Some bands take their schtick seriously. Others have fun with it. Alestorm is definitely in the latter category. I offer as evidence today’s entry.
For my best closing argument, I offer Alestorm’s “16th Century Version”
“Slim” Thomas scowled as he tightened the straps on his armor. He knew he should be thankful the field team’s armor wasn’t in the armory and survived its destruction. Slim should have been ecstatic with the cache of weapons and ammunition the team found in Collin’s room. He probably would have been except for two things: the note and the crush. The crush was easier for Slim to wrap his head around. It had been drilled into his head since he joined MacKenzie and Winston’s Armed Response Team as a zombie-qualified member. It had been reinforced nearly every day Slim worked with Zombie Strike. Crush was the point where the sheer weight and volume of a zombie horde would overcome defensive measures. Things like number of defenders, heavy weapons, defensive positions, and the size of the horde affected crush. The trick was to never let your people try to fight past the crush. Unless you were Mateo Cortez, and Slim wasn’t sure if that man was touched by the divine or just touched in the head.
Then there was the note. Slim was saved from dwelling on that bitter pill by the other British field operator, Sport. Truth to tell, Slim didn’t care much for Sport. The man was too boorish and low-class, but being surrounded by Yanks and colonials forced an uneasy common ground between the two Brits. Especially considering how many times the two were paired up during operations.
“Slim, The Steve wants to know if you’re kitted up,” Sport asked impatiently. “He needs us to put some backbone in the lads.” Slim nodded to his counterpart and swallowed his dislike of the other man. Now was definitely not the time. Slim picked up the Remington 700. The Yanks needed a few more years to figure out how to make a proper bolt gun, but this one wasn’t too shabby. It was modified to accept a five round detachable magazine and had a rail along the top where a fairly decent Bausch & Lomb scope was mounted. It would do for this part of the defense. If the note was right. The two Zombie Strike field operators bounded down the stairs. Slim wasn’t sure if The Steve’s plan would work, but it was the best they had. Slim was surprised by the sudden change in The Steve. The medic’s normally laid-back attitude vanished as the team scrambled to prepare for the oncoming horde. In its place was a serious and aggressive man even Gunny was obeying. It was both scary and comforting at the same time. Slim and Sport strode out of the hotel turned command center. The hunting moans of the horde could be faintly heard in the humid night. Slim took a sip of water as he and Sport walked over to the small group of men loosely gathered around a few ATV’s. Slim recognized a couple of Gunny’s security boys, but most were mechanics, clerks, and even one from the catering staff. About half of them carried bolt guns with nightvision scopes while the rest were armed with pump shotguns.
“Good evening gents,” Slim said in his most upbeat tone, “We’ve been asked to cause a bit of havoc amongst the deadheads.” By the looks on the men’s faces, perhaps the stiff upper lip wasn’t the best route to go. “Shooters, do you understand your job?”
“Slim, there are ten thousand zombies out there,” one of the security boys said, pointing out into the darkness. “How are we supposed to slow down that kind of horde?”
“Carl, that many zombies means a close packed horde,” Slim explained, “Popping the buggers in front causes logjams. Trips them up and breaks up the horde into easier to fight groups. Most importantly, it buys time for our mates here. Make sure to pick out the biggest and meanest ones you can find.” Slim turned to the others.
“Drivers, we’re counting on you to keep us alive,” Slim said with deadly seriousness. “Watch out for deadheads that might have gotten too far ahead of the group and don’t be afraid to move. Much rather have a missed shot than to lose a team. Any other questions?” Seeing none, the shooters paired up with their drivers. Slim’s driver was one of the mechanics.
“So how did you draw this duty, Michael?” Slim asked the diminutive Australian.
“Grew up on a cattle spread,” Michael answered as he started up the ATV, “Hated horses.” The ATV shot out into the night before Slim could decipher the man’s terse response. As the ATV bounced outside the compound’s lights, Slim lowered his nightvision. The horde spanned the horizon. As expected, the horde moved like an oncoming glacier. Michael slid the ATV into a stop just under eight hundred meters from the horde. Michael drew a pump shotgun and scanned the immediate surroundings. Slim slid off the ATV into a crouching shooting stance. He worked the smooth bolt action. He gave a small prayer of thanks for the lack of wind. Exhaling, Slim pressed the trigger.
