Bugout! California Part 128 – Home Fires

Jules drove the battle wagon into the outskirts of Sacramento, Shelly beside him in the passenger seat. Sparky and Dana were in the salon with several of the women they’d rescued.

“It’s gonna be light soon,” Shelly said. “Where are we stopping?”

“Shingle Springs, but we’ll be on road for while,” Jules said. “Facility there. Well protected and staffed.”

“Where’s Shingle Springs? Never heard of it.”

“East on Highway 50,” Jules said. “We go up in hills.”

“How can we hide?” Shelly asked. “We’ve got a big caravan of RVs going there, and with all these small heavily armed vehicles too. People are gonna notice.”

“Video systems down, and they have no access to satellite or drone video now. Enemy crumbles before us. Social media team start to work. Citizens help us. Wait and see.”

“You sound more confident than I feel,” Shelly said. “What about the hostages?”

“They stay at facility until we can get them where they want to go,” Jules said. “They okay?”

“I think they’re terrified,” Shelly said. “Except that blonde that spoke in the show. She’s ready to fight. Asked me if she can join.”

“Ivan make decision on that. What’s name again?”

“Samantha,” Shelly said. “She’s not with us. She’s in Tex and Karen’s rig.”

“You know women in this rig?”

“Only Kelly,” Shelly said. “The small black-haired woman. She’s interested in joining too.”

“There’s Highway 50,” Jules said, getting into the right lane. He took the ramp onto the smaller road, following several battle wagons, more behind him with the small fighter vehicles.

 

Sparky came up to the front. “It’s too quiet. Where are the enemy fighters? We’re right in the middle of the state capitol. They ought to be attacking by now.”

“Ivan have other actions going while we pull job at auto mall,” Jules said. “Enemy have hands full. Many UN thugs die tonight.”

“What happened to the Islamists?” Sparky asked. I don’t see many hits anymore.”

“They were moving south, but Daan and Saladin need to bring some back,” Jules said. “See, thin out fast on this road. Now only residential. Soon country road.”

“How’s Dana doing?” Shelly asked.

“She’s a bundle of nerves,” Sparky said. “I’m worried about her, but she says she’s better after talking on the TV show. We’ll see.”

“Night terrors?” Jules asked.

Sparky shook his head yes. “Where’s Ivan? He in one of the battle wagons?”

“He’s with Mr. White and Mr. Black,” Jules said. “Going to alternate location. We won’t see for while.”

“Is the kid with him?” Sparky asked.

“Kid? Oh, you mean Ben Dover, no?”

“Yes,” Sparky said.

“He with Ivan, but not for long,” Jules said. “He head social media team. They work from remote facility. Ivan not say where.”

“UN vans, up ahead,” Shelly said. “See them?”

“I see, onramp by Target store,” Jules said. “We’d better kill them.”

“You mean this we?” Sparky said. “We’ll be past them in a second.”

“Look, off roaders pull on dirt off highway and open fire,” Jules said. They could hear explosions behind them, followed by machine gun fire.

“They called in our location, ten to one,” Sparky said.

“And if they send people, we blast,” Jules said. “Ivan had thirty of the small fighting vehicles stay behind couple miles.”

“Those aren’t armored,” Sparky said.

“They fast and well-armed, though,” Jules said.

“There’s the sun,” Shelly said. “Gonna be hard to hide now.”

Dana came up to the front. “Are we going into battle again?”

“Small fighters took care of it,” Sparky said. “Nothing to worry about.”

Dana looked at him, then at Shelly, who shrugged at her.

“You’re not scared, Shelly?” Dana watched as Shelly formulated her reply.

“Yes, I’m scared, but the odds are in our favor,” she said.

“You and Jules are on the same page, aren’t you?” Dana asked.

Shelly stared at her for a moment and shook her head yes.

“Okay, dearie, that’s good enough for now,” Dana said. “I’m with you guys come hell or high water. No sense in getting too worried.”

“That’s right, honey,” Sparky said.

“Can we go sit?” Dana asked.

