General Patrick refused to release any “tanks” for guard duty. His reasoning was that he only had a few left and they didn’t seem to improve the odds of the convoys getting through.
General Rife unbent, a little bit. He found two dozen fighters and put them on two flat-beds, one at the front and one at the rear of the convoy. Grab-ropes were added to the flat-beds. The picture in Rife’s head was that fighters would ride with their legs dangling over the sides and grabbing the rope with one hand. Their rifles would be slung across the front of their chests.
Rife listened to the drivers from the previous attempt. Hearing about the difficulty of turning around the convoy of long flat-beds on narrow, country roads, he added a third type of vehicle to the convoy; a motorcycle.
The motorcycle quickly proved its worth. It was able to zoom down east-west road and verify if the bridge was there. The Honda CR250 was easy to maneuver.
The flat-beds with the soldiers slowed the entire convoy down to a bit less than fifteen miles per hour. The bike had no trouble staying ahead of the convoy.
The dirt bike was waiting for the convoy as they reached each westbound road. The rider made a big show of shaking his head “NO!” and the lead truck did not even slow down. Then the dirt-bike dashed ahead of the convoy to check out the next east-west road.
The convoy hit pay-dirt on Coon Lake Road. The dirt-bike found that the culvert that carried the West Branch beneath the road was unsullied. He kicked up a rooster-tail as he turned around to inform the convoy.
The theatrics attracted the attention of a foraging party from the the city-state of Wolverine. They had just enough time to set-up an ambush.
The fire-fight was one-sided and over before it started. The soldiers on the flat-beds had rifles but no ammo.
They could not surrender quickly enough.
Their decision was undoubtedly influenced by rumors of high quality brew-pubs (true), excellent beer (true, but expensive) and uninhibited sex workers (true and cheap).
The foraging party threw the dirt-bike on the back of one of the trucks and rode back to Ann Arbor in style.
Chernovsky watched the Livingston County fighters desert the line with increasing consternation.
He called Mr Ed and asked that he include a Public Service Announcement in his daily broadcast. Mr Ed was more than happy to oblige.
That evening, Capiche and the surrounding areas were informed that enemy desertion rates were escalating and that strangers should not be approached. Mr Ed also advised that doors be locked and that adults should carry a firearm at all times. In addition to the firearm, Mr Ed advised a minimum of twenty rounds of ammo.
With the setting of the sun, entire fire-teams, thirty individuals at a whack, deserted. NCOs are also vulnerable to thirst, doubt and dysentery.
Richards’ command post was near the east end of the line. His rational was that he needed a close link to Livingston County. He had his roving armor fire on his own people as they attempted to percolate around their fellow soldiers.
The sound of the gun fire alerted other groups of deserters. The way to safety was not east and north. That led into Benicio’s domain. It wasn't back down I-96, that led to General Mark Richards summarily executing deserters.
The reputation of the fighters to the south was becoming almost mythic. They were like fog. They had also neutralized Livingston County’s most competent armor groups without a twitch.
That left west as the only safe direction to desert. Directly away from Livingston County. Away from home and family.
Chernovsky sent a runner to the Livingston County line. The runner carried a white flag.
He was ushered into an audience with General Mark Richards.
Handing over a document, the runner said, “My commander wants to negotiate terms of surrender tomorrow at 8:00. He asks that you meet him at the Bishop Inn and bring no more than three aides.”
Mark Richards said it would take a half hour to answer the runner. The runner went outside the repurposed UPS truck and waited.
Richards asked, “Where the hell is Bishop Inn?”
It took more than half an hour to find a fighter who was familiar with the area.
“Bishop Inn is right over there.” he said, pointing to an abandoned building a half mile up M-99. “It is on the corner of M-99 and Bishop Road.” he explained.
“But the sign says that is the Coaches Pub” one of the aides contradicted.
“Yeah. That is what the sign says. But it was Bishop Inn for thirty years and that is what all the locals call it.” the local expert said.
Richards had the runner ushered back into the truck.
“We are willing to accept your surrender but will not be able to attend the meeting until 9:00” Richards intoned. No way in hell was he going to let the losing side dictate any of the terms.
“Tell your Generals to bring their list of terms. We might grant some of them.” Richards said.
The runner replied “I am authorized to accept your proposal of a surrender meeting at 9:00 AM, tomorrow, October 12.”
The runner had been ordered to deliver a message and schedule a meeting, not to clear up basic misunderstandings. That was above his pay-grade.