Friday Quote – Neil Gaiman

Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.

Southwest Florida Blogshoot Part II

Borepatch has announced the [date, time, and place]( for the second SWFBS. (We gotta come up with a better acronym.)

I had fun and met lots of new folks the first time around. This time I’m gonna bring Grandpa’s M1Carbine. I picked up a couple new mags for it, and I need to see how they run.

NRA Files For Bankruptcy

John Richardson over at [No Lawyers – Only Guns And Money]( is doing yeoman’s work on reporting. For those who don’t follow John’s work (shame on you), the NRA filed for bankruptcy protection for the explicit purpose of reorganizing as a Texas non-profit and evading New York’s investigation. Based on what I’m reading, let’s just say I’m highly skeptical this will work. I’m also highly skeptical that this will bring needed reforms to the NRA to make it more responsible to its members. You know, instead of the “Wayne LaPierre and Friends Slush Fund.”

John brilliantly notes that of all the creditors listed, William Brewer’s law firm (the firm that’s been “representing” the NRA against its various legal challenges) is absent. Now, I guess it would make sense that while under legal siege, you would prioritize making sure your lawyers are paid. However, much has been reported about Brewer’s cozy relationship with WLP, that I’m suspicious.

Metal Tuesday- Parasite Inc – Dead and Alive

I forget how I stumbled across this band, but I’m glad I did.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 6 – Chapter 54

Washington DC, 27 July 2010, 1130 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 5 days

Jess Montgomery stretched her aching body. She was tired, sore, and bored. She felt a little ashamed at admitting the last part, but she’d been waiting around the hospital for hours. After the docs told her about Kenn and Mercedes, there wasn’t much for her to do. Her iPod was at the hotel, and she didn’t have any music on her PDA. Mateo made sure she couldn’t after the first time she’d gone into a training operation listening to Lady Gaga.

Robyn Adams, the attorney from MacKenzie and Winston, was asleep in a chair. Jess wished she was awake, so she could ask Robyn stuff. Living on Skull Island was a little hard for the teen. The women in Zombie Strike always seemed a little intimidated by Jess. Those few who didn’t scurry away from her didn’t want to do anything with her. Jess was glad when Mateo brought her along to DC. Maria was always nice to her. They’d been sort of working out their relationship on the few times they saw each other. Something changed on this trip, though. Jess was sure it had something to do with Ted. She was even more sure since Ted turned out to be a minion.

Ms. Adams appeared to be what Jess wanted to be. She was pretty, successful, and strong. Heck, she managed to stand up to Mateo. Jess was still trying to do that without sounding like a whiny little girl. Jess didn’t know what she was hoping from Ms. Adams. Maybe some help, maybe some comfort, or maybe just a relationship that didn’t involve chasing the undead and evil cultists from one end of the earth to another. Jess let out a humorless laugh. She’d known Ms. Adams less than a day. What was she thinking?

Billy sensed Jess’s darkening mood and leaned next to her. Instinctively, Jess scratched the pup’s head. She could feel Billy’s happiness through their bond. At first, the bond scared Jess. Now, it was a comfort. She missed the pup’s namesake, but the hurt was less now. The nightmares didn’t come as often. The pup helped. Jess wasn’t sure how, but he did. It was almost as if Billy could take her bad feelings out through their bond. Satisfied Jess was a little better, Billy went back to his post. The hospital staff wasn’t too pleased to have a wolf patrolling the halls. Explicit orders from the FBI kept them from saying anything, but the nurses still gave Billy wary eyes as he trotted around the waiting room. Jess giggled as she remembered the one nurse asking when she was going to take Billy outside to do “his business.” Jess didn’t know quite how to explain to the nurse that one of Wolf’s pack didn’t have to do normal things like eat, sleep, or do “his business.”

Jess’s responsible side reminded her why she was still at the hospital. Collin was still out there. Her former teammate tried to kill Kenn twice now. The first time, Collin missed, but managed to kill Nigel, the nice man from M&W. The second time he’d hurt Kenn, but also killed a police officer, and – more important to Jess – badly hurt her little sister Mercedes. She slid her hand down her pant leg until she felt the familiar bulge of the pistol at her ankle. The police took most of her weapons away from her on the ride over to the hospital. She didn’t know if they were even aware she was carrying a back-up pistol.

The FBI posted a couple of their agents in the hospital. The two men looked like they just stepped off an FBI recruiting poster. Both were tall with a hard look about them that could have been handsome. They looked all professional in their dark suits, blue windbreakers with big yellow letters, and barely visible ear pieces. The only real difference was one had black hair, while the other was blond. Jess was calling them Agent Blackie and Agent Blondie. Jess decided after the first hour that she didn’t like either of them. They’d said less than a dozen words to her for the several hours they’d been here. Plus, they didn’t seem to like Billy much. Billy’ ears twitched, and Jess felt the warning through their bond. Billy faced the emergency room doors and growled. Danger was close. Jess shook Robyn awake. The attorney let out a string of murmured curses before looking up at Jess.

