’s the best …”

That’s when they became aware of action on the screen; lacking any true detail they couldn’t tell who it was, they couldn’t see the faces or much more than just the uniforms and the apparent race of the two men. But they could see the action.

Without warning the tank commander’s hatch on one of the Abrams flew open knocking back one of the rioters still attempting to get into it. Then a couple of small objects flew out; although they might have been hand grenades they detonated with unexpected force, knocking several of the attackers back from the stalled vehicle. Then the two men inside clambered out, automatic weapons firing at the rioters around them.
                 It was all for nothing though …
             The rioters converged on the two men, first ripping them from the tank and then ….. the screen went black.

Everyone turned to look, Madame President had taken over the console and shut down the public screen. The color was draining from her face as she watched the fate of the two men. Without looking up she quietly said, “I want every available soldier to assemble on that area, I want every available law enforcement officer on that line, I want those rioters, those ….. things ….. driven back to whatever hell they crawled out of …”as she looked up from the terminal a tear could be seen to fall from her eye, “… and I want the names of every soldier and every officer who was down there, on my desk, in five minutes …”
                 No one said a word as she turned and left the room.

Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them
            Cannon in front of them, volley’d and thunder’d
            Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred