Bugout! California Part 129 – Deadly Battle

Sam followed the caravan, heading back to the Williams place. They could hear gunfire as they made the left onto Dutchman Canyon Road.

“This is bad,” Erica said. “Hear all that?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “The driveway’s blocked. Broken Gaz Tigrs. We’ll have to push them out of the way.”

“Somebody better stay here to blast any more that come down the road,” Clem said.

“I’m texting Angel,” Yvonne said. “They’re the last. They should pull up next to the driveway and go into siege mode.”

“Do that,” Sam said as he made the final turn into the driveway, watching Seth’s rig raise the front armor plate and move forward.

“He’s gonna do what we did at the winery,” Erica said, watching as the massive rig pushed the first Gaz Tigr out of the way. Sam squeezed their rig past and pushed the second one out of the way, then opened fire right away.

“Geez, look at all those UN Peacekeepers,” Sam said.

“Son of a bitch, we got here just in time,” Garrett said, texting to the 75 cars full of cowboys, who had gone around the gate and were rolling in from both sides of the property.

“Move up, dammit,” Sam said as he pulled forward. He heard a mini gun go off behind them, turning his sight to see Angel’s coach firing at a Gaz Tigr on Highway 94. Another was behind it. Sam swung his guns around and fired with Angel, both Tigrs exploding into flames. “Dammit, maybe we’d better stay here.”

“Our little girl is in there,” she said. “Get this beast in, then I’m going into the house.”

“Okay,” Sam said, driving forward through the gate, going past Seth and Trevor’s rigs as they fired at the fleeing UN Peacekeepers. Cowboys rushed in on foot and fired at them too.

“Make a sweeping turn and pull into the veranda,” Erica shouted. “I want the door facing the house.”

“Way ahead of you, sweetie,” Sam said calmly, turning the vehicle and parking, blocking the veranda, then going into siege mode. Garrett opened the slit on the driver’s side and stuck an M60 through, mowing down a group of UN Peacekeepers who were hiding behind some cover firing at the cowboys.

“Nice shooting,” Clem said, getting next to him. Sid and Yvonne had their guns out and headed towards the door.

“You sure you want to be doing that?” Sam asked.

“Let them go,” Garrett said. “Our women and children are in there. We need some M60s in the house.”

“Okay, but somebody stay here to reload and man the slits,” Sam said.

“I’ll stay,” Clem said. “I’m too slow to run around anyway.”

“I’ll stay here too,” Sid said, glancing at Yvonne.

“Okay, honey, I’m going with Erica,” she said.

“I’m going too,” Garett said. “Mind if I take this M60?”

“Go,” Sam said. “We’ve got plenty, plus the BAR is in the back too.”

Garrett nodded and followed the others out, rushing over the veranda, pockmarked with bullet holes, bursting through the door. Anna was at the stairs up from the basement with her Winchester, relieved when she saw Garrett and Erica rushing there.

“Where’s Mia?” Erica asked as the gunfire surged.

“In the basement with the other women and children,” she said. “Glad you guys made it. We were on our way to losing.”

“Yeah, well it ain’t over yet,” Garrett shouted, tipping his hat to Anna and then rushing to a window on the front corner of the house. He opened the window and fired at a group of Islamists trying to sneak towards the house, killing most of them and alerting some of the cavalry, who rushed over and killed the rest before they could retreat.

“Somebody get in the back of the house,” Garrett shouted. “We’re liable to be attacked from there.”

“About twenty of the cars your guys came in are back there now,” Anna shouted.

Back in the rig, Sam was wailing away with the grenade launcher at yet another group of Islamists and UN Peacekeepers, who were rushing towards Seth’s rig. Then a group of the cowboys got on the cannons, turning them, loading in a panic as Sid and Clem opened up with M60s. The ear-shattering boom of the cannons went off, one after the other, shattering three Gaz Tigrs which had tried to come in from the west side of the property.

Sam laughed. “The trees were too dense for them to get out of there, and they couldn’t get turned around quick enough.”

“Damn straight, baby,” Clem shouted. “There’s two more behind them, but they’re going towards the driveway, see?”

