Sam and the rest were pinned down behind the ridge, gunfire coming at them every few moments. They raised to return fire.
“They run us out of ammo while they come around ridge on right hand side,” Jules said, watching as Ted and Sid got out the mortars. “Mortars not solve. Most probably gone from that area.”
Ted set down his mortar and rushed over to Sam, Erica, and Tex as Jules looked on.
“How long until those off-roaders get here?” Ted asked.
Garrett looked away from the ridge. “Ten minutes, maybe fifteen or twenty.”
“We might be dead by then, partner,” Tex said. “Time to become a little more proactive.”
“Hey, recruit,” Ted said, looking at Sam. “What does this remind you of?”
“That bad spot we got ourselves out of in Afghanistan,” Sam said. “Was just thinking about that. You ready?”
“Ready for what?” Erica asked.
“We’re gonna go ambush the ambushers,” Ted said.
Tex grinned. “I’m in.”
Jules held up his hands. “Wait. Think through. We have several resources. Need to use perfectly.”
“I’m listening,” Ted said.
“Sid and I get mortars set up, hit first area, then move to right quickly. Most of force probably there. Who best sniper here?”
“That’d be Yvonne,” Sid said.
“I’ve got my sniper rifle in the Jeep,” she said. “You want me to watch for movement and pick them off, right?”
“Yes, they eyes and ears for force coming at us,” Jules said. “Make them think we all here focused on them.”
“I get it, partner,” Tex said. “Meanwhile those of us good at running warfare use our special forces training. Head them off and pin them down. Hopefully that’ll work long enough for the off-roaders to get here.”
“Exactly,” Jules said. “Ted, Sam, Tex go.”
“I’m going too,” Erica said.
Jules looked at Sam. “She good enough?”
“She’s at least as good as I am,” Sam said. “Maybe better. She trained Kaitlyn.”
“Good enough for me. Go. Clock running.”
Sam nodded, pulling his M60 off the ridge. Erica checked the magazine in her AK-47, while the others checked their weapons – Tex with his BAR and Ted with another M60, his M4 slung over his shoulder.
“I’m gonna go grab a couple more ammo belts,” Sam said, rushing back to his Jeep, returning with them around his neck. “Let’s go.”
Jules watched them scurry off to the right, along the ridge, dropping down out of sight quickly.
“What do I do?” Shelly asked.
“Cover us, and every minute or two, send a short blip of fire from your M4 into those trees. Different target every time. Make them think more than one shooter. I join in between mortar salvos.”
Yvonne’s sniper rifle went off, and they could see a UN Peacekeeper in camo falling out of a tree.
“Nice shot,” Sid said, as he dropped a mortar round into the tube. “Fire in the hole.”
The round came down right behind the trees. Yvonne smiled and fired three rounds as quickly as she could work the bolt on her Winchester Model 70, dropping two with the three shots. Then Jules fired off his mortar, to the right side, the blast sending two UN Peacekeepers rolling down the hill, both Yvonne and Shelly firing at those they could see. Garrett got up with his Winchester and fired several times, the black powder rising above them.
“Wow, I hit somebody,” Shelly whispered.
“You okay?” Jules asked, mortar round in his hand above the tube.
“More than okay,” she said. “This is payback.”
Jules chuckled and dropped another mortar round, hitting a little further to the right again, Sid dropping one seconds later, the whoosh of flame spreading around one part of the trees.
“Sure it’s a good idea to be using that black powder gun?” Sid asked Garrett. “It kinda gives away our position.”
Jules laughed. “In this case, good. Move around with that. Make it look like there more than one.”
“Just what I had in mind,” Garrett said, rushing twenty yards to the left and firing again.
Ted, Sam, Erica, and Tex fanned out as they got into the wooded section below the ridge, using hand signals to point out positions, moving silently, their eyes scanning. Sam was worried about Erica in the back of his mind, not because he didn’t think she was up to it, but because no matter how good you were at this kind of warfare, bad things can happen. Sam had the scars to prove it.
