Monday, March 11, 2013

102: Beseiged, Day 4, part 3

January 6th, 2001


The first floor is theirs.  They can choke on it.  There's six stairwells in the hospital.  Four are crammed with beds, desks, chairs, and booby traps; have fun.  The northernmost center stairwell is open, but the halls leading to it are barricaded and trapped as well.  This last one, the one right here, is still open.  Hope they didn't bring a flamethrower.


Ed's pop-gun keeps hammering away.  It is no time to slow down.  I draw my hatchet and let the rifle swing on its sling.  Down a short hall and turn back towards pediatrics. 

"Stop or..."

Lt George sprawled, unconscious, by the door, pinch-faced Jones sheltering behind him, pistol in one hand and grenade in the other.


Nope!  No stopping.  That big handgun of Jones' starts to shift away from George's head.  Too slow.


I swing with all my might down from on high into his shoulder.  I might as well have struck a concrete wall.  The blade doesn't sink in.  Instead, its as if I'd struck with the flat.  He flails under the impact, hand open instinctively, and the live grenade bounces loose.

Sorry, George.


The men following Alpha stop and backpedal away from turn to pediatrics.  A flash and bang tell me why.  I pass them as they recover their senses with my rifle tucked tight into my shoulder.  Blast marks on the walls and door, one body setting limply, and two other struggling up.  Alpha's gripping his head and using the wall for support.  The other (oh, Mr. Jones!) on one knee with his monster handgun getting ready to cap my comrade. 

Not today.  The first two bursts do little but stagger him.  He screams with the third.  Falls, clawing at his chest, with the fourth.  There's blood at the sixth.  He's tough.  Keep pounding till blood and guts spill onto the floor. I drop the magazine from the wells and reach to swap out another.

The doors to pediatrics fly open as a hose-head charges through.  I double over, ribs cracking, as it shoulder checks me.  The blow knocks me from my feet.  The fresh magazine clatters away.  It screeches, raising a foot, about to curb stomp my head.

Alpha's men open up. 


Time enough to pick myself up once the hose-head drops.  The men gabble at me, but the concussion grenade did enough damage to stop that for the day.  I wave them away and find my hatchet.  Work to do.


Ed limps out into the hall.  Some black guy in sweats with an M-16 moves painfully behind him.  Ed laughs darkly and spits on the hose-head.  "All secure," he reports.

Down the halls gunfire still sounds.


We hold them at the stairs.  The partially clogged well allows one man at a time to get up and the netting set down the gaps prevents them from giving us an explosive present.  We hold them.

Then, they stop trying.  Someone down there tries to push them on.  There's a shot.  Someone isn't pushing them anymore.

They break.  It isn't a dignified retreat, falling back by the numbers, and covering their ass.  Whoever fired that shot takes off at the run and his panic spreads.  They run.

J-boy jeers and the men pick it up. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

101: Besieged, Day 4, part 2

January 6th, 2001


No, no, no!  First the lighting failed, then the steady hammer from the southern barricade fell silent. I bark, "Go, go, go!" and fully open my stride.

The troops holding the south wall are too busy trying and failing to keep the nearly a score of dements off our machine-gunners to acknowledge our arrival.  The same goes for the dements.  Too bad.  M60 cocked back to club I lead my depleted reserve into a headlong charge.
The first of them falls, dead or near to, with a cracked skull.  The second, straddling Sgt Ross, takes the back swing full in the chest.  To my right, Doc stabs again and again with her knife.  On my left, Torress falls as a stray round sneaks past the barricades clutching at his gut.  Damn!  A snarling, barely human face, turns away from J-boy to me, only to fall as his squad mate thrusts with a bayoneted M-16.  Malcolm falls as a heavy pipe leaves his lower leg flopping at the wrong angle.  I step past Ross; rolling over his attacker with a knife, and thrust with all my strength.  The butt of the M60 folds Malcolm's attacker at the waist.  Back, overhead, and down into his exposed neck.  He crumples as Malcolm tries to choke back the screams.

Reaching the barricades I slide in beside the MG loader and set the 60 into one of the abandoned fire ports.  Shapes, real and imaginary, move in the smoke.  This old gun isn't supposed to be used as a battering ram.  With a brief prayer I chamber a round and stroke the trigger.

She fires true, bucking right to left as I walk her across the parking lot.  Over the hammering of the 60,  J-boy orders the able to ready grenades.  "Hold fire!"  Count one, two, three.  "Frags out!"  Damaged ears can't hear them bounce out, but I can here the shouts of alarm in the silence, the sharp explosions, and the cries of the not yet dead.

"Jay!  Fall back with wounded to Bravo."  I return my 60 to her port.  "We'll follow ASAP."  I make quick eye contact with Freeman and Smith on the 50.  "Let's make some noise!"


The air in the generator room is chocked with concrete dust and the harsh ammonia stink of C4.  Breathing into the crook of my arm I shuffle towards the wall of generators.  Please, please, let it be the switch.  Blink back tears.  Stifle my cough.  Find the controls more by feel then sight. 

