Sax and Kevin took up a position under the trailer of their rig, setting up their M60s on the tripods, watching Riviera Road.
“We wait until they’re trapped, right?” Kevin asked.
“Yeah,” Sax said, checking his belt. “This is gonna be a bloodbath. We might not survive.”
“I know, but we can’t walk away,” Kevin said. “It’s our duty. I want this country to be here for my kids.”
“You popped the question yet?”
Kevin chuckled. “Playing hard to get, but Kristi won’t take that for much longer.”
“She’s a fine woman, man. Don’t lose her.”
“I won’t. Hope I live to have her as my wife.”
“You will,” Sax said.
Kevin’s phone rang. “Juan.” He answered it.
“Kevin?” Juan asked.
“Yeah. You guys ready to block up the street?”
“Engines running, rigs pointed in that direction. You’ll see them come through first, so I’ll rely on you to give the word. No shooting until they’re in the kill zone, right?”
“Yep. Thanks, man. We’re gonna kick their asses.”
“Damn straight, brother. Don’t get killed.”
“Yeah, don’t you get killed either,” Kevin said. “Who’d I have to take money from at the poker table?”
“Nice. Talk to you, man.” Kevin ended the call.
“They’re ready?” Sax asked.
“Yep, but they’ll wait on us for the word. How many of those vans should we let go by before we tell them?”
“Better look at the satellite feed again,” Sax said, putting his phone in front of his face. “Wow. Probably no more than about fifteen.”
“How many total?”
“Hell, maybe sixty or so.”
“Shit,” Kevin said. “Why don’t we wait longer?”
“Because this section of the road isn’t that long. Don’t worry. The other six-hundred rigs are gonna shut the back door at almost the same time. Half of them are already at Grove Street and Broadway. They’re having to slow down so they don’t get seen.”
“Where’s the last of the enemy vans?”
Jax studied his phone for a moment. “Lemon Grove Avenue, just passing Lincoln Street.”
“This is gonna happen fast. Think we’re back far enough?”
Jax nodded. “It’ll be okay, man. Just keep your head down.”
“Here they come,” Kevin whispered as the line of vans came around the bend, slowing as they saw the semi-rigs, but then speeding up again.
Sax was counting silently, mouthing the words, phone in hand, ready to send the message. “There it is.” He sent the message, Juan and his buddies pulling into the roadway, the front van screeching to a stop, hitting the first semi. Then all hell broke loose, the guns along the street firing, bullets cutting through the vans like a hot knife through butter, most of the van drivers not even able to get out before they were cut town.
“Shoot the tires on the last one there,” Sax said, hitting the furthest one they could see with M60 fire, the van sinking on blown tires as the side door slid open, Kevin firing inside, only a couple of Peacekeepers getting out alive.
The Teamsters were out of their hiding spots now, running back towards Sax and Kevin’s position, killing the panicked survivors, who didn’t even shoot back.
“Let’s get them!” shouted somebody as they ran past the kill zone, further west on Riviera, some of the enemy returning fire now, others trying to flee to the left or right. Then there was gunfire to the southwest, ramping up quickly, along with explosions.
“The back door must be shut!” Kevin shouted, laughing as he and Sax joined the others, assaulting the stopped vans, finally having to fire behind cover as the rear part of the enemy line made an attempt to re-group and fight back.
Sax got down behind a short brick wall between Highway 94 and Riviera, checking his phone. “We’ll have to root out the enemy fighters at the end of the line. A bunch of them escaped to either side of Lemon Grove Avenue, north of Broadway. I see a bunch on Lester and North Avenues.”
“What about the other locals?” Kevin asked.
“They’re engaging now. Don’t worry, we’re winning big time.”
“Why were they even coming this way?” Kevin asked.
“They were going back to base. Either scared away, or something’s going on there.”
“We didn’t attack there, did we?” Kevin asked.
“Not that I know of,” Sax said. “C’mon, let’s go help with the mop-up.” Kevin nodded, and the two men picked up their M60s and ran west on Riviera.
“Hey, man, that battle along Riviera was a rout,” Seth said, watching the satellite feed with Kaitlyn in the intel center.
“We won, didn’t we?” Morgan asked from her monitor.
“Oh, yeah,” Seth said. “Creamed their asses big-time.”
