It is my experience that when a politician
wants to render those around him defenseless,
especially females, it’s because he wishes
to harm them with impunity.
Ride the Whip Round
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
[Continued from Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven, part Twelve, part Thirteen, part Fourteen, part Fifteen, part Sixteen &Seventeen Title and Art Contest, part Eighteen, part Nineteen]
"I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things."
— Marvin Heemeyer
Matt and Martha
Matt Ferguson had a hangover. It was 11 am on Monday 5 June when his wife, Martha, came in with a hypodermic full of B12. The injection also had B6, folic acid, and a number of other nutrients.
Matt ran a construction company that graded roads. The contract he'd been depending on for two years had just been assigned to someone else, so from Friday when he found out until Sunday he had been pretty much continually drunk. It was the worst bender Martha had seen, with Matt or with anyone else.
At 2 am the bar Matt liked in Princeton, West Virginia near where he lived gave last call, to which fact Matt was oblivious, having leaned his chair back against the wall he was sitting beside. He was fast asleep at 1 am and the bartender hadn't noticed. But she did know to call Martha who came and collected Matt.
Martha worked as a nurse at the community hospital. So it took her only moments to find a vein and inject the potion. She took off the needle and walked to the back of their house where she set it in with other discarded metal items destined for Matt's foundry. Matt really enjoyed working with molten metals and was in his blacksmith shoppe every chance he had.
Coming back to their bedroom, Martha found Matt sitting up, his head against the headboard, but his eyes wide open. The glass of water she had left on the night stand for him was almost gone, and he was holding it. His lips were wet, so she concluded he had been drinking the water. She smiled at her husband.
Matt closed one eye. Then he opened it and closed the other. Then he opened both eyes and smiled back. Lastly, he raised an eyebrow.
Martha reached into her apron and fetched out her scratch pad. "This came in from captain Kalendra twenty minutes ago, Matt. I'm sorry to poke you with the hangover cure, but Jay wants you and Leo to meet him right away. Over at the garages where you keep the Kill-dozers," Martha said. She glanced down at her notes. " There's been a lot going on today, and a bunch of people are heading up this way."
Matt nodded and threw the bed clothes off. He said, "I'll just get a shower then, and be five minutes. Can you fix me something to take with me? I feel really hungry. And a thermos of coffee. "
Martha smiled, "Sure, sweetheart. I'll have it all ready to go as soon as you're dressed."
As she headed for the kitchen, Martha sighed in relief. Her husband the disappointed drunk was gone and her husband the welder, metallurgist, and construction engineer was back. One day soon she would talk to him again about his drinking, but today was not that day.
At 11:20, Matt was driving his pickup to the garages. Four years ago he and Leo Clemson had built these buildings with extra tall overhead doors to accommodate the four bull-dozers they'd picked up just before a nearby construction company had gone bankrupt. Matt's connections to the family let him make a good offer on the machines before the bankruptcy proceedings were begun, so they got cash and he didn't have to compete at auction.
Being admirers of Marvin Heemeyer, and not always fans of the local government, Matt and Leo had converted one of the four 'dozers to an armoured vehicle. The front of the 'dozer had a foot thickness of armour composed of a half-inch steel plate with a layer of three inches of a heavy plastic wall insulation on top, then a quarter-inch plate, a 3-inch layer of ceramic fire bricks, then another quarter-inch plate, an empty layer of three inches which was connected to small pipes to vent to the outside, and an outside layer of 2-inch steel plate.
Anything which penetrated the outer 50.8 mm of armour plate would have its hot gasses dissipate into the empty space and some of those gasses would vent to the outside. The next quarter inch of steel would stop some of whatever got through, and the fire bricks would break up certain kinds of armour piercing rounds, as well as shield the interior against some of the heat involved. The next layer of steel would stop more shrapnel and the rubber insulation would absorb some of the impact and more of the heat. It was hoped that very few things would penetrate all the way through to the interior.
Naturally, they tested four-foot by four-foot sections of this set up at their local gun range. Friends came from all over the country bringing a variety of things to shoot at their layered armour including a 20 mm cannon, a 155 mm howitzer, and a mortar. Tweaking the design now and again, they felt they had good protection against most of the things they could encounter. Of course a direct hit from a bunker buster bomb would have cratered their kill-dozer, but they rated that somewhat unlikely.
After six months, they had a great unveiling in the garage. The three working 'dozers that Matt used for construction work were parked outside and the space they were for had been set up with a local band, dance floor, and a few kegs of beer. Banners announced " Killdozer Mark Two." Everyone had a great time.
Matt remembered all these events with a smile as he drove along to meet Leo and Jay at the garages. Of course, since construction work had begun drying up, and Jay had organised the 33rd West Virginia armoured cavalry, Matt and Leo had worked together to convert a second, then a third 'dozer into tanks.
Although the 'dozers still belonged to Matt, all the armour and artillery had been built or bought with money collected by the militia unit. It was the connections Jay had which had brought in all the recoilless rifles that they had mounted on the vehicles. Jay's oldest son Bobby had put in the radios and the crypto software that kept them connected to the freedom alliance.
