People are frugal in guarding their personal property: but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
Just a couple of links for today’s post.
This first one came across the Book of Face about how a mostly Swedish unit’s command culture led to better mission outcomes during the early Bosnia peacekeeping mission. Highly recommended both as a leadership piece as well as writing a military culture.
This second link goes into how Star Wars influenced Robotech, and then how Robotech influenced Star Wars. As a lifelong fan of both franchises, it was an interesting read.
Lately in my FB feed has been advertisements for the company where I like to buy my geeky t-shirts. Most of the time, they display merchandise that I would normally want – Robotech, Tramsformers, Firefly, etc.
One that has been cropping up essentially proclaims that if someone else gets their civil rights, then you don’t lose yours. The kicker is that civil rights are not like pie. Which is true, but I very much doubt the author of this bromide would translate that to the economic side of civil rights.
Because at the end, we have to abolish the very idea of the pie when discussing rights. Any rights – at least in the Lockeian sense of the word.
Let’s all say it together – when it comes to rights, there is no pie.
The village of Rosca, island of Corsica, 14 August 2010, 0215 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 2 months, 16 days
Mateo Cortez squeezed the trigger twice. The zombie’s head shattered as the hammer pair tore through it. Sport and Quentin advanced out of their building with weapons up. Two bursts took down two of the rising zombies. Jess took another one down from her perch. Sport cleared the last two with a pair of short bursts. Tredegar stood paralyzed for a moment as the gunfire surrounded him. The gangly FBI agent swallowed hard as the gunfire ceased. Tredegar, like every member of the Zombie Strike team, was one of those few humans who didn’t panic at the mere sight of the undead. That didn’t mean he did well in a gunfight.
“Edgar, go check the bodies for intel. You have less than four minutes now,” Mateo said. Tredegar nodded and hustled into the ruins of the café. Mateo motioned for the team to close up. The experienced zombie hunters moved quietly outside the café.
“Those buckos rose back up bloody quick,” Sport said as he kept watch towards the center of the town.
“Makes you wonder what the other team’s going through,” Quentin said. Jim grunted in agreement as the sounds of gunfire drifted through the streets.
“Someone’s watching us,” Jess stated flatly. The entire team pushed back against the café’s wall. Mateo looked up where Jess was aiming her rifle. At first, Mateo thought Jess misidentified the cathedral’s gargoyles as a target. Then, one of them moved. The minion – it had to be a minion – loped across the sloped roof of the cathedral with an inhuman gait. It was barely visible in the nightvision, almost as if it were slipping through the shadows. Mateo felt an icy chill climb his spine as he watched the minion slip into the bell tower.
“Can you take him down?” Mateo asked.
“No,” Jess answered simply.
“Matt, are you sure that was even human?” Quentin asked, with an almost imperceptible tremor in his voice. Mateo didn’t answer the big man’s question.
“Tredegar, grab what you can stuff into your bag. We’re moving.” The FBI agent looked perplexed as he rejoined the team, but didn’t say anything. Mateo took one more look up at the cathedral’s bell tower. Mateo couldn’t see the minion, but he could feel the minion watching him. Mateo did his best to ignore the icy tentacles and focused on the plan.
“Jim, you’ve got point,” Mateo ordered. “We head down this street for another three blocks, and then we head in towards the town center.” Jim trotted down the street. Sport traded his M4 for the XM25 grenade launcher before jogging behind the cowboy. Jess, Billy, and Tredegar were next with Mateo and Quentin bringing up the rear.
“Matt, shouldn’t we deal with whatever that was first?” Quentin asked.
“No, I got a feeling that whatever it is, it’ll come to us.” Quentin grimaced but didn’t say anything further. He looked up once more before following Mateo down the street. The team moved through the streets of Rosca. With every twist and every alley, Mateo expected his small team to be ambushed. This was when the team was at their most vulnerable. Any of the townspeople could rain down fire on them. Mateo was startled when the team took the final turn and halted at the edge of the town plaza. He’d fully expected to lose one of the team by now. Mateo’s breath quickened as he felt the paranoia creeping into him.
