Where Did the Ammo Go?

It looks like it’s pretty much basic economic forces. As in demand is outpacing supply. It also looks like the Great Convergence of 2020 caused an unprecedented demand that the ammo companies can’t hope to keep up with. Finally, ammo companies are hesitant to build additional capacity due to the roller coaster nature of the gun/ammo market. Having seen the wild swings of the 2010’s, I can’t say I blame them.

H/t Tam

Metal Tuesday- Saigon Kick – Love Is On The Way

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 6 – Chapter 57

Approximately 20 miles from the village of Rosca, island of Corsica, 14 August 2010, 0200 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 2 months, 16 days

Mateo Cortez gripped the handhold tighter as the helicopter bucked from a sudden updraft. He learned to hate flying in choppers. They were noisy, uncomfortable, and tended to jerk at the wrong moment. Mateo was half-convinced the machines wanted to crash. Unfortunately, there was nothing better for a rapid entry into a combat zone. Another jolt made Mateo wish he’d been able to lead Collin’s part of the mission. Then, he remembered he hated sky-diving more than flying in a helicopter. That was better left to the experienced people.

“Two minutes, Mr. Cortez,” the pilot said over the headphones. Mateo held up two fingers to his team in the helicopter’s cabin. The red light cut out, plunging the cabin into darkness. Mateo took off the headphones and put on his helmet. A few quick attachments and his eyes lit up with the distinctive green of nightvision. Mateo checked his team. Jim was almost hanging out of the helicopter’s door by one hand. The other was firmly gripped on his precious Big Horn .500 S&W lever-action. The team’s resident cowboy demanded to be a part of the offensive, and Mateo was glad to have him along. Sport sat next to Jim, looking almost asleep. Sport was one of those good utility shooters. For this assault, Sport was the team’s grenadier. He carried an M4 and an XM25 20mm grenade launcher the Army lent the team. Sitting next to Mateo was Jess. The girl had become very serious over the last couple of weeks. She pushed herself almost as hard as Mateo. He knew it wasn’t healthy for her. Robyn Adams told him as much the day before. Zombie Strike’s new liaison from M&W practically demanded Mateo leave Jess behind. One look in his foster daughter’s eyes, and Mateo knew that wasn’t going to happen. The girl needed vengeance as bad as Mateo. She caught him looking at her, and she patted the SCAR-H strapped to her chest. She preferred the semi-auto rifle to her previous bolt gun. The team sharpshooter was ready. Billy, the spirit wolf pup looked up from her feet. He was ready as well. Quentin McLintock was pulling triple duty for this operation. Not only was he the team’s close-quarters person, but he was also acting as Mateo’s tactical deputy. Those two roles would have been hard enough, but Mateo knew that Kenn Blanchard, the commander of Zombie Strike, asked the big man to keep an eye on Mateo and act as the team conscience. The last member of the team was a surprise. Special Agent Edgar Tredegar of the FBI was lounging in the helicopter seat. Tredegar was acting as the team medic and intelligence specialist. Apparently, Tredegar made his way into college via the US Army, where he’d been a medic in the 101st. Mateo still thought Tredegar looked out of place in battle rattle with an M4 strapped to his chest.

Gunfire cracked over the sound of the helicopter. From the sound, it was all small-arms fire, and none of it was coming near the helicopter. Collin’s team must have made contact. Earlier than expected, but well within the plan’s parameters. Well, Collin’s team had all of the experienced shooters for a reason. Mateo looked out the opened cargo door. The town’s power had been cut an hour ago. There were a few lights, either from generators or torches. Tracers from the gun battle between Collin’s team and the town’s defenders gave the scene an almost sci-fi feel. Mateo’s stomach revolted as the helicopter dropped out of the sky only to flare to a hover a bare few feet from the dusty ground. The crew chief forcefully gestured for the team to get out. Jim, Jess, and Billy jumped out and sprinted about twenty yards away from the helicopter before crouching down with their weapons up. Sport and Quentin were the next out, hustling across the ground to their positions. Mateo and Tredegar jumped out an instant before the helicopter roared back into the night sky. The downwash pelted the team with stinging dust. Mateo remembered another reason he hated helicopters.