“This not over yet,’ Jules said. “Figure out why enemy go in that direction yet? They were going away from action.”
“Nope,” Robbie said. “I suspect they’ve got a view of what’s going on somehow. Probably recalling those they think they can save.”
“They think they have enough in place to pull off the National City attack,” Ivan said. “I think their leadership was trying to peel off some of the resistance with excess forces.”
“Wonder if they knew it was suicide run?” Jules asked.
“Who knows,” Ivan said. “What’s going on in the country club?”
“Hunkered down,” Robbie said. “Haven’t seen any movement since we wasted those two shopping centers across the street.”
“They want us to go in, no?” Jules quipped. “We not take bait.”
Shelly walked in with Sarah and Clem. “How’s it going?”
“So far, so good,” Jules said. “How nursery?”
“The only one that’s having a hard time is Mia,” Sarah said. “Glad Anna is down here.”
“She lose parents before,” Jules said. “Affect her during whole life.”
Shelly nodded at Jules, teary-eyed. “Anything on Sam’s team?”
“Still on road,” Jules said. “Long drive to Dana Point.”
“Something’s going on at the base in El Cajon,” Morgan said.
“Uh oh,” Robbie said, wheeling his chair over to her station. “What?”
“Look, lots of Peacekeepers, massing outside, in that patio area, between these three buildings.”
Jules and Ivan rushed over and watched over their shoulders.
“That lot of men,” Jules said. “Not enough vehicles left for them.”
“We don’t know that,” Ivan said. “Look at the size of some of these buildings. They might have another few hundred vans indoors.”
“We should just call in air force and carpet-bomb site,” Jules said.
Ivan nodded. “May come to that.”
“Look,” Morgan said. “Vans. Coming out of that big building there, and more Peacekeepers too.”
Jules watched, scratching his beard. “Not getting into vans. Most walking towards boundary of base.”
Ivan’s eyes got wide. “They’re gonna mess with the locals, to get the team in Lemon Grove off the trail of their National City squad.”
Doug and Jorge were sitting next to their BFV. The enemy was slowly retreating now, the smaller L-ATVs picking away at them in the distance. The ground between the BFV and the enemy fighters was black from the fires, which were mostly out. Gonzalez was chatting with Sessions and his men, who were also taking a breather from the battle.
“What now?” Jorge asked.
“Hopefully they pull us back home.”
Gonzalez walked over. “Command wants us to stay put. Sessions just told me that. There are two large forces coming this way, but they’re not close.”
“What’s not close?” Doug asked.
“The first group is about a day’s walk from here. The second group is another day, but they’re moving faster. Too fast for them all to be on foot.”
Jorge pulled his phone and looked at the apps. “I don’t see any hits past the fleeing Islamists down there.”
“Yeah, they aren’t Islamists, apparently,” Sessions said, walking up. “My CO thinks they might be more Venezuelans and Cubans, sent here from the campaign in South America.”
“Dammit, this isn’t over yet, then, is it?” Jorge asked. “Might not be over for months.”
“I wouldn’t look at it that way,” Gonzalez said. “The last thing the enemy wanted to do was to pull troops from South America to the US border.”
“Yeah, I’d have to agree,” Doug said. “They’re having to bring in reserves that they really can’t afford to move here. They’re on their way to losing this war. It won’t be months. It might be weeks. Maybe days.”
Sessions laughed. “This is war. You know how fast things can turn. You saw it yourself.”
“Heard that there was some heavy action up north, to the east of San Diego,” Sessions said. “Civilians against UN Peacekeepers.”
“There still that many Peacekeepers here?” Doug asked.
“They fielded a couple thousand, from what I’ heard, and there’s more around. We’ve got them outnumbered, though.”
“Outnumbered with who?” Jorge asked.
“Citizens and police from all over the area,” Sessions said. “Apparently a few thousand Teamsters got involved, and a bunch of ex-special forces guys, along with most of the battle wagons from Dulzura.”
“They can use the battle wagons in that but not the border?” Jorge asked.
“Yeah, they made the right decision there,” Sessions said. “It’s not over yet up there, though. They’re winning the early part of the battle, but the CO said there’s a bloodbath coming.”
