2034, Part IV: The Spratly Islands Ambush

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However by late afternoon, there was nonetheless no signal of the People.

Ma Qiang was on the video teleconference once more, updating Minister Chiang as to the disposition of his forces, which at that second have been deployed in a racetrack formation extending over dozens of nautical miles. As Ma Qiang spoke of present situations at sea, Lin Bao glanced surreptitiously at his watch.

“Why are you your watch?” snapped Minster Chiang, interrupting the briefing.

Lin Bao felt his face flip purple.

“Do you’ve gotten some place else to be?”

“No, Comrade Minister. Nowhere else to be.”

Minister Chiang nodded again towards Ma Qiang, who continued on along with his briefing, whereas Lin Bao settled exhaustedly into his chair. His carpool had left fifteen minutes earlier than. He had no concept how he would get residence.

 

The cellphone rang. “Are you up?”

“I am up now.”

“It is dangerous, Sandy.”

“What’s dangerous?” he requested Hendrickson, swallowing the dryness from his throat as he rubbed his eyes, his imaginative and prescient slowly coming into focus so he might learn the digital show of his alarm clock.

“The Ford and the Miller, they’re gone.”

“What do you imply gone?”

“They acquired the drop on us, or shut us down, or I do not even know find out how to describe it. Experiences are nothing labored. We have been blind. After we launched our planes, their avionics froze, their navigation programs glitched out and have been then overridden. Pilots could not eject. Missiles would not hearth. Dozens of our plane plunged into the water. Then they got here at us with every part. A provider, frigates and destroyers, diesel and nuclear submarines, swarms of unmanned torpedo boats, hypersonic cruise missiles with whole stealth, offensive cyber. We’re nonetheless piecing all of it collectively. The entire thing occurred center of final night time … Christ, Sandy, she was proper.”

“Who was proper?”

“Sarah—Sarah Hunt. I noticed her weeks in the past after I was in Yokosuka.” Chowdhury knew that the board of inquiry had cleared Hunt of all culpability within the Battle of Mischief Reef and the lack of her flotilla, however he additionally knew the Navy had wished to consign her defeat to a fluke. That may be far simpler than taking a tough take a look at the circumstances that led to it. It might now be inconceivable for the Navy—or the nation—to disregard a catastrophe on this scale. Thirty-seven warships destroyed. Hundreds of sailors perished.

 

“How did we do?” Chowdhury requested tentatively. “Did our long-range air rating any hits? What number of of theirs did we sink?”

“None,” stated Hendrickson.

“None?”

The road went silent for a second. “I’ve heard that we would have scored a success on their provider, the Zheng He, however we did not sink any of their ships.”

“My God,” stated Chowdhury. “How’s Wisecarver reacting?”

He was up now, his bedside lamp on, entering into every leg of his trousers, which he’d draped over the again of a chair. He’d arrived at these bland quarters within the embassy’s guests’ annex two days earlier than. Whereas Chowdhury dressed, Hendrickson defined that the information hadn’t but leaked to the general public: One of many advantages of the blackout the Chinese language had employed was that it allowed the administration to manage the information, or at the least to manage it till the Chinese language used that data towards them. Which that they had, surprisingly, not but achieved.

Hendrickson defined that the White Home had succumbed to panic. “Jesus, what is going to the nation say?” had been the president’s response on listening to the information. Trent Wisecarver had contacted NORAD and elevated the risk degree to DEFCON 2, with a request to the president to raise it to DEFCON 1. In an emergency assembly of the Nationwide Safety Council he had additionally requested preemptive authorization for a tactical nuclear launch towards the Zheng He Provider Battle Group, offered it could possibly be discovered and focused. Remarkably, his request had not been rejected outright. The president, who solely days earlier than had wished to de-escalate tensions, was now entertaining such a strike.

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