General Platt and Colonel Kurz were marched to an office building that had been hastily converted into a brig of some sort. The open office floor was teeming with MP's, and enlisted men. As he walked, the General turned to Colonel Kurz and said, "You know how this works, Bull. Keep your damned mouth shut until I have had a chance to think, and we're lawyered up." Around them, officers of almost every rank were in cuffs and in the process of being photographed and processed. "Holy shit, Harv," Bull said.
"I think we are seeing history here, Bull. Again: Keep your mouth shut until we know what's going on here." The Colonel nudged his friend with an elbow and pointed with his nose at a desk nearby. "Oh how the mighty have fallen," Platt said, "looks like they collared General High Heels..." The Colonel rolled his eyes. His heart lifted to think that he was no longer part of the clown show anymore.
"Wow - all the clowns are here," Platt said. Nearby, at another desk, a morbidly obese, homely and very obviously lesbian officer sat in cuffs with a length of duct tape plastered over her mouth. "That's Carpet Munch Cunningham - she's the new head of special operations in Europe..." Platt said. "The Rangers will be livid at this shabby treatment of their officers," Bull quipped dryly. “Looks like they’re going through all the officers… I think I smell a purge, Harv.”
"The duct tape was a lovely touch on Cunningham," Platt agreed. "I wish I had my cell. I'd be taking pics all afternoon..." The guard detail threaded its way through the hive and passed through a guarded door, leaving it behind. Down a corridor, a few corners and stairs... and the squad came to another desk.
"General! Colonel! So glad you could make it!" A beaming captain stood up saluting. "Thanks a lot guys," he said, as he dismissed the guard detail. "Sorry about the cuffs, sirs. Let me get those off you - and if you'll be so kind as to go through those doors, you'll find coffee and donuts. The meeting begins shortly and all your questions will be answered."
Beyond the doors was a very large conference room, with about two dozen senior officers and some civilians that had the air of VIPs.
"Well - look at what the fuggin cat dragged in and barfed up...!!!" A Ranger officer clasped the general's arm and shook his hand, "It's good to see ya!" In a tone of mock anger, the the general responded. "Last time I saw you, you were sleeping in a mud puddle with some dead muzzies…”
"They weren't dead," the man said, "they were only sleeping! Tuckered out after a little rough horseplay..."
Bull Kurz left the men to their joshing and made his way to the coffee pot. He pulled a generously large dixie cup, filled it with brew, and grabbed three donuts. He realized that he hadn't eaten in over a day and a half and was famished. He sat down and ignored the other "guests' around him that socialized or made nervous small talk. He ate his donuts with his mind in neutral for a change. Fatigue was catching up with him and when he finished his donuts, his chin hit his chest and he was deeply asleep.
"Gentlemen!!! GENTLEMEN," the captain called over the hubbub, raising his voice, "General McMaster will be chairing the meeting and will join us in moments. In the meantime - please take your seats and come to order! Your questions will all be answered shortly!" Bull Kurz nearly shat his pants in alarm as he roused from his deep sleep. The coffee in front of him was lukewarm and he slammed it. He made a quick dash to the coffee pot and a few more donuts before the meeting kicked off. If donuts were all there were to eat, he would load up because he never knew when the next meal came. These days it could be quite a stretch.
General McMaster came in and acknowledged the salutes, and told the men to be seated. He paused, looking up at the ceiling. Was he praying....? Then he slowly looked round the table, making eye contact with each individual there. He picked up his notes, frowned... and pushed them aside.
"Good morning everyone. I am General Ian McMaster. Most of you know me but I see a few faces here. Welcome. I apologize for the way we were introduced." All the faces regarded him with stares and silence. The general stared back, and finally spoke again. "Guys, I simply don't know how to say this, so I apologize if there is no structure to this meeting. I have a short presentation of sorts. There is still a lot I don't know, There is so much to do. So I am just going to dive right in and this meeting will go where it will. Please allow me to finish my initial presentation, and then I will turn the meeting over to you for questions and clarifications. Does that work for you?" The gathered men nodded or mumbled in agreement.
"At 01:00 local, the Commander in chief was lawfully and legally relieved of his duties according to procedures set forth by law. Riots immediately broke out in Washington DC with looting, arson, murder and pretty much everything else. We saw much the same back during the BLM riots - just not to this degree. The turmoil and instability has spread to other cities. There are protocols for lines of succession, but the VP and several other key political figures started issuing illegal commands and orders and were summarily relieved as well. Others were assassinated. Washington is in chaos, and the military there has stepped in and assumed control for now, Martial law will be imposed and will be strictly enforced. The National Guard has been called out, and both the military and law enforcement have been in a pitched battle with elements of the citizenry for most of the day. Citizen casualties and fatalities are unknown at this time. A media blackout has been imposed, but several news outlets are actively violating that black out and stirring up even more resentment and animosities. You can imagine what is happening on social media. The situation is fluid and events continue to unfold."
Everyone knew things were bad at home and pretty much everywhere else, but the reality of the events tumbling out of control left them in stunned silence.