Tex froze, slipping behind some bushes, then getting into prone position, dropping the bipod on his BAR, glancing back at the others, holding up his hand, five fingers up. The others nodded back at him, getting into cover positions, watching silently as the UN commando team headed in their direction, using the same training they had. There was a clear shot for one, Tex having a bead on him, but holding up his hand in a hold your fire manner, waiting as two more of the five also came into view. Erica raised her hand with two fingers, her AK pointed in a different direction.
Tex nodded, opening fire, the others joining in, hitting four of the five, the survivor screaming and running back to the bushes he came out of. They watched silently, the sounds of gunfire and mortar rounds drifting over to them. Sam got up, running in a crouch to the next clump of cover, getting down and listening as the others rushed forward. The mortar fire and rifle shots intensified, the sound of a black powder rifle piercing the air, the sulphur smell drifting towards them. Sam grinned, glancing at Tex, who was focused on the clump of bushes past an open section. He held up his hand and pointed with three fingers. Sam nodded, then saw Erica gracefully rush past him in the brush, eyes focused, gun at the ready, bobbing and weaving, hitting the dirt as a shot rang out in front of her, bullets hitting a tree, bark flying in all directions. Her AK went off, and a person yelled. There was rustling in the brush and Tex fired his BAR, dropping one man. Sam saw three more, rushing towards the spot Erica was, and opening fire with the M60, cutting them down before they got thirty yards. Erica was firing again, at two men who’d frozen behind the three Sam had shot, both hitting the ground dead.
There was more rustling in the brush in front of them, but it was moving away, not moving forward. Ted bounded ahead on the far left, firing his M60 as he went, the UN Peacekeepers yelling and pouring on the speed, Erica up and running now, much faster than Ted, her AK going off every few seconds. Tex and Sam got up and ran in that direction, and then a salvo of fire came at them and they all got behind cover. Tex climbed forward on his belly, looking at the terrain ahead, then shaking his head and holding up ten fingers, flashing them twice, half a grin on his face. Ted rose for a moment and threw something, and then the forest ahead of them exploded, gunfire starting again as Ted hit the dirt, grabbing his M60 and firing into the trees. Erica was up and running again, dodging bullets as she fired, going from tree to tree. Sam saw several Peacekeepers rushing her position and nailed them with the M60, and then there was silence for a moment. Ted and Tex moved forward again, watching silently as Sam moved closer to Erica, who was on point now.
Another volley of fire went off, hitting the trees above their heads, pinning them down. Tex looked forward and grinned, holding up five fingers, then putting the BAR in front of him and firing, a man screaming as he fell into view, only to be hit in the face by Erica’s AK. Ted chucked another grenade, which hit the dirt and rolled into the bushes, a German man yelling in panic before it went off. Three men rushed out of the bushes, right into Tex’s sight, and he cut them down, then paused to reload his magazine with 30-06 ammo. There was no more noise now, other than the sporadic gunfire and mortar rounds coming from Jules and the others. Sam rushed to Erica, diving onto the dirt next to her.
“Nice job,” he whispered.
She nodded, smiling, turning her eyes forward and listening again, making eye contact and holding up three fingers, then nodding towards Ted and Tex. Sam relayed the message and followed Erica forward, around the right side of the wooded ridge. They could hear men running with equipment, but they were fleeing, not coming towards them. Erica stopped behind a tree and fired, Ted joining her from the other side as the Peacekeepers tried hiding behind a boulder to escape Erica’s fire. They were dead in seconds, Erica racing forward again, Sam trying to keep up behind her. The wooded section ended for about fifty yards, Erica trying to shoot a handful of Peacekeepers making for the cover, only hitting two. Ted fired from the other side, dropping two more, leaving one who got to the cover in time. They could hear him breaking through tight branches as he struggled to get away. Then that section of forest exploded in flames, hit by a willie peter round from one of the mortars. Sam froze and sent a text to Jules and the others, telling them not to move any further to the right with mortar fire. He got a confirmation quickly. The group got together behind the trees, all of them trying to catch their breath.
“That was kinda fun,” Erica said, wiping the sweat off her forehead.
“You are a hell of a fighter,” Ted said, smiling at her.
“Seriously,” Tex said. “I’m impressed.”
