Tex sprinted out the door to his battle wagon, climbing in, pulling down the main sight. He broadcast a text to the other men in the battle wagons around him, saying he was ready to go. Return texts came from the others out there. He smiled, checking the time. The women’s testifying had just started, Tex leaving after Karen had said her piece. He’d thought about staying inside, but the hackles on his neck were up. Somebody was coming. He looked at the roof with his sight, glad to see several men with M60s standing, looking out. Mr. Black showed himself for a moment, setting up a tripod at the corner nearest the main access point. He sent him a text, asking what he was setting up. The reply said TOW missile launcher. His phone rang. Ted. He put it on speaker.
“Tex, think they need me out there?”
“Stacey’s in your coach, right?” Tex asked. “That’ll probably do it. I’d keep up the pressure to get finished quickly in there.”
“You see anybody?”
“No, but the hackles on my neck are going nuts,” Ted said. “Mr. Black just put a TOW missile launcher on the roof. Does he know something?”
“He’s cautious,” Ted said. “I’ll make sure they move it along. We’ll have to distribute the women amongst the coaches.”
“I know, not a problem. These puppies are rated for a lot of weight.”
“They are, but they’ve also got a lot of heavy hardware on them, so we’ve got to distribute carefully,” Ted said. “I’m out. Keep me informed.”
“Will do,” Tex said. He ended the call, then checked the apps. He got hits on the short-range app when he refreshed, but they were all inside the Ford dealership and the surrounding parking lot. Dead. His phone rang again. Sparky.
“Tex, you set?” Sparky asked.
“Yep,” Sparky said.
“How’d it go inside?”
“I left after Karen said her piece,” he said. “Ted’s staying in there, since we got Stacey in his rig.”
“Wish we had more than one per rig, though,” Sparky said. “Nobody here to work the gun slits if we get attacked.
“Lots of M60s on the roof,” Tex said, “and Mr. Black just set up a TOW missile launcher.
“Good,” Sparky said. “Dana holding up okay?”
“No worse than the others, from what I could tell.”
“Okay,” Sparky said. “Talk to you later.”
The call ended, and Tex went back to the apps, checking the long range. There were hits in the surrounding towns, but none were on the road. His mind was on the UN Peacekeepers with no RFID. He had the grips of the sight in his hands, which were sweaty. He wiped them on his pants, trying to calm himself down. Suddenly there was mini gun fire, from the coach at the opening of the driveway.
“Dammit,” Tex said, moving his sight in that direction, watching a Gaz Tigr burning, rolling slowly to the side of the road. Machine gun fire came from the far side of the compound, from a road separated from the parking lot by a dirt strip to the west. He swung his weapon over, seeing a group of UN Peacekeepers trying to get a good position to fire from. Tex fired, sending a salvo of grenades from the M19, several other coaches joining in as M60s on the roof of the building opened up. The gunfire stopped, but then there was creaking. Tank.
He sent a quick text, keeping his eyes in the sight as much as he could, warning of the sound, and then he heard the whoosh of a TOW missile racing from the roof, its dual wires unfurling behind it. An M-60 tank on Laguna Grove Drive blew up, pieces of armor flying all over the place. More machine gun fire came at the coaches, bouncing off the armor, fire being returned from the mini guns and M19s. Conserve mini gun ammo.
There was a cannon shot from the far side of the building, off Elk Grove Boulevard, clipping the Ford dealership. Mr. Black fired another Tow missile, blowing the tank up where it sat, pieces now blocking that road. UN vans got stuck behind it, several of the coaches on that side of the parking lot firing their M-19s, blowing the vehicles up. Tex picked up his phone and called Jules, putting his phone on speaker as he got his eyes back onto the targeting system.
“We hear,” Jules said. “Done. Road clear?”
“Yeah, but there’s been two tanks so far.”
“M-1?” Jules asked.
“No, just old M-60s, thank God. TOW missiles blew them both up. We knocked out at least one Gaz Tigr too, but getting out of here is gonna be crazy.”
“We have secret weapons in underground parking lot and service bays,” Jules said.
“What secret weapons?”
“Texas team designed M19 and machine gun mounts for off-roaders and Jeeps. We got design, make on 3D printers. Commando team getting to them now. Don’t shoot them. We flood area.”
