Jules snickered as the intense stream of .50 cal fire cut into the line of Gaz Tigrs on the road.
“My God,” Shelly said, watching from behind Jules’s seat. Sparky was in the passenger seat manning the forward machine guns, taking out the few enemy fighters able to flee out of the ruined vehicles.
“Shelly, text to hold fire on mini-guns,” Jules shouted. “Save for assault on base. These done.”
Jules drove forward as she sent the text, pushing one of the ruined vehicles out of the way with the massive coach, clearing a space for the others to follow.
“Well, they obviously knew we were coming,” Sparky said. “And they knew what direction, too.”
“Yeah, that worries me,” Dana said from further back in the coach, M60 at the ready. “Seems like a trap.”
“We foiled it, if that’s what it was,” Sparky said. “Keep your eyes open. I expect an attempt to broadside us.”
“Watch for nail strips,” Shelly said to Jules.
“Yes, watching,” Jules said, glancing back at her. He made a right turn on 10th street, the Civic Center building coming into view.
“They’ve fortified it,” Sparky said. “See the sandbags?”
“Machine gun nests, no?” Jules said. “Shelly, text BearCat on my phone. In my shirt pocket.”
Shelly nodded and reached into his pocket to get it, locking eyes with him for a split second. He smiled at her, then focused on the road as they cruised past storage tanks and equipment yards.
“They think those sand bags are gonna help them,” Sparky said. “Are the other rigs hitting from the front?”
“Yes,” Jules said. “One pull up on Reed Way and lob mortar shells.”
“Who?” Sparky asked.
“Green coach,” Jules said. “Ted.”
“Good,” Sparky said. “Get ready.”
The four coaches pulled into the field behind the parking lot, all the mini-guns firing, splattering the machine gun nests along the back wall of the building. Then the BearCats rolled into view, joining in with their CROWS, hitting enemy fighters who were running for their lives.
“Look, some of those are Islamists, not UN Peacekeepers,” Sparky shouted, firing at them with the forward machine guns. Then there was a pop off to the right. The parking lot right behind the building exploded.
“Whoa!” Shelly shouted, eyes wide. “They missed.”
“Tell Ted he hit ten yards behind building,” Sparky said. “Use my phone.”
Shelly nodded and sent the text as Sparky fired again, hitting a Gaz Tigr that was rolling away from the building.
“I can’t stop that Tigr with this gun,” Sparky shouted.
Jules smiled and brought up the mini-gun, practically cutting the Tigr in half before their eyes, two of the other coaches joining in.
There was another pop, and the back half of the building exploded, glass flying in all directions.
“Nice,” Dana said, watching. “Look out, people running out of the back door. See them?”
Sparky nodded and fired with the forward guns. “Get ready with the M60. My field of fire doesn’t go far enough.”
“On it,” Dana said, opening fire, the belt of the M60 chattering as she strafed the parking lot, dropping all of the fleeing Islamists and UN Peacekeepers. Then there was another pop, and the building was hit again, knocking down the back walls.
“That’s gonna do them in,” Jules said. “Nice, no?”
“Yeah,” Sparky said.
The BearCats moved in closer, firing their weapons through the broken walls. Machine gun fire came from the front of the building, along Cherry Avenue.
“That the enemy trying to fight their way out?” Shelly asked.
“Nope,” Sparky said. “That’s mini-gun fire. We’re stopping them.”
The machine gun fire intensified, and some of the BearCats moved around the front as another mortar round took flight. It exploded into the broken building with a whoosh, flame rising and spreading all over the area.
“Geez,” Shelly said. “That’s not a good way to go.”
“No, it not,” Jules said. “Better them that us, no?”
There was silence for several minutes, and then law enforcement officers arrived in full body armor, carrying M16s and shotguns, rushing into the ruins. There were a few shotgun blasts, and then silence.
“It’s over,” Sparky said. “Roadblock?”
“Ten to one they’ve already left,” Dana said. “You know they heard this.”
“Stay sharp,” Sparky said.
“Yes, Sparky right,” Jules said. “They tried one trap. Maybe more. We should reload guns right now.”
“I’ll get on that,” Dana said.
“Me too,” Sparky said. “Shelly, be ready on that second M60, okay? Keep your eyes open.”