The wooded section a little further to the left went up in flames with a whoosh, and it spread towards the original position, joining quickly with the flames started with the earlier willie peter round.
“Damn, hope this doesn’t turn into a big brush fire,” Ted said. “You know how dry it is.”
“Maybe we should join the others and keep going,” Sam said.
Tex shook his head. “I think we ought to walk around the back side of that ridge first, partner.”
“He’s right,” Erica said. “We’ve got to drive those Jeeps right down through that valley. If there’s more UN thugs past that ridge, they’ll pin us down.”
They were getting ready to walk towards the burning cover ahead of them when they heard the raspy snarl of many off-roaders approaching.
Tex chuckled. “I don’t think we have to do that job after all. Look. They’re going right through the valley now.”
The rest moved closer and looked, watching about twenty of the off-roaders flying down the hill from the original position, heading for the crest of the hill into the next valley.
“Good, let’s just sit here and wait until they get on the other side,” Ted said. “We’ll hear if they run into anybody. If they don’t, we should go back to the Jeeps and keep going.”
“Yeah, sounds good,” Sam said, watching as the first of the off-roaders climbed the fire road, disappearing over the crest of the ridge, followed by several others. There was no gunfire. A moment later all their phones dinged with a text.
“It’s clear,” Tex said, looking at his screen. “Let’s get going.”
They headed back for the Jeeps. Jules and the others had the guns and mortars loaded before they got there, and they took off, following the off-roaders into the next valley.
“So what do we do, just call the number?” Morgan asked, sitting next to Robbie in the cool dark earthen room.
“I guess,” Robbie said. “Let’s think about this. We need a story.”
“Yeah, we can’t just call and ask if they’ve been renting trucks to UN Peacekeepers, can we?”
Morgan giggled. “I guess you have a point there.”
Robbie sat silently for a moment, staring at his laptop screen, which at this point could’ve been a window. He sighed and picked up the pen, rolling it till he could see the phone number, then picked up his cellphone and tapped in the number. He put it on speaker, and put his finger to his lips, Morgan nodding.
“Smiley’s Rental Yard,” said an old-sounding, rather gruff voice. This is Jimmy.”
“It’s not Smiley?”
The old man laughed, turning into a coughing fit. “Sorry. Smiley was my father.”
“Oh,” Robbie said. “What time do you guys open?”
“We’ve been open since six. What can I do for you?”
“I’m looking for a moving truck,” Robbie said. “My fiancé and I are moving into a new place.”
“We only got small ones available. The three large ones we have are rented most of the time. Usually a day or more ahead.”
“How small are the ones you have?” Robbie asked.
“Slightly larger than a van,” he said. “Two. Okay for moving if you only have a little stuff. Got plenty of open trailers that have a lot more room in them.”
“Not going to work,” Robbie said. “Got nothing to tow with.”
“No car, in California?”
Robbie snickered. “Any of your trailers work with a Toyota Yaris?”
The man chuckled. “Okay, I see your point. No, you don’t want to be towing one of these with those kiddie-cars. No offense.”
“None taken. How about tomorrow? Got any of the larger trucks available then?”
“Maybe, if they come back in time, and in a usable condition,” Jimmy said, his voice flaring with anger. “Jerks left a bunch of blood in the back last night, and dirt too.”
“Uh oh,” Robbie said. “Sounds like you don’t want to be renting to those folks. You gave them the trucks again after that?”
“Normally I would’ve called the cops about it, and stopped renting to them,” Jimmy said. “Can’t do that here. Damn worthless sheriff won’t listen. Says they’re using them for official business, and if I know what’s good for me, I’d better keep my mouth shut tighter than a drum.”
“Any other yards around that have large moving trucks?” Robbie asked. “I got a lot of stuff, and my girl has more.”
“The others closed up shop, at least the others in El Cajon. Maybe some in San Diego, but nobody likes to deal with those damn check-points.”
“The damn Navy. They think they’ve been given control. I got property in there and they won’t let me in.”
“Two of my vans and a pickup truck got caught back there when all hell broke loose. I have an address, but they won’t let me in to fetch them.”