“Holy crap,” Tex said. “When were you gonna tell us about that?”
Jules snickered on the line. “I send broadcast text. Battle wagons queue up by north and south sides of building on our mark. Pull up close, we get out of building, take battle wagons to the Golden State Freeway, go north. Got?”
“Yeah, I got it,” Tex said. “We’ll need people re-loading the guns in these coaches.”
“Understand,” Jules said. “I go. Be ready. Broadcast text coming out.”
The call ended, and Tex scanned the area with his sight. The gunfire had stopped, and there were broken vehicles and dead men littering the area. He looked at the access roads. There was enough space to get past the busted tank on Laguna Grove Drive, but barely. The main exit was Auto Center Drive to Elk Grove Boulevard, and the eastbound lanes to the Golden State Freeway ramp were clear so far. More gunfire started up, again from the west side of the building. He whirled his guns around and opened fire with grenades, firing off several shots, other coaches joining in. Then there was a pop from the roof, and the patch of dirt along Laguna Springs Drive exploded into flames. He swung his sight around in time to see another mortar round fly, hitting the area just north of the first impact, the whoosh of the willie pete sounding to the west. The text came in to queue at the doors of the facility, and he took his battle wagon out of siege mode, watching out the front windshield after the armor retracted, just in time to see a bunch of Jeeps and off-roaders flying out of the underground parking, heading towards the roads.
“Now I know how B-17 crews felt when Mustangs showed up,” he quipped to himself as he drove to the south side of the building. He opened his coach door and Karen rushed in with several other women.
“You see all those new vehicles?” Karen asked.
“Yeah,” Tex said. “Get ready to reload the main guns. Show the others how.” He shut the door and drove forward, the four women who were with Karen grabbing onto anything they could to avoid falling.
“C’mon,” Karen shouted, leading the women into the back, showing them how to reload the mini gun. “You’re not out yet, you know.”
“I know, but this ain’t over, little lady,” Tex shouted back. “Show them how to reload the M19 too, then get up here. I need you manning the forward and rear machine guns.”
“Okay, sweetie,” she shouted back.
“Hold on, we’re going up the curb to get past that busted tank.”
The women grabbed hold as the coach climbed, then crashed back down, the body of the rig creaking as it settled onto Auto Center Drive. Tex checked his rear-view camera. Two more coaches were behind him, a multitude of off-roaders and Jeeps cruising around, guarding the rigs who were still loading. He got onto Elk Grove Boulevard just as Karen got up to the front.
“Wait on the M19,” Tex said. “Get that console out. Look up ahead. Line of UN vans coming against traffic. Blast them.”
She nodded, rushing to the passenger seat as the other women watched, pulling the tray out, getting onto the target reticle, hands on the joystick and the trigger. Fire spewed from the front of the coach, stopping the UN vans, some of them trying to turn away behind the ruined vehicles in front. Tex fired off half a dozen grenades and made the left turn onto the Golden State Freeway on-ramp, hitting the accelerator hard, blasting onto the deserted road. Karen took a last look at the sight video in front and back, then got out of her seat and showed the women how to load the M19.
“How are we gonna get away?” one of the women asked. “They’ll track us, won’t they?”
“They’ll try,” Karen said. “They’d better bring something big if they want to take us out.”
Several of the heavily armed Jeeps roared out in front of them, and more came up along both sides.
“We got an escort!” Tex shouted, smiling.
“The other coaches all out?” Karen shouted back.
Tex looked in his gun sight. “Yeah, looks like all of them made it out. Geez, how many of those new vehicles did Ivan cook up? I swear it looks like a hundred of those things back there. Reminds me of frigging Sturgis.”
“Know where we’re going?” one of the women asked.
“Folsom,” Karen said.
Sam was tired, eyes still on the target reticle. He leaned back and rubbed his eyes. Erica was in the passenger seat, asleep, snoring. There was a soft rap on the door.
“I’ll get it,” Sid said, getting off the couch in the salon. He opened the door, Garrett walking in with a large basket.
“That smells good,” Sam said. Erica stretched as she woke up, then turned to see Garrett put the picnic basket on the kitchen counter.
