Bugout! California Part 111 – Re-plan

“This technology is amazing,” Shelly said, watching the laptop screen as enemy fighters and patriots moved around the building, inside and outside.

Jules nodded as his phone dinged. He checked the text message and grinned. “Commando team at UN Regional Headquarters in place. Waiting for attack to start here.”

“Good,” Shelly said. “I think our assets outside the building are rounding up enemy fighters now. They aren’t using many UN Peacekeepers in there, are they?”

“Mostly Islamist,” Jules said. “UN slugs have rough few weeks. Short-handed. Experiment failing. Many are deserting, trying to leave state.”

“Don’t blame them,” Shelly said. “They’re probably not use to dealing with an armed population.”

“Look,” Jules said, pointing to screen. “Commandos going inside building. See?”

The headphone scratched. “Alpha one, inside main hallway, middle of target building.”

“We see you,” Shelly said. “That hallway is clear. Go past three hallways that intersect. Turn right on the fourth one, which leads to the conference room. Many Islamists in that hallway, so be ready.”

“Roger that, Alpha One. Three choppers on roof. You guys see that?”

“Crap,” Jules said. “Taken out?”

“No sir, noise would’ve spoiled the party. Our assets have them in sight, but they might be tough to disable with small arms fire. That’s mainly what we have on the roof. Will get RPGs on the roof after outside enemy fighters are neutralized.”

“They have to fly over our assets to get to UN base,” Jules said. “We have miniguns.”

“Hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, good backstop. Just make sure you get them.”

“If they make it to UN headquarters, they die,” Jules said.

“Going down fourth hallway,” the voice on the headset said. “Enemy fighters ahead. They’ve made us. We’re attacking now.” There was the sound of machinegun fire.

“Whoa, look at that conference room,” Shelly said. “Looks like somebody poured gasoline on an ant hill.”

“Action on roof and parking lot,” Jules said. “See that?”

“Listen,” Shelly whispered. “Hear the gunfire?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Battle rages now.”

“Surprised we aren’t getting more vocal traffic from the headsets.”

“They busy,” Jules said. “They already know where enemy is.”

“Better tell them about that,” Shelly said, pointing at the screen. “See them? Group coming in from parking lot.”

“Headsets chasing them,” Jules said.

“Wow,” Shelly said.

The headsets scratched. “Parking lot locked down, Alpha One. Heading to roof with RPG. Heavy fighting inside building. Main room barricaded. Taking explosives in.”

“Good,” Jules said, his brow furrowed. He sent a text.

“What are you sending?” Shelly asked.

“See people heading for roof? Want our units in siege mode, ready with miniguns.”

“Oh,” Shelly said. “Yeah, I see what you’re talking about.”

He sent the text, then set up siege mode on their coach.

“That gun might stick up far enough for somebody to see it past this fence,” Shelly said.

“Yes, be ready. Keep eyes open. Get console going for forward and rear machine guns. I man minigun just in case.”

Shelly nodded, listening to the whir of motors as siege mode locked into place.

Jules’s phone dinged.

“Our people?” Shelly asked.

Jules snickered after looking at the phone. “No, report from UN assault. Done. They had ammo stored in building. Went up. Entire building in flames. Big mess.”

“If the choppers find out about it, they might go a different direction,” Shelly said.

“Maybe we should move closer,” Jules said.

Just then his phone dinged again. He looked. “Ted and Sparky. They want to move to site. Afraid choppers go other way now.”

“You think that’s a good idea? Two of our best people in an exposed tin can doesn’t thrill me.”

“It be okay, we lock down site outside now.”

Shelly looked at him nervously. “Maybe we should send more than one unit.”

“Not unless need,” Jules said, replying to the text.

“Hope this isn’t a mistake.”

“I tell them to go on other side of site and hide out,” Jules said.

The headset scratched again. “Alpha one, through doors, at least half of people inside killed by blast. Others trying to escape to roof as we suspected. RPGs up there now.”

“Listen,” Shelly whispered. “Choppers.”

“Dammit,” Jules said, getting on his minigun sight, looking around. “Enemy chopper, going to help.” He turned the minigun on, and pointed it at the sky.

“Be careful,” Shelly said.

Jules grinned. “I got you, suckers.” He fired, hitting the belly of the chopper, watching it come apart in the air.

“That’s not the only one,” Shelly said. “Listen. They’re liable to come for us.”

Jules nodded, listening and watching. A chopper appeared, heading right for them. Jules fired. “It’s coming in fast, getting ready to fire missiles.”

“Shoot it down!” Shelly shouted, panic in her eyes. Jules fired, but then there was more gunfire from the other direction, the chopper exploding overhead.

“Another coach help,” Jules said. “Brace. Debris coming down.”