His was the first rifle to crack through the chorus of moans from the horde. The .300 Win Mag round crossed the open ground in an instant. The zombie’s head disintegrated as the bullet shredded it and shot out the rear. A second zombie, a few yards behind the target caught the still speeding bullet through the lower jaw. The bullet didn’t destroy the zombie’s brain, but it managed to sever the spinal cord before exiting the zombie’s body and landing harmlessly in the chest of a third zombie. The second zombie dropped to the ground. Several other zombies tripped over the two unmoving corpses. Slim didn’t even take a moment to see what his first shot caused. Even before the second zombie fell, Slim was taking aim on another zombie. A second shot roared in the night. More zombies down. The horde’s line became ragged in the small hundred meter arc. Slim fired three more times before slithering back up onto the ATV. The two men roared across to the next firing position. As the ATV bounced across the ground, Slim keyed his radio.
“Mountain here,” answered The Steve from the command center.
“He was telling us the truth,” Slim said, not able to keep his disgust out of his voice, “At least as far as the rifles go. This one was set up perfectly for me. First firing position a success.”
“Worry about survival,” The Steve said, “Revenge will have to come later.”
Mateo Cortez stormed out of the police station. Special Agent Tredegar of the FBI struggled to keep up. The agent waved his badge a few times to clear a path for the seething Mateo. Kenn Blanchard and a dark haired woman were waiting outside on the street.
“I’ll get my vehicle,” Tredegar said as he darted to the parking lot. Kenn and the woman stepped up to Mateo. Kenn was still dressed in the dark blue suit he had worn to testify to some Congressional subcommittee. The woman was dressed in a severe dark gray suit with her hair in a tight bun. She practically screamed lawyer.
“I was just about to come get you Mr. Cortez,” the woman said, with a smile that would have been charming under other circumstances, “I’m Robyn Adams with M&W’s legal staff.” She held out get hand.
“Not to be rude Ms. Adams, but we have a situation,” Mateo said, giving the attorney a perfunctory handshake. Kenn’s face went neutral as he saw the seriousness on Mateo’s face.
“What’s up Matt?” Kenn asked.
“You remember Ted, my wife’s new boyfriend?” Mateo asked, his voice deadly calm, “He’s a minion.” Mateo laid out what happened in the interrogation room in a few sentences.
“Let me call M&W,” Robyn said, “We can have one of our security people detain him.”
“Not a chance,” Mateo snapped, “That man is with my daughters. Not about to let someone I don’t know take him down.” Robyn was stopped from arguing as Tredegar bounced his Crown Vic onto the curb.
“Get in,” Tredegar said. Mateo, Kenn, and Robyn got into the car. Tredegar shot a questioning look at Mateo, but the Zombie Strike field commander waved it away. Kenn made introductions around as the car sped through the streets. Mateo sat quietly as his mind raced through the scenarios. At the moment, he wished the cell network was back up. Mateo didn’t even notice he had uttered the last thought.
“Here,” Tredegar said, handing Mateo a bulky sat phone. “Dial 1-1-202 and then the number.” Mateo decided not to look the gift fed in the mouth and quickly punched in Jess’s phone number.
“Matt, where are you?” Jess asked as she picked up the phone. The fear in her voice terrified Mateo.
“Ten minutes out,” Matt said, “Listen to me, Ted is a –” Jess cut him off before he could finish.
“Yeah, he’s a minion,” Jess interrupted, “I know. He tried to snatch Mercedes. Billy didn’t let him.” Mateo’s terror lessened a bit at the thought of the spirit wolf protecting the girls.
“Have you secured him?” Mateo asked, falling into the role of team leader.
“No,” Jess answered. Mateo could hear the tenseness in Jess’s voice. “Just before we could take him, Maria came into the room. Matt, he grabbed her and left. Ted has your wife.”
[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 47]
After a battle is over people talk a lot about how decisions were methodically reached, but there’s always a hell of a lot of groping around.
Deutch Bank AG’s research arm decided to advocate for a new tax. Because, according to this article from Bloomberg Wealth, “Choosing to earn a living from home once the pandemic ends is a privilege that you should pay for.”
The team propose a 5% levy for those who work from home on a regular basis and not because of a government lockdown mandate. Such a measure could raise $48 billion a year in the U.S. and about 16 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in Germany, they say, to fund subsidies for low-income earners and essential workers who are unable to work remotely.
The proposed levy would be paid by the employer if they don’t provide their employee with a desk, whereas if the worker decides to stay home based on their own needs, they would be taxed for each day they work remotely, according to Deutsche Bank Research. In the U.S., the strategists calculate, such a tax could pay for a $1,500 grant to the 29 million workers making under $30,000 a year and unable to work from home.
Let’s address the basic bullshit of this tax proposal, and pretty much all tax proposals. They always assume that people will not react to minimize their tax burden. For instance, if this tax was somehow adopted, how many employees may become contractors? How many businesses would simply reduce employee compensation to pay for this tax, resulting in loss of income tax?
