The Keystone Division after WW3
The Raven and the Phoenix - PT I

Scranton / Wilkes Airport


The whole compound is huge (almost 3 square miles), and nestled in the mountains near Pittston/Avoca PA(see attached map). Several Major Interstate Highways are in the vicinity, as well as a criss-crossing of railroad tracks, some of which are in use (coal or woodburning locomotives). The highways, as are most in PA in 2003, are poorly maintained, due to the lack of materials and labor. The predominant terrain in the area is mountainous, with some streams and lakes. The purity of the water has actually improved since the war, due to the fact that most of the industries in the area have shut down. Fishing and hunting in the area are a major source of food and trade.

The compound has been improved since becoming the HQ for the 28th DIV. The 12' high fence is topped with razorwire, and rumor has it that it can be electrified. There is a nearly completed trench/berm surrounding the west, southwest sides, and 70% of the east side. The northern trench is only 30% completed, and is low priority due to the natural ruggedness of the terrain there. Hidden pillboxes dot the berm formed from the excavated earth, and there are also hidden and visible bunkers 25-50m inside the wire. Closer to the main area (runways and control tower), another triangular trench/berm has been completed. The labor to complete these berms must have been staggering.

Numerous buildings survive, including the control tower, hangars, and various support buildings. Several have been improved with sandbags, block, and/or rock.

Most notably, there are several specimens of that vehicle most-often thought extinct after WWIII -- aircraft. There are too many to list -- suffice it to say that the number is between 15-20 and includes helos, prop planes, and jets, both civilian and military. All sizes are represented, from tiny Cessnas up to a C-130. Before one gets too excited, the fuel situation for these craft should be discussed, and that can be done in one word: none. Aviation fuel is even scarcer than gasoline or diesel, and aircraft are even more picky about lubricants, spare parts, and maintenance than their dirt-bound cousins. So, valuable though they are, the birds are grounded pending aviation fuel. Most are stored in improved bunkers, with hopes that someday...

There are numerous ground vehicles within the compound, again both civilian and military, and of all sizes/purposes. Most common would be the HUMVEE or civilian 4x4's pressed into miltary service.

The following unit concerning manpower and units will take precedence over info the other players have when you meet. You were there! Your intel is up to date, and theirs dates from JAN 2003. Plus, HQ was careful what it told to even loyal units, having only recently suffered a mutiney in DEC 2002:

28th DIV (M) HQ - 30 men, 3- M113
55th ARMOR BDE HQ - 15 men, 2- M2A1
28th ENG BDE HQ - 20 men, M113
DISCOM (Divisional Support Command) (Elements) 20 men

1/109 INF (M) - 250 men (green)
337 th ENG BTN - 100 men (mostly green, sprinkling of vets)
2/103 ARMOR - 100 men, 1- M1A1, 2- CG V-100 (veteran)
1/109 ARTY - 30 men, 1- M109A6 (w/o ammo), 3- 81mm mortars
1/108 ARTY - 50 men, 6- 60mm mortars

This should total about 600 men. There is a civilian workforce numbering about 200 men, and a training company that accepts recruits and runs them thru Basic (of sorts!). The first class, numbering 80, should graduate in another 3 weeks.

NOTE: friendly units to 28th DIV:
2/112 INF (M) - 100 men

Pittsburgh (Presbyterian Hospital):
28th AVIATION BDE - 250 men

A few words about DISCOM. They only recently relocated from FT Indiantown Gap, and they have a mere pittance of equipment compared to what was left there. Yet, MG Applegate gave them control (the "purse strings") to the supplies (mostly 55th BDE stuff) at S/W Airport, and this caused more than a few problems with 55th BDE. The dispute is not between Applegate and BG Casey Saunders, or COL Abraham Winters (DISCOM CO) but rather at the grass roots level. [ooc - COL Winters? Ring a Bell, Josh?]

The flip side of this is, it's DISCOM's *job* to manage supplies and support (everything from Medical, to Intel, to Supply, Transportation, and Maintenance falls to DISCOM). They know how to do the job, and the earlier approach to supply was redundant in terms of personnel, and often wasteful of valuable materials. DISCOM's 20 men are hard pressed to stay above water, let alone catch up and get ahead in their new situation. There was even talk of them skimming part (or all) of the next training company class to fill the gap.

And yes, in all the confusion, an enterprising, attentive person might see to it that certain items found their way out of the supply area. There is someone close to COL Winters who supposedly can get you anything you want. His name is MAJ Harry Bell. All in all, supply is not very secure at the moment...

FYI, consider that MAJ Raven has his entire amount of starting money available (even after the few items you already mentioned). Do with this what you want. Don't kill me with minutae, however. ;) You might want to save some or all of it. And note that space is limited on your vehicle, with everything HQ is sending back to 3/103....

MG Applegate is aware of the money situation with 3/103. He also mentioned something about back pay for 3/103. Probably can't scare up the whole payroll, but there should be something for the men before Raven leaves.

Finally, MG Applegate introduces you to a man named SGT Berger. He looks anything but military, more like a 40-something biker or a rock and roll wannabe. He is tired, banged up, beaten, and hungry, but you can see something in his eyes that you like. If first impressions are anything, he's not a quitter. He's the courier from 3/103 and will guide you back there tomorrow. Apparently, one Sean Cunningham, a travelling companion, was captured. Applegate states flatly that your first mission as CO of the 3/103 will be to rescue, if possible, Cunningham from his captors. They're not military per se, but were relatively well armed. Cunningham basically allowed himself to become captured so that Berger could escape, and have a chance of reaching HQ. Applegate wants to repay the man (a civilian, actually an Irish national) by freeing him, but only if the greater mission of taking over the command of 3/103 will not be endangered in the process. Berger can give you details as you form your plan.

MAJ Raven put out some feelers for AT weapons -- the 3/103rd was in for a serious hurtin' if they encountered any armor. Well, MAJ Harry Bell was running his mouth about some antique HW stuff.If you have the money, he'd be glad to show you some. He thinks the designation was M67 90mm RCL. Again, cash only, and you get the distinct feeling this $$$ won't be going into 28th DIV coffers...

Raven was also interested in gaining some earthmoving machinery. He envisioned turning the top of the mountain at RB Winter into a Vietnam-style firebase. MG Applegate agreed this would be a good thing, but... Well, the engineers here at S/W airport have several big, powerful, hungry-for-dirt machines. They love playing with them, but they guzzle gas, so... and as for them loaning them, well... They're pretty valuable and should probably stay here at the airport. You're not even sure you'll make it there, Raven, although YOU BETTER!...

Disheartened, Raven took a last look around the engineering vehicles, and noticed a few were cobbled together from scraps of plate and girder. One was actually attached to an M113. Hey, the 3/103 had an M113 according to Berger. The blade thing might be do- able. Raven would ask Wiz when he got, and probably that Petey Slade would love to help Wiz get one together...

When Berger mention the radio direction and location device that was being constructed, Raven was impressed. He suggested that adding a jammer to that device might also be handy, if it could be done.

Raven began the first seeds of a thought for not only making RB Winter a strong military base, but also a center for rebuilding in the area. There were lots of resources in the area -- timber, stone, fish and game, and farms down in the valley below. The water of the lake was a resource, too, as was the dam. Water power... hmmm... a mill might stimulate cooperation among everyone in the area, and be the start to restoring the local economy...

7 MAY 2003 / 0900 hours
28th DIV (M) HQ
Scranton Wilkes Airport
Pittston, PA

A person resembling someone out of a 1980s MTV video turned up at the main gate for the 28th DIV (M) HQ at Scranton Wilkes Airport. He was pushing a Renault Le Car, from the open driver's side door. He looked tired and desperate, and the guard noted that he was armed.

After sounding the alert, the guard drew down on the rock-star wannabe -- probably just some bum looking to buy some fuel, but one can't be too careful, now...

"Lay down your weapons, and put your hands in the air."

The person complied, in a way, by passing out face first in the dirt near the gate...

7 MAY 2003 / 1000 hours
MAJ Raven met a battered and beaten-up SGT Berger, the courier from the 3/103rd Armored. Berger, dressed in a dusty jean jacket and Levis, hardly looked the part of a SGT in the US Army. His jacket was covered with patches from several different armies and branches of service which seemed to be the only thing holding his jacket together. His jeans were all but shredded, and caked with blood around his knees. His hair completed the picture -- light brown with streaks of grey, crew cut at the front, top, and sides, but with a rather unmilitary pony tail hanging half way down his back. Apparently the trip here was quite difficult...

GEN Applegate offered the man a cigarette. Berger declines, but downs mug after mug of coffee as the little group talks. Berger was hesitant in speaking openly around the General. Applegate sensed this, and produced a flask from his jacket. Berger sweetened his coffee with a healthy dose of the General's liquor.

"The 3/103rd is currently located in a State Park atop a mountain near Lewisburg. I'm here to help set up communications protocols with HQ. We're in a pretty tough situation. We were just over run a few nights ago by Stryfe. It was another mutiney. Can you help us?"

"We have already been looking into your situation. MAJ Raven, here, will be returning with you to the 3/103rd. Why don't you continue filling him in, and I'll get you some things and have a medic come in to check you over."

SGT Berger, formerly a high school chemistry teacher, politely shook hands with Raven, and began the story of the 3/103rd. Perhaps looks are deceiving. He might not be a professional military man, but he is certainly not a quitter, as his story relates. Apparently he also had a head for figures, as well as the gift of gab to make the details come alive.

"The unit consists of a handful of veterans, a militia company of 45 men, and a work company of 63 persons. There are 52 dependants -- some young children and elderly. Right before we left, a recruiting effort was started to bring in some more local help. We have few serviceable modern weapons -- mostly alot of hunting rifles and shotguns, with some M16s and a few heavy weapons. We can reload 30-36 and 12 gauge shotgun shells. Our heaviest piece is a Civil War M1841 6 pounder. I used to do some re- enacting..." With this Berger paused and blushed slightly. "We have a HUMVEE and a M113, and a few civilian vehicles. We have a few stills, generators, and radios, and really little else in the way of technology. Mostly we rely on horses alot. We have some Amish folks who have been great, teaching us about farming and horses and so forth. We had a Doctor, but he has been MIA for about 3 days now. We have a good nurse, and again, the Amish help us with some herbs and folk remedies. We've lost more than a few people just for lack of some medical basics." Berger stared off into the darkness of the hangar where the men were meeting.

"As you probably have heard, COL Stryfe was formerly our CO. It was a great shock to everyone when he went bad. I'm not sure if he's crazy or what -- he sure seemed rational enough to me... We evacuated from the Old Armory along RT 15, and headed for the hills, so to speak, when the Camp was overrun. We lost about half of our roster that night." With that, GEN Applegate, who had returned, slid a manila folder across the table to MAJ Raven. It was marked COL Nathan Stryfe, and was his complete military file.

"So we had to have a way to set up new codes and protocols. Stryfe knew everything we had in place, and with Doc and MAJ von Fischer MIA, and LT CDR Everrit as well, we can't be careful enough when it comes to the radio. We had set up something for me to contact the 3/103rd at five past Midnight if and when I made it here. It was just a recognition number, to say I wasn't captured and being forced to transmit, and then four colors indicating that I reached HQ, things were OK here, and that I'd be returning... the fourth would report our actual well-being upon arrival here..."

The General wrinkled his nose. "Our arrival?..."

"Well, I wouldn't be sitting here at HQ without Sean Cunningham. We were detained at Freeland, and he took a round for me, so that I might get through. I owe the man my life..." Berger hesitated, wanting to ask, but knowing it was probably out of the question. Sean was brave, true. Sean saw to it that Berger made it to HQ, true. But Sean was really small in the whole big picture that was Pennsylvania after WWIII.

GEN Applegate had flinched a bit when the Irishman's name was mentioned.

"Cunningham? Sean Cunningham -- the reporter?..." The General was silent. Raven knew that kind of silence, and it didn't sound good to him. He anticipated the General's next statement mere milliseconds before the words left the starry-shouldered man's lips. "If it is at ALL possible, we'll get him out." He turned to MAJ Raven. "Is that clear MAJ? If it can be done without endangering the mission to the 3/103rd, you'll get Cunningham and take him safely to the 3/103rd. Understood?"