Shelly nodded and picked up the heavy gun, watching out the windows. Suddenly bullets began to pelt the side of the coach.
“Fighters on foot,” Jules said. “Send text. Broadcast to everybody.”
Shelly sent the text, then caught about thirty men rushing in from the left, from behind some storage tanks. “Get ready!” She pointed the M60 out the gun slit on that side and fired, taking down most of them.
“The mini-gun is reloaded,” Sparky said as he rushed back out. “Who’s shooting at us?”
“Look like Islamist fighters,” Jules said. “Man M60, they come from sides.”
“There’s another group there,” Dana said, pointing from the right-hand side of the coach. The enemy was coming at them in a full run, AK-47s blazing, Dana firing frantically. “There’s too many of them!”
The other coaches joined in, and the police officers rushed over, dropping to prone position and firing as the BearCats came over to help. Then there was different gun fire. Single shots, sounding like they were coming from all directions.
“What the hell is that?” Sparky shouted.
“It citizens, look,” Jules said, big grin on his face. Suddenly there were hundreds of people rushing in, firing hunting rifles and shotguns. “They wake up.”
“Holy crap, look at all of those guys,” Dana said.
“Be careful not to hit them!” Shelly shouted.
“Hold fire, they got this,” Jules said, watching in amazement.
The Islamists tried to find cover, running around in a panic as a thick curtain of lead flew at them.
“This what we start,” Jules said. “This what we need. Go USA!”
The battle only lasted another four or five minutes. The police officers emerged from their vehicles, rushing out to meet the citizens.
“Come, we go chat,” Jules said. He drove the coach to the back of the parking lot and parked, the other coaches on their side following suit.
Jules got up and left the coach, taking Shelly by the hand and helping her down. Sparky and Dana joined them. Tex was already outside with Karen. Ted trotted over from the right-hand side.
“Not bad, no?” Jules said to Tex.
“That’s an understatement, partner,” he said. “Let’s go talk to the cops and the leaders of the citizens.”
“Yes,” Jules said. He started to walk towards them with Tex.
“Wait for me,” Shelly said, rushing after them. Dana and Sparky joined them too. The large group of citizens and police were gathered around the BearCats, several officers standing on top of the armored vehicles watching the nearby buildings and streets.
“Are you Jules?” asked one of the officers.
“Captain Jenkins?” Jules asked.
“Yep,” he said, smiling. “Glad to meet you.”
“Thanks for help. Where did citizens come from?”
“That’s a good question,” Captain Jenkins said.
“We’re all locals,” said a large man with a red beard and long, dark brown hair. “Bill Callahan.”
“Glad you showed up when you did,” Captain Jenkins said.
“Yes, me too,” Jules said. “You had enough of these thugs, no?”
“They kidnap our women and girls, and push people around,” Bill said. “This has been coming for a while. We’ve been organizing. Your arrival allowed us to jump in a little earlier than planned.”
Shelly was trembling, and Jules noticed. “Hey, you okay?”
“Sorry,” she said. “It brings back what we went through.”
“She was held hostage by these thugs too, wasn’t she?” Captain Jenkins asked.
“All of the women with this group went through that,” Sparky said. “We were lucky. We rescued them.”
Shelly was still trembling. Jules put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She turned her face against his side and cried softly.
“Did you get your women back?” Dana asked.
“No,” Bill said, a grim look on his face. “We don’t know where they are.”
“Oh, God, I hope they weren’t in that building,” Ted said.
“No, we’ve all been in there,” Bill said. “We had to go in to pay special taxes, and to check in if we were going to alter our daily routine. There’s no place to hide in that building.”
“Pigs,” Jules said, still holding Shelly against him. She was settling down, and pulled away, locking eyes with him and mouthing thank you.
“Anybody know about that roadblock?” Tex asked. “We might have more work to do before we can get on our way.”
Captain Jenkins chuckled. “We rolled through there on our way here. Tried out the CROWS. They’re all dead on the road.”
“Wonder how they knew which way we’d be coming?” Sparky asked.
“That good question,” Jules said. “We need better intelligence. I’d like to help citizens get women back.”
“So would I, partner,” Tex said.
