Bugout! California Part 94 – Homecoming

“Look, there’s my people,” Kaitlyn said as Seth drove their battle wagon onto the Williams property. “My mom!”

“Oh, great, she’s here!” Seth said, a mixture of relief and nervousness filling him.

“Don’t worry,” Kaitlyn said, watching him. “She’ll like you. Trust me.”

“I’m not worried,” Seth said.

Kaitlyn chuckled. “I can read you like a book, sweetheart. It’s okay.”

“Now we can get married, can’t we?” Seth asked.

“When the rest of the people get here,” Kaitlyn said. “I want Erica here. She’s like my big sister.”

Seth smiled at her. “Okay. Hope they get here soon. I want you to be mine as soon as possible.”

“I’m already yours,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s just a formality.”

“You know men are more sentimental than women,” Seth said, eyes tearing up. “The act of committing to you formally is a real turn on for me.”

“Me too,” she said. “I understand what you’re saying.”

Seth did a K-turn in the coach and parked it, facing towards the exit, other coaches doing the same as they streamed in. Kaitlyn was out the door as soon as Seth shut down the engine, running towards the group of tribal women.

“Mom!” Kaitlyn cried, hugging her tight.

“Kaitlyn, I’ve missed you so much,” her mother said. “So glad you survived. Where’s your man?”

“Probably giving me a few minutes to say hello,” Kaitlyn said. “He’s a good man, mom. I love him so much.”

“Good, I was hoping. Is Megan still with her man?”

“Oh, yeah,” Kaitlyn said. “She’s on fire for Angel.”

“I wish her mother was still with us.”

“I know, mom,” Kaitlyn said. “Here comes Seth now.”

“Wow, he looks so white.”

“Be nice, mom,” Kaitlyn whispered.

“He’s handsome,” she said. “I have no disrespect. I’ve heard he’s a good man.”

“Hi,” Seth said, walking up. “I’m Seth. You must be Kaitlyn’s mom.”

“Anna,” she said, holding out her hand. “Good to meet you, Seth.”

“Likewise,” Seth said. “You raised quite a daughter.”

“She’s something, all right,” Anna said, shooting a grin at Kaitlyn.

“Mom,” Kaitlyn said.

“Oh, don’t take it the wrong way,” Anna said. “You know how much I love you, and how much I’m proud of you.”

“Hi, Anna,” Megan said, walking up with Angel. “This is Angel.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said.

“What a nice-looking couple you make,” Anna said. “Nice to meet you, Angel.”

“I wish my mom was still with us,” Megan said. “I miss her so much.”

“I know, honey,” Anna said. “I miss her too.”

Trevor drove their coach through the gate, following Ji-Ho’s coach. They parked next to each other, close to the house.

Ji-Ho bounded out of his coach, looking right as rain. Kaylee saw him as she came out with Trevor.

“Uncle, you look back to normal.”

“I tell you, that what happens,” Ji-Ho said. “I feel well for while, but have problems again later. Bad times come more often, but in-between still good.”

“Hey, honey, I’m going to see if I can fix the M19 turret,” Trevor said. “See you in a little while.”

“You’re climbing on top of that thing?” Kaylee asked.

“Yeah,” he said, heading for the ladder on the back. “Oops, better take my toolbox up there.” He went into the storage compartment and grabbed a small metal toolbox, then went up the ladder with it and walked up to the front turret.

“What’s he doing?” Seth asked as Kaylee walked over.

“Our M19 turret got hit in the battle,” she said. “He’s trying to fix it.”

“He’ll figure it out, I suspect,” Seth said. “This is Anna, Kaitlyn’s mom. Anna, this is Kaylee.”

“Nice to meet you, Kaylee,” Anna said. “You’re Ji-Ho’s daughter?”

“Niece,” Kaylee said. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yes!” Trevor said from on top of the coach.

“You fixed it?” Kaylee asked, walking towards the coach.

“I got to see this,” Seth said, walking in that direction. Kaitlyn joined him, taking his hand as they walked.

“What was it?” Kaylee asked, looking up at him from below.

“Bullet got stuck in the turret. It didn’t damage anything. Just a lucky shot.” He tossed the bullet down, Kaylee catching it and looking it over. She handed it to Seth.

“Wow,” Seth said. “This was a big slug.”

“I’m going inside to test, to make sure it’s working,” Trevor said. He put his tools back into the tool box and headed for the ladder. Kaylee went back there and watched him climb down.

“I’m going back over to my mom,” Kaitlyn said. Seth joined her. Ji-Ho was there, chatting with her.

“I see you’ve met,” Kaitlyn said.

“Yes,” Anna said. “He’s invited us to move into the house.”

“Good, it’s comfortable, and there’s plenty of beds,” Seth said.

“Yes, it’ll be nice for you, after being on the trail,” Kaitlyn said.

Ji-Ho’s phone rang. “Excuse me. Boss call, I must answer. Pick room upstairs in house. Settle in. Rest.”

“Thanks so much, Ji-Ho,” Anna said.

“Want me to show you around inside?” Kaitlyn asked.

“No, you don’t have to. I’ll check it out. You spend time with your man. I know it’s been crazy for you two.”

Kaitlyn nodded, and watched as her mom followed Ji-Ho onto the veranda and into the house.

“I think Ji-Ho kinda likes her,” Seth said.

“Yeah, I picked up on that too, but we know what his situation is,” Kaitlyn said. “C’mon, let’s go back to our coach and relax for a while.”

“Sounds good,” Seth said. “I didn’t mean that there was any romance there. Ji-Ho is married, even if he wasn’t so ill.”

“Oh, I know,” Kaitlyn said. “My mom’s worked as a nurse. I suspect she’ll be helpful to him as his disease gets worse.”

“She doesn’t have to do that,” Seth said.

“I know, but she will, and it’ll make her happy to serve,” Kaitlyn said. “Trust me on that.”

***

Karen and Tex walked away from the barn.

“You know what they were doing, don’t you?” Karen asked, her face still red.

“Enjoying each other,” Tex said. “Good for them.”

“She said I should make you happy,” Karen said.

“You are, just by being here with me,” Tex said.

“But you want more,” she said. “Don’t you?”

“We’ve already been over this,” Tex said. “When you’re ready. You’ve told me that you might be falling for me. That has me walking on cloud nine, you know.”

“I didn’t say might,” Karen said. “I said I was falling for you.”

“Oh,” Tex said. “Yes, I remember.”

“Good,” Karen said. “I wasn’t kidding.”

Tex looked at her for a moment, watching her red hair blow in the breeze, her eyes squinting slightly in the late afternoon sunshine. “You are so beautiful.”

“Oh, please,” she said. “I’m a mess. My hair is a tangle of split ends, and I haven’t had any moisturizer on my face for a month. And then there are the scars and bruises.”

“You think I care about any of that stuff?”

She sighed. “I guess I should just accept it and be grateful.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

Karen stopped and pulled Tex into her arms. “I know, honey. This is my stuff that I’m working through. I’m trying to feel like a desirable woman again. That can’t come from you. It has to come from inside me.”

“Okay,” Tex said, his arms around her waist. “I get it.”

“Good,” she said. “You hungry? I smell food at the house.”

“I could eat,” Tex said. They walked to the house together. Dana was just entering with Sparky.

“Is Jules still searching for Shelly?” she asked.

“They found each other,” Karen said. “They’ll be along in a little while.”

“Is it okay?” Sparky asked.

“I’d say so, partner,” Tex said.

“You mean she’s finally giving in?” Dana asked. “It’s easy to see how much she likes him.”

“I’ll let them talk about that,” Tex said.

“Smart,” Sparky said. “Let’s talk about something serious.”

Dana elbowed him, and everybody chuckled.

“Sorry,” Sparky said. “Didn’t mean that the way it came out. I want to know when the next mission starts. All the coaches are done as of earlier today.”

“Jules is supposed to get that info from Ivan,” Tex said. “I’m expecting tomorrow, though, just between us.”

“That soon, huh?” Dana asked.

“Yeah, I wish we had a few more days to relax,” Karen said. “This has been nice.”

“It has,” Dana said. “I don’t want to give up our privacy. We’ll be back to sharing our coach with the kids when we get on the road.”

Sparky shot her an embarrassed glance.

“What, did I embarrass you?” Dana asked. “Sorry. Don’t take it the wrong way. I just enjoy being with you, that’s all. I know you don’t want to be pressured.”

“We should talk about this alone,” Sparky said.

“Oh,” Dana said. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Karen and Tex shot each other a glance.

“Let’s go eat, and then maybe rest up for a while,” Karen said.

“Sounds good, little lady,” Tex said. He took her hand and they went inside.

“Holding my hand in front of the others?” Karen grinned at him. “You sure that’s a good idea?”

“I don’t care,” Tex said. “Do you?”

“No,” she said. “Fun to tease you about it, though.”

“Yeah, I figured. That smells good. Looks like brisket.”

“I’ll eat anything at this point,” Karen said. “I’m just happy to be here.”

“You are? Even though we’ve got battles coming?”

“You know what I’ve been through,” Karen said. “I never properly thanked you for rescuing me, you know.”

“Yes you have, and not another word about it,” Tex said. “Really.”

She shook her head yes, then reached up to his face and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. “I’ll always remember,” she whispered. “No matter what happens between us.”

Tears started forming in Tex’s eyes. He just nodded at her, and they got in line for the food. When their plates were full, they sat at a table with Ted and Haley. Sparky and Dana walked over. Robbie and Morgan were at the next table, chatting with Gil and Tisha.

“We still going after the target tomorrow?” Robbie asked.

“Don’t know yet,” Sparky said. “That’ll be up to Jules and Ivan. The coaches are all done, at least.”

“Yeah, and they’re impressive, too,” Morgan said.

“I’ll say,” Gil said. Tisha was sitting close, hand resting on his thigh as they picked through the remainder of their food.

“Aren’t you nervous?” Dana asked Sparky. He finished his mouthful of food and looked over at her.

“I’m nervous, but I’m also anxious to get it over with,” Sparky said.

“Yeah, me too,” Ted said. “Too much sitting around before a big battle isn’t good.”

“Where’s Stacey been hiding?” Robbie asked.

Haley snickered. “He’s been attached at the hip with Brianna constantly.”

“Lot of that going around,” Gil said, glancing at Tisha. She smiled at him.

They all focused on eating for a while.

“You about done, Tex?” Karen asked.

“I am,” Tex said. “You in a hurry?”

“I’m tired,” she said. “I don’t want to go back alone. Is that a problem?”

“Not at all,” Tex said. He got up and helped her out of her seat. They picked up their plates and silverware, taking them to the kitchen.

“That was good,” Karen said as they left the house. “I’m glad we’re alone again.”

“Me too,” Tex said, his arm going around her waist as they walked to the coach.

“Home sweet home,” Karen said, climbing the steps. Tex followed her up and shut the door behind them.

“It is our home, isn’t it?” Tex asked. He sat down on the couch and pulled off his boots, then grabbed the TV remote and switched it on.

“You want to watch TV?”

“No, I just want to sit a spell with some background noise,” he said. “I’m tired.”

“We should rest in the bedroom,” Karen said.

“The way I’m feeling right now, it might not be a good idea,” Tex said. “I’m pretty mushy.”

She chuckled. “Okay, do what you want. I’m going to change.” She walked into the bedroom. Tex watched her until she disappeared, and didn’t look away for a couple minutes, feeling the warmth of his feelings for her.

“My God, how I love that woman,” Tex muttered to himself.

“What was that?” Karen asked, standing in the bedroom doorway naked. Tex’s eyes got wide as he took her in. “Get in here, Tex.”

He got up, slipping and losing his balance, almost falling. Karen giggled.

“You’ve got me wound up like a sidewinder,” Tex said. He took her into his arms and kissed her deeply, his hands all over her bare back. She broke the kiss.

“I think we need a nap,” Karen said. “I want you close to me.” She pulled back the covers and got into bed. “Get in here.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“We’ll see,” Karen said. “First I just want to sleep. If something develops after we wake up, we’ll just have to deal with it.”

***

Erica and Sam made it to Highway 94 just before sundown. The Jeeps were shuttling groups of people to the Williams place now, and nearly half of the tribe was already there.

“Well, looks like we’re going to make it,” Sam said.

“So it would appear,” Erica said. “We live to fight another day.”

“Look, here comes a couple of trucks,” Sam said. Tyler jumped out of the cab of the first one. “Load up, folks. We’ve got more trucks coming too, and hot food waiting at the base.”

People started climbing up onto the beds of the first two trucks as more trucks arrived. Ed’s Hovercraft drove up.

“You guys want a ride?” Ed asked.

“Sure,” Erica said.

“You can get us all the way there in this?” Sam asked.

“Yep, alongside the road. We won’t go as fast as the trucks do, but I can get you there in about twenty minutes.”

“Sounds good to me,” Erica said.

“Me too,” Sam said. They climbed on and Ed took off, as several more trucks arrived.

“We’ll all be at the Williams place within the hour,” Ed said.

“You look surprised,” Erica said, speaking loudly to get over the sound of the propellers.

“I’m not surprised, but I am relieved,” Ed said. “This has been a good day for our tribe. A very good day.”

They cruised along, moving as the flat ground did, sometimes in sight of the road, sometimes not.

“Maybe we should be mounting guns on these,” Erica said.

“Too heavy,” Ed said. “About the best we could do is ride-alongs with weapons. Oh, and by the way, the M60 is still in the back.”

“Expecting problems?” Sam asked.

Ed glanced back at Sam. “No, I think we took the wind out of their sails for a few days, but they’ll regroup and hit us.”

“I think you’re right,” Sam said.

“As long as they give us a day or two,” Erica said. “That’s all I ask now. Oh, and a warm place to sleep for a night or two would be nice.”

Ed chuckled. “You’ll get that, I’m sure. They’ll probably give you one of those crazy battle wagons.”

“Not sure I want one,” Sam said.

“They have beds in them, and heaters, right?” Erica asked.

Sam and Ed chuckled.

“I can see where this is going,” Ed said.

“Yep,” Sam said. “Not that I have a problem with it.”

Ed drove, the smile fading, his brow furrowed, worry in his eyes.

“You think we’re still in trouble, don’t you?” Erica asked.

“This war isn’t over, and we’re fighting people with no respect for life or civilization.”

“Or common decency,” Sam said.

“We can win, though, can’t we?” Erica asked. “We have to win.”

“Yes, we have to win,” Ed said. “I think the citizens will win. I hope we live to see it. We’ve hurt the enemy badly. They’ll target us for it.”

“They might,” Sam said. “Especially the man running things.”

“Saladin?” Ed asked. “I read about him.”

“He holds a grudge, and gets revenge,” Sam said. “He’s an evil man.”

“You two are scaring me,” Erica said.

“Don’t say that in front of anybody but your man,” Ed said. “You are one of our greatest warriors. You can be scared, but you can’t admit that you’re scared.”

“He’s right,” Sam said. “Your tribe needs people to look up to and trust. People who give them hope. That’s you, and Tyler, and James, and Ryan, and Zac.”

“I understand,” Erica said. “Same with Kaitlyn and this boy Trevor you’ve been talking about, and, of course, you. We’re joined now. We’re brothers in arms. Hell, Garrett and his men have earned that as well. We’d be dead now if not for them.”

“Yes,” Ed said. “These people inspire others to be better. They inspire bravery and hope.”

“There’s the road again,” Erica said as they approached. “Look, three truckloads of our people just went by.”

“And three more empty trucks are going back for another load,” Sam said. “We’re almost home. I recognize this stretch of road.”

“Good,” Erica said. “You’ve got something on your mind. I can see it on your face.”

“My mind is just expanding on what we were talking about,” Sam said. “Ivan. He seems crazy. He’s got a horrible background. He’s the last person anybody should follow in so many ways, but he put his finger on the key to taking our country back.”

“What?” Erica asked.

“Inspire others,” Sam said. “That’s what he put Ji-Ho out there for. That’s what his other groups are doing. Inspiring others. Making them understand that the citizens still own this country, and the citizens can take it back.”

“Yes, this is true,” Ed said.

“There’s our driveway,” Sam said, pointing.

“Guess I’ve got to cross some blacktop,” Ed said, looking both ways and then shooting across, onto the small access road that led to the front gate.

“Well, I don’t see any smoke,” Erica said. “Probably a good sign.”

They drove into the front gate and pulled up to the house.

Ji-Ho, Garrett, and Sid got off their chairs on the veranda, rushing down the steps to greet them as they climbed out of the hovercraft.

“Sam,” Sid said. “You’re back.”

“Nice to see,” Ji-Ho said. “This Erica? Lovely.”

“Hi,” Erica said.

“And the great Silver Wolf,” Ji-Ho said, holding out his hand to shake.

“You can call me Ed,” he said, “and I’ve heard a lot about you too. It’s an honor to meet you.”

Ji-Ho smiled. “Dinner ready soon. Come, let’s go into house and chat. I have news.”

They went into the house and sat down on the living room couches.

“Hope this isn’t bad news,” Sam said.

“No, it special gift from Ivan, but we have to keep it close to vest. Leadership people only.”

“I’m not leadership,” Erica said.

“Yes, you are,” Ji-Ho said. He pulled out his cellphone, tapped and slid his fingers around, then turned it towards the others. “Gather close, please.”

“What is that?” Sam asked. “What are those icons?”

“Those enemy fighters,” Ji-Ho said.

“This is the app that reads the enemy RFID chips,” Sam said. “How did Ivan get this?”

“Passed on in limited way from General Hogan team,” Ji-Ho said. “Ivan give capability to all leadership, but not to troops yet. We can talk about, but we can’t give others capability.”

“Wait, this lets us see the enemy?” Ed asked. “Anywhere?”

“Short range and long range app. Here, I show how work, then we side-load phones.”

“Wait, how safe are we right now?” Erica asked, shooting a glance at Sam.

“Here, I show,” Ji-Ho said, loading the long-range app. “Here next target. See icons near El Cajon?”

“My God, how many is that?” Erica asked.

“More than thousand.”

“There’s still some nearby,” Erica said.

“Those dead fighters not burned up,” Ji-Ho said. He moved his finger on the screen. “Here dead Islamists on trail.”

“There’s no other group of enemy fighters closer than El Cajon,” Sam said, smiling. “We have breathing room.”

“And we get warning from short range app if they approach,” Ji-Ho said.

“Wow,” Sam said.

“Job change somewhat,” Ji-Ho said. “We start recruitment along with demonstration attacks in El Cajon. Start people fighting, like LA County and Orange County. Turn from strategic hit to big show. Rally people.”

Ed smiled, and sat down on the couch. “We’re going to win.”

“Yes, we win,” Ji-Ho said.

“Yes, we’ll win all right,” Sam said. “We were always going to win, even without this new tool, but it will be a very bloody affair. Saladin will see to that.”

To be continued…

 

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Bugout! California Part 93 – The Hayloft

Trevor looked around in a panic for the big boom as he pulled the coach forward.

“Seth’s fine, honey,” Kaylee said, just before she fired another volley out the gun slit with the M60.

“Look, that Gaz Tigr behind the curtain of flames is looking for a way out,” Trevor said. “I’m gonna shoot it with the mini-gun.”

“Might not want to waste the ammo,” Kaylee shouted. “It’s gonna burn up anyway. The fire is all the way down the highway on this side and growing fast.”

Suddenly there was another big boom, and the Gaz Tigr blew sky high.

