A clockwork boy part 11

War and Savagery in the Aftermath by Alvin Foster, 2050.
Jared Stone American University press, second edition.

There had been and still is debate on the Nature of war and whether man can break away from the politics that lead to war. Sadly the Aftermath has proven that Clauswitz was both correct and wrong. War is not always the result of politics and failed diplomacy. In the Aftermath we have once more learned that war can be and often is nothing more than the savage will of a leader or people who often have no real aim other than to kill and destroy usually under the banner of Survival.

The Idealistic belief that words can stop violence refused to consider that both sides had to want to talk and reach an accord which is rarely the case till one side has been pummeled into submission. This method of diplomacy has proven effective for thousands of years the most recent examples of “Asymetrical Diplomacy”*1, would include Kronnen the Warlord, and the Divine King of the Holy Empire whose three year war with the Safe Zone led to the complete destruction of Little Rock in 2039

Not usually included under the heading of War would be the situation that the Zone and really all survivors faced during and more specifically after the dead, Raiders.

Many myself included have labeled the ten Years after the Dead stopped walking as the Raider wars, which one could argue started with the organization of several bands of raiders under one leader, effectively creating an army with the express purpose of attacking Hilton head island to seize the Enclaves supplies and leave them in ruins.

In the beginning the Raider attacks seemed random and scattered, but once the war was over and all the information that had been gathered was studied. It became apparent that one or more people who led Raider bands actively organized large multi band war parties against not just small unorganized communities of survivors who held supplies the raiders wanted, and posed no threat, but as a tool against the Zone drawing its military forces out into the wilds in what looks like an attempt to open up the recovering interior of the zone to attack. This attack thankfully never happened or the Zone would have ceased to exist.

We know that the final Raider warlord, who died fighting against the forces led by Jared Stone and his brother, (see the death of Jared Stone, Hero or common Joe, appendix 3), Had been with the Forces on Hilton head island. I will not here address the speculation, or even outright belief by many that the Raider chieftain in question was the Some how reincarnated Russian killer who had stalked Jared Stone and his survivors during the dead years till killed in personal combat with Jared Stone.

What is known as a fact that with the Last Raider chief/Warlord’s death the Raiders east of the Mississippi River virtually ceased to exist, and the remaining bands either went west or were wiped out in two years time.

.
Hilton head Airport.

Fires flickered in the wreckage of one hangar and what might have once been an office. Henry, flanked by two SF soldiers limped across the tarmac towards a Hanger that the Guard had found prisoners the raiders had been holding.

It had been a brutal fight and if the raiders had not been distracted by the scarred folks it would have been even worse.

He paid no attention to the guardsmen who were collecting the bodies of the dead raiders and scarred folk alike and feeding them into a fire. Destroying the brain and burning corpses had become pretty much standard with the survivors of the zombie apocalypse.

He entered the hangar and saw the dirty, traumatized former prisoners and had to push back the anger as his gaze shifted to the five Raiders who had been taken prisoner when the guard seized the hangar.

Henry gazed dispassionately at the raiders who knelt on the floor of the hangar under guard. Out of all the stories he had heard in the last few years, this one was one of the oddest. According to the survivors of the raiders attack, these five raiders had gotten the hangar closed up then drove off repeated attacks by the scarred folk and freed the prisoners they were supposed to be guarding.

Henry, being a cynic, had thought the only reason they freed their prisoners was the old safety in numbers idea. But He had to admit freeing people that would probably be happy killing their rapists and torturers than in fighting off the scarred ones didn’t quite fit with his cynicism.

Either way the reality was the former prisoners were demanding the raiders lives be spared.

“what exactly are you wanting from me” Henry asked Sergeant Alonzo Gonzales, late of the South Carolina National Guard.

“Would your people be willing to take our prisoners. Because if my people take them, I can promise you no one in the Astoria would give a damn that I promised to spare their lives and frankly we don’t have a prison or cells to hold them and if we did we damn sure don’t have the supplies to feed them for years on end.” Gonzales said.

Henry looked at the two SF men who accompanied him, He wasn’t sure he had the authority to commit Sullivan to anything but the two SF men didn’t give him a clue.

Okay what would Chris do… He asked himself and managed not to grin. Chris would do what ever he thought was right and tell the council of Sullivan to pound sand if they didn’t like it. Of course Chris knew that Eric Stone and other influential people back on Sullivan would back him to the hilt. Would they back me? He wondered. It was decision time and he either had to step up or admit he wasn’t cut out to be a pathfinder no matter what Chris thought.

His thoughts turned to the radio message he had gotten just as the fighting here was wrapping up and knew what he was going to do.

“Yes, I think we can arrange to take them off your hands, but at the moment I need your men to continue to guard them.” Henry said. “which brings me to my other reason to being here. I need some of your men to clear off the runway and get some kind of signal fires going out there. You see Sergeant, A few guests will shortly be flying in here and I think you really want them to land.” He almost laughed at the googly eyed look of amazement on the sergeants face, which was mirrored by almost every one else who stared at him. “trust me, its happening, assuming they can land those planes.”

Skull creek Marina.

For the first time since the dead had risen, the Marina was full of craft. Many were small craft but several, mostly barges and ferries had the capacity to carry large numbers of people and supplies.

The raiders who had been left behind to guard the Marina were confident in their strength, they knew that the residents of the island were to preoccupied with defending their own little patches of Hilton head to be out searching for the base the Raiders had to have set up, and even if one of the enclaves had the time and will, the island was a huge place with a lot of places to search.

Because of that the defenders really didn’t worry about being attacked. Maybe a small band of survivors might try to break in and take things from the raiders but nothing that could be a threat to the hundred men and women from four major raiding groups left to defend their supplies and boats.

Unfortunately the raiders had the training to understand the rules that war follows, one of which is taught through an old saying “When you have secured an area, don’t forget to tell the enemy.”

The USS Constitution came in under headsails alone, ghosting across the water as she closed on the old Marina. The men on her decks were quiet, orders passed by whispers. The old ship answered her helm sharply as she adjusted her heading. Weapons were readied as tension rose.

