Monday, July 20, 2020

Quest: First Blood

Wokes-Cold barreled up to the brink of the ruined bridge over the West Branch. Because of the dark and the potential for moisture on the pavement, she feathered the brakes.

Her fear of failure almost overcame what her mind told her was the most prudent path.

Creeping up to within six feet of the brink. Wokes-Cold pressed the button that activated the bridge deployment.

Thibodeaux understood that the users of the bridge would be befuddled by adrenaline. The bridge was nearly idiot-proof. A series of interlocks and micro-switches ensured that spool valves were not activated prematurely. For instance, Wokes-Cold could have pushed the button while the truck was still moving and nothing would have happened until her speed dropped to zero and she had set the parking brake.

Wokes-Cold’s intelligence people had chosen Denis Road because the approaches to the bridge were least compromised. The drone footage implied that the abutments were fairly sound and the span was well within the capabilities of the scissors bridge.

Slightly less than twenty seconds later, Wokes-Cold released the parking brake and radioed her two escort vehicles “Follow me”. She transmitted in-the-clear.

Gunning the engine, she accelerated across the bridge leaving her escorts behind.

Knowing Wokes-Cold’s impatience, the escort vehicles also put the accelerators to the floor-boards. They, too, could see the first faint streaks of light in the eastern sky.

They had a series of targets and nearly a fifty satchel charges to place and detonate before Ann Arbor could begin its invasion.


Galligan was a firm believer in “simple is good”.

The trap the Denis Road squad had set was a single steel cable slung across the road. It was the kind of steel cable used to guy utility poles. They did not even have to splice it. One of the sharp eyed fighters had seen a partial spool that had been abandoned when Ebola interrupted everything, not that splicing lengths of cable would have been difficult.

The cable had been painted with flat, red auto primer to dull the shine.

The cable was slung diagonally across the road with the east end fixed to a burly oak tree on the south side of the road and the west end tied to a massive swamp maple on the north side.

Any vehicle that hit the cable while traveling west would result in the cable decapitate the driver or the cable would stretch and then sling-shot the vehicle into the swamp along the north side of the road.

There was enough slack in the cable that it lay on the road in its relaxed position.

Deploying the cable involved lifting the cable to a height of four-feet and holding it up with make-shift supports.

Once awake, it took the team less than a minute to “arm” the trap. Since the squad had no motorized vehicles, it was completely innocuous to them.

The trap was a quarter mile west of the West Branch river.

Wokes-Cold had the enormous truck up to 45 miles per hour when she hit the cable. She never saw it because it was below her line-of-sight.

The elevation of the cable was optimized for common pickup and industrial trucks. It never comprehended the possibility of a target the height of a ladder truck.

The cable almost didn’t work. The truck almost punched through.


Physics slowly kicked in. The inertia of the truck kept it moving forward. The cable sawed deeply into the cab of the truck below the level of Wokes-Cold's feet. The side forces the cable applied to the front of the truck slowly tipped the truck to the right.

Slowly at first and then more quickly. It rolled the truck over and the tension in the cable and the springiness of the trees heaved heaved the truck into the bog.


Inside the troop carrier immediately behind the ladder truck, Millie Allison was doing her part to make up for lost time.

The instructor for the demo training had been very, very clear about the proper time to install detonators and absolute necessity of keeping power supplies separate from the detonators until the very last moment.

Wokes-Cold had been even clearer that performing the mission to the schedule was even more important. Millie ADORED Wokes-Cold and aspired to be exactly like her. If Wokes-Cold had indicated a desire for soldiers who shit in technicolor, Millie would have eaten nothing but crayons for a week.

Millie was “working ahead” so her team could hit the ground running. She had the detonators pressed into the charges and 18” long wire pigtails installed. The instructors demanded that pigtails have the bare ends of the pigtail twisted together so there was absolutely no possibility of a stray voltage detonating the caps.

Millie considered twisting the exposed copper ends together to be a waste of time. In fact, she considered it counter-productive because the sappers would be slowed down. It was one more task that she was sure she could work-ahead.

Even the huge jolt that tossed everybody around might not have resulted in the bare wires hitting the exposed posts on the battery if the back of the truck had been less crowded. One of the crew members from the truck that had been abandoned bumped Millie’s arm.

Not only did the 22 pound satchel charge Millie was fusing go off, the other forty-nine detonated sympathetically.

The Buffer-Zone squad’s position was 150 yards west of the ambush site. Weapons were pointed forward, heads were above the log-and-dirt breastworks. Experience had taught them that given the terrain, the low light and the limitations of their weapons, 150 yards was the optimum stand-off distance.

Sometimes our bodies are smarter than our brains. Most of the squad had pulled their heads back in before their brains had consciously registered what had happened. The rest of the squad were a little slower. The shockwave hit them as they were pulling their heads back down. A few of them would have sore necks and ringing in their ears.

Incredibly, Wokes-Cold survived the crash and the explosion. The truck that exploded was still on the road and most of the blast shot over the bog where the ladder truck had come to a rest. Additionally, the bulk of the truck was between Wokes-Cold and the center of the blast.

She was knocked unconscious and trapped in the wreckage.


1 comment:

  1. Epic !! The Denis Road squad did well to keep their heads down and than cautiously survey the aftermath. As Sun Tzu said, never interfere when your enemy is destroying himself.


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