Bugout! California Part 106 – Merrill

“You get them?” Kaylee asked, sitting at the target tray in the passenger seat of the battle wagon.

“Yeah, but there’s more,” Trevor said, his eyes glued into the sight for the main guns.

“Why didn’t we get buzzed?”

“Crap. There’s why. UN Van. See it?” He fired the grenade launcher, blowing the van sky high, but another one moved up, the side door sliding open, blue-helmeted fighters rushing out. Trevor shot a grenade into the open door, blowing up the vehicle.

“Yes! They’re in front of my guns,” Kaylee said as she opened fire, killing all seven men. Then Trevor’s phone buzzed. He looked at the app in a panic. “Islamists coming in.”

“How many?”

“Looks like a couple hundred,” he said.

“Dammit, we aren’t ready,” Kaylee said.

One of the other battle wagons fired its grenade launcher, taking out another UN van.

“Should we get on the road?” Kaylee asked.

“No,” Trevor said. “We’ve got four hundred men only a few hundred yards away. You know they’ve heard this.”

Suddenly gunfire erupted from the south as more UN vans rolled up. The smell of black powder floated into the air.

“Speak of the devil,” Kaylee said, taking aim at more running UN troops, opening fire.

“I’m saving the mini-gun,” Trevor said. “We’re going to get hit with worse than these vans.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Kaylee said. “Where are the Islamists?”

Trevor refreshed his app. “Two hundred yards and closing,” he said. “Do we stay in here or go outside?”

“We’d better stay in here,” Kaylee said. “We’ve got a lot of firepower. If things turn, we can high-tail it. Just be careful not to hit any of Garrett’s men. They’re running in, see?”

“Yeah, I see them,” Trevor said. “Crap, Gaz Tigr coming in on the left.” He fired the grenade launcher, hitting the vehicle in the front, but it kept coming, so he moved to the mini-gun, firing into the windows of the vehicle, which rolled into a tree. Then he fired a grenade inside. It blew up big, spreading fire, causing some of Garrett’s men to flee.

“Wow,” Kaylee shouted. She picked up the M60 and headed for the slit on the passenger side of the coach.

“What do you see?”

“About fifty Islamists and a few UN thugs running towards us broadside. I’m gonna ruin their day.”

She slipped the M60 through the slit and opened fire, sweeping the line of men, dropping many as bullets hit the side of the coach.

“Nice,” Trevor said. “Let’s see how they like this.” He rapid fired several grenades into the fleeing men, knocking many to the ground as Kaylee continued firing. Other coaches joined in.

“Sam’s moving his coach,” Trevor said. “Getting to a better position, I hope.”

“Won’t that expose his tires and his windshield?”

“Yeah, hopefully he goes back into siege mode quickly.”

“I see why he did it,” Kaylee said. “He can use the forward guns and fire right down the road. They can’t come that way now.”

“Yeah,” Trevor said. “He just went back into siege mode.” There was a large explosion.

“He just blew up something big on the road,” Kaylee said. Several more enemy fighters rushed the side of the coach, and she opened up with the M60, dropping all of them.

“This is great,” Trevor said. “Sam’s got Wildwood Glen Lane completely blocked – he can shoot down one direction with the front guns and the other direction with the back guns.”

“Seth just did the same thing on Los Terrinitos Road,” Kaylee said. “Nobody can get in that way anymore either.”

“We should go position ourselves on Highway 79 the same way.”

“That’s a lot bigger road,” Kaylee said.

“So, we move two coaches out there. I’m texting Angel.”

“Okay,” Kaylee said nervously.

“Angel agrees. I’m taking this baby out of siege mode. You okay with handling the forward and rear guns?”

“Of course, but what about broadsides?”

“I’m on the mini-gun and the grenade launcher. If worse comes to worse, I’ll get on the other M60 and do what you were just doing.”

“Okay,” she said. Trevor took the coach out of siege mode and started the engine, moving towards the highway, getting out into the right-hand lane and stopping, setting up siege mode again. They got hit with gunfire right away.

“This was a good idea,” Kaylee said, opening fire with the forward machine guns, stopping two vans which were driving towards the turnoff onto Wildwood Glen lane. One of the vans rolled, landing on the blacktop, blocking both lanes.

Angel pulled up next to them and set back up into siege mode.

