Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Quest: Counter-attack part II


Tory added a touch more power and began a gentle climb. She really would not feel comfortable until she was at five thousand feet. The problem was that she would make a lot of noise if she got there in a hurry.

She straightened out her loafing pattern and headed north, out over the Barton Nature area. Then, seven miles out she turned west avoiding the most highly populated areas. She was gentle on the throttle. That was almost identical to the evasion plan for the ground crew and for the same reasons.

The mission had been a very “dark” operation and it would remain dark.

If the other side could figure out exactly how hostile forces had pulled off the operation, then they could take steps to prevent them in the future.

If, on the other hand, the details remained a mystery then Capiche could reasonably claim that they...or their allies...could reach out and destroy any enemy, even one who was in the middle of a densely populated city, surrounded by security and human shields.

Tory was glad that the range had been short. The howitzer had a range in excess of six miles. Even after Ann Arbor figured out it was an artillery strike and not aerial bombing, and then figured out where the strike team was firing from... It was likely that Ann Arbor would implemented security out to three or four miles and a repeat of the mission was still a possibility given the long legs and portability of the cannon.

Of course, it sucked for the guys on the ground. Eluding pursuit would have been easier if they had a six mile head-start as opposed to the two-point-four mile head-start they enjoyed. In the crew’s favor, the target was still thrashing around. An attack on downtown Ann Arbor had been inconceivable to the enemy. 

Besides, nobody looks for a snake when all evidence pointed to eagles.


*

Pep and the "boys" were making good time. Of course, they would have preferred a short, fifteen mile run to safety rather than forty.

Pep's plan had taken advantage of a truck-ride to within a night's march of where the high school. Nobody on Ann Arbor's side was expecting a truck to sneak in from the Buffer-Zone.

They spent the day in a mosquito-infested wild-life sanctuary. Since everything larger than tadpole in the sanctuary had been harvested for meat, Pep and the squad had been the only food available to the mosquitoes.

After a hellish day, the squad moved to the high school and burned through their ammo load.

Now they were hoofing it north and then west. They alternated running a couple of miles north and then turned on a convenient gravel road and hoofed it another couple-three miles west.

Pep didn't want make it easy for pursuers to guess what road they would be on. There is no point in making it easy for pursuers to set up a road-block that will catch you.

Nobody bothered them.

None of the local residents called the authorities to inform them that a nearly silent group of men had run past their farm.

The good citizens of Ann Arbor had been well trained to mind their own business.


*

On the ground it was chaos.

Bicklebaugh’s security detail had been on the first floor and Bicklebaugh’s inner circle had been in the middle of their nightly 9:00PM meeting on the second floor.

None of the security detail survived.

Most of the people who had been on the second floor were still alive. Banged up, concussed, lacerated and hemorrhaging internally but still alive.

Ironically, two people of the people who had originally been on the second floor had bolted for the stairs and were on the first floor when the house collapsed.

Bicklebaugh was one of the two. Koivun was the other.

*

Sayed was awakened when frantic orders came over the radio to return to Ann Arbor.

He demurred. "There could be ambush between here and Ann Arbor. I will be there in the morning."

Still, he decided there was no harm in taking a walk around the facility to ensure that everybody was on-point.

That is why he was not in his posh camper when the mortar shells came raining in. The shell clearly targeted the fuel tanker trucks and "mahogany row", the fancy campers where upper echelon officers bunked.

Sayed made a mental note to never again park near the tanker-trucks when they rebuilt. The exploding tankers rained burning fuel on the campers and on the inhabitants as they attempted to flee.

*

The Buffer-Zone fighters hoofing it back from mortaring the marshalling area moved west along the railroad tracks that paralleled the river. They had a lot of respect for the natives and had no interest in getting into a fire-fight with the locals, consequently they took a different route west toward safety than they had taken when infiltrating.
 
It had been impossible to synchronized the two attacks. The attack on Ann Arbor had to be between 9:00PM and 10:00PM to catch the movers-and-shakers in their meeting. The mortar crew had to move in the dark and it was a minimum of a four hour hike into the firing site. Consequently, the staggered attack.

Sayed's troops somehow deduced the mortar shells were coming in from the north. Squads raced west and north intending to cut off the attackers before they made it to safety.
 
The mortar crew ran into locals and took fire on the railroad grade. The squad leader directed the crew to dump the tube and the baseplate. They were useless without ammo. Two of his men took hits and things looked grim as the sound of shooting rang like a dinner-bell to anybody who was spoiling for a fight.

Things looked grim, that is, until twenty of Sayed's fighters who had been making good time on Allen Road tumbled headlong into the ambush.

The locals had informants everywhere and this was their home-turf. The resulting fire-fight dwarfed the little dust-up on the rail grade. None of Sayed's troops who were traveling west on Allen Road survived. The locals noted the uniforms, such as they wore, and that hardened their dislike of the Ann Arbor fighters.

*

"Hey, I found one who is alive!"  the first responder yelled.

Performing a quick, preliminary examination the responder determined that the victim had probable spinal damage. He could not move his legs or toes, nor could he feel pain in his lower extremities. The victim's pupils did not dilate evenly. The patient could blink his eyes on command but did not appear to be able to speak.

"I need a back-board over here!" the first responder yelled.

The scene of the aerial bombing was a total goat festival.

Fighters with semi-automatic weapons were scanning the sky. Magazines were in place and live rounds were in the chamber.

Klieg lights lit the area and swept the sky.

Secret police were rounding up "suspects" from nearby neighborhoods on the possibility that they had helped target the house.

People with actual military experience tried to point out that multiple, 100 pound bombs would have leveled entire neighborhoods, not just two houses.

They were, of course, ignored. Thousands of people had heard the planes fly in from the west and then bomb the houses by the church.
 
Tongues wagged furiously. By mid-morning everybody in Ann Arbor knew Jackson had just launched an unprovoked attack on Ann Arbor.

Nobody was looking for Pepperoni and his squad.
 
Two hours after they crossed the Huron River on North Maple road, they slipped into a thick planting of spruce trees and moved up-hill. Tonight, they would sleep where the breeze blew, the ground was thickly blanketed with needles and the air was redolent with the scent of spruce gum.

3 comments: