Gimp had worked with Janelle on the new mortar rounds for the 81mm mortars.
Gimp was willing to give up maximum range in return for larger amounts of more uniform shrapnel. Consequently, the Capiche rounds were more cylindrical than the tear-drop shaped NATO M821 81mm round and weighed 13 pounds to the M821’s 9 pounds.
If the M821 shrapnel pattern was donut shaped, the shrapnel pattern of the newly designed Capiche round was pancake shaped. More shrapnel in a tighter pattern meant more hits per square foot over a smaller area.
Gimps reasoning was that rural Michigan is flat. He wasn't worried about snipers shooting from third story windows or multiple mountain strong-points that varied in elevation by 100 feet. The pancake pattern was sub-optimal for those situations but were the cats-meow for targets on the flat-and-level.
Urdie had the detonators set to go off six above ground level
Because the rounds were coming in at an a slight angle, the pancakes were tilted. Half of the shrapnel was below six feet in elevation, half was above.
Even as the four mortar crews were servicing the target zone, fighters were leaving their trucks and running for safety. Many of them made it. Many did not.
As the survivors made their frantic dash to safety, they noticed that each mortar burst left a cloud of filthy black smoke. The stench of sulfur and the rich aromas of imperfectly refined petroleum was so heavy it could be tasted. It was a scene from Dante's Seventh Circle of Hell, a river of boiling blood and fire.
The bursting HE liquified the pitch within the shell. The high-explosive generated the incredible pressures required to first separate and then accelerate the shrapnel. The pressure aerosoled the pitch as the highly viscous liquid was forced through the gaps between the accelerating shreds of shrapnel.
On the Wallace Road overpass, fighters were encouraged to shoot invaders. The goal was not to burn through the maximum amount of ammo. The goal was to obtain as many hits as possible. If they could not get a good sight picture on a fleeing invader they were directed to not squeeze the trigger.
Six hundred yards is a long way to shoot. A thousand yards is a very, very long way to shoot. Not every shot hit. For some shooters, they were barely getting one-hit-in-ten. Each hit was a casualty. Even a modest wound meant that the soldier would not be returning to the front lines any time soon.
The panicked invaders never had a clue that they were taking fire from the west. The buffeting from the concussive mortar bursts, the shock of seeing team-mates riddled with multiple shrapnel hits. The stink…
The mortar crew continued to walk the column of vehicles from rear to front. Most of the vehicles were rendered inoperative. There was no way the westbound lanes would be cleared without the serious attention from a crew of wreckers.
Once they got to the head of the column, the mortar crews reversed direction and then walked the vehicles from front-to-back, mowing down running soldiers by the score.
Even as the enemy combatants fled the field of battle and the beaten zone moved eastward, Buffer-Zone fighters slipped out of the underbrush and started working their way up the line of vehicles.
Everybody carried a silenced, 9mm handgun.
Some of the fighters established over-watch. The other fighters worked their way from vehicle-to-vehicle looking for ammo and weapons to salvage. They left the wounded and dead. They had no means for caring for them.
They also placed explosive charges between fuel tanks and chassis frames. It was inevitable that the invaders, if they still had the stomach to continue fighting would realize that the line of wrecked vehicles was excellent cover to get closer to the Buffer-Zone and were prime positions for snipers.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Donnie Galligan was inspecting the bridge Wokes-Cold had thrown across the West Branch.
Galligan had a security detail on the east side of the river to alert Donnie if aggressors started moving in their direction.
Donnie was intrigued by the leveling feet. He knew something about hydraulics so he recognized the hoses by the crimping.
He didn’t have a lot of time to demo the bridge. It would not be easy to mine it. The spars were sleek and a package of explosives would hang out like balls on a goose.
Not knowing when they would get company, Donnie settled for cutting the hoses. Lacking proper cutting tools, they made do with a couple rounds of Armor Piercing ammo.
The staging area in Howell, ten miles to the east was in total chaos.
Radio discipline was non-existent. Everybody was stepping on each other.
The second part of the convoy, the logistical support, had panicked and left the deserting fighters behind.
The third part, which was preparing to embark was bottled up by the returning logistical vehicles and became a snarled mess.
The highly refined and well honed “process” Ann Arbor had developed to invade her neighbors had been mauled.
Every one of their moves on the battlefield had been anticipated and neutralized with surgical precision and ruthless force.
Their losses, in absolute terms, were manageable. 20% of the first wave KIA. Another 30% wounded and not capable of fighting. The loss of so many fighters was painful but not a show-stopper.
It was the loss of prestige that stung. Everybody wants to be in the military when it has the aura of invincibility. Chris Pearl’s force just had its ass handed to it by a force that was expected to be little more than a speed-bump. As far as Pearl could tell, his forces had not been able to launch a single, aimed shot at the defenders and he was looking at 500 casualties.
It was a fortunate thing that Ann Arbor was starting to fill up with refugees from Detroit. Pearl could put them to good use. There was not much time to train them, but how much training is required to stop a bullet? Eventually, the Buffer-Zone had to run out of bullets, right?