The team was motionless as the dust settled around them. The edge of the town was maybe three hundred yards away from them. The buildings stood in shadows, just barely visible in the team’s nightvision. Mateo waited, and listening for Billy. The spirit wolf pup wasn’t growling, so the team wasn’t in immediate danger. Even so, they didn’t have time to waste. Mateo motioned to Jim. The cowboy gave a short nod and trotted towards the town. The team filed in behind him. Jess and Billy were next, following about ten yards behind Jim. Quentin jogged behind the pair with Tredegar right behind him. Mateo came next with Sport covering their rear. All of the team was anxious as they neared their target. This mission was different than any they had done before. In the past year, Zombie Strike engaged the cult known as The Truth several times, but it was always in reaction to the Truth’s operations. Contain a zombie outbreak here, or try to prevent the cultists from stealing an artifact there. This time, Zombie Strike was on the offensive. This town was one of the Truth’s strongholds, and Zombie Strike was here to wipe it out.

Billy growled an instant before the darkness was broken by the twinkling of muzzle flashes and the distinctive sound of assault rifles from the town. The team instantly scattered as bullets kicked up plumes of dust. There wasn’t any cover on this side of the town, and precious little in the way of concealment. The team managed to duck behind sparse bushes and small rises in the ground. More weapons opened up on the team. Not ARs or AKs from the sound. Probably something German.

“Jess, Jim suppressive fire,” Mateo ordered over the team’s radio net, “Quentin, Sport, we need a hole opened up.” A chorus of double-clicks acknowledged Mateo’s commands. Jim’s rifle boomed over the puny sounds of assault rifles. One of the muzzle flashes stopped suddenly. Jim racked another cartridge and continued firing. Jess was methodically taking out targets. Her suppressed SCAR was essentially silent next to Jim’s thunderous lever-action. The incoming fire lessened as the Truth shooters were either killed or hid from the two sharpshooters. Sport and Quentin sprinted the last hundred yards to the town. Mateo waited impatiently as the two kicked their way into a small building and set up a cross-fire against their assailants.

“Matt, we’ve got them pinned down in a shop catty-corner to us,” Quentin reported after a tense two minutes, “We could use some help.” Mateo leapt to his feet and charged towards the town. The town was essentially a large diamond with several neatly laid out blocks of homes and shops clustered around what Mateo thought of as the town hall. Scattered single buildings, like the one Quentin and Sport were fighting from, dotted the edges of the town. From what Mateo remembered of the town’s layout, the bad guys were using a shop on the edge of one of the city blocks. Mateo and the rest of the team lined up behind Quentin’s building.

“Jess, see if you can get up on the roof and rain down some fire,” Mateo said. The teen nodded. She slipped around the corner with Billy in tow. Mateo wished the wolf pup was coming with him, but he had to admit he felt easier knowing the pup was guarding Jess. Directly across from Mateo was a vacant lot the town had been using as an impromptu dump for large appliances. Discarded ovens, refrigerators, and other junk were scattered across the grass and gravel lot. It wasn’t great cover, but it would have to do. The bad guys opened up with a new fusillade. Mateo ducked into the scrap lot with Jim and Tredegar in tow. A couple of the more observant bad guys saw the three men running and fired bursts at them. Bullets panged off of metal. Close. Too close. That just wouldn’t do. Mateo rose up just enough where the building was in sight. He could see maybe a dozen or so pale green figures in what had been a café across the street. Mateo aimed and squeezed the trigger. The suppressed M4 stuttered like an electric typewriter. The figure collapsed to the ground. Tredegar dropped another. Then, Jess opened fire from her roof perch. Three went down in less than three seconds. Another two went down, victims of Quentin and Sport. The remaining five threw their weapons out into the street and raised their hands. Under the cover of Jim and Jess’s rifles, Mateo ordered the bad guys out into the street.

Four of the five were just townspeople, not active members of the Truth. Mateo didn’t feel any guilt as he watched them zip-tied. These men weren’t innocent people defending their town from invaders. Zombie Strike had good intel the townspeople were willing partners of the Truth. Whether it was because they believed in the Truth’s mad plan or just because they wanted the Truth’s money wasn’t clear. In the end, it didn’t matter. If they were willing to take up arms in defense of the cult, they were targets. If they surrendered, Mateo was willing to tie them up and stash them until the fight was over.

