Brett looked Chernovsky in the eye and said “You know we agreed to protect Amish-land. We also agreed that we would never be put in a position where we had to fire on Livingston County forces.”
Chernovsky rolled his eyes. He had not gotten much sleep lately and his control was slipping.
“I ain’t asking you to shoot them. I am asking you to negotiate a cease-fire so we can deliver aid.” Chernovsky said.
Brett seemed to think for a few seconds and said, “You know, we could avoid a lot of misunderstanding if the the three of us delivered the aid from captured Livingston County trucks.”
“You do have some captured trucks, right?” Brett belatedly asked.
“Yeah, we got trucks. They have some bullet holes in them and blood on the seats but they run.” Chernovsky said.
“But three of you aren’t gonna be enough people. Somebody’s gotta drive. Somebody has to move soldiers...heck, call them refugees now, and somebody has to do the physical hefting and hoisting.” Chernovsky said.
“I think I need to beef up you guys with some of my fighters.” Chernovsky said.
Brett shook his head. “That is provocative. Are there any older men or maybe women who can support us? Guys don’t see women as threats.”
“I don’t want to put civilians at risk.” Chernovsky said.
“Ask for volunteers.” Brett countered. “It might be the only way to settle the ‘refugees’ and keep this from turning into a shit-storm.”
In the end, Chernovsky did not have much of a choice. Brett and his two wingmen were Chernovsky’s best chance of keeping the 1500 abandoned Livingston County fighters from going off the reservation.
Single women jumped at the chance to help. Their main motive was compassion but there were other reasons as well. Single men were in short supply and they wanted to get first look at the new guys.
They started with three trucks. The Livingston County fire-teams quickly offered their supply truck and the number quickly ballooned to six, then nine.
The LC teams radioed ahead to tell the other teams what to expect.
The trucks split up. They approached the fire-team. The men lined up with their canteens. The first pass through the truck filled the canteens and dropped of two, five-gallon buckets filled with potable water.
The trucks refilled the buckets with sumac flavored, electrolyte on the second pass.
On the third pass, they handed out what spare blankets could be found and picked up the filthy clothing and blankets for washing.
By the fourth pass, the Capiche fighters were freely mixing with the Livingston County refugees and starting cooking fires. The refugees weren’t going to be eating high on the hog but they would have cornmeal mush flavored with salt and bacon grease and as much clean, potable water as they could drink.
The command component of the Livingston County force continued clockwise around the interstate that ringed the Lansing, Michigan metropolitan area. They laagered ten miles northeast of their original position. It was where I-127 turned north, I-69 went to Flint. The other choice was to turn south and rejoin I-96 back to Howell.
Desertion in the face of the enemy is a capital offense. There are no extenuating circumstances other than a direct order from higher authority that makes it OK for leadership to desert their troops.
Going back to Howell was a non-starter. Flint and Livingston County were allies so Flint was not an option.
That left south toward Jackson which was run by the Hard Timers gang or north toward the big Indian reservation and the only operating oil-fields in Michigan.
The leadership convoy chose north.
Torvaldsen’s frustration knew no limits. He called IT support. They were unable to explain the sudden loss of communication with Richards and then from the rest of the command.
Ordinarily, it would have taken days for news of the loss of communication with the offensive force’s command to percolate through the defensive forces guarding Livingston County. These were not ordinary times.
‘Strider’s unit was apprised of the rumor a half-hour after the IT guys were kicked out of Torvaldsen’s office.
Quinn ‘Corn Dog’ learned of it about five minutes after he woke up prior to his 6:00PM-to-8:00AM shift. Nearly six hours had elapsed after comms were lost with the group and there was still no contact.
The tiny amounts of ammo that had not been shipped west to support Richards was redistributed.
The assumption was that Richards’ force had been crushed and Livingston County was next. Quinn’s detail of ten men were issued a total of a fifty rounds of ammunition that were head-stamped IMG 93. The cases were covered in green corrosion and Quinn had no faith that it would fire or cycle their weapons.
Quinn didn’t know it, but his men had been issued the best ammo available. The expectation was that the forces that neutralized Richards might be on their way east toward Livingston County and Quinn’s warehouse was the first significant target they would encounter.