“Of course,” Sparky said. The couple left the front of the rig.

“Nice job there,” Jules said, glancing at her.

Shelly laughed. “I’m scared to death, but I didn’t want to let her see it.”

“That’s why I say nice job,” Jules said. “We make good partners, you and I.”

“We do,” Shelly said.

They sat quietly for a while as the road unwound before them.

***

“Looks like we’re ready to take off,” Seth said, at the wheel of his battle wagon, on the west end of Dodge city. Half of the 75-vehicle force of cowboys was in front of them on the dirt road, the other half sitting on the side, to take up the rear after the last two battle wagons took off.

Tyler was sitting in the passenger seat. Kaitlyn walked up to look out the windshield.

“Hey, you want to sit?” Tyler asked.

“Nope,” she said. “Go ahead. Think I should have the M60 out, just in case?”

“Yeah,” Seth said. “Better safe than sorry.”

“There they go,” Tyler said, watching as the multitude of vehicles took off. Seth put the coach into gear and drove forward.

“Hope we don’t run into trouble,” Kaitlyn said.

“If we do, we’ll have plenty of help,” Seth said, “Not to mention having these battle wagons.”

“They’re not indestructible,” Tyler said.

Seth glanced at him. “I know, but their sting is pretty tough, and they do give us some protection.”

“Wish the UN creeps had RFID chips,” Kaitlyn said.

“Seriously,” Seth said.

“We were lucky at the winery,” Tyler said. “Real lucky.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Kaitlyn said. “That could’ve gone very badly.”

“We lost a coach and a few cowboys,” Seth said.

“Yeah, why only one mine?” Tyler asked.

“They probably weighed the protection against the hassle to themselves,” Seth said, “and the danger.”

“That’s kinda what I was thinking,” Kaitlyn said. “Doesn’t matter. We hurt them pretty bad, from what Ji-Ho was saying in our conference call earlier.”

“Yep,” Ryan said, “and they whacked them really good up north too. Maybe even better than we did down here.”

“We got more muckity mucks,” Seth said.

“Yeah, but they rescued all those girls,” Kaitlyn said. “I’d like to shake hands with each and every one.”

“Wonder if the teams will ever meet?” Seth asked.

“Hope so,” Tyler said. “I’d like to meet the guy who developed the apps.”

“Me too,” Seth said. “Big time. Hope he lives through this. I keep hearing that the enemy has a whole task force chasing him.”

“I’m gonna sit down,” Kaitlyn said. “Too hard to stand when we’re on this damn dirt road.”

“You sit here,” Tyler said. “I’m gonna sit in the back and call Ed.”

“Okay,” Kaitlyn said, taking his seat after he left.

“Hey, beautiful,” Seth said, smiling at her. “Sorry the road’s so bumpy. Well, kinda sorry.”

“Stop leering,” she said, half a grin on her face. “My chief is right back there.”

“I’m just kidding around,” Seth said. “Hope everything’s okay at home. Makes me nervous. The enemy knows where we are.”

“That’s what Erica kept saying in the meeting. Hit them before they get strong enough, or find new places to hide out.”

“They’ll only find us again,” Seth said.

“Do you think they’re stronger or weaker?”

Seth thought for a moment. “Relative to us, I think they’re weaker, because of the apps.”

“The UN guys don’t have RFID,” Kaitlyn said.

“Yep, so we went from having no view of the enemy to having view of more than half, as far as I can tell. That’s an improvement.”

“I guess,” she said, twisting her hair with her fingers as she watched the road ahead. “What do you think of my mom?”

Seth chuckled. “I think she’s great. You know that.”

“She’s going to leave the tribe to be with Garrett.”

“Think so?” Seth asked. “Maybe Garrett will join the tribe.”

“When they’re married, that’ll happen almost automatically.”

“She’s still married to your dad, though, isn’t she?”

“Step-dad,” Kaitlyn said. “They’re married in the tribe, but they never got married in a way that the state recognizes.”

“Oh,” Seth said. “Do you mind doing that?”

“We already talked about it. We’re going to do both.”

“Good,” Seth said. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”

“You know how I feel,” she said.

“I know, but with all this craziness we haven’t been as close lately.”

She studied him for a minute.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it came out,” Seth said.

“I know what you meant,” she said. “You still love me, right?”

“Yes, very much,” Seth said. “More than ever.”

“I feel the same,” she said, “but you’re worried about it.”

“You aren’t pushing to get married like you were,” Seth said.

“There’s been deaths in the tribe, and the enemy’s been running us ragged.”

Seth was quiet for a moment, then looked over at her. “Okay, I understand. I’m just impatient, that’s all.”

She smiled at him, shaking her head. “Tomorrow, okay?”

“Really?” Seth asked.

“Yes,” she said. “I know Tyler will do it.”

“You’re sure? I’m not going anywhere.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, and don’t feel like you’re pushing me into this, either. Please?”

“Okay,” Seth said. “There’s the highway.”

“Finally,” she said, watching the vehicles turning left onto Highway 94. “Wonder how things have been in Dulzura?”

“We’ll find out pretty soon,” Seth said.

Both of them got buzzed by their phones.

“Dammit,” Kaitlyn said, pulling hers out and looking. “Enemy fighters.”

“Where?” Seth asked, gripping the wheel. Tyler rushed up to the front.

“Feel that?” he asked, looking out the side windows.

“Yeah,” Seth said.

“They’re in that big building close to the Post Office, on the way into town. Only ten of them.”

“One of you text to the convoy,” Seth said. “The other look at the long-range app, and see if there’s a larger number someplace.”

“Roger that,” Tyler said. “I’m sending the text now.”

Kaitlyn studied her phone. “No others close by. Wait, there’s quite a few to the south. They’re a ways away, though. No way could they meet us on this road before we get home.”

“Interesting,” Seth said. “That’s not making much sense.”

“We’d best get ready,” Tyler said. “It could be ten Islamists and a hundred UN punks.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about,” Seth said. “Somebody make sure texts go to Dodge City and to the Williams place. We’re in-between the two. Cavalry could get here from either location pretty fast.”

“Yeah,” Tyler said, typing on his phone. “I’m on it.”

“How far are we from the spot?” Seth asked.

“Quarter mile or so,” Kaitlyn said. “The first wave of cowboys ahead of us will be on them pretty fast.”

“Hey,” Seth said. “Wait a sec. Don’t have our other locations send a bunch of their forces here.”

“Why?” Kaitlyn asked.

“It’ll leave our loved ones un-protected. It might be exactly what they want. We have enough firepower to mess with them real good here. Trust me.”

Tyler leaned back in the couch. “Dammit. I’m gonna take a chance and assume you’re right. I’ll resend, saying they should hold tight and wait for an attack.”

“Yes, and whoever gets hit, we go help,” Seth said.

“Damn straight,” Kaitlyn said.

“They won’t hit Dodge City again,” Tyler said. “They tried and failed yesterday, and Garrett’s had patrols going ever since. They’re gonna hit the Williams place, ten to one.”

Everybody’s phone dinged.

“Holy crap,” Kaitlyn said. “Garrett just made the same comment that Tyler did.”

“Great minds think alike,” Seth said. “He say anything else?”

“Yeah, pull over and fire on the building where the enemy hits are.”

“Roger that,” Seth said, flipping a switch, the mini gun and grenade launchers rising from the top of the coach.

“He just told the cowboys in the vehicles in front of us not to go near the building,” Tyler said.

“He thinks it’s a trap,” Seth said. He drove on, hands sweaty around the wheel. Kaitlyn pulled the main target sight over and looked through it.

“Ready?” Tyler asked. “It’s the big building just this side of the Post Office.”

“Crap, the trees are in the way,” Kaitlyn said, eyes glued to the sight.

“They end,” Tyler said, looking at his phone. “You can fire after we get past them,”

“Got it,” Kaitlyn said as she opened fire, shooting to the rear. The grenades exploded on the target, the third one setting off a massive explosion.”