Tredegar had the last man off to the side with his arms bound behind him and lying on his stomach. This one was definitely a member of the cult. He was maybe twenty, if a day, with his brown hair in a fashionable cut. At least, that’s what Jess said. Duct tape across his mouth muffled the unending string of angry protests. Tredegar was busily sorting through the contents of the cultist’s jeans and out-dated web gear.

“Anything useful?” Mateo asked.

“Doesn’t look like it,” Tredegar said. “He’s just a flunky. Probably not even one of their Champions.” Mateo grimaced as Tredegar used the cult’s name for what Zombie Strike called minions. It felt like the special agent was giving the cult respect it didn’t deserve.

“I’ll check the ones that didn’t survive the fight,” Tredegar said, starting to walk to the bodies.

“We don’t have time for an investigation,” Mateo said. Over the past two weeks, Mateo gained a newfound respect for the investigative abilities of the FBI special agent and his colleagues. They could do some amazing detective work, but they did it at a methodical pace. Excellent for preparing a criminal case. Not so much in the middle of an operation.

“Five minutes?” Tredegar asked. Mateo scanned the surrounding area. No sign of additional bad guys. He nodded. Tredegar took two steps towards the café before he stopped suddenly and cursed. Mateo looked back as the dead began to rise.

“Team, we get to kill them twice,” Mateo announced over the radio as he brought up his M4.

[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 58]

Friday Quote – Frederic Bastiat

IF the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of makind?

State of the Podcasts 2021

This is the fourth year I’ve reviewed which podcasts I listen to, how I listen to them, and when I listen to them. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go. Here are my previous years’ entries:

State Of Podcasts 2018

State of Podcasts 2019

State of Podcasts 2020

I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I prefer Overcast because the app deletes podcasts I’ve listened to, plus it has a smart speed feature which will speed up if it hears dead air. Generally, I listen to my podcasts at 2X speed.

An issue I ran into last year was podcasts that fit into multiple categories. So, instead of trying to put each podcast into one category, I’m adding all the applicable categories to each podcast. I also used to designate a podcast as promotable. What I’ve found is that I’m trying to get podcasts around current events (i.e., have a shelf life) up to the top. The rest I listen to as I have time.

Podcast Categories

Comedy – One of the central themes of the podcast is making me laugh

Debate – The podcast uses a formal debate format

Economics – Discusses economic theory and impacts

Entertainment – Main subject matter is an entertainment form or persons

Free Speech – Discussing the current issues and assaults on free speech culture and laws

Government – Discusses the review of government operations

Guns – Discussing gun hardware and associated technology and skills

History – Delving into history in general or one facet/era

Legal – Discussing legal cases and theories

Libertarianism – Discusses libertarian theory

Interview – Substantial episodes interviewing guests

Opposing Views – Hosts regularly espouse politics or theories that are substantially different to my own

Prepping – Discussing prepping gear, methods, and skills

Politics Of The Day (POTD) – Discussion of current political events

Right To Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) – Discusses issues around gun rights

Science – Discussing current science news and skepticism-related issues

True Crime – Podcast is a narrative/story of real crime events

War – Discusses issues surrounding armed conflicts

Writing Improvement – Helps me improve my writing

My podcasts as of March 2021: 13 Hours Inside the Nova Scotia Massacre (True Crime, Writing Improvement) – This podcast relates the events surrounding an active shooter event in Nova Scotia in 2020.

Advisory Opinions (Legal, POTD) – David French and Sarah Isgur discuss legal issues and theory on the politics of the day. With some pop culture on the side.

Alienating the Audience (Entertainment, Libertarianism, Interview) – Andrew Heaton brings on guests to discuss different aspects of various science-fiction properties.

All the Presidents’ Lawyers (POTD, Opposing Views, Legal) – I picked this one up because Ken White is one of the hosts. It’s a different perspective on Trump’s – and soon to be Biden’s – legal issues than most of my normal feeds.

Angry Planet (War, Interview, Opposing Views) – Formerly known as War College, this podcast is an interesting look at politics and military issues through interviews with specialists.

Assorted Calibers Podcast (RKBA, Guns, Entertainment, Interview) – Weer’d Beard and Erin Pallette are the real reason I listen to this, but the other segments are generally surprisingly good. I’m also a patron, and listen to the Mag Dump round tables, Film Tracks, and Blooper Reels.

