CCCG, thank you for the training you are gifting us with in each installment.
Hope you are getting some quality rest between episodes and undoubtedly the busyness of your own household. We are very anxious for the next installment but also will be happy to know that things are going well for you personally.
Kara was watching them day and night. She had made a decent hide she could work from. Her binoculars had waffle covers on the optics to prevent inadvertent flashes, not that she was worried about it much. She was deep in the shadows of her hide, obscuring her outline and any movements she might make taking notes. And making notes she did.
One good thing was they didn’t seem to be doing was a lot of woods patrols. They seemed to be concentrating on keeping their labor force and their “livestock product” contained. This was more like an area for them to come back and relax away from the city. It seemed they were here for 2-3 days, then rotated somewhere else.
Another good thing was a lack of high-tech optics. She didn’t see night vision or thermal in use here. She was sure it would be different at their city location. So far, she was figuring they had at least thirty between the two locations.
She observed at least two shipments of new arrivals, and three smaller amounts of people shipped out. She was starting to have a plan, for at least this location. The bigger problem would be the city operations. They had no idea where and how many there were in town for sure. She was getting a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach that a recon trip to town was going to be in the near future.
After lunch, Garen and Bekka were walking the land with Allyson and Angelique, working on patrol movement, hand signs, and general knowledge. They kept their voices at a whisper so they didn’t carry. Part of the purpose was to hear the sounds of the environment. Part of it was to see how they moved in the wilderness. Garen knew Allyson moved well in urban terrain, but this was a bit different.
The extended foot activity was also a good way for them to get their equipment ironed out. What felt comfortable standing in the living room was too sloppy, pinched, shifted or slid out of reach after a couple hours going up and down hills and trails.
After dinner, everybody had homework. Allyson was given a couple books on wilderness survival to work on, an old school military survival flip book, one of Selco’s books from his Bosnia experience, and Bradford Angier’s How to Stay Alive in the woods. Angelique was given different books; a Ranger handbook, A book on escape and evasion, and another military text from the Marine Mountain Warfare school. Bekka was digging into some urban combat stuff and Garen was pulling out his sniper reference materials.
I’ve immersed myself in the tasks at hand. I don’t want to think of the larger ramifications of what I am doing. I am just building equipment, or teaching how to do something, or reading books. I am trying to avoid putting it all together for now. That will come. The tiny snippets from Kara have made Garen and I both more and less worried. More worried long term, less worried about bad guys just blundering into us.
It seems we may have to work multiple locations to defang this problem. This means a return to the city, and some potential operations there. This would place us in the position of insurgent because there would be no real location we would need to defend and the entire purpose would be attrition and destruction of the enemy. We have played this role before in wargames and in training, but this would be the first time for real.
One of the biggest things will be to keep the attrition of them in such a way to not draw attention to home. If we can get them focused so much they pull their resources from the forest, we will have accomplished our primary goal. Completely eliminating them, while a good goal, can be detrimental if we get task fixated on it. It does no good to get rid of them if we all die in the process. We just have to make the profit to loss ratio too steep and they will be gone. This isn’t the movies or some novel where the brave settlers fight off the marauders. Seen what happens when real people think they can just respawn and go again. We already have a grave filled with our friends. I don’t want to dig more.