“Sorry Robyn,” Jess said, “I need you to go into that supply closet over there. See if you can call for an armed response team.” Mateo taught her a while back the best way to keep the noncombatants out of the line of fire was to give them something to do. Most of the time it worked. If not, Jess was ready to forcibly lock the attorney into the closet. The attorney immediately grasped the situation. Jess casually walked over to Agent Blackie.

“You better call off your dog. He’s disturbing people,” Blackie said dismissively.

“You better call your people,” Jess replied, mimicking the agent’s tone, “We’re about to be attacked.” Jess didn’t wait to listen to the agent’s response. If he believed her, he’d try to keep her out of the fight. If he didn’t believe her, he’d just slow her down. Billy started barking at the doors. Jess knelt down long enough to draw her diminutive Glock 33. She already stuffed two full size magazines into her pocket. As she stood up, she heard the first moans. That’s when the panic started.

People scrambled to flee the undead as the zombies shambled into the hospital. Jess found a small alcove to wait for the mass of humanity to flow past her. Getting trampled wouldn’t help anyone. She couldn’t see Billy, but there was a definite gap in the human wave about where the barking was coming from. She could feel Billy’s fierce protectiveness through their bond. Nothing was going to get close to Kenn or Mercedes without killing him.

“Get down!” Jess screamed as she stepped from the alcove. Several people dropped as they saw her approaching with her pistol raised. The leading zombies were stopped. They found people who couldn’t flee. There was no time to feel any sorrow for the screaming victims. She took aim on her first target and fired. The zombie dropped as the .357 SIG shredded its brain. Jess spared a bare instant to make sure it was down before firing on her next target. Muscle memory and long hours of training took over the mechanics of zombie-killing as Jess assessed the situation. The horde was more than fifty, even before they got a hold of their first batch of victims. That was far beyond what she could hope to hold back on her own. Maybe if Billy joined the fight they could hold the horde at this bottleneck. Why wasn’t the spirit pup moving?

“Don’t worry girl. Help is here,” said a voice from behind. Two men in street clothes stood next to her. They both drew handguns from the waists and fired indiscriminately into the horde. A few lucky rounds managed to take out a couple of zombies. The two hooted as their pistols went empty. Jess was glad she had some help. She just wished it were some people who were a little better trained. Well, it wasn’t like you could predict who would be one of those rare humans who didn’t panic uncontrollably at the sight of the undead.

“Slow down your fire and aim for the head,” Jess ordered. Why was Billy still standing there? The spirit pup stopped barking. That was new. Billy never stopped barking while there was danger. Of course, he never hesitated to join the fight either. Jess ejected the empty magazine out of her weapon. One magazine left. Time to retreat. Before she could shout the order to her two helpers, a familiar screech pierced the sounds of the battle.

The gollum hacked its way through the horde. The desiccated humanoid snarled, waving its obsidian axe at Jess and her helpers. The two men screamed and ran. Jess really couldn’t blame them. The creature was scarier than the zombies. The gollum spied the fleeing men and leapt at them. An instant before the gollum landed on the slower man, Billy slammed into the creature. The two hit the tile floor and rolled for a few feet. Like wrestlers, Billy and the gollum sprang off the ground and backed away from each other. Then, the fight got very bizarre.

The blue runes drawn on the dark gray skin of the gollum start pulsed and glowed. Almost as if in response, Billy began glowing with a soft white light. Billy’s light matched the gollum’s pulse for pulse. The two lights grew brighter. The halos of blue and white expanded with the edges of each crackling and sparking. As the two fields touched, Jess was blinded by brilliant light. She raised her hands to shield her eyes just in time for the wave of force to pick her up and throw her down the hall. The last thing Jess heard before blacking out was Billy’s howl of pain.

[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 55]

Friday Quote – Billy Chapata

Honor the friendships that allow you to pick up from where you last left off, regardless of how long it’s been since you connected. The friendships that survive hiatuses, silences and space, those are the connections that never die.

Pissing Off the Readers – Capitol Siege Edition

I am still working my way through my thoughts on last week’s riot in the Capitol Building. I know what my initial thoughts were and how some of them have lessened/modified over the last week. Here’s my current thought processes. In true fashion, it’s probably going to make everyone hate me.

  1. President Trump needs to be impeached for conduct unbecoming. The assault on the Capitol was the culmination of his refusal to accept that he lost, his consistent promulgating and/or repeating of discredited conspiracy theories, and him using his base like expendable pawns. He needs to be impeached with an eye to holding him unsuitable for office. Then let Trump run through the courts before he could even hope to make a 2024 run.