Seaman Oliver Joss, formerly of the US Navy, wished he was still in the Modern CIC of his old ship. But very few of the old Navy ships were still in use and no one was going to waste fuel to send a modern destroyer down here to lob a few irreplaceable Tomahawks at a Marina. Even though it would have been far safer and easier to do just that.

“steady there Joss” Lt. Commander Hastings whispered. “Just do your job and it will be fine.”

“Aye aye sir.” Joss whispered back.

Ted Rogers stationed atop the Marina club house on the fancy faux widows walk, was so convinced they were secure he paid little attention the landward approaches and none at all to the water. his concentration was to focused on the woman who kneeling in front him doing things he could only call amazing.

His head tilted back, and he gazed at the Stars gasping as she finished. “damn that was incredible where did you learn that thing with ring” he asked. She tugged his piercing and laughed.

“doesn’t Matter” She replied as he looked out over the water wishing he had a cigarette or a cigar.

“wha’z that” he said aloud seeing a large shadow gliding over the face of the water. it took a moment to register that it was a ship, a big ship and before he could shout an alarm. Flames bloomed on the deck of the ship followed by a rumbling almost freight train rattling sound of artillery.

The USS Constitution.

“ Reduce Sail”

“stand by to anchor”

commands rolled across the deck of the ship as the old field pieces fired, the ship came broadside, and the M2 .50 caliber machine guns along her rail opened up. .

at the order, the anchors were dropped, and springs attached to hold the old ship on station while she fired into the marina.

In less than five minutes more than half of the raiders small craft were in flames and going down and still the barrage continued as the heavy fire from the old field pieces shifted to the shore leaving the remaining raider craft to the recoilless rifles and Machine guns.

When the first building down by the water front exploded, Ted realized who ever that was out there was going to level the entire Marina. He leaped from the widows walk and slid down the roof preferring to risk a broken bones on the drop to the ground than to stay up here. His date just a little to slow never made it as a shell impacted the roof and wiped away the walk and part of the roof peak.

He slid off the roof and fell like a sack of rocks, out of control and screaming then landed badly breaking his ankle. He groaned and managed to get to his feet but it hurt. He barely even noticed the scorched and broken body of his date when it landed in the old flowerbed nearby.

The ground shook from the explosions, fires raged up towards the heaven and debris rained down along with the arty fire. Ted limped away, he was a raider, not a soldier and there was no way in hell the massed raider force could stand against who ever had sent that ship. All he knew was it hadn’t been the enclaves and he didn’t want to find out.

“its time” Captain Belkin said calmly as he swept his binoculars across the burning Marina. “Away the small craft its time the Marines earned their back pay”

“Away the small Craft” Hasting repeated.

“I wonder if Admiral Clark or Colonel Ashton will like how many munitions we have expended.”

“I doubt it,” Belkin’s replied. He also wasn’t worried about the issue either. “ According to the briefing I was given before we left port, the Mt. Pleasant Munitions plant #2 is finally officially online so this should be much of a problem. Not that the council will see it that way I am sure.” He paused for a second then smiled coldly. “Besides blowing these murdering, rapist bastards to hell is one good way to waste munitions”

“Amen” Hastings said with a cold grim smile.

Lance Corporal Brian Carter knelt in the bow of the launch as it moved silently through the burning wreckage that floated on the surface. Here and there, some of the raider craft still survived, at least for the moment. many were burning and all of them were listing and slowly sinking from all the holes in their Hulls.

He watched as the docks drew closer, in minutes he would be leaping into what would probably turn into a major fight. He idly touched the short sword that hung at his side, more often than not he and his people engaged in Melee battles, even hand to hand. Since many of the Raiders and violent communities of survivors they had dealt with either had limited ammo for their firearms or none at all.

The zone had plenty, but used it as sparingly as possible so the days of intentional long gun battles with close in artillery and Air support were rare. Not today thankfully, he thought. The orders were to level this place and kill every raider in the area with as much force as possible to make a point to any survivors that might escape to warn others.

That message was simple, the zone had Ammunition, manpower and equipment to spare mess with her and her allies at your peril. It wasn’t exactly true, but the appearance, the belief in what the Zone could do was more of a deterrent than fighting a hundred battles might be.

The artillery barrage from the Guns on the Constitution suddenly stopped and Carter knew he and his squad would be landing in a moment.

The pilot throttled the 30watt electric motor back as he lined up on the dock that Carter and his squad would be disembarking on. To either side of Carters Launch, the other small craft were spreading out as they lined up on their assault points.

What ever the council might have to say about the mission later, Carter was looking forward to the fight. He hated raiders with a passion, and the council could howl all it wanted. The standing orders were to engage and destroy Raiders wherever encountered and if that meant helping out an island full of survivors who might join the Zone then all the better let the damn politicians scream about the fight.

He readied himself as the launch slid up and then its bumpers rubbed against the dock “No Mercy” He called out as he leaped onto the dock his weapon ready. his squad following. They swept down the dock and into the howling chaos shooting down any raider they saw with short controlled bursts.

It wasn’t like the movies, combat never was it was messy, bloody and painful. Even for the survivors. Half an hour later, Carter was squatting with his back against a still standing wall gazing with no show of emotion at the carnage around him. His squad had lost four men, and the last ten minutes of the battle had been all sword and knife work.

He didn’t like watching the light go out of his enemy’s eyes as they died, but it didn’t really bother him either. That was what bothered him, the fact that he wasn’t really bothered by taking another life not any more. The years of the walking dead and since had killed that part of his soul. One day, He hoped that part of himself would come back. Hoped was really the wrong word, He prayed it would come back.

He smiled as the Radio carried by his radio man squawked an message alert signal. “Area secure,” a voice said.

“Thank god” Carter muttered, the next phase of the plan was already in motion and he and his men would soon be back aboard Old Ironsides kicking back and drinking some Old Sullivan whiskey out of the McBride distillery.

Sniper post 1, The Fire house.

One minute things were copasetic, Ori was firing steadily and raiders were dropping. Chris fired one round for every two that Ori got off and the Ammo count was falling like water.