“That was too easy,” he murmured as he scanned the plaza. The town center stood in the middle of the plaza. It was a small, squat building with useless plaster columns surrounding the outside. Mateo guessed it was supposed to give a Greco-Roman feel to the building. Instead, it looked like a Greek version of South of the Border. To complete the useless extravagance, there was a wide fountain some fifty feet in front of the town center with a ten foot tall bronze Neptune jutting up from the center. Surrounding the town center was a cobblestone courtyard. Small kiosks and stands were littered across the plaza, the remnants of the last bazaar.
“Jim do you see anything?” Mateo asked.
“Still as a grave out there,” Jim answered warily.
“The other team could have succeeded in drawing off all of the Truth’s forces,” Tredegar said. A dark chuckle rolled through the Zombie Strike team. Mateo didn’t join them.
“Jess, what does Billy think?” Mateo asked. Jess knelt beside the spirit wolf pup and placed her hand on the pup’s shoulder.
“Alert and wary Matt,” Jess answered, “Not at anything specific. If there’s something out there, he can’t sense it.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse,” Jim said, voicing the thought running through the team’s minds. Mateo scanned the plaza once more. He couldn’t tell if his hesitation was reasonable caution or just paranoid fear. Almost against his will, Mateo began to ask himself what Collin would do. Mateo hated the man with an almost blinding fury, but he couldn’t deny how much he’d learned under Collin’s tutelage.
“Jim, Sport, move up to the fountain and take up an over-watch,” Mateo said, “The rest of us will mad dash to the building. Then, we’ll cover Jim and Sport as they link back up. Once the team is collected, we bust the door and follow the plan.” The team formed up. At Mateo’s signal, Jim and Sport sprinted towards the fountain. The crunching sound of boots pounding on cobblestones sounded thunderous in the still night. Jim and Sport crouched behind the low wall of the fountain. Their weapons swept the edges of the plaza before Jim clicked his radio microphone. It was all clear. Mateo let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.
Hand signals flashed. The team rushed out into the plaza. They hadn’t gone more than ten steps before Billy stopped and started barking. Weapons came up as the team searched for enemies. Mateo heard a light thud from above. He raised his M4 and saw the vague shape of the minion sitting crouched on the top of the town center. The nightvision goggles just couldn’t make out the minion properly. Frustrated, Mateo flipped the goggles up and illuminated the minion with his weapon mounted light. Mateo stopped paralyzed as the white light pierced the night’s darkness. If the minion had been human, it wasn’t any longer.
The creature stood six and a half feet tall easily. It looked like someone had taken a human and stretched until it was barely recognizable. Its elongated body was wrapped in a black and green cloth. No skin was visible, not even around the eyes. Just two slits in the cloth as it wrapped around the minion’s long pointy head. The minion held its rope-like arms in front of its face before it let out a high-pitched screech no human could make. It sprinted across the town center’s roof, fleeing the light’s brilliance. Jess recovered faster than Mateo. Her light tracked the minion for a few seconds before her SCAR coughed. Jess fired three rounds into the minion. The 7.62 mm rounds knocked the minion off balance, and it fell to the roof.
Billy kept barking. Whatever the creature was, three bullets were not enough to put it down. Mateo looked over to Sport. Maybe a grenade would do the trick. Before Mateo could utter a word, the minion leapt up. It slammed a small rod onto the roof. Mateo dropped to his knees as he felt a wave of nauseating power sweep through him. He swallowed hard to keep from puking onto the plaza’s cobblestones. The sensation passed as quickly as it had come. Mateo brought up his weapon. If that was the best this thing could do, someone was going to have a nasty surprise. The loud chorus of hunting moans erupted through the town. Zombies rose from out of the fountain, out of the kiosks and stalls, out of the houses surrounding from the plaza. Instinctively, Mateo turned to face the horde that was now converging on his team. His mind quickly realized two things. One, the reason his team had an easy time was because all of the townspeople were dead. Two, his team was already at the point of crush.