“What the hell is that?” Trevor asked. “Look at all that smoke!”

“I smell black powder,” Kaylee said. “Garrett’s men are here.”

There was another boom, and one of the buildings in the compound lost a wall on one side, then a hail of bullets hit the UN Peacekeepers and Islamists trying to escape.

“That’s them, all right,” Trevor said as he scanned through the gun sight. There was another boom, hitting the building a second time, breaking half of it down. Trevor burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Kaylee said.

“That’s a frigging cannon!”

Another big boom went off, the smell of black powder getting more intense.

“Cannon?” Kaylee asked.

“You know, like a Civil War cannon,” Trevor said. “They pulled it in with horses, I suspect.”

“Geez,” Kaylee said. “They still work.”

“And how,” Trevor said. “Makes sense, since they use black powder for everything.”

Kaylee fired the M60 at another group of fleeing enemy fighters, mowing them down. “Seems like we only have to keep them from escaping now.”

“I’m going to move the coach around so we’re facing the action,” Trevor said. “We’ve got a crap load of ammo for those forward and rear guns.”

“Sounds good,” Kaylee said, holding on as Trevor moved the coach. When he had it oriented right, he shut down the engine and set up siege mode again. Kaylee got into the passenger side again and pulled out the tray. “Here comes some now.”

“Nail them,” Trevor said. She fired, taking out the first row of fighters, some of them diving for the trees. Trevor got up and grabbed the M60, then opened the gun slit on the passenger side and sprayed fire at the fleeing men, hitting all of them.

“Nice shooting,” Kaylee said. “Here comes some more.” She fired the forward guns, hitting most of the fighters, and then the cannon fired again, hitting the building that the men were fleeing from, knocking down the wall. Kaylee aimed and fired into it. Somebody else fired several grenades into the ruined building and it exploded.

“Here comes the cavalry,” Trevor shouted, watching them flood in from two sides, guns blazing. Islamists and UN Peacekeepers were in a panic now, trying to leave the area, their only escape route through the flames cut off. Many dropped their weapons and held up their hands, only to be cut down by the horsemen.

“This is another rout,” Trevor said, smiling.

“They’re just killing those men,” Kaylee said.

“Who laid a trap for us and tried to kill the tribal women and children on the trail,” Trevor said. “I have no problem with this at all.”

After several minutes, there was silence.

“What now?” Kaylee asked. “Should we go home?”

“Soon,” Trevor said. “I want to go look around.”

“You’re going outside?” she asked.

“I’ll take the Winchester. You stay here and man the guns, though, okay? Just in case there’s still a working Gaz Tigr lurking around.”

“Okay,” she said. “Don’t get shot.”

“I won’t,” he said, picking up his Winchester and chambering a round. He topped off the gun’s magazine and stuffed a handful of .44 mag ammo into his pocket, then slipped out the door. Garrett and several of his men were huddled around the cannon.

“Where the hell did you get that thing?” Trevor asked as he walked up.

“Long story,” Garrett said. “Got two more protecting our home.”

“That thing did a good job here,” Seth said, walking up to join them. “What now? Should we take off for home?”

“Don’t see why not,” Garrett said. “Heard that we won on the trail too.”

“Yep,” Garrett said. “The older people and children should be arriving back at the Williams place any minute now. You guys probably should take off. We’ll clean up here and join you in a little while.”

“Thanks,” Seth said. “You guys saved us again.”

“You’re welcome, but don’t sell yourselves short. You softened them up to the point that we didn’t lose any men.”

“The fire helped,” Trevor said.

“How did that happen, anyway?” Garrett asked.

“We got rushed by a large group of fighters,” Trevor said. “Kaylee was at the gun slit with the M60. Hit them point-blank when they were about twenty yards out. One of them had a Molotov Cocktail in his hand. He fell and it lit the dry leaves and pine needles on fire.”

Garrett chuckled. “Nice break. Worked out well for us, this place being abandoned. Nobody’s cleaned up for a while. That’s a bad idea around here.”

“Think it’ll continue to spread?” Seth asked. “Should we try to put it out?”

“I think it’ll stop by the roads, but when we pull out I’ll contact the fire department.”

“Hey, boss, they’re already on their way. Here the sirens?”

Garrett laughed. “Nope, my ears are still ringing from that damn cannon.”

“Let’s go,” Seth said. “I know Kaitlyn will want to meet the members of the tribe that are coming in.”

“Yeah, you guys take off,” Garrett said. “We’ll see you in an hour or two. Keep your eyes open. If you see any enemy fighters near the Williams place, call me.”

“Got it,” Trevor said.

“See you back there, bro,” Seth said.

“Okay,” Trevor said. He went back to the coach.

“Everything okay?” Kaylee asked.

“Yeah, we’re going home, but we need to keep our eyes open, and call Garrett if we run into any bad guys.”

“Good,” Kaylee said.

Trevor got behind the wheel, took the rig out of siege mode, and drove away, the other rigs following him.

***

Sam and Erica walked the trail. Garrett’s men had already come back, not finding more enemy fighters. The elderly and children were gone, taken back in the vehicles. Sid and Yvonne gave up their Jeep for that purpose, and were walking with the tribe now. Ed continued to patrol behind and then ahead of the group in his hovercraft, watching for threats.

“We’re moving a lot faster now,” Erica said. “I’m getting tired.”

“Yeah, me too, but I feel good,” Sam said. His phone dinged.

“We have cell coverage. That means we’re getting closer to civilization.”

“You going to read it?”

Sam nodded, and fished his phone out of his pocket. “Our folks just defeated the enemy. They’re heading back to the Williams place.”

“Good,” Erica said. Sam laughed.

“What?”

“Garrett brought an old cannon along. Blew the hell out of the enemy positions with it.”

“You mean like an old-time cannon? Muzzle loader?”

“Yep,” Sam said, shaking his head. “That must have made a cool sound.”

“What a motley crew we are,” Erica said, grinning.

“You got that right,” Sam said. “I love it.”

She smirked at him. “You’re a romantic just like Garrett is, aren’t you?”

“Not quite that much, but there is that side of me, for sure.”

“I like that,” Erica said. “You fight well, too.”

“As do you. I can see how Kaitlyn got so good.

“She was a natural,” Erica said. “I only pointed her in the right direction. She picked things up in a hurry. She’s better than I am now.”

“Only because she’s young,” Sam said. “Trevor’s better than me for the same reason.”

“I’m anxious to meet your friends,” Erica said. “I liked Yvonne and Sid very much.”

“They’re my closest friends,” Sam said. “John and Sarah are close too, though, and Ji-Ho, and Clem.”

“I’m sure I’ll get along well with all of them,” Erica said.

Sam’s phone dinged again. He looked at it, his brow furrowed.

“I don’t like that look,” Erica said.

“Ji-Ho,” Sam said. “He passed out after they got back to the Williams place. They’re having trouble getting him to wake up.”

“Oh no,” Erica said. “Did he get wounded?”

“Doesn’t sound like it,” Sam said. “Dammit, wish we were closer.”

“We’ll be home in a few hours,” Erica said. “Does he have a medical problem?”

“Not that I know of, but he’s no spring chicken.”

“Well, don’t let it drive you nuts,” she said. “Nothing we can do about it now, and he’s not alone.”

***

Jules was beside himself. He’d been all over the winery looking for Shelly, as had several of his friends. Tex and Karen rushed over to him.

“Did you try to call her again, partner? She’s no longer on the grounds, from what I can see.”

“I try. Went to voicemail. She ignore.”

“She’ll cool down,” Karen said. “If this upset her as much as it did, she has feelings for you.”

“I blow it,” Jules said. “I let charade go on too long.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” Tex said. “Your heart was in the right place. She’ll figure that out.”

“I hope,” Jules said.

“We’re going back,” Karen said.

“Thanks for helping,” Jules said. “I look more. Maybe she hide. I be back later.”

“Okay, partner,” Tex said. “Don’t worry, she’s fine, I’m sure.”

The couple walked away. When they were out of sight, Jules let himself go, crying out loud, walking and calling her name. Look in the places she could hide again. He headed towards the boundary of the property, where there was a line of trees, a few outbuildings, and a barn. He went into the first building, looking around for the second time, his heart sinking when he saw she wasn’t there.

“Maybe next one,” he said, moving out into the next building. It was empty too, but there were footprints in the dirty floor. Small feet. That her. He looked frantically around the outside of the building, then rushed to the next one, his heart hammering in his chest, calling her name again, breaking into sobs. The barn door creaked open, blonde hair swaying as Shelly looked outside, her eyes red from crying.

“I’m over here, Jules,” she said. He rushed to her.

“I so sorry,” Jules said.

“Shut up,” she said, moving into his arms, holding him tight as they both cried.

“I blow it bad. I know. Please forgive me.”

She moved back and looked into his eyes. “Don’t ever do that to me again. That’s a must, if this is going to work.”

“I promise,” he said. She hugged him again, then looked up at him, and kissed him hard. The passion exploded between them, the kiss going on for minutes as they held each other tight. They finally broke the kiss and stared at each other.

“You were crying,” she said. “I’m really getting to you, aren’t I?”

“I love you,” Jules said. “So much.”

She looked at him as he waited for her to react, getting a soft smile on her face. “I know. I’m in love with you too, in case you couldn’t tell.”

He kissed her again, his hands on her back, her returning it with passion.

“I want you right now,” Shelly said, pulling him inside the barn. “Up there.” He followed her up the ladder to the hay loft, Shelly pushing him down onto his back, pulling her shirt over her head, watching his reaction. “Get undressed, silly.”

He moaned and stripped out of his clothes, watching as she got naked before him, and then she was down with him, kissing him again as their hands roamed over each other.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “You made me fall for you. That was that last thing I thought I wanted.”

“I want you from first,” Jules said. “First for beauty, then because this.” He petted her head. “You soul mate.”

“I think you might be right,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m saying that. She moved on top of him, caressing his body with herself, kissing him again as he caressed her back.

“Oh, God,” he said, moaning as she moved on him, pausing to take him, then feeling the bliss, the love washing over him in a way he’d never experienced.

“Jules,” Shelly said as she moved, biting her lower lip. “I’m yours now.”

They exploded into passion together, coming down, lying next to each other on their sides, not wanting to lose eye contact. Jules brushed the blonde hair out of her eyes, both still breathing fast.

“Now I don’t want fight anymore,” Jules said. “I just want to disappear with you and make babies.”

“All in good time,” she said. “I know you. We have a war to win. Then we get each other.”

“You are brave woman,” Jules said. “We do. We fight and win. Then we live.”

“We can live until then, too, you know,” Shelly said. “Like we are now.”

Somebody called Jules’s name from outside.

“Tex,” Jules said. He slipped his clothes on quickly and stuck his head out the opening of the hayloft. “I find her. She fine!”

“Oh, great,” Tex said. “I was worried. Couldn’t just sit and wait.”

“I’m sorry, Shelly,” Karen cried out. “Please forgive me.”

“I forgive you,” Shelly cried out. “In fact, I thank you. Now go make Tex happy. I’m not done in here with Jules yet.”

Tex chuckled, looking down at Karen, whose face was turning three shades of red.

“That sounds like good advice,” Karen shouted. “Have fun. We’ll talk later.”

The couple left. Shelly stood and walked to Jules, then spun for him, letting him take in her gorgeous body. “You like what you see? It’s for you. Only you.”

“Oh, yes,” Jules said, moving towards her.

“Get those clothes back off right now,” she said.

He practically tore them off and then they were with each other again, with more passion than before, eventually falling asleep in each other’s arms.

***

Trevor and Kaylee were watching Ji-Ho, his chest rising and falling slowly, breath laboring. Seth and Angel were there too, with Kaitlyn and Megan, the others outside the coach.

“What’s wrong with him?” Kaylee asked, tears running down her cheeks. She looked at Ji-Ho, then back at Trevor. “He’s been out for too long.

Ji-Ho’s eyes fluttered open.

“He’s waking,” Trevor said.

“Uncle, can you hear me?” Kaylee asked.

“Yes,” he croaked softly. “Sorry.”

“You’re scaring the crap out of us,” Trevor said.

“I talk Kaylee alone, please?”

“Of course,” Trevor said, eyes full of worry. “I’ll be right outside, honey.”

Kaylee nodded as he left the coach with the others.

“We’re alone, uncle,” Kaylee said, getting closer to him.

“I have cancer,” he whispered to her. “Treatment stopped, not working. Maybe six months left, but I go downhill faster now.”

“Oh no,” Kaylee said, crying. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You need be strong for war,” he said. “I do best can with time left. I’ll recover fast, but this happen more often as time go on.”

“Maybe we can find you better treatment,” Kaylee said, petting his forehead. “I don’t want you to leave me.”

“Already try,” Ji-Ho said. “Got wife set up safely. You last person I protect, set up.”

“What else is wrong?” Kaylee asked. “There’s something else. I can see it.”

“Parents,” Ji-Ho said, tears coming from his eyes. “Brother. Killed by UN thugs before escape. I so sorry.”

“Oh, my God,” Kaylee cried, sobbing now. Ji-Ho took her hand.

“I’m sorry I not tell before. Had to get you away, in thick of it. Had to get you bonded, protected by somebody when I gone.”

“Trevor,” she whispered. “You knew all along that he was the one.”

“No, I hoped. I know Matt not right one.”

“You didn’t do anything to help with his demise, did you?” Kaylee asked, looking him in the eyes.

“No, no, I not,” Ji-Ho said. “I swear. What happened is what I expect, though. I thought it you instead of blonde girl who get hurt. Glad it not you. Trevor is a good man. You marry, have children, live happy life.”

“That’s what we’re planning,” she said. “I’m in love with him. Deeply.”

“I can see,” Ji-Ho said, half a smile on his face now. He was becoming more awake.

“You should have told me about my parents,” Kaylee said, “but I understand.”

“Sorry,” he said. “Glass water, please. I’m almost back.”

She got up and filled a glass, taking it to him as he sat up. He took a drink. “Thank. I be okay. Maybe sleep for while. We won battle. Things look up.”

“Yes, we won,” Kaylee said. “I’ll leave you alone, but I’m going to check on you in a little while, okay?”

“Okay,” Ji-Ho said, lying back down, setting the glass on the table by the couch. “Keep eyes open, protect man. I know he protect you.”

“You sound like you’re saying goodbye. Don’t do that.”

“I not, but never know,” Ji-ho said.

Kaylee got up and left the coach, rushing into Trevor’s arms.

“Crap, he didn’t die, did he?” Trevor asked as she sobbed.

“No, but he just told me that my parents were killed,” she said, looking at him through tears.

“When?”

“When they were trying to escape,” she said.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” Trevor said, pulling her close, hugging her as she started crying again.

“There’s more,” she said. “Uncle has cancer. He’s got only six months left at best.”

“No,” Trevor said, feeling himself starting to cry. “Not him.”

“You’ve gotten attached to him,” she said.

“He’s family to me,” Trevor said.

To be continued…

 

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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

Bugout! California Part 92 – Leaves on Fire

Sid was at the mortars with several warriors, directing fire, when he saw a group of Islamists rushing by, not noticing their position.

“Hey, look,” Sid whispered, grabbing his BAR. He took off running behind them, firing, killing all but two of the enemy fighters. Zac left the mortar and rushed behind him with his AK-47.

“Get back on that mortar,” Sid said. “I’ll get this. I’ve got Yvonne and a few others up on the side of that hill there. I’ll make sure I force them in that direction.”

“Okay,” Zac said, rushing back.

Sid felt the hackles on the back of his neck rise, and looked for cover. A group of about twenty Islamists rushed by. The two who survived the first volley slipped out and pointed in Sid’s direction. They turned, rushing towards him, and he opened fire, spewing 30-06 rounds at them, taking out about half, the others fleeing for their lives, right into the kill zone under Yvonne and the others. They opened fire, killing all of them. Then another group rushed in, larger this time, Sid watching until they got in a good position, then opening fire again with the BAR, sending them rushing to the same place the others met their doom. Yvonne’s group fired, killing most, the others rushing past to where the tribe was, running into more warriors who shot them.

Sid’s heart was pounding in his chest. He struggled to reload the BAR as another group rushed through, not getting ready fast enough, Yvonne’s group trying to hit them, only getting about half. Then another group came in. Sid was loaded and fired, hitting about a quarter of them, some continuing on, others turning and heading towards Sid. They saw the mortar team and fired, killing several warriors, Zac getting under cover just in time, returning fire from his AK-47 as Sid joined in. As Sid was pointed in that direction, another group came in, rushing past Yvonne’s team, losing a few men, but continuing, attacking the tribe.

“Dammit,” Sid said, heart hammering in his chest as he got up and ran towards the tribe, firing on the Islamists, then diving into cover as they turned and fired back. “We’re gonna lose.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of guns going off, and the pounding of horse’s hoofs. The smell of black powder floated towards him, and he smiled, getting up again to join the battle. Garrett’s men flooded in from three directions, firing their Winchesters and Colt revolvers, causing the Islamists to panic and retreat. They raced back into the kill zone where Sam and the others were, right into a volley of fire from the M60 and BARs. Sid saw nearly a hundred mounted men following them and sent a text to Sam to hold fire. The gunfire intensified all around them, as Garrett’s men chased down the Islamists, some of the mounted men going to swords, killing Islamists with frightening speed. Then the gunfire subsided to occasional shots as hiding Islamists were discovered and shot.

Yvonne rushed down the hill and leapt into Sid’s arms. “We won, honey.”

“Yeah, we did, but I was getting pretty damn scared for a while there.”

“You and me both,” Yvonne said. “Lose anybody?”

“Yeah, about half the warriors on the mortar team.”

“Zac’s okay, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Zac said, walking over. “We lost too many good warriors, though. If those cowboys wouldn’t have shown up, we’d be dead.”

“True that,” Sid said.

Sam and Erica came down the hill with the others, tired but happy.

“Wow,” Erica said. “That was intense.”

“Tell me about it,” Yvonne said. “You must be Erica.”

“I am. Are you Yvonne?”

“Yes,” Yvonne said, shaking her hand. “Lose anybody up on the ridge?”

“Nope,” Erica said. “It was getting pretty scary, though. We couldn’t hold them all.”

“We killed a lot, though,” James said.

“Yep,” Tyler said. “Wonder what’s going on in Dulzura?”

“Last I heard from Ji-Ho, the battle wagons were joining about four hundred of Garrett’s men to take on the three hundred Islamists that are hiding out at an abandoned church retreat,” Sid said. “At the Y between Highway 94 and Marron Valley Road.”

“I know where that is,” Sam said. “They better be careful. Lot of cover there for the enemy. Not a lot of room to maneuver in those battle wagons.”

“Garrett’s men will win it, I suspect,” Sid said. “We need to get back on the road.”

“Want us to go back with you in one of the Jeeps to help?” Sam asked.

“No,” Sid said. “Stay with the tribe. We don’t know if this was the last of the Islamists. There may be more behind this group.”

“He’s right, honey,” Erica said.

“Honey?” Sid asked. Yvonne elbowed him. Sam just grinned.

Ed cruised up in his hovercraft. “You guys okay?”

“We lost a bunch of the mortar team,” Zac said, his brow furrowed.

“We lost a few warriors further up, too,” Ed said. “We’d better get back on the trail. Sam, could you and Erica continue to guard the back door?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “No problem.”

Two of Garrett’s men rode up.

“Thanks, guys,” Sam said. “You saved our butts. Big time.”