Garen couldn’t sleep. He was down in the workshop pulling out some tools he wasn’t expecting to have to use as combat platforms but were going to be perfect for some of the events he anticipated. He dug out a few rifles from the safe as well as their accessories. Most people think very little of the combat capability of a 22LR rifle. He was counting on some of its drawbacks that were attributes for urban operations. The rifles in question were a pair of Anschutz biathlon rifles. They were the pinnacle of accuracy, ruggedized for the field. They were made for 50-meter silver dollar sized targets after bouncing around on someone’s back for kilometers with no loss of accuracy. Five round magazine fed, they carried four more magazines in special slots in the stock. This meant 25 rounds of ready ammo was available before having to go to a pouch or a pack. They are bolt action, but a different type. It was a straight pull system, operated with the trigger finger and thumb without removing the rifle from the shoulder or even breaking the sight plane. These two were his and Bekka’s. these were set up with the one thing that was heresy, a threaded muzzle. Coupled with the high-quality suppressors, this was predominantly so they could shoot them in the basement tunnel without a lot of sound. In use against the bad guys, these would potentially give them an almost silent tool for leveling the playfield. 45 grain bullets would still have a decent pop at 100 meters and still be annoying at 150. They had shot at those distances accurately with these and other 22LR before. If a guy were to take a slug or two to the lungs, it will slow them down for awhile as the pneumothorax sucks off some of their endurance and enthusiasm. From the distance they could shoot from a closed bolt action, they would never even hear the shot fired, before or after. Proper ranging and trust in their aim, the two of them could have 3-5 shots in the air before the first even seems to land. If done from two different points of the compass, it will be quite demoralizing for them to get holes in them from nowhere.
He had a couple of other 22 silencers he would be fitting on the other up his sleeve ideas. He had some 22 magnum carbines he could also use. They were compact, with collapsing stocks and 30 round magazines. They would still be fairly quiet and easy to move with. It sounded counter-intuitive to use such lightweight tools against such an enemy, but the silence was the key. He wanted to trim down their numbers and effectiveness without giving them a potent enemy. They will end up trying to find the dastardly fiends. They will then run into ambushes and boobytraps. Later, once they think they have a big enough parimeter, they will break out the real sniping gear. Most people don’t realize how far away 800 meters is. From that range, people will just drop and they won’t even know where from. They will be the hunted.
Bekka came downstairs to the workshop to find Garen taping up a scope. There was a stack of spray cans of paint on the table. She looked over the target guns and back to what he was doing. Finally, after a few minutes, she had to ask.
“Ok, I give up. What’s the plan?”
Garen went through his thought processes. At the end of his spiel he looked expectantly at her.
“So, what do you think?”
“I think you need to get some sleep, your loopy.” She said with a grin. “Oh, wait, you were serious? You want to go up against guys with at least one belt fed machinegun with 22 target rifles? You are concussed, or just mad!”
“No, hear me out….”
“No Really! 22 bolt actions against AKs and belt fed. It’s ****ing nuts!”
“Ok, are you done?” Garen said, exasperated and a little hurt she didn’t see the core of his idea.
“Yeah, I’m done, but it better be brilliant, otherwise you’re back into TBI protocol and your thinking privileges revoked for a while.” Bekka stood with a stern look and crossed arms.
“Ok, if we go full bore assault, we don’t have enough bodies to do that, Agreed?”
“We go full-fledged big bore sniper, they just turtle up, pull back under cover and work it as a serious threat, all the assets try to hunt us, and so forth, Ok?”
“If, instead, we use non-military, harassment level stuff, they don’t take us serious right away. We are more of a nuisance. They assume we are just some want-a-bee’s trying to do something, but nothing effective. They will run around trying to stop these amateurs. If they think pros are working against them, they will act differently. The silencers are even more effective on the 22s with the 45 grain slugs and the range we can hit them from will be far enough to confuse them. They may never hear the shot, they just know they are hit and hurt. Any they sent into areas to find the shooters, we either vanish before they get us, or they vanish, culling the herd some more. Sooner or later they will have to consolidate their resources. Whichever one becomes the best target, we can then hit with real sniper-grade fire. Most people might know from a book that snipers can hit 600+ meters, but many have no idea how far out that looks like. With some of the stuff we have, we can stretch that string even farther. If we can pull it off, our rifles are able to go out to a thousand meters. I don’t think they have enough resources to hold a perimeter for that far out, nor enough resources to keep watch on all possible shoot sites for a radius of 10 football fields. I just was thinking of getting as many pieces off the board as possible before we dial both sides up to pro. We can also target the leadership on site, anyone give orders, directing activities, anyone showing brainpower or skill. Hell, I don’t know what all John left in his connex. We may be able to go out even farther, although it would be 70% luck. I’ve only shot farther than a grand once when we went out on that firepower demo.” The 22s are to help us to be silent and keep us confusing them as long as possible. Hell, make ‘em really confused. Make up a fake high school shooting team or paintball team or airsoft league logo, print it off on some sticker paper and we can leave the stickers at the shoot sites. They will think its high school kids making fools of them. If we can mess with their heads and keep them off balance, and especially if the little Kara sent is right, we want them to work the city and pull their assets there. That gets them away from the woods and keeps them in the dark about us as long as possible.”