When he got to the garages, Leo and Jay already had the doors open. Matt parked out of the way and walked over.
Jay stopped talking to Leo and watched. He'd heard in the usual small-town rumour mill way that Matt had taken his loss of his last construction contract very hard, and had been drinking since Friday evening. The Matt Ferguson walking across the gravel parking lot was fully sober. Apparently Martha had worked a miracle. Jay smiled at Matt and shook his hand as he came up.
"Matt," said Jay, "We've got a situation coming at us. There's a whole bunch of owners with their balls in an uproar over Operation Stumblingblock Removal. Every slave camp we know about, both coasts and in Illinois, were cleared this morning. Escapees scattered, a flotilla of boats picked a bunch of them up on the shore, a capture team in Maryland was slaughtered, and all the enemy units are on full alert."
Matt nodded. He looked at Leo, who was scowling. Again Matt closed one eye, opened it, closed his other eye, and lifted an eyebrow. Ever since he had learned these facial expressions in an acting class that he took because Martha had been in it back when they were both freshmen in high school, Matt had used it to "look a question." Their drama teacher had been very happy to have such an apt pupil.
"None of it is around here," said Leo. " And I really want it to stay that way."
Jay nodded. "That's our job, guys. What I want to do is position one of the 'dozers near US 450 and the other two near the Interstate. Whatever comes at us is most likely going to come from Virginia or from further north. I need you guys to be ready. Rest of the team should be here in an hour."
Matt and Leo nodded. Leo stared at Matt's thermos and closed one eye, which was all he could manage, and turned his head slightly. "Is that some of Martha's coffee?" Leo asked.
Matt smiled. "Yup. Figured you'd want some. You scrounge up a cup and I'll pour."
Karen's Story Continues
Karen Runningwolf had been having an eventful day. Up early, jumping into a slave camp, leading the rescue of 20,000 slaves, now escorting an unconscious owner's whip through security checkpoints around Philadelphia, and down the Interstate toward eastern Tennessee. As they continued down Interstate 81, she fell asleep.
There were two types of security checkpoints to work through. Those set up by the freedom alliance to interdict owner response teams trying to prevent or respond to the various slave camp openings by Karen's allies were easy to get past. They were always happy to let her team through, and often supplied useful intelligence about nearby conditions. At several they picked up additional fuel and food for their team.
More challenging, but arguably more fulfilling in many ways were the several owner-operated checkpoints they had scoped out, attacked, and destroyed. These increased in number as they proceeded toward Philadelphia, and Karen determined early in the day that they would skirt the northern suburbs and head West to Harrisburg before heading South to reach Tennessee. Even so, there had been three of these enemy-held checkpoints along their route.
In each case, both aerial surveillance and local intelligence helped them get through. It was a matter of bringing the various teams to bear on the goal of clearing a particular stumbling block. Which, after all, had been the whole point of the operation from the start.
Tina, the survivor of the bunker, was from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. After they had cleared a stumbling block near there, she was given a ride back to her home by one of the militia units based in her area. They were glad to help, and she was happy to be going home. Karen had outfitted her with a blue goo gun, some water and rations, and a vest.
During the clearing of the camp, Bill Samuels had collected Ira's body from Jake and Eleanor, who went with John Kell in the other vehicles. At their last radio contact, John had reported to Karen that they had met up with the main body of the survivors led by Mary Morris, and loaded many of them into the bus and other vehicles. They should have reached the ocean in the late morning to find parts of the flotilla there.
Outside Harrisburg they had given Ira Glaser's body to a team from Pittsburgh who agreed to take it to his parent's home. Karen reflected on all these thoughts before she was able to nod off. She was in the front passenger seat of the big pickup, Carla Brown was in the middle front seat, Bill Samuels was driving, Chad Adams and the owner's whip were in the back two crew cab passenger seats. Besides being strapped into his seat with the safety harness, the whip was zip tied hand and foot, and still unconscious from sedatives provided by Chad. In the truck bed were Steve, Ollie, Carolyn, Phil, Dick Smith, and Dick's three remaining drones. These were linked by power cables through the window into the crew cab to the truck's console mounted cigarette-lighter-style power outlet.
About three hours later Carla was shaking Karen awake as Bill Samuels drove the big pickup into the ditch. They had been approaching the outskirts of Roanoke, Virginia and there was a huge tie-up on the Interstate ahead of them. A large military unit loyal to owner Pamela Harris was deployed on the highway there, and all traffic on the Interstate was at a standstill.
Karen came fully awake, took a drink of water, and said, "Carla, sitrep."
Carla turned off the tablet she was holding and marshalled her thoughts. She replied, "A division of enemy troops with a company of tanks are deployed around the intersection of I-81 and I-581 near Roanoke, Virginia. We came past Troutville, and Bill is taking us off-road to reach Valley Road which is also Virginia 779. That takes us to Daleville, through Lone Star, down to Catawba. We use local highways which let us parallel I-81 to the area around Blacksburg. From there we take US 460 back to I-81 and continue South."
Karen thought about these facts. Then she asked, " Does anyone know why there's a division of troops and a company of tanks blocking our route?"