There were explosions around them as pieces of chopper rained around the schoolyard they were hidden in, fires starting on some of the buildings.

“We go,” Jules said. “If that building by driveway burn, we can’t get past.” He took the rig out of siege mode and started the engine, then raced out as the rest of the school buildings went up in flames, hitting the street, making a left turn.

“Where are we going?” Shelly asked, eyes scanning the street ahead.

“Far side of site, like Ted and Sparky,” Jules said.

“We’ll be out in the open,” Shelly said.

“Trees by reservoirs,” Jules said. “I try there. Keep eyes open, man machine guns and grenade launcher.”

She nodded, fear in her eyes.

***

Ji-Ho pulled into the driveway of the Williams Place, Garrett sitting in the passenger seat next to him. Some of the coaches were already there, others behind them. Car loads of Garrett’s men were with them as well, but the cavalry was far behind, half of them going to Dodge City, the others coming to the Williams place.

“Right decision,” Garrett said.

“Yes, is,” Ji-Ho said as he backed into his spot. “Here she come.”

Garrett watched out the window as Anna ran towards the coach. “Mind?”

“Go be with woman,” Ji-Ho said. “We meet in couple hours.”

Garrett left the coach, running towards her in his boots, almost falling down. They embraced on the pasture. Garrett pulled back to look at her face, then kissed her with passion.

“Thank God you guys made it back here okay,” she said.

“You’re glad to see me, aren’t you?”

She laughed. “We’re going to be more than friends. Fair warning.”

He smiled at her and kissed her again as Ji-Ho and some of the others walked by them, heading for the house.

“We have an audience,” she whispered to Garrett.

“Don’t care,” he said, kissing her again. “We’d better settle down a little, I guess.”

“Yes, save it up for later,” she said. “I hear we have a little girl coming.”

“Mia,” Garrett said. “Such a cute little thing. She’s with Sam and Erica.”

“They’re going to raise her,” Anna said.

“I think we’re gonna try to find some relatives,” Garrett said.

“We won’t,” Anna said. “They’re all dead.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just know. I saw them with a daughter. Didn’t understand that the timing was all off. Now I get it.”

“Wait, are you some kind of witch doctor or something?” he asked, smiling at her.

“More like a medicine woman,” Anna said, “but only for certain things. Mainly relationship things.” Her brow furrowed.

“What?”

“Wish it was for more than that,” she said. “I wish I would’ve seen through the traitor.”

“That wasn’t your fault,” Garrett said. “You aren’t feeling guilty, are you?”

“No,” she said. “Still nothing on Ed, I take it.”

“Nothing,” Garrett said. “I send three of my best trackers out to look for him before the battle started, but it’ll be like looking for a needle in a haystack, I’m afraid. That damn hovercraft of his doesn’t leave much behind to track.”

They walked onto the veranda. People were starting to congregate there, as battle wagons and cars continued coming in the gate every few minutes.

“That’s almost all of them,” Seth said, walking up with Kaitlyn. Megan and Angel followed.

“Hey, mom,” Kaitlyn said.

“Hi, Kaitlyn,” she said, leaving Garrett’s side to hug her and then Seth.

“Nothing on Ed?” Megan asked.

“Nope, not yet,” Anna said. “Garrett’s got some trackers looking.”

“There’s Trevor and Kaylee,” Seth said, watching as they approached.

“When are we meeting?” Trevor asked.

“Ji-Ho said a couple hours,” Garrett said.

“You’re more anxious than I am,” Kaylee said.

“We won’t go on the attack right away, I suspect,” Angel said.

“I don’t know,” Trevor said. “If we don’t, we’re liable to see the enemy coming here.”

“They don’t have enough people,” Garrett said.

“Then why didn’t we go on to Julian?” Angel asked.

“They’re gonna be dug in,” Trevor said, “and they’re expecting us. It’s easier to defend than it is to assault.”

“Yep,” Garrett said. “We would’ve won, but the cost would’ve been too high. It was way too high as it was.”

Trevor nodded in agreement.

“Here comes Sam and Erica’s rig,” Kaitlyn said. “They’re going to keep that girl, aren’t they?”

Anna looked at her and shook her head yes.

“Huh?” Seth asked quietly.

“Later,” Kaitlyn whispered. Anna smirked.

“Look at how darling she is,” Anna said, watching them approach, Mia between Sam and Erica, holding their hands.

“Don’t get any ideas,” Garrett said. He pulled Anna close and chuckled.

Anna rolled her eyes, then walked down to greet them.

“Is this Mia?” she asked, squatting down in front of them.

“Yes,” Erica said. “Isn’t she a doll?”

“Glad you feel that way,” Anna said, glancing up at her.

“Shut up,” Erica whispered. Sam shot them a sidelong glance.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Erica whispered. They went towards the house.