The next moment at least fifty raiders were running towards the station, and they werent stupid about it either. They tossed smoke grenades when five of their numbers went down to Ori’s fire. They used cover, which surprised Chris, but Ori seemed to take it in stride. They even used suppressive fire, which sucked because it worked far better than Chris would have liked.

“I’m out” he called out setting aside his rifle.

“Reload my mags” Ori said tossing him the spent one he had just extracted.

Ori carried a M24A3, which meant a lot of things but the most important from a sniping stand point was that it fired .338 lapua magnums 8.58x70mm, even before the dead it wasn’t a common round on the civilian market and Chris could only figure it was even harder to find now. But Ori seemed to have a lot of them, probably got them from Cache like those P90’s some of the zone guys carried.
It only took a moment to fill the five round box magazine and then a second magazine. And that was about all he had time for.

The raiders got close enough to really open up on the rooftop and were trading fire with Stephanie and the others. It was going to bog down into a siege, Chris thought because every time a raiders head popped up to sight on some one up here on the roof, Ori put a bullet between their eyes so the raiders were firing mostly blind firing over and around what ever cover they had found.

“Grenade” Stephanie yelled as she threw herself down.

Chris actually saw the damn thing, all oval and evil looking. Mocking them with their inability to stop it from blowing them up. God he hated grenades, with out thinking like the old days when he played baseball, his body just responded. His hand came up, fingers closed around the grenade. His eyes widened in protest his brain hollered at his hand to stop.

It slammed into the palm of his hand with force but nothing like an old softball would have . his arm whipped out and he sent the grenade flying right back in the direction it came from.

“Holy crap” Stephanie breathed as the grenade exploded down below.

“Seen that in the moves a few times, but in real life most guys just throw themselves on a grenade.” Ori said as he fired and took out a wounded raider.

“Well I forget to schedule blowing my self up today so I had to return the opportunity.” Chris explained.

“I think they are getting ready to hit the building” Stephanie called out as the raiders deployed more smoke grenades. There was only one reason they should be doing that, and that was to rush the building under cover of the smoke to making it impossible for the defenders to actually see anything to aim at. Unless of course we have thermal, which we don’t and I will insist on having a thermal scope or something in the future, Chris decided.

Stephanie, fired down into the smoke aiming for a point near the door. there was a flurry of blind return fire. She ducked back and a second later something exploded against the buildings wall.

“I thought these people weren’t supposed to have a lot of ammo” Chris said as another explosion shook the building. He reached down into the bag beside his position and pulled out a grenade. Despite his intense dislike of grenades, one could almost say fear, he used them on occasion.

“I think someone miscalculated.” Ori said as more gunfire tore into the building.

“Grenade out” Chris said as he lobbed the grenade over the wall, aiming for where he thought was the most likely point the raiders would be massing to rush the door. he followed it with a second grenade before the first one had even detonated.

The explosions were two seconds apart, followed by moans in the shredded swirling smoke.

“ I think…” Stephanie never finished the sentence. An explosion rippled across the roof, wiping away two men. Tar, gravel, and bits of roof were thrown into the air as a mortar round struck the eastern side of the rooftop. The round had overshot, if it hadn’t Chris and the others would be very dead.

He only had a moment to consider that, before the section of Roof he lay on begin to tilt with a massive groan. “oh shit” He muttered as the bag holding the grenades slid past him to plummet into the hole. His fingers began to lose their grip and he started to slide towards the hole and the orange flicker light with in.

“Got ya” Ori called out as he grabbed Chris wrist.

The radio their only connection with command tumbled into the hole.

“I hate mortars” Chris muttered. Then it went from bad to worse. The raiders below threw more grenades. But then there was another larger explosion, this one was not from a grenade or a mortar, and the roof lurched up, there was a screech of overstressed tearing metal and then everything went wild as the already weakened roof collapsed.

Palmetto Yacht club.

“They are taking the bait” Eric Stone as he turned away from the radio he had been using. When the flanks folded and fled with the barricade force, the purpose had been set up to draw the raiders into the trap on and at the head of the bridge.

“what about your sniper teams?” Ramo asked. those men were to far inland to fall back.

“one is secure and has already linked up with Mr. Coates people. We’ve lost contact with the other” Stone said his gaze shifting imperceptibly to Beth McBride who grew pale. With worry but remained silent. She was a tough lady, Ramo thought. “the last report we had from them was they were under heavy fire but secure and intact.”

Every one around the table flinched as a mortar round impacted close to the shore, They had discovered the raiders had Mortars, but the weapons crews were amateurs and at least one of those crews had dropped a round on top of themselves while trying to zero in their weapon. At least it had appeared that way to Stones Scout team.

It was almost funny and Ben Ramo was pretty sure he would laugh about it later, say in a few months when there was enough distance in time and emotions to laugh about the stupid crap that happens in combat.

Ben looked towards the military radio as it warbled a two tone message alert signal three times, but no message came through. Then he saw the smile on Eric Stones face. “mind sharing.” Ben asked.

“In due time Lt., In due time.” Eric Stone said almost cheerfully. The older man turned his aide, “have all the ammunition been distributed.”

“yes sir, grenades, bombs and bullets are all set up for the defense. The Harbor town leadership wanted to make sure their supplies were placed nearby in case ‘they’ needed it.” It was fiction for the Zone’s Council Ben knew. Officially, the Zone was not involved in the defense of Hilton head, aside from Harbor Town who had officially singed treaties with the Zone.

Harbor Town could decide where and when they wanted their ordered goods delivered and if it happened to be right here where Raiders were attacking, then that was their choice.

“Good, Ms. Brinn, I am pleased to announce that your goods have been delivered exactly where specified. The Zone appreciates your business.” Stone said turning to Erin Brinn who smiled, if there was a touch of sadness to that smile no one could fault her, she was sick of death and destruction even if she had no choice.

The Broad, Hilton head island.