Bill grunted. "Huh, yes. Dick thinks there's a big push on to reach our destination. About 14:20 today a hypersonic aircraft left Paradox, Colorado heading toward the Nolan lab complex at Wasp, Tennessee. They were shot out of the sky by rods from several orbiting weapons platforms about 14:55. Our people ejected and were recovered by local militia. Since then those troops ahead of us came in from Lynchburg and got to the Interstate at Roanoke. If we'd been able to leave Harrisburg earlier..."
Bill's attention as now diverted by the need to get onto Valley Road, so he did that while Karen continued to think.
"Carla," she said, "Call up the maps for this area, and see how far we can get without going back to I-81. Whatever those units are doing, by the time we get to the Blacksburg area, they may be in front of us again. Dick?"
A bit of shuffling followed and Dick stuck his head next to the crew cab's window into the truck bed. "Ma'am," he said.
Karen looked back at him and said, "Dick, I need you to get your drones back in the air. Are they fully charged?"
Dick nodded, "Yes. Good to go for another three hours if needed."
Karen smiled, "Okay. Get them up and see if you can connect to the net, get us some air support. Whatever we have to pin those troops and tanks here at Roanoke, keep them from deploying further South. We'll have to play it by ear as far as which valley we use to get past them. With all that armour they must have air support of their own. See what you can do to stimulate some serious response. I don't want to lose our passenger. We worked too hard to get him."
Dick nodded and turned away. He scrambled to the other end of the truck bed and pulled the power cords off the drones, getting them airborne immediately.
Half an hour later, they were headed for a farmhouse near Raven, Virginia. That would be their home overnight and until they could rendezvous with Nolan's people.
Everything was going along fine until they began to near Interstate 77 near Princeton, West Virginia. A scouting unit had come up I-77 from Wytheville and was positioned around the interchange. Three Bradley Fighting Vehicles were on the overpass above US 460 highway and six Humvees were deployed around them, along with six more Humvees on the lower level, including two in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Karen had Bill pull to the side of highway 460. There, as they were considering alternative routes to get around the intersection, they received word that the intersection ahead of them was about to be cleared.
Dick sent his three drones forward to get a better look. Sure enough, there on the Interstate well north of the intersection were two Kill-dozer vehicles, each mounting six 106 mm recoilless rifles. Each one looked very much like an M50 Ontos which was a lightly armoured vehicle that had seen service in Vietnam. They immediately began firing their 50-caliber spotting rifles with tracer rounds to range in on the nine enemy vehicles on the Interstate.
All the vehicle mounted weapons on those nine vehicles and on the six down below were turned toward the approaching Kill-dozers to the north, when a third Kill-dozer, also mounting a set of six 106 mm recoilless rifles approached from the east. The two to the north were laying down their first salvos from their main weapons as the one from the east took its ranging shots with 50-cal tracers, then fired its first salvo. The interlocking fields of fire were devastating. The armour piercing rounds did their work, and the firefight lasted only about ten minutes. All fifteen vehicles of the scouting party were destroyed.
At that point twenty pick-up trucks raced into the area with local infantry support. Appalachian natives cut down the enemy troopers, until the last few surrendered. Relating these events from his drones-eye views, Dick suggested that their best path forward would be to continue on US 460.
Bill looked at Karen, who smiled back and nodded. They proceeded toward the intersection when a radio call came through.
"Jayant Kalendra, Thirty-Third West Virginia armoured cavalry. Call me Jay. We're just coming onto US 460 now. If you give us a few minutes, we'll use our dozer blade to clear those two Humvees from your path. Over."
Karen grabbed up the mic from the radio unit and keyed it. "Gaunts Brook incident response commander Karen Runningwolf. Thanks Jay. We appreciate the rapid support."
Jayant called back, "No trouble, commander. We have zero casualties. I guess their heart's weren't really in their work." After that, a series of loud impacts could be heard over the radio until Jay released his mic button.
A few minutes later Bill drove past the Kill-dozer and everyone waved. Accelerating down the highway, Bill glanced at his rearview mirror, not even sure why he was doing so when he saw, next to one of the demolished Humvees, the muzzle burst of an M16 rifle. Even before he heard the shots, Bill was swerving.
Steve Phillips brought his rifle up and returned fire from the bed of the pickup, but under the circumstances, his shots went wide. One of the Appalachians from the 33rd West Virginia milita cut down the enemy trooper. Bill stopped swerving and accelerated away.
Karen looked back and asked, "Any casualties?"
Steve had slung his rifle and was on his knees next to Phil Miller. He didn't say anything for a few seconds while he checked for a pulse. Much of Phil's face was caved in around a bullet wound which had blown out the back of his head.
"Yeah," said Steve. "Phil's dead." Steve looked at Ollie, Carolyn, and Dick. He said, "No other injuries. "
Karen sighed. It was frustrating, losing another member of her team. They were paying a high price in blood to get whatever intelligence their captive had in his head. She shook her head. This war was only in its first day of open conflict, and there was no knowing how long it would last.
[End part twenty, continues in part twenty-one]
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim. He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult. See the Paypal link on this page, or Flote.app for crypto options. Or email your humble author to offer other choices. Ask him about Kaneh's IndieGoGo
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