At the General's request, Berger briefed Raven and MG Applegate on Freeland.

"Well, Sean's cycle took some rounds from those marauders at the crossroads here", he said pointing at the map. "We were OK, but the gastank got a tiny hole in it. The gas leaked out all over Seans pants, and the sidecar too. He was stoked. It was a damn nice Harley. Anyway, we pushed it for a while, and then it just got too heavy, so we hid it, and were gonna scrounge a ride some other way, when we... well, we ended up in Freeland."

"It looked like a decent settlement -- no weapons, drugs, whoring around -- it said so on the sign. Anyway, they were OK with fixing the cycle in the morning (their mechanic was looped), but things weren't as they seemed. They drugged Sean, but I just ended up with a monster headache, and I think some bastard cracked my ribs with a riflebutt. Hardly makes sense why I didn't get knocked out and Sean did-- he's got like 110 pounds on me or something. That guy must have the drug and alcohol tolerance of a rhino, but hey..."

"They threw us in a holding cell, and by the time Sean came around, I had cut through my ropes with a piece of hacksaw blade I always carry between the sole of my boot. We figured we might as well risk escape ASAP before they recognized him, or take us someplace really tough to get out of. It was bad enough that we were in some totally black cave underground. So we jumped the guards when they came back to feed us, and found out we were part way down a coal mine shaft. One of them had a shotgun, so at least we had a prayer of making it out."

"We made our way up the ropes of some elevator-type thing, and that's when the shooting really started." Berger got quiet, and his hands shook visibly. "We killed 6 or 8 of them right there, getting out of the mine shaft. We planned just to head down the mountain, but about 20 seconds after leaving the relative safety of the minehead, Sean was hit. An MG opened up on us from a low tower that we couldn't see from the minehead. He literally dove in front of me to protect me. His ankle was a bloody mess, obviously shattered from the round. I argued, but he said to leave him. I hated doing it, but he was right. He would only slow me down, if I could move him at all. I ran faster than I think I ever did at a Regional Track Meet, and somehow I was able to hide from them. I found that piece of shit car out there near one of their outer posts, and made it so the guard wouldn't worry about driving or much else ever again."

Berger sketched a rough diagram of the compound at Freeland.

"Basically, the walled 2-3 acre area on the top of the mountian must be their bait for passing travellers. Everything looks on the up and up there - maybe 15 guards armed with crossbows, and a Sherrif with a shotgun. There are some swivel guns up there, blackpowder things maybe like 2" caliber, maybe 3-4 on each of the east and west walls. Didn't see any on the north and south sides. More or less a straight drop down into a quarry or something from those sides. The walls of that place are made out of huge bolders, and slag from the mine. They aren't dressed stone, just big and formidable."

"Then further down the east slope is the mine, maybe 1/3 of the way down. Between the summit and the minehead is the wire enclosure, that's where we assumed the other prisoners were held. There's a squat tower there, maybe only 10-15 feet high, with an M60 on it, and a coupla men. When we came out of the minehead, we must've gotten 6 or 8 guards, there were 10 or so more down in the mine at any one time, and we got 2 of them. All told, there were maybe 30 armed people there, minus the 8-10 we took out, that leaves 20. Most of them were armed with crossbows. There were a few with M16s, and a few more with hunting rifles or shotguns. Sean's bike is hidden on the west slope of the mountain, and I hid my greasegun there, and our pistols, along with a few other things. I don't think anyone would find the stuff right away. Well, that's about all I can remember for now..."

7 May 2003 -1000 HRS
Maj Raven looked over the Sgt with an appraising eye. He had obviously been through hell. That fact that he had made it to HQ at all said a lot about what kind of man he was. Add to the equation that he had been captured, had managed to escape (from a mine shaft, no less), and had realized that completing the mission meant leaving behind his friend, and what you have is one damn fine soldier, no matter what he looked like. Besides, he thought, I never was one for the parade field mentality. He could look like one of Pancho Villa's banditos for all I care, as long as he performs.

MG Appelgate returned to the office, and handed Maj Raven a manila folder. It was marked, "Stryfe, Nathan COL - 201 File". He held onto it, planning to look at it at the first free moment he had.