“No problem,” the first man said. “We’re going to follow the trail back to see if there’s any more coming, for at least twenty miles. Then we’ll come back this direction and protect you the rest of the way. That sound okay?”

“That sounds perfect,” Ed said. “We are forever in your debt.”

“We all do our part, sir,” the man said. He tipped his hat and they rode back towards the north.

“We made the right decision teaming with them,” Erica said.

“That’s for sure,” Tyler said. “Seen them in action several times. Those guys are amazing.”

***

Ted and Sparky were walking around the back section of the winery in the late afternoon sun.

“How’s it going between you and Dana?” Tex asked. “She keeping you interested?”

Sparky chuckled. “I made a deal with the winery team to use the house, even after the coach was finished. She’s a wildcat in bed.”

“Looks like you have mixed emotions, partner,” Tex said.

“She’s trying too hard,” Sparky said. “She’s afraid of losing me.”

“Should she be afraid?”

Sparky was quiet for a moment. “She’d do better if she didn’t try so hard. I am getting to like her, but I don’t want to end up with an overly clingy woman. Been there, done that.”

“She’s a looker,” Tex said.

“Well, yeah, she is, but there wasn’t one woman we rescued who wasn’t. That’s why they were taken in the first place.’

“True,” Tex said. “Here comes Ted.”

The two men smiled as he walked up.

“What’s up, guys?” Ted asked.

“Just talking about life and love, partner,” Tex said. “Speaking of that, how’s it going with Haley?”

“We’re just friends, for now,” Ted said. “We like each other a lot, though. Something might develop over time.”

“You sleeping in the same bed?” Sparky asked.

“That’s a pretty personal question,” Ted said. “No, I’m on the couch convertible. She’s short enough to handle the dinette bed. We gave the bedroom to the kids.”

“Oh, that’s right. Stacey and Brianna are with you,” Sparky said.

“How’s that going?” Tex said. “Brianna is pretty hot. Maybe too hot for Stacey.”

“Be nice, Stacey is a good solid man. Trust me.”

“I know, Ted,” Tex said. “Just messing. They have a hot romance going?”

“You two are like women,” Ted said, shaking his head. “Yes, they seem to be bonded pretty tight. He worships her, and she’s more than willing. That’s pretty obvious. They’re young, though, and Stacey’s a little immature for his age.”

“Well good for them,” Tex said. Hope it works out the way they both want.”

“You had the more interesting situation, Tex,” Sparky said.

“Yeah,” Ted said.

“Wait, I thought you said we were like women,” Tex said.

Ted and Sparky chuckled.

“C’mon, I told you about Dana,” Sparky said. “Probably more than I should’ve said.”

“And me too, dammit,” Ted said. “Fess up.”

Tex looked at them, face turning red, eyes glassy.

“Crap, man, you’re in love with this girl, aren’t you?” Sparky asked. “Don’t get hurt, man. She’s more than a little flighty, from what I can tell. Remember that thing with Gil?”

“Tex, always the romantic,” Ted said.

“Cut it out, guys,” Tex said, half a smile on his face.

“Forget it,” Ted said. “Sorry.”

Tex was quiet for a moment as they walked along, then looked at them. “Okay, I love her. Is that what you want to hear?”

“I think we both figured that out a second ago,” Ted said. “How does she feel?”

“She’s moving in my direction,” he said. “I know she’s not ready yet, so I’m not pressuring her. Not even a little bit.”

“That’s unusual,” Sparky said, smirking at him

“Shut up, partner,” Tex said sheepishly.

“Well, she is a beautiful girl, especially if you like redheads,” Sparky said, “and like most redheads, she’s going to be the highest of high maintenance.”

“That’s a wives’ tale, man,” Ted said. “One of the best girlfriends I ever had was a redhead, and she wasn’t like that. Not at all.”

“I like high maintenance women,” Tex said.

“What, are you crazy?” Sparky asked.

“Hell no,” Tex said. “When I’m in love with a woman I put her on a pedestal and worship her. You know that. Keeping her happy is a big turn-on for me.”

“That’s why I told you not to get hurt,” Sparky said.

“I don’t think I’m going to get hurt with this one,” Tex said.

“Have you two been intimate yet?” Ted asked.

“Wait, you just called out Sparky for being too personal,” Tex said.

“So sue me,” Ted said. “Answer the question.”

“Not yet,” Tex said.

“Then how do you know she’s moving in your direction?” Sparky asked.

“She offered herself to me,” Tex said. “That had better not get out. Don’t tell your women.”

“I don’t have a woman,” Ted said.

“Uh huh,” Tex said, “but really, guys, don’t say anything. Please?”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Sparky said.

“Me too,” Ted said. “If she offered, you must have turned her down.”

“She did it out of gratitude,” Tex said. “I can tell she’s not ready.”

“You’re a good man, Tex,” Sparky said. “Hope she deserves you.”

“I hope I deserve her,” Tex said, “but thanks.”

“Speak of the devil,” Sparky said softly, nodding to the left. Karen was walking towards them quickly.

“Uh oh, she looks upset,” Tex said. “Talk to you guys later.” He rushed over to her.

“What’s wrong, little lady?” he asked.

“Oh, Tex, I feel so bad,” Karen said, hugging him, crying.

“What’s happened?”

“Shelly. She’s mad. Really mad. Now nobody can find her. Jules is going crazy over it.”

“Why?” he asked, pulling away to look at her face, wiping her tears away with his fingers.

“They were on a call with Ivan earlier, and he spilled the beans about Jules’s family business.”

“That should make her happy,” Tex said. “Now she knows he’s not a mobster.”

“She’s not taking it that way.”

“How’s she taking it?” Tex asked.

“She’s taking it as dishonesty,” Karen said, “and when she talked to me about it, she figured out that I knew. I had to admit it. Now she’s mad at me too.”

“Oh, geez,” Tex said. He was silent for a moment, and then looked at her with a sly smile. “You know what this means, right?”

“What?”

“She’s already in love with him,” Tex said. “Otherwise why would she care?”

Karen thought through it for a moment. “You might be right.” She backed away from him, breaking their embrace.

“Oh, sorry,” Tex said.

“Sorry about what?”

“Holding you too long,” Tex said. “It’s not my place.”

Karen looked up at him, eyes tearing, and hugged him, getting onto her tiptoes and kissing him. They both moaned as the passion took them.

“Oh, God,” Karen said when they broke, her breath coming fast.

“What happened?” Tex asked, still reeling from the kiss.

“I’m falling for you,” she said. “It’s like I’m seeing you for the first time. It’s never hit me like this before.”

“Maybe it’s just the worry,” Tex said softly.

She kissed him again, more passionately, then broke it, looking into his eyes. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Let’s just give it a little time,” Tex said. “To make sure.”

She smiled at him. “If Shelly wasn’t missing I’d drag you back to our coach right now. We need to help find her. You okay with that?”

“Of course,” Tex said. “Where was she headed last time you saw her?”

“Out into the big field behind the house, but that was a few hours ago.”

“Let’s go in that direction, then,” Tex said. “Do you know where Jules is?”

“Searching for her,” Karen said. They started walking, Karen taking his hand.

***

“Nervous?” Kaylee asked, looking at Trevor as he drove the battle wagon.

“Of course,” Trevor said. “We’re going into battle, and I think I’m more comfortable running around with my Winchester than I am driving a big tank.”

“Maybe this is a little safer,” she said.

“I trust my own ability more than machinery,” Trevor said. “If we get into a bad position, I’ll want to get out of this thing, where I can fight.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Kaylee said. “We’re almost to the Y. Go to Marron Valley Road on the right. It’s a little way after we get to Freezer Road.”

“Freezer Road, huh?” Trevor asked. “Wonder why they named it that?”

“Good question. Hope Garrett’s men are close by.”

Both of their phones dinged.

“Another broadcast text,” Trevor said.

“I’ll check it, you keep your hands on the wheel.”

“Okay,” Trevor said.

“We defeated the enemy on the trail,” Kaylee said, smiling. “Very few people killed or wounded.”

“Good. Does it say how soon they’ll be back to Dulzura?”

“Tomorrow, mid-day,” Kaylee said. “Some of them will be back faster. They’re putting as many people on vehicles as they can. Probably moving the very old and the very young that way, so the rest of the tribe can speed up.”

“So, it’s one down, one to go.”

“Sounds like it,” Kaylee said. “What’s that ahead?”

“UN Roadblock? Get on the forward guns.”

“You sure? Who’s behind us?”

“Seth and Kaitlyn,” Trevor said.

“My uncle is back a ways, right? He’s not in as safe a vehicle.”

“He’s second from the end,” Trevor said. “The one at the end has some of Garrett’s people in it.”

“Good.” Kaylee reached down for the tray and pulled it forward, using the target reticle. “Now?”

“Now,” Trevor said.

Kaylee pulled the trigger as Trevor raised the turret for the M19.

“Gaz Tigr,” Kaylee said. “See it, coming up from the shoulder.”

Several loud shots came out of the turret, and the Gaz Tigr blew up.

“Stay on those guys up front. I’m gonna raise the mini gun.”

“Remember what the tech said,” Kaylee said. “Don’t use both at the same time.”

“I know,” Trevor said. “Hit those guys fleeing to the side.”

“Got them,” Kaylee said, following them with the target reticle and pulling the trigger, mowing them down. They breezed past the roadblock, and then heard bullets hitting the armor plate behind the engine.

“Knew it,” Trevor said.

“Should we hit them? Not sure I can with the rear machine guns. They’re too far off the road.”

“No, they’ll get hit by the other coaches,” Trevor said. Just at that moment they heard a mini-gun fire up. “Seth. He plastered them all over the trees back there. I can see it in my mirror.”

“Good,” Kaylee said. “There’s a nest over there, see it?”

Trevor nodded and fired the M19, several grenades hitting the makeshift structure a few miles off the road, blowing up the ammo inside, the whole area exploding into flames. Kaylee hit running Islamists and UN peacekeepers with the forward machine guns.

Hear that?” Kaylee asked. “There’s action on Highway 94, too.”

“Yeah,” Trevor said. “I hope Angel and Megan are careful. They’re on that side.”

“There’s the compound,” Kaylee said. “See it?”

“That’s a lot of enemy fighters,” Trevor said, taking aim with the mini gun and firing short bursts, ruining their cover. Then the next coach hit the area with several M19 shots, blowing up what was left of the structures.

“These grenade launchers work pretty well,” Kaylee said.

“Yeah, they do,” Trevor said. “They’re kinda fun to shoot, too.” He shot several times at the first building, sending grenades right through the front windows, causing intense explosions inside. Islamists and UN Peacekeepers flooded out of the building, most of them being picked off by Seth and the other coaches behind them.

“I’m going to park by the last building and set up siege mode,” Trevor said. “It’ll block the escape route. See it?”

“Yeah, I see it,” she said. “We need to save the big stuff for the Gaz Tigrs.”

Automatic fire hit them broadside, bouncing off the armor.

“Oh, you want to play, huh?” Trevor asked, firing off the M19 several times, taking out the machine gun emplacement. “They dug in.”

“You know what’s important, right?” Kaylee asked. “Take out anything that’s going to kill a lot of Garrett’s cavalry.”

“You’re right,” Trevor said. “Machine gun nests and vehicles.”

“Speaking of vehicles, look off to the right,” Kaylee said.

“I see them,” Trevor said, firing the M19 at two Gaz Tigrs, Seth and the others behind them joining in, blowing the vehicles sky high.

“We’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for those things,” Kaylee said.

“Seriously,” Trevor said. “A shot in a bad place from one of those will end us quick.”

There was a loud explosion on the Highway 94 side, then mini gun fire.

“We’re engaging something over there,” Kaylee said. “Can’t quite see it.”

“We’ll be past the trees when we get to our parking spot,” Trevor said. “Right about now.” He stopped the coach and flipped the switches for siege mode, then fired several grenades at the back of a machine gun nest and a Gaz Tigr next to it, hitting them both, exploding them into flames.

“Wow, that grenade launcher has some range,” Kaylee said.

“Yep. Look, we’ve got a whole bunch of troops running towards us. Maybe we ought to use the M60s out the gun slits.”

“On it,” Kaylee said, “Keep your eyes peeled and your fingers on the trigger for anything big.”

“You got it,” Trevor said. “Gaz Tigr, coming straight at us.” He fired the M19 before it could take a shot, disabling it but not blowing it up until the second grenade hit them.

Kaylee got the M60 aimed and fired when the rushing Islamists were only about twenty yards from the vehicle. One of them had a Molotov Cocktail in his hand, which exploded over the area, starting a good fire in the dried leaves and pine needles around that side of the neglected property.

“Whoa,” Trevor said. “We got some help from mother nature on that shot.”

“Seriously,” Kaylee said. “That fire might spread too quickly. We might need to get away from here.”

Two Gaz Tigrs were caught in the flames, and attempted to drive through them, both catching on fire and blowing up before they could get to the road. The fire started to spread to the building near where they were parked, and Islamists flooded out in a panic, only to be cut down by machine gun fire from Highway 94 and Marron Valley Road, Kaylee joining in with the M60.

“Crap, here comes several more Gaz Tigrs,” Trevor said, firing the M19 at them, hitting one, missing the second. It opened fire, a round hitting the M19 turret. “Dammit, they just took out the grenade launcher.”

“Hit it with the mini gun!” Kaylee said, the gun starting before she could finish the sentence, the Gaz Tigr stopping, exploding after a couple seconds.

“This is bad,” Trevor said.

“Maybe we should pull away,” Kaylee shouted. “The fire’s getting too close anyway.”

“Here come more,” Trevor shouted, firing the mini gun, ruining both vehicles. “We need to move out of the way so Seth and the others can take them on. Trevor fired up the coach, taking it out of siege mode and driving forward, hitting two more Gaz Tigrs as they rolled.

“Text Seth, and tell him that our M19 is out of commission. I’ll find another place for us to be.”

“You got it,” Kaylee said, sending the text. Then there was a massive boom behind them.

“Crap, what the hell was that?” Trevor cried. “Hope it wasn’t Seth’s rig.”

To be continued…

 

Free Promotion! The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

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!

 

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Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

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

Bugout! California Part 91 – On the Ridge

Ji-Ho got off the call with Jules, heart pounding in his chest. He was getting a little weaker every day. His hands trembled as he sent the text. He got replies right away from most of the people at the Williams Estate, and could hear the whir of motors as the coaches went into siege mode in their new locations around the property.

“Tribe out of cell range,” he muttered to himself, but then there was a ding. Sid replied, thanking him, and saying he’d spread the word. He and the others in Jeeps had their walkie-talkies on. Ji-Ho smiled, then put his own coach into siege mode. “Hope Garrett’s men in place.”

He got into the driver’s seat and brought the sight in front of his face, scanning the area with it. It was quiet. No movement at all. Then he heard the sound of horses, and grinned. Garrett’s men. He turned the sight in the direction of the sound, seeing a handful of mounted men ride up to the front of the house. He left the coach to meet them.

“Garrett,” Ji-Ho said. “You got text?”

“Felt it buzz, but haven’t checked yet,” he said as he got off his horse. The others stayed mounted, their eyes darting around nervously. “What’s up?”

“Heard from Ivan through contact named Jules. Three hundred men massing in Dulzura. Two hundred following tribe.”

“Just as we thought,” Garrett said, pulling his Winchester out of the scabbard as he walked over. “Pretty sure about where the ones in Dulzura are. We have some people watching them now. They’re hiding their numbers pretty well, though. They’ve only seen about fifteen men around.”

“Maybe not there with fifteen.”

“We’ll find out soon enough, I reckon,” Garrett said. “Might be better to go make an assault instead of waiting for them to come here. They might just get close and start lobbing mortar rounds. That wouldn’t be good.”

“How about men going to tribe?” Ji-Ho asked.

“They’re at least half way there,” Garrett said.

“Good. Where enemy location? Maybe we take a little drive with battle wagons.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Garrett said. “They’re in a compound between Highway 94 and Marron Valley Road. Used to be a church retreat. We can probably park on those two roads and blast them, but we’ll need to move if they pull out the mortars. My men are on their way to Dulzura now, on horseback. I’m sending four hundred men in there.”

Sound good, but you look worried,” Ji-Ho said.

“They’re well equipped. Better than usual.”

“Wonderful,” Ji-Ho said. “More than mortars and RPGs?”

“Gaz Tigrs. I think you have them on firepower, but they’re more maneuverable.”

“Good thing we have new grenade launchers. M19 should handle. Save ammo on mini-gun.”

“You guys ready to move out?” Garrett asked.

“Yes, I send text. Send south on 94. Half group split off on Marron Valley road. Okay?”

“Perfect,” Garrett said. “We’re going to have ourselves a turkey shoot.”

Ji-Ho sent the text to his people as Garrett walked back to his horse. He rode off the property. Engines around the park fired up.

***

“Well, are you going to fess up, or what?” asked Shelly, glaring at Jules. Her heart was beating fast, her face flushed with a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

“What you want me say?” Jules said. “I did work for Ivan before, and work for him now in war, but not in mob for many years.”

“Why did you let me think you were a mobster?”

“Why you assume I was?” Jules asked.

“Don’t answer a question with a question,” she said. “Nothing pisses me off more than that.”

“I sorry,” Jules said. “You put me under pressure.”

“Boo ho. Answer the question.”

“You reveal everything about yourself to me?” Jules asked. “I not know about background, and I don’t press.”

“You’re avoiding the question,” she said. “You should have corrected me when I said you were a mobster.”

“Why, you just think I use to get in pants, no?”

“I’m not that shallow, you know,” Shelly said softly. “You’ve hurt my feelings.”

“Sorry,” Jules said, eyes tearing up. “I like you. Been burned before because of wealth. I didn’t want you to think of me as rich guy. I wanted you to think of me as person.”

“But what you did made me think of you as a criminal,” she said. “I need to be away from you for a while. Turn around so I can get dressed.”

He nodded and turned around. She got dressed quickly and left the coach, walking into the midday sun. Karen saw her, and raced to catch up with her as she walked.

“Are you okay?” Karen asked.

“I’m pissed,” she said.

“Did Jules do something to you?”

“He’s not being honest with me,” Shelly said, slowing down, looking at her. “He’s a phony.”

“Did he trick you into doing something you didn’t want to do?”

Shelly stopped. “No, it’s not like that. I’d better not talk about it right now.”

“Okay, whatever you want,” Karen said.

“How’d it go with you last night?”

“Tex is trying so hard,” Karen said.

“Is he getting anywhere?”

Karen sighed. “Yes, he is. Part of it is me. I’m starting to recover from the bad times, I think. I tried to put myself in the dreams last night. I couldn’t go there.”

“Why would you even try that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe to see if I’m getting better. To see if Tex is helping me.”

“How about the coach?” Shelly asked. “The bedroom?”

“That didn’t bother me at all. We both slept in there.”

“Is he still pushing you?”

Karen laughed. “I told him he could have me last night if he wanted to.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” Karen said. “He wouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“He said he knows I’m not ready,” Karen said.

“Is that true?”

Karen was silent for a moment, then looked at Shelly. “Yes, but I’m getting closer.”

“You’re starting to like him,” Shelly said. “I can see it in your eyes.”

“He told me that he loves me last night,” Karen said softly.

“That’s a good thing, though, right?”

“I kinda forced it out of him,” Karen said. “I don’t know what I should do.”

“Just relax and let whatever happens happen,” Shelly said. “He’s not rushing you. Take advantage of that.”