“So they’re holding us in reserve, for when the groups coming from the south get here?” Doug asked.
“That’s what it sounds like at the moment,” Sessions said.
“Look, the L-ATVs are pulling over and stopping,” Gonzalez said, looking over the ridge. “Wonder what’s up? We can’t be letting the enemy go.”
Sessions looked alarmed, getting up to check it out. “Probably just a break to reload and check out their vehicles.”
“Yeah, probably,” Gonzalez said.
Doug’s phone rang. He looked at it. “Conrad! I’ll put it on speaker.”
“Conrad, you survived!” Doug said.
“Yep, you guys too. Excellent.”
“That was a hell of a battle,” Jorge said.
“I’ll say,” Conrad said. “Lots of fun too. Almost makes me want to re-enlist.”
There was laughter in the background.
“Who’s that?” Doug asked.
“My fellow L-ATV jockeys,” he said. “Hey, guys, I said almost.”
“Yeah, sure boss,” another voice said in the background.
Jorge laughed, Gonzalez and Sessions rolling their eyes.
“So you guys didn’t lose any on your crew?” Conrad asked.
“Nope,” Doug said. “There were a few scary moments, and we saw more than one BFV destroyed during the worst part of the battle.”
“I was glad the M-1s showed up when they did,” Conrad said.
“Why are you guys stopping?” Gonzalez asked.
“The CO said there were fresh enemy troops coming in from South America. They want us to rest and regroup. The remaining Islamists are a mess. Most of them haven’t slept for days. They’d rather have us rest up and save our ammo for the new group.”
“Not sure that’s so smart,” Sessions said.
“Who’s that?” Conrad asked.
“Sessions,” Gonzales said. “Marine. His squad is our payload.”
Jorge laughed. “Yeah, we’re just a well-armed taxi service.”
“Bullshit,” Conrad said. “I saw what you guys were doing. We’d have lost a lot of L-ATVs if not for the BFVs.”
“He’s got that right,” Sessions said. “My hat’s off to you guys, and that’s the truth.”
“Well, let’s not forget what you guys did with the mortars,” Doug said, smiling at him. “We’re a team. A damn fine one, too.”
“Yep,” Gonzalez said.
“Well, I gotta go,” Conrad said. “Stay sharp, guys. See you when this is over.”
“Yeah, you too, dude,” Jorge said.
“Take care,” Doug said. He ended the call. “Glad he made it.”
“L-ATVs are a little less risky to be in than our unit,” Gonzalez said.
Sam’s team was on I-5, going north.
“There’s San Clemente,” Erica said. “Long drive, huh? At least we’re finally getting close.”
Sam nodded. “This can’t be the only way they were getting Peacekeepers in here.”
“Depends on how long they’ve been doing it, and a lot of them could’ve fled south from the Bay Area and Sacramento, too. We can’t see them, unfortunately.”
“Yep, that’s the big problem. What off-ramp am I taking?”
“Exit 79. PCH. It’s not too far, so better be moving towards the right lane.”
Sam nodded, making the lane changes, Sid doing the same behind them. They cruised along for a few minutes, both in their own heads.
“Wonder how Mia’s doing?” Erica asked.
“Safe in the mine, and probably worried sick about us. I’ll be so glad when this damn war is over and we can focus on being parents.”
“You and me both,” Erica said. Her phone dinged.
“Our team mates?”
Erica nodded. “Asking how close we are. I’ll tell them fifteen to twenty minutes.”
“Probably about right, unless we run into traffic. Little dreary for a beach day, though.”
“Message sent,” Erica said.
“It’s on Doheny Beach, right?”
Erica’s phone dinged as she was about to answer. She checked it. “They’re sitting in the Doheny Beach parking lot right now, trying to look inconspicuous.”
Sam looked at her and they both cracked up.
“Those guys are anything but inconspicuous. It’s the only thing that bothers me about them. Well, that, and all the murders they’ve committed.”
“Are they really that bad?” Erica asked.
Sam shrugged. “I only know what I’ve heard from Jules and Tex.”
“Ivan isn’t nearly as scary as I expected.”
“Don’t let the charm fool you. He knows how to mix it up, and he has a pretty crazy reputation. So does Jules, by the way, but he got out years ago.”
“There’s your off-ramp.”