Yes, the master's been thrown open.  There's a comforting snick as the circuit closes.  The fuel line is still locked open.  I prime the pump and, with a prayer to the Saint, turn it over.  The generator coughs on the polluted air.  For a heart seizing moment it sputters and chokes, before sparking awake.  Above the lights flare and dim back to their normal levels.


Smoke and thick dust swirl behind Alpha's disappearing form as he heads off to the generators.  I keep time with our new friend.

A solid boot rolls it's bulk over.  Keening cries and thick blood seep from ruptures and tears across the torso.  More like road-rash than sausage.  Ten shells of 00 buck.  It should be sausage split all open.

I "think" at it as hard as I can.  Ugly, it is your unlucky day.  Yellow, pain-filled eyes blink trying to focus on my.  I can only hope it heard.  Try anything, I will take your eyes...

One of my American comrades approaches with chains, padlocks, and a box of dusk masks from storage.  Good.  I grab on of the arms, be thankful it is not your hose, and drag it towards a floor to ceiling support.  The lights come on as I make our guest secure.  Good, very good.

Closing the door into our improvised cell I detail two of the men to guard the door.  "If that door opens, regardless of what you see, shoot.  If you even think that door is about to open, shoot.  Understood?  Good!"

Coughing, Alphabit returns.  I hand him a mask, "Cover-up, comrade."  Slip one over my own face hiding my grin, "There's more inside.  I can feel it."

He nods while adjusting his own own to place. 

"Let's find them."


Bravo's been reenforced by Lt Sanya Belski's men from the east side.  He reports they've set their traps and deadfalls before falling back.  J-boy and two others are on the second floor manning the murder holes.  I lay the 60 down the long hall to reception.  Smith and Beebe knock together and set the 50 up facing down to ER.

Doc's shouting for supplies as she works on Torres.  I need to work to close her out and focus.  Sharp gunfire and muffled thuds mark the approach of our enemy.  Bleed them the whole way.  The first survivor staggers into view.  I pick up the trigger slack.


Mud and bare wet prints darken the falling concrete dust.  I lead Alpha, Ballard, and Shriver into the maze of maintenance tunnels.  The Zver and their beasts ran.  We can't move as blindly.  We can feel the assault gaining speed above and we're stumbling in the fucking dust.

Alpha finds the bootprint, clear as day, under the emergency lighting at the rearmost stairwell.  He spits to the side, "Witch."

Da, our friend Jones, I know it.  Couldn't resist, could you?  Ah, Nikita said it, "We will bury you!" 


We hold them at Bravo and chop them to pieces.  They can't get past, but by the sounds of our traps, they'll eventually work their way around.  We're being flanked.  Doc's stabilized Torress and the other wounded have been pulled up a story and back.  We can move. 

A stretcher team shifts Torress.  Doc nestles in beside me.  "Head back."

"Not letting you have all the fun!"

Right, fun.  "Take the belt.  Belski!"


"Cease fire."

We let the fire slacken and stop.  A passing moment of silence, then another that stretches.  In the dark and smoke a shape approaches.  A muffled shout brings out another.  We let them come close, just feet away, before emptying rest of the belt down the hall. 

Doc, Belski, and I fall back, undisturbed.

We find a spilled duffel with small arms and shells scattered across the landing.  They were ours, captured arms, what are they doing here?  Never the mind.  The sound of gunfire draws us. 

Third floor, riverside, by the fire escapes.  We left our civilian laborers here, safe to the rear.  I recognize the sharp stutter of Ed's Papasha.  Alpha curses and leads at a sprint.  I bite back the order to stay him.  Wouldn't be obeyed and just give us away.  Don't get killed.


Back and up.  The first floor is theirs.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

100: Besieged, Day 4, part 1

Paterson, January 6th, 2000

"What the fuck are they waiting on!  George, how do we get them to do something stupid?"  The energy in my voice is answered by smiles from the boys.  I feel fresh and ready. 

George smiles, "They already are."

Leo eagerly interrupts.  "Da, he gives us time to heal.  Another day and we push him."

"Been making plans, Leo?"

"My friends, when do I not?"  He traces routes on the map.  "We can ex-filtrate a team out the north and to the east along the river.  We swing around behind their positions at the sub-train yards.  Come out of the dark and...."


A shiver runs through the halls.

Alpha's first off the mark.  He's out the door, rifle in hand, shouting, "Basement!"

Heavy gunfire starts up from south side. 

"You wanted them to do something stupid?"  George asks as he slots a magazine into his rifle.

"Rhetorical, purely rhetorical.  Leo, follow Alpha."  I know explosives.  "That was a breaching charge, not an attempt to bring down the building.  Take a fire team.  He'll need reinforcements."  Leo leaves at a sprint.

"George, take charge of the civvies."  He frowns.  "They're our responsibility.  I doubt Hizzoner's men have any compassion for them."