“I’m coming to that conclusion,” she said. “Why are you so mad at Jules? Seemed like you two were getting closer.”

“We were on a call with Ivan, and he slipped in a comment about Jules wanting to take me back to the farm.”

“Why would that make you mad?”

“He let me believe that he’s a mobster,” Shelly said. “Honesty is important to me.”

Karen stared at her for a moment. “This is what you want, though, isn’t it? Maybe you should give him a chance.”

Shelly looked into her eyes, her face turning red again, anger flashing.

“You knew.”

Karen looked down for a moment, then back at her. “Yes, I knew. Tex told me.”

“You didn’t tell me, after our talks? Dammit. You’re as bad as he is.”

“I’m sorry,” Karen said. “Don’t be mad. Think about it.”

“I can’t be around you either,” Shelly said sharply. “Leave me alone.” She hurried away from Karen, out into the big field behind the house, crying now, the feeling of humiliation washing over her.

***

“Listen,” Sam said. “That sounds like Jeeps coming.”

“I think you’re right,” Erica said, stopping for a moment, wiping sweat off her brow. The mid-afternoon sun was beating down hard on them.

“Wonder how far back they are now?” Sam asked, taking a drink from his water bottle. He offered it to Erica, and she took a swig.

“Don’t mind my cooties now, eh?” she said, smiling. “I hope we live through this.”

“Sounds like there’s a message in that comment,” Sam said.

“Oh, please,” she said, handing the bottle back to him. “Us women understand looks like you’ve been giving me for the last couple days. When we get past this, better pencil in a few days of alone time with me. I’m gonna wear you out.”

Sam chuckled and shook his head. “See that next ridge? Maybe we can see the enemy from up there.” He pointed at a rocky ridge to the left of the trail ahead of them.

“Maybe,” Erica said. “If those vehicles we heard were the Jeeps, things will be moving quickly, I suspect.”

“We’ll need Garrett’s men to take on the Islamists. They’re on horseback, so they may be a little while longer.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Erica said. “They can go as the crow flies. Good chance that they’re close by already.”

“Hope so,” Sam said.

They started the long climb up to the ridge, getting on top after about half an hour.

“Well, if we want to look, we’ll have to go over there,” Sam said, pointing to the right. “See those rocks up there?”

“Yep,” Erica said. “That’ll cost us a little time.”

“True, but might be worth it. C’mon.”

They scrambled off the trail and onto the jagged ridge, trying to keep behind the bushes and trees as best they could, making it to the rocks in ten minutes. They climbed up behind a big boulder and peered over.

“Crap, look,” Sam whispered. “They’re closer than they were. They didn’t stop for the night.”

“Well, at least they’re as tired as we are,” Erica said, looking with her brow furrowed. “We could take a few pot shots and pin them down.”

“That’ll give away our position,” Sam said.

“They already know where we are.”

“True. Let’s see if we’ve got cell coverage.” Sam pulled out his phone and looked, then hit Sid’s contact, giving Erica a thumb up sign.

“Sam,” Sid said. “Hear us come in, I suspect.”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “We’re up on the last ridge. The Islamists are not far behind. I can see them well. Could take some potshots to hold them. Maybe we should bring mortars up here and let them have it.”

“If we don’t do something quick, they’ll be past the kill zone,” Erica whispered.

“What was that?” Sid asked.

“Erica just said if we don’t slow them down fast they’ll be past the kill zone. She’s right. Where are you?”

“With the main group,” Sid said. “Ed is with me, and Tyler, and a few others.”

“Where are Garrett’s men?”

“Just sent them the GPS coordinates. They’re about half a mile away. Not far since they’re on horseback. They’ll be here quickly.”

“I think we should fire on them, but all we have is an M16 and an AK-47.”

“Where exactly are you?” Sid asked.

“Use Find My Friends on your phone,” Sam said.

“Oh, yeah, forgot about that.” He laughed. “Hell, you’re only four hundred yards away. Hit them. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Ed’s got my M60 in the back of his hovercraft. Bring it along, okay?”

“Okay, and we’ve got BARs with us too. See you in a few. Hold them down.”

Sam ended the call, and looked over at Erica, who already had an Islamists in her sights. “Fire.”

She smiled and pulled the trigger, exploding the Islamist’s head.  “That got their attention. Looks like an ant hill after pouring gasoline on it.”

Sam nodded and opened fire with his M-16, taking out several Islamists as the others fled, screaming in Arabic.

“Look, some are trying to go around that way,” Erica said. “See them?”

“Good eye,” Sam said as he aimed and fired.

“Some on the other side too,” Erica said, shooting several men. Then gunfire erupted from below, hitting the front of the ridge, rock chips flying.

“They’ve made our position,” Sam said. “Keep your head down.”

Erica nodded and fired again, hitting two more Islamists as they tried to scurry out of the kill zone.

Shots came at them from the left side of the ridge, hitting rocks again.

“Dammit, there’s another group over there,” Sam said. “This isn’t good. They’re on two sides of us.”

“Can you see them?” Erica asked.

“No, but I have a pretty good idea where they are. I’m gonna watch. Keep an eye on the first group.”

“Okay,” Erica said, squeezing off a couple more rounds.

Sam’s phone dinged. He looked at it. “Sid. He’ll be up here in about two minutes. They’re setting up the mortars. Asking for coordinates.”

“You know how to do that?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said. His comment was punctuated by another shot from the left, whizzing over his head. He aimed and fired several times into the bushes, a man screaming below. “That got their attention.” He texted the coordinates for both groups of Islamists to Sid.

More gunfire came at them, Erica having to slip down for a moment. When it stopped, she moved over a few feet and took aim, killing several men who were trying to rush up the side of the hill.

“We have the advantage,” Erica said, “at least with position.”

“There’s a lot of them down there, and we’ll run out of ammo before too long,” Sam said. He fired again to the left, hitting a couple of men. “They were trying to set up a mortar.”

“Crap,” Erica said. “Where’s our friends? I’m almost out of ammo.”

“Me too,” Sam said. Then there was a pop from behind them, and the area to the left exploded. “Whoa, nice shot.”

“Seriously,” Erica said. Another pop came from behind them, and there was an explosion in front of the main group. “That one was short, sweetie.”

“Sweetie?” Sam asked. He texted to Sid as another shot towards the left group blew up below. A large secondary explosion went off. Then there were shots from the extreme right side. Erica moved quickly over towards Sam as he texted frantically to Sid with the third location.

“They’re getting around us,” Erica said. “I’ve only got about ten rounds left.”

“Dammit,” Sam said. A mortar round came down right in the middle of the main center group, more secondary explosions going off, but there were new shots from the left side.

“Where’s those bigger guns?” Erica asked.

“Almost here, I hope,” Sam said as he fired on the left side group. “Dammit, I’m out.”

Another mortar popped, and a round came down on the right side.

“Short again,” Erica shouted as the gunfire from below ramped up. Sam texted to Sid, and then Tyler, Ryan, and James arrived, with Sam’s M60, two BARs, and a bunch of AK-47 ammo, which they handed to Erica.

“Thank God,” Erica said, loading her magazines as fast as she could.

“You guys were out of ammo?” Ryan asked.

“There’s a crapload of Islamists down there,” Sam said as he picked up the M60. “This is gonna get their attention. He opened up, spewing rounds all along the bottom of the hill, catching the Islamists rushing up by surprise, killing most of them. Then Ryan and Tyler opened up with the BARs, one on the left side, the other on the right. Erica was back in action now, firing at the right position.

“They’re going to get around us,” James said, firing a BAR into the main group. “They keep coming. We can’t hit all of them from here.”

Mortar rounds fired, three at almost the same time, exploding in all three enemy positions.

“No secondary explosions that time,” Sam said. “They’re moving around us. Dammit!”

There was the pop of a mortar from in front of them, and the area behind the ridge exploded.

“Oh, no!” James yelled.

“I see where they are,” Sam said, firing a volley into a wooded area on the right, killing the men who were manning the mortar. Several more rushed in to take their place as Sam texted the position to Sid.

Gunfire erupted behind them.

“They’ve gotten to the tribe,” Ryan shouted. “What do we do?”

“Unless we want several hundred more joining them, we’d better stay up here,” Tyler said.

“Keep your focus,” Erica shouted. “There’s more coming up the middle, see them?” She opened fire, the others joining her with the BARs and M60, stopping the group just before they were hit with a mortar round.

“Yeah, take that, suckas,” Ryan shouted.

“Stay sharp,” Sam said, his brow furrowed as he fired on yet another group, rushing in from the left side.

“Where they all coming from?” James asked. Gunfire intensified behind them.

“How many good fighters do we have with the tribe?” Sam asked.

“Quite a few,” Tyler said. “It won’t be easy for the enemy, but if Garrett’s men don’t show up in a hurry, we’re toast.”

“Yeah, there’s too many of them,” James said.

“Don’t go soft on us, boys,” Erica shouted, firing again on a group that was rushing up the hill from the right group. “C’mon, help me!”

Tyler and Ryan opened fire with the BARs. Sam was still busy with the enemy on the left side, the massive firepower of the M60 keeping them at bay.

Another mortar round flew at them, flying too far, but closer than the first one.

“Where’d that come from?” Sam asked.

“Right side,” Erica said, firing at the position. “I just wasted their team, but there were others right there. We’re gonna get hit again.”

Sam rushed over with the M60 and fired at the mortar, breaking it, setting off the ammo box next to it.

“That’ll hold them up for a few minutes,” Ryan shouted. Then he opened fire on the middle group again, hitting a mortar team starting to set up, then firing on the mortar tube and the ammo box, setting it off.

“Nice job, man,” Tyler said.

Another large group ran towards the ridge from the left, stepping over the bodies of their dead compatriots. Most of them were mowed down by fire from the BARs, but then another group followed.

“There’s too many of them,” James shouted.

“Wait, listen,” Erica said. She looked over at Sam and grinned.

The pounding of hundreds of horse hoofs approached from behind them.

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

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!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

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

Bugout! California Part 90 – Milk Maid

Karen entered the yellow coach.

“Tex?” she asked quietly. As she approached the bedroom door, she could hear him breathing, fast asleep. She slid the door open quietly, looking around in the bedroom, waiting for the flash back of Lily to hit her. Nothing. She sighed, relieved, then slipped inside, stripping and climbing into bed carefully. Tex stirred, rolled over to face her, and settled back into sleep. Karen glanced over at him and found his peaceful expression calming. She turned onto her back and looked at the ceiling, with its mini gun structure hanging down. How did I get here?

Tex stirred again, moving closer to her, hand going over her stomach, making her jump. His eyes opened slightly. “Oh, sorry,” he muttered, pulling his hand back. She grabbed it and put it back on her belly, petting it tenderly, a warm feeling almost overpowering her. In seconds he was back to his light snore, and she felt herself starting to drift away. For a split second the peppermint smell rushed back into her head. She shuddered, waking Tex.

“Hey, you okay, little lady?” he asked sleepily, not realizing that his hand was resting on her, or that she held it.

“I’m fine,” she whispered. “I started to slip back into that dream, but I came out of it.”

“Want me to go out into the salon?” he asked, pulling his hand back.

“No, I want you to stay right here,” she said, taking his hand again. “Please?”

“Sure, honey,” he said softly, his hand caressing her slightly. She trembled, turning towards him, pulling his arm back over herself, moving tight against him, not caring that her breasts were resting against his hairy chest.

“Can I trust you?” she whispered. “Really?”

“Yes,” he said, his hand moving on her back now, pulling her closer. Her leg went over his hip, entangling them.

“I feel safe,” she said. “I’m not bothering you too much, am I?”

“No,” he said. “I’ll hold you all night if it helps.”

“I know,” she said, checking herself, trying to bring on the bad thoughts. They weren’t there. She started to cry softly.

“Is this bothering you?”

“No, dummy,” she said. “It’s helping me. Just hold me. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said softly, settling in, trying to keep his libido under control. It was a struggle. Everything that filled his hopes and dreams was in his arms at that moment. The last thing he wanted to do was blow it now.

“This is hard for you,” she whispered. “I can feel it. I can feel you.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I’ll move away. He started to back off, but she pulled him back tighter.

“No, stay,” she said, opening her eyes, meeting his. “We can, if you want. I’ll let you.”

“No,” Tex said. “You don’t want to. I’ll settle down after a few minutes. I promise.”

“But you want it,” she whispered. “I’ll get into it once we start.”

“No, I’m fine,” Tex said.

“It’s okay, really,” she said, moving her hand on his side.

“I need to know that you’re ready, and I’m not getting that from you,” he said.

“What are you getting?”

“Fear and guilt,” he whispered.

“I’ll battle that for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s okay. I know you want it.”

“You don’t get me, do you?”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“I don’t want it, I want you. I can wait until you’re ready. No, I have to wait until you’re ready.”

“What, until I love you?” she asked. “You keep this up and it’ll happen.”

“That’s what I want more than anything,” he said, “but that can’t be rushed, especially after what you’ve been through.”

“Do you love me?” she asked.

“I don’t think I should tell you that,” he said.

“Why?”

“You might feel pressure. You might get overwhelmed.”

“I don’t care,” she said. “Tell me anyway. Then we can go to sleep.”

He chuckled. “That would keep you awake, trust me.”

“No, it wouldn’t,” she said. “It’ll force out the bad, either way. If you don’t love me now, you will soon. I can tell.”

Tex sighed. “All right, all right.” He laid there silently for a moment.

“Well?”

“Yes, I love you,” he said, feeling his eyes tear up. She saw them glisten in the low light of their bedroom, and started to cry.

“See, I told you,” Tex said.

“I’m happy, dummy,” she said, pulling him closer. “Now hold me. Make me know that it’s going to be okay.”

They fell asleep in each other’s arms.

***

Sid rushed over to the veranda. Garret was there with Ji-Ho, John, Sarah, Yvonne, and Clem. Tyler was walking up, getting there at about the same time that Sid climbed the steps.

“Uh oh, what’s wrong with you?” Garrett asked, looking at Sid’s face.

“I just heard from Sam,” Sid said, out of breath. “There’s about two hundred Islamists following them on the trail.”

“Oh no,” Yvonne said.

“How long ago did you talk to him?” Tyler asked.

“Just a couple minutes ago,” he said. “He’s at the rear of the group with Erica, watching the back door.”

“We need to do something,” Garrett said. “Quickly.”

“I was hoping that was what you were gonna think,” Sid said.

“Sounds like a good opportunity for a long ride,” Garrett said. “You know the trail they’re on, right?”

“Yep,” Sid said. “I propose that we take our Jeeps and lead you guys to where they are.”

“We should take about three hundred men,” Garrett said. “The rest should be here, ready for an attack, just in case they want to hit us in both locations.”

“I agree,” Sid said.

“Me too,” Tyler said. “I’ll go get the others. Let’s take off right away.”

Garrett pulled his phone out of his pocket and hit a contact, walking off the veranda with the phone in his ear.

“What’s going on?” James asked, walking up with Seth and Angel.

“The tribe is about to come under attack,” Tyler said. “I was just coming to get you. Let’s get the Jeeps loaded up again. We’re going out there.”

“I’ll go get the others,” James said, turning and trotting away.

“Let’s go get Kaitlyn and Megan,” Seth said. “You know they’ll want to be in on this.”

“Seriously,” Angel said. They trotted off together as Garrett came back. “It’s all set. My guys will be here in a few minutes. Where exactly are we going?”

“You know the trail to the ghost town and mine?” Sid asked.

“Yeah,” Garrett said, “but only from the Barrett Lake side. “I assume you guys got in from somewhere along Highway 94.”

“Yeah,” Sid said, pulling out his phone. He loaded the map application and held it out for Garrett to see. “We went as far as we could get away with on Highway 94. You guys might not want to go that way.”

“I know a lot of this area,” Garrett said. “We could be there fairly quickly if we go as the crow flies, this way.” He traced the route with his finger. “See?”

“How long of a ride is that?” Tyler asked.

“Way less than a day to get near these ridges here,” Garrett said. “Where would we engage the enemy, though?”

“Maybe we could go in the Jeeps and send GPS coordinates,” Tyler said.

“Yes, that would be a good way to do it,” Garrett said. “How long would it take for you guys to get the Jeeps to the tribe?”

“Not long,” Sid said. “Maybe three hours max.”

“We should take off now,” Tyler said. “With as much ammo and men as we can carry.”

“I agree,” Garrett said. “My forces will take off now too. We’ll make a course correction when we get the GPS coordinates.”

“What go on?” Ji-Ho asked as he walked up. Sid and Garrett filled him in. He got a worried look on his face.

“We can’t lose ability to fight rest of battle,” Ji-Ho said.

“We can’t afford to lose the rest of the tribe,” Sid said, “and remember that Sam is with them. He won’t leave them. He’ll fight to the death for them if he thinks that’s all they can do. We need to get there, and fast.”

Ji-Ho thought for a moment. “How many people we keep here to watch base?”

“Most of my men,” Garrett said. “I’m only taking three hundred. That leaves you with about six hundred men, plus these battle wagons. I’d keep enough of your people here to man them.”

“The clock is running,” Sid said, standing up. “C’mon, let’s go.”

Yvonne stood. “You know I’m going, right?”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Sid said. They took off for the Jeeps.

“We taking ours or one of the newer ones?” Yvonne asked.

“One of the newer ones,” Sid said. “There are some wicked rocks to climb on the way out there.”

“Okay, good,” Yvonne said. Sid led her to the one that he and Sam were in. “Let’s grab some of those Jerry cans. I think they all have fuel in them.”

Yvonne nodded, and they grabbed three, putting them in the back with their rifles and two BARs. Tyler and James rolled up, followed by Zac and Ryan in another Jeep.

“Are Seth and Angel coming?” Sid asked.

“No. Ji-Ho caught them. He’s giving each couple a battle wagon, and running them through the training now. Trevor and Kaylee are doing the same.”

“Okay, makes sense, I guess. Hate to be without their guns in this, though.”

“We need to have someplace to come back to,” Yvonne said. “Let’s go.”

Sid nodded, and got behind the wheel, Yvonne jumping into the passenger side. They took off on Highway 94, heading southeast.

“Think we’ll get there in time?” Yvonne asked.

“Yeah, we will, but if Garrett doesn’t make it in time, we’ll probably get killed.”

“Thanks for that,” Yvonne said. She glanced over at him with a smirk.

***

“I don’t feel right not going,” Kaitlyn said.

“I know,” Seth said. They stood by their battle wagon, waiting for Ji-Ho and Trevor to show up for their training. Megan and Angel joined them, Kaylee following.

“My uncle will be here in a few minutes,” Kylee said. “He’s just about finished with Clem, John, and Sarah. He’s training a few of Garrett’s folks too. Ones that can’t ride.”

“Good,” Angel said.

“You okay with this?” Megan asked Kaitlyn.

“Not really, but I get it,” she said. “Hey, at least we have places to live now. Other than tents, that is.”

Ji-Ho rushed over with Trevor.

“Ready, guys?” Trevor asked.

“Yep,” Angel said. “Let’s get busy.”

The group went into the coach, watching intently as Ji-Ho and Trevor went over all the systems. It took about half an hour.

“Well, I must admit, this is pretty cool,” Kaitlyn said.

“Seriously,” Seth said. “Just remember what Ji-Ho said. These aren’t indestructible.”

“Yes yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Good.”

“We’re going to ours,” Angel said. “See you guys.” He took Megan by the hand and left the coach, Trevor and Kaylee following.