“The cannon team sees them too,” Sid said, watching them load new cannon balls and ram them in. They fired, hitting both Tigrs, one of them rolling over, the other stopping, men trying to get out. Clem and Sid saw them and opened fire along with several of the cowboys.

“They had a whole lot more fighters than I expected,” Sam said, looking from one point to another, firing short blips with the mini gun and firing grenades. “Hope this is all.”

“They have to get past those two battle wagons in the driveway,” Clem said. “Look, the cannons are being moved again, in the other direction!”

“Dammit,” Sam shouted as a volley of machine gun fire killed several of the cannon crew. He spun the mini gun around and opened fire, hitting fleeing Islamists as more cowboys rushed up to take over at the cannons, loading and firing again, spewing fire and smoke.

“This stuff is burning my eyes,” Clem shouted, turning to smile at Sam.

“It’s slowing down,” Sid said. “Finally.”

The cavalry showed themselves again, riding from place to place, swords out, slashing survivors as the gunfire ended.

Garrett was on the veranda now, looking around. Anna ran out and hugged him, and they went back into the house.

“I think it’s over,” Sam said, looking at his phone. “I don’t see anybody else coming. At least no Islamists.”

“That was a hell of a battle,” Sid said. “Look at all the bodies. My God.”

“Clean up on aisle nine,” Clem said.

“Somebody man the main sight, while I go inside,” Sam said. “I want to make sure Erica and Mia are okay.”

“I’ll take the sight,” Sid said. “Getting pretty good with these things.”

“Better reload the mini gun,” Sam said as he left, stepping out of the coach. He rushed to the open door, covered with bullet holes. “Erica!”

“Down here,” he heard Erica shout back, muffled from the basement. He sprinted to the stairs, nodding to Anna and Garrett as they were embraced in the kitchen.

“Daddy!” Mia shouted, rushing from Erica’s arms to his.


Ed sighed, leaning back in the passenger seat, pushing the main sight away. Ryan backed away from the side windows, pulling his M60 out of the gun slit and leaning it against the wall.

“Should we go out?” Ryan asked.

“Let’s load up the guns again first,” Ed said, getting out of his seat. They got to the task, Ryan doing the mini gun, Ed the M19.

“We almost got overrun, didn’t we?” Ryan asked as he walked back into the salon.

Ed closed and latched the M19 compartment, then looked at him. “We did. This place has too many entrance points. We’ve either got to fortify it more or get the hell out of here.”

“Ji-Ho is getting out,” Ryan said, looking out the window. Shall we?”

“Might as well,” he said. “Take a weapon.”

“You think they’ll be back?”

“No, but I didn’t think they’d throw more at us than we can handle, either,” he said.

Ryan shrugged and grabbed one of the M-16s, handing it to Ed, then picking up one for himself. “I don’t want to haul an M60 around. Arm’s still bothering me.”

“This will be okay,” Ed said. They left the coach and walked over to Ji-Ho, who was about to climb the veranda steps with Sarah. He turned towards them.

“We lucky,” Ji-Ho said, lines in his face making him look tired and old.

“I believe the same,” Ed said. “We need to discuss.”

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said.

“I’m gonna go find Yvonne,” Sarah said, moving quickly up the stairs.

“Sarah,” Ji-Ho said. She stopped and looked back at him. “You were good.”

She smiled. “Yeah, I was, wasn’t I? You weren’t half bad yourself.”

Ji-Ho chuckled. “Yes, for old guy.”

“Sam out of his coach?” Ed asked, looking at it parked next to the veranda steps. The door opened, Sid poking his head out.

“Okay to come out now, I take it.” He came down the steps.

“I’ll stick around and man the guns, just in case,” Clem said from inside.

“Okay,” Sid said. “I’m gonna find Yvonne.”

The men walked up the steps, just as Sam was coming out the front door.

“Oh, good, there you are,” Ed said. “We need to chat.”

“Yes, we do,” Sam said. “That was bad. We barely won.”

“Yes, we barely win, but we do win,” Ji-Ho said. “Don’t get discouraged, but we must learn and adjust.”

Garrett came out of the kitchen with Anna. “Gentlemen, you all made it unharmed.” His expression was grim.

“Lost a fair number of your men,” Ed said.