"Right, I'll raid the armory, pull some shotguns."  Damn, I should have done that earlier.

Contact reports start to flow in.  South face is under heavy suppressing fire.  A follow-up reports smoke to their front.  East side reports light contact.  Just to pin them in place Lt Belski opines. The situation is under control.

And it all changes in a moment.  Outside our meeting room the last of my reserve opens fire, a eardrum wracking mad minute.  Doc leans out the door to add her weight to their fire.  Inside, I receive hurried contact reports from the east and south, dements to their rear.  More explosions inside and outside the walls, mostly to the south.

The fire just outside dies, replaced by single spaced M-16 retorts.  Doc gives me a thumbs-up.  East reports situation stable.  No contact with the south.  Again, no contact with the south.  I can still hear the fire.

I signal to Doc, get ready to move, "South!".  On the tac-net I signal, "Belski, execute Uniform, repeat Uniform."

I hear his acknowledgement as I head out the door.  Dements are on the inside.  We'll bust through to the men on the south or avenge them.  I have to trust Leo and Alpha to close the hole.



I take the stairs half a flight at a time, one hand on the rail, and one on the CAWs stock.  The men I pulled curse and follow as they can.  It won't do any good if we get there late, and St. Patrick help me, I know I'm already late.  At least one of the hose-heads is inside.  I felt the touch of its evil across my scalp as I hit the stairs to the basements. 

Bellows of rage meet me as I round the last landing.  A handful of dements charge from the generator room.  A short burst bounces shot from the floor, walls, and through them.  Bellows turn to screams. 

My men have my back.  "Hose-head inside!  Hold and cover!"  Crouching, I swap magazines before duck walking down the stairs.  Claws tickle against my mind.  Where are you? 

There's a pair of double doors into maintenance storage before you get to electrical proper.  As I approach them the generator fails.  In the brief flicker of darkness before the battery lights kick in a second wave of dements boils forth.

Close enough to feel, the sharp bursts of M-16 fire pass over my head.  In the confined space they fall.  The doors to maintenance crash open and a dark, lumpen blur slams into me, clawed hands flailing, the vest shedding under it's strike.

Pity about his cousin's leathery replacing my old inserts.  The creature's claws slid away.   Staggered, I push back at the beast with my CAW.  My men scream at me to drop as it steps away.  Instead, I set the CAW in my hip and let it have five rounds of buckshot.  It drops to one knee and the CAW comes up to my shoulder.  I flip the selector to semi-auto and space the rounds until it drops. 

Ears ringing I shout the men forward.  "Secure the intersection!"  Entirely on their own, hands pluck another magazine from my webbing and slam it home.  The ugly bastard on the floor keens and curls tight around itself.  I shift to cover it so the shot doesn't bounce into my troops.

Leo rounds the stairs, alone, his cold blue eyes taking in the scene.  "We need chains," I tell him.  "It's still alive."

Monday, February 4, 2013

099: Beseiged Day 3

January 4th, 2000

"Damn it, George, what are they waiting for?"

"They want to wear us down."

The sniping has been going back and forth for over two days now.  We have some casualties, all minor, from spalling and expended rounds.  They have fatalities. Unfortunately, they have many more men. 

"Why don't they just rush us.  They have enough to human wave us."

Leo signals with a grunt.  I give him the floor.

"They don't have the conviction."  He pound his fist into his palm.  "You need to be dedicated, wholly dedicated, to the cause to throw yourself away like that.  They may fear their commanders, but it isn't enough to convince them.  I blame American individualism."

Nervous laughter fills the room.

"See, is good for something."


The tower's still burning.  North wind is still holding.  Fire hasn't spread so far.

Wish we could make more flaming rounds, but the stocks of catalyst are very low.  We had enough for two more rounds.  Alpha and Sterns put together another cannon.  We've got one pointing south and the second on the east side.  If we find them building up troops in a building on either side then we'll try and repeat our success from yesterday.

 No point in burning a building till then.


I'm feeling better by the day.  If that fool gives us enough time we'll be strong enough to go with Leo's plan and take the fight to them.  Give me that time.


I take a tour of the facility.  Our civilian dependents have been plenty busy.  I know they have as much on the line as we do, but damn is it gratifying to see them throwing in as hard as they can.  Most of them have acquired multipurpose tools for work and mayhem.  God knows they've had the time to learn how to use them.

Maybe I should have George move arms up to their area.  With Ed conscious and responsive now I have someone I can spare to oversee them.  Need to think about it.

Morale is good.  We've given much harder than we've received.  The men know how they'd take the hospital.  The fact that Hizzoner's bullies haven't shows how much better we are than them.  We can beat them.  Give me time.



Down in the stone roots of the world, One and another and a man-thing crawl.  The image is wrong, 'man-thing' is no more a man than One, but the body is so close.  One knows the blood would be as sweet.  It's thoughts are shielded well.  Would it feel the same as a man when One fed?  Bright quicksilver fears fading into dark waters as the last of the heat left the veins.  Maybe?