“Do you like ice cream, Mia?” Anna asked.

She smiled, shaking her head yes.

“Good,” Anna said. “There’s some inside. Come on.”

Anna held out her hand, and Mia took it as Erica and Sam watched.

“We should follow,” Sam said, brow furrowed.

“You don’t trust Anna?” Erica asked.

“No, no, it’s not that,” he said. “It just makes me uncomfortable when she’s out of sight, that’s all.”

Kaitlyn snickered. Erica shot her a glance and shook her head.

“Okay, honey, let’s go. Maybe we can have some ice cream too.”

The couple went inside the house.

“What the hell?” Seth asked.

“My mom,” Kaitlyn said. “She has the sight. Sometimes I do too. I have this strong feeling that Mia is gonna stay with Sam and Erica.”

“Oh really?” Seth asked. “What else do you see? Do I get to keep you barefoot and pregnant?”

“I never go barefoot,” she said. Seth chuckled.

“When are we getting married? Seth asked.

“We’ll have to wait,” Kaitlyn said. “At least if we want Tyler involved. We’ve got James to take care of. Hopefully we don’t have Ed to take care of too. I’m scared to death for him.”

“I know, he didn’t carry that much in the way of food and water on that hovercraft.”

Ji-Ho came out of his rig, looking tired. Kaylee saw him and rushed over.

“You having that problem again, uncle?”

“No, I fine, just tired,” Ji-Ho said. “Talking to Ivan. Big deal happening now up north. Many friends involved.”

“Is it going well?” Kaylee asked.

“Sound like,” Ji-Ho said. “Still very dangerous.”

“Maybe we should have the meeting sooner rather than later, so you can relax,” Trevor said as he walked up.

“How many coach not back?”

“They’re all back,” Trevor said. “Sid and Yvonne just drove in. There’s still a few of Garrett’s people coming in, though.”

“Where Garrett?” Ji-Ho asked.

“He went into the house with Anna,” Kaylee said. “To feed Mia some ice cream.”

Ji-Ho smiled. “Good. I get ready. Pass word. Meeting in five minutes, in house. Air conditioner running?”

“Last I was in there, yes,” Kaylee said.

“Good,” Ji-Ho said, starting for the house. Trevor rushed over to Seth and Angel and talked to them for a second, and then they all started spreading the news about the meeting.

Everybody was in the house in about five minutes. Ji-Ho stood up in the front. Kaylee and Trevor rushed into the kitchen, grabbing one of the tall stools that was at the counter. Ji-Ho smiled at them and got on.

“Thanks, all,” Ji-Ho said. “We make brief, then rest up.”

Sam and Erica sat on the couch, Anna and Garrett joining them. Mia climbed onto Sam’s lap, still eating ice cream.

“All of you know we lost people,” Ji-Ho said. “Moment of silence for James and John please. They were brave, gave their lives for liberty.”

A hush came over the room, broken by sniffling and crying. Sarah left the room, not able to contain herself.

“Okay,” Ji-Ho said. “We have ceremony soon. Now let’s talk.”

“Anything on Ed?” Ryan asked.

“I’ve got men trying to track him down,” Garrett said.

“Hear from them lately?” Tyler asked.

“No,” Garrett said. “I’ll call them when we’re done here.”

“I might want to go search too,” Tyler said.

“Let’s talk first, then decide,” Ji-Ho said. “As you know, we have large group of enemy fighters in Julian. They dig in.”

“We also have UN Peacekeepers in the mix, and we can’t see them with the apps,” Clem said.

“I don’t think it worth risk to hit Julian with frontal attack,” Ji-Ho said. “There are other targets we can hit, though.”

“Do we know where the supply depot is for the Julian operation?”

“Yes, do,” Ji-Ho said. “They expect us to hit there. Dug in too. Can tell.”

“Yeah, I’m seeing that too,” Trevor said. “They’re waiting for us. You can tell by where the icons are.”

“That right,” Ji-Ho said. “I talk to Ivan a little while ago. He has new prisoners. Got information we can use.”

“Like what?” Sam asked.

“UN bring in reinforcements for Southern California. We find out where secret base is.”

“We did, huh?” Garrett asked. “Where?”

“Jamul,” Ji-Ho said. “Waiting for more intelligence from Ivan.”

“Are they there already?” Sam asked.

“Leadership and some of the peacekeepers. Might need to transfer some up north after what Ivan do today.” He laughed.

“They still mixing with the Islamists?” Garrett asked.

“Yes, are,” Ji-Ho said. “Small force of Islamists in Jamul, though. Bulk still around Julian and also northeast. Ramona and Fernbrook.”

“Hell, we chased them out of some of those locations already,” Sid said.

