“I’m surprised nobody’s followed us,” Justin said, behind the wheel of a new Volvo. “We’re almost to I-5 already.”
Katie looked at him, then back at the road ahead. “I’m surprised they’re moving us out of SoCal. If things are really settled there, why’d we get hit?”
“I didn’t get the impression that the battle is over,” Justin said. “Just that there’s enough patriots there to finish the job.”
Katie chuckled. “What happened to the cynical cat I used to know?”
Justin glanced at her. “Still inside me, but it’s time to get behind a cause. Having my girlfriend abducted and raped over and over had an impact.”
“Oh,” Katie said softly.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No, I’m glad you did,” Katie said. “My mind is trying to push that experience back. I need to remember all of it. Every second of it. I need to keep the fires burning.”
They rode silently for a while, racing up the final hill of the 405, merging into I-5. They approached the big set of bridges in the Newhall pass.
“These always make me a little nervous,” Katie said.
“They’re tall,” Justin said.
“Not only that,” Katie said, gripping the seat as they went over the tall, thin concrete ribbon.
“The earthquakes,” Justin said, hands sweating around the wheel. “They fell down in the Sylmar quake and the Northridge quake.”
“Yep,” Katie said. “Remember that cop who drove over the southbound one and flew off the end?”
“Yes, I remember,” Justin said. “Sad.”
They both felt relieved as they hit the solid ground again.
“Wonder what kind of motor homes we’re getting?” Katie asked.
“Knowing these guys, they might be total battle-wagons.”
“I hope they’re comfortable, with nice beds and a little privacy,” Katie said.
“Me too,” he said, looking over at her. “Let’s not rush that, though. I know what you’ve been through.”
“Don’t get the idea that I’ll push you away because of that,” Katie said. “What happened to me and what we do together are totally different.”
“I know, but still,” Justin said.
“But still what?”
“I’ll be patient,” Justin said. “I’ll support you and love you. Whatever happens between us is okay. That’s all I’m saying.”
She was silent for a moment.
“You okay?” he asked.
“No,” Katie said. “At these thugs. We were taught that the UN was a benevolent organization. In school.”
“Yeah, I know,” Justin said. “This isn’t the first time they’ve had their way with the population they pretend to be helping. It’s just the first time they’ve pulled this garbage in a first-world country.”
“Why are they doing this?”
“They want us to submit and forget our country,” Justin said. “They want to kill nationalism and patriotism. They think ruling by fear works.” He chuckled.
“Well, the way they are going about it is pretty funny,” Justin said. “They’ve totally misjudged the American character. They forget why we exist.”
“You’re talking about the settlement of the new world? Escape from the European tyrants?”
“Yep,” Justin said. “We all learned about that in school, but it wasn’t real to me until this happened. It was something I’d argue against when I didn’t get it. Now I get it.”
“I hope our society gets back to normal pretty soon,” Katie said.
Justin’s phone buzzed. “Text message. Here, take a look. My code is 3372.” He handed the phone to her.
“Instructions,” she said. “Take I-5 to the 126. Then get on Commerce Center Drive and enter the industrial park there. We’ll be guided to the correct spot from the gate.”
“Cool, that’s not much further. We’re already at Magic Mountain. See it?”
She looked up from the phone and took in the massive amusement park on the left side of I-5. “I was there not too long ago. With Steve and a few other people.” Tears came to her eyes. “Steve. I hope he’s still alive.”
“Me too,” Justin said. “I’m glad they left, though. It was their best chance. Too bad Robbie and Morgan didn’t go with them.”
“If they would’ve, I’d still be in the rape farm,” Katie said.
“Shoot, that’s probably true,” Justin said. “There’s the ramp.” He took it, rolling onto the much smaller Highway 126.
“This road always reminds me of a record my mom used to play all the time when I was little. America. Ventura Highway.”
“I remember that song,” Justin said. “My dad had that one too.”
“There’s Commerce Center Drive already,” Katie said.
“Oh, yeah,” Justin said, moving quickly into the right lane and getting off. They followed the road as it curved, and passed several industrial buildings. “Hope those aren’t it.”
“The message said Industrial Park,” Katie said. “That’s it, see? Where those entrance gates are. Take a left on Witherspoon.
“Oh, I see,” Justin said, slowing to make the turn. “Yeah, this is an industrial park all right.”
“There’s Sparky, standing next to his car,” Katie said.
“Yep,” Justin said, pulling to the side. He rolled down the passenger side window. “Which building?”
“It’s the huge building at the end,” Sparky said. “Turn right just before it, on Ave Penn. There’s a gate to the left, just past the big building. You can’t miss it.”
“Great, thanks,” Justin said. “How many people are here?”