A cold spike of though punctures One's back.  "Be-Have."  Yes, man-thing, not man-prey.  Two could take him, but this is not the time, not when many prey are so near.

Focusing again on their task One and another reach for the painful, bright thoughts of prey through the stones.  They scuttle together, closer and closer, with the stranger stumbling behind.  It cannot feel the surroundings as they do, instead it brings its own light, dull and red.  They wait on it.

Hard to share thoughts with it.  It's shields are strong.  If they weren't it would be prey.  A prickle at one's back reminds One not to think on such things.

"Hic locus est?," It mutters to itself.  "Venire diu tulimus."  Like unshriven it burbles nonsensically to itself.  It will never be made right.  It is not One's task to make it right.  One tries to communicate distance; close, near, touchable, just above.

Jones sighs unhappily.  Right through the ceiling.  It is a long way to haul the explosives.  Never mind, he will do it.  Breach the floor and let the Bloodkin and their surviving shriven animals inside.  Let Paterson's men focus on the enemy within.  Then the one without can fall on them.  Yes, a good plan.  

With any luck the Bloodkin will die as well.  Their hunger, so carefully hidden, is visible every time their ugly yellow eyes fall on him.  He isn't food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

098: Beseiged - Day 2

Paterson, January 3rd, 2000

Early morning.  Doc and Ross agree, we're not making our expected recovery.  Well, Doc agrees.  Ross always had his suspicions, but now he's been fully briefed.  Stupid fears, as our medical second, he should have been brought up to speed much earlier.

The problem, they think, is the shrapnel, odd shaped fragments dug in deep, aren't migrating to the surface as they should.  Should.  SHOULD.  Ah, how abnormal becomes normal.  I can feel their hard knots in the muscles and under the skin sawing away as I move.  Thank god for pain killers in all their glory.

Ross'll put Doc under the knife first.


"Damn, George, what are they doing?"

"Harassing, sniping, probing.  Last night was their easiest shot at us.  Now, now they have to think it through again."

Leo grunts, "They want us alive.  Otherwise, I'd just burn us out."

We glumly contemplate that option.  Leo's eye's light up.  "Burn!"

He gets up, using his cane, and hobbles to the door.  "I got to see Alpha."


Late morning.  Doc's shoveling it in.  Mouthful after happy mouthful of high calorie, irreplaceable MREs.  She's sitting beside a bedpan filled with a double fistful of metal shards.

Ross still looks dumbstruck.  "The shrapnel was easy once I could reach it!  Her incision kept trying to clot over and close itself.  Like watching the healing process in time lapse.    They were encapsulated in this watery goo, almost pus, material.  I saved some for later examination."  He keeps shaking his head.  "Once I pulled the foreign matter I only had to suture the grossest cuts." 

"Are you up for doing it again?"

"Yes, Major.  I..."

"Give me another hour," Doc interrupts.  "Ross, you can assist."

"You sure?"

"Absolutely!"  Her leg bounces restlessly.  "Turn down the chance to cut, cut, cut on my commander.  Never!"


"What is this?"

Leo stands proudly in the hall by his 'contraption'.  "Is simple.  This was oxygen cylinder, we take off bottom.  Don't worry, was empty already.  This is a full Nitrogen cylinder.  Together they make air-cannon.  We fill IV bags with flammables, they break when they land, spread fuel all around."

"And how do they ignite?"

"Haven't figured that.  Got any ideas?"


"Why, yes."  I take up a pen.  "See if Griffith has any of this in inventory."  My professors would shit themselves if they saw what use I put my college chemistry classes to.


I'm like a mother hen, filling my chicks with wisdom, before going under the knife.  Leo and George take it with good humor, but George has long past stopped taking notes.

Doc places one hand on my shoulder.  "Kat, enough.  They know what to do.  You'll be back in a few hours."  She waves at the two men.  "Scat.  I'll send a runner once she's out of surgery."

Doc's still moving stiffly.  Is this really a good idea?  Probably not, but I need to be up before the inevitable happens.  They'll get it together soon and there's at least on hose-head out there.  "Fine, get out of here."

George salutes, "See you after your nap."

Leo just nods, one fiend to another.


I wake from nightmares to gunfire and screams.  I grope wildly for a weapon as strong arms force me down.  Another pair of hands pin my arms.  Shouted orders sound over the screams.  "Kat, stand down!  Kat, stop, stand down!"

Doc, Doc's voice.  I try to still myself.  The gunfire's far away, outside.  Screams are coming from the next ward.  "What... Who?"

"Probing attack.  They're not pushing."  Yet, I finish, yet.  "Eddie woke about ten minutes ago.  He's... not responsive.  I got him strapped in.  But I'm not going to block his airway."

Fog's clearing some.  "Sedate him?"

"To save your eardrums?  No.  He's experienced major head trauma and been unconscious for 48 hours.  Damned if I'll put him back under."

"Right, right."

