California Dreaming

March 2012 - California Dreaming.

Thur Mar 1 2072

"… You are California." These are the words that Governor Theodor Gill uses to end his daily radio address to the people of the California Free State. Every day, from the Bears Lair, hidden underneath South Butte in the central valley of California, he addresses his people both inside his territory and those still under occupation. Every day he exhorts them to rise above their differences and work together for the common goal of pushing the Japanese back to the sea. Every day, across California, from isolated Bakersfield to apathetic Eureka, from the nexus of Redding to Occupied Sacramento, the people of California listen in. But do they hear him?

In Fairfield California, just outside Travis Air Force Base, Sgt. Junjiro Ioshi of the Imperial Marines was traveling third in a line of several APC's as they rolled back in to base. They had just come back from pacification of a 'terrorist cell' in Vacaville, some 20 miles to the south. His features were furrowed, brow drawn low in thought at what he saw in that house. No terrorists. Just.. a Kawaru 'family'. The way the father threw himself in the path of the bullets to spare his son only a moment longer. It weighed on Ioshi. It weighed heavily and the rest of his squad could see it.

"Sgt. Junjiro." Said Sgt. Major Hiro Tanaka, a man of classically hard features and a demeanor that spoke of gravitas. Tanaka, called 'tank' by his men, was not easy to serve under, but when the chips were down, Tanaka was who you wanted calling the shots. His unit had a lower casualty rate than any other in the 5th Division, while simultaneously having an above-average kill rate. No one could claim they hung back in the fight or they were cowards. "What is troubling you? You should be joyous! We have won a great victory for the Emperor today. There will be extra rations tonight. Combat bonus for all."

"Was it?" Asked Ioshi, shaking his head. "Was it really a great victory, or did we just do Internment's dirty work?"

Sgt. Major Tanaka never got a chance to answer that question as the IED embedded in the roadside K-rail detonated. The K-Rails kept the masses off the roads, but they made great amplifiers for concussive force, rebounding it back and forth with such graceful ease. The APC slammed into the other wall, driven sideways by the blast. The lead vehicles came to a halt, marines jumping out and assuming combat positions, but there was nothing to be done for vehicle three.

Sun Mar 4 2072

"This is Theodore Gill signing off, and if you are listening to this, then you are California." Finishing his daily radio address, the middle aged Governor sat at the desk, deep inside the Bears Lair. Both hands came to his face, rubbing across his features with a certain sort of tone, an emotion that bordered on gravitas and desperation. Satio's troops were pushing on Bakersfield and Minton could not hold out against a full press. The Pueblo were not providing as much material support now that the Ute situation was heating up. Santa Barbara renewed its motions for independence and neutrality while Hestaby was silent. The center could not hold and the Governor of California needed help. A break. Anything. Something.

Mon Mar 5 2072

Meanwhile, near Modesto… Lt. Jace Gill watched through a pair of high powered binoculars as the VTOL troop transports swung in low over the Tuolemne River. Japanese markings, though recently painted on over the Aztechnology insignia that had been present before. "Right on time." He remarked to himself, though overheard by his XO.

Saito AirField, previously known as Harry Sham Field, served as the communications nexus for the Modesto Garrison and these transports were flying with low alertness. They were deep inside the Japanese Protectorate of California, far from any hostile areas, so they were complacent. Something that Jace intended to use.

Jace was not his father, the Governor. Theodore Gill tried to fight this war conventionally, with troops and tanks, diplomacy and treaty. An old fashioned, honorable man who forbade the use of terrorist or even insurgent tactics. "Light em' up." Said Jace to his XO. The order was relayed, and within seconds, the contrails of several surface to air missiles raced upward into the night.

The first one struck the lead VTOL in the port side engine pod. The pod exploded into brilliant colors, fire engulfing it and sending the craft veering into the ground, where it burst into flame. Two other military craft suffered similar fates, swarmed by the shoulder mounted missiles. Left alone in the sky, the Renraku Civilian aircraft, with 24 executives and middle managers from a variety of Japanese companies hovered as if unsure what to do.

"Take it down." Ordered Jace.

"Sir?" Questioned the XO. As a civilian craft, it was beyond the mandate of their mission.

"Damn thing looks armed to me, Bill." Opined Jace.

Turning his eyes to the unarmed civilian aircraft, Bill O'Conners narrowed his eyes. "Suppose it does sir."

Jace Gill is not his father.

"Sir, here's the report from the attack in Modesto." offered an aide as he handed the Governor the datapad. "Casualties were very light - one man took a grazing wound as they exifiltrated along the Tuolemne River."

"I see." Says Governor Gill, eyeing the report. "What's this here? Four craft down, but only three military aircraft on the flight." He pauses, to put on his glasses and read closer. "Get my son up here. Put him on the first available goddamn aircraft. I want him here! NOW! I specifically forbade civilian targets!"

Stepping into the Bears Lair's command center, Lt. Jace Gill snapped to attention in front of Governor Theodore Gill. The older Gill eyed his son for a long moment, saying nothing. There was a certain tension in the command center as the Gill's face off.

"What the hell were you thinking, downing that civilian air craft?" Asks Theodore, the Governor. "There were corporate executives on that craft. Corporations we've been busting a hump with trying to convince them we are the better choice!"

"Permission to speak freely, /SIR/." COmes Jace's clipped, military reply.


"Sir, I was thinking that I don't give one shiny fragging farthing about the Japanese Corporations or their precious executives. They're the ones supplying Saito's forces, that makes them the fragging enemy, and I'm going to frag them."

Tues Mar 6 2072

1,602,000 cubic hectares is a lot of water. It's a lot of water indeed. Lake Berryessa, in Northern California, inside the Japanese Protectorate territory. Long a haven for sportsmen and boaters, it has been off-limits since the Japanese took over. Colonel Noboru Tanaka maintains the Internment Division's HQ on Berryessa Island, an upthrust in the middle of the lake. It's a nice place to be, all told, when you're committing genocide. Picturesque, even.

Tues Mar 6 2072

Yeah. 1.6 million cubic hectares is a lot of water. It's a lot of pressure on a dam, and Monticello Dam is no exemption. A hundred and twenty years old, the dam has been in continuous use during that time. No earthquake has knocked it down, no environmental study has shut it down, the attempt by the Tir Ghosts in the war to blow it failed. She stands strong and tall at the mouth of lake Berryessa, feeding her water to the agricultural lands of the valley all year long, her hydro electricity feeding the city of San Francisco, rain or shine.

Putah creek flows from Lake Berryessa, cold and frigid, drawn off the bottom of the lake. It flows down the canyon, to the of Winters. An agri-town, Winters has grown extensively since the awakening. Home to farmers, laborers and a Mitsuhama heavy equipment factory, it's not a small town at 45,000 people. Seated in the flood plain of Putah Creek, it's fertile land and the people have packed into it. Ten miles beyond, on that same floodplain, sits the city of Davis. 200,000 people, a university and major air force base, it's a quarter million people and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland that sit down stream from Monticello dam.

You can tell where this is going, can't you?

GoldRush. It's not just a period of California History. It's a visceral name that's floated up from the chaos of California in the last few years. A small time partisan band that operated in Sacramento for a few years, it went silent about three years after the invasion. The Japanese attributed it to a near complete evisceration of it's leadership, utilizing the standard tactics you use anywhere - find someone and turn them - either by paying them enough or threatening the things they care about. In a series of lightening raids in 2065, GoldRush was brought to its knees. But since 2070, GoldRush has been resurgent. A few small raids in Auburn, then a stronger attack on a military convoy near Modesto, then sniper attacks in Tracy that killed the families of several executives of KamiAgri, a Japanese agricorp.

GoldRush got smart, it seems. Never sticking around after making a strike. Fading away as quickly as they hit. Military precision, the Japanese say. UCAS SeALs, some whisper. More likely, GoldRush is receiving support from the CalFree military, such as it was. The only problem with that, is GoldRush, despite being a 'terrorist' organization is just three times as effective as the Cal Guard. Which is pretty damn sad.

Travis Air Force Base is just outside the town of Fairfield, about midway between San Francisco and Sacramento. It used to be the primary US B-52 base. That means, it had some very… very… very large aircraft that carried very… very… very large bombs. A cold war relic, it was still the largest air force base in California and never shut down. The Cal Guard assumed it when the UCAS pulled out, and when the Japanese rolled through, they captured most of California's meager bomber fleet on the ground. A few aging B-52s, a pair of CFSB-34's. They sat moldering in their hangars for years - preserved in climate controlled environments. Fueled. Maintained. Ready to go. But with no use to the Japanese.

GoldRush has a use. Find out tomorrow what that use is.

Wed Mar 7 2072

The CFSB-34 is the Cal Guard's premier bomber, part of an initiative of militarization back in the 40s, after the invasions of the north and south by the Tir and Aztlan respectively. A swept wing supersonic bomber capable of hitting most of western North America in under two hours, the CFSB-34 was the very height of technology. A low radar cross section making it nearly invisible, a high payload capacity and an advanced sensor suite made this aircraft ideal for striking targets deep in enemy territory with accuracy and also recovering your aircraft. The real problem with the CFSB-34 was the cost. It had to be the best, and the CFS government didn't really have a great grasp on how expensive the per-unit would be. Which is why there were a total of four built.