“We’ve got to clear that wreckage,” Trevor said. “It gives the enemy cover to get onto Wildwood Glen.” He fired several times with the grenade launcher, lifting the van into the air. It came down on it’s side, but still partially blocking the road. “That’s not good enough. We might have to go push it out of the way.”

“Try again,” Kaylee said.

Trevor nodded and fired several more grenades. This time it moved the van’s burning hulk out of the road. “Good, it worked.”

“There aren’t any more enemy fighters coming,” Kaylee said.

“Well, not yet, anyway,” Trevor said. “Wonder how many escaped?”

“Or how many got calls back to the others,” Kaylee said. “I’ll keep watch. Check what’s happening on the apps.”

“Yeah,” Trevor said, putting his phone in front of his face. He shook his head.

“What?”

Trevor looked over at her. “The enemy is evacuating Descanso. I don’t think they’re going to hit us here again. Nobody else is coming.”

“We can’t see the UN,” Kaylee said.

“That’s true,” Trevor said. “We should stay parked right here until the cavalry arrives.”

“I agree,” Kaylee said.

***

Sam looked over at Erica. They were still sitting on Wildwood Glen Lane, covering both directions of the road with the forward and rear machine guns. “The enemy gave up, and they’re leaving Descanso.”

“Already?” Erica asked.

“They didn’t expect these battle wagons and five hundred men,” Sam said. “We’re going to have to fight them in Julian.”

“We did badly there before,” Erica said.

“Yep, but now we’ve got a lot more fighters,” Sam said, “and better equipment too. Not to mention the apps.”

The phone rang.

“Who’s that?” Erica asked.

“Ji-Ho. I’ll put it on speaker.” He did that and set the phone on the dash. “Hi, Ji-Ho.”

“Hey, Sam, looks like they on run.”

“Saw that. We’ll fight them in Julian.”

“Yes, agree,” Ji-Ho said. “Just heard from Garrett. Large force only half hour away now.”

“Good,” Sam said. “We’ll have to let them rest before we go on. Julian is further from here than this place is from our base.”

“Yes, I know,” Ji-Ho said. “Garrett and men on way here too. Enemy fighters flee from Barrett Lake area.”

“Oh, really?” Sam asked. “Crap, that means we’ll have to fight them later.”

“Yes, true. I say we go into Descanso when main forces arrive and dig in, regroup. Then attack Julian.”

“We need a way to see the UN,” Erica said.

“They not problem,” Ji-Ho said. “Ivan tell. They only left few stragglers here. Large group in north, where Jules’s team is.”

“How are they seeing them?” Sam asked.

“Satellite,” Ji-Ho said. “Morons have UN painted on top of vans.”

Sam chuckled. “They think they are legit, and they think we think they are legit.”

Ji-Ho laughed. “Yes, true. They have nasty surprise waiting for them in north. Ivan has multitude there. Bloodbath.”

“Yeah, well I hope he’s being careful,” Erica said. “We can’t see them. That means they can spearhead attacks.”

“Yep,” Sam said. “What now?”

“Wait until Garrett’s groups arrive, then regroup in Descanso after they rest.”

“Maybe we should do that in the morning,” Erica said. “It’ll be dark in a hurry.”

“Yes, maybe. We talk later.”

“Okay, Ji-Ho, talk to you soon.”

Sam ended the call.

“Should we continue to sit in this street?” Erica asked.

“Yes,” Sam said. “With Siege mode on and parking lights too.”

“Are you convinced that the UN is really that weak down here now?”

Sam thought about it for a moment. “Not as convinced as Ji-Ho is. We need to make sure everybody watches tonight.”

Erica nodded. “Wish we knew where Ed ended up.”

“I know, honey. Me too.”

***

Shelly woke up very early in the morning, feeling for Jules. He was gone. She got up in a panic and rushed out into the salon. He was sitting at the dinette in his underwear, studying his phone, it’s glow lighting his face in the darkness.

“Hey,” Shelly asked as she approached. “It’s only four. Can’t sleep?”

“No,” Jules said.

“What are you looking for?”

“Santa Cruz,” he said, looking up at her naked form, silhouetted by the lights from outside. “That make nice picture.” He started to aim his phone.

“Don’t you dare,” she said, rushing back into the bedroom. She came back out with her long t-shirt on. “That was naughty.”

Jules looked at her and grinned, then looked back at the screen.

“What are you expecting to see?” She slid onto the dinette bench next to him and watched his screen.

“I don’t know,” Jules said. “I expected enemy to go to harbor or the beach area.”