Ross rubs his ribs.  "One hell of a punch, Major."

"Sorry," didn't realize I hit him.

"No worries."  He hands me a pair of foam shooter's ear plugs.  "Put these in and rest."

"Yeah," Doc barks, "we'll wake you before you die."

"Work on your bedside manner."

"When you can get a second opinion.  Not until then."


Later, once I've gotten past the groggy stage, Doc hands me my own collection of junk in a pan.  Add it to my collection she tells me.

People collect the damnedest things; cards, cans, rubber bands, and twine.  I should start a scrap metal collection.  Nah.  I hand the pan full of shrapnel back to Doc.  "Give this to Alpha.  Tell him to recycle it back at them."

"Ooo, that's a good idea!"


Hours later, walking without shrieking in pain is it's own reward.

"So, Leo, you've test fired it already?"

"Water bags only, but yes."


He grins happily.  "It has range!  I put 'rounds' pretty far into the river from the top floor.  Tirado, did math stuff."  Tirado's one of Alpha's 3rd squad men.  "He things if we haul it up into one of the towers we send it several blocks."

"As far as Isham?"


"Did you get the flammables?"

"Da!  We got four rounds.  You got a target?"

"They've got another OP on top of that apartment complex outside Isham.  Lots of broken windows over there.  See if you can put a few rounds in after dark."


Manhattan's skyline is lit with flames.

I thought we missed completely with the first round.  There was nothing for a long while.  We waited on a sign.

Leo gave a happy woop before handing me his thermal sight.  We'd hit around the 5th story.  It was inside and burning merrily.  Luck had given us a broken window at the right height.  To be fair, most of the north side was broken windows.

Tirado tweaked the angle on Leo's toy.  Round two went out once the fires became visible.  That round struck low on the tenth floor.  Flames dripped down the exterior and didn't catch.  The dry interior furnishing though caught from the splash.

Maybe the roof OP finally smelled smoke or someone looking back from the front lines outside Allen noticed the lights.  In the end it didn't matter much.  Flames spread, the tower burned, and choking black smoke rolled on the cold north wind down into their base in Isham Park. 

Someone, I forget who, asked me if I was worried that the fires would spread.  So long as the north wind holds let it burn.  I'm not who I was anymore.  'You've come a long way, baby.'

Monday, October 29, 2012

097: Beseiged - Day 1

Paterson, January 2nd, 2001

George joins the command meeting in the wards.  Leo's mobile, barely.  Alpha's getting around fine, lucky boy.  Doc and I share the largest room available with our own comfy beds.  A space heater whirls noisily on the corner.

"Damn George, how the hell did we make it to daylight?  I expected everything to fall apart once night fell."

He shrugs, "Without the tracks and the gun they'll have to revise their plans.  If Leo scored on Jones as well they might not have an overall commander on scene either.  If they're like other strongman militia's we've seen, they don't encourage independent action."

"I'll take the time they give me.  How are preparations?"

"West side access has been closed.  The access doors have been booby trapped and welded shut.  It will take some clearing once this is finished, but it should strongly discourage them."

"I admire your confidence," Leo grumbles.

"West side access is very limited.  If they do manage to breach, we'll have plenty of time to shift our reserve as they try to advance down those halls.  Alpha and his boys have all sorts of nasty surprises waiting for them." George smiles.

Alpha interrupts, "trip-wires, nail bombs, a few claymores.  Murder holes down the interior corridors.  Stairwells are full of furniture, so they can't get upper floor access without getting deep into the interior.  We'll make them pay."

"North and east?"  Yeah, we're very clever, and very outnumbered.

"Weaker," George continues,  "Too much glass frontage to defend and the ER on the east side was designed for easy access.  We'd already emplaced forward and fall back fighting positions when we occupied the facility.  The troops know how to fight.  We'll make them pay for every room and fall back point.  If all goes sour, we preform a fighting retreat to the second floor, south side.  The rafts and assault boat are secured and camouflaged by the shore.  We have enough capacity to exfiltrate all the troops."

"And our charges?"

"Let's not let it come to that."

"How about we arm them as well," Alpha suggests, "We've seen what this bastard does to his workers.  They're as good as dead if we leave them."

I shake my head.  "Last resort.  I hate to think what would happen to our men, falling back under fire, to a position held by untrained, unsteady civilians.  We're looking at enough casualties without inflicting our own.  Keep them working on support duties.  Call them force multipliers."


George and Alpha are back at duties.  Leo stays to argue a stronger course of action.

"Major, respectfully, we need to push them while we can."

"Give me options first.  I'm not writing a check."

"They have little night vision.  We go raiding after dark.  Kill some of these scum.  Sow some confusion.  Maybe find Jones again.  Finish it."  He mimes a pistol.

"Who's we.  You, Alpha?  Doc had to be carried here.  I hobbled in by burning syringes of pain-killer.  Ed and Root still haven't regained conscious.  Tell me, who?"