“The rest of the cavalry get back?” she asked.
“Yep,” Garrett said. “They’re still asleep. I’ll wake them at about three in the afternoon.”
Yvonne got up to help hand out the food, which consisted of pulled-pork sandwiches and potato salad. Clem helped, getting paper plates out of the cupboard above the sink.
“Everything still okay at the Williams place?” Erica asked.
“Yep,” Garrett said. “We’ll be going back in a few hours. Ed asked that we take the seventy-five folks in vehicles along, in case we run into problems on the road back.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sam said. “You coming with us?”
“If I don’t, Anna will skin me alive,” he said. Erica chuckled.
“This is good,” Sid said, taking a bite of the pulled pork.
“It sure is,” Yvonne said.
Sam’s phone rang. He looked at it. “Ji-Ho. I’ll put it on speaker.” He set his phone down on the center console, and everybody gathered around. Sam and Eric slipped out of their seats to grab some food. “Go ahead, Ji-Ho,” Sam said as they walked away. “You’re on speaker.”
“Very good,” he said. “Everybody safe?”
“Yep,” Garrett said. “I just delivered some food. We’re taking Ed up on his suggestion, and using the cowboys in vehicles to escort us back.”
“Glad,” Ji-Ho said. “Everything quiet here. No enemy activity.”
“Good,” Sam said, getting back into his seat with a plate of food. “You calling to check on us?”
“Yes, also give news. Ivan’s team in north take out UN base, rescue women, successfully fight way out of area.”
“Good,” Erica said as she sat down in the passenger seat. She took a bite of her pulled pork, pausing to chew for a moment. “How’s Mia?”
“She worry, but fine,” Ji-Ho said. “I spoil with ice cream and games. I Uncle Ji-Ho now.”
Sam and Erica both laughed. “Great.” Sam said, “wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I’m gonna go make food deliveries to the other coaches,” Garrett said, getting up. “See you soon.”
He left the coach, as the others went back to eating.
“How he holding up?” Ji-Ho asked.
“Garrett?” Sam asked. “Fine, from what I can tell. He lost a few men last night. Barely mentioned it so far.”
“I noticed,” Sid said. “There was a sadness in his eyes that I usually don’t see.”
“What’s next for us?” Erica asked.
“Can’t speak now,” Ji-Ho said. “Still working issues, and Ivan too busy with new TV show to deal with. We talk tonight after show.”
“Oh, he’s going on tonight with the hostages?” Clem asked. “Already?”
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Next battle be difficult there, too.”
“What is it?” Yvonne asked.
“We cover that when you get home,” Ji-Ho said. “I let you go for now. Be home soon. Be safe.”
The call ended.
“He sounds more than a little bit nervous,” Clem said.
“Yeah, I picked up on that too,” Sam said. “This war is wearing on all of us.”
“At least we appear to be winning at the moment,” Sid said.
“Things change fast,” Yvonne said. “We’ve got to keep our focus and stay sharp.”
“Yes,” Sam said, glancing at Erica, who was deep in thought, her brow furrowed. “What is it?”
“The enemy knows where we are, but we’re too strong for them to take us out,” Erica said. “We can’t wait around for them to become stronger. We need to actively work the strategy for beating them, and carry it out before they can get strong enough to kill us.”
It was evening. Daan was standing on the roof of his building, looking at the glow of remaining light to the west. What’s he doing? He could see Ivan in his mind’s eye, grinning at him like a skull with a fedora. His phone dinged. He looked at it. Text message. No survivors at the auto mall. He grimaced as he stuck the phone back in his pocket, then went to the staircase and left the roof, changing to the elevator for the ride down to the bunker.
Saladin turned to him as he came in the door of the lounge.
“You look like you just saw a ghost,” he said.
Daan ignored him, heading for the bar. He poured the last of the bourbon into a glass and drank it down, set the glass on the bar, and threw the empty bottle into the trash so hard that it broke.
“You aren’t going to talk to me?” Saladin asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t want to bite your head off. Turn on the TV. I want to see what the news is saying about this.”