All of this also ignores that those of us who work from home haven’t stopped spending money. We’ve stopped spending money in areas of the economy where we spent it before. Businesses who send their people to work from home haven’t stopped spending money. They’ve stopped spending it on the things they used to spend it on, like commercial real estate. Let the shift happen and let the new economies emerge.
This past weekend, Borepatch was nice enough to organize a blogshoot for a bunch of us.
Here is Borepatch’s initial AAR.
Here is some stuff from Miguel.
As for me, it was nifty to finally meet people who I only knew from the interwebz. It was also unusual for me, as this was done at an outdoors range. I’m used to shooting indoors, and not used to using unloaded flags. I was also unsure about when to shoot and when to be standing back. I’m also horrible about asking things. I’ll do better next. This is not a critique of the organizers, just my own foibles.
Overall, much fun was had. I also came back with more ammo than I left with due to a donation of 150 rounds of .32 from Divemedic. He no longer has a gun that shoots it, and I was more than willing to take it off of his hands.
Borepatch was talking about doing this quarterly, with the next one in February. It may also rotate locations to make it easier for others to attend.
Owen Thomas, better known to his teammates as Slim, was manning the command center as the Zombie Strike field team and support elements worked to determine the extent of the damages caused by the saboteur. How could one person cause so much damage? How could Collin have done this? Slim banished the thought as soon as it came into his head. He watched as the techs talked with the teams on scene. Jaclyn Dekker, the lead tech, quietly moved between her team. Slim had been surprised when the petite woman stormed into the command center. With assured confidence, Dekker organized Zombie Strike’s response. Slim was carefully nudged aside to let the support folks do their job. Slim knew his father would never allow anyone to even appear to undermine his authority. Another thing the Colonel got wrong. If there was one thing Slim learned in his time with Zombie Strike, it was to let the professionals do their jobs, regardless of their rank.
Slim looked down at the tablet in his hands. At least the internal network was still up. Slim flipped through the most recent damage report. All outside communications were gone. They had internal phones, WiFi, and portable radios. Unless a ship got within ten miles of the island, Zombie Strike was cut off from the world. Slim asked about the few planes, helicopters, and boats at the airfield and docks. All of them were disabled. There was a bit of good news there. In his rush, the saboteur screwed up his charges on the vehicles. The vehicles were broken, not destroyed. Still, the best estimate was twenty-four hours before they could hope to get a plane in working condition. Gunny walked into the command center. The hardened former Marine strode up to Slim. The flinty calm on the head of security’s face bothered Slim.
“Slim, what’s the status of the armory?” Gunny asked. The question caught Slim off-guard. He fumbled with the tablet as Gunny waited patiently.
“Gone,” Slim answered, looking at the most recent report, “All of the weapons, explosives, ammo, and gear are unrecoverable. The engineers sealed it up and are just letting it burn itself out.” Gunny’s face went dark.
“We’re going to need everyone to scrounge up every weapon they have,” Gunny said tersely, “Those explosions have brought in a huge horde of zombies.” Slim flipped to a perimeter camera. The horizon was crammed with staggering zombies.
“That doesn’t look right,” Slim said as he looked at the display, “Did we pull every zombie on the island?”
“Slim, there’s more zombies bearing down on us right now than this island has ever had,” Gunny said.
“Where did they all come from?” Slim asked. Gunny just shrugged in response.
“Better start thinking on how we’re going to repel all of those without any heavy weapons or air support,” Gunny replied quietly.
Mateo Cortez kept his face neutral as the new FBI agent walked into the interrogation room. This one was average height, but skinny and bookish with a long hooked nose. He carried a stack of files under his left arm. Mateo wanted to call him Ichabod. The agent’s face was a professional neutral, but there was an odd fire in the man’s brown eyes.
“Mr. Cortez, I am Special Agent Tredegar,” the man said as he sat down. The folders were meticulously spread in front of Tredegar. The FBI agent leaned forward on the table.
“I am very sorry about your friend,” Tredegar said. The words sounded flat to Mateo. Less from lack of sympathy than lack of practice.
“Thank you, but I’m not giving a statement until I see an attorney,” Mateo said coolly, “Who I’m still waiting to call.” Mateo leveled the words as a challenge. Tredegar didn’t seem to notice. He opened a folder and pushed a large photo across to Mateo.
“Do you recognize this individual?” Tredegar asked. Mateo picked up the photo, glanced at it, and then looked over at Tredegar. The FBI agent’s anticipation was barely contained.
“You’re not on Nigel’s case, are you?” Mateo asked.
“No. I work occult cases,” Tredegar admitted, slightly surprised at Mateo’s question.