“You guys are the third car,” he said. “Just park in the back. The place is still locked up. Jules has the keys.”
“Got it,” Justin said. He drove forward.
“There’s a lot of stuff in here,” Katie said. “Lot of people around too. I’ll bet we wait until nighttime to split.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Justin said.
“You see Dana?”
“Didn’t notice,” Justin said.
“She was in the passenger seat, watching Sparky.”
“Oh,” Justin said. “Think she likes him?”
“No doubt about that.”
Justin chuckled. “This is crazy. Everybody is pairing up. Falling in love. What is it with that?”
“It is crazy, isn’t it,” she said. “Got you to move off the dime. I’ve been working on you for a while.”
She chuckled. “You guys are so clueless sometimes. Steve told you, didn’t he?”
Justin’s face turned red. “Yeah, but I liked you before that.”
“Then why didn’t you go for it? And don’t tell me it was because of Steve.”
Justin smiled at her. “I’m bashful around girls. Plus, you’re so beautiful. I always thought you were a little out of my league.”
“Oh, please,” she said. “I know other girls who were interested in you. Most of them are better looking than I am. There’s your turn. Watch the road.”
He nodded and turned right. The gate was about a block down. Justin turned in and parked next to another Volvo. He shut off the engine and looked at Katie.
“No way,” she said. “You’re mine now. I’m not going to advertise for any of those hussies.”
Justin laughed. “Hussies?”
She giggled. “I know, I’m bad.”
“Here comes Robbie and Gil,” Justin said, watching as they pulled next to them. “Think Gil is gonna move in on Karen?”
“From what I saw, she’s moving in on him.”
“Think so?” Justin asked.
Katie sighed. “Clueless.” She shook her head, smiling at him, then opened her door.
Justin smirked and got out too. “Wonder if we should leave the keys in this?”
“Think we might be towing them?” Katie asked.
“Maybe,” Justin said. “Not everything is towable.”
“Hey, Justin,” Robbie said. “We made it.”
“Hi, guys,” Morgan said.
“Hi,” Katie said.
“That’s a huge building, dude,” Gil said as he got out. He rushed around and opened Karen’s door for her. Justin and Katie shot each other a glance.
“Hope we didn’t lose anybody on the road,” Robbie said.
“I doubt if we did,” Justin said. “We probably would’ve heard about it already.”
“You’re probably right,” Morgan said. The three couples gathered by the back of Robbie’s car, watching the driveway. “Wonder how many cars we had. I was focused on getting out of there.”
“Yeah, that was wild,” Robbie said. “I don’t know how many in total. Four of us drove separate cars off the roof.”
“So, a total of five cars left the roof,” Justin said, twinkle in his eye.
Robbie laughed. Gil snickered.
“I couldn’t believe he did that,” Morgan said. “Driving a car off the roof like that.”
“It was even crazier from where I was,” Robbie said. “That sucker rolled out of the car right before it hit the wall. A split second later and he would’ve gone over the side in it.”
“Yeah, he’s pretty crazy,” Morgan said. “Figured that out the first night.”
“First night?” Karen asked.
“At my job,” Morgan said. She told Karen about the incident at the card club.
“That’s a great story,” Gil said.
“All true,” Morgan said. “I wonder if that’s why they took me to the police station?”
“They took you in because you’re beautiful,” Karen said.
“Yeah, that’s pretty obvious,” Justin said. “Same with Katie. Same with Karen.”
“I wonder how many other places there are like that?” Morgan asked. “I wonder how many others are going through it?”
“A lot, I’m afraid,” Robbie said. “Good reason to be in this fight.”
“I’m surprised some of the girls chose not to get involved,” Gil said.
“I’m not,” Katie said. “Not everybody has the strength to fight like this. Can’t blame them.”
“I wonder if any changed their minds after the fracas at the Volvo dealership?” Karen asked.
“Why did you decide to join, Karen?” Gil asked.
“They killed my father,” she said, eyes tearing up.
“That’s a good reason,” Katie said softly. “I just want revenge for what they did to me.”
“That’s part of it too, of course,” Karen said. “My mind is already starting to block what happened. I’m thankful for that.”
“I won’t let that happen,” Katie said. “I’m remembering it on purpose.”
“Me too,” Morgan said. “I’ll remember it when I’m killing them.”
Justin and Robbie glanced at each other.
“I’d let your memories bury themselves,” Gil said. “It’s self-protection. There’s plenty of reasons for joining the fight that aren’t potentially self-destructive.”
“You didn’t get raped,” Karen spat. Then she covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Gil said. “What happened to you guys is the main reason I’m joining. I just don’t want this to hurt you long term. My cousin got gang-raped at a party in Lomita years ago. She’s still messed up because of that. It’s tough. You need to heal. It’s not good to keep ripping the scab off. There’s enough reason to fight without doing that to yourselves.”