Tucker had no idea how long the battle had raged, or how many had died. It seemed like thousands had to have perished in that brutal assault on the barricade. With drawing across the bridge hadn’t stopped the battle either. If it had the plan would have fallen apart, but the raiders as expected had hesitated just long enough to get semi organized then rushed after the “Fleeing, disorganized defenders”

He stumbled and almost fell but a hand like steel grabbed him by the shoulder and kept him upright. “keep moving Sir, and don’t look back” Weidler said. Tucker tried to say something but he found his mouth was suddenly desert dry.

“Here they come” Mallory yelled. The sound of the M-4 he carried distinct in the night against the sounds of civilian rifles and small arms.

Tucker kept his head down and rushed down the bridge, if the rest of the plan had worked as well as the first half. A barricade had been erected across the middle of the bridge after the Tank had crossed. It was only put in place to slow the raiders, to get more of them piled up on the bridge and firmly in the jaws of the trap.

Elisa Baker and her people had volunteered to man that barricade as well, she was one brave woman he thought to bad she is already married. Especially to that worm of a husband, because I think I would enjoy being married to her.

He almost laughed at the idiot thoughts racing through his brain as bullets whipped cracked overhead, but it beat having a bullet race through his head so he would just be happy with idiot thoughts.

He reached the barricade and scrambled over to the other side, Weidler followed quickly. Tucker looked up just in time to see Mallory climb on top of the law barricade then hear the man grunt in surprise before tumbling over the low man made wall to lay at Tuckers feet.

Weidler cursed quietly as he knelt beside his buddy and stripped the body of weapons and ammo passing it to Tucker. “Don’t use it unless you have too” He said angrily, he wanted nothing more than to turn on Mallory’s killers and exact a little vengeance but he had a job to do and that took precedence. “keep moving sir. Let the others do their jobs.”

Tucker slipped on the old fashioned combat harness and web belt festooned with ammo pouches feeling sick as he looked down at Mallorys body. He died and I am about to run away again. I can’t. I just can’t do it, he thought as he heard Elisa Baker shouting orders to her people. The two spots that had been set up at this barricade flared to life and Tucker saw her standing there, blouse torn, a bloody bandage around her thigh and one arm. Her hair floating in the wind. She liked more like some ancient warrior queen standing defiant before the Roman imperial army, all she needed was a bloody sword and a chariot to complete the picture.

Her husband, covered in blood stood behind her. A pistol in one hand and a huge knife in the other where he had gotten the weapons Tucker didn’t know he had been unarmed at the start, but now he stood there covering his wife’s back, while a man struggled to bandage the various wounds Collin Baker had gotten during the battle at the first barricade.

If he can stand up like a real man, then By god so Can I. Tucker decided. Gone for ever were any lingering pacifistic tendencies. Like Wells he did wish that they could have talked their way out of this. And the sight of the dead bodies all around him only made him wish harder for the impossible. But Ramo, Stone and the others had been right.

The Pines had not sought out death and destruction, neither had a single other Enclave on the island. The raiders had come with a freight train of both and there could be no talking with them till they understood the price it would cost them to take the Enclaves. He remembered reading a line, supposedly by Martin Luther that summed up this moment perfectly. “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.” He said almost whispering as the enormity of what he was about to do hit him hard.

“Sir you have to get moving” Weidler said trying to push Tucker towards the safety of the far side of the broad.

“NO!” Tucker stated flatly. “Mallory deserves better from me, all of our dead deserve better than that. I’m sorry Sergeant. I have to stay.”

“Sir, you promised to do as ordered. Well I am damn sure ordering you to run.”

“With all due respect Sergeant, bite me. Now stop wasting time and get ready to fight.” Tucker said thankful his voice didn’t break or tremble on that last sentence.

Weidler fumed for a moment, secretly proud of Tucker but couldn’t show it. He had his orders, keep Tucker safe no matter what. I could slug him unconscious then carry him out. He dismissed the idea almost instantly. Well they said to keep him safe, if he refuses to move I can only stand here and guard him as best I can, I guess.

“you realize your probably going to get us both killed right?”

“yes, on the bright side if you get killed you wont have to explain to Ramo how I got killed.”

“That’s a huge comfort Mr. Co President and let me take a moment to tell you, that you are a frigging idiot. And I am proud to stand beside you.”

Tucker didn’t know what to say to that, nor did he trust his voice to not break or even work well so he only nodded. Besides Elisa Baker chose that moment to shout fire and along the new barricade guns blazed, and the raiders discovered that the Enclave forces they faced had more ammunition than they had suspected.

Jason Frost, once a manager of a fast food place knelt in the brush and trees to the east of the bridge, silently watching the raiders stream past he and his men’s position. At seventy yards, with his people in the tree line, the raiders wouldn’t be able to see them under the trees. But he could see them just fine. When Teague had asked for volunteers to fight for the Township, he had leaped at the chance.

Despite the history between blacks and whites, the Gullah had taken him and his family in, along with many other whites, as well as Asians and Hispanics. They had accepts Jason and the others as part of not just the Township but almost as family and the shared trails and tribulations during the collapse of their civilization had made them all real family and for that Jason was willing to fight and die if need be.

Something shrieked up into the sky, then color bloomed as the flare lit off. The signal, it was time he realized as his stomach turned and his hands grew cold. “Fire” Thomas Wayne bellowed. The grizzled looking, thick thewed black man had been a Gunnery sergeant in the USMC, retiring just a year before the world died.

Jason didn’t think he just echoed the order to the squad he had been placed in charge and pulled his own trigger. They didn’t have a lot of ammo, but Wayne didn’t think they would need it.

The Astoria Guard, leaped into action advancing under controlled fire, one platoon breaking off to the north to secure the toll booths and the Fire station that was under siege.

To the west the Bridge guard that had been contacted by one of the Zone ships, had crept into position now opened fire as well. What Historians would some day call the Battle of the Broad began in earnest.

More than half the raiders had begun the charge across the bridge, chasing the fleeing enclave troops. They were more than surprised when their prey turned and began to attack.