"Me, yes.  I take J-boy, maybe a few others.  We saw more combat in one month than these fucks have seen all year.  We can do this."

"No, you can't.  You heard George.  We're facing company frontage to the east and south.  Even with 'limited' night vision they're only covering a block.  You're not stealthing in and out."

He grimaces, "I can."

"When you walk without a stick.  I could see the pain when you came into the room.  Stuff's still working its way out.  Found any in your bedding?"

He looks away.  "Yes, and you?  Yes, and more coming up.  Our busy little friends will get it out.  We just need the time.  Time that Hizzoner seems to be giving us.  Go get some sleep.  They'll wake us if anything happens.."


Early afternoon, they sent us two men in a HMMWV.  White flag, slow approach, up Broadway to the ER lot and wait.  I take my time walking up to the third floor.  Least I can do, they asked for me by name.

The position is reinforced to chest height.  All I've got to do is drop if I come under fire.  Fortunately, the elevated train cuts into long line of sights from the east.  Still, I feel exposed.

"I'm Major Paterson.  You are you."

"Sgt. Cal Younger, assigned to Reconstruction Team 94 under the legal government of the United States.  According to Presidential Directive HB-7886, you are to stand down and submit your command to the highest ranking member of the civil administration for further orders.  Will you comply?"

Really?  Really?  Please, ma'am, put up your guns and come along quietly.  Who do you think you're fooling.  "And that would be you, Sergeant?"

"No, ma'am.  Gerald Thornton is acting administrator for the New York Municipal District.  I'm to act as escort."

"And these gentlemen surrounding our position?"

"Duly authorized militia for Manhattan."

"And Hizzoner?"

"Recognized as the legitimate governmental authority for NYC."

Recognize this you fucking slaver, rapist, bastard.  "Go to hell!"

I drop.  From rooms on either side of me Leo's MAG and Squad 3's SAW open up on the soft-skinned Hummer.  It gets into reverse, but loses control before it leaves the lot crashing backwards into elevated supports.  Sgt. Younger, somehow surviving the fire directed at his transport, pulls himself from the roof hatch and jumps down.  Leo's MAG walks over him.  He twitches and falls. 

I hear the whoompf of leaking fuel catching.  The vehicle begins to burn.  There's no screams from the cab.  His driver must already be dead.

The tense silence that has held over the block breaks as Hizzoner's 'duly constituted militia' fire blindly at our south side positions.  I hear the louder crack of our measured replies from firing slits set inside south facing rooms. 

Did they actually think that would work?


Sporadic fire continued through out the afternoon.  We're still in fine shape.  One minor injury from a round that improbably passed through a slit and spalled fragments off the far wall.  He's back at duty.

They try to keep it up after night falls.  That proves to be a poor idea on their part.  They're trying to wear us down, but every one of them has to take time to adjust and hunt down a target in a dark building on an overcast night while we can see the ghostly green or their exposed faces.  Yeah, as expected.  Hurting them, casualties and morale, much more than lack of sleep will hurt us.

That isn't even counting Leo, not resting as ordered, with his SVD and thermal sight.  I hear he's getting his jollies by looking for their camouflaged OPs and letting them know. 

They stop after losing more than a handful.  Leo presses me to send a strike team out now that their observers have pulled back.  I tell him no again.  They may have pulled back into their building, but they're still there.  So, no, no way.

Besides, I can feel something brewing.  This isn't all of it for tonight.  Not by a long shot.


Near on 0300 our fans on the south side make a mass showing.  Nearly a hundred small arms firing from the apartments across 218th Street into Allen Pavilion.  We reply where we can, but mainly wait for the rush.  Probably along the east end once we've shifted south. 

The tower OP reports movement on the thin strip of land to our north.    I commit our reserve.  The floods we've shifted from Baker's Field get lit.  It isn't even close.

Thirty-odd dements and a hose-head trying to sneak in.  Sure, I see the rational.  Get crazy suicide mobs into our positions from the rear and we'll be too busy to repel the frontal rush.  Except the ground floor doors are welded shut and they don't have ladders.  I almost feel sorry for the dements, almost.  I'm really sorry that the hose-head got away into the river.

I'm not sorry at all for the men who rushed us at the sound of fire from the far side of Allen.  Their assault was haphazard and soon petered out.  We accounted for another 25 or so? 

No casualties on my part.  We can do this all day.  All day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

096: New Year's Day

Paterson, January 1st, 2001

We need Moon-Pie back, the Serious Six plowing down Broadway doesn't have the same ring as the Magnificent Seven.  Hizzoner had some serious strength blocking the road.  Twenty men behind impromptu barricades and two squads of mech infantry in tin box M113s.  They're all dead or run. 

Root's down, his body looks half-flayed, but the little buggers in his bloodstream have already stopped the leaking.  Doc's running on adrenalin and morphine.  Only Leo doesn't bear any marks.  Tac-nets full of voices.  Sounds like a platoon or so of the mayor's men are swinging down 218th Street to cut off our retreat.  1st and 3rd squads are moving down with the Hummer and trucks to chew them over.