“I know,” Garrett said. “We need to chat. We can’t afford another day like today.’

“No, we can’t,” Sam said. “Living room?”

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. They walked into the large room to the left of the door and found seats on the couches.

“How many warriors did we lose?” Ryan asked, “and where’s Tyler?”

“I’m here,” Tyler said as he approached from the door. “I was in the coach with Seth and Kaitlyn.”

“They still in there?” Sam asked.

“Yeah,” Tyler said. “Angel and Megan are still in their’s, and Trevor and Kaylee too.”

“Good,” Sam said. “They know to stay and keep watch for a while?”

“Yes, we chatted before I left,” Tyler said. “That was a cluster..”

“Stop!” Erica said as she brought Mia over.

“Sorry,” Tyler said.

“What we’re gonna discuss might scare Mia,” Anna said.

“No!” Mia said quickly. “I want to stay with daddy.”

“We can handle it in a good way, if everybody’s careful,” Erica said. “If it gets bad, I’ll take her elsewhere.”

“Okay, back too it,” Ryan said. “Do we know how many warriors we lost?”

“Your people?” Garrett asked.

Ryan smiled. “No, all groups. I consider all of us warriors.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Sam said.

Garrett pulled out his phone and sent a text. “I just asked my men to start working that. They’ve got to pick up the battlefield anyway.”

“Are we sure that Dodge City is okay?” Ed asked.

Garrett hit send on the text and then looked up at him. “It’s easier to defend, and I’ve got mounted patrols going 24/7. They’re okay so far. I’ve been in contact almost constantly. Even considered bringing some more cavalry over here. Would’ve if the tide didn’t turn.”

“Okay, let’s cut to the chase,” Sam said. “The way I see it, we have three choices. Fortify this place, move everybody to Dodge City, or leave the city and fight from the road.”

“We have too many young and old to fight from the road,” Ryan said.

“Our people did that for centuries,” Ed said, “but war was different then.”

“Frankly, there’s too many young and old at Dodge City to do that, too, and supply lines to feed everybody would be a problem. We have livestock and even some farming at Dodge City.”

“Sounds like fighting from the road can be eliminated,” Ryan said. Several others nodded in agreement, but Sam held up his hands.

“Nothing gets eliminated yet,” he said. “I had a similar choice when we were still in the RV park. Had I chosen to stay and fortify, we’d be dead now.”

“That was smaller and harder to defend,” Sid said.

“That’s true,” Sam said. “How did the enemy force get into Dodge City last night?”

“Four-wheel drive vehicles and on foot,” Garrett said, “best that we could tell, anyway. They did it slowly. Probably were hanging out there when we were at the winery.”

“That was diversion only,” Ji-Ho said.

“Yes, I tend to agree with that,” Garrett said.

“Why?” Sam asked.

“We only found thirty dead UN Peacekeepers,” Garrett said.

“Think some might have escaped after they were losing the battle?” Sid asked.

“No,” Garrett said. “They would’ve left tracks. We’ve been all over it today. We got them all.”

“So, the plan was always to hit us here?” Ryan asked.

“As a first step, yes,” Tyler said. “They’ve scoped out both. I’m sure they thought this was a target they could take out.”

“Yes, weakening us in the process,” Erica said. “Then they would’ve hit us in Dodge City again with larger numbers.”

“They still might,” Sam said. “We don’t know how many UN Peacekeepers there are around here.”

“We don’t know that, but we know something else,” Ed said.

“What’s that?” Sam asked.

“We know that we’re a huge priority for them.”

“Revenge?” Ryan asked.

“No,” Ji-Ho said. “They need routes back. I-8, mostly. We can stop that, and they know. Not personal.”

“Oh, there may be some personal,” Sam said. “I know Saladin and I’ve read a lot about Daan Mertins. We’re on their last nerve. Trust me.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right about that,” Sid said.

“Me too,” Ed said. “Is there a way to fortify this location?”

“No,” Tyler said.

“Why not?” Sid asked.

“It’s not miles away from the highway like Dodge City. It’s a couple hundred yards. They could line up mortars on Highway 94 and destroy this place before we could stop them.”

“What about the battle wagons?” Ryan asked.

