Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Shrewd King 12.3: Forgotten promises

Squirrel was grousing about having to hike up to the potential staging area every day. He was looking forward to the end of the week when he and Mike would rotate to the Columbia Highway bridge and he could get away from Quinn.

“I don’t see why we don’t wait for them to come to us” Squirrel said. “We have Berfa. We have road-blocks and we have dug-in positions.”

“That will work for common infantry, if we know they are coming.” Quinn said. “But it is not going to work when we are attacked by mechanized troops or armor.”

Squirrel scoffed, “Nobody has any fuel. How can you say we are going to see troops in tanks?”

Walking over to an abandoned vehicle, Quinn said, “Walk around this car and look underneath it.”

When Squirrel was looking beneath it he said “So?”

Quinn took out his belt knife and drove it into the gas tank at the very lowest points. Gasoline came gushing out.

“How did you know that?” Squirrel asked.

Quinn said. “I was with my Uncle Bill when he ran out of gas. He had us both get out of the truck and rock it on the springs to slosh enough gas out of those pockets to get us the rest of the way back home.”

“He used to work at the GM plant and stamped out gas tanks. He said most gas tanks have a gallon of unusable fuel in them because of all the ripples in the bottom” Quinn said. “If he knows that, then lots of other people know it, too.”


“It's not throwing somebody under-the-bus if I am just asking you to check something out, is it?” Quinn asked Gimp.

“What is on your mind Spackle?” Gimp asked.

“Back in April, Squad One was over-run while they were cleaning up after breakfast. We figured out later it was because the zombies had smelled the bacon frying. Our guys had no warning and we lost two men.” Quinn said.

Gimp nodded. He hadn’t been a part of Chernovsky’s fighters but people talked and he had heard about the incident.

“At the time, there was a lot of talk about electric sensors and other fancy stuff” Quinn said. “We strung lines and cans and got dogs but everybody seems to have forgotten about the electronic stuff.”

Gimp frowned. “Seems like you should bring this up with Chernovsky.”

“I did, but he said I was imagining things and I am sure he didn’t follow up on it” Quinn said.

Gimp could see how that was an awkward situation.

“Do you really need them?” Gimp asked.

“Chernovsky says we don’t. But he isn’t out here. He forgets how thin we are spread” Quinn said. “Besides, we need some way to communicate with the people near the staging areas. They are willing to keep their eyes and ears open but there probably won’t be time for them to hoof-it all the way here to tell us.”

“You aren’t giving me much to go on, Spackle. I don’t suppose you have some names to go along with the rumors?” Gimp said.

“One name I remember is ‘Dmitri’ “ Quinn said. He did not think he needed to tell Gimp that those rumors came from Dysen, not Chernovsky or anybody in his chain of command.

“No promises, but I will look into it” Gimp said. “As long as you are making out your Christmas list, is there anything else Santa promised you?”

“Electric bikes.” Quinn said. “We were supposed to get electric bikes with little tow-behind trailers.”

Gimp rolled his eyes but promised to look into that, as well.


Dmitri knew EXACTLY what Quinn was talking about. “I have a pilot set of equipment sitting on the shelf. I was wondering when somebody was going to come by and ask for them.”

“Pilot?” Gimp asked, not familiar with the term when applied to hardware and software.

“Pilot means more developed than prototype. It is ready for limited field testing. Once we have the bugs shaken out, then we will go full production.” Dmitri said.

“What is it going to take to get these out, into the field?” Gimp asked.

“I need to have the lead fighter come here for a day so I can train him in how to install them. Then I give him the suite of sensors and let him play around with them.” Dmitri said.

The electric bikes proved more elusive.

Rick Salazar clearly remembered Paul Seraph promising some electric bikes. In fact, Zane at the salvage yard had donated three solid car batteries and the same number of super-high efficiency motors from radiator/condensor cooling fans.

It took until the next day to track down Seraph and he was initially evasive. “Folks claimed them after nobody showed up.”

“That doesn’t make the bikes their property.” Gimp said.

Paul was willing to concede the point, but he pointed out, “Some of those folks paid money for those bikes.”

“Then whoever got that money ought to pay it back or find some more parts and make some more. I can see that we are going to need more than three of them, so maybe whoever made them ought to start a factory” Gimp said.

“Regardless, I need at least one of those bikes tomorrow morning and the other two by the end of the week” Gimp said.

The next day, Gimp told Quinn that he was to report to Dmitri at first light the next morning for training. The electric bike was waiting there as a surprise. Quinn was going to have a butt-load of equipment to take back to camp with him.


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