“You’ve hung out with Jered too long.” She stood and thought a few, bouncing the idea around and looking for holes, finally she looked back at him. “This could work. But we need to plan it super tight and have a ton of backup plans and escape points, but it could work. You better get into those other connexes and see if we have any beautiful surprises, like maybe a tank or a bazooka.”
Garen relaxed at her provisional acceptance of his idea. He was beginning to worry if he was so far sideways he didn’t know what he was doing.
“The other connexes are on the list for today. With it being urban ops, we need to get some other stuff ready for the crew as well, drywall saws, axes, ropes, and a bunch of other sneaky stuff. Somewhere I have a bag of those tiny 9-volt strobe we can use for a bunch of stuff. We can use the 22WMR carbines as well, I can cut, recrown and thread them to make them a bit shorter and maneuverable even with the suppressors.”
“Garen, grab some paper and make a list. You need to take a nap for a bit, you’ve been up all night. We can work on a lot of this. I can cut thread and crown the carbines, and shoot them all with the paint. You need to focus on digging out some more toys from John’s secret stash.”
Garen felt a relaxation and the fatigue overcame him. The mission he had been up to do had evidently been accomplished, the thing driving his sleeplessness was done. Now he needed a little rest so he was sharp for the next tasks.
Garen woke up around noon. When he went to investigate the silent house he found the smell of paint in the workshop strong, but being pulled out by a small fan set to push air through the small potbellied stove in the corner. On the table were eight works of art. Bekka had started by cutting the barrels down on the 22WMR carbines, presumably recrowned them and threaded them because they were wearing some 22 silencers as well as painting them in a mix of tans and brown. She had also painted the biathlon guns in a more thorough coating of browns, tans, and greys. The more in depth painting of them was due to them not starting out as bland black base colors like the little carbines. The carbines also had tiny red dot sights, more sized for the top of a pistol than a carbine. He hefted one, the paint still a little tacky. Snapping the stock out to full extension, the tiny package balanced quite well without being heavy. On a sling under a coat, it would disappear at a distance.
He grabbed his keys and went down to the training building. There he found Bekka digging out the piles of various climbing gear and rigging stuff they had. She had all the carabineers lined up on a table, the ascenders in a pile, the ropes in another. A stack of harnesses and leg loops were off to one side. In her hands were pulleys and rappel devices. She was inspecting them.
Garen spoke as he approached.
“Hey, where are the girls?”
“Allyson and Angelique are out jogging the perimeter. Allyson wanted to try out the adjustments she had made to her gear from yesterday. I was talking with them about some of the things we may need to do in urban terrain. Allyson was talking about using tunnels and storm drains to move around out of sight. I told them about the same thing in Fallujah. Angelique was also talking about going building to building up high using ropes or something. That may be an option if we do things in the dark. Shoot from one more obvious building and shinny across to one with no eye line to the target area before the response gets there. That’s part of the reason I dug out all the climbing and rescue gear. If we set up the traverse prior, come in to the building from the other one, and back out the same way. No real reason for them to look in the second building for the shooters when they have the one we shot from as an option.”