“They didn’t, though, did they?”

“No. UC Santa Cruz,” he said. “Merrill College.”

“Why would they do that?” Shelly asked, looking at him, her eyes getting wider. “They don’t do nuclear or biological research there, do they?”

“Thought crossed mind,” Jules said. “Maybe I call Ivan when light.”

“He might be watching too, right now,” Shelly said. “Send him a text. He might answer.”

“Okay,” he said. “Can’t hurt. Won’t wake him.” He sent the text, then set his phone down for a moment. “You can’t sleep too?”

“I woke up and felt for you,” she said. “I didn’t like that you weren’t there.”

“If Ivan not respond, we go back into bedroom,” Jules said. “I try to sleep again.”

“There’s always something else we could do, you know,” Shelly said, her hand going onto his thigh. Then Jules’s phone rang, making them jump. Jules checked the number.

“Ivan,” he said, hitting the speaker button. “I not wake, I hope.”

Ivan chuckled on the line. “Good morning. I was already awake. You’re looking at apps?”

“Yes. Shelly next to me.”

“Ah, good morning, milk maid,” Ivan said. “Maybe you aren’t keeping Jules occupied enough.”

Shelly giggled. “Maybe not. Hi, Ivan.”

“Hello,” Ivan said. “You’re worried about them being at UC Santa Cruz.”

“Yes,” Jules said. “They drive inside campus, stay near place marked Merrill College. Strange, no?”

“Strange yes,” Ivan said. “The boys and I have been racking our brains on this one. The college they’re in isn’t technical, so they aren’t there to gather up weapons materials.”

“What is study there?” Jules asked.

Ivan snickered. “We read about that part of US Santa Cruz on Wikipedia. Sounds like Leftist Studies to me.”

“What mean, political science?” Jules asked.

“United States impact on the developing world,” Ivan said, sounding like he was reading. “That’s what Wikipedia says.”

“They’re there to develop propaganda,” Shelly said. “They probably want to tailor it to the people living in the bay area.”

“Bingo, milk maid gets the prize,” Ivan said. “At least that’s what we think.”

“Islamists and peace-loving hippy types? Not mix, no?”

“We got a satellite shot a little while ago from General Hogan. There’s more UN vans there than there are the phony trucks the Islamists came in. It’s like they’re having some kind of conference. They even had a stage. There was a concert going on there earlier in the evening. Lots of students attended.”

“Good Lord,” Shelly said.

“Perhaps they be including paramilitary training, no?”

“We thought that at first, two,” Ivan said. “Possible. Huey Newton came out of Santa Cruz.”

Jules looked at Shelly blankly.

“Founder of the Black Panther Party,” Shelly said. “Most people don’t realize that UC Santa Cruz is more radical than UC Berkeley.”

“What we do?” Jules asked. “Anything?”

“You mean like go in there and kill them?” Ivan asked. “No, that’ll play right into the hands of the enemy. This tells us that they are having problems winning over the bulk of the population up here. Our actions will resonate with a significant portion of the population. Enough to stop them.” He paused for a moment.

“Okay, boss?” Jules asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “Sorry. Just thinking.”

“What thinking?”

“I’m going to find out who at the University invited these cretins in. I’ll send Mister White and Mister Black in to nab them.”

“You mean murder them?” Shelly asked.

“Kidnap, for now. Find out who they know, what their plans are. You know.”

“Might have been state government,” Jules said.

“Oh, I’m sure they were involved too,” Ivan said. “Propaganda is crucial up here. We have to fight fire with fire. We’ve already laid the groundwork for that.”

“How?” Shelly asked.

“We rescued somebody who made a scene on one of their propaganda TV shows. We’re nursing him back to health after the UN thugs beat him up, live on a statewide TV show.”

“He’s going to talk for our side?” Shelly asked.

“We’re going to give him that option,” Ivan said.

“Who?” Jules asked.

“He goes by Ben Dover,” Ivan said. He and Jules laughed. Shelly rolled her eyes.

“The nature of this battle will be different than down south,” Shelly said. “You guys know that, right?”

Ivan stopped laughing. “We will expose the enemy for what they are.”

“Yes, we will, and we’re going to help, remember,” Shelly said.

“Yes, I remember,” Ivan said, “and it will help. Big time.”

“What about our problem with the three locations?” Shelly asked.

“Still working on it, but we’ll be able to cover it. We’re working on the how now. We’ve already decided to go ahead. Don’t tell the rest of your group yet.”