“Understand,” Ji-Ho said. “We can’t occupy and lock down unless robust citizenry there. The enemy still in trouble around populated areas of LA and Orange County. No need to operate there now. Citizens have control, elect local governance, organize militias.”

“Well, that’s good,” Yvonne said. “Why does this area continue to be a problem?”

“Border, I suspect,” Garrett said.

“Yes, border,” Ji-Ho said. “New UN base planned to be large. They will battle with US Armed forces for control of Route 125. Our job is to stop them from getting strong enough.”

“If they get control of that road, we’ll have a constant flow of enemy fighters coming in,” Sid said.

“Yep,” Ji-Ho said. “Very bad. Must stop.”

“What about Julian?” Garrett asked. “If we move a bunch of our people away from here to attack Jamul, the bad guys from Julian will move in and attack our loved ones here.”

“We have to move them away,” Ji-Ho said, “but no worry yet. We can leave enough here to defend for now. Should dig in, though, like they have in Julian.”

“What good is Julian doing them?” Angel asked.

“Interstate 8,” Garrett said. “It’s vulnerable. Not enough resources to protect it if they attack and take control. They want to open both I-8 and Route 125.”

“And we can’t let them do that,” Sam said. “When do you expect the info we need for the first attack?”

“Tonight or early tomorrow,” Ji-Ho said, “so relax for now. Rest up. Gonna get crazy again soon.”

There were murmurs around the room.

“When are we doing memorials for John and James?” Sarah asked, leaning against the wall by the door.

“I say we try to do them late tomorrow,” Tyler said.

“I second that,” Ryan said.

“Fine with me,” Ji-Ho said. “I’ll leave you to your planning now. Need to rest.” He struggled to get off the stool, Trevor and Kaylee rushing to help him.

“He’s not in good shape, is he?” Erica asked under her breath.

“No,” Sam said. “We need to protect him.”

***

Daan Mertins sat on a couch in the posh office of the Chancellor at UC Santa Cruz. A very uncomfortable academic sat behind the desk. Saladin sat in a chair close to the door, exasperated look on his face.

“I can’t believe you morons can’t handle a little resistance,” Saladin spat. “You guys are as bad as Sable was.”

“Zip it, skippy, or I’ll yank your leash,” Daan said, sitting up straighter. “Chancellor Wilson, did you know that Dean Lambert was dipping his wick in that damn coed?”

Chancellor Wilson loosened his tie, his double chin sagging in relief. “This specific girl? No.”

“Oh, so there’s been more, huh?” Daan asked.

“Please, let’s stop the bullshit,” Saladin said. “We heard the tape of your conversation with him. He offered her to you, and you took it to a worse level.”

“What’s he talking about?” Wilson asked.

“Daan here likes them about five years younger,” Saladin said.

“Knock it off,” Daan said. “I mean it. If we get Dean Lambert back, I’m gonna gut him for those tapes. You get all of them away from the police?”

“Yes, and we washed down the scene too,” Wilson said. “This is not what I signed up for.”

“Hope you washed the body,” Saladin said. “If his DNA is inside her, it’ll start a real mess. The press is friendly unless there’s a sex scandal they can pounce on. They just can’t help themselves.”

“We’ll deal with this ridiculous freedom of the press after we’ve consolidated our control over the population,” Daan said.

Saladin laughed again. “Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it.”

“I’ve had enough of you,” Daan said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He walked away, having a hushed conversation.

“Don’t you know it’s rude to talk on the phone while there are others in the meeting?” Saladin asked.

Daan slipped the phone back in his pocket. “Rank has its privileges. I was just talking to your boss.”

“About what?” Saladin asked.

“I just suggested that you need to be involved in the set-up of the new base in Capitol Reef.”

Saladin snickered. “I’ve already discussed it with him. I’m going there anyway. You had nothing to do with it.”

“True, but I got it moved up. You need to be away from here while we solve this problem. More heavy-handed crap like you pulled at that abandoned prison isn’t going to help us. Remember what that led to.”

“What are you talking about?” Wilson asked.

“Sable’s assassination,” Daan said. “This idiot took that upon himself. Didn’t know that all that data was going to get released as a result.”

“It was a minor problem,” Saladin said. “We got past it.”

“And I want to get past this one, too, so you’re out of here tomorrow morning. You might want to go pack.”

Saladin stood up, sneered at Daan, and left the room in a huff. Wilson looked like he wanted to hide under his desk.

“Relax, Henry,” Daan said. “You’re not in trouble. Neither is he, really, but we need him out of here before he pulls some stupid stunt that makes things worse.” His phone dinged. Daan looked at the incoming text message, his eyes wide.

“What?”

“My factory is under attack,” Daan said, heading for the door in a panic.

To be continued…

 

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Copyright Robert Boren 2017

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