  2. This was yet another round of political violence. I do not like how political violence is becoming more and more acceptable among the general public. Here’s where my internal contradictions begin to show themselves. There is some nuance in that it was focused violence against a particular institution than just general mayhem. Like I said when the BLM riots started up, I can understand attacks on the buildings of the institutions much more than I can understand attacking the local merchants. I can’t condone it, but I can understand it.

  3. The swiftness of the various tech platforms to de-platform Trump and others has me concerned. Yes, they are private companies. Just like Wal-Mart can tell disruptive customers to leave, so can Twitter and Facebook. Here’s the nuances. Wal-Mart never held itself out as a public forum, which the social media firms have done. It’s part of the reason so many people feel violated. It’s also creepy how they work in concert against specific individuals, groups, and companies. There’s something wrong about that, but not something I can put into words. Particularly when it appears to be only one side that’s subjected to such treatment. Another part of the nuance is that leaving people without reasonable avenues to express themselves leads to bad things. Look at how many bombings the US had during the late 60’s into the 70’s. Many of those were less to cause death/destruction and more to bring notice. I am not saying tech firms would be responsible for any uptick in such happenings. I’m saying it’s something to take into consideration as a possibility.

I’m going to stop with those points as the rest of things swirling in my head aren’t really ready for prime time. Maybe a subsequent post. Honestly, I’m starting to get politic fatigue.

Metal Tuesday – Delain – Hunter’s Moon

Good one off their new album.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 6 – Chapter 53

Washington DC, 27 July 2010, 1100 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 5 days

Slim Thomas’s stomach started to unclench as the odd plane began its final descent into Reagan National. Flying normally didn’t bother him. Flying half-way around the globe in an experimental plane that constantly groaned and rattled did bother him. Where had MacKenzie and Winston dug up this ungainly craft? The insurance firm’s rep refused to answer the question. The plane groaned again followed by a metallic pop. Slim tightened his grip on the useless arm rest. He surveyed his companions. How the soldiers could just nod off as soon as they were strapped in amazed and disturbed Slim.

“Dude, are we there yet?” asked The Steve from the seat next to Slim. As soon as the Army showed up, The Steve reverted back to his normal, slightly off-kilter self. Slim didn’t know whether to be annoyed or relieved. Besides, there were bigger things to be concerned about.

“Coming in for a landing,” Slim answered, “The pilot said we should be on the ground in fifteen minutes.”

“You been awake the whole trip?” The Steve asked. Slim just nodded. “The Steve should’ve given you a nice sedative.”

“It’s okay,” Slim quickly said, “They had an Arsenal match on the telly. Made the time fly right by.”

“You’ve been awake for better than thirty-six hours,” The Steve said, “As soon as we get a chance, you need to grab some rack time. The Steve doesn’t understand why you didn’t pass out with the rest of us.”

“As if I could sleep on this death-trap,” Slim replied, “Did you know we went supersonic on this thing?”

“Kind of the point. Still much better than the time The Steve and his team had to ride in the belly of a B-1. That was not fun.” Slim looked askance at the team medic. Some of his tales seemed overly fantastical. Still, they held the odd ring of truth.

A short time later, the plane slammed down on the runway. Almost as soon as the plane slowed, black SUVs surrounded the plane and directed it into an isolated hangar. As the team deplaned, they were surprised to find their field leader waiting for them. Mateo Cortez walked over to the crowd. His face was an unreadable mask. That was never a good sign.

“How’s Kenn and your daughter?” Quentin asked. Pain flickered across Mateo’s face.

“Kenn was lucky,” Mateo said, “Bullet lanced right through him. Managed to miss vitals and just tore up muscle. Docs plugged him up. He should be up in a week or so. Longer to get fully recuperated. Mercedes is a little more serious.” There was an unspoken command in Mateo’s tone not to ask more. Mateo’s eyes flicked to the soldiers.

“Chief Warrant Officer Stahl, Mr. Cortez. Col. Allen sent us along,” Chief Stahl said, coming to attention and firing off a salute, “He thought you might need the help.” The three other soldiers followed their leader’s example. Mateo gave the four soldiers a long look and then nodded.

“Good, we’re going to need all of the operators we can lay our hands on,” Mateo said, motioning everyone towards the waiting vehicles, “Which leads us to another surprise.” A tall middle-aged man stepped out of one of the trucks. Slim’s eyes widened as he saw the weathered face and black Stetson.

“Jim, what are you doing here?” Slim asked, shocked at the man’s sudden appearance.

“I headed out here when I heard about Nigel,” Jim answered, “Once I arrived, some feds rounded me up, and Mateo gave me the rundown. The feds were nice enough to provide me with some gear.” Jim motioned sarcastically to the vest and web gear covering his normal jeans and cotton shirt. A 1911 was in a drop-leg holster that was mounted a little high. Jim used tactical gear, but he didn’t like it. The cowboy was much happier with his revolver and lever-action rifle.