We stash Root's unconscious body away in a maintenance closet and push on.



He stares in disbelief at the twin columns of smoke rising on Broadway.  Sgt Devlon, the track commander, ratchets the slide on his Mk-19.  "Those are catastrophic kills, Major."  His voice growls, "My men are dead."

Jones shakes the fugue away.  He works the track's radio, contacting the blocking forces on Seaman and Park Terrace.  "Move up to 218 and swing towards Broadway.  We'll box them between you and the positions in Isham."  He cranes around to the Sgt standing on the M577s roof.  "Pound them hard."

"Our FO is good.  He'll call, I'll kill."

Survivors of the fighting up Broadway trickle into the park.  Their panicked flight takes them right into and through Jones' infantry reserve.  Whatever they say, it catches, and the mass of men begin to stream away south. The blocking force on 50th, another 10 men, notice the retreat and, one by one, pull a fade to the west.

Jones climbs from the track, screaming and waving his pistol, but the men won't be stopped.  As he points it at their fleeing backs, Sgt Devlon intervenes.  "Major, deal with them later!  Carl reports contact in Broadway." 

Grenade explosions and small arms fire sound from the corner of Isham.  Jones sprints back to the track.  "I'll kill them all!" 

"MILGOV's in line first."  Sgt Devlon keys his mike, "Talk to me Carl."


Note: Mike volunteered to write this raw POV from Leonid. Thank him for me!  More later this in you already read it.


I expect heavy fighting for this engagement, not much of a stealth mission this time, I grab my MAG machine gun. We advance up Broadway, I instruct on bounding overwatch, the Major and I take turns covering the team's advance with our machine guns. She is a solid commander and a quick study, but I could fill volumes with what she doesn't know about combat.

We near the park, they have made a little bunker with stacked cars. Hose it with fire keep their heads down, Alpha hits them with a couple grenades. I advance to mop up. Shit! Claymores, I back off a bit, command detonated no tripwires so we must have got them all. A single grenade impacts near the bunker. Moments later, thump thump thump in the distance, that sounds like... "GET DOWN!" they have an automatic grenade launcher. Rounds impact around the team. I yell move to cover get out of the kill zone! I head in the direction of the fire. A couple more bursts of fire as I make it to the corner. I take a quick peek and down about 100m is an APC of some sort with a pintle mounted Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher. I prep a LAW rocket. These things are light and handy but pack nowhere near the range or punch of an RPG. I check one more time then pop around the corner for a quick shot. I see instantly that I hit a track. The APC spins about like a waterbug. The driver abandons it. It is too close to the wall for anymore indirect fire. Mission kill.

I look around, Doc had moved this way when the shelling started, I motion her to me. Come on let's see if we can circle around and finish that thing off. We sprint across the street and luckily for us the gunner on the APC had either abandoned it or didn't see us. There are people in the buildings. This is much bigger than we thought. This is an all out frontal assault.

We are alongside the church, there are bad guys around the corner, we trade shots. Someone throws a grenade. It lands close enough to be deafening. I catch a couple fragments in the vest, Doc is not so lucky. She says she can get through a window in the front, I cover for her. I see a man round the corner with a pistol in hand, and before I can react he fires. FUCK I'm hit, punched through my vest. What the hell is that? I feel blood inside my vest, it feels like it broke a rib or two. Arms numb, my weapon feels like it weighs 200 kilos. I can't bring it up. He fires again the world spins around me. The sharp crack of an M-16 from above my head snaps me out of it. Doc is in the window. She hits him square but it seems to have little effect beyond taking his attention off me. Rounds whiz by me from behind and I hear the familiar staccato bark of an M-60. I use this opportunity to get my ass around the corner. The window! I heave myself through it. Shout for Doc, don't want to get myself shot by her trigger happy ass now. No answer. I move into the room where she was and she's down, bleeding bad. I struggle to remain conscious and drag her to cover. They'll be looking for us soon. I find a large closet get us inside and close the door. Pull out a first aid kit and stop her bleeding. She's lost a lot of blood.

Shouts from outside, they are looking for us. I recognize that voice, now I know why that fuck with the pistol looked familiar. Jones. He is using his mind tricks, he tells them where we are hiding. He wants us alive if possible. That's not going to happen. I have got to take the edge off this pain clear my head. Let's see what the good doctor has in her bag of tricks. The pain is so distracting that I'm having trouble reading this damn Roman alphabet. I think one of these is morphine, shit I just jab both into my leg and wait.

I feel the morphine wash over me, I can think now. I'm sorry Doc, but being his prisoner would be bad, very bad. And ten times worse for you being a woman. I have seen how women POWs are treated. Maybe I can bluff our way out but if not, this will finish us for sure. I hope you can forgive me. I get out a couple grenades, pull the pins on both and hold the spoons down, and wait.

