Monday, November 4, 2019
The Shrewd King 16.1: It starts
Dalton considered Greg to be a total fuck-wit and told him so every chance he got.
Greg, for his part, considered Dalton to be anal.
Dalton left the safe-house near the corner of Miller Road and M-99 shortly after dark. The sky was partly cloudy and the moon was expected to rise about 2:00 AM.
At a normal pace, Dalton could have covered the 3.5 miles to the M-99 bridge in about an hour, but Dalton was not walking at a normal pace.
After his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he walked about half the speed he would normally walk, taking care to not step on gravel or make any noise in his passing. It was just good practice.
Where M-99 changed to divided highway, Dalton switched over to the northbound lanes. Scouting reports indicated that the northbound bridge had cursory roadblocks and minimal coverage from the observation post. It was a rookie mistake, to assume that invading forces would obey traffic rules.
The reports also indicated that the fighters were sleeping in the house just west of the bridge. Dalton waited until 1:15 AM before making his move.
Dalton had no reason to doubt the reports. He secured two of the three exit doors with dog chains. Then he sloshed a quart of kerosene into what looked like the living room. He tossed in a lighted match and then left the house.
He posted up thirty yards from the door that he left unlocked and put on his tactical glasses. He did not want to waste his night-vision.
He was a little surprised. All of the reports indicated five fighters manning the observation posts and seven people came boiling out of the door. His silenced .22 took care of them. Looking closer, he saw two of the dead bodies were scantily clothed girls.
Greg cursed the traffic on Waverly Road.
Just to twist Dalton’s nose, Greg waited until 12:30 before for the Waverly Road bridge.
Greg almost ran into the first night patrol, head on. He barely had time to scoot behind a shelter somebody had built for their school kids. There was enough light for Greg to see that the patrolman was carrying an assault rifle. There had been no information about night patrols from the scouts.
That forced Greg to slow down. He ran into one more patrol (actually a married man visiting his mistress) and decided to leave the road and travel cross-country.
Tactically, that was a horrible mistake. The brush clawed at him and the mud sucked at his boots. He was also unaware that he was tripping off seismic sensors as he tried to hurry across the flood plains.
A mile west of Greg, Dalton was leisurely cutting the logging chains that secured the barricade to the guardrails of the bridge. The first vehicles that were scheduled to come through had a fork-truck mast grafted to the frame and would make short work of the logs once they were loose.
Seeing that he was twenty minutes ahead of schedule, he moved over to the west span, the one that carried southbound traffic and cut the logging chains on that one, too.
Then, Dalton dropped back to the pre-arranged pick-up point and called in.
“Big D to homebase. Big D to homebase” Dalton called.
“Go for homebase.” the young woman manning the radio at the safe house called into his earbud.
“Tasks accomplished. Repeat, assigned tasks are accomplished” Dalton said.
“Any word from Little G?” Dalton asked out of curiosity.
“Negative.” the young woman informed him.
It was getting pretty close to kick-off, so the young woman decided she ought to get an update.
Switching channels, “Homebase to Little G. Homebase to Little G. Please update.”
Greg, frustrated, turned his radio off.
Tim was sleeping in his recliner when the alarm started “Ponging”.
He cracked his eyes open so he could look at the bingo-board Dmitri and Sam had installed over the radio station. It was lighting up like a Christmas tree.
Each bridge span had a counter that listed the number of tickles in the last twenty-four hours. The easternmost bridge on I-96 showed ten hits...and then it registered the eleventh. The second-most eastern bridge also started picking up hits.
Tim rubbed his eyes as he picked up his microphone. He set the channel to “Observation Posts” and played the wake-up warble.
Donnie on Waverly Road replied almost immediately. “Whats up?”
Tim transmitted to All Observation Posts “Incoming. Possible Pearl Harbor play. Incoming. Possible Pearl Harbor play. May I have a count?”
Tim only got seven of the eleven Observation Post to respond “Incoming. Pearl Harbor. Roger message.”
Three of the four non-responders were not a surprise. The two observation posts manned by civilians in the northwest corner of Capiche and the observation post manned by Blastic. The fact that M-99 did not respond was troubling.
Both Chernovsky and Gimp had picked up but were being silent. They were hoping it was a false alarm and everybody could go back to sleep.
After the round robin report-in, Tim updated the crew. “Sensors show more than twenty-five incoming vehicles traveling from east-to-west on I-96. Estimated speed of the convoy is thirty miles per hour.” The first sensor was still incrementing so Tim did not have a solid number for the size of the convoy.
“Anybody have any action in their sector?” Chernovsky asked.
“We have something on the other side of the river tripping sensors. It is moving toward the bridge.” Donnie said. “We were watching it when Tim’s call came in.”
Chernovsky didn’t need to think about that. “Kill it.”
Donnie gave Manuel a pat on the back. “This one is yours. Kill it.”
Manuel slunk down to the bridge and got there the same time Greg did. Unlike Greg, Manuel knew how to move silently in the dark.
Manuel’s hesitancy dissolved the second he saw the bolt cutters in the moon-light. Manuel shot him in the mouth.
Calling back to Donnie in a stage whisper, he said “The gomer has bolt cutters.”
Donnie instantly relayed that back to Tim. “Gomer down. He had bolt cutters.”
Chernovsky said “Light up the sirens.”