“We can play catch-up later,” Mateo said, “We’ve got a minion on the loose. Collin’s talking to the FBI. Hopefully, they’ve managed to get something. As soon as we have a target, we’re moving in.” There were nods of agreement. The Zombie Strike team members and US Army soldiers loaded into the SUVs. Mateo, Quentin, and The Steve piled into the first truck. Slim opted for the second truck with Jim. The soldiers took the last truck, kicking out the FBI driver. Slim laughed at the agent’s confused face. Slim was eager to talk with Jim. He hadn’t seen the cowboy for six months. They hadn’t been close, but they fought and bled together in some nasty situations. Slim wanted to know how things were with Jim’s daughter and that lady they met back in Wyoming. Then, as soon as he sat down, all of the built-up fatigue hit him. Slim was out before the small convoy left the hangar.

Slim felt as if he’d just closed his eyes when something slammed into the truck. Adrenaline surged through him, and Slim was instantly awake. At first, he thought they’d been hit by another car. Except for the molten hole where the front passenger had been sitting. The driver was screaming in pain. The man’s suit looked like it had melted onto him. Jim was already out of the truck and moving in between stopped cars with a raised M4. Slim grabbed his bag and followed Jim.

Outside, Slim could see the frenzy. All of the cars were stopped. From the sheer number of cars, Slim guessed they were somewhere on the Beltway. The drivers were abandoning their vehicles and fleeing every which way. Below the overpass was another crowded Beltway interstate. More people were fleeing, but Slim ignored them. Standing on top of a semi was the minion. He was dressed in the black ninja costume and was waving a small rod. The end of the rod glowed with an evil red energy.

“Kill them!” the minion screamed at several hundred strong zombie horde shambling out from under the overpass. Slim stopped and stared at the minion. It was impossible, but the minion was the same height, and was about the same build. How could he have survived all those artillery rounds? How could he have made it to Washington before the team? A strong hand grabbed Slim and yanked him away. Chief Stahl roughly pushed Slim up against an estate car.

“Yeah, I know. Have to figure it out later,” the chief said as he saw Slim’s stunned face. “Right now, we’re kind of in the middle of it. Get on what gear you can.” All of them ducked as a car exploded and sent fragments screaming through the air. One of the soldiers wasn’t quite fast enough. A shard of fiberglass lanced into his chest. The digi-cam went dark as blood poured out of the wound. His comrades leapt into action.

“Medic!” Stahl calmly hollered. In seconds, The Steve was sliding next to the wounded soldier. Slim let out a relieved breath as he watched the medic’s hands dance over the wound. The Steve may be insane, but he was a miracle-worker in the field. Slim dug out his ZKC and ammo pouch. There wasn’t time to don the armor.

“Stahl, I need your people working the other side!” Mateo yelled, pointing to the far side of the overpass. “Get that horde cut down!” Stahl gave Mateo a thumbs-up and signaled to his soldiers to move. In seconds came the distinctive pops of M4’s. Slim ran over to his team.

“Where are the FBI agents?” he asked as scooted next to Quentin. The team was strung out behind a line of cars.

“They scampered as soon as they caught sight of the zombies,” Quentin said. The big man popped up and let out a short burst. As he ducked back down, Quentin looked over at Slim. “Didn’t we kill that guy back on Skull Island?”

“To be fair, it wasn’t like we found a body,” Slim said. He straightened up and took out a zombie as it tried to climb up the embankment to the overpass.

“After that much artillery?” Quentin asked, “I’d been surprised to find a body part.” He joined Slim in attacking the horde.

Mateo Cortez reloaded his M4. He didn’t expect Ted to attack him directly. That was a mistake. Even after everything, Mateo kept underestimating this minion. Was it because Ted seemed so plain when they first met? Ted fired another beam from that rod. Mateo ducked as the beam slammed a car at the front of the overpass. It erupted into fire. Mateo recognized the weapon. He should. He led the team against the minions to stop them from stealing it. Mateo thought they’d destroyed it.

Something wasn’t making sense. The Rod of Fiore was capable of reducing all of them to ash. Instead of simply killing them all, Ted was just causing random damage. Or was he? The first hit was on the car in front of the convoy. Then, other car behind them. Then, the second truck. Ted was trying to corral the team. It didn’t make any sense. They had enough ammo to take out even that sizable horde Ted brought with him. The realization hit Mateo like a hammer. Ted wasn’t trying to kill them. He was delaying them, keeping them from Ted’s ultimate target. Mateo snatched the sat phone from his belt and frantically dialed Jess’s number. Even with the gunfire surrounding them, the busy signal boomed in his ear.

[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 54]

Friday Quote – Judge Andrew Napolitano

The Second Amendment is not about hunting. It’s about the right to shoot at tyrants if they take over the government.

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