“We’ll work with the citizens on that,” Captain Jenkins said. “We’ll have to work together to keep these guys from coming back anyway.”
Bill smiled and shook the Captain’s hand. “Cue music. This is the start of a beautiful friendship.”
Captain Jenkins smiled, and several of his men clapped, citizens joining in.
“Do you guys have to leave right away?” Bill asked.
“Afraid so,” Jules said. “Boss have plans for us in Bay Area.”
Sparky chuckled. “Ivan.”
Bill’s eyes lit up. “You know that guy? I love that guy. I want to see more of his videos.”
“You shall, my friend,” Jules said. “Ted, where other coaches?”
“In a field on the other side of El Camino Real,” Ted said. “Should we space ourselves again, or go in a caravan?”
“Caravan,” Shelly said quickly. She covered her mouth. “Sorry, it’s scary being alone after what happened.”
“I agree,” Jules said. “We caravan. Much harder to take us then. Enemy already know we on way.”
“All right, let’s move out, then,” Sparky shouted.
“Good luck to you,” Jules said. “We be back by later, maybe we meet again, no?”
“I’d love it,” Bill said.
“Me too,” Captain Jenkins said.
The crowd dispersed.
“You better?” Jules asked, looking down at Shelly as they walked.
“I’m scared to death, but it’ll be okay,” she said.
“Good,” Jules said. He turned to the others following him. “Everybody reload before we take off.”
“I’ll text the coaches on El Camino Real and tell them that,” Shelly said, moving her phone in front of her face.
Sid drove the Jeep down Barrett Lake Road, trying to keep up with James and Tyler.
“They’re cranking along pretty good,” Sam said.
“Yeah. Hope they’re careful. Wouldn’t want to run smack dab into an enemy roadblock.”
Sam looked at him and nodded in agreement. “Some of these curves are blind as hell.”
Sid nodded as they went around one of those, feeling his pulse quicken until he was through it and could see the other Jeeps in front of him.
“Does this place we’re going have a name?” Sam asked.
Sid chuckled. “No, not really. It’s beyond a place called McAlmond Canyon.”
“It’s a wasteland,” Sid said. “With lots of canyons to hide out in.”
“Canyons aren’t always good. Canyons have ridges overlooking them.”
Sid nodded, grim look on his face.
“You’re expecting them to be dead, aren’t you?” Sam asked.
“I’m afraid they will be,” Sid said. “Hoping against hope that they aren’t. This tribe deserves a break.”
“True that,” Sam said. “Look, they’re slowing down.”
“About where I expected,” Sid said. He watched as the first of the Jeeps turned off the road, heading down a steep embankment to a dry wash below. The second Jeep followed.
“Here we go again,” Sam said, gripping the hand hold as Sid went over the shoulder and down.
“This is kid’s stuff,” Sid said, glancing over at him. They followed the two Jeeps down the wash, then out of it and over to the side of the growing hills, hiding canyons every few hundred yards. The terrain was classic desert, sandy with rocks and small plants. Evidence of flash floods, shot up cans, and other junk was laying around.
“People leave a lot of mess, don’t they?”
Sid chuckled. “Yep. Can’t say I always took everything out. I’ve gotten smarter as I’ve grown older, at least.”
“Wonder how far back this is gonna be?”
“Miles,” Sid said. “I hope, anyway.”
“Does this land belong to the tribe?”
“Not here, but beyond another few miles it does,” Sid said. “Or at least they consider it theirs. It’s old land. Who knows how honest the government was with them back then.”
“Yes, white man speak with forked tongue.”
“Shut up,” Sid said, laughing.
They continued for nearly half an hour, going about twenty miles per hour. The terrain was uneven but not difficult.
“Haven’t seen any tracks,” Sam said.
“I’m sure they did something about those,” Sid said.
“They have fires and such?”
Sid laughed. “Wood fires? Probably not. Coleman stoves, yes. They probably have somebody doing supply runs every week or so.”
“Oh, geez, there’s more of those damn rock formations,” Sam said, pointing to the right.
“Don’t worry, we won’t have to go through that,” Sid said. “Anything else you’re scared of that I need to know about?”
Sid looked over at him and laughed. “Okay, you got me with that one.”