Ellis Fields enjoyed what he did, he loved the terror in his victims eyes when he took them. He hadn’t been worried much about any fight that the enclaves might put up, despite Allen’s warning’s. A bunch of people who had worked fast food, or ran stores and worked as mechanics before the dead. Ellis had dealt with their kind a lot, they were weak and soft and what ever fight they could put up would be short and end in screaming. That’s the way it had been since the dead and he couldn’t see it changing especially when they had spent all their time hiding in spider holes while the dead swarmed across the world.

But this wasn’t what he had expected, half the men he had survived the dead years with were now cooling corpses back there at the barricade. He had started off with bullets than he had seen in years and was no almost out.

“Charge them” some one behind him shouted as the leading edge of the raiders withered under the barrage from the barricade that had been strung across the bridge. Ellis gaped as he saw men falling in bloody rows. The few that some how got to the barricade were hacked down by long handled axes, swords, hoes and god knows what else. the rest like Ellis had slowed almost stopped as he stared at the carnage.

It wasn’t just the bullets, the death, it was the mechanical spider thing that raced out from the barricade and before it was shot to pieces sprayed some kind of gas on raiders who fell chocking and gagging. It was the nail guns that some of the defenders used, seeing raiders reeling away with nails in their arms, chests and even faces. Some stumbled and fell over the side of the bridge shrieking all the way down.

But finally it was the grenades, like tin cans mounted on stick that came flying over the barricade to land amongst the raiders that broke the will of the raiders.

“Screw this” some one shouted Ellis agreed but one look back at the river bank he had left just minutes before and he saw more enclave forces advancing from the east and west where they had been hiding in the trees and ruins. smoke and flames rose into the night sky back by the toll booth, showed him that there was no safety back there.

The raid was over, the raiders confidence and moral shattered. Almost as one the mob turned and began to run back the way they had come. But more and worse was to come.

Will Vance, had been ready, eager even to hit the enclaves. He had even argued with leadership over whether to use the bridge and the carnage on the bridge was proving him right. They should have either gone around the broad or used boats, rafts or what ever to cross the broad, silently and in the middle of the night.

He had argued so much that Allen had assigned him to the rear guard taking him out of the assault. Considering what Will thought was going to happen being left out was more like a blessing than a reprimand. The one good thing about being placed north of the Toll booths was it gave him a clear area to run once the enclave troops turned and came at the last hundred raiders that held the rear area.

Of course that had been debatable when the Snipers had opened up on the mortar teams but that had been taken care of once enough men had died. He smiled, He was in the perfect position to assume a leadership role once this was over with. The others would listen, he had been right about the bridge and that would take him along way with most of the bands.

He stretched then scratched at his crotch, only hearing the rustle of leaves a half second before something heavy smashed into him. He screamed as teeth closed on the back of his neck. As he felt the warm blood flowing, and his vision dimming, he heard other screams and gun fire in the night.

The Scarred ones came on, dying by ones and twos, even in groups but the shooters had no place to run and no chance to try. Every where they turned the scarred ones were coming out of old ruined buildings, from under abandoned cars from the woods and weeds.

They swept over the mortar pits and the two heavy weapons crews. They ripped into shelters and tents. One or more of them would occasionally crouch and throw back their heads to give voice to that weird howl they were known for.

Jason Tumbly fired wildly, as one by one his friends were dragged down. “the undead, holy god, the undead have come back.” He kept retreating till he backed into the wall of an old house, scarred ones coming at him from in a closing semi circle. He suddenly remembered Allen telling every one about a band of ferals, that looked and even acted like the undead but they were alive, and nothing about that knowledge made him feel any better. A man with half his face gone, white bone gleaming in the light of a nearby lantern, leaped at him. Jason shot him down trying not to gag on the smell of putrid pus that sprayed everywhere.

More of them came at him, he shot down some filthy naked woman, then the equally naked man with her as the dirty, feral looking kids surrounded him. their faces scarred, scar tissue bisecting the thin patches of hair. . They inched forward, heads dipping and swinging. He fired killing the kid with the maggots oozing in an open wound on his neck, a little girl, missing huge splotches of skin leaped at him. He managed to shoot her, but then the others leaped forward. And Jason went down under ripping teeth and ragged claws, that his killers were alive instead of undead made not one bit of difference to him, He died screaming the same way.

He never saw the IFV’s their lights driving back the night, roll into the fight, or hear the gun fire or see the soldiers who killed or drove off the scarred ones. No by then he was well on his way to being digested.

Fanklin Dieter and his men fought their way out, leaving a trail of corpse. Going to ground near the burned out downtown area when they heard engines in the distance.

He smiled grimly, he had doubted that Allens ad hoc force would succeed so it was no real surprise that the raiders were being slaughtered. He crouched beside a window in what had been a hair salon.. his smile fading as he saw the dark shape of US armored personnel carriers. Strykers, they were called if he remembered correctly, spot lights mounted on the top swept ahead and side to side of the column as they raced down the road.

“keep down” He hissed to his men. He pulled his head down and waited as the line of vehicles rumbled past. “move out, we cant stay here” He said once he was sure that no other vehicles were on the way. He had made plans from the very beginning to bug out, which was why right now, the other half of his team were waiting at a rendezvous point with boats to escape the island.

He was glad now he hadn’t told Allen about the rest of his team, he had been tempted his men would have been very helpful to Allens plan but Dieter wasn’t one to put all his eggs into one basket. If Allen had won, Dieter would have been happy, taken his share and moved on. But he had wanted to make sure he had something to come back to if everything went south.

“we could take them from behind Boss” Former Sergeant Rick Kern said. “wait till they dismount then kick the shit out of them.”

“No, not today. But soon enough,” Dieter said almost sorry that he hadn’t told Allen about the Zone, but it looked like Allen was about to meet the raiders boogyman and he knew Allen wasn’t going to like it either.

Cross Island parkway toll booths.

“you son of a bitch, we are getting slaughtered out there” A raider Allen didn’t know snarled at him as the advance stalled. Moral was plummeting and like the rabble they were, the raiders in the rear were already slinking off trying to escape the disaster that was engulfing them.

