“Well, I am going to complicate things but I know you guys are pros and will figure out a way to make this easy. We need to lay a round down every 100 yards of their column. I cannot give you the time interval until we have a good estimate of their speed of advance.” Chad said.
“Soooo, I need some of the observers to do timed miles on them before they get into the kill zone.” Chad said.
“Way ahead of you, boss. We got it handled.” Walter said.
“Thanks.” Chad said. “Make sure you communicate it to all teams and I need to know so I can pass that information up the line.”
“Teams: this is a good time to start the generators if they are not already running. Remember, the projectiles need to be placed into the cradles until the light turns from red to green. The capacitor in the round is not charged and it is not ready to fire until it goes green. Oh, and by the way, don’t touch the two exposed lugs near the rear of the round after it is charged. You will not be a happy camper if you do.” Chad radioed.
The teams radioed back by the numbers, “Team Alpha copies, start our generators now, charge projectiles before firing, don’t load before green light, don’t touch lugs
And then Chad leaned back and waited.
Beanie said, “You know, I never understood why Cali doesn’t have tanks…real tanks, not self-propelled artillery. And why doesn’t it have attack helicopters and bombers and fighter planes? They would crush us if they did.”
“Didn’t you study Bona-Brown Socialist theory in school? All conflict is due to class differences and Scientific Socialism eliminates those differences so there is not conflict. Socialism does not require police or a military because She has no enemies.” Chad said.
Beanie snarked back, “Sarcasm alert.”
Chad said, “I gave that a little bit of thought. Let me start with a question. When a government gets overthrown…a coup if you will…who does the heavy lifting?”
Beanie thought for a moment. “Usually the military, I guess.”
“And who does all of the manipulation and string-pulling?” Chad asked.
“I dunno. Maybe other politicians. Maybe the intellectuals.” Beanie said.
“Close enough.” Chad said.
"What if you put all of the ambitious political types in charge of the military and gave them a bunch of morons to lead?” Chad asked.
Beanie started to object.
Chad held up his hand to forestall her.
“Do you know anybody in the Cali military?” he asked.
“Well, sure. Everybody does.” Beanie said.
“To be brutally honest here, would you trust them with big-boy scissors or would you be more comfortable if they were only given the Kindergarten version?” Chad asked.
Beanie had to smile. “Well, seems like most of the kids I know who ended up in the military were the Kindergarten scissors crowd.”
“There is a reason that most of the soldiers, recruits they call them, never fire a round of live ammunition in training. There is a reason the recruits wear shock collars.” Chad said.
“What is that?” Beanie asked.
Chad said, “They are a danger to themselves and everybody near them.”
“What is the point of having a military that cannot fight?” Beanie asked.
“Well, it keeps the folks who might overthrow Bona-Brown occupied and it keeps the ‘less gifted’ gainfully employed.” Chad said.
“But what if Cali was invaded?” Beanie persisted.
“Who is going to invade Cali?” Chad scoffed. “The US hates Cali but they would never allow a competent, foreign power to gain a foothold on the western portion of North America. They might hate Cali but they would defend them out of strategic self interest.”
“The other thing is that tanks and aircraft are expensive to maintain. It is not just crews and pilots. It is maintenance and facilities and parts and training and all that stuff. Bona-Brown dumped a pile of money into social programs. There was not any left over to keep the hardware running.” Chad mused. “I guess we are lucky they went that way.”
“You got that straight.” Beanie said. “It feels like we are playing a game of chess and all we have are a king and a couple of knights. We would have been slaughtered if the other guys were playing with all the pieces.”
“True, that.” Chad responded.
The sound of the distant engines changed and caught their attention.
Chad switched back to all-teams.
“Pipe up when you have solid estimates of what is coming toward us.” Chad said.
After a minute of silence, Walt transmitted “I have six columns approaching. I think we have Cali advancing on both sides of I-5. That is, both north bound and south bound. Based on the spacing between the headlights it looks like they are running buses in the two outside lanes and artillery the middle lane. Estimated speed is fifty miles per hour.”
“Bullshit.” Chad said. “The self-propelled artillery has a max speed of 35 miles per hour.”