“And why do you want to know if I recognize this person,” Mateo asked, tossing the picture back on the table.
“Maybe because your team fought him in Wyoming about six months ago. Maybe because unofficial interviews with Army soldiers describe someone who could bring down a Blackhawk with an energy beam shot from a knife. Maybe because I think Zombie Strike isn’t telling the American government what it knows about these people.” Tredegar dramatically spread several photos across the table.
“Special Agent Tredegar, you really don’t know what you’re messing with,” Mateo warned. “I don’t know what you think–” The sentence died as his eyes locked onto one of the pictures.
“You don’t know what Mr. Cortez?” demanded Tredegar. “What are you hiding?” Mateo didn’t answer. He stood up from the table and walked to the door. Tredegar awkwardly leapt up at Mateo. In one smooth motion, Mateo had the FBI agent pinned to the wall.
“Tredegar, if you want to find out so badly, then you can tag along,” Mateo growled into the agent’s ear. “But you’re going to do what I tell you to do.”
“I am a federal agent,” Tredegar protested weakly, “Attacking a federal agent is a serious crime.” Mateo let out a low, evil chuckle.
“One of your suspects is dating my ex-wife and right now watching my daughters,” Mateo said, “Do you really think assaulting a Fed is that high on my list?”
“I’ll drive,” Tredegar replied.
[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 46]
Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kids get used to someone being tough on them. It’s life, get over it.
All the details are here.
I’m looking forward to meeting up with some acquaintances (Hi Sean!), meeting some people I only know from the Interwebz (Hi Borepatch and Miguel!), meeting brand new people, and of course, demonstrating exactly how bad of a shot I am.
I am seriously debating whether or not to wear one of my kilts to the shoot. That will most likely depend on weather. And my personal courage.
First, let’s address a big issue. Suicide. It’s a horrible thing when someone loses all hope and decides that ending their life is the only way out. If you’re currently feeling that way, STOP READING THIS! Call the National Suicide Helpline at:
Now for the rest of the post:
I heard about this group on the Assorted Calibers Podcast (BTW, one of the podcasts that I give money for content – and you should too). Hold My Guns is working to help reduce suicide by giving gun owners a safe place to store their firearms if they’re going through a rough patch. Why is this important? Because those of us who are in the RKBA fight know that two-thirds of so-called “gun deaths” are suicides. The dirty, little secret? Gunnies are often afraid to get mental health because they’re worried that they will have their weapons taken away. AND IT’S A VALID CONCERN BASED ON WHAT SEVERAL PROFESSIONAL ORAGANIZATIONS AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE STATED/DONE BEFORE.
We need to help each other. Hold My Guns is an excellent step in that direction. Throw them some shekels (if you have any to spare.
From the website, to give you some context:
The suicide of a family friend was the catalyst for founding Hold My Guns (HMG). She was 18. After her death, heartbroken friends and family asked me, a youth rifle league volunteer instructor and certified Range Safety Officer (RSO), what can be done to help support gun owners and their family members during acute bouts of depression. Many asked why those who are suffering from an acute bout of mental illness (which can happen to anyone!) don’t simply give a firearm to a friend for safe-keeping — yet this is not always practical or legal. Solving the need for professional, legal, off-site firearms storage became my mission.
Over half of the suicides in the United States utilize a firearm. Taking a break from firearms during a mental health crisis seems wise, and is often advised by well-meaning individuals, yet it’s not as simple as it sounds and may even be illegal in some cases. In the state of Pennsylvania, for example, a gun owner cannot simply give a handgun to a friend for safe keeping. The friend must first have a license to carry. Even if the friend has a license to carry, they may not have adequate storage that secures the firearm from unauthorized use or damage. Further more, even if the friend has a license to carry and storage capabilities, they may not be someone who will respect the privacy of their friend. While some folks may have friends and family who meet these requirements, not everyone does.
It was important to me that the solution was not only a practical option, but also one that protected the individuals Second Amendment rights. Too often, gun owners are concerned about losing firearms rights and they avoid getting care out of fear of being asked about firearms by providers who do not understand the first thing about firearms or gun culture. Yet, unchecked concerns can escalate into interventions that endanger firearms rights such as involuntary commitment, “Red Flags”, and PFAs. It may feel like being in between a rock and a hard place: both in need of care but afraid to lose rights and firearms. In that vein, the solution needed to be voluntary, and one that empowered individuals to proactively seek the help they needed before private situations escalated into public ones. This proactive, supportive approach provides an option for distance from lethal means, while creating a pathway for trusted care, and helps to avoid interventions that can result in the confiscation of rights and property.