He couldn’t really blame them either. Fresh Enclave forces were striking from both the east and the west. Apparently the men they had seen fleeing those location to join the Enclave retreat across the bridge had been just a decoy. Who ever was in command over there had tricked him. Worse had shown Allen exactly what he wanted to see and made him believe and this was the price.

He watched the scattered fleeing raiders turn into a flood as the majority of the force gave up.

I was wrong, I didn’t create an army. He thought angrily, I lied to myself because I wanted, no needed to destroy those bastards. And the all the proof he needed that his family had been left to die to protect the pampered rich assholes was right there. They were given everything they needed to survive. Fuel, power, ammunition, weapons, and food that could have saved my family, and the families of every man and woman that followed me here.

All the blood and death his obsession had cost wouldn’t allow him to mentally step back and see the truth of his anger. He wanted to curse god, to rage forward like an avenging angel smiting his enemies and tearing down their defenses, Make them pay for what he had suffered.

He took a deep breath to keep control of himself “ Tommy I want you to send a runner out to find Dieter, I want him to fall back and get word to Miller and Gunn to break off the attack. If we can get back to our base, we can plan our next move.”

“Our next move you dumb ass is to get the hell off this island and back to Savannah” a man snarled.

Allen’s only reply was to shoot the man between the eyes, glaring at his buddies to do something about it. almost as one they turned and ran for the rear and he let them go. it was over and they knew it. the enclaves were hitting them from every side now and the force on the bridge was in full riot.

If I can get us out of this and back to the base camp, we can reorganize and come up with a new plan. We still have the numbers, we just have to utilize them properly. …

He looked up in shock as the undulating cries of the scarred ones, filled the air behind them. He had heard about those cries, and now hearing them for himself. He felt fear, the same fear he had once felt about the undead.

He didn’t need to see what was going on back there, the shooting and the screams were more than enough.

He looked towards the bridge, where the battered remnants of his people were fleeing. He wanted to use the comforting term of falling back, but they weren’t falling back, they were running for their lives straight towards the scarred ones.

He sank to his knees, unable to deal with his dreams of vengeance being shattered, snatched cruelly away by God at the last moment. His men stared, unsure of what to do, but then the advancing enclave troops sent them fleeing leaving Allen where he sat.

Teague limped forward, out of ammo for his rifle he brandished a machete. Most people would have assumed that people would start forging swords and maybe some did. But the township didn’t want weapons for weapons sake, there was always a use for machetes and that was what their smith and his apprentices had made along with axes and shovels with sharpened edges.

A man back light by the fires, stood weaponless waiting for Teague. A thin man and where the light touched skin, Teague could see that he was white. More men and women knelt on the road behind him.

“we surrender” The man said.

Teague stopped and cocked his head, if this was a trap and any of those people had fire arms he and his people were screwed. At a signal Teagues people spread out in a semi circle around the raiders. He was tempted to kill them all, they had brought death to his home, All their dreams of making the Township a place of peace had been kicked in the teeth.

Yes, they had always been prepared to defend themselves if need be, which was why they had weapons. But The goal from the start had been to preserve their people and culture and yes that view had come to encompass all the others they had taken in who had become family as well as friends, regardless of their color and former background.

And then these people had come to steal the townships food and supplies, burn their homes and kill their people. How many people from the town ship had died tonight, He knew some had but at the moment he had no idea exactly how many of his people were dead.

“Teague” Danny Morgan asked?

“ hold up your hands, prove your unarmed and we will take you in.” Teague said. “Make me regret this, and I will beat you to death.”

Hands rose into the air before he finished speaking. Teague smiled grimly.

The raiders retreat stalled as they ran full tilt into the scarred ones, those with ammunition laid down a wall of fire till they ran out. Many turned and ran back the way they had come.

It was worse than when the dead had walked, the scarred ones could think in some small manner, they were cunning and they had no problems using stealth if it were needed. More than one raider was dragged down when five or more scarred ones rose from the weeds or from under the wreckage around him.

Island parkway bridge barricade.

One moment every man and woman at the secondary barricade were fighting for their lives once more down to hand to hand weapons. Tucker had found himself beside Elisa Baker with Weidler covering his other side. When he had been told the raiders had close to a thousand men it hadn’t sounded like all that much. But till this moment it had seemed like the raiders would never run out of men.

“You need to sit down sir” Weidler said. Respectfully. Tucker slowly sat finally noticing the pain that radiated through is body. “that armor of yours, worked pretty well. but it wasn’t perfect.”

“I think I’ve noticed that” Tucker said wincing in pain as Weidler began to undo his armor. “if you define pretty well as I am still breathing” Tucker said gasping in pain as Weidler helped him pull off a piece of his armor that had been stuck to a wound by dried blood. The pain was incredible.

“I guess Pastor Wells wont get a chance to talk to the raiders after all”

“Looks like” Tucker said, watching as more Guard trooped past heading to join the rest of the forces driving the raiders back and now trying to put down the Scarred ones who were swarming over the area.

“help me up, I have to…”

“not a chance” Weidler said.

“Let me help” Elissa Baker said coming over to kneel beside Tucker. She hadnt gotten off unscathed either. in fact all she wore from the waist up were bandages and a bra. It almost looked like she was wearing a corset.

“you look pretty bad off yourself maam” Weidler pointed out.

“Two cracked ribs, one broken rib, three bullet holes, really grazes, two gashes from a knife and a major blow to my dignity.” She said waving over one her people, who carried a first aid bag. “Though I suppose I am wearing more at the moment than most women who used to go to beaches.”

“Looks good on ……” Tucker said then stopped before saying you, of course only a complete idiot would not be able to figure out what he had said. She was a married woman.

She smiled slightly then started tending his wounds, Collin Baker flushed angrily but said nothing.

More troops passed by heading for the fight, but Tucker paid them no mind. In fact he was trying very hard not to notice the gentle almost feathery touches of Elissa Baker as she tended his wounds.

It wasn’t till two Guardsmen with lanterns appeared over him that he looked up and saw Ben Ramo standing there, a huge smile on his face. “I wont even ask how you ended up in this fur ball Waylon, But its good to see you alive.” Ben said giving a look at Weider that could have peeled paint.