“Any last question?” Ji-Ho asked.

“Nope, I think we’ve got it,” Kaitlyn said. “Thank you.”

“Welcome,” Ji-Ho said. He turned and left, closing the door behind him.

“You think Megan’s okay with this?” Seth asked, eyeing Kaitlyn as she watched Megan and Angel through the window. She turned to him.

“I think so. She’s like me. Scared for her people. That’s all.”

“Okay,” Seth said, sitting on the couch. She sat next to him.

“This is our first home, isn’t it?”

Seth chuckled. “Oh, I don’t know. I was getting used to the tent.”

“Yes, we made some memories in there,” Kaitlyn said. “I hope my mom survives this.”

“I hope they all do,” Seth said. “I also hope we don’t get attacked here.”

“Wonder when more of Garrett’s men are gonna arrive?”

“He didn’t say, exactly, but they’re never far away,” Seth said. “That I’ve noticed. They patrol all the time, too. That’ll make it hard for the Islamists to get the drop on us.”

“Trevor is coming over with Kaylee,” Kaitlyn said, seeing them through the window.

“Uh oh, hope nothing’s wrong,” Seth said, getting up. He opened the door, waiting as Kaitlyn got outside, then closing the screen after himself.

“Anything wrong?” Seth asked.

“No, but Ji-Ho had a good suggestion. We need to move these coaches around. We need them parked by all of the entrance points, and the parts between that are weak, like over there where the trees are, along the road.”

“Okay, where do you want us?” Seth asked.

“You’ll take one side near the back gate, over there,” he said, pointing.

“Okay, no problem,” Seth said.

“I got to go tell the others too,” Trevor said. “Talk to you in a few minutes.”

Seth nodded, then opened the screen for Kaitlyn.

“You don’t always have to open doors for me, you know,” Kaitlyn said, smiling at him.

“It’s a sign of love and respect,” Seth said, looking at her. “It doesn’t bother you too much, I hope.”

“No, I actually like it, I just don’t want you to feel obligated all the time, that’s all.”

“I don’t,” Seth said. “Want to drive, or should I?”

“You go ahead,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ll learn on the road.”

“Okay,” Seth said, getting behind the wheel. He fired up the big diesel and pulled forward, heading for the back of the property, where a small road went past the barn and corral. He did a K-turn with the massive coach, setting it up so it pointed for a good escape route. “There we go.”

“You handle this thing with no problem,” Kaitlyn said, watching him.

“Thanks,” Seth said. “I’ve driven these before.”

“That’s good. When?”

“When I was a kid. My uncle had one. We went on vacation with him, up to Yellowstone. I got to drive some then.”

“Good,” Kaitlyn said. “What do we do now?”

“Relax, I guess,” Seth said. “Wait.”

“Wait. That’s going to be hard.”

“I know, honey,” Seth said.

***

Jules woke with a start. Shelly was facing him, breathing in his face, still asleep. He reached for his phone, looking at the screen. It was already noon. He sat up quickly, blankets going with him, uncovering Shelly’s nude form next to him. He sucked in some air, then got back down, covering her up carefully.

“Enjoy that?” Shelly asked, eyes barely open.

“Sorry, it was accident,” he said.

“Uh huh,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

“It noon already,” he said. “Too late to sleep.”

Is it really?” Shelly asked. “Wow. Guess we needed it.”

“Guess so,” he said.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Shelly said, looking at him with a mischievous grin. “Did you enjoy that? I mean, you saw all of me. Or most, at least.”

Jules chuckled. “You tease me, no?”

“Answer me,” she said.

“Yes, I enjoy how you look,” Jules said softly, “but was accident. Really.”

She giggled. “It’s okay, Jules, you’ve been a good boy. At least it’s easier now.”

“What’s easier now?”

“I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t have to wait until you’re gone.” She got out of bed and walked out the sliding door, turning to smile at him. Jules’s eyes glassed over.

“Beautiful,” Jules said under his breath.

“I didn’t hear that,” she said, turning around, showing her naked front to him.

“I said beautiful,” Jules said, eyes fixed on her. “You enjoy this, no?”

“Oh, maybe a little bit,” she said before rushing into the bathroom.

Jules watched the doorway for almost a minute after she was gone, trying to save every detail in his mind. When she came back in, he was still staring.

“Wow, I really hit you with the thunderbolt, didn’t I?” she asked as she slipped back into bed, pulling the sheet over herself. “Show’s over for now.”

“You’re getting back into bed?”

“For a little while,” she said.

“You just want to torture me some more, no?”

She giggled. “Is that what this is?”

“You woke up playful,” Jules said. “I like.”

“Well, which is it? Playful or torture?”

Jules laughed. “Maybe little both.”

Jules’s phone rang. “You hand to me?”

“Why, you don’t want to get out of bed for some reason?”

“Maybe so,” he said.

It continued to ring. Jules shot her a sidelong glance and then got out of bed quickly, grabbing it and getting back under the sheet. “Enjoy show, no?”

She giggled. “Well, at least I know you like me.”

“I already tell you that.”

“Sometimes there are things more convincing than words,” she said, the mischievous grin back on her face.

The phone quit ringing.

“Shoot, lost call,” Jules said. He looked at it. “Ivan. Better call back.”

He hit the contact and put the phone on speaker. It rang.

“Do I need to leave?” Shelly asked, looking serious.

“Yes, I just want to watch,” Jules said. “No, I kid, you stay. He tell if top secret.”

“Jules,” Ivan said. “Sorry to bother you.”

“You never a bother to me, old friend,” Jules said. “Shelly here with me. Okay?”

“Oh, the one you want to take back to the farm with you?” Ivan asked.

“No, not say that, you trouble maker,” Jules said, looking embarrassed as he glanced at Shelly.

“Have it your way, Jules. Sure, she can listen. We need to get word to Ji-Ho about some enemy activity, and I’m going to be someplace where I can’t call. Haven’t been able to raise him.”

“Okay, what message?” Jules asked, sitting up, motioning to a pad of paper and a pencil on the shelf by the window. Shelly got up and grabbed it for him. “Thanks, Shelly. Go ahead, Ivan.”

“Our sources see two groups of Islamists, in very bad places. One group follow Indian Tribe on trail home. Two hundred. Second group near hideout in Dulzura. Three hundred men. He should get ready.”

“That not good,” Jules said. “I call right away.”

“Good, and keep trying until you get him. You could try Sam too, but he’s been out of cell range.”

“Okay, we get word there, no worry. Anything else?”

“No,” Ivan said. “Have fun with your milk maid. See you soon.”

The line went dead.

“Milk maid?” she asked. “Was that a reference to my breasts or something?”

“No,” Jules said. “I call Ji-Ho.” He hit the contact. It rang several times and went to voicemail. “Ji-Ho, it Jules. Large force of enemy fighters near base in Dulzura and behind Indians on trail. Call me.”

He put the phone down. “Dammit.”

“Where’s Dulzura?” Shelly asked.

“Southeast San Diego County,” Jules said. “This very bad.”

“How does Ivan see them?” Shelly asked.

“Top secret? You keep mouth shut?”

“Of course, although I think I should be mad at you.”

“Why?”

“This milk-maid thing. I want some answers, after we get through with this.”

Jules nodded, brow furrowed. “Okay. Robbie’s dad create way to track Islamists via their RFID chips. We don’t have access yet, but exists. Contact call Ivan with info.”

“Oh,” she said. “Wow. That would be huge. Have they been watching out for us?”

“Some, yes, but difficult. Bigger problems in Utah and Colorado than here. They don’t have time to wipe our butts for us.”

Jules’s phone rang. He hit the speaker button.

“Ji-Ho?”

“Yes. This from Ivan? Using new tool?”

“It is,” Jules said. “Be ready. You have enough fighters?”

“Sent many to trail behind tribe just now. Have plenty staying here, just in case of this. We good. Don’t worry.”

“Good, Ji-Ho, then don’t waste time talking to me. Talk later. Bye.”

Jules ended the call, then looked at Shelly. “Thank you. Maybe we get dressed, go outside.”

“Wait a minute,” Shelly said, grabbing his arm as he prepared to get off the bed. “What farm was he talking about?”

“Family business, I tell. Belgium.”

“You aren’t going back to being a mobster, are you?”

Jules cracked up. “I not say I mobster. Never. I tell you about family estate, too.”

“Crap, you’re rich, aren’t you?”

“A little,” Jules said.

“No, a lot,” she said, eyeing him. “Dairy farms, right? Milk Maid? Geez, I feel like an idiot.”

“I didn’t tell you I was mobster,” Jules said.

“You knew I thought that, though. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Jules sighed. “I guess jig up.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she said. “Time to fess up. Now.”

To be continued…

 

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Copyright Robert Boren 2017

Bugout! California Part 89 – Call for Help

“Is that everything?” Trevor asked, carrying a bundle of items out of Ji-Ho’s rig.

“Yep,” Kaylee said, arms also full. “We hardly have anything.”

Trevor chuckled. “True.”

They walked to the Black coach and climbed the steps. Ji-Ho and two techs were still in there, giving a training presentation to several of the others.

“We better wait for a few minutes,” Kaylee said. “Look, there’s a picnic table there. Let’s set the stuff down and sit for a few minutes.”

“Okay,” Trevor said. He set down his bundle, then sat on the table with his feet on the bench. Kaylee snuggled in next to him.

“What do you want to do for the rest of the day?”

Trevor shot her a wicked grin.

“Other than that,” she said. “I’m a little sore.”

“Yeah, when we get started, we get a little intense,” Trevor said. “Is it wrong to want it again already?”

“No,” she said. “Wonder when the first mission is gonna be?”

“I heard Garrett and Ji-Ho talking about a base,” Trevor said. “Supposed to be the last big one in the area.”

“Was it the one they were talking about a few days ago?” Kaylee asked.

“Nope, this was based on new intelligence,” Trevor said. “We’re going to hit them on I-8. Apparently, they’ve been using that as a replacement for Highway 94.”

“That’s the one that the Dulzura folks stopped up in the pass, right?”

“Yep,” Trevor said. “I think we’re a few days away from starting that campaign, though. Don’t worry about it yet.”

“Look, they’re done,” Kaylee said, nodding towards the group of people leaving their coach. Ji-Ho saw them and walked over.

“Moving in,” Ji-Ho said. “Good.”

“How’d the training go?” Trevor asked.

“Okay,” Ji-Ho said. “We need hands-on. Maybe take to area where we can fire and not attract attention.”

“This might be as good as anywhere,” Kaylee said.

“Maybe,” Ji-Ho said. “Tribe got attacked on trail.”

“No, really?” Trevor asked. “Sam okay?”

“Yes, they kill,” Ji-Ho said. “Short work.”

How long until they get back?” Kaylee asked.

“Two day,” Ji-Ho said, “unless they walk through night. Discussion go on about that now.”

“Aren’t some of them older people?” Kaylee asked.

“Yes, and some children. I expect they don’t push too hard.”

Clem walked over. “Ji-Ho, we just heard from Garrett. Meeting in two hours. About the next attack. They’re coming here, bringing some Barbeque.”

Ji-Ho nodded and gave thumbs up, then turned back to Trevor and Kaylee. “You two should attend.”

“Be glad to, wouldn’t we?” Trevor asked, looking at Kaylee, who nodded yes.

“Good, then stow items, make self at home in coach for two hours,” Ji-Ho said. “I go take nap.”

He walked away slowly.

“I don’t like the way he’s moving,” Kaylee said. “He looks like an old man now.”

“He’s not young, you know,” Trevor said.

“I know he’s not, but he shouldn’t be changing so fast all of a sudden.”

“Let’s take our stuff in,” Trevor said. Kaylee nodded, and they grabbed it off the picnic table and carried it into the rig. Trevor shut the door behind them, then set his pile down on the couch and pulled Kaylee to himself.

“Oh no you don’t,” she said. “Let’s stow this in the back.”

“Oh, all right,” Trevor said, smiling at her. He picked his stuff up and followed her into the bedroom. They stowed it, and then she escaped to the salon before he could grab her, giggling on the way.

“Hey, no fair,” he said, grinning at her.

“We should talk, since I’ve got your attention,” she said, sitting down on the couch. She patted the spot next to her. He sat.

“Okay, what’s on your mind?” he asked.

“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, something’s going to happen. You know that, right?”

“You want me to be more careful? Or do you want to get some stuff at the drug store?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Where is this going?”

“You want to be serious, don’t you?” Trevor asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“You want what Kaitlyn and Megan are about to go through,” Trevor said.

“No,” she said quickly, then thinking for a moment. “Maybe. What do you want?”

“You,” he said, “but you already knew that.”

“How sure are you?”

He looked at her, seeing how worked up she was. “Hey, you okay?”

“I’m afraid we’re going to be killed before we’re really together,” she said.

“We’re really together right now,” he said, pulling her close, wiping tears off her cheeks.

She sighed. “I know, I’m being dumb.”

“No you’re not,” he said. “You want Tyler to do a ceremony?” I’m game.”

“We aren’t Indians,” she said.

“Fine, then let’s see if there’s a justice of the peace in Dulzura.”

“You’d do that?”

“Of course,” he said.

“But you haven’t on your own. You’ve only said it after I was upset. I’m pushing you into it.”

Trevor chuckled. “You are the most important part of my life by far,” Trevor said. “I’m kind of a dork. I don’t show what I’m thinking easily, especially with girls. You know that. You’ve known me for a long time.”

“Don’t say that,” she said. “You’re not a dork. I feel the same way about you. You’re the most important part of my life too.”

“Then we should do it,” Trevor said.

“What would your parents think?”

“They’d love you,” Trevor said.

“We aren’t the same race.”

Trevor laughed. “Are you serious? My mom’s sister is married to a Japanese man. Has been for thirty years. He’s my mom’s favorite relative. Trust me. She’s not like that at all.”

“You’re her son, though,” she said. “Sometimes that makes a difference.”

“Would it make a difference to your parents?”

“Yeah, it would, but I don’t care, and they’ll like you once we start popping out kids.”

“Oh, so that’s how it is,” he said, smiling at her.

“Stop it. It doesn’t matter to me.”

“I know,” Trevor said.

“Maybe we should talk about something else.”

“Kaylee?” Trevor asked, his face serious.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Will you be my wife? Will you marry me?”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Answer the question,” he said, stern look on his face.

“You really mean it, don’t you?”

“Yes, I really mean it,” Trevor said. “I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”

“Oh, Trevor,” she said, pulling him in for a hug, shaking as she cried. He pulled back from her.

“Answer the question.”

“Yes,” she said, smiling, then laughing. “Of course, yes.”

They kissed tenderly, then backed up and looked into each other’s eyes.

***

“Ed’s been behind us for too long,” Erica said, trudging along next to Sam in the mid-afternoon heat.

“Should we go backwards and find him?”

Erica thought about it for a moment.

They stopped walking.

“No, we should keep going,” Erica said. “He had two warriors with him, and they’re well-armed. I’m just being paranoid.”

“Okay,” Sam said.

They walked silently for a while, Erica’s brow furrowed.

“We could try to call him,” Sam said.

“Maybe in a little while,” Erica said. “We don’t have much juice left in our phones, remember?”

“Wait, I hear him,” Sam said. “Listen.”

Erica turned her head backwards and then smiled. “Yes, that’s him.”

See, he’s fine,” Sam said. They continued walking, listening to the sound of the hovercraft getting closer and closer, and then it was right behind them. They turned around and watched as Ed drove next to them. He looked at them, brow furrowed.

“What’s wrong?” Erica asked.

“There’s a couple hundred Islamists on our tail.”

The two warriors in the craft nodded in agreement.

“Any chance we can take them on?” Sam asked.

“Maybe, if we had a perfect setup,” one of the warriors said.

“Describe perfect,” Sam asked.

“Nice ridges that we could fire on them from,” Ed said. “There’s nowhere like that for the rest of the trip.”

“We need superior numbers, then, don’t we?” Erica asked.

“It’s a race against time, at this point,” Ed said. “If we keep going, they’ll have a hard time catching us. They’re a few miles behind us, and they’re not moving quite as fast.”

One of the warriors nodded in agreement. “They obviously aren’t used to walking through this terrain the way that our people are.”

“Even if we keep going, we’ll have to deal with them eventually,” Erica said.

“Yes, but we’ve got a lot of strength at the destination,” Sam said. “Garrett has a lot of people, and we have those battle wagons too.”

“Do we need to warn them?” Erica asked.

Sam froze for a moment, then smiled. “I have an idea.”

“What?” Ed asked.

“Garrett’s men ride,” Sam said. “Maybe we ought to have them ride their horses out here with a few hundred men.”

“You think they would do that?” Ed asked.

“Probably,” Sam said. “I’ll make the call, but my phone battery is getting pretty close to dead.”

“We’ll charge you guys up,” Ed said. “That’s not a problem.”

“I’ll bet the folks who came in Jeeps would come too,” Sam said. “There are others with Jeeps as well. Don’t know if we have good enough drivers for all of them, though.”

“Call,” Ed said, “but while you’re walking. I’m going up to warn the others. We don’t camp tonight.”

“Roger that,” Sam said, pulling out his phone. “Crap. No service.”

“Don’t worry, there’s a higher place that we’ll get to in about an hour,” Erica said. “That’ll probably give you service.”

“See you soon,” Ed said. He took off in the hovercraft with the two warriors.

“He’s worried,” Erica said.

“Yeah, that’s pretty obvious,” Sam said.

“What if they can’t get here fast enough?”

“Then we’ll take them on when we get to Dulzura,” Sam said. “We’ve got almost nine hundred fighters waiting for us there.”

“What if there are more bad guys on their way to Dulzura?” Erica asked. “On the highway instead of this trail?”

“Then we fight them,” Sam said. “Maybe we die. Maybe we live. I feel like I’m on borrowed time anyway.”

“You don’t look worried, though,” Erica said.

“I’m not,” he said. “Not anymore.”

“Why?”

“I can’t tell you. Just trust me.”

“No, that’s not good enough,” she said. “It was that dream last night, wasn’t it? You seem more relaxed since last night.”

“Maybe I’m more relaxed because of what we did,” Sam said, glancing at him.

She started into his eyes for a moment as they walked. “No, something’s different. Tell me.”

“It’s just a dream,” Sam said. “If it makes me feel more confident, just go with it.”

“Just go with it,” she said. “Sounds like Ed.”

Sam chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what he said about you. Just go with it.”

She looked at him, a smile on her face. “Crap, your wife told you something in that dream.”

“I really don’t want to go into it,” Sam said. “It’s dumb.” He pulled out his phone and looked at it.

“Nothing, right?” Erica asked. “Told you. We need to be at the higher place.”

“Okay, you’re right,” he said. “Just anxious, that’s all.”

“But every time you check you turn on the screen. It uses more battery.”

“I know,” Sam said.

“You’re really not going to tell me, are you?”

“Nope,” Sam said. “Is it going to make you angry?”

“A little, maybe,” Erica said.

They walked along for another half an hour, the grade of the trail climbing. “That’s it up there,” he said. “Isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said, “but it’s further than it looks. You aren’t complaining about soreness as much now.”

“You were right,” Sam said. “This is getting me into better shape. I’m into it now. I feel great.”

“Good. Especially now that we probably won’t bed down tonight.”

“Listen,” Sam said. “Ed’s coming back.”

“Maybe he’s got some news,” Erica said.

“Here he comes, at a good clip. He’s alone.”