Saladin nodded and picked up the TV remote as Daan opened a fresh bottle of whiskey. He brought the bottle and his glass to the couch, putting them on the coffee table and sitting down. The news was showing the carnage at the Ford dealership, a banner at the bottom of the screen calling it a terror attack.
“Did they mention what happened to the UN leadership down south yet?” Saladin asked.
“No,” Daan said. “We’re suppressing that information.”
“It’s already out on the alternative media, you know,” Saladin said, “I’ve been following it all day. Where have you been?”
“Meetings with Brussels,” Daan said. “Bastards. They ought to come over here and deal with this. These people aren’t like Europeans. They don’t know how to take orders.”
Saladin chuckled. “They’re like the people in my part of the world. They only understand power. We haven’t hit them hard enough.”
“If the society fails, it’ll send the entire world into a depression,” Daan said. “You know this. We need the productive output of the United States to keep going at a certain level, or we’ll all suffer, and the people will resist even more.”
Saladin laughed. Daan looked at him with dark eyes. “You don’t want to mess with me tonight. I had to take it from Brussels. I don’t have to take it from you.”
“Calm down, my friend,” Saladin said. “Have another drink. We’ll break them. It’s only a matter of time.”
“We’ll be lucky if we both survive this,” Daan said, pouring himself another drink. “Wait till George Franklin gets wind of your presence.”
“If you don’t want us to mess with each other, we both must make an effort,” Saladin said.
Daan sighed. “Okay, I’m sorry.” He poured another drink and tossed it back. Saladin watched, brow furrowed.
“You might want to settle down a little.”
Daan nodded, pushing the bottle and his glass away. “Fine. You’re right. What are you seeing on the alternative media?”
“Huge amount of traffic,” Saladin said. “They’re getting many more eyeballs than your mainstream media now.”
“Everybody knows those folks on the internet are nutcases. Tin foil hats.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Saladin said. “They’ve got us pegged pretty well, actually.”
“Then what do we do?”
“Deny all of it, of course,” Saladin said. “Capture and kill those who traffic in this alt network.”
The TV screen went black.
“Oh crap,” Daan said. “Here it comes.”
The screen came back up, showing the top of Ivan the Butcher’s fedora. He slowly looked up at the camera.
“Well, he does have style,” Saladin said. “I’ll give him that.”
“Hello, fellow patriots,” he began. “Thought I was dead, didn’t you? Don’t believe the media. We’re coming to you from the new UN base. It was being readied for a group of high-ranking UN slugs. As you can see here, they won’t be coming.”
“Dammit, those are our dead friends from the UN leadership,” Daan said. “Some of those men I’ve known since grade school.”
“Why’s he showing this?” Saladin asked. “Interesting.”
Daan shot him a sidelong glance.
“This facility is at the abandoned auto mall in Elk Grove…the Ford Dealership, to be exact. This facility was to be used for training and staging UN personnel, who are on their way here in vast numbers, thanks to the people now running this great state. And who are these people?”
Daan and Saladin watched as their pictures were put on the screen next to each other, mug shot style.
“Son of a bitch,” Daan said, listening as Ivan said a few words about both of them. Saladin watched, his expression a mixture of anger and amusement.
“As you can see behind me, we are in the room where UN dignitaries would’ve been entertained by kidnapped women. This is not the first time the UN and the Islamists have used our women for their own pleasure. We want it to be the last. The women seated behind me have all been held captive and abused by the enemy. They wish to tell you their stories. The women standing behind are other women who have just been rescued from this facility. Morgan, this was your idea. Would you like to go first?”
“Oh no,” Daan said. Saladin chuckled.
“You see why I got so mad at that idiot from UC Santa Cruz?” Saladin asked, shaking his head in disgust.
“Your fighters partake as well, every chance they get,” Daan said.
“Yes, but they kill them after a short period of time, not drag them around and share them with others,” Saladin said.
Daan stared at him for a moment, then turned back to the screen and watched as the first woman gave her story.
“This isn’t going to play well in Peoria,” Saladin said. “Isn’t that how you say it?”
“Shut up,” Daan said.
“We’ll have to get more ruthless. You know that, right? Economic downturn or not.”
“I know,” Daan said. He poured himself another drink and sipped it as he watched, the glass shaking in his hand.
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
Copyright Robert Boren 2017