[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 60]
Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…
The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
— From the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1788
I’ve been fighting with the third Irregulars story for the better part of two years. Mostly because life interrupts, and I’ve also been working on my fantasy novel.
Then it hit me over the weekend. The story I was currently writing is not the third in the series. I don’t have the proper groundwork for the payoff. It needs to be later in the series.
So, I’m starting what should be the third Irregulars. And as I should have done before, at the very top of the manuscript is the mission statement of this story. What does it need to do in the larger narrative.
Hopefully, by this time next year, you all will be reading it.
The village of Rosca, island of Corsica, 14 August 2010, 0200 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 2 months, 16 days
Collin DuBois dropped the spent magazine out of his M4 and slapped in a fresh one. These buggers were putting up more of a fight than he expected. Bullets splintered the corner of the building he was using as cover. Collin crouched, spun around the corner, and let out a pair of quick bursts. Screams of pain told him he’d at least wounded the gunmen. He darted down the alley. He needed to get his team back together. Collin had just heard the helicopter. Second part of the operation was underway.
The first part of the operation had gone like clockwork. Collin, The Steve, and Slim along with Chief Warrant Officer Stahl and three other soldiers from Task Force 11 jumped into the night sky and HALO’d in. They touched down in an LZ roughly three klicks west of the village three hours ago. Then, came the slow infiltration into the outskirts of the village. It had been a while since Collin did that sort of thing. With Zombie Strike, sneaking was done more for noise control. This was more like what Collin did when he was in the SAS.
As expected, the bloody cultists were all warm and cozy in their little hamlet. Running a proper guard schedule just wasn’t something they thought about. Why should they? They were safe in this village. The team made contact with the village about thirty minutes ago. The minion and some lesser cultists were taken down before they even realized they were under fire. Some of the villagers brought out their own weapons and attacked Collin’s team. They were brought down in short order. Collin was concerned his little group of shooters would plow through the village’s defenses before Matty and his group arrived. Then, the cult’s own shooters arrived.
The firefight that erupted brought back memories of desperate fights around Belfast in Collin’s early days with the Army. Whoever was commanding the Truth’s militia, as Collin started thinking of them, was bloody brilliant. He’d had Collin’s team in a right nice trap. If Slim hadn’t accidentally run into one of the fire teams, all of them would’ve been wiped out. One of the Yanks unloaded his funny-looking grenade launcher. It was amazing how much breathing room five air-bursting grenades could give you. The team was now strung out in pairs along a line of buildings. From the sounds of the firefight, they were dealing out far more than the militia. That would last only as long as their ammo held out. Collin needed to get them back into action before they were killed off one by one. He couldn’t fail. This was his last chance at redemption.
“Dude, The Steve thought you were a goner,” The Steve said as Collin slid behind the low wall the medic and Slim were using as cover. It was pretty bad when even the medic’s insanity was comforting.
“The thought crossed my mind a time or two as well,” Collin admitted. A hail of bullets cracked into the wall. The old stones held. Slim casually rose up above the edge of the wall and fired twice.
“About six left,” Slim reported as he ducked back down an instant before another stream of bullets trimmed the top of the wall. His tone was professional, but his eyes glowed with hatred as they met Collin’s. Slim was not happy with Collin’s command of the assault team.
Collin was surprised when Matty brought him in to help plan the assault on the village. He’d been absolutely stunned when Matty assigned him command of the first team. Needless to say, not everyone was happy with the idea. As far as Slim was concerned, Collin should have been either locked in a dark, dank cell or swinging from a noose. The team sniper only grudgingly agreed that Collin was the best person available when Mateo directly asked him. Slim also made it perfectly clear that as soon as this operation was done, he would make sure Collin faced some sort of justice. Slim had been vague as to what form justice would take, and Collin just couldn’t blame him. As to the rest of his team, well, they were all soldiers. They’d fought under commanders they didn’t quite trust before. As long as Collin didn’t get them killed, they’d deal with it.
“Stahl, are you able to move?” Collin asked over the radio. Collin was really missing satellites at the moment.
