His armpits, back and face were nearly drenched in sweat. Jake felt good all over as he finished up an intensive, hour-long workout in the gym he’d set up in the basement of his home. Today’s workout consisted of a circuit: ten curls on each arm using thirty-pound dumbbells, ten dumbbell flies as well as ten shoulder presses. He repeated the circuit ten times. Jake took a drink of a double chocolate whey powder protein drink and gulped it back. He then wiped his face.
Jake had spent much of the day tinkering around the house. He was looking into starting up a small handyman-type business. After retiring, he had received a generous pension from the U.S. government. When their father passed away, Jake and his sister received $250,000 that had been hidden away in an offshore account. It was a sheer miracle the Federal Government hadn’t stolen that along with his military pension.
Toombs stood behind two NAP operators that gazed intently at computer monitors. A large communications centre had been set up at the Kamloops Airport. A small group of drone pilots were also posted in a command centre a few doors down the hallway. A look of satisfaction highlighted Toombs’ usually cold, unflinching face. It gave Toombs immense pleasure knowing that he was in charge of this large operation and that Frank Carragher had given him free reign to do whatever he wanted.
The door of the communications centre opened. An NAP trooper entered and went over to where Toombs was standing.
“Sir, Mullen is here,” he stated.
During his tenure in the United States Army, Toombs had had the opportunity to work alongside soldiers from the British Armed Forces. His family on his father’s side were the descendants of farmers from the south of the United Kingdom who had immigrated to America in the mid-18th Century. They had fought for the Continental Army during the bloody conflict that won the United States its independence.
Mullen was the epitome of a serious, by-the-book British officer.
“It’s nice to meet you colonel,” Toombs said. “You’re not the only one who’s miles away from home.”
“Where are you from? Mississippi? Perhaps Georgia?” Mullen inquired.
“Right from the Heart of Dixie.”
Mullen did not know what his North American Police counterpart was talking about.
“Alabama. Colonel, are all of your troops where they are supposed to be?” Toombs asked. “Yes. Once the takeover begins, nobody is entering or leaving this city.”
“We will have total control. Exactly as President Asher wants it to be. Have you spoken with the district administrator yet?” Toombs asked.
“Not yet. But very soon.”
The air inside the kitchen of Nicole Clare’s home was permeated by the mouth-watering smell of freshly-baked chicken. Nicole removed a sizzling pan from the oven and set it onto the counter. Throughout the day, she couldn’t stop thinking about Jake. He was becoming such a part of her life that it was difficult to be away from him for even short periods of time. Tonight, after Arielle went to bed, Nicole would most likely do what she did most nights: keep awake well past midnight with the help of an entire pot of coffee and write to the hundreds and thousands of fans who followed her blog.
As Arielle set the table, Nicole noticed two APCs rolling down her street. The fearsome, heavily-armored beasts were parked a few doors down from her home. Nine muscular, burly NAP non-commissioned officers led by a lieutenant got out of each one. They were outfitted in black Kevlar uniforms, helmets and high boots. They carried MP5 submachine guns, M4 rifles and shotguns. Nicole watched in horror, her heart beating wildly out of control, as a bunch of the militarized thugs forced their way into a neighbor’s home. Nicole and Arielle stood frozen in terror at the sound of the helicopter rotor blades beating the air into submission directly over their home.
Pale with panic and fright, Nicole reached for her cell phone.
Jake had just gotten out of the shower when he was alerted by the familiar ringtone. He answered it.
“Hey baby. What’s going on?”
Her heavy breathing tipped him off. Immediately, Jake knew that something was seriously wrong.
“Jake…Jake” she struggled to catch her breath. “They’re…outside on my street. NAP forces.”
At that very moment, the door was kicked in. Arielle let out a bloodcurdling scream as four NAP troopers burst inside.
While two of the jackbooted thugs grabbed a struggling, hysterical Arielle, another trooper, a sergeant, snatched the phone from Nicole’s grasp and smashed it against the wall. The sergeant was a mean-looking brute.
“Nicole Clare,” the sergeant said without emotion. “You are under arrest for subversive activities.”
Nicole’s entire body went numb. It was her worst nightmare come to life. The troopers escorted mother and daughter outside. The Carson’s, a family Nicole had gotten to know quite well, were being forced onto the back of a military truck, as were eight or so other neighborhood residents.
“Mommy, where are they taking us?” Arielle trembled as she asked.
“I don’t know baby,” Nicole replied as she held the little girl close to her.