...a new king rose to power. He said to his people, “See! The people multiply and become numerous! Let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase lest they join our enemies to fight against us” Accordingly, the king's men oppressed the people with forced labor. -Adapted from Exodus 1:8-11
Derious was feeling pretty good about life as he dumped the Escalade into drive and stomped on the accelerator. The shock troops had demolished the Eaton Rapids defenses on the M-99 bridge. The operation was now a "GO" for Derious's portion of the raid.
Life could have been better. A couple of his riders were skin-head wannabes who he suspected had never been in the military. That was one of the risks of offering a month’s supply of drugs as payment for theft and a kidnapping. Derious insisted on the skin-heads riding in the middle of the back seats with a couple of his trusted, nigga, street-soldiers sitting to either side of them.
At least Mr Heavy* hadn’t assigned any spics to his team. Everybody hated skin-heads equally. They were barely tolerated by all the more "diverse" elements of Mr Heavy’s organization. On the other hand, the diverse elements hated each other passionately and rarely worked together. Mr Heavy used skin-heads the way a baker uses frosting to “fix” a cosmetically challenged cake. The frosting is used to fill the holes.
The mission was simple. Blast through the defense. Drive fifteen miles, most of the way on a divided, state highway then another six miles on back roads. Break into the target’s house. Torture him until he coughed up the drugs. Bringing back the target alive was optional. Derious hoped there was resistance. He wanted to see what the RPGs would do.
Derious, of course, was not going to be paid in drugs. Mr Heavy did not trust druggies and Derious was one of his trusted lieutenants. That didn’t mean Derious didn’t enjoy a few lines of blow on the weekend. He just didn’t talk about it or put it on Facebook. There were some things Mr Heavy didn’t need to know about.
The other thing that had Derious feeling good was that the team he was competing against got all tangled up south of Dimondale and couldn’t seem to pin-down and destroy the defense. That had him smiling. Mr Benecio believed in healthy competition. Only the winning team was going to be compensated. Derious was looking forward to a $30k payday.
Derious surprised when the first sprinkling of small-arms fire started putting craters into the windshield directly in front of him. The glancing blows were not penetrating the windshield but were marking it with craters directly in his line of sight and sugar-fine glass was spalling off the inside surface. He would have been blinded if he had not been wearing his Serengeti Mondellos.
His first thought was “What the FUCK?” Nobody shot at his ride.
His Escalade was lifted, had heavily tinted windows, super low-profile tires, custom paint job and gold-plated spinners. Everybody knew who owned this truck and no sane person allowed his dog to piddle within fifty feet of it. That would be disrespectful.
It did not occur to Derious that he was not on Lansing’s near westside anymore. The people who lived along M-99 heard the fire-fight at the bridge and had run into their homes and come back with whatever gun they had on hand. Bird shot and .22 Long Rifle rounds don’t have much ability to penetrate windshields or body metal unless the range is close and the impact is nearly perpendicular to the glass.
The story of Chernovsky disabling a half dozen trucks and Hummers by shooting at the radiators had been making the rounds. The smarter of the residents taking pot-shots at the two-vehicle caravan were aiming for the radiator opening. They could see that there were many people in the vehicles and the cooler heads thought that having the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator making it a few mile down the road before they puked and the “soldiers” dismounted was a prudent thing.
Even the shooters aiming for the greenhouse started having effect. Though aiming for the windshield, the flight time for the slow moving rounds meant that the projectiles impacted the vehicles behind the point-of-aim. The effect became most pronounced as the vehicles were passing. Rounds aimed at the windshield impacted side windows.
Not only were the side windows nearly vertical but unlike the windshield which was made of laminated glass, the side glass was made from tempered glass that shattered into a thousand pebbles.
Derious lost two soldiers within seconds of each other; one to a blast of #6 shot to the head, the other to a .22 round in his right ear.
Everybody else ducked down. Derious could barely see over the dashboard and that contributed to his over-reaction as the tires of the SUV hit the rumble-strips at the side of the road.
Then the Escalade started picking up rapid fire from a heavier weapon. The shooter was clearly practiced and just as clearly knew what he was doing.
Derious responded by hammering the throttle, quickly increasing the vehicles speed to 85 miles per hour. Subsequent over-corrections sent the Escalade fishtailing as the top-heavy vehicle revealed itself as the evil handling pig that it was. It went off the road, slewing sideways. The tires sank into the soft, rain soaked sod and sent the Escalade into a roll.
'Gimp' Sullivan watched the brush bend beneath the Escalade and spring back afterward. The vehicle rolled through a heavy draping of wild vines and the vines swished back after the vehicle passed. There was almost no trace of the big SUV’s passing, just some broken, red plastic from the tail lamps and the sparkle of glass shards.
Gimp had no intention of investigating. The SKS he had inherited from his dad was empty, the ten 7.62X39mm rounds simply pulverizing body metal and window glass where the .22s and birdshot had ineffectually bounced off. Not only was he on empty, but he did not have much mobility. He had earned his nickname 'Gimp' by virtue of blowing out an ankle when rolling out of a moving HUMMER with a full battle-rattle of 110 pounds. Cobblestones can be a bitch.
None of the passengers were wearing seat belts. Derious and the skin-head who was sitting in back were the only two survivors. They crawled deeper into the brush. He was fucking pissed. He loved his Escalade and there was no chance he was going to collect his $30k.
Derious watched the Lincoln continue up the road before turning to the west. They were fucked. Derious was the only one with the GPS coordinates. The driver of the Lincoln had a paper map but Derious knew that none of the idiots in the Lincoln knew how to read it.
Derious knew that he had a long, six mile walk to get back to the other side of the M-99 bridge and the other survivor was getting hinky. It was clear that he was suffering from withdraw symptoms.
“Dude, my stash is in the Escalade in the glove box. Can you get it? I think I busted my leg.” Derious said to the other survivor.
Derious capped him in the back of the head as soon as he stood up and turned away. Derious didn’t need any witnesses who would tell Mr Heavy that Derious had screwed the pooch on the drive in. Without witnesses, Derious could say they ran into a two squads of twenty fighters that nobody knew was there.
Derious needed to get back and tell the boss that penetrating the rural areas was not like cracking an egg. Rather, it was like hitting a hornet nest with a stick.
*Mr Heavy, a corruption of el jefe