“He’s right,” Katie said softly.
“Look, here comes Jules,” Robbie said.
Justin snickered. “Jules and five women.”
“Interesting,” Morgan said. “Those are the women who didn’t want to join.”
“All of them?” Robbie asked.
“No, there’s two more,” Morgan said. “Don’t know where they ended up.”
“Who took the under aged girls?” Karen asked.
“Ted,” Robbie said. “He’s like a father. Always looking out for people. Nice to a fault.”
“Here comes Tex and Cody,” Justin said. “With women in the car, of course.”
“There’s the other two who weren’t going to join,” Katie said. “Wonder if they got placed with the most persuasive guys?”
Justin snickered. “You think Jules, Tex, and Cody can sweet-talk them into fighting?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised, frankly,” Morgan said.
“Stacey and Jordan are right behind them,” Robbie said. “With more women.”
“Those women are all joining,” Morgan said. “Tisha is crazy. She was giving the other girls a hard time for not joining.”
“I told her to shut up,” Katie said. “Didn’t go over well. Watch your back around her.”
“Which one are you talking about?” Gil asked.
“Long light brown hair, straight,” Karen said. “Piercing eyes. She’s got too many tattoos and piercings for my taste, but she’s pretty enough. She gets a little emotional, but she can be nice.”
Gil stared at her for a long moment.
“Uh oh,” Robbie whispered.
Karen noticed, face turning red. She took Gil’s arm. “Let’s go wait by the door. It’s in the shade.”
“Holy crap, Gil’s gonna have two women fighting over him,” Justin whispered.
Robbie laughed, shaking his head.
“Tisha hasn’t made any moves on him,” Katie said.
Morgan chuckled. “She hasn’t noticed him looking yet. Is that the kind of girl he usually goes after?”
“Pretty much,” Robbie said. “Karen would be unusual.”
“Hey, everybody, time go inside,” Jules said, walking towards the door of the massive building.
“Guess it’s time,” Robbie said, taking Morgan’s hand.
“Hey, there’s Ted,” Justin said, pointing.
“The young girls aren’t with him anymore,” Morgan said.
“He probably found someplace to leave them for their families to pick up,” Robbie said.
“Hope so,” Katie said.
They met at the door as Jules fumbled with the lock.
“Damn. I tell fix this. I kick some ass.”
“Here, partner, let me try it,” Tex said, moving to the door. Jules nodded and let go of the key. Tex wiggled it and turned, the cylinder moving. “That’s got it. Your key isn’t so hot. That’s probably all it is.”
“Push door open,” Jules said. “We get out of sight.”
“Yeah, somebody might think we’re running a white slavery outfit with all these beautiful women out here,” Tex said.
“Oh, please,” Tisha said. “Like to see somebody try to make a slave out of me.”
They moved into the cool, dark warehouse. Jules hit the lights.
“Holy crap, look at these things,” Justin said. “Eight. And look at all the Jeeps.”
“Betcha we’re towing those,” Gil said.
“These things are expensive,” Robbie said, eyes wide. “These are Prevost. Big diesels. Look at the tag axles.”
“You like, my friend?” Jules asked.
“Yeah,” Robbie said. “This cost somebody a few bucks. We pulling the Jeeps?”
“Yes, all set up. We have to go over systems. Complex. Designed by associate of Ivan’s.”
“Oh, you mean these aren’t just normal RVs?” Justin asked.
Jules chuckled. “You’ll see.”
“Ted, what happened to the girls?” Robbie asked as he walked up.
“I was able to get family members for each of them on the phone,” Ted said.
“Where you drop?” Jules asked.
“Magic Mountain,” Ted said. “We set up a meeting spot.”
“That’s convenient,” Morgan said.
“They didn’t want to leave,” Ted said. “They really wanted to join.”
“Maybe you should let?” Jules said.
“No way, man,” Ted said. “C’mon. We couldn’t do something like that. You know how rough this might turn out to be.”
“Okay,” Jules said. “You right. Like our units?”
Ted walked closer and looked at them. “Son of a bitch, these are Ji-Ho’s design, aren’t they? That crazy dude showed me his a while back.”
“Who’s Ji-Ho?” Robbie asked.
“Crazy Korean millionaire,” Ted said. “Former Korean special forces, then merc.”
“South Korean, I hope,” Gil said.
Jules laughed. “Ji-Ho probably gut you for comment like that.”
“Sorry,” Gil said.
“Hey, joke,” Jules said. “Ji-Ho good man. He fight in La Quinta last night. Destroy huge enemy depot and checkpoint. Screw them good.”
“Is he handling Southern California while we go up north?” Justin asked.
