Friday, August 7, 2020

Quest: The best defense is a strong offense

Chernovsky was agitated and when he was agitated he could not sit still.

He paced.

Gimp watched him.

“I love defense” Chernovsky said. “You need a strong defense to win games, I truly believe that.”

“But the team is doomed if the offense can’t put any points on the board” Chernovsky processed his thoughts out-loud.

“The defense can be almost perfect but if they are on the field for ninety minutes straight, they are going to make mistakes. And then the other team will score” Chernovsky said.

“We have been lucky so far. We haven’t needed much offense. But these bastards have poison gas” Chernovsky said with a frown.

“We can’t afford to wait for them to try again. We have to give them something else to think about.” Chernovsky said.

Gimp nodded in agreement. “If this was a football game and you were running the offense...what plays would you call?”

“I would run a mix of plays. Maybe start with a run. A few short passes. I might even try a Hail Mary.” Chernovsky said.

“The runs won’t work” Gimp said.

“Why not?” Chernovsky asked.

“We aren’t going to be running a second play if we run through VX” Gimp said.

The current best thinking of the Capiche/Buffer-Zone brain-trust was that the University in Ann Arbor had kludged together some kind of VX-like gas. VX is a heavy, UV stable, toxic gas. It wasn’t going anywhere soon.

“OK, so passes.” Chernovsky said.

“What targets are worth the risk of hitting?” Gimp asked. “We need a couple of targets that are close and one ‘Hail Mary’ target.”

“Then we make it happen.”


There were only two targets worthy of the risk.

One was close. The parking lot where the Ann Arbor forces continued to marshal their fleet before shipping out was approximately 12 miles east of the Buffer-Zone. Dot and Amie brought back photos for the planners to review.

The ‘Hail Mary’ involved selecting a strategically important target in downtown Ann Arbor and making a statement. And for that, the planners needed much more detailed information than they currently had.

They reached out to Benicio.

And not trusting to put all their eggs in one basket, Tory made a clandestine air-drop deep inside Ann Arbor territory. She dropped of Miguel, the same Miguel who found and extricated Charise Vigil from under the noses of the Ann Arbor overlords.

Miguel took two days to ease his way into Ann Arbor. He had a radio. He had some preliminary targeting information that he was expected to somehow substantiate.

Miguel didn’t know quite how he was going to pull that off but he trusted God to provide.

And He did.

The first night Miguel was in town, he found a low-mid level tavern on the outskirts of Ann Arbor. He also ran into a familiar face, Krystal from Capiche.

As he remembered it, Krystal was something of a bar-fly so it was not unusual to find her in a bar. The surprise was to find her in one in Ann Arbor.

For the price of a beer and some sympathetic sounds, Krystal poured out her heart. Her asshole brother-in-law had thrown out of Mama’s house and scared away her then-boyfriend.

Two more drinks and Miguel had a lock on a bed to sleep in that night. Well, to sleep part of the night. Miguel was a beautiful man. There was no doubt in his mind that other payment was expected of him.

And just-like-that, he had the perfect cover to pop into every bar in Ann Arbor. And Krystal’s friends were instantly his friends. He didn’t trust their reliability but it did give him nearly two-dozen sets of ears percolating in low places where tongues were not always guarded.

Miguel was a married man. He prayed God would understand that the sex was only business and not really adultery.


The plan for the marshalling yard was simple. A party of twenty would infiltrate north into the NO-GO zone shortly after midnight. Then they would move east on Allen Road, then south on Burkhard road until they were within two miles of the marshalling yard.

Every fighter would carry a fifty pound load-out. Since most of the weight would be ordinance, that was almost sixty mortar rounds.


The planning for the mission deeper in Ann Arbor territory was much more complicated.

The taxicab distance from the Buffer-Zone to Ann Arbor was forty miles. Traveling under the cover of darkness, that was a two-night walk in and a two-night walk out, presumably under pursuit.

Chernovsky decided to delegate. He asked General Spackle if he could borrow Pepperoni for a while. Spackle didn’t want to give him up...but he owed Chernovsky his position, if not his life. He sent Pepperoni back to Capiche.

Chernovsky’s orders to Pepperoni were simple. “I am going to give you a target in Ann Arbor but I cannot tell you exactly what that target is...yet. I need you in position to attack it in four days. I need you to come up with a plan to sneak a squad in-and-out.

“Is that all?” Pepperoni asked, sarcastically.

“No, of course not. I also need a second plan on how to support you with artillery” Chernovsky added "and a third plan to deflect the blame to the Jackson Hard-timers."

"We will get a lot of relief if Ann Arbor starts preparing for a two-front war."


  1. "in position to attack it" Random comment... Any good troop receiving an order, if not given will always ask IOT (in order to...?) to understand the commanders intent. This is *essential*. Attack this building. IOT? Range of possibilities from, to destroy it, to vandalize it to send a message, to kill everyone inside, to capture it for incoming troops. Pushing the requirements 'down' gives the onsite folks more latitude in fulfilling the mission.

    1. This is where my inexperience shows.

      My intention for leaving the story hanging is that I hoped some readers would consider how THEY would project force across forty miles given Capiche dearth of offensive capability.

      The dirty secret of writing and telling stories is that the author or teller isn't creating the story, the reader or listener does it in their head.

      More to come next week...

  2. Hobby drones? Kamikaze attack...

  3. Commenting as an observer and not the author:

    Where is the leverage? Certainly not in taking hostages. That becomes a suicide mission because there is no way to leave the footprint with the hostages. Dragging unwilling hostages for forty miles...not gonna happen.

    Destroying a random building? That has no more impact than a random fire.

    Where is the leverage? Where is the high-value target? How can the execution of the deed get inside of everybody's head? How can it misdirect? How can it cause Ann Arbor to miss-allocate resources.

    Those would be the conversations Chernovsky, Pep and others would be having after this assignment was handed out.

    There is a lot of "reach" in those questions considering how feeble Capiche and the Buffer-Zone's ability to project are.

  4. "Bicklebaugh cleared his throat. Ann Arbor’s precarious logistical situation was a tightly held secret. “The issue is that there are economic...penalties...if this conflict continues indefinitely. It needs to be wrapped up in a very timely manner to not trigger those, um, penalties.” " - Quest: Malice and Mosquitoes

    A strike against the logistical weakness in Ann Arbor will collapse them. The right offensive attack can win knock-out. It is a 'hail mary'. You are giving that shot your best and leaving it to G-d.

    Looking forward to seeing how Joe develops it.

  5. Miguel's dodgy partner in the intimate activity he must engage in as part of his underground role reminds me of something I've wondered about - how can penicillin be maintained, obtained or grown under WROL conditions with no available refrigeration?