“You know I’m kidding. I was afraid of losing Connie, not of having her.” His eyes started to mist over.
“I know, it still hurts,” Sid said. “Probably always will some. I really don’t like leaving Yvonne alone in times like this.”
“You could’ve brought her, you know.”
“She wanted to come,” Sid said. “The others talked her out of it.”
“Tyler and James, mostly,” Sid said.
“You upset about that?”
“No,” Sid said. “I understand, I just don’t like it.”
“They’re making a sharper turn, towards that big formation to the left,” Sam said.
“Probably it,” Sid said. They followed the two Jeeps around the hill growing out of that side, and back into a deep canyon.
“They aren’t here,” Sam said. “I can see just about everything.”
“So it would appear,” Sid said, grim expression on his face. He pulled up next to where Tyler and James had parked, and they got out. James was standing outside of his Jeep.
“This where you expected them?” Sam asked.
“Yes,” James said, his brow furrowed. “Don’t even see a trace.”
Tyler got out of his Jeep, Ryan with him.
“No sign of them,” James said.
“That’s good,” Tyler said.
“Why’s that good?” Sam asked.
“That means they had time to clean up before they left,” Tyler said. “They moved on purpose.”
“I didn’t see any vehicle tracks coming this way,” Sam said. “Doesn’t look like they got chased out of here.”
“I’ll check for a message,” Tyler said. “Don’t worry, guys, they’re probably fine. Wait here.” He walked up towards the rising hill to the left, disappearing into the brush.
“He’s got a lot of confidence,” Sam said.
James looked over at him. “I’ll bet there wasn’t enough water here.”
“There was water here?” Sam asked.
Sid chuckled. “There are springs all over the place. We’ve been in a drought. The one here might have dried up.”
“How come he’s going off on his own?” Sam asked.
“To hide the message spot,” Ryan said.
“Oh,” Sam said.
Tyler trotted back, smiling. “They went to the second alternate location. The bad news is that it’s about four hours’ drive, and we’re gonna run out of daylight.”
“Shoot, how are we gonna get word back to the others?” Sam asked.
“Don’t worry,” Tyler said. “I talked to Kaitlyn and Megan before we left. I told them that if we weren’t back today, we were going to the alternate location, which would keep us here overnight.”
Sam chuckled and shook his head. “I always underestimate you guys. That’s a huge mistake.”
Tyler chuckled. “We keep things close to the vest. We have to, especially now.”
“We’d better get moving,” James said.
“Yeah, we’re burning daylight,” Sid said.
James snickered and shook his head. “You a cowboy or an Indian?”
“You know what I am,” Sid said. “Always wanted to say that.”
Sam shook his head. “Let’s go.”
The Jeeps took off again, heading out of this canyon and along a gigantic dry wash.
“You know where this second place is?”
“Yeah, it’s an abandoned mine, with a small ghost town next to it,” Sid said. “I know there’s water there.”
“Aren’t ghost towns a draw for campers and hikers?”
“Yeah, but this one is really far out. You definitely need four-wheel-drive to get to this place, unless you walk in or ride a horse. Remember that this area is illegal for off-roaders now.”
“Wonderful. Any more big rocks to climb?”
“Not that I know of,” Sid said. “Just a whole lot of open ground with no road. We’re going to need that extra gas we brought along to get back home from this little jaunt.”
“I take it you’ve been to this place before.”
Sid smiled, watching the road in front of him. “Yeah, this place is cool. I’m almost glad we’re going.”
“Are you nuts?”
“I said almost glad,” Sid said. “Some of the old buildings were still standing last time I was here, and since they cut this area out for off-roaders, I’ll bet they’re still in pretty good shape.”
“It got a name?”
Sid thought for a moment. “You know, I’ve never heard anybody say. Probably does.”
Sam pulled his phone out to do a search on ghost towns. “Crap.”
“Zero service.” Sam said.
“Then I’m glad Tyler tipped off the girls about this. Wonder if those new battle wagons will be there by the time we get back?”
“Ji-Ho said three days,” Sam said. “So probably not.”
“You don’t look that happy about getting those.”
“They inspire too much confidence,” Sam said. “The kind of confidence that can get you killed.”
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 2017