Maj. Raven listened intently as Sgt Berger related to the General how Sean Cunningham had been left behind, sacrificing himself for the good of the mission. MG Applegate turned to him and said. "Major, you will make every effort to perform a rescue of Mr. Cunningham. Is that understood?"

Raven stiffened in his chair. "Yes, Sir", he replied. You're god-damned right we're going to rescue him, he thought to himself, a man like that deserves no less. Besides, he knew too many men who were still listed as POW/MIA from Vietnam, even now, 30 years later. Honor demanded that the attempt be made.

The meeting was finally finished, and MG Applegate left the room. Maj Raven turned to Sgt Berger. "Sergeant, let's get you cleaned up and fed, and let you get some rest. You've done a damn fine job in getting here, you've earned it. Don't worry, we'll get Mr. Cunningham out of there, and we'll get the 3/103rd back on it's feet. You can count on it. After you've gotten some rest, we'll talk again. I'm going to want more details about the Freeland camp. And I'm also going to want to know as much as possible about the 3/103rd, the personnel, your supply situation, etc. If I'm taking command, I want to be able to walk in the door knowing what to expect."

After Maj Raven left Sgt Berger to get cleaned up and fed, he went to see MG Applegate. He politely tapped on the door.


Maj Raven entered the office, and closed the door behind him. MG Applegate was seated at his desk, shuffling through a pile of paperwork. He looked up, and said, "Sit down, Major, I've been expecting you."

Maj Raven sat down. "Sir, if what Sgt Berger says is true, and I for one believe him, then we've got big problems. The 3/103rd is in bad shape, they're critically short of just about everything. Add to that the potential damage that Col Stryfe can do, and it all adds up to one big ugly mess."

MG Applegate looked at him narrowly, "Are you saying that you don't want the assignment?" There was a hint of anger in his voice,

"No Sir!", he said quickly, he'd heard that tone before. "You know, better than anyone, how much I want a field assignment. I've been making that request almost daily since I arrived here. I just want to make sure that we have a fighting chance. I would like to requisition as much weapons, ammo, medical supplies, anything to help bolster the 3/103rd's siuation in the field."

MG Applegate held up a piece of paper and smiled. "I'm one step ahead of you, I'm already working out what we can spare to send with you. I can't promise you as much as you'd probably like, but anything we can spare is yours."

Maj Raven relaxed, "Thank you, sir. There is one other thing. Col Stryfe knew more about our SOP's than just about anyone. We'll need to change our codes, frequencies, well, just about everything, if we are to have anything even vaguely resembling operational security."

"Don't worry about that, Major, that's what I get paid for. Rest assured, you'll have a fresh set of codes and frequencies before you leave."

Maj Raven stood up. "Then, with the General's permission, I'll get started on preparing for my new command. And thank you again, sir, for this opportunity. I've spent too much time sitting at a desk." He snapped to attention, and saluted. He walked to the door, and then stopped, and turned back to the General. "You know sir, there must be something really wrong with me. Here I am, going into an extremely dangerous and hostile situation, and God help me, I'm actually looking forward to it." He grinned, and exited the office.


7 MAY 2003 / 1400 hours
MAJ Raven meets MAJ Bell and bargains over M67 and 6 HEAT rnds. Asking price is $25,000 for the lot. Bell needs to know now. He has another buyer, and he knows someone else is watching him, too.

[MAJ Bell]
"Well, MAJ Raven, I'm sorry. Maybe you're not really interested. I've got that other buyer, and understand, part of the rate is for... security, shall we say. Remember, we're both being watched, so..."

While there, Berger comes in, hands over some car keys, and starts stacking up a XXL uniform and boots, a .45 Auto and ammo, some 5.56N, 30-06, and a few hand grenades. MAJ Bell nods to him, and Berger puts the stuff in a garbage bag and leaves, scooping up a stray item or 2 when Bell isn't looking.

Berger has had a bath and a shave. The ponytail and biker boots are still there. He's dressed in almost-new fatigues, has an M16 slung, some web gear, and sawed off double barreled shotgun. A crisscrossed bandolier of shotgun shells is draped over his chest.



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