"They see me rollin ... they hatin ... patrolling they trying to catch me ridin' dirty..."
-- "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire
I tap Brooke's leg and Tiny's thigh at the same time. This is easy to do, we are jammed into the front cab of the diesel pickup truck like sardines ... except that Tiny is driving and Brooke is standing next to me, top half out of the sun roof swaying with the hardpoint mounted M249 light machine gun.
We smoothly come to a halt, turning slightly right, and Brooke tracks with the MG, fires a burst, then another.
"Go, go!" I command and we lurch forward into motion, tires squealing. The dismount crew in the back swears involuntarily.
Six souls, one pickup. And one huge mess.
The dash mounted GPS tells me where we are ... wrong way down Interstate 680, headed towards Milpitas.
The flashes ahead tell me where we are going ... to the rescue of a rescue convoy, ambushed repeatedly during its last leg of travel to our base in San Jose.
I am not looking at the radiation badge taped to a lower corner of the windshield. I don't want to know, and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.
The attackers are making only one big mistake, but it's enough. They are shooting on the move. Their only effective fire is when they pull alongside the convoy and fire broadside into it -- which gives them the chance to accurately shoot back, because they aren't stopping for trivia like dead crew, blown out tires and/or vehicle fires.
Speaking of which ... one of the trucks is giving off a column of thick black smoke. Crap.
I am supposed to be commanding this mess but it's all I can to do keep track of the pieces.
I tap driver and gunner again, we screech to another halt, and while Brooke fires two more bursts I jam the binoculars into my eyes and acquire a sight picture.
I key the radio, one of our radios, on our encrypted frequencies. Allegedly the frequency they have for us. I hope.
"Wagon, this is Apache. Wagon, do you copy?"
"This is Wagon. We are in serious shit. Wounded on all vehicles, multiple fatalities, at least one vehicle on fire."
"Copy all. Wagon, I need you to use the off ramp at Jackson. We're going to link up with you at the top of the ramp. Your exit in two miles."
I key the second radio. "All elements, meet point is Jackson and 680. I need rifles and MGs on the military crest facing north. Buddy, we've got a rig on fire. Need emergency uncouple. Medics prepare to conduct triage and transfer."
We plow our way up the exit ramp at Jackson, swing hard right, and line up nose facing the freeway. Tiny gets out and I get out past him; he is already reaching for the rifle clamped under our seats.
Buddy's tow truck pulls a herringbone stop adjacent. The flatbed trailer with sandbag bunker makes a brief left, then backs up hastily and smoothly -- no beep sounds -- to make a three point turn, ready to go back down the ramp to escape.
Gunfire already. The rifles have targets; we're under 600 yards.
They're shooting back at us, from their motorcycles and buggies and trucks. They aren't hitting anything. But they are weaving around the stricken convoy like army ants surrounding spiders.
Then they start crashing, crumpling and veering off.
We are providing a vivid demonstration of effective fire from a stationary platform by trained personnel, as opposed to random gunfire from a moving platform by idiots.
The lead vehicle of the alleged rescue convoy pulls in. The armored windshield is starred. So are the sides.
The driver's side door opens and a body flops out, amid a splatter of blood. Our medics pounce immediately.
On the opposite side, a man wearing armor and helmet in digicam is bandaging his arm. I see the single star on his helmet.
"Major," I acknowledge. "We have five minutes to rally." He finishes tying the bandage tight and nods briskly. He keys his radio, giving further commands.
The flaming truck stops about a truck length short of the top of the ramp.
Buddy and I are running towards it. We are passed by Janine's pickup truck, which blasts the front half with a barrage of compressed air powered foam. It conducts a reverse three point to hit the opposite side. That's Fire Captain Janine to you.
Buddy has already climbed the back of the cab and is already checking the air brake and electrical connectors.
The fire ... is out. Molotov, napalm, flammable liquid, whatever.
I draw my baton and strike each of the front trailer tires, the ones most exposed to the flames, as Buddy taught me to do. They thunk with a reassuring meaty rubber sound -- as opposed to say, exploding and ripping my torso apart.
Buddy gives me a thumbs up. "She's good to roll!" He is already talking to the driver, after using his long K-bar type knife to cut loose what is left of the driver's side window.