Someone is moving outside the door. He calls me by name. Tells me to open the door and come out. I tell him I can't my hands are full, you open the door. He does, slowly. He's young, practically a kid. I tell him go on shoot me bitch and we will all die. I'm not sure if he even heard me, he was fixated on the grenades in my hands. Finally he calls out grenade and closed the door. I think they are going to wait for me to get tired and drop them. Or from the way I probably look, wait for me to bleed out.

We now have a chance to get out. I carefully put the pin back in one grenade and secure it. This is a good heavy wooden door. No sheep's wool or children's tears here. I let the spoon go, open the door a crack and toss the grenade out. It cooked long enough that it may have gone off in the air. The blast rattles the hinges on the door. I open it, two men down. Good. I throw Doc over my shoulder and head for the window. I drop her through and follow. They must have manned that grenade launcher again, a burst of grenades goes right over my head, impacting harmlessly somewhere down the block. I see Kat and Eddie down the street, they are trying to get to us. Eddie starts my way before I can wave him off and a single shot rings out and his helmet goes flying. Eddie is down. Kat directs fire where she thinks the shot came from while I move as best as I can while carrying the doctor. We make it to cover.

I tell Kat, we need to pull back, there are at least fifty more back there. And Jones is there leading.



Ed's body jerks one more time as the thrown smoke pops.  Damned sniper's making sure of his kill.  I make my way to him and haul is limp form, fireman's carry, onto my back.  I can feel the shrapnel shifting inside me through the morphine.  I'm dead if it works it's way into an artery.  Or maybe not. 

The sound of heavy combat echoes from the north.  My men are vets.  They'll be chewing up these half-trained bully boys of Hizzoner's.  We need to extract ourselves.

Leo's hauling Doc.  I've got Ed.  Alphabit takes point.  I think he's the only one of us not running on opiates.  We're a block away when we hear the trucks and another track.

I order us off the road into the shattered frontage of an office building.  "Leo, is that the track from the park?"

"Nyet, LAW took the track and forward wheel.  It's not moving."

"Great, they got fucking more.  Alpha, shift Doc and Ed to the back of this building.  Leo, up top, we're going to improvise."

I've had the joy of emplacing my share of mines.  Wish I had a few of the big bastards now.  We've got four of the M72 LAWs between us.  We'll ambush from the roof, four painful floors up, where's my elevator.

From the roof we can hear two sources of diesel engines coughing their way north.  Sounds as if they split their convoy into two lines of approach.  One's way west, probably on Seaman or Indian road, the others pushing up Broadway accompanied by the squeal of tracks.

I feel like long hours pass, but it can't be more than minutes, before the first truck lurch into view.  Another follows no more than 30 feet behind.  Then a tank, a fucking tank, big gun, turret, and everything.  "Leo, I don't want it anymore."  We prep our tubes and set them beside us.  "We'll fire when the tank is right below.  It's your target.  I'll take the lead truck.  Then I'll get the second.  Your call with the last LAW.  Hit the tank again if it needs it or get the truck behind."

"And then?"

"Frags down the line.  Then we run."

He shares a grim pained grin.

The trucks, as expected, are packed with troops.  Hizzoner must not have enough functioning transport to haul all the men for this op at once.  I don't have any pity left in me as I stand and fire.  The LAW spears down through the cab killing the driver and shattering the fuel tanks below him.  Flaming fuel splashes everywhere.  The men, now torches, flail wildly.  The slap of concussion and as the tank's turret lifts away tells me Leo's down his duty.  The second truck has swerved and stopped as I bring the second LAW on target.  It strikes the bed of the cargo area, or maybe one of the men, turning the troop carriage into a shrapnel filled hell.  A handful of survivors stagger out and eat the first grenade.

Leo and I lob the remaining frags down the street where the few trucks left have pulled over and begun deploying their squads.  We don't stay to look for results.  Down the stairs, shoulder our wounded and out the back.  It'll take them time to reorganize their survivors and even more to get the courage to advance.  We take advantage of it.


Hizzoner's men are packing more than small arms.  On the corner of 218 and Broadway one of our 3/4 ton trucks burns.  The stench of burning flesh is strong again. 

There's four men down in the triage with Sgt Ross and Jana working at a fever pitch.  "Doc's out," I tell him before he can ask. 

"Is she stable!"

"Yes!"  He points to a corner, never taking his eyes from his work.


George is coordinating from my HQ with Aron manning the 'switchboard'.  He's got our map of the local area set up and markers placed all along our perimeter. 

"Damn," I take in the situation at a glance, "they've got men all along Broadway and 218.  Numbers?"

"Unknown, but lots.  Prisoner we took says they had 12 trucks carrying ten men each, three M113s, and a tank."

"Scratch their armor.  Two of the tin-cans and the tank are confirmed kills.  Leo got a mobility kill on the last one.  It's not moving without a wrecker.  They made two trips with the trucks." 

George winces doing the number in his head.  "Reinforced company."

"We whittled them down a bit."  And I let him know just how many.