Black Man With A Gun (Guns, RKBA, Interview) – After an almost year-long hiatus, Kenn Blanchard continues his musings on gun rights, the black community, and other issues. Yes, I have a fondness for Kenn’s podcast since I wrote the Zombie Strike segment for a few years.

Blocked and Reported (Free Speech, POTD) – Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal discuss the various social media dust-ups with occasional interviews.

Bound By Oath (Legal, Libertarianism) – From the Institute for Justice, this podcast focuses on specific issues. The current season is focusing on the myriad of protections and immunities public officials enjoy.

The Bradenton Times Podcast (Interview, POTD, Opposing Views) – This podcast is focused on my local area. I’m using it to get better acquainted with the ins and outs of Bradenton, Manatee County, and the Sarasota area. It’s still new enough that I’m not sure if I have all the categories correct.

Bribe, Swindle, and Steal (Interview, True Crime, Opposing Views, Writing Improvement) – This one popped up when I was searching for podcasts on white-collar crime. It focuses on issues, challenges, and items that are of note for compliance officials.

Cato Daily Podcast (Libertarianism, Economics, Interview, POTD) – A good quick podcast that covers various topics from a libertarian viewpoint.

Cato Events Podcast (Economics, Libertarianism, POTD) – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. Some, not so much. I would recommend listening even if the subject doesn’t seem interesting. I’ve been surprised by what I learned.

Clockwise (Tech) – Two hosts and two guests discuss four tech topics in thirty minutes. Sometimes those topics on current tech news. Sometimes it’s just musing on tech and life. Generally enjoyable.

Daily Tech Headlines (Tech) – Good fast summary of the big tech stories.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (History, Writing Improvement)- Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various historical events is spellbinding. Unfortunately infrequent, which can be a bit daunting since he does multi-part stories. I highly recommend, when possible, going back and relistening to the previous parts before continuing onto the new one.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Addendum (History, Interview, Writing)- A companion to the Hardcore History podcast where Dan Carlin does segments outside his normal narrative style.

The Dispatch Podcast (POTD, Interview) – The flagship podcast of The Dispatch network, the Wednesday show has the main hosts discussing the politics of the day, while the Friday show is an interview with a newsmaker, thought provoker, or just someone the hosts like.

Econtalk (Interview, Economics)- Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot on economics, and even more on some wildly different topics.

The Economist (POTD, Opposing Views)- I listen to the Economist, because it provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds.

The Editors (POTD) – Editors from National Review discussing the issues of the day. Part of my keeping an idea of the conservative side of the issues of the day.

FBI Retired Case File Review (Interview, True Crime, Writing Improvement) – A former FBI Special Agent and current author interviews retired FBI agents about the cases that had a unique impact on them.

The Femsplainers (Interview, POTD, Free Speech, Opposing Views) – The hosts discuss free speech, free thoughts, and feminism of the issues of the day.

The Fifth Column (POTD, Free Speech, Opposing Views) – This is an excellent roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. They also bring on guests who will disagree with them and have excellent discussions.

Firearms Nation (Guns, Interview) – Interview podcast with leading competition shooters and others to discuss both competition and practical shooting techniques and strategies. I’ll be honest, if they’re just discussing how to make you a better competition shooter, I’m more likely to bypass it. However, they have had some great interviews on self-defense and self-defense scenarios.

Free Thoughts (Interview, Libertarianism) – The hosts interview authors who promulgate new books that cover or intersect with libertarian issues and theories.

GAO Podcast (Interview, Government) – The Government Accountability Office discussed some of their reviews they’ve done on federal agencies.

Geeks Gadgets and Guns (Guns, Tech, Entertainment, POTD, RKBA) – A couple of geeks discussing guns and other geeky stuff – with sometimes politics intruding.

GLoP Culture (POTD, Entertainment) – The hosts muse on the POTD, and the entertainment industry.

Gun and Gear Review (Guns) – This is a good review podcast for new stuff in the gun world. I enjoy the reviews and the banter between the hosts.

Guns Guide To Liberals (RKBA) – This is a good podcast focusing on techniques to use when talking about guns and RKBA to those who don’t share our views.

