Monday, August 31, 2020

Quest: Diaspora

Angelo Marino drove his forces to the Ann Arbor Airport with minimal looting along the way. Work first, then fun.

If locals took pot-shots at them...well, then he detailed troops to level the neighborhood. Object lessons lose their effectiveness if the intended target of the lesson has any doubt regarding who the lesson was intended for.

There was no resistance the last five miles to the airport. The gate was easy enough to push in.

Marino had his troops secure all fuel, arms and ammo.

He had them burn the planes. He did not have pilots. He did not have mechanics. He certainly wasn’t going to leave them for the enemy to use.

The sleek turboprop with the blue football helmets painted on the sides was not at the Ann Arbor Airport.

He found the plane he was looking for at the Willow Run Airport fifteen miles east of the Ann Arbor Airport.

It burned spectacularly. The high-tech fiber-reinforced resins burned like pine pitch.

The return leg arrowed directly thorough downtown Ann Arbor. Having accomplished his primary mission, it was time to sew the seeds of chaos, panic and vengeance. It was also a way to reward his men for following his orders when they what they really wanted to do was rape and loot.

During the three days his men rutted and routed Ann Arbor, the only discipline he maintained was a daily roll-call. If too many men started disappearing then it was time for another object lesson.

Getting ready to pull out of Ann Arbor, Marino left a trusted lieutenant to maintain a garrison in Ann Arbor, lest lest the locals get to feeling ambitious.

Marino really didn’t trust any of his lieutenants. He left the underling with just enough manpower to keep a lid on Ann Arbor provided he used an iron fist and was able to liberally seed the populace with spies.

Heading back to Jackson County, Marino’s guess that his competitors had met with a bad end was confirmed. That left him the undisputed leader of the Jackson County Hard-Timers.



For want of a nail the kingdom was lost. 

The trucks in the marshaling yard in Howell had enough fuel in them to make it to Delta Township, plus one gallon for safety. Sayed had been exquisitely aware of the temptations of a full fuel tank. Drivers would either siphon off the extra and sell it or they would bogey out of his reach.

Interspersed with his convoy were tanker trucks. Their job, once they reached Delta Township and Capiche was to refuel the cargo trucks after they had a full load. They were tasked with doling outh exactly enough fuel to get them back to Ann Arbor.

It was forty miles from the marshaling yard in Howell to the middle of Delta Township. It was thirty miles from the marshaling yard to the center of Ann Arbor.

Add in the necessity of taking indirect, circuitous routes to the dacha of The People’s Collective Voice and it was easy to see that most of the trucks were running on fumes as they pulled onto US-23 for the outbound, northward leg. The driver’s concerns were brushed off. There was a refueling station set up in Hartland, twenty-five miles north of Ann Arbor.

Shomsky’s thinking was that she wanted the refueling station to be far enough north to avoid having Ann Arbor residents fleeing the Hard-Timers stumbling across it.

Even with the highly optimistic guesses regarding how far the trucks would go before running out of fuel, things might have worked out if Ann Arbor’s most-favored had been willing to abandon vehicles as the ran out of fuel. But they were loath to give up the cargo. They demanded that the trucks that were still running run tow the disabled trucks.

And then there were the issues of pushing through groups of refugees. The drivers insisted on slowing down so they had time to move out of the way.

And there were disabled vehicles to work their way through. Most of the disabled vehicles had run out of gas.

The refugee’s live-and-let-live attitude came to an abrupt end when they encountered the PCV convoys that were totally drained of fuel. The passengers were unloading the trucks and attempting to separate out the most valuable loot to be carried by hand.

It became clear that The People’s Collective Voice and their closest friends had been pillaging for months and were in the process of abandoning the people they had sworn to lead and protect from the Hard-Timers.

The PCV forces were well armed. They were well armed and greatly outnumbered.

The refugees stacked their bodies in the road and hand-pushed the stalled trucks to form road-blocks.

It did not go well for the PCV members and minions who dallied and were not among the first out of Ann Arbor.


The PCV members who did make it to the refueling area in Hartland were allocated enough fuel to go an additional 150 miles. Had they known that most of their members were not going to make it to the refueling station, it would have been possible to give them far more fuel.

Most of the PCV members fell for the biomass fallacy. It is easy to assume that forests with large amounts of standing biomass are exceptionally fertile. That is rarely the case.

Fertile lands were put to the plow and had few standing trees. The forests with large amounts of standing biomass had been passed by the farmers and the impressive amount of biomass had been collecting for the last 90-to-140 years.

An ecologist would have looked at the trees and seen that they were Red and Jack Pines, aspen and birch and red maple. The ecologist would have looked at the distance between whorls of branches on the trucks of the pine trees to judge the fertility of the soil.

In southern Michigan, pine trees regularly grow three, even four feet a year from the time they are eight feet tall until they are more than thirty feet tall.

In the vast sand-plains of northern Michigan, those same pine trees might make nine inches-to-fifteen inches a year. Nearly every refugee who fled to the sand-plains would starve or freeze to death within the year. 

Most of the refugees were not pampered members of the PCV.

Ann Arbor emptied itself of baristas and barkeeps, lawyers and masseses, personal fitness trainers, sno-board instructors, soldiers, teachers, house cleaners and orthodontists. Like a mindless mass of lemmings, they marched north certain that things had to be better.

They found that most of what they had considered ‘wealth’ was not regarded as such by the subsistence farmers of the region.

In the end, those who survived indentured themselves to successful farmers as they lacked tools, seeds, livestock and even the fundamental knowledge of how to plant their own garden. 

The rest died. They died fast and they died ugly.


  1. I hope that they didn't make it across the Bridge. That is of concern to us up here. Refugees from downstate and Wisconsin/Illinois are the big concern here in western UP. We are getting them here now and it hasn't really begun. Yet. --ken

    1. In this universe the ones who end up on foot don't make it as far as West Branch with most pooping out before getting to Saginaw.

      The ones with vehicles don't make it past Grayling.


  2. They bypass the chemical tank farms of Midland? Seems to me that would be a fine place to resource a chemical weapons effort.

    1. They might have earlier in story. However, the people fleeing Ann Arbor are at this stage