Two were based in El Segundo at the Los Angeles Air Force Base when they were destroyed in an earthquake that collapsed their hangers. CFSB-34A and B never saw action. Two were based at Travis, and actually saw extensive use in the battles with the Tir. CFSB-34D, the fourth and final aircraft of the series is nicknamed 'Dragonlance' for it's documented encounter with a juvenile dracoform while on a bombing mission north of the line. Returning home with half a wing and pilots in need of new underwear, the aircraft was repaired and returned to service, but too late for it to rejoin the fight.

Stored now on the north side of Travis Air Force Base, they are lightly guarded. After all, they can't exactly be -stolen-, being as they are large bombers with no ground crews to fuel them or prepare them for flight. They are just… big wastes of space that are kept because they are wonderful trophies. Wonderful, slightly obsolete, supersonic trophies.

Travis Air Force base is big. Guarded by a platoon of Japanese Marines that oversee a brigade of Homeguard. The Homeguard are native Californian units that have been raised or reconstituted from the defecting California Guard units from captured territories. Scorned by the resistance, but also riddled with spies and sympathizers.

Which brings us to this. GoldRush team members infiltrating Travis Air Force Base with stolen uniforms - driving a fueling truck into CFSB-34D's hangar… and just fueling the beast up. It's not until CFSB-34D is on the taxiway that the Garrison Commander in the tower realizes something is wrong.

One of the glaring problems the Japanese have in California, is the lack of a real air force. That is not to say Cal-Free has much of an air force to capitalize upon this lack, but that Saito has no real air force beyond some attack helicopters that do infantry support.

So the net result is… CFSB-34D, 'Dragonlance'… gets off the ground… and there's really nothing to go chasing after it. Already, calls are being made to commanders, letting them know. There's a certain sense of… blase nature to the commanders. It's just one bomber. It has no munitions and CalFree really does not have the infrastructure to support it.

Let it go.

'DragonLance' comes to half speed as it curves to the east, moving towards Sacramento. The Capitol was almost empty after the invasion, but in the 10 years since, it's recovered a great deal as people return to their homes and new people move in, drawn by the lure of land, homes and employment. As Dragonlance comes in low over the American River that runs through Sacramento, her bomb bay doors open. Still in Californian colors, she's a terror to those who look up and see her. Leaflets rain down from her, littering a wide swath of the city. 'Only resolute composure and a heart of Iron bring victory. GoldRush stands for you!'

CFSB-34D 'Dragonlance' powers up it's EMC suite as it powers across the Central Valley. Civilian communications go dark as repeater towers are blanketed in snowy haze. Long ago, we left the overwired world, for one of cordless freedom. It has its prices, in terms of security.

A moment after trix screens go dark, a moment after phone conversations go quiet - the image they display on their LCD's and other interfaces is replaced with the waving flag of the Bear Flag, California's flag. The screen splits, showing the nose-cam from CFSB-34's feed. A sweeping vista of California - no borders visible from the air. Farms and valleys, forests and cities. The illusion, just for a moment, of a whole, singular land. Backing this, in audio, the National Anthem of the California Free state.

'I love you, California, you're the greatest state of all.
I love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.
I love your fertile valleys

'I love your red-wood forests - love your fields of yellow grain.
I love your summer breezes and I love your winter rain.
I love you, land of flowers

The aircraft seems to pick up speed as it roars over Putah Canyon, the advanced avionics making the camera steady. The song dies out - replaced by a digitized male voice that has been run through enough filters to make it impossible to reconstruct its actual tone.

"For to long, California has languished in apathy. The tyranny of the weak and the pathetic negotiations of the hopeless."

The city of Winters and its 45,000 people flashes by underneath in a blink.

"For to long, California has languished in weakness. The invasion of the foreign, the wicked and the grasping of those in power who seek to grab what they can before the end."

Into the canyon now, with Monticello Dam some few miles ahead, shown in a secondary window that opens, a camera from somewhere nearby showing the dam independent of the nose-cam.

"For to long, California has languished without heroes. Without sons to rise up and do what MUST be done. Without those willing to risk what we have left, for those things we have lost."

It's with an incredible power and fury that CFSB-34D's engines, Dragonlance's engines, roar to maximum thrust. The dam comes closer still.

"GoldRush refuses to stand aside and let the Japanese take what is our birthright. Our destiny. We stand forth to say without reservation, without shame… we will not negotiate. And we will not back down. Let this act be a declaration, a statement. Let it stand without further comment."