There is no one in the trailer. The tail end Charlie of the rescue convoy is pulling up, with both mechanics and medics swarming it. Then we are transferring our one precious .50 caliber tripod mounted heavy machine gun.
We are bandaging wounds and thunking tires. The walking wounded are put back in their places, the hors de combat are carried on stretchers to our flatbed bunker-trailer for further attention, and the dead are bagged and stacked at the rear. Additional cover; I'm sure they won't mind.
Buddy rushes back to his tow truck. I follow, intending to ride shotgun with him - Tiny and Brooke have the run-and-gun regime down now.
That's when the other half of the enemy forces hit us from all sides, and things get really fucking busy really fucking quick.
Motorcyclist with lance. What is this? A Camelot remake? I draw my pistol and give him ten reasons to fall off and acquire a sudden case of road rash to go with his kinetic lead poisoning. The lance goes skittering into the wheels of another biker, whose face plant catapults his helmet - head still in it - like a demented bowling ball.
Minivan screeching to a halt, all doors removed, and people piling out of it just as Brooke tosses a grenade within. *WHOOOMP*
Not a professional grenade, but Mo does good work.
I am still looking at the guy with empty pistol holsters strapped to both legs. They are empty because he is holding both guns and firing rapidly.
Someone punches me in the gut. I stagger and take it, dropping my mag, smoothly reloading, and acquiring a sight picture. Pop pop pop, assess.
The two-gunner drops. He still has two guns, but no head.
Shot placement matters. He got me in the gut, but I am wearing armor. I got him in the face, where there is no armor.
As swiftly as the attack began, it is over. We are rapidly consolidating, neutralizing enemy wounded and bandaging new injuries. I reflexively reload (last one!) and holster.
Then I raise the binoculars for a quick scan.
A dark stain spreads from my groin down my right leg.
"GO GO GO!" I shout, and key up the radio. "GO GO GO!" I repeat on the tac net. I run behind Buddy's tow truck and leap onto the back bumper, bracing an arm against the extra piping we rigged as handholds.
It rips in my hand and I start to fall just as Buddy stamps on the gas.
Next I know, I am dangling upside down as the pavement whizzes past me. My right leg hurts like an anaconda is making sweet, sweet love to it.
The tow cable! It is wrapped around my leg!
My radio mike, attached to the radio by a coiled cord, skitters on the pavement, catches a Botts Dot, and shatters.
It is true that people in moving vehicles cannot hit anything with any accuracy.
It is the only reason I am still alive, as two motorcyclists with riders come up on either side of me and their riders level AK rifles.
I tighten my abused gut and curl up and fire at them, upside down, first one then the other.
They spin crazily out of my sight.
The tow truck comes slowly to a halt. Running feet come up to me and the cable loosens, dropping me into a pair of big, burly manly arms.
"Stop hanging around and get in front!" Buddy screams in my face as he carries me to the passenger side. The former shotgunner is already snapping his harness - why the hell didn't I put on a harness! - to a hard point in the back of the tow truck.
I get in and try to fasten my seat belt. I can't - the recoil assembly took a round.
Buddy hits the horn twice, checks his mirror, then slams on the gas without bothering with seat belts.
"Sorry about that, boss," he says, as close to awkwardly as his personality allows.
Then he smiles cheerfully.
"You can tell your grandkids you were a tactical pinata. Good shooting, boss, you got them both."
I turn around painfully in my seat to assess the situation, as best I can.
Where are all these attackers coming from? More motorcyclists, more modified cars and vans and pickups and even a couple of trucks, the latter sandbagged.
They really, really want this convoy. I mean, bad.
We make it to the 101 flyover ramp, from 680 to 101 south.
It's far too late for me to be in command of this mess. We are following contingency orders. Stick together, don't stop for shit, consolidate a defense at Point One next to the front gate.
If I hadn't envisioned this situation and planned for it well in advance, we'd all be dead shortly.
A pickup truck ahead of us groans into slow motion. It is heavily overloaded. So is the six-by horse trailer connected to it. The two are heavily chained together and to metal plates let down between joists in the overpass sidewalls.
Instant road barrier. Just add karma. Both sacrificial vehicles are loaded with rocks. And more than rocks.
Positioned correctly, just under the slope of the overpass -- that "military crest" I mentioned earlier -- as the driver runs for her motorcycle, long hair flapping. She picks it up, starts it and races ahead of us, using every bit of her acceleration advantage.
I have a beautiful view of the first three enemy motorcycles to go over the crest. Two scream briefly before colliding with the trailer. The third tries to lay down his bike to stop sort of the chains - which instead at those speeds, turn his body into a windmilling collection of disconnected limbs, torso sections and a brief streamer of intestine.
I reach into my pocket. Yes, I still have it. The blood runs down my abused leg as I pull it out.
I mutter to myself, "Safe to Arm, Arm to Ready, Ready to Fire, FIRE!" as I flick two switches, lift up a safety cover and press a key.
The trailer blows up just as the ersatz armored truck, a U-Haul converted with welded steel sheets, reaches it.
The chains should survive the blast just fine, but the load of rock is both very effective shrapnel and a continued barrier.
I look down at my leg. Then back at me in the mirror, turning white. Then my leg, then back to me, then to my individual first aid kit. I fumble out the tourniquet. I immediately apply it. Tight. Tighter. Cranking it down.
The leg now hurts like a white hot blowtorch. But I am probably no longer bleeding to death.
Eight minutes later we are at Point One. Adjacent to the Main Gate, but we are not about to move any of the gate defense out of the way right now. We hold here.
The medic who helps me out of the tow truck tries to lie me down.
"NO! That's an order!"
I sit up instead as he dashes off -- clearly I am not about to die, and that is his priority. I take what is left of the radio mike harness off of the radio and key up.
"Echo 18, Control on Command, how do you copy?"
"Copy good," a relieved voice states. "Instructions?"
"Hold hard. Defend the base. Only wounded go inside. Prepare for immediate mass assault."
The employee Reaction Force has already been at stations. I hear alarm sounds distantly. Everyone is either armed and taking up a defensive position, ready to perform according to the Emergency Operations Plan - Defense, or sheltering in a bunker.
Stretcher bearers are running forward out of our base.
I hear a throaty gasoline growl from one of Detroit's finest engines, and a brief siren squawk.
It's the Hate Truck. Now with extra barbed wire chunky goodness. Splashed red in places.
"We already fought off one attack!" shouts Patty, normally one of my two night shift supervisors. But this is a all hands on deck routine. The other night shift supervisor, Sarah, is at the Main Gate Bunker commanding the defenses.
"Excellent," I shout in reply. "How many?"
"We got hit by over fifty! They've got more coming! It's a Dead Man's Party!"
A single motorcycle appears on the road behind us. One of our own scouts.
He transmits on Command.
"Here they come, fast as hell and thick as grass!"
I never, ever should have let these people watch _Zulu_.
Limping, I drag myself to the bunker-trailer. The medics can look at my leg while I whiteboard the outer perimeter fight.
But I have one chore first.
"Command Relay. Fire mission, Point Seven, Ranging Round."
Obligingly a single FWOOOP sounds from inside the perimeter. Putting the captured mortar to good use.
A single explosion, then another. That's a secondary.
"Fire mission, rapid fire, fire for effect, rapid fire."
Six more FWOOPs and the mortar falls silent. That's all we got, seven rounds. But what better place than here, and what better time than now?
More secondary explosions.
"Break. All units are cleared for selective defensive fire. Take your time, make every shot count, punish the bastards."
A disciplined crackle of small arms fire, with the occasional short burst, echoes along the otherwise empty road and apparently deserted perimeter. The only obvious target is the heavily fortified Main Gate Bunker, and us among our convoy vehicles.
The enemy commander has even less operational control than I do. His people are enraged, wounded and have an obvious target. But attacking it brings them broadside down seven hundred yards of our perimeter defenses.
They don't make it. None of them.
"Launch recon drone," I order calmly as the medic loosens the tourniquet to see if the pressure dressings will hold. Let's see what's left.
"Battlesight, command vehicle, multiple antennas," I hear on the radio. Then from the rooftop of H5 Executive. CRACK CRACK CRACK. CRACK CRACK.
Gasoline vehicles do not normally explode. But if you have a markswoman with a gyrostabilized heavy rifle put incendiary high caliber rounds into the engine block and then the gas tank ...
That's what defeat smells like, asshole. Avoid it.