Except for a few intimate friends, everybody agreed that Wokes-Cold had no good side. Even in the best of times she was an insufferable bitch...an insufferable bitch with the power to mete out life-or-death decisions and no compunction about doing so.
Wokes-Cold when she was angry was a whirl of razor-wire, broken glass and sulfuric acid.
Wokes-Cold had passed that stage half an hour ago. Her team of commandos was quaking so much that every one of them had a bad case of the clumsies.
One of the crew dropped the half-full bucket of diesel when Wokes-Cold kicked him in the ass as he walked by. Cursing, Wokes-Cold kicked him again. He could do nothing but pick up the bucket and scurry over to the vehicle they were draining to put some fuel into the ladder-cum-bridge truck.
The truck had inexplicably run out of fuel four miles into the insertion mission.
No way in hell was Wokes-Cold going to radio for help. "Optic" were everything.
She set the crew to finding the means to siphon fuel from one of the vehicles that could be left behind and a way to transfer it to her flagship.
Josie Bunsen continued to collect video. She was pretty sure Wokes-Cold would demand that it be destroyed but sometime the best-told stories borrow little bits from other stories to add drama. The men, mostly, moving like ants-on-crack in the pre-dawn light was visually stunning.
Wokes-Cold checked her lipstick. It had smeared. Cursing some more, she reached into her kit and pulled out a tube. Josie had advised her to wear very dark lipstick in low-light and then to switch to a more natural shade when it got lighter. Wokes-Cold’s lipstick was coal-black. Subtlety was not a Wokes-Cold trademark.
Wokes-Cold reviewed the math in her head. Four-mile-to-the-gallon, twelve miles west and then another four north to the target. That meant she would be on empty again if they only put in another four gallons. The convoy mechanic informed her that the fuel tank was enormous and the fuel pump might not be able to pick up fuel, even if it was there, because tilting the vehicle caused the fuel to settle in a corner of the tank away from the pick-up.
Lacking a hose to siphon fuel, the only way to get fuel was to cut the fuel line of one truck and pump it into a five gallon bucket that was tipped sideways to collect the jet of fuel. Then pouring into a second bucket for a soldier to carry to the flagship. That was the man Wokes-Cold had toppled with her kick to his ass.
Wokes-Cold was NOT going to run out of fuel again. Not as she approached the target and certainly not when they beat-feet to avoid any of the unpleasantness they were about to unleash.
She made generous allowances for the fuel spilled trying to pour it into her flagship. She looked at the time every thirty seconds and got madder by the second.
Waiting is hard work.
The defenders were in a foul mood. Spackle had sent the women out of the Buffer-Zone on April 15, three days before the expected invasion.
Then nothing happened.
Benicio’s spies didn’t have much intelligence to pass on. They were more than capable of collecting “global” information but very limited at picking up closely held details. All they could share was that the invasion was still planned and imminent.
By April 20, the women were starting to filter back into the Buffer-Zone.
Consulting with Gimp and Chernovsky, he realized he had two choices. He could make a big stink about it and then many of his crew would work at cross-purposes or he could turn a creative, blind-eye toward the women coming back.
He chose to turn a blind-eye. He also chose to use the extra time to amp up training. Every day was a different version of Red-v-Blue. Sometimes the Red team marched east in the middle of the night and then attacked the Buffer-Zone from the direction of Capiche.
Other days they would march into Livingston County and attack in the direction the invaders were expected from. When the Lieutenants pointed out that this was risky because Ann Arbor could launch their attack right over the top of the Red Team, Spackle cut him off. “Tell me why it is a downside to have 25% of my forces five miles in front of the lines? Tell me why it would be a problem if Ann Arbor rolled into the Red Force when the Red Force will be carrying a full load-out?”
“But if we get caught on the road...” the Lieutenant started.
His peers winced even before Spackle unloaded on him. It was an ill-considered question.
“Then don’t be on the fucking road!” Spackle thundered. “Officers SOLVE problems. They don't create them. If you can’t handle a minor inconvenience like moving your troops cross-country then you shouldn’t be an officer.”
The most disconcerting exercises were when Blue marched five miles out of the Buffer-Zone toward Capiche and then set up defenses. Then the Red team attacked out of the Buffer-Zone.
Chad, one of the fighters was complaining about the exercise. “What a fucking waste of time. We have perfectly good foxholes and firing positions in da-zone.”
“And now they have us humping all this shit out here and sure as shit we are going to have to hump it back when we are done.”
Chad’s Lieutenant, ironically the one Spackle had unloaded on, overheard him.
“Instead of wasting your breath complaining, you should be using it to drag logs and heaping dirt to cover holes in your breastworks” the Lewie said. "If light can get through, then so can shrapnel."
Chad had not realized that the non-descript person walking the line was an officer.
“May God have mercy on us if we get pushed out of the Buffer-Zone. But if we do, we are going to make them pay dearly for every inch after that” the Lewie said.
The next time those squads were the Blue team and were defending the five miles west of the Buffer-Zone, they cleaned the Red team’s clock. The second time around, the Blue team had a much finer appreciation for the terrain. Their hides were better hidden and better integrated into the cover. They also tightened their footprint and had interlocking fields-of-fire.
The Red team attacked the five-day-old, exposed breastworks and were filleted by streams of fire (actually, video footage and blanks) coming from two, unexpected directions.