Sam took it. “Faster than I expected.”
“I came here on vacation a time or two,” Erica said. “Seems like a different life altogether now.”
“Tell me about it. Before this started I was trying to figure out how to afford maintenance on my RV Park. Thought I’d grow old there with… sorry.”
“Sorry that you had a nice wife before you met me?” Erica asked. “Please. You loved Connie. I know that, and I’m sorry she died.”
“Life does have it’s twists and turns.”
Erica watched him silently for a moment. He noticed, glancing over at her as they waited at a red light.
“You and I are better suited to each other,” Sam said gently. “Makes me a little guilty to say that, but it’s true. Connie and I knew each other from our teens. We held things together and loved each other, but we’d drifted apart a little bit.”
“We might drift apart some too, you know,” Erica said, “and that’s not always a bad thing, as long as we handle it well. Humans are growing and learning through their entire lives.”
“You’re wise beyond your years.” Sam drove forward on PCH after the light changed. “Where am I turning?”
“Go left at Dana Point Harbor Drive, then another left on Park Lantern. Go to the second big parking lot and get as close to the sand as you can. The Boneyard is right on the edge of the lot.”
Sam made the turns, parking in the lot within a few minutes. Sid pulled in next to him. They all got out.
“Look, there’s the mobster-mobile.” Sam nodded towards the big Lincoln sitting in a handicapped spot.
“Those guys have a placard?” Erica asked, shaking her head.
Sam and Sid snickered.
“They’re probably in the bar,” Sam said.
Sid nodded. “Hope so. I could use a drink myself.”
“My first stop will be the rest room,” Sam quipped. “Been holding it for a while.”
Yvonne rolled her eyes. “TMI.”
Erica giggled as Sam shrugged.
The two couples headed for the Boneyard.
Sax and Kevin were fighting their way down Grove Street, the enemy fire intensifying as they neared a nest of Peacekeepers holed up at a junk yard and trailer park on North Avenue.
“Hey, guys,” Jesse shouted, seeing them from across the street. He turned towards an enemy nest about fifty yards away and fired his M240, several Peacekeepers hit through a window, fire erupting from the building next to it. Both Sax and Kevin fired their M60s at the building, wasting the unsuspecting Peacekeeper there, who was only focused on Jesse.
“Nice shooting,” Jesse shouted, watching as Sax and Kevin ran over to him in a crouch.
“What’s that gun like?” Kevin asked, eyeing the M240. “About like this?”
“They’re both good,” Jesse said. “The M60 is a little lighter, has a slower rate of fire, and is a little less reliable. The 240 is heavier, but you can drop these things out a window and they’ll still work.”
More gunfire came at them, hitting the wall they were behind. Jesse turned, spraying lead at the junk yard where the fire was coming from.
“Hey, man, I see him,” Kevin whispered. “He’s firing through that junk car hulk over there. I think I can hit him.”
“Go for it,” Jesse said.
Kevin smiled and aimed his M60, pulling the trigger, catching the Peacekeeper in the neck. Several other guns fired right after that, Jesse and Sax both joining in, along with several of Jesse’s squad from across North Avenue. Then somebody fired a grenade from further down North Avenue, blowing up in the midst of the enemy fighters at the junk yard, causing some secondary explosions.”
“Shit, they were probably setting up a mortar,” Sax said.
“Maybe,” Jesse said. “This is a diversion. They don’t’ want us going down to the country club on the other side of Highway 54. That’s where most of the Peacekeepers are holed up now.”
“That’s too far to walk,” Kevin said.
“That’s why God invented trucks,” Jesse quipped. His phone rang. He set down his weapon, got lower behind the block wall, and answered it, his brow furrowing.
“Oh, crap, what now?” Sax asked.
“Thanks,” Jesse said into the phone. He slipped it back into his pocket and picked up his weapon.
“You gonna tell us?” Sax asked.
“Nothing we can do at the moment,” Jesse said.
“Tell me anyway,” Sax said.
“A bunch of Peacekeepers just broke out of their base, and are terrorizing the locals.”
“Where?” Sax asked.
To be continued…
Stolen Youth is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited! It’s the next book from the Franklin & Davis Files! Not for the squeamish. Filled with raw action, suspense, and the underside of humanity.
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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 2018