"The United States are no longer united. There is no sugar-coating it: the American military is unprepared for this level of rebellion and disorder. So unprepared - that not only can we not effectively protect our citizens... in many cases we cannot even protect ourselves. The vast majority of the blame for this state of affairs lies with our leadership. With guys like me... and with you."
A couple of voices rose to protest but the McMaster held up his hands for silence.
"Before we save our nation... we have to unfuck ourselves, gentlemen. I do not know what comes next, but I know that much. It should have been done long ago... but.... Unfortunately, we have a very, very big house to clean. Compounding our problems is the fact that we are in the middle of a small war. I think that we can all agree on the fact that we are losing it, and most of us can agree that we never should have been here in the first place. We are now on our own. I have been in contact with the Russians for the last three days. We have hammered out a cease fire that goes into effect at 17:00 today. At that time, we will begin withdrawing our troops, and falling back to the Polish borders. NOBODY is to fire or make any aggressive moves toward the Russians or the Ukes. Our job now is to get out in an effective manner. We will not leave any of our weapons, equipment, or personnel behind. Is that clear?" There were several sighs of relief and some mumbled assent round the table. "Keep in mind, gentlemen, this is a cease fire, not a peace treaty. You may have to defend yourselves, but the primary mission now is to pull back to the Polish border and hold there. Is that understood? Yes? Questions...?"
"General, you had said that we are finally going to unfuck ourselves," Kurz said, "Can we assume that we can discuss the 800 lb. gorilla in the room?"
"Which one?" McMaster asked. A ripple of soft laughter went through the room. But the colonel was not amused and deadly serious. "How about we start with the clowns, carnies, grifters and other cretins that have undermined the war effort, weakened our military, gotten countless people killed, including our own, and generally create strife and mayhem wherever they go?" The air sucked out of the room, and the temperature dropped by ten degrees.
"Ah. Kurz. I know you; you have a reputation of running your mouth at superior officers and sail close to the line of insubordination. Have a care, Colonel. I will NOT put up with that. Care to be more specific? And may I ask why you are out of uniform? Where are your rank insignias?"
"I speak plainly, General, and mince no words.I don't lie, I don't make false accusations or disrespect my commanding officers although I may disagree with them. As for being specific, perhaps we can start with General High Heels and his entourage? Finally...I am fresh out of the field. I was cleaning up for a meeting with General Platt when I was... ordered... to report here. I was not given time to fully dress."
McMaster looked like he had swallowed a turd. He opened his mouth to reply, and then shut it again. Kurz resumed talking. "I have no idea how many meetings like this we have all been to. Some brass hat REMF tells us how he is going to change the world and make the military work again...and we get transvestites in the showers and lesbians trying to rape or play stinkfinger with their subordinates -"
"Shut up, Bull." General Platt said. "General McMaster - Ian - I'm so sorry. I believe that Colonel Kurz may be suffering mild combat fatigue and-"
"Shut it." McMaster growled. "Both of you." The man was red as a beet but slowly regained his composure. Officers nervously looked at each other until the general finally sighed in resignation. Pulling his phone, he spoke loudly into it, so everyone could hear. "Captain, please proceed". Addressing the officers, he called for a 10 minute coffee break. " Grab a coffee, guys, take a squirt. I see we are out of donuts - I will have more brought in. 10 minutes guys - 10 minutes sharp. I have some very important stuff to cover. General Platt, please come with me so we can chat outside."
"Is everyone ready to resume? Excellent. Now - before the break Colonel Bull Kurz questioned my integrity, resolve, and intent to unfuck, or shall we say - reconstruct our military and bring about a useable service." The chill and silence returned to the room. Kurz himself appeared to be indifferent and unconcerned as he munched on another plate of donuts in front of him. General Platt pinched the bridge of his nose as if dealing with a migraine. "Understand gentlemen - this is now a top priority with all branches, in every theatre and corner of the US military world. It will take a long time to accomplish - but it starts TODAY."
"Colonel Kurz, look at me when I am speaking, gawddammit!" the general roared. Kurz finished chewing, swallowed, and slowly turned to stare back at the general, his face expressionless. McMaster bowed his head, struggling for calm. "I'm sorry, Colonel. Perhaps I have some combat fatigue of my own to deal with. I have some very, very unpleasant duties to perform And there is no use in delay. Can you get the lights, Colonel? Everyone, please, eyes on the monitor. You all need to see this."