“Good Lord,” Seth said, watching debris raining around the area.

“Mind the tires, and haul ass towards the Williams place,” Tyler shouted. “The Williams place is gonna get attacked.”

***

Ryan sat in the driver’s seat of the battle wagon, Ed next to him in the passenger seat, reading a text message. “We got trouble brewing.”

“What?”

“Enemy hits near the post office,” Ed said.

“In Dulzura?”

“Yes,” Ed said, sending another text, which dinged in Ryan’s phone.

“That you?”

“Yeah,” Ed said. “I believe we are about to get hit. Sent a broadcast text.”

“The enemy appears to be in Dulzura,” Ryan said.

“Ten RFID hits. They tried to hit Dodge City last night and failed, and now Garrett’s men are patrolling the property on horseback. The enemy is coming here.”

“Why did they send the text?” Ryan asked.

“They requested that we send the cavalry there,” Ed said.

“Did you order it?”

“No,” Ed said. “It’s a trap. Go into siege mode. I’ll send a message to Ji-Ho to do the same.”

Ryan nodded, flipping the switches to activate siege mode. Both their phones dinged. Ed looked at his and chuckled.

“Seth. He figured it out. Said don’t send anybody. Get ready for an attack.”

“Dammit,’ Ryan said.

“Those forces will be here in less than ten minutes,” Ed said. “Four battle wagons and seventy-five cowboys. We have our warriors and a couple hundred mounted men here.”

“Where are the women and children?”

“In the house,” Ed said, sending another text.

“Who are you texting now?”

“Anna,” he said.

“Why?”

“I want your grandmother and the rest of them in the basement right now.”

“Good idea,” Ryan said. Their phones buzzed. Ryan looked at his, then glanced over at Ed. “Islamists.”

“I figured,” Ed said. He sent the text, then studied his phone. “About fifty, and they’ll have some UN folks here that we can’t see.”

“Ji-Ho has siege mode on,” Ryan said, looking through his sight.

“Where’s the cavalry?”

“Already mounted, in the trees surrounding the property,” Ryan said.

Ed was watching through the target reticle in the pull-out console in front of his seat. “Our front-facing guns are pointed right at the driveway.”

“Yeah, so are Ji-Ho’s,” Ryan said. “Anybody in there with him?”

“Sarah,” Ed said. “They put all the folks who can’t run and fight in these tin cans.”

“Hey,” Ryan said.

“Your wound will keep you from being fully effective out there,” Ed said. “You know that. I meant no offense.”

“I know,” he said, smiling at Ed. “I’m just messing with you.”

Their phones dinged with a text message. Ed looked at it while Ryan kept his eyes on the main sight. “Trap. Seth hit the building the Islamists were in with several grenades. It blew sky high.”

“Dammit. We lose anyone?”

“Nope, they knew better. Seth is a smart cookie.”

Ryan chuckled. “My future brother-in-law.”

“You okay with that?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve fought with him. He’s already my brother. I have deep respect for him.”

“Good, me too,” Ed said. He laughed.

“What?”

“Look, to the right of the driveway. They’ve got three of those old cannons over there, pointing down the road.”

Ryan laughed. “Glad we’re in here. Those things made my ears ring for a couple hours last time they went off.”

“They’ll fire first if the enemy comes down the driveway. Great sight line from where they are.”

Machine gun fire floated towards them from the left. “Here it starts,” Ryan said, training the mini gun and grenade launcher in that direction.

“Don’t fire where you can’t see,” Ed said. “Aim at the driveway in front, but keep an eye on the driveway in back too. Our main mission is to stop Gaz Tigrs.”

“Hope they don’t have any tanks,” Ryan said.

The cannons in the front all fired, shaking the ground under the coach.

“Whoa,” Ed said, watching as smoke and fire rose from behind the trees on the driveway. Then a hail of bullets erupted from all sides of the compound, focusing on the driveway.