He pulled up and stopped by them.

“Climb in you two,” he said. “Plug your phone in here.” He held up a charging cable. “You’ve got Apple, right?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, climbing in and then helping Erica. He fished his phone out of his pocket and plugged it in as the engine vibrated the craft.

“Hold on,” he said, heading forward.

“How’d they take it?” Erica asked. “Not stopping for the night, that is?”

“Same as they always do,” Ed said. “Grit and determination.”

“That’s what I expected,” Sam said. “You have a strong culture and strong people.”

“We do,” Ed said. “Thanks for noticing.”

They sped up the grade, getting to the top. “Okay, try it now.”

Sam nodded and pulled the phone towards him, leaving it plugged in, bending down to get close enough. “Only got one bar. Hope it’s enough.” He hit Sid’s contact. It rang twice.

“Sam?” Sid asked. “Everything okay?”

“Hi, Sid,” Sam said. “No, we’re being followed by a couple hundred Islamists.”

“Dammit,” Sid said. “How far away?”

“Maybe a mile,” Sam said. “We aren’t stopping tonight. Hopefully they will, and it’ll allow us to gain some ground.”

“You guys are scaring me,” Sid said. “You didn’t call just to say that. You want the cavalry out there, don’t ya?”

“How’d you guess. You know what trail we’re on. Think you could have a chat with Garrett and Ji-Ho?”

“Perfect timing,” Sid said. “I’ll go talk to them now. You said a couple hundred, right?”

“Yep,” Sam said.

“All right. How hard will it be to have another call?”

“I don’t know,” Sam said. “Spotty coverage. We’re at the top of a ridge right now. Once we get off it I might be in the dark.”

“Okay, don’t worry,” Sid said. “I suspect Garrett and his men would love a little cavalry operation. You know those guys. We’ll bring the Jeeps too. And mortars and our other toys.”

“Great, thanks,” Sam said. “Talk to you soon, I hope.”

“If you don’t hear from me, trust that I’ve got help on the way, all right?”

“All right, thanks,” Sam said. He ended the call.

“Well?” Erica asked.

“Sounds good,” Sam said. “Garrett just happens to be at the Williams place right now. He also said they’d bring the Jeeps with some of our toys.”

“Toys?” Ed asked.

“Mortars, M60s, BARs, a few RPGs. Everything you need for a good party.”

Erica snickered and shook her head. “I’m gonna like these folks.”

“And they’re gonna like you,” Sam said.

“I’ll get you guys up with the main group. We’re gonna pass out food and rest for about ten minutes, then be on our way again. Can you still cover the back door?”

“Whatever you need,” Sam said.

Erica touched his arm, their eyes meeting as the hovercraft sped towards the main group. She mouthed I love you to him.

***

Dinner was over, and desert, and after-dinner drinks. The rows of picnic tables still look festive between the warehouse and the groundkeeper’s quarters, with strings of clear lights above them.

A tech approached Jules and whispered in his ear as he talked to Ted and Cody. He nodded at Shelly, who was sitting at the next picnic table over, chatting with Karen. She nodded back, then got up and came over.

“Is our coach ready?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll go get if you want to keep talking to Karen.”

“No, she’s leaving now anyway,” Shelly said.

“Where Tex?”

“Already in their coach,” Shelly said as Jules got up. “She’s nervous about that bedroom.”

“I hope it better,” Jules said. “Might not be enough.”

“We’ll see,” Shelly said.

“Still resist Tex?”

Shelly smiled and glanced at him. “Funny how men and women are.”

“What mean?”

“She’s interested in what’s going on between you and me, and I’m interested in what’s going on between her and Tex.”

Jules chuckled. “Humans.”

“Yeah, we’re something, aren’t we?” Shelly said. They entered the warehouse, the technician waiting for them by the door.

“There’s just a couple things I need to show you, sir,” the Tech said. He led them inside. “First of all, watch your head. This grenade launcher is in a bad place.”

Jules chuckled as he looked at it, an octagon-shaped structure hanging down from the ceiling. “You right. No matter how much I try, I still bump head. Wait and see.”

“We put this hard rubber on the outside,” the tech said, pushing on it, “but it’s not going to be enough if you’re moving fast when you hit it. Please be careful.”

“Okay,” Jules said, smiling, shooting a glance at Shelly. “You shorter. Not as bad.”

“Yes, not as bad,” Shelly said. “Watch me bump my head too.”

The tech opened the rear part of the structure. “Load here. Make sure the belt feeds properly through here and here.” He pointed to the spots, making sure that both Jules and Shelly saw it.

“No problem,” Jules said. “What else?”

“In front, see the new sight above the passenger seat?”

“Yes,” Jules said.

“The driver has to send the control to the passenger.” He showed a lever on the side of the driver’s sight.

“Can the passenger fire both mini gun and M19?”

“Yes,” the tech said. “The two sights work the same. The passenger might have their hands full, because the controls for the front and rear machine guns are still on the tray in front of the seat.”

“Understand. Can one sight fire both big guns at same time?”

“Yes, but it’s a new feature. It’s a little buggy. I’d avoid it if possible.”

“How could you do both at once?” Shelly asked.

“The dual mode splits the screen into two separate reticles,” the tech said. “Like I said, avoid it for now. We ran out of test time. You’ll probably get some updated software in the next few days.”

“We got,” Jules said. “What else?”

“Bedroom sight,” the tech said, walking back there. “Come in.”

Shelly and Jules joined him.

“See, on mini gun structure. Pull this down and in front of your face.”

Shelly laughed. “So, we can lay in bed and fire?”

“Yes,” the tech said. “We had a lot of fun with this back at the plant.”

“Yes,” Jules said, a sly grin on his face. “I bet.”

“Is this all?” Shelly asked.

“Yep, that’s it,” the tech said. “There are the added siege mode features, but they don’t require any change in procedures.”

“Okay, good,” Shelly said. “Let’s get this thing out of here. I’m tired.”

“Yes, let’s,” Jules said.

The tech nodded. “It’s all yours.”

“Good,” Jules said. “How many more?”

“Four,” he said. “We’ll be done mid-day tomorrow.”

“All right, thank you,” Jules said. He got into the driver’s seat and brought the rig out of siege mode, as Shelly sat in the passenger seat. He drove slowly out of the warehouse, then drove to the place they’d been parked before, backing in quickly. “I go hook up.”

“Good,” Shelly said. “See you in a couple minutes.”

He left the coach. Shelly took a paper towel, got it damp, and then wiped off a few places where she saw grease smudges, just finishing as Jules got back inside.

“Everything look okay?” he asked, closing the door behind him.

“Just a few smudges,” she said. “They’re gone. I’m going to bed.”

“I join, okay?”

“Okay, normal rules apply.”

“Of course,” he said, smiling at her.

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

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!

 

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Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

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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

Bugout! California Part 88 – Shadow Government

Jules backed the coach into the work bay, Shelly in the passenger seat. “I think we in.”

“The tech is motioning to keep moving backwards,” Shelly said.

“Okay,” he said, giving the massive coach a little more gas.

“Hold it there,” Shelly said.

Jules shut down the coach. “What time?”

“It’s about five,” Shelly said. “What time is dinner?”

“Six,” Jules said. “Walk?”

“Sure, why not,” Shelly said, getting out of her seat. Jules followed her out the door of the rig.

“How long?” Jules asked the tech.

“Five hours,” he replied.

“So, we sleep in house tonight?”

“No, you’ll have this back by about ten,” the tech said. “We’ll have two more coaches in here to work on by then, and they’ll use the house.”

“Okay,” Jules said. “Thank you.”

“I’m just as glad,” Shelly said as they walked out. “That coach kinda feels like home now.”

“Yes,” Jules said. “It is home.”

“Hey, Partner,” Tex said as he saw them leaving the warehouse. “They’re doing yours now, huh?”

“Yes,” Jules said.

“Hi, Tex,” Shelly said. “Where’s Karen?”

“She’s inside freshening up,” Tex said.

“Things all right between you two?” she asked.

“We’re past the battle stage, I think,” he said with a sheepish grin.

“Good,” Shelly said.

“Yes, good,” Jules said. “How’s coach?”

“They did a great job,” Tex said. “Love the sight on the M19, and I love that we can shoot either gun from three different locations in the coach.”

“Three locations?” Shelly asked.

“Both front seats, and bedroom,” Jules said.

“Bedroom? Why?”

“It’d be a life saver if we get attacked while we’re asleep, little lady,” Tex said. “I was wondering why Ivan would be okay with gutting our bedroom. They used ours as the pilot to do that retrofit.”

“The bedroom fine now?” Jules asked.

“Seems fine,” Tex said. “We’ll see how it is to sleep in tonight. What are you guys up to?”

“Walk before dinner,” Jules said.

“How romantic,” Tex chided.

“Shut up,” Shelly said. A faint smile washed over her face.

“I’m just kidding, little lady. Enjoy.”

Jules and Shelly walked off, down a path with a canopy of tree branches.

“It’s pretty here,” Shelly said.

“Yes, is,” Jules said. “Reminds me of family estate in Belgium.”

“Your family has an estate?” Shelly asked, looking up at him.

“Yes.”

“Still?” she asked.

“Still,” he said. “Sister and brother there. Me when I’m in Europe.”

“You don’t like it over there anymore? Or did you leave when Ivan was forced out of the EU?”

Jules chuckled. “I not follow Ivan out, if that’s what you say.”

“You didn’t? Then why did you leave?”

“American citizen,” Jules said.

“You’re an American citizen?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Fifteen year.”

“Are you still a citizen of Belgium?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Family business still there. Dual citizen. Sticky mess with taxes, but I put up with.”

“Why are you over here now, with all this mess? Couldn’t you just ride this mess out from there?”

Jules chuckled. “You not understand war fully.”

“It’s just a bunch of crazy jihadists trying to spread Islam,” Shelly said. “Isn’t it?”

“Then why UN here?” Jules asked.

“I was wondering about that,” she said.

“You don’t think they here for moral purpose, I hope.”

“There’s been stories of UN Peacekeepers abusing populations before,” Shelly said.

“UN over here using martial law, rape, and murder to subjugate population. This my country. I stop. I fight.”

Shelly looked at him, the wheels turning in her head.

“You know Globalists control EU and UN, no?”

“That’s conspiracy theory stuff, isn’t it?” Shelly asked.

Jules looked at her, watching her think it through.

“Quit staring at me like that. It feels like you can see into my brain.”

“Sorry,” Jules said, looking forward again.

“Why would the Globalists want to send the UN over here to subjugate Americans?”

Jules chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” she asked, starting to get annoyed. “They’re here to help with the Islamists, right?”

“UN and Islamists on same team. Work together. EU involved. This why I not stay there.”

“Crap,” Shelly said. “Is the US Government in on this?”

“Yes.”

“Dammit,” Shelly said.

Jules stopped walking, and pulled her close. “You part of resistance. Be proud.”

“Wait a minute,” she said, pulling herself away from him. “This isn’t making sense.”

“Sorry,” Jules said, backing away, eyes still on her. It wasn’t anger in his eyes. It was love and pride. “You on verge of understanding.”

“You’re saying that my own government participated in my rape.”

“Yes,” Jules said, “but own government no longer of people. This is what we fight to take back. We stop their pilot project in west.”

“Pilot project?”

“Martial law in California,” Jules said. “Pilot for whole country.”

“So why are they working with the Islamists?”

“They think muscle help them,” Jules said. “Saladin turn. Take world for Caliphate after Globalists win.”

“How come this kind of fighting isn’t going on in the EU?”

“EU already subjugate people. Royalty still in control of Europe. No guns for people, no free speech for people, restrictions on everything. Noose in place around European neck. If America fall, trap door under Europe kicked out from under people.”

Shelly was starting to tremble, looking up at him with teary eyes. “This can’t be true. You’re lying.”

“Don’t worry,” Jules said softly. “They stupid. We win. Martial law gone in LA and Orange Counties. Nearly gone south of there. Gone in rural areas to east. Now we make final assault. Take back northern areas.”

“What if they send in reinforcements? They must have huge resources.”

“Three hundred fifty million guns in citizen hands,” Jules said. “That what spoil plan. That why constant gun control talk come from Feds over many years. Won’t work. Once people really free, tyranny very difficult for Globalists to impose.”

Shelly was silent for a few minutes as they walked.

“Are you really a mobster?” she asked.

Jules laughed. “I said. Resistance. That full time job for now.”

“Is Ivan a mobster?”

“Same as me for now,” Jules said. “Later go back, maybe.”

“He’s going to take over if we win, isn’t he?”

Jules laughed.

“That isn’t funny.”

“No, Ivan not do that. Even if want, he have same problem Globalists have. Can’t fight army of three hundred million.”

“I have to think this whole thing through,” Shelly said. “We should turn back. Dinner will be soon.”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Hungry.”

“Do the others know?” Shelly asked.

“Tex, Sparky, Ted, and Cody know. Robbie smart, figured out on own. Small wonder.”

“Why small wonder?”

“Father key to victory in Southwest,” Jules said. “Don’t tell anybody.”

“Who’s his father?”

“Genius,” Jules said. “Hope to meet someday. You handle top secret?”

“Top secret?”

“Yes, tell nobody, even inner circle. You can do, no?”

Shelly searched his eyes. “Why would you tell me?”

“You’re my second,” Jules said.

“What do you mean by that? If something happens to you, I wouldn’t be running things, would I?”

“No,” Jules said. “Tex. I mean you’re my right-hand person. You must know what I know.”

“You trust me that much?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “You can’t tell this? Should be obvious by now, no?”

She sighed. “I know you like me, but this is different.”

“Different, yes, but not unconnected,” Jules said. “Well?”

“Yes, you can trust me, Jules,” Shelly said, “and I trust you.”

“You trust me?”

“Several nights sleeping naked in bed with you,” Shelly said. “You haven’t tried anything. You won’t, unless I let you. I know that.”

“Good, that true,” Jules said. “Robbie. Ivan and I make think he in danger because of father.”

“What do you mean?”

“Robbie find out father is leader of resistance.”

“How? Is he talking to him?”

“Communications difficult. Father thinks Robbie in army.”

“Oh, a cover story,” Shelly said. “So how?”

“Internet searches. Ran across photo of resistance camp in Utah. Parent’s motor home on picture. Mom’s face behind windshield.”

“Did you know about that?”

“No,” Jules said. “No idea. Ivan and I make plan to keep him with group no matter what.”

“Why?”

“Protect,” Jules said. “If enemy know, they use.”

“How do you know his father is really that important?”

“General Hogan tell Ivan when they chat,” Jules said.

“Still not getting this.”

“I make sound like Ivan wants to lock up or kill Robbie so he can’t be used against father,” Jules said. “Hated to do. Now Robbie scared, but Ted and Sparky made him believe he’ll be okay.”

“You don’t want him sneaking off to join his parents, then?”

“Right,” Jules said, “and we don’t want enemy to see internet searches on father either. This make Robbie think twice. That all.”

“Couldn’t you just tell him the truth?”

“No,” Jules said.

“Why not?”

“It parents,” Jules said. “Emotions charge situation. He might monitor, see trouble, want to save. That would be bad.”

“Oh, I get it,” she said. “There’s a lot that I don’t know, isn’t there?”

“You know more than most of group; almost as much as me.”

“What don’t I know?” she asked.

He chuckled. “I not show management workup, but I will.”

“Management workup?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “We rate team like I rate normal employees. Code. Work to develop.”

“Who did this rating, exactly?”

“I, with Tex, Ted, and Sparky,” he said.

“So how did I rate?”

Jules chuckled. “I figured you’d ask.”

“Sorry,” she said. “You don’t have to tell me.”

“You in chief of staff position,” Jules said. “Useful for you to know.”

“You’ve got this written down, don’t you?”

Jules laughed. “I run multi-million-dollar business. We do with executive team. All executives do.”

Shelly thought about it for a moment. “You’re right. We did that when I was producing.”

“Yes,” Jules said. “What you and I do valuable. You understand that, no?”

“Never thought of it that way,” she said.

“We rank leader, trusted, probation, high potential,” Jules said. Color code. I like visuals.” He pulled out his phone and brought up a file, showing it to her.

“My name is coded in red,” she said. “What does that mean?”

“High potential,” Jules said.

“Oh,” she said, smiling at him. “Thank you.”

“Welcome, but not gift. You are what you are.”

“Oh,” she said. “Blue is obviously leadership. What’s green?”

“Trusted,” Jules said.

“And yellow?”

“Probation,” Jules said.

“Is that bad?”

“No, not bad, unproven,” Jules said. “Trusted people participated in battles before.”

“Okay, I get it,” she said. “What are those black blocks. I can’t read names.”

Jules looked at her silently, tears forming around his eyes. “They sacrificed.”

“Oh, God, it’s the people who are dead now,” Shelly said. “This really bothers you, doesn’t it?”

“Does,” he said, “I’m too emotional. My flaw.”

“That’s far from a flaw,” Shelly said.

“I can’t talk about. I hid names because of that.”

She put her arm around his waist. “It’s okay.”

“Hey, Jules, wondered where you were,” Sparky said, walking towards them with Dana. “Dinner’s almost ready. Smells good.”

“Hi,” Shelly said. “We were just on a walk. It’s so pretty here.”

“Isn’t it?” Dana asked, smiling, arm around Sparky’s waist. Shelly realized hers was still around Jules and dropped it, face turning red.

“Let’s eat,” Jules said, smiling. “Famished.”

“Yeah,” Sparky said. “Me too.”

They walked towards the house.

***

“Sam, come over here.”

His head snapped around, looking at the trail, dark and cold. “Connie?”

“Who do you think it is, sweetheart? Did you forget my voice already?”

“No, I,” he said.

“Softly, or they’ll hear,” Connie whispered. Her form walked towards him, in a white shift, her eyes glowing.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, walking towards her.

“Don’t touch me,” she said. “Or I’ll disappear. I have something to tell you first.”

“Oh, honey,” Sam said, feeling his cheeks getting wet with tears.

“Don’t leave the fight,” she whispered. “Not yet. I know you want to. I know it’s bothering you, like it did when you were in the service. This isn’t something you can walk away from. Stay the course. You’re more important than you know.”

“I’ve cheated,” he said, full of shame.

She giggled, like she always did before. “Oh please.”

“I did,” he said. “With another.”

“My time is over,” Connie said. “It’s her time now. She’ll give you what I couldn’t.”

“No,” Sam said.

“Protect her, but trust her to fight,” Connie said. “She’s the mother of your children.”

“How can you know that?”

“Just trust,” Connie said. “Come closer.”

He moved towards her on the dark path, and suddenly it wasn’t dark anymore, and she looked like she did the day they met.

“Oh Connie, I love you so,” he said.

“Remember me,” she said. “Come to me.”

He rushed forward, arms going around her, and she vanished into thin air.

“Connie!” he cried.

The gunshot woke him, and he sat up, feeling Erica move next to him.

“Crap,” Erica said. “We’re under attack.”

“Let’s go,” Sam said, his heart racing as he pulled his clothes back on. Both were out of the tent in a flash, Erica with her AK-47 and Sam with his M16. “I’ve got to get the M60.”

“Where is it?”

“Under a blanket in Ed’s hovercraft,” he said, breaking into a run, getting there just as Ed did.

“Take your M-60. I’ll take a couple of warriors with me in this to figure out how many there are. Protect your woman.”

Sam froze, the dream rushing back into his head.