Garen was following along. He was glad they all were working different ideas for this. They were all invested in the operations and the outcome. He chimed in.
“If we do it like they did in Iraq, we seal up the ground floor stairwells after we get our exits built so they know we shoot from there and they batter themselves silly trying to get upstairs, meanwhile we have already zipped out of there and pulled the ropes after us. By the time they get to where we were, we are long gone, or setting another ambush.”
“Ok, Garen, I know how I was thinking of securing the doors. We don’t have months to lay brick and concrete like Iraq. I was thinking strips of JB Weld. That way even if they blow the hinges with a shotgun, they still have to break the weld.”
“Great idea if we are close since it’s silent. I was thinking of two or three inch long self-tapping screws through the door and the frame. We have several of the battery powered impact drivers so it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes. You keep thinking, I’m going to go dig through some of John’s connexes to see what else we have to work with. When Kara checks in at sundown, tell her it’s the law of diminishing returns and hightail her ass back. We need the intel to plan with and we need her devious mind for more concepts.” He also wanted to get her back here since he didn’t like her out there with no real backup other than run like a rabbit and hide.
Kara was happy to come back from her recon. She was almost out of food, the memory card in the camera built into her binoculars was almost full, and her tolerance was maxed out. She wasn’t sure if she could contain herself any longer watching the activities down there. She had a good enough feel for what was going on there that she was sure she could pull a ghost, sweep through killing all the bad guys there and be gone in all of three minutes. But that would also tip their hand, show the weakness and attract too much focus there. Then also what do they do with the prisoners they free? They couldn’t bring them to the house, they couldn’t let them know who they were. Most importantly, even if they save the 20ish there, it would screw them for being able to stop the overall process and stop the pipeline from getting another 200.
Kara figured the average age of the people getting shipped out was about 10 to 14 years old. She had seen a person try to escape who was caught by the guards. That wasn’t a pretty sight as well. They had all the other prisoners come out into the yard to witness what happens when they try to escape. Everyone was shivering violently by the end of the several hours it took for them to show what would happen next time someone tried. This was the time she was so grateful she had been wise enough to leave a good long gun back at the house. If she had not, the field would have been filled with their bodies. Which would have screwed everything up.
Kara moved as swift as she could safely could back towards her hide site with the bicycle. She needed to get back to the house. They needed to destroy this group. They needed to make them vanish, as they had so many others.
Garen popped open one of John’s connexes. Digging around in there was like finding the warehouse the ark was stored in, no telling what he might find. One of the first was something he expected and knew was there; the cases for the subguns, along with more magazines for them and a years’ worth of training ammo for them. They could use the 10mm guns for quite a while without running dry on ammo. The same couldn’t be said for some of the other weapons John had squirreled away. He found a Barret .50 caliber, as issued to the military EOD guys. A phenomenal weapon for truly long range sniping. The 750 grain slug from a long way out hits like the fist of an angry god, long before the sound ever gets there. Garen was ecstatic, until he realized that there was absolutely no ammo for it. At all. He found some FN bullpup sub guns in 5.7mm. No ammo. A .408 Cheytac sniper rifle was in another case, also no ammo. Hell there was a Lewis gun, a drum fed machinegun right out of WWI, and there was even ammo in the right caliber, but no magazines to feed it. He was getting more and more frustrated as he went. So far the only good news was the 10mm ammo. The rest was just a tease. Finally, towards the back, he finally found something useful. There were two cased rifles, complete with ammo. Each represented pinnacles of accuracy at the time. One was a British WWII bolt action sniper rifle, in its shipping box, complete with magazines, scope and match grade ammo. The other was a 6.5 Creedmoor target bolt action along with a batch of match ammo for it. Those two, along with the 10mm ammo were the only thing worthwhile to them in that connex. He pulled them out, leaving the rest. He took them up the hill to the workshop back at the house to work with. Bekka told him Kara acknowledged the recall order and would be home hopefully in about a day and a half.