“If they fire mortars from road, we can stop. If they go out into desert floor a few hundred yards, they can still hit, and we can’t follow with these massive rigs.”

“The grenade launchers and the mini guns have some range,” Ryan said.

“We’ll run out of ammo,” Sam said. “Before we can get re-stocked. Hell, there’s only two belts of .50 cal left in my rig, and I didn’t use my mini gun as much as some of the others.”

“Sounds to me like our choice is obvious,” Garrett said.

Everybody sat silently for a few moments. Erica was watching Sam, his brow furrowed, hand rubbing his chin. “Spit it out, honey.”

He looked up at her and sighed, pausing to caress Mia’s hair for a moment. “All it’s gonna take is some artillery or a few tanks and we’ll be at a large disadvantage.”

“That’s why you don’t want to give up being on the road as an option?” Erica asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said, “and I didn’t mean that we stay on the road – what I meant is that we move around from one place to another instead of settling down and digging in. I’ll go with what the group decides, but I think we should be ready to skedaddle in a hurry regardless of where our base is or how well we think it’s fortified.”

“Are there back ways out of Dodge City?” Ed asked. “Realistic routes that we could all escape on?”

Garrett thought about it for a moment. “Yes, there are, in several directions, but they all lead into very many miles of wilderness. Tough wilderness, with no water for long stretches.”

“So maybe we use what we’ve learned over the years,” Tyler said. “Prepare ahead of time. Stash water, food, and even ammo at various points.”

“Clem can do a lot with sensors and cameras, too,” Sid said.

“Yeah, he’s right about that,” Sam said. “We’ve got quite a few claymore mines left over from a couple previous battles. They could help us on the roads into Dodge City.”

Garrett laughed. “Well, if you want to make booby traps, we’ve got a lot of dynamite too, and we can manufacture a lot more. We could make that place a terror to enter, that’s for sure.”

“As long as we don’t blow ourselves up in the process of protecting ourselves,” Sid said.

“Is there anyone who thinks we should stay here and fortify?” Erica asked.

Nobody raised their hands.

“Are we really ready to make the decision so fast?” Anna asked.

“It’s going to be dark in a few hours,” Erica said. “Do we want to spend the night here?”

“She have point,” Ji-Ho said. “The longer we sit around and chat, the more time enemy has to take advantage.”

“Could we even get everybody over there tonight?” Erica asked. “Do we have enough vehicles?”

“It’ll take more than one trip,” Ed said. “Probably as many as three, and that’s with loading the battle wagons to the gills.”

“Remember we’re down one of those, too,” Sid said. “Lost one at the winery, remember?”

Garrett smiled. “No, towed it to Dodge City. We’ll have a new transaxle in a couple of days. The rest of it is fine.”

“Nice,” Sid said, smiling.

“We also get resupply, just so you know,” Ji-Ho said. “I already send request to Ivan.”

“He’s got more stuff?” Erica asked.

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Including new toys used up north. See.” He held up his phone, showing a picture of an off-roader with a turret on top.

Sam burst out laughing. “That’s a grenade launcher, same model as we’re using on the battle wagons.”

“Yes, but look at gimbal and sight mechanism.”

“Where does he get this stuff?” Sam asked.

“Team in Texas developed off-roaders,” Ji-Ho said. “Your old friend gave him the idea for the battle wagons.”

“My old friend?”

“George Franklin,” Ji-Ho said. “Remember Red Dagger’s family?”

Sam chuckled. “I’m almost afraid to hear about this.”

“Careful, Mia’s right here,” Erica said.

“Not graphic tale,” Ji-Ho said. “Red family developed vehicle, teamed briefly with George and Malcom, take out Sailor Boy with help of prototype.”

“Who’s Red Dagger?” Tyler asked.

“Later,” Sam said.

“Okay, let’s start working logistics on the move,” Garrett said.

“What about the bodies?” Anna whispered to him.

“Our fallen go with us. The rest can rot here, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Lots of them have chips,” Sid said. “That’ll be a draw. Maybe we ought to booby trap the joint on the way out.”

Garrett chuckled, then pulled out his phone and sent a text.

“What’d you do?” Sid asked.

“We’ll have about a hundred pounds of TNT here by nightfall.”

To be continued…


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