A view of the courtyard came up on the large screen. A woman sobbed and wailed as she was dragged out to a post, her words lost by distance. Her hands were tied behind her by a squaddie, while a pastor murmured about last words. The woman moaned in fear, and cameras closed in briefly on her face - General High Heel's mascara ran as the black hood was placed on his head. The chaplain said a few words, and then backed away. Harvey Platt couldn't contain himself. "Jesus Christ, Ian! This shot will be heard round the world -"
The rifles barked, and the corpse slumped against its ropes. The men in the room looked stoically solemn, and a few looked mildly ill. "This is gonna be war, Ian," Platt said incredulously. The States are gonna be in flames by supper time tonight, and we could have a bloody mutiny on our hands if we aren't careful -"
Muffled around a large mouthful of donut, Bull Kurz said, "Now do Carpet Munch Cunningham!" McMaster grit his teeth in rage, but the drama in the courtyard was not over yet. The squaddies removed the body, and another squad marched out a portly, obese woman. Again the ritual was repeated, again the rifles barked, and Cunningham's corpse fell against its ropes. "You were saying, Colonel? That will be enough for today," McMaster said. "I realize some of this may have come as a shock, and we are going to break for a half hour. I want you all to think hard about what you saw, and take the time to put out any fires you have brewing at the office or with your commands. We reconvene in 30 minutes, gentlemen! Colonel Kurz! Do you still doubt my resolve or intent to unfuck this military?"
Kurz considered. "Maybe a little bit... but you are off to an excellent start, sir."
"A few clarifications are in order for the events you've seen here today, gentlemen. First, it was a poorly kept secret that General High Heels was also a prolific pedophile - as was our former president. The evidence against him is ironclad and will hold in an honest civilian court - same as it was for Cunningham. She liked to molest young service women, and all that is bad enough, but their incompetence and negligence were also what sealed their fate. They've ruined careers, played prominent roles in suicides of service personnel, and ginned up resentments and dissention with impunity. They did it with the full knowledge of many of you here. I knew what those two idiots were doing, for years. I heard the rumours, I connected the dots, I went along with the nudges and winks, and abided the veiled threats from my superiors if I didn't play ball. I should have been stood up in front of that firing squad along with half of you. Clownworld was not imposed on us, men... we accepted it. We went along to get along, we bowed out rather than start a fight. Or we kept our heads down until we could retire. Or we quit" McMaster shot a dirty look at Kurz, who flushed crimson. "Fact is, guys ... we let this happen. And now we lose wars to fig farming goat feltching moslems, or drunken Russians... that is on us too."
"Everyone here has done at least four deployments. A few of you have managed to advance in rank, but most are dead ended and passed over for promotion in favour of queers, pedos, trannies and psychotics with powerful political connections. You have all seen the result. The failure in Viet Nam. Then Iraq and Afghanistan. Now here in the Kraine. We fought and bled in every single one of those wars - and they WERE wars - and we lost all of them. Even though we won the battles they sent us to fight.
"Gentlemen, if you hear nothing else from me today - at least hear this: Duty, honour, and loyalty are a thing again. As are code of conduct, civility, integrity - all that stuff. It has to be in force, enforced and people have to see it work. The United States military is no longer a bad joke. It is no longer an asylum for failed liberal social experiments."
"You're looking awfully smug with yourself," Platt said, as he joined the Colonel at his table in the cafeteria. "Doesn't it bother you that the last guy that did what McMaster is doing was a communist that went on to murder millions of people?" Kurz shrugged and said, "What if history leaves out the necessity of it?"
"Adolf Hitler gave the Germans back their pride and purpose. The old narratives don't hold anymore Harv - we know Weimar Germany was every bit as corrupt, incompetent, and demented as we are today... perhaps even less so. Hitler was not entirely responsible for what followed - the men that set him up were culpable too. They didn't do their jobs. If they had, people wouldn't have paid any attention to the nazis. Stalin had the same issue. Hell's bells, even Saddam Hussein might have. When we fuck up, we get court martialed or killed on the battlefield. When The Anointed Class fucks up, we get killed, and they get promotions. While we fight and die, they corner kids or young women and rape them. Harv - you and I have been at war for most of our adult lives. I personally know of two times when you were almost killed - I was there and I saw it - and four more where I almost bit the big green one. We've buried our friends, our kids, and those that sided with us... for what? The glory of General High Heels? The fact is... I could kill 20 more just like him and that is just in this theatre - and sleep soundly tonight. Hundreds, maybe thousands more should just be discharged and mustered out because they can't cut the mustard. Wanna know what will slow down our withdrawal in the Kraine the most, Harv? The women. Most of them can't even pass the basic PT requirements. We HAVE to turn things around - or we can go along to get along as McMaster says... and watch it all fall apart. We can help guys like McMaster fix it... or we can sit on our hands and hope someone else does...and that someone could be infinitely worse than McMaster."
General Platt said nothing and stared at his coffee. He was not comfortable with things at all. The two men were interrupted by the young lieutenant that had detained them earlier in the day. "I am very sorry about that guys, but my orders..." Harv waved it away, "What can we do for ya son?"
The lieutenant passed over the Colonels insignias, and two pistols. "I dunno if you heard or not, Sirs, but civil war has broken out back home. There's a lot of confusion, contradictory reports, and pandemonium. I know as much as you do at this point. But as of now all officers on base are to be armed and are to enforce all military law and regulations."
Kurz stood and picked up the 9mm Sig. With easy, fluid movement he inserted the clip, racked the slide, and holstered it. "Well, Harv... everything is easy now. All you gotta do is pick a side and do what you've always done." The general glared at his subordinates as he followed suit with the pistols.
Bull Kurz pinned on his insignias and wondered what was to come next.