“Okay, boss,” Jules said. “You want us to leave Islamists in trucks alone if they go by here again? We could arrange, how you say, accident.”

“No, let’s not make martyrs out of this group. We’ll kill plenty of their kind, trust me on that. We’re going to show the public who they are, and we’re going to use their own media outlets to do it.”

“Do you know when we hit the Mertins plant?” Shelly asked.

“Day after tomorrow at the earliest,” Ivan said.

“Still planning?” Jules asked.

“No, we’re waiting for some special guests to arrive,” Ivan said. “We want them to have front-row seats.”

Jules shot a grin at Shelly. “We hurt them bad?”

“Oh yeah, we’ll hurt them bad,” Ivan said. “Now go play with your milk maid. I’ve got work to do.”

“Thanks, boss,” Jules said. He ended the call. Shelly stood up and pulled her long t-shirt over her head, tossing it on the dinette table.

“Hey, what you do?” Jules asked, smiling.

“You heard the man.”

***

“I wish we brought camping gear,” James said, weary in the saddle. “This is a long haul.”

“At least we don’t have to fight,” one of Garrett’s men said.

“Don’t be so sure about that,” Tyler said. “We’re going to approach the spot where the enemy was dug in very quietly.”

“Why?” Ryan asked.

“Because of the UN folks who showed up near Descanso,” Tyler said. “You read the texts.”

“Ji-Ho said there wasn’t a significant UN presence down here,” James said.

Garrett chuckled. “There weren’t supposed to be any of them around Descanso. Sorry, but I’m not a trusting soul. Tyler is right. When we get close, we go in as if there’s some UN folks there.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t have sent the five hundred to Descanso, then,” James said.

“I had mixed feelings about that,” Garrett said. “Still do. Glad it’ll still be dark when we get there.”

“How will we know when we’re there, now that the Islamists are gone?” James asked.

“I saved the GPS locations,” Tyler said.

“That’s why he’s chief,” Garrett said, “although I saved them too. Can’t be too careful. Even if there’s no UN folks there, they might have boobytrapped the area.”

“Dammit,” James said. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Well don’t get your panties in a bunch,” Ryan said.

Tyler grabbed his phone and checked their location. “We’re really close. I say a few of us sneak up there and take a gander.”

“I’m game,” Garrett said.

“Yeah, same crew as last time,” Ryan said. James shot him a worried glance, but nodded yes. They dismounted, Garrett taking a second to chat with his foreman, who got off his horse to help.

“Grab your long guns,” Garrett said, pulling his out of the scabbard hanging from his saddle. The others did the same, and they walked forward, trying to be as quiet as they could.

“I’m taking my crossbow,” James said. “Just in case.”

“Good idea,” Ryan said.

“We don’t have a well-defined ridge here,” Tyler whispered. “It’s a lot of big rocks and little valleys, right off the road, a few hundred yards in front of the dam. Watch yourselves. If there’s anybody here, you can bet they’re watching for us.”

The others nodded and they moved along quickly, trying to keep close to cover. The rugged, hilly dirt terrain changed to large rocks after about forty yards, and they slowed down, stopping behind rocks to take a good look, then rushing to the next cover available.

“Look,” Tyler whispered. “Cell phone. See the light?”

“That’s a sentry,” James said, pulling his crossbow off his back. He loaded an arrow and crept forward as the others watched, covering him.

Garrett texted on his phone, Tyler seeing his screen. “Careful with that. What are you doing?”

“Turning the five-hundred around,” Garrett whispered. “They’re not that far. They can be here in a hurry.”

Tyler gave him thumbs up. Then they heard the crossbow, and the sentry clutched his chest, falling. James ran in a crouch to his position, checking the body and the phone, which was still on. He began typing on the screen.

“What’s he doing?” Ryan whispered.

“Probably pretending to be the enemy,” Garrett whispered back.

“Look, here comes another one, wearing one of those stupid blue helmets,” Tyler whispered. The running man stopped, clutching his chest, falling without a sound.

“That’s two,” Tyler whispered.

“Dammit,” Ryan said, catching another UN Peacekeeper sneaking over the top of the rock James was next to. “Game over.” He aimed his rifle and fired, dropping the enemy, the sound echoing through the area.

“James, get over here,” Tyler shouted. James sprinted back towards them, but his running went wild and he fell half way back, shot through the side.

To be continued…

 

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