In retrospect that might be why DeTroy Williams never started for USC. Holding back that tiny reserve is what separated him from the best. On the other hand, he was able to walk around at the age of forty without a cane and had never suffered a concussion.
Old habits, especially ones that helped us avoid pain, become hardwired in. DeTroy mashed the accelerator to the floorboard.
Intellectually he knew it would not make a difference but this is a case where intellect cannot keep pace with emotion and conditioning.
The bus started to accelerate!
DeTroy thought it was a momentary glitch, although he did not lift his foot from the accelerator.
It was not momentary. The bus continued to accelerate until it reached 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph), the maximum speed allowed by the archaic, mechanical governor that had been installed fifteen years before and never been removed.
As DeTroy started to pull away, the other buses accelerated to keep up. Their instructions were to “form up” on him until directed to do otherwise. That was not going to happen as the communications gear and the “controls” gear had been fried by the EMP shells.
The Godzillas also tried to accelerated. The first thing the crews had done was to remove the mechanical governors that limited their speed to 55 kph. The motors redlined at 80 kph and the buses slowly pulled ahead of them. What the Godzilla crews were unaware of was that running at 80 kph was stretching their tracks. The tracks stayed in place due to centripetal acceleration as long as they remained above 30 kph and traveled in a straight line but would never be able to start again after they came to a stop.
Cruise missiles streamed south from Los Banos. The missiles had a load-out of cluster munitions and were tasked with suppressing, or destroying, SD—LA artillery sites arrayed along I-5. The mortar crews manned by Izzo and Lane were a last minute addition to the SD-LA defense and, as such, were ignored by the targeting algorithm.
The cruise missiles streaked above I-5 at 650 klicks per hour. They fanned out from I-5 at designated points and dropped their munitions in a manner designed to maximize their chances of bouncing into the hardened structures sheltering the artillery. To a large extent, they were successful. The only thing that prevented massive casualties was the fact that most of the personnel were still in their sleeping bags. The few defenders who were in the hardened shelters were doomed as the cluster munitions detonated the ammo that had been staged for the defense of I-5.
Wave-after-wave of newly purchased Cali cruise missiles were launched from Los Banos, a scant 30 minutes from the San Gabriel Mountains. Artillery sites that were not destroyed outright were taken out of play as the soldiers were pinned down.
DeTroy Williams and the convoy that stretched out behind him flew south down I-5 in an eerie calm.
The town of Lebec flew by five minutes after losing radio contact. Then Gorman ten minutes later. Then the 138 interchange and then twenty-five harrowing minutes to Castiac as the convoy penetrated some of the most defensible terrain on the planet. The cruise missiles were relentless in their suppression. The defenders were unable to launch a single artillery round or place a single barrier on I-5. The vanguard of the invaders rolled through at 100 klicks per hour, unchallenged.
The choke point south of Santa Clarita was monkey hammered by the cruise missiles as were the hills bracketing Glendale. There is no magic in identifying a good position to site artillery or mortars. The targeting algorithms hammered all “good” positions without prejudice or bias.
DeTroy kept the pedal to the metal. His destination was the Cali Federal complex east of the Southern Cal campus. The old industrial buildings had been condemned and torn down a year after Cal-exit. The Cali government then erected a “campus” loosely modeled on classical hacienda architecture with courtyards and ample breezeways that aligned with the prevailing breezes. The breezeways doubled as access roads and were covered to provide shade and to provide surfaces for mounting solar collectors.
DeTroy hooked around the east end of downtown LA and then turned west on I-10, then south on I-110.
In the absence of orders to peel off from the main convoy and proceed to their targets, the entire convoy followed DeTroy like ducklings following Mama Duck.
By then the buses were all ahead of the Godzillas. DeTroy and his baby ducklings darted into the streets that serviced the Cali campus and shut down. No sooner had the lead elements parked than garbage trucks blocked the front of the convoys in.
Predictably, the Godzillas started throwing their tracks as they slowed down and attempted to negotiate the freeway exit ramp that led to the Federal complex. Some spun out. Most of them rolled. The Godzillas had been the vehicle of choice for the officers. They regretted that choice as the casually racked, 50 pound artillery shells broke loose and pureed the passengers in the vehicle. None of the Godzillas made it to the Cali complex.