“He handle area between San Diego and LA County,” Jules said. “Come, I give tour of coaches. The all same, except exterior.”
“What should we be doing?” one of the women asked. She was a perky beauty with short blonde hair, about five feet tall.
“Ahh, Shelly,” Jules said. “You want look at units, or want relax? Food in office area to right, also coffee maker.”
“You can show me later,” Shelly said. “I’ll check out the kitchen.” She walked towards the door, several of the women following her, the rest walking over to where Jules was.
“She wasn’t going to join,” Katie said.
“She may change mind,” Jules said. “Hope so. I like.”
“You were working on them,” Ted said. “Thought so. How about the others?”
“Time tell, my friend,” Jules said. “How you do, Tex?”
“All but one, and she’s leaning,” Tex said.
“I knew it,” Morgan said under her breath.
Jules shot her a sly grin, and then opened the door on the first motor home. “Come on in.”
Half of the people who were bunched up outside followed Jules in. The rest stayed by the door, watching and listening.
“Each sleep six, eight in pinch,” Jules said. “Inside basic stuff. Bedroom in back with small bathroom. Main bathroom in hall. Kitchen, dinette, couch, two swivel chair, plus front seats swivel too.”
“How much does a rig like this set you back, partner?” Tex asked.
“Basic rig close to eight hundred grand,” Jules said. “Add two million more for upgrades.”
“What?” Stacey asked, eyes wide. Cody and Ted snickered.
“This is gonna be good,” Ted said. “Frigging Ji-Ho.”
“Okay, first of all, this coach is bullet-proof.”
“How bullet proof?” Ted asked.
“Small arms fire up to .50 cal on sides and back. Less on windshield without plate up.”
“Plate?” Robbie asked.
“Yes, in siege mode, plate come in front of windshield. Tell people outside to back away from wheels. I show.”
“We heard you,” Dana said from outside.
“Good,” Jules said. He sat in the driver’s seat and flipped open a panel. Then he pushed a button called Siege Mode. Electric motors whirred into motion.
“What the hell?” Karen said from outside, looking at the metal plates coming down around the wheels.
“Look at that,” Robbie said, watching the metal plate come up in front of the windshield, covering it up. A panel with a small LED screen came up from the dash.
“You gotta be kidding me,” Gil said, looking around. “What’s with the slits in the walls here?”
“Can shoot rifle out there, or slide closed,” Jules said.
“So, you’ve got a motorized pill-box,” Jordan said. “Firing rifles out slits in the side won’t help much. They’ll just bring something up that can punch a hole in this.”
Jules chuckled. “Watch.” He pushed another button on the console. The sound of an electric motor came out of the back end of the coach, and a sight reticle appeared on the LED screen, the picture changing to a narrower view. Jules used buttons on the back surface of the steering wheel to move the view of the sight camera around.
“What’s that you’re controlling?” Sparky asked.
“Look at roof on back of coach,” Jules said.
Ted laughed as Tex, Sparky, Robbie, Morgan, and Stacey went outside. Jordan walked up to Jules, looking over his shoulder, eyes getting wide.
“That’s not really a mini-gun, is it?”
Jules turned to him and grinned.
“Holy crap,” Gil said, standing next to Robbie and Justin. They looked at the mini-gun swinging around on the rear of the roof. “You know what one of those will do?”
Tex chuckled. “I should’ve guessed.”
They came back inside.
“What else does this thing do?” Robbie asked.
“Forward and rear machine guns,” Ted said. “They have a pretty limited range of motion. They’re designed for shooting at vehicles coming at you from the front or back while this baby is rolling.”
“Yes,” Jules said. Also night vision, motion sensors, enhance communications capability. Battle station.”
“You’ve seen this before, I take it,” Tex asked, walking up to Ted.
“Ji-Ho took me out in his about eight months ago,” Ted said. “We were someplace where we could play with the mini-gun. Cut an old car nearly in half with that thing. They use ammo kinda quick.”
“Much ammo on board,” Jules said. “Also other supplies in storage compartments. Mortars, RPGs, grenades, M60s, M-16s, ammo, mines.”
“Geez,” Tex said. “Why didn’t we use these in SoCal?”
“Not ready in time,” Jules said. “Ji-Ho has his. Prototype.”
“This is pretty amazing,” Justin said. “We could roll up to a checkpoint and splatter it all over the place.”
“That idea, kid,” Jules said. “Stand back, I put back to normal. We go over loading guns and other stuff tomorrow. Now rest, eat, relax. Food in fridge. We cook.”
“We staying in here overnight?” Tex asked.
“Yes,” Jules said. “We safe here.”
“If nobody followed that long line of Volvos,” Sparky said.
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
Copyright Robert Boren 2016