The camera from CFSB-34D shows the dramatic last few moments, like some sort of Eurowars bomb-cam as it dips lower and lower, the dam filling more and more of it's field of vision… until there is nothing but the rising concrete of the dam. No way to avoid it, no way to pull up at the last minute. A wall of concrete, then nothing more as the camera goes to static.

The Camera from the overlook, that shows the dam from it's pulled back vision, shows something else entirely. The elegant swept wing bomber, with it's California Free State markings, dips low over the water, expertly guided by whomever is at the controls. It's glorious, like a California Condor in full flight as it seems to glide through the canyon's tight walls with ease.

And then the flight is over. Just like that, the plane and it's fuel load slams into the middle point of Monticello Dam. The impact is thunderous and shakes the ground, yellow flame billowing out in a ball of fuel that ignites, ribboned with black smoke that itself cannot move fast enough to avoid being caught in the flame again. Black smoke overtakes as the initial fireball subsides, rising up from the gaping hole in the outside face of the dam.

You knew this was coming.

The camera continues to roll as alarms in the powerhouse of the dam go off. Red lights flash along the top of the dam. Earth quake sensors, really - designed to cut off the flow of water in the event of seismic activity. This is, after all, California. As the smoke starts to drift away and thin, the hole in the dam is clear. Water gushes - slowly at first, over the lip of the hole. SLowly the volume of water increases. Cracks start to ripple up the form of the dam as structural integrity starts to fail. Water starts to seep from those cracks - then it stops seeping and starts to jet. Monticello Dam has been critically breached, and 1.6 million cubic hectares of water carefully contained behind it… is about to be catastrophically released.

The end of Monticello Dam comes in a titanic groan of concrete and steel, a wrenching sound as the pressure overcomes the last bits of structural integrity. Folding forward, the dam buckles under its own weight and the pressure behind it. What comes next is a frothing torrent some 275 feet tall as it roars its way down the Putah Creek gorge. There's no escaping this, no getting out of its way. Anything in that canyon, from homes, to cars, to campgrounds… to the reporters racing after the aircraft… are swept up like they don't even exist.

The effects are felt almost immediately. The powerhouses go offline and 45,000 megawatts stop flowing into San Francisco. Brownouts start, followed by rolling blackouts that see entire zones of skyscrapers darkened. But that's an inconvenience. A minor problem compared to the town of Winters. There's almost no warning, as the water roars down Putah Gorge, following the creek bed. As it widens, the water slows but only barely, and always backed by millions of gallons more that push it ever forward. The water darkens, picking up trees, soil, rocks and cars. A slurry of death as it slams into the town like a quarter mile wide tide.

Thurs Mar 8 2072

The waters wash over Winters. They never had a chance. There was no warning - no cry raised. Just the sudden invasion of a 30 foot tall wall of water carrying tons of rocks, cars and everything else the water could scrape up as it moved at breakneck speed. Houses shatter and trucks are thrown like toys. One car, a bright red BMW GHT50 sees the water rushing down the main street, caught by a traffic drone on camera as it reverses down the street at full speed. The driver hits the emergency brake, then slides the front end of the car around, shifting to drive and taking off again. Really, it's a very elegant maneuver in spite of the need. Maybe he'll make it, so long as the road holds out for him. The people behind him are not so lucky.

The aftermath of the destruction of Monticello Dam is still playing out. Massive flooding strikes a great deal of farmland, destroying crops, ripping up roads and obliterating farms. Loss of human life is high, and in the chaos of the moment, the agents who snuck into Travis Air Force Base melt away into the unfolding disaster. The City of Davis floods, though not with the same power that washed away Winters. While Winters is gone - Davis itself is just heavily damaged.

It's to early to put a solid estimation to the loss of life, but it is thought to be at least 10,000. One survivor, caught on camera as 'Red Car Guy', for his frantic bid to outrace the onslaught in Winters in a red sportscar, described seeing bodies, buildings and vehicles churning in the water like toys.

The shadow community of California, centered in Redding, San Francisco and Los Angeles, is abuzz. The strike on the dam is quickly dissected and pulled apart, analyzed by people who know the various locations. It reveals underlying weaknesses in the Japanese regime, also highlighting the desperation that the Cal-Free is coming to in it's strikes. One thing everyone agrees upon is 'GoldRush' is not just three hicks with a shotgun and a can of spraypaint.

Several runners are unaccounted for following the damage in Winters and Davis, including Napa based fixer 'Longtips'. Specializing in luxury goods and smuggling, Longtips has been a fixture in the California Shadow scene, moving goods between Japanese and Cal-Free zones with ease, as well as between the Tir and Cal-free.

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