The American Border Patrol service was, aside maybe from the City and District Police´, the biggest non-military armed entity in the Nation. That was with a good reason, because to the north the 'longest defended border in the World' needed to be at least semi-secured even though no one was kidding himself about sealing it completely. To the south the Mexiand border was more easily secured but it was still a major effort, and the Border Patrol services were happy that they were supported by the home-defence Army units. Right now the six men manning this particular crossing, one of only three opposing British Columbia, were looking out of the window of the drab little Office they were cramped in and watched as a group of Military Officers was making best friends with an equally big group of men wearing strange and unfamiliar uniforms.
Intellectually they knew that these were a mix of Canadian and British Officers, but the most the Americans at this post usually saw during their three-day shift was the daily RCMP patrol that was driving past the post on a road half a mile beyond the Canadian border. The younger ones among the border guards eyed the American military men with envy, like most of the ABPS men that weren't too old for military service they had some disability that kept them from the ranks.
The American reception committee was comprised of two each from the Army, Navy and Air Force, joined by a band from the 52nd Infantry Brigade that spent several minutes with playing the anthems of all the nations involved, and the oldest man among the border guards who had already served with the Customs Service when there had been still large-scale smuggling of boot-leg Canadian Whiskey across the border and noticed that the band seemed reluctant when they had to play 'God save the Queen'.
The highest-ranking American present, a full Army General (and the Commander of the North-Western Sector of Forces) climbed up a hastily erected podium that was draped in American, British and Canadian flags and made the usual speech about friendship between nations and death to the enemy, followed by the Canadian Air Force Officer who led the Allied delegation. The ceremony wasn't very expansive but still lasted almost half an hour before a long Army bus painted in the dirty brown inherited from the US Army and the Allied Officer filed in one after another and the Border Patrol men noted that a Royal Navy Commander, the last one in, hesitated for a second and looked downwards on the road they would take towards Fort Teller. After three seconds he turned his head emphatically and stepped into the bus.
Felix felt that his stomach twirled, but he knew that it was best to keep his ancestry from the Reds as long as possible, as he and Ian agreed. If they were to make contact with however wanted to talk to HM Government they needed every edge they could get.
The traces of American Accent that remained in Felix' voice were barely noticeable even if one knew him as well as Ian and Sandra did, in fact these days he spoke more with an accent that most people would see as a mixture between a West Country and London one, putting this down to years and years in the Andrew and work in London where it was custom to speak the Queen's English.
“So, anything special?” came the voice of the ranking Officer in the delegation and the only one among the Officers knowing the real mission of the two Naval Officers that had joined them at such short notice.
“Nothing yet, Air Marshal.” Felix replied as he tore his eyes away from the countryside and looked at the round face of Air Marshal William 'Billy' Bishop who, taking time off from his duties with the recruitment efforts for all the Canadian services. It was a political compromise. The Canadians had at first been somewhat perturbed that the Americans had again circumvented Ottawa and dealt directly with London, and so it had been decided that the senior Allied Officer had to be Canadian, the higher the profile the better.
For Felix the last two hours had been a trip down memory lane like he hadn't experienced since talking to Donovan in London some months ago and he had instantly pegged the Red General as someone probably coming out of the Middle-Western states, likely Iowa or something thereabouts and wished he could make a side-trip of his own. Even though they hadn't been given an official schedule yet Colorado Springs was likely not on the list. Felix yearned to see his home at least once more in his life and it pained him to be so near and yet so far from Cheyenne Mountain.
“So, which part are you from, Commander?” Bishop asked and Felix was startled that his face was this easy to read.
Bishop smiled and glanced at the driver who was most certainly not working for APA Supply and Logistics, saying: “Don't worry, Commander. Your secret is safe with me. That look on your face is one I see at least twice a day when I recruit for the Eagle Units and yours is a good one.”
“Colorado.” Felix said with a low voice, like most Expats refusing to use the new internal Divisions the Americans had adopted.
“Colorado Springs, Sir.”
Bishop said no more and instead turned back towards the others.
“Do you notice something odd?” Ian asked, and Felix really looked outside with a professional eye for the first time, and it didn't take him long to catch on to what Ian meant.
“You're right...” he replied and saw that they were clearly being driven on a route that gave them the maximum exposure to what the Reds wanted them to see, as there was a suspiciously high number of units going the other way along this road. Felix had never been to Washington State but he knew that Seattle was the next harbour of any useful size and going north was not the direction you had to go in to get there.