“Snap out of it,” Ed shouted. “We need you.”

“I’m good,” Sam said, grabbing the M60 and the belts of ammo, throwing them over his shoulder. “Know where they are?”

“Following our trail,” Ed said, “Guess they do have some decent trackers.”

“Or some other way to see us,” Sam said. “They keep finding us.”

Several warriors rushed over with their AK-47s and a mortar. “You ready, Uncle?” one of them asked.

“Yes, get in,” he said.

Sam watched them take off down the road towards the pass, as more shots were fired by the sentries on the north ridge. Then Erica was by his side. “C’mon, I know a good place to sneak past that hill.”

He nodded and followed her in a run, the guns heavy in his hands, belt slapping his back.

Erica ran into a notch in the side of the mountain and climbed up quickly, with the grace of an antelope, Sam trying to keep up. Then she stopped at the top and peered over.

“It’s awful dark still,” she whispered as he got next to her, “but the sun will be up real soon.”

“Yeah, the east is already glowing,” Sam said, setting down the M-16 and aiming the M60. There was more gunfire from the ridge.

“They aren’t shooting back at us,” Erica said. Then there were muzzle flashes from below them as a machine gun started, firing at the top of the ridge

Sam chuckled. “Now I have them.” He opened fire with the M60, Erica joining in with her AK-47. There were screams below them and the gunfire stopped. Then there was a pop, a mortar falling in the area, lighting up everything.

“Willie peter,” Sam said.

“Geez, I can feel the heat from that up here,” Erica said. “Look, there’s a few running away.”

“Got them,” Sam said, firing the M60 again, dropping all of them.

“You’re good with that thing,” she said.

“It feels like a comfortable old pair of shoes,” he said, grinning at her. “Wonder if that was all?”

“Probably,” Erica said. “They’d still be returning fire. You leave anything in the tent?”

“Nope, everything I own is with me right now,” he said.

“Good, because the tribe is leaving now. It’ll be hard to figure out which tent we were in. They’re already down.”

Sam turned around and watched as the tribe was leaving the area, the tents already gone. Most of them were already around the pass at the south ridge. “Wow, they’re good.”

“Yep,” Erica said.

“We’re going to wait until it’s light and clean up stragglers, right?”

“You got it,” Erica said. “Hopefully they didn’t have a larger force behind them.”

“You said a mouthful there.”

“I think we just stopped a scouting party,” Erica said. “I think one of the sentries saw them. I doubt they wanted to attack yet. They might not even have known we were just past the ridge. We’d know if there were a bunch more around.”

“How?”

“Smell and sound,” Erica said. “The warriors are trained to pick that up.”

“Oh,” Sam said. They sat silently for a while, watching the area below them as the sun rose slowly.

“Hear that?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “That’s Ed’s hovercraft.”

“He’s coming back. Wonder if he found a larger group?”

“Maybe,” Sam said. “We shouldn’t go down to meet him yet. We should watch from here until it’s completely light.”

“I agree.”

They watched a while longer, the sun breaking over the far mountains now, bathing the area in yellow light.

“Nobody down there that I can see,” Erica said. “There’s really no cover.”

“Not when it’s light, anyway. “Those burned up bodies down there look a little disgusting. Maybe we should bury them.”

“Let the vultures take care of it,” Erica said.

Sam’s phone dinged. Then Erica’s.

“Broadcast text message,” Sam said, looking at his phone. “I’m almost out of battery.”

“Me too,” Erica said. “We can use Ed’s machine to recharge, but I’m sure we’re a ways back in the line. I’m gonna shut mine down. No reason to run both of them down to nothing. Bring up the message on yours, okay?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. He turned his screen so they could both read it. “Just like we thought. Scouting party.”

“They probably got a message off to their leadership,” Erica said.

“Probably,” Sam said. “Wish we knew if more were behind them.”

“I know,” Erica said. “We’re liable to stay on the road until we get out of here.”

“Tough on the older folks,” Sam said.

Erica laughed. “Hell, tough on us. I had plans for you before we left the tent, too, you know. Provided you weren’t feeling too guilty about last night.”

“You think I was feeling guilty?”

“You said Connie in your sleep a couple of times, right before the gunfire started.”

“You were awake?”

“Not for long,” Erica said.

“I had a dream,” Sam said. “That’s all.”

“Never ignore your dreams,” she said.

Sam chuckled.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Sam said.

“C’mon.”

“I’ll tell you about the dream someday,” he said.

“Uh oh,” she said, brow furrowed.

“Trust me, you’ll like what it was about.”

“You’re going to tell me that and just stop?” she asked.

“Yep,” he said, watching her thinking. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply.

“Wow, what was that for?”

“You know what it was for. We should take off, or we’ll get too far behind the tribe.”

“Yeah, I think it’s safe now,” Erica said, shooting him a sidelong glance before climbing down.

“Hope Ed is around so I can put this damn M60 back in it.”

“He’s down in the clearing where we were camped,” Erica said. “See?”

“Oh, yeah, now I see him,” Sam said. “Good.”

They climbed down the hill and walked over to him.

“You guys okay?” Ed asked.

“Yeah, we’re fine,” Erica said.

“Mind if I put this M60 in the back?”

“That’s why I waited here,” Ed said, smiling. Sam loaded it up.

“Mind taking up the rear for a while? I already took the two warriors back to the main group.”

“Sure, we’ll watch the back door,” Sam said.

“No problem,” Erica said.

“Okay, see you soon.” Ed fired up the hovercraft and drove forward.

“Alone again,” Sam said.

“Good,” Erica said. “Can you kiss me one more time?”

Sam pulled her into his arms again. “I think that could be arranged.”

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

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!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

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

Bugout! California Part 87 – Hovercraft Ride

“I think we’re stopping for the night,” Sam said, his feet and back aching. They were approaching a meadow area between two small ridges, with a sandy surface that was almost smooth. The shadows were getting long, the sun close to the western horizon.

“Looks like you’re right,” Erica said. “We’ve stopped here before. Not sheltered enough for a long stay, but there is a spring nearby.”

“Oh, and a pool for skinny dipping?”

She chuckled. “No such luck there. Don’t think you’d be up to it anyway.”

“Where are we sleeping?”

“Plenty of tents to go around,” Erica said. “You can even have one to yourself, but I’d advise against that.”

“Why?”

“We’ll end up in the same one anyway,” she said, glancing at him.

“Oh, really?”

“Really,” she said. “You don’t want me out of your sight.”

Sam chuckled. “Okay, whatever you say, mam.”

People were gathering around an area in the center, picking through tents that were carried on the backs of many of the young men there. Ed drove the hovercraft up in a cloud of dust, smiling when he saw Erica and Sam. He shut down the engine, and the craft sank onto the sand.

“Still together, huh?” Ed asked as he walked over.

“So far,” Erica said.

“How does it look up ahead?” Sam asked.

“Clear. Some rough terrain coming tomorrow morning, though.”

“Wonder if the enemy is following us?” Erica asked.

“I’m going back to wipe out some of our tracks,” Ed said. “At least to the second fork. I’d better take off, before it gets too dark. You want to go along, Sam?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Good, let’s go, then. I’m sure Erica won’t mind setting up the tent for the two of you.”

“No problem at all,” she said, smiling.

“You think we’re spending the night together?” Sam asked as they walked away.

“Don’t you?” Ed said, shooting him a grin. “Sometimes it’s just best to accept things. Climb aboard. Bring your rifle.”

Sam sat in the passenger seat, setting his M-16 down in the back. Ed got into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine, lifting the vehicle. Then he put his foot on the clutch and engaged the rear propeller, and they were off.

“Wow, this thing is great,” Sam said.

“One of my favorite toys,” Ed said, grinning. “Small engine, too, so it sips gasoline. Speak loudly, though. I don’t hear so well anymore, and this thing does make a lot of noise.” Sam nodded in agreement.

“My hearing isn’t so great anymore either,” Sam said. “Old age setting in I guess. Where are you getting the fuel?”

“The Jeeps left cans along the way,” he said.

“Ah, Sid, Tyler, and those guys?”

“Yep,” Ed said. “They wanted to return, but I told them to hold off until we’re a lot closer. I don’t think we’ll need them.”

They cruised along the path, the bottom rotor blowing the sand below them. Sam looked behind. “That does get rid of the footprints, doesn’t it?”

“Good enough for an Indian tracker, or even a good paleface tracker? Not really. Good enough for these peasants from the Middle East? Yep.”

Sam chuckled. “Well, tracking was never my forte.”

“But you know how,” Ed said. “I’ve seen how you look at the ground.”

“Okay, you found me out,” Sam said. “Hunting, and Special Forces too.”

“Yeah, I figured.”

“Did you bring me along for protection? Do you think we’re being followed?”

“Maybe,” Ed said. “This is hard country, though. My expectation is that they gave up.”

“How accurate are your expectations, usually?”

“They vary.”

“How widely do they vary?”

“Widely enough for me to bring you along,” Ed said. “You mind?”

“Not at all,” Sam said.

“Tell me about your group,” Ed said. “Honestly.”

“You mean Ivan’s group, or the group I started with?”

“Both,” he said. “We’ve got time.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “I didn’t really start with a fighting force. I was running the RV Park in Dulzura. We heard of attacks happening along Highway 94 and started watching. They eventually sent a scouting party to our park, intending to kill us and steal our supplies. We got the drop on them and killed them. After that they were constantly trying to attack us.”

“You blocked up the highway,” Ed said. “That was a military operation, was it not?”

“Well, yes, by that time we were in it pretty deep. We’d decided to be partisans at that point, and some of us left the RV Park to help your tribe attack that supply depot.”

“Yes, where One Eye was killed.”

“And my wife,” Sam said. “The enemy went to the RV Park and slaughtered everybody there, too.”

“I heard about this. It was hard on you. Your wife and your friends.”

“It was,” Sam said, trying to push the feelings back. “How much further are we going?”

“Another few miles. We want to be back before it gets dark. There’s no lights on this thing. It’s pretty fragile. You have to be careful what you drive over.”

“I could imagine,” Sam said. “What else do you want to know?”

“How close are you to Ivan the Butcher?”

“Not very,” Sam said. “I know him through a mutual friend. Ji-Ho.”

“I heard about him from Tyler,” Ed said. “He said Ji-Ho is a Korean millionaire with a questionable past, brave to a fault, and loyal to Ivan.”

“That’s accurate,” Sam said.

“What kind of questionable past does he have?”

“He was a weapons dealer,” Sam said. “The US Government didn’t like his dealings very much, but they’ve never been able to nail him.”

“Why is he involved here?”

“He has family in North Korea,” Sam said. “He knows what a police state is like. He doesn’t want that here.”

“How does he know Ivan?”

“Arms deals,” Sam said, “among other things.”

“You trust this man?”

“I’ve fought with him before,” Sam said. “I’d trust him with my life, and he’d trust me with his.”

“Friends like that are good to have.”

“I think so,” Sam said. “What are your plans after the war?”

“We’ll go back to our land, and get the Casino running again,” Ed said. “This has been very bad for us. We’ve lost many people. It’ll be hard to recover.”

“That’s why you welcome the pairing of Kaitlyn and Megan,” Sam said.

“Well yes, basically,” Ed said, “although I don’t have any illusions about that, and watering down the blood of the tribe isn’t my first choice. It’s just that we’re getting too small to sustain ourselves. We were never a huge tribe to begin with. Now we’re down to about a hundred couples of child-bearing age.”

“It’s starting to get a little dark,” Sam said.

Ed smiled. “Yes, I’m forgetting myself in the conversation.” He made a sweeping turn and headed back.

“You don’t know that Kaitlyn and Megan will stay with the tribe,” Sam said.

“You are correct,” Ed said. “I don’t know that you and Erica will either.”

Sam chuckled and shook his head. “Hey, I like her, and she is downright gorgeous, but I’m not going to rush into anything with her.”

“Oh, I’m kinda teasing you about that a little bit,” Ed said, “but I’d be proud to have you in the tribe, even if you didn’t live with us.”

“I’m very impressed with your tribe,” Sam said, “and your culture. I hope you can keep it going.”

“We will, in some form,” he said. “We’re just barely going to make it back before sunset. How’s your night vision?”

Sam chuckled. “I’m not a youngster. Maybe it’s a little better than yours.”

“Okay, if you see anything in the road that sticks up, like tree branches or rocks over about a foot tall, mention it just in case I don’t see it.”

“Will do,” Sam said. “At least we didn’t see any enemy fighters.”

“I didn’t really expect any, but you can’t be too careful.”

“I think you wanted to pick my brain,” Sam said, smiling at him. “Not that I minded.”

He glanced over and grinned. “Sure, that was part of it. Hope you don’t mind.”

“You’re moving your people into our group,” Sam said. “Any good leader would ask questions about that.”

“Are there any plans beyond what you and Sid mentioned already?”

“Not for me,” Sam said. “My core group of people would like to get the bad guys out of our area and then settle back into a normal, peaceful life.”

“Your core group of people?”

“Yes, and that’s not many people. Myself, Sid and Yvonne, John and Sarah, and Clem.”

“The others came along afterwards, I assume?”

“Yes, we merged with Ji-Ho’s group.”

“That’s where Kaitlyn and Megan’s men came from, correct?” Ed asked.

“Yes. I can’t tell you what they are planning to do after we clean up eastern San Diego County and Imperial County. I said I’d stick with them until that job is done.”

“You won’t continue on with Ji-Ho after your goals are complete?”

“Not unless I see a really good reason to do so,” Sam said.

“And you don’t know about Kaitlyn and Megan’s men?”

Sam chuckled. “When they got separated from the main group, after that bad battle near Julian, both said they’d be okay with disappearing into the woodwork with Kaitlyn and Megan.”

Ed smiled. “They want to go live happily ever after.”

“You know how young love is,” Sam said.

“They didn’t, though, did they?”

“Nope,” Sam said. “Part of that is probably due to Trevor and Kaylee. They were all from the same circle of friends in Torrance when all of this mess started.”

“Kaylee is Ji-Ho’s niece, correct? That might lead the group to stay together longer.”

“Maybe,” Sam said. “Again, I really don’t know. We don’t have a hierarchal structure, and I’m not a leader, except sometimes in battle. Watch that branch on your right.”

“I see it, thanks,” Ed said, swerving the hovercraft.

“You’re speeding up a little.”

“The sun always goes down faster than I expect, and there’s not much moon tonight,” he said. “What about Garrett’s people?”

“We didn’t join with them until recently,” Sam said.

“How did that happen?”

“We went to see if we could recover some rigs from my RV Park, since we were close to Dulzura again at the time. We found that Garrett and his men were using the RV Park as a kill zone.”

“Kill zone?”

“Yeah, they were luring enemy fighters there, ambushing them, then storing the bodies in my clubhouse, covered with pig’s blood and carcasses.”

Ed chuckled. “That’s pretty bloodthirsty.”

“War is war,” Sam said. “We joined up after that, as much out of necessity as anything. Fought a couple of battles with them. We’d probably be dead now if not for them.”

“What they’re doing ruins your park, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, I’ll have to tear down the clubhouse and rebuild, I suspect, but that’s about it. I’ve got the resources to do that if I choose.”

“You aren’t sure you want to go back there, are you?” Ed asked.

“That place is full of memories of Connie,” Sam said. “I don’t know if I can live there anymore. I might just do a quick renovation and sell the place. Maybe open up something elsewhere.”

“Closer to us, I hope,” Ed said. “Look, we’re almost home. See the smoke?”

Sam got a nervous look on his face. “I hope that’s just a campfire.”

“It is,” Ed said. “I can tell by the smell. We know which kind of wood to use.”

Sam chuckled. “So, your sense of smell is still sharp, eh?”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “We’re just around the bend. Sorry to have taken you away from Erica for so long.”

Sam shook his head and chuckled. “How do you know she’s really interested in me, anyway?”

“I know both of you,” Ed said, “but don’t worry, I won’t bug you. The choices you each make for your lives are your own.”

The hovercraft rounded the bend, in sight of the tribe, and slowed. Ed shut down the engine, and it settled into the sand.

“That was interesting,” Sam said.

“It was.”

“You find out everything you need to know?” Sam asked with a twinkle in his eye.

“No,” Ed said, “but I got a good start, and I know who else I need to talk to when we get to the Williams place. Thanks.”

“Good,” Sam said. He walked towards the fire. An arm went around his waist as he walked, and he looked to his right and saw Erica’s smiling face looking up at him.

“How was your ride?” she asked.

“Interesting,” Sam said. “No sign of bad guys.”

“We’ve got sentries on both ridges,” Erica said, “but we’re probably safe here.”

“Think this is the last night on the road?”

“Before we get to the William’s place? No, we’ll probably have to camp tomorrow night too, unless we have help getting home.”

“It would take a lot of vehicles to move all of us,” Sam said.

“True,” she said. “Hungry?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Good. There’s some chili in the big pot. We need to eat it tonight. No way to keep it good for another night.”

“What do we eat tomorrow night?”

She snickered. “Granola bars, nuts, candy, crackers.”

Sam chuckled. “Hey, no problem. We’re on a hike.”

“That we are. Let’s get some of that chili. We’ll have to eat it out of paper coffee cups.”

“You haven’t eaten yet?”

“No, I waited for you, silly,” she said. They got cupfuls out of the pot, sitting on a rusty grate over the fire pit, and took them a few yards away, sitting on some small boulders that ringed the fire pit.

“You guys put this here?” Sam asked, taking his first bite of chili with a plastic spoon.

“Yes, we come here from time to time,” Erica said. “This isn’t bad chili.”

“Hits the spot for me,” Sam said, taking a second spoonful.”

“Well, get seconds if you’re hungry.”

“I probably will,” he said.

“What did you two talk about?”

Sam chuckled. “History of my group. What you’re plans are for the rest of the war and afterward.”

“Do you think he liked what he heard?”

“Basically, yes,” Sam said. “He talked you up some.”

She looked at him and giggled. “Sorry. He’s kind of a matchmaker. If I didn’t know differently, I’d suspect that he had something to do with Kaitlyn and Megan.”

“Those girls were definitely the aggressors in that situation,” Sam said. “Seth and Angel didn’t know what hit them.”

Erica laughed. “Yeah, I’ll bet. They both were having trouble finding somebody in the tribe that they liked, but weren’t too closely related to.”

“I got that impression,” Sam said. “Did you set up the tent already, or do you need a hand?”

“Oh, you’re okay with that now, are you?”

He got a sheepish grin on his face, nodding yes. “Why fight it?”

“Oh, good, that gives me a lot of license.”

Sam shot her an embarrassed glance. “I wasn’t meaning that way.”

“Uh huh,” she said. “We’re going to need to hit the sack pretty soon. Long day tomorrow.”

“I know,” Sam said. “You might regret this. I just ate chili.”

“So did I,” she said. “Want more?”

“No, I think I’ll stop at this.”

“Good, then let’s go,” she said, getting up. “Throw your cup into the fire, and toss the plastic spoon into the pan of water.”

“Re-using the spoons, huh?”

“Sure,” she said. “They wash up fine, and they’re light as a feather on the trail. We’ve washed and re-used plastic plates and bowls too. Same reason.”

“Good idea,” he said, following her to the fire, then on to the sea of tents beyond.

“So many,” Sam said. “I feel guilty for not carrying one of them.”

“Everybody has their job. Just be thankful and don’t worry about it. You did a job tonight, remember?”

“What?” he asked.

