Wed Mar 7 2012

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.

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