Handgun Radio (Guns, Interview) – Delving more into the history and technological aspects of guns – mostly handguns. Also, just fun musings on different aspects of guns. Sometimes they bring on interesting guests.

Handgun World (Guns, Interview, RKBA) – Bob has good information on carrying and self-protection, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil.

High Caliber History (Guns, History, Interview) – Logan Metesh interviews specialists on the history of guns, as well as lending his own vast expertise.

The History of WWII Podcast (History, Interview) – This one is going through WWII chronologically, with interview episodes interspersed.

The Incomparable Game Show (Comedy) – Rotating panels playing rotating series of ostensibly board games. Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving.

Left, Right, & Center (POTD, Opposing Views) – This covers the week’s political events with a progressive, a conservative, and a host who’s a left-leaning centrist. Guests are brought on to provide additional commentary – who have been overwhelmingly on the left-side of the aisles.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen (POTD) – Charles Cooke and Kevin Williamson opine on the issues of the day and other things that amuse them.

Make No Law (Free Speech, History, Legal)- Ken White delves into the case law around the First Amendment and free speech. Unfortunately infrequent.

Managing Uncertainty (Prepping, Writing Improvement) – This podcast is mainly focused on risk management from an organizational standpoint, but I find it’s useful as a prepping exercise as well.

The Michael Shermer Show (Interview, Science, Opposing Views) – Michael Shermer interviews scientists, scholars, and other intellectuals on a variety of topics.

The One With Greg Gutfield (POTD, Interview, Entertainment) – Sometimes Greg interviews a variety of guests. Other times, it’s just clips from his tv show.

Part of the Problem (POTD, Libertarianism)- Rabid anti-war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Particularly when he veers over to the conspiracy theories.

Polite Society Podcast (RKBA, POTD, Interview, Opposing Views) – The hosts interview people in the RKBA movement, while also discussing news (often gun-related), and self-defense analysis.

The Political Orphanage (Interview) – Andrew Heaton interviews a variety of individuals to discuss issues. Not necessarily just the POTD.

Pop & Locke (Entertainment, Libertarianism, Opposing Views) – This one looks at pop culture media (books, TV, movies) through the libertarian lens. Sometimes the panel goes a little more woke than I appreciate.

Popular Front (Interview, War, Opposing Views) – A look into smaller conflicts going on or unusual aspects of modern warfare.

The Portal (Interview, Free Speech, Economics) – Eric Weinstein discusses a variety of subjects with guests. Very high-intelligence demanding.

Power Problems (Interview, Libertarianism) – A Cato podcast focusing on foreign affairs.

The Pursuit (Libertarianism) – The first season was a great overview of government seizures of private property, with the second going into various abuses of power by the government.

Quillette Podcast (Interviews, Free Speech) – Interviews and articles focusing in on free speech issues and cancel culture.

The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie (Interview, Liberatarianism) – Reason editor interviews a variety of guests. This would be an even better podcast if they had a different host.

The Reason Roundtable (POTD) – Four editors from Reason discuss the issues of the day.

The Remnant With Jonah Goldberg (Interview, POTD) – The Wednesday show is interviewing pundits, politicians, and others. The Friday show is Jonah musings.

Revolutions (History, Writing Improvement) – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution.

The Rewatchables – (Entertainment) Variety panel of guests discussing a movie that is considered highly rewatchable. Depending on what movie they’re reviewing, if it’s one I haven’t seen, I’ll delete it.

Roboskull Cast – (Entertainment) A Robotech podcast where the hosts go through the episodes and the new comics. One has seen the series, one is watching it, and neither were old enough to watch in ’85. The hosts are finished up with the series and the movies, so new podcasts are going to be light on the ground unless/until something Robotech-media breaks (new comics, movies, etc)

Self-Defense Gun Stories (Guns) – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This is another I recommend to new shooters and those who are thinking about using a gun for self-defense.

Short Circuit (Legal, Libertarianism) – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is arguing. I put it under libertarian theory rather than politics because it discusses legal libertarian arguments rather than issues of the day.

Skeptics Guide to The Universe (Science, Opposing Views) – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism.

Skeptoid (Science) – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It takes a particular pseudo-science claim and investigates with a skeptical eye.

So To Speak (Free Speech, Interview) – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. The guests and legal theories put this more into theory although it sometimes delves into the issues of the day.