“Bloody hell....” Felix said and realized that he had somehow expected one of the old military parades his father had taken him to when he was little, totally forgetting that this wasn't the United States any more, this country now had more in common with the Soviets than with a Democratic Power like the Empire.
“Well, they sure know how to put on a show.” Ian said and leaned back in his seat.
It was true, and about to get even better. The Americans had realized that the British would see and evaluate the equipment, training and look of the American Military by their own standards and were painfully aware that the British were unlikely to be impressed if they were merely shown an M4 driving past on a road, so two Tank Brigades had been taken out of the normal training rotation and had spent the last six days polishing every piece of equipment to almost mirror quality and were now parading past the Allied Officers at a pace and with a precision that would be fitting for the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
They spent near three hours in the buses, and while refreshments were handed out, Ian noting the absence of the supposed American staple drink of Coca Cola, which Felix didn't honour with more than a mockingly angry glance at Ian.
The first stop was about half-way between the border crossing and Fort Teller, roughly an hour later. They filed out of the buses and were told that from here on out they would be flying wherever they went. Ian was all the happier, because, as he told Felix, the seats were about as comfortable as the one he'd been graced with during his school days every Sunday morning.
Watching with a mixture of amusement, curiosity and diplomatically feigned interest the two and the rest of the Allied delegation were subjected to what was for all intents and purposes a parade where the combat vehicles were driven past them, and they were being told that they would see more demonstrations and so on over the next few days.
Still being a sailor at heart, Felix was more interested in visiting the Naval Base at San Diego which he knew had to be on the list being that it was thought to be the biggest base on the West Coast and the home of the American Pacific Fleet when it was not based at Pearl Harbour. He knew that Ian felt the same, and so they suffered through a procession of vehicles that was admittedly impressive but different from how it would have looked in Britain. For one the Allies did not field any Half-tracks and the Reds seemed to be using theirs for everything, even more so than the Germans, with everything from quad .50s, almost identical to the ones used by the Allies but extremely rare in the American Forces, to light field guns.
The biggest surprise however was the procession of tanks that followed. There weren't that many, as after all what Tanks the Americans had were likely to be sitting around for the most part. It was an open secret that the American Marine Divisions all had an organic Tank Battalion but that was about the extent of the Armoured Warfare that the Imperial General Staff expected the Americans to have if they were intent on hopping across the Islands towards Japan, and that didn't make the Allied Officers any more inclined to believe the American boasts about their newest Heavy.
Still, at least the Japanese were about to be squeezed from two sides and that was making the jobs of everyone except themselves easier.
“Tell me,” Ian asked one of the American attendants who officially were merely there to answer any questions the members of the delegation might have, “how many of those do you expect to build a month?”
“I can't tell you that off hand.” the man replied in a broad Mississippi accent, “but you must understand that we have just started series production.”
Ian at least suspected that this wasn't true, but then again from what he'd read between the lines during the pre-mission briefings the SIS and the CSIS had next to no sources at all in the American Tank Arsenals south of the Great Lakes and along the central rivers, estimating the actual strength of the American land forces was hard.
'No surprise there then.' Ian thought and said no more for the moment.
Later, in the Hotel they had been assigned to and that had clearly not seen much traffic in the last few years Ian couldn't help but feel watched wherever he went. It was almost certain that the rooms were bugged and he and Felix had agreed before setting off that they had to assume being overheard unless they were totally alone.
“So, how was it today?” Ian asked as he joined Felix with a glass of what seemed to be genuine Kentucky Burbon (no ice) in his hand.
“Different.” Felix said and that told Ian everything he needed to know. They had no formal code to use but that didn't matter as they knew each other well enough to be able to read the other without it, so both knew that the other hadn't been contacted.
Ian knew that Felix was unsure about the point of what they were doing here with nothing more than a rough idea where and when they would be contacted and none at all by who it might be. They had talked about this at length on the plane over the Atlantic and were agreed that being vigilant from the start was the way to go.
“And the rest?”
Felix half-turned and glanced at Ian before stepping out on the balcony overlooking the small town of Cascade Falls, some six miles from Fort Teller.
“Better than I expected actually, and I am genuinely looking forward to this.”
It was true, but there was something else, a tiny flicker of something deeply hidden away in his mind. He suspected that not even Ian knew this, but he knew that this would be his last and utterly final goodbye to a Country and to a home that was no more.
Comments, questions, rotten Tomatoes?
 The term brainstorming is some ways off yet.