Buckey bullshitted the convoy’s way into the prison complex. It took no more than a box of warm donuts and the assurance that “Yes, we really are the relief convoy from Cali Corrections Headquarters.”
The hundred or so vehicles of war deployed seventy yards from the prison’s administrative block. Contrary to Cali doctrine, the motors were left running. The ZPU-4 anti-aircraft machine guns were moved to high-ready. Some were oriented, but not pointing at the guard towers around the perimeter. One-in-threee were aimed over the roof of the administration building. A few were oriented in the vague direction of the guard’s quarters.
Chad and Dee Evans, the last minute addition to the convoy, dismounted their vehicle and walked toward the main doors. Dee was wearing the standard uniform of a mid-level flunky in the legal system, a cotton, knit “bag dress” and a navy blue blazer.
Chad was notable for wearing a baggy uniform that had seen a hundred washings. The body armor beneath that uniform made Chad seem obese. Chad was carrying his personal weapon, seven magazines and was wired for sound. Every Sedelia soldier would be treated to the coming interview in real-time as would Kenny and the folks back home.
Inside the buildings the unexpected arrival of the convoy created a stir.
The warden was in her war-room with the heads of Facilities, Materials and Guards. Two walls of the war-room was comprised of banks of flat-screen monitors
The woman was of medium height and every thread, every hair was in its designated place. They obviously feared to be elsewhere if her baleful stare was any indication.
Her hair consisted of short ringlets as precisely and as rigidly positioned as any of Michangelo’s statues while her eyes were a topaz that seem lit from within. In the language of a by-gone day, the warden would have been identified as a high-yellow, octoroon. In present day Cali, the woman, Hydy Amarilla, was as white as one could be without losing EEO status.
Her demeanor was not friendly.
Dee Evans announced, “We are here to transport your prisoners to a more secure location with better logistical support.” as she handed Hydy a sheaf of papers written in dense, legal boiler-plate.
“Who are you?” Hydy challenged. The interlopers had entered without the usual protocol of ‘cooling off’ in the anteroom until Amarilla was damned good-and-ready to see them.
“We are a detachment of the Judicial and Military establishment tasked with transporting your prisoners to a more secure location.” Dee repeated. She was channeling her most imperious Judge Aquilina.
“If you want to waste your time you can check my credentials against the ‘sign-for’ list.” Dee said in a dismissive way. Dee Evans was still a member in good standing of the Cali Judicial Social Workers, albeit at a fairly low level. And she had the authority to sign out prisoners on her own authority. Cali still continued to claim Sedelia and carried all former employees as a hedge should they ever de facto reclaim Sedelia.
“It damned late in the day.” the Head of the Guards carped. “And where the hell are your buses?” he continued.
“The buses are about four hours out.” Dee said. “They will arrive in blocks of ten on half hour intervals. That means the guards need to have five hundred prisoners staged at a time, fifty in a line with the lines 20 meters apart.”
“It should only take us four hours to clear the facility.” Dee concluded.
Hydy fixed Dee with a piercing look. “You aren’t from Cali. Are you.” It was a statement of fact, not a question.
Dee did not answer.
Hydy said, “We don’t have four thousand prisoners. We used to. But now we have over fifteen thousand inmates. But you wouldn’t know that because you are not really from Cali.”
Chad stopped being a wall-flower.
“We are from Sedelia.” he announced.
“At this point you have one of three choices.” Chad continued.
“You can resist us and we will blow the fuck out of this building and everything that moves.” Chad said.
“Or you can sign the transfer documents and help us load the buses. You will live and you won’t have to explain why you felt compelled to execute fifteen thousand humans.”
Chad stopped talking at that point.
The Head of Guards asked, “What is the third option?”
“You become heroes by coordinating the extradition of all Cali prisoners through this facility. You call your peers at the other prisons within 200 miles of here and we stage their prisoners through here before we trans-ship them to Sedelia. Think of it as a penal Ellis Island.” Chad said.
“How do we know you won’t release them inside of Cali?” Hydy said.
“That is exactly what we are going to do once we are back across the frontier and into Sedelia.” Chad said. “Why would we come all this way to pick them up just to give them back to you? And I really doubt they will fight their way back here just so you can shoot them in the back of the head.”
“Regards, once Mz Evans signs for them they are no longer your legal responsibility.” Chad said."What happens next is 'on us'."
The Head of the Guards was clearly enraged. “And what if we fight? What if we grab you as hostages and fight?” he asked."How do we know you aren't bluffing?"
“Are any of those buildings out there unoccupied?” Chad asked, pointing at the bank of screens.
The Facilities Manager said “That one.” laying a carat on a lone equipment shed next to a stadium a klick away from the admin building.
Chad had issued the command “Rules-of-engagement activate. Mounted weapons loaded and hot, fire on command” before exiting the truck he was riding.
He said to nobody in the room “Target confirmed?”
The response came back via his earbud.
“Kill it.” he commanded.
The six ZPU-4s most advantageously placed to kill the equipment shed spun and dropped azimuth. The unwieldy hand cranks had been replaced with DC robot motors with integral encoders. The muzzles of the quad machine guns were a blur.
A four-round burst was released and tracked down-range by mm-band RADAR as accelerometers documented the dynamics of the carriage deflection. Then, a fraction of a second later the six units launched a full, second-long burst of 240 steel cored bullets, each the weight of a full can of beer. The projectiles hit the masonry walls at 2300 feet per second. It took the slight breeze ten seconds to clear the dust. The roof of the shed was slumped down to ground level.
“Your call.” Chad said as he thumb-swiped the safety of his weapon into “FIRE” position and turned so the muzzle of the sling mounted weapon was aimed at the knees of the prison officials. “Your call.” He repeated.