By 3:30 AM the core group was in conference call.
Dilip outlined Who, What, How, Where, When and Why.
The most pressing issue was When.
Time lapse images suggested that the trenches would be finished by noon the next day. That gave Sedelia approximately 30 hours to organize and launch an expedition and secure the 640 acre prison site.
In the best of times that would be a 10 hour drive. These were anything but the best of times in Cali.
Kenny authorized that Armored Personnel Carriers and Godzillas be loaded on low-boy trailers and started toward the Sedelia-Cali frontier. Distance is time and closing that distance created more options.
Then Kenny started pinning Pitoitua’s ears back. “What do you mean, you don’t know how to plan an offensive?”
Pitoitua had been awakened from a sound sleep. He had been one of the heroes during the final Sedelia defense during the Cali invasion. That is how twenty Godzillas, 122mm self-propelled Soviet howitzers, several hundred APC and a thousand motor coaches (i.e. buses) had fallen into Sedelia’s hands. He was not having a good morning.
“What I am trying to say is that losses might be horrendous. We have no solid intelligence. I am not sure we should risk our assets for an unknown number of prisoners.” Pitoitua backpedaled.
Kenny Lane could be profane. He could be loud. He was nearly always abrasive. But he was scariest when he was polite.
“Well, let’s just work this out.” Kenny said.
“What are APCs and artillery for?” Kenny asked.
“Um, fighting battles.” Pitoitua said, twisting a little bit in his discomfort.
“What are they doing now?” Kenny asked.
“Sitting.” Pitoitua said.
“Wrong answer. You are supposed to say 'Half of them are loaded on trailers and the rest will be strapped down and moving in half an hour.' ” Kenny said."Both you and I were on the wrong end of things in the last war when Logistics decided that it was too much trouble to deliver Haseb 107mm rockets to us. 'Too much trouble' doesn't cut it.
“Step into the other room, use your phone and then we will continue this conversation.” Kenny Lane finished, dismissing him with a wave of his hand.
Speaking to Dilip, “What is your estimate of the number of prisoners who we might be rescuing?” Kenny asked.
“Judging from the rated capacity of the facility and recent images from the outside exercise areas, we are looking at three or four thousand people.” Dilip said.
“Shit!” Kenny said. “That is about one-hundred buses.”
“Dilip, I want you to go off-line and whistle up the SD-LA public transportation department. Tell them I just called a public holiday. No work. Let’s plan on twice that number of buses because I don’t know how many will be able to make it that far.” Kenny said.
Pitoitua came back on-line. “The trucks will be on the road in twenty minutes. They have been practicing this because we were about to have exercises along the Mexican border.”
“What did you learn?” Kenny asked.
“Not to push back.” Pitoitua said.
“No, when you were defending LA, what did you learn. What gave you nightmares? For that matter, what still gives you nightmares?” Kenny asked. “The shoe is on the other foot. We had some expensive lessons. We cannot afford to fail to learn from them.”
Pitoitua thought for a few seconds. “I have nightmares about cruise missiles. I have nightmares about assaults that move way faster than anybody thought they could move. I have nightmares about assaulting fixed positions when the defenders have drone coverage.”
“Not sure I can help you with the cruise missiles. I ain’t gonna tell you how to run this invasion, but have you given any thought as to how you might be able to truck the armed vehicles all the way to the target prison on trailers?” Kenny asked.
“Those trucks can go 70 miles an hour which is way faster than the Godzillas can go, even in a sprint. Plus, those trailers ride pretty smooth. Might be able to shoot off of them.” Kenny suggested.
Pitoitua excused himself so he could consult with the trailers which were about to leave the marshalling yard. He was going to hold up the launch by ten minutes and have the howitzer barrels “unparked” from the shipping position. They might lose some accuracy shooting from the trailers but, by God, they looked as dangerous as hell.
Chad piped up. “We will need to find crews and hook up with the caravan before it crosses the frontier.”
“Yeah. I get that.” Kenny said. “That is where you come in. I can get helicopters and move people around. I need you to drum up volunteers. I am thinking at least two per bus plus crews to run the Godzillas and APCs.”
“That is two, maybe three hundred soldiers.” Chad said, aghast. “I can twist arms and maybe get ten or fifteen in that time-frame. But no way in hell can I get three hundred.”
“Yes there is.” Kenny said. “El Patron could get thirty-thousand out of LA alone. You have had time to heal up. There are three or four thousand young people who are going to get a bullet in the back of their head if you cannot step-up.”
“Give me a few minutes to get used to the idea.” Chad said. “What are we going to do about logistics?”
Kenny smiled an evil smile. “He is next on my list.”
Not too many fat, old, diabetic truck drivers get direct phone calls from the Prime Minister of Sedelia. Bucky Christensen was taken aback when his phone lit off just as he was sitting down for coffee at the truck-stop where he had spent the night.
“Hmm-yept. Whatchya got going on, Kenny?” Bucky rumbled into his phone. “Couldn’t it have waited until after my first cup of coffee?”
“Nope. Not this time.” Kenny said.
“I need somebody to organize a convoy of trucks to head for Fresno. Basically I need you to bring the contents of a Walmart store and a Farm-and-Fleet store and I need you there in eight hours.” Kenny said.
Bucky groaned. Not because what Kenny asked for was technically impossible but because it was going to be hard. Very, very hard.
“I need more details.” Bucky said. He reached into his 72 hour bag and pulled out his CB radio. He plugged into the AC power outlet at the counter. He had a feeling he was going to be doing a lot of talking into it over the next four hours.