“You protected Ed and gave him information. You also kept him company. I can see how much he likes you.”

“The feeling is mutual there. He’s a wise man.”

“He is,” she said, kneeling in front of a tent, pulling the zipper up. She crawled in and switched on a small light. Sam followed her, looking around.

“Not much, but we don’t need much,” she said. “There’s a bottle of water up by the back there.”

“Space blanket?” Sam said, looking at the silver Mylar over a woven pad.

“We probably won’t even pull it over ourselves until very early morning,” she said.

“We sleeping with our clothes on?”

“You do what you feel comfortable with,” Erica said. She pulled her top off over her head and glanced at him. “Put your eyes back in your head.”

“Sorry,” he said as he unbuttoned his shirt.

“I’d be upset if you didn’t look at me like that,” she said. Her pants were off by the time he finished with his shirt, and she laid down on the pad, turning on her side, facing him. “Please continue.”

“You saw me at the pool already,” he said.

She giggled. “And you saw me, but you still got hit pretty hard by it just now.”

“You’re beautiful, and we’re alone this time,” Sam said, feeling himself getting excited. He felt a twinge of embarrassment as he finished getting undressed.

“My, you look different than you did before,” she said.

“Like I was saying, we’re alone now.” He laid on his back. “Don’t worry, it’ll settle down in a second.”

“No it won’t,” she said, moving closer to him, her leg going over his torso. “I’ll make sure of that.”

Sam groaned as she moved against him, and he pulled her closer, kissing her deeply.

To be continued…

 

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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!

 

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Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

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

Bugout! California Part 86 – Laundromat

IMG_1470

The three Jeeps rolled down the road into the Williams estate, Sid’s in the lead. The veranda of the big house was full of people, sitting around chatting. Yvonne saw the Jeeps and ran down to meet Sid, embracing him the second he got out.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes, sweetheart,” Sid said as they hugged.

“I’m so glad you’re back,” she said. “I was so worried.”

“Good, Ji-Ho and Garrett are both on the veranda. I need to have a quick chat. C’mon.”

“Where’s Sam?” Yvonne asked as they walked towards the house.

Sid chuckled. “Walking back with Erica.”

“Who’s Erica again?”

“Widow,” Sid said. “Beautiful. She’s also the person who trained Kaitlyn to fight.”

“Sounds like a match made in heaven.”

“Pretty much.” They climbed the steps.

“Welcome back,” Ji-Ho said.

“Thanks,” Sid said. He sat down on a chair, Yvonne sitting next to him.

“Where Sam?” Ji-Ho asked.

“Walking back with the tribe,” Sid said. “We got attacked by Islamists while we were at their spot.”

“Crap,” Garrett said. “Lose anybody?”

“No, we beat them like a red-headed stepchild,” Sid said.

Yvonne elbowed him, and he snickered.

“Ed with them?” Garrett asked.

“Yes, he’s the leader,” Sid said.

“I thought that Tyler,” Ji-Ho said.

“No, I’m the war chief,” Tyler said, walking up with James and Ryan. They pulled up chairs.

“I invited the tribe to come here,” Sid said. “Hope that’s okay.”

“Good, I was hoping you did that,” Garrett said. “They’re good people. We could use them on our side, and they’ll be safer with us.”

“We hope,” Ji-Ho said.

Clem walked over with John and Sarah. They pulled up chairs close by to join the conversation.

“Where’s Sam?” John asked.

“On the way, on foot, with the rest of the tribe,” Tyler said.

“How many we talking?” Ji-Ho asked.

“Couple hundred or so,” James said. “About half are good warriors. The rest are young and old.”

“Some of the old are smart as a whip,” Garrett said. “More brain power is valuable.”

“That true,” Ji-Ho said.

“Why are they leaving their hideout?” Clem asked.

“We were attacked by twelve Islamists,” Sid said.

“Oh,” Clem said. “Figures.”

“How soon will they get here?” Sarah asked.

“Probably take them a couple days at least,” Sid said.

“I’d say three or four,” Tyler said.

“Yeah,” James said. “Unless we can start picking them up. It’s possible once they get past those big rocks.”

There was a loud horn blast from the gate. Ji-Ho stood up, grinning ear to ear. “Battle Wagons arrive.” He walked down the steps and headed to the gate to meet them.

“He’s like a kid in a candy store,” Sarah said, shaking her head. Yvonne laughed.

“Seriously, but I’m glad we got them.”

“Yep,” Tyler said.

“Where was the tribe, anyway?” Clem said. “We got worried when you were gone overnight.”

“They were at a ghost town next to a mine,” Sid said. “Nice place.”

“I’ve been there, years ago,” Garrett said. “We modeled parts of Dodge City after that place. I’d love to go back someday.”

“The Islamists burned it after we left,” James said, face grim.

“No, really?” Garrett asked. “Those bastards.”

“Were they following you guys?” Sarah asked.

“They’d be on foot if they try it,” Sid said, “and the tribe is heavily armed.”

“Yeah, there’s some of those folks that the Islamists might not want to mess with,” Ryan said.

“Erica, for example,” Sid said. “She fights like Kaitlyn. Found out that she trained her after we had the dust-up. She did a drop, roll, and shoot maneuver that was beautiful.”

“That’s Erica,” James said.

“They’re lining up,” Garrett said, pointing at the row of coaches forming. “I thought you were only going to get six.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Clem said. “I count twelve.”

“Hats off to Ivan,” John said.

“Wonder what’s in that trailer?” Garrett asked. “Behind the green coach.”

“Probably ammo and equipment,” Sid said. “Might as well go down there and check it out. You guys are okay with the tribe coming here, right?”

“Hell yes,” Garrett said.

“Definitely,” John said, Clem nodding in agreement.

“Thank you for being so kind to my people,” Tyler said.

“Are you kidding?” Sid said. “You guys are like family to us.”

“Yes, I agree,” John said. “You saved us more than once, too.”

“And you saved us as well,” James said. “We are brothers forever.”

The group got up and made their way down to the row of coaches. Ji-Ho was beaming.

“Look, they give original request,” he said. “I surprised but very happy. Very very.”

“Now all we need is a couple of drones,” John said. Sid and Clem snickered.

“Hey, drone do job well,” Ji-Ho said. “Almost take out Saladin.”

“I agree,” John said. “We’re just teasing you.”

“I know,” Ji-Ho said. “Where Kaylee and Trevor?”

“Probably enjoying each other in the first battle wagon,” John said.

“John!” Sarah said.

Yvonne chuckled. “They’re like newlyweds. Good for them.”

“That good,” Ji-Ho said. “Here come. See?”

Trevor and Kaylee trotted over.

“Wow, uncle, how come we got so many?”

“Ivan surprise,” Ji-Ho said. “Nice. You move to one of these. I move back into my original rig. My stuff there.”

“Okay,” Trevor said, “but don’t you want one of the new ones? They’re safer and have more fire power.”

“No, I want my old one,” he said. “It home. Comfortable for me. You more important. World belong to young.”

Kaylee shot a worried glance at Trevor. He nodded.

“Wonder what that was about?” Yvonne whispered to Sid.

“I don’t know,” Sid whispered back. “Maybe Ji-Ho is sick.”

“I hope not,” she said. “He’s our connection to Ivan.”

“Yep,” Sid said.

Ji-Ho climbed into the first coach, with black paint on the sides and front. “Come, let’s check siege mode.”

Kaylee and Trevor climbed the steps.

Seth and Kaitlyn walked over, followed by Angel and Megan.

“Wow,” Seth said. “Look at these.”

The motors in the coach whirred as the shields moved into place. Then two turrets raised from the roof, the mini-gun in back and a smaller turret near the front.

“What’s that again?” Kaitlyn asked.

“That’s an M19,” Sid said. “Automatic grenade launcher.”

“Whoa, dude,” Angel said. “That thing looks bad-ass!”

“Seriously,” John said, looking at it. “Belt fed, see?”

“Where’s the rest of the tribe?” Kaitlyn asked.

“They’re coming on foot,” Tyler said. “Be a few days before they get here.”

“Where’s Sam?” Angel asked.

James snickered. “He’s walking with Erica.”

Kaitlyn’s eyes lit up. “Really? That’s great.”

“Hold your horses,” Sid said. “They aren’t together yet.”

“Emphasis on yet,” Ryan said. “Those two were made for each other, kinda like two other couples I can think of.”

Seth’s face turned red, but he pulled Kaitlyn close. “I hear you’ve been requested to do a job for your chief, Tyler.”

“Yep, as long as that’s what you two want.”

“It’s what we want,” Seth said.

“Yep,” Angel said. “When?”

“Can we wait until the tribe gets here?” Kaitlyn asked. “I want my mom and Erica to be there.”

“Of course,” Seth said.

Ji-Ho came out of the coach, smiling. “What you think?”

“That thing is awesome,” Angel said.

“It safer than old model. Armor underneath and in back to protect engine while under way. Grenade launcher make big difference too. Plus better electronics. Little less headroom in front of coach when turret not out, though. Have to watch head.”

“How we gonna divvy these up?” Seth asked.

“We meet,” Ji-Ho said. “When Sam back with other chief. I will give one to Trevor and Kaylee, though, and take back original.”

“Are these battle-proven yet?” Sid asked.

“No,” Ji-Ho said. “Team in north getting retrofit to match. They see action soon. I get report, tell.”

“Good,” Sid said. “There’s always the unexpected.”

“Yes, true,” Ji-Ho said.

***

Morgan woke next to Robbie. The bedroom of their battle wagon was comfortable. She felt safe and happy for the moment, but two things were bothering her. The coming battle was one. The other was more important, provided they survived. Her mind was going over ways to discuss that one with Robbie. She got out of bed and went into the salon to turn on the coffee maker. She could hear the muffled sounds of a saw cutting metal in the big warehouse, which, luckily for them, was about seventy yards away from where they were parked.

“Hey,” Robbie said, walking out, scratching his bed-head.

“Wow, you look so debonair,” she said to him as he approached. They embraced and kissed. “Brush your hair.”

He glanced at himself in the reflection of the microwave door, then chuckled. “Okay, that’s bad.” He went into the bathroom and got out his brush.

“Want coffee?” Morgan asked.

“Hell yes,” Robbie said. “I’m still waking up. You kept me awake too long last night.”

She giggled. “You didn’t seem to mind.”

“I didn’t,” he said, walking out. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you,” she said. “We could both use showers.”

“Seriously,” Robbie said, sitting at the dinette. “Glad we have a couple of days to relax before we have to fight again.”

“You and me both,” she said, watching the coffee maker sputter as it finished brewing the first cup. She took it out of the machine and set it in front of Robbie, then put her cup in and changed the pod.

“Thanks,” Robbie said. “Wonder if we get to check out the main part of the winery?”

“I’ll bet they want us to stay out of sight,” Morgan said, grabbing her cup. She sat across from him and took a sip. “Mmm, that’s good.”

“It is,” Robbie said. “You look like you want to tell me something.”

“I do,” she said. “I’m a little nervous about it.”

“Uh oh,” Robbie said. “Everything okay?”

“I’m late,” she said.

He looked at her blankly.

“I might be pregnant, silly,” she said.

“Oh!” he said. “Really? How sure are you?”

“We need to get a test kit,” she said. “I’ve never been pregnant before, so I might be wrong. My schedule stays like clockwork most of the time, though, so this is very unusual.”

“Maybe nerves are messing with your internal clock,” Robbie said.

“I doubt it,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot worse than we’ve seen lately.”

“True,” Robbie said, looking deep in thought.

“What do you think about it?”

He was silent for a moment, Morgan looking more and more nervous.

“Honey, settle down, okay?” he asked. “I see the wheels turning. Nothing would make me happier than having a baby with you. Really.”

“But?”

“But nothing,” Robbie said. “Would you be willing to keep the baby if we find out you are pregnant?”

“Yes,” she said softly.

“Good, because that would be my choice too. The only thing I’m worried about is providing for you while we’re at war.”

“Providing for me?”

“Keeping you safe and healthy,” Robbie said, “and as stress-free as possible.”

“Well, it could be a lot worse,” she said. “At least I know for sure that its yours.”

“Oh, crap, I didn’t think about that. Those cretins weren’t using protection.”

“Nope,” she said. “I had a period since you rescued us, though. We’re good.”

“Thank God for that,” Robbie said. “We should get married.”

“Do you want that?”

“Yes,” Robbie said. “Hell, I already consider us married. Don’t you?”

“I do,” she said. “It would be nice to make it official, though.”

“Make an honest woman out of you, huh?” Robbie said. “I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have you.”

“I feel the same,” she said.

Robbie got out of his seat.

“Need something?” she asked.

He knelt in front of her, and took her hand. “Morgan, will you be my wife?”

She teared up immediately. “Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure,” he said. “I love you so much. You can tell, can’t you?”

“Yes,” she said softly, “and yes, I’ll marry you.”

He stood, pulling her up into his arms and kissing her tenderly.

She broke the kiss and snickered. “Wow. Morning mouth and coffee.”

“I don’t care,” he said, coming in for another kiss.

“Oh, what the hell,” she said, kissing him hard. “If we keep this up, we’ll end up back there again.”

He picked her up. She squealed.

“What are you doing?” she asked, eyes dancing.

“Taking my woman,” he said, carrying her into the bedroom. They went at each other with passion.

“Whoa,” she said when they were done, laying on her back next to him. “That was intense.”

“It was,” Robbie said, pulling her hand to his face, kissing the back of it. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“Likewise,” she said. “You could’ve had me earlier, you know.”

“It wasn’t time yet,” Robbie said.

She looked over at him. “Actually, I think you’re right about that. We probably would’ve developed into a couple, but it would’ve been different.”

There was a knock on the door. “You guys up?”

“Justin,” Robbie whispered. “Hope they haven’t been there long.”

“Oh, crap,” Morgan said, an embarrassed smile on her face.

“Be out in a minute,” Robbie shouted. He and Morgan got dressed, and bolted out into the salon, Robbie going to the door. Katie and Justin were standing outside. “Come on in.”

“Hey, guys,” Katie said. “Sorry if you weren’t up yet.”

“They took our rig in for the retrofit,” Justin said. “They took Gil’s in too, so I suspect they’ll be here in a minute or two.”

“Here they come,” Robbie said, looking past Justin as he came in. “Come on in, folks.”

“Good morning,” Gil said, holding hands with Tisha. She smiled as they came up the steps.

“Have a seat,” Morgan said. “Coffee?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Gil said.

“Sure,” Katie said.

“Uh oh, what happened?” Tisha asked, eyeing Morgan. “You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.”

Morgan and Robbie shot each other a glance. Robbie shrugged.

“We’re engaged,” Morgan said, face turning red.

Tisha chuckled. “Knocked you up, did he?”

“Tisha!” Gil said.

“No, it’s okay,” Morgan said. “I might be pregnant. Not sure yet.”

“We would’ve done it anyway,” Robbie said.

“Yeah, I could see it coming,” Justin said.

“What about you guys?” Morgan asked.

Justin snickered. “I knew you’d go there.”

“Are you saying you don’t want to marry me?” Katie asked. She shot a grin over at Morgan and Tisha, both of whom cracked up.

“See what you started, man?” Gil asked.

“Seriously, dude,” Justin said.

“Answer the question,” Katie said with false outrage.

“We’ll discuss it in private,” Justin said, twinkle in his eye. Katie stopped, staring at him.

“What?” Justin asked.

“You would, wouldn’t you?” Katie looked him in the eye.

“Like I said, we’ll talk later.”

Tisha cracked up.

Gil laughed. “Hey, what if I asked you?”

Tisha stopped laughing for a second, looking at him, and then started laughing again. “Honey, you’d have a harder time getting away from me than you would getting me to marry you. Trust me.”

“Yeah, I could see that,” Robbie said.

“This conversation is getting too dangerous, man,” Gil said.

Katie felt a buzz, getting a scared look on her face. “Shit, that’s my phone.” She pulled it out of her jeans pocket.

“Who is it?” Justin asked.

“I don’t recognize the number. She answered it, her eyes getting wide. She hit the speaker button.

“Sis?”

“Steve? Oh, my God, you’re still alive?”

“Yes, Colleen and I are still alive. How about our group? Everybody survive?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling through tears. “What are you calling from. Not a cellphone, I hope.”

“Nope, a land line at the laundromat.”

“Steve, dude, so glad to hear from you,” Gil said.

“Seriously, man,” Justin said.

“You still where you said you were going?” Robbie asked.

“Yeah,” Steve said. “It’s safe here. Never had the UN or the Islamists around, and there’s a bad-ass sheriff here who watches the place like a hawk. I’m doing deputy work for him part time now.”

“Wow, excellent,” Katie said.

“What are you guys doing?” Steve asked.

“We’re fighting for Ivan,” Justin said.

“Who? You don’t mean the guy on the video?”

“Yeah, that’s who we mean,” Robbie said.

“It’s pretty crazy, dude,” Gil said.

“Robbie just got engaged to Morgan,” Katie said.

“No way,” Steve said. “Colleen and I are married. We have a baby on the way, too.”

“You’re kidding,” Katie said. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Steve said. “Wish I was there with you guys.”

“Stay where you are, if you’re safe,” Robbie said. “We’re in danger all the time. You don’t want that.”

“Maybe you guys should come up here.”

“Eventually we might,” Justin said. “When the work is done.”

“You and Katie are still together?” Steve asked.

“Yes, we are,” Katie said. “Gil’s got a girlfriend too.”

“Tisha,” Gil said.

“Hi,” Tisha said.

“Good for you, man,” Steve said.

“I’m a happy camper,” Gil said.

“Where are you now?” Steve asked.

“We’d better not say over the phone,” Robbie said.

“Yeah, better not to go there,” Katie said. “We’ll have lots of crazy stories for you when we get through this.”

“We all know how to fight now,” Morgan said. “Things are different. If you’ve avoided that, you’re lucky.”

“How come you haven’t called before now?” Katie asked.

“Our cabin has no cell coverage,” Steve said. “I was sitting in here doing laundry when I saw the phone.”

“You’re doing the laundry, huh,” Gil asked.

“Colleen is at work,” Steve said. “She has a full-time job now. I’m only working part time, so I’ve been doing things like laundry and housework.”

Gil and Justin glanced at each other, grinning, ready to pounce.

“No, guys,” Robbie said. “This is cool.”

“Oh, they were gonna mess with me, eh?” Steve asked. “Some things never change. Sorry, guys, but I don’t care. I love her so much. We have a nice life.”

“I know the feeling,” Robbie said.

“So does Gil,” Tisha said.

“Okay, okay, so do I,” Gil said.

“Me too,” Justin said. “I hope we can all get together again.”

“We will,” Steve said. “Uh oh, got to go. The Sheriff is calling me.”

“Take care, brother,” Katie said. “I love you.”

“Love you too, sis.”

The call ended.

“Wow, didn’t expect that,” Katie said.

“I figured he didn’t make it,” Robbie said. “Glad I was wrong.”

“I knew he was alive,” Katie said. “In my heart. I was afraid he was captive or something, though.”

“They don’t tend to keep men alive,” Justin said. “You gonna tell him everything?”

“I don’t know,” Katie said. “Do you guys think we’ll survive?”

Everybody was silent for a moment.

“Geez, are we in worse trouble than I thought?”

“Oh, I think we’ll make it,” Robbie said, “but there’s a lot we’re gonna go through to get there.”

Morgan leaned into him, on the verge of tears. The others sat silently.

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

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!

 

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Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

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