The SoHo Forum Debates (Debate, Economics, Libertarianism, Opposing Views) – Oxford-rules debates on a variety of issues.

Techmeme Ride Home (Tech) – This is a relatively short, but thorough examination of the big news in tech.

The Tom Woods Show (Economics, Libertarianism, Interview, POTD) – A mainstay of the Mises wing of the libertarian world interviews and discusses events and theories.

Unregistered with Thaddeus Russell (Interview, Libertarianism, Free Speech, Opposing Views) – Thaddeus interviews a varied list of guests he finds intriguing. Some are very interesting, some less so.

The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe (Entertainment, History, Writing Improvement) – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute.

Words & Numbers (Economics, Libertarianism, POTD, Interview) – An economist and a political scientist discuss different aspects of economics from a libertarian perspective. Sometimes dipping into issues of the day.

Random Thoughts Part Something Or Other

  1. I’m vaccinated! Since I work for a healthcare system, I was offered the COVID vaccine. Last week, I received my second dose of the Pfizer. Yeah, that did a number on me. Not as bad as some, but enough to give me flu-like symptoms for the night. Still, I’d much rather feel like crap for a night. From my reading, full protection will take a couplem ore weeks..

  2. The brother-in-law and I went to the local gun show. I mainly went to see if I could pick up some .30 carbine for the blogshoot. One dealer had .30 carbine – for $60/box. I really wish I’d had the cash on hand when all that Korean surplus was hitting Lucky Gunner. I’m still keeping my eye on that.

  3. Speaking of the local gun show, as we were leaving, I was snagged by a particularly aggressive salesperson of one of the big gun shop chains on the west coast. I told him I was looking for a “non-AR, AR.” I wanted something that would take standard mags, but not an AR. I was thinking maybe a SCAR (fecking expensive) or maybe an AUG. He shows me the pistol version of a CZ Bren 2. Yeah, I’m thinking this might be a nice little carbine. Now, if I can just scrape up the cash.

  4. Massad Ayoob had a little blurb about putting Harriet Tubman on the $20. If it’s the picture of her holding her hand out while brandishing a revolver, then I’m all for it. This is a woman that needs to be celebrated. Plus, it’s good to remind people that defending one’s liberty sometimes requires the best tools available.

Metal Tuesday- Warrant – Heaven

For this month, I’ve decided it will be all glam metal ballads. So, we start with Warrant.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 6 – Chapter 56

Washington DC Beltway, 27 July 2010, 1245 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 5 days

Mateo Cortez felt something hot and hard pushing on his back. It took a few moments for him to realize he was lying on the asphalt. Why was he on the ground? Oh yeah, that entire trailer went up like a baby nuke. Grunting with effort, Mateo managed to roll over. He couldn’t see any of his team. Come to think of it, the road around him didn’t look like the overpass. He cricked his neck around. Sweet Savior, he was maybe three hundred feet from the overpass. What remained of the overpass, at any rate. Dear God, how had he survived that explosion?

“Finally, you’re awake,” said a familiar voice. Mateo looked up and met Ted’s eyes. The minion was sitting on the remains of a sedan. His ninja suit was riddled with bloody rips. Ted wasn’t even wearing his mask. Mateo’s hand traveled down his side to his sidearm. It wasn’t there.

“If you’re looking for this, I’ll give it back to you in a bit,” Ted said, holding up Mateo’s Sig. “I really wanted to kill you. I really wanted to kill your team. But no, Mikhail said you have to be alive. So, instead of just stepping away when you blew up my truck, I actually had to save all of your hides.” Ted slid off the wreckage and stood over Mateo.

“You know, killing Kenn and your wife and wiping out your little base on that island was supposed to be messages, but you and your team are just too thick in the head to understand,” Ted said. “Let me explain it all to you. You are not going to win. You are not going to stop the Truth. This is prophecy. If you keep trying to stop us, we are going to keep doing horrific things to the people you love. So do us all a favor, quit.” Ted actually sounded compassionate. Mateo grumbled a sentence.

“What did you say?” Ted taunted, bending down to place his ear next to Mateo’s head. Mateo let the adrenaline take over. The blade flashed in the noontime sun a brief instant before Mateo planted it in Ted’s eye socket. The minion let out a horrific scream as blood splattered across Mateo. Both of Ted’s hands flew to his face as he gripped the slippery handle of the blade. The Zombie Strike field commander slowly stood up.

