Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Shrewd King 16.2: Hot knife, butter

Tim activated another channel and awakened people across Capiche and even a few outside its boundaries. “I need the emergency sirens to go on RIGHT NOW.”

Within seconds a cacophony of whooping sirens lit off soon to be joined by the howling of almost every dog within hearing.

Dalton said, “Oh fuck.”

“Big D to homebase. Big D to homebase. We have been busted.”

“Copy that. I can hear it from here. Will pass word on.” the young woman said.

Toggling to the red-force tactical channel, the young woman transmitted “Both spans of M-99 clear. Waverly Road bridge is not. Forces defending targets are awake.” She repeated the message for good measure.

The warrior driving the command vehicle simply shrugged. Some things could not be helped. It wouldn’t make any difference to the outcome. He transmitted on his tactical channel “All assets attacking the first cluster of targets will use the M-99 entry. All assets attacking the first cluster of targets will use the M-99 entry. Assets attacking the second cluster of targets will continue as planned.”

The sirens also awakened the people who lived near I-96. Some of them, like Mr. Spagnolo, immediately turned on their radio and started listening to the chatter. It sounded like he might be getting company. He pulled his binoculars off the hook next to the calendar.

Fifteen vehicles pulled off the freeway onto M-99 and arranged themselves into four rows. The first vehicles to pull off were short, flatbed trucks with machine-guns mounted to the bed of the truck and sandbags stacked around them. Then longer flatbed trucks with stake-racks. Then school buses. The last three vehicles to pull off the freeway included a tanker truck and two school buses.

The tanker truck and its two support vehicles did not form up in any of the lines but parked by the gas station east of M-99. The the school buses parking to either side of the tanker to protect its vulnerable flanks.

Mr Spagnolo did not see the SUV in all the commotion. It headed north, into Lansing.

Another twelve vehicles, give or take a few, continued west on I-96.

Men ran from the school buses and started pulling steel plates from the bed of the stake-back truck and humping them over to the shorter trucks. The steel plates looked to be about all two men could carry. They were hung from hooks welded around the perimeter of the roof. Spagnolo guessed that the plates that sloped over the windshields must have slots cut in them.

Mr Spagnolo decided it was time to call in.


Pete ran to the Nyquist sisters who lived in the house behind his store and were his landlords.

Pete banged on the door. Then he opened it a crack and yelled. “You need to leave. Raiders are coming.”

“Sister cannot move.” Alice, the younger sister said.

Pete did not have the muscle to move her and her sister. Time was urgent.

“Then you have to come with me.” Pete said.

“I am not leaving Elizabeth.” Alice said. “We lived here all our lives and we aren’t moving now.”

Pete said “Suite yourself.”

Damned, stubborn women! Having innocent women in the background would make it doubly difficult to counter-attack the raiders if they took over Pete’s store.


Tim looked over at his thirteen-year-old daughter, Brigid. “Honey, I gotta ask you for a favor.”

“Sure daddy, anything.”

“I need to have you run over to Kate’s store and turn the two red knobs like I showed you last week.” Tim said.

“The ones in the cleaning closet?” Brigid asked.

“Yup.” Tim said. “Do you remember what to turn them to?”

“So they point at three-o-clock. Right?” Brigid parroted back.

“Yes. Then I need to have you slip out the back of the store and haul ass to your mom and Jody’s house.” Tim said. “Do not stick around and watch. I want you to take the back-way, and keep to cover.”

Brigid gnawed her lower lip. She looked just like her mother when she did that, all freckles and cinnamon colored hair. “Are you sure you are going to be OK?” she asked, worried.

“I will if you hustle and get those knobs turned.” Tim said

The knobs were switches that grounded wires coming into Kate's store from the south. Turning the knobs meant that any power applied to them would reach its intended load.


Quinn asked, “Do you want us to check in on M-99?”

Chernovsky thought for a second. “No. It might just be a radio problem. Besides, according to Tim you probably won't get there in time.

Two of the shorter, armored trucks had fork-truck masts attached to their rear bumpers. They made short work of the logs across the M-99 bridge. As Dalton anticipated, the barricade across the northbound bridge was cleared first. Dalton, from his overview position informed homebase as soon as one lane was clear. By the time the convoy arrived, all four lanes were clear.

Five armored vehicles, five stake-rack trucks and five school buses rolled into Capiche with no resistance from the defenders. They traveled at a steady thirty miles per hour.


The first sub-convoy stopped at Pete’s store. The two trucks and the school bus formed a semi-circle after pulling in the drive with the open end facing the store.

The other four sub-convoys continued south.

Two sub-convoys turned west on Columbia and the other two continued south on M-99.

One pulled into Steve’s store and formed a defensive perimeter identical to the one at Pete’s. The other sub-convoy formed up on La-Loyd's store.

The two sub-convoys that headed west on Columbia split up on Gun road with one turning toward Kate’s store and the other one traveling to the store in Pray Church.

The only one that came under fire was the one heading toward Kate’s store. It started getting pinged when it was a half mile away. Unfortunately, it is difficult to hit a moving vehicle in the best of times and these vehicles were traveling under the cover of darkness.

Wade Hawk and Mike Danek, Wade’s longtime hunting buddy, were watching the vehicles as they parked in front of Kate’s store.

“Why the hell did they bring a school bus?” Mike asked. “It can’t take that many men to strip Kate’s store.”

“Those aren’t just strong backs.” Wade replied. “That is the occupying force.”

Forty minutes had elapsed from the alarm ponging Tim awake until the last mechanized unit parked in the yard in front of Kate’s store.



  1. Should have ripped up the bridge approaches. That single act would have crippled any attack like this. Combat bridging takes time, and a few snipers can stop it.

    1. Unfortunately, there are other roads into Capiche farther west that don't cross bridges. Otherwise, you are absolutely, 100% right.

    2. Amen. If enough people survive to create and dissimenate an after action report, that would be item number one. Do whatever it takes to insure that an invasion convoy would not be able to just roll right over these bridges unimoeded like they did here. Not sure exactly how to best accomplish that, short of just bringing down the bridges, which I know they do not want to do, because that would make every day life difficult for all the residents of the community.

    3. However, you have blocked the opfor from entering here, close, and funneled them west, further away. More warning; fewer points to have to heavily guard and fewer points where you have to prepare for an attack where your defense is problematic.

      As far as destroying the approaches, cold chisels, hammers, picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and strong backs will do the job. If you're short on labor, just destroy the one on the far side until you can do both.

      On the western roads, you build real roadblocks, not Lincoln Logs. Vehicles, the bigger the better, with their tires flattened and filled with dirt. Arrange them in layers, maybe with mines in between if you can swing it. And the roadblock must be defended 24 hours/day. Undefended roadblocks are no better than speedbumps.

      Of course, reading post-apocalyptic fiction can be a fine source of low tech, alternative weaponry. Frank Spurgeon mentions one in "The Sheriff of Purgatory", the "mookla". A mookla is basically a home-made PIAT projector that fires Molotov cocktails. Range isn't the greatest, but it beats harsh language.

  2. Yep, hindsight is 20/20, and too little too late.

    1. Yes, indeed. This was a collossal lack of foresight on the part of the defenders. Before going to the trouble of constructing log and chain barriers, they should have asked themselves, "If WE were the invaders, how would we go about removing these barriers quickly and easily?". And then when they answer that question, realize and understand that most likely that is exactly what OPFOR would do. And then realize that they need to come up with something that OPFOR cannot quickly remove. Or come up with another way to stop an invading convoy in its tracks.

      And if it is determined that they simply do not have the means to stop the enemy convoy from rolling right in, then they need to come up with a different strategy. The Winter War when Finland was invaded by Russia might be a good study. The Finns were outnumbered twenty to one, and had no armor and not much artillery. Yet they fought the Russians to a standstill, and through superior strategy and tactics, they isolated, chopped up, and eliminated entire Russian convoys.

      Let us hope something like that is in the offing here.


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.