“If we can take care of the guys shooting at us, yeah,” the warrant officer answered, “Right now, we’re just bleeding them.”
“Do you think your group can make it to the butcher shop?” Collin asked, looking at the map on his PDA. The shop was about a block deeper into the town. From there, the Yanks should either be flanking the militia or acting as a blocking force if the militia tried to flank them. At any rate, it would be easier to strengthen their position.
“We could,” the warrant officer, his tone making it clear he was also studying the situation. “It might be better if I moved my group to the jewelry store.” Collin swallowed his angry retort as the warrant officer’s plan dawned on Collin. Risky and bold, but a bloody smart scheme. Oh yes, this American would do nicely.
“I see what you’re after Mr. Stahl,” Collin said, “Will our enemies act as you’re expecting?”
“Already have once, and we wiped out that little group,” Stahl answered calmly, “We just need you to catch up with us.”
“On our way then,” Collin said, and looked over to his two comrades. The Steve understood the plan and gave Collin a thumbs-up. Slim just scowled as he fiddled with the scope on his SR-25 rifle. “Boys, let’s take care of these buggers. I think a Mexico City is in order.”
The three Zombie Strike shooters spread out along the wall. Slim kept the center as The Steve and Collin moved to each side a few meters. The militia figured something was going on and poured more fire at the team. This was going better than expected. All three men lifted their nightvision goggles an instant before The Steve tossed a small grenade shaped device into the street. The “disco ball” bounced twice before landing on little legs. The ball rotated towards the militia and opened up like a flower. The small, but powerful LEDs flashed to light. Reflecting off the flower of intricately designed mirror panels, the brilliant white light illuminated the militia’s side of the street. The militia fire stopped as the men were blinded. The three Zombie Strike shooters rose up and took down the half-dozen militia with volleys of hammer pairs.
“Let’s move mates,” Collin said, leaping over the wall.
“The Steve was hoping he wouldn’t have to use that so early,” the medic said, scooping up the spent disco ball as the team hustled down the street. From the sound of gunfire, Stahl and his men were already moving. “The Steve didn’t bring the European adapter to recharge it.”
“At least you didn’t lose the bloody thing,” Slim commented, “Thousand pounds a pop, Mr. Cortez would be a bit miffed with you.” Collin didn’t join in the banter. For one, he lost the right with his betrayal. For two, he was concentrating on getting his team into place. Chief Stahl’s plan was relatively simple. The jeweler’s shop was at the outskirts of the town, but to get there the Americans would have to advance at the militia and then retreat down a cross street from their current position. The same street Collin’s group was advancing down. From the crescendo of small arms echoing up the street, the Americans completed the first part – hitting the militia hard. The militia was better than the first gunmen the team engaged, but they weren’t professionals. When amateurs got their blood up during a firefight, they had a nasty habit of chasing a retreating enemy. Like the American soldiers retreating back to the jeweler’s shop. Stahl and his boys were leading those militia fighters into a nasty trap. The American soldiers were the anvil. Collin’s group was the hammer – if they moved fast enough.
A pair of stragglers stepped out of an alley. The two men froze in shock as they saw the three Zombie Strike team members. Slim and The Steve took them down without breaking stride. Collin didn’t even spare a glance at the falling bodies. They were less than a hundred meters from snapping the trap shut. Already, he could see black-garbed men advancing down the street in formation. A machine gun opened up. Collin’s ears perked up. That wasn’t the Minimi SAW machine gun the Americans brought with them. That sounded like an FN MAG. Lord knew Collin had enough experience with the weapon from his army days. That bloody thing could tear the Americans apart if Collin didn’t put it out of commission.
Collin took off in a sprint. He’d gone maybe a dozen meters before he slammed into a wall that suddenly appeared in the middle of the street. Collin grunted as he slammed back into the asphalt. The pain was bad enough. Then, the wall moved towards him. Collin’s vision cleared and saw the largest gollum he’d ever seen looming over him. Still stunned from the impact, Collin could only watch as the gigantic monster swung its axe down on him.
[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 59]