“Gaz Tigr coming in behind us,” Ryan said, swinging the mini gun to the rear and firing, blowing in the plate glass windshield. He fired a grenade, which went through the broken glass and blew up, the vehicle burning, stopped on the road.

“Nice shooting,” Ed said, checking the rear machine gun target reticle. He opened fire, hitting the men who were sprinting up from behind it. “Fire some grenades back there.”

“Yeah,” Ryan said, pulling the trigger, hitting the area with six in rapid succession.

“I’m only seeing Islamists so far,” Ed said. The cannons in front went off again, and the cavalry started to show themselves, men riding and firing Winchesters, chasing some enemy fighters into the bushes. “I take that back, there’s some UN Peacekeepers up there. The cavalry is on them big time.”

“Look, UN Peacekeepers running onto the lawn. They’re in range of the forward guns.”

“On it,” Ed said. “Keep an eye on the back.” He opened fire, knocking down the running men in a hurry, stopping when about thirty cavalry men rode into view.

“They better have a whole lot more people than that if they want to take us,” Ryan said.

There was a pop, and a mortar round came down about twenty yards in front of the house.

“Dammit, you see where that came from?”

There was intense gunfire from that area, the air thick with black powder and sulphur smell, and explosions went off.

“I think they got them,” Ryan shouted. “Wow, look at those horsemen go. I want to learn how to shoot from the saddle like they’re doing.”

“Yes, I’m impressed,” Ed said, watching them. “More fighters coming from the back. He opened fire with the rear guns. The cannons went off again, one after another, adding to the thick black smoke.

“Gaz Tigr coming up behind the ruined one,” Ryan said, swinging the mini gun back there and firing, punching through the plate glass with the .50 cal rounds, the vehicle stopping. Men struggled to get out of the ruined vehicle, Ed picking them off with the rear machine guns as they attempted to flee.

“That got the attention of the cavalry,” Ed said, watching a group of twenty gallop to the rear, guns blazing.

The mini gun on Ji-Ho’s battle wagon fired, Ryan swinging the sight to that direction, his eyes opening wide. “About a hundred UN Peacekeepers running up the drive. He pulled the trigger on the mini gun, helping Ji-Ho sweep the area with lead, some of the Peacekeepers literally cut in half by the intense fire. Then a new volley of black powder fire came from both sides of the clearing.

“They’re getting hit from three sides!” Ryan shouted.

“Yeah, but we’re gonna have to reload that mini gun quickly at this rate of fire. Switch to grenades, while I hammer at them with the front guns.”

Ryan nodded and fired a series of grenades. “Crap, they overran the cannon.”

“There’s too many,” Ed shouted, seeing another big group rush the side of Ji-Ho’s coach. A barrel came out of the side slit, spewing lead at a furious rate, causing the remaining Peacekeepers to dive for cover, only to be found by mounted men, who rode up with guns blazing.

“More, coming from the rear,” Ryan shouted, swinging the mini gun around. “I can’t see the cavalry.”

“Then hold your fire,” Ed said.

Ji-Ho’s rig pointed their mini gun in that direction and fired, men shouting as they dived for cover, mounted men showing up from the sidelines, opening fire.

“Damn old Winchesters,” Ed said. “Those men should have M4s or AKs.”

“Yeah, when the numbers are nearly equal, it makes a difference,” Ryan said. They were startled as machine gun fire pelted the driver’s side of the rig. Ryan fired the mini gun at the men rushing toward them, but ran out of ammo. “I’m out!” He leapt out of his seat and picked up an M60, going to the gun slit and opening up, mowing down most of the rushing Peacekeepers, the rest diving for cover.

“Go reload the mini gun,” Ed shouted. “I’ll get on the grenade launcher.”

Ryan nodded and sprinted towards the back, pulling the cover for the mini gun down in a panic, and threading a new ammo belt into it as Ed wailed away with the grenade launcher.

“If our folks don’t get here quick, we’re gonna lose this battle,” Ed shouted from the front. “They’ve got to have about three hundred men here. The Cavalry can’t handle them all.”

To be continued…

 

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Copyright Robert Boren 2017

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