“I said I’m going to stab you in the face,” Mateo said, gritting the words out in pain. He took two slow steps and picked up his pistol. Mateo worked the slide, feeling the bullet slide into the chamber. Pain and stiffness made bringing the pistol up a slow and arduous effort. Fortunately, Ted was preoccupied with trying to get the knife out of his head. Mateo had all the time in the world. The double-tap scattered Ted’s brains across the highway.

Before the body even started to fall, a wave of white energy erupted from Ted. The tidal wave of energy passed through Mateo like a ghost and continued speeding out in a circle. Mateo felt like he had been released from manacles. All of his pain and fatigue dropped away. Mateo felt better than he had in months. Even old injuries long since ignored were healed. As Mateo looked around him, he could see his team members standing up from where they landed. From their exclamations and movements, they too had felt the healing energy. Mateo waved them over. They still needed to get to his daughters. Mateo yanked his knife out of Ted’s lifeless corpse. He did a quick search. The Rod of Fiore was gone. Mateo kept Ted’s wallet and some bits and pieces that looked like they would be interesting to the intel folks. Two engines started. They sounded surprisingly loud against the quiet of the abandoned highway. A Mercedes sedan and a large Ford SUV roared up next to Mateo.

“Where to, boss?” The Steve asked from the SUV’s driver’s seat.

“Washington Hospital Center. And floor it.”

Washington Hospital Center, Washington DC, 27 July 2010, 1230 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 5 days

Jess Montgomery stared at Collin for just an instant. Then, she snapped the pistol up. Collin almost looked annoyed as he darted to the side. One strong hand gripped her wrist while the other plucked the pistol from her hand. Jess twisted and jabbed with her left. Collin dodged the punch easily, but he was clearly surprised by the move. He shouldn’t have been. This man had been one of Jess’s teachers for the better part of a year. Collin tucked the pistol in the small of his back before dropping into a loose fighting stance. At least he took her somewhat seriously. Jess fell into a stance Collin drilled into her. His eyebrow crooked upward. She just needed to hold his attention for just a bit longer. Collin realized an instant to late that Jess was just the bait.

Billy pounced on Collin. The spirit wolf was back to his normal size, but that was still huge. Almost three hundred pounds of wolf slammed into Collin. Billy and Collin slid nearly twenty feet across the tile floor before stopping. Collin punched Billy in the side, but the pup didn’t move. Billy just growled.

“Let him up,” said a commanding voice. Kenn Blanchard, dressed in some borrowed scrubs limped into hallway. Jess beamed when she saw the Zombie Strike commander. She dashed over to him. He grunted in pain as she enveloped him in a fierce hug.

“Easy sweetie, I’m not that healed up,” Kenn grunted. Jess chuckled and let go. She motioned to the spirit pup. Billy backed off of Collin. The former SAS commando leapt to his feet. With his head hung, Collin slinked up to stand in front of Kenn. He never saw the right cross. The punch landed with a meaty thwack. Collin staggered back before falling to the floor. Kenn took a step, but an FBI special agent slid in front of him.

“Ease away Mr. Blanchard,” Special Agent Tredegar said. The FBI agent looked uncomfortable in the tactical rig. “Mr. DuBois was not the one who shot you.” Kenn and Jess paused in surprise.

“We also know about the events surrounding the death of Nigel Brown,” Tredegar said. Kenn’s face fell into a sorrowful look. Jess could tell there was something going on that she wasn’t in on.

“What’s going on?” Jess asked of the three men.

“Yes, please, tell us what is going on.” Mateo’s voice boomed through the hallway. Jess saw the glint of anger in her foster father’s eyes as he walked in. Behind him, the other members of Zombie Strike waited with neutral faces.

“Collin came to me a couple of weeks ago,” Kenn admitted, his voice husky, “He told me that he was being blackmailed into killing me. We figured it would be a good chance to get a mole into their operation. We had it all planned out, but then Nigel stepped in front of the bullet.”

“And you didn’t tell me because?” Mateo demanded.

“Neither of us thought you’d be able to pull it off,” Collin said, “Matty, you’re a good leader, but you can’t lie to save your life. We needed to sell it. We weren’t sure what kind of spies Giant and his people have.”