“its not his fault Ben, He did everything but beat me unconscious to get me to leave. So lay off him. I need to know what’s going on.”

“We won, The pastor is on his way, the leader of the raiders is wanting to surrender.”

“But…”

“it’s a long story, but apparently Stone and his people sunk the raiders craft, burned their base camp then landed troops who showed up in time to lay waste to the scarred folk who were chewing on the raiders along the escape route we had left open.”

“Landed troops?”

“at least fifty men delivered by aircraft who have secured the airport, and over a hundred men plus armored vehicles who came by boat.”

“Vehicles? Your kidding.”

“Vehicles, heavy weapons, lots and lots of ammo, fuel and other things that I didn’t think any one would ever have again.” Ben said enjoying the almost dazed look of surprise on not just Waylons face but on the faces of every one who could hear him.

“how is that possible”

“Don’t know but Stone promises to explain it as soon as we can get a meeting set up.”

Palmetto Bay Yacht club.

Jason had no idea what was going on, he had remained hidden near the yacht club. Listening what sound like a war. But at no time had he seen Tucker. Just those cursed lights burning in the building and on the veranda.

Part of him ached to take out the steam powered generator but he couldn’t waste his life and the only device he had left to take out a machine that tucker could replace.

Tucker was whom God wanted dead, But what about the others, the strangers surely they were as bad. they were using radio’s and had all sorts of technology and wanted more from what he had managed to overhear.

He prayed for guidance while he waited listening to the masses of men coming and going. One Device and so many targets, if only god would see fit to gather them all in one place. But that would be easy wouldn’t it and that was not the challenge God wanted placed before him.

He didn’t understand how killing one man would lead to technology being removed, but that didn’t really matter, he had his part to play and God would do the rest.

From the Veranda he heard laughter and men talking excitedly, cautiously he peeked out and saw the other Enclave leaders gathered with the strangers doing a lot of glad handing and smiling. They must have won against who ever they were fighting, he thought looking for Tucker but not seeing him.

He lingered there in the darkness, watching them celebrate. A small part of himself missing that simple life where he could mingle and enjoy the company of others. Just be one of the guy like he had used to be. Serving God was sacrifice, He knew that but still in those quiet places in his heart and mind he still sometimes dreamed of just being himself.

Well he wasn’t, He was Gods tool to be unleashed against the lords enemies and to fail in that charge would lead to the damnation and death of the rest of the human race, what his life against that.

His eyes focused on the party once more as a roar and loud applause rose. Yes, god is great, He thought seeing Tucker being wheeled out onto the veranda in a wheel chair. He was followed by a attractive woman and several others. All of them looked like the they had been put through the ringer.

Thank you Lord, He said silently. The fear of death that he hated to admit, vanished buried under the wonder at the power of the lord. It was time, he decided.

He had planned for this moment, back up plans with back up plans. He might have God on his side, but God helped those who helped themselves as well. He smiled to himself, Thank you Lord for….

“Hello Jason” The smile on Jason’s face congealed into hate.. He turned slowly to face Herman who stood there in the brush a pistol in his hands. “figured I would find you here”

“you abandoned God” Jason snarled. “and he will strike you down for your betrayal” Jason’s hand darted for his belt where the detonator was clipped.

“You know Jason, Screw you” Herman said and pulled the trigger. Jason staggered backwards, his eyes wide with shock and pain even as his hand closed on the detonator. Herman fired again, then again. Jason tumbled over, covered in his own blood.

as the pain washed over him and his vision began to dim, he saw a figure behind Herman. A hunch backed spindly limbed man in a bowler hat. “No” he groaned miserably. It tipped its hat to Jason then capered around behind Herman laughing manically.

With one last burst of strength he pulled the detonator from his belt. “Burn in hell” He whispered. Herman leaped away, knowing he couldn’t escape but determined to try anyway. Jason’s finger pushed and the last thing he saw was the mocking shark toothed smile as the fireball consumed him.

From the Journal of Chris McCaffrey.

I still don’t know exactly what happened, Ori says that one of the raiders used a Javelin on the building. All I remember is falling, well that and having crap slam into me. After that nothing till I came to the next morning being tended to by an SF medic.

For those reading who are curious, I have a broken leg, a sprained knee, a twisted wrist and a minor concussion. Not to mention a huge array of cuts, scrapes, bruises and even a few burns.

The story as I gather it is, that we all were dumped to the ground floor where I became trapped by some of the debris. The raiders that were left made one push to get to us, and paid a heavy price Stephanie had managed to hang on to her weapon During that fight Ori somehow retrieved a raider weapon and joined Steph in fighting.

They didn’t have much time to celebrate after the surviving raiders fled because the scarred folks showed up. Ori and Steph drove them off several times having to strip the dead raiders of what ever ammo and weapons they carried to keep the fight going.

In the end Adjutant Simms and his people showed up and the Scarred folks were done.

Right now a combined force from The Pines, Wonderland and Astoria with help from the Legion are hunting down the nest’s and burning them out.

Ryan and Garrett made it through the whole thing, and are taking a vacation so to speak. I’ve heard Henry is okay but haven’t personally talked with him yet.

Steph and the damn cat have visited me several times, I had hoped that the cat might have been killed by a mortar round or something but no such luck.

As far as the raiders, two hundred surrendered there at the end. Pastor wells even got to handle the talks which is a good thing, I don’t think any one else could swallow their anger and dislike to actually be fair. Anyway most of them accepted the offer to join the legion, the remainder, thirty of them I think, left the island

The man who led the raiders took his own life before he could be captured, so we don’t have to worry about him again.

oh yeah, the terrorist and his little band are dead, Jason Karig was killed by a guy named Herman who lost a leg during the fight

On the political front, The Summit has been on going, from what I’ve been told its going smoother than most had anticipated but Snow has found serious opposition to some of the economic ideas he proposed. Personally, I don’t see the pre dead economic idea’s working well in the Aftermath. Land and housing is free, there are more gold, gems and anything people want laying around out there than we could recover in two lifetimes.