“Oh,” Robbie said, glancing at Morgan. “They the ones who’ve been renting your trucks?”
He snickered. “I wish. The sheriff told me not to ask questions, but I think these are the worst form of scum we have around here now.”
“I don’t follow.”
“They got French and Italian accents. You can put two and two together, can’t ya, friend?”
Jimmy sighed. “I think it’s the damn UN. They’re mostly in hiding after the uprisings, but they’re still around. Bad things still happening.”
“You know. Women and girls disappearing, their men found gutted someplace. Real pigs. Hate them all.”
Robbie was silent for a moment.
“You don’t take offence, I hope,” Jimmy said. “You don’t like them, do you?”
“No, I don’t like them one bit,” Robbie said. “What if we came real early in the morning, day after tomorrow?”
“I’ll tell you what,” Jimmy said, “I’ll open for you at 5:30 and let you have one, if you don’t mind taking your chances a little bit.”
“They might not be cleaned out as well as usual. If there’s blood or anything like that, I’ll hose it out the night before.”
“What about my stuff? You got pads or something that I can put on the floor to keep my furniture and boxes clean?”
“Yeah, we got plenty of pads, but I suggest you use boxes on the floor instead. I’ll give you enough free of charge. Don’t put them together, just lay them on the floor… you get it?”
“Yeah, I get it,” Robbie said. “Thanks. What’s your address?”
“You don’t see it on the web page?”
“No, I got your number off a ballpoint pen that a buddy gave me,” Robbie said.
Jimmy laughed. “Well I’ll be damned.”
“What’s so funny?”
“My brother-in-law talked me into buying those pens a few years ago. I think you’re the first customer I’ve ever gotten from one.” He read off the address.
“Well, I’m glad I found you guys. Thanks for your time. I’ll be there at 5:30 sharp, day after tomorrow.”
“This number good to reach you?” Jimmy asked.
“Yep,” Robbie said. “See you soon.” He ended the call.
“What good is going down there gonna do for us?” Morgan asked.
“I think we’ll be sending a team down there tomorrow morning,” Robbie said. “Stake the place out. Maybe hang out all day. Follow them home.”
“Oh, I get it,” Morgan said. “You aren’t going, I hope?”
“Nah, I think this is a job for our folks with special forces experience.”
Morgan looked relieved. “Good.”
Seth came around the corner with Kaitlyn and Ben, carrying their laptops. “Mind if we join you in here for a while?”
“Sure, no problem,” Robbie said. “What’s going on?”
“Elmer, Willard, and Clem are gonna install lights and some more ethernet lines in there,” Ben said. “They’ll be doing this section next, so we’ll all have to move back out there in a couple hours.”
“Progress,” Morgan said.
As they were setting up, Ivan walked in with Ji-Ho.
“Hey, guys, how’s it going?” Ivan asked.
“Glad you’re here,” Robbie said. “Just had a conversation with that rental yard.”
“Oh, the pen,” Ivan said. “Jules texted me about that. What happened?”
Robbie told them the story.
Ivan and Ji-Ho sat silently for a moment, thinking. Robbie shot Morgan a nervous glance.
“Hey, boss, this sounds like a job for your hit squad,” Ben said.
“Hit squad?” Morgan asked.
“Mr. White and Mr. Black,” Ben said.
Ivan looked at him and smiled. “Exactly what I was thinking, but not sure if I can get them here tomorrow.”
“We probably want them there later in the day anyway,” Kaitlyn said. “We want to follow them home, right? Won’t they be going home after they drop the trucks off?”
Ji-Ho nodded. “That right.”
Ivan chuckled. “Yes, that’s right. It was what I was thinking, but Mr. White and Mr. Black are in the middle of an operation that won’t be over until very late tonight.”
“Oh,” Kaitlyn said.
“I’ve got to go make some calls,” Ivan said, walking towards the passage way. He turned before he was out of sight. “Nice job, Robbie.”
Robbie nodded, watching him disappear.
To be continued…
For those of you following Bug Out! Texas, Book 10 has just been published. You can find it here.
Bug Out! Texas Book 1 is now just 99 cents in the Kindle Store! Free in Kindle Unlimited! 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