“Wait, if Collin didn’t shoot Mercedes, then who did?” Jess asked.

“The best evidence supports either Ted or another member of the Truth,” Tredegar answered, “Apparently, they didn’t trust Mr. Dubois to finish the job.” Mateo stormed back out of the hospital. Jess chased after her foster father. There was an uncomfortable silence as the members of Zombie Strike stood hard-faced at Collin. Slim was the first to speak.

“You bloody piker,” he said, “You blinded us and disarmed us right when ten thousand of the undead attacked.” Collin’s eyes widened at the number. “You may have left us some supplies and some intel, but we lost people during that assault. People you knew.” Collin didn’t flinch. He just stood there as Slim’s words lashed at him. “What, no pretty excuse to spring yourself?”

“I was told what to do by one of Giant’s minions and when to do it,” Collin said, “I managed to guess the rest, but I had no idea they would use that many zombies against Skull Island. I don’t even know how they could have gotten that many zombies on the island.” Collin shook his head. “What do you want from me, Slim?”

“Vengeance,” Slim said with an air of finality.

“You’ll get it,” Mateo said, rejoining the team. Jess followed behind him. She was trying her best to hide the tears that stained her cheeks and reddened her eyes. Mateo must have told her about Maria.

“The minion we fought today told me that all of this was a warning to us to stay away from them,” Mateo said to the gathered group, “We’ve been fighting this Truth group for nearly a year now. We’ve lost more than we’ve won, but they’ve still gone to great lengths to deal with us. I am tired of playing catch-up to these people. It’s time to make them dance to our tune.”

“Sounds good Cortez, but exactly how do you plan on doing this?” Chief Warrant Officer Stahl asked.

“They had to launch all of this from somewhere,” Mateo said, “We have the resources of the FBI and M&W at our disposal. We’re going to find them. Then, we’re going on the offensive.”

[Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 57]

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

The reason so many people misunderstand so many issues is not that these issues are so complex, but that people do not want a factual or analytical explanation that leaves them emotionally unsatisfied.

Family Stuff

The past weekend had some interesting points: 1. The new house has the drywall up, so we went to do some measurements and generally see the progress. During which we found out that the air return is in a slightly different place than at the model. Which means the new entertainment center we bought last weekend won’t fit. Fortunately, since everything is on long lead times, switching out to the next size down isn’t a problem.

  1. We cleaned out the attic. Most of which was The Wife’s forgotten decorations for various holidays. Most was donated or tossed, but we do have three bins going to the storage unit. I have informed The Wife that I am opposed to anything going up into the new attic because I don’t want to root around on a ladder, and we have a tendency to lose stuff up there.
  2. The wife has a bunch of afghans and crocheted pillows. The sister-in-law suggested we use those vacuum bags. They helped a lot and it was fun seeing the pillows compress down.
  3. We had WiFi problems on Saturday. At first, I was worried that we were going to have to go out and pick up new routers. Doing some troubleshooting with her nephew, I just needed to switch out the Ethernet cable. Good news, I didn’t have to spend the money for a brand new Eeros mesh. Bad news, I didn’t get a brand new Eeros mesh. Maybe if the new house has issues with my current Eeros, we’ll face the same dilemma.
  4. The Wife’s niece needed a babysitter because she had an early shift on Sunday morning. The original plan was for the niece to deliver The Infant to us at O-Dark-Early. After discussions, this led The Infant having her first sleepover at our house. Yeah, not much sleep as The Infant was very fussy. I’ve also heard Baby Shark more over the weekend than I had up to Sunday morning.
  5. Also setting up the baby monitor resulted in me finding out my refurbished security camera base station decided it doesn’t like me anymore. And it’s outside of the return window. I’m going to try and fix it, so I don’t need to get a new one. They ain’t cheap.
  6. During all the packing this weekend, I’ve come to realize this move is more emotional for The Wife than me. She’s spent the better part of twenty years in our current place. Which is the longest she’s lived anywhere. Sometimes, I have to just respect that. It’s much different for me. When I moved down from my home of fifteen years, it didn’t feel like I was severing something, but more like coming home. We’re both very excited over the new house, but I have to keep in mind that there’s a tinge of bittersweet for her.

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