Personally, I am excited to see where it all ends up at.

July 20th, Hilton Head Airport.

Tucker stood on the Tarmac watching as every delegate signed first the Hilton head Island Charter then the Treaties with the safe zone.

His attention shifted to the delegation from the Safe zone, which had been expanded somewhat since the beginning of the Summit. Eric Stone, Beth and Ori McBride were still a part of it, but Jillian Stone, the wife of the leader of the zone was in attendance as well. He still didn’t understand the power structure of the Zone, the Leader Jared Stone was more like some Minister at larger with no official position but plenty of power. Power that he rarely used from all that Tucker could gather.

What ever the case, His wife had been sent along with two members of their council for the ceremony. Putting on a show by flying into the airport which had been ceded to the zone. Their official embassy would be located in Harbor Town, but the airport would be used to base zone Support troops and the new Hilton head combined defense force.

He realized his eyes were lingering on Jill stones curves and looked away, which meant that his gaze fell on Elisa Baker. Not a chance old boy, he told himself. Things might have changed a lot, especially on the cultural level for many of us but not that much and not for me or her. But I can quietly wish can’t I.

He wasn’t exactly sure what he felt today, Happiness for sure, excitement, apprehension certainly they were building a country and I used to have trouble organizing my workspace. but really I think, what I really feel is that its over. The dead have been cone for a while now, but now we feel like we belong to something larger. We are no longer just the Pines, or Astoria. We are part of the whole island now and not just the island but band of communities that are scattered all the way up the coast to DC and even a couple of hundred miles into the interior if you count the Tennessee parts of the zone.

I guess its knowing that we are not alone and we belong to a much larger community, like before the dead.

The quiet side conversations fell away as Jillian Stone stepped up to the table under the awning, she picked up the pen then stopped looking around at the people gathered there watching. she smiled softly at all of them then signed her name to the document.

She laid the pen aside and smiled again. “In books and movies, at moments like this some one would launch into some soul stirring speech. Sadly I am not so eloquent and my husband even less so.” there was a snort of something very much like laughter from Eric Stone and Ori. The corner of Jills lips twitched for a second. “I will say this, Welcome to the United States Safe zone.”

The celebration was still in full swing, when Henry found Chris, still wheel chair bound with Lourdes doting on him. It was good to see them together he thought. “Henry, am I glad to see you.” Chris called out.

“Me too, though it looks like your getting a hell of a partner as compensation.” Henry said smiling at Lourdes. “I hear as soon as your healed up they are sending you to Puerto Rico on the Eagle, to see if you can pull off there what you’ve done here.”

“Me, I did nothing here. Brin, Tucker and the others did it all. I just wandered around acting mysterious.”

“Hello Henry” Lourdes said.

“your looking good after your injuries” Henry commented.

“thank you, I understand it was a close thing there for a little while.” She said lightly, maybe a touch to lightly.

“so when is the marriage.” He asked with a grin.

“Next spring, unless she gets smart and changes her mind.” Chris said smiling.

“You should have pushed for next week, with that much time to think She is bound to see past your school boy charm and lack of skill in the sack and dump you.”

Chris and Lourdes laughed and they bantered back and forth for a while till Stephanie and her husband put in an appearance.

“I hear we are supposed to be going tropical in a month or so” Ryan said after they had all exchanged greetings.

“So they tell me, we are supposed to at least check out Haiti and the Dominican Republic, then sail around and check out San Juan. Same thing we did here, more or less. Personally I plan on checking out a beach or two.” Chris said.

“Dorado beach or Luquillo beach.” Lourdes chimed in.

“Garret is hoping to find the Bacardi plant unclaimed and full of 151.” Ryan said.

Chris’s smile faded as he saw his arch nemesis weave through the human’s legs and rub against Stephanie. She scooped the huge cat up and began to pet the monster-sized thing.

“Oh there’s a new pathfinder rule, no pets” Chris said. Stephanie glared at him.

“he is part of the team now, he goes where I go.”

“great, just what I need a long sea voyage with BIG PAW, the missing feline link.”

“Okay I have to ask, what do you have against cats.” Henry asked.

“yeah, and I think you promised to tell me after the battle.” Stephanie added.

Chris looked like he wasn’t going to speak for a moment then shrugged.

“years ago I was dating this woman, so every time we spent the night together she insisted it be at my place. after a while I started wondering if maybe she had a husband. So I tactfully…” he ignored the looks of doubt that he could be tactful that the others gave him. “so she feeds me this line about having a cat, a really jealous cat. I tell her I’m fine with animals and that if this goes anywhere sooner or later the cat is going to have to meet me. So about two weeks later she invites me to her place, sure enough she has this cat, a scarred up old Tabby that just stalks me and watches me from every high point it can find. She has to lock it out of the bedroom, which causes it to complain for about an hour of caterwauling. “

Chris looks at Big Paw, and the cat is looking back at him intently, eyes bright with anticipation, Little asshole probably knows this story, its been passed from cat to cat around the world.

“so the next morning I get out of the shower, towel off and sit down on the edge of the bed just talking to her, while she starts doing her hair. The door is open and in walks the cat, just as friendly as you can get. It walks up and sits down right there in front of me, right between my legs. Its purring so loud the windows are vibrating. Then it reaches up and with both paws begins to speed punch my balls.”

Tucker hearing a roar of laughter, turns to see Chris surrounded by Lourdes and his friends, laughing hysterically. ‘its going to be a good day” Tucker said with a smile.

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8 thoughts on “A clockwork boy part 11

    • The Story Chris shared about the cat actually happened to a friend of mine LOL. even after all these years I still laugh when I think about that story and the look on his face when he told me.

      Thanks for Reading Rob.

      Like

    • Thanks, glad you liked it DrClarkin and thanks for reading. I had actually been determined to take a break after “A Clockwork boy” was wrapped up. But as usual I didn’t LOL.

      Like

    • Thanks James, I’ve outlined the Puerto Rico story and two